I have a big announcement for you all. If the title wasn’t giveaway enough, here goes.
I have officially decided to start my vlogging career on YouTube! As an avid follower of so many influential YouTube stars, especially in the vegan vlogging community, I have been wanting to make this move for a while.
I kept making excuses as to why it wasn’t the right time, but I thought enough was enough, and just did it. Everyone has gotta start somewhere. Am I right?
For those of you unfamiliar with how vlogging works, I have linked below my personal inspiration.
In short, vlogging is simply blogging, but in video form. I believe it to be more interactive, more creative and overall more impactful.
As much as I love writing and reading blog posts, I know how this day and age works, why BuzzFeed has become the mecca of all insight. People don’t want to read pages of content when they can put in much less effort and stare at a screen to be entertained. I wouldn’t say it’s necessarily a bad thing, but merely a natural, evolutionary shift in media viewing.
I hope to continue with this blog site, and simply intertwine the two platforms. I post a video, I write a corresponding blog post equipped with recipes, discussion, etc. Just consider this an expansion of the CHOWIDO brand.
I present to you my first ever vlog! Enjoy :) I highly encourage you to subscribe to my growing channel, so you can stay up to date with my latest ventures!
Happy Tuesday, or as the world of social media likes to call it, #TransformationTuesday.
This is the elected day of the week where it is deemed socially acceptable to post photos of yourself from the past, maybe next to a more current one if you’re going for the full effect. Often times, you’ll see photos of people from a younger, quirkier age, or within the health/fitness social media community, maybe a darker, heavier time in their lives.
Being the veganista that I am, my mind naturally wanders to the incredible mind, body and spirit transformation that veganism has brought me, a true englightment.
Among all the incredible things this lifestyle has provided me, it has given me gifts of the physical sort. The abundant plant foods I have consumed over the past 2+ years have given me the strength to continue exercising, but also to effortlessly stay lean while eating as much as my heart desires (high-carb, low-fat whole plant foods).
I noticed the biggest difference in my overall body composition right off the bat, within the first few months of altering my lifestyle, but looking back through photos, I realize that the change has been continuous.
Since all animal products are inflammatory foods, immediately going from constant consumption to none at all will have quite a dramatic effect on your whole system. Your body will immediately start running more efficiently without the previous disruption it dealt with prior. For more information on the inflammation animal products cause, check out nutritionfacts.org.
After living a life of 20 years consuming animal products, you better believe it may take at least a couple years to completely detox your body. The changes I may be enduring now I don’t even notice, as I am living in my body all the time, but when I start putting photos together from years past and recently, I’m once again taken back by how powerful this lifestyle is.
To remind you, I did not transition from a conventional unhealthy lifestyle at all, but that of a conventional “healthy diet” with low-fat and lean animal products and daily cardio. I was living my life as healthy as I knew how prior to finding veganism, when sh*t got real.
As I write this post about physical transformation, I must remind you all that veganism is far more than the aesthetic it provides you. Going vegan incomparably benefits your health, the environment and all the living beings of this beautiful planet. It’s a lifestyle that promotes peace, compassion, sustainability and prosperity for all. A true beacon of hope to save the world as we know it.
I’ve compiled a few photos comparing my pre-vegan and vegan self. For reference sake, I went vegan July 5, 2013. Enjoy!
Physical changes not visible in photos:
Softer, clearer skin (face and body)
Softer, stronger hair
Clearer, easily-focused mind (ultimate ADD/ADHD healer)
Higher energy levels
Reduced headaches (used to get them all the time!)
We have all heard that your exterior can say a lot about what’s going on in the inside, and most of the times that is exactly the case. As much as I trust the system by how I look and feel everyday, I wish more than anything I could get a glimpse into what my insides looked like before and what they look like now. Now that would be a real #TransformationTuesday if I’ve ever seen one.
Greetings! I hope a delectable weekend was had by all, and your week of classes (college students out there) or work (the sad working folk…jk) starts splendidly.
I just returned earlier this evening from an extended weekend trip to the Norfolk/Virginia Beach area to firstly, drop off my brother for his freshman year of college, and secondly, to visit my good friend Melanie, a native to the area.
