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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Summer Salad Fun

Summer salads are a staple over here, especially with all the lettuce and great veggies I have been getting through my CSA.  I thought I would share what I have been throwing in mine the last week. I have been selecting a few of these each day, mixing and matching whatever I have in the refrigerator and whatever catches my current mood.  I find that I do much better with eating salads when I have some options to mix and match throughout the week.  Nothing is worse than making yourself eat boring salads!  I also like to switch up from plain green salads to grain salads and bean salads too.  I just don't do well eating the same thing every day! So here is this week's salad bar in my frig:

Basil pesto (recipe below)
Roasted red peppers
Green onions
Goat cheese
Whole wheat couscous
Dried cranberries
Cooked split peas
Canned chick peas

Monday: pesto, split peas, chick peas, chopped up lettuce, roasted red pepper, dried cranberries. I threw some goat cheese in, but I would have rather had some Parmesan on hand and some extra pine nuts.  Oh well. Next time!  This was more of a bean salad, not a green salad.

Yesterday:  cooked couscous, pesto, roasted red peppers, couple globs of goat cheese and some dried cranberries. It was a nice grain salad for my lunch.

Today:  I had more of a green salad with a big bed of lettuce and tossed pesto, roasted red peppers, green onions cranberries, goat cheese and tomatoes.

Basil Pesto Recipe:

I made a big batch of this on Monday and then continued to toss in my salad for the week.  I found that with this and the goat cheese, I had no need for dressing!

1/3 cup pine nuts (you could switch with pepitas or chopped walnuts too)
1 cup packed basil leaves
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 small jalapeno, seeded and deveined
2/3 cup olive oil

  1. Toast the pine nuts in a toaster oven. Or you could put in a frying pan and toss until toasted.
  2. Blend basil, garlic, lemon juice, and pepper in a food processor (with a splash of the olive oil).
  3. Once blended, slowly add the olive oil while the processor is blending until comes together to a nice sauce.
  4. Place in airtight container and use on your great salads for the week.

Some Tips

  • Cook up a batch of a grain early in the week, put in a container and keep in the refrigerator.  Add to salads as a topper throughout the week, or make up a grain salad whenever the mood strikes.  Farro, barley, quinoa, couscous, and even rice works well.
  • Make a batch of homemade salad dressing and keep in a container for the same purpose.  I like the 3-2-1 balsamic recipe from the Engine 2 diet book (3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons dijon or brown mustard, 1 tablespoon maple syrup).  This week I did the pesto instead.
  • Grab some fun add-ins that "coordinate" beets and goat cheese with walnuts, or tomatoes, cucumber, and mozzarella.  You want to make sure that things will taste well together or the mix/match idea doesn't work as well.
In health and summer salads,
Nicole Harter

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Vegan Challenge Wrap Up

My vegan challenge has come to an end.  It ended a while ago actually (on June 15th) but I have been crazy busy with the end of the school-year shenanigans, vacation, my brother's move and some other things. So, I wanted to do a little bit of a wrap up before moving on to other things.  Needless to say, I am not longer following a vegan diet.   There are a few reasons I plan to discuss, but first, I do want to point out the things I liked about going vegan:

Things I Liked about Going Vegan

  1. Being dairy free.  Dairy as a condiment is okay, but I don't think we should consume as much as we do as a culture.  There are strong links to increased cancer risk and tumor growth, and believe it or not, an increased risk of osteoporosis in cultures that consume high amounts of dairy. I know it is very counter to what we are taught with needing all that calcium!!!  Much healthier to get your calcium from greens where it is balanced with other vital nutrients like magnesium! 
  2. Learning how to bake vegan. I never thought I could do it, but some of my recipes came out so good that I may not go back!  I liked skipping the butter and milk. And, now I know how to bake when I am all out of eggs or if someone I know is allergic to eggs! I don't think I would have taken the time to learn without this challenge!
  3. Skipping dessert or junk food while I was at parties.  It was nice to have an "excuse" to skip the junk foods.  For some reason it was a lot easier to eat healthier while I was out because I "couldn't" eat it.  I had a lot more will-power.  So where is that will power now?  Good question that I plan to blog about soon.

