Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Burrito bowl idea!!!


I want to share a lovely idea with you that I tried yesterday. If you have canned beans and rice (um, hello, staple food!) in your pantry, frozen corn in your freezer, avocados on your kitchen counter, and other burrito-like fixings, like tomato and cilantro and stuff, YOU'RE IN LUCK!

And if you don't... YOU'RE STILL IN LUCK! Because they are all ingredients that are easy to find. Score!!!

And.. come on, people... burrito bowls. Is that not good enough of a reason?

This is a recipe sketch. It's a very versatile kind of recipe, the kind where you can add things or take away things. But.. I highly recommend you try it like this:

Nat's Burrito Bowl Idea

* 2 cups Long-grain white rice (or other rice variety), cooked
* 1 can of your favorite beans, such as black or pinto
* salt, garlic powder, ground cumin, ground coriander, chile (to season beans)
* unlimited amounts of frozen sweet corn, thawed
* pico de gallo (bought or homemade)
* guacamole (bought or homemade)
* sour cream (I used tofutti with some lemon juice added to it)
* Other delicious add-ons of choice, such as Cholula hot sauce and/or hemp seeds

1) While the rice cooks, heat up the canned beans and add the seasonings. Optional: add some chile for a nice, flavorful kick.
2) Make your own pico de gallo by dicing tomatoes, 1-2 jalapeƱos - with some seeds if you want spice -, mincing 1 clove of garlic, squeezing a lemon, chopping cilantro, and adding some salt. OR if you're in a pinch, buy some already made and add a little extra cilantro to it. 
3) Easiest guac topping ever. Ready? Avocado, lemon, salt. Done. Put it on toast, dip things in it, eat with a spoon - but don't, because you need it for this recipe. 
4) Serve some rice in a bowl, add the beans on top, as much corn as you want, pico de gallo, guacamole, sour cream, and drizzle some hot sauce over the top if desired. Top with hemp seeds too. Why? Because hemp seeds. 

For me, this made about 3 servings plus a little extra. So, can potentially feed about 3 people with the amount of rice and beans I posted. But honestly, you can make as much as you want. It's the type of recipe that is perfect for feeding the family or your hungry friends - or both! 

Enjoy. Please give this idea a try and let me know what you think! 

Much love! I will be posting more recipes in the future. Feels good to be back here again. :)

~ Natalyn

Monday, December 21, 2015

What I've Decided

Hey friends!!! 

I've been receiving messages here and there from my readers, and I've also been talked to in person about my blog. To all of you beautiful people who have told me that my blog has been helpful, inspiring, and special to you: I just want to let you know that it means the world to me that you care. It means the world to me that amidst my own dietary struggles and questions and raw honesty, you have found something to take with you from this blog.

It's been WAAAAY too long since I've written in here. But I needed this time off, as I explained in my last post months ago. 

Tonight, Natalyn in the Raw popped in my head. Deep down inside, I knew: it's time. It's time to return to the blog. Time to continue what I started, and what I loved. 

I've wanted to go back to writing recipes and posting in here for some time, but I wanted to be sure of where I stand. I thought I had to have a perfect labeled lifestyle that people can grasp - that I could grasp... but here's what I've decided:

1. I've decided that, for me, eating whole, plant-based foods is best for MY body. 

Yup. After years and years of trying every diet and un-diet imaginable, after inspiring and worrying family and friends, after being on a yo-yo and a roller coaster for so long, wondering where I stood and what lifestyle I should support most. After years and years of never being consistent, and thinking that was wrong. After years and years of giving up foods and quickly returning to eating them ravenously. After years and years of this spiral of healthy and unhealthy thinking... After all this, I've realized that plants truly make me feel my best and my strongest. 

But here's what I've also decided:

2. I do not wish to ever FORBID myself of a food again.

Unless I'm allergic to it. Or unless it's against my religious beliefs. Or.. well, you get the idea. 

3. I no longer wish to blindly follow what everyone else says as TRUTH.

While it has made for great experiments, there's only so much more bad advice I can take and call truth before I go mad. From now on, I want to make informed decisions for me. My body deserves it. I shouldn't read anyone's blog and feel that what they're telling me is the ultimate truth. I've got the right to take that and test it/research it first to see if this really has something to it. Also, in the end, it's my body. Perhaps what they do works for them, and that's wonderful! But it's my choice to take what they say and apply it to me. It's also my choice to give some of these things a try anyway and see how my body handles it. But I should NEVER again think that just because it works for them it will work for me. Neither should you think that. Research. Watch documentaries. Be informed! 

