Why should you go plant based?

Earlier this month, I gave a presentation to a group of men and women at a local senior center. It was my first time speaking to a group such as this and I wasn’t sure what to expect or even how I would be received. The organizer from the Meals on Wheels program told me that they like to have a snack, preferably sweets, and suggested I bring something for them to sample and incorporate that into my talk.

I had about a month’s notice to prepare for the talk which was going to be with “The Lunch Club” at the center. I had my keynote (Power Point) all set up and rehearsed and my speech notes were all ready to go. I wasn’t nervous, well, maybe just a little. Why would they want to listen to a talk about plant based eating?

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Yukon Gold “waffles”-side of chickpeas and roasted asparagus drizzled with balsamic glaze

I started talking, and a few latecomers walked in, and one woman said that I should start over. I had only gone through one slide, so she said..”oh, go ahead and start again”. I though to myself…Hmmm, they’re actually listening––and they’re interested!! In all honestly, I did offer the chocolate chip banana cake FIRST!

My talk progressed, and I had a few questions along the way. And everyone took an interest in what I had to say. We had a really great discussion afterwards. Only one or two people left when I finished talking, but the rest sat around and had another piece or two of cake. These men and women had at least 20 years on me. A few ladies had just come from the chair yoga class. One woman proudly announced that she is in her 70s and she does not take one single pill. She said she only eats organic (but she is not vegan). We had a great discussion on my why.

I am asked almost daily “why” I eat this way––vegan, plant-based, whole food––whatever you want to call it. My simple answer is that my body feels better when I eat this way. After more than 2 years of eating this way it has become my lifestyle. Although my motivation to begin this was purely for my health, I am definitely more conscious of the toll that animal farming is taking on the environment. After watching documentaries such as Food, Inc , Eating You Alive and Forks Over Knives, I believe many of you would think very differently about what you put on your plate.

Just yesterday, the Canadian government issued their 2019 health guidelines. And what do you know….their new food guidelines eliminates dairy as a food group and features fruits and vegetables on half your plate! Water is also encouraged as the beverage of choice and protein includes plant protein choices. I wonder how long until the US catches up??

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“Clean out the fridge” salad–tons of colors and flavor!

In our country, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity are all preventable lifestyle diseases that can be reversed and prevented through a plant based, whole foods diet. The scientific evidence is out there. It’s as simple as changing what’s on the end of your fork. I know that I will continue to choose plants over pills, how about you?

Do you like my food photos? Stay tuned for my next post and I’ll show you how I made those waffle fries and how I cook with no oil.

See you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi

“This post is part of the wellpreneur blog challenge.”

http://learn.wellpreneuronline.com/blog-challenge/

 

Keeping it Simple

Maybe that’s easier said than done, but today I’d like to talk about a few simple ways to add more whole foods into your daily food rotation.

Obviously, I am going to start with breakfast. I like to eat in the morning. There, I said it…I like to eat. And I do eat.  A lot. I stay away from processed, refined foods and stick with whole grains, like oats and lots of colorful fruits and veggies. The message hasn’t changed-breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It is your fuel. Have a banana. Have a piece of whole grain toast with some nut butter. Just eat! If you are used to starting your day with just coffee, just try some fruit or some oatmeal and see how that makes you feel. Jump on the avocado toast bandwagon-you will thank me later!

Let’s move on to lunch. Are you having a salad? Does the salad have some nice leafy greens or is it just iceberg or romaine lettuce? Try adding some dark, leafy greens to your salad. Chop up some kale very finely or throw in a few handfuls of broccoli slaw to amp up the nutrients. Cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, brussel sprouts) will fill you up and provide much needed fiber in your diet.

Maybe you’ve decided to have a sandwich or a wrap for lunch. Try swapping the white bread or wrap for a 100% whole wheat bread, pita or wrap. There are so many great breads in the stores. I love Dave’s Killer Bread (the green wrapper is my favorite). Trader Joe’s also sells a delicious 100% whole wheat pita. Again, that whole grain will fill you up and provide some fiber too.

And don’t be afraid of potatoes. Potatoes get such a bad reputation as being too carby or unhealthy. Believe me, potatoes are magic food. It’s not the potato, it’s the unhealthy toppings that most people put on top that make them a poor choice. I absolutely love Yukon Gold potatoes. They have a super creamy taste. Try topping them with your favorite salsa-you will love them!

