Filed under: All Posts, Diet, Vegan | Tags: Food, health, Lacto vegetarianism, paleo, Paleolithic diet, Veganism, Weston A. Price Foundation, Whole30
From junior to senior year of college, I was president of the environmental club, and a majority of the members were attempting to save the animals one plate at a time. It’s amazing how our social circles and projected persona can impact the way we eat.
As omnivores, we have the ability to eat a wide array of foods, and with our ever improving cooking skills and ability to chemically and genetically morph foods, the list of possible meals continues to grow. It’s both a blessing and a curse, causing us to often turn to our knowledge, awareness, and philosophical beliefs, to dictate the “best” diet for humankind. We are but mere mortals, and often these notions are not always congruent with what nature has determined is ultimately best for our bodies.
I grew up eating a pretty normal American diet as a kid of a mom who was on a budget but also a gourmet. I ate Lucky Charms™ every once in a while. I was “normal”-ish, but it soon changed. I can still remember that turning moment when the media announced that Cheerios™ accidentally sprayed Durisban, (an insecticide banned in 2001 that kills insects by attacking the nervous system and has been linked to neurological effects, developmental disorders, and autoimmune disorders, on some of their grain silos) and their customer service was not nearly efficient enough to satisfy my mother. I can still see my mother standing in the kitchen next to our rotary phone yelling at the lady when she was unable to tell my mother whether or not the bright, yellow Cheerios ™ box in her hand had been effected by this toxic pesticide. A General Mills™ product has never been knowingly permitted into the house since.
By the time my mission became to save the planet and to do it by fighting factory farming, I had eaten crunchy enough through my teens that vegetarianism seemed like pretty logical progression. I flip-flopped from veg to omnivore to vegan and back again.
Once I had graduated and moved home to my parents, I was vegan and doing my 200 hour Yoga Teacher training. The ethics portion of the yogic philosophy kept me going strong in my veganism as I began to delve into the topic of ahimsa, or non-harming. My flexibility was improving and I was losing weight. It all seemed perfect, until my joins became so sore that I found yoga to begin to become uncomfortable.
Luckily, my mother is a member of the Weston A. Price Foundation, a group that supports eating a diet based on that of our ancestors, including organ meats, lots of fat, raw dairy, and especially bones broth. Bone broth was the key to my rehabilitation. My joints ceased to ache; I had more energy, healthier skin, hair, nails, and even teeth.
It was challenging to mentally come back to eating a diet heavier in animal products, but I soon was beginning to understand, that we must first have ahimsa towards ourselves.
Stocks have been found throughout the cultures of the world for as long as humans have been cooking, and they come with a long list of health benefits from improving digestion, joint, and even thyroid health. When properly prepared, stocks are extremely nutritious containing gelatin, minerals from the bones, marrow, and vitamins from the vegetables in the form of electrolytes, which are absorbed by the body with ease. Interestingly, Dr. Francis Pottenger, found that stock supplies hydrophilic colloids to the diet, similar to those of raw fruits and vegetables. Unlike most other forms of cooked proteins, which repel liquids making them harder to digest, gelatin in broths actually attracts liquids even after it has been heated (Nourishing Traditions, Fallon 116).
Living in a society where people so often are seeking youthful skin, healthy joints, and cures to other ailments, stock is a great place to start. What better than cartilage, skin, and bones to support our own? That is exactly what stock does.
Our ancestors’ innate knowledge of healthy cooking is an invaluable resource, and I have yet to hear of any ancestors being vegan.
Now, about 3 years after the flip flopping (minus one last try at ovo-(raw)lacto vegetarianism), I most recently have begun to explore the world of the Paleo Diet, taking on the Whole30 challenge of eating no legumes, sugar or sugar supplements, grains, dairy or alcohol.
While the plan is a short term Paleo extreme as a means of resetting the body and not necessarily a sustainable, long-term diet, it really taught me even more about my body, especially the benefits of taking soy and sugar out of my diet completely.
As a vegan, I found myself avoiding soy, but it was impossible to avoid it when going out. If I went to Starbucks and wanted a latte, it had to be soy, eating the vegetarian options at restaurants, especially Asian, generally all had soy. And yes, I could have drank my coffee black, and I could have ordered my dishes sans soy, but when you are already having to say no to so many other things on the menu, sometimes you just want to be able to order a dish without special instructions.
