Happy Plants-giving!

I Hope you all had a Happy PlantsGiving! Or maybe VegansGiving! Which do you like more? I can’t decide, but this thanksgiving I took on the cooking responsibilities for our family and you best know I went Seitan Ham in the kitchen! Since buying our house, I have been nonstop excited to do things my way and in my own house. Halloween we had our first annual Halloween Party which I admit, I got a little too SHEET-faced. But now with the holidays, I have been even more excited to create new traditions and spend time as a hermit in my own house for the holidays!

Because it was only Ryan and I… and our three cats, I made a fairly small thanksgiving feast. But what’s more important is that it was completely vegan! I worked so hard to cook some delicious food, all the while keeping it plant based. I don’t think I have ever spent so much time in our kitchen actually cooking than this thanksgiving.

I made roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes and yams, stuffing,  and vegan gravy! Now I was thinking about making a “meat”loaf for the main entree to substitute the infamous dead poultry carcass. I have made one before and it came out deliciously, however I was already biting off more than I can chew with everything else to cook, so I just stopped by my nearest Whole Foods and picked up a vegan loaf. Easy Peasy. And this is just enough for me since Ryan isn’t the biggest fan of fake meat. I definitely want to make a loaf next year or even for Christmas, but this thanksgiving I cut a few corners.

If you are like me and are kind of a fish out of water when it comes to the holidays, don’t be afraid to speak up or make your own dish! Last year I told everyone I am vegan and don’t plan on eating turkey or anything that has animal by-products in it. My family was nice enough to accommodate some recipes for me, like instead of stuffing made with chicken broth, they made it with vegetable stock. My grandma even bought a loaf for me to eat instead of turkey.

If you aren’t lucky enough to have an accommodating family, make your own dish! Make a casserole! Those always fill me up! Mix a little of everything into the casserole that is your specific-diet-friendly. My advice if you do make your own dish, always make enough to share or have leftovers because I know some situations, people will feel like “oh only you can have that?” So make enough for people to try and if they don’t like it…more for you! And hey, you may even convert some people!

So just because you have dietary limitations and restrictions, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the holidays with your family. Just get creative! Like what I did, I said “I’m Having a thanksgiving dinner at my house, all is welcome, all food is vegan, if that bothers you, you can bring your own food.” But to be honest, my dishes are exactly the same if you don’t tell a carnivore you made a few substitutions. AND you won’t feel as heavy and weighed down if there is no butter and milk!

Living with pain

Living with chronic pain can be a literal pain in the ass. And if you are like me, you are constantly met with older individuals that claim, “You don’t know what back pain is, wait till you get to be my age.”

Listen, this is not a competition or pity party. I am in pain literally every damn day and I don’t need your damn comments. I don’t need to justify or prove to anyone what I am going through. The only time I tell anyone my back hurts is when it’s crippling and I’m on my last leg. I’ll even say “my back hurts.” To get out of things; not because I don’t want to do it, but because I physically CAN NOT.

But yes there is a stigma behind being young and in pain. We only complain because we don’t want to do something, or were bored seeking attention.

When you live with an invisible chronic pain or illness, the last thing you want is people to feel sorry for you or think that you’re untrustworthy or a slacker. I hate when my back debilitates me so much that even the act of sitting down to enter codes is unbearable. It’s my job to sit and be on a computer. I’m not throwing bales of hay on my back, and then complaining about back pain. That is understandable. But just because I’m not working a labor intensive job, doesn’t make my back pain any less real or crippling.

Even though my back pain was brought on suddenly, it was because of years of overworking it. It’s also because I may have fucked it up on a failed attempt at the long jump, and even because I have a slight case of scoliosis. So it has never been pin-pointedly confirmed WHY I have back pain. But I do. And it fucking sucks.

On extremely bad days, the only comfort I get is laying in a fetal position, praying someone will rip my spine out of my back just so I don’t have to feel the pain anymore. I cry because it is so unbearably painful, and I cry harder because there is nothing that I can do. It’s there and it will always be there. I think to myself, “I don’t even remember what it feels like to not have any kind of pain. What is that even like? To not have to squirm around to try and discreetly stretch out the knots in your back. To sit through an entire movie.”

On good days, I get a false sense of hope that maybe my back is getting better, maybe I don’t need to go to the chiropractor anymore. Maybe I don’t need to take an ungodly amount of pain killers just to function.

Chiropractors, massage therapy, exercise, acupressure, electro therapy…all of it really does help me. It helps me feel like I am making progress and reduces the amount of times I have muscle spasms and the hours in which I am paralyzed with pain. But it will always be there. I have to take each day at a time. I want everyone to be aware that ANYONE can be suffering with some kind of pain. Young, old, male, female… And only we understand how it feels. I just want people to understand that everyone is dealing with something. I want people to please be considerate.

How to Prepare for a Summer Road Trip

Road trips are fun and exciting; there’s no doubt about that! If you’re planning a summer road trip, you probably already feel the excitement. You know, that fire in your belly. Don’t let that fire make you forget about some important things.

You need to make sure that your car is in a perfect condition before you put the pedal to the metal. Here are some important things that you should consider and check before you hit the road.

Air conditioning

If you want your road trip to be pleasant, and you don’t want anyone being cranky in your car, then you have to make sure your air conditioning is working as intended. Switch it on and make it run for some time on full blast settings. If the air coming out is not freezing cold, take it to your local mechanic and let them take a good look at it.

Safety equipment

As they say ‒ safety first. You don’t want to go anywhere without having high visibility jackets, warning triangles, and first aid kits. You never know when your car will break down, or when you’ll need to help a stranger on the road.

Tires

Even though you’re planning a summer trip, all-season tires might be a better choice for you because they give a much smoother ride. Of course, don’t forget to check the tire pressure at a gas pump and make sure that the pressure is at the manufacturer’s recommended settings.

Coolant

Keeping your engine cool is always important, but especially during a summer road trip. Check the guide in your car manual and follow the instructions to check the coolant levels. Ideally, the level should be right between the minimum and maximum markers. If you don’t have a car manual, your best bet would be finding a reliable mobile mechanic. The greatest thing about them is that they come right to you, and they’re very thorough.

If you want to make sure that your car is in a perfect condition for a road trip, make an appointment with them and let them check your car in front of your home.

Windscreen wipers

Don’t laugh! Just because you’re going on a summer road trip that doesn’t mean you won’t need the windscreen wipers that are working as intended! Check that the wipers are running smoothly and thoroughly cleaning your windscreen. If they’re not working perfectly, then buy new ones at any car shop. Be sure to refill your windscreen wiper fluid reservoir, too.

Documents

Your driving license and an insurance policy should be with you at all times. Put them in a purse or a box and keep them in your car at all times. If you’re traveling abroad, be sure to check what documentation you’ll need there months before going there. Sometimes getting necessary documentation can be a long process, so you need to apply in time.

Food

What really counts is the journey, not the destination, and what’s better than eating your own road trip food while driving? Prepare some healthy road trip food with your friends before you hit the road and enjoy!

If you don’t want to bring food with you, then you need to find perfect places along the highway where you can get your belly full. Find places that appear on various TV programs and places that are highly rated on Trip Advisor if you don’t want to end up in a bar that looks like a bar from “From Dusk Till Dawn”.

Entertainment

Being entertained during a road trip is equally important as having all your documents with you. Sure, you’ll be entertained because you’re driving, but what about your passengers? Remind them to bring their laptops, iPads or books.

 

Photos by pexels.com

My Top Essential Vegan Foods

It has been over a year since I decided to go “vegan.” I say that in quotations because I really only became so due to my lactose intolerance. It has only been since recently that I decided to make a conscious effort to eat completely Vegan both for my health and welfare of animals. I plan on writing an article on the reasons why everyone should go vegan, but that’s for a later time.

I’m here to tell you about my staples as a vegan. The foods I need to have in my house at any given time.

  1. Frozen Vegetables. I find frozen veggies are the best way to get your full helping of veggies a day because they are so easy to dump in your lunch and go. Or if you don’t feel like creating an elaborate spread for dinner, just steam these suckers and BAM, side dish! I buy my bulk sized frozen veggies from Costco. At $6 a 6lb bag… that’s a steal! That’s about $1 a pound, where most frozen veggies from normal grocery stores are $3-$5 a pound bag. I usually get the normandy blend which has a nice mix of broccoli, carrots, yellow stone carrots and cauliflower. Basically it can go with anything.
  2. Tofu. As a newly converted vegan, I still have yet to master the several ways of cooking tofu. I have fried it, marinated it, and souped it. I haven’t ventured into uncharted tofu-territory yet. I have accumulated several recipes that involves cooking tofu a little bit different than what I am used to. Now with my own house, I will have the freedom to experiment to my vegan hearts desire! Tofu is one of the cheapest “easy” vegan proteins I buy. One $1.99 block will usually last me 3/4 of the week. If I only eat tofu with my meals (lunch and dinner) I feel its also the most versatile protein out there (in my opinion) because it can act like chicken on a BBQ pizza or rice and veggie dish. It can be a noodle substitute for stew and soups. It can be a creamy alternative in smoothies. Or my favorite EGGS! It has the same consistency as scrambled eggs, perfect for a Sunday morning homemade brunch with the boyfriend.
  3. Brown Rice. Richer in fiber and a great way to fill up on carbs, brown rice is the right rice! Without breaking the bank rice is a great item to stock up on. Again, my 20lb bag of brown rice is from Costco, and they are never overpRICED! I love making rice in big batches so I can scoop some with my lunch for the next couple days. My go-to quick, easy, simple lunch is Rice and Veggie Tofu bowls. Just sprinkle some soy sauce and  I have a yummy and filling lunch that has all the nutrition to keep me happy and healthy! I will say, I have had to convert Ryan from a life of over processed white rice because I ain’t about that life! We’re only going to eat the least processed kinds of food in my household!
  4. Oatmeal. Another easy food that can be souped-up! I love having oatmeal for breakfast! I will usually do something a little different each day with my oats but even just plain is good if you’re on a tight budget. I will usually put chia seeds and honey in mine for a basic oatmeal breakfast. But if I’m feeling fancy I will go balls-to-the-wall and but chia seeds, honey, walnuts, berries, and granola in it! (can we just talk about the literally shits though! so much fiber to keep you regular!) I have also discovered homemade oat flour so of course you best believe I buy this in bulk!! I have made the most amazing and delicious vegan chocolate chip cookies using my homemade oat flour and I cant get enough! Thank god Ryan has an heavy duty Blendtec blander! That thing gets shit done!
  5. Fresh Fruit. I have always loved fresh fruit, whether it be in smoothies, in oatmeal, in salads, or even by themselves as a snack. I love fruit. Its naturally sweet for those sweet-p.m.s.-tooth-cravings! I love making fruit salads in the summer time, and sometimes instead of oatmeal for breakfast, I’ll make myself a smoothie. Apples, bananas, and oranges are my favorite all year long. But in the summer there is a magical fruit that takes all the happiness and shoves it into a spherical ball of deliciousness. Watermelon is my all time favorite food. Not fruit, FOOD! I could eat it all day everyday! I guess strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and black berries are good too. But WATERMELON THOUGH! I have one in my fridge as I write this! I can’t wait to eat it!!

What are your staples as a vegan/vegetarian?? Everyone is a little different but I’m sure you all have some foods you just can’t live without!