Oh! How I wonder…

I wonder about women. I am a woman; and, honestly, I wonder about me too.  I wonder how some women manage to place themselves into the most unsafe experiences, why they don’t safeguard their own bodies against unwanted advances, unwanted pregnancies, and unwanted venereal diseases.  I wonder how some women manage to place themselves into unsafe experiences yet they also manage to change the course of the outcome into something positive, thereby thwarting all of those unwanted variables.  I wonder how I managed my life in a way that fortune always seems to smile upon my crazy head.

Then I begin to wonder about the world. I live in the world.  I have seen it, several times, from the clouds, 13,500 feet above the hustle and bustle.  I have “stepped to the edge, to see my world below.”  I have free fallen, tandem, a strange heart beating against my back, pulling the rip-chord, feeling the heave as I am launched back up into the ether.  Then comes the gentle glide toward earth.  In that gentle swaying, slowly falling, I notice the earth below me, I see the small ant-like creatures.  They are moving at a seemingly fast pace, as they grow larger and larger in my slow descent.  I see the beautiful mountains of New York State, the Hudson River, The City of my dreams – Manhattan – all in my sight.  I feel the tug of emotion from the solar plexus.  And, I wonder.

I wonder how this big beautiful planet came to be. I wonder how there is love and hate and how that chasm grew between the two extremes.  I wonder how this beauty in our world below my dangling feet is being filled by those ever growing ant-like creatures with the negative extreme.  I wonder how it is not, in all of its glory and beauty, how could it possibly not be overcome by the power of love?  And then I wonder.

My instructor gives the command to lift my feet, he cradles me in his lap, gently my ass glides on the grass below, in what, a few short seconds before, I perceived as my field of dreams. Tandem.  A strange heart beating against my back.  13,500 feet above all of this…this madness…I trusted a stranger with my life. I wonder.  I wonder how the heart beating behind me, and the heart in my own chest – for a short few minutes – how we managed to be so close, but the world beneath us could be so far apart.  I wonder.

This entry was posted on July 15, 2016. 2 Comments

Pinterest, Vegans, and Lies

I am not a big “label” person; nor am I the sort who requires many definitions for who I am or what I represent. In fact, I like to not know who I am and lean more toward embracing who I am becoming because I am a growing and evolving human being, not some statue that never changes, except for the occasional pigeon poop on my shoulder or head.  Lately, however, I have noticed a slight shift in my usage of labels.  I feel the need to explain things more, especially in certain circumstances, which is odd and new to me and it all started on May 16, 2015.

On May 16, 2015, I embarked on a journey to eliminate all animal products from my diet. My decision was made over the preceding month and was not one easily made, nor was it made out of any sense of responsibility for animal cruelty, environmental impact, my footprint, or any other such moral ideology.  My decision, quite simply, was 100% selfish and self-centered around the sleepless nights, pain, and inflammation that entered my life in 1989 along with a diagnosis of Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, and the chronic nature of those particular malaises.  Within 4 days of discontinuing life as a carnivore, my life was forever changed…the sleepless nights turned into 6-8 hours of gloriously long and uninterrupted sleep per night; the bratwurst that once clung to the ends of my hands (others call them fingers) were now beautifully manicured mirrors of my own mother’s loving hands; the joints that were once triggers of acute, stabbing, hot, fiery pain, were quiet and nimble.  My world was painless and sleep was improving my disposition.

I decided to continue to maintain the non-animal product lifestyle and I needed to figure out what to call what I was doing because I was constantly being asked about the new changes in my life. At this time, I still maintained a Facebook profile, so I was constantly posting pictures of my new “plant based” recipes (see my prior blogs) which, by and large, are really tasty and satisfying, and I was posting pictures of activities that I was involved in that I had not had the pleasure of being involved in since 1989.  Life was good.   Until, that is, I made the grave error of stating that I was a “Vegan.”

 (((Let me enter a special note here…I am a very real person, I have very real opinions, I have seriously strange self-talk and I only share approximately 9% of what was is going on in my head out loud, as I don’t want to thrust it into the world at large – unedited. I do this because I don’t want to go to jail and I don’t want to see the shocked and aghast opened mouths of the person with whom I may be speaking.  I have a warped sense of being.  While I do speak my mind and I do so quite bluntly, often pausing to see if I can be truthful AND kind, and mostly dismissing that ideology for just being truthful, I only give up about 9% of the inner monologue in order to preserve my position outside of the asylum.))) Now back to the story…

After saying that I was a “vegan” what followed was priceless. The look of contempt was…well, you read the special note, so I will give you the current 3% now…the look of contempt was amusing to me and I thought “Well, hell, that wasn’t my finger in your ass, was it?  Why the “OH” face?”  but instead, I said “I’m sorry, what is the problem, I don’t eat any animal products.”  It was then that I was schooled on the facts that I continue to wear leather products, shoes, handbags, belts, and, therefore, I was NOT a Vegan…I was a plant based EATER (((said with vitriol and spittle gathering at the corners of the lips while the eyes bug out a la the closet Jesus from the original Carrie movie with Sissy Spacek – whatever happened to her any way…and Robbie Benson…where is he???))).