4. I no longer wish to be under a label, even if the majority of it is wonderful.

Veganism is one of the most beautiful ideas I've ever encountered. However - let's make this short and simple - being strictly vegan - or strictly anything, for that matter - is not for me. Honestly, I sometimes wish to call myself a vegan, but the truth is, I'm not one; I do eat other things too, sometimes quite regularly, depending on my mood. I don't want to offend a vegan if they see me call myself one and then I post a picture of eggs or chicken teriyaki on Instagram. As it is, I try not to post too much of that anyway - but you get the idea, I think. 
For those people who are completely vegan - which by the way also means they wear vegan clothing (clothing not made of animal products), vegan cosmetics, etc. - it goes way beyond just food, and is all about caring for animals and the planet - You guys rock! I am a huge fan of anyone who can go all the way and give up all animal products and live such peace-driven lives! I admire you! I envy you! I wish I could be like you! 
So I strive. I do my best to eat more and more plants. I also believe in natural cosmetics because they are better for me. I try not to support leather, or fur, or even fake fur (I heard that stuff isn't so great for the environment). But unfortunately, I'm not perfect. I know you aren't perfect either - you just have a gift that I do not currently possess. Blessings to all the vegans for inspiring us to eat more plants! 

5. I'm no longer looking for the perfect balance, ratio, or lifestyle, because there isn't one.

What in the world do I mean by this? Well, truthfully, I've been obsessed about finding a perfect, cookie-cutter balance of healthy eating and exercise that I could put a finger on and call my own. 

All this time, I've been looking for the perfect way to explain what I eat, what I wear, how to love every single bit of exercise I do (or else I don't do it), how to have the perfect willpower, how to no longer make mistakes...

We do not live in a perfect world. Life changes, for the better, and sometimes for the worse. Plus, we are not perfect. I've come to realize quite recently that I will never get to the unrealistic goal I have set for myself. My body is changing and will continue to change. I must do my best to treat it right in the now. 

To some, it may look like I've found a balance. To others, maybe it looks like I'm far from finding it. 

But for the first time, I'm okay with not being perfect about my diet or exercise - or even my feelings toward my current lifestyle. 

I'm accepting that sometimes, life throws curveballs at me. It just means that I will need to throw a curveball back at life, think outside the box, pull myself up from my bootstraps, and move on. 

6. I'm going to try to no longer to worry about what people will think of me or what they will call me.

For all I know, I may mess up BAD after writing this post. Someone may see it. 
But you know what, people? Do yourselves a favor: Don't put a human on a pedestal, because they are bound to let you down that way. People are people - they make mistakes, I make mistakes, you make mistakes.. we all make mistakes. If you want to put someone on a pedestal, search with all your heart, and you will find the perfect One to put on a pedestal. I've found Him. Many know him as God, others call him Jesus. Well, He's kinda both. Anyway, He's amazing. More important than anything else in your lifestyle is your decision of whom you serve while living on this earth. 

7. I'm going to have fun!

This may be the hardest thing I'm trying to do. Countless times I've been so hard on myself. I've struggled SO much in these past few years and have not let myself truly enjoy the life I've been given. I've thought and said hurtful things about myself, and have deprived myself of so many good opportunities to see life in a happy light. It's time to have fun. Time to be a human being instead of a wannabe Goddess. Because guess what? I SUCK at being a Goddess. Unrealistic expectations for myself, and I would rather people not worship me. 
All jokes aside, I just want to have a good time discovering healthy living. And I need to accept that this journey to health never ends. Each day, each moment, each bite, each move I make, each thought I think - each one of these things is something that could move me forward or that I could mess up and learn from. I'm going to strive to move forward and enjoy doing it. And I'm going to strive to get up gracefully and cheerfully when I do fall. 

So, um, there you have it. My thoughts as of late. Comment if you relate, let me know your thoughts. Or just read this if you want. 

Much love and hugs,

~ Natalyn

Friday, August 7, 2015

My Label-free Journey: Exploration, The Struggle, + What I've Discovered So Far...

Hi friends!!

It's amazing where this label-free lifestyle journey is taking me. While I believe the vegan lifestyle is hands-down one of the most beautiful things I have ever encountered, my openness to try something else has also been a blessing. Sometimes I've fallen, and fallen hard. Other times I've opened up to a new discovery. And it's all making me grow.

