My Trip to Sequim and the Eat To Live Six-Week Challenge

Hello all!  I'm back "home" from visiting Kevin in his hometown of Sequim, WA.  During the trip I stayed with his family and had some difficulties with eating plant-strong because I did not want to seem rude or condescending of their food or eating habits (see the post about my frustrations here).  My future in-laws are wonderful people and ended up being very understanding when I made a trip or two to the local health market for supplies to make salads and to have some extra fresh fruit on hand.  Thank you to those who commented on my last post with advice for me in this difficult situation, it was nice to get some words of encouragement from like-eating-minded people.

Of course, food isn't the center of my life... here are some pictures of the adventures Kevin and I went on while I was in town:
On a sunny day we took a trip to Railroad Bridge Park for some hiking, then we biked the Olympic Discovery Trail from there to Port Angeles.
While hiking we found a beautiful stream where we could see young salmon and I found a few trees with evidence of a beaver.  We realized we were in his dam area and decided to leave so we didn't disturb him.  How cool is that though!?

Biking from Sequim to Port Angeles ended up being about an 18 mile bike ride.  By the time we reached the ocean in Port Angeles I had a very tired butt and Kevin's knees were killing him.

Another day we visited Lake Crescent and took a nearby hike up to this beautiful waterfall.  (Of course no one was around to take our picture together, so this is the best I could do.)

The rest of our trip we enjoyed spending time together eating at a few of our favorite places around town, going to trivia night at a local bar, visiting two great breweries, relaxing in their hot tub, and seeing a bit of wildlife like this toad that we found by the outdoor shower.
Overall, visiting Sequim was so much fun, but it gets even harder every time to leave Kevin.  The count down till the Big Day is at 100 today, so not too much longer!

My plans for now are to be applying for jobs like crazy, both part-time for the short term summer, and full-time careers for the long term.  Wish me luck!  Along with applying for jobs I will be, of course, blogging, making new recipes, and reading the books I have planned for summer reading, which I will discuss in a couple of blog posts.  Click here to see my proposed summer reading list.  I am currently halfway through Super Immunity by Dr. Joel Fuhrman and hope to be done with it and post my thoughts about it by next Friday (in case you are reading along and are interested in the discussion).

Food-wise I will be doing the Six-Week Plan Challenge from Eat To Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman.  Since traveling so much lately, I feel like my cravings for food have gotten out-of-wack and I want to refocus my eating plan to be only nutrient dense foods.  Also, I am feeling sluggish in my energy and in my weight loss progress.  For those of you who would like to join me in this undertaking, here is what is going to be in my daily eating rules:

  • Unlimited (relatively)
    • raw vegetables
      • eat in unlimited quantities
      • goal: 1 pound daily
      • includes, but not limited to
        • green lettuce, kale, collard greens, snow peas, bell peppers, raw peas, cucumbers, sprouts, carrots, tomatoes
    • steamed or cooked vegetables
      • emphasize green vegetables, as well as non-starchy vegetables
      • goal: 1 pound daily
      • includes, but not limited to
        • string beans, broccoli, artichokes, asparagus, zucchini, kale, collards, cabbage, brussels sprouts, bok choy, okra, swiss chard, turnip greens, escarole, beet greens, spinach, dandelion greens, broccoli raab, cauliflower, eggplant peppers, onions, mushrooms
      • especially include onions and mushrooms for their disease preventing and anti-cancer properties (the onion also adds a lot of flavor, and cooked mushrooms have a great texture)
    • beans or legumes
      • goal: 1 cup daily
      • eat some beans with every lunch (it slows digestion to keep you fuller longer)
      • includes, but not limited to
        • chickpeas, black-eyed peas, black beans, cowpeas, green peas, lima beans, pinto beans, lentils, red kidney beans, soybeans, cannelloni beans, pigeon beans, white beans, navy beans
    • Fresh fruit
      • goal: at least 4 daily
      • no fruit juice (except for salad dressings and cooking)
      • frozen fruit is ok, but avoid canned fruit (get unsweetened if you must)
      • dried fruits off limits for 6 weeks (dried fruits aren't bad for you, they are just more concentrated calories that can often be overeaten)
      • try exotic fruits, and a variety of fruit daily
      • includes, but not limited to:
        • apples, apricots, bananas, blackberries, blueberries, clementines, dates, figs, grapefruits, grapes, kumquats, mangoes, melons, nectarines, oranges, papayas, peaches, pears, persimmons, pineapples, plums, raspberries, starfruit, strawberries, tangerines, watermelon
  • Limited foods
    • whole grains and cooked starchy vegetables
      • goal: no more than 1 cup (1 serving) daily
      • includes, but not limited to
        • butternut squash, acorn squash, corn, potatoes, rice, cooked carrots, sweet potatoes, vegetables, cereals, quinoa, barley, oats, brown rice, yams, pumpkins
    • Raw nuts and seeds
      • goal: no more than 1 oz daily
      • eat only raw unroasted and unsalted nuts and seeds
      • includes, but not limited to
        • almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans, hickory nuts, macadamias, pistachios, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds
    • Avocado
      • goal: no more than 2 oz daily
    • Ground flaxseed
      • goal: 1 Tbsp daily
      • had many added health benefits
  • Off limits
    • dairy products
      • including low- and non-fat diary
      • milk, cheese, yogurt, etc
    • animal products
      • including lean meats and fish
      • eggs, red meats, poultry, fish, shellfish
    • between-meal snacks- between meal snacks don't allow your body to leave the food digestive stage and enter the catabolic when toxins are removed from your body and fat is used as an energy source
    • no fruit juice or dried fruit
    • added oils
  • other tips
    • spices, herbs, and condiments
      • use all spices and herbs, except salt, sugar, and sugar replacements
      • pickled foods should be avoided
      • try for condiments that are low in sodium (<1 mg sodium per calorie)
    • eat only when you are truly hungry and not just feeling crappy from the catabolic detoxification stage
    • stop eating when you are no longer hungry
  • 10 summary tips for the six-week plan
    1. Remember, the salad is the main dish.  Eat it first at lunch and dinner.
    2. Eat as much fruit as you want, but at least four fresh fruits daily
    3. Variety is the spice of life, particularly when it comes to greens.
    4. Beware of the starchy vegetable, but eat starchy vegetables before grains.
    5. Eat beans or legumes every day.
    6. Eliminate animal and dairy products.
    7. Have a tablespoon of ground flaxseed every day.
    8. Consume nuts and seeds in limited amounts, no more than 1oz/day.
    9. Eat lots of mushrooms (as replacement for meat), and add onions to foods for fast flavor.
    10. Keep it simple
      • breakfast: fresh fruit
      • lunch: salad with beans, more fruit
      • dinner: salad with two cooked vegetables, fruit dessert
These are the rules that I wrote for myself when I tried my first 6-week E2L plan over a year ago.  I made it for about 5 weeks that time, but I plant to make it the whole 6 this time!  As another thing to help me, I also made a new background for my computer screen with these rules summarized.  Below is a smaller version, and then the real size version in case you want to drag and copy for your computer screen!

