Monday, August 20, 2012

Catching Up + Fried Chicken is a gateway drug

I am behind on my food log. I am stressed about being behind. Which is silly because no one's life depends on knowing everything I ate on days 12-17.  I think I feel this way because life is generally stressful for me right now and this is just one more thing that's on my "to do" list. Since I am so behind I'm not going to recount the last few days of eating  in  much detail. I'm not even going to separate days 12-14. I am going to post the food pictures I took on those days, explain what's in them, if I can remember specifics, and list the meals and snacks I had that I wasn't able to photograph, if I can remember them all. So here are days 12-14 in pictures and very few words:

Green Juice, the ingredients of which I no longer remember :/

                                  my usual raw kale salad + my sexy legs, rawr. 

homemade tortilla chips ( just cut corn tortillas into fourths, dabbed on some coconut oil, sprinkled a little sea salt and baked at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes on each side.
chips and salsa!

baby carrots and sweet red pepper hummus

raw kale salad from whole foods. my homemade one is better!

Amy's vegan gluten free burrito. Emergency snack lunch one day

Juice ingredients: zucchini, romaine lettuce, clementine, fuji apple, celery, ginger

Green Juice, yummm!

"MexiCali" Tostadas! Ahhh they were so good!  Refried beans, red onion, corn, salsa, spices (cooked together for a while) on top of toasted corn tortillas, topped with romaine lettuce and avocado.  

Breakfast and lunch prepped and ready to go on the road with me! 2 jars of green smoothie for breakfast, baby carrots and a sliced red bell pepper for a snack, leftover Tostada ingredients for lunch.
Not pictured snacks during these days:...bananas? "peanut butter cookie" Larabar, tortilla chips (store bought)...sigh that's all I remember.

This weekend, days 14-17, I majorly deviated from my diet. And little snack even, is enough to throw everything off. I'm proud of myself for having been completely vegan, sugar, and gluten free for 2 full weeks. On Saturday though, I ate fried chicken, red velvet cupcakes, and drank beer. Why? To celebrate with friends! These deviances were premeditated--I didn't find myself in tempting situations and cave. I planned these exceptions because being able to fully participate in the celebrations with my friends, in these instances, trumped my diet. I don't feel any guilt. What I do feel, however, is not up to par physically as well as the desire to eat more greasy, sugary, overly salty food. I woke up on Sunday morning and moaned for a while before sitting up in bed. Lol. I felt very nauseous and more sluggish than usual. I apologized to my stomach and got on with my day. Sunday and Monday (today) were not great food wise. Once you have a day of not eating well you find yourself wanting to take advantage of the short "break" you've allowed yourself and eat more and more bad things. Like cookies, maybe a doughnut. The cookies happened today. The doughnut will probably have happened in the time between my typing this sentence and me publishing this post later on tonight.  Tomorrow might not be great because I am out of groceries and will not have time to go shopping until after work! But I know for certain that by Wednesday I will be back on my plan.

And I now have extra motivation. I decided some days ago that I'll be doing a half marathon on October 21st. That's 9 weeks away, and training, for half-marathon first timers like me, should take 12 weeks. I'm not really worried because I plan to walk-run lol. But I am going to be very strict about my diet, exercise, and sleep schedule to give myself the best advantage possible with this shortened training time. So yes that is my incentive to hold strong to my diet even during upcoming celebrations...except my friend did recently mention this place that has amazing margaritas...that might happen sometime during my training. It's fine. I'm young and resilient.

Alrighty, until next time :).

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Days 10 +11 and a few things.

For the past 2 nights I've gotten a combined total of 10 hours of sleep. It's been a while since I've gotten this little sleep and it's never hit me so hard before. These past 2 days have been filled with headaches, nausea, and just general unease. I'm getting at least 8.5 hours tonight! Because I'm tired, this post might be quite sloppy, sorry!

Day 10

Breakfast: Green smoothie--4 romaine lettuce leaves, 1/2 cucumber, 1/2 avocado, 1 banana, soymilk, water, ground flaxseed, chia seeds.

Lunch: leftover kale salad from sunday, peach-blueberry cobbler

Dinner: rice and veggie bowl: brown rice, chick peas, garlic, onion, broccoli, carrots, kalmatta olives.

