Operation:Health, The Rundown

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As I've mentioned previously, I'm gradually cutting things out of my diet until I'm at a place of veg*n-ism. I cannot say that I will be the "perfect" vegan, but my goal is to go dietary-vegan and monitor some bodily symptoms that I have, to see if it helps alleviate it. I'm pretty sure it will, but I want to keep track regardless.

In the past I have been vegetarian, and I used Kathy Freston's Quantum Wellness as a guideline after seeing an episode on Oprah (oh, sue me, I was, like, 24 at the time and I worshipped at the altar of Oprah). The one where she challenged her staff to go vegan, and she went vegan, and Kathy Freston was there and Lisa Ling went to Cargill. That one.

Anyway, (it's been a long time...) I believe that Ms Freston was explaining that you omit several things for about a week to reset your body. Those things were, in no particular order [I have to tell you,  I went and looked it up, as my list seemed too short, but I'm happy to report, I remembered EVERYTHING!]:

  • Caffeine
  • Processed Sugar
  • Gluten
  • Animal products
  • Alcohol
I used this, and am planning on using this as a template again for going veg*n. I moved things around on the list to correspond with what I felt was going to be the most difficult and least difficult. For example, the first go-around I knew that caffeine was going to be extraordinarily difficult to cut out, so I was going to cut out something that wasn't that difficult the next week - alcohol. I wasn't drinking much at all (I'd say one drink every two months, possibly less). That way I sort of had a week to get over the hump, and the next week to calm it all down. I was glad I did that, so I am following that model again. 

I am not going to cut out gluten this time, because I found it had no effect whatsoever on me. However, if after I have gone through the rest of the "steps" and have still felt awful, I will be exploring the gluten-free option, too. 

This is what the following number of weeks is going to look like:
  • Week 01: Cut out Caffeine
  • Week 02: Abandon Alcohol
  • Week 03: Murder the Meat
  • Week 04: Dispose of Dairy
  • Week 05: Phase out Processed Sugar
  • BONUS Week: Get rid of Gluten
(see what I did there? I love word play)

Five Days Until...

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Today marks five days before my birthday. Five days before The Day. the Day it all is different. Okay, I'm going to eat pizza (non-veg*n), have a beer or two and wake up to take a ton of pudding to school for my child. And maybe eat some cake/pumpkin pie.

I've been legitimately preparing for this, this time. I've started stocking my pantry with plant-based foods. I've picked up a couple of faux-meat things to have on hand, too, when my family is having chicken fingers and fries or burgers, and then I'm not oddly left out.

I purchased a cook book that's really, really controversial.


Look, in case anyone's wondering, I thought their blog was funny originally and I bought this book before I ever found out who they were. That being said, their recipes are, admittedly, pretty good...so I feel weird about having this. Love-Hate.

Moving on.

I've tried out a few vegan recipes to test the waters.

I also ate McDonald's twice this week. Let me tell you, I feel like a complete sack of garbage. Seriously, even two days later. My stomach is in knots, I feel tired and yucky, and my tongue is all white and nasty. Maybe I'm getting my kids' colds, but you never know. I chalk it up to the McD's; that's what I felt like the last-last time I had it.

I wish I could sit here and say that I'm excited, but I'm not. I'm hesitant. I'm honestly worried that I'm not going to follow through with it, even though I've done all this prep work. I mean...I'm not cutting everything out cold-turkey. That'd be tough as heck and I know that's not the way to do it. I had way more success, and for so much longer, when I did things gradually.

First is going to be the caffeine being cut out. This is something that I may (or may not, there's so many delicious caffeine-free options out there) reintroduce back into my body after I've had some time to get away from it. This is more of an experiment to see how dependent I've become on it. Do I have tea because I enjoy tea, or am I after that woken-up feeling? I put myself in the "enjoy tea" camp right now because of this:

Hi, my name is Mademoiselle Poire, and I have a (David's) Tea problem.
However, I could be completely deluding myself and that I just really, really want some caffeine. As you can see, the majority of my stash is decaffeinated anyway, but I also pick from a select few types of caffeinated teas mostly (read: my darling Chai teas).

Another day I'm going to post all of what I'm cutting out and such. It deserves it's own post ;)

Vegan Muffins

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In preparation for the upcoming life overhaul, I've been scouring the internet's vastness for recipes and baking and things that I might like to still eat.

We eat a ton of muffins in our home. They're a great food! I was worried that I was going to have a difficult time finding a good substitute for muffins. Generally, most muffins I've made have been kind of gross. They are too dry and are sort of blah tasting. Before you call folly at my baking skills, I know how to add more wet, I know to never over-beat something with baking powder in it, and I get that I can add things to make muffins tastier, but I think you need to start with a good base.

Who knew that without eggs and milk I could have found that?!

I found the recipe on Pinterest, but the original is found here.

One tip I have for this particular recipe is that you will need to have your alt-milk slightly warmed before adding your melted coconut oil, otherwise it's going to cool down a lot and turn into a lumpy mess. It doesn't need to be hot, as coconut oil melts at a low heat, but enough to keep it from rehardening.

Basic Vegan Muffin Mix (from SheKnows)
This recipe makes 36 large muffins. The directions at the end will give you one dozen scrumptious vegan muffins.
Ingredients:
  • 6 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons baking powder
  • 3 teaspoons salt
  • 1/3 cup ground flax
Directions:
  1. In a large bowl, thoroughly whisk together ingredients. Transfer to an airtight container and keep in the pantry until ready to use.
Basic Vegan Muffins
Write down or print this recipe and keep it with your dry muffin mix.
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil or warm coconut oil
  • 1-1/2 cups dairy-free milk, warmed slightly
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2-3/4 cups muffin mix
  • 1 cup add-ins of your choice (nuts, dried fruit, blueberries, mashed bananas or other fresh fruit, or chopped dark chocolate)
Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and generously spray a muffin pan with cooking spray. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, milk, and vanilla.
  2. Add muffin mix and stir just until combined.
  3. Stir in add-ins.
  4. Fill muffin cups with muffin batter.
  5. Bake for 20 to 23 minutes or until muffins spring back when lightly touched.
  6. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes then invert onto a wire rack to continue to cool or serve warm.

