The Vegan Roundup

So, did I end up sticking with the vegan thing?

Drum-roll please…

No.

But I ended up in a great place!

Full disclosure, I didn’t finish up the whole month of purely vegan eating – I ended after 3 weeks. But it was after consulting with Stacy.

After two great weeks of vegan eating where I felt good and full and enjoyed what I was eating, it got much harder. Primarily because my daily life just got harder. Copeland went through (and is still going through) the 4 month sleep regression, Riley started going through potty regression, and Jordan went out of town for 7 days. In my sleep deprived state, constantly nursing an infant and cleaning up toddler potty accidents, it was pretty difficult to keep up with all of the food prep I would need to do to. And what started happening was that if I didn’t already have enough stuff prepared, I just wouldn’t feed myself enough, in order to try and stay faithful to the project. That is no good. I told Stay that I was having a hard time keeping myself fed and was feeling hangry and she said, “hangry = scary.”

She also said, “I’m so glad you committed to this month, but it was a big jump… It’s a big jump for the body, mind, and adjusting to schedule/cooking. I’m all about big jumps – as our bodies need the foods you’ve been fueling them with for good health, but sometimes big jumps can be hard.
After this month I hope that you’ll keep tons of plants in your diet for long-term health (keeping cholesterol low, preventing heart disease, cancer, and remaining low on toxic stuff), but that of course, doesn’t mean you need to be vegan. I adjusted to this lifestyle and can’t imagine doing anything else. It’s what I crave. But, you can be absolutely healthy keeping the base of your diet the way it is and adding in some of your favorites from the past if you desire.”

Talking to Stacy was exactly what I needed. I decided to add a little meat back into my diet and if I was hungry, I would eat even if it meant I wasn’t eating a strictly vegan diet.

I don’t feel that I was unfaithful to the project, I still came away with what I had hoped! Which is a better habit of fueling my body with the right foods. I will eat meat, but much less of it. I am trying to focus on what I do want to eat (more plant foods!), and trying to cook at home more frequently, with whole and nourishing foods.

I will say that I have found many times (even before this project) that dairy seems to have a big affect on me. I have stomach pain any time I consume a beverage with milk or eat anything with a high density of cheese or sour cream. So moving forward, I am going to still try to limit my dairy intake.

Part of why I wanted to go to the extreme of veganism was because I knew that if I could accomplish vegan, then it would seem all the easier to land where I actually wanted to – at a more whole foods, plant based diet than I had been eating. And it happened – since I had adjusted to veganism, it really isn’t hard to now take a few steps back and still stay on the healthy track!

In our last conversation about the project Stacy said:
“I’m beyond happy that you feel as though you have a transformed view on the way you eat and treat your body. That’s exactly what I desire for anyone I work with or simply relate to about food. Like you said, its SO fine you’re not sticking with a vegan diet, because the point is sticking to a sustainable lifestyle where you fuel your body well so you can feel well and perform the responsibilities God has given you each day with greater ease and joy rather than being bogged down with unnecessary health issues.”

And I think that is the perfect summary for this project! Moving forward I am trying to maintain a sustainable lifestyle where I fuel my body well. I’m so grateful to Stay for helping me to get there!

If you have been wanting or trying to work towards a more whole foods, less processed diet but really struggle to get there (like I did), I highly recommend Stacy’s services! Let’s be honest, sometimes these things are just difficult to achieve on our own. To learn more about how consulting with Stacy works, you can read more here.

And even if you’re not interested in enlisting her services, you should check out her blog! I love this article on why counting calories will not serve us.

Again, I just want to point out that this is not a sponsored post. Stacy has not asked me nor paid me to promote her services. I just simply love what she is doing and have benefited from it in my own life, so I want to pass it on! I am also proud of her for taking a long growing passion of hers and turning it into a business that blesses others. Stacy, you are such a gem in this world and I am blessed to know you!

Thanks for following along on this experiment!

KM.

Also: breakfast cookies and combinations of sweet potatoes & black beans are now on constant rotation in this household!

Ruining My Family, One Non-Organic Meal at a Time

This morning, the crazies emerged again.

Picture: Me sobbing to the point where my husband (sweet man that he is) cut his morning routine short in order to console me. He asks what’s wrong, and through sniffles I answer (as if it’s obvious), “I’m ruining our family!” And in that moment, I really believed it.

This particular set of crazies were spawned on by one of those condescending articles that people post on Facebook in order to “educate” Facebook world, particularly moms. You know what I’m talking about:

“You’re ruining your children by not doing enough interacting play with them!”
“You’re ruining your child by doing too much interactive play with them!”
“You’re ruining your children by letting them watch even 3 seconds of TV!”
“You’re ruining your child by swaddling them!”
“You’re ruining your child by not breastfeeding them!”
“You’re ruining your child by sending them to daycare!”
“You’re ruining your child by sleep training!”
“You’re ruining your child by attachment parenting!”
“You’re ruining your child by sending them to public school!”
“You’re ruining your child by sending them to private school!”
“You’re ruining your child by homeschooling them!”
“You’re ruining your child by letting them see you on an iPhone!”
“You’re ruining your child by not feeding them all organic food!”

Mom guilt is such a real and nasty thing. A friend of mine who is about a year and a half into parenting recently admitted that she didn’t understand the whole “mom guilt” thing until she became one. She was surprised by how quickly it snuck up on her.

It’s one thing to be convicted of something you might need to do differently, I mean we could all use some growth and changing in many areas of our lives. But mom guilt is a taunting voice that follows you around, telling you that you are never enough and are never doing enough. It tempts you to believe something wrong about your identity.

Food has always been the one that gets me. I don’t really know why, but my largest area of insecurity in motherhood has always been how I feed my child. From nursing to baby food to solids, I’ve always questioned myself, feeling hard pressed by so many differing opinions.

When Riley was an infant (and once when she was a toddler), there were a couple of months when she dropped weight percentiles and the doctor was concerned about it. I was put on a strict mission to “fatten her up, whatever it takes!” I felt like it was my fault. I must have been accidentally starving my baby! I would get really emotional about it. So I fed my picky eater cheeseburgers and milkshakes, whatever I could do to bring her weight up. And then I would feel guilty for feeding her those foods. So I would try the healthier route, and she wouldn’t eat. So then I would feel like a failure.

I remember being surprised by my own answer when asked what the most surprising difficult thing about motherhood has been. “Feeding her/meal planning.” I would have never expected that.

Thankfully, Riley loves and eats a lot of healthy food now: avocados, blueberries, raspberries, apples, grapes, bananas, peas, greenbeens, greek yogurt, chicken, eggs, almond milk, and smoothies. But just when I start to feel encouraged by that, BAM! I’m whacked over the head with the “you’re ruining your child by not feeding them all organic!”

Now don’t get me wrong, I get it. I understand that our government allows a lot of things to be done to food in America that is not good for us. I know that there are chemicals and pesticides and that processed food can be harmful. I’ve watched Food Inc. I’ve read 2998203982 articles. I’ve done the research. I realize that a grass-fed, cage free, hormone free, organic, local, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free diet is probably the healthiest way to eat. I even tried it for a little while! The problem is, it costs an arm and a leg (and perhaps even a nose). And we don’t have an arm, leg, and a nose to give right now.

I constantly feel this tension between wanting to feed my family well and wanting to be frugal and honor our budget well.

“You’re not enough.” “You’re not doing enough.” “You’re ruining your child,” the mom guilt taunts.

She’s mean.

Speaking of mean, know what else is mean? Posting these condescending articles on social media. For the love, can we mamas please stop doing this to each other? If there is something you have learned that you care a lot about and are worried for friends or family of yours, will you just send them the link, individually? Will you just have a conversation with them about it?

I am thankful that I do have friends who care about eating organically and healthy who have approached it in such a loving way. I have one friend who has exchanged articles back and forth with me but has never once offended me with the way she talks about it. She even started researching with me on how to eat well on a budget. That is loving. Or another friend who opened up in such a kind manner when I asked her about it and never treated me like I am inferior.

Why do we feel the need to publicly “educate” social media world on something with our finger pointed at everyone else?

On that note, if you see a mom that you care about today, give her a hug and tell her, “good job! Motherhood is tough, and you’re doing your best. Rock it!”

And be comforted that we all get the crazies from time to time ;-).

KM.

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DC

I recently took a quiz on Time.com that told you what state/city you should live in, based on your personality.  My result: D.C.

Ironic, considering that Jordan and I just returned from spending three days there last weekend for his 30th birthday :).  Although I’ve never considered myself a city girl and slightly disagree with Time, I will say that if I had to live in a city, I would definitely choose DC!  I’ve been there a few times, and I would still look forward to going back.

In our few years of marriage, Jordan and I have learned that we love city vacations.  We just really enjoy walking around downtown, drinking good coffee, eating good food, drinking good wine, and scoping out the treasures that are local used book stores.

