You don’t have to be 100% Raw Vegan 100% of the time to be healthy.

Screen shot 2014-05-15 at 10.45.27 AMThe healthiest thing in the world, in my opinion, is to eat 100% Raw Vegan. Leaving out tofu, and any of the soy based fake meats or fake products. I’m not a fan of fake at all. If it’s not real, don’t eat it. I do not, however, think it’s neccessary to be 100% raw, 100% of the time.

The world is full of flavors, tastes, cultures, and foods that should be enjoyed (seriously, it’s a crime to skip on a well mixed Manhattan just because the cherries are canned marachinos.). So what I recommend is moderation and awareness. For example, what I do is to write on my calendar when I eat a meal that’s not 100% healthy. Then I wait a few days to eat unhealthy again. That way, I keep my unhealthy meals down to 1-2 times a week. Even those meals, though, I try to keep them as healthy as possible. Which means, I may eat a barbeque chicken sandwich, but I will use organic, hormone free, humanely raised meat, and I try to make the sauce myself. On the occasions when I am out with friends at a restaurant, or at a party where someone else cooks, I take it in stride. I make a point to limit the amount of times I eat out, but when I do, I enjoy myself and I eat what I want off the menu without guilt. I’ll die of something one day, that’s certain, and I am not missing out on beignets at Cafe Du Monde or a real frenchman’s creme brulee just because they may not be organic and contain some chemicals.

So I guess I’m a “mostly-vegan”? Vegan is healthiest, but food to me, is fabulous when you do it right. Excellent ingredients, cooked just right, and it’s amazing. I don’t see the point in missing out unless you have moral prohibitions against the eating of meat, in which case, by all means, be vegan all the time–you’ll be the healthiest one in the room! I have no such problems with eating meat. I have problems with the meat industry, and I limit my meat consumption for that reason, but we’ll discuss that later.

When raising children, at least with mine, I make sure 95% of what goes into his system is either vegan, organic, or unprocessed, and as often as possible, all three. To me, “unprocessed” does not mean “raw”. It’s ok to cook it. This way, when he goes to his grandmother’s house early one morning when I’m headed to a meeting, I can pack him breakfast and trust that the lunch he’ll eat at my moms (not always healthy), is going to be fine because his body is flooded with so much good stuff at other times in his life, that his own system will have no problems kicking out the bad stuff.

I reserve the right to change my mind as we go along this health journey, but to me realities exist like: If you go to France, you should at least try traditional French foods. I’m southern, so when you visit friends, we were raised to eat what we’re served in someone else’s home. (I do fudge this one, because there are some “never” foods I have, like soft drinks and fake cheese (Kraft, anyone?))

Basically, life’s too short to eat bad/fake food. It’s also too short to skip amazing meals just because they contain meat. I would love to hear your (nice and respectful) thoughts on this issue.
Jamie Oliver’s approach to things really resonates with me. You can check out his work here.

p.s. vacations are free days. Do what you like, then come back and do a 3-day juice fast. That approach is likely rough on your system but you know, you have to live.

I have a comment rule on my site, so keep that in mind as you reply. If you’re new and want to read up on it, you can check that out here.

A Moral Vegan Question: Fake Meats?

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I am not vegan, but I love animals, and I am not a fan of red meat, so when it comes to menu planning for my family, we often go with vegan meals. They are generally yummy, and typically high in fruits and veggies. (Always a mom-win.)

Lately, though, as I look for good vegan meals, finding ones that are unprocessed, chemical-free, and still substantial enough to satisfy the appetite of my husband’s man-sized appetite, are really difficult. It seems every third “vegan” meal plan is a replacement for a meat-based meal. They use all kinds of soy-based products, that make me uncomfortable because of GMOs, and because too much soy is bad for your thyroid, so while it’s great once in a while as a healthy alternative to dairy (and decent source of protein), soy is not something I want to establish as a staple in my diet by any means (and just personally, I avoid soy for the most part.)

This reality of “fake mac and cheese” Or “fake cheeseburgers” led me to ask the question of why vegans chose soy based “Fake meats” as their animal saving alternative.

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I don’t like paleo.

So paleo and me, well we don’t mix. My last post on paleo and me, I shared that I was giving it a try for a week to try and see if that cured my husband’s “meat withdrawal” and subsequent “need” for barbeque. Ha.

It didn’t. Because what happened is that I ended up cooking meat for him, but not eating it myself. Even organic meat. I just didn’t like it. Preferentially speaking only, I did not like meat as much as I liked eating the fruit and vegetables. What have I done to myself? Apparently, I’ve shifted some because I used to be a barbeque girl myself.

I still eat fish. that is light, and salmon in particular contains great omega-3s, and as long as it is wild caught salmon, I feel good about eating it nutritionally. I still eat limited amounts of fish (read: once a week at most, and most times it’s like twice a month), because the mercury levels give me pause. I haven’t finished my research into mercury/fish/neurology so I will not pontificate here.

What I have arrived at is this: I really like the idea of eating mostly vegan, and like 90% raw vegan. It seems healthy, you fill your body with goodness, and just from a few 3-10 day “trials'” I’ve done of fully raw and/or juicing diets, you do increase your energy, decrease acne, and of course, lose weight. It’s a great way to treat yourself. Why is it, then that eating that way is so hard culturally? It’s like when I wake up in the morning and I’m tired, do not feel like fixing breakfast, why is it my brain tells me that getting dressed, getting in the car, and driving to Starbucks is “easier” than just peeling a banana? or cutting up that melon? I have a keurig for crying out loud. How hard is it to pop in a cup of tea? Not. Hard. So why is it that my brain wants fast food?

I’ve decided it is a chemical addiction. There are people who say that’s overblowing things, but I disagree. I think you really can be addicted to food. Specifically to bad food. I did get in the car this morning to go get Starbucks, my “easier” breakfast–BUT I didn’t get starbucks. No why? Because the whole way there I was telling myself “this is your brain playing tricks on you.” You want that food because you’ve given it to your body for so long it thinks that’s what it needs, but it isn’t what it needs. It needs that banana, that melon, that cup of hot tea with lemon. Your body needs to be healthy, and this chemical reaction compelling you to want something you know is bad for you is something you need to walk away from. So I did. It was SO LIBERATING.

Now I have not given up coffee. That one will be the last to go, I’m sure. But what my son and I had for breakfast this morning was organic granola with honey and honey dew melon chopped up. My son heartily ate two servings. He has actually started asking me about his food now with questions like “Is this good for my body?” Happy 🙂

He turned down something chocolate the other day because it was milk chocolate and processed, so he said “Mom, I can’t eat this, it’s not good for me.” So we ate dark chocolate (90% cacao), instead. With strawberries. I so named my moniker right on this blog when I called myself “Me&E”. He is my motivation, definitely, to remember why eating healthy matters.

 

 

 

Paleo and Me

This past week, in what amounted to a very illuminating conversation with my husband, I’ve discovered he is unhappy with the food in our house. Not that he dislikes eating healthy, just that apparently there isn’t enough of it. He has switched from eating 2-3 big meals a day, to now eating 5-6 small meals a day. That’s healthier, so yay for that, but what it means for a man sized appetite is that he needs more food than the fruit and salad combinations I pull together for myself. Specifically, states the man, “I have no problem being a carnivore. Kill the beast. I will eat it.” Well. What do you do with that?

He has no problem with my aversion to meat, and is incredibly supportive, but that’s not the lifestyle choice he wants for himself. I support that. I respect that. So I’m trying to make it work here. What does that mean for our son? Well it means he eats vegan for two meals, and gets to have meat with Daddy at dinner. 🙂 That’s called compromise for all you single ladies out there. Any meat Elliot eats will be certified organic, hormone/preservative free, and absolutely no mercury laden fish…as you can likely tell–this should be fun.

The realization of my husband’s supportive, but miserable, situation has prompted me to look for a better way. For me, it’s hard to fix food for him that I am not also going to eat, because food is a huge temptation for me, and as you know, I’m trying to lose weight. So I try not to bring anything into the house that would cause me to get “off the diet.” That’s proven difficult, because eating as many fruits and vegetables as I throw at this house and both my husband and my son are revolting. Meaning, they are turning against the plan. Vegans they are not.

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I accept this challenge, but I refuse to sacrifice their health, particularly that of our son. I assume if my husband wants to go out for pizza, he’s a grown man and he gets to do what he wants. My son, though, is subject to my nutritional guidance, so my new plan is to look into Paleo Diet. Why? Well, because my friend Diana has lost close to 40 lbs in a couple of months following this plan, and when you read about it, it’s very health conscious (Which, as you know, is my main priority and not really veganism. What attracted me to vegan recipes was the focus on health.)

