WHAT I EAT IN A DAY, AS A PALEO-VEGAN

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     When the Ethical Writers and Creatives, a group that I'm a member of, proposed that we all do a "What we Eat and Why" link up, I was eager to participate. The questions, What is healthy?What is morally right?, and What is sustainable?, all come with answers that are different for everyone. They are also often met with an eye-roll. I know I've asked myself these questions, on my journey to live a better life, with multiple answers that have shape-shifted and evolved over time.

My Dieting Journey (eating disorder included)

      I started off on a standard American diet. Around the age of 21, I became vegetarian, then vegan, and subsequently developed "orthorexia" due to the pressures that I put on myself to be a size zero for the fashion industry. I am more naturally a size 4, so I used my vegan diet as an excuse to under-eat and make myself smaller for my work. Last year, I was able to recover with the help of my family and friends, and got back to my healthy weight. I realized that I was blogging and speaking up for the health of animals and environment, but I wasn’t treating myself with the same compassion. I decided that, in order to be sustainable for myself, something had to change.

     I still wanted to be vegan for ethical reasons, but needed something different that would allow me to gain weight in a “healthy” way. You can read more about the importance of eating less meat for our environment in this post. I listened to a famous vegan YouTuber who touts, "Eat as much as you want, just very low fat and lots of fruits!" so I when I first upped my calories, I went on a high-carb low-fat (HCLF) vegan diet. I should also add that this new diet had a heavy emphasis on sugar being perfectly healthy.  (Is your head spinning yet? I know mine is..)

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"High-carb, low-fat vegan was actually making me sick."

     Soon thereafter, although I gained the weight back and was no longer feeling malnourished, my health began to suffer in other ways. At the time, I truly believed that my new diet was the way to recover from years of under-eating, in a healthy way. In hindsight, any diet that celebrates table sugar and eating pounds of fruit probably isn't a smart idea. In November 2017, I tested positive for hormonal imbalances, had extreme fatigue, and developed Perioral Dermatitis on my face. Obviously, something wasn't working.

     Instead of trying to tackle my diet on my own again, I decided to seek the help of an Institute of Functional Medicine Certified Herbalist and Nutritionist. With their guidance, I have been eating a plant-based Paleo type diet, that avoids excess sugars and increases my daily fat intake. (phew!) It appears that high-carb, low-fat vegan was actually making me sick, and the key for me is balance! I truly hope that this new diet helps me achieve sustainable health, and is also sustainable for the planet. Only time will tell.

Whole Food, Plant-Based or Paleo-Vegan?

    My current diet is still plant-based and made up of primarily whole foods. Almost all plant foods, except for grains and white potatoes, are also considered Paleo. What makes my diet more specifically paleo rather than whole food, plant-based, is that I am limiting my fruit and bean intake to only once a day, and rarely eating quinoa with no other grains.  You may have heard of the term "Paleo" lately and associate it with high meat consumption only. I believe that my vegan diet however, fits into that category as well.

     A Paleo diet is loosely defined as a diet based on the types of foods presumed to have been eaten by early humans (1). Since we only have presumptions to go off of, it's my opinion that a vegan diet, as long as it doesn't include grains, processed junk foods, sugars, and alcohol, is also one that our Paleolithic ancestors may have thrived on. 

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What I Eat in a Day:

      My whole food, plant-based, Paleo-type diet (again with the long labels... sorry!) gets the majority of its bulk from non-starchy vegetables. These include leafy greens, broccoli, cauliflower, kale, green beans, zucchini, celery, cucumber, collards, tomatoes, etc. It also more sparingly includes starchy vegetables (legumes and root vegetables), fruits, seeds and nuts, avocados, unsweetened plant “milks,” tofu, tempeh, and oils. All herbs and spices are allowed, and a big part of my treatment is a personalized herbal tea that I drink twice daily. The biggest adjustment has been cooking myself vegetables for breakfast in the winter, instead of having lots of fruit or cold cereals.

