What is The Vegan(ish) Experiment?

Our family (me, my husband D, and our four-year-old Molly) started 2009 with a mostly-vegan, macrobiotic-inspired diet (although I have to admit, the strict macro rules have pretty much gone out the window). I have seen a marked improvement in my chronic migraines, and I'm enjoying proving that we can make amazing, mouth-watering, memorable food without animal products. For a more in-depth intro, click here.

I stopped updating this blog quite awhile back, when life got in the way. I'm still keeping a mostly vegan kitchen, though, and loving it. Have fun browsing my recipes!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Day 7: Tempeh tacos!

Monday, I was back to teaching after a nice, nearly-two-week Winter Break. We now have a little routine set up: come home, cook and eat dinner, and then I prepare the next day's lunch while Donal does the dishes. We're not only eating healthier, we're also saving a ton of money on lunch. Previously, I would usually eat frozen dinners (all-natural, but still not the best), and he usually got soup or a sandwich from a cafe.

Monday, we had leftover barley-mushroom soup (see the Day Four post). Even better the second day! I added some spinach to it while reheating it on the stove.

Lunch every day has been some variety of tofu/tempeh sandwich: hummus on whole-grain bread or whole-wheat pita with marinated tofu and tempeh, shredded cabbage, spinach leaves, and sometimes shredded carrots. We've also been bringing fruit, and we both brought a few days' worth of quinoa pilaf, made with veggie stock, to keep in our fridges at work and round out the meal. Click here to make your own marinated tofu (we did the lemon tahini marinade this time); for tempeh, use the same marinade but cook at 300 for just 30-40 minutes (turning after 20 minutes).

Snacks are nuts, wasabi peas, and dried fruit. I definitely get hungry more often on this diet, and I have the tendency to lose weight when I'm busy if I'm not careful, so the tasty snacks we've been eating have been crucial.

On Tuesday, we had tempeh-peanut saute with bok choy and spinach on whole-wheat pasta. The recipe was from The Self Healing Cookbook. It was good, although not our favorite dish so far. I didn't take a picture of this one.

Tonight, I was going to make couscous with peanut sauce ... but we are all peanuted-out. So I made tempeh, pinto bean, and rice tacos instead:

Because I grew up in the Southwest, this was comfort food for me. And a plus: our pantry held some organic taco shells with only oil and masa (corn flour) as the ingredients, unlike the hydrogenated oil-ridden ones sold by the big brands.

Here is the recipe [Edited on 5/11/09 to add: I prefer the other tempeh taco recipe I invented, which you can find here!]

Tempeh, Pinto Bean, and Brown Rice Tacos

2 T. canola oil or olive oil
1 package tempeh (available in the produce section, near the tofu)
1 package of natural taco seasoning, or use the recipe here like I did (I omitted the corn starch)
1 cup water
1 can pinto beans, drained
2 c. cooked brown rice

Taco shells, heated in the oven for 5 minutes at 350
Shredded cabbage
Chopped cilantro

Crumble tempeh into ground beef-sized crumbles. Heat oil in a large skillet and add tempeh. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 6-8 minutes until tempeh is browned. While tempeh is browning, mix dry ingredients of taco seasoning (if you're making your own) into 1 cup of water. After the tempeh is browned, add beans and heat through. Add water/seasoning mix and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to a simmer and cook for 10-15 minutes, until most of the liquid is gone. Turn off heat, add rice, and stir.

Spoon tempeh, bean, and rice mixture into taco shells. Top with shredded cabbage.

This was a quick dinner - about half an hour; we took a shortcut and used the 10-minute boil-in-bag rice I keep in the pantry for emergencies.

Stay tuned for my next post, in which I'll write about my burgeoning correspondence with Jessica Porter, the author of the Hip Chick book. I had emailed her, and she emailed back a really nice, very cool reply -- with a bunch of links for me on the scientific research that's been done on macrobiotics. I've been putting off writing back to her until I can look into the links, but suffice it to say, I feel bad about being snarky in my review of her book! I was impressed by her desire to discuss the philosophy and science behind macrobiotics with me, in spite of my transparent skepticism in my blog (which she read.) More on this later, but Jessica, if you're reading this -- thanks so much for the email, and I will reply soon!


  1. Looks delicious. And now I'm hungry again...

  2. I am just catching up with your first week and it looks like you are eating delicious meals! Hopefully you are feeling great too. Keep up the great cooking!

  3. I'd be interested in hearing about how your health is changing, or is it too early to tell? I checked my cholesterol 3 weeks after I went on the plant-based diet and it had gone done about 70 points and all the percentages were so much better than before...hope it's helping those awful headaches.

  4. You'll never believe what my word verification was on the post I just did - ropha - I was talking about your health and rophe means "healing". Neat, huh?

  5. Hi Becki-
    I am very impressed with your commitment to eating healthier. That is something that I should do too. But I can also tell that it takes a lot of planning and organization, things I am lacking!
    I just came from C Beth's post about our art pen pals....you are so very sweet! I think that everyone was crazy inspired and I am so glad that I played along. I am also glad for the feedback. The WOW Pendants are a new line I am developing...I hope to open an Etsy site this year and feature those. But I make jewelry of all sorts and currently I am featured on the cover of a magazine for beating out 200+ other entries in a contest! I knew you were a 7th grade teacher, and I was one too in another life, so I appreciate all that you do!
    Enjoy the day!
    Tesori Trovati Jewelry
    P.S. I love your husband's blog...have "won" a few times...even my 7yo daughter once!

  6. Cate - it was delicious! And no migraine-inducing MSG in it, like there is in the store-bought taco mix.

    Amy - thanks for the support!

    Mom - my overall "rophe" feels fairly good. Eating natural foods and staying away from refined sugar makes me just feel better from head to toe. Headaches are not really better yet, but I'm giving it more time.

    Erin - Thanks for stopping by! I will come leave a longer comment on your blog.


I love it when people come back and tell me how the recipes turned out - please consider doing so! Thanks!


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