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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Vegan On A Budget

A vegan diet can be an expensive option if  you choose to eat many vegan processed foods, and vegan "fake" meats. But if you stick to the basics it is an extremely economical dietary choice.

I am not a vegan who eats "fake" meats, and looks to recreate vegan forms of traditional foods such as macaroni and cheese, chicken and noodles, etc. I like to eat a whole food, plant based diet and avoid processed foods for the most part.

My weekly staples, and pretty much my shopping list:

ground flax seed
almond milk
nutritional yeast
diced canned tomatoes
collard greens
napa cabbage
brussel sprouts
ezeqiel bread

I sometimes add, cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini squash, and occasionally apples and bananas, and once in while some frozen blueberries. I eat canned beans, pinto, black, or chick, occasionally, and a few times a week some quinoa.

It seems like a small group of foods, but each day I easily hit my protein goal, calcium and iron goals, close to my potassium goal, and average around 50 plus grams of fiber daily. I do take a multi-vitamin each day, B-12 supplement, D3 supplement, and Tumeric Curcumin.

I enjoy my meals, lunch and dinner are always lentils, tomatoes, nutritional yeast, and napa cabbage. I generally eat two servings of kale at lunch time, and two servings of collard greens at dinner time, to this I add some other veggies. I steam my veggies. To save time I cook up a bunch of lentils and  keep them in the fridge, they are always ready to go.

I do not use oil, dressings, vegan spreads, dips etc. as I try to limit my exposure to fat. I do eat a little peanut butter and occasionally some nuts, and I get omega 3's from 2 T flax see I eat with my morning oatmeal.

I have never tried vegan cheese and don't see why I ever will as I simply do not miss it at all, and I was once a cheese addict :)

Meal prep is easy and my meals are filling, satisfying, and nutritious.

I like to drink herbal tea, making sure I have some green tea every day too.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Vegan - It's going mainstream baby!

It seems that many people are at least willing to try a vegetarian or vegan diet, and wow that is a great thing, it is a good and ethical way to live.

I eat, for the most part, a very healthy diet, plenty of vegetables, some fruit, healthy grains and beans, and I feel fabulous. My younger son, Ben, decided to go vegan, he literally went vegan overnight after watching a short video, The Secret Reason We Eat Meat by Dr. Melanie Joy, on YouTube. Ben's reason for going vegan are almost entirely ethical, but he also benefits from eating a very healthy diet. Funnily he was my the pickiest eater of all four of my children, now he is eating oatmeal, brown rice, lots of stir fried vegetables, taking some supplements, running most days, and he is feeling good.

My daughter in law is wandering into vegetarian territory, my older son Matt, her husband, doesn't mind some meat free days through the week, but still likes meat sometimes, but as a family they eat a whole lot less meat then they used to.

My older daughter Amber, and her husband decided to go vegetarian for a month with their five boys, they made it about two weeks, but now have several meat free days each week.

My husband, when Dave was a younger man he was a strictly meat and potatoes guy, it wasn't a meal if there wasn't meat. My husband is going on 60, and we generally think that the older a person gets the more resistant they are to change, I applaud my husband, he still likes his meat and potato type meals, and I still cook them for him, but he has several meat free days each week, and most of those meat free days are vegan. He has tried quinoa, various vegan "meats", enjoying Boca Burgers and Italian Sausage (vegetarian). Vegan veggie pizza, no cheese, and you know what pizza is still very delicious without any cheese. Dave no longer eats processed lunch meats, he takes peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on whole grain bread some days, tomato sandwiches, or salad sandwiches on other days, all better options than lunch meat and processed cheese.

People in general are much more receptive to eating less meat, or no meat, and many can see a life as a vegetarian, the main struggle people have with a vegan diet is giving up dairy.  And personally, dairy is probably the biggest culprit causing ill health in most people who consume a lot of it. Dairy aggravates the body, it can trigger rosacea, it is thought to be a trigger for eczema, it causes inflammation in the body, it is full of fat that is not good for you, it causes digestive issues, interferes with gut bacteria, it is best avoided. There are plenty of other ways to get adequate calcium in much healthier ways, eat green leafy vegetables, almonds, citrus, endame, tofu, broccoli, white beans, just to name a few. And in addition to getting your calcium eating these foods, you get excellent fiber, vitamins A and C, and many other nutritious benefits, and none of the negative side effects of dairy.

A whole foods plant based diet, WFPB, is gaining in popularity because it delivers all of the health benefits it promises, and thanks to a number of popular documentaries, vloggers, websites, and articles it is easy to get educated and see the benefits and know that you are doing something that is good for you and good for the earth.  Recommended videos, Forks Over Knives, an excellent documentary available on Netflix, What the Health, another documentary available on Netflix. On YouTube I love to watch the vegan vloggers Happy Healthy Vegans, they are great and have tons and tons of videos. Mic (pronounced Mike) the Vegan has lots of intense fact filled YouTube videos, and So I'm  Dating a Vegan follows a New York couple, he is vegan, and she is well on her way to becoming vegan, and they challenge their friend Theo to a one month vegan challenge.

