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GREEN SMOOTHIES AND JUICING: GOOD OR BAD?


Did I tell you I got a Vitamix and a juicer for Christmas this year? I’m sure I did because I was on cloud nine after I opened them and have used one, if not both, every single day since then.

vitamixAs soon as I got home from spending the day with my family I immediately set them up on the kitchen counter. It was late, I was tired, and I really wanted to go to bed. But all day long I got to watch everyone else in my family play with their presents while I just sat around and read recipes from my Vitamix and juicer cookbooks. I was dying to make something (or lots of things) but who busts out their blender or juicer at someone else’s house? Don’t worry, not me. However, when I go out of town I do take them with me (and sometimes I take my food processor too).

It took me a while to get all set up because I had to rearrange some things in the kitchen to make space, but I did it!

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Every single day since Christmas (which I guess is a whole month now) I have made either a juice of some kind or a green smoothie, sometimes both. Both of these things are really good for you in different ways.

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Smoothies

I love to make green smoothies for many reasons:

1. They taste good.

2. They include real fruits and veggies, so I’m getting lots of vitamins and fiber without having to eat a giant salad.

3. I can easily put lots of other “superfoods” in them.

I’ve read a few different articles over the last few months discussing whether or not green smoothies are really good for you. Some of the arguments against them are that it’s better for your body to actually chew your food (you digest it better) and that smoothies pack in a lot of sugar, and potentially a lot of calories as well. Yes, all of this can be true. However, I try to think about it like this: Eating all of the vegetables and fruit that I put in a smoothie may be better for me if I eat them individually rather than blending them all up, but how likely am I to have kale for breakfast? I’m still getting all the vitamins and the fiber this way, and by getting in some of my veggies at breakfast time I end up worrying less throughout the day about whether or not I’m eating enough veggies (which I never am). I also try to keep the sugar and excess calories down by not adding too much fruit and by using water as my mixing liquid. So far, smoothies = good! 

Smoothies also allow me to add in some other good stuff that I don’t know how I’d work into my diet otherwise (i.e. Chlorella, Spirulina, Maca, Hemp Protein, Ground Flax Seed). Are you wondering what the hell most of those things are? Yeah, I’m not surprised. Until a couple of months ago I didn’t know what most of those things were either. Let me help you out with that.

Chlorella – is made up of 65% protein and is actually the most easily absorbed form of protein. It contains essential fatty acids and tons of vitamins, minerals and enzymes. Chlorella also contains the elusive B12 which can be hard for vegetarians and vegans to come by! It’s got 19 amino acids, 10 of which your body can’t produce on it’s own, is alkaline in the body (helps battle fatigue and disease), is an antioxidant (cancels out the effects of free radicals in your body), is very easy to digest, and helps your body to recover faster from workouts as well as daily wear and tear. Chlorella is also a natural detoxifier and helps to reduce the stress on our bodies from environmental pollutants. It directly enhances the immune system on a cellular level, speeds cell regeneration, and slows signs of aging as it’s a single-celled organism capable of reproducing itself four times every 24 hours. Suggested daily dose: 1 teaspoon

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Spirulina – is high in protein and iron, and it contains 70% of your daily dose of B12! It also helps to cleanse and oxygenate the blood and it promotes the quick rejuvenation of our cells so you’re able to recover from workouts faster. Suggested daily dose: 1 tablespoon

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Maca – A root vegetable with medicinal qualities. Maca curtails the effects of stress by aiding in the regeneration of the adrendal glands, which are what produce your hormones. A prolonged hormonal imbalance can cause excess body fat to be stored and induce premature signs of aging. It lowers cortisol levels, which improves sleep quality, which in turn increases energy. Maca also supplies the body with what it needs to contruct serotonin, thereby reducing or eliminating sugar cravings and the vicious cycle they initiate. Be sure to choose the gelatinized powder form. Suggested daily dose: 1 teaspoon

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Ground Flaxseed – Really rich in lignans, which have also been shown to reduce the risk of cancer, and in omega-3s, which are in integral part in the metabolism of fat. It’s also rich in fiber and in potassium, which is an electrolyte responsible for smooth muscle contraction.  Ground flaxseed is not the same as flaxseed meal. Suggested daily dose: 1 tablespoon

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Hemp Protein – Alkaline forming, contains antioxidants and essential fats, as well as the very obvious protein. Hemp protein contains all 10 of the amino acids that your body cannot produce on it’s own, therefore making it a complete protein. Hemp foods are also natural anti-inflammatory foods. Since hemp protein is a raw protein the digestive strain placed on the body to absorb and utilize it is removed, thereby making it easier to digest than other protein powders. Suggested daily dose: 1 tablespoon

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These foods are often called “superfoods” because of how great they are for your body and I like to include them in my smoothies. They are certainly not necessary to enjoy a great green smoothie though! Some of them can be hard to find in the grocery store (spirulina and chlorella) and they can all be a little pricey, so I like to order them through iHerb.com. This site has sales periodically and you can order larger amounts so you run out less and spend less on packaging. If you use the code PWM620 then you also get $10 off your first order!

Yesterday I made a smoothie and I tracked exactly how much of everything I put in it so I could share it with you. I’m was out of bananas and hemp protein, which usually go in my smoothies, so I had to leave those out. Here’s what I did put in:

  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1 huge rainbow chard leaf with stem (seriously the size of 2 or 3 regular leaves)
  • 3 medium curly kale leaves with stems

(stop and blend this all up before adding everything else)

  • 1 and 3/4 cups frozen mixed berries
  • 1 tsp maca powder
  • 1 tsp chlorella powder
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seed
  • 1 tbsp spirulina
  • 1 packet stevia

(blend until smooth)

Smoothie

I weighed each item on my kitchen scale before adding it to my blender so that my calorie count would be exact.

