Monday, May 26, 2014

Vexed Vegan

Ok... can I vent for a paragraph or 2... Or maybe 3?
Here's the thing... I may look like a diva in that picture above & I do work in TV so you could possibly imagine that sometimes I may be hard to please. I will own that when it's true & when I've genuinely earned that title. But it could not be further from the truth when it comes to me being Vegan!

I swear sometimes it feels like this is all restaurants serve me! Somehow, along the way of differing diets, this misconception developed that Vegans or Vegetarians don't eat normal servings of food! Listen, just because I choose not to eat animals, does NOT mean I choose to go hungry!

A few bites of plants is not my idea of a filling meal! I'm a healthy girl with an even healthier appetite & I like my food! Since I eat clean, that means I don't eat a lot of carbs, fillers or empty calories, which also means I need a hearty serving of the good stuff!

When I'm at home, my favorite thing in the world is grilled veggies & I eat A LOT of them! They're very low calorie & they are essentially fat-free besides the light olive oil I brush on them - so you can pretty much eat veggies until you are sick of them! But when it comes to restaurants, for some reason they get stingy with the plant-based servings! And they charge a fortune for them! What's the deal? Veggies cost pennies on the dollar compared to steak & seafood. But somehow my sparse veggie plates always seem to cost about $20.

This is an example of a restaurant doing it right! 'Blue Collar' in the MiMo district of Miami let's you make your own veggie plate from their pretty ample list of vegetable side dishes. Only problem is, the sides are geared more towards Vegetarians and not Vegans. But even though most of the dishes were slathered with butter or doused in assorted cheeses, I made do with sautéed kale, mushrooms, artichokes & a cool, crisp watermelon salad. I cannot complain about this dinner because I got an assortment of healthy plants at a price of just $12... But it's not always that easy!

Another place that consistently (& consistency is a pretty big deal for restaurants) gets it right is my absolute favorite restaurant from my pre-Vegan days: Carpaccio in Bal Harbour. Everytime I go there, they make me a custom-order plate of veggies. This time it was grilled portobello mushrooms, broccoli, zuchini & eggplant.

And since it's an Italian Restaurant, their white beans are to-die-for & I'm so impressed that they cook their beans in water, instead of butter, like most places. So my veggie plate was $17 & my beans were $3 & I have absolutely no problem spending that on a great meal... Just don't skimp on my portions!

And here's another pleasant surprise... Vegan dessert! Now I don't have much of a sweet tooth & I have cut most sugar out of my diet, but my girlfriend was really craving a sweet end to the meal. So she ordered the coconut sorbet & it was fantastic! Smooth, creamy, dairy-free & filled with REAL coconut chunks!

99% of the time, this is what I eat for dessert: Watermelon!
Now that it's almost summer, my fave sweet treats are fresh, flavorful & in-season! (more affordable - especially when buying organic produce) 
I even learned a great little trick when enjoying red or green grapes...

Put them in the freezer! 
Frozen grapes are the most popular snack at my workplace right now because they are cool, refreshing, sweet, yummy & they hit the spot when you want a low-calorie, low-fat treat in between or after meals.

I have also been making homeade sweet potato wedges -- all I do is slice them up, spray a little coconut oil on them, bake in the oven & sprinkle salt & pepper to taste. This really tastes like an indulgence & you feel like you're eating fries, when actually it's just like eating a regular baked sweet potato!

And this is my latest breakfast of choice before the gym! Trent & I make each other cinnamon-raisin Ezekiel toast with almond butter & raisins sprinkled on top. 
Getting the right amount of protein, carbs, fat & natural sugar before a workout makes you push that much harder & better than if you went there on an empty stomach. And I gotta have my coffee with almond milk too!

Now I'm still experimenting & finding my own way with soy products, like tofu. First things first, I ONLY purchase non-GMO products for obvious reasons. In my opinion, no matter what your diet of choice is, none of us should be buying, eating or supporting the production & mass consumption of genetically modified organisms. The name says it all. I believe in natural, from the earth, organic, plants free of chemicals & pesticides & not genetically altered mutants from a lab. We've done enough of that over the years to make the sweetest corn & the starchiest potatoes. Enough is enough.

Having said that, I do enjoy an occasional tofu scramble with beans & veggies. Trent is adorable - he likes to make my food in the shape of a heart - Awwwwww. I know, I know, our newly dating love is obnoxious sometimes. Sorry! We can't help it! Were happy... Happier than we ever thought 2 people could be. So yes, I'll own that it's obnoxious, but hopefully it's contagious too! Have happy, healthy eating & remember to focus on the love you are lucky enough to have! I know I do!


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