My Plant-Based Quest

my journey in the world of whole food plant-based living

Time for Change

I haven’t been here for a while.  I lost my mojo.  “Life is what happens when we’re busy making other plans”, right?

I am re-inventing myself.  To do that, I am re-inventing my blog.  My focus is no longer food.  It’s overall health and finding a new financial path.  Once I stopped obsessing about my food choices, I began to lose weight.  Imagine that?

In an effort to bring balance back into my life, I’m stepping away from the food thing.  Not so much how I eat, but the focus.  It’s just not healthy for me.

I have a birthday at the end of the week.  A big one.  I’m not really prepared mentally for it, but it’s coming anyhow.  To commemorate this day, I’ve begun a new blog.  A new path, a new window to the adventures that I seem to have in my life.

I will chat about food sometimes.  Training.  Money.  My wicked sense of humor.  And whatever else the wind blows by.  If I happen on a cool recipe, I’ll share it.  If I am out and get awesome photos, I’ll post them.  If I don’t have anything nice to say, I won’t say it!  Come on by and visit me if you like.  I’ll leave the light on for you.


A Happy Accident

I wanted to make up some greens that I could munch on between meals and ahead of meals. The problem is, I’m not a huge fan of salad, and cooked greens don’t get my juices flowing. 

I decided to just toss a few things I like in a pan and see what happened. What transpired was a rather tasty happy accident. 

Happy Accident 

  • 1 can of NSA diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 container fresh, sliced mushrooms, broken into smaller pieces
  • 1/2 bag of spin ache/baby kale blend
  • 4 oz NSA/no oil veggie broth
  • Oregano
  • Black pepper
  • Oregano White Balsamic 
  • Cooked Quinoa

Empty tomatoes (with liquid) and mushrooms into a deep pan. Sprinkle oregano and black pepper to taste. Simmer until hot and mushrooms begin to shrink. 

Pile greens on top. Pour broth over greens. Cover and allow to steam until the greens are almost cooked. Uncover, stir, and let greens finish cooking. Add more broth if needed to avoid burning. 

When finished, turn off heat. Add two tablespoons of Oregano White Balsamic. Serve over quinoa. Serves 2-4, depending on the size of the appetite. 

As an added bonus, any excess liquid can be poured over some quinoa for a quick snack.  


A Few Days Later…

I am still glowing from the chiropractor visit. I told the people who have been after me to go got so long, I wish they had pushed me harder sooner. One reminded me:

You wouldn’t go until you were truly ready to embrace it. 

Smart friends are good to have. She is right!  I was not ready to try it until I was rock bottom miserable. 

A few observations since Wednesday:

– A few hours after the appointment, my lower back began tightening up. By evening, it was severe, and I stayed in one spot as much as possible. I was warned this may happen. It was not a pretty night. 

– As each day has passed, the tight feeling has lessened. After the first day, it feels more like a strain or workout kind of pain rather than what I had before.  Now it’s more settled in my hips. Sore, less tight. Excellent progress. 

– The burning pain has not returned. Can you hear the angels singing?

– The sharp pain in my ankle has not returned.  Can you hear the angel encore?

– It is still tender to sleep on my right side, and hard to get comfortable. I guess you can’t have it all right away. 

– The ligament in my ankle that runs up the side of my calf is angry. I felt so good that I overdid it the last two days. Oops. It reminds me to behave. 

I return for my second visit on Thursday afternoon. Last week I was a nervous wreck about going in. Now I am looking forward to it. 

Baby steps. 

I have an appointment on Wednesday with their in-house nutritionist. I am interested in what she has to offer to my plant-based struggle and my goal to get to Disney. 

I learned that both she and the doctor are plant-based, although I don’t know to what degree. That’s a plus, as many nutritionists do not go there. 

If she can help me with cravings, that would be a nice bonus. We shall see. 

School Lunch, Then and Now

Long story short, I found myself on the website of the elementary school I went to as a child.  Since I was already there and curious, I clicked on the Cafeteria link to see what a public school in carnivore country in Northern California was serving. (I grew up in a town where cattle, goat, and sheep ranches are plentiful, and eating ranch style meals is a big deal.)

I found some surprises.

