Monday, January 26, 2015

Week 2 of Engine 2: I think I'm getting the hang of this

Time to get real. I honestly thought I would have given up on this challenge by now.  I mean, seriously, it just about goes against everything I ever talk about, and the new followers I have on instagram are all of the "healthy" variety.  Ha!  It's definitely not like I am anti-healthy or anything.  I mean not really.

Maybe it's that I never was able to put that much focus on healthy eating because I was always focused on "yummy" vegan eats.  Vegan eats are my main form of activism.  I feed people delicious vegan food. And people see that vegan food is "normal" food with flavors they are familiar with. And then people say things like, "Oh my god, you can still eat this? Maybe I will go vegan!"  (Well that's how I hope they respond, anyway.)  So, cooking for health, and eating my medicine were never very high on my priority list. 

And let's not even start on the fat-shaming SOS folks out there that almost seem to be in a weird purist-I'm-better-than-you-because-I-only-eat-the-cleanest-of-plant-based-foods cult that are constantly trolling my Amazon pages leaving one star reviews because my books contain soy, or wheat, or (God forbid) a little TVP!

But I digress…I shouldn't let the bad apples spoil the bunch, right?  Right.  And these past two weeks have been pretty eye opening for me. I am definitely seeing a difference already in my weight.  I believe I mentioned this before, but I have gotten rid of the scale in my house as I refuse to be a slave to it any longer, but I definitely see a change in my face (I am losing some of those extra chins!) and my pants are a bit looser.

I also notice that I simply don't feel as hungry anymore.  Because my meals are so nutrient dense, a bowl of "salad" has been enough to fill me up.  My old pasttime was snacking on chips and dips all week at my desk while working.  I don't really need to do that anymore.  When I felt that need arise (mostly out of habit and not hunger) I bought a pack of Engine 2 Crispbreads and a tub of Engine 2 hummus to snack on.  Admittedly, I ate 2 crackers, and I was over it.   Not because it was bad, but because I was sated.

I am focusing on eating for my health, and believe it or not, I'm kind of starting to enjoy it, despite the fact that all of you instagrammers, facebook posters and pinterest folks are posting some of the most amazing food porn that is tempting my tastebuds on a regular basis!

I think I might stick to this way of eating (most of the time) even after the challenge is over.  But don't worry, I won't forget the comfort foods I am known for.  I will just eat them on special occasions.  Not every friggin' day!

Green Salad (recipe below)

Green Salad
This "Green Salad" was my go to meal for the week.  I made a giant batch so I could munch on it at work and at home.  I think I actually got 5 seperate meals out of this.  It has a gagillion components, but it was really easy to throw together.  It tasted great cold or hot and filled me up with lots of micronutrients.  Without total and exact measurements, here is the recipe.

For the Walnutty Spinach Basil Pesto:
(from Going Vegan, page 141, the oil free option, without added salt))
1 cup (30 g) tightly packed baby spinach
20 large basil leaves
1/2 cup (60 g) walnut pieces
2 tablespoons (15 g) nutritional yeast
2 cloves garlic (or more to taste)
1/2 cup (120 ml) low-sodium vegetable broth
1 teaspoon lemon juice (or more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon dijon mustard (or more to taste)
black pepper, to taste
and for this batch, I added 1 box of soft silken tofu as a thickener and to give it a creamier texture.

For the salad:
spinach leaves, chiffonade
kale, chopped
raw broccoli, chopped small
green peas
smoked tofu, diced
brown jasmine rice
Herb Roasted Potatoes, optional (from Going Vegan, page 117, without the added oil or salt)
sliced avocado
black pepper to taste

To make the pesto: Add all ingredients to a blender and preuu ntil smooth.  Transfer dressing to an airtight container and store in the refrigerator until ready to use, should last about a week.

To make the salad: Add all ingredients except avocado to a large salad bowl and toss with desired amount of dressing.  I like to add a small amount of dressing to the whole batch as it soaks into the greens, relaxing and softening them a bit.  Then I add more dressing to taste when I eat it.

Yield: 5 to 6 entree sized meals, depending on how much you make

On the spot dinner made on the salad bar at Whole Foods Market.

