Poor nutrition isn’t about fat — it’s about life and death

There are a lot of damaging lies about health and nutrition, but none as physically and emotionally crippling as this: the lie that being fat is the problem we need to solve.

It isn’t. In fact, fat is a sign that your body is out of balance and desperately trying to cope.

The ways and reasons that excess body fat accumulates should be paid urgent attention, much more than the “muffin top” or “saddlebags” we wear. An overloaded liver, unbalanced hormones, excessive stress levels, and nutritional deficiencies are just a few of the reasons our bodies are forced to create and store fat. And all of them have much more serious ramifications than we often believe.

But perhaps the biggest concern of all is that we believe fat is a matter of willpower, or lack thereof. We think that if we just stay off the sugar and carbs and spend our lives at the gym then everything will be in balance and we will be the picture of trim, slim, health and perfection.

This is far from the whole picture — and the whole picture is far more terrifying.

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Everything you know about protein is wrong

When you become vegan or vegetarian, suddenly everyone becomes all concerned about your protein intake. With frenetic intensity they ask, “But where do you get your protein?” And though they seem to genuinely want to know, they’re already skeptical of the answer before they’ve even heard it.

That’s because our culture’s beliefs about animal-based proteins are so deeply entrenched that to go against them is nothing short of blasphemy. But the thing is, those beliefs are based on myths, misinformation, and lies.

The myths about protein

Take a look at the most pervasive beliefs about meat and protein:

  • Protein is only found in animal products like meat, eggs, and dairy.
  • You need to eat meat (a lot of it) to build muscle mass, and you need lots of protein to slim down.
  • Protein keeps you fuller longer.
  • The more protein in your diet the better.

And while there is plenty of testimonial and anecdotal evidence to back these claims, the most complete and un-biased research (read: the studies not commissioned by the meat industry) proves them all to be false. Let’s look at the claims one by one, paired with the truth about protein — including the facts about how much you protein you really need.

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7 reasons you should make ready-to-eat snack bags

When you’ve got little kids, snack time is a way of life. It seems like someone is always hungry or begging for a snack, which can mean countless trips for mom to the pantry or fridge each week. One of my favorite ways to streamline my life in the kitchen is to make ready-to-eat snack bags, all prepped and easily accessible for little hands.

Having snack bags is like meal planning for snacks. You don’t necessarily need to make a strict plan, but you do need to think ahead to have treats on hand. After that, it’s easy as pie.  Continue reading

Tips for keeping your grocery budget under control

How much do you spend on groceries each month?

It’s a question that’s being discussed right now in several Facebook groups I’m in, and the answers are as varied as they come. Most families with four or more children make it on anywhere from $500 to $1,000 a month, but some smaller families even exceed that.

One thing that is consistent: Everyone wishes they could spend a little less.

In 2011 I quit my job to become a full-time mom to my then-9-month-old son, taking our family from two full-time incomes to one. So being able to spend a little less on groceries was not just a nice skill to have, it was a matter of survival.

Fast-forward to today, and I’ve got grocery shopping down to a science. For our family of 5, I spend between $40 and $60 each week, but no more than $200 a month on groceries. Like a BOSS.

Here’s what I picked up today from my Winco store in Utah for $51.26:

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Recipe: Healthy Banana Muffins

Got another breakfast blender recipe, because you know I’m obsessed with my Blendtec. In fact, this recipe was inspired by the cookbook that came with my blender. I’ve been making the original banana chocolate chip muffin recipe for years and is one of my son’s favorites. The first  change I made was to put a few chocolate chips on top of each muffin instead of mixing them throughout the batter — but then I noticed that Evan would only eat the top of the muffin and abandon the rest. So I went back to the drawing board.

I figured that if the muffins themselves weren’t enough enticement to get Evan to eat the entire thing, I might as well tweak the recipe to make them as healthy as possible so at least my babies and I would get the good stuff. If I could convince him to eat up, then that was a bonus. (We have an extremely selective eater on our hands, folks. Sometimes we take what we can get.)