  1. The days that have red lightning bolts (see image below) on them are lunches that they served US between 1972 and 1980.  We also got tator tots once or twice a week.
  2. They have a salad bar!  Fresh fruit and veggies.  They also offer water.  We never had water.  This pleases me. (We always got milk.  I would give my milk to the tall boy in class.  He drank everyone’s milk who didn’t like milk so he could grow up big and strong…)
  3. I paid $2.25 a WEEK for school lunch.


The food-like substances that are served in school cafeterias is alarming.  There are so many schools that can not offer actual fruits or vegetables.  The government guidelines recognize things like tomato paste as a vegetable.  Many schools rely on subsidies, and they are lacking in every possible way.

It’s a shame that so many children can not get a nutritious meal in so many schools.  And don’t get me started on the parents who are not allowed to pack a lunch for their child because it may not meet some stupid guideline.

OK, I have to take a moment to breath…I’m fine now.  Anyhow, I am pleased to see that this school does offer healthy options.

School Lunch

My First Chiropractor Visit

I had an appointment with a chiropractor on Wednesday morning. I had never been to one before, but the back pain and problems with my ankle insisted that I do something “radical”, so to speak.

I took a day off work to go. The good news is that my insurance will cover it in a co-pay kind of way. Except for the initial visit, which was $95.  Or maybe I should say ONLY $95.  Yes, that makes me feel better.  Moving forward, it will be either $40 or $45 a visit, and I believe I’m limited to a certain number a year.  I need to find out about that…

The chiropractor came highly recommended by some of my friends. The practice caters to those who are active in sports of one kind or another. They helped one of my friends go from miserable, debilitating pain to running again. So, I decided to give them a try. I figured if nothing else, my bad, crooked, hurting body would bring amusement to them.

Everyone at this place was very nice. At no time did I feel uncomfortable or rushed.  At one point, the main doctor came in, introduced himself and asked “Are you Karen’s friend?”  I said yes, and he said he wanted to meet me and introduce me to the doctor I would be seeing.

Wow.  Really?  Impressed for the first time.

When the doctor and I met, we talked, we listened to each other, asked many questions back and forth. I recalled things I hadn’t thought of in years, going back to childhood, that basically showed I have had problems with my ankles and knees since way back.  He was alarmed at those issues not being handled well back then.

My ankles and my knees pronate.  badly.  I walked pigeon toed until I was 14, when an orthopedist told me to focus on walking with my toes pointed out.  He said that would help my knee problems.  He also pulled me from PE class for the next three years.  The treatment?   My parents would snap at me if they saw me walking pigeon toed.

My entire life, I’ve been encouraged to stop when something was uncomfortable or painful.  By my parents.  My doctors.  My friends.  Wrong answer.  Who knew?

He did a number of things to my legs, arms, back, and neck.  I heard a few pops that made me jump up and gasp.  It’s amazing those noises can come from your body without a bone breaking!  Most amazing is that he worked the daylights out of my ankles.  Both of them.  After an initial squeal, he worked and worked, and I kid you not, my ankle is not sore right now.

Moving forward, he would like to focus on getting my problem areas (ankle, knee, lower back, neck) strong so I can support my skeletal structure.  How?  Through exercise, treatments, food, and water.

Food and water?  Hmmm…

He asked how I eat.  I told him I am “mostly” plant-based.  My body does best on a plant-based diet, and that the emotional eating has been an issue for me as I’ve been trying to manage through the pain off and on since September.  He got a big smile on his face and said, “That’s wonderful!  Let’s work on that.” He said he fully supports and believes in a plant-based diet.

What?  Impressed for the second time.

For the heck of it, I agreed to a chat with their in-house nutritionist.  I had overheard her speaking when I got there, telling someone she was an RN for 20+ years before getting her masters in Nutrition and changing her areas of practice.  I had low expectations. It turns out she grew tired of working in an industry that treats symptoms with meds that often only mask what is really going on, and not addressing the whole issue.

DING DING DING DING!  Impressed for the third time.  She had my attention.

She is a believer in a plant-based lifestyle and food as medicine.  She asked what my blood type was.  I told her O-, and she looked surprised.  This lead to a discussion about the Eat Right for Your Blood Type movement and how it works for some and not others. Fascinating. (You know I’ll be googling THAT this week for the heck of it.)

She figured out really quick that I can name my trigger foods, I’ve experimented enough to know how my body responds to many foods, and that I’ve applied those learnings to managing my migraines and monthly cycle issues.  I told her that I was afraid to speak to her because so many nutritionists do not want to discuss plant-based.  She said she is there to help the doctors heal the whole body, and that she does not push anyone into anything they don’t want to do or try.