Green Smoothie - without banana

Like I said, I usually put a banana in there too and then use only 1 cup of berries. Banana helps to make the smoothie a little creamier. Today’s smoothie with 1 medium banana (95 grams) and just 1 cup of berries (153 grams) came out to 311 calories total.

The hemp protein is something I only use when I’m running 5 days a week and training for a race because I’m not worried about my protein intake, even as a vegan. Without the protein powder this smoothie still had 16 grams of protein!!

You can also use whatever kind of fruit  or greens you want in the smoothie. I always use frozen fruit so that my smoothie is cold, but I like to mix it up with what I use (peaches, blueberries, mangoes  pineapple, strawberries, kale, spinach, swiss chard, rainbow chard, collard greens…). I’ve heard that you can also use half an avocado instead of the banana for creaminess but I haven’t actually tried this yet. Let me know if you do!

If you stick to something close to this recipe then your smoothie is going to come in around 250-300 calories of pure goodness! I try to have a green smoothie at least five days a week, usually as an on-the-go breakfast option or as a sweet afternoon pick me up.

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Juicing

I can’t decide which I love more: juicing or green smoothies. I love juicing because:

1.  I can easily put things in my juice that I wouldn’t be excited to put in my smoothie (sweet potato, broccoli, tomato, celery, parsnips, etc.)

2. Juicing allows me to get a wider variety of fruits and vegetables into my diet in a way that tastes good and is refreshing

3. Pure fruit and vegetable juice allows for a gentler digestive process and the nutrients are more quickly absorbed by your body

Some will argue that juicing isn’t as good for you because you’re removing all of the fiber from the fruits and vegetables, which is completely true. However, removing the fiber does not remove any of the nutrients. The other down side to juicing is that removing the fiber from the fruits and vegetables does not remove the calories so you have to remember that you’re still drinking your calories. Even so, I still make a fresh fruit and vegetable juice almost every single day. I just try to remember this is not a beverage to be enjoyed alongside a full meal! When I juice I usually make about 24 oz at a time (that’s how much my juicing container holds). Sometimes I’ll have the juice as breakfast alongside a piece of toast, or sometimes I’ll have a smoothie for breakfast, half of my juice as a morning snack, a regular lunch, and then the other half of my juice as my afternoon snack.

I also try to include more vegetables than fruits in my juice, or at least an even mix, as this helps to keep the calories and sugar content in check. If I’m going to make a mostly fruit juice then I try and drink it earlier in the day and have juices that are mainly vegetables later in the day.

Here’s what I had in my juice today:

  • 1 green apple, cut into quarters
  • 1 orange, cut into quarters and peeled
  • 4 medium carrots
  • 1 large stalk of celery
  • 2 beets, cut in half
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • about 3 cups of broccoli

Beet Juice Blend

The only thing to ignore from this nutrition facts chart is the fiber! Like I said earlier, with juicing you keep all the goodness of the fruits and vegetables but you loose the fiber. I always enjoy my juice over ice or after it’s been in the fridge for several hours because it tastes better cold! You should also stir your juice well before drinking it to ensure that it’s well mixed.

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So there you have it. I still feel that there are more benefits to drinking green smoothies and juicing than there are drawbacks. You just have to be careful and make sure that you’re being aware of your calorie intake, especially when juicing!

With that said, I still feel that it’s better for you to eat meals and snacks that are made up of primarily fruits and vegetables, regardless of whether or not your juicing and making smoothies. The more fruits and vegetables you include in your diet then the less room you have for other junk!

I am also submitting this post to Healthy Vegan Fridays and Raw Food Thursdays, so head over there and check out the other good stuff!

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GETTING MY BIKINI BODY


Most of you know that my wedding is coming up soon! Less than three months to go before the big day so I’ve been really busy with trying to get everything done. One thing that I was thinking about last week is what I’m going to look like in my dress. The bachelorette party is going to be the weekend before the wedding and I imagine we’re going to be spending a lot of time outside in the sun. My dress is strapless. I do not want bikini tan lines to be visible in my wedding photos and I bet my girlfriends don’t really want me hanging out topless the weekend before the big day. I had to come up with a solution.

Enter: Victoria’s Secret Clearance Swimsuits! I got online, found a swimsuit I like that was on sale for like $17 and ordered it.

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It arrived in the mail a couple of days ago and I put it on. In case you were wondering, I do not look like that model when I’m wearing it. Normally that doesn’t bother me. I know I’m a healthy weight for my height, I workout, I eat healthy, Ross tells me all the time that I’m sexy, my clothes fit well, blah blah blah. I’m generally pretty happy with how I look.

Except that in this swimsuit I wasn’t. It doesn’t look terrible but when I imagine myself in a swimsuit on my honeymoon I imagine me looking really fit. I want to be able to look back on these photos and say, “Wow! I was in really good shape and I look really healthy!” Ross and I aren’t taking a honeymoon right after the wedding for several reasons so my honeymoon pictures likely won’t come until December or so. However, I will be in a swimsuit the weekend before the wedding, and I bet we’ll take lots of pictures that weekend, and I bet I’ll still want to have that same feeling looking back on those pictures.

I know, I know. The model above has been airbrushed and her photo has been professionally touched up before being plastered on the website. I’m well aware of this. I’m not saying that I want to look like her in this swimsuit (though we all know that’s true). What I’m saying I want is to look like a better version of me. I want to tone up and lean out. I want to be able to see my hard work when I look in the mirror.

