My "What I Eat
" series is a fun way to show my readers that you can get enough protein, fiber, and nutrients through a plant based diet. This "What I Eat" post features my dear friend, Crystal Herrick
. Crystal is a plant based and gluten free babe, a mother of two beautiful children, and an amazing cook! I hope you enjoy her post as much as I did. P.S. Aren’t her photos amazing?
Cabo San Lucas
Before I introduce myself, can we talk about how absolutely adorable Jenn is?
She truly is That Jenn Girl. Who isn’t talking about her escapades around the globe and wining and dining on vegan delicacies at some of the finest restaurants? Not to mention, that bod. Work hard, play hard! If you don’t get the pleasure of knowing this sweet girl in person, I feel for you! Her soul and her passion shine bright.
My name is Crystal, a 31-year-old gluten-free-living-plant-based-cooking-cancer-crushing-full-time-working-side-gig-health-coaching mama of two! Whew. I am tired just writing that. Is it naptime? Oh, wait. Moms don’t get naps.
Nice to meet you.
So how the heck did I get here?
Thirteen years ago I was dealing with some pretty unpredictable digestive issues that began to directly affect major parts of my life. I was really sick. What I didn’t realize was that I had been sick for a very long time, the better part of my entire life really.
Wasn’t it normal to live with stomach pain daily? Wasn’t it normal to feel incredibly bloated after every meal? Wasn’t it normal to only have a bowel movement (yes, I went there) every three or four days? Wasn’t it normal to drag around with brain fog and fatigue? No. It wasn’t. And it took dozens of doctor appointments, failed tests, wrong diagnosis and a job at a cupcake shop to figure that out.
Four years of misery later I finally found the answer to my health issues: gluten. I have Celiac Disease, an auto-immune disorder that makes my body think that gluten is a toxic invader and when it enters my system my body tries to attack it and destroys my gut lining along the way. Years of my poor little villi being beaten and bruised left my entire body feeling beaten and bruised. Just one week on a gluten free diet and I felt like a brand new person. The bloating, gone. The fog brain, gone. The major fatigue, gone. I felt like I could fly! Nine years later, (not without its challenges and frustrations, of course) I am happily living a well-fed gluten free life.
Did I mention that I love to bake?
Gluten Free Vegan Bread
Now, let’s get to the real juice here. The big C.
CANCER. It’s an icky word. So icky that sometimes we can’t even say it out loud. But let me tell you, avoiding the word won’t help you avoid getting it. Cancer is one of those super uncomfortable topics that we NEED to talk about. Just like bowel movements and animal cruelty. No, its not fun, but its crucial to our health, the health of those around us and even the health of our planet. The more you talk about it, the more comfortable you will get.
This is my journey with cancer in a tiny little baby nutshell:
I was diagnosed with cervical cancer in March of 2017, just days after giving birth to my second child, a precious baby boy. It was, by far, the worst day of my life. Over the next several months I endured surgery, chemotherapy, external radiation, internal radiation, many ER visits, outpatient procedures, blood transfusions and more. I can honestly say I hit rock bottom. It was a long and tough journey, but I like to believe that I was given this mountain to climb so that I could arrive to the place I am today.
Last day of treatment!
I have decided to take this curse and turn it into a blessing by pursuing a career as a Health & Wellness Consultant. I can take my love of nutrition and health and help others achieve their goals to find their happy. It’s an exciting endeavor and I am already so inspired by the clients I have connected with. I am studying at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition
, if you have ever considered pursuing a career in nutrition I highly recommend their program. It is, by far, the best decision I have ever made for my life.
On to the food! Having always been interested in nutrition and experiencing, first hand, that food can heal, I knew that I needed to overhaul my diet after my diagnosis. I didn’t want to give my cancer a fighting chance. I decided to cut out meat, dairy, eggs and refined sugar cold turkey.
Prior to my diagnosis I happily ate animal products and sugar daily, making the transition a little shocking to my system. I was constantly starving and running to the restroom because I was actually getting an adequate amount of fiber for the first time in my life. Once my body adjusted to the fiber intake and I stopped being so scared of carbs my body began to love me back.
I shed the baby weight in a matter of a couple of weeks, and it kept coming off. I felt amazing! Light and free, it was as if I finally figured out what my body really needed. Or didn’t need! Don’t get me wrong, I had cravings, mostly for sugar and cheese. Sugar scared me, so I satiated my sweet tooth with fresh fruit and dates. Cheese, I had a bite here and there, but I finally realized that my body just didn’t like it. It made me feel bloated and nauseous. Now, I choose to feel great. And you know what comes with feeling great? Looking great. Winning!
I do treat myself to quality seafood from time to time, as my body craves it, but I found the right balance for me and you can find the right balance for you.
BBQ Pulled Jackfruit Sandwich
So what the heck do I eat? SO MUCH DELICIOUS FOOD! I love to cook and get creative in the kitchen and honestly, that makes such a difference. I don’t restrict my calories, or even count calories for that matter. I eat when I’m hungry and enjoy what my body craves. Which is usually carbs, greens and lots of avocado.
My day looks a little bit like this: I love to enjoy my coffee slowly, first thing in the morning and follow it up with some hot black tea and lemon once I have had breakfast. Most days I eat avocado toast on the run, on the weekends I like to make big skillets of potatoes, beans and veggies. For lunch I like to focus on getting in a lot of raw food, avoiding the carb coma that inevitably puts me to sleep at my desk. I love big hearty dinners, often pasta, stir-fry, tacos, or fun dishes like homemade falafels, a veggie loaded pizza or that BBQ pulled pork sando. Dinner is my time to get creative, so I switch it up often.
Here is what I ate today!
Wakeup Call: Water and Coffee
Organic Coffee Co. French Roast
Better Half Creamer
- Calories: 15
- Carbs: 0
- Protein: 0
- Fiber: 0
Breakfast: Avocado Toast
Brown Seeded Bread
Applewood Smoked Sea Salt
Red Pepper Flakes
Cracked Black Pepper
- Calories: 361
- Carbs: 25
- Protein: 8
- Fiber: 10
Lunch: Kale Salad
Warm Shallot Vinaigrette
- Calories: 415
- Carbs: 44
- Protein: 11
- Fiber: 7
Dinner: Veggie Stir Fry with Rice Noodles
Homemade Stir Fry Sauce
Hot Chili Oil
- Calories: 425
- Carbs: 71
- Protein: 14
- Fiber: 11
Mid-Day Snack: Hummus with Crackers and Olives
- Calories: 250
- Carbs: 25
- Protein: 3
- Fiber: 4
Today’s nutrition totals: