Thursday, January 12, 2012

21 Day Vegan Kickstart

In lieu of eating out this January, I have opted to try the 21 Day Vegan Kickstart. The kickstart is sponsored by The Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine. They are a group of physicians that are committed to bettering the lives of people and animals through conscientious medicine. The kickstart occurs every year in January, and is a chance to embark on a vegan diet with the support of a wide range of experts and celebrities. Once you sign up, you receive a daily email with breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes of the day, as well as insights from the guest of the day. Today, Day 11, the guest is Rip Esseltyn. Bestselling author of the cookbook, The Two Engine Diet, Rip is a firefighter and triathlete who is also a vegan.

Today’s suggested menu is cereal with plant milk (I use rice milk) and banana for breakfast, missing egg sandwich with creamy broccoli soup for lunch, and Farmhouse salad with leftover Quinoa Pilaf for dinner. Yesterday’s staple menu included oatmeal with mango and cinnamon for breakfast, a vegan veggie burger for lunch with leftover Mexican Corn Salad (a dinner salad from the night before), and Cream of Broccoli Soup with Quinoa Pilaf for dinner.

By the way, you don’t have to eat the dietary recommendations for any given day. The website prints out the menu for a week in advance. You can pick the recipes you want to cook for the week and forget the rest. Last night we made Monday’s dinner entrĂ©e, Barbeque Style Portobellos. Always a day late and a dollar short. But seriously, this dish is better than you can imagine. My carnivore wife could not stop marveling at how good it was. If you want to try it, here’s the recipe:

Barbeque-Style Portobellos
Makes 2 servings
2 large portobello mushrooms
1/2 cup vegetable juice
1/4 cup apple juice concentrate
1/2 cup roasted red peppers
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Clean mushrooms and remove stems. Cut into 1/2-inch strips.

Combine vegetable juice, apple juice concentrate, red peppers, soy sauce, vinegar, chili powder, garlic powder, and black pepper in a blender. Process until smooth, then transfer mixture to a non-stick skillet and heat until bubbly.

Add mushroom strips, turning to coat evenly with sauce. Cover and cook over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until mushrooms are tender, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

I substituted pretty freely to customize this for a household on a budget, using roasted green pepper instead of red, apple cider vinegar instead of rice vinegar, and the juice of one orange instead of concentrated apple juice. For fruit juice I used Welch’s grape cherry mixture. We spooned it over jasmine rice, though the options are abundant. You could use brown rice, French bread, English muffins or even baked potatoes. The recipe says to serve it with steamed spinach, but we used corn on the cob. And we had a vegan cranberry banana bread for dessert.

You can chat with other dieters on the Kickstart website, to find out what brought them to try a vegan diet for even 21 days. Sure some are lured by the promise of quick weight loss, but there are those with deeper motivations. You can also find some really cool recipes for things you would probably never imagine a vegan could make. How about grilled garlic vegan shrimp with chocolate cheesecake (pictured above) for dessert?

In the coming days I will talk more about the 21 Day Vegan Kickstart, why I decided to do it, and the experiences I am having with it. There’s also a 21 Day Vegan Kickstart book, by Dr. Neal D. Barnard, that you can buy. You can get it on Amazon, starting February 8, for about $10.

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