Wednesday, April 25, 2012

On the Verge of Vegan...

Any of you seen "Forks Over Knives" or "Food, INC" recently...or ever? OH MY! I've been making small changes to my diet since right after Christmas, but these films were totally eye-opening.  It's been awhile ago {before kids}, but my husband and I used to eat an organic/all natural diet.  We got off track when we traveled to Europe in 2007 and never recovered... :(

All that to say, I've done enough research in the past to know that these films are right on target.  I guess they were just the "kick in the pants" I needed to jump start our nutrition revolution.  In the recent months, I've cut out sugar, starting drinking my needed amount of water daily, and have been watching my carb intake.  And, honestly, I think making small changes and sticking with it are key.  

I've still got much research to do before deciding what animal-based food products we will consume, if any, but for now I'm cutting out the obvious offenders ~ processed foods, meats, etc...  And really, watching "Food, INC" will make you never want to eat meat from the supermarket again!!! I'm not an animal rights "activist" nor do I believe animals should be elevated as equals with humans, but really, the way some companies "farm" animals and butcher them is just inhumane...and hazardous to our health.  

So, I will periodically be posting about how we are changing our nutritional habits and how it effects our overall health. I'm starting simple to avoid feeling overwhelmed with all the changes that need to be made. 
Last Night's meal??

Whole Grain Organic Angel Hair Pasta
Homemade Spaghetti Sauce 
{made with organic canned tomatoes, EVOO, spices, and organic mushrooms - no meat}
and a Hearty Salad 
{with lots of veggies and soy nuts (non-GMO) added for protein - no cheese.}

And I've bought enough ingredients for two more meals before my trip to Whole Foods and Trader Joe's at the end of this week:

Potato Soup 
and whole-grain, all natural crackers
{made with almond milk and chopped onions, carrots, zucchini, and yellow squash}
and a Hearty Salad

Vegetarian Nachos 
{made with blue, organic tortilla chips topped with black beans, corn salsa, avocados, lettuce, tomatoes, homemade organic salsa, black olives, and non-dairy sour cream} 

For breakfast this week, we are doing oatmeal with fruit and smoothies; for lunch we're having salads and leftovers.  Yesterday the kiddos had peanut butter and honey sandwiches on whole grain bread and LOVED them! :)

I'd love to hear your feedback! What are some changes you've made recently to improve your family's nutrition or what are goals you have for the future? Do you have any vegan/healthy meal ideas or recipes??
Additionally, any knowledge or educated opinions you can share will be much appreciated!

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  1. Dad and I definitely need to get back on our organic/all-natural way of eating! Thanks for the inspiration and yummy recipes!

    1. You should watch the films...they are on netflix instant video. And I'll be calling to find out the books/resources Dad used to determine his diet. I'm thinking fish and chicken should be okay as long as they are wild-caught/raised and fed properly...still researching...

  2. You are an inspiration! I've mostly just cut out Pepsi and watching my portion intake. It's been slow going but I've lost 30 lbs just doing that so we're getting somewhere! :) It's definitely time to kick it up with some exercise. I've found just getting a smoothie on Sunday night instead of eating a meal really made me feel better and get more done than to eat and crash. I won't foresee us going Vegan anytime but it's good to glean knowledge! My coworker is strictly vegan so I'll try to get some tips from her to share with you.

    Are you moving the children over to a strict diet as well? I just wonder for my own purposes - I've always wondered if I go on a strict diet should I move the children over too? If so, how are they taking it? The boys love salads but soups are not their forte so when we do soup I have to do sandwiches or something for them.

    Did you know Trader Joe's is a sister company to Aldi? It's the organic version of Aldi. :D

    1. The kids will be following our diet and so far they love everything...I'm sure that will not always be the case, but they will adjust! :) I really shouldn't even call it "vegan" as from what I read, that also entails a certain mentality that I don't completely agree with.
      Pretty much right now I'm researching to determine what our bodies NEED in order to maintain a healthy lifestyle rather than focusing on all the "food" we shouldn't have. We definitely don't need processed "foods", refined sugars, etc... We will be trying to consume foods in their most natural state...the way God made them.
      The hardest part is knowing which sources to trust as a lot of "experts" have ties with corporations, etc...

