Do you feel forced to follow tradition? An epiphany on Epiphany!

After a few weeks of writer’s block, it finally hit me. Don’t you love that moment when something comes to you and all you want to do is grab a keyboard ( *smiles*) and write a blog post about it. Well here it comes. I had my epiphany, ironically enough on Epiphany!

One of my readers figured out some of my origins after reading my blog post about eating consciousness. No wonder, all that mention about eating rabbit and cow’s tongue and liver as a child gave it away. Yes I am partly French. My whole adult life, I have had issues with how to keep up with traditions. As I mentioned in previous posts, the first dilemma came when we had to figure out whether to celebrate Christmas or not. Well I figured that out. But there are so many other things. For me and my husband, a few issues come to mind. First, we’re not Catholic but both had at least one Catholic parent, then when it comes to me, I was raised in a home where food WAS a national TRADITION! I’m not joking. So, even after having figured out that we didn’t have to celebrate some religious holidays, food is always a reminder or even an excuse. Like today. Today is Epiphany. I grew up celebrating Epiphany. My mom was not really a practicing Catholic but in France, it was tradition to get the Galette with the fève inside. Whoever got the fève was crowned King or Queen. Also, every time you would visit someone during the whole month of January, you would have to bring a galette. Whoever got the fève was the next one to buy the galette. It went on until the end of the month. We also have until the end of the month to wish Happy New Year. Anytime afterwards was bad taste.

I continued all the traditions I grew up with (well most of them) because it is heart warming and I wanted share my culture with my family and kid.

After a few years, I now find those traditions more as chores and duties. I went to bed last night thinking, “oh shit, tomorrow is Epiphany, I have to go get a galette I guess” excuse my language but that is really what I thought. I started wondering where I would get it, where the best one is at, which store has the cheapest…. AND because of my new vegan diet, I honestly had no desire to even eat it. It was Christmas all over again. At Christmas, I bought a bûche de Noel but I wasn’t excited about eating it. I looked forward to my vegetables a lot more.  Traditions are legacies, I get it. But we change, people change, so why do I feel so guilty by just thinking about NOT getting a Bûche de Noel or a Galette? I think it is because all those things were fun for me as a child, but I am not a child anymore and I could care less if I eat a galette on a Holiday I don’t even believe in. I am a closeted double hypocrite. So here, I am out. I am not Catholic and I celebrate Catholic holidays just because I did when I was younger even though it was mostly because of the fun and for the food and now I force myself to do it for my kid.

Don’t get me wrong. I do like traditions but after a while, it is time to move on. For example, we used to celebrate Easter, but now we no longer go for the Easter egg hunt. We graduated from that tradition. I never baked beignet on Mardi Gras like my grandmother used to. That’s ok. I don’t make crepes that often either which probably explain why I am not rich since the tradition is that if you make crepe on a certain day, you’re supposed to be rich all year. I think I have to stop being so hard on myself. Another reason why I kept those traditions for so long even when they annoyed me was because my mother would make me feel guilty about not being in France anymore. I think she was afraid my kid would not have enough reminders of where we came from. That could not be further from the truth. We all know where we come from and we cherish it. What is more important though to us is who we are today as people. Who we are is not defined by traditions. I love my origins and I will always cherish them but I see myself more as a part of the human race than as a National of a specific country or a follower of a specific faith. We did a great job raising our child that way. This might anger some people, but I find it wrong to force kids to say the pledge of Allegiance to the American Flag every day in school. We love our country very very much in our house. 9/11 was one of the worst days of our lives. We love our American People but we do not need to assert it that way because we feel we alienate the rest of the world. Traditions are like history to me. They have to be remembered and people choose to remember history in their own ways. Some express their opinions loudly, some join parades, some make movies about it, some light a candle quietly in the privacy of their home. The way we choose to honor our traditions is up to us and we shall not feel pressured by anyone, not our parents, not capitalism (hello Valentine’s day around the corner) or our government. So I am officially over the guilt.