Snacks: cashews, carrots, "Peanut butter and jelly" Larabar, olives straight from the jar, 2 clementines," baby carrots and sweet red pepper hummus, Chocolate" Larabar...

O.M.G. absolute fave so far. absolute.

Day 11

Breakfast: green smoothie: 1.5 cups spinach, 1/2 an avocado, 1 banana, 1 tbs flaxseed, 1tbs hemp seeds, 1 tbs lemon juice, water to blend

Lunch: Raw Kale salad, peach-blueberry cobbler

Dinner: Leftover rice and veggie bowl

Snacks: banana, "Coconut cream pie" Larabar

A few things:
-I think I'm OD'ing on the Larabars so I'm not going to buy anymore for a little while (maybe a week lol).
-When I'm done with my current box of soymilk I think I am going to go a week without soy products (although I am a firm believer in comsuming whole soy products-- soymilk, tofu, tempeh, and miso are NOT bad for you!) just to see if I might be sensitive to them.
-My sugar and bread cravings have decreased significantly in frequency BUT they are still there, especially in the evening/night! Gah!
-I'm going to start including my daily exercise routine in these posts. Today I did yoga for 22 min. I turned it into "hot yoga" by closing the windows and turning off the fans haha. I also walked about 2.4 miles.

Until tomorrow!

Days 8 and 9 + Down on the Scale !


This past Saturday, thanks to friends, I discovered a whole-foods, plant based, mostly raw little restaurant/cafe close to one of the places I work! It's called "Earth's Healing Cafe," fitting right? I nearly passed out from excitement while looking at their menu- green smoothies, fresh juices, and raw entrees galore! I only ordered a smoothie during that first visit because they ended up not having the paticular entree that really caught my eye when I read their menu. I definitely plan on going back many times, however, and trying every. single. thing they have. Everysinglething.

Day 8

Breakfast- "Love and Light" Smoothie from Earth's Healing Cafe: chlorella, blueberries, dates, kale, spinach, coconut milk, cashew butter & banana

Lunch- Thai food from Roong Petch- Veggie Egg Rolls,  Green tea and the "Spicy Basil Noodle" dish.

I'm pretty sure there was gluten and added sugar in the sauce in this dish but it was the best I could do! I might have to put a hiatus on eating out until I complete these 6 weeks, I now my wallet would appreciate that...we'll see.

Dinner-Leftover "Spicy Basil Noodle"

Snacks: clementine orange, banana, 3/4 of a carton of strawberries

Day 9

Breakfast: "Fruit and Nut Chocolate Shake" 1.5 bananas, 1/2 avocado, 1/3 cup fresh strawberries, 1/4 cup raw almonds soaked over night, , 1 tbs cacao powder, 1 tbs flaxseed, 3/4 cup unsweetened soymilk, 1/2 cup water, 1tbs "Green Superfood" powder.

Thanks to that powder the smoothie tasted the way it looked :/. I've had the powder for months now and have yet to find a way to make it tasty!

Lunch: Gluten-free old-fashioned rolled oats with 1/2 cup soymilk, and a big handful of raisins!

Dinner: Hilary's "Adzuki Bean Burger,"  raw kale salad:  2 cups red kale (shredded), 1 roma tomato, 1/2 avocado, 1 tbs olive oil, 1/4 tsp sea salt, 1tbs lemon juice, a cup of red rooibos tea.
I think Hilary's is the best brand of vegan veggie buger I've come across so far! It's completely allergen free! The ingredients for this particular burger were: Water, millet, quinoa, adzuki beans, coconut oil, garlic, mild green chilies, onion, arrowroot, psyllium husk powder, sea salt, apple cider vinegar, cumin, sunflower seed oil, chili and chipotle powder, and lime juice.

Snacks:  peach-blueberry cobbler (vegan, sugar-free, gluten-free!), 1/2 banana, handful of cashews, "Banana Bread" Larabar, another banana
cobbler filling
Completely guilt free! The topping is made from gluten free rolled oats ground into "flour," 1/2 a banana, dates, and soy milk. The filling is made from organic blueberries, organic peaches, dates, buckwheat flour, and spices! Ok, ok, I put two pinches of stevia in the filling...but stevia is also guilt free lol.

