“I can’t afford to eat like that!” WRONG! Plant-based foods are some of the cheapest foods on the planet; especially, when you consider the ratio of nutritional value per penny spent. I consider myself frugal (re: cheap). I want to get the most outta my buck, too! Fact: plant foods are much easier on your wallet (and planet) than animal-based foods.
It’s your lucky day because I’m going to share with you five of the, not only healthy, but cheapest foods on the planet!
How does that sound for your bank account?! Did you think eating plant-based was going to be too expensive for your budget? Think again. You can eat plant-based for just a few dollars a day. A healthy life can be a cheap life and that’s what I like to hear!!
Peace, Love, Plants,
In October of 2016, Cristy, our friend Lindsey and I sought out a group of people with a common curiosity and interest in the plant-based diet through workshops we created in our local community. As you'll read below, it was an incredibly rich experience for me, personally, and what surprised me most was that while the food seemingly took center stage, what made the whole thing work were the connections we were building within the group.
It's not always an easy transition, giving up foods we grew up on and not quite being able to see just how we'll live without them. It takes a healthy dose of commitment and determination to navigate the world around us. And often, after we've mastered the switch, after riding the plant-based 'high' of feeling so damn good, boredom can set in and we get tired of figuring out... what's for dinner? Or you need to show up at a friend's pig roast, which is the first clue there likely won't be any compliant food to eat. Or you're going on a cruise or taking a road trip with fast food as the only answer to your hunger. Maybe your family is picketing at the dining table, mercilessly refusing whatever plant-perfect concoction you've turned yourself inside out making to ensure their approval. They're hangry. And mean. And they are NOT on board.
I've never not needed a tribe when it comes to staying plant-based. I think I belong to 4 or 5 plant-based Facebook groups. We lean on each other for support, troubleshooting, new ideas, recipes and inspiration to reignite that daily spark around why we made the change. That dynamic brings you back 'round to getting all jacked up over Japanese sweet potatoes or beer can cabbage or those soy curls everyone's making such a fuss about.
This is one of those early mornings that I’ve been called to the computer at 4am. Usually my brain starts lighting up with ideas or things I want to write about during the quiet hours. But this morning it wasn’t my mind that woke me. It was a full heart.
Lindsey, Cristy and I recently wound up the last of two plant-based workshop series we created. It’s what I’ve been working on during every waking spare second I’ve had the past 6 months. The creation process was a labor of love, I tell you. And the whole experience has left me with the realization that I’ve never done work before that makes me feel so impassioned.
I’ve been wanting to do some sort of work around plant-based nutrition for quite some time. I believe that it is the superior diet and a powerful and scientifically proven approach to preventing and often reversing diseases that simply need not be, such as heart disease, cancer, obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure.
I’ve never been out to convert anyone. I don’t believe in scare tactics or shaming people into making better food choices, (with the exception of my family). In fact, I rarely talk about it unless people ask or if someone’s had a recent diagnosis of some kind and are then ready to try anything to back out of that sitch.
I only know what the plant-based diet has done for me. It’s allowed me to finally reach a weight I haven’t seen in a decade, I’m rarely sick and on the rare occasion I do come down with something, it passes quickly, I have lots of energy and feel empowered with having certain boundaries around what I’m putting in my mouth. Beyond that, there are no monthly subscriptions or prescriptions for eating this way. No one's getting rich from pushing kale, I'm pretty sure. It’s just food. Sounds simple, but it’s difficult for many of us.
So. It seemed Lindsey, Cristy and I were some of the few people around these parts eating a plant-based diet. We live in the beautiful heart of the Pennsylvania Wilds where hunting and fishing are the mainstay for local tourism, activities and for putting food on the table. When you don’t eat the Standard American Diet, life can feel a bit isolating.
During our early planning meetings, hours would slip by, the three of us talking off-subject about our latest finds at the grocery store, how we managed eating this way, we talked about troubleshooting social situations and feeding our families, or how we were using tofu or where we could find miso and nutritional yeast. The support and sharing between us was so comforting and invigorating at the same time.
Could we bring this to our community? We knew there had to be a few people out there wanting to explore a healthier lifestyle, but maybe, like us in the early stages, they were struggling with the how-to of it all. So, without droning on about it, let me just say that the workshops ended up looking nothing like what they did in the beginning.
