Not Thumbelina, But Close Enough

J and I hosted our first Easter meal on Sunday, which I’m pretty sure officially makes us “adults.” I use that term loosely because I still occasionally wonder why I’m sitting in a house that isn’t my parents’ and why isn’t my mom here making me peanut butter sandwiches cut diagonally (’cause that’s the “happy” way, according to mom, and mom knows best). J plays the adult role better with his big-boy job and man-pants and stuff.

But do you ever get wrapped up in the role of being an adult only to be struck with the realization that you haven’t felt any magic in awhile and that makes you sad because as a child EVERYTHING was magic and when did all that stop, anyway? Magic…that hair-on-end, wide-eyed wonderment that believes in ghosts and thinks if you look in the right place you might happen across a family of tiny thumb-sized people.

Anyway, I’d been keeping track of the progress of the tulips out front. (I’m going somewhere with this. Promise.)

March 20

March 20

April 14

April 14

And then, Easter morning, J calls me out onto the front porch. “Holly, c’mere…!”

tulips4.20

Something about it being Easter morning and the sun shining and the tulips waiting for just that moment to bloom made me feel so happy and like there really is magic all around us. And coming from the neurotransmitter burial ground which has been my brain for the past couple months, that’s saying a lot.

Basically what I’m saying is that even if we are getting older and have to get up multiple times in the night to pee and even if we groan a little when we sit down or limp a little after standing up, we don’t have to give up on feeling magic because it’s out there. And I don’t even care how corny and weird I might sound right now because… adulthood and self-confidence.

 

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Pancakes For Lunch! (On Listening to Your Body)

One of the many important lessons I’m learning as I work toward recovery is the importance of listening to my body. So often I have eaten specific meals or foods because I thought I should eat them, not because I actually wanted to. The problem here? After finishing the meal I felt I should eat, I was nearly always still craving the foods I’d initially wanted. While considering what I wanted for lunch today, my first thought was, “Pancakes!” Then my disorder kicked in… “You need to eat veggies. You shouldn’t have pancakes for lunch. Veggies, Holly….veggies.” You know what? To hell with that. I wanted pancakes, so pancakes is what I had.

Pancakes

Texture porn.

Later, after working out, despite my brain yelling that I’d had far too many carbs, I devoured the most delicious bowl of pumpkin oatmeal topped with melted coconut whipped cream.

Oatmeal

The picture does not do this bowl justice. Best oats I’ve had in quite awhile.

I know that I haven’t yet won the war, but successes like these make me hopeful that one day my life won’t be ruled by numbers. What’s the takeaway here? If you’re craving a specific food, allow yourself to have it (in moderation). Giving yourself permission to eat delicious things decreases feelings of deprivation and, subsequently, helps to prevent future binges. Win win! P.S. Know what’s on the menu for later tonight?

chocolate

I’m fairly certain chocolate should be eaten daily.

Sesame Soba Noodles

Since first making this dish, it has become J’s most requested meal. With minimal ingredients and prep-work, the entire dish can easily be whipped up in 30 minutes or less.

4.11.14Supper

Simple, Satisfying Sesame Noodles

  • 8-ounces buckwheat soba noodles
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon oil (I usually use olive oil because it’s what we regularly have on hand)
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Vegetables of choice (cauliflower, broccoli, sugar snap peas, julienned peppers)
  • If desired, add a favorite protein (baked tofu, chicken breast, etc.)

Toast sesame seeds in an ungreased pan until slightly browned and fragrant. Toss frequently to avoid burning. (And definitely don’t leave the room…trust me.)

Prepare sauce by mixing soy sauce, vinegar, oil and pepper flakes.

Prepare noodles according to package directions. Soba noodles are traditionally eaten cold, but J and I prefer them warm. If necessary, run a pot of boiling water over noodles to re-heat.

Meanwhile, prep veggies. I like to stir-fry or roast the vegetables with a little sea salt, black pepper and sriracha for extra heat.

Combine noodles, veggies, sauce and sesame seeds. Serve and slurp!

Recipe adapted from Elise’s Sesame Noodles.

What DO vegans eat? (or are they an evolved mix of grass-munching mouse-people?)

Spelt flour, a high-fiber, low GI carbohydrate; Ground flax replaces egg and unsweetened applesauce acts as a fat substitute; Immunity-boosting coconut

Upon telling someone you’re vegan…

“What do you mean you don’t eat meat?”

“Do you eat eggs?”

“No cheese, either?”

“Well, what the hell do you eat?!”

These questions are generally accompanied by a grimace, giving the impression that many people assume not eating meat or dairy means munching on nothing but lettuce leaves and wheatgrass. (For the record, I’ve never had wheatgrass and don’t plan to.) In answer to the myriad of questions regarding what vegans eat (because yes we eat and yes, vegan food can be delicious) I’m offering a glimpse at what goes on my plate on a “normal” day.

Breakfast: Mini pancake stack (made with spelt flour) with toasted coconut

Spelt flour, a high-fiber, low GI carbohydrate; Ground flax replaces egg and unsweetened applesauce acts as a fat substitute; Immunity-boosting coconut

Spelt flour, a high-fiber, low GI carbohydrate; Ground flax replaces egg and unsweetened applesauce acts as a fat substitute; Immunity-boosting coconut

Lunch: Homemade veggie burger (made with cannellini beans and brown rice), avocado, broccoli & sugar snap peas tossed with nutritional yeast

4.11.14Lunch

Cannellini beans are loaded with protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals; Fiber and selenium in brown rice pack a double punch for colon health; Broccoli & sugar snap peas for vitamins like C & K; Nutritional yeast offers B-complex vitamins (I use one fortified with B-12 as well) and is a complete protein; Avocado, a source of over 25 essential nutrients

Afternoon Snack: Carrots and Hummus

4.11.14Snack

Hummus, containing chickpeas, tahini and olive oil, provides fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals such as folic acid, zinc and magnesium; Carrots contain beta-carotene which is converted to Vitamin A for healthy skin and eyes.

Dinner: Sesame noodles with baked tofu and cauliflower

4.12.14Lunch

Buckwheat soba noodles for healthy whole grains; Tofu for low-calorie protein; Heart-healthy olive oil; Vitamin C packed cauliflower; Sesame seeds with cholesterol-lowering lignans

Evening Snack: Oatmeal with blueberries, flax seed, sunflower seed butter and a splash of almond milk. 

4.11.14Snack2

I almost always have oatmeal before bed. I find it keeps me sated through the night. Fiber-packed, cholesterol-lowing oatmeal; Blueberries, a rich source of multiple antioxidants; Flax seeds for vegetarian omega 3 fatty acids (ALA); Sunflower seed butter, a source of life-sustaining vitamins and minerals like selenium, magnesium, copper and vitamin e.

Seriously…stop and smell the flowers.

By default, my brain is a negativity sponge. Left to its own devices, it would put down roots in the land of all that is gloomy, cloudy, gray and uncomfortable. Preventing this takes work. Every day is a choice: Give in and ruminate in sadness or fight like hell.

I will say that years of practice have made the fighting, or rather the knowing how to fight, a little easier. For instance, you won’t generally find me sitting alone in the dark; If a room has curtains or blinds, expect me to open them. I’m wary about the music I listen to and the movies I watch. I almost always do some kind of chore while I wait for my coffee to brew in the morning because it helps me to productively pass the precarious minutes between asleep and awake time. This is important because those minutes have the capacity to set the tone for the entire day.

Perhaps most importantly, I am learning how to look for the good in each day. My hope is that slowly but surely my brain will start to see these things naturally, that the effort to be consistently happy will be less difficult. And I have reason to think this could be the case. Studies in neuroplasticity show that, contrary to popular belief, the brain continues to rewire itself throughout life. Exposure to difficult and/or new experiences can actually change the physical structure of the brain! How fucking cool is that?!

