A year of VEGAN

About a year ago, we watched a documentary, What the Health.  You have heard the stories that start like this.  Suspicion levels rise.  The words propaganda come to mind… and so it goes.  But that is not what I think of when I think back on that night.  I think I took into account some of the things the documentary said (well to be honest some scenes will never leave my head), but moreover I love having a challenge and nothing intrigues my husband more than a CHALLENGE.  I also just finished “Whole 30” and felt sick and sluggish which is the opposite of what I planned for.  And so it went.  Our vegan week challenge began.  We had done one the prior year and I recall the moaning and groaning so I braced myself.  But moaning and groaning never came.

A week turned into a month, and… as we have it now… a month turned into a year.

A year vegan for this meat and cheese loving guy and gal has shocked many but I have to say it has not been nearly as hard as I thought.  Moreover, much to many naysayers’ demise, Cary has retained his muscle and strength and lost weight.  I was able to lose a little, but that was not a side effect for me until I added in some shakeology, portion control and most importantly, back to the exercise grind I went!

Over the year Cary lost 14 pounds and looks better than ever.  He is my own personal Benjamin Button.


I lost one pound until the exercise and shakeology.  I can say after 30 days of light workout three days a week and shakeologyevery day I am down 8 pounds.  I know the last 8 are always the hardest for me so I will soon have to step up that game.


With a year vegan behind us, I can say we have little intention to change.  I have considered fish at times of travel but have yet to make that decision.  My gut, overall health, skin, hair and mind are much happier with the no meat and dairy – that is certain.  Also my grocery bill and I are back in love!  All the hogwash about not being able to afford eating healthy has been turned upside down in this house.  Our grocery bill has gone down significantly so much that I can afford a meal delivery and so grateful for the creative new options each week through TB!2 meals from purple carrot!

Three nights a week (and often more due to my expansion of chef fun) we are eating like kings and queens and half of it guests have no clue it is vegan J  For more looks at our amazing plates these days visit my Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/irishflan_fit_mastiff_mama/.

Now for the questions you may have (or I get every day):

Where do you get protein?

In many things I eat. For a quick visual here you go:plant protein

My husband and I will soon be investing in some t-shirts for the frequency of this question!

don't ask about my protein

Don’t you miss cheese?

At first the honest answer was yes… but then I would play in my head what I learned about cheese and how it is made and started my adventure in vegan cheese making.  Truth be told the first night we made 7 batches.

keep calm no dairy

It must be so hard at a restaurant – you must never go out…

At the occasional restaurant that only serves meat, dairy and bagged lettuce… it would be hard but we never ate there in the first place.  We have loved diving into the many vegan restaurants but also we still go to many of our faves and just change what we order.  I almost wish we had a problem here as I prefer to eat at home, but the hubs and kids sure do love restaurants.  At first, our lifesaver was the happy cowapp!

It must be sooo expensive to eat healthy…

Answered above… but for more detail a lot of the premade fake meat and cheese are expensive – so don’t buy those!  There are even great blogs on how to eat on 1.50 a day!  You can’t beat that.  I have fallen in love with Rawvanaand Sweet Potato Soul bloggers as they make it all effortless and still fun.

sweet pot soul rawvana

You must have to take so many vitamins for all the stuff you are not getting.

The only vitamin added is B12per my acupuncturist and doc recommendation!

Breakfast would be the hardest… no eggs?  No cream cheese?  No bacon?

Again my breakfast primarily is shakeology but I also love some good overnight oats and avocado toasts.  There are many scrambles, burritos, etc. but I keep it simple to avoid not skipping!

If I am not vegan is there still stuff you recommend?

Of course!  Eat the rainbow – the more colorful your food the better.  Lots of greens, reds, purples, yellows, oranges!

bountiful basket

Drink water… likely a lot more than you drink today.

Consider “less” – less dairy, less meat.  Some people do a meatless Monday.  Some people do a week a month… or a stretch of 3 days.  Anything counts toward your health and how much you show yourself some love and consideration.  If nothing else, try one vegan recipe a week!  Make it an adventure, watch some YouTube, read some blogs. If none of this appeals to you – I still say meal prep and make sure you plan for your week.  My favorite new addiction is making my own dressings!

homemade vegan dressings

You can do one thing or more… but at the end of the day put you first!If none of the above appeals to you… MOVE!

YOLO diet and the havoc it can cause

Since enduring a great loss in my life and making yet another human, I can’t quite grasp what has happened to my relationship with food… and furthermore, the impact that relationship has had on my body and how I feel day in and day out.  Sure I am exhausted from said tiny humans and working, but I think what is holding me back from my true potential of feeling amazing and alive is the fuel I put in my vessel.

Some of the feelings behind food vary…

I survived this so I deserve to eat anything I want.

You only live once… may as well live with cheesecake.

I miss him… maybe I should eat his favorite Ben and Jerry’s.

Work is exhausting, can’t wait to wind down with a glass of wine.

Prosciutto is my home… it brings way too much comfort to deny myself.

Well… I am making food for another tiny human… best get in those extra calories.

Should we have a cheese plate at that party? Maybe with some fresh salami? We are celebrating after all.

Did someone say Tuesday?  Well that is taco Tuesday… with extra guac!

Does it have copious amounts of dairy?  I am in!  Shake or mozzarella?  why not both?!?!

Ohhhhh… and the pure addiction to fake coffee (decaf).  Yes… though it is decaf and has been for the past 5 years, I cannot shake that hardcore craving for that smell and flavor first thing in the morning… and thereafter any time I pass a starbucks or dutch bros!

You name it… I have felt it.  Any reason for my hall pass to put whatever food (or drink) in my body whenever.  Throughout my last year or so some things have crept back in my vessel.  More dairy than necessary, salt, salt, salt, sugar, soda, fake coffee by the gallons, pizza, wings, wine, even dangerous little mini desserts from costco my hubs will bring home to bring cheer.  Once upon a time it was health that gave me cheer.


I have that distant memory of the girl that lived to put healthy food in her body and the “hall pass” was much more limited.  The girl that enjoyed hiking and working out.  The girl that could take the stairs and felt actually awake during the day versus in a fog.  I miss that girl… and I have the power to go find her.


With that, I am taking the plunge.  May 1st I will make an attempt at the Whole30 and hope to crush it like it is my job!  Once my energy and health feels balance, I truly believe the rest will come.

You are only given one body… why not make the most of it?

changes excuses


Meal prepping for the week…Ready… set…

meal prep sundayThere is often a failure for how we nourish our bodies correlated directly with how we plan for our bodies, and above all else… prioritize.  Five take out sessions a week is easily accomplished when working full time and being a mommy… let alone if you have further agreements.  I have long been an advocate for meal prep and will often have parties of two or more hanging in my kitchen on the weekend for the fun of it all.  So many have expressed they “could never” imagine doing all that work.  Well, in truth many of us already go to the grocery store, and many of us actually cook on occasion.  The time is already spent… it is simply looking at how we use that time.  For some time now I have dedicated two hours on Sunday to ensure I have access to healthy food all week (as do my little ones… and my husband if he is so inclined).  One hour (or less) at the grocery… bring your list and shop for in season and sale if you are on a budget.  Protein, veggies and fruit are the staples!!!!!  Make sure some healthy fats get in there too.

If you have a co-op, this makes it even easier… you pick up your basket and make do with what you get!!!!!  As long as you are eating the colors of the rainbow you are in the right direction.IMG_9855

Grocery ideas:  all the goods for the most nourishing and flavorful salads you can imagine, rotisserie chicken or lunch meat, eggs, avocados, fruits (especially those in season berries), oil and vinegar for some homemade dressing deliciousness, maybe some protein bars for emergency, and don’t forget the citrus to make sure that water goes down all week.


I still buy bananas, almond milk, and spinach for my infamous Shakeology every day.  I have convinced my hubs that counts as cooking so that is his daily duty to share the chef role.  A bit of a stretch but I’ll take it!


