Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Birthday Challenge 2012

Edwards just completed his 2011 Challenge and it inspired me to get thinking about my own. I think the focus of a birthday challenge doesn't have to be physical, but should be something you know you need to work on. As I have obviously let my writing skills wane, I decided to do a writing challenge. Of course, Edwards thought I should do something physical too. Here's the whole of it.
1. 350 words or more every day for 35 days. I can write on any subject, in any genre, but they should be creative and they must be 350 words or more (no coping out with a daily haiku). I might create a separate blog for this and I promise to post anything appropriate, but I don't promise that everything I write will be "appropriate."

2. Pull-ups. I know I did them for Edwards' 50th birthday, but I've been lazy and it is a skill I like to have in top-notch form. 35 "pull-ups" a day for 35 days. Starting on January 11, 2012. The reason "pull-ups" is in quotes is because I'm going to have to do ALL kinds of pull-ups to keep from getting injured: assisted, jumping, kipping, traditional, different grips... the works... anything is on as long as it trains the movement. I must come out of the 35 days uninjured, but much improved, because the REAL challenge is 350 pull-ups in 3.5 hours - one day to spread it out and get it done. I REALLY don't know if I can do this. All of these have to be kipping pull-ups. OUCH!

3. Rollerskating. I need to get better at rollerskating and I need to hang-out with my friends. Saturday night is adult "Flashback" at Classic Skating in Sandy. The session is only two hours, but I'm thinking I'll get there while the kiddies are still allowed and capture 3.5 hours of skating before midnight. I'll rent a party room, bring vegan goodness, invite my friends, get dressed up all "Flashback" style and ROLL into my 35 year with as much youth and joy as possible. I'll probably get a few blisters too. 3.5 hours... YIKES!

I'm excited!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Birthday Challenge Year 34. COMPLETE!

WOW! After my husband's 50th - I realize that the difference between 34 and 50 is not so much... both are pretty big numbers. No wonder we never notice the age difference; it barely exists.

The Raw Food Challenge was excellent because it took tremendous focus and was a good distraction from life. I also learned new things about flavors and cooking and enzymes. My skin has never been cleaner, nor have I ever looked so lean. It was also a favorable way to transition to veganism. Mostly, it was excellent because 34 days becomes a way of life instead of a short-time torture. It is clear that I can still decide to do something and get it done.

Now, the raw diet itself. It is amazing what you get used to… and what you don’t.

I got used to cold food, cold soups, heat in dishes coming from hot peppers, weird textures, unsweet "cookies", the smell of dehydrating kale with nutritional yeast seasoning, being low on salt, green smoothies, and chopping and preparing food regularly. I really did.

I did not get used to eating at home all the time, having to explain the raw diet, being in the kitchen for 2-3 hours a day, and MOST PAINFULLY… I did not get used to living without my morning tea ritual. I really didn’t.

Also, 34 days of a weird diet is easier than 36, and those two make-up days SUCKED!

But, I did it. 34 Days of RAW FOOD ONLY for my 34th Birthday. (accomplished in 36 days).
Even though I protest… I’m sticking with green smoothies, ground nut butter with fresh berries mashed in (eaten with salted green apples), and dining out at Omar’s. I’ll probably even make some raw dishes during the heat of summer. YUM!

How will I celebrate the end of my challenge? With friends and yummy vegan cupcakes for lunch!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Vegan - Sometimes - Vegetarian - Always

When it comes to eating meat, Edwards and I have been “localvores” for a year and before that we had cut out fish due to mercury and over-fishing. Because of the articles and books we read, and documentary films we watch, already our diets are relatively healthy, informed, and restricted. Then, one day, Edwards handed me a copy of the PETA magazine and I had a further change of heart.

The magazine didn’t tell me anything I wasn’t already vaguely aware of, but it heightened my awareness and gave me a solution to the largest problem to ever arise in my life: What to do about the death of Miss Manners? You will need to refer to my previous post about her death to understand the gravity of the situation, and the gravity of not having a clear legal solution to the problem – actually – any solution to the problem.

PETA offered a solution. Become a VEGAN. Something grotesquely violent happened to a member of my family and the only way to end violence is to stop perpetuating it. For this, I can start with the obvious. I can remove myself from behaviors that lead to violence against animals, or remove myself from the industrial meat and dairy industries.

