Friday, April 29, 2011

Lemon Water

 Today I wanted to share the great health benefits of drinking lemon water

 For as long as I can remember, my morning routine would be: wake up and eat. Some mornings I would skip breakfast and drink coffee instead. This lead to excessive over-eating midday and a general feeling of awfulness.

 These days, after learning and experiencing the health benefits of drinking lemon water, I have taken a different approach. I read that it is best to give your body, mainly your digestive system, time to wake up in the morning. This means you wake up and drink some lemon water, and then an hour or so later eat breakfast. Doing this, I have felt much, much better and have also been able to break my coffee addiction. Of course, I also attribute wheatgrass to being able to break my coffee addiction, but don't get me started on wheatgrass or we'll be here all day :)

 Drinking warm lemon water in the morning is so relaxing and really gets my day started right. I heat a coffee mug full of water up for about 30 to 60 seconds (you just want it lukewarm to warm) and squeeze half a fresh lemon into it.

I buy lemons by the bag and keep them in my fruit bowl so they are room temp and easy to grab. Sip on the lemon water and feel the benefits immediately. It will help wake you up, and it definitely wakes up your digestive system! You will probably, (and by probably I mean most definitely) go to the bathroom, and now you have an empty system to put good, clean food in, instead of piling new food on top of old food that never had a chance to eliminate itself.

 Lemons are good for you. In his book Back to Eden, author Jethro Kloss writes:
"The medicinal value of the lemon is as follows: It is an antiseptic, or an agent that prevents sepsis or decomposition of tissue. It is an anti-scorbutic, meaning a remedy which will prevent disease and assist in cleaning the system of impurities...Because it is so good for the digestive system, lemon juice heals symptoms of indigestion such as heart burn, bloating and belching. The bowels are aided in eliminating waste more efficiently."

 It's also amazing how a simple little fruit like a lemon can be so effective in helping the body regulate it's metabolism and sugar absorption in a manner that helps you lose extra weight. Lemons are rich are citric acid, so when you take a glass of lemon juice in plain warm water first thing in the morning, you introduce natural healthy enzymes into your digestive aids into your stomach.

 The best way to drink lemon water is one full lemon each day. Half a squeezed lemon in the morning and half in the evening. Mix with 4 to 8 oz of purified water.

 From an online site, the top 10 benefits of lemons are as follows:

  1. Purification of blood
  2. Maintenance of digestive system
  3. Prevention and cure from allergies and infections
  4. Detox in the body
  5. Strengthening of liver function
  6. Useful in urinary tract problems
  7. Killer of obesity
  8. Best skin care
  9. Natural hair conditioner
  10. Stops bleeding gums
So some of these might not necessarily benefit me right now, such as bleeding gums or obesity, however, I have noticed an immediate response in my digestive system and allergies! Let me tell you a quick story:
 When I moved to North Carolina last spring I had the worst allergies of my life. I have never been one to have allergies. Sometimes in Ohio I would pop a claritin or something if I needed it. However, upon moving here my eyes were watering, I couldn't stop sneezing, I ran a low grade fever, and I couldn't breathe through my nose. For the first seven days I was on the couch, moaning and crying to The Boyfriend. I thought it was a cold but it lasted, and lasted. It lasted for what seemed like the entire Spring! That's when I realized it wasn't a never-ending cold, it was allergies! The Boyfriend felt somewhat bad for me at first but then he developed the same allergies too! I spoke to a friend who was also new to North Carolina and he advised me to stay inside and wait it out. He said it happens every spring and every fall and there's "nothing" we can do about it except stay in the air conditioning and suffer. Sure enough when fall came around, it happened again. It presents like a mild cold but is more annoying than anything. Malaise, stuffy nose, itchy eyes and throat, etc. I couldn't drink any beverages because I was taking allergy meds, and I was either hopped up on pseudaphed or knocked out on benadryl!

The good news is, this spring I have been drinking lemon water and taking my wheatgrass pills (two things which help eliminate allergies altogether) and I have not had one single day of itchy eyes or sneezing. Unbelievable! My car was covered in pollen when I went to work yesterday, and it didn't affect me at all. Everyone else I know is popping pills and suffering from springtime allergies and I am not feeling it at all.

The second thing I noticed immediately was the digestive system benefits. I will spare you the details because we all know that nurses can talk about bowel movements all day and not think anything of it, but apparently it freaks some people out. Bottom line: if you drink lemon water, you will go. Did you know you carry up to 30 pounds of waste in your body? That's 30 pounds of feces. Hello, gross! No wonder we are the leading country in colon cancer! Thirty pounds of old dukie just sitting there and rotting (literally). Drink lemon water and lose that 30 pounds. Promise.

I know change is a process and of course you aren't going to wake up tomorrow (or maybe you are) and kick your caffeine habit, down a cupful of lemon juice, and take wheatgrass pills all in the same morning, but every little positive change helps. I used to be just like the average person, "needing" coffee to wake up in the morning, dragging myself through the drive-through at McDonalds on the way to work, and hating myself and my body.
 You don't have to live this way. You can take control of your life and change what you put into your body. Sometimes drinking coffee is more out of habit than anything else. A warm cup of lemon water takes the place of the "habit" of drinking something warm at that early time in the morning. Except, the benefits are so good for you, and you won't be jacked up on caffeine!

