This Mother’s Day Goes Out To All Women

By the end of this year I will have 1 niece and 5 nephews and no children of my own. I am not about to ask people to pity me, this is more about empowerment through sharing your story. As I have stated, I have infertility. I first started feeling like I really want children at the age of about 28, maybe 29. So 5 years ago. I knew it would not be easy and after a procedure, getting off the pill and doing everything I was told to do to regulate my cycle, I still have infertility.

I feel done with crying. I know there is a chance I may never be a mother. However, I still have hope. I just scheduled a midwife visit, since I now have insurance. I know I am not a good candidate for IVF and I have heard stories from many women lately about their struggles to get pregnant or even adopt. I feel like there is still more I can do and I know my life can provide something.

It has been a joy to welcome my niece and nephews into my life. I do not care that some folks tell me that the children of my cousin who I grew up with like a sister and my best friend of over 20 years, are not my niece and nephews. I am close to them and I love them. Even if I am not able to have children, I have these wonderful kiddos in my life. I send them books and see them grow and have all sort of hopes and dreams for them. Dreams of them being completely happy.

This Mother’s Day, I am thinking about all women. Those I know who are mothers, those I know who have lost their child(ren) due to miscarriage or tragedy, and those of us who want to become mothers, but it is not as easy as we once thought it would be. Happy Mother’s Day and may the beautiful children we are blessed to be apart of their lives grow up to be incredibly happy.

Farmer’s Market Inspiration

Since my move, I have been enjoying the local farmer’s market a lot more. This farmer’s market is open 3 – 4 days a week YEAR-ROUND! I love it! Plus, it is so close to our apartment that I can bike to it in about 20 – 25 minutes. With this amazing resource, we have been eating plenty of vegetable-heavy meals and I thought I would share them with you this week.

Baked Beans on Roasted Potatoes with a Soft Boiled Egg

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For this, I roasted 2 potatoes sliced into wedges, soft boiled an egg and made Brand New Vegan’s Baked Beans in our new Instant Pot, but I substituted 1/4 cup maple syrup for the 2 sweeteners in the recipe. It was plenty sweet for us with half the amount of sweetener and we both felt that the Costco maple syrup was a great addition to the flavor. I picked up the potatoes ($1/lb), peppers (50¢), onion (50¢) and free range eggs ($1.75) from my farmer’s market. The navy beans I was able to grab from the co-op down the street from the market. All you need to do is pour 3/4 – 1 cup of the beans over your potatoes and slice your egg over the top.

Peach and Blueberry Chia Seed Pudding (as seen on Instagram)

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Chia seed pudding is so easy and perfect for the days I commute 2 hours to work. To make it I just grabbed an old glass peanut butter jar I use for storage now and put one chopped peach, an ounce of almonds, 2 tablespoons chia seeds, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 cup unsweetened soy milk and filled it the rest of the way with blueberries. Shake it up really good and let it sit in the fridge overnight for a great breakfast in the morning. The peaches ($2.75 for a peck), blueberries ($3/lb) and raw almonds ($5/lb) are from the market.

Mixed Fruit and Yogurt

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Another way we have used the new Instant Pot was to make yogurt. We could not believe how easy this was, nor how much better it was than store bought yogurt. Yes, it does take time, but it is mostly hands off time and you can make it while you sleeping or are at work. I enjoy taking a cup of yogurt and adding in peaches ($2.75 for a peck), nectarines ($2.75 for a peck), cherries ($3/lb), blueberries ($3/lb) and whatever fruit I get my hands on at the market.

Chinese Five Spice Veggie Balls with Zucchini Over Ramen Noodles

This is the one dish took work, mainly because it was the first time I prepared it and I made it up from different recipes I found online. I was trying to make veggie balls like the ones you can get at IKEA, but with an asian flare. I used 1 cup leftover brown rice, 1 cup cooked beans, 1/2 cup nut meal (this, oats and rice are great options to make meat ball or meat loaf type things gluten-free by the way), a chopped onion, a chopped red bell pepper, 1/2 cup corn, 1 cup chopped kale steamed, 2 tablespoons ginger, 1 tablespoon garlic, a lot of spices and salt and pepper to taste. I recommend picking up a Chinese 5 spice mix to simplify things.

Then, I sautéed the vegetables with the spices and then combined the beans and vegetables in the food processor for a few pulses. Using a cookie scoop, I made 1 inch balls and baked them at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, making sure to rotate/flip them half way through. I placed them with some roasted zucchini over ramen noodles tossed with hoisin sauce, sesame seeds and green onions. Its not the prettiest, but for my first try at making these they were not too bad. I have some adjustments I plan to make. I picked up the onion (50¢), pepper (50¢), corn (5 ears for $1), zucchini ($1 for a 2 ft long zucchini), green onion ($1 per bunch) and kale ($2.50 per huge bunch, its double the size of the bunches I have picked up from Whole Foods) from the farmer’s market.

Chickpea and Eggplant Burger Salad with Tomatoes, Beet Hummus and Chèvre

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I picked up romaine (3 heads for $1), eggplant ($1), tomatoes ($1 for a basket of 5 medium sized tomatoes), beets ($1 for 5) and locally produced chèvre ($8 for 8 oz) from the market to recreate the burger I told you about from Atlanta. I decided to put it into salad form though because they were out of the bread I love and I got a sweet deal on some romaine.

I started by soaking 1 cup dried chickpeas for at least 24 hours. In a food processor, I pulsed my well soaked chickpeas, 1 cup nuts, handful of fresh parsley, a few sprigs of fresh mint, 1 tablespoon cumin, 2 tablespoons lemon juice and salt and pepper. I formed the mix into 6 burger patties and baked them on a lightly grease baking sheet until golden brown on each side, I think it took 20 min on each side.

While the burgers were baking I made beet hummus by steaming 1 lb. of beets in the Instant Pot. Then I added the peeled steamed beets to a food processor with 2 tablespoons tahini, 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 tablespoon cumin to blend until smooth. I then assembled the salad with the romaine, chopped tomatoes, dollops of beet hummus, crumbled chèvre, balsamic vinegar and the burger crumbled on top.

Mushroom and Kale Dip

The market has a great mushroom ($4 bag which varies in size based on type of mushroom) stand so I saw this as a brilliant opportunity to recreate a dip my friend brought to one of my last bingo nights before I moved. We had this with cheese and crackers for lunch one day. To make this I tossed cooked beans and lentils, lemon juice, salt, pepper, poultry seasoning and sautéed mushrooms, kale and onion in a food processor and pulsed until it was a gritty hummus like consistency.

I will try to add the other picture on Instagram or to this post this week. I would love to hear and see your farmer’s market creations in the comments below or tag me on Instagram! 🙂 #FarmersMarketInspired

To end this post on a very real note, there is also a Jamaican vegan bakery one day a week at the market and this week I enjoyed a bag filled with mango passionfruit goodness in the form of something they called Caribbean tear drops. YUM! No picture because I inhaled before I even left the market. 😉 They reminded me of these Cuban pastries my mother-in-law gave us once, a pocket of juicy flavor in a small pocket of crispy pastry. ❤

 

Blog-iversary!

I have been writing this blog for a whole year. Sharing my life, product reviews and experiences openly through this venue has felt influential. I appreciate all the likes, comments and support from those who have read my blog. Writing has been a great weekly practice for me and I feel as though I have learned a lot about myself in the process. In addition, this means its my birthday again and I am excited to share with you how I celebrated.

What I have learned…

I really thought of myself for a long time as a weak writer and story teller. I had this assumption that because I had done poorly in a subject (in my case English grammar and literature) when I was in school that I could never write well. I feel that I can communicate my points and keep things concise.

