Thursday, March 31, 2011

Warm Hearty Soup

Another busy day today! I can't believe how much running around I have to do on my days off work. I'm not sure if it's because I work 13 hours when I do work, so I have to cram everything into my days off, or if it's because I'm really disorganized (I tend to think the latter is not true). Whatever the case, we had to set our alarm to get up at 10 am this morning (and it was hard to get up at that time because now that we are on night shift schedule, we didn't get to sleep until nearly 6 am). There are some things you can do while laying awake at night with insomnia, (like take one of my 17 ICU modules which each take 15 hours) but other things, and most of the things I need to get done, like shopping, farmers market, and car shop, are closed at that time of the night. In addition to my errands today, I had to go to the hospital for annual nursing competencies. We also had to drive to South Carolina to take care of the dogs we are dog-sitting, make a pit stop at the farmer's market, factor in time for The Boyfriend's part time job, I had to go to the health food store, make numerous calls for this upcoming bachelorette party, make time for the gym... phew! My car repairs got pushed to another day, again! Here's crossing our fingers for tomorrow! :)

 Breakfast was vegan overnight oats. For the past month I've been eating "raw oatmeal" for breakfast every day, and I love it. It keeps me full for hours, and I mean hours upon hours. Last night I tried something different. I put the oatmeal in a bowl with almond milk and chia seeds and put it in the fridge. Then I went to bed. This morning, I took it out, poured some extra almond milk on it, and mixed in some brown sugar. I topped it with a few slices of banana and a dollop of peanut butter. It was like my regular raw morning oats but better! They were softer and fluffier, but still raw! The chia seeds had expanded in the liquid, as is their nature. Chia seeds give you energy, stamina, and endurance. They fill you up and curb your hunger. Perhaps this is why I feel full for upwards of 6 hours after eating chia seeds.
 The above picture is my overnight oats right out of the fridge. Pour some extra milk on them...
Slice up a banana, and a dollop of peanut butter...
Mmmmm mmmm mmm....
I will probably make them like this from now on. It only takes 10 extra seconds to "prepare" it the night before, and it comes out more to my liking. The other way was fine, don't get me wrong, but my taste for raw oatmeal has matured ; )

 After breakfast we ran to the farmer's market, where I was pleasantly surprised (as always) to see how much money we saved. We got 7 bags of fresh, pesticide-free produce for 24 dollars. Included in our bags of goodies were a bag of fresh dill, a bag of fresh basil, a bag of fresh thyme, a bag of fresh mint, and a bag of fresh parsley  & cilantro. Each bag was one dollar. I can't get over how inexpensive yet fresh and delicious these herbs are! We also got plums, lemons, limes, apples, bananas, carrots, celery, romaine lettuce, zucchini, tomatoes, green beans, the list goes on and on. (For twenty-four dollars!)

 We had to make a quick pit stop at the health food store for some non-dairy cheese, and that is where I saw this bag in the check-out line. I was expecting it to be around 10 bucks, but it was only 2.99!
I can't believe I've been vegan for 3 years and I consider myself somewhat eco-friendly, yet I'm still using and throwing away plastic bags every time I go to the grocery story! This tote is so durable, so thick, so large, and so great for me. I know I will use it for years to come. After the health food store I had to go to the regular grocery store, (for items I'm not willing to spend health-food-store prices on, like rice) so I brought my bag with me. It held four plastic bags worth of groceries and it was the only bag I needed to carry out! How great is that! When I was walking out to my car, a woman was walking in with five or six of her own non-disposable, reusable grocery bags, and she knowingly smiled at me and my eco-friendly bag. It was special.

When I came home from running around I was pretty hungry, so I mixed up some french onion dried spices (which don't have any animal products in them) with my "Better than sour cream" dairy free sour cream, and dipped veggies in it.

This was the perfect snack to munch on while I cooked dinner!

 For dinner tonight we wanted something warm, comforting, and filling. It was grey and chilly today in Charlotte, and we aren't used to that. It has rained maybe a total of 6 times since I've moved here. This morning we were both sad and quiet in the car. I thought to myself, "How did I used to live like this every day in Ohio when it was grey and rainy all the time?"
 One perk about the rainy weather was that it was the perfect opportunity for soup!