Email BoxThe first thing I did was swap out a few less-than-healthy ingredients for whole-foods, plant-based ingredients. Then I decided that if chocolate chips are the key to getting Evan to eat, I was willing to go with it. So instead of plopping a few big ones on top, I’d mix a few mini chocolate chips throughout each muffin. This way the amount of chocolate is about the same, maybe less even, but he has an incentive to keep eating once he was done with the muffin top. The result? Fluffy, moist, healthy whole-wheat muffins that my whole family will eat. Win! Continue reading

Recipe: Hold-the-Tuna Salad

Here’s a fresh, tasty lunch idea that will appeal to you meat-free folks: tuna salad minus the tuna, with all the flavor and fixin’s of the original but completely vegan. Instead of tuna, the base is made of nuts and seeds, soaked, chopped and flaked to mimic the texture of tuna salad to a T.

When I excitedly tried to share this recipe with some of my family members, they eyed me dubiously and said, “Why don’t you just use tuna?” A valid point, I suppose.

For me the answer is simple: Because I don’t like tuna, or any other fish. I never have. Plus, I don’t like mayo. That’s two strikes right there, no need to go for a third. Continue reading

What is a plant-based diet?

When people hear “plant-based,” they often think of piles upon piles of leafy greens. In fact, when I tell people that I have switched to a plant-based diet, I am pretty sure they imagine me eating bowl after bowl of raw broccoli or gigantic salads without dressing.

If that’s what people think, I can see why the idea of plant-based eating is so unappealing.

The truth, thankfully, is much different.

A plant-based diet is not solely based on vegetables, and you don’t have to go completely vegan or even vegetarian. A whole-foods, plant-based diet is made up of a variety of foods found in nature. The idea is to consume them as close to whole as possible, not processed beyond recognition — but not only eaten in their raw, natural state, either. These foods form the ingredients for some of your favorite dishes — soups, breads, burritos, you name it. When made from scratch instead of consumed in processed, sugar- and chemical-laden, ready-made, store-bought packages, your favorites become some of the healthiest foods you can eat. All it takes is a little slicing, dicing, blending, and sauteing, and voila!  Nature’s most delicious offerings become your new family favorites.

The other day, for example, I ate onion, garlic, carrots, potatoes, zucchini, celery, tomatoes, vegetable broth, white beans, and kale for dinner. But I didn’t eat them like this:

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Photo Credit: Minimalist Baker

 

 

I ate them like this:

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Photo Credit: Minimalist Baker

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The secret to cooking brown rice (and why you should switch)

Do you know the difference between white rice and brown rice? (Did you even know there is a difference?)

The simple answer is, white rice is brown rice that’s been processed. White rice has been milled so that the bran and much of the germ has been removed, according to Organic Authority, “reducing fiber and nutrient content drastically. The grain is further polished to take away the remaining layer of germ (called the aleurone layer) which contains essential oils.” Since the nutrients have been stripped, white rice is often “fortified,” meaning that manufacturers go back and add in synthetic vitamins and minerals, making them even more processed and far less natural.

Brown rice, on the other hand, is a whole grain. Only the outer layer (the inedible husk or the hull) has been removed, so all the nutrients are still intact. No further processing necessary.

 

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Recipe roundup: 3 savories and a life-changing sweet

The thing I am asked most frequently about my whole foods, plant-based diet (aside from, “So, wait, are you vegan now?”) is for tasty new recipes. This is reassuring, actually, because it must mean I’m not considered some crazy, crunchy health-food nut after all — that there’s actually a very broad interest in cooking fresh, homemade food, and that people trust me enough not to lead them astray in my recommendations.

Well, I’m happy to oblige. Here’s a look at three savory dinner recipes and one sweet treat that I’ve made in the past few months that I thought were just delicious, along with notes on any changes I may have made. More to come!

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup from Choosing Raw

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Photo credit: ChoosingRaw.com

 

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