Bottoms up! 

Thursday, April 28, 2011


  I think this blog has held a mostly upbeat, positive tone with cheery pictures and an accurate portrayal of my vegan lifestyle. I've said it before and I'll say it again: This blog is to inform, educate, and inspire others about what goes on in our lives and how we can actively participate to change it. You do make a difference and you can change the world. I work to do this every day of my life and every time I meet a new person it is an opportunity to share a part of my life and learn about their life and values as well. While it isn't fun or easy to point fingers and change people, I have found that by simply answering their question "Why are you vegan?" I have gained some support and sometimes admiration for why I do what I do.

 Having said that, I want to add that while I am mostly cheery and happy, devastation and pain are still happening around us and within us and I am not immune to that. Just because I make yummy food and connect with other bloggers doesn't mean my mission for this whole blog and my goal in life isn't to be compassionate towards animals and humans alike and inspire others to make the connection that all creatures are living beings and no animals belong to us to destroy.

 I have thought long and hard about even writing this post, and I know I may either lose some supporters or lose some viewings, but I discussed it with The Boyfriend, and something he said rang true to me. He said "It doesn't matter if you lose popularity. Your moral and ethical obligation is to the true purpose of the blog." And it's true. So I will write.

 Ever since I've been a part of the food/vegan/fitness blog community, I have read and am still reading a variety of blogs. Some of the authors are vegan and some are vegetarian and some are neither. The ones who are not usually mention every so often how they've "thought about going veg" or "know someone" who is veg and they almost always follow up by saying "I love animals so much" and "I am a huge animal lover" but then end their soapbox with, "I just couldn't give up meat." This weighs very heavy on my heart and bothers me so much every time I hear it. If I had a nickel every time a carnivore told me "I am an animal lover!" ...

 Why is there such a dis-connect between loving animals and eating animals? I have always been a baby lover. I love babies soo much. I have loved babies since I was a baby myself. Would I eat a baby? Absolutely not! To say "I love animals soo much" and "I go to the humane society to play with the animals because I love them so much" and "I want to be a vet" and then go home and eat the animals that you claim to love, and contribute to the devastation that is humiliation, degredation, and taking the life of another living being is a huge dis-connect.
 There are other people besides me who feel this way. For example, I was looking for something on YouTube when I saw this, an interview with Ellen, who is vegan:

 I feel like Ellen literally stole the words right out of my mouth. How many times have I said those exact words when someone asks me why I'm vegan?  Some of my favorite quotes of hers from the interview are:
"You see that...and you go, "I cant participate in that. I cant be a part of something that is suffering"
"I think we all fool ourselves that there is some sort of happy animal."
"They're all in pain. They're all treated badly. They're all diseased."
"I saw the reality. And I couldn't ignore it anymore"
"Food Inc is a disney movie compared to Earthlings" <-- haha, love that one.

While on the subject of videos, here is a neat one where Alicia Silverstone discusses how she felt after going vegan: 

And another one, famous vegetarians and vegans with some nice instrumental background music: 

Wow, I did not know Plato, Sir Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Ben Franklin, Leonardo DaVinci, Jack Johnson, Alec Baldwin and countless others were vegan and vegetarian!

 Back to the topic at hand... It bothers me when I hear people say "I love animals" and then I see them eat meat. To me, the bottom line is if you loved something, you wouldn't destroy it. And I just wonder where the disconnect is coming from? In a perfect world, we would say what we mean and speak the words of truth. We wouldn't say one thing while meaning another and then do a completely different third thing. This brings me unrest and discomfort.

 What do you think?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Planting Love & Trying New Food

 I got this little packet of flower seeds at work

And for some reason held onto them although we do not have a garden or anywhere to plant them.

 Coincidentally, while in Indiana for Easter, The Boyfriend's Dad gave us this cute little pot that can attach to a balcony. Perfect for our 2nd story back patio!

 We decided to plant these "seeds of love" today, because, well, who couldn't use more love?
How cute is he planting our "seeds of love" ? ;) 

My turn...

 Of course we both had to participate and fold our love into the soil in order for the seeds to get the full benefit and proper care :)

 Then we made a trip to the Farmer's Market, popped-top-style, because we were ultra low on fresh produce

and we walked away with two HUGE bags of fruit and veggies for only 25 dollars!  

 We promptly came home and washed and cup up the produce, and soon our kitchen looked like this 

We tried something new today from the farmer's market! An asian pear.

It said on the label "part apple, part pear", so knowing that, I was kind of prepared. The Boyfriend, however, didn't know that, and as we each bit into our own pieces, the first thought that came to my mind was apple, followed shortly after by the taste of pear. The Boyfriend, however, wrinkled his nose and said, "I'm not quite sure the asians know how to make pears".

