My First Overnight

[Oats, that is.]

Perusing some new and some of my old favorite vegan blogs yesterday, I ran across an idea.  Overnight oats.  Never heard of them?  Do a search on Pinterest.  Oh, sometimes I loathe technology but in this instance I like it very much.  There is a wealth of cooking and creative inspiration at my fingertips.

So, I kept seeing posts about overnight oats and I decided to try a variation of a pumpkin recipe.  Since it’s Fall, and pumpkins are everywhere, and mostly because I had a can of pumpkin in the cupboard that I wasn’t quite sure what to do with.

Here’s what I used:

1/4 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup canned pumpkin

1/2 tbsp agave nectar

1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 tbsp chia seeds

splash vanilla

sprinkle of Vega Sport vanilla protein powder (about 1/3 packet)

cinnamon, ginger, ground allspice – just dashes and splashes of each.

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Mad scientist-ing at the zero hour.

It smelled WONDERFUL.  I put on a “Best of Beethoven” CD I purchased at a discount store years ago. I love Beethoven. Classical music in general, pairs extremely well with creative endeavors, in my opinion.

In theory, all these ingredients, once given a good stir, settle and mix and mingle and expand and absorb flavors overnight, and become something brilliant for breakfast.  I had my doubts.

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The finished product.

So this morning I woke up and made a bee-line to the fridge.  I was hungry and curious and hopeful.  I got a spoon and took a big bite.  How was it?  In a word, disappointing.  Texturally it was satisfying.  The chia seeds were new for me, and I love texture in my foods. That’s actually one of the perks of eating vegan/vegetarian. The variety of tastes and feels is sometimes overwhelming. (In a good way.)

I have two theories about why I didn’t like the oats.  First I’ll say they did settle and absorb quite nicely.  Again, texturally I have no complaints.  I think I didn’t love them because 1) I don’t love pumpkin and 2) I am not a fan of cold things for breakfast.  What’s that you say?  “Well if you’re not a fan of pumpkin, what were you thinking making pumpkin oats?”  Astute of you.  I was actually hoping to form a relationship with pumpkin.  I believe in it, as a healthy food.  I know there’s a way to sneak it into some things, but this particular dish for me was a fail.

Positive notes: I think if I make the same dish with sweet potato, I will knock my own socks off.  Particularly if I am able to heat it up.  OR I was also thinking of adding banana.  Creativity begets creativity.  Can’t be bummed about that.  I did also eat this, even though I wasn’t into it, because it’s packed with nutrients and I do not waste food.  Never. Waste. Food.  It’s a thing with me.

So much of cooking and creating is trial and error. I’m honestly feeling that this was a positive experience.  Would I recommend this recipe?  Not unless you are a pumpkin fiend and really like the flavor.  Otherwise, I’d say add something that will mix well or even overpower the pumpkin flavor. It was just too much for me.

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My Growing Vegan Pantry

(Not to be confused with the following post at Oh She Glows:

My Vegan Pantry

However that one is one of my favorite blog posts, ever, and I highly recommend viewing it.)

I am pretty committed to meatless eating.  This way of eating is not exactly new to me, in fact it’s my “default” get-well from a cold diet, feel better when I’m in a slump diet, clear up my skin diet, sleep better diet, faster workout recovery diet, make sure I’m regular diet… it’s THE best way to eat, I am sure of it.  WHY it’s taken me so long to make it permanent, I couldn’t say.

The commitment part of this is new to me.  I’m used to storing away thoughts, way in the back of my mind, that I can have diet soda any time.  I can eat a big, juicy hamburger if I want to.  I don’t know why this kind of thinking comforts me, but it does.  I guess it’s because of the freedom – or perception of freedom – is something I need psychologically.  Breaking away from that will be challenging, but it’s helped by how good I feel being vegan.

The more I eat this way, the better I feel.  Physically, see above.  Lots of benefits almost immediately.  Internally, spiritually you might say, I feel lighter. I feel enlightened. I feel joy.  There is some serious smiling going on over here, and sometimes I can’t even help or explain it.  Yes, I’m sure it’s because of cutting out animal products but no, I cannot explain how I know that.  Just take my word for it.

So tonight I took a couple of pictures.  The first one is a cell phone picture of the “beginning” of my new pantry.  Here it is:

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Tri-color couscous, wild rice, quinoa, oats.