Now some news about my weight! I got on the scale on Sunday and I've apparently lost 4 pounds since the last time I checked (a few weeks ago) !!! Yay!  I've been exercising pretty consistently for the past few weeks but it's mainly been for 20 minutes about 4 times a week so I think the weight loss has a little more to do with the change in my eating. Either way, I am very happy about it.


Friday, August 10, 2012

The "real" me (?), Day 7, and an article worth reading.

Do you ever say something in your head in a certain way and want to say it out loud but stop yourself because you realize you're the only one who knows you speak that way or say things like that? Well, tonight as I was walking home from a friend's apartment and thinking about writing a post to describe my 7th day of this gluten, dairy, and sugar free life, the first thing I thought was "IT'S DAY SEVEN MUTHAF*CKAHHHS!!"  Now, I don't know a single one of my friends, even the closest ones, who wouldn't look at me like I was crazy if they actually heard me say something like that in the way I thought of saying it. I think I think in one voice, speak in another, and write in another. I'm not sure which one's the most "real" or if they're even as separate as I think they are...


Day 7 Muthaf*ckahhs!! (Hehe). Sorry, no pictures. Today was just too busy:

Breakfast: Green-ish Smoothie: 1 banana, 1/2 Avocado, 1/4 cup blueberries, 2 big handfuls baby romaine lettuce, 1 heaping tbs ground flaxseed, 1/2 tbs fresh lemon juice, and water to blend.

Lunch: Leftover gluten-free, vegan pizza from last night

Dinner: Veggie Burrito Bowl from Chipotle- brown rice, black beans, fajita veggies, mild salsa, corn salsa, lettuce.

Snacks: "Key Lime Pie" Lara bar, 2 bananas, 1 clementine, potato chips (I know! bad choice..but they were kettle cooked?), pistachios.

Ahh, 7 days complete! How do I feel? Irritable, like I might be coming down with a cold, and like I really want a bar of yummy dark chocolate. But also very pleased with myself, lol, and excited about meal planning for this upcoming week! I'm also now more aware of how much I use sugary things as happy pills!  This week, at the end of every day, the time of day when I'm most likely to be grumpy, I'd find myself thinking about which sweet goody I could eat for a little pick me- up. And then I'd remember that I wouldn't be eating ANY sweet goodies for a while. And I'd think, "Well, EFF!! What's going to make me feel better now?!" Then I'd go home and grumpily cook and eat my NOT SWEET dinner, and there'd be a voice in my head asking "'re really not gonna have a cookie with that?" Womp. Lol. I am comforted though that in another week I should be over the hardest part of this!

I will leave you with a link to a really great article I read tonight called  "What Your Body Is Trying to Tell You: Common signals you shouldn’t ignore." Read it here! I promise it will be worth your while!

Here are a few excerpts that I really appreciated:

"Taking the time to decipher the body’s codes is always better than simply popping a pill and hoping the symptoms just go away. Ideally, we want to get to the causes of problems, not just suppress the end result of ill health.”

"Western medicine has many strengths: stamping out infections; treating emergencies, like heart attacks; and swooping in with trauma care after an accident or disaster. But when a condition is hard to diagnose, or is chronic or nagging, like poor digestion, insomnia or general fatigue, going outside the doctor’s office may be your best bet.

“Most medical-school curriculum focuses on acute care and doesn’t adequately train for chronic health issues — which constitute the most common troubles for most of the patients they see,” says Elizabeth Lipski, PhD, CCN, and author of Digestive Wellness (McGraw-Hill, 2004).
As both a medical doctor and a naturopath, Elson M. Haas has a foot in each world. He tends to agree with Lipski’s take, and he also sees limitations in the way that Western medical practitioners typically try to snuff out the body’s attempts to heal.

“Many symptoms, such as sinus congestion, allergies and excess mucus, are ways it’s trying to rid itself of excess toxins,” he says. “Western medicine tries to control these symptoms, by suppressing the fever or drying up the congestion, instead of supporting the body’s natural means of elimination and detoxification.”

