A few years ago our primary care doctor was alarmed at how high Phil’s cholesterol numbers were. She didn’t want to put him on pills so she made two requests; get more active and change your eating habits which almost felt like a death sentence to us because the main thing we had to give up was cheese (there goes the Italian dishes) beef, pork (Phil’s favorites) and anything fried. Now my cholesterol was fine but I was not about to be making two separate meals for us, aint nobody got time for that!
Going vegan, hunger games edition
So we challenged ourselves to go vegan for three months to see how it impacted his numbers.
We weren’t ready! Ditching the meat was easy, finding alternatives for it though? That was a battle. We were eating salads, fruits and putting beans in every meal. I wasn’t sure that we were eating enough of anything even though we felt full. Does that make sense?
I got bored. I was no longer enjoying coming up with meals. Therefore, I did the only thing I knew to do at the time, search Pinterest for tasty vegan recipes. Subsequently, I started to learn some of the staples of a vegan or plant based lifestyle. Raw cashews became a thing, as mid-morning snacks and the “cheese” for my beloved Italian dishes. Lentils, chickpeas and mung beans were my go to protein sources.
It took some prep and much research to get to a place of enjoying our new plant based lifestyle. Some meals took a little longer which was hard for me because I’m not a patient girl. But the more time I spent in the kitchen the more I discovered methods to shave off time. I prefer to eat than cook but I made it fun. That’s how my kitchen dance parties started!
With the help of awesome chefs on the interwebs, and a plant based lifestyle board, Phil and I were trying new recipes from places like Thailand, India and Greece.
Phil’s follow up with the doctor 3 months later was surprising. The changes we implemented worked and dropped his cholesterol numbers. It wasn’t a drastic dip, but it was enough to show us that a plant based lifestyle was worth it. So we kept it with one modification – have chicken or fish on the weekends if we had a craving.
A Vegan Thanksgiving
Because we’re notorious for gorging ourselves at the thanksgiving table especially when we’re at my parents’ house, I wanted to try something different this time. I know Americans celebrate Thanksgiving with a turkey but the tradition didn’t grow on us, so instead our table is usually spread with escoveitched fish, Mama’s maple glazed ham, oven baked chicken and an assortment of side dishes that Phil manages to make strange every year. One year we had strawberry flavored corn bread because he forgot to buy regular yogurt!
This year we’re changing it up, and inviting our family to try something new. So I invited my girlfriend Melissa to help me come up with a tasty vegan thanksgiving menu.
She was one of the first person’s I reached out to when we decided to go vegan. Because she had made this transitions many years ago she understood some of the struggles we were experiencing. She held my hand along the way and enticed me with her own recipes to show me that being plant based could be a tasty journey.
Melissa happens to be a certified vegan chef (yes that’s a thing) and she’s Jamaican. I only mention her nationality because our love for flavor in the islands is infused into everything she makes. She’ll whip up recipes that make your taste buds forget meat. And what better way to kick off our first vegan thanksgiving than with some of her recipes?
Earlier this year, she began hosting themed cooking classes in her kitchen every month. Thereafter, I invited a group of Jamaican girlfriends to one of her cooking classes. The feature that month was Jamaican classics. I was a little apprehensive because Jamaicans love their food and can be the biggest critics if you distort it. Mel had them hooked from the first dish which was a rich and creamy pumpkin soup, followed by “mackerel” rundown, ackee with seasoned rice, “saltfish” fritters and festivals.
The girls were dumbfounded at the flavor infused in every dish. While eating the “mackerel” rundown I heard “yuh sure no meat nuh inna dis?” Translation: Are you sure this has no meat? Lol
Cooking vegan is Mel’s gift!
Speaking of gifts, our friend Esther also joined us. She helped us to create a beautiful intimate thanksgiving table to complement the menu. Esther founded her company by creating spaces, making things look good and building visions, literally. Because of that background and her gifted hands she was able to make our table beautiful all while attending to her 11 month old.
I think we spent more time eating than we did in setting up the table! Because of that it took us a little longer to complete but we couldn’t help it. Every bite in between takes and set up was worth it!
I’ll be sharing the recipe for one of the dishes on the vegan thanksgiving menu in my next post based on your vote . So which dish do you wanna try?