A Working Vacation…

Thank goodness for vacations!!!  Chuck was fortunate enough to have some “use or lose” time on his hands and I couldn’t have asked for it at a better time.  We are not planning on going anywhere big during the time he has off (which is a first) but it’s nice to have him around to take care of Raegan while I am trying to blog and get a few other projects out of the way.  Which brings me to a few great updates….

The first project I need to get out of the way this week is my article for T.O.F.U. Magazine.  They are based in St. John’s, Newfoundland and they offer a great vegan magazine composed of many contributing writers from around the world and it seems that they are always looking for people to write about things going on in the vegan community-no matter how big or small that they seem.  Their magazine issues are on a “pay as you want” basis with a minimum purchase of $0 (therefore you can get it for free but I am encouraging all of those interested to donate a little something to help out a great cause!).  I think this would be a great opportunity to not only promote my blog, but to also show readers a side of veganism that often gets looked over.  Also, I can inform people that there is a vegan movement growing outside of the “college hipster” scene and into what most people consider the typical, traditional “All American Family” or those who are considered established in their careers.  I want to thank Ryan Patey, the editor of T.O.F.U. for giving me the inspiration to write about it 🙂

The next big project is to revive a website my husband and I founded nearly two years ago called C-ville Veg*n.  It kind of fell by the wayside mainly due to the fact that back then we both had hectic jobs and were just too tired to even post once a week.  And then with Raegan’s arrival, it just gave us more of an excuse to be even more lazy about it 🙁  My chief complaint was that it lacked real direction and I feel that this “revival” is going to fix that.  In my honest opinion, I feel that every successful website or blog out there needs to have a vision.  You don’t have to aim high, it can just be a small, simple purpose that means something to you and comes from the heart.  To me, C-Ville Veg*n needed to be kept in C-ville, hence the title.  Chuck and I made a deal that we would make more of an effort to try places off the beaten path in Charlottesville that would appeal to vegans.  Afterall, there’s only so many times you can hear about the same 5 veg-friendly places in Charlottesville until you feel like you are trapped.  I think for any vegan entering our town, this website could serve to be a great resource 🙂

On another topic, I have been cooking my way through the Engine 2 Diet book and I am confident to say that I probably tried more recipes than most of my friends who are taking the 28 Day Challenge with me right now.  I promise all of you that I will provide a run down of the recipes I have tried and give you my honest opinion on each of them once I am finished with the 28 days.  My “graduation” is on July 13th so that’s merely around the corner! 

While on the topic of Engine 2, I have decided to share with you a recipe inspired by the book.  It all started when I was talking to Kristen, who is the Healthy Eating Specialist at our local Whole Foods Market, about the Blueberry Dumpster Cobbler recipe.  We both agreed that it was NOT pretty looking (OK-I referred to it as “puke” but please bear with me!) when you combine the ingredients together and the final result was a blueberry creation with a crust that seemed like there was something significant missing to truly call it a “cobbler“.  Overall it was a tasty dessert but something was definitely missing.  That conversation led to me to looking at the local peaches I had in my kitchen and the ideas I threw around with Kristen.  Needless to say, I truly believe that I invented a healthier Peach Cobbler!!!  I’m not sure if you ever watched the movie, Duece Bigalow: Male Gigolo, but in one scene Deuce is with one of his “clients” and they are playing a game of Trivial Pursuit that was based around “Cakes and Pies…Cakes and Pies!” and if there was one thing I learned from that scene is that Peach Cobbler is a pie that contains the most sugar out of all the varieties out there!  In this version I am about to share, there is only 3 Tablespoons of raw agave nectar which to me is saying a lot since is did turn out to be a pretty good cobbler 🙂  I wish I could have a picture to go along with this recipe but it was so good it didn’t last long enough for a photo session!!! 

Robin’s E2 Approved Peach Cobbler
Ingredients:
2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2/3 milk substitute (almond, soy, hemp…you choose!)
3 Tablespoons of raw agave nectar

2 cups of chopped peaches (I left the fuzzy skins on to keep the peaches intact but I’m sure you can peel them if you wish and get the same effect…same goes with frozen!)

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Combine all the ingredients except the peaches in a medium sized bowl.  The batter will be very runny!  Pour the runny batter in a 9X9 non stick pan or a pan that has been lightly sprayed with oil and top with peaches.  Bake for 45 minutes or until browned.  A great option is to serve this with Rip’s Magic Banana Ice Cream which is NOT found in his book 🙂

Still keeping on the subject of cooking and cookbooks, last week I got an exciting email from Wendy Vigdor-Hess, RD.  She is from the Charlottesville area and has been a nutritionist, educator, speaker and consultant for nearly 18 years.  She just recently came out with her first book titled, Sweetness Without Sugar and I was offered by Wendy to cook my way through her book the same way I cooked my way through the Engine 2 Diet.  Sweetness Without Sugar is a cookbook/cooking resource that is not only sugar free but also free of other common allergens such as dairy, egg, wheat and soy (obviously all vegan!).  Now before anyone reads the term “sugar free”, I am in no way talking about using Splenda or any of those commercial artificial sweeteners…Wendy’s book replaces refined sugars with natural sweeteners and gives great alternatives to recreating your favorite desserts.  I have met Wendy at a few Vegan Meetup events for nearly two years and I can tell you, she is very passionate about total wellness.  Being offered this opportunity is so exciting that I have also decided to delegate Chuck into providing photography (it’s his new hobby and he has a serious camera to prove it!) for the sweet creations I plan to recreate from Wendy’s book.  You should expect this shortly after my Engine 2 Diet graduation.

Wrapping things up, I am pretty excited about the things I will be taking part in this summer and I haven’t even mentioned all of them!  Although this week is technically a vacation in our household, there is still so much work to be done and so many opportunities to share on my blog so…

"Where’s the dough???" My Engine 2 Diet Saga…

Clara Peller’s famous words were “Where’s the Beef?” but I wonder what she would have said had she been vegan…

So here I am on Week 2 of the Engine 2 Diet…I have literally cooked my way through a majority of Rip’s book during this 28 Day Challenge and I find myself in the Pizza area of the recipe section of his book.  Let me just start by venting a little bit…Rip sucks when it comes to providing a pizza crust recipe 🙁  I have all these toppings but nowhere in sight is there any guidance when it comes to making my own “E2 Approved” doughy foundation to support my attempt at an Italian creation.  His only advice is to buy a store bought pizza crust and lists a few brands that he prefers.  I just cannot rationalize spending three bucks on premade cardboard that tries to pass off as pizza crust when I can easily make one at home for literally pennies!  Being the savvy person that I am, I looked online on multiple recipe sites to look for the perfect whole wheat pizza dough.  Now this is where the frustration starts…


Let me first start off by reminding some of you on what the Engine 2 Diet entails.  In brief, it’s no white four, no white sugar, no white pastas/bread/rice, no processed foods, very minimal oil, no meat, and no dairy products.  In addition, for every 200 calories a food product has, it cannot exceed 1.5 grams of fat.  It sounds restricting but it wasn’t until I tried to make a simple cheeseless pizza.  So my discovery took me in two directions…The best reviewed whole wheat pizza crust recipes included a mixture of both white and wheat flour.  Well, that’s not something I can do during my 28 Day Challenge.  Then I found recipes that did not include white flour and the reviews went something like… “The crust was hard as a rock” or “My dog even refused to eat it” or “I have eaten poster board better than this!”.  You get the picture…

So amongst the many roadblocks, one suggestion was to use whole wheat pastry flour.  For starters, that stuff comes in measly 5lb bags (or smaller!) and they are not very cost effective for a simple pizza crust.  Instead, I save that flour for something more special…like brownies. So here I am with a 10lb bag of whole wheat flour and no way to use it for pizza crust.  Upon further sleuthing I found a couple constructive ideas but I discovered that wheat gluten (yep the same stuff they use for seitan!) can be thrown into the wheat flour to make the dough more pliable and thus, resulting in a pizza crust that doesn’t give you the sensation of eating glass…So in my mission to spare anyone the grief that I went through to get to this point.  I am providing you the VERY first recipe in this blog.  I’ll admit, this is not New York pizza by a long shot and could use a but of tweaking, but for a pizza crust that would make Rip Esselstyn proud, this will definitely do the trick.  I also provided poorly done photos that I took with my iPhone 4, just so everyone gets an idea of the step by step process.