Now… you have an hour or so to be the most efficient meal line you can accomplish.  Get all the tools out together (see picture).  Strain, clean, and move along.  All the dishes laid out and fill fill fill!  I baggie my protein and put on the top of the sale tupperware along with my infamous avocado.  On lazy weeks I even by the prepackaged protein servings (e.g. eggs, nuts, and cheese).  And… pack that hummus and make that dressing.  You are set.  The first couple of times can take up to 90 minutes as you get the hang of it but now this is down to under 40 minutes for this gal… I may be competitive and have created at home competitions for speed.  And no matter what, don’t under estimate those little ones… they can chop, or wash, or simply be taste testers.  If you have those furry friends… bring them in for the clean up and the scraps.  No need to waste with bellies to fill.

Well there you have it… some simple tips to start just the exploration of planning for yourself, your body, and your belly!

The signs are ever present… as are you…

IMG_1673Bird shit, full moons, feathers, the people that have strikingly similar posture and hair, songs that sound as if you are talking right to me… or through me, any crisis and somehow someone with your name is talking to me, sitting in a hotel bar watching a little brother visit his sister at work talking to me about his power hour and just turning 21 while eating hot wings and sharing with her when she thinks no one is looking.  This is what I live to feel now.  These are my signs you still are always by my side.

At my worst moments, when I think I fail at life, or I failed at you, or I just need to see you… you still never let me down.

I can be standing in the nursery, feeling exhausted as hell and as if I am full of imperfections, and she looks up at me, just like you did, and gives me that pinch.  Then I cross between one world and another and feel your arms wrap around me.  Sometimes I can even feel your humming and nuzzling your head above mine.

I can be driving in a car dialing your number just to hear your voice, and suddenly I feel you riding shotgun and you visit just in time.

I can go to bed every night… knowing if it is needed, you will visit… and you do.  You always know what I need no matter how far you have traveled.  You are my north in life.  Whenever I am lost, I could always look to you and it took me some time in this process… this grief… this transition… to know I still can.  You are still there.  God I wish I could hug you as I used to… but it is different now.  At the end of the day you still wrap those big arms around me as I need and oddly enough I can still hear your infectious laughter.

In my earlier years when I lost people I feared I would lose memory of sounds, smells, feelings, and more.  I have an enormous sense of comfort that I will never lose that of you.   You are my forever brother and forever my north.

I will always envy the brother sister conversations I see (that are audibly two ways as I witness this very moment)… but sometimes having the one way conversation still works and then I await the signs.  Again.. I have to say the bird shit is not cool.

In case I ever would fear I would forget a single detail from birth to end… I havee somehow had a baby that encompasses all that was you.  She is fierce, takes no prisoners, makes you laugh until you cry, makes you cry until you give in… I will never forget and thank you for giving to her spirit.  Even in the most trying moments, I see you and can get a glimpse of memory.
I told your power hour story to a stranger and his friend and sister tonight and we laughed and laughed.  I know that was you.

Thank you.

As women we…

we need women

As women we love, we lust, we care, we build each other up, we have each others’ backs, we inspire each other, we learn from each other, we grow together, we grow apart, we bond, we breed, we cook, we clean, we work, and we may even tire.  Together as women we make each other better.  We continue to set the bar higher and help each other grow and prosper.

she's badassIn the working world as women we are kicking ass.  Running major companies, selling amazing technology advances, fighting for people’s rights, being new and creative innovators, perfecting the passion of creativity, breaking boundaries in athletics, helping those less fortunate and more… we are paving the way for the women we are raising to wildly outdo what we will accomplish in this lifetime.

Looking around as a woman wild with fortune I ask myself… how much is luck, how much is good decision making, and how much is sheer amazing women filling this world.  I have always been blessed to be surrounded with loving, tender, fiercely loyal, intelligent women… women with impeccable integrity.  Is that luck?  I think the good decision making I can give myself credit for is the ability to spot these women and return all the goodness they give to me.  The luck is that they fell in my life’s pathway in the first place.

