Why I Stopped Being Vegan (and what's happened since eating meat)

Oh hey, it’s the blogging world! And yes, it’s a brand new website.

Vulnerability online is something I’ve been thinking through and trying to use more intentionally, more thoughtfully.

The changes that are happening in my life are intimate and I realize not everyone cares. Still, I have decided to write about one of the transitions as I believe it holds a few keys for all people. I am being real, knowing that’s the place that connects with real people, with real struggles.

I have maintained the facade of pursuing health for the past two years, but fallen deeper into dis-ease in every way and am being deeply sanctified in this area.

I pray that this writing encourages, inspires and engages you.

Here goes something….

There had once been a time where camp was fun, energizing and life-giving. Yet here I was. Fried. Anxious. Withdrawn. I had been aware of my allergies and sensitivities for a few years. I was settled into a very specific way of eating. I’d been dairy free for seven years, egg intolerant for a few (still ate them in baking) gluten sensitive for about four… “clean” and mostly organic for three.

And here we were. It was summer and I was at camp… following an excruciating three years of constant internal chaos. I’d been in a state of inflammation, exhaustion and depletion.

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Before camp, I spent one week preparing food. I brought all of my own…. from organic chicken wings, turkey meatballs, beef burgers, bean cookies, nut free granola, spirulina… I had an entire stock in the camp kitchen. It was all homemade… bread I made with three ingredients, cookies I made with no additives or sugar, blah blah blah.

Day after day, meal after meal, the stress of thinking through what was for lunch and trying to get in the kitchen in time to defrost something that was similar to what everyone else was eating so I felt like “I fit in,” all while not being in the way during the craziness of the dining hall rush…. wow, it was a nightmare. Also, how could you possibly fit in when eating beet sauerkraut with your waffles…

What was worse? The beginning of binge-eating. I remember my one day off after the first session of camp… I spent three hours in the dining hall, pretending to journal, but really sneaking into the kitchen to my stash of food and stuffing my face. Five apples, a bag of roasted chickpeas and container of sunflower seed butter later, I kept going and going. Exhausted. But determined to punish myself instead of sleep. Another night, I ate a handful of cookies that had both gluten and dairy in them - it was the first time eating those things in years. I wrote a note to the director and confessed where I was at. I requested permission to go off-site and visit my brother.

It happened. Cute boys walked in as I was curled up on a falling-apart-couch from who-knows-where, with my brother, sobbing. Hands on my head, he declared that I was free in Christ. He broke off all commitments to intense purity as an idol (some would have called it orthorexia) and spoke nothing but freedom over me. We drove to the local health-food store and he bought me some vegan and gluten free bagels, cereals, and Coconut Bliss. They had additives. They had sugar. They had yeast. They challenged my ideals. And it was phenomenal. I was relieved to be at camp and eat what I was served instead of spending my hours off making tigernut bagels and plantain buns.

Shortly after, I had a conversation over dinner with another staff member, and a few vegetarian 12 year-olds who happened to be sitting at our table.

“God showed me that I didn’t need to ignore my convictions anymore, and He was leading me to give it up,” she explained after I asked her why she was veg.

I realized that I had a longing to ditch meat but never made the choice because of my fears. I thought the people who loved me would reject me. I thought it '“wasn’t Christian” because we are supposed to be free, and others would perceive veganism as living in bondage. (This was a perception I had of how Christians I was around perceived veganism and any sort of diet that wasn’t chock-full of post-church cookies and crappy potluck cakes and ribs.)

So, on my way to the kitchen to get my grain free pea pasta that the kitchen staff cooked for me, I passed by the processed tofu dish, full of soy, msg and who the heck knows what else, and decided that I’d rather eat that fake vegan stuff than bad quality meat. I chose to commit to eating whatever the heck they served that was gluten free and vegan for the rest of the summer.

So I walked through the kitchen’s ‘IN’ door and they said “Jos, your pasta is ready over here.” I excitedly looked at them, with a huge smile, and said… “thank you so much, but you know what? I am going to eat whatever you have on the speciality table for the rest of the summer.” They all smiled. I know they were aware of my un-health, and praying, and I know that moment was a big answer to prayer for them.

I still snuck in to get sauerkraut and Coconut Bliss occasionally. I added hemp seeds to pancakes void of nutrients and added roasted chickpeas to protein-deficient GF/V pizzas, but for the most part, I engaged with camp food.