Minestrone soup:

3 tablespoons oil
1 cup minced white onion
1/2 cup chopped zucchini
1/2 cup frozen cut italian green beans (i used fresh green beans from the farmer's market today. they can be canned, frozen, or fresh)
1/4 cup celery
4 teaspoons minced garlic
4 cups vegetable broth
2 cans red kidney beans (drained)
2 cans small white beans (great northern beans) (drained)
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup carrot (sliced, diced, julienned)
2 tablespoons fresh parsley
1.5 teaspoons dried oregano
1/5 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
3 cups hot water
3 cups fresh baby spinach
1/2 cup small shell pasta

Heat oil over medium heat in a large soup pot. Put onions, celery, garlic, green beans, carrots, and zucchini in the oil and saute for about five minutes.
Add vegetable broth to pot, then tomatoes, beans, hot water and spices.
Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
Add noodles and spinach last, let simmer for another 20 minutes or until noodles are soft.

 I got this recipe originally from my sister and her boyfriend. I loved it so much and have made it twice since then. It has come out stellar both times. Basically it's whatever veggies you want, some veggie broth, and a lot of good spices. I used to think I could never make homemade soup because it would just taste like water. On the contrary, this soup is so tasty it feels like you could have gotten it at a restaurant or store. I think the taste gets better the longer it sits. I usually make it and eat it hours later, or even the next night. A few comments about the ingredients: tonight, I didn't want to use my zucchini, and instead of canned tomatoes I used fresh tomatoes. Instead of dry spices I used all fresh spices because that's what I believe in and that's what I bought at the farmer's market. My point is: If you see a recipe you like but don't have all the ingredients, make it anyway. Substitute or leave out items you don't have, like canned tomatoes for fresh tomatoes, (or even substitute with tomato sauce or paste or marinara!) or lime juice for "half a lime". Do not be afraid to experiment and try! If it calls for "fresh basil" and you only have dried basil, use the dried basil, or even leave out the basil, life will go on. You will be far happier with a less-than-perfect result than you would be if you didn't try at all. Life is all about trying, learning, and trying again! It may be so awful that you pitch the whole thing down the garbage disposal, but hey at least you tried and now you know what to do differently next time!
(p.s. I have never recommended or posted about a recipe that I have ever tossed down the garbage disposal. I only post about the most delicious, highly-recommended recipes for you, all my beautiful readers!)

 I'm off to the gym, where I will mentally write tomorrow's Inspiration Friday post while I run! I have had so much feedback this week, it was as if people secretly read last week's post and were trying to drop hints so they could be in the post tomorrow! ;)  I think everyone deserves to be recognized, not only for the positive changes they are making but the things they do every day that are uplifting, joyful and kind. Each person is capable and deserving of love, remember that. If you feel you have made a positive change in your life, your eating habits, fitness goals, eco-friendly changes, attitude, or anything else, let me know and I will be more than happy to give you a shout-out!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Stuffed Zucchini

 What a busy day! I have a lot going on in the next couple months, which means a lot of great things to look forward to and be excited for!

Exciting event #1: Bachelorette party in Chicago. My little sister (in my sorority) is getting married in May!

This is us in Chicago for New Years Eve. We liked it so much we decided to go back for her bachelorette party! My little sis (the bride) is the pretty one in the middle!

So today, I had to buy a cute little bright colored dress for the bachelorette party. I cruised around the mall until I found one I loved. I don't typically buy dresses, so it was kind of fun. As fun as trying on tons of dresses can be, I suppose. 

After finding a cute, bright pink cocktail dress, I headed over to David's Bridal, due to upcoming event #2...

Exciting event #2: Friend getting married in St Louis, and I'm in the bridal party! My other good friend (a different sorority sister) is getting married and I am lucky enough to be a special part of her big day! 
This is the david's bridal dress I chose:
Of course it will be a different color (blue, woohoo!) And of course I don't have ten feet long legs, but this dress was still darling! When she sent me the email with options of bridesmaid dresses to choose from, I fell in love with this one immediately. She said she picked it out with me in mind.  :) 

After a few hours in David's Bridal I had to run home and get online to purchase airline tickets, because....