It reminds me of when novelists say that their book had, sort of, written itself. That they were just the vessel for the story that wanted to be told. At the risk of sounding hokey, the creative process for developing these workshops felt like that to me.
We had a total of 21 people from our small community participate in our programs. The number may sound small, but those 21 people have families. And friends. And co-workers. At our last potluck we had well over 50 people attend, filling up Lindsey’s restaurant with creative, healthy and delicious plant-based food, surprising even the most carnivorous guests. We’ve also established friendships with people from another local plant-based support group from a neighboring community, which led to creating our own local Cameron County Plant-Based Support Group. Now, put all these people together and we have quite the tribe. Everyone needs a tribe.
It feels amazing. And I’m not taking credit for it. It just feels so good to be a part of it. To be a part of the difference in making healthier food choices in our community, with our own friends and neighbors.
Let me tell you something about my hometown. When tragedy strikes, when one of ours is diagnosed with disease; no community comes together and rallies for its people like this one does. It’s a beautiful part of small town living, not to be taken for granted.
I see a similar sense of purpose and momentum with our small plant-based community, within the community. People coming together and rallying in the spirit of disease-free, healthy and optimal living. I see daughters, mothers themselves, making significant changes in the food they prepare for their children; redemption, in a way, for losing their own mothers to cancer, far too young. I witness friends and neighbors doing the same by standing up in the face of a diagnosis, refusing to accept their illness as a jail sentence, becoming empowered to take their health and their future into their own hands.
It’s moving. It’s brave. It’s courageous and contagious. And to be witness to their courage... it has some sort of power over me to do more. What more can any of us do in our own communities in the name of preventative health? Community gardens, food shares, plant-based cooking or herbal remedy classes, good old fashioned trade and barter, community sustained agriculture? Maybe you have an idea...I'd love to hear it.
Edited version of a previous post
Where are you? Where do you want to be? It's important to keep asking ourselves these questions so that we can learn and grow. Life is all about growth...you feel me?
It's time. Time to take control of your life, your health, your decisions. The time is right now. No more excuses.
Imagine yourself leaner, lighter, full of energy, possibly, medication-free...it is POSSIBLE!
It's time to start a competition with yourself... what is the only diet: proven to reverse disease, to have the leanest people, to create energy and vibrance?! Yup, you guessed it, the plant-based diet and guess what? This is the time! 2017 has been declared #theyearofvegan!!
So, I'm going to help you start the competition with yourself and give you 10 reasons why this is your year to become a plant-based powerhouse!!
"The Food You Eat Can Either Be
The Most Powerful
Form of Medicine
Form of Poison"
8. Plant-Based Food is Delicious- What kind of foods do you eat regularly? Pasta? Pizza? Burgers? Fries? All of these can be made using whole food plant-based ingredients! All of the flavor comes from the herbs and spices being used which makes it so easy to make savory, delicious plant-based dishes. If you are looking for a resource, a great place to start is by signing up for our email list and we will send you 50 recipes for easy and delicious plant-based snacks!
9. Animals are Amazing- You love your dog and/or cat so much, right? They are so smart and loving, right? Pigs can learn to play video games and have far more emotional intelligence than a dog. A chicken is so smart its intelligence is comparable to a monkey's, according to scientists. There is no difference between your household pet and a farm animal...they all have superior intelligence, emotional capabilities, and the same RIGHT TO LIFE!
10. Save Money- You work hard for your money; why waste it on expensive foods that are poisoning your body! The cheapest cuts of meat are $3+ a pound. Rice, beans, lentils, and pasta are less than $1 a pound...no brainer, right?! Vegans, on average, save over $750 a year compared to meat eaters. What could you do with an additional $750?!
The time is right now! This is your year to become a healthier, happier you! I gave you 10 great reasons so no excuses. Are you ready to be healthier, happier, sexier….are you ready to save the planet, animals, money AND end world hunger?! Basically, you are a superhero in the making...are you ready for the challenge?!
As always, if you need any help in your journey email me or comment with your questions, concerns, and/or criticism...I'm ready for it all!!
