Vegan Resources

First, a notice  – I am not putting any graphic images in this post. However, some of the videos and sites I am linking to will most likely contain graphic material. You’ve been warned! 

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So, I’ve had some friends (and strangers!) express curiosity about Veganism. Some, have even gone so far as to ask me for more information and some good starting points on learning why people go Vegan and how to start themselves.  I have a few things that come to mind that helped me and I thought I would compile them here, so that when people ask me, I can just plop them down at this post and let them wander from there!

First, some lectures. I found these lectures to be such a perfect starting point. Not overly graphic or sentimental…  Just great facts and reasoning by well-spoken people.

Now, if you want a serious jumpstart into veganism… the following documentaries will do it. However, I feel like these are the videos you should watch regardless of your diet. I think if you choose to eat meat, you should at least know where it comes from. What slaughterhouse practices look like, and what affect meat has on your health. I believe that knowing these things can help you to either avoid eating these things if that is your intention – OR to help you appreciate these things as you decide to eat them.  It’s just knowledge… and its good to have – for both sides.

I have personally seen and enjoyed appreciated the following documentaries -

Earthlings : EARTHLINGS is an award-winning documentary film about the suffering of animals for food, fashion, pets, entertainment and medical research. Considered the most persuasive documentary ever made, EARTHLINGS is nicknamed “the Vegan maker” for its sensitive footage shot at animal shelters, pet stores, puppy mills, factory farms, slaughterhouses, the leather and fur trades, sporting events, circuses and research labs. (synopsis via the website)

Vegucated : Part sociological experiment and part adventure comedy, Vegucated follows three meat- and cheese-loving New Yorkers who agree to adopt a vegan diet for six weeks. Lured by tales of weight lost and health regained, they begin to uncover the hidden sides of animal agriculture that make them wonder whether solutions offered in films like Food, Inc. go far enough. This entertaining documentary showcases the rapid and at times comedic evolution of three people who discover they can change the world one bite at a time. (synopsis via the website)

Forks Over Knives : The feature film Forks Over Knives examines the profound claim that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting animal-based and processed foods. (synopsis via the website)

If you’ve got a short attention span (ahem, ME), then YouTube channels are the BEST place to go. There are hundreds of Vegan channels. From daily vloggers to activists, food & cooking shows to comedy and musical channels. I mean, everything you could want.  Just type “vegan” into the search and BOOM. Occupied for weeks.

If you’re short on time but full on sass : BiteSizeVeganIf you’re wanting to get your gourmet on in the kitchen : Jason Wrobel
If you’re wanting to get your gourmet on in the kitchen, but the zombie apocalypse is happening : Vegan Zombie
If you’re really into learning about plant-based nutrition/facts : NutritionFacts.org

I mean, I could seriously go on for hours typing up a list. If you’re ever looking for more YouTube recommendations – ask me!

There’s also some fantastic websites with FAQ’s, recipes, lifestyle tips, etc.
http://www.vegsource.com/
http://www.veganhealth.org/
http://ohsheglows.com/
http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/
Here’s a list of the top 50 Vegan Blogs!

So there you have it… a little something to get you started.
I apologize for getting all Vegan on you there, but… this was requested and you know I give the people what the people want! ;-)

Camping!

You know what?  I love camping.

Man, I really do love camping.

I love the views, the sounds, the eats!, and oh.. the smells!  Clean dewy mountain air is an incredible smell.  The water there tastes like liquid heaven – and I hate water!

I love hiking, and I love the prospect of seeing wild animals.

I love the incredible amount of work it takes to camp. Cooking a meal and cleaning up after is quite an ordeal. And before you can even do that you must get your firewood and fetch your water. It’s exhausting work, and for some reason that makes it all the better.

There’s no internet up there. There’s no text messages or checking my work emails “for just a second”

There’s just friends, conversation, good food, a lot of dirt, and lots of work! The combination is perfect.

Anyway! I had a great time camping, so let me show you some pictures!

First, I did some prep work. We like to rough it in many aspects when camping – but food is not one of them!  Before leaving, I made a garlic spaghetti sauce, an asian sesame marinade, and some herb & garlic potato foil packets to just toss on the fire.