Ok that is all friends,


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Day 6: How to be Gluten-free, Sugar-free, and Vegan the wrong way

I almost had a meltdown today. Everything was going well earlier in the day. I woke up, had my quiet time, and did some yoga then a little cardio. Had a good time at job #1. Had an okay time at job #2.

I leave job #2 and all of a sudden I'm on the verge of crying, or kicking a stranger in the shin, because it's cold and raining and I'm so very hungry and I've finished all the food I packed for the day, and I know I'm still at least a couple of hours away from eating dinner and my options for emergency sustenance are Dunkin' Donuts/Baskin Robbins , Lee's Wok, a "Burritos, Tacos, and Tortas" place, and a 7 eleven.

I chose the 7 eleven. I got a banana and a pack of "Wonderful" pistachios. Mmmm pistachios :)

I was hungry, and super grumpy, again in about 45 minutes. And still very cold. The day ended well, however, because a wonderful friend treated me to dinner and in doing so saved me from having to cook tonight. Now, normally I love cooking. I just didn't have the mental or physical energy for it tonight. My dinner was gluten-free, sugar-free, and vegan but it wasn't exactly  "healthy." Take a look:

Potato wedges and a Black Olive Pizza with soy cheese on a thin brown rice flour crust. Apart from a salad, the pizza was the only gluten free option at this particular restaurant. I didn't want a salad!!   I'll be having the rest of this pizza for lunch tomorrow. But I'm going to pile a whole bunch of baby romaine lettuce on top of it haha.

Aside from dinner, I think I ate very well today!

Breakfast: Green Juice and Banana Blueberry Steel Cut Oatmeal with raisins

Lunch: Raw Kale Salad, Chocolate Coconut Chew Larabar, and leftover Millet and Mushroom Gravy (not pictured)

The Larabar was so good! The ingredients for this one were dates, walnuts, pecans, and unsweetened cocoa powder. And they use fair trade certified cocoa! They just keep winning with me.

Snacks: baby carrots, a banana, a clementine.
Alright folks,


Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Day 5 and Larabars!

I had some dark moments today. Moments in which I considered going "Screw it!!" and ordering a large cheese pizza or at the very least munching on some of Emile's* Goldfish crackers and Keebler Fudge-Striped cookies! I managed to resist those temptations. As I type this post however, I'm feeling very hungry and it's almost unbearable. I shouldn't feel this hungry, it's not like I didn't eat today...
* Emile is the 4 year old boy that I babysit.

Breakfast: Standard Green Smoothie: 1 banana, 1/2 cup frozen blueberries, 2 large curly kale leaves ( makes almost 2 cups chopped), 1 date, 1/4 cup raw cashews soaked overnight, 1 tbs hemp seeds, 1 tbs ground flax seed, 1 tbs raw coconut butter, water to blend.

Lunch: 2 cups of Burrito Breakfast Bake (last night's dinner) over 2 cups baby romaine lettuce salad.

Dinner: Millet with Mushroom Gravy, basically this recipe (one of my faves) without the rosemary and kale.

Snacks: raw almonds and raisins, an apple, baby carrots, a clementine, and...a Larabar! What's a Larabar you ask? These are Larabars!
 In the first few months after I decided I wanted to be vegan, I started following a number of vegan blogs and every once in a while someone would write about how amazing Larabar's were. I tasted my first one some months ago, was very pleased, but then somehow forgot about them. Unitl now. I found myself at a Jewel Osco this evening and while trying to find a pack of Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Oats, I came across the most amazing array of Larabars I'd ever seen. There were so many flavors and I had a hard time deciding which to get. Eventually (and I mean like 15 minutes later) I settled on "Key Lime Pie," "Cherry Pie," "Chocolate Coconut Chew" and "Ginger Snap." As you can see from the above picture, Ginger Snap is no longer with us. She was delicious.  Why do I think Larabar's are great? Well they are the only food bars I know of that are made entirely of actual food--no "inulin fiber" or "soy protein isolate," or unpronounceable, chemical-y sounding ingredients. They are also completely vegan and gluten free. The majority of the flavors are also sugar free (meaning no white sugar, brown sugar, agave nectar, maple syrup, fruit juice concentrate, brown rice syrup, tapioca syrup, evaporated cane juice etc.) All the ones pictured above are sugar free and get their sweetnes from dates. Take a look at Ginger's ingredients:

Do you see that? Most food bars have at least 15 ingredients (although they are far from being the worst offenders, try getting through the list on the package for a Clif or Luna bar). This one? Dates, Almonds, Pecans, Ginger, Cinnamon, Cloves. That's it. This bar has no questionable ingredients and all it's sugar comes from whole fruit. Try them! I can't wait to eat the others.

