Commit

Commit

This past weekend I went to a wedding. Outside of the beauty of watching them become husband and wife, it had me thinking about commitment. What happens when you go from flirting with it to have it living on the insides, this willingness to attach, gambling with your heart, betting you will gain more than you could ever lose?

Writing feels that way to me. When I left a career a few years back, I was betting that I would not only brush past my fears, but that I would take them by the lapel, throw them to the ground and proceed to kick them into submission. It needed to be that serious for me. I saw how easy it could be. I could have spent the next 23 years at a job that admittedly had more lows than highs but I could have scraped by. I could always look forward to being in my mid-50’s and starting over again from there.

But I didn’t want to wait until I was worn down by years of stress and lack of fulfillment. The need to commit to finding out if I had what it took to do this far outweighed staying in misery, even if there was a level of comfort in that misery. I realize I am blessed to put in the work, even if half the time I am scared I am doing this only half-right or not at all. Even when it feels like no one is reading.

I will (and have) made my fair share of mistakes but I don’t have to live with wondering what could’ve happened if I never took a chance on myself.

If I never decided to commit.

Your turn: What have you recently committed to? How has it changed you?

Open

Open

I have found the more I move towards what I’m supposed to be doing–writing and focusing on achieving my wellness goals through plant-based eating, the more help I receive. I know there are some who advise to keep your dreams a secret but reaching out to others has been life-saving for me. I would never say not to be careful about naysayers or people who claim to “support” in word but never in action.

Although I have definitely run across people like that in my life, I have seen that it has been more worthwhile to keep opening myself up to people. In general, I think it makes people feel good to support you by buying your books, coming to your events and sharing ideas contributing to your growth. For the people who don’t, I think it’s best to wish them well and let those people fall away in their own time.

I keep finding with those who truly supported me, it revealed their character to me. It seems when you reach milestones in life, people either rise up and  support you or find a way to fade into the background. I have experienced some sadness but overall, when I started blogging  and then wrote my E-book journal, I experienced so much growth that it was worth a small amount of pain.

So I vow to remain open. Open to people. Open to help. Open to contributing to others’ successes.

When it comes to this, I believe there is no such thing as going it alone.

 

 

Meatless Monday: Vegan Pesto Pasta with a Honeydew Lime Smoothie

Meatless Monday: Vegan Pesto Pasta with a Honeydew Lime Smoothie

Tonight, I decided to do things a little differently. Hubby and I are big smoothie lovers and I realized I’ve never featured any on my Meatless Monday posts. I decided to make pesto for the first time, too. I definitely had become a little too dependent on tomato and vegan Alfredo sauces so it was time to change things up. I got the recipe from greenevi.com and the Honeydew and Lime Smoothie was inspired by a YouTube video from Health with Kisha. I don’t remember her exact recipe but I remembered Honeydew melon and limes and I figured I could adjust according to my own taste.

We used a container of honeydew that was 1.17 lbs, the juice of 3 limes and blended it with ice.

Here’s Hubby hard at work juicing the limes for me:

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We used organic red lentil penne pasta for our vegan pesto pasta. We love the Explore Cuisine brand for red lentil and black bean spaghetti.

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Here’s the recipe:

INGREDIENTS
  • Pasta of your choice
  • 1 cup of cherry tomatoes
  • ¼ cup of pine nuts
  • 1 cup of fresh basil (tightly packed)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • ¼ cup of olive oil
  • 1-3 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • salt, pepper
  • ½ lemon (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Prepare your pasta according to package instructions.
  2. Meanwhile roast pine nuts in a skillet until lightly toasted.
  3. Add basil, garlic, toasted pine nuts, nutritional yeast, olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper to a food processor and blend until smooth. Mix pesto into pasta and add cherry tomatoes. Enjoy!
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Pine nuts toasting
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All the ingredients. I blended them instead of putting them in the food processor but the pesto still came out great!