What’s for dinner tonight? Whether you are eating in or dining out, it is possible to make some easy swaps for healthier options. If you’re cooking pasta at home, try whole wheat pasta instead of white pasta. If you’re making a stir fry, use brown rice instead of white. Cauliflower rice is also a great option to replace traditional rice. It’s becoming much easier to find in the grocery store. Swapping cauliflower rice is a great option and is a great way to amp up your daily vegetable intake. Spiralizing your veggies is also a great option as a pasta replacer. You can buy spiralized veggies in the grocery store or make them yourself. A quick saute of zucchini spirals with some pasta sauce is a healthy and filling dinner.

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Spiralized zucchini with sauce, beans and mushrooms

When you’re dining out, “just say no” to the bread basket. It’s usually highly processed white bread.  I would only break this rule if the restaurant is known for its homemade, scrumptious bread. If it looks like dinner rolls from the freezer, skip it!  Scan through the menu and look for key words like “steamed” or “braised”. Try to avoid “pan-fried” or “crispy” anything. Ask a lot of questions if you want to know how foods are prepared. Oftentimes, substitutions can be made, it’s just a matter of asking for what you need.

You may have read this and thought to yourself, oh, Heidi, this is all common sense, I’ve heard all of this before. You’re right, it is. But I’m asking you to try one thing at a time. Maybe tomorrow you will just make a change to your breakfast. Try that for a week. Next week, add some new veggies to your lunch and do that all week. And finally, start incorporating some whole grains to dinner. Before you know it, you will start to crave and need those whole foods. Believe me, your body is going to thank you. Feed your body what it needs. It’s as simple as that.

Leave a comment and let me know what you’ve done to add whole foods into your diet. What would like to see next on my blog?

See you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi

Brunch with my tribe

Spending a few hours and a meal with a room full of plant based eaters doesn’t happen very often for me. Yes, I did spend a three day weekend in August at Plant Stock and that was amazing! But, here, in my everyday life in beautiful Florida, I am seldom surrounded by my plant based tribe.

Today, my husband and I attended a Vegan and Oil-Free Buffet with friends who happen to be vegan also. (Disclaimer, my husband is a flexitarian who also enjoys many plant based meals).  The event was hosted by The Food Pharmacy. I didn’t know much about the Food Pharmacy until very recently when a friend had mentioned it to me. In a nutshell, the Food Pharmacy is just that. Their mission is show people that eating and preparing plant based foods is a better option than medications to treat disease. I was lucky enough to speak to one of the Food Pharmacy’s owners, Evelisse Capo. She and her partner, Elisa Burgos, addressed the group at the restaurant today and explained the importance of a plant based lifestyle.

By a show of hands, perhaps more than half of the attendees were fully plant based or vegan, some new to this way of eating, and some partially vegan. Evelisse explained “why” oil free is so important. Vegetable oils are stripped of all nutrients. It is a processed food that has no place in a whole food, plant based diet. For years, we’ve always been told that olive oil is a healthy fat. It simply is not true. Look at the following picture below that shows the calorie density of 500 calories.

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Brunch today was held at The Curry Station restaurant in Sarasota. The chef/owner, Chef Narendra, prepared an entire Indian Buffet cooked without any oil. Everything was plant based, whole food and the most delicious Indian food I have every had. The buffet had chickpea curry, whole wheat roti, several rice options, and an eggplant dish, just to name a few.  He explained to us that he always has oil free options on his menu and emphasized that this was not just a special meal for our group today. I was so thrilled to hear that and I know that we will definitely frequent his restaurant.

This was a very well attended event. It was so exciting to be in a restaurant full of people who eat like you do and to hear why many of them eat this way. Evelisse told us that she is a Doctor of Pharmacy, but she left the practice of pharmacy to start the Food Pharmacy and that her entire family is plant based. I also heard a few other people comment that they eat this way because they want to prevent or reverse a chronic disease, like heart disease or diabetes. I also got into a discussion with two people at the buffet about how the meat industry is destroying our environment.  We all spent a few minutes sharing our thoughts on our favorite documentaries: Forks Over Knives, What the Health, Eating you Alive. (I loved all of them-I couldn’t say which was my favorite) Whatever the reason, this event brought so many like minded people together, but it’s just a start.

We need more restaurants to get on board and offer something more than a salad for its customers who do not eat animal products. Chef Narendra showed us all how delicious and healthy this way of eating is. I am ready to spread the word in my community. How about you?

See you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi