One YEAR Vegan-niversary!!!

Wow – I know I haven’t posted in, like, forever….but I couldn’t let today go by without acknowledging the decision I made one year ago today!!! It hasn’t been a completely perfect or easy road – but I don’t for a second regret the decision I made. I’ve been a pretty lazy vegan lately…eating processed foods and even turning the other cheek and eating some foods that I suspect *know* have some dairy or egg hidden in them. 

I’ve also recently learned that I have low levels of vitamin B12, despite having tried to eat vegan foods fortified with this important nutrient (i.e., fortified almond milk and nutritional yeast). As a result of the B12 deficiency, I’ve had a couple of rough months with low energy, dizziness, nausea, etc. But, I had my third weekly injection this morning and am feeling MUCH better.

So much better, in fact, that I’m planning to reset my system very soon with a few weeks of completely clean eating. And, I’m excited. So, while I haven’t been posting anything about anything…those of you who care can look forward to some new posts with updates on what amazing vegan foods I’m eating and how I’m feeling. Those of you who don’t care…well, I promise you won’t hurt my feelings if you click away… ūüôā

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A bond that lasts forever

Last week at school, Emma and her classmates had the opportunity to write stories on a topic of their choice using the school’s computers. Today, she brought this home. (There is some punctuation missing, but she still did a super job.)


Never underestimate the potential depth of a relationship between the very young and the very old. Emma was more deeply affected by Nanny’s death than any of us could have imagined. Clearly when an 8-year-old asks for nothing for her birthday but a locket with her Old Nanny’s photograph in it, it indicates a bond that will last forever. Emma remembers what she was doing on the day Nanny died and, even now, all these months later, thinks about it enough that she wrote a story about it in school and drew pictures to illustrate our grief. She is a special girl. Which shouldn’t surprise anyone given she was related to Dot.

Happy Birthday, Doodledoo Bopper!


Well, today marks another special birthday in our family! This girl, child number 4/5, celebrates turning 8 years old!?! Words cannot express the emotion this little pixie can evoke in the span of a moment. She makes me feel fiercely proud, exasperated, exhausted, inspired, grateful, guilty, hopeful and scared out of my mind on a daily basis. She is, quite honestly, the most animated, exuberant, enthusiastic, dramatic human being I know. She’s still 8 going on 18 and some days she has the mood swings to prove it. But, mostly, she cracks me up with her wit, moves me with her sensitivity and inspires me to be the best me I can be. Happy birthday, Doodledoo Bopper! I love you to infinity and beyond!!!

Today is a good day.

Hey everyone.
I know today was a scary day here in Prince Edward Island, and emotions were running high. There was confusion, and information in the media was conflicting and hard to understand. It was frustrating. I get it.
But, can I please politely point out that our kids are safe? What happened today was unprecedented…and hopefully this is the only time, ever, that all schools in our little province will have to be evacuated due to a potential security threat.
Can we please remember to be grateful to those who care for our children and to those who are forced to make difficult decisions under immense pressure. I honestly think it is safe to say that EVERYONE tried to do their very best for our kids today.
I’m sure there were many lessons learned on the part of the schools, the Department of Education, the law enforcement agencies, et al. But, they did their best. I’m sure of it.
My kids were safe. Yes, I heard on the radio and in the news that they would be bussed home/to¬†their early closure location¬†from their safe location,¬†and then they weren’t and I had to go get them. And, yes, I was worried that they would be scared and confused. But, they were safe and cared for and having fun in the sun when I got there to collect them.
I choose to be extremely grateful that they were safe and cared for, and I will say a huge thank you to everyone who had a part in putting their safety first. Miss Jolena? Miss Lori? Thank you.
Yes,¬†I¬†know there was confusion and¬†many parents and children had some moments of fear and uncertainty. They didn’t know where to go or what to do. But, the kids¬†were safe.
Let’s¬†(pretty please?) remember that in some parts of the world bombs are actually going off. And, innocent children (and men and women) are actually¬†dying.
We are so lucky. Our children are SO lucky.
Yes, it’s all relative, and life is not perfect for any of us. But, instead of reacting to today’s series of events (from a coordination of evacuation perspective) with rage, blame, anger, and disdain and instead of¬†contributing to rants about how much better we could have done if we were in charge, can we just stop and acknowledge that, today, all is right in our world. PEOPLE: The news could have been that a school (or schools) blew up.
So, please, turn off Facebook for a few minutes, take a deep breath, hug your loved ones and think about how lucky we are that the headlines were not tragic.
Respectfully,
One grateful and relieved mom from Prince Edward Island.
Feel free to share the positivity if you agree!

Goodbye “Old” Nanny

Eleven years ago, I had the privilege of meeting an amazing woman. She was 84 years young and a going concern. The first day I met her it was clear that she loved to chat, she loved to bake and she was kind, sincere, hard working and generous. 

