Tag Archive | Vegan

The Unhealthy Vegan

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Hi, my name is Marcie and I am a vegan.  I have been eating this way…with no meats, eggs or dairy….for more than a year, but I still can’t seem to lose these pesky 20 pounds, and I feel tired all the time.  What’s up with that?  Take this morning, for example, I had almond milk on my bowl of frosted flakes, NOT cow’s milk!   I was feeling a little peckish by mid-morning, so I ate some low calorie BBQ flavored rice cakes and a diet coke, hardly any calories there.  Needless to say, I was starving by lunchtime, so I treated myself to McDonald’s, but in keeping with my vegan diet, I just had a large fries, and a diet coke.  I try to have a really healthy meal for dinner, so I’m preparing a salad (iceberg lettuce, tomato and Russian dressing), mashed potatoes….with margarine, not butter!….and some veggie nuggets which I found in the health food section of the supermarket.  This evening, I will be watching a movie with my boyfriend, so we will have some chips and salsa, with more diet coke, of course.  I love being a vegan, and I cannot for the life of me understand why people would put garbage like meat and dairy in their bodies!

What’s wrong with this picture?   I think it is pretty obvious that, for optimal health, Marcie needs to be more concerned with ADDING things to her diet, not just eliminating meats and dairy.  That’s why Susan and I, in our book 100 Perks of Having Cancer Plus 100 Health Tips for Surviving It, avoid using the term “vegan”.  It implies that if you don’t eat animal products, you are following a healthy diet.  As you can see from Marcie’s diet, this is not always the case.  We prefer the term “whole food plant based diet.”  That means choosing food as close to their natural source as possible: like fresh fruits and vegetables, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds.  So how many of Marcie’s foods would fit with OUR way of eating?   The almond milk is a good choice and just like cow’s milk, it contains 30% calcium!  The iceberg lettuce and tomato are okay, but as a caution, if you are choosing lettuce, the greener the better.  And while you are at it, don’t smother it in bottled dressings that are packed with fat, sugar and preservatives!  You can also count the potato as a whole, plant based food, but be careful with the added fat!   Aside from that, most of Marcie’s food choices came from a factory and/or have the nutritional value of a piece of cardboard.

Just for today, take note of how many of the things that you eat come from a factory, rather than right from the earth.   How can you add more of these health promoting and cancer fighting whole, plant-based foods to your daily routine?

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Week 2: Meatless Monday Challenge

Welcome to week 2 of the Meatless Monday Challenge, oh Fearless Ones!  We got some great feedback from last week’s menu, with my favorite comment about the healthy fries and gravy being, “I’d have these for a Friday cheat night!”  Thanks, Cheryl Loder, we are so glad you liked them.

This week, Susan and I have decided to offer you more options, so we have each prepared our own menu.  You can try either menu, mix and match the two, or just go to the links that we gave at the end of last week’s post for something entirely different. Click HERE for Susan’s menu.

Before I present the meal ideas for this week however, I would like to have a word with you about quinoa.

A Word About Quinoa:

I will admit: before I traded in my Diet Cokes and Doritos for a spinach salad and lemon water, quinoa was a foreign word to me.  But as soon as I decided to go healthy, quinoa advocates from around the world were coming out of the woodwork, suggesting great ways that I could cook this tiny super-seed.  “Cook it?”  I thought, “I can’t even pronounce it!”  (By the way, it’s pronounced “Keen-Wah”).  So I set out to vegucate  educate myself about this phenomenal powerhouse of a plant food!

Quinoa provides the full spectrum of nine essential amino acids, and therefore is one of the few plant based food which is considered a COMPLETE protein.  So, it’s a really great choice for people who don’t eat meat.  It is also rich in lysine, which promotes healthy tissue growth throughout the body, and it is a good source of iron, magnesium, vitamin E, potassium, and fiber.

So, if you have not yet tried this versatile food, pick yourself up a bag and give it a whirl (I buy mine pre-washed from Costco.)  You can serve it on the side, like rice or couscous, or make it part of a delicious recipe, as I have for this week’s dinner choice.

