Monday, February 27, 2012

Original Recipe - Shelly's Cashew Ranch Dressing

If you knew me back in the day before I started eating a plant based diet, you knew me as fat and unhealthy with an IV in my arm that was dripping ranch dressing. I used it on everything and it showed.

I am trying to not use processed oils unless I have to so I wanted to come up with a dressing that I could use that would keep me satisfied and away from my favorite dressings that were made with olive oil.

I wanted a yummy vegan ranch that did not use any sort of processed oils, tofu, nut milk, non-dairy sour cream or non-dairy mayo.  I wanted a dressing that had a great mouth feel - thick, creamy, rich and delicious.

I made this a subtle flavored dressing because veggies taste good... they don't need a strong flavor overpowering them. Dressing should enhance, not cover. Plus, the cashews give you the natural fat that you need to help digest the veggies!

If you want a yummy ranch dip for veggies, just add less water. I created this recipe using dried herbs because it's February in Illinois and that is what is available in my house right now!

TIP:  Make spice packets for later. Set out individual bowls and measure out the spices into each one. Place the spice blend from each bowl into a baggie. Then you just have to add a baggie of the spices to the cashews and water when you want to make it. Saves time! It's just like buying packs from the grocery store except this doesn't contain MSG and crap ingredients.

Feel free to share my recipe but I want you to link back to this page on my blog when doing so. Thank you!

Shelly's Cashew Ranch Dressing

1 cup raw cashews (soaked at least one hour.. go 4 hours if you don't have a VitaMix or BlendTec)
3/4 to 1 1/8 cup water (depends on how thick you want it)

4 tsp dried parsley
2 tsp dried chives
2 tsp lemon juice (fresh squeezed if you can)
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dill
1 1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp smoked paprika (regular is fine too)

1. Soak cashews in water for at least an hour.
2. Drain the cashews, rinse and combine them with 3/4 cup fresh water in a strong blender.
3. Blend until it's basically smooth.
4. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and blend, blend, blend until it's nice and smooth.
5. Add as much of the remaining water as necessary until you reach the desired consistency for dressing or dip.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Tips for Going Plant Based - Take it one step at a time.

When I saw this illustration, I thought it needed it's own blog post! This illustration can apply to any change... like exercise. However, I'm going to talk about the stages of moving towards a plant based diet.

Which step are you on? What will you do today to move up a step?

I Won't Do it.

This person has no interest in a plant based diet. They live on junky processed food, lots of cheese and dairy. They think a meal isn't a meal without a slab of flesh or a pile of body parts on their plate. They rarely eat vegetables and drinking water is a punishment. They refuse to cook and they make excuses like they are too busy or they can't afford to eat healthy food. This person hasn't taken the time to think about their food. They make fun of those following a plant based diet and they try to make excuses against eating healthy. They give advice when they know nothing of the topics relating to diet, exercise and nutrition. They think life is short so they should just eat all the shit they want because death is coming anyway.

I Can't Do It

This person doesn't have the self belief and courage that change can actually happen. They think they couldn't live without cheese or ice cream. They think life isn't worth living without 6 cans of soda a day. They think change is too hard and too far beyond their reach. They give up without trying because they can't handle disappointment. They don't understand that they choose their reality. They live in a prison of excuses because it's easier than trying to break free.

I Want To Do It

This person has started to use their brain a little. They are open to hearing about plant based diets. They start to think that maybe it actually makes some sense. They see others that have lost weight and gained health. They see that a plant based diet prevents and reverses disease. They are curious. They think that maybe.. it could be something they could do.

How Do I Do It?

This person wants to put their desire into action. They are hungry for knowledge and insight. This person will seek out books, lectures, documentaries and articles about choosing a plant based lifestyle. (ie: Forks Over Knives).  They will research both sides to find their truths and their experts.They will start reaching out to others who are more knowledgeable and ask questions. They will seek guidance. They are open to trying new foods and recipes.

I'll Try To Do It

They want to believe that choosing to eat a plant based diet is what will finally bring them to the light of breaking through their pain, disease, health and weight issues so they decide to commit to a plant based diet.  They will tell themselves that they will try for a certain period of time in order to test the waters to see if change can happen and that the change probably isn't permanent because nothing has every worked before.

I Can Do It

This person is successful during their test period and they begin to see the changes in their weight and well-being. They now have the self esteem to be stronger and more courageous. They begin to see what may come to them if they continue. They understand that it's only as hard as you make it and soon their previous excuses can hold no water.

I Will Do It

This person understands that change is real. They feel better, they look better, their issues have lessened. Perhaps they have gotten off medication, had an increase in their energy level, seen a favorable change in their blood work or gone down a size in their jeans. They come to understand that plant based eating is the key to opening the door to health, and a happy life free from disease, weight issues and medication. It can be done if you choose to do it, if you want to do it.. you will do it.

Yes, I Did it!

