An Awakening Lady Date in Chicago

My friend and I took the train into Chicago on Sunday to see Giselle on Sunday performed by the American Ballet Theater at the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago.

My mother got me interested in seeing ballets when I was 6 years old. The Nutcracker performed by the Joffrey Ballet at Arie Crown in McCormick Place was the first ballet I ever saw. I was immediately entranced. I still see at least one ballet every year nearly 25 years later. Almost all of the ballets I’ve seen have been with my mom with the exception of the time I was away at college. This Sunday was different: my mom and I saw the same ballet but we sat 5 rows apart and the only time we spoke was in a public restroom at Macy’s Department Store.

I’ve written in other blog posts that, as a child, teenager and young adult, my mom used to be my best friend and in recent years I’ve become estranged from both her and my dad. I love my parents but I feel much better when I’m not around them for multiple reasons. Something happened right before Christmas and I decided it was time to detox and take some time away from my parents. I haven’t seen them since before Christmas at which time my mother was yelling at me over trying to give their dog a bone. It is as ridiculous as it sounds. The detox from them was the best thing I could’ve done for myself.

Part of me was shocked to see my mom this Sunday because I hadn’t seen her in several months. However I knew it was a possibility that I might see her given that she and I always saw the last ballet of the two week run on Sunday at 2pm, always took the same train into the city and always used the public bathroom at Macy’s after we got off the train. The run-in in the bathroom was short and awkward. It was like getting a shot in the arm: quick with a little bit of a pinch and then it’s over quicker than it began. She said hi to my friend and told us to have a nice day and then walked out. After she left, I started crying and my friend hugged me because she understood my pain.

My mom was with me all day: she took the same train into Chicago, saw the same ballet I saw and sat 5 rows down from us, she walked back the same way we did to the train station and took the same train ride home yet the only time she actually talked to me was in the bathroom.

After being taunted by my mother’s coldness all day I realized that the detox had done me some good. Even though she was pretty much everywhere we went, she had a nice day alone and I had a nice day with my friend. The detox has put me in a better frame of mind. I pulled myself out of the negative environment that my parents create and surrounded myself with a more positive crowd of people. I have a very hard time handling rejection from my mother and I get paranoid when she picks at me about anything from the clothes I’m wearing to my weight to my life choices. She and my dad are both very critical people. By only speaking to her less than a minute that day, I realized she wasn’t going to have the chance to pick at me and I never had the chance to get upset about it.

I’m grateful to my parents because they gave me life and there are times, like Sunday, when I miss the relationship I used to have with my mother. I also realized though that getting away from them or a bit let me grow and flourish on my own. It gave me a chance to develop some new friendships with people that don’t judge me all the time and pursue interests that I’d like to pursue just because I want to. That’s one of the perks about being an adult!

The only time I cried was in the bathroom when my running buddy hugged me. That’s a big step for me. My mother not wanting to spend the day with me, before the detox, is something that normally would’ve crushed me and ruined my entire day. The coldness that she showed me in the bathroom would’ve been something that would’ve had me in tears on and off all day and was something that I would’ve normally let ruin my day. But not this time. I wasn’t going to let her have that satisfaction of doing that to me. And I wasn’t going to do that to myself.

Being in a different frame of mind and looking at the picture from a different perspective was the best thing I could’ve done for myself.



Conquering Just One Fear

What are you afraid of? There’s got to be something. For some people it’s public speaking. Isn’t there a statistic out there that states the only thing people fear more than death is public speaking? I will admit getting up and talking in front of people can be a little bit scary at first. As a dance teacher, I would always have butterflies in my stomach before going out to teach a big group class. Eventually I would relax once I got my rhythm. I like speaking in front of people when I know what I’m talking about! It makes it a lot easier.

Here was one of my fears that I realized the other day that I have mostly conquered: driving in Chicago.

I sent a friend a text message the other day wishing her a happy birthday. This friend isn’t one I see very often but we were friends in high school and kept in touch through college and now into our adult years. Before she got married last year, she and I would meet up if she was in Indiana or I would take the train into Chicago to meet her.

Taking the train into Chicago was the only way I could get downtown for a long time—like since childhood. I learned this behavior from my mother. My mother never drove us into Chicago when I was younger. We always took the train downtown to see the sites: musicals, ballets, art museum visits, the opera, the symphony, etc. It didn’t matter what time of year it was: we always took the train.

I didn’t realize until adulthood that my mother was scared to drive into Chicago. It was a big fear of hers and therefore a big fear of mine. She limited us to activities that were within walking distance of the train station or a short cab ride away. I didn’t realize until I wished my friend, who lives in the suburbs of Chicago, a happy birthday how limited I was and how my mother’s fear transferred to me as a learned behavior. My mother was scared and, since I’d clung to her side for so long as a child and teenager and even as an adult, how I had let her fears become my fears. It was fear by association.