Peace, Love, Plants,
You guys. I’m having some struggs. I’m really feeling stuck... and from the outside looking in it may be hard to imagine why. I mean, no one close to me has died. Everyone’s good. All is well. But, I’m feeling really quite flat and blah. I feel like I’m underneath everything and I’m at that point where I can’t quite see how to crawl out of this dark hole.
I feel crippled with uncertainty and fear. I'm riddled with anxiety, seeing the world around me only in gray scale. That ruminating fear I’ve gotten nothing right in life...the feeling of ‘I’m not good enough’, ‘nobody likes me’, ‘it’s too late’ and ‘I suck at everything’.
Does that sound like I'm living simply nourished?
I suspect I’m reaching a point of burnout and overwhelm. I feel very far away from that enlightened part of myself that never comes close to feeling so dull and full of gloom. Not only is she on the other side of the room from where I'm standing, but she’s down the hall and in the next room. To be honest, she may have left the building altogether.
It would be much easier to tell you this story in hindsight, when it has passed and I’m seemingly cured of this colossal fun-suck. It’s always easier to gain perspective...retrospectively. From that vantage point you can, at least, see the whole story. How I got to be in this dark place (all the mistakes and steps leading to it), the climax and turnaround, the happy ending followed by the moral of the story. But, I've decided to write about and share it in real time...maybe it will help others who have the same struggle to step out from the rain cloud and start living life again.
What would I say to my daughters if they were struggling to be in a good place and feeling really down? What advice have I given others? Eat well, drink more water, get plenty of rest, journal, start a gratitude list, meditate daily, exercise, do something nice for someone else. Yup. I think that’s the recipe I’ve come up with for not ever having to feel this shitty. So, what’s missing right now? I see it right away. I probably haven’t meditated, journaled or done my gratitude list, if I’m being totally honest, since we started Living Simply Nourished ...10 months ago. And, guess what? I don’t feel like doing those things. At. All. But see, that’s what this funk feels like. That old familiar feeling of not wanting to do a - n - y - t - h - i - n - g.
It seems I have two choices here. I can wait it out to see if it will pass (I don’t have time for this. I could die tomorrow and I don’t want to end on a bad note) or I can force myself to do those things that will get me to higher ground.
Let me take a moment to remember what higher ground feels like. Higher ground, to me, feels like that state of being when nothing can get you down because you’re so busy feeling awesome, you just can’t be bothered. I also feel very grounded and connected to everyone and everything. I’m Wise Jeanmare. Coming from that calm place where I have an answer to any problem. In fact, there are no problems when I’m in that space, only solutions and rerouting to a more fulfilled and meaningful life. That the Universe is always working in my favor so there’s really no need to come undone. I’m super intuitive, mindful and empowered at higher ground. It’s where all my creativity is sourced.
I just can’t get to any of that from here.
I’ve got to become the hero in this story. I’ve got to save myself because no matter how loving and kind my husband, friends and family are...it just doesn’t matter. This is an inside job, I’m afraid, and no one else can fix it. Not even Lexapro.
For the next 21 days, I’m going to commit to my formula for feeling better. I’m not exactly sure what that’s going to look like, but I’ll keep you posted.
Until then, I’ll leave you with this brilliant and uplifting 12 minute Ted talk by Shawn Achor, CEO of Good Think, Inc. and researcher and teacher of positive psychology. A good friend of mine first introduced me to The Happiness Advantage when I was going through another very difficult time. I can’t believe I haven’t shared this with you yet. It has always struck me as the most efficient and simple method I have ever found for creating happiness.
In scheme of things I’m pretty new to this plant-based lifestyle. I like to think I became more concerned about food choices shortly after my son was born over 12 years ago. I knew not to eat too much junk food, eat more fruits and vegetables, and avoid chemicals and additives. It wasn’t until about 5 years ago that I became aware of GMOs (genetically modified foods) and their impact on health that I got serious about healthy food choices. After that, I wanted to consume all there was to know about natural living and healthy eating and that’s when I found the plant-based lifestyle. All the science behind it blew my mind and I immediately got rid of all the meat in our house, cheese soon followed. That was over a year and a half ago.
