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Archive for the ‘Nutrition’ Category

This blog has been on the back-burner, but I wanted to post it because there’s another new blog – Plant-Based On a Budget – so maybe “thrifty vegan” is a trending topic.

I thought it might be good to track a week’s worth of groceries. I did this partly because the groceries look delicious. I’m not sure my pictures do them justice, but feel free to feast your eyes. I also just had no idea how much things cost. It can be enlightening to simply track expenses. This seems to be an average week, but this isn’t intended to be scientific. Also note that there are two of us, about average-sized, both active with maybe two meals eaten out weekly. So what we find is a pretty solid distribution with about $150 total for the week’s groceries.

Beautiful vegan spreads for each day - click to bigify.

Does $150 make sense? The Census reports the cost of a “nutritious diet” on thrifty, low-cast, moderate, and liberal level. the “liberal” cost for “nutritious diet” for a family of two is just over $150 for 2009 and 2010. The “thirfty” plan for a…

Click to see weekly cost

family of two is only $80. Just with a quick adjustment, removing ProBars first, pre-made Whole Foods Lentil Soup, deluxe chips, deluxe orange juice, and hummus, the total plummets to just $83.07. Obviously one might swap some hummus with sprouts and add some lower-cost staples (beens, split peas, etc) to replace the calories from the ProBars (which is on the order of 6 days of calories). However, we also compare this diet with nearly no effort to reduce costs.

Jo notes that the census data indicate that a male and female living together spend about $25 more in food living together versus separately. “I guess married people do put on weight…”, she says. The census also reports average food costs. Oddly, they provide three kinds of meats and dairy, but nothing for lentils and beans, thus acknowledging no vegan alternative for protein intake.

In any case, this is a small sample size. A vegan diet, at least for us, is no budget-breaker, but it doesn’t seem super-cheap either.

Brussels sprouts, barbarian style, for maximum yum

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I read a fantastical assertion that vegetables have more protein than a burger. It wasn’t a reliable source, but it got me thinking and I did some research. Obviously it’s not so hard to get a healthy diet of protein, but is a vegetable diet really that much different than a meat diet for protein intake? Maybe there are some new perspectives to present to those hard-case protein lovers out there.

Physicians Committee on Responsible Medicine (PCRM) are a reputable group of doctors who have such publications as the Power Plate for overal diet and the Protein Myth to educate the public.  They were my first stop. The Protein Myth site provides the two most important piece of information: it’s not that hard to get a good diet of protein and protein overload is dangerous for a variety of reasons. Given this understanding of our nutritional needs, we should understand that protein-loading is intrinsically problematic.

But the purpose here is to compare protein content for meat vs vegetable products. The PCRM site and many others list only protein for a certain serving, like 15.2g of protein for 1 cup of black beans. That allows for serving-size comparisons, but it would be interesting to see what this great protein deficiency is. To find a good answer to this question, I turned to nutritiondata.com, a relatively reliable and unbiased site with a lot of great information.

protein content for selected foods - click for larger view

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5 Day Autumn Detox

I’m quite fond of my springtime detox, and was feeling a bit weighed down and sluggish as the season transitioned into Autumn. So I decided to do a little research into Autumn detoxes. None of them really appealed to me, so I decided to simply create one using warming veggies that are known to possess detoxification qualities. I wanted something easy on the digestion so I created some pureed and brothy soups from the list of detoxing veg — one of the reasons for embarking was to give my digestion a break, a reboot, a clear slate with which to renew itself. Plan it according to fasting day falling on a day where you can lounge, sleep, rest, read..whatever you do to relax. You don’t want to exert too much energy — mentally or physically — on fasting day. As with the springtime detox, I find fasting to be more successful when I tapper off the amount of food over a few days before fasting, then slowly ramping up portions over a few days when breaking the fast. You can choose to simply fast for 1.5 days up to 3 days.

As I went through this detox, I slept quite a bit (even before fasting day)..reduced the intensity of yoga I practiced, but still taught some tough classes which didn’t help the fatigue/weakness factor — and because of my teaching requirements, I broke the fast Day 5. The mind tried to talk me out of fasting midday on Day 4 (as it usually does when I fast), but my body was happy..so I persevered with the help of hot lemon water and chamomile tea. I did a walking meditation on Day 4 when I walked Mocha – a slow and abbreviated walk (maybe only 1/4 mile over the course of ~15 min). It was most enjoyable. 🙂  If you want to extend the number of fasting days beyond 1-1.5 days, I’d recommend also incorporating an herbal vegetable broth once a day (after a full single day of complete fasting) to keep nutrients coming in, without reigniting the digestive system.