So, apart from honey, and the occasional baking with eggs in it, I was vegan for two years. It was fun.

It was even good. I found food freedom from these strict ideals like sugar-free, additive-free, corn-free, soy-free… I ate whatever the heck I wanted that was gluten free and vegan, and loved it. (See photos above.) I re-gained my period that was lost for the six years prior, my hair thickened, and body became more womanly. (See photos below of before and afters.) Constipation was eliminated and I enjoyed eating again.

Buuuuuut I also became far less healthy. Addicted to sugar (both whole food sugars and some crappy ones, plus grains and starchy things in general,) and increased engagement with binge eating disorder. I was usually bloated, uncomfortable, did not fit any of my clothing (which the first year was a good thing, but having to get a new wardrobe three times in three years was a bit much) … re-gained my childhood bad breath trait, amplified existing thyroid issues, adrenal fatigue and iron deficiencies. Yes, I gained healthy weight, but also an extra 30 pounds I had never known. I suffered through depression and still had a low-grade constant anxiety when it came to food in social situations.

(I do have a few pictures of the negative impacts on my body but have chosen not to share.)

Eating disorders are very emotional, multi-faceted, rooted in social factors, spiritual influences and family things. Still each one has legitimate biological roots. For example, people with anorexia often initially have specific mineral and vitamin deficiencies that impact their brain chemicals. In this binge-eating case, one girl (it’s me) was simply denying her body of what it needed. (Though all the spiritual factors and emotional factors are very important and were key in my story as well, and I’m not suggested eating meat as an answer for everyone’s eating disorders.)

The blood typing theory would back my veganism. And while there’s some truth in it, it’s not the whole picture. Not every type A blood is under as much constant stress as I. Not every type A blood has the same personality, intensity, drive and number of commitments. Not every type A blood has endured the same pain, degree of loss and trauma, and all the other factors that are you-nique to yours truly.

According to the BioScan technology, my body has just been patiently waiting for me to eat some turkey and salmon here and there, to daily sip on bone broth, and to stop feeding it coconut, oats, and excessive amounts of treats.

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So literally, with the flick of a switch, I changed my lifestyle. (Ok, ok…. it took some time… I had a small and dedicated army of friends praying for me for a week… praying for freedom from this bingeing craziness and for a craving for meat…. within days I willingly drank turkey bone broth and cooked myself local ground beef.)

I should say that it isn’t truly a lifestyle shift… it’s more of a dietary shift. My lifestyle was and will continue to be centred around Functioning by Design, supporting my body through movement, nourishment and rest so it can live into the God-given potential…. so nothing has changed there… It just looks, tastes, smells, and chews a little different now.

First time eating meat in two years, even started with beef!

First time eating meat in two years, even started with beef!

After ONLY one week of meat eating, here’s what’s happened...

  1. My nervous system has gone to Heaven.
    The first night of meat, I cannot explain what was happening in my body. It was almost sedated. The calmness was tangible in my entire being.

  2. My energy has stabilized (for the most part.)
    I still have had some late nights, and nothing nothing nothing beats or replaces sleep, but overall life has felt restful. In the midst of some big life changes and transitions, I’ve had a relatively fluid and seamless experience of life. Even when I’m tired, my brain feels rested.

  3. I have felt satisfied, my mind less on food cause I go hours without even thinking about it.

    I want to be very clear that I do believe some people can be fully healthy on a 100% plant-powered diet. They are able to maintain their social, financial, emotional and nervous system health. They are able to eat and be full, suffer not from eating disorders, and really thrive. I would like to think that was me for a bit, and there were days of that for sure… and there still can be. Eating meat now does not mean I am going to be a meatitarian, although, I have unashamedly been craving beef jerky and straight meat so much that I am believing more and more in the benefits of that way of eating. Who woulda guessed? But, all in all, eating meat at least a few times per week has kept me satisfied and fuelled from the inside out.

  4. My first thought isn’t sugar.
    I’d been waking up for the past year thinking about a massive fruit smoothie, oatmeal, bread… you name it. This week I’ve had the space when I wake up to read, pray, walk, sit, before even thinking about breakfast. I even started my day with fruit most days and worked out or did something and then had breakfast after. I’ve been reading the Bible, journalling, and resting.