I am SUPER excited about this.  Perhaps disproportionately so.  I took the next couple of photos while preparing my food for work tomorrow:

Banana, kiwi, orange, and medjool dates.
Banana, kiwi, orange, and medjool dates.

This is my afternoon snack.  It’s fresh and alive, full of nutrition and nourishment.  As much fruit as I might have eaten in 2 or 3 days before.

Steamed green beans, ripped spinach leaves, kidney beans, steamed zucchini and steamed squash, tomatoes, and some Amy's veggie soup on top.
Steamed green beans, ripped spinach leaves, kidney beans, steamed zucchini and steamed squash, tomatoes, and some Amy’s veggie soup on top.

This is my lunch.  With these two combined I’m eating 10-12 different types of NOURISHING, nutritious, plant foods.  Now, as these photos illustrate, I am what I have come to call “guerilla vegan”.  Meaning, my style is less organized and more, “throw lots of flavors in a bowl and wolf it down”.  I don’t slice precisely, I don’t measure or count anything, which I think is fantastic. That’s just what I do, I know everyone has their own style, but this works for me.

This weekend I hope to get out and pick up more vegan “staples” and start organizing my spice rack.  One of the best things about eating vegan or vegetarian that I’ve yet to mention?  The cooking.  OH, the culinary places you’ll GO!  Places you never even knew existed or that previously only existed in your wildest imagination.  At least, this has been my experience.

So… what’s in your pantry?  What’s your “go to” staple?  What’s the best “quickie” veggie meal?  What is the one item you can’t live without?  If you are vegan or vegetarian, what has been the biggest benefit?  How have you stayed on track?  Do you think there are any drawbacks to this way of eating or lifestyle?  I love comments.  Leave me some.

It’s What’s Inside That Counts ?

“Who are you, really?”

I ask this person in the mirror, who asks me the same question.  I think she’s mocking me.

There is a battle waging within me, between my heart and my head.  It’s about my job.  It’s about my purpose.  It’s about quitting my job and finding my purpose.  My heart says “FIND YOUR BLISS!  FOLLOW YOUR PASSION!” while my head screams, “PAY YOUR BILLS! PASSION DOESN’T BUY GROCERIES!”  (Which, in most instances, is true.)

Can I please have both?  Is there a way to make a career out of something I love?

The job I’m in now, I’ve been in for 5 months.  It’s fine.  It DOES fulfill certain things I felt I was lacking, such as a solid group of girlfriends, and helping people.  However it is too “full time” for me, too mundane for my bohemian-mommy lifestyle.

What kind of job is ideal for me?  The kind that offers freedom.  The kind where I create.  Make.  Express.  So… writing, cooking (especially baking), painting, crafts and using my hands, photography…even pottery if I knew how to do that.  A job that feels creative and free and that is like an extension of myself.

Lately I’m reading lots of abundance materials. Law of attraction. Motivation, inspiration, emails and newsletters about being who you were MEANT TO BE.  I am so inspired by them.  At the same time, I feel like I am having an internal crisis.  Society tells me that if I want a new home, I have to slave for 30 years and then buy it.  I can’t just ask for it.  The unwritten rule book of “the way it is and always has been” states  that I must go to work Monday through Friday from 7-5 and sit at my desk and answer the phone and earn my [meager] paycheck and be content with that.

My soul is asking me to jump off a cliff and I can’t see what’s at the bottom.  I’m a planner, a list-maker, I check my bank balance each morning before I head out the door.  I like preparation.  How can I just trust and take the leap?  How do I even know where to jump?

I know that all the greatest figures in history MADE history because they were brave, willing to step out into the unknown and live the life they’d always imagined [paraphrasing Thoreau, whose Walden is one of my favorite, most refreshing reads].  I want that for myself. I think am ready to be who I really am.

Please comment if you’ve got advice or stories or anything to share.

Let’s Go Viral!

Followers and readers and friends:

I have just opened an account on GoFundMe in order to raise money and give my husband (and yes, myself) the romantic honeymoon we couldn’t afford.  Even after being married, between jobs and no jobs, moving, new cars, old cars, a new baby and a teenager, you know, LIFE, we just haven’t been able to make it happen. 

