It made me realize that I absolutely love food, and I love discovering new flavours through health. The thing I realized the most though was that... when I had first started looking at other blogs I used to click on links where you could clearly tell it was full of buttery, fatty, ooey-gooey goodness, be it from cupcakes, to cakes, to breakfasts, to cheesy meals. It's been months since I've tasted cheese (other than soy) let alone craved or been tempted by cheese. If I see a recipe that needs butter (other than nut butters) I disregard it no matter how good it may look... Earth Balance or butter to me it's the same. I may have a tub of Earth Balance, but I've had mine for almost three months and there are only about 2 tbsp missing. I don't cook with it, I don't crave it, I don't look for it.
My sugars don't come from refined sugars, they come from dried fruits, such as dates (my favourite), dried papaya, dried cantaloupes (a recent discovery... how I wish I would of found them before), flaked coconut (always a favourite of mine), plantain chips, etc... if I need sugars in my baking, it comes from agave nectar, maple syrup or coconut sap. I try very hard not to use granulated sugar.
My grains have also changed immensely. Over the past couple of months, I've discovered grains and used grains that I hadn't even heard of until the last couple of months, millet (which I absolutely despised but the more I cooked/baked with it the more I began to love it's earthy notes), bulgur (my absolute favourite), spelt, chickpea flour, and rolled oats. I barely ever use AP flour/white rice unless I've run out of my favourites and didn't have time to get to the store.
My proteins are no longer dependent on eggs or knock-off soy-meats. I've used tofu in ways I never thought possible (I've never disliked tofu but I've been dressing it in ways that seriously makes it tastes' 4320948098x better than any meat). I've been incorporating legumes into my diet on a regular basis. Legumes are a "food group" that I certainly steered far, far away from, now I run very fast, and directly to them. I love them very much. I'm not afraid of having nuts into my diet, or restricting my nut butters to one little lick, or one teeny drizzle of melted peanut butter. I dance with peanuts, cashews, walnuts, and other nuts. I embrace them. I thank them. I know how good they are for my body and I don't deny them. I may not go buck-wild with them, but I dance with them.
I no longer look at food as this horrible, evil-demon like substance that is going to make me fat. I look at it as fuel. Fuel to carry on through the day. Fuel to allow me to bike hard in the morning. To allow me to get through my afternoon workouts whether it be yoga, strength training or more cardio. It's more fuel. It's energy. It's food for my brain. Substance for my cells, nerves, muscles, everything. I look for satisfying ways to incorporate all of these new found food loves into my diet.
Over the past few months I have become so in love with the vegan lifestyle, from the cooking, to the healthy way of living, to just the peace of mind. I feel happy with myself. I feel happy with my life, with what I've become. I can truthfully say I love life. I work hard every day, I prep my meals every night, I practice exercise on a daily basis, and I love myself. I may get down on myself, but I bring myself back up a lot easier than I used to. I no longer feel sluggish. I no longer get blurred vision when I stand up. I may have mood swings here and there, but it's no where near as horrible as it was, I admit I had some really bad moments. I may be an insomniac, but it's not nearly as bad as I was. I no longer eat no fat foods, drinks with aspartame, half a tub of ice cream in one sitting, large amounts of sugar-drenched bags of popcorn on a regular basis while denying myself vegetables, or chomping on large sums of gum in a single day.
It's been a long, drawn on, difficult past couple of months, but I've finally realized what's important. I finally realized that weight really is just a number. The scale really is an evil thing. If the pants fit, who cares if you're an ounce or two different than the day before, it doesn't matter, it's just a number. If you feel fantastic, you love the way you feel, and your still enjoying delicious food without denying or restricting your diet then kudos. If you can run, bike, hike, work out with out feeling like death, celebrate.
I am really grateful. I am grateful to those out there who have shared their stories. There are a couple bloggers in particular who have helped me along the way without them even knowing it. They may not know my name, they may not know a thing about me, but knowing that they've had their own struggles with food, their own accomplishments, and seeing how far they've come has truly inspired and helped me; (in no particular order) Angela, Ashley, Katie, and Ashley. Okay, is that weird that I'm using first names as if I'm bff's? I don't know, but after following and turning to these blogs for the past almost two years I feel a connection. It may be a blogosphere connection, but these five ladies have definitely inspired me into seeing food/nutrition/life in a whole new perspective. I know these ladies know how much of a difference they make in people's lives as we comment on their blogs on a daily basis telling them how truly amazing they all are, but seriously, thank you ladies. You have inspired an unhealthy girl physically/mentally to want/desire a healthy/happy/satisfying mind-set/lifestyle. You inspire me daily with your posts even if it's something small, you really do. You have inspired me to try wacky recipe ingredients, green monsters, spinach ice cream, avocado/spinach pudding, to more normal recipes like Larabar knock-offs, oatmeal scrambles, overnight oats, and peanut butter crusted sweet potatoes. Thank you so much for inspiring me, and all of us "nobodies" who come visit your blogs/look forward to your daily updates/emails for inspiration and motivation. You have made me realize that we all have bad days, but to not let the "bad days" get the best of us. Just because you have one bad day, or one lapse in binge-moments you don't have to let it take over you. It's just one thing ruff in the road, it's a mistake it's not something that is going to make you look fat, make you feel ugly, take away all your hard work, it's something that makes you work harder.
Once again thank you. You have made me realize that vegan cooking can not only be devilishly good, healthy and gorgeous to look at. I had given up beef/pork nine years ago, but with your wide array of delicious vegan/vegetarian recipes I was motivated and further fulfilled a goal of going vegan. It has been so insanely easy and I seriously have not looked back, nor have I regretted a moment of it. So thank you again ladies.
With all of that being said, I figured I should post a recipe... after all this is a cooking blog read-only is not always the most fun. So here it is.
Peanut Butter and Jam Overnight Oats
Recipe by me, inspired by the above ladies' blogs
A couple of months ago I went to truffle heaven when I made the Peanut Butter and Jam Truffles I really did fall in love. I've made many truffles since that have been incredibly delicious, that I've popped like candy but still I think about the Peanut Butter and Jam Truffles. Since then I've still been thinking of those flavours and so I figured I would make something similar for my breakfast, and I decided on overnight oats.
For the oat layer:
- 1/4 cup wheat bran
- 1/4 cup oats
- 1 cup soy milk
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- Dash of sea salt
- 1/2 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
I then added truffles that I had made last night which were:
Spiced Mixed Fruit Truffles
- 1/3 cup cashews
- 2 dates
- 6 tbsp dried plums
- 3 tbsp dried apricots
- 3 tbsp dried cherries
- 1/3 cup wheat bran
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2-1 tbsp real maple syrup
- 1/8 tsp cardamom
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
The next layer was a simple banana soft serve.
Topped with blueberry peanut butter.
Then topped with an additional of the above truffles.