What I Ate Wedneday

I decided to do a WIAW (well, Tuesday’s food, but published Wednesday) because I do get questions about my daily eats and about what a person can eat without sugar and who is gluten-free and vegan. This day was not 100% sugar-free but other than the puffins and a bit of crystallized ginger in the bread it was. And it’s fairly typical although some days I do eat less and usually I eat some chocolate.

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While I was cooking my oatmeal, I started out with a small handful of gluten-free puffins, which I rarely have but we usually get one box a month for a treat when we go to Trader Joes. I don’t find they fill me up enough for breakfast though.

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Next up was my oatmeal. I cook my oatmeal with 1/2 cup GF oats (this time it was Bob’s Red Mill since I had a coupon), 1/2 cup So Delicious coconut milk, 1/2 cup water, 1 small sliced apple, cinnamon. Usually I add chia seeds but I forgot this time. When it’s done I add 5 drops Vanilla Creme Sweetleaf Stevia. (as much as I like NuNaturals brand I just love this flavor with my oatmeal and my chai tea.)

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My favorite Chai tea from Trader Joe’s which is from rooibos so it has no caffeine. I add stevia and coconut milk. So Delicious coconut milk does not curdle in hot water.

Next up: lunch. I’m trying to eat more protein so I wanted to make sure I got a good amount in at lunch.

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When I have access to the Food for Life gluten-free wraps (they are at Tj’s), I make a hummus wrap, usually with veggies inside too. A lot of people dislike these wraps but I think if you heat them gently on the stovetop in a nonstick pan, then only fold them in half (not roll or in thirds), they work just fine.

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I made a really quick White Bean and Kale Soup which I will write up the recipe soon. It was filling and warming as the day was so cold. And lots of fiber, veggies, and protein.

Usually I end up eating more snacks in the afternoon but the soup filled me up better so I only had a handful of almonds (unpictured).

We were off to my parents’ for dinner but I made some pumpkin bread to contribute.

My mom is cute and always asks me for recipes so she can make something vegan and gluten-free. We went back to an old favorite of Caldwell Esselstyn’s (of Forks Over Knives fame), a sweet potato and red lentil soup with mushrooms. Thanks, Mom!

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And there was some Beanitos which are nice low carb chips with no corn.

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And salad which I had with just balsamic vinegar. (It’s nice to eat vinegar, I was off it for a year due to medication.)

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And of course for dessert the pumpkin bread which was sugar free and sweetened with partly NuNaturals stevia, part tagatose, and part coconut sugar. And a little crystallized ginger bits. I can post a recipe if you are interested (or even if you aren’t).

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And unpictured small dollop of So Delicious sugar-free coconut ice cream.

Overall nutritionally, a good day. I skipped my chia seeds and coconut oil, so I’ll be sure to add them in this week so it evens out.

And the theme of WIAW is Halloween Treats and Spooky Snacks. The spookiest snack I usually have is when I leave something in the back of the fridge too long. Go read the others if you are interested.

October Vegan Cuts Beauty Box

This weekend I went to Vegfest! It was great but I got so tired form stupid lyme and pain and stuff. Sorry Caturday went uncelebrated, I’ll try to make up for it eventually. If it makes you feel any better my cat gave me a pissy face about it. I have tons of fun food and info from Vegfest which I will get to soon, but first, my monthly Beauty Box review.

Last week I got my Vegan Cuts Beauty Box in the mail. Always a pleasure. Let’s take a look in what I got this month.