    2. Where's my "like" button? :D I'll be gleaning alot of wisdom from you ladies on this subject, thank you for sharing!

  3. I'm trying so hard to get back on track with our food before baby gets here. It'd be great for her to be used to real eating and not have to worry about trying it out on her later. I had a childhood of junky processed food, and well, here I am! I don't quite want that for her, and I know that stuff does nothing for really fueling one's body. Ok, so I haven't had the best pregnancy diet, and sometimes I literally want to cry about that because I always planned and had such great intentions, but it's pretty much done now.

    As we're "cleaning up" our diet, I'm cutting out a lot of meat, simply because we can't always afford organic and because it's not a dietary necessity. We do consume milk and eggs quite a bit, and I'm glad we have so many options for non-rbgh, cage-free, free-range, etc. right in the regular grocery stores. When we first started, 5 years ago, I did all our shopping at Whole Foods (and a little at Trader Joe's), but now I can just pick up 75% of that stuff at Harris Teeter and I just visit Whole Foods for some things. (FYI--browse Big Lots on occasions. They tend to carry organic non-perishables quite often-pasta, canned goods, salad dressing and such things, and at good prices)

    Beans are a good way to go. They are jam packed with nutrients! I've added beans to our diet a lot lately as I'm scaling down on meat. Last night, we had baked beans and buttermilk biscuits, and I had a happy husband! I'm hoping to take our Meatless Mondays and extend it to Meatless May. I'm behind with recipe planning, so I'll be watching your blog for some ideas!

  4. [here's my long version response]

    I've not seen the movies, but I've done my fair share of research on food and foodlike substances. There's definitely a fear factor there when guessing whether or not something is worthy of preparing for your family.

    Just before we were married, I had made the switch to all-natural personal and household products and started the switch to organic foods. After we were married, I changed completely, and we went on a 1 year vegetarian diet (this was an attempt for me to control a medical condition without medication) and I followed with 6 months on a vegan diet. The vegetarian diet was pretty good for both of us. We lost weight, slept better, had more energy, etc. but the vegan diet was terrible for me. I got sick, several times, my skin was beyond horrible, and I realized that I had vitamin deficiencies. I knew that a vegan diet would leave me without several important vitamins (especially B12), but I didn't want to rely on artificial supplements and I didn't. That was a bad choice. I started to add animal products (organic) back into my diet, and the problem was solved.

    For a while, I struggled with the decision to change our diets. There was much opposition from our families, which I expected. I wondered if I was making a wise choice for us, and I meditated over Romanas 14:2, knowing that, in God's eyes, all foods are fine for us to eat. But I also understood that what's done to foods now is probably far from what God intended when supplying us with plants/animals/animal products for food. I think our consumer-driven society has taken a good thing and completely perverted it for the benefit of making money. What was once hearty and good for our bodies is now mostly junk, void of nutrients and even harmful to our bodies in many cases.

    The diet change helped my medical goals, and after we bought our house, we got caught up in money savings, and went the route of whatever is cheapest and easiest. We were both working, half and hour away,and I was still working on my dissertation, so time was tight as well, and that completely killed the progress we had made.

    Watching our general well-being slowly decline, We vowed to make some necessary changes, but I knew we would go another route. By this time, I was home and embracing the vintage homemaker role. I had dreams of preparing warm, hearty nutritious old-fashioned meals from scratch, as I knew that this type of food nourished a hard-working generation. My research took me to Nourishing Traditions, which I found out about through a blog. It's a great book, has some flaws (read reviews on Amazon), but tells a truth that the government wouldn't dare agree with. The Weston A Price Foundation is a great source of information on food and it's value to our bodies, legislation, news stories, and all kinds of things related to what's going on in our nation regarding real food.

    We decided, for us, that the best thing for our bodies is real, whole, foods. The most important things is buying organic--it really does make a difference--and non processed foods. Now, we're not there quite yet, but we're working on it hard, especially before our little one gets here.

    1. Akehia, thanks for taking the time to comment!! Sounds like we are on the same wave length in our thinking. I totally agree with the whole foods diet!! And, actually, I discovered (in 2007!) that not everything sold at Whole Foods and Trader Joe's fit into that category! I'm pretty sure they sell some deli meats that have sodium nitrates, etc... And previously on our diet, we did consume healthier, all-natural deli meats...but this time around I'm really just concerned about eating any food that has been processed at all.

      And I'm glad you brought up the all-natural personal products! I don't thing people realize the chemicals that our bodies absorb just in the daily products we use! This all is adversely effecting our bodies!!

      Do you have the book you mentioned or did you get it from the library...I'm interested to read it!

