Have you ever paid close attention to the cycles in life? Take for example the cycle of the seasons, the dormancy of winter, the rebirth of spring growing into summer and the fading of autumn back to winter. Or the sun rising each morning and bringing light, only to set each evening, cloaking us in darkness to rest and renew for the coming day.
Some of my friends and I have been taking a closer look at the moon cycle. I've always had a keen interest in the power of the moon- the effect it has on the 4 women who live in my household, the fitful insomnia the full moon brings, the push and pull of the ocean tides along with our emotions. It's fascinating stuff.
This evening, at 9:18pm Eastern, we will experience the first new moon of 2018. To astrologers, this day is the true New Year's Day, the best time to manifest and set an intention for a certain area of your life.
Kriss Lumsden, astrologer and creator of astroManifest and the Moon Manifesting Planner, has written a beautiful post below about this particular new moon and what it might mean for you. If you don't already have one, you will need to print your natal chart to see what area of your life you should be focusing on. Simply go to astro.com (or any other birth chart generator) and enter your date, time and location of your birth to receive your free natal chart. To get to know more about Kriss Lumsden and moon manifesting visit krisslumsden.com , check out her Facebook page astroManifest and her brand new 2018 Moon Manifesting Planner.
Capricorn New Moon
by Kriss Lumsden
Trying to think of what to put on your Christmas list this year?
12 Gifts for Giving.....Yourself
Was it my age? Was it my genes? Was it just my body type? Was it fate???
I knew there was more work to be done before I'd give in to believing I was just getting older and getting heavier is just what happens as a result. I took a good look at the amount of oils/overt fats I was still consuming and cut them out. I began releasing unwanted body fat again (and still am, albeit slowly but surely) and my cholesterol numbers came down significantly.
Much of my resistance during that time I attribute to my mindset and perspective of "giving up" so many foods already and not seeing all that I'd be gaining by taking my diet to the next level. I know this much:
In order to have a different outcome, we need to do things differently.
It's uncomfortable. Change. Especially when we see it as deprivation. The uncomfortable-ness is how we know we are growing and changing. As Lindsay Nixon has recently said in her Shortcut to Slim podcast, Seek discomfort. Then you know you're changing; if you're feeling comfortable, then you're probably not.
Here's an updated blog post from the archive on why I gave up oils and how I make it work. There's also a little caveat on being vegan vs. plant-based. It's cathartic for me to go back to where I once was, remembering that what I have done to release unwanted body fat is what I will have to continue to do to keep it off. I hope you'll find some inspiration here, too.
Why No Oil?
Vegan vs. Plant-Based
(Yeah, you read that right bacon bits are vegan).
The Problem With Oil
Pushing Through Weight Loss Plateau
But, as far as my weight loss and cholesterol levels were going, my progress had really slowed and even stopped a short time after giving up meat and dairy. Even then my cholesterol was still over 200, just being vegan. I had lost weight early on because plant foods naturally have fewer calories and fat than the animal-derived foods of the Standard American Diet (SAD).
I had made obvious changes, but the hidden oils/fats prohibited me from continuing to create that caloric deficit needed to lose more body fat. (The only simple thing about weight loss: If there is no caloric deficit, there is no weight loss.) This is the reason that it's harder to lose those last few pounds; the closer we get to our goal weight, the harder it is to create the deficit, leaving very little room for error.
Progress Over Perfection
I fall down. I get back up.
Making it Work
Salad dressings have been the hardest to transition from. I was once married to bleu cheese dressing. But, it’s not impossible and I’ve come to love new favorites using dates, tahini, lemon and lime juices, miso, Dijon mustard, vinegars, salsa, hummus, nut butters, avocado, Sriracha, vegan mayos and spices.
As you evolve, so will your food choices.
Maybe this will help! Here’s a recipe that’s adapted from the Whole Foods No-Oil Balsamic Dressing and happens to be my husband’s favorite. I start small with the Dijon mustard, working my way up because it’s strong for me. The dates give the dressing a nice and familiar body and the quantity can be adjusted for a sweeter variation. This makes about 1 3/4 cups of salad dressing. Click the picture below for the recipe!
