Tag Archives: plant based

Losing the weight

Standard

Most people are struggling to lose weight. Probably because most of us are overweight, or if you are brave enough to look at a BMI chart, even obese. Unfortunately there is no magic pill, hidden button, genie granting wishes, no fast lane. Because we are a nation of instant gratification, we don’t really want to put in the hard work. The standard American diet isn’t healthy. You can try 100 different things, all proven, and yet nothing works. Or worse, you put in the hard work and either you don’t lose enough (or any) or the second you “cheat” it all comes back on carrying along some new friends.

You might look at me and think I haven’t had that struggle. You’d be wrong. I’m 5’4 (and no, I won’t prove that because I don’t want to be 5’3) and my weight has been everything from 100 pounds to 200 pounds.

20130819-102302.jpg

When I was in high school, I couldn’t have weighed more than 100 pounds, fully dressed, in shoes. I ate the typical spoiled brat diet of M&Ms and Doritos with a side of Pizza every weekend. I drank soda instead of water. My exercise was wondering around the mall, probably eating more junk along the stroll.

I wasn’t all bad. I remember now the walks I’d take before I got my driver’s license. I’d want to meet a friend, or go to a certain store, or whatever, and I’d walk miles to get where I wanted to go. If I couldn’t beg up a ride. Now I think about how I’d walk home from school, then turn around and walk back down the hill to meet my boyfriend (now, my husband) and we’d walk downtown and if we were lucky we would either have enough change to get the bus home or we would time it to meet my mom after she got off work for a ride home. There were many times I would “need” money and I’d make that trip downtown just to get to my mom, get cash from her then go off to the mall or movies, whatever. I’d walk far just for that $10. And yes, that dates me a little if ten bucks could last me all day and I’d come home full of junk food with a shopping bag of goodies.

Nowadays with a car, I don’t walk that much. Not for $10. Maybe if I ran out of gas, but I fill my tank up to avoid that exact situation. I’d love to say I’m a passionate runner, triathlete, cyclist, or a rock climber. The truth is I don’t really do much of any of those things.

So how did I lose the weight? My husband and I changed our ways. I was up to 200 pounds whenever I’d get hospitalized for my Crohn’s disease and put on steroids. My husband was up around 275 by eating a healthy diet of fast food and beer. When I wasn’t sick, my weight would sit around 160, maybe 150 if it was starving.

Most of my weight came off when I was sick but my husband wasn’t that (un)lucky. His loss was all hard work and dietary changes. But, I’ve kept it off and I’ll tell you how we have done this.

20130819-102310.jpg

I’d like to first say that not everything that works for one person can work for others. If you’ve been trying to lose weight then you already know this. It can be frustrating, especially when some skinny says, you should _____ as if you haven’t tried everything and are still waiting to hear back if your soul was sold to the biggest bidder.

My husband went vegan. After watching documentaries like, Hungry for Change, Engine 2, Forks over Knives, Food Inc and so on, we then read books. Books like, The China Study, Thrive, Finding Ultra, Fat Sugar Salt, Food Rules. There are tons out there. Read one and chances are they will reference a book in their book, then go read that one. It’s like a scavenger hunt.

All these resources plus online sources really establish a strong base for going vegan. Now, I’m too picky for that large of a jump. Since my husband says he is “plant based”, I’ll steal that as well even though I do eat animal products. I am adding more and more healthy choices, which are starting to crowd out the less healthy.

My husband is completely vegan and limits any oil intake as well. He trains for things like the Leadman Epic 125 and other insane events. I’m not running 10k events or cycling 100 miles and I’m definitely not swimming more than a lap or two. If you can get into some zone and do all that, awesome, you’ll be losing weight like crazy. If you don’t have the time or drive for that (yet), welcome to the club.

How I have kept off the weight, is pretty easy, now. I switched so much stuff around that in the beginning it was a steep learning curve but now it’s actually easy.

Step 1
I watched, read and researched the diet I wanted. I use the word diet here meaning the foods I am going to eat….not necessarily the plan in which I wanted to lose weight.
For me, that meant local meats, dairy for a local family owned farm, fresh produce from organic and as close to me as possible, and very little packaged foods.

Step 2
I changed grocery stores. This slowed me down since I wasn’t sure where anything was. I paid attention to where items shipped from. How it was grown. How it was packaged. Instead of reading claims (fat-free, no sugar, gluten-free, etc) I looked for fresh and real. Having crohn’s this was a challenge and I’m still slipping occasionally and eating blah packaged something if I’m flaring too bad but it’s getting more rare.

Step 3
I buy local. Remember back, way back, maybe your parents but more than likely your grandparents use to talk about so & so’s store/farm/restaurant? They knew the owners and chose to support them. I do that now. If I am going to go to a restaurant, it’s going to be a small locally owned place where I feel my money is well spent. That means goodbye to all the fast food joints and even big box stores. I try to keep my money near me.

Step 4
I tried a bunch of new recipes. Since I was now cooking almost all vegan meals, this means you can now sample the foods throughout your cooking process. Since I’m picky, I got to try things raw, semi-cooked and then cooked. I found I actually do like more foods than I thought. By cooking more, I’m more invested in my meals. I eat slower and less often. If I want cookies, it takes a lot longer when you have to make them by scratch then back when I could just pop open a bag of them.

Step 5
I don’t count calories or fat grams or carbs or make sure I have enough protein. I just eat. If I want butter on my baked potato, I use real butter, and only a tiny it goes a long way when it’s the real deal. I only buy foods at the store that I need for my cooking and that way when I get snacky, all I have around to grab is fresh produce or whatever I’ve most recently cooked. I also don’t drink my calories. Drink water all day long. I drink nonstop. (That line makes me smile)

Step 6
I got out of the habit of shopping only once a week. By going whenever I need something, I no longer have a weeks worth of food to eat all at once on Monday. I also get smaller portions of things since I know I’m going back to the store in a day or two. It also allows me to meal plan day to day rather than guessing on Sunday what I will eat on Wednesday. If planning helps you, then by all means, schedule it out. But you may want to still only buy foods for a couple days in advance.

Step 7
I look at food as fuel. Usually people will say this and mean they eat kale all the time and while its not tasty, it’s fuel. Yuck. I mean, it’s expensive. When you go gas up your car, you expect high prices. You get the right kind of fuel for your car so it doesn’t break down later. So when my grocery bill is more than normal, I remind myself I am buying quality not quantity and its to fuel my body and my family. It also helps that I break my shopping up and only see smaller dollar amounts because I full weeks worth can top $200 pretty easy. Just remember to shop for what you want to be putting in you and not because its on sale or a bargain.

Step 8
I move more. I’m not in training. Once I lost weight, I actually did run a 5k but that was torture. I do try really hard to do more than I use to. I walk more, I climb more stairs, I play outside more and I just get up and go more. If you can fit in any exercise, you’ll be that much more healthy. You don’t have to set up something where you have to run 3 miles a day, or else. Just plan on doing something active everyday. One day, you can run, another day maybe you’ll swim or cycle. Just commit to a healthier lifestyle.

Step 9
Remind yourself why you are doing this. Are you losing weight? Getting healthier? Becoming more active? Just remember why you started. When it gets tough, remind yourself and get re-motivated. Re-watch the documentaries, go online and research foods. Become more involved with what you are eating and why.

Step 10
Give yourself a break. That doesn’t mean flop on the couch, although sometimes that is totally needed. Sleep really does aid in weight loss so nap if you can, but definitely go to sleep early. Just don’t beat yourself up. Maybe today you can’t run a mile without stopping (I can’t) but maybe tomorrow you can. As you eat real fresh foods, your body will start to level out. Your weight will drop and stay in a normal range. Once you stop eating processed crap that claims to be fat free, you’ll feel better and look better. Mostly though, be ok with yourself. I started wearing shorts again. I thought for sure, everyone would see the saggy skin, the stretch marks, the pale see through white skin…..no one looked. I started realizing that it was only when I compare myself to others that I worry what others think of me. When I stopped looking at others, I stopped thinking they were judging me. I wear my shorts. In fact, I now wear a bikini and it doesn’t even bother me that my body sags…..ok, that’s not true. It totally bothers me that I’m not tan and fair but it no longer stops me from wearing what is comfortable and doing whatever activity I want to do.

