“Super Immunity” Book Review

Super Immunity by Dr. FuhrmanAs mentioned from my previous post about joining a women’s health study, I received a free copy of the book Super Immunity: The Essential Nutrition Guide for Boosting Your Body’s Defenses to Live Longer, Stronger, and Disease Free by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. It was an excellent read and has added a new layer of evidence for me that the plant-based diet is the only diet we should have.

The book is focused on micronutrients (vitamins, minerals, and phytochemicals) which should be what we center our diet around, not macronutrients (carbohydrates, fat, and protein). You could be hitting your macronutrient goals and still be micronutrient deficient. Since the state of our health is based around those micronutrients, the nutritarian approach focuses on revving up our immune systems not just to protect against infection but also to protect against cancer, heart disease, strokes, and dementia. Dr. Furhman cites that,

“the lifetime probability of being diagnosed with an invasive cancer is 44 percent for men and 37 percent for women. However, because of the earlier median age of diagnosis for breast cancer compared with other major cancers, women have a slightly higher probability of developing cancer before the age of sixty. Currently, one in four deaths in the United States is due to cancer.”

Although these statistics are alarming, Dr. Fuhrman provides ease of mind with many recommendations on how to significantly reduce our risk of developing cancer along with reducing the risk of other diet-related diseases that commonly kill those on a Standard American Diet.

He also has a chapter regarding how to fight colds and viruses. He gives recommendations on how to prevent and combat these illnesses so that they do not affect our daily lives as often or as intensely as they may have if not for a strong immune system. He debunks many common remedies that could cause more harm than good in the mending process, such as eating chicken noodle soup. It can actually slow the recovery process by causing the body to have to work harder to digest the animal protein.

And in case you’re wondering, no–you can’t just supplement for optimal health. Many of these essential micronutrients are not easily absorbed as a supplement as they are consumed in their whole form from the plant. For optimal health, you need to be consuming it from the source. In fact, the book explains that some instances of supplementation can be more harmful than good. For example, I’m sure if you’re a woman you’ve been told to supplement with folic acid if you’re at child bearing age and could potentially become pregnant. Although folate (the natural version found in plants) is essential for preventing neural tube defects such as spina bifida that occur when the fetus’s spine and back do not close during development, folic acid is the synthetic version which can cause serious health concerns if consumed in high amounts. Since many foods are fortified with folic acid, such as refined grain products, adding a supplement poses a risk of consuming too much. This is linked with the increased occurrence of certain cancers. However, there is no risk of consuming an abundance of the natural form, folate, in your diet. In fact, increased consumption of food-derived folate is linked with a decreased risk of breast and prostate cancer. Plants for the WIN!

This is just one of the many fallacies of supplementation and micronutrients that Dr. Fuhrman explains in this book. It is an excellent read for those wanting some motivation to eat healthier in the new year. He also provides a full chapter of recipes and a 2 week meal plan. Some of the recipes that I can’t wait to try are Sweet Potato Cakes with Strawberry Sauce, Thai Longevity Stew, Bean Enchiladas, and Coconut Carrot Cream Pie (say what?!).

You can purchase a copy from Amazon or receive a free copy by signing up for the 30-day trial of the Nutritarian Women’s Health Study.

Nutritarian Women’s Health Study

The time has come to share my exciting news! As you may know, I initially transitioned to this lifestyle for my health. I really just want to live forever. Is that too much to ask for?! But with things like heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, breast cancer, and Parkinson’s disease all running in my family, my risks seem a lot higher…. Or are they? Apparently, regardless of your family history, these things can still happen to you. It all boils down to diet.

For example, an ultra marathon runner who eats whatever they want and is in great shape will still have worse arterial function than the lazy vegan. You literally can’t outrun a bad diet. See the brief vid below from NutritionFacts.org that further explains how this is possible.

But I don’t just want to be the lazy vegan, I want to be a fit, active, healthy vegan! So to motivate myself to improve me eating habits and eliminate more processed foods, I’ve decided to join a health study! It’s called the Nutritarian Women’s Health Study from Northern Arizona University. It’s a long term observational study on the health of the nutritarian diet on occurrence, recurrence, and progression of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and all forms of cancer. The Nutritarian diet is coined by Dr. Fuhrman and is described as being “nutrient-dense and plant-rich, and includes anti-cancer superfoods, which also facilitate weight loss.” These nutrient dense foods include whole fruits, vegetables, beans and other legumes, nuts and seeds, and whole grains. This study is open to all females over the age of 18 in the United States. This is an open-ended study so it can go on for years but you do have the ability to opt out at any time. I highly recommend checking out their welcome page and intro video. If you decide to join the health study, you will receive periodic questionnaires to answer and occasional blood tests. Don’t worry–they send you a kit that you take to a lab to be performed so you don’t have to poke yourself. You should only need to do that once every 1-2 years. Easy peasy!

