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Sunday, September 29, 2013

I have to eat meat!


In a recent conversation with my husband, we were discussing some of the reactions people have had when we say we are vegans. Hands down, the number one response is, "I couldn't do that! I HAVE to eat meat! My body CRAVES it!" So, this post is my well thought-out response to that declaration. :-)

First of all, no human craves meat. If you were wired to HAVE to eat meat for your diet, you would see a live cow and have the instinct to tackle it, strangle it, and claw through its flesh to get to the meat. This is simply not the way we were created. A LION (as well as other carnivorous animals), however, is wired this way. Think about it. You don't have this instant impulse to chase after a rabbit on your leisurely neighborhood walk, do you??? Also, check out your teeth sometime. You do not have teeth that were meant to tear flesh. 

Another pertinent point is that humans have 20-25 feet of intestines. When you eat meat, it takes a very long time for this meat to move through them. In that time, the meat begins to rot--right there in your body! Meat decays rapidly. That's why we are always so careful to keep it refrigerated and eaten in a short amount of time. The rise in colon cancer is astronomical, and many believe that this is a top reason for it. The American Cancer Society's estimates for the number of colorectal cancer cases in the United States for 2013 are:
102,480 new cases of colon cancer
40,340 new cases of rectal cancer

That is highly disturbing!

By contrast, carnivorous animals (tigers, lions, jaguar, hyena, wolf, dogs and panthers) have intestines only about three times their length, and they are wider and smoother, meant for quickly processing meat. 

Second of all, you may be having a craving, but it is for a flavor or texture, not necessarily a specific type of food. If you are honest with yourself, you will admit that most people do not crave a chicken breast that has been baked or boiled without any seasoning, coatings, or sauce poured over it. People crave a particular dish--like fried chicken, or chicken salad, or chicken cordon bleu. The meat is part of a dish and has a texture that we like to eat along with that sauce, coating, or seasoning. As a vegan, I have learned to understand what I like about certain foods (the flavor and texture) in order to prepare foods that satisfy my desires. Believe it or not, it is possible to satisfy a craving for something salty and deep-fried with a much healthier option.

Thirdly, you may be having a craving (that you mistake for being meat) because you have a vitamin or mineral deficiency. How many of us go to the doctor and actually have blood work done to see if all of your vitamin and mineral levels are in check? Red meat contains quite a bit of iron and amino acids. It is quite possible that you are in desperate need of certain vitamins and/or minerals. Simply get tested and find out! Plant-based foods meet all of your vitamin and mineral needs, with one exception--vitamin B12. However, read my post on vitamin B12 to understand WHY that is the case.

Lastly, you may be having a craving because your diet is not well-rounded and healthy. When you are eating more than eight servings of fruits and veggies a day, along with whole grains and beans, you will not feel hungry or have cravings for processed foods. You will also NOT crave meat. Once you rid your body of animal products and processed foods, you no longer crave them. Sure, you love something sweet from time to time. Fruit is the answer!

If you are "craving" meat, you really aren't craving meat. You're either craving a flavor and/or texture, a particular dish, have a vitamin or mineral deficiency, or admit it...you might not be eating a well-rounded, healthy diet.

Hope this gives you something to think about!

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Time Savers

Since I am a teacher (and the beginning of the school year is in sight), I am desperately looking for gadgets to help make preparing meals easier. I usually spend an hour on Sundays getting things ready for the week, and I want to share some of what I found to be helpful.

First off, I like to chop onions and freeze them. I found the onion-chopping gadget you see above at Aldi for about $10. However, you can also find another (identical) version on Amazon.com here. It's easy to use. You just chop the ends off the onion and take off the outer layer of skin. Cut the onion in half (in quarters if it's really big), stick it on the grid, and slam down (with a swift motion). It dices quickly and perfectly every time. I always put each chopped onion in a zip-lock sandwich bag. Then, I freeze all the individual bags in one gallon-sized freezer bag together. You can also chop potatoes and apples in this, but you have to cut them in thick slices first.