You’re all dying to know what I do actually look like in this swimsuit, huh? Well, you’re in luck. I took some bad quality photos in my bathroom with my iPhone so I could share them with you!

Before 01-24-2013I am going to go ahead and chalk it up to bad lighting as to why my belly is dominating in the first photo. You can see in the second photo that it is not quite as large as it appears in the first. You can also see that I am definitely a pear shape. I can only imagine how big my hips are going to be after I have kids…

I don’t think I look terrible in this swimsuit and I’m not unhappy with my body, I just know that I could look better. So that’s what I’m going to try to do. I’ve got about 2 months and 18 days before my bachelorette weekend so I’m going to challenge myself to actually try to get a nice bikini body. I’ve never done this before. Well, I’ve said that I’m going to try but I’ve never actually committed and stuck with it. This time I’ve got you guys to help keep my accountable so I’m hoping that will be the game changer. That and the fact that I’ll probably look back on my bachelorette weekend photos for many years, and show them to my kids. And everyone wants their kids to think their parents were good looking back when they were young, right?

I haven’t weighed myself since last Friday (I was supposed to this morning and forgot) but my weight then was around 142. I’ve gotten lazy again… oops. I’ll try to remember to weigh myself tomorrow so I can track my weight throughout this process, as well as take progress pictures along the way. I’ll probably update you on my workouts and my eating every week or so but only post update photos once a month so any changes will be more obvious.

Wish me luck!

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WHAT AM I RUNNING FOR?


I *think* I’m finally able to get back to running after taking a month off this winter. It was definitely unplanned time off (silly unnamed injury) and though I was able to get in a couple of runs in the middle it was certainly nothing worth bragging about.

Last Thursday was supposed to be my much anticipated come-back run but Thursday came and went and I did no running. I made excuses that sounded rather believable and vowed to go running on Friday. Well, that didn’t happen either. I had more mostly-legit excuses but I wanted to really think about why I was putting off getting back into running and I came up with a few different reasons.

The first reason is that I’ve gotten into the habit of being lazy after work and I like it. I come home, cook dinner, watch Say Yes to the Dress or Love It or List It, and I don’t give a second thought to my running shoes. Why? Because I’ve become a lazy girl. So sad. (Update on this reason – I just read MilePosts newest post and she has the same problem! When she takes a break from running to recover it’s often hard for her to get back in the swing of things and be motivated, even though she loves running! This made me feel so much better!).

The second reason I came up with is I was afraid I would start running, get all excited and remember that I LOVE running, and then my leg would start to hurt again and crush my dreams of getting back to a regular training schedule.

The third reason is also because I was scared. I was scared that my leg wouldn’t hurt, that I would get back to running on a regular basis and sticking to a training schedule, but that I have lost too much fitness to be ready for the next race I have my eye set on, only I wouldn’t realize it until it was too late. I know that I could mentally push through and finish a race, but I don’t want to hit a wall and be miserable for the last X-number of  miles.

Now I had a semi-good idea of what was keeping me from running but I knew I still needed to just get off my lazy ass and do it. I honestly did not have time to run on Saturday but Sunday I finally forced myself to lace up and go. And you know what? It wasn’t fantastic. But it wasn’t terrible, either. The weather was beautiful, but a little warmer than I’d gotten used to running in back in December. The first mile was really great but then it started to get harder. I was running the same route that I always run so it wasn’t that the route was difficult, and I was running at an 11:30 or so pace, so it’s not that I was going any faster as the run went on. I’m just not as fit as I used to be so three miles isn’t as easy as I remember. That was a very humbling moment, going from having run 16 miles and LOVING IT back in December to now having to push to get in three good miles.

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I really want this to be my real comeback so I decided to take Monday off and try to run again Tuesday. You know, ease my way into things, don’t to too much too soon, don’t shock my leg back into injury, etc. I’m really glad I decided to take Monday off because my legs were so sore! My normal route has a lot of hills in it because running hills on a regular basis makes you a better runner. However, running three miles of hills after doing practically nothing for a month was a real shock to my legs!

So on Tuesday I went back out for a run and I was really not excited to go. I kept thinking, “Why am I doing this?” I don’t have any races that I’ve got my eye on at the moment so getting back into running feels like something I’m supposed to be doing, not something that I want to do. I put on my shoes this time because I felt like I was supposed to, not because I wanted to. This got me thinking. Why am I running? Do I really love it? Am I doing it because I want people to think I’m a runner? Am I doing it so I stay fit? What is my reason for wanting to get back to running on a regular basis? I thought about this during most of my run but when I got home I still didn’t have an answer for myself.

I made myself a yummy dinner of sauteed mushrooms with a miso/tahini/ginger sauce that was AMAZING and turned on The Biggest Loser. I used to watch this show religiously for many years, but when they brought Anna Kournikova on I just couldn’t take it anymore. I got back into it this season because they brought Jillian back and because they’re also trying to combat childhood obesity. This week’s challenge was to run a 5k race and sitting at home, watching all the contestants run and seeing how proud of themselves they were when they finished brought a huge smile to my face!

Then Ms. Alison Sweeney (who I might have a slight girl crush on) said that there are The Biggest Loser RunWalks going on all over the country this spring. I immediately grabbed my iPad to look it up and saw that the one in Austin is happening THIS Saturday and I only had 4 more hours to register for the race. That’s all I needed to see – I was sold! Since I’ve only run 6 or so combined miles since being back to running so I decided that the 5k was probably the best option for me.

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Suddenly I’m super excited to be running again! I’m excited to see what my time will be with virtually no training (my last 5K was 25:36 so I’m hoping for 28-30 this time). I’m excited to be a part of The Biggest Loser RunWalk and to cheer on the people who are getting out of their comfort zones and challenging themselves. I’m excited to have a something to look forward to. I’m excited to feel like I’m part of the running community again. I’m excited to go for a run after work today! Apparently all it took for me to find my rediscover my motivation was to sign up for a race!

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HOW TO GO VEGAN


A few days ago I came across an article in the NY Times titled How to Go Vegan and it of course piqued my interest. My fiance is a personal trainer and all of his clients know that I follow a vegan diet, so one of them cut this article out of the newspaper and gave it to him to give to me. How freaking cute is that? Sometimes I just love people.

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Source

Reading this article inspired me to write my own guide on How to Go Vegan based on what worked for me and what feedback I’ve received from others who have attempted it, both successfully and unsuccessfully. This is just a guide on how to follow a vegan diet. Being completely vegan really goes much deeper than simply what you eat but that’s not what this blog is about.

So, here’s my advice for those who think they might be interested in giving this plant-based way of eating a try. I’m not sharing all of this information with you all to try and convince you to switch to a plant based diet, but rather to give you the resources to be able to do so pleasantly if that’s what you want to do.

1. Gather some information.

“What makes a food vegan?” It must be void of all animal products, including meat (beef, pork, poultry, fish, etc.), eggsdairy (milk, milk fat, butter, whey, casein, cream, cheese, etc.), and other animal products (beef or chicken stock/broth, gelatin, animal fat or lard, etc.).  Here is a good link for you to refer to for more details. You can also type in “Vegetarian Starter Kit” in an internet search and there are a handful of different companies that will mail you a vegetarian starter kit for free. These have great articles, lots of yummy recipes, and (beware) some graphic pictures as well.

2. Assess yourself. 

Are you the kind of person who can make a diet change like this cold turkey and once you set your mind to something then you really commit to it? If so, that’s awesome and that’s how you should go at this, like it’s one big challenge for you to tackle and there’s no other option but to succeed.

Or are you the kind of person who needs to ease their way into things so you don’t feel overwhelmed, get upset, and quit? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with you if you’re that kind of person (everyone is different) and that doesn’t mean that you’re going to fail at this if you try. Your approach should be to take this as a step by step program, two weeks at a time. You can structure it however you feel will be best for you, but it might be red meat and pork first, then two weeks later poultry and fish, then after that eggs. Once you’ve got that down then you tackle dairy. This one is honestly much harder than cutting out the meat because it seems like dairy is hiding everywhere! Did you know that some kettle cooked potato chips contain whey, which is a protein derived from milk?

Another thing that will make giving up dairy more difficult that meat is that cheese contains a hormone called casomorphin, which has the same opiate/addictive affect on your body as real morphine. That’s why so many people say, “I just love cheese too much to be vegan!” I’m not judging you for saying it – I said it too! Just remember that it’s not your fault you love cheese so much, and after a month without it I PROMISE you will not crave it anymore. Yes, it may sound good, but you will no longer feel the pull towards it that you once did.

Once you’ve gone two weeks without dairy, then work on the other things like gelatin, and honey if you wish.

3. Do not try to replace the meat and cheese.

If you think that the easiest way for you to cut meat and cheese out of your life is to run out and buy a cartload of alternative meat and cheese products then you’re going to end up really disappointed and unhappy with this way of eating. These products are not intended (at least in my opinion) to replace the meat and cheese in your life because, honestly, nothing can do that. There is no vegan meat or cheese product that taste just like the real thing, and that is especially true with cheese. There are some products, specifically those made my Gardein and Daiya, that do come really close. My omnivore fiance buys Gardein crispy chick’n filets on a regular basis and  says, “These are just as good as the real thing,” and he says the same thing about Soy Curls (which are a healthier option). Just because they’re just as good as doesn’t mean they taste or feel exactly like it. I think that sun butter (made from sunflower seeds) is just as good as peanut butter, but that’s not because it tastes like peanut butter.

My advice is to focus on eating other foods that are not meat- or cheese-like in any way for a while and then try some of these products if you really want to. I enjoy meat and cheese alternatives occasionally because they taste good (though most aren’t that good for you) and remind me of the original, but they do not taste just like it. If you do decide to buy these products be careful to read the ingredients because some things may be vegetarian but not vegan (i.e. they contain eggs, whey, casein, etc.). Note for you: Food For Lovers brand makes the best vegan queso. You can buy it at Whole Foods or, if you’re in Austin, order it at Guero’s.

Ice cream is a whole other story! There are dozens of different kinds of vegan ice creams and sorbets on the market and they are downright delicious. “How do they do it?” you ask. They just use soy, almond, coconut, or rice milk instead of cows milk. Everything else is the same!

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Sundae from Sweet Ritual vegan ice cream parlor in Austin, Texas

4. Make sure you’re eating enough! Don’t be afraid of food.

I know it can be overwhelming – you’re cutting a lot of things out of your diet and you’re not replacing them with faux versions, so what exactly should you be eating now? I’ve already written one blog post talking about what the hell we’re supposed to eat but I want to touch on it here too.  One thing that I commonly hear from people who have tried to switch to a vegan diet but didn’t stick with it is that they felt like they were really tired, didn’t have a lot of energy, or they were really hungry. This is not because there’s a flaw in plant-based eating, it’s because they weren’t eating enough of the right foods.

