Friday, June 17, 2011

Who Stole the Last Week of My Life?

Hey guys how have you been? Life here has been a little crazy but in a good way. However all the excitement hasn’t left me any time to blog. I have managed to do some posting on Facebook, so if you aren’t following me there please do. Since it is much quicker to post of Facebook that is why I have been able to work that into my day even when I didn’t have time to blog.

For those of you that are local I wanted to highlight a few shopping locations nearby. Last week there was a little grocery shopping in Columbia. Grocery shopping? Believe me it isn’t what you think. ;-) My friend Sue introduced me to two international markets about a month ago so I took Dan there before our raw dinner at Great Sage last week. I know it doesn’t sound much like a date but since we both love this stuff so it worked for us.

Nazar Middle Eastern Market
6955 Oakland Mills Road #A
Columbia, MD 21045

The first market we stopped at was Nazar which specializes in Middle Eastern food. If you like unusual food items this is a great local place to check out.

They have a nice variety of spices which I love. I found grape molasses here which I bought and have no idea how to use yet. Look for the bulgur in various grinds from fine to coarse. They also carry cardamom black tea and even fermented carrot juice. This is one of those places that you need to give yourself some time to explore. The store isn’t big but they carry some very unusual ingredients that you don’t want to miss.

Lily’s Mexican Market
6490 Dobbin Rd
Columbia, MD 21045

Lily’s also has a nice selection of spices particularly dried chilies.

They also have some unusual varieties of dried beans. This is the store where I found the canned cuitlacoche (corn fungus) that I talked about a while back. It is very close to Nazar so I go to both stores when I am in Columbia.

5805 Clarksville Square Drive
Clarksville, MD 21029

Roots is what a local natural/health food store should be. If you are heading to Great Sage for dinner make time to stop at Roots. The store is impeccably clean, well stocked, and much bigger than most health food stores.

They also have a nice gluten free aisle with items that I haven’t seen anywhere else. I stocked up on raw nuts and seeds this last trip. If we lived closer I would do a lot more shopping here.

My week:

I have spent very little time at home over the last week. Additionally when I have been at home I have been swamped with work. So much for a relaxing and peaceful retirement I guess! ;-) Even though I have been busy it has all been in a good way. I will be telling you more about it in future posts. There has to be some mystery and anticipation right?

Our weather has been beautiful lately and my broken toe is basically healed so I have been starting my mornings outside each day. I love being outside, getting a little sun, breathing the fresh air and listening to the birds. If I knew mornings were this nice I may have given up my night owl ways decades ago. Okay maybe that is a bit of an exaggeration but I am really learning to like mornings. Who said that? LOL

Here are a few random pictures I took the last week to share with you. I am very fortunate to have such a beautiful area outside my door.

How to Get Started Changing Your Diet?:

This is the most common question I get by email. Typically people will say something like “they would love to eat like we do but it is overwhelming so they don’t start.” This is normally followed by "how did we make the change". Those of you that have been reading a long time know the answer to these questions. However since I still get these questions I wanted to make sure that everyone knew the answers

First Dan and I have not always been vegan or even vegetarian. In fact we were very adventurous omnivores for the majority of our lives. I will spare you the details but just know that we had no food rules until we became vegan and that will give you some idea of our prior diet. Toss into the mix a chef friend and you imagine the things we used to eat. We were those people that would eat anything and everything. I look back on that now and I am glad I had the experience to become familiar with so many unusual flavors and textures. However I also can’t imagine ever going back and that is still amazing to me.

While the food we used to eat was delicious it wasn’t healthy for us or the planet. I can honestly say that I was brainwashed by the media into believing that everything in moderation was the way to go. Funny I look at that now and can’t believe I ever fell for that idea. If someone told me a little arsenic wouldn’t hurt me would I have believed that too? Of course I wouldn’t so why did I think the same thing about food? Easy, because I wanted it to be true and didn’t bother to educated myself. The bottom line was that I didn’t want to give up meat, dairy, sugar, or baked goods.

After I threw myself into nutrition research there was no going back. Initially I didn’t believe what I was reading could be true. Being a true skeptic I researched everything that seemed outrageous to me. I used PubMed to try to refute what I was reading. The problem with that was the more I read the more I realized that I had been deceived by the mainstream media. However I was still reading things from well respected “scientists” that everything in moderation was fine. It took me some time to reconcile this in my mind. Eventually I understood that sugar, fat and salt were addictive and this fact explained to me why people (even scientists) are reluctant to make drastic dietary changes.

I can honestly say that if we hadn’t been faced with a crisis (cancer) I don’t know for certain that we would have had sufficient motivation to make such dramatic changes. In retrospect I wish we had made these lifestyle shifts long ago. There is something about a crisis that spurs people to act and we were no exception. The biggest problem we had wasn’t the dietary shift decision rather it was what to eat. For the first six months I struggled to figure out how to feed ourselves. In fact that is one of the reasons why I started the blog. I had such a tough time sticking to this way of eating because I had no idea how to cook without (or with little) oil, salt, etc. Flavor was important to us but so was health. If you go back and look at my earlier recipes you will see that they are not as healthy as my food now. That is because as I learn more our diet improves. It also because the longer we eat this way the more our palates adjust and change which is a very good thing.

When we were new vegans I spent a lot of time looking for recipes to use. The problem was most of the ones I found used oil, sugar, flour, and processed foods (commercial faux dairy, mock meat, etc.). While those foods are vegan they aren’t what I consider healthy now. Initially I used some of these items until we were both ready to give up versions of our favorite foods.

Many of you have asked how we are able to stick to this “austere” diet. There are many reasons that this works for us. Both Dan and I feel great on this diet and that helps us to keep going. Our respective blood pressure is better than it has been in 30 years. My blood pressure is typically in the 95/55 range and I am 49 years old so that is miraculous in my mind. By point of comparison my blood pressure was typically 125/85 before we changed our diet. We both have unmedicated total cholesterol levels below 200 and Dan’s used to be in the mid 250’s. Blood glucose levels are something else that are not a concern since we our fasting levels range between the mid 70’s and low 80’s. When we go to the internist our lab results in general are excellent for people our age. My seasonal allergies that I struggled with for over 20 years have completely disappeared. This may not sound like a big deal but it is huge for me. When I was an omnivore for 6 months out of the year I took Sudafed every four hours to keep my allergies under control. I haven’t had a Sudafed in years and my symptoms are gone. One of my favorite unexpected side effects has to do with my skin. About 6 months after we cleaned up our diet people started remarking that our skin looked so great and what were we doing? Honestly I hadn’t even noticed this one since the change was subtle but I am very happy with my skin now.

Dan and I are only two people so I have no idea if all of these things will happen for you, but I suspect most of them will based on what I have read. I am sharing our experience to give you something to think about. Long ago I read something about human behavior that I never forget. In essence it said that if you continue to behave the same way you will also continue to get the same results. That may seem obvious but from the behavior I see most people they don’t get it.

I will give you an example so it makes more sense. A friends of mine are concerned about heart health so they are trying to clean up their diet. The problem is the family doctor did these good people an injustice by saying that the heart problems are genetic. What do you imagine my friend’s reaction was? If you guessed they were a little demotivated you are correct. My friend’s diet is better than most of America but still includes small amounts of like meat, chicken, fish, oil and dairy. As you may also guess the results of this approach haven’t been stellar either. It pains me to see things like this because I feel certain that Dr. Esselstyn’s approach would work for my friends. However I am also certain that because of their doctor’s comment that the problem is genetic Dr. Esselstyn’s approach probably won’t seriously be tried. If you have been reading me a while you know it kills me to keep my mouth shut because I care. I want so desperately to help but I have finally come to realize that people have to want to be helped otherwise there is nothing I can do. *sigh*

People develop powerful connections to food that still confuse me to this day. There are so many other things in life that are much more important to me, like living, that I don’t understand why people resist change. I wish that I could bottle how I feel so that people would understand the impact of a healthy diet and lifestyle. As someone who lived the standard American life for most of her life I can tell you that nothing tastes better than being healthy feels. Maybe one day more people will know that feeling. At least I hope they will and I plan to continue to share my story as long as I can.

Happy Thoughts:

This past week has been crazy but it has also been amazing. Both Dan and I have a great week and have many things to be thankful for. I am going to hold back a little so I have more to write about tomorrow.

• I am grateful for everyday that I get to spend with my wonderful husband. He is the center of my universe and the most important person in my world. The best decision I ever made was to marry him. I hope that all of you have someone in your lives that loves you unconditionally flaws and all. It really is a fantastic feeling knowing that I am loved and cherished exactly as I am.

• Our weather has been gorgeous lately and I am enjoying it immensely. I have been about to get back outside every morning and that is the perfect way to start my day. I love being out in nature, hearing the birds sing and smelling the flowers. I am also very thankful that my seasonal allergies are long gone so that I can enjoy the outdoors without medication and/or clogged sinuses.

• I am thankful for my friend Laura Jill you urged me to dive into Facebook. I will admit that it seemed a little daunting at first. However having the Facebook page allowed me to keep in contact when I didn’t have time to blog and that was wonderful. Otherwise I would have been much more antsy not posting anything to the blog. For those of you that don’t have Facebook it is very easy to use if I can figure it out on my own. LOL

• We have a new addition to the family which I will tell you more about later. Dan and I are both thrilled and looking forward to getting our new “baby” home. Preparing for the arrival of the new family member has been keeping us very busy. However I expect things to settle down soon.