If anything, you should at least sign up for the 30 day trial so you can receive a free copy of the book Super Immunity by Dr. Joel Fuhrman for free. Did I mention it’s free?

And don’t fret males, although they may exclude you for the actual study, I’m pretty sure you can still sign up for the 30 day trial and receive the free book 🙂

Ok, so here’s how you get started with the 30 day trial:

  1. Go to the enrollment page and start filling out the information. If you ever need to pause while filling it out you can either leave the page open and come back to it later (I did that sometimes) or you can pause it to return later and they’ll give you a code (save that!) and email you a link to return for later. You will need to use that link and the code they gave you to return. But honestly, it didn’t take that long to fill out so you might not even have to bother with that.
  2. After you fill out the information you watch a few short videos from Dr. Fuhrman and answer some questions.
  3. Then you get to download the free book! At this point they will email you the information to download the book and you will need to use the pause feature so that you can read the book before you continue. So again, don’t lose that code!
  4. The book isn’t too long but has excellent research and information on the nutritarian diet and what is best for achieving “super immunity” to live longer and healthier lives (disease free woot woot!). The back of the book also has easy to follow meal plans and recipes–and yes there’s even desserts! The recipes sound delicious and I plan to make several of them soon like the Sweet Beet Potato Cakes with Strawberry sauce, Better Burgers, Bean Enchiladas, Thai Longevity Stew, and Coconut Carrot Cream Pie just to name a few. Listing food makes me hungry.
  5. After you’re done reading the book you return to the study with the email link and that code you saved so that you can answer a quick 15 question quiz about the book. It’s super easy.
  6. Then you answer one last questionnaire about your health history. You will need to take a couple measurements around your waist and hips and know your blood pressure. Don’t worry, places like Kroger (Dillons, King Soopers, etc.) and some Walgreens have those free machines that take your blood pressure for you. You can see my results below. Once that is all complete, you fill out the consent form and you’re in the study!
Yeah, my results are a bit high and could use some improvement! Good thing I found this heath study!

Yeah, my results are a bit high and could use some improvement! Good thing I found this heath study!

It may seem like a lot but you have 30 days to complete it all. But seriously, at least sign up so you can get the free book. It is worth the read, and perhaps may convince you to add more fruits and veggies to your diet. I’ve already started adding pomegranates to my diet (yum!) and I’ve stopped picking around the mushrooms in my meals and have accepted that eating them daily is associated with a significantly decreased risk of breast cancer. About 1 in 8 (12%) women in the US will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime so I’m all for reducing my risk. C’mon ladies–none of the women in our lives should ever have to suffer through that–so let’s pass this amazing knowledge along!

So go read that book! And let me know if you decide to join the health study. We can help keep each other accountable so that we can live longer healthy lives together! xoxo

P.S. Stay tuned for a short review of that book coming soon. I really enjoyed it and think you will too!

 

Maple-Glazed Brussels Sprouts

As promised, the recipe for Maple-Glazed Brussels Sprouts that I mentioned in my Thanksgiving Menu post. This has been adapted a bit from the Forks Over Knives cookbook.

I grew up HATING Brussels sprouts as I did most vegetables. I am one of the pickiest eaters you will ever come across. And yet, somehow, these babies are soooo good, even I can’t pass them up. Now, I really did want this up before Thanksgiving so you all could share this treat with your families (my bad), but they are amazing any time of the year!

Ingredients:

1 1/2 pound Brussels sprouts
1/4 finely minced shallots
1/4 coup maple syrup
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon soy sauce or coconut aminos or tamari
1 tablespoon cornstarch or arrowroot powder
Chopped walnuts or pecans

Directions:

  1. Bring a saucepan of water to a boil. Cut the stems of the Brussels sprouts and discard, then cut the sprouts in half. Cook the sprouts in the boiling water for 2 minutes, then drain and rinse with cold water.
  2. In a nonstick saucepan, sauté the shallots in a small amount of water or vegetable broth for 2-3 minutes. Add the boiled sprouts and sauté for 4 more minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the maple syrup, soy sauce, Dijon mustard, and cornstarch together. Pour the mixture over the Brussels sprouts and cook for about 2 minutes, until the sauce thickens. Garnish with nuts as desired. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

The first step of cooking the Brussels sprouts can be done in advance. That is what we did the day before Thanksgiving to cut down on some work the day of. You can also mix the sauce together ahead of time and keep it in the fridge overnight but we actually ran out of time Wednesday due to the arrival of family that day. But the sprouts came out AMAZING! We made a little extra sauce for some extra flavor. The only thing I’d do differently next time is quarter the sprouts instead of halve them, especially for the bigger sprouts.

