I Tried It: Goat’s Milk

When I tried goat’s milk yogurt for the first time, I’m not sure what I was expecting. Maybe something tangy or earthy. Something that smelled farm-like. But, for those of you who haven’t tried it, it tastes like yogurt. For real. It’s been a pretty seamless transition.

I love me some yogurt. Greek, regular, never fruit on the bottom. Just plain love. I’m pretty sure I lived on yogurt and granola alone for a year. But, recently I started working with a rock star nutritionist to help me navigate the sometimes-intense waters of whole health, ayurveda and nutrition – and to address some specific imbalances I’ve been having. It is all one big experiment. An experiment that includes: goat’s milk stuff.

For a while I eliminated dairy all together. But with some additional changes to my diet, it all started to feel just too restrictive and I missed my yogurt-y treat. So goat’s milk yogurt it is. Today I topped mine with a handful of almonds, half a chopped apple, and some hemp seed, and I’m a happy camper.

This is the kind my health food store carries. They name all their goats, so that’s cute.

Image from Sharon Montrose

I Tried It: Quinoa Cereal


I’m not afraid of trying new things, food wise. At least when it comes to non-meat, non-processed things. Or things with pits. Or, like, puddings with weird textures. Okay, I’m not always good at trying new things. But I’ve tried new foods for you here before. So let’s add one more item to the mix: Quinoa Cereal.

I’ve had these Cocomama packets in my pantry for a few months now – an attempt to work a protein rich breakfast into my routine. They look so good in the picture. Like oatmeal, but without all the gluten. And these are ready-to-eat. You can heat ’em up, or not. Just dive in.

After a good pantry clean-out, I had 3 pouches of this stuff waiting to be tasted. So, today was the day. Me, spoon, open pouch. Honey almond cereal, let’s go.

You guys, it just didn’t taste like food. I put it in a bowl and heated it up in the microwave. Still not so good. Then, I dumped about a table spoon of cinnamon and some salt on top and ate it up.

The “flavors” just didn’t taste real. I think any one would be better off just making regular quinoa in advance, and treat it like breakfast. Maybe cook it so it’s still a little mushier, add some breakfasty-type seasonings.

I’m going to go ahead and say, this stuff just isn’t for me. I’d imagine if you added fruit and honey, this would be a decent breakfast. But, for me, this was not a win.

Martini Kitchen: Lazy Protein Salad

quinoa arugula salad

I’m a lazy cook. And by that I mean I don’t ever cook things. But what I do on occasion is put two or three ingredients in the same place together, and that’s like cooking in a way.

This is why salads are awesome. Several ingredients, no real cooking, still feels like food as long as it’s not all lettuce. Adding protein to a meal turns it into something hearty that will help you survive the Hungarian winter. I imagine. So here’s my easy, lazy protein salad. It involves eggs, arugula, red quinoa and a dressing of your choice – or consider a lemon squeeze if you’re feeling cosmopolitan.

I’ve gotten ahead of myself.

Now that we all know how to be fancy and poach an egg in the microwave (Because, here.), let’s go back to the original foolproof egg prep – hard boiling. I’m not going to tell you how to do this. (Okay, except 12 is the answer in case you were thinking of looking it up.)

– Boil some eggs. Did you know that peeling a hard boiled egg is easier if you run it under cold water? It’s real.

– Make quinoa. The best thing about quinoa is that it feels like a grain but it’s gluten free and protein packed. Shazam. Also, it’s hard to ruin. Simmer, sit. Swiffer the floor or something for 10 minutes. When it’s cooked it will pop a little bit in your mouth, which sounds scary but is awesome.

– Arugula. Buy some.

Okay, this is really the whole thing. It’s a salad so mix those things together. With a lemon vinagrete I actually really like this for breakfast. It’s protein-y and filling without being heavy and gross. In the summer slice up one of those precious $3 avocados in there and then just weep with joy because avocados will do that.

Hiding Behind the Mat

I feel like it’s important to share this no-dairy journey, but I’ll spare you the play-by-play action. It’s only day deux and I’m not facing any particularly interesting challenges or feeling any special magic vegan fairy dust. I am happy to be on this path knowing I will feel better in the long run, and I’m really looking forward to feeling clearer.

In the meantime, life goes on. I’m currently looking for new health insurance (again!). I’m working with my daily practice and am considering taking this show on the road – adding some classes into the mix and considering taking up the teaching mantle once again.

It’s intimidating to think about going back out there. I’m afraid of rejection, of putting myself “out there” and it seems so much safer to practice at home and pontificate online.

