Thursday, December 22, 2011

Christmas Time 2011

I won't be blogging for a few days. 

I don't imagine I'll have time on Christmas Day, since Troy and I are seeing both our families that day. The days surrounding Christmas Day, are not as booked but I'm not confident I'll have any energy left  to write. I would sort of like to reserve any energy I have for family events. Tis the season.

My energy level and fatigue has improved. It took 3 days of napping and resting to recover from anything like this last year(being around other people is exhausting) and I suspect, it won't take as long to restore my energy. Go Brain!

But! Tonight, to kick off the holidays, Troy and I are hosting Vegan Christmas Dinner with our good friends, Katie and Riley!
Since they did The 30-Day Vegan Challenge with Troy in September 2011, we've been alternating who hosts dinner on Thursday evenings. It's been delicious!!

Today, I'm using the cookbook my dear, good friend, Lindsay got me for my 30th birthday, Vegan Holiday Kitchen by Nava Atlas! We're having Maple-Pecan Sweet Potatoes, Creamy Dilled Cucumbers, and Citrus-Roasted Tofu. For dessert, we're having Old Fashion Chocolate Pudding Pie from Vegan Pie In The Sky by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero. Made the pie yesterday. Should be amazing! 

Becoming Vegan

Becoming Vegan by Brenda Davis, RD and Vesanto Melina, MS, RD. was delivered around the same time as The Vegan Scoop. According to, they came in September 2010. Again, another great book with loads of information about vegan nutrition. Every vegan should have this book! Seriously.

I wasn't totally confident in my nutrition knowledge, so it was nice to have a reliable reference tool. I don't check that I'm 'doing it right' anymore. However, I did keep a scanned and printed copy of the nutrition guidelines, on my person, for 4 or 5 months. Just while I was brand new to this foreign lifestyle, and trying to introduce these new ideas(new to me) to my recovering brain.

I like to be an ambassador for veganism. Show people just how healthy and safe it can be. Granted, there is plenty of vegan junk food to be had. I had plenty, boy howdy!

Oreos are evil.

Okay, maybe not evil-evil, but it's definitely not ideal to eat half a bag of them! <embarrassed grin>
Certainly not healthy . . . other than no cholesterol . . . So yes, I didn't want to be a junk-food vegan, living on oreos and coke. In high school I was a junk-food vegetarian, living on Kraft Dinner. I have zero interest in going back to that life.

I also wanted to be able to answer people's vegan nutrition questions. No pressure! I remember being totally and completely stumped when my younger brother asked about complete protein. To be fair, this was asked when I had just begun to research veganism, and my severe brain injury was younger than a year. I know the answer now.
And here it is!
The Protein Myth and Vegetarianism  (audio podcast=8 minutes long) by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The Vegan Scoop: ICE CREAM!!

The Vegan Scoop by Wheeler del Torro, I purchased because life without ice cream seems unbearable!

Just so we're all on the same page here, I am 'lactose intolerant'. I prefer to say I was weaned, but whatever. 

I was told by a dietitian that I had to keep eating some small amounts of milk, or my body wouldn't be able to handle it. And where else could I get the calcium?!
I am disappointed that the dietitian wasn't able to point me in the right direction, in terms of where to get calcium. She didn't even mention leafy greens. She asked if I cooked, and when I said no, she just said that there's fortified orange juice. REALLY?!?
No encouragement to start cooking? No reference to anything else that has loads of calcium? Apparently, according to the dietitian I saw, just milk and fortified orange juice has calcium. COME ON!!! 
Disappointing. She could have, at the very least, told me about all of these calcium-rich foods, and encouraged me to cook. If I didn't, that has nothing to do with her! She did all she could. Passed on the nutrition information. She would've, at least, done her job. <sigh>

I freely admit, that I would always say yes to ice cream(and cheese), despite the agony that would come. I missed a lot of work because of stomach problems. I blame dairy. Since cutting it out completely, I've had 2 stomach aches. One of those stomach aches was from eating twelve pieces of baking.
That's right, hello gluttony! 

We didn't  have our Kitchenaid, at that point. Or any other ice cream maker. Well, that's not totally true. Troy's Auntie Karon makes ice cream for every Easter. Dairy ice cream, I should say. We probably could have borrowed hers . . .
Luckily we got the Kitchenaid Stand-mixer from Tyler for Christmas in 2010, so off, Troy and I went and got the ice cream attachment!

The Vegan Scoop has so many types of ice cream! Classics like vanilla and chocolate, and 'exotic' ice creams, like wasabi. I know, right! I won't even eat regular wasabi with sushi! Really good stuff! Variations are suggested for different ice creams, and there's a section of companion desserts to go with the ice cream. LOVE the butterscotch recipe! 

It is surprisingly easy to make ice cream with our Kitchenaid.

The best ice cream is pistachio.
Our adventure friends, Shannon and Scott, spent a month in India, and Shannon told us how amazing the pistachio ice cream was. We'd never had it. So we made some, it was exactly how Shannon described: Amazing! It's a bit off-putting because it does have a green tinge to it, but sooo ridiculously good! I also really appreciated that charts were included showing the fat differences between dairy and non-dairy ice  creams. Super interesting facts!

Now we make almond milk ice cream and take it to the Troy's grandma's farm for lunch and apple pie dessert. Troy's aunt and grandma are also lactose intolerant. I like think they enjoy not having terrible stomach aches hours later.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Talking Vegan To Strangers

One of the things that Colleen Patrick-Goudreau says, is that she makes sure that the topic switches to veganism during her conversations with strangers.
That sounds wonderful and everything, but I have this severe brain injury and . . .

At first, it seems like a lot of pressure to perform for 'the vegan cause'. You already know that my speaking skills are not always accessible to me, but I'm finding myself doing the very same thing. Despite my occassional lack of vocal finesse.

For example, this Fall while at the dentist, I asked the dental hygienist, if she could sometimes identify what she was cleaning out of people's teeth. She said, for sure she could. Especially meat, and popcorn kernels. Perfect!! She brought up meat!!! 
I told her that she shouldn't find any animal carcasses in my teeth. She asked if I was vegetarian, I told her that I'm vegan, and we talked nutrition for awhile. It was cool!

Not a lot of days later, I was taking a cab home from Wascana Rehab, and it came up again! The driver asked what I did last night and I began to tell him about watching
Forks Over Knives. I explained how the film was about the health benefits of eating only plants. I told him I was vegan. I had to explain the differences between vegetarians and vegans, but it was awesome!
I also like to make it perfectly clear to the wait staff at restaurants that I'm vegan. I always smile big when I tell them. I don't want to be one of those vegans, all mad, and angst-y.

When at Subway, and they ask what type of cheese I'd like, I smile and reply, "no, I'm vegan."
Once they find out I'm vegan, they sometimes tell me that they're 'only vegetarian' , I usually reply with, "Great! You're halfway there!" Big smile.

It's really cool to see that so many people actually want to talk about veganism. I sometimes get bummed out when it seems like no one wants to know the truth. It does get discouraging when people throw up their  hands and say, "I don't want to know!" But, as I was saying, I've been pleasantly surprised by the interest that many have shown! 
When people ask if being vegan is hard, I tell them honestly, "It was tricky to start, because it can seem like animals are in everything, but once I learned what to look for and got my new eating habits down, it's been delicious and simple."
Planting seeds!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Driving and I

I'm currently not driving.
Because of my brain injury, my driving insurer, SGI, requires my physician to fill out a questionnaire regarding my abilities. Namely, whether she recommends that I complete the written driving test, or just the driving assessment, or both, or that I should, or shouldn't drive, or what.
They sent the form back in the spring of 2010. One of my occupational therapists advised not to get it completed till I was psychologically ready to drive. I'm not.  
I still get anxiety in vehicles. Not as bad as before, thanks to counselling, but I still sometimes close my eyes at busy intersections.

I may have mentioned this before, and if I have, forgive me, my memory isn't great.
Troy was driving me to Metro Pet Market that Saturday morning for work. I hadn't had time to renew my driver's license(yes, I was that busy!), and we just had the Echo, and Troy's Harley, for motorized transportation. This was December 5 in Saskatchewan, we don't ride in the winter. Well, some do, I've seen them, but we don't. Troy needed the car that day, and I was working all day. Troy was driving me to work.
The collision happened in a quiet, residential intersection, 2 blocks from our house. How fucked is that?! 

We had a yield sign.
We yielded. Like we do at every yield sign, especially where we live. We have seen far too many people ignore them, with terrible results! We live near two high schools and we've seen how those kids drive. Damn rights, we yielded!
Now, I don't remember any of this. This is what Troy tells me, and I truly believe him. I really do. It wouldn't surprise me if Stand By Your Man, started to play in your mind. That's fine.
I would be lying, if I said I never wondered, even for a moment, if that was the case, but I really do trust Troy's driving. I still feel remarkably safe with him.
We yielded, and looked, and Troy says there was no vehicle coming to his left, he checked right, started to go across the intersection, and there was a Dodge Durango very close to his left window. We were t-boned.
We spun up the road, past the church and four houses, jumped the curb, through a hedge, hit a tree, and then slammed into the front porch of a house.
The Durango, I'm not completely clear what path it took, but my general understanding is that it jumped a curb, and took out a tree. The people in the other vehicle fled the scene. There was open liquor in the Durango, but they weren't caught till later that day, so couldn't be tested for drunk driving.

So that explains my anxiety about intersections.

I take cabs to whichever appointment I have. SGI pays the cab company for these trips. I have a file number.
As well, for picking up groceries if Troy and I can't go together. Those trips are at my cost. Luckily, I only have a 20 minute walk Extra Foods. Although, there's a lot of stuff they don't carry, like kale. But they do sell Daiya! I walk most places. I live in the perfect neighbourhood, with close access to most things.

I worked on the driving simulator at Wascana Rehab. The other vehicles in this simulator were driven by crazy drivers! Totally realistic in that way that real driving can be! No . . . this simulator doesn't use people to be drivers, the other vehicles were controlled by the computer.

I do get crazy anxious when in a vehicle for an extended period of time. For example, in the summer, we drove from Regina, Saskatchewan to Vancouver, British Columbia to visit friends and family. It was a great drive. Troy and I rocked out to LMFAO and Lonely Island, and listened many episodes of  Vegetarian Food For Thought for the 20 hour drive. I wasn't feeling overtly anxious. Nothing note-worthy. Other than sweating like a pig!
Which is a totally inaccurate idiom. Pigs don't sweat. This is why they're shown as dirty and muddy. Like elephants, they roll in the mud to cool themselves, keep bugs away, and protect their skin from sun damage. Sweating like a human, would be much more accurate. They also don't like to defecate where they sleep. Very clean non-humans!
Anyway! I was sweating badly, and for no real reason. I mean, it was hot out, but our current car(Matrix) has AC. I was also washing off my stinky armpits and reapplying pit stick at every bathroom break. Didn't seem to matter, I was a stinky mess. We had even packed some camping gear, so we could stop and camp on our way to Van. I stank so badly, that we stayed at a hotel in Castlegar, so I could shower and start over. Apparently, this was anxious sweating. It still happens. Hopefully, not for too terribly long.
I have been healing quite well and quick. Next summer, maybe I won't be sweating terribly.
It's nice to dream.

***update~Defeating My Driving Anxiety***