    2. My sister has adopted a very healthy lifestyle that I think entails what you and Akehia are doing so I'll ask for her resources as well. She cooks with coconut oil alot.

  5. Here's a recipe I tried a couple of weeks ago. I made it into muffins for breakfast. It calls for butter, but you could use margarine (I'd recommend Smart Balance-Earth Balance if you go to Whole Foods because they're the only two I know of that don't have hydrogenated oils). I used half white/half wheat flour, added a dollop of peanut butter, some flax seed meal, and toasted wheat germ. They were the most beautiful muffins I've ever made--came out perfectly shaped and perfectly browned and were delicious with milk :-)

  6. We watched Food, Inc. recently...blech! Those poor animals! In the name of convenience and "cost" (which, in the end is irrelevant compared to health) we have sadly altered our food supply.
    We had already wanted to work on our eating habits, and watching Food Inc really jump started it for me. That, and thinking about starting our 6 month old on solids~I wanted to start her out on the best diet I could to maximize her nutrition for growth. Our first step was been switching to free range/grass fed eggs, meat, and dairy. The high cost of quality meat has helped us cut down on our meat consumption by default. We did switch to buying raw milk (I know it's not available/legal everywhere) and that has actually helped me a lot, as I had a sensitivity to milk before. I have no problems drinking raw milk, and it is a good low cost/high calorie addition to my diet as I am still nursing. Our next step has been cutting out processed foods and supplements and switching to whole foods. We try to use as much organic foods as we can, but have been concentrating more on getting whole, unaltered foods. Organic food can be junk also, if highly processed. Food sources of nutrients are hands down better than the often altered or chemical version found in supplements. I would much rather give Alisabeth red meat or liver, than an "all natural" children's vitamin with ferrous sulfate~the chemical used to fortify foods with iron...which is also used to dye wool, refine gold, and a number of other interesting things! :)
    Nina Planck's "Real Food for Mother and Baby" was a good find for direction for baby and toddler diets. She has another book, and highly recommends Michael Pollan, who appears on Food, Inc. They are pretty balanced, and don't tend to be "cultish" as can happen w/foodies. Nourishing Traditions can be a little extreme, but has a lot of good information if you are wanting to learn about what nutrients our bodies need. There are pros and cons to the book. I really like it, but I like books that make me think and research what I'm reading. If you like to sift through information, taking the good and leaving the bad, it will be a very interesting and eye opening read. I haven't made much use of the recipes, as some are complex. But the history threaded through out was fascinating to me. The indexes and resources at the back of the book are very, very helpful.
    Admittedly, our family could not be held up as an example of what healthy eating looks like, but we are working towards it! The biggest thing I have to change in myself is my mindset~food wasn't ever really important to me. But as a wife and mother, what better gift could I give my family than the nourishment needed to create a healthy body and happy mind?

  7. eesh...didn't realize that was so long! :)

    1. Thanks, Amanda!! Will definitely check out those books! I've never thought to do raw milk, so I will check into that! And supplements/medicines in, that's another whole avenue to research. It's totally worth it though, for the well-being of our families! And people think being a SAHM is easy...just the research alone to feed and provide nourishing meals for my family should earn me a college degree! lol! I'm just glad I can do it - I would hate to be so busy with work that my family's diet suffered....and I've been there - not fun!
      I'd be interested in some of your family's favorite meals!

  8. Following you from Mom Bloggers! I love the blog! I would love for you to stop by my blog

    1. Sure, Tiffanie...heading over now! Thanks for stopping by! :)

  9. I'm going to have to check out these videos. I've been contemplating going sugar-free for a while now. I obviously haven't made the jump because my snack just consisted of Ritz crackers and a small serving of buttercream icing. It was delicious, but I know it would do me good to make the switch!

  10. I got it at the library and went through it for a few weeks. I'll check it out again later. I read it for the research, not the recipes. It's quite "hard core," and I agree with Amanda's comments about it. (oh, and I hate that there's such a legal issue with raw milk!).

    Yes, Whole Foods is a trap, and may fall into it. I mean, how nice is it to have organic ice cream cones, marshmallows, and gummy bears!? I mean, those are much better alternatives, but definitely not justification for stocking up the pantry.

    Becca, I use coconut oil a lot too! It's pretty much all we use now. I definitely use it if we are frying, which liquid oils are not made for. (I also use it on my hair and skin, sometimes as an additive when I make soap, and will be using it on my baby girl's bottom to prevent diaper rash).


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