Somewhere in San Francisco on a back porch in July, Just looking up to heaven at this crescent in the sky

One of the hardest parts of spending a whole year sick was that I couldn’t take any vacations or even weekend trips without having to worry about every little detail. What would I eat? Would I find something organic? Would I remember to take all my supplements? Would pain prevent me from doing things I wanted to do? Would I be a burden to whoever I was with? It was horrible and everywhere I went, whether it was New York for a weekend, or Birmingham for New Years, I was faced with obscene amounts of stress and depression. Since I healed my Candida this past spring, I have been dying to go on a trip and experience something new without intense feelings of sadness and longing to be normal again. This past weekend, I finally got that chance.

Since discovering the Grateful Dead at the age of 15, I have always wanted to visit San Francisco. Not only is it the mecca for hippie culture and the music of the 1960’s, but Northern California is just one of those places that everyone needs to visit in their life time. The stars just so happened to align, and my boyfriend was going to be playing some shows in the northwest. After being sick for a year and not being able to do anything, I had accrued so much time off at work, that we were able to make a vacation out of this. Thanks to JetBlue and my roommate’s Virgin America buddy passes, I was able to travel for $130 round trip.

I flew in on a Wednesday morning and met up with my boyfriend who had arrived in San Francisco the night before. We went to Brenda’s French Soul Food, which was one of the many restaurants on my list, and enjoyed an amazing brunch. Once we were done, we realized that our hotel was only a few doors down. We checked in, and then got to exploring. Day one, my main priority was checking out the Haight Ashbury district. We walked about two miles and arrived to the place where so many legendary musicians lived, played, and wandered. That day, it was my late Uncle Dave’s birthday, and he was the person who made me love the Grateful Dead. It was so important and special to me to be there on that day. As we approached 710 Ashbury Street, the home where the Grateful Dead lived in the 60’s, an intense wave of emotions came over me. Tears clouded my eyes as I walked up and saw the stoop where Jerry and the gang would sit and play music. Obviously I had a photo shoot there and took it all in. I signed me and my uncle’s name on the tree out front, and then we continued the journey. Next stop was the legendary Amoeba Music record shop. I had heard about this place years ago and was so excited to be there. There were crates upon crates of records new and old, and the walls were plastered with original, first print Grateful Dead posters. It was truly a beautiful sight. After basking in the glory of crossing things off my bucket list, we made our way across the bridge to Oakland, where my boyfriend was playing a show at Wormhole Wednesday.

Day two was dedicated to hitting all the tourist attractions in San Francisco. We walked around Union Square, Chinatown and North Beach. We worked our quads while climbing up the famous Lombard Street and were blessed with a gorgeous view of the city and the ocean. We then stopped at Ghirardelli Square to see how their chocolate is made, and then made our way to Fisherman’s Wharf. We strolled along the water, tried some clam chowder, and enjoyed the ocean air. By the afternoon, we ended up at Pier 33, ready to take the ferry to Alcatraz Island. On the ride to the infamous prison, the views of the San Francisco skyline were jaw dropping. I never realized their skyline was so incredible. We arrived at the prison and took a tour, learned about people who tried to escape, heard captivating stories, and even got to sit in the jail cells. It was an awesome piece of history to learn about. After getting back to land, we met up with my cousin for dinner. Its so nice having friends and family all over the world.

Exploring San Francisco was beautiful, but the real beauty began on day three when we picked up a rental car and made our way to the Redwood Forest. Our points of interest were Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. The sights when the drive started to change from highway to scenic back roads were so beautiful. The smell of garlic overwhelmed us as we drove past the garlic fields in Santa Cruz. Every mile there was a farm stand selling fruit, garlic, and 6 for $1 Avocados. When we finally approached the foot of the mountain, everything completely changed. The air was cleaner, the sun shone brighter, and all you could see was nature. I will never forget driving up the winding roads to the Redwood Forest, blasting Pink Floyd, with the California sun shining on my face. We pulled up to the forest and spent the day exploring, finding all the best views, and getting awe-inspiring footage for my boyfriend’s music video. What an incredible backdrop for my person’s creative vision. As we left the forest, the sun was setting and the sky was filled with the most intense and gorgeous pink color I have ever seen. We threw on some Lil’ Peep and felt the presence of the pink-loving, fallen musician all around us. Next order of business was making a pit stop at In N Out before stopping in Folsom for the night.