Apologies for not having a better photo of this amazing dish. It was too delicious to not dig into right away! This is an old photo that really doesn’t do it justice.

maple glazed brussels sprouts

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Stayed tuned for some exciting news I am sharing next week! xoxo

What’s On My Thanksgiving Menu

With just over a week away from Thanksgiving, it is time to start planning the menu for the big day. This is my first Thanksgiving on a whole foods plant-based diet. It’s about to get interesting. Traditionally, Thanksgiving is centered around processed meats, lots of fat and butter, and sugar-laden desserts. Any vegetable on the table is typically baked into a casserole with cheese or butter. The only semi-healthy item is the salad (which wasn’t a common option on Thanksgiving in my family for what I can remember) but any health aspect was negated by the cheese and fatty dressing poured on top.

And then the stomach ache and drowsiness would set in.

Ever wonder why you get so tired after a big meal? On Thanksgiving, many blame the turkey because it contains tryptophan. However, this myth was dispelled over a decade ago by a study done at MIT. Turkey only contains tryptophan, an essential amino acid, in small quantities. What happens is that tryptophan has to compete with other amino acids for transport across the blood-brain barrier into the brain. Since it is found in animal proteins in a smaller ratio, it is typically last in line for transport. So if anything, consuming turkey actually lowers tryptophan levels. When tryptophan is consumed as part of an animal protein meal, serum tryptophan levels rise while brain tryptophan levels decline.

Lower tryptophan levels are associated with depression so being able to have it cross the blood-brain barrier is key. On Thanksgiving day, what’s more likely happening is the refined carbohydrates and fat are increasing the release of insulin, which causes the muscles to take up the non-tryptophan amino acids as fuel and allows the tryptophan to be first in line for brain access. Once in the brain, this leads to an increased production of serotonin–the “happy hormone” and some of it gets converted to melatonin, a chemical associated with helping sleep.

The reason you feel so much sleepier than usual on Thanksgiving is because of the sheer amount of calories you’re consuming–>not only does that surge of serotonin production lead to melatonin, but your body has to use so much energy just to digest all of that food. Also, being dehydrated can exacerbate your lethargy, so make sure to drink plenty of water!

An alternative is to eat a plant-based meal that will not cause the sugar high and subsequent crash. Whole plant foods are nutrient dense and fill you up sooner with less calories. It is REALLY HARD to over eat on a whole foods plant-based diet. And those complex carbs break down slower which means a more gradual release of insulin rather than a spike.

calories

And when consuming foods with a high tryptophan-to-total protein ratio such as pumpkin seeds, pistachios, or roasted soy beans, tryptophan levels in the brain increase. This may be why studies show that those eating plant-based diets have superior mood states. You heard that right–I’m happier than you omnivores!

veganbaking

This is what they meant by better mood, right?

This year Daniel and I are hosting my family for Thanksgiving so I have been getting pumped up to plan the menu. There will be a total of 6 people. Although I am trying to stay as close to whole foods as possible, it is a holiday which calls for some rules to be broken. Don’t worry, I’m not eating animal products. But I’m okay with adding some processed foods to mix against what I just blabbed on about. You’re welcome. (Dr. Michael Gregor said what you eat on holidays and special occasions won’t affect your long term health sooo…..)

pumpkin_pie2

The Menu:

And here’s a teaser photo of those sprouts:

maple glazed brussels sprouts

You haven’t lived until you’ve had maple glazed Brussels sprouts. Even a picky eater would gobble these up.

I hope you’ve found some inspiration for your own Thanksgiving meal from my menu. The turkeys will thank you! xoxo

turkeys

How Your Diet Is Slowly Killing You (And All of Us) Part 4

After the first few installments of this series you probably realize by now (I would hope) how your diet is slowly killing you–but how is it killing all of us? Many people don’t realize this, but their every day food choices actually impact us all. How, you may ask? Because we only have one planet. Because at our current rate, we will need 4.1 Earths to support us. Because if we really wanted to make a difference, the biggest difference to save the earth we have, it’s not using LED light bulbs, it’s not unplugging appliances when they’re not in use, it’s not remembering to shut off the lights when you leave the room, or recycling, or choosing to walk or bike rather than drive–the biggest impact we can make is to STOP supporting animal agriculture.

Have you ever heard the saying that a vegan driving a Hummer has a smaller carbon footprint than an omnivore driving a Prius? I heard that saying many years ago and it never really sunk in until recently.