     I am also not supposed to have frequent snacks throughout the day, but instead three solid meals. This was difficult the first week, but now my body is used to it. Intermittent fasting (not snacking and having a long break between dinner and breakfast) is said to allow the body to heal faster, because your energy isn't allocated to digesting all day long (3). I feel this has been very beneficial for my health. The saving grace for me, in this diet that makes me abstain from sweets, is that I don't have to give up dark chocolate or coffee. Two of my favorite things. My standard daily meals look something like this:    

Breakfast

Smoothie bowl with paleo granola or fresh fruit in the summer. I try to use low sugar fruits such as berries, and apples, as well as fresh greens in my smoothies as well. Cooked veggies and tofu scrambles for in the winter.

 image and recipe via  Fool Proof Living

image and recipe via Fool Proof Living

 Recipe and Image Via the  Minimalist Baker

Recipe and Image Via the Minimalist Baker

Lunch

A veggie-heavy salad in the summer, including kale or mixed greens, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots, radishes, alfalfa sprouts, overnight-soaked legumes (peas, lentils, beans, etc.), half of an avocado, and freshly squeezed lemon, for my lunch... Or (you guessed it) more cooked veggies or a soup in the winter.

 GoodNess bowl  via Lazy Cat Kitchen

GoodNess bowl via Lazy Cat Kitchen

 my favorite meal out: sides matter from Hu Kitchen

my favorite meal out: sides matter from Hu Kitchen

Dinner

For dinner, my favorite meal is a macrobiotic bowl (sans grains) in the summer, and roasted veggie power bowl in the winter. Check out my post about the macrobiotic diet here.

 Home Cooked meal from Model4greenliving

Home Cooked meal from Model4greenliving

 Paprika Roasted Macro Bowl via  FLora and Vino

Paprika Roasted Macro Bowl via FLora and Vino


      I try to vary what I eat everyday based upon what's in season and listen to my body when I shop. If I look at fresh corn or green beans, for example, and my mouth starts to water than I know my body wants it. Listen to your body too! The healthier you eat, the more in tune you begin to be with what your body really needs. I have found that, during the summer, a combination of raw fruits and veggies during the day and cooked veggies at night works best. During the winter, I eat more hot, cooked veggies and tofu scrambles for breakfast, soups and roasted vegetables during the day, and cooked vegan dishes at night. I also try to combine my fat intake with salads and cruciferous vegetables so my body can process my meal more easily (3).

     I hope this look into a typical day for me has been helpful for you. Everyone is different, so I am by no means prescribing my diet for you, or criticizing anyone who eats differently than me. To say this has been a fun and easy process would be a lie. I do know however, that through this undertaking, I am setting my self up for sustainable health in the long run. Let me know in the questions below if you have any questions, and check out this great book to learn more about a whole food, plant-based diet.


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MAKE THIS EASY, PLANT-BASED PIE FOR YOUR HOLIDAY AT HOME

This decadent, vegan pie is the perfect dessert for holidays spent at home.

     It's the holidays, and for me that means spreading compassion however I can. Even with food! If you're at all like me, then you may be the only vegan in your household too, and you want to make dishes that everyone loves. This pie is sure to please everyone who has a sweet tooth... and watch out, because it will disappear fast! It's so good that it may even convert your non-vegan family members... or at least encourage them that plant-based doesn't mean boring.

     Made with chocolate and hazelnuts, it fits just as well with warm holiday dishes as it does with a pile of raw greens and fruits. Thankfully it's a pretty straightforward one to whip up and you probably have the majority of the ingredients hanging out in your pantry already. Even in a blizzard, a skip down to the bodega or corner store for hazelnuts is not out of the question. These measurements can be changed to fit your dietary needs and tastebuds also, so feel free to adjust as you see fit. Bon Appétit!

 
This post originally appeared on Sustaining.Lifewhere you can find simple vegan recipes, a sustainable shopping guide, and holistic musings about living a sustainable lifestyle. All images are by Faye Lessler.

Vegan Chocolate Hazelnut TortE

Prep time: 60 minutes. Cook time: 30 minutes.

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Ingredients:

• 1 cup flour

• 1 1/2 cup hazelnuts

• 6 oz dark chocolate (75% - 100%) - you can sub up to half of this with cacao or cocoa powder if you're running short on chocolate chips/baking chocolate

• 1 tsp vanilla extract

•  2 tbsp maple syrup

1 cup sugar

• 3 tbsp coconut oil (cold, slightly solid)

• 2-6 tbsp ice wate


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Directions:

1. Grind 1/2 of the hazelnuts in a blender until powdered. Add flour, hazelnut powder and 1/2 of the sugar to a large mixing bowl and incorporate.

2. Add 2 tbsp coconut oil and iced water, adding one tbsp at a time as you mix with a wooden spoon. Dough should form, smooth but a little crumbly. Roll into a ball and refrigerate for 1 hour.

