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Monthly Archives: December 2013

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

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 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.

Reflections on Motherhood. My daughter turns 15.

Today, my oldest child turns 15. Fifteen. I don’t even know how that is possible. For some reason, this birthday is hitting me hard. Maybe because she is going to start learning to drive. Maybe because I offered to keep her out of school, and she decided to go to school to be with her friends on her birthday. I’m not sure.

I thought I would share her and my story with you. It is deeply personal, but maybe it will touch some of you who experienced or are experiencing something similar.

maggie blog

I got pregnant with Maggie when I was just 19. It wasn’t a very good situation, and I was in no way prepared for motherhood. During my entire pregnancy, I didn’t really bond with her. I didn’t feel like I knew this person, and I was so scared that I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to actually have her. See, up until Maggie, I had never really held a baby. I had never changed a diaper. I had never experienced any of that. I had always said I didn’t want kids, and I meant it.

I was petrified of labor. And then she was born. It was a six hour labor with no drugs. She came into this world clean and absolutely quiet. I can still remember the doctor holding her up as if it just happened. I can remember her face and the way she looked. But most of all I remember how I felt. I was one of those people who instantly bonded with my child. I understand that doesn’t happen for everyone. But for me, I just felt like, “Oh my god, I’m a mother.” I loved her so much. I knew that I wanted to spend my entire life loving her and trying to to the right thing by her.

But I was very young (20 when she was born). I was also very poor and very inexperienced. I know these things have deeply shaped the person she has become. I have not always been a perfect mother. There are things I regret so much and wish I could take back. There were times I resented her because I couldn’t go out and do the things my friends were doing. Or because I didn’t have extra money. But now, I know that was so stupid. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Now that I am 35, I can honestly say, I no longer care that I didn’t do what my friends did when they were 20 because I have Maggie. What could ever be better than that?

When she was little, we were so poor. We used to share a frozen dinner at night. I can remember my co workers bringing me in food because they knew that I wasn’t going to eat that day so that Maggie could eat. I worked two jobs, and my boss was so amazing. I worked overnight at the newspaper, and he let me bring in a play pen so she could be with me while I worked. What would I have done without him? I am so thankful for that kindness.

But Maggie was very, very sick as a child. She was born with a suppressed immune system. So, she was in the hospital a lot until the age of 6 when she started to outgrow it. This meant she couldn’t go to daycare a lot. Luckily, I had professors who loved me and were deeply compassionate to me, and they let me bring her to class. Maybe that is why she is so smart or so mature. She was always around adults.

Once, when she was 18 months old, the doctor told me that she didn’t think Maggie was going to live. We were in the hospital and Maggie was very sick with meningitis. The doctor told me that I needed to start preparing myself that Maggie may never recover. I sat by her bed all day and all night–every day– for three weeks (21 days exactly). Then she opened her eyes, rolled over, and said, “Mommy, I’m hungry.” I have never in my life heard sweeter or more precious words than that. I can still remember the joy I felt when she woke up and spoke to me.

There were other joys too. In fact, almost everything about her has been a joy. When she was 12, she entered the dreaded teenage years. She got snarky and a huge attitude. She started doing and saying things that I wasn’t proud of. I couldn’t believe that this was my Maggie. I just kept thinking, “Please, not Maggie. Don’t let her turn into one of those teenagers.” And then, she didn’t. It was a short lived few months of fighting and meanness. But then, she just stopped. I hope I had something to do with that.

I learned how to be a parent with Maggie. That means, I have made some pretty big mistakes. For which I hope she can forgive me when she gets older. There were times I yelled about stupid stuff. Times when I put my needs before hers. Times when I wasn’t paying attention. But we have grown together. I think I will always feel so close to her because we grew up together. I always joke that I don’t get a lot of people because I have never been an adult without having a child.


What does that mean for her? It means that she is 15 and she tells me everyday before she gets out of the car to go to school that she loves me. It means that when she sees me out in public, even if she is with her friends, she will hug me and say hi to me. What 15 year old do you know who does that? It means that we dance in the car and in the living room. But it also means that she had to be more mature. That she grew up too fast. It means that she didn’t have the same life as her younger sisters.

And that’s the breaks. I tell her that sometimes it is hard being born first. And sometimes it is hard being born to a mother who didn’t even know how to change your diaper. And it is hard never having known your biological father. These things totally suck. But what we got out of it is a relationship in which I love her more than anything. I know I have put some unrealistic expectations on her. When I realize that I’m doing it, I try to change. But I don’t know, I’ve never had a teenager before. There is a learning curve. And most of all, I want her to not grow up to be like me and to have my life. So, I push her to be better. Sometimes, I know, I push too hard because the truth is, she is already so much better than I am. And nothing could make me happier or prouder.

I hope when she grows up, she will know that everything, every decision, every mistake, I have always done with love in my heart and because I wanted what was best for her.

So happy birthday to my smart, capable, compassionate, interesting, beautiful daughter.

Yummy Yummy Umami Tempeh Burgers

Today I made a video on these tempeh burgers, so check it out on my youtube channel:

So, why Tempeh Burgers? I have probably tried a hundred vegan burgers. To me, being vegan and helping my family stay vegan is the most important thing. They get cravings for hamburgers, and I want them to crave a veggie burger instead. But up until I made these tempeh burgers, nothing quite hit the spot and gave them the umami flavor they were craving.

Umami is basically the savory taste like we taste sweet and sour. We also taste savory. So, I make these burgers every once in a while to help them abate the cravings. Now I have a large family so this makes a lot of burgers. If you have a smaller family then, you can halve the recipe.

Tempeh Burgers


2 Packages of Tempeh
1 c. of bread crumbs (I make my own by toasting whole wheat bread and then crumbling them to bread crumbs in the vitamix)
2/3 c. vital wheat gluten (you can get this at your health food store or online at
2 tsp. fennel seed
2 tsp. rubbed sage
2 tsp. dried thyme
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. onion powder
2 TBSP. soy sauce
2TBSP. Steak Sauce (vegan variety such as A-1)
6-8 dashes of liquid smoke
4-6 TBSP water


1. Grate the tempeh (or chop into very small pieces). If you find the tempeh tastes bitter, you can steam it for 15 minutes before you grate it.

2. Add all the ingredients to the tempeh and mix together thoroughly. I use my hands to mix it until it gets to a squishy consistency that holds together.

3. Form into thin, palm sized burgers.

4. Spray the pan with a light coating of PAM or other cooking spray. I mean light. Cook on each side for about 5 minutes or until brown.

5. Pile on a bun with all the trimmings 🙂



Make your own cleaning supplies

Today I posted a video on my YouTube channel about making your own cleaning supplies. (See Below). Here are the recipes.

Recipe for Bronner’s Cleaning supply:

1/4 cup of Dr. Bronner’s Castille Soap

1 qt. of water (ish–just fill up your large spray bottle).

Vinegar Cleaning Supply

To make vinegar:

Get a gallon jug of Distilled White Vinegar
Add the peels of 5 large or 10 small oranges
Shake daily until the liquid gets an orange tint

To make cleaner:

Add about 1 cup of vinegar mixture
Fill spray bottle with water.

This is about 1 part vinegar to 3 parts water.


Post Thanksgiving Roundup (What we eat on a Vegan Thanksgiving)

Well happy holiday season! Thanksgiving was amazing, and now we are gearing up for Christmas (my personal favorite time of year). This year I am a little nervous for Christmas because we are going to Sante Fe. I will keep you updated on how that goes. But I wanted to share with you our Thanksgiving menu.  First let me say that we did use some Earth Balance and some organic sugar in a few of these recipes. All together, I would say, I used about a 1/4 cup of Earth Balance and probably a cup of sugar. As you know if you have been reading my blog for any time, we don’t eat oil, salt, or sugar. However, there are a few Thanksgiving dishes, I just couldn’t imagine without it, so we eat it on those rare holiday occasions.

We also had Tofurkey for the first time ever. The little kids really wanted to try it. The reviews are mixed. I didn’t particularly like it. I could take it or leave it, but the kids really enjoyed it, and I guess that is what matters.


Treeline Cheeses/crackers
pickles, olives, carrots, celery
Butternut squash soup
Mashed Potatoes
Green beans with parsley, garlic, lemon
Cranberry sauce
Parsnips and Carrots
Pumpkin Pie

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We also had Martinelli’s sparkling apple juice and water. Overall, I felt like this was a really successful meal. Everything tasted great.  I am gearing up for Christmas now and that makes me a little more nervous. We are visiting my husband’s family, and they aren’t as used to the way we eat as my family is. So, it will be a big adventure while we are there.

I hope my next post is going to be a recipe post. I made some amazing peppermint bark. I thought I would start a holiday treats series next. Until then, check out my youtube channel at

Until next time, live, eat, and be well my friends.