20130819-102318.jpg

Tying to lose weight is so difficult. While you can have support groups, friends struggling with you and goals, it’s really an individual sport. You need to do what works for you. If you focus on getting healthy, eating healthful foods, eating right, then your weight will fall into your goal zone. Add in the active lifestyle you want now. Don’t wait until you are thin to do what you love, do it now and focus on yourself and don’t judge others. They really aren’t judging you. If they are judging you, really they are comparing and judging themselves. So, don’t buy into their insecurities and make them your own.

Be healthy. I’ve found my gut is following my lead. I’m eating better therefore my flare ups are getting better. My weight is stable because I eat as well as I can without too many cheats. Cheating for me is eating dairy because my goal really is to be vegan.

Be happy. I know when you are overweight, it is hard to be anything but focused on the problem. Focus instead on the solution. The cure. Get healthy and your body will follow. You will have more energy and drive to do even more when you are using the right fuel.

Last, just keep going. Spend free time researching and watching documentaries or reading books. It’s really hard to sit down with a large diet soda, a bowl of chips and a dish of ice cream and watch a movie about food, health, diet, etc.

You really can do this. You are the real rockstar!

Advertisements

Spinach and Chickpea Curry

Standard

I read the book Promise to Keep by Jane Green. Besides being a great read, it also featured a vegan chef and included several recipes. From the book, I made a Spinach and Chickpea Coconut Curry for my vegan husband. He loved it, but then again it’s a big detour from the foods I typically make. It is rich in flavor and color. A little spicy, a little sweet. Plus, it has the ever-so-healthy Turmeric in it. Then factor in that it takes things you probably already have in your pantry/fridge and that takes less than an hour from start to table….Mass positives all the way around.
Making this definitely piqued my interest regarding Turmeric. Besides being a spice used to season foods, you can find it as a supplement. The health benefits of Turmeric (Curcumin) seem endless. From helping with inflammation (crohn’s?) to healthy heart, arthritis and joint health, cancer prevention and so on. I’ve also seen recipes where you add Turmeric to rice or applesauce. I might have to try these as a natural remedy to some of my crohns symptoms.
Without further ado, the recipe for

Spinach and Chickpea Coconut Curry.

1 can Chickpeas
1 can diced tomatoes (bonus points if organic)
2 medium potatoes, cubed and parboiled
3 cups torn spinach
5 cloves (approx 1/4t ground cloves)
1-1/2 t Turmeric
1-1/2 t Curry
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 can coconut milk

20130803-124832.jpg

First step I took was to cut up the potatoes into 1 inch cubes and parboil them. This is simply boiling them until they are just softening. When you pierce it with a fork, you should be able to feel the potato is slightly softened but still a little firm. Over-cooking these will result in mashed potatoes. By parboiling them, it reduced your cook time as well helps the potatoes retain their cubed form later. I let them boil about 8-10 minutes.

20130803-125141.jpg

Next you will add all the ingredients into a large skillet and combine. You will want to bring it to a boil then reduce the heat to a simmer.

20130803-125344.jpg

20130803-125427.jpg

Cover and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. The flavors will cook together and the dish, especially the potatoes will turn a rich gorgeous shade of yellow. About 5 minutes before it was done, I tossed in another cup of slightly torn spinach. The original 3 cups had cooked down so much that I liked the look of the golden potatoes, red tomatoes and bright green spinach. Plus, my husband isn’t a huge fan of cooked spinach so by adding in some at the end, those retained a bit of a crisp fresh touch.

20130803-125804.jpg

I served this over rice, allowing the broth of the Curry to flavor that as well. You can always add more spice if you’d like a more seasoned dish. You could add Rooster sauce if you wanted extra heat. If you aren’t vegan, you could add some yogurt or sour cream. I also served some pita/flatbread with it, only because I couldn’t find vegan naan.

20130803-130030.jpg

Enjoy! This recipe makes enough (with rice) to serve 6. Because it only gets better when all the spices can mingle longer, leftovers are awesome. After serving it as dinner, we kept some out as leftovers and tossed the remaining into the freezer for a quick meal later.

I hope you get a chance to try this recipe. I love reading and so it’s always fun when I come across a character I adore. With the recipes included in the book, I can pretend I’m a vegan chef too!