Who is going to do this challenge with me?  If not, what are your goals for becoming healthier over the next month or so?


Difficulties of Being Away from Home and Misrepresentation on the News about Eat To Live

Since being away from home (I am visiting Kevin in his hometown of Sequim, WA) it is always difficult to stick with a plant-strong diet, but I am doing my best.  The most difficult thing has been for me to refuse food that is made for me or to be picky about how it is made.  Although his family understands that I don't eat meat on a regular basis, and nearly completely avoid dairy products, the ideas of eating mostly fruits and vegetables without oil is harder to get across in a polite way.  This is strange for me because to anyone else I have no problem preaching the Eat to Live way, but I guess because I'm not wanting to insult my future in-laws, I'm being more cautious.

While dealing with this issue, I was reading a post from Diseaseproof.com about Dr. Torres (ironic because I'm going to be Mrs. Torres) from a Colorado News station misrepresenting the Eat to Live lifestyle (video of newscast, skip to 2:15).   This got my nutritarian-preaching wheels turning!  Here is his answer to the question: "Are you familiar with Dr. Joel Fuhrman, and what do you think of his diet?"

Dr. Torres' Answer:
"This diet is known as the "Eat to Live" diet. It mostly focuses on eating plenty of fruits and vegetables with limited amounts of whole grain products. It avoids animal products. Like most diet plans, it can help you lose weight and in some cases the results have been dramatic. But this is a very strict diet plan that will prove hard to maintain for most of us. As humans we tend to crave variety and if we try to stick to a restrictive plan it doesn't work. This is part of what accounts for the "Yo-Yo" diet phenomenon people experience with most diet plans. Your best bet, for not only losing weight but also in keeping it off, is to make sure you incorporate healthy lifestyle changes you can sustain for years on end. This means eating better, eating less and exercising more."

My first response to this terrible explanation is to criticize him for the use of the word "diet."  As defined biologically, a diet is merely the foods and liquids consumed by an organism on a regular basis that are used to perform its daily functions and for growth and development (my written definition).  The word "diet", in pop culture, often means to change your diet, usually by restricting calories or some type of food, with the usual goal of losing weight.  Because diet is defined as such by most Americans and can conjure up many negative emotions of deprivation and failed will-power, I like to avoid this word completely.  

That is why I like to call the nutritarian way of eating a lifestyle, because that is exactly what it is.  It is not merely changing what goes in your mouth, it is also changing how those foods taste, it gets rid of your food addictions and toxic hunger, it gives you energy and encourages you to be active, AND provides with the nutrients your body needs to heal and prevent diseases.  Oh, and some nice perks to all of those benefits is that you will lose fat from your body, lose weight if you need to, and maintain a weight that your body says is healthy.  Who doesn't want all of those things from a wonderful lifestyle change?

Yes, the nutritarian lifestyle focuses on eating an abundance of vegetables and fruits, which are high in micronutrients that help prevent illnesses.  They also have a very high nutrient density, which means that there are large quantities of nutrients per calorie of food.  This means that you will become satisfied sooner with less calories consumed.
The nutritarian lifestyle does not restrict whole grain products, but the Eat to Live 6-week kickstart plan does suggest that you minimize your whole grain and starchy vegetable intake to 1 cup a day.  Whole grains, especially in their original forms such as quinoa, oats, barley, etc. are a great source of fiber and are very filling.  However, the majority of your fiber and nutrients should come from fruits and vegetables; so Dr. Fuhrman would suggest not focusing your eating plan around grains, unlike the old American Nutritional Pyramid suggested.

On the E2L plan, you can completely avoid animal products as a vegan nutritarian, or you can make animal products up to 10% of your eating plan.  Animal products would include meat, seafood, dairy, and eggs.  The reasons for limiting animal products, as Dr. Fuhrman suggests, is because they are high in saturated fat, as well as high in cholesterol and calories with little to no vitamins, micronutrients, and fiber.

This is not a "strict diet plan that will prove hard to maintain for most of us," this is a lifestyle change that is satisfactory, delicious, and sustainable for anyone who wants good health.  First of all, it is not a strict plan because it doesn't require any measuring or counting, it only requires that you make fruits, vegetables, beans/legumes, and nuts and seeds the majority of your diet.  This focus of this lifestyle is that you give your body the nutrients it needs to flourish and keep your body disease free!  

The main battle of the lifestyle change, at first, is to battle your food addiction and toxic hunger.  Most Americans are addicted to a diet, the Standard American Diet (SAD) of highly processed, salty, sugary, and fatty foods whose properties create a sensation in the brain similar to a drug addiction.  Most Americans also experience toxic hunger.  This happens when your stomach is finished digesting your last meal and your body works on ridding your body of toxins that have built up in your body.  If you are eating a diet full of toxic processed foods and little whole plant foods, your body is full of toxins.  When most Americans eating the SAD get to the toxin-breakdown stage, they feel uncomfortable, usually in the form of headaches, stomach cramps, anxiety, etc.  This is very similar to a drug addict coming down from their drug high.  SAD Americans identify this as hunger, and eat to eliminate these symptoms.  This causes them to go back into the digesting period and abandon ridding the body of toxins.  It is a viscous cycle that causes SAD Americans to overeat calorie-wise, and to build up a lifetime of toxins in the body.

Dr. Torres also claims that "As humans we tend to crave variety and if we try to stick to a restrictive plan it doesn't work."  Again, the Eat to Live way of eating is not restrictive.  But as for the variety, really?  There are more edible plants on earth than I'm sure any human will ever try, how could anyone eating this diet ever run out of variety?!  On top of many different types of vegetables, fruits, beans/legumes, nuts and seeds, there are also tons of different spices and herbs to use to flavor any nutritarian dish that you make.  Compare this to the SAD, there can be variety, but all foods are mostly made up of sugar, salt, fat, and animal protein.... Yum?  

His advice for watchers was very vague and not helpful: Americans need to be "eating better, eating less, and exercising more."  I'm sure every overweight person has never heard those statements!  How about instead hearing that you get to eat nutrient-rich, delicious foods, eat as much of those foods as you want, and you will lose weight and gain the energy to feel like and enjoying exercising!

Ah, I feel better now that I got my Nutritarian ranting out of the way.  For those of you who would like to voice your opinion on this misrepresentation of E2L, comment on this page why you think the E2L way is great and voice that you would like to see Dr. Fuhrman on the show to set the record straight.  Now to try to eat healthy around Kevin's family without being rude.... 

Do you have any suggestions on how to approach non-nutritarian people about how you eat, so that they will accommodate you without sounding overbearing, judgmental, or rude?


On Trip to Sequim to See Kevin

Hello Readers!  Hope everyone is having a great Memorial Day weekend.  Sorry that I have not been posting too much this week.  I took an early trip to Sequim, Washington to spend a week or two with Kevin and his family.  We have had a great time enjoying the natural scenery, fresh mountain air, and weather, when it is sunny.  Because I'm away from home, I haven't been cooking many of my own meals, so unfortunately I have no recipes to share with you today.  Here is a question to possibly get a discussion going:

What is the food that "calls your name" to slip you up from your health goals?


Hale to the Kale Salad

Today I am shipping out Unprocessed by Chef AJ to this giveaway's lucky winner, and thought that I would feature my favorite recipe I've tried so far from the book: Chef AJ's Hale to the Kale Salad.  I have to say, this recipe had opened me up so much more to the world of raw kale!  Previously, I used kale most often in soups or sautes, but very rarely did I eat it raw other than in smoothies.  The dressing for this recipe does have almond butter in it, so it is not low in fat, but it is oil-free.  I find that it has the perfect blend of spicy, savory, and tanginess.  Just delicious!

Before we get to the recipe, here is some great information about this awesome green vegetable that I found on Pinterest.  To follow my Pinterest boards follow this link.