It had such an interesting taste. Like I said, my first thought was apple because of the crunch, but the texture was like a pear.

 I can't stop eating that salad with red-wine-vinegar and olive oil as a dressing. I quickly threw together some of our new purchases: romaine lettuce, carrots, celery, radishes, baby bella mushrooms, bean sprouts, tomatoes, and onions. I drizzled red wine vinegar and olive oil on top, and voila! Beautiful, fresh, crisp salad for lunch.

 I know, my camera is getting super old and is either too bright, too dark, or blurry. I think this is due to it's age and not my less-than-phenomenal photo skills. I got it as a present when I was only 21 and, well, we all know how old I am now ;)

 In addition to trying the asian pear, we also tried something else new: Coconut milk!
While at the grocery store, I grabbed our usual almond milk, but was also drawn to the coconut milk. The Boyfriend is so great about trying new things and is always encouraging me to branch out, so while I stood there debating possible taste, cost, and what I would use it for, he kept saying, "Just try it. Put it in the cart. Just do it." We ended up with coconut milk and it is, of course, delicious. Like coconut milk ice cream without the extra sugar. The thing I am most pleased about, however, is the nutritional value:

I compared this side-by-side with almond milk, and although they are similar in most ways, coconut milk has 50% of our necessary Vitamin B12 intake! Wow!

 Vitamin B12 is known as the "energy vitamin" because it gives you energy by increasing red blood cell production. When people feel lethargic, tired, and worn down all the time, Doctors usually ask "Are you getting enough iron (or B12)?" Vegans and vegetarians are told there is no way to get vitamin B12 unless you eat the red blood cells of other animals (like red meat) but that is simply not true. One serving of Nutritional Yeast has enough vitamin B12 to cover you for the entire day, and now you can add coconut milk to that list, too!
 The typical daily recommended doses for vitamin B12 are as follows:
 Pregnant Females: 1.5 mcg
Lactating Mothers: 1.5 mcg
Normal Adults: 1.0 mcg
Young Children: 0.2 mcg

 Now we can all go tell our doctors we are vegan but yes, we get enough protein, and yes, we get enough B12! :) 

 What is the last "new food" you tried? For me, it was the asian pear and coconut milk this morning. Both were good, and I would (and will be) eating them again.
Do you find that you crave more fruits and vegetables in the summer months?  Spring has already come and gone here in Charlotte, NC, and now it is full-on summer. When I'm hot, I either don't want to eat, or I want juicy, light food, like fruit and vegetables. I forsee more salads and snacky-foods in our future and less dense, heavy dishes like I made through the winter. 
 What kind of camera do you use, or recommend? As I mentioned, I'm using my years old digital camera, and can't wait to invest in a nice camera! I'm thinking a canon s90 because it is small but with all the features of a bigger camera. Another friend suggested a high end Sony and I was looking into that one as well.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Determination, Dedication, Motivation

This afternoon as I set out for my run there was some doubt in my mind.
 Would I be able to run as far as I wanted to? 
Will I be prepared for my half marathon in time?

The sun was beating down on me and the temperature read 89 degrees. It was humid as all get out, too.
For some reason, a song by Kanye West kept playing in my head, where he says the words "Determination, Dedication, Motivation" 
and it helped me to continue running.
Something else I kept telling myself was what my old spinning instructor used to tell us:
"Tell yourself you can...Your body will follow your mind"

I found that continually telling myself "you can do this" and "you are almost there" helped me to continue running in the heat and humidity, and thinking thoughts such as "I'm never going to make it" 
and "it's too hot for this" made me slow down or want to stop. 

So many times in life we fail before we even begin because we tell ourselves from the start that we can't do it. I think our body really does follow our mind. 

Next time you feel like you can't do something,
try telling yourself you can,
and remember, as a wise teacher once taught me:
Your body will follow your mind.

Easter Weekend & Easy Salad

 Hello, and welcome back. I hope everyone had a great Easter weekend! And if you don't celebrate Easter, I hope you had a nice weekend anyway.

We spent our weekend in Indiana with The Boyfriend's family. It took almost 12 hours to get there this time because of accidents and rain. This little cutie spent most of the drive sleeping in the back seat:

But the long drive was worth it just to see these three smiling faces; The Boyfriend's niece and nephews:

We celebrated a belated birthday, had an easter egg hunt, and played with the kids outside.