Have a healthful day!

Summertime Fun

Standard

Well, it’s been a long time since I blogged. I have been busy with summertime fun, dealing with my crohn’s and researching a vegan topic that has me reaching.

Summer is in full force with high temps and blazing sun. I use Kinesys sunscreen that I buy online. I actually first tried it in Hawaii at the Ironman comp, and loved it! It’s amazing because I am allergic to everything and burn within minutes, but with this, I spray it on and stay nice and white….day glow white. Ok, I wish I could tan. Even knowing that it isn’t healthy, blah blah blah. I am seriously Casper the ghost white. See my blue veins white. People put on sunglasses to look at me white. Oh well. Grab your sunscreen here: http://kinesys.com/

Now, the heat is proving to be a challenge for my Crohn’s. I have heard some people say it will cause them a flare up, but I hadn’t really experienced that in the past. Most summers, I spend my days inside, curled up in the AC. This year, I’m outside more. Hitting the public pool, going to the county fair, picking berries at the farm. Incredible summer so far! However, being in the heat has proven to be a real gut wrencher for me. I’ll be laying there, glowing, and all of a sudden it feels like I’m in an oven and my guts are freaking out. I’ll get all pukey feeling, gag a few times as I rush to the toilet….really bites. It’s happened enough that I know it isn’t something I am eating, it’s the heat. So, remember to drink lots of cool water, well, as much as your gut allows. Then drink it often. Grab some shade before you get sick. For me, that’s after about 30 minutes. Then I guess the only thing you can do is be excited that you are enjoying the sun for any chunk of time you can because even running off to the bathroom in public clutching your mouth and gut, is in many ways better than being in bed, or ick ick in the hospital.

Last, I’ve been reading and reading and pondering. I’m going to blog about all this research once I can wrap my head around it better. My husband has lost over 90 pounds after going plant-based (vegan). He is back doing triathlons and other fun things. I have lost over 50 pounds with a combo of Crohnie Crash and better eating. Despite the flares, I’m sticking to fresh fruits and veg as often as possible and staying away from processed food. So, lots of people have been asking us what we are doing. Usually I say they can skip a huge amount of time by just taking their food and flushing it down the toilet, but then they look at me funny because not everyone gets Crohn’s humor. My husband, Mr Vegan is pretty quiet about all the changes he made. Mostly he says he is eating better but then everyone wants examples to see if they can duplicate your hard work. As soon as he says plant-based, most ask “vegan!?!” Yes, vegan. Oh man, insert every common question, concern, debate, whatever right here. I thought Mr Vegan was quiet because he didn’t want to push his views onto others. Holy cow, I think he doesn’t want to have to spend time defending why he no longer eats crap fast food and yes, he is getting enough protein and yes, his doctor knows what he is doing and no, it’s not that radical. So, my research is going.

How do you explain your eating viewpoint without being preachy, yet kindly deflect their concerns, answer their questions and get out of the debate quickly without one side flipping over a table? That’s my homework. I’m reading The China Study. I’ve done some reading on proteins, essential amino acids, calcium, casein and so on. I’m hoping to gather up enough to basically write a somewhat short reply that would answer some of the questions my husband gets slapped with.

Ever feel like when people ask you exactly what you eat and how…..it’s almost like asking a woman exactly how did she get pregnant. I already get asked all sorts of things for my Crohn’s. My favorite would be the “have you tried…?” ones where sometimes they really do have advice I haven’t heard but usually it’s asking me if I have tried not eating gluten, or dairy, or whatever. I understand, I mean, people (like me!) are really curious. And not always in that nice way. I mean, sure ask what we have been doing, but then be supportive or go google your highest concerns. Don’t try to convert someone into going back to eating crap. I can guarantee we eat better now than before. I especially love people that will hound Mr Vegan only to then say that they don’t like vegans because they preach too much. Oy! Seriously? So…..off my high horse, stepping down so I can get out to that gorgeous sun, but I will be back. I’ll try to get a simple clean answer that will satisfy those that ask, are you sure that’s healthy?

Have a real good day!

What are they feeding us?

