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Roasted Potatoes with a Healthy Herb Aioli …And My 21 Day Vegan Challenge

This is the ultimate healthy potato dish. Crispy, creamy and herby, it tastes fabulous whether it’s warm or cold! Plus since it is dairy and egg free it makes it the ultimate picnic friendly potato salad!
This is the ultimate healthy potato dish. Crispy, creamy and herby, it tastes fabulous whether it's warm or cold! Plus since it is dairy and egg free it makes it the ultimate picnic friendly potato salad!

23 days ago I did something out of the ordinary. I decided to stop taking allergy pills and rid myself of allergies forever.  I didn’t realize it would completely change my life.

It all started on an unusually gloomy Saturday morning when I met my closest girlfriend for breakfast. She is a total health nut and looks fantastic.  She revolutionized her life 18 months ago when she gave up junk food, alcohol and started running and hitting the gym daily.  Within months, she looked lean, toned and had completely changed her lifestyle.  She was actually one of my inspirations a year ago when I decided to pick up the weights and start hitting the gym hardcore again.  I wrote all about it here and included one of my favorite recipes 🙂  Which happens to be plant based as well!

  Grilled Corn and Avocado Salad from the Girl and the Kitchen

As I ordered an egg white omelette loaded with veggies and some turkey, she ordered a plain bagel with a bowl of fruit.  Odd for her considering she does not consume too many carbs on a day to day basis.

“Carbing it up are you?” I asked her.  She looked at me from the side of her eye as she picked out two strange little packets out of her purse, 1 filled with a creamy substance and another a nut butter.

“I’m vegan. And I don’t want to talk about it.”

“Vegan?!? What?!? Why? How? Wait where are you getting your protein from?” I exclaimed in disbelief.

“Aghhhh that’s the number one question! ‘Where are you getting your protein?’ Come On Mila you of all people should know! Whatever I don’t want to talk about it.” She rolled her eyes and shmeared her bagel with some white cream cheese looking spread.

“No I mean you don’t like lots of food like beans and lentils.” I said, trying not to offend her further.

“I do Mila and I eat them and nuts all day.”

“Alright. And how do you feel?”

She exhaled, smiled and said, “Flipping amazing.”

“Alright tell me all about it.”  And she proceeded to explain.  First with caution and slight annoyance and then with excitement and passion.

“Mila every single one of my grandparents has had or has cancer.  It’s not giving me very high hopes.  So I researched how I can prevent it. And my best chance is to be 100% plant based.”

I listened while quietly chewing my tasteless omelette.  And the more I listened the more intrigued I became.  My mom died of cancer.  There is a possibility it’s genetic.  I have a child.  I need to ensure that my future is as promising as possible.

“Just do your research. It’s probably the most freeing feeling I have ever had to be able to eat and indulge in all this food and not be worried about calories anymore.  You want a solution to overeating? Here it is Mila.”

We kissed good-bye on the cheek and as I kissed I sneezed.

“F*cking allergies'” I said as I continued to sneeze and quickly popped an anti-histamine pill.

“Oh Mila, look into allergies and veganism.  Chances are, you can get rid of them.”

I was slightly panicked.  I could not pinpoint where my fear and anxiety was coming from but I did not like it.

“I love steak! And roasted chicken! And cheesy goodness. How am I going to do this?!?  I am a flipping chef! I cannot discriminate like this!”

I ran through this over and over in my head… I researched for 8 hours straight.  And I realized that this was not mandatory.  I did not have to do this.  I could continue eating meat and dairy and go on in my merry way.

But something in me wouldn’t let me.

And so as I researched I ran into several celebs who tried it for 22 days and loved it.  So the next day. I decided would be my first day in my 22 day plant based trial. It also happened to be Father’s Day and we were having a picnic at the lake by our house.

Immediately people noticed I was not eating any of the meat products and the questioning started.  It’s a well known fact that I am a meat and dairy lover so when I pushed away cheese and gyros that day questions started coming.  My dad was concerned, my husband and brother thought I was a lunatic and my sister in law was curious to see what would happen.  I was curious myself.