Some people think that vegan and vegetarians eat nothing but vegetables. That is completely not true! Vegetables are good for you and should be the main part of your diet but that is not all you should be eating, especially in the beginning because it’s just going to make it harder for you. Make sure that you’re including enough whole grains, beans, and potatoes in your diet. These are foods that are going to keep you feeling full longer than a salad will, and the carbohydrates provide you with energy so you don’t feel lethargic. Rice, quinoa, oatmeal, black beans, white potatoes, chickpeas, sweet potatoes, split peas, butternut squash, whole wheat pasta, pinto beans, barley, millet, lentils… You should be eating plenty of these things everyday!

When I was first starting out on a plant based diet I tried to divide my mental plate like this:

dress

This was helpful for me to make sure I was getting a balance in my foods. Vegetables are generally low in calories and really high in nutrients, so half of my meal (in terms of volume) being vegetables seemed good. Then I’d pick out a good grain for the meal, and then sometimes I’d pick a protein. The protein could be beans, lentils, tofu, or tempeh. Not every single meal I ate fit this bill (especially because there’s protein in everything), and this isn’t a formula for the only way to feel satisfied on a healthy vegan diet, it’s just a guideline. Please also note that healthy fats are an important part of your diet and that nuts/seeds contain healthy fat as well as protein, so they count as both! Avocados are also a good fat.

Once I became more comfortable with this way of eating it started to take less effort to plan my meals and figure out what I wanted to eat. Here’s what five days of vegan eating might look like (click to see a larger image):

Sample Vegan Menu

5. Be ready for the detox.

I have a few friends who have decided to give this vegan thing a try, just temporarily, to see how they like it. I almost always get the same kind of question from them: “My stomach hurts a lot now that I’m eating this way,” or,  “I’m pooping weird. Is this normal?” Yes. Well, sort of. It is incredibly common for people who make the switch to a plant based diet to be uncomfortable for the first two weeks or so. It’s not at all because this way of eating is bad for your body or because your body “needs” whatever foods it is that you’ve stopped eating. Actually, it’s the exact opposite. You’re body is in the process of detoxing from all the crap it’s used to digesting and this is often an unpleasant process. Think about when a drug addict stops doing their drug of choice – they generally get very sick and grumpy and their body does some weird stuff. If they indulge in the drug again these feelings and symptoms go away, but it’s not because their body needs that drug, it’s just because their body is addicted to it and it takes a while for the body to remember how to function properly without it. The same is true for people who are used to a diet heavy in animal products who are making a change. Just give your body some time (generally just two weeks) and you’ll feel better. Not just better than the tummy ache you’re having now, but better than you felt before you made the switch. Probably better than you’ve felt in a long time.

6. Progress, not perfection.

It’s almost guaranteed that you’re going to mess up at some point. You’ll be at a party eat something sprinkled with cheese without even thinking, or be at a wedding and enjoy a slice of cake, or put some non-vegan Baileys Irish Creme in your vegan hot chocolate at your Christmas party… Or maybe one morning you wake up and just really want some scrambled eggs. If this happens, it’s okay. It is not the end of the world, most people will not judge you for it, and it does not make you a failure. Making the switch to a plant-based diet is a big change in your life and it’s going to be hard. Most people do not expect you to be perfect all the time, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you slip up.

Please, please don’t think that you’ve screwed it up for good and decide that you might as well just call the whole thing off. Recognize what you did and why. If you feel bad about it, identify why you did it in the first place and try to figure out what you can do to avoid it in the future. If you don’t feel bad about it, still try to identify why it is that you don’t feel bad, so then you have a better understanding of your own reason for wanting to make the switch in the first place and why this slip-up isn’t a big deal.

Don’t be scared of the label “vegan” and feel like you have to live by someone else’s rules, or that this is an all or nothing game. This is your life and you’re in charge. If you do allow yourself some leeway there’s nothing wrong with that. And if you run into some people to take issue with you calling yourself a “vegan” and not adhering to all the principles of the lifestyle, apologize for inappropriately using the term to describe yourself and clarify that you follow a plant-based diet. I’ve not had this problem yet but I know it could happen.

7. Spend a lot of time on the internet.

There are a lot of free resources for vegans on the internet. There are countless blogs with great recipes, articles, advice, educational information, FAQs, etc. If you have questions, Google them! I found that the more I read about this way of eating and lifestyle, the easier it was for me to follow it. It made me feel like I was part of a community, reminded me that I wasn’t alone in doing this, and kept me encouraged and motivated.

Again, I’m not sharing all of this information with you all to try and convince you to switch to a plant based diet, but rather to give you the resources to be able to do so pleasantly if that’s what you want to do.

Of course if you have questions, want advice, need recipes, etc. you can always contact me and I will be more than happy to help you out! Leave me a comment here, email me at ChefChasity@myhealthychef.net or send me a personal message on Facebook. Here are some other great resources you might find helpful and/or enjoyable. Most of the movies and/or books I checked out from the library for free, but they’re also available on Netflix or of course you can purchase them.

MOVIES

FREE PROGRAMS

BLOGS

COOKBOOKS AND OTHER BOOKS

YOUTUBE VIDEOS

ARTICLES

I am also submitting this post to Healthy Vegan Fridays!

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A BLESSING IN DISGUISE


I am having a really hard time getting back into the swing of blogging on a regular basis. I’m not sure what the real reason is but I’m going to go ahead and chalk it up to the fact that it’s officially been 12 days since I’ve attempted any kind of running at all. I think my lack of running and sticking to a training schedule has me feeling as if I’m still on a vacation of sorts.

