Be the Happiest, Healthiest You!

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Happy Homesteader: Why we are moving to property

I have a life update! My life is taking a new direction. A drastic change. We are living in Colorado. This has been a huge adjustment. We are 3,000 miles away from our friends family. Here in Colorado, there are wide open spaces, mountains, crisp air, and cheap land.

For as long as Robert and I have been married, we have talked about wanting to have a piece of land to call our own. We spent so much time driving around Georgia, Florida, and Texas looking for a little piece of land to call our own. But, alas, we could never afford it and it was always just out of reach.

Even here, in Colorado, we just couldn’t pull the money together to buy land. But that didn’t stop us from dreaming. We watched YouTube videos, read blogs, watched documentaries, and kept hoping there would be a way.

Finally, something changed. A family member wanted to buy land. It worked out that we could buy the land together and both live on the property. It was a dream come true.

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A picture of our property and the one building that was already on the property.

The question still remains on why we are choosing to embark on this adventure. (And it already is an adventure). So here are the top five reasons we are starting this new phase in our lives!

1. To not pay a mortgage/rent payment. We want to live rent free. Building a home on our property is the easiest way for that to happen.

2. Being naked. Ok that is kind of a joke. But only kind of. We want freedom to do our own thing. We don’t want to be tied down by people telling us what we can do to our house or our yard. We want to be able to walk outside naked if we want to. We want the wide open spaces.

3. The environment. I feel like everything I do always comes back to this. But we want to be sustainable. Our property is not 100% off grid right now. We do have access to mainstream electricity. This is something we want to change in the future. But, we want to be sustainable. We want to have a garden, compost, reduce our garbage. Live off the land.

4. The view. This one isn’t so existential. I really want to see a beautiful view everyday. We have a panoramic view of the mountains. Everyday, I get to see that.

5. Family. We are going to live on the property with family. We get to be close to our family. We have been working on getting the property ready for 2 weekends and we have spent so much time with our kids working toward a common goal. It is amazing to have that opportunity.

For now, I am going to continue to think about food. I will continue to post about food. But I am going to focus on the “Live Well” part of this blog and write more about my homesteading experience.  Join me, it’ll be fun!

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Our first day on the property. We are so excited to get started!

Three Days of the Happy Herbivore Reboot

My family has been in a state of transition. We have moved three times in six months. Needless to say it has been a rough six months. Those months were filled with lots and lots of (vegan) junk food. In an attempt to get our family back on track, when we moved into our new home, I decided that we needed to reboot. I had read a bunch of stuff about the Happy Herbivore reboot (www.rebootcleanse911.com). So I decided to give it a go. I met Lindsay at the Get Healthy Marshall New Year, New You event in 2013, and I thought maybe her reboot would help us refocus. We are doing a total of 13 days. I thought I would give a post of how it went. The first three days was the really big part, and Happy Herbivore offers a three day reboot, so I thought it would be the most helpful. I’m going to show you the food and give you my daily reflection so it is going to be a pretty long post:) Scroll to the section RESULTS if you just want to see how it turned out.

First things first: The daily detox drink. She says you should drink this every morning. I couldn’t choke it down. I tried twice. I just gave up. I couldn’t do it, and I decided not to torture myself to try.

Day One:

Opulent Oatmeal

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This was pretty good. It wasn’t very sweet, so when you are used to sweeter oatmeal, it took a little adjustment. However, I have since had this again, and it was amazing. So, I guess the point is to understand that if you are coming from a really sugary breakfast sorta place, this is going to be a jolt. But it is really yummy. (Kid approved)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin Chili

P1060342 This chili is the bomb diggity. I ate it several times. An omnivore friend of mine who eats a SAD (Standard American Diet) came over, and she thought this chili was the bomb. It is so yummy. The pumpkin makes it the right consistency for chili, but you don’t really taste the pumpkin. It is so good. (Kid approved)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pineapple Stirfry

P1060343P1060344 Ok, so this was ok. But it isn’t anything I would cook again. The rice wasn’t included on the plan, but we had to have something or else it would have been like pineapple soup. I think this recipe could be good, but it definitely needs some refining. (Kids said eh).