When my friend and I would meet up, she would have to walk to the intersection of Randolph and Michigan Avenue in Chicago since that’s where the train dropped me off. From there my friend would take me to places of the city that I’d never seen before, all on foot. I love Chicago and was grateful, in a way, to not have my mother there so that I could explore other parts of it besides Michigan Avenue and State Street. But there was still more of Chicago that I wanted to see and I knew that I had to get myself there if I wanted to see these sites.

So what helped me conquer my fear? A Magellan Roadmate definitely helped and also my running buddy. Last year, I ran two races in Chicago with my running buddy: Chicago Marathon and Hot Chocolate 15K. We also both raised money for charities which had functions in Chicago. I told my running buddy about my fear of driving in Chicago. So, after I got my new Corolla last year, my running buddy would say “you drive and I’ll help you navigate.” What really happened was I drove, her Magellan navigated, and she kept me calm. I soon realized that without her Magellan, my running buddy was just as lost as I was! That’s why it took us an hour to get out of Indiana one time—and that was, sadly, with the Magellan. Not our finest moment, I’ll admit. But my running buddy was great at keeping me calm especially when it came to facing my fear of fast-moving traffic on expressways I didn’t know. She’d just tell me everything was going to be okay and if we got turned around it was no big deal.

For Christmas, Pete got me my own Magellan. Now I could go places in Chicago and not need to have my running buddy with me. Right after I got my Magellan, I decided I wanted to go to Whole Foods. So in January 2012, I took my new Magellan and my shopping list and took my first trip to Whole Foods, all by myself. I didn’t have Pete or my running buddy. And my mom would freak if she knew I was driving in Chicago by myself, so thankfully, she doesn’t even know! I was nervous at first, but I kept going up to Whole Foods week after week after week. It’s where I do all my grocery shopping at now. Pete was with me last week when we went to Whole Foods together and he said to me, “Wow you’re so much calmer driving than you used to be. Look at you! You look like you do this every day.” Pete was right. I was one calm, cool, organic cucumber from Whole Foods!

Facing my fear of driving to Chicago head on was the way to go for me. I did it slowly and with the help of friends. And letting go of my mother’s fear helped me let go of my fear. Sometimes relationships that are close-knit can be damaging if you take on one another’s fears. Eventually I realized how much I was missing by assuming my mother’s fear was my fear. I was wrong. My mother’s fear has always been just that—my mother’s fear. I’m not scared to drive into Chicago anymore. I do still need my Magellan for directions on how to get places I’ve never been in Chicago, but I’m not scared to go there alone anymore.

Pick one thing you’re afraid of, slowly introduce yourself to it with the help of friends and family and anything else you feel you need to make you more comfortable. Face your fear head on a little bit at a time, in small doses. Eventually, you’ll become less fearful and more comfortable and you’ll realize how limited you were by the thing you feared the most!


A Vegan Comicon Field Trip

Ok so if you haven’t caught on yet, Meat Pete (my omni man) is a huge nerd. I love him but it’s the truth. There are stacks of comics all over our house, Dungeons and Dragons rule books, multiple sets of dice, super-hero movies, collectible figures and oh did I mention the comics!

Last August I was trying to figure out what to get Pete for his birthday. I’m not a big gift giver. I like giving the gift of experience vs an actual physical gift that will get lost in my hoarder’s collection of junk. I overheard one of the attorneys at the law firm I work at talking about something called Comicon and how he was going to be going to Rosemont on the weekend of Pete’s birthday for this convention. The first thought that went through my mind was, “Holy crap, I can send Pete to a Comicon for a day! That’s perfect!” In my mind, I had my lady night all planned out with movies, popcorn and cuddling up with my dogs. When I came home and told Pete about his gift he dropped the bomb: He refused to go to this unless I went too. He wanted to go and was really excited about it, but he didn’t want to go alone. What woman would disappoint her man on his birthday? That would just be down-right mean. So I purchased two tickets and tried to mentally prepare myself for challenge before me: not being bored at a comic book convention with other nerdlings like Pete around.

I’m a nerd too. I’m a huge nerd! My nerdiness may not consist of Star Trek watching, comic-book reading, role-play gaming but I’m still a nerd. I’m a fitness and diet nerd. What Comicon is to Pete is what a health and fitness expo before a big race is to me! Either way you roll the dice, we’re both nerds in our own way at the end of the day. The difference is, Pete will go to my events and expos and never really complain. Me, on the other hand, well, let’s just say our 11 age difference shows up sometimes. I’ll admit I’m not always the most supportive person at an event I don’t want to be at.

At Comicon, I was 100% supportive. I drove us up there, paid for our lunch and attempted to wander the crowds with Pete. This was the first year that Pete and I went to a large comic book convention like this so we didn’t really know what to expect and hadn’t planned out our day very well. Pete got to sit in on an interview with Patrick Stewart which I believe to be his most memorable experience. I will admit I did enjoy one part of the day: the interview I sat in on with Pete with Christopher Lloyd. That was pretty cool.

