Day 18 of my 21 day vegan challenge. And its freezing here in Boston. Three things have become blatantly apparent to me in the past three weeks. 

1. Being a vegan is not nearly as hard as I thought it was going to be

2. The slow cooker my sister gifted for me for Christmas last year has never seen more use

3. My days of eating lots of salad in the winter are dwindling - soups are  warming to the body and just as healthy

To elaborate a bit on #1. I was always somewhat intimidated by the idea of being a vegan and didn't quite understand why someone would deliberately want to give up fish and cheese. Admittedly I am not much of a meat eater and could go without steak and chicken, but fish was always my go to source for protein and entree like substance. So what would ever possess me to give it up. Well, truth be told I am approaching 40 next month, and am viewing this as a cleanse of sorts to jump start my body into feeling even better then ever. I have been eating an organic whole foods diet for as long as I can remember - there aren't many ways to kick it up a notch from here short of vegan and raw. So giving it a go and so far so good. Great energy. Fewer cravings. My palette has actually adjusted and I don't even miss the fish and cheese - and can't believe it!

#2 - related to #1 - there are so many great grain and bean dishes (the primary staples of any vegan diet) that can be prepared deliciously and effortlessly with a slow cooker. Think polenta, steel cut oats, rice pudding not to mention a gazillion soups stews and porridges.

#3 - its so obvious that soups would warm the body vs cold salads ingested on a daily basis but I never quote made the connection that this was one of the reasons my hands and feet were always so cold. For the past three weeks I have been drinking lots of tea and soup and feeling so much warmer on the inside.

On that note - try the latest concoction which is ideal for vegan eaters who enjoy the comforts of slow cooker convenience and want to be warmed up on a cold day!! 

Slow Cooker Vegan Vegetable Farro Minestrone

1/2 red onion
2 stalks celery
2 carrots 
1/2 red pepper
1 cup mushrooms
1 sweet potato
1 cup cherry tomato 
1 cup farro, rinsed
16 ounces chick pea (cooked)
1 quart vegetable broth
4 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 cup baby spinach 
Salt and pepper to taste 
2 Tbsp olive oil

Dice all vegetables into uniform small cubes. Sauté onions in olive oil until fragrant.  Follow with carrots, celery, then mushrooms and pepper, finally add the sweet potato. Once soft (few minutes) add to slow cooker along with tomato, broth, water, chick pea and bay leaf. Add salt and pepper to taste. Cook on low for 7-8 hours until cooked through. Add spinach at end for few minutes until wilted.