In other news, I just gave in to my hunger and ate a banana. My reason for trying to resist was that I wanted to have at least an hour between eating my last bit of food for the night and going to sleep. Oh well. Maybe tomorrow.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Look What I Got! And Days 3 and 4

Yesterday I bought two things that made me very happy

The book Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr and a Yoga mat. I read Carr's book some months ago and LOVED it. I know the name sounds funny but it's a legit read! Carr is a cancer survivor who basically treated her disease by making some drastic lifestyle changes. Here is  the synopsis of the book

"Infused with Carr's signature sass, wit and advice-from-the-trenches style, Crazy Sexy Diet is a beautifully illustrated resource that puts you on the fast track to vibrant health, happiness and a great ass! Along with help from her posse of experts, she lays out the fundamentals of her Crazy Sexy Diet: an anti-inflammatory, vegetarian program that emphasizes balancing the pH of the body with lush whole and raw foods, nourishing organic green drinks, and scrumptious smoothies. Plus, she shares the steps of her own twenty-one-day cleanse, and simple but delectable sample recipes. Carr empowers readers to move from a state of constant bodily damage control to one of renewal and repair, making this a must-have for anyone who seeks to be a confident and sexy wellness warrior."

Meh...I don't think that accurately portrays the book's awesomeness but at least you have some idea what it's about. Anyway, I was very sad when I had to return the book to the library. There was so much information that I didn't have enough time to absorb. I knew that I had to get my own copy one day; it's been on my wish list for months. Well, I made that wish come true yesterday! I can't wait to read it again! That probably won't happen for at least another week though because I'm currently working my way through The China StudyLoving it so far. ::Sigh:: I get so excited reading about food and nutrition!! You know how your mouth waters when you're really hungry and you get a whiff or catch a glimpse of the delicious meal you're about to eat? Well that's what my brain does when I read about this stuff. Yes...reading about food and nutrition makes my brain salivate..and it always wants more! Next on my list is The Starch Solution. I almost walked out of Barnes and Nobles with it yesterday but I couldn't justify spending $26.00 on it when it's less than $16 on Amazon, and free from the library if I just wait a couple of weeks.

As for the yoga mat: I do yoga fairly often and plan to do it even more regularly so I thought it was about time I invested in a mat. I learned this morning that doing yoga on a yoga mat instead of on a rug, a quilt, or a regular exercise mat makes SUCH a big difference!

Now onto food: I've officially completed FOUR WHOLE DAYS of being gluten, sugar, and dairy free (I would say vegan but I had that fried egg on Sunday)!  I am so proud of me. Only 38 days to go...It's been tough. It's hardest at the end of the day when I'm really tired, I get home and I still have to make dinner (a process that took me about 2.5 hours tonight) and I really just want something sweet to boost my mood. For the few days I think I may have been using too much oil and salt in my cooking so I'm trying to be more mindful of that here on out. Here's what I've been eating:

Day 3

Breakfast: "Nut Shake"- 1/4 cup almonds soaked overnight, soymilk, 1 banana, 1/2 avocado, 2 dates, 1tbs flaxseeds, 1 tbs hemp seeds, 1tsp cacao powder
Leftover Tofu Scramble, Grilled Polenta, and spring salad mix

Dinner: "Spicy Black Beans" (I used this recipe as a reference but basically only seasoned them with garlic, onion, Bragg's liquid amino acids, and nutritional yeast), Baked Plantains, Brown Rice, and Raw Kale Salad (I love raw kale when I prepare it this way: with olive oil, lemon juice, sea salt, raisins, and raw cashews, ahhh so good).
This has been my favorite dinner so far!
Snacks: a banana, baby carrots, too many handfuls of cashews,  and a pack of pistachios