Reasons for Going Back

Reason 1
I felt very limited and I got bored fast with the food options I had.  I know many people don't feel limited as a vegan because you really can do a lot without meat/dairy/eggs. However, I did feel even more limited as I am allergic some nuts (namely almonds and hazelnuts). I am allergic to avocado. I also cannot eat a lot of fresh fruits (apple, pear, cherries, nectarines, peaches, plums, and strawberries) because of allergy issues.  I hope you see where I am going with this...I have a lot of limitations to start and adding the limitations of no meat, dairy, or eggs was just too much for the long haul.  I was getting kind of sick of beans, lentils, and soy products!

Reason 2
I actually gained a pound and a half the first week because I was super hungry.  I cut out sugar and cut my portions the following week to drop it again, but I was hungrier than normal.  

Reason 3
I don't like soy because I don't believe it is healthy. And honestly I don't like the taste or how it makes me feel.  I think very small amounts of soy in a fermented form is fine--a little bit here or there of tofu, miso, natto, soy sauce, edamame.  However, I think consuming large amounts of (processed) soy as a mainstay of your diet is not necessarily healthier.  Since my diet consists of mainly "real" foods and I attempt to avoid as many processed foods as I can, I felt as though I was almost taking a step backwards in my healthy food attempts.  I know many vegans would disagree with me here, but I guess that is just how I feel. I think anyone interested in soy and it's pros/cons should research for themselves and then make their own decision on the matter.

Reason 4
I am not all that morally opposed to eating animals.  I AM opposed to abusing animals and causing long-term suffering to animals, which is why I attempt to avoid spending my money on meat, eggs, and dairy that comes from any sort of factory farm environment (I purchase meat/eggs from local farms). However, I don't have really strong feelings to completely stop eating animals.  I admire those who have strong feelings and follow their heart and truly make change by voting with their fork, and I suppose I try to do that on a smaller scale by buying animal products from local and humane sources.

So there I have it...I guess I thought maybe if I tried it then I would be able to truly see how I felt about the lifestyle and whether or not it "fit" me.  I guess it didn't really fit, but you never know until you try and now I know!

In health and happy experiments,
Nicole Harter

Monday, June 10, 2013

Anniversary Restaurant Review: Craigie on Main

Four years ago on May 24th, 2009, my husband and I got married.  It was such a great day.  Good food, friends, family, and a great memory to start our journey together.  Each year we sit and talk about what we should do on our anniversary to celebrate our life and relationship.  We have this list in a spiral journal of things to do in our lives, kind of like a bucket list, but also a list of dreams and memories.  We have silly things, like "play dodge ball," expensive things like "tour Australia," sentimental things like "teach Sam to drive," and difficult things like "Car accident".  I would highly recommend sitting with your partner and creating such a list.  It is good for a couple of reasons. First, you know how to surprise your partner with special dates and experiences that maybe you would never know they wanted to try!  We have things listed that we put down a couple years ago, so if I plan something I can truly surprise my husband with something I know he wants to do but we haven't discussed recently.  Secondly, when we check off an item we record the date.  This allows us to keep track of a lot of memories and dates and special times and moments we have shared as a couple.  We even added surviving hurricane Sandy and getting in our first car accident, so now we can look back when we are 80 and see what we have been through together...good, bad, and ugly!

This year we consulted "the list" and decided to go out to a nice dinner in Boston (since next year we are planning to knock off a trip to Napa/Sonoma).  We had originally decided to head to the top of the Prudential and have a nice meal.  We were thinking the food would just be "okay" but the view would be spectacular, we could get some seafood, and have a good reason to get all dressed up.  It has also been an item on the list since our earlier dating days.

