Lessons Learned on a Picnic Blanket in a Town of Twelve

Yes, there is such a thing as a town with only twelve people, and yes, it is as weird and as magical as it sounds. This little piece of heaven, which was right in the middle of nature, acted as a bit of a sanctuary for us recently when we took a break from the hustle and bustle of the city and headed out. Not only did we enjoy the great company and chats we had, but the dogs got to run free (as did we), we ate lots of delicious vegan food, and more importantly, this little outing turned out to be very transformative. Teaching me a few lessons along the way. 

For today's post and podcast episode, we're doing something a little different.

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When you decide to make such a big change in your life and diet such as going vegan, so many fears, myths and issues are swirling around in your head. Many of these can even keep you from going vegan for months or years as was my case, and one of the big ones, perhaps the biggest, is our partner in love and life. This brings up so many issues in us that it can often be the most detrimental aspect of going vegan, but it doesn't have to be, and that's what we're going to talk about in this post. I'm going to tell you why this question kept me from going vegan for years and why in the end it didn't matter. We're going to talk about some of the most common concerns, and I'll give you some tips for living with an omnivore after going vegan. We're going to talk about shopping, prepping, planning, cooking, going out, your in-laws and even raising kids, a BIG one.

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Tips for Dealing with a Resistant, Unhealthy Parent or Partner

I get it, family's tough. When we're on this journey to healthy eating and living, and especially as vegans, talking to family members can be even tougher. We've read so many books, watched so many documentaries, read blog posts and heard from the experts, and we want to quickly run to our loved ones and share what we've learned. That we've discovered the way to optimal health and that that way is through our plates. It's right when you start telling people they need to change their eating habits that the road gets rocky. Food is so personal and emotional to each and every one of us, that it's almost like asking someone to alter their entire life, move to another country or change their religion. Yes, it's that engrained, and it's so hard to try something different, especially if that something needs to be a permanent change, and not just a quick diet after the holidays.

It's especially hard if our loved ones have developed a somewhat unhealthy relationship to food, depend on it emotionally, and have started to become unhealthy. You would think that getting a scare or even just a recommendation at the doctor's office would inspire change, but sometimes it's just the opposite. Today we aren't going to talk about how to deal with a partner or family member who isn't vegan after you've already made this change (that's coming next week!), instead, I'm going to give you some tips for dealing with a parent, partner or other family members or friends who are unhealthy and very resistant to hearing you when it comes to changing their habits and their food.

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Maple and Mustard Glazed Tempeh with Crunchy Pistachios and Scallions

I've received a lot of awesome little gifts since going vegan. Most have to do with the meaning of this journey and the things it started to shift in my life. Others are in the culinary department. What people don't know before going vegan, myself included, is that you actually start discovering lots of new foods you had never tried before and that will soon become your new besties. Forget deprivation, after going vegan our meals were bursting at the seams with new foods and ingredients we had never cooked before.

Were it not for gong vegan I would have never discovered the magic of a gooey chia seed which makes my yogurt parfaits so much more fun. I wouldn't have discovered the culinary magic that is kale, or that tofu wasn't the initial bland blob I thought it to be. Another discovery I will forever be grateful for is tempeh. 

For those of you who might not know about this magical little ingredient which has its origins in Indonesia, it's a very firm "cake" made out of fermented soybeans. I know, it doesn't sound like anything you want even touching your fridge, but trust me, it's one of the most delicious sources of vegan protein out there!

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Grocery Day Meal Prep

You've heard me talk about the weekly habit that has changed my life in the kitchen the most many times in this blog. Sometimes I've called it batch cooking, sometimes I've called it meal prepping, sometimes I've called it my one pot of beans, one pot of grains ritual, sometimes I've called it the lifesaver, the money saver, the time saver, the sanity saver. We even have a whole section dedicated to this in our online program, with new batch cooking sessions coming soon. It doesn't matter how you call it, it can change your life and your way of eating! Why? Because you invest a little time in it, but it saves you 5 times as much throughout the week. It helps you build quick and delicious meals, and it helps protect you against the "I have no idea what to make for dinner brain fog syndrome". 

I first learned about this little weekly habit from Alicia Silverstone and her book The Kind Diet. In it, she talks about how making a pot of beans and a pot of grains a week can save you so much time the following one. It doesn't mean you'll be eating beans and rice every day, it means you have a sturdy base, already made for you to add additions or transform it into delicious dishes. A pot of beans and a pot of grains suddenly gets transformed into bean burritos with all the fixings, a seven layer dip, a veggie bowl, a big salad with tons of layers, veggie burgers, you get the idea.

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Dealing with Difficult Emotions, Depression, Sadness or Anxiety after Going Vegan

One of the topics I get the most questions about here at Brownble are the vegan side effects, aka, what are some of the symptoms you might experience when switching to a vegan diet. I talk a lot about the physical changes you might experience when going vegan in this post, and I also cover some of the special, more emotional side effects of going plant based in this post, but today I wanted to talk about a comment and question that has been popping up quite frequently these past few months. It's the question of whether or not it's normal to experience difficult emotions, sadness, anxiety or depression when you go vegan. 

There are so many resources when it comes to physical health and some of those physical changes one might go through, we hear endless talks about improvements in bloodwork, changes in digestive health, among others, but you know me, I love to give it to you straight, and since I consider talking about the negatives just as important as talking about the positives, and since I also consider mental health and well being just as important (and part of) physical health, I thought it was time to talk about these issues.

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Scandinavian Hygge and Why you Need to Start Practicing it Immediately!

After a little break from the podcast last week, and after a very deep and personal topic in our most recent Body Image Series, I thought it was time for some comfort. Yes, we're going to talk about delicious comforting food, but we're also going much deeper into the world of "comfy". Today I'm teaching you about my favorite word/philosophy/perfect new winter hobby: hygge. Hygge (pronounced /hiu-guh/) is one of the reasons I love Scandinavian culture. I love their design, their decor with those earthy tones and pops of color in just the right places. I love their architecture and practicality. I love their education philosophies and strategies, as well as their simple way of living, but after discovering Hygge it was like a window opened up into their uniqueness and I realized: "ahhh.. this is why they're so cool and so happy!". I was in on their secret and today I'm sharing the Hygge love with you!

So what is Hygge anyway? Hygge, now finally in the Oxford English Dictionary, is defined as "a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being (regarded as a defining characteristic of Danish culture)". Here's another definition: "a type of lifestyle practiced in Denmark where the focus is on simple pleasures, comfort and coziness, and spending time with friends and family." (Macmillan Dictionary). In other words, it's a philosophy or a way of life that inspires you to do everything you do while making sure you're feeling cozy when you do it.

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Vegan Nutella for Hopeless Romantics

When we were thinking about what recipe to post for Valentine's Day this year, I was lying in bed really late at night, and suddenly it came to me. The recipe Carlos has been begging me to make for ages and I never got around to. I mean what's more romantic than finally listening to your very patient husband?

The next day, at midnight, I got in my little bunker (aka. the kitchen), put on an episode of Friends (more like 4!) and started testing.

The kitchen looked like The Hulk had been cooking there because I think I went kind of nutty (no pun intended although there were plenty of nuts around!). I was trying a recipe with the hazelnuts toasted, another with them un-toasted, one with just cocoa and two more with cocoa and chocolate, one with melted chocolate alone, one with a little maple syrup, another with a lot of maple syrup. You name it, I had a station filled with little samples and varieties. Yes, I said this happened at midnight so by the time I was done I was "drunk" with the smell of toasted nuts, and experiencing a very fun sugar-y high. I used up all the dark chocolate I had in the house, had Carlos testing spoonfuls every 5 minutes (there were no complaints!), and finally I got to this recipe. 

As if it weren't enough, and I blame batches 3 and 4 for this idea, Carlos came out and said "I bet this would be great in a crepe!".

Oh boy... bet you can guess what happened...

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