 

 

 

Day Two

Red radiance Quinoa

P1060346 If you have never had quinoa for breakfast, and I never had, do it. Do it today. That is so yummy. My husband said it tasted like dessert for breakfast. It was the most amazing thing I think we ate on the reboot. (Kid approved).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pear Lentil Salad

P1060347 Ok, obviously this wasn’t the recipe. I just didn’t like the idea of mixing lentils, pears, and salad dressing. So instead, I made a huge salad. Put some lentils on the side and ate the Pear for dessert. It worked better for me.  My husband won’t eat lentils. He says it brings up traumatic memories of his past relationships. So, I gave him garbanzo beans instead of lentils. (Kid approved, surprisingly).

 

 

 

 

 

Mushroom Barley

P1060348 This was ok. It was really salty tasting even though there wasn’t any salt. It was also really mushroomish. (Not kid approved). I won’t make it again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day Three

Peanbutter Cup Shake

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Ok, I know the photo is sideways, but this is the most delicious breakfast shake I have ever had. I would eat it every single day of my life. (Kid approved)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet Potato Tacos

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These were also so yummy that if this all I ever ate again, I would be cool. (Kid approved).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moroccan Stew


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Ok so this was also super good. It had all these yummy cinnamony flavors that I just adored. (Kid approved).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roasted Pears

P1060353Dessert was included every night (which I didn’t picture), but holy heck. This was so good I had to show it to you. Roasted pears with yogurt (soy of course) on top. Just wonderful. (Kid approved).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Results

After 7 days of rebooting, I got sick. My friend’s son came over and he was sick. My daughter got sick, and I just hugged her for like an entire day, so I got sick. It was a disaster. We basically ate soup for like four days. So prior to the illness our results were fantastic. I lost almost 5 pounds. But better than that I felt happier and just better. My husband even pointed out how great he felt. I think part of the reason was that we were cooking and eating together. Part of the reason was that every meal was made with love and tasted great. Part of the reason was that I lost weight. I mean, it was a fantastic experience. It did just what I wanted it to do. It brought my family together and it refocused us as whole food vegans.

Would I recommend it? I can’t say yes fast enough. If you are omni, try it. The worst thing that will happen is you will find out you are a vegan deep down in your heart. But really, you will have a few days of lovely food that will taste great and help you get off processed junk. If you are vegan . . . well basically the same thing. So rush over and visit rebootcleanse911.com and get started today.

 

 

My obsession with Oreos pays off: New Frosting Recipe

>I know, I know . . . I’m obsessed with Oreos. Who wouldn’t be? They are delicious, processed, vegan, little treats of delight. What more could you ask for? They are the one treat that we usually keep in the house. A pack lasts me and the three girls about two weeks. What makes Oreos so delicious? Why vegetable shortening of course. So, when my frosting failed miserably a few weeks ago, I thought, “Self.” Because, you know I do call myself, self. I thought, “Self, wouldn’t it be awesome if you could make frosting that tastes like Oreos?” Why, yes, self, yes, it would.

So, I made that my mission. For my daughter’s second, sixth birthday party this weekend, I decided to switch up my cupcake recipe and frosting recipe. The cupcake recipe was too crumbly, but the frosting was marvelous! So, I will stick with my old cupcake recipe, but the new Oreo frosting recipe.

Oreo Frosting Recipe

3 cups of powdered sugar
1/4 cup Earth Balance Margarine
1/4 cup Vegetable Shortening
1 tablespoon vanilla
1-2 tablespoons Almond Milk (as needed)
In a bowl mix powdered sugar, margarine, shortening, and vanilla. With an electric mixer on low, start mixing the ingredients together. Add the milk slowly until the frosting reaches a creamy consistency. 
The is the first Vegan recipe that I developed all on my own. I hope you enjoy it!

