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Vegan food Ireland


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Yep, you read that right – today, I’m officially 40 years old. (Took the pic this morning, the first of my 40s!).

Gulp.

In all honesty, I’m not embarrassed to admit it. In fact, I’m embracing it. While it would be great to shave a few years off that number for the sake of grey hairs and a few laugh lines, I like myself better now than I did in my 20s.

I feel better about the choices I make – there’s a certain confidence that comes with age and experience. The things I used to obsess over when I was younger don’t even occur to me anymore, maybe because there are a whole slew of NEW things to obsess over now (like grey hairs and laugh lines!).

I remember in my 20s and even into my 30s I spent a lot of energy worried I’d miss something. It was hard to say no to invitations – what if something amazing happened and I wasn’t there? It was very important to feel included, whether it be in a club or in the telling of a joke. I hated missing out. You know the saying, “She goes to the opening of an envelope…?” Well, that was me. These days, I miss a lot of things…on purpose. I leave the bar after a couple of drinks. I politely decline invitations on a regular basis; my favourite Friday nights are the ones I stay in with Mountaineering Man with a bottle of wine and some home-cooked food.  If I walk into a room and have no idea what the conversation is about, I’ll leave it.

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I’m much kinder to myself today than I was when I was younger; the constant self-loathing and beating myself up…what was that about? I was my own worst critic, even if I didn’t show it to the outside world. Too chubby, fat arms, not smart enough, not interested in the right things, not interesting to the right people, too mainstream…these phrases were a regular part of my internal monologue for many years. It was exhausting.

I was painfully insecure, though I often acted the opposite. When I think about how that lack of confidence manifested itself back then, I cringe. I used to manage a group of designers at a job I had in my late 20s and during my most insecure moments I pulled rank with them. I tried to prove my authority and demand respect rather than earn it, and needless to say it didn’t work. Now I see the people I manage as equals and we work together and help each other out. It’s more productive and frankly, a hell of a lot more fun.

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Though I would never refer to myself as a health nut, both Mountaineering Man and I generally prefer clean foods – ones that are not from a tin can or that have a list of hard-to-pronounce ingredients that are likely produced in a lab somewhere.

Instead of sliced, pre-packaged sandwich meat, we bake free range, organic chicken breasts for sambos. Rather than buying bottles of salad dressing, I make my own. We buy our bread from bakers we know don’t use additives to speed up the rising or baking process. We frequently make veggie tacos using real corn tortillas and fresh guacamole over the more traditional, meat-based version.

So I was thrilled to discover Nobó, a new Irish line of dairy-free, all-natural frozen treats. It’s basically ice cream, without the cream and additives (many ice cream companies add gums to keep their frozen treats easy to scoop and not rock-solid).

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Moving to Ireland Raheny 7

It’s not exaggeration to say that for the last week or so, Ireland has been a different place all together. For seven days running, we’ve been enjoying cloudless, sunny skies and temperatures in the low-to-mid 20s (that would be 69 – 74 F).

The joy at such weather is downright palpable. People are running around in flip-flops and shorts taking full advantage by eating lunch outdoors and soaking in all the Vitamin D goodness. Needless to say, I’ve seen a lot of red skin around town in the last couple of days! Personally the heat and resulting dry air have been downright healing for me as I’m usually plagued with sinus issues and all kinds of upper respiratory problems due to the damp, cold Irish weather.

Most days, my eyes are bloodshot and cheeks blotchy and red from the incessant sneezing, coughing (I’ve had at least 3 chest infections in the last 2 years) and sniffling that afflict me for hours on end. Although I’ve fallen in love with Ireland, my body continues to reject the cold, pollen, viruses, bacteria – everything! My doctor actually said that she’s never heard me NOT sound stuffed-up, and sadly it’s true. But for these last few glorious days, my nose has been clear and my eyes don’t look like those of a heroin addict. I feel like my old self again and it’s been wonderful.

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LA Mushrooms

I don’t think it’s commonly used here in Ireland but in California we describe uber-healthy, slightly hippie food/people/things as “crunchy,” which is short for “crunchy granola.” For example, you might go to a “crunchy” shop to get organic spelt flour, maple oat syrup and some flax seed crackers. Or my sister might describe her vegan friend who only wears vegetarian shoes and hemp clothing as “super crunchy.”

LA Surfers But you don’t have to be stuck in the ‘60s, buy only organic and drive a low-emission vehicle to appreciate wholesome food, and when we were back in my hometown of Los Angeles on holidays recently I was reminded of the sheer variety of crunchy food available at shops and restaurants there. It also made me realise how much I miss being able to find a great beetroot and cashew cheese sandwich on sprouted grain toast or a green antioxidant smoothie without having to look very far. As Californians are generally active and health-conscious, there’s a wealth of interesting nourishing fare available at a number of places.

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