It's hard though. It's hard not knowing what I call myself. Sometimes I'm tempted to go back, to be struggling once again to try for 100% raw or 100% vegan or gluten free or whatever else I can think of that will label me as a "healthy eater". I even think of calling myself "mostly vegan", just for the sake of having at least a little bit of the label. But I'm learning that life is not so much about cookie-cutter rules. It's about overall values and morals, YES. It's also about LOVE, and happiness. But for me, it's not about the cookie-cutter rules anymore. Just to be clear, the vegan diet was not what did this to me - I was the one. I would restrict myself to eat this way, and only this way. My body became so desperate that I began to eat more and more bad things, vegan and nonvegan. All of a sudden, it was no longer about health. It was about the label. So I'm done. I'm done with all these labels. It's time to begin a new foundation for myself.

I guess my reasoning is... I need to find what works best for my body's health and what also lets me be happy, and -yes, I'm going to say it - I WANT TO LIVE A LITTLE. There are people who live very different lifestyles from what I have been living, and somehow they look so happy, so radiant, and are the loveliest people, always giving to others. Perhaps what I've been trying to do in the past has not been inclusive of my overall happiness... perhaps my way is not the only way after all. 

As I write this, I am afraid, and I am vulnerable. But I want to share, because we are all human, and we all relate to each other. Perhaps to some people right now, I have failed. Well, that's fine. I'm learning I can't please everyone, and I shouldn't try to. But I really feel like I'm getting somewhere.

Real food. Real, local food. As self-sustainable as possible. From plants... and from animals, even. And the occasional, perhaps even sugary, indulgence - at this point in my life, "living a little" is pretty important to me.

Yes. I said it. I'm no longer professing to be a vegan, because if I did that, I would consider myself very two-faced. I would have two lives - a vegan one, and a non-vegan one. But I don't want that. I want to be real, I want to be one person, I want to be RAW in my clarity. So there you have it.

Well, that's all for today.

Here comes the next part, and it's a question I'm asking myself too:

What about the blog? 

Friends, I don't know. I don't. The thing is, I LOVE my blog, and have no desire to get rid of it. But I want my blog to update with me - usually that's what I do, I just update it. But because I've been exploring so much, making such radical changes, I'm afraid. I don't want to hurt anyone who's been inspired by this vegan lifestyle, but I really do want to change the blog as I go. Its a special place for me too.. Anyhow, I wish to pray about it.

When will there be more posts?

Another question I've been asking myself. I don't know. I think I'm going to give this some time. I may get rid of my Instagram again, just so that I can take this time to reassess, to reevaluate, and to grow without the pressure of everyone watching and analyzing.

So... goodbye for now. I'll miss writing in here, but I think to take the next few months off will be the right thing to do.

Much love,

~ Natalyn

P.S. While I'm no longer exclusively plant-based, I will FOREVER believe that fruits and vegetables are by FAR the best things you can give yourselves. Please feel free to come to the blog whenever, or email me with recipe questions, etc. I'll be more than happy to help.

P.S.S. I also do not wish to appear as if I am trying to put down vegans or the vegan lifestyle. They are wonderful people, with lovely beliefs, morals, values, etc., and their diet is what God initially intended for us.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

What Matters Most? + Who Do I Trust?

Hey friends!

Have you ever been in a situation where rules just don't apply? Or where the rules you've set for yourself just don't seem to give the better option? Where instead of feeling proud of yourself for following these set "rules", you simply just feel lost and longing. You question these rules... Have you ever felt that way?

I sure am. It isn't easy - but I've been trying something new: I have not been following these set rules. I'm beginning to try living a lifestyle without a general label pasted over it. Some people do wonderful with this method - this method of using a label to explain what they can or can't eat, or what the do or don't like. But I'm starting to realize that I just don't seem to work well with the label method.

The next few months are going to be interesting - experimental, for sure. These days have already been verrry interesting. And honestly, quite wonderful. I've made some mistakes, but I might also have made some groundbreaking discoveries for myself.

Diet-wise, I've been asking myself a lot lately, "What matters most?" Is it following the perfectly set, cookie-cutter rules no matter what? Or does following reason, logic, and simply listening to my own body matter more? I've tried the former, and I'm currently testing the latter. So far, the latter is winning.  
Ok, so here's the issue with the former, label-style way of eating. Maybe someone can relate. When I label my diet, I tend to overstress. I overstress because I'm always concerned about if I'm representing the label properly. I overstress because when I'm traveling, touring, or just performing for a day (which happens a lot as a student musician), I have to make a choice: 1) Eat the vegan thing, whether it's healthy or not, or 2) eat anything else, then feel immense guilt because I didn't follow my lifestyle. And this also happens a lot: When I force myself to stay vegan while traveling, I end up eating far worse, sometimes because of the limited resources available (some people and places just don't understand the word vegan), and mostly because I get so desperate to try something else that I eat the bad stuff. Or how about this? I simply crave other food.
My way of thinking is not the diet's fault - everyone knows the wondrous benefits of a plant-based lifestyle - no, it's simply my own mind, and the way I work. Which is why I need to try a new method, to see if I can find something that works better.