Disclaimer: This is only meant as a way to give yourself a renewed sense of digestive health..NOT as a way to lose weight. As with any protocol that calls for fasting, please listen to your body (but be wary, the mind can play tricks..the body doesn’t lie). If you need to break the fast sooner than expected, break the fast gently. If you are pregnant, refrain from fasting. If you have any medical conditions, please consult a physician before embarking on this detox. Typically with detoxing, salt is recommended as to be avoided — however, if you have serious low blood pressure please include a minimal amount of salt during the detox/fast to avoid black-outs and such.

Day 1: [Eat normal portions for each meal.]

Breakfast: Cup of tea (options: Green, Herbal) + apple (or other autumn fruit) + oatmeal or handful of seeds (options: sunflower, pepitas)
Lunch & Dinner: Roasted Veg (choices: Brussels Sprouts, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Kale, Garlic, Onion, Artichokes, Beets) served with brown rice or quinoa and baby spinach salad (with baby tomatoes, carrots, seeds, drizzled with a small bit of cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil and lemon juice).
Afternoon Teatime: Red Rooibos or Chamomile tea (or a detox tea blend)
Evening Teatime: Chamomile, Red Rooibos, or Coconut Milk Chai using Rooibos tea

Day 2: [Normal portions at lunch, reducing the dinner portion to half of normal.]

Breakfast: Cup of tea (Green, Herbal, or Hot water+lemon wedge) + autumn fruit + handful of seeds
Lunch & Dinner: Butternut Squash-Cauliflower Soup [roast b. squash, onion, and puree with cauliflower. spices include: cumin, coriander, turmeric, cardamom. veg broth to desired consistency.] OR Potato-Broccoli-Kale Soup [broccoleek soup+kale] + green smoothie at one of the meals (to make things easier, buying a Naked or Odwalla Green Monster or SuperFood smoothie will suffice..unless you want to make your own green smoothies).
Afternoon Teatime: Herbal tea, Detox tea blend, or Dandelion Tea
Evening Teatime: Chamomile, Red Rooibos, or Coconut Milk Chai using Rooibos tea

Day 3: [Option to begin fasting after lunch.]

Breakfast: Cup of tea (Herbal or Hot water+lemon wedge) + glass of juice (if feeling you need some blood sugar love)
Lunch: leftover Day 2 Soup or Herbal Broth (veggie broth heated with herbs like turmeric, garlic, oregano, thyme, coriander)
Afternoon Teatime: Herbal tea, Detox tea blend, or Dandelion Tea
Dinner: optional to begin fasting and skip dinner, or perhaps just have a green smoothie or Herbal Broth for dinner if you had soup for lunch
Evening Teatime: Cup of Chamomile or other light herbal tea

Day 4: [Fasting Day]

Anytime you feel the need for tea or a snack, have some hot water with lemon, Chamomile, a fasting/detox blend (pending it doesn’t have caffeine). As mentioned before, listen to your body — rest, relax, restore. Your mind will try to tell you to break the fast.. “why am I doing this? just eat!” yada yada.. but your body will tell you the truth. If you’re experiencing migraines (not just a slight headache, that is common), severe nausea (not just mild upset stomach), or black-outs, BREAK THE FAST with some light herbal broth or a smoothie.

Day 5: [Option to continue fast or reintroducing food.]

If continuing to fast, have a small bowl of herbal broth midday, then continue as Day 4 and use Day 5 as a guide for when you break the fast. I wouldn’t recommend fasting for more than 3-5 days — and always listen to your body and break when your body needs it. Don’t reintroduce too much food at once..go slow!
Morning Teatime: Hot water with lemon or any light herbal tea + glass of juice (if breaking the fast)
Lunch (about 1.5 C serving): Herbal Soup (see Day 3) + green smoothie
Afternoon Teatime: Herbal tea, Detox tea blend, Dandelion Tea, or Nettle Tea + apple
Dinner: Small portion of any leftover Day 2 soup, or Herbal Soup with the addition of peas or any leftover veg+rice/quinoa from day 1
Evening Teatime: Chamomile or Coconut Milk Chai using Rooibos tea

As with the Springtime detox, focus on calm breathing, positive thoughts, rest, and getting in touch with the change of the seasons. Autumn is a great time to reflect on seeds which we plant for a bountiful harvest in the spring, to let go of the high-heat energy of summer and linger in a slower-paced, mellow energy, to reflect on that which we should let go/release the way the trees release the leaves that no longer serve the health of the tree.