Trader Joe's IS the total package. A triple threat, you might say. I guess it's the well orchestrated combination of enthusiastic, helpful employees, the Tiki culture theme and Polynesian style of the space, a manageable, intimate atmosphere reminiscent of the neighborhood markets of my youth and the seduction of beautifully packaged, affordable specialty foods (without Whole Foods prices) that lures me. Just thinking about it now makes me go all heart eyes, eager with anticipation for my next trip.
Just because something comes from Trader Joe's, we can't assume it's healthy. We still need to be reading labels and checking ingredients. There is a thrill that can be found when hunting healthy food. Don't be afraid to go in there, like the super sleuth that you are, find your inner Food Babe and hunt that shit down.
Pumpkin Spice Latte Smoothie: 1/2 cup brewed coffee, cooled, 1/2 cup nondairy milk, 1 frozen banana, 1/2 cup pumpkin puree, 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract, 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (or 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ginger, 1/4 tsp nutmeg, 1/4 tsp allspice), 2-3 small pitted dates, optional and 1-2 ice cubes or frozen coffee cubes, optional. Whiz in high speed blender until smooth and creamy.
I lOVE the holidays. I really do. The anticipation of the American holiday season has a way of sustaining good spirits, extending our happy moods from summer another 3 months...and it's a good thing because as the last leaf falls, things can get a bit dreary.
Failing to plan means planning to fail.
But NO WORRIES! Cristy and I are committed to seeing you through it all. Stick with us and this will be your healthiest holiday season yet!
Tips for Staying the Course at Social Gatherings
Often, people tend to feel your healthy food choices automatically make them inferior. They may assume you are judging them and you might be met with a good measure of snarkiness, and even hostility. A good way to get out of the “hot seat” is to say you are experimenting. People generally accept this and you all can move on. Some people may find it very interesting that you’ve made some changes and will be inspired to ask questions. You’ll find sharing your experience with these people easy breezy...be sure to observe them while you're talking and know when to shut’er down when their eyes start to glaze over.
When it comes to dining at a catered event or restaurant, you’ll be doing yourself a favor by calling ahead and/or checking the online menu. Explain that you have a limited diet and see what they can do for you. I have never had this conversation and been told…”Sorry, we don’t have anything for you to eat.” Chef’s are usually enthusiastic about offering a vegan dish or creating an entrée to meet your needs. And in a time when there are countless people suffering from food allergies, it’s just not that uncommon.
Bottom line...Ask for what you want ahead of time. It will save you in the long run and leave you to enjoy yourself and not cave into ordering “the usual” in order to avoid feeling like you're being difficult. You can find more tips on dining at restaurants and eating on the road in a blog post from the archive, Traveling Plant-Based.
Ok, you’ve got this thing coming up. If all else fails you can always eat beforehand. This will make it less likely to have a slip if you’re not actually starving when you arrive. Alternatively, you could pack food to leave in your car, excusing yourself periodically to chow down your veggie lo mein in the back seat along the floor boards. Look. It’s all doable, you just have to keep your eye on the ball. Revisit your goal and do what’s necessary to stay in alignment with that.
Celebration is usually what our social gatherings boil down to. The coming together to enjoy ourselves alongside others at weddings, birthdays, bowl games, office morale boosters, holidays, friendships, anniversaries, love...even funerals. Remembering this will shift your focus (obsession) away from the food.
There’s no such thing as “Everything in Moderation” or “Cheat Days”:
These are cleverly worded excuses for going off-the-wagon and can easily lead to getting back on the yo-yo diet hamster wheel. Look. We all slip. So if you screw it up, just call it what it is and move on with your life. Or better yet, make the decision that you’re going to eat off-plan and do it consciously, “I know this cheese is bad for me, but I’m going to eat it anyway.” That way, you’ve made a conscious choice that you can live with and not a mindless one that you berate yourself over the next few days. Simply start again with the next meal.
Not next Monday, not next month, or at the New Year. Start again with the next meal...this is one of the secrets. This is, in part, how it becomes a lifestyle and not just another diet.
Tips for Staying Plant-based at Social Gatherings
Decide ahead of time what you are not going to eat at the event. That way when the tray comes around, your automatic response is “No thank you.” The decision has already been made and you’re not caught off guard, left to wrestle with yourself over whether you should have that one piece of cheese or not. (By the way it will never end up being just one piece. How will you feel on the other side of this slip?) Some examples of a rule might be: I do not eat cheese., I do not eat fried foods., I do not eat dips made with dairy. I do not eat chips…..see what I mean? Just pick one or two rules around a trigger food that you know will save you the most sabotage.
