11.27.2014

The grinch of Thanksgiving

I need to get some things off my chest. 

Some things I'm not so proud of. 

Some things I've been struggling with. 

And some things I'm coming to cope with. 

The last six months have been frustrating, for reasons I can't really find words for right now. I've found myself withdrawn from things I generally love, people I love. I've found myself forcing smiles and forcing happy thoughts. But the truth is, no amount of force is going to make me really mean that smile. No amount of force is going to make me positive. 

I've been selfish. I've been trying to cover up all these messy feelings, and unfortunately, today, of all days, they came pouring out. That's the thing about these emotions; there doesn't seem to be a right way to feel them. If I let myself be jealous, be sad, be unhappy, then I feel like I'm being ungrateful for what I've been given, what I've worked for. But if I don't allow myself to feel these things, then I exhaust myself trying to NOT feel them. Do you know how hard it is to NOT feel something? 

And at the end of the day, I was still bitter. Still upset. Still jealous. Still sad. Regardless of whether or not I allowed myself to show these feelings, they were still there. 

And the truth is, I haven't really found the answer to my problem - I'm not even sure there is one. I know I need to relinquish control, I need to accept that I will end up with exactly what I'm meant to. I believe deep down there is a plan for everyone, and whether or not I understand the one I've been given doesn't mean it's a bad one.

I know all these things. I need to believe these things. And yet, I'm still struggling daily with the little nuances of everyday life. Of being human. Of being flawed. Of having lost. Of not receiving. 

Three months ago we parted ways with close friends, we'd "grown apart." There wasn't a day that went by up until two weeks ago that I hadn't thought about this event. What I said, what I could have said, what I should have said. And then, two weeks ago, I was sitting in my basement with my family, our best friends and their children. And everything was so easy. The kids were bouncing around each other, the men were talking about professional wrestling (I know, I know) and the women were talking about candles or something that smelled good. And it was wonderful. It was seemless. And it hit me. Things shouldn't be so hard. Friendships don't have to be so hard. People can grow and change and can fight and bicker, but at the end of the day, it shouldn't have been that hard. 

And finally, I felt a lightness. I understood why things had to happen and I feel comfortable and at peace with what happened. 

Today someone I love had amazing news. Wonderful news. Jumping-for-joy, eat-the-whole-can-of-whipped-cream, dance-with-no-music, shout-from-the-rooftop news. And while I was overwhelmed with SO much happiness for them, I found myself wallowing in pity for me. Not because they didn't deserve it. Not because I deserved it more. But because I was disappointed. So I cried. I let myself feel whatever I wanted and then I decided to be done with it. I would be happy for them. I AM happy for them. 

And just like I didn't understand three months ago what was happening, I need to just accept that in time this will all make sense too. And regardless, it will all be OK. 

And so today, after being the grinch of Thanksgiving, I'm thankful to find this peace. And I'm thankful for the people in my life who teach me these things, help me accept these things and love me just the same. 

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11.05.2014

Creamy vegan alfredo and zucchini noodles

I probably should have been born Italian. I have an immense love for any and everything they put on their pasta and pizzas, not to mention, the pasta. THE pizza. I am a lover of all things carbs. It's not a healthy love. In fact, it's probably been a catalyst to what made me not quite as healthy as I should be. 

One of the things that rivals my love of carbs, is the ooey-gooey, melty, creamy, liquidy-heaven alfredo sauce that you PUT on said carbs.

Mmmm alfredo sauce.

I've been in search of making the ultimate vegan version of this sauce for years now and I finally feel ready to share it with y'all. This recipe is like eight years in the making folks. That's a lot of years.

I've tried the tofu-based alfredo sauce and couldn't get past the semi-sterile taste it seemed to have. It's not a secret that I don't really have a love affair with tofu, however. I also tried the sauce using oodles of fake cheese, which while it was better than the tofu version, still seemed to complicate the very delicate balance of garlic, cheesy, creamy, simple goodness that a truly amazing alfredo has.

Finally, between a little vegan cheese, a simple white sauce base and some nutritional yeast, we have mastered the perfect alfredo sauce at the Chubby Vegan household!

Because of my unhealthy obsession with carbs, we purchased a veggie spiralizer from Williams Sonoma and have been using it to make veggie noodles. And seriously, they're so delicious and this little gadget was so worth it.

We also added some sautéed tempeh to give it a little more bulk and protein. We have made this multiple times since, and it has yet to disappoint!


Creamy vegan alfredo sauce:
(Serves 6)
Ingredients:
3 TBS vegan butter
6 TBS all purpose flour
1.5 tsp salt
2 cups plain almond milk
1/3 cup no chicken broth (we use Imagine brand)
4 slices vegan provolone cheese (We use Daiya)
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 TBS minced garlic
1 TBS Italian seasoning

Optional: Tempeh, cubed and sautéed in olive oil with a sprinkle of italian seasoning. Pasta or five zucchinis, spiralized and sautéed on medium heat for 10 minutes with some olive oil. 

Directions:
Melt vegan butter in a small saucepan on medium heat. Once it's melted, stir in all purpose flour. Whisk until it makes a runny paste. Whisk in plain almond milk and no chicken broth. Add nutritional yeast, blend well.  

Tear up vegan cheese slices and stir them into the mix. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly and then lower heat to a simmer and stir, for three to four minutes. Add in garlic and Italian seasoning. The sauce will thicken as it cools. Pour over pasta, veggie noodles or anything, because it's delicious. Top with tempeh or some veggie chicken strips. 

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11.04.2014

How massively important communication REALLY is

The last few weeks have been sort of demanding. Between some downright hateful responses to a story on the website I'm an editor for (not CVM), to some throw-down, blowout, blood-curling tantrums from my kiddos, I've found myself reflecting a lot on communication lately.

Or, more specifically, the lack of communication in our everyday life. Or, even more specifcally, the breakdown of our ability to openly, honestly and respectfully communicate with each other in this day and age.

How absolutely terrifying is it, that with the technology we have at our means, the Facebooking, emailing, tweeting, Instagraming, texting, Facetiming, Skyping, phones on us making us connected 24 hours a day, we seem to be communicating less and less?

And I'm not pointing fingers at technology. Of course I can see the way it has degraded our face-to-face communication; I see the parents playing on their phones, counting their Facebook likes, meanwhile their children are playing pretend and aching for their moms and dads to sit down on the floor and join them. Any one can see that certain technologies, when abused, can lead to poor communication. But it's unfair to blame Snapchat and Netflix for the way WE use them, they're simply providing a service. We're the ones deciding what to do with them.

When it comes to all the means we have at our disposal, shouldn't it be easier than ever to call up that friend and tell them you miss them? Tell them something is bothering you? Tell them you're not happy with the way something is going? Between email and texting and phone calls, shouldn't it be simple to work your problems out, even if you're too embarrassed to do it face to face? If we want to make lasting, impactful relationships, shouldn't you WANT to communicate openly with each other?

Through the relationships I've formed in my life, I've learned so much about what I bring to the table. I've also learned what my opportunities are. I have a very dominating personality. I like to be the center of attention and I like to voice my opinion. I often find myself close friends with people who aren't so ready to communicate in this manner. I met my best friend in college. We bonded over her braiding my hair and sharing our scathing experiences with the opposite sex. She is loud and boisterous when she's comfortable with you, but when she's in a large group, her voice can be silenced. Sometimes, I found myself silencing her unintentionally. She helped me realize how intimidating I am when I communicate, because of my loud opinions, don't-care attitude and verbose choice of words at times.

Since then I have actively worked to communicate better, to not step on the little guy. I ask my friends if they have a problem. I ask my husband if I'm not hearing him. I tell my kids I'm listening and understand their feelings. I try to go out of my way to ensure the people I truly love feel heard and comfortable talking to me. And yet, at the end of the day, I still had people near and dear to me telling me that "I just didn't hear their needs," "they were scared to open up to me" and "we were drifting apart."

I've struggled for a few months now to grasp how people can just throw in the towel on a friendship. What I could have done to communicate better. And the truth is, there's only so much YOU can do. If it's just you talking, just you reaching out, just you asking questions, then it's simply a one-sided conversation. If someone would rather talk at you than with you, well, that's not really communication, is it?

Take for example my problem with work. While several readers enjoyed the article, we found a small group perceived the article in a very negative light. They were deeply offended and voiced their opinions on any platform they could. The problem was despite their fervor, they simply weren't willing to communicate with us. They were content yelling at us for gravely insulting them, but when we reached out to find out what they wanted, what they would like to see, only one of them interacted with us. ONE person. Instead, the others continued to point fingers at us, for pointing ours at them.

You cannot communicate with someone who isn't willing to communicate with you.

As human beings, we need to connect. We need to hear each other. We should speak kinder to each other. Care more about each other. With all these amazing ways to communicate with each other, we should be reaching out more. When is the last time you told your best friend you loved them? You missed them? How often do you ask people how they are, how their day was, and really listen to the answer? When is the last time someone asked you how you were, and you were honest and open with them?

George Bernard Shaw said "the single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place."

Have you really been communicating?

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