Melanie and I have been attempting to coordinate for what seems like the entire summer for my visit to her neck of the woods. Being the overachiever that she is, she had our weekend planned to a tee. She had been researching all the best vegan spots in the area all along to ensure I had the best vegan-fied Virginia Beach experience. Everyone I would excitedly tell about my planned VB trip and the vegan adventures it would probably entail would naturally ask if Melanie was vegan too. My response: Nope. She’s just a really good friend that cares a lot. :) These are the type of people you want to keep around, folks.
My family and I left Thursday morning for Norfolk and headed straight to my brother’s university.
We moved him in Thursday evening, finished settling him in Friday during the day, and I met up with Melanie Friday night for dinner and the start of our V(egan)B weekend together.
Friday night’s dinner was at Luna Maya, an AMAZING very vegan friendly Mexican restaurant in Norfolk right off Colley Ave., the street of restaurants.
Yes, Mexican restaurants are usually pretty easy to order a vegan meal, but this place sets itself above the rest. It offered vegan quesadillas, multiple vegan burritos, vegan enchiladas, etc. We ended up ordering their chips, guac and mojitos to start, as we heard rave reviews on both. After a highly difficult decision, I chose the vegan enchiladas as my entree. Everything was to die for (but cruelty free of course!). Luna Maya is hands down one of the best Mexican restaurants I have ever been to, and that’s saying a lot coming from this Mexican lover.
The next amazing meal of my trip was Saturday’s breakfast, spread out through out the morning. Our first stop was Bad Ass Coffee, a Hawaiian themed coffee shop right next to the Old Beach Farmer’s Market, a favorite of Melanie’s and equipped with vegan, gluten-free, and paleo goodies galore. I ended up getting an almond milk iced latte. Amazing.
We then made our way over to the farmer’s market, and discovered My Vegan Sweet Tooth. This is an all vegan bakery that began online by two sisters local to the area. My Vegan Sweet Tooth has everything from cookies to cakes to donuts to sweet breads and any other bakery good you could imagine. They have recently expanded to a store front, but are still consistent farmers market vendors. Although I’m usually not one to be about high fat, high sugar foods, Melanie highly encouraged I splurge on this treat weekend. I picked up some of their Apple Cider Donut Holes, and they were highly enjoyed by myself and all who I shared with.
One of the sisters, Renee, manning the booth was extremely helpful as we asked for suggestions on other vegan places in the area to go, perhaps even for dinner that night. She gave us an array of options, and ones that Melanie somehow didn’t even seem to catch on the internet during her time of intense researching. It’s undoubtedly refreshing to meet other vegans. It just makes my heart happy.
This place is a local favorite, known for their acai bowls. Melanie is well aware of my obsession with smoothie bowls, and how they serve as my latest and greatest breakfast staple, so she figured this spot was ideal. She was very right. We both got the PB&J bowl fixed with whatever toppings we liked. The base is acai, banana and soy milk, and my toppings consisted of coconut, almonds, and granola. Melanie also added strawberry and banana.
After our tummies were stuffed with deliciousness, our next venture of the day was the beach! We crossed the street from Melanie’s big girl apartment complex to Chick’s Beach, a rather low-key, local beach area. It was a bit overcast, but we still enjoyed our time in the sun, sand and waves. It’s so crazy to me still that this is Melanie’s normal. I always associate beach with vacation, but I love the switch up of lifestyle there. The way of living is a lot more laid-back, slower-paced and seemingly overall happier. The D.C. area peeps could take some pointers from the Virginia Beach residents.
Next on the agenda was Saturday evening dinner. After taking into consideration Renee’s vegan suggestions, we headed to Yard House. YH is apparently a chain, and may even be in the Northern VA area (have not met with my good friend Google quite yet). Regardless, it was fabulous! We were drawn to this place because of their Gardein menu.
Like I’ved mentioned on many occasions, I’m not really one to base my diet around processed faux or high fat vegan foods in general, as health is my #1 priority. BUT every once in a while I think its okay to splurge and try something new. I had never actually had vegan chicken before, so this was my chance! Melanie and I split vegan firecracker chicken wings. Is she not the best? I then ordered a vegan chicken rice bowl for my entree. SO much food.
I haven’t had actual chicken/any meat in over two years, so to me, this tasted pretty darn close. Melanie agreed it was very tasty. Gardein chicken is definitely not something I plan on adding to my diet, but I’m happy I got the chance to try it. It’s so fun to experiment with all the vegan foods out there. There really is a vegan parallel to any non-vegan food. There’s no saying it’s good for you, but definitely a lesser evil than the animal-based version.
Our last vegan foodie stop of the trip was Sunday morning’s breakfast. This is the meal I had been anticipating the most all weekend — Yorgo’s Bageldashery.
This Norfolk based New York style bagelry is well-known for their abundant vegan options. There were vegan breakfast sandwiches, all other vegan sandwiches, daiya cheeses, non-dairy milks and vegan baked goods galore. After another painstakingly difficult decision, I decided on The Peterman breakfast sandwich.
Wow. Never would I have thought I would be eating a breakfast item so closely resembling non-vegan breakfast staples of my past with such impeccable flavor and consistency. I enjoyed it with a delicious soy latte. I was a VERY happy camper.
After our breakfast, Melanie and I met up with my parents, who had been staying in a hotel in Virginia Beach as a little mini vacation. Before my parents and I (minus the little bro…tear, tear) began our trek back to Northern VA, I had to take them back to Zekes! My mom and I got acai bowls and my dad got their famous watermelon juice and a greek pita sandwich.
All were left quite satisfied. Thank goodness too, because our road trip back was much less fulfilling. Our 3.5 hour trip turned into a 7 hour adventure. Thank you 64 and 95 traffic!
All in all, this weekend was totally vegan-mazing. Big shout out to my fabulous friend Melanie, the self acclaimed Vegan Whisperer;). She says she “did it for the blog post,” but I think that secretly that big heart of hers wants to go vegan. Only time will tell (mwahaha?)!
I was recently asked in an interview what type of food my home town area is known for. So for those of you from Northern Virginia/Washington D.C. metro area, what would you say?
If you said global cuisine, then I think you’re spot on. Having grown up in an area so culturally diverse, smack dab in the nation’s capital, I never actually realized how fortunate I am to have this exposure until I moved elsewhere (thanks college!).
With the booming Northern VA population boasting nationalities from quite literally all over the world, you better believe the international cuisine in our area is pretty darn authentic.
I am constantly inspired to incorporate different spices and types of food into my own dishes. Whether it be from dining out at local Asian, Indian, Middle Eastern, African, Mediterranean, South American, and so on restaurants, or being hosted at the homes of my friends, I always seem to find something new and exciting to spice up my own life.
Today I have decided to share with you some of my own worldly concoctions. Each dish has a whole food plant-based vegan spin on it of course!
Avocado Pesto Chickpeas, Quinoa & Veggies
Ingredients: — 2 servings
1 cup quinoa
1 can chickpeas
Handful of fresh spinach
Handful of cherry tomatoes
1 round slice of white onion
3 gloves of garlic
Nooch (nutritional yeast)
Cook quinoa — boil 2 cups of water and quinoa until soft (or to your preference consistency).
Rinse and drain chickpeas. Place chickpeas in boiling water for 5-7 minutes.
Chop fresh spinach, tomatoes and onion and set aside.
Avocado Pesto: Blend basil, garlic, lemon juice, pine nuts, nutritional yeast, black pepper and nooch in a high-speed blender. Add water as needed.
Lay all veggies, chickpeas and quinoa out on plate, and place dollop of pesto on top. Mix all elements to best capture all flavors and textures before eating.
Black Bean Quinoa Taco Soup
Ingredients: — many servings (leftover heaven)!
2 cups of quinoa
2 cans of black beans
Fresh cilantro, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 cup white onion, chopped
1 cup yellow & red cherry tomatoes, chopped
1 container veggie broth (reduced sodium)
1 tb taco seasoning
Fresh squeezed lime juice
Add quinoa and veggie broth to large pot on medium heat and let cook for 5 minutes.
Add in black beans, garlic, white onion, and taco seasoning and let cook for 5 minutes.
Add in cilantro, tomatoes and lime juice, and let cook for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and let cool. Enjoy!
Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss cauliflower florets with 1 tablespoon oil and spread on a baking sheet. Roast until tender, about 20 minutes.
Heat remaining oil over medium heat and cook onion until softened, about 5 minutes. Add ginger, serrano pepper, curry powder, and tomato paste, and cook 1 minute. Add salt and tomatoes and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes. Stir in coconut milk and half the cilantro.
Divide sauce among 4 bowls, top with cauliflower, and sprinkle with remaining cilantro.
Have you ever had that feeling of total helplessness? That nothing you can do can make things better? Well, I’m usually not one to ever feel this way. Heck, usually if I sense a problem or something I am not happy with, I go straight to analyzing all I can do to fix it.
Well, today’s post is about a little something that I have felt absolutely helpless to. One word. One cool sounding word that packs along so much misery.
Ever heard of them? I hadn’t either until trying to figure out what the heck was all over my feet and ankles, and itched like nothing I’ve ever felt before.
Because of my unfamiliarity, and discovering the itch in the middle of the night, I assumed I had gotten mosquito bites while outdoors for the Fourth or hiking the day before. The next morning I examined the bites and realized they were all in clusters, were smaller than normal mosquito bites and itched a whole lot more.
My second thought was bed bugs. Now I’ve had two bed bug scares before and, because of this, am pretty educated on the little critters and the process of getting rid of them. So I went through the protocol — took apart my bed, threw sheets, mattress cover and duvet cover in the wash, and vigorously searched, clorox wiped and vacuumed the area surrounding my bed. Every little nook and cranny was investigated, but I could find nothing.
In times like these, you realize how much you take for granted comfort and peace of mind. I didn’t even want to be in my own room, let alone sit or lay on my bed. I had planned on sleeping elsewhere that night. Until I got a text from a friend.
My friend Lauren (fellow veganista!) who I had hiked the Billy Goat Trail with, on the Maryland side of Great Falls Park, just a couple days before had texted me asking if I had bites on my feet. As much as I wasn’t thrilled about the remaining insanely itchy, red bumps all over me, I was SO relieved to know she was experiencing the same bumps in the same place. YAY, this meant my bed probably had nothing to do with these bites and I would be safe to sleep soundly. Or so I thought.
Lauren suggested that we had gotten bitten by chiggers. She had gotten bitten once before while out working in dense vegetation (bio major) a few years back. I started doing my research on the handy-dandy Internet and realized that what I had all over my ankles and feet were most definitely chiggers. I was once again relieved to have a diagnosis, but what I was about to find out about these critters would most definitely not sit well with me.
Chiggers are the juvenile form (larvae) of a certain type of mite, which are a part of the arachnid family, along with spiders and ticks. Chiggers are found through out the globe, but are most common in highly vegetated, grassy fields, gardens, parks and moist areas around lakes or rivers. Well there I had it — my hike at Great Falls was my demise. Note to self: never hike again!
But there’s more — Chiggers are bright red, but not visible to the naked eye, as they are about 1/50th of an inch. In the larvae stage only, chiggers are parasitic to animals or humans (if they come in contact with a plant). They are only prevalent in areas with high humidity in temperatures ranging from 60-90 degrees F.
Chiggers are most attracted to moist areas of the body, so bites are typically found at sock line, behind knees, groin or armpits. Despite common myth, chiggers do not actually burrow into your skin to feed, but inject a feeding structure into the skin and enzymes to break down host skin tissue. This then hardens the surrounding area and results in a feeding tube called a stylostome. The crazy part is you don’t typically react until the chiggers are done feeding and fall off, as their anesthetic then wears off (I didn’t notice mine until 3 days after hiking!).
Your body’s reaction to the LOVELY stylostome is what causes the irritation and the unbearable itching. And trust me, I’ve had my fair share of mosquito bites as a literal mosquito magnet anytime I’m outside. After this experience, I would take 1000 mosquito bites. Chiggers bites are seriously 100 times itchier. The worst part? You have the fun little guys for not a couple days, but a couple weeks!