Late September marked the dreaded tipping point for atmospheric carbon levels. It reached 400 parts per million. This should be concerning because it is considered permanent. Although the forests and oceans absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, at this rate we need an extra half a planet just for that.

And here’s why you should be ALARMED by this if you’re not already:

Extinction—The Nature Conservancy suggests that one fourth of Earth’s species could be extinct by 2050.

Rising sea levels—Coastlines will become flooded and communities will be displaced. In May of 2016, the residents of Isle de Jean Charles were given $48 million to move (the first U.S.-based climate refugees)

Ocean acidification and coral bleaching—delicate marine ecosystems such as Australia’s Great Barrier Reef are bleaching and dying from climate change. This is considered irreversible.

Bleaching of Great Barrier Reef

The leading cause of climate change is animal agriculture. Take a look at the chart below from this study based on the effects of diet and our carbon footprints.

Carbon Footprint by Diet

This is our responsibility and we have to take action now.

Below is a nicely condensed video on the topic by Dr. Oppenlander. He has done extensive research on how our choices impact the environment. It is only 14 minutes long and you can speed up the video by using the little cog in the bottom right-hand corner (my preferred way to watch YouTube).

Another big resource of information is the documentary Cowspiracy on Netflix. The facts it presents are just astounding. You can also access them at their fact page here.

I know it’s a lot to take in so here are some key facts I’ve gathered from these videos and around the web:

  • Animal agriculture is the leading contributor to the amount of methane gas being released into our atmosphere. Methane gas traps up to 100 times more heat in the atmosphere than carbon dioxide within a 5 year period, and 72 times more within a 20 year period. However, it leaves the atmosphere within a decade. Therefore, reducing methane emissions would create tangible benefits almost immediately according to a U.N. press release in 2014.
  • Growing feed for livestock consumes 56% of the water in the U.S.
  • Livestock and livestock feed occupies one third of the earth’s ice-free land
  • Animal agriculture is responsbile for up to 91% of the Amazon destruction
  • It is predicted that we will have fishless oceans by 2048
  • We are currently growing enough food to feed 10 Billion people but more than 50% of this grain is fed to livestock

I know some may not find this information interesting—I’m a nerd like that—but I felt it was necessary to present all of this first to get the cogs turning so that you will hopefully do more research and make that connection with this lifestyle. I truly want us all to be happy, healthy, and to have a planet we can share for generations to come, and the only way we can make that happen is to educate ourselves on these issues. Vote with your dollar by not supporting these industries anymore and let’s make a difference!

So now that the nitty-gritty is out of the way, stay tuned for some upcoming posts involving my favorite recipes (including bonus holiday ones!) and what my journey has been like so far with this lifestyle.

Thanks for all of the support! xoxo

P.S. In case you missed it, click for Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

How Your Diet is Slowly Killing You (And All of Us) Part 3

Hello!

So today is Sunday–I don’t know about you but growing up in my family that meant a big breakfast full of the typical staples like toast, pancakes or waffles, maybe some processed meat like sausage or bacon, and eggs. Now obviously everyone knows that pancakes or waffles can’t be considered a health food (although I make mean vegan pancake to boot)–they are full of processed flour and sugars. And bacon and sausage are full of fat and cholesterol that you can SEE oozing out of it as you cook it. Arguable, the only nutritious item at the table in this scenario is the toast. Make it whole wheat, throw some peanut butter or low-sugar jam on that and you’ve got a decent meal. But wait a minute—what about the eggs? Aren’t they a lean protein full of nutrients? The fact of the matter is that they are nowhere near considered safe and healthy to eat.

Did you know that eggs cannot be legally referred to in ads as “healthy” or “nutritious”? This is because of the high amount of fat and cholesterol each egg contains. The American Egg Board, a promotional marketing board appointed by the U.S. government, has a mission to increase demand for egg and egg products on behalf of U.S. egg producers. However, if an egg corporation wants to be able to use the funds provided by the American Egg Board, they are not allowed to lie. If an individual egg producer wants to advertise their product on their own with their own funds, they can say whatever they want. But the American Egg Board is so aggressive with their advertising that we don’t even notice these key words being left out. They have been successful at decreasing consumers’ concerns over eggs and heart health even without being able to call them healthy or nutritious. Check out the quick video below by NutritionFacts.org that explains why eggs are not healthy or safe.

The sheer amount of cholesterol in eggs is startling. They are the most concentrated source of cholesterol in the Standard American Diet (SAD). In fact, the Egg Nutrition Center (created by the American Egg Board in order to downplay the risks of the cholesterol found in eggs) has fought with the American Heart Association on whether one egg everyday can be included in the diet. The American Heart Association explains that 300mg of cholesterol is the daily limit. Yes, one egg does fit under that limit. HOWEVER, every other animal product must be eliminated for the day or you would exceed that limit. Even just having coffee with dairy creamer and a skinless turkey breast on the same day effectively doubles your cholesterol intake. Based on these guidelines, you also wouldn’t be able to have any baked goods with egg or dairy milk in it either because that would also increase your daily cholesterol above the limit.

The Harvard Nurses Health Study found that consuming one egg a day cut a woman’s life shorter equivalent to smoking 25,000 cigarettes (5 cigarettes a day for 15 years)! Even 3 eggs a week was associated with artery clogging plaque build up in the carotid arteries going to the brain according to this study published in the Journal of Atherosclerosis. This plaque build up is a strong predictor of stroke, heart attack, and death.

And if that isn’t enough, who wants to smell like dead fish? Yes, eggs are high in Choline, a compound that can make bodily secretions (breath, saliva, sweat, urine, and non-mentionables) smell like rotting fish and may increase the risk of heart disease due to conversion in the gut to trimethylamine found in this study from the Cleveland Clinic.

Tiptoe to Health Tip #3

Alright, so what can you do for that big Sunday breakfast instead? Well, you could make my awesome vegan pancakes (recipe to come!) OR what about some hearty oatmeal topped with some fresh fruit, cinnamon, and maple syrup?
hearty oatmeal

Oatmeal is so versatile and can be tailored to your tastes. And you get that good soluble fiber that’s known to improve heart health by reducing the bad cholesterol. It’s also full of vitamins and minerals, and is antioxidant rich.

Here’s a list of what I add to mine:

  • 1 Tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp Ground Flax Seed
  • 1 Tsp Maple Syrup
  • A hand-full of fresh fruit

For more ideas you can check out this previous post on All the Oatmeals of My Kitchen.

Enjoy! xoxo

P.S. You can check out Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

How Your Diet Is Slowly Killing You (And All of Us) Part 2

Welcome back to the second installment of “How Your Diet Is Slowly Killing You (And All of Us).” Isn’t it exciting?! If you missed the first installment, you can check it out here.

First of all, I know there is a lot of conflicting information out there and it can be very overwhelming at times. That is why I urge you to check out NutritionFacts.org which is a non-profit organization that aims to unbiasedly deliver the latest in nutrition related research in an easy to understand science-based format. There are so many health myths and misleading information out there mostly from “research” funded by those industries whom benefit from it, so I urge you to take those with a grain of salt and not fall for their cherry-picked results.

Also, recognize these lovely diagrams below? Well, forget about it!

foodpyramid mypyramid myplate_magenta

The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee is full of members with conflicts of interest from the Sugar Association, McDonald’s Corp.’s Global Advisory Council on Healthy Lifestyles, Danon Institute, National Dairy Council, Mars Inc., National Dairy Board, Coca-Cola’s Beverages Institute for Health and Wellness, American Meat Institute, American Egg Board, etc.

See the issue here?

And to top it all off, here’s an excerpt from “Saving U.S. Dietary Advice From Conflicts of Interest” from the Food and Drug Law Journal:

“…[T]here is oddly no discussion at all of the scientific research on the health consequences of eating meat. If the Committee actually discussed this research, it would be unable to justify its recommendation to eat meat, as the research would show that meat increases the risks of chronic diseases, contrary to the purposes of the Guidelines. Thus, by simply ignoring that research, the Committee is able to reach a conclusion that would otherwise look improper.”

Case in point:

2011-02-23-arlo-janis

But I digress, today I want to address dairy. Every day we’re sold that we need the calcium in milk for strong bones, however, the acidity of milk lowers our pH levels to the point where our bones actually leach calcium as a buffer to bring our pH levels back up. So in reality, our bones are weaker from consuming milk. This is why we have one of the highest rates of osteoporosis in the world even though we have one of the highest rates of dairy consumption. In additional to this health concern, dairy has been linked to acne, diabetes, heart disease, bovine leukemia virus (a growing concern in today’s milk supply), and various cancers including prostate, ovarian, and breast cancer. I won’t get in to all of these today, but feel free to do your own research now that I’ve given you the tools to do so.

Today, I just want to highlight one of the biggest and scariest risks associated with dairy consumption: CANCERS.

First up, let’s look at the study “Milk Intake in Early Life and Risk of Advanced Prostate Cancer” from the American Journal of Epidemiology. This study concluded that drinking milk every day in adolescence was found to increase the risk of prostate cancer by 320%. Additionally, when dairy was introduced in to a population that previously did not consume it, such as in the study “The Experience of Japan as a Clue to the Etiology of Testicular and Prostatic Cancer”, as the consumption of dairy consumption rose by 20 times, so did the rate of prostate cancer. That’s a pretty high correlation.

In looking at the findings from the study “Milk Stimulates Growth of Prostate Cancer Cells in Culture” from the journal of Nutrition and Cancer, dairy milk increases cancer growth by 30% while almond milk decreases cancer growth by 30%. That is incredible! The alkaline nature of almond milk creates an environment that stifles the growth of cancer cells.

Additionally, dairy is full of hormones–the naturally occurring hormones of a pregnant mammal. This includes very high levels of estrogen, which has been classified by the National Institute of Health to be a carcinogen. This is because of the way it breaks down in the cell and releases free radicals. And unfortunately digestion does not destroy the estrogen in milk. Blood levels of estrogen are increased after the consumption of dairy. These increased levels of estrogen have been linked to an increase in breast cancer and ovarian cancer as found in the study “Milk and lactose intakes and ovarian cancer risk in the Swedish Mammography Cohort” from the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and “Indicators of lifetime estrogen exposure: effect on breast cancer incidence and interaction with raloxifine therapy in the multiple outcomes of raloxifine evaluation study participants” from the Journal of Clinical Oncology. That was a mouthful!

Basically, there is no need to consume dairy for calcium when you can get calcium from an abundance of plant-based sources including leafy greens, legumes, fruits, whole wheat bread, fortified cereals, tofu, broccoli, and almonds. This is not an exhaustive list even, so why are we even bothering with dairy?

Tiptoe to Health Tip #2

I am back again with another easy tip to help transition to a healthier lifestyle. This should be an obvious one after the discussion today, but skip the dairy milk! I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again–there is a substitute for everything meat and dairy! Switch to almond milk, soy milk, cashew milk, or coconut milk, etc. Find your fave!

plant_milk_cartons_september_2010

I cook and bake with unsweetened almond milk so don’t forget to use it in place of dairy milk in your favorite recipes! It’s a one-to-one ratio, so there’s no need to measure a different amount than what the recipe calls for. Easy as pie (see what I did there?).

Fun Fact: Did you know we are the only species that drinks another species milk after weaning? There is absolutely NO need to drink milk from another species.

cows-milk-for-baby-cows

Look for Part 3 coming soon! xoxo

How Your Diet is Slowly Killing You (And All of Us) Part 1

Have you watched Forks Over Knives yet? If you haven’t, what are you waiting for? Why hold yourself back from attaining the utmost health? Why not thrive instead of get by? Trust me, you won’t regret it.

I want to discuss why the Standard American Diet (SAD) is slowly killing you. But first, let’s define it. SAD is a diet high in meat, dairy, fat, sugar, and refined and processed junk food. Now, some of those are no-brainers in regards to being unhealthy for you. Most people know that processed meats are bad for us, but what about lean meats like poultry and fish? Both chicken and fish have high levels of cancer-causing chemicals like dioxin, arsenic, and mercury. Not only that, but meat is meat and all of it is full of artery clogging cholesterol and saturated fat. The body produces all of the cholesterol it needs, so you should not be consuming dietary cholesterol, which only comes from animal products. Dietary cholesterol plays a huge role in obesity, Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries due to plaque build-up), heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Basically, it’s the root of all evil. I’ll get more in depth on cholesterol in a later post, but for now, check out this lovely diagram below of your arteries clogging from consuming dietary cholesterol. My heart hurts just looking at it.

atherosclerosis

Next up, do you ever get achy joints and muscles? Consuming meat is linked to the inflammation. After only one meal of animal products one’s bloodstream becomes flooded with bacterial toxins known as endotoxins. The endotoxins come from the bacteria found in animal products. The bacteria can be cooked but the endotoxins will not be destroyed. Even our bodies enzyme digestion can’t destroy them. This predisposes you to the development of atherosclerosis and insulin resistance. And animal fat helps increase the absorption of endotoxins into the bloodstream.

This is why those on a plant-based diet can recover from a tough workout faster—no endotoxins causing excess inflammation! I’m still often surprised by this fact. After a tough workout I expect to be VERY sore the next day and even the following day, but I only feel a little soreness and it doesn’t inhibit me like it used to (you know, that feeling of sore quads after leg day and how stairs and the toilet are your enemy?!).

leg-day

Lastly, I want to introduce a easy recommendation to move towards this healthy lifestyle in every post which I’ll compile later in it’s own category for easy referral. Since sometimes it can be a slow progression, let’s call it tiptoeing to health. See my first tip below!