This person is living comfortably in a plant based lifestyle. The know how simple it is. How easy it is. They understand they will do this for the rest of their life. They will encourage others to dip their toe in the test waters to see what changes they can bring for themselves. They are the knowledge. They are wisdom.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Beware of Carrageenan

A number of years ago when I first decided to become vegetarian, I started buying soy milk and when I consumed it I would get a terrible stomach and intestinal pain that made me wonder if I were allergic to soy in some way.

I realized that the pain was the same sharp and intense pain that I experienced when I drank Slim Fast in a can years prior (the prepared type) so I did some research and discovered they had an unfamiliar ingredient in common – carrageenan.

Carrageenan is a gel produced from red seaweed and it's used as a thickener and emulsifier. There are two types - undegraded and degraded. Undegraded is allowed in food products.

Upon further research I discovered that consumption of carrageenan may have a role in intestinal inflammation and possibly inflammatory bowel disease, ulcers and maybe even stomach cancer. Some people may have an allergy or sensitivity to carrageenan and they may mistakenly believe they actually have an allergy or sensitivity to dairy or soy products since the ingredients is so prevalent in those types of products. If you’ve had this stomach/intestinal pain in the past and think you can’t eat dairy and/or soy, you may want to seek out products without carrageenan to see if that is your problem. Agar is similar so you may wish to avoid it as well.

The stuff is in a ton of products. I started using a new toothpaste and I couldn’t figure out why I was getting sore and red gums after using that particular kind but not with the natural toothpastes I had.. then I realized.. it had carrageenan in it. I had never even thought to look in my toothpaste for it and i was shocked that it caused me issues without even ingesting it. Close-Up Toothpaste is free from carrageenan if you want a less expensive alternative to natural toothpaste.

It may not affect everyone but if you’ve ever had any sort of stomach or intestinal pain, you may want to start avoiding it to see if it could be why you have issues.

It's rather difficult to avoid if you eat processed foods and dairy products. I no longer eat dairy, but when I did .. I know that Daisy sour cream is free of it and I did find one regional cottage cheese that didn’t have it in there but it’s difficult to find products without it. For me, I’ve found I can use small amounts (say a splash of soy milk on cereal or if it's in a non-liquid product) but if I drink a soy milk with it in there, say in a smoothie, I get really sick.

There are a few nut based milks that do not have it, but most do. It can also be found in infant formula so if your baby is having issues, please check for it.

The symptoms of a carrageenan allergy or sensitivity:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal bloating
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea

Carrageenan is a seaweed derivative that is used in MANY foods and products… here are just a few things you’ll find it in:

  • Dairy products: chocolate milk, eggnog, condensed milk, evaporated (canned) milk, milk powder, cheeses (such as cottage cheese, cream cheese), yogurts, spreads, whipping cream substitutes, puddings, whey
  • Dried nuts and seeds, nut spreads
  • Fat spreads and fat-based desserts
  • Custard (frozen)
  • Sherbets, sorbets, ice creams
  • Dessert gels, fruit jellies
  • Processed fruits, jams, pie filling
  • Dried mushrooms, seaweeds
  • Soybean products, such as soy milk
  • Nut milks, such as almond milk
  • Canned vegetables, legumes, fruits, meats and fish
  • Pimento olive stuffing
  • Processed meats, edible sausage casings
  • Confectionery: chocolate
  • Ready-to-eat cereals
  • Pre-cooked pasta, soups
  • Rice pudding, rice cake, tapioca pudding
  • Pizza
  • Savouries
  • Batters
  • Processed egg products
  • Vinegar, mustards, sauces (like barbecue), salad dressings, relishes and other condiments
  • Dietetic foods for weight loss
  • Infant formulas
  • Dietary supplements
  • Non-alcoholic drinks: energy and sport drinks, syrups
  • Alcoholic drinks: apple cider, perry (from fermented pears), mead, beer, distilled beverages, aromatized alcoholic drinks
  • Pills and syrups (like cough syrup)
  • Toothpastes
  • Laxatives
  • Air freshener gels
  • Cosmetic products
  • Dog foods and other pet foods
  • Lubricants
  • Paints (water-based)
  • Pesticides
  • Shoe polish

Carrageenan is also used to de-ice airplanes and in the Alien movies as saliva.

Here are a couple articles to read as well and the internet has lots more…

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What Going Vegan Has Taught Me - People Are Completely Unaware.

This blog post is for all the meat eating, dairy tossing, unhealthy 
lifestyle folks. You need to make a change.

I don't eat that much meat.
I don't eat that much dairy.
I don't eat that many eggs.
I don't eat that much sugar.
I don't eat that many processed foods.
I don't drink that much coffee.
I don't drink that much alcohol.
I don't consume that much high fructose corn syrup.
I don't smoke that many cigarettes.
I don't eat that much fast food.
I don't eat that many cookies.
I don't drink that much soda.
I don't eat out that much.
I don't have that much money to spend on healthy food.

I'd love for you to spend one week paying attention to what you consume... perhaps keep a food journal. Food journals can open your eyes to your reality. They can help you pinpoint what areas need attention. 