  5. My workouts have been great.
    I have had desire to be at the gym, energy to push, and mental strength to try new things. My muscles feel stronger, and my perception of them is that they’re more toned and visible with deflating sugar puff.

  6. My water intake has increased.
    In between meals and snacks, I’m not in need of sweet things as much — not dependent. I have been able to drink a lot more water. And pee a gazillion time per day again.

  7. My canker sores have been healing.
    My oral health has taken a turn for the worse the past couple years. Teeth yellower, cavities and canker sores. I’m not blaming it only on diet, I haven’t done a great job at caring for my mouth. Though it’s related to the copious amounts of sugars I was consuming for sure, and indicative of the dysbiosis it was all contributing to in my gut.

  8. My water weight has decreased.
    My face is feeling more and more like me, the glow, rest, but also less puffy. A bloated face AND tummy can be a confidence sucking combo. I’ve felt more myself, but also perceived to look more myself which has fed the former. I actually saw my muscles, didn’t look pregnant in my shirts, and wore some clothes that were in the “maybe someday” rubbermaid.

  9. I’ve become even more knit to my community
    How people walk with you through things they don’t understand is funny. Especially this one. Some people have squeeze hugged me, congratulated me, some people have asked me to repeat myself after nonchalantly mentioning my consumption of beef because of their disbelief — convinced they misheard… some have now expected me to eat processed hot dogs with them, join the McDonald’s car load, or order wings instead of hummus on the weekly pub night. Others have been so gentle and intentional with their words, asking me how my experience of eating meat has been, how my body is feeling. Others eager to cook me a steak, or have me over for smoked salmon and sushi. I’ve reminded people that this decision has been for my health, and I am therefore not interested in fake “meat,” or eating garbage. But that I’d happily join them for dinner at their house.

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I believe most people’s diets should be based on plants, consuming tons of veggies, and some fruits. I believe our culture idolizes meat.

But I also believe the nutrition and holistic health sub-culture I’m part of idolizes idealistic vitamin and mineral balance (which is real and important, but we under-estimate the value of something like well-raised red meat to give us those things.) We like to overcomplicate and live into these constructs instead of use the information to enhance our lives.

Listen, I said it before, and I’ll say it again; I love vegans. I love their passion, commitment and desire to live authentically and intentionally. I love their care-free spirits that flow from their place of, funnily enough, deep care. I also love vegan food. My new book is mostly vegan, and it was sent out to people the same week I ate meat for the first time in what feels like forever. I love the benefits of higher fibre, variety, the lessening of environmental impact in some arguable senses, and other obvious ones.

I do not regret my time identifying with veganism. And I am certainly not interested in prescribing or any variation of putting my story onto other people. But… I do not regret eating meat.

My takeaway for you? Embrace the journey! It’s dynamic, exciting and always changing… and your body is talking to you!

Doing what you have to do to fuel your body, to nourish your unique holistic make-up is worth it. We must each find a way of eating that suits our needs in every facet of our being. I still have convictions, and I have ben buying locally sourced meat from people whose farms I can visit or stories I can hear. I did still say no to a pint of wings at 11 p.m. of meat from who knows where, opted for hummus instead. I have been intentional with food and always will be. But there’s freedom. Freedom to follow the dynamic journey your body is reflecting.

Listen to your body. Go with your gut. And don’t do it alone. You can’t. I am confident that the ease, grace, and even delight in this process is because of my request to the Lord. When I couldn’t pray for me, and didn’t know what to do, I rallied my friends to come around me and pray for me. People texted, called, hugged, checked-in, and still are in this transition. It’s amazing.

Finally, here’s a prayer for those of you wanting to give your food journey to the Lord but not knowing where to start right now:

Almighty God, You are the giver of Life, Health and Vitality. You created food and provide for me.

From You no secrets are hidden… You know my hidden motives… You know why I eat what I do, why I eat when I do, and what my true desires are. You see the conflict and tension I’m living in and know what’s best for me.

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me. And grant that I might receive more of Your strength in me, giving me the courage to do Your will as I eat. May You be glorified through my relationship with food, as you continually guide me by Your Spirit into a way of eating that works for my body. Give me strategy and direction in how to best support the body You’ve given me.

