I can hardly believe it is already day 18 of my 21 day vegan challenge! So far it has been a piece of cake….ummm, I mean a piece of gluten free, egg free, dairy free cake….let’s just say it’s been a piece of bread (multi-grain bread). But seriously, I have been enjoying some fabulous foods, with my new favorite being “wheatballs”. They are so versatile! I’ve had wheatballs in thai sauce with rice; barbequed wheatballs ; and my fave, wheatballs and spaghetti! Since Susan is the recipe lady, I will let her supply you with a healthy recipe for these little delights. She has tweaked my recipe for wheatballs, and created her own version: chickballs! (Leave it to the Savvy Sister…..if ever there was a chick with BALLS, it’s her!)
The most difficult thing I have encountered with living a vegan lifestyle is not about choosing new foods, it is about getting OTHER people to accept these choices. I recently spoke at a Chicken Soup for the Soul Luncheon (while others had chicken soup, I enjoyed tomato soup for the vegan’s soul).
Flo speaking at a Chicken Soup for the Soul fundraiser for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.
A big part of my talk was about the difference between a positive attitude and a survivor’s attitude. A positive attitude is a wonderful thing, and I credit it with being instrumental to my healing and recovery from cancer. Even more important than a positive attitude however, is the survivor’s attitude which I continue to maintain. A survivor’s attitude combines positive attitude, with positive ACTION! As a cancer survivor, I am going to do everything in my power to continue to stay healthy and prevent a cancer reoccurrence. If that means changing my diet, I WILL change my diet. If that means exercising more, I WILL exercise more. If that means giving up wine….well let’s not get carried away here. Wine is vegan after all.
I would just like for people to accept my food choices and understand that I am not turning down your lasagna or cupcakes to be rude, or because I am picky. I am doing it because I want to stay alive! If there are any stray cancer cells lurking in this body, I want to STARVE them by eating a plant based diet, not FEED them with animal fats and sugar. So please don’t hate me because I’m a plant eater.
Susan, do you have any tips for us this week? And can you please share your chickball recipe with our readers?
Way to go Flo! The mind is a complex thing, isn’t it? Food is not only sustenance; it’s also a centerpiece for social gatherings and offers emotional comfort. Humans want to “belong” to a group and have a sense of conformity and sharing food means connecting.
But I wonder, Flo, if you were diabetic, and didn’t have dessert would people try to force cherry cheesecake on you and shun you if you didn’t partake? Eating a diet to avoid cancer is really the same thing.
We all make choices about our health and no one should feel “weird” because of them. That’s why I try not to use the word “vegan” as stated before, and prefer the term “plant-based”.
See? I told you vegan’s were buff. And look at the size of those feet!
One blogger even made up his own name for plant-based eaters: “Veganauts” , and his own definition for the word. (That’s what you can do when you make up your own word.)
(Hit this link to learn more: http://howilost150pounds.wordpress.com/2012/12/05/open-letter-of-invitation-to-ellen-degeneres/)
Here’s how he defines it:
ve-gan-aut /VEE-gun-ot/ (n.) 1. a person who is exploring the rewarding vegan lifestyle without actually meeting all of the vegan tenets all of the time. 2. someone who lives like a vegan but makes occasional allowances for transgressions without giving up the vegan lifestyle afterwards. 3. any omnivore who is experimenting with plant-based eating or vegan living. 4. a person who is sick and damn tired of defending their own personal brand of veganism and prefers to have a label nobody can argue with. An example sentence: Sarah is a veganaut because even though she is almost always vegan, she wears leather shoes and eats cheese fondue once a month with her Mother-in-law and has some turkey on Thanksgiving.
Here are some tips when talking about your new plant-based diet.
1. Don’t allow yourself to feel different. You are the ray of light on a new horizon! You are a teacher of health! YOU are the cool one. …yeah you are! “No one can make you feel inferior without your permission” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt
2. Don’t preach. As tempting as it is, don’t lecture your dinner companions on the dangers of casein (milk protein), and how it’s linked to high rates of cancer. And never start a sentence with “Did you know……?” If people ask, keep it simple. If they want to know more, they will contact you later.