I'm not saying change what you consume.. just become aware. Be honest. Write it all down.

I can't tell you how many times I've heard people utter one (or many) of the statements above. Often times, they utter those statements right after or as they are consuming those very items. Open your eyes. Open your brain..... learn.

Think about your daily life.... how many meals do you have some sort of meat? some dairy? what products have eggs in them? do you read labels and know how many grams of sugar is in the food you eat? do you know the maximum number of grams of sugar you should have in a day? how many of the things you eat on a daily basis have more than a few ingredients? do you know what those ingredients actually are? can you tell me which foods in your house have high fructose corn syrup in them? how many grams of protein should you consume each day? which fruits and veggies should you buy organic? how many beers or glasses of wine do you have in a week? how many cigarettes do you smoke each day? when you have cookies, do you have a serving of 2 or do you eat 5? how many cans of soda do you have in a day, a week a month? how much do bananas cost per pound? how many Triscuits are in a serving? how much does a pound of brown rice cost? how about a pound of beans?

Start reading labels. Start paying attention to ingredients and portion sizes. Start measuring and counting things. Start looking at the prices on the food you buy .. or the food you avoid buying. 

Make a list of the foods you throw out each week.

Next time you go shopping... divide the junk from the healthy stuff in your cart and then add up the cost of the junk you place in your cart. Compare the price of the whole wheat bread to the processed white bread. Go and look at the prices of the foods you tell me you can't afford to buy

Look at how much money you'd save if you stopped buying alcohol, cigarettes, chips, cookies, meat, dairy, fancy coffee drinks, fast food and processed foods.

Did you know ... a salad dressing serving is one to two tablespoons?  one serving of Girl Scouts cookies is usually 2 cookies? a serving of cheese is 1 oz? a serving of meat is 3 oz? a 20 ounce bottle of soda is 2.5 servings? a standard container of oatmeal has 30 servings in it? a serving of most boxed cereal is 3/4 of a cup? a serving of ice cream is 1/2 cup.

It's time.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Got Excuses?

I could never give up cheese.

I can't bake without butter and eggs.

I can't afford healthy foods.

I don't have time to cook.

If you want to stop eating cheese, you can and you will. You choose to eat it. You control what you put into your mouth.

If you want to learn to bake without cow milk, cow butter and chicken eggs, there are thousands of recipes out there waiting for you and suitable ingredient alternatives. People have already done the work for you and created recipes.. you just have to click 'print' or open the cookbook.

If you stopped buying cigarettes, alcohol, designer purses, and shitty, processed, fast, unhealthy and junky food .. you'd have plenty of money for vegetables, fruits, grains and nuts.  If you started eating right you'd probably get off the medications you're spending money on every month too.

You choose not to make the time to cook. There are very few people that don't have the time to cook. I know people that have full-time jobs, have kids, go to college, have second jobs, volunteer, and have hobbies and they all manage to work in cooking if they choose to. It's a priority and a choice that you aren't making. Taking a few hours to prep food for the week is a choice you need to make.

If you want to do something.. you will.  If you don't want to do something then own that... say 'I don't want to do it' instead of making an excuse why you can't. But.. if you decide to make those choices then you need to accept that you may never have what you want.

Myths Debunked!


I very often have the same conversation with different people.

Myths abound with a plant based lifestyle. It's like alien abduction.

Cows will take over the world! 

Yes.. with machine guns.

I'd suggest that you read this blog posting that answers many of the common questions I get.

Here are some insane comments I'd like to address:

Livestock will take over the world!

um, no.. they won't. The only way we'd have excess livestock is if everyone went vegan overnight and that will never happen. If people shifted to a plant based diet, it would take years.. people would eat less and then less and less livestock would be bred for slaughter so the numbers would go down gradually until there were a normal number. We are not over run by lions or bears or rats or even cockroaches. There is a natural order that is naturally kept in balance.

Everyone will starve!

Quite the opposite. We'd be able to feed more people if people ate a plant based diet. Almost all of the corn grown today is fed to cows. Cows aren't even meant to eat corn. They are meant to eat grass. The reason cows get sick and need antibiotics is because humans force them to eat corn. If we stopped breeding cows for slaughter and started using the land for other crops, we'd be able to feed every hungry person on earth. On average, it takes 16 pounds of grains/corn to make 1 pound of edible flesh. Think about how many people you could feed with 16 pounds of grains!

Humans are supposed to eat meat!

There is no health reason to eat meat. We need plant foods to live, not animals. Humans choose to eat animals and consume animal products, just like they choose to eat junk food and candy and just like they choose not to eat fellow humans or their dog. There are lots of alternatives to eating the muscles and drinking the secretions of other species. It's a choice.

It's difficult to get enough protein and calcium on a plant based diet!

No, it isn't. I've talked about these things on other blog posts so I won't go into too much detail here. All foods have protein (except sugars and oils) so it's actually kind of hard to not get the protein you need if you are eating sufficient calories of whole foods each day. The average person needs 45 to 55 grams of protein a day. The average meat eater gets 3 times that. Excess protein is really bad for your body.

