Tuesday, July 17, 2012

SNAP Challenge Day 2: Snack, I Can't

Well hello Day 2 of the SNAP Challenge. Let us begin with a recap of everything that happened after that delicious, filling breakfast yesterday.

Yesterday for lunch I rocked out Lentil Taco "Meat" with some homemade corn tortilla cups. One cup of lentils has an amazing 18 grams of protein. I was stuffed after eating them. Don't they look delicious?

Snack time was carrots, but I'll be honest -- carrots just weren't feeling right. So I filled up on office coffee and water instead.

Then, last night, I hit my personal Big Fail, which is that sometimes when I get home from work, I don't have the energy to make dinner despite feeling famished. Well, guess what, folks? When you're on SNAP Challenge, you can't just have a bowl of cereal, unless that bowl of cereal was in your budget, in which case it wasn't in mine.


I was considering just not eating last night, but threw some of my Lentil Taco "Meat" leftovers into the microwave, threw on some corn tortillas, topped with some hot sauce, and in a fit of desperation I cut open some Daiya Pepperjack Shreds to put on top. With a little over $4 leftover from my produce budget and the fact that I haven't opened my Peanut Butter yet, I had the room to fudge. This, of course, means that I'm not opening my Peanut Butter this week. Protein loss for the desperation of fake cheese.

This morning, I decided to mix up my Breakfast Quinoa Cereal. The leftover quinoa from yesterday was in the fridge, so I threw on the same ingredients of cardamom, cinnamon, raisins, and maple syrup, but I also cut up one of my bananas. So I had a cold breakfast cereal that was downright delicious.

Lunch was a gimme -- provided by work for our monthly staff meeting. Yes, it was part of my rules, so I went with it. Hate on me if you want, but that's how it is. After work I went to the gym, after which I was starving, so I came home to a giant bowl of soaked black beans.

Yes, I bought dried beans because they're cheaper. They're less convenient, but as my boss says, "You can have two out of the three: cheap, healthy, fast." So I went for cheap and healthy. I soaked the entire bag of black beans all day, and then drained and rinsed them. I put them in a stockpot full of about 6 cups of water and brought the pot up to a boil. Once it was boiling, I skimmed the foam off the top, brought them to a simmer, and cooked covered for 45 minutes. Draining and rinsing them again, I began to prepare the Sweet Potato and Black Bean Soup, substituting plain old water for the vegetable stock because, well, it's too expensive. Curious where black beans stand? One cup of black beans has 15 grams of protein and 15 grams of fiber!

Crush point. I'm hungry. I want to eat. FEED ME! I have chips and snacks and things I could munch on while waiting for dinner. And here is my major fail when it comes to my diet: I'm a snacker. A hardcore, constant snacker. Vegetables, fruit, chips, you name it, I nosh it. This week is going to teach me that snacking just ain't where it's at.

So I decided to sacrifice one of my romain hearts and half a tomato for a simple salad with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. It did the job. Well, that and a giant cup of water. But I was still hungry. Soup, please?

One thing I've learned in becoming an ovo-vegetarian (a vegan that eats eggs occasionally): Spice is everything. If you have salt and pepper, you can do anything. Garlic? Cumin? Cinnamon? Seriously, with spices you can make anything taste good. I've learned to love spices, hardcore style. If I had to live on a SNAP budget permanently, I'd spend every spare penny I had on boatloads of spices.

And now, the soup -- which is delicious, by the way -- pureed with a bit of cilantro on top.

As it stands, I have $2.02 left to spend this week, and that's without having bought my canned white beans for the Quinoa, Kale, White Bean Soup. Here's hoping I can land a cheap can at Wal-Mart with a hechsher?

Also, note to self: Drink. More. Water. The more water you drink, the more full you feel.