This little guy spent a large part of the weekend attached to my side:

 And here I am with his sister-in-law, his parents, and his niece and nephew on Easter morning:

 On Easter Sunday we did some more traveling to a northern part of Ohio, where his grandparents reside in a retirement village. I got to meet his extended family on his Dad's side, including aunts, cousins and grandparents.
 Everyone brought a plate of food and The Boyfriend and I brought our mediterranean pasta salad, as planned:

It turned out good, as usual, and we thoroughly enjoyed it. The other main dishes included:

  • ham loaf, which is ham, sausage, and beef all mixed together in a loaf-like shape.
  •  a macaroni dish, which looked nice but was swimming in cheese and sour cream
  •  corn casserole, which is very good but made with cow's milk sour cream. I will re-make it with vegan sour cream and post a recipe. Only three ingredients necessary!
  • a delicious salad that The Boyfriend's Mom and I made
  • and lots and lots of candy. 
as you can see, we knew it would be important for us to bring something we could eat. I threw the pasta salad together the night before and put it in the cooler with the rest of the take-along food on Sunday. If you are vegan, and if you are going somewhere you know will have a lot of meat and dairy dishes, take something you know you can get full on. Never assume anyone else will bring something you can eat, like salad or even rolls. Most things have dairy in them, even butter. And a lot of times, people are quick to add meat in places it doesn't necessarily need to be, like bacon bits on a salad and ham in green beans. They either don't know any better or they don't know there will be vegans attending, and that's no big deal, so bring your own food and everyone's happy!

  After the big meal, Jill and I had fun putting together easter baskets and hiding them for her kids.

Then we told them that we came out of the bathroom and saw "something" hopping away down the hall. They tore through the rooms looking for their easter baskets and it was fun to watch. I think kids really do make holidays more fun. Then everyone, grandparents included, went outside and had a big easter egg hunt.

 Of course, Jill and I couldn't let the day get away without making a little of our own fun and having a little photo shoot. Here we are in the "ice cream parlor" making "sundaes" for no one in particular:

and then we sat by the cute popcorn signs and enjoyed our "sundaes"

 and again...

 All in all, it was a successful holiday, and by the end of the day we were so tired we could barely keep our eyes open!

 I wanted to share a recipe for an easy, delicious salad that we took to the Easter meal with us.
It's crispy, fresh, and has a homemade salad dressing on it that is fast and easy.

 Easy Delicious Salad
1 head of romaine lettuce
2 carrots
1/2 red onion or you can use chives
1/2 cucumber
5 or so radishes
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
salt and pepper

 Cut up all the vegetables and lettuce into bite size pieces. Mix olive oil with red wine vinegar and drizzle on top.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss salad. You can easily adjust up or down to meet the amount of people you are serving.  Everyone who tried this salad really liked it, and we re-made it today now that we are home and it came out just as good.

This time, we added tomatoes and used chives instead of red onions. You can substitute as you see fit. The key ingredients here are definitely the red wine vinegar and olive oil.

 Did anyone else have to bring their own vegan meals to an Easter get together? What is your favorite go-to recipe? Have a great evening, and see you tomorrow!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Happy Easter

Happy Easter! 

 Happy Easter, everyone! We have arrived in Indiana in time for Easter and now it's time for some fun! I have been "tagged" by the beautiful Kelly from Eat Yourself Skinny and now must create an Easter menu using only food from my blog. Hi, Kelly! Thanks for the recognition =)
 This is how to play this game: Each person tagged must create an Easter menu using 5-10 recipes from their blog. Drinks, appetizers, entrees, desserts, etc including pictures and a link to the recipe. Show off your food! I don't have any specific Easter recipes yet but will do my best to throw together this menu. It just turns out we are going to a pot-luck tomorrow so this will be practice for my actual menu and will include some of the food we are bringing =) 

 Lets get down to business! 

1) I'm going to start with some better-than-tuna-salad because fresh, quick salads like this remind me of Spring. Everyone who has tasted this salad thinks it truly is better than tuna salad. Enjoy it on crackers or triscuits as an appetizer.

2)  Salads are also good to start with so let's have a big greens salad: 
 romaine lettuce, radishes, carrots, peas, anything with color and crunch!

3) The main dish will be mediterranean pasta salad (and that's actually what we are really taking tomorrow for out pot-luck)

4) and since you always need dessert, I think this no-bake key lime pie would be perfect for the spring atmosphere and Easter mood! 

5) Some people don't like limes, or key lime pie, so an alternative dessert would be a strawberry smoothie:

 So there you have it! Now I will "tag" some other bloggers so they can create an Easter menu and share their recipes as well! 
Nicole: Fresh and Fit
Suzy: Suzy Eats

  Enjoy ladies, and again, Happy Easter everyone! =) 

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Junk Mail & Plastic Bags

 I knew when I started this blog that I wanted it to be about more than just food. While food is tasty to eat and fun to make, blogging about only food would be boring for me and probably boring for you, too, after awhile.

 The Big Personality is about my whole personality and life: I feel I have a dynamic personality and wanted to share my eco-friendly tips, my traveling experiences, the food I cook, and the vegan choices I make every single day. When I first started this blog I shared parts of my emotional side and ethical reasons for choosing veganism, including why I chose to be vegan and how we can all be more kind and compassionate each and every day. Posts that highlight those things include christianity and veganism and i am a witness. I then chronicled food for many, many posts and started a recipes tab. And now, to open and share a third part of my "big personality" I would like to talk about the environment.

