Hello Again!

Hello again!

Sorry for the disappearing act!  I didn’t plan to take a 3 month hiatus. Sometimes life gets in the way *sigh* I have been continuously sharing my vegan adventures on Facebook and Instagram, though, so follow me on either/both to get your daily Veggie V fix! (Most of what I share on Instagram also gets shared on Twitter, if that’s more yo thang.)

But, I have some exciting things to share with you! I have recipes, blood test results (eating plant-based does a  body good!), an update on the current state of my diet and exercise routine, certificates I’m currently working towards – and all kinds of other awesome stuff! Let’s start with the certificates 🙂

A couple of months ago I went ahead and signed up for the Holistic Nutrition Consultant Certification offered through the American Fitness Professional and Associates! Yea! I’m working my way through the material, and I’m loving every minute of it! I’ve already learned some interesting information that I want to follow up on before I share. I love learning new things!

The cost of the certification is reasonable (especially compared to comparable certifications that take much, much longer to complete and cost nearly 10 times more) , and the timeline is pretty good. AFPA gives you up to six months to complete the work and take your final exam, but you can work through material much quicker. One of the books used in the program is Whole by T Collin Campbell, which I (and a lot of other people) had already read, so that part of the first assignment went quickly. There are a copious amount of videos to watch from Dr. Greger, but, again, I’d already watched quite a few of them on YouTube, so I was that much ahead there too. I’m currently working on finishing up the first assignment, or the learning phase, before moving onto the actual coaching part of the certification.  But the excitement doesn’t stop there!

I took on my first mentoring client last month. Woohoo!! I didn’t ask if I could share their name, so for now, we’ll just call them Client #1 😉 Client #1 is newly plant-based and is looking for guidance through the sea of information out there about eating healthy plant foods and hopefully losing some weight in the process. I’m excited to share my experiences and the knowledge I’ve gained on my own and through my formal training. (Remember the Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition I completed last summer? No? That’s probably because I never got around to reviewing it. Ha! That’s coming in a future post!) This week, Client #1 is coming over for a cooking lesson. What’s the on menu? Nori rolls! I’ve gotten pretty good at making avocado and other veggie rolls, and now I get to share 🙂 Win win!

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Speaking of nori rolls, I’ve got a new, favorite kitchen gadget…a rice cooker! I bought the Armoa Digital Rice Cooker and Food Steamer (8 cup) from Amazon for about $30, and it works great! I was a skeptic, but it cooks the rice perfectly every. single. time. Amazing. If you’re considering a rice cooker, I highly recommend it. I’ve always had trouble with the rice sticking to the pan or being undercooked, but no more!

Thanks for waiting for me to return to blogging! I really appreciate all of your support! And to show it, I have a little give-a-way to do this week. Stay tuned!

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2012: A Year in Review

Well, here we are, about to celebrate the end of 2012 and welcome the beginning of 2013. Can you believe it? 2013?!  Wow.

Before we usher in the new year, I want to take a minute to reflect on what a fun ride 2012 has been. Here are some highlights (and low lights?!) from the past year.

January:  I started the year with a desire to move toward a more natural, less toxic lifestyle, and I did it! This year, I successfully replaced all of my health and beauty care items to vegan and toxic goodies. It took a bit of trial and error, but I’m in a good place with all of my products. (Why did I search so long for a face wash?! Dr. Bronner’s really IS magic!)

March: I finally had my gallbladder surgery at the beginning of March; this was a decision I did not take lightly. I consulted many physicians and two surgeons, consented to numerous tests, and after considering family history, personal history, and future issues, the best decision for me was removal.  While I am concerned with scar tissue, overall, I’ve been happy with my decision. Plus, I can eat a bit more fat than before without feeling like I’m going to die. Bonus!

