Welcome to another installment of What I Ate Today! In this post, I will share with you how I eat simply during the day and then have a delicious feast for dinner. My eating is not always like that, but Marty and I typically like to eat a bigger dinner and fuel on fruit and veggies during the day.
As I mentioned in my post on tips for vegan beginners, smoothies are key! This morning, I added pineapple, mango and blueberries into the blender. Then I just added coconut water. Prior to this I had two big glasses of water with lemon. I find that when I do this, I eat breakfast a little later and hydrate my body properly before I work out (if I do so in the morning). I also seem to crave less food in general when I start with a lot of water.
For lunch, I was craving beans. Beans and legumes are a great source of protein. They are actually a great source of a lot of things as these little bit sized balls of deliciousness are packed with fiber, antioxidants, iron, zinc and potassium. I cooked a can and drained some of the water out. Then I boiled some frozen broccoli. Combine the two with some salt, pepper and garlic powder and you have a wonderful and nutritious lunch.
My snacks are usually the same so I’ll just list a few I like. Plums, berries, almonds, walnuts, dried figs, DATES, bananas, celery with peanut butter or hummus.
Before I share this Vegan Chipotle Slaw Taco recipe, I would like to make a disclaimer. Meat substitutes for vegans are usually made out of soy. I, personally, limit my intake of soy as soy contains phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are plant based estrogens that mimic this hormone in our bodies.* When I learned of this, I decided I didn’t want to include this in my diet everyday. At the time, I was eating a lot of tofu. There are a lot of meat substitutes out there that taste amazing and I am not saying they are all bad. I just wanted to note that I have personally decided to limit my intake of soy products, like the meatless meatballs I am going to feature in the recipe. However, this was a special occasion and a damn good recipe.
First, I made a chipotle vegan cole slaw. (I don’t have any measurement tools yet so I can’t give you the proper amounts that I used. Just eye ball it.) I started by chopping up an entire head of cabbage and peeling about 5 or 6 carrots. You are suppose to grate the carrots after peeling them, but since I don’t have a grater I just continued to peel them into fat slices. Then I chopped them up and mixed them in with the cabbage.
Next, in a separate bowl, I added
few splashes of apple cider vinegar
a little almond milk
about half a jar of Sir Kensington’s Fabanaise in Chipotle
Mix it well and then combine with your carrots and cabbage. Vegan cole slaw with a kick!
This will serve as the topping for the tacos. To prepare the “meat,” I thawed out Trader Joe’s Meatless Meatballs, until they weren’t frozen anymore. Heating a skillet on medium, with some olive oil, I tossed in the meatballs. After they had time to warm, I broke them into pieces with a spatula.
Now for the spices! Mix in:
a little more olive oil to moisten the meatballs
Now that you have your taco “meat” and cole slaw, it’s time to assemble onto the tortilla! I added diced tomatoes and sriacha for some more spice!
As delicious as these were on their own, Marty and I concluded that they were missing some creaminess. Marty suggests adding some avocado, blended with cilantro. This will give the dish some more texture and cool down your palette. I would also add that if you wanted this to be a lighter, or gluten free dinner, simply make this a taco bowl instead, minus the tortilla! Enjoy!
I feel inspired to share this story with you. It’s connected to a number of reasons as to why I moved to California, (if you haven’t already, you can read part one here) but it also touches on a subject I want to discuss. Mental and emotional health. Your body and your mind are connected. To me, veganism and clean eating, isn’t just about losing weight or making your outer body look good. To me, by taking care of your insides, you are taking care of your soul.
Apart from wanting a change and seeking a place that would allow my plant based lifestyle to be simpler, a job I had prompted my departure. I had been working in restaurants the entire time I was in college. It’s fast money, flexible with my class schedule, and I was good at it. I like people and they like me. Once I finished college, I felt pressured to find a “real” job, a phrase I heard and said countless times. The general attitude towards waitressing jobs in Massachusetts is that it’s a job you have before you move on to something else. It’s seen as temporary. Even though the job is hard work and requires a number of skills such as a great memory, multi-tasking, friendliness, patience, strength, stamina…I believe that if you can be a waitress, you can do anything. But for someone like me, who has a degree, I was expected, by most, to be using it right away.
I have a Bachelors degree in English, and I couldn’t be prouder of it. I worked really hard in college and I enjoyed every minute of it. I made great friends, developed close relationships with brilliant professors and wrote as best as I could. I presented at conferences, received grants for my work and graduated as part of the honors program. I was devastated when it all ended and I still look back fondly at the time I spent as an undergrad. I think this is what made my transition harder into the “real world.” I received a lot of praise and confidence boosts in school. But now that it was over, I was expected to make money and use my degree in some way. It wasn’t enough that I had an education,that I had expanded my mind. I had to DO SOMETHING now.
I don’t know how many jobs I applied to. I don’t know how many cover letters I wrote. But I do know that I didn’t get any jobs. A few callbacks, a lot of rejection emails and plenty of silence. But no job. I was applying for positions that didn’t interest me in the slightest because I held on to the notion I had been hearing over and over. “Hey, you need to start somewhere.”
My cousin works for a health insurance company and he told me there were some open positions for member service positions. The thought of sitting in a cubicle, in front of a computer screen, with a phone attached to my ear sounded like hell. But I needed money, I needed to start somewhere. I applied and got the job. There was an eight week training program involved, for us to learn the ins and outs of the health industry and to understand insurance so we could answer member’s questions.
As my first day approached, I was filled with dread. “Think of the money,” I kept telling myself. “Stop being a baby.”
The first few weeks of training involved sitting in a class room from 8:30 until 5, going over power points and taking tests. Learning.
I learned a lot.
I learned that America is run by the drug industry. I learned that the majority of our society is on medication. I learned that people call their doctors over the slightest ailment and immediately gobble up every pill that is prescribed to them. I learned that doctors get paid to give out prescriptions. Healthy alternatives, like supplements or herbal remedies, are not covered by Massachusetts health insurance because holistic medicine is not viewed as a valid form of health care. I learned that by keeping America hooked on medication, a billion dollar industry is flourishing and the American people are slowly dying.
I thought about quitting almost everyday. My energy was low, my mind tired. I felt exhausted after leaving each night, even though I had been sitting all day. As a happy, lively woman these feeling were new to me and I was confused as to why they were occurring. But I stayed because of the money.
Finally my healthy, receptive body found a way to speak to me.
A week before my training ended and I would be able to be a real member’s service rep, I started to feel sick. Sitting in the back of the class room, I suddenly became really cold. I looked down at my hands and they were shaking. My heart began to race and my cheeks grew hot. I thought I was getting a fever. What else could explain this. When we breaked for lunch, I told one of the trainers that I needed to go home. We weren’t allowed to miss any training days or leave early, some of my co-workers had been asked to leave the training program for this, but I didn’t care. I knew something was wrong. I had to put my things away on the fourth floor before I could go home so I began walking up the stairs. My heart started racing like never before and my mind seemed to be spinning. I thought I was going to faint.
Once I finally made it out of there, I did the mature 25 year thing and called my mother. “It sounds like you just had an anxiety attack, ” she said.
I don’t have anxiety. I get a little anxious at times, or worked up about things, but I would never consider myself an anxious person. “You have been saying you wanted to quit, looks like your body went ahead and made the move for you,” my wise mother replied. And she was right.
I quit the next day. I thanked them for the opportunity, because I did appreciate the job offer, but I told them it wasn’t for me. I went back to working at the restaurant I had been for the last few years.
I’m telling this story because I think that mindfulness and your well being is equally as important to being a vegan as the food you put into your body. You have the right to make decisions for yourself and your body. I felt stuck being indoors, staring at a computer screen. Sitting all day, no circulation, waiting for my next break…that is not how human beings are meant to live. We are meant to be active, breathe fresh air and in touch with nature. We are meant to live in a way that is nourishing to our souls. Being in that office, breathing the stale air, listening to lectures on the corrupt medical industry (only it was feed to me as the countries way of helping its citizens) I felt like a caged bird.
Think about what you really want. Listen to your body. Sometimes our constant ailments are our bodies cry for help. Most of the time, it is telling you what to do or what to stop doing. We just ignore it too often. I couldn’t find a job in Massachusetts that catered to what I needed so I left. I understand that not everyone can do what I did. And I’m not saying that every office job is bad. I just want people to open their hearts and minds. Don’t follow the person in front of you, or this “system” in which we are suppose to live our lives. Live your life for you. Live your life for your health, for your body, for your glorious and wonderful mind. Don’t let a thing that precious go to waste.