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We bought all the rest of our meats & veggies fresh in the town center nearby the campground. This made it way easier to pack and travel, because we could fill the cooler with STUFF, instead of ice and food. So we got to the site, unloaded everything, then took the empty cooler down to the store and loaded up!

The boys (Drew & Adam) arrived just after us. So they set up their tent while we headed down to the store, and to get our firewood.

Our site was as beautiful as when we left it last year.

One small change was that someone found an old railroad tie in the woods and brought it up to the site to be used as a step up to the cabin. What a relief! My knees were pretty rough by the end of last year because that insanely high step. Though many toes were stubbed in the dark… it was still a great improvement.

We quickly got to work cooking and eating. Because, well, that’s what its all about!

Camping as a vegan is definitely NOT difficult. I ate like a king! Oh my goodness, the veggies cooked over an outdoor flame.. it’s just magical.
I ate a lot of asparagus, mushrooms, onions, zucchini, potatoes, summer squash…

The mushrooms though. I can’t even talk about them without tearing up. They were soooo effin good.

I had bought these Hobo Pie makers – essentially clamshell cast iron pans on a stick… You fill them with whatever you want, sweet or savory – you close up the pans and stick them over the fire (like roasting a marshmallow!)
We used them for desserts, mostly. My genius idea was to buy cinnamon bun dough and fill it with pie filling. Yup.
MAGIC.

For me, I found some crescent roll dough that was vegan. I filled it with low-sugar apple pie filling that I found at Whole Foods.

Yup. It was indeed as good as it looks!

We did a few trips and hikes.

Mount Greylock. Which boasts just the most unbelievable views from the mountain top.


*husbands*

We may have also vogued a little bit.

Tannery Falls.

The Natural Bridge.


(keep off the damn what?)

And we ate some more.


Best breakfast EVER. We made breakfast burritos. Mine was scrambled tofu, veggie sausage, roasted potatoes and onions.

I also, in between foods and hikes,  had to weigh in for my DietBet competitions!
Which, I ACED, by the way! More on that in a later post!

On our last night, it went from this :

To this :

It rained like a mo fo. It took us an insanely long time to pack up, because the downpour was serious!
Driving down from the mountain, we were inside one very dense cloud.

But the lower we got the clearer it was. The rain, of course, ruined nothing for us. I always expect it to rain and we got lucky that it was only on the last day.
The days were cool but sunny and the nights were COLD. But again, there’s something weird about camping… that makes the uncomfortable parts part of the fun.

I was about to apologize for not taking more photos. We had such good food every day. We had a pineapple massacre (damn you, Raccoon!). We saw so many shooting stars (you can also see the milky way from there!). We had many chipmunk and squirrel friends (outside AND inside the cabin!). We saw beautiful scenery and had wonderful adventures. Some things you just can’t capture on a camera.

Dear FFF

Dear Funny Fat Friend,

You’re the self-deprecating, joke-cracking one. You’re the “Funny Fat Friend”, that’s how you fit in. That’s your schtick and you think it works. I want to tell you the truth here. . . it doesn’t work.
No one thinks its funny when you put yourself down. No one thinks its funny when you call yourself insulting names. Sure, people laugh with you, but would you truly like to know why? It’s because they are uncomfortable. They laugh because they want you to feel good about the horrible thing you just said. They want to believe that you don’t mean it. Like it’s just a joke.
But you did. And it’s not.

The truth is that people love you in spite of your self directed insults, not because of them.

I can’t sit here and preach to you about how you ought to love yourself. That would be hypocritical of me. I don’t love being fat either. But you do have to at least treat yourself as well as you would a stranger. You would never meet someone on the street and call them those names that you call yourself. So I suggest you don’t do that to yourself. There’s a beautiful song lyric that goes – “I’m sorry to myself for treating me worse than I would anybody else.” Which means, next time you go to say something terrible about yourself… look at those lovely people around you and ask yourself – would I say that about that person? would they think that was funny?

There are funnier jokes than fat ones. And there are jokes that don’t involve insult in the punchline. And imagine this… there are even times when there needs to be no joke at all. You’re even great when you’re not funny at all.

That’s the beauty of this whole thing.

No group of friends needs a token Funny Fat Friend. What they need is a you.

Be kinder to yourself,

Love,

SweatyGirl

Weekend : The Motivation Murderer

You’re on point all week, right? Got your food all planned and prepped. You’re drinking your water at your desk. You’ve got your workouts scheduled. Smooth sailing!

Then, hey now… it’s FRIDAY! Whatcha got planned? Whatcha got prepped?

Oh, nothing?

That’s right… nothing.

I wanna wing it, I tell myself. I want the freedom to enjoy my weekend. Go out to lunch if I wanna. Make a special meal at home if I wanna. Have a junky frozen pizza if I wanna.
As it turns out.. I WANNA.

I WANNA ALL OF IT.

But why? Why do I want to?? I don’t feel so restricted during the week that I go wild come Friday. I don’t have a “cheat day” or anything like that.  So I’m not sure why I feel the desire to slip during the weekends. But I’ll tell you something… they really set me back.

I joined a DietBet, 2 of them, actually! And the goal is 10lbs in 28 days.
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My initial weigh in for the DietBet, I look so suspicious!

I’m now 8 days in.  On Saturday morning, I was already down 7lbs!!! But, the weekend arrived. And with it came some vegan mac’n'cheese, some french fries from a restaurant, and the discovery of limeade oreos!
Mind you, I stayed in my calorie target while eating these things. But I didn’t need to eat them.
Last week I kept my fats very low and I lost weight and felt really good.  I ate these fatty foods and I felt gassy and crappy, and this morning I’m right back up 3 of those 7lbs.

If it doesn’t feel nice… why do I do it?
I guess that’s the age old question, isn’t it?

I think, in my head, I imagine that 2 days of relaxing/splurging could never undo 5 days of being awesome. But the sad truth is – it can.  It really can. Maybe not in terms of actual fat gain, or losing health… but mentally… it’s a slippery slope for sure. My disappointment this morning at seeing those few pounds that I’d lost just go away… I don’t want to feel that. If I knew that I ate clean and felt great, I wouldn’t even blink at being up a few pounds. I’d say, ah well, I know I was good so it’ll come back down!
But instead I knew that I slipped this weekend. The gain was justified, and therefore – so is my regret.

Finding a balance between letting myself feel “free” and keeping my weight loss on track is imperative.
I want to enjoy my food and my weekend… but I also want to lose some freakin’ weight.

Do you struggle with the weekends? Why are they so seductive?!

Jess’ Vegan Questions!

Thanks Jess, for asking some more Vegan questions! I shall answer them!

1. Any other thoughts you can share about the benefits of going vegan, beyond the environmental and ethical implications?

I’m gonna say that aside from ethical and environmental benefits – we’re left with health benefits. And those are VAST. I think I linked to this list of 57 health benefits in the last post. Which I think says a lot.  But the largest for me personally are – maintaining healthy cholesterol, blood pressure, excess fat, and inflammation. I want to prevent ever having diabetes, heart disease, or high blood pressure. And I really think that eating a plant-based diet will do that. Veganism will not help with the EDS (aside from hopefully keeping weight down and joint inflammation to a minimum). But my Mom has MS, and while it’s not hereditary, my chances of having it are much higher. Some research has suggested that a plant based diet can help with preventing and “treating” MS and its symptoms, as well.

How does your body feel? Hair and skin?

This one is hard for me to answer right now. Because I’m still so new to this way of eating… so I truly hope my answer changes over time.
But currently -
How does my body feel? 
Well, I haven’t lost any weight. Which, to be honest, I had hoped to. I’m still tweaking my Vegan diet to hopefully find a sweet spot that allows my body to release some fat stores. But, it hasn’t happened yet. Aside from that, I’ve had some good upticks in a few areas.
1. Digestion. I never considered myself to be someone with a touchy digestion. I would get some angry bowels at the sight of dairy. Especially ice cream, excess butter, milk, or super cheesy things. And if I ate a big steak dinner or something… there’d be some rumbles in the jungles. But I kinda thought that was normal. Anyway, nowadays, poopin’ is a breeze I tell you.  After the first 2 weeks or so, I never had gas or painful bloating from things I ate. I never had what I call “angry pewps” or anything like that. Just easy, breezy bathroom trips.  Healthy digestion is a HUGE indicator of your health. Thinks going awry in your downbelows can really muck up the rest of your body!

I also find that I recover faster.  If I blew my knee or shoulder out at the gym, it used to be nearly a week of pills and ice to get it usable again.  Now, it’s better when I wake up the next day.

I take my arthritis meds less. Which makes me feel really good, because I don’t feel nicely on them. They make me drowsy and woozy and blech. Not to mention what they must be doing to my stomach lining.

I have had less issues with my tonsils. I’ve only had tonsillitis once since becoming vegan. I normally would have it at least once every month and a half or so.

Hair and skin?

Also, kind of hard for me to answer, cause I feel like I still need more time.  I’ve never found anything to help my skin. Its just as bad as before, actually, perhaps a little worse.  I don’t know the cause of it, but the skin is an elimination organ… so I am trying to trust that eventually, I will be finished eliminating the “bad stuff” from within, and not putting more in.  My hair, however, is thriving!  It has finally started to grow, after being stunted for 2 years! It is longer, and fuller, and definitely healthier.  I think this is due to both the vegan diet and the more holistic hair care products.

And any economic advantages or disadvantages besides veggies as a whole being cheaper than meats?

First of all, let me be very honest about this. I don’t budget for groceries.  Joel and I budget all other aspects of our spending but we do not follow a budget on groceries.  I don’t know how much I spend now, versus how much I spent before going vegan.

That being said…

I think that there’s many levels of monetary spending on ANY type of eating. You can eat a very expensive omnivore diet, or a very cheap one. You can eat a very expensive vegan diet, or a very cheap one.

Nothing is cheaper than rice and pasta. Both of which are vegan. A cheap block of cheese and a 5lb bag of potatoes are about the same price. But, a pound of cherries and a pack of 2 steaks are also about the same price! I honestly feel like its negligible.  I actually wanted to find a good, thorough, NON-BIASED article about the cost difference of Vegan vs. Omni, but to be honest, I couldn’t find one. People like to bring in the idea of the OTHER costs of eating meat & dairy – like the cost of healthcare and quality of life. To me, those factor in. But a strictly dollar-to-dollar comparison seems hard to come by. I, personally, don’t think I am spending any more or less right now… but since I still purchase meats and dairy for Joel and Bry, I can’t truly compare receipts.

Most Vegans also care about organic fruits & veggies. Which, obviously, cost even more. So that’s another factor. I buy organic and local when possible, but I’d say it’s less than 50% of my produce. In the summer, much higher, because our local farmstand are brimming with tasty organic veggies. In the winter, though, it’s a sad state of affairs, and I just buy whatever is available.

Ok, I realize that I am rambling now, and possibly not even answered the question the way you had hoped. My short answer would be – eating vegan can be VERY cheap. A bag of rice and a case of cans of beans and you’re set.
And if you start to factor in the health, environmental, and ethical points as well, it becomes a much bigger discussion of  “cost”.

I also just now realized that you asked about economic advantages OTHER than the cost of veggies vs. meat. Duh. I see the word economics, and I just assume you meant the cost for an individual/family.  Here’s a good article about the larger economical implications.

Here’s a tiny taste of the most common type of argument :

“Farmed animals are fed more than 70 percent of the grains grown in the U.S. It takes 4.5 pounds of grain to make 1 pound of chicken meat and 7.3 pounds of grain to produce 1 pound of pork. Approximately 700 calories worth of feed are needed to produce just one 100-calorie piece of beef. It is more efficient and economical to eat grains and soybeans—and all the foods that can be made from them—directly rather then feeding them to farmed animals so that we can eat those animals. Around 1.4 billion people could be fed with the grain and soybeans fed to U.S. cattle alone.” (read more)

Soooo yeah… still not sure I answered Jess’ question, but I sure tried. And I like rambling so… there you have it!