We give a lot to charities, in the form of time, money, and other support.  This means there’s lots in our karma bank.  I am confident that this trip will be funded, off the kindness of strangers, so I’m thankful and excited!

Please pass along the link, please consider donating.  My soul needs to be in my motherland, and his soul needs a retreat.  As a couple, we would benefit greatly from such an amazing trip together.

HERE is the link to get started:  http://www.gofundme.com/4rt388

Thank you, thank you, thank you and love, love, love.  ~~~~ vibes to you all.

Vegetables and Yoga and Good zzz’s, Oh My!

Good day, all!

[Actually it’s night time here, but I refuse to accept that I spent so much time at my job and then consumed in my mommy duties that I’m just sitting down to blog at 8 pm.  Total denial.]

What’s up with YOU?

Here’s what’s going on with me lately… I am vegetarian again.  The story about that will follow.  In that vein, I will be posting some vegetarian and vegan recipes, hopefully some yummy holiday ones too, when I get a free moment.  I LOVE eating this way.  I feel so light, my mood has improved, skin looks smoother and plumper, and I’m sleeping much better.  I also discovered that I LOVE Alba brand (vegetarian, cruelty-free) skin care.  Papaya Enzyme scrub and Hawaiian Aloe/Green Tea moisturizer in particular. I’ll be posting about that later, too.  On to the news…

Recently I have been seeing a doctor about some abdominal discomfort. Something hurts – well hurts might be the wrong word – aggravates me is more accurate – on my lower left side.  He has ruled out hernia, fibroids, c-section complications or scar tissue, and appendicitis.  Yahoo.  After 2 ultrasounds he says it’s unlikely it’s cancer or any other growth.  Yahoo again.  It’s possibly: 1) severe constipation, 2) inflamed ligament (the one that connects the hip to the spine), meaning I need to ice it and stretch, 3) ovarian cysts (discovered on u/s but determined to be non-threatening) or 4) something like cancer that could only show up on ct scan.  (Wait… what?)  At least he was honest and said that abdominal stuff is the hardest, particularly with women, and that it’s difficult to diagnose.  So here’s what he decided to do: 1) Get me pooping. Pooping is good, he says. (who doesn’t like to poop, right?) 2) Rest from working out for a couple of weeks, 3) Give me pain meds.  Um… thanks?  After talking it over with my husband – and when I say “talking it over” I mean I talked it over, he listened.  Or fell asleep, I’m not sure and I can’t remember.  Point is, I decided not to get the prescriptions filled, partially because they were $85 (yowza!) and partially because I know that I can heal my body naturally and with gentler measures.  SO, my treatment plan the past week and a half or so has been: 1) Cut out all meat and dairy.  I used to be vegetarian, sometimes vegan, so this is not new territory. My tummy likes this way of eating, I have less bloating and more pooping.   2) Purchase a good probiotic. These good little guys eat the bad stuff in your gut and get things “moving”. So yes, this is poop related also.  (Seriously, I like to poop.)  3) Put down the diet soda.  I was only drinking one a day, but one daily is enough to throw off the body’s internal ph, cause acne, sleeplessness, gas, and other things.  Plus this means I automatically reach for the water more often.  4) Incorporate yoga and meditation. Stretching, yes.  Relaxing, yes.  The main reason, though, was to ease tension and get rid of the day’s stress.  Since I’ve been working full time (4 months now), my whole life has changed.  Some areas in small ways and other areas, pretty drastically. Yoga and deep breathing/meditation helps me center, and I have found that it also helps me sleep like a baby. Well, like a baby that sleeps.  Score!  Meditation, visualization, deep breathing are all AMAZING techniques to become calm, to create peace within, and set the tone for the day.  I even use “power thought” cards that say things like “All is Well in my World” and “My Healing is Now in Process”.  Sounds silly, but it works! 5) Lastly, I increased my cardio.  I was only lifting weights because I’d been feeling burnt out on the other activities.  The problem was that I was also feeling a bit ‘bulky’ and possibly eating an excess of protein following a bodybuilder’s diet.

Bottom line: I feel good.  HOW good?  Good enough to shoulder-dance to “When Doves Cry” at 4:45 this morning, while driving to the gym.  That should tell you everything you need to know.

I should be a doctor.