Monday, November 8, 2010

Meatless Monday #2: Success, But I Need BRAIN FOOD

I had high hopes for meatless Monday #2, and then I received notification, on Friday night, that my Monday was not going to go anywhere near the way I planned. I have to head out to Brooklyn concerning my still pending medical leave. I don't know exactly what I am in for, but any time I am on the move (and, in this case, slightly stressed out) my eating gets all screwed up. So I got up super early this morning to start planning out my day. I need:
  • a method of transportation and a realistic timetable to go with it (this will be NYC mass transit, since I can not drive anymore),
  • all of my medical papers gathered together just in case this office "misplaced" the copies I faxed to them
  • food and hydration to get me through this whole thing since I have no idea how long it is going to last and travel one way is at least 1.5 hours (the homeward bound trip might be during rush hour, so who knows how long I'll be traveling today... just call me Frodo).
I have already lost out on another Vegan-Monday, with my breakfast, but I'll be happy to make it through this Monday meatless, gluten-free and dairy-free (I always end up with accidental gluten or dairy ingestion when I am caught out for long periods of time and starving!). So, wish me luck, here goes the run down...


I surprised the heck out of my husband by being up early enough to make pancakes! I have this fantastic gluten-free pancake mix from Bob's Red Mill .  I make it using one egg (this is where the vegan part of my day fell apart), my hazelnut milk and some olive oil. That's it, it is really easy. Then I have some organic maple syrup with it and I am happy. I desperately needed a happy-making breakfast day as I prepared for the day ahead.

I had to remind my husband it wasn't the weekend and bustle him along to make sure he got to work on time and give him ton of suggestions for a meatless lunch option, hoping that he would succeed in his meatless day with this first step in the right direction! As for me, well we shall see, as the day passes on...

Oh boy. This day turned out to be a doozy!Let's begin with right before lunch. I decided to go throw the wash into the dryer so it would be ready for when I was leaving. When I got down to the laundry room I discovered that I SOMEHOW closed the washing machine door without putting any clothing in it: I had done a wash of nothing! Lovely, lovely and just a sneak peek into the day before me, but I just blamed my silly brain and moved on.


For lunch, I kept it really simple because I was cutting it close to my leaving time. I had my "cheese" sandwich again. Now, I don't want you to think that this is all I ever eat. I hadn't had one since last meatless Monday because I ran out of my rice cheese and rice bread. Last night I got more Mozzarella flavored rice cheese and a loaf of brown rice bread. I had a small helping of FOOD SHOULD TASTE GOOD "The Works" chips with some salsa and leftover potato salad. I am going to give you a pathetic recipe for this potato salad, because this is all we have. This is my mother-in-law's RIDICULOUSLY delicious potato salad (vegetarian, but not vegan) and my husband and I keep trying to make it perfectly based on the list of ingredients we are given and directions only the best cooks (not us) can make do with.

**Note: What follows should qualify only as a pseudo-recipe. I was cooking pretty late last night and did not have the time to take pictures or to attempt to finally break this dish down appropriately! Have fun with it.**

  • Potatoes
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Mayo
  • Italian dressing (Good Seasonings Italian or Wishbone Italian are what she has used)
  • Mustard
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
I pretty much put the ingredients in order of greatest proportion to least. We decided last night that we would make two - three potatoes per egg we hard boiled (I think we had 5 eggs last night). The potatoes have to be peeled, cut if necessary (if using baby red potatoes this is not necessary) and boiled, as if you are going to mash them. Slice the eggs and put the slices in a large bowl. When the potatoes are tender, drain them and mash with a masher only once (maybe twice) - you still want some large potato chunks. Add the potatoes to the bowl with the eggs. Add a small amount (1 tablespoon?) of mustard. Add Italian dressing - I pretty much drizzle it all over the stuff in the bowl (2-3 tablespoons, maybe?). Finally, add the mayo. This should be at least 3/4 cup, but probably more. Stir the salad together gently (folding with a spatula works for me) to get the mayo, mustard and Italian dressing dispersed evenly. Salt and pepper to taste. (And play with the other ingredients as well! Some day soon I will have actual measurements!) You may serve immediately or keep in the fridge and serve cold, either way it is delicious!

After lunch, I packed up my bag with my snacks, a bottle of water, my medicine, my letters from my doctor and set out to go get a MetroCard. It was bitter cold outside and as I stepped onto the bus stop, it started to rain. I was having very bad flashbacks of my working days out in the big city dealing with this commute all year round. Today's trip would be a little different. Today I would be dealing with a three-borough tour with transfers praying to the heavens that I could see  my way through it (part of my reason for my medical leave is impaired vision that corrective lenses can't even fix!).