Just like my ignorant neighbor, who seems to have not understood that it would be WRONG to beat a dog the way he did, there are innocent people who can no longer tell that their jobs are violent. This is not only terrible for the farm animals, it is terrible for the people who work in these environments. We should be able to live and eat in a world where the difference between right and wrong is obvious.

My decision to be vegan doesn’t end this, but it distances me from it. Free from food violence, I will also be able to focus on ending the violence I commit against people through judgments, critiques, and rude comments.

For my new lifestyle, I am constructing my personal vegan’ness around an end to violence, not an end to the use of animal products. If I hear of a local farmer with happy, free-range, hormone -free chickens who love the farmer and lay eggs for the farmer… I will buy and consume those eggs. Also, I do not believe the local honey industry to be violent, and local bees, help support local agriculture, so I will continue to enjoy my local raw honey. Finally, I can visit the farm where the dairy cows are raised and milked for the Raw Milk that is sold locally at Real Foods Market. This will remain a treat. I don’t mind the dairy industry when it is clearly nonviolent. The things I will be inflexible on… animal death. I don’t need to eat meat. I don’t need to eat an animal once alive, now dead no matter how it was killed.

I guess this makes me an always vegetarian sometimes a vegan. Meaning, when I have all the information I need to make a decision on the violence of an animals’ life, I will just be vegetarian, but when I am unsure of the violence surrounding how an animal was raised and use, I will be vegan.

I hope this makes me a better person and I hope this helps heal my heart of things that Manners' death brought to the surface. I miss, Miss Manners and I hurt for all the violence that the human race and animal kingdom have to experience every day.

* The above trailer is for a positive movie on the food industry. One that I enjoyed very much and was extremely informative. I looked for some shock-and-awe videos, but I couldn't watch them and didn't want to subject my friends to them.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

NRG Soup

The first time I made NRG Soup it was not bad. Good enough to make again.

Tonight... not so much. My poor husband. He is so patient with my cooking and is now comfortably situated on the couched eating raw mixed nuts, after my raw mixed bag of semi-fresh vegetables and fruit soup.
NRG Soup

"Water" - cucumbers and lemon (I should have just used WATER like I did the first time)
Nama Shoyu (I should have just used salt)
Red Bell Pepper
Orange Juice

All really delicious ingredients, incredibly raw, and it does give you tons of energy. That is, if you can get it down.

I don't know what went wrong tonight, but it was just disgusting. I had a Lara Bar and - as I said - Edwards had some nuts.

I am afraid of the kitchen.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Raw Pain of Insomnia

"Do you feel amazing on your raw diet?"

This is a question I get from raw foodies and raw foodie wannabes with incredible frequency.

Do I feel AMAZING? Um, no... I feel ALERT.
Having lived on and off in a terrible fog of muddling comprehension since I was hit by a car at 17, alertness is no small thing. It is, in fact, amazing. I feel strongly that clarity of mind is not something people should take for granted. Having spent half of my life working myself to exhaustion just trying to drowned out the sounds of a fluorescent lights so I can hear the conversation around me, alertness is like gold. However, after 30 + days, all of this ALERTNESS is starting to severely impact my beauty rest.

SLEEP has been my one and only survival skill for post-head injury life and I have always considered it a special gift that I can sleep anywhere, anytime, anyhow. Now, at the end of a long day, I go to get my eight hours of blissful, near death sleep and I am locked out by absolute alertness and a clear mind.

This might be fantastic. I really might only need five hours of sleep with such a clean diet, but the truth is... I miss it. I miss being asleep. I miss going to bed at the same time as my husband, and I miss enjoying only a few passing moments before I am dead to the world.

Maybe, if I keep my diet 50-60% raw, but introduce back in some nice hot "dead" food, I will keep my alert mind when I need it and be able to pass out when I'm ready.

Well, 2 o'clock a.m. seems to be my "reasonable" bedtime lately, so I only have another 2.5 hours to kill... maybe I can count on the Jane Eyre TV mini-series to knock me out again... that only took until 2:30 last night.
Saturday, Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday... WEDNESDAY = Food to help me sleep.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Silly Delicious Cooking Class

One thing I decided would be good to do during my raw challenge is attend a raw cooking class. This is a pretty big deal for me having never attended a cooking class in my life and even somehow "missing out on" Home Economics in high school. Sure it is the last week of my challenge, but still worth it and I might learn something.

I didn't know what to expect, so much so that I didn't even think of the basics... a raw cooking class = Hippies. THE WEIRDEST OF ALL HIPPIES. 15 minutes into the class I leaned over and said to Joanna (It's a girl thing. I had to bring a friend), "The hardest part of my challenge is going to be sitting through this class." She said, "No, shit" or rather she would have said, "No, shit" if she hadn't given up swearing for Lent, so she probably really said, "I know, right?"

The students were "sincere" and the teacher was an adorable disaster. Had she only been a disaster, we would have left, but watching her stumble and bumble was cute and endearing so we stayed. I didn't learn much new (certainly not how to hold a knife or chop vegetables competently) but we did walk away with two delicious raw recipes. One of which we tried out at an impromptu dinner party tonight.
Pasta with Mushroom "Cheese" Sauce

Part 1: Pasta
Zucchinis, Radishes, and Carrots all Julienned. Set on paper towels to dry

Part 2: Basic Cashew Cheese
Cashews and water blended until very smooth

Part 3: Mushroom Cheese Sauce
Olive Oil
Nama Shoyu
Cashew Cheese
Nutritional Yeast

Then you toss all this together and you have a miracle of delicious "Mushroom Alfredo Sauce" with "Pasta". True, this dish would be better in the middle of summer, but after 30 days of raw anything at home that is this flavorful is the best of treats.

Also, since Joanna is a brilliant dessert maker, we embarked on our first raw dessert. Chocolate Mousse with Strawberries and Cashew Cream.

Part I: Chocolate Mousse
Cacao Powder (we ground up Raw Cacao nibs in Edwards' coffee grinder, shhhhh...)
Coconut Water

Part II: Strawberries
Enough said

Part III: Cashew Cream
We took the left over Cashew Cheese and added Agave. YUM!

This was another miracle. A three layer dessert miracle. It looked almost exactly like this picture and tasted as good as you imagine.
Edwards said when I embarked on my raw challenge that some girls don't loose weight when they go raw because they eat too many nuts. Well, um, GUILTY! I consumed about 3 lbs of creamed cashews tonight and loved every second of it. Plus, I got to entertain friends over an amazing dinner, which is always the most gratifying part of life.


Oh and... I made the dessert again the next day in honor of Edwards'return home... the picture doesn't do it justice and you can't see the chocolate, but YUM!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Rose by Any Other Name

Ah, to be 29 again! If I were, I would be complete of my raw food challenge. Fortunately, I have only seven more full days.
It occurred to me this evening that I should have been documenting the recipes I've tried and the "adventures" I've had. Unfortunately, it has been difficult to feel inspired to write about my challenge as I'm not sure how interesting it is. However, last night and tonight I dined on something "interesting" and worth writing about.

Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

Part I: Mashed Potatoes
Lemon Juice

Part II: Gravy
Red Wine
Orange Juice
Olive Oil
Maple Syrup
Nama Shoyu
Apple Cider Vinegar
Sesame Seed Oil
Blended to Brown Sauce

What was going through my brain when I decided THIS is what I wanted for dinner? I can't really say, but if you'd been RAW for 28 days you just might also have an incredible, insatiable desire for ANYTHING named Mashed Potatoes and Gravy.

The biggest problem with this recipe (yes, besides maple syrup, nama shoyu, and jalapeno together) is the name. I think I'll stop gagging on it if I can figure out a new name for it. In theory, the flavors are not bad (and it is INCREDIBLE to have SO MUCH FLAVOR IN A RAW DISH) but if your brain is thinking "Mashed Potatoes and Gravy" it will never, ever never reconcile to the light'ish green/white moosh with brown liquid on top that you have in a bowl before you.

So - if anyone outside of myself ever read my blog - I would issue a NAME THAT DISH challenge. Then I would write the hippie author of this cookbook and demand that it be changed. Because let me tell you... a rose by any other name - rather, in any other shape - does NOT smell as sweet.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Good News

This raw diet isn't so bad. In fact, I think it is causing me to feel "normal" again. People ask if I feel any different, but I always say, "not really". However, I give that answer automatically compared to the me I was before Beata died. I really don't feel much different from the girl with her whole family. The truth is though, I can't compare to that girl because she has been missing for months.

I actually feel quite different from the me I was when I started the challenge 12 days ago. 12 days ago I was a disaster, missing and hurting for my family every minute of every day. Today, I am more at ease. It may have started with the distraction of learning something new (and all the dang food prep required for this diet), but now it might be healthy belly = healthy heart. I still miss Beata, Tuco, and Miss Manners, but it is beginning to be a warmer, softer, more loving feeling than the constant, crushing pain I had two weeks ago.