Standard

I read constantly. I will read any book that happens to get in my reach or happens upon my nook. I finish every book I read, no matter how bad it might be. I love to edit and research and learn. When I find a topic that interests me, I like to look at it from all angles before forming an opinion. Even after I have an opinion, I’ll change my mind if I learn more or differently. I am not without fault, sometimes I get it wrong. Very wrong.

I use to believe that I couldn’t make a difference. Now I am ashamed I might have passed that thought to my son. Each person does make a difference.

I use to think one didn’t matter. Such as, one more time won’t hurt; just one will be fine. Boy, was I wrong there too. One becomes two, two becomes a dozen, a dozen morphs into hundreds and if you allow yourself to just “one more” or into thinking one doesn’t matter….it does!

I use to say that it didn’t matter if I bought this or that because it was already made, already there. It’s not like my getting it made a difference. Like my dollar spent even counted.

I bought the name brand products. I loved junk food. I liked the ease of popping something into the microwave or grabbing “food” in a drive up for dinner. The speed dial of pizza delivery. The Standard American Diet…..sad.

Then I woke up. From a nightmare.

My health was horrible. My crohn’s was flaring like never before. I was dropping weight, taking meds, pleading with doctors to not hospitalize me.

My husband was overweight. He was worn out, grumpy, depressed. He slept with a CPAP. His days of Ironman Triathlons were done. His back hurt, his feet hurt.

My son was tired all the time. He didn’t want to do anything anymore. His energy level was dropping along with his spark. He munched on the crappy snacks I provided then chowed the crappy dinner I served.

We were all starving. Starving not just for REAL food but for life.

image

I took my love of reading and went crazy. I have read dozens of books about food and diet. We’ve made some huge changes — that have actually been easier than you’d think.

My crohn’s isn’t perfect but I don’t expect it to be. I push my limits with my new diet. I don’t just eat white processed foods. I am trying to expand my diet to a plant-based diet full of variety. I lost 50 pounds in the process.

My husband has dropped over 70 pounds (and not by pooping like me) by changing the way he sees food. He eats only plant-based meals. His diet is most easily defined as strict vegan. Zero animal products or by-products. He’s thin, fit, exercising comfortably. He’s running races, cycling, swimming, all in preparation for a triathlon at the end of the summer. I can describe him as an athlete again. He sleeps without the loud machine and looks 10 years younger and refreshed. His work has improved. He quality of life has dramatically improved. All he did was switch to an all plant diet. It is an amazing and formation. I wonder how I’ve changed? I know I have…..

His transformation has been so inspiring that my son and I are trying desperately to mimic him. We are just such picky finicky eaters that we can’t eat the variety my husband eats yet. YET. We are working on it. With my crohn’s, I do add in and try new foods a bit slower but I’m doing my best without pushing myself so far I flare. With that, I am encouraging my son to try new foods. He has been so great at trying, unfortunately, he hasn’t liked much he tries….still, baby steps.

After eliminating the junk food, stopping all the fast food and educating our whole family more, we are all improving in leaps and bounds. My son is active again. His skin looks terrific and his smile charming. His outlook is very positive. He is so supportive of the plant powered diet that I love listening to him explain the benefits to an adult. He’s very passionate about health and food and quality.

Let’s pause on that word. Quality. That word is what made me grab my iPad and start tapping away at this post. Quality.

What the hay is up with GMO and other “food” like crap we are buying, eating, and serving to those we love? We are not educated on what GMO is or does unless we go look for the imformation ourselves. My father was agreeing with me when we talked about how horrible it is. Then I realized, he thought companies had to inform us when they used GMO ingredients. Nope, not in America. He was floored. He is a very intelligent man. He watches the news, reads the paper, he is well-informed. So how did he miss that? How did I?

Until recently, I couldn’t have told you what GMO even stood for. Yet now after learning more, I still can’t explain to my son why these big ass companies feel the need to use these products. Beyond greed, it doesn’t make sense. Have you ever tried explaining something to a child? Where you can slide stuff by some adults, maybe sway the story, leave out parts you don’t agree with or don’t understand; you tell that same story to a kid and they’ll call you out. They question the simplest things and man, they want answers!