Happy Fasting!

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So we all think about Spring Cleaning our houses or apartments…but lest we forget to Spring Clean our own bodies – the temple in which we continuously inhabit regardless of where our brick and mortar resides. Here’s a few recipes from posts-past that provide a little detoxification of the body, for which Springtime is the most apropos.

If you have the time, the 4-day Springtime Detoxifying Cleanse is absolutely wonderful! As is fresh fruit…tons of fresh fruit!

For just a quick kick into purification, Teatime: Rosey Detox is a simple and easy way to get a minor flushing…and with just a cup, I do mean minor. But every little bit helps, right?!

And for the smoothie-inclined, and with Farmer’s Markets beginning to appear throughout the South (it may take a few more weeks for those further North)..check out the Pineapple-Cherry Pick-Me-Up! This smoothie provides the slightest hint of detoxing properties, plus it gives you a nice boost of energy to make it through the day! 🙂

And complete the cleansing with some new external products to keep the outside as purified as the inside..Arbonne Seasource Detoxifying Kit!

Happy Spring Cleaning!

On This Day In History: Nacho Salad

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Summer is in full swing, as exemplified by the rising temperatures and the rising hemlines. July, August, these are months that make you wish you lived under the sea where the water is always cool and little crabs orchestrated a calypso band (Little Mermaid reference for those not with me). So what is a young, health-conscious lady (or gent) to do to maintain their inner-cool?

As temperatures rise, we are all warned of the risk on the elderly and athletes about heat stroke and heat stress, but obviously this can affect anyone of any age. Heat stress occurs if physical activity during heat and humidity upsets the body’s fluid balance. The body must maintain it’s ability to dissipate heat through perspiration, and as air temperature and humidity increase, the body’s ability to do this is lowered. No to mention that higher temperatures result in a higher core temperature as the body absorbs heat from the sun.

The mildest form of heat-related illness is swelling. Blood pooling in the hands and feet occur when the blood vessels dilate in response to the heat. Another symptom is heat cramps, painful spasms of the skeletal muscles in the arms, legs, and abdomen. Heat syncope, or fainting, occurs with prolonged standing or upon sudden rising from a seated position. If too much sodium is removed from the body via sweat/perspiration, cramps occur. All of these are warning signs of heat exhaustion (so take heed of these symptoms and listen to your body). Heat exhaustion occurs is a person experiences excessive sweating in a hot, humid environment, and fluids become depleted. Profuse sweating can occur even after the person is moved to a cooler location, and there may be several hours to several days of appetite loss, chills, dizziness, hypotension, racing pulse, muscular weakness, nausea, vomiting and visual disturbances.

One herbal remedy to help milder cases of heat stress include bitter orange tea (Citrus aurantium), which helps maintain electrolyte balance. Avoid sport’s drinks which are loaded with sugar and actually place additional fluid stress on the body. Bitter orange tea (aka Bergamot orange, otherwise known as Earl Grey or Bergamot tea) can also help prevent heat stress in those individuals who suffer from hypertension. Drink the tea whenever heat stress is a possibility – if you can find the herb itself, though it’s more common to find it in capsule form at your local hippie-mart. And my personal favorite, cayenne powder. Now, the recommendation is to dissolve 1/2 tsp in 1 C boiling water, then take 1 TBSP of the mixture with 1 C hot water – drink slowly. Not everyone may find this enjoyable, so spicy food is acceptable too. This relieves headache and fever, and induces gustatory sweating. Of course, chili peppers only increase perspiration if it is hot outside, but have no effect on perspiration if it is cold out. Ergo, eating a spicy meal in Texas in July causes greater perspiration, but the same meal consumed in Alaska in January will have no effect on perspiration.

