Saturday, December 17, 2011

Orignal Recipe - Shelly's Lentil & Carrot Soup

I love soup and I especially love soup when I wake up to snow on the ground like I did this morning!

I had been looking for a good dal type soup recipe but none of them were exactly what I wanted so I decided to make my own and I'm pretty happy with the results the first time out!

This is a thick and hearty pureed soup that has the texture of a nice tomato soup. Mild in flavor and really comforting.

Lentils are full of protein! Serve this with a side salad and a hunk of crusty bread and you can kick the cold to the curb! I hope you enjoy it!

Shelly's Lentil & Carrot Soup

Note: add in a little cayenne or chipotle pepper if you'd like it to have a bit of a kick!

1 medium red onion, chopped
1/2 tsp garlic, minced
2 tbsp Earth Balance sticks
1 cup carrots, chopped or shredded
1 cup yellow lentils (yellow split peas) - Do not use green lentils or green split peas! (they won't break down enough for a smooth soup)
5 cups hot water
3 tsp Better Than Bouillon No Chicken Flavor
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp cumin
1 tbsp parsley (I used dried)
4 whole sun dried tomatoes (you could sub in 2 tbsp of tomato paste)

Dissolve the bouillon in the hot water and set aside.

Melt Earth Balance in a large sauce pan and saute the garlic and onions until translucent.

Add in carrots, salt, turmeric, cumin and paprika and mix well.

Add bouillon water, lentils, sun dried tomatoes and parsley. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for about 40 minutes until most of the water is absorbed and the lentils are soft.

Pour the mixture into a blender (or use an immersion blender) and puree. Add in 2 to 3 cups of water (one cup at a time) until the consistency you prefer is reached.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Tips for Going Plant Based - Investigating Cookbooks

One question I get a lot is 'which vegan cookbooks do you recommend?' and it's a hard question to answer because the good and bad things about a cookbook can vary from person to person.

Personal Taste

You have to take into account how a person eats. If you have a meat eater that lives on fast food, they won't find much in a cookbook that uses whole foods to create healthy vegan fare. If you hate broccoli then you shouldn't buy a broccoli cookbook!

If someone is newly vegan, I wouldn't let them go near mac & cheese made with nutritional yeast because they will probably hate it until they have detoxed off dairy.

It takes a good three weeks to change your taste buds over to a new way of eating.

I have a ton of cookbooks and every one has recipes I love, some I changed to work for me, some I didn't care for and some I won't ever even make. You can make a recipe and put it in front of 20 people and some will love it, some will hate it, some will think it's ok and some won't even try it so you can't make sweeping judgements about a recipe.

Some recipes will never work for you simply because you don't like something about it. I hate green peppers so a stuffed pepper will never be something I'll make. If you have a hatred for a specific dish, like pasta or broccoli then you will never like a recipe that has those as the main focus.

Experience & Skill Level

You have to take into account the experience and skill level of the person cooking or baking. Someone that can hardly boil water and thinks cooking is placing a frozen meal in the microwave, will not appreciate being asked to make a roux or use a candy thermometer.

You can increase your experience and skill by cooking and baking more or taking classes.


My kitchen is some sort of Pampered Chef museum. I seriously own pretty much every gadget and appliance on this planet. It took me trying to cook in other kitchens to appreciate that not everyone owns a whisk, a dehydrator, a food processor or a rice cooker. Things I use often.

Some people barely have a spatula.

If you are trying to make raw recipes, you are probably going to need to invest in a dehydrator. If you are interested in making your own almond milk then you need a decent blender and a nut milk bag.

These things aren't necessary in order to make certain recipes but they make baking and cooking so much easier and enjoyable. If there is a chore you hate (like cooking rice, chopping onions or making bread) then you need to search for a way to do it that makes it easier, like a rice cooker, a chopper and a bread machine. They are investments in your health and sanity!


My most favorite part of a cookbook are the chapters leading up to the actual recipes. You might learn about the writer and their journey to having the cookbook or they may share their diet philosophy and cooking tips. You may learn about nutrition and health. They may give you information on ingredients and techniques. You'll often be told how recipes were created and how they measured their flour, you may get a chart listing substitutions.


How creative is the person cooking? Are they able to look at a recipe and make changes to accommodate personal tastes, allergies/sensitivities or what they have on hand? Some people simply can't deviate from a recipe while others are very good at playing around with them.

The only way to cultivate creativity is to get into the kitchen and mess around! Start by subbing in ingredients you love for the ones you aren't crazy about. Have you ever looked at a recipe and thought 'that sounds good except for the ___' .. well, get rid of what you don't like and add in something else!

If you have gluten issues, learn about alternative flours. Allergic to a certain food? Learn what will work in place of it. If you make a recipe and you like ti but don't love it, figure out how to change it to work for you. I've done that with many recipes and now they are things I eat every week!

For example, I'm not a big fan of using wheat gluten in recipes because too much can make the final product chewier in texture than I personally like so now I know to cut the gluten and sub in some breadcrumbs instead.

Time Issues

How much time do you have? Some recipes are simple and quick and you can have dinner on the table in 5 minutes while some recipes can take all day to make.  It's good to have both types of cookbooks in your kitchen. I have one cookbook that I dislike because it is too simple. Every recipe has three or four ingredients and I find that boring so I just don't ever open it up but some people want that type of cookbook.

Visual Stimulation

Some people are very visual and need a photo of every recipe while some people don't even care about photos. I like to have photos because it shows me what the final recipe should look like and photos stimulate my appetite. I love photos of great food.


You have to consider what ingredients are normal in your kitchen. I have a couple cookbooks I rarely use because the writers use soy creamer, soy yogurt and processed faux meat products in the recipes and I just don't use those products and they aren't in my home on a daily basis. However, I have things in my kitchen that other people think are odd  - nutritional yeast, tamari, plum vinegar, raw cashews and homemade almond milk.


A recipe should be considered 'good' if it's clear and concise and the final product is what you were going for in general. Usually, recipes in cookbooks go thru a testing phase where a variety of people are asked to make it and report back. If you don't like the flavor of the final product that is probably your personal taste and not necessarily the fault of the recipe. If the cake falls flat or the noodles aren't cooked thru then it could be your error or the recipe. You might need to try it one more time to be sure.

So, how do you find a good cookbook?


Go the bookstore to browse. I prefer to buy my books online thru Amazon so I use the 'look inside' feature so I can get a basic sense of the cookbook. You can usually read the table of contents, get to see the first few information pages and even see some of the recipes to get an idea of what they are like. I can usually tell by flipping thru a book if I'm going to use it or not.


Many authors have websites or blogs and you can often find recipes posted there. You can try a few recipes to see if you like their style. I often google for recipe reviews when I see a recipe I want to try. 

Lots of people have blogs these days so many will make a recipe and post a photo and talk about their experience with it and they are usually honest. I googled a popular cult classic recipe before making it and I got lots of tips from bloggers.

