Thursday, May 17, 2012

No More Cheese?…. But…. How?

Happy Thursday my lovely readers. I’ve been absent from the blogger-verse lately because life just seems to be speeding by at a pace that won’t allow for a blog break. My best friend gave birth to her first child (sweetest baby ever!) which I spent most of last week soaking up. I’ve been elbow deep in tootsie kisses and nose nuzzles. I’ve also been researching/making some personal lifestyle changes to improve my health …which is quite time consuming when you want to absorb all the info available. That’s not to say I was unhealthy before but I’m always open to new information or as lady O would say: “living my best life”. I’ve been a vegetarian for about 8 years now and always had the goal in the back of my mind to give up animal products altogether (ie. milk, cheese, eggs, honey etc.) I wanted to do this for several reasons and trust me when I say there are countless reasons but I won’t preach about it because it’s a personal choice for every individual. Back to my original point, I finally achieved my goal of living on a plant-based diet and I’m pleased as punch about it! (Sugar free, 100% juice punch, but punch none the less.)

I love to spread the health-wealth to everyone and because we all deserve long happy lives I thought I’d share with you some of my current discoveries, cravings, and must-haves for my new lifestyle. Whether you consider yourself a carnivore, a herbivore or you just like to try new things, these are all neat ideas worth checking out for yourself:

One of the most interesting and exciting parts of taking up a whole new diet is the recipes. I should mention when I use the word “diet” I don’t mean it in the same way as when you hear, “The Atkins Diet” or “The South Beach Diet”. This is a permanent lifestyle change which is why it has a permanent and positive effect on your health. You don’t give this up in six months when you’ve reached your weight goals just to gain it all back and then some. But as I was saying, there is a whole world of yummy recipes to try. You also get to try foods you’ve never eaten before and have fun just being creative in the kitchen. I’ve honestly never enjoyed cooking as much as I do now. These are three recipes I highly recommend for you to try over this exhausting summer heat. They’re indulgent (in a good way; it’s difficult to gain weight on plant-based foods), super fresh, and soooo delicious: tahini pineapple wrap9 480 Mint Tahini Pineapple Kale Tofu Wrap Mint Tahini Pineapple Kale Tofu Wrap

These are a few of the super “health foods” I’ve found while browsing my local health food stores that I have rather enjoyed the effects of: powder is a super food that is said to increase stamina, boost libido, and combat fatigue. All fabulous and greatly appreciated effects right? It has a slightly nutty taste that I use to sprinkle in my oatmeal and smoothies. This is not cheap stuff but you only need about a teaspoon a day so it does last a long time.

Chia Seeds are bursting with an insane amount of health benefits and are so versatile you can work them into a zillion foods. They offer Omega-3 and Omega-6 essential fatty acids, fiber, protein, calcium, and B-vitamins. They tend to gel when mixed into a liquid but as far as I can tell have zero taste. I throw it in pretty much everything I cook and no one even notices but their bodies are getting all the benefits.
Hemp Hearts are something totally new I’ve discovered and really enjoy. One of the biggest misnomers I hear constantly is: ‘you NEED meat in your diet for the protein.’ I promise you, this is 100% untrue. Yes, there is protein in meat and yes, you NEED protein however, there are so many sources of plant-based protein that meat isn’t worth ingesting the extra fat and other garbage your body doesn’t like. Hemp seeds are one awesome solution to protein (as is the Chia seeds above). Hemp also gives you your omegas and fiber as well. Dr. Oz is said to refer to these cute little seeds as “brain food.”

Flax powder is really great for your diet because of its high concentration of fiber. It fills you up and then cleans you out. It can also act as a great egg replacer. I made some vegan chocolate chip cookies earlier tonight and used this magic powder for just that. 1 tablespoon ground flax and 3 tablespoons water equals one egg. Flax also holds the valuable essential fatty acids we need. If you are taking fish oil for the omegas you can switch to flax oil for the same results sans the dead fish. You can also get flax seeds which are just as versatile in your cooking.
With every beverage I enjoy I tend to be so picky about the ingredients list. It’s got to be water, herbal tea or pure juice that has no additives, sugars etc. because it’s just empty calories I don’t need settling in on my butt. 100% Carrot Juice is one of my favorite health beverages because, well, carrots are healthy duh! I admit I have trouble drinking straight 100% carrot juice from a glass but I do add it to my smoothies which sweetens it naturally and still pumps me full of the goodness it offers. Carrots are outstanding sources of vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium and calcium. Who needs milk? Drink carrot juice!

Goji berries are considered a super food too. They cost a small fortune but they are really yummy. I’ve read that goji berries contain more vitamin C than oranges. They are used in treating diabetes, hypertension, malaria, fever, cancer, and other ailments. I bought a vegan snack with these red beauties, dried coconut, and maca that were so delicious I went out and bought some goji berries (in spite of their high rolling price) just so I could recreate them at home. They’re also great in cereal, homemade granola bars and tea.

