Destin, Florida is Still Not a Vegan Friendly City… A Year and a Half Later

If, as a vegan, you end up in Destin, I will help you out by highlighting some of the places you will be able to eat. But I’m telling you up front, it’s a challenge…

The most obvious choice is Whole Foods Market, which was still being built the last time I was in Destin back in 2015. While it is glorious and new and easy to get to from the main road, it is not vegan friendly.

I struggled to find something to eat there, that would provide for my protein needs. I had to rely strictly on the buffet, but even then, it was nearly impossible to find grains I could eat. The options with rice or pasta all contained meat or dairy.

Briefly, I thought there was a ray of hope when I walked over to the sandwich bar, as there was a veggie sandwich (Le Provencal) on the menu that I could have ordered without the cheese. But when I tried to order it, I was told they no longer have that option available- not just that day, but permanently.

The guy then suggested I try their Caprese Classico sandwich instead, as he informed me that their pesto sauce does not contain dairy. I then delicately explained to him a Caprese Classico sandwich without the cheese is ultimately just a big piece of toast with a tomato on it.

That’s the thing: People who aren’t vegan fundamentally don’t understand how vegans get their protein:

Veggies, fruits, beans, grains, nuts, and seeds.

I made things work, but was ultimately limited to spending $14 a pop at the Whole Foods buffet; surviving mainly on tofu and beans.

Of course, there is a Mellow Mushroom on the main drag, as well. So that was the next place I took my family in the 2017 Toyota Prius. That’s an easy go to for me when I’m travelling. I experimented with their veggie burger for the first time.

I was very pleased, though I did have to cheat a little, knowing there were traces of egg whites in the burger. The reason this didn’t wreck my conscience is because I’m not a vegan because of animal rights. I follow a 0% cholesterol lifestyle for the health benefits- and I know that the cholesterol of an egg is in the yolk, not the egg whites.

There’s also a place called The Dig, which for a vegan, serves in the likeness of a juice bar. That’s where I met Aaron Sundstrom, who is another fellow male vegan. He switched to the plant-based lifestyle after he survived a bout with cancer.

Perhaps the easiest place for me to dine and got a solid meal was Don Pedros Cantina, which is on the main road but off to the back and easy to miss.

I ordered the veggie fajitas, minus the sour cream and cheese.

So there you have it. Vegans typically don’t end up in Destin. It’s not an inviting place for us, when it comes to food.

It’s not Destin’s fault. Destin is simply catering to who’s showing up.

Apparently, the vegans are visiting other cities instead, like Pensacola.

In fact, the next time I visit Florida on vacation, I will be staying in Pensacola but will take a day trip to Destin.

I get it. I am an intelligent guy. I understand how the free market works…

The reason that Destin, Florida is still not an easy place for a vegan to eat, as I became aware back in December 2015, is not the fault of the city. Instead, it’s simply demographics.

I theorize it like this: Destin is mostly comprised of older, retired residents who live there during the winter, then rent out their condos to young families (like mine) during the warmer months.

The majority of people either living in or coming through Destin are demographically, by design, not the target market for the vegan lifestyle.

Compare that to Pensacola, just about an hour away, which I deemed as very vegan friendly back in May 2015.

Pensacola isn’t a tourist town, the way Destin undeniably is. Instead, Pensacola is an actual city with established residents. Pensacola has employers that run businesses that go beyond the scope of tourism. Pensacola has spunk. It has character.

Destin, not so much. Destin is simply a beautiful place to stay when you want to enjoy a vacation at the beach. It’s plenty of fun, for sure. But Destin is not an environment that typically attracts the vegan type.

But hey, I made it work. If you’re a vegan who ends up in Destin, you can survive too. I just have a feeling you’ll need to bookmark this blog post to serve as your guide.

And if you’re a vegetarian, like my wife and kids are, it’ll be that much easier for you.

Dear Jack: Your Giant Poison Dart Frog from the Nashville Reptile Show (Repticon)

5 years, 7 months.

Dear Jack: Your Giant Poison Dart Frog from the Nashville Reptile Show

Dear Jack,

A year and a half ago your Pre-K teacher at the time, Ms. Aimee, got you interested in live reptiles, as she had them as pets in her classroom. She also informed you of Repticon, the Reptile and Exotic Animal Show that comes to Nashville every year.

Dear Jack: Your Giant Poison Dart Frog from the Nashville Reptile Show

Dear Jack: Your Giant Poison Dart Frog from the Nashville Reptile Show

So not only did we take you last year when you got Snakey, your giant red snake, but we also took this year as well. Actually, it was this past weekend.

Dear Jack: Your Giant Poison Dart Frog from the Nashville Reptile Show

It was a family affair; even Baby Holly came along… even though she slept through the entire event.

Dear Jack: Your Giant Poison Dart Frog from the Nashville Reptile Show

While you definitely loved seeing all the live animals, your main incentive to go is knowing that Mommy and I are going to buy you a stuffed animal souvenir. As a family, we went there knowing that was the main agenda.

Dear Jack: Your Giant Poison Dart Frog from the Nashville Reptile Show

Dear Jack: Your Giant Poison Dart Frog from the Nashville Reptile Show

Though you had been planning on buying a spider and naming her Charlotte, you ended up getting swept away by a giant poison dart frog who you named, of course, Froggy.

Dear Jack: Your Giant Poison Dart Frog from the Nashville Reptile Show

Next, as any stereotypical vegan/vegetarian family would do, we had lunch at Whole Foods. Needless to say, Froggy accompanied you.

Dear Jack: Your Giant Poison Dart Frog from the Nashville Reptile Show

Dear Jack: Your Giant Poison Dart Frog from the Nashville Reptile Show

Fortunately, there happened to be a special on the sorbet (vegan) and gelato (vegetarian)…

Dear Jack: Your Giant Poison Dart Frog from the Nashville Reptile Show

The afternoon, you and I went to the movies for “boy time” as Mommy puts it. We decided to dress up in our matching tuxedo t-shirts.

Obviously, you took Froggy with us to the movies. After the show, as we were walking out of the room where our movie was show, a lady approached me:

“Excuse me, my granddaughters are dying to know where your son got that frog. Would you mind telling me where you found that?”

Dear Jack: Your Giant Poison Dart Frog from the Nashville Reptile Show

Imagine that. You aren’t the only kid who that it would be cool to get a giant poison dart frog.

That night, you found a clear Tupperware container big enough to hold Froggy in, as you had seen the frogs at Repticon, and then attempted to place the whole thing in the bed with you.

But by the time I came to check on you later that night, you decided she was cozier to sleep with outside of her container.

I guess real poison dart frogs prefer a clear container, but the stuffed animal version prefers a soft bed and a young child.



Dear Jack: Your Giant Poison Dart Frog from the Nashville Reptile Show

I Was Fired and Re-Hired within 90 Seconds… While I was in the Bathroom

I Was Fired and Re-Hired within 90 Seconds… While I was in the Bathroom

Yesterday afternoon I had recently returned from buying vegan chocolate cake for my wife, as well as “lip scrub”, which I didn’t know existed until she asked me to get it for her.

For myself, while I was there at Whole Foods, I also picked up a bottle of one of my favorite drinks: Synergy Grape Chia Kombucha.

I suppose I drank it fairly quickly once I returned to the office from my lunch break. So naturally, I had to hop on over to the restroom real quick.

By real quick, I mean literally less than 90 seconds. Here’s how I can know for sure:

Because at precisely 14:04:28, a message went out over our company’s instant message program that “Nick Shell is no longer employed” at the company.

(That message was apparently sent the moment I stepped out of my office.)

Then at exactly 14:05:55, which is less than 90 seconds later, a follow-up message went out explaining that it wasn’t “Nick Shell” who was no longer employed, but instead a different Nick.

Apparently by that time, I was washing my hands in the bathroom. I stepped out into the hallway, to see a huddle of people around my empty desk.

To make matters more seemingly dramatic, my boss (as a joke) moved my chair along with my name plaque and my hat and my empty Kombucha bottle out into the hallway.

Half the people who traveled from the other side of the office to see the crime scene hadn’t seen the follow-up message, so it only reinforced the idea I really was a goner.

I know now how loved I truly am by my co-workers. Apparently I had some people worried. I was originally hired on January 2, 2006; more than a decade ago.

While my family did move back to my hometown for about 8 months when my son was born over 5 years ago, I’ve worked at the company for over 9 years.

I’m known as the guy who has been there forever, so I guess it freaked some people out that I would just so suddenly disappear.

After I later took my afternoon 10 minute break, in which I took a walk outside, another coworker decided to decorate my desk as part of either my going-away party… or my triumphant return.

I Invented the Vegan Frosted Chocolate Coffee Cake at the Whole Foods in Franklin, Tennessee

I Invented the Vegan Frosted Chocolate Coffee Cake at the Whole Foods in Franklin, Tennesse

If you ever visit the Whole Foods in Cool Springs (Franklin, Tennessee), just turn to the right as soon as you walk in, and go all the way to the back of the store, where you’ll discover their bakery department; which is where I ordered my son’s vegan birthday cake a year ago when he turned 4.

Once you are standing there in front of their bakery display, you’ll notice a few containers of chocolate coffee cake, marked “VEGAN”.

That’s because of me. You’re welcome.

I invented the vegan frosted chocolate coffee cake about a year ago.

After we had bought my son’s birthday cake last year, I then specifically looked in the Whole Foods bakery to see if they already make some kind of vegan cake on a daily basis for my wife and I to casually enjoy.

Turns out, they did: For about 2 bucks, I could get a small vegan chocolate coffee cake; which serves about 4 people.

But there was no icing.

So I asked the baker if they had any vegan icing they could put on there for me, being familiar with the fact they indeed make vegan icing because of my son’s birthday cake.

The baker went to the back, and returned with my piece of vegan chocolate coffee cake; this time with icing.

To get the icing, it does cost around a dollar more, since they charge you by weight; but it’s worth it.

I made a habit of having them frost it for me and it wasn’t before long that they just began including the icing on those cakes anyway; keeping them in stock not only for me, but for the general public.

Therefore, I take credit for making it possible for vegans in to walk in to the Cool Springs Whole Foods and pick up a vegan treat.

My name shall go down in history.

Dear Jack: You Won 2nd Place in the Williamson County Lego Competition!

4 years, 8 months.

Dear Jack: You Won 2nd Place in the County Lego Competition!

Mommy and I are so proud of you! You had been confidently telling us, “Mommy… Daddy… I’m going to win.”

You were right.

Dear Jack: You Won 2nd Place in the County Lego Competition!

This past weekend as soon as we got in the doors of the Williamson County Fair, we headed straight over to the Lego tables to see how your entry did in the competition.

Right away, I blurted out to you and Mommy, “Jack, you won 2nd place!”

That means out of all the 4 to 8 year-olds in Williamson County who entered the competition, the judges thought your entry was the 2nd best. Seriously, that’s a huge deal!

I love the fact that you competed with kids who were nearly twice your age and still won.

One of the main things the judges were looking for was originality. I can solemnly testify the 3 “space vehicles” you created were completely your own.

Mommy and I had no part in helping you at all.

Building Legos is what you do. You’re constantly building new creations every day; only to tear them apart and come up with new ones by the end of the week.

I’ve actually seen you make more complicated Lego inventions than the ones you entered. The winning entry just happened to be the collection of the ones you made that particular week.

Mommy and I have been saying it for a while now… and your teacher Ms. Aimee has been saying it too…


“We have a future engineer on our hands. What else would Jack possibly be?”

You love to make your own Lego inventions- and they always have to be symmetrical. No one taught you that stipulation, but it’s an unbreakable law in your code to building Legos.

With all that being said, you’re just as talented at building actual Lego sets with instructions. You recently spent some of your own money on a new set that was targeted for ages 8 to 14.

I barely helped you at all. Actually, I was relieved you pretty much took care of building it because I might have gotten too frustrated to finish it.

You and I made an unboxing video for the set: Legend of Chima: Eris’ Fire Eagle Flyer.

Your 2nd place Lego award is your first ever real award! Mommy and I just couldn’t be prouder of you!


Oh yeah, and while we were at the fair, you also won your very first game prize. You popped balloons with darts and got to pick out an animal: You named her Libby the Lizard.

You’re a natural!


We also had a lot of fun this week because we celebrated Mommy’s 34th birthday at Whole Foods, with vegan pizza and cake!



And you even drew these really cool pictures for her!





4G Equipped 2015 Buick LaCrosse: Labor Day Weekend Family Friendly Review

As I mentioned in The New (and Younger) Buick, Equipped with 4G and OnStar, our family had the privilege of getting to review the 2015 Buick LaCrosse over Labor Day Weekend.

4G Equipped 2015 Buick LaCrosse: Labor Day Weekend Family Friendly Review

I had my wife take notes of the comments our family made during the trip about the vehicle.

She personally was impressed that the car was even roomier on the inside, compared to how it looks from the outside.

4G Equipped 2015 Buick LaCrosse: Labor Day Weekend Family Friendly Review

And speaking of the outside, everyone we encountered over Labor Day Weekend all made the same comment: “Wow, what a beautiful car!”

Perhaps I was most impressed by how quiet the LaCrosse is, despite its power (3.6 L, SIDI V6).

4G Equipped 2015 Buick LaCrosse: Labor Day Weekend Family Friendly Review

Seriously, I had to keep reminding myself that it wasn’t an electric car. But looking back to my most recent trip to GM’s headquarters, I remember them mentioning how much attention and effort they put into making sure that Buicks are notably quiet- sort of like a trademark.

4G Equipped 2015 Buick LaCrosse: Labor Day Weekend Family Friendly Review

But of course I also loved having not only 4G Wi-FI in the vehicle, which enabled my son to learn about his ABC’s on my wife’s Kindle for a good amount of the trip, but also the access to OnStar.

4G OnStar 2015 Buick LaCrosse

I love OnStar! I really appreciate being able to have an instant human helper to assist me while I’m driving. I’m not the best multi-tasker, so having OnStar is extremely helpful to me.

From here, I want to finish up by doing the modern day equivalent of how people use to share photos with captions written on the back, to tell you about their trips.

4G OnStar 2015 Buick LaCrosse

We left our house in Nashville on Saturday morning and begin our journey. The shot of the highway above was where Jack proclaimed, “I see Lake Tahoe!” (We went there earlier this summer.)

First stop: My own grandparents’ house in Chattanooga.

4G OnStar 2015 Buick LaCrosse

Next we headed to Whole Foods, using OnStar of course, to enjoy a nice plant-based lunch.

4G Equipped 2015 Buick LaCrosse: Labor Day Weekend Family Friendly Review

4G OnStar 2015 Buick LaCrosse

After that we made our way to my hometown on Fort Payne, Alabama; where we chilled out for a while at a Labor Day get-together.

Jack and I enjoyed discovering the awesome playground, pretending to be pirates.

4G OnStar 2015 Buick LaCrosse

For a year now, since I’ve been regularly been reviewing cars, I’ve been wanting to take Jack to Desoto Falls in Mentone, AL.

DeSoto Falls Mentone AL 4G OnStar 2015 Buick LaCrosse

I made it work… It started raining as soon as we got there and stopped raining the moment we got back to the Buick.

DeSoto Falls Mentone AL 4G OnStar 2015 Buick LaCrosse

Oh well, Jack loved it. Plus, it didn’t rain hard enough to mess up my camera while we took some fun pictures.

For his nap time, Jack had an interesting request…

Dear Jack: Reading Bedtime Stories With A Scream Mask On

For me to read his story to him while wearing a scary mask!

(See the full story: Dear Jack: Reading Bedtime Stories With A Scream Mask On.)

