Still Vegan: An Update

So I am a little over a month as 100% vegan. I am still here. I am still kicking. I went and took dairy out of my diet for more than a year learning how to substitute products and finding some amazing finds. So when I decided to go 100% vegan it wasn’t a full shocked. I told my husband as soon as I could find some alternatives that didn’t allow me to be hungry and I felt like I could dedicate myself to it I would and I did. I went cold turkey.  So how as the adjustment been? Let me tell you:

Push Back

In my immediate family I get zero push back. For 2 years I have always altered my food so it wasn’t anything noticeable until I took the meat out. My son was happy that meant he felt the need to eat my portion until I stopped that. They have been supportive. They love to tell their friends that I don’t eat meat like I am some type of alien. I had a playdate for my youngest and the child was vegan. They was able to see someone their age doing it and not feeling as if she has lost anything. She talked to them about cakes and cookies and how her dad alters it so she can still enjoy those things. I showed them vegan approved candy and how at the end of the day being vegan isn’t a life sentence. From outsiders I always get the stare like why?  My why is simple people don’t realize that I have had my gall bladder removed and was supposed to watch what I eat. I didn’t.  This was over 10 years ago and not once did I change my diet. I ate fatty foods and didn’t care. When I first lost weight all I did was watch the portions which helped I am sure but my liver wasn’t able to process the fat  in most of the foods I still ate. I was in constant pain but I looked great. I wanted my insides to match my outsides so after talking to my doctor I went vegan.  Since then my body functions like it has never done in all aspects. My belly feels amazing.

I still cook regular food for my family. I try to make it healthier but they are not vegan and have no desire to do so. My family still like what they like. I don’t try to stop them. I may portion control them but not eliminate too many options. I do slip in vegan snacks for my kids outside of the normal french fry. They have no clue but they enjoy it.

Choices

Non shameful plug here, but So Delicious is my go to.  I have a dance that I do when I see it in the store. Imagine Beyoncé popping every time I am in the refrigerator or freezer aisle. My kids just say oh lord mommy and her products. I have been happily using them for quite some time.  From their non dairy ice-cream and yogurt to their non dairy milks and non dairy cheese, I do not miss out on having these items and my stomach doesn’t have to do the most to break it down. I love them. I have to do a lot of work to get them. Sometimes I can go to my local Shoprite but often times Whole Foods will have a better selection.  Surprisingly Target can be a great place to go. I am sure Wal-Mart has them I just don’t go there much these days anymore. Also I take weekly trips to Produce Junction where I can get fresh produce.  I do my veggie and fruit hauls and from that as I learn new recipes Produce Junction always has what I need. I also make sure I grab my fresh weekly flower bouquets.

Snacks

I love snacks like the next person. I love humus, pretzels, fruit, non dairy yogurt, acai bowls, and granola and dried fruit. I love that I keep a lot of these options on demand.  This way when its time to snack I can. Portion control is still a major have to. You can still overeat with anything. Being vegans doesn’t take out portion control in the least bit.

Meal Prep

I still meal prep for my family on their items and I do the same for me. I prepare roasted veggies to always have them ready to add to my meal. This week I had some fun learning how to prepare eggplant. Made some amazing eggplant parmesan with non dairy cheese. It was so delicious. I also belong to some amazing vegan groups as they share their recipes I love doing them and having such colorful plates and choices. I never like quinoa but that is something that I love to eat with roasted veggies and some avocado as a great meal on its own.

Beyoncé and Veganism

When Beyoncé put out the call for people for folks to go vegan in hopes for folks to win lifetime concerts folks was lining up. I said to myself if I would go vegan for tickets I could go vegan for myself and be healthier. I am not doing more for someone else that i am not willing to do for my own health and sanity. Beyonce went vegan as many learned and even took sugar and alcohol to prepare for her Beychella event last year. Kudos to her. I am enjoying going vegan but I need a dip of sugar as well as my occasional alcohol.

Vegan and Socializing

I do a lot of restaurant reviews. I have yet to have an issue. Just like when I go out with my family or friends I always check out the menu before I go so I can be prepared. I make sure that I am educated on what they offer and try to know what I want before I go. When I visit my parents I cook my food and take it with me. It hasn’t been an issue. Preparation helps to succumb any potential issues. None of my friends has had an issue with me altering things. I may go out-of-town, I know what I need to do to ensure my dietary needs are met. I am going to a wedding next month, the bride has made sure there are options for me. I am good.