I don’t think she had an easy life, but I knew right away that she was a giver. She was always concerned with the wellbeing of everyone around her – her family, her friends, her neighbours and anyone who was fortunate enough to be welcomed into her home for a biscuit or a piece of homemade gumdrop cake.

I have so much to thank her for.

Thank you, Nanny, for giving birth to the woman who gave birth to the love of my life. Thank you for helping to raise him and care for him when your son-in-law died tragically young, leaving your daughter a widow with a baby daughter and a young son. Because of you, my family grew. I gave you two more great grand children (and three step great grand children) but, thanks to you, I got a wonderful nanny, a mother-in-law, a sister-in-law, two nephews and a niece…and all the other extended family that came along with those new family members.

But, Nanny, thank you most of all for the gifts and lessons you gave to Emma and William. They loved you. They loved to visit with you and give you hugs and make you cards and chat your ear off. (Non stop!) On our last visit, William even did a dance for you. It was never a chore for them to spend time with you. If anything, they knew better than anyone how important it was to see you and visit with you as often as possible. My only regret is that we didn’t visit you more.

Today, you helped to teach them another incredibly valuable lesson: If we are lucky enough to live 95 good years, death is not scary. Death is not bad. Death is but a welcome part of a good life. It’s what gives us freedom from the chains of our bodies when our bodies grow tired and worn. I am so grateful that they had this time with you. I know that they will always remember the love they had for you. They are so blessed to have the good fortune to learn about death, for the first time, from you – someone they loved who lived a fulfilling 95 years, instead of someone they loved who died too soon.

They have so many questions about where you are now, physically and spiritually, and it’s hard and emotional and exhausting to answer them all. But it’s also interesting and fun and rewarding to answer them all. I’m so grateful that their first encounter with death is this one. Your death makes sense in so many ways. Crazy ways. Ways that would make even the most skeptical believe that there are bigger powers at work making sure that all is at is should be. 

We have cried together in memory of, you, Nanny, and we have acknowledged how lucky all of us are to have known you, to have loved you and to have been loved by you. 

Emma wants you to know that, one day, she will tell her own children that her “old nanny” died when she was seven years old and that she was very lucky to have you for so long.

I want to thank you for today, for this weekend, for letting me say goodbye to you in the most intimate of ways. To have been included as part of your small family when you took your last breaths was a gift I will always treasure.

Rest in Peace, Nanny. We will remember you always.

I’m Still Here (and Vegan)! What I’ve been up to and 9 ways Veganism has had an impact on my life.

Wow…

I just checked the calendar: I have been eating a vegan/plant-based diet for seven weeks and two days. My last post was a month ago, but I have been going strong. Life just got busy. We were camping for a month which made regular posting a challenge. Then a family member had medical problems and we were away from home for another stretch. And, since then, my evenings after work have been used to recover from/prepare for our weekend camping trips.

But, let me give you a little update on what I’ve been making, how things have been going, and the differences I notice in my life since making the change.

This right here is marinated, baked tofu. I got the recipe from a Thug Kitchen Cookbook that was lent to me by a co-worker (which I still need to return *gulp*). It is amazing and tastes kinda like turkey bacon. I LOVE discovering new vegan foods that replace some of the traditional foods that I actually miss. (Although, I don’t miss very many meat or animal products.)


A while ago, I made some squares/bars that were a lot like larabars. I forget where I got the recipe now…either over at Oh She Glows or Minimalist Baker. (Trust me when I say, you can never go wrong with recipes from either of those kitchen goddesses. Anyway….I learned a valuable lesson with this recipe: medjool dates need to be PITTED. I fished these suckers out of my food processor. (My poor food processor is having a rough few weeks….and is soon to be retired.)


Then, I played Russian roulette with these bars all week….because 36 pits went in but only 28 came out. Fortunately, no one was harmed while eating the treats. But, we did find all the missing bullets:)


I made this pasta salad to take camping this past weekend – it was so yummy! The recipe was from a cookbook I bough at Indigo, Nom Yourself. Great recipes but a lot of them are not what I would consider healthy.


Definitely, one of my most favourite things that I’ve made since my last post was this vegan “pulled pork”. I got the recipe from Minimalist Baker and…oh…my…goodness, you guys. You have to try this. For realz.


