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Pre-Thanksgiving Gratitude

I totally forgot about Gratitude Wednesday until Heather reminded me!  So here we are.

I am so grateful for a short work week.  For the fact that I have a wonderful family to visit.  That I have terrific friends who I’ll miss while I’m away.  That I might have a chance to sleep late this weekend (I have not been sleeping very efficiently lately, for some reason).  I’m grateful for my whole beautiful life!

What are you grateful for?


It Is Still Wednesday

Whoa!  It’s Wednesday!  I’ve been too busy lately to think, much less write.  I had really intended to post a call for gratitude this morning but then I got distracted and I totally forgot.  So… happy HUMP Day!

Okay, I’m grateful for good friends and nourishing food and for being so busy with fun things to do with wonderful people.  And I’m grateful that I have several things I want to write about.  I’m hoping to make that happen at some point sort of soon.

What are you grateful for today?


HUMP it up!

Good morning!  It’s Gratitude Wednesday, so let’s go.

Today I’m very grateful for my health and the way my body works.  I’m grateful to love and be loved by so many wonderful people.  I’m grateful that sometimes I listen well enough to know what the right thing to do is and that I have enough support to find the courage to do it, even when it’s very difficult.

What are you grateful for?


Cheesy (vegan) Marinara

Remember a few days ago  when I said I was pretty much not at all tempted to eat dairy because I know how bad it will make me feel?  I totally stand by that but, even so, all weekend I was craving a big cheesy Italian mess.  The kind of thing that’s just a heap of ricotta and parmesan and tomato sauce, like a really messy lasagna or something.  The very kind of thing that I said I want no part of.

By the time I got home from work yesterday, I couldn’t stand it any longer.  Thus, I set out to make something to satisfy the craving but not set me back physically or ethically.  And I did it!  You guys, I really, really accomplished something.  I’m feeling even better about this vegan thing after the amazingness of my dinner last night.

Making “cheese” out of cashews is apparently pretty common in the vegan world.  There are a ton of recipes out there and I based what I did on several of them, most especially the Italian Pizza Cheese*  from Choosing Raw, which is my favorite website these days.  I didn’t plan ahead, which means my cashews got soaked for about 30 minutes, rather than two hours, but it worked out just fine.  My food processor does a pretty good job for me.

I apologize that there are no pictures.  I was hungry and excited and the whole thing was so quick and easy to make that I really didn’t have time to stop and document it.  Let’s consider ourselves lucky that I managed to measure a few things for you.  Here we go:

Cheesy (vegan) Marinara


1 cup cashews, soaked (preferably for two hours but do what you can)

juice of 1/2 a lemon

1 clove of garlic, coarsely chopped

1-2 teaspoons dried basil

1-2 teaspoons dried oregano

salt and black pepper to taste

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

1 1/2- 2 cups tomato **

1-2 teaspoons agave (or to taste)

1. Pour the water off the cashews

2. In a food processor, pulse a few times then blend together the cashews, lemon juice,  garlic, basil, oregano, salt and pepper, and yeast.

3. Scrape sides of processor bowl and blend again briefly until everything seems well incorporated and you’ve got a fine, crumbly mixture.

4. Add about half the tomatoes and the agave and blend again.

5. Add the rest of the tomatoes and pulse a few times (you want this second addition to stay a little chunky).

6. Taste to make sure it’s seasoned and sweet enough for you.  Adjust if necessary (you’re making this for your taste buds, not mine, so do what feels right to you). 

7. Use it in whatever way you see fit.  This might mean you stand there and eat it all cold, right out of the food processor.  It’s that delicious!

You can use this stuff in a variety of ways.  Mix it with more tomato sauce and put it over pasta.  Layer it with veggies, sauce, and lasagna noodles and pop it in the oven.  I sautéed slices of zucchini and polenta in olive oil (with a dash of crushed red pepper) then dumped my cheesy, saucy goodness in the pan and let it get warm.  I topped it with a bit more nooch (nutritional yeast) and devoured it.  I did manage to save half so that I could bring it for lunch today.  My food is always a popular topic of conversation around the lunch table at work.  Today when I sat down, my supervisor looked at my bowl and said, “that doesn’t look vegan!”  I had to let everyone have a taste. 