Hubby has already said he wants to me cook everything again next week. I fell in love, too. The honeydew and lime smoothie was incredibly refreshing. I can see making that regularly especially when summer hits.

Let me know in the comments if there are any new plant-based recipes you have tried or want to try.

 

 

Meatless Mondays: Sweet Potato Quinoa & Enchilada Bake

Meatless Mondays: Sweet Potato Quinoa & Enchilada Bake

I have been holding onto this recipe from shelikesfood.com for a few weeks. I have never cooked with enchilada sauce so I was excited to try. I also have been a little rice and potato heavy so getting back to eating more quinoa seemed like a good idea. I definitely took longer than the prep time indicated but I dice vegetables slowly.

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Diced veggies: red and green peppers, onions and zucchini
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Sweet potatoes ready to bake with a little salt, pepper and olive oil
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All veggies with salt, pepper and olive oil ready to bake together
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All veggies with quinoa, black bean, corn and spices sprinkled with vegan cheese

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup dried quinoa
  • 4 cup cubed sweet potato, about 2 large ones
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 zucchini, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1 cup grated cheese, divided (I used vegan cheese)
  • 2 1/2 cups enchilada sauce
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • Black pepper
  • Optional garnishes: cilantro, red onion, tomato, avocado, jalapeno

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Rinse quinoa and place it in a small pot with 1 cup of water.  Bring to a simmer and cook until water is absorbed and quinoa is cooked through, about 15 minutes.  Set aside.
  2. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F.  On a large baking sheet, toss together the cubed sweet potato with 2 teaspoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Bake sweet potato for 20 minutes.
  3. While sweet potato is baking, add all the diced bell peppers, zucchini and onion to a bowl and toss with 1 teaspoon olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  4. Add the vegetables to the sweet potatoes, stir and make sure they’re in an even layer.  Place back into the oven 10 minutes.
  5. Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F.  Place the sweet potatoes and veggies into a large baking dish and stir in the cooked quinoa, black beans, corn, 3/4 cup of the cheese, enchilada sauce, spices, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.  Top with the remaining 1/4 of the cheese and place back in the oven until heated through and cheese is melted, 10-15 minutes.
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All done! I let it bake for 15 minutes instead of 10 minutes.

Hubby and I loved it! We chose to garnish it with avocado. It blended together well and it came out light.  While we were eating it, I thought it would be interesting to add mushrooms, too. I definitely look forward to making it again.

Meatless Mondays: Ninth Street Bakery

Meatless Mondays: Ninth Street Bakery

Today, we were on the road back home from seeing family and we decided to stop at Ninth Street Bakery for lunch. It was a few blocks from Duke University. We almost tried the Luna Living Kitchen Chapel Hill location but then we both said it was best to try something new. I was intrigued by a bakery offering several plant-based options. As soon as we walked in, we knew we were in for a feast. The smell alone was enough to buy out the store. Trying to be gluten-free saved me in this bakery. I could have walked out with a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread under each arm. Anyway, on to what we ate.

I ordered the Thai curry bowl, the savory hand pie (don’t think the flour was wheat) and a side salad. Jeff had the dal lentil soup and the savory hand pie. We loved every bit of it. The freshness and the flavor impressed us both. We left feeling satisfied and didn’t think of eating for hours afterwards. It has been incredibly encouraging to find healthy, plant-based options out on the road. It totally dispels the idea that you can’t be responsible for your health even if you travel frequently.

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Thai curry bowl for me.

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Dal lentil soup for him.

 

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Savory hand pies for both of us!

We would definitely come back again. As for next Monday, I already have a recipe in mind that I am excited to try!

 

Habits

Habits

Thursday has become my day for posting wellness updates. The morning routine of going to bed and waking up earlier, taking time to journal, pray and listen to something inspirational (mostly sermons and podcasts) and now working out has helped immensely. Even though I have always acknowledged that wellness is more than just weight, ignoring that part while I write here is not really what I want to do either.

