Thursday, September 16, 2010
I find myself thinking of this comic often: This is Why I'll Never be an Adult
I can especially relate to that with my job. I did eight things yesterday! Eight! My goal is only five! That means I don't have to do anything today and then maybe I'll do something tomorrow. And not wanting to email people back for fear of reminding them that they emailed me in the first place definitely sounds familiar.
I've caught myself applying this same methodology to a recent health goal I've set for myself, as well. I've had urinary/reproductive pain/infection/who-knows-what issues for the past 11-or-so years, and occasionally I'll hit a point with it where I decide I'm done living with it and I'm going to do all this research and try all these diet modifications and go find all these supplements and change all these lifestyle habits and ask my doctors all these questions to try and figure out what the cause is, and at least try to minimize symptoms. I'm in one of those phases right now. Since I'm at least aware enough to know that I tend to go through these phases and then take about four pills out of all the supplements I've bought and "cheat" on the new diet plan after about three days, I'm giving myself a couple of weeks to think everything over before impulse-spending too much on things that might possibly have a chance of maybe doing some good.
The only thing I know for sure I am going to purchase is a stock of GladRags cotton pads. May as well wait for the next paycheck before grabbing those, though. Plenty of time before the next time I'll need them. But in addition to (hopefully) being less irritating than disposable (bleached, chemical, plastic) pads, I like that I won't be throwing stuff away several times a day for a week out of every month. I've tried the Moon Cup before, but we just didn't get along.
The latest habit I'm trying to acquire is tracking my food/beverage intake and pain symptoms. It started out awesome for several days with me tracking, by exact minute, every single thing I would ingest, every little twinge of pain and every moment without it, and would even total up my water intake at the end of the day. I was tracking it on Google Docs since the internets are everywhere and I'd never remember to carry around a little note-pad all the time.
Then the weekend came, and the internets weren't everywhere. (See: More Reasons I Really Really Really Want a Droid.) The habit turned into making mental notes and jotting down what I could remember at the end of the day. My mental notebook isn't terribly accurate and it doesn't auto-save. There was a lot of guesswork. When the weekdays started up again, I was defeated by my lack of tracking over the weekend and pictured myself with the cartoony sadface thinking, "Oh. I should write this down. Sigh :(."
I haven't fully recovered.
I have a follow-up appointment with my primary care doctor this Monday and I was really hoping to show him something tangible. More cartoony sadface.
I'll keep trying. All I have to do is remember to jot stuff down. It's easy at work - the internets are right in front of me, all day. I just have to do it.
On a related note, I had been using the pain scale on nutraconsults.com to track the amount of pain I would have from one moment to the next, but I think I like this one better. I had been questioning the "8" I gave them at Urgent Care a couple of Saturdays ago, but no, I think that's about right. And what's awesome is it makes an 4-on-a-scale-of-10 kind of hilarious while it sucks (and while you're simultaneously happy it's down from an 8).
Posted by Karyn at 11:24 AM
Friday, September 10, 2010
We've been very busy this week -- the husband and I both took an extra couple of days off over the holiday, and spent some family time together, doing extra fun things with the little guy. (We really like our kid.) There was a theme park involved, and a discovery that we really need to take two loaves of bread to the park when we go feed the geese instead of one.
Point being, all the extra quality family time didn't lend much "work on the last project I need to finish to get my life coach certification" time. And I'm actually okay with that rather than feeling guilty. I needed the extra little guy time, and every second of every nap I took with him. Family naps are awesome.
