Hi and welcome to Cécilado!
[I’m the one with the short hair.] Hey everyone, my name is Cécile and I am 25. I was born and raised French while spending most of my childhood in the USA. Just before my 18th birthday I left the nest to study law in Paris. That didn’t really work out (although I absolutely loved living the Parisian life!), so the next year I went to study environmental geography in Montreal, Canada. I spent about six years there, but now I am back home…just outside Washington DC.
I’ve always thought that my “problem” was that I was interested in too many different things, which made it impossible for me to choose one specific path. But today, I realize that this is just who I am – it’s neither positive or negative, it just is. What can I say, I’m a very curious person who loves knowledge! When I was younger, my favorite thing to do at a restaurant was to eavesdrop on the neighboring table’s conversation and try to figure out their lives. Like a detective. It would drive nuts my family because I was more interested in what complete strangers had to say than my relatives’ discussions. Today I am still fascinated by people and understanding their lives, their thought process, their emotions…but I am also more generally interested by cultures as a whole. This is why my dream is to travel: buy a one-way ticket to somewhere far and embark on a one-year trip around the world! I strongly believe that travelling is one of the most enriching experience anyone can have. It leads to personal growth, a more open mind and the realization that we are all One – regardless of gender, color, race, origin and personal beliefs. Hopefully this dream of mine lays not too far along the road…
In the mean time, I will dedicate my spare time on my other passions and hobbies: yoga, cooking, photography, reading, jogging, swimming, writing and learning. I discovered yoga about a year and half ago and, although I still consider myself a “beginner”, I have become addicted to its power to heal both the mind and the body. My objective for this year is to learn meditation, through which I hope to acquire more self-discipline and a calmer mind. Although I feel like I could say much more about myself, I should probably save it for later.
About… My dietary transition:
Growing up in a French house, I used to love everything and anything that was cheese, duck, foie gras, saucisson, baguette, steak tartare, croissants and all creamy, rich pastries! In January 2013, coming back from Christmas holidays spent in France with my family, I decided I would challenge myself to be 100% vegetarian for an entire month. What pushed me to do this was: a) eating wayyyy too much over the break, and b) a class project whereby I had to keep a carbon footprint diary of all my activities, including my food consumption. This exercise was one of the best learning experience throughout my entire university program! It made me realize the huge amount of CO2 emissions that were directly and indirectly linked to the meat industry, and how I was contributing to these carbon emissions simply through my choice of the food I ate. I had always thought of myself of being conscientious of the environment (riding my bike or taking public transportation, recycling, take short showers), but my carbon footprint revealed I could do a whole lot better!
So for the entire month of February (I guess I made it easy for me, choosing the shortest month of the year :s) I became vegetarian. I remember approaching this challenge as a game and have fun with it: looking up recipes online and discovering all these cool blogs, stacking up my grocery bag with veggies I had never cooked with, trying out new restaurants that catered to a vegetarian clientele, etc. At the end of the month I realized I didn’t miss meat at all, felt much more energized and just happier about my choices in regards to my environmental impact! I decided to stick to this diet, while still indulging in the occasional salmon filet.
Fast-forward to June 2013… I went home to get surgery the shoulder I had previously dislocated. During the period of convalescence I felt pretty useless and bored – not being able to use your entire right arm when you are right-handed turns out to be a big handicap – so I decided to spice things up and start a vegan challenge. I had a lot of time on my hand so I spent many hours searching for recipes on various blogs I would discover as I went. I got my mom to help me with the cooking as I was very limited in my chopping, tossing and stirring movements! By the time my physical therapy was over and I was on a plane off to the spend the rest of the summer in France, I felt even more wonderful then at the end of my previous challenge. What amazed me the most was how fun and creative it was to build plant-based recipes. There are endless possibilities when it comes to combining flavors, colors, textures, and shapes in the veggie world! And that was it for me. I decided that upon my return from France and back to Canada, I would be as vegan as possible.
