I hate the word “diet”. Like….I really, really do. I’ve been on a diet almost my entire life, so, for me, the word evokes a major feeling of restriction and deprivation. It also suggests, by the name alone, that we are either “on it” or “off it”. When we go off it, and we always do, we’re most likely to end up right where we started before we went on it in the first place. That’s why when talking about the plant-based diet, I’d rather use the word "lifestyle".
Last week I was talking about when I first started eating plant-based, I felt deprived of eating sandwiches. I remember missing my favorite ham, cheese & mustard combo on squishy white bread. I realized I had actually been grieving that sandwich. It was nothing fancy...not even the mustard was fancy, but my mom would stop whatever she was doing to happily prepare that sandwich for me, slicing it diagonally and serving it on one of her treasured, beautifully decorated dishes as if I were the Queen of England.
It’s important to note here that ALL change is grief. Even good, positive, healthful change. Change signals the end of something and the beginning of something else. And where that happens, there is grief, my friends; especially when we find ourselves emotionally attached to our food at a very deep level. This isn’t to be confused with emotional eating, although they often go hand-in-hand, as they can in my case.
Like, when you're crying and eating out of a bag of chips at the same time.
It’s having that unwillingness to let go of certain foods because it’s what we know or the recipes have sentimental value, having been passed down through generations, or it’s holiday tradition, it’s the way our friends are eating...it’s how my momma use to make it.
And when you boil all that down, folks, eating certain foods gives us that feeling of safety and comfort, reassuring us that all is right with the world.
And if it’s not, well then you at least have your favorite sandwich.
I was the girl who used to say, “I could never give up cheese.” I was also the girl who thought…”Well if I can’t have the sandwich I like, then I’m having none at all.” So, I didn’t eat them for a long time. But over the years, as my taste buds have changed and healed, I’ve learned to like new foods and unique combinations that would never have appealed to me before.
Last week I shared some cold sandwich variations from my repertoire and this week I’ve promised to deliver some warm sammie creations perfect for the summer meal rotation. I hope they ease the pain of breaking up with the sandwiches of yesterday...and seduce you to fall in love all over again.
1. VBLT- I LOVE BLTs...especially in the summer time. Veggie Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato and light vegan Mayo. You can buy pre-packaged vegan bacon (check the ingredients list to be sure it doesn't contain dairy or egg) or simply sauté some sliced Portobello mushrooms in a little vegan Worcestershire sauce, maple syrup and a few drops of liquid smoke. Sautéing mushrooms in soy sauce, tamari (gluten free) or coconut aminos (soy free) also does the trick for me.
2. Loaded BBQ- Sauté shredded sweet potato or carrot in your favorite barbeque sauce until warmed. Trust me. Top with shredded cabbage, guacamole and/or jarred pineapple salsa to give it that Caribbean flare. Alternatively, top with your favorite coleslaw using eggless mayo, such as Just Mayo. Make a quick, fresh pineapple salsa with diced pineapple, red onion and squeeze a lime wedge mixed in.
3. Grilled Cheeze- There is something about a grilled cheese sandwich. Whether you’re dipping it in creamy tomato soup or taking it up a notch with a thinly sliced tomato and spread of Dijon mustard, it may surprise you to know the sky can be the limit. Any good vegan cheese recipe always starts with potatoes, carrots and onion...I don’t care who you are. Oh and cashews just take it to a whole 'nother level as it does in this recipe. I like to skip the vegan butter part and just slather it on two pieces of whole grain toasted bread.
If you really want to go down the rabbit-hole for some swoon-worthy grilled cheese combinations, check out Peta's top picks for #nationalgrilledcheese day.
4. Quick Portobello Panini- Cooked mushrooms do make a repeat appearance in many of my sandwiches. The surprising part is I use to loathe mushrooms only a few years ago. If I can learn to like new foods after hating them most of my life, anyone can. Sauté sliced portobello mushroom in soy sauce, tamari (gluten free) or coconut aminos (soy free) and serve on toasted bread slathered with hummus, your favorite mustard and fresh spinach leaves.
5. Breakfast McSandwich- This Happy Herbivore, Meal Mentor inspired breakfast creation is savory and satiating for the soul. And it’s a perfect way to start your Saturday morning when you have a little more time to indulge in distant memories of Egg McMuffins past...with a south of the border twist.
Jeanmare and Cristy are creators and contributors of the Living Simply Nourished Blog. Grab a cup of tea (or coffee!), find a cozy spot, scroll around, read some stories, find some inspiration, and enjoy!
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