What I want to share with you today is that it gets easier, but it is still sometimes hard. I make mistakes. I am not perfect; no one is. There is still so much to learn and it takes some work to find foods that meet our needs. Let me give you this example, I have been buying these dark chocolate chips from Walmart for a few months now. They are delicious. My husband consumed them like…candy? Spoiler alert: there isn’t a happy ending to this story. We were camping with some fellow plant-based friends, when we added some chocolate chips to our s’mores. Our friend read the label thinking, “Wow, something I can eat!” He discovered milk in the ingredients. Nope, it wasn’t written in tiny little letters or required secret spy ink to read…it was right there in plain sight. I was so mad at myself. How did I miss that in the ingredients? I can only think that because it was “dark chocolate” I naively assumed it did not contain milk, WRONG!
I was disappointed in myself knowing that my family counts on me to make good decisions. They trust my decisions and don’t question what I bring home. But I took a deep breath and forgave myself. I AM NOT PERFECT and nor do I strive to be. I make mistakes, but I learn from them. I will never again assume dark chocolate is dairy free or anything else for that matter!
What I want you to take from this is do NOT worry about being perfect! We all make mistakes (and lots of them!!). That’s how we learn. One mistake (or two or three) does not sabotage an entire diet or healthy body. It’s when we give up because we put too much pressure on ourselves that we fall back into bad habits and poor decisions. Just know that we are in this together and we can learn from each other; that none of us has this all figured out. We are shooting for progress over perfection.
Peace, Love, Plants,
A slightly edited re-post for your plant-based travel pleasure :)
I’ve been going back and forth to Connecticut recently and also have some upcoming travel plans this spring (Halleluja! praying hands emoji!). I LOVE to travel and explore new places. But for me, adventuring can create lapses in judgement resulting in poor decision making in eating unhealthy foods, overeating out of boredom and overspending at restaurants. Staying plant-based and budget conscious while traveling can be tricky, but hardly impossible. And once you know a few tricks of the trade and have a rough game plan, you will even have some fun with it! Here are some recommendations for staying the course, allowing you to fully enjoy yourself on your next trip while keeping the damage to a minimum.
Pack your own food. If you have a stash of healthy options with you it will make stopping at the next convenience store or restaurant less likely. Here are some ideas on what to pack based on my experience: fruit, whole-grain pretzels, water (if I’m road tripping I like to keep a case of water in the car), Belvita snacks, Lara bars, That’s It fruit bars, applesauce, quick wrap ingredients of tortillas, hummus and mixed greens, overnight oats and loads of cooked potatoes with my horseradish mustard (omg so good). I also pack foods that create a meal just by adding hot water, say, at a hotel or convenience store, such as oatmeal packets and Dr. McDougall’s Right Foods. It’s also useful to pack cans of low-sodium beans (don’t forget the can opener) and shelf stable pre-cooked rice and quinoa that you can eat at room temp or heat easily in the microwave when you reach your destination. Oh! And I ALWAYS carry a container of condiments that I can add to any of the above. I have an ongoing “collection” from hotel stays (peanut butter, jelly- simply stir into a packet of plain oatmeal and hot water for some quick pb & j oats) or truck stops... an amazing opportunity for creating your first condiment cache- ketchup, mustard, soy sauces, hot sauces, honey mustard, etc).
Restaurants: Even though I don’t want to and probably can’t afford to eat out EVERY meal while on the road, I really do enjoy eating in a restaurant once in awhile or even once a day while traveling. You will find that Asian, Mexican, Italian and, believe it or not, Steak houses are great choices to ensure getting a plant-based meal.
