Thursday, October 20, 2011

Vegan Week

I have been vegan for about nine days now. Why? Well, I found that I was getting tired, cranky, and my skin had lost it's glow. Not to mention that I'd just returned from a trip to Chicago, filled with Giordano's pizza, fried eggplant sandwiches, free bags of popcorn, and Wendy's frosty "parfaits." It was just time to clean up my game, buckle down, and roast some veggies. 

Coffee = good.
Coffee w/ fake cream and sugar substitute = bad.

The first few days were fun. I read lots of blogs, pinned tons of recipes on Pinterest, and got excited about the fact that quinoa is a complete protein. I bought tofu, dried beans, brown rice, almond milk, butternut squash, spinach, apples, ginger root, frozen berries, and anything else that was 1) not an animal product; 2) not processed; and 3) not sweetened with sugar, sucralose, aspartame, dextrose, xylitol, agave nectar, raw sugar, etc. (as in, no sweets). 

But then I realized....I was on a unprocessed vegan fast. 
Which meant no string cheese. 
And no strawberry jam on my peanut butter sandwiches. 
And no yogurt-covered raisins. 
And no cheese sandwiches.
And no nonfat lattes from Mama Carmen's.
And no Chick-Fil-A.
And no community group chicken chili or sugar cookies. 
And no Greek yogurt. :(

This was a hard reality check for me. And it continues to be as the days pass on, but I've finding some great alternatives. Did you know soy lattes are really good? And Thai restaurants serve a ton of vegan options? Though it's been challenging, I think it's for the best, as I am feeling tremendously better: my skin looks healthier, I feel more energized, I'm able to actually run outside without feeling like I'm going to die, and I am thinking much clearer. 

What are my staples? Well, here are some of the things I've had over the last nine days:
  • Breakfast - kamut brown rice cereal w/ almond milk and berries, fruit smoothies, pumpkin oatmeal, or whole wheat toast w peanut butter
  • Lunch - lentil soup w/ rye crackers, black bean burgers w/ pita halves and carrots w/ hummus, or minestrone soup
  • Dinner - brown rice and veggies, potatoes w/ vegan chili, or spaghetti w/ marinara
  • Snacks - Clif bars (my only processed snack, because they are delicious and nutritious at the same time), fruit, nuts, or hummus on toasted pitas.
Pita and hummus. Delightful. 

Brown rice with garlic-roasted butternut squash, tofu, and broccoli. 

I don't know how much longer I'll continue eating vegan. I'll probably go to the two-week mark and add in some Greek yogurt and cheese. But I really like the idea of eating conscientiously, making specific choices about the foods I'm choosing to put into my body. It feels good, and I'm learning a lot about what I need. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


I went to Chicago this past weekend with members of the children's ministry staff. We drove there in a white 15-passenger bus that just barely accommodated three guys, four girls, and stacks of luggage. Over the course of five days we learned a lot about each other, sharing sushi and slices of Giordano's pizza while laughing at one another's stories. It was a great time of personal and spiritual growth.

However, there was something missing...

It's good to be back home. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

For October

Sorry I left for so long. I promise it won't happen again (until the next overtly distracting thing occurs in my life...). Here is a post about my favorite season. I hope you enjoy.

So many wonderful things are planned for October. Autumn is, by far, my favorite season. I love the leaves turning various shades of orange, red, and gold. I love stepping out into the crisp chill of the morning. I love sipping pumpkin spice lattes with my favorite people. I love planning costumes and eating candy corn. It's all just a wonderful, glorious time of year. Here's what I'm looking forward to most:
Superman groom's cake.

Autumn weddings - I went to one this weekend, and it was lovely. A good college friend married her own personal superhero (complete with a Superman groom's cake), and I got the pleasure of knowing I played a role, however small, in their meeting. Another wedding is coming up in November, and I can't wait to go. I love weddings!

Candy corn - I had my first "kernels" this weekend. Twice. They are magical little bites of sugar-coated happiness. (Which is odd, because as a child I detested candy corn. Hated it. But now I find it delightful.)

Knitting - I've been invited into the Tuesday Night Knitting Club, where I am learning how to knit scarves, cowls, tea cozies, and hats for the crisp autumn weather. I learned how to knit last year when we went on a road trip to Michigan (side note: I don't like road trips), and I've actually continued to knit throughout the year. It's quite relaxing and, because of the season, quite practical as well.
My husband, on a random adventure.

Adventures - I'm amazed at the cool and random things John and I have found in our 15 months of marriage, and I can't wait to go on more fall adventures together. Last year we went to the corn maze, Eureka Springs, and Devil's Den, and this year who knows what we'll find driving or biking around...

Costume parties! - Yes, I am attending a costume/pumpkin carving party! Maybe two! And I am in dire need of ideas for cute couples' costumes. 

Autumn food - finding recipes for chili, soups, and other "cold weather" foods is a ridiculously time-consuming process, but thanks to Pinterest and a couple of awesome Facebook pages, I am all set. I did not realize how comforting a bowl of homemade chili can be on a cold autumn evening, but now I look forward to it! Especially when it's shared with our community group :)

Mama Carmen's latte
Lattes - I've found a few homemade recipes for pumpkin spice lattes that I've yet to try, but I must say Starbucks has the best PSL I've ever tasted. It's also the most expensive though, so it will probably be a very rare, but delightful treat. In fact, any warm coffee drink is delicious this time of year, and totally appropriate for the cooler weather. I am a huge fan of lattes, and Mama Carmen's makes the best ones, no question about it. I could drink 3-4 a day. (I'm not kidding.) They do something amazing with the milk so that it just foams up in and around the espresso in a fantastically creamy fashion. Mmmm.....

Pumpkin - I love pumpkin, and now is the time to bake with it. You can find recipes for pumpkin breadpumpkin souppumpkin cookiespumpkin smoothiespumpkin cheesecake, pumpkin rolls, pumpkin lattes, pumpkin ice cream...just about anything you can think up. So far this year I've made (or eaten) pumpkin cream cheese, pumpkin dump cake, pumpkin spice lattes, pumpkin fluff, and pumpkin cake.

Hot Air Balloons - we are planning a weekend trip to the Poteau Balloonfest! How much fun will that be!?! Both my parents and John's parents are going, and we may even (fingers crossed) get to sit in a hot air balloon! There will also be a dog costume contest, miniature airplane stunts, and carnival rides...I am excited. Very, very excited.