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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.

Three Days of the Happy Herbivore Reboot

My family has been in a state of transition. We have moved three times in six months. Needless to say it has been a rough six months. Those months were filled with lots and lots of (vegan) junk food. In an attempt to get our family back on track, when we moved into our new home, I decided that we needed to reboot. I had read a bunch of stuff about the Happy Herbivore reboot (www.rebootcleanse911.com). So I decided to give it a go. I met Lindsay at the Get Healthy Marshall New Year, New You event in 2013, and I thought maybe her reboot would help us refocus. We are doing a total of 13 days. I thought I would give a post of how it went. The first three days was the really big part, and Happy Herbivore offers a three day reboot, so I thought it would be the most helpful. I’m going to show you the food and give you my daily reflection so it is going to be a pretty long post:) Scroll to the section RESULTS if you just want to see how it turned out.

First things first: The daily detox drink. She says you should drink this every morning. I couldn’t choke it down. I tried twice. I just gave up. I couldn’t do it, and I decided not to torture myself to try.

Day One:

Opulent Oatmeal

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This was pretty good. It wasn’t very sweet, so when you are used to sweeter oatmeal, it took a little adjustment. However, I have since had this again, and it was amazing. So, I guess the point is to understand that if you are coming from a really sugary breakfast sorta place, this is going to be a jolt. But it is really yummy. (Kid approved)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pumpkin Chili

P1060342 This chili is the bomb diggity. I ate it several times. An omnivore friend of mine who eats a SAD (Standard American Diet) came over, and she thought this chili was the bomb. It is so yummy. The pumpkin makes it the right consistency for chili, but you don’t really taste the pumpkin. It is so good. (Kid approved)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pineapple Stirfry

P1060343P1060344 Ok, so this was ok. But it isn’t anything I would cook again. The rice wasn’t included on the plan, but we had to have something or else it would have been like pineapple soup. I think this recipe could be good, but it definitely needs some refining. (Kids said eh).

 

 

 

Day Two

Red radiance Quinoa

P1060346 If you have never had quinoa for breakfast, and I never had, do it. Do it today. That is so yummy. My husband said it tasted like dessert for breakfast. It was the most amazing thing I think we ate on the reboot. (Kid approved).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pear Lentil Salad

P1060347 Ok, obviously this wasn’t the recipe. I just didn’t like the idea of mixing lentils, pears, and salad dressing. So instead, I made a huge salad. Put some lentils on the side and ate the Pear for dessert. It worked better for me.  My husband won’t eat lentils. He says it brings up traumatic memories of his past relationships. So, I gave him garbanzo beans instead of lentils. (Kid approved, surprisingly).

 

 

 

 

 

Mushroom Barley

P1060348 This was ok. It was really salty tasting even though there wasn’t any salt. It was also really mushroomish. (Not kid approved). I won’t make it again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day Three

Peanbutter Cup Shake

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Ok, I know the photo is sideways, but this is the most delicious breakfast shake I have ever had. I would eat it every single day of my life. (Kid approved)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sweet Potato Tacos

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These were also so yummy that if this all I ever ate again, I would be cool. (Kid approved).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moroccan Stew


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Ok so this was also super good. It had all these yummy cinnamony flavors that I just adored. (Kid approved).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roasted Pears

P1060353Dessert was included every night (which I didn’t picture), but holy heck. This was so good I had to show it to you. Roasted pears with yogurt (soy of course) on top. Just wonderful. (Kid approved).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Results

After 7 days of rebooting, I got sick. My friend’s son came over and he was sick. My daughter got sick, and I just hugged her for like an entire day, so I got sick. It was a disaster. We basically ate soup for like four days. So prior to the illness our results were fantastic. I lost almost 5 pounds. But better than that I felt happier and just better. My husband even pointed out how great he felt. I think part of the reason was that we were cooking and eating together. Part of the reason was that every meal was made with love and tasted great. Part of the reason was that I lost weight. I mean, it was a fantastic experience. It did just what I wanted it to do. It brought my family together and it refocused us as whole food vegans.

Would I recommend it? I can’t say yes fast enough. If you are omni, try it. The worst thing that will happen is you will find out you are a vegan deep down in your heart. But really, you will have a few days of lovely food that will taste great and help you get off processed junk. If you are vegan . . . well basically the same thing. So rush over and visit rebootcleanse911.com and get started today.

 

 

My obsession with Oreos pays off: New Frosting Recipe

>I know, I know . . . I’m obsessed with Oreos. Who wouldn’t be? They are delicious, processed, vegan, little treats of delight. What more could you ask for? They are the one treat that we usually keep in the house. A pack lasts me and the three girls about two weeks. What makes Oreos so delicious? Why vegetable shortening of course. So, when my frosting failed miserably a few weeks ago, I thought, “Self.” Because, you know I do call myself, self. I thought, “Self, wouldn’t it be awesome if you could make frosting that tastes like Oreos?” Why, yes, self, yes, it would.

So, I made that my mission. For my daughter’s second, sixth birthday party this weekend, I decided to switch up my cupcake recipe and frosting recipe. The cupcake recipe was too crumbly, but the frosting was marvelous! So, I will stick with my old cupcake recipe, but the new Oreo frosting recipe.

Oreo Frosting Recipe

3 cups of powdered sugar
1/4 cup Earth Balance Margarine
1/4 cup Vegetable Shortening
1 tablespoon vanilla
1-2 tablespoons Almond Milk (as needed)
In a bowl mix powdered sugar, margarine, shortening, and vanilla. With an electric mixer on low, start mixing the ingredients together. Add the milk slowly until the frosting reaches a creamy consistency. 
The is the first Vegan recipe that I developed all on my own. I hope you enjoy it!

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.


Happy Easter: Loving My Mother Today

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I am not religious, but my parents are; and thus, we celebrate Easter with a huge family dinner every year. Our normal dinner menu includes items such as glazed ham, mashed potatoes (loaded with butter and sour cream), pies, etc.
As we approached this holiday, I was so nervous–how was I going to handle my first big holiday as a vegan? I wasn’t worried about me. I have a lot of will power, and I am totally committed to my cause (although I did have a major break down yesterday which will be the topic of tomorrow’s post). However, I normally do a lot of the cooking in concert with my mother, and I was really worried about how I was going to handle cooking for my family. Since Easter is what I consider one of the minor holidays (Christmas, Thanksgiving being the major holidays), I saw it as a dry run.
Thankfully, my mother came up with a great idea: let’s do a lemon/Greek theme. Yes! We mostly call it Greek, but it was really a lemon theme since everything had lemon in it. Then my mother searched out Vegan margarine and vegan bread so I could have garlic bread (one of my favorites.) I freaking love you mom! So that was a great Easter treat.
So, we had a wonderful Easter dinner. We were all full and satisfied, and I think everyone was super happy with our Vegan supper.
Easter Menu:
Greek Lemon Rice Soup
Hummus with Pita Chips
Salad
Olive Bar
Quinoa Salad
Fresh Fruit Salad
Homemade Lemonade
Greek Lemon Soup (My Mom’s Recipe)
2 Carrots
2 Celery Stalk
1/2 Onion
3 Vegetable Bouillon Cubes
2 Garlic cloves
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup lemon juice
1 1/2 cups Basmati Rice
1 tbsp Smart Balance Margarine (optional)
8 cups Water
Saute carrots, celery, onion, garlic in olive oil until tender. Add bouillon, rice, lemon juice, and water. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer. Simmer until rice is tender. Once rice is tender, add margarine.

I also wanted to give the recipe for my special Quinoa salad.
2 cups Quinoa
4 cups water
2 tomatoes
1 avocado
1 cucumber
1 red bell pepper
1 small onion
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/8 cup olive oil
salt and pepper
Bring the quinoa and water to a boil, cover, reduce to simmer, and simmer for 25 minutes or until tender. (When quinoa is cooked it has a ring around the edge). Dice all the veggies.
In a mason jar, mix the lemon juice and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix the quinoa, veggie, and the dressing.
So Yummy!
I have put up my hummus recipe up before but I will put it up again because it is so awesome.
2 cans of chickpeas
2 tbsp tahini
3 cloves of garlic
1 tsp of olive oil
salt
water
Put the ingredients in the cuisinart (except the water). Turn it on. Add a small amount of water in a thin stream until the hummus reaches the desired consistency.
Here are the pictures rounding out our meal (except the fruit because I didn’t take a photo of that).


The point being . . . this was one of the best Easter dinners we have ever had. It was VEGAN. It went wonderfully. I am so happy. I couldn’t have done it without the support of my family. Everyone is still nervous about the major holidays, but we have a lot of time to adjust before then.