Asian restaurants offer rice, steamed veggies with soy sauce or teriyaki, vegetable sushi, tofu curries and fresh spring rolls with dipping sauce. Mexican is great for having rice and beans with salsa, guacamole and I always ask for an order of their corn tortillas. You can also order fajitas and ask if they will “dry” fry, steam or saute the vegetables in water for oil free option. Order a salad and you could have any of the above as a salad, burrito, tacos or a bowl. When I go to an Italian place I usually order pasta with marinara sauce, salad with balsamic vinegar or lemon wedges and fresh bread or veggie pizza without cheese topped with crushed red pepper. (I’m getting hungry). Steak houses are wonderful in that you can always get a plain baked or sweet potato, steamed vegetables, and a fresh salad. Personally I like to put this all together with some BBQ sauce as a dressing (many are made without oil). Breakfast spots and coffee shops/cafes almost always offer bagels with jelly or peanut butter, sometimes hummus with fresh vegetables, oatmeal made with water or nondairy milk, fresh fruit, and nuts... if I notice that they serve avocado on the menu, I will order it with whole grain toast, slice of tomato and red pepper flakes or hot sauce to re-create a fabulous avocado toast I first had in NYC. Mmmmmm…. @thebutchersdaughter_official
Photo Credit The Butcher's Daughter
Gas stations and grocery stores: Don’t forget these little gems. The grocery store produce sections are filled with pre-washed/cut fruits and vegetables...the meal doesn’t get any quicker than that! Look for low-sodium canned beans (be sure to pack your can opener or pick up a cheap one at the dollar store), shelf stable rice and quinoa, and often there are vegetarian canned soups such as Annie’s Organics Soups (check the ingredients list for dairy) available to heat when you get to your destination. Also the freezer section has quite the bounty with microwaveable pre-cooked frozen rice, mixed vegetables, herbs, riced cauliflower and frozen fruit (frozen cherries are currently my favorite snack). You can also pick up a bag of potatoes to microwave in your hotel room and many grocery stores now have fresh salads and olive bars. For a quick breakfast you can pick up cereal and nondairy milk, nondairy yogurt or plain bagels (no need to buy condiments if you’ve brought along your own or pick up when you get to the hotel). Check out the videos in the resources guide for the field trip the girls and I took to our local Walmart Superstore for some other ideas!
Gas stations are getting better and better offering fresh fruit, hummus packs, That’s It fruit bars, Clif Bars (check ingredients list), whole grain pretzels and unsalted nuts. Many convenience stores offering made-to-order meals have rice and beans for wrap options...just add salsa and load up with veggies and guac.
Get creative. Look at the menu and notice all the components in each offering and check out the listed sides. Often the sides will offer baked plain or sweet potatoes, steamed veggies, applesauce, and fresh fruit. These combined with a house salad can make a meal. Once, I noticed portobello mushrooms from one entree and avocado from another...and I put it atop my baked potato and steamed veggies to create a potato bowl.
It doesn’t hurt to ask for what you want. You are a patron of the restaurant and are entitled to ask for and get something you can eat. You are deserving and you should not feel as though you’re being ‘difficult’. That said, most often I am met with chefs and servers who are eager to come up with something I can eat. With all the many dietary restrictions and food sensitivities these days, it’s not that unusual to have a special request. I’ve even had chefs (many times, actually) come out to see how I liked the meal they created for me (Disney World has THE most accommodating eateries on the planet!). These people are talented in their own right and are usually pleased to create something different from what’s on the daily menu. Be gracious and thank them personally, if you can, and tip them generously for their efforts.
It doesn’t always go the way you hoped it would. The most common mistake I make is forgetting to ask for “no cheese”. Especially remember to request “no cheese” when ordering a house salad or a plate of pasta. It almost always comes with cheese even if it doesn’t say so in the menu description. No-Oil salad dressings can also present a problem. Most often restaurants will have balsamic vinegar, fresh lemon wedges, fat free dressings, salsa or hummus...but sometimes they don’t. For master troubleshooting I have been known to smuggle in an avocado and lemon wedges (makes an awesome hearty dressing- smash with fork, squeeze lemon with a pinch of salt- you can put it together discreetly right in the salad) or one of my homemade favorites , tahini or fat-free balsamic dressings. If possible, check the online menu before arriving. It helps to have a rough game plan to avoid feeling put on the spot and caving in to one of your traditional dairy or oil-laden go-tos. You are in the driver’s seat here...stick to the plan!!
Apps and Websites: I enjoy a website called happycow.net which allows you to search a specific geographical area for veg friendly restaurants. They also have a free downloadable app to use while on the road. While it is super fun to check out the local vegan and vegetarian scene, their menu items are often loaded with fat and highly processed ingredients. I usually stick to and do the best at “regular” restaurants and can honestly say I’ve never been to a place that has not been able to come up with something to eat--even if it’s an unexciting mustard, lettuce, and tomato sandwich. I tell myself it’s just one meal...and I actually love MLT’s!! (Add banana peppers, red onion and avocado WHENEVER possible..delish.)