I Guess I Really Am A Hippie

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So this is really weird.

We've had this set in our basement. I've been going through things for garage saling, and happened upon this little pig farm. I brought it up and asked the kids if they would let me sell it or if they wanted to keep it. They said they wanted to keep it and tore into it. Naturally.

We started building it and I grew more and more distressed as I assembled the little plastic barns and pens. 

I was setting up our very own miniature factory farm. 

Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na CAT MAN.

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I find it terribly difficult to photograph this cat. He always looks angry, squinty, or downright ugly when I put a phone/camera in his face. I don't want people thinking that's his status-quo face. He's actually really, really cute.

A couple of weeks ago I noticed he was having trouble peeing. Never a good sign. This happened a couple of years ago to him, but he was on death's door step at that time. Like, his little cat urethra was completely sealed shut, his bladder was huge, he was laying around crying.

This time I got at it before it got to that point, luckily, but it was still not a great experience.


I was sent home with 1L of saline solution and the instructions on how to do a subcutaneous drip for him, every six hours, for a couple of days. About 50mL was to be given each time, along with some medication to help keep him pain free.

I grew up on a "farm". We call it that, but it wasn't actually a farm in any way, shape or form. We happened to live on a nature conservancy and had all manner of creature on the plot of land we inhabited. All this is to say is that I am not exactly unfamiliar with animals and various needles. That being said, I'd never given a subcutaneous needle before!

Because this is the internet and it tends to get abused - and I am not a veterinarian - I'm not at liberty to say how to do it, but I did get it all said and done. Over the next many hours I was able to give fluid to kitty and he seemed like it was all going well.

A day elapsed and then I received a phone call from the vet that I'd taken him to asking how he was doing. I let her know that he was peeing and eating and generally okay. She seemed a little bit surprised and said, "Oh, the odds of them being okay when we send them home is only about 1 in 5."

The only saving grace, I think, is that I kept accidentally dosing him with 100mL of fluid instead of 50mL. This isn't dangerous - the vet explained that to me before sending me home, and that it's preferable to overdo it than under do it. All that means is his body had to absorb 100mL of fluid instead of 50mL, so that meant his urine would be more diluted and he'd just have to pee more. Which, when a cat has bladder crystals and it's clear, is what you want.

It's been a while since that happened, and we haven't had any more incidents. He has to be on special cat food now, though, for the rest of his life. It costs a bit more, but it's considerably less than it costs to fix this issue every time it arises.

A Weird Post to Write

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I have thirty days until I am thirty.  The big 3-0 is coming up and I'd be lying if I omitted the fact that I have that quintessential fear of a number. It's not for the reason that most other people fear thirty. I don't feel old. In my head, I'm a ripe old 22 year old who has had an extra eight years to get their life together, have kids, have jobs, quit jobs, get houses and all that jazz.

No, in fact I want need to change my life style. Being in a first world country and all that, I do say that I haven't had a great year. I've spent a lot of it really, really depressed. Like a lot, a lot. I don't want to talk about it, though, because I know A) that's triggering and B) I have no idea who is reading this and I know it'd hurt people in my life to know how I was feeling during the past 360-odd days and saying nothing about it to anyone. Because I'm a martyr. I'm not serious about that last little bit, I don't feel like a martyr: honestly I just feel really tired.

I spent most of 2014 waiting to feel better. A little here and there, trying to feel better while staying out of the arena of dopamine-uptake-receptor-chemical-western medicine. Because I didn't try very hard, very little seemed to make a difference in my life. Which is no one's fault, but my own.  I'm don't blame anyone for that. This year, after feeling that particular brand of clutch-in-the-chest that accompanies being upset about things, I decided that I am giving myself a particular gift this year. A particularly weird gift: to actually be better. I am spending my thirtieth year getting better for not only my children, but myself.

No longer a slave to my muddied up chakras, and ignoring the brightness in my days. Basically it's like one of those completely cliché things where a woman has a quarter life crisis in a movie, gets a hair cut, quits her high-paying job to become a florist (her true passion!), finds that the sort of weird guy at Starbucks is actually super nice and funny and sweet, then moves out to the country. Except without the whole cliché part. I don't feel unfulfilled in my life, it's just that something's not quite right with myself as a person and that needs to be repaired. Clearly, eleven years of waiting for something to make me feel better hasn't been working, so I just need to be way more active about it. 

See, I told you this was weird. I  feel weird. I've spent a lot of time researching and reading and after making a couple of failed attempts, I'm actually going to stick with it this time. It's mostly diet related because, hello, easier is easier, isn't it? That is no excuse, in my book. I don't let that fly with other people, I'm not sure where I got the idea that this was good for me. That last bit doesn't make a lot of sense, I realize that. What I'm trying to get at is I made stabs at being vegetarian/vegan over the summer and when I actually made the effort, I felt eleventy-million times better, but I wouldn't stick with it. The feeling better didn't seem to remind me. Maybe because I didn't feel terrible, exactly, or that it was so easy to slip back into old habits (e.g. hot dogs). I wouldn't exercise regularly, either, which made a difference. I don't know why I feel the need to write all of this out here. It's not like I'm interested in people keeping me accountable, or having anyone check up on me or anything. I'm just throwing it out there, I guess. ;) To embracing my inner hippie,

Happy birthday to me.

 Also, there are 87 days until Christmas.