Bacon

Bacon has been the only thing I missed. I made some bacon the other day for the family and the smell alone made me want to backslide but I didn’t.  I am aware that there are some brands that sell non bacon bacon but I have yet to have it.  I may consider giving it a try. However even as strong as bacon is to my heart, I will not consider it.

Vegan and the Holidays

Unless I put in an order from Go Vegan, I plan to go to a restaurant for Easter that I have already scouted out its selections. I can go to other people’s houses and just make my own food to be honest. There are so many recipes for vegan soul food that are delicious. So the holidays do not pose a threat to my eating habits at all.

If there is something you want to do that you feel is going to improve your health and you speak to your doctor to be sure its safe, I say walk in it. Do it! I surround myself with what I need to eat successfully. I make sure that I do what I feel I need to eat what I need. I think my body is finally in a peaceful and healthy eating relationship with food. I am not on a vegan diet. I am living a vegan lifestyle.

Vegan Fests

I look forward to going to at least 3 vegan festivals this Summer. I didn’t even know they existed. I can’t wait to align with more in the community or vegans in Philadelphia and surrounding areas. If you know of any more send them my way!

 

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Closing a chapter….

This has been a great weekend for me. I was really able to get a lot done that was on my plate. In the midst of all of that I got word that my childhood pastor had passed away. I really hadn’t formulated any emotions as of yet. Either it will come or it won’t. What I can say is regardless of how things happened it can’t stop the fact that the chapter has to close.

I’ve fought mentally and emotionally as I crossed into adulthood about what my childhood church family has meant. I remember being super angry at times about it. At the time while I was a kid, in my mind was the best place ever. Always super involved. In the choir, on the usher board, on other ministries. It served the purpose for my life at the time. I would never be able to go on record and say that it wasn’t the best place for what I needed even at points in it I wanted things to be different. It was the challenge for me that pushed me into adulthood.

I wouldn’t have met some of the best people in my life had I not been in the church. I wouldn’t have had some of the greatest memories of some of the best times like going on church trips or retreats. All of my time wasn’t bad. Not all of my memories come from a place of disagreement! I had fun. I was sheltered.

So I’ve closed the door to being a member at the church. That season is done. However now is the time to really close the chapter of all that comes with the passing of my childhood pastor! I’ve gained a lot of knowledge of who I am even as an adult! It shapes who I allow to pastor me now, what I will allow from church members and who I want to be as an example to my kids.

I’ve been extremely vocal in the past however none of that matters. I hope that my childhood pastor’s family is comforted. I pray them peace to all the members who remain and the ones that were there during my time and before who at the height of his tenure have the same type of memories that I have.

Closing chapters may be hard to do. However we all have to be able to do what’s best for us. Seasonal relationships matter and you can take the focus off of negativity to propel you into a great future!

I’m super grateful that I don’t feel with his passing that there were things left unsaid. I’m glad that at his passing I don’t feel a void or bitterness. I am happy for the beautiful times. I have no bitterness in my spirit and I try to live my life like that daily. I can close the chapter in peace and with the same peace release that back into my life.

~Pastor Albert Andrew Belton~

I’ve said this once and I’ll say it a thousand times even in difficult times we have to look at the good and focus on that alone!

On the Move: Crunchik’n Style

Shout out to #travelwithchefcherryl and the brunch buddies as we take you behind the scenes to local eateries. Again as a lifestyle blogger you are going to want to know the places to either get out, have new places to grab food with bae, your girls or even the fam bam. I enjoy getting around Philadelphia and yesterday’s spot was brought to us to by Crunchik’n.

Tuna bowl served with rice, lettuce, salsa, Japchae noodles and a dumpling

Crunchik’n is a Korean flare restaurant. It’s amazing food at great prices that is made fresh to order and it tastes amazing. From their homemade dumplings to their marinated sauces each bite is special. We caught up with Jen who is part owner with her father, John Choi. She stressed that the goal was to make quality food that was made on the premises and that the sauces made was fermented and marinated to give the meat their fresh, unique taste. I think they hit a slam dunk. The selections are so good that even if you didn’t want to sit and eat you could order their half or whole chicken cut up and make dinner at home special too. Oh and if you’re wondering they are on Caviar for delivery as well.

Kimchi cheese fries

Since I’m vegan let me tell you that they had amazing vegetarian dishes that I was able to veganize. I didn’t leave hungry in the least bit. My suggestion is that this is a causal dining experience, good for all types since although they don’t have a specific kids menu, kids of all ages would love the chicken and other offerings. We even had some kids along and I heard a few to all ask for seconds. This is a great spot to gather friends as well or makes a causal date night or date day location.

