18 dollar chocolate

This marks the end of the first week on the journey to one year as a vegan. Detailed below are things I learned, cooked and some helpful resources discovered. Last week was the first blog post and I was blown away by the encouragement and messages of support. Thank you for reading and following the journey – it has inspired me to double down efforts for this week. If you have any feedback on how to make this more useful for you, just yell out!

Things I learned this week:

  1. 18 dollar chocolate: Be careful wandering into health food stores as a novice like myself. Lots of strange and intriguing packaging and products that people will be quick to tell you are must have staples for a vegan pantry. One costly trip this week was to find vegan chocolate. The health food store attendant said he had just what I needed, and grabbed a fancy looking package from the shelf. No price tag. Bad sign. As he scanned it at the register and I reached for my bank card, the bad news came – $18 for a block of chocolate that was only 180g! Two people were already queued up behind me at the register, so retreat without public humiliation was impossible. I gulped. This stuff better come with a Willy Wonka golden ticket included for that price tag… I took it home and disaster struck. Fiona announced it was delicious and tasted like a mixture of Toblerone and Nutella, but somehow vegan. Dammit, she was right. This is going to be an expensive mistake that will no doubt continue hurting the hip pocket for the remainder of the year (Fiona is already planning on buying more). Well played Monsieur Truffle chocolate, well played.
  2. Veganuary: January 1 marked the beginning of Veganuary for 2019. This year has seen record people sign up (190,000 plus world wide) to try the vegan diet for 31 days. You can find an abundance of resources at the Veganuary website to help kick start your own mission, or alternatively if you are just curious to know more. The website even has a Vegan Starter Kit that contains everything from what new ingredients you’ll need in your pantry to responses to some of the most common myths around a vegan diet. Well worth a look.
  3. Pomegranate seeds: One of the recipes this week called for pomegranate seeds. At the supermarket there were fresh pomegranates next to a small pack of already extracted seeds. $5 for two pomegranates, or the same price for a tiny packet of seeds. I opted for the fresh ones and figured how hard could it be to get them out, right? At home I googled for tips on how to get them out and jumped right in. Within 2 minutes I realised wearing a white t-shirt was a mistake having splattered myself multiple times. Within another 2 minutes I’d managed to splatter two nearby white bar stools (how the hell did I get it on 2 stools?!?). This was getting out of hand and expensive quickly! Eventually I managed to get the seeds out, and then realised there were enough pomegranate seeds to do the recipe 5 times over. Those smug seeds have been sitting in the fridge all week taunting me and have been added to just about any food imaginable to use them up. Round 1 goes to pomegranate seeds, next time…
  4. Finding Ultra: One of the common myths is that vegans are scrawny, sickly looking people with no strength. Rich Roll takes that myth and singlehandedly blows it away. I read his book ‘Finding Ultra’ this week which details the amazing journey from a sedentary, overweight 40 year old lawyer living off junk food to one of the world’s fittest men. Rich competed in the ultra man world championships less than 12 months after getting off the couch, and then eventually did 5 Iron Man events in a week. More incredibly, he credited this amazing transformation to a shift from his omnivore diet to a strict plant based diet. An amazing book which is inspirational on a number of fronts (also recounts a refreshingly honest account of Rich’s issues with substance abuse and his struggles to become sober).

Things I cooked this week:

  1. Basmati Rice Bowl with spiced cauliflower and pomegranate: This was an experience. The first recipe I tried from the cookbook ‘Vegan for Everybody’ written by America’s Test Kitchen which I was given for Christmas. Taste was great, the journey not so much. Got Inception’d by the recipe and had to go my own way after a couple of supermarket trip fails. The recipe lists an ingredient that actually requires another recipe to make it which in turn requires ingredients that aren’t available in the shop and thus you would need another recipe to produce. Result – cilantro (coriander) sauce did not make an appearance on the final dish. Even without this it was still delicious though (and it made me want to watch the classic brooding Leo movie Inception). Will definitely try this again in the coming months. Give it 3 out of 5 balancing taste with the level of effort required.
  2. Cauliflower steaks with salsa verde: This was the second recipe tried from ‘Vegan for Everybody’. In hindsight, this resulted in cauliflower overload this week. Delicious and really simple to make. A novel concept using cauliflower as the centre piece of a dish. Did feel a bit weird though and not sure cauliflower can ever replace a beef steak but kudos to the recipe creators on this one for imagination. Give it 4 out of 5, easy to make and tasty.
Basmati Rice Bowl with spiced cauliflower and pomegranate
Cauliflower Steaks with Salsa Verde

Key resources used during the week:

  1. Vegan for Everybody – America’s Test Kitchen cookbook
  2. How to remove pomegranate seeds – Cooks Illustrated
  3. Finding Ultra: Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World’s Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself  by Rich Roll
  4. Veganuary starter kit

Until next week, thanks for reading!


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