Tiptoe to Health #1

shiny-red-apples

My favorite saying is “no one ever became overweight from eating too much fruit.” I know it’s a lot to take in so if you can make one change, it would be to have fruit for breakfast. All fruit. Have a few bananas. Have apples, grapes, watermelon, cantaloupe, or oranges. Whichever fruit you fancy. And don’t be afraid to eat several pieces of fruit. Get full. Get energized. Did you know eating one apple gives you more energy in the morning than a cup of coffee? And no crash later! Why? Because when you consume whole fruit with all that fiber, it breaks down slowly and is absorbed over time so there’s no sugar high or crash.

If you’re interested in learning more about this diet, the science behind it, and the success stories of those who have switched to it, I recommend checking out the articles on www.ForksOverKnives.com. I’ve read all of them.

I’ll be following up with Part 2 of How Your Diet Is Slowly Killing You next week. xoxo

My New Lifestyle

Hey Everyone!

I just finished drinking a delicious smoothie and snacking on some Triscuits with hummus (so yummy and energizing!) and was inspired to write up a post. I am sure you all have been on the edge of your seats for a couple weeks waiting for my next post so I apologize for the delay 😉 I was really hoping to get something up sooner after my return to blogging post here, but alas, life happens. I am interested in eventually making YouTube videos to share quick snippets of this new path I am on with you while having a more personal medium to share in but I couldn’t wait to just blab on here about what I’ve been up to. YouTube may take the back-burner because I like not wearing makeup or pants and I don’t want to scare anyone.

nopants

As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I have transitioned to this new lifestyle which has literally changed my life for the better. I don’t like using labels because there is a stigma associated with just about everything now (why is life so controversial?) but basically, I have switched to a lifestyle studied, proven, and recommended to be the healthiest diet by organizations such as Kaiser Permanente (the largest U.S. managed care organization), the World Health Organization (WHO), and the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. It is referred to as the whole foods, plant-based (WFPB) diet. It consists of eating mainly fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and tubers, while minimizing or eliminating meats (including poultry and fish), eggs, dairy, and highly refined foods like bleached flours, refined sugars, and oil.

You may be thinking that it sounds restricting, but in fact, it doesn’t feel that way at all! This comes from a shift in mind-set from “I can’t have that” to “I don’t want that.”

To understand what I mean by this, I recommend watching the documentary Fork Over Knives. It is available to watch on Netflix. The trailer is below. Watch it right now. Go ahead, I’ll wait.

Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. — Hippocrates, father of medicine, 431 B.C.

*Shivers* Doesn’t that just give you the chills?! It is life-changing and life-saving!

My medicine

And good news–it is incredibly easy to make the transition. There alternatives for everything meat and dairy. Check out the options at your local grocery store. Make the switch t0 non-dairy milk. My personal favorite is almond milk but you can also try soy milk, coconut milk, rice milk, cashew milk–the list goes on. They are fortified with calcium and vitamin A and D for strong bones! Also, contrary to popular belief, all fruits and vegetables have protein in them, which I know is a major concern in our society today (even though Americans eat twice as much protein than they need) but if you eat a well balanced plant-based diet, you can easily attain more than enough protein. If you are concerned about your protein intake, there’s also tempeh, seitan, and tofu that you can add to your meals. And don’t forget that nuts and beans are packed with protein!

The chains have fallen off and I no longer feel bound by food. I never have guilt when eating, I am never counting calories and I never feel deprived. I feel satiated, I eat whatever I want, I think clearer, I have so much more energy, I recover faster after workouts, I get all the vitamins and minerals I need (minus B12 which I’ll get into in another post), and all while easily losing weight! I was very sedentary during my switch to this new lifestyle due to endless hours of studying I had to do for a certification I needed for work. Literally, didn’t try to lose weight and yet I dropped 5 lbs! I feel fueled, energized, refreshed, excited, happy, and healthy!

This blog was previously dedicated to my journey to be fit but the blog posts were all about limitations and counting calories. They are the perfect example for what not to do. Funny thing–I had a previous post also titled “My New Lifestyle” which focused on limiting calories. YIKES. Going forward I plan to post about my new lifestyle and share the benefits of eating WFPB, how to get started, and what my journey has been like so far after almost 8 months on it. I am also going to be sharing some of my favorites recipes so far, what I shop for, and how I prepare meals. Woohoo!

I want to share this because I truly care about you all and want us to make these steps towards a healthy lifestyle together! xoxo

 

These Are My Confessions

I really am a terrible blogger. I come back temporarily and then leave again. Life happens. And sickness =( *cough cough*

I finished the Vegan Challenge but not without a few cheat days. I hope to post the rest of it soon. It went well but I didn’t lose much weight and to be honest, I wasn’t very consistent with the workouts. I want to redo it but maybe not go as extreme as vegan. That’s what made me want to binge and have cheat days. I think actually incorporating a cheat day into the plan once a week would keep me from binging when I do deviate from the plan.