Grains were another challenge. I’ve been mostly gluten-free for the past 3 years, but it’s not because I have Celiac, it’s because I just feel better, and the way that we process our wheat at this point on the food processing timeline, it just doesn’t leave nearly enough nutrition in it to make it worth the effort of chewing. Being able to eat meat makes eating gluten-free 90% easier than being a vegetarian. Restaurants and cookbooks are constantly padding their vegetarian dishes with noodles, rice, and bread. Going 100% grain-free for 30 days would have been impossible without meat, unless I had been eating mostly salads, and that’s just boring.
The biggest challenge of them all, was giving up sugar, and not just sugar, all sweeteners: stevia, maple syrup, honey, cane sugar, agave, all of it. It wasn’t the biggest challenge because I missed my chocolate (technically I was allowed to have 100% cacao), but because sugar is in absolutely everything!! Seriously, go out and try to find a sweetner-free package of bacon. Go on. Try. I’ll give you $50 if you can and don’t have to order it online. Sugar is in everything, and it makes complete sense. We are programmed to crave sugar, salt, and fat for survival, but now that we can get all the food we need from the farmer’s market, grocery store, or restaurant, we have to use our willpower (don’t you wish you could pick up some extra willpower at the market?) to say no to all of those sweet, salty, and fat filled foods. Unfortunately, giving up all forms of sugar (minus naturally occurring fructose in fruits) I also had to give up dairy to avoid lactose. God, I missed butter.
Along with the soy, grains, and sugars, there were also no additives or preservatives allowed. This meant cooking most of my meals myself. I was definitely very conscious and actively planning my meals, a skill I believe many of my fellow 20-somethings lack. It was a wonderful learning experience in cultivating self-discipline.
While there has been some divide between Paleo and Weston Price, I must say that I learned some invaluable things about my body from this Whole30 dietary reset. I lost about 10 lbs. eating this way (I was not significantly over-weight when I started the program), my skin looked great, I had less body odor, I had no menstrual cramps and my period duration was about 3 days shorter than usual, and I slept great. That being said of the amazing results, it took a lot of painstaking withdrawal to get there—a true testament to the addictive qualities of processed, sugar-laden foods.
Whether you choose to follow a Weston A. Price diet, Paleo diet, vegetarian, or even vegan, listen to your body. Don’t let the ego and dogma come between you and your health. Many of us have forgotten to really listen to our bodies. What does joint pain mean? What does a cramp mean? Are you really hungry or is it just dehydration? What does your poop say? Sometimes these questions make us uncomfortable, or we forget to ask them because ignorance is bliss. Everyone’s body is different and needs different things, but eating an organic, whole food based plan is the bottom line. Whether your food is Vegan or Paleo, if it’s processed, it’s still processed.
Filed under: All Posts, Diet | Tags: diet, Gluten-free diet, paleo, Whole30
I know we’re a few days past Day 30, but life came up, sickness, and blah blah blah. Sorry to keep you waiting, but here is the catch up!
The last few days were basically the countdown to me having to face my ability to keep up the diet and harness my self control (a very daunting task for a girl who loves to eat EVERYTHING!). The last few days felt routine in the eating world, but still full of some very yummy food.
BOYS READ ON WITH CAUTION:
I also want to take a moment to talk about some lady aspects of Whole30, namely, the period.
I know that many women suffer from cramps. Some have them a little, and some have them to the point where they have to call in sick to work and lay on the couch for a day or two. It is no fun, no matter what end of the spectrum you wind up on.
This was the first period that I have had in almost 15 years without cramps! I don’t know if it was because I hadn’t been eating soy (which is my first guess), sugar (my second) , or dairy (it just might be), but no matter what the reason was I am so thankful. It was also shorter. Perhaps a little bit heavier over the course of the fewer days, but I am by no means complaining.
I hope all you other Whole30 ladies had the same happy realization!
Here are a few food photos from the last 4 days:
Filed under: All Posts, Diet, Recipes | Tags: cooking, Food, gluten free, Gluten-free diet, paleo, Special Diets, Whole30
I am definitely beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and it’s slightly terrifying and also exciting.