As I have mentioned before, I am relatively new to this lifestyle. (And I will never lose my passion!) I’ve been receiving some questions about how to get started soI am creating this easy to read breakdown of what has helped me.
I collaborated with my boyfriend, Marty, to compile this list since he has been vegan longer than I have and he always gives me great advice!
So without further ado, here are our suggestions for vegan newbies!
1. Start Simply
I can’t stress this enough. Changing your eating habits is a huge life change and you don’t want to get discouraged. Be mindful of the foods you like to eat that are plant based and focus your meals around that. If you only know how to make one vegan dish, eat that everyday. If you love bananas, put plenty of them in smoothies or eat them throughout the day. If you love beans, there are a millions way to cook those. Start slow and begin weeding out the meat and dairy along the way.
2. Make Sure Your Food Tastes Good
If you are like us, you love eating. I plan what I’m going to make for dinner, while I’m eating lunch. It’s just how my brain works, especially now that I have been cooking all my own food. I think about what will taste good together, what type of spices I will use, if I want to make my meal entirely raw or add some cooked elements… Food is on my mind a lot. With that being said, it is easier for me to get excited about my vegan food because I know it’s going to taste delicious. This may seem obvious, but it really is key to keeping up with this life style. You need to have enthusiasm for your meals to counter your cravings for foods you are use to eating. So make it as scrumptious as you can! There are so many more vegan options popping up everywhere so your possibilities are endless.
3. Do Your Research
This goes hand in hand with enthusiasm. Once you learn about what you are putting into your body, all the nutrients and vitamins you are feeding it, you will know the reward for all your hard work. I know that when I’m putting a handful of blueberries into my smoothie, I am also filling my body with antioxidants, therefore neutralizing and removing free radicals from my blood stream. Spinach is not my favorite green, but while I eat it I am thankful for the zinc I am receiving. The food you put in your mouth effects your entire body and a lot of times we only focus on our taste buds. Researching how and why and when is extremely motivational AND gets you more in touch with your own body and what it needs.
4. Smoothies are Key
I love smoothies! I drink one every morning and every morning it is slightly different. I look forward to this source of energy to start my day. For vegan beginners, it’s a great way to get your fruits and veggies in. A typical smoothie for me includes frozen banana, frozen kale and whatever else we have fresh or in the frozen, such as blueberries, mango, pineapple or more bananas. Add a scoop of barley grass powder and pour in almond milk, coconut water or just regular water and BAM! You have a lot going on and odds are it’s going to taste delicious. There are so many foods or supplements (if you are taking any) that you can toss into the blender for an amazing meal.
5. Educate Yourself on GMOs and Organic Produce
This is super super important to us. Genetically modified food is throughout the standard American diet. Most packaged food containing sugar, soy, corn or canola, as well as the vast majority of crops grown in the United States have been genetically modified. What that means is that genetic makeup of a plant, animal or other orgasm has been altered using gene modification or transgenic technology, creating unstable combinations of genes that wouldn’t occur in nature. They are taking the nature out of natural products basically. According to the nongmoproject.org,
Most developed nations do not consider GMOs to be safe and have significant restrictions or outright bans on the production and sale of GMOs. The U.S. and Canadian governments, though, have approved GMOs based on studies conducted by the same corporations that created them and profit from their sale.
People are putting chemicals into their bodies on a regular basis. Animal-derived products, like dairy, meat and eggs are also on the high risk end because of the GMOs present in the animal feed. This is a huge reason as to why animal products are unsafe and harmful to our bodies.
As a vegan, knowing these facts can only help you. Try avoiding any fruits and veggies that aren’t organic. Mindfulness is a huge part of veganism. Embrace yours.
6. Pack Snacks
You don’t want to let yourself get too hungry when you are changing your diet. You will crave your old eating habits a great deal. Packing snacks works for me, because if I ever do start to have a craving, I can counter act it with the watermelon I have in the back seat.
On a recent trip to San Diego, Marty and I packed a bunch of bananas, some almonds and a watermelon, which we split. Since we both love food, a day out with restaurants on every corner use to be a form of unusual punishment. Now, we know we already have plenty to eat and that we will feel even more energized and happy with the choices we have brought. And it saves money! Set yourself up for success and plan ahead. You will be so happy you did.
7. Stay Away from Processed Foods (Even if they are Vegan)
It’s nice to indulge in “meatless” chicken or meatballs, frozen vegan mac and cheese or tofu scramble every once and awhile. But only whole foods are going to leave you feeling satiated and satisfied long term. If you are trying to lose weight, this is especially important because processed food can contain added sugars and can become addictive. Then you will crave more processed food, which in turn makes you eat more. This is another great reason to cook your own food. Put the work in and you will be proud that you created something that will benefit your body.
8. Love Your Body
Self love goes hand in hand with veganism. You are making great strides in your life to properly care for the beautiful body you were given. You are treating yourself with respect. You are loving yourself. Once I started eating this way, my energy levels increased, my skin cleared up, I have more confidence, I am stronger and I feel more open and alive to the world around me. What more could you ask for! Your body is a sacred place and you should treat it as such. You are worth giving yourself the absolute best care, chemical free, nutrient full. Grow into the beautiful creature you are meant to become!
Have a happy, healthy day!
Fellow vegans! Please comment with any other tips that work for you!
There is more to being vegan than not eating meat and cheese products. In order to stay fit, have energy and eat clean, you also need to avoid an excess amount of sugar and gluten. If you rid your body of the toxins and hormones that meat and dairy fill it with, but then load up on bread and sugary snacks, you won’t see the change you are looking for, or feel the energy that eating fruit and vegetables give you.
Sugar is an addictive substance. According to authoritynutrition.com, sugar contains the same addictive reactions in the brain as opiods.
When we eat foods that contain a lot of sugar, a massive amount of dopamine is released in an area of the brain called the Nucleus Accumbens. When we eat these foods often and in large amounts, the dopamine receptors start to down-regulate. Now there are fewer receptors for the dopamine.
This means that the next time we eat these foods, their effect is blunted. We will need more junk food next time we eat in order to get the same level of reward.Sugar and other junk foods, due to their powerful effect on the reward centers of the brain, function similarly to drugs of abuse like cocaine and nicotine.
I was a sugar addict. I can’t even tell you the countless times I tried a no sugar/ no white flour type detox, years before I went vegan. The first few days were always awful. All I could think about was sugar. Chocolate, cake, candy, even juice, which I barely ever drank. My body wanted the fastest shot of sugar it could get and my mouth felt like it was actually salivating for anything sweet. When I made it through those moments and I felt strong enough to at least taste a piece of a Reeses if it was there, I would relapse and eat the whole thing. And want more.
I still struggle with sugar cravings now, but not so much. Now that I have been filling my body with nutritious foods that make me feel good, I am less likely to reach for the bad stuff. That is not to say that when I’m standing in line at the grocery store and all the chocolate bars are staring at me, I still want to grab a handful and throw them on the conveyor belt.
What keeps me from doing it though, is knowing that I’ll feel lousy afterwards. I’m finally at a place where I can eat a meal or a snack and feel satisfied and my stomach won’t hurt or feel bloated. So why would I want to ruin these good feelings?
Fruit is a life saver. It is so sweet on it’s own that once I eat a banana or a handful of dates, I don’t feel the need for the chocolate anymore.
However, I enjoy learning about ways to create “bad” desserts into healthy ones. I like the old habit of after eating dinner, having a dessert since I usually crave something sweet after I eat a savory meal. Here is my vegan cookie experiment!
I am delighted to share this amazing cookie recipe from onegreenplanet.org. Contributor Lucie Javorska made these 5 ingredient banana fig cookies that I was so excited to try.
I had never tried or cooked with cardamom before. Upon doing some research, I found that this ancient spice originating from India, Nepal and Bhutan, has a significant amount of health benefits. Cardamom helps with cholesterol control, cardiovascular issues, blood circulation, urinary tract infections and gastrointestinal protection.
It is also very expensive so I ended up finding a small amount to purchase at Whole Foods, as I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it or use it after this recipe. Cardamom is a very strong and specific flavor but I wanted to follow this recipe exactly to get the full experience.