To back up a little for those who don’t have a good memory, about a week before Christmas I got a pain in my left calf/ankle area that I thought was just a tight muscle. I attempted to foam roll and massage it, hoping that would help, but that didn’t yield the results that I was hoping for. I took a few days off from running and iced it, tried to run again but it hurt, took a few more days off, tried to run again but it still hurt, and so on for over two weeks. Finally, a friend advised me that I just take a solid two weeks off from running to let whatever injury I have (most likely something having to do with a tendon) heal properly so I’m able to get back to running.

So it’s been 12 days so far and I’ve had a lot of different emotions about it over these 12 days. The first, of course, was disappointment. Disappointment that I wasn’t able to run (which I love). Disappointment that I wasn’t putting in the training miles like I was supposed to be. Disappointment that I wasn’t going to get to run the goals races that I had penciled in n my calendar. Disappointment that I wasn’t cross-training in the absence of my ability to run (because I don’t love it).

During the disappointment phase I spent a lot of time thinking about running. I even logged into RunKeeper and looked at my running stats for 2012.

Graph from RunKeeper

I was really surprised by what I saw on this little graph. I really didn’t bother to run AT ALL last January? Honestly, I don’t know if that’s true. RunKeeper only keeps track of my running when I’m outside. I’m too lazy to manually log any miles that I do on the treadmill so there’s a chance that I did run some that month, but I promise it was nothing to be proud of. It was around the middle of August this year when I really decided that I wanted to get serious about running again.

It was nice seeing this pretty graph but I also wanted to see concrete numbers as far as how many miles I’d run each month so I made an easy-to-read spreadsheet.

2012 Miles

Seeing these numbers made me realize that the first half of the year was seriously pathetic. I wish I could tell you that the reason I wasn’t logging the miles was because I was taking so many spin or body pump classes, but that would be a lie. I was simply sleeping in in the mornings and doing who knows what in the evenings. Oh, you know what?! That’s when I was really trying to make the My Healthy Chef personal chef business happen and I was spending a lot of time cooking, going to events to market myself, planning out menus for clients, etc. July is when I cooked for my last client and once I had more free time I realized I needed something constructive to fill it with. Hello running!

After several days had passed where I was feeling disappointed that I wasn’t running I realized I was starting to feel something else. Relief. Relief that I suddenly had more free time on my hands to relax a little. Relief that I didn’t have to think as hard about the food I was eating and whether the ratio of carbs to protein was close to being right. Relief that I wasn’t going to get burned out before my race arrived and want to quit. Relief that I had caught my injury early before it turned into something awful that would take lots of time and money to heal. Relief that this happened before I’d paid any entry fees for races and I didn’t have to cry over the lost money.

I am still sad that I haven’t been running lately but the extra free time in the evenings has seriously been great. I love the alone time that comes with running and all the reflecting that I get to do, but sometimes I just want to be alone with my couch. That may not be the most productive way to spend my time but it’s making me happy right now. And for those of you who don’t know me well, I really actually have a hard time just sitting still and watching TV. I’m usually up and down every 5 minutes doing something in the kitchen (it drives Ross a little crazy).

When I first had to put a halt to my running (on December 19th) I did gain a few pounds, which I completely expected to do. The holidays were upon us, I was suddenly doing much less physical activity than I was used to, and it also took a little while for me to adjust how much I was eating. Honestly, this still freaked me out a little. For a while I was really worried that after I run my spring marathon and I’m not logging as many miles I’m going to pack on some extra pounds before the wedding and my dress will be too tight. I am happy to report that I am no longer afraid!

Since the new year has started I have lost those couple of pounds that I put on and I’m feeling some more relief from this injury – relief that I know I can maintain my weight at a lower activity level without feeling like I”m depriving myself. I told you all that I’m doing the 28-day Challenge through Whole Foods and focusing on cleaning up my diet and I’m honestly loving it. I am eating way more vegetables than I used to, I’m drinking a green smoothie at least five times a week and at least one fresh fruit/vegetable juice each day, and I feel really good!

Everything that I’m eating taste great (with the exception of two juices I’ve made containing radishes), I’m having fun cooking, and I really don’t feel like I’m restricting myself. I can’t believe that I’m saying this but I’m actually glad that I’m not focused on running right now because it’s allowing me the time to focus on my diet and build some more healthy habits that I should be able to easily keep up once I’m able to run again.

With all of that said, I am still so freaking excited to lace up my running shoes again this Thursday and see if I’m finally able to run pain free! I want so badly to be able to get back on track with training and complete the Dallas marathon in March. Otherwise I think I’m going to have to wait for a fall marathon which means doing the brunt of my training in the summer. I HATE running in the heat. I’m a wimp, it’s really not that safe, and I’m a wimp. So, wish my luck for Thursday and I’ll be sure to check back in and let you know how it went!

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WEDDING: DECORATIONS AND BRIDESMAID DRESS SHOPPING


Wedding planning has really been kicked up a notch and I couldn’t be more excited!

This past weekend my 3 of my 5 bridesmaids came over to help me with some of the DIY decorations and we had a blast! We also got a lot more accomplished than I thought we would in just four hours. We’re planning on meeting again two weeks from now and I think we’re going to have to stick with meeting every two weeks between now and the wedding to make sure we get everything accomplished. I’m okay with that though because I really like these girls!

Here are some snipets from our weekend:

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The picture above was my inspiration. I knew I wanted flower poms but I was having a hard time finding ones that I liked. Luckily Lynn, Alex, and Hannah were happy to help make these come to life!