Well hell, let’s be even more honest here, if it weren’t for the fact that the United States permits the use of GMOs, steroids, antibiotics, hormones, and whatever other toxic substances into the food chain here, I would be eating beef, pork, poultry, dairy, and every other kind of animal product known to man and some not yet discovered as edible, as well as wearing the skins. You see, I LOVE meat.  I don’t just like it.  I LOVE IT.  It isn’t that I am not an animal lover, it is absolutely because, just like every other American, I do not lead the fatted calf to slaughter and then chop it to pieces to cook over an awaiting bon fire in the fields that I just tilled with an anemic horse and plow.  I go to the butcher or the supermarket and I buy my chemical ridden prescription drug addicted carrion and put it in a pan!  But I digress…

So folks, I am a Plant Based Eater. I eat no animal products.  I only eat plant based foods, which is a huge distinction from foods made in a plant, (that’s a whole other story) and I do so without animal products and my health is beautiful.  And yet, I find it interesting that the “vegan community” takes such exception to me borrowing from their label yet they turn their militaristic bullshit outward…they are hypocritical…in fact, the hypocrisy is downright revolting!  *GASP*  They actually use carnivorous words themselves, while hoarding their labels and clutching them protectively to their bosom as if they were clutching an orphaned babe left in the wild!  They borrow from the carnivore world.

AND.

THEY.

LIE.

Do you know how insidious it has been to make this discovery? I am on the eve of my one year PLANT BASED EATING LIFESTYLE and I discover this after much culinary experimentation, living through lie after lie and recipe fail after recipe fail…it comes to me all at once and the pressure mounts, I feel my eyes bugging (see closet Jesus reference above) and the spittle forming…as truth descends upon me like an acme safe on Wile E. Coyote…that the ONLY thing that can possibly taste like bacon is, in fact, BACON.  Why have I tried 14 recipes using eggplant, tofu, saetan, and a myriad of other plant proteins to make bacon???  Why did I bother?  Each and every one was as limp as Bob in the Levitra commercials and dammit, no little blue pill was going to make ANY of those plant based products firm and crispy like bacon.  Do you know why?  Because bacon is pork, it isn’t eggplant, it isn’t tofu…its pork.  And, again, nothing can taste like bacon any better than or more than bacon.  So VEGANS, stop lying to me through your Pinterest recipes about eggplant being pork!  You can’t use that any more.  I’m taking bacon back and returning it to it rightful owner – the pig farmers!

The lies continue though. Bacon, while important, is not the only culprit; it is not the only carnivorous label being slung around like a dirty wet rag!  They are also touting the likes of various and sundry “burgers” being made from legumes, sweet potatoes, and eggplant when, in fact, every failed attempt at these lies has resulted in nothing more than dense mush on a bun!  STOP IT, PLEASE!  Do not tempt me any longer with the jargon of a bygone era wherein bacon and cheddar married atop sirloin mountain, honeymooning on a bed of romaine and mayo in the city of Vidalia!!!!  For the love of all that is culinary holiness (and honesty) just call it what it is…a sad bean mush sandwich…and I will still try it, just not with the same gusto, vim, and vigor with which I pursued a flame broiled sirloin burger!

And this now brings me to the coup de gras…BBQ Pulled Pork…

As a woman raised in the south, in particular, a Georgia Peach, BBQ Pulled Pork is in my veins. When I embarked on my journey as a plant based eater (read:  NOT A VEGAN) I knew that it would be a long row to hoe for me to visit my family and not imbibe in the culinary delicacies of my childhood such as low country boils, chicken legs on the grill, crawdaddies, shrimp and grits and – GASP –  BBQ Pulled Pork.

Imagine my complete and utter surprise and enjoyment to discover countless recipes on Pinterest and on Facebook and even a friend who dabbles in being a plant based eater who all exclaim that the “Vegan world has replacement for BBQ pulled pork!”  I thought I had died and gone to heaven.  I searched high and low for the secret ingredient that, in each and every photograph, in each and every recipe, and in each and every fucking comment made on Pinterest, Facebook, and that fell out of the mouth of my friend, promised to be the answer to the universe!

Jackfruit.

Get jackfruit, they said.  Make BBQ Pulled Pork, they said.  You won’t be disappointed, they said.  It pulls just like pork, they said.  Tastes just like the real thing, they said.  Wanna know something?  “THEY” lie.  They are insidious, lying, tormenting, buttholes…this “they” who proclaim, attest, comment, promise, sing accolades…this “they” who give the sense of false hope.  I guarantee that this “they” are responsible for the death of Santa and the toothfairy!

After months, of searching at Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and every other crunchy hippy market in my area, I finally turned to the internet and found jackfruit on Amazon Prime. I ordered it.  It arrived.  I scoured Pinterest for recipes, pinning them as the drool trickled down my chin.  I read them and reread them as the anticipation (which, by the way, is actually greater than the actual act in this instance) mounted and rose to the level of near orgasm.  I entered my kitchen with a renewed confidence that this time…this time…”they” were telling me the truth.

I began to amass my ingredients, I lined up my utensils, I was readying my psyche for greatness.  My palate was quivering with excitement.  My nostrils flaring…surely this was to be a momentous moment in my plant based life and finally I was to be satisfied by a recipe instead of becoming just another Pinterest fail!  Life could not be this unkind.  I was prepared to forgive the masses for countless burger flops, the bacon fiasco of 2015, and even the mass murder of the turnip tater tots.  Surely, this one would be as promised.

I drained the fruit, I rinsed it, and excitedly placed all of the ingredients on the stove top. Glory Hallelujah!  It smelled like BBQ in my house.  After 20 minutes, LORD HAVE MERCY ON MY SOUL…the jackfruit was shredding and taking on the apparent consistency of BBQ Pulled Freakin’ Pork!!!!  Life was good!  The dark clouds of plants were gently parting as the glorious world of meats was reopening to me…and then it happened…

I opened my mouth, dribbling down my chin like a two year old cutting her first incisors, I gently closed my gaping mouth, biting gingerly into the culinary goodness before me and just as I was tearing away the alleged and previously acclaimed faux BBQ pulled pork, synapses fired, the spark crossed and connected, my palate was met with the tactile realization of the most vile of goo that has ever congealed on this, or any other planet! I put my head back and the most primal and pained cry emitting from the depths of my gullet “THHHHHHEEEEEEEEEYYYYY!  I hate you THEY!!!!!!”

I cannot express in enough words the betrayal that I felt in that particular moment of culinary trickery that I perpetrated against myself. Yes!  Against myself!  I am the hopeful, eternal, naïve, optimist that each and every time I review Pinterest or I see a new plant based recipe bragging about being a burger, or an egg, or bacon, or…for the love of all that is holy…BBQ Pulled Pork…I can feel the excitement rising in me like a child taking their first trip to Disney!  Then the realization dawns that life is not as it seems.  Not here.  Not in the land of lies.  Not in the Pinterest stories about how beautiful life is without bacon and BBQ Pulled Pork.  Don’t get me wrong, life is still good, but let’s be real here, the only thing that is going to taste “JUST LIKE BACON” is, well, bacon.

I would like it a whole lot if the Vegans would forgive me the occasional use of their label so that I can forego explaining that a “plant based eater” is not some Godzilla-like creature that runs amok in a city devouring the local power plant. Yet I understand their need to preserve their label for the righteous moral works that they do to prevent animal cruelty, so I vow never to use their label again.  I shall be mindful of my leather goods and shall respect their path toward non-use of any animal products whatsoever.  It is sacred to them.  But, I would like it a whole lot more if THEY could stop using the words “bacon” and “BBQ Pulled Pork” at all.  Ever.  For any reason.

 

 

This entry was posted on May 12, 2016. 3 Comments

Day 13…Plant Based Living…Sleeping Like It’s My Job!

Prior to May 13, 2015, I hated my bedroom.  It was the one room in my house that actually caused me anxiety.  I would dread the approaching witching hour known as “bedtime” and I viewed it as a torturous act that was meant to inflict great pain.  This is because until May 13, 2015, I was an insomniac.  I have taken every pill known to man to get sleep and was even once prescribed GHB to try to achieve restorative sleep to my life.  Nothing worked.  Nothing, until May 13, 2015.  That was the day that I embarked on Plant Based Living by accepting a challenge to follow a regimen for 22 days and live only on plant based snacks and meals.  Since approximately May 15, 2015, I have slept every night for 8+ hours.  No interruptions.  I dream.  In color.  I remember my dreams when I wake up.  I wake up refreshed.  I wake up alert.  I wake up ready to take on the day.  I do not walk around in the world like a zombie in a drug induced haze.  I don’t sleep walk and leave behind traces of my night-time “walk abouts” to find in the morning.  I sleep.  Heavenly, steady, beautiful sleep…for hours at a time!  Unheard of before now.

On Day 13, I wake up to a lovely smoothie made from banana, mango, spinach, coconut water, avocado, and plant protein powder.  It sounds gross, I will admit, but spinach is one of those greens that has no real flavor when you have fruit with it.  It is an unassuming flavor, the flavor at the front is banana and it’s lovely.  Smoothies are a quick and easy way to enjoy breakfast and, if I’m being honest, I feel like a bit of cheat because a frozen banana makes a smoothie with the consistency of a thick milkshake.  It’s a beautiful thing.

 

Banana, Mango, Avocado, Spinach Vanilla Plant Based Protein Powder Smoothie

Banana, Mango, Avocado, Spinach Vanilla Plant Based Protein Powder Smoothie

 

For lunch, on this day, I enjoyed leftover sweet potato and black bean chili.  Like any other chili, it was much, MUCH more flavorful the day after!  I’m glad to learn this because I froze two additional servings for later consumption.  In fact, I have been filling my freezer with any and all left overs so that I can enjoy them later when things are too rushed and I need a quick and healthy viable option for a meal.  I even packaged them for one serving so as not to over-indulge!

 

Ready to serve Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

Ready to serve Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

 

The afternoon snack consisted of the walnut chocolate bar.  It’s a very dense protein bar.  The chocolate is very dark and the walnut is a nice pronounced compliment.  It has the consistency of a tootsie roll, it is that dense.  At first bite, I did not care for this bar, much preferring the fruit bar as opposed to this chocolate bar.  On this day, I decided that my initial tasting was inaccurate.  I like this bar.  If I have to eat chocolate, I would prefer it be this bar rather than some nasty American chocolate made with yogurt, sour, yuck bar.  I think if I enjoy it with a cup of tea it will be much better.  There is a next time.

 

Walnut Fudge Protein Bar

Walnut Fudge Protein Bar

Which brings me to dinner.  Today was Cauliflower “rice” with lemon, mint, and pistachios served over fresh greens.  Instead of serving it “over” the greens, I made a green salad.  I made the cauliflower rice and, since I am the only one eating this, I should have considered that when you pulse cauliflower in the food processor, it grows…it grows exponentially!  This is a raw meal and, while I generally prefer something cooked for dinner, I opened my mind, asked my saboteur to dine elsewhere for the evening, and I had my dinner.  It was ok.  Not great.  Just ok.  It is more like the cauliflower tabbouleh that I have always made, so I was left unimpressed; though not because it was a bad recipe, necessarily, but more because it wasn’t unique.  It is just more of what I already know.  It was tasty.  I would not bring it back around, however, because I prefer my tabbouleh to this “rice” creation.

 

Cauliflower "rice" with lemon, mint, and pistachios

Cauliflower “rice” with lemon, mint, and pistachios

 

Overall, today was another success.  I am enjoying reading about new things, making better and cleverer decisions for my health, sleeping, and enjoying a better quality of life.  After all, one should be looking for an improvement of their quality of living every day for to improve your quality of life, the trickledown effect of positive abundance impacts the greater good and eventually everyone in your sphere of influence will benefit from your positivity, making their own and so on and so on…rippling through the world…one positive flow after another.  Here is a before/during photo.  The after photo will be when the challenge is done, then I will do another photo for the second 22 days that I will challenge myself to continue the journey…

 

Transformation.

Transformation.

 

 

This entry was posted on May 29, 2015. 6 Comments

Day 12…Plant Based Living…Getting Easier, Becoming a Habit

I woke up this morning feeling energized and ready to take on the day. I am sleeping like a corpse these days and I am reflecting back and not remembering ever sleeping as soundly and restfully as I have been since I started this new way of living.  I am enjoying this life change immensely.  My body is pain free, my sleep is filled with vivid dreaming, and my waking hours are wonderful and alert.  I am embarking on yet another change in the next week or so by incorporating exercise back in to my life, in a sustainable and enjoyable way, and I am going to begin a regimen of supplements and vitamins.  I feel that this is all very necessary to keep pharmaceuticals out of my life on a permanent basis.  This is a life change and must change all of my life in order to succeed.

For breakfast this morning I enjoyed the vanilla chia pudding.  This time I made only one portion so that I didn’t have to feel pressured to find someone to eat the other portion like I had to do last time.  I am learning that not everyone is as supportive as they say they are and they get quite negative if I ask “would you like to try it?”  It’s odd because I’ve always asked people if they wanted to try something new that I was eating, but whatever, this is my journey, no one else’s.  For those of you reading this, I hope you’ll at least try something if asked I mean, you can try anything once!  So I had my chia pudding and berries and it was more enjoyable than the first go round.  I think the reason why is that I now know what the portion is intended to be and the berries are quite filling.  The taste and texture have grown on me and I have decided this is another of the “adding to my permanent” menu items.