This past Saturday, I dragged Mr. Supportive Omnivore Pete to a vegan/vegetarian group meetup at a restaurant called Asparagus. Pete sat across from someone he’d never met before named Jim Heely (all identities are kept secret). Pete and Jim seemed to bond instantly–they both had a witty and dry sarcastic sense of humor about them and both discovered that they’d been to Comicon and enjoyed themselves. Oddly enough both were omnivores too just along for a ride. There were also both sitting next to two female vegan runners with the same names (just different spelling)! Jim and Pete hit it off and decided to make a trip to Comicon together in August 2012 at Rosemont. I was so excited that Pete had someone to go with so I wouldn’t have to go this year! For a brief moment, I saw my lady night of movies and popcorn and dog cuddling flash before my eyes until Jim Heely said, “Well, you’re going too.”

I looked at Jim, eyes sullen, and said, “Huh?” He basically told me that I wasn’t looking at it the right way. The message I got from Jim was to drop my attitude about the nerds at Comicon and to look at it for all of the cool things it offered instead of all the things I deem uncool about it: like the thousands of comics everywhere and the people dressed up in super-hero costumes.

I took Jim Heely’s challenge and decided to open my eyes to Comicon a little wider this year. While you probably won’t catch me in storm trooper costume or standing in line to buy the latest action figures, you will catch me at more of the interviews with the plethora of actors they have there and I was told there is some pretty cool art at this event as well. You will catch me better planning my trip this year so that I can have just as enjoyable experience as Pete and Jim will have. And since it’s a Vegan Comicon Field Trip, we are eating someplace vegan for dinner!


Would You Eat Your Dog or Drink Your Wife’s Breast Milk? Yep, I Didn’t Think So…

Have you ever had a moment where something really just rang a bell in your mind? Where something inside you went “ding” and you thought, “It’s time I tried that.” It’s often something you’ve been thinking about for a while and you’ve been thinking to yourself, “You know, I should really try that sometime.” When you have the thought of “should” in your mind, eventually should turns into “must”, the bell dings within you and you do what you say you should try. Should’ve, could’ve, must’ve and eventually turns into I’m going to try that right now.

I’ve been watching a lot of documentaries like this ever since I came back from my Colorado vacation in October 2011. When I was in Colorado, I was introduced to Whole Foods and organic eating. I was still an omnivore at the time. When I came back from vacation and went grocery shopping, I switched to almost all organic eating, meat, fruits, vegetables, dairy, the works. Not everything was organic, but I would say 90% of what I was eating was organic. At the same time I started watching a lot of documentaries like “Kitchen Rescue”, “Food Matters”, “Forks Over Knives”, “Food, Inc.” and “Raw For Life.” I’m waiting for another one to come out called “Hungry For Change” which will premiere on March 21, 2012.

I enjoy watching these shows because it’s changed the way I look at food. Most of these documentaries are available on Netflix and instantly available on the instant queue if you have a streaming-enabled TV or a gaming system like a Playstation, Nintendo Wii or an Xbox 360 like Pete and I  have. The information is at your fingertips. The question is, will you watch these documentaries, will they change how you feel about food, or will you walk out of the room when it’s on? Anytime I turn on one of these shows, Pete leaves the room. He can’t stand watching them. He’s watched one or two with me, and it’s like listening to them makes his skin crawl and he just wants to leave the room. These documentaries opened my eyes to what is in food such as genetically modified soybeans and corn. If you’re not eating organic versions of these, then chances are good you’re eating a genetically modified version—in other words, not in its organic state. These soybeans and corn are then fed to the cows, pigs and chickens to fatten them up quickly for slaughter. Cows are meant to eat grass and not these genetically modified foods. Genetically modified is also another way of saying cheaper production. If we can genetically modify a product we can produce it more rapidly and in a cheaper way because we can control its production. We are not only consuming the genetically modified soybeans in process foods that we buy, but they’re in the meat you’re eating as well.

Did you know that cows and chickens don’t stand around all day grazing on grass and basking in the sun? Nope, they stand around in their own fecal products in mega-crowded, dirty barns and coupes and are given antibiotics so that they don’t keep getting sick. Along with the genetically modified foods, these antibiotics and fecal products also wind up in the meat you’re eating.

These poorly treated animals are slaughtered and right before slaughter they experience fear which produces the hormone cortisol which effectively also winds up in the meat that you’re eating. If someone was going to kill you, you’d probably experience high levels of hormonal changes as well. So the genetically modified foods, feces, antibiotics and hormones are all in that package of steaks that you picked up at the grocery store. Having a side of non-organic corn with that as a vegetable or some steak sauce that contains soybean oil that’s not organic? Congratulations, you’re also eating the same diet that your main dead dinner course ate! Doesn’t that make you feel great? Go ahead, give me your reasoning that I hear all the time: “But Sara, it tastes good. And I’m not giving it up.” It’s your choice if you want to walk out of the room.