Obsessed with what my kids eat: Maybe more parents should

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Yesterday I went on a field trip with my six year old (holy cow she is six!), and I found myself obsessing over what she was eating. I was counting up grams of protein and amounts of calcium in my head. I found myself looking up values of different nutrients in one type of bread versus another type of bread and so on.


Then it occurred to me: Before I put my kids on a mostly vegan diet, I never really thought about what they ate. I tried to make sure that they ate healthy meals, but really, I never gave it much thought. So, why am I obsessing now?
If you go online and search out information about being a vegan parent, there is so much information about how it can be bad for kids from information about B12 to vitamin D and protein. People tend to fall into one of two camps: vehemently against vegan kids or absolutely for it. I am the kinda gal who has to do the research, so I just had to keep reading. The truth is that B12 is a food additive because it comes from bacteria, but most people get it from dairy and eggs. Vitamin D is added to dairy as well. Most Americans eat too much protein. If you spend 10-15 minutes outside without sunscreen, your body makes plenty of Vitamin D, by the way.
And, many of the products we eat in our house have B12 as an additive. There are plenty of ways you can get B12–from supplements, nutritional yeast, other foods.
So, because of my new found obsession, I decided to do a side by side comparison of what my kids eat now and what they ate before the new diet (I put the values into Livestrong’s my plate calorie counter). What I found out is that they eat about the same amount of protein. They eat more calcium and get more essential nutrients such as vitamin A and K and Manganese. The most important finding is that they eat less calories and less fat (with virtually no trans fats) while getting this valuable punch of nutrition.
I could only think to myself, I wish I had spent more time thinking about what we were all eating before! I don’t think parents like me are the problem. I do think about it. I make sure they have access to a wide variety of foods. And I am positive they have changed their taste buds. They eat everything from turnips to Swiss chard. I rarely hear complaints. We don’t have a cookie in the house, and not a single child has complained.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have cookies. If you have read my other posts, then you know we love a good Oreo. But it isn’t something that we must eat in our house everyday now. On many of the blogs, the Vegan parents say something like, “if I said I was going to feed my kids pink slime nuggets and chemicals pressed with sugar disguised as cookies, no one would say anything.” That really resonated with me. We don’t question if someone feeds their kids junk food diets. We rail if someone says having obese children is akin to child abuse, but then when we want to do something like go Vegan for health, ethical, and environmental reasons, then people say you might be doing something wrong. We have internalized this message so much that I have become obsessed with what my children are eating.

Here is the basic fact of the matter, my kids are healthy, they are energetic, lovely children. I am concerned about them, and I make sure that they get what they need. I may make mistakes in terms of what I feed them, but you know what, it can’t be worse than a steady diet of McDonald’s. So, back to the field trip that sparked this obsession. I was surrounded by five, six, and some seven-year-old children. Many of these children were already displaying the signs of an unhealthy life style (such as obesity and type II diabetes). I was sitting with my field trip group at the park, eating lunch, and I was looking at their lunches.

Let me start by telling you what Medea was eating:
Peanut butter and Vegan marshmallow fluff sandwich on whole wheat, whole grain bread.
Fruit salad with pineapple, cantaloupe, strawberries, blueberries.
Mishmash (applesauce with cinnamon).

Normally I pack a “dessert” item in her lunch like a bar or a cookie or something, but we were out. She recently told me she doesn’t have enough time to eat her entire lunch so she would rather have the mishmash than the cookie. She at the fruit salad first and then the sandwich. She saved her mishmash for after she played a while. (Preview: We are going to make oatmeal energy bars so the recipe will be coming soon!)

The other children were eating one of two meals. They had either brought their meal from home or they had a school provided lunch. Let’s start with the school provided lunch. The school lunch was a ham and cheese single sandwich. A bag of baked chips and an apple. Every child (three in my group) who brought a lunch from home brought a lunchable. The lunchables were ham and cheese with crackers, a Capri Sun, and a chocolate bar. Each child with a brought lunch also had it supplemented–one child had chips, one had more candy, one had a granola bar. The lunches were gross. Not a single child ate all of their sandwich, but they did eat the candy. Most of them ate at least part of the apple as well.