IMG_7445

Vanilla Chia Pudding with fresh blue berries

For lunch, I had made the night before, a red quinoa, almond, baby arugula salad with cantaloupe.  I had never eaten arugula before.  If you haven’t eaten it before, let me describe it to you…it’s nutty tasting, soft, and very interesting.  I would like to try this with a Boston Bibb lettuce or my red leaf lettuce along with a tangy balsamic and pears and walnuts after the 22 days are over!  This salad was quite tasty.  The dressing was very simple and light and allowed the flavors of the fruit, nuts and arugula to meld well without overpowering the salad as dressings tend to do, in my opinion.

Baby Arugula, Cantaloupe, Almond salad

Baby Arugula, Cantaloupe, red quinoa, Almond salad

For my afternoon snack today, I had the peanut butter and jelly snack balls.  NO DANGER that these will EVER go bad in my house or at my office!  Everyone who has tried these has loved them.  They literally taste like a small burst of PB&J.  All you need are unsalted roasted peanuts, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter and a cup of black raisins.  Dump it all in a food processor and process until the mix starts to stick together.  It does take a minute or so, be patient.  Then using a teaspoon, scoop out a teaspoon full into your palm and form balls.  Please them on parchment paper and put in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to really firm up.  They are amazing!  I enjoyed two of these.  When I got home, the remaining 18 were gone.  I think I may have PB&J thieves lurking around.

Raw Peanut Butter and Jelly Balls

Raw Peanut Butter and Jelly Balls

Now, dinner…I was looking forward to dinner.  Dinner was a sweet potato and black bean chilip with steamed broccoli.  The recipe claimed that the dried beans would be ready to eat within 25 minutes.  The recipe was wrong.  It took over an hour for the beans to be tender enough to my liking.  All in all, however, the chili was quite good.  A little bit of a bite and a whole lot of flavor.  The sweet potato tends to cook down and disappear, I believe that is what gave it the chili texture.  I will keep this recipe in my arsenal of do-overs and repeat meals.  I froze the left-overs and brought some for lunch on day 13.  I really enjoyed this dish.

Cooking the Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

Cooking the Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

Ready to serve Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

Ready to serve Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

My general feeling today was one of exceptional health.  I continue to reflect on my history from 1989 to the present and I cannot remember a time when I was happier, healthier, or less tired.  I go to bed and I sleep when I am supposed to, I wake up refreshed, remembering dreams, and looking forward to a day without pain.  I’m so thankful.  Life is so much better when you have no pain.  I feel my disposition actually lightening and my mood elevating and I find scant little to be bitter or negative about.  In fact, I caught myself listening to the negativity of other people and I actually identified a bit of resentment toward them…I really dislike negativity and I make every effort to attract positive so that I have no room for negativity.  Life is too short to be in pain or angry or negative.  Live.  There is No Day But Today!

Day 11…Plant Based Living…Lethargic and Hungry…why is that?

Today is day 11, and I have slept like a corpse for the last 10 nights.  I have been pain free, swelling has drastically reduced, and my blood pressure is pretty fine.  Overall, my disposition has been good, I’m in a great mood most all day, every day over the last 10 days has brought more and more joy to my life.  I actually look forward to getting up and moving along.  My weight is coming down quite rapidly.  I was a bit worried at first but when I consulted my doctor, she said that since I had a good amount of weight to lose, that it would come off fast, and then plateau and taper off when I reached my body’s ideal weight.  I have to say, I am enjoying the fact that clothing I spent a lot of money for is again fitting me better than it has in months.  I may actually have black pants in my wardrobe choices again.  HA!

This morning, I had almond milk with puffed rice cereal and a sliced banana.  This was a challenge for me as I had not, to this point, had almond milk in its true form.  I had previously added it to recipes, but it was always to incorporate something else, it was never just almond milk.  I have been buying the unsweetened vanilla almond milk in the carton, not the refrigerator section, and I have been happy with it thus far.  Again, I had not consumed it prior to this meal, as a standalone option.  I poured the cereal, I cut the banana, I poured the almond milk, and I commenced eating my breakfast.  I didn’t die.  It wasn’t awful.  It was almost like drinking skim milk, only it actually had a slight almond/vanilla flavor.  Hey!  It was actually quite good.  I think the key is that it was cold, that I had previously only consumed skim milk, so the texture wasn’t bad, but the flavor was actually pleasant.  I was surprised.  I would incorporate this breakfast option in my “on the run” category and would definitely return to have this again some day soon after the 22 days are over.

The lunch option today was the Kale, Apple, Raisin and Creamy Curry Dressing Salad.  I love all of these ingredients, so I was looking forward to lunch today.  The salad was ample enough that I had to pay special attention to my stomach because long before the food ran out I found myself 80% full.  The book that I am following along with says to pay attention to your body, once you reach 80% capacity, stop eating.  I listened and I am glad that I did.  I was full fairly quickly but ate almost all of the salad.  I would make this dish again but would pay closer attention to the dressing as I feel it lacked something…it was very thick…I feel that it should have had more liquid.  I will check this out again in the future and make note.

