The Ones the Deer Missed

ImageThe garden delivered.ImageBig time.ImageIn pale periwinkles and plum-purplesImageand in bite-size, slice-size and might-size tomatoes.ImageThe plants, the sun, and the rain grew them.Image

And I’ll eat them : )

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Night

I’ve always loved the deepest dark; dark rooms, houses, and especially unfathomably dark skies that blot out confirmations of daily banality like cars and yards and driveways. It appeals to me like most instincts do—naturally, and although I’m sure there’s a more prosaic reason, I often feel that it’s because it indulges my tendency toward silence and introspection. At night, life relaxes into routined calm, and the parts that aren’t calm are hidden in the surrounding inky depths, making for easy ignorance. There are no distractions when your eyes can’t focus on shapes or colors. All that’s left is what you imagine there to be.

This morning was full of bulbous, moody clouds and it was still dark when I got to work. I was standing there thinking about how lovely the embrace of rain and dark gray is when my co-worker switched on all the lights. The artificial bulbs felt like an affront on some need for a natural progression toward light that the sky hadn’t given clearance for yet. An extra few hours of misplaced night is always welcomed, and I just wonder if people would be more content, or feel more balanced, if they were allowed to wake up when the sun wanted them to.

Waking up early has its own appeal, and I don’t doubt that having enthusiasm for a new day has it’s benefits. Morning is a good time to search for something nestled in yourself that needs finding again, but perhaps its a kind of introspection with a drop more enthusiasm built in. The morning bird clearly finds comfort in preparation—searching for that opportunistic worm, while most night owls prefer dwelling on the catch. In the end they both fly, but for now, all my devotion goes to my dark love, night.

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Winter’s Offerings

I read a quote in “Mother Earth News” tonight, and not an hour later it proved true—applicability is a trait this magazine does well in my life.

“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks” -John Muir

Tonight I was given the dreaded donkey-feeding task. Whenever my parents dole out this particular responsibility, eyes will inevitably roll. So I rolled mine, a necessary start to the job, put a coat on, and walked to the barn. Our jack, Merlin, has the personality of an over-sized, persnickety dog, and of course, he just wouldn’t be pushed out of the barn without a treat first, the treat being an animal cracker—a cruel, but funny donkey dessert.

When I was finished, the night felt so refreshing that my legs carried me not back to the house, but away. Two of our dogs followed, always eager for an adventure, and I felt my tail was wagging with theirs. Enthusiasm is contagious—even when the source runs on four legs. We ended up walking through the garden, which appears deceivingly barren in winter, and I couldn’t help but imagine the life under my feet. Although it was completely quiet outside, I could sense its energy-not rushed, as life often feels, but slow and steady as a  pulse. And it is a pulse isn’t it? Without the dedicated earthworms, the microbes, the rhizomes and the roots, dirt would be dead. But instead it’s a flurry of never ending activity that almost beats like a pulse, preparing the soil for the energy-sucking plants it’ll have to sustain come spring. The constancy of it calmed me and I felt, not energized, but peaceful, when I crossed the threshold of the door, back into the hustle and bustle of my family’s life inside.

John Muir was right. Nature always provides more than we ask of it, and tonight I felt it was the exact prescription for inner quiet.

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And The Results Are In! Drum roll please…

Dad’s Lab Info:

  • Total Cholesterol Before 28 Vegan Days: 209
  • Total Cholesterol After 28 Vegan Days: 149
  • LDL Before: 138
  • LDL After: 87
  • HDL Before: 52
  • HDL After: 45
  • VLDL Before: 19
  • VLDL After: 17
  • Triglycerides Before: 96
  • Triglycerides After: 87

My Lab Info

  • Total Cholesterol Before 28 Vegan Days: 190
  • Total Cholesterol After 28 Vegan Days: 167
  • LDL Before: 78
  • LDL After: 63
  • HDL Before: 97
  • HDL After: 91
  • VLDL Before: 16
  • VLDL After: 13
  • Triglycerides Before: 79
  • Triglycerides After: 65

Here’s a quick recap about what all those mean.

LDL=BAD cholesterol. Ideally this would be less than 100. Lower is better.

HDL=GOOD cholesterol. Ideally this would be at least 40. Higher is better-it’s protective against heart disease.

VLDL= very low density lipids- They’re also a bad kind.

Total Cholesterol= HDl+LDL+VLDL

For a other changes from the vegan, FOK diet, read this post :)

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My 28 Day Vegan Journey (a day late)

If I’ve learned something, as I certainly have, by only eating food with dirty roots, it’s the inter-connectedness or the smooth fluidity of the human body. What goes in detonates, like a nutritional bomb, and touches every plasmatic surface, every neglected and un-stretched muscle. It seems it’s true that all we need to know we learned in kindergarten.

With the leg bone connected
to the knee bone,
and the knee bone connected
to the thigh bone,
and the thigh bone connected
                          to the hip bone…

Whole grains, legumes, fruit, soy, nuts, berries, water and vegetables have been the mainstays given the rite of passage into my cleansed gullet these past 28 days (and some less honorable mentions if I’m being honest, like umm, a few Oreo’s), and my whole body feels like it’s been gently nudged awake from a sort of nutritional hibernation.

