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My top 10 Foods for Weight Loss

It seems that as Americans, we are obsessed with weight loss. And is it really any wonder? Our population is growing and growing. In some demographics the rate is as high as 49% (CDC). I too have been one of those people who has tried every fad diet, every pill, every strange concoction. But nothing ever seemed to work or at least work for very long. Over the last 18 months, I have lost 36 pounds, and I continue to loose weight.

But how can I possibly do that with no fad diet? I do it through abundance and because I am a vegan. I don’t eat processed foods. That is so hard for many of us because processed foods are inexpensive. Next week, I am going to talk about how to get more fruits and veggies out of a smaller budget. But for now, I want to talk about the top 10 foods for weight loss.

1. No sodium seasoning (I use Spike or the Costco Brand)

Don’t add salt to your food. Plain and simple. Salt makes you retain water. It makes your blood pressure raise. High salt intake has nosaltbeen linked with osteoporosis and with stomach cancer. It is really not great to take a salt shaker and pour it on your food. Many of our foods already have salt in them, so it isn’t necessary to pour salt on them as well. For more information about salt, visit http://nutritionfacts.org/topics/salt/

What can you do instead? Use a no salt added seasoning. These are really tasty and there are many varieties available at every grocery store. Find the one that you like or make your own. If you think you can live without that salty taste, remember your taste buds replace themselves every 1o days. In no time you will be amazed at how good your food tastes without the salt and how much you don’t need it any more.

Personal story about salt intake: Recently, I put my husband on a no salt added diet for 10 days. At the end of the 10 days, I told him he could eat anything he wanted with as much salt as he wanted. He immediately picked up a bag of chips. He ate one chip and said, “I can’t eat this, it is too salty.” He said he felt sad that he no longer wanted to eat his favorite chips, but he was glad he realized how much salt is in processed foods.

2. Oranges

Oranges are my personal favorite food. They taste so good. They can satisfy a sweet tooth or a sour tooth. The sweet and tangy orange, tangerine, or clementine can make you feel satisfied. Plus they are usually pretty inexpensive. Oranges are also a good orangessource of vitamin C. So not only are you satisfying your craving for something sweet and sour, you are also getting a punch of this awesome vitamin. One large orange has nearly 100 mcg of vitamin C. And studies have shown that 500 mcg daily can have a huge impact on your health from helping your immune system to reducing wrinkles. Check out what WebMD has to say about oranges.

 

 

3. Kale

kale

Kale has recently become a superstar recipe. And no wonder… it is chalked full of good nutrients. And we all know you should be eating more leafy greens. CLICK HERE for hundreds of videos on why you should choose kale. Among them are boosting your immune system, reducing your risk for lung cancer, decreasing the visibility of wrinkles, the list goes on.

But I’ve also heard a lot of people say they don’t like the taste or texture of kale.  For me and my family, we eat it on the regular and we really enjoy it. You can steam it, saute it, or put it in a smoothie. My family enjoys massaged kale salad. Simply put your favorite salad dressing on a bunch of destemmed kale and massage it for about 5 minutes. Yummy!

4. Vegetable Broth

veggiebrothVegetable broth may seem like a strange addition to the list. But it is really awesome because it can help you stop using oil. You have to be careful to get a low sodium brand or you can just make your own, but broth can be an excellent weight loss tool.

First, vegetable broth adds lots of flavor to food. If you want to mash a potato but don’t want to add all the fat from milks and margarine, then you can mash it with some vegetable broth, and it will be lovely and creamy.

Don’t want to use oil to saute? Then you can saute your onions and other goodies in a just a little bit of vegetable broth. It is great to add to soups and other dishes. But it is low in calories. You can just sip on some broth if you need something warm in the afternoon. It adds a lot of flavor for minimal calories.

5. Tomatoes

tomatoTomatoes are delicious. That is why you should eat them. No, I kid. Tomatoes are great because they can keep you on track. Eat tomato sauce on top of potatoes or pasta; eat salsa with veggies or potato sticks; make your own ketchup or barbecue sauce.  If you are trying to reduce your fat and salt intake, then tomatoes are your best friend. Not only are the low in fat, but they taste salty so they don’t need a lot of extra salt and they can help add that salty punch in foods.

Tomatoes also reduce inflammation and  have anti inflammatory properties. Tomatoes are also inexpensive, easy to grow, and can add so many different flavors to any meal.