I also thought I was not interesting enough. I do not live a very dramatic life nor am I a thrill seeker, but it seems like that is not what people are looking for. When I look at who I follow on social media and blogs, I realize I am looking to see how other people live to become inspired and feel secure in the actions and feelings I challenge myself on. I get the sense that others are like me in ways I was once made to feel was uncool. Learning from others and sharing myself has made me more confident with my intelligence, awkwardness and capabilities.

I do not let the haters in. I had a few not so nice comments through this blog and Instagram. I wondered how they would make me feel before I began this journey. I really did not think of the negative comments as something about me though. I feel they are more about the pain that person may be going through. Although, I wish they would find a different way to express their pain, I really hope things become better for them. I want a lovely life not just for me, but for everyone.

What I did for my birthday, affordable and balanced

I started this blog on my 30th birthday and tomorrow is my 31st year. I am someone who prefers a low key celebration with close family and friends, such as a BBQ that is focused on just bringing those I cherish together. I like some adventure, while I enjoy the things I love most (eating, moving and laughing).

This weekend my partner came to visit and yesterday, we ate like the French. A delicate pastry for breakfast, a steamed mandoo as a satiating lunch, a shared slice of Bavarian raspberry torte for our sweet afternoon treat and a healthy, hearty dinner of falafel beet hummus salad with a bratwurst. We focused on eating the delicious things that we would miss in this town.

As for activities, we explored a couple neighborhoods and worked on designing a computer for me, since the computer I have been using will be returned to the museum on my last day of work. My partner is a computer and electrical engineer, so he this is something he loves being able to show me how to do, especially because it can be a much more affordable computer. The first computer he built for himself lasted from 2009 until just a week ago… thats 8 YEARS! It cost as much as the last machine I purchased from HP, which only lasted 3 years…

As for tomorrow, my actual birthday. I am going to wake up and have a slice of cake for breakfast. Yep, I purchased a special slice of cake from one of my favorite places just to eat for breakfast on my birthday. It was one of the things I really wanted for my birthday and it only cost me $5. I will Instagram this beautiful slice for you. 🙂

Thank you for reading my posts each week and look forward to more on the way! I am looking forward to what this next year brings 🙂

Sugar: Marketing Impact Part 4

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I want to “discuss” (because it is not like I am sitting with you to talk about this) the how companies are impacting what we consume. I will just present my thought in main points, but I would love to hear what you think in the comments below.

I Feel:

  • You can see sweets are in your face EVERYWHERE! Next time you are in the convenience store or grocery, pay close attention to what is eye level for you and children. What is the most accessible and visible products when you first walk into your grocery store?
  • Sugars (processes, artificial and natural) are included in ingredients lists for things that it does not even make sense to have sugar in it. Look at the ingredients of the snack and packaged food items in your pantry:
    • How many of them have sugars in the list of ingredients?
    • Where is sugar on the list? Is it within the first 5 ingredients? Should it be so prevalent in the item you are looking at?
  • Sugar is not the devil, but companies are making it out to be. Most companies have their profit in mind, not our health. If adding certain ingredients creates a product that you can get hooked on, they will do it regardless of whether it is good for people to be consuming it.
  • Snack foods and sugary beverages do not solve the world’s food problems.

We Can Do More:

  • Easiest thing, make different choices.
    • Educate yourself. This can be as easy as watching Jaime Oliver’s Sugar Rush, That Sugar Film or the documentary Fed Up.
    • Learn to make simple healthy food. Not enough time? Consider how you can make it work for you.
      • Slow cookers can save you time.
      • Pre-chopped vegetables and fruits may cost more, but could be worth the time saved.
      • Keep it simple. Salt, Pepper and Olive oil can create a lot of great flavor to your protein and vegetables.
    • Reduce or stop purchasing processed foods.
    • Request products at your grocery with simpler ingredients (5 ingredients or less) and that do not contained additives of which you have no clue what they are. Did you know you can submit requests for certain products in your local store? I even submitted a request at my local Whole Foods and they listened! 🙂
  • Contact your politicians to voice your priorities.
    • They should listen to their community to vote on legislation and make decisions
    • If they can propose groceries stop distributing disposable bags, then they should be able to propose a tax on junk food and beverages or change up requirements of how stores are set up.
    • They could impact what is provided in schools.
  • Get involved at your child’s school.
    • Provide whole foods for your kid’s snacks and lunches.
    • Talk with the science teacher about a field trip to a farm or garden to help the students understand where their food comes from.
    • Members if the PTA at some schools can work to make changes to what kind of foods children are provided.
  • Contact brands with the number/email on the back of the package and provide your feedback on the ingredients they use.

