Cara Reed of Fork & BeansWelcome to Fork and Beans!

I’m Cara and I truly could not be more excited that you are taking the time to check this place out. My hope in starting this blog was to create a site where people with dietary restrictions will not only feel normal, but find that eating without certain ingredients can still be good.

All of my life, I have struggled with digestive problems. I was always bloated as a kid and complained of stomach pains–I just thought it was normal to feel the way I did. Some days, the discomfort was so unbearable that all I could do was lie in the fetal position without moving for hours.

 

 The symptoms progressed as I got older: 

Acid reflux

Throwing up acid

Bloating/gas

Constipation for days/diarrhea (attractive, right?)

Swollen joints

Brittle nails

Acne (not just any kind, but cystic acne)

Debilitating stomach pains

Headaches

Weakened immune system

Fatigue

Needless to say, I was miserable.  It took me a while to finally say enough is enough, but I am so grateful that I finally decided to go to the doctor in July 2011 and get tested. I was floored when I found out my allergy diagnosis. I had about 12-15 foods that I never knew were actually making me sick, dairy and gluten being at the top of the list.

I was shocked. At that very moment, I watched everything that I had loved and learned up to this point in my life about food, cooking and baking fly out the window.

I grew up eating within the Standard American Diet food groups. I was the poster child for eating processed foods.

(This photo always gets to me. Even at 7 years old, I was already ashamed of showing my body).

McDonald’s knew me by name. So did Coke, Snickers, Doritos and donut shops.  I spent most of my childhood and upwards locked inside of my room, eating and watching tv as my life passed me by. My self-esteem deteriorated. My body and energy levels went with it.  I hid behind baggy clothing and was afraid of my femininity.

I shopped for clothes in the boys’ section and black or anything dark that resembled black was my favorite color.

I wanted nothing more than to lose weight but felt enslaved to food.  I was so unhappy with the way I looked yet felt utterly and completely helpless.

Over the course of a few years I began slowly transitioning out of my poor eating habits, small step by small step, and started to see some of the weight shed along with those bad habits.

At times I did it with an obsessive, crazy diet mentality (which as we all know, never actually lasts or truly changes the way we see food–it only produces a more perverted version of what we once knew).

But then it happened.

In October 2010, after years of taking an internal excavation of my self and rewiring the tapes in my mind, I stopped accepting that I was supposed to eat a certain way and I began to genuinely listen to what MY body was craving.  I actually began eating a mainly plant-based diet at that point because I never really craved meat to begin with and fell in love with vegetables. I found a heaping spoonful of healing with my food issues and I learned to love me.  Eating more fruits and veggies and less processed foods not only made me feel better about myself and my outlook on food, but it also helped me to lose weight:

Now that I have been consistently living this way for the past four years, I want nothing more than to help anyone out who has been in a similar situation as myself. Everyone is accepted here at Fork & Beans! Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, whateverarian, carnivore, gluten-free, or you are simply looking to add more vegetables into your diet, you are in the right place.

I have strived to bring to you some of the tastiest gluten, egg, and dairy-free recipes you can find. I deeply believe that eating allergy-free does not have to be boring, taste bland, nor does it mean you should have to feel left out.

I hope you like what you find here!

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