The next gadget I purchased (and LOVE!) is my vegetable peeler. I have purchased this for many friends, and ALL of them say they threw out all of their other peelers because this one is the best.
It's called the Messermeister Pro-Touch Red Serrated Swivel Peeler, and it can also be purchased on Amazon.com (as well as other places). This baby even peels kiwi effortlessly. I can peel about eight potatoes in 5 minutes. I'm not kidding!

I also love to make pesto and freeze it. I purchased the Cuisinart Mini Prep Plus 3-Cup 250-Watt Food Processor. It chops an apple or onion in seconds. It can even make a double batch of my pesto at one time, even though it's small. It's a breeze to wash, too! I also make whole wheat bread crumbs from very dry toast in this. I just break the toast up into pieces and buzz them a few times to create fresh breadcrumbs. Then, I double-bag them and freeze them for later use.

Making and freeze packets of rice on your prep day is another way to prevent having to do that on a school night. You can use my "Perfect Brown Rice" method and then freeze servings in zip-lock bags, or you can make fresh rice in my favorite microwave cooker from Pampered Chef in 20 minutes. This is THE BEST microwave rice cooker on the market because it NEVER overboils. You will never have to clean out your microwave afterward!

This is not really a gadget, but I love Rubbermaid and Lock-n-Lock containers. After chopping fresh veggies, I put them in them in containers for the week. I particularly like the 24-cup Rubbermaid  rectangular container because I can put several chopped veggies in it, and they stay fresh longer because there is room around them. I use Lock-in-Locks for my homemade vegan Parmesan cheese and peanut butter.

Speaking of peanut butter, I also prepare fresh peanut butter a couple of times a month in my BlendTec blender. Then, we always have it on hand for sandwiches, Asian dishes, or for making dog cookies! This is a gadget I can't imagine living without! I make everything with it--Smoothies, sno-cones, soups, nut butters, Parmesan cheese, ice cream, sorbet, pancake batter, refried beans...and the list goes on!

I may revise this post when I think of other gadgets I use to prepare food more quickly. Until then, consider purchasing the gadgets above!





Departure from the traditional salad


I have heard about eating zucchini raw, but that sounded weird to me. WHY HAVE I WAITED SO LONG??!?! Last night, we made this salad with fat-free dressing that was outstanding and SO refreshing!

Salad:
Organic romaine lettuce, shredded
Red and yellow bell peppers, diced
Raw zucchini (peeled first, then julienned or spiralized)

Fat-free Tomato Basil Dressing:
4 large Roma tomatoes, 6 fresh basil leaves, 1/4 t. sea salt or Himalayan pink salt. Blend in high-speed blender until smooth.

Pour dressing over salad and toss.

Here is a link to the julienne peeler

ENJOY!!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Best Breakfast!


Best Breakfast!

Banana Oat Pancakes (I usually double this recipe!)
2 ripe bananas
1 cup almond milk (or any non-dairy milk)
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats (if you are eating gluten-free, use GF oats)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

Put all ingredients in blender and blend until smooth. Let sit for a couple of minutes and cook on medium heat on a non-stick skillet. Make sure you cook them long enough so the inside is dry (not mushy).
Add chocolate chips or cinnamon for a special treat. Serve with 100% real maple syrup.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Woo Hoo! Cholesterol Levels Dropping!

In all the years I have been married (more than 23!), my skinny husband has always struggled with his cholesterol levels. I think his very lowest reading was a 190, but most were over 200. Also, both of his parents have struggled with high cholesterol--even though they are both thin. Somehow, I equate high cholesterol to overweight people, but this is not always the case.

Many diseases (high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, and even cancer) may be in the genes. However, studies are showing that many diseases are onset by a person's diet. As you know, I am reversing my diabetes with a whole foods, plant-based diet. I no longer take meds to control my blood sugar. But can this work for other illnesses? YES!

This morning, my husband got the results of his cholesterol test. We've been eating a plant-strong diet for 13 months now. His cholesterol was a whopping 40 points lower than his lowest reading! This is an incredible drop for someone who has worked so hard through the years (with diet and exercise) to improve this score. We thought we were eating "right" and yet, he never saw a change.

Looking back, it all makes sense. We were not on the right track and didn't have the information we needed to make real change in our health.

I'm not into exercise AT ALL, but to celebrate, I rode my bike four miles this morning. You KNOW this has got to be good news. ;-)