May: In May, I made the leap into the world of raw veganism. I had been flirting with it for years, but I finally made the decision to give it real effort this month. I even managed an 80-10-10 style diet while on vacation over the July 4th weekend. Fast-forward to December, and I’m still high-raw, but I’ve added some cooked foods (mostly veggies) back into my diet. I’ll have a future post on this soon, but I found I was under-eating, and instead of losing weight, I gained about 5 pounds over the eight or so months of being high raw. ( At first I thought my caloric intake was too high, even through spot checking calories here and there, but after tracking for the past few weeks, I realize I’ve probably been inadvertently starving myself. Oops!)

I also did my first public presentation about the wonders of a vegan diet in May. I cooked a full meal(choice of two hardy soups, choice of two hardy salads, and tons of desserts) for the 50 or so ppl in attendance and presented about two hours of information. The event was well-received, and my quickly assembled cook-book CD’s were all purchased, which set the wheels in motion for Veggie V, LLC. (I’m currently in the processes of incorporating, so I can get some product out in the public!)

June and July: Both months took me away from home for a few days on road trips. In June, I went to Chicago for the Self Work-Out in the park with my friend Ellen – a fellow vegan. Even though our trip was cut short, we got to sample a couple of vegan restaurants in Chi-town 🙂 We may be going back later in January for a Dr. Fuhrman immersion. I’ll keep you posted! In July, Mr M and I went back to a state park we visited last summer, Salt Fork, located in the south-eastern part of Ohio. It’s beautiful there! But, the weather was so freakin’ hot, we didn’t get to enjoy much of the outdoors this time (actual temps of over 100F every day!). Luckily, I planned to eat a high carb, low fat diet the four days we were gone, so I packed lots and lots of fresh fruit and veggies and had plenty to eat while we were holed up in our hotel room. Thank goodness for the mini-fridge!

August: I started a new job at the end of August, teaching at the university where I received my undergraduate degree. Adding the extra classes and driving to my schedule was tricky, but well worth it! I love working there 🙂 The students seem to like me, and I’m teaching there again next semester. Woohoo!

October: Mr M and I went on another road trip at the beginning of October. I wanted to visit the school where I may complete my PhD, so we drove  the 8 plus hours to Philadelphia. The people were nice, answered all of my questions, and the campus was beautiful. Bonus –  Whole Food’s stores everywhere! Seriously, there are five within a few miles of campus in every direction. We also went into the city one day and visited as many of the sites as we could on foot. (We kept missing the bus tours!) After Phili, we drove up to Pittsburgh with stops along the way at the Yuengling factor and Hershey’s Chocolate World. I didn’t sample any of the beer or candy, but it was fun to see both places 🙂

November: I did my second public presentation on the joys of plant-based eating. This time, I spoke informally to a plant-based diet group on campus. I got myself involved with the group after reading about them on a campus-wide email. I hope to remain active with the group this coming semester as well. (Some of the people will continue with the program, but it will mostly be new people.)

In November, we also bought a new car! This is the first new car I’ve ever purchased, and I got to choose all of the options, the color, everything! After a lot of research and a lot of test drives, we went with the Subaru Outback. And, I love it! The gas mileage is SO much better than my previous vehicle, and it has tons of awesome features.

December: This month, Mr M and I have been spending some quality time together. I have time off between semesters, and he had a bunch of vacation time left-over, so we’ve been relaxing at home a lot. I’m going to be sad when Mr M goes back to work on the second; I like having him around – even if he is snoring on the couch and junking up the recycling with empty beer bottles 😉

This year, I also continued working out regularly, but I incorporated a few more down days. In the past couple of years, I have only taken off a couple of days all year, but this year, I averaged about one day off a month. Honestly, I feel guilty when I don’t work out, but my daily life is pretty sedentary, so I really need that movement to not feel like a total slug. Since we joined a gym (a first for me!), I’ve found a new enthusiasm for the treadmill, and I love using the different weight machines. I’m still a bit intimidated to try them all, but along with my free-weight training at home (I’m still increasing my weight – woohoo!), I’m still getting in quite a few heavy weights workouts a week.

Well, there it is: 2012 in a nutshell. I have some fun things to share with you in early 2013, so stay tuned for that!

Happy New Year, everyone! Thank you for another great year. I really appreciate all of your support, and I’m continually excited to share my vegan adventure with each and every one of you!

