Gaining Clarity In A Vegan Life

You could easily argue that I picked the worse time of year to partake in a Vegan Challenge.  Strangely I never considered the approaching holidays.  I had already been thinking about eliminating meat and seafood from my diet.  The dairy thing was a last minute bonus.

I am an athlete.  Athletes are competitive spirits.  We like to win. Success is our addiction. The natural progression was to make the choice to take the personal challenge myself.  I went back to read more about plant-based living, and dove in.

Update.

In three days, December 14, 2017, I will celebrate two months of a plant-based diet!! Yay!!  It has not been a struggle. Since the challenge, (and one slip up in early November), I have dined out at several wonderful restaurants. Hubby and our dinner dates devoured meat but I was cool and passed on it.

Lately, my hands roam the spice rack with a strong desire to add a punch to ordinary food. My latest infatuation is turmeric in my veggies! Below is a delightful dish of turmeric cauliflower. Eat them as a snack while watching a movie or a good game of football (as I did when the Eagles won) or add them to your dinner plate.

img_6446

My infatuation with turmeric leads me to a new discovery… I bought two heads of cabbage and, in a pan,  layered most of the cabbage with sweet onions and other seasons. All of the cabbage did not fit in the pan. Creativity kicked in and, before I knew it, my hand was on the turmeric. I hesitated. Maybe curry. No. Turmeric. I ran out of onions. But added one jalapeño pepper, freshly minced garlic, season salt, and olive oil….covered and cooked on low.

Dang or Yay!! I’m laughing out loud because I added too much turmeric and needed a starch to absorb some of the spice. What’s a cook to do? I added some leftover brown rice to the pot, a little more garlic powder, (God forbid it’s bland), and stirred well. The pan was drying out so I poured a little (about a half cup) of low sodium vegetable broth.

img_6476

The dish looked pretty but lacked protein. Garbanzo beans would make a perfect addition but I was out of them. I did have one can of organic black beans. So I rinsed them well and added them to the rice and cabbage.

img_6478-1

This was delicious!!!

img_6479

img_6484While rummaging through the fridge, I found two large sweet potatoes. Since the oven was on, I quickly peeled them, cut the potatoes into large chunks, melted coconut oil, sprinkled a dash of cinnamon, nutmeg, and stirred them well. I placed them in the glass dish and baked uncovered at 400 degrees for about 50 minutes.

Folks!! Chile!! Peeps! The coconut oil enhanced the flavor of the sweet potatoes and they were unbelievable!!! Even hubby liked them. 🙂

Last night’s dinner was a hodgepodge of freshly cooked and leftovers, which brings me to an important point. If you’re going to attempt a plant-based diet or any new diet plan, you must have extra food on hand. And when I say extra I mean the type of food that’s in your new plan.  If you don’t have food prepared, at some point, you’re going to get jammed up and will end up with a setback. Even if you have a setback, they are normal… Don’t look back–look forward!!

Above is my post-leg workout meal from yesterday morning. Steel oats, coconut almond milk, blueberries, and plant-based protein. A side of zucchini bread and homemade cooked apples.   I finally decided on a plant-based protein.  It’s much lighter than the whey protein. The vanilla flavor is milder than what I previously used.  The biggest difference is I’m used to buying a 5 lb. tub for $47.  This one was $37 and is just over a pound and half.  Yikes!

 

Overall I continue to feel well. As a result of the Vegan diet, I have not noticed a change in my performance at the gym and wasn’t expecting a change, but only time will tell.  As far as my physique is concerned, in the past week, I have lost inches not pounds.  I am paying close attention to muscle development.  Why?  I want to participate in another figure competition.  It has been a few years and although I am older, my body remains conditioned–I am confident that I can do well in another competition.

I know that I am not getting enough calories but that has nothing to do with a vegan diet.  Moving to a new state and not working outside of the home has me feeling discombobulated. I am used to a busy and jammed-packed schedule. But now, I don’t have that.  The free and unstructured time is negating meal-prep and my routine of eating every three hours. Perhaps I needed the six-month downtime because it has been one hell of a year.  Selling one home, buying a new home, moving south with hubby, our son, and my mom.

As a result of my vegan diet, in a previous post, I wrote about having more clarity.  I realize that for the first time in my life, I can do anything I want–I mean, I don’t have all the restrictions of a 9-5, my son’s football scheduled, or hubby’s work schedule.  I’ve also figured out that to accomplish my personal and professional goals, I must add structure and discipline to my new lifestyle.

Now I can easily do some of the things I have always wanted to do– I wouldn’t be honest with you if I didn’t tell you that chartering unfamiliar territory (again) is still scary.  But so was walking on a stage in 5-inch stilettos, wearing an itty bitty suit and years ago, quitting a job without another one and vacationing in Disney, but I did it well and landed on my feet.

I am living as I encourage you and everyone around me, and this is to live mindfully.  It may sound like a fad or a cliche but I assure you it is not and takes focus and practice.  Doing so will heighten your hedonic capacity–your ability to experience positive feelings.  In less than one month, people will be absorbed by the hype of celebrating the New Year.  My New Year already started, I couldn’t wait until January 1, 2018.

We are hosting Christmas dinner at our home but are expecting fewer than the 31 family members who filled our home for Thanksgiving but we’ll still have a house full. 🙂  Meanwhile, I am scouting out both vegan recipes and dishes for the carnivores (without judgment).

Making it through Thanksgiving was relatively simple; I don’t foresee a challenge during the remaining weeks of the year. While I’ve given up meat, seafood, and dairy, I continue to indulge in my favorites… 337 , Darkhorse and a few others.

Until my next post…  Smooches!


Why You Should Eat A Dish You Hated As A Child

Life’s ironies are surprising.  Childhood repugnances grow to become adult favorites.

Recently grabbing a bag of Lima beans and placing them in my shopping cart had me cracking up.

IMG_5131

Because as a child, if you told me Lima beans were being served for dinner, my face became contorted and jacked up. Without throwing shade to any of the cooks in my past, no matter who cooked Limas, they were dry as hell.  But you knew not to complain; that was never an option.

I’ve decided to make an attempt at veganism again.

I am NOT discouraged by failure.

In 2016, for three months I was successful with a vegan diet.  I am not sure exactly why I started eating chicken and turkey again.  But I do remember having concerns about protein intake. In bodybuilding, protein intake is a crucial element to building muscle mass.

To be successful this go-round, I am better prepared and have 1.  Read more articles like this.   2. Substituting more plant-based protein then I did before. I have plenty of vegan recipes pinned to my board on Pinterest. 3.  Instead of overwhelming myself with an “I will never eat meat again” goal, I have set weekly goals, will plan better, and allow for hiccups.

So today I cooked the Limas in the crockpot.  I forgot to measure the seasoning and broth but it’ hard to go wrong and its more about getting the flavor that you enjoy.  Cooking beans are easy.  I don’t bother soaking them.  I toss everything in the crock-pot and cook on low for around  6 hours or cook on high for 4-5 hours.

  1. 1 lb bag of  dry beans
  2. 2 Jalapeno peppers (1 is fine).
  3. Fresh ground ginger
  4. 1 large sweet onion (chopped)
  5. Freshly Himalayan sea salt (or another salt)
  6. Fresh ground pepper
  7. 1 1/2 boxes of low sodium vegetable broth (enough to cover the beans because you don’t want your beans to dry out)

I know, I really have to learn to measure my food.

After the beans soften up, taste test and add seasoning to your taste and enjoy over quinoa, brown rice, black rice, spaghetti squash or something else.

 

IMG_5134

Crock-pot Prepared

 

Mmm… these Limas are moist, delicious and healthy.  Considered a “Fiber Allstar,” only one-cup of Limas are packed with 29 grams of protein. Read more about Limas here.

If you’ve hated these as a kid, give ’em a try, you might like them now. I do!

 

 


Try this quick and healthy dish

Now that I am retired, and although I am not quite settled,  you can expect to hear more from me more than you ever did in the past. Yay!

I want to share my lessons with you and to improve my writing. One way to get better is to write more frequently.

Sleeping past 4:30 a.m., my old morning ritual, is doing my mind, body, and spirit well.

After the gym, I felt a strong urge to whip up a nutritious meal in the kitchen.  Of course, my new kitchen is fabulous and enhances my cooking experience. I thank God every day.

If you keep vegetables in the fridge, you can always put together a fast meal.  Even if you think you can’t cook, I betcha that you can do this!! 

When I opened the fridge, I did not know what I was going to cook.  That said, check this out…

Mushrooms, sweet onions, freshly ground black pepper, garlic powder, crushed red peppers, and olive oil sautéed in a pan.


My new and simple toy. A George Foreman grill.


Unseasoned natural turkey patties. I buy them when they are on sale and keep them in the freezer.

Since I am shopping in a new community and at new grocery stores– Kroger and Publix, I am feeling my way through the aisles, looking for healthy food items at the best prices.


I recommend buying meat unseasoned because you can control the amount of sodium and other ingredients.  Here I sprinkled freshly ground pepper, a dash of sea salt and a little Cheyenne pepper.


I planned to make a kale salad, so I had a bunch of kale already cleaned in the fridge. I grabbed two handfuls and tossed them in a pan with onions. Sprinkled with the same seasoning, except the Cheyenne pepper, they cooked for less than 10 minutes.


Finished product- two turkey patties smothered with mushrooms and Vidalia onions (no gravy, sauce or additional condiments needed), next to freshly sautéed kale.

There is no way possible that you can convince me that you can’t cook this. Give it a try and please tell me how you made out.

Besides this dish is an ideal post-workout meal, it’s an easy meal prep idea, as well as dinner.  I could take this turkey patty to a new level but the idea was to be simple.

If you don’t eat turkey, sub with beef or seafood. If you’re a vegan, have the mushrooms over quinoa.  There are always options, the main idea is to put your creative hat on and have fun.  Cooking shouldn’t be serious.

After lunch, I unpacked more boxes.

