My Low-fat, Plant-based Diet

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I’ve been following a low-fat (no oil), no prepared foods, plant based diet since the middle of March.  I was over-weight and just couldn’t lose any weight, even though I had been Vegan for 3 years at that point.  I had watched Forks Over Knives and was aware that I needed to decrease my oil and processed foods consumption.  However, it wasn’t until I got the book Seven Day Rescue Diet by Rip Esselstyn that I found a simple and easy diet to follow.  And that was when I started to lose weight.  Was it hard?  Well, cooking without oil can be a little bit difficult, but I quickly adjusted.  Now I use some water instead of oil and I add more herbs and spices to my food then I ever did before.  One of the easy things about this diet change is that I liked all the foods that I was eating.  For the first month, I was completely about cooking my own food.  These days I will get a pizza with no cheese on it from the local take-out, so no, I don’t feel “cheated”.   I will also eat Chinese take-out that has been steamed with no sauce on it.

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So, have I been losing weight?  Yes!  With absolutely no calorie restriction (I actually eat a lot), so far, I’ve lost 23 pounds.  For a moderately over-weight woman of over 50 this is huge.  I don’t exercise every day, but I do eat all I want every day.  Here is a list of my meals for one day:

Breakfast – one shredded wheat biscuit with plain Almond Milk (I eat Post Shredded Wheat), I only eat one because I also have a large glass of water, a banana and a peach or plum.  If I’m not that hungry I’ll save the banana for a snack around 10:00 or so.  I will eat another banana if I’m hungry later on in the morning.

Lunch – a fairly large salad with either homemade oil-free dressing, or bought oil-free dressing with little to no “extra” stuff in it.  I’ll then have a baked potato with a little salt, pepper and garlic on it.  And again, I’ll have a large glass of water.

Snacks – if I’m hungry in the middle of the afternoon I’ll eat some fruit.  With it being summer, that could be sweet cherries, a peach or plum, grapes or a banana.  If I’m really hungry I’ll have more than one piece of fruit.  If I’m eating cherries I’ll just have a few (or more) handfuls of them.

Dinner –  usually I’ll have a bowl from Seven Day Rescue Diet.  If I’m not having that, I could be steaming up some veggies and having them with preservative and oil-free soy sauce and some brown rice or quinoa.  I put a ton of spices on my food.  I’ve always used a lot.

Desert – I usually have fruit in the evening.  Right now, since it’s summer and strawberry/blueberry season, I’ve been having that for a treat.  And, even though I normally only eat whole food, I will have the vegan whipped cream on those.  Not every night but one or two nights a week.

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When I started this diet, I didn’t eat a single prepared food.  I made everything from scratch, including hummus.  Homemade hummus is really good.  I now eat some no-oil, no-preservative guacamole, oil-free salad dressing, and I make veggie sandwiches with vegan sandwich thins.  But, I mostly (6 days out of 7) still follow the no-oil, low-fat diet.  I now have added plain peanuts to my diet, so that’s really good if you feel like a nosh.  I’ve also had air-popped popcorn with a small amount of salt on it – one caveat, popcorn without vegan butter can be pretty dry.  I’ve also made potato chips in the microwave – they are really good with some garlic powder on them, but are time consuming to make.

The only issue with eating this way is that you have to actually make your meals.  It can take more time than I’m used to, but it also tastes much better than prepared foods.  If you want some recipes let me know and I’ll share some with you.  The other important thing is that I drink a lot of water.  All the time.

As far as health is concerned, I used to have fairly bad asthma and now I don’t.  We’ll see how the rest of the summer goes, but the humidity hasn’t really bothered my breathing as much as before I started this eating plan.  My fibromyalgia also isn’t giving me as much pain as before.  Those were my two health issues, and they seem to be improving.  So, I’m looking forward to losing more weight on my goal to a healthy weight.  If you have any questions let me know in the comments below.

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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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Carnage – A Mockumentary

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I don’t know if any of you saw this mockumentary, but I wanted to talk about it today.  It’s by the BBC and Simon Amstell.   The film shows the “history” of veganism from 1944 to 2067 with the focus on people in the future trying to come to terms with their carnist pasts.  The young people of 2067 don’t understand how people could have eaten animals, and this mockumentary explains the mind-set and attitudes of people regarding animals that helped with the exploitation of animals.

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The movie is actually quite funny, starting with the portrayal of early vegans as absolute nut-cases, as is the usual portrayal.  However, as the United Kingdom begins to deal with extreme weather due to global warming, the attitudes about veganism change.  In case you didn’t know it, animal production is indeed one of the leading causes of climate change due to the cutting down of vast forested areas, and the huge amount of emissions from intensely factory-farmed animals.

https://gelr.org/2015/10/23/a-leading-cause-of-everything-one-industry-that-is-destroying-our-planet-and-our-ability-to-thrive-on-it-georgetown-environmental-law-review/

In the movie, following the invention of a device that allows humans to hear the thoughts of the other animals, veganism goes mainstream, and by 2067 no one eats other animals.   There are some video shown of factory-farming, however the clips are not nearly as graphic as some of the slaughter-house clips you can see on your own on YouTube.