Day 4:

Breakfast: "Very Very Banana-Blueberry" chia pudding

So "normally" you make chia pudding by soaking chia seeds in milk from anywhere from 20 minutes to a day or two. I usually make mine by soaking the seeds in soymilk or raw almond milk with some agave syrup. Well since I'm currently not using any form of sweetner that isn't a fruit I decided to try something new. I made a banana blueberry smoothie and then soaked the chia seeds in that. That's the first picture. I quickly realized if I wanted to be able to actually eat the pudding I'd have to spruce it up a bit. So I added a banana and some blueberries in their whole form. It wasn't the best but it was very edible. And I felt pretty great after eating it!

Lunch: Leftover Raw Kale Salad and Spicy Black beans (beans not pictured here).

Dinner Part 1: Brown Rice and Kimchi (making dinner tonight took a LONG time. So to avoid passing out from hunger, I had to have an "appetizer.")

Dinner Part 2: Breakfast Burrito Bake - This ended up being alot so I'll probably be eating it for lunch and dinner for the next couple of days! I loved this because it's made up entirely of vegetables, beans, and spices: mushroom, zucchini, onion, red bell pepper, potatoes, swiss chard, cilantro, black beans, and pinto beans. I did not love this because it was a completely oil free and salt free recipe and that took some mental adjusting.

I didn't have enough potato topping. womp.

Snacks: walnuts and raisins, baby carrots, a banana, an apple, raw cashews

Alrighty, that is all for now!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Sweet Jamaica mine.

Help me big up Jamaica/the land of food and wata/the system might nuh propa, but wi love di vibes, di food, and di culcha/ Woi, can’t you see the beauty of dis country/  mi nevah know a serious ting/ until mi reach a foreign…”

Today my country is celebrating 50 years of independence from Great Britain.  I am sure that celebrations of “Jamaica 50” are in full swing. I am happy for Jamaica and the people around the world who are having a good time in her honor right now. I am also, as I usually am when I think about my country, a little sad. I have a hard time thinking about her because when I do, I can’t help think of the ways people have constantly challenged my right to claim her as my own.

 When I first left Jamaica 11 years ago there was very little questioning of whether or not I was Jamaican. Although I had visited the United States, Miami specifically, a couple of times in the years prior, in 2001 I knew I was in Miami to stay and I felt like a foreigner: The food was different— I was particularly grossed out by how thick hot dog sausages were here, “patties” didn’t mean a flaky pastry crust stuffed with meat/and or vegetables, and spices, but rather, hamburger meat shaped into a flat circle, KFC didn’t have barbeque chicken sandwiches or fries only potato wedges, apparently eating rice and peas and plantains (now pronounced plan-taynes, instead of plan-tins) with EVERY meal was not the norm, and everyone did not love ackee and saltfish and fried dumplins. A new culture surrounded me—most people seemed to speak Spanish, most people greeted me with a kiss on the cheek; there were new words and phrases like oyé! Mira! Dimé, Can I hold your pencil? I’m finna go…I found myself in a new type of school with no uniforms and no morning assembly, a school that offered “free or reduced lunch,” that sold CRAP cafeteria food (no patties or pizza pockets or cooked lunch or amazing assortment of candy), that did not insist on standing up when a teacher entered the classroom to show respect, that gave out progress reports, and where you moved around for most classes instead of the teachers coming to you...I could make a much more extensive list describing my culture shock but I’ll stop here. Everything was different, everything was new.  In the beginning I processed those differences negatively and so I clung to my family, I kept in close touch with my friends back home, and made my first new friends ones who were either Jamaican or had a strong Jamaican or Caribbean background/ connection.