Kale, Apple, Raisin Salad

Kale, Apple, Raisin Salad

My afternoon snack was trail mix.  I have all of the ingredients but I didn’t make any.  So, instead, I went to Trader Joe’s and bought some.  I also skipped the snack today.  I wasn’t hungry and was still full from lunch.

At dinner time, I don’t know what happened between lunch and dinner.  I feel that I was full.  I feel that I was satisfied.  I feel that I was more than correct in foregoing the snack as I wasn’t hungry.  I ensured that I drank the appropriate amount of water today and I don’t know why, but something happened between work and home; between lunch and dinner…I became famished.  To the point of being edgy (so unlike the attitude I had cultivated over the last several days) and I was trying to prepare my husband’s meal (cauliflower, sautéed ham, onion, with tomato paste and chick peas) and also prepare my meal of Sweet Potato Lime Burgers and steamed basil green beans with olive oil.  I was taking inventory of my feelings and my body while trying to assemble and cook two meals at once.  I noticed that I was edgy, hungry, (I supposed Hangry is a good new word to use here) and tired.  Very, very tired.  I have been taking B-12 every day, but I haven’t yet explored and secured a good vegan multivitamin.  I am toying with taking juice plus, but haven’t found anyone to speak with about the product.  Maybe I had some sort of a deficiency.  I don’t know, all I know is that I wanted to eat and sleep…in that order, precisely.

Dinner was a sweet potato lime burger with steamed basil green beans.  I sat down to eat and was so completely consumed by the smell of the sweet potato, the taste of the small bite of red pepper flakes and the tasty overall feeling of the burger that I ate quite deliberately and slowly, taking in all of the flavors and scents and I enjoyed my dinner.

Sweet Potato Lime Burgers

Sweet Potato Lime Burgers

After taking a photograph and washing dishes, cleaning the kitchen, and making my lunch for day 12, I realized that I am ½ way through my 22 days…that went quickly!  I’m amazed at how well I feel, how well I sleep, and how well I am thinking these days.  I went to bed at 8:30, I was woken once by the dog to go outside, I returned to my slumber and slept until 6:05a.m.  Life is good.

This entry was posted on May 28, 2015. 4 Comments

Day 10…Plant Based Living…Memorial Day, a day of triumph

This morning, day 10, I awoke to a smoothie made with 22 Day Nutrition Plant Based Protein Powder, frozen blue berries, coconut water, avocado, and cinnamon.  It was quite tasty.  No greens in this one, which is odd; thus far every smoothie has had greens of some sort in it.  This was good.  I didn’t think I would like coconut water.  At first taste, I was right, but then something grew on me and I took another swig.  It is quite refreshing.  I may try more of it later on down the road, after the 22 days.

I don’t take any photos of the smoothies because, well, quite honestly, there is really nothing to take a photo of…smoothies are fairly boring to look at and well, maybe I should reconsider, but nah, I’m thinking not.

Lunch was another fear factor moment for me.  I have never cooked lentils, nor have I ever incorporated any foreign spices, such as cumin and curry, in my cooking.  Don’t get me wrong, I happen to think, and so do a few vocal others, that I am a fairly good cook.  I love to entertain.  I love to feed people and hear their reactions.  It wasn’t until this challenge that I actually recognized how limited my palate was and how many spices were in the world that I was not utilizing, in some way, to enhance flavors.  I have never ventured outside of my comfort zone which happens to be fairly diverse:  Austrian, American, Puerto Rican, and, of course, if you have been paying ANY attention, Vatican style Italian.  Now I have begun to incorporate Turmeric, Cumin, Curry, Smoked Paprika, and so on. It is lovely to experiment with the flavors and to learn new styles of preparing and cooking foods.  It is interesting as well as lovely.  I’m having fun.

Day 10 consisted of a lunch menu of Easy Curried Lentils with Avocado Croutons.  I was intimidated by the curry, the lentils, and the avocado, but I entered the kitchen with the notion that I was going to make something new and exciting and that the flavors would be perfect!  After a day at the garden center and planting some pops of color all over the front and back yards, my husband and I went inside to enjoy some lunch.  He opted for left over BBQ from the day before and I set out to make my lentils.  He was too impatient to await my preparation and plating, so he went ahead and heaped piles of pasta salad, potato salad and chicken on his plate.  I set out to cook a masterpiece.  The lentils took about a half hour to complete and the wait was well worthwhile.  Lentils, in particular this recipe, is going to be staple in my home – especially my winter menu selections.  The curry and cumin were beautiful in this dish, it was colorful and filling and something I will return to, I know, time and time again.  LOVED this.

