The end, my friends...

Hello, hungry people!

Some bittersweet news today. Although I would love nothing more than to continue chronicling my culinary adventures and sharing them with all of you, I'm finding it too challenging to weave parenting and this particular creative venture, especially as paid work tends to take precedent. As a result, I'm shuttering the blog indefinitely and will not write new posts. However, I intend to leave the site up as-is, for archival purposes and because you know gosh darn well I haven't got any of these recipes committed to memory. :)

Hope to see you in the comments sections of our favorite blogs!

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And then it happened...

We're just a few days away from Thanksgiving, and I've learned new depths of gratitude over the past few months. There aren't words adequate to capture what I mean, but I'll try to get close.


I spent the last part of the summer busy preparing for the birth of our baby. We did all the usual stuff: painting the nursery, assembling furniture, cleaning house, gathering tiny clothes and super soft blankies, etc. Every day, we had a "to do" list as long as my arm and it felt as though we'd never reach the end of the chores, tasks, and projects. Truth be told, we never did. 

Photo by Rachel Joy Baransi

During the last months of my pregnancy, I also turned my focus inward to prepare myself to become a mother. I spent hours each week doing prenatal yoga to strengthen my body and calm my mind. I paid close, careful attention to my diet, ensuring each day that I was getting enough protein, and remembering to take all my vitamins and supplements. What an ironic thing for a long-time vegan like myself to have to worry about! However, when my midwives told me early on in my pregnancy that I should eat between 90-100g of protein every day, I'm pretty sure I didn't believe my ears at first. But, with some quick research and a little advance preparation, it was fairly simple. I'll blog more about that in the future if there's an interest. 

Photo by Rachel Joy Baransi

Labor began in the wee hours of September 4, our due date, and I thought it was some kind of insane miracle that our baby wanted to be born on his due date. For first time mothers, that's pretty rare. However, his entrance took a little longer than expected and he wasn't actually born until the next morning. We welcomed a strong, beautiful baby boy on September 5. As you can imagine, I've had my hands full with him ever since! 

Becoming a parent is not something that happens to you when your baby is born. It begins much earlier, although it's difficult to say exactly "when" it happens. (This isn't a philosophical question about when life begins, by the way. I'm talking more about the mental and emotional changes in the parent.) It's actually a gradual process, though, as you integrate the idea of parenthood into your identity, and you slowly but surely start to realize how BIG it is. And you also realize very quickly that you'll never really understand the breadth and depth of it. It's just not something that is meant to be fully understood or absorbed. It's bigger than us.

Photo by Rachel Joy Baransi
In the coming months, I hope to blog more. Period. 

The focus of my blog won't change. I'm still committed to sharing my advice and recipes for a healthy, whole foods diet and a sustainable lifestyle. I do know that I'll want to tell you more about my vegan diet during my pregnancy, what life (and dinner) is looking like these days, and to share some of the recipes that got us through those first precious weeks when we basically lived at the intersection of Tired and Tired-er. I realize that not all of you dear readers are parents or want to be, but we all have times in our lives when we are stressed, sleep-deprived, lacking in appetite or mental capacity to be creative in the kitchen, and still very much in need of sustenance. I hope my experiences will help anyone who finds themselves dealing with those simple circumstances of this thing we call life.

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Review: GoodBelly Probiotic Drinks 12 Day Challenge

Shortly after I got pregnant, I learned that most pregnant women experience a certain degree of, erm, digestive discomfort while they grow their little bundles. Probiotic supplements are usually recommended to pregnant ladies, but I've never really been good about taking them. So, I've tried to incorporate more fermented foods and sources of "good" bacteria into my diet.

Then, as if by magic, the kind folks at GoodBelly reached out and offered to let me try their 12 Day Challenge. After learning that their entire line of products is vegan, I jumped at the chance!

GoodBelly makes probiotic drinks that come in a quart-sized carton or in two different sizes of individual "shots." Because I like to keep packaging to a minimum, I went with three different flavors of the quart-sized drinks: blueberry acai, pomegranate blackberry, and coconut water.


Day 1 - Blueberry Acai. I love the flavor of acai juice, so I already had my suspicions that I'd enjoy this juice. The natural tartness of the acai disguises the distinctive tang of the added probiotics, and makes for a really nice juice treat.

Day 2 - Pomegranate Blackberry. Less sweet and slightly more tart than the blueberry acai, this blend was also really good. I feel like this would have tasted even more amazing mixed with some bananas and fresh blackberries in a smoothie. Yum!