 Over the years, things changed. I became acclimatized to the U.S; my mother cooked run down, ackee and saltfish, fried dumplings and festival , “yellow” soup, and red peas soup  less and less often; my accent faded;  and the majority of my friends became people who knew very little about my pretty little island. I found that I liked my American high school a great deal. I was known and celebrated there because I was smart.  I began kissing people on the cheek in greeting.  I  legally became a U.S citizen. I could no longer name all the Jamaican parishes and their capitals. I could barely remember an Anancy story or the plot of A Cow Called Boy, the U.S government and U.S universities worked together to finance both of my degrees. And during these years people began to either imply or straight out tell me that I was no longer Jamaican or not Jamaican enough. They haven’t stopped. These people were strangers and these people were family and friends.  And their words hurt very much.

 For the past 10 years I have hated the question “Where are you from?” I hated that the asker didn’t realize that their question was not a simple thing to answer. “I am from Jamaica.” “No, where are you really from?”  “….My immediate family lives in Miami…but I was born in Jamaica and lived there for 13 years.” “But you don’t have an accent…can you say something in Jamaican? C’mon let me hear it.”

Nearly two months ago, I visited my country for the first time since I’d immigrated and I once again felt like a foreigner. I was there for 6 days and had an amazing time with family on both my mother’s and father’s side, with my god parents, and with friends.  I was jealous though. Jealous of the people who hadn’t had the formation of their ethnic identity disrupted the people who were so clearly Jamaican and sounded like it. I felt out of place and that the comfort I should have had being around my people had been stolen from me. I had to deal with the comments about how “Americanized” I was.  And I mourned.  I mourned the other life I could have had— the life that would have been mine, the certainty in being Jamaican that I would have possessed, if I’d spent years 13-24 there.

 The United States as a country has never felt like “home” for me.  And despite my great love for President Obama, I don’t possess an ounce of “patriotism,” and I will never ever be a “proud American” (not because it is a bad place but because it’s not “mine.”) I lived 13 years in Kingston, Jamaica, 4 years in Miami, Florida, 5 years in Gainesville, Florida, and  I've been here in Chicago, Illinois for nearly 2. Right now Chicago feels like “home” but I’ll never be “from” here and no matter which U.S city I live in and grow to love, it will never translate to me feeling like an “American.” I am very thankful for the opportunity living in the U.S. has given me, I am grateful for the life I have here for the amazing, amazing relationships I’ve formed and experiences I’ve had here. I like the privilege I receive from having this country on my passport but…

Nothing can change the fact that on July 5th, 1988 I was born in Nuttall Memorial Hospital in Kingston, Jamaica. No one can change that I spent the first 13 years of my life living on Grovedale Drive and then in Acadia Circle. No one can take away the Christmas days that I would drive to country with my family to visit my great-grandmother “Granny Blanche,” my uncle Lance and my cousins Mark and Chester “the man from Manchester.”  No one can take away the 10 years I danced at Jamaica School of Dance and all of my performances at The Little Theater. No one can take away the mornings that I would listen to Reggae and Soca music as mommy or daddy drove me to Discovery World, St. Andrew Prep, and then Campion College, or the afternoons that I’d listen to Barbara Gloudon on the way home from those places. No one can change the times I spent playing “Ring around the Rosy,” “What can you do Puncinella Little Fella,” “There’s a Brown Girl in the Ring,” or “Farmer in the Den” on the school playground with my friends or at home with my sisters. No one can change the fact that I know why the phrase “we don’t play hockey, we eat [h]ackee” is hi-larious or the fact that I used to watch Royal Palm Estate.

Who can take the jingle “Me-etric fever, me-tric fever; everybody haffi learn fi use-metric; everybody haffi learn fi use-metric;” out of my mind? Who can say that I never enjoyed Chippees Banana Chips, Cheez Zees, Kiss Cupcakes, Cheese Trix, Dominoes cookies, Cheese Popcorn, Big Foot, bag juice, box drinks, patty and cocoa bread, fried dumplings, mackerel run down, curry goat and chicken, jerk chicken, gungo rice and peas, stew peas,  guineps, and oataheite apples? Who can change that I knew paw paw and pak choy before I knew “papaya” and “bok choy”?  Who can re-write my history to not include the times I would stand to attention with my right arm crossed over my heart and proudly sing the words “Eternal Father, Bless our Land…” or the special morning assemblies at St. Andrew Prep where they would raise the flag and we would say the National Pledge?  Who can change that I grew up watching JBC/ TVJ, CVM, and Love TV? Who can change that I was born going to St. Andrew Parish Church and was christened by Father Thompson? Who can erase the fun I had during November Prizegiving ceremonies, and December bazaars and Christmas concerts at my prep school? Who can say that I didn’t take the GSAT and earn the right to be a first-former at Campion College? Who can say that I Mrs. Edwards didn’t teach me to write in cursive or read, Miss Lynch didn’t teach me art or that Mr. Stone didn’t teach me history, that I didn’t survive Mrs. Ogilve’s clasroom when I was 6 and Mrs. Frasier’s when I was 10, that I never had extra lessons with Mrs. Williams? Who can tell me what it was like for me to go to the market with my mother on Saturday mornings or to spend Sunday evenings with my family at Devon House, eating ice cream and standing on the small bridge over the pond to see the turtles and little orange fish!