If you think that being vegetarian is much better then I disagree with you. Yes, you’re not eating the meat which is really good. However you’re still eating the animal by-products which have been altered by the animal’s diet. By continuously buying products from dairy and egg farms, you’re going to continue to support the farmer who is going to send that animal to slaughter when it is unable to produce the byproducts anymore that you are eating and drinking.

Vegetarians out there, did you know that cow you’re drinking milk from was injected with hormones to induce the animal to artificially produce milk when the cow hasn’t produced a calf to provide milk to? Cows, just like humans, are meant to produce milk after a baby or, in this case, a baby calf, is born in order to feed the calf. That milk is meant to grow the baby calf to become about nine times it’s initial size. If you’re a human, why are you drinking milk meant for a baby calf? And what’s worse is why are you drinking milk from a cow that was injected with hormones to produce milk in its udders so farmers can sell it to you to drink? The cow’s udders are sensitive and they aren’t meant to be milked for money.  I know, I know, you drink milk because it tastes good. It tastes good because it’s all you know. After birth you may drink your mothers breast milk and then are switched to cow’s milk. You know why it’s hard to give up cow’s milk? Because it’s all you’ve known for years. Are you open to giving plant milks a try? Oh Sara, I could never drink those. They taste nasty. They taste gross at first just like anything new because you’re not used to the flavor. If you’ve never eaten something before doesn’t it taste funky a first? Sure it does because you aren’t used to it. If you’ve been drinking cow’s milk for 20 or 30 years, it may take a few days to get used to drinking plant milk at first. But just like anything, are you willing to give it chance? Cow’s milk is meant to make a calf grow to nine times its original size. Are you a baby calf to grow to become nine times your original size? Are you now a full-sized cow? If you are a cow and reading this, then props to you because last time I checked cows couldn’t read and humans weren’t meat to drink calf milk…they were meant to drink human breast milk until they were ready to be weaned off and from there food can do the rest.

Let’s turn the tables for one minute and say that you’re a man and woman, married, with two kids. Let’s says cows go on strike and are standing outside factory farms with signs saying, “We’re not giving you our milk anymore.” The man looks at his wife and says, “Well we can’t get dairy milk anymore, so you’re our only option.” So the man takes his wife to a scientist and demands the following: “Please develop a hormone that will artificially produce milk in my wife’s breasts even though she’s not pregnant, then we can hook her breasts up to a milking machine, milk her and produce milk for our family, the rest of our world and maybe we’ll have enough for the cows to drink. This could be the latest craze if other men catch on!” Sound crazy? If you wouldn’t demand that of your wife, then why buy milk from a farmer’s cow? Because it tastes good? Really? Give something else a shot and be open to change. It tastes good because it’s acceptable by society because it’s all we know. If we all gave plant milk a chance it might also catch on and taste good and maybe someday that will be promoted instead of unnecessarily milking a non-impregnated cow or even better, your non-pregnant wife!

Animals have no rights because they can’t speak up for themselves. They are still beings who experience feelings like love and fear and they also have brains. Since they can’t communicate with us through language we take away their rights and invade them. All animals, including your pet cat or dog have brains, beating hearts and experience feelings. Would you eat your cat or dog for dinner? I’m guessing if you knew that your cat or dog was going to experience fear right before slaughter, you’d try and defend it. But would you defend a cow or chicken before slaughter? No you probably wouldn’t. Would you pump your cat, dog or even your wife up with hormones and drink their milk when they weren’t pregnant? As a grown adult, would you drink it right from the nipple? My guess would be no. My guess also would be that even if your wife had a baby, you’d leave the milk for the baby. You wouldn’t take your wife out to a cow farm and let a cow suck on her breasts to drink her milk for no reason, would you? No you wouldn’t. You’d tell me, “Well my wife’s milk is meant for our child.” And you’d be 100% right. So if a mother’s milk is meant specifically for their offspring, then why are you drinking cow milk that was meant for a baby calf? Because it tastes good? Please. Again, you do it because it’s what you’ve done for years and it’s all  you know.

What keeps the vicious cycle going? Marketing and advertising and the government all keep this vicious cycle going. If the government turned around one day and made an announcement that eating organic plants, vegetables, fruits and drinking organic plant-based milks and and even better more water was the best thing we could do for ourselves do you know how many people would jump on the bandwagon? Yep, lots of people would. We need a leader in our lives and why not follow the leader that we pay our tax dollars to? After all, they know what’s in our best interest right? We couldn’t possibly know.  We keep eating animals and dairy because the US government says we need to. Milk campaigns tell us we need to drink cow milk for calcium and eat animals for protein.

If the US government said jumping off of a 20 story high rise skyscraper with no parachute or net to catch you would do wonders for your health, would you do it? Or would you think to yourself, “Hey, maybe the US government doesn’t know what the best thing is for me.” The US government wants you to keep eating cows and drinking cow milk so that it can get tax dollars from large food corporations that care nothing about your health or  the animal’s health. The US government will gladly encourage you to keep eating genetically modified foods like soy beans so that it can benefit from large corporations like Monsanto. For the record the US government is never going to tell you to jump off of a high rise because it would be good for your health. They’d never recommend it because then they wouldn’t get your tax dollars to keep this vicious cycle going.

We’re hurting our animals and in turn we wind up affecting our health and well being because it’s all we know how to do. My goal in this post is to open your eyes to what’s actually in your food and to encourage you to watch one of these documentaries if don’t have time to read this extremely long post. I got all of my information from watching these videos. I have more information to give you, but I feel this is way more than enough for right now. If you watch just one of these documentaries then I’ve done my job. It’s obviously your decision what you do with the information. You can get up and leave the room even though you know what’s in your food which can affect chronic diseases and how you feel every day. I can’t imagine not wanting to protect yourself from heart disease, high cholesterol, heart attacks, cancer, strokes, migraines, etc. by changing how you eat simply because you’re not open to change. For the sake of your family and friends and your own health, please don’t walk out of the room if someone you know is watching a documentary like this. Please don’t turn a blind eye. You can keep promoting the vicious cycle of giving animals an inhumane life by eating their byproducts or eating the actual animal. I hope this post or these documentaries also opens up your heart. If we stopped eating meat and drinking dairy milk and eating chicken eggs  (which I didn’t talk much about in this post) and even better stopped eating the animals themselves, we would promote wellness for animals and stop supporting food corporations. Animals like cows, pigs and chickens are the same as your dog or cat or parakeet or your wife or kids at home. At the end of the day, we all have brains, hearts that beat and and experience feelings like love and fear.

I hope a bell rings in your heart and mind and that you’ll think about how you can help stop the vicious cycle of killing animals. It’s better for their health and also better for your health too. If you wouldn’t eat or drink from your own wife or dog, then why would you drink from a cow? Really, why not go visit a dairy farm, get down on the ground and drink directly from the cow’s udder? After your thirst has been quenched, take a taser and stun the animal and then stick the knife deep inside it. Following the slaughtering of the cow, grill it up in a pan and eat it for dinner. Would you do that to your pet or your wife? No I’m guessing not. And you’d never do that to the cow directly because that would be too difficult or painful or worse even, inhumane. Instead you’ll drive to the grocery store and pick up a gallon of pasteurized cow milk and a package of sirloin steaks because it’s easier to let someone else do the dirty work. It’s too difficult to watch the slaughter happen right in front of your eyes. And surely it’s disgusting to drink right from the cow’s udder. You’d probably rather drink it from a glass. Right?

I was no different than you. I ate steak and drank cow milk and ate eggs and never thought about what was really in my food or the animals I was hurting. Watching documentaries like “Food Matters” opened my eyes to what was in my food which made me switch to mostly organic foods. I went to a party at Christmas time that served nothing but vegan food and was meant to open some awareness to veganism and show that you won’t miss anything by going vegan. It showed me that I could still enjoy the food I was eating before, in a different way of cooking. In February I officially tried going vegan for two weeks. Then I had planned on switching back to my old ways if I didn’t enjoy it. It didn’t take me that long to get used to the change. I liked it so much that I switched to being a full organic eating vegan. My vegan journey took me a while to get to. I didn’t just switch over night. It took a lot of research and took me coming to a lot of realizations that the meat I was consuming and the dairy I was drinking wasn’t good for me.

Going vegan has not only opened my eyes to eating a plant strong diet eventually it opened an awareness to the animals I had formerly eaten. I felt more compassion for animals, the ones I have as pets and the ones I will never eat or drink from again. Veganism is about eating plant based foods but it’s also about respecting the lives of others. It’s been a process and journey and didn’t happen overnight which is why I say you have to be open to change and giving a lifestyle like this one a fair chance. My change started in October of 2011 and it’s taken me 5 months to get to where I’m able to write this blog post for you today. Once a bell dinged inside me, a light came on and I started to become more aware of food in general.

I hope this information makes a bell ding inside of you, opens your eyes and heart to animals and also your own health.

If you respect the life of your pets and your wife or husband, then why not respect farm animals? How are they any different from us? I encourage you to just give this a little thought.

With love for you, your family, your health and well being, your animals and all other animals out there, this blog post is dedicated to you!


Spiced Banana Pancakes Recipe!

Spiced Banana Pancakes

They taste as good as they look!

I met up with a vegan friend yesterday and commented that I had a taste for pancakes and hadn’t had any since I went vegan. My vegan friend said, “I’ll send you a recipe for vegan pancakes.” I thought I’d be waiting a while for these pancakes, but she sent me the recipe links on Facebook this morning. When I woke up and checked Facebook, there were two vegan pancake recipes waiting for me. Since she was so nice to send them to me so I’d have them when I woke up ready to eat breakfast the next morning, I figured I owed her the courtesy of trying one of the recipes right away.