The other very important thing to remember is to forever create new traditions. It is actually the most fun. I have countless ideas every year which turn into beautiful new memories and traditions and it makes me happy to know that I am continuing to write our history.

 

Now for all those of you who wonder what I ended up doing: well, I did it. I went out and bought a Galette des Rois. When I came home I wrote this post…out of frustration. Now I think I will actually enjoy it more but I will no longer do anything just because I have to follow some tradition.

 

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My kind of Holiday afternoon fun at home: movie and homemade treats

When I come home from work on the weekend, I like to sometimes just stay home, watch movies and chat with my family. This time of year, it is even more fun. We watch silly Christmas movies and laugh. Today we also baked. I made these amazing Gluten Free Cranberry Oatmeal Almond Orange Zest scones. Unfortunately I cannot take credit for them!   I found the recipe on this wonderful website. Please stop by to thank Amie at www.thehealthyapple.com if you make it. It is such a healthy recipe. Everyone will love it!

orange zest scones

  • 3 cups gluten-free oats
  • 2 Tbsps chia seeds
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 1/3 cups dried cranberries
  • 2 tsp. fresh orange zest
  • 1/3 cup silvered almonds
  • 3/4 cup Coconut Milk
  • 2 Tbsps lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar

For more accurate directions, please visit the website above.

I changed the recipe just a little bit. I ran out of chia seeds 2 days ago so I omitted. I added flaxseeds instead. I added vegan chocolate chips this time also and I decided to make them scones instead of muffins.

To go with this, I made my homemade pumpkin drink. Instead of buying the Starbucks holiday drinks, I like to make them. I do not drink milk or soy milk so at home, I make my yummy hot drinks with almond or coconut milk. I add some can pumpkin until almost to a boil, add some honey and agave and I’m ready to enjoy my favorite drink this time of year. I sometimes add nutmeg and cinnamon. No artificial pumpkin syrup!!!

I hope you try it. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

More than a detox

Here I am. 42 days later. I did it. I fasted for 6 whole weeks. I achieved something I doubted I would ever accomplished. I never thought it would be impossible but I had doubts. I mostly thought it was going to be a long painful process. On the contrary, it was rather easy. A little too easy. I fasted on fresh juices and water. Some days I would really only drink water or coconut water- my idea of speeding things up. My reason for this fast was to detoxify my body, ridding it of toxins I felt were clogging my body and mind. I had last done a 21 day fast about 2 years ago. A most recent one was a week fast. I wanted to push it as long as I could so I figured I’d aim for double the longest one I had done. Breuss juice fast is 42 days so I decide to do my own version of that, just not as strict. I didn’t do as many enema, and I didn’t have just one type of juice. I do not like fruit juices too much however so I pretty much stuck to my veggie juices. Now that I am done, I am already thinking about my next fast. See, I do not feel this one was enough. I could continue longer but I think I would rather take a break and go on a new fast in a few months.

So, besides the definite cleansing, what did I get from this amazing fast? Well, I got clarity. On a lot of things. I feel that I am more accepting of myself. I judged myself, got over many things and accepted myself. I also now care less about what people think. My whole life, I felt the need to be accepted by everyone. If not, I somehow failed or there was something wrong with me. This, obviously, is deeply rooted in the way my family made me feel. I always felt I had to prove something. I oddly feel a sense of relief. Nothing specific occurred. I simply feel more at ease.

My fast also triggered some fear in me, but it is good fear. I came to a great realization that I could very well fall back to old habits. This fear as well as the incredible achievement I just accomplished definitely will keep me in check. I think that my fear of failing me will probably keep me on track, at least for a while. Disappointing myself would be very depressing. This fast required a huge amount of self-control which I had. I cooked, but did not eat. Temptation was not really an issue. When you commit to a fast, cheating is out of the question. So now, I ask myself, if I had this kind of commitment for 42 days, if I was able to resist eating some of my favorite, not so healthy food, why would I not be able to do the same now? I refused to poison myself for 6 weeks and I need to take this discipline and keep it for my entire life. See, my problem with food was always an emotional one. It is not that I do not make good choices, it’s more an issue of self-control. If I like something, I’ll eat more than I should. If I don’t feel good, I’ll eat because I will fool myself into thinking it will make me feel better (when in reality I know it won’t). It had come to a point where I was fully aware that something was bad for me, that I would only enjoy it for a few seconds and then immediately feel bad about it. That is an addiction and I knew that. I needed to break up with food. I had no fear about fasting during Thanksgiving. I almost did it on purpose. I knew I had to look at food in the face and be ok with not eating it. It’s like any other disease. You only know you are cured if you can look at it and not touch it. An alcoholic knows he is stronger if he can have a bottle in front of him or even friends drinking and not be bothered by it.