Gena at Choosing Raw talks about how the familiarity and comfort of our favorite foods have less to do with the most obvious ingredients and more with the way they’re seasoned and the way they make us feel.  For instance, a good pumpkin pie depends less on pumpkin and more on pumpkin pie spices and the way it feels in your mouth.  Likewise, my dinner last night depended on the garlic, basil and oregano, the tang of the lemon and yeast, and on the soft richness of the blended cashews .  I got all the comfort of a ton of ricotta and parmesan, without actually eating any dairy products.  It was exactly what I was in the mood for.  I hope you’ll try it and tell me what you think!

*It can be found here:  I am, for some reason, entirely incapable of making a hyperlink work today and I’d rather look technically clumsy than not give credit where credit is due.

**I used 1 1/2 cups of crushed tomatoes from a can because that’s what I had.  You could use crushed, diced or whole canned tomatoes or fresh tomatoes, without their skins or seeds.  The 1 1/2 cups makes a very thick sauce but you could definitely mix it into more plain marinara or just scoop some on as an additional topping to a pasta or vegetable dish.


Tasty Evolutions

There’s this weird thing happening with me.  I’ve been working really hard the past few months to eat as healthfully as I can.  I prepare most of my own meals myself, using whole foods ingredients.  I consume very few pre-packaged or processed things.  I stopped eating meat at the end of the summer, dairy was weaned out of my diet almost two months ago and I haven’t had an egg since October 9th.  I consume very little white or processed sugar.  It takes a lot of planning and care to eat the way I have been but I’m finding that it’s steadily becoming less work.

That’s not the weird part, though.  I think my taste buds are changing.   Yesterday, a coworker brought in some Halloween candy.  I grabbed a little bitty box of Red Hots, in a spirit of festivity (I checked online first to make sure they’re vegan).  Feeling all giddy about having candy (it’d been a while), I popped a couple into my mouth.  And… they tasted like chemicals.  Like something not real.  Like something I didn’t really want to be eating.  Now, true to my sort of ridiculous nature, I did finish them (old habits die hard).  I thought maybe I’d start enjoying them.  But I didn’t.  They continued to taste strange and I certainly didn’t feel better afterwards, for having consumed that much sugar.  It wasn’t yummy, it wasn’t nourishing, I didn’t like it.

The whole way I relate to food seems to be adjusting.  I thought that giving up dairy was going to be difficult.  I thought I’d be plagued by cravings.  And I was, for a couple of weeks.  But then I realized how much better I felt.  Once, I went ahead and had cheese because I wanted it and then I felt sick for days.  I’m beginning to understand how good this is for me and so I’m really not even tempted.  I see a big plate of nachos or an ice cream sundae and I equate it with pain.  I don’t want it.  Maybe it would taste good but it would hurt me and so it doesn’t really occur to me to “splurge.”  A splurge for me is the super delicious, super expensive organic dates I get at the neighborhood coop market.  A splurge is an extra handful of cashews or a can of pumpkin so I can make chocolate pumpkin frosting.  It’s food that tastes incredibly yummy to my mouth but also provides me with things my body craves.

I’m still, honestly, not sure how long my veganism will last.  I might very well go back to eggs if my body seems to need that (I love eggs but it’s a bit of an ethical issue for me at this point).  I know that the dairy is gone for good.  I feel way too good without it to go back.  I’m done with meat because not only are the health benefits (for me, at least) so monumental, the emotional incentives are huge.  And processed, sugary, sodium laden “treats?”  Again, I feel so much better without them.  I know that they used to taste good to me and I know that I have a long history of finding comfort in that stuff but… it’s not there for me anymore.  I’ve spoiled my body on the good stuff.  And I think I’ve spoiled my emotions on healthier alternatives, too.  Talking to a trusted friend, prayer and meditation, being of service to someone else.  These are the things I know I can turn to instead of a pint of ice cream.