But this is a challenge, and a few things have tripped me up a little bit:

  • Monday night I worked a special event at the Anaeim Hilton at the Convention Center.  I had to eat dinner in a food court, as there was no where to keep a premade lunch, other than in my car that was a 20 minute walk from the venue, so I made the best decisions I could given I was in a food court.  I got a 6-inch veggie sub on whole wheat with no added sauces, oil, or dressing, with added avocado paired with a berry smoothie blended with OJ. 
  • Then,  I had some major dental work done on Friday, leaving my mouth pretty useless for chewing anything harder than a smoothie, so I had to ditch the no juices rule for the day and enjoy some pineapple spinach juice and a giant pineapple smoothie bought for me by my bestie, Jen.  Bless her heart! 
  • And on Saturday night, we went out with my sister and her husband to the Rainbow on the Sunset Strip.  I knew going into it, there was going to be little to nothing on the menu for me to eat, so I was half expecting to get a giant bowl of iceberg lettuce with a sliced avocado and a handful of chickpeas thrown in for good measure.  And that's exactly what I got. Ha.
  • Finally, on Sunday I overslept and didn't have time to pack dinner to bring to work.  So I made a big salad on the salad bat at Whole Foods Market, and bought a small bottle of the Health Starts Here Sesame Ginger Dressing that is low sodium and has no added oil.  I split the meal into two portions and will have the rest for lunch today.

This coming week will be full of new recipes and foods, as I prepare some new batches of stuff for the weeek.  See you then, and until then, stay Plant-Strong!


  1. Thanks for writing about this and writing about it well. I am really thankful for Engine 2. I have been vegan for 20 years, and while I have always tended to eat somewhat healthy, I was really into wowing non-vegans with rich vegan desserts. Then my husband was told (in his late 30s) that he would have to go on blood pressure medication and cholesterol medication. After doing some research on ways to avoid this, I ran across Engine 2. We switched over to eating this way, and after a couple of months his blood pressure and cholesterol were at normal levels. His family has a history of heart issues, so will always be important that we eat healthy. After a few years of eating like this we stick mostly to Engine 2 principles, but are flexible when traveling, eating out, etc.

    One thing I have found over the past few years is that 90% of recipes I used previously could be converted to be Engine 2 friendly. I tended to find many of the recipes in the no oil/salt cookbooks to be really bland and boring, so I mostly stick to what I like already and just convert things.

    Also the line of Engine 2 products (which didn't exist yet when I started), and the Health Starts Here products at Whole Foods have been such a big help. So nice to have some quick and easy meal and snacks. I eat the crackers and hummus all of the time and am happy, despite being a former chips and salsa lover.

    The hardest part of this for me is the backlash of vegans who are totally opposed to the Engine 2 thing. ie. "I'm vegan for the animals, not for health reasons." Why do these things have to be mutually exclusive?! You can be both, and I am. Some of us don't have the luxury of being able to eat whatever we want and live to be a 100.

    Anyway, thanks for these posts!

    1. Thanks for taking the time to write. I have always been a "why can't we both be on the same team" kind of vegan. I am, first and foremost, vegan for the animals. But you are right. Why can't we be ethical vegans who also eat healthfully? Honestly, I cannot truly buy in to the no oil, no salt rule for life, but I can definitely increase my everyday intake of clean foods and reduce the amount of crap I eat. Save the crap for special occasions and eat responsibly the rest of the time. When I wrote Going Vegan, I wrote it with a strict SOS eater, and I learned a lot from her. We wrote that book together so whoever reads it will see that there is a way to be both.

  2. Nice. I often feel like Whole Foods under seasons their food to the point it is inedible. Glad to see you were able to make something happen with it!

    1. Vic, I think it's the recipes. TO be honest, I haven't had much luck with any of the Engine 2 recipes. It's almost like they are jumping off points. I find I need to add more seasoning and more technique to almost all of it!


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All recipes written by me, Joni Marie Newman, unless otherwise noted. Please feel free to refer to or link back to any of my recipes, but please ask for permission, or remember to give credit when reprinting recipes in their entirety. I do provide links to affiliate programs (such as Amazon) in which I receive a small commission for items purchased. I do not provide paid reviews. All reviews done on products or books are of my own unsolicited opinion. On occasion I may receive a book or product to review. I will note when this is the case, but rest assured, it will not affect the authenticity of my review. Thanks!--Joni