Hale to the Kale Salad

  • 1 bunch of kale, stems removed, washed, and roughly chopped
  • 1/2 c almond butter, natural and raw
  • 1/2 c water, or coconut water
  • 1/4 c fresh lime juice, or lemon juice (~1 lemon)
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • 1/2" fresh peeled ginger
  • 1 Tbsp low sodium Tamari, or soy sauce
  • 2 pitted dates
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes, more to taste
Directions:  In a high-powered blender, add all ingredients (except for kale) and blend until smooth and creamy.  Dip a leaf of kale into the dressing to taste, and adjust seasonings to your preference.  Pour some of the dressing onto the chopped kale leaves and massage the salad with tongs or your hands.  Add more dressing if needed to cover the salad completely.  Save any leftover dressing in an airtight container in the fridge.  Serve the salad cold plain, or with any seeds or nuts you prefer.
Amy's Notes:  The recipe for the dressing I have featured is half of the original in Chef AJ's book.  I found it plenty to cover 1 bunch of kale, but the original recipe is for 2 bunches of kale.  Next time I make it, I will be making the full recipe with 2 bunches because it is just that good!  I like to sprinkle Chef AJ's recipe of faux parmesan (recipe found on this blog post) on top of this salad for some cheezy flavor.  This salad also keeps very will in the fridge.  Chef AJ notes in her book that "Like a woman, this salad gets better with time."  My pictures of the recipe include spinach because I didn't have quite enough kale.  I found this to be a good addition to get even more greens in!

What is your favorite way to eat kale?


Potatoes with Fresh Baby Greens

I hope everyone is having a good start to their week.  I'm in the summer mode where I am loosing track of which day of the week it is since I have nowhere I need to be.  Believe me, the job search is in full throttle!  Wish me luck in finding something soon!

For now, my days have consisted of making healthier food for myself, job searching, and blogging.  One fun part about being home right now is getting to watch my parent's garden start to grow like crazy!  They made a modest-sized raised-bed garden in our backyard and have planted it with green leaf lettuce, kale, spinach, onions, green onions, basil, carrots, beets, and radishes.  So far, everything is above ground, but the beets and radishes seem to be growing the fastest.  The other day, I helped by pulling some of the beets and radishes so that they don't crowd out each other and grow a bit better.  My mom ended up Googling that beet and radish greens are edible, so I thought I should try to make something with it.

Potatoes with Fresh Baby Greens

  • 4 red potatoes, washed and cubed
  • 1-2 cups fresh baby greens, washed
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • several mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp fresh basil, finely chopped
  • fresh ground pepper 

Directions:  In a large skillet on medium heat, water saute the garlic and union until onion is tender.  Add the potatoes and cover, adding water as needed to not allow ingredients to burn, and stirring occasionally. "Steam" the potatoes for several minutes, until you are able to just pierce with a fork.  Add the mushrooms and stir until they are lightly cooked.  Add in basil, pepper, and any other spices you desire.  Finally, place the greens on top and cover with a lid once more for 2 minutes.  Once greens are lightly "steamed", stir them into the dish and serve hot.

Amy's Notes:  This was a really satisfying recipe that came together quickly.  It could easily be a great breakfast food (with a bit of hot sauce).  Because the greens came from our garden, the radishes had small red roots that we minced up and placed on top (that you can see in the serving photos), obviously this is not needed, but gave the dish an extra spice to it.  It would be equivalent to one normal sized radish minced.  If you don't have baby garden greens, spinach, arugula, or kale would work great to replace the greens.

What is your favorite type of fresh produce to get from your garden?  What vegetables do you want to have in your fantasy garden?


Something to Check out Online and Pictures from Disneyland

Hello all!  I thought I would let you guys know about a great online summit for how to be healthy on a budget.  The link to it is: Health on a Budget Summit, and it is going on from today till the 25th.  They are featuring speakers on several great topics like grocery shopping on a budget, working out for free (in the great outdoors), and gardening tips.  Make sure to check it out!

As promised, here are some pictures from the great trip I took last week with my mom to Disneyland:

The ride was pretty fun, but my mom made it clear she would only go on it once this trip.
Disneyland Castle
I don't know if they changed the ride, or if our log just had a bunch of extra weight in it, but we got absolutely soaked, almost to the point we couldn't enjoy the fun happy parts of the ride. 
We were in a better mood after Splash Mountain when we  were picked to go up into the wheelhouse of the Mark Twain Steamboat.  We even got to blow the steam horn!
Tom Sawyer's Island was still as fun as it ever was!
One of our better food finds was a Tropical Fruit plate.  We found this at the Mexican restaurant near Thunder Railroad in Frontier land.  It was about $5, which was actually decently priced compared to other cart vendors in Disneyland that were selling just a wedge of pineapple for $4.

This was part of our Greek Garden Salad that we got at a cafe in California Adventure close to Goofy's Sky School mini roller coaster.  It had mixed greens, red onion, garbanzo beans, tomato, pepperoncinis, and a delicious mix of greek olives, and came with a large warm pita.  We asked for the cilantro vinaigrette on the side, but found that the salad was delicious and flavorful with the toppings, and the dressing was too oily and tasteless to be worth eating.  We had this salad a couple of times because it was so good, inexpensive ($9), and surprisingly healthy.