6.  Chia Seeds

chia seedOmega 3’s are important. Many Americans and people around the world get their Omega 3’s from … fish oil. Don’t do that. Fish are increasingly becoming contaminated by radiation from Fukishima in Japan. Not only that but many are harvested or raised inhumanely. They are high levels of toxins and antibiotics. They are just overall not the health food people have been led to think they are.  (CLICK HERE for more information on fish).

So if you aren’t getting Omegas from fish, where should you get them? Why not give Chia seeds a a try? Yes, they used to be grown on the top of weird shapes to produce funny little plant statues. Those same Chias are a superfood. Not only are they high in Omega 3’s but they also are super filling. They make you feel full longer. They can be used to thicken anything and make a delicious pudding. Here is one of my favorite puddings by Dreena Burton. (CLICK HERE).

7. Water

waterDrink WATER. Just Drink IT. “Oh but water doesn’t taste good,” you say. Ok, fine. Then add a few drops of flavored stevia or dilute some juice. Squeeze in a lemon. Or just chug it. But no matter what you do, drink water. If your pee isn’t clear every time you pee (which should be at least 8 times a day), then you are dehydrated. Water helps you flush toxins. It nourishes your cells. Some studies have even shown that it makes school children smarter!

How much water do you need? At a minimum, you should halve your weight, and drink that in ounces. So, if you weigh 160 pounds, you should be drinking 80 ounces of water. But do it even better and everyone try to drink 2 liters a day or more. Your body will thank you.

8. Bananas

bananaB-A-N-A-N-A-S. Bananas are the best. No, you aren’t going to overdose on potassium (unless you eat like 10,000 in 30 minutes). Bananas are a great source of vitamins including magnesium which many Americans are deficient in. It has cancer fighting properties, they are yummy, they are cheap. Bananas are really the food of the gods. Some days, I eat as many as 10 bananas in one day! (To be honest, I’ve eaten as many as 20). They are portable since they have their own container (their skin). You can eat them on the go. They aren’t a weird food since most people eat bananas, so you can eat them pretty much anywhere without fear of judgement.

Need more reasons? They have been shown to reduce the effects of hangovers and morning sickness. They even have been shown to help in fever reduction. CLICK HERE for 25 more reasons to eat bananas.

Side Note: Bananas should be spotted in order to be ripe and for you to get the full health benefits.

9.  Maple syrup

mapleMaple syrup is my favorite thing. Make sure you get real maple syrup. The real deal. It is more expensive, but it is worth it. Maple syrup is for more than topping pancakes. It is a great sweet replacement for sugar. You can use it in desserts instead of sugar. You can put it on oatmeal or over other grains like quinoa. You can use it with inexpensive things like bananas as a dip. I add it whenever I need something sweet. I put it in salad dressings and have even used it in marinara sauce.

Now if you are looking for something healthy as well as yummy, choose date sugar or just plain ol’ dates. But for me, I find that maple syrup is good. It is natural. It helps you get rid of that sweet tooth need for refined sugars. And so I love it.

10. Nutritional Yeast

nutyeastWeird ingredient alert! I bet some of you have never heard of nutritional yeast. Even if you have, you probably have never used it. But have no fear, nutritional yeast is awesome. It is not like bakers yeast used in bread products. It is not like brewer’s yeast used in alcohol products. It is just a non active yeast (always labeled nutritional yeast). The first reason you should add it in to your diet is that most nutritional yeasts are fortified with vitamin B12. Yeah, we get to eat our B12.

Ok, but more importantly, nutritional yeast can help you get off the cheese. Cheese is bad. It is yucky. It is addictive and full of hormones, antibiotics, disease, calories, and fat. Cheese is the number one source of saturated fat in the American Diet. But Nutritional Yeast can give food a lovely cheeseyish flavor. Does it taste like cheese? No. But you can make some really tasty sauces (CLICK HERE) for my favorite. These sauces can help you remember the yummy creamy flavor of cheese without cheese.

Remember it only takes 10 days to change your taste buds, so give it 10 days, and feel better and be skinnier.

Obsessed with what my kids eat: Maybe more parents should

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Yesterday I went on a field trip with my six year old (holy cow she is six!), and I found myself obsessing over what she was eating. I was counting up grams of protein and amounts of calcium in my head. I found myself looking up values of different nutrients in one type of bread versus another type of bread and so on.


Then it occurred to me: Before I put my kids on a mostly vegan diet, I never really thought about what they ate. I tried to make sure that they ate healthy meals, but really, I never gave it much thought. So, why am I obsessing now?
If you go online and search out information about being a vegan parent, there is so much information about how it can be bad for kids from information about B12 to vitamin D and protein. People tend to fall into one of two camps: vehemently against vegan kids or absolutely for it. I am the kinda gal who has to do the research, so I just had to keep reading. The truth is that B12 is a food additive because it comes from bacteria, but most people get it from dairy and eggs. Vitamin D is added to dairy as well. Most Americans eat too much protein. If you spend 10-15 minutes outside without sunscreen, your body makes plenty of Vitamin D, by the way.
And, many of the products we eat in our house have B12 as an additive. There are plenty of ways you can get B12–from supplements, nutritional yeast, other foods.
So, because of my new found obsession, I decided to do a side by side comparison of what my kids eat now and what they ate before the new diet (I put the values into Livestrong’s my plate calorie counter). What I found out is that they eat about the same amount of protein. They eat more calcium and get more essential nutrients such as vitamin A and K and Manganese. The most important finding is that they eat less calories and less fat (with virtually no trans fats) while getting this valuable punch of nutrition.
I could only think to myself, I wish I had spent more time thinking about what we were all eating before! I don’t think parents like me are the problem. I do think about it. I make sure they have access to a wide variety of foods. And I am positive they have changed their taste buds. They eat everything from turnips to Swiss chard. I rarely hear complaints. We don’t have a cookie in the house, and not a single child has complained.
I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have cookies. If you have read my other posts, then you know we love a good Oreo. But it isn’t something that we must eat in our house everyday now. On many of the blogs, the Vegan parents say something like, “if I said I was going to feed my kids pink slime nuggets and chemicals pressed with sugar disguised as cookies, no one would say anything.” That really resonated with me. We don’t question if someone feeds their kids junk food diets. We rail if someone says having obese children is akin to child abuse, but then when we want to do something like go Vegan for health, ethical, and environmental reasons, then people say you might be doing something wrong. We have internalized this message so much that I have become obsessed with what my children are eating.

Here is the basic fact of the matter, my kids are healthy, they are energetic, lovely children. I am concerned about them, and I make sure that they get what they need. I may make mistakes in terms of what I feed them, but you know what, it can’t be worse than a steady diet of McDonald’s. So, back to the field trip that sparked this obsession. I was surrounded by five, six, and some seven-year-old children. Many of these children were already displaying the signs of an unhealthy life style (such as obesity and type II diabetes). I was sitting with my field trip group at the park, eating lunch, and I was looking at their lunches.

Let me start by telling you what Medea was eating:
Peanut butter and Vegan marshmallow fluff sandwich on whole wheat, whole grain bread.
Fruit salad with pineapple, cantaloupe, strawberries, blueberries.
Mishmash (applesauce with cinnamon).

Normally I pack a “dessert” item in her lunch like a bar or a cookie or something, but we were out. She recently told me she doesn’t have enough time to eat her entire lunch so she would rather have the mishmash than the cookie. She at the fruit salad first and then the sandwich. She saved her mishmash for after she played a while. (Preview: We are going to make oatmeal energy bars so the recipe will be coming soon!)

The other children were eating one of two meals. They had either brought their meal from home or they had a school provided lunch. Let’s start with the school provided lunch. The school lunch was a ham and cheese single sandwich. A bag of baked chips and an apple. Every child (three in my group) who brought a lunch from home brought a lunchable. The lunchables were ham and cheese with crackers, a Capri Sun, and a chocolate bar. Each child with a brought lunch also had it supplemented–one child had chips, one had more candy, one had a granola bar. The lunches were gross. Not a single child ate all of their sandwich, but they did eat the candy. Most of them ate at least part of the apple as well.

I noticed that some of the parents who had also chaperoned the field trip brought their kids fast food lunches. It was everywhere. I felt so overwhelmed by the fast food, processed nation that my kids live in. My 13-year-old is still giving me a hassle about how we eat, but I know in my heart that at least she gets good, whole foods at home. I hope that some of that wears off on her. Maybe the compassion component will come later.
For now, I am going to try to obsess just a little less and just to make sure that I continue to plan well rounded, yummy meals for us to eat.

On a funny note from the field trip: As one of the stations, you could be an artist. We all drew pigs and wrote “save the pigs!” I included a picture of Mae’s drawing. (I wrote the words).

To fake meat or not to fake meat . . . that is the question!

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First, sorry to my subscribers about the double post yesterday that wasn’t a double post about applesauce. I hit enter when I should have hit delete… grr technology sometimes. Anyway, I apologize for the blank post. I hope it doesn’t happen again. And now to your regularly scheduled blog post:

Everyone from PETA to Vegan Outreach will tell you that one of the best ways to transition to veganism is to eat fake meat. When I say fake meat, I’m talking about meat substitutes such as tofurkey hot dogs and veggie meat crumbles. They have substitute cheeses (some of which are darn tasty) and substitute sausage, beef jerky, they have seitan (pronounced like satan) and all the like. Supposedly, these meat substitutes are supposed to help ease the transition because they help deal with cravings and keep things familiar. After all, life hasn’t changed that much right, you can still eat a hot dog– even if it is a tofu hot dog.

In fact, here is what PETA has to say about it:
Almost all grocery stores now carry delicious faux meat products, too—from veggie burgers and veggie hot dogs to vegetarian chicken nuggets, ribs, steak strips, and more. With these great products available, it’s easier than ever to whip up delicious meat-free meals at home.
What a raving endorsement of these products!
Vegan Outreach (one of the coolest vegan groups in my opinion) has a list of substitutes up front and center on their “getting started” page. And in their getting started guide, it is the first thing they talk about right after their glossary of must know vegan terms. The first simple dinner they suggest? A veggie burger or dog! To top it off, they list it as a top source of protein. Yet another raving endorsement of these products.
When I started my transition, I went on a hunt for other Vegan moms to see what they had done. I was shocked and awed by how many of them had recipes for faux philly cheese steak or faux chilly cheese dogs, faux chicken nuggets, faux hot wings. Anything you could imaging, they could faux it.
So, I really started to think about it. To faux or not to faux. My 13 year-old is really resistant to the change and fauxing might make the transition easier for her. And heck, I do like some cheese on my taco! So here are some of the reasons why I have decided not to faux it on the regular:
1. Mock meat is processed. Processing food is bad for your health and bad for the environment. Period. It pollutes your body and it pollutes the earth.
2. Mock meat keeps you used to eating meat! I don’t eat meat. Now, I don’t even crave meat. To be honest, I don’t even really remember what meat tastes like. If I had been eating mock meat all this time, I probably would. I think it would make it easier to cheat. It just doesn’t make any sense to me.
3. I live in podunk. While we do have access to some great stores. Mock items are still pretty pricey. Not only that but they are sometime expired at the stores I frequent. And the health food stores here still use styrofoam containers and plastic bags! So there is a whole new layer to my dilemma.

4. See number 2! I don’t eat meat. I think it conveys the wrong message. That message is that in order to be happy and fulfilled you have to eat something that either is or resembles meat. That simply isn’t true. Tofurky dogs are required. In fact, I think they hurt more than they help. Or at least, they would hurt me. I am a slippery slope kinda gal, and that seems like a slippery slope.

So, as for me and mine, we don’t fake meat it. We have been doing pretty good. I am seven weeks in. The little kids are two weeks in. Robert and Maggie still eat meat everyday. But we don’t in this house, and that is all I can control. For today, I’m ok with that. And for today we shan’t fake meat it.

Of course, we do eat things like lentil patties. Some may see that as a homemade fake meat. I do not. We have eaten lentil patties for a long time not as a burger substitute but just as a lentil patty. Yummy lentil patty.

So what do we eat? For dinner tonight we had, roasted turnips and sweet potatoes, sauteed swiss chard, green beans, and fruit salad. We normally would have beans or quinoa or something to go along with that dinner, but it was me and the kids (no Robert) and they had been snacking all afternoon. They just weren’t up for it. As a Vegan parent, I have to be pretty aware of what my kids are eating to make sure they are getting what they need. Oops. I mean, as a parent.

I mean, really is it fair to say as a Vegan parent. I recently ran a comparison of what my kids eat now as Vegans and what they ate before on a junk food diet. They get about 2/3 the amount of calories. Nearly the same amount of protein. 1/4 to 1/8 the amount of sodium. About 1/2 to 2/3 the amount of fat (but now it is all avocados and stuff so no transfats now!). I really do pay attention now when I should have been paying attention all along. But I digress. Maybe I should save that for another day’s blog.

Here are the photos of what we ate tonight. I kid you not, all three of my children cleaned their plates, and the 13 year old who is super resistant said, “can I have extra swiss chard?” So, something must be working.


Nervous Breakdowns, butter, and oreos

>So I had a “vegan” nervous breakdown. I have been doing a lot of vegan research; and as I transition to veganism, I am experiencing the usual ups and downs of what that means. It is also difficult living in a more rural setting without the expansive resources available in more urban settings. But even in Longview, I have it better than in other more rural settings. However, one thing I am coming to realize is that it may actually be better being a rural or suburban vegan because there are fewer choices and fewer judgements so it is easier to transition.

My husband also has helped me overcome some of these little hiccups. He basically said, “you can’t be perfect. You are doing the research, you are doing the best you can with the resources you have. Sometime there are going to be mistakes, but you just keep moving forward. Lesson learned.” I see his point, and the good thing is that maybe I can share those lessons with you all. And maybe someday all these lessons will make it into a book. But that may be wishful thinking 🙂

Anyway, back to the nervous breakdown. I ate margarine with whey in it. Whey is a milk byproduct; and therefore, an animal product–not vegan. I had done the research. But when I went to the grocery store, my daughter was bugging me, it was really late at night, I was hurrying, and I didn’t read the label. I thought I grabbed the brand that was vegan. So, we just ate it. Then I had this weird nagging voice in my head. So, I read the label. The bad news is it had whey in it. I was really upset.

I mean, I have been trying so hard to have it all go up in flames over whey! Grrr. Dang whey. So, of course, we quit eating it. We bought a vegan brand. Move on.

So, then we went to the store for sun screen. My kids have pretty fair skin. The middle child (Persephone) has been getting a really serious freckle outbreak and it is only APRIL! Well freckles are a sign of sun damage. Our family has a pretty serious history of melanoma, so I wanted to get her one of those stick sunscreens that she could swipe on her face before recess everyday. Just something to be preventative. Well, everything had beeswax in it. GRRR! My dear husband said, “you live in Longview. These are your choices, move on.” Well I struggled. Finally I found a stick that didn’t have beeswax, but it was on SPF 30. I know the studies say SPF 30 is enough, but I wanted at least 50, and I wanted it to be zinc based, blah blah.

So, I decided that I was going to go with the SPF 30 because it didn’t have beeswax and the literature supports that SPF 30 is adequate. But then there was a small display of sunscreen off to the side. So, I read the labels of all of those as well. And as luck would have it, I found a vegan stick that is SPF 50! Yeah! Robert was really irritated that I took like 25 minutes to pick out a sunscreen, but I will know for next time, so it won’t take so long, and I felt really happy with my choice.

Then I came home and really thought about what it meant for my family to be Vegans. I think for us, it means that we just do the best that we can. But I realized how difficult this is for me. Especially after my husband called me “One of those crazy Vegans.” Am I being crazy? I am not sure. I guess I am figuring it out as I go. I am trying really hard to evaluate gray areas. I am trying to be a good Vegan and to find out what that means in suburban areas.

So what that the margarine had whey in it? I didn’t do it on purpose. I learned a valuable lesson. But I also learned something that made me a little sad: a may never be comfortable eating an unfamiliar product again. That is hard to swallow.

So, what did I do in my sadness? I ate a freaking oreo! I promised myself I was not going to be a junk food vegan. I am a healthy, whole grain, celery eating vegan . . . who gets upset and comforts herself with food like the rest of us. That food is oreos. Tomorrow I’m going to write about tofurkey and why I don’t eat it. I think all the transition gurus are wrong, so I don’t eat fake meat (that is your preview). But I needed the oreo. I needed to eat something vegan that reminded me of what it is like to eat to be happy. I just felt guilty. But I guess, at least it was Vegan, right?

Self Love… its more than Self Esteem

>So, I spent a lot of time thinking about how I want to work this blog, and I have decided that each month, I am going to have a theme. The month of May is going to be all about self love. Self love? But isn’t that a dirty word for … you know? No, self love is about truly loving yourself the way you love your children or parents. When people talk about self esteem, it simply isn’t enough. Self love is more than just self esteem.

I want to spend the month of May discussing ways that we can grow to love ourselves and thereby increase our happiness. There are many important things in this world for us to focus on loving: loving ourselves, loving our family, loving the earth, loving our friends, loving strangers. But each of these begins with loving ourselves. Even if we think we are loving other people or things to the fullest capacity, the truth is that we could all love so much more if we only loved ourselves. Loving ourselves also shows others who love us how much we respect their love.


Each blog this month (expect one every few days) will focus on how to love ourselves more completely. This is a work in progress. As time goes by, you may have to revamp yourself love or take another look at it, but in each step of your journey, you should love yourself first.

NO! Loving yourself is not the same thing as being selfish. It is not about only doing for yourself or thinking only of yourself, but it is about knowing who you are and about being happy with that person.

Don’t worry, there will be plenty coming up about how to use meditation to increase that love!

So, go look in the mirror, tell yourself, “I love you,” and check back later to learn more about creating and maintaining your self esteem!