Let’s face it Mexico City (known as CDMX = Ciudad de México) has a mixed reputation. Some people identify it with scary kidnappings, drug crime, corruption, pollution, traffic, and dirtiness while others see it as a business hub with deep cultural roots, beautiful architecture, iconic artwork, and world class cuisine.
I like stability and routines and mostly eat the same things over and over until I find a new obsession so I’m ok with being a creature of habit….however, the pandemic lockdowns have me feeling like it’s Groundhog Day on steroids. Everyday is a repeat! The same schedule, the same handful of foods, the same scenery….day after day after day!!! The time melts together into one long blur.
San Pancho, sometimes called San Fransisco, is a quaint beach town 50 minutes North of Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. You won’t find grand hotels or all-inclusive resorts there but you will find a long crescent beach, lively main street, a handful of creative restaurants, boutique lodging, and plenty of local charm. To me, San Pancho feels like Mexico was 20 years ago.
One of the best things that has happened during the Covid Pandemic shutdowns is the regeneration and healing of “touristic” places. Venice’s canals are now clean and clear, coral reefs are returning underwater, wild animals are creeping back into urban areas, wild flamingo populations have expanded, and majestic whales are less stressed and more communicative with reduced shipping noise and traffic. These restorations make me so happy!! On the flip side, traveling has come to a screeching halt. All the major trips I planned in 2020 got cancelled and my heart sank with each disappointment. Without travel, I can fall into a rut and feel depressed. I had to balance my own needs with the heavy restrictions so I planned a few jaunts to Mexico!
Americans are obsessed with hygiene!! “Embracing cleanliness became a patriotic duty for Americans during the Civil War ….and by the 1920’s personal fastidiousness became an American obsession.” (source). The global pandemic is escalating our cultural OCD and Americans are cleaning and disinfecting more fervently than ever (try finding 409 these days)!! But, as the pandemic goes on, what are we doing about our emotional hygiene? Alcoholism, anxiety, depression, domestic violence, and suicide rates are rising as a result of feeling isolated, angry, lonely, and helpless with many things out of our control. So how can we help ourselves emotionally?
On a warm summer evening in Durango, Colorado, I sipped mojitos on the back deck of my friend’s home overlooking a den of pines. Not only is she an amazing cook, but she surprised me with vegan grilled vegetables, these Killer Vegan Black Beans and guacamole! I feasted on handmade tacos until we ran out of tortillas. The beans were so delish, I needed the recipe.
I was born with an adventurous spirit and each year I honor it by flying somewhere fun and exotic for my birthday. However, with the Covid lockdowns around the world, flying was not possible!!! I pondered this and thought, “Well, I CAN’T fly in an airplane for my birthday – but I CAN jump from one”….So, I went SKYDIVING. I love experiencing things (even though I am typically terrified) and it’s not everyday you get to jump out of an airplane at 13,000 feet. Plus….it’s one gift I won’t have to return (LOL).
For the entire week of my husband’s birthday, he went “vegan”. I cooked a lot of delicious meals for him but went BIG for the grand finale! I opted to surprise him with these amazing vegan gluten-free chocolate cupcakes. They were the perfect birthday treat. Not only did they taste heavenly, but they were beautiful to boot. Now, I usually bake “healthier treats” so even though these are gluten free they are FULL SUGAR… and I was pushed OUTSIDE MY COMFORT ZONE!! I quickly rationalized that it’s ok to splurge on birthdays which allowed me to fully enjoy each rich, chocolaty bite!!!
Mammoth in California’s Sierra Mountains is best known as ski resort for California winters but it also has an abundance of summer activities like hiking, fishing, camping, mountain biking and horse back riding. Until last summer, we hadn’t been to Mammoth in over ten years, but this year we’ve visited three times already. The beauty of the mountains is awe-inspiring but we keep discovering great restaurants, excellent beer and delicious coffee (with plant milk options). Despite having car trouble (every time we go – ugghh), we’ve developed a fondness for Mammoth.
I’m eating two of these small batch flourless (GF) vegan chocolate chip peanut butter cookies as I write this and appreciating how rich and chewy they are. It’s impossible to eat just one (trust me….I’ve tried). My husband says the are decadent like a “brownie-cookie”. Sounds good no?
Unlike some vegan, GF cookies, which are crumbly or taste like cardboard, these delicious treats TASTE sinful but secretly use healthier ingredients like GF oats, unsweetened dried coconut, and peanut only – peanut butter while omitting oil, flour, eggs, and dairy altogether. They also avoid highly processed ingredients like soy lecithin, palm oil, etc.