It’s Been That Kind of Day

While shopping today, I learned that Walmart sells wine. 

I know nothing about wine. I have no place to store any wine bottles (because, I live in a van).

I am also trying to reduce dish-washing since today, we have had NO hot water. Zip. Zilch.

Walmart Wine

I may have possibly purchased a 4-pack of these itty bitty wine bottles. As single serving bottles, no dish-washing required.

Yes, I live in a van. Yes, I purchased wine at Walmart. I’m a little scared what this says about me…

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30 Days Later

30 Days After Going VeganIt’s hard to believe it’s been a month! It’s now been thirty days on our new diet and I think we’re now at the point where this is just how it is, and this is our new normal. Switching to a Whole Food Plant Based Diet for us was pretty darn easy. It was roughly two years ago when we stopped eating sugar and processed foods, and went to a Whole Food diet so this time the swap was relatively easy – at least after the first few days! Once we figured out how to combine food better to avoid blood sugar swings and stave off feelings of starvation it’s been pretty simple.

5 years ago I felt forced into giving up my Vegetarian identity. Really, at the time, it had been ten years for me as a Vegetarian, and it felt like a part of my soul was shattering. I didn’t agree with it, I just felt like I had to – and the story and reasons why are way too long to write here. Let’s just say that now 5 years later, if I knew then what I know now, I wouldn’t have had to do that. I’m now better equipped to deal with Gastroparesis as a Vegan, but I sure didn’t have the tools or resources back then. But, life is all about life-long learning and new experiences and I know more now, and I can’t let myself feel bad about what I thought I needed to do. That was then, this is now.

At this point, our household is now Vegan-friendly, and I couldn’t be more thrilled. Our health will be better for it, and on top of everything, I can really and truly feel good about the food choices we are making. When researching diet and health, especially when learning about a Plant Based Diet, you can’t help but also learn more about conventional factory farming methods, and the materials that come from that world that end up on clothing racks (such as leather, wool, and other animal-sourced products).

When I became a Vegetarian in my early twenties, I continued purchasing animal-sourced products because I wasn’t too fond of the alternatives at the time. I did often consider my purchases and weigh decisions more heavily if what I was purchasing had come from an animal. At this point in my life, that is too far of a mental disconnect for my mind to make, and there are so many alternatives to products I would previously have considered purchasing that it’s a very easy decision.

This last month has been very full. I didn’t pick up my camera the entire time, which is the longest stretch I’ve gone in years. It felt like it was finally time to share some of what’s been on my mind…

By the way, there’s another reason I picked up my camera today. I wanted a photo documentation of some of the changes that I’ve noticed, such as… my complexion. The photo at the top of this post is me – without any makeup. Of course, if you know me, you know I rarely wear makeup anyway… but I often add a tiny bit if I know I’m going to be photographed. I’ve been harassed my entire life about how pale I am, but people who know me, care about me, and strangers. It seems everyone has an opinion and they’re never shy to share it! Well you know what? I’m less pale now! About two weeks after making the switch to a Vegan diet, I did a double take one day as I passed a mirror. I’m not as pale anymore! No, it’s not like I look tan or anything, I just look… healthier! I had heard that could happen, but I didn’t believe it. So there ‘ya go. A #nofilter view of me 🙂

Best Dinner Ever. Seriously.

Sometimes dinner is pretty darn good, and sometimes it’s “knocked it out of the park, hit a home run, 5-star meal good”. In other words, our dinner tonight was the best meal I’ve had in ages.
Black Bean and Yam SaladI’m not the cook in our house, but I’m usually around when the cooking is happening, so I can comment about meals and say if it was quick and easy, or, not-so-quick but definitely worth it. You know, I creatively interpret the chef’s grumbles into workable explanations.

Tonight however, Dave made dinner while I napped on the couch. Yes, I admit to it. Frodo curled up with me and I fell asleep, and napped while Dave slaved away in the kitchen. I do know this recipe took quite awhile to make, but oh. My. It. Was. Amazing.

Pictured above is a Black Bean & Yam Salad That is to Die For. Only you won’t die, because it’s very good for you. Dave followed the recipe from this site and only made minor adjustments to our taste. For example, he substituted the cilantro and used parsley instead. Also, he used half quinoa and half wild rice instead of all quinoa. Really pretty minor adjustments.

For the “taco-style seasoning” he used:

  • 1 tsp Smoked Paprika
  • 3/4 tsp Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Chipotle Chile Powder
  • 1/8th tsp Black Pepper
  • 3/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 to 1/2 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Onion Powder

The magical forces worked in my favor, and while I slept… Dave not only made dinner, he noted the adjustments he made to the recipe so we have them for the future (thank you Dave!). A miracle occurred here tonight!

And, we have tons and tons and tons of left overs. Tons. We are going to eat well this week!

What Do We Say to Death?

If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones (the books or the show), you know the answer to this.

That’s right. Not today.

A few days ago I was in the mood to watch a documentary… so we ended up watching Fed Up via Netflix. It was quite the eye opener. Due to a lot of dietary restrictions, we already avoid processed foods so this didn’t turn into an immediate call-to-action in our home, but it was still quite enlightening and I recommend the video to anyone who is interested in making healthy food choices.

