A New Kind of Healthy

~Home & Heart~

Happy Tuesday everyone! How was your weekend? 
We had a busy, but delightful weekend. Amongst prepping our bathrooms for renovations, we spent some time on a very important cause that is near and dear to our hearts. 

But before I get to that, I want to share a project I quickly whipped up on the weekend. Because, after all, I am sure you've visited today to see something creative, and the rest of my post is very much about something entirely different :) 

This little number is a quick and shabby card I have made to add to my Etsy shoppe.
It's piled high with shabby ribbons, lace, burlap...Textures to warm the heart and soothe the soul.

Touches of vintage fabric and crinkled ribbon...With stamped stitches and glittered bits all about.

Hearts, houses and sequins...Oh so many pretty, pretty things on this card that remind me of my childhood, crafting with my grams, and all the happy memories that we create in our homes.

I used the beautiful Papertrey Ink Love Lives Here stamps and dies for this project, along with stitch stamps from Precious Remembrance.

While on the topic of home and heart...There has been something that I've wanted to write about for a while now. Something that I think is an important topic in the heart of our homes, that unfortunately, many of us (including me), continue to pass on because we are all  so busy and life gets to be too hectic at times.

If you're up for a long read, I've finally posted all about it just below....

~A Long Time Coming...~

I've always considered myself (and my entire family, for that matter) to have a rather healthy lifestyle, including a well-balanced diet, which consists of nutritious (and delicious!) food. Food has always been a rather important and significant part of our heritage, and I take great pride in how I prepare my meals. My love of cooking extends beyond preparing it and sharing it with loved ones, and even beyond the thrills of testing new recipes...I love food for the simple fact that it fascinates me. The properties of food - the way it can be prepared, mixed, and artistically presented - is but a small reason of my love. I also love learning about nutrition and I am fascinated with the implications of poor nutrition and how much of everything we are (how we think, feel, act, grow) is tied directly to what we put into our mouths.

I don't know about you, but I like knowing where my food comes from. Like these beautiful mussels, caught by our fisherman friends and delivered fresh to our doorstep that morning in Croatia...

Or this gorgeous squid and beautiful prawns...

Before I moved to Canada, we had a diet rich in local and sustainably sourced seafood, fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes and very few refined and processed foods. In fact, I had never seen frozen vegetables sold in a supermarket. Nor frozen fish, or meat...I had never seen apples with such shiny and perfect skin...For our elders used to say, an apple that has a worm in it is a good apple, because if the worm will eat it, it's got to be good enough for us too!
{plus a little extra protein never hurt anyone, right?}

We bought fresh fruits and veggies, cheese and meat at the market every day. Or if we were up for an adventure, we'd just pick it ourselves :)

Everything else was prepared at home. Many also made their own meats, and cheese, along with preserving food for the winter, such as our local and delicious olives, pickled vegetables, and so many canned jams, juices and a favorite vegetable spread of mine, ajvar.

Every autumn, the smell of roasted red peppers would permeate the streets of our city, as everyone would be preparing for the winter. In the Spring, you could not help but feel intoxicated by smells of the blossoming fruit trees, and summertime, was my favorite, as we would venture out into the woods and pick wild berries. Forrest berries (especially wild strawberries) were a 1/4 inch in diameter at best, but with the flavor and fragrant scent no supermarket, super-sized berries can match today.

We would pick natural and wild plants and herbs as well, like nettlesquinceselderflower, and even dandelion greens for fresh salads, and the beautiful yellow flowers, which make the most delicious honey.

I had not heard of genetically modified foods until our move - like seedless anything. Grapes, watermelons, cucumbers all came with seeds, and plenty of them, straight from the villages and farms in the surrounding areas.

But the best part was that you could literally see where your food came from.
Like this DIY awning full of yummy grapes.

Before I go on, I must get something off my chest, and promise that his in not just another pretentious, self-righteous post about nutrition. I have to let you know that I am just as much of a fan of modern-day conveniences as anyone else. I am fascinated with how the world has adapted to the current food demands, and countries that are not blessed with such a temperate climate, can now enjoy fruits and vegetables year round, for very reasonable prices.

Everything we could ever need is right at our fingertips, and I am so grateful. I also have tremendous respect for human resourcefulness and how it has made modern-day life easier for so many.

But I do also believe that as with everything else, if it is too good to be true, it probably is.

Nonetheless, I have to let you in on a little secret. Even though I spent the majority of my childhood eating a healthful diet, it was largely due to the accessibility and circumstances of where I lived. The years since then have been a tremulous journey of trying to once again achieve nutritional balance and attain a lifestyle that is as healthy as possible. 

Let me be the first to say that if you ask me how many days in a week I opt for a quick and easy solution when 5 pm strikes the clock, sadly my answer is rather disappointing. Especially for a self-proclaimed foodie, such as myself.

But are we all not feeling like food is sometimes the last thing to worry about when work is stressful, family life has us so busy running around trying to make it to every swim meet, parent-teacher interview, play-date, and not to mention all the other life stuff that piles on top?

The truth is, good eating habits and proper nutrition take time. Time to educate oneself about the healthful benefits and our daily requirements of particular nutrients, the differences between certain foods at a molecular level and what it means to our overall health, the time to purchase and prepare whole foods (ones that are preferably organic, sustain-ably grown, and fresh - which, you guessed it- also takes some time and research), and lastly, the time to learn new (or old) recipes and how to add these new foods to ones everyday repertoire.

{My grams teaching me how to make our family's traditional burek}

For years, hubby and I have had a desire to make some lifestyle changes and to live a more healthful life. Firstly, starting with our diet, and then moving our way up. 

In the back of my mind, thoughts about animal cruelty, sustainability, the environment, amongst other things, crept in, too.

We just never had the time. Or did we? Rather, as I see it now, maybe we didn't make the time.
Nutrition is a necessity of our lives. For nothing is quite as important as what we put into our bodies.

For our home, nutrition is no longer a "when I get to it" issue, rather it now implies a "this takes priority" approach.

All of the knowledge, desire, research and years of ambition just sort of piled up, until we were ready. We read and watched a few very interesting and eye-opening documentaries/research papers on the topic of vegan-ism, our food industry standards (or should I better say, lack thereof) which are impacting our health and environment, the staggering (and frightening) rise in chronic illnesses, which is directly tied to poor food choices, etc, etc, etc...

Amongst the research, we watched a good half or so of the documentary, Vegucated. I wish I had been able to watch it to the end, but the truth is, I was so disgusted and so emotionally distraught by it, that I couldn't even finish the hour plus something documentary. 

Why, you might ask? At the risk of sounding preacher-like, and instead of trying to paraphrase the entire documentary, I urge you to check it out and see for yourself. 

We spent some time reading over research and watching other documentaries, such as Hungry for Change, Food MattersDan Barber's Ted Talk, How I Fell in Love with a Fish, and so, so many others. It's amazing how accessible all of this information is, if you only look for it. 

Anyway, after our long and rather emotionally-turbulent weekend, we came up with a plan. And let's be honest, we wanted to be as realistic as possible from the start, because we knew our success would hinge upon it. 

So we thought: why not promote healthy eating, reaping the benefits of predominantly vegan diet, especially when no humanely available animal products are within our reach, all the while supporting more local businesses as opposed to factory farms, reducing harmful pesticide laden or processed food, reducing the consumption of the three white evils (sugar, salt, and white flour), among a long list of other culprits, and promoting going back to our roots, when whole foods took center stage?

We are not sure what to call our new way of eating just yet - all that I can say is that it's a new kind of healthy. 

Albeit a little too soon to tell, after four days of our new habits, we both feel uplifted, more energized and hydrated, less bloated, and generally healthier. And the best part - the snack monster has entirely disappeared from my life! I am not constantly hungry for sugary and salty snacks during the wee hours of the night :) 

So to embark on our new adventure, we decided to rid of all the old and replace with new, shiny, beautiful organic vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, grains, flours, and so much more yummy and healthy stuff. The best part? Our grocery bill was about half of what it normally is, without the expense of large packages of meat, cheese, and other items as such. Who said eating healthy has to be expensive? 

Just look at our newly stocked fridge...So many wonderful possibilities lie in here...

Still a few items to phase out, but we are slowly making our way...

Sure, healthy eating requires time more than anything, but with modern-day conveniences, a few extra hours spent per week preparing meals ahead of time surely can't be the only thing that's keeping us from healthy eating.

So, with a glum and rainy Saturday in hand, we spent much of the day re-organizing our kitchen, and preparing meals, using some of the wonderful gadgets in our kitchen, like our juicer and blender, which we are so happy we invested into.

I made a delicious leek, potato, mushroom and zucchini soup, as well as a lentil stew, followed by checking off a culinary bucket-list item the next day - making the hundred-ingredient, super time-consuming, Mexican Mole, to keep in our fridge and freezer for those not-so-inspired cooking days that require a little extra pick-me-up.

We found some local ingredients, and others we had to source from our Mexican mini market.
But we tried as much as we could to ensure that as few of the items were processed as possible.

Sunday for lunch, we enjoyed a grilled cauliflower salad, dressed with crunchy walnuts and soybeans, with scallions, capers, and a garlicky olive oil dressing. 

Sunday night, homemade tortillas with homemade Mole-marinated local fish, and a rustic home style tomatillo salsa.

It was some of the most delicious food I have had in my life. And I think half of the deliciousness came from the pride that we felt in taking charge of our diet. Whatever the reason may be, it is enough to keep us going on this path.

Our goal at the moment is to try a month of this and hopefully settle into a new routine. They say it takes 28 days to break a habit...

4 days and counting :)

In the meanwhile, I hope to share more tidbits about our new lifestyle and maybe a few recipes, too. I hope that by sharing my story, others will join in the discussion and offer up tips, advice and information....And recipes!

Please send me your recipes :) The more exotic, challenging, and nutritious - the better.

I am so excited about our new healthy lifestyle, and only hope to infect other parts of my life with this new-found motivation. 

I wish you all a wonderful *and healthy* week, 



  1. Congrats on your choices! I wish you the best!~
    [The leek & potato soup looked delicious!]
    Ivana, I will understand if you chose not to post this
    comment, (really!)
    but I wanted to say (as a Christian) - In the beginning,
    God put us in a garden!
    and told us that would be our meat; our life sustenance~
    Everything we need for health; and nothing we don't!
    Anyway, Thanks for sharing your story -
    AND the card too! Very very pretty!!

  2. Beautiful card ... I love all the pretty layers and that burlap ...

    Best of luck and all credit to you for your lifestyle change ... You were fortunate to be brought up in such a place where fresh fruits etc., were available but more than that ... you had people to teach you. Unfortunately here in the UK I find that no one is taught anymore ... kids have kids and know no better despite the vast amount of cookery programs. Hence the population is obese ... Cookery was even taken off the school lessons ... It's sad
    Have a good week ...

  3. So, how is it going a month along? You must feel sensational! Power to you, Ivana xx


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