I still haven't totally processed this, but Chris and I will be spending a considerable chunk of next month in Italy. In fact, we leave next week--which feels even further from comprehension.
Our stay will take us through Rome, Florence, Venice, and Milan, plus a week in a villa on a farm. We're planning to spend a little time seeing some sights and a whole lot of time sitting in piazzas and getting gloriously lost as we wander and explore. During our villa stay, we'll relax and take a few day trips. Also--one of the most exciting parts--we will have a kitchen in our apartment. You didn't really think I'd go almost a month without cooking, did you?
I've heard so many great things about how Italy handles gluten-free and am hearing positive things about vegan dining there as well. I'd love to hear from you, though. If you've been to Italy, what are your tips for eating GF and/or veg? Did you find it easy or difficult? Any specific restaurants that shouldn't be missed? Also, if you have any non-food travel tips, opinions on must-see attractions, or insider advice about out-of-the-way gems, please leave them below as well.
Many ideas crossed my mind as potential rewards for completing our 21-Day Challenge. They ranged from treating myself to a juice cleanse or a spa treatment to purchasing a new piece of jewelry or splurging on clothing from one of my favorite shops. Ultimately, I decided on something more permanent, something that would honor my yoga practice and also serve as a symbol of my commitment to a vegan lifestyle.
On Saturday night, for the first time in almost eight years, I got a new tattoo.
Chris and I finished our 21-Day Challenge this past Saturday. Just as with my first challenge, there were no fireworks or confetti canons to celebrate our victory. Instead, we were left with something so much better than any grand salute could have provided. We experienced a real, fundamental change in the way each of us approaches and feels about incorporating physical activity into our lives.
I said before that taking on a challenge is great because it eliminates excuses and creates an environment where there is accountability—where in a sense, you have to do whatever it is that you’ve committed to, regardless of circumstance. It does something bigger than that, though.
I know it might seem like it, but my transition to a clean, vibrant, healthy diet didn’t magically happen overnight. I didn’t wake up one morning and start slurping kale smoothies and mowing down alfalfa sprouts. It took time, evolution in my taste buds, and some redefining of what I saw as food. And thankfully, there were a handful of store-bought products that I was able to lean on to get me through those first few weeks.
Yes, whole foods always trump anything you can buy in a box, carton, or can, but there is no shame in using such things to aid your transition into healthier eating. And with consumers becoming more conscious in recent years of what's going into their food, many companies have responded by producing some really great products that you don't need to feel so bad about bringing home.
I woke up on Sunday morning tired in the way that makes your head swim and fills your belly with nausea. I was anticipating a fairly relaxed weekend, but, as uncertain family plans suddenly got the green light, every span of downtime from Friday on became filled with prep work. Those early Sunday hours were no exception.
I dragged myself into the kitchen and began slicing eggplant, a high flame heating the cast iron grill pan on the stove behind me. I was certain that it was only a matter of time before I would cut or burn myself; such things usually happen when I’m working in the kitchen at minimized capacity. I was also certain that the work ahead of me was going to take hours—hours that I didn’t have.
Day 15 of 21: I still had to make it to Pilates (there weren’t any early enough yoga classes) before heading out to spend the holiday with the fam.
By some small miracle, I managed to neither cut nor burn myself. With a little help from the hubby, not only did the eggplant get grilled, but I finished all the remaining prep work for the pizzas I would be contributing to Easter dinner. And I may have smelled of smoke (a drawback to grilling indoors), but I made it to Pilates.
(Gluten-free, vegan pizza for Easter--a special request from my grandmother-in-law, Ma. Photo courtesy of my husband.)
Since a good number of you told me you made my Carrot Cake with Maple Icing to celebrate the spring holiday last year, I thought I'd revisit it, veganize it, and make it all-around a little healthier for this spring. Plus, it's one of my father-in-law's favorites; it was important that I come up with a reliable vegan version so that I can still bring it to family gatherings.