Just remember to do your best! For me, food has always been such a fun part of travel, but I have to remind myself of the many other fun aspects of the journey: meaningful conversation with my travel partner, listening to educational podcasts, stopping at a picturesque vista, listening to an audiobook, self-guided walking tours, meaningful visits with friends or family, a random hike to a waterfall or unexpected stop at a cool little town, people watching, stopping for a good cup of local coffee or taking in a tea-tasting (going to do this on my next trip to CT)...not to mention most of these are free or cost very little, yet add so much value and meaning to my adventuring.
I would love to hear about YOUR next get-a-way and what you might do differently this time to create the best experience with memories that will last a lifetime….without the guilt.
Initially posted on 4/15/17
As parents, we are constantly feeling the pressure of “Are we doing it right?” and certain we are doing it wrong! It's hard work molding those little life-suckers into functioning, well-adjusted adults! (Obviously, a lot of people have NEVER figured it out.) We continually put onto them: say please and thank you, be kind, be compassionate, be respectful, brush your teeth, go outside, work hard, do the right thing, eat your fruits and vegetables…….and then, we get a wrench thrown into our parenting when we learn about the plant-based lifestyle! GAWD! Like we don't have enough to worry about! But, if we get to the core of it, instilling the values of eating healthy...not just healthy...the optimal diet for human health, is one of the most important things we should be teaching our children! We are giving them the tools they need to lead a healthy life. Not only does it teach them the best way to be eating, but it instills in them the importance of good health, the ability of self control, compassion for our environment, respect for one's self, among other things. Teaching a plant-based diet could be one of the best tools for teaching many of the important values we try to instill in our children.
If you are starting with a toddler, I believe, you may have it a little easier than those starting later. They are getting their needs met, so, they care a little less about what's going in their bellies. As they get older, they have probably become accustomed to sweet treats, the addiction of cheese (which we were all taught was healthy!), the pressure to drink milk (indoctrinated into all of us as children), and the regular routine of meat. It gets harder to make the adjustment.
I have always spoken openly and honestly with my son; rarely giving him the “kid-version” (only when sexually or violently inappropriate). My experience it that this empowers him to make better decisions and understand the full scope of situations. They are much smarter than for which we give them credit. One of our goals, as parents, is to give our children the ability to be good decision makers. In order for them or anyone to make a good decision, we need to be well-educated on the topic. I think it is absolutely crucial to teach our children the details of the how's and why's of a plant-based lifestyle. Empower them with knowledge. Once my son learned the scariness of animal products it was much easier for him to make better choices. Skip ahead if you don't want to hear me brag...my son has amazing willpower when it comes to food! After a few years of constant stomach issues, he has learned what not to eat to make him feel good and he has no problems sticking to them! He rarely has a piece of candy and if he does it's plant-based and organic! Ok, bragging over, you may resume reading. Let's get to the tips:
I hope you can take something away from these tips even if you haven't adopted a plant-based lifestyle...yet;) This is a MOVEMENT; it's shaking up our world...for the better. It is so awesome to see the changes happening in such a short period of time. It is getting so much easier to adopt this lifestyle...grocery stores are conforming to the needs of the plant-based eaters, restaurants are learning of the growing trends, and even doctors are FINALLY succumbing to the evidence of the healing powers of plant foods! You will always have to face the nay-sayers, all around you, but take comfort in knowing you are doing the BEST thing for you and your family AND you have a whole COMMUNITY of supporters!! If you are from our area (or not!) follow “Cameron County Plant Based Support Group” on Facebook where we share tons of information and support. Also, if there's any questions or support I can help you with, please, comment below or send me an email!!
Peace, Love, Plants,
This is an edited version of a blog post I first published in December, 2016. When making a big lifestyle change, to make change that lasts, it's important to go back and revisit why it is we're doing what it is we're doing. To remember why we've made certain changes in our lives. I was recently reminded that living a healthy lifestyle, maintaining a healthy weight or achieving weight loss is like training for a marathon. Except, there is no finish line.