Breakfast: Berry Delicious Smoothie

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I start every morning the same way:  with a “Berry Delicious Smoothie”.  You can do any variation on this recipe, using different frozen fruits, berries and fruit juices.   Here is my favorite:

-1 cup frozen blueberry/blackberry/strawberry mix (potent cancer fighters!)

-1/2 cup cooked quinoa (this is optional, but will give your smoothie a boost of protein)

-1 cup cranberry juice (be careful of the sugar content!  I usually half my fruit juices with water, which cuts the sugar in half while giving me two juices for the price of one.)

-1/2 cup almond milk

-1 tablespoon ground flax seed OR soaked chia seeds

Throw all ingredients in a blender (or trusty Magic Bullet) and blend until smooth.

Mid-Morning Snack: Grilled Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich

As much as I love my smoothies, I find that by mid-morning, I need something a little more substantial to fill me up.  One of my faves is a grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich.  Here is how it’s made:

Take two slices of multi-grain bread.  Thinly spread margarine on the outside of the bread, and generously spread peanut butter (or almond butter) on the inside.  Chop a small peeled banana in half, then cut the two pieces lengthwise, to give you 4 pieces.  Lay these on the peanut butter side and press together.  Grill in a frying pan (preferably iron).   Guaranteed to banish the hunger pangs!

Lunch: Thin Crust Pizza

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This thin crust pizza is as easy to make as it is delightful to eat.  Here is what you need:

-Large whole wheat tortilla (this is the thin crust)

-1/4 cup chopped onion

-1/4 cup chopped green pepper

-1/4 cup chopped tomato, seeds removed

-1/2 cup chopped mushrooms

-a dash of Italian seasoning (or mix basil and oregano)

-1 tablespoon olive oil

-2 tablespoons pizza sauce

-2 tablespoons Nutritional yeast OR 1/4 cup grated parmesan if you eat dairy

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  In a frying pan, saute veggies in olive oil for 3 to 4 minutes, until tender.  Add a dash of Italian seasoning.

Spread pizza sauce over tortilla bread.   Add veggies.   Top with nutritional yeast OR parmesan.  Bake on pizza pan at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes.  Great with a leafy green salad on the side!  (Cheryl, this pizza is so good, you might want to save it for a cheat night!)

Dinner:  Cheesy Fiesta Mexican Casserole

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This casserole is so good that my cheese-loving daughter, Kaitlyn, could not believe that it contains NO cheese!  (Credit for this recipe goes to http://www.cookingquinoa.net/)

Ingredients

Olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

1 tomato, chopped

3 tablespoons whole wheat OR gluten free flour

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon paprika

¾ teaspoon ground cumin

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (a little more if you like it really HOT)

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast (yep, here it is again, the secret ingredient)

1 teaspoon sea salt

2 cups unsweetened almond milk OR milk of choice

3 cups cooked quinoa

1 15 ounce can black beans

Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   Grease a 9 inch casserole dish.

Cook Quinoa according to package directions and set aside.

Put 1 tablespoon olive oil in large skillet and heat to medium. Add onion, garlic, green pepper, and tomato and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until tender.

Meanwhile, put 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium saucepan. Add flour, chili powder, paprika, cumin, nutritional yeast and salt. Mix all ingredients together.  Add in milk and cook, stirring often with a whisk, until thick. (This is your “cheesy” sauce.)

Place quinoa and black beans in a large bowl. Add vegetable mixture and toss. Add “cheese” mixture and stir until well combined. Transfer to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle a little chili powder over the top.

Bake for 20 minutes. Garnish with fresh cilantro.  Serve with guacamole or salsa on the side.

 

Easy guacamole

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-peel and cube two avacados and place in a bowl (most quac uses mashed avacados, but I prefer them cubed)

-add the juice of ½ lime, freshly squeezed, a sprinkle of sea salt and pepper to taste

Mix in:

-1 small clove garlic, finely copped

-1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

So there you have it folks!  Delicious and nutritious.  Hint:  Left over “cheesy fiesta Mexican casserole” makes a great meatless tortilla filling for lunch the next day.