There are often times in life when you stop and are overwhelmed and moved to tears by the wonder of it all.  This week for me has been one of them.  Grateful for all I have and longing for what I miss…. like someone correcting all of these run-on sentences 🙂

behind every womanView More: http://agnesartphoto.pass.us/sandy

If you are reading this you are likely one of the women I thank my lucky stars for every day.  To you, I applaud your woman’s work.  Here is to the next generation of true trailblazers.  And of course, the most thanks to the woman who shaped every detail of who I am, my mother… the woman who showed me that everything is possible and to never settle for anything short of amazing.may we raise them






Motherhood’s Finest Moments


Motherhood is something that has both ups and downs. Scrolling through social media and hearing updates from loved ones can sometimes give the illusion that motherhood is all up… all ladders… no chutes. Yesterday was a ladder. I should have gotten a gold medal. MADD walk and zoo in the morning. (insert napping in the car because to damn scared to move the baby), swim class, lunch out, naps and then pumpkin patch and festivities followed by burgers and shakes… all with two glorious children three and under! Today… well today was a chute. Today is what you don’t read about as much. Today is the day that you slowly daydream every minute you can about five minutes peace.

Motherhood today looked like a child screaming so loud because she finally saw a scratch she has had for over 24 hours. That said child screamed so much that she made herself vomit… everywhere. Husband trots off to work and so we enter the survival zone. Breastfeeding on demand all day with a child that thinks boobs can be removed and taken to go and she slurps and turns her head across the room. Not to mention… a child with four teeth that are similar to what I can remember from the Jaws movie so much that when nursing at times I can hear the theme song.. duh nuh duh nuh….

Wrestling for diaper changes, wild acrobats to give medicine discretely, blowing in her face when for the third time she decides that she is so mad she will hold her breath until she turns blue. This child honestly gets so mad so quick – I have to pee, mad. I have to put her down, mad. I have to sneeze, mad. Well maybe it is not always mad but I think all that have witnessed her reactions can say it is a far cry from happy. This is my same child that in the next minute will be clapping and inhaling in awe at another miracle, such as her sister playing peek a boo for the 90th time.

Praying every time she falls asleep that not a single noise as made during the infamous transfer to the crib and marine style crawling out of there just for a simple moment of shut eye since there was no sleep to be had last night. Begging your three year old to watch KungFu Panda and listen to the monitor. Keeping the baby in the laundry basket while folding as this is the only thing second best to clinging to mommy for dear life. Prepping another glorious crock pot dinner and throwing food at the three dogs and two babies just so you can finish the chopping. Cleaning up after daddy and putting away his FIVE baskets of clean clothes that somehow cannot find their way into the closet as your three year old says, “you should really talk to him about this mess… he is almost a sicko.”

Feeling outrage and betrayal on the inside when you find out your partner has gone to the store solo and you are still trying to get through the house with two chimpanzees stuck to your legs screaming. Kindly asking him to turn around and take the children with. Making up new lyrics… today’s was not half bad.

All by myself
I want to be all by myself.
When I was young,
I didn’t have any kids.
There was no one crying or screaming…. (well you get the point)

Just as you think you are hitting a home run with your hubs taking both kids to costco, poops deluxe hits that only a shower can cure. With one child strapped into the van reciting Tinkerbells Lost Fairy Pirate for the 1000th time this weekend, you run the other into the shower which somehow consists of washing, feeding, tricking her into ear drops all while hoping the conditioner washes out of your hair and doesn’t get in her eyes.

And there we have it… five minutes peace.

I hope other moms have these moments too. Writing about them brings a strange sense of peace… and moreover I want to remember these moments too. Life is not all unicorns pooping rainbows 🙂


My last first…

This past week marks my last first.  You see after a great loss, in addition to the unimaginable grief, there are obstacles along the way.  One of my fonder people also in this process calls them throat punches and I feel that does it somewhat justice.

Obstacles in the beginning are “the business” – figuring out what to do with everything, ensuring you are honoring the person the way he or she would want, and other matters that come along with a life lost.  Beyond the business, as time goes on, there are all the firsts.  The first holiday.  As I glazed over a birthday that was simply two days after because I was barely breathing… The first real holiday that hit was his birthday.  Celebrating that without him was the most intense throat punch I could have ever imagined after enduring such a loss.  I was blessed to spend the weekend for a cause I know he understands, suicide prevention.  I traveled to the beach, wrote his name in the sand, and remembered him for his beginning and middle, not his end.  Then came the slew of other obstacles or “firsts”… First thanksgiving… Christmas… New Years. – not a single ridiculous picture sent my way at midnight with an emoticon wink to make sure I knew even at midnight, that he thought of me.  This time I lit a candle and stayed outside with him looking at the moon.  Cheers to him.

