Tag Archive | savvy sister

Vegan Delight!


You would think that by now, three days after my 21 day vegan challenge has ended, I would be “face and eyes” (Newfie expression) into a hamburger.   But strangely enough, I have no desire to eat meat.  In fact, I would have to say that the 21 day challenge was not a “challenge” at all….it was more of a delight!  Let me explain…..

First of all, I am not what you would consider a real food lover.  I enjoy food, sure, but eating does not usually top my list of things to do.  In fact, there are days when I actually forget to eat a meal.  It is not unusual during gardening season for me to go outside after breakfast and become so engrossed in my horticultural endeavors that I realize the sun is setting and I have actually forgotten to eat!  (I know, Sherry Inkpen, you hate me…)  However, since I started eating a plant based diet, I look forward to every meal, and I am actually excited about food for the first time in years!

The second delightful thing about plant based eating is trying new recipes and discovering that traditional Newfoundland meals can easily (and tastily) be adapted to a healthier, plant based version.  Case in point: fries and gravy, a Newfie favourite.  I consider myself to be somewhat of a gravy connoisseur.  Even blindfolded I can tell the difference between chicken gravy, pork gravy and beef gravy.  I have even been known to dabble in turr gravy , and you need a seasoned palate for that!  Obviously one of the key ingredients in traditional gravy is animal drippings (doesn’t that sound gross?).  However, I have discovered a new way to make gravy which rivals any gravy I have ever tasted: mushroom gravy (recipe to follow in my next post).  And now for the fries….sweet potato fries, oven roasted with olive oil and a dash of sea salt and pepper.  Yummy!

I would be amiss not to mention the third (or turd) delightful thing about plant-based eating: the B.M’s.  I’m a little shy about getting into the details of what constitutes a healthy BM, but if you are interested in knowing what your poo says about you, you must read what the Savvy Sister has to say on the topic!

Like my “vegan coach”, Susan, I am not quite comfortable with the term “vegan”.  Mainly because it makes one sound like an alien:

Martian:  Greetings.  I am a Martian who hails from the planet Mars.

Me: Na-nu Na-nu, I am a Vegan who hails from the planet Vegs.

I much prefer the term “plant-based eating”.  Being a plant-based eater does not mean that I can’t ever have eggs, cheese, or even a bit of meat on occasion.  It just means that my diet is MAINLY plant based.  I can do that!

So, to conclude my “challenge” I would like to thank Susan for all the helpful tips and words of encouragement.  While she is the epitome of healthy eating, she is never preachy and never  hardly ever forces her opinions on others.  What says you, Susan?

Savvy Sister


Thanks Florence! And congratulations on your accomplishment! Please print and proudly display the certificate below (or just read it):


Your lifestyle changes are just that: YOURS.  Unfortunately, people have preconceptions about what a vegan diet means and see it as something negative…”I will have to GIVE UP so and so…”

But as Flo has shown us, with eating plant-based, you are getting so much more variety, color, flavor and texture, that you will never get bored.  And you will exercise your mind by trying new things.  (New experiences create new connections in your brain)  For example, I just tried Yacon syrup for the first time yesterday.  Yacon syrup is a root (like sweet potato) that is used as a sweetener but it is not like sugar, does not raise your blood sugar, (so diabetics can eat it) it helps build bone, and can help with weight loss!

I think you’ll find Flo that as time goes on, you will continue to feel better, and have more energy and enjoy fixing meals, which will reinforce your decision to remain plant-based.

I invite everyone reading this to go out today and bring home one new item from the produce section and find a way to prepare it.  One suggestion is spaghetti squash. There are two recipes on my blog, The Savvy Sister,  you can use.

Baby steps now…soon you’ll be running a marathon!   And we’ll be here to help you!


Taking the Vegan Challenge!


Flo Says:

Lately, I have been reading a lot about “plant based eating”.  In particular, I am finding Julieanna Hever’s book, The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition absolutely fascinating!   Well, all I can say is this: it’s a good thing her book was written specifically with idiots in mind, ‘cause when it comes to plant based eating, I was admittedly a complete idiot!  Like many, my first response upon hearing that someone eats a plant based diet was, “But where are you going to get your protein?”  Julieanna has a great response to that question: “The same place gorillas, elephants, water buffalo, and horses get theirs.”  Oh, from plants.  Duh!

My second misunderstanding was that eating plant based meant living on green leafy salads.  In my humble opinion, salads are meant as appetizers or sides.  God did not create them to be eaten as main courses.  I would literally perish if I had to subsist on salads alone!  Well, the good news is, there is much more to plant based eating than fruits and veggies.  In fact, there are two other entire food groups to choose from: whole grains and legumes.  Being a carb lover, this comes as a pleasant surprise to me.

Even though I have certainly been eating healthier since my cancer diagnosis, I will admit, meat continues to play a starring role in many of my meals.  Therefore, I have decided to go one step further in improving my diet by taking the 21 Day Vegan Diet Challenge!  If you are serious about improving your health, maybe you would like to sign up and take the challenge as well: http://support.pcrm.org/site/PageServer?pagename=21day_vegan_kickstart&JServSessionIda003=upegog3qg1.app234c

I am very fortunate to have my very own VEGAN COACH, Susan Gonzalez, co-author of 100 Perks of Having Cancer Plus 100 Health Tips for Surviving It to coach me through my challenge.  Before I really commit to this, however, I have two questions for Susan:

  1. Can you share some information with us about the link between diet and cancer?  And more importantly:
  2. Can I still drink wine on a plant based diet?

savvy sister

Susan says:

1.  You want information about the link between diet and cancer?

We’re gunna need a bigger blog, Flo!

Plant-based, high fiber, balanced diets that contain whole foods, and that limit processed foods containing artificial additives, have been associated with lower cancer risks for most cancers…..not just those involving the digestive system.

Let’s start with the positive, that is, what SHOULD you be eating to keep cancer away.  Everyone knows about the fruits and vegetables.  To reduce your risk of most cancers, of course, eat more of them.  The more color your food has, the more cancer fighting properties it probably has.   Eating five servings a day of fruits and vegetables will keep a multitude of illnesses at bay when it is part of your overall healthy diet.

But the scientists continue to study the cancer-fighting power that comes from a select bunch of foods.  We know that cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, brussel sprouts, watercress to name a few) contain phytochemicals such as “carotenoids” and “glucosinolates” and “sulforaphanes”.  When these food substances are digested they turn into indoles and isothiocyanates and others, which have been proven to slow or prevent the growth of cancer cells.  They also have potent anti-inflammatory effects (Inflammation is the root of most chronic illnesses including cancer.)

Studies continue to show that there is a powerful anti-cancer potential for these phytochemicals (plant substances) in their digested form, which means you have to actually eat the vegetable in its whole form to get the benefits.   (Which may be the reason why vitamin supplements have not been shown to be affective in cancer prevention.)

A very promising study looked at concentrated sulforaphanes (a substance very high in broccoli) in treating leukemia and found that when cancerous leukemia cells were exposed to concentrated levels of sulforaphanes, they die. You can check out the American Institute for Cancer Research’s site to see current and past studies on cruciferous foods and cancer.

Then there are antioxidants, which are substances found in food that slow the rate of cell death and damage.  Vitamin A, C, and E are the best known antioxidants and are found in abundance in many colorful foods like citrus fruits and orange vegetables.  Antioxidants prevent “free radicals” that do harm to you general health and can pave the way for cell mutation (cancer).  The best way to get your antioxidants is from your diet, not from vitamin pills.

Now for the flip side.  Every 5 years the American Cancer Society publishes a document called “The American Cancer Society Guidelines on Nutrition and Physical Activity for Cancer Prevention”.  This study looks at information and research from around the world and includes the input from the world’s top cancer prevention scientists.

The latest study shows that limiting red meat and avoiding processed meats (like bacon and deli meats) reduces your risk of most cancers…not just digestive ones, and suggests adopting a diet that is “plant-based”.  Plant-based means the majority of your diet and intake should come from plant foods and not animal products like dairy, meat and eggs.  In the book “The China Study” a relationship was made between animal protein intake and increased cancer risk.

There’s a huge battle going on right now among the “foodies”.  There’s the “eat meat” camp and the “don’t eat meat” camp.  No matter which camp you read about on the internet, the fact remains that the non-biased, world-wide scientific agencies looking at diet and cancer risk all agree: Plant-based diets reduce risk of all cancers.

A long-term high sugar diet has also been shown to increase the risk of cancers by affecting the liver, making it “fatty” and unable to rid your body of toxins.  Increased toxins= increased free radicals=increased cell death and destruction= increased cancer risk.

Fear not! Following a plant-based, whole foods diet is easier than you think!  (You will find out just how easy as you follow Flo through her 21 day Vegan challenge.)

2.  Now for the important question! Yes, Flo, you can drink wine on a plant-based diet, but remember, one six ounce serving is considered the limit.  When your intake is controlled, red wine can be beneficial to your heart and circulation and contains cancer fighting resveratrol, an anti-inflammatory with antioxidant properties. Cheers!

What’s Next?

Over the past year, I have endured: countless tests and procedures; 3 surgeries resulting in the loss of my left breast and associated lymph nodes; 6 grueling rounds of chemotherapy; and 25 radiation treatments.  In many ways, it was the WORST year of my life!  In that same year: I met my soul mate and fell in love; I accomplished a life- long dream of having an article published in an inter-national magazine; I reached my goal of finding 100 perks of having cancer (scroll down to read all 100 perks); and now I have been offered a contract with a publishing company to turn my perks into a book.  In many ways, it has been the BEST year of my life!

Blogging the perks of having cancer has been one of the most therapeutic parts of my healing journey.  Not only did it help me to maintain a positive attitude in the face of cancer, it also connected me to a large network of fellow breast cancer bloggers.  I faithfully follow my favorites, but the one which has resonated most strongly with me is “The Savvy Sister” (www.sisterearthorganics.wordpress.com).  Susan, a Registered Nurse, blogs about healthy living tips.  While I found myself tuning in to Susan’s blog for its entertaining and educational posts on nutrition, diet, exercise and supplements, she would follow mine for its humor and inspiration.

As I neared the end of my perks, I invited Susan to team up with me to write a book:  100 Perks of Having Cancer (Plus 100 Health Tips for Surviving It).  Our mission is to show people that it is possible to live a healthy and happy lifestyle following a cancer diagnosis.  (Yeah, you heard that right, the words “healthy”, “happy” and “cancer” in the same sentence.)  We plan to donate part of the proceeds from our book to fund cancer research.

So, first of all, I want to thank every person who has followed my blog and cheered me on in my challenge to find 100 perks of having cancer.  I will continue to blog, even though I have met my goal, but it will be less frequently.  My next big project is the book, and as soon as my chemo-fog as lifted, I will set to work!   I hope you continue to pop by my blog for a visit.  Namaste!


Perk #79: FREE STUFF!

Oops, sorry.  Did you think that by clicking this link on Facebook   you were going to get free stuff?  What I meant is that getting free stuff is one of the perks of having cancer, NOT that you are going to get free stuff just by viewing this post.  My mistake (I’m so embarrassed).


So, about the free stuff…… I met this awesome blogger, Susan who, in addition to being a cancer survivor, is also very knowledgeable about healthy living.  With posts such as, “Grab Your Nuts and Go”;  “What Your Poop Says About You”; and “When Good Doctors Go Bad”,  the Savvy Sister makes for an immensely informative  as well as an extremely entertaining read!  (www.sisterearthorganics.wordpress.com .)


 It turns out that in addition to being super smart about how to survive cancer, Susan also sells high quality and all natural beauty and personal care items at http://www.moon-organics.com/.  AND……guess who she sent a package of freebies to?  Yes, ME, her new cyber-friend!   So that makes me privy to Mother Nature’s beauty secrets.  (Not sure if I am allowed to reveal this, but just between us, I am currently testing a top secret formula for new hair growth.  I will keep you posted on my findings.)


I cannot promise you that having cancer will automatically entitle you to getting free stuff, but feel free to mention my name.

Tip:  It is okay to use your cancer to get free stuff (see perk #29:


but it is never, ever okay to lure people to your blog by implying that they are going to get free stuff.  That is just not right people, and again, I apologize if you got that impression from this post.