On day four, we traveled to Tahoe City where my boyfriend would be playing the last show of his West Coast tour. We pulled up to Lake Tahoe and our jaws hit the floor. We had no idea the type of beauty we were going to witness before arriving and all we could say was “Oh my fucking god.” The sights of beautiful Lake Tahoe with snow-capped mountains in the background was easily one of the most beautiful things I had ever seen.  We stood there in awe and soaked it all in, and then hit the famous Moe’s BBQ joint. Later that night, my boyfriend played a show at Wormhole Tahoe. The venue was a fun little Mexican restaurant/bar on the water. The vibes at this event were some of the best I’ve ever felt. The promoters were incredibly accommodating and hospitable, the sound was absolutely excellent, and the crowd was filled with beautiful, sweet people who just wanted to have a good time. It’s amazing that we can travel all the way across the country and be treated better than we are in my boyfriend’s home town. There’s just something calming and pleasant about the West Coast attitude.

The next day we began the journey back to San Francisco where we would hit some more tourist destinations. We ended our trip with the most spectacular view of the Golden Gate Bridge from a mountain top in Sausalito. Actually, spectacular doesn’t begin to describe it.

I’m so grateful that I was able to experience something new. I’m so grateful for my person and that I have the means to adventure when I can, when so many don’t. I’m grateful that I have my health almost 100% back and can go on trips and not have to worry anymore. I’m grateful for the messages I received from friends telling me that they’re happy for me, and that the smile on my face in the pictures from my trip made their day. The smiles were so genuine. I’m so grateful to be back to smiling on a regular basis. I truly can’t wait for my next adventure.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Don’t Let The Holidays Get You Down

So this time last year, I was a couple months into my Candida diet and absolutely dreading the holidays. I kept thinking about my step dad’s stuffing, my mom’s creamed corn, and my grandma’s homemade rolls and coconut cream pie. The thought of not being able to touch any of these culinary traditions seriously made me miserable. Instead of heading home early to help my mom prepare, I had to wake up early to make myself an entire Thanksgiving spread, completely moderated to fit my depressing, gut-healing diet. What is thanksgiving without gluten, sugar, and dairy? Sounds boring, right? Well, I reluctantly made it work. My mom and step dad hooked it up with an organic turkey, and I made myself some slammin’ sides and gut-friendly desserts.

If you’re going through something like I did this holiday season, I’m with you. I know how much it sucks. Believe me, I cried over it and felt super sorry for myself. God, I was really annoying. But when all was said and done, my special thanksgiving wasn’t half bad. At least I was surrounded by family and had food in front of me. My situation could have been a lot worse.

Below are some recipes I used, and some recipes that I think look good. Best of luck. It won’t be this way forever. Don’t let the holidays get you down. This time last year, I was super sad, super skinny, and never thought I would be able to enjoy food again. Well here I am, prepping to smash Thanksgiving this year. I’m looking extra forward to the leftovers sandwiches come 9 PM Thanksgiving night 🙂

  1. Roasted Winter Squash with Caramelized Onions and Olives
  2. Thyme Roasted Sweet Potatoes
  3. Pomegranate Butternut Squash Quinoa
  4. Mashed Cauliflower
  5. Fennel Apple Slaw
  6. Whipped Japanese Sweet Potatoes
  7. Raw Cranberry Sauce
  8. Apple Cranberry Stuffing
  9. Stuffed Turkey Breasts 
  10. Herb Roasted Turkey Legs
  11. Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Squash 
  12. Herb Gravy 
  13. Coconut Ginger Cookies
  14. Cinnamon Pecan Crumb Cakes
  15. Vegan and Grain Free Pumpkin Pie
  16. Apple Crisp

5 Years Ago Today

1451417_10201083015017899_2001230508_n

5 years ago today, I met the love of my life….