The year goes by and other major milestones hit… The birth of my daughter.  The birth of his niece.  Everything seems to march on and that makes the pain amplified… It is marching on without him. He doesn’t get to be here.  One moment, one decision, made a permanent absence we cannot get back.  We cannot get back the person we want for all our days, all our milestones, and frankly, the person that comforted us back in all of life’s throat punches.  A wise woman told me that he is still here, there is nothing without him, it is just my job now to find a different way of incorporating him…he hasn’t gone anywhere except out of my eyesight.

To end the year of the firsts I had my very first birthday without him since he was born.  26 years of his goofy smile celebrating what was once my favorite holiday/month.  This day came with so many mixed emotions.  Celebrate because he would love that, stay home because you will be a wreck, stay distracted, cancel everything, just go with the flow… None of it worked perfectly but I did my best.  Ultimately I decided to spend the actual night solo and get a burger at a joint we once loved to go to.  All the other surrounding nights I did my best to celebrate Dana-style just as he liked.  As I braced for impact surrounding this “first” I was able to do so with the help of the kind souls my brother and I always seem to be surrounded with.  Whether family returning home, friends flying across the country, people staying with you later and later because they are not sure it is ok to leave just yet, or some flowers (just like he used to) everyone seems to pull together to be my shelter from the storm when I can’t.

The last first is over… Or so I think unless you count the anniversary as a first.  Or shall that be the beginning of yet again another new normal?  Here is to almost a year with an angel watching over me.  Here is to almost a year with the most amazing soul being at peace.  Here is to the continued morphing of inexplicable pain.  Here is to you my Jackson and the many adventures you will see me through… Just in a different way.√IMG_1817

Food prepping made easy… and healthy

Failure to plan… plan to failIMG_6900

A food prep tip guide


Ok… today we are going to talk about food prep. It seems the most daunting of topics when it comes to the 21-day fix… or for that matter anything else that is geared towards healthy eating and lifestyle.


First tip and most important… plan and make a list (for both your groceries and your meals). Many people complain that they cannot get enough variety in, but with good planning to can have something different every day if you want. I typically give myself three breakfast options, two or three lunch options, and my dinners are always different.

One daily option that I never waiver from is my shake. It is great for protein, energy, and many other super foods I may not come across in my eating.



Let’s start by categories of the 21-day fix (also known as food types) and my go-tos:


Red is protein.

My favorites include my shake, flank steak, ground turkey, chicken, pork loin, cold-water fish, eggs, lunchmeat slices such as turkey or ham, turkey bacon, tofu

For most of the above options (steak, turkey, chicken) – I buy these organic in bulk from Costco. Even eggs we get there. As for the good lunchmeat and turkey back and tofu – those we buy at Sprouts typically.


Green is veggies.

My favorites depend on what is in season. Just this last week it was zucchini, greens, peppers, and brussel sprouts. For on the go we always have cucumbers, baby carrots, radishes, bell peps, and mushrooms. Also, it is always good to have Costco organic spinach in bulk. Also romaine is great for lettuce wraps. To keep up with variety we always also have a freezer selection (my favorite are frozen green beans). Keep in mind you are eating these with some healthy oils. We splurge for the flavored ones when we can such as from the Queen Creek Olive mill. Marinating kale is sesame oil is one of my all time delicious recipes. More often than not, for time and efficiency we roast veggies (a little oil and pop in the oven and perfection in 10-15 min).

Purple is fruits.

Again, what is in season. In order to keep variety I try to get just 2 of everything (apples, oranges, nectarines). We always get fresh berries and melons when we can. More often than not a ½ banana makes its way into my shakes. Fruit is simple J


Yellows are carbs.

Wine. Yes wine is a carb so 1-3 times a week I replace a carb with wine, but of course that is not the healthiest of options. Some of my faves are quinoa, sweet potatoes, any kind of beans, rice, oatmeal, slice of bread, or tortillas. If I am trying to feel great I of course stick with the sweet potato and quinoa. Both super easy to prep for the week and can make in bulk.

Blue – fats.

You can have dairy here but I am trying to stay away. Avocado, nuts and hummus are easy to prep in individual containers and super easy on the go.