I pray that you would provide everything I need to get the help I need on this next leg of the journey. Protect my mind from any flaming arrows the enemy is scheming to use - they have no power or place here in Jesus name.

Thank you for those around me. Who should I talk to about this? Who should I be vulnerable with? Give me the courage to confess and let them in.

Thank you for your Sovereignty, and I choose to let you Father me through this. I’m sorry for not letting you parent me in this area, and I repent of that. You know what’s best. Every detail of my Life is seen by You.

In the powerful name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Saviour, through Him and by Him all this is made possible, and for whose glory I am being lead into greater measures of health, Amen.

Iron Bombs

Tigernuts are heroic. I first got into them when healing my gut and adrenals, limiting my nuts through a rotation technique and minimizing grains and sugar.

They helped my digestion, gave me grain-free options for a filling snack or meal, and made my experience in the kitchen a lot more adventurous and creative.

Along came, what I then called “the tigernut carob freezer cookie.”

Little did I know they’d develop into a staple power ball  three years later when diagnosed with anemia.

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Tigernuts are high in iron… also high in fibre, calcium, potassium, and vitamins E and C, are nut-free, gluten-free, paleo friendly, and a resistant starch (shameless plug)…. but yeah… back to iron…. HIGH IN IRON.

They contain somewhere between 20-40% of your daily iron content in one small serving, depending on the form.

Paired with some other high iron foods, these tigernut balls can provide all your iron you need for the day…. and more (for anemics like me.)

So first, coconut oil. It has no iron in it. But is a great addition to the ball for a great texture, and to help your body digest the iron that’s being pumped in through the rest of the ingredients.


Next comes sunflower seed butter. These seeds are naturally higher in iron than some other nut butters, containing 10% of your daily iron in 1 tbsp.

Then carob powder. This common substitute for cocoa/chocolate is quite sweet, and also quite high in iron, also coming in at 20% per serving.

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Blackstrap molasses is a wonder working iron friend. One serving contains 20% of your daily recommended dose too! Think of all of these ingredients together!

So to make these balls… we first melt the coconut oil,  add sunflower seed butter, carob and molasses. I also add a drop of vanilla and maca powder sometimes. Both are optional. Vanilla is very recommended. Then we stir until the mixture becomes one form.

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Next comes the tigernut flour…. and there you have it!

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of organic unrefined coconut oil

  • 3/4 cup of sunflower seed butter

  • 1/2 cup carob powder

  • 1/4 cup blackstrap molasses (unsulphured)

  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract

  • Sprinkle of Himalayan salt

  • 2 cups of tigernut flour

Directions:

  1. Melt the coconut oil and sunflower seed butter together on low heat in a pan.

  2. Add carob powder, molasses, vanilla and salt, and mix together until it the consistency is shared between them.

  3. Stir the tigernut flour into the mixture, and add a bit of filtered water if needed to make the dough easier to work with.

  4. Roll the mixture into balls, and freeze or refrigerate. They are good to be eaten directly out of the freezer or fridge.


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3 questions about you & food

Someone recently asked me if caring about nutrition means we’re bowing to the flesh. It’s a profound question. As someone committed to finding life by losing it unto knowing Christ (help me Lord) and also committed to a lifestyle of holistic nutrition, I’ve thought about and wrestled through this often.

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Can food become an idol? Absolutely. Is food an idol for most people (myself included) in our part of the world? Yes.Focusing on what food you eat could be yielding to the flesh in a lot of senses. But I’m convinced that it’s not as much a matter of what kind of food you consume as it is about your heart - why are you eating thatwhy now, and how do you feel about it? What are you “hangry” for in the day to day? Do you have an insatiable appetite to do the will of God? Are you craving the word, upset when time moves and you must move your eyes off the pages of the Bible? Are you hungry for understanding and truth? Are you hungry for a "ripped" body? Are you hungry for energy?Deep deep down, whether we can articulate it or not, we all want more of Him and less of us.  We all want to know His heart, and see Him more rightly. But sometimes our cravings distort our capacity to know what we really want. And, the reality is, we all have to eat!Imagine you were on a lunch break from work and drove by someone feeling the prompting feeling to stop and talk to them. Now imagine you kept driving simply because your craving for food had your heart. If your obedience is limited by your appetite, than regardless of the dietary lifestyle you adhere to, cravings for food as a master means you would absolutely be bowing to the flesh. In those concerned with human nutrition, those with an intellectual understanding and/or emotional experience of the power of pure food the way God intended it, this temptation can be stronger. When knowledge and understanding take up brain space, it’s sometimes hard to do what feels foolish from a nutritional standpoint for the Kingdom. This sets us free: destroying arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.1 John says “the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions.” (NLT)Another translation puts it this way: “everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world.” (NIV)When God, the Father who knows you better than anyone, is inviting you into greater measures of health by bringing an awareness to matters like nutrition, ignorance is not the most favourable response.The zeal for righteousness that comes in the renewing of our spirits within us is disgusted with impurity. And while it often seems to me that there’s a belief in some Christian contexts that eating healthy is un-spiritual, I contest. We were created to experience Shalom. (Inward sense of completeness or wholeness, full of well-being). We were created to be set apart. (1 Peter 1:29, 2 Corinthians 6:17, 1 John 4:4-5

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What if a venture of understanding and bring concerned about nutrition, your body & food is part of living a set apart life? What if food affects the body, mind and spirit?Of course, Shalom, health, wholeness, even obedience is more than just healthful, whole foods. But, it is a piece to the puzzle, and one that I am shocked to find more and more that is so often neglected by Christians for fear of bowing to the flesh. If that’s you, I would ask the question: if you are resisting a shift in the way you eat, one toward more vegetables, less food-like products that are full of unpronounceable “ingredients,” or whatever, where are you bowing to your flesh in the context of food?No matter what you eat, be in the habit of checking your heart. Are you willing to be obedient in every moment? Even when it comes to food? Are you holding it loosely, always ready to say YES or to say NO? 1 John talks about about lust,  particularly our EYES, our FLESH & the PRIDE of life. These are a good framework for daily self-examen with your relationship to food.

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1. EYES - What are you feeding your eyes? Do you spend time between meals on Pinterest scrolling out of lust? Instagram? Do you feed on magazines, pictures, recipe books, etc. How do you feel when you're looking at these things? What do you notice about your thoughts? About your feelings? What is the fruit of looking at photos of food? Is it worship, thankfulness and a drawing nearer to God? Or is it thoughts of worthlessness, anxiety and patterns of isolation?

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2. FLESH - How committed are you to fulfilling cravings? Are you OK to settle for the banana and oatmeal that's in your pantry and eat with a thankful heart when you have a strong craving and emotional desire for that special granola that would require a trip to the grocery store? Would you be thankful for the fruit you have and eat it with joy, or drive somewhere and spend money you don’t have just to satisfy a craving? Are you willing to delay gratification? Are you willing to fast food - even for an hour, to be obedient to God if something comes up?

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3. PRIDE - Why do you care about nutrition? Is it so that you can honour your body as a temple of the Holy Spirit? Is it so you can have more energy to serve fully into your calling? Or is it simply to feel good about yourself, control something meticulously because of lost control elsewhere? Is it to look better? Fit in? What is the fruit of your concern for nutrition? Is it deepening of faith, hope an love? Is it increased capacity and empathy? Is it energy and willingness to help others? Or are you chasing after unrealistic ideals day after day, burning yourself out?

“We can change nothing until we fully comprehend what needs to be changed. Just as every action first begins with a thought, we, as the children of the Creator of this beautiful universe, first have to understand the broken food system we face (Col. 1:15-20). We have to take these thoughts captive unto Christ Jesus, asking him to guide our minds and show us the way forward (2 Cor. 10:5). And as we renew the way we think about what we eat and how we eat it, we take the first step to renewing our health and the health of God’s wonderful planet (Rom. 12:2). Only after we admit it can we quit it and beat it. The choice is ours.”  (Dr. Caroline Leaf, Eat & Think Yourself Smart)

Sweet Potato Breakfast Cookies

Do you like chocolate? How about cookies? Looking for a grab-and-go filling breakfast you can pre-make and take? An afternoon snack that will keep you full til supper and give you lasting energy? This one's for you! I'm used to creating things in the kitchen that most people fake smile their way through. As a creative, I've historically despised following recipes. It's about a 1/10 success ratio if you're measuring by other people's reactions.In my kitchen, it's pour this, and a little bit of that, and a pinch of that until it feels right. Needless to say, it's worth celebrating when something works out  to the point of being share-able. Making breakfast cookies has, in the past, been fun, a quest to create something ideal, something Pinterest-picture-perfect... only to create not so wonderfully textured baked goods that aren't filling unless you have five. So I share, after somewhat of a success.Alas, the filling, decadent & delightfully textured sweet potato protein-packed breakfast cookie.

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Sweet Potato Breakfast Cookies

Ingredients 

1 baked sweet potato (when organic, I leave skin on)
1/2 cup of black beans
2 tbsp of chia seeds
1/4 cup of cocoa powder
1/2 cup of maple syrup
1 whopping tbsp of dairy-free butter
1 scoop of plant-based protein powder
1 tsp of maca powder
1 pinch of aluminum free baking soda
1 pinch of himalayan salt 

Makes 6 individual cookies.

HOLD UP WHAT IN THE WORLD IS MACA POWDER?

The maca root, aka peruvian ginseng, is an edible plant of the brassicaceae family. But trust me, it pairs with chocolate much better than broccoli or cabbage. It's an earthy flavour - kind of nutty.The root is native to South America, originating from mountains in Peru, but has become a North American superfood known for its adaptogenic properties.Adaptogens are healing plants that balance hormones. They are amazing incorporations into people's diets unto reducing the impact of stress on our cells.The benefits of these plants, like maca, holy basil, licorices or certain mushrooms are lower cortisol levels, enhanced sex drive and fertility, and energy.I love maca and consume it almost every day in some way. You don't need it in this recipe, but it's a high recommend.

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Directions

1. Blend all of the ingredients in a high speed blender or food processor until it's a batter with consistent texture.

2. Grease a baking stone, pan or use parchment paper on a cookie sheet.

3. Portion out the dough into cookie shaped blobs. Pat them down. They will not expand much, keep that in mind.

4. Bake at 350 degrees for 20ish minutes. You may need to bake them a bit longer, but after 20, check on them regularly until they look ready.

5. Let sit to cool and harden for at least 15 minutes before eating.

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I've been eaten two for breakfast each morning paired with matcha almond mylk. Each morning, chewing slowly, so thankful for the ability to access ingredients to make these. Mindful of the reality of food insecurity. And blessed to experience God's Love in the shape of a chocolate cookie.

"But who am I, and who are my people, that we should be able to offer as generously as this? For all things come from You, and from Your own hand we have given to You." 1 Chronicles 29:14

Smoky Summer Stir-fry

vegan - grain free - whole food - soy free - corn free

Camping is great. But chances are you don't need to go far to have an outdoor dinner that seeps the smoky aroma into your clothes.DSC01108If you just can't get away as soon as you'd like, a stay-cation campfire cookout may be for you!!That's what we did!This was a spontaneous leftover dish that is good enough to be repeated. Best over a campfire.  A stovetop will do too. But let's assume the best (in my personal opinion.)Here's what you'll need:

IngredientsDSC01087For the Stir-fry
  • 4 organic sweet potatoes
  • 1/2 head of red cabbage
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 1 can black beans

For the Sauce

  • 1/2 head of cauliflower
  • 1 cup of raw cashews
  • 3 tbsp coconut aminos
  • 1/4 cup coconut cream
  • 4 green onions
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • Himalayan salt
  • Splash of apple cider vinegar

To make dinner come to life

  • A pan (I use cast iron)
  • Coconut or avocado oil for frying
  • Dishes and cutlery
  • Stuff to ignite the fire!

DSC01101I had leftover roasted sweet potato chunks. But you could alternatively roast them or steam them ahead of time.

Directions Simply put: add everything to a pan and go nuts!But for those who need more direction:
  • Steam florets of organic broccoli (you can keep the stem and use for soups!)
  • Add sweet potato and black beans to pan with coconut oil until hot
  • Add in freshly steamed broccoli
  • Add in cabbage
  • Stir until hot and ready!

But not as lovely as the sauce that goes with this dish (and pretty much anything -- or just on its own!)

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  • Steam the cauliflower
  • Add the hot cauliflower and the steamy water into a Vitamix (or another high powered blender or food processor)
  • Add in cashews, nutritional yeast and coconut cream. Blend until smooth.
  • Add in onions, salt, aminos and apple cider vinegar.
  • Blend until smooth, again, and take a little swig to make sure all is well.
  • If you want it smoother, add more coconut cream a splash or 3 of water. Thicker and chunkier? Should be good to leave as is. You can even add extra nutritional yeast. Especially if you're exclusively plant-powered like me.