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Three down, 17 more to go! We had an assembly line going to make the flower poms and it was really efficient. I took a few breaks to get this banner made and I love it! It’s still hanging on the wall on our dining room as I type this. I’m sure I’ll take it down at some point before the wedding.

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This is Alex! She and I have been friends since our sophomore year of high school and we don’t get to hang out nearly enough. She’s the reason that Ross and I are together (her older brother is Ross’s best friend).

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Last night was the first time since I’ve been engaged that I was able to get all five of my bridesmaids together at once! I hope it happens again before the wedding! : )

I’m sure you can tell that purple is the main color for the wedding, so I want my bridesmaids to have purple dresses. When I first started wedding planning I was inspired by this picture (which I found on Pinterest, of course:

different dresses

I love that these are not typical bridesmaid dresses, they don’t all match, and the girls can actually wear these dresses again if they want. All brides promise their girls, “And you can wear it again!” but who ever does? Not me. I want my girls to pick their own dresses as long as I approve the shade of purple, and they can buy them anywhere they want. So last night we all got together to try and hunt down some dresses. We went to Francesca’s, Blue Elephant, Strut, Buffalo Exchange, and Plato’s Closet.

We didn’t have a lot of luck finding purple dresses that were suitable, but Hannah and I did find some other great pieces!

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Even though this dress is completely ridiculous and I only tried it on as a joke, I actually ended up buying it at Buffalo Exchange for $19! You’ll be seeing more of it come April.

While we were at another store Lynn said it would be cool for us all to have purple sunglasses to wear the day of the wedding. Well, lo and behold I found some purple sunglasses while we were at Plato’s Closet for $6 each!

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In the end we decided to go with the glasses with the stars. They only had 4 pair at that location so I’m hoping that we’re able to find two more before the wedding, other wise we’ll have to mix and match.

We didn’t successfully come away with purple dresses for my girls but we’re going to keep looking. We’re going to hit up So La, Emeralds, Papaya, Forever 21, H&M, Charming Charliee, and maybe some other places too. I want these dresses to be affordable! I’m not entirely convinced that we’re going to find five purple dresses so I decided to look at our options on line. Lynn got married two years ago in a small backyard ceremony at her parents house and ordered her wedding dress from Etsy. It was custom made to fit her and she loved it. So, I got on Etsy to see what I could find. (click on the pictures to be taken to the seller’s page if you’re interested!)

Etsy1 AtelierSignature3

Etsy1 AtelierSignature 2

Etsy1 AtelierSignature

Etsy1 AtelierSignature3

Etsy2 Ananya

Etsy2 Ananya2

Etsy3 patriciavalery2

Etsy3 patriciavalery3

Etsy3 patriciavalery5

Etsy4 Bingbridal

Etsy4 Bingbridal3

Etsy4 Bingbridal4

Etsy5 VanelDesign

Etsy6 DressbLee

Etsy6 DressbLee2

I showed these dresses to my girls and they loved them! I’ll be sure to update you on whether or not we find the dresses in town or buy them online!

I’m also in the process of writing our ceremony and vows, but I won’t share those with you until after the wedding.

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CHANGING MY GOALS… AGAIN


Alright, so maybe I should have waited until I’d completed more than one pain-free run before I started penciling new race dates on my calendar. Then maybe I wouldn’t have been so disappointed when I was running yesterday and my leg started hurting at mile 1.25. The day before I made it 3.55 miles without any pain at all and I had enormously high hopes for the rest of the week/weekend because of it. All hopes have been dashed. F-you mysteriously leg pain.

Ross and I agree that I should take a few MORE days off from running, but this time I’m not going to sit on my lazy ass feeling sorry for myself. I’m actually going to go to the gym and get in some non-running cardio in an attempt to not lose any more fitness before I’m back pounding the pavement. I’ve already accepted that it’s not the end of the world if I don’t run the Austin Marathon in February. It’s also not the end of the world if I don’t run the Rock-n-Roll Marathon in Dallas in March. I don’t have any upcoming races that I’ve paid entry fees for and have to miss, so for that I should be grateful. I have a full 12 months ahead of me to achieve the goal of “Run a Marathon” in 2013 so I don’t need to stress so much about it now.

In the mean time I am going to focus on my diet and making sure that I’m working towards goal #6 on my list. This goal was originally stated as “Get down to my ‘racing weight’ – 125lbs (i.e. clean up my diet).” However, since I’ve set this goal I’ve realized that I don’t really care about it, at least not the way that it’s written.

I started reading the book Racing Weight and even though I haven’t finished it yet I’m pretty sure I don’t care about getting down to my “racing weight.” I am not an elite athlete, I do not want to start counting calories again, I do not want to attempt to track my fitness and my weight and interpret the correlation between them, and I do not want to monitor the ratio of carbs, fat, and protein in my diet. What I do want to do is get leaner and eat healthier. Therefore I’m amending my Goals for 2013 and #6 is now simply, “Clean up my diet.”

Specifically, what I want to do is stop cheating on being vegan (just because I got non-vegan candy as a Christmas present does not mean that I have to eat it), further eliminate processed foods/refined sugar from my diet and gorge on them less in social settings, and eat more vegetables. I think that all three of these are reasonable and that I can really benefit from them, so hopefully I stick with it! Today is Day 2 of the 28-Day Challenge through Whole Foods and I’m off to a good start so far! Yesterday I had leftover chili for lunch and made a great vegetable soup for dinner.

Sometimes I have a love-hate relationship with vegetables, as in I love them but I forget that and think that I hate them. I found this great recipe for vegetable soup a few days ago and decided to make it last night. As I was cooking it I thought to myself, “Wow. This is A LOT of vegetables in one pot. Nothing but vegetables. I bet it’s going to taste like crap and I’m going to have to force myself to eat it.”