HappyNewYear

[Photo Source]

Oh, How the Garden Growns

 

This year,  Mr. M and I planted a bit of a garden. Two years ago, we planted a few tomato plants and ate tomatoes until we couldn’t stand them anymore. Last year, we didn’t quite get around to planting anything, so this year we went all out.

We have a very small yard, as you can see. Mr. M uses an old fashioned push blade mower on the lawn and gets the whole thing done in about 10 minutes. Yes, it’s that small.  Luckily, though, we have a patch of grass in the middle of the courtyard that all of the houses in our tiny neighborhood share. But, since we’ve lived here, we’ve been responsible for the entire patch in front of our house (The guy across the court yard died last year, and the lady beside him died about three years ago.) So, this year, we turned the whole patch into a tiny garden patch.

We also took out a couple of sad bushes beside our house and opened up quite a bit of space.

The plants that went into the ground included tomatoes, zucchini and yellow squash, green and red peppers, and onions. We also planted countless rows of kale, spinach, chard, and lettuce.

Unfortunately, our summer here has been crazy hot and crazy dry. And while we do value our garden and freshly grown veggies, we also value saving water (and money!), and only watered the plants in desperation. (We would love to set up a rain collection system, but this house and property just don’t allow for it.) I’m sure if our plants had had more water and a bit cooler temps, the yield would have been a lot more than it was. But, that didn’t happen, and neither did our veggies.

In total, we harvested about 10 zucchini and yellow squash and about 10 Roma tomatoes. Most of our tomatoes got bottom rot (Mr. M’s research indicated lack of calcium in the soil and/or low water.), and our pepper plants were miniature, producing only three peppers – all of which rotted before maturing. And our greens, well, they’re sad. Just sad.

Nothing grew! No kale. No lettuce. No chard. No spinach. Nothing. Notta. A few tiny leaves popped up, and something ate them. Bummer.

I was supposed to plant herbs in pots and place them on the porch, but that never happened. I’m more of the eater, and Mr. M is more of the planter 😉

Maybe we’ll have better luck next year.

It’s my Blogiversary!

I can’t believe an entire year has gone by since my first blog post. An entire year!

Hey! It’s my Blogiversary!

I started this blog as a way to share the delicious vegan recipes I began creating in my tiny, little kitchen. Even though I was a vegetarian for 10 years before I dropped the eggs and dairy, I didn’t cook much until I started following a plant-based diet. At first, I relied on meat analogues and some frozen and packaged vegan goodies to get me through the week, but as the days have gone by, my diet has changed, and my reliance on kitchen helper foods has all but disappeared. At this point, unless I’m doing a little experimenting with my digestion (more on that coming soon), on any given day, I don’t consume anything from a package. (Unless you happen to find on that off day when I’ve had to resort to a prepackaged Lara bar because my freezer stash ran out, or I’m traveling and (a) got stuck somewhere or (b) got hungrier a lot quicker than expected.)

In the past year, I’ve created nearly 100 original recipes, sold 11 copies of my first eCookbook (all to friends and acquaintances, but…it’s a start!), presented the wonderful world of veganism to about 50 people – and fed them!, helped a friend transition from omnivore to herbivore, become a trusted source of food and nutrition information for my real-life friends and acquaintances, met a countless number of amazing bloggers and blog readers who have my sincere appreciation and admiration and make my days a little bit brights 😀 In past few months, I’ve had quite a few recipes featured on other, wonderful blogs, found my blogging ‘voice,’ engaged in stimulating conversations on Facebook and Twitter,  and been blessed with over 17,000 blog visitors. 17,000…I wouldn’t believe that number if I didn’t see for myself!

When I was thinking about what to write to celebrate my blogiversary, I was going to share with you how much my diet has changed and what I’ve discovered my myself , but once I started thinking about the past year and how much a part of my life this blog has become – and all of the people associated with it and the blogging community I’ve become a member of  (including readers who don’t blog!), it didn’t seem like the way to go. Not today. Today I want to (not so) simply say, “Thank you.” Thank you for reading. Thank you for like my recipes. Thank you for making my recipe. Thank you for being a part of my vegan adventure.

