Smoothie Heaven

I have a confession….I love ice cream.  Love, love, love ice cream.  Give it to me in a bowl, in a cone or in a milkshake and I’m at my happiest.  Now that I’m transitioning to a plant based diet, regrettably the only non-dairy ice cream I can find in Jamaica is soy based.  Given my current condition, I’d prefer to stay away from soy products as much as possible, so no luck on the ice cream front 😦

The ice cream cravings haven’t gone away so I set out on a mission to come up with the next best thing…vegan smoothies that would fake me out into thinking that I’m drinking an ice-creamy milkshake.  I’m happy to report that this weekend’s experiment was a success. I’ve come up with two winners – Blueberry Almond & Chocolate Strawberry.  Both have a few things in common….frozen bananas, almond butter and almond milk.  I actually used dried berries in both because I refuse to buy the super expensive imported fresh berries on the market here.  Feel free to substitute with fresh or frozen berries.  Right now I’m staying away from refined sugars, so I threw in dried dates for some sweetness.  Its perfectly fine to sweeten by adding up to a tablespoon of maple syrup, agave or honey (bearing in mind that honey takes it out of the vegan realm).

They both turned out creamy and delicious.  Can you say milkshake craving satisfied!!  Can’t wait to try my hand at other flavour combinations.  Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Blueberry Almond Smoothie  (serves 1)

Ingredients: 1/3 cup dried blueberries, 1 frozen banana, 3/4 cup almond milk, 1 tablespoon almond butter, 1 tablespoon flaxseed meal, 2 dates & 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.  Toppings – dried blueberries, cacao nibs & hemp seed hearts


Chocolate Strawberry Smoothie (serves 1)

Ingredients:  1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa, 1/3 cup dried strawberries, 1 frozen banana, 3/4 cup almond milk, 1 tablespoon almond butter, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, 2 dates & 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.  Toppings – dried strawberries, cacao nibs, sliced almonds


Method – Blitz ingredients with 4-5 cubes of ice in a high speed blender until well combined and smooth.  Garnish with toppings and enjoy!

My Aha Moment

Tuesday October 17, 2017 . . . . .the day my life changed forever.  The day I read the words INVASIVE DUCTAL CARCINOMA.  I sat in the car for what seemed like an hour just staring at the words…..INVASIVE DUCTAL CARCINOMA.  Finally, after 4 agonizing weeks I knew.  Truth is, deep down I knew it from the very day I felt the lump coming out of the shower.  That day when my hand brushed across my right breast and stopped on something hard, I instinctively knew it was the ‘BIG C’.

I spent the next few weeks getting really intimate with the folks at Radiology West…first the mammogram, then the ultra sound and finally a needle biopsy.  Thanks to a resourceful friend I was able to get the 3 tests done within a 5-day span, but then came the wait, 3 whole weeks.  Not enough pathologists in Montego Bay meant I had no choice but to wait.  While I waited, I read. Read everything I could get my hands on as it relates to cancer.  Google became my best friend.  Cancer feeds on sugar, cancer flourishes in stress, body needs to be in an alkaline state to ward off disease.  By October 17th, I had cut just about everything from my diet…..sugar, rice, flour, dairy, all meat except fish once or twice a week.  All the things I had tried to purge myself of over the last 3 years, I quit cold turkey in just 3 weeks.

Turns out my body had become a perfect storm, the perfect storm for cancer to form in her midst.  I wasn’t putting the right things in it, simply put too much sugar and I internalized my stress.  So here I was in the middle of starting a new business, not making enough money to make ends meet, no health insurance, now contemplating how to deal with a potential cancer diagnosis.  It made no sense to panic.  The only thing that made sense in that moment was to take charge of the one thing I could control…what I put in my mouth, what I fed my body.  By the time I met with a surgeon on October 19th I had lost 5 lbs.  I remember joking with my 2 girlfriends who tagged along for that first consultation that there was a least one silver lining in this whole thing….weight loss.  LOL, haffi tek serious ting mek joke.

With the help of my tribe, I ate and laughed my way to December 12th (surgery day), the day the fight with the big C officially began.  The day I said ‘Bye bye’ to my right breast, the day I sent her packing.

Girlies Pre Op

Lisa & Jilly saying goodbye to my right breast pre-op!

This fight is by no means over, its really just begun.  The important thing is I AM HERE, now 26 lbs and one breast lighter 😉, armoured up, bolstered by my tribe and READY FOR THE FIGHT AHEAD.  I’ve struggled with whether to keep my battle with cancer private.  Over the last 2 months I’ve connected with a number of women who walked this same path and their insight has been priceless.  On the urging of my sister and close friends I’ve decided to chronicle this journey in the hope that it will help even one person who may face this same battle.

Tina & Ayah Pre Op

Tina with sister Ayah just before surgery….and yes that’s bright red lipstick 😉

So here we are in 2018 and I am thankful for my tribe who have held me up, prayed with me, laughed with me, cried with me, sponge-bathed me 😉. I am thankful for life and strange as it may sound, I am thankful for cancer.  Cancer forced me to face some hard truths about myself, brought me closer to a healthier me. Not to worry though, I am ready to see cancer’s back so happy to send it packing like I’ve done with 2017, not welcome around here no more…..