So, in my research (and its far from complete), I’ve learned that big companies will bury the facts so deep that you start to believe what they want you to believe. You can easily fall into the trap of believing that you need meat twice a day (gotta get that protein) or that milk, it does a body good. You might even feel comforted that good ole McDonald offers more healthful choices now. Maybe you don’t feel GMO is damaging us. Or maybe you don’t think that children are effected by all the hormones in meat and dairy. Perhaps you haven’t heard of BVO or care much about essential amino acids. Maybe you are still sipping that diet soda hoping to lose some weight. No worries, we’ve all been there. Sometimes, I don’t feel that far off from all that.

Baby steps! My researching is opening my eyes. I’m teaching my family. I’m choosing where I want to spend my dollar. I’m not accepting just “one more”. I am done ignoring the facts. I am done with the excuses. I am looking for answers in that straight forward nature frequently reserved for kids and old folks. I’m making changes that will benefit me, my family, my community, my world. Because, I do make a difference. My dollar counts. My vote counts. My life relies on me making the right decisions. My health is too precious for me to keep ignoring it all. Hopefully, I can inform others of what I know, what I learn through websites, publications, news stories and my beloved reading. I learn so much from those I follow on twitter. I truly feel it’s a give and take exchange of knowledge. I learn from you while sharing what I know.

Together, we really make a difference.
Really.

Real Good (Vegan) Chili Recipe

Standard

OK, I can honestly say, I’ve finally created the best chili recipe this picky family has ever seen!

I battle with Crohn’s, my son is so picky he makes me look adventurous (which I am not) and my husband eats an only plant-based diet (fancy wording for vegan). So finding, then adapting, a recipe for chili has been a goal of mine. After a few flops, I’ve done it! Here is how:

Shell’s KickAss Chili
serves 8

1 onion (sweet yellow is nice)
1 jalapeño
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
2t garlic
4 cans of beans (I prefer 3 black beans and 1 kidney bean)
15oz tomato sauce
2T chili powder
2t salt
2T pepper
1t Oregano
4 cups of liquid; this can be all water, I use 3 cups water, 1 cup vegetable broth
2T whole wheat flour

20130625-164556.jpg

Dice the onion, garlic, all peppers into small pieces. The smaller they are, the more they will disappear into the chili when cooking. (Great way to sneak it in without having to see it but can still benefit from the flavor).
In a large stew pot, sauté the onion and garlic with a touch of water until translucent. About 6 minutes. You can also use a bit of coconut oil if you want.
Add the jalapeño, green and red peppers and continue to cook on medium until all veggies are soft. Another 5-6 minutes.
Rinse the cans of beans thoroughly. The best you rinse, the less gassy they are later. (extremely important if you have Crohn’s or any digestive issues or, you know, a stinky spouse).
Combine all the beans in the pot with the softened veggies. I turn the heat down to low at this point so I don’t burn the beans.
Add in all the spices right on the beans. The chili powder is flexible. 1T is a nice mellow chili, where 3T is a bit spicier. You can also add a bit of cumin at this time (or chipotle) depending on the heat flavor you are seeking.
Add the can of tomato sauce (or purée) and mix well. Then add about 4 cups of liquid. I use mostly water with some veggie broth. Depending on how long you are going to let this simmer, you can adjust the water. If you have all afternoon to let it simmer, 4 cups is perfect. If you are going to rush this, then add much less.
At this point, I crank the heat to high. I make a super simple roux from 2T wheat flour with about 1/4 cup of warm water and mix until its a thick paste. Then I stir the roux into the chili to ensure the final product will be a nice thick hearty chili. Once it boils and bubbles, turn it down to low/simmer.
I cook mine all afternoon on an easy low simmer. I haven’t tried to speed cook this but it could be done. After about 45 minutes, it’s usually ready. I like to really slow cook it because the longer I cook, the more the veggies disappear!

Consider serving this with some delicious Mexican Rice. I modify a great recipe found here By not using any butter when warming the uncooked rice and instead either use coconut oil or just water you can make it vegan.

This chili freezes really well. It is ideal for making tacos and burritos. It’s great as an entree for either lunch or dinner. You could easily top this with tomato, avocado, salsa, whatever you might normally top your Mexican yummies with.

I really hope you can use this recipe to create your own masterpiece. I’d love to hear your take on chili. Even though I found this recipe to be Perfect, I’ll always be experimenting with additional changes.

Have a real good night!