I am a firm believer that my writing and my health are inextricably linked. I know when I am burning the candle at both ends, not eating well or moving myself consistently, my writing suffers. I am not as energized to do it and it feels more rushed. I believe I have always been able to convey my message but who doesn’t want to feel good while doing it?

I believe I have been having a series of God moments these last few weeks in regards to my health. Let me explain. I am part of Heather Parady’s Facebook group and in it, she issues weekly challenges to build new habits each week to add to our morning routine. Being a part of this group gives me accountability and it came at the exact right time. I was literally trying to bring order and slow down after the anxiety came and had no plan laid out as to how I was going to do it. I could have either sat back and not gotten the message or take the challenge that was laid out before me. I am not a huge believer in coincidence. I know if I had not started down this road, I am not sure where or how I would be right now.

I weigh-in at home each week to track myself and steer towards a gluten-free lifestyle. I still am plant-based and I love it. What I am learning to fall in love with is being more whole-foods plant-based. It’s been about 9 months since Jeff and I said good-bye to all meat and dairy but it’s taken awhile to find our footing when it comes to staying away from so much processed food. Since I struggle with PCOS, it is especially difficult for me to lose weight but definitely not impossible. I am not claiming that for myself. I choose to believe that with the right habits I will reach my goal. This week I actually lost 4 pounds!

Like many of us on this path, I get excited in the beginning. I start getting results quickly and I feel like I can stay stick to my new habits forever. I’m a “whole new person.”

Lies.

I am still the same me. The one who has fallen down and gotten up again. The one who said she was stopping eating _______ and picked it back up weeks, months or even a couple of years later. The one who promised to work out  X amount of times each week and every time I have failed. Every time there is an excuse and every time I let myself off the hook.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t need to beat myself up. But I do need to be honest.

I am the me who does so many other awesome things and won’t give up no matter how many times I try. I am also the me who keeps getting knocked upside the head with the truth of how my habits have affected my present but hopefully not my future.

I can’t tell anyone (not even myself) how any of this will work out. I just know I can’t stop trying because I know there’s no end in sight. This is my life. I will always have to work a bit harder than others but it’s worth it.

I’m worth it.

 

Meatless Mondays: Vegan Potluck!

Meatless Mondays: Vegan Potluck!

Back from my two-week hiatus! It was good to take a break but now it’s time to get back to sharing these recipes, my writing and plant-based wellness journey. Saturday night, Jeff and I went to a friend’s house for our second vegan potluck. Our group consisted of two other couples and their combined 8 children. Since we don’t have kids, it’s lovely to visit a home filled with the warmth of laughing, playing children.

We had our first vegan potluck in December and it was such a hit, we decided to do it again. It was comforting to be around other plant-based people, share new recipes and just have some fun!

This time around, we brought shepherd’s pie and salted chocolate chip cookies made with quinoa flour (delicious!). There was also mac and cheese, Watergate salad (a marshmallow dessert), veggie kebabs, cupcakes with chocolate frosting and hummus and tortilla chips.

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Mac n’ Cheese. We all loved it and it was gone in a flash!

 

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Our shepherd’s pie!
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Watergate salad. I don’t eat marshmallows but everyone else enjoyed this vegan version of this colorful dish.

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Hubby standing proudly over his bowl of cookies!

As with all gatherings of friends, the best part was the company. Three different couples sharing their lives, a meal and and hopefully more of a future.

Meatless Mondays: Luna’s Living Kitchen

Meatless Mondays: Luna’s Living Kitchen

I was out of town, specifically in Charlotte this past weekend visiting family. We knew we would be leaving in the afternoon and wanted to stop by a raw vegan restaurant I found online: Luna’s Living Kitchen.

Since we are just getting home, I knew I would be in no mood to cook a meal and eat late so I thought I would share our meal at Luna’s Living Kitchen located in the South Bend of Charlotte. Even though I prefer to cook these meals, it’s good to know there are options everywhere to eat plant-based and even raw vegan!