It’s important to sip cool, slightly salty liquids if you experience symptoms of heat stress. Do not try to force down large quantities of liquid. You also want to lie down in a shaded place, preferably with your feet elevated higher than your head.
You also want to drink plenty of fluids before work or exercise in heat, not to mention during and after. Before exercise, the amount of sodium can be obtained through consumption of salty foods – though this doesn’t mean greasy fries or potato chips, think lightly salted roasted veg and rice or add a some salt to a fruit smoothie. One teaspoon of salt added to one quart of water supplies enough sodium to avoid cramps.

Some medications can increase susceptibility to heat stress, such as alcohol, amphetamines, antidepressants, seizure meds, illicit drugs, allergy medication, and others. So check with your doctor if you are on any medication to find out if you are susceptible based on your medication.

*Of note: If the core temperature reaches 105°F (40.5°C) or more, this is considered heat stroke and is a medical emergency. At this point, internal production of heat exceeds the heat-relieving capacity of perspiration, and sweating ceases. Disorientation, irregular heartbeat, and seizures may occur, and there is an increased risk of heat attack and stroke. Heat stroke is more common in older individuals who stay indoors in buildings without air conditioning during heat waves, but is more severe if it is caused by athletic activity in extreme heat. If symptoms of heat stroke occur, seek immediate medical attention.

Happy Summer!
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With the onset of summer, it’s the neverending story of activities. Going to the Farmer’s Market and the dog park, weekends at the lake/beach, tending the garden, attending the ballet, exercising to keep that bathing suit body, evening walks, not to mention the kids being out of school and constantly needing attention. It exhausts me just typing out all these items. So how can you keep your energy up without filling your body with unhealthy stimulates like caffeine or calorically damaging items like sugar? Here’s a list of fruits and veg that will keep your energy boosted, while keeping your wallet and waistline in check.fruit salad

Fruits:

apples
bananas
grapefruit
raspberries
peaches
nectarines
pearsSpringPastaSalad
pineapple

Veg:

potatoes
pulses
corn
peas
carrots

Other:dinnersalad

chickpeas
kidney beans
sunflower seeds
almonds
brewer’s yeast
rice
whole wheat flour
rice bran
wheatgerm

When you’re on the go, carry a small snack baggie of almonds, hazelnuts, and/or sunflower seeds to nibble on throughout the day to keep yourself filled. (But beware of overconsumption of nuts can cross the fat-intake threshold.) Another good item that travels nicely in a small baggie in the purse: baby carrots or granola! And of course, nature’s original fast food: the apple 😉

italianquinoa2Start the day with filling, yet glycemic-index friendly items to avoid the sugar crash inducing a noshfest at lunch. Try dishes like Whole Wheat Waffles, Tender Chickpea Pancakes, Fruehstueck, or Oat Surprise Muffins. Eat meals like Roasted Veggies over brown rice, Spring Pasta Salad, or Italian Herb & Veg Quinoa for lunch; Replenish your body with dinners like Spinach and Chickpea Salad, Nacho Salad, or Minestrone. And of course, after all that activity, you definitely deserve a treat. Try a blueberry tart (but using raspberries), orange push-up sorbet, or Jamaican pineapple tango sorbet.

blueberry tart5

Have a fruit salad in between meals to keep you satisfied during those busy, action-filled days.eve's pink peach2

Smoothies are another great way to boost energy/fight fatigue and level out the blood sugar in one fail swoop. Try Eve’s Pink Peach or She’s my Cherry No-Pie juice.

Hope this helps your body keep up with your to-do lists!
Happy Summer!

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Remember, the three key words for any slayer, and in this case detoxer, ‘preparation, preparation, preparation.’ Having a well mapped-out plan will make a detox go much smoother and more enjoyable. The upside, you get to eat as much as you can stand on days 1 and 2. This sounds great, in theory. By the end of day 1, you’ll be sick of the site of vegetables..and by the end of day 2, fruits will be your nemesis. But trust me, you will feel so good and clean come day 4 that’ll you be so happy you forced this minor disruption in your daily life. Planning ahead is a must! You want to be able to let your mind rest, so having a menu planned prior to starting will make things simpler. You want to plan to do this on a 4-day set, where day 3 will fall on a day you can relax and lounge around – no major activities, no stresses. I realize in this fast-paced, active world it’s hard to just take a day to relax. Again, trust me, your body and mind will thank you for a day off. Detoxing is about more than just eliminating toxins from the body; for me it’s also about eliminating toxic thoughts and feelings from yourself as well. Stress, including stressful thoughts and feelings, causes hormonal release that is antithetical to the cleansing process. Detoxing is dependent upon optimal function of the liver. You want to focus on positivity, thus allowing the liver to function to eliminate the toxins that have been stored deep in your cells, instead of fresh stressors and hormones being released during the detox caused by stressful and negative emotions.

Day 1: Veggies day – Raw or mostly raw…only lightly steamed (preferable) or cooked. The idea is to have as minimally cooked food as possible ingested. It’s okay to have an apple or a banana, but try to have only veggies. You’ll be able to have fruit on day 2, all you can stand..and believe me, by the end of the day you won’t want to see a vegetable and you’ll be thankful for fruit day. One would think that as a vegan, an all-veggie day would be easy and delicious. I do have to say, it’s harder than you’d think..so preparation will make it manageable. You must omit traditional vegan staple foods like beans, breads, grains, veggies that take extensive cooking like potatoes, as well as oils that you would normally cook them in. I like to make a big bowl of a raw vegetable medley – like a fruit salad, but with veggies. I like tomatoes, red and yellow bell pepper, baby spinach, fresh green beans, carrots, cucumbers, with some lightly steamed broccoli – but any veg you like raw (zucchini, or that can be steamed in under 5 minutes like the broccoli will be acceptable. I also carry around a bag of baby carrots for a quick and crunchy munchie. You can use spices like garlic, cayenne, etc..but try not to use to much salt, if any. If you need a cuppa, try to keep it caffeine-free, such as a rooibus or herbal tea. Also, try to drink tea that you don’t have to sweeten – or use a natural sweetener like stevia leaves or just a tiny bit of nectar. I don’t really eat a ‘breakfast’ on day 1, just have a cup of peppermint tea…then start in on eating the ‘veggie salad’ once I begin to feel hungry. **If you suffer from hypoglycemia, and are worried about having a crash on day 1, you can include a glass of juice among your beverages.

Day 2: Fruits Only – I find it easiest to make a giant fruit salad and eat on it all day. You can also have smoothies, as long as they are fruit only – no yogurt or other additives that you might normally include (wheatgerm, flaxseed, brewer’s yeast, etc). Again, if you need tea, keep it caffeine-free (rooibus, herbal).

Day 3: Fasting day – When you wake, have a cup of herbal tea and a glass of juice, not smoothie (orange and grapefruit, apple, whatever). Relax, take a nap, stay warm – no heavy activity. In the afternoon, have another cup of herbal tea (chamomile, peppermint, nettle, or sage). In the evening, have a cup of sleepy tea (valerian or chamomile) and another glass of juice. You may experience light headaches and/or light nausea on day 3 – that’s normal (a cup of thyme or peppermint tea will help with that). It’s just the toxins being released into circulation to be eliminated. The more toxins in your body, the worse these symptoms will be. If you eat more processed foods, meat, and/or dairy, or live in a more polluted environment – these things can create a greater storage of toxins in the body. Another thing you’ll notice as the toxins are released is the whitening of your tongue. Again, this is normal.

Day 4: Return to food – Upon waking, have a glass of juice or a smoothie. You want to start light, perhaps some toast or a piece of fruit. Then, for lunch, have something light like tomato or potato and/or butternut soup, even a brothy soup like vegetable noodle. You want to avoid heavy things like beans or sweets. You won’t be able to eat much for the next few days, and when you do eat you’ll notice that you want it to be something good for you. You’ll also notice that your portions will be smaller than normal. You’re going to feel so good, you’ll want to start doing this every spring like I do. You’ll be amazed at how aware you become of the things you eat, and the toxins we put in our bodies on a daily basis – even if you already consider yourself super healthy.

I suppose this goes without saying, but I suppose I should just to be thorough – DRINK TONS OF WATER DURING THE DETOX!

If you are on any medications for various health conditions, please consult a physician before commencing any type of detox or cleanse. This is not a way to lose weight, though you might see some water weight reduction afterwards. Please be smart when embarking on such an endeavor as a cleanse/detoxification.

Happy Detoxing!

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