About 2 weeks ago my husband and I decided to go to the Humane Society to check out the available dogs.  We've done this several times before but we never came home with anything.  Well, this gal really stole our hearts!  We instantly knew that she was going to be the perfect fit for us!  Weighing in at 86 lbs. is our newest member of our family and her name is Lucky!  She is an English Setter and Chow Chow Mix.  Despite her size, she does believe that she's a lap dog but we're loving every bit of it!  She is about 4 & 1/2 years old. 

I've wanted a dog ever since I moved out of my parent's house and my husband never had a dog but he knows that my family are huge dog lovers!  He was hesitant at the idea but then it really started to grow on him.  In our last apartment that we lived in we could've had a dog but we chose not to.  The apartment wasn't big enough and neither was the yard.  We thought that it would be unfair.  So, we decided to wait until the time was right so that we could give our future dog everything that they would need and want.  Well, now that we're moved into our first house, we have a large yard, and I'm moving along quite well in my knee recovery, we felt in our hearts that the time was right.  We just had to find that special dog.

When we came into the Humane Society our attention immediately went to this beauty!  She was shaking and scared but she showed quite a bit of interest in us.  When we started to walk away to check out the other dogs Lucky stood up and barked at us one time.  It was as if she was saying, "Hey, where are you going?  I want to go home with you!"  So we decided to meet her and when we walked into her room we formed this instant bond!  She couldn't stop licking our faces and she was so excited to see us!  So, we took her home!
So far, Lucky has been doing great and the cats really seem to love her.  Hope has grown up with dogs so she didn't take long to warm up.  Hope especially loves getting doggy kisses...it just melts my heart!  Hiro took a little bit longer but each day they get closer.  I think he was just intimidated by her large size and he thought she was going to eat him when she was only trying to sniff him!  They figured each other out though!

Here are all three of them passed out last night!  We couldn't be any happier!  She's such a great dog, a quick learner, a huge lover, a bed and couch hog, and she gives the best hugs!  We plan on doing some classes with Lucky to work on socialization and basic obedience through positive reinforcement.  I have a feeling that she may be the star of her class!  A huge Thank You to the Wisconsin Humane Society in Milwaukee...we've found the perfect dog!

I feel like these last 2 & 1/2 months have just flown by!  Although, looking back to when I had my ACI knee surgery on May 6th, it does feel like I've been in recovery longer than 2 & 1/2 months.  It's been pretty tough at times but I'm glad that I've been able to remain so positive.  I knew going into this that 6-8 weeks of no weight bearing on my right leg would be hard but I didn't imagine that it was going to be as hard as it was!  After about a month I was getting anxious to get up and get moving but unfortunately I couldn't just yet.  Most of my days were spent lying on my back while hooked up to my CPM & DVT machines while watching television.  It may sound fun to most people to lie home all day and watch television but believe me, it's not!  I think the hardest part was not being to take care of myself like I was used to and not being able to help out with things around the house.  I hate asking for help and I can be extremely stubborn.  So, it was hard to hand everything over to my husband; especially the cooking and cleaning!  Bless my husband's heart for being so incredibly patient, understanding, and willing to take care of me.  I don't know how I could've gotten through all of this without him!

So, for the first month or so we mostly ate vegan convenience foods and very simple homemade vegan meals.  I had to talk my husband through step by step directions on how to prepare the homemade meals...it was pretty comical at times!  I think the hardest part for him was the grocery shopping because I'm usually the one that does the shopping.  So, sometimes he would come home frustrated because he was reading the ingredient list on a lot of items to ensure that it was made vegan but other times he would come home excited with new vegan treats that we haven't tried yet!  After about a month of this vegan convenience eating I found my body really craving more whole foods. 

I love the fact that there are vegan convenience foods on the market because sometimes in certain situations you need them but I don't think I could eat off of these every day!  I found myself lacking energy and just not feeling 100% when eating mostly vegan convenience foods but my body has never seemed to thrive on processed foods anyways.  However, I would much rather eat vegan convenience foods vs. non-vegan convenience foods because when I was a not vegan and I would eat heavily processed foods I always felt sick!  I would end up with horrible stomach aches, other unmentionable issues, and I would feel terrible.  I have found that I do NOT have those types of sensitivities with vegan convenience foods; it's more of just a slight lack of energy.  Once I was more comfortable and mobile, I started to go grocery shopping with my husband and whiz around on one of those motorized carts!  I'll never forget the one day when we were grocery shopping and an elderly gentleman pulled up next me in his motorized cart and asked, "You want to race?"  I couldn't stop laughing!  I thought it was so cute!  Anyways, the more whole foods that we incorporated into our diet the better we both felt.  I chose simple meals that didn't take a long time to make or didn't include much prep work.  Most of these meals can be found in the "30 minutes or less" archive tab.

Right now, I've been learning how to walk again!  It's a bit harder than I expected but I'm determined!  I've been using one crutch for getting around the house for as long as I can tolerate.  Each day seems to get better than the last!  I've been able to tolerate spending more time in the kitchen to prepare meals; Although, I still need some assistance from my husband but it feels great to be back in "my place" (the kitchen).  Cooking for me has always been a stress reliever and a way to express my creativity.  I love that I'm still able to do so by cooking tasty vegan food!

I'm looking forward to a lot of new things in the very near future!  In 1 month I should be walking without the crutches and able to finally drive!  I'm excited to explore & create more vegan recipes and I'm extremely interested in incorporating more raw foods!  As always, I will be keeping you up-to-date with my progress and new vegan recipes!

So it's 19 days since my A.C.I. surgery and I've been doing great!  I've
really been healing well and I believe that my vegan diet is the reason
why!  It's been extremely difficult to keep up with blogging and posting lately because for 10-12 hour per day I'm stuck in a CPM machine which I have to alternate with my cold therapy machine every few hours for 30 minutes.  I also have a DVT machine that gently squeezes my left calf to prevent blood clots and I'm hooked up to that all day and all night.  My husband and I currently have everything set up on the first floor for me because I am unable to go up or down flights of stairs just yet.  I can do a couple of stairs but not any more than that.  So every night before we go to bed and every morning before my husband leaves for work, he has to move the cold therapy and DVT machine from the couch to the bed or the bed to the couch.  Fortunately, we have room for our bed to be on our first level although our dining room table got kicked out for the time being!  The problem is that the computer is set up where our bed is and the CPM machine and the cold
therapy/DVT machine is set up by the couch.  I wish I could move the computer to our coffee table but it's just not a convenient spot.  We already have so many cords and wires from all of my machines.  So...that's why I haven't been blogging lately.  It's just not convenient for my knee!

This is my set up for most of the day.  That lovely brace is what I have to keep on at all times except when I'm using the CPM machine.  Next week I can finally sleep without the brace!  I can't wait!!!!  For the first week and a half I had my Aunt helping me out during the day but then once I became more comfortable with my crutches and getting around the house I sought
my independence.  I hate to ask for things and have people do things for me so this has been quite challenging.  I wish that I could cook, clean, and do laundry to help out but it's next to impossible with the crutches.  Sometimes I can help my husband with the prep for dinner but that's about it and most of the time he won't allow me to help.  Bless his compassionate heart!  My husband has the most patience out of anyone I know!  