Exciting event #3: Colorado!
I'll be visiting my sister in Colorado, and am so looking forward to re-visiting one of my favorite places!
This is us at our absolute favorite place to go in Colorado: the improv comedy club! I've never laughed so hard...
I have been making it a tradition to go out to visit my sis at least once a year, usually in the summer. We are holding true to tradition this year because I'll be going in about two months. This time will be the first year The Boyfriend goes with me. 

After purchasing tickets and talking to my sis on the phone, I had to jet to the gym, because....

Exciting event #4: Half marathon in Indianapolis, Indiana!
 That's right, I finally committed to another half marathon. Today I was able to hammer out 6 miles, which is good for my foot, which has flared up again with plantar fasciitis. (yes, that is the correct spelling, even though it looks weird.)

Phew! So what a day it's been! I was so hungry when I got home from it all, and excited about yet another thing...

Stuffed Zucchini

The original recipe was found here, or you can follow mine below. I will list the original ingredients below, but I either didn't have them all or I had altered amounts of some of them. So I put the changes in parentheses.

1 extra large zucchini, (or 3 medium zucchini, or however many zukes you have. I have one extra large one, so I just used the one)
olive oil, for sauteing
one medium onion
1 or 2 cloves of minced garlic
fresh mushrooms, chopped
2 medium fresh tomatoes (I only had one, so I only used one)
fresh basil (I used dried basil)
1/2 cup breadcrumbs (I used four tablespoons)
Daiya cheese for topping
optional: half a cube of tempeh, chopped up. Or you can add tofu, cubed or chopped. I added this for the protein factor, and because I love tempeh and it's flavor! 

1) Cut your zucchini in half

2) Scoop out the insides and put in bowl. Leave about 1/4 of an inch all around

3) sautee the onions first, then add the garlic. then add the mushrooms and insides of zucchini. then add the tomatoes, basil, salt, pepper, and tempeh. Mix together like so:

The tempeh is the meaty looking stuff. I've blogged about tempeh before here, but it's basically a protein option (22 grams of protein) and it comes in a square and you can find it at any health food store in the refrigerated section.

4) Put the breadcrumbs into the mixture and mix together one last time. This will thicken it up, and if they are "italian" breadcrumbs it will taste even more italian-y!

5) Fill your zucchini boats with the mixture
6) Top with cheese

7) Bake at 400 degrees for thirty minutes

This is the finished product out of the oven

  We decided this was our favorite zucchini recipe so far, it came real close to the lasagna recipe we made with zucchini. The Boyfriend even said, "I used to think zucchini was such a bland, blah vegetable that you had to eat as a side, steamed. Now it's like our favorite thing!" It's true, zucchini is great. And it's great for you:
  • helps cure asthma
  • high source of vitamin C
  • antioxidant
  • anti-inflammatory
  • contains high amount of water and low amount of calories
  • can reduce chance of getting MS
  • contains high amounts of folate, potassium, and vitamin A
  • contains B6, riboflavin, and beta-carotine
  • helps protect the body against colon cancer
  • contains lutein, which is good for the eyes

Dessert was a strawberry shake:

frozen strawberries
splash of almond milk

One for each of us! 
I topped mine with some toffee pieces and mixed it together:

Deeeee lish! 

 Have a great evening! 

Guacamole & Hummus

Time for a post about two of my favorite things: Guacamole & Hummus! I can't believe I've had this blog running for over a month and haven't posted about hummus yet. I eat hummus on bread with a slice of tomato, I dip crackers, pretzels, and vegetables into it, and sometimes I just eat it with a spoon. Don't judge. There is usually always a container of homemade hummus in the fridge. It's the best snack ever, it's healthy, it's fast and easy to make, I could go on and on forever about my love for hummus, but I'll stop already and tell you how to make it!

1 can of chickpeas
1/4 cup of the water from the can of chickpeas
3 tablespoons tahini
1 teaspoon minced garlic
juice of one lemon, if you don't have fresh lemon you can use a squeeze of lemon juice
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon coriander (if you don't have this on hand that's fine, I only sometimes use it)
salt and pepper to taste
dash of olive oil if it's too thick

Step one: put beans and water from can of beans into food processor.