We definitely had a fun road trip in the 2015 Buick LaCrosse! Before we left, we loaded up the trunk, full of produce from my parents organic, non-GMO garden to take back to our home in Nashville.

I hope you enjoyed learning about the 2015 Buick LaCrosse! Thanks for reading this week’s car review. I wonder what we’ll be driving next?…

2015 Buick LaCrosse- Premium

As shown: $42,240.00.

Fuel economy: 21 MPG combined/18 city/28 highway

Government 5-Star Safety Ratings:

Overall: 5

Frontal Crash, Driver/Passenger: 5

Side Crash, Driver/Passenger: 5

Rollover: 4

The Cure for Eczema and Hand Dyshidrosis: Replace Processed Sugar by Eating Whole Fruits, Get Rid of Metals, Consume Chlorella, Sweat a Lot, Become a New Person

STOP! WAIT! This blog post is nearly 7 years old. I only keep it online to document my journey in curing dyshidrotic eczema. But I have learned a lot more since I wrote this back in 2010…

I beg you, please, instead, read the much-updated, and much more accurate 2018 version of this article. Just click the link below to find out how to cure dyshidrotic eczema:

How I Cured Dyshidrotic Eczema in 5 Steps and Have Remained Symptom-Free for 5 Years (But No One Cares Since I’m Not a Medical Expert)

It costs nothing but a lifestyle change.

For you to be taking the time to read this article, chances are you or someone who is close to you has suffered for years from the skin condition known as eczema.  Of course, after visiting at least a few doctors and/or skin specialists, the answer was that there is no cure.  Then a topical lotion was prescribed to “help keep things under control”.  But there is a cure that I had to discover the hard way, and thank God for it.

Make note that I am in no way a medical doctor.  And that’s a good thing.  Because the doctors say there is no cure.  But I say there is.  And I’ve been cured of eczema, specifically dyshidrosis.

I will make no money by telling you the cure.  You will not buy a book from me, nor will you subscribe to website that costs you any money.  You will simply read what I have to say and apply it to your life.

My hand a few months before it got really bad.

This is a very cut-and-dry issue.  It works if you do it.  It doesn’t work if you don’t, or if you cheat yourself by not fully committing.

If you are desperate enough to be healed, like I was, you will be willing to change your lifestyle.  And that’s what this will cost you- your lifestyle.  But not your life.

How to Be Cured of Eczema

1)     Completely cut out sugar from your diet, except for fruits in their whole form.  That means no fruit juice.  That means no yogurt (which is loaded with sugar.)  Instead, eat at least three servings of fruit everyday: bananas, oranges, apples, and grapes are the easiest and cheapest way to go.  You need the healthy sugar from the fruit with the fiber from the fruit.

This is the exact cilantro/chlorella extract I used.

2)     Completely cut out unnecessary metals from your body.  If you have metal fillings in your teeth, get them taken out.  (I even had to switch to a ceramic wedding ring.) If you have cartilage piercings, remove them.  Stop eating shellfish (shrimp, scallops, lobster, etc.), which have high levels of heavy metals.

3)     Sweat as much as possible.  If you have access to a sauna, take advantage of it.  If not, do plenty of outdoor exercise.  If nothing else, sunbathe.  Sweat helps remove the toxins from your body that sustain the eczema.

4)     Eat lots of chlorella (seaweed extract) and cilantro.  These both help your body to extract the poisons in your body that feed the eczema. I used a heavy metal detox like this one.

5)     Read these other articles I’ve written which explain more about why the first four steps are so important:

The Shell Diet

healthnutshell: The Unholy Trinity of Food

healthnutshell: A Tablespoon of Sugar or a Cigarette

healthnutshell: No Pork on My Fork

You should start seeing results by the third week.  It took me about seven months for my body to be fully removed of my eczema.  And if you go back to your old lifestyle, (not following my 5 steps) your eczema will return.  You have been chosen to live a different lifestyle; you have to accept it.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions, concerns, or stories you have for me.  Remember, I’m not a doctor.  Just someone who’s been where you are and wants this good news of hope to be spread.  There is a cure.

Contact me by email: