(what not to eat instead of meat ↑)
January is the month of new beginnings, the month of change, the month to try something new and be the very best you!
Personally I think all the months are great for these things but popular media likes to shove the new year down our throats as a time for change…so be it. I like the idea of veganuary, promoting the idea that people give eliminating animal products from their diet a try. But as a holistic nutritionist I don’t love the VEGAN part of VEGANuary. I would prefer it was whole-food-plant-based-uary…but that just doesn’t have the same ring 😉
If you are considering giving veganuary a go I say GOOD FOR YOU! If I can be so bold as so offer some unsolicited advice stay clear of the vegan junk food. Give yourself 1 or 2 meals a week that you have a “meat replacement” like a veggie burger, chick’n strips or tofu bacon, just so you don’t feel completely lost or out of your comfort zone at meal times. Eating a meat based diet and then eliminating it entirely can be overwhelming in terms of planning and creativity. You want to set yourself up for success.
To feel the health benefits of a trial like veganuary you will need to focus on eating a VARIETY of whole foods – staying away from instant, processed or take-out foods. Fruits and vegetables will take up most of your plate but don’t forget whole grains, beans and lentils!
In most cases you will feel hungry more often than when you were eating meat and dairy – yes veganuary means not eating cheese! The proteins and fats that come from animal products are slower to breakdown in our bodies and take longer to digest keeping us feeling fuller longer, but also using more of our energy to break them down and transform them into usable energy. Often times this process takes so long that instead of turning all the fat we eat into energy it gets tired of waiting in line and just goes into storage 😦
So be prepared to snack often – keep the snacks healthy and include healthy fats like nuts and avocado. Some great snacking ideas are:
- chopped veggies dipped in hummus
- apple slices with peanut butter
- lentil or sweet potato crackers dipped in guacamole
- dried fruit and nut mix
Your body will take 3 or 4 weeks to transition from the way it is currently using the fuel you are providing to how it will use the new fuel – kind of amazing to me that our body can adjust so quickly after 20, 30, maybe 50 years of eating a certain way and in just a few short weeks it will begin to clean it self, heal and use the food more efficiently. Then you will start to feel the difference. The energy. The restful nights. The stability in mood. The clarity.
For plant based meal ideas check out my other blog posts by searching in the bar provided… or contact me and I’ll send you some of our family favourites 🙂
“Researchers say about 60% of us make New Year’s resolutions but only about 8% are successful in achieving them.” The Leadership Guy
The top 4 resolutions are pretty consistent year after year if you take a look at statistics Canada. This tells me that each year most people are not satisfied with their current state of health at the closing of the year. 4 out of 5 of these resolutions can be achieved on your plate! We eat every day, multiple times a day, giving us opportunity after opportunity to achieve these goals.
Let’s make the most out of each opportunity!
Goal #1 – eating healthier means including a variety of fruits and vegetables in your diet and staying away from the quick fix processed food in packages.
EAT THE RAINBOW!
Goal #2 – eating a plant centred diet will give you the restful sleep and energy that you require to get out and do what you love. Any exercise is good exercise and we all have something that we wish we could do more of but lack the motivation, energy or desire to make time for it. The fuel that you put in your body will transfer into every aspect of your life.
Goal #3 – eating a healthy balanced plant based diet will bring your body down to it’s natural weight. Your metabolism will increase, your filtration organs will detoxify and your body will start to work more efficiently and more effectively
Goal #4 – the stigma that eating plant based costs more isn’t true in most places in Canada. (I don’t want to speak for countries that I haven’t lived in) It is true that processed vegan food like non-dairy ice cream, vegan cheese, and fake ‘meat’ are expensive. BUT that kind of food isn’t good for you anyways. The basics like fruit, veggies, beans and grains are affordable throughout the year by switching to frozen veggies and berries in off season. There are many grains like rice, couscous and split barley that are quick and easy to make, fitting nicely into a busy schedule and canned beans are a great way to have something almost instant yet packed with essential nutrients.
Goal# 5 – Many people don’t know how to put together a healthy, nutrient dense, vegan meal or meal plan. This is a great new skill to learn that will carry over year after year benefiting not only you but your friends and family too 🙂
A quick look at how a plant based day looks!