Lots of foods have calcium as well, like beans, nuts and greens. In fact, it's been shown that animal proteins actually remove the calcium from your bones and cause osteoporosis.

You need meat to get B12!

B12 is a bacteria. It used to be that you'd get B12 via soil on your veggies, but our society is so germaphobic that we wash everything so much that it's hard to get it naturally now. Animal based foods contain B12 only due to bacterial contamination. You can get the B12 you need via fortified foods or a multivitamin.

It's too expensive to eat healthy and plant based foods!

No, it isn't. I've covered this - click here.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Tips for Going Plant Based - EAT!

I love food, truly.

Just look at the photo! It's slices of Tofurky roast, stuffing and gravy with potatoes and carrots. YUM.

I find it both frustrating and sad that people think I suffer and eat less than amazing food because I'm vegan. Meat eaters think I spend  my life eating food that is gross, boring, unsatisfying or fake faux replacements for their 'real' counterparts (which makes no sense whatsoever) and that couldn't be further from the truth. The food I eat is delicious and nourishing. I eat all the foods I love and I don't eat anything that causes me any sort of guilt (either because it's cruel or it's fattening) or makes me feel yucky physically  - just those sugary desserts I try to only have once in awhile! Sugar is so evil.. but.. man, I like it.

I often get asked 'what do you eat?' or 'how many times a day do you eat?' I've noticed that meat eaters think that you should only eat three times a day and that whatever you eat should keep you full until you eat again. I don't live like that. I eat every 3 hours and I love that. I eat small meals and snacks. My body is never over full. Eating 6 times a day means I get a variety of foods and I am always satisfied.

When you follow a whole food, plant based diet you are eating foods that are healthy and nurturing for your body so you can eat as much as you want. As long as you eat a variety of foods and eat enough each day you won't need to wonder about how much protein you'll get - you'll meet those needs easily! You'll also get the fiber you need along with the vitamins and minerals! Whole plant based foods are naturally low in fat too!

Skip the processed crap and you can eat all day long and enjoy it!

I try and eat a variety of fruits and veggies. Of course, it depends on what is in season, what is on sale and what I'm in the mood for. In the summer I eat more snap peas and green beans because I can find those at farmer's markets but not always at the grocery store. The month that rainier cherries are available, I eat them like an insane person. I love them. We do a garden so in the summer I'm eating more tomatoes, zucchini and strawberries during that time. It's good to have favorites but you should also buy unfamiliar things to eat too. I like to rotate my greens. Some weeks I'll be into romaine lettuce and some weeks I want mixed greens.

Listen to your body. If you're at the grocery store and the spinach is calling your name.. answer the call!

Like most people, I have many non-produce things that I eat on a regular basis. Brown rice, whole wheat pasta, lentils, beans, oats, whole grain cereals, tortillas, soups, re fried beans, pizza, pancakes and nut cheeses are all in rotation!

On the weekends, I don't always follow my main eating schedule since my husband is home.. sometimes I'll wake him up to have pancakes and then we'll both go back to bed or we might go out for dinner with friends. We tend to graze a lot on weekends so I try and have things available that are easy to grab and heat up - like black bean burgers, dips, spreads, and salad fixings. I try and do at least one structured meal each weekend day if I can. We like to watch movies or catch up on TV shows and my husband has computer games he plays while I nap. We tend to veg out at home on the weekends.

Here are some examples of my daily meals:

1st breakfast (4am to 7am)
I always have a big glass of ice water with barley grass powder and spirulina mixed in. Then, I usually have fresh fruit since fruit is best on an empty stomach. I'll have a red grapefruit, a kiwi and a handful of berries. Other times I may not be that hungry so I'll have my water and some miso soup to kick start my digestion and then have fruit an hour later. Once in awhile I wake up wanting something specific and if that happens I will have whatever it is my body wants as long as it's healthy.... if it's fried rice or a salad or soup or a big plate of roasted veggies. I don't care that it's 5am.. I take my cravings seriously and I feed them.

2nd breakfast: (7am to 10am)
I almost always have old fashioned oats here as I try and get a serving of oats in everyday. I'll mix in a diced banana (depending on my hunger level, it will be a whole or half banana .. if I use half, I'll freeze the other half for a smoothie), walnuts and cinnamon. The banana is sweet enough that I never add any sugar or anything.

1st lunch: (11:30- ish)
My husband usually comes home for lunch around 11:30 so I try and eat at the same time. Lunch can be anything from fried rice, rice & beans, tacos, soup, salad, veggie burgers, panini, veggies.. honestly, I just never know. I try to make it easier and quick recipes that I can have ready at that specific time.