About… My struggles:
The semester (Fall 2013) I switched to a plant-based diet proved to be difficult. On one hand I was under a lot of pressure with my studies; on the other I was under-nourishing my body and exercising a lot. I didn’t know enough about this new way of eating and I was lacking proteins and healthy fats. This put my body under even more stress and I lost a lot of weight. I remember coming home for Christmas break that year and my family being very concerned. Even though they had my best interest at heart, I don’t think their approach was a very sensible one. I felt attacked. And my defense was to claim that I was doing this for the sake of the environment and that they simply just didn’t understand. The truth is, when I looked in the mirror, I didn’t find myself too skinny. I thought I had reached my ideal size and didn’t want to gain weight. I didn’t realize it then, but I was border-edge anorexic. I would plan the time of each of my meal, telling myself I couldn’t eat anything in between. I would eat very small portions and my dinners often consisted of all-raw veggies, hummus, a few nuts and a handful of gluten-free crackers. This was very unhealthy, even though I was convinced of the opposite. Eventually I had a burnout and became very depressed… This was during the Winter semester of 2014. At this point I began to try and numb my negative thoughts and sorrow by binge eating. I basically went from being anorexic to bulimic. This was a very dark period of my life but I now know that many young girls (and boys) suffer the way I did. When you’re deep in the hole you don’t realize that, so you try to hide your pain and pretend like everything is fine. I want to encourage anyone reading this and dealing with a similar issue to reach out for help, and to realize that they are not alone.
While I feel so much better now, I still struggle with dealing with my emotions in a non-impulsive way and not let my negative thoughts take the best of me. I think I was pretty deeply scarred and it will take a while to completely recover. The mere fact of letting this out in the open is a relief. I don’t want to hide and pretend anymore. Not only has my mind been traumatized, but so has my body. This is why I wish to embark on a healing path of being gentle and understanding towards myself. I am my worst enemy, but I know that I will never be truly happy if I don’t nourish my body with love – through kindness, as well as through wholesome foo. Although this all very personal, I hope that it will make you understand that this blog is not just about sharing recipes but about something deeper… a journey to a happy and healthy life!
About… My philosophy:
I always thought I gave really good advice to others but could never follow them myself. In a similar manner, although my actions do not always mimic my beliefs, I hold a strong opinion on the benefits of a plant-based diet. My intention is to show those of you who are still skeptical that a plant-based way of eating is neither plain and boring, nor complicated. In fact, it is quite the opposite! I also want to insist on the fact that it would never occur to me to judge or criticize people who have different lifestyles and beliefs – my entire family still eats meat on a regular basis! I strongly believe that the plant-based community is an open one that has always room for more. If you can add as much as one more vegetable on your plate today, then I consider that a victory. There is so much pressure today about how we look and if we are “healthy” or not, that it drives people to the extremes: either being so strict about comes through your mouth that the body is deprived of nutrients, or devouring cookies and ice cream in order to numb the pain and all the negative emotions. Like anything and everything in life, we should aim for balance. At least that’s what I aim for. Don’t feel guilty for the occasional indulgence, but don’t restrict yourself either. I think you will definitely be happier with more veggies in your life, but it’s okay if they come alongside a (lean) piece of steak! On a final and cheesy note I just want to add that your body truly is your temple, so the best investment you could make for your future self is to respect and nourish it well today.
Now that you know (a lot) more about me, you might understand why Cécilado is a sacred place I hope to build for myself. This is where I can express myself… my creativity, my opinions, my moods, and more importantly my love for nutritious food. I find writing to be quite therapeutic and my desire is to keep Cécilado an open and accessible space. The recipes here are very simple, easy-to-make and all come from my imagination. Of course I find inspiration elsewhere, but when it comes to cooking I mainly follow my heart and intuition! All recipe are made with whole ingredients, all plant-based and most free of gluten. If you ever have any feedback, questions or suggestions please don’t hésitante to ask away!