Monthly Archives: November 2011

Cookies!

I don’t really do much for Christmas. This is a fact. I tend to do my shopping on Christmas eve, because there’s no one in the stores any more, and my options are so limited that I don’t have to spend time deciding what to get. But this year, I have decided to do some Christmas baking! It’s shocking, I know, but I’m going to stick to cookies, and I’m going to start now so that I don’t get overwhelmed in 2 weeks.

Here’s the plan: I am going to select 4 Martha Stewart recipes and veganize them. Stay tuned for more on this adventure!

For now, here’s a cookie recipe supplied by my lovely friend Karen:

Hi Sarah,
Here’s the recipe for the cookies that we made on Thursday:
4 cups barley flour (bulk barn)
3 cups raw whole almonds crushed in a food processor
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 cup canola oil
1 cup real maple syrup
Jam (we used homemade raspberry jam and black cherry jam). Blueberry or apricot would be good too.
Oven at 350F, combine all ingredients (except jam), and form into tablespoonful balls. Using your index finger, make an indent in each cookie, and fill with a small spoonful of jam. Bake for 20 min.
 
These were the perfect snack for the train on Sunday morning, also a great protein-rich after-gym snack. I will bring these when I go skiing or snowshoeing. Thanks for the baking soiree 🙂
Thanks Karen, I must admit, these were also great straight out of the oven with a bottle of red wine!
 

Have a great day!

Sarah


My Raw Story

I bought two new cookbooks on Saturday, Brendan Brazier’s latest, Whole Foods to Thrive, and Ani Phyo’s Ani’s Raw Food Kitchen. So I thought this might be a good time to tell you the story of when I went raw.

It was 5 or 6 years ago, and I was living with someone (not my husband) who worked at a health food store, which not only gave me access to tons of organic produce, nuts and herbs, but also introduced me to the world of healthful eating. We attended vegan potlucks and I met a lot of other people who worked there who were vegan or even raw vegan, something I had never heard of before.  We also did not have cable, so I spent some of my spare time on the computer discovering the world of blogs. I stumbled across Shazzie’s blog, which is a fabulous account of how dramatically life can change just by changing a diet. Without even realizing it, I was eating at least one salad a day, and I had almost completely cut dairy out of my diet by Christmas of that year (I had already been vegetarian for about 10 years). On New Years Eve, my resolution was to try eating only raw food for one month, and see how I felt after that.

Well I felt amazing. Yes, weight fell off me, but I wasn’t trying to lose weight, and more importantly, my energy levels were sky-high, I signed up for 3 months of unlimited yoga, and all of a sudden I had muscles! My eyes were so clear and I felt a calmness and clarity that I had never felt before.

I also realized that I was in a relationship that was not serving me, and I ended that relationship and moved out in March of that year, something that I attribute to the clarity I was feeling because of what I was eating.

Eating a primarily raw vegan diet (I ate quinoa or brown-rice pasta when I would have cooked food cravings) dramatically changed my life. But…it was hard to be social while eating that way. Once I was back on the dating scene, it was difficult to go out for dinner on a date, or to explain my diet to potential suitors. I’m pretty sure my friends thought I had an eating disorder (I had lost 30 pounds, but my weight was steady there, and I was not weighing myself constantly, or even that aware of the weight loss). It’s not easy being green! Life got busy, I met my future husband, and I started letting the raw food slip. In fact, I ended up slipping right back to eating dairy again, and I stopped thinking about (caring about?) what I was eating. Two years ago, six months before my wedding, I decided I needed to shed a few pounds, so I started looking at my diet again. I realized that somehow I was eating a store-bought muffin in the mornings, snacking on Timbits whenever they were in the office, and there seemed to always be a small container of ice cream in the freezer. Granted, my diet was still probably better than the average North American, but I could feel the effects of those “slips.” I finally started back towards the vegan side of the spectrum.

My feelings now about raw are mixed. I am awed and amazed by the effects of a raw food diet. What I experienced was almost magical. But I also know how hard it is to sustain such strict eating. Unfortunately, we live in a world that holds a microscope to diets, full of judgement and fear. It takes a lot of courage to eat differently than everyone else you know and love. Now, I like to think that I am working my way back there, more slowly than last time, allowing myself to be conscious of what I’m eating and how it affects my body. The most cooking fun I have is when I’m making a raw creation. I love blending over stewing, and I’m saving up for a Vita-Mix blender to bring my raw creations to a whole new level.