The Vegan Q&A

Despite the crickets on the blog here, I’ve still been getting quite a few questions about being Vegan on Instagram, Twitter, and in everyday life! One day, I won’t be so lazy and I will film a video (because talking is always easier than typing!)  but for today… let the typing commence!

Here’s some of the recent questions I’ve gotten, and my answers.  Please leave your own answers, thoughts, or questions!

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1. What made you decide to go Vegan?
Good question, because I’m not sure I have an answer. It actually came upon me rather quickly… yet the triggers seemed to be a slow trickle into a puddle of Ah-Ha.  In the span of a couple weeks, I’d watched Gary Yourofsky’s speech (here if you’d like it), watched Earthlings (website here, the movie is graphic, I cannot speak for the trailer), learned about The China Study (here), and watched countless accounts on YouTube of people turning their bad health around by eliminating meat & dairy.  Again, I’m not sure what even turned me toward learning about these things. But once I started I could not stop. And once I was hooked, I also realized I could not do nothing about it.

On the ethical side, I think it took a very simple realization. If you were to ask me to describe myself, one of the very top describers would be that I love animals. And to make the connection that I love animals with all of my heart… yet I consume them… just didn’t make sense to me.

2. Are you an ethical Vegan, or a health-minded Vegan?
Firstly, the difference – being an “ethical Vegan” refers mainly to animal and environmental welfare, and being Vegan “for your health” means you eat a plant-based diet to cure or prevent disease, lose weight, and just “be healthy”.  I definitely feel like both. No one would believe me if I said that losing weight was no part of my decision to go Vegan.  I want to be healthy, and no matter how you slice it, 100lbs of extra fat will never be considered healthy.

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Some health benefits of eating a Vegan diet .

3. What’s the hardest part of going/being Vegan?
This has two answers -
In general : The hardest part, I think, for the majority of people when they first go Vegan is handling the curiosity (and negativity!) of other people. No one questions you about your nutritional intake if you’re eating pizza and cheeseburgers, but if you say you’re Vegan, they’d like to know where your protein comes from.  It’s very strange.  But I honestly think it always comes from a curious place. I like to think that people aren’t pooping on your parade because they want to be cruel. I think they are just curious and oftentimes defensive because the way you eat is questioning the way they eat. Food is a very personal thing, and I think it should be respected as such – on both sides!

Personally : The most difficult aspect for me is not looking the part.  Vegans should be an example. A shining beacon of health and attractiveness! Yet I am obese, and afflicted with disease. Not exactly a the shiny beacon.  I don’t want to tell people that I’m Vegan because they will look at me and think – well, clearly it’s not healthy!  It makes me want to wear a “I’m New Here” sign or something.

4. But really… do you get enough protein?
Yes, absolutely! I promise. And I barely have to try.

veggie-protein

5. What’s your favorite meal/go-to dish?
I eat a pretty large variety of food, just like I did before I went Vegan. I can’t say I have a favorite meal… I love everything too much!  But some super easy go-to meals for me would be : falafel & veggie wraps, pasta dishes, pizza or flatbreads, salads, roasted potatoes, tofu scrambles, veggie/grain burgers, curries, rice and beans, burritos, fruit salad, grilled or roasted veggie mixes, stirfry, sushi, and asian style noodle dishes.

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6. What about parties? restaurants? events?!
These are surprisingly easy to navigate. For parties – I simply bring a vegan dish with me to share. (people love my salsa or guacamole, or fruit salad!) For events, like weddings or work functions – I ask what the food situation is ahead of time. If there’s something suitable for me (all the weddings I have been to have even offered a vegan option without me asking), then I just go and enjoy. If I don’t feel like there is, I’m perfectly pleased with eating before I go. Very simple.
As for restaurants – also easy pease. I have yet to go somewhere with ZERO vegan options. Even Five Guys has something for me. Sure, there are places with more/better options. But there is always an option I am happy with, no matter where I go!