Chickballs!

I can hardly believe it is already day 18 of my 21 day vegan challenge!  So far it has been a piece of cake….ummm, I mean a piece of gluten free, egg free, dairy free cake….let’s just say it’s been a piece of bread (multi-grain bread).   But seriously, I have been enjoying some fabulous foods, with my new favorite being “wheatballs”.  They are so versatile!  I’ve had wheatballs in thai sauce with rice;  barbequed wheatballs ; and my fave, wheatballs and spaghetti!  Since Susan is the recipe lady, I will let her supply you with a healthy recipe for these little delights.   She has tweaked my recipe for wheatballs, and created her own version: chickballs!  (Leave it to the Savvy Sister…..if ever there was a chick with BALLS, it’s her!)

The most difficult thing I have encountered with living a vegan lifestyle is not about choosing new foods, it is about getting OTHER people to accept these choices.  I recently spoke at a Chicken Soup for the Soul Luncheon (while others had chicken soup, I enjoyed tomato soup for the vegan’s soul).

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Flo speaking at a Chicken Soup for the Soul fundraiser for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation.

A big part of my talk was about the difference between a positive attitude and a survivor’s attitude.   A positive attitude is a wonderful thing, and I credit it with being instrumental to my healing and recovery from cancer.  Even more important than a positive attitude however, is the survivor’s attitude which I continue to maintain.  A survivor’s attitude combines positive attitude, with positive ACTION!  As a cancer survivor, I am going to do everything in my power to continue to stay healthy and prevent a cancer reoccurrence.  If that means changing my diet, I WILL change my diet.  If that means exercising more, I WILL exercise more.  If that means giving up wine….well let’s not get carried away here.  Wine is vegan after all.

I would just like for people to accept my food choices and understand that I am not turning down your lasagna or cupcakes to be rude, or because I am picky.  I am doing it because I want to stay alive! If there are any stray cancer cells lurking in this body, I want to STARVE them by eating a plant based diet, not FEED them with animal fats and sugar.  So please don’t hate me because I’m a plant eater.

Susan, do you have any tips for us this week?  And can you please share your chickball recipe with our readers?

Savvy Sister

Way to go Flo!  The mind is a complex thing, isn’t it?  Food is not only sustenance; it’s also a centerpiece for social gatherings and offers emotional comfort.  Humans want to “belong” to a group and have a sense of conformity and sharing food means connecting.

But I wonder, Flo, if you were diabetic, and didn’t have dessert would people try to force  cherry cheesecake on you and shun you if you didn’t partake?  Eating a diet to avoid cancer is really the same thing.

We all make choices about our health and no one should feel “weird” because of them.  That’s why I try not to use the word “vegan” as stated before, and prefer the term “plant-based”.

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                        See? I told you vegan’s were buff. And look at the size of those feet!

One blogger even made up his own name for plant-based eaters: “Veganauts” , and his own definition  for the word. (That’s what you can do when you make up your own word.)

(Hit this link to learn more:  http://howilost150pounds.wordpress.com/2012/12/05/open-letter-of-invitation-to-ellen-degeneres/)

Here’s how he defines it:

ve-gan-aut /VEE-gun-ot/ (n.) 1. a person who is exploring the rewarding vegan lifestyle without actually meeting all of the vegan tenets all of the time.   2. someone who lives like a vegan but makes occasional allowances for transgressions without giving up the vegan lifestyle afterwards.  3. any omnivore who is experimenting with plant-based eating or vegan living. 4. a person who is sick and damn tired of defending their own personal brand of veganism and prefers to have a label nobody can argue with.  An example sentence: Sarah is a veganaut because even though she is almost always vegan, she wears leather shoes and eats cheese fondue once a month with her Mother-in-law and has some turkey on Thanksgiving.

Here are some tips when talking about your new plant-based diet.