I wanted to write this post for myself primarily. I think that if I ever feel bad habits creeping up on me, I will come back and read this and hopefully it will give me the strength to not succumb to temptations. Last time I did a longer fast, I was doing good for quite a long period of time until some life events happen and sadly fell off the wagon. I sincerely hope that this will not happen. I know that my love for food will never go away and I know that my roots will always tempt me to eat certain food that are not necessarily good for me ( cheese, butter and chocolate are my main problem) but what I need to remember is to have balance. If I can master balance, then everything will be ok. Achieving balance is a very hard thing for me. I am a black or white kind of person, right or wrong. Ask my husband! I think I ought to watch The Little Buddha again. Knowing is nothing if you cannot turn it into action. I need to turn this whole idea of moderation and the Middle Way into life, and especially in my eating habits!

Do you have issues? With food? Anything? Did you ever fast? Please share with us anything you think would be valuable to us.

Blessings

Buddabamama’s Favorite Things 2012 edition (1st Edition) ;-)

Hello Everyone,

It was expected of me to write a blog about the school shooting tragedy. I am, after all, an activist. I am pro stricter gun laws and restrictions. I am all for taking care of our people/ each other, better. I am for better health care including better mental health care. I am for and against a lot of things. I however, feel that the past few days have only brought up more anger. I have been angry myself, stirring up some conversations on Facebook. When something tragic happens, we usually come closer, but in this case, because of the nature of this tragedy, our country is divided. The gun debate is on the table once again. Hopefully this time, we can come up with a compromise. But as I have and will mention in future posts, gun laws are not the only thing to change.

Instead of discussing all the things that we can do, change, better, etc. I would like to follow my kid’s advice and write a positive post, after the fast post, the things that frustrate me post, here is a things I like post. Hopefully you will find some things you like too among my list of fun things. Some I discovered years ago, some just recently. So, a la Oprah style, here are, my Favorite Things:

* Let me start with a website I discovered just a few months ago. It is called Inhabitat.

“Inhabitat.com is a weblog devoted to the future of design, tracking the  innovations in technology, practices and materials that are pushing architecture  and home design towards a smarter and more sustainable future.”

Inhabitat is a great blog for anyone who is environmentally conscious, likes cool eco-friendly ideas. They have many sections such as fashion, products, art, technology and architecture.

* Mumford and Sons. My favorite band this year. I just love them so much. ok. I have always had an obsession with British, Scottish or Irish music. If you love bluegrass, folk music, mandolin and banjo, then Mumford and Sons is for you as well!

* HOMELAND. If there is one DVD I would recommend to buy this season, it would be season 1 of HOMELAND. Season 2 just ended too so it will be available shortly. Best show on Cable for sure.

* Favorite documentary this year: HAPPY and BUCK. Buck is more than a Horse documentary, it is a documentary for humanity. It is a must see. Watching it just makes you a better person. It teaches you love, forgiveness and strength.

*Favorite movie this year: well I have unfortunately not been able to see what would probably be my favorite movie: ARGO. Ben Affleck is a fantastic director and I know Argo would be my favorite. But ok, there were some really good movies that did not get enough credit. The Magic of Belle Isle was one of them. Moonrise Kingdom was another one. Butter was hilarious.

* Favorite new app: PINTEREST. Also: POLYVORE.