I very much related to this analogy because a handful of years ago I became an avid runner. Admittedly, I wasn't a "natural"; running was something I had to work at. I would participate in local 5K races fairly regularly and even completed a 16 mile trail run a couple of years ago. Not exactly a marathon, but, still, I had to train and run regularly to increase my time, run more efficiently and prepare to be my best for the big race day .
Unfortunately, I hurt my knee on that last trail race which has inhibited me from running ever since. If I tried to run a race today, I probably wouldn't be able to do it very well or at all because I'm no longer running.
Maintaining weight loss or losing weight and living a healthy lifestyle is quite the same. What it takes to be able to run the marathon or 5K (lose weight or maintain a healthy weight) is what you have to do every day. Even after the race. Even after you get there.
Life has a way of managing the mystery in our lives. Catching us off guard with those life-changing events you couldn't possibly see coming. The one that forces you to take a left when you never considered not going right.
The first of these often happens when we are young. We develop a self soothing/sabotaging behavior to cope and often go through much of our life operating from that wounded place , until we make the conscious decision to choose differently.
My first realization of my toxic relationship with food came during a weekend visit with a relative not long after the death of my 3 yr old brother in 1983. I was 11 years old and had gone to spend time with family... to get away, to play and forget about life for a while. I overheard this relative talking with my mother over the phone sometime after I’d arrived.
“She’s HAD to have put on 20 pounds since the last time I saw her! What have you been feeding this child?!”
It is my very first memory of having felt shame around my body and what I would put in my mouth, in the presence of others or in secret, from that day forward. I tell you this not to place blame on or fault my relative, whom I love dearly, or even the tragic event that brought my family to its knees, but rather, it’s a bookmark in my early life where I can make my first connection to COMFORT = FOOD.
I went on to spend the rest of my life on a diet...any diet. ALL the diets.
Weight Watchers, through all its evolving phases, Atkins, The Cabbage Soup Diet. My roommates and I actually went on a hot dog diet of some kind during my sophomore year in college (strength in numbers). I took diet pills (the over-the-counter and over-the-border kinds), seriously restricting my calories, and once even tried to purge after feeling really bad about what I’d eaten; a scene that just ended in tears, not even being able to get that right. Desperation leads to desperate measures. I was chasing down every "magic pill" out there. I was a runaway train of sorts...and by the time I pulled into the station the only thing I was able to find were a few extra pounds.
In 2007 I began a new focus of healing old wounds and my toxic relationship with food. By this time, I had my share of life changing events; marrying my high school sweetheart, becoming a stay-at-home mom to three growing daughters, relocating multiple times, reuniting with my birth mother and with a promise of a bright future and new business venture, we packed up our family and moved back home to where it all began.
I started looking at my connection to food, not only my emotional connection, but my lack of connection; my unconscious, self-soothing behavior that began when I was a child. I also began to pay more attention to what I was eating and began noticing the food commercials on television in a whole different way; the clever marketing, the way grocery stores will fill their end caps with shitty food, signaling us to get it while it’s hot and feed it to our children. I started reading nutrition labels and scanning the ingredients lists. It took forever to grocery shop and at one point I thought I’d gone blind from reading such small print. I read Kathy Freston’s book, Quantum Wellness which laid out the benefits of following a diet that didn't include animal products, and in the middle of reading the chapter on factory farming decided to close the door on meat forever, to go vegetarian and I have never looked back. (They say if slaughterhouses had glass walls we would all be vegetarian.)
I was always one of those people who said, I could never give up cheese. But, after several failed attempts, in 2012 after watching the documentary, “Forks Over Knives” and with the support of friends in the plant-based community, both real and Facebook, I did. And then real magic started to happen. No more constipation or bloating, which, frankly, I just thought was normal. (People poop every day??? What a wonder!) And 10-15 unwanted pounds sort of fell away (you know, like you hear people talk about, but you just can’t relate?).