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I hope that many people watch this mockumentary which is available onYouTube and the BBC website.  It’s engaging, funny and a wonderful way to present the facts without being “preachy”.  I really hope that this makes a difference in people’s lives.

https://www.plantbasednews.org/post/carnage-review

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCBCaIYAG7IPKs7mafExL1nQ

 

How the Engine 2 Seven Day Rescue Diet Worked for Me

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I wrote a post two weeks ago, about going to see Rip Esselstyn talk about the plant-based rescue diet he recommends in his latest book, and how I was planning to use this rescue diet in order to reboot my diet.  I’d been relying on prepared vegan foods too much, and since prepared food is not good for you, even if it is plant-based, I needed a rescue.

So, here I am, after my initial seven days to tell you how it all went.  First of all, most of the meals I prepared were his “bowls”, and they were all delicious!  I also tried some of his oil-free dressings, and they too were really good.  In the future, I’m going to make my own hummus, since it’s really easy and you can make it without any oil.

Talking about oil, on Thursday I did have a terrible craving for “naughty” foods, including potato chips.  I can tell you that I didn’t eat any and instead had some red seedless grapes that astonished me by how good they tasted.  One of the most difficult things I found on this diet is that I had to eat, not drink my food.  So, no morning smoothie for me.  I missed that, but found that I really like drinking cold water in the morning.  I still drank my coffee, only without sugar, and I put some non-sweetened almond milk (even though that wasn’t recommended).  The other huge change is that I ate oatmeal every morning for breakfast.  I’ve never really enjoyed oatmeal, but I was able to put some maple syrup in it, along with cinnamon and various fruits.  I’ve used oranges, bananas and blueberries, which were good and pretty filling.  Some days I have either a Halo orange or a banana around ten o’clock or so, and other days I’m good until lunch.

My lunches either consisted of a large salad with one of the oil-free dressing along with a good number of chickpeas thrown in, or a concoction of fresh veggies that I cooked up, oil free, which I put on some toasted oil-free multi-grain sandwich thins.  Again, if I got hungry in the afternoon, I just had one or two pieces of fruit.

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Again, my dinner usually consisted of the “bowls” that I got the recipes out of the book.  Thursday night I made whole-grain pasta along with fresh vine ripened tomatoes, mushrooms, onions and broccoli that I cooked up with some oil-free tomato paste.  That was also a good meal, and I served it with a large salad.

The physical results from these seven days are that my pain that’s associated with Fibromyalgia has lessened somewhat, and I have less brain-fog.  I’ve also lost about 4 pounds, which is always nice.  Am I going to continue?  The answer is yes!  I like the way I’ve been feeling, and want to see if I continue to feel better the longer I stay on this plant-based, no oil or preservatives diet.  Has it been easy?  No, this is not something that you should do without a meal plan.  Also, like I said I plan on making my own hummus, and continue to make my own salad dressings.  This requires planning and cooking – not my strong points.

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While this diet is not easy, and it does come at a cost – time to plan, time to cook, I am trying to look at it this way – What is the cost of your health?  Do I want to be sick and have to pay for that with my time and money, or do I want to stay as healthy as I can for as long as I can?  This choice is up to me, and I choose health!

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72 year-old Annette Larkins, Vegan

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!

 

Good Things This Week

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In a conscientious effort, I’m trying to keep myself looking at the positive while working against the negative, so here are a few good things about this week.  I finished my Entrepreneur Seminar, got some really good information (and free gifts), and am feeling energized to continue along this path!  Then of course, I’ve been trying some new recipes, and making up some of my own.  Here is one that actually came out really good.

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Steamed veggies

Steamed Veggies:

Green cabbage, sliced thin – I used about 1/8 of a cabbage  (Just a note, green cabbage is incredibly cheap)

¼ onion, sliced

About six baby carrots, sliced thin – use as many as you like

Some mushrooms, depending on how much you like.

I then put all these in a bowl  and mixed some herbs and spices in.  Use whatever you feel like.  I put in some sage, rosemary, garlic, marjoram, thyme and sage.

Steam for about five or so minutes.  My steamer is pretty small, so I made a few batches.  This made enough for my lunch.  I added a little soy sauce for the extra flavor.  I also had a baked red potato to round out the meal.  I also saved the leftover water, since it was infused with the taste and smell of the veggies, spices and herbs.  I used it in the soup I made last night.  Very good!

Vegan cooking is so easy.  I’m not saying that all my improvised meals are good, however, I’ve had more hits then misses lately.

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I’ve been working out every morning, and walking before lunch.  I’m starting to feel pretty good.  I’ve also added Sun Salutations to my daily workout, and find that the proper breathing is helping with my stress.  Another “good thing”.

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The full moon peeking out from behind the trees at dusk.

I hope that you’ve had a good and productive week and that you’ve found some things to be grateful for.  I’m glad that I’ve been making the effort to spend some time looking for the positive.  Here are some pictures I took this week.  The first is sunrise the day after the snow, and the other is one of my hemlock trees draped in snow.