Curried Yellow Lentils Cooking

Curried Yellow Lentils Cooking

Curried Yellow Lentils, served up with avocado "croutons"

Curried Yellow Lentils, served up with avocado “croutons”

My afternoon snack was supposed to be hummus with veggies, but I opted not to have an afternoon snack on this day, I was simply too full from lunch and was anticipating dinner, which was a repeat of the Quinoa and black bean salad from last week.  Only this time I actually utilized quinoa from Trader Joe’s freezer section.  It was just straight up quinoa, nothing fancy, no flavors added, just a serving of quinoa.  I’m glad I purchased this frozen side dish.  I was beside myself having conversation about the texture of all of the quinoa that I have made thus far and I was slightly disappointed at my lack of knowledge of this seed, its nutrients, its uses, and generally anything about it.  Since I had never previously consumed it, it was hard for me to tell if I was cooking it correctly as the texture, again, leaves something for my palate to desire.  I learned that I was, in fact, cooking it correctly.   The quinoa black bean salad was tasty and was also so large I could not finish it.  I was still full from the lentils.

Quinoa Black Bean Salad

Quinoa Black Bean Salad

Dessert was also a repeat, chocomole.  I was not in the mood for chocolate and so I did not have dessert on this day either.  I find that my decisions on what and how much to eat are no longer based on my eyes being bigger than my stomach.  They are now based on my actual contemplation and questioning of whether or not I am hungry.  If I am hungry, I eat dessert or have another bite.  If I am not hungry, I do not continue to eat, nor do I have dessert, I just stop and I have a glass of water with lemon to ensure that I satisfy any thirst and I enjoy what I am eating now instead of rapidly consuming something without enjoyment.

My observations today are that I am able to make choices wisely, I am able to enjoy my food without relying on it as a means for comfort or guilt but rather as a means to enjoy what is sustaining my overall happy life.  I am also noticing that my attitude is changing in a positive direction and that everything and everyone around me is falling into place, either synching with my newfound attitude or moving outside of my sphere of influence.  I am finding that people will either make negative comments about what they perceive a plant based diet to be in the guise of making suggestions that I see a doctor because plant based living isn’t meant for the human body, or to take supplement/vitamin thus and such because I am not getting all of the nutrients I need, or by simply rolling their eyes and making crass comments about how I will fail and return to meat eating as soon as the 22 days are over.

I think, for me, the thing is that I don’t mind if my world becomes smaller, or that people that once claimed to be my friends or to love me gravitate outside of my sphere of influence.  I don’t mind one little bit.

My new mantra…

Everything happens for a reason,

people come and go with the seasons.

And in my life, I will have results and not reasons.

So be it.

This entry was posted on May 28, 2015. 4 Comments

Day 9…Plant Based Living…Memorial Day/Friends Visiting from Out of Town BBQ.

I woke up on morning 9, very excited about the day.  We had friends visiting from out of town who used to live here in Connecticut.  They are the best house guests ever, they come and go as they please, never get in the way, let us know in advance if they are dining with us or not, and are never intrusive.  We look forward to their visits and, because one of them is from here, the added bonus is that she has many friends and some family who still reside here so they visit.  On this particular visit, we decided to host a BBQ and invite a few friends and former co-workers and made this BBQ a successful visit with people we haven’t seen in a long time, and catch up on each other’s lives.  It was sure to be a wonderful day.

In the morning, I got up and prepared my Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal.  I have to say, I love these quick rolled oats, they are really creamy and gluten free.  I’m not sure I would have sought out gluten free, but these happened to be and I will buy these time and time again.  The oatmeal recipe was tasty and my favorite combination of apples and cinnamon, so I was a happy camper right out of the gate.

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal (Gluten Free)

Apple Cinnamon Oatmeal (Gluten Free)

In preparing for the BBQ, my husband and I visited our deep freezer to figure out what the day’s menu would entail.  Hot dogs are a given when children are invited, so we took those out along with Italian Sausage, a spiral honey baked ham, and two whole chickens.  This BBQ we did things a bit differently, we actually took people up on their offers to bring something along, so we opted to allow others to prepare side dishes.  My husband smoked the honey baked ham to perfection, prepared the chickens to make smoked beer can chicken, and the hot dogs and sausage were grilled to perfection.  And then it happened…one of my friends walked in with two T-Bone steaks…cut thick…my mouth started to immediately drool…when I was a meat eater, I loved T-Bones.  I loved any steak, actually, and my preference was for the steak to hover slightly over an open flame or, better still, for someone to strike a match in the next room and I would call my steak done.  The rarer, the better.  Blue steak would be my preference.  This was a temptation that I would talk about to myself from the moment that she plopped the steaks down on the counter, my self-talk went something like this:  “So, there’s some left elbow pain right there, some high blood pressure sitting on that counter.  Do you see that swelling in your ankles?  Hey, Shirl, how about you eat a bite of that steak and have a sleepless night tonight?!?”  And do you know what?  It worked.  My salivary glands calmed right down and I happily trotted off to consume the beautifully colorful bowl of Roasted Butternut Squash and Apple Soup that I began to make right after breakfast.  I self-talked myself right back into success and away from my saboteur.  This was another proud moment in my life.  I chose, actively, HEALTH over Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.  I chose to be sleeping, pain free, and swelling free rather than to indulge for even one bite of a plump succulent steak.  Yes.  It looked good.  Yes.  I wanted one all to myself.  However, YES, my health and happiness are more important than a moment of satisfaction that will result in so much negativity.  I passed a milestone.