Step two: Blend.  I use this time when the beans are in the processor alone to blend the beans because I like mine extra, extra creamy.

Step three: Add all the other ingredients. I'm a taste taster, so I usually add the ingredients, blend, taste, add more, blend, taste. Also use this time to add a little olive oil if it's too dry, or if you are staying away from oil, add a dash of water.
This is the hummus a few minutes after blending. I usually blend for a looong time. Like a good 4-5 minutes. Like I said, I like it creamy.

Finished hummus: (after a few taste testers have dipped into it)
Swoon. I could eat hummus all day, every day!
How do you like your hummus? Extra garlicky? Extra creamy? Sometimes we add chili pepper or throw some red roasted tomatos in there. You can flavor it however you want. Everyone likes it their own way!

1 ripe avocado
juice of 1 lime (this is important. If you don't have the lime use lime juice. We feel it's a crucial ingredient)
1 tomato
salt and pepper to taste
optional: onion

Cut the avocado in half, and remove the pit. I slice my avocado while I'm holding it in my hand, still on the skin. After you slice it long and short ways, you can give it a squeeze and all the little square pieces fall out into the bowl! Dice up your tomato, and put parsley, lime and salt and pepper on it. The Boyfriend loves onion, but I don't like raw onion, so I usually boss him persuade him to leave it out!

I love how the farmer's market tomatoes are so beefy red. I think the taste is a world's difference, too! I highly encourage you to support your local farmers and visit a farmer's market. Most do not use pesticides, the produce is cheaper, and it tastes so much better! If you can't make it to the farmer's market or don't have one around you, you can still use the produce from the grocery store; we just think it tastes like an entirely different (and better) dish when using farmer's market produce.

 Give it a light toss to mix it together:

There you have it! Ready to dig in. Some people like their guacamole more mashed together. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. I find if I'm making it fresh like this and not from a packet of spices, I like it chunky and lightly tossed.

 The good thing about these two dips is that they are naturally vegan and easily portable. You can take to carry-ins, picnics, different events, etc etc. I used to take my hummus into work whenever we had a carry-in because I knew everyone would like it, and it would be something for me to eat. People usually don't bring vegetarian or vegan dishes into carry-ins, so bring something you know you can eat enough of to fill you up. Hummus has loads of protein in it, and yes guacamole has "fat" but it's healthy fat and if you are eating a complete vegan diet you should include some healthy fats. Healthy fats in avocados are vital for your brain, and they help with your hair and skin as well.

 Hope you enjoy these dips!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

How to Comment & PB Brussel Sprouts

 I've had numerous people contact me and say they would like to comment on this blog but cannot figure out how. I used another computer to guide myself through it and this is what we have come up with:

Step one: Go to the right hand side of this blog where it says "Followers" and click on "Follow". For some reason, you must follow this blog before you can comment on it. 

Step two: Sign in as a "follower" using whatever email you want to use. If you have a blog, you can use that blog as your "name" and your name will be underlined, the underlined part is a direct link to your own blog. If you do NOT have a blog, sign in using aim, google, or yahoo. This would be your gmail email sign in, your yahoo email sign in, etc. Same name and password. 

Step three: Now that you are a "follower" you can comment. At the bottom of each post, there is a little link that says "0 comments" or "1 comment", click on that, and a large blank box will appear that says "leave a comment". You type in your comment, but wait, there is a part to "sign" it, and this is where you choose the account you are signed into (yahoo, google). The same one you used to be a follower. Hit publish, and voila!

Maybe one day this process won't be so long! When I leave comments on other people's blogs, it is fast and easy because I have this blog so it automatically links my name to this blog. I was unaware that it was so hard for people to figure this out. I know my Dad and Aunt Michele seem to be having the most problems... I hope this helps! If all else fails, you can email me with questions, concerns, comments, and updates at or continue to email me through facebook, which most people have been doing. 

On to the yummy stuff!