I’m so glad I did! All you do is combine, 2 mashed bananas with ground up almonds, chopped dried figs, a little cardamom and some chia seeds. (I used hemp seeds because that is all I had). It’s amazing that ground almonds can make a delicious flour substitute and binding agent.
The sweet bananas and figs left no room for me to miss white sugar. I ate four in a row after they cooled and there was no guilt involved. I was excited to find a simple and delicious recipe to make whenever I felt like I wanted some carbs.
Because I loved these so much, I wanted to try my own version. I substituted the figs for slices of fresh strawberries and the cardamom for cinnamon. Cinnamon is also great for the cardiovascular system and digestive system, as well as a de-bloater.
I baked them for the same amount of time and at the same temperature. I love warmed strawberry desserts like strawberry rhubarb pie or a cobbler or warm tart, so this was a great way to get that strawberry sweetness into a cookie dessert.
I have to say I loved both equally, since they were two unique flavors. The banana and almond base create a platform for any type of ingredient you would want in a cookie. Next, I want to try adding peanut butter, or maybe cacao nibs if I’m craving chocolate. Or coconut! Or raisins! SO MANY POSSIBILITIES
Thank you to onegreenplanet.org for posting this recipe! Comment below if you have any other vegan desserts I should try!
As a woman today, the need to be flawless is of high importance. Society’s standard of beauty is far from attainable and it leaves so many beautiful girls and women feeling unattractive, undesirable, or just not good enough. Our bodies are picked apart by the media as they constantly exploit female celebrities, examining each part of their body under a dehumanizing microscopes, like they are animals in a zoo. Just there to be looked at.
It infuriates me more than I can express. I’ve met so many young girls that hate their bodies, or focus on a specific area to loathe and condemn. They go to great lengths to hide a flaw, or make this body part look bigger or smaller, all to attain a level of beauty that has been feed to them through social media, TV, magazine, advertisements…you get it. It’s everywhere.
I have been this girl.
My biggest complaint about myself use to be my skin. Ever since I was a teenager, I struggled with acne and breakouts. Throughout the ages of 14-20, it seemed that I was never without a breakout on my chin. This is a hormonal area and at first I thought it was just puberty. But by the time I hit my early twenties and not much had changed, I was extremely frustrated. I broke out along my bikini area as well and then pimples started appearing on my neck and under my arm pits. Most of these were really painful, to the point where I had to start basing what I wore around my breakouts so the clothes wouldn’t touch the area and make it worse. This did a number on my self esteem.
Every time I would look in the mirror without makeup, I felt sad. In the morning, I couldn’t wait to cover my face with foundation to erase the red marks. After my face was full of concealer, bronzer, blush, mascara and lipstick, then I could feel attractive. Makeup became my only way to self confidence. I was aware that this wasn’t healthy, that I should still love my face and my skin and my body, even with the blemishes, but it was really hard for me to do so. I was my own worst critic.
The funny thing was, I didn’t really enjoy putting on the make-up. I would go through phases, especially with my sister who is a make-up artist and esthetician, and buy a bunch of new products and experiment with them. Sometimes it was fun, and sometimes I would think everything would look better if my skin was flawless. I didn’t even really want to wear it! But, I felt like I didn’t have a choice. Pretty and feminine, to me, meant clear skin and make-up. I just couldn’t see a way that I could give it up.
A few months after I turned 25, I decided I didn’t want to feel this way anymore. My face breakouts were getting better, but my body acne was still in full effect. I had tried tons of products: cleaners, toners, creams, foundations, scrubs…everything it seemed. But once the acne started becoming painful and cystic, I realized that something inside my body was trying to tell me something. Pimples and acne are bacteria from within the skin trying to get out. But your skin is your biggest organ. Everything in your body is working together. And I thought mine was really trying to get a point across. It had to be something I was eating.
I went to a dermatologist who diagnosed me with hidradenitis suppurativa, a chronic skin disease, that “didn’t have a cure”. She said this explained my cystic like acne on the hormonal places on my body, like my bikini area and arm pits. She prescribed me a pill and topical solution full of chemicals. I asked her if she knew of a more holistic approach, such as what I would avoid eating. “No,” she said, shaking her head. “Only these medicines will work.”
Okay, I thought. Looks like I’m taking matters into my own hands.