Read Reviews

You have to be careful reading reviews. You want to look for certain things in a review. You want to look for mentions of incomplete or confusing instructions and inconsistent ingredient listings. Don't worry about comments made about how it tasted bad or it was too complicated because you can't know the personal taste or skill level of the person writing the review. Take into account the number of good and bad reviews... if you have a cookbook with 300 reviews and most people said they liked it then you're probably going to like it but read thru the ones that gave it a bad review and see why so you can determine if you may have issues with it. I passed by one cookbook because many of the reviews mentioned that the recipes used processed faux meat products and I don't eat those very often.


Go to the library and check out the cookbooks before buying them. If you know someone like me, ask to borrow a cookbook or two. If it's a book I use a lot then you'd have to come over and check it out at my house because I won't let it leave!

That said... here is my post on cookbooks I like!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Tips for Going Plant Based - Ask Questions.

Sometimes, I feel like I'm the only person that ever asks questions.

When I see a word I don't recognize, I look it up. If there is a new ingredient in one of my recipes that I'm not familiar with, I google it. If there is an article that makes me think.. I start researching the topic. I don't assume what I'm told is real or true or correct. I find out myself.

If more of us asked questions, we'd become enlightened to new realities and truths. We'd step out of the boxes we grew up in. What if everything we thought was true, didn't make sense anymore? What if you had to re-think, re-learn, re-evaluate all the things you just take at face value? Isn't that what learning is? Discovering new truths?

I touch very briefly on a few topics here.. please research on your own to get in depth info and details on these topics. There are many reasons to change to a plant based diet. There are ethical and moral reasons as well as health reasons. At the very least, consider it for your health.

One movie I highly recommend is Forks Over Knives.  The movie will change your life. I've seen it happen with people I personally know. It is a movie about nutrition and how food can heal us. It is not a movie that discusses animal cruely or treatment so don't use that as an excuse to not watch it. If you have Netflix, it is streaming and available on DVD. You owe it to yourself and all the people you love to watch this movie.

Let's talk about why we drink the body secretions of other mammals.

So, we already know from grade school that mammals have babies and they produce milk for those babies. We can relate because as humans, we are mammals and the females of our species produce milk for their babies. Breastfeeding a baby is the greatest gift you can give to that child but eventually the baby grows up and no longer needs that milk so the mother stops producing it.

Now, logically you'd come to the conclusion that if the mother is no longer producing the milk then perhaps the baby doesn't need it anymore. The baby moves on to solid foods.  If the baby needed milk thru it's lifetime then wouldn't mothers continue to produce milk and continue to feed their babies well into adulthood? 

Doesn't it make sense that at 30 years old, you'd still be drinking your mothers breast milk?

No? Well then why are you choosing to consume the milk of another species? Sounds pretty illogical and rather disgusting, doesn't it?

Your first instinct might be to defend your milk consumption with the old wives tale of 'we need milk for calcium and protein' .. guess what? Not true. Where do you think the cows get their calcium?

Plants. Yes.. plants are full of calcium and protein. Practically all foods have protein.

You may argue that we need milk for strong bones. Not true. The civilizations with the highest numbers of osteoporosis have the highest milk consumption numbers and those with the lowest numbers of osteoporosis are the civilizations that don't consume the secretions of other mammals.

A little bit shocking, huh?

The milk of a cow is the perfect food.... for a baby cow. It's meant to quickly increase the weight of baby cows. It makes baby cows fat and that is what it does to humans. Obesity rates are highest among dairy eaters. Dairy also gives us the wonderful gifts of blocked arteries, heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis. The secretions of other mammals are filled with hormones (both natural and injected), pus, blood, and who knows what other gross things. That really isn't anything I'd want to consume on purpose.

Let's talk about eggs.

Eggs are just as disgusting once you think about what they are. It's basically chicken menstruation. They are unfertilized eggs. That is all I have to say about that topic. It's really gross if you spend half a brain cell thinking about it. I would think that you wouldn't need much more to justify not eating them. They are bad for your health and your heart.. so there is another reason if you really need one.

Let's look at the eating of flesh.

Eating meat has been a society choice for many years. Humans choose to eat meat. Humans don't 'need' to eat meat. There is no dietary reason to consume the flesh of another living being. You can get every single nutrient you need via plant based foods except B12. Animals do not produce B12.

B12 is a bacteria.

The reason animals have it in their system is because they ingest bacteria while eating plant based foods and then people ingest the animal. In early times, you could get B12 in the soil and people consumed it when they ate plants but these days things are so clean and washed and sterilized that it's nearly impossible to get B12 thru soil sources. These days there are lots of foods fortified with B12 as well as other vitamins and minerals and it's nearly impossible to be deficient in it if you are following a balanced, plant based diet. You can also take a multi-vitamin. Pretty simple.

You only need 2.4 mcg a day of B12... a 3/4 cup of fortified cereal will give you 6 mcg and then if you use a fortified nut milk on it. .well, you've added even more!

If you study the human intestinal process you'll discover that we are not carnivores. Nothing about our jaw, teeth, stomach or intestinal track will tell you were are carnivores. We do not have sharp teeth and claws to rip, tear and chew flesh, we do not have the speed or agility to chase and attack prey, we do not have night vision for hunting, we do not have the necessary stomach enzymes needed to break down raw and rotting flesh (carnivores don't cook their flesh, by the way.. you don't see lions on the plains with a Weber) and the length of our intestines indicate that we are herbivores. It's very straight forward scientific facts. Research it!

Ask Questions. Learn. Grow.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Tips for Going Plant Based - Convenience Foods

I try and eat mostly whole and non-processed foods but there are a few things I do eat that can be considered 'processed'. Some processed foods aren't that bad and they can be convenient for times when you're traveling, in a hurry or are simply stuck with no other alternative. If you can try and keep your consumption of processed food to less than 20% of your diet, you should be fine. There are lots of vegan junk foods but there are also a group of products that may seem junky but they aren't too horrible if you're paying attention to ingredients. I tend to stick to those.

Please check the links I've given you as almost all of the websites have coupons you can print out to use on your next purchase!

Here are my favorite processed foods:


Tofurky is a what gluten and organic tofu lunchmeat alternative. It is made without Hexane-extracted soy protein isolates, it is certified vegan  and it contains no nitrates or MSG. All the ingredients are normal and nothing weird is added. This may seem junky but in my opinion, it really isn't.

5 slices has 13 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber and 3 grams of fat.

I tried these deli slices a number of years ago when I first went vegetarian and I didn't like them but now I am addicted. I guess maybe my tastebuds have changed and I can truly appreciate them! I picked up a Tofurky Roast for Thanksgiving this year and I thought I should give the deli slices another chance since the slices are just the roast, sliced thin. I love to eat 3 slices on a whole wheat bun with Vegenaise, dijon mustard and sliced campari tomatoes. You can get 5 sandwiches out of a package if you do it that way. My carnivore husband even eats these. My fave is the naturally smoked hickory but the oven roasted is good too. I am going to try the other flavors soon. They also have other things like sausages, pepperoni, tempeh and frozen pizza.

Zatarain's Beans & Rice

Sure, this can be made from scratch but this is a great alternative if you want to eat rice and beans fast! These are also a great side dish to take with you if you need to bring a dish to pass or if you need to take your food along. We like to mix in the Field Roast Chipotle Sausage for a complete meal!