I, still, am not a fan of meat. I still believe the SAD (Standard American Diet) Is worthy of this dismal monicker because it’s so heavily weighted (no pun intended) in the meat category. I want to, at minimum, limit meat consumption to once a day, and for me personally, I may opt out altogether.  Even when fixing for the apparently carnivorous family, only one meal will be meat based (excluding eggs).

What I like about the paleo diet (from what I’ve read) is that it is healthy, supporters are conscious of their food and how it impacts the body, but it is real. Meaning my husband won’t starve or pine for pizza… Hopefully.

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I’m also very intrigued by the same tenants that attracted me to raw vegan lifestyle, in that it is a lifestyle. It’s a focus on being healthy, not particularly on being light weight. I want to lose some pounds, because that’s healthiest for me, but I want something doable, that focuses on being a healthy person, not a chair rail.

How many of you guys have tried paleo? What do you think?

I’m still not into CrossFIt, though I should never say never because my friend has been bugging me to get into it. I have no need to be a he-woman. Everything I see about CrossFit is all brawn and muscle-y. I’d rather be a ballerina, thank you. Though, have you seen a ballerina? She can knock you out with some muscles. Anyway. Just as long as I don’t end up giving Arnold Schwarzenegger a run for his money, we’re ok. Right? I wonder if he crossfits?

Raw Vegan Pumpkin Pie Recipe

I used Fully Raw Kristina’s inspiration, but I added some of my own ideas. But really, with so few ingredients, it’s not really “creative” It’s just easy and YUM!

1./2  can of raw pumpkin pie filling (Kristina uses an actual, raw pumpkin. I haven’t tried that way yet. Bravery comes in steps.)

walnuts (Kristina uses pecans…maybe this is my own recipe.)

Dates (whole, pitted medjool dates) I bought mine in boxes, and this will take about 2 boxes.

cinnamon

ginger

nutmeg

Almond milk. (optional).

I am not putting portions on the spices, because my son was helping me make this and we just put “a few shakes” from the container. So. Spices: To taste.

Get out your pie pan. I used a ceramic pie pan and I did not need to oil it first. If you are using a metal one, you might want to oil it to make sure it comes out ok, but mine was fine–NO sticking. and I didn’t use any kind of butter or oil.

Use a blender (food processor is better, but I only have a bullet). and mix the dates with the walnuts. About a handful of each per bullet and it takes about 4 bullets. So probably only one round in your food processor. I am really adding food processor to my Christmas list.

TIP: If you are using a bullet blender, put the dates in by themselves first and get them “chopped” then add the walnuts afterwards. Otherwise the dates remain whole and only the nuts get chopped. Likely if you are using a food processor this is an issue you will not have. Again, see Christmas list. 

Once this is blended together until it looks like a pie crust consistency, pour it into the pie pan and mash it around until it forms a crust. The walnuts make it crunchy and crust like, the dates make it sweet and sticky enough to form into a crust.

For the filling:

put about three spoon fulls of pumpkin and a handful of dates per bullet cup. add in about two shakes of cinnamon, one shake of nutmeg, and half a shake of ginger. not much ginger. More cinnamon than nutmeg and adjust to your taste. I’m a nutmeg person, so I had more of that in mine.  Also my son helped, so we may have added way more than anyone wants. haha. We also aldded just a splash of almond milk to help the bullet blend everything together, it was having a hard time with the thick pumpkin. If you are using a blender, or something more high powered, you can consider the almond milk optional.

Tip: Do not use water. It will make it way too runny. and only use a pinch of almond milk. The milk does add a creamy flavor, which we enjoyed, but you can leave that out if you don’t like it, or don’t have it, and you will still have an amazing pie. 

Blend. Repeat. Blend until you fill the pie pan.

DONE!! you can eat it right then, OR you can freeze it. We froze ours for an hour, then ate it for dessert that night.

We re-froze the leftovers overnight, and then last night I took it down out of the freezer and let it thaw in the fridge overnight. In the morning, my son and I ate it for breakfast. 🙂 YUM!!

 

Enjoy!

Ok, so we ate all of our pie, and there are no pictures of mine. So I borrowed these pictures from a few of my favorite raw vegan blogs. The pictures really do represent what ours looked like–you know, before we ate it. I have linked all of the images to their respective blog pages, where  they have great pumpkin pie recipes, too, that you may want to try.