I heard of all these amazing things happening to people who went plant based: increased energy, better digestion, more stamina during workouts, clearer skin, less allergies, euphoric feelings.  I wanted it all!

I realized one incredible thing. I can carb up! I absolutely adore potatoes, rice, lentils, pasta!  But I tried to stay away in fear of the high glycemic indexes.  My beloved potato was an enemy in my mind. My carb nemesis.  But no more! I could indulge and enjoy in all the potatoes I wanted.   And we all know how much I love potatoes.

This is the ultimate healthy potato dish. Crispy, creamy and herby, it tastes fabulous whether it's warm or cold! Plus since it is dairy and egg free it makes it the ultimate picnic friendly potato salad!

And I LOVE fruits. Growing up, I could go through 6-7 peaches in a few hours, I would eat cherries by the pound and tangerines by the bag.  As I started watching my macros I was told I needed to watch my fruit intake. So I had to make difficult choices of either eating a bowl of shiny cherries or a few ounces of turkey breast.  Well since protein was king I chose the turkey breast. Now I no longer needed to make that choice and it was empowering.

After 2 days I did not feel much different physically, except I felt free.  Mentally.  I ate all day.  I was munching on fruits, salads, coconut yogurts, delicious fruity granola and nuts.  Dinners I had my favorite tomato and cucumber salads with bread used to dip into the heavenly olive oil dressing. (Recipe on the way).  I chased it down with cherries or berries or nothing at all.  I never felt like I had to restrict.  I felt free.

Day 3 rolled around and the inevitable happened: withdrawal.  And it sucked.

I had the shakes, I had migraines, I had body aches.  However, I never had fatigue.  I insured to stuff myself with food to keep my calories up.  Ha! Never thought I would have to do that!

It felt as if I was withdrawing from some sort of chemical drug.  As it turned out, I was. Studies showed dairy had similar addictive qualities as morphine.

I complained to hubs and despite his disagreement of my plan he encouraged me to go and get a double wheat grass shot from Jamba Juice. 15 minutes later, I felt significantly better.  Wheat grass as it turns out is fabulous!

By day 5, I felt better. By day 7… I was in love with this life.

My 2nd week I was feeling amazing!  My moods were stable. My workouts were better!  I was able to do higher weights, faster sets and needed a smaller recovery time.  But most importantly, I noticed how happy I was and how good I felt.  I lost the need to drink coffee in the morning and I was one of those people who drank double cappucinos by the boat load.  And I lost my typical 2pm exhaustion.  I used to practically pass out on my keyboard like a narcoleptic each day at 2pm.  This went away.  My energy was stable throughout the whole day.

There were moments where I legitimately wondered if I was high.  I felt upbeat. Energetic. And completely fulfilled.  I was never starving! I never felt deprived.  I ate and I smiled a lot.  I didn’t watch my portions. I inhaled salads, grilled vegetables, fragrant basmati rice, pasta with marinara, breads with loads of olive oil for dipping, giant green fruit and veggie smoothies, juicy fruits and fragrant berries. I ate uber flavorful veggie burgers loaded with creamy avocado and roasted red peppers and alongside them were crispy fries. Best of all, I never felt guilty.  I had no cheat meals.  I was so happy.

I worried going into week 3.  I was concerned that there would be no way this could last.  This fabulous feeling of euphoria.  But everyone I spoke to who had been vegan said, just wait, it only gets better.  It did.  Week 3 was fantastic.  I felt even more energized!  There was one more result.  I lost my allergies.

For the past 7 years I have been popping allergy pills almost daily due to my horrible indoor and outdoor allergies.  I’m today 20 days pill free.  No sneezing, stuffy nose, watery eyes.  No more inhalers, nose sprays and crumpled up tissues in every pocket.  I was free of my allergies.

And I could not deny one thing, despite my constant carb feasts and the ingestion of close to 2000 calories, I was losing weight.  I changed nothing else in my life. My workouts, sleep and stress levels all remained the same. But at the end of day 18 the scale showed an 8 pound loss.  8 pounds and 2% body fat to be exact.

Don’t believe me? In the picture below, on the left was day 1 plant based and on the right plant based day 21.  The proof is in the photos.