I challenge you to have a vegan day or two each week, try some almond milk in place of dairy milk if you feel you can't live without milk. Make your meals based around fresh veggies, a little fruit and a base of rice, quinoa, lentils, mixed with some beans. Man, you will get a good boost of fiber, excellent nutrition, and you will feel full and satisfied. Steam your veggies until just soft, snack on raw veggies and fruit, have a few nuts (preferably raw). Avoid adding salt and fat, learn to enjoy the good flavors of the food in it's natural state. Once you stop adding oily dressings to foods, and using oil to cook with, you will lose your taste for oil, in fact you will find after a while that foods cooked with even a little bit of oil just taste overwhelmingly of oil and nothing else.

A thought on oil, we are the only creatures on earth who eat pure oil, no other creature squeezes all of the oil out of a nut, olive, or seed and then just consumes the oil, it is really a very unnatural food, and it is not healthy for you. How many olives would you have to eat to get the equivalent of one tablespoon of oil, around forty small ripe black olives, or twenty medium mission olives. Most people do not eat those quantities of olives at one sitting. Banish oil from you kitchen, your heart will thank you. You can saute veggies in a little bit of vegetable broth, or water, and when you have made your meal you will taste the wonderful range of veggie flavors, instead of oil.

So in closing, take some baby steps towards a healthy diet, you will feel better, find it is easier as meals take about fifteen minutes to prepare and are so enjoyable, and you will feel good!

Monday, August 28, 2017

Vegan -

As you know if you have read previous posts, I started a weight loss journey three years ago. I lost 110lbs over the course of a year. Along with the obvious physical changes with weight loss, there are also mental changes. The way I look at food today, compared to three years ago, is a total turn around. I have gone from a lover of sweets and baked goods and overeating to a whole food, plant based, vegan diet. I once would take leisurely walks for exercise, now I get out and run for forty plus minutes four times a week. I still enjoy a good walk, but now prefer running (good grief, at one point in my life I would never have imagined my future self writing that!)

Anyway, over the year of weight loss my diet changed, not all at once, but week in and week out it just kept changing, it evolved into a healthy way of eating. I use an app, Myfitnesspal to track my calories, I have logged in daily now for 1,028 days, it is like my conscience when it comes to food choices. I was quite shocked at how many calories were in a number of my favorite foods, that was the first eye opener, no wonder I got so overweight, I simply ate over large portions, often times refilled my plate, and I ate food that was high in fat, sodium, sugar, and all of it over processed and high calorie and the result was obesity, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and chronic pain.

As time progressed, I would say six months into my weight loss, my diet was very healthy, lots of vegetables, some fruit, oats everyday, salmon, chicken, tuna, and greek yogurt. I got to 130 lbs, and have maintained my weight for two years now. My relationship with food changed, the foods I eat are satisfying, taste good, are filling, blood pressure and cholesterol are excellent, I exercise and feel fit and now have a BMI of 18.5.

For most of my adult life I have suffered from Rosacea, I found on my weight loss journey that a number of foods aggravate it, I think because I tend to eat the same things it is easy to find the culprit if problems arise. For example, for a number of months I ate a spinach salad for lunch almost every day of the week, it had four handfuls of spinach, a tablespoon of blue cheese, blackberries, and usually a boiled egg, or salmons, or chicken. My Rosacea became wildly enflamed during this time, I started googling to find out if foods triggered flare ups, well it turns out some foods are high histamine, spinach is one of them. Blackberries and blue cheese are also trigger foods for flare ups. I stopped the salad and at that point, two plus years ago, gave up cheese and spinach. My Rosacea improved, a number of months later I added spinach back to my daily diet (I really like it), within two weeks I had a massive flare up. Bye Bye Spinach. Fast forward another year, at that time I was months into a love affair with Chobani plain greek yogurt, I ate two pots a day everyday. One week at the grocery store I thought, this is ridiculous, I am spending $15/week on yogurt so I didn't buy any. After a few weeks my Rosacea was for the most part completely gone. The yogurt was the only dairy product I consumed regularly. I decided to stay off the yogurt, but after a few months I bought seven pots, I thought I would just have one a day and see what would happen, by the end of the week I had a Rosacea flare up. So, after all of these years of suffering (a bit of a strong word, but you are very conscious of Rosacea and people ask why your face is so red etc.), I found the culprit for me is an allergy to dairy.

By the spring of this year, I had given up chicken and tuna, and only regularly consumed Salmon, otherwise I was for all intent and purpose a vegan. I was having more and more concerns about the level of heavy metals in the fish, plus I ate way more than the recommend amounts as I ate fish every day. I gave up Salmon, and at that point became vegan.  I would never have imagined on the day I decided to change my life and start to lose weight that I would end up being a vegan runner, life is crazy like that sometimes. I feel good, have a great sense of wellbeing, I am glad nothing has to die to feed me, and I feel in the best shape of my life and I am in my early fifties.

And that folks is how I became vegan.