This is no small change. This is huge. I feel HUGELY different.

I think I've got to go one more step though. I've got to cut out wine and champagne. Not because I don't believe they are RAW, but because I get too drunk, too fast on this diet. I simply can't spend another night passed out in The John. That's right. I'm 34 years old and I just admitted to something shamefully undergraduate. Oh well, thanks to good company and wonderful friends it was totally worth it!

The challenge is hard. I miss hot food. I miss tea. I miss Indian food and Mexican food. I miss Cake Lunch. I miss going to restaurants. I miss interest in my food. I miss lots of wonderful things, but I am loving the cleanse. I have a lot of bad things to get rid of. Let's see how I do in the next 23 days!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Raw Challenge to Vegan Life

I had planned a really hard cross-country/skate ski challenge for my 34th year, but life lost a little forward momentum due to recent events and so did my training program. BUT... I needed a challenge. Maybe something more cerebral and beneficial for my life? Yes! I've got it!

34 Day Raw Food Diet.

The rules:
1. Duh, only raw food.
2. Raw "sweets" no more than twice a week
3. No caffeine. Bonus points for this one.

Starting on my birthday (NO CAKE?) February 15, 2011 and ending March 22, 2011.
I've added one day due to prior dinner arrangements with a friend moving to France.

I'm four days in and, well, I am dehydrated! Explain that? Everything I eat has tons of water, plus I drink a jug and half of water each day, but I'm walking around with pruned fingers and parched lips. Too weird. Other than that... It's not so bad. I just do not let myself get hungry. I eat ALL DAY! (hip, hip, hurray!) Sure, it is strawberries, dried mangoes, peanut butter, celery, snap peas, carrots, trail mix, and weird vitamix concoctions, but the intake is constant so I haven't gone bonkers with cravings yet.

In amazing solidarity, Edwards is participating partially in my challenge. He is on a whole foods diet for 34 days. Whole vs Raw allows him to use that amazing little invention called, FIRE. He can cook his foods. I never thought I'd be so jealous watching someone eat quinoa! How does he feel right now? Tired, cause he can't sleep. Diet transitions can be weird.

Of course, this means I missed Cake Lunch all week and now my dear friend is getting married and moving to VERNAL, UT! OK, nope, but she was made this offer and I wasn't even around to confer with! Fortunately, my friends are smart and will live without me while I'm in raw food isolation.

I'll try and keep the blog updated with how I feel. I certainly don't feel any better yet, but maybe I will. I'll also explain why, at the end of the 34 days, I'm not going back to being a "localtarian". I'm going to be vegan.

I guess if I'm gonna eat like a hippie, I'll have to include more yoga in the diet as well.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Dear Neighbor

This is the note I want to post in my neighborhood, but I don't think I can manage something even this simple. It seems less silent than you must be to manage a crisis of this kind.

Dear Neighbor Who Bludgeoned My Dog With An Ax:

The next time you see an animal in your unfenced backyard, enjoying the pay dirt of your illegally ranging chickens, please run out of your house with a broom instead of an ax.

You have broken my heart, my family, and my faith in humanity.


Your neighbor

Our beautiful, joyous, mischievous, escape-artist husky rescue, Miss Maya Manners chose to go exploring in the neighborhood last week. We tried to round her up, but she refused. Shortly thereafter she found and killed a chicken in an unfenced backyard, ranging behind a knee-high plastic fence. The "Man of the House" ran out and beat her with an ax. AN AX. Intuitively we do not believe his story, our vet who had to see her and put her down doesn't believe his story, and Animal Control does not believe his story. However, she was at-large and "he felt threatened" by a beautiful, 36lb furball who ran hastily away from any confrontation. There is nothing anyone can do.

PS, Neighbor: The blows you struck indicate that you were holding her and she was crouched in a fearful, submissive position. You let her sit in your backyard brain damaged, crippled, and bleeding for an hour as you waited for animal control to respond. I would be very sorry that she killed your chicken if you had not already taken your own grotesque retribution.

I am not sorry. I am deeply sorrowful and deeply mad. I talk about shielding myself with gratitude (thank you for calling Animal Control), but it is only enough to keep me functioning, barely.

Maya Manners was a joyful and loving distraction from the void that Beata and Tuco left. Now the void is deeper, darker, and more painful. I throw my remaining love and attention to Finnegan. He is a wonderful, happy, eager dog. I am thankful for him.

In sorrow,