This is a picture of my first time a Disneyland when I was two, and me now.  Funny how minnie hasn't changed at all!

I found that on our trip we tried really hard to eat as plant-strong as we could, and I think we did a pretty good job of it.  It helped that our hotel had fresh fruits for us to have for breakfast, and that Disneyland has started to cater to vegetarians a lot more.  I would have only asked for more things to have beans in them, because I felt pretty bean deprived most of the trip.  I got my fair share of delicious fruit from the many Tropical Fruit plates we had.

What have been your experiences of trying to eat healthy on trips?  Do you feel almost happy to get home just to get back to your normal food schedule?


My Answers to some Common Nutritarian Questions

Shelby!  Congratulations to Shelby on winning ANK's first ever giveaway for Chef AJ's book, Unprocessed!  (Shelby, contact me at amysnutritariankitchen@gmail.com to send me your shipping information)  To get the winner I used a random number generator and had the list numbered below.  Remember that you got entered twice for commenting AND following my nutritarian/health Pinterest boards.

The questions I asked so you could be entered into the giveaway were: What are some common questions you get asked about your nutritarian/plant-strong lifestyle? OR What are some questions you have about a nutritarian/plant-strong lifestyle?  I have to say, I got a great response to these questions!  Here are some of the questions I was asked, or that others ask my readers about the nutritarian lifestyle and my responses to them.

What about protein?  How do you get your protein if you don't eat meat?
This is a question that all vegetarians/vegans/nutritarians, etc. have been asked since the beginning of time!  Ok, well maybe only since Americans started being brain-washed that you NEED to get your protein from meat sources, and that only meat sources can provide that macro-nutrient.  When asked this question, I like to ask the person to think about some of the largest land animals on earth: elephants, gorillas, and ruminants like cows.  How do you think they got so large with only eating plant foods?  Are they closet meat eaters and none of us have noticed!  Of course not!  They eat the diets they have evolved to eat: plants.  Sure, humans can get their protein from meat or plants, but lets compare some plant foods to some steak (from Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live, page.71).

Nutrients Oresent in 100-Calorie Portions of Selected Foods
Nutrient Units Broccoli Steak Romaine Kale
Protein grams (g) 11 6 7 7
Calcium miligrams (mg) 118 2 194 257
Iron miligrams (mg) 2.2 0.8 5.7 3.2
Magnesium miligrams (mg) 46 6 82 64
Potassium miligrams (mg) 507 74 1453 814
Fiber grams (g) 11 0 12 7.1
Phytochemicals relative very high 0 very high very high
Antioxidants relative very high 0 very high very high
Folate microgrs (mcg) 200 2 800 46
Riboflavin miligrams (mg) 0.29 0.06 0.40 0.25
Miacin miligrams (mg) 1.6 1.1 1.8 1.8
Zinc miligrams (mg) 1.0 1.2 1.4 0.9
Vitamin C miligrams (mg) 143 0 141 146
Vitammin A IU 3,609 0 51,232 48,641
Beta-carotene microgrs (mcg) 2,131 0 30,739 29,186
Vitamin E miligrs (mg) 4.7 0.07 0.76 3.0
Choloesterol miligrs (mg) 0 22 0 0
Saturated fat grams (g) 0 3.1 0 0
Weight of food grams (g) 357 29 588 357
(12.6 oz) (1 oz) (20.7 oz) (12.6 oz)

I have put in bold the items you should pay close attention to.  As you can see, per 100 calorie portions of each of these foods, the meat has less protein than the plant foods.  The steak also has NO fiber, phytochemicals, and antioxidants!  Along with being devoid of micronutrients, steak is also ladened with disease promoting cholesterol and saturated fat.  Knowing these quantities, it's a wonder why plant-strong eaters are the ones asked if or how we are getting enough protein.  The simple fact of it actually is, if you are consuming enough calories per day (whether that be plant foods or animal products) you will not be protein deficient.  As for me, I would prefer to receive my protein from plant sources that are high in micronutrients and that give me disease and cancer prevention!

Where do you get your calcium if you don't consume dairy products?  (How can you live without cheese?)
This is another issue that we have been led astray on in America in order to have us consume more dairy products.  It is true that products like cow's milk does contain calcium(~190 mg per 100 calories).  However, dairy products, along with other aspects of the Standard American Diet (SAD) actually increase the amount of calcium that is excreted through your urine, making your overall calcium in your body decrease when you consume these products.