Orange – seeds and more

Pumpkin seeds are great on the go or in a salad (also sunflower or sesame). 10 olives is my favorite choice here (no not stuffed with blue cheese how I really like them). Peanuts, coconut, or dressings are another option.


“The teaspoons” – oils/butters

Again we adore flavored olive oil, love coconut oil, and adore all nut & seed butters. Super easy to add to all your meals.


Free foods –

You can have these as much as you want… flavor your water, get creative with vinegars (also a great marinade), mustards, herbs and spices are your friends to make everything unique and delicious. My absolute favorite is hot sauce of course!



Now for some meal suggestions… what do we do with all this food???

Breakfast ideas:

Shakeology of course (I typically add a half banana and a large handful of spinach).


Eggs with any vegetables we have on hand scrambled it (we refer to this as the garbage omelet).

Oatmeal with a little pb and cinnamon.

Oat or egg cups (these are great to do on meal prep day and have ready to go throughout the week).

Lunch ideas:

Huge salads (lots of greens, any other veggies that sound good, and some deli meats or canned tuna). With homemade dressings of course or good old EVOO and vinegar (we also love treating ourselves to flavored vinegars… my current favorites are lemon or peach vinegar).


Open faced sandwiches.

Chicken and veggies (or really any leftovers from last nights dinner)

Quinoa salads (with more veggies than quinoa of course).


Dinner ideas:

Flank steak, sweet pots and veggies.IMG_9085

Turkey tacos.IMG_0961

Pork tenderloin with greens.

Lemon garlic chicken and tomato basil salad.

Tofu Stir Fry

Variety is what you make of it!!!!!!!


Snack ideas:

Apples and pb

Veggies raw and hummus


Fruit bowls




With a little planning and prepping meals are a breeze. I spend about 15 minutes planning, 30 minutes shopping, and an hour prepping per week. Breakfast takes about 5 min to make, lunch is prepped already, and dinner takes me no more than 20 min typically!!!




With the end…

The end of an era.


how lucky i am

I have had far too many this year.  Any ending provides time for reflection.  A yearning to go back in time.  A reexamination of every moment from start to end.

The first time I saw you.  Our adventures.  Our soundtrack.  Our triumphs.  Our days in the trenches.  Every tear.  Every laugh.  Every late night call.  Every moment where you just showed up at the perfect time.  Every moment you picked me up when I was down.  Every moment I picked you up.  Every plan to navigate this thing we call life.  Every moment where you were the copilot.
When someone leaves your life the brain does amazing tricks.  Tricks beyond my wildest dreams.  Files and files of memories that you did not know were stored come back like a flood. A flood of moments.  A flood of emotions.  A flood of pictures.  A flood of knowing what will painfully be no longer… no more new memories to store away.

The way the brain stores memories and details can bring upon both pain and joy.  Pain that you just never grasped how much one other human could mean to you and now they are gone.  How could hundreds of thousands of memories be stored if they didn’t mean everything to you? Joy because you learn to appreciate every moment you had with that person… Now realizing it meant even more than you once thought.

As we go through life there are moments.  Hugs.  Laughter.  Tears.  Hand holding. Hours and hours of conversation.  The big debates.  Even the fights.  It will all be stored just as the moments that have already passed.  There will be more room.  More room for both joy and pain because nothing is permanent.  Enjoy today.  It will not be here tomorrow.




Open letter to my first daughter…

Oh sweet daughter of mine.  The time has come and in less than 24 hours you will no longer be an only child and those days will be of the past.  I have stayed home with you for days and snuggled and kissed you even more than you like relishing in the last moments of just you and I.  We had our last family day together yesterday and laid around watching your shows, eating whatever and snuggling.  We even let you have chips and queso for the staple of your dinner, polished off with a peach cobbler and ice cream.  The past two years and nine months of my life have been filled with utter joy because of you.  You have become such a brilliant, kind, strong young girl and I know you will be the best sister in the world. Siblings are one of the best parts of life hands down and you get to enter that part of your journey tomorrow.  I hope it makes you as happy as it made me. Being a sister is the fun in life… Enjoy every moment.  I can’t wait to raise you two girls together. I am so blessed and I can never thank you enough for all the happiness you bring to my life.Skylar year 0-2.5