Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Pomegranate Love

Can you believe this lunch of mine? It started as breakfast but as any mother would know that once I started to do something for myself then the kids then wanted, needed, ahhhhh help. So here it is 12:26 and I am finally sitting down for my breakfast that became lunch.
This is cantaloupe and a salad of kale, spinach, carrots and pomegranate seeds with a dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. I was so disappointed that I ran out tomatoes, my cucumber went mushy and my avocado went bad. I was planning to make an avocado dressing with lemon juice, oil and dill so I am slightly disappointed but my meal is amazing nonetheless.

A few days ago I made the trip to Fresh Market with the kids. There they had pomegranates on sale! Excitement! I have been wanting some for a while now. Here is a confession: I had never eaten pomegranate seeds in my life. I know, I know. I love pomegranate tea and drinks but never actually had the fruit. I have been watching the prices on them and it was just too ridiculous for me to spend so much money. So I waited. When I saw them at Fresh Market on sale, I scooped them up. When I brought them home and cracked them open, my family went mad. My daughter said they tasted like candy and ate almost all of them herself in one sitting. Thank goodness I had more. There are so any health benefits to pomegranates. Veggi-rific Living on Facebook just did an article about them. I will definitely be heading back to Fresh Market very soon to get some more.

My kids loved Fresh Market as well and have been asking to go back. I let them each pick something for themselves and they all decided on cantaloupe. I think my healthy eating may be having an effect on them. For instance, this morning my daughter had grapefruit, pomegranate seeds and cantaloupe for breakfast! My 3 year old that only eats cereal and other sugary carbs actually willingly ate a bite of cantaloupe before eating his cereal (yes, this is huge progress). My husband seems to be enjoying the foods around here as well but also has had more than the usual trips to KFC. As long as there is KFC original recipe chicken, my husband will never become a vegetarian. I'll settle for a healthier lifestyle.

All around, things are looking up and looking healthier. I am over 3 months in to my vegetarian life and still loving it. My 30 day goal was the best thing that I have ever done for myself. I want to strongly encourage everyone to just try it for 30 days, that's it! It isn't a long period of time and honestly easier than I thought it would be. Take just 30 days to change your life.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

I Found a Local Organic Cafe

Amazingly enough, I found an organic cafe in this dinky little city of mine. I had some time to spare without kids this past Friday and so I stopped by to check out the menu. I had no intention of eating there as I wasn't really hungry and I feel weird eating out in restaurants by myself. My best friend and I "do lunch" together often and so I was researching to see f I should come back with her sometime. When I walked in to Cafe Organic , I was immediately welcomed by warm, smiling faces. The staff asked if I have ever been there before and offered information and advice about the large menu and options available to me. They specialized in sandwiches, wraps, salads and smoothies. Honestly, the prices hurt a little bit but the options and ingredients looked so tantalizing that I could not walk out without trying something. I opted for a half wrap and a salad combo. I chose the Southwest wrap and a kale salad. The wrap was made of homemade black bean and chipotle hummus with avocado, carrots, cucumber, bell pepper sprouts and greens dressed with a chipotle lime cream. It was probably the best thing I have eaten in a LONG time. I have never been a fan of beans as the texture is chalky and weird but the taste of this wrap was to die for. The kale salad was made of local kale, mashed with ripe avocado and a lemon olive oil and sea salt dressing- topped with red bell pepper and Florida tomato. It proved to be a good compliment to the wrap and I do love kale but it could have used a squeeze of lemon or something to add a little tang. I asked the staff to pick a smoothie for me to try and that I was up for anything. They made me a carrot cake smoothie that was to DIE for! It was made with ginger, cinnamon, carrots, banana and almond milk. It tasted just like carrot cake in a cup. I will be going back again very soon!

It was so exciting for me to find this place. I felt so comfortable and had a great time chatting up other patrons. It is so nice to know that I am not as alone as I thought in this new diet/lifestyle of mine. I am really hoping to do some travelling and find many more places and try new things.

Thanks for stopping by! Have a fabulous day everyone.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Opting out of my favourite food

I have pasted the true test of my new diet. My favorite food is dolmades from a local Greek restaurant that my best friend and I visit often. Dolmades are rice and beef wrapped in grape leaves and then they top it with this amazing sauce. I have had dolmades other places but no one makes them as well as they do. I have been purposely avoiding this restaurant because I wasn't sure I would have the self-control but after my last final exam this semester, my best friend and I went there to celebrate. While driving there, I was contemplating eating dolmades because after all, there is no hard-set rule saying I CAN'T eat meat. Really, it is just a choice I made for myself. I will not burn in eternal damnation if a morsel of meat passes my lips. Still, when I sat down, I perused the menu and asked questions. We had our favorite waitress and so I told her I began a vegetarian diet and so she was a great help. I didn't want to tell her I was vegetarian and then forget everything I just said and order meat! This gave me the self-control to try something new. I ordered spanikopita (cheese and spinach in a flaky crust) and a Mediterranean salad and opted out of the egg on top. WOW! The salad was lettuce, feta, cheese, olives corn, dill and a little onion. They gave me a homemade dill salad dressing that was a perfect touch! I could barely finish it! This gave me hope that I can survive being a vegetarian even when I have always loved meat options.

My next step is to go to a Thai restaurant and maintain the vegetarian diet. I know that they would offer some great choices but I have always loved Thai beef salad and curry chicken over rice. This is a fun experience not settling for the same old thing and trying new, exciting options.
Thanks for stopping by. Have a fabulous day!

Friday, December 14, 2012

Going strong but with a few less teeth

You have my sincerest apologies for not updating as of late but I am afraid there isn't much new to share. I am still going strong with my vegetarian diet. I love how I feel and am thrilled to be learning so many new things. Next step? Vegan? Well, I have been researching that and it seems like so much more work then I can manage. Also, veganism really is a lifestyle when being a vegetarian is more like a diet. I don't think I am ready for a lifestyle change.
The only "news" I really have is that I had my wisdom teeth out after 12 years of terror and agony. It finally got to a point that I couldn't sleep or eat so I got up the nerve to have them out. Thankfully, it was a great experience and I have no regrets. I still have some pain when I chew and I have holes in my mouth that food gets stuck in. I bet you wanted to know THAT! So now chewing most vegetables hurts too much so I have been having a LOT of soups. This has been a challenge because I really know nothing about making soups. Some have turned out, some really haven't. I did a lot of ordering out but when reading ingredient lists, I found that many of them have chicken or beef broth hidden in them! How dare they! So, needless to say I have lost 4 lbs.
It is time for me to head back to work. My youngest will be going to school soon and it is difficult for a family of 5 to live on one income in this day-in-age. Unfortunately, there isn't much out there. I would love to find something I am passionate about (green living, socially minded), or something towards my degree/skills (business and sales) but there is just nothing out there. I have so much to learn before I will be able to get the job of my dreams.
For now thanks everyone for stopping by and thank you Veggi-rific for the Twitter mention. Have a wonderful night Internet world!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Better Quality of Life

In tabulating how much money I have been spending in the past month due to my new vegetarian diet, it doesn't look good. I have saved money when it comes to fast foods but realistically, fast food is relatively cheap. Instead, I am buying fresh fruits and vegetables regularily. I have chosen to buy a variety of different foods that I had never tried before and so my grocery bill has been a lot higher. This has been a challenge as we are a large family of 5 with only one income. I anticipate the grocery bill going down now that I have a better idea of what I like, what I can make and what is avaliable.

Eating out has become a bit of a challenge for me now. I have to boycot my favourite Greek restaraunt as I don't think I could stop myself from eating my favorite food (domaldes). Yesterday, we went to a local taco place and there was NOTHING vegetarian on the menu but chips and salsa. How incredibly disappointing! We have been regular customers of thers for years. In this restarunt, the customers are encouraged to paint and decorate the ceiling tiles and I painted one for my husband on our anniversary 4 years ago. It's still there and we still sit under that tile. I would really hate to have to lose another favourite place.

This challenge of eating better and being more concerned about what I eat has helped change other aspects of my life. I have always sporatically exercised on the elliptical at home but only at most once a week. Now, I workout every day and have even taken my kids out jogging together with me (which they loved and I am still walking like a penguin 2 days later).

Our society in North America is so sick. Stop and take a look around. Think about what we eat and how we live our lives. Now compare it to any other country. We don't exercise, we eat processed foods that isn't even food and then rely on magic pills to make our problems all better. It is just stupid! An American friend of mine recently moved to Mexico and is living in a small village in the mountains. While living here in the Uniter States, she was overweight, ate McDonalds chicken nuggets every other day, never walked more then across a parking lot. Now 6 months later she is at a healthy weight, her hair is shiny, her skin is glowing, she is happy and has never looked better. She is only able to eat locally grown and homemade meals. In just 6 months she is a whole new person! That is so powerful. It just takes a little effort for a lifetime of happiness free from excess weight, health problems and enjoy a better quality of life. I want that. I think I can do it. What is just a few months of effort for a lifetime of happiness?

Saturday, November 17, 2012

30 Day Review

I did not start this blog on the first day of my vegetarian diet. I started this a few weeks later when I had the time and a little experience in what to eat instead of meat. I officially began my vegetarian diet on October 16th so this means I made it through my goal of 30 days that I planned to stick to. Now it is time to review how my world, body and viewpoints have changed.

In the past month I have not seen any weight loss but I have never really had a problem with my weight so I wasn't expecting much of a change. I have lost inches and toned up but I have also been actively exercising. I have had less problems with fatigue but am finding my endurance while excercising has gone down temporarily and now going up again.

I am happy to say that I feel lighter. I am not bloated or uncomfortable now after my meals even when my stomach is full. I really enjoy this feeling. Truthfully, I feel younger and more able to just "get up and go" when I need to.