I only share this in hope that someone - anyone - who is going through a similar thing can relax and realize that someone else feels that way too. I'm tired of trying to be the perfect, wannabe nutrition-lover who bottles up her own problems and pretends everything is perfect. I'm also tired of trying to follow everyone else's dogma.

Honestly, it's getting more and more difficult to know what's truly healthy and what's not. Everyone says conflicting things. Eat the carbs, don't eat the carbs, eat the meat, don't touch the meat, Saturated fat is your friend, fat is the devil, fruit is good in unlimited quantities, fruit is bad in excess.

I became vegan for mostly ethical reasons. Those values have barely changed. But instead of labeling myself as vegan, I'm going to explore other food too, and I'm going to try and think of the big picture in a different way. I want to eat local. I want to eat mindfully, whatever that may mean for me.

So what matters most? Health. Happiness.

Who do I trust with my health? Whomever I personally choose to trust.

What am I? A human being, a child of God, a healthy eater, free of labels but full of purpose and value.

Let's see if this works out...

~ Natalyn

P.S. Plants are still delicious ;)

Saturday, July 11, 2015

My struggle and my confession

Hey everyone,


You know those times where you say one thing but then you do another thing? The times where you're human and make mistakes even after you've claimed to have found the true way of doing things? Those times where you know very deeply... that you messed up.

Well, I just want to let you know you're not alone. And you're not perfect - no one is. Just because you get good at something doesn't mean you won't mess up from time to time - or maybe even a lot.

Let me tell you something about my health journey - it's far from flawless. I'm going to come clean to you right now -

... This is going to be interesting...

I love donuts. donuts. Ok? When I get tempted enough to eat three one, I hear all the facts in my mind - the years that I've spent researching that the oils and the sugars do not go together, that they kill the body, that they destroy us. Then I taste it, and for a generous amount of time, I feel amazing as each morsel of that sugary dream goes into my body. I feel hyper, and happy, and like nothing can stop me. I question everything - I question my plant-based lifestyle, I question my entire view of health, I question everything. Why am I trying so hard? Can't I treat myself every now and then? All these questions in my mind... But then, the next part always comes. This feeling in my gut - that feeling that something is wrong. Not really a stomach ache. Trying to avoid it, I stuff another donut down my throat. Then, if I'm still "hungry", I use that as an excuse and go for my third donut. For a while, all is well. In fact, I don't feel any sort of "punishment". The next day (or the next meal, perhaps), I go back to my healthy staples, still enjoying them thoroughly, when all of a sudden, the real disaster strikes. Fatigue. Stomach problems. Minor discomfort (sometimes major). Then I ask myself, "what happened?" Then I tell myself "It won't happen again". And then... I do it again. Guilt free, sometimes. This happens every now and then with donuts. And it happens every now and then with other things too.

So what does this mean? Am I a failure?

The old me would say yes. I'm challenging myself today to say no. I'm not a failure. I'm a human being, made by my Creator. I am beautifully and wonderfully made. I wasn't made to fail. I was made to succeed.

Will I eat another donut? Honestly, I don't know. I'm at a point in my health journey where I know so much, but my will is not always very strong. I'm opening up today because I realized that people don't need to hear another person telling everyone else how they eat and how they succeeded and how their lifestyle will fit anyone else's. That is great for some people, it is. Some of us need that - I did. But someone like me would also like to hear from a person who is struggling too, who is finding her way. Someone like me who dreams of a community of people who look out for each other and who have every intention of treating their body right, but are struggling to for various reasons. Someone who would completely understand when someone told them "being healthy is HARD!". Because you know what? It is.

Friends, we are human. We will mess up. But we must remind ourselves that our intentions are good - we want to treat our bodies right. We want to give them the very best. Let's not give up, and let's not think we're failing. For once, let's treat our bad mistakes with kindness instead of punishment. The consequences already happen to our bodies - we don't need our minds to turn against us too. We need to believe in ourselves more - these beautiful bodies our Creator gave us. Our bodies are capable of so much more than we realize.

"I am not a failure."

Have a beautiful week, everyone. :)

~ Natalyn

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Why your body deserves the best, right now + some new tips I've learned

You have one body. That's it. It is created to be strong, to do great things, to be kind and compassionate, to be radiant and full of life.

And yet when you look at the average person, there seems to be a different story. The average person, I've found, is actually pretty exhausted. When I'm at the university - well, actually, when I'm practically anywhere - the most common answer I get when I ask someone how they are doing is "Yeah, I'm good". And the next common answer I get is "Oh, I'm ok... just tired."