 For me, it's impossible to be vegan and not be concerned about the environment. I am vegan for soo many reasons, but one big and important reason is for the environment. I think I have always been this way, because I remember watching PBS as a child and getting upset when I saw landfills and dumptrucks taking waste away. In my house growing up, if we wanted to watch TV we were only allowed to watch the learning channel, and since there were endless kid programs on PBS about recycling, reducing waste, and the harmful effects of all of our trash, I was haunted by pictures of polar bears drowning and landfills overflowing. I would stay up at night wondering how I could do more, and worrying about the fate of our planet. I thought it was a huge, major issue, (maybe even the only issue) concerning the world since that was all I saw on TV if I ever turned it on. Indeed, it is a huge issue, but when I hit high school and discovered there was more on TV than just PBS shows, I lost sight of what really mattered. Now that I'm older and can make my own decisions regarding recycling, food, and waste options, I am getting back on track and re-focused on what we can all do to help.

 Lately I've been reading Alicia Silverstone's blog called The Kind Life. She also has a book called The Kind Diet, which I haven't read, but plan to. I like her blog because it's really her, interacting with her readers and posting things that are important to her, mostly things about the environment and food.

 Since reading her blog, I have been inspired to re-think a few things in my every day life and would like to share them with you in hopes that maybe they will motivate a change in you as well.

 Junk Mail
I've always been annoyed by the amount of junk mail I get. Every day, loads of unopened envelopes go into our recycle bin, and even though I'm recycling, it still leaves me with a bad feeling. Why even mail it? Why create more waste? Then I saw this post Alicia wrote about gift wrapping, and I was actually motivated to change.
 In 2005, more than 41.5 pieces of junk mail were produced. It took more than 100 million trees to create all this bulk mail. That's the equivalent of deforesting Rocky Mountain National Park every four months. 
 That was in 2005- imagine what it's like today. Before you start hyperventilating and tearing up like I tend to do when I hear stats like this, remember you can make a difference, and I want to empower you right now to make decisions to stop the deforestation and maybe get some sleep at night knowing you have helped a little.
 Go to this website to find out how to stop your junk mail. It goes through 10 steps (not all of which you need to do) but all of which are helpful in stopping the junk mail. For instance, step one is remove your name from their mailing lists. Step two may not be necessary if you actually completely step one.
 After reading this, I felt better knowing that there is something I can do about all that paper that accumulates in my recycle bin. Yes, I'm recycling, but why even create the waste to begin with, and then create the labor it takes to recycle it, and the gas emissions of the dump truck who picks it up, etc etc.

 Plastic bags

Plastic bags have always bothered me, and I feel guilty every time I get one from the store. They are wasteful and most of the time end up in the ocean, where they harm marine life. They seem like one of the worst ways to transport things, and they almost always end up in the trash as soon as you unpack your groceries.
 For me, making a difference meant buying this reusable, durable cloth bag to transport my groceries in

That way, I am one less person who uses a plastic bag. If by chance I forget this bag and I'm running into the store for one or two items, I carry it without a bag or put it in my purse. It has made me aware of how many pointless plastic bags I used to use, and how often the cashier will give you a plastic bag for something small, like chapstick or a card. Waste, waste, waste.
 In addition, lead has been found in plastic bags. Alicica writes about plastic bags here and here, and I highly encourage you to read these short posts.

 What do you think about plastic bags and junk mail? Does waste like this bother you, or does it not? What is your favorite eco-friendly tip to reduce the use of plastic bags?

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Chicago Weekend

 What a busy few days its been! As I spoke of in this post about greens & traveling, I had a weekend filled with long car rides and visits to other states!

 On Friday morning I woke up and packed myself some food to take with me on the trip. My travel food included:
 peanut butter and jelly sandwich
 bowl of vegan overnight oats
 green smoothie

 When traveling, it's more difficult to eat vegan if you don't pack, but it's not completely impossible. On road trips I don't pack food, Subway's veggie sub is good, fast, and easy. I load it up with every vegetable on the buffet and don't even miss the meat or cheese.

 The trip to Ohio wasn't bad, it was 88 degrees leaving Charlotte and I had the top down on my convertible. Of course, as soon as I crossed the Ohio border it started to rain and all I could think was: how befitting of Ohio weather to rain as soon as I get here. I have yet to travel back up north in the entire year since I've moved and not had it rain or snow on the drive. So it had to rain or it would have broken my streak ;)

 I stayed the night in Ohio but since my day-night schedule is opposite, I didn't sleep a wink. I laid there all night and watched the clock tick from 11 pm to 6 am. I finally just got up and got showered and set off for another friend's house, where 20 girls met to carpool to Chicago.