Cheers to another year!

Tropical Trail-Mix Cookies & My First Guest Post!!

Guess what…my first guest post is up over at Laura’s Gluten Free Pantry! Woohoo!! Check it out. Right now. And read about Tropical Trail-Mix Cookies. Go! Ha ha!

I’m having a rockin’ few days. First, yesterday was Virtual Vegan Potluck. If you haven’t check out the blog circle, please do so. The participating bloggers shared some seriously awesome recipes. There are some many of them I want to try, I need the next few weeks off just to cook! Coincidentally, I have the next three weeks off. Yes! I’m also rockin’ it today with my first guest post, and Tuesday is my first community presentation. It’s a Veggie V kinda week. Get on board, people. It’s a crazy, fun ride!

Celebrating Life

Today is the first day of spring, and I’m celebrating life. Not just my own, but those of my mom and grandma, too. Both had birthdays last week, and although both are not longer with me in body, they are always with me in spirit and memories. So, today, I’d like to share a few memories about my favorite ladies with you.

We never celebrated St. Patrick’s Day when I was a kid. I was in college before I heard of kegs and eggs or knew green beer existed (and no, I wasn’t sheltered – lol). We didn’t celebrate because (a) we aren’t Irish (not even a little bit), and (b) March 17 was my grandma’s birthday. She hated St. Patrick’s Day themed birthday items (much the same way I hate Halloween themed birthday items – and am not a big fan of the holiday, either). Sometimes, to be funny, my dad would get my grandma a St. Patrick’s Day card for her birthday and then laugh when she scoffed at it in discuss. Memories like that are fun, hu?

Not related to our anit-St. Patrick’s Day celebrations, but oddly so, my mom’s birthday was March 16. She would have been 67.

I say would because she passed away a couple of years ago. Even typing that brings tears to my eyes.

I think about her everyday. She influences everything I do.

My mom was my biggest cheerleader. She was my best friend. When I discovered (via a trip to the ER) that I was highly reactive to MSG, my mom became an obsessive label reader. When I decided to go vegetarian (although I’d already moved out of the house), she excitedly made meat-free dinners to lure me back home. (It worked!) So when she rather suddenly passed away (even though she suffered from a long-term illness), I was devastated. Time helps, but it really doesn’t heal all wounds.

With the passing of my mom, and, soon after, my step-dad, I was left with very little family. My remaining blood relatives could easily fit into a compact car, and I’m not close to my step-family (or my blood relatives, which I’d like to say is due to distance, but that’s doubtful). I think that’s why I constantly encourage Mr. M to stay in contact with his family.

I hope all of you enjoy a beautiful spring day celebrating life!

Memories of My Mom

I am my mother’s only child. She gave birth to me after a long and uncomfortable pregnancy that, in its self, came as quite a surprise. She reminded me, on frequent occasion, how she spent a month in the hospital before my birth, then labored for more than a day before I finally decided to make an appearance. I was a good baby though; I didn’t even cry when she fell asleep feeding me, and I slid off of her onto the floor;-)


For most of my childhood, it was just my mom and me. We spent all of our time together outside of my going to school. We talked and shared ideas and stories; we even shared a chair when we watched TV; although I wasn’t allowed to change the channel when her soaps were on. I tried often, when I thought she was sleeping, but as soon as the sounds of cartoons, Reading Rainbow or Laverne and Shirley came out of the TV, I heard the familiar, “Turn that back. I’m not asleep; I’m just resting my eyes.” Money was always tight and material things were scarcest as I was growing up, but my mom made sure I had an abundance of love and attention. We went to my grandparent’s house every day, even if it meant asking for a ride because we didn’t have a car. We ate dinner together every night as a family – me, my mom, my grandma, and my grandpa. I was always sad to leave their house, but she promised me we would come back again the next day, and we always did.