So, all meals have been really simple!  Lately we've been doing spaghetti with the Trader Joe's meatless meatballs, we tried a creamy avocado pasta which was pretty amazing (
http://greatist.com/team/my-creamy-avocado-pasta), vegan veggie burgers, Noodles & Company, and vegan sushi.  For lunch I've been keeping it really simple as I can't be on my feet for long.  I've been doing a lot of salads with the Roundy's Vidalia Onion dressing!  Yummy!!!!  I've also come to love vegan lunch meat and I've
been making a lot of sandwiches as well.  I keep my sandwiches plain with just veganaise, Dijon mustard, and a couple of pickle slices.  It's been hard to eat lately because I've really lost my appetite and I believe that's because I'm not active.  I have been doing physical therapy twice a week and that seems to wear me out, although it isn't strenuous work or anything.  I get tired pretty quick!  So every time I eat I feel like I'm just forcing it down.  I hate that feeling but obviously I'm not going to let my body starve!  We have still be juicing although we aren't doing
it as often as before.  It just hasn't been the mos convenient lately but when my husband does juice he has been doing them in larger batches and puts them in canning jars to maintain the freshness.

I have a long road to recovery!  I will try to keep up with blogging as much as possible.  I just ask for you to bear with me because it's not the most convenient time.  Thank you for being so patient!

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Ok, so I just wanted to let everyone know that I'm still alive and kicking!  I haven't had any time to blog lately because my husband and I just moved into our new house!  So, it's been really crazy lately with all of the packing, moving, unpacking, cleaning, and preparing for my surgery! 
I've got 4 more days before my surgery!  Even though I haven't had enough time to blog, I haven't stopped thinking about it.  Once I get the chance I'd like to share some tips about eating on the go and eating out fast-food
style.  There are vegan options for fast-food!  

It may be a week or so before I start catching up and it will all depend on how my pain is but don't worry...I'll be back!

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So I haven't been blogging lately because I've been a bit under the weather lately.  My husband had recently come down with a virus and I believe that he passed it on to me.  I thought that it was just my allergies that were acting up because my throat was dry and itchy and my sinuses were bothering me.  I think it started out like that and then
slowly developed into what I have going on now.  I didn't have any major congestion but I did have a runny nose.  I started doing nasal flushes with the netti pot and I've been trying to push as many fluids as I can!  Funny thing is, I'm not full-blown sick but I'm also not well.  Besides from my throat being really sore and dry, some light pressure in my sinuses, a headache, and some ringing in my ears, I'm
actually ok.  I'm not terrible but I'm not well and I think that's because my body is really trying to fight it off.  I haven't really had an appetite but I've been forcing myself to eat.  I've been eating huge salads, veggie sandwiches with hummus, soup, and all other kinds of nutrient-dense food.  I have also been juicing a lot too.  I need to get over this fast!

I stopped in at the pulmonologist today because my asthma has been acting up along with my allergies.  I was prescribed some Singulair tablets.  This is supposed
to help with asthma and allergies.  I'm hoping that maybe the tablets will help my body fight off this virus sooner rather than later because I can't be sick for my surgery!  I've got two weeks to get better!  I always seem to take a little bit longer to get over things than other people and I believe that it's because of my asthma.  Although, this is the first time that I've been sick being a vegan so we'll see how this goes!

Don't worry...I've got recipe reviews and some more of my own recipes on the way!  I'm just trying to take it easy!

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This is my go to guide for eating out and still keeping to my vegan diet!  There are plenty of places is our area that offer vegan selections or can make vegan accommodations.  I'm pretty sure that there are more places than what is on this list.  It's pretty hard to keep up with more places that are
accommodating to the needs of vegans! 

FYI...my husband and I have already checked out Kyoto and Fujiyama for vegan sushi (amaaaaazing!),   Classic Slice for pizza (soy cheese please!), EE Sane for some awesome Thai food, and of course I had to feed my sweet tooth and
check out Babe's Ice Cream in Bay View for their vegan selections!

Sushi, hand down, is always good!  Fujiyama and Kyoto offer vegan sushi under the "vegetarian" section of the menu.

I absolutely LOVE Classic Slice Pizza because they have several vegan pizzas to choose from.  The Mediterranean
is our favorite and the soy stix are out of this world!

EE Sane has never been a disappointment when we have gone!  They are knowledgeable on vegan selections and can substitute the meat for tofu.

Oh, Babe's Ice Cream...thank goodness for you!  Who doesn't love to grab an ice cream cone every once in awhile?  The best part is that not only do they offer vegan
ice cream; they also offer vegan ice cream sandwiches, and vegan ice cream cakes.  Ok, time to lift your dropped jaw from the floor and wipe that drool off of your face! 

If you know of any other restaurants that offer vegan options please do share!  I will also update if I find more on
my own as well.

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Okay, so I'm new to blogging.  How new?  Well, let's just say this is my first time blogging and creating a page.  I really want to do this because being vegan is something that I'm extremely passionate about and I'd love to share my experiences to motivate, educate, and inspire people. 
This blog is a long one as it describes my transition but I hope this helps you!

Before going vegan I was mostly vegetarian with the
exception of fish, chicken, dairy, and eggs.  Occasionally I would indulge in some other type of meat but my main focus was on being as vegetarian as I could!  I've always eaten more on the healthier side but I did have moments where I really loved to indulge.  My biggest downfall is
sweets!  Oh chocolate, how I ever so dearly love you but you put the weight in my caboose!  Ugh, let’s face it...we all need some type of little indulgence here and there because that's what keeps us going.  A little bit of chocolate never hurts as long as it's in moderation.  I'll address this sweet tooth issue in a different blog post because I found a way to cure it!

In November 2012 I had an unfortunate mishap with my
right knee where I twisted it and it ended up creating a full-thickness cartilage defect on my right medial femoral condyle.  I had to undergo arthroscopic surgery to "clean up" the area and to remove a flap of cartilage that was catching.  I was out of work for 4 weeks and bored out of my mind.  So, Netflix quickly became my best friend!  I started watching all of these videos on the food we eat and about veganism.  It quickly sparked my interest.  One of the first videos I watched was "Fat Sick & Nearly Dead".  Now, I wasn't overweight at the time and nor am I now but I was seeking a way to live a healthier lifestyle.  So after dropping hints to my husband that I'd love a juicer for my upcoming birthday, my wish was granted.  I didn't do anything crazy like a juice fast but I started to incorporate a juice at breakfast time and in the afternoon as a snack.  The benefits were amazing!  I felt like I was on fire with the amount of energy I had!  I did this for about a month before making my next step.

I started to transition into veganism slowly.  I just wanted to see if I felt any different.  After watching "Vegucated" on Netflix, I immediately stopped eating meat.  I was literally traumatized!  I always knew that animals were never killed in a humane way for food but something about this movie just hit a soft spot in my heart.  Besides, how do you kill an animal in a humane way?  The truth is that there is and will never be a humane way to kill an animal for food.  This movie also offer insight on the term "free range" and it also touches on how cruelty is still displayed on grass fed animals (such as how they perform
castration of calves which is typically done by a rubber band that is pulled tighter and tighter until the testicles fall off).  Then I had watched the movie "Forks Over Knives" and this was my final straw!  Dr. Campbell connects the dots as to how what we eat can cause diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.  Both of my parents were diagnosed with cancer.  My mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 40 and my father was diagnosed with the most aggressive form of prostate cancer at the age
of 59.  My Mother made a full recovery and has been cancer free since her treatment.  My Father is still fighting the battle but he is doing well.  When my Father was diagnosed with prostate cancer it hit me really hard.  I was bewildered that both of my parents were diagnosed with some form of cancer and yet we did not have a history of those types of cancer in our family.  Although, on my Mother's side we do have throat and lung cancer but those were most likely induced by smoking and/or drinking.  So,
this movie "Forks Over Knives" really hit home for me because heart disease, cancer, and diabetes run in my family.  Heart disease is the main killer in my family and that's always been a concern of mine.  This movie
offered insight on how I can prevent all three o these diseases and if there is anything that I can do to prevent this then I WILL! 