I selected the Spiced Banana Pancake recipe. They are very dense, rich,and moist. Even if you’re not vegan, you will enjoy these. I did all the prep work and dish washing and Pete got the privilege of making them. Meat Pete did put some butter on his stack but these are so moist you really don’t even need it (vegan butter or dairy butter).

I had to share this recipe on the blog in honor of my really nice (never mean) vegan friend who opened my eyes to veganism and continues to be a wonderful resource for information and advice:

Warm up your morning with these sweet, flavorful pancakes.

By Robin Robertson | March 22, 2011

These sweet and sumptuously spiced pancakes aren’t afraid to take center stage at your next big breakfast—they’re the kind worth savoring over a second cup of coffee or tea.

Serves 4

What You Need:

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons sugar or natural sweetener
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1-l/4 cups soymilk or other dairy-free milk
  • 3 ripe bananas, peeled and sliced
  • Pure maple syrup or blueberry syrup
  • Fresh strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, for garnish

What You Do:

  1. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and allspice and set aside. In a food processor or blender combine the soymilk and half of the banana slices and process until smooth. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, mixing with a few swift strokes until just combined. Fold in the remaining banana slices.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or non-stick skillet over medium heat. Ladle about 3 tablespoons of the batter onto the hot griddle. Cook on one side until small bubbles appear on top, 1 to 2 minutes. Flip the pancakes with a metal spatula and cook until the other side is lightly browned, about 1 minute more. Keep the cooked pancakes warm in the oven while you prepare the remaining pancakes. Top with maple or blueberry syrup and fresh fruit as desired.

Click here for a link to the recipe source!


A Smoothie, Hamburger, Fries and Bacon…Oh My!!

I like smoothies a lot and will drink them constantly once the weather gets warm. There are days where my breakfast and dinner are simply a smoothie.

I had a smoothie for dinner this evening after a nice hike at Coffee Creek Watershed and Nature Preserve in Chesterton this evening. It took me about 5 minutes to put together and about two minutes to clean up. The best part is I got to spend time savoring my refreshing, tasty, nutrient-packed, low calorie and low fat smoothie. It was simple and easy.

My omnivore fiance, Pete, went for a hike with me. He came home and made a homemade hamburger, homemade paprika fries (which are vegan and really good when he gets them right) and some bacon to go on the burger. He uses a grill pan to make the hamburger, a small skillet coated in oil to make the fries and a baking rack covered with aluminum foil and a drip pan on top to bake the bacon in the oven with a coating of 100% maple syrup. So obviously, there’s a pretty unhealthy meal with lots of prep time, lots of clean up time and not really much eating time. I feel bad for him because he spends most of his time preparing the food and doing the dishes than he does enjoying the food or his evening.

I can’t claim to be totally innocent. I did have a few of his fries. So I did wind up benefiting from his time spent in the kitchen because I wouldn’t take the time to cook fries for myself. I’m lazy.

I recently watched a DvD on raw foods. One of the contributors on the show stated that he was glad that he ate nothing but raw foods because he had absolutely no kitchen knowledge whatsoever. I took as, if it couldn’t be blended up or put in a bowl immediately with minimal prep, then he wouldn’t eat it!

Here’s my smoothie recipe. If you’re not vegan then you can make it your own by adding the non-vegan version of the products I’ll mention below:

Tools needed: spoon (for protein powder), knife, blender, and a cup to drink out of! That’s it!


1. 6 ice cubes (use crushed ice or use your blender to crush the ice cubes)

2. Blueberries

3. 1 Banana

4. Strawberries

5. Spoonful of cold milled flax seed

6. A little bit of oatmeal

7. If you want to add greens you can always add a little kale or spinach (or other green leafy vegetable)

8. Almond milk (I use unsweetened and soy or rice milk work fine too)

9. Dark Chocolate Hemp Seed Protein Powder (it’s vegan and available from Whole Foods)

Final Step: Blend ingredients and enjoy!

Dish doing: WASH YOUR BLENDER RIGHT AWAY ONCE YOU’VE ENJOYED THE CONTENTS. The ingredients will stick to the blender if you leave it out and don’t wash it right away and that’s nasty to clean up.

Note from the chef (me): The chocolate protein powder really gives it a nice chocolate shake-like taste to it. This smoothie has a rich, creamy texture. If I make this in the morning, I’ll add some cold coffee to it to make it more like a chocolate berry mocha!

The only substitutions a non-vegan might make is using cow’s milk in place of plant milk. And the plant protein powder could easily be replaced by a an easier to find product in your grocery store like Muscle Milk which uses animal derived proteins. And honestly you could skip the milk (cow or plant) and just add water as your liquid base. You also could skip the protein powder too. I just really like the extra chocolate flavor!

