Archive for the ‘Nutrition Challenges’ Category

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A Celebration of National Pomegranate Month and POM Juice Giveaway

November 18, 2009

This is turning into Giveaway Wednesdays or something, but I’m sure no one’s really complaining… 😉 Besides, the father dear is arriving home today from his life in Cambodia for just two weeks (exciting!!!), so I feel the need to share the happiness by spreading the pomegranate-giveaway love!

POM Wonderful is celebrating National Pomegranate Month by offering to do a giveaway for three Living Healthy in the Real World readers. Pomegranates are little bundles of health and they’re so very pretty. POM Wonderful is hosting a recipe contest, and as I’m interested in experimenting with pomegranates in the kitchen, I thought I might have some fun with it. You all know how much I get a kick out of cooking/baking. These are two recipes that I have invented which I believe are gloriously tasty. Try them and tell me what you think!

Pomegranate Salad Dressing

Combine 1 peeled mandarin orange, 1 tbsp each cider vinegar and grape seed oil, 1/4 cup pomegranate arils, and a sprinkle each of salt and pepper in a blender. Blend and enjoy over salad! This is really yummy and has a strong vinegar flavour which I quite enjoy- it would be perfect for a summery salad. It’s also a beautiful pink colour. Feel free to add more pomegranate arils for enhanced fruitiness. I’ve also had the suggestion to add some mustard into the mix, which I think would be delicious, so next time I will certainly be trying that out. My roommate raved about this dressing, so that’s always a good sign.

Peanut Butter Pomegranate Brownies

Sound a little odd? Why yes, yes it is! But it’s also delicious. This is something I used to make a couple years ago, but without the pomegranate arils. When I tasted the POMx bars in California, I remembered these brownies and decided to try adding the arils- the bars and this homemade brownie are remarkably similar in taste and texture!

There are a couple variations on this recipe that I’ve made, mostly because PB2 and chocolate protein powder are things that I don’t include in recipes when other people are going to be eating the food. I’ll give you my favourite healthified version first, and the adapted (and easier) version second:

Soak 1/2 cup dates (roughly 12) in water for about an hour. Throw them in a food processor (without the water) and add 1/8 cup pomegranate arils. Pulse the dates/pomegranate arils until they’re in little chunky pieces. Mix up 1/2 cup PB2 with 1/4 cup water and add the PB2 mixture to the dates. Then add 1/8 cup NutriBiotic Vegan Chocolate Rice Protein Powder to the mixture as well. Pulse it all in the food processor until it is mixed up and clumped together. Spoon into a small dish and press down. Refrigerate or freeze and enjoy!

Easier version: Put 1/2 cup soaked dates in a food processor along with 1/8 cup pomegranate arils and pulse until they’re in small pieces. Add 1/2 cup all-natural peanut butter and 1/8 cup cocoa powder to the mixture and pulse until it’s all mixed together well; refrigerate/freeze.

I’m not going to lie, the first version is much tastier. And it’s got added protein and healthy goodness! However, both PB2 and this chocolate rice protein powder are quite expensive, and they’re also very difficult to find. The second version is still worth it, trust me. Unless you accidentally put twice as much cocoa powder into the mixture as the recipe calls for. I advise against that. Especially if you’re making the brownie for someone else (whoops, my bad). If that happens, you can frost this brownie with Better ‘n Peanut Butter and do a poor decorating job with a few pomegranate arils. Not that I would have done that, of course (damn, my secret is out).

My third favourite “recipe” for using pomegranate arils is to put some in the bottom of a champagne flute, add good quality champagne, and drink. Tastiness in a glass.

To enter to win a case of POM juice, I want to hear your favourite ways to use pomegranate arils/juice. Do you have any special ways that you use them? Do you have any suggestions for how my recipes mentioned here can be improved? If you have a really awesomely innovative/creative/delicious/healthy idea, your chances of being picked as winner might just increase a wee bit. There’s your motivation! Giveaway is for Canada/USA; winner announced one week from today (Wednesday, November 25).

