How to Survive & Maybe Even Thrive During Veganuary

How to Survive &  Maybe Even Thrive During Veganuary

So it’s 2019 and the press has declared it’s the Year of the Vegan! Woohoo!

Maybe you’ve taken the leap and decided to join Veganuary…congratulations by the way! Or perhaps you’ve just decided to eat more plants and decrease the amount of meat and dairy in your life. Either way, that’s pretty incredible and I’m super pumped about you trying out this whole plant-powered thing.

But now that we’re sitting in the middle of January, I’ve been seeing a lot of posts in groups of people struggling and looking for help and reassurance on their Veganuary adventure. So I thought I would share a few bits of advice to help you get through the next few weeks and hopefully even stick with it afterwards.

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Surviving Christmas Dinner

It's Christmas time and it's a time for joy and spreading cheer and enjoying time with family and friends.  Well, at least that's how it's supposed to be.  But it can also be an extremely stressful time, trying to make everything perfect for that giant family gathering, shopping for gifts and just trying to keep everyone in the holiday spirit.  Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or Festivus there's always something that ends up getting in the way of your holiday cheer.  Maybe it's the cousin that has a bit too much to drink, or the disapproving in-laws or the weird uncle who always makes a scene.  Everyone has got the same things to contend with during the festivities.

So here's a few tips to help make it through the next few days with a smile on your face and joy in your heart!

5 Tips to Surviving Christmas Dinner
  1. Have a Game Plan - whether it's trying to get the food done or wrangling unruly relatives, make sure you have a plan on how to tackle these challenges.  Make sure your homestead is all on the same page and delegate tasks to each family member so you're not the only one trying to put out fires.
  2. Smile - no matter what, keep a smile on your face.  It's contagious! So even if you over cook the bird or someone spills wine on the carpet, keep those pearly white shining.  In the words of Bobby McFerrin "Don't worry, be happy!"
  3. Get Guests Involved - got a passive-aggressive Mother-in-Law or judgemental sibling?  Try involving them in the preparations.  Nothing shuts down those snooty stares or backhanded compliments faster than having them give you a hand.  Let those naysayers help with the gravy or share their opinion on seasoning.  Maybe all they wanted is to be included and they'll be less likely to complain later if they were involved in the first place.
  4. Don't Take Yourself too Seriously - try to enjoy the day, afternoon or evening.  Have a glass of wine (or 2) and loosen up.  We are all guilty of over thinking and reading too much into things.  So maybe your Mother didn't mean anything by that comment and maybe there wasn't a tone coming from your cousin?  And don't forget to laugh!
  5. Normal is Boring - everyone has unique and interesting guests that they are required to have for dinner.  So embrace those colourful characters!  Maybe stop and listen to your weird Uncle's stories and laugh at you Grandpa's inappropriate jokes.  After all, it's one day a year and really, it wouldn't be Christmas if you didn't have some great stories to tell your friends!
Feliz Navidad,
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photo credit: dane brian via photopin cc

Tip Tuesday: 7 Holiday Shopping Survival Tips

I'm not a big fan of shopping or the mall, period.  Add in Christmas and the thought of venturing to a mall puts me into a state of panic. I thought it only fitting with only 14 shopping days left until Christmas that I share a couple holiday shopping tips.

7 Holiday Shopping Survival Tips
  1. Be prepared.  Have a detailed list of items and the stores you'll need to visit.  This will keep you trip short and sweet and on budget.
  2. Avoid shopping  in the evenings and weekends.  Most people work during the day so the stores are bound to be packed after dinner and on the weekends.  Why not hit a few stores before work on a Tuesday or late night after the kids go to bed?  A lot of shops have extended shopping hours in  December so take full advantage and avoid the crowds.
  3. Pack some supplies.  If you're doing a marathon shop, make sure to be prepared.  Bring a bottle of water and some snacks.  Nothing makes you Scroogier than waiting in line with your blood-sugar plummeting.  Bring some nuts or dried fruit to keep you going.  And an added bonus, you'll save time and money by skipping the food court.
  4. Dress comfortably.  Shopping doesn't have to be a fashion show.  Ditch the heels and put on your runners.  Leave your coat in the car and just bring your purse.  You'll keep your holiday spirit by staying cool and comfortable.
  5. Go hands free.  Leave the fancy purse at home and opt for a cross-body bag.  It will hold your provisions nicely, but also allow you to use both hand when grabbing gifts or pushing the cart.
  6. Schedule your shop.  If you don't have time, then don't go shopping.  You'll be rushed and irritated as you're stuck behind some slow-walkers in the mall.  Make sure to allot a chunk of time where you don't have to rush to an appointment or grab the kids.  You're shopping experience will be much more enjoyable when you aren't staring at your watch.
  7. Smile & enjoy! Don't look at it as a chore.  If you view your shopping trip as a nice outing you'll actually have a good time.  And nothing helps chase away those Bah Humbugs like a smile.  So spread a little cheer and flash those pearly whites!
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photo credit: anonneymouse1 via photopin cc