Anyway, here’s what I can tell you about the impact that becoming vegan has had on my life in the last 7 weeks and two days:

  1. I feel better. Physically, mentally, emotionally. I seriously feel happier and healthier than I have in my entire life. I feel like my mind is clear, and I am 100 percent confident that this was the right decision. For me. I am equally confident that I will never look back.
  2. I have NOT lost weight. Nor have I tried to lose weight. I wanted to see if weight would come off naturally just by not eating any animal products, but it hasn’t. I am ok with that. If and when I want to lose weight, I know what to do. (Stop eating vegan junk food like Oreos, potato chips and pop to start. This is a goal for Summer’s end.)
  3. I have maintained my weight. I weigh exactly what I weighed at the start of this journey. And, I have not counted a single calorie since very early on. I have not spent hours weighing and measuring food and inputting data. This makes me happy.
  4. I have not worked out. (Gasp!!) Life has been extra busy y’all. And, I decided that, at least in the beginning, I wanted to focus on learning as much as possible about eliminating animal products and getting all the nutrients I need while eating only plant-based food. So, I decided I would not feel guilty about taking a fitness hiatus. Come the beginning of September, I will get back into my early-morning workout routine.
  5. People have a LOT of questions when you tell them you are vegan. I try very hard not to judge or feel judged by questions, especially when they are asked in a respectful and curious way. I answer to the best of my ability but I am far from an expert. The main question I get asked is, “why vegan?”. My answer is always some variation of,  “My 19-year-old daughter made the switch, I did some research, watched some documentaries and felt compelled to try it. Now, I truly believe that eating animals (and animal products) is not necessary. I believe I am contributing to better personal health and a better world by eating a plant-based diet. And, most importantly, eating this way makes me happy.”
  6. Some people think it’s a weird lifestyle. They don’t necessarily say they think it’s weird. But, you can see it on their faces when you tell them. Or, you can hear it in their voices when they ask you a random question.
  7. Some people think it’s fascinating. They are intrigued, inspired and/or motivated when I tell them about my journey so far. This, in turn, motivates and inspires me to keep talking about it, taking pictures of my food, and writing about it here.
  8. At least 75 percent of people I tell respond with some form of, “I could never be vegan. I love [meat/dairy/cheese/whatever] too much.” I’m not sure how to respond to this. I’m not a judg-y vegan. I don’t care if you eat and love meat/dairy/cheese and want to eat it for the rest of your life. You can sit beside me with your hunk of steak and I’ll be just fine. It’s the “I could never…” statements that irk me. (I could never workout in the morning, I hate mornings. I could never workout at lunch, I hate being sweaty. I could never…insert thing someone doesn’t want to do.) People, can we just acknowledge you could if you wanted to/needed to/were inspired to. I’m not saying you should (because I despise the word should, that’s another post) but you definitely could. So, if we could refrain from saying I could never…I’d be eternally grateful. (end rant)
  9. Most of the time being vegan is ridiculously easy. Except when it’s not. It’s not easy when the unexpected happens, like unexpected travel. It’s not easy when you don’t/can’t find time to do a little planning and/or grocery shopping. But, even when it’s not easy, it’s totally possible if you’re willing to be a little creative. Example: while spending time in an out-of-province hospital while a family member was there having and recovering from heart surgery, I had to have breakfast in the hospital cafeteria. Sadly, despite boasting only “healthy” items there were very few vegan options for breakfast. So…I ordered a veggie and cheese omelette. Yes, you read that correctly. I ordered a veggie and cheese omelette – hold the cheese, hold the eggs. It took the chef a good 10 minutes to decide if he was allowed to do that…but in the end, he fried me up the veggies and slapped them on a plate for me. (I was grateful!) The point is: where there’s a will, there’s a way.

I’m still working on becoming as educated as I can be about this lifestyle. I’m still working on finding vegan meal and snack ideas that my kids won’t turn their noses up at. Sometimes they love what I cook and sometimes they don’t. My eight-year-old daughter considers herself a strict vegan…….until someone offers her ice cream or cheese…and then all bets are off. I’m ok with that. My five-year-old son does not want to be vegan. He goes back and forth between wanting to be an “everything-a-tarian” and a “normal person” whatever that is. They know I choose to be vegan because I’m not comfortable eating animals and/or what belongs to animals and because I believe eating this way is a path to good health. They respect that and know that (within reasonable limits) they are free to make their own choices about what goes into their bodies. 

Frankly, some adults could take a page out of their books. ūüôā

Three-Week Vegan-niversary!?! Vegan Chilli, Amazeballs Blizzards, Almond Butter and Veggie Burgers

Easy-Peazy Lemon Squeezy. This vegan thing is totally not so tough. I mean, frankly, you can choose not to eat animals or animal products and still eat quite a lot of crap. Like Oreos and Fudgeos. But I don’t recommend that approach. Being a healthy eating vegan is much more rewarding. Admittedly, I did struggle a little more this third week, for a few reasons:

1. We moved into our camper (luckily just minutes away from home at our local campground). I don’t have my big, well-equipped kitchen at my finger tips. I’m torn between spending time at the campground and spending time at the house making cool vegan food. Luckily, the weather’s been crap, so when I’ve had time, I’ve chosen the house and cool vegan food.

