Livin La Vida Vegan

Well today wraps up two full weeks of livin la vida loca! I mean Vegan. Same thing ;). It’s starting to feel pretty normal now. I feel amazing internally (this is the healthiest I have ever eaten in my life) and externally (I’ve lost 5 lbs!). So that is motivating!

On day 7, I did hit a huge wall of cravings. I was pretty grumpy that day. I woke up really wanting bacon and eggs (which is kind of strange because I do not normally eat that for breakfast), and then had to exercise some major self-control while I watched my sister and Riley eat pizza for lunch that day. But the next day the craving storm had passed, and I was surprised to find that the Lord had something for me in that.

I had just finished the book “The Best Yes” by Lysa Terkeurst and in googling something about it I came across a daily online devotional she wrote called “Made to Crave.” It is for women trying to embrace a healthy lifestyle, learning what it means to fill our deep soul cravings with Christ, not food. I realized that I really do look to food for a level of comfort that only God can provide. If I’m having a hard day my first response is most often to go to a Starbucks drive thru (or Chick-fil-a or _____ insert drive thru here), or ask Jordan if we can do takeout for dinner. Which means I’m always overspending on our food budget! Instead of looking to God for help in the hardship, I immediately think about what type of food or beverage I want to comfort me. Removing animal products entirely from my diet has prevented me from being able to do that (to some extent), and it has actually been pretty freeing. To have that option removed from me, I have been forced to take my hard days before the Lord instead.

After the middle of last week, things got much easier! Stacy told me that our taste buds actually renew every 10-14 days. How cool (and weird) is that? And I have found it to be true. A huge turning point for me was this past Sunday. We were driving to meet some friends for lunch at California Pizza Kitchen. I had looked up their menu online to see what is Vegan-friendly (not much – in case you were wondering) and narrowed it down to the roasted vegetable salad with lemon herb vinaigrette. But as we drove there, Jordan and I talked about the possibility of cheating and just getting pizza. Once we got there and looked at the pizza menu though, I found that it actually didn’t even sound good to me! In all honesty, the roasted vegetable salad sounded more appealing. And it was delicious. I didn’t once regret ordering it instead of pizza. Jordan did regret getting pizza.

I’m not sure I would be willing to embrace a life without pizza, but in the past few days I haven’t even wanted the things I used to crave. That is really saying something!

To wrap it up, here are a few game changers (for me):
-The fact that wine and dark chocolate are Vegan! Although you do need to check the labels on chocolate.
-Nutritional Yeast. Sounds weird, but it adds a cheesy flavor to food and is super good for you.
-Trader Joes’ veggie burgers and sweet potato fries- a great alternative for when I’m craving fast food! (er… I mean… I don’t crave fast food… eh hem.) 😉
-Breakfast cookies! My favorite is just bananas, oats, peanut butter, dark chocolate chips, and a little bit of sea salt.

My favorite dinner recipe so far this week has been these mini Mexican pizzas that Stacy has listed on her “favorite recipes” page of her website. Pretty much any type of Vegan Mexican recipe that involves lime juice, cilantro and avocado is a winner in my book.

Two more weeks to go of this plant-based diet experiment! I’ll check in again soon!

Until Then,

KM.

Letting Ron Swanson Down (Vegan Experiment, Day 5)

So here we are, 5 days into the Vegan experiment. It has actually been much easier than I had anticipated and I feel AMAZING. Seriously. Sometimes (prior to these past 5 days) when I eat a particularly greasy or unhealthy meal I will say, “Ugh, my body hates me,” when I finish. These past 5 days have been the complete opposite. After each meal I eat, I feel like my body is thanking me. I know that sounds so cheesy, but it’s as if I can just feel the nutrients coursing through my body!

I think part of why I had expected this experiment to be harder is because when I did the Sugar Free experiment a couple of years ago, I felt like I was dying a few days in. So I expected to feel the same way with this. I was going through major withdrawals and cravings. But there are no withdrawals from animal products and I’ve been surprised that I haven’t craved them either. I’ve been feeling satisfied with the tasty things I have been eating, so I haven’t wanted anything different. And I’ve been surprised that I haven’t felt hungry – I have felt full from what I have eaten throughout the day each day. I’ve been sure to get plenty of protein and healthy fats.

One thing that has really surprised me is that my milk supply has increased! As a breastfeeding mother, that was one concern I had going into this experiment – would it decrease my milk supply? But quite the contrary, 3 days in my milk supply had increased significantly! Dumbfounded by this, I texted Stacy and did some research. Apparently the foods you should eat to increase your milk supply are oats, green vegetables, and healthy fats (from olive oil, avocados, and coconut oil) – all of which I am eating quite a bit of, so I guess that explains it!

Oh also, days 2 and 3 I really felt the, umm, detoxing. I’ll leave it at that ;). But a plant – based, vegan diet will definitely regulate your digestive system!

Moving on.

Here are some things I’ve learned in just the past 5 days:

– Planning ahead really helps. With the craziness of taking care of two littles everyday, I knew that if I didn’t plan well, this wasn’t going to work. I need to have things that I can grab and eat, and things that are fast and simple to prepare. Stacy really helped with this. I used some meal planning sheets that she gave me, and planned out two weeks worth of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. That way I know ahead of time how much time it will take to prepare the meals I have planned, I can make some things in advance so that they are just on hand when I need them, and I don’t have to waste time or get discouraged trying to figure out what to eat each day.
– Always keep snacks on hand! I have made sure to always keep nuts, fruit, and larabars or vegan protein bars in my purse. That way if I’m hungry while I’m out, I’m not tempted to buy food on the go but it also assures that I won’t end up hungry (which is very important to me since I’m nursing).
– If you plan on meeting people out at a restaurant, look at the menu ahead of time and figure out what you can eat. If there aren’t really any options, eat something before you go. We went out to Applebee’s for my sister-in-law’s birthday, and there were exactly two items on the menu that passed the vegan test:
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Sweet potato fries and chips with salsa. So, that was my dinner! Not very filling, or healthy. Which leads me to the next thing:
– “Vegan” doesn’t necessarily mean healthy. I could eat Oreo’s (yes, they are vegan!), french fries, and coke everyday and still technically be vegan. But the goal is not to simply avoid animal products, the goal is to eat a more whole foods, plant heavy diet. It’s not as much about what you don’t eat, but what you do eat. I’ve had to remind myself of this because, trust me, I am an expert at finding loopholes ;).
– While it’s not super cheap to eat this way, it also isn’t as expensive as I thought. Turns out animal products can be pretty expensive so cutting them out helps the grocery bill!
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Favorite things I’ve eaten so far:

These honey lime sweet potato & black bean tacos, just without the cheese & sour cream. So delicious! Jordan loves them too.

Creamy Avocado Pasta from Oh She Glows

Overnight oats for breakfast the next day (here are some recipes that Stacy recommends)

For a quick, simple DELICIOUS meal – I discovered Trader Joes falafel (in the frozen section), stuffed it in whole wheat pita pockets with sliced cucumbers, kalamata olives, and Trader Joes Mediterranean hummus. Yum! As a mother of two, I always need some easy go- to meals that I can throw together on a whim, and this one is a winner!

So overall the vegan experiment summary (thus far) is that I love it!

I’m sorry to let you down, Ron Swanson.

"Would you like to sample our vegan bacon?  100% meatless."

“Would you like to sample our vegan bacon? 100% meatless.”

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The Vegan Experiment

Hi, my name is Krystal and I am a food hypocrite.

It’s true. I love learning about nutrition! In my spare time I am nerdy and do research on food and how it affects our bodies and I watch documentaries and get all excited about it. I tell my husband about the things I learn (because he LOVES hearing all about it 😉 ). And then I eat ice cream.

Apparently it’s hereditary, this food hypocrisy. Before my wedding, my mom and I decided to go on the Atkins diet (highly do not recommend). This is a conversation I had with my mom a few days into it:

Me: How are you doing on the diet, mom?
Mom: I’m doing great! Well except that I ate a slice of pizza for lunch. And had a coke with it. And had a sub last night. And ice cream… oh man, I’m not doing good at all!

See? Hereditary food hypocrisy.

The past two years I have been on a journey to better health, wanting to see if making some lifestyle changes would improve the way I feel. Anyone who knows me well knows that I am sick all.the.time. Like, every other day. I’ve had such bad sinus issues and allergies for years, and I seem to get anything and everything that goes around. My immune system seems defunct at times. But my journey has been more of a two steps forward, one step back process. I’ve been more aware of how different foods affect my body (for example, I seem to have a difficult time digesting dairy and feel much better when I don’t have it). But I have no self control and I love gluten, dairy, sugar, and soda.

More recently though, I have been more motivated to work on my health because, among a few other health issues, my cholesterol is pretty high (Oh hi there “30” thanks for welcoming me into the aging process). I’ve been intrigued by some of the health benefits of a plant based diet, including how it helps lower cholesterol. There is also a lot of cancer in both of our families unfortunately, so I have been intrigued by some studies on how animal products may play a role in that. But in order to really make such a big change in my eating habits, I would need help. I need someone to help me, who can kind of get me started, guide me along, answer questions, and I need accountability.

Enter Stacy.

Stacy is one of my best friends from college and she recently became a certified nutrition counselor. She has a really cool website (http://www.thenourishinghealth.com/) and offers some really awesome services (counseling sessions, clean sweep kitchen consultations, grocery store tours, and group sessions!). I am so excited about what she does and have loved reading her stuff and learning from her! Stacy is such a fun person and easy to be around. Her approach to food is a whole foods, plant based approach, but she it totally not judgmental about it! Her goal is to educate and help people to transition to a more plant-based diet – even if that just means moving from 10% to 30 or 50%. It doesn’t have to mean going vegan!

I’ve always watched Stacy’s plant-based lifestyle from a bit of a distance. I never really asked her much about it, and she is not one of those people who is preachy or pushy about it. So I always just chalked it up to being a little quirk about her ;). But as I started reading her website and blog posts I felt like I got a better glimpse into her plant-based life and I wanted to try it for myself. I’m just curious about how it would make me feel.

So, with Stacy’s help, I am embarking on a one month vegan experiment! Starting today until May 15 I will not eat any animal products. I am going to eat a balanced, whole foods diet. Vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and legumes are my new best friends. I’m going to document this one month project here on the blog. I’ll share what the experience is like for me, how I feel, and will include tips, tricks, and recipes that Stacy helps we with, and also any mistakes I make or things I learn the hard way.

Today was the first day and I’m sure it will get harder, but so far so good! I ate:
For breakfast: overnight oats
for snack: nuts and fruit
for lunch: a salad made with mixed greens (swiss chard, spinach, kale) topped with dates, dried cranberries, cashews, apples, and a vinaigrette dressing. I had pita chips & hummus on the side.
Dinner: rice & beans (cooked with diced tomatoes, green chilies, garlic powder and cumin) topped with lime juice, cilantro, and avocado and wrapped in a whole grain tortilla.

I was surprised that I didn’t feel hungry or deprived at all today, but felt full and satisfied. I’m looking forward to working with Stacy this month and seeing what happens! Be sure to check out her beautiful website! (Also: She is not paying me to do this or write this.)


OK and now it’s time for the disclaimers:

Food is a very sensitive topic. It’s kind of up there with religion and politics. And I know this in part because I have been sensitive to it at times. For some reason it’s easy to hear someone say they are eating a _____ (Fill in the blank – Vegan, Vegetarian, Paleo, Gluten- Free, or sugar free diet, etc.) and take it personally. I’m not really sure why that is, but I know I have felt that before too. Maybe it’s feeling or fearing judgement? My disclaimer is that I am not making any sort of statement here about how everyone should eat. This is simply my own personal experiment that I am curious about, and I will just be sharing my own experience with it. No judging here because umm, hello I have the McDonald’s app on my phone.

Also: Please don’t be concerned about my eating. I am working with a professional. I’m not doing anything dangerous. I’ll be making sure to get all of the fat, calories, and nutrients my body needs.

Feel free to follow along with me on this journey – I will put “vegan experiment” in the category tags if you want to read along! If not, you can just ignore these posts, I will still continue to blog about other life thoughts too.

KM.