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The 21 Foods List: Revamped

October 30, 2009

I asked and you answered. Thanks to everyone for your ideas with the 21 Foods List! Here it is, revamped; these are all the foods that I plan on making over the next year before my 22nd birthday, all of them from scratch and without the aid of bread makers/pasta machines etc:

1. Perogies

2. Pasta

3. Cinnamon buns

4. Jam

5. Marshmallows

6. Gnocchi

7. Baked donuts

8. Graham crackers

9. Cheesecake

10. Bagels

11. Pickles

12. English Muffins

13. Paella

14. Roasting a turkey

15. Nut butter

16. Yogurt

17. Pesto

18. Pate

19. Vegetable stock

20. Pita bread

21. Baklava

A couple others which I want to try but might not get accomplished this year, from your suggestions, are to make coffee, duck (I’m not sure how I’d prepare this- but the idea of tackling Peking duck is so intriguing and would be such a great challenge!), and lavender soup. At the beginning of October, as I was happily indulging in a square of layer cake that my awesome new roommate’s mum made, it crossed my mind that to make a layer cake would be another good one to add to this list. Therefore, I’m adding layer cake as a “bonus” bullet point to my 21 Foods List.

I have already crossed two off my list: roasting a turkey and making vegetable stock. They both turned out amazingly well! I roasted the turkey for Thanksgiving dinner with my mum looking on (following her directions- no one would trust me to bring along my own recipe because I’d likely try to “healthify” it and thus ruin it ;)), and I used a recipe from The Veganomicon for the vegetable stock. Both were simple and easy to do. There’s hardly anything to roasting a turkey! I was pleasantly surprised at the glorious simplicity of such a delicious dish (and, as my mum noted, if you’re using a butterball turkey like we do every holiday, it’s really just the combination of fat and salt that makes it. David Kessler, anyone?).

With the vegetable stock, the key is to use the “leftovers” from veggies. I threw in all of the ends of carrots and stumps of celery that are inedible (I saved them over the course of about a week), and besides that, the recipe just calls for one chopped onion, less than 1 tbsp of olive oil, and a pile of garlic. Delicious. It worked perfectly in my favourite split pea soup recipe. I’ve seen a lot of recipes to make vegetable stock which call for using a ton of vegetables, and I think it took me this long to make my own broth because I didn’t want to waste so many vegetables. But if you use the stumps, cores, peels etc that you wouldn’t eat anyways, vegetable stock becomes an incredibly economical and healthy dish. The best part about it, too, is that it only needs to simmer for a couple hours (throwing the veggies in with the water takes all of about 3 minutes), and it’s not overflowing with sodium! Even vegetable stocks that say “reduced salt” on them at the grocery store tend to have oodles of salt in them, so it’s nice to have that kind of control to ensure that there is either no salt, or very little, added to the homemade variety.

If you have any recipes for the above items on my 21 Foods List, please do send them my way. I’d love to try them out!

Also, for those of you who have been asking, here is my delicious bean ball recipe (click on link for more ideas for the best ways to eat them and for substitutions if you don’t have some of the ingredients readily available):

Energizing Protein-packed Bean Balls

Ingredients
1 can red kidney beans (rinsed and drained to remove any excess sodium)
2 heaping tbsp homemade ketchup (recipe below)
1 tbsp water
2 cloves garlic, minced finely
A few squirts of lemon juice
5 tbsp wheat germ
4 tbsp flaxseed meal
2 tbsp whole wheat flour
1 tbsp hemp seeds
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried thyme

Directions
1. Preheat the oven to 375 F.

2. Mash the kidney beans in a mixing bowl so that there are still some chunks of beans. Add the rest of the ingredients and use a spoon to mix everything together until it is well combined.

3. Roll the bean mixture into small balls. You should get between about 20 and 30 balls.

4. Spread parchment paper on a baking sheet. Place the balls on the sheet and spray them with some olive oil. Bake for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned on the bottom, then flip them and bake for another 10 minutes.