And though I wasn't thrilled about coming back to work, even for just two days this week, I had a realization yesterday at work, too. You know those moments where you realize something completely perception-altering that is so simple you can't believe you never realized it before? It was one of those. I know I haven't written much about my job, but what I typically mention is an obvious inequality and Us vs. Them dynamic. What I realized yesterday was, I am better than this. I've been articulating things lately around that idea -- that I don't feel they're using me to my full potential, that I have a lot more to offer than they're taking advantage of, etc. -- but it's always been more of a negative phrasing of it; like, the feeling of resentment surrounding that I'm wasting away here. It dawned on me yesterday that a lot of what bothers me about it is that I know I'm better than this. Which is actually pretty huge. Instead of feeling like I'm not worth valuing, I know I am valuable and that they just don't see it. That's their loss. "What they think of me is none of my business." Along with this realization came another: keeping my productivity low due to being disgruntled is just proving them right. If I don't like my job because I'm better than it, rather than not good enough for it, it means I can kick my to-do list's butt instead of pretending it's not there until 4:15 every day and skirting by with as little as possible. It's not that I'm out to prove them wrong; it's more, I just feel dirty being a slacker, because I'm better than that. This whole concept has shifted me from being angry that I'm not getting praise for hard work, to feeling self-motivated to be my best just because I can.
I kind of kick butt, and I forget that sometimes in situations where I'm not reminded occasionally.
So on that note, in an effort to continue being "better than this" and (grammar aside) even more better in general, I restarted my Mindbloom life tree with more appropriate goals in mind. Okay, so part of my want to restart my tree had to do with a glitch in my account that gave me an extra 18,000 seeds (points) that I didn't have to earn, which took the fun out of completing tasks or reaching goals, so starting over gave me motivation to earn seeds correctly again, too. With better goals. On this tree, I added a "Spirituality" branch, and started small with the two actions, 1) Take a few minutes for a relaxing meditation, and 2) Reflect on your spiritual health by journaling on paper. I scheduled the items for every day. I'm hoping my love of check marks (I do love me some check marks) and earning points correctly again will kick my butt into actually taking those few minutes for myself, which I've always seemed to have a hard time doing. Check marks are highly motivating. (You should see my work to-do list. It has boxes for check marks. And is color coded by day. And then I count the check marks and log them into daytum.com so I can keep track of my check marks and work toward a higher average.)
(Side story about spirituality, really more about my kid: Since my grandpa died last November, I've been working with Raiden on understanding death. I explained that Grandpa died because he got very sick, and instead of his body getting better the way Raiden's does when he gets sick, it couldn't get better and it stopped working. That took several explanations before he got it, and then I realized I'd left out the spiritual component and explained to him that when you die and your body stops working, your spirit -- the part inside you that thinks and learns -- goes back to the spirit world for a while, and when it's ready, it goes into a new little baby's body in their mommy's tummy, and comes back for another life in that body. We're still working on this one, understanding that it doesn't go back into the same body again and that the person doesn't really come back as the same person. But he's getting there. So the real part I was getting at is this -- when he was playing with a little boy (about 10 I guess) at Kung Fu last night, he would pretend-hit the other kid with a "sword" (a foam bat), the kid would fall over and play dead, and after checking his pulse the way Obi Wan does Luke when the Sand People knock him out, he asked him, "Is your spirit still in there? Are you dead? Does your spirit need a new body?" I chuckled to myself and just hoped that no one in class was anti-reincarnation... )
Anyway, where was I? Right; using check marks to encourage myself to remember that it's okay to take time for myself. Because I'd sure hate to have to mark those a red X instead of a green check mark. My real goal on that? Is to prove to myself that the world will not, in fact, crash into rubble around me if I take 10 whole minutes for myself once a day, rather than feeling like I have to keep its weight on my shoulders. That will be an excellent thing for me to learn.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
In three days and ten minutes from now, I will be leaving for Michigan for six days, to make my grand return to The Great Lakes Retreat, after a three-year absence. Last year I was unable to attend due to an already-high travel budget and already-busy travel schedule for iPEC coach training. The year before that, I had a 15 month old, who I was still somewhat nursing and was not ready to leave for a week. The year before that, I had a 3 month old, so apply the previous reason and multiply it by seventeen. The year before that, my husband went to Retreat with me, and our son was conceived. The year before that was only my second year there, and the year before that was, obviously, my first.
My first year there, I already felt like I'd found a new family and had discovered the happiest place on Earth. It's a spiritual retreat, full of all levels of psychics and healers and numerologists and (literal) tree huggers, and I freaking loved it. In normal life, I'm just far enough into hippie and outside of normal that I feel just a little bit odd and like it's best to dial myself down. There? I almost feel out of place being so low-level odd. There, it's "normal" to be really, really far out there, which is a totally different mindset, and one I enjoy adopting. There, everyone has different spiritual beliefs, and can direct their "prayers" or "energy" or what have you toward God, Goddess, Mother Earth, Mother Nature, Jesus, their Higher Self, the Creator, or Whomever They Choose and everyone else is simply okay with that. There's discussion about what others believe and why, that is discussion and not argument, brought forth from genuine curiosity rather than skepticism or an intention to convert or ridicule. In short: it is so happy there, with such a feeling of love all around you at (almost)* all times that it makes you want to cry with happy at the end of the week because it is the very manifestation of "can't we all just get along?" and you see that yes, actually, we can, so why can't we?
*(I mean, there is the occasional Odd Duck who is really, really odd whom you kind of want to avoid if you can. But then, sometimes, those Odd Ducks are the folks you end up learning a lot about yourself from by the end of the week. Usually about judgment from calling them Odd Ducks and then watching them have a life-altering realization and transforming themselves by the end of the week, when you'd written them off at the beginning. Or seeing someone you thought was closed off and negative be incredibly loving and positive. You just never know, and sometimes it's good to be reminded of that.)
I'm going to miss my family like crazy. My husband, though, is looking forward to some Daddy Time while Mommy's away, to catch up with the little guy a bit while we're not in default Mommy Just Handles Everything mode. I'm sure that popcorn and pizza will be consumed in abundant quantities. I also figure that tents will be built, and sleeping on the living room floor will be done. My husband, I have to say, turns into Superdad when I'm away, and while sometimes I lament that it'd be nice if he were Superdad while I'm here, too, it's good to know that they'll have a great time together while I'm gone.
The little things that I'm looking forward to:
- Morning meditation -- something I keep meaning to do for myself at home, but which never seems to happen.
- Having three meals per day provided for me without the "I dunno, whadda you wanna do?" conversation taking long enough that there's no more time to cook.
- The healing center -- even if you take a total skeptical point of view about energy-type healing, you'd still have to admit that going to a relaxing room where you have the full attention of someone only intending good for you, is a good thing.
- Taking the same seat at the morning and evening lectures that I've taken every other year I've been there, just because.
- Having real, thought-provoking discussions that give me a chance to explain and challenge my ways of thinking.
- Popcorn, and bad karaoke.
I just hope I remember to pack pictures of my kid.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
For no apparent reason, I suddenly had the overwhelming urge to share with you all the natural, chemical-free stuff that I use on a regular basis.
I currently mix 2-3tsp of baking soda with 8oz of water. Don't laugh; I mix it in the peri bottle I got from the hospital when I had Raiden. And I only use about 1/4 of the bottle when I wash my hair.
This took a lot of trial and error, and seems to have finally decided to work perfectly, after I cut nearly a foot of hair off my head. My long hair seemed to feel like there was build-up on it a lot, and my short hair doesn't at all. I don't know if my long hair was damaged or just not rinsing cleanly or what, but it felt yucky, and I'd still have to use shampoo every fourth shampoo or so to get rid of it.
Since getting the hair whacked off, I haven't used shampoo once. The way it gets dirty now is completely different than how it got dirty before. With shampoo, you're stripping away your body's natural oils and your scalp freaks out and overcompensates by making itself more oily. With baking soda, it just sort of removes the excess oil without stripping anything, and it feels like a cleaner oil. I can go 3-4 days without washing at this point, and even when it starts looking like it needs to be washed, it doesn't look gross, and it doesn't feel dirty when I run my hands through my hair. Just a totally different world.