How can you not love a Triscuit? They are baked and the original/plain has just three ingredients - wheat, oil and salt. In a one ounce serving you get 3 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein! I like to use them with nut butters, my homemade cashew 'cheese' and for any of the various dips I make.

Field Roast Sausages

I have these a few times a year when I make the hour trek to Whole Foods. These are sausages made out of vital wheat gluten. No weird ingredients. In fact, this is actually a product you could make in your kitchen. The sausages come in three flavors: Italian Sausage, Smoked Apple Sage and Chipotle. The chipotle are my favorite but they are spicy! I usually cut it in half and in half again for a serving and pan fry it so it gets kinda crispy. One whole sausage has 23 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber and 12 grams of fat but only 1 gram is saturated. We love them mixed into the red beans and rice or as the star in a traditional English breakfast. They are also delicious with baked beans!

Upton's Naturals Seitan

Upton's Seitan is another wheat gluten product. Again, made with just a few non-weird ingredients and something you can make at home. There are 4 flavors  - italian sausage, chorizo, ground beef and traditional. I've tried the italian sausage. I like to pan fry it in a little oil and then use it to top my pizza! A 2 oz serving has 15 grams of protein and 1.5 grams of fat.

Fritos (or any brand corn chip)

Fritos are my junk food. They only have three ingredients - corn, oil and salt but they are fried so that is why they are truly a junk food for me. We buy the 1 oz individual bags because they stay fresh.  Any plain corn chip will only have those three ingredients. Stay away from Doritos and the like as those are coated with chemicals.

Energy Bars

Energy bars have saved my life on several occasions and have probably saved the life of others on many more occasions! I get sorta mean if I am allowed to get hungry. These are perfect to toss in my bag when I'm going to be away from home. I try and eat every few hours so I have to have something appropriate on me in case I end up starving. These should not be something you have every single day but a couple of these a week aren't going to cause much trouble. Use them strategically. There are many brands that are a good choice and you may need to try a few to find ones you like. Just pay attention to the ingredients and look for something with decent protein and fiber numbers.

One tip to remember is that the higher the protein, the chewier the bar will be. Also.. these bars are found away from the cereal and granola bar aisle.. if it's in the vicinity of the Pop-Tarts and Lucky Charms, you are not in the right area! Those are not energy bars.

My faves are Luna bars. Crunch bars and Mojo bars, all made by Clif.

Luna Bars have about 9 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber. Those numbers can vary slightly according to flavor. They come in a large variety of flavors, taste like a candy bar and are usually 1/4 dipped in a chocolate type coating.. which is never a bad thing. They have 23 added vitamins and minerals and they do have a higher sugar count than I'd like but these are not something I eat every day. They even have mini sizes of these which are really great to carry in your bag!

Mojo Bars have 9 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber and 70% organic. Like the Luna bars, they have more sugar than I like to eat in a single product but a couple times a week for bars is fine. The Mojo bars do have honey in them so they aren't vegan but I don't eat them that often so I'm willing to bend my rules.

Crunch bars are perfect for anyone that likes the Nature Valley crunchy granola bars. These are a more traditional type of crispy oat bar.

Vegenaise is a vegan, gluten free, and dairy free mayonaise alternative. The ingredients in the original are Non-GMO Expeller-Pressed Canola Oil, Filtered Water, Brown Rice Syrup, Apple Cider Vinegar, Non-GMO Soy Protein, Sea Salt, Mustard Flour, Lemon Juice Concentrate.

In my opinion, Vegenaise is the best but they do have other brands on the market so you may need to try a few to find the one you prefer. I use it mainly on sandwiches and in a couple recipes like dips and salad dressings but because it's oil, it should be used sparingly.

Veggie Burgers

I make my own veggie burgers because they taste better, there are no unnecessary ingredients and they are a whole lot cheaper but I do realize that sometimes buying a box of burgers is easier for some people. Unfortunately, many big brands of burgers do have unnecessary ingredeints but using these as needed and not on a daily basis may be helpful. Personally, the only reason I'd buy them is if I am out of town and staying with someone and was unable to make my own but I'd have to stick with the vegan varieties.

There are many varieties of veggie burgers (grain based, soy protein based, bean based or vegetable based) so you'll need to taste test some but these were my favorites before I went vegan and started making my own but most aren't vegan so I couldn't eat them now anyway!

Morningstar Farms Spicy Black Bean Burgers

Morningstar Farms Garden Veggie Patties

Amy's Kitchen California Burger - just a note about Amy's. That company has some incredible convenience foods so check them out! They have frozen and canned.

Walnut Burger (these have cheese so I can't eat them anymore but they are super good... but fattening... and expensive ... but so worth it!)

Again, I usually make cookies from scratch but I do buy a box here and there so I can use them when I pack a lunch to go someplace. These cookie brands are made with simple, whole ingredients, mostly organic and are free from artificial preservatives, flavors, or colors and they are usually made with non-hydrogenated oils.

You can find versions of your fave non-healthy types of cookies like Thin Mints, Oreos, Fudge Stripes, Nilla Wafers, and even Teddy Grahams!

These are the brands I buy, but there are several others that are good as well:

Back to Nature
Late July Organic Snacks
Newman's Own Organics

Just a note.. these companies make more than just cookies! They have crackers and tons of other products so poke around their websites.

Sorbet & Non-Dairy Ice Cream

I am not an ice cream person by any means. I could go forever without it and it wouldn't bother me a bit. However, a few times a year it looks good to me so I'll buy a container. Non-dairy ice cream is wonderful because there is no cholesterol! However, they do still contain lots of sugar so they should be a once in awhile treat.

Almond Dream Bites - these are yummy almond milk ice cream bites covered in smooth dark chocolate. They have one gram of sugar per bite and I like that I can have just one because that is usually all I want anyway.

Ciao Bella Sorbet (their website never works for me) - I like their sorbet.

There are other bands on non-dairy ice creams like So Delicious made with coconut milk or soy milk, Tofutti made with soy, and a few others. Coconut Bliss uses coconut milk and agave nectar. Try a couple to find the ones you like! You can even find bars and ice cream sandwiches!

Justin's Chocolate Hazelnut Butter Blend

This is my one true indulgence. This is a vegan sort-of version of Nutella. I make my own chocolate almond butter but the cost of hazelnuts and the fact that they need to be roasted and dealt with prevent me from making that homemade. It's pretty much the same price if I make it or Justin makes it so have at it, Justin!

Just a side note regarding palm oils ....  this product contains palm fruit oil, it is not the same as palm kernel oil.

I got this info from Smart Balance regarding the difference: Palm fruit oil comes from the fleshy, orange part of the fruit, and is rich in monounsaturates or “good” fats. Palm kernel oil, on the other hand, comes from the innermost kernel, or nut-like core, of the plant. The kernel contains highly saturated fats that can clog arteries.


Yes, I eat processed cereals BUT I eat the healthy kind. I like Grape-Nuts and Shredded Wheat, which are just.. um.. wheat and whole grains and salt. The junkiest ones you'll find me eating once in awhile are Barbara's Shredded Multigrain Spoonfuls, which is a healthy version of Life cereal and I love to munch on that as a snack and Full Circle Organic Frosted Flakes for when I want to go back to that sugar-bomb cereal fix... but these are made with evaporated cane juice instead of HFCS! I also eat oatmeal, of course and in the dead of winter I'll go for a hot bowl of Malt -O- Meal or Cream of Wheat!

Tofutti Cream Cheese and Sour Cream

Great when you need these types of products but want to stay away from dairy! These are oil so use them sparingly as you would the real thing.

Pirate Brands Original Tings

Hip, vegan Cheetos! Cornmeal, oil, salt and nutritional yeast.. yes, these are seriously junky but sometimes a girl needs something hollow and almost devoid of nutrition and these fit the bill.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.

I recently watched 'Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, a film detailing the 60 day juice fast of Joe Cross. It is an inspiring film that chronicles Joe's personal mission to regain his health. Going on a juice fast for any amount of time is pretty radical for most people but the message in this film is important.

I was so appalled when Joe was talking to strangers he met along his journey. These strangers said many of the same things I'd heard come out of the mouths of people I know and love. I'm so stunned by how people have no regard for their own health and how they can look at the truth and facts in front of them and still make bad choices when it comes to food.

One particular exchange has really stuck with me. One man mentions that he's had heart surgery and Joe wonders if it's changed his eating habits and he says it hasn't. He thinks life is about eating what you enjoy and to hell with health and longevity. Joe wonders if he'd change his diet if he could get an extra 10 years of life and he pretty much says no. He then asks Joe what Joe do with those extra 10 years. Joe asks if the man has kids. The man has 6 kids.

Joe says if he were him, he'd want to be there to watch his kids grow up, get married, find careers. Be a grandpa.

So.. here is my point... if you can't make the change to better nutrition for yourself then maybe your motivation lies with the people you love. Wouldn't you rather not eat that donut so you could walk your daughter down the aisle? How about increasing your vegetable intake rather than be bedridden with cancer in 15 years?

You need to do what is necessary to be there for the people you love. You need to be there as inspiration and wisdom. Not a burden. Living into your 90's isn't going to be fun for anyone if you are popping pills, huffing oxygen and are overweight enough that walking to the car is a chore for you.

My grandmother is 82 years old and she exercises more than I do. She watches what she eats and stays away from sugar as much as possible. I'd like to think that she's here today because she loves her family and she wants to be around as long as she can. She is my last living grandparent and I cannot tell you how much it has meant to me to have had her in my life as an adult, to be able to know her in my forties. I can't imagine my life without her.

As another example, I am sad when I see a motorcycle rider that isn't wearing a helmet. That person may think, 'well, it's a personal choice. It isn't hurting anyone else if I don't wear one'. However, if that rider has a family then it's his repsonsibility to wear a helmet for them. When you have a family or other people depend on you then those people must be considered in any choice you make and that includes whether or not you wear a helmet, how fast you drive your car, how much alcohol you drink, whether or not you do drugs, and what you put in your mouth.

At what point in our lives did the lesson of consequences fall by the way side?

As humans, we make sacrifices daily for our kids but it's time to make choices for ourselves. You have to take care of yourself in order to take care of other people or you'll be the one that has to be taken care of. My main goal as I enter into my second half of life is to not be that person that has multiple prescriptions to take and pay for, to not be that person that needs a caretaker, to not be that person that faces a decision about chemotherapy, radiation or heart surgery, to not be that person that can't fit in an airplane seat. I don't want to have to inject myself with insulin.

I want to do what I can NOW in order to be the best I can be LATER. Don't wait for a heart attack or a diagnosis of diabetes or cancer be your wake up call. Wake up early and do whatever is necessary to not ever get that wake up call in the first place. Stop being so stubborn. Start being smart.

People that live for today very often aren't around for tomorrow.

Do you have the freedom to stuff your face with overly processed, sugar-laden, unhealthy food? Of course you do... but should you? No. You also have the freedom to make better choices every second of the day.

Look into the faces of the people you love and tell them you don't care enough about them to take care of yourself. Don't you want to live to see your grandchildren or great grandchildren? Wouldn't you rather not have to spend $500 a month on medicine because your insurance doesn't cover it? Wouldn't you like to have energy and not be overweight? 

Is that donut or that steak important enough to make you say 'who gives a fuck?'

Stop being selfish.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tips for Going Plant Based - It's a choice.

"Tips For Going Plant Based" will be a series of tips to help you make the move toward a plant based diet. First up, it's a choice.

Going vegan can be scary and daunting or exciting and fun! It all depends how you choose to take on the challenge. The most important thing to remember is that you have the choice to eat right, you have the choice to change your life and health, you have the choice to take control of your future and you can do it with food.

Every day we make hundreds of choices. You choose which shirt to wear with which pants. You choose your makeup for the day, your fragrance, your accessories, your route to work, the list of errands you need to do, where to buy your groceries or which items you mark off on that to do list. Our most important choices are often the ones we hardly think about – food.
What you put into your body will determine what you get from your body.  If you put in junky food, you’ll get junky results. If you put in healthy and nourishing food, your body will reward you with more energy, better digestion, more restorative sleep, a balanced weight, less ailments, a longer life, and the list goes on!

When you decide to change to a plant based diet, you need to remember that you are choosing to do it, No one is forcing you. Even if you’ve had a heart attack or have high blood pressure or diabetes and your doctor says you have to make a change, it is still your choice to do it or not. You can choose to embrace health and well-being or you can choose to feel sorry for yourself and choose to feel deprived.

You choose your reality.
Your attitude will directly influence whether you are successful or not. If you make the statements ‘I cannot live without cheese’ or ‘I will never stop eating burgers’ then you won’t. You’ve already decided to be unsuccessful. You’ve decided that eating correctly is depriving yourself instead of enriching yourself. You’ve decided to fail. You’ve chosen to make things difficult.

Things are only as hard as you make them.

If you want to do it, you will.

If you think it’s going to be difficult, it will be.

Monday, October 24, 2011

What Going Vegan Has Taught Me.... People are obsessed with protein.

The number one question I get when people find out I'm vegan is 'what do you do for protein?'. This question makes me laugh because protein is in almost every food, not just animal foods. You will even find protein in fruit!

I won't get into the nitty gritty about protein because you can go and read books or surf the net if you really want to know the details on why animal protein is bad for you. This blog entry is just meant to alert you to the fact that you do not need to eat animal protein for any health reason.

The average American eats three times the amount of protein that is recommended in a given day. Excess protein can't be stored; it's either broken down and burned for energy, or stored as fat (FYI - extra calories from any source are stored as fat). Animal protein also contains saturated fat, hormones, and cholesterol. Animal protein contains zero fiber. Honestly, it's doing nothing but bad things for you.

The RDA recommends that we eat 0.36 grams of protein per pound that we weigh. If you weigh 150 pounds you should eat 54 grams of protein a day. The numbers change slightly if you are a nursing mother or an active athlete. (fun fact - did you know many famous athletes are vegan?)

Let's look at some protein numbers from animal protein:

3 oz chicken - 29 grams protein
1 egg - 6 grams protein
4 oz of steak  - 24 grams protein
1 cup milk - 8 grams protein
6 oz Porterhouse - 38 grams protein
1 ounce cheese  - 25 grams protein
3 ounces baked cod - 21 grams protein

When was the last time you sat down and only had 1 oz of cheese or 3 ounces of meat? Probably never. If you walk into a restaurant the smallest serving of meat you'll see is probably 8 ounces.
You'll sometimes see a 6 oz filet.

Restaurants serve 2 to 3 times an actual serving on average... but what about those 16 oz t-bones? I've even seen 3 and 4 POUND steaks on the menu.  You can see that getting three times the protein you need is really easy if you eat animals. You are overdosing on protein! Just imagine what that is doing to your body and your arteries. Yuck.

Too much protein is very bad for your body. Eating excess protein has been linked with a shorter life expectancy, increased cancer and heart disease risks, obesity and diabetes, osteoporosis (yes, dairy can cause osteoporosis!), stress on the kidneys and bad digestion. It also makes you feel sluggish, tired and heavy.

Plant protein is full of vitamins, amino acids, minerals, healthy fats and fiber! You can get all the protein you need easily in a balanced, plant based diet. All veggies, fruit, nuts, legumes (beans) and grains have protein!


Another fun fact... plant foods are full of calcium too! I'll cover that another day!

It's nearly impossible to be protein deficient on a vegan diet. The only way it could happen is if you were eating only highly processed foods that were so devoid of nutrition that you were basically living on high fructose corn syrup and simple sugars contained in things like white bread!

Here are the protein grams in various plant foods, legumes, nuts and grains:

3 oz walnuts  - 11 grams
3 oz peanuts - 24 grams
3 oz almonds  - 17 grams
3 oz cashews  - 18 grams
1 cup chickpeas - 8 grams
3 oz Soybeans (tofu and tempeh) - 11 grams
1 cup baked beans - 12 grams
2 slices of whole wheat bread - 5 grams
1 cup soymilk - 7 grams
1 cup oatmeal - 6 grams
1 cup broccoli - 4 grams
1 cup brown rice - 5 grams
2 tbsp peanut butter - 8 grams
1 cup lentils - 18 grams
1 baked potato - 4 grams
1 cup black beans - 15 grams
1 veggie burgers  - 10 to 15 grams
1 cup spinach - 5 grams
3 oz seitan - 31 grams
1 cup tempeh - 41 grams
1 cup whole grain spaghetti - 8 grams
1 scoop soy protein powder - 25 grams (not all are the same)

So, the next time you hear about someone being vegan.. you can skip the protein question because now you know the real story!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Things You Should Make Yourself - 'Instant' Oatmeal

Oatmeal is one of the most perfect and nutritious foods you can eat  and it's perfect for breakfast. It's fast, easy and filling. I don't really understand why people pay money for packets of that instant oatmeal when all oatmeal is essentially instant.

You can have cooked, old-fashioned oatmeal from a microwave in 40 seconds. You can make your own 'instant' oatmeal packets very inexpensively.

It takes me under 2 minutes to make oatmeal in the morning.

You take 1/2 cup of old-fashioned oats and 2/3 cup water and place that in a microwave safe bowl. Micro for about 40 seconds and it's a blank canvas ready for your creativity!

My favorite oatmeal recipe:

Cut a banana in half, take one half and dice it into small chunks and add it to the cooked oatmeal.  Take the other and save it for tomorrow or pop it in the freezer for a smoothie later on. Take a couple tablespoons of walnuts and toss those in, sprinkle in a little cinnamon and a tsp or two of real maple syrup.

To make packets, just measure out the 1/2 cup oats, add in some powdered sweetener like sucanat or evaporated cane juice (not a lot!), cinnamon and if you like dried fruit and nuts, add those. You can dehydrate your own fruits or buy them. These days you can even find more exotic dried fruits like strawberries and mango if you know where to look. Of course, you can also take fresh fruit with you and toss that in.

Then all you need is access to some water and a microwave. Think of how much money you'll save, not to mention the benefits of not eating preservatives and a ton of sugar.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Original Recipe - Shelly's Vegan Parmesan

I don't make up recipes that often but when I do, I will post them here.

This is a recipe for a vegan 'parmesan' that you can use in caesar salads, on pasta or pizza and even veggies!

You'll want to use a high powered blender. I tried this in my food processor and I couldn't get it fine enough. Also, I made it kinda salty because to me, that is what parmesan is so if you don't like salt, cut back on it and add it in while you're taste testing. But.. you probably aren't eating this by the spoonful so salty is ok in that regard. LOL

I used a crystallized lemon powder in mine for tanginess but you could probably leave it out if you wanted to.

Shelly's Vegan Parmesan

1/2 cup raw cashews
1 tsp Garlic Gold Nuggets (or sub in garlic powder or garlic flakes)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 sugar packet size True Lemon or citric acid
1/8 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tbsp nutritional yeast

Blend ingredients in blender until it is fine like parmesan cheese. Store in a jar.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Things You Should Make Yourself - Granola

Granola is a healthy and delicious snack and it can also double as a quick bowl of cereal with your homemade almond milk or as a topping for fresh fruit! Try it mixed into non-dairy yogurt!

Granola can be pricey if you buy it in a store but it's super easy to make and you can modify it to suit your individual taste. Plus, this makes your house smell amazing! This is a great thing to take traveling too. I take a container of this when I have to get on a plane.

I know that tastes vary when it comes to nuts and dried fruits so feel free to sub in whatever you like... just keep the measurements the same.  You want a total of 2 cups of nuts/dried fruit.

I do encourage you to try and do a nice variety of flavors and textures. It's good to expand your horizons and different nuts give you different vitamins, minerals and benefits. You may want to make this as it is written the first time and then decide how to change it later on.

Give it a chance.

If you like the salty-sweet angle... you may want to add large flake sea salt to taste. I like to get a nice spot of saltiness once in awhile so I do add larger flaked salt in addition to the 1 tsp of fine sea salt in the recipe.

Don't ignore the flax and wheat germ in this recipe. It's really good for you and you won't even know it's there!  Quick note about the syrup.. I prefer to use mostly brown rice syrup as it doesn't affect blood sugar like maple syrup does. The maple syrup is there for it's distinct flavor, not sweetness.
Don't you dare use corn syrup or I will hunt you down and kill you. Seriously. (wink)

I adapted this from Alicia Silverstone's granola recipe in 'The Kind Diet' book.

6 cups quick oats
Cinnamon (as much as you think you want)
1/2 cup flax seed (ground)
3/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded or flaked coconut
1/2 cup roasted sunflower seeds or pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1/3 cup slivered almonds
1/3 cup walnuts (I like to break these into halves.. don't use chopped, you want texture)
1/3 cup dried fruit of choice (raisins, cherries, cranberries - mix or match)
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup safflower or canola oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract
2 tbsp sucanat or brown sugar
3/4 cup non-refined syrup (use real maple or brown rice syrup ONLY - I like a ratio of 2:1 brown rice syrup to maple syrup)
1 cup mini chocolate chips or carob chips (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1. Spread the oats on a cookie sheet and toast for 10 minutes.
2. In a LARGE bowl, combine oats, sugar, wheat germ, flax seed, cinnamon, nuts, fruits, salt and coconut. Mix well.
3. In a smaller bowl, combine oil, syrup, and extracts and mix to combine.
4. Add wet ingredients to the dry and mix well.
5. Using two large cookie sheets with sides, place half of the granola on each pan and bake for 10 minutes and then stir and keep baking in 5 minute increments, stirring after each session, until slightly browned but not overly done. Watch it carefully. Do not run off and read Facebook while it's baking!

Cool and then stir is the mini chocolate chips if you are using those. Store in an air-tight container.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Things You Should Make Yourself - Veggie Burgers

I think most people are first introduced to vegetarian or vegan food thru veggie burgers.

There are quite a few brands on the market - Boca, Gardenburger, Morningstar Farms, and Amy's, just to name a few.

They may tate ok but homemade burgers taste better, plus the price of boxed veggie burgers makes me insane. A box of veggie burgers runs $3 to $6 at the store for 4 patties.

Plus, they sometimes have ingredients that I'm really not interested in consuming.

Homemade is less expensive and 100% better tasting with no weird ingredients. Yes, you can even freeze them to reheat later! Plus, they are really simple to make.

The hardest part is deciding what type of veggie burger you want. There are a few basic varieties.

Grain based - these usually have brown rice or quinoa plus veggies and spices.

Bean based - these are most often black bean or chickpea based.

Veggie based - these are mostly veggies held together with a flour. A portabella mushroom can be a burger all on it's own!

Soy and TVP (textured vegetable protein) based -  tofu, TVP or tempeh burgers,

The reason I love veggie burgers is because they are versatile. I can eat them like a traditional burger, on a bun with fresh veggie toppings and a smear of vegan mayo, without a bun as my main dish or I can chop them up and use them as an ingredient is another dish, like black bean burgers are great in tacos!

You can google for hundreds of fabulous recipes for all different kinds of veggie burgers but here are two of my favorites from Josh at My Vegan Cookbook:

I like to make a double batch of the black bean burgers and then freeze them after I've cooked them.  Just put a piece of wax paper inbetween them and you can grab one anytime for a quick meal!

By the way, Josh has some fantastic recipes.. I don't think I've made a bad one yet!  In fact, his Chick Spread and his Vegan Meatballs are two of my most fave meals ever!

With the chick Spread, I leave out the tofu (and don't notice any difference) but i add in some nutritonal yeast and some vegan 'chicken' bouillon. The meatballs make a great meaty sauce by cooking the mixture up like burger in a pan and adding it to a pan of sauteed onions and mushrooms and a jar of your fave pasta sauce. I've also heard it's good in chili!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Most people would take the blue pill.

In the movie, The Matrix, Keanu Reeves’ character is given the choice between taking the red pill which will show him truth and reality or taking the blue pill, which will keep him in his dream-like world. Of course, he chooses the red pill and finds out that everything he thought was real and true .. isn’t.

I too have taken the red pill.  Once you take the red pill.. there is no turning back and you cannot stick your head back in the sand. You suddenly realize that everything you’ve been taught, doesn’t make sense anymore.

When it comes to the animals and animal products we eat, most people will happily take the blue pill so they can go on living in their idyllic fantasy world. It’s a world where cows frolic happily in green pastures on sunny days and wander lazily across open acres. It’s where pigs roll around in mud puddles and sleep the days away under big trees. It’s where chickens are allowed to run free, roost in nests and enjoy taking dirt baths.

In truth, 99% of the animals and animal products you consume come from factory farms.  ‘Life’ on a factory farm is anything but idyllic.

For cows that will become steaks and hamburgers, they are packed into muddy, grass free feed lots and forced to eat grains, which is not their natural diet.  They are pumped full of antibiotics to fend off the diseases they get from not eating a proper diet and are given growth hormones so they get bigger than normal to produce more meat. They are stressed and frightened. When slaughter time comes they are herded thru a building where they get a bolt to the head (and if they are lucky it will knock them out but that isn’t always the case) and are hung from their feet, throat slit and allowed to bleed out and they are disemboweled while still alive. Pigs suffer a similar fate. Breeder pigs are kept in a small cage where they can’t even turn around and are forced to produce babies that enter the system.

For dairy cows, the horrors are two-fold … in order for a cow to give milk, they must be pregnant (just like a human) so they are forcibly raped and impregnated by a man with a syringe only to have their baby stolen from them at birth so humans can steal the baby’s milk. Mother and baby are distraught at the separation. The baby girls are put into the system to become milk cows and the baby boys are tossed into small, dark crates to become veal. When dairy cows are ‘spent’ after about 5 years (even though the average life span of a cow is over is 20 years) they will  be slaughtered for meat.

Chickens you eat are fattened up with hormones so they can’t even walk. They are packed into cages and taken to slaughter where they are first hung by their feet and are passed thru a neck slicing station (many chickens manage to survive that part) and are then dropped into scalding hot water (some are still alive), their feathers are torn out and then they are butchered.

Egg laying chickens lead an even more horrible life. Packed by pairs (or more) into crates no larger than a piece of paper, they are injected with hormones to over produce eggs. Wild hens naturally lay about 17 eggs a YEAR. Hens in a factory farm lay daily. Chickens are debeaked, a horrific practice where the sharp tips of their beaks are sliced off in order to prevent them from pecking one another to death in their close quarters due to the stress. In the hatchery, boy chickens are removed from the group and considered ‘by product’ since they cannot lay eggs and they are not profitable. They are tossed into large hoppers and ground up alive and used as feed meal in dog food and very often are fed back to the other chickens in their feed.

You may think ‘free range’ or ‘cage free’ is better but it really isn’t. Chickens are never housed outside in the fresh air. All cage free means is that they are housed in a large, enclosed building.  

There is no such thing as ‘humane slaughter’. Perhaps if we euthanized feed animals as we do our beloved pets and death row criminals, (a drug that puts them to sleep and another that stops their hearts), then maybe that would be a little easier to swallow but that would be expensive and time consuming. Killing something is never humane.

Some people think it’s ok to eat animals if they come from independent family farms. While it’s possible the smaller farms aren’t injecting their animals with hormones and aren’t cruel to their animals and may even have them housed in an outdoor pasture with real grass, the fact remains that the butchering is usually done by the same slaughterhouses that do the factory farming slaughters. Even if it isn’t, that animal is still terrified and treated in a cruel manner in the final moments of its life. I just don’t know how anyone can justify eating a being under that kind of stress and fear. That can’t be ok for your soul or your karma.

It might make you feel better eating eggs from a local farm where they don’t feed their chickens hormones or keep them in cages but the reality is that eggs are not healthy and shouldn’t be eaten anyway. Consuming flesh, milk, cheese and other dairy products is bad for your health. It’s documented. It’s fact. It’s killing you and the ones you love.

Take the red pill.

Educate and enlighten yourself.  Be brave enough to step up and be willing to really learn about the food you put into your body. Don’t be the person that sticks their head in the sand and says “I don’t want to know!” I’m not saying you have to give up eating animals and animal products but I’d like you to see the truth and the reality and then make an informed choice. I’m pretty sure anyone that has done that has switched to a plant based diet. The horrors are real. The science is real. The reality is shocking and sad but you can make a difference in your life and in your health and you can find a quiet peace within yourself if you stop contributing to slaughter and fear and suffering and pain.