Before I decided to make this change in my live I did a ton of mad-scientist reading on the subject of plant-based diets. I don’t like to make decisions lightly or from an uneducated perspective about anything let alone my health. I wanted to know why these diets are beneficial, what they will do for me and my body, and how it’s all put into action in a reasonable and manageable way for my everyday life. I feel like it’s important to know your stuff especially when you meet aggressive people -and you will, should you go down this path- who jump to conclusions about your choices and challenge your views. This has happened a lot to me even as a vegetarian so I knew I’d be up against some “discussions” soon to come. I’ve found that these books were hugely instrumental in my decision to make a change. Even if you know you will never give up your steaks and ice-cream there is still some pivotal information here and making healthful choices isn’t an “all or nothing” decision. Aka: You can have your cake and eat it too!   Alicia Silverstone has been getting a lot of flack for her parenting style lately but I choose not to judge. (Maybe because I grew up in the nineties utterly addicted to her movie “Clueless”? But who can say for sure?..) Whether you like her or not, the girl knows her stuff. The Kind Diet is loaded with information that is helpful to everyone, from those who are just emerging into this new world, to those who are pros at it. It walks you through the entire process with such a calm non-judgmental tone to it that you feel like it really is possible for some of these options to work into your lifestyle and you don’t have to feel guilty if you can only make small changes because hey, that’s better than nothing. The Kind Diet is broken into three branches of vegan-ism. There’s “Flirting” which is for the newbies who are considering incorporating this diet into their lives and want to dip their toes in the water. “Vegan” for those that have decided they’re ready to fully commit to cutting out all animal based products and lastly, “Superheroes” which is a section all about the best of the best food for you to eat. Check it out from your library, order it on Amazon, or borrow it from a friend because it is an awesome read.

This book totally changed my way of thinking and is really what started me on this path to improving myself. Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer (author of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close) is mind blowing. You will look at everything on your plate in a totally different light. He approaches the subject of eating animals from a completely neutral point of view at the start of the book having battled with the decision for years. He and his wife have just had their first child and he feels like he has to stop jumping back and forth between eating animals and not eating them and just make a final choice for the sake of his son. This propels him into a research endeavor to find out for himself whether or not it is beneficial to eat animals. What I love about this book is he isn’t preaching anything, he isn’t hiding anything and he is brutally honest about all of his findings. He interviews vegans, farmers, slaughterhouse employees, and more. No stone is left unturned in his venture. Think “Eat, Pray, Love” but Italy is his grandmother’s kitchen, India is factory farms, and Bali is slaughterhouses. Sounds like a weird comparison I know and I’d be curious to know if Foer disapproves of my correlation, but in my opinion the end result of learning about who you truly are is paralleled in a very similar way. I greatly enjoyed reading about his journey to discovering what best suited him and his family’s life.
I recently purchased The Complete Guide to Vegan Food Substitutions off Amazon. I admit 20% of the purchase was based on the adorable cover but luckily for me it turned out to be 100% useful. The biggest questions about living off plant-based foods are: “How will I cook my famous spaghetti and meatballs?” or “Can I still have pancakes?” or “What am I going to put in my cereal?” This book answers all those questions and so much more. Everything you once used in your recipes such as milk, butter, eggs, etc. has an animal friendly substitution that is good for you and better for your body. I am constantly referencing this handy little guy when I cook. I think it’s a must have for people who are confused about how to substitute or curious as to how to incorporate healthier options in place of the less healthy.

The last thing I want to talk a bit about is a documentary I just watch last night with my fella called, “Forks Over Knives”. For all you squeamish people, there is zero animal cruelty depicted in the film. You will not see any suffering that has you grabbing for tissues and hiding your eyes like most documentaries on this topic. This film comes from a strong scientific foundation and is laid out beautifully from start to finish. It takes you through compelling research findings conducted by prestigious doctors and shows you exactly what is happening to our bodies and our society as a whole. If you eat food, you should watch this documentary.

So I hoped I shared some helpful information with you folks. This is just where my life is at right now so it’s kind of the focus of my day-to-day. I’ll never force unsolicited preaching on anyone or a wag a finger at their diet choices because that isn’t my place but I can tell you that since making the switch I personally feel so incredible compared to where I was at and I considered myself a normal healthy twenty-something woman. I’ve got more energy than I’ve ever had, excess weight is falling off, and my conscience is clear of all the grim discoveries about what the other foods were doing to my body and my animal friends. I’ll leave you with that and bid you adieu until my next post.
Much love!


Shelley said...

Well, I'm no vegetarian or vegan but I am always up to try new things! You should link up on Wednesdays and share some new recipes you've found and loved!

recklessbliss said...

Thanks for the tip Shelley! I'll have to check that out for sure.

Amber @ fromtheseeds said...

Congrats on finding this new journey! I love how inspired you are!

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Thanks for sharing!