Here is a quick hypothetical breakdown of this daily process of loosing calcium: (information taken from Eat to Live, by Dr. Fuhrman, pages 103-104)

  • you consume 1000mg of calcium from milk, of which only a third of the calcium gets absorbed, the rest is excreted through your bowels, so only ~300 mg of calcium is absorbed into your body
  • in the same day, because dairy products create an acidic environment in your body, 350 mg of calcium needed to help neutralize your body, then is excreted through your urine
  • because you only absorbed 300 mg through your digestive tract, the extra 50 mg of calcium must be taken from somewhere in your body (your bones)
  • over time, you can imagine how much calcium is leached from your bones to help neutralize your body
In thinking of the way our body uses calcium, it certainly doesn't make sense to get calcium from a food product that creates an overall calcium deficiency in the first place!  With the leaching of calcium from our bones, and other factors (that I frankly wouldn't know how to explain), Americans have some of the highest rates of osteoporosis in the world.  The data graphed below was also taken from Eat to Live page 105.  The trends are very clear that the more animal protein you ingest (including dairy) the higher the risk for developing osteoporosis (which can often result in hip fractures, especially in the elderly).

How do you make sure to get enough calcium and to avoid over excreting too much calcium?  Here's a basic lists of the things to avoid and the foods to consume: (Eat to Live, page 104 & 106)

Avoid (because they increase body's acidity and your need for calcium to neutralize your body):

  • animal protein
  • salt
  • caffeine
  • alcohol
  • nicotine
  • aluminum-containing antacids
  • drugs such as antibiotics, steroids, thyroid hormone
  • vitamin A supplements

GO FOR vegetables and fruits, but especially:
  • green vegetables
  • beans
  • tofu
  • sesame seeds
  • oranges
Is this diet (nutritarian/plant-strong) sustainable for life?
This was probably one of my favorite questions that was asked out of all of the comments, because it gives me a chance to brag about how wonderful it really is!  Personally, I would never go back to the Standard American Diet (SAD) after feeling so wonderful on this nutrient-rich, disease preventing diet. Not only do I have the assurance that I will not develop heart disease, diabetes, or become obese, I also am giving myself the best protection from developing cancer that I can have, while strengthening my immune system from common colds, viruses, and infections.  On top of that, I get to eat the most food I have ever had in my life!  Unlike other diets where you restrict your calorie intake (and usually food volume intake), I get to eat as much as I want of the right things and never gain weight (I actually am gradually losing weight over time).  To others, this way of eating may seem extreme from the SAD way of eating, but when you think of our biological needs, it makes the most sense!  When you switch to eating the nutritarian way, your taste buds adjust from being "tongue-washed" on foods that are over salted with too much sugar and fat, to a sensation in your mouth when you eat whole plant foods to where you can taste and appreciate the subtle differences between types of lettuces, or enjoy the natural sweetness of fresh fruits!  I guarantee that when your body learns to love the foods that truly make you flourish, you will not want to go back to the "fake" foods you used to eat.

Another question related to this one that was left by a reader was: "Is it expensive eating this way?"
My response was that eating this way can be as expensive as you would like it to be.  Overall, nutritarian food is less expensive than SAD foods.  For example, per pound, beans weigh cost less than animal protein.  Also, fruits and vegetables cost less than most processed foods.  There are certain things that can be more expensive, but are not necessarily needed, such as organic produce or harder to find produce, such as mangos or kale.  I would suggest buying in season when certain produce will be at its cheapest, and to buy in bulk when you do find inexpensive produce.  I do this most often with corn or broccoli, so that I can freeze what I can't use in time.  Once you learn your way around the grocery store, and what prices are good for certain items, shopping becomes a breeze!  I also find that I spend a lot less time per trip to the grocery store because I only need the produce, canned goods, and frozen foods isles, rather than every department.

Another question that readers said that they get asked a lot is: "What made you decide to eat this way?"
I can only answer this for myself, but I would LOVE to hear stories from my readers of how you came to make the wonderful change to eat the nutritarian/plant-strong way.

My story:  My journey starts with a very sad Amy.  All my life, I have always felt I was a bit or quite a bit overweight.  My heavy times were always after Christmas holidays of being home (from college) and sneaking into the kitchen to devour Christmas treat after Christmas treat.  Looking back on it now, I have realized that I had an addiction to the sugar and fat, and most importantly, I was addicted to the instant pleasure that decadent foods gave me.  

After going back to school in January of 2011, I found that I had gained nearly 10 lbs over Christmas break.  I groaned at the thought of having to get back into dieting and feeling hungry and deprived all of the time.  I had tried to do Weight Watchers several times before this time with little success.  I was terrible about counting points, and often under-exaggerated how many points a food item was worth just so I could feel like I wasn't starving.  I was not a person meant to have the will-power to eat little portions.  

I went on the search one evening online to find a diet book that would work for me.  I passed by the "high-protein" diets because I was never a fan of beef, and frankly didn't know how to cook a steak to save my life.  I also passed by the "low-carb" diets because I didn't know how anyone could live without bread (and it always made me think of Julia Roberts in America's Sweethearts where she never has bread, then goes nuts on an extremely stressful day and eats tons of pancakes and other bad foods).  I finally stumbled across Dr. Furman's book Eat to Live.  It had a claim on the front cover in bold saying "LOSE 20 LBS. OR MORE IN 6 WEEKS".  I immediately thought, that would be great, but how drastic and crazy is this?

