Every cloud…

First the good news:

I am now officially an NSCA-Certified Personal Trainer! So look out, world.

Other good news is that my aunt and granddad visited this week, and although I didn’t get to see much of them I did enjoy every minute I did spend with them. Finding restaurants for us to eat in is always a bit of a challenge as obviously I am vegan, but my granddad is 91 years old so although he is in amazing form, he can’t take the tube too far as it is incredibly tiring, and certainly can’t walk too far either. Also, as an elderly Frenchman we do have to err on the side of conservatism in our cuisine choices.

Having said that, we decided to eat at Ravi Shankar, a vegetarian Indian restaurant around the corner from Euston Square Underground station. As many Indian and especially vegetarian Indian places usually are, they were incredibly helpful with the vegan questions, knowing straight away what I could and couldn’t have. But perhaps more importantly, they had a wide range of menu choices, from the more traditional curries, rices and flatbreads, to dosas and daily specials and thalis. I had the Mysore Thali which they amended to make vegan, my granddad had the Spinach and Panir Dosa which he only managed half of, and my aunt had the Dosa of the Day. Both of the dosas looked amazing; golden crispy pancakes wrapped around a colourful curried filling, served with a vegetable curry and a coconut chutney. My thali was good, though not incredible. However, three of us ate and drank for £30, in a cosy and helpful atmosphere, and I am definitely aiming to return.

The following night, we ate at Myung Ga in Soho, where again the service was very helpful and accommodating. I could have had all manner of vegan-friendly dishes including bibimbap, but I didn’t particularly feel like a big greasy lump of rice or noodles. I didn’t even have to voice this strange preference of mine to the waitress (who may have been the manager or owner, from the way she spoke) who suggested making me a dish of stir-fried kimchi with tofu, which actually hit the spot perfectly! My aunt and granddad had barbecued meat and veg, and my friend Mona who is vegetarian had a tofu dolsot bibimbap. I was really impressed by the friendly and helpful service – the only problem is that if you’re veg*an eating with meat-eaters, they cook all the vegetables on the same barbecue as the meat, and as the meat juices run down the domed grill they soak into the vegetables, so you’ve no hope of sharing them really.

It has been a family week for me, as the day after my family left, Ben and I went to visit his family. Previously a little hesitant about my vegan diet, his sister in law cooked a vegan meal for the whole family, which consisted of a lovely pumpkin soup (topped with roast pumpkin seeds and crispy tobacco onions, and I dripped some Tabasco into it because well, why not) and a bean and vegetable chili with rice.

I then also had the delight of being presented with a birthday gift of a bag of chocolate goodies from Hotel Chocolat. In it I discovered three Purist bars, a little tray of chocolate batons, a tub of chocolate-hazelnut spread, and a tin of luxury drinking chilli-chocolate! There couldn’t have been a better selection of treats for me, plus I love how people seem to instantly associate me with chocolate; this is most definitely an image I can work with. Check out my Chocolate pages for reviews – we sat down and had a little tasting session altogether, which I would definitely encourage everyone do!

Anyway; the less good news. Ben found his old allergy testing report and has found that amidst a whole host of allergies and intolerances, he may suffer from candida overgrowth. As nice as it would be to dismiss the finding as one of those “you really should be doing x,y,z for your health” recommendations, it does explain a lot of the symptoms that have been plaguing Ben for years, including “brain fog” and inability to focus, sweet cravings, insomnia, overproduction of mucus, sinusitis, bloating, headaches, chronic body pains, various rashes, and frequent colds and flu.

Luckily, through my years of reading blogs, I had become well-acquainted with Diet, Dessert ‘N’ Dogs, which not only documents Ricki’s fight with candidiasis and provides a large amount of seemingly quite reliable information, but also hosts the most incredible array of sugar-free, yeast-free, gluten-free, anti-allergy, vegan recipes I have ever seen – and they all look incredible!

So that’s where the silver lining comes in. Although the list of restricted foods and recommended foods is somewhat alarming even to me, I am excited that he may finally be able to cure all the ailments that have been plaguing him, and get to enjoy feeling healthy and lively again (silver lining number 1). Also, I have always wanted to try out Ricki’s recipes but have never really had a reason/chance/excuse to, so I’m looking forward to doing some decadent baking and experimenting (silver lining number 2) so that Ben can enjoy some sweet treats again without feeding the yeast causing the problems.

It will make eating out a little more difficult (though you know what, people said – and still say, that about eating out with a vegan, and it’s never really been a problem) but that’s only going to save us money and take care of our health so you know what, there are silver linings numbers 3 and 4.

And you know what, I’ll take any cloud with 4 layers of silver linings any day. It is in Ben’s nature to want to be better than everyone and everything else, and these last few years I have taken a liking to beating things up, so I see no reason not to welcome this new challenge. Oh, and it’ll give me plenty to write about on here, both related to veganism (well, nutrition) and fitness (and health) so maybe that could count as silver lining number 5. Bring it!