I noticed that some of the parents who had also chaperoned the field trip brought their kids fast food lunches. It was everywhere. I felt so overwhelmed by the fast food, processed nation that my kids live in. My 13-year-old is still giving me a hassle about how we eat, but I know in my heart that at least she gets good, whole foods at home. I hope that some of that wears off on her. Maybe the compassion component will come later.
For now, I am going to try to obsess just a little less and just to make sure that I continue to plan well rounded, yummy meals for us to eat.

On a funny note from the field trip: As one of the stations, you could be an artist. We all drew pigs and wrote “save the pigs!” I included a picture of Mae’s drawing. (I wrote the words).

Happy Easter: Loving My Mother Today

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I am not religious, but my parents are; and thus, we celebrate Easter with a huge family dinner every year. Our normal dinner menu includes items such as glazed ham, mashed potatoes (loaded with butter and sour cream), pies, etc.
As we approached this holiday, I was so nervous–how was I going to handle my first big holiday as a vegan? I wasn’t worried about me. I have a lot of will power, and I am totally committed to my cause (although I did have a major break down yesterday which will be the topic of tomorrow’s post). However, I normally do a lot of the cooking in concert with my mother, and I was really worried about how I was going to handle cooking for my family. Since Easter is what I consider one of the minor holidays (Christmas, Thanksgiving being the major holidays), I saw it as a dry run.
Thankfully, my mother came up with a great idea: let’s do a lemon/Greek theme. Yes! We mostly call it Greek, but it was really a lemon theme since everything had lemon in it. Then my mother searched out Vegan margarine and vegan bread so I could have garlic bread (one of my favorites.) I freaking love you mom! So that was a great Easter treat.
So, we had a wonderful Easter dinner. We were all full and satisfied, and I think everyone was super happy with our Vegan supper.
Easter Menu:
Greek Lemon Rice Soup
Hummus with Pita Chips
Salad
Olive Bar
Quinoa Salad
Fresh Fruit Salad
Homemade Lemonade
Greek Lemon Soup (My Mom’s Recipe)
2 Carrots
2 Celery Stalk
1/2 Onion
3 Vegetable Bouillon Cubes
2 Garlic cloves
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 cups Basmati Rice
1 tbsp Smart Balance Margarine (optional)
8 cups Water
Saute carrots, celery, onion, garlic in olive oil until tender. Add bouillon, rice, lemon juice, and water. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer. Simmer until rice is tender. Once rice is tender, add margarine.

I also wanted to give the recipe for my special Quinoa salad.
2 cups Quinoa
4 cups water
2 tomatoes
1 avocado
1 cucumber
1 red bell pepper
1 small onion
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/8 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
Bring the quinoa and water to a boil, cover, reduce to simmer, and simmer for 25 minutes or until tender. (When quinoa is cooked it has a ring around the edge). Dice all the veggies.
In a mason jar, mix the lemon juice and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix the quinoa, veggie, and the dressing.
So Yummy!
I have put up my hummus recipe up before but I will put it up again because it is so awesome.
2 cans of chickpeas
2 tbsp tahini
3 cloves of garlic
1 tsp of olive oil
salt
water
Put the ingredients in the cuisinart (except the water). Turn it on. Add a small amount of water in a thin stream until the hummus reaches the desired consistency.
Here are the pictures rounding out our meal (except the fruit because I didn’t take a photo of that).


The point being . . . this was one of the best Easter dinners we have ever had. It was VEGAN. It went wonderfully. I am so happy. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my family. Everyone is still nervous about the major holidays, but we have a lot of time to adjust before then.