Out of the five of us who started this Whole30 challenge only 3 of us are really still in the same game, and 3 out of 3 we are deciding to keep sticking with this plan. Maybe not so strictly worrying about every single ingredient in there so that eating out can actually happen without anxiety, but I think my grocery list will most likely reflect this grain-free, sugar-free, soy-free diet. That’s not to say that gluten-free oatmeal or quinoa for breakfast won’t happen in the colder months, or a bar of 70% dark chocolate (without soy lichen) may not make it into my shopping cart on occasion, and raw dairy will hopefully be coming back (assuming it still agrees with me), but I am definitely going to be a much more conscious and aware shopper and eater.
I’m getting a head of myself here… I just can’t stop thinking about how life may or may not change after the next 4 days…
Over the last 5 days, however, there has been a bunch of snacking, some pretty basic yet delicious meals, and some great hanging out with the people I love.
Filed under: Diet, Recipes | Tags: Cook, diet, Gumbo, okra, Sautéing, Soups and Stews, Stock (food), Whole30
There was one day I didn’t feel like eating at all. It was Day 18 and I was feeling like I was going to turn into an egg…
Mom and I went to Potomac Vegetable Farms and were looking through the veggies for some inspiration to cook and eat. Okra was a plenty, and even though we had already made okra cakes, somehow we turned to our little green friends again. This time making a Whole30 friendly gumbo.
We started off by cooking some italian sausage from a local farm. Next, we sautéed the rest of our ingredients in the big soup pot.
We pulled off any meat from the chicken backs for the gumbo and then added in our homemade chicken stock, and the rest of the ingredients; being sure to add the shrimp in last to make sure they didn’t over cook.
We also added a tiny bit of arrow root powder to thicken up the stock a bit. Be sure to keep stirring the arrow root when you add it in to make sure it doesn’t get lumpy!!
This really may have been the most amazing meal we made so far on the Whole30 challenge.
I’m sorry I cook with my eyeballs and my tongue, but if you have any questions let me know!! Give it a whirl!
Filed under: All Posts, Diet, Recipes | Tags: Eating, gluten free, health, Hormone, paleo, sleep, Weight loss, Whole30
A whole week has gone by and I feel like there is some news but not too much. Part of that may because I’m just in the groove now so somethings have just lost that sparkle.
I’ve been eating a lot of snack and left overs and just trying to keep up with calorie consumption while not getting bored and staying motivated. It’s hard to believe that 20 days have already gone by.
I feel like every time a new level of Whole30 has been reached by body back slides a little bit. I’m really trying hard not to over analyze and worry, but when food is your main concern 24/7, it’s hard not to. For instance, my skin was looking great, and then I’d break out, and then it’d look great, and then again, break out. It’s still in that hormonal balancing area of the face like I mentioned last time, so I’m not sure if hormones are truly balancing, or if I’m just getting ready to have my period. I used to break out in this region of the face when I was younger, but it hasn’t been so much lately. The same yo-yo feeling has been going on with the weight loss/feeling as though I look bloated factor. Again, maybe it’s just my period, and I have to say I’m excited to see what my period is like on this diet. (Look out boys! You know that post will be coming at some point!)
All of this most likely comes back to sleep. Sleep. The foundation of our lives. I’ve been trying to get back into the habit of getting up early, and, ideally, getting to bed in time to grab a solid 8 hours. The only dilemma is that I’ve been pushing hard for the 4:30am wake up call. I have a lot of work to do lately between yoga, blogging, going to work, and reading homework (both actual homework for work as well as friend imposed homework), so getting up almost 2 hours before the sun gives me so much more time and freedom to get stuff done. However, in order to get 8 hours of sleep that means 8:30pm bed time, (It’s like I’m 8 years old again) and often I’m not even home till 9 or 10pm… Still working the kinks out on that…
Here are a few glimpses of meals that happened this past week.
Filed under: All Posts, Diet, Recipes | Tags: Coconut milk, coconut oil, Curry, Fields of Athenry, Food, gluten free, okra, pancakes, Recipes, Sweet potato, Whole30
It’s so hard to believe a week has gone by! I feel like I’ve been doing this forever, and that’s a good thing! I’ve been super busy and house sitting, so here are the past 4 days wrapped up together:
Eating this way is truly starting to become so second nature. Sure there are still moments when I drool over the delicious smelling bread and pastries from Spring Mill Bread Co. that I get to slice and wrap all day at work, but I am feeling great, sleeping through the night, and loving all of the cooking and eating I’ve been doing.