Going along with the allegory, the first order of business after sleep, is, fittingly, a trip to the toilet. Sure enough, the first transformation was in my gut. See: Grocery experience. This is the one “health benefit” of veganism I’m not sure I liked. Before this experiment I was already *ahem* using the restroom twice a day because I ate a lot of fiber. It was comfortable. But this past month? Let’s not even go there…it’s been a little excessive.

Next, waking up. Maybe for most people this comes first, but for me, open eyes does not equal “awake”. I’m not going to say there hasn’t been a single moment when a yawn has slipped out of my mouth mid-day, but generally I’ve had an abundance of energy-and if I have gotten tired, it’s because I work in a library.

Third, grooming. My skin has hardly required washing, and this is coming from a girl with acne. Not a cute little comically placed pimple at the tip of my nose every once and awhile kind of acne, the real deal. Again, I’ve still had to manage my acne, but my skin has become unbelievably dry. I tried using my acne medicine last night, but when I woke up this morning my skin was peeling. It’s been made obsolete!

It seems like so many things (and so many other smaller things I don’t have space to mention, like the fact that my eyelashes look like Brooke Shields’ in those Latisse commercials, or that my mouth doesn’t taste bad in the morning) are clearly affected by nutrition. I knew this before, but to see such dramatic changes, like with my skin, happen in 28 days, is pretty remarkable.

I’ll post my and my dad’s test results tomorrow for scientific proof, but for now, I’ll just sign off and leave you with the skeleton song stuck in your head. It’s a good one to remember whether you’re eating a salad or, perhaps, a delicious, creamy Oreo. What you allow yourself to eat will have an impact on your whole self. Whether or not I remain vegan, this is something I’ll never forget.

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Eating Out, Vegan

The past 26 days have seen little in the way of restaurant food. I can count on one hand…actually…one finger, the number of times I’ve eaten out. The sole occasion was that disastrous vegan sub at Subway, and that must have ruined the experience as a whole. But yesterday I had the treat of meeting a friend at the trendy, elegant-cafeteria style restaurant “Green Dog Cafe” here in Cincinnati.

The words “elegant” and “cafeteria” put together may seem like a paradox, but it was actually quite lovely. It was so nice to step into an establishment with just as many options for vegans/vegetarians/gluten-free people as not. As I ordered the “Green Chow Chow Curry-vegan style” I caught myself expecting some kind of smirk, or “oh, she’s one of those…” looks, but no such look was cast my way! It was great.

Their description for the green chow chow curry is as follows: “sauteed spinach and mushrooms, green curry, coconut milk, cilantro served over brown rice with socca”. It was delish, and there was so much of it!! Two meals at least. My friend got their fries for us to share, and I’m so glad she did! They were perfect. I couldn’t try the mayonnaise based dip, (unfortunate because she was practically drooling over it), but I did have the pleasure of dipping in the apple one, which tasted like

apple butter to me. I also indulged in some Riesling Poached Pear Sorbet (Jenni’s Ice Cream) which was light and refreshing. The perfect finish to such a filling meal, even if 5 dollars is a little pricey for a few scoops of sorbet.

Then today, I went to Chipotle with my family and got a burrito sans meat, cheese and sour cream. It hit the spot! Why didn’t I go here earlier?

 

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American Diner, Revisited

For dinner tonight, I had a vegan version of what you might find at a 50′s style diner. A burger, a side, and a chocolate shake. The burger was “Amy’s” brand. Very tasty and only requires a quick zap in the microwave. Can’t beat that. But the other two parts were my own creation-I’m proud of these!

“Buttery” Garlic Brussels Sprouts

  • Heat up 1 tsp vegan butter substitute (I use Earth Balance) and 1 tsp grapeseed oil on medium-high heat 
  • Slice the brussels sprouts in half. Do not cut the tough end off at the end or else the leaves will all fall off.
  • Place the sliced brussels sprouts, cut side down, in the oil and butter.
  • Chop up about 2 tbsp onion and add to pan.
  • Add 1 tsp chopped garlic, or two cloves chopped to the pan.
  • Once the onion starts to brown, add a tablespoon of soy sauce (maybe slightly more?) and let some of the liquid cook out.
  • Toss everything together and munch!

Chocolate Shake (approx. 390 calories, so I divided it into 2 servings and put one in the freezer)

  • Put all ingredients listed in a blender: 2 frozen and chopped bananas, 2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, 2 tbsp agave syrup, 1/2 cup almond milk, 1/2 cup soy milk.
  • Blend and enjoy :)
  • P.S. Total guesstimation on the amount of soy and almond milk. Basically add enough until you like the consistency. If you have a better blender than my family has, I would recommend only adding half a cup liquid and you’ll achieve an ice cream like consistency. This was phenomenal, I must say.

Notes: 

  • If you make half the shake recipe, add a handful of spinach that you surely will not taste, and 1/4 cup cooked oatmeal, and you have a healthy chocolate shake breakfast!
  • For the protein fiend/peanut butter addict, substitute the 2 tbsp agave for 1 tbsp peanut butter and add some truvia.
  • Vegan butter substitutes have MORE calories than butter does. True fact. The difference is that they have no hydrogenated oils, trans-fats or saturated fats. They also have omega-3 fatty acids and obviously are casein free. Woot! Still, if you’re trying to lose weight, just remember that they are still high in calories and should be treated as a bit of an indulgence.

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