7. Don’t you own a leather couch? and leather seats in your car?!
Yes, and yes. I bought them before I decided to go Vegan. They were very large purchases and they were made jointly with Joel. They are most certainly not items that I will just get rid of quickly – like I did with my leather purses.  I like to think that most people could understand that.  As devout as some people are, I do not believe that Veganism is Perfectionism.  It’s about doing the best you can. Making the best decisions for your health, the animals, and the environment… while realizing that we can never be perfect… and striving for that can only lead to insanity!

8. What about Joel?
Joel has no desire to ever even consider Veganism for himself. I do not push the subject, nor will I.  They say that you vote with your dollar… so my household tends to vote $5 toward veggies, $1 toward animal products.  (Joel doesn’t actually eat a lot of meat, so we buy very little already). Do I feel guilty about buying and preparing meat for him? Yes, I do. But the truth is… we have a really great relationship. And while I believe it can withstand any lifestyle change I wish to make for myself… it’s also built on a history of roles and traditions. He’s a dude, and one of the many reasons he loves me is that I am a sort of caregiver to him, and he likes my cooking! At this point, I don’t feel comfortable taking that away from our relationship. But who knows how it will shift in the future.

9. Are you going to try and convert me?
No, no I won’t. Being Vegan for me, is a very personal decision.  Yes, I absolutely wish everyone would go Vegan, so that we’re no longer killing animals and so everyone can enjoy optimal health.  But it is none of my business who agrees with me on that and who doesn’t.
Would I jump at the chance to help someone with questions about Veganism? Absolutely!! But I won’t be preaching to you, judging you, or holding my nose when we’re out to dinner together.

10. Are you going to be Vegan for the rest of your life?
I hope so.

11. Can you eat this, that, and the other thing?
People have asked me everything under the sun. Can I eat avocados? Can I eat lettuce? Can I eat fish? It really shows me how desensitized we are to our diets… that people truly don’t seem to know what is an animal product and what is not. And that’s not a diss, its true. And a little scary.
The ones I get commonly asked about :

Fish? Nope. It was a sentient being, slaughtered for consumption.

Honey?  Nope. Its an animal by-product. I, like many Vegans avoid honey in general, but to be honest, if its in something that is otherwise Vegan, I feel less bad about eating it than I do with other things. I’ve seen/read the good and the bad about bee-keeping. And its still a little fuzzy to me.

Eggs? Nope. Similar to the honey, it’s a by-product of an animal, so it’s a no. I do feel like I would consider eating eggs that result from a hobby/pet farm and not an egg “factory” but I’ve yet to be in that situation.

Candy/Marshmallows/Jello?  Things with gelatin, nope.  Gelatin is derived from the skin, bones, and connective tissue of cows, chicken, pigs, and fish.

Cheese/Milk/Yogurt? Nope.  A Vegetarian typically eats those things, but a Vegan does not. However, they do have Vegan versions of all of those things!

Natural Flavors? This is a hard one. When things list “natural flavors” as an ingredient, you have no idea what is included. Animal products ARE considered a natural flavor or coloring. So, a red food dye could come from beets or a completely synthetic source.. or it could come from beetles. You just don’t know!

balanced-vegan-dietbeing-a-vegan--the-correct-choice-foodnculture-1vggcxiu

12. What other dietary restrictions do you employ?
I try to eat relatively low fat, and lower salt (as in, lower than I have been! :-) )
I’ve recently drastically lowered the amount of oils and fats that I am consuming. When you first discover vegan butters and mayos, its tempting to use them often. So I had to cut back on things like cooking with olive or coconut oil, nut butters, avocados, salad dressings, etc.

So, I there you have it!  Of course, if you have any questions too, let me know!

 

Roasted Garlic Bliss Pizza (Vegan)

This is not so much of a recipe… as an “idea”  for pizza toppings.  Though, if you treat it like a recipe and make this exact pizza – believe me – you will NOT regret it!

Hands down, best homemade pizza I’ve ever made.

What’s interesting, is that this pizza is half cheating, half way-too-much-work. So it kind of evens out into a doable meal.