How I Survived Thanksgiving & had my Vegan, Gluten-Free Pie too!

This past weekend was Canadian Thanksgiving.  A lovely long weekend filled with family, friends and food.  I usually look forward to filling my belly with delicious dishes and my spirit with laughter and good times.  But this year I was more than a little hesitant.

This year I was hoping to avoid the tables of tantalizing foods and sidestep those awkward conversations about my eating habits.  You may remember a few short weeks ago I learned that I'm allergic to eggs and dairy and few other select foods.  Needless to say, having multiple feasts to attend was not my idea of a good time. But I realized that heading into the weekend, dreading what was going to be served, was really not the best mindset to have. So I decided to buck-up and take on the dinners like the gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free carnivore I am!

So here's what I learned and how I survived Thanksgiving:

1.  Don't be ashamed of who you are - too often I find myself avoiding conversations or situations where I will have to defend my food choices. I would say my friends and family are tolerant of my food restrictions, but they don't fully comprehend the choices I have made. So I decided to stand up and be proud of the fact that I made a choice for a healthier lifestyle and that means I don't eat certain things.  It also means I'm on the right path to feeling better physically and mentally. So whether you're Vegan, Vegetarian, Paleo or whatever, don't be ashamed; be proud of who you are and what you eat.  Don't be all high and mighty, but be confident that your decision is the right one for you.  And that's all that really matters.

2.  Bring something you will eat - there's nothing worse than showing up for dinner and not being able to eat anything that's being served.  So bring a dish that you will enjoy.  Whether you are supposed to bring something or not, the host will be happy and so will you.  I brought a lovely vegan squash dish to Thanksgiving.  And I was pleased to see that it was almost gone by the end of dinner.  I didn't tell anyone it was vegan and made with almond milk and some Nooch.  But it was gratifying to see that everyone loved it and no one judged it.

3. You don't have to deprive yourself - regardless of what dietary needs you have, you don't have to miss out on great holiday foods.  I've spent a lot of time looking at what I can't eat instead of what I can.  Talk about counterproductive!  Switching my mindset has made a world of difference on how I view food and social situations.  So instead of standing beside the dessert table looking heartbroken, I brought my own dessert.  A Vegan, Gluten-free, Nut-Free Pumpkin Pie from Organic Works Bakery. Heaven!  And wow....I was shocked.  The pie looked and smelled fantastic!  You would never guess it was anything other than a good old fashioned Pumpkin Pie.  The crust was light and flaky and filled to the brim with delicious, perfectly spiced pumpkin.  My daughter who insisted she didn't like pumpkin pie finally decided to try some after seeing me enjoying a piece.  After her first bite she exclaimed that it was DELICIOUS and proceed to inhale the rest.  Upon cleaning her plate she promptly asked for more.  And that was the consensus from everyone who tried it.  I didn't advertise what it was made out of.  I just let them eat pie and decide for themselves.  If they asked what was in it I was happy tell them it wasn't your average pumpkin pie!

Now that Thanksgiving is done,  I'm happy to report I survived and even ended up with a pleasantly full belly and some great memories.  Now I'm looking forward to tackling the holiday parties over the next couple months.  And definitely looking forward to more pie!

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Disclaimer: I am a Brand Ambassador for Organic Works Bakery and  received this product free of charge for the purposes of this article.  The opinions expressed are my own. To see more from me go to www.suburbanhippiehomestead.com.