Testing the vegan waters these past couple of weeks admittedly has not been as easy as I anticipated. For the first few days I found that I was essentially always hungry. I had trouble thinking of what to eat and could not constantly snack as I usually do because there was nothing vegan in my house to snack on. I realized that sticking to my goal would require some preparation and pantry stocking.
The first challenge I faced was breakfast. Weekdays were easy to handle because I eat the same thing every morning - plain oatmeal with agave and blueberries - done. But on weekends I usually make elaborate, egg-centred meals and finding alternatives is vaguely dejecting. Eliminating bacon several years ago was easy enough, but a breakfast without eggs is nearly impossible to find - especially if you are eating out.
My first vegan weekend started with the breakfast sandwich described here. The only standard breakfast item left for a vegan, that I can think of, is potatoes. I have had some delicious breakfast wraps that had potatoes in them - so I thought adding them to a sandwich would give them a breakfast feel - as opposed to being just another sandwich.
One morning I also went for breakfast at Slickly Jims, a restaurant on Main Street. There was literally only one vegan item on the menu, a tofu scramble, although they have a wonderful selection of vegetarian options. I ordered the modest sounding tofu scramble and was relieved to find it enjoyable - the texture of the tofu was soft - like lightly whisked, soft scrambled eggs. The scramble was perfectly seasoned and flavoured with chili and sesame oil. With it came seasoned potatoes, marble toast and a homemade berry jam.
The next morning I made a scramble of my own but without tofu or eggs. Instead I used potatoes, mushrooms and peppers and topped it with a variety of diced fresh herbs and chopped avocado. I served the scramble with some vegan biscuits and sliced fruit. The vegan biscuit recipe is something I have made twice in the past ten days but the recipe is not quite perfected. I have not yet found the right ratios of coconut milk, roasted squash and flour. I also made a creamy vegan fennel, cauliflower and parsnip soup - also soy and dairy free - actually it was made with 100% vegetables. I am really excited to perfectly tweak the ingredients and share that recipe.
Other than what I have described here, I have had many salads with roasted veggies, soba noodle bowls with tofu and veggies and peanut sauce, vegetable soups, lots of melon, oranges and other fruit and too many pistachios and cashews.
Over the next few weeks I want to get into using more beans - there are a gazillion heirloom varieties at whole foods that I am excited to play with - and I think it is time I tried fava beans. I am foreseeing veggie burgers, tacos, wraps and all kinds of bean and whole grain salads and warm single dish dinners in the near future.
Now I am mentally tackling how to manage eating out with friends, how to say no to sharing someones granola bar, decline an offer for chocolates or refuse co-workers' home baking. So far, I have not been very good at this - not because I cannot resist but because I am afraid to see the look on peoples faces when I tell them I have stopped eating dairy and eggs - sometimes I just do not feel like explaining myself.
Also, after walking past a container of burrata at the grocery store the other day - and remembering my upcoming trip this summer to Italy - I am not sure I can 100% say no to fresh mozzarella in Italy. I might have to do some Slow Food research to figure out what animal farming in Italy is like. I am hoping to find out that Italian farming practices are not as frightening as they are here. Like I said - its not easy - but I am working on it.
Vegan Breakfast Sandwich - with potatoes, smoked tofu and avocado
The only effort in this recipe involves cooking some potatoes and smoked tofu.
The amounts below are for 1 sandwich but obviously will vary with the size of your bread slices.
- 1 - 2 small potatoes (fingerling used here)
- 2 slices of fresh bread
- 2 tbsp prepared hummus
- 1/4 avocado
- 1 or 2 slices smoked tofu
- 2 sun-dried tomato halves
- 2 slices daiya cheese
- Lettuce leaves
- Vegetable or olive oil
- Salt, pepper
- Smoked paprika (optional)
- Cook the potatoes - add to a pot covered by an inch of cool water.
- Bring the water to boil, lower heat and simmer the potatoes gently until tender - about 10 minutes.
- Allow the potatoes to cool.
- Slice the smoked tofu into 1/4 inch slices.
- Chop the sundried tomatoes.
- Mash an avocado in a bowl with a fork.
- Slice the potatoes into 1/4 inch slices.
- Bring a pan to warm over medium heat and add a tbsp of oil.
- Add the tofu and potato slices to the pan.
- Season the potatoes with salt, pepper and smoked paprika.
- Cook potatoes and tofu until browned on both sides.
- Toast the bread if desired - in he oven or in a toaster.
- Assemble the sandwich by smearing one slice of bread with hummus, the other with avocado and adding everything else in between. Preferably the cheese should contact with the warm tofu or potatoes.