Saturday, August 22, 2009

My Pantry

Yesterday I took the kids to get groceries and I stopped at my favorite Amish store. This place sells dry goods that are sometimes past the expiration date, or else the package has been damaged, but sometimes it's neither. This stuff is so damn cheap that I'm like a kid on Christmas morning when I go in. I mean, cans of chickpeas for 25 cents? Come on! I am all over that shit!

The great thing about this place is that I find things there that I cannot find anywhere else. There are a lot of organic items, and also many items that are so expensive elsewhere that I can't justify buying them. I have also tried some new things. Yesterday I found tapioca flour for 75 cents, and a large jar of PURE maple syrup for $3.50 (a steal - this stuff is expensive).

The bad thing about this place is that I buy too much! I get home and I don't know where to put it all. My cupboards are crammed full. I now have six cans and four bags of organic coffee shoved away. I cleaned out my pantry cupboard thingy and realized my biggest problem is not even realizing what I have at home already. I found four cans of crushed pineapple stuffed in there!

But I can't pass up a good deal. If I see something I love there (like the occasional Vegenaise) I take whatever they have because they might never have it there again. I'll find room for it somewhere.

We also saw something horrible there...cans of pork brains. I kid you not. I showed them to Garrett and he was mad at me for grossing him out. On the front of the can they had a little illustration of a plate of pig's brains on top of some potatoes or something. Jesus...the cholesterol level was 1050 percent of the recommended daily allowance. *Shudders*

Now that I know what I have in my pantry and have it all neatly organized, I feel like cooking. I am going to read my cookbooks and go online and find something great to make with all my new ingredients. And I think I better make something with pineapple in it.

Ooh- good news...there is a lady who has a food column in my paper and she let me know that she is quitting. Hopefully I will get another chance at my own food column!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Non-Vegan World

Being a vegan has been difficult at times, but after more than a year, I have survived a lot. Family get-togethers, cook-outs, restaurants, and the holidays. Restaurants are particularly miserable. Grace and I recently went out to eat with my grandma, my mom, and my aunt at a chain Mexican restaurant that I would NOT have chosen, but it was my grandma's birthday and she wanted to go there. Most Mexican restaurants (heck, most restaurants) have a vegetarian section. I thought I would be able to get some sort of vegetable fajita or something, and some good guacamole. But not really. I had to be a pain in the ass and order a spinach mushroom enchilada with some major changes. I don't want any of the garlic butter sauce, and no sour cream. And all that's inside is the spinach, mushrooms and onions, right? Right. Great. Then all our food came and my enchiladas had melted cheese all over the top of them. Sigh. I checked it out quickly; could I scrape it off? No, it was baked right on. Do I just keep my mouth shut and eat it? Hell no. I had her take it back and bring me a new one. While I ate it, it tasted good, but I was very suspicious. I wouldn't doubt it if the rice had been cooked in chicken broth, the beans had lard in them, and the inside of my enchiladas had been cooked with butter. I couldn't really enjoy it. And the guacamole SUCKED. My own guac I make at home is ten thousand times better.

Tomorrow we are taking the kids on our little mini-vacation for the summer. We are going to the Mall of America to play all day, then back to a hotel with a sweet water park. They also have a restaurant and the kids eat free. I don't have any idea what I will be eating. I think I should pack my own food, or at least some soy milk for my coffee in the morning. At the breakfast buffet, I will be eating the fruit. I think I will bring the homemade granola I made because it was really good.

I certainly won't starve to death, that's for sure. All of these little bumps in the road are totally worth it to me. There's no way I'm going to give in just because it's easier. I just really wish the world was more vegan-friendly.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Day Three- The Final Day

Being a raw foodie has been easier than hell today. I think this adventure has been a success. I don't feel any cravings for sugar. I can't believe I have gone three days without any sugar, and not even slice of bread. I have some raw almond meal crackers in the dehydrator right now and they smell delicious. I am going to eat them with guacamole when they are done.

I just returned from a shopping trip with the kids. I went to my favorite Amish farm and bought some produce. This time she had some Italian eggplant so I bought a few of those. They are long and skinny. I also bought a big zucchini, broccoli, a bag of red potatoes, a bag of peaches, a really funny-looking white squash, and kohlrabi. I have never tried kohlrabi before. I spent a total of nine dollars.

At the grocery store I bought a coconut, so we will see if I can get the damn thing open and enjoy it. Among the other fruits and veggies I bought, I picked up some apples to dry in the dehydrator. I might sprinkle some cinnamon on them.

I managed to survive the trip by singing loudly to Tom Petty songs while the kids fought, screamed, cried and threw things at each other in the back of the van. I feel so good that I can handle anything.

I made some gazpacho and it is marinating in the refrigerator. The tomato juice is not raw, but that's okay. I have done well. Tomorrow I am going to eat some cooked food, because it is sweet corn season, and I have a veggie Italian sausage I need to grill. But I am going to still explore some of the raw recipes I have found and try to eat a lot of raw foods.

Okay, you don't have to hear about my detox anymore. It was very difficult, especially yesterday. Last night I was really tired and as I was lying in bed I felt really depressed and didn't think I could do another day of it. Maybe I will do it again sometime, but try to go longer. I enjoy a challenge, and I do NOT like to give up.

It suddenly occurred to me that I might be the luckiest woman alive.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


I read a great little article about the effects of detoxifying your body. It read, "When the quality of the food coming into the body is of higher quality than the tissues which the body is made of, the body begins to discard the lower grade materials and tissues to make room for the superior materials which it uses to make new and healthier tissue."

Some of the side effects of the cells rejuvenating and getting rid of the junk inside are headaches (check) irritability (check), fatigue (check check), physical aches and pains, nausea (check) and vomiting, colds and fevers. These are your body's way of getting rid of the nastiness and healing itself.

I'm starting to wonder if three days will really be enough time for a detox. I picked the time period on my own, I am not going by any rules here. I just felt it was a realistic time that I could do it. And there are many ways to do it. I just picked raw because there are no restrictions to how much I can eat, fat or calories, and there's no way in hell I am drinking juice for a week. I think that after tomorrow I will slowly ease back into eating cooked foods and still have the major part of my meals be fresh fruits and veggies. And for treats I will make my little raw treats that are so yummy. No matter what, it will be good for me.

Having some hot flashes and I feel like going to bed. But I'm going to drink a smoothie. I may attempt to write, but my brain doesn't feel like it's all there.


I'm sitting here in the middle of an article for the paper and something has become very clear. I am not hungry right now. In fact, I feel quite satisfied. The last thing I ate was a big salad at lunch. Oh, man that was a good salad. Baby spinach, broccoli, cucumbers, carrots, green onions, and avocado all with a bit of the Goddess Dressing on top. Then I had a carob bar and shared a couple of oranges with Grace. When I got home from running errands, I had a small glass of pineapple juice. I think I am going to make it one more day. Maybe I will even go longer, except I have non-raw food here that I need to eat. I don't like to waste food.

I am tired. I am stressed out. My house is a mess; there are toys on the floor, dirty dishes in the sink, and my kitchen floor looks filthy. I have no time to deal with this right now. Being with the kids 24/7 is starting to make me feel really, terribly, claustrophobic and frazzled. But I feel something changing inside me. This brain-fog and weirdness I feel (probably my body detoxifying) is starting to clear and I am feeling a strange elation.

I think that after this my body is going to be satisfied with less food, and I am going to lose my cravings for sugar and salt. I am actually going to crave good things, and prefer the sweetness of fresh fruit to other things. I am going to re-learn how to eat only when my body is actually hungry, and to stop when my full. I used to know how to do that, but it's so easy to lose.


I just ate a BIG handful of fake bacon bits.

I'm not positive, but I think I would kill for a chickpea salad sandwich on pita bread.

Well, maybe not kill. But hurt someone.


I'm halfway through. I'm halfway through. I'm halfway through. I'm such a wuss!

Day Two

I survived day one. During the late afternoon I was starting to feel dizzy and then I got a headache. My thoughts were kind of jumbled (more so than usual). I was tired, but that could be the lack of caffeine (I am drinking mostly decaf). Last night I was really craving bread, but I made it through. I made these little treats called "Rich Carob Balls" that were really good. They were made with tahini, carob powder, sunflower seeds, raisins, chopped cashews and a bit of honey (I know, not exactly vegan!). I rolled them into a ball and put them in the freezer and took one out once in a while. They were yummy, and they kind of had a chocolate/peanut butter flavor to them that was satisfying for a sweet tooth. But I do like cocoa powder better.

One thing I noticed is that I didn't really eat any meals, I just kind of ate a bit here and there throughout the day when I felt hungry. I had a Chilly Chai smoothie and the Popeye Goes to India salad for lunch. I ate some broccoli dipped in Annie's Natural Goddess dressing for a snack. I marinated mushrooms in olive oil, tamari sauce, garlic powder and onion powder all day and ate some when I got back from my meeting last night.

