what I eat in a day (vegan food diary)
This post might not be what you think. As a plant-based, health-focused human, I've heard lots of assumptions about what I eat on a daily basis; some assume that I'm a purist vegan fairy princess, subsiding only on kale and superfood-dusted smoothies, others assume that I simply swap Standard American Diet staples like chicken nuggets and hot dogs with their processed, vegetarian counterparts. My truth is neither but also somewhere in the middle.
Due to the nature of my job as a solo attorney with a practice that operates across many time zones, the only consistent element of my schedule is inconsistency. This, combined with my natural tendency eat intuitively, means that the oft-recommended "Sunday meal planning for the week" is a poor fit for me; eating on the fly is necessary and proper for my lifestyle and body. However, as I am currently in the "crunch time" phase of preparing for my third bar exam (sigh), I decided this would be a good time to share what I eat when I am home but have little spare time to dedicate to cooking and food preparation. I share what I eat over the span of not one but two days, here, to showcase the variety but also the dramatic differences in what I eat day-to-day. I've also decided to keep it "extra real" with the photography, sharing phone pictures rather than the higher-quality, "real camera" photos I use with recipes.
My one request as I proceed, sweet readers, is that you maintain your sweetness rather than succumb to the judgmental tendencies that can overtake kind people when separated from others by a screen. I do not post this in proclamation that this is the ultimate, perfect way to eat; it is simply what works for my body and the practical factors in my life... and this includes lots of fats ("good" and "bad"), lots of fiber, quite a bit of protein (more than the United States' RDA, most days), and (the horror!) some gluten, restaurant foods, and alcohol. Maybe some aspects would work for you; maybe not. Either way, I hope you enjoy this little glimpse into my day-to-day noms.
- My waking time varies, but today, it's around 8am. I drink about 8 - 12 ounces of water from the cup on my nightstand immediately upon waking. I'll spare you the repetition, but so you know, I drink quite a lot of water throughout the day, every day.
- I brush my teeth, lace up the ratty purple sneakers that make me oh-so-happy, and go for a "run" outside for about half an hour. I place that word in quotes because, as I've had exercise-induced asthma since childhood, the running pace my body permits is more like walk walk walk SPRINT walk walk sprint walk walk walk... You get the picture. It's sort of like involuntary interval training, and I love everything about it. I love being outside and greeting the many species of birds and flowers in my Florida neighborhood. It's a moving meditation and serves as a time to set an intention and to seal my focus for the day.
- Once home, I quickly shower off, and make a modified version of my Hazelnut Mocha Smoothie for "breakfast," using chocolate-flavored vegan protein powder, cold brew coffee, almond milk, cacao, maca root powder, and cinnamon. I'm often not truly hungry until the early afternoon, so this is a good way to aid muscle recovery and energize for the day without consuming something heavier than I feel ready to eat. I sip it while I take my first conference call of the day.
- Around 11am, I walk down to my local library (about 10-15 minutes, depending on how briskly I walk) to study in peace. While I study, I sip lots of water, of course, and also munch (as quietly as humanly possible) on a couple of handfuls of yummy roasted, spiced chickpeas once I begin to feel hungry.
- Around 2pm, I am truly and properly hungry, so I walk home from the library, and whip up some late lunch. Today, I have a big bowl of lentil soup that I'd made in the crockpot the day before (I'm still perfecting the recipe, but the main ingredients are red lentils, tomato, turmeric, ginger, cardamom, and coriander, served with about a cup of raw spinach wilted in and a squeeze of lemon... the flavor profile is similar to a dal, but the texture is thick, like a Western-style lentil soup), and some crispy fold-over avocado "quesadillas" (with no queso involved). For the avo-dillas, I spread a halved avocado between two low-carb tortillas, season generously with Tony Chachere's Creole seasoning and nutritional yeast, fold in half, and toast in a hot pan brushed with olive oil until lightly browned on both sides. The whole process only takes about ten minutes (including clean-up), and provides a very satisfying, hearty, mid-day meal. (Raja, my littlest kitty, was very interested, but not interested enough to stray from her usual diet of cat food.) For "dessert," I wholeheartedly enjoy an especially juicy nectarine.
- I continue to study for several hours following. My lunch was filling, so I don't require any snacks, though I do enjoy a big mug of Yogi "Skin Detox" tea for a late-afternoon pick-me-up. Rose and hibiscus teas are some of my favorites, and I love this one as it incorporates both!
- I often love to cook dinner for my husband and myself... but with the bar exam so soon, it just wasn't happening, so we ordered some Chinese delivery. While neither were particularly amazing (both required copious amounts of Sriracha sauce to suit my palate), I was happy to see that the restaurant offered "Kung Pao tofu" and vegetable dumplings. I don't often eat white flour due to the high glycemic load, but through strategic food combining, the glycemic impact was lowered by eating these veggie-stuffed dumplings with fiber-packed peppers and protein-rich tofu and peanuts. My life would be a sad one without dumplings!
- For dessert, I have a little bit of homemade peanut butter ice cream from my freezer (recipe coming soon)! While big portions make for pretty pictures, my coconut-based ice creams tend to be very rich, so I usually don't eat more than a tennis ball-sized scoop at once.
- More studying, lots and lots of water, a big mug of peppermint tea, and it's off to bed for me!
- It's Saturday; my husband and I sleep in and enjoy a slow, lazy morning. Rather than a running meditation, I do a meditation on our bed in supta baddha konasana pose with an amethyst mala made by a dear friend.
- For a light, late-morning breakfast, I enjoy a big cold brew with almond milk, a handful each of fresh cherries and strawberries, and about two tablespoons of crunchy peanut butter.
- I study for a few hours, and then find myself craving something refreshing but light... so I make a homemade juice with a huge cucumber, about two cups of spinach, a lemon, and two huge hunks of frozen-and-thawed ginger. It is similar to my Immortality Potion, but simpler. (Thank you, Aunt Margaret, for the fun elephant glasses!)
- Around 3pm, I'm ready for something a little more substantial, so I heat up a small portion of VLGL mac and cheese hanging out in my freezer. Freezing leftovers helps to make for satisfying food on the fly, and also helps to keep food from going to waste. Studying continues.
- Late in the afternoon, my husband and I meet up with my parents at a sports bar in the airport. I have a mediocre glass of Pinot Grigio and share some chili-dusted edamame with the table.
- I have late dinner plans with friends, but things are running a little behind... so while I wait for everything to come together at home, I have a few spoonfuls of that peanut butter ice cream to tide me over (a nice thing about adulthood is no one can stop me from having dessert first!).
- For dinner, I join two of my very best friends at a local hot pot spot I'd been dying to try called Hotto Potto. It is absolutely, wonderfully delicious, and I encourage anyone who comes to Orlando to try it. I split the "veggie dinner" which consists of many raw veggies, dumplings, tofu, and some noodles (which I skip) and vegetarian tom yum and miso broth with Dawson, a fellow plant-based friend, and we also add some tofu puffs (my favorite!) to the mix. (The beef in the picture was all for Brian, who actually decided that he preferred HP's plant-based offerings).
So, as you can see, neither kale nor vegan hot dogs happened in these two days, though there was tofu, plenty of veggies, avocado, and wine. I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into my culinary life!