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!

 

Advertisements

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!

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!

 

 

 

Words Do Matter; You Matter More

So while at an event in my hometown I had someone say something to me about my weight. Now you all know I had documented my journey and that when I was over 200 pounds very little had comments about my weight and at that time I was way over where I needed to be. It was devastating. Now I am at weight goal and tightening up and I am still getting comments about my weight.  I was taken back if I am honest. I talked to my husband and he was like “keep it in perspective some folks aint seen you since you were a kid. You’re a grown ass woman with an amazing body and 3 kids, stay the course!”  Can we just clone him?  He made me feel like the beautiful woman who I am.

This is the conclusion I have come to. A lot of folks will only see you at what they last remember. I went to college a size 0 and came back a size 4 that was an issue. Had a baby and was a size 6 and now I am holding at a size 8 and sometimes 10 depending on how the pants are cut. Issue.

I am not here to worry about what other people’s eyes see me as. I am perfect at the size that I am. I am not in competition to be at high school weight. I was unhealthy to be honest. I ate what I wanted, rarely went to the doctors and the only saving grace was a high metabolism and sports. Skinny isn’t always healthy.  I know folks smaller than me with high blood pressure and a whole gambit of health complications.

What I know is from head to toe I am finally in the best shape of my life and I can run and do 6 or more races a year. I can keep and outrun my kids and run up and down a flight of steps without losing my breath. I eat as well as I can and work out 2-3 usually more a week. I am fine!  I am enough!

There is a woman who is struggling right now with a lot of whispers and you may not be as confident as I feel or feel like you’re not. You are just enough. You are enough even in the state that you are. Its one of the things I felt I needed to say. I need to release it. I had a family member say oh you sure are hippy meaning curvy. I am supposed to be. Newsflash, I have regular amazing sex and I have 3 kids. They didn’t know when I had the athletic build in high school I used to want to have a curve. Now I have them and they are here to stay. I looked like a boy body shape and folks would either like it or have an issue.  So to the curves and the butt that I now have, please stay. We are going to tone up these next couple of months but we ain’t dropping you!

Do not let anything stop you from being your best version of you.  Trust me you can change your body, but be the best version of yourself inner and outer and trust me you will always shine in darkness.

What if you aren’t at the place you need to be and someone does make a negative but true comment?  Remember when the lady asked me how far along I was and if I was having a boy? Devastating. I cried. I was hurt. I made up in my mind that I wouldn’t allow myself to get to that point.  To prevent that I only keep my size clothes in my drawers. I don’t wear baggy clothes. They actually let you look bigger FYI.  Wearing form figuring clothes helps hold you accountable. I didn’t say tight, I said form-fitting or figure flattering clothes. The other day I found a size 14 pant in my closet, tried it on and it was drowning on me. I gave them away.  I keep myself accountable by weighing myself weekly just like I did when I was going to Weight Watchers meeting. It’s important for me to stay the course. So when that comment was made through the help of my husband and getting on the scale to see what was going on, I was fine. I knew it was a comparison of what they remember me from my past. I am still at goal weight. I am in training season for these runs. I can’t let words distract me. If I do I might not be able to get through my vigorous races ahead.  I got to keep running forward.

One of my favorite songs by Kirk Franklin, Imagine Me:

Imagine Me

When Great Hospitality Meets Great Food: Bronze Table and Scoop Deville

I’m still full from the amazing food I had yesterday. I took a little food tour at the Bronze Table and Scoop Deville. There are a few factors when going out to eat that I look for and those are quality, quantity, customer service and practicality. Both restaurants exceeded both.

Bronze Table

Bronze Table is located inside the Bourse, 111 S. Independence Mall here in Philly. They are a fresh pasta based restaurant that make their food from scratch. So this means they are like a fresher appeal to fast food. That’s a great plus as we all need to eat quickly but healthy. All of their sauces and pasta are made to order. There is nothing flash frozen for quick consumption. And taste? I love pasta but even with cutting down on it, I can’t deny it’s goodness. From first bite to my last, it was amazing.

The portion sizes are more than enough. Did I mention most pasta is around $10. For a mom of 3 who is trying to save her coins, you can’t beat that price and quality. You taste the difference from other pasta chains to Bronze Table. They have daily specials as well as standing staples. This is your must try stop. For those who don’t want pasta they also serve salads and sandwiches.

Pictured here: Sunday Rigatoni aka Sunday gravy, gnocchi vodka, cheese steak rigatoni, gemelli with pesto burrata, wild mushroom butter Parmesan ravioli and cheesy garlic bread

All of the food was good but my favorites were the cheese steak rigatoni and the gemelli with pesto burrata. Let’s talk about customer service: A1. They explained everything and everyone was gracious to us. Also if you like their pasta or sauces they are available to purchase so you can go home and make the options yourself.

