Growing up in the grand ole state of Texas, my diet consisted primarily of beef, dairy, casseroles, and baked goods. I thought guacamole came from a packet of powder that you mixed with water. Vegetables came from a can or a freezer bag. I had never had hummus, avocado, Thai food, or brown rice. I didn't know what gluten or Vegan meant. I had heard myths of Vegetarians or Lactose-Intolerant people existing, but like Sasquatch, had never actually caught sight of one. My brain wouldn't have been able to comprehend cheese coming from cashews or milk from rice. Most of my meals came from a drive-thru or a mircowave tray.
Five years ago I moved to California, and was exposed to a world of organic, free-range, fresh foods. I explored Farmer's Markets, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe's. I learned how to use a rice cooker and how to steam vegetables. I introduced edamame, tofu, and kale to my vocabulary and my palate. I stopped microwaving things. I fell in love with Thai, Mediterranean, hummus, Agave, and goat cheeses. I traded in Guiness, Bud Light, and Keystone for Fat Tire, Stella, and PBR. I still ate a LOT of dairy and baked goods. I went home to Texas for barbeque every chance I had.
I used to plan my trips home based on what and when I would eat. Breakfast at Cracker Barrel, followed by lunch at La Madeline's, topped off with dinner at Spring Creek Barbeque. I planned my life around The Texas State Fair and made sure I would be home during the winter months when Blue Bell puts out its peppermint ice cream. Life was simple. Life was grand. Life was about to take a backflip.
After I was diagnosed, I didn't go back to Texas for two whole years. Why bother? I wasn't allowed to eat anything! My sister had to go and get pregnant to get me to come back. Smart move, Sis! Oh, and there was that whole recovering from surgery thing, too...
While I was home for nearly three weeks, I was certain I would starve to death or be living on almonds and carrots which is usually what happens when I travel. This time, I learned a Whole Foods has opened near where my parents live, so we took a family excursion over there. Minds and wallets were blown, interesting stocking stuffers for the whole family were acquired, and Bren-friendly food was found. My Mama made it her mission to ensure I wouldn't starve, bringing me something to eat approximately every 27 minutes:
Fried egg, bok choy, tomato, brown rice, black beans with corn
Rice crackers, cucumber, hummus
Black beans and corn, chicken, rice noodles
And of course, there were the pancakes that she perfected the recipe for!
She even packed my lunch when a friend picked me up so I could visit another friend in the hospital. (That's almond butter in the container, btw)
I was even so nice as to decorate cookies for my family, (while elevating my foot, no small feat). I think my tears added something extra special to the taste.
Much to my surprise, Texas and my Mama did me well.