Peanut Butter Brussel Sprouts

brussel sprouts (I bought a large frozen bag and used about 1/3 of it.)
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 cup brown rice
soy sauce

 Do you love brussel sprouts? As a child, I never loved brussel sprouts, but something about the way we cook them these days has me loving them!

 Dethaw frozen brussel sprouts, then slice them in half.

Cook one cup of brown rice per instructions, then put a little bit of the rice at a time in a pan with a little bit of butter or a little bit of oil. "Fry" the rice until just crispy.
 I had to do this 2 or 3 times in order to fry the whole cup of rice. If I had a large, flat pan I could have done all the rice at once. You want a thin layer of rice so that it gets a little crispy. Spread the rice out thin, and flip it with a spatula. It might stick to the bottom of the pan, but those pieces will just be a little crispier. Nothing a little muscles can't scrape off! 

 When you're done with the rice, sprinkle a little bit of (MSG-free) soy sauce or liquid aminos (vegan soy sauce) onto rice, and mix in one to two teaspoons peanut butter (or tablespoons, depends on how much you love peanut butter) into the rice.

Here is my crispy rice with soy sauce and peanut butter (not yet mixed in)

Then put your brussel sprouts into the pan with a little bit of butter, some salt or pepper, some minced garlic if you like garlic, any kind of flavoring you want. The key to cooking brussel sprouts is not to over-cook them! They omit a strong, awful smell when they are overcooked, this means they are oxidizing. You want them warmed and a little soft, but by all means do not cook the nutrients out of them! I sizzled mine in butter maybe five minutes, sprinkling with a little garlic salt and a touch of soy sauce. 

Combine brussel sprouts and rice together and mix well. You want the soy sauce and peanut butter coated evenly over the rice and brussels.

 I love asian peanut sauces and we were craving something asian-flavored. I figured out if you mix soy sauce with peanut butter you get a pretty tasty "sauce"! The brussel sprouts we added because they were the last vegetable we had on hand. We made it not knowing how it would taste. It turned out really good. So good, in fact, that when I came home the next day, The Boyfriend had made round #2 all by himself and it was on the table waiting for me! 

This recipe has protein (peanut butter), vegetables (brussels) and whole grain (brown rice). What a winner! :) 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Burrito Bowls

We just made the most tasty little burrito bowls!

I woke up from my nap today "craving" Chipotle burrito bowls. It made me wonder what a craving is really made of. Why did I "crave" a vegetarian burrito bowl from Chipotle? Is it the vegetables I want? The rice and black beans? We essentially had all the ingredients here in the house for a burrito bowl, so instead of spending 15 dollars on two burrito bowls, we made them here!

Step one:
Cook rice according to directions. We use brown rice. Put in bottom of bowl

Step two: Put black beans over top of rice.
To make the perfect chipotle-tasting beans, sprinkle beans with cumin, lime juice, and some salt. I used to work at Qdoba, and their secret ingredient to everything was lime and parsley. We don't have any parsley on hand, so lime and cumin and salt will have to do. We sauteed some onions as well. You can skip the onions, or add for more flavor.

Step three: Corn and tomatoes. We had some tomatoes and corn from the farmers market, so into the bowl they went!
Step four: Lettuce, daiya cheese, sour cream, guacamole, hot sauce, anything else you want on it! We thought it would taste most like chipotle if we put corn, tomatoes, lettuce, cheese, sour cream and hot sauce on it, but use your imagination!

The above was The Boyfriend's bowl for dinner, and the below picture is how I packed it for my lunch tonight at work!

How pretty?! 

My cute little burrito bowl for dinner :)

 There you have it... the most tasty homemade burrito bowl! You could serve all this over nachos, or wrap it all up into a burrito. Be creative!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Date Night

 In addition to yesterday being Inspiration Friday, it was also date night! It was a successful day all around.

We had gone on an outdoor run in the afternoon, because the temperature in Charlotte never got much above 70 degrees, but there wasn't a cloud in the sky. Perfect running weather! We also noticed how tan we are getting, in March! Time to break out the sunscreen already!