I have been keeping track of my calories. Before this month, my average intake was about 1500-2000 calories a day. Now, my caloric intake has been between 500 and never any more than 1300. Still, I have maintained the appropriate nutrients for my body such as protein and vitamins. I see no reason to eat meat for nutritional value as it really has none.

I am very proud of the choices I make with all foods now. A vegetarian diet can contain fried foods, processed sugars, white flours and so forth but as I have become more conscientious and aware of what I am putting in my body, I have been more aware and concerned about the quality of foods I eat as well. I choose whole wheat breads, no fried foods and make an effort to not include meals with processed sugars. My outlook on food has taken on a life of its own, beyond not just eating meat. Previously, I didn’t think twice about running to McDonalds or Sonic and grabbing a burger, fries, sodas and a side of mozzarella sticks or something. Now I feel the need to know where my food is coming from, how it is made and how it can help or hurt my body as well as hurt the ecological world.

I have not changed my children's diets. I allow them to eat the same foods as before. I cook the same foods that they enjoy. Still, I have a large variety of fruits and vegetables in my house now and they are interested. For their afterschool snacks, they used to come home and beg for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, cookies or chips. Now they beg for cucumber slices, kale chips, green apples or berries. Dinner time, they ask for salads along with their meals and eat more of that than the main course. My 3 year old son is a horrible eater and enjoys mainly french fries, oatmeal and scrambled eggs. I am so proud to see him be willing to try new things and enjoy them. He now likes nuts and hummus even! Also, my husband has gained a few pounds since we have been married (11 years this past September) and my food choices have been giving him an added incentive to find new and nutritious foods to eat. He is on the road a lot and so finding healthy foods on the go has been a challenge but I am proud to see the choices he is making.

The new foods I have been discovering have been the biggest thrill to me. I get so excited when I can buy and make something I have never had before. This past month, I have tried fennel, kale, forelle pears, leeks, dandelion leaves, Greek yogurt, quinoa and I have fallen head over heels for Tofurky Italian Sausage. It is so exciting to find new recipes and try new combinations of foods that make such new and unique flavors. I have always hated cooking because it is too tedious to spend hours preparing meals that are quickly consumed and forgotten as if there is nothing to show for all the hard work. Now, I have been spending most of my time in the kitchen inventing different combinations of new and exciting tastes and textures.

I have done a lot of research into animal welfare and what they go through and have done to them while being bred to be consumed and I am disgusted. Now I look at chicken meat in the supermarket and want to cry or throw up. It is not even how they are treated but the hormones and chemicals that they are injected with. I am terrified to put those things on my body now!

I am very surprised that this change has not been difficult. I was afraid that my stomach would constantly be rumbling and that I wouldn't have any choices. I live in a very meat-dominated area. We are right along the Gulf of Mexico so fresh fish is a staple. We are in the South, in an area that glorifies football and tailgating. Also, we are in the same city as 2 air force bases and so there are many carnivorous "manly men" everywhere and so must supermarkets and the like tailor to this type of clientele. Thankfully Publix has been a beacon of light with some incredible, unique vegetarian products.

Currently, I am studying business in college with no clue as to what field I would see myself in one day after graduation. Last semester did a project in LEED design (Green construction) and now that I am being more aware of the environmental world around me with this experiment of mine, I have started contemplating going into a "green" field of study. It is a fast growing career field today and it does interest me. I still have a long way to go before graduation but it is comforting to have an idea of where I can see myself in the future.

I currently have no desire to go back to eating meat. I do enjoy how I feel and have no guilt as to what is going into my body. I do miss my dolmades from my favorite restaurant (beef and rice wrapped in grape leaves). I have always loved boneless chicken wings with buffalo sauce dunked in blue cheese dressing and I will be mourning the loss of that too. However, I feel losing just 2 things from my diet also equates to adding countless new and exciting healthy choices. I have no regrets.

Next step, veganism for a month? Possibly. Not yet. I am happy with who I am, what is in my body and how I view the world. Thank you very much for coming to my blog and joining me on this journey. I will be continuing it to showcase what I am learning so feel free to stop by anytime.

Have a wonderful and healthy day.
New type of pears. Cute but too squishy
I put the leftover quinoa in a pita with leeks, spinach, celery and tomatos with some lemon juice. Was good but was missing something... haven't figured out what yet....
In the South, we eat a lot of collard greens but I only knew how how cook them with ham and grease. I attempted to make them with sunflower seeds instead and it was GROSS! Later, I found a recipe to make them with garlic and onion and they were the best greens I have ever had in my life! I will be making this again ASAP!

Thursday, November 15, 2012


I have no words for this documentary I found. Ellen mentioned it in an interview as to why she is a vegan and so I went looking for it. I lasted about 15 minutes into it and had to take a break. Viewers beware! Click here to watch The Earthlings.

Thank you.