On the Road with Plant-based Lean: The Kentucky Trip


Two questions: What can you do when you want to make a change and it’s just not happening? And: What gets in the way, once you’re on the path to your goal?

Maybe sometime awhile back, when you were in a funk, some well meaning soul advised, ‘You just need a change of scenery.’ Could it be that simple? Let’s go with it for a minute.

What would you choose for your ‘change of scenery?’ A tropical vacation perhaps? Or how about a quick weekend trip to the coast? Call me daft, but I often opt for a tinge of grit, a place that will stretch me, a place that lets me know not everybody does yoga, drinks kombucha and eats veggies like a hooved animal–maybe even a place where I’m the one with the accent.

Enter to a place called Kentucky, a place where change is slow and is located somewhere past Saint Lou-ee, Misserah, on the other side of Illinois, across the Ohio River from Indiana. You know it, right? Yeah, me neither. We’ve all heard of Kentucky, but if you or your kin weren’t born there, likely you’ve only a flat mental snapshot.

One of my hoity-toity Northern friends feigns redneck with what she calls a Prine-tucky accent, her slang-word a hybrid of the neighboring town of Prineville, and the state of Kentucky. Kentucky-ans should definitely not be flattered.

My guy’s family is from a town called Owensboro, Kentucky, a town so far west, only the Ohio River keeps it from being Indiana. In search of rental property we could afford, he and I flew and drove past the center of the country, through Illinois and Indiana farmland.

Imagine this: Just as you start to traverse the blue continuous trusses of the Owensboro Bridge, your navigation coos “Welcome to Kentucky.” Welcome indeed. Your eyes take in the business end of the the biggest working river in the U.S. Holy-moly: rusty barges loaded to the gills; blond piles of spent grain in piles on the shore; tall cylindrical concrete stacks billow, powering a coal-fired city.

We thought we were going back to purchase rental property, yet within the culture shock (for me), we found the warmth of family and a big dose of regional culture, especially with the local food scene.

He gobbled shredded mutton at Old Hickory BBQ, while I dumped BBQ sauce on my stale iceberg lettuce salad, smiling at the tang of smoke and vinegar. We shared an order of sweet potato biscuits at the Miller House. I was delighted with the cornbread drizzled with sorghum at Moonlight BBQ. Pretty standard fare, right?

But have you heard of a “Kentucky Hot Brown?” This regional delight is a bedrock of good white bread and a pile of sliced white turkey, topped with a slice or two of red, ripe tomato, then blanketed with plenty of house-made Mornay sauce, which according to one search-engine recipe, is a Béchamel sauce, a sophisticated onion-based light gravy, to which egg yolks, Parmesan, cheddar and blue cheeses are added, then finished with butter, sugar and cream. I need a nap just writing about it. Anyway once this whole “Hot Brown” thing is soaked with that rich, Mornay creaminess, a couple slices of bacon are placed across the top, the whole thing gets sprinkled with bread crumbs and Parmesan, then broiled until bubbly and the color of a Kentucky suntan in August.

Dam gummit it, y’all probably thought this a plant based blog, didn’t you? A place where there are conversations about healthy lifestyles, getting lean and maybe even saving the planet? I’m getting to it. I promise.

My point is culture—one possible obstacle that could derail the shift to a healthier lifestyle. Culture could look like the family we woke up with every day of our childhood; the region of the country our parents or their parents chose; the place we went on Sunday mornings; the media, news and politics the family television steeped us in. We were fed in the “Hot Brown” ways of our people; the complicated loveliness that is to be human.

So, what now y’all? I say we love it all still! I say we find our own ‘Hot Brown’ balance…like inventing a new Béchamel or a fresh version of Mornay! Sauces that are lighter, have more protein and a new kind of satisfaction.

Gosh darned right-on!

This is what I’m here for—lush healthy food. I’m not bull-crapping you. I’m going to show you how beans, onions, dried mushroom-infused sauces satisfy. Show you that palates can change. That bodies can change. That lives can change.

One delicious recipe at a time. One daily water-drinkin’, workin’-out habit at a time. Until one day, a bunch of days have piled up—and you are the ‘you’ you always wanted to be.

A toast y’all lovelies—perhaps to finding a change in scenery, and for sure to rolling around in our lush family culture, and absolutely adapting our food-lifestyle so we don’t stay sick, plump and dull. No dam gummit way! We are healthy, lean and lucid!

Love and lettuce,

Talking with a Guy at the Gym – Making a Change

Zion 2010 159

I forget his name, the blue-shirted guy at the gym, who’s smiling these days while benching over two hundred pounds. He’s a big guy, though not tall, and when he started his regular workouts about two years ago, he didn’t appear pleased. Matter of fact his tentative sideways glances, exuded ‘this isn’t my normal scene.’ Yet, he kept showing up, and over the months he began to sport something akin to a swagger, like he was comfortable, enjoying himself.

Change. Sometimes we have the luxury of choice, executing a well thought-out plan, with a firmly defined goal. Other times, we never saw it coming—an unexpected pleasant surprise or a crash-and-burn disappointment—‘life on life’s terms.’ Is there yet another way change comes our way?

“So, I’ve seen you in here for a while,” I venture, glancing over at the big blue-shirted man, while I push barbells, from under my chin pivoting and extending them over my head. “Arnold’s.”

“About two years,” he says simply.

“Me too.”

“I know. You started about when I did.” I wonder if I too looked like a sideways glancing newby.

“Yeah,” I pause, wanting to ask him about how he got to the gym, being a very large man, with a very large project, but convention tells me my question might be rude. After a few more reps I override my culture, as usual.

“So, what made you start? Health? Life change?” He doesn’t even hesitate.

“Got tired of sitting on the couch.” I am both relieved and surprised.

“Really? But, it’s two years later.”

“Yeah, I started out with Gabby as my personal trainer, currently James here. Tim by the way.” I nod to James, and extend my hand to Tim.


“Was 298. Now 265. I haven’t changed my diet.”

“Me neither.” Which is truer than I’d like it to be.

“Now my car drives itself here.” He positions himself on the padded bench, looks intently into mirror, holding the barbell behind his shoulder starts extending the black weight towards the ceiling. Triceps extensions.

So, sometimes…is it just time? And when does simply showing up become “my car drives itself here”—a brand new make-your-life-better habit.

Cheers lovelies—to it simply being time.

Love and lettuce,

I Think It’s True — A Meditation on Creating Change


“It’s fiction.”

I say while reaching for the power adapter and scooting out the bedroom, so he can finish the last of his novel The Kite Runner. Once back at my laptop I sip tea and let my eyes float closed, feeling the pang of knowing I could have just let him enjoy the book.

The furnace, she’s blowing her comforting warmth as Saturday’s mid-morning sun streams into my living area-yoga room–the golden possibility flitting at the edges of my computer screen. It’s oddly quiet and peaceful, the twelve year-old already out in the weedy backyard gardening, maybe as an attempt to keep us from moving, away from her favorite house ever.

So, why did I tell him his week’s long literary romp was fiction? He’s read nearly the whole book now, occasionally saying, yeah I think it’s true. He’s been giving me regular updates, his take on the personal struggles of the flawed protagonist, who wrestled with both his conscience and the upheaval of his boyhood home in war-torn Afghanistan.

What’s True?

“It’s fiction.” Well, I think if we take a closer look at stories, we likely realize fiction is laced with elements of truth, and all true stories hold some portion of “made up” as memories of particular life details are extracted from the flesh and blood of gray matter, and typed onto the virtual page.

I’ve been directed throughout my education to embrace the “larger truth” while writing a life event, possibly asking myself, what about this personal experience is universal, meaningful and surprising?

So, what about our own story of ‘becoming?’ Our goals of fit, lean, healthy, rich and loved? As we live our life, which experiences, emotions and thoughts do we focus on, and which do we turn away from? What do we believe is absolutely true verses what we perceive as bunk? What do we write off as trivial, as opposed to what we find meaningful?

Count on Change.

Is what’s real only what we see every day–day in, day out? Here’s one: Is what’s always (seemed) to be, what’s really been? Or, how about this: Are we actually stuck and unchanged? Or are we changing without realizing it?

Change seems to be the actual reality–the thing we can count on, as the saying goes. If we attempt to choose the same thing every day, it’s only similar, not quite the same, because everything, the earth and everything in it is spinning, falling down and rising up–in constant movement–a continual flux of dynamic play.

Static (or ‘stuck’) is a lie. A false perception. What if the shift towards our lusted-after desire, was as simple as taking another way to work? Or imagining another ending to the story? Or about choosing slightly different details along the way? What tools might we choose? Writing a story perhaps?

So, as I ponder the concept of change, goals and personal truth, our bedroom door opens with a slow squeak, he’s sniffing as he makes his way up the hall.

“That was tough,” he says plopping into the chair, eyes wet, face red. “…and satisfying…changes things.” Relieved, I nod, then wonder.

I wonder about stories.

Stories with the power to change a life. What if editing our personal story, our experience, and our life could begin with the simple and close at hand–a personal journal? A meditation cushion? A good coach? Add a dose of your own desire and a willingness to…try. Did you know “essay” like the ones you wrote in school–the definition is “to try.”

A toast beauties, to the possibility of a healthier, leaner ‘uniquely you’ type of story; to redefining “fiction.”

Love and lettuce,
The Zen of Plant Based Lean,

You Just Don’t Want it Bad Enough: Creating Changes that Last


Seriously, this green healthy thing–it’s really my life. Just now I finished my pureed greens topped with oats, chia seeds and banana, whipped together in a snap, after I got home from my early morning gym workout. Today–legs.

As I write you, I can hear my guy game-planning the day with one of his crew, his deep gravelly voice sorting through the short list he corralled onto lined paper late last night.

In a couple of minutes, after I’m done talking with you, I’ll “settle in” some of that strength training with some light yoga. (Stretching is supposed to help with both muscle gain and recovery.) I know I should have done the yoga before eating, but I was starving when I got home and I did take care to keep the breakfast very light, so I’ll get in a quick yoga-stretch before I head off over the snow-dusted roads to the day job that pays the mortgage.

This is the lifestyle I’ve always wanted. I feel lucid, strong and slowly feeling my way towards my particular brand of lean: muscular power; curvy, small-waist-ed feminine; jogging around the disc golf course un-winded; undaunted; twelve pain-free hiking miles. Yeah, that’s my heavy-hitting long definition of “lean.”

It’s easy to start this getting healthy-happy thing–but what brings about real and lasting change? What about when I feel restless and everything in me wants to reach for the gigantic chocolate cookie that will steal my clarity, give me belly-pooching gas and tomato-faced hot flashes. Ewe…right? Food is my hook for sure. Is it yours?

What motivates us to change? I want the usual things: to be slim and attractive; to have vibrant health; to be pain free; to live longer; to have mental clarity; to have youthful energy. You want any of these?

But wanting wasn’t enough. Though it seems like any one of those would be enough motivation to whip up some discipline and forego the extra helping or get to the gym–they simply were not. And, I’ve been disgusted with myself for as long as I can remember, considering myself weak-willed because none of those quality-of-life states of being were enough to get me to lose those extra ten to fifteen pounds. Maybe you just don’t want it bad enough, one of my health gurus would say.

Maybe. Over the next three plus weeks, until the first day of spring, lets explore with what keeps us in the game–working towards our desires. For me: I’m a 110 pound vegan, yogi writer, which keeps me eating green, not snacking and getting to the gym, so I can live the life I like–light, lucid, lean, strong.

A toast beauties, to figuring out what makes us tick, to living the life we like.

Love and Lettuce,

Teenagers and Newborns–What’s the Difference?


When I had my second child I was thirty and decided I could choose my attitude, as far as how I felt when Lissy-newborn woke me in the middle of the night. After all that’s what babies are supposed to do, right?

So now we have teenagers–weepy, you don’t listen to me, junk food eating, eternally irritated, inflexible, PMS-ing practicing adults–what teenagers are supposed to do (be), right?

So, what if I get to choose my attitude now too? What if I’m just take myself shopping when she’s wigging out like she just swallowed a hornet? After all she’s a teenager.

What if I stop reminding her to eat her vegetables. Nobody wants to be told, let alone a moody teenager. What if I ratchet back my maternal suggestion giving monster a few notches, for the sake of my own sanity?

What if there’s nothing wrong with all the teenage angst, moodiness and poor nutrition?

What if all is as it should be? What if teenagers are simply big newborns? Irritable, rude, stinky, cute if you squint precious newborns. Sort of.

Hmmm. A worthy perspective I think: All is as it should be.

Merriest Peaceful, Accepting, Choose Your Attitude, Christmas!!

Love and Lettuce,


In My Pantry


So I am standing in the pantry, reaching into the Costco-sized box of Fruit by the Foot, hoping the little metallic-wrapped baby my hand has landed on is the coveted berry flavor. I am completely ignoring my vow to spend these last twelve days before Christmas eating only what nourishes my mood and leans out my body. Why am I so weak?

Seriously, after yoga I meditated, imagining the less full feeling, trying to learn to be okay with the achy hunger. “I kind of like it,” my friend Emmy says. “This will feel different,” I tell myself. I know it takes some time to naturally avoid these dense, sweet manufactured foods, because not only are these part of our culture and a major contributor our thriving economy (along with the medicine to saves us from ourselves), but our bodies are made for survival, being wickedly good “calorie detectors” because way back when (say even a couple of hundred years ago) we might have been running for our lives from some beastie or foraging for starchy roots and sweet berries or possibly even hunting, if we didn’t live in a temperate area where plant-based foods were plentiful. So in these modern times those fruit rollups, mochas and whole grain whatevers end up stored on our bodies. Instead of happily, gorgeously leaping around, we’re heading straight for the walk-in closet after a shower, avoiding our reflections in the bathroom mirrors and hurriedly pulling on the leggings and the trendy long tunics, sucking it in telling ourselves today will be different.

Standing at the box of Fruit by the Foot there’s hardly a moment between the fleeting desire and the moment the tart berry taste and sticky texture hits my tongue, about three times or six…Honestly, I’m no different than the three teenaged girls I share this little yellow Cape Cod with, along their dad. : – ) I will say that earlier in the day I drank my green water (water, greens and stevia leaf) and ate only low-fat, whole foods vegan. I was the awesomely cool badass healthy hedonist I aspire to be—up until about 5;00 p.m. that is. I swear that late afternoon is my own personal “witching hour” It’s the time when I fall into the craving and stuff my face. It’s ridiculous. It’s a healthy vegan life, with a side of crap. Eh…

What’s the answer to living in this world and staying to be lean and healthy? One possibility is putting all the fruity, nutty, crackery, bready things in Lance’s truck and our girls can just run out when he gets home and feed at his tailgate. We could pretend we’re at a Beavers-Ducks civil war game!

So, if I were in an AA meeting the folks there might suggest: Pray. Find a way to be of service. Find something else to do during my “witching hour.” Ask for help. Ask: Where’s my bottom? Surrender self-will? Surrender to what is reality for me, what is truth, what might be required to actually for change? Powered by powerlessness? Can I really just make this change by muscling through? I’ll explore these ideas and let you know.

