Those who have eaten a lot of my food tend to use one word to describe it: hearty. It's difficult for me to even concoct a recipe that isn't. In my kitchen, it's just simple problem solving: vegetables? protein? fat? etc. Really all this means is, I always factor in substance. I'm constantly bewildered by people who eat spinach and cucumber salads (pointless! Yeah, I said it..) and expect not to be hungry in an hour. I both don't like feeling hungry, and am hypoglycemic, so I need long-lasting, nutritious food.

So many times, I get questions concerning what I eat. Either confusion by what color my smoothie is (why is it...grey?), or what I actually consume, since gluten, dairy and meat are the pinnacles of the standard American diet. I've gone many ways about answering these questions, all while trying to remain poised and not defensive. I understand the fascination people have, since I, too, looked at food porn after finding out my "gluten-sentence," wishing I had eaten more sourdough bread in my life. It is definitely not the easiest diet to manuever around, but as my mindset always is, difficulty = challenge, and I love challenges.

I began eating this way almost two years ago. Although it makes little sense to others, I became gluten-free and vegan at almost the same time. I had been dabbling with fish, and wasn't ready to give up my greek yogurt, and then BAM. Gluten-free and vegan. It was kind of like....go big or go home? I just thought, I might as well go all the way. Little did I know what would arise from all of this.

All of these problems: the gluten, the dairy, the "moderate" almond intolerances (just, no..) and the like, all stemmed from my very chronic stomach pain. Not until I really decided to find out what was wrong, did I find something else I could never have foreseen. Without getting too sappy for my little anniversary post (no one is actually reading, are they?), I just can't believe what this has all done for me. Never, EVER in a million years did I think I would call myself an "aspiring chef" or "baker" or "food photographer" at any point in my life. This has all come so surprisingly, but it has been quite an excellent journey.

Today, I found out that I am nominated for VegNews 2010 Veggie Awards for Best *Online* Vegan Bakery. I wrote this entire post without knowing that, but somehow it factors into the whole idea of this day. Looking back on what this last year has been, and now, being nominated for something like this is still surreal to me. I am so thankful and yet still so amazed how all of this came about. Either way, I feel like I'm exactly where I should be. Finding out that I can't eat bread and dairy created one of my biggest passions in life: food.

So food, I love you so much. Thank you for existing and being delicious, even without gluten. You are a life-saver.

* PLEASE Vote for all your favorite vegan products and for my online bakery for the VegNews Awards HERE. Thank you everyone for your support and votes! *