One other thing I noticed is that everything I ate was just bursting with flavor. Maybe because I was hungry, or maybe my palate wasn't deadened with junk, but everything tasted so, so good. The fruit I ate was so sweet, sweeter than any cookies or cupcakes, and left me feeling light and healthy.

I think I can do this for a couple more days, but not forever. I really think it's going to help me get off processed sugar. Today I am going to make some almond meal crackers in the dehydrator. I bought a bag of almond meal for really cheap but never knew what to do with it until I found this recipe. I hope it's good!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Raw Food Detox - Day One

Any vegan will tell you that the word vegan is NOT synonymous with the word healthy. There are tons of junk food options for me, unfortunately. I am addicted to sugar in its many forms, and I love to bake my own cookies, cupcakes and muffins. I also enjoy french fries and potato chips and popcorn I make in oil. Believe it or not, there are days when I find myself not getting the amount of fruits and veggies that I should be getting. Right now I feel fat, and I hate it. I have decided to detox the nasties out of my system by going completely raw for three days.

Eating raw, or live, food is so good for your body. It makes for a good detox because it is so easy for your body to digest, it can work on getting rid of the other toxins in your body that it usually doesn't have the energy for. Eating living foods gives people more energy. I know I feel a sort of energetic rush when I eat raw fruits and veggies. I love that feeling.

So this is day one of my trial. I am hoping to jump-start some weight loss, have more energy, and mostly, decrease my cravings for junk. Last night I bought a shitload of ripe bananas at the grocery store for half price. They were in the dehydrator all night. Grace is eating them like they are cookies, and they are so sweet and chewy and delicious. I have cookbooks ready, plenty of fresh fruits and veggies, nuts, seeds, etc.

So far I have had a banana, some of the dehydrated bananas, a nectarine and my coffee. No, coffee is not raw, and neither is the stuff I put in it. There's no raw food police here. I can do it however I want!

I think this could be fun!

A Little History

Those of you who know me know that I grew up very poor. My brother and I lived with my mom, who was on welfare most of the time. When she did work, we were even more poor, because she made minimum wage, she had to pay someone to babysit us, and we didn't qualify for food stamps. There were many times that my brother and I had nothing to eat. There were many times we scrounged for coins in the car and house to be able to buy a burger at McDonalds. There were times we lived on saltine crackers with peanut butter all day while she was at work. Our meals were cheap, heavily processed, and extremely unhealthy. We ate an unbelievable amount of fast food. When we were with my dad every other weekend, it was a little better, but not healthier. I grew up on white Wonder bread, white pasta, tons of soda, whole milk, frozen foods, a lot of meat and a lot of dairy. My dad worked at a dairy, and still does, and still believes that people need lots and LOTS of milk and cheese to be healthy.

When I was seventeen I became a vegetarian for the first time, much to the dismay of my family. My step-mom was very considerate about it, and always made me a meat-free version of the meal she was cooking. I remember feeling so good that year. When I moved out and was living with my aunt and uncle, it was even harder for them to know what to feed me. These people lived on red meat. They still do. I also was unsure of what to eat to be healthy and get the right amounts of protein and vitamins, and I was often so hungry that I would eat meat. I would get cravings, and there weren't a lot of meat substitutes back then. When I moved out and into an apartment with Todd, I just kind of fell back into eating the Standard American Diet (SAD), even though I felt guilty about it every day.

A little over three years ago I made the final switch. I was tired of just living life the convenient way, and wanted to be who I really was no matter how difficult it was. The last piece of meat I ate (intentionally) was an Asian Chicken Salad from McDonalds. I was at the park with a friend and our kids were playing. I told her I was thinking of going back to being a veggie. For supper that night, I got a bean and cheese burrito and that was it. I was done.

This time it was so easy. I learned to make dishes with foods I had never eaten before. I made things with lentils, black beans, chickpeas, tofu. I tried new spices, new herbs, new greens and veggies. I bought an avocado. Many people in my family didn't even know what an avocado was. I felt so daring, so excited. It was all new territory to me. I learned to love cooking. LOVE it.

I knew that veganism was the way I wanted to go eventually, but I couldn't imagine giving up cheese. I did it a year ago now, and I have never looked back. It has opened even more doors to more possibilties, and I feel wonderful. For this blog, I just want to share the things I have been eating in this adventure, the new recipes I try out, the new foods I discover, and the road I am taking to good health, both mentally and physically.