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  • Bare Bones face rinse with rosewater. The ingredients in this are very simple and I love rosewater in my beauty products. I love the glass bottle too. It will certainly be re-used.
  • Earth Science Frangrance Free Shampoo and Conditioner: I tend to save these samples for trips or when I go to the gym and I haven’t done much of either lately. So I am hoarding.
  • Lotus Moon Vitamin B Hydrating Gel: I really hope this helps my face as I get very dry skin in the winter.
  • Manic Panic High Voltage Lip Gloss: This was really cool lip gloss as it has a light that activates when you open it and a mirror on the side. My husband told me the color wasn’t his favorite, but I think it’s good to mix it up and have options. Let’s face it, Manic Panic tends to have bold and bright colors.
  • Meow Meow Tweet Bergamot oil: I like getting different oils to try out. Most of them relax me and cover up other smells I dislike. I liked the exotic smell to the Bergamot and that it was non-floral for a change.
  • Concrete Minerals Eyeshadow in Wicked: I don’t tend to wear a lot of eyeshadow but I like to have it around for special occasions. This is a pretty color.
  • The All Natural Face Lip and Cheeks in Dusky Rose: A nice blush that fits well into my purse and isn’t too powdery. Nice to have a non powdery option sometimes. I used a little on my lips and it’s a nice color but I prefer a different application process for lip color.

I noticed other people got a small shampoo from Beauty without Cruelty–which I got last month instead of the lip gloss. I guess there’s some variation in the boxes. To follow-up from last month, I really love the BWC shampoo, I may even switch to it, and the Fanctful Fox soap is almost out and I’m sad, it was so soft and hydrating to my skin. I love that the box introduces me to so many new products and small companies too.

I honestly don’t even wear much makeup so I like the balance of lotions/shampoos/soaps with makeup. But I have been wearing a little more makeup since I’ve had lyme since I think it helps when I look tired. The other side of the coin is that people will say, “Oh you look great!” but let’s face it, no one wants to hear they look like crap. I just tell people I look great despite being ill if they press the issue.

I’m sorry I can’t show the makeup on me, at this point I am too shy to show my face on my blog and I value my privacy.

Thanks Vegan Cuts for another great month!

And a cat in the sink because well, I love cats, and this is stuff I use in the bathroom.

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NuNaturals Stevia Giveaway

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I am happy to present my first giveaway, for a product that I use daily and cannot live without: NuNaturals Stevia. My first into to Nunaturals stevia was on a blog! I didn’t know much about stevia, other than once when I tried the green powder in way too big of a quantity and it overpowered me. Stevia is strong stuff. Just a little goes a long way.

Here are my favorite ways to use stevia:

  • a few drops of flavored stevia (such as lemon or cherry vanilla) in seltzer water
  • in my coconut oil chocolate (about a dropperful)
  • in tea (5-8 drops)
  • in baking along with another sweetener typically
  • stick a packet in my purse for on-the-go

Using stevia is a great option for those of us with lyme, candida, autoimmune issues, or for other reasons must abstain from sugar and other sweeteners. Stevia sweetens without feeding candida or affecting blood sugar.

I have to say NuNaturals is the best stevia for newbies, because it does not have an aftertaste. This is the #1 complaint about stevia! But they figured out a way to balance it out in NuStevia.

NuStevia has generously offered 4 readers to get one bottle of each of the Lemon / Cherry Vanilla / Peppermint Flavored Stevia plus PLUS a 50 packet box of NuStevia White Stevia Powder packets.

If you can’t wait, NuNaturals is offering a discount code on all orders placed on their website :  www.nunaturals.com .

When you get to the checkout page, enter the DISCOUNT CODE ;  BLG1213  and you will receive – 15% DISCOUNT on their ENTIRE ORDER. This discount remains  EFFECTIVE UNTIL  DECEMBER 31, 2013 .

Online ordering customers may also receive FREE SHIPPING to the CONTINENTAL U. S. on all orders exceeding  $ 35.00 after discounts.

CONTEST OPEN WORLDWIDE until November 8th

Enter via the rafflecopter below (I can’t embed it without paying money, so please click on the link, thanks!)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Veggie Tomato Bean Soup

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Growing up my grandmother made soups from scratch, but other people always opened the can. Were they intimidated of making their own soups? Was it due to the idea that meat soups need to simmer all day? Now, being vegan, I know that a simple veggie soup is easy to make in a few hours.

Sometimes I do make my own broth, which is time-consuming, but adds a new depth of flavor. Store-bought broths often have sugar in them, unfortunately. Here’s a soup that relies on herbs and spices and tomato for a nice broth, and can be cooked up in less than an hour.

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Veggie Tomato Bean Soup (gluten-free, sugar-free, vegan)

serves 4-6 people

ingredients:

  • herbs: dried oregano, parsley, chives, thyme, basil (2 tsps approx)
  • 1 large 28 oz can tomatoes, diced, plus liquid
  • 4 cups water (or more as desired thickness)1 large can 25 oz beans (or 3 cups, cooked)–I used kidney but white beans would be nice here too
  • 1 large carrot, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 3 cups diced white or red potatoes, in chunks
  • fresh parsley, 2 Tbsp (optional)
  • 1 red or other colored pepper (not green), diced
  • olive oil
  • 2 tsp salt (or more, to taste)
  • nutritional yeast (optional)

1) Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a soup pot until hot. Add diced onions and sautee until transclucent and slightly brown.

2) Sautee in the carrots, pepper, celery, and potatoes for 3 minutes.

3) Add beans, tomatoes, water, salt, herbs, and bring to a boil.

4) Reduce to a simmer and cook 30 minutes until potatoes are nice and soft.

5) Serve with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast.

Submitting to Wellness Weekend and Healthy Vegan Fridays.

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Enjoy and please let me know if you make it!

Caturday with Tasha

Here I am back with another rescue cat. She’s currently at Lucy Mackenzie Humane Society in Brownsville, VT. I just loved how unique her face was. I don’t feel I did a good job with the black and white contrast as I wanted to. But I am still learning.

Because I wasn’t that thrilled with my cat sketch, here’s a charcoal I did in art class this week of squash.

Speaking of squash I got quite a haul from the farmer’s market and stand today. Only a few more Saturdays left of the market. But the farmstand will be open until Thanksgiving.

Some cranberries, green beans, cucumber, lettuce, squashes, kale, tomato, broccoli, pepper, apples. All local and organic.

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It’s been nice out and I’ve been hanging outside with my dogs. But the downside is there are ticks everywhere. In the past week I’ve found 3 ticks, 2 attached to my dogs and 1 was a nymph deer tick that was crawling on me, hours after I’d come inside. From now on I’m doing a thorough tick check even if I’m only outside a short time.

Be safe! Ticks are bad in the fall due to them loving dead leaves. Here’s a tick ID chart and if you get bitten, here’s a place to mail them to get the tick tested, because it’s much easier to test the tick than your body once infected.

If your cat is interested in being sketched for Caturday, please contact me with a comment or using the contact form. A nice clear picture is required.

What it’s like to have cognitive issues from Lyme Disease

I don’t have the worst cognitive issues that some lymies do…such as losing years of their memories, forgetting how to speak at all, not being able to read at all. Lyme can do that. But I still have issues. Anything that is taken away from me is an issue. And I will fight to get it back.

I was usually a pretty smart person, or so I was told. I had a successful career, graduated with honors in my Master and Bachelor’s program, did extracurricular clubs and had hobbies. I was always sort of shy so social stuff never came easily to me (remembering names, asking good questions, etc).

When you have a mind that you can trust and most things come fairly easily to you, at least in your chosen field and everyday life, it’s a hard to lose that.

At first it was just a slow and foggy mind. Things would take longer, I’d run out of energy but it was still the same in way.

Then it was trouble remembering what I was doing.

That got a lot worse. I’d go into a room and have no idea why I was there. I would open the fridge and not be sure what I was looking for. I’d log in online and have no idea what my goal was or where to go.

Driving is an issue. I can’t keep track of the places I’m going and i always miss an exit. I’ve had a few close calls so I try to limit long drives and get help with it.

Other issues were trouble tracking. I’ve always had a pretty good attention span. Sure sometimes during long lectures or conversations my mind would drift off but that got worse. Long winded people I can’t follow too well. By the time they are finished with their long story I have no idea what the beginning was about. I can’t read long articles and when I read a book I read a chapter or two at a time, if I’m lucky. Sometimes it’s hard to get that.

Recall of information has been hard too. At one point I remember having trouble remembering the name of the town I was from. People’s names would escape me. Finding the right word was hard a lot. I’d have the words right around it but not the precise one I needed.

I’ve learned to let myself off the hook a little. I was so upset with myself for having these issues and making mistakes. I’ve learned now to let it go. If I go into a room and can’t remember why, I just do something else. It will come back later if it’s important.

But I think cognitive issues is the hardest thing for people to understand. Maybe they think it’s because I’m tired. It can be so hard for me to keep up in a conversation, particularly with multiple people. I tell people I’m slow and they don’t really know what to say. I am not sure how to say this because it sounds arrogant but when things weren’t a struggle for you, but then they are, it still could be functioning at someone-who-is-not-sick’s best. Because mentally we are all different, have different memory capacities, etc. So people may not understand that you are struggling and say, “Oh we all have that.” Even though for you it’s changed.

Also things that were a struggle before are nearly impossible seeming now. Math was always hard, remembering names, history. Even harder. I play to my strengths now. I used to push myself and challenge myself but now every day is a challenge with just daily life so I have to do things that come easier to me. Read topics I already understand a little about. I do art since it’s always been a strength. I write, because I’ve always enjoyed it, but don’t pressure myself to be perfect grammatically.

I do feel like my cognitive issues are a bit better in some ways than at my lowest point but they still prevent me from doing everything I want to do. But I can get around them better and I don’t let them get me down as much. I also know I’m not perfect now, and before it was harder for me to admit I was wrong (ok don’t ask my husband about that). Now since I know I have issues it is easier to admit I made a mistake and to try to improve.

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Ways to help with cognitive issues:

  • If someone is talking too fast, try to tell them to slow down.
  • Take notes or have a notetaker for important information (such as a doctor’s appointment).
  • Write yourself notes and place them strategically around the house where you will see them.
  • Set timers for medication and other important events.
  • If misplacing things is a common problem, make it a habit to clean up on the regular so clutter won’t pile up and hide things.
  • Get rid of unwanted items and unnecessary activities. You must streamline your life.
  • Use electronic apps and calendars to help you. Scan documents that are important.
  • Set bills to electronic forms if that is easier to remember.
  • Be up front about your issues when meeting people and let them know you have issues with remembering. Usually people are quite nice about it I’ve found.
  • Turn spellcheck on your computer to all programs. I’ve noticed Lyme people tend to misspell a lot and I do too. But my computer corrects all misspellings so even quick facebook posts can alert me to a misspelled word I might miss otherwise. (Why does spellcheck thing spellcheck is spelled wrong?)

If you have any tips for helping with cognitive issues, please write them in the comments. And be compassionate to those who are struggling with cognitive issues. It’s one of the most humiliating issues for me and I’m sure others too.

I will be getting to some recipe posts soon! I was too tired tonight to get it up and already had this post in the works.

Now I’m off to bed before I fall asleep on my laptop.

kitten laptop

(source)

 

Sugar-free Halloween Round-Up

ImageWe are entering that time of year where it really is tough to be on a restricted diet, especially one without sugar. Halloween, then pie-season (some call it Thanksgiving), then December holidays. Binge, binge, binge, then clean up one’s diet in January? Well, some of us with chronic illness won’t be able to participate in the festivities if we indulge since the sugar takes us down. So why not find some alternatives so you can have a treat and not feel sick.

There’s obviously plenty of candies/treats you can make yourself but I’d like to talk about naturally derived sugar-free packaged treat options so you can think about this for kids with restrictions, having an extra bag on hand so you don’t cheat, etc.

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Xylitol candies

The jury is still out about xylitol I think, I’ve heard a lot of debating. It is somewhat refined. It’s a sugar alcohol, which means it tastes sweet but doesn’t absorb in your body like sugar would. Try to get xylitol derived from birchbark, not from GMO corn. Please use moderately if you are not used to it. It can be harsh on certain people’s digestion. Dentist recommend it for teeth. Be careful as it’s extremely toxic to dogs.

Xyla candies: These are lot like smarties. Tart and fruity. I have found some on Lucky Vitamin and at certain Whole Foods stores.

Xyla used to only have xylitol in their lollypops but now they have added isomalt. Their old variety, which I really like, can still be found online.

Ice Chips: These to me are the best Xylitol candies but they only come in tins. Maybe not the best for a trick-or-treat but lovely for a strong candy taste. I love the margarita flavor and strawberry daiquiri. (Many but not all flavors are vegan.)

Stevia chocolates

There’s not many out there but it’s a growing market. Often the stevia is mixed with erithritol, which is similar to xylitol, a sugar alcohol. Coco Polo dark chocolate bars are vegan.

You can always make your own chocolate with my coconut oil chocolate recipe or melt a 100% baker’s chocolate bar down and sweeten with stevia as desired.

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(source)

Agave-sweetened candies/treats

Agave was big a few years ago until people started realizing it was pretty high in fructose which could be harsh on the liver. However if eaten in small quantities it can be ok. Not recommended for a strict anti-candida protocol, but a better alternative than sugar. Much less sweet than honey or maple syrup.

Where to find? Lots of raw chocolate bars tend to be agave-sweetened. Some may be coconut-nectar or coconut sugar sweetened. Raw chocolate can have a steep price tag, but maybe this is a little bar to the side for yourself so you don’t get tempted. My favorite raw chocolates are Righteously Raw and Organic Nectars. The good things is raw chocolate is pretty readily found at Health food stores and Whole Foods.

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Dried fruit snacks

The good old standby for Halloween: packs of raisins. Hey I mean kids may not like these, but it’s an option. The all natural fruit leathers are a good option for handing out to a crowd. However if you have chronic illnesses, you may still need to limit your dried fruit as it is quite sweet.

Options: larabars (sweetened with dates), mini larabars, stretch fruit leather, boxes of raisins.

If you must hand out treats, there’s always going a whole different direction. This year, I plan to hand out temporary tattoos. One time we handed out mini bags of pretzels (not gluten-free). You could get little toys. Or just give out coins. Or just turn out the lights and go to bed.

Note: Most of the snacks mentioned should be sugar-free and gluten-free with vegan options. However always read labels if you must avoid ingredients.

Please feel free to add any items I didn’t mention in the comments!

Merri Caturday

Today I bring you a cat that is up for adoption! Her name is Merri and she is at Peace Ridge Animal Sanctuary in Maine. Please call 207-326-9507 if you are interested. She is still a kitten! I loved drawing her big eyes and fluffier fur.

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I also went to the farmer’s market, where the goodies are sort of whittling down to dark greens, tomatoes, pumpkins, squash and potatoes. I can make that work.

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Have a good weekend!

I need more cats for Caturday! Submit your cat by using the contact form or leaving a comment below. Requirements are a nice clear picture of your cat.

 

Katie and Cafe Indigo

I’m writing this as my veggie burgers cook and listening to fellow lyme patient Caleb McGinn’s music. Today is the first day I was able to make anything for dinner, my loving husband has been keeping us from starving. I had my doctor’s appointment on Monday and it’s a long drive, which I do not drive myself but just being in the car take a huge toll on my hips and leg pain. Then my energy was just zapped.

