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Argentina and a health update.

20 Apr

Recently, when people have asked me how I am feeling, I can honestly say that I am feeling better!  I am certainly not 100%.  I still have to sleep a lot and have at least one or two days every week where I feel crappy.  But seriously, who knew knew I would come this far?!  It is incredible.

As far as my diet goes, I am keeping vegan at home.  And once a week or so I will eat some wild fish or some dairy.  Still no interest in chicken or meat.  Of course I am still gluten free, corn free, and soy free.

Mark Burnett, who produced The Bible series (If your family has not seen this…do yourself a favor and watch it.  It is INCREDIBLE!  It will spawn a lot of conversations with your kiddos.  If your kids are small, you should watch it first to make sure they can handle everything in it), spoke on Dr. Oz about how Jesus ate.  He spent years doing intense research in making this show Biblically accurate.  I was thrilled that his conclusion was that he ate a plant based diet, lots of beans, veggies and fruits, a little dairy, and fish.  This is almost exactly how I am eating.  Why wouldn’t I want to eat exactly as He did?  And as a bonus, he only drank water and red wine.  Now THIS is a diet I can handle!  😉

In mid March, our family was blessed with the incredible opportunity to go to Luck’s homeland…Argentina!  We visited family and explored Buenos Aires with his parents.  It was a perfect trip on all accounts.  We were able to find gluten free foods for the kids and for me the entire time.  I stayed vegetarian (nearly impossible to stay vegan and gluten free) except for one, glorious steak.  Argentina is known for BEEF!  I had to indulge once.  I split one steak with the kids and it was a perfect amount.  The kids were just a perfect age for taking in another culture.  We MAY have eaten dulce de leche all day every day.  But as they say, “When in Argentina….”

We came very close to not going.  I came down with the flu on Friday (we left on a Tuesday).  By Sunday (TWO DAYS BEFORE LEAVING), Reid was throwing up, both kids had fever, I was horribly sick, and Lucky felt like he was getting sick.  We prayed for health.  We didn’t want to cancel.  By Monday, everyone but me was fine. But we still didn’t know if we were going to cancel.  By Tuesday(the day we flew out), I turned a corner.  God allowed this trip to continue!  We were so very grateful!

It is amazing to think that I have come this far in my health quest.  PLEASE encourage anyone you know with any kind of illness to try eating plant based.  I feel like my life has been saved.  Remember back when I started this?  I felt it was where God was leading me.  People thought I was nutso!  And I am!!  But this is real.  My illness is real.  And these vegetables have truly given me the ability to travel with my family, to be a part of life, and to start to feel more like myself.  I will take a few days a week in bed.

I am so very grateful!


Homemade Lara Bars and an Update.

18 Feb

Ah, Lupus.  I have months of feeling well and then bam!  Sores in my nose, face breaking out, joint pain, insomnia, weight gain, mental confusion, and on and on…

I have had this theory that the reason I wasn’t flaring was because of the diet, combined with my proactive sleeping.  Even when I didn’t feel like I was going to die, I was taking lots of naps and staying in bed often. But then I way overdid myself a few weeks ago.  I tried to test my theory, I guess (not really, I just happened to have a lot going on).  Looks like I proved it correct!  This time, at least.  It isn’t easy because the inner me is still super active!  I forget that person is gone.

Lesson learned.  Ready for this flare to end.  It has already subsided a little.  But I still have all of those symptoms.  And am super exhausted.

Now, on to a recipe!
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We have a good number of grocery staples that just go in the cart every time we go to HEB.  Almond milk, OJ, gf bread, fruits and veggies, refried beans, and Lara bars.  No matter what, we almost always need more of those things.

A friend made me some home made Lara bars a few months ago.  I loved them and kept meaning to make them myself.

Finally, I did.  And BOY am I glad!  Homemade are just way, way better!  We all like boxed  Lara bars except Reid.  He will eat them, if he is asked.  But they are not his favorite.  However, he LOVED these!  I think it is the Mexican vanilla, the right amount of salt, and the tiny chocolate chips that makes these super.

So before you grab a box at the store next time, grab some nuts and dates and give these a go!  And if you are looking for a great breakfast or snack item, look no further.  Just tell your kids you made chocolate chip cookie dough bars!

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Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Lara Bars

  • 3 cups of nuts: I’ve done half cashews, have walnuts and all walnuts.  But you can also do peanuts or anything else.  Play with the combo.  Just stick with raw nuts and not salted and roasted.
  • 2 cups of packed dates
  • 1 tsp of water (or more, if needed)
  • 2 tsps of a good Mexican vanilla (NOT artificial vanilla flavoring, if possible)
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup mini dark chocolate chips
  • My latest version also had 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes and 1/4 cup chopped dried cherries. PLAY WITH YOUR ADD INS!  You can do raisins, flax seeds, dried blueberries, cinnamon chips, anything!

Grind the nuts and salt in a food processor for a 3-5 seconds.  Add the dates and grind away for about 15 more seconds.  Pinch your mixture.  Does it fall apart?  If yes, then turn your processor back on and add in a teaspoon of water.  Repeat, if needed.  Now, add the 2 tsps of vanilla.  It should have formed one giant clump of goodness.  Now dump that into a bowl and add in your dark chocolate chips.  Stir the mixture until everything is well combined.

Lay parchment paper or a Silpat on your cookie sheet and using slightly wet hands, press the mixture into a big rectangle, leaving space on the sides.  I used the margins of the Silpat as my guide in this pic, but the next time around, I made the rectangle smaller and cut them into thicker bars.  Do whatever floats your boat.  THIS PART IS OPTIONAL, but will make transferring easier. I did the last few batches without this step and prob won’t do it in the future: Stick the cookie sheet in the freezer for 15 minutes.  Then pull it out, cut, and wrap in plastic wrap.  From here, throw all of those wrapped bars in your freezer and Voila!  Breakfast/snacks are finished!

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A few notes….play with this recipe.  Mix up the nuts and the add-ins.  In my perfect world, I would have done dark chocolate mini chips with chopped dried tart cherries.  But alas, this was for the family, not just me.  Also, add cocoa powder for a chocolatey punch.  You can’t mess this one up!  Also, GO BUY A SILPAT IF YOU DON’T HAVE ONE!!  We easily use ours anywhere from 2 – 10 times per week.  Roasting veggies, baking anything, and then using them for things like this.  Well worth the $20!  Then you don’t have to wash the pan!  Just the liner.

Something fishy is going on here….. (and a meal plan)

20 Jan

Yes, it is.  Right now, on a very seldom basis.  But it is.

Now that I have gone a year and a half remaining pretty strict, it is time I start seeing where the line is.  Do I need to be ALL VEGAN ALL THE TIME?  Or can I have some animal here and there and remain in a healthy state?

A few things to clarify.  First off, I am only going to eat wild, fresh fish.  No farm raised. I only want to consume that which is not inflammatory to the body.  Secondly, it will be very rare at the beginning.

I hesitated to even bring it up on this blog bc a lot of you are trying plant based eating to  heal diseases, as well.  Please hear this:  I HAVE BEEN TOTALLY STRICT FOR A YEAR AND  A HALF.  This has allowed my body to heal an enormous amount.  I am now going to play around a little bit.  My sweet husband is charting everything.  I will continue to report back here so you know the results.  How fun would it be for me to be able to add some foods in occasionally?  Lets just hope that Lupus cooperates!

This week will still be a vegan week.  It isn’t a normal week….so I won’t be cooking much.  But it is good to have a plan no matter what your week looks like.  This will avoid the pitfalls of grabbing something unhealthy.  Have a healthy week!

  • Sunday- Reid is planning an outdoor meal and preparing it for  his Cubs Scouts badge.  He is cooking sausage (uncured, all natural) and making a fruit salad and serving it with grape tomatoes.  I will have roasted kale in place of sausage.
  • Mon- Roasted Vegetable quinoa salad, prepare by Gretchen
  • Tues- Leftover butternut squash risotto.  Made this as a family last night.  We all enjoyed it so much and I LOVE that the kids are finally coming around to eating things they didn’t before. Keep feeding your kids veggies, people!  It will happen!
  • Wed- Bean quesadillas.  Just good and simple and easy and cheap!
  • Thurs- Greek food out, possibly something else.  I just need something quick and easy this night.
  • Fri- A girlfriend is coming in town….so I am off the hook!  Kids and Luck will do something fun.

Your turn!  What are you eating this week?


Tips for a Healthy 2013!

1 Jan

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It is a new year!  A time for fresh resolutions and determined resolve.

Today, I started off with teaching Pilates and am now embarking on a fast.  Not sure how long I want this water fast to last.  Maybe just to sunset.  Maybe tomorrow.  Maybe a few days.  (can you hear my tummy growling from your house?)

My health goals: Get back to eating plant strong.  Not just vegan, but LOADS of plants.  Crowding out my plate.  I would also like to move further in Pilates and go through Reformer training.  Some day I would love to have my own Pilates studio and I would like to start working towards that.  I also want to make a concerted effort to get off of Prilosec. The last man standing in the meds.  It may be over the counter, but I still want off.

So what are your goals?  Want to join me in kicking off 2013 right?  You don’t need to fast.  Or eat plant based.  Or eat gluten free.  Or exercise like a maniac.  Here are my suggestions for getting healthy in 2013:

  • Drink a smoothie every morning.  Blend almond/coconut milk, frozen collard greens (or kale or mustard greens) with frozen berries, milled flax seeds, and a banana  (If you need it for flavor and sweetness.  I prefer without.)  Add some cinnamon and vanilla for flavor.   I believe that THIS IS THE CORNERSTONE OF MY HEALING.  Every morning, without excuse, I make this.  And I drink this.  And my body is saying thank you in SO many ways!  Read here for my GREAT START SHAKE recipe and here for a little tutorial!
  • Make a really healthy soup on the weekend and eat it as your lunch all week long.  That way, you aren’t pulled into snacking on your kids leftovers or something you really know you shouldn’t eat.  Include tons and tons of veggies in your soup!  Some ideas: vegetable rice soup, butternut squash soup, vegetarian pho, lentil soup, black bean soup, and so many more!!!  I will post more soup recipes, if you would like!
  • Aim for more and more meatless days every week.  Start out with 1 or 2.  You will soon see that you don’t need meat to be strong, have energy, or anything else that the world tries to sell you on.  I am LIVING PROOF, people!  Don’t know what to make?  Start here for tacos.  Then peruse my blog and many, many other recipes on the great www.  Why meatless you say?  Because more and more and more research every day shows that we consume way too much animal protein.  Animal is inflammatory to the body.  Our chickens and pigs and cows are not fed what they ought to be fed.  They are fed to make them fat for not a lot of money.  Do your research on this. I ate a healthy diet of lean, organic (when possible) protein with lots of fruits and veggies before.  I was SO SICK.  Off all of the animal, my body is healing itself without meds.  What argument is there that we NEED meat?  I am strong and still teach weight lifting classes!  Don’t buy into the “you need protein from animals” bit!!! 🙂
  • Watch Forks Over Knives and every other food documentary you can get your hands on.  Most are free on Netflix.
  • Eat a grapefruit at night instead of junk.  Why?  Nothing magical. It is just good and if you start, you will become as addicted as I once was and soon hope to be again.  You have to take your time and work for those little bites!  Oh, and get used to them without sugar.  Buy ruby red ones.  They help!  Then squeeze out the remaining juice and drink it straight from the bowl.  Heaven!
  • Get your hiney moving.  Join a gym, come to one of MY classes (!!), start walking your neighborhood, buy a treadmill.  Just get moving.  Write up your plan, put it on your fridge, tell your kids and spouse so that you have some accountability, and DO IT!
  • Meal plan!  I will resume posting my meal plans if YOU will join along!  I always think through it on the weekend and post it on Sunday.  You will eat so much healthier if you will just plan ahead.

So…please share!!!  What are YOUR goals for the year?  What would you like to see on this blog?  Please comment.  I see how many hits my blog gets and would LOVE more than anything for you to  say hi when you pop in.  🙂


Happy New Year!

Why I haven’t posted as much and a meal plan!

4 Nov

I know I have not been posting much….I am just in a weird place.

I am NOT in a flare!!!  Yay!  What this means is that most of the time I feel ok, occasionally I feel good, and some of the time I feel like crap.  I am napping less and can be more involved with the family.  I am SO thankful for this because the last 6 months seemed pretty brutal to me.

What I am not happy with is something that is never comfortable to talk about.  But it is part of my journey and I would not be completely honest if I didn’t write about it.

It is that ugly thing no female wants to talk about.  Weight.

For some ANNOYING reason, I am still eating the exact same way and exercising the same amount  and I am gaining weight.  Isn’t that lovely?  While everyone in the room can down meat and cheese and bread, I am over here eating veggies and fruits and nuts and “cheeze,” and yet I am the one gaining weight.  I am now teaching 6 exercise classes a week.  I am not sitting on my butt popping bon bons.

Before you ask, yes, I have been tracking my calories just to make sure I was not 1) eating too much or 2) not eating enough and starving myself.

I go in this week for blood work.  I am getting everything checked.  A month ago I had several lab results come back off.  We are checking those, as well as thyroid, hormones, and many more things.  I pray that this will reveal what is going on.  My body FEELS like I am on prednisone again, only I am NOT!  If everything comes back normal, then I just pray that my doc listens to me about this and helps me keep digging.  I know my body.  Very well.


  • Sunday: Reid’s bday and he wants egg-in-the-holes for dinner.  I will eat some foods I am practicing for my cooking class.
  • Monday: Tomato soup and grilled cheese.  I now make the tomato soup with only a small amount of olive oil.  HOLY COW, I am CRAVING this stuff again!  I seriously can’t wait!!!
  • Tuesday: Mashed potatoes and cauliflower, served with peppered peas and roasted carrots.
  • Wednesday: Gretchen is making a tomatillo crock pot invention.  YUM!
  • Thursday: Leftovers
  • Friday: pizza night

Now it is your turn!  What are YOU eating this week???


Meal plan and update.

30 Sep

Well, I had one good week and then have had some pretty terrible days.  But I am SO grateful for the week!  I am praying that my bad days were spawned because of a meal that I ate on Thursday.  I am pretty sure it must have had MSG and that it took it’s toll on my body for a few days.  Sick as a dog!  The fever and fatigue returned full force, as well as stomach aches.  This week will be better.  I just know it!  Here is our meal plan:

  • Sunday: Greek style quinoa salad (with grape tomatoes, kalamatas for some, and feta for some) and fruit.
  • Monday: Homemade refried beans with Spanish rice (which I will  make with no oil and with veg broth) and a green salad.
  • Tuesday:  National Night Out!  Our street corner is having a block party cook out.  So fun!  I will be having these because 1) they are good and 2) they are one of the few veggie burgers that are not only vegan, but also gluten free.  We will bring watermelon to share.
  • WednesdayVietnamese Summer Rolls, with mango and sweet chili dipping sauce for us and Hokensons.  I really like the mango in these and sometimes add avocado.  They are usually a big hit with the whole family.  Served with fruit salad.

  • Thursday: I have a night out with a few friends, so the family will have egg in the holes.  So cute that this is what they have when I am out.
  • Friday: pizza night!

YOUR TURN!  What is your meal plan for the week?

Huge news about a small spot! (and a meal plan!)

23 Sep

So, about 3 years ago I noticed that I had a spot on my scalp where my part is.  It was right at the hairline.  I won’t go in to details…but it bothered me and wouldn’t go away.  I finally went in to a dermatologist. He looked at it, determined it was precancerous, and froze it off.

Within a few months, it was back.  And it wasn’t happy.  But there was not much I could do about it.  I did my best to ignore it.  But it was annoying and would bleed.  Like I said, it wasn’t happy.

Once I got the Lupus diagnosis, we realized it was just a Lupus spot.  If that first doctor had only biopsied it, he would have know that it was NOT, in fact, precancerous.  And he could have given me a head start on my Lupus diagnosis.

Being on the Lupus meds made zero difference with my spot.  Once I got off of the meds, I didn’t know if it would get worse. The fact of the matter was, it didn’t change.

Until this week.  When Lucky and I noticed that for the first time in literally years, IT IS COMPLETELY GONE!!!!!!

After this flare that has lasted a good 6 weeks or so, I needed some encouragement that my diet is actually working. And boy did I get it!  My body is HEALING!  From the inside out.  Healing!  Enough to take that spot/scab away.  I may still have flares and get viruses more often, but something good is going on in there!

So, on to what we are eating this week.  Since it is Gretchen’s cooking week and I have my bean burgers frozen, I am getting an easier week.  One more week ’til our kids are on fall break!  Woohoo!

  • Monday: Gretchen is making these vegan sloppy joes
  • Tuesday: Black bean burgers with broccoli slaw (yay for meals that I have made ahead and frozen!)
  • Wednesday: Big ‘ole pot of crockpot pinto beans with cilantro lime rice and guacamole.
  • Thursday: Leftovers or quesadillas
  • Friday: Eating out!  Yay for a night off of cooking!

What is on your menu?  Link to recipes so we can all get ideas!


Psalm 103:1-5

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
 Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.