A friend recommended that I look at this entire experience as gaining new foods as opposed to taking things away so, despite the fact that I’m still mourning the loss of cheesy fries, I ordered some bomber cookbooks and went to the store (also, because eating every meal from a vegan-friendly restaurant means that Santa probably won’t make it next year).
In ordering the new cookbooks, I realized that it is going to be a lot easier than expected to find things to eat and to approach this new diet with a sense of humor – exhibit A: Thug Kitchen, Eat Like You Give a F*ck.
I was especially happy to learn that Thug Kitchen continued to be entertaining beyond the title and the recipes seemed edible… like Warm the F*ck Up Minestrone.
While not as entertaining, the Oh She Glows cookbook was paramount since it has quick and easy recipes because who are we kidding… going vegan doesn’t mean my professors stop assigning work or that my children suddenly end their favorite game of spreading toys throughout the house. Fortunately, these recipes also looked good.
The shopping adventure at first was a little tricky – the salmon looked fabulous and the Iggy’s sourdough bread was calling out to me (my kids don’t call it “yummy bread” for nothing). However, I set off to get some colorful veggies to attempt a Vegan Root Veggies and Spicy Vegan Sausage Roast. Sure, it sounds (and initially looked) scary but in the end even Donny liked it. Also, just because I have some fancy new cookbooks does not mean I’m not looking for your favorite vegan recipes so please, please post them on here!
I woke up feeling pretty awesome. I picked out a special smoothie recipe to start off this vegan adventure on the right foot – rasperries, blueberries, kale, cucumbers, almond milk and bananas. I snapped a photo of my colorful blender to add to this post and in an attempt to keep myself on track (no one benefits from photos of cheesy fries). “I can do this!” I thought as I pushed the button on the blender… and that’s when I realized this was going to be harder than I thought.
Since my Vitamix is in the Vitamix hospital until later this week, I needed to use an old blender which I quickly learned was broken. I tried a couple of times to make some progress on the frozen bananas but as I started to smell something burning, I opted to throw these ingredients in a Ziploc and see what I could eat that didn’t require a functional blender. NOTHING. I looked in my fridge to find a lot of things I couldn’t eat – eggs, egg whites, milk, yogurt, kefir, etc. I made some tea before venturing down the road in search of something vegan.
I was able to score a Mean Green Acai Bowl from Liquiteria, which despite being the color of manure, was delicious and 100% vegan approved.
As I walked back down the road to my house, I was disappointed that my first vegan meal was a little complicated. It was at that moment that I was passed by a funeral procession. “Well that’s a sign…” I thought, as I quickly remembered why I was embarking on this animal-less diet. Unfortunately, that was quickly followed by a little anxiety because as we all know, eating one vegan breakfast doesn’t erase the years of non-vegan eating and I didn’t want to be the reason for a procession any time soon. But then in a pile of decaying leaves, I saw some crocuses popping up. Sure, they’re probably going to die because it is still February in New England, but the botanist in me was excited to see some color so I stopped to take a picture.
In case you’re wondering, I successfully made it through the rest of the day by having half of a vegan teriyaki burrito for lunch thanks to my amazing husband who is going to end up trying significantly more crazy food than he ever anticipated. In between PT and my evening class (yes, I’m almost done with grad school!), I enjoyed a delicious Spicy Sabzi salad from Sweetgreen for dinner. More veggie tales to come!
“Life is uncertain, eat dessert first” should have been my senior quote in my high school year book instead of the cliche Garth Brooks quote I decided to roll with. I’ve been a firm believer in both the benefits of dessert and attempting to live in the present after my first cancer diagnosis. That’s not to say that I eat every meal at McDonald’s; however, in between my salads with sweet pea shoots and bean sprouts, I like to indulge in a good IPA and cheesy fries at my favorite Thirsty Thursday bar with my fellow MBA classmates.
But, my adherence to this quote in the literal sense dramatically changed as of this weekend due to the lasting effects of my cancer treatment. Cancer sucks for a number of reasons and if you’re lucky enough to be a survivor, it is hard to complain about the side effects, which is in and of itself a side effect termed ‘survivorship guilt.’ With that being said, the side effects suck just as much as the cancer because they prevent you from ever returning to a normal life – 21 years after my diagnosis and I live in fear that the cancer will win. So, in today’s episode of “what side effect am I dealing with now?” we’re talking about my heart.
Demonstrating my affinity for dessert.
As most of you know, I had a fully-ablative, allo bone marrow transplant in 1996 because I was fighting Acute Myeloid Leukemia. The allo part means I got my cells from someone else (my amazing brother) and the fully-ablative part means that chemo and radiation kicked my ass prior to actually receiving the stem cells. As a result of the chemo and radiation that I received, my heart is compromised in two ways: (1) some of the muscle cells in the heart were killed off and others had to enlarge to pick up the slack (this is what happens when women are pregnant and hearts have to work extra hard to pump extra blood) (2) blood vessels become sclerotic and stiff making it easier for plaque to build up and for patients to have heart attacks. Unfortunately, this isn’t a hypothetical – more and more patients like me are succumbing to massive, fatal heart attacks due to sclerotic vessels. Consequently, some of the world’s top research physicians advised me over the weekend at the annual BMT conference that I needed to commit to protecting my heart with step #1 being BECOME A (good) VEGAN!
As with most of my new adventures, I will be chronicling the ups and downs of my experiences here. Of note, occasionally I will bake and may use chocolate chips sparingly (sorry but carob ≠ chocolate). Stay tuned for more veggie love!
To donate to my Boston Marathon run and help me fight cancer by raising $23,000 click here.
I felt my insides shatter last summer… Just following the 2014 Boston Marathon and another successful fundraising campaign where you helped me raise over $20K to fight cancer, I was facing some devastating news. I was diagnosed with a low stage breast cancer and I was cut off from runnning any more Boston Marathons due to by heart… and it was all thanks to the cancer treatment I received in 1996 for pediatric AML (leukemia). After undergoing a bilateral mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, I tried to refocus on the positives and embrace that which I did have this fall… my life, my husband, my kids, and an exciting opportunity to attend business school. Still, I found myself disappointed in my body, especially as I approached what should have been the 20th anniversary of me being cancer-free.
Thus, despite my heart being sub-par, I decided I needed to finish what I started in 2011. I reached out to my oncologists and we developed a plan for me to tackle one more Boston Marathon all in the name of some serious cancer fighting. I can’t say whether I will be walking and/or running but I do know that I will be giving 110%.
Just 1 week from today, I will be recognizing the 20th anniversary of my leukemia diagnosis and kicking off a massive fundraising campaign!! With your help, I hope to raise $22,000 this year in honor of my 20 year Leukemia Cancerversary and 2 year Breast Cancerversary. 100% of the proceeds goes right to some of the World’s top cancer researchers who work around the clock to find cures.