3. Once cooled, roll out as much as possible before pressing dough into the pie dish. Heat oven to 350*F.

4. Prepare a double boiler by placing a smaller pot inside of a larger one, 1/3 full of water. As the water in the bottom pot boils, the smaller pot will float without touching the bottom of the larger pot. Add chocolate, vanilla and 1 tbsp coconut oil to the small pot and let melt.

5. When chocolate is 1/2 melted, add remaining sugar and maple syrup, stirring as you go. Remove from heat just before all of the chocolate is melted and stir vigorously until smooth (or as smooth as you can get).

6. Add remaining hazelnuts, roughly chopped, to the melted chocolate and mix thoroughly. 

7. Add chocolate mixture to the crust, even out with a spatula, then top with more chopped hazelnut pieces.

8. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the center of the pie settles and the crust is browned.

9. Let cool for 20 minutes, then slice and serve with a generous helping of vegan ice cream! This torte is even better served cold the next day.

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Renee Peters

Renee Peters is a NYC-based model, blogger, and advocate of mindful, sustainable living. She strives to be a role model by using her platform for positive change. Through her blog, Model4GreenLiving, Peters seeks to reshape the way people think about environmental issues and provide practical tips and everyday actions for readers.  Peters uses social media to promote that same message, as well as one of self-love and body-positivity. She also volunteers, is an environmental activist, and is an avid learner of anything relating to the planet and its health. For booking inquires visit Muse Models NYC or Nomad Management Miami.

FALL IN LOVE WITH THE SUPER FOODS OF FALL (PART II)

Ginger

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     Known to aid in digestion, relieve symptoms of nausea, treat severe menstrual pain, and reduce inflammation, ginger is an amazing food to incorporate in your diet year round.

     Ginger contains both phenols and gingerols. The phenolic compounds in ginger help relieve irritation in the stomach and intestines, and aid in digestion by stimulating saliva and bile production. Chewing raw ginger or drinking ginger tea helps treat nausea naturally, and is commonly used by pregnant women experiencing morning sickness. Gingerols, naturally occurring oils in ginger, are potent anti-inflammatories, and fresh ginger has been used for centuries to reduce inflammation. Recent studies have shown that ginger may help treat more serious inflammatory conditions such as Cancer, although further research is necessary. For women experiencing severe pain with menstruation, ground ginger taken in the form of capsules has been shown reduce the pain's severity.

     Ginger root is typically harvested in then fall and winter months. Freshly cut ginger is a perfect addition to tea, and as temperatures begin to drop hot beverages are more and more appealing.  Lemon-ginger Green Tea is one of my favorite nutrition-packed beverages for fall, and can help boost our immune systems for the "cold and flu season" ahead. 

Kale

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     Kale is one of my favorite dark, leafy greens. Commonly harvested in the fall, it provides a wide variety of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Incorporating kale into your diet can aid in digestion, improve issues associated with diabetes, help protect again bone fractures, and maintain healthy skin and hair. 

     The high amount of fiber in kale ( g per serving), along with its high water content, helps promote digestive health and prevent constipation. High fiber diets have been proven to reduce blood-glucose levels, and may even improve the lives of Type 2 diabetics by stabilizing blood sugar, insulin, and lipid levels. Kale also contains the antioxidant alpha-lipoic acid, which has been found to lower glucose levels while also increasing insulin sensitivity. The high amount of vitamin K found in kale (550 micrograms: 680% of our daily requirements) improves calcium absorption and strengthens bone matrix proteins, helping protect against bone fractures. Our skin and hair benefit from eating kale as well. Collagen levels are maintained best when vitamin C is readily available from sources such as kale. Having adequate collagen helps skin stay supple and hair remain strong. Skin also benefits from kale, because it contains high amounts of vitamin A and iron. 

    Eaten cooked (in soups, stews, or stir-fry) or raw (in salads or as a taco-topper), kale incorporated into your diet can benefit health year-round.

Mushrooms

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     Mushrooms aren’t plants so they don’t contain the phytonutrients (nutrients specific to plants such as beta-carotene) associated with my other “Superfoods of Fall”. They do however provide immense nutritional value from the vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients they contain.

     Mushrooms have a higher level of antioxidants than many plants, including green peppers and zucchinis, due to their high levels of polyphenols.  One powerful micronutrient found in high concentrations in mushrooms is the antioxidant ergothioneine. Cooking actually releases this powerful nutrient from the mushroom cells, and increases its anti-inflammatory effects. Mushrooms are a common part of homeopathic medicine and have been used in natural remedies for centuries. Certain compounds in mushrooms are now being studied scientifically by researchers to determine their anti-inflammatory effects. A few of the bioactive compounds discovered include polysaccharides, phenolic compounds, steroids, and lectins. 