The week of our anniversary, however, I was talking with a friend and she mentioned her "husband's restaurant".  Well to clarify, the one he works for in Cambridge.  She told me all about how the restaurant uses all locally sourced and organic foods from farms.  She said they have a "tasting" menu where you basically sit and have them bring out whatever the chef has in mind (they take into account allergies and food preferences, etc).  She explained some of the meals she had there and it sounded so much more exciting as an anniversary dinner.  It definitely sounded more like "us"  (organic and adventurous) than a steakhouse in Boston, so we switched the reservation and that is how we ended up at Craigie on Main in Cambridge.

We are so glad we decided to switch.  The weather was um...pouring (to put it lightly).  I am talking like torrential downpours.  I am sure the view from the top of the Pru was a little less nice that evening than usual.  We will save that list item for another date.  Craigie on Main also had valet parking, which was really handy on this particular night!

So here is what my husband and I thought of our adventurous night out to Craigie on Main (keep in mind that this was our "cheat day" from the vegan challenge):

The atmosphere is nice and the dress is business casual.  I felt like I could dress up and feel a little fancy, but it wasn't stuffy or pretentious.  When I go to steak houses in Boston (Grill 23 for instance),  I feel like I could "mess up" and that I don't really belong.  I feel almost judged!  Craigie on Main didn't feel like that at all.  I felt comfortable, welcomed, relaxed, and excited! No snobbery.

The service was fabulous.  Maybe a little on the side of more-fabulous-than-usual because my friend told the staff we were coming as friends of his...but fabulous none-the-less (and they seemed great to surrounding tables too).  When we walked in, we got the best smile from the hostess and I felt like she was genuinely excited that we came.  She brought us back to a cute little romantic table (that wasn't on top of the next table over).  They brought out an "anniversary toast" right away with some sparkling wine. So special!  The wait staff, food runners, etc, knew everything about the food.  We were not rushed through our meal (and we had 6+ courses!) and they genuinely wanted to know how we liked everything, how the wine was going with the food (which they happily paired for us) and let us be alone in between courses to enjoy each others' company and savor our meal.

The food was truly memorable and delicious.  We ordered the six course "Tasting" menu because we wanted to enjoy the adventure of it, but they had a really nice pre-fixe menu that changes based on the day's food and availability (which is why the menu is not specifically posted on the website).  Highlights on the food included sushi-type courses like rainbow trout with horseradish sauce, pickled mackerel and mullet with a pea shoot coulis.  The main course was brought out by the main chef himself, Tony Maws!  I knew it was him because I had seen him on a clip you can view here.   The main course was a beef tenderloin wrapped in bacon with white asparagus and roasted carrots on the side.  It was divine.  I don't really even like carrots and these were divine.  I would have to agree with the waitress who quipped "Everything roasted in duck fat tastes good".  Yes. It. Does.  We also tried white asparagus ice cream with anise.  It doesn't sound  like asparagus and ice cream would go together, but it did here!  It was sweet and definitely tasted like asparagus.  The main desserts were also good (they brought two different ones to try), an ice cream with chocolate soaked in espresso and some sweet fried dough balls with caramel and a dipping sauce. They brought another little treat after the dessert, but I was way too stuffed to taste it.  Again, delicious food that I couldn't make at home!

All in all, a great meal. Memorable and fun and right up our alley!  I will mention that we couldn't go there often because it is a bit pricey.  The pre fixe meal was more reasonable price-wise than the tasting menu, but we splurged because it was a special occasion!  However, we are SO glad we did and it was worth every penny for such a great anniversary memory!  I highly recommend this restaurant and hope to be going again someday for another special occasion!

In health and culinary adventures,
Nicole Harter

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Kale and White Bean Soup

Today's recipe is something I threw together this past week on a chilly day right after the rain came and cooled off that heat wave. Light for summer, but warming because it cooled off so quickly.  My husband really loves sausage and greens together.  A couple of years ago I realized that you can get a little bit of that flavor by simply adding the fennel without the sausage!  So here is a little vegan version of kale and white bean soup--no sausage, but added tempeh and fennel to replace it.  I also added some pureed beans to thicken it up!