I wish you all health and happiness in 2019 and I hope that I can help you in achieving all of your goals and resolutions 🙂
OATMEAL: 28grams (1 small bowl) per day = 5% lower death risk (because the leading causes of death involve your heart and oatmeal is great for your heart)
Oatmeal has many health benefits and is quick and easy to prepare in the morning before work and school. You can also add a variety of fruits (both fresh and dried), nuts, seeds (chia seeds, pumpkin, sunflower) and spices (cinnamon) to the oatmeal to give it different flavours and boost it’s nutritional value even more!
This boosted version of oatmeal that I made for my kids before school took about 5 mins:
- quick oats & boiling water (protein and vitamins)
- hemp hearts (protein)
- ground flax (healthy fibre and anti-inflammatory)
- cinnamon (anti-inflammatory)
- chopped banana (vitamin C, fibre, protein)
- rasins (protein, antioxidants)
- dried cranberries (fibre, antioxidants)
- pumpkin and sunflower seeds (good fats for the brain!)
- a heaping scoop of coconut mango whip (healthy fat and vitamins)
- a small blob of maple syrup since my kids like it on the sweeter side (they are kids after all!)
- scoop of peanut butter (healthy fats, protein)
Some of the health benefits of oatmeal are:
– BETA GLUCAN (which is an extremely helpful sugar) – reduces absorption of cholesterol reducing LDL 7% (similar to a statin drug but without side effects)
– beta glucan also increases the production of bile salts which are critical for the digestion and absorption of fats (prevention of gall stones)
– it contains vitamins and minerals such as copper, manganese, iron, b vitamins
– oats are a source of soluble fibre which lowers cholesterol (lowering the risk of heart disease)
– oats are anti-inflammatory; lowering your blood pressure; reducing arthritis
– they help control your body weight
– improve liver function (fatty liver disease is now the most common cause of liver disease, even more than alcohol)
– increase positive gut flora (beneficial bacteria in your stomach and intestines)
With all these health benefits and so many ways to make it delicious I hope you consider making oatmeal a part of your morning!
“Strong as an ox” is a saying we are all familiar with. After all they were necessary to pull the plow that allowed farmers to reap the plants from the fields that would feed their families and communities …have you ever seen an ox eat meat? …how could they be so strong without PROTEIN?
Well the answer is that they wouldn’t be… they get PLENTY of protein from the plants that they eat. Just like humans who eat a plant based diet do.
Protein deficiency isn’t a “thing” amongst plant based eaters. In fact the protein that we consume from eating animals causes many problems in our bodies at a cellular level. Animal protein contributes to type 2 diabetes, it contributes to obesity and builds up in our bodies eventually blocking the absorption of protein all together.
As you can see by this cute pic courtesy of The Give Project, protein is found in abundance in many of the very common veggies that we eat everyday.
Kale is just one of those foods, you either love it or you hate it. Some people have the ability to eat it despite their dislike but I am a strong believer that there is enough variety out there, you can always find something with the same health benefits that you love…
You should always love what you eat and eat what you love!
I am a kale lover! This pic was from a hot salad that I made myself for lunch today. I steamed the kale and mushrooms in a little bit of miso broth and added fresh tomatoes and spicy banana peppers on top…a personal love of mine.
But the benefits of kale are worth it in spades even if you only like it a little.
- Lowers LDL cholesterol – after just 14 days of adding kale to the diet of people with high cholesterol they saw a 20% drop
- Immune booster – adding kale into your diet exponentially increases your white blood cell army (your disease fighting immunity cells)
- Loaded with vitamins – iron, protein, folate, magnesium, riboflavin, vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin K, potassium, calcium, …the list goes on!
- A great source of dietary fibre
- Detoxifying chlorophyll
Kale can be a bit bitter uncooked, so I recommend eating it steamed. Lots of fresh foods lose many of their nutritional benefits during the cooking process but kale is not one of them. So go ahead and steam, bake or even boil your kale.
Spice it up, season it, sauce it – discover how you love it and then eat it often!
TIP: If you’ve given it an honest try and aren’t a kale lover/liker you can give purple cabbage a try and reap many of the same rewards 🙂
This is such an amazing and simple fall meal. Great for easy school lunches or a quick dinner on a busy evening. The bright red pomegranate not only looks great in the picture but gives this hearty meal a fresh, juicy pop that my kids love 🙂
**barley is a heart healthy whole grain, full of many vital nutrients such as vitamin B6, chromium, potassium, folate, etc. It promotes the growth of beneficial gut bacteria and is a great source of dietary fibre promoting good digestion **
After the barley was washed and rinsed I covered it in about 2 inches (5cm) of water and added a teaspoon of bouillon. It cooks very similar to rice in that the water gets absorbed into the grain, therefore the flavour that you add to the water also gets absorbed! The barley alone was so good that my little girl had a mini quick bowl with nutritional yeast (she eats almost everything with nutritional yeast, it’s like her ketchup) while she waited for me to chop the veggies for supper.
I chopped up some fresh veggies that my family loves such as cucumber (B vitamins), tomatoes (antioxidant), dill (aids digestion), green onions (immune boost, stabilize blood sugar), carrots (vitamin A), and pickles for that salty crunch.
Pomegranates are in season right now and I like to take advantage of including fresh seasonal fruits and veggies whenever possible. They are a powerful antioxidant and a great source of vitamin C… not to mention fun to eat!
Leftovers for lunch! I added a little cilantro to the barley salad and I never seem to be able to get enough steamed kale and asparagus with a squeeze of lime 🙂
Lunch meat, hot dogs and processed meat of all kinds are common go-to school lunches, party foods or just something quick and easy that your kid will eat.
When we know better, we do better.
I thought I would make this not-very-well-advertised information available to you, so you are aware of the effects of what we feed ourselves and our kids.
“What types of cancers are linked or associated with eating processed meat?
The IARC Working Group concluded that eating processed meat causes colorectal cancer.” – World Health Organization
” …every 50 gram portion of processed meat eaten daily increases the risk of colorectal cancer by about 18%.” – World Health Organization
“How many cancer cases every year can be attributed to consumption of processed meat and red meat? According to the most recent estimates by the Global Burden of Disease Project, an independent academic research organization, about 34 000 cancer deaths per year worldwide…” – World Health Organization
*IARC International Agency for Research on Cancer
Food is our body’s single greatest exposure to the outside world – even more so than our skin.
Together our small and large intestines are about 28ft long or 8.5 meters. Throughout this length they are covered with millions of microvilli which increase the surface area of absorption. Every bite, sip or lick you take gets absorbed along the way…
Since food needs to be broken down to the molecular level and absorbed by our cells, our digestive system comes into contact with every stage that piece of food has gone through…the chemical composition of the dirt and water that grew it, the bacteria from the machine that picked it or milled it, the additives that were placed in it for ripening, colouring, or preserving …maybe that food even lived at one point and our digestive system is dealing with the air it breathed, the water it drank, the food it ate, the medicine it was given.
We need to change our relationship with food – or rather we need to build a relationship with our food. Every time we eat our gut takes an international trip, exposed to the toxins and the agricultural practices and laws of other countries. Where did your lunch come from today?
Flax seeds are one of the original medicines used by Hippocrates, widely known for “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. (oh how far we’ve strayed) Flax seeds are a high-fibre super food! Omega-3 essential fatty acids, “good” fats that have been shown to have heart-healthy effects. Essential fatty acids are not made in our bodies but are exactly that…essential and therefore we must consume them. Each tablespoon of ground flaxseed contains about 1.8 grams of a-linolenic acid (plant oil).
There are a long list of benefits to flaxseeds, I have named a few below…and really when there are ZERO negative side effects how long of a list of benefits do you really need?! Nature has provided us with an amazing nutrient but man did she ever package it tightly! Our digestive system can’t break through their tough outer hull, so we can try to carefully chew these little guys but come on…they are super tiny and most of them will just end up going in one end and out the other. Grinding them up and using them in your porridge, granola, morning cereal, or mixed into a smoothie are great ways to get the benefits. You can also cook and bake with flax as their beneficial properties are NOT destroyed with heat! (yay)
- increase metabolic function – supports weight loss
- lowers blood pressure
- reduce risk of cancer
- reduce inflammation
- reduce constipation
- improves insulin sensitivity
Just 2 tablespoons of flaxseeds per day just might keep the doctor away!