Saturday, February 11, 2012

The New Breakfast Sandwich

I remember the days when an Egg Mcmuffin was a real treat -- all that warm gooey, greasy mess. That was before I realized that my dairy/grease coma was from the dairy and the grease. I just thought I was not a morning person. Now I eat to support the way I want my body and mind to feel. But I still want something warm and decadent on a cold morning!

This was actually my "second breakfast" yesterday. I make a point of paying attention to my true appetite, and eating when I want to eat instead of when the clock might indicate I should. In the early morning, readying the kids for their day, coffee is wanted and gratefully consumed, but then I want only fresh juice to wash down my pills. I get productive for several hours and about 10:30 or 11:00 is the first time I find myself wanting food. This grilled cheese fit the bill yesterday morning.

I started with a couple of pieces of toasted Eziekiel bread, laid out on a warm, dry griddle. I assembled the pieces with daiya non-dairy cheese, sundried tomatoes and arugula. Then I tried a new trick that worked out beautifully. I put the cover of a pot over the toasts to keep the warmth inside long enough for the daiya to melt a little-- just a couple of minutes. Then I could assemble the sandwich without the daiya shreds falling all over the place. They were already "glued" to the bread. Then I just flipped the sandwich a couple more times until it was all melty and gooey through and through. Mmmmm.

Today marks my second "Veganniversary"! There will be those of you who don't consider me a vegan because, on the rare occasion, I consume shellfish or raw tuna, and that's fine with me. I was never too keen on labels anyway. Pescetarians eat dairy and eggs, which I definitely do not, so that's not the right label. My diet is almost always vegan. I guess the most accurate way to describe what I eat is vegan, dabbling in macrobiotics -- a health-conscious approach which may or may not include small amounts of seafood.

Many of you know my health story, so you can tune out now, but for those of you who might be interested, I decided to become vegan mainly because of a chronic illness. I'd learned a mostly plant-based diet was my best chance for a long, healthy, fully ambulatory life. I did not struggle with the diet at all. It just felt right. Eighteen months into my vegan journey I became weak and fainted a couple of times, which had never happened to me before. It was determined I had a B12 deficiency. Around that time I began wanting seafood -- badly. My body has always spoken loud and clear to me and intuitively I know it is important to listen. Nonetheless, because my B12 stores had been so seriously depleted, I also addressed the problem medically. I worked with my trusted Integrative Medicine M.D. who gave me B12 shots every two weeks. Finally I asked her to teach me how to do it myself. I already give myself a daily injection of MS medicine anyway, so needles don't scare me. I get my supplies from my doctor, and doing it myself I save a fortune and am in charge of my own health. My doctor explained that during times of stress, we burn through our B12 at a much higher rate, so she authorized weekly shots whenever I feel I need them.

Now, many folks would say that the need for injections to maintain adequate B12 stores would indicate that a vegan diet is not healthy. Not so fast . . . the two years of my vegan life are the first years when there was no progression of MS activity on the MRI! I've been diagnosed for 16 years, and the disease has progressed every year since it was diagnosed, until I went vegan! I'd say the evidence shows a little weekly injection to make being vegan work for me is worth it.  I urge all of you, vegan or not, to listen to your body's signals and know your nutrition levels, and do whatever you need to do to maintain a healthy balance.


  1. Hi Cheryl,

    I love this post! The picture, the recipe, the story, the whole thing. Wonderful!

    Have a great weekend... and be healthy.

  2. Cheryl, I LOVE this ---from the sandwich to the self-controlled and maintained non-progression!

    Love you so...keep up the good work, and Happy Veganniverary! :)

  3. I have never tried Daiya cheese. Does it really taste like cheese, or can you describe the taste to me?

  4. I think it tastes like cheese, if I remember correctly. I went off cheese completely for three months when I went vegan because the veggie cheeses I tried were awful to my dairy-tainted tastebuds. So I had to be good and dairy-detoxed before I tried it again and liked it. So I think the flavor is similar, kind of salty and fatty, but the texture is very different. A little bit of it melted still holds its shape. when you pile a lot on it is more gooey than stretchy. I really only like it in a grilled cheese. For pizzas, I'd rather go without and just enjoy the veggies. Daiya is pretty good, but remember it's not diet food!

  5. thanks Cheryl! Yes, there are lots of vegan foods that are not low calorie----ahem, potato chips and oreos for example!

  6. Funny..

    I never liked seafood but I get the urges for some B12 enriched energy drink sometimes...

    But only the one with B12, the other one without B12 doesn´t smell or taste as good..and B12 has a distinct smell and taste.

    For your body to crave sea animals as B12 source, you must have eaten sea animals as a main B12 source in your youth.

    For me it was the distinct taste and sweetness of a vitamin sirup that I got as a child..the same B12 taste and sweetness that now draws me to energy drinks.

    But mostly I get my B12 from an injection solution and enriched foods. Sometimes I need more when I am under stress.

    When I have enough B12 I don´t have the strong urge to get an energy drink..but I still might drink one now and than. It is my little helper when I feel one of those weather related headaches approaching

  7. Hello Irish-- I bet you're right about the childhood association. Cravings and aversions do tend to be strong signals of what we need. When I follow them I always feel more healthy, centered and peaceful.