1.  Don’t allow yourself to feel different.  You are the ray of light on a new horizon! You are a teacher of health! YOU are the cool one. …yeah you are! “No one can make you feel inferior without your permission” ~ Eleanor Roosevelt

2.  Don’t preach.  As tempting as it is, don’t lecture your dinner companions on the dangers of casein (milk protein), and how it’s linked to high rates of cancer.   And never start a sentence with “Did you know……?”  If people ask, keep it simple.  If they want to know more, they will contact you later.

3.  Don’t condemn. I have eaten with vegans at a table and I’ve wanted to slap the “icky faces” off them as they watch their carnivore friend chow down on a plate full of ribs.  Keep your reactions to yourself.  People have a right to choose what they put in their bodies.  If asked, keep it focused on why YOU are vegan not how THEY should be.

4. Realize that at some restaurants, you may be having a salad…again.  If going out to eat with friends, check the menu online and figure out what you can eat beforehand.  Most restaurants will be happy to add or subtract items or cook in oil vs butter if you ask.  Some restaurants (even steakhouses) that I have been to recently have a separate vegan menu.  Aren’t YOU special! And remember, going out to eat with friends is a social thing. Avoid bringing a baggie of food with you.

5. Try to make concessions.  If your neighbor makes you chicken soup because you’re sick, don’t tell her “Oh, sorry, I’m a vegan and I can’t eat this.”  Take the soup, do with it whatever, and tell the person it was delicious and thank them. If it’s someone’s birthday, have a sliver of cake. Whether you sit there and push it around or you eat it, there’s good energy behind the food, so try not to refuse.

6. Be nice! Not everyone will agree with your decision and some may even tell you that your choices will make you sick. Remember you may be the first vegan this person has encountered and it falls on you to make us all look good.  Just smile a lot and realize that it’s ok because God loves even the idiots.

If anyone has any stories about their encounters with those not accepting of you diet, let us know how you dealt with it.

To heck with wheatballs, I have something much better: Chickballs!  It is the same concept, only I substitute chickpea flour for wholewheat flour…but you can do either.  Enjoy! And Flo..keep up the good work!

Chickballs:

Always try to use organic ingredients when possible

1 (15.5 ounce) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed (or avoid the BPA in the can by cooking your own)

1 cup chopped white mushrooms

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 1/2  to 2 tablespoons soy sauce (find a soy sauce without cancer-causing caramel coloring and MSG)

1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil, plus more for cooking

½ cup dry bread crumbs (or use 4 Wasa rye crisp crackers ground in a blender)

½ cup chickpea flour OR whole wheat flour

¼ cup of nutritional yeast (optional but consider this high protein/non-yeast source that is usually fortified with B12…a vitamin that is essential but is mostly found in animal products,  so vegan should get it when they can I use Bragg’s, but there are lots of brands out there)

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon paprika

½ teaspoon salt (Season to taste. I found I didn’t need the salt when using the full 2 Tablespoons of soy sauce)

¼ teaspoon black pepper

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If cooking the chickpeas, rinse and place in a pot covered with water. Cover and soak overnight (12 hours). Replace water with twice the volume of the chickpeas, and bring to a boil. Lower heat, cover, and simmer 1 hour. Strain and allow to cool.  Cooked chickpeas can be placed in 16-ounce containers and frozen for 3 months (It’s like having a can in your freezer.  I do this with black beans too.)

If using canned make sure you rinse extremely well.

-in food processor, combine chickpeas, mushrooms, garlic and parsley, and pulse until coarsely ground, but not pureed.  Add the remaining ingredients and pulse to combine.

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-with a spatula, scrape the mixture into a large bowl and knead the mixture until well blended, about 2 minutes.

-pinch off  small pieces  of the mixture and roll into one and a half inch balls.

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-in a large skillet, cover the bottom with olive oil and fry the balls, turning frequently to brown the on all sides, about 5 minutes.

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These chickballs freeze well and can be used in any recipe which calls for meatballs.  They also passed the “I’m not eating anything vegan” husband test. He gobbled them up in a flash.