So I then began to phase out milk, dairy products, and any animal by-products slowly.  Once the milk ran out, the cheese was gone, and the animal by-product stuff was out, that was it!  I wasn't going to buy more animal products anymore!  I felt like this type of transition was perfect
for me because it allowed me to take everything like a grain of salt and it helped to build a greater determination.  Getting rid of the meat and milk was easy for me!  I LOVE almond milk and this is coming from a gal who used to polish down a gallon of milk per week! 

I stumbled upon a great source in the beginning of my transition at
www.healthyeatingstartshere.com.  This woman is amazing!  She's a holistic nutritionist with amazing recipes!  She cooks more with whole foods and mostly no processed foods.  I started out with her recipes when I first started eating no meat and I was transitioning into veganism.  I was having such a hard time finding realistic and satisfying recipes when I first started out and I almost gave up until I stumbled across her blog.  If it wasn't for her, I would have never started!  I loved her recipes because most of her recipes didn't call for weird ingredients that I haven't heard of or that I wasn't ready for.  Her recipes introduced me to quinoa, which I never heard of but it's readily available.  Even Pick N' Save carries it in their bulk department!  I remember roaming the aisle of the grocery store and scoping out how easy this vegan transition would be and much to my discretion it was easier than I thought!  I never knew that the grocery
store carried lentils, barley, quinoa, veganaise, non-dairy cream cheese, etc.  Then again, I never looked because those ingredients weren't what I typically cooked with.

I was skeptical about giving up my cheese though.  Cheese is another love of my mine and I couldn't fathom not having it but I was ready to take that step.  I stumbled across The Vegan Zombie on YouTube (and found their website at  
http://theveganzombie.com/) and I discovered Daiya cheese (soy cheese) and oh man, was I hooked!  You’re telling me that I can be vegan and have my pizza too?  Heck yeah!  HIs pizza recipes are amazing!  Rather, all of his recipes that I tried are amazing!  I love that the recipes are fulfilling and my husband enjoys them.  I owe it to The Vegan Zombie for helping me out during this transition because if it wasn't for him, I think my husband would've made me stop cooking vegan!

I then hit the jackpot on Pinterest for more recipes!  It's like a vegan paradise!  That's been the best source because of the volume of recipes and the variety. I'm usually on
there every other day pinning new recipes to my boards so that I have a variety to choose from.

After this whole transition into being vegan, I was amazed with how great I felt!  It was as if my body had an awakening!  My energy level increased, my skin cleared up, and I had a glow.  People were even noticing the difference.  Odd thing is, no
matter what vegan thing I ate, I never had that sluggish feeling anymore!  I'm too far into this to turn back.  I will be honest though, I am not a strict vegan.  I will eat things that contain honey (although I haven't since I started) and I will consume products that are made vegan buy may be processed on equipment that also processes milk and egg products.  I find that this gives me a bigger variety to choose from.  However, I only do this if I can't find a truly vegan alternative.

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I've found that I crave the most sugary indulgences when I'm really stressed out.  Doesn't everybody?  Actually, I have a tendency to crave sweets most of the time.  I always have room for dessert; it's a bad habit of mine.  Well, my wonderful big Sister, whom I swear is a real genius when it comes to food, had turned me on to a miracle that cures my T-Rex of a sweet tooth.  I bet you'd never guess...Medjool Dates!!!!  Yep, that's right!  You know, whenever I think of dates I think of them as a food my
grandparents would probably eat to help them out in the oval office...ahem...the bathroom!  I wanted to put it in a nice way but I wasn't sure if you would understand what I meant.  These dates are ridiculously good and yes, they can offer some help in the oval office as they are high in fiber but I've never had any trouble with them.  Don't worry; they aren't like prunes where they act as a laxative.  I would think you would have to eat a lot of these dates to cause some chaos but good luck!  I can usually only eat 3-4
of these dates at a time because they are so filling!  What!?!?!  A sweet that offers its own portion control!?!?!?  My Sister is a genius!  The Medjool Dates taste like candy.  They have a wrinkled skin on the outside but the inside is gooey, chewy, and packed full of flavor!  These dates are pretty big in size too and don't let looks deceive you because these babies are divine!  I was able to find them at
Trader Joe's in the refrigerated produce section and at Whole food among the fresh fruits.  The ones at Trader Joe's were decently priced around $4.99 per carton (probably a little over a pound or so) and the dates at Whole Foods were priced at $6.99 per pound but their dates are certified organic and just a little larger in size.  Ever since I've been eating these to cure my sweet tooth, I've found that I'm actually craving fewer sweets.  It may also be because I'm not eating so many sweet therefore, my body stopped craving them.  Whatever it is, I still have my Medjool Dates in my fridge ready for when my sweet tooth hits!

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Ok, let's face it...most of us can't consume all of our daily intake of vitamins & nutrients.  Even people who don't eat vegan should be taking supplements but there are a couple that vegans really need to focus on.  This is something that I've learned from my own research but please be advised
that you should always consult with your doctor.

So, what do I take you ask?  Well, I take a prenatal vitamin (because my husband and I are looking to conceive soon), a vitamin B-12 supplement, a vitamin D supplement, a DHA-EPA (omega 3) supplement, and occasionally a digestive enzyme supplement.

Before I was vegan I would normally take a prenatal, a vitamin B supplement, and fish oil.  The only ones that I added were the vitamin D and the digestive enzymes.  Although, I probably would have taken those earlier if I would have known about them.  They help to break down food so that your body can absorb it better.  So when you're eating large or complex meals it's a good idea to take these before the meal.  I don't take these with every meal.  Primarily, I take them if I'm eating late at night or if I'm having a large meal.

Now that I have been transitioning into veganism and I'm almost at full-swing, I have transitioned mostly all of my
vitamins to vegan vitamins!
All of these supplements are vegan except for the vitamin D but the vitamin D is of higher quality than the vegan form.  They source it from the wool of sheep.  I am missing the DHA-EPA but that's because I ordered it recently
and it's on its way!  I decided to go with Deva because I believe they use high quality ingredients and they're affordable.  I was taking the Wellness Resources prenatal but I didn't like that I had to take 4 pills per day versus the one pill per day that Deva offers.  Also, the DHA-EPA supplement is a recommended dose of 1-2 pill per day versus the 3-6 pills per day that I used to take of fish oil.  I also wanted to emphasize that I believe it is important for vegans to take a vitamin D supplement because there is not a plant source that we can consume to fill this void.  Unfortunately, vitamin D is an animal source.  However, we do synthesize vitamin D from the sun but not all of us are able to get enough time in the sun to synthesize enough vitamin D.

It all comes down to what you feel is right for your body
and what you can afford.  As always, it is important to consult with your doctor.

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I was so excited when I went out to the mailbox today to find that my supplement arrived!  It's the vegan form of Omega-3.  So far, I have been liking my other supplements from Deva.  The capsules for this supplement remind me of vitamin E and fish oil capsules.  They are a yellowish opaque color and are filled with an oil type substance.  They have a very slight fishy odor (from the algae).  This form of vegan DHA-EPA is derived from a microalgae that is manufactured in a facility.  Don't worry...They grow it DRINKABLE water!  The recommended dosage is 1-2 capsules daily which sure beats the heck out of the fish oil I was taking!  The fish oil that I was taking during my transition into veganism recommended to take 1-2 capsules up to 3 times per day.  Yeah, um...no thank you!  I felt like I was up to my ears in vitamins!  I like to just take my vitamins all at one time if I can.  It's all about the convenience sometimes! 

That's what the capsules look like.  I ordered them off of Amazon because they had really good pricing.  Although, you can also order directly form Deva.  They go for around $20 for 90 capsules.  It's a very competitive price compared to even the non-vegan DHA-EPA capsules.  I know the fish oil capsules that I was taking previously went for around the same price for the same amount of capsules but the dosage was more; just to give you a perspective.

Let me know if you like any other vegan forms of DHA-EPA that are comparable!

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