Thursday, May 20, 2010

A tribute to my former mother-in-law, Madelene Trudeau

I know it is difficult for those who know me to picture this, but in 1980, I was 30 and a hot shot international management consultant, globetrotting and earning five time more than I ever made, even as an attorney - and that was 30 years ago!!

I had a personal assistant, a personal shopper, and a driver. I spent six days a week on the road or working and one day a week: getting my hair done, face done, make-up updated, massage, manicure, pedicure. I had an expense account for clothes and one for all of the above pampering. Hard to think a 30 year old needed that much grooming, but appearances are important in that industry.

During 1980, however, I not only experienced being caught in the crossfires of a terrorist bombing in Manila, but also a serious home invasion, burglary, attack and an armed robbery. (In some ways, little in my life has changed. I still need major trauma and drama to convince me that it is time to make life changes! smile.)

I decided, then, to move to the country and settled in NW Connecticut, marrying the local John Deere Dealer who became the father of my wonderful son.

I am sure his family was stunned by my arrival as was the small town where we lived. The guys at the local diner called me "Ms Make-up" and one of the first women I met explained to me that steal toed boots would serve me better than my Italian strappy sandals. I learned that one could not hail a cab and that no one delivered anything by maybe a soggy pizza.

Yet, my dear mother-in-law learned that my favorite dinner (at that time -- I was not a vegan nor a veggie -- and my favorite dinner was not colorful or stunningly plated) was:
roasted chicken breast
mashed potatoes
and corn.

She often made it for me as a treat. New to the family, I used manners when I ate, (can you even imagine!) but clandestinely, when I thought absolutely no one was looking, I would stir a little chicken, in a little potato and gravy and mix in a little corn. The stirred up bite was heavenly in my mouth. Ms Manners be damned. I do know it is rude to stir up your food, but boy, do I love to do it. I figured, the food just gets mixed up in my stomach anyway -- why not start at the mouth?

My wise and loving mother-in-law quietly noticed and one time, when I was getting ready for the secret stir, and looking around to see if anyone was paying attention, she caught my eye and whispered to me, "go ahead -- I know you like to eat that way -- go ahead and stir it all up."

Whoa! That opened the floodgates -- and from that moment on, whenever she made me "my special meal," and we sat down to eat, I would look at her, she would nod, and I would mix up the whole batch: chicken, potatoes, gravy and corn, into one glorious mixture and I would just luxuriate in my meal and in the feeling of love, family and acceptance.

This is a long, but special, way for me to introduce the meal du jour a la Garden of Eden Vegan.

After the veggie burgers (see previous post), I still had extra Yukon Gold potatoes. And I remembered those family times with the Trudeau's in Connecticut and "my special meal."


I made a batch of mashed potatoes and put them in a large pasta bowl.
Then I caramelized my Valdalia onions and added cabbage, a bit of water and a shake of Nama Shoyu and steamed the mixture until the cabbage was wilted.
To the mashed potatoes, I added the onion/cabbage mixture, and a can of white corn and chipolte peppers.
Then I stirred it up and mixed it up to my heart's content.

This was my lunch and my supper -- and since as usual, I had more cabbage than potato, I served the mixture on a bed of cabbage.

I bet this is darn healthy -- think of all the good that cabbage does for our bodies; and think of how yummy Yukon Gold Potatoes taste and add in the pop of a kernel of corn as you chew --- heavenly.

AND NEWS FLASH -- I returned home six days ago -- and today, I weighed in on the Toledoes and lost the three pounds I gained on the cruise.


my body feels so much better back to my vegan lifestyle. The cheese was yummy -- but it just feels so much better to me to be vegan.

I even like the IDEA of it!

Wishing you happy mixtures of all of your favorite things - in life and on your plate.

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The Story Behind the Garden of Eden Vegan Blog

For those of you who knew me prior to December 30, 2009, I was a veteran of the fast food culinary institute. My son, when he lived with me would ask if I had ordered the "Shabbat pizza" yet as the sun was setting Friday nights.

My idea of a good meal was a McFish sandwich, fries with extra salt, and a medium diet coke.

Everything was better covered in a rich creamy sauce and the idea of a naked baked potato was as foreign to me as walking naked in Manhattan.

In June of 2009 I decided to formally become a vegetarian. Although I had dabbled with this, it was not until I read Skinny Bitch that the gauntlet was thrown.

Now being a vegetarian does not sign you up for good health. I was proof of that. Chubby when I started, I indulged in pizza, french fries, cheese, cheese, butter, cheese, pizza......and became very over weight, tipping the Toledos at 200 pounds at 5'4". And taking an assortment of meds for cholesterol and GERD and who knows what else.

As the decade was waning, and with my 60th birthday approaching in the year 2010, there was a perfect storm that snapped my beak and got me in gear. The same friend who gave me Skinny Bitch, turned me on to the John McDougall website. At the same time, there was a Grand Round lecture at the hospital where I work on the book Eat to Live, and at the same time, I was tired of how I looked and felt and needed to make a change.

I regret that I did not start this blog when I changed my lifestyle, but it is better late than never.

My weight is down about 35 pounds, my size has gone from a tight 16 to a loose 12. And I am on no meds, although my vegetarian doctor and I will review my blood work within this month to see if I need anything (like b12) boosted.

I began as a Vegan Minus. Or what I call a Garden of Eden Vegan.

As you know, a Vegan eats no animals nor animal products - none. But then I subtracted oil, sugar, and processed foods.

That is a big subtraction -- but it is this subtraction that helped with weight loss, lack of cravings, increased energy, health, and vibrancy.

Now I am dabbling in raw foods and have signed up to learn with Russell James (google him).

I like the taste and health aspect of raw foods, but worry about the increased calories. So I will (hopefully) use the raw creations as a supplement to my Gan (Hebrew for Garden -- I am in a Hebrew mood today) Eden Vegan lifestyle.

My doctor said that I should write a book about this since most of her patients need it. I said, "Who, or how many, would want to do this?" We shall see. It has been easy (no cravings) and exciting as life and energy unfold before me, just as it was meant to be. (It didn't unfold over a fried fish sandwich, extra tarter sauce.)

Join me or not. Walk with me the whole journey, day trips, part of it, or not. This is my 60th year -- buckle up life, here I come.