At this point, my primary goal had shifted from weight loss to simply eating real food and just plain... feeling good. I began to discover that my behavior and my environment were also critical in reaching my nutritional goals. It wasn’t really enough to have a shelf-load of fabulous recipe books and gorgeous produce in my fridge. I had to actually do the work of prepping meals ahead of time and have them on hand. Healthy food needed to be ready and waiting for that moment when I would come home from my crazy-busy day, emotional baggage in hand, having a could-eat-the-ass-end-out-of-a-rhino moment.
Throughout my trials and many errors, I had made an obvious discovery: I am the gatekeeper of the food that comes into my kitchen, of what’s in the pantry, of what’s in the fridge. I know I have to eat mostly home cooked meals to have that sort of quality control over what I eat and to be successful in managing a healthy weight and prevent disease.
Over the years I have learned a few things...implemented some short-cuts to cooking and preparing food, learned a few "work-arounds" for trigger situations and have found ways to be more satiated eating plant-based. It has been an evolution, really; how I eat today looks very different that it did even just a few years ago.
Full Disclosure here…
I’m not perfect. I fall off the wagon from time to time... and I start again with the next meal..and again if I have to. It’s PROGRESS over PERFECTION for me. It’s how I can stay honest and stay on track. I look back on the past 3 decades of my life, losing and gaining those same 10 pounds. I had just grown so tired of it. Since April 2012, I have had a 23 lb. weight loss, my cholesterol numbers have dropped into the normal range, and having just celebrated my 45th birthday, I have, really, never felt better.
I now practice yoga, meditation, journaling, and spending time in nature as a recipe to live more intentionally and manage my emotional eating. We cannot choose exactly what comes our way, but WE CAN CHOOSE how we show up in the face of change and adversity in a way that allows us to not only survive, my friends, but to THRIVE.
Food can be so fun, am I right? I love discovering new plant-based foods...it feels like Christmas when I find a new one that I love. Then, add in a food that makes creating new recipes exciting *happy dance*
A friend told that I had to try the new craze...soy curls! I'm picky...I needed some more information before I just went all willy nilly buying these things. I went to the source www.butlerfoods.com.
“Butler Foods LLC is an independent, family owned business. We were privileged to live in Africa for years and assist in small scale sustainable organic gardening, reforestation, and community health. In seeking to alleviate starvation and famine, we came to the conclusion that a natural, whole foods, plant based diet is the answer for health, peace and for feeding the world. Our products are plant based and animal free. Butler Soy Curls™ can fill an important place in your favorite dishes as you follow an eco-friendly, plant based diet. Remember, our products are made with special care and love.”
Their soy is NON GMO!! AND is NOT sprayed with any chemical pesticides! You can not ask for a better product! So what are these “soy curls”? Soybeans! That's it! No added fillers or chemicals, just dehydrated soybeans. I was so happy to find these amazing products! Yes, products; plural...you HAVE TO try the soy jerky! So delicious/addictive!
Now that you know what soy curls are, let me give you a crowd pleasing recipe that even a meat-eater will love!
The first step is to soak your soy curls (they are dehydrated soy beans). For this recipe we will use half of a bag or about 2 cups. Put them in a bowl of warm water for about 10 minutes.
While the soy curls are soaking...slice up 1 green pepper and 1 yellow onion. Saute them with 1 tablespoon of soy sauce until they soften, about 8-10 minutes.
Drain the soy curls and squeeze out some of the excess water. Then add in 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of vegan Worcestershire sauce, and 2-3 drops of liquid smoke. Stir it all up and let it sit for a few minutes while you tend to the veggies.
Now, add the soy curls to the vegetables and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. Add more vegan Worcestershire to taste.
Add your favorite vegan cheese and stir. Scoop your mixture onto your favorite bread. Looks like meat, right?!
I used Daiya cheese this time because I got lazy and didn't want to make the nacho cheez sauce. My family was upset...they love my nacho cheez sauce and aren't big fans of Daiya cheese. So my recommendation is to make the nacho cheez sauce and the recipe is here.
This is seriously, super easy and my family loves it. Go order your soy curls and get busy making Philly Cheez Soy Curls!
Peace, Love, Plants,
Jeanmare and Cristy are creators and contributors of the Living Simply Nourished Blog. Grab a cup of tea (or coffee!), find a cozy spot, scroll around, read some stories, find some inspiration, and enjoy!
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