     Along with the antioxidants listen above, mushrooms are also a good source of B vitamins (niacin, pantothenic acid, and riboflavin) and contain the minerals iron, and selenium. Mushrooms contain no fat, are low in carbohydrates, and high in fiber. They are a definite “superfood” to include in your diet this Fall.

Rutabagas

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     Rutabaga, first discovered growing wild in Sweden, are cruciferous vegetables related to broccoli, cabbage and kale. They are a root vegetable harvested in the fall and have a similartaste to turnips. They are a great source of potassium and phosphorus, vitamin C and iron, and also the cancer-fighting substance glucosinolate. Rutabaga is wonderful cooked and served warm like mashed potatoes, cooked in soups and stews, or eaten raw as a salad topper to add a bit of crunch.

     Potassium found in rutabaga (8% RDA in one cooked-cup) aids in protein and carbohydrate metabolism, and helps maintain proper fluid balance in the body. Rutabaga also contain 10% of your daily recommendation for phosphorous. Phosphorus aids in the metabolism and synthesis of proteins, and is an important mineral to maintain strong bones. Proper neurotransmitter function and collagen production both require adequate levels of vitamin C. 20-30% of your daily vitamin C requirements can come from eating just one serving of this “super food”. The vitamin C in rutabaga also allows for greater absorption of iron. One rutabaga contains about 5% of your daily needs. 

     Rutabaga has proven beneficial in protecting against cancer-causing carcinogens, and even aids in the reduction of colon and prostate cancers. Cruciferous vegetables, such as rutabagas, are excellent sources of sulfur-containing substances called glucosinolates. These compounds are responsible for the bitter taste and pungent aroma of cruciferous vegetables. According to the Linus Pauling Institute, glucosinolates may help eliminate carcinogens before they can damage DNA or alter certain cell-signaling pathways. In turn, normal cells aren't transformed into cancerous cells.

     Mild and sweet, rutabaga is a great comfort food for fall.

 
Comment

Renee Peters

Renee Peters is a NYC-based model, blogger, and advocate of mindful, sustainable living. She strives to be a role model by using her platform for positive change. Through her blog, Model4GreenLiving, Peters seeks to reshape the way people think about environmental issues and provide practical tips and everyday actions for readers.  Peters uses social media to promote that same message, as well as one of self-love and body-positivity. She also volunteers, is an environmental activist, and is an avid learner of anything relating to the planet and its health. For booking inquires visit Muse Models NYC or Nomad Management Miami.

WHAT IS THE MACROBIOTIC DIET?

HISTORY OF MACROBIOTIC:

      The Macrobiotic diet goes all the way back to the late 16th century. It was first mentioned in Christoph Wilhelm Hufeland's book The Art of Prolonging Human Life (1797).  It was  expanded in the late 19th century by doctor Sagen Ishizuka. He conducted clinical trials on thousands of Japanese patients and eventually used these overwhelmingly successsful results to help found his association, "Shokuyo" in 1907.

BASIC PRINCIPLES:

      "Japanese macrobiotics emphasizes locally grown whole grain cereals, legumes, vegetables, seaweed, fermented soy and other vegetables, as well as fruits." It is based on the idea of yin and yang. Certain foods are considered more Yin: "expansive, light and cold", and others are considered more Yang: "compact, dense, heavy, and hot" (wikipedia).
 
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     The Macrobiotic diet seeks to maintain optimum balance in the body by combining the foods we eat so that there is an equal amount of yin and yang in every meal. It also recognizes that the body needs different types of foods at different times of the year. This is why there is a high emphasis on eating seasonally and locally.

 

THE GUIDELINES TO MACROBIOTIC:

 

PRINCIPLE FOODS

-Whole Grians 30%

-Vegetables 35%

-Beans and Tempeh 10% 

Secondary foods:

-Fruits 10%

-Oils, Nuts, and Seeds 10%

Other foods/beverages:

(herbal teas, vegetable juices, and lots of water, Fermented foods (kim chee, sauerkraut, pickles, miso, etc) and Seaweed) 5%

YIN/YANG and BALANCED FOODS Chart:

*Aim to eat as close to the middle of the chart shown above as possible  (under Mininal Yang and Minimal Ying columns).