As I write this from my cell phone, I’m getting a much-needed pedicure. My feet are tired.

I worked legs this morning at the gym and the hardwood floors at home make the bottom of my feet and ankles hurt.  I recovered a few years ago from a severe case of plantar fasciitis. I should not be walking barefoot on hard surfaces but I am a woman with island roots so I love to walk barefoot!  Hahah! But no more. Tomorrow I’m buying footwear that is it strictly to wear at home.


Singing… “It’s Our Anniversary!”

Books of all genres are published yearly and in various sizes.  Some books are small with a few chapters while other novels are written with over 700 pages. Novels can be captivating, heartfelt, insightful, emotional, adventurous, and enchanting; the list is endless. I can use many of the same words to describe the many chapters of our 34 year relationship.

anniver1Today we celebrate 29 years of being best friends, husband, and wife.  I don’t take the years lightly because when marrying at a young age, the odds for a happy and long-lasting marriage are stacked against you. I purposely use the word “happy” because a lot of couples are married and even for long periods of time, but they are unhappy.  Think about it.  How many times have you heard of marriages of 20 years long, ending in divorce?

Two years ago, I wrote Happily Hitched For 27 Years.  I listed 27 lessons that I learned from our marriage.  Last year, I added to the list and blogged Happy 28th Anniversary Us.   Yet I continue to learn new lessons. If you are in a relationship, married or have intentions of marrying, you should read my posts and share my lessons with your family and friends. I wish somebody had a told me these things beforehand.  Sure, we all make mistakes but some lessons can be learned from the mistakes of others.

As we celebrate our 29th anniversary, we are humbled and grateful that we are merely here to celebrate as one.

This time last year, I could have never predicted where we are today. 🙂

This month, we begin a new and exciting chapter of our life.  Hubby retired and I am on his heels– less than two weeks but who’s counting?  Lol! We put our beautiful home, our friends called “The Resort,” up for sale and it sold within 24 hours. Yikes!!A later post will provide more details.

My point now is to say that the strength of any relationship comes from having faith in one another and commitment to the values established the relationship.  Mutually Inclusive in the values are trust and honesty; which are the makings of any good relationship.

I’m told how “lucky” I am because I have a “good man.”  Well, he’s lucky too, because he has a “good woman.”  ☺

“The most important decision about your goals is not what you’re willing to do to achieve them, but what you are willing to give up.” -Dave Ramsey

Outsiders only see the fruits of the labor in the garden.  They never witnessed the sowing of the soil or the grueling work of kneeling in dirt pulling weeds for extended periods of time in the blazing heat.

In our case, some folk only see the homes, the cars, the vacations, and other stuff that really doesn’t matter. We are rich in health, love, family and loyal friends, but not one of those have anything to do with money.  We work like everyone else.

For 11 years and while working a full-time job,  I worked on my undergraduate degree. Hubby was supportive, encouraging, and picked up the slack at home.  Back then, vacations weren’t in our vocabulary. Someone once told me that I was “crazy for stressing myself out trying to get my degree.”   But… this same person didn’t hesitate to enjoy a margarita in the jacuzzi.  Smh…   They are no longer in my life.

Much earlier in our relationship, when hubby did not rank high enough on the fire department’s civil service list and wasn’t hired, he was crushed.  I stood behind him and pushed him to train and to study harder.  He may have doubted himself but I believed in his childhood dream of a career as a firefighter.  We wanted our own place but realized that we couldn’t afford it, so I lived at home and he lived with his sister.

When we decided to buy our first home (early 90’s), we needed to save a lot of money. We both worked full-time jobs and part-time jobs.  We never ate out.  We stopped buying snacks at Wawa (convenient stores in Jersey).  We only bought necessities. I remember wearing a nice pair of black pumps to work. The bottom sole was worn and there was a small hole in the bottom of the shoe.

I put cardboard inside my shoe so my foot wouldn’t be exposed to the ground.

Our jobs weren’t high paying but we sacrificed and worked our asses off.  In one year’s time, we exceed our goal of saving $7,000 and saved just over $10,000!

These are only a few of many examples of the sacrifices we’ve made and examples of how hard we worked for our family.

I didn’t sit back and expect him to do for me and he didn’t sit back and wait for me do everything.

Let me tell you, the grass always looks greener on the other side but you don’t know what folks are doing to keep that green and plush grass.  So as one of my favorite podcasters says, Keep your eyes on your own paper!”

We’ve both dealt with colleagues and/or so-called friends trying to entice us to cheat and that becomes messy.  Some couples rebound from infidelity while others do not.  It’s just not worth the agony that comes with it.

Marriage is a full time job.  Add kids to the mix and the job is even harder but we made it thus far!  🙂

We’re busy as hell right now but will reap the benefits of our labor later this month and as the year progresses.

Today we’ll celebrate by going out to dinner to one of our favorite restaurants, reflect on the past 29 years and pray for 29 more happy and healthy years.

Happy Anniversary to us!!

anniv2

Early 90’s

anniver3

Hubby’s 20th High School Reunion

anniver4anniver1