I cannot stress enough the benefits of eating a high-raw diet, and I encourage you to do some research, and check it out for yourself. Everyone is different, but I know it makes me feel wonderful.

I have wanted to check out Any Phyo’s books for awhile now, and my Saturday night shopping spree at Chapters found me sitting cross-legged in front of the “vegetarian” section. The book is outstanding, with some really simple and wonderful recipes, with symbols to let you know how many/few appliances you might need. After I returned from my shopping trip, I immediately found a recipe to try and got to work.

Garden pate from "Ani's Raw Food Kitchen" wrapped in boston lettuce leaves, with chopped cherry tomatoes and cilantro.

This was so tasty that I had to call our tenant Corey in to taste it. His comment was “you have to bring this to the next pot luck you go to” which I think was a good sign.

The best thing about raw food is that you can eat so much of it! I had four on Saturday night, and I'm having some for lunch right now!

I’ve already reviewed some of the dessert recipes, and I’m hoping to start working on them soon too.

The ingredients were almonds, celery, carrots, ginger, garlic, raisins, apple cider vinegar, a bit of lemon juice...probably some other things that I can't think of right now...

On Sunday, in a rare occurrence, I attended a hockey game. I must really love that husband of mine. I must admit, the game goes by a lot faster when you’re there, then when it’s on t.v.

Go Sens Go!

Finally, for some reason I have volunteered to lead 108 sun salutations on December 10. I did 5 this morning, so I’m getting there, right? Come on out and give it a try with me, if I can do it, ANYONE can do it!

-Sarah


First Snow, Ottawa Organics and a Left-Over Idea

Guess what?

Winter’s here!

We woke up this morning to snowflakes and snowbanks. I brushed the sticky snow off my car this morning. It’s never as bad as you think it’s going to be. It’s very pretty, and not so cold. The snow is heavy and wet. I got out my trusty Sorel boots, my hat and mitts; put the 4-wheel drive on my car and slowly made my way to work!

I have two very exciting developments to share. One is that I have started the Jillian Michael’s 30 day shred. This is exciting because I am not a morning person. In my quest to better myself, I want to be able to get up earlier in the morning. So I bought the DVD and set it up in my bedroom so that I literally just have to roll out of bed. I did it this morning, and I must say, it’s definitely not an easy work-out. It’s less than 30 minutes, and gets the heart rate going. Now that I’m driving to work and not biking anymore, the extra 1/2 hour of excercise is perfect.

But what I’m really excited about is that I signed up for the Ottawa Organics delivery service! So on Friday, a big bin of organic, mostly local, fruits and veggies will be delivered to my door! Amazing! It’s such a great company, and you can add on extras, like tofu, soy milk, any extra veggies you might need, local organic flours, locally processed teas, and they’re adding more and more products all the time! (No, they are not paying me to say these things). The price is reasonable, definitely what I normally spend on fruits and veggies, and it’s all organic, which is something I always strive for, but find it hard to accomplish when I’m actually in the grocery store.

Maybe now is a good time to ask, why organic? What are the benefits of choosing organic? Can’t we just stick to the clean 15 and the dirty dozen? For myself, it’s about voting with my dollar. I want to show what is important to me by the food that I buy. There are a lot of reasons to eat organic produce, and I’m not a fan of scare tactics (“You’ll get cancer if you don’t eat organic!”), but as I mentioned, it is easy to feel helpless in this world, and one small way I can make a difference is by choosing to give my money to causes that matter to me. I want to support small farms, who don’t use harsh chemicals, who are invested in what they do because they believe in it. So I’ll let you know next week how the delivery went, I’m so excited to be finally pursuing 100% organic produce!

With the snow comes winter food, and a great way to make leftovers new again, is to throw ’em in a squash! Last night I bought an acorn squash (maybe my last non-0rganic produce purchase?), sliced it in half, sprinkled the halves with olive oil, salt and pepper, dried basil and thyme,  and baked it at 375 degrees for about an hour. I heated up our left overs from the night before (basmati rice, some diced veggies, bits of kale and a can of black-eyed peas thrown in, nothing fancy!) and when the squash was ready, I scooped the rice into the squash.

Dare I say…easy-peasy?

 

…then it was promptly covered in Sriracha hot sauce by the The Husband, and Nutritional Yeast by me. Acorn squash works best for this, because of it’s perfect serving size. I cut the squash about 1/3 and 2/3 so that The Husband’s portion was a bit bigger. I think the next time I make this, I will add the rice earlier, mix it in with the squash and then let it cook a little longer, maybe with some walnuts on top. Who ever thought left overs could be so exciting?