So without any further delay….

Robin’s E2 Approved Pizza Crust
Ingredients:
1 cup lukewarm water
1 Tablespoon of raw Turbinado sugar  (Sugar in the Raw)
1 envelope of yeast (not fast rising!)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 Tablespoon wheat gluten
1 teaspoon fine sea salt (if using table salt, you might want to cut the amount in half)
Directions:
Mix the sugar with lukewarm water until somewhat dissolved.  Add yeast and mix.  Wait 10 minutes.  During this time the yeast will “proof” and once those 10 minutes are up, you should notice a bit of foam on top on the mixture.  If there is no foam, your yeast is probably dead (or expired) and you will have to repeat again.  This is vital!!!  In a large bowl, combine the wheat flour, wheat gluten, and sea salt.  Then add proofed yeast mixture to dry ingredients.  I prefer mixing with your hands because your hands can give you a better idea on whether or not your dough is too wet or dry.  The dough should feel somewhat grainy but have a little (not like regular pizza dough so don’t get too picky here!) stretch to the dough (probably due to the added wheat gluten).  Once thoroughly mixed, your dough should look something like this:
Place a wet towel over your bowl with the dough and let sit for an hour until the dough has doubled, which should look something like this:
Dough so awesome that even my toes wanted to share the photo op!
Once the dough has risen, you will want to stretch/roll/press (whatever suits your fancy!) the dough into a standard size pizza pan (not the jumbo one!).  Let the dough rest in the pan for 10 minutes.  This will allow the dough to rise slightly again which is what we are looking for.  From there, you want to add your sauce, toppings, and any herbs you might want to use.  I used low sodium crushed tomatoes as my sauce and topped with peppers, onions, artichoke hearts, and pitted kalamata olives.  As far as herbs go, I used dried basil, oregano, garlic powder, red pepper flake, and freshly ground pepper and I baked the pizza at 425°F for roughly 15 minutes (check the crust every 5 minutes or so to prevent the potential of burning!).
The end result is a pizza with a crust that kind of reminds you of toasted wheat bread…

So there you have it…my first official recipe.  I never thought it would be something as simple as pizza crust but this was a desperate time and I figured that there were others who were in the same rut.  I would love to get feedback on this recipe along with any modifications you made because this recipe probably could use a few in order to turn it into perfection.  I’m definitely open to suggestions and a great place to start is putting in the “Comments” section below….

Why Vegan??? A tale of a couple who only wanted to do better…

Take a moment to look at this couple…this is definitely the happiest day of their lives and little did they know, this was only the beginning.  Now take another glimpse of this photo…the last thing you would think is that this typical, attractive couple would be vegan in a matter of months after this photo was taken.  And you may ask yourself “Why?”  Well, sit right back and you’ll hear an interesting tale of how veganism became a way of life for this family and how they hope to inspire others just by being themselves 🙂

It all began roughly around mid August of 2008.  I wish I remembered the exact date but that’s irrelevant to this story…Anyways, one afternoon I took the day off of work (I believe it was due to a doctor’s appointment and I had no intention of going back to work afterwards) but Chuck recently introduced me to Hulu and I was fascinated with the fact that I could watch any show I wanted whenever there was nothing good on TV.  Yeah, I love the old “idiot box” as much as I love shopping 😉  While looking for TV shows to watch, I came across a TV series called 30 Days that was hosted by Morgan Spurlock.  I loved Super Size Me and figured, this should be right up my alley.  After watching a couple episodes, I was intrigued…maybe slightly hooked.  Then I came across an episode from the show’s third season titled “Animal Rights.”  Back then I knew enough about the topic but not so much on the vegan lifestyle so this episode really opened my eyes in no way ever before.  About an hour later, Chuck comes home from work and I told him about the show I just watched.  Out of curiosity, he decides to watch it with me.  His response afterwards was (and we both can still remember this moment verbatim) “I can do anything for 30 days!”  To him this was a challenge and coming from a man who is proud war veteran having served in Afghanistan, he’s had his fair share of challenges.  To me, it was about doing what’s right, not just for my health but also for the animals.

The first thing Chuck did (god bless him for this one!) was to go online and research more about veganism and also to find recipes that would not intimidate a first timer…The food was probably the easy part.  From day one he fell in love with VegWeb.  The website had reviews from average folks like him who enjoy cooking a good meal as much as eating it 🙂  The hard part was looking at graphic images that I will spare the details and just tell you to Google “Factory Farming“.  One thing for anyone to consider is that approximately 99% of the meat we consume in the US comes from factory farms.  Regardless if you claim to buy “organic” or “free range meat” the USDA standards for those are soooooooooo lax (unless you know these farmers personally and feel confident that they go above and beyond standards which is rare) that you might as well buy the cheap stuff that was exposed to drugs and unnecessary cruelty…

Now stating the terms “drugs and cruelty” might have shut off a few ears so I am going to take a moment and not sound like a walking PETA ad.  This is not the tone I want to set for this blog because I am not a paid employee of any animal rights organization and if you want more details, feel free to go to an organization that is near and dear to both Chuck and I called Compassion Over Killing.  They are not about the shock factor, celebrity glam, or showing scantily clad women in lettuce bikinis (sorry guys!) but they do get things done by hosting non-intimidating (and very fun) events to get the word across and also encouraging food companies and restaurant chains into becoming more vegan friendly.  I’m sure there are other great organizations out there as well, but to me this organization gave us the tools we were looking for and because of that, they have our full support 🙂

Now back to the story at hand…

The first vegan meal we prepared was sooooo delicious that from that point on, we never looked back.  I think at some point we discussed after our 30 day challenge that we would go back to eating the meat and ice cream in the freezer until it was gone (to not be wasteful), but that plan flew out of the window and Chuck’s parent’s probably had enough non-vegan food to last them a few months!!!  Telling our family and friends about our choice to go vegan was in my opinion, similar to what I would think of one’s “coming out” would be like…

This is no surprise…you always loved veggie pizza over meat lover’s when you were growing up.”– Chuck’s parents

I’m sure at this point, I got a decent chuckle out of you…thus, it’s safe to say the rest was history!!!

Now in conclusion (and on a different note!), I just wanted to end this post by letting you know that although I am not aiming to be famous for this blog but I definitely want people to follow my crazy life.  You’ll notice on the upper right of this blog there is a nifty “Follow” icon that kinda has a Google logo attached to it.  Just click on it and the rest is easy 🙂  I am open to comments on my blog as well so I know what my audience is thinking.  Also if you have friends who might get a kick out of a new up and coming vegan blog, just refer them right here…it’s that simple.  As I gain more followers, I really would like to liven it up and have giveaways selected by yours truly (this should be soon I swear!).  And always, if you have any questions or suggestions please feel free to leave a comment or email me.  By the looks of the events in my house this afternoon, I definitely smell another blog post in the works within the next day or two :p  Have a great evening!!!

Happy 1/2 Birthday Raegan!!!

Raegan’s dinner etiquette at its best 😉

I know I am a day early but hey…She is practically the center of my world as I know I am with hers as well.  I often get asked about being a vegan parent and if Raegan is also going to be raised vegan.  Why wouldn’t I raise her vegan???  I personally find it to be the dumbest of all vegan questions in the book!!!  However, I do see one side to these questions…when you Google “Vegan Parenting” it’s pretty limited.  Then there are some parenting sites that only talk about food (not baby food!) and it just goes off the subject that really matters…how to raise your vegan children in non-vegan situations…

I know that every person is going to be different in their style of parenting…That’s a no-brainer.  Some moms go above and beyond to make their child’s clothing, toys, etc. while other moms aren’t into the DIY projects (make no appologies!) and will spend countless hours online finding a pair of cute baby shoes that are leather free.  Both ways, no matter what kind of vegan mother you are, it’s not an easy task.  Also, some vegan mothers have to deal with day care while others (like me) stay at home.  Still, both scenarios are going to raise some non-vegan situations and to me, it’s always like that monkey on your back, but it doesn’t have to feel that way.

Looking back in May of 2010, when the fertility specialist confirmed I was pregnant, I went to the OB/GYN to start my journey into becoming a mother.  The first appointment was the one I dreaded and yet it ended so well.  My worst fear was having some nurse bash me for choosing to stay on a vegan diet but surprisingly enough, the nurse looked at me as I was the role model of a perfect prenatal diet.  She didn’t have to explain to me about the hazards of eating fish, deli meats, and certain cheeses.  Therefore, I just made her job sooo much easier 😉  The eating part was easy…However, the prenatal vitamins were another issue.  If your OB/GYN’s office is anything like mine, they push the free samples of prenatal vitamins which usually contain gelatin capsules or fish oil (even the ones that claim to be “vegetarian” are not even close to vegan friendly!).  I understand that most supplement capsules contain gelatin but come on, fish oil?!  Excuse me, didn’t I just get the lecture about consuming fish and the risk of mercury?!  Why isn’t a non-veg mother asking these same questions too?  Apparently, the fish oil is for the sake of DHA….Well, let me tell you a bit about DHA.  The origin of DHA is from microalgae and when taken directly from microalgae (as opposed to fish) you are receiving it in the best form possible (In other words, the same way fish are getting it…They didn’t magically wake up and start making it themselves!).  I am not a doctor (nor am I licensed to give medical advice so no lawsuits please!) but before I became the vegan housewife that I am, I was working in healthcare and from my experience in the field, sometimes things make sooooo much sense but yet no one catches on for one reason or another.  If you live near any healthfood/vitamin store you can easily obtain (even if you live out in “the sticks”!) vegan-friendly DHA that is both affordable and high quality.  You can take it along with any vitamin you choose to take (I am sensitive to vitamins so I just used a children’s gummy vitamin along with a DHA Supplement).  During my pregnancy, I will admit, I heard the dumb questions about if I was going to stop being vegan while pregnant.  Let me think here…I can understand that if I was smoking, drinking heavily or popping pills for my amusement that someone would ask me if I was giving up something that was not benefiting me, but being vegan has done nothing but give me great benefits so why wouldn’t I want to give those great benefits to my own child??? 

Moving forward to exactly 6 months ago when I was delivering my child, I was faced with several non-vegan situations.  For starters, no matter how well you plan or how savvy your hospital is, you’re going to run into a situation where the only food they can provide you is fruit because everything else contains dairy or gelatin (yeah, they still serve that nasty stuff!).  This is when you start using the term “Daddy Duty” and also grabbing your closest friends to sneak in the vegan contraband just so you can survive the hospital stay.  All while this is happening, your baby arrives and is greeted into the world with a bunch of (far from vegan) immunizations. 

I know immunizations are a hot topic to any mom (not just vegans) but going back to my healthcare experience, I have to admit to myself that there is a difference between overdoing it and finding balance.  The best advice I can give to you is know exactly what your child is getting and if you don’t understand the necessity of that particular immunization…ask!  And if you don’t get a decent answer, refuse the service until you find someone who can properly explain it to you.  I can’t stress this enough!!!  Just remember that every little service that is done in any medical setting requires your verbal and/or written consent (unless in dire situations!) and if you see anyone doing something you never authorized, raise hell and if you’re still not satisfied- file a complaint!  Most doctors and their staff will tell you that the best patients they have are the informed ones….so be as informed as possible!  Furthermore, immunizations are never classified as “vegan” as they often come from animal products like eggs, but most of the immunizations were tested on animals before they were ever given to their first human recipient.  Sadly, the FDA still requires animal testing on practically everything so there’s not much anyone can do right now when it comes to “animal free medications/immunizations”.  I know as a vegan and a mother, this sometimes leaves a guilty feeling inside until I am reminded that the true vegan motto is to “Be the best vegan you can be.”

Now having a child in my arms who is healthy, happy and loved is probably the best reward I have to being vegan and raising a vegan family.  I try my best to not sweat the small stuff and once Raegan is old enough to communicate, it is definitely my responsibility to educate her as to why her mommy and daddy chose to raise her as a vegan.  I am confident that she will catch on very quickly and might even grow into being quite the activist 🙂  Both her mommy and daddy are not ones to back down from a good debate so I’m thinking she’s going to be a natural when it comes to telling anyone within distance about veganism.  It reminds me of an old quote:

You put a baby in a crib with an apple and a rabbit. If it eats the rabbit and plays with the apple, I’ll buy you a new car…” -Harvey Diamond

I agree with many activists who say that eating animals is taught…I never seen a toddler go into a barn to kill a chicken just so they can have dinner.  To them, dinner is what their parents feed them.  No matter if you are vegan or not…you can’t help but agree along with me…Dinner to a child is what you feed them (so please feed them well and avoid those golden arches and other lookalikes no matter how convenient it looks!).  Now on the same page here, every child at some point will ask you where certain things come from….and usually the reaction to meat is always the worst.  I went vegetarian at 13 when I FULLY realized (you know-when you see that first blue vein across your meat…) that the steak I was eating was a cow’s muscle and that just did it for me.  Then I eventually went vegan along with my husband back in late 2008 once we both were informed about factory farms and how we both wanted no part in it (I’ll give you the full story another post!).  So to me, getting the message to Raegan is going to be the easy part…Just teaching her how to deal with the public is going to be a challenge.  But nothing in this life is easy, especially if you know what you are doing is right.


The best thing I have now is a VERY small network of local moms who are vegan…I found them all online originally and it’s amazing how quickly I have become good friends with each one of them.  One of my friends in particular, is such a godsend to me (and I hope she knows who she is!) when it comes to raising a vegan child as she has a child that’s 3 years old so she’s a couple steps ahead of me which definitely works out to my advantage 😉  She’s definitely a woman who can write a novel about vegan parenting and I go to her for just about everything and she always has the best answer!!!  But having a network of other local vegan moms is essential for survival and if you cannot find vegan mothers who live close to you, then go online and find other random vegan moms out there (or follow my blog or email me).  I promise you’ll be amazed with the information you learn along the way, no matter how creepy stalking Facebook for vegan mothers seems 🙂


These past 6 months have gone by so quickly that soon enough, I will be posting about Raegan’s first birthday!!!  For now, here’s to wishing a Happy 1/2 Birthday to “My Queen”.  May I provide her with the knowledge and love it takes to mold her into an exceptional, compassionate human being…





Our Dinner with Rip…

Talk about a fascinating evening!!!

I wish I could tell you guys that after I published my first blog post I had this HUGE party with a ton of vegan celebrities on the guest list like Woody Harrelson, Tal Ronnen, and Alicia Silverstone, but my life isn’t that glamorous to say the least.  However, shortly after my first blog post, I was given an opportunity (along with everyone else in the Charlottesville area!) to have dinner with Rip Esselstyn, the creator of the Engine 2 Diet.  The event was hosted by our local Whole Foods Market, which very recently went through a transition of their own.  They FINALLY (after 6 years of talk!) opened a new store and in comparison to the older store they had, this is definitely my version of heaven 😉 

Anyways, back to the subject at hand…

The dinner was held Wednesday evening at the Omni Hotel in Charlottesville and for those who wanted to sign up for the 28 Day Challenge, Whole Foods would donate $28 to the UVA Burn Unit for each person who wanted to participate in this win-win situation.  Also, to sweeten the deal, admission to the event was $5 but a $5 gift voucher to Whole Foods was given in return for just attending the event!  I noticed a few firefighters and EMTs at this event as well which really made for such an overall great event 🙂  The food was catered by Whole Foods but it stuck with the Engine 2 Diet recipes which was filling but I have to side with a couple of friends of mine who went and say it was a tad bland but Rip did explain that not all the food provided was done exactly to his specifications when it came to flavor and certain garnishes (like the ground cashews for a nutty cheesy effect) for his Sweet Potato Lasagna.  I guess I will give Mr. Esselstyn a pass since he did give me a great autograph to add to my (very small) collection 😉

You may ask yourself why I took this long to post if I went to this fantastic event.  Well…my explanation is very simple, I actually took the time to read the whole book cover to cover!  Although it is an easy read but it’s a challenge to sit down and read anything when you are dealing with an infant…

She can see through your soul and still demand more attention!

I took the book with me to my hair appointment (I probably came across as rude but I had my goal in sight and no salon gossip was going to keep me away from it!) and any time I had free and this weekend, I gladly gave Chuck “baby duty”.  While reading this book, I did have an “ah-ha” moment regarding the meals I prepare at our house.  Although my meals are always 100% vegan and fresh and/or frozen produce take center stage, I really realized how much oil I put into my food and just how easily I will use my organic unbleached white flour and vegan fair trade sugar without a second thought.  I do have standards like any other wife/mother, for instance I will always use whole grain pastas/rice and I make a lot of things from scratch because it’s healthier and cost effective.  After reading this book, it made me take a second look at what I was really feeding my family.  There was never one moment that I felt like a bad provider, but like all people who try to live well and eat well sometimes along the way you feel like you made too many “exceptions” and now those “exceptions” are coming back to haunt you.  I agree with a lot of what Rip is trying to say and if you ask around, not many people (and zero medical experts!) arguing against him. 

What I am hoping to get from this book is simple….To look better and to feel better.  When it comes to looks, clinically speaking, my weight is considered “average” but if I were to gain 5lbs right now, without a doubt I would be creeping into the “overweight” category.  Unlike most of the friends I know, I never, ever, ever, ever had the dreaded weight talk with my doctor.  Also, most people might feel that I should be given some slack since I had a baby 6 months ago…to me it’s just an excuse and it’s one I never used and never will use (some people are amazed how much I have already lost since child birth!).  Weightwise, I hope this program will get me at an overall better weight. 

Now on the health side of things, I suffer from 2 irritating ailments that effect most people.  The major one right now is Acid Reflux, also known as GERD.  I have dealt with this issue for well over 2 years now and have been subjected to many tests that lead to no real answer.  Instead, I have to take medication twice a day in order to feel remotely comfortable.  I go to one of the best GI doctors in the nation and I still suffer 🙁  The other ailment I have is PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome, also known as PCOS.  This ailment is what forced me to seek fertility treatment 2 years ago and to finally have Raegan.  Sadly, PCOS can lead to Type 2 Diabetes, along with infertility, unwanted hair on the face (sometimes chest in extreme cases), excess weigh around the middle (my trouble spot for MANY years), and adult acne.  Some celebrities who have PCOS include Victoria Beckham, Kate Gosselin, and Jillian Michaels to name a VERY small few.  Chuck and I would love to add another child to our family but what we would really love is to get pregnant without all the doctors and drugs…But I also made peace knowing that getting pregnant again might require going back to the specialists and I’m confident to say that we are both prepared for that regardless. 

So to sum it all up (minus the sob story!), I would like to fix what’s ailing me and it appears that Rip’s approach might help with some of that and I am always willing to give things “the old college try!”

Now before I end this post, I want to also inform my audience that this blog will NOT be in any way 100% focused on the Engine 2 Diet…My life is more than that and I promised all of you (including myself) that this blog will have some variety unlike most blogs out there.  This just kind of fell into my lap while I was creating this blog and it’s definitely worth talking about.  I signed up for the 28 Day Challenge in hopes that this might open even more doors to this blog and more importantly, my own life.  This Wednesday, (June 15th) is the first day of the 28 Day Challenge.  Whole Foods has provided support group sessions along with providing experts in Behavioral Management to help along the way.  I think the thing I am excited about is doing something and actually finishing until the end.  It’s been a long time that I have done something like that and I remember that awesome feeling of accomplishment! 

Moving forward, I will be attending the Richmond Vegetarian Festival this weekend (just as a patron…not a speaker!  OK not yet anyways…) and also I have been contacted to contribute an article for a small vegan magazine located on the west coast.  I have absolutely no idea on what I want to write about (I am open to ideas!) and I feel guilty for not really having any awesome ideas but whatever I come up with, you bet, I will be sharing it here 🙂  As I am typing this, somewhere in my mind I am just thinking about my little vegan dreams coming alive.  When I became vegan back in late 2008 (literally months after Chuck and I were married) we originally did it for health/animal welfare reasons and soon enough, the ripple effect happened and I couldn’t be happier 🙂  If one day I become a famous blogger or vegan writer, I certainly hope I get a chance to thank all of you personally who followed me all the way back to this humble post.  If there is one thing for sure, this Real Vegan Housewife is going to have one awesome year ahead…

Intro…

Before I go on…I AM NOT A HIPPIE!!!  Wow…that felt great to get that out in the open 🙂  Some of you stumbling on my blog may not know me and are probably wondering what dragged you here in my lovely corner of the internet.  I decided to use my first post to let you in on my crazy world.  For those who already know me, please feel free to skim this post and follow my blog as I am sure you will get as much satisfaction reading it as much as I do writing it.

I guess by looking at the title of this blog, you already know two things about me: 1) I am a vegan.  2) I am a housewife.  What some of you may not know is that I have the best job in the world.  Sure it has its ups and downs but at the end of the day, I spend my most of my waking hours with those who mean most to me (never in any specific order)….

My loving husband Chuck who always sees the glass half full…Or in this case, two full glasses 😉

My first love…Shadow.  For the past eight years, he has been my rock and my furry stalker 🙂
Roscoe- He graduated twice from obedience school at the top of his class…but still no trashcan is ever safe!!!
This is the girl who truly taught me to be selfless…Raegan.  She is the CEO of this family 😉

You might wonder since I have three family members to think about, when do I have time to do anything for me?  Or in that case, what do I like to do?  Well, the first thing you will find out later on is that I love to cook.  It’s my therapy.  I like creating the food people have always wanted to try but never had the time or the patience to do.  I also like veganizing old family favorites, that I like to call “Trailer Park Food”.  It’s basically comfort food that was never intended to be healthy, but possibly healthier because it’s now got a vegan twist to it.  I’m not a nutritionist or a doctor so I can’t quite confirm the “health factor” to that claim.  And also I never, ever lived in a trailer…I just lived a handful of years in my mom’s house in West Virginia that was sooooooooooooooo small that a trailer might have been more luxurious.  Ironic, huh?

Another thing I like to do is travel…either by plane, bus, car, unicorn, etc.  Before I became married, I had my fair share of worldly travel.  Currently, with a young infant, it’s a little more limited but I look back at the places I have been and I appreciated everything I have learned from each place.  I also look forward to sharing those experiences with my daughter once she becomes more “travel compliant”.  The thing that calms my itch to travel is to explore places that are closer to where I live.  I live in one of the most beautiful states in the US and in such a great diverse college town.  That fabulous place is called Charlottesville, Virginia.  I am within driving distance to so many historical landmarks and in crawling distance to a billion (and counting!) wineries, breweries, and distilleries.  The focus of this town is “going local” with a great emphasis on farmers, local businesses, etc.

I am very proud to say that we have a steadily growing vegan population.  My husband and I are “co-organizers” of our local Charlottesville Vegan Meetup Group along with our friend (and original founder) Doug.  Just looking at the website today, our group is just under 150 members strong.  Not all of our members are vegan, but we simply classify our members as “Vegans and Veg Interested.”  We normally meet up at random places for potlucks, restaurants, or just about anywhere doing anything that is vegan friendly.  Chuck and I are still surprised about the random vegans we see in our area who have yet to hear about this group….So if you are that random vegan living in the area-CLICK ON THE LINK NOW!!!

What I am hoping to get out of this blog is that I can share with other people how easy it is to be a NORMAL family and be vegan.  Plus, I have a few interesting things that happen day to day that might bring a smile to someone’s face 🙂  I hope to also be able to give tips/ideas and be able to squash any stereotypes out there regarding my family’s choice of lifestyle.  The more I post on here, the more I hope you see that there are other sides of me than just being “That Crazy Vegan Housewife.”  Also, there are a million vegan cooking blogs out there and as much as I want to try to share with you my wonderful recipes, I don’t want the focus to be just on food (but I still promise you good food!).  My idea is to help that other vegan mom out there or possibly that other person who is simply looking into a simpler, but cruelty free lifestyle.  I will be the first to admit that I am not perfect….I am not always the perfect vegan, but really who is???  Sometimes, we have to weigh our options and go for what’s overall the best choice (like medicine to treat a chronic condition…I wish good health for everyone regardless!).  Many well respected vegans will tell you that it’s all about “being the best vegan you can be” and that’s the point I will always drive home to each and every one of you.  In return, I am expecting a supportive network from people of all walks of life who can relate to my day to day rants 😉

So without any further delay, I give you myself and my crazy life to read about…Enjoy!!!