meal planning and lessons learned

Vegan Meal PlanningWeight is rolling off of both of us, and we are not hungry. Four days into this new lifestyle, and  I have lost 3 pounds, and John has lost 5 . Not too shabby.

I am a researcher.  I enjoy researching and look for peer-reviewed professional research for support. Books based on peer-reviewed research speak to me; therefore, this heart reversal diet simply feels right. If if this diet can also reverse/prevent diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, and cancer, then why not follow it???

What we have tried and learned

artichoke heart and bean salad1. Meal planning and prep is a necessity. Meal planning has taken a whole new twist as we pour through four different cookbooks and the internet looking for ideas and menus. We make a list of meals with recipe books, recipe names, and page numbers…and add to a shopping list. Recipes seem to make large quantities of food, so one recipe can make enough for 5-or 6 servings. (The first time I use a recipe, I make it as written, planning to adjust for quantity and flavorings the next time.) For example, the artichoke heart and bean salad pictured here made enough to fill a three inch deep, six by six inch bowl, and the leftover pumpkin lentil soup filled a 20 ounce container.

2. Plan out the grocery store visits. We live a good 20 minutes away from a grocery store, so daily visits to make sure all food is fresh is not really an option.  Instead, we keep the grocery list with us whenever we leave the house and work in grocery shopping at the end of other errands.

new pantry3. We had to reorganize the pantry and the refrigerator. I spent Friday evening cleaning out the panty and fridge, throwing out opened food we could no longer use and bagging up unopened food to take to a minister friend for his church pantry.  Some food will go to my office next week. The results were a much better organized pantry…and much more room since we no longer need different oils, salad dressings, condiments, and such.

4. These are not my mother’s beans! As a child, I remember helping my mother wash beans and set them to soak overnight so we could cook them in a large pot all day on the stove. Crockpots and pressure cookers make this no longer necessary, but, even better….a variety of beans are available canned and cooked. We choose those that are unseasoned and thoroughly rinse them before we heat and add our own seasonings.

veggie bowl5. Quantity of food eaten is not as important as the quality of the food. This part is amazing to me!  Well, not the quality of food part, but the quantity of food. Basically, John has no calorie restriction – unheard of in most diets! Portions are not measured. We feel full (not stuffed) and are still losing weight. This is so interesting to me that the entire next blog post will explore quantity vs calories vs portions.

bananas-chocolate sauce6. Cravings have not been as much of an issue as we expected. While our books suggest that cravings for fat will disappear after three months, neither of us crave fat.  Perhaps we are still frightened by the heart attack and the stents, but we simply have not missed the meat. Every now and then I crave sugar, or John craves a treat, but a piece of fruit dipped in chocolate sauce – yes, a healthy homemade chocolate sauce with cocoa, vanilla, maple syrup, and arrowroot  – does the trick.

medication-cartoon7. Keeping up with the changing medications has been more trouble and more time-consuming than meal planning and prep. Dealing with medications, side effects, doctors, and labs has been far worse than the lifestyle change. John’s heart cath was done through his wrist, and his forearm is heavily bruised from the wrist into the elbow.  He also is unable to lift more than 10 pounds. He left the hospital with 4 new meds, 3 of which were discontinued during the first week – after, of course, he filled month-long prescriptions. During that first week he saw his PCP and the lab techs twice, but will not see the cardiologist for 3 months. (Do not get me started on the current standard of medical care!) His second day home from the hospital, his BP was 97/57.  A phone call to the PCP resulted in removing two meds as it appears he was on 4 BP medications! On day 5 post hospital, lab tests showed his blood was too thin, so he was taken off one of his blood thinners until the next lab test. Figuring out which meds are morning and which meds are evening and which meds he is even supposed to take has been a nightmare. This makes me wonder how older patients (we are not old!) with memory issues handle such events. This upcoming week sees another lab  appointment with a med check and a visit to the cardiologist’s PA.  Give me meal planning and meal prep any day!

8. Traditional foods diabetics are told to avoid do not seem to be a problem.  John’s fasting BS has been below 100…despite eating wild rice, brown rice, fruit, and some maple syrup.


Are we vegan?

I guess so… At least that is the plan 🙂 We are experimenting with recipes and actually enjoying this life style change. We have a lot to learn, but that;s fine -learning is good. We both have more weight to lose, and John plans to integrate Tai Cheng into his routine once he is approved for activity.

Tonight I will prepare a crockpot for overnight oatmeal, and we have more new dishes on tomorrow’s menu.

We can do this!

Did you see that photo of bananas drizzled with chocolate sauce?  Well, I found and tweaked the recipe below, and we drizzle chocolate over cherries, pineapples, blueberries, bananas, orange slices, apple slices….if it’s a fruit, I drizzle it.


Chocolate Sauce (for drizzling or dipping or eating with a spoon)

  • 3 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 tsp arrowroot powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  1. Combine all ingredients together in a saucepan.
  2. Mix well, cooking over medium low heat until thickened – stirring constantly!
  3. Drizzle, dip, or eat with a spoon!






Author: mduggan10

I have lived in a Victorian-era house, spent several years living on a boat, and now live at the top of a mountain. Throughout his all, I have been a coffee snob, a whole foods snob, and an instructional designer.

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