Crust : store bought crust.  I bought, specifically – Portland Pie Company brand Garlic Pizza Dough. But any dough would work, of course!

Sauce : In lieu of sauce, I used a jarred artichoke bruschetta topping. I believe any tapenade-type thing would do.

Toppings : Here’s where it gets awesome.

Red Bliss Potatoes : sliced thin and pre-cooked. I steamed mine in the microwave, quick and easy. But you can bake or sauté them until soft or even slightly crisped. Lay them out all over covering the sauce as you would with cheese.

• Roasted garlic cloves : Again, I cheated here, I bought pre-shucked garlic cloves which saved a boatload of time. To roast them, simply toss all the gloves and a drizzle of olive oil into some tinfoil, wrap it up and toss it in the oven for 45 min to an hour. (you can also do them in a pan on the stovetop)

• Caramelized onions : This is the hard work part. Making them is not hard, but waiting for them to be made is very, very hard!  If you haven’t caramelized onions before, I recommend using this method.
If you did not want to go through this, I honestly think that some sweet sweated onions would be just delicious as well.

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just starting to brown

• Fresh rosemary : Some needles of fresh rosemary add a real brightness to the heavy feeling of the roasted garlic and onions.

• Salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes

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Toss everything on top of the potatoes in no particular order. Bake your pizza to your desired crispness, let sit for 3-5 minutes, and proceed to shovel that bad boy into your mouth.

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The taste of these toppings together, and even just the look of the finished pizza are sure to impress anyone.  If you don’t want to scare anyone at your pizza party, you can sprinkle on a handful of romano cheese so that you don’t have to call it Vegan… but I am not kidding when I say that it doesn’t need it. It is rich and decadent tasting. Salty, sweet, spicy. Hearty but summery at the same time.

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Other topping ideas -
• White beans
• Kalamata olives• Cherry or peppadew peppers
• Fresh summer corn
• Asparagus
• Roasted brussels sprouts
• The possibilities are endless!

Just make it, ok? And invite me over!

Summertime

Wow, it’s summer time.

I’d love to say that I’m here with a fabulous recipe or some fun news to share… but alas, this is me we’re talking about it!  All I can offer you is a random photo dump from my phone…
So if you’re interested in what I’ve been eating and doing lately, here you’ll have it!

EATING.
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Melon.

Berries.

Curry.

Giant pickle.

More melon. And figs, figs, figs!

Mo’ melons.

Errr… more melon, and more figs.

DOING.

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Gots my hair did.




Made a bunch of cards. Sooo many more to come this month!
Weddings, birthdays, and holidays galore!

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Taking care of this guy. His hip is bad. Real bad. He’s got lots of new painkillers and pills to take now, so I’m hoping something helps. In the meantime.. he’s very sad and cuddly.

Look how close they are together!

Love that silly bastard.

Growing stuff!! Look! ‘maters all up on there. I’ve been using my lettuce, basil, thai basil, and cilantro so far. It’s so satisfying!

So, that’s it for my photodump.

I had a really nice Father’s Day with my Dad… went to a lovely Jack & Jill BBQ for a friend whose wedding is this weekend.  I’ve got a weekend trip planned for Joel’s Bday, another wedding, many more birthdays, and then camping! YAY. I seriously can’t wait for camping.

It’s a super busy summer, but it’s all good stuff!

I’m still getting lots of good questions about being/becoming Vegan, so I’ll be doing another post soon about it.. now that I’m nearing a year of doing it! So if anybody has any questions you’d like me to answer, feel free to leave them below and I’ll be sure to incorporate them in! (feel free to insert the *ugh, not more vegan stuff* groan here. I don’t mind)

 

{Not} Believing I Can Do It.

I watched a girl walked across a parking lot.
I watched her walk in her skinny jeans on her skinny legs. Her body moved quickly and with ease, as if no air was displaced by her. It seems to me that thin people aren’t affected by gravity. Perhaps those high heels are weighted to just to keep her tiny frame on the earth. Her body makes no sound. No zipzipzip of her denim thighs against each other. No heavy thumping of her feet pounding the ground. No whisper of heavy breathing, cracking joints, or sighs of discomfort.
Just a silent sweeping motion of graceful lightness.