 The weather is Chicago was frigid! It was snowing and we could see our breathe. Talk about a drastic change. We could not believe how cold it was. The weather didn't stop us from seeing the bean though:

For lunch/dinner we stopped at Subway because we needed something fast. We had to be showered and ready for the whole night by 5 pm, so we chose Subway because they had veggie options and it wouldn't take long. Upon entering the store I noticed a new sign:

Oh my gosh, falafel at subway! I couldn't help but be overjoyed! I was babbling on and on about falafel and how good it was (when homemade or from an authentic mediterranean restaurant) and even though I knew this wouldn't be as good, I had to try it! Three of the other girls decided to try it too! Alright now!
 I got mine with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and pickle. It came with a cucumber sauce which is traditionally called tzat-ziki sauce. You couldn't even tell there was no hummus or tahini because the sauce was so good. It was 6 dollars for a footlong sub, so I ate half and saved the other half for later. This is the inside of the sub:

 After lunch we headed back to the hotel to get ready for the evening. Getting ready with the girls was bittersweet. Although we were rushed and somewhat frantic, we were so excited and it was just like old times when we would all get ready together. It was like time had never even passed. We surprised the bachelorette with a limo, and then took a party bus/charter bus from bar to bar all evening.  It was a large party:

But soo much fun to get to be around all the girls who made my college days so amazing!

Some of my favorite memories of the weekend were getting to sight-see for a little bit with the girls I rode down with:

Being my "lil sis's" hairdresser (a position I have locked down) in the room before going out:

and dancing with the whole group at the 3rd bar we visited. We danced soo much that we had to stop and take a water break:

 Because I hadn't slept the previous night, I was a little afraid I would tire quickly. However, I took 3 of my green pills before I went out, and also gave three to my friend Stephanie, and we had no problem staying up. It was probably also partly adrenaline and excitement, but I wasn't dragging at all. When my head hit the pillow at 4 am, though, I was out like a light!

 The ride home from Chicago to Ohio wasn't as pleasant as the drive there because we were so tired, but it was still fun. We talked about the evening's events and laughed pretty hard. I was finally feeling the effects of being awake for 42 hours straight, so sleep that night came naturally and quickly.
 The following morning I drove back to NC from Ohio by myself. Now I am trying to catch up on emails, squeeze in some exercise, pay some due bills, cut up all the vegetables The Boyfriend got from the Farmer's Market, and get ready for work tonight. I work three nights in a row and drive to Indiana straight from work on Friday morning! What a month this has been/is still continuing to be! I like being busy, but I wish I had more time to entertain my readers with food pictures and recipes. I haven't cooked anything big lately, just been munching on raw vegetables dipped in hummus, making green smoothies, and trying to get a few hours of sleep! Has anyone made anything great lately that they would recommend for Easter? The Boyfriend's mom has been asking us what we want to bring and between being out of town and just plain not having the time because I'm back to work tonight, I don't think I'll be able to pre-make any extravagant vegan Easter dish!
  Here's to hoping there's some salad on the buffet table for us to eat! :)

Monday, April 18, 2011

Blogger Award

 I am super excited and flattered to have received my first ever blogger award! This one is special because it is actually 7 in one:

I am new to the blogging world and have so much to learn, but I am already addicted and love the food/fitness blogging community so far! 
 My blog friend Kelly has nominated me, and I want to say a huge Thank You from the bottom of my heart to her! Although she is not a vegan (gasp) she has changed my mind about being open to reading non-vegan blogs. She is such a sweetheart, so be sure to check out her webpage!

 In keeping with the blogger award, I have to say 7 things about myself that you might not know:

  1. I have wanted to be a nurse since I was three years old. I remember driving home from buying white shoes with my parents and my Dad saying, "They are white shoes, like nursing shoes," and the rest is history...
  2. I was homeschooled until middle school. So now you can throw your preconceived notions of "weird homeschoolers" out the window. I always had lots of friends, lots of boyfriends, and later joined a sorority in college. Not all homeschoolers are socially awkward! 
  3. I can't just "do okay" when it comes to school, I have to get straight A's and be perfect. In college, I decided I wanted to graduate Cum Laude with high honors in Nursing School, and I did!
  4.  I've never been interested in photography but lately I can't seem to stop taking pictures and desiring a really nice camera
  5. I know a lot of people say "I hate the cold", but I dislike winter sooo much that I moved down south to avoid cold weather all together. 
  6. I don't like to be bored and prefer to take on lots of tasks at once. In college I worked full time, went to nursing school, logged hours at clinicals, sat on Executive Board with my sorority, and was part of fall recruitment for the entire campus, all at the same time!! Now that I'm just working it feels weird.
  7. I used to smoke cigarettes (gasp!) See, people can change! 
So as a tradition, I must pass this award on to 15 other recipients who I believe deserve to be recognized. I have thought about this on the long drive to Chicago and decided that although there are so many great blogs out there, I wanted to recognize mostly new bloggers so they may have the chance to be seen and known. Personally, ever since I have been nominated my viewer stats have gone up, so I would like to return the favor. Some of the following 15 blogs are new, but they are great nontheless, and deserve to be recognized. We all had to start somewhere!

  1. Diary of a vegan girl
  2. Thin Thighs and Sweet Potato Fries
  3. Curry and Comfort
  4. Get Skinny, Go Vegan
  5. The clean eating mama
  6. My life as a raw vegan
  7. Ginger is the new pink
  8. Fruit and veggie tales
  9. The Domestic Vegan
  10. A plant-based, whole foods diet
  11. Dairy free betty
  12. Fresh and fit
  13. Peas and Thank You <-- ok i know she's not new to the blogging world but so hilarious!
  14. No meat athlete
  15. Busy Vegan Mama
So there you have it! Congratulations ladies and gentleman!
  I apologize for not being around for the past 4 days, but I was traveling through 5 states and back in 3 days, and well, I was living life with my girlfriends! More posts to come! :) 

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Greens Revisited and Good Eats

 Hey everyone! I just woke up from my daytime nap and feel so good to have three night shifts in a row behind me.
This weekend I'll be doing a lot of traveling:
To Ohio from NC,
to Chicago from Ohio,
back to Ohio from Chicago
then back down to NC from Ohio.
Not looking forward to all the time in the car but really looking forward to seeing my sorority "Lil Sis" who is having her bachelorette party in Chicago:

There will be about 25 of us traveling to Chicago for her bach party.  It will be fun to see my college sorority sisters and catch up, some of who I haven't seen since the last time we all got together for another sister's bachelorette party:

  Ah the days of drinking so much.. (or at least more than never) It will be interesting to see how my body takes it. Last time I had a drink it was on St Patty's day and it was only one draft beer and I felt so incredibly lousy for the next 24 hours that I decided it wasn't worth it to drink anymore. I'm not talking about feeling just a little lousy, I'm talking sick to my stomach, can't get up and do anything, slept for 16 hours, drowsy and sick-feeling. I think it's because I hardly ever drink anymore - (who has time when you're working night shift and sleeping in the day and training for a half marathon and blogging and cooking and etc etc etc) I've shifted to more clean eating, with most of my diet consisting of fresh vegetables and fruit and leaving a little room for whole grains and beans. When you eat like that and then introduce beer or liquor, it doesn't go over so well.  So I'll let you know how this weekend goes...

 I wanted to re-visit some information I gave on this post about green tablets. As you all know, I had been taking wheatgrass shots for almost two months now. I started blogging about them on Feb 26th and you can read about it here but basically the summary is that wheatgrass is good for you because

  • it is a raw, living, potent food. It is one of the most potent healing agents on the planet! The grass itself comes from the wheat plant when it is young, potent, and full of rich green chlorophyll. 
  • It contains 70% of essential vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that we need to live.
  • one shot is equal to consuming about 3 pounds of vegetables
  • it is a healthy, natural way to get a boost of energy without taking any caffeine.
  • Wheatgrass is good for the glands, tissues, tendons, kidneys, liver, hair, skin, and nails.
So at first, I bought the shots and was taking a serving of wheatgrass shots every day

What did I notice? My mood was the first thing. I was happy all the time and little things didn't make me cry or fly off the handle anymore. Even big things don't seem to make me upset. My energy level was the second thing. I didn't need coffee on my way into work, so that was one less cup of caffeine I was drinking. I didn't need coffee when I woke up in the middle of the day after working all night and only sleeping for 4 hours. My mental clarity was another thing. I was more focused, less anxious, less scatter-brained. Okay, so wheatgrass shots are the thing for me and I love them and I'm going to take them forever and ever, right?
I think I was kind of closed-minded in the way that I thought only the shots could make me feel good. I was reluctant to try powders or pills instead of the shots. However, the shots are kind of expensive, about 20 dollars for the pack of 20, and I was blowing through them since I took a serving each day, so I talked to the girl who works at the health food store and she suggested these pills

These pills were only 16 dollars for 180 pills, and it contains wheatgrass and barley grass, brown rice, chlorella and kelp. The serving says 6 pills per day, so the first day I took three pills in the morning and then my normal serving of wheatgrass shots. Each day I weaned more off of the shots and more onto the pills. Now I take 6 pills in a 24 hour period, and the schedule has been that I take three when I wake up from my daytime "nap" after working all night, and then again around 3 in the morning when I am at work and starting to feel tired. If I'm not at work I don't take this dose. 
 I was skeptical that the pills could make me feel as good as the wheatgrass shots. However, they have actually won me over and I am now a huge supporter of these pills. The girl at the healthfood store says that your body can get used to taking just one kind of thing, so to switch it up every month or so. Next I'm going to try another type of green tablet and of course I'll give you my my full review on those, but this month and next I'm going to stick to Kyo-Green. I cannot describe how wonderful it is to feel this good even while working night shift. I can still engage in life and even work out after waking up from my afternoon nap. It gives me more energy than coffee, but it's not a super high caffeine buzz. Anything that takes you up that fast will drop you down that fast. I used to drink caffeine because I needed it, and I resented that dependance. Now I take wheatgrass pills because they are good for me and because I know my body deserves the best. The energy I'm talking about isn't running-around-the-house shaking and talking fast and acting like I'm hopped up on crack. I'm merely talking about the sustained, even, clear-headed mental clarity and focus that I would expect to feel only after a long, restful sleep or a weekend retreat at a spa. Yes, that's how I feel each day: like I'm treating my mind to a relaxing weekend retreat at the spa. 
 Even though I was replacing my coffee with wheatgrass shots, every now and then I would get tired at work and have to have a small cup of coffee. Our bodies release melatonin naturally, and at 3 am it releases more, which is why 3 am is the dreaded hour for night shifters, and the quiet, peaceful hour for those who sleep through the night. However, the past three nights when the dreadful hour struck and I started to feel tired, I took 3 of my kyo-green pills and I am happy to report I did not have to take any coffee. This in turn resulted in me being able to go home and fall asleep faster and sleep deeper and more sound in the daytime because I didn't have the lingering effects of coffee in my system. This in turn results in me waking up feeling more rested. The conclusion? Coffee was ruining me for 24 hours even though I only drank it once in 24 hours. I thought if I drank a small cup around 3 am it would be wore off by 9 am when I tried to fall asleep. Yes, I did fall asleep at 9 am, but I would wake up around 11, 12, and then finally 2, and not be able to fall back asleep. Then I would be tired going into work and need more coffee to get me going again. A vicious cycle. No wonder I was so tired my first year working night shift! I have now replaced my coffee with natural, preservative-free, chemical-free, caffeine-free green pills and am feeling and sleeping much better. The next few days I am going to be awake during the day, and I'm excited to see just how good I feel during that time, because if these pills make me feel good and I'm working night shift, I can only imagine the happiness, energy, and clarity they will give me during the day! 