Nice, easy, savory, healthy, vegan and non-vegan and super yummy! It doesn’t get better than that. On a hot summer night (in the middle of March) let your body digest foods that are easy on the system. Don’t burden or weigh your body down with a heavy homemade cheddar cheese maple bacon hamburger. Just eat a few fries after you’ve had your smoothie like I did and you’ll be all set to go! Delicious and nutritious and easy on the body!


Steppin’ Out with My Baby!

Tonight I ran one mile with my man. That’s right ladies…he’s a runner…so hands off…he’s all mine. Right now he is basking in the afterglow of his run, as every runner often does, in his or her own way. His way of basking is sitting down in front of the TV with a beer, fries and a homemade hamburger. That’s right you met him in Meat Pete and you’re still waiting for his second blog post that he’ll probably never write because he most likely forgot what he made. I remember though! That’s the problem when you date someone with a mind like a steel trap. I’m the person that remembers everything that you wish you could forget. I can be mildly annoying at times.

Pete and I are signed up to run Disney marathon as part of our wedding and honeymoon. Although probably not his most ideal choice: getting married in a corporate paradise and running a marathon to boot aren’t his top choices, he was a good sport about it.

Pete’s a good guy. He’s one of the kindest people I know that would do almost anything for you. This marathon may not be something he’s jazzed about but he is going to get ready for it and run it.

Tonight we decided to do our first official run together. I got home earlier than Pete and ran 2.5 miles. I was a rockstar. I had the Pink station blaring on Pandora. I may not have looked like a rockstar or sounded like one, but I sure felt like one! I picked Pete up on the way back and we ran his first mile together. Pete ran a 13 minute mile. He had pink cheeks and was a little out of breath afterwards, but he still did it.

Pete prepared for and ran a 5k last summer. It was his first race ever! I think he got into it from standing on the sidelines cheering me on at all of my races. After not running over the winter months, I was concerned that Pete would have some trouble on his first run getting back into things. Pete really impressed me. He ran the fastest mile he’s ever run. He may have counted down every tenth of a mile that was left but he kept going. He didn’t take any walking breaks. I was so proud of him.

I was even prouder to run next to him. It was great steppin’ out with my baby on this beautiful spring evening!


Sometimes You Gotta Go to the Party…even if there’s nothing there you can eat!

Pete and I attended the Northwest Indiana Triathlete’s party. We got an address to someone’s house we’d never met. We hopped in the car, flipped on the Magellan, input the address and drove off into the sunset…okay well…maybe not…although the sun was setting. We arrived at the subdivision and of course the Magellan announces that we have arrived. We are sitting in front of a person’s house, it’s dark and there are some balloons flailing from the mailbox. We thought that had to be it. After all, who the hell would put balloons on their mailbox if they weren’t having a party. The only reason I can think of is to give something to a disgruntled postal worker something to shoot at–target practice. We soon realized, however, that we weren’t on the right street. So…we turned around and backtracked to find the house. Thank goodness there was a giant banner plastered on the front entry way that said in giant letters “NWI Triathletes”.

What a warm and welcoming crowd! I was really nervous and went into my shy mode like I always do in unfamiliar situations. I tend to hide behind Pete. Only we weren’t there for Pete–we were really  there for me. Pete was there for backup. Once we were inside the beautiful house, we were surrounded by triathletes. Talk about feeling like a newbie in the crowd. That’s a hard place for me to be. I’m so used to being at the top of my game with dancing. It’s hard to be the worst athlete in the room. I was the person in the room that had read all the books and manuals but had none of the biking gear! I have a little bit of running experience which I’m not the greatest at, but that at least gave me something to talk about with people. I had to face the facts that I was the low (wo)man on the totem pole and the only way to go was up.

I found out a lot of great tips and information that night. I signed up for the club. The next step is going to be getting my butt to bed earlier so I can make these crazy swim practices on Thursdays and Saturdays at Omni that start a little too early in the morning for my tastes.

There was a lot of food at the party. I signed up that night. Pete was my wing man and didn’t sign up. Since there wasn’t any food I could eat at the party, Pete ate it all for me. He gobbled it down and waddled home like a penguin. So we both had fun!

Sometimes you have to force yourself out of your comfort zone and into a new situation. I was nervous about taking Pete since this was a party where there were a lot of athletic-minded people there and that’s not exactly Pete’s crowd. However, he did find someone to chat with about the Disney marathon so he was happy. I found out a lot of tips about bike buying and just got to talk to other triathletes and ask them some questions that I had.

If I hadn’t gone to the party I wonder if I would’ve signed up at all. The warmness of the people and the kindhearted, welcoming atmosphere made it so easy. You’ll never know if you don’t go to the party–even if there was nothing there I could eat. That’s why you take a buddy. They can eat food for you and help you feel more secure in an unknown world.


What’s the Whole Foods Hype About?

