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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Comfort Foods

Nearly 10 years ago when I contemplated becoming a vegan, I found myself in a dilemma.  Or at least at the time what felt like a dilemma.

Veganism felt so final.  As in, I could never again eat some of my favorite comfort foods.  Chocolate chip cookies.  Brownies.  French toast.  Macaroni and cheese.  Not that these were major staples of my diet, but they were things I enjoyed from time to time (more so then than now, as I've considerably improved my diet in the meantime, thanks to triathlon and my desire to be healthier).

As I explored, I found vegan versions of all of the above.  Except macaroni and cheese.

And it wasn't just the run-of-the-mill macaroni and cheese that I craved.  It was the blue box.  Kraft.  With the orangey powdery cheese with all sorts of artificial coloring and flavoring.  It was a comfort food growing up, and even as a young adult a treat that I enjoyed every now and then.

I realized, though, that my craving for the blue box would not superimpose itself on my commitment to health, the animals, and the environment.

And then there was this:

Earth Balance's version of macaroni and cheese!

I whipped this up the other evening.  It has the powdery vegan cheese and instructions to add a non-dairy milk and Earth Balance Buttery Spread margarine.  I used almond milk, but I found that my Earth Balance margarine was moldy from sitting in my refrigerator and not being used (proof that I don't eat unhealthy food all that often), so I left it out.

It was delicious.  I only ate half a box worth and made a salad to enjoy with it.  At 640 calories in a box (one "serving" has 260 calories and there are 2 1/2 servings in a box, but let's be real, who eats just one serving?) with about 1300 mg of sodium, it's not the healthiest choice.

My point is this:  Look hard enough, and I think there's a vegan version of just about everything.  And when you find those decadent foods in a vegan version, don't imagine that they are magically healthy.  When your diet is clean, a small rare splurge can be reasonable.

One last note-- this is not a paid endorsement!  If only I was important enough to get paid to promote stuff...


PGYx said...

So true! There are delicious vegan versions of every animal product-based food. Some take more work than others, but less than most people think. Bryanna Clark Grogan offers a lot of great vegan comfort food recipes, many of them which are very low fat. The ingredients often seem humble, but they always come together spectacularly, and she provides clear instructions which give consistent results. I love her cookbooks and she also has a blog with MANY free recipes. Even after 15 years, my friends still request that I bring Bryanna's seitan roast, amazing gravy, and cashew-silken tofu creme cheeze frosting (with vegan carrot cake, of course) to our holiday potlucks.

I receive no payment or other benefits for this endorsement. :-) Her web site is:

Paul Regnier said...

The perils of comfort food, that was what I finally succumbed to... If they did dairy free cheese and tomato pizza in a box, I might still be a vegan!

Sheri Fry said...

Hi Dr. Shenkman!

My father, Walter Fry is your patient. Thank you for encouraging him towards a healthier diet and passing along the Vegetarian Starter Kit Booklet to us. I know table salt is bad. I do not add it to our food or keep it in the house. However, I've recently been reading about the benefits of Pink Himalayan Salt and wanted to get your opinion on it. Do you feel there would be any benefit to add it to our diet? Thank you. BTW, dad wanted me to tell you, we are now adding ground flaxseed to his daily oatmeal! He said he likes it!

VeganHeartDoc said...

Sheri, Thanks so much for stopping by my blog, and I'm glad your dad is making some good positive changes to his diet. Your question about Himalayan salt led to my most recent blog post, and I've done my best to answer your question there:

Sheri Fry said...

Thank you for your blog post regarding my question. It was very informative. Been enjoying reading your blog! We admire all that you do! I try to keep myself up to date and enjoy researching health and nutrition info. I am always striving to educate myself and incorporate better nutritional choices for us. Thank you for the information and reminder to look at where the information is coming from, especially if the source is a company trying to sell a product. I already went to Trader Joe's to incorporate some of the vegetarian products listed in the starter kit booklet! I appreciate you taking the time to look into and answer my question!

catchy court said...

i Love vegan food, it is healthy as well as tasty that give us taste like chicken.