I am so excited to introduce you to an INCREDIBLE blogger today.
Victoria is one of my very good friends. When she lived in NYC, she was my workout and foodie buddy. She was my go-to when I wanted to try a new vegan or raw restaurant or venture into the world of hot yoga. I was beyond sad when she decided to move to Chicago, where she is from, but I know it was what’s best for her. Now, she’s gone all awesome chef on me and is taking the world of instagram by storm with her gorgeous creations and colorful food. I’m so excited that she now has a blog that documents her struggles with eating disorders, inspires and helps others create a healthy relationship with food, and serves as a starting ground for the ebook she is planning for the future. She has even shared one of her delicious recipes below! Take the time to get to know this amazing chick, check out her blog, facebook page, and GORGEOUS instagram, and give her some love!
What inspired you to start your blog?
I started opening up about my health insight on instagram and was getting a lot of positive feedback. Many women could relate to what I’ve been through and also seemed to be intrigued with my eating habits. I would get floods of questions for recipes or advice with eating struggles. So basically I launched my website to connect more with my followers and be able to share my experiences, recipes & health practices to hopefully help others who may be in need.
I know you’ve struggled with eating disorders in the past. Do you mind talking about them and how you are working to overcome them?
I previously lived in New York City where I was working 80-hour workweeks at a high-stress job. I was simultaneously in a very difficult long distance relationship. Subsequently, I began to take all the stress out on my body. I felt so out of control with my daily life that I began to hold on to and control my eating habits & my weight. Before I could realize what was happening it was too late. Eventually, I was able to grasp that there was a serious problem and began to seek help. I was able to hold on for a few years teetering back and forth but was never able to get over it. I felt crazy, lost and that I was fighting a battle I was never going to win. I had to make one of the hardest decisions of my life and that was to leave my job and everything I felt like I worked so hard for to come home (to Chicago) and find myself. It’s been exactly one year since I’ve moved from NYC and I can honestly say I have finally found happiness in both myself and my relationship with food. I can now look back at one of the darkest times in my life and shed light on how much I’ve grown and accomplished.
You come from big Italian, hunting and meat-loving family. What made you decide to go vegan?
This has been an interesting turn of events. I think we are so used to eating what has been put in front of us as children and what we grew up listening to on TV that we never stopped to think if that was truly good for us or if we really even liked it to begin with. My family is an active one, all being soccer players, but we never really thought much about what we ate because that’s what my grandma ate, her grandma ate, etc. So for my family this was kind of unheard of. I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily vegan. I don’t like to put restrictions on my eating patterns. I allow myself to eat what I truly want, when I want as long as I’m truly hungry and stop when I’m full. With this outlook I have been able to start from the ground up with my eating habits and have found the type of foods I am naturally attracted to. After harming myself for so long, I now have a different respect for myself and I pay more attention to what I put in my body. I tend to eat mainly raw, plant based foods because I love the way it makes me feel both physically & mentally, but I will never pin point myself into eating only that.
I don’t like to put restrictions on my eating patterns. I allow myself to eat what I truly want, when I want as long as I’m truly hungry and stop when I’m full.
How has your family reacted to your lifestyle change?
My family has been nothing but supportive. They deeply wanted to help me recover in any way possible. If that means putting the pasta and meatballs aside they do. If it means making me a separate dish when they eat lasagna they do it. I’ll never forget visiting my dad’s house for the first time after moving back home. I opened his freezer door and there were probably about 20 different vegan/organic products for me and sitting next to it was a dead bird. I know a dead bird is not a positive thing, but it showed me that this was so far out of my dad’s reach but he was willing to help me in any way he could, even if that meant going to the store and buying things he never pronounced before or even knew existed. But it has been a give and take, I’ve been able to share my health knowledge that I’ve learned with my family and they have made some dramatic positive changes. My dad actively cut out junk food with preservatives and artificial flavoring and moved into a more organic lifestyle and has lost over 30 lbs, so it’s been pretty awesome to see.
What is your best piece of advice for someone looking to make the switch to a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle?
I would first tell them to evaluate what the reason is exactly for making the switch. If it’s for a healthier lifestyle, not solely driven by losing weight, than I believe they are much more likely to see a positive outcome. I would recommend they start by understanding what foods they truly love and can/can’t live without. I don’t believe in deprivation, so I feel making the transition slowly is their best bet. It’s a lot easier than you think and there are a lot more choices than most people think.
There aren’t many vegan restaurants out there, how do you stay on track when you go out to eat with family/friends?
It depends where I’m at, but I always try to stay prepared. If I know I am going into a situation where there will definitely not be an option for me I make sure to bring a raw fruit bar or gluten free bar with me. There always seems to be at least a salad on the menu so I usually stick to that and if I’m still hungry after I eat what I truly want when I get home. And if you know me I’m not afraid to be a weirdo at a restaurant so I tend to customize my orders quite a but and be “that girl,” yeah, I’m ok with it.
Favorite way to stay fit. And go!
Yoga yoga yoga and some swimming. Yoga was my saving grace when I was in NYC. That was the only 60 minutes a day I had with myself and only myself. I believe that without yoga I wouldn’t be standing here today. I was able to slowly re-connect with all of the parts of my body that I wished never existed for so long. Without sounding cheesy, I began to turn hate into love with yoga. I couldn’t recommend it more for anyone struggling with an eating disorder.
You’re food is so colorful! Do you secretly live in a rainbow?
Yes, yes I do. In all seriousness, before eating meant instant anxiety, fear and darkness. Now I look at it as something amazing and positive. I eat with love and I think it shows through with how it looks as well.
Can you give us a glimpse into your kitchen?
My fridge looks like a schizophrenic rainbow. I’m not the most organized!
What’s the one food you couldn’t live without?
Hands down sweet potatoes! Absolute favorite is mashed sweet potatoes with almond milk and agave, I could eat that weeks straight, breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Care to share a recipe with us?
- 1 cup frozen pineapple
- 1 cup of frozen blueberries
- 1/3 frozen banana
- ¼ cup coconut milk (or just enough to get the blender moving)
- 1 tbsp orange juice
- 2 tbsp raw coconut flakes
- 1/3 cup gluten free oats (any oats you would like rolled, whole grain, etc.
- 1 tbsp raw honey
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- Mix raw oats, honey and spices and lay out onto a baking sheet.
- Place in the oven at 350 degrees for about 7-10 minutes or until crunchy & golden.
- Process frozen fruit, liquid and coconut flakes in your food processor or high speed blender and watch the bliss happen.
- Serve in your favorite bowl and top with whatever goods you like. I mixed my granola with raw coconut flakes, but carob chips, or dehydrated pineapple would be great as well.
- Makes two small servings or one really happy serving.
And if you’re in need of a little extra healthy inspiration, don’t forget to enter the Momentum Jewelry Giveaway going on over here!