I, too, am one who struggles to find a balance in a time and place where stress and unhealthy habits are constantly promoted around us - but here's what I've learned: 1) Your overall health needs to be a priority in your life. Health matters NOW. 

And here's the reality: No one else is going to do it for you. We are in a nation - in a world - where money is mattering more than well being and all things good. We can't rely on the government for health, nor can we rely on our friends or family. They can help, but in the end, you are the one who makes the decisions for yourself... so we can't rely on anyone but ourselves. Why? Because it's your body, not theirs.

Why should you care for yourself? Well, personally, my answer would be twofold: your body is a gift to you from God, and you should honor him with it. But the the second part of the answer is a question to you:

Are you surviving or are you thriving? 

Let me tell you right now, it should be very clear in your mind where you stand - there is no in between. If you're on the fence and just feel pretty good, you're still just surviving and have not seen the level of health your body can have. I'm not just talking about food, I'm also talking about your mental, emotional, environmental, spiritual, and physical health. You need to acknowledge and tend to all of those to know what I'm talking about right now.

Ok, so what can you do to take steps now to becoming healthier?

1) Educate yourself. Look at the other blogs in my blogroll - read their stories. Learn about this lifestyle that more and more people keep talking about. Personal testimony, in my opinion, is one of the strongest sources of evidence. For a better understanding of the lifestyle, watch Forks Over Knives or a raw food documentary on Youtube. You will learn all about the foods that our bodies are really craving because of their nutrients and because of the way they digest in the body.
2) Start with the diet. That's how I started. Yep. Just with the way I ate. I still remember, after watching Forks Over Knives in 2012, the days of bliss I experienced after years and years living in a cloud of self-hatred and less-than-mediocre health.
Here's a fun tip, and it doesn't involve buying a bunch of raw chocolate, special superfood powders, or the like: Start with your favorite fruit. Don't have a favorite? Experiment. Replace your everyday breakfast with fruit. Here's a lovely example:

Concerned about price? I know, those berries can be dang expensive!!... No worries, you could just eat as much as you want of one fruit. I know it sounds too simple.... and it is. And you know what? Simple has never felt so good. Our bodies crave simplicity. These words are coming from me, the girl you has loved making fancy recipes from day one. But my body feels better than ever before, ever since I have simplified the way I eat. Give it a try. Just eat fruit, and don't be afraid about calories.

3) Get friends and family involved. People you care about, who want you to succeed. Most likely, they'll be stoked you want to be healthier and happier. If your circle of family or friends isn't supportive (which can be possible at first), don't stop there. Go on Youtube, and have a virtual community. Subscribe to channels that will inspire you. Some channels that inspire me are Megan Elizabeth's Easy to Be Raw (just type in her name or Easy to Be Raw), FullyRaw Kristina, and Forty Below Fruity. If you find that you like another healthy lifestyle, I bet you there's Youtube videos on that one too. I used to be into the Maker's Diet, and then Weston A. Price diet, and there are people who have stuck with that and seem to be thriving. But try the fruity channels I recommended first - they're pretty awesome ;)

4) Have a clear purpose in your mind. You should know why you want to be healthier. You will find throughout the days, months, and years that this list may grow or shrink. It may start off with the simple desire to lose (or gain) some weight, and later on you may find that you have a desire to live in a way that helps the planet and all its inhabitants (yes, it's possible to eat an earth-friendly diet!). That's just one example, but do it now. Make a list. Pray about it, perhaps. How about 5 reasons? What are 5 reasons why you want to live a healthier lifestyle?

5) Have fun, don't be hard on yourself, and don't feel alone! Another thing I've learned in my health journey is that I am most definitely not alone in my journey. Lots of people are trying to be healthier. I used to be super hard on myself when I made a dietary "mistake" or when I didn't put my health first. That caused me more stress in the end, because I was so obsessed with being perfect. Here's the truth: Nobody is perfect. The people who look and act "perfect" make mistakes too. Aim for overall happiness, and focus more on listening to your body. If it's asking you to stop eating a food, stop eating it. If it's telling you an exercise is too hard and is hurting you, then please stop and either slow it down or find another exercise that will give you joy rather than pain.

If you're reading this and crying, laughing with joy, or just realizing that you want to make some changes because your desperate at this point, let me just tell you these words again: You are not alone. Your health is a high priority in your life, and there's nothing wrong with that. Your body deserves the very best you can give it, and that can start now. 

Stop surviving and start thriving. :)

Much love,

~ Natalyn