Is Pet Food Good for Your Pet?

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I recently began to make some of my own dog food.  Over the years, my dogs  routinely seem to have the same problems over and over again.  One of my dogs is now 16 years old, and has got hip problems.  Since she is some kind of mix (most curiously probably a Beagle/Greyhound mix), this is mostly due to old-age.  However, all my dogs have had non-cancerous growths on them, suspected (by the Veterinarian) to be caused by the dog food they eat.  A Vet who has since been fired for not advising pet-owners to pay for expensive unnecessary shots told me that a few years ago.  While I did change the dry dog food my dogs eat, I’m afraid that the damage has been done.

Do you know what is in most dog food?  First, there are the “rendered” products.  This includes the remains of animals slaughtered for human consumption – the entire left-overs, including rotting remains that have been left out in the hot sun for days.  Also, road-kill and euthanized dogs and cats collected from animal shelters, including the flea collars, and cancerous animals who were euthanized due to various diseases.  Spoiled human-grade meats are part of this rendering process, also.

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Pesticides enter this food-stream from slaughtered livestock, along with the various medications that were given to them to increase their growth and milk production.   These include large quantities of steroids and antibiotics.  Fish filled with mercury and other heavy metals found in the ocean are also included.

I’ve been feeding my dogs a mix of dry and wet vegan dog food for a while now.  However, the cost of vegan canned food was too much for my budget, so I’ve begun making them their wet food.  They also get some left-over meat from my husband who is still a meat-eater.  I’ve noticed that they are more chipper since they’ve been on this diet, and they certainly love their food.

My dog food includes the following:  sweet potatoes, red and gold potatoes, cut-up carrots, peppers, rice, lentils, squash, peas and green beans.  I peel the sweet potatoes and red/gold potatoes then cook them with the carrots until they are soft.  While they are boiling, I cook up the lentils and peel and cut the squash and cut the peppers.  After the mix of potatoes is soft, I’ll drain them and then mash them up a little.  Then, I’ll add frozen peas and/or green beans to the pot.  Usually I’ve got a good amount of left-over cooked rice and I add that along with the lentils to the pot.  I wait for the peas and beans to get warmed up and then just mix it all together.  I usually add some A-1 sauce to the mix for some flavoring.  Once it’s cooled a little, I put it in glass jars.  This will last about a week.  So, for an hour or so once a week of chopping and cooking, my dogs get food that they really love.  Just a note of caution, if you decide to try this, make sure that your ingredients are pet-safe.  A quick search will let you know if any ingredient is good or bad for dogs.

https://www.dogfoodadvisor.com/dog-food-industry-exposed/shocking-truth-about-dog-food/

http://pets.webmd.com/dogs/ss/slideshow-foods-your-dog-should-never-eat

 

My Engine 2 Rescue Diet

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I’ve been following the Engine 2 Rescue Diet (a plant-based, whole foods) diet for six weeks now.  It’s been an interesting ride.  I have to make everything myself, including hummus and salad dressing, since this is a no oil, no salt, no preservative diet.  There has been a pretty high learning curve, and I’ve learned that it can be a little bit difficult to cook with no oil.  Also, I have to admit that I use a lot of spices which is a good thing, since they make everything taste really good.

The first two weeks were the worst, and I ended up going to bed early to avoid temptations.  But sometime during the third week I discovered the wonderful sweetness of grapes, and life has been much better since.  In the interests of truth-telling, I did indeed try some delicious vegan chocolate for Easter.

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So far, I’ve lost 13 pounds and I have no idea how many inches.  Last week was a hard week for me (depressed) and I did not get up and exercise.  I did however, go on my daily walk – so I did get some exercise.  I started back up yesterday with getting up early to exercise.

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Sweet Potato Bowl

I am mostly eating meals from the book, but there are many variations that you can use.  The recipes are quite easy, and the best thing that you can do is just decide that this is the way that you’re going to eat from now on.  Prepared foods, while convenient, are extremely harmful to your health.  And there is really no amount of oil that is good for you.  I do get take-out once a week, either Chinese food (steamed) with only Soy Sauce, or pizza with no cheese and lots of veggies.  So, I’m not totally doing without take-out.  However, I did learn not to get any sauces on my Chinese, and to only get it steamed.  I had the worst stomach ache the first time I got regular Chinese veggies.  So, there is a learning curve here.  Also, and this is the most important thing, I do not count calories.  Sometimes I fill my dinner bowl all the way!  I eat if I’m hungry.  I’m just not eating anything that isn’t plant based or filled with oils.  So, yes…I’ve been known to eat two bananas, two oranges and a ton of grapes in one day.  There are no limits on my food intake.  I’ll have a large (huge) salad with chickpeas for lunch along with a baked potato. Then, in the afternoon I’ll have one or two oranges.  If I’m hungry, I’ll eat.  There is little caloric density in plant-based foods.  So, you eat a lot, and often.

