Meatless Mondays: Black Bean Taco Salad

Meatless Mondays: Black Bean Taco Salad

I decided to make a salad tonight. Since the misconception from many people is that vegans only eat salad, I have shied away from posting one. However, I found a recipe for one that is hearty, colorful and sure to fill anyone up. I even made the dressing–Creamy Cumin Ranch Dressing! Both recipes come from Jenn S. at veggieinspired.com.

Ingredients
Black Beans
Crunchy Roasted Chickpeas
  • 1 15 oz can chickpeas (rinsed, drained and dried really well) (or 1.5 cups cooked chickpeas)
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 20171127_184417
    Chickpeas tossed with spices–ready to be roasted!
Salad
  • 1 head green leaf lettuce (chopped) (romaine would be great too)
  • 1-2 chopped tomatoes
  • 1 red bell pepper (diced)
  • 1 avocado (diced)
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Toss chickpeas with the chili powder, cumin, salt and cinnamon.
  3. Place chickpeas on a baking sheet in one even layer and bake for 20-30 minutes, shaking them around 1/2 way through. Chickpeas should be slightly crunchy…they will continue to crisp up as they cool. Set aside.
  4. Toss the black beans with all the spices and warm in a pan over medium heat with 1/4 cup water. Stir occasionally until warmed through, about 5-6 minutes.
  5. To assemble the salad, toss the lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, avocado and corn in a large bowl. Plate the lettuce mixture on each individual plate or bowl. Add the black beans to the individual servings and top with the crunchy roasted chickpeas. Drizzle with the Creamy Cumin Ranch Dressing.
Creamy Cumin Ranch Dressing:
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Blend all ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth. Add additional water by the tablespoon if needed to thin.
  2. Enjoy!

Hubby says we should have it every night! The roasted chickpeas, avocado and black beans along with the dressing made this meal as filling as promised. This is the last Meatless Monday I will be doing as part of #bloglikecrazy. Challenging myself to try a new vegan recipe each week has made me push myself. It’s so easy to get stuck in a rut with 4 or 5 of your favorites and take-out but this has opened my world up. I will definitely be posting new recipes in the future.

Treasures

Treasures

I was thinking recently about the first time I thought I about being a writer. I was around 10 years old. I still have one of my first old notebooks with abandoned attempts of short stories in a box somewhere. One of the stories was about an 11-year old girl named Stephanie who was spending her first Christmas after her parents’ divorce with her father and younger brother. The notebook had multi-colored tabs and I divided my work into ideas, first drafts and final drafts. I was also gifted multi-colored retractable pens. I still remember the glee I felt pushing one color down and watching a new hue pop up each time. The first draft of my Stephanie story was written in a teal cursive.

What I remember most fondly is how I thought this was the beginning and I couldn’t wait to publish my own series of books like Ann M. Martin’s Baby-Sitters Club books and be an acclaimed teen author. I love that I had dreams as a child. One of the most precious things about a child is their innocence. I was allowed to have mine. I had parents who bought me books and notebooks and colorful pens and never once made me feel silly about writing my stories.

They were my treasures. Mine to have. Mine to hold. Mine to keep.

 

 

 

Birthday Resolutions?

Birthday Resolutions?

Yesterday, my post was a quick note about my birthday. I know some of us treat our birthdays like New Years Day and make resolutions. I think I have been silently doing that most of my life. Sometimes, not so silently.

Even though there are things I declare I want to be free from or actively pursue in my 37th year, I am going to pray for, declare it out loud, write it down, type, quietly ponder about, daydream, meditate, send a message in a bottle Police style the request for patience.

All of the things I want to be free from: extra weight, psoriasis, old psoriasis scars, self-doubt, uncertainty, fibroids, laziness.

All of the things I want to pursue more actively: writing and speaking opportunities, consistent workouts, getting settled in with a church home  I can learn to trust, volunteerism and time with my friends.

All of these things can be accomplished but none of them will happen with any semblance of peace of mind without patience. My spirit, body and mind need to work in one accord to agree that all can be done but nothing will feel right or organic without recognizing it will take time. Not just saying something trite like “Rome wasn’t built in a day or I know I can’t just blink my eyes and it will be all done or God is not a genie.”

I have long needed to divorce myself from the lies, the side deals I strike with myself that sever me from the reality of the hard work, the rejection, the tears, the shrugging off of the “I don’t feel like it right nows.” I have always been able to daydream the results, almost making me feel like I am there without fully embracing the process. I skip over it in my mind except to conjure up a hackneyed 80’s montage of my sweat, hours planted in front of the computer screen and praying in a sea of fictitious people who I will one day call my church family.

I want 37 to be about falling in love with the process even in the moments when I am suspicious it hates me or just taking too long “to get ready.”

I am toasting to all of the hard work that went into 36 and what I will bring to 37 even if patience requires I don’t see the fruit until 38.

The List

The List

When I was single, I heard many women talk about writing a list of the things they wanted in a husband. Two or three times on New Years Day, I wrote my own list. I  saw it as writing down a prayer for what I wanted and clearly defining who I thought I needed him to be.