For a couple of weeks we had assumed that all of the free stuff we had planned to do would be closed, so we contacted some friends who live in DC, asked for restaurant recommendations, and decided to make it a “Foodcation.”  Thankfully the government decided to re-open just in time for our trip (word on the street is that they heard we were coming so they finally got their act together)!

Here is a glimpse of our trip:

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First stop, Lauriol Plaza.  We were told that it is, hands down, the best Mexican food in the city.  NO.JOKE.  Ya’ll.  SO GOOD!  We both got Chorizo Quesadillas made with homemade chorizo.  It was seriously the best Mexican food I’ve ever eaten (and I’ve been to Mexico three times).  This place is definitely a must if you travel to DC.

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Then we took a tour of the Capitol and strolled through the Library of Congress (which is insanely gorgeous, by the way).

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We also found a cute little public garden in the city, where we decided to rest for a few minutes and drink in the fresh fall air.

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That evening, we strolled around Georgetown and finished with Chinese for dinner.  When we left dinner, Georgetown was starting to come to life.  I commented to Jordan that “Night Life” just isn’t my thing.  He reminded me that it was only 7:30, which could hardly be considered “Night Life.”  Wow.  I guess we are getting old… 😉

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After dinner, we arrived at our airbnb “luxury” condo (if you haven’t heard of airbnb.com, it’s an awesome way to travel!).  Staying at this bad boy only ended up costing us $69/night.

We’re learning that airbnb is hit or miss.   We LOVED our condo stay at Wrightsville Beach this summer, but this one wasn’t the best experience in the world.  It wasn’t the worst either, there were just a few things we hadn’t considered being an issue (our bedroom was literally right next to the host’s bedroom.  It was really hot in there and we couldn’t adjust the AC.  Neighbors were really loud at night, keeping us up until 3am).  <– Western World problems, for sure.  But still worth considering when planning a vacation this way.

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Saturday morning was my favorite part of the trip!  We went to the Eastern Market, a HUGE Farmer’s Market/Flea Market in the city.  We strolled through and ate at Farmer’s Lunch, a super popular spot where you can get breakfast or lunch from all of the fresh, local ingredients and you sit at a huge farm table to eat.  Jordan got a stack of blueberry pancakes and I got french toast topped with apples and cider, a very “fall” feeling breakfast :).  We tasted the most delicious honey crisp apples, bought gifts for Jordan’s parents (who were so sweet to watch Riley while we were away), Riley, and I scored some gorgeous handmade green and gold earrings that I am absolutely obsessed with.  We also had an exceptional cup of coffee at  Peregrine, and browsed through a quaint (and awesome) little used bookstore.  (Sidenote: ^ The picture of the opened book shows a glimpse of how introverts vacation.  I’m glad that both Jordan and I consider it a travel- worthy event to sit and read with coffee.)

The weather on Saturday could not be more perfect.  Chilly and crisp, complementing the changing leaves that peppered the city streets and layered the trees that canopied our drive.  I was so excited to finally have the chance (for the first time this fall) to wear boots, a scarf and cardigan!  My all time favorite attire.

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Next stop: Good Stuff Eatery.  We were told that we would find the best burgers here.  We were not lied to!  This honestly may have been my favorite meal, although it was one of the most low key.  Jordan and I realized at the end of the meal that we had not spoken one word to each other the whole time we were eating!  We were seriously that engrossed in the deliciousness that we were experiencing.  I got the “Good Stuff Melt” burger.  Oh.man.  It was the best burger I’ve eaten in my entire life.  (It probably didn’t hurt that I had removed dairy from my diet for awhile this summer, so… you better believe that I savored every.single.bite of that melty cheese!).  They have different types of flavored mayo to dip your fries in (Chipotle, Mango, and Sriracha) that were crazy good (Mango was, surprisingly, our favorite).

Oh man.  Talking about it is making me hungry!

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After that very satisfying lunch, we went to the American History Museum.  I thought it was going to be boring, but I was pleasantly surprised.  My favorite exhibit was the Food exhibit (how fitting).  It was fascinating to take a visual (and informational) look at the history of food in the US, especially the introduction to and progression of convenience foods.  They had a display of “Julia Child’s Kitchen” (pictured above), which was really neat.

(Also: I am officially adopting the Berkeley Food Pyramid for my life.)

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That evening, we walked around Old Town Alexandria, enjoying the quaint downtown feel and the waterfront.  After much deliberation, we ended up dining at Warehouse Bar & Grill for dinner.  It turned out to be an excellent choice!  Since the wait ended up being longer than we had been told, the Maitre d’ paid for three glasses of wine for us to enjoy.  Hey, I’ll wait an extra 30 minutes if it means free delicious wine!  Then we enjoyed an incredible dinner.  I forgot to take a picture, but we split a salad (with pears, Gorgonzola, and spiced pecans) and some of the best crab cakes I’ve ever tasted.