About 2tbsp of apple cider vinegar (ACV) in about 8oz of water. Typically I slosh some ACV into a cup and hold the cup up to the shower head until it looks like about a cup or so. After washing and rinsing well with the baking soda, I pour the entire cup of water over my head, massage it in, and let it set until I'm ready to rinse it out. My hair is the softest it's ever been.
I have definitely learned to use a higher quality, more natural ACV. Braggs is good, though there was another natural, organic variety right next to it at the health food store for a dollar or two cheaper, so I got that instead. Before, I used Kroger brand cheap ACV, and it made my hair feel really oily. Also the smell isn't as strong, and goes away faster, with the higher quality ACV. Yes, the smell goes away when it dries. It kind of smells like, um, nothing.
This is a recent one. I tried making homemade flax seed hair gel (boil flax in water and then strain; I've seen varying amounts of flax/water suggested online). Hahaha, fail. Trying to "strain" this mixture of goo was absolutely ridiculous and looked totally inappropriate, dripping out the bottom of the strainer. I'll say it: I nicknamed it "flax jizz." I was able to salvage enough to put in a little bottle and it doesn't suck to use, but oh man, not a process worth repeating. I saw a suggestion somewhere online that said to put the flax in some old nylons and then boil, so you don't have the problem with straining, but we'll see.
My next try -- lemon hairspray -- worked much better. Cube one lemon, or orange, or half of each (something, somewhere said that the orange is better for dry hair) (I used a large lemon), and boil it in 2 cups of water until the amount is reduced by half; strain and pour into a spray bottle. This, I love. I probably ought to strain it a little more thoroughly, as a bit of pulp came through the wire mesh strainer, but I'm not bothered by it enough to do anything about it.
I've used this a few times now, both having sprayed it on when my hair was wet and letting it dry along with it, and spraying it on when dry, and it seems to work well either way. It's just enough to keep the flippy-outty part of my hair from falling flat, and helps it keep some of the wave, without feeling yucky later.
I use henna, instead of dye. Check out http://www.hennaforhair.com/ for all kinds of info. The color looks more natural (it stains each hair individually rather than dying it one certain shade, so there's still a natural color variance), it makes your hair stronger and softer, and it's an anti-fungal, which means anti-dandruff. I mix mine with tea (what kind depends on what mood I'm in, but it's been apple-chamomile the past few times), and you can get a different color shade depending on what you mix it with, as well. Turns out mixing it with chamomile is supposed to make it more golden. I wish I'd read that before I mixed it with chamomile and hoped it'd turn out a cooler red rather than warmer. Oh well, now I know.
You'll see some repeats here.
The same baking soda and water mixture I use on my hair. I squirt some on a wash rag, and wash my face. The end.
A 50/50 mixture of ACV and water. I keep a mixture in a tiny Gladware tub in my medicine cabinet, and dip in a corner of a wash rag then run it over my face.
Raw, unrefined coconut oil, with a few drops of Rose essential oil and Sweet Orange essential oil. Coconut oil is good for pretty much everything and is supposed to be a good anti-wrinkle product, too. Rose oil is good energy, sweet orange oil is supposed to be energizing, and mostly, I just like the combination of scents. I'll use a little of the mixture for lip gloss every now and then, too.
Another repeat: while I'm slathering the 50/50 ACV/water mixture over my face, I do the same for my underarms. The acidity in the ACV raises your pH so bacteria can't grow. No body odor. No chemicals giving me breast cancer. I still sweat (it's not an anti-perspirant), it's just not stinky.
Next up, I want to try making my own natural bug repellent from essential oils as seen here (at the bottom) and here. The little one and I can attract every chigger and mosquito within a 12 mile radius. My poor kid, he even had chigger bites on his scrotum recently. I can't imagine that would be pleasant.
