Yes, I am still vegan (and will always be)

Let's start this out by saying that I am, and always will be a vegan. I eat vegan foods because I believe in the preciousness of life and our planet. I don't care why you eat the way you eat or about what YOU eat, honestly. I just care about what my family and I eat. I don't judge everyone else. I don't look in your grocery cart to see what you're buying. I don't complain about your health problems with an "if only you ate my way" kind of attitude. I don't think I am better than you. I am not. We are all on our own magnificent journeys and that is what matters. Are you happy? Are you doing your best to make the world a better place? If so, it doesn't matter what you eat (unless it's people - we just don't do that, y'all.) 

NOW that all of that is out there I am going to be one of those food bloggers that comes out with a food issue. But I swear I'm not going to start eating meat, eggs and cheese all justified under the pretense of an eating disorder. My issues with food are separate from my moral compass. That's not judgment of others, that's just me telling you a bit about who I am so we can all understand each other a little more. This is my story, not yours (and I don't expect it to be yours! I'm so thankful we are all so different. Life would be so boring if we were all the same.)

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My food issues are long standing and may not be different from yours. I've "dieted" in some way or another for much of my life. I've been anywhere in my adult life from 125 pounds to 220 pounds. I've measured, counted, calculated, weighed, abstained from, binged on and craved all manner of foods for years. I am not diagnosing myself with any certain disorder (I'll let a therapist do that, thank you) but I know that for certain whatever I am doing is not healthy.

To add to this - I'm oh so incredibly tired of people saying to me (and others) "if you just eat like me you will be fine. You will lose weight. You will have tons of energy. You won't have issues with food. You will this and you will that. Just do exactly like I do." Except the thing is, that really doesn't work for everyone because we all have our own problems. We have our own relationships with food and what works for one person does not work for others. Some people take this food advice and turn it into their own personal religion. I don't want to be part of that any longer. 

This attitude of "if you just eat like me you can do whatever you want and lose weight/be healthy/maintain your weight/be happy/beat addictions/etc" makes those of us that try and fail feel like we must be broken in some way. It leads to worse feelings. More issues with food. It feels crazy. I want those of you that are like me to know that you are not alone. You are not crazy. You are not broken. We are all just DIFFERENT. That is what makes us human. 

So here is the real problem: I have made my life about food. 

For some people, this wouldn't be a problem at all. You could happily think about food all day and still have a positive relationship with it. And by the way, it really does take a lot of thinking, planning and eating food to blog about food. You try to come up with the next best recipe for your website. You consider all of the foods you could eat or make. What will look good? What do people want? How often can I produce a recipe that is great without filling up my refrigerator with food that will only be thrown away unless I eat it all? Then after thinking about it I have to cook it (eat it), revise it, cook it again (eat it), photograph it (eat it), write about it, post it and then talk about it with you. 

I'm not saying this wasn't great. And that it didn't work for quite some time for me. It did. Now, it doesn't. 

Food and I sort of need to break up. It's a weird thing to say, for certain. You have to eat food to live. A lot of people, myself especially, eat food for other reasons too though. I always say that it is my drug of choice and it is. I eat when I'm anxious, cranky, tired, freaked out, depressed or even happy. I eat to the point of pain at times. Then I try to not eat very much to counteract those binges. In short, I have a food addiction. 

I have a food addiction and I'm sitting here with my biggest problem and trying to wrap my life around it.

It has taken me MONTHS to write this. The first revision of this was in the beginning of April. Not long after I wrote the first draft, I found out that I am pregnant with our second child! (yay!!!) With such a huge change as that, I find that I am ready to change other areas of my life as well. I am willing to seek help for my food issues, I am opening my life up to new experiences with new people, I am immersing myself back into creativity and I am reconnecting with a more natural state of just... being.    

Why yes I am tired and huge already! Haha!!

(By the way I just made this dress! I can't wait to share more things I'm making with you!)

So NOW you are probably wondering - what does this mean for the blog? Are you quitting? Never posting again?! 

For Fo' Reals Life it means this - 

#1.) I am not quitting. I am not leaving. Things will be changing though... for a more rounded encompassing "Fo Reals Life" that I am desperately in need of.

#2.) I am still going to post about food but not every post. I will still share my moments of inspiration but I am not going to try to force it or make it like a job anymore. If I make recipes from other websites, books or other sources that are wonderful I am going to share those with you because I think we ALL love getting as many different options as possible. 

#3.) I am going to start writing about the things that inspire me, the creative things that I'm involving myself in, things I make, the beauty around me, books/movies/products that are exciting to me and with that I will try to update you on what foods I am nourishing myself with.

I hope that you stay along for the ride because I really believe it's only going to get a heck of a lot more interesting around here. I want to thank every single reader, new and long term, for your support and encouragement. You are the ones that make this worth doing! Every kind email that I have received I have saved in a folder in my inbox marked "Appreciation" - for me to look back and appreciate the wonderful readers I have for those times that anonymity makes it possible for people to be total jerks to someone they don't know. I really do love connecting with people through this medium and I'm happy to continue doing so - on my terms. 

Now that was a Fo Reals post - am I right? (And Fo Reals long - but I had to say it all. If you read it, I'm ultra impressed!) 

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Cilantro Pesto Shredded Jackfruit

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If you've never cooked jackfruit it can seem intimidating, weird and just confusing. Don't fret. It's really easy. Jackfruit absorbs the flavors of whatever you cook with with so you can do this with any sauce, really. If you hate cilantro just use a regular basil pesto for a more Italian feel... or use whatever herbs you like! 

If you've never tasted it before it has the texture of a shredded meat (like chicken or pork) but without the greasy animal yuckiness. It doesn't have much flavor on its own but when cooked in a flavorful broth and then mixed with a good sauce it takes on the flavors like a champion. It's a wonderful vegan meat substitute and worth finding! (You can find it in Asian markets or buy it online here!) 

Cilantro Pesto Shredded Jackfruit 

(makes 2-4 servings. Double it and freeze any leftovers!) 

  • 1 can young green jackfruit in brine, drained
  • 2 cups vegan broth (preferably "chicken" flavored but whatever you have works.)
  • 1 batch of cilantro pesto, recipe below

Prepare the jackfruit - Drain the jackfruit and rinse well. Chop up the pieces of jackfruit into smaller chunks. 

Bring the broth to a boil and add in the jackfruit. Turn it down to a simmer and cook until most of the broth has been evaporated - about 15 minutes. Drain off any excess liquid. Mash all of the jackfruit up with a fork until it has a shredded texture. You could also pull it apart with your hands once it's cool enough if you like. 

I like to "fry" it in a dry hot nonstick pan for several minutes to brown it a bit but it is not necessary. Mix in the pesto once it is cooked to your liking and take off the heat. Use in whatever you like! It's a natural in any Mexican dishes like burritos, tacos, enchiladas, etc but also good in a pasta salad, on top of baked potatoes, or on top of your favorite salads. 

 

Cilantro Pesto

  • 1 cup cilantro, packed
  • 1/2 cup pepitas, toasted (you can also use almonds)
  • juice 1/2 lime
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 jalapeño, seeds removed (optional)
  • salt to taste 

Blend everything until smooth. Add additional water as necessary and make sure you add salt to taste at the end. 

*To toast the pepitas or almonds spread them out in a single layer on a baking pan. Bake at 350 until toasted - no time posted here because you need to just watch them because they can go from lovely toasted to burnt very easily. 

 

 

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Chocolate Cherry Breakfast Smoothie

Chocolate Cherry Breakfast Smoothie

With cherry season in full swing here we have been eating out fair share and now I've figured out how to drink them for breakfast too! This no-sugar-added drink is super filling what with the oats and chia seeds. 

Chocolate Cherry Breakfast Smoothie

  • 1 cup pitted frozen cherries
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1-2 Tablespoons chia seeds
  • 1.5 cups unsweetened almond or soy milk
  • 2 Tablespoons cocoa powder
  • a few ice cube - optional but recommended

Blend it all up until smooth! I just use the "smoothie" button my Blendtec which I just love! If you don't have a high speed blender you may want to blend up your oats and chia seeds first so they get incorporated in better.



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Vegan Cheeseburger Mac

Vegan Cheeseburger Mac

I saw a box of some ultra trashy cheeseburger mac at the grocery store and I got a mega childhood driven craving for something like it- but ya know, vegan and healthier! Still fresh off my inspiration from the Lentil-a-roni from Isa Does It, I figured I could just sub in some lentils for the burger part and make a nutritional yeast cheesy sauce. Done! Junk food craving full satisfied and my body was beyond happy with me for making it so healthy. You could add in some chopped greens at the end to make it even healthier (or serve it with some on the side!)

Alright, less talk and more food!  

Vegan Cheeseburger Mac

makes 4-6 servings

  • 1 cup dry brown/green lentils 
  • 2 & 1/4 cup water
  • 1 large sweet onion, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dry thyme
  • 2 cups unsweetened soy or almond milk 
  • 2/3 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch (or you can use cornstarch or arrowroot)  
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 Tablespoons miso 
  • 16oz whole wheat pasta (or whatever kind you like)
  • 2 cups chopped fresh tomato
  • black pepper to taste

Bring the water to a boil in a small pot and add in the lentils. Turn the heat to low, cover with a lid and simmer until fully cooked (about 35-40 minutes.) Once fully cooked smash up the lentils with a potato masher or a fork until mostly broken up but not pureed. You want it to still have texture.

Bring a bot of water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the package directions. Once cooked drained and set aside. 

While the pasta is cooking sauté the minced onion in a large nonstick pan over medium heat until translucent (add water if necessary to prevent sticking.) Add in the garlic and thyme. Cook for another minute or so. Stir in the smashed lentils. 

Now add in all of the remaining ingredients (except the pasta) and whisk to combine. Turn the heat up and bring to a simmer to thicken the sauce. Once the sauce it thickened stir in the pasta. This would be a good time to stir in a few handfuls of chopped spinach or other greens if you desire. Add salt and pepper to taste before serving. (Oh and its good with some hot sauce on top too if that's your thing!) 

 

 

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Dilled Cucumber Tomato Salad

Any salad without lettuce is my on the top of my salad lists because I can make it ahead of time without worrying it about it wilting on me. This tastes great (maybe even better) the next day so its also great for making ahead for packed lunches. 

Anyone else pack lunches for work? I pack the Mr.'s lunch every day and I have to be honest, it must be a super boring lunch most of the time. I put some of this in it today so hopefully it is just a tad more interesting. 

Dilled Cucumber Tomato Salad

This is the perfect summer salad. It goes with everything (I even ate it with hot and sour soup but maybe that's just because I'm a bit nutty!) It's the perfect way to use up beautiful summer tomatoes. 

Dilled Cucumber Tomato Salad

Dilled Cucumber Tomato Salad 

  • 3-5 medium small heirloom tomatoes (or whatever kind you can find), cut into small wedges 
  • 1/2 english cucumber, sliced thin
  • 1/4 large sweet onion sliced thin (walla-walla or hawaiian sweet are great)
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh minced dill
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced fine or grated with microplane grater
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • a big pinch of salt
  • black pepper to taste

Mix everything together and refrigerate for an hour or so for the flavors to meld together. Eat with everything!!!

Note: You can use finely minced basil instead of the dill if you like but then it won't be Dilled Cucumber Tomato Salad... it would be Basiled Cucumber Tomato Salad (and that sounds a bit funny) 

 

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