Beef and vegetarian taco I personally had the vegetarian and it was amazing to keep it vegan I had mine without the sour cream and it was still full of flavor

Crunchik’n has been open for a little over a month. This means you need to get in and show them a little love. For new guests who go you will also receive a gift! Who doesn’t love gifts?

Beef dumplings on the right and the veggie dumplings on the left was made with kale and spinach. The veggie dumplings were super good!

So if you love Korean style food that is fresh, high quality, and served by awesome accommodating staff, make sure you add Crunchik’n to the top of your lists of go tos. You will not be disappointed!!!

Korean fried chicken can come in 8 house-made marinated sauces

They serve tacos, rice bowls, sandwiches, dumplings, Korean fried chicken and even small bites! What’s not to love?!

Spicy pork melt sandwich

The drinks are good too!! They have arrangements from Bubble Teas to fresh Sparkling Ade…

Strawberry lemonade and grapefruit

Mango and Matcha Green Bubble Tea

One last thing:

Crunch Balls which comes with either rice or potato and either beef or vegetarian

The hours are as follows:

Thank you to Termini Brothers Bakery

I’ve been on a tour of sorts of Philadelphia. As much as I absolutely love hoping on the road or taking a flight out of the city, sometimes you can find the best treasures in your own backyard. Termini Brothers Bakery is in its 98th year. Following the family traditions they still bake the old-fashioned way. I have never heard of them before. Before someone comes for me, I have only been in the city for 8 years this month!  So I am constantly learning daily. With that in mind I was happy to tour the facilities.  I also of course indulged and took some treats home for the kids.

To see the longevity that is the Termini Brothers Bakery that is being passed down the family line and even with technology advancing seeing how they keep the tradition of fresh baking going, you don’t see that too often these days.

Thank you to Mr. Termini himself for giving us an amazing tour into the decorating room that is usually off-limits and the picture as well. Every last member of the team was gracious and gave us that family feel.  You all are amazing. I will definitely will be back!

Their main location is at 1523 S. 8th Street but they have 3 other locations in Philadelphia: Packer Park Shopping Center, Reading Terminal, and Main Shops at the Comcast Center.

If you are looking for a mainstay bakery that is fresh and absolutely delicious try out Termini

Hours:

Monday through Thursday 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Friday 8:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Saturday 7:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Sunday 7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

(Holiday Hours Vary)

OPEN
Thanksgiving 7:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Easter Sunday 7:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Memorial Day 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Fourth of July 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Labor Day 8:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

CLOSED
Christmas Day
New Year’s Day

Also follow them on Instagram Facebook Twitter

 

I love being serenaded upon entry!!

Women History Month: Kim Hicks

Failure is going to happen at different parts of your life. Sometimes we prolong the lesson because we remain stuck in a place we had all the signs pointing at us telling us to leave. We have to be able and be willing to get out-of-the-way so we can get to the place we are called to be. Its hard. Sometimes you can move quickly and not have an ounce of emotion attached. Sometimes due to emotions and feelings we have to be forced to move. This is painful but every successful woman knows that after pain can come the best rewards. Kim Hicks is familiar with what it means to hold on too long. She shares her story as well as what she is building for her future.

What is one failure you are comfortable sharing that taught you the most lessons?

I can’t say there was any one failure. What I have learned is that all of my “mistakes” or decisions have shaped every twist and turn that I have made. Although at that moment experiencing each one of those, it seemed, ill-advised decisions, whether it was giving up on myself too quickly or staying somewhere I had outgrown, I know that each of those things gave me wisdom and knowledge that I would use to move where I was predestined and pre-ordained to be. So I would say my greatest failure was not allowing myself to be that person with those faults and flaws making those “mistakes“in that moment. My greatest failure was not loving myself in that moment making those very decisions that had adverse effects on my life at those specific times. As humans we need to love ourselves and so seldom what we give ourselves is anything and everything but that.

From that or any failure, what other lesson not mentioned in the question above have you learned?

I’ve learned that we spend so much time assuming that we are behind, that we all think we should be farther along, or that we should be somewhere, but we don’t acknowledge that we are farther along, we are all somewhere. I have learned that there is love and patience for me and for others if I acknowledge my humanity. If we just acknowledge our own humanity and how precious and unique it is we could have patience for, not only the journey that we take, but the journey that others experience at their own space and place in time

What are is the 3 things you would want to tell other younger women in regard to lessons learned?

Be patient with yourself, pace yourself, and make a plan. I would tell them understand that a plan created and not adhered to, because life happens is not a failure on your behalf, but instead a success. We have been taught to think that life changes with new years resolutions and weight loss challenges, and simple adages, but it’s so much more than that. Life is not experienced on a level of resolutions that we try to stick to, it is experienced by how many times we start-up again and conquer that feat. We’ve been conditioned, not just as women, but as people to think that one year will come and there will be no rain, there will be nothing, but sunshine instead of taught to experience gardening in the inclement weather, instead of being taught to plant seed so when hard times hit that rainy day, month or time we produce for a lifetime. So, I would say welcome the journey, plant seed for the rainy days, and keep good field hands among you, those who aren’t afraid to get dirty in the yard with you.

What are 3 goals for your future?

One of our goals includes the expansion of our company’s non-profit RUN Movement into different states, it is a project that is built on creating tools and institutions that help people in under-served communities build economic, educational, political, financial, entrepreneurial, spiritual, and mental/physical health tools to revitalize their communities and live best lives in the present. Our next goal is to scale our business so that in time we can employ hundreds of others, and lastly help others make their dreams come true by creating youth and young adult entrepreneurship affiliation opportunities.

If you could sit down with any woman past or present who would it be and why?

Maya Angelou. She was a wealth of wisdom. The type of wisdom she had you can’t read in a book or experience in any other way than meeting with her and being in her presence. She experienced life in so many different realms and was in so may different places I could only imagine. Her ability to tell a story with words could only be outdone by hearing those words flow from her lips.

clothing

If you have any projects that are coming up in the future what are they?

We have several clothing and t-shirt lines debuting new designs BRANDED77 our Christian Hip-Hop line, AWOL (All Walks of Life) our inclusive brand, Madison Ave. our collaboration with one of our non-profit (RUN Movement) projects with our youth created clothing line, and Chocolate Wisdom our youth apparel line. Currently our company is working on an affiliate program helping up and coming entrepreneurs create a presence on the web by assisting them with webpage creation and a social media presence. We want to help young people, and people of color make their mark by investing in the success of an economic revolution in our communities. We are also currently working on a multi-cultural animation project called the ObserverX where we are celebrating our differences as a community and country with humor, education, and debate. This project will be huge and will be worth waiting for. We will start some of the character introductions very soon.

CORNERSTORE_FINALnew

Kim has several budding businesses.  Check them out:

Corner Store Nation Group,

Corner Store Nation Page

The Corner Store NYC Page

R.U.N. Movement. DIG Magazine

Digpimagazine

What is the one thing as a woman that you feel helps or helped you make your mark in this world?

Honestly, I am unsure what it is that as a woman I think helped me make a mark. I will say that my individual experiences have helped me though and because I am a woman who is a part of who and what I am and will forever be so that cannot be separated from the mark I plan to leave in this world. Everything I am will have been a part of that legacy I plan to leave behind.

branded.jpg

Thank you Kim for sharing with us. I hope to work with you more in the future on any of your platforms. We learned a lot and boy oh boy do you have your hands full.  Be blessed in all of your endeavors!

Rim Cafe: Make it Happen

I love when you leave a place or in someone’s presence and you have the biggest smile because of how someone has treated you. I experienced an experience that is Rim Cafe.

From the time I walked into Rim Cafe I was taken away. It’s an eclectic atmosphere filled with nostalgia. So from first glance you should already know you’re in for a treat.

We were greeted with smiles and I knew it was going to be a in a welcome atmosphere. Rene the owner has so much light and love that it’s hard to not smile. I’m talking about that show all of your teeth smile. He knows how to “make it happen!” That’s his signature phrase. He sat down with us and talked about making coffee and drinks and about life. I wasn’t sure expecting to get life jewels but I did!

He talked about not limiting our power. He discussed about being the best in what you do and how creativity can’t be copied. I have often spoken about when you’re open to the right things wisdom will fine it’s way to deliver what you need when you need it.

If you follow Rim Cafe you already know that Rene is going to spin you into a heavenly rich concoction of love. Literally he made us 3 dishes. The first was a St. Patrick White hot chocolate that was amazing.

The next was a baked cannoli with melted chocolate in the middle. My goodness I was just floored by the flavor.

Next came the blow torch and I knew I was in trouble. He made banana flambé with caramel sauce and topped with peanut butter. Somebody call and check on me. I had to pretty much drink water for the rest of the day!

Oh by the way the peanut butter is homemade with his own signature way of making it. I’m not a peanut butter fan but this makes any of your name brand peanut butter blush!

I almost forgot about the salted caramel espresso shot! Heaven in a glass!!

Don’t wait, run to Rim Cafe. It’s located 1172 S. 9th Street, Philadelphia PA! You will never see a cafe like this in your life. Thank you Rene for making me smile. The memories will last! Make it Happen!!

Also they have all kinds of treats to take home too!!

Easy Transition With Go Vegan Philly

So last week on my Instagram I put out a call for any Philadelphia Vegan restaurants. I am happy to report that several did and today’s highlight goes to Go Vegan Philly

So I was able to have a successful full vegan weekend this past weekend.  In addition to that I was able to experience an amazing, flavorful experience with Go Vegan Philly. First of all let me share with you some of my personal reasons or my whys. I am transitioning to Vegan, one I believe with the assistance of my doctors this is the best meal plan for my life. If you ask the others in my house its a NO go. However that is not deterring me from choosing a Vegan lifestyle. My other issue is that I want to be able to eat clean. You know if you have been following me that over the past Summer I began substituting Vegan dishes and substitutes into my everyday eating. One of my issues that I experienced as I begin transitioning is the fear of having to only eat vegetables alone, meaning just salads. I love salads but let’s be real it’s not enough and I was finding even with several options for Vegans it was semi processed and definitely not whole foods that I need and believe will be better overall. I’ll admit a lot of it had a lot to do with ignorance of what it means to be vegan.

I feel I have had every salad combination there is. As I get more and more into it I am finding some amazing foods that can even surprise a non vegan. This is where Go Vegan Philly comes in. I had Jerk Chicken (Jack fruit) over rice with sautéed kale and cabbage and plantains.  Let me tell you I have personally been to Jamaica and had it from the natives and this dish is super bomb and close.  I kept telling myself to separate the platter. Have a little as a late lunch and then have the rest for dinner after a workout. NOPE! I ate the whole thing in a matter of minutes. Here’s my take. I no longer have to compromise flavor for a Vegan lifestyle.

I took the time to interview the owner of Go Vegan Philly and here’s what I learned:

Shaun Thomas has been Vegan for 4 years. He has had his home based restaurant for over a year and its taking off. I can definitely see why. His family is also vegan as well. He makes it all from mac and cheese to fried chicken and its ALL 100% Vegan.  From first to last bite I am super hooked.

Him and his cousin Charmain Quarles are the chefs. I watched them in action as they prepared these dishes. They serve each meal with love and smiles. They worked extremely well and I just blended in the background to see how their chemistry meshed and it was amazing. I love food and I love to eat. I don’t want to just eat salads and then feel like I lost something by switching. That is exactly what Shaun’s vision is. He wants people to feel like they are getting the foods that they grew up with that is flavorful but remains healthy and a great alternative to those who are transitioning. When he made the decision to go Vegan, he woke up and just did it and stuck to his commitment. That is truly admiral. I aspire to take that full-time leap.  So far I am doing well.

Jack fruit “Jerk” chicken, plantains, and sautéed cabbage and kale

The dish I had blew me AWAY.  From the reviews of even non Vegans, its spot on. The food was more than amazing.  I was full and not looking to snack on things or revert to a meat based meal later on that day.  If I am honest,  I ate around 4pm and didn’t feel the need to eat again until the next day at breakfast.  I asked Shaun what are his dishes and his response was simple, tell me your favorite meat based meal and I can make into a Vegan dish.  Take a look at some of their other dishes and you can be the judge:

 

If going Vegan looks like this and has my taste buds in full bliss, you can kiss meat based meals goodbye.  So as the journey begins send good vibes.  Also for those wanting to know, Go Vegan Philly does offer a meal plan service that I will be taking part in.  As I type this, I have already eaten the second platter.  Thank you Shaun, Charmain, and Go Vegan Philly you got a solid customer here!

Follow Go Vegan Philly on Facebook

Also follow them on Instagram

All orders can be placed by calling/text 610-616-3083

Hours are Tuesday-Friday; 5-9pm and Sat/Sun 1-6pm

Go Vegan Philly is located in Delaware County

As with any lifestyle change be sure to make the decision that best suits your end goal. Also be sure to research and have an open mind. Often times we are afraid to try new things because it challenges us to possibly end what we “always” known. Research! Research and then stick to your commitment!

Let’s flood Go Vegan Philly with orders and love! It’s well deserved!