 After the run we got cleaned up and set out for The Wine Loft. I've been hanging on to a 25 dollar coupon for The Wine Loft for almost a year now. Lately, we are trying to live each day as if it were our last, so we dug out that coupon and went into town! There is no time like the present, right?
 This is me, outside the Wine Loft, doing my own rendition of The Wave.

I had riesling, my favorite wine, and The Boyfriend rolled with red. We had a really nice time. The place was so small and romantic, with only candles for light, and low, dark couches to sit on. How cute!

 After some wine we were both craving some thai, so we went to a thai restaurant we had never been to before. We don't go out to eat that much, but when we do we usually get thai or indian. We decided on thai because they have so many vegetarian options and let's face it, thai is so delicious.

 This was our favorite thai place in Charlotte so far! On the front of the menu there was a large box that said: "We can make all entrees vegetarian or vegan." Underneath that read: WE USE NO MSG!
 Be still, my heart! This totally made my night! MSG is such a terrible, awful chemical. One day I'll do a post on it, but for now, try to stay away from it. It stands for mono-sodium-glutamate. It's a seasoning used in a lot of stuff, like ramen noodles, certain spices, a lot of asian food, and a lot of packaged, processed foods. It causes migraines, cancer, early altzheimers, and a whole host of other things. To hear that this thai place used NO msg was so great!

 I got red curry, which is red curry paste mixed in coconut milk, served with vegetables and tofu, and a side of brown rice.

The Boyfriend got sweet&sour tofu. It's a sweet and sour sauce with vegetables and protein of your choice. He chose tofu, and the little tofu pieces were so delicious! They were crispy on the outside and warm and soft on the inside! He served his over brown rice as well.

We're still dog-sitting for some friends who are in another country, so after dinner we played with the dogs, let them outside to run, and then headed home.

That concludes our date night! As you can see, it is entirely possible to be vegan and still go out to eat. You can even (gasp) indulge in a glass of wine!

What were your big Friday night plans? Do you try to make the most out of every day, or do you tend to "save up" your good times for once a year vacations or trips?

I'll be working the next three nights in a row, starting tonight, so posts may be scarce. However, I've been known to have a few tricks up my sleeve, so I might still bang out a post or two. Depends on how much sleep I get ;)

 Have a great weekend!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Inspiration Friday

 Great things are happening all around us; great acts of courage and changes in the lives of people I love!

 When I first started this blog, I never would have imagined it would gain so many viewers or have the impact it has had. Of course I hoped it would, but didn't know if it possibly could. Quite the contrary- people are telling me that their life is changing because of this! How amazing and wonderful that the main goal is being fulfilled! To be informed, to be educated, to be inspirational! 

To recognize the great things people are doing, I would like to start an Inspiration Friday post. I will update with the inspirational, motivational, positive changes that people are doing in their life, and in return I will offer some of my inspiration. Things that have kept me going and lifted me up, not only over the past 3 years that I've been vegan, but over my entire life; seeing, living, and meeting people from all walks of life.

 Let me know how your life is going, good or bad, through emails, texts, phone, or blog, exactly as you have been doing. I will make a mental note of it and recognize you for your efforts on Fridays!

You inspire me:

 My brother called me this morning to let me know he bought wheatgrass and is on day 3 of no coffee. He has been wanting to break his addiction with coffee for awhile now but didn't know how. He has tried several times but always went back to it. (Sounds like every other addiction I deal with on a daily basis at work- cocaine, heroine, and the biggest addiction: alcoholism.) He has decided to buy wheatgrass and stick it out this time.
 This little brother of mine has come so far in the past year alone! The Christmas before last we were arguing about having a dead turkey on the table for our christmas meal, and now he is vegan and I couldn't be more proud or admire him more for it! 

 My friend from Ohio, Mandy, who I mentioned before, texted me yesterday with an update: "I'm on day 4 of absolutely no meat and so far so good!" These are words coming from someone who told me "I could never do that" when she found out I was vegan years ago!
  Mandy, you are a continual inspiration for me and you are so courageous to make this change! I am with you 100% of the way!

 My other friend from Ohio, a former co-worker of mine, emailed me with some questions and informed she has lost 42 pounds from healthy eating and exercising alone! Terri - you have no idea what an amazing, priceless gift you are giving your young daughters. Sending you encouragement and strength when you need it most, and hoping you continue to lead by example!

 Change is all around us! It is happening in the restaurants that I never thought would offer vegan smoothies or incorporate dairy-free cheese in their pizzas. It's happening to that woman at work who looked down her nose at me and is now eating meat-free lunches. It's happening to my family and my friends! It is beautiful and glorious to watch, and I could not be more thankful or grateful.

 And now for some Michele-made-inspiration:
 You must find what you love. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Do not settle. As with all great matters of the heart, you will know it when you find it. We spend a lot of time at work, and the only way to be fully satisfied is to feel that you are making a difference and that you are doing something great. And like any great relationship, your love for work will only grow with time, getting better and better. So don't settle.

Challenge yourself. Put the negative "I can't" and "I couldn't" thoughts away and sign up for the walk. Register for the race. Agree to host a bible study dinner. Volunteer with big brothers/big sisters. Take a three day vacation to that place you've always wanted to see. But do something that scares you or something that challenges you. You are fully capable of doing anything you put your mind to. 

None of our "problems" will matter when we are dead. Picture yourself in your grave. Picture your body turning to ash and disintegrating. How important do our selfish desires and problems look from this view? Remembering that I could die tomorrow has been the biggest help for me when I am faced with life choices.  Even small choices. Will this matter when I'm dead? What do I want to do before tomorrow, in the event I should die tomorrow? 

Do not live life for other people. Our time here on earth is limited, so don't waste it. Do not live worrying about the opinion's of other people. Have the courage to do what you know is right for you. Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. You already know what to do...

Take care of yourself. Your body is a gift from God. What you do with it is your gift to God.

  Have a beautiful, blessed, and of course, inspirational Friday :)

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Outlet Malls

 Hey everyone! Wow this week is going by so fast! Doesn't it always feel like the days creep along when you have to work, but fly by when you don't? I can't believe it's already Thursday!

Today was another fun day for us as we continued to spend time together and do things outside of the apartment since it is The Boyfriend's spring break. He teaches kids, so they are on spring break, and I just so happen to have the weekdays off since I'm working every weekend.  We decided to take some time to go to the outlet malls today! We had never been to the outlet malls here in north carolina, and we quickly discovered they are different from Ohio outlet malls. Not bad, just different, especially the lay out. (I didn't take pictures because I forgot my camera)

 The day before we left for Savannah, I had pulled out my summer clothes box and eagerly dove in. It was going to be really hot in Georgia, so I needed some shorts, or maybe a jean skirt, or at least some capris to wear there! I was so excited as I pulled out my plaid shorts I had bought last fall at the Gap outlet mall in Ohio and have only worn once. I held up my khaki shorts and my favorite jean skirt and then laid them all out on the bed to debate. Decisions, decisions...
 Good thing I tried them on the night before instead of having to go through the process that ensued the next morning. Nothing fit. I'm not talking a-little-loose-around-the-waist, I'm talking falling-off-my-hips-and-onto-the-floor. As you might have noticed in my Savannah pictures, I had to wear this pair of dark capris (it was either them or my winter skinny jeans) that my sister gave me two years ago and I have never worn because they were always too small. Not a single one of my old shorts or skirts fit. So what's a girl to do? Go shopping! Perfect opportunity to explore a different part of the city and get some cute summer clothes! I love the outlet malls because you know you're getting a good deal, and who doesn't love a good deal?

 In the dressing room at the mall, I was surprised to find out that my clothing size had dropped so much. After all, I'm eating almost every two hours, and I don't feel like I've lost that much weight, but apparently I have. I feel great, and I'm able to work out more than I ever have before. So, I get to feel great, eat great, and drop sizes? That sounds like a deal! And you can do it, too! Eliminate dairy & meat from your diet, quit drinking the pop, stop the extra (empty) sugar calories, and start feeling better immediately! Sound too overwhelming? Eliminate one thing from your diet at a time. Baby steps...

 Today's breakfast was raw oatmeal:

That's whole rolled oats, almond milk, chia seeds, a little brown sugar, and a dollop of peanut butter.
Of course I had my shots of wheat grass instead of coffee:

And then we set out for the outlet malls.