I took a leap of random faith and bought the book on my ipod touch Kindle and finished reading the book by morning.  I took a good week to mentally process through what it had taught me, all while changing my eating habits to follow Dr. Fuhrman's recommendations.  I cleaned out my studio apartment of the bad foods I had been eating, and went full boar into eating the Nutritarian way.  I ate this way for 5 weeks straight, not budging an inch (with only the occasional drink, I was in college at the time).  Here was my basic daily diet:
  • 1 lb. raw vegetables
  • 1 lb. cooked vegetables
  • 1 cup beans or legumes
  • at least 4 fresh fruits
  • up to 1 cup starchy vegetables and whole grains
  • up to 1 oz of nuts or seeds
For the first time in my life, I felt completely full and satisfied without feeling guilty about what I ate.  It was a wonderful feeling!  It was around this time that I was having issues with my long-term (less than worthy) boyfriend at the time.  Sometimes it takes moments in your life to understand and appreciate yourself before you realize that some people close to you don't understand or appreciate you.  I broke up with that boyfriend and opened myself up to spending more time with friends and out socializing. 

That is when I met Kevin.  Kevin made me laugh and enjoy life like I never thought, or just forgot, that I could!  He made me re-realize my adventurous and fun side that had secluded itself after years of a relationship with someone who was selfish and jealous.  I finally felt like I was living!  Over a year later, Kevin and I are engaged and will be married this year in September.  I feel like the happiest person to be marrying my best friend and to be physically and mentally healthy after years of food addiction and a bad self image.

Today, I still have some problems with food addiction, but, in getting to understand them better, I feel more motivation to continue eating the nutritarian way.  Because not only my body was healed with eating this way, but also my self opinion and worth, I will forever attribute the nutritarian lifestyle to changing my life in so many ways.  That is why I write this blog and want to share my successes and struggles with all of you.  It is a way not only to make myself accountable, but a way to get encouragement and encourage others.  I just thank God that I stumbled upon Dr. Fuhrman's book nearly a year and a half ago, because it really was the start of everything great in my life.  I also want to thank my readers who give me an audience and the motivation to keep going.

What is your story?  Why did you decide to eat the plant-strong way?


Versatile Blogger Award

Thank you to both Shannon from Banana Boats and Cabbage Patches, as well as Shelby from Everyday Vegan Girl for the nomination for the Versatile Blogger Award.  This award is a great way to let the writers of the blogs you follow know how much you appreciate reading, and to let readers of your own blog find other similar blogs to follow... oh and it's an award, awards are always awesome!
Here are the rules listed on The Versatile Blogger website:
  •  Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.
  •  Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy — if you can figure out how to do it.
  •  Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly. ( I would add, pick blogs or bloggers that are excellent!)
  •  Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award — you might include a link to this site.
  •  Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.
Here are the 11 blogs that I am nominating:

Carrie @ Carrie On Vegan

And Here are 7 things about me:
  1. Tennis, biking, Pilates, and Zumba are my favorite forms of exercise.
  2. My favorite fruits are watermelon, raspberries, and oranges.
  3. I love to wear nautical-like stripes and straw fedoras in the summer.
  4. My favorite season is Fall, for the cooler weather and for the wonderful foods like apples and pumpkins!
  5. Cooking is my favorite hobby, but I am not a fan of baking.
  6. Some of my favorite possessions are the things handed down to me from my late grandma.
  7. I'll be wearing my mom's altered wedding dress that my grandma made for her at mine and Kevin's wedding in September.
For those of you who are wondering, I am back from my mother-daughter trip to Disneyland, and we had a blast!  I will post pictures and details of our trip tomorrow, then on Friday I will be announcing the winner of the Unprocessed book giveaway!  If you have not had a chance to enter, comment on this blog post by answering one or both of the questions at the bottom.  If you follow me on Pinterest AND comment, you will get entered twice of the giveaway.  Good luck to everyone :) 


Graduation and Chef AJ's Disappearing Lasagna

What a whirlwind week it has been for me!  I made it through my final finals relatively unscathed, spent some time celebrating with friends and family, and finally, I graduated!  I officially graduated from Washington State University with a BS in Environmental Science and Regional Planning on May 5th, 2012.  And does it feel great to be done!  My parents came into town on Saturday to pack me up, to take me out to an awesome lunch at my favorite restaurant called Sangria, and to go to the Spring Commencement.  Here are a few pictures of our day:
Packing up and getting ready for graduation!
Out to lunch at Sangria.  Dad and I toast to finally being done! 
Me and my Envi Sci friend Danielle.  We will forever say "we DID  Environmental Science together." 
My parents and I after the commencement ceremony.
Now that I'm done I will finally have time for more blogging, and most importantly, more time for my health!  Since being back home I've gotten exercise everyday, have been drinking a bunch more water, drinking less alcohol, and eating and feeling much better.  During these last few weeks of school, I admittedly enjoyed myself a bit too much in the food and drinking category, and it feels so much better getting back into a healthy routine again!

I finally have found some time (and more people than myself to cook for) to try out a few of her recipes.  I made her famous Disappearing Lasagna and her wonderful Hale to the Kale Salad and it was DELICIOUS!  Here is my experience at trying the lasagna:

Chef AJ's Disappearing Lasagna
Faux Parmesan pp.142

Kale or Spinach Dip Filling pp.83

Saucy Glazed Mushrooms pp.152 (sorry I forgot to take a picture of this part)

Finishing the Lasagna pp.100

Directions:  For the sake of spending less time typing out directions, and because I thought the videos were super helpful, I'm going to direct you to The Chef and The Dietitian videos for each part of the recipe.

Note, in the video she says to bake at 350 F for one hour but the book, the directions that I followed, were for 375 for one hour.

Amy's Notes:  This recipe is a long process and makes a lot!  I spent most of the afternoon yesterday getting everything ready, but each thing can be done on your own time the day before you put together the lasagna.  I'm guessing it would serve up to eight people with one serving a piece.  It served the three of us without going through even half of the dish.  I made it for my dad to have for lunch the rest of the week and the weekend because my mom and I are leaving tomorrow morning for a mother daughter trip to DISNEYLAND!!!  What a proper way to end my college career right?  I'm so excited to go for the weather and all of the nostalgic moments.  


Miche Bags, the Heart Attack Grill, and a New Salad Dressing

My mom, sister-in-law Katie, and me (and Tilly) with some examples of Miche bags and shells.
Hope everyone had a great weekend!  I enjoyed a trip to Spokane while my brother and sister-in-law were in town.  My mom hosted a Miche Bag party for some friends because my sister-in-law Katie sells them.  I, of course, talked myself into a new bag with two awesome shells.  I got a neutral one, and a bright green one.  I seem to be drawn to this kelly green color this season.  Can't wait to get them in the mail!  Katie and Andy also took me out for a graduation dinner to the Melting Pot, which is a fondue restaurant. I was surprised with their vegetarian options, and had a great time enjoying my first real fondue experience!
The party spread with veggies, fruit, chocolate covered strawberries, hummus, spinach dip, two types of sangria, and pineapple sparkling punch.  The sangria was quite a hit!
Now on to the Heart Attack Grill...  This is a tourist-y type of restaurant that I saw when Kevin and I were in Vegas (at which point I had to drag Kevin in the other direction).  They advertise milkshakes made of butter fat, and their menu has burgers that are (rightfully so) called the single, double, triple, and quadruple bypass burgers.  Their customers are required to wear hospital gown "bibs" while the waitresses wear sexy nurse outfits, and the owner (in the video below) is dressed as a doctor.

You may have heard of this place in the news around February of this year when a man suffered a heart attack mid-meal, but it is yet again in the news... for guess what?  Another health issue.  Here is the video I came across: the link

(Start Rant, skip ahead to "End Rant" if you would like to avoid my frustrated anger)

Ok, so without going on too big of yelling rant... WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU PEOPLE?!  First of all, the owner, dressed in a doctor's uniform has no right to even own a stethoscope, and should more likely carry around pliers to clamp his customer's arteries shut!  His word for excuse of why people eat there, or rather, why he admires people who decide to eat at his "establishment" is that "These people understand that we may or may not be living in the final days, and they are going to enjoy every second of it."  Yeah, if people think it's ok to eat like this, then they just may be near the final days for themselves.

Second of all, the woman with her children there is borderline abusive!  Ok, that might be a little harsh, but seriously?  You think it's fine to not only to destroy your body, but to also do it to your developing children?  Usually children are going to make bad choices, food- or otherwise, so it is a mother's intrinsic responsibility to do what is best for your children, which would not be giving them this crap, even if it is a "treat."

I can't imagine that anyone feels well after they eat here.  I know that if I did, in some completely irrational moment, decide to eat anything from this restaurant, I would leave with the biggest feelings of guilt for doing such a thing to my body.  I think it is everyone's freedom of choice to eat what and where they wish, but for anyone who listens to their body and not their gluttonous desires, I can't imagine anyone's body would say "Go ahead!  I'm sure that will feel great!"

What are your opinions on this?


Now on to my recipe of the week!  As a member of Dr. Fuhrman's website, I get emails daily during the weekdays for new recipes to try.  I usually read through them, and save them for another time, but this one I knew I had to try!  I have it written as how I made it, which is a little different from the original.

Banana Ginger Dressing

My version:

  • 1 large banana, peeled
  • 1/3 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tsp ginger, minced
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 c coconut water

  1. Blend all ingredients in a food processor or high powered blender.
  2. Enjoy on salads, as a spread, or as a dip.
Amy's Notes:
I made the adjustments I did because I am not a huge fan of ginger in salad dressings, because I didn't have a jalapeno available, and because I was wanting to use up some coconut water I had on hand.  I would suggest to add only 1/8 cup of the liquid at first, then add the rest according to your preference of dressing thickness.  I used this on salads, as a spread in wraps and sandwiches, and as a dip for veggies, crackers, and chips.  I found this dressing to be sweet and spicy, which was exactly what I was craving!  I will definitely be making this one more often!

What is your favorite type of salad dressings?  Sweet?  Spicy?  Savory?  Salty?