My mom indulged my childhood whims by driving me from ice cream stand to fast food place, so I could order a specific item from each. She convinced me one Christmas Eve that a man we saw walking down the street dressed in a Santa suit was the real thing. She let me buy a pair of high heeled sandals to wear to a Girl Scout function then laughed as I sunk into the mud when I tried to walk across the wet lawn. She got sick every time I went to the doctor because she was nervous for me. She cuddled with me and held my hand when she visited me daily at my grandparent’s after she married my step-dad and moved away for a brief time. She cried when I cried. She let me drive her car to school, encouraged my desire to be a professional student, and proudly attended my graduations. She delighted in my dreams, successes, and failures, offered advice that usually went unheeded, and calmed me down when I was upset. She made friends with my friends, listened to their sorrows and joys, babysat for their children,and became their surrogate parent.


My mother was a great person. She taught me to be compassionate and generous with my time. She taught me to be respectful of others and not to judge them, especially by outward appearances. She taught me that giving to others really is better than receiving. We talked everyday, multiple times. We said good night to each other almost every night. She was my best friend.

Vegan MOFO Day 21: Liebster Awards

Guess what…I my blog was nominated for a Liebster Award! Woohoo!!

What’s a Liebster Award, you ask? I’ll tell you.

The idea of the award is to bring attention to blogs with less than 200 followers. Here’s how it works:

  1. Show your thanks to those who gave you the award by linking back to them.
  2. Link to 5 of your top picks and let them
  3. know they’ve been nominated by leaving a comment on their blog.
  4. Post the award on your blog.
  5. Enjoy the love and support of some wonderful people on the interweb!

I was nominated for the Liebster (which means favorite, beloved, or dearest in German) by Robotic Whimsy. Thanks, Kimberly! You made my first MoFo experience extra special 🙂

Here are my 5 Liebster picks:

1. My Vegan Weight Loss Journey : I “met” Katy on the Weight Watchers’ messages boards a couple of years ago and have been following her blog/journey ever since.

2. Heathen Vegan : I found Jeni’s blog a few months ago, and there’s never a dull post 😉

3. Farmer’s Market Vegan : I subscribed to Ali’s blog a couple of months ago and look forward to her posts.

4. Vegan Machine  :  Kaycee goes above and beyond to share veganism with anyone who is interested.

5. Happy Vegan : Allysia always keeps it real.

Wow. That was harder than I thought. I’ve discovered so many great blogs lately that I want to give props to all them!

 

There’s only a few days left to get your MoFo on!

 

Welcome!

Welcome, and thank you for joining me on my continuing adventure through the world of veganism!

I’ve been debating about what to write for my very first post to my very first blog (yes, I’m a blogging virgin) for a long, long time. Should I wait for an inspired recipe? Should I review something? But what? A book? A movie? Someone else’s recipe? Or should I break the ice by writing something about my vegan adventure so far? I decided on the latter, so here goes!

Over fifty-five pounds and 15 months ago I decided I needed to make a change in my life. I was tired of waking up sick every day – plagued by sever stomach pains with no medical explanation. I was working six days a week, wasn’t working out, and was living on all the vegetarian junk food I could get my hands on. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I was a vegetarian who barely ate vegetables.

After reading a few blogs (wow, there are so many great ones out there!), I decided to take the leap to veganism. I was worried about my then-boyfriend’s (now husband!) reaction to my diet change. How would he react to even more dietary restrictions? Well, he was pretty quiet at first, but he soon got on board when I started feeling better and the pounds started melting away.

To make a long story short, I rediscovered my love of exercise, soon added running to my weekly routine (Me…a runner?! Yup!), and got serious about yoga and weight training. It’s been over a year, and I’m happy to say that my stomach issues are few and far between (gallstones are temperamental little boogers), my weight is normal for my height, and I regularly participate in 5k’s (I still can’t quite run the entire 3.2 miles, but I’m getting closer!).

So, please join me as I share my continued adventures through the wonderful word of all things vegan, try new recipes (and old favorites), and attempt to keep myself motivated to get out of bed and slip (struggle??) into some spandex (no giggling allowed!).

Grab your running shoes and your favorite smoothie, and let’s get this blog rolling!