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My 7 Day Vegan Challenge: Converting My Omnivore Family of Five

I was inspired by @theveggiemd who challenged us to eat plant based diet for 7 days.  I have high cholesterol and a family history of cardiovascular disease (my father had a heart attack in his 40’s), so introducing healthier eating is important for me.  This was a nice way to become familiar with vegan recipes and the entire vegan section at Whole Foods which I had up until this point, skipped over.

I recently went pescatarian, but I love cheese and dairy and never ever thought of making the full transition to vegan.  But, I figured why not?  I can do anything for 7 days.  So, here’s my experience, coming from the perspective that we are all omnivores.  I didn’t want this to be just a challenge for myself, I wanted to see if I could introduce healthier habits for my family.


Day 1:

Breakfast:

First, I drink Nespresso every day with whole milk whisked in the frother thing.  I have tried almond milk and never liked the taste of it, but I had to do it, so I committed and bought an almond milk creamer and I’m now a convert.  I actually don’t think I’ll go back to regular milk for my morning cup of joe.

The night before, I prepped these overnight oats and they were AMAZING!  I love Bianca Zapatka’s blog and instagram.  Her food pics are gorgeous, but it taste good too and not too complicated!  And, just from my messages with her, she is a really, truly sweet person.

Poppy Seed Overnight Oats (photo with permission from Bianca Zapatka)

Kids loved them, they were a real winner.  I prepped them the night before and put them in the fridge for the kids to grab for breakfast in the morning.  I ate late that morning because I worked out and actually was so full from this (I made double), that I skipped lunch

Dinner:

We had a date night scheduled so I made a reservation at a new vegan place in town.  Again, this is not a restaurant I ever would have gone to if not for this challenge.  My husband had a lot of reservations, but he is pretty open minded so he didn’t grumble too much.

“Pate” made with mushrooms, walnuts and tempe

Vietnamese noodle bowl with

Day 2:

Breakfast

I wanted to make something to really entice the kids. So, I decided on carrot cupcakes.  I was really surprised at how moist the cupcakes were.  I would definitely make these again.  And, I used this recipe for the frosting – my husband couldn’t even tell it was vegan, which I think is a win!

Processed with VSCO with s2 preset

Lunch: Random leftovers, PBJ sandwiches and these sausages which I love!

Dinner:

Vegan Stuffed Shells with Spinach Cream Sauce. Photo & Recipe Courtesy of Bianca Zapatka

For some reason, none of the stores around me carry jumbo shells, so I made it with manicotti instead.  Harder to stuff, but delicious.  Also I didn’t buy enough spinach, so I used half kale, which I actually liked.  Click here for the recipe.

This is how mine looked.

My manicotti using Bianca Zapatka’s recipe

 

Day 3:

Breakfast: Morning Oats again.  Made it for the kids and they adored it

Lunch:  I made an effort and actually packed lunch, which you kind of have to do.  It was good!  The salad is a kale-cranberry salad which is AMAZING.  I posted the recipe under Day 5, since I had it again.

 

Dinner: Samosas.  I cheated here and did not make these.  There’s an Indian lady who makes these by hand (and they’re vegan).  Way easier than me trying to cook these after a busy day of work.

Day 4:

Another amazing recipe by Bianca.  I absolutely adore her IG page and blog.  Easy, delicious recipes and she is really just such a nice person!

Caramelized Banana Oatmeal. Photo and recipe by Bianca Zapakta. Reproduced with permission.

Another winner.

Lunch:  I had a business lunch that I had originally made a reservation at another restaurant.  Then, I remembered I’m vegan this week and I called and though the restaurant was super nice and said they would make something special for me, I decided to go back to Vegan Hills, because I really enjoyed it for dinner and wanted to go for lunch.  The person with whom I was eating was open to it because she had been vegetarian for 5 years.

 

Dinner: Kheema (with Corn Crumbles)  with Sauteed Turmeric Potatoes

Kheema with “meat” crumbles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 5:

Breakfast:

Nespresso coffee with my new almond milk creamer

Banana bread.  Used this recipe, which looks a little raw when it comes out of the oven, but is actually really tasty.  And, I think the oats in it really fills me much better than traditional banana bread.

Lunch: Kale salad

print recipeKale Salad

 

Ingredients:

  • Fresh kale
  • Sliced red onion
  • Kalamata or picholine olives, pitted and halved
  • Dried cranberries
  • Walnuts, broken into pieces
  • Balsamic dressing

Directions:

Use a mixture of regular kale, Red Russian kale, lacinato or other varieties and try to get young (small leaves) kale which is more tender.  Remove the leaves from the stems as you wash it; discard stems.  Stack the leaves and cut into fine shreds.  Use about 1 cup of shredded leaves per person.  Place in a salad bowl.

Add the onion, olives, cranberries and walnuts; toss with dressing.  You can toss this ahead of time and let it sit – the kale won’t wilt like other salad greens, making this a great salad for a buffet

Balsamic dressing

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey or sugar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper

Directions:

Whisk all the ingredients together

Note:  3:1    oil : acid

Kale Salad Recipe

Dinner: Vegan Mac and Cheese with roasted cauliflower.  I really loved this.  My kids, not so much.  That being said, they only like Annie’s Mac and Cheese.  They don’t even like my real 4 cheese mac & cheese made with asiago, parmesan, provolone and cheddar that I grate myself.  So, I guess I should have known better.  Plus the dry mustard was a nice kick, but a bit strong for the kids.

Day 6:

Banana Bread:

Lunch: Leftovers

Dinner: Hawaii Ophthalmology Society meeting.  I was worried about this one.  It was at Stage, a restaurant that usually serves a lot of meat and it’s a set menu.  I called ahead and requested a vegan meal and was kind of dreading it.  Not gonna lie – I was enviously side eyeing the steak next to me.  But at the end of the meal, I didn’t feel kind of sick the way I normally, so again, another win!

Beet salad with tomatoes

Cauliflower steak

House made hibiscus and haupia sorbet. This was DELICIOUS!

 

Day 7:

My kids have been requesting the overnight oats and the oatmeal every morning.  So that’s been great.

Bedheads eating their raspberry overnight oats

Lunch: Leftovers

Dinner: I’m obsessed with the Beyond Burger at Whole Foods. I love it so much.  Since it was Friday, we had “burgers” and sweet potato fries with a berry soy milk smoothie.

Wrap Up:

So, end of the week, what did I think?

I think the biggest change is that I had to be very intentional about my eating.  I wasn’t just grabbing a pizza in the cafe downstairs or snacking on the Halloween candy when I was hungry.  And, that’s a good thing for me because I”m a big snacker.  I had to pack my lunches and snacks, and that lead to better food choices.

So, will I continue eating vegan?  I think I’ll probably do the 80/20 rule.  I found many of the changes were not that hard to institute – almond milk/soy milk for cow’s milk, vegan cheese, etc.  Basically, I think when I cook at home, it will be vegan the majority of the time.  I still enjoy eating fish and thus far, have not seen any data indicating fish/seafood link to cancer or gut inflammation.  I definitely enjoyed finding new recipes and my family was pleasantly surprised at most of them.  I got the most pushback from my 9 year old.  The younger kids didn’t make a big deal out of the lack of “real cheese” in dishes.  But, it was great to rediscover my Indian roots in terms of cooking, which I have neglected recently.  Pulling out my old spice box was fun and it was so nice to see my kids enjoy the food as well.

 

 

 

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