Kale and White Bean Soup

2 Tbs olive oil
1-2 spring onions chopped (regular is fine here)
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
8 oz pack tempeh
2 tsp fennel seed (ground up with a mortar and pestle)
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
2 cans white navy or cannellini beans
1 bunch kale
6-8 cups water or vegetable broth, depending on how soupy you like it.
Salt and pepper

Heat the oil and saute the onions until they are soft.
Add the garlic and tempeh and then the fennel and brown for a bit.
Add the carrots vegetable broth and bring to a boil.
Boil for a bit until the carrot cooks.
Mean while, puree 1 of the can of beans in a food processor.
Wash and cut the kale into strips.  Remove the hard stems if you don't like them.
Once the carrot is a little tender, add the kale and can of beans that you did not puree.
Simmer until the kale is nice and wilted.
Add the pureed beans and bring back up to a simmer.  This just makes the soup a bit thicker.
Serve with a piece of bread or toast to make a nice meal.

Add ins--potatoes, celery would add a nice touch too!

In health and soupiness,
Nicole Harter

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Getting Stronger

In my excitement about the vegan challenge, I have neglected to talk about the other "thing" I have been working on, which is "getting stronger".  

Got this photo from Microsoft Word's Clip Art

I am out of shape and there is no need to sugar coat it.  In the last three to four years my pattern has been pregnant, nursing, pregnant, nursing.  During this phase of my life I didn't do nothing (walked and swam a little bit) but I am not strong. I am not in shape. I even had to go to physical therapy after the birth of both my youngest kids because my hips and shoulder were thrown "out of whack" by pregnancy.  I am not completely "let go," but I am not where I want to be in terms of strength and endurance and muscle tone.  I want to chase my kids and play basketball without being winded.  I want to get stronger so I can be the best mom I can be.  I wanted to be able to clean the house top to bottom and still have energy for my kids.  I want them to see strong, healthy parents as role models.

Last year when my cousin's son was 8-9 months old, she started doing the Couch to 5K program. She got in great shape.  I was jealous!  It wasn't "mad" jealous, but more of a "so happy for her and totally inspired" kind of jealous!  My other cousin who blogs her journey here , is also an inspiration.  She somehow finds time to work out multiple times a week and she has 2 small kids younger than mine!  Then, I also see these ladies Erin Sinar and Jessica Weiderhold, who are friends of mine from high school who are really strong!  So, while I am not trying to promote one program or another, I just wanted to share multiple sources of inspiration to show you that there is not ONE way to get in shape or get strong. I think you find something that #1 you like, and #2 that works for you long-term.

When I was in high school, college, etc, my main form of exercising has been primarily running.  I always defaulted to running.  It is portable (I can do it anywhere).  It is stress-relieving.  I really enjoy getting out in nature, soaking up some sun, and clearing my head with a nice long run.  I miss it.  I didn't realize how much I missed it until I started doing it again. 

When disaster struck on Patriot's Day in Boston (a couple days after my daughter turned 1), I started to really consider running again.  I have always had such respect for marathoners.  Committing to running so far and finishing is such a great achievement.  I had kind of always hoped someday I would have a chance to run one.   How could I run one when I can't even run a mile anymore?  Yuck, I couldn't even run a mile anymore.  Time for change.

So, while I made excuses for a couple more weeks I ran into another mom of a child in my son's class.  She was walking the track during our sons' soccer practice. She mentioned the Couch to 5K program. Hmm...time to look it up online since that is another person mentioning the same program.  I looked it up that night and started the next day.  The program only requires that I run 3 times a week.  Three times per week is totally doable!  It also starts reeeeally slow.  I needed reeeeally slow.  Baby steps man.  If I started too hard and got completely sore, then I wouldn't want to do it anymore.  I also did not want to re-injure my hip, shoulder or foot (long story with 6 weeks in a boot).  