I am happy to report that was definitely not the case. I actually really liked the soup and am looking forward to having it for dinner again tonight. It’s super easy, fast, healthy, and tasty. What more could you want from a soup recipe? So, here it is.

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Pure Veggie Soup – serves 6

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 leek, light green and white part chopped
  • 3 large roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1/2 bag frozen kale (or 6 fresh leaves, chopped)
  • 6 cups of water
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, rubbed between your fingers
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Ume vinegar (this is really important. If you don’t have some, go buy it!)

1. In a large pot (I used a Dutch oven) saute onions, garlic, carrots, celery, and leek over medium heat for about 7 minutes.

2. Add the tomatoes, zucchini, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper and cook for another 5 minutes.

3. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.

4. Add the kale and cook for another 5 minutes.

5. Add the Ume vinegar, stir to incorporate, and serve.

When I make a soup I consider two full ladles worth to be a serving because that’s what fills the bowls we have at home. Sticking with that, this soup makes 6 servings.

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Pure Veggie Soup

As you can see, this soup is super good for you but not a lot of calories. I ate mine with two E2 Crackers and about 1/3 cup homemade hummus (recipe here – used regular chickpeas, not sprouted), which was probably about 300 more calories.

Along with the healthy soups I’ve been making I have also been juicing like crazy! Danny and Lisa got me a juicer for Christmas and I’ve used it no less than twice every day since then! For breakfast this morning I had:

  • 2 large kale leaves
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1 frond of the fennel
  • 1 green pear
  • 1 green apple

It was so freaking good!

Right now I’m drinking:

  • 2 kale leaves
  • 1″ piece of ginger
  • 2 beets
  • 2 carrots
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 1 orange
  • 1 apple
  • juice from 1/2 a lemon (squeezed into the container before I started juicing to help against oxidation since I knew I wouldn’t be drinking it for a few hours)

and it is amazingly good as well! Another favorite of mine that’s super easy:

  • 2 full stalks of broccoli (crowns and stems)
  • 2 green pears

This one I was nervous about because who wants to drink broccoli juice? Apparently me because it’s delicious! I am so in love with juicing that I think everyone should go out and buy a juicer (and also watch Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead). The one I have is only $55 (buy it here) and it works great! Ok, that’s all the juice love I’ll share for now. I’ll be back with more next week! : )

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NEW BEGINNINGS


Today marks the start of two things I’m really excited about:

1. Day 1 of the 28-day Challenge through Whole Foods

2. Getting back to running and following a training program

Yesterday I sat down and calculated how much of my training I had really missed so far. In the past 12 days I was only supposed to have 3 scheduled off days from running. Instead I took 11 days off from running, amounting in a total of 67 missed miles. That’s not really good for marathon training.

I was really nervous when I set out for my run after work yesterday. I really didn’t want to get all bundled up to face the cold (it was 40 degrees when I left the house) just to get to the end of the block before my leg started to hurt. I was also really hopeful, thinking, “Today is going to be the day I can run again!” and I didn’t want to be disappointed (again).

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I ran three and a half miles completely pain free!!! It felt so amazing to be running again. It was seriously f*ing cold out there but I didn’t even care. I’m going to head out again today for 5 miles and hope that I feel just as good as I did yesterday. I’m also going to sit down today and rework my training schedule to accommodate a new racing plan. Expect a post with those details soon.

The other thing I’m excited about today is the start of the 28-day Challenge through Whole Foods. I talked about this challenge in my last post and today is the official start day. I am seriously ready for this challenge because I’ve been eating junk food lately like it’s my job. Seriously. Ross’s mom gave us tons of junk food in our stockings and I made it my personal mission to eat as much of it before today as possible so it wouldn’t go to waste. For the past 5 days I really feel like I’ve been alternating drinking a super healthy juice or stuffing oreos in my face. My body isn’t really sure what message I’m trying to send right now.

To keep with the theme I had going, I decided to make a big pot of healthy chili last night while eating cookies to tide me over. I wanted to make something simple and fast, but delicious. I also didn’t want to have more than three bowls of leftover chili because I’ve got a lot of other recipes on my radar that I want to make. I wasn’t really pleased with any of the recipes that I found so I picked at a few of them and made my own.

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Quick and Healthy Chili – serves 4

  • 2-3 full-sized carrots, diced
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 bell pepper, diced (I used red)
  • 2 cans of beans (I used kidney and garbanzo)
  • 1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp chipotle powder (optional – makes it spicy!)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste (optional)
  • 2 tbsp + 1 cup of vegetable broth or water (I used water and 1 tsp powdered vegetable bullion)

1. Saute carrots, onion, and garlic in a large pot (I used a dutch oven) with 2 tbsp of vegetable broth over medium heat for about 7-8 minutes.

2. Add all the spices (and tomato paste if you’re using it) and continue to cook for another 2 minutes.

3. Dump in the tomatoes and beans with all their juices, add the cup of broth, and continue to cook (covered) for at least 30 minutes, reducing the heat to low after 10 minutes and stirring occasionally. The longer it cooks the more the flavor builds.

NOTE: I didn’t use the tomato paste because I hate opening a can of tomato paste and just using some of it. The rest just goes to waste! But I would honestly prefer the chili with it, so I might suck it up and use it next time. Also, I added about 1/3 tsp of chipotle powder to the chili and it made it really spicy! Spicier than I like, so I probably won’t use it again. I might add in a couple tsp of liquid smoke though and see how I like that!

Chili

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