There is no reason to eat animals or animal products. There is no health reason to eat animals or animal products. Whatever it is you want to eat, there is a plant based alternative.  

Thursday, August 11, 2011

What Going Vegan Has Taught Me.... Everyone is a nutrition expert.

In this multi-part series I will talk about things that I've learned since going vegan a year ago.

 I am very often stunned by how non-vegans are suddenly experts on vegan nutrition. “You won’t get enough protein if you’re a vegan!”, “How are you going to get your calcium?” and “you need meat to survive!” are just some of the comments I get on a regular basis.

I have questions for those people … “do you have any idea how many grams of protein a day you should consume?”, “Did you know calcium is in green, leafy vegetables and that excess animal protein leeches the calcium OUT of your bones?” and “Did you know that humans are not physically constructed to even eat meat? Take a look at your teeth and intestinal track”

Yes, it's possible you know a friend of a friend that tried to go vegan and got sick.. that is because there are many people that don't bother to find out what a healthy diet entails even if they aren't choosing to follow a plant based diet..... those folks are 'junk food vegans', people who live on soda, oreos and french fries.. all are vegan but all are unhealthy. Those people wouldn't be healthy no matter what. It has nothing to do with being vegan.

I am getting advice from people that can’t even tell me what their own nutritional needs are. To those people I need to say this “I’ve done lots and lots of research and I’m confident that I know exactly what and how to eat in order to maintain my health."

Open letter to everyone that has questioned my lifestyle:

I get that following a plant based diet is threatening to you. I get that it forces you to take a look at your own diet and your own health and your own ethics and to reevaluate everything you've ever been taught. I get that it's strange and new to you and weird.

I get that you have it in your mind that I must be deprived, starving, sad and depressed because I don't eat meat and I'm forced to eat icky food all day long.

I just ask that you educate yourself before attempting to take on someone who is following a plant base diet because chances are that person knows what they're doing and can most likely debate you off your feet regarding plant based nutrition.

I've read book after book and article after article. I've watched online lectures and I've spent hours online reading blogs and websites devoted to being vegan. I have a big library of books by the top experts in the medical, nutrition and fitness fields. I have it figured out. Now, if you have questions about following a plant based diet, I'm happy to help but please don't drag out the same old tired excuses for why I can't be healthy unless I eat animals and products that come from animals.

Science and research say otherwise. 

Also, I'm a foodie and I love to eat and my days are filled with amazing, whole, fresh and delicious foods that are not only good for me but are every bit as satisfying and tasty as the food you eat.  There is rarely anything in my diet that causes me guilt. I eat all day long as much as I want and I'm able to maintain my weight because I eat foods that are nourishing me instead of destroying me. I never miss anything because there is always a vegan substitute available.

Make tomorrow a meatless day!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Happy Anniversary to ME!

August 6, 2010 was the day I decided to go vegan after being a vegetarian for 7 years. When I went vegetarian I did it 'cold turkey' and I knew I had to do the same when I decided to go vegan. I know some people need gradual change but for me,  it's all or nothing when it comes to a lifestyle change. I don't handle some change well so my personality dictates that I either jump in or I don't do it at all.

I think many vegetarians eventually find their way to becoming vegan. I did it for a couple reasons. Ethically, I couldn't lie to myself any longer about egg production and how chickens are treated. It doesn't matter if they are 'free range' or 'cruelty free' or 'cage free' because egg production can't be anything but cruel unless you have your own chickens and gather eggs for your own family. Don't fool yourself into believing that the eggs you buy with the fancy certifications are ok to eat. Chickens naturally lay about 17 eggs a year so for chickens to lay eggs daily means they are being 'helped' and that is something I want no part of.

I also couldn't pretend that consuming dairy was ok because 'the cow isn't killed for it's milk.' Dairy cows endure something even more horrific - their babies are stolen. Cows don't just 'give milk', they are mammals, just like us, so in order for  mammals to produce milk they need to be pregnant so a cow is forcibly raped and impregnanted and then when they give birth, their baby is ripped away from them. Female babies go into the diary cow life to start the horrific process over again and male babies are tossed into a tiny crate, left alone and scared, to become veal.

Cows yearn for their babies and they bellow for them. Baby cows do the same. In order for you to drink that milk, the baby must be denied. I find that cruel and horrific. I cannot be a part of that. I especially cannot be a part of that knowing I don't have to be a part of it. There is no reason for humans to drink the milk of another species. Human babies need human breastmilk, yes... but only as long as it takes for them to grow and get on solid food. There are acceptable and yummy alternatives to dairy products.

Plus, not consuming dairy is healthier.... which leads me to my second reason for going vegan.

I've done a lot of research on the plant based diet.  I've read both sides and it is my belief that a plant based diet is the most healthy diet and the most natural diet for a human being. I won't get into the scientific explainations of how our bodies are not designed to process flesh and dairy products but you can research on your own if you are interested.

My original thought when going egg and dairy free was to see if my health improved. I decided to try going vegan for a couple weeks to see if I could notice any change, any differences. I actually expected to go back to eating dairy on a very limited basis, mostly because I had it in my head (like most vegetrians looking to go vegan) that I probably couldn't live without cheese.

I was wrong.

I can and I do live without cheese. Well, I still have 'cheese' but it's a homemade vegan version and it's fantastic and it's healthy so I can indulge and enjoy it, knowing I'm nourishing my body istead of harming it.

Once I had dairy out of system I felt lighter and better. A fog was lifted. I got a flatter stomach, I rarely have any stomach issues, my skin cleared up and my conscience was clear. I also no longer have rapid heartbeat, which was something I'd have a couple times a year.

Going vegan was pretty easy for me but when I decide to do something, I do it. I still struggle when I'm out in restaurants because I like to be in control of my food so it's hard when someone else is cooking for you and they don't share your beliefs or even understand them. I often take my own food to events like parties, cookouts or picnics. I do that because I want to continue eating the right foods and not compromise unless I absolutely have no other choice.

For me, the key to being successful at avoiding certain things is to make those things very undesireable. I did a ton of research to find out why eggs and dairy were so bad for my body. I found out what is actually in dairy (yuck) and that made it pretty easy to avoid it. Thinking about what an egg actually is made it simple to avoid those but the reason I'm successful is because I have a vast vegan universe at my fingertips - the internet!

Over the past year I've had a few food cravings that involve dairy so I've gotten online to do a search for things I want to make that are traditionally dairy and egg filled like mac & cheese, cakes, cookies, fudge, cheese and others. I have been successfully able to find a vegan version of everything I want to eat. I am not deprived nor am I starving. I eat and eat and eat and what I eat is fantastic and full of flavor and best of all it's good for me.

I've also found new friends, vegan friends that have taught me and supported me and have become a beacon in the non-vegan jungle. I've lost friends by going vegan but that just shows me who my true friends are. I've inspired people to try going meatless or making the move toward becoming vegan. I've opened the eyes of countless people who had no idea about cruelty or ingredients.