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As far as benefits, I have had less over-all aches and pains from Fibromyalgia, but they haven’t gone completely away.  I do feel healthier, and just to let you know, potatoes can indeed be eaten with no vegan butter on them.  I throw them in the microwave (or oven), bake them and put spices on them.  Also, they only have about 60 calories each.  So, yes, you can eat potatoes and be healthy.  I make sure that I don’t let myself become too hungry.  I buy a lot of fruits, including oranges, bananas and grapes.  I’ve also been buying frozen fruits, usually blueberries, mangoes and peaches.  I’m so excited for the summer fruits to start coming in.  I can’t wait!  If you want, I’ll give out some recipes in another post.  So far, this has been the best way of eating I’ve found, for me.  It takes more work, but I love the food!

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Food and Exercise

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I’ve been on the Engine 2 Rescue Diet now for almost three weeks.  This diet is a no oil, no preservatives plant -based one.  How is it going?  Well, at times all I really want to do is to eat all the chips in the bag!  However, I haven’t done that, and it’s going pretty good.  I haven’t fallen “off the wagon” at all, and when I do get chip cravings, I tend to eat either some grapes – which are totally delicious, by the way, or an orange.

Learning how to make stir-fry without oil was a little hard to get used to, but I’ve got that down, now.  Tonight, is Chinese night, so I’m really looking forward to the steamed veggies with white rice.  A meal that I don’t have to cook is always a source of excitement.

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I’ve been having Quaker Quick Oats for breakfast with some maple syrup, cinnamon, banana and blueberries.  At first I thought yuck! I hate oatmeal, but when I have it like this, it’s really good!  If I get hungry later in the morning (sometimes I’ve already eaten by 6:30, I’ll have an orange.

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Here’s a lunch that I love.  I just cut-up some onion, mushroom, squash and peppers, then I stir-fried them in a little water.  I put them on a Sandwich Thin (again, no oil), added a little no-oil homemade hummus and dug in.  I also ate the leftovers.  Good lunch!  Next week I’ll give you some dinner recipes.  I have to take pictures, since I haven’t gotten around to that, yet.

I’ll also eat a salad with extra veggies and chickpeas. If I still feel hungry I’ll throw a small red potato in the microwave and cook it up.  I’ll then eat it with some garlic powder.  No vegan butter for me.  This was actually a little strange at first, but I’ve gotten used to it, and now like the potato with only some herbs on it.

I’ve added some more exercise to my routine also.  I now work-out in the morning, then go for a walk with my dog around eleven, then come home and work-out some more.  In the afternoon, I’ll do so again.  So, this is what I do:  Monday, Wednesday and Friday I’ll do my Soloflex machine (yes, I’ve had one for more years than I want to admit), then a Denise Austin DVD with weights in the morning.  In the afternoon, I’ll do a Denise Austin Pilates DVD.  I hate Pilates!  Tuesday and Thursday, I’ll do a Fitness Blender video in the morning.  In the afternoon, I’ll do a bunch of Sun Salutations very slowly.  On the weekend, I usually mix it up with some Denise Austin workouts and different Fitness Blender videos.

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The whole process has been a major time-commitment, what with the meal planning, making things that I usually don’t from scratch and working out.  However, I’ve finally seen a positive change in my body.  Have you changed anything about your diet or exercise routine?  Let me know how that’s going for you.

 

Rebooting my Diet

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I’ve been Vegan for a few years now, and while I feel really good on this lifestyle, as a fifty-something woman dealing with chronic pain from Fibromyalgia and the other aches and pains that come from (those dreaded words) growing older, I felt that I really needed to make a change with my diet.  No, I’m not talking about beginning to eat meat and dairy again.  Instead I mean that I want to start eating the way Dr. Michael Greger promotes in his book How not to Die.  So, luckily, I was able to go and see Rip Esselstyn on his book tour promoting his new book, The Engine 2 Seven Day Rescue Diet: Eat Plants, Lose Weight, Save Your Health.

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While my diet is mostly healthy, I haven’t been eating the way that I should.  As you probably know, there are a lot of prepared food products out there for Vegans.  While these foods make life easy, they’re not exactly healthy.  I’ve been eating half-a-bagel at breakfast with vegan butter, and then there is the wonderfully delicious mandarin orange chicken (I prefer the Gardein brand).  However, since these are prepared foods, they of course, are not really good for you.

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Due to the increase of pain related to my Fibromyalgia, I decided that I really had to change my food consumption to only whole plant-based foods.  Lucky for me, along came the Rip Esselstyn book tour.  I’m so glad that I went to see him.  A lot of the recipes for vegans require that you are able to both afford and go to a store such as Whole Foods.  While Whole Foods is a wonderful experience, I absolutely cannot afford to buy much there.  That’s what’s so good about the recipes in the Engine 2 book.  I will be able to buy everything I need at my local grocery store.  So, I originally thought that I would start this on Tuesday, however, I just realized that I should probably read the book and then start – know, what a novel idea!  I’ll let you know when I start, and how it goes.  Wish me luck!

 

Soup for When You’re Sick

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As you know I was sick for a while there.  Soup is of course, the meal to make you “better”, but when you’re sick, if you’re like me, you don’t feel good enough to make it.  On Tuesday I finally felt decent enough to make my go-to vegetable soup for sickies.  Here’s the recipe.

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Vegan Vegetable Soup

2 cups celery, diced

2 cups carrots, diced

2 cups potatoes, diced

1 cup onion, diced

1 cup leeks, diced

1 tsp. minced garlic

1 cup lentils

6 to 8 cups water or vegetable broth (I use broth since it tastes good)

Just sauté the celery, carrots, onion, leeks and garlic for about 6 minutes, add the water and bring to a boil. Throw in the potatoes and lentils and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes.  Then leave on a low heat until veggies are cooked through the way you like.

For seasonings, I just throw in anything including, sage, thyme, rosemary, cilantro, basil, parsley, and whatever else I feel like.  I don’t measure, so my soup tastes a little different every time.  You can use whatever it is you feel like.

I made this in the morning so I could have it for lunch and dinner.  I served this for dinner with a French bread that I bought at the store.  Enjoy!  If you have any go-to soup for sickies, please share.

I hope that you all have a wonderful weekend.

Vegan Stuffed Tomatoes for a Heat Wave

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New England has been suffering from extreme heat and humidity – days with a heat index of 105°  etc.  So, I’ve been looking for some meals that I can make that don’t need any form of cooking.  Here is one easy meal that I’ve found that requires no cooking, baking or grilling:

Vegan Stuffed Tomatoes

As many large tomatoes as there are people you’re feeding.  My daughter and I have one each and use another just for more tomato.  Lettuce leaves for garnish.

I stuff the tomatoes with Mashed Chickpea Salad:

Ingredients:

1 can (15 oz.) chickpeas, drained and rinsed

½ cup celery, diced

½ cup carrots, diced

½ cup onions, minced

1 tablespoon or so hummus (any kind you like)

1 tablespoon mustard

Dash of garlic powder

Splash of lemon juice

Place chickpeas in a medium size bowl and mash with a potato masher or fork.  Add remaining ingredients and combine.  Add more hummus for a creamier taste, if you want.

Take tomatoes and cut off the tops, scoop out the insides (I just put those into a bowl and eat them with my meal); then stuff with Mashed Chickpea Salad.  Place on a bed of lettuce and your meal is served!

Enjoy!

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Clean Eating

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I’ve been interested in the clean eating movement for a while now.  At first I truly thought that this was a plant-based eating plan.  This way of eating sounds really great – who can argue with eating clean?  Many of the “rules” of this eating plan are commendable, including the emphasis on fruits and vegetables, and not eating prepared, and fast food.  If you eat this way, you are indeed doing your health a favor.  However, this is as far as it goes, since the “clean eating” also includes plenty of meat and dairy.

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This is where I find that the “clean” part kind of falls apart.  There is nothing clean about eating slaughtered animals.  The filth that they live in and are slaughtered in has nothing remotely to do with the word clean.  Milk is filled with pus and blood; animals slaughtered for meat are raised with large amounts of prescription drugs which stay in their flesh, therefore landing on your plate.  In order for the meat to remain red and not turn grey and green it is injected with carbon monoxide.  Fish is filled with all kinds of pollutants, and heavy metals, including large amounts of mercury.

After looking into the “clean” eating revolution, I’ve decided that my lifestyle of vegan eating, limiting the amounts of prepared foods that I eat, and not buying fast-food is indeed the way to go.  What do you think of the clean eating movement?  Let me know in the comments below.

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http://www.cookinglight.com/eating-smart/smart-choices/clean-eating

http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/diet-nutrition/a37595/what-is-clean-eating/

http://www.naturalnews.com/025957_meat_eating_cancer.html

http://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/why-supermarket-meat-is-always-unnaturally-red/

http://www.alternet.org/food/carbon-monoxide-your-plate-5-dangerous-substances-big-ag-pumps-your-meat

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/meat/slaughter/slaughterhouse.html

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2013/12/12/250438904/how-plastic-in-the-ocean-is-contaminating-your-seafood