I set up a couple follow-up appointments and went to my car, where I sat for a few minutes trying not to cry.  I almost felt like I finally found a comfortable, warm, homey kind of place.  That’s not to take away from my primary care doc.  I adore him, and he is quite patient with me and my non-traditional ways.  But he is a doctor, and he’s managed by insurance companies and drug companies and he’s lucky to spend 7 minutes with a patient.

On Wednesday?  We talked for a good 45 minutes.  What?  Yes.  All together I was with him nearly an hour and a half.  Most of that time was spent talking and listening.  Wow.

Best of all, the doctor said he wants to help me get to Disney in February. I feel as if I’ve won the lottery, but instead of winning money, I’ve won something much better.  My health, or at least a few more people to help guide me get to a healthy me.

Of course, I could use the money.  Money is super tight right now, so I’ve got some things to figure out.  Yes, a little lottery money might be nice…

Scaling a Recipe

How to scale a recipe up or down.  

This is one of the best web pages I stumbled on all week.  For a girl who cooks for one, it’s important to know how to cut down recipes for 4, 6, 8 or more servings. It’s also important to know how to scale up. You never know when you may have to cook for more than yourself!

Enjoy the link 😉

Back Pain and Breaking the Fast

A week ago Saturday I was walking out of the restroom at work, and after maybe 20 steps, I felt it. Searing pain and burning radiating from my back – the spot where your hip bone connects to the body bone, to be exact. 

It hurt off and on the rest of the day. Sunday was my day off, and I noticed that it was worse when I was wearing the walking boot than when I wasn’t. I tried to lay low, relax, and find a comfortable position. 

As the week progressed, it got worse. Monday evening, I dumped the boot for the brace and carried on. By Thursday, it had reached unbearable. I called a chiropractor and managed an appointment…for a week later. 

Friday unbearable hit new levels. I cried in the shower, convinced I had a stress fracture in my hip. Then I decided it was bone cancer and I had days to live.  to top it off, the brace was not supporting my ankle as well, and it was sore in the areas of the years also. 

Fortunately we had a slow day at work, and my co-worker was rather persistent at keeping me in a chair most of the day. My boss learned of what ailed me, and told me to get an appointment sooner and not worry about work. (New appointment, Wednesday morning.)

I had Sunday and Monday off from work. I ended up sitting, laying down, reading, and watching tv for the better part of two days. Sunday I caught up on the last half season of Grimm. It’s dark and twisty, but I enjoy it.  

I also did an unexpected water fast. Nothing but water from Saturday about 7pm until Sunday about 7pm.  Why? It started out as not being hungry. Then it just seemed like a good idea. About 7pm, I ate a tomato. It was delicious. Then I drank more water and went to bed. 

Monday I woke, and I wasn’t hungry. I started drinking water again, and then decided to see how far I could go. At 4pm I had a yummy ear of organic white corn. I swear, it tastes better than usual. 

Two fasts. Two days.  I don’t know that it helped the pain, but I may have reset my taste buds. I’m not going to complain. 

Do you ever fast? If so, what do you break your fast with?

Mindful Monday: Goals

Today is May 18, so I decided it’s a good day to check in with my May goals. 

May Goal Update:

1) Lose 7 pounds 

I am down three pounds. That’s encouraging. 

2) Drink a minimum 50 ounces water daily

I have only missed two days. Those two days were in the mid-high 40 ounce area. I’ve hit anywhere from 60-75 ounces most days. 

3) Exercise of some sort four times a week.

I was moving more, parking further away from places, taking an extra two turns around the grocery store, etc. then my back and hip went to heck in a hand basket. The last week has been about bouncing back, managing pain, and getting my feet under me again. This week will be more of the same. 

4) Meditate

I finally made time to do some of this. I began the middle of last week. I’m exploring different apps and such. I’m trying to do something daily. 

There is a LOT of free meditation information out there. I am working through some of t to find my “style” so to speak. I am sure I will find something that works for me.  


I Read This Awesome Book…Finding Ultra

The injury to my ankle sent me into a tailspin.  I bobbed about in the midst of a mind-numbing pity-party for a few weeks.  At one point, laying on my side on the sofa, hiding under my invisibility cloak (aka a red plaid blanket), surfing the web, I stumbled upon the Rich Roll website. I listened to a few of his podcasts.  I read his “about” info.  I was intrigued.  I listened to a few more podcasts.  Podcast #139 with Dan Buettner captivated me.  I listened to it three times.  The banter between the two, along with the insights into both of their lives…I couldn’t stop listening.  (More on that another time.)