Roasted Apple & Butternut Squash Soup

Roasted Apple & Butternut Squash Soup

The soup was tasty.  When I was roasting the vegetables and apples, I was having a hard time not simply eating them as they were on the roasting pan!  Honestly, the house smelled like an autumn evening should smell.  I made the soup and wondered if texture would present itself as an issue again, but it didn’t.  The recipe allows for an adjustment of vegetable stock for thickness.  I utilized the option and made it slightly thicker than a soup, but not as thick as a stew.  It was tasty.  Another recipe that I will turn to and another opportunity to try my hand at freezing the remainder of the pot that wasn’t consumed.  I’m building a stock-pile of great plant based eating options!

Dinner was upon us and guests were arriving for the festivities.  If you have ever been to my house, you know that there is never a shortage of food, good times, great company, and laughter.  I love my home.  I love the people who gather there and make it my home…our home…and I love that people are comfortable in our little corner of the world affectionately dubbed “The Cottage Kingdom” by great close friends many years ago.  I decided to allow people to also have healthier plant based options, so I made a fabulous jicama salad with all kinds of fresh, raw veggies like radishes, cucumbers, spinach, arugula, romaine, fresh chives from my garden, and red onions.  I also made a cauliflower tabouli.  A friend brought all veggie “sushi” rolls which were amazingly beautiful and quite tasty, and another friend brought chips, a summer veggie pasta salad, and another brought corn (the same one who brought steak, of course, she’s evil) and there were chips and dips and such.  The BBQ was in full swing.  Again, I challenged myself to stay focused and not to stray from my plan.  In order to do so, I returned to day 8.  Instead of making the planned menu of raw zucchini alfredo, I returned to the eggplant rollatini and ate the left overs.  Intrigued, I offered everyone a taste.  Some liked it, some did not, others were unsure and didn’t even bother to try it, and the meat-loving corn bringer, she doesn’t eat anything except meat, potatoes and corn, so she also refused.  Now, if you read day 8, you know that the last person who matters in this tale of egg plant rollatini is The Grand Pope of Pasta himself, my Italian Husband, Willie…he took a large mouth full of warmed up eggplant rollatini and he declared ‘THIS MEAL SHALL BECOME A STAPLE IN OUR HOME AND CASHEW CHEESE MAY NOW BE DUBBED UNSINFUL”  There you have it, folks.  He actually LOVED it.  It will make a command performance again in the Lenhard household.  I was satisfied.  My guests were satisfied.  I did not feel cheated, neglected, or deprived at all.  I set myself up for success and then I succeeded.

Eggplant Rollatini with Cashew Cheese

Eggplant Rollatini with Cashew Cheese

This was a great day!  I moved on from my left overs to my snack when everyone else was enjoying ice pops and cookies, I had my 22 day nutrition bar.  I loved the fruit flavors and the sweetness of the bar, it acted just fine as a dessert.  I’m finding that when people are watching me enjoy my new plant based eating, they are inquisitive enough to ask questions and to ask if they can try what I’m having, so the bar got passed around…happily.

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Today’s observations are that when people hear that I am doing a plant based life change, they usually start talking, quite uncomfortably, about how many vegetables that they consume.  They start talking fairly rapidly about how they would be more plant based in their eating habits if not for…(insert reasons here)…husband, kids, life, etc.  I find myself listening and thinking that I don’t really need their guilt or justification about why they eat the way they eat.  I just want to enjoy my left elbow bending AND straightening.  I want to enjoy living pain free for the last 9 days.  I want to remember that I was in so much pain from 1989 until now that I never want to feel it again.  I want to sing from the roof tops that my quality of life is so much richer as a result of this conscious decisions.  I want to tell them that it’s ok if they choose something different.  I am not politically motivated.  I am not morally motivated.  I am physically, emotionally, and spiritually motivated to feel this way, this way that I feel on day 9, every day for the rest of my life, however long that it.  I want to feel alive and alert.  I want to not only feel, but believe and actively choose that in life there are one of two things that we all get…(1) results or (2) reasons…and I now have and continue to want results!