 

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ok, my bullet is really horrible at this job, so imagine this image but with large pieces of dates that never blended in well….remember you can click these images to see other recipes!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pie-crust

Taylor Alexis–she uses pecans, too. Apparently, that’s the theme. But I like walnuts! 🙂 You can use what you like, too 🙂 Get creative!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

frozen pie

I’m not actually sure how their pie is this firm (Maybe that’s where using fresh pumpkin is handy..) Mine was this firm when it was frozen…but to be that frozen it was also too cold to eat….don’t worry, though. Ours still looked like pie when it was thawed (in the fridge) and it was yummy.

 

Three awesome (& Easy!) vegan pasta dinners

I like eating vegan, but I must confess I’m not used to the extra work. Man, popping a meal in the microwave is just so dang easy. But I can’t get past all the processing, and can you be a germiphobe for cancer? What’s that even called?

Anyway, suffice to say I am sticking to the Rachel Ray of Vegan cooking and going 30 minute meals. 🙂 We’ll see if I make progress.

In case you’re in the mood for some fast and yummy vegan, here are three that I think are fantastic.

alfredo3

 

 

 

 

Fettucine with Cannellini Beans and Artichoke Heart Alfredo

 

 

 

 

 

 

soyrizopasta

 

 

 

 

 

Soyrizo Pasta Dinner

 

 

 

 

 

 

alfredo

 

 

 

Hurry Up ALfredo

 

 

 

You should know, my son is helping me post this right now (read that as climbing in the chair while I write)–and he sees this last Alfredo dish and exclaims “Yummy! I want some of that!” Yes, well, I suppose we know what we’re doing for dinner! 🙂

Vegan: Lifestyle or Menu Plan?

As you guys know, my husband and I are planning our second child. We’re Type-A like that, and yes, we think ahead. We have been “vegan” for about a week now (not long, I know, but we were dabbling before and this is our first week “taking the plunge full in”.  We’re liking it. We have more energy, sleep better, etc, but more on that later.

What I wanted to talk about today was that I am thinking that when I have my next child, I want to have a vegan pregnancy. Partly because I don’t want to eat differently as a pregnant person than I would otherwise and MOSTLY because I was a huge bohemoth with my first child (gained 100lbs!!) and I DO NOT, repeat WILL NOT, do that again. I am just now down to my pre-pregnancy weight, and I’d like to stay as close to that number as freaking possible (less would even be great as I wasn’t exactly ideal weight the first time, either). Vegan, all the way, (definitely while preggo).

VEgan Preggo SurvialRealizing that pregnancy involved a lot more nutrients than my every day life (a brand new person is delicate, you know), I checked out this book. And let me start by saying, this author is amazing. Her name is  Sayward Rehbal (I secretly think she named herself. perhaps her mom was just terribly insightful?) and she is so much fun. I already loved her blog, so when I found this book separately (amazon search, anyone?) And discovered it to be the same person, well of course I bought it.  I’ve read the first two chapters of her book. She’s entertaining, and one of the most real vegan’s I’ve “met”. The best part about her book is that she gives you the facts, without lecturing you, as so many vegan books can. She is fun, confident, super committed, but also super-knowledgable about her lifestyle choice. Which brings me to my question for this post.

Does vegan have to be a lifestyle choice?

For me, choosing vegan was about protecting my heart from cholesterol. It was about losing weight, eating clean, because I want my body to be the best it can be. I feel better eating vegan, I have more energy, I sleep better, and it’s a better way of eating for me. Perhaps my body has just been mistreated for years and it over-loves good food, I don’t know, but I did not choose vegan to save the animals. I like that part of it, of course, I love animals (and the more I learn about the meat industry I have strong opinions there I”ll have to share later, too) but I don’t really look into the details–like whether or not my vitamins are vegan. (The Vegan Pregnancy Survival Guide introduced me to this idea that you can take vegan prenatal vitamins). In her book she is very careful about finding non-animal sources for EVERYTHING. Clothing, vitamins, lotions, you name it, it’s a lifestyle choice for her start to finish. I find this level of commitment admirable, but I’m still on the fence about whether or not it is right for me. Changing from being a carnivore into an herbivore has been a tough (But fun!) week of my life, and right now, that hurdle is all I can handle. Once I get acclimated to eating vegan, making vegan dietary choices, and walking away from that cheeseburger I really, really, want–those hurdles, and I give myself 6 weeks to get to that point, then I can look at how vegan I want my lifestyle overall to be.

Can I still consider myself “vegan” even though I only eat vegan? Or is that term you have to adhere to religiously to use?