Thursday, June 12, 2014

My Journey Toward Veganism (and a new recipe... )

I have officially been vegan for nearly 6 months now! Like most things in my life, it has been a journey. I had been vegetarian since my teens, and have made many attempts at going vegan over the years, with varying degrees of almost-success. I have been slowly working to improve my diet and my health over the years, and I feel like each year it just gets easier and I feel better. As of last year, I was about 90% vegan, and I'd cut out most refined sugars (most of the time... holidays and vacations were tricky!) At the start of the New Year, I made the commitment to really take care of myself, and fully commit to following a vegan diet and cutting out refined sugar completely. The more I read about the negative effects of animal protein, the more I felt really ready to make the change. Six months later, I'm still on track. There were a few times when I had something not totally vegan/sugar free... a cookie once, a muffin, a few bites of milk chocolate, etc... but overall, I feel really good about the choices I've made.

I think the reason it's been so easy this time around is that I've really become AWARE of how certain foods make me feel, good or bad. I've really tuned into my body, and have realized it just feels good to feed myself a clean, healthy, vegan diet. If I had to name the best things I've ever done for myself, giving up dairy and sugar would be at the top of the list. My head is clearer, my digestion is better, my mood is vastly improved and I have more energy. Funny thing is... I didn't realize how bad these things were making me feel until I gave them up. I think that when that's your regular diet, you just get used to feeling that way, and you think that's what's normal. Then you stop, and your system really clears out and you suddenly realize you've not felt your best all those years.

One of the first things people ask me when they find out I've gone vegan is, "But don't you miss CHEESE?!" and the answer is, no... I really don't. And believe me, I used to love cheese. But, I realized that I feel so much better when I don't eat cheese, and I've discovered so many really yummy alternatives to dairy cheese that make me not miss the old stuff one bit. I have raved on and on here about Cashew Cheese (here and here and here, for example) and now I have a NEW cashew cheese recipe... this one for a vegan "sprinkle cheese" as we call it around here. Sprinkle Cheese was the name my daughter gave to grated cheese you put on pasta (parmesan, romano) when she was a toddler. She's now 14, and we still call it sprinkle cheese. Anyhoo... even though I've given up most refined grains, I still allow myself some pasta now and then, because I really love pasta and it makes me happy. This vegan sprinkle cheese on my pasta makes me extra happy. We also use it on spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles. It also adds a bit of extra nutrition... bonus!

Here is the recipe:

Vegan "Sprinkle Cheese"

1/2 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
Salt, to taste

Put everything into a food processor and blend until the nuts are all ground up and the texture is uniform. Serve on pasta, spaghetti squash, popcorn... any place you'd use grated parmesan cheese.

Delicious comfort food

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