I wonder, too, if I’m waiting to be “better” before I go out there. Waiting to have it all figured out – I have a perfect daily practice, I eat like a superhero! – to build myself up before I step out on the ledge. Even though I know damn well there is no perfect and that I just need to get out there.

Oh, man. Sometimes I hate those kinds of realizations. Because once you get there, there’s really no excuse to stay where you are without moving forward. Anyone want to come with me?

Lesson Learned. Again.

I’ve been pining lately – for a version of myself with clear eyes and skin, open breathing and open body. It’s the no dairy version of me. Remember when I stopped eating dairy and eggs? And I kind of complained that the changes were too subtle. I wanted SHAZAM! kind of changes. And eventually, the holidays came and I dove into a sugary vat of butter and eggs.

Well, guess what? SHAZAM! I feel like crap. I could go into all the seamy details, but for now let’s just say all that too-subtle opening and energy seems like a dream state and a good starting point. So here we go again. Day 1, no dairy. Again.

UPDATE: To keep myself honest, I plan on tweeting some of my yummy vegan food choices with the tags #febislovemonth and #veganlunch. Follow along if you like! I could use the encouragement.

Update: Chicken Dog

The universe is laughing at how dramatic I was about that whole thing. I thanked the chicken. I almost gagged. But when it was done, the house smelled like chicken soup, and I was really very proud of myself. And SO excited to feed Kaylee.

Well, kids, guess what? My dog don’t like chicken.

She ate the rice, she ate the vegetables, she spit the chicken on the floor and looked at me like I was nuts.

Seriously? Did I create a vegetarian dog? We’ll try again tomorrow. But if this dog doesn’t even like chicken, I may have to get her checked out.

The Dog Food Dilemma

When I was a little girl, and I wanted to help my mom in the kitchen, she pulled up a chair for me, pointed at a pile of raw chicken cutlets and told me to first dunk it in the egg flour, then the flour egg, then the breadcrumbs.

I remember the slimy chicken threatening to slip through my fingers, the cloying egg – I don’t think I could take a deep breath until it was floured and breaded. Then the next piece. And the next.

Nothing much has changed; I haven’t eaten meat in ten years, nor have I ever prepared my own.

So why was I picking out chicken at the grocery store this morning?

When Kaylee first came to us, we fed her dry, “healthy” (read: expensive) dog food. If she ever grabbed a pizza crust off the curb during a walk and upset her stomach, we’d phone in an extra order of rice when we got take out, and that was about it.

And when I moved back to NY with her, I was on a strict budget. One of the things I sacrificed was her pricey dog food. But after reading a little bit more about what’s in dog food, I was completely turned off. I re-budgeted, switched her back to the natural stuff – slowly, over a period of a week. For some reason, it wasn’t sitting well with her.

To cut this potentially long story a bit shorter, I’ve been cooking her food for about a month now. Rice, carrots, sweet potatoes and whatever veggies I had on hand that she liked.

The girl was hungry. Really hungry. At first I chalked up her dinner-time enthusiasm to sheer enjoyment. But then I started to worry about her protein intake.

After much reading, I’m still not sure what I believe. Some sources say that dogs can thrive on a completely vegetarian diet. But others disagree. I’m still not sure I want to turn my dog into a guinea pig. But I don’t want to feed her one, either.

Here’s where the chicken comes in. If I am going to feed my animal another animal, I want to be completely comfortable with it. If it’s a natural process, I want to be in on it. I don’t want to repudiate factory meat for myself, but feed my dog canned, cubed, disguised meat product. If I’m feeding her meat, I’m going to have to touch it.

So, tonight, I’m pouring myself a glass of wine, turning on the boiling water, and putting my hands on a store-bought carcass. I’ll pick around the bones and give her some meat – along with her now-usual rice, carrots and veggies. I’ll save the broth (on the recommendation of a friend), and pour it over the dry food I’m still mixing in to her diet. And I will try to remember to breathe while I do it.

Dear Dairy: Week 4 or I Can’t Believe It’s Not… oh.

Four weeks, people! Coming from someone who thinks of cheese as an acceptable substitute for, well, pretty much any other kind of food there is, I’m pretty proud of myself.

A thing or two snuck in under the radar. I ate a really delicious scone that someone brought for me as a gift. It was made with butter, but it was also made with love. It was good, but to be honest, it tasted a little like a giant, flakey pat of sugary butter. Really buttery. And then I kind of felt like my insides were painted with butter. You know, which is either good or bad, I haven’t decided yet.