In the meantime, spring has finally arrived in Indiana and with it, so many reasons to feel happy and hopeful. Just look at that blue sky!

IMG_20140409_143541

Lying in bed last night, I was thinking about the similarities between spring and the end of an episode of depression. Both bring a sense of new life and an enhanced appreciation for all the little things. While I certainly don’t recommend taking a spin at depression (“All Aboard Misery Cruiselines!”), I do believe that experiencing a particularly rough patch of life can help one to better appreciate moments that might otherwise be taken for granted.

Take a moment today to step outside and feel with all your senses.

Stop. Be still. Close your eyes and breathe.

Mr. Fledermaus and A Vegan French Toast Recipe

As I sit here typing this, I’m listening to the scritch-scratch squeaking of a bat presumably trapped inside the wall. Hermes has been on guard for the past hour or so. I feel sorry for the little bugger, but should he happen to escape and fly victoriously into the middle of the house, I will undoubtedly scream like a sugar-dosed nine-year-old girl at a sleepover.

"I know you're in there..."

“I know you’re in there…”

Anyway…

I was craving something a little different the other morning and decided to give vegan French toast a shot. I’d never tried to replicate this comfort food favorite and was a little concerned the lack of egg would result in a mushy finished product. But, nope! The bread toasted nicely while maintaining smooth, soft insides. (That sounds weird, but you know what I mean…)

Non-Vegan Boyfriend Test Results: (after finishing his two slices in, oh, about three minutes) “It was good! I’d happily eat this every time you make it.”

frenchtoast2

Healthy Vegan French Toast

  • 2 slices sprouted grain bread
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 tablespoon quinoa flour (though any flour would probably work just fine)
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground flax
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 stevia packets (or sweetener of choice or omit if desired)
  • Pinch salt
  • Toppings of choice (nutbutter, fruit, powdered sugar, maple syrup…all of the above?)

(I keep my sprouted grain bread in the freezer, so before mixing up the batter I nuked a couple slices for about 30 seconds to thaw.)

In a shallow dish mix together, applesauce, almond milk, flour, flax, cinnamon, sweetener and salt. Dip bread slices in the batter to coat. I would avoid allowing the bread to soak in the batter as you would with traditional French toast. Fry in nonstick skillet lightly sprayed with cooking spray until golden brown on each side. Garnish, top, smother in deliciousness and enjoy!

Serves 1. Calories (without toppings) 224 Fat 3.1g Carbohydrates 40.2g Fiber 8g Protein 9.5g

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to attempt a shower and hope Mr. Fledermaus doesn’t accost me in my helpless state. (And yes, I know bats aren’t actually rodents and that they aren’t prone to attack. My imagination, on the other hand, isn’t so sure.)

 

Sexual Assault Awareness Month & Boyfriend Wisdom

I was reminded via Facebook that April is sexual assault awareness month.

So I sat cross-legged on the couch trying to think of something to say.

And all I could do was stare out the window.

Later, I told J about my attempts to write and my difficulty staying focused, zoning out. How I can’t talk about “that night” without blanking, stuttering, picking nervously at my cuticles. And he said, “You should write about things that make you feel good.”

You know what? He’s damn right.

Maybe one day I’ll be able to write something clear and meaningful about the topic of sexual assault; but tonight I refuse to give another minute’s thought to the man who tried to steal my power.

The moral(s) of this story… Don’t allow toxic people to poison your mind or darken your spirit. Hold your head up. Don’t play the victim. Set your thoughts on that which brings pleasure and joy into your life. 

 “I give myself a good cry if I need it. But then I concentrate on the good things still in my life. I don’t allow myself any more self-pity than that. A little each morning, a few tears and that’s all.” Mitch Albom, Tuesdays With Morrie