How often are we engaging in conversation with people, yet the nearby food table is seducing us to refill our plates? Fill a small plate and get the hell outta dodge. Standing by the food table is simply putting yourself through some useless resistance training that, if you’re new to these changes, will likely inhibit your success. Find someone to talk with, elsewhere or go outside for some fresh air to take a break until you’re feeling stronger. This last one also applies when you're seated next to that special someone whose political position is wearing out your last nerve. Just sayin'.
This tip applies to informal parties and gatherings. Check with the host, if it’s appropriate, to give him or her a heads up that you’d like to bring a dish or two to pass. They will most likely be relieved to know they will not need to prepare something special for you. Some good examples of appetizers would be Cowboy Caviar, fresh salsa & chips or guacamole,
7 Layer Dip, vegan artichoke spinach dip, veggie or fruit tray...whatever it is you like to munch on, be sure to bring it! Chances are it will blend in with everything else on the table and everyone can enjoy.
I know, sometimes we drink just to get through these things. The problem is that the calories add up. Drinking alcohol loosens our inhibitions and impairs our judgement, enabling us to throw all our goals out the window for the time being. Even worse, when we are eating and drinking, our bodies use alcohol for fuel or energy FIRST, storing our food as fat to maybe or maybe not get to later. Try setting a 2 drink limit for yourself or better yet see if you can navigate this thing without a buzz. Chances are your discussions will be more meaningful and you’ll wake up feeling empowered and energized -sans the hangover- the next morning.
Or text. Or DM or PM, I don't care if you use ESP to reach out to someone who will support and help you stay accountable. It might look something like this..."HELP! I'm funneling the entire cheese tray into my jacket pockets!!" Just typing or saying it out loud should wake you out of your stupor...you'll put the cheese back on the tray and return to business as usual.
You've got this!!
New? Begin Your Plant-Based Journey HERE!
Try Vegan Meal Plan FREE!
I think that’s why I love this time of year. It’s the anticipation, or the getting ready, for a long winter’s nap.
I love a good nap.
I hope my anonymous donor will be so generous again this year.
1 kabocha squash (substitute butternut or acorn)
1 large leek, sliced or 1 sweet onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 small fennel bulb, cored and sliced or 1/2 tsp fennel seeds or 3 stalks celery, diced
¾ inch fresh ginger, peeled and chopped or 1/8-1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp oregano, dry or 2 tsp fresh
1 bay leaf
5 cups vegetable broth, low sodium or water
½ tsp salt
Black pepper, ground
1 cup Spicy Coconut Cream recipe (see recipe below)
1 ½ tsp fresh lemon juice
Agave nectar or maple syrup, to taste, optional
Spicy Coconut Cream Recipe:
1 can light coconut milk
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
Pinch of salt
⅛ tsp cayenne pepper
To make Spicy Coconut Cream: Whisk coconut milk, lemon juice, salt and cayenne pepper. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 400F. Line baking sheet with parchment and place whole squash in the oven and roast for 18-20 minutes. Allow to cool enough to handle. Cut in half and remove seeds. Return squash to parchment lined baking sheet, cut-sides down, and continue roasting until fork tender, usually an additional 40 minutes. Set aside until cool enough to handle. Scoop out squash and set aside.
- In a large soup pot, heat 1/4 cup water or vegetable broth over medium heat and sauté leeks or onion, oregano and garlic until soft, adding water or broth as needed to prevent sticking. Add fennel and ginger (see ingredients list for substitutions) and cook until fennel is soft and ginger is fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the roasted squash, bay leaf, remaining vegetable broth, salt and pepper and stir.
- Bring soup to low boil, cover and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Remove bay leaf. Stir in 1 cup Spicy Coconut Cream.
- Blend soup in batches, if necessary, until smooth and creamy. Return soup to cooking pot and bring to low simmer. Stir in lemon juice, drizzle of agave nectar or maple syrup, if using, and adjust seasonings to taste.
- Serve and garnish with reserved chopped fennel fronds or fennel seeds and drizzle of leftover Spicy Coconut Cream.
New? Begin your plant-based journey HERE!
Try Vegan Meal Plan FREE!
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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