* Favorite new scientific show: Through the Wormhole

* Favorite new healthy product: E3Live

* Favorite new chocolate: CHUAO Chocolatier. Available at Whole Foods also.

* Favorite new product that I have not bought yet: MICROSOFT SURFACE. I went to the store to play with it and I admit, it is pretty cool. It has all the features a cool smartphone would have but it’s a computer!!!! I want! Someday….probably in 5 years when I will have a ton of other cooler stuff!

*  Favorite hair product: Shikai

* New alcoholic discovery: Leblon Brazilian Rum You can use it as Rum or Tequila. Pretty good stuff!

* My weird obsession this year: Adam Levine. I never used to like him or Maroon Five but now I love them and him! The Voice has shown us a great side of him I had no idea existed. I would love to meet the guy.

* Favorite new actor discovery this year: Tom Hiddleston Deep Blue Sea, War Horse. He gives amazing performances. Also, he is British….

* Favorite actress in 2012: Jessica Chastain. I absolutely love that woman! The Help and The Tree of Life were two of my favorite movies this year and her performances were to me in both movies, oscar worthy. I am excited about Zero Dark Thirty.  Jessica Chastain is going to be big, just watch!

* Best TV comedy: yes, still, of course: MODERN FAMILY

As you can see, I am not a materialistic person, I cannot really think of many products I have to share with you. I guess if I had a show, I wouldn’t have too many things to give away like Oprah! Sorry for that….or Am I?

Not. Really.

A guide to better eating consciousness

For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, let me explain. This post is my input, my two cents about meat-eating, vegetarianism, and veganism. I grew up eating meat, probably like most of you. Not only did I eat meat, but I hate some rather strange meat. My mom cooked meat 3 to 4 times a week. We would mostly have beef. Cow’s tongue was my brother’s favorite so unfortunately I had to eat that. We would have steak, roast beef, hachis-parmentier, which was similar to Shepherd’s pie, spaghetti a la Bolognese, etc. I never liked the taste of beef so my mom would have to get me chicken breast instead. We’d also have rabbit, duck, lamb, chicken, and fish on a regular basis. At Christmas time, we would have foie gras, all sorts of fish and fish spread, turkey, quails, etc. Wow. Now that I think about it, it sounds horrible. But wait, there is worst. Once my dad took us to a restaurant and one of my family members ordered kangaroo. So I tried kangaroo. I think that was peer pressure. Eating escargots and frog legs was peer pressure too because I neither do find them appealing nor tasty. My mother would eat liver and my uncle once invited us over for Christmas Eve and we had to eat blood sausage. I nearly vomited.

meatSo that’s my background. Raised a meat eater! In college, once I was free from my mom’s cooking, I stopped eating beef. The only time I would have beef again would be when I was pregnant and had horrible meat craving. I knew I was pregnant before the test confirmed it because I kept wanting to go to go out to eat a hamburger! But mainly I switched to chicken and fish. We cooked meat maybe once a week. I had significantly reduced my dairy intake as well since I realized that all the discomfort I had during childhood was coming from me being lactose intolerant. I would still eat some cheese and butter though. I didn’t consider being a vegetarian until 2002 when I unfortunately went through a health crisis. Once I returned from surgery, we started eating macrobiotics. My husband and I read the Cancer Prevention Diet by Michio Kushi and had our eyes open for the first time. The book was fascinating to me. I had just gone through a horrible ordeal with a tumor and I was convinced that food and stress had caused it.

I felt blessed in a way to have gone through that because it gave me a new perspective on life and food. I stopped eating meat when I went macrobiotics. For those who do not know, macrobiotics is a lifestyle that is pretty much 60% grain, beans, vegetables, no meat, no sweets, no alcohol except for beer that is sometimes allowed. It cuts all the refined food, sugar, artificial anything from your diet. It is NOT a raw diet though. Our family pretty much ate macrobiotic from that point on. Our 2 year old at the time learned to eat healthy and ate everything put in front of her. Then, I got tired of it so we ate, mostly macrobiotics but cheating once in a while but grains, beans and veggies were still our main source of food. I tried to be entirely vegetarian but I could not tolerate the soy burgers, tacos, etc. Those were evil to my body. It would make me angry and make my breast triple in size. Because my tumor was an ovarian one and I had major hormone problems, I decided to never touch soy again. Soy is very bad for you unless it is fermented but there is only so much natto and tempeh you can eat. I do make delicious lettuce wraps with tempeh and you can pretty much use tempeh in any dish you would use ground beef or ground turkey!