3. Don’t condemn. I have eaten with vegans at a table and I’ve wanted to slap the “icky faces” off them as they watch their carnivore friend chow down on a plate full of ribs. Keep your reactions to yourself. People have a right to choose what they put in their bodies. If asked, keep it focused on why YOU are vegan not how THEY should be.
4. Realize that at some restaurants, you may be having a salad…again. If going out to eat with friends, check the menu online and figure out what you can eat beforehand. Most restaurants will be happy to add or subtract items or cook in oil vs butter if you ask. Some restaurants (even steakhouses) that I have been to recently have a separate vegan menu. Aren’t YOU special! And remember, going out to eat with friends is a social thing. Avoid bringing a baggie of food with you.
5. Try to make concessions. If your neighbor makes you chicken soup because you’re sick, don’t tell her “Oh, sorry, I’m a vegan and I can’t eat this.” Take the soup, do with it whatever, and tell the person it was delicious and thank them. If it’s someone’s birthday, have a sliver of cake. Whether you sit there and push it around or you eat it, there’s good energy behind the food, so try not to refuse.
6. Be nice! Not everyone will agree with your decision and some may even tell you that your choices will make you sick. Remember you may be the first vegan this person has encountered and it falls on you to make us all look good. Just smile a lot and realize that it’s ok because God loves even the idiots.
If anyone has any stories about their encounters with those not accepting of you diet, let us know how you dealt with it.
To heck with wheatballs, I have something much better: Chickballs! It is the same concept, only I substitute chickpea flour for wholewheat flour…but you can do either. Enjoy! And Flo..keep up the good work!
Always try to use organic ingredients when possible
1 (15.5 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or avoid the BPA in the can by cooking your own)
1 cup chopped white mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons soy sauce (find a soy sauce without cancer-causing caramel coloring and MSG)
1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil, plus more for cooking
½ cup dry bread crumbs (or use 4 Wasa rye crisp crackers ground in a blender)
½ cup chickpea flour OR whole wheat flour
¼ cup of nutritional yeast (optional but consider this high protein/non-yeast source that is usually fortified with B12…a vitamin that is essential but is mostly found in animal products, so vegan should get it when they can I use Bragg’s, but there are lots of brands out there)
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon salt (Season to taste. I found I didn’t need the salt when using the full 2 Tablespoons of soy sauce)
¼ teaspoon black pepper
If cooking the chickpeas, rinse and place in a pot covered with water. Cover and soak overnight (12 hours). Replace water with twice the volume of the chickpeas, and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and simmer 1 hour. Strain and allow to cool. Cooked chickpeas can be placed in 16-ounce containers and frozen for 3 months (It’s like having a can in your freezer. I do this with black beans too.)
If using canned make sure you rinse extremely well.
-in food processor, combine chickpeas, mushrooms, garlic and parsley, and pulse until coarsely ground, but not pureed. Add the remaining ingredients and pulse to combine.
-with a spatula, scrape the mixture into a large bowl and knead the mixture until well blended, about 2 minutes.
-pinch off small pieces of the mixture and roll into one and a half inch balls.
-in a large skillet, cover the bottom with olive oil and fry the balls, turning frequently to brown the on all sides, about 5 minutes.
These chickballs freeze well and can be used in any recipe which calls for meatballs. They also passed the “I’m not eating anything vegan” husband test. He gobbled them up in a flash.
Makes about 17 balls Nutrition per ball when chick pea flour, rye cracker flour, and nutritional yeast options are used ….Calories: 75, Fat: 2.5, Protein: 4.8, Iron: 4.5% RDA, Fiber: 3.5 grams Vitamin B12: 13% RDA
Using the rye cracker crumbs vs the breadcrumbs saves calories and also saves you from the sugars, and preservatives that breadcrumbs contain. The rye crisps contain rye flour, water and salt. This post is not big enough to list all the ingredients in processed bread crumbs. Go to Wasa for more info: www.wasa-usa.com/rye-crisp.aspx
Using chick pea flour instead of wheat flour gives you 5 times the protein, more iron, and 3 times the fiber as wheat flour. These small changes add up and make your healthy diet even healthier!
FYI: Nutritional yeast, while it has yeast in it’s name, is not a live yeast product. It is the shell of the dead yeast cells that contain an abundance of protein and adds a very unique flavor to anything it touches. Most nutritional yeast products are fortified with B Vitamins including B12…the one that vegans need to supplement in their diet.