This is when I cut dairy out from my diet, as I have mentioned in other posts. According to my research, I found that milk and cheese products contain a huge amount of hormones. Even if a dairy product claims to be “hormone free”, it really can’t be. Cows that are producing milk are pregnant. They are producing natural hormones that cows create during every menstrual cycle, and even more so during their pregnancy. So cows milk is FULL of the natural cow hormones. Plus, there is also the the hormone injection, BST or bovine somatotropin, that are given to cows to make them produce even more milk. So labeled “hormone-free” or not, whenever you drink milk you are getting a high dose of growth hormones right to your system. The hormones that baby cows need to grow strong. For us, it just causing rapid hormonal growth, weight gain and inflammation. Your skin produces more oil, which clogs the pores, your insulin spikes, which prompts your liver to produce more hormones AND dairy also glues dead skin cells together inside your pores, trapping everything in there*. Eww.
After realizing this horror and thinking back to all the cheese I have consumed in my life, I knew what I had to do. NO MORE DAIRY.
I may have wanted to cry at first as visions of my favorite foods, ice cream, pizza, brie cheese, cheddar cheese, goat cheese (okay all cheese) and yogurt, were being snatched out of my fridge. But I knew this was going to help. I could just sense it.
Within a month, my skin began to heal. The redness had gone down and the pimples where slowly filtering themselves out. I didn’t even miss dairy like I thought I would. My body felt so good that I didn’t want to pollute it with excess hormones. I also stopped eating meat and limited my intake of sugar and gluten. WAS THIS ALL I NEEDED TO BE DOING ALL ALONG??
Now that my skin was getting better, I knew needed to work on my self esteem.I still didn’t feel comfortable without makeup and I really wanted to get to the point where I felt comfortable and beautiful in my natural skin.
Our trip to California was going to involve a lot of camping. The plan was to drive for 5-6 hours and then camp along the way. I wanted my camping experience to be fun, and most of all, simple. I wanted to wear comfy clothes and not bother with hair and makeup. I wanted to cleanse my mind of all concepts of beauty and just be a woman on an adventure. Just me being me.
I decided to do a make-up detox.
I thought it would be easy because we were going to be in the car most of the time, not around a lot of people. But sometimes, I would feel self conscience if we stopped at a restaurant or a gas station and I was bare faced, without flawless skin and in sweat pant shorts. I was still fighting against the lie in my head, that I was unattractive in these moments. I mean, I honestly I felt good, if I only thought about myself. I was clean (for the most part), I was on an adventure and I was comfortable. So that’s what I focused on.
Soon, I really began to love not wearing makeup. My skin felt so fresh and smooth! I was simply washing my face with water and then applying coconut oil to it, if my skin was feeling dry. The easiest skin regiment I had EVER been on. My skin was free! And able to breathe!
When we got to California, I became a little self conscience again. A lot of the women here are dressed beautifully, with immaculate makeup and hair and clothes.
Comparison is the root of unhappiness. I am happy with how I look and that’s all that matters. Now, I hardly ever make up my face. I haven’t touched a mascara wand in 2 months. The only time I apply anything is when I go to work. I usually apply a little bronzer to even out my tan and a little lipstick to look more professional. THAT’S IT!
I actually learned to love looking at my bare face in the mirror and BE HAPPY with my reflection. My skin is almost completely healed of redness and blemishes. I finally have the skin I have always wanted. But more importantly, I learned to value myself for who and what I am. I am more than my skin and my body. I am a strong woman with valuable things to say and do. I can contribute to this world.
And I’m not going to let society’s standard of beauty hold me back.
Part of the joy of this lifestyle is coming up with creative ways to prepare your food. Since I don’t have the staples of a standard American diet, I have to think outside the box as a vegan to create delicious meals that still leave me feeling satiated and satisfied.
In this series, I will show you what I have been eating throughout the day as I continue to experiment. Enjoy!
I really enjoy starting my day off with fruit. It’s hydrating, sweet, filling and I don’t feel sluggish. I want energy to start my day and these healthy carbs will help me do that.
Today, I drank two glasses of water upon waking up. I usually have a fruit smoothie for breakfast, however, on this particular day, I was really hungry and wanted something bigger. I decided to try my take on a smoothie bowl. I blended frozen bananas and frozen mango with a little almond milk to make an ice cream like consistency. Then I just chopped up a fresh banana and some raw cashews and sprinkled it all on top. So delicious and so filling!