Makes about 17 balls Nutrition per ball when chick pea flour, rye cracker flour, and nutritional yeast options are used ….Calories: 75, Fat: 2.5, Protein: 4.8, Iron: 4.5% RDA,  Fiber: 3.5 grams  Vitamin B12: 13% RDA

Using the rye cracker crumbs vs the breadcrumbs saves calories and also saves you from the sugars, and preservatives that breadcrumbs contain.  The rye crisps contain rye flour, water and salt.  This post is not big enough to list all the ingredients in processed bread crumbs. Go to Wasa for more info:  www.wasa-usa.com/rye-crisp.aspx

Using chick pea flour instead of wheat flour gives you 5 times the protein, more iron, and 3 times the fiber as wheat flour. These small changes add up and make your healthy diet even healthier!

FYI: Nutritional yeast, while it has yeast in it’s name, is not a live yeast product.  It is the shell of the dead yeast cells that contain an abundance of protein and adds a very unique flavor to anything it touches.  Most nutritional yeast products are fortified with B Vitamins including B12…the one that vegans need to supplement in their diet.

The Bok Choy Project

bok choy

In my own defence, let me begin by saying that I was not reared up eating bok choy.  However, when I first tasted this powerhouse veggie at Shawn’s house a few weeks ago, I was delighted with its mild flavor and superb crispiness.   I immediately added it to my list of what to buy for the vegan challenge.   So off I go to Sobeys, feeling very vegan-esque as I loaded my cart with such green delights as kale, collard greens and of course bok choy.  I was pleasantly surprised at its low price of just $2.49, as I greedily rummaged through the display for the largest bunch I could find.  Then it was off to the check out for yet another surprise……. this one not so pleasant.   Kale: $3.99; collard greens: $2.99; boy choy: $9.71.  NINE DOLLARS AND SEVENTY ONE CENTS!

“There must be some mistake,” I said, “the sign says $2.49.”  So off the cashier goes to check the price while the shoppers lined up behind me angrily tapped their debit cards on the check-out.  About two hours later she returned….well it could have been five minutes but it felt like hours as the card tapping was reaching a lynch-mob like frenzy!  “That’s $2.49 a POUND,” she said, waving the sign for the hostile shoppers to see.   “Oh, that’s okay, I’ll still take it”, I replied, red-faced.

There is something about opening your fridge and seeing a rainbow of colorful veggies that can make you feel healthy just looking at it.  For the first few days, that is.   But eventually, if uneaten, these garden delights will wilt and decay, mocking you and your healthy eating plan every time you open the door of your fridge.  As the veggies took on a more and more sinister look, my bok choy project started to feel more like the Blair Witch project!

But then I had a genius idea…….vegetable broth.  I took all of my wilted and decaying produce, disposed of the bad parts and threw them in a big pot, with just enough water to cover them and added a dash of sea salt.  VOILA, after 2 hours of simmering, I strained the mixture, leaving a nutritious and tasty veggie stock, which would save me a bundle when making my vegan soups and stews.  No more boxes of Knorr for me (at $2.99 per box, I might add!).

I have completed the first third of my vegan challenge, and so far it has been a breeze.  The food is great, I am never hungry, and I feel awesome!  Before I venture into the land of bok choy again however, I must ask my vegan coach:  What are the health benefits of eating bok choy and what is the best way to cook it?

 Savvy Sister

Bok choy (don’t you love saying it?) is very similar to celery. In fact those who don’t like the taste of celery can sub bok choy into their favorite recipes.  Like many of the greens, it’s just as tasty raw as it is cooked.  You can throw bok choy into any stir fry or soup to give your meal a flavor that will have your guests or family saying “This is good…what  is that flavor?  I can’t quite put my finger on it.”

If kale is Mick Jagger, then bok choy is Bruce Springsteen.  Both (singers and veggies) are superstars, it just depends on your taste. But of course they both (singers and veggies) kick ass and they both (veggies only) belong to the cruciferous family, which are the most powerful cancer fighting foods!

