A Working Vegan Household Cook – Survival Tips

5 oclockSo, if you have been reading daily this month: first, bless your heart and then second, you may have noticed that I missed yesterday. I’m finding it a challenge to post daily all month, mostly because I don’t cook vegan food daily. Yep, that’s what I said.

Like many of you, I work outside the home and am also engaged in the activity of feeding my family. And that requires some negotiation of expectations (mine more than theirs) about what it means to provide a meal.

There are a number of strategies that I use to cope with the multiple challenges of working, feeding my family, getting some exercise time, doing household chores, and not losing my mind.

First, I have let go (mostly) of the idea that I need to be the cook every day. I don’t like to order out, but about once every week to ten days, we do. Last night, I was bone tired, busy, and annoyed. Mr. non-VeganAsana recommended we order pizza or something. I felt a little bad because Ms. VeganAsana Jr. was home from college and I thought I should make her a home cooked meal. But, ultimately, we ordered the pie. For the vegans, we got this great pizza from a local place, Stella’s, that is called the Salad Pie. It’s a salad on pizza crust. I meant to take a picture, but I ate it instead.

Second, I plan the week’s menu ahead so that I don’t spend a lot of time each day trying to figure out what to make. I don’t assign meals to days, because I like the flexibility of being able to decide which item to make which day depending on my time and energy level. The only exception I made to that is that I typically make the “meat” (sorry) meals early in the week right after we grocery shop.

Third, when I make something really labor intensive, like lasagna or eggplant non-parm, I try to make enough to freeze a second batch. Knowing you have a homemade meal in reserve is a good feeling.

Fourth, but related, I have embraced the leftover. When there are leftovers in my house, if they are vegan, they will be eaten. I’ll use some for lunches, but the rest will be served for dinners. I have no hesitation in repurposing items to serve them again. Chili becomes nachos or chili dogs. Spaghetti with marinara becomes spaghetti casserole. Recycling rocks.

Fifth, I have stopped feeling like I have to feed everyone, or even anyone, all the time. Three evenings a week, I have a yoga class pretty shortly after I get home and don’t want to eat beforehand. Now that Ms. VeganAsana is away at school, I just don’t bother to make a vegan meal, necessarily, on those days. If the meal I’m making happens to be vegan, that’s great, but if the omnis want something more omni (and especially if that something is also easy), then that’s what I make. I am also willing to let people forage now and then. Remember those leftovers? Those are fine to be eaten, and if the teens don’t want them, they will not expire from eating PB&J or making themselves another type of sandwich or some quick nachos from canned beans.

Those are my key strategies for making it through a week.

They are also part of why I started having VeganMoFo burnout at the end of the month, because I just don’t cook enough vegan items each week to post pictures of. I’m pretty ok with only having missed one day this month! As always, it was good to participate in the MoFo and to see what everyone else is making and writing about.

What are your strategies for making it through a week of cooking?


Juice Fast – 1 Week In

I’m a week into my juice fast and there are a few things I’ve learned from this newest experience.

First, as I said in a past post,  while I love love love fruits and veggies, I’m more particular when they are in juice form. Just because I like a combination (like the image of veggies to the right) in a salad bowl, does not mean that I love them room temperature in a cup. The day that I made that juice, with kale, romaine, celery, carrot, tomato, cucumber, peppers, and radishes, I really thought I would love it. I stuck a straw in that sucker and started drinking. It made me literally gag – literally. I choked down a quart and a third (I am shooting for 2 quarts a day). There was no way I could get the rest down and it had to be dumped. Blech. I have since learned that I do better if I warm pure veggie juices and add some seasonings (a little miso, curry powder, hot sauce). This turns them into “broth” in my head and makes them palatable for me.

Second, your other senses have a lot to do with food enjoyment. What something smells or looks like is going to impact your ability to consume it. When I first started my most recent round of juicing, I was having a heck of a time with green drinks after the last incident. I really could not drink something if I saw it was green. After a few weeks of renewed juicing, this is much improved. If I make a juice and it’s a light green, I am pretty excited about it and I anticipate yumminess. If it’s a dark fern or olive green, I still get a little icked out. So, I try to be mindful of not only what the juice will taste like, but what it will look and smell like. If it seems like it’s going to be mostly savory and a dark green or brown color, I consider the warming plan.

Third, fruits can rescue a lot of juices. I would say that it’s probably not a good idea to go with only fruits, as that would be a whole lot of sugar and also quite acidic on the teeth. But, I don’t beat (or beet – HA) myself up about putting a couple of apples or a pear into most of the juices that I plan to drink with a straw. It helps me to drink them, and that’s the goal. Plus, fruits are also good for you!

Fourth, I know this, but juice fasting reminds me, much of diet is about habit and not hunger. I would say that I’m not really physically hungry on this fast. I’m drinking at least 3 quarts of juice a day. But, sometimes I find myself saying “I’m hungry!” which really seems to mean “I want to chew something!” I’ve been letting myself have a piece of gum now and then just to chew a little. While this might not be ideal from a dietary perspective, again, I would say that if something little like this helps you to complete the fast, and that is what you want to do, then go for it.

Finally, juice fasting might or might not be a time to work on other issues. In the past, when I have juice fasted, I’ve also given up all caffeine. This time, I made a decision to reduce, but not to completely cut it. So, I’m still having a cup of coffee (sometimes 2) in a day. I know that serious juice fasters would say this is a very bad idea, and I’m not thinking it is a good one. But, I also know that I’m not going to maintain a caffeine-free diet after the fast, and it helps me psychologically make it through my morning, so there you go. While giving up caffeine has not been for me during this fast, I have done more meditating throughout the day, even when it’s been a more busy week than usual.

A few of my favorite combos right now are:

* cucumber, apple, spinach
* cucumber, spinach, pear, white grape
* pineapple, spinach, cucumber
* carrot, ginger, lemon, miso
* spinach, carrot, celery, tomato, curry, hot sauce

For more general information about juice fasting, check out the full deal post at Elephant Journal.

If you juice, tell me a little about your strategies!