My heart led me to being a vegetarian (I wouldn't eat my dog so why would I eat a chicken?) and my head keeps me there (it's the healthiest way to eat) and my goal going forward is that I not become part of the system - the system of sickness, surgery and popping pills to manage diet and lifestyle related diseases like cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity. I will not go willingly into the second half of my life as a victim of the government and a victim of processed food. I will take control instead of having choices made for me.

So, a year into being vegan has made me wish I started years ago but the truth is that you have to start somewhere and you have to make the choice to not take what you are given and to start questioning what you've been told and taught and brainwashed to believe.

You must sit down and do it. You can be free of pain and unwanted pounds, you can have energy and feel good. You can cure and stop the progression of disease. You can stop taking medications and start nourishing your body with the food that empowers it. You only get one body and you should take care of it instead of trying to sabotage it. You probably take better care of your car than you do your own body.

Finding true health is 80% diet, 10% exercise and 10% genes. Exercise is for your cardiovascular health, muscle fitness and stress relief. You can't do anything about your genes but you can control your diet. You control what goes in your mouth.

Following a plant based diet isn't about giving things up, it's about finding new things and choosing to be selective about what passes your lips. A plant based diet is full of whole and fresh foods. You can eat a ton of food and still maintain a healthy weight when it's good for you and not processed and full of sugars and chemicals that your body can't process.

I am always here for anyone that needs guidance and advice. I am no expert but I've learned a lot over the past 8 years and I'd like to be a beacon in the non-vegan jungle as others have been a beacon for me.

So, happy anniversary to me. and yes, that's a vegan cupcake.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Diet is not a four letter word.

Well, techinically... it IS four letters but it isn't a swear word for me.

When I say the word ‘diet’, many people have a negative reaction to that word. The word conjures up thoughts of unhappiness, deprivation, starvation and feelings of inadequate willpower.
In my life, the word ‘diet’ simply means ‘what I eat’. I’m never on what people call a diet because 95% of the food I eat is healthy and good for me so you can’t really get fat on those kinds of foods, no matter how much you eat and that naughty 5% doesn't do too much damage! 
A clean, whole , plant based diet (ie: the foods you eat)  is the true secret to losing and maintaining your weight. You nourish your body instead of destroy it. Stop putting ingredients into your body that your body cannot recognize. 
Like many people, I currently have about 7 to 10 pounds I’d like to lose. That puts me where I feel most comfortable but because I’m currently in the ‘normal’ range for my height, I haven’t really been stressing over that last 10 pounds.
If you think being on a plant based diet is difficult, restrictive or boring then you need to do a little more research!

I eat all day long (every 2 to 3 hours) and I’m rarely hungry and I’m never deprived.  I can always find a vegan version of whatever I’m craving. (Thank you Google!) It makes me laugh when people think I have a limited diet because I'm vegan. I really don't. I just don't eat animals and I don't eat garbage.
That leaves an amazing array of foods I do choose to eat!
I make many things homemade so I can control the ingredients … almond milk, nut butter, veggie and bean burgers, soups, and salad dressings. I avoid processed foods as much as possible and I also avoid refined sugars, preferring to use maple syrup, brown rice syrup and sucanat. I also use evaporated cane juice for baking.

Here is a list of things I commonly eat and drink but there are so many more things I enjoy:

Every morning I start with a big glass of ice water with barley grass juice, Natural Calm (magnesium) and lemon juice to get my body going.  I sip plain ice water thru the day.  I very rarely drink anything besides water. If I do, it will be unsweetened caffeine free tea or almond milk.

Steel cut oats or old fashioned oats with dark chocolate and walnuts or a little nut butter stirred in. I also like it with walnuts and half a banana (freeze the other half for a smoothie!)

 A smoothie with almond milk, fruit, flax seed, spinach, maca, cacao and protein powder.

 An apple with nut butter.

Homemade soup, side salad and fresh fruit. I try and make some sort of soup every week. I also freeze it.

Night out – two veggie sushi rolls and a side salad with ginger dressing. (This is the only time I ever eat white rice. If your sushi place has brown rice, get that instead!)

Homemade cashew ‘cheese’ on Triscuits.

A handful of fresh fruit and a handful of nuts.

Whole wheat pasta with a tomato sauce and lots of veggies or with lentil ‘meat’ sauce.

Chickpea cutlet with mashed potato, gravy and a veggie.

Miso soup, stir fried rice with lots of veggies and a veggie egg roll.

Vegan nachos with beans, fresh tomatoes, onions  and a vegan queso sauce.

Hummus with Triscuits and veggies.

Roasted veggie plate (just toss a bunch of veggies in the oven and roast ‘em)

Night out – Thai food – veggies, sometimes a little tofu, brown rice and a vegan egg roll.

Chia seed pudding made with almond milk and cinnamon.

Low sugar, high fiber, natural cereals with homemade almond milk. (Grape Nuts & Shredded Wheat)

Whole wheat English muffin with nut butter or no sugar fruit preserves.

Night out – Mediterranean food - hummus, falafel, and salad.

Red beans and rice, homemade guacamole and a little salsa with chips for dipping.

Whole wheat pancakes with fresh berries, walnuts and maple syrup.

Vegan mac & cheese.

Vegan ice cream topped with vegan hot fudge or vegan caramel sauce.

Panini with vegan cashew ‘cheese’ , sun-dried tomato pesto and thin sliced veggies on sourdough bread.

Homemade granola.

A dinner salad with lots of veggies, homemade croutons, beans, and walnuts.

Baked sweet potato with cinnamon, maple syrup and walnuts.

Fresh stove popped popcorn with salt and my vegan ‘parmesan cheese’.

Homemade veggie or black bean burgers on a whole wheat bun.  I make these and freeze them!

Once in a while I’ll have vegan ‘meats’ like Field Roast sausages or Lightlife Tempeh but I try to only eat those a few times a year since they are processed. I’d rather eat clean.

Chickpea salad (it’s much like chicken salad) on whole wheat bread or in a salad.

Cookout – vegan baked beans, vegan potato salad, fresh fruit and some sort of veggie burger

Bean tacos or burritos.

Chili with vegan cornbread.

Baked potato topped with vegan ‘butter’, salt, fresh mushrooms and green onions.

Night out  - thin crust pizza with mushrooms, black olives and no cheese. I like to bring my vegan nut cheese to sprinkle on top instead.

Vegan cookies, bars, cakes and other yummies!  (but not every day!)

Warm brown rice with almond milk, a little maple syrup and some cinnamon.

Junk food – yes, even I eat junk food but it may not be as junky as you’d expect. My junk foods are vegan  baked goods, Fritos, non-dairy dark chocolate, cane juice sweetened organic frosted flakes, I even snack on Cap’n Crunch once in a while! If we are out someplace and I can’t find anything else, I might have some french fries. A few times a year I’ll buy vegan ice cream or sorbet but I’m not a big ice cream eater.
Does that list sound like I'm an unhappy, deprived and bored vegan? 
Note: Always remember that junk is ok if you rarely eat it. Junk should never be kept in the house if you have any sort of self discipline issue... instead, you should have to make an effort to go and get whatever junky food you are wanting to eat and then you should buy a single serving. Surround yourself with delicious healthy foods and you can't make mistakes!