Bok choy, like most leafy greens, is packed with folate, which is good for brain, heart, blood and mood, and 1 cup contains 76% of your daily requirement for vitamin C and 3 grams of protein.  We often think of orange veggies as being the only ones high in Vitamin A, but a 1-cup serving of bok choy has 7223 IU of Vitamin A! That’s 144% of your daily requirement!  Vitamins A and C are anti-oxidants vitamins that help keep your body disease-free.

It’s also made up of mostly water and fiber, so it’s great to keep the poop train on track.

Not only that, but one serving of bok choy has 50% more calcium (158 mg) than a 1/2 cup serving of cottage cheese or 1/2 cup of milk.  (Regardless of what the Dairy Council tells you, dairy is not necessary to get your calcium intake requirements.)

I’ve read that the cost of buying bok choy at Asian markets vs “big name” markets is a fraction of the price.  Not sure if that’s true….anyone?

When buying bok choy, look for bright green leaves that are not browned or withered. Cut a thin slice off the bottom off so that the outer leaves fall off and discard them.  The stalk and leaves cook at different rates, so if you want to use the leaves and the stalk, put the stalk in the stir-fry, or whatever you’re cooking, first, then the leaves.  A head of bok choy will only last about 3 days In the fridge.  It makes a great substitute for cabbage, as it’s not as bitter.  There’s even baby bok choy (awwww!) which is a smaller version that’s a little more tender.

Speaking of cabbage, here’s a great recipe for bok choy slaw.  It’s a quick and easy side dish that you can make in a few minutes and it’s loaded with all the nutrition you would expect from something so colorful and delicious!

  • 6 cups of very thinly sliced washed bok choy (about a 1 pound head-trimmed)
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar (red wine vinegar, although not as good, would work here)
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar OR 1 tablespoon of agave OR 1 tablespoon of honey (Honey is not really “vegan” because it technically comes from an animal source, but this is one “non-vegan” food I sometimes eat. The call is yours.)
  • 2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoons sea salt
  • 2 medium carrots shredded
  • 2 scallions thinly sliced (greens)
  • 1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds
  • 2 tablespoons of black sesame seeds (optional but I really like the way this looks and adds more nutrition and flavor)

Toast your almonds in a 300-degree oven for 10-15 minutes on an oven safe plate if not already toasted.

Whisk vinegar, oil, your choice of sugar, mustard and salt in a large bowl until all combined well and sugar dissolves.  Add bok choy carrots, scallions and almonds. Toss to coat. Sprinkle with sesame seeds if desired.  This is best when eaten the day it’s made but if you must, store in a tightly sealed container in fridge.

Makes six 1-cup servings. Each serving contains: Calories 110, protein 6 grams, 72% RDA Vitamin C,  225% RDA Vitamin A, 23% RDA calcium, 15% RDA iron, 22% RDA potassium, 3.6 grams of fiber

RDA= Recommended Daily Allowance

Enjoy your bok choy!

 

 

Moved To Tears

I have always fancied myself a bit of a Superhero, with my  super power being the ability to multi-task in a super human way.  It would not be unusual, for example, to walk in to my house on a given evening and find me cooking supper, washing the dishes, up-dating my Facebook status, drinking wine, AND filing my tax returns ALL AT THE SAME TIME!  Beat that, Wonder Woman!  It is one thing to see yourself as a superhero, but another thing entirely when someone else views you in that way, as was the case for me earlier this week.  Meet Susan Inkpen:

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She is smart, beautiful, and super sweet.  Susan is the daughter of my dear friend, Sherry, also known as “The Wise One”.  I call her that because she knows all kinds of stuff about men, and dishes out such sage advice as: “Men will be men.”  But I digress…..Susan was required to write an essay about her Superhero and present it to her English class.  She wrote about none other than MOI:  Super Single Mom and Crime  Cancer Fighter.   Susan’s essay reads in part:  Miss Florence is such a beautiful, caring, loving and strong willed person.  But the best super power to describe her is determined. Even though it was hard and life seemed unfair at times, she could still see the bright side to everything.” Thanks, Susan, your kind words moved me to tears.