As if the pasta wasn’t enough I headed over to Scoop Deville. Scoop Deville is located inside of the Bourse as well as they have a location in Midtown Village on Walnut Street. You can call ahead, order online and pick up or have it delivered via Caviar. So there’s never an excuse for not having ice-cream.

Scoop Deville definitely puts the fun into eating ice-cream. They have so many flavors to be honest. However a highlight is they allow you to make your own soft serve. As I was rambling on with our server about flavors everyone I said they had. From decadent not chocolates, to cakes, to frozen bananas and for my fellow vegan and gluten-free family-they got us too! If that ain’t a major win!! Oh and by the way the servers at Scoop Deville must have gone to ice-cream school to watch how they know every item on the menu and if you’re like me who loves to be different, they got me together. I started shouting out flavors and they had answers. You’re not going to be able to beat their selections of cereal or other unique toppings. The only hard choice is going to be which one to start with. I think that’s how they got me because now I’m challenged to come back and make up more weird delicious pairings. The big kid in me was able to unite with my adult self and enjoy. I honestly can’t wait to take the kids too! Soon as I got home I allowed them to finish the rest of what I had and they can’t wait to make their own!

This was my flavor choice that I not only ate while there, I took a pint home:

Vegan vanilla with strawberry, peaches and Golden Grahams

So these need to be on the top of your list. You can come into the city make it a day or if you want to drive in there is convenient parking deck that you pay as long as you stay that’s right next to the Bourse. I had no issues getting in and out.

So don’t delay get into the Bronze Table and Scoop Deville!

Thanks so both restaurants as well as my blogging friends for an amazing night out:

Philly Food Gal

Philly Dine Out

Little teacher big appetite

To see more amazing photos, follow me on Instagram

Ask Toi: How do I Break it to a Friend that they can’t attend events with me due to their bad attitude?

This is tricky but necessary. I mean you could if you didn’t want to confront your friend, attend the events and not have to give a reason. However if your friend asks I would be honest with them. Sometimes you must have a difficult discussion. There is no way around your friend’s bad attitude.

Keep in mind that your friend is mostly aware of their bad attitude. Your friend may even disguise it with this is how I am take it or leave it type talk. People always find ways around accepting their behavior and doing something about it. You may not win your friend over by telling them about something they may not want to accept. However I wouldn’t invite them to events until they actually did. Your friend is going to say you changed or you’re stuck up but remember end of day you don’t want to spend the night having to defend your friend’s attitude and behavior. No one wants that. You want to go and enjoy yourself. If your friend is being awful to others because “that’s how it is” they can be that way at home.

You also don’t have to necessarily cut your friend off but keep in mind but having the conversation might tip it that way. Listen people with bad attitudes aren’t oblivious to how they are often times they don’t care. You can make up valid reasons of pain and past traumas and they all could be valid. However what’s not valid is knowing those triggers exist and expecting to be in a world where we should just deal with embarrassing behavior just because. Tell your friend the truth. Expect them to be mad. In time when they are ready to accept responsibility which also means change, you and your friend can hang out in public events without everyone around you having to be put off by your friend’s bad attitude.

As always good luck. Don’t back down because your friend will say that if you are my friend you should understand them. It’s not okay and accountability is important! Speak up and good luck!

Ask Toi: When should you disclose your sexual status to someone?

I think the earliest that you can before any sexual lines are crossed. I know people have casual sex but if you do it’s still important to have that conversation with someone early. Never wait.

For anyone who takes on the responsibility of sex, condoms are number one. You must protect your own life at all times. Condoms are not 100% either. They break or can slip out-of-place, be vigilant. No one ever looks “dirty” as people used to call it. You must remember this is the age of information. It’s not dirty it’s about knowing your status and the status of your partner. If you are having casual sex you take on an incredible risk to yourself and someone’s life. Sex can kill you. You don’t have to be afraid but you do have to be vigilant. This is why I never tell married woman not to continue getting tested. I told my readers how a doctor told me that because I am married I carry a smaller risk of getting a sexually transmitted disease. In theory he was right in real life I will never take that chance. Love and responsibility are two different things. My quality of life can easily be interrupted by one slip of myself or my mate. Protect yourself at all times.

Do not let the heated moment of sex ever put your life at risk. Not everything can be cured with a pill or a shot. Don’t play Russian Roulette with your life. Know your status, speak up early, and wrap it up and married or not always know your status and constantly get checked!