2nd lunch: (1pm to 2pm)
This is based on hunger. If I'm really hungry I'll have a tortilla with some re fried beans in it, soup, salad or a protein shake (homemade almond milk, protein powder, frozen fruit, cacao, maca

Afternoon snack: (3pm to 4pm)
I usually need something around this time just to get me thru until we eat dinner. Most often it's just a handful of veggies or nuts, maybe fruit or something else that is quick. I might make some guacamole or have half an english muffin with nut butter on it. I might have a Tofurky deli slice sandwich.

Dinner: (5:30)
Most nights I try and have dinner ready at 5:30 when my husband gets home from work. I may use a recipe that takes a little more effort here since there isn't a huge time issue. Dinner is most often the biggest meal of the day for us. I'll usually have a side salad, a cooked veggie, a grain (brown rice, whole wheat pasta, quinoa) and a protein (beans, lentils, seitan, soy)

Evening Snack: (7pm to 9pm)
I don't always have this snack. If I feel hungry then I might have popcorn with nutritional yeast on it, a spoonful of nut butter, a serving of fruit, veggies with hummus, chips and salsa or a side salad. I just go with what my body needs.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Musings: Real Food vs Imaginary Food

I have a scientific mind so I've pondered the 'are aliens real?' or 'is Bigfoot real?' questions thru my life but until I became a plant based eater.. I never had to question whether or not my food actually existed.

Meat eaters love to ask 'is that real food or vegan food?'

Um.. I don't eat imaginary food. If I did... I'd be real dead.

I find it sort of funny when someone asks if something is vegan because if they are a meat eater, they usually won't eat it. Perhaps they think they will catch some sort of vegan cootie or maybe they are afraid that it might actually taste good. I don't know. I, of course, never have to ask 'is that vegan?' because there are very few circumstances in which there would be vegan food available that I hadn't been responsible for actually bringing. (insert sigh here)

Do meat eaters think vegans are magic? Do we create our food from strange alien technology? I've come to my own conclusion - that many meat eaters haven't ever seen a vegetable or a bean or a grain other than white rice so when they come face to face with quinoa, brussels sprouts and mung beans.. they wonder if it's CGI.

I think maybe meat eaters think because there are processed vegan foods available like burgers, sausage, bacon, chik'n and crumbles, that vegans want foods made available that taste like their animal counterparts. We don't and the foods don't actually taste like animals.. most vegans would find that pretty disgusting.  Meat eaters call our foods 'fake' but the word 'burger' to me means food pressed into a round shape and eaten on a bun.

However, some vegans want the convenience of those things that resemble the animal foods we may know from before we went plant based. For some vegans, it's easier to take a pre-formed veggie burger to a cookout than pack a bowl of pasta. It's less stressful for a vegan kid to have a veggie hot dog at a birthday party where everyone else has an animal hot dog. It's easier to throw  a couple slices of veggie bacon on a BLT than to make some tempeh bacon from scratch. It's easier to grab a Tofurky deli slice sandwich when you're short on time.

Some vegans use processed foods once in awhile but the majority of vegans don't even eat things like Boca Chik'n Nuggets or Morningstar Farms Corn Dogs (they aren't even vegan, actually). Many vegans don't eat tofu, and the ones that do are not eating tofu in the quantities that meat eaters would have you believe. I don't know any vegans that live on just tofu. Tofu is beans, by the way. It isn't made of plastic or whatever it is meat eaters think it's made from.

I find it sort of odd how people believe what I eat is somehow strange or gross.

I eat mostly whole, unprocessed foods. I eat a few minimally processed foods. I eat things that grow from the earth - on trees, in fields. My foods are nourishing and good. I eat foods that fight and prevent disease. My foods taste amazing and fill me up. They are full of vitamins and minerals and fiber. I eat a varied diet. Most of the foods I eat have one ingredient and when I combine them into meals, I have delicious meals free from saturated fat, cholesterol, preservatives, additives, dyes or artificial ingredients. My food isn't expensive.

I don't torture or kill. I don't eat muscles, veins, blood or organs. I don't make anything suffer in order to nourish me. I do not cause the imprisoning of other beings. I eat almost nothing that is created in a factory. My food doesn't contain chemicals or hormones. My foods don't cause or advance disease. My foods weren't created in a lab. I can pronounce the names of the foods I eat. I'm not eating some one's mother or some one's baby.

For real.

Monday, February 6, 2012

$5.00 off at iHerb

If you are a new customer to, you can use my special code AWE648 to save $5 on your first order! Don't forget to choose a freebie to add to your order. You can click the 'freebie' link at the top! They offer free shipping on orders over $20!

Friday, February 3, 2012

What Going Vegan Has Taught Me - People Have Questions!

When people find out I follow a plant based diet, there are usually questions. I'm sure I get the same questions any plant based eater gets about protein and calcium among other ones! I thought I'd list some of the questions I've gotten to help dispel the myths!

Many of these topics are complex and I don't want to give you a nutrition class here on my blog so I encourage everyone to research and seek out the knowledge on any topic you'd like additional information on.

Q: How do you get your protein?

A: This is the most common question I get besides the calcium question. The meat and dairy industries have very successfully gotten people to believe that the only way to get protein is to eat animal products. The truth is that protein is actually in almost ALL whole food we have available. Things like oils, vinegars, and sugars do not have protein. Fruit has some but not a lot. Veggies, beans, nuts, grains and seeds all have protein and their protein is good protein. Animal protein has saturated fat, cholesterol, hormones and disease causing agents. You need to ask yourself - how do cows get their protein? From plants!

Also, as humans we don't need as much protein as you may think and meat eaters eat three times as much protein as they need and almost all of it it the bad protein from animal sources. If you are following a plant based diet and you are eating enough calories and have a varied diet, it's nearly impossible to not meet your protein requirements.

I need about 45 grams a day. Here are some ways I get mine:

3 oz of Seitan - 31 grams

1/2 cup Tempeh - 20 grams

Veggie burger - 13 grams

4 oz Tofu - 11 grams

1/2 cup of lentils 9 grams

1/2 cup black beans - 7.5 grams

1/2 cup pinto beans - 6 grams

2 slices Whole wheat bread - 5 grams

1/2 cup Brown rice - 5 grams

1 cup cooked spinach - 5 grams

2 TBSP almond butter - 5 grams

1 cup cooked broccoli - 4 grams

6 oz potato - 4 grams

Q: How do you get your calcium?

A: Again, the dairy industry has done a great job and making you think that you need dairy products in order to get calcium. Not true. In fact, eating animal protein actually increases your osteoporosis risk because animal protein causes calcium to leech from your bones. Studies show that countries with the highest consumption of dairy products also have the highest incidence of osteoporosis. You need to ask yourself - how do cows get their calcium? From plants!

The average adult needs 1000 mg of calcium a day. Calcium is found in dark leafy veggies, beans, nuts & seeds. I also take a supplement because it can't hurt!

Here are some plant ways to get calcium in.. amounts are for one cup:

Dark Leafy Greens
Cooked turnip greens (450 mg)
Cooked bok choy (330 mg)
Cooked collards (300)
Cooked kale (200 mg)

Cooked Beans
Navy beans (140 mg)
Soybeans (130 mg)
Pinto beans (100 mg)
Garbanzo beans (95 mg)
Lima and black beans (60 mg)

Sea vegetables
Nori (1200 mg)
Kombu (2100 mg)
Wakame (3500 mg)

Nuts and Seeds
Almonds (750 mg)
Hazelnuts (450 mg)
Walnuts (280 mg)
Sesame seeds, whole, unhulled (2100 mg)
Sunflower seeds (260 mg)

Fortified foods
Fortified Cereals (up to 1000 mg)
Tofu made with calicum sulfate (1721 mg)
Calcium-fortified soy milk (approx 200 mg)
Orange juice fortified with calcium citrate, which has been found to be a BETTER source of calcium than cow milk! (up to 500 mg)

Q: How can you eat that weird and gross vegan food like tofu?

A: First of all, nothing I eat is weird or gross. The food I eat is all whole and amazing. Many people who think my food is weird or gross haven't even tried it so I can't really take them seriously. I love food and I love to eat. The food I eat is delicious and nourishing. I am not deprived and I am not missing anything.

I also wonder how meat eaters can think my diet of veggies, fruit, grains, beans and nuts is gross when they are the ones that eat muscle, veins, blood, pus, hormones, secretions, sea creatures and stuff that comes out of a chicken's vent (which is an opening for both egg laying and waste elimination in case you didn't know). I think that is pretty gross.

Secondly, I'm not sure people realize that tofu is simply soybeans. It is not some strange substance from another planet. I don't eat a ton of tofu but I like it. I don't live on tofu. I eat a varied diet of wonderful goodness!

Q: How can you bake without butter, eggs and milk?

A: I use things in place of those animal products. I use oils, vegan margarine, and nut milks. For eggs, it depends on what the egg function is in a recipe. You can sub in applesauce, pumpkin, bananas or beans, oils, Ener-G egg replacement, flax seed mixed into water.. there are a ton of things to do!

Q: Don't you need to eat meat and dairy to be healthy?

A: Absolutely not! More propaganda from the government and the meat and dairy industries. There is no medical or health reason to eat animal proteins of any kind. You can get everything you need from plant sources except B12.

Q: What about this B 12 thing I've heard about?

A: Neither plants nor animals make vitamin B12. Bacteria are responsible for producing vitamin B12. Animals become a source of B12 from eating contaminated foods. Humans need a daily amount of 2.4 mcg.. that is micrograms.. not even grams. It's a very small requirement. You can get it from a multi vitamin, 1 tsp of spirulina has 4 times the amount you need or by eating fortified foods like nutritional yeast (just 2 tsp is all if takes), cereals or nut milks. No big thing.

Q: How can you live without cheese?

A: I'm not addicted to it like you are. It's very easy for me to not eat cheese now that I know how bad it is for my health and now that I know what is actually IN cheese. It's pretty gross. Plus, I still have cheese-like foods. There are vegan cheese products that are good. I prefer to not eat them very often since they are processed and I consider them junk food but they are great for those in transition. I make cashew cheese and delicious cheesy quesos for nachos and I make mac & cheese! Nutritional yeast is great for creating a cheesy flavor in recipes.