In 2012, I met a huge group of people who loved the same DJ that I did. I thought I was the only one who traveled to see this man perform, but I was wrong. I joined a Facebook fan group, and by November 2012, I was getting ready to go on a 5 night show run with friends I hardly knew. It was a cold Thursday morning in November when I embarked on my journey to U Mass Amherst for the second stop of the tour. On the way, I found out floor wristbands were all given out, and that i’d have to enjoy the show from the bleachers. Also on the way, I got a message on Twitter from the very DJ that I would be crying over just hours later. One thing I love about Bassnectar is how much he interacts with his fans, and how genuinely happy he is to do so. Anyway, he knew I was a huge fan, and sent me a message telling me to come say whats up after the show. I told him I didn’t get a floor pass, so I wouldn’t be able to make it down, and that I’d see him in Jersey the following night. A few hours later, a friend and I were heading to the venue, when I received a call from someone on Bassnectar’s crew. He told me that Bassnectar wanted me to have a floor wristband, and to meet him outside the venue. I was so excited and grateful. I couldn’t believe he’d go out of this way to do that for me. I got there, met up with this person, got my wristband, and I went inside. I ran straight to the sound booth, where I shared my first hugs with friends I had made in the Facebook group. I planned on standing there for the remainder of the show, but then ran into a friend that grabbed my hand and brought me all the way up to the front row. And that is where I met Eric. I still remember the way he looked at me when he turned around and saw me there. The smile on his face had to have been a reflection of the smile on mine. I decided to spend the rest of the night up there with him. We had the best time together. It felt amazing to be with someone who loved Bassnectar as much as I did. Up until that point, the only people who really attended these shows with me were friend’s who didn’t know his music. Having someone to dance with, to get excited about all the same songs with, and someone to freak out with when I met Bassnectar later than night, was seriously the most beautiful gift. I knew Eric was different. It was truly fate the way it worked out. We spent the remainder of tour together and the rest is history. Thank you Bassnectar, for bringing me to my person, to some of my closest friends, and for giving me irreplaceable experiences that I will never ever forget. 

Beet White Bean and Basil Hummus

FullSizeR

Ingredients

  • 1 can of beets (no salt added)
  • 1 15-oz. can cooked white beans
  • juice of 1/2 a large lemon
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 Tbsp Tahini
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 handful fresh basil leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Place the beets, white beans, and 2 tbsp water in a food processor and blend
  2. Add lemon juice, garlic and tahini and blend
  3. Add basil leaves, and continue to blend while slowly drizzling in olive oil
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste, blend
  5. Adjust seasonings and herbs to your liking and add more water if the consistency is toot thick
  6. Enjoy!

*This recipe is safe for gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, candida diets diets.

Hello Stomach Pain, My Old Friend….

When  I was fighting my candida battle, a big part of the process was eliminating foods and reintroducing them to see if they bothered me. Doctors refused to do skin allergy testing on me, but I did get many different blood allergy tests. All those tests told me that I was allergic to essentially everything I was eating. This could have been a symptom of my leaky gut. While blood tests aren’t always accurate, I eliminated each of those foods over the course of my year-long healing process. I didn’t notice any real changes or any new pains when reintroducing, but I was suspicious of a few of the main staples in my diet; one of them being sweet potatoes. I was eating sweet potatoes so much because I missed carbs so badly and they satisfied my cravings. When I eliminated them and reintroduced them, I noticed some pains, but at the time, they seemed no different than the pain I had been feeling daily.

Now that I am feeling better, I don’t really worry about those reactive foods anymore. Since my leaky gut is on the mend, I think I generally do okay with anything healthy that I choose to eat. Sadly, in the past week, my pain has returned. It hasn’t been anything unbearable, but its definitely there, and it feels like it did this time last year. It was scaring me because I will be DAMNED if I ever go back to that horrible time in my life. I was trying to figure out what could have been bothering me. Could it have been the drinks I had, the fun-size snickers from the Halloween basket at work, the gluten? Then it dawned on me….sweet potatoes. Last weekend, my boyfriend and I bought some delicious organic sweet potato chips from Aldi. They only had three ingredients, so surely they were fine. Well, we crushed the whole bag, and the next day, I felt some stomach pains. Fast forward to last night, I made some incredible sweet potato cookies, and today, I am feeling pain again. I think all this time, I refused to believe it could be my beloved favorite veggie, but I need to be honest with myself. Before the chips and the cookies, it had been a month since the last time I had sweet potatoes, and I was feeling totally fine. After we finish this batch of cookies, I think I am done with sweet potatoes for a while.