I did not spend much time on physical characteristics. I was attracted to many kinds of men in the past so I just wanted to feel an attraction to him. Even though the physical part of his description wasn’t outlandish, other characteristics probably could have used an injection of reality.

For example, I knew my ultimate partner would be Haitian-American like me, well-traveled and well-read with a love for books that I would strive to match. He would also care about lifting up the community and volunteer as often as he could, probably with his church. He would also be an amazing dancer and get along famously with both his and my family. He would love multiple genres of music and be able to express his feelings without me having to prod too much.  He didn’t have to command attention as soon as he walked in the room but he should be able to if the situation called for it. He also had to have an appreciation for the arts.

So what kind of person did I end up marrying? In many ways, I could easily check off the wishes from my list like healthy familial relationships, kindness, faith, varied taste in music and when I asked for patience, the cup overflows. I am in awe of his patience. It showed me where I needed to grow.  However, he has a quiet nature, his family is American and from Virginia, he can’t dance,  and doesn’t love to read as much as I do. He also hasn’t traveled the world yet. If my memory serves me correctly, I forgot to write down one of the best qualities a partner can have: willingness.

One of the things that continually surprises me and keeps me happy is his willingness to try new foods, go to more cultural events, travel and support me while I was determining I wanted to commit to writing for the rest of my life.

I didn’t anticipate the joy that came with exploring it all together, at the same time. Sometimes, we are meant to learn and experience an event, trip or restaurant for the first time with our partners. In my single days, I had an expectation of my partner taking on the role of teacher. It isn’t that I didn’t expect us to teach one another but I subconsciously set up an expectation for a potential partner he did not ask to live up to.

But then there are times he stepped up to the plate that I never saw coming. At the height of my psoriasis which came over 2 years into our marriage, it had covered almost every part of my body and it was torture to wear clothes. I often wanted to tear them off and scratch. Many nights before settling into bed, he would lovingly paint my body with steroid cream and tell me he wished he could take the pain and scars from me.

I often think back to those nights and say to myself: I may not have gotten every little thing I wanted on the list but I got everything I didn’t even know I needed.

 

 

Transitions

Transitions

During the spring semester of my senior year in college, I took a class that explored the relationship between literature and psychology. I don’t remember much about the class except that the size was small, the name of my professor and I found the content compelling. At the end of class, she conducted individual meetings. It was to discuss what she observed about each one of us during the course of the semester. The observations were purely based on what we shared during class.

During our meeting, she said I spoke frequently about fear. I remember being taken aback but it wasn’t a criticism. I seemed to identify it in the stories/pieces we read or clearly articulate it as part of a struggle the protagonist was going through and brought it up as part of class discussion.

When I went back to my dorm that afternoon, I took time to reflect on why I would have brought it up so often. Looking back, I wonder if it had to do with the transition I was getting ready to make.

At the time, graduation was near and I had been accepted to two different graduate programs in two states. I was proud of my accomplishments but a bundle of nerves at the same time. Since then, like most adults I’ve gone through several transitions: career, marriage and home ownership just to name a few.

I am grateful that even when fear threatened to paralyze me in some situations, I walked through it and made decisions anyway. I have also learned from the times, especially when it comes to my health, where I let fear stop me or have me return to my old habits. The truth is, if we’re really willing to admit it, aren’t we always at a crossroads? It doesn’t have to be at college graduation or deciding whether or not to take a job or marry someone you love. We are always standing in the middle somewhere, deciding to freeze in the moment, stretching it out and waiting for life to happen or moving forward with a bold new idea, health plan, way to raise our children, faith commitment, community activism or travel adventure?

Writing makes me feel like that girl again, straightening her cap and gown, leaving that version of the classroom behind and walking into her future. My love for the in-between, the murky, the gray only grows as I get older. I love knowing that each active decision I make drives me down a path I cannot completely see but undoubtedly holds experiences and knowledge I could not fill my life with otherwise.

In this moment, I am thanking God for transitions.

Meatless Mondays: Vegan Tuna

Meatless Mondays: Vegan Tuna

Today, I decided to try vegan tuna. I saw a few videos online that made my mouth water and last week, I tried a version at Whole Foods that convinced me it was time to try it at home. A few of the recipes I saw included some kind of vegan mayonnaise which I like but I wanted to challenge myself to make the “mayo.”

The recipe I found was on www.brandnewvegan.com. I know hubby and I eat too much oil and this recipe was oil-free which made it an easy yes. As I was mashing the chickpeas with the potato smasher and fork, I loved watching the transformation of the consistency into something that definitely reminded me of tuna.  After I blended the cashew mixture, it really was a smooth, creamy dressing! I was probably a little too excited. It was definitely a recipe I would try again and I am looking forward to trying more recipes from this site.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup raw cashews
  • ½ cup water
  • 15ox can low sodium garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
  • ½ cup red onion, diced
  • 1 stalk of celery, diced
  • 1 small carrot, diced
  • 2 tbls dill pickle relish
  • 3 tbls lemon juice
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbls yellow mustard
  • 1 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 1 tsp low sodium soy sauce
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
Instructions
  1. Add the cashews and water to your blender to let them soak
  2. Mash garbanzo beans in a large bowl using a potato masher, or fork
  3. Add diced veggies and stir
  4. All the remaining liquid ingredients to the blender with the cashews and water and pulse until smooth.
  5. Stir dressing into ‘tuna’ .
My husband and I both enjoyed our vegan tuna salad sandwiches and I am already looking forward to trying a new vegan recipe next Monday!

Defined by a Number?

Defined by a Number?

I’ve actively resisted using the word “weight” on this blog. I happily write about wellness in its totality. However, the world seems so invested in exact numbers. It’s as if people need to know exactly where to place you.

Sometimes “people” is me.

I don’t define beauty and worthiness by a number. For sure, I want to change the number but I don’t subscribe to any of those notions. I heard a podcast host (an extremely fit man) in response to his guest who is struggling with his weight loss goals say something like: Yeah, I love doughnuts! The guest said nothing about doughnuts and the host repeated it more than once.

Clearly, this is not wildly offensive. I am sure it was just an awkward attempt to relate to his guest but I was disappointed by it. For me, it fed into the notion some people have about overweight/obese people sitting around, glued to the couch and shoving _________ (insert whatever junk food you would like) down his/her gullet. I actually have heard some version of this on more than one podcast, radio station, TV show, magazine, book or film.

Since you can find overweight people sitting next to you at work, class or at a sporting event, traveling beside you on the plane or working out with you at the gym, why does this notion persist?

Maybe I feel compelled to write about it as my husband and I, who eat a plant-based diet  to heal from our conditions exacerbated by inflammation and love to be out and about, are about to undertake a serious weight loss journey. I don’t want who we already are  to be lost on those who read this or already know us. I start as someone who works, writes, dances, prays, reads, travels, nurtures and cooks and I will be that woman in a smaller body and my husband will be who he is in a smaller body, too.

Not people who are waiting to get off of the couch but people who are ready to move on to the next adventure.

A Handwritten Note

A Handwritten Note

When I was at the Summit of Greatness in September, psychotherapist Esther Perel gave advice to a man seeking to repair a romantic relationship: Send her a handwritten note.

Outside of the obvious things anyone should be doing to win someone back, maintain a friendship or romantic relationship, that was one of the best pieces of advice I had ever heard. I was sure I was not the only one because the whole theater was buzzing right after she said it.

It also caused me to think about two things: The last time I received a hand-written note and the last time I sent one. I write extra notes on greeting cards to my mother and father  (my husband and I do not exchange gifts/cards..we plan experiences with each other for our birthdays/holidays). Outside of those occasions, everything is typed or texted.

And since then, a co-worker and a good friend from my writing group have given me cards with handwritten notes on it. Even opening them immediately lit me up inside. It also conjured up memories of a small poem my husband wrote me when we were first married and my participation for a short time in moreloveletters.com which encourages people to leave anonymous uplifting letters tucked away in public spaces. The content almost never matters. For me, it is the time taken.

Because it’s the one thing we can’t get back.

What Support Looks Like

What Support Looks Like

Last night, I was going through some files and found a book synopsis I wrote earlier this year. It was 8 pages long and a joy to read. I had such a clear vision of where I wanted my book to go. It provided a short burst of inspiration to keep going and finish this first draft. Next week, I have the entire time off to put in serious hours towards completing it.  Even though there will be hours when I want to throw my laptop across the room or crawl under the covers to avoid it, it doesn’t matter. What matters is being the writer, more importantly the woman, I thought I’d be. The woman who doesn’t waste time talking about it, she does it (she writes about it, too).

I just got back from writing group where I am always reminded of the support I have to become the woman I want to be. I would encourage anyone to look around and take an account of all of the support that is already present in your life. I would bet there is more than you realize, even if it’s just one person praying for you daily living 5 states away or a reader who sends positive vibes your way directly after reading one of your posts.

Or it could be more obvious like the love of your life baking you a vegan apple pie while you were away at your writing group.

Girl Time!

Girl Time!

Yesterday, on See Jane Write’s Facebook page, I saw a prompt asking us to describe our idea of a perfect Girls Night Out. Ideas floated around for a few minutes and reminded me of what I’ve been thinking lately: I haven’t had a real Girls Night Out in years.

Yes, I said it. Years.

Before anyone points fingers or starts pearl-clutching, I have been to plenty of lunches, dinners and events with friends but it’s usually been with one or two of them at a time. It hasn’t been on purpose. Weeks turn into months and months turn into years and before I knew it, I am sitting in a movie theater watching Girls Trip with my husband, laughing but also asking myself like the R&B group 702 in the 90’s: Where My Girls At?

As many of us know, wellness should be whole–physical, emotional and spiritual. Part of the journey should be a commitment to getting together and even better, getting away with your friends. Phone calls, text messages, email and the random lunch/dinner should not be enough. Time away to unwind, laugh and let it all out builds us up and strengthens our relationships. I guess it’s time for me to start planning!