This is the ultimate healthy potato dish. Crispy, creamy and herby, it tastes fabulous whether it's warm or cold! Plus since it is dairy and egg free it makes it the ultimate picnic friendly potato salad!
So.  Now that I’m at day 22 where do I go from here?  Well, I plan on eating this way 90% of the time. I’m a chef after all and my clients and readers still like meat and dairy and fish.  I am also a wife and a mother and hubs will not go plant based…yet 🙂  I cook meat, chicken and seafood weekly.  And while as of now I have not felt the need to so called “cheat” I would imagine there may be a time when I want a juicy steak or a roasted chicken.

Jared Leto said it best…he considers himself a Chegan 🙂  A cheating vegan.  I think I like that, I think I want to be a chegan.  There are so many negative connotations with the “V” word.  That I almost dread telling people that is how I am basing my lifestyle.  There is a lot of hostility and negativity regarding what people put in their mouths.  However, the way I look at it, I am not trying to prove anything to anyone.  I wanted to feel better and create a healthier lifestyle.

“Mila, if you feel better and look better then do not explain yourself to anyone.  You can tell them to go F off.”  This was said by my husband to me yesterday when I panicked about going to my carnivore enthusiast cousin’s house for a BBQ.

And when I asked my cousin to grill my delicious chipotle black bean burger, he said, “Mila you are a chef, you should not be eating cardboard as food.  I will not be contaminating my grill with this garbage.”

I smiled, told him to F off…we both had a good laugh and he made me my veggie burger.  Case closed.

I have been lucky that the people in my life have for the most part been really understanding and supportive.  Most people become intrigued as I did and want to know more about why I am doing this and where to get more info.  So in the event you are interested in more information here are some of my favorite movies and resources.

  • Fat Sick and Nearly Dead 1&2   : This is a favorite of mine.  Smart, funny and inspiring.
  • Forks over Knives: Is a fantastic documentary but also an incredible source for recipes, testimonials and all around great information.
  • Interview with 98 Year Old Vegan: This was eye opening!  Here is a heart surgeon who was operating until 95 years old!  Who has lived vegan for almost 50 years.  Really terrific information
  • Vegan Celebrities : I thought this was pretty cool.  We all love our celebs might as well check out the vegan ones.
  • Vegan Bodybuilders: I was very interested to learn about the insane amount of vegan bodybuilders.  There is plenty of protein in vegan diets for me that was crucial to understand since I am trying to increase muscle.
  • This Rawsome Vegan Life: Gorgeous blog with fantastic recipes and mind blowingly gorgeous photographs.

So I am going to say this… My blog will still have the same philosophy.  I have always cooked fresh and delicious meals and this will not change.  I’m enjoying discovering how my culinary abilities manifest as I learn to play with new ingredients and techniques.

I felt this was important to share with my readers because it is a huge part of my life.  Food is my passion but health needs to be at the forefront of that passion.  And as long as I feel fantastic, I will continue to live and eat this way 🙂

And let me ask you, if you got to eat crispy roasted potatoes smothered in a creamy and garlic sauce, would you be unhappy?

I rest my case 😉

This is the ultimate healthy potato dish. Crispy, creamy and herby, it tastes fabulous whether it's warm or cold! Plus since it is dairy and egg free it makes it the ultimate picnic friendly potato salad!

These potatoes are the ultimate plant based experience.  Full of flavor, vitamins and good for you fats!

This is the ultimate healthy potato dish. Crispy, creamy and herby, it tastes fabulous whether it's warm or cold! Plus since it is dairy and egg free it makes it the ultimate picnic friendly potato salad!

Plus it can be served cold as a super outdoor friendly potato salad.  Since there is no mayo, there is no harm in letting it stay outside for awhile at a picnic or BBQ.  And with flavors this good, no one will have one bad thing to say about the plant based diet.