After four weeks, I do think my system is running cleaner. It’s not perfect, and there are still things I want to experiment with and try. But, overall, I feel less bloated and less crave-y. Also, I know that ‘crave-y’ isn’t a word. I’m definitely willing to stick with a mostly dairy-less diet.

Anything less than completely black or white is difficult for me. Once a little bit of parmesan is okay, then why not eat some pepperjack out of a bag by the handful? But I am going to keep going for now.

There’s a lot of room for improvement in how I feed myself. I’m looking forward to cooking more (er, sort of) and relying on processed soy foods less. Green things look good to me in the grocery store, so it’s about time I figured out how to cook ’em.

Also, it’s World Go Vegan week, apparently. Who knew? New York has a whopping one restaurant participating. But the sites linked here have more information on how you can participate.

You know, or not. Frankly, in the middle of this month I somehow smelled some bacon, and, MAN, did that smell good.

Dear Dairy: Week 3

Wherein I discover some things and ask some questions.

I am slowly realizing how many foods secretly stash dairy products in the ingredient list. And that if you eat foods that don’t come in a wrapper, you can avoid the gruesome discovery of “milk products” while you’re reading the package and chewing.

Here’s the thing: that granola bar has whey in it. And even though cheese isn’t listed on the menu, it’s sprinkled on top of your taco. And when everyone is eating homemade potato and cheese frittatas, you damn well better find a way to make your oatmeal look appetizing or you’re going to fall, hard.

These are the pitfalls, so what are the benefits?

Well, I’m still kind of waiting on that one. My energy seems better (which could also be a product of the running and the yoga – but who’s keeping track?). But there’s none of this miracle cure I read about in other people’s success stories. The skin-clearing-weight-loss-lighter-than-air thing isn’t really happening. Am I asking too much? Or not doing enough?

My dad offers that maybe it’s not dairy. Maybe it’s gluten. Or sugar. Or a combination of these things that are effecting my overall. Or, and here’s my alternate theory, everything is actually already fine. And the fluctuations in weight and energy are normal – overblown in my mind because I’m focusing on them. Am I Gaslighting myself here? I feel as though I’m looking for a miracle – but I don’t even know what I’m trying to cure. It’s exceptionally possible that I’m trying to “fix” myself – emotionally, psychologically – by controlling my diet.

On the other hand, there’s the simple concept of going through life without needing to support the meat and dairy industries. That’s a pretty attractive lure in itself. It might help me in this experiment to stop thinking so much about myself. (Despite my obvious need to talk about myself all the time to strangers online, all this navel gazing starts to feel self-indulgent at a certain point.) And to think instead about the overall good that comes from avoiding a tacit support for industries whose practices are noted for cruelty – physically to animals, and economically to farmers and small businesses.

After week 4, will I continue? Will my mom, as she fears, have to construct me a separate salad without cheese sprinkled on top come Christmas? Or will I have jumped on another well-fed bandwagon at that point? It’s hardly a cliff-hanger, but, still, something to consider.

If anyone has any vegan wisdom out there, I’d be glad to hear it.

Dear Dairy: Week 2

I still don’t miss you cheese! But I feel like crap, to be honest. Is this detox? Or do I just feel this way coincidentally?

Greek yogurt is something I miss. The soy kind is soupy and simply a medium for walnuts, flax and berries. And on a brunch menu, my options are limited to carbo loading. At least until I learn to get a little more creative and eat greens for breakfast.

But aside from that, the eating part has been just fine. I’m trying new things. I cooked some really gorgeous brussel sprouts (as evidenced in an earlier post), and this week I even bought some Kale at the grocery store just because it looked so pretty. I asked a friend how to prepare it too, so it looks like I won’t just stick those purty kale fronds in a vase and stare at them all week.

I am craving green things, even though yesterday I ate only tan things like cereal and knish. Hmm, maybe that’s why I need the kale.

I am grateful for the boost I felt earlier in the week when my energy was up. I was running and moving well. I bought flax to sprinkle on my soy yogurt, like a real live healthy person.

But now I’m achey breaky and my everything hurts. My yoga is challenging because I feel as though I’m practicing inside someone else’s body. There are other factors of course: my cycle is a big one, and that ugly coughing thing that’s going around the office could be another.

The experiment continues, though, as I am assuming this is just ‘the hump’ that happens in any detox. I’m getting greedy for achievement, and find myself setting goals. Go 4 weeks, go until the end of the year! But that’s just the ego part. And I need to remind myself just to listen and take care of myself. The goal is simply to see how this feels.

I could use a good dose of the detox high right about now, though. Just as a moral booster. Maybe the kale will do the trick.