All Day 8 I was taking a CPR/First Aid/AED certification class. We were stuck in this class room with no windows, and they were constantly turning down the lights so we could see the cheesy informational movies. Since I know I would be there for 8 hours, I brought lunch and lots of high protein snacks (no fruit since I know I have been out fruiting myself!).
The thing I was most amazed by was how much energy I had. Everyone there was going out to the vending machine during the breaks for their diet sodas and granola bars (isn’t it cute how so many people think that’s healthy?) and they all fell asleep! At some point during the class everyone fell asleep except for me! I was wired! I definitely contribute that to my high protein low carb/sugar intake. Stellar.
After the class I went to have dinner with my two best friends. They knew I was doing Whole30 so we planned to cook dinner. I snagged a bunch of produce from the “free to staff” (a.k.a. not pretty enough for people to purchase) bin and we wound up with a stir fry of onion, yellow peppers, zucchini, shiitake mushrooms, and chicken all sautéed in coconut oil and lime juice. Delish!
Day 9 was a Friday and it’s always my busiest day at that! I taught yoga in the morning after drinking coffee with coconut milk and oil for “breakfast” (not a very good one, I know).
Then, I headed to work where I was really bad and had bananas with cashew, almond, and coconut butter along with some more coffee. Oh, and an organic coconut water!
Once I stopped back at the apartment, though, I made myself some proper food with scrambled eggs with cherry tomatoes in coconut oil and a perfectly ripe avocado on top.
After teaching, I headed back to the house I was house sitting at and made myself an even more proper dinner and cooked fish for my very first time! It turned out beautifully. I seared a tuna filet medallion (as it appeared on the package) in coconut oil with salt and pepper, accompanied by green beans I blanched and then sautéed in coconut oil and a sun dried tomato paste. Once it was plated, I squeezed a fresh lemon over the whole thing. Yum!
Day 10 was Saturday and I woke up nice and early to go for a hike with my dear friend, Chloe. Before the hike I ate a Fields of Athenry sausage, coffee with coconut milk, and some fresh papaya with lime. I had plenty of energy for the hike, but I did feel slightly dehydrated so I snagged a smart water for some extra electrolytes.
Soon I was back at work and ate a bunch of nut butter again (I’m going to turn into a nut butter!) and some organic coconut water.
After work I headed back to the house and made myself some scrambled eggs in coconut oil with kimchi for some probiotics. It was delightfully light and filling all at the same time.
Day 11 I taught yoga in the morning, but ran out of time to have anything other than coffee with coconut milk and oil in it (I am starting to love this drink more than my usual coffee with whole milk!).
After yoga I headed back to my parents’ farm and was ravenous! I ate scrambled eggs with cherry tomatoes and a little bit of spinach.
I went out to Beans in the Belfry with my mom and grandma for a coffee. They both got cappuccinos and I was definitely jealous as I sipped by black coffee (cafes should definitely start having coconut milk as a non-dairy option!) and they noshed on a fresh fruit cup, which I avoided, but did steal a raspberry out of.
Once we got back to the farm again, I snacked on some olives, prosciutto, and sprouted almond butter.
Dinner was amazing! (Have I mentioned my mom cooks and does menu planning for a living?) We had steaks marinated in olive oil, garlic, and salt and pepper along with some Whole30-ified okra/jalapeño cakes, and tomato salad! Amaze-balls!
Mom adapted the Okra Cakes recipe from a fabulous cookbook titled, “Cooking With Les Dames d’Escoffier: At Home with the Women Who Shape the Way We Eat and Drink.”
Instead of using rice we used grated yellow squash, and instead of all purpose flour we used almond flour and a touch of arrow root.
Our Modified Whole30 Fresh Okra Cakes Recipe:
1/2 pound fresh okra, tips and stems removed, cut into 1/4-inch slices (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup sliced scallion
1/2 cup minced onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeño seeded and minced
1/2 cup grated, salted, and drained yellow squash
3 tablespoons almond flour
1 tablespoon arrow root
1 tablespoon cilantro
2 large eggs beaten
Sesame Oil for frying
Preheat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix ingredients in a large bowl. Heat sesame oil in skillet. Add 1-2 large spoonfuls to the skillet to create pancake of your optimal size (remember that smaller are easier to flip!). Once small bubbles begin to appear on the top and the bottom begins to brown flip your pancake. Once pancakes are browned place on cooling rack with paper towel and let it stay warm in the oven until ready to serve! Yum!
Day 12 has been a long day. Working customer service today was crazy busy. Busier than I think I have ever experienced first hand, and it didn’t help that I was hungry! Actually, more like hangry…
I had a big mug of the usual coffee with coconut milk and coconut oil as well as a big mug of beef stock for breakfast. It was a great start to the day, but when lunch time rolled around and I didn’t have time to eat and I started to get really hungry, it stunk.
I ate a bag of Gone Nuts! Rosemary Garlic Pistachios and Almonds , which totally hit the spot. I also grabbed a Cherry Pie Larabar which was great. I’d never had one before and really enjoyed the tartness to it, as opposed to the other ones which seem so heavy on the super sweet dates. Then I drank some greens with a Multi-Green GT Kombucha. A quick and easy snack-lunch that was just right.
When I got home I made pre-workout dinner. I picked up some dark meat ground turkey and cooked it with jalapeño and a bag of frozen bell peppers with a clove of garlic in coconut oil. Next thing I knew, I decided to veer away from my usual go-to tex-mex seasoning and give curry a whirl! I had a box of coconut cream that I knew would be great so I threw that in along with some curry powder, coriander, basil, and some unknown, unlabeled spice in my cupboard. Haha! I baked a sweet potato and poured that delicious turkey-curry concoction all over it and topped it with from dehydrated flaked coconut. Winner.
So, if you made it this far into reading this post, thanks. I know it’s been a long one, but it’s been four days with some pretty awesome food. Just goes to show that on the Whole30, or any other lifestyle changing diet, you can really focus on what you are gaining versus what you may be giving up. I am so excited to see what other recipes I come up with over the next 18 days!
Filed under: All Posts, Diet | Tags: Acne, diet, Face Mapping, Food, paleo, sugar, Sweet potato, Whole30
Last night was a late night, so this post is going to be quick before Day 8 gets rolling!
Yesterday felt great! Energy felt normal to better than normal, and I think that was thanks to the decent night of sleep. Although, it was interesting having nightmares about cheating on Whole30 and having to start over again! Haha! The only downside to Day 7 was that the detox breakout began.
If you have ever heard of Face Mapping or believe in such things, my break out has been in the hormonal fluctuation section. I feel like on the one hand my skin is looking better since I haven’t been having any sugar, but the lack of soy, and probably some other additives I didn’t even realize were effecting my hormones, I’m sure is what is making my hormones start to even out somehow. I’ve even notice my sex drive has been revving up, too.
I had training all day yesterday for my new position at work, so my quest to consume less sugar didn’t quite work out. The tables we were sitting at were filled with snacks and fruit. I had baby carrots in my bag, but I also ate a bunch of fruit throughout the meeting, along with some SeaSnax (they are strangely addictive!) and a bunch of coffee.
For lunch I had to maneuver through the Naked Lunch counter at MOMs Organic Market in Rockville, MD. I could eat any of the items on the menu because they were all vegan and containing some type of grain and legume, but I designed my own sweet potato. It was one of the most delicious sweet potatoes of my life!!!
The hardest part about putting this together at the lunch counter was reading through all of the different dressings and figuring out what type of sauce I could go with. The Mojito Pesto was just perfect!
After training I came home and made sure I got some more veggie intake for the day. I picked up some Rainbow Chard and cooked it in ghee with garlic, salt, and pepper (my go to seasonings). I made a big batch so I could have some left for Day 8 leftovers.
So my pre yoga snack was some chard, nut butter, and a giant glass of water.
My post-yoga snack was a bison burger cooked in coconut oil with a grainy dijon mustard and then I snack on kumquats, grapes, and pistachios later in the evening hanging out with friends.
I was actually tired last night when I went to bed, and I slept. Like a rock. I think I may finally be catching up on some zzzzzz’s. Yay!