To make the ketchup: Combine 1 can tomato paste, 2 tbsp water, 1 tbsp agave nectar (or honey), 1/4 tsp sea salt, 1/4 tsp cumin, 1/8 tsp whole grain mustard, 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1/8 tsp ground cloves and 2 tbsp cider vinegar. Refrigerate until use.

Don’t forget to enter my giveaway for Taza Chocolate!

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Interview with a Raw Food Vegan

October 26, 2009

A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to meet with a vegan raw foodist who lives in my city. We got together at my favourite cafe and wound up spending three hours chatting excitedly about health and nutrition. The time flew by and I’m sure we could have easily continued talking for the next three hours, swapping stories and ideas and research. It was one of the best possible ways to spend a Friday afternoon.

I went to our little interview knowing very little about the raw food lifestyle. I’ve learned some from reading Hanlie’s blog (she of the motto “Eat Produce, Not Products” that I adore), but aside from that, I knew virtually nothing. I’ve learned over the past couple years that many people in the medical profession don’t know much about nutrition, and that people who are interested and passionate in nutrition and health can be better informed than doctors or registered dietitians. Some experts in the field, such as Janel and Nicole and Gina, give fantastic advice and are incredibly knowledgeable. But I find that sometimes “experts” in health aren’t interested in considering alternative nutrition plans or working with what individuals feel comfortable with, and this is highly problematic. That is why I found it so refreshing to meet with Amanda and hear her views on raw foodism.

Amanda has a background in science from some of her university studies and she shares my passion for health and nutrition. She has been vegan for two years and a raw food vegan for one and a half years. Her 15-month-old son is also a raw food vegan, and her husband has just started this plan within the past month. The reasons why a person might choose a raw food diet are numerous, but one of Amanda’s reasons for it is because the living enzymes have a stronger nutrient content than cooked food.

The raw food diet creates even more controversy than the vegan diet. Some say that raw diets are very healthy; others say that raw diets are completely ridiculous and unnatural. I’m doing my best to keep an open mind when it comes to health and nutrition, and so I’m very interested in learning about alternative nutrition plans. My position on the nutrient content of raw vs. cooked food places more of an emphasis on balance: for many foods, the nutrient content might not necessarily be better or worse if the food is cooked or uncooked, but the nutrient content is different depending on how the food is prepared (raw or cooked- and if it’s cooked, the way it is cooked also has a dramatic impact).

A few years ago, if someone asked me what I thought about vegetarianism, I would have likely scoffed and said that being an omnivore is the most well-rounded, healthy way to eat. Once I learned more about vegetarianism, I came to the conclusion that if done correctly, it can be very healthy. After that, the issue of veganism came up; I was convinced that veganism is not a healthy option and that it is deficient in many nutrients. After my month-long vegan experiment, I realized that I’d been wrong: if done correctly, veganism, too, can be very healthy.

During my vegan challenge, I joked to others that I was thinking about trying out a raw food diet. The most common response from others was, “Ew. Really? Don’t do that. It’s not healthy.”

But I’ve learned my lesson, after my initial presumptions about vegetarianism and veganism. I’ve learned that most of the time, if we think that a diet/lifestyle is unhealthy, it’s because we do not know much about it. Being able to speak to Amanda was wonderful because I learned so much about the concept of a raw food diet.

I would now like to pose a question to everyone who maintains that raw food is “not healthy”: is the way that most people eat now, with eating some kind of processed food from grocery stores every day, “healthy”?

Even if the “processed” foods are things like loaves of bread, which most people would not consider to be all that processed, is it really “healthy” for us when we don’t know what half the ingredients are? We don’t have to chow down on bags of chips and fast food to still be eating food that isn’t healthy. I recently gave a speech for one of my classes about the misleading claims on nutrition labels, and I found it fascinating that a loaf of bread from the Safeway bakery counter contained 43 ingredients and half a dozen kinds of sugar, whereas if you bake bread yourself, you’ll use about five well-known ingredients with one kind of sugar. To me, that’s not healthy, if we eat bread which contains ingredients we don’t recognize.

Amanda told me that people concerned with her raw food vegan lifestyle never once approached her with concern when she ate processed foods. It wasn’t until she took an interest in nutrition and began to eat really healthy that the people around her began questioning her choices.

I found this interesting because the same sort of thing has happened for me. I went through junior high without anyone batting an eyelash at my intake of trans fatty packaged sunflower seeds, microwavable popcorn, Subway sandwiches, Slurpees, and KitKat bars. When I made the effort to lose a bit of excess weight and was eating Special K vanilla crisp bars and Cup-a-soups every day, people were still supportive of me. However, choosing to forego processed food as much as possible has led to an uproar of disapproval. It boggles the mind. Can anyone explain this phenomenon to me? Because I do not understand it. “Live a little! Enjoy yourself! You don’t have to be healthy all the time!” Well, guess what: I don’t have to eat crap all the time, either.

I believe very strongly that we can all benefit from eating natural, real, whole foods, and that each one of us should experiment with different foods to see what kind of diet best suits us as individuals. We’re all human, so we’re going to have a lot of stumbling blocks and obstacles in our way, but that’s part of what’s so great about it: the constant challenge means that we’re always given another chance to try again and make progress and learn what is best for our bodies and build a better relationship with them.

Amanda has clearly found that being a raw food vegan works for her. She used to wear glasses but no longer needs them. Her skin is clear, she has bundles of energy, and she emits a healthy glow (I sound like an infomercial here, but it’s true! I haven’t seen many people who look as healthy as her). Sometimes vegans and raw foodists have a sort of emaciated look to them, but Amanda has an inspiringly energetic, healthy look to her. She says that her son is equally as healthy and that her immune system has strengthened over the past couple years, too.

One of the common myths of a raw food diet is the length of time it takes to prepare and make food. However, Amanda told me that she can make food in five to 20 minutes, and she used to spend a couple hours each day cooking up healthy meals (just like I currently do- making things from scratch is rewarding but can be very time-consuming!). She has also found that the raw food diet is very cost-effective. She now spends less money on food for three people than they used to spend when there was just her and her husband.

“Raw food is a lifestyle, not a religion,” Amanda told me. I really loved that attitude. If Winnipeg doesn’t appear to be very accommodating for vegans, it is not a raw-friendly city at all. Because of that, a raw food vegan is going to run up against some difficulties in maintaining a wholly raw food diet. This is particularly true because there are no regulations for the label “raw” on food products. All a person can do, if they are interested in adopting a raw food lifestyle, is try to eat as raw as possible but allow that there are going to be a small percentage of meals that will not be raw.

I plan on trying a (virtually 100%) raw food diet for a month, but I think I’ll be waiting until January to do it- right now, things are a little too busy to jump into it completely. Over the next couple months I’ll be doing more research and trying out meals to slowly incorporate a few raw meals into my diet to make the transition a little smoother. A dehydrator and a food processor are two of the best kitchen tools when making the transition to a raw food diet, so I’m going to see if I can borrow those two tools from the mother dear and play with them before I try a raw food diet.

If you’d like to read more about the topic in the meantime, here are some interesting articles arguing both for and against a raw food lifestyle:

The Science Behind Raw Food

Raw Food Life

Is Raw Food More Nutritious?

My personal thoughts, at this stage, are that there appear to be health benefits to a raw food diet, but it might not be for everyone, and if someone were to try it out, they should definitely do their research to ensure that they are consuming a variety of nutrients. I also think that there are health benefits to cooked foods. We should, however, keep an open mind to all kinds of different approaches to healthy diets and lifestyles, and seek to learn more about them before we make wild assumptions about the positive or negative effects.

What do you think of the raw food diet and lifestyle? How much do you know about it? Would you be willing to learn more about it? I’m sure that there is a wide range of strong opinions on this subject and I want to hear all of your thoughts!

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Shifting perspectives

October 2, 2009

The Vegan Challenge may be over, but the effects of it are still lingering, for me, at least.

I’ve decided to go back to my omnivoric ways, the same as I intended before beginning the vegan challenge. There will be a few changes, however; I’ll be cutting out dairy from now on as much as possible. I didn’t miss it during the challenge and although I believe there are plenty of valuable nutrients in dairy, for my body it doesn’t sit very well. I’ll keep drinking my ridiculously over-priced unsweetened Almond Breeze instead of milk. Bean spreads and mustard can be used for sandwich spreads rather than cream cheese. There’s always cheezy sauce made with nutritional yeast, too!

I’m going to incorporate eggs back into my diet and some meat very occasionally. This challenge has allowed me plenty of time to consider my likes and dislikes, and I’ve figured out that for the most part I don’t care much for chicken or pork. They’re usually rather bland meats that take on the flavours of whatever they’re cooked with (much like tofu!). I think I’d rather eat really good quality bison or salmon for my animal flesh intake than meats which are mediocre to my taste buds.

One thing that we can all take away from this challenge is the immense range of possibilities. There are a million options out there! As Bag Lady pointed out a couple days ago, there’s nothing wrong with animal ingredients being used for so many products, but it’s good to know that there are ways to get around it if we so choose.

The Vegan Challenge also demonstrates how much we rely on animals. There are ways to get around the animal ingredients, but for the most part it’s a hassle to find vegan options. That, to be honest, is the main reason why I’m choosing not to remain vegan: convenience.

It is very inconvenient to be vegan (if you’re avoiding everything related to animals, including honey or foods that “may contain traces of milk ingredients”). Going to restaurants is a nuisance because unless you go to a specialty restaurant, it’s difficult to gauge which meals are vegan. Some of the vegan variations on foods- such as nutritional yeast cheezy sauce- might not be enjoyed by people who aren’t used to eating it, so if you’re cooking dinner for other people but you’re vegan you have to take those things into account.

To be a healthy vegan requires a lot of time-consuming food preparation and cooking; far more so than to be a healthy everything-tarian (how many labels do you think we can make to accommodate for a variety of diets? Cheese-less vegetarians, meatarians-minus-the-chicken… I think I’m just having fun making up words now). I adore cooking and I like to plan my meals in advance, but other priorities take precedence over cooking for several hours every day. Also, spontaneous offers to sample food are fun. Any time over the past month that people offered me food, I usually couldn’t accept it because it wasn’t vegan. Travel, of course, would be a major hindrance with this! I can’t imagine how many headaches that would cause, traveling around the world and being barely able to convey the basics with language barriers, without the problems of describing vegan needs.

Stumbling Blocks

The first couple days of the Vegan Challenge were tricky simply because I’d forget. I came very close to using my Burt’s Bees Lip Balm out of habit and had to eventually hide it in a drawer. I didn’t crave eggs, which surprised me a lot, but a few times I felt dissatisfied with what I’d eaten. I’m pretty sure it was the lack of nutrients that I’d normally find in animal products. Since I discovered how tasty beans are, though, that problem hasn’t arisen. Instead I have a newfound obsession with beanballs. Possibly partly because it’s an amusing word to say.

What’s next?

I like the idea of adopting a mostly vegan lifestyle (there I go again with the labels. Us rhetoricians like to have terms to identify with ;)). I’m going to try that out and have meat on special occasions or when I’m out with other people, for the convenience factor and so that I can get the fabulously accessible nutrients from meat products. Although there are plenty of nutrients in plant-based foods, they aren’t always so easily accessible: our bodies don’t process them as well as animal products, so we have to pay more attention to getting a well-rounded diet if it’s mostly vegan.

As a point of interest, my friend Ted also adopted a vegan diet over this month. It sounds as though it was hell for him. He really likes cheese. And I don’t think he enjoys cooking very much. What works for one person does not necessarily work for another!

Next week I really will start posting about other health issues besides nutrition and veganism. Here’s to a healthy weekend!

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My eats for the last day of the Vegan Challenge

October 1, 2009

Yesterday I ate:

– 1 slice multigrain toast with a few beanballs spread across, plus some raspberries on the side

– 1 bowl of steel-cut oats using 1/4 cup dried oats (I’m not sure how much it “fluffs up” in the cooking process), 1 banana, cinnamon, 1 tbsp PB2, 1/2 tbsp chocolate protein powder, a couple splashes unsweetened vanilla Almond Breeze, 1 tsp hemp seeds, 1/2 scoop calcium/magnesium powder

– 1 piece of Taza dark chocolate (review to come in the next couple weeks!)

– 2 apples with about half a dozen beanballs and 1 tbsp almonds

– Chocolate milkshake: 1 frozen banana, 1 cup unsweetened chocolate Almond Breeze, 1/2 tbsp chocolate protein powder, 2 tbsp PB2, 1/2 tbsp each wheat germ and flaxseed meal, kale. This is the perfect post-workout snack!

– 1 Alexander Keith’s and a bowl of the sisterrommate’s delicious chili

Happy Birthday to the mother dear! She’s 33 today.

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Vegan Challenge Recap

September 30, 2009

Yesterday I ate:

– 1/2 banana with almond butter and small handful fresh raspberries

– Bowl of steel cut oats with a half scoop calcium/magnesium powder, 1 tsp chocolate protein powder, 2 tsp PB2, 1/2 banana, cinnamon, and a splash of unsweetened vanilla Almond Breeze. I had never had steel cut oats before. Now I know why everyone raves about them!

– A few sunflower seeds and a sandwich with 2 slices multigrain bread, mustard, hummus, 3 Tofurky slices, green pepper, broccoli sprouts, and delicious tomatoes from Westwood’s garden

– 1 apple, carrot sticks, 1 tbsp almonds and a couple beanballs

– Shiritaki noodles with black bean salsa (I used the recipe in Tosca Reno’s Eat Clean Diet for the Family as a guideline and discovered that I really do enjoy black beans when they are mixed in with other flavourful ingredients), and 1/2 banana plus 1 fig with almond butter for dessert

– Bowl of air-popped popcorn (a real single-portion-sized amount! Victory once again).

The Vegan Challenge comes to a close

Today is the last day of the vegan challenge. The very last day! I’m not sure quite how I feel about that.

Let’s recap what we set out intending to learn back at the beginning of the month, shall we?

1. Spreading awareness about animal products

From lip balm to toothpaste to alcohol to condiments to pasta, animal ingredients seem to lurk everywhere. Some restaurants were nearly impossible to eat at; the people who worked at Cafe 22 couldn’t even promise that their salad dressing was vegan. Consequently, I was unable to have anything other than an Alexander Keith’s beer and a “salad” (aka romaine lettuce with tomato chunks) for dinner that particular evening.

But the interesting thing is that even though there are animal ingredients in so many of our products, there are also many products which do not *have* to have animal ingredients in them. I found vegan versions of lip balm, toothpaste, alcohol, condiments (well those I like to make myself at home), and pasta. Sometimes it required extra effort on my part to really hunt down these products, but they’re out there. This leads me to wonder why it’s so necessary for us to use animal products at all. If animal ingredients aren’t necessary to make toothpaste, why don’t we stop using them and use plant-based ingredients instead? Or is this even an issue that needs to be brought up? You tell me. Does it bother you at all that there are animal ingredients lingering in nearly everything we put in our mouths? Is it a bad thing or does it not really matter?

2. Decrease my carbon footprint

As I noted earlier in the month, I eat plenty of foods which make my carbon footprint the size of a small country, I’m sure. Fresh fruit and PB2 are the big ones, I think. Eating “meat replacers” such as Tofurky defeats the purpose a little bit because it’s still contributing to a larger carbon footprint, what with all of the manufacturing and packaging that goes on behind the scenes. Even so, eating a meat-free (and egg-free, and dairy-free…) diet this past month has, I think, likely cut down on what my footprint might otherwise have been.

3. Increase my knowledge and understanding of different diets and lifestyles

My words a month ago: “I don’t ‘get’ veganism. I’m skeptical about how nutritious it is.”

I also said this: “I don’t want to knock it if I haven’t even given it a shot… There are all kinds of controversies over how healthy veganism is and I’m on a mission to find out from personal experience.”