Another thing that moved me to tears this week is a beautiful song written by my cousin, Jimmy, for his lovely wife Rowena, shortly after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.  I have shared the link below, and I am sure you will be as moved by his words as I am.  I ask my fellow cancer bloggers to share this link on your blog or Facebook page as a sign of encouragement to Rowena and countless other women who are trying to come to grips with this frightening diagnosis.  Link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TRVht_3EaPY&feature=player_detailpage

 

The final thing that has me in tears is that I have started my 21 Day Vegan Diet Challenge!  Just kidding, I am actually looking forward to the challenge of moving from my mostly vegetarian lifestyle to full blow veganism for a bit.  So I will start by sharing a simple vegan-friendly recipe with you.  It is a rice pudding that I often eat for breakfast and snacks.  Here’s how you make it:  Dump 2 cups of almond milk, 1 cup of long grain brown rice, ½ cup of raisons, and 1 tsp of cinnamon in a sauce pan.  Bring to a boil.  Cover and reduce the heat to simmer for 45 minutes.  Let stand 5 minutes and serve warm.  It’s that simple!  I like to top mine with some extra almond milk, a handful of slivered almonds and a sprinkle of cinnamon.  I would like to be able to tell you about the calorie content, but I don’t have a clue about that stuff.  I am sure if my friend Sherry was here, she could tell you.  Her super power is the ability to calculate at lightening speeds exactly how much calories and fat is contained in every morsel of food.  But from me, let’s just say it tastes GOOD and it is GOOD for you.  So eat it.

As I embark on my Vegan Journey, I ask my Vegan Coach, Susan Gonzalez: Do you have any tips to help keep me motivated this week?

Savvy Sister

So it’s motivation you want? Well, I don’t have a psychology degree like you Flo, but I have owned and trained 5 dogs in my life, and I can tell you with 100% certainty that motivation comes from two sources: fear and reward.

Fear and reward motivates pretty much everything we do in our lives and every choice we make from putting on deodorant (fear of smelling) to going to a job day after day that we hate (the reward of a pay check), and so it is with what we eat.

I could tell you that eating animal products causes changes to your body that promote inflammation (the root of most chronic illnesses including cancer), put stress on your liver and bowels that change their function and put you at risk for disease.  But I won’t do that because that would be motivating with fear, and fear is one of the unhealthiest emotions there is.  It’s even more damaging than anger.  Fear causes a stress response that causes adrenaline production, which in a chronic state, deteriorates your health both physically and mentally.

Instead, I will tell you that giving your body whole, plant-based food is one of the nicest things you can do for yourself.  You will be rewarded with more energy, better mood, better bathroom habits (you’re going to LOVE pooping), no acid reflux, and a reduced risk of many types of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and dozens of other illnesses.  If you want to give the complex but beautiful machine you call your “body” the best fuel, give it plant-based foods.

The problem with the reward part of the plant-based diet is that you have to commit to the diet BEFORE you realize the rewards. With a dog, he knows what that Milkbone tastes like and he’s very happy to “sit” in order to get it.  But with a new way of eating, you haven’t tasted the (vegan) Milkbone yet, so you don’t know how amazing you are going to feel.  You’ll have to trust it in the beginning.

And why would you need motivation anyway? “Needing” motivation suggests that you think this is going to be hard or unpleasant.  Here’s what I had for dinner last night: Delicious Spicy Quinoa and Black Bean Burritos with Corn and Avocado Salsa.  Would you need motivation to eat this?

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Recipe to follow, so keep following

The great thing is, the longer you choose to eat this way, the better you will feel, so your rewards and positive source of motivation will keep coming just from you continuing to eat plant-based!

And if those words don’t work for motivation, just look at this hunk. man.  His shirt says “Go vegan and no body gets hurt”.  Better do what he says, Flo.

body builderThat’s vegan body builder Kenneth Williams