When we came home, lunch was a large salad:

The more colors the better! I love my salads with romaine lettuce, mushrooms, carrots, celery, radishes, tomatoes, sugar snap peas, anything I can find to throw in!

I even added some daiya shreds on top and then poured some of this great dressing on:

Then we ran some errands and took care of a friend's dog for him, then we came home and were really thirsty! So we juiced some carrots

It really hit the spot!

 Then we went to the gym. I ran 5 miles while The Boyfriend lifted weights.
Dinner was nachos:

These were pretty amazing.
We always use the blue corn tortilla chips because they are all natural, and in our opinion, taste better than white or yellow corn chips anyways.
The "meat" was our taco meat - read more on that in this post. It's walnuts and sundried tomatoes mixed together in a food processor.
The "cheese" is of course non-dairy daiya cheese. Pictured below is mozzarella, but we used cheddar for the nachos.
 I recently turned my brother onto this cheese, and made him try it while on the phone with me today so I could gauge his reaction to it. It was so cute, I could hear him crunching on the nachos, then he told me how much he liked the cheese. For the record, he said "Wow.. it tastes like real cheese..This is great!" (By the way Brother, I was silently fist-pumping down here in north carolina :)
The non-dairy sour cream is from the health food store, and the salsa is natural salsa from the grocery store.
 Healthier than beef and cheddar nachos? I think so! But still amazingly delicious and I almost felt unhealthy eating them, although there is nothing unhealthy about them.

 Case in point: you can still eat delicious, indulging food without feeling gross or guilty about it. The best part of it, and the reason for this entire blog and the reason for everything I do in life, is that we did not have to kill, steal, manipulate, exploit, or harm any other living thing in order for us to be happy. I fully believe that no true or lasting happiness can come from depriving others of happiness. Therefor I always try to do the thing that will cause the least amount of harm and cause others the least amount of pain.  It is absolutely possible to live happy, healthy lives without hurting others, so why wouldn't we strive to do that?

 I was craving something for dessert, which is rare because I hardly ever crave sweets. I decided to put plain frozen strawberries in the smoothie maker with a splash of almond milk. No added sugar needed, strawberries are naturally sweet.
 It looks like sorbet, doesn't it? It tasted like it too!
I was feeling froggy, so I added some vegan  chocolate chips and toffee chips:
Uhh-mazing. Wow.

 As you can see, most of our day consisted of raw food, and all of it was delicious and easy to make. No cross-contamination with meat, no blood on your counter top or knives. No extensive preparation or waiting for things to cook. I think the only non-raw things we had were in the nachos, but even the "meat" was raw, and the salsa was too. If going vegan or raw-food seems drastic or overwhelming for you, just eliminate one thing at a time, like I said before. Maybe have No-meat-Mondays, where you don't eat meat for the whole day on Mondays. Then progress to two days a week. Then progress to three. Maybe you want to cut out pop, then after a few weeks cut out sour cream. Doing this one-thing-at-a-time method has worked for numerous people I've talked to, and they are still going strong to this day. Great job, guys! I am much more of an extreme, drastic person, and going vegan happened overnight for me, but I understand not everyone is like this.

 I know I have some new followers (welcome!) and I have recently joined Twitter, (click here to follow me) which has generated a large amount of traffic for this site, (hooray!) so if you are just now tuning in, I encourage you to read some of my favorite posts:

Why Vegan? - My first post which explains my philosophy and lifestyle

Frequently Asked Questions

Green Smoothies - you have to try one!

Wheatgrass - of course by now you have figured out I am in love with wheatgrass and how it has changed my life!

Lasagna  - this stuff is so great we have made it twice already!

Taco "meat" - so easy, and it's raw! You can put it on anything!

Pain - this is a short story about the day in the life of an ICU nurse

A vegan birthday - this post was about my boyfriend's birthday, our day of fun and the vegan desserts I made!

 I do try to incorporate a little bit of my personality, a little bit of food, and a little bit of fun into each and every post, but the above are some of the posts which had have the most views (according to my stats page) so I guess they are extra special ;)

  Have a great evening!