Sunday, November 27, 2011

Adopt-A-Turkey: It Is Not Too Late!

I have been absent from blogging for several weeks. The short of it is that I have been busy and have not had a chance to focus on blogging. I will get back into the groove at some point in the near future.

I wanted to share the Adopt-A-Turkey project from Farm Sanctuary. If you don't already know about this, I recommend you give this site a view. This campaign offers a humane alternative during Thanksgiving by offering a chance to donate money to sponsor a turkey. It is after Thanksgiving, but not too late to donate to help sponsor a turkey.

As a vegan I do not consume turkey, but felt I needed to do more. Each year John and I donate money to save a turkey. I like the idea of knowing that my money is going directly to the sponsorship of turkeys during this time of year. Not all turkeys are as lucky as those saved by Farm Sanctuary. There are more than 46 million turkeys that are killed each year so that those in the United States can celebrate Thanksgiving. These and all factory farmed turkeys are subject to cruel practices such as being packed into small cages, de-beaking, de-toeing, genetic manipulation, rough handling during transport, hanging from metal shackles, heads submerged in electrified water, throats slashed, and many other awful practices. I hope you will consider being part of the solution this year and future years by having a meatless Thanksgiving and donating to Farm Sanctuary.

I hope you all had a Happy Turkey-free and cruelty-free Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Mint Hot Chocolate Almond Drink

It is the time of year when you start seeing Silk seasonal creations such as Pumpkin Spice and Nog. I like those well enough, but I'm crazy about the mint chocolate flavor! Facebook has been buzzing with talk about the new flavors in the store (ok, maybe only for those of you with lots of vegan friends). John was at Whole Foods and I asked him to pick up the chocolate mint kind. Much to my dismay, they were out of that kind and only had the pumpkin spice.

I am not a fan of the pumpkin spice. I always expect it to taste like pumpkin and it doesn't. I know it is just the spices from a pumpkin pie, but I want it to taste like pumpkin. Instead of sulking, I decided that I would make my own version of the minty drink. I looked through our cupboards and felt like I had the right combination and got to work. I must say that this recipe is as good as the store bought version. Although, I'll probably still buy it once and a while for a treat!

Mint Hot Chocolate Almond Drink
  • 1 cup almond milk (soy or coconut would work too)
  • 3 Tbsp vegan, fair trade chocolate chips
  • 1 Tbsp cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp agave nectar
  • 1/4 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1/8 tsp vanilla extract
Place the soy milk into a small saucepan and turn the heat onto medium. Whisk in the chocolate chips and cocoa powder and whisk until the chips melt. Add in the agave nectar and extracts and whisk again until warm.

Pour into a mug and serve warm!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

One Year Ago

One year ago in September I opened our mailbox to find a large envelope addressed to me from my Doctor. I knew some form of communication was coming from him, but my heart still raced as I was unsure of what the communication would say. I felt unsettled as I ran to the house. I stood on the porch and contemplated if I should open the envelope. Once opening it I knew my life would be different, although I did not know how. But I had to open it.

As my fingers trembled, I opened the envelope and read the note. Dear Amanda..... What came next, I could not even decipher because I was in shock as I read the words. The letter informed me that I had Celiac disease and that I would have to start a strict gluten free diet immediately.

I opened the door and walked in the house to John cooking Pad Thai (with wheat noodles nonetheless) and I burst into tears. Concerned, he ran over to me asking what was wrong. I handed him the letter and he read. I knew my life was going to change. I am accustomed to changing my diet as I had done it twice before. Once at the age of 14 when I became vegetarian and then when I became vegan about three years ago. This was different though, this wasn't because I wanted to save animals from a life of torture and suffering. This had nothing to do with a personal conviction. This was because I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease.

I did not even want to eat that evening because I knew that our dinner was what was making me sick. John tried to convince me that I should take gradual steps towards gluten free to help ease the transition. Those of you that know me know that when I make a commitment to something I go all in. This would be no different. The next day, I started my gluten free journey.

The good news was that despite having a disease, I did not have to take any drugs. I could control this through diet. When I put it into perspective, it did not seem as tragic as I first thought. I was not being given a death sentence, I was being given a chance to live. I was told that if I did not follow the diet, there was a possibility that I could die early from cancer or get osteoporosis and/or other issues. I am a fighter and I would fight this and win. I would not let Celiac disease defeat me.

It is now a year later and I have lived virtually gluten free for a whole year. I have had a few incidents where I accidentally consumed gluten unknowingly, but I have not once eaten it purposefully. While the feat may seem small to most, this is something that I am proud of myself for accomplishing. I have had many occasions where I have drooled over people enjoying vegan confections, breads, sandwiches, pizza etc. and I stayed strong. I have many flaws and shortcomings, but will power is not one of them. When I set my mind to something I stick with it and having a disease with consequences makes it even more important for me to stay on track.

This past year has been a challenge and I constantly realize areas of my life where I will always be different from others. I identify most with compassionate vegans, but still feel different from them- they can consume gluten. So I find myself in a strange and often lonely category- a Gluten free vegan. It becomes painfully obvious how different I am when folks (usually omnivores) say to me "what the hell can you eat?" I try to spin it in a positive direction.

Most of the people in my life have been supportive. Some of the people in my life have been nothing short of amazing in my journey. John has willingly removed almost all gluten from his diet at home as to make the kitchen a safe place for me. My vegan and vegetarian friends always consider me in making sure there is something gluten free for me to enjoy. My Mom has learned how to bake both gluten free and vegan. This is touching as she is neither gluten free nor vegan. Then there is the amazing blogging community which has shared so many recipes. Without the loving support of John, my parents, and friends I am not sure that I would have made it to a year of success.

Thank you to all of you who have been there with me this past year and have helped me through my journey. Thank you for not making me feel like an outcast and accepting this new version of me. Thank you for listening to my struggles, tears, and successes. I appreciate all of your open ears and hearts and for loving me.

Happy one year.