I have certainly learned amazing amounts over the past month. Veganism can be a very healthy way to eat- just the same as nearly any other diet. It is dependent on what’s right for your body and it’s also dependent on how much variety you get and how much attention you pay to consuming the right amounts of all the nutrients. Balance is essential.

My body reacted very well to veganism. I had very few real difficulties with cravings and my energy levels didn’t change. My weight stayed the same and my mood didn’t fluctuate either (as a result of the veganism, I mean. I might have gotten a wee bit stressed out a few times over the past week or two from the heavy work and school load, but I attribute that to taking on too much at once. And that has been rectified).

Tomorrow I will post my eats for my final day of this challenge. On Friday I’ll recap the reality of what my personal struggles were this month. And this question will also be addressed on Friday: Are you going to continue eating vegan after the challenge?

Have you learned many new things this month (vegan-related or not)? What are your thoughts about the vast amount of products that contain animal ingredients? What are some things that you do in your daily life to decrease your carbon footprint by a notch or two?

Don’t forget to please give me more suggestions for the 21 Foods List! I’ll make some choices of what to add over the next week before finalizing the list.

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Day 29 of the Vegan Challenge

September 29, 2009

Yesterday I ate:

– A few raspberries and 1 slice multigrain toast with 3 beanballs mashed across it, plus a few drops of hot sauce

– 1 apple with 2 tbsp PB2

– Chocolate milkshake with 1 frozen banana, 1 cup unsweetened chocolate Almond Breeze, 1/2 tbsp each of wheat germ, flaxseed meal, and chocolate protein powder, handful each of kale and Swiss chard, 1/2 scoop calcium powder, and 1 tbsp PB2

– Salad with Swiss chard, carrots, tomato, asparagus, green pepper, broccoli sprouts, hemp seeds, soy nuts, 2 crumbled beanballs, and hummus

– Leftover chickpea curry with basmati rice and 2 apples

– 1 small slice homemade whole wheat toast with 1/2 tbsp almond butter, plus a few more beanballs

Only one day left after today for the Vegan Challenge! The time flies by when you’re having fun.

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Day 27 of the Vegan Challenge

September 27, 2009

Yesterday I ate:

– 1/2 red pear and 1 tbsp PB2

– 2 slices banana French toast topped with fresh raspberries and 1 tsp almond butter (I used unsweetened vanilla Almond Breeze instead of soy milk, omitted the maple syrup and vegetable oil spray, increased the amount of cinnamon, and added a small handful of kale plus a tablespoon of green pea flour and a few drops of vanilla extract to the mixture before throwing it all in the blender. The result was slightly greenish bread with green flecks on it, but it was delicious and really filling).

– A few handfuls leftover air-popped popcorn, about a dozen pistachios, a few soy nuts, and some hummus with mushrooms/asparagus/cucumber slices

– 1 apple with 2 tbsp PB2

– Small bowl of homemade granola mixed with puffed wheat and topped with unsweetened vanilla Almond Breeze, 1/2 banana, and a sprinkle of chocolate protein powder (more about the protein powder to come in a future post) as well as some raspberries and a few more pistachios

– Dinner at Delicious Vegetarian Restaurant: consomme soup and three kinds of vegetables in curry over brown rice.

– 1 glass red wine

My friends Brian, Jarred, and Will took me out for a birthday dinner, even though none of them are even close to being vegetarian, let alone vegan (and Delicious Vegetarian Restaurant is an all-vegan restaurant!). It was very sweet. When I picked them up they were all at Brian’s house and sang me “Happy Birthday” as soon as I opened the door and they presented me with a “vegan man”- squash and peppers and carrots and mushrooms held together with toothpicks in the shape of a person complete with eyes and nose and mouth and hair- with a candle sticking out of his spaghetti squash head for me to blow out. They figured that because I’m vegan, I can’t really eat cake, but that it’s fun to blow out the candle. So I got my candle in a pile of vegetables. I adore supportive friends.