And so begins day one of 150 days of snow (or something like that, I’m a writer, not a mathematician),

Sarah


Easy-Peasy Pancakes and Charlie’s Wild Night In

Most often, my breakfast is a smoothie, or a piece of toast if I’m feeling lazy. Every once in awhile though, I go all out and cook a pancake breakfast. This celestial occurance happened last weekend, and I have the pictures to prove it. The recipe is from How it all Vegan, it’s fast, it’s easy, and it’s delicious.

The batter is ridiculously easy: flour a banana, agave nectar, baking powder, almond milk, vanilla.

I had a few apples on hand, so I chopped 'em, drizzled 'em in a bit of demerara sugar, cinnamon and maple syrup, and baked 'em at 400 degrees for as long as it took me to make the pancakes (20 minutes maybe?)

The trick to a perfect pancake is the temperature. Not too hot, not too cold. I usually hover just below medium on my gas stove, watching closely.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good enough to eat!Be generous with the apples and maple syrup.

Be generous with the apples and maple syrup.

 

 

 

Bon appetit!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And now I leave you with the incredible feat that our blessed dog Charlie pulled off on Saturday night. The determination it must’ve taken still boggles my mind. This is a reminder to foodies out there that taste really is relative. One man’s garbage is another, ahem, dog’s dessert.

 

If we had a dog house, Charlie would be sleeping there, silly puppy. Instead she is banished to the...couch. Please note that one cupboard door is completely ripped off, and the frame has been pulled away from the sink. We had tied the doors shut with a dishtowel, so our four-legged friend resorted to brute force. I'm hoping this has nothing to do with me recently switching her to a vegetarian dog food...

 
Happy Monday!
Sarah

I Love You, Period.

Take that, Big Red!

 

This post is for the ladies, and the informed man who wants to help his lady (although choose the time to impart your wisdom very carefully). If it’s TMI for you, then skip it today, I won’t hold it against you. I’ll be back Friday with a banana pancake recipe, mmmm.

I want to talk about hormones. In particular, let’s talk about periods. It happens once a month, for what, 30-40 years? And if you’re not suffering, then this post isn’t for you. I suffer. It starts about a week before the big event, with sore boobs (I usually think I’m pregnant – I’m not), feeling overly emotional, my temperature goes off (either too hot or too cold) and I get a nice big zit in the middle of my face as an early warning call. Yep, I know it’s period time. When Big Red finally makes an appearance, I take the day off work, I take as many Advil’s as legally possible, fill up the old hot water bottle and hunker down in front of day time television. I’m off duty for 24 hours, at least.

So about a year ago I decided to take matters into my own hands. I don’t think it’s right or normal to be so uncomfortable (and uncomfortable puts it mildly). There were times in the past when I was brought to tears. There have been times when it kept me from enjoying a special event or occasion. I wonder with panic what will happen after I have children and there are little ones depending on me. I am a basket-case for two days a month. What would I do with a child who needs me?

I began to research herbal remedies, but I also wanted to look at what nutrition could affect hormones, muscle cramps and blood loss. I looked at low-fat diets, high-fat diets, raw food diets, herbs with names I can’t pronounce, and finally I compiled a few key tricks that have been slowly helping me adjust my hormones and survive my monthly gift. The following is a list of what changes I have made and how it has helped me. It is a slow process, and may not be for you, but if you’re looking for answers it might be a good place to start.