I go to Whole Foods on Kingsbury Street in Chicago every week to do my grocery shopping. Why do I go up to Whole Foods every week? I go for the selection and because it’s my “shopping” trip for the week.

I hate shopping malls. They make me sleepy. Take any mall and drop me in there and I will leave yawning my head off.  I get sleepy because going shopping for clothes, perfume, shoes, make up, jewelry and make up bore me. If I’m at a running store picking out new stuff that’s one thing: running clothes, running shoes, and Garmin watches are exciting to me. However, once you build up your running stock, there’s not much need to go back to the running store except for the occasional new pair of running shoes that wear out.

Food is something we need every week. Usually people will make a trip to the grocery store every week. A lot of people enjoy shopping for clothes, etc. at the mall. Whole Foods is like my trip to the mall. Food and nutrition interests me in the way that having the latest spring outfit and pumps interest women I work with.

I’m very interested in organic eating with a vegan focus. Sure the local grocery stores carry a few organic fruits and vegetables. Yes, I’m aware of a store called “Produce Depot” in Dyer, Indiana that sells organic produce. However, from where I live to Dyer, Indiana is about a 40 minute drive. From where I live to Chicago is about a 50 minute drive. I’ll take the 50 minute drive.

The Whole Foods on Kingsbury Street is, in part, about the experience. For one thing, it’s HUGE and the parking is FREE. Yeah you may have to circle a bit to find parking, but if you go at off-peak times parking is not hard to find, especially if you don’t mind parking on the roof which offers a great view of Chicago.

When you come down the escalators you are immediately greeted by an explosion of the freshest fruits and vegetables possible. So many colors, textures, and patterns tease your eyes and you can just feel the sweetness and crunchiness exploding from every fruit and vegetable in the place. It’s awesome! Most of their products fruits and vegetables have an organic and non-organic version. There are huge bunches of FRESH kale, rainbow Swiss chard, red Swiss chard, sprouts and herbs. Oh did I mention the herbs? There are huge bunches of fresh, organic herbs in their organic herb bulk bin. And no, I’m not talking about those pissy $4.00 packages of “fresh” herbs you mind at the grocery store that look dried up and halfway rotten by the time you get them…they’re pre-packaged and are ready to go, but have no flavor. Yuck! I love trying some of the “exotic fruits”. I had a strawberry papaya one week. It cost a pretty penny but it was really good! I found yams at Whole Foods. We shop at Town and Country and Remus Farms in Portage, Indiana and I’ve never seen a strawberry papaya or yams at either of those stores. I didn’t even know there was a difference between yams and sweet potatoes until a few weeks ago. The “organic” produce at Town and Country is sad. I bought some organic mushrooms there one week and they were slimy and already starting to get funky the next night I opened them. Just sad.

As you go through the store, you might bump into someone pushing a shopping cart with one hand and holding a glass of wine or beer in the other hand. This specific Whole Foods has a wine and beer bar and you can take your booze to go and drink IN THE STORE ONLY while you are shopping. Or you can hang out at the wine bar and split a non-vegan cheese plate (yes even I’ll admit wine and soy cheese probably aren’t the best combo) or you can catch the game and a pint at the beer bar! Hungry? Oh yeah, they’ve got an awesome eatery. That’s right! My favorite (because it’s the only one I’ve tried so far) is the grill. They have vegan Chicago-style dogs. How cool is that? My fiance Pete gets a regular Chicago style dog and I get a vegan dog and we’re both happy. I love having a place we can both go and eat and not have to worry about the junk and processed crap that’s in our food. I’ll bet you can’t say that about the mall food court!

Don’t feel like cooking? My running buddy goes up to Whole Foods with me to get a special treat: Soul Vegan restaurant’s mac ‘N Cheese and also their vegan lasagna. I love the lasagna. We about had a breakdown when we couldn’t find the lasagna and mac ‘N cheese because they weren’t in their usual spots. They are pre-made, single portion vegan meals. They also have a nice selection of other vegan ready-made salads, pizzas, cookies, etc. So if you are a new vegan like me, it offers you a great way to sample some vegan food that’s already made and introduce you to the not-so-scary and yummy world that is vegan!

Not a vegan? Not to worry–my fiance loves the uncured rosemary ham at the deli counter. There is a huge, mysterious cheese selection filled with cheeses from what looks like all over the world, but for all I know could be from Granny Mitchell’s farm in Switzerland County in Indiana and is labeled “Fresh from Switzerland”. And yes there really is a Switzerland County in Indiana. I think the population is around 6 or 7 people, but it really does exist!

If you’re looking for truly whole foods, then Whole Foods is an amazing place to go. I get excited about going every week. It’s my weekly thing that I look forward to. It’s fun to take friends to and also fun place to take a date…fiance or lady date!

I highly recommend Whole Foods to anyone. It’s not a hype. It’s just whole, nutritious foods and that’s a fact!