Q: How can you live without pizza and ice cream?

A: I don't live without pizza! I love pizza. I just have it without cheese. When we go out I will order it cheeseless with extra sauce and lots of veggies! I like to sprinkle my vegan parmesan on top too! That recipe is here on my blog. As far as ice cream, I was never a huge ice cream eater but when I do want something like that, I enjoy sorbet most often. I also like a few of the nut milk and coconut milk ice creams on the market from Almond Dream and So Delicious. I just don't eat them that often. I also make banana ice cream or fresh fruit sorbet in my Vita Mix here at home.

Q: Are there any foods you miss eating?

A: Nope! I've been able to find a vegan version of anything I've ever wanted to eat.

Q: Isn't it more expensive to eat a plant based diet?

A: No. In fact, I have an entire blog entry about this topic. Click here.

Q: Don't you ever crave meat and dairy?

A: No. The best way for me to answer this is to use some wisdom I heard in a lecture by vegan author, Colleen Patrick- Goudreau. She says that no one actually craves meat or dairy products.. you crave the fat or the salt or the sugar or the texture. You crave a feeling certain food gives you - like comfort. That is true of any craving or desire you have where food is involved. If you truly craved meat you'd salivate at the sight of a cow in a field or a dead raccoon in the road.

Q: Why don't you eat dairy products and eggs? Animals aren't killed for eggs and milk.

A: Actually, they are. In many ways, the animals used in the egg and dairy industries are treated even worse than animals bred for slaughter alone. Dairy cows are forcibly raped to remain constantly pregnant because a cow doesn't produce milk unless it's pregnant (just like a human) and then its baby is stolen away because it can't be allowed to have its mothers milk if you want to drink it instead. Females are placed into the dairy industry while the males are tossed into a tiny crate to become veal. Cows cry for their stolen babies much like you would if your baby was stolen from you. Dairy products are full of fat, cholesterol, hormones, pus and blood so why would you even want to eat that?

Egg producing 'battery' chickens are forced to live in tiny cages no bigger than a piece of paper and often have to share that cage with one of more other chickens. Chickens are debeaked (yes, their beaks are actually sliced off) so that can't peck other chickens under the stress they are in. They are pumped full of hormones to increase their egg laying. Male chicks are useless so they are thrown away at birth. Most are ground up alive into feed used in the pet industry and very often fed back to the chickens in their feed. Wild chickens have a life span of 12 years, battery hens live 2 years before they are 'spent' and sent to slaughter to be eaten by you. Nice retirement.

The so called 'free range' and 'cage free' chickens are not what you think they are. They are not housed outdoors with grass and sunshine. They aren't roosting in nests and pecking lazily all day. They have free range in a very large pole barn. Some have access to a small outside area that they must share with thousands of other chickens. 'Free range' is no less cruel.

Even if you were to raise chickens for their eggs or for slaughter and you took exceptional care of them, the truth of the matter is that eggs and chicken flesh is not healthy for you. They contain lots of cholesterol and saturated fat. Plus, think about what an egg actually is - it's basically a chicken menstrual cycle.

Tofu isn't sounding so gross now, huh?

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Tips for Going Plant Based - Don't Believe the 'It's Too Expensive' Hype

Yes.. that is almond milk in the bag! (wink)

I'm sort of incredulous when it comes to someone telling me they can't eat healthy because it's 'too expensive'. I'm guessing it's because they think they need to shop at Whole Foods or something.

The truth is that you can save money by eating whole, plant based foods. Dead animal flesh and secretions are expensive. You'll pay $2 to $20 a pound or more for that. Rice, beans, fruit and veggies are considerably lower in cost per pound.

What are your bad habits costing you?

When you look at whether something is affordable or not you need to look at the long term as well as the right here and now. If you start following a plant based diet, the odds are good that you can prevent or reverse any disease that may be in your future. Isn't it better to invest in your health now so you aren't paying for medication, surgery and health care later? Why wait until your doctor tells you that you HAVE to change your eating or lifestyle habits? Why wait until you suffer a medical crisis?  Why wait until you are obese, have diabetes, have heart disease, high blood pressure and high cholesterol? It's gonna happen. Seriously.

Why not start making the change now so you can decrease the chance that you'll fall over dead from a heart attack. Think about your family, your friends, your future. Go into your retirement able to do the things you've worked so hard to enjoy like vacations, golf, family gatherings, weddings, new babies or simply sitting outside on the porch. Don't let your life be doctor appointments and surgeries, 9 medications a day, glucose monitoring and insulin injections, having to use oxygen and a walker, needing a handicapped placard, being out of breath when you walk around the store, scraping to find a way to pay what Medicare doesn't cover on your meds. Stop yourself from being a burden to your children. Start NOW. It's never too late.

