Welcome New Vegans! (and Vegetarians)

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Happy New Year and welcome to 2017! Okay so we’re over a week into the new year and you may already be slacking in your resolutions…but that’s okay! No judgement!

Many have made resolutions to eat better or adapt healthier habits – for some, that may mean reducing the amount of meat they eat or choosing to be completely vegan. I’ve been asked to share some of my favourite tips and advice for the new veggies!

First of all, welcome to your new lifestyle! I hope you stick with it long enough to recognize the impacts a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle can have and all the countless benefits that come along with it.

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Recipe: Vegan Cauliflower Alfredo

It’s been over a year that I’ve been vegan and I can say that the two things I miss the most, are caesar dressing (thank you YamChops Toronto for fixing that craving) and alfredo sauce. I’m talking the creamy, gooey, garlicky, best alfredo sauce that you just drench your pasta in.

Over the weekend I discovered this recipe from The Healthy Family and Home for Creamy Cauliflower Alfredo sauce. I had high hopes and unreachably high expectations – but this recipe did NOT disappoint!

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My One Year Veganniversary

It takes an average of 21 days to make or break a habit (depending on the habit) and I do remember the first 21 days being some of the most difficult. But before I dive in to my experiences over the past year, let’s take a look back at why I started.

How It Happened

To summarize what I outlined in Accidentally Vegetarian (little did I know at the time that I actually meant Vegan):
I had decided and truly thought in my past that I couldn’t ever become vegetarian, let alone vegan! I was a hard-core carnivore; I loved chicken and fish but most of all it was red meat that I adored. I would go out for dinner with friends and family and order steak and potatoes, only my steak had to be done “blue rare.” For those who are unfamiliar with this fairly uncommon term, it basically means the meat is seared on both sides and served…it’s not on the grill long enough to even heat all the way through so the middle is not only mostly raw, but still cold. Yeah – you read that right; I wasn’t kidding when I said “hard-core carnivore.”

So how does a person go from a diet like that to being completely vegan? When your body no longer gives you the choice.

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Accidentally Vegetarian

When I was younger, probably 13 or 14 I had decided that I wanted to be a vegetarian because I didn’t like the fact that animals were dying just for our food. I had a discussion with my parents and they told me it was fine as long as I did my research so I was still getting all of my essential nutrients and knew how to look after myself. I started doing the research but quickly got bored and gave up on the idea thinking that I was only one person and I probably wouldn’t be able to make a difference anyway.

A few years ago when my sister was studying nutrition, she made the decision to cut meat out of her diet and commit to a vegetarian lifestyle. She actually did the research and followed through with her plans. After seeing all the changes she’d made I was so proud of her but had become a “meat lover” and still said that I would never become a vegetarian. To add to the pressure I started dating a vegetarian. So I had to learn how to cook healthy, nutritious meals for us that didn’t contain meat. I was still eating meat when we weren’t together but it was fun to learn and try new foods and combinations. I still told him I would never be vegetarian and we respected each other’s lifestyles and were able to work around it.

I’ve been sick a few times this year; flus and never ending stomach issues – the worst being at the end of March. While it was likely enhanced by the stress of my work life I had gotten so sick that I was hardly eating. I was losing weight and not in a healthy way – I was drained in every sense of the term and vowed to make some serious changes once I was able to eat again. I started things slowly – taking note of what didn’t agree with my body and how it affected me.

I’ve learned over the last 6 months just how important it is to listen to your body so I took this seriously.

I started with the basic “flu recovery” foods like bananas, toast, apple sauce, etc and slowly worked my way into regular foods. I noticed right away that anything with meat would leave me in pain. So I cut that out for a while thinking my stomach just wasn’t ready for it yet and just stuck to the other foods that would be easily digested. But every time I went back to the meat, regardless of which kind, I would find myself with the same level of discomfort. But I vowed to listen so I had to come to terms with the fact that despite how many times I said I would never be vegetarian … It seems my body has decided for me.

I’m still doing the research but I’ve already found some pretty incredible new recipes! The tricky part is that I’m also lactose sensitive (yah, I’m a touch high-maintenance) so I can’t have cheese or dairy. This often leaves me searching for Vegan recipes and just making alterations and substitutions as needed.

I’ll post some of my favourites as I go because there are some that I’m really excited to share with you! What are some of your favourite vegetarian recipes? Are there any resources you would recommend for someone new to the lifestyle?

UPDATE: As I continued to introduce foods back into my diet I noticed that eggs weren’t so much my friend either, this has left me accidentally fully vegan … for now it’s a choice I’m comfortable with just because the alternative is an intense amount of pain. Stay tuned though cause I’m sure there will be some adventures, stories, and recipes that I find as I go!

How To: Clove Oranges

Oranges3It’s been a tradition in my family since I was young to make Clove Orange Pomanders at Christmas time to put on the radiator or heat vent to fill the house with the most delicious seasonal smells. Mixed with the Christmas tree it was the perfect Holiday scent!

Now that we’re just over a week away from Christmas I thought I’d share the idea with you for your own homes or office space. They’re fun and really easy to do so you can get the kids involved if you’d like! Continue reading

How To: No-Bake Protein Bites

ProteinBites-3I fell a little behind in my posting but here I am with “Day 3” of Alex Beadon’s Feel Good Blogging Challenge – A “How-to” Post. It took me a while to decide what I was going to write this post about because my blog isn’t exactly a DIY or overly educational blog but I do post recipes.

A large part of feeling good inside and out is GREAT FOOD! Bonus point if it’s healthy food! I love big meals and family dinners as long as they’re fast – but what about in-between snacking? I’ll admit I’m quick to grab junk food like chips or cookies – which can be good in moderation but these little babies are wonderful! They’re fast, they’re bite-size, they’re sweet, crunchy, filling and best of all …. they can actually pass as HEALTHY!

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Cottage Days: Rustic Peach Cobbler

Final Peach Cobbler

We’re mid-way through the week and life at the cottage has been grand! This is definitely my place of peace and relaxation! Check out my Instagram for daily photo updates.

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We’ve been pretty healthy this year especially compared to past years that were full of every kind of junk food imaginable. Thanks to my brother-in-law (who works for a Produce company) we’ve had more than enough fruits and veggies to keep us happy. We did end up with more peaches/nectarines than we could go through however and they were so ripe and delicious I couldn’t stand to see them go bad. What to do?! … PEACH COBBLER – cottage style!  Continue reading