 Who knows the grief I felt at leaving my home behind?  Who feels my grief now when I realize that there’s so much about it that I that I no longer remember?

 I don’t understand why people feel the need to define my identity for me and I resent them for trying. But the truth is no one can change the blood running through my veins—my mother’s blood, my father’s blood, the blood of their mothers and their fathers and their mother’s mothers and their father’s fathers and their mother’s fathers and father’s mothers. I have centuries of Jamaican ancestry to support me and I will always be Jamaican. It is the place that holds my history, the place that is the foundation of my heritage. I will never forget the words of our pledge or our anthem. I will never feel such pride for and loyalty to another country. I will never be from anywhere else. And I have only two words for the people who want to challenge me on that. I won’t say them here though.

I love you Jamaica. Happy 50th year of Independence!

This is the land of my birth/ This is the land of my birth/ This is Jamaica, my Jamaica/ This is the land of my birth.”

Sunday, August 5, 2012

I'm not alone; Days 1 and 2

Today, first at church and then at home, I had some great conversations with friends about food and about my frustration with not knowing which dietary plan is "the best" one. These conversations were great mainly because several people admitted to also feeling frustration and confusion. Empathy is always nice.

I've been completely gluten, dairy, and sugar free for 2 days! It's been challenging and I know it's going to get much more challenging over the next couple of weeks but I'm proud of my 2 days so far.

Day 1

Breakfast: Smoothie: 1/3 cup strawberries, 1 banana, 2 dates,  3/4 cup water, 3/4 cup soymilk, 1/4 cup raw walnuts soaked overnight, 1 tbs hemp seeds, 1tbs ground flaxseeds, 1 tbs flax oil.

Lunch: Leftovers of this Caulilower Chickpea "Curry" I made a couple days ago with Sauteed Spinach. And Jasmine green tea (without honey or stevia!)

Dinner:  Grilled Polenta,  [kind of sauteed] Tofu, Steamed Broccoli

Snacks throughout the day: a few handfuls of raisins , a banana, an apple...I think that was all.

Day 2

Breakfast: Green Smoothie (I didn't take a picture): 1 cup spinach, 1/2 avocado, 1/4 cup frozen strawberries, 1 banana, 1 tbs flaxseed, 1 tbs flax oil, 1 tbs hemp seeds, 3/4 cup soy milk, 3/4 cup water, 2 dates.

Lunch: Went to a local cafe-ish place with some friends after church and had the "Huevos Toni." Which was a corn tortilla topped with a fried egg, black beans, corn and salsa.

It was alright but I'm pretty sure I could've made a tastier version...with tofu. And I think I will attempt that soon. Look out for it!

Dinner: Leftover Grilled Polenta and 2 cups spring salad mix topped with Scrambled Tofu.

Snacks throughout the day: a banana, some tortilla flaxseed chips a friend offered to me, about 4 handfuls (that's 3 too many!) of raw cashew pieces.

Dessert: An entire carton of fresh organic strawberries. so yummy. Strawberries in the summer are so much better than strawberries at any other time of the year!

How am I feeling? "Hungry." but I don't quite trust my "hunger." At several points yesterday and today I would feel full but still feel "hungry" b/c I just wanted something more...particularly something sweet and/ or dough-y. lol. Sigh. We can do this body!!