  1. I gave up coffee. You could see that coming, right? Coffee directly affects hormones, decaf or not. Also, it is highly acidic, which can leech important minerals from your body. Minerals you need for a pain free period.
  2. I cut out the dairy. I sometimes find dairy infiltrating back into my diet when I’m not paying attention, and I can tell right away. Bloating and breast tenderness are non-existent when I’m being strict about my plant-based diet.
  3. I got off the birth control pill. Okay, this one might be controversial, but hear me out. If you’re having sex with someone whose baby you don’t want, you should be using condoms anyway. If you’re in a monogamous long-term committed relationship (and you have been tested for STDs), go for the old withdrawal or basal temperature methods. I was on the pill for about 8 years, and when I stopped taking it about 5 years ago, I finally started feeling human again. Messing with hormones can have very serious side-effects, and shouldn’t be taken as lightly as a free sample from a walk-in clinic. I understand women’s lib and all that, but to me, the pill is almost a different sort of enslavement. Hormones affect your feelings, so if your hormones are synthesized, what about your feelings?
  4. I stopped using tampons. I did this because I read that the body can be aggravated by having a “foreign body” inserted in it for 3 days straight. You might not have toxic shock syndrome, but it could be tensing the muscles. I have since noticed that I am way more aware of my flow. I buy Natura pads from the health food store, and change them as often as I need to (pretty much every time I go to the washroom).
  5. I upped my greens, and focussed on magnesium. So magnesium is a mineral that helps muscles relax. Therefore, it should help cramps. Magnesium is found in most whole foods, dark leafy greens, sea vegetables, nuts and seeds, to name a few. I started adding 2 tablespoons of chia seeds to my green smoothies, and every once in a while adding a calcium-magnesium supplement to my diet. (I’m not a huge pill-taker, so I’ll just throw it in the smoothie and blend it up).
  6. I stopped taking pain-killers. Yep, you heard right. I stopped taking pain-killers. Pain-killers like Advil or Tylenol can really toxify your liver. And when the liver is toxic, the toxins will try and get out some other, like through your uterus. Years back when I went to a naturopath about my PMS issues, she recommended a cod-liver oil press to help detoxify my liver. Of course I did it once and then got bored, but the point is, keep the liver clean! In fact, I didn’t notice much of a difference in pain. It’s shocking, but true. I took the day off work anyway, and just had a lot of hot baths and tea. I found the pain was a bit more intense, but didn’t last as long. As time has gone on, I don’t get pain at night anymore, and the pain is significantly shorter (about 24 hours, it used to last more like 36, with the whole thing taking about 6 days).
  7. I drink beer. This is not a joke. One good quality beer gives me more pain relief than 4 Advil ever did. This is not an excuse to get bombed, and you can’t do it first thing in the morning, but I swear by it.
  8. I do yoga. I wasn’t sure it would help, since I did a pretty intensive hot yoga stint last winter with no results. But since I’ve started the teacher training, were the focus is so much more on meditation and breathing, I have noticed a huge difference. Last month was shockingly easy on me.
  9. I became more aware of my cycle, my feelings and what I need. My last tip is that I become unapologetic. Why should we be expected to work through our period? Why should we be asked to take drugs so that we can continue to function as if nothing’s wrong? Maybe our bodies need a day of rest every month, to recharge, refocus, and allow us a day for ourselves. Since I started becoming more aware of my needs, I have found it easier to anticipate the hormonal changes. When I start to feel the shivers and dull ache that means big hormonal shift, I recognize it and allow my body to relax into it. There’s no point in fighting it, or hoping it’s not coming.

This is what has worked for me. I started this project last January, and it hasn’t changed overnight, but so far I have noticed improvements. I will continue to give you updates, I am really excited to see the effects of yoga, and I am focussed on dropping a few unwanted pounds, hopefully that will provide benefits too.

If you have any advice or any methods that have improved your period (or menopause) please post a comment. There’s no need for us to suffer!


How I eat MORE now that I eat a plant-based diet

This pyramid is FULL of food. I learned to embrace (almost) all of it.

I was a picky eater as I child. Have I mentioned that before? If food wasn’t cooked, cut or served a certain way, it was NOT passing my lips. I can remember calmly sitting at the dinner table until bedtime because I refused to eat something my mom had made. I would’ve sat there until hell needed to open up a North Face due to below zero temperatures before eating something I didn’t want to eat. When I cut dairy and junk food (I had been a vegetarian for almost 10 years when this happened) out of my diet, I was left with startlingly few choices (so I thought), and so began my plant-based journey to abundant food. Here are just a few of my discoveries:

  • Whole grains are the spice of life. I didn’t know that there was more than white pasta and uncle ben’s rice. It took a few times to get quinoa and millet down (note: always rinse quinoa before you cook it, and try dry-pan frying millet before you cook it too, it gets a nutty taste this way). I was slower to warm up to brown and wild rice, but they’re a staple in my pantry now. Choosing different grains can change up a meal and add some excitement to your dinner. My next experiment will be amaranth, the journey continues!
  • Not all vegetables are created equal. There used to be a long list of vegetables that I wouldn’t go near with a 10-foot pole, but I slowly started experimenting, and now I count vegetables as my friends. After my raw-food stint of eating a salad at least once a day, I got to know vegetables really well. The trick? Organic tastes better than conventional hands down. I’m not a strict organic buyer, I look for local first and foremost, but once I cut out the junk food and my taste-buds start recovering, I definitely noticed a difference in quality produce. A tomato in January seems unappealing? It should, it’s definitely not growing naturally around here. Buy it canned instead, make a soup, and wait it out until spring. Confession: I still can’t stomach cucumbers. I know I’m crazy, but I just can’t do it. I have a goal to slowly introduce cucumbers in my juicing, like a centimetre at a time, but we’ll see…I’m scared.
  • Beans really are magical! I used to have lentils every now and then, but in the quest for a balanced diet, I realized I can put beans in almost anything.  Beans started showing up in my salads, in pasta, cooked with rice, in soup, in chilli, alone as a side, in dips and spreads. I am working on getting beans into my desserts, and the bean take-over will be complete. I often use canned beans, even though I know dried is better for me. And I know there aren’t any excuses for not putting beans out to soak at night, it takes five minutes, but honestly, I’m not yet a meal planner. I think up what we’re having for dinner about 5 minutes before I start making it. So except for lentils (which miraculously take the same amount of time to cook as pasta or quinoa and even less than rice!) I keep a couple cans of beans handy. If you’re using canned beans just make sure to rinse them really well before eating, since they tend to have a lot of sodium added.
  • Recipes can be a drag. I learned that I need to trust my gut when it comes to cooking, and while recipes can be a great starting place, food can be just as good, if not better, if you veer off the beaten path. I learned about substitutions and what can work instead of what. A potato stew can taste just as good with celery instead of fennel. Don’t be afraid to try a recipe if you don’t have all the ingredients.
  • SNACK! Don’t let hunger play a part in what (or where) you choose to eat. I travel everywhere now with tamari almonds, or raisins and cashews, or dried apricots or mangos, or a straight up apple or banana. No one makes good decisions when they are starving, so don’t let yourself go there. Also, it makes for smaller portion sizes at dinner if you don’t feel the need to inhale everything insight because you haven’t eaten since lunch.
  • Find substitutes. At first I missed cheese a lot. But really, cheese is just a fat, so I turned to my good friend the avocado. I was a bit of a guacamole addict for awhile, but it fed my craving, and once I didn’t have the craving anymore, I moved on (hummus, you rule my world).
  • Keep It Simple Stupid. I’ve learned to appreciate basic meals: beans and rice, or sweet potato and quinoa, or a straight up salad. You don’t need to get fancy in order to enjoy good food. You can be healthy, and not slave away in the kitchen for hours. Keeping it simple means that when you do treat yourself to a gourmet meal, it will be all the more special. I know, we all drool over the fancy blogs and cookbooks, and I agree gourmet cooking is an awesome treat every once in awhile, but don’t put pressure on yourself to do it every day. Enjoy a sliced avocado with lemon and salt; baby carrots, cherry tomatoes and hummus; sliced apple and almond butter; simple but delicious and filling!

My change didn’t happen overnight, but learning to listen to my body opened up a brave new world of food for me. Once the processed junk was gone, I could hear what my body wanted, and I now probably eat more varieties of food than I ever ate before.

…and I’m working on those cucumbers.

How about you? What new foods have you discovered that you never would’ve touched before (or had never heard of?)

Sarah xoxo


Remembering: Some Thoughts on War and the Occupy Movement

I thought I’d take a time-out from veggie talk to reflect on Remembrance day and the Occupy movement, it’s a bit of a novel, but I think it’s important to keep the dialogue going! 

In about an hour I’m going to head down to Parliament Hill and listen to the Remembrance Day ceremonies. I’ve been going for the past few years, since I get the day off. My grandfather was in the Greek navy during WWII, a bit of a different experience from the Canadians. My grandparents talk about the city of Athens being starved out by the German invaders, being taken over by the Nazi regime, black outs and gunfire on the streets.

I’ve been seeing on facebook comparisons between the youth who went off to war and the youth who are currently participating in the Occupy movement. So I thought I’d write about what the Occupy movement means to me.

I grew up in a single-mom household. After my parents divorce when I was six, and my dad skipped the province so that he wouldn’t have to pay child support, my mom moved my sister and I to our grandparents house in a small Ontario town near the Quebec border. My mom commuted for two hours each day to Carleton University in Ottawa to finish her degree. A year later we moved to an Ottawa suburb, renting a small town house in what I refer to lovingly as “single-mom housing.” My grandparents supported us as much as they could, and there was a bit of money coming in from the government. My mom’s friend Barb lived with us for a bit, and after she moved out I remember that she took all the furniture with her. For awhile I can remember the only place to sit to watch television was on pillows on the floor, or my sister’s old car seat.