If I’m not adding coconut water to my morning smoothie, I usually add almond milk, like with this smoothie bowl. I have tried a lot of different brands of almond milk but Califia Farms is me and Marty’s favorite. We usually use the vanilla if something needs a little extra sweetness (or for dipping Lenny & Larry’s vegan cookies in.I’m obsessed.)
Sometimes, depending on how big my breakfast is or how I’m feeling, I don’t eat a proper lunch. I might have a small salad if I feel like I need some veggies, or I’ll snack on fruit or nuts throughout the day. There is a local farmers market within walking distance from our apartment in Long Beach and there is some of the best fruit I have ever had there.
This is called a King Midas plum. I had only ever tasted the standard red or dark plum prior to coming to Cali because that’s all MA had to offer.This farm grows about 10 different types of plum, all unique in sweetness, color and texture. The King Midas is sweet through and through. Every time I bite into one, I can’t believe how juicy and amazing they are. I had one of these as a snack, along with a bowl full of green grapes and more cashews. I’m sure I ate a few dates at some point as well.
Marty and I have been trying to get a little more creative when it comes to dinner. On the nights that we don’t go for a run, we usually prepare a good sized dinner. Tonight, I was craving tomato, but I wanted a cold dish, something refreshing. I decided to try a take on bruschetta.
First, I poured olive oil into a bowl and added:
Himalayan pink salt
fresh, chopped garlic
Next, I chopped up two big tomatos into sizable chunks and let them soak in the oil mixture.
While I did this, Marty made noodles out of zucchini with our zoodle maker. Then, I just added everything together! This is a great meal if you are a fully raw vegan or if you are craving some Italian dinner like spices.
Because we are both fat kids at heart, this was not the only part of our dinner. We had some sweet potatoes in the cabinet that I have been craving really hard. I sliced them up somewhat thin, kind of like a thicker potato chip, and laid them out on a cookie sheet. Then I doused them with a good coat of olive oil and sprinkled some salt, pepper and garlic powder over them. These cook for about 30 minutes. I take them out about half way and flip them so they get crispy on both sides. (Thanks mom!)
These were amazing on their own, however, we had just discovered Sir Kensington’s Fabanaise (vegan mayonnaise) in chipolte flavor. It made an incredible dipping sauce! The good thing about this vegan mayo is that it is made with ingredients like sunflower oil and chickpeas, so there weren’t any hidden preservatives to make it taste like mayo.
I hope you enjoyed this! Comment down below if you have any questions or recipes I should try!
There are a lot of reasons why I decided to relocate myself to California. As I think about the chain of events that lead me here, I can’t help but feel as if everything fell into place exactly the way it was suppose to.
It all started at a low point in my life. (As most dramatic stories do). I was unhappy with my financial situation, that I was 25 and still living at home (sorry Mom!) and that my college days, a fulfilling and influential time for me, were over. I asked myself the age old question over and over “What is my purpose?” (WILL THIS QUESTION EVER BE ANSWERED?)
In college as an English major, I wrote all the time. Short stories, essays, fiction, non- fiction…it was amazing. During this low point, the only writing I was doing was copying self help quotes into a composition note book. I was unhappy with myself as a person and how I had been treating my body, filling it with alcohol and fried food and pizza all summer long. Now that the warm weather was gone, and the dark, cold New England weather was fast approaching, I felt depressed for the first time in my life.
I am the type of person who wants a solution right away. I couldn’t stand feeling this shitty anymore and I decided to do something about it. It’s hard to remember the timeline and where my brain was at exactly but a huge motivation for change came from “Wild” by Cheryl Strayed. (I was writing a different blog around this time and actually wrote a post about my experience with the book. You can find that here)
In a nut shell, Cheryl’s story made me start thinking about what is actually important. What I actually need in life to survive.And in reality, its not very much! After finishing the book and wiping away the tears I shed (did I mention is was an emotional time for me?) I wanted to tear my room apart and throw away everything I had that was not essential to making me a happy and better person. The thought of minimalism and living on very little intrigued me. But instead of packing a backpack and hiking the PCT like Cheryl (although I can’t deny that I did consider this) I made the decision live simply.
To me that was freedom.
I started with my body. I knew that if I was going to improve anything in my life, I needed my body to reflect the change I wanted to make. The acne and breakouts I had been struggling with since my teen years, prompted my first major change in my diet. My skin was causing me to feel bad about myself and my outward appearance. It was also painful at times depending on where I broke out. My research led me to decide to cut out dairy products all together. I loved cheese. I would eat chunks of cheese as a snack. Cheese was part of all my meals. I was relying on it to keep me full and I thought it was a source of protein. However, milk products are FULL of hormones and inflammatory substances that clog your pores. As a woman, the idea of messing with my hormones freaked me out and I knew that once I cut out milk products I would feel better. (Once you see how the cows are treated and what it is you are actually putting into your body, you won’t want to eat it either. Save the cows, please.)
And I was right.
A few months later, my skin was healing and my acne fading. (I will talk more in detail about my skin story in another post!)
I felt lighter and I looked thinner.
I felt clean inside.
As some of you may know from eating clean, its addictive. I wanted to know what else I could be omitting or adding to keep my body feeling this good. I stopped eating meat. This actually wasn’t very hard for me. Ground beef and burgers usually caused me to have stomach pain, so I hadn’t been eating those much. Chicken was usually accompanied with some kind of cheese, as 1. I am Italian and 2. a lover of chicken nachos, so I wasn’t really eating much of that after I cut out the dairy.
Then I just kept going. I found amazing gluten free bread. I started eating hummus and avocados, fresh fruit and veggies. Tabouli, green smoothies, dates, coconut water, black bean and rice burritos. All amazing food! I got to the point where I looked forward to going to the grocery store because I loved buying things that were good for me and delicious at the same time. I started taking turmeric supplements, a root rich in nutrients and anti-inflammatory properties for my skin. I also took a probiotic for my gut health and vitamin D (because of the already mentioned depressing weather of Massachusetts during this time.) Before I knew it, I was living a vegan lifestyle. And I loved it.
I met my boyfriend, Marty, right in the middle of all this change. We had known each other in the beginning of college (7 years ago!) and randomly bumped into each other at a bar on New Years Eve. A few weeks later we started seeing each other regularly and we fell in love very quickly. He is a huge influence in my health story. Marty was a vegan and had a wealth of knowledge on the body and health that I did not. His pantry was full of supplements and powders and he always had bananas and avocados on the shelf above the microwave. He was the real deal to me. He knew his shit. Because we hung out so much, I started eating more like him. We both enjoyed learning about holistic approaches, alternative medicine and ways to improve our lives through food and exercise. I couldn’t help but feel we found each other at the right time. We could have dated all those years ago, but instead we found each other in the mist of changing our lives and improving our bodies. Can I say it was FATE without everyone cringing?? No but really…it was 🙂
He was the one that suggested we leave Massachusetts and start a life in California. At first, I thought he was joking, dreaming perhaps. But he was serious. I had been wanting to move out of MA for years. Having been to LA and surrounding areas a few times to visit my friend, I knew a little about Cali life. However, the thought of moving there on my own and leaving my family deterred me. But it felt right when Marty said it, like it was finally the right time.
We spent the next few months forming plans. Marty’s friend and roommate grew up in Long Beach and was looking to go back as soon as possible. He helped us a lot, mapping out our road trip route and trying to prepare us for this huge change. We felt like we were ready.
Marty and I both want the same thing. A simple, healthy life. I kept going back to Cheryl Strayed in “Wild,’ hiking for months, living off of what she put in her back pack. As the change in my life progressed and I began to open my mind to this other way of living, aware of how I treated my body and why, as I began to actually think for myself, I wanted to detach myself from society in a way. I didn’t want to care about clothes and makeup and how I was fitting in anymore. I didn’t want to care about “stuff.”
MA isn’t a terrible place. It’s beautiful in the summer and it will always be special because it is my home state. However, it’s winter the majority of the time. That means no sun, no running along the beach, no fresh produce, no yoga in the grass, no walking from place to place. All the things I longed for.
So we left. I got rid of everything I had except for two trash bags of clothes, a pile of books and my record player. And we loaded it up into the car and drove away.
Stay tuned for part 2 coming soon! If there is anything, you want me to elaborate on, please leave me a comment!