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Day 26 of the Vegan Challenge

September 26, 2009

Yesterday I ate:

– 1/2 apple and 1 slice multigrain toast with a beanball turned into a spread and smeared on top (this was surprisingly really tasty)

– Sandwich with 2 slices multigrain bread, 2 tsp PB2, 1/2 banana, and applesauce. I wanted something in the sandwich besides peanut butter and banana slices, but wasn’t in the mood for something as sweet as jam or agave nectar, so I figured I’d give applesauce a try. I loved it.

– Mushrooms with hummus and 1 apple

– 3 stalks of asparagus with 3 oven-roasted Torfuky slices and a smear of mustard, plus some grapes

– Hummus wrap (hummus and veggies stuffed in a pita) and a slice of vegan chocolate cheesecake at the Mondragon Cafe. This place is famous in Winnipeg for its all-vegan fare, but somehow I’d never been before! It was really good. I was happy to have some belated birthday cheesecake, too (which, admittedly, tasted no different from regular cheesecake. Very satisfying!)

– 4 pistachios, a bowl of air-popped popcorn and some water with calcium powder*mixed in. I ate a normal-sized bowl of popcorn, less than 200 calories worth. I’m proud that I packed away the leftovers in a container to save for another day rather than just eating it all because it’s there. I borrowed-without-planning-on-returning my mother dear’s air popper since mine is busted 🙂

A few things I learned yesterday:

1. Applesauce makes for a good sandwich spread;

2. Beans on toast are tasty as long as they’re all mashed up and mixed with spices so that they don’t *really* resemble beans;

3. If I *think* that I’m craving something sweet, that craving can usually be satisfied with some extra protein (hence the Tofurky slices when I really wanted almond butter. The Tofurky, I’ve found, really hits the spot);

4. Cheesecake doesn’t need to have cheese in it to be amazingly delicious;

5. I actually do like pistachios; and

6. If I add nothing to my popcorn, and if I eat it slowly and mindfully, I can in fact control the portion size.

Have a great weekend!

*I shall write more about the calcium powder next week, but for now we’ll just leave it at this: it was recommended to me when I spoke to a nutritionist on Thursday and I have confidence that my body will reap many benefits from it.

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Day 22 of the Vegan Challenge

September 22, 2009

Yesterday I ate:

– A couple handfuls of grapes and a chocolate milkshake (1 frozen banana, 1 cup unsweetened chocolate Almond Breeze, 1 tbsp PB2, 1 tbsp flaxseed meal, 1 tbsp wheat germ, sprinkle of cinnamon, and a couple handfuls of kale)

– 1/3 gRAWnola bar (from the Farmer’s Market) and 1 raisin scone smeared with jam

– 2 falafel balls and 3 yam fries with hummus

– Carrot sticks and chopped cauliflower; grapes with apple slices and cantaloupe

– Sandwich with 2 slices multigrain sandwich, 3 Tofurky oven-roasted deli slices, mustard, Swiss chard, tomato, and green pepper. This was yummy. I think I might be starting to like mustard.

– 1/2 cup brown rice with edemame and chickpeas

Cammy asked me if I think that part of my nut butter addiction is because PB2 has sugar in it. I definitely do think that the sugar/salt in PB2 is addicting! Interestingly, although I could eat half a jar of PB2 in one sitting, I don’t feel the same addiction to FitNutz, even though it too has about the same amount of sugar and salt. They are both delicious, but sometimes I feel as though I can’t control my PB2 cravings, whereas that never seems to happen with FitNutz. So yes, I think that the sugar/salt combo has an effect on my body,

However, I do not think that PB2 is the source of my obsesseion with nuts and nut butters. I had it long before PB2 came along. I guess each of us has our own “needs” when it comes to food- I often have major apple cravings as well, for example; I see that as a sign that my body needs certain nutrients from apples more than another person might. That’s my interpretation of it, anyway! And, of course, when we get in the habit of eating a certain food, we gravitate towards it and can’t seem to get enough.

So with the nuts/nut butters, I’m going to try taking a few days “off” from eating any at all every week. I think it’s healthy to take a break a couple times a week.