I never felt poor though, I had my library books, my grandparents were generous at Christmas, I would make Barbie houses out of hard-cover books and wash-clothes for blankets. We always had new clothes for school in September, and other than needing to wear plastic bags inside my boots, I don’t remember feeling any different than the other kids I went to school with.

We moved to downtown Ottawa when my mom got into teacher’s college, just down the street from where my grandparents had down-sized and recently moved to. They provided baby-sitting and chauffeured us around if my mom couldn’t. My mom re-married when I was a teenager and I welcomed three more sisters into my family. With young ones at home again, my mom stopped teaching and stayed at home with them. I learned quickly that if I wanted money, I needed to get a job, so I did. I worked 10 or 20 hours a week at the local grocery store. Looking back I am also so grateful to have been a teenager in the 90’s, my wardrobe consisted of Salvation Army finds, old plaid shirts and used cargo pants.

With a teacher mom and some reliance on government money, I grew up fairly left of centre, politically. Throw in that I attended an arts highschool, and it never occurred to me that there were opinions that deviated from a more or less socialist point of view. I took a bus to Montreal when I was 16 for the “NO” rally when Quebec wanted to hold a separation referendum, I marched with the teachers during a strike, I proudly wore a button against the Mike Harris government, and when I turned 18 I put my vote to the NDP.

After 10 years of paying off my student debt, I now find myself in a position were I’m making more money than my family ever had when I was growing up. I work hard for it, there are days when the thought of stepping foot in my giant office building, sitting in my cubicle infront of my computer and reviewing a policy consultation makes my artistic brain want to implode. But I wouldn’t have been able to pay off my student debt without my job. I wouldn’t have my car, or be able to buy pricy health food. I wouldn’t be able to pay for my gym membership, or attend my yoga teacher training. So I am at peace with my job for the moment. And as soon as it’s not worth it to me, I’ll get out of it. I must admit though, making a comfortable living has given my political views a run for their money, if you’ll forgive the pun. I am in a higher tax bracket, and seeing the before and after tax amount I take home always gives me a small heart attack.

So I keep asking myself, am I in the 99%? I keep hearing people say, why don’t those protesters just get better jobs? Or invent an ipod? What are they complaining about? I wonder, if I had followed my artistic dreams instead of settling into my office job, would I be able to complain that I am not making enough money? If I had decided to write for a local newspaper, making just above minimum wage because it allowed me to write everyday, would I feel that the money of North America was being unfairly distributed? Just because I am comfortable, does that mean that I should feel guilty for how I live?

I do feel guilty. The Occupy movement is receiving a lot of flak from the upper middle class, and I sometimes feel like it’s a “she doth protest too much” situation. Maybe it’s uncomfortable because there is an underlying truth in it.  I’m sitting on my Ikea couch, typing on my mac mini computer, and I imagine eight-year-old me, curled up in my sister’s old car seat in an empty living room watching tv shows where characters didn’t have to wonder if they were getting new running shoes this year.

For me, the Occupy movement is putting these issues in our faces. It is unfair that some people have comfort, and some people do not. And yes, sometimes it is about the choices that we make. My mom didn’t have to go back to school, she could’ve gotten a job and slowly moved up, she didn’t have to have more children and stay at home with them. But why is it okay in our society to pay someone else to watch your children so that a mother can buy groceries? What are we teaching our children by saying that money is more important than the time we spend together? Are we saying that a mother’s ability to raise her children is less important than making money?

The men and women who fight in wars, if it was a choice, or not, are doing what feels right to them. They are defending freedom. The protestors of the Occupy movement are doing what is right for them too, they are protesting for freedom as well, they are asking us to examine where our society is putting it’s importance, it’s morals. Is a banker more important than an artist? Is a teacher more important than a mother? Is the CEO of an internet company more important than a teacher? Is a hockey player more important than an army cadet?

I can’t offer any solutions, but I think of my grandparents who were starving in Athens in the 1940’s, and I think of single-mother families who are starving today on minimum wage, and I am thankful for the Occupy movement. We don’t have a tangible war to fight, but the protestors are following a more complicated truth, simply that something feels wrong.

Today, I am remembering all those who have fought for what is right, be they war veterans or protestors. I am remembering my 8-year-old self, who didn’t  want anything, other than her family’s love. I am thankful for all of those who have fought in wars for our freedom, I am thankful for my mom who stayed at home to raise her family, and those who continue to fight for people everywhere to be able to choose how they live their lives.

Me and my sister Megan with our Papa. Thank you, Papa for fighting in the war and for standing up for what is right.