The research I have been doing for this blog has me chanting, “I want to be more active in my community regarding this topic, I expect more from the food provided to me and I can not sit by anymore listening to the statistics of our country’s health crisis. I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore.”

So now what? I take action. I continue picking up that phone to call my city representative, making requests at my local grocery stores, purchasing whole foods to make simple, healthy meals, taking advantage of opportunities when someone asks me about what I am doing to feel so great and writing posts for this blog to show people it is possible on a budget. I want to impact people in a positive way, the same way I have seen people change how they feel about science in my work at the museum everyday. Positive experiences are long lasting. I hope my passion and actions are providing that to others.

 

Defining Wellness

Recently, I participated in a survey regarding how I define wellness. Without being fully conscious about it, this is something that changes for me all the time. I learn things every day that transform my understanding of what it means to be well. I also see how my wellness is not just about me, but the wellness of my family and community.

How we communicate, move around and shop in our neighborhood influences our community. If we are loving toward our neighbors, active to feel great and buying local, good quality products that creates a positive impact on those we interact with. If we buy local that supports our neighbors and what we buy influences what products are available to the community. If we request certain products at the grocery store, it is not just provided for us, but for our entire community!

With this in mind, I feel even more empowered to be healthier this year and to be a benefitial member of my community. In 2017, I will work on purchasing more natural household and hygiene products. I already use some natural household products since the use of the conventional stuff made me sick to my stomach or develop rashes.

Only recently did I start trying to switch my makeup and hygiene items to all natural products. Lately, I am trying the Shea Moisture brand’s shampoo, conditioner and make up. So far so good, but I have to admit my commercial brand mascara is tough to beat in its volumizing and affordable price. However, my hair has not felt this great in a long while.

Also, after 6 months of using natural deodorants (Schmidt’s and Herbal Clear Sport), I find I sweat less and never feel the need to reapply during the day. With the conventional antiperspirants, I would start to smell part way through the day and had developed rashes from certain brands. I may post some reviews this year on the natural products I have been trying, please let me know in the comments below if that would be of interest to you!

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In regards to how I stay physically healthy to maintain wellness, I believe that eating to fuel your body and please the soul while moving around in the ways that you most enjoy will boosts your mood and makes you feel strong. If you feel great, you project that to others. If others see how you make yourself feel great they may recognize that as something they can do for themselves. Its not your job to preach to everyone, but to just do what feels right for you. Just know that how you feel can impact how you behave toward others.

Lastly, I like to put out into the world what I would like to get from it. I want to be better about how I connect with people every day. This includes greeting folks that I walk by (even in the unfriendly city), connecting with people who bring joy to my life and teaching myself how to improve my relationships. I have been savoring opportunities to learn more about relationships and love from The School of Life and The 5 Love Languages.

Since reading The 5 Love Languages book, I have seen my relationship with my partner improve and hope that I can use what I have learned in my other relationships as well. The School of Life has helped me understand our psychology and why myself or others may behave in certain ways. I have also been reading books on ADHD. I want be conscious of how it can impact relationships since I am very close with people who have ADHD. The best one I have read thus far would be Is It You, Me or Adult A.D.D..

For me, I see wellness as something that encompasses not only my physical and mental health, but that of those around me. Since I feel in a good place with myself, I want to begin to work on projecting wellness in my community. How do you define wellness?