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!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Day 180: The Neti Pot

I'm writing a non-food-related post today, about one of my current best friends. I know many of my readers like to live natural lifestyles, so I hope I can convince some of you to get to know this friend of mine:

The Neti Pot
(Not-very-good picture taken with my phone -- camera out of batteries)

Those of you who read my sister's blog will have heard of this strange device. A few months ago, C.Beth posted a courageous picture of herself using a Neti Pot -- a little pitcher that you fill with warm saltwater and use to irrigate your nose and sinuses. I am not as brave as Beth, so I'm not posting a picture of myself using this thing. However, seeing as how she and I are identical twins, her picture will still give you a pretty darn good idea of how I look when I use a Neti Pot.

Saline irrigation has been clinically shown to have positive effects. I am a pretty big skeptic when it comes to alternative therapies -- I like my medicine to be science-based, and I am much more likely to take a clinical-trial-backed prescription than a non-FDA-approved herb -- so I use the Cochrane Report website when I want to find out if a therapy has been shown to be beneficial or not. The Cochrane folks have looked at 8 studies done on nasal saline irrigation, with the result that, "Saline irrigations are well tolerated. Although minor side effects are common, the beneficial effect of saline appears to outweigh these drawbacks for the majority of patients. The use of topical saline could be included as a treatment adjunct for the symptoms of chronic rhinosinusitis."

It is recommended that people with chronic nasal problems (like me, with my allergies) use the Neti Pot every day, twice a day. I'm not that dedicated. But I do try to remember to use it when I get a cold. (I know that the above quote talks about chronic rhinosinusitis, not acute conditions like the common cold. But I couldn't find any studies done regarding irrigation as a therapy for acute conditions, and I figure it can't hurt.)

I got an ear and sinus infection last month after battling a cold ... I hadn't remembered to use my Neti Pot. Then I came down with a cold on Thursday. I started to use the Neti Pot, morning and night. By Friday, it was one of the worst head colds I'd had in a long time. And by Sunday ... it was almost completely gone. I had a similar experience a few months ago, right after I'd gotten my Neti Pot, when it seems to have helped me get over another cold much more quickly than usual.

So, thanks to my wonderful dad who sent me my Neti Pot after seeing my comment on Beth's blog - she's made a believer out of him, and he, in turn, helped convert me! If there's anyone reading who is interested in getting a Neti Pot for themselves, you can usually find them in your local drug store (right by many of the alternative therapies that I usually eschew). Or, get yourself over to any big site like Amazon and order one.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Day 178: Caribbean Tabbouleh

I haven't been writing, because it was our last few weeks of school. We've been extremely busy. I've been on summer vacation since Thursday, though, and am finally able to spend some quality time in the kitchen.

For the next couple of weeks, I have some help -- my two stepdaughters, visiting from Minnesota:
Nearly-11-year-old C., my sous-chef (she's fantastic at chopping veggies and herbs)

And 9-year-old N., my nanny (she kept Molly busy while C. & I were cooking and D. was at the store)

Luckily, C. and N. are adventurous and were excited to be the guinea pigs as I tried a new invention -- Caribbean Tabbouleh. Like Middle-Eastern tabbouleh (a.k.a. tabouli), it contains bulgur wheat, cucumbers, onions, and a lemon/olive oil dressing. But I also added some Caribbean spices, pineapple, mint, and colorful bell peppers. It turned out fantastic, a bright and fresh dish for summer (which finally seems to be hitting us here in New England, albeit in a very wet way.)

Caribbean Tabbouleh


1 c. bulgur wheat (I used coarse bulgur)
2 T. olive oil
2 c. boiling water

One 20-oz can pineapple tidbits, well-drained
2 cucumbers, chopped
1 bunch scallions, just the green parts, chopped
1 bell pepper (I acually used half a red one and half a yellow one), seeded and chopped
A handful of fresh mint leaves, chopped

1/2 t. ground allspice
1/4 t. ground ginger
1/4 t. garlic powder
pinch cinnamon
pinch nutmeg
pinch cayenne
salt to taste
Juice of two small lemons (about 3-4 T.)
1/4 c. olive oil

  1. In a heat-proof bowl, stir the olive oil into the bulgur. Add the boiling water. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes, then drain.
  2. Allow bulgur to cool, then add all chopped vegetables and herbs.
  3. Whisk lemon juice, vinegar, and spices together. Pour dressing on salad, toss, and chill. (The longer you can chill it, the better ... I think we made it about half an hour before we ate it. It was fantastic, but I expect it will be even better tomorrow, as these types of salads are...)
This makes a good 8 servings or more.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Day 159: Lentil Salad with Cilantro-Cumin Dressing

It's FINALLY warming up here. Supposed to get cool again by the end of the week, but I'm ignoring that fact for now. Warm weather means nice salads at our house - the kind you can make and leave in the fridge for days, and they get better every day. Yum!

This recipe was inspired by the one here (for cooking the lentils) and the one here (one of my favorites). The dressing is so good - I'd definitely make it again for a regular green salad!

Lentil Salad with Cilantro-Cumin Dressing
(The side dish is Simple Cauliflower from 101 Cookbooks - a recipe we just discovered and have made twice in the last week, just because it's so good.)

2 c. dry lentils
1 small onion, peeled and halved
1 t. minced garlic
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper

3/4 c. cilantro leaves, unpacked
1/2 c. olive oil
1/2 c. lime juice
1 T cumin (I used a little more because I'm a cumin fanatic)
salt to taste

3 small, or two large, multi-colored bell peppers, diced
1 (4-oz.) can diced fire-roasted green chiles
1 (14-oz.) can corn kernels
a bunch scallions, chopped (save the white part for another recipe)

  1. Put the lentils, onion, garlic, bay leaf, salt, and pepper in a large pot. Cover with 1 1/2-2 inches water and bring to a boil.
  2. Reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for 30 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Drain if necessary.
  3. While waiting for water to boil, start the dressing: blend cilantro and olive oil in a food processor. Leave at room temperature while lentils are cooking so that the cilantro infuses the oil.
  4. Chop peppers and scallions.
  5. While lentils are draining, finish the salad dressing: add lime juice and cumin to the food processor and blend well. Add salt to taste.
  6. Combine drained lentils, vegetables, and dressing. Season with salt as needed. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

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