Yesterday, Lyme Disease got some attention on the Katie Couric show. Dr Horowitz is a very well known Lyme doctor and was there to make some good points about Lyme and Coinfections (What are coinfections? Other tick-bourne illnesses such as mycroplasma, bartonella, babesia and more. Yup I have all of the ones I mentioned.) There was also a few patients with uplifting stories of recovery. Sadly there was a doctor who was just repeating misinformation about how all testing for lyme is reliable and it’s just not

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Anyhow, onto some food. I try to make part of my doctor’s long trip fun if possible (if I am feeling up to it) and tie in a Trader’s Joe’s trip or another store that’s only in the south of my state, or do something to make it more interesting. This time we went to Cafe Indigo, one of New Hampshire’s only vegan restaurants. I’d seen them at the Boston VegFest before but not ever been. So it was time to try it out.

They had a simple menu that was pretty traditional veganized American food, like sandwiches and burgers and stuff. Not too greasy looking though, a little more to the healthy side, like with some kale salads and stuff.

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I got a veggie burger, which is all gluten-free. They have the option putting any all their sandwiches on gluten-free bread. I am used to pretty mediocre gluten-free bread, but I was hungry and needed something hearty. I think the bread was the best part! So good! It’s from Abigail’s bakery also in New Hampshire.

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I also brought home a gluten-free chocolate cupcake for my husband but it wasn’t that great. They do have a full row of gluten-free vegan desserts but they can’t guarantee they are 100% GF due to cross-contamination.

Anyhow, good luck, because it was one of my last carb-fests as I am tightening up and trying to get my candida under control again. More on that later. Spoiler alert: I miss sweet stuff.

Alternative therapies: the Biomat

I am starting a series on some of the alternative therapies I’ve done, particularly the ones I like the best. If you would like to write a guest post about an alternative therapy you do, please contact me via my contact page.

I have owned a Biomat for over 6 months now. I’ve been very happy with it. I had an opportunity to try it out a few times beforehand, which I think is important. I experienced benefits right away and knew that it would help me. The features I was interested in were:

  • Raising of body temperature, since mine tends to be low (typically 97 degrees F) due to thyroid and other issues. Just an increase in body temp of 1 degree can help fight illness.
  • Increase oxygen. The data on this is anecdotal, but friends of mine had live blood cell analysis before and after a biomat session and their red blood cells were separated and therefore able to have more access to oxygen. Oxygen has been shown to fight illness.
  • Relief of muscle aches and pains.
  • Helping with sleep

When I get a chill I get very cold, especially before bed. I lie on my biomat for at least a half hour before bed each night. It helps get me to sleep faster, relieves my aches and pains, and helps me warm up.

I don’t know how I’d get through this awful hip pain I’ve had the past several months without my biomat. A short session on the mat helps my muscles loosen and makes it easier for me to get to sleep.

My elderly pup loves it too. She is quite thin with has short fur and and loves to be warm and cozy. Biomats have been known to help animals with health conditions.

I don’t know if it’s really fighting my lyme or infections. I can’t really say. I see it more as a way to help my symptoms at this point. Much better than other options. Sometimes taking an Epsom salt bath, which is supposed to help detox, is too intense for me or too much work. The biomat also aids detox and is relieving to muscles in the same way without making me overly fatigued. (Here’s a link with more info on Lyme and the Biomat.)

It is a steep price tag, even for the minimat, which I have, which is a few feet long and it best for sitting on. But it’s helped me save money on massages, also I when I am cold I sit on the biomat instead of jacking up the heat, hot water for long baths or showers, and who knows what else I may have had to use instead of the biomat. The electricity used is 100 Watts, similar to a light bulb.

A tip I have for the minimat is that I use a crib sheet to keep it clean, it fits over the mat perfectly.

I am not affiliated with biomat in any way but I am quite happy with mine so I wanted to spread the word in case it is something you are interested in. I suggest finding a dealer near you so you can book a trial session to see if it’s right for you.