Week 1

It’s been a week since I arrived back home from True North.  While I’ve been saying that it’s been challenging, the only true thing that’s been a challenge is the “outside” world.  Eating out has become a challenge and in reality that is a good thing!   Yes, I’m having to modify some of the recipes and things that we eat at home and that’s not too difficult.  Remove a 1/4 tsp of salt, or more, from some recipes… not a big thing.  We already weren’t cooking with oil, for the past year or so, so that hasn’t been an issue removing.  I also hadn’t been using sugar much either, so again, not an issue.  I have changed my perspective on things in the past few days.  Where I was thinking of this as a huge challenge when I initially got home it’s actually turning into a blessing in disguise.  We save a lot of money by not eating out and I get to keep us healthier in the process.  Win-win!  Yes, there will be times that we will want/need to eat out.  Because 95%, or more, of our lifestyle will be in line with keeping us healthy, that 5% or less of not-so-healthy eating I won’t fret over.  Granted, we won’t be going out and grabbing a steak tomorrow (seriously… the thought of that actually makes me sick to my stomach) or a big ol’ hunk of cheese but the not-so-healthy “healthy” food isn’t going to matter because the majority of the time we will be doing what we need/want to do to keep us healthy.

Speaking of saving money and keeping us healthy…we made our own vegetable broth this week!  What we do is we keep a storage bag in the refrigerator and when we have vegetable scraps; carrot peelings, potato peelings, broccoli or cauliflower stems, etc., we throw them in the bag.  At the end of the week we throw everything in my InstantPot pressure cooker (I LOVE this thing!!!  more on that at a later) with a bunch of water and whatever seasonings we want and let it cook for about 20-30 minutes on the “soup” setting.  After it’s done I pour it through a fine mesh strainer and VOILA – vegetable broth with no salt, preservatives or other crap!  It will keep in the refrigerator for 3 days, in the freezer for 6 months.

I have no affiliation with the InstantPot people and will make no money, unfortunately!, from this raving endorsement!  I LOVE my InstantPot!  You can find one on Amazon (sales come around every so often so watch the prices if you’re going to buy one) There are 2 or 3 different models.  One you can even make your own yogurt in (on my wish list!  Read the labels on your yogurt people…especially the sugar content!).  The InstantPot is a pressure cooker.  I can cook my dried beans, without soaking them, in less than an hour.  I can make what would be an equivalent of about 4 cans of beans for 2 cups of dried beans.  Organic, no salt, beans for about $1 versus $4 and up if I were to buy them in a can.  Again, saves me money and health…win-win!!!!  I also make steel cut oatmeal in my InstantPot.  For those of you who have any experience with traditional steel cut oatmeal it takes quite a bit of time to cook steel cut oatmeal the traditional way.  I just throw it in the InstantPot with a cinnamon stick and a vanilla bean, some water and some non-dairy milk and a few minutes later – YUM!!!  I can also make soup, steam vegetables, and lots of other things!  It is truly the one kitchen appliance that I would grab if my house were to catch on fire (choi – my sister and family will know why I put that here).  I love it more than my Blendtec blender or well….maybe there would be two I would grab.  I also LOVE my baby Ninja chopper.  I can dice onions in about 10 seconds.  I LOVE that little thing as well.  So, there would be 2 things I would grab…my InstantPot and my Ninja chopper!

Recipe  – Overnight oatmeal

Jay and I LOVED this when we had it twice this week.  Abbey didn’t care for the consistency.  I may try again to modify the oats in it to get the texture right for her.


1/2 cup – 3/4 cup of rolled oats or quick cooking steel cut oats (we haven’t tried the steel cut oats yet but will be soon) – can be made gluten free if you have gluten free oats.

3/4 cup unsweetened non-dairy milk

1/2-1t of cinnamon depending on how much you like cinnamon

1T of dried fruit of your choice (unsweetened and sulphur-free.  I like dates because of the sweetness they add) – optional

1T chopped walnuts – optional but yummy

Berries of your choice (we prefer wild blueberries) – or any fruit really of your choice, bananas, mango, peaches…the options are abundant!

The night before you want to have this for breakfast, add the oats, non-dairy milk, cinnamon and dried fruit, if you are using, into a glass jar of some sort.  Shake till mixed well. Put it into the refrigerator overnight.  In the morning, mix in your walnuts and fruit.  ENJOY!!!!  Yes, there is NO cooking!!!!  This is a refreshing way to start your morning, especially in the summer months when you don’t feel like warm anything.  Jay and I were surprised at how much we enjoyed eating this.  We also may end up quadrupling the batch because, while this is a good breakfast, we found that we were hungry again too early in the day.  We’re also going to try the steel cut oats as they have a heartier “bite” to them and a different taste and consistency.

Have an OUTSTANDING weekend and remember, on Monday in the United States,  to pay respect to those who made the ultimate sacrifice for this country and it’s people.






As I had prepared to enter the “real” world, I figured that I had this.  I was in the “real” world before I entered True North and I would just be going back to that same world.  That is a correct statement.  What I hadn’t planned on was that the person who went into True North would not be the same person who came out.  I am now much more conscious of the “food” that surrounds us and bombards us.  I put “food” in quotation marks because I consider most of the the products we take as food aren’t food at all.  Yes, they may fill the emptiness in your stomach and yet at the same time they are depriving your body of nutrients and, in my opinion, soul.  On my first day back I had a lot of running around to do.  So, Jay and I stopped at a chain restaurant that has a soup and salad bar combination.  Organic vegetarian vegetable soup…what could be wrong with that?  Boy, was I in for a HUGE shock.  I took one spoon full and almost spit it back out.  It was SO salty!!!  We are presented with guidelines, at True North, for reading labels.  Sodium should be equal to or less than the calories per serving.  So, I decided, just now, to see how much sodium was in that cup of soup.  (Some restaurants actually do put their nutrition facts online)  Calories: 110 (not bad); Calories from fat: 45 (ouch…per our guidelines that shouldn’t have been more than 22); 5g fat (no saturated or trans fat); Sodium: 550mg!!!!!  5 times as much as my guidelines.  I could have had a bag of chips for less sodium!  This has lead me to the conclusion that I am going to have to be much more conscious of what I’m eating when I go out and that we will be doing a whole lot less eating out!  (which is a good thing given my current state of unemployment!)  My ask of you today is that you start making small changes, baby steps, to improving your health and wellbeing.  Take a walk, or an extra walk if you already are walking.  Make a meal at home using no added salt, sugar or oil.  (Yes, it can be done!  Recipe below)  Turn off your TV and have dinner at your dining/kitchen table.  Look at yourself in the mirror and tell yourself that you’re beautiful!

Another thing that is new to me is having the opportunity to reinvent myself.  I haven’t had to look for a job in over 20 years!  I am fairly confident that I don’t want to go back into corporate America.  It will have to take a really unique outstanding position for me to do that.  Either that or we’ll run out of money and I won’t have a choice!  I’m hoping it won’t come to that.  Frankly, I’d rather go down the road and work at the new grocery store, in the produce section of course!, than go back into corporate America.  The lack of integrity in most companies is disturbing to my soul.  I’m looking into becoming a master engraver!  My father is a licensed firearms dealer and occasionally sends guns out to be engraved.  The gentleman that he currently uses has a 12-18 month waiting list!!!!!  This man also wants to retire at some point and hand engravers are getting hard to come by.  I actually read an article the other day that said a lot of the “trade” jobs are seeing a decline in the number of people that are qualified to do those jobs: welders, electricians, plumbers, etc.  I thought about welding too.  Don’t get me wrong, I am still confident that my photography business is going to take off as well!  I am, I believe, days away from seeing my website ready for sales!  It would be nice if I could do a few things that would prevent me from getting bored with one thing and would also add to the income.

Here’s to new adventures on many levels!!!!

Basic Burger Recipe:

1 can kidney beans (drained)

1/2 cup rolled oats

1/2 cup cooked brown rice

2T chopped tomatoes

1T No salt seasoning of your choice

In a large mixing bowl, mash the beans by hand till there are some pieces but mostly mashed.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Flatten the mixture into the bowl and divide into quarters.  Take each quarter out and make it into a patty (size and thickness of your desire).  Place the patties on a plate and put them, uncovered, into the refrigerator for 10 minutes.  Heat a non-stick skillet over 3/4 high heat for a few minutes (till water “dances” over the surface).  Cook each of the patties for 2-3 minutes on each side, placing a lid over the patties while they cook.

Voila!  That’s it.  Serve with lettuce, tomatoes, avocado, etc.  If you want a bun or bread, look for one with the lowest sodium and the highest fiber (whole grain).  You can try different beans and different spices to make different types of burgers.  I will add more of those types in the future.  Enjoy!!!! I would love to know what baby step you took today to improve your health and well-being.  Please post in the comments section on the blog or Facebook.