FOOD TO AVOID:

     -Dairy (milk, cheese, cream, ghee, whey, yogurt, and ice cream) -   Animal proteins (meat, eggs, gelatin) -White/ brown sugar, maple syrup, corn syrup, and other refined sweeteners -Processed fruit juices from concentrate -Refined oils -Alcohol -White Rice -White Flour -Artificial Chemicals, preservatives, and dyes.

 

SEASONAL MEAL EXAMPLES:

Winter Meal

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VEGAN BROWN RICE RISOTTO WITH STEAMED ASPARAGUS

Summer Meal

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RAW VEGAN SPINACH SALAD WITH ALFALFA SPROUTS, CUCUMBER, CARROT, AND TOMATO

THE TAKEAWAY

     Choose most of your food based up the "Slight Yang" and "Slight Yin" columns (80%). The other colums "Moderate Yang" and "Moderate Yin" should compromise the rest of your diet (20%).

     As a vegan I choose to abstain from the foods in the "Extreme Yang" or "Very Yang" Column as well as the cheese, cream, yogurt, and butter from the "Very Yin" column.The only thing from the "Extreme Yin" column that have chosen to include in my diet is caffeine.

     Thank you for reading,

 

Comment

Renee Peters

Renee Peters is a NYC-based model, blogger, and advocate of mindful, sustainable living. She strives to be a role model by using her platform for positive change. Through her blog, Model4GreenLiving, Peters seeks to reshape the way people think about environmental issues and provide practical tips and everyday actions for readers.  Peters uses social media to promote that same message, as well as one of self-love and body-positivity. She also volunteers, is an environmental activist, and is an avid learner of anything relating to the planet and its health. For booking inquires visit Muse Models NYC or Nomad Management Miami.

GLUTEN FREE, VEGAN, MATCHA CHIA ENERGY BARS

Gluten Free, Vegan, Matcha Chia Energy Bars

Ingredients:

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1 cup oats, divided
1/4 cup flax seeds
2 tsp matcha
1 tsp maca
1/8 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
pinch of cloves, black pepper, nutmeg
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup buckwheat
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/2 cup shredded coconut
3/4 cup water
1 cup dates, pitted, packed
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 banana, sliced (for topping)

Instructions:

In blender, blend 1/2 cup oats, flax seeds, matcha, spices, and salt until fine & smooth
In a separate bowl, combine buckwheat, chia seeds and shredded coconut, then add the spiced oat flour mixture. 
Blend water, dates, and vanilla until smooth & creamy
Add the liquid mixture to the dry, mix well, and spread into a 9 inch square pan
Lay out banana slices on top, and sprinkle with more coconut flakes
Bake at 350 F for 25-27 mins  
Allow it to cool before cutting

*Extra topping: blend 1/2 cup dates with 3/4 cup water (+1/4 cup if you prefer less thick), 1/2 tsp vanilla, and a dash of salt to make a salted caramel sauce, and drizzle on top before serving!

Bon Appetite!

A huge thanks to XOWilhelmina.com and Julia at the Little Choc Apothecary for this feature. Check them out for more information about both!

HAVE A VEGAN, NO-TURKEY THANKSGIVING

Thanksgiving doesn't have to include a turkey, or any other animal products at all! This year, why not try an all-vegan feast?!

     With more and more people recognizing the impact that the animal-agriculture industry has on our environment, a major food movement is occurring. Whole food, plant based diets are no longer a thing for the fringes, and there is a real need for delicious, cruelty-free alternatives.

     Last year my family and I had Roasted Brussel Sprouts in Garlic, Spicy Southern Style Collard Greens, an Asian Pear Kale salad with a homemade Maple Dijon Vinaigrette, and warm Quinoa with a Mushroom Gravy. Stuffed Butternut Squash was the main course, and MMM MM was it delish! 

     This Thanksgiving I invite you to try an all vegan feast like me!

Click the photo above to get the recipe for this amazing vegan-holiday meal idea! 

 
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Renee Peters

Renee Peters is a NYC-based model, blogger, and advocate of mindful, sustainable living. She strives to be a role model by using her platform for positive change. Through her blog, Model4GreenLiving, Peters seeks to reshape the way people think about environmental issues and provide practical tips and everyday actions for readers.  Peters uses social media to promote that same message, as well as one of self-love and body-positivity. She also volunteers, is an environmental activist, and is an avid learner of anything relating to the planet and its health. For booking inquires visit Muse Models NYC or Nomad Management Miami.