Love and lettuce,

Yummy Healthy Vegan

Best Vegan Pumpkin Pie With Crunchy Rice Crust


Another experiment. Less fat. No refined sugar (dates and maple syrup). No wheat (oat, rice, amaranth, arrowroot)


1. Puree in blender:
1 Cup Dates
1/2 Cup Maple Syrup
3/4 Cup Water

2. Add and continue in blender:

2 Cups Kabocha squash
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground clove

3. Cook on stove until warm and thick.


1. Meanwhile make crust in food processor:

1/2 Cup coconut oil
1/2 Cup white beans

2. Make a vegan egg:

1 Tablespoons arrowroot
1/4 Cup warm water

3. Add the above wet ingredients to the following:
1/2 Cup rice flour
1/4 Cup amaranth flour
1 1/4 Cup oat flour
1/4 Cup arrowroot starch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven 330 degrees Fahrenheit. 1. Make filling. 2. Make crust. 3. Press the crust into an 8″ springform pan. 4. Pour in filling. 5. Bake pie for 60 minutes. (It’s better to under bake than over bake.)

Honey, Your Froot Loops Are Ready

Frrot Loops in My Pantry 092016

“Honey your Froot Loops are ready.” Seriously, these were the actual words the doting father called up the stairs to his fifteen year-old daughter. I’m wondering, as the waft of cologne, sweet and heavy, floats down the stairs and up my nostrils, making a touchdown at the back of my throat, Is this is really my house? How did we get to be the land of Fruit Loops and Victoria’s Secret body spray?

Well it is America, land of boxed shit posing as food. At least they’ll eat it, right? We’re working our way towards something healthier. Right? You can’t control everything. That’s for damn sure. This is not a battle I want to have with my kids…Yeah, battles are a drag.

Or maybe no justification at all: It’s just what we do.

In our house he says, they’ve already had so much change. She’s picky. This is just the way we live.

I actually don’t say much. That’s not to say I don’t judge.

Here’s the part that makes the hempy bile rise in my throat. Yesterday my daughter came home from school and immediately slipped into our new walk-in pantry. When I opened the white hollow-core door my slender little lovely stood at the shelves, the red Toucan Sam clad box dangling at an angle, her hand to her face, having just crammed a handful of the purple, green orange and yellow loops into her mouth. I peer in the box. My parents brought Froot Loops too. Contrary to the Froot Loops never-occur-in-nature color, they’re shaped just like the benign beige Cheerios, only the little guys are fatter and dusted white.

My problem, right? His kids aren’t hiding in the pantry.

“They’re not going to change overnight Mom,” my eleven year-old suggests. “Maybe Lance could meet in the middle, get something a little healthier, like those fruity o’s at Trader Joes or Annie’s Bagel something’s at Natural Grocer.”

Sounds reasonable, but I say. “Still crap.” I’m flat-lipped, indignant.

“Nothing will ever be good enough for you. Will it?”

“It not real food or healthy for you just because it’s got a little whole grain or fewer chemicals. It’s still starch, grease and dead animal.”

“Yeah like the only thing that’s healthy is beans, hemp and green smoothies, right Mom?”

Maybe she’s got a point. You wouldn’t look at the five of us and say oh yeah, those are the gorgeous vegans over there and on that side, those are the listless eaters of crap. Nope. It doesn’t look like that. My partner is lean, beautifully muscular and ‘gets after it’ his daily chores completed with a bounce in his step. And his girls aren’t fat or look listless. They’re bright-eyed beautiful. And they eat crap, carcass and secretions. Why change?

Maybe we don’t really need whole food like fruits, vegetables, grains and beans. What does it look like? Well, I think I’m the one who’s feeling yucky. The one with the extra ten pounds and wants to eat sugar at three in the afternoon, just like everybody else in the country. I’m no paragon of vegan virtue, all radiant and lean. I look decent for my age and trying to be healthy and maybe along the way make a difference for the planet and the animals…

A toast lovelies, to wondering what the hell I’m doing anyway. Maybe crap, carcass and secretions are the way to go.

Love and Lettuce, Kathryn

Listen to Your Body

Zion 2010 109

September 15, 2016

Today I’m on my way back from the flu, and normally I would have called this a “special occasion” aka a reason to not eat in a way I’ve committed to, which is eat for eight hours and not eat for sixteen. IF or intermittent fasting. The regimen has netted many benefits, which I’ve discussed recently. The most notable are I’m losing weight and I listen to my body in a new way.

The reason I would choose to deviate: I am recovering today and I felt weak and lightheaded right when I woke. All the conventional thoughts on this matter whisper to me: Go ahead and eat. You need the nutrients and calories. Listen to your body. Eating when you’re hungry is simple common sense, right? And in addition to my brain being only half online, my stomach growled. I glanced at the clock on the microwave over my gas stove: 8:15. A month ago I would have been ramping up to a mid morning snack having had a full breakfast two hours before, but today I shrugged and said, I’ll wait until nine and “feed” 9:00 to 5:00. Some days it’s 10:00 to 6:00. Other days it’s even 11:00 to 7:00. I patted my belly and said, I AM listening. Very closely in fact.

But, instead of answering with, right on girl here’s a bunch of calories, I said, why don’t you burn some of that stored energy, aka fat, stored around the middle instead? It’ll be fine. I promise. Let’s start burning that extra fat rather than feeding off the readily available blood glucose. Burn the fat and turn THAT into the glucose needed. We’re turning into a fat burning machine. Yeah!

Could it be thirst instead of hunger? How about some beautiful pure water instead? We live in Central Oregon girl, some of the best water in the world. Ah, yeah that’s what I need.

Listening. Feeling. And as I hear the sound of my own hunger I know there are stored calories available, unwanted and unnecessary “cush” hanging out, on the real estate between my bra and my panties. I don’t need that. I don’t want that either. In fact, all those extra calories making the cush are also creating imbalances in the blood, clogging and thickening the life giving plasma which increases the likelihood of disease. Eek. None of that!

A toast loveliness, to listening, and just possibly giving a different answer.

Love and lettuce,


What I’ve Noticed in Two Weeks of Intermittent Fasting (IF)


What has occurred to me over these last couple of weeks have had a significant impact on my beliefs and behavior:

Hunger doesn’t hurt. I haven’t fainted.

Eating nothing is easier than eating less.

That line-in-the-sand, not eating past or before certain times has enabled… “a pause” I’ll call it, in my psyche, that has helped me make positive food choices during the “feeding times.”

I naturally drink a lot more water.

Caffeine helps with hunger. So does peppermint tea with wheat grass powder.

I am losing weight.

I have to be careful to eat planned meals and not keep eating until spacey-head feeling goes away.

Kombucha can give an immediate lift when feeling spacey. Most of the time I just have a little, maybe 2-4 oz.

I stay under 50 calories during non-eat/fasting times, which seems a little random but seems to work.

Yoga is even better in an empty or hungry state.

My desire to be lean is bigger than my craving to eat constantly.

Living lighter, getting leaner is a matter of honor and character for me. For doing what I said I would.

I almost like the feeling of being hungry now. That hunger means my body is burning something besides the glucose in my bloodstream from eating food—maybe consuming that ‘cush that is my belly instead!

That’s what I picture: my belly getting flatter; more hollowed out—as the perfect fuel (my fat) is consumed. My jaw is getting less square. My arms leaner. My calf muscles more defined. It’s almost like meditation. Breathe in. Feel the hunger. Breathe out. Eat the extra on my body. Lean into the growl. Smile that I’m doing what I said I would. Inhale the emptiness that runs from my belly to my throat. Yes. I’m getting leaner. I feel it. More clear-headed lucid. Yes. I’m also more beautiful. With each breath, with all my senses I picture these attributes. Hear my own voice. Taste the nutritious food. Touching my smooth, firm skin, I smell my own vibrant fresh musky scent.

A toast lovelies, to playing at the edges of hunger and beauty.

Love and Lettuce,