 That's a long discussion about wheatgrass/green pills, but I thought it was important to share how much of an impact natural eating can have on us all. I simply cannot dream up these results. No one is paying me to sell or promote these products. I started using them on my own and can't imagine going back to life without them. I never want to go back to my tired, sluggish, depressed moods. 

 In addition to taking the green pills, I wake up each morning/afternoon craving vegetables! What an odd thing. When you give you body good food, it craves more good food! 
The cool, smooth, refreshing taste of a green smoothie:

This green smoothie has one banana, half a lemon, and two cups of spinach in it. I've talked about green smoothies before in this post, but a re-cap is that green smoothies:

  • are easy to make
  • are an easy way to get your daily greens
  • kick off your metabolism and digestive system
  • In order to obtain nutrients from green plants, every cell has to be ruptured. Blending the greens ruptures the cells of the plant, making nutrients available for you that you would otherwise have to chew for three hours to obtain.
The piece of fruit in the smoothie completely covers the taste of vegetables. It may look green, but it tastes like a fruit smoothie (I usually do banana, or strawberry-banana, or apple)
There are so many people who have started drinking green smoothies and swear by them now, and you guessed it, I'm one of them! :) The benefits are simply so great and they are so easy to make! You can throw any kind of green vegetable you want into the blender: kale, collard greens, mustard greens, chard, spinach, dandelion greens. Of all these greens, spinach is the softest and will blend into the creamiest. Kale and chard is a lot thicker and takes a lot more blending. You have to experiment and try for yourself. Bananas are going to blend the easiest and taste the best, in my opinion. Apples tend to blend chunky and remember if you use apples skin them first! My first green apple smoothie was a complete disaster and I had to throw it away, and I hate wasting greens and apples :( 

 Green smoothies usually take the place of my dinner. They are filling and so good for you that I am usually not hungry after drinking one. The Boyfriend has been so great because he does all the cooking while I'm working, and usually packs my lunch for work too. These past few days we had a few repeats: 

Burrito bowls. You can find the full post and recipe on them here but they are basically better than Chipotle! Chipotle's secret is seasoning the rice and beans, and you can do that at home! Add cilantro and lime to your rice or beans. This time The Boyfriend mixed the beans with corn, onions and the cilantro, lime and cumin

Then layered in it in a bowl with rice, cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, and hot sauce. What a delicious burrito bowl! We find these are better than Chipotle's because at Chipotle we can't add cheese or sour cream, but at home we have our dairy-free versions and that makes it even better! 

 He also made hummus twice in the last three days for me

and I packed lots of veggies for lunch and dipped them in the hummus.

 On the third night of working he made one-pot self-saucing pasta

This dish is so creamy and good, although I did not take this to work with me because pasta would accelerate the tired feeling at 3 am. Instead I took more veggies, hummus, two pieces of fruit and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

 You can find all these recipes on my recipes page.  Let me know if you try and like them. In addition, tomorrow is Inspiration Friday! Please let me know if you have made any positive changes in your diet or have continued to eat healthy/work out, or if you have seen something that inspired you, (like a movie or a poster) or if you have read a good book about vegetarianism, or if you have heard a speaker or presentation, or had a good conversation with a friend. Anything at all that made you think, "That's great!" We should focus on the positive things going on around us because there really are so many! Sadly, this whole week I haven't been able to hear or see much except the walls of my hospital, so you all will have to be my ears and eyes for this week's post. Please let me know and I will shout it out in my inspiration friday post. 
I have to run, pack, and travel in the next 24 hours, but I will try to get a post out before I go.  Have a safe, fun weekend!