You can serve this on spinach, or not, either way, it's yummy.DSC01100 .

Eat with good company, and enjoy the smokiness and flavour!

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Perfect Pie Crusts (Raw)

vegan - raw - grain free - ketogenic option

"I meant to text you! We were at our family's this weekend in Calgary and Becca's sister made this amazing vegan cheeze-cake. I thought of you."

cashewsI was stunned that the friend I bumped into at Bulk Barn had just said those words. Seconds earlier, I'd walked past the cashew bulk bin and thought "I should make cashew cheeze-cake."The next day, I laid on the chilled leather couch, of a warm-loving family."I've really been craving CASHEW CHEEZE-CAKE lately."What is IN the Albertan air????DSC01481I've played with raw-vegan-pie crusts, and came up with mouth-watering dishes. But I wanted to hold the oats this time. So voila!

Original Jo 2.0 CrustIngredients(quantities depend on size of pie, but 3/4 cup of walnuts for every 1 cup of dates)
  • Organic pitted dates (any kind of soft date, I used medjool)
  • Raw walnuts
  • Pinch of saltProcess all ingredients in a food processor, and remove a large mound. Mold into the size(s) you'd like, making distinct edges so the filling sits surrounded by towering walls of date-liciousness.

All you do is put all of these in a food processor. And turn it on. It's really fun to watch. Oh, and I should mention that told mold it (to whatever size you want) you use your hands. If that's an issue, I guess you could find an alternative with a greased spoon. But, I highly recommend the hands. It's just so fun.

This crust IS also delicious with oats, but it doesn't need 'em.To fill this pie, there are options.DSC01467I've done raw carrot, raw apple, raw pumpkin and raw chocolate before.But I'd yet to do cashew cheeze-cake.The proportions below are for medium sized pies. To make a full size you can double the recipe, and to make a JUMBO, you can triple it.

Wild Blueberry Cashew Cheeze-Cake FillingMake the white colour first. Use a high power blender (I used a Vitamix) to mix it all together. Once blended in Vitamix (food processor could work too, but I find it's better for the crust only) remove half of the portion and put into a small bowl.DSC01477
  • 2 cups raw cashews (soaked overnight in filtered water + rinsed)
  • 1/8 cup coconut syrup
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of lemon juice

For the purple colour, use the remaining half in the blender and add 1/4 cup of wild blueberries, and a drizzle more coconut syrup.When you have both colours, you can swirl them into the crust. Top with tild blueberries.Fill the crust and chill in the fridge for a while. You choose how long.

Black Forest Cheeze-Cake FillingDSC01478For the pinkish colour:

  • 2 cups raw cashews (soaked overnight)
  • 1/8 cup of coconut syrup (or maple syrup)
  • 1 tsp of maca powder
  • 1/8 cup of dark organic cherries (I used frozen)
  • pinch of salt

Remove half of the cashew delight, and place in small bowl. With the remainder of the blended concoction, add in 2 tsp of raw cacao powder, and a drizzle more syrup (of choice.)Use both colours to swirl together in the mix of the crust. Serve with cherries on top. For reals.

These cakes are DELICIOUS!

And harm-less to most.They are free of grains, animal products, and processed foods.They are safe for people who care about eating:blogchecklist.jpgA great option to choose for a sweet treat. 

Still... maybe TOO sweet for some.

Dates are highly nutritious. A loaded source of fibre, and crucial minerals like magnesium, potassium. But they are also very sweet. In 100 grams of dates, there is over 60 grams of sugar. For some, this is too much to handle. Have no fear, there's a pie for YOU!

Keto-Crunch Crust
  • 2 cups raw shelled walnuts
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened, unsulphurized)
  • 1 cup coconut oil (unrefined, organic)
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • Dump of hemp seeds

Place all the following in a food processor and watch it work for you!

To fill this pie, try this KEY LIME CREATION!DSC01472

Keto Key Lime FillingBlend the following in a (vitamix) blender.

Decorate the pie with sliced lime and hemp seeds. Edible flowers would be nice too, but didn't have any.