Since the “Night Life” isn’t for me, we ended up going back to the place we were staying to curl up and watch Netflix :).

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Sunday morning we slept in, drank Starbucks in bed, moved slowly and then headed to an unbelievable lunch at Zaytinya, a Mediterranean tapas restaurant.  (If you’re not familiar with tapas, it is all small plates of food, and you order several different ones).   We could not get over how tasty it was.  They had Lebanese, Greek, and Turkish food.  I enjoyed a delicious Turkish coffee to start with, and then we had all sorts of hummus, pita, garlic, feta, lamb goodness.  I cannot even remember exactly what we ordered for each dish, but I do remember how much I enjoyed it.  We would definitely recommend this place.

After lunch, we headed back to Richmond to see our baby girl.  We drove away from the city very full, feeling more connected to each other, and probably 10 lbs heavier.

We were so thankful for this getaway, but oh man did we miss our little girl!  We brought her home a stuffed dog that we named Carl (the closest thing to a pet she’s going to get), and after an initial rejection, she warmed up to him and made him her new little buddy.

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Now excuse me while I go eat a spinach salad for dinner ;).

Until next time,

KM.

The Beauty of Bread (Recipe Included)

Growing up, it was always an exciting night when my mom made her homemade bread as a dinner side. She was known for her tasty homemade bread, and for good reason. My siblings and I loved to spread instantly melting butter over the warm doughy deliciousness and often asked for seconds.

My mom eventually turned it into a ministry. At our church, she started a group (called the “Bread Ministry”) where people would take turns baking bread to give out to visitors on Sunday mornings. It was a great entry point for starting a conversation, and a way to bless those who walked through those intimidating doors for the first time. I remember admiring my mom, (even during my rebellious teen years) for starting something so awesome.

So perhaps it is to follow in my own mother’s footsteps that I have recently taken on the hobby of baking my own bread (and by “taken on” I mean I’ve only done it once so far.) As I type, I have my second ever bread attempt in the oven, filling our apartment with a tantalizing aroma. Fingers crossed that the sourdough loaves turn out as good as the honey wheat ones did the first time around!

I love the way the smell of baking bread fills our apartment. I love the way it requires me to work with my hands, carefully measuring the ingredients and kneading the dough. I love experiencing the texture, knowing that in a matter of time, this gooey mess is going to (hopefully) turn into a beautiful, flaky crust with a warm, soft center. I love imagine it filling the tummies of my family, and seeing the delight spread across their faces. I love feeling like I am creating a tradition of nourishing those in our home, that I will hopefully pass down to Riley one day.

I can only hope and pray that she grows as fond of it as I have. And I pray that she sees me use it as a way to care for others, like I watched my mother do.

As I’ve been studying the book of Acts in the New Testament lately, I couldn’t help but pay special attention to this little gem found in chapter 2, verse 46: “And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts.”

I love how there was so much joy, gratitude, and fellowship surrounding bread during the earliest days of the church.

Even today, I have found that bread creates that same spirit of community. It is surrounding a table with bread and wine that the church corporately admits to our brokenness as people, and accepts the beautiful gift of Christ’s body broken for us and his blood shed for our sins. And it is usually around bread and wine that the community of the church deepens as we enjoy one another’s company, share our greatest joys or deepest pains, study God’s word, and pray together.

So without further ado, here is my current favorite bread recipe (i.e. the only one I have successfully created thus far) ;-). My hope is that you share it with others, use it to nourish and bless those around you, and that in doing so you find yourself enjoying deep fellowship, creating rich community!

HONEY WHOLE WHEAT BREAD

Combine in mixer bowl:
-3 c. whole wheat flour
-1/2 c. dry milk
-1 T. salt
-2 pkg. dry yeast
-1/4 c. wheat germ (optional)

Heat in saucepan until warm:
-3 c. water
-1.2 c. honey
-2 T. oil

Pour warm (not hot) liquid over flour mixture. Beat with an electric mixer 3 minutes. Stir in:
-5ish additional c. whole wheat flour

Knead 5 minutes, using additional flour if necessary. Place in greased bowl, turn, let rise until double in bulk. Punch down, divide dough in half and shape into loaves. Place in greased 9×5″ bread pans. Cover and let rise 40-45 minutes. Bake at 375 for 40-45 minutes.

(From “More-with-Less” cookbook by Doris Janzen Longacre)

Enjoy!

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KM.