If you have not yet read my post about why I am going vegan for a month, you should.
Yesterday I came extremely close to sneaking non-vegan food. Twice. I have had absolutely no trouble finding genuinely good food all month, even those situations that I thought might be difficult have turned out not to be such a problem. I have never once considered eating something vegan because there was no vegan food available, or I did not like any of the vegan options. But the times that have gotten me repeatedly are when I have specific cravings. These are almost exclusively times when I have also been sporting a hang-over, where it is not just that I crave something non-vegan, but I crave something that contains a large quantity of cheese and butter. (Yes, I know there are decent substitutes, but that does not mean they are as easy to get from regular restaurants, or that a substitute is what you want when you are specifically craving one particular meal from one particular cafe). Yesterday, though, I was just feeling a little under the weather (completely unrelated to drinking), and it drove me so close to buying non-vegan food I can’t believe that I came out of it not having intentionally failed the 30 day challenge, less than a week from its completion.
One thing I have noticed over the last few days is that I have been quite tired and a bit run-down, despite sleeping a lot, and I suspect that I may be a bit low on iron. It is my own fault, really – last week we were pretty lazy about food. Nick and I have barely cooked for ourselves (or, I have barely cooked for us), instead first having left-overs, followed by eating a couple of pre-prepared Amy’s meals (canned soup, vegetables with noodles), followed by take-away (ie falafels), followed by eating out. And I haven’t really thought hard about the nutritional content of what we have been eating – sure we are getting a lot of vegetables, and there is iron in the soy milk I was having most mornings on my breakfast, but I was not so focused on green, leafy vegetables, dried beans, or other vegan-friendly iron-rich foods. So yesterday, on top of being a little unwell I was also convinced that something rich in iron would perk me up; and when I thought of foods rich in iron I thought of fish; and when I thought of fish I thought of a delicious salmon and avocado wrap they have at Ella Café, just up the street from us. And suddenly that grilled salmon wrap was the only thing I wanted in all the world.
It is a lot easier to cheat when no one is looking, and I kept thinking: No one needs to know. Nick was at work, and I could always lie on my blog. I tried to suggest alternatives to myself – Bliss Café, an equal distance away, does very satisfying vegan food, couldn’t I just get something from there? But Bliss Café doesn’t take credit cards, and I was in no mood to go on a walk in the wrong direction just to find one of my bank’s ATMs. I even ended up dialing the number for Ella Café, and the second it started ringing I thought to myself: “If they don’t answer then I am not going to break the vegan diet.” The phone kept ringing, and I really began to hope that they wouldn’t answer, that I would be saved from myself. The phone was picked up, of course, but I was greeted with a loud beep and static noise because I had accidentally dialled the number for the fax machine. I took it as a sign and picked up a seaweed salad (great source of iron) and some vegan noodles from the local supermarket, and felt very pleased with myself and much recovered after a proper meal.
Then, only four or five hours later I found myself in Manhattan (obviously I went into Manhattan to run some errands – I do not want to give the impression I had a blackout episode), at Eataly about to buy fancy gianduja chocolates. I was still feeling a bit unwell which made me a little miserable, and I wanted something really comforting to eat that would make me feel better. In this case I managed to avoid temptation (just) by being put off by the line I would have to wait in to buy my chocolates, and by buying other foods. In this case I bought a beautiful loaf of bread, and a couple of avocados – the main ingredients for the simplest comfort food there is (avocado on toast with melty butter, or vegan spread, sea salt and fresh-ground black pepper), which we had for dinner in front of an episode of 1970s British sci-fi show “Blake’s Seven”.
What I should have done, what I should do any time I am feeling grumpy, is have a bowl of sorbet. If I had had any left at the time, this may well have been the answer to all my problems. Here is the wonderful nectarine sorbet recipe I promised a little while ago. But first I have to say this about sorbet: I have never before owned an ice cream maker. In fact, we don’t own one now, but rather have it on loan from fellow blogger Nanna Teitsdóttir while she is away in Iceland. However, I have looked at ice cream recipes for as long as I have been cooking and always puzzled over the bit where it says “Pour into an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s directions.” I imagined that this processing would take ages, and involve some complicated process. It does not – for the ice cream maker we had (a Cuisinart Automatic Ice Cream Maker), you poured it in, turned it on, and in 20 minutes you had sorbet. It was amazing.
I know of nothing more beautiful than the colour and taste of a ripe nectarine. What makes this sorbet so good is that it is basically just nectarines and sugar. So, the most important thing is that you have the most wonderful, ripe nectarines you can find.
6-7 perfectly ripe nectarines (you can buy them a little underripe, but you must wait for them to ripen)
2/3 cup of water
3/4 cup of white or raw sugar (you can use a little less if you like – it is quite sweet)
1 teaspoon of lemon juice or 1 teaspoon of bitters
Slice up the nectarines into medium-sized cubes, leaving the skin on, and place in a medium-large pot. Pour 2/3 cup of water in with the nectarines and place over medium heat. Cover and bring to a light simmer, cooking until the nectarines are soft, about 10 minutes. Take off the heat and stir in the sugar, and put to one side until it has cooled to room temperature.
Once cooled, purée in a food processor or blender (if using a food processor take note of the liquid fill line, lest you end up like me with nectarine sugar water all over the floor). Place in the fridge until completely cold (this will take several hours, but it can be left overnight).
Pour into an ice cream maker and process according to the manufacturer’s directions.