Vegan Salt –the blog

{August 8, 2011}   Taking on Candida!

My current adventure, like countless others in this world, began in a second-hand bookshop.  Last week, I was browsing the shelves, picking out a few novels and philosophical essays, when an enormous medical reference book caught my eye. Optimal Digestive Health: A Complete Guide.

Complete! For ten dollars, how could I go wrong? I purchased it and presented it to my husband, who has suffered from undiagnosed, chronic digestive problems for about eight years.

That evening, as I read mindless teen fiction (a guilty pleasure), he browsed the book, flipping back and forth, intent on his research. At last he said, “I think I have candida.”

Candidiasis is an imbalance of yeast in the body, primarily in the gut, usually brought about by prolonged stress, use of antibacterial drugs, use of birth control pills, or a high-carb or high-sugar diet. Although my husband has none of the surface symptoms, internally, it all adds up. Even the foods he’s learned by trial and error to avoid (like sweets, gluten, and starches) are on the list of candida aggravators.  It all suddenly made sense! The two of us spent the next several days reading everything we could find on candida.

I read that when women have persistent candida, one of the most telling clues is recurring vaginal yeast infections. Unfortunately, when men suffer from candida, it can remain in the digestive tract for years, and from there it spreads to the heart, liver, and kidneys. Yikes!

Even if the long-term complications didn’t include heart attacks, asthma, leaky gut syndrome, depression, fibromyalgia, multiple sclerosis, arthritis and cancer, we would be impatient to start him on an anti-candida diet, just to relieve his suffering.

It didn’t take me long to decide that I would undertake this dietary change with him. It’s easier to stick with a restrictive diet if the whole household does it together. Besides, according to one source, as many as one third of people suffer from candida. (Even if I’m not among them, I know I feel better when I eat a cleaner diet.) Symptoms of candidiasis include sugar cravings, fatigue, foggy-headedness, acne, PMS, anxiety, and a white coating on the tongue. Yes, I said sugar cravings are a symptom of a highly dangerous illness. But the good news is that it’s treatable by nutrition. My husband and I will be doing this together, and I’ll be posting recipes as we go along.

This is a very. strict. diet.

Note: We aren’t directly following the advice of any particular anti-candida expert or book. Instead we’ve pieced together an anti-candida diet that most of our hurried research seems to agree on, and what works for us. For starters, we’re remaining fully vegan, of course, which only eliminates eggs, cow milk yogurt and kefir from the Accepted Foods list. All other animal products are already off limits on most anti-candida diets. No loss there!

Forbidden foods include, but are not limited to:

  • All animal products (that’s the easy part)
  • Sugar: This means sugar, sugar cane, evaporated cane juice, honey, agave, maple syrup, rice syrup, dextrose, sucrose, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial sweeteners. (Except Stevia.)
  • Gluten and Starch: No wheat, barley, rye, rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes or corn.
  • Alcohol: Not even an occasional glass of organic vegan wine. Nope.
  • Caffeine: No coffee, no black or green teas.
  • Fermented or Yeasty foods: No breads, pickles, vinegar (except raw apple cider vinegar), mustard, tempeh, soy sauce, and no mushrooms, since they’re a fungus.

And here’s the heartbreaking kicker:

  • FRUIT: No fruit juice, no dried fruit, no fresh fruit except citrus fruits and berries.

What we can still have:

  • Vegetables: Anything but corn or potatoes. Tomatoes and carrots cannot be cooked.
  • Some Fruit: Lemons, limes, grapefruit, oranges, and berries. No juice.
  • Liquids: Almond, coconut, or soy milk (unsweetened). Herbal teas. (Edit to add: non-sweet fruit juices, such as pure cranberry or pomegranate juice. Kombucha!!)
  • Beans and Lentils: Pretty much anything goes here.
  • Nuts and Seeds: Anything except peanuts, so no peanut butter either. Tahini (sesame paste) is a go!
  • Other: Tofu, quinoa, hummus, plain vegan yogurt, and basically any herbs and spices.

Best foods to fight candida:

  • Raw garlic
  • Lemon
  • Fresh ginger
  • Yogurt and probiotics
  • Green vegetables like broccoli, kale and spinach
  • Raw apple cider vinegar, according to some

So far, we’re just two days into this, and still struggling to eliminate fruit and sugar (my shortcomings) and coffee (his). We’re both going through typical detox symptoms of headaches, fatigue, and in my case, serious fruit cravings. But we’re managing to find things to eat, and hopefully the detox stage won’t last too long. At the end of this adventure, whether it lasts a month or a year, I anticipate that we’ll feel healthier than ever, and we’ll have a bunch of gluten-free, sugar-free recipes figured out.

If you have overcome candida, particularly as a vegan, I would love to hear how you did it, how long it took, and what your favorite candida diet recipes are!


{January 5, 2011}   The Best Posts of 2010

We’re just one week into 2011.  It still has that shiny, new year smell!   But I’m telling you, it’s definite: this year will the the Best Year Ever.  I started Vegan Salt a little over a year ago, so that milestone combined with the threshold of a brand new year have had me looking back over 2010, my first year of vegan blogging.

This year I discovered how to make food taste like eggs with a ridiculously affordable Indian spice (and had my site linked to by a Wikipedia article as a result).  I met Natala of, a passionate, inspiring vegan and a very fun woman.  I guest blogged for The Blissful Chef about how I used to have IBS, and I celebrated my fourth veganniversary.  In 2010 I blogged a little more than once a week on average, and uploaded about 5 photos per week, mostly of tasty vegan food.  Maybe you haven’t known me for that long, and don’t want to read all 55 posts.  Well, you’re in luck.  Here’s a recap of the year’s best!

Most Viewed: Tyler Durden vs. The Vegan Police -my take on the “how vegan is vegan enough” question, and those few vegans who devote their time to criticizing the rest of us.  This post saw a renewed popularity following the release of Scott Pilgrim vs. The World.  Thanks, movie fans!

Most Commented On (Excluding the Tyler Durden post): Food, Guilt, and Self-Loathing -about how my unhealthy relationship with food began in my childhood, and how becoming vegan healed my soul even more than my body.  This was probably the most difficult post for me to write and publish, but also the most rewarding.  The outpouring of sympathy and understanding from my female readers in particular was incredible to experience.

Most Popular Recipe: Chickpea Coconut Curry, which was made and posted by the fantastic Kerry of I Eat Trees, so I have her to thank for its ongoing attention.  (For more Vegan Salt recipes, like Black Bean Burgers, Pesto Pasta, Oven Kale Chips, and Cookie Sheet Apple Pie, just click my recipes category, which I keep in the sidebar.)

Most Frequently Searched For: Vegans Never Get Sick.. -which I really must do a follow-up on, because it turned out I was sick, but not because of the bug that was going around…

Most Admired, Linked to, and Shared by my Readers: Why I’m Vegan, or, Why I’m Not Necessarily a Good Person, or, Making a Deal With The Devil: How to Get More Than a Pair of Socks in Exchange for Your Soul -a beautiful guest post for which I can’t take any credit.  It was offered to me (on condition of anonymity), and when I’d finished crying, I gratefully accepted.

Top 3 Posts I think deserve One More Mention, because they came from my heart, deep in the truly-giving-a-damn-about-animals center, and I meant every single word:

Animals, Schmanimals.  Shouldn’t People Come First? -Vegans get this question frequently, and I think it’s one that deserves a solid and sincere answer.

Puppy Love -Doublethink Exemplified -An essay I wrote as a brand new vegan (over four years ago), about Michael Vick: the unextraordinary omnivore.

Vegan For Life -Veganism is like love.  For some, it’s a struggle.

I’ve been driven to write for most of my life.  If I didn’t have a blog, I’d just be scrawling lists and detached sentences into notebooks or onto scraps of paper.  You, my readers, are the reason I jump into the chaotic ocean that is the internet, and blog.  This project has introduced me to incredible, inspiring people, and it has also brought phrases and ideas out of me that I never would have articulated, or perhaps even formulated, if I didn’t have an audience with whom to interact.  Thank you.

As we plunge into 2011 together, I hope you’ll stay nearby, and comment if you’ve been reading in silence.  Follow me on Twitter if you can’t get enough of me, and on Facebook if you’d rather I kept my mouth shut between blog posts.

….And one more thing.  I’d like to say that I’ll post more frequently this year, that I’ll go to the vegan blogging conference, and create a hundred new recipes for you.  But I have other priorities this year.  I’m marrying my soulmate and best friend this spring!  No, I won’t be blogging all about it, but I’ll probably share a photo,and I’ll almost certainly share photos of the lovely spread of vegan food and wine.  So if I’m a little more preoccupied than usual, just know that it’s in the interest of throwing a fabulous vegan celebration of true love!

I wish you all a year of joy, love, and compassion in 2011.

This discussion forum has been in the works for a while, and when friend from Twitter asked me to activate it, I couldn’t say no!  The forum is primarily for vegans in the Salt Lake area, though anyone is welcome.  (You don’t have to be vegan already to participate, and you don’t have to be in SLC.)  The Vegan Salt Forum is a place where you can meet other vegans, encourage people who are hoping to become vegan, share photos of your animal friends, share the best places for a vegan to eat or shop in SLC, talk about animal rights issues, plan get-togethers, and anything else you can think of.

The only rule is that everyone treat others with respect and keep the forum civil and friendly.  To sign up, register through Ning by entering your email & creating a password.  I’ll make a permanent link to the forum on the right-hand side of the blog, but for now, you can just click on the image above or click right here to start.   Hooray!

It has officially been four years (and a few days) since the day my friend challenged me to become vegan, and I nervously shook on it while chomping on a mouthful of M&M’s.  Four years ago, I was the person who said “I could never be vegan,” and sincerely believed it.  Today, I am celebrating; not with a cake or a party, but by reflecting on where that fork in my life’s road has lead me.  I’m taking a look at what I’ve gained and what I’ve lost because of that day’s decision.  Believe it or not, I’m not celebrating this four-year milestone as an accomplishment. I’m celebrating it as my re-birth-day.

I feel as fortunate to be vegan as I do to be in love.  At the end of April, 2006, I was filled with trepidation at the thought of living without animal products.  Today, I have only gratitude for my friend Andrew, who singled me out as the person who would make the change along with him.  Becoming vegan has been the most liberating action (or rather, series of actions) of my life.  I thought it would be a restriction, and a great act of noble sacrifice on my part.  To my surprise, it ended up setting me free.

Veganism has freed me from disease, from unwanted weight, from fatigue, from narrow-mindedness, from guilt and karmic suffering, from feeling disconnected from my own body, from careless consumerism, and from helplessness.

Veganism has given me compassion, limitless energy, connection to others, awareness of my part in the web of the world, delicious new foods, patience, courage, a heightened sense of taste, spiritual growth, new friendships with inspirational people, a healthy body, improved cooking skills, respect for life, the ability to listen to and trust my own body, and the ability to live in a way that is more consistent with my morals.  Becoming vegan has given me an inner peace I hardly imagined was possible.  Living feels light and simple now.

I struggled at first with veganism.  Like anything worth doing, it took effort. But if I’d only known how incredibly rewarding and joyful it would be, I might not have gone into the transition with a grimace.  I might have done it years earlier, back in high school, when I first met a vegan.

Now that I do know, I want to tell everyone.  You don’t have to worry about raw meat on your cutting board.  You don’t have to justify serving dead animals to your children.  You don’t have to feel guilty about food, or wonder which dietary fads to believe.  You and your family don’t have to live with Type 2 diabetes, or heart disease.  You don’t have to contribute to the number one cause of pollution in the world, and the brutality of an ongoing holocaust of certain species.  You don’t have to close yourself off from nature and the animals you encounter.  You can live with kindness and sympathy and openness. You can get your tastebuds, your intuition, and your health back.  You can look and feel younger and more alive.

To paraphrase my online friend from, being vegan isn’t hard.  What’s hard is that struggle to live and eat with the burdens of disease and guilt every day.  I wish I’d allowed veganism to set me free years ago.  Four years in, estimates put the number of animals I’ve saved by going vegan at four hundred. But honestly, going vegan saved me.

Now if you don’t mind, there’s a friend I have to call up and thank.  Maybe we’ll have some cake after all.

{April 11, 2010}   Hire Me — For Free!

Yes, I’m talking to you!

Maybe you’ve been reading my blog for a while, or following me on Twitter.  You’re interested in becoming vegan but having trouble committing to making the change.  I have good news: you can hire me to be your personal vegan assistant without spending any extra money!  Here’s the idea:

  • You and I figure out what you’re currently spending on food & drinks, right down to vending machines and movie theaters.
  • We work out a transition plan that fits your personality, tastes, and lifestyle.
  • You commit to at least one month and agree to try new foods and learn to cook new recipes.
  • I help you eliminate animal products from your diet and replace them with vegan alternatives and whole plant foods.
  • Since a diet of healthy vegan foods actually costs less than the average non-vegan diet, my payment is the difference.
  • If I can’t provide you with vegan foods & vitamins for less than you’re currently spending, my services are free.
  • Once you feel you’ve transitioned to veganism and are comfortable on your own, the difference, which you were paying me, becomes your ongoing savings!

My services are available only to those in Salt Lake City.  I want to work with you one-on-one, grocery shopping, cooking, whatever it takes. Email me at to arrange a meeting.  You have nothing to lose, and becoming vegan can save your life and the lives of 100 animals every year!

{November 29, 2009}   Upcoming blog here…

This blog will be up and running in December, so check back!  In the meantime, if you’re in SLC and vegan-curious, feel free to email me.

et cetera