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Roasted Potatoes with a Healthy Herb Aioli ...And My 21 Day Vegan Challenge

Roasted Potatoes with a Healthy Herb Aioli …And My 21 Day Vegan Challenge


  • Author: Mila Furman
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x

Description

This is the ultimate healthy potato dish. Crispy, creamy and herby, it tastes fabulous whether it’s warm or cold! Plus since it is dairy and egg free it makes it the ultimate picnic friendly potato salad!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1.5 pounds red potatoes (cut into quarters)
  • 1 large ripe avocado
  • 1.2 a bunch of cilantro
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1 jalapeno (seeds removed if you do not want it too spicy)
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 450-degrees
  2. Place cut up potatoes on baking sheet covered with foil and drizzle with olive, salt and pepper. You can also use a foil pan for the ultimate easy clean-up.
  3. Place into the oven for 15 minutes, shake the pan 15 minutes into cooking to allow the potatoes to cook evenly on all sides.
  4. Add avocado, cilantro, garlic, lime juice, jalapeno, salt, pepper and water into blender or food processor. Process until smooth and the texture of mayo. If you need to thin it out, just add more water a bit at a time while processing.
  5. Remove potatoes from the oven when fork tender, about 25-30 minutes, toss in avocado aioli immediately and serve.
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Category: Vegan
  • Cuisine: Fusion

This is the ultimate healthy potato dish. Crispy, creamy and herby, it tastes fabulous whether it's warm or cold! Plus since it is dairy and egg free it makes it the ultimate picnic friendly potato salad!

I would love to hear all about your major diet changes and your opinions on the plant based life style!

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19 Comments

  1. I read every word – twice. Woah. What a post! You see, I am one of those cynics. But reading it from YOU, someone who loves meat and cheese as much as I do and more importantly, whose TASTE I trust…you are changing my mind.

    This is a wonderful account of veganism, and I really love your attitude towards it – CHEGAN!!

    You know, I think veganism does have a bad reputation for cardboard food. I have a feeling that you could revolutionise it!

    1. Nagi…I keep re reading this comment. Thank you for the heart felt response. It’s been wonderful! Really terrific! I think it’s approached in general as soy laden , disgustingness. And it couldn’t be farther from the truth can it? Wait just wait till you see the creamy pasta I’m creating! Mind blowing!!! Meat is great but how wonderful would it be if people knew how easily they can feel their best?!? I think that’s what I want to do..

  2. Wow!!! VEGAN! or… more appropriately.. CHEGAN! 😀 That’s an amazing transition! I remember being vegetarian when I was younger but had to go back to eating meat because I was severely anaemic (still am actually!). It would be difficult for me to give up meat – especially burgers! But it would be harder to give up my baking and chocolate!! Definitely want to read about it though 🙂
    I would be happy about the thought of being able to eat as many potatoes as I want though! hahaha!

    1. Trust me when I started I almost cried at giving up burgers!!! But the best part for me is that it’s not about perfect purity it’s about living a healthier cleaner life. Being a chegan is better for me and the environment 🙂 plus if I really want that burger I’ll have it 🙂 but so far… I’ve been juuuust fine with my black bean chipotle burgers 😉

  3. Fantastic Post! Delicious and nutritious potato salad. You know i think I could easily switch to being vegan as I just love all the dishes but the only issue I have is that I suffer from being anaemic and no matter how much iron I take I can’t seem to keep my levels up. Sharing and pinning your beautiful dish!

  4. All the best with your vegan challenge! I think it’s great when people try new things and experiment with their diet to see how they can feel better. I was eating vegan for a couple of weeks but I found it not very energizing to be honest. Maybe I make a new attempt in the near future 🙂

    1. Thanks Howie!!! I made sure to eat tons of greens and a variety of different foods! My mornings always start with a large green smoothie that covers more than half of my necessary greens 🙂

  5. Great information Mila! The older I get the more I crave fruit and veggies and the less meat we eat. I may have to give this challenge a try. Did you give up alcohol too? That would be hard for Mr. Socialite and I.

    1. I did not this time!!! But I did give it up once for 45 days IN THE SUMMER when I started a strict workout regimen… I survived thanks to the wonder of sparkling San Pellegrino 🙂

  6. Thank you honey. It was a much needed break. I just needed to regroup and put my mind back into working order 🙂 Sometimes we all need that time to ourselves 🙂 And this pasta…omg! You must make it! It soooooo the bomb!

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