In a continued attempt to gather as much information as I could, I was reading medical sites, testimonials, you name it. I can’t tell you the amount of testimonials that made me want to run for the hills. One was a guy who was in so much discomfort from the chiggers he considered cutting off the skin with a knife, but instead burned himself multiple times with a cigarette. Another lady covered her legs in toxic cleaning chemicals to feel a burning sensation, masking the itch. These chiggers mess with your mind. I too have felt like doing crazy things.
So how have you dealt with the itching, you ask? Any and every way I have read about. Seriously. Thus far, I’ve tried Benadryl anti-itch cream, hydrocortisone cream, Benadryl anti-itch gel, solarcaine, baking soda/water mixture, Vick’s vapor rub/salt mixture and lastly, but most successful, ice cold water and Chigger-ex.
Everything had taken off the edge for 20-30 minutes or so, but then the itch would be right back. After all these trials and errors, I read that there was a specific ointment for Chigger bites, so I figured I had to give it a shot. This ointment is super thick and creamy, infused with chamomile and aloe vera, giving it a very calming, spa-like scent.
Useful: I now have a routine for the most chiggers bearability (word?). Anytime I’m feeling itchy, I soak my feet in ice cold water for 5-10 minutes until I hit numbness, let them air dry, cover the bites with Chigger-ex and cover my feet with high socks. It seems that once my feet return from numbness, the compression from the socks, and most definitely the Chigger-ex, reduces the itch.
It has been absolutely insane the amount that these bites have affected by daily life. Just little things you wouldn’t think about, like wearing sneakers to workout or sandals to run an errand OR SLEEPING, is unbearable. When I’m driving in the car, I have to blast the AC on my feet or I’ll have an itch attack. My first night with chiggers, I got maybe one hour of sleep. The second night I learned my lesson and took a sleeping aid.
It’s crazy to think I had no idea what a chigger was just a few days ago when now they seem to dictate my life.
I suppose this is just one of those things — one of those things that make you stronger and wiser in the long run. I will tell you one thing, I will definitely never be wearing shorts again on a spring/summer hike, and probably won’t be going hiking for a while.
I hope you learned a little something from this post today, although not my traditional food/exercise related post. I most definitely would never wish chiggers on anyone, so be sure to inform all your friends and fam!
Tips to avoid getting chiggered yourself: (save yourself from the misery!)
When in humid, moist climates with tall vegetation, or near bodies of water, wear bug repellent, pants, and long socks that are tucked in.
In the case that you brush by plants, wipe off that body part immediately, as chigger larvae are actually relatively easy to brush off before they have formed their stylostome.
As soon as you return home from outdoor activity, hop in the shower and wash yourself with warm, soapy water to clear off anything you might have picked up.
Well, I should get back to scratching now. My bites are being needy again. JK. Obvi that makes them so much worse and leads me to a downward spiral of scratch-fest. If anything, this has been a great self-discipline practice. Optimism at its finest, eh?
The day has come! A huge milestone in my plant-based lifestyle has been reached, and I couldn’t be more enthused.
July 5, 2015 marks my 730th day vegan, or my 2 year veganniversary!
Like I’ve mentioned time and time again, choosing to go vegan and continuing to choose vegan everyday has been the greatest decision I have ever made.
What started as an experiment to spice up my blog site with an edgy topic turned into an overall lifestyle transformation that has brought me to where I am today; happier and healthier than ever before.
I feel beyond grateful to have found veganism; to now recognize that what I choose to purchase as a consumer affects much more than my taste buds, my individual style or my satisfaction at that moment in time.
I now have the consciousness to realize the impact that my actions have on not only my health, but the well-being of beautiful living creatures and the Earth that sustains us.
I know that I make a difference. Never let anyone convince you otherwise. Sure, I may be one person, but I’m one person that has made a substantial impact on my life and the lives of SO many others.
My dollar is my vote. My voice is my weapon.
In choosing to go vegan, I have made a difference. Over the past 2 years…
I have almost completelyeliminated my chances of developing heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis and many other western world diseases caused by the detriment of animal products. I have more energy for exercise, reduced recovery time, clearer, softer, more radiant skin and hair, a more positive, focused state of mind, while simultaneously extending my life and youthfulness by so many years.
Watch the documentary Forks Over Knives to understand the impact the plant-based diet has on your health.
I have saved 404 innocent, intelligent, sentient living beings from constant fear, malnourishment, torture, and slaughter (vegetarian calculator). I have saved these animals from being torn out of their natural habitat, confined to cramped, filthy barns, cages and pens being hung upside down on the slaughter line, having their throats cut and bodies mutilated.
Watch the documentary Earthlings to realize the impact going vegan, and making conscious, ethical decisions as a consumer has on the well-being of animals of this planet.
***I believe that this documentary is absolutely imperative for anyone still consuming animal products to see. If you can put it in your body, you can watch how it gets there.
I have saved 3,218 lbs of CO2 from entering into the atmosphere, helping to alleviate the devastation of global warming (vegetarian calculator).
Watch the documentary Cowspiracy to understand the impact animal agriculture has on the Earth. Don’t be fooled by what the government and meat and dairy lobbyists are telling you!
Lastly, I have influenced SO many more people than I would have ever thought possible. I have recordered every individual that has chosen to share with me the impact I have had on their own lifestyle. To date, I have 24 names written down. From those 24 people, I know off hand that 5 have chosen to go vegan, 3 have gone vegetarian, and many others are now making more conscious decisions about their food. I realize that my impact probably extends much further than these people, which stands as the very reason I continue to blog and share my story.
In midst of this celebration, I want to take the time to thank all my readers for your continued support! I hope over the past 2 years or so you have gotten something out of this blog site of mine.
Here you can read my full vegan transformation story, featured on thewishdish.com :)
Well, until next time! This veganista has got thangs to do!
I’ve been making some delicious summer treats with the extra time I have had on my hands while I continue on in my career search, which I’ve been promptly sharing on my health Instagram (@chowidohealth). I have gotten many requests for recipes, so here I am attempting to please you lovely people!
***Disclaimer: most things I make, I am able to make educated guesses from previous experience with certain foods, and sometimes I don’t write everything down that I do. So if I’m not following an already established recipe, chances are I’m guestimating measurements and what not, but I shouldn’t be too far off!
First up is a hearty breakfast involving these yummy things called oats. As much I have been trying to stick to bounds of raw fruit in the morning, I do recognize that oatmeal breakfasts give me the most sustained energy for my mid-morning workouts. In efforts to get creative, I thought up this fun spin on traditional oatmeal!
Blueberry-Banana-Date Oatmeal Bake
1.5 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup ground flax meal
3/4 cup water
1 ripened banana
1/2 cup blueberries (up to you)
3 medjool dates
Cinnamon (how much do you like cinnamon?!)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix together flax meal and water. This will serve as your binding agent. Stir. Let sit for 5 minutes.
Mash ripened banana to a creamy, non-clumpy consistency.
Mix together oats, creamed banana, flax-water combo, and stir together.
Pull apart medjool dates into pieces and add in. Mix.
Add in blueberries. Mix.
Add in as much cinnamon as you prefer. Mix.
Place in oven for 15-20 minutes. (Watch them, because cook time will vary based on oven)
Make sure to let them cool once done cooking! Those berries get might toasty. Enjoy! And if you’re feeling extra indulgent, smother the top with a nut butter of choice. :)
1/4 cup natural maple syrup (honey or agave works too!)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup all natural unsweetened applesauce
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt, if desired
1/2 cup dairy-free chocolate chips (I use the Enjoy Life brand)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Oil 8×8 inch pan. (I rubbed a dab of coconut oil all over)
Cream together peanut butter, maple syrup, vanilla extract and applesauce.
Add chocolate chips into batter, and mix well.
Pour batter into pan and place pan in oven for 18-22 minutes.
They are vegan, so no need to worry about them cooking all the way through! Take them out whenever you desire, depending on how gooey you like ’em.
I mentioned last post that I would be creating a What I Eat in a Day blog post, like this post last winter, as my next feature, but as much as I take pictures of food, I can’t quite seem to remember to take a picture of every single thing I eat and I want to be the realest I can with you all. I’m determined now though, so hopefully you’ll be seeing one very soon!
As for now, I’ll be living up the rest of my summer…maybe at home, maybe at a brand new place! Only time will tell.
Let the earth be your pantry and life be your jungle gym!