2. I spent all day Thursday on a road trip out of the province with my youngest son for a medical appointment. I didn’t prepare. I found myself in Tim Horton’s parking lot googling vegan choices. (Thank goodness I found some.) I ate subway and basically prayed that my bread choice was vegan…but I was so hungry I didn’t have the heart to ask or google. (I wanted that bread, dammit.)

3. My husband has been very busy this weekend which has meant I’ve been on kid duty more than I normally would be (instead of my usual cooking/cleaning while he does kid duty)…so I’ve been struggling to get stuff done with very small windows of time. I think I did ok though. What do you think?

Here’s a summary of the weekend:

Saturday 

10:00 am – 11:15 am: I took the little Littles to their baseball practice and helped coach.

12:00 – 1:00 pm: Dropped William off at his hip hop class while Emma and I raced to the other side of town. We got kale and a basil plant at our local farmer’s market. Then we went to bulk barn and got some supplies before racing back to hip hop to pick William up.

1:00 – 2:00 pm: Took both Emma and William to a locally owned restaurant called The Thoughtful Squash. I got a veggie burger with no bun (the bun wasn’t vegan) and yummy root chips. MMMMMMMmmmmmmmmm, so good.

2:00 – 3:00 pm: Dropped Emma off at hip hop while William and I raced to the grocery store to get groceries. Then raced back down town to pick Emma up.

3:30 – Dropped the kids off to the campground (with Jeff) and went to the house to do some cooking.

First, I made One-Pot Lentil Chili. So amazing. The Minimalist Baker website is one of my favorite places to hangout on the Internet these days. I doubled the recipe so that I would always have some homemade vegan grub to eat this week. What’s not gone by Wednesday I will freeze.


Then, I made these things that I like to call amaze balls. These guys are definitely delicious all on their very own.


But…I actually made them to be enjoyed as part of an ice-creamy treat. Vegan, of course. Guys. For realz. Amaze-ball blizzards are so, well…amazeballs. My oldest daughter, Brenna, and I gobbled these up like nobody’s business.


I had a hundred other things that I wanted to make….but it was late and I was tired. So I called it a night and headed back to the camper to spend some time with the little Littles.

Which brings us to today. The three-week vegan-niversary. Before I could get at the cooking, I had to take Emma to her jazz class. Of course, after we dropped her off, William and I raced to the top of town to get some MORE groceries…MUCH to his dismay. I assured him we were only going to get six things. (There were only six things on my list.) But, he counted the items as we put them on the counter to pay…and there were 24 things in our cart…fortunately he had so much fun counting, he forgot to be mad.

After we finished with groceries, we raced back downtown to pick up Emma, and then I dropped them both back off at the camper with Daddy so I could go home and fly around the kitchen like a mad woman. Brenna can attest to the mad woman part, I’m sure. I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted to, but I did get this double batch of almond butter made. (Let me tell you….I had to say some prayers for my food processor. I wasn’t sure she could handle the double batch, but she came through for me magically. A true heroine.


I also made these bad boy veggie burgers. Part way through putting them together I realized I had forgotten to get more chili powder at the grocery store all 17 times I was there this weekend, but Brenna saved the day. (Having children who drive has its perks.)


This was my first time making this recipe and I’m super glad to report the burgers tasted like awesomeness in all its glory. My husband even said he could eat these all summer instead of beef burgers. That’s my definition of success. It’s a good thing they turned out…because I doubled this recipe, too. Mommy’s so gonna eat well this week. Phewph!

Emma was really disappointed that I didn’t make the crispy rice treats I made for Canada Day Weekend, so they’re on deck for tomorrow evening after work/supper/getting the kids to ball. Then, Tuesday, the sun is supposed to be shining…so I might take a day off of cooking. Luckily, I’m well stocked!

The highlight of my three-week vegan-niversary was the Facebook message I received from a friend who has inspired (and challenged!) me to live healthy for as long as I’ve known her. She told me that I’ve inspired her to try eating vegan. Like, how cool is that??? I’m sure there are many who are kinda tired of seeing pictures of what I’m eating on the Internet. (They can feel free to look the other way!) But, knowing that someone I have looked up to for years was inspired enough by my posts to give eating vegan a try??? Totally worth the hour and a half I’ve spent trying to upload these pictures using the campground’s wifi. That’s a total win!!

Oh…I did make another blizzard as a bedtime snack tonight. Actually, it was more of a frosty. My food processor is at the house so I had to use my blender. And, to get my blender to work with frozen anything, I’ve gotta add liquid. So I added the new love of my life, Silk Chocolate Soy Milk, 1.5 frozen bananas, and a heaping tablespoon of my almond butter to the blender and blended until it was the consistency of a thick milkshake. Then I added one crushed amazeball and blended just a little. I dumped it in a bowl and crumbled another amazeball on top. The result was pure friggin’ bliss y’all.


Anyway, what did everyone else do this weekend???