We started off by sharing a sweet potato sushi roll. I decide to get a cacao smoothie and Jeff chose a Mango Tango. It had a kick of cayenne which we both enjoyed!

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Jeff had been eager to try the raw manicotti made with zucchini and cashew cream and tomato sauce. He added the lentil soup for warmth. The coolness of the manicotti threw him a little even though he was warned about it but neither of us could deny how tasty the cashew cream was and how well it mimicked the taste of ricotta cheese. I chose one of the warmer entree options: BBQ sliders. That was our favorite dish! The oyster mushrooms was such an amazing filler compared to mock meats like tofu, tempeh or jackfruit. When we come back to Charlotte, we are definitely coming back!

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The cashew cream was incredible!
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Our favorite dish topped with jalapeno slaw!

Meatless Mondays: Hearty Chickpea Pasta Soup

Meatless Mondays: Hearty Chickpea Pasta Soup

Tonight, hubby found the recipe on a website for No Meat Athlete. He and I are considering following their meal plans for a week to accelerate the process on our wellness journey. Plus, the site is full of whole foods plant-based recipes which I would like to cook regularly. It’s so easy to fall into the vegan junk food or takeout trap. It’s delicious but ultimately costly and more calorie laden than cooking at home. Here is the recipe:

Ingredients
  • 1-2 teaspoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil (optional)
  • 1 Small Onion, chopped
  • 2 Celery Ribs, diced
  • 4 cloves Garlic, minced
  • ¾ teaspoon Dry Rosemary
  • 1 cup any Tomato Sauce
  • 6 cups Vegetable Stock
  • 1 can (15 ounces) or 1.5 cups cooked Chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 bunch Kale (about 8 leaves), preferably Lacinato (Dinosaur), torn into bite-size pieces, coarse stems removed
  • 4 ounces Whole Wheat or Alternative-Grain Linguine, broken into 1 to 2 inch lengths (or choose a bite-size pasta)
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil, if using, in a large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion, celery, garlic, and 1 teaspoon of the rosemary and cook until the vegetables are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. If not using oil, add a few splashes of water as needed to keep ingredients from drying and burning.
  3. Add the tomato sauce, vegetable stock, and chickpeas, and bring to a boil.
  4. Add the kale and after about 5 minutes, add the pasta and stir occasionally. (This assumes your pasta will take 7 to 8 minutes to cook. If you’re using pasta that takes 12 to 15 minutes, add the pasta when you add the kale.)
  5. When the pasta is al dente, remove the soup from the heat and season with salt and pepper.
  6. Garnish with the remaining teaspoon of fresh rosemary and optionally, a drizzle of olive oil.

We loved it.. not oily and filling for sure! So glad we chose to sign up for these recipes!

 

Telling a Better Story

Telling a Better Story

I  was listening to a podcast earlier today and they were discussing why people don’t try to change or at least don’t stay consistent in their efforts to change. The interviewee pointed out how easy it is to stay the same and do nothing. The interviewer agreed, acknowledging the comfort of being static. Forgive me for not remembering names, I listened to many today while working so I don’t want to attribute the interview to the wrong people.

It got me thinking that of course it’s easy (and convenient) to continue down a path you’ve always gone or to tell yourself the exact same story about your life. “I always do this…I never remember that or I never follow-through on….

It reminded me of a a quote I first heard from Jim Kwik: “Your mind is always eavesdropping on your self-talk.”  What if I’ve been telling myself a story about myself, convinced that I already know the ending? And is my mind being programmed by my negative self-talk?

When I engage in negative self-talk, I believe I am giving myself permission to give up. I’ve done it with some of my writing and wellness goals in the past. It makes the bad medicine go down, nice and smooth.

Except that it’s not so smooth, is it? While you’re swallowing, the taste gets a little sour–even rancid, doesn’t it?

When our self-awareness grows, the harder it is to feel the comfort, to convince ourselves we are at ease when we quit. Now that I am writing on a regular basis, I am not choking down anything.

I am too busy telling myself a better story.