• I am thrilled that today is Friday and that means the weekend is almost here. Hopefully the weather will cooperate so we can enjoy some time outside this weekend. I am thinking a picnic by the bay would be nice way to spend some time.

• Recently I have been working on a new project. When that is ready to share I will fill you in. Since it is health and nutrition based I am sure you have guessed that it is a labor of love for me. I am hoping to have that ready to go in the next month.

• Last I am grateful for the wonderful people in my life. I am blessed to have so many caring people in my life. In the end relationships are more important than any object could ever be.

Thank You:

I want you all to know that I appreciate you patience with my not blogging daily recently.  Additionally I appreciate those of you that are following me on Facebook and commenting there.  Since it is my goal to reach as many people as possible to spread the word about healthy veganism each comment puts a smile on my face.  Thank you for taking the time to let me know you are there.  :-)

Signing Out:

Today has been speeding along like most Fridays but everything has gone well. Everyone is fine and life is good. I need to get a few more things done around the house so that I can relax this weekend with my sweetie. I hope you have something fun planned this weekend. Talk to you again soon, hopefully tomorrow. I am trying to get back on track with daily posts.


  1. LOL, I'm really glad you're enjoying facebook. It definitely serves a good purpose!

    Yum to all your shopping and Yay for all the happy thoughts!


  2. Thanks for the nice long post...I've been having withdrawal symptoms for the last week that you have been busy:)

    We were on a business trip tp New York..stopped in Baltimore...I waved as we flew over///hope you saw me waving to you heh...

    Very thought-provoking post..I hope I can pull off the good eating without a health crisis..we humans are curious...keep doing things that aren't best for us...


  3. I really enjoyed your post. I am glad that you are feeling so well since starting your vegan diet. I know that I feel better when I eat mostly that way. God bless! :)

  4. So glad to have you back! LOL. Nah, I have been following you on FB, but I totally thought my computer was broken since I hadn't seen a new post from you in a while. Glad the week was a good one, if busy for you! I am thinking that at least during the summer, I am going to start my day with a nice liesurely bike ride after I get my bike tomorrow. I'm excited! Have a great weekend!

  5. LJ,

    I have no idea why I had such a mental block about Facebook. But I appreciate you encouraging me to get over it. ;-)

    The next three days (Sat thru Mon) are also busy. However I hope we can find time to chat soon.


  6. Coco,

    LOL, withdrawal symptoms. That is cute. Sorry I haven't been around much the last two weeks. Swamped doesn't even begin to describe my life recently. However now I can see the light at the end of the tunnel and it doesn't seem to be a train. ;-)

    How long were in Baltimore? Were you here just long enough to change planes? I hope you enjoyed NY.

    I hope you can pull off a change without a health crisis too. That is something that I want for everyone though I realize they have to want it for themselves before it will work. Prepare yourself that it takes a while for you taste buds to change. However once that happens the food you are eating now won't taste good. You just need to stick it out until that happens. :-)


  7. Angel,

    Thanks for letting me know that you enjoyed the post. When I start writing them I frequently don't have a plan in mind. My blog has become a stream on consciousness of sorts. Both Dan and I feel great now which is rather amazing considering everything. If how we treat out bodies has anything to do with it we plan to stay this way a long time. :-)


  8. Joline,

    Congratulations on the new bike. You go girl! I think a bike ride every morning sounds like a fantastic idea. :-)

    Sorry to make you think your computer was broken. I am going to start writing today's post as soon as I finish responding to comments this morning. You should see another post tonight. *fingers crossed*

    Have a great weekend, and enjoy the new bike!


  9. Missed you! But have been enjoying your Facebook posts. Please continue to motivate people to eat healthily!

    I just finished the first week of the "Clean" program (Dr. Junger's) and have never eaten this well for this long. I'm proud of myself and plan to complete the program so that I can share my experience. I just need to eat a bit more so that I don't continue to lose weight.

  10. Laura,

    I am very happy to hear that you are feeling good on "Clean". Wow, you are going to do the whole 3 weeks. Very impressive. Needless to say I will be very interested to hear what you think about the two liquid meals per day. That part seemed a little tough to me. Please keep me posted on how you feel on the plan. Good luck!

    It is good to be back. I have been so busy recently I haven't even been cooking anything other soup and making beans. You know that means I am busy. ;-)

    talk to you later,

  11. I hope you are having a relaxing weekend and enjoying your time with Dan!

    Is it possible to make your Facebook page so that people without a Facebook account can see it? I can view some people's pages, but I can't see yours without an account, unfortunately...


  12. Courtney,

    I have no idea how to do that but I will ask someone who knows a lot more about Facebook than I do. (hint hint: LJ did you see the question? help!)

    We are having a great weekend thanks for asking. In fact we were just planning to head out to watch the sunset over the harbor.

    talk to you later,


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