Day 3 - Coconut Water. I was a little skeptical about how the probiotic-infused coconut water would be, especially after seeing that it as a cloudy appearance due to all that good bacteria. So, I had to save this one for last. Guess what? It tastes just like regular coconut water, but with a little tang. I love coconut water for its electrolyte properties, so I was happy to sample this one on a day when I was feeling particularly unwell, after struggling with sinus congestion for several days. Ultimately, as with plain coconut water, I didn't enjoy drinking this concoction straight up and opted to mix it with few ounces of orange juice. Talk about a yummy cocktail of wellness!


Day 6 - After making the rotation through the flavors several times by this point, the Blueberry Acai held fast as my favorite of the bunch, even though I still liked the others as well. Nearly a week into this probiotic experiment, I wondered how I would feel. Would it impact my stomach? My appetite? My digestion? Would I feel lighter, cleaner, better, strong? Well, let's be serious. This isn't a detox cleanse or anything like that. (Don't do those if you're pregnant or breastfeeding, b-t-dubs.) So, it's silly to think that it'll completely change the way you feel, especially just halfway through the 12 Day Challenge. I don't have any complaints, though!

Day 12 - When I slurped down the last drops of my GoodBelly drinks, I have to admit I was a bit sad. That stuff was awfully tasty, and I knew that feeding my body with all those happy little probiotics was a good thing.

The verdict? The folks at GoodBelly have worked hard to make a product that is truly healthy and delicious. I really enjoyed my 12 days of yummy probiotic goodness, and will definitely pick up their products in the future. I'd really like to try the other flavors, and there are a lot of them!

Although these cartons can sometimes be pricey, I often see them on sale at my local grocery stores, and I bet that's true in your area as well. But, there's no reason not to try the 12 Day Challenge because it comes with a money-back guarantee! Check out the details here and score yourself some coupons for when you go a'purchasin!


Disclaimer: GoodBelly sent me VIP vouchers to exchange for these products. All opinions expressed are my own.


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Where did she go?

Hi lovelies! I'm back after a little (ahem, long) hiatus with some news:


Yep. Been a little busy here around the ol' verdant homestead! Instead of blogging on this site, I've had my hands tied growing a human. We still have a few months left to go, and even though there's a lot to do, I'm grateful to have the time/energy/brain power to come back to this blog I've missed so much.

Watching last week's festivities at Vida Vegan Con 2013 from afar really made me miss the blogosphere even more. I was lucky enough to attend the first VVC in 2011 and met a ton of amazing people! In my current condition (ha!), I wasn't quite feeling up to the adventure of a cross-country flight and several long days on my feet, so I sadly chose not to attend. I did resolve, however, to get back on the blogging horse post-haste!

Now that I'm here, I figured it might be nice to start with some answers to the questions that I know you all must have.

What happened to the Vegan Food Swap?
We last swapped in January, and I admittedly dropped the ball after that. I never even posted the reveal of the lovely goodies I received that month. Simply put, I was pretty overwhelmed (both physically and emotionally) with my impending motherhood and I just... sort of... stopped caring for a bit. It's amazing how your priorities can change so quickly.

Will you start the Vegan Food Swap again?
Honestly, you guys, I don't know. Orchestrating the swap each month was a lot more work than I anticipated, and I'm not sure how I can keep it up. If any of you would like to take over running the swap for U.S. residents, I'd be happy to chat with you about what's involved, and give you my endorsement if you start a swap. In the meantime, there are a few vegan swaps happening in other parts of the interwebs (like Instagram, of all places!) so I hope you feel free to check those out!

How's the pregnancy been going? 
I won't bore you with the details, but I will say happily that mama and baby are strong and healthy. Between my well-balanced, whole foods diet, some carefully chosen supplements, and regular prenatal yoga, I'm in good shape so far and plan to keep it that way for the duration.

Will the baby be vegan? 
This is a good question, and it's a topic of private deliberation between me and my partner (aka Daddy), who is an omnivore. Right now, I'm concentrating on my health and on growing a strong baby. When baby gets interested in solid foods, then we'll decide on our plan of action. There are lots of GREAT reasons to raise a vegan kid, but I also have to take Daddy's opinions and desires into account, obviously.

Will you keep writing recipes and doing product reviews for The Verdant Life? 
Yes. At least, I hope so. That's why I've decided to start blogging again now, while I am feeling good and have the energy to take it on. I may take another brief hiatus when baby comes in September (you know, so I can focus on THE most important thing!) but I do hope to incorporate regular blogging into my regular mama schedule after we all get acquainted with our new little bundle.

I do have some fun posts, new recipes, and cookbook and product reviews coming up in the near future, so stay tuned!

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