I must have wondered a million things in that short 30 seconds of watching her.

Does she feel the weight of her body when she moves?
Is she aware of her arms and her stomach and her thighs in every step she takes?
Do her bones creak under the pressure of the few pounds she does weigh?

Does she feel my eyes on her? Does she always feel eyes on her?
Is she still sucking-it-in to look even smaller?
Does she feel for lumps and bumps through her shirt to assess her size constantly?
How did she feel buying those skinny jeans in such a skinny size?
Can she dance and rollerskate and do cartwheels in open fields?
Is life so easy because she’s small?

These, I believe, are the kinds of thoughts that keep me overweight.

It is often said that you can only accomplish something if you believe that it is possible. Despite twenty-something years of desperate daydreaming… I cannot say I’ve ever believed that I could actually get there. In addition to that, is the 100% false and quite-honestly – offensive notion that “skinny people” have no problems.
I have many average weight, underweight and fit friends.  They still dislike their bodies, they still have chronic illnesses, they have insecurities and they have trouble shopping for clothes that fit.  They have all the problems that I feel like I have as an overweight person. And believe me… I know that. I do not take anyone’s problems lightly, no matter their body size.
But in this silly head of mine lies the everlasting idea of how freakin’ perfect life would be… were I skinny. How light on my feet! (as if my joint-diseases would disappear?) How beautiful and attractive I’d be! (as if my face and skin and hair would magically change?) How athletic and graceful I’d become! (as if losing fat just did that automatically?) How many glorious, fabulous clothes would fill my closet! (as if my body would morph into perfect proportions once thinner!?)

When you lose weight… there’s physiological changes that occur in the body and fat stores are reduced. That’s all that happens. That’s it.

There’s no magic there.

Losing weight won’t make me that mythological skinny creature that I’ve created in my head. It won’t make me the girl with bikini abs that lives on my Pinterest board.
It will just make me ME. But physically smaller.

And when I put it on a base level like that… maybe it does sound like something achievable, doesn’t it? I don’t need to believe that I can get to the “ideal”. I just need to believe that I can become smaller. I can lose fat. That’s it.
I need to stop thinking that I’ll never achieve my goals, because… well, whats the point in having them, then!? Right?

Right.

That girl may have had it going on… but I have determination, drive, support, and optimism. And you can’t fit all that into skinny jeans!

 

 

Exercise Roulette!

My bro and I were trying to think of a little exercise challenge to do. It made me think about how good it is to spread out some activity throughout the day. Sometimes I do what I call “peelates” (pronounced : pee – lah-tees) which is just doing some stretches every time I get up to go to the bathroom. (we have a spacious bathroom here at work!) It really loosens up the muscles and gives you a little break from the stiffness of sitting at the desk.

What else could we do here and there, throughout the day to help our muscles be strong and engaged?

So, I made two buckets. One with bodyweight exercises in it. Simple movements that you can do nearly anywhere. Some examples – squats, lunges, situps, arm circles, single leg deadlift (no weight), pushups, etc.  The other bucket had numbers of reps.  So each morning, you pull one paper from each bucket and you’ve got your assignment!

You can just add it to your regular workout… but ideally, you do a few here and there throughout the day.  You go to the bathroom? Do 10 squats (pull your pants up first, please!). Waiting for the copier? Do 10 squats! Go out to your car for lunch? Do 10 more squats!  They add up, and they feel great, but you never have to feel like you’re settling in for a long, sweaty workout (mind you, you should get one of those in as well!) but its just…. easier. Less pressure, and provides a little jolt of energy when you need it!

I’ve got a few people in the office joining in as well! I feel like it won’t be too out of the ordinary soon to see people doing lunges down the hallway!

If you’d like to do it on your own (or better yet, in your office or family!) you can download this PDF:  exerciseroulette

Just print it out and cut on the dotted lines.  Fold the papers in halves or threes and drop them  in two buckets!  If you don’t know an exercise, just do a quick search on youtube, a short video will pop right up!