But I really enjoyed making the plan and picking the meals and workouts! It was fun and definitely would deliver results if I had followed it to a T. I am loving my vegan cookbooks especially. Who knew there were so many healthy options out there other than just a salad?! I have explored some really good alternatives. And desserts! Ok, that Vegan Cookie Dough is seductive. Yep, seductive. It’s sooo good (yeah, recipe still to come, my bad!)! But just because it’s vegan doesn’t mean it’s healthy–hello sugar!! I may have ate it a time or two more than I should have. So this time around I’m going to incorporate desserts less, but add them enough that I don’t binge on cookie dough, and allow for cheat days before I go crazy. If you’re already vegan, you’re my hero!

So, as I finish up posting the challenge I’ll also be attempting to do it again. I don’t think I’ll repost each day, just update the old ones with my new changes. I’ll definitely be posting how it goes but to see all my eats/workouts it will be in all of the vegan challenge posts. I’ll make a tab along the top for it so they’ll be easy to find.

Just to clarify, when I had cheat days, it wasn’t meat. I was able to at least stay vegetarian, but I could not resist dairy! Cheese, ice cream, donuts. So desserts sound like the main thing I need to solve (which has always been my problem anyways). I’m cursed with a sweet tooth!

Now that I’m off the vegan challenge, I have consumed an incredible amount of dairy. Ice cream, string cheese, lots of lazy meals melting cheese on a tortilla in quesadilla fashion, feta on my salads (which is a must), and the list goes on. In face, I’m eating my second string cheese of the day. I have a problem. Sure, string cheese is a good source of protein, but I really shouldn’t be consuming it as much as I am.

So that brings me to my NEW GOALS! Cut back on dairy for sure. I don’t think I’ll completely eliminate it, but I plan to reduce my intake. No more string cheese. Ice cream only on the occasion. Feta on my salad. No more quesadillas *sigh*. Next, I plan to workout at least 3 times a week. I’ve been doing Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred Level 1 and I feel strong enough that I may move on to Level 2 soon. By the way, I got Daniel to do it with me today! He had a meeting he had to leave for so he only did half of it but I think he was surprised at how out of shape he is. He has agreed to try to workout with me regularly again. Now that the weather is starting to warm we plan to run again. I’d like to run 3 days a week, and strength train 2-3 days a week.

So that’s what’s up.

ALSO. It was my birthday. In February. On the 23rd day. And I turned 24. You know what this means?!? It means my “golden year” is over. If you don’t know what a golden birthday is, look it up. I accomplished quite a bit in that year! I finally started this blog, I lost over 10 pounds, I got accepted into grad school, I started grad school, I got a job as a grad assistant/intern, I have an awesome internship lined up for this summer, and I moved into a beautiful apartment with the best man in the world! Yeah, all you ladies be jealous. Check out my flowers!

Oh, and that’s my mug of tea. But you can’t tell because it’s brown inside the mug. It’s a coffee mug. With tea in it.

flowers and tea

But the flowers are beautiful! At first I thought Daniel bought me flowers as a surprise for riding my bike home *spoiler* he didn’t. Let me explain. So I’ve been wanting a new bike for some time. My bike is currently out of commission. I’ve had it fixed so many times, it’s just not worth it anymore. Plus it was a hand-me-down from my mom and I have no idea how long she had it before me. So the K-Mart in town is closing their doors and had 40% off their bikes! The selection was pretty picked over when I finally took the plunge and bought one, but I found a pretty Schwinn Mirada (I think that’s the name?) in good condition. It has a few scratches but for 40%, I won’t complain. Anyway, it didn’t fit in my car. And I didn’t want to subject Daniel to riding a small woman’s bike home (though I secretly wanted him to) so I offered to ride it home while he drove my car back. When I arrived back at the apartment, he was bearing flowers and a Cadbury Egg! Turns out, he bought them because just the day before I had let 4 of his friends stay at our tiny apartment for the “Fake Patty’s Day” celebration. It’s basically the biggest college party ever. It’s always held the weekend before Spring Break to make sure all of the college kids spend their money on green beer since the actual St. Patrick’s Day is during break. Clever folks. People wake up at 7am to drink and get a breakfast buffet at a bar! ….People like me… But, hey, it was good!

So that’s what the flowers were for.

And here’s a picture of my birthday celebration.

Rachel's 24th birthday celebration

I think it’s the only photo documenting the night. And it’s with two of my favorite people: Daniel and Corey! I also put fake lashes on myself for the very first time. It felt weird. But they stayed on the whole time so I’ll consider that a success! It was a fun night of dinner, drinking, and dancing!

So that’s what’s been happening with me. What’s been happening with you?!