Happiness and Compromise

>I have been thinking a lot lately about happiness and compromise. When we are young, we just expect to be happy and for good things to come to us, but as we age, we learn that life is a serious of compromises. I have been thinking about how each compromise we make to keep ourselves happy or a loved one happy and each compromise has to be considered in terms of what we are willing to sacrifice.
If you have a personality like mine, you probably are willing to sacrifice too much–sacrifice to the level that we compromise our way out of our own happiness. I have noticed that I am always on the wrong end of the compromise–eventually. Recently, I noticed that in some of my relationships, the other person is always asking me to compromise. When these people ask me to compromise, they often seem to forget that I have been compromising all this time. In fact, I get told often “You get the good with the bad” or “You have to be willing to make compromises.” What I have come to realize is that everyone has a breaking point in terms of compromise. Part of compromise is that both people have to be willing to make sacrifices in order to meet in the middle.
Recently, I was asked to make a compromise that I know will make me unhappy. I know it will degrade my personal integrity and will destroy my plans for my future and the dreams I had about how my life will turn out. Now, I know that life doesn’t always turn out how you imagined and that things aren’t picture perfect. I also understand that compromises sometimes led you down a road that is different that your original path. I also understand that it is important to compromise and sacrifice for those you love.
Where do you draw the line? This is the question I have been wrestling with. Where do you draw the line and a compromise becomes too much compromise. Where does self preservation begin and selfishness end. I don’t want to be selfish. I don’t want to think only of myself because I find that selfish people are the most unhappy people. But, I do want to preserve myself. I have been thinking that I want to make the other person in this compromise happy (even though this person isn’t compromising very much) and I want to be a good person, but I am faced with a compromise that will probably mean the loss of my happiness for a very long time.
Ok, so it seems pretty easy: Don’t make the compromise. Right? Unfortunately, it goes back to that loving other people thing. It comes back to fear and all of those negative emotions.
What am I going to do? I’m not sure yet, but I hope as you are asked to make compromises, that you will consider your own happiness as well…. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

Let me introduce…..

>Remember that journey I just talked about? Well, none of us journey alone. In fact, if we like it or not, we have many people on our journey with us. Those people include our family, our friends, our colleagues, our enemies, and even those we don’t know but who help us everyday (have you ever talked to your grocery store clerk?)
On my journey, the most important people are my friends and my family. The person who falls into both these categories and helps me every step of the way is my husband, Robert.

Robert is the most special man I have ever known, and that is how each person should feel about their life partner. He is a bit quirky, but he is the type of person who is absolutely supportive and wants to see you succeed. He is the coordinator of operations and data control for a railroad, and he really enjoys his work, but he also loves to come home and spend time with his family, work on the house, and play with computers. Do we fight? Yes. Every couple gets in disagreements, but it is how you handle them that is important. In the end, he loves me for who I am and that makes all the difference.

Then, we have three lovely children. Magdelaina, Persephone, and Medea. They are all so special, and they complete my life. I never knew that you could feel so much love, pride, concern, happiness, fear, and compassion before I had my children. Sometimes I get overwhelmed, but who doesn’t? My three daughters provide me with a continuous supply of adventure. My oldest daughter is bright and compassionate and socially conscious. My middle child is creative and emotional, and the baby is trouble with a capital T, but she is also interesting and vivacious.

Last, but certainly not least, are my parents. My lovely and wonderful parents, Ruby and Larry, who raised me to be who I am and have always stood by me no matter what horrible mistake or huge success I was making. My parents just moved to live near me, and I am so dog gone lucky that they are here. Both of them are medically retired, and are about to be my guinea pigs for my wellness plan. They are loving parents and loving grandparents. My husband’s parents, Bill and Maria, have also played a big role in my life, and I am lucky to have them as well.

Who wouldn’t love that face? My dad Larry (pictured above) at a school function is showing off his signature grin.
My mother is doing what she does best… snuggling a baby!


My husband and his parents at the park… ahhh!

Well, now you have met my family, and I am sure I will mention them many more times and will introduce others!