Hello stomach pain my old friend…..you can fuck right off again 🙂

Warm Kale Salad

IMG_0760

I made this recipe for my mom when she was struggling to find lunches for her vegan, gluten free, low FODMAP diet. It was easy, delicious, and perfect for meal prep!

Ingredients

Makes 8 Servings

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 fennel bulbs
  • 1 beet
  • 8 cups Organic Kale
  • 1/3 cup raisins (no added sugar)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp water
  • salt, pepper, ground coriander and red pepper flakes to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
  2. Coat your whole beet with oil, and wrap in aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes.
  3. While the beet is baking, remove stalks from fennel, wash, and chop
  4. Remove stems from the kale leaves, wash, and chop
  5. Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add fennel to pot and sauté for 12 minutes until tender
  6. Add kale by the handful, stirring gently
  7. Stir in apple cider vinegar, water, red pepper flakes and raisins.
  8. Once your beet is done, take it out of the oven and let it cool for 5-10 minutes
  9. Lower the heat to 350 degrees and toast your chopped walnuts for 8 minutes, then add them to the pot
  10. Chop your beet, and add it to the pot
  11. Season with salt, pepper, any other spices you may like, and serve

 

*This recipe is safe for gluten free, vegan, vegetarian, candida diets and Low FODMAP diets.

Why I Kneel In Solidarity

This past weekend, several athletes took a knee during the national anthem on game day. They stood in solidarity with Colin Kaepernick after he was called a “son of a bitch” by the President of the United States. The country is now in an uproar and these peaceful protests are being called disrespectful by many. Here is why I support the protest:

 

An open letter to those offended,

It bothers you that people are kneeling during the national anthem? Why doesn’t it bother you that our country’s national anthem celebrates the blood shed from African slaves? Is it because you’re a racist, or because you simply didn’t know? Yes, that’s right, interpret it how you will, but the national anthem for the United States of America celebrates the murder of African-Americans. Before you start taking offense, why don’t you read the lyrics and understand what you are defending? You’re defending an outdated anthem written by a man who was the family of slave owners, yet you expect African-Americans to stand during it? Respect it? THAT right there is oppression itself. You know what else is oppression? Being angry that people are kneeling during a racist song for a country that doesn’t protect them and respect their rights. Black Americans have died in America’s wars but do not fully experience the freedom that comes with that sacrifice as white people do. We claim everyone has the right to protest, yet no matter what African-Americans do, no matter how they protest, somebody has to say its not right. Kneeling peacefully on a field isn’t right? You don’t like it? So maybe they should lead peaceful protests in the streets instead. But WAIT, when they do that, they get arrested, tear-gassed, pepper sprayed, and murdered. So what would be considered okay? If this peaceful demonstration to protest injustice and wrongful treatment is so offensive and disrespectful to the military, why are there thousands of Veterans around the world taking a knee in solidarity? If you’re so upset that people are “disrespecting Veterans” why are you not upset that we are still living in a racist country even after Veterans fought and died to protect civil rights? Hm? Why does the confederate flag not offend you? That ACTUALLY disrespects our flag. Why are you not upset that we are disrespecting the Emancipation Proclamation? When soldiers fought against Britain during the Revolutionary War, it was a victory for white people. The American flag was raised in victory as its black citizens, who were still not legally considered human beings at the time, continued to suffer in slavery for the next 80 years. “The Star-Spangled Banner” is as much a patriotic song as it is an insult to black people who had the audacity to fight for their freedom. How dare they! In 2017, as white people stand for the national anthem, most of them sit in silence as police kill black people and hide behind the excuse that “they deserved it.” So did 12 year old Tamir Rice deserve it too? Because him playing at the playground was a “threat,” right? The national anthem is a symbol of white hegemony and protects anti-black violence. It was never intended to reflect the protection of our humanity.

Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Interesting. “No refuge could save the hireling and slave from the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.” This represents the authors satisfaction in the death of slaves who freed themselves. Satisfaction from a man who owned slaves himself. People could argue that in his later years, Francis Scott Key actually fought for the freedom of slaves, but that is besides the point. This song was written in vein and we actually fucking expect little kids in classrooms to put their hands on their heart for it, black people to stand for it, and us all to respect it. Sorry, but no. I love America and I have nothing but the utmost respect for our Veterans. However, I don’t love what this country stands for because it doesn’t hold true for all its citizens, and until it does, I will continue to speak my mind.