Last night I was in the mood for another documentary, and this time, we went with Forks Over Knives. Oh. My. Oh. No. What did I just unleash on my family? Knowledge is power, and the knowledge about healthy eating has been out (and heavily studied) for more than thirty years. The documentary is excellent, and was earth-shattering for us. Earth. Shattering.

If you have Netflix, definitely give these two documentaries a go… they are very well worth watching. And if you do not have Netflix, here is a related video freely available to watch on YouTube: Uprooting the Leading Causes of Death – presented by Michael Greger, MD. This presentation is an hour long, but it is a must-watch. If nothing else, give it a chance for the first ten minutes and see what you think.

In relation to these documentaries, I am now reading The China Study which is referenced often during Forks Over Knives. If you’d like to check this out, it’s available to read via Scribd (click here for a free 2 month trial).

Have you seen Forks Over Knives or read The China StudyWhat do you think about the information you learned?

The Right Way to Eat Kale (Recipe)

There is a right way to eat Kale, and a wrong way.

To clarify, this is the wrong way. Raw. Boring. Bitter.
Eating Kale

You can sometimes hide Kale in a smoothie, but you’ve got to be careful about how you do it. Less is more. For the record, I can barely tolerate Kale when eating it the wrong way. However, there is a right way to eat Kale, and when done properly, is fantastic!

Here is the right way to eat Kale. You make Kale Chips!Kale Chips

Ingredients:

  • Some Kale
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Grapeseed Oil
  • 1.5 Tablespoons Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Chili Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Dried Red Onion
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Fine Grain Sea Salt
  • Pinch of Kelp (optional)

Mixing Kale

Directions:

  1. Preheat the Oven to 300 degrees
  2. Wash and Dry the Kale
  3. Tear the Kale into large pieces and place in bowl
  4. Place all the seasonings in a bowl, and mix
  5. Sprinkle the seasonings over the Kale and mix thoroughly
  6. Line a baking pan with parchment paper
  7. Spread out the Kale
  8. Bake for about 20-25 minutes

If you have any leftovers, simply store them in a lidded container. But you probably won’t have any left…

Eat and enjoy!

How to Make Homemade Chocolate (& Why You Should)

Taste TesterDon’t worry, this isn’t a lecture, I promise.

If you reach for chocolate for the energy boost, chocolate from the vending machine won’t quite cut it. You know you’ll get a short boost, followed by a sugar crash, but what else can you do?

You can make chocolate at home ahead of time (it will taste wonderful), and it will give you a much better energy boost! Also, to be clear, homemade chocolate is REALLY easy to make. Anyone can make it, since no cooking is required! It takes about 5 minutes to make this chocolate, and then just needs to chill in the fridge. I don’t think it gets any easier than that!

Oh how I wish I knew about Medium-Chain Triglycerides in the early days of fighting Gastroparesis, but I know NOW, and now I can tell you. MCTs are a great source of energy because they do not need to be digested in order to be absorbed, and utilized by your body. This means for those of you with digestive difficulties, MCTs are the best friend you will ever have. And where can you find MCTs you ask? In coconut oil! And you can easily hide coconut oil in CHOCOLATE. I told you this wasn’t a lecture. Chocolate is actually good for you, see?

There are several variations around the internet providing instructions on how to make homemade chocolate. This recipe is one we created after testing a lot of recipes. It’s the easiest one to make that (we think) provides the best results. And as far as taste-testing chocolate over and over… you’re welcome.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup natural organic cacao powder (we use Navitas brand)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1/4 cup pure raw honey
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • pinch of sea salt
  • OPTIONAL: ¼ cup shredded coconut or nuts

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix
  2. Place mixed chocolate in a container, cover, and refrigerate
  3. Enjoy your awesome chocolate (after it’s been in the fridge for a few hours)

It’s important to keep in mind, this chocolate will melt in your hands. Even though you can get fancy and use candy molds, that really creates pretty messy snacking. Coconut oil melts at 76 degrees, and your hands are warmer than that – just something to keep in mind. If you want to take it to work as a snack, a small plastic container with a lid (and a fork) may be your best bet.

By the way, did you notice? This recipe is Dairy-Free and Allergy-Friendly! 

Happy snacking!

The Secret to Making Cabbage (Recipe)

If you’ve struggled with how to cook cabbage, that’s because you haven’t found the right recipe yet!Dave Cooking

This recipe for Braised Red Cabbage with Bacon has become a staple in our house. Of course, we have a few ingredient substitutions…

Ingredients We Use:

  • 1 large head red cabbage
  • 1/2 pound of bacon (Organic smoked beef bacon with no sugar)
  • 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 4 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1/2 cup Bragg’s apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups of homemade beef bone broth

Using the ingredients above, then follow the instructions here. It smells fantastic while it’s cooking, so you’re going to want to have some the night you cook it, but it gets better when you reheat it in the oven, so be sure to save some for leftovers!Cabbage Cooking

Dave serves the cabbage with rice. However, he doesn’t just make rice, he makes yummy rice.

Here are the ingredients you need to make yummy rice:

  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 cup homemade beef bone broth
  • 1 and 1/4 cup water
  • Kelp granules (for iodine since we use salt without iodine)
  • Sea salt
  • Dried garlic
  • Dried red onion
  • 1-2 Tablespoons butter

And with that, dinner is done!Braised Red Cabbage with Bacon