Day 1…of the rest of my life

As I sit in San Francisco Airport watching everyone eat their S.A.D (standard American diet) food, I’m reminded of how challenging it will be to eat in the “real” world. I’m also grateful that Chef Bravo and his staff packed me this HUGE doggie bag full of food so that I don’t have to figure out what to eat as I travel today. I didn’t want to mess up all the hard work I’ve done in the past 3 weeks!  You should have seen the looks of my fellow travelers as I unpacked my food!!!  😂😂😂  (you’ll know why when you look at the picture!)

My husband and daughters are rock stars!  They’ve already bought new glass storage containers and have prepped all kinds of vegetables. My doctor suggested that we set up a salad bar, of sorts, in our refrigerator. When I get home, I will cook some beans/lentils so they can go into our salad bar as well.  I will also be making all kinds of SOS (salt, oil, sugar) free salad dressings. I am ready for the opportunity to make this way of eating a habit and lifestyle!  

I’ve been told that my full energy level will probably not be back to “normal” levels for about 2 months (yes, I know Lindley, limiting belief!)  I have learned to listen to my body more, since I’ve been gone, and will continue to do so without expectations (thank you Wynne!) of when my energy levels return to normal. Actually it wasn’t too good when I left so any improvement will be noticed, as it already has!  

Time to find some water!

Have an OUTSTANDING day!!!

Day 19

My last day at True North!  It’s been an amazing experience. One that I hope to never have to repeat. If I did, I would definitely return here. I learned so much and met some wonderful people. My biggest accomplishment, by far, was being cured of my type 2 diabetes. CURED!!!  No more medication!  All this while eating carbs!  Fruit, potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, etc. Speaking of food. I’ve included pictures of my lunch and dinner from today as well as the food I have for tomorrow. The larger brown object, in my lunch picture, is a sweet potato I put too much cinnamon on 😛

I thought I would give some suggestions for anyone who would like anymore information on the health benefits of eating a whole foods plant-based diet:

The movie “Forks Over Knives” – it’s on Netflix

The movie “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead” – I believe this is also on Netflix. This is a documentary by a gentleman who used juicing to get himself back to health. 

The websites: nutritionfacts.org and pcrm.org

I would also be happy, and would love, to answer any questions you might have about this way of eating and/or my experience. 


Dinner: (white sweet potato on the right side of the plate. So yummy!)

Hmmmm for some reason it won’t let me post another picture so I’ll leave you with these 2 till tomorrow!

Cab comes tomorrow at 5:30am so headed to bed early tonight!  

Day 18 Happiness is…

Happiness is having the doctor, doing rounds this morning, say to you “Welcome to being one of our success stories!” as I worried about my blood sugar being a little higher than it has been in the past few days. He said to me “Some diabetics we see here have their blood sugar jump up to 160 or 180 when they start re-eating. You’re good!”  

Happiness is being able to tell that nasty disease good-bye once and for all!

Happiness is being an inspiration to others on their own journeys. I talked with a woman yesterday, who happens to be a doctor herself, as I was walking in the courtyard after lunch. She told me that she sees me out there walking all the time and says to herself “you need to get out there and walk like Shannon”.  So, that’s what she was doing. 

Happiness is having met a great bunch of people, who like me, are sometimes struggling to figure out their own journey’s and are finding the end of numerous diseases as we walked this part of the journey together. 

Happiness is a hot day which is causing everyone to take a day of relaxation and rest. 

Happiness is not having to find something to eat in the airports as the chef is making me a “to go” bag with breakfast, lunch and dinner!  

Happiness is learning valuable information that I can share with anyone who wants to listen. 

Happiness is getting to see my family again in 48 hours!  I know I was supposed to be here. I also know that I miss my family and can’t wait to give them big hugs!

Happiness is being abundantly grateful to my mom, my sister and my anonymous donor who gave me the financial ability to be here!  I am also abundantly grateful for their love and support!

Happiness is knowing that I have made a great start on my new journey!  The best is yet to come!

Day 17

Rest day. While I am proud of what I accomplished yesterday, I needed to relax today. That walk in almost 80 degree heat took a lot out of me. I have decided to stop posting my vitals as they really aren’t changing more than a point or two from day to day for the last two days. My blood pressure, blood sugar and weight seem to have all found a happy place. The weight will continue to come off as I fix my lifestyle at home. My body does not appear to be the kind that drops weight real fast. And that’s ok. Because, as I’ve experienced while I’ve been here, it also doesn’t add it back on fast either. Some people have gained 3 or more pounds when they started re-feeding. I barely gained a pound. 

I’m feeling kind of “lost” today as most of my fasting family has now departed. I am a firm believer that everyone comes into your life for a reason. They are there to teach you something. So, I am reflecting on what each of these people have taught me while I’ve been here. The number one take away is that I am extremely thankful to be going home to a supportive environment!  Jay has already started cooking recipes from the new cookbook I sent home. Some of these people are going home to spouses, family and friends that don’t support their lifestyle change. I can’t even imagine how hard that would be. I wonder if that’s why some of them end up coming back more than one time. 

