I stare into my coffee. It’s black. Pure black. Yech.
10 hours earlier: We arrive home from a dinner party, my last night as a non-vegan. I’m carrying a food baby of cheese, crackers, grilled veggies, pecan spinach salad, gluten–free pasta with sauce and parmesan, egg-fried veggie rice, all topped off with a refined-sugar-free brownie (my first real sweet in ages!), tea with milk and a shot of Baileys on the side. It may not have been a protein-lovers paradise as I skipped the salmon but, as far as vegetarian is concerned, it was a jackpot. This is easy. Only seven more days. No dairy. No biggie. Granted, I am a probably running a little low on iron. In line at the bank I went on a hamburger head-trip. Like a hound dog I kept sniffing the air and imagining a BBQ patty with almost fevered acuity. Needless to say, there was no grilling going on mid-winter at RBC. The lady behind me thought I’d lost my marbles.
Still a 7-day dairy deprivation would be good for me. Cleansing. I’d stretch myself. Generally, if I can top something with a dairy product, I’m a happy camper. I figure it’s some deep-rooted habit from my eat-your-broccoli-it-has-melted-cheese-on-top childhood. Plain granola perks up with natural yogurt. Sliced pear and old white cheddar: delectable snack. Lentil soup sprinkled with shredded parm: yum. And salads infinitely improve with feta.
Still, how hard could it be? Ha! That is until 10:00 am this morning when I stare into the dregs of the black hole now doubling as my morning coffee. I like mine strong, dark and, though I forgo sugar, half & half is nonnegotiable. Of all the mornings, today I wake tired and cranky. Dr. K has a cold and snorted in my ear like a rhino most of the night, despite the pillow wall I built at 2:00am–and the earplugs. Every time they fell out, I woke and remembered I had to pee. As well, it was Little C’s first night of a thumb-sucking withdrawal program—timing is everything. Let’s just say sleep was not fitful.
I love coffee. Artificial creamer’s hydrogenated oils and corn syrup don’t chime healthful alternative so I stick with coconut milk. (No almond milk in my nut-free home). Hesitant about the whole concept, I pour some in and watch it break into chunks. Is that cottage cheese? I stir, and the bits blend, but my coffee takes on a deep brown, instead of my usual mocha milky. Not lookin’ promising. But I am vegan and this is what I do. I bring the mug to my lips and slurp. Ugh, it tastes like battery acid.
Sleepier by the second I reach for my Nespresso maker. Maybe a quick espresso will work? I swig and feel the jolt—enough to wake me up for a few hours but no warm mug to wrap my hands around. Generally, I guard my coffee; holding it close to me in pure possessiveness and audibly sighing with the first sip. How the hell am I going to do this? And then the realization hits me.
I only like the cream.
I think I hate coffee.
I am pretty cranky for the rest of the day. A migraine, brought on by caffeine withdrawal, only fogs my brain further. My breakfast of unsweetened quinoa flakes and seeds, with fruit and coconut milk, closely resembles the stuff I load into my bird feeder. Leftover rice and veggies for lunch are tasteless. I am grouchy-hungry, since my go-to snacks are off limits, and take a walk with the family. I enjoy exploring the forest, much more than I do eating it. Once home, I start on dinner. Maybe with some creativity I can make it more exciting. Problem is all I have to work with in terms of main course is a bag of beets and half a cabbage. I don’t want to carb load as that kind of defeats the healthy purpose of this challenge, and I can’t do another salad for dinner. Dr K doesn’t like any leafy green that’s too green, so he gets iceberg and gourmet fish sticks. I make some Coconut Oil Grilled Beets and Cabbage Steaks for me. As I pull them out, Dr. K takes one look at the cabbage steaks and makes a face.
“What is that?” He has a habit of grazing as I cook but is steering clear of this one.
“Cabbage steaks.” Gotta problem with it?
“Ugh, barf,” he says, shaking his head. “Nasty.”
I look at the swirl of grilled, smelly cruciferous leaves.
It’s going to be a long seven days.