I was worried, when I made the decision to move in this direction with my food, that it would be too restrictive.  That I would hurt myself with it.  I tend to take things to the extreme; I tend to be bad at moderation.  So I was concerned that this would be about denying myself pleasure (or crucial nutrients).  But it’s really not.  There are a lot of things I used to do that I don’t anymore because I’ve discovered they don’t make me feel good.  I don’t shoot dirty looks at strangers anymore just because they happen to be occupying the patch of sidewalk I want to walk over.  I don’t hang out with people who treat me badly  just because I’m afraid of being alone.  I don’t isolate for days at a time just because I’m scared of saying something stupid to someone else.  Those things hurt me, so I’ve stopped doing them.  Ice cream hurts me, so I’ve stopped doing it.

I love the food I eat these days.  I love the way it smells and tastes and feels.  I love planning and preparing it and savoring it and knowing how good it is for me, body and soul.  I’m not depriving myself of anything and I never feel like I can’t indulge.  Because sometimes I do eat way too many dates or a whole lot of pumpkin frosting in one sitting.  Sometimes I have to laugh at the huge quantity of kale I’m stuffing into the blender for my morning smoothie (and the trail of it I leave behind me as I putter around the kitchen).  Sometimes I think I’d be better off starting my own banana plantation.  But I know that while I’m enjoying these really delicious splurges, my body is getting all sorts of good stuff too.  And that makes me feel really amazing, all the way through.


It’s All Okay

Oh, man… I really neglect this poor blog.  I’ve had a really weird, emotional week so I’m going to sort of use that as an excuse.  I actually have an entry partially written that relates to some of the stuff I’ve been working on in my personal life.  The problem is that my feelings on the subject (forgiveness) are ever evolving and so I’ve been having a hard time putting my thoughts into words.  I’m interested to see what actually comes of it.

Anyway, today!  Today is Wednesday (HUMP* Day!) so I’m determined to bust out of the self-doubt and worry that’s been plaguing me for a few days.  I’m mostly blaming hormones for this.  It’s true that I am perfectly capable of feeling like crap about myself without blaming the timing of my body’s inner workings but I’ve been a little more caught up than usual in believing that I have the power to collapse the world by making less than perfect decisions.  Because, let’s face it, none of us can please everybody with every move we make.  I have to remember to just use my intuition and have faith that there’s something more powerful than me guiding my actions and deciding the final outcomes of stuff.  People can get mad at me.  I can wind up feeling a bit foolish.  The world will not in fact end in a blaze of angsty dysfunction.  It’s all okay.

It’s all okay.  And I’m grateful for that.  I have to constantly remind myself that I’m okay and that I am being taken care of.  All I have to do is my honest best.  I’m grateful that I can breathe and back off myself and let go of some of my self-doubt.  I’m grateful for the hole I ripped in my right palm on Saturday with the blade of my food processor.  It’s helping me remember to slow down and pay attention to my body and its needs.  I’m grateful for the way my heart beats harder when I’m scared or tired or hungry or overwhelmed.  It’s a reminder to spend a little more time just resting comfortably in myself and less time second guessing everything I do.

What are you grateful for today?


*Helping Us Muster Positivity


Be Grateful Just Because You Can

Happy HUMP Day, y’all!

Okay, let’s do this.  I’m grateful for kale.  Oh man, I’m so grateful for kale.  I’m eating so much of the stuff I think I’ll probably wind up looking like the Wicked Witch of the West very soon.  But I don’t care.  It makes me so happy!  I’m grateful for honesty.  I’m grateful for clear nail polish and for prayer.  I’m grateful for my job even though it’s being annoying as all get out so far today (and it’s still so early).

Help me be less annoyed- tell me what you’re grateful for today.  Please?


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