Vegan for a Week Challenge

31 Jan

I seem to be all about the challenges these days.

A couple of weeks ago my coworkers invited me to participate in a 7-day vegan diet challenge, naturally I accepted.  This is probably the easiest challenge I’ve taken on, but I’m happy I’m doing it nonetheless.

You may recall that one of my new year’s resolutions was to adopt a vegan diet 90% of the time.  While I had good intentions this hasn’t really been happening and I’ve found myself eating dairy even when a vegan option was available.   So, it’s time to really get into the spirit of things and take this challenge on.

Finishing up day 2, I’ve had no issues sticking to the diet but I know a few of my fellow participants are having a bit of a tough time, so this post is for them.

The key to following a healthy vegan diet, like any diet, is balance.  It’s important that you incorporate proteins, healthy fats and complex carbohydrates into your diet in addition to the veggies.  Otherwise you’re going to be low on energy and half-starved for most of the day.  While I’m admittedly among the first to roll my eyes when asked where I get my protein, I do recognize that it is not always obvious among carnivores.

So in addition to the veggies and fruits you’ll find in my fridge, here is what you’ll find in the pantry to help complete my meals to give them a bit more substance.

–          Beans and legumes: lentils, beans, chickpeas, etc…  These are great for making veggie burgers, soups, popping into stir-fry’s, making dips and hummus, and beefing up your salads, and so much more.   These really are my go-to when I’m in need of adding a bit of protein to a meal.

Lentil stuffed portobello mushrooms

–          Tofu: I know, I know, it’s been getting a bit of a bad rep lately but having some tofu once in a while isn’t going to kill you and it is a good source of protein for vegetarians and vegans.   Remember, the key to good tofu is pressing all that moisture out.  One of my favorite ways to prepare it is mix together 1lb. diced tofu with ¼ c. olive oil, 3 tbsp lemon juice, 1 clove of garlic minced, and some dried basil, oregano, and salt and pepper.  Bake it in the oven or fry it until golden and crispy.  Delicious!

Tofu with peanut sauce and rice noodles is pretty good too 😉

–          Quinoa: not only is this ancient grain an antioxidant, but it also packs a pretty decent amount of protein, fibre and magnesium- a bonus for you migraine sufferers ;).  Try subbing quinoa in place of brown rice in your stir-fry’s or adding it to your soups and veggie burgers.

 

–          Nuts and seeds:  high in protein and monounsaturated fats, nuts and seeds are great on their own or for adding some protein and density to your salads.  Whenever I’m in need of a quick snack I like to reach for some nuts, seeds and dried fruit.  My favorite is a ¼ cup mixture of almonds, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries and apricots.  This will tide you over nicely to dinner when that 3pm potato-chip craving hits.

Other items;

–          Olive oil and avocados- you need healthy (read: monounsaturated) fats to maximize the amount of nutrients your body absorbs in those salads so I always keep some extra-virgin olive oil on hand for salad dressings along with some avocado’s.

–          Grains and Pastas: I’m a runner and I need carbs plain and simple, and as much as I would love to simply live on bread and pasta alone, I know that’s not always the best option.  I like to keep a variety of grains in my pantry including couscous, rice and quinoa.  These help round out my meals and make sure I give me the energy to run longer and faster.

So there you have it, some vegan staples in a nutshell.  At the end of the day, a vegan diet can be both simple and satisfying.  It’s just a matter of getting past the meat and understanding what your body needs to keep you going all day long.

Would you ever consider doing a vegan challenge?

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2 Responses to “Vegan for a Week Challenge”

  1. phil January 31, 2012 at 10:54 pm #

    Awesome I may have to have Grace and I try this Challenge. It will be neat to see what we have to cut out to stay on track. Thanks for the Challenge.

    • Tess and Jess February 1, 2012 at 8:46 am #

      (Jess) Good luck Phil- let me know how it goes 🙂

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