Welcome to My World! ... and Bacon!

 Hello Friends,

I'm Ed Lopez, a 58 year old guy who has been 'vegan' for over 5 years.  I say 'vegan' though I'm not a fan of the term, simply because there is a lot of political and philosophical baggage associated with the term.  I kind of prefer the term 'plant-based', but that always seems to draw confusing looks as well, so 'vegan' it is.  I still wear leather, and if you invite me too a BBQ, I happily provide the Impossible Burger patty to toss on the grill.

I call myself the Bad Vegan Boy, because I'm a vegan who enjoys good tasting food, and over the years have determined how far you can really stretch the rule and stay plant-based.  I became a vegan in 2016, a few months after I was diagnosed with Type II diabetes.  At that time, I was 6'1" over 260lbs, was traveling 200K+ air miles a year in technical sales, and there wasn't a steak house or sushi bar I didn't love.  Don't get me started on NY pizza!  But an A1C of 10, a fasting blood glucose over 300, and a bad cholesterol count over 200 said I needed to change things.

I tried the recommended ADA diabetic diet, which strictly avoids carbs, but I found it wasn't very satisfying.  Sure you could tear through a porterhouse stake or have some sashimi (sushi w/o rice), but the minute you have a bread roll, or some nigiri sushi or a dragon roll, my blood sugar shot up like a rocket.

I credit my wife (Janet, the Good Vegan Girl) for looking at the alternatives, and we found a restaurant here in the Northern Virginia (NoVA) area called GreenFare Organic Cafe in Herndon, VA, which offered three week bootcamp classes in becoming a vegan.  After three weeks, I found I had lost 6 lbs, my bad cholesterol dropped to 172, and I was well controlled on diet, exercise, and non-insulin meds.  But I was eating pasta, breads, starches, along with my veggies.  I decided to stick with being a vegan.

But I'm not a grazer.  I will always give kudos to GreenFare for getting me started, and I still eat there from time to time, but I still like basic comfort food.  I'm the guy that figured out that Oreos, Twizzlers, and Spicy Sweet Chili Doritos are technically vegan, and I could have those in moderation.

Five years later, I'm 185, my bad cholesterol is 133, my A1C is 5.6, and I'm completely off diabetes medication, controlling my condition with diet and exercise.  On the later, a big shout out to Peloton, being an owner and huge fan of their bike.  Being on Peloton can be very addictive.  To the point that if I'm traveling (not often in these Covid-19 days) I try to stay at hotels with a Peloton bike in their gym.

Now the disclaimers:

  • I'm not a doctor or a nutritionist, so if there are any questions listen to them and not to me!  I am merely blogging about my experience.  I make no health or expertise claims.
  • I am not paid for by any vendors, services, manufacturers, places, etc. I mention in this blog.  If I do talk about anything I have a stake in, I'll let you know.  For example, I do own shares of Peloton in my retirement account, which I invested in after I got addicted to the bike.
  • I run on the 'don't ask, don't tell' rule when I'm eating out.  What that means is that I make the best selections possible off of a menu, and I'm not going to nitpick about how it's prepared, etc.  If I order an Impossible Burger with fries at a brewery, I'm not going to ask about the bun or if they make chicken nuggets in the same fryer as the fries.  For all you true vegans out there, if you can't accept that, this is not the blog for you.
  • One clear exception I make, that most true vegans will disagree with, is that I consider honey to be OK.  If in future recipes you see honey in the recipe, and want to substitute maple or corn syrup, you won't hurt my feelings.
  • In most cases, my recipes are modifications and combinations of other vegan recipes I find.  I'll try to give credit where credit is due.
Let's kick off with a starting recipe near and dear to my heart, vegan bacon!  I don't use tempeh or soy, but instead I use Vietnamese rice paper as the main ingredient (kudos to EdgyVeg for the basis of this recipe):

Vegan Bacon - Makes 32 pieces, about equivalent to a pound of bacon


12 sheets Vietnamese rice paper, 22cm round

4 Tbsp nutritional yeast

1 Tbsp garlic powder

4 Tbsp olive oil

6 Tbsp tamari

½ Tsp liquid smoke

1Tbsp maple syrup

½ Tsp ground black pepper

½ Tsp of Hungarian paprika

  1. Preheat oven to 375F
  2. Mix all of the seasonings together
  3. Fill a pan or dish large enough to submerge a sheet of rice paper into with warm water
  4. Using a large cutting board capably of supporting the size of a sheet of rice paper, paint an area of the board with the seasoning mixture with a brush
  5. Submerge a sheet of rice paper into the water and place on the painted area of the cutting board
  6. Paint the upper side of the sheet with seasoning
  7. Repeat 5 & 6 two more times, so that you have a stack of three sheets coated on both sides and in-between sheets
  8. Using a very sharp knife, cut the sheets into 8 strips, and place the strips onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper
  9. Repeat 4 - 8 three more times
  10. Bake the strips for 7-9 minutes.  7 minutes will result in more chewy bacon, while 9 minutes will result in more crispy bacon
  11. Allow to cool on rack slightly, to allow any steam bubbles within the strips to collapse
Cheers!
Ed

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