It's 5 weeks later.  I just did a 20 minute run to finish out "Week 5" and it felt SO good.  I am so happy to be moving again.  I am less stressed and feeling much better.  I am hoping to get to the point where I can run 3-5 miles again without feeling like I am going to fall over.  I may even sign up to run a couple of local 5K races.  Running is step 1 in my journey to "getting stronger".  I am starting to think and pray on toning and muscle work too, but I haven't landed on anything.  When I do, I am sure I will share as I continue on my journey.  

So what do you love to do?  Rollerblading?  Bike riding?  Dancing?  Zumba?  If you like it, then you will stick with it!  Do something you like to do, a few times a week.  Start slow, but start.  You will love it, I promise.  And if you don't, then pick something else!

In love and exercise,
Nicole Harter

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Just to Clarify...

Yikes... So this blog was "born" when I was pregnant with my second son and I was blogging about all things pregnancy (hence the name "Baking a Healthier Bun in the Oven").  I think it is time for a name change to go with it's makeover....especially since someone was thinking I had "news" and thought I was pregnant because of my last post--my first craving!  Which related to the first craving I have had since starting the vegan challenge. I should have been more clear. I am NOT pregnant!  

What do you think? Name change? I think so...

Topics will include health and wellness, recipes, parenting stories, and my spiritual journey which happens to be Christian.  I know some people aren't as into things spiritual, but that is how I roll, so you can skip those posts if you don't like them!  

So comments on new name ideas welcome.  I will be thinking and processing and hopefully change it soon. In the meantime, enjoy my non-pregnant posts!

In health and hilarity,

First Major Craving on the Challenge

I woke up this morning daydreaming of eggs, bacon and cheese on an English muffin.  A whole wheat one...but still...I think it is because I saw a picture of an adorable child on Facebook yesterday holding her "own egg sandwich".  So, in this case, I think it is a "random thought that has taken root" and become a craving kind of craving, instead of a "my body needs this" kind of craving.

So, what to do?

I made something similar but totally different.  I figured I needed some kind of English muffin sandwich.  I am out of tofu and tempeh at the moment, so I improvised...

Morning Breakfast Sandwich

hummus--whatever flavor you like (lemon would have been great but I only had plain)
handful of fresh spinach
Ezekiel English muffin or similar
sea salt

1. Toast English muffin to your liking.
2. Meanwhile saute your spinach.
3. Slather both sides of English muffin with hummus.
4. Place tomato on one side. Sprinkle with sea salt.
5. Put the spinach on the other side and salt if needed.
6.  Put together and eat.

This was surprisingly satisfying.  Could be a great snack or lunch too!  Just enough like a breakfast sandwich to take away the craving, but still within the confines of what I am doing here...and much HEALTHIER too!  So, even without the challenge, this is a super healthy option!

In health and breakfast sandwiches,
Nicole Harter

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Eating Out Vegan (Indian Style) and some Quick Meal Tips

Today is exactly 2 weeks into my 30 day vegan challenge!  

The latest development in my vegan challenge is my adventure in going out to eat as a vegan for the first time.  My sisters and I planned to go out to Indian place in Cumberland, RI, called "Flavours" that my little sister has been raving about. I was super excited to go out, but I have to say, I was a little timid! My usual meal at Indian restaurants are chicken tikka masala, and shrimp saag, which are both definitely not vegan. In anticipation, I looked up the menu online before I left. They had a great vegetarian selection (as many Indian restaurants do), but I was a bit unsure about the milk/egg/ghee free options.  The menu wasn't all that clear about whether or not they were "creamy" or whether they use ghee or oil.  I looked up some vegan blogs to see if they had any suggestions and I was happy to see many places have vegan curries and samosas!

