For the Love of Cheese!

My love of cheese was the hardest thing to give up during my change of diet. However, I found comfort in these new cheeses:

1.) “CHAO” Field Roast-this company makes 3 different types of cheeses as you can see from the photo below. My husband is a fan of the Tomato Cayenne slices it because it has a little kick at the end. I’m a fan of the Creamy Original because I love grilled cheeses. These cheeses are found at “DeCicco’s”, “Mrs. Green’s” “Trader Joes” or any other health food market around and are usually kept in the Vegan section or fridge. These cheese slices cost around $5 and are all Non-GMO and Non-Dairy. I give these cheeses a 5 star rating.


2.) “Follow Your Heart”– This company makes cheese alternatives, spreads, dressings, and vegenaise. They’re cheeses come in slices and blocks too. I am a huge fan of their shredded Parmesan cheese and they’re mozzarella. When I first picked up the shredded parmesan my heart jumped for joy because I used to go to the fridge and just eat shredded parmesan straight out of the container. This Parmesan tastes just like the regular one. Now, when I saw the mozzarella there, I had mixed feelings because in my head I thought “how could anything really resemble mozzarella?” but the other night I cut up some pieces, sliced up some tomato and basil and bam it was amazing! I have yet to try their slices but they have so many different cheeses I’m sure I’ll have plenty of time.


3.) “Go Veggie”– I found this cheese when I was planning a trip to the beach… Yes, the beach. I like to take cheese and crackers with me to the beach or really anywhere I go if I can. This company has slices which are perfect for burgers, sloppy joes, and grilled cheeses, they also have a grated parmesan cheese option for your spaghetti and the best thing is their individually wrapped serving of cheese, perfect for the beach, pool or just snacking on. They also have shredded cheeses which are pretty amazing also!


4.) “Daiya”– Cream Cheese!!! Because who doesn’t enjoy a nice toasted bagel with cream cheese in the morning?! This cream cheese is so good and if the husband is a fan of it then I know it’s a winner in our house!  It’s soy free, casein free and lactose free! 90 Calories and Cholesterol Free. Now I’m a plain type of girl but they also have Chive & Onion, and Strawberry flavors. Daiya also offers, shredded cheeses, cheese blocks, pizzas, Yogurts, Cheesecake, salad dressings and they even boxed mac and cheese.



As you can see I haven’t really experimented too much in this department mainly because I found what I loved and kind of just stuck with those products for the moment. My next entry (on Monday) will be on meats and eggs because I can’t live without those either. I hope this was helpful!




The Big Change

The day finally came when something snapped in me. I was sitting on the couch at home late at night looking for something to watch since Orange is the New Black was done. I was scrolling and then I saw it “What the Health?” a documentary about food. I was nervous when I first clicked on the play button. “Will I regret this in the morning?, will I even really care? Will I run to the deli in the morning and order an egg and cheese on roll without really even thinking twice?”

So, I watched it.. All… Even the gross parts with my eyes open. Needless to say, I woke up the next morning, opened my fridge looked at it and saw, eggs, chicken, turkey bacon, and a boatload of cheese… and thought, “this is it! I have to cut all this out of my diet.” I started this journey of weeding out (slowly) all the dairy out of my diet because I knew that I wasn’t supposed to be eating it to begin with (according to my doctor). It was not an easy task and my husband wasn’t too thrilled to say the least. I started doing a plant-based diet that week to see how I felt, this was more of a “trial period” for me. I’m not a fan of “trending diets, or fads” so I didn’t want to seem like one of those people.

First thing I noticed, I wasn’t using my rescue inhaler as much as I was before. Second thing I noticed, I wasn’t in a “fog” at work and wasn’t sluggish during the day it was quite the opposite I felt like how I used to feel when I played sports. My husband who is my support system and always pushes me also felt the same way and when he said that, I knew I was on to something. The third thing I noticed was my face clearing up from the acne that my PCOS also contributes. I was hooked.

We started the transition to Vegan… I never in a million years thought I would EVER say “excuse me sir, do you have anything that’s vegan on your menu?” I prepared myself for the looks, the comments and the “oh is this another one of those diets to lose weight?” from friends and family. I prepared myself to give some answers. My first experience, my mother-in-laws birthday party… Steaks and chicken on the grill, hot dogs, cheese.. the works! Naturally, my husband was still slowly transitioning and so was I, I opted for bean tacos with no cheese, and when I got the question “you don’t want a piece of steak? or chicken?” “Not even cheese? It’s your favorite!” I answered with an excuse “No thank you, I’m not feeling so great and just want some beans to hold me off for now.” I suck I thought to myself.

Lucky for me my sister in law was also trying to stay away from dairy, poultry and meat so I didn’t feel so awkward. Later on, I faced my mother and had to tell her that I was trying to change my diet and her response “well, when did this happen? and why?” as she ate her salmon. My response “I have to do this for me and my health and I’m already feeling better.” My sister, at least she sort of understands it and replied with the best answer to my mother at the table “Because Mom! It’s not vegan or gluten-free!” I love her for being so blunt.

So, here I am 2 months in I’ve gone to BBQ’s, the beach, birthday parties and a baby shower and I’ve survived! I’ve done A LOT of research, read plenty of articles and made a commitment to myself to keep going. It’s hard and I’ve thought plenty of times it’s stupid, it’s too hard, or it’s pointless… but the truth is, you have to work hard at things in order to succeed and see the benefits. Now that I’ve bored you with my background I will share some recipes and some products that have helped our transition into veganism a little bit easier to deal with.

Sick Steph

My story begins innocently enough with a trip to my pulmonologist for my annual “I can’t breathe” check up. We do the tests for my lungs to see what my lungs are doing, or should I say what my lungs are not doing. She sits me on the table and asks what’s been going on, I proceed to tell her my usual “well doc, I seem to be short of breath and sometimes feel as if I get no oxygen in my lungs. It’s worse at night and I wake up coughing or having the feeling as if someone is strangling me.” She brings me to her office and gives me a LIST of medicines. Allergy medicine, an everyday inhaler which has steroids, a rescue inhaler and some pills that are supposed to help my throat because every time I cough stomach acid ends up in the throat? She took some blood to run some tests and said to call her if I feel worse on Monday.

As I left the doctors office, I sat in my Jeep and thought to myself “damn Steph, what happened to you?! You never needed any of this! You were a star athlete and in really good shape… Get your shit together you’re not even 30 yet!” My next move was to call my husband, “How’d it go babe? Are you ok? What did the doctor say?” I answered as I drove down the street to pick up my endless supply of pills. Standing in line, I again started to reflect because that’s what I do, I overthink things, I analyze every little thing to exhaustion. Something needed to give, but what?

Enter 30 year old Steph now to the picture, after an incredible and unforgettable trip to Cuba I came back with a totally changed view of everything. I mean EVERYTHING! Life, people, food, work, the car I drove, the House I lived in, the toilet paper I was so easily able to get. I started to think of how precious everything we have in life is and how I really didn’t even notice it. Still, holding dearly to my inhaler and at this point keeping one in my Jeep and one on my nightstand. I got a call, from my doctor. “Steph, I need you to come in if you can to go over your blood work if you can.” I couldn’t so she read them to me over the phone.

My cholesterol was all over the place too high for my age, my sugar was insanely high and in her words, “Steph, you are .2 mg/dl away from diabetes, I’m going to need you to get some exercise,” Also, I’ve never seen vitamin D levels this low before I’m prescribing you some vitamin D pills to get them back up. “I need you to really try and lose a little weight.” For those that don’t know, I have PCOS and bad… If you want to have a baby it’s a little trickier and complicated than just getting knocked up. PCOS contributes to weight gain, diabetes and a whole bunch of other issues. My doctor was concerned for my well being especially because I’m so young.

I hung up the phone and broke down. If there’s one thing you have to know about me is I never weighed more than 120 lbs. all my life. I got married at 23 and that’s what I weighed. I always played sports and tried to eat a health balanced meal. My family always called me “flaca” which in spanish means skinny. So, here we go. I weighed in at 160 lbs. I had gained 40 lbs in 7 years! I couldn’t believe this was me. My health was no longer good and I knew it but I guess I needed a reality check. I loved my cheeses, all kinds, it didn’t matter to me as long as there was cheese I was happy… I loved my burgers, tacos, mac and cheese, all the “normal” comfort foods and then some. This put some things in perspective though. If I wanted to be healthier and fit back into my jeans or even have a kid at some point I needed to change. Yes, IVF is in my back pocket but it’s science and feels so cold… So this blog is about my journey to a healthier life and also a way to vent my frustrations.