The other take away is that some people can become almost fanatical and very black and white. Life isn’t black and white. I refuse to guilt or shame myself because I had a square of dark chocolate once a week or a glass of wine. Where you run into trouble is when it’s a “trigger” food, where you can’t stop eating it (mine is pizza) or when you’re eating it on a daily basis. I will do everything I can to stay on the “straight and narrow” as much as possible. And, yet, at the same time I won’t be one of those people that beat themselves up for allowing something in their diet, on a rare occasion, that shouldn’t be. I won’t eat meat of any kind, not because I’m being black and white about it but, because the thought of it makes me physically ill. I avoid the butcher area of the grocery store on purpose because the smell makes me gag. 

I would also like to encourage everyone reading this to try new fruits, vegetables and grains!  I had prickly pear, for the first time, here and love it!  Go into your grocery store once a week and pick out something you’ve never had before or that you thought you didn’t like. Give it a shot!  You’d be amazed at how many people here started out saying “I don’t like..” or”I would never eat…” and end up liking, and sometimes loving, the food!  I still don’t like Lima beans!  Beets are amazing!  Steamed greens are so yummy especially with some lemon squeezed over them or drizzled with some baslamic vinegar!  How about being really daring and trying rambuhtan (it’s a fruit). How about quinoa?  Quinoa is super easy to make and tastes great. The choices are almost endless. Also, if you have children, have them try it too!  My daughters LOVE mango!  (Who am I kidding, we all love mango!  They don’t last long in our house!). The other thing I would like to encourage you to do is try out meatless Monday’s. One day a week don’t eat meat (this includes chicken and fish). Discover the amazing recipes, that are all over the Internet, for meatless meals. If you need any suggestions please let me know.  Take a baby step in getting healthier!  

I wish for you a lifetime of health, joy and love!

Day 16 part 2

Adventure day!  After a mindful breakfast of oatmeal with berries and bananas I took a stroll through the Santa Rosa Rural Cemetary. Wow!  What an unbelievable place. It is very overgrown and is full of gravestones for people who, primarily, died in the mid to late 1800’s. I found the tree, shown below, with the gate or some sort of iron work in it. The tree just grew around the metal. It was quite an interesting thing to see. After my walk I came back and relaxed a little before lunch of lasagna and wild mushroom soup. The lasagna was so good!  The soup was good too I just thought it needed something…onion maybe?  Anyway, after lunch I decided to be brave and walk the 1.2 miles downtown to the spice shop. According to the staff, this spice shop has the freshest spices around and they have quite an assortment of salt free blends. So off I went, down Macdonald street which has a wonderful array of beautiful homes and the biggest eucalyptus tree I’ve ever seen!  If anyone has seen the movie “Pollyana” I guess the house below, behind the gate, was used in the movie. The other home just caught my eye because of the beautiful tile work. 

I made it to the spice shop and was able to try a number of their salt free blends and pick out a few to take home. Fairly reasonable prices I thought. (savoryspices.com)  After I was done I called the cab company to take me back. I wasn’t sure I was up for another mile hike back. Well, the Universe had different plans because the wait for a cab was 40 minutes. It would only take me about 25 to get back on foot. So, once again, off I went. Thankfully I had grabbed a water bottle before I left. I made it about 3/4 of the way back when I started to get pretty worn out and hot. It was a sunny beautiful day and I focused on the scenery around me as I started to struggle to get back. Phew!!  I made it!  I had to remind myself that this was just my 4th day of eating after a 12 day fast. Of course I was tired!  I went back to my room, got a big glass of cold water, two ice packs, laid down on my bed and put my feet up on the wall. My feet were on the larger ice pack and I had the smaller one on my back. I think I’m going to sleep well tonight!!!

Eating went better today. I had breakfast, for the most part, by myself. Lunch and dinner were spent with my friends here and I was still mindful of how and what I was eating. The reason I say breakfast was spent for the most part by myself was because I had a gentleman join me almost as I was done. He just arrived late last night from Athens, GA. It felt good to kind of give him the “lay of the land” and information as I had been provided, by the ‘veterans’, when I arrived.  It feels strange to see the people that I have spent the last 16 days with slowly trickle out to return home. It’s amazing how close you can become with people when you’re sharing the same experience. I will be forever grateful to the men and women here who gave me the strength and encouragement to keep with the fast and share their stories. 

Time for bed!  Have an OUTSTANDING week!