When we got there, I felt a bit shy saying "I am vegan" so I started off by just asking about a select few options that we were thinking of, which were samosas and a chickpea salad and asked whether there was any meat or eggs or dairy in there.  This was a mistake.  Once we asked about a couple of items and he went back and forth to the kitchen, my sister just out and told the guy "She is vegan, what do you have?" and he was much more helpful after I guess my take-away is just to be honest and ask nicely up front and it will be okay!  So after this development, the helpful server offered a different salad option and some other options and we had an excellent meal!  We ate samosas, whole wheat vegan naan, alu tikka, alu gobi with basmati rice, and cucumber salad!  We shared family style and passed everything around the table and we had a really nice meal.  My sisters were understanding too (one of them is a vegetarian anyway!)  We will definitely have to go out more often (because my sisters are awesome company) and now that I know what options I have, I know I will be back again for more Indian!

Speaking of Indian food, I do want to share a quick meal that I made the other night when I was a bit short on time.  I had bought a "simmer sauce" from Whole Foods called "Madras curry" by Maya Kaimal.  I threw a can of chick peas, a couple of boiled cut up potatoes, and some frozen peas in there.  I simmered them all together in the sauce for 10-15 minutes and served over whole wheat couscous (quinoa or bulgur would have worked great too).  I mention this because it was a super quick, easy, healthy meal that I whipped together in less than 20.  I sometimes hear how difficult it is to put together healthy meals when you are are shorter on time, but it doesn't always have to be that way!  Here are a few things I keep on hand to help me when I am in a rush to throw together dinner:
  1. Whole wheat couscous (5 min cook time).
  2. Quinoa (15 min)
  3. Whole wheat pastas
  4. Simmer sauces
  5. Jarred tomato sauce
  6. Canned beans (I buy the Eden Organics- no salt and use kombu in it for easier digestibility). Black, kidney, pinto, navy, garbanzo, aduki are among my favorites.
  7. Frozen veggies--spinach, corn, peppers, peas
  8. Tofu
Any of these can whip up into a quick little meal that is healthy and delicious!  Enchilada sauce, wraps, and canned vegetarian refried beans makes a nice quick meal too!

In health and appetizers!
Nicole Harter

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Rules!

Happy Monday! I figured it was my challenge, so I could do what I wanted with the rules, but thought I would share just in case someone was thinking of trying it and didn't know what it would mean to try going "vegan".  I wanted to keep it simple so I that I would stick with it, so for a first timer I am being a little lenient on myself.

Here are my "rules":

  1. No meat or meat products (e.g. no chicken broth or gelatin, in addition to just "meat").
  2. No dairy or milk products.
  3. No eggs.
  4. No seafood.
  5. My cheat day is May 24th (my wedding anniversary and the day when my husband is taking me out for a fancy dinner).  Maybe that sounds "soft" but I am going to enjoy a nice no-restriction evening with my husband to celebrate our relationship and not feel bad at all!!  
  6. I wanted to do a full 30 days, so my start date was May 14th and my last challenge day is June 14th, which will net out to 30 days when you subtract the cheat day!
  7. Honey is allowed. I know it is an animal by-product, but...I am just not there.
  8. My challenge focus is on only food.  Veganism as a lifestyle that extends well beyond food, into health and beauty products with animal products and animal testing, clothing (wool, fur, silk, leather).  I am limiting the challenge to food-only.

Today is day 7 of the vegan challenge, and I really honestly don't miss anything.  I am really shocked actually.  I thought I was going to be starving and cranky and wish I could eat ice cream and eggs and curse myself for even thinking I could try something so "radical".  Radical is what I thought I would be doing, but honestly, it feels a lot less scary than how it was playing in my head before I started.

In health and happy Mondays,
Nicole Harter

Friday, May 17, 2013

Day 4

So far so good!  I am feeling highly energetic and optimistic!  I had enough energy to exercise and make it through the day today (which is saying a lot since my daughter woke us up around 5 AM).  I even got through some yard work, played tennis with my 10-year old, and went out for some socializing this morning. So I didn't sit around eating vegan bon bons!  

Today I thought I would expand a little on the thought process I went through to get to this point. Since I went through my reasons to try "go for it" yesterday, I wanted to touch on all the fears swimming in my head that almost prevented me from even thinking about it. 

Here were my reasons for NOT going vegan:

  1. I have "high protein" needs.  I will get way too hungry. Especially since I am a nursing mom...Okay, in school I saw a speaker who was a 200 lb ex-rancher who was vegan and talking about it's health benefits. I have also read some professional athletes are vegan...if they can work it, I can work it with my "high protein" needs.  I did decide to wait until baby girl was pretty close to weaning so a dramatic shift in eating wouldn't affect my milk supply.  We are close enough, so far no issues.. And, surprise, I am not that hungry...and when I do get hungry...I eat more!  Imagine that.
  2. There won't be enough for me to eat.  So, I do not think I am alone in this fear of being vegan.  But in addition, I am allergic to some nuts (almonds, hazelnuts, macadamia, black walnuts).  To further reduce my pool of foods to eat, I also don't believe in eating soy dressed in meat clothing.  Soy bacon?  Tofurkey?  Soy cheese? Doesn't really interest me, and I see them as processed foods, which I seek to avoid.  I don't mind a properly fermented soy product like tofu or tempeh, miso, soy sauce, tamari, etc., but I don't think soy milk is all that natural. some ways I truly am limited.  I recognize this and question the long term prospects of being vegan for this reason. However, I can do it for 30 days to start!
  3. I love baking too much.  Thanks to my friend Alexis, I have some really fun recipes to try! Two books worth!  Turns out this is going to be a fun challenge!  I made some vegan chocolate cupcakes this week that rivaled my normal recipe!  Sweet!
  4. Eggs.  Yeah, I have a thing for farm fresh eggs.  For some people it is cheese. I like eggs. Daily.  Long term this may or may not be a problem.  But, it may turn out that I stick to some things and not others. Time will tell.
  5. Seafood.  I like seafood even more than I love eggs.  But I eat it less often as a daily routine.  So this may not be a big deal since I won't miss on a daily basis.  
  6. Ice cream.  I love it.  I think I got the gene from my Grammy Shirley.  Luckily there are a bunch of other things to try...we'll see!  I can make some sorbets in my ice cream maker in the meantime.  Summer fruit is coming!
  7. It isn't natural to have to supplement a whole nutrient that basically only comes from animal products. (vitamin B12).  Turns out my multi-vitamin (that I was taking on/off while nursing) has plenty of it.  So I will continue to take it until done the challenge.  I have issues with supplementing anyway... that I could write a whole post about...but I am not going to hijack this one.
  8. I have heard of people being vegan for long periods of time and becoming unhealthy and malnutritioned.   There I said it.  I have personally talked to these people.  They are highly educated, so I do not believe they "weren't doing it right".  But you know...30 days won't do that and I will cross that bridge if I ever get there. I am doing my best to read information on balancing my needs and I think I will be safe...a lot safer than the guy who ate McDonalds for a month that's for sure.
  9. What if I hate it?  Um...then I can stop.  Haha, this one was pretty dumb.
  10. What if I love it?  Then I will have to change.  Change is hard.  I am still almost scared of this one.
  11. My family may criticize me.  Some of them will. Some of them won't.  Put on your big girl pants, Nicole, and ignore the nay-sayers!
  12. Going out to eat is not going to be fun anymore.  This may be true, but I rarely go out since I have little ones.  I am also going to admit that I am not including May 24th in the "challenge" and I will further explain in my next post entitled "The RULES".
So those are most of the things I was scared of when I started thinking about this...I am sure there are more, but that covers a lot of ground.  So, if you have being thinking about the prospect of trying vegan and you have some of the same fears/roadblocks/reasons, know that you are not alone.  And, while most of them (as you can see) are unresolved for me.  I am going for it anyway.  Why not?

In health and reasoning,

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Back to Blogging...

