Thursday, January 30, 2020

Who's this Chick with the Sausage?

Welcome. This is my blog. Enjoy.

Who's this Chick with the Sausage?

About three months ago on a drive to NY from NC to see family, my husband brought up a topic that I
never thought would cross his mind. Ya see, about 4 years ago (see a flashback within a flashback), I
approached my husband about eating healthier, adding more vegetables to our diet, even incorporating,
"Meatless Mondays" into the mix. And my adorable husband, stopped me dead in my tracks. Sure he
would try it, but he wouldn't like it, and he certainly would need maybe some meat during the meal to
satisfy his protein craving.

I did my best to incorporate less meat and more vegetables (on this one night a week), never truly
grasping that you can get protein from other food sources.

Now flash forward to October 2019 and this man, this human being that I've made part of the team that

is us, well, he had seen Game Changers. You know what I'm talking about. The Netflix documentary
that shows how plant protein is awesome, and meat is bad, because science.

We're driving in the car, hurtling towards NY at 70 miles an hour and I'm ready to rip him apart. I
brought this up YEARS ago. Well, maybe not in a slick documentary style discussion a la Netflix, but
I've definitely talked to him about moving into a healthier way of living, incorporating more plants into
our diet. I start yelling (luckily the girls were watching a movie in the back). I'm mad. Big mad.

I do the meal planning, prepping, shopping, and cooking, and now, NOW you're telling me you want to
completely eliminate my carefully crafted arsenal of family favorites and weeknight go-to's?!?! (And if
you don't believe me about my meal prepping and planning, check out one of my very first posts here.)

He sat their sheepishly for a good 25 minutes while I ripped into him about this and he apologized

profusely for not listening to me sooner. He definitely told me I was "right" more than once. He shared
he was even scared to bring this up to me because he knew I was right and that I had been looking out
for us and our health for a long time.

While appeased by his admission I started asking some very pointed questions:

  • Do you want to go vegan?
  • Do you want to start right away?
  • Are you going to help plan, prep, shop, and cook?
His answers included, probably not, after we get back from NY, and yes.

We agreed to plant based protein dinners 3-4 nights a week, fish at least 2 nights, chicken the other 1 to
2 (with exceptions for the occasional pork or beef).

I share this all with a modicum of apprehension because people will likely have comments about this
and to you I say, "I'm doing what I'm doing for my team. I know how we roll, I know how we operate.
I know where to give and I know where to take. If you don't like it, move along."

So, once we returned from NY, we did a little pinteresting planning and kicked it off.  I will say we are
not perfect. But we did stick to 3 nights a week, plant based, 2 fish, 1-2 chicken, and 1 other as needed.
It was going well, until (please insert scary piano music here dum dum duuuuuuuummmmm), my
husband discovered, his soy allergy.

That, is a real thing. Not too make this short dive in any longer but he's allergic, it limits our plant based
proteins (at least for him) and I want breakfast sausage.

I know super weird pivot.

I like breakfast. It's my favorite meal of the day, and breakfast for dinner is the best treat. Now I'm also
a big egg eater. I like eggs. Probably not going to give them up, don't @ me.  My favorite breakfast is a
couple of eggs, some sauteed spinach, hash browns, and a couple of sausage links. Give me a juice and
some coffee and I'm good to go, but now with this shift in our focus to plant based, I've been giving up
breakfast sausage.

And I miss it. I miss it so much. The flavor and texture is the perfect blend with creamy eggs, tangy
spinach (just add a dash of lemon juice while sauteing), and crispy hash brown. The perfect bite.

I share this all with you so you can hear my thought process but also understand how I make changes to
my diet, and you can too!

I learned this with my wedding...yet another weird pivot, but seriously life is full of interesting
connections and if you can see them and the patterns, it will help you out immensely. Trust me. I'm on
the internet.

So, during my wedding, the advice I was given and what I will always give any bride who asks (only if
you ask), is come up with your 1-3 must haves and make those your big spend items. My husband and I
cared about our photos (we wanted to "own" them), food/drink (my love language is cooking and serving
food), and music (we wanted everyone to have a good time).

If you are going to use this advice and extrapolate it out to your diet, you need to discover your 1-3 must
haves and make those your focus. I'm a taste and texture, but not necessarily together. I LOVE eggs
Benedict. The creamy hollandaise, the poachy, eggy, runny yolk, and the salty ham. I realized I didn't need
the English muffin (it didn't do it for me), but I needed the runny yolk, and the I needed the lemony tang
from the hollandaise. Even the salty ham wasn't necessary, just the salt. So in order to make this quick and
easy and get a hit of something I love. I'll over easy a couple of eggs with plenty of salt and pepper and
put it on a bed of sauteed spinach with a hit of lemon juice. It gives me all I need.

I discovered I loved the flavor of everything bagels (and yes I love the texture) but it's the flavor I crave.

So I made a spice mix and sprinkle it on salads. Same great flavor, none of the calories from the bagel.

Again just some small tweaks to make it healthier with compromising the thing I needed. This is how the

chick pea sausage was born. I needed the flavor and a little of the texture, and so I came up with this

Yes, it is still a work in progress and the reason I'm sharing my not quite perfected version of it is

because some things are SUPER personal to flavor. Breakfast sausage being one of them. I've had it all
over the eastern seaboard and unless you get a name brand, none of it tastes the same. We happen to
enjoy the Food Lion brand of breakfast sausage links and that's what I'm trying to emulate. Please feel
free to make tweaks of this recipe with your own additions, or even use the base (chick peas and pinto
beans) and flavor with your seasoning recipe. Good luck!

Chick Pea Breakfast Sausage
1 15 oz can chick peas/garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed)
1/2 c panko bread crumbs, plain
1/4 c pinto beans (drained and rinsed)
1 tbs maple syrup
1 tbs brown sugar
2 tsp dried sage
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp paprika

1. Put the pinto beans in food processor and pulse until mostly creamy (see picture).

2. Add all the other ingredients but the maple syrup, and pulse to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl 2 or 3 times. You want it to be coarse and crumbly and kind of hold together when you pinch it. Taste for flavor and adjust as necessary. Do not over process as the mix will become too smooth and the texture will be off.
3. Add the maple syrup and process just to combine. This mixture should hold together really well. Make balls the size of golf balls and flatten (I used a cookie scoop to make them uniform).
4. Pan fry in oil of your choice until golden brown and serve immediately.


I hope you like this recipe...and this walk into the brain and thought process. It's how I figure out what to do next and how to breakdown recipes that I want to test and try.

See you next week!


Monday, January 20, 2020

Anxiety...What a Bitch.

Welcome. This is my blog. Enjoy.

Anxiety...What a Bitch.

So. It's been. Just shy of two months since my last post about not posting and I feel I need to share a little about what's been going on. (EDITORS NOTE: It's been like 4 months...but I wrote this a couple of months ago and thought I was good...I was better...but not THERE yet. I'm going to publish this and move forward but I'll add in my commentary.)

I would like to joke that Life is what's going on, but it's not life. It was my life, and the anxiety and depression that kind of held me captive for the last couple of months.

I was sad. I struggled to sleep well. I couldn't take a full breath. Eating was weird. I was totally off.

To be fair and honest with you, but mostly to myself, I didn't do the things I'm supposed to do. I didn't start working out. I didn't start meditating. I didn't start mindful breathing. I didn't do yoga. I didn't talk to anyone. I didn't take medication prescribed by a doctor. I didn't start eating better.

But, I did quit drinking. I did give myself time. I did give myself permission to be not ok. I did talk about it with my husband, and some family members. I did what was best for me at the time.

I'm getting better. This time of year is really weird for me. It's right around the time Facebook likes to remind me that my mom was dying, and I was watching it all go down. It's also like, right before the holiday season (Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas) and my birthday is jammed up in there, and not in a good place (I'm a Christmas Eve baby).

So I work through every year this weird: Do I like my birthday? Do other people like my birthday? Is it too inconvenient? What do the girls want to be for Halloween? What do I want to be?  Who is coming for Thanksgiving? Should I make appetizers? Should I do a signature cocktail? Who are we buying presents for? Are we doing anything for New Years? Oh yeah, who IS coming for Christmas?

I also had two conferences scheduled this year where I was going to be away from home for 7 days. And all of this is compounded by, oh yeah, by the way, your mom's dead. It's just, not a good time.

It was a lot this year. This year was 5 years since my mother passed away from cancer. One day I'll share the story of the shit storm that was our life for 3 years, but, that story is exhausting and I can't today.

But again, this was the typical thoughts this time of year. But this year, it was different, and not in a good way. I really struggled. Sleep was not my friend. I would wake up in the middle of the night and then not be able to get back to sleep. I would have mini panic attacks (MPA) all day. Nothing where I had to get out, but they definitely slowed me up. My mind would race as I drove and share all the awful things that could happen. I wasn't eating right, I definitely wasn't exercising. I stopped yoga and I stopped meditating.

But again, I made changes. I'm diligent about my skin care, I'm also diligent about some vitamins I take, and I started taking a new one a couple of months before I noticed I was going downhill. I stopped taking it. I got better.  If there is one piece of advice I will share for your life, it's learn your patterns (EDIT DANIELLE HERE: I'll add some other stuff about this but foreshadowing this is important).

It's taken a couple of months for me to feel better. To sleep better. To stop the MPA's. To stop the mind racing. I'm doing better, and that's important. I'm feeling better enough to jump back into this. I'm apprehensive but looking forward. It's gonna be cool.

EDIT DANIELLE AGAIN! Hello! So I wrote all of that a couple of months ago and never hit publish. Why? Who the heck knows! Probably not ready. But I am now. I actually told a wonderful friend that I was gonna publish this on Christmas with some edits for the "Holiday Blues" but, I didn't. She went looking for it. Because she's awesome. Thank you Lisa!

But I'm publishing now. But wait! To expand on the "learn your patterns." Most woman know about their periods. They might have an app or write it old school on a calendar, but they keep track of that sort of thing. Some people mention "mercury in retrograde" and nursing and teachers like to make, "pray for me it's a full moon" statuses. These are all patterns. Learn yours. Are Monday's rough? Figure out why? Do you get a stomach ache after milk? It's a pattern. I'm not saying you have to make changes. NOT AT ALL. I'm saying notice them. Then if you want to make changes you can.

I cut alcohol. It's been super helpful. I also cut those vitamins. Awesome. Since the first writing of this, I've moved to more plant based meals. I've had less heartburn and I'm not AS tired. I still haven't jumped back to a regular yoga practice, and I definitely don't meditate like I want, but I've made small changes that I felt were doable for me during my anxiety and depression. 

Much like getting sick, you have to come out of it easy. You don't just jump into all foods after recovering from the stomach bug. You don't just go crazy and push hard after the flu. You ease into it. Once I recognized my patterns, I made what changes I could, small steps in the right direction. I've shared with my daughters that as long as they are moving toward something it's OK if it's slow, like a turtle (slow but determined), not like a sloth (slow with no purpose). So I'm turtling my way through this.

Thank you for letting me take this time. See you on Wednesday.