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It’s Alive

Hello (again), world!

Pardon the dust… I’ve been rearranging things to resurrect Epic Organic. It started off as a food blog, and quickly turned to a vegetarian/vegan food blog. It chronicled my running here and there, and then fell dormant as I stopped running and stopped cooking.

I’ve embarked on a new journey that has me back in the gym and back in the kitchen, so I thought I’d brush the dust off of this little corner of the web and get back to documenting these things. My new gym is a CrossFit box (Rocktown CrossFit), though I remain a member of my old gym (RMH Wellness Center) and hope to get back to swimming as well. Betcha didn’t know I took up swimming last year… yep, it’s been a while since I’ve blogged here!

I’m completely new to weight lifting and CrossFit, and am not much beyond a novice swimmer, so I hope to share the experiences of learning the ropes of both. I’m starting from a fitness base of – well, just about nothing, unfortunately, so it should be a crazy ride.

It’s been fun so far! We’ll see where it goes….

Updating Recipes

My former recipe plug-in has fallen out of development, and I’ve been scrambling (err, well, procrastinating) to find a suitable replacement. I’m no chef, but it sure is nice to have a repository of recipes that I like (if only so that I can go back and find them when I want to make them again!)

ReciPAGE, the creation of one of my favorite food bloggers (Emily at Daily Garnish), is now free, and that’s all the inspiration I needed to work on my recipe section!

I’ve ported over the worthwhile vegan/vegetarian recipes, and hope to get some newer ones added as well (now that I have a functioning recipe system!)

My camera is also full of food pictures from the last few days that need to turn into blog posts. (I just got my first KitchenAid stand mixer! Squeeeee!)

Stay tuned! Yum to come!

I am at Peace With the Cows

For the past couple weeks, I’ve been knocking around the idea in my head of going vegan again. You may recall, when I first went vegetarian (March 21, 2010), I started out vegan. I called myself vegetarian, knowing I wasn’t bold enough to force the vegan issue at restaurants, but with very rare exceptions, I ate vegan for the first 3 months. Then, I decided that I wanted to eat yogurt, as well as cheese on my Jimmy John’s #6 (no tomato, extra avo). I’ve been happily vegetarian ever since (lacto-vegetarian, if you want to be technical about it – no meat, no eggs, no fish, but dairy is OK).

But every time I dug into a cup of yogurt, I thought about the cows.

I went on a day trip to a dairy farm a couple years ago, before I went veg. It was interesting and fun. I saw the birth of a cow, and all of the cow barns, and the milking process. It all looked pretty OK. And that experience is what I’ve used over the past year to paint ignorance over what I know is really happening.

Because when I take my blinders off, I have to ask: what happens to the baby boy calves after they’re born? Why are the cows pregnant all the time? How do they get pregnant? And so on. I know the answers. They aren’t pretty. They’re exactly why I went vegetarian a year ago.

So, why have I made it OK to eat dairy? Because it tastes good?

Essentially, I’ve been choosing to ignore the reality of the matter for my own sensual pleasures.

Not anymore.

This past year spent eating vegetarian has been eye-opening and truly remarkable for me. I really do feel like I am living my own personal truths. It lifts a weight off of my heart that I could not have imagined. I can honor my compassion for animals wholly and without feeling like a hypocrite – that is, except for the cows.

So, to my friends, the cows – I will no longer ignore your anguish. I will not participate in the horrors placed upon you by this country’s factory farming practices. I come in peace.

Yesterday, 1 year after I went vegetarian, I decided to free my mind from the guilt of hurting the cows. March 21, 2011: I am vegan once more.

Anticipation of Yum

This is the post whereby I anticipate YUM!

Caitlin over at Healthy Tipping Point had me at “grilled banana” – but imagine this drool-inducing scenario, if you will: grilled banana, stuffed between what is essentially 2 slices of french toast. Oh, sweet, cinnamony, vanilla-y goodness! A grilled banana sandwich. I don’t even need to cook this to know it’s going to be ridiculous-good.

As I sit here charging my iPod and transferring new diggnation episodes to it to watch on the treadmill, I’m also researching ways to vegan-ize the french toast part of this recipe, as I don’t eat eggs. I’ve mish-mashed a few recipes together and I’ve got what I think is a solid plan for making a most excellent brunch when I return from the gym.

Speaking of the gym… I figured out this morning why I couldn’t get video to play from my iPod onto the entertainment center screens on the Precor treadmills at the gym. It’s because I was playing the audio versions of the podcasts instead of the video versions. Duh. Video doesn’t play for an audio podcast, sweetie. *smack* It turns out, there’s a video category on the iPod – so if you happen to be having the same problem (I can’t imagine you are, but just in case), from the main screen, go to the Video category instead of the Podcast category. Run the podcast from there. I’m confident that the video will play just fine when I get to the gym today.

In other news, I added a widget to the right sidebar from DailyMile.com, one of the sites I use to track my running progress. (I also use Garmin Connect – I really need to buy the foot pod accessory so I can use my Garmin on the treadmill as well as outside). The Daily Mile widget shows the stats for my last run. I just completed the Couch to 5K training program, and will run in what is technically my second 5K race this weekend – but it will be the first time I attempt to run the entire thing. I have plans to add some running stuff to this blog shortly, so stay tuned!

Now, off to the gym so I can get home and make this insane grilled banana sandwich!

Evolution

I’ve been on an evolutionary path of sorts this year. It all started late last year, November 2009, when I started investigating the foods I was eating and the industry that produces that food in this country. In December, I “went organic.” I cut out most processed foods (and all non-organic foods). I added several meat-free days to my diet. I kicked the Diet Dr. Pepper habit – which wasn’t difficult when I realized it was just chemical water. Who wants to drink that?! I started exercising.

By the end of January 2010, I had met my New Year’s resolution of trying 10 new foods. Since I liked every one that I tried, I decided to stop counting and just keep trying new foods. (It wasn’t hard – I’ve been a freezer-to-microwave girl for all of my adult life, pretty much since I started making my own food choices). I try something new almost every week now. Maybe I’ll run out of things to try by the end of the year, but I doubt it. Something like 20 plants make up our standard diet, but there are more than 7,000 edible plants out there. I won’t be out scavenging in the woods to find new things to eat, but there are plenty of new-to-me foods at the grocery store and farmers’ markets.

By March 2010, I knew that the next step in my evolution had to be to adopt a vegetarian diet. It’s not that I don’t like eating meat; it’s that I don’t like supporting the animal cruelty and environmental damage that is a direct result of the way that meat is currently produced in this country. I’ve always had trouble eating most meats anyway; if it reminded me at all of the animal it came from, I couldn’t eat it. Chicken on bones? No way. Veal? OMG! It’s a baby calf! Absolutely not. Venison? BAMBI!!! So, ground beef was about all I could handle, and chicken breasts, as long as it was in a sandwich and I didn’t have to actually cut it up myself. So I always had “rules” about the meat I ate. In March, I freed myself of those rules and stopped eating meat altogether. I’m actually adhering to a vegan diet at home, though when I eat out (rarely), I’m not yet eliminating breads (that likely contain some egg or dairy) or cheese. I may get there, I may not. We will see.

That brings us to the present month: April 2010. What’s next on this evolutionary path for me? Running.

You see, I have always wanted to run. For the past few months, I’ve been walking my local trails, and even started jogging some intervals, casually. My body wants to run. I don’t know why, but it always has – even though I’ve only once in my adult life gotten myself in good enough physical shape to actually accomplish it. (That was back in 2003, when I was running a mile on the treadmill regularly, for a year or so). After spending the past 4 months exercising regularly, I felt like this was as good a time as any to try running again.

I’m using the “Couch to 5K” running plan – one that has been adopted by several podcasts as a training plan. I’m currently in Week 2 of my training, using podcasts by Robert Ullrey. There’s another training set I’ve downloaded but haven’t tried – Podrunner Intervals.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m walking in a couple weeks in the Walk MS 2010 event, in support of a family member (and several friends of the family) that have multiple sclerosis. (If you haven’t yet, please consider sponsoring me in this walk! Donations are appreciated, and any amount will help! Check out my Walk MS page to donate online or for information on how to donate via snail mail).

In May, I plan to run/walk a 5K at Brookfield Zoo. That will be during Week 5 of my Couch to 5K training. I hope to be on target with my training at that point and have a great run (with some walking!)

Beyond May, I hope to find a local 5K towards the end of summer to achieve this lofty goal of mine – to run a 5K this year, fueled by a plant-based diet.

It’s a beautiful day to want it, and I’m feeling more alive than ever! How are you evolving?

Walk MS 2010

Donate online via my Walk MS 2010 page!

In 3 weeks, I will be walking in the Walk MS 2010 event for Team Kathy. We’re walking for my cousin’s wife’s mom, who has battled multiple sclerosis for years, and it greatly affects her everyday life. MS interrupts the flow of information between the brain and the body and eventually stops people from moving.

Every hour another person is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. For 20,000 people in Illinois and some 400,000 nationwide, that hour has already arrived.

It’s not easy to pinpoint the cause of multiple sclerosis and so far, the cure rests on continued research. This is why I am writing to you: I need your help, generosity and support! Donate to our team, or come walk with us!

As a participant in the Chicago South Suburbs Walk MS taking place on Sunday, May 2, 2010, I am raising money so the Greater Illinois Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society can continue to provide programs and services for Illinois families impacted by multiple sclerosis while funding vital research into the cause and cure of multiple sclerosis.

The Greater Illinois Chapter utilizes approximately 88% of every dollar raised to fund programs that actively help people with multiple sclerosis and their families, public and professional education and research. A portion of your donation will help fund more than 350 multiple sclerosis research projects.

Please consider making a tax-deductible donation on my behalf to help me reach my fundraising goal. No amount is too small!! Online donations can be made simply by clicking on the link at the bottom of this message. You can also send a donation made payable to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society to me, or print a donation form and mail it to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Every dollar makes a difference in leading the movement against multiple sclerosis.

Check out my personal page to learn why I’m walking in this great event on Sunday, May 2. You can even check on my fundraising progress, and if you’ve made a donation, look for your name scrolling in the fundraising honor roll. Your support is so important to me and to Kathy and to all those living with multiple sclerosis.

I truly appreciate your support and will keep you posted on my progress!

Thank you!

Donate online via my Walk MS 2010 page!

Welcome to Epic Organic!

Hello, and welcome to Epic Organic! I’ll be your host, and I am Shelly. As I write this, I’m a 35 year old Chicago native (brr!) living in the southwest suburbs.

I began 2010 with a few resolutions. Continue eating natural and organic whenever possible. Try 10 new foods this year. Learn to cook.

I recently realized the foods I bought off the shelves of my local supermarket and ate every day weren’t what I had assumed them to be – in fact, some weren’t actually foods at all, but more like chemical concoctions made to resemble food. As I dove deeper into researching the US food industry and food labels and ingredients, I discovered frightening facts about genetic engineering, hormones, antibiotics, cloning, and other things that, quite frankly, don’t sound like they should be anywhere near my food.