I got to Manhattan with ease and the bus dropped me off literally across the street from my train station (I definitely have a guardian angel!). I took the train out of Manhattan into Brooklyn to find the dreaded Department of Education building I haven't been to in 13 years. Of course I got out of the train facing in the complete wrong direction and spent a long while walking, half-blindly, in search for the number 65. When I finally found it, I was two hours early, so I ducked into a Barnes & Noble (more about that on another posting) for about an hour. I finally gave in and went into the building an hour early, declaring, with a very goofy smile, to the gentleman in the room I was supposed to seek out, "Hi, I am extremely early for an appointment about my medical leave." He looked utterly confused and so I showed him the letter I received. He went back into the office and checked his calendar and emerged saying, "You know this is for tomorrow, right? Today is not the ninth." I just remembered my stupid washing machine from this morning and thought, "Strike two," but tried to, instead, be witty and said, "I told you I was extremely early!" *goofy smile*

I asked a bunch of nonsensical questions, felt mortified, told the guy I'd see him tomorrow and tried to get out of there as fast as possible. By the time I was back out on the street all I kept thinking was, "This is why I am on medical leave. The brain fog is still here! Do they really want someone in my condition in a classroom right now? Ug!" Anyway, I did a super-fast power walk back to the train - I was sure everyone in Brooklyn could see I had no business being among the date-knowers, the appointment-keepers, the paper-readers. I still get jumbled up with print.

Anyway, change of plans going home, no long lonely bus ride. I was taking the ferry home, so I could go meet my husband at school and he could drive us both home in time to bring Champ (our smaller dog) for his grooming appointment. There was traffic like crazy on the island, so I had to call the groomer to say we would be late for the 5 o'clock appointment - would that be ok, or should we reschedule? The receptionist said, "Are you sure you have the right number? I don't have any 5o'clocks. What's the name?" I gave her the info and, I AM NOT KIDDING YOU, she said, "Hon, you know the appointment was for four, right?" How I did not break down hysterical crying right there I don't know. STRIKE THREE.

Hello. My name is Nicole Rivera. I have Idiopathic Intracranial Hypertension and it has turned my brain to goo. 

I must have sounded distressed. They said they would take Champ if we could get him there in a half-hour, so that's what my husband did while I got to work on dinner. Food. My great escape.


 When I thought I was going to be stuck in the inquisition concerning my medical leave, I left my husband a bag of pasta and some defrosting marinara sauce so he could stay meatless for another Monday, but now that I was home I needed to salvage my day.
Meatless Monday #2 dinner - freedom from pasta!!
Our dinner was comprised of black beans and white rice, a salad with green leaf, tomatoes, celery and carrots and Gardein's "Santa Fe Good Stuff". It was really good. I have had the gardein before - it is a soy protein and pretty good, but NOW that I am reading the ingredients I see that it has GLUTEN in it. (I AM DONE TODAY - STRIKE FOUR! Now I am past crying, I can't stop laughing!!) This is funny because I was beginning to wonder about whether or not I had a sensitivity to black beans tonight because I didn't feel well right after dinner - NOW I KNOW WHY! Oh boy. Well, here is the black beans recipe from the back of the Goya black beans can that I have always used. (I didn't have a green bell pepper, so I used an orange one!)


    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1/2 cup chopped onions
    • 1/4 cup chopped green peppers
    • 2 cloves of minced garlic
    • 1 (15 ounce) cans black beans ( undrained)
    • 3/4 cup water
    • 1 teaspoon oregano
    • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
    • 1 package sazon goya ( without annato *see note)
    • 1 tablespoon cooking wine or 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
    • 2 cups cooked white rice


  1. Heat oil in a medium sauce pan, sauté onion,green pepper, and garlic.
  2. Sauté until tender@8-10 minutes.
  3. Add in remaining ingredients and stir until boiling, reduce heat and simmer until sauce is reduced@ 20 minutes.
  4. Serve over white rice.

So, it was a really, really long and confusing meatless Monday. I did not achieve the prowess of vegan-ness, but I was meatless. I have been successful for 2/5 of my World Vegan Month 2010 personal challenge! I have also learned that gardein, at least the "santa fe good stuff" product, has gluten and is no longer an option for me, however, for all you gluten-lovers looking for a meat-replacement, you might want to try it out. I have another tri-borough trip tomorrow, this time for real, so hopefully my gluten infraction will not haunt me in my travels!

There are still THREE MONDAYS (click to see: meatless Monday #3: apple cinnamon quinoa breakfast & begetarian chili dinner, meatless Monday #4: black bean burgers) left in November, so it is  not too late for all of my fellow omnivore's to take up the challenge of meatless Mondays in support of the Vegans all around us! It is only one day per week, but it gives you plenty to think about.

1 comment:

  1. I'm very impressed by your commitment. I've started doing meatless mondays in my house too but we are going vegetarian, not vegan.


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