I watched some fellow plant-based beauties try the vegan-keto pie, and here's what they had to say:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OWVBXTWLZZE&feature=youtu.behttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBzL6SmI8AM&feature=youtu.be

New Mindset Breakfast Smoothie

vegan - gluten free - whole foods

During the 6th hour of the new day, I gazed upwards. Glorious sun-rays beamed over the top of a set of hills. Four silhouettes moved further away from me and into the blinding image. I paused from the track of their footsteps and glanced behind me. The picture-esque scene overlooked an anointed city. A  beautiful river that weaved through a tribe of mini-mountains.sunriseI noticed a bench. “I will come back here another time.” But this wasn't the time. I couldn’t decide whether the next hill being turned into a set of 30 stairs made the climb better -- or worse. The lactic acid build-up blocked my capacity to decide.I joined a performance training group a few weeks ago to build my body's capacity to complete a triathlon, to have fun, and to challenge my emotional ideals. This was only my second run with them.  It hurt my spine, and healed me soul. That glorious hour-long (at points crawl) run in the Coulees poured energy into my veins.The increased ATP action from training my body again cannot compare to anything else. I forgot that having energy for your whole entire work day is possible.And my post-training breakfast helps too.

Wash and chop fresh organic cucumber, and freeze to have on hand for as week's worth of breakfast smoothies.fullsizeoutput_2cc

Joining this training group has been so good. My relationship with exercise has never felt so pure. So life-giving. So joyful. So fun!I decided I'd turn around halfway into their run. Before the run even started.I told one of the guys "I think I'll do a couple k.m's and go back on my own."He ever so kindly turned around a couple k.m's in, meeting me at the back of the pack to say  "Hey, this would be a good time to go back, because we're going down here next."He was pointing at a set of Coulees. Yikes.But a Voice spoke to me:  Keep going.I remembered last week's muscular death, and the effects of  the 9 k.m. coulee run leaving me unable to walk "normally" for 3 days. I remembered that everyone else in the group has been training much longer than me. I remembered that they have all ran marathons and are not coming from the same place as me this morning. I remembered that LIFE follows DEATH. And then the "lightbulb" illuminated my entire demeanour.

Perseverance over perfection.

 

In the blender:-  4-5 chunks of frozen cucumber  -  1 ripe banana  -  2-4 ice cubes .  --  2 handfuls organic spinach  -   almond butter (depends on how much you want)-  plant-based vanilla protein powder   -   distilled waterfullsizeoutput_2d3

To choose to complete the course, and not care if I didn't "appear" perfect, or trick myself into "perfection," was liberating. It meant I could finish last (by a lot) and still overflow with Joy. It meant I could walk when I needed to and run when I wanted to. It meant I could receive the companionship of someone who was capable of completing it without stopping when he willfully walked with me. 

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Running has been the most challenging for me.Swimming is my favourite. I choose to swim every morning, even on morning there isn't' swim training. I choose to jump in the pool even after the run, just to start my day.There are treasures hidden in the depths of water.But whatever movement my body performs each morning, it feels so beautifully incomplete. As a post-elite athlete, it's historically been easier for me to do NOTHING than SOMETHING because things aren't what they used to be.Now, these 1 hour times each morning happily break me.I am not who I was anymore.Regardless of what I do in the morning, I finish my precisely imperfect movement session and bask in the glory of driving home after sunrise.Throwing together a quick, nourishing and loaded breakfast that takes 5 minutes is a joy that follows.

fullsizeoutput_2d5"Increasing the percentage of plant-based products we consume daily could impact the world's food supply. This single strategy has profound implications for food availability and protecting the environment. By reducing land, water, and energy use, and protecting the web of life, organic, sustainable agriculture benefits the entire human race. Organic. Non-GMO. Vegetarian. Sustainable."

 

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"500 million straws are used and discarded every day in the United States alone. That’s 175 Billion a year filtering into landfills (environment) and littering our waterways and oceans."  - The Last Strawfullsizeoutput_2d8

The freedom to walk has changed everything for me.And if I keep showing up, keep giving my best to the run, and walking when I need to, I will be able to run and not faint -- one day.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Galatians 6:9

There is freedom to rest, and freedom to run. Freedom to swim, and freedom to sleep. Freedom to fight hard and freedom to finish well.

Where are you not persevering today? Are you, perhaps, focusing on perfection?