I logged into Amazon.  I found their books.  I ordered a couple.  I was angry with myself for not selecting one-day service.  Why didn’t I get the Kindle version?  Instant access!

Two days later, I opened the box that contained Finding Ultra – Rejecting Middle Age, Becoming One of the World’s Fittest Men, and Discovering Myself.  I read it in four days.

Four days to read a book?  That may not sound out of the ordinary, except I was reading at night before bed, when the house was quiet and I had TIME to read.  I read each night until I fell asleep, book in hand.  Yes, I slept on the book most nights.  I let my DVR pile up with shows that I typically watch, and I read.  A book.  Not on the Kindle, but an actual paperback book.

I slowly began to shake off my pity-party.  I became inspired.  That a person can beat addiction, decide to turn his life around at the age of 40, and go from an overweight couch potato to one of the fittest men in the world, was just freaking amazing to me.  His honesty throughout, sharing enough of the good, bad, and ugly to make the point without dwelling on them, struck me.  What he put his body through to achieve his goals was beyond my comprehension.

It made me think that maybe, just maybe, my little ankle problem can be remedied and I can do this half-marathon thing.  Maybe I can learn to run after all?  I will continue believing I can and putting my mind into training.  I think I can, I think I can.

Oh ya, if the whole ultra-endurance athlete part isn’t enough, he is also powered by plants.  Whole food, plant based.  The training, the fuel, the program he followed, all done with plants.  Bonus Wow.

If you need a burst of inspiration, you’ve wondered what it takes to do an ironman triathlon (or five!) or what an ultra-endurance athlete is, or you just want to read a book about a self-proclaimed adrenalin junkie, this is a good one.

Amazing Support and Lack There Of…

It has been 36 days since I fell while walking in the park and tore two ligaments.  I’ve been in a boot for three weeks now, and it is slowly healing. I can flex my foot a bit now.  This is HUGE progress!  The constant pain is gone, replaced with an ankle that feels tired and weak.  I am ecstatic. A few more weeks and I will be able to rebuild it again.

Everyday people ask what happened.  Most often I tell them I began exercising and we have a hearty laugh.  From there, the conversations go in directions that continue to baffle me.

I’m always asked how long it will take to heal.

I’m always told how sorry they are that this happened.

A handful of my friends have been incredibly supportive, willing it to heal quickly so that I can get back to training.  I love those people!  Always encouraging, making suggestions to help me along, they are my heart and inspiration.  They want me to succeed and complete a half-marathon.  They are my inner circle, and I would be lost without them.

More friends and acquaintances have been less than supportive.  This has begun to bother me.  I continue to hear things such as (and these are quotes):

“Why would you want to take up running?”

“That’s what you get for trying to exercise.”

“You want to do a half-marathon?  What is wrong with you?”

“Taking up walking/running at your age is ridiculous.” (I’ve heard this many times. I am 49.)

“Why are you trying to change who you are?” (Really?)

“Stick to reading about it, it’s safer.”

“We should wrap you in bubble wraps so you don’t kill yourself.”

and my favorite, “It’s stupid of you to try to do something like that.  You’re not an athlete.”

The negativity is more than I can comprehend.  When did people become so…mean?  I am grateful to my friends who are supportive.  They may think I’m half crazy, but they are supportive.  They have never said anything otherwise.  The rest?  Quite frankly, I will remember who they are, and they will be moved to the outer reaches of my circle.  I am learning to guard against negativity.

When someone wants to better themselves, I feel it is my job to be comforting and supportive.  No one should be told they should not try.  I’ve been told that many times, and I’m over it.  No one, child or adult, should have to hear that.  Where would we be if someone held back Albert Einstein, Thomas Edison, Steve Jobs, Alexander Graham Bell, Bill Gates, the Founding Fathers, Claude Monet, IM Pei, Michelangelo, or Leonardo Di Vinci?

I may not succeed, but I just might.  In fact, I just might do a pretty decent job of it.  I’m more determined than ever to train for a half-marathon and prove the naysayers wrong.

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self proclaimed shopaholic


My life chronicles about healthy living, natural hair, nerdy interest, as a loving wife and mother.

Natalie Breuer

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