Grocery Basics

Here are some local prices for a few items I buy on a very regular basis. The great thing about most of these foods is that they are very versatile and you can make many meals by combining these foods in different ways.  You can make tacos, burritos, wraps, enchilada casseroles and quesadillas from veggies, beans and tortillas. A salad and a baked potato makes a hearty dinner. You can use rice and beans together, hot cereal and fruit, soups, chili and burgers can be made with the veggies, rice and beans. A baked sweet potato or warm brown rice with a little cinnamon and maple syrup can be desserts! Pasta with marinara and veggies is also a delicious option. You can make your own corn chips with corn tortillas too!

10 pack of whole wheat flour tortillas - $1.89 (corn are even less expensive and you get more!)
28 oz Brown rice - $1.09 (11 cups per bag cooked = 22 ½ cup cooked servings)
Standard 42 oz tub of oatmeal  - $1.99 (30 ½ cup servings .. just 7 cents a bowl!)
Malt  O Meal Hot Cereal  - $4.00 (23 single servings per box)
Whole wheat fettuccine (12 oz) – 1.79
Whole wheat sandwich buns (8) - $1.79
15 oz canned beans are .50 to .75 per can depending on type (4 servings per can)
29 oz can of pinto beans - .99
1 lb bag of dry beans, lentils or split peas  - .75 to .99 per lb bag (6 cups cooked per bag)
Red gold salsa (16 oz) - .99
Diced tomatoes –  .67 per 15 oz can (plain) 
27 oz can spinach – 1.59
Box of frozen spinach - .89
Bananas .25 to .45 cents a lb. (At Sam’s they are $1.47 for 8 bananas)
Celery - .99 pkg
Cauliflower - .99 per head
Sweet potatoes  - .59 lb
Russet potatoes  - $3.00 for a 10 lb bag
Green onions  - 2 or 3 bunches for $1
Kiwi – 10 to 50 cents each
Cucumbers  - 2 for $1 or less
Red grapefruit  - $2.50 for a bag of 8
Broccoli - .99 lb
Zucchini – 1.49 lb
Grapes – 2.49 lb (lower on sale)
Apples - $1.39 lb (these can vary greatly based on variety and size. An apple will average .30 to .80 cents ea)

These prices are from a regular grocery store. I can find even cheaper prices at Aldi or a local produce store or you can look at sales at regular grocery stores each week. You can also check local warehouse stores for bulk deals. You can get great prices on grains and beans from stores that offer them from bulk bins. Buy store brand canned, bagged and frozen goods like beans, rice, veggies and grains. Did you know that you can often save money by getting certain products in the ethnic/international aisles? I find that beans and tortillas are cheaper in the Mexican food section!

If you sit down and take a look at all the processed foods, soda, alcohol, milk, eggs, meat, ice cream and pre-packaged convenience foods you've been buying, you'd have a TON of money to use towards whole, plant based foods.

Specialty Foods

There are some specialty foods you may want to buy and those may seem more expensive at first glance but you don't buy those every week or even every month. You can go a few months before you need to buy some of these things so in reality, the price isn't that high when you look at cost per use. Those foods for me are Veganaise, miso, nutritional yeast, sweeteners, flours, vinegars and condiments.


What about organic, you say?

Yes, organics can cost more but you don't have to buy organics and if you want to, you really only need to buy certain fruits and veggies organic. The rest you can buy non-organic. I've also gotten some great deals in the organic section. They tend to mark things down low so it pays to walk thru and take a look!

Dirty Dozen

These are the ones you should buy organic.
They are most heavily sprayed and they don't have any natural protection like a thick skin. 

Nectarines (imported)
Grapes  (imported)
Sweet bell peppers
Blueberries (domestic)
Kale/collard greens

The Clean 15

These are lowest in pesticide and/or have an outer skin that we do not consume.  Feel confident in buying non-organic in these.

Sweet Corn
Sweet peas
Cantaloupe (domestic)
Sweet potatoes

Convenience Foods 

There may be things you like that are more of a convenience to you .. like nut milks and veggie burgers or plant meats like Tofurky, Gardein, Tofutti, and the like. Those can be pricey. You can actually make many of those things yourself easily. For example, I make my own almond milk. It's delicious, has no weird ingredients and it lots less expensive than buying it.

Retail almond milk costs about .66 to .75 per cup (depending on flavor and brand)
My almond milk (sweetened) – .32 per cup
My almond milk (unsweetened) - .24 per cup

I also make my own black bean burgers, soups, specialty breads like foccacia, refried beans, almond butter, pasta sauce, cashew cheese, kale chips,salad dressings, croutons and seitan. It isn't difficult and homemade is so much better! You can even freeze foods to heat up quickly later on!

Bottom line - it only has to be expensive it you WANT it to be. Sure, you can go to Whole Foods and buy their overpriced produce, give in to the vegan junk food or be seduced by the exotic nut butters. You can load up your cart with frozen vegan dinners, fancy veggie burgers and plant meats because you're too damn lazy to cook OR you can shop smart and start cooking!