I'm looking into some natural flea remedies today, too, as I don't like the idea of spraying my cats or carpet with chemicals and poisons that "should" be safe when they dry. So far I've found Diatomaceous Earth that I could sprinkle around the house, and a few more natural options to use in/on the pet, that I need to do a bit more looking on, but it's a good starting point.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
I discovered a couple of new blogs the other day. One, a blog where anyone can submit their "drive-by meddling" stories of well-meaning strangers offering them unsolicited parenting advice -- That Baby Looks Cold! -- and another, found via a story posted on the former, generally relating the funny things that happen when you're raising small children -- Parenting Ad Absurdum.
The post that particularly caught my eye was this: How I was totally judgmental before I had kids.
In short, the author relates that before you have kids, you judge parents you see out in public, based on the small glimpse you're given of their day, their kids, and the way they handle them; yet once you have kids of your own, you start understanding how the frazzled parent who snapped at their youngster for something seemingly small, or the parent blatantly ignoring their child asking them questions, or the parent with the clearly-underdressed-for-the-weather child could have gotten to that point.
I had a friend tell me recently that his wife -- they are childless, I might add -- couldn't believe some of the parenting she'd seen going on while she was out one day. One example was of a child screaming at his mother in the restroom that he didn't want to go potty and you can't make me etc., and the mom just sort of ignoring it and dragging him along, anyway. I will admit, even having a child of my own, I judged the mom being described -- if the kid doesn't have to pee, don't make him pee, and why are you letting him scream at you like that??
Fast forward a couple of weeks, to the Friday after my father-in-law's birthday. We were to have a family dinner at a buffet place nearby -- myself, my husband, my parents-in-law, my brother-in-law, and my grandmother-in-law, along with, of course, my three year old son, who, I found out early during dinner conversation, had refused to take a nap that day. (Note: my parents-in-law watch my son during the day.)
"I wanna go with Mommy!" *clings to Mommy's leg; Mommy and he go to get a plate of food*
"NO I wanna go find Papa!" *yanks hand out from Mommy's grip, runs into a crowd of people, shrieks when Mommy calls his name to Come Back Here Right Now*
"NO I WANT PAPA TO DO IT!" *sees Papa, runs to him, Papa says he'll take care of it*
Back at the table, the plate Papa filled for him is in front of his chair, which he refuses to sit in. "I wanna sit with Papa!" Fine. "I don't wanna take a bite!" Fine. What do you want? "I don't want ANYTHING! I'm full! I'm all done! I want down!" Well, we're all still eating, please sit at the table until everyone is finished, and then we'll go. "No I want cake!" You'll have to eat some healthy food before we get cake. You have fish and green beans on your plate, let's take a few bites. "No I'm full! I want cake!" You can have cake, after you eat some healthy food first. "I'm full! I want down!" Please stay in your chair.
Daddy goes for seconds, and then Papa, while Mommy here still has the same food on her plate from Round One, with about 4 bites taken, total.
"I wanna go with Daddy!" Sorry buddy, Daddy already walked too far away, we'll let him know next time. "No I'll go find Daddy!" There are too many people around and I don't want you to get lost; please wait here for Daddy. "I wanna go with Papa!" Heavy sigh. I take bite number five.
After having generally everything argued with, I stopped responding except for occasionally reaching over to grab his arm and hold him in place in his chair, which would, of course, make him scream. Finally realizing that nothing he was doing was getting the desired response, he pulled out his golden ticket: "I need to peepee!"
I put down my fork, because I am that mom on A Christmas Story who doesn't get to eat her own hot meal, I grimace at my husband because of course there's no notion that anyone other than Mommy could take a child to the bathroom, he smiles apologetically while eating his second plate of food while my first is less than 1/4 eaten so far, I grab my son and we walk nicely to the restroom. On the opposite end of the restaurant.
Before we even make it to the restroom, I'm already hearing protests of "No I don't want to peepee!" which I ignore. We walk into the bathroom (of a buffet joint. on the low-income end of town. in which the floor is sticky.) and my son is doing his damnedest to pull out of my grip, screaming at me "No! I don't want to peepee! I don't want to peepee!"
And suddenly I am reminded of both the blog post I stumbled across, and the mother witnessed by my friend's wife.
I am that mom.
I turn to the lady in the restroom who is washing her hands and pretending to ignore us and tell her flatly, "This is after he insisted that he needed to go." She smiled an "I'm a mom, too, I get it" smile and left, thankfully leaving the entire restroom empty so that I could beat my child within an inch of his life and have no witnesses.
Instead, he got a very stern talking to about how I listened to him and he told me he had to peepee, I was trying to be a good responsible Mommy and take care of him by getting him to a potty, and it was not nice to tell me he needed to peepee and then yell at me for taking him. He stopped screaming and used the potty. We washed hands, used the air blower to dry them (which he loves), and I thought to myself, Good, we have an understanding now.
Which, of course, we didn't.
We got halfway back to the table before he was pulling out of my hand again and running away into crowds of people again and yelling at me for asking him to stop again and demanding to sit with Papa and not eat any of his food again and proclaiming that he needed cake again and finally, after e-freaking-nough of that, and after he started just plain screaming rather than even screaming words at me, I proclaimed myself Done.
I stood up, grabbed my purse, grabbed my screaming child, left my 2/3-full plate of food on the table, and walked out of the restaurant.
He was, would you believe, screaming at me the entire walk out to the car. I was not responding to him in the slightest because I knew if I did, I would freaking lose it on him. My primary concern at that moment was simply making it to the car instead of throwing him in front of one.
We got to the car, I jostled him around but did not put him down, no freaking way to dig through my purse-that-eats-car-keys to get the car keys, unlocked the car, put him straight into the car seat, battled flailing arms and legs to buckle him in, moved to the front seat, and planned to sit there for as long as it took for my husband to come out with us but I was not talking to him anymore. Scream away, kid, Mommy's checked out. Mommy's sitting in the front seat in her happy place where there are no screaming children and she gets to finish a meal without being asked to wipe anyone's nose.
My husband wasn't too far behind us -- had apparently just taken enough time to apologize for our son's behavior -- and once he started sternly talking to our child about What He Had Just Done and Why That Was Not Okay, with information comprehensible by a 3-year-old such as "That was Papa's birthday and you made Papa SAD and made Mommy and Daddy MAD by screaming, fighting, and not listening!" The child argued back, "I wasn't all done yet! I'm still hungry!" and uh oh, he said the wrong thing, and my MadMommy floodgate was broken.
I wasn't all done yet either and I'm still hungry too and I just wanted to eat dinner and have a nice boy and Papa just wanted to have dinner with his family and you were NOT A NICE BOY and you made us SAD AND MAD and YOU SAID YOU WERE ALL DONE AND DIDN'T TAKE BITES AND YOU WEREN'T SITTING IN YOUR CHAIR AND... well, etc.
By the end of the 10-minute drive home, he had fallen asleep.
Well, that explains it. Tired, plus the fact that his argumentative side comes out in an exponential factor correlating with however many adult authority figures are around for him to see if they really mean it.
And that, folks, is why that mom was dragging her kid into the bathroom even though he was screaming that he didn't want to go, and why she wasn't responding to it at that point to try and get him to stop screaming.
At that point, putting a jacket on him for a short walk to the car in chilly weather is just a battle not worth fighting today.
Monday, March 22, 2010
So, as it turns out, this whole vegan thing isn't nearly as difficult as I'd anticipated. And on top of that, I actually kind of like it.
We are cooking at home more and eating out less. This was one of my primary goals with the decision to go vegan for Lent: break terrible, lazy habits about food. I don't know how many evenings in our household went something like, "I dunno, whadda you wanna do?" until we were starving and decided, "Fine, Taco Bell again?" Being vegan -- especially being vegan and eating gluten free -- we have about three viable options for eating out:
- Taco Bell, still. A bean burrito minus cheese (for the husband, who is not gluten intolerant); triple layer nachos minus cheese; or pintos and cheese, minus cheese.
- McAlisters. Spud Olé, with veggie chili, no cheese, no sour cream or butter. Or just a bowl of veggie chili itself.
- Qdoba. Grilled veggie burrito (naked for me), with only salsa and guacamole for toppings.
None of which are bad, but all of which get very old very quickly. I'm pretty done with Taco Bell atm, and McAlisters and Qdoba are too pricey to do very often. So we're cooking more at home.
And because we're cooking more at home, with an altered diet to pay attention to, that means we're trying a ton of new recipes, being a lot more creative with what we're making, and eating a lot more vegetables than we had been. We don't feel the need to have meat every meal and top everything with cheese or sour cream or whatever other additives, either, which has been pretty eye opening about what we didn't need before that we were simply in the habit of doing, anyway.
This also means that we're both slimming down! Which neither of us will complain about, thanks. (...Of course, I'm a terrible cook, so a lot of the nights I cook instead of Rich, we'll also have smaller portions, because "tolerable" does not lend itself to being overeaten.)
Some of the recipes we've encountered or otherwise concocted for ourselves, have been pretty dang good, if I do say so myself. For example, enchiladas without cheese, covered in homemade enchilada sauce that doesn't use broth, filled with refried (or simply mashed) beans, veggies and rice, are fabulous. Neither of us even missed the cheese, or the meat. They were tasty, and filling, and there was no problem finishing off the leftovers.
Also? Vegetable pakoras. Holy. Crap. I could eat this every day. The two year old loved them, too, for the record. And being gluten intolerant and loving Indian food meant we actually had all the batter ingredients on hand. We did it a little differently than the recipe says to, though, based on what we've had (and liked) at the local Indian restaurant. Rather than cutting up cauliflower and slicing onion rings to dip into the batter and then fry, instead we shredded together (thank you, food processor grating attachment) carrots, mushrooms, yellow squash, cauliflower, and broccoli -- basically, what we had in the fridge and needed to use -- and then mixed the shredded veggies into the batter, and deep fried spoonfuls of the mixture. Rich said that he held it in place on the spoon for 30 seconds before dropping it into the oil, so it would sear around the outside and hold together better. Super, super tasty.
Another recent favorite is vegan bean taco filling. The toddler thought they were a little spicy the first round, so I cut back the cayenne the second round and it seemed to work better. (Yes, I cooked this, and it still turned out good! That says a lot.) Different salsas would give different flavors and spice levels, I'm sure, too. (The first time I made them, I thought we were out of salsa so I used Ro-Tel. The second, I'd found salsa, but it was Medium, so still a bit spicy.) The husband found the mushy bean texture combined with the crispy taco shell to be a little weird for him, so he, instead, steamed some corn tortilla flours and made it into a burrito or soft taco instead. He also whipped up some guacamole to top them with, and, the second time I made them, I planned ahead and got some fresh spinach (we rarely, if ever, use lettuce for anything) and alfalfa sprouts to put in the tacos as well. Because we're hippies. But I liked it, so there. In fact, some of the leftovers are sitting in the work fridge right now, just waiting for me. Taunting me.
The husband also whipped up some makeshift "pie," because we had both a sweet potato and a butternut squash that had been bought with the best of intentions, but were starting to go bad. He sliced and steamed them, then used a recipe for pumpkin pie to determine which spices to use, and used vanilla almond milk instead of evaporated or sweetened condensed milk or whatever it is that pie calls for. (For crust, he just mixed together rice flour, Smart Balance Light margarine, and oil. It dried out a bit too much but worked.) We didn't add eggs, obviously, so it didn't firm up, but the flavor was still there. He'd made enough that we've been eating the rest like pudding :). Since, I've found some recipes for vegan egg replacements, some involving starches, some involving flax. Maybe next round, we'll try one of those.
For the quick and easy end of things, we've discovered Tasty Bite brand microwaveable Indian food. We've had other microwaveable Indian foods before, with um... little success. But every single one of these that we've tried, has been excellent. Of course, not every meal is vegan, nor is every meal gluten free, but guess what: it is clearly labeled on the back of the packaging! At one glance, we can clearly find "vegan" and "gluten free," along with "vegetarian," "no MSG," and a few other options I can't remember off the top of my head. Let me tell you, this makes life easy. Some meals you have to dump into a bowl and then nuke for 90 seconds, others you can heat in the package for 90 seconds and then dump into a bowl, so it's six of one, half a dozen of the other on that, really. I do think they seem a little runny, but if you add rice, that problem is solved. (The microwaveable brown Minute Rice is nice, though I keep meaning to make up a large pot of my own brown rice to stick in the fridge for such occasions. Really, I'm not big on microwaveable stuff at all, and used to not even own a microwave, but when it comes to needing to eat at work and such, well, sometimes isn't terrible, and I just try not to do it often.)
Of those, the husband favors the Bombay Potatoes, and my favorite is the Channa Masala. We also bought the Pad Thai simmer sauce, which was used as another "what veggies do we have in the fridge that need to be used?" type of dinner, and was also a success. Again, the toddler approved. I do wish we'd planned ahead and baked some tofu to toss in with it, but oh well, there's always next time.
It's less than a week now until the end of Lent. Frankly, we expected the transition from a standard American diet to a vegan diet to be a lot more difficult than it was. It's gone well enough for us, that we actually want to continue this type of diet... mostly. I feel that our purposes for trying this diet have been met -- we're eating healthier, eating more veggies, cooking more at home, and wasting less money eating out. It's easier to turn down treats at work because they are typically in cookie or cupcake form, and it feels good to be able to say no. We both feel better, and as I said, we're both slimming down. But like I said at the start of this, I do think that humans are biologically built to need some meat. So, here's what we've decided:
- Since eating a vegan diet has helped us turn down foods that we should probably be turning down anyway (given my gluten intolerance and his sugar processing issues), we will continue to eat a vegan diet while out of the house.
- At home, we will primarily eat a vegetarian diet, mostly because the husband feels like he is going to die without eggs. This will still probably mean a good portion of vegan dishes, as not everything needs milk, cheese, or egg. And since we'll be using less of it, anyway, I personally would like to justify the expense of only getting free range eggs, but we'll see how long that lasts, because we're also cheap. I'm thinking I may continue to skip dairy entirely... or at least for the most part. I'm actually kind of curious to see, now that it's been out of my system for a while, if I have a reaction to it the way I think I might.
- Once or twice a month, we will treat ourselves whether at home or at a nice, good quality restaurant, to some kind of meat something. This will also include birthday outings with our friends, so they don't have to accommodate for us weirdos. But we don't want this to revert us back to lazy habits of, "Eh, it's almost been a month, I'm hungry and lazy, do you wanna just grab some burgers?" If we're going to eat meat, it will be good quality meat.
Notice I said I want to eat a "primarily vegan/vegetarian diet." I do not want to be "a vegan" or "a vegetarian" who "cheats" on occasion. Mostly, because I don't want to label myself, and then feel like I have to justify eating anything "a vegan" or "a vegetarian" wouldn't eat. As I said before, I'm doing this because of how foods affect my body, not to save the planet. I just want to be healthy. And I think eating some meat, sometimes, is healthy. I'm just very glad I broke the mindset that meat and dairy have to be everywhere for something to be a balanced meal.