macrobiotic diet

macrobiotic diet

Fast forward to us moving to California where the real change happened. California is an amazing place to live if you want to eat less meat. We are so lucky to have so many farms and so many fresh fruits and vegetables. We have farmer’s markets everywhere, on any day of the week. Vegetarian and Vegan restaurants are on every corner and you can pretty much substitute regular milk with soy, rice or almond milk in most places (I said MOST!). Things really changed for me when I watched Earthlings. The documentary shows how animal are treated before  and while they are being slaughtered. There are many other documentaries out there, such as Vegucated that will show you the same ideology but Earthlings is the most shocking. We cried when we watched it. When I was done watching it, it was so easy to give up meat. I was personally shocked about the kosher meat industry. Watching the secret footage inside the kosher plants just made me sick. I realized back then that it was hard to even trust kosher or organic food. The only way to really avoid being part of these horrible practices was to become a Vegetarian or at best, a Vegan!

TRY VEGETARIANISM, Give peas a chance. Coffee Mug by MMKfan

TRY VEGETARIANISM, Give peas a chance. Coffee Mug by MMKfan

Now, becoming a vegetarian was easy for me. I do not like meat that much. I really only liked white meat but after having to prepare a turkey for the first time, I had no problem giving that up. There is nothing more horrific to me than cleaning a turkey and preparing it. I was so grossed out by the raw meat smell, I never touched it again. Everytime I would get a rotisserie chicken, I would be annoyed by the fact I had to dismember the poor little dead animal for my own eating pleasure. So, see, I always felt kind of bad. I grew up with my grandma killing rabbits in front of me, peeling their skin and then handing the tail to me for good luck and was always a little petrified but it was part of life. Being a grown up now, and having more awareness, I realize that we do not need meat to survive. A nice part of Vegucated is talking about our historic need for meat, etc. People will argue that we are carnivore but I disagree. We can very well survive and thrive on other food. We will not only reduce our carbon footprint but we will also be more humane to animals. My grandma had a farm, she had two dairy cows. She loved her cows and treated them well. As a child, I thought it was cool to be on the farm and watch my grandma milk the cows. I saw a baby cow being born. I also would walk the fields with my grandma, boots on, walking in the muddy trails until we reached the field where cows were awaiting their lunch. We would feed them, pumping water, etc. My brother, cousins and I would play games in the hay or around the farm. It was the best. I would pick up fresh eggs from the hens. I would watch my grandma make her own cheese. Farms are no longer like this. Our demand for meat had made us partner in crime with the farming factories. The more we eat, the more crowded animals will be. It is not human for pigs, cows, chicken to be thrown on top of one another while they are waiting to be slaughtered. Many get diseased or die before they are even massacred. There is some raw footage in Earthlings and Vegucated that will most likely shock you. I know it shocked me. The viciousness of some of the workers is disgusting.I sometimes ask people to picture this: imagine it is far in the future. We have been colonized by a foreign alien people who sees us as “their animals” (for the record, I want to believe that if ET life does make it here, they will hopefully have more wisdom that us), gathers us, puts us in farms, artificially impregnates us women so that we can keep lactating for them (because we all know that colostrum is the best for your baby…right…hopefully I do not need to spend a whole hour on this simple fact). Imagine the sadness and suffering we would go through when they take our child away from us. Imagine hearing how they killed our baby boy for meat. Imagine getting sick and not having care or being killed because of it. Picture yourself next to a fellow human, asking each other, why are they doing this to us, there is so much other kind of food they could eat. Why do they think we are less than them? Maybe the ET people thinks we do not feel pain, maybe they think we are less than them because we do not communicate in the same way. But how do they truly know? Think about it. That is what we do to animals when we send them to slaughter, eat them, or drink their milk.

Listen, I am not a mean person. I even think Peta’s approach is a little too strong (I still support them but sometimes distance myself from them). I am aware of how hard it is to be a vegetarian or for me a vegan. My goal is to be a Vegan but I love cheese and butter too much. I never liked cow’s milk and eggs so that’s easy for me. I have been baking without eggs and milk forever. What we do is what we can. We try to do our homework before we buy a product. I still think I am irresponsible for eating cheese, knowing how a poor goat has to have babies just so I can eat yummy cheese, but I am a work in progress. We limit the amount of goat cheese we eat. Only once in a blue moon will we have regular cow’s cheese and we always try to get local cheese. It costs us an arm and aleg but it is only a small price to pay for the cruelty animals had to go through to bring us that cheese. We also mix it up and do eat other type of cheese such as nut cheese. Butter. Well I can go without it but again, I go through phases where I have to have it. Otherwise, we use olive oil and grapeseed oil for high temperature. We stay away from corn or canola oil. Earth balance is ok so we would sometimes have that. So as a general rule, we eat cheese and butter for cravings and treats. Being a Vegan is not easy. I mean, if you love chocolate, it is difficult. I am a chocoaholic and Lindt is one of my favorite. The creamy milk chocolate bar is out of this world and I feel bad about it because it has milk in it. Don’t get me wrong, I buy vegan chocolate….and it’s good. I can bake with vegan chocolate but around Christmas time, I gotta have my Lindt. It is easier to avoid gelatin and buy vegan clothes or shoes for me than avoiding chocolate!My point is that nobody is perfect but what we can all do is do our best. Some of us can be vegan in a split second. Some people can only be vegetarian. That’s ok. I would recommend however to just at least try to get the most human eggs and milk. It is possible. Do your homework, call the companies you shop from and ask questions, visit a farm. If you eat meat, do the same. Eat organic and from a local farm. If you do not adopt a vegetarian diet, at least try to make up for it by reducing your carbon footprint and encouraging others to do the same. The time you will give will somehow compensate. nmm-button-500-300x300

I am not one to judge those who eat meat if they do not know what truly happens. Buying meat is so easy. It’s prepackaged and no one thinks how an animal’s life was taken becaused of it. A lot of us would rather not know because the truth hurts too much and once we know and continue eating meat, we become active participants in the mistreatment of animals. Awareness is important. Educating ourselves and our children is important so that we can hopefully change our attitude. Children who are raised vegetarian find it easy. The more we can raise vegetarian or vegan children, the more we are helping our planet and saving future generations. I think that taking children to see animals (not in a zoo!) in sanctuaries is a great idea. They usually befriend the animals and see that they have feelings. My kid is the one who made me stop eating lamb because she burst into tears when I explained that lamb was a baby sheep. Ironically enough, I had gone through the same ordeal as a young child but was desensitized because of my meat eating culture. Us, those who grew up eating meat might always have challenges but we can do our best as long as we have patience. Do not punish yourself if you cheat. I once had to have meat. I felt my body needed it. I did. I was so mad at myself but then I though, oh well, I will not do it next time. Temptation will always be there if you once loved meat. One step at a time. Start by reducing your meat and dairy intake and then slowly move to a more vegetarian diet. You will not become vegetarian overnight. Also you need to allow yourself to explore all the yummy dishes you can make while being a vegetarian or vegan. It does not have to be boring or bland. Trust me. I make the most out of this world desserts and dishes! Sometimes people don’t realize they are eating vegan desserts!

In my next posts in this categories, I will go into more details about how you can live a happy Vegetarian or Vegan life. I will share recipes, ideas and more links.

Leaving you with a few other documentaries to watch:

Forks over Knives

Food, Inc.

Food matters

Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead  

Lunch Hour

Farm Sanctuary in NY

Happy Trails Farm Animal Sanctuary, Inc.

American Sanctuary Association