Wow, it has been 2 years since I last blogged.  What a difference 2 years makes!  Since my last post, I have had a baby and she is now 13 months.  Levi is 3 now and keeping mommy on her toes!  Being a mom of 3 with 2 so close together in age has rocked my world.  My 10 year old is busy with all his school work and extra curricular activities.  The little ones are very demanding, so what time does mommy have to shower, exercise, read a book and spend time with her husband, much less blog?  Now that the baby is over a year, things are starting to settle and I have been getting antsy to write again.  So, here I am.

My Great Vegan Experiment

So, what do I have to talk about?  Well...the thing on the top of my mind that I will be talking about for the next, oh 30 days, is that I have started a 30 day Vegan Challenge.  WHAT?  Vegan?  Nicole?  Are you kidding me?  Half of the two-person audience of my blog has closed the window and thought, "how lame".  But, this first post is going to be my reasons for trying it. So thank you if you are the one still reading :)

My reasons aren't very heroic, and some of them are pretty selfish...but here they are anyway:

  1. Boredom.  Honestly, I am getting bored with the food lately.  And I find when I change it up and restrict myself a bit in one area, than I am forced to experiment and use my imagination to expand in other areas.
  2. My friend Alexis.  She is always posting vegan articles and things on Facebook and her passion is sorta contagious.  Now, I initially would roll my eyes a little (sorry Alexis) and since I get all my meat from a farm and really opt out of the majority of factory farmed meat, I thought I was covered.  But lately I have been questioning my resolve--when I go out to eat I eat mainly fish--but sometimes I cheat. And dairy? And eggs?   I eat my home eggs from farms, but I am sure the local restaurant down the street doesn't.  Where DOES that come from?  Some of the very places I seek to avoid I suspect.  So I have been pondering this as well.  AND she sent me a couple of books.  Can't fight that, right? Now I have no excuse!
  3. Health. My husband is off dairy. I am not.  I know I should be due to it's adverse affects on my life. Also because of all the studies I have been reading linking it to cancer.  Yuck.  Time to readdress it.  
  4. My waistline.  I know, so vain.  But having 2 babies in 2 years is not usually kind to most of us in the areas of our waistlines...and hips...and thighs.  I know some women who bounce right back!  But, sadly, I am not one of those women!  I was slim (for me) when I got pregnant with Levi, now I am up 12-13 lbs.  I eat healthy but I can't seem to get my metabolism back on track and drop the last few.  I know some of it is hormonal, especially since I am not quite done nursing, but I think doing a vegan "cleanse" of sorts will help me get back on track with fruits, veggies, fiber, etc...I keep you updated on the weight thing as time goes on.
  5. My energy.  I am tired!  Kids will do that to you.  However, I know getting my diet on track will help with the diet-related lethargy too.  In the afternoons I have been turning to sugar (which doesn't help with #4).  I know it can't overcome all the sleep deprivation from the last 3+ years, but I think it will help!
  6. To do it.  Really, I have tried dairy-free and gluten-free, so why not try vegan?  If I ever have someone interested in it, I can help them find resources and know what I am talking about!  I like to help people explore food and how they affect their I usually begin with experimenting on myself!  This is my great vegan experiment.  
  7. My pastor is now vegan (I think mostly for health reasons).  Weird reason for me, right?  We chatted at a little get together and he was talking about it.  It kind of struck a cord with me and I noticed a lot of other people around me. I started paying attention to my friend Alexis' posts and I met a woman at bible study right after that who is vegan--strangely I never saw her again.  I think it's the Holy Spirit's way to kind of nudge you along.  So I started hearing about it through other people and then I heard the little voice inside prodding me along.  So, I planned on doing it ever since (this was back in December).  I woke up on Tuesday of this week and knew it was the day!
  8. A fun bonding thing with my mom.  She has been dabbling with it on/off for the last 6 months.  I figured we could do it together!  She has a couple of awesome books with some good-looking recipes.  Should be a good time!  
I told you the reasons weren't all that heroic.  I am pretty excited to talk about it...the good, the bad the ugly.  Hopefully it won't get too ugly :)  

I hope the last couple of years have been treating you well! 

In health and veganism,