10 Tips To Start Eating Vegan Today!

10 Feb

1. Start With Replacement Foods

There are so many options for new vegans to eat very similar to their current diet! For example, if you love a bagel and cream cheese every morning, don’t drift too far from that when making the initial switch. Even after 5 years of eating completely vegan, I love to start my morning with fresh fruit and then a bagel or english muffin with Tofutti cream cheese (my favorite is the Garlic & Herb flavor). If you love spaghetti and meatballs at dinner, use vegan meatballs and you won’t even notice the difference. You can also use Shirataki Tofu Noodles for a healthier and lower calorie option to traditional pasta. (Delish!)

2. Don’t Deprive Yourself

If you’re hungry…EAT! Stock up on fresh fruits and veggies for snacks and eat them throughout the day. My favorite snacks are clementines, apples, bananas, carrots with humus and celery with almond butter. I also keep dried mango slices (my personal preference are those from Trader Joe’s) and Larabars handy if I’m in a pinch and don’t have access to anything fresh. Keep vegan options everywhere (purse, office, car, gym bag) so you can mask hunger or cravings during your initial transition.

3. Drink Water And Then…Drink More Water

Your body is constantly trying to clean itself from the inside out, especially when you put nutritious and wholesome food inside of it. Water will help your body flush out the toxins from years of consuming animal products and other processed foods. Your body may also feel withdrawal symptoms from the lack of dairy and animal products, and water will help ease any of the symptoms you encounter.

4. Understand The Health Benefits

If you understand the science behind why eating vegan is dramatically better for your health, you are more likely to stick with it! Watch the documentary Forks Over Knives, read anything from Dr. Neal Barnard, or do your own research online. It has taken me years to fully understand the health benefits of veganism, and I am still learning things every day as new research is conducted, but once I learned to put aside the years of incorrect information I was fed through big corporations and great marketing campaigns, I was more enthusiastic about eating vegan for my health.

5. Stock Up On Easy Options For Mealtime

Vegan recipes do NOT have to be complex and take hours to cook. No one has that kind of time. Always keep your favorite salad ingredients handy, and Mexican food is always a great, easy option. I always keep my fridge stocked with tortillas, salsa, guacamole, refried beans, and ground-beef style crumbles for an easy meal. Additionally, I am certain to always have the ingredients for a “beef” potpie, a personal favorite.

6. Make A Few Big Meals

Eating vegan does not mean you can’t continue to enjoy mealtime! If you make a few meals over the weekend that can be eaten throughout the week, you are more likely to continue the vegan transition with less hiccups. Try making a vegan chili with cornbread or curry lentils over rice or mashed potatoes.

7. Exercise

Physical activity is great for all lifestyles, and studies have shown that exercise increases your energy and improves your attitude. If it is a simple walk after dinner or a cycling class every morning before work, anything is better than nothing!

8. Don’t Be Hard On Yourself

The transition to a completely vegan diet can be a tough one, so if you have a few mishaps, don’t beat yourself up about it. It takes time to learn to read labels correctly and the withdrawal symptoms can be challenging for some people who have consumed excessive amounts of animal products for years. However, remember that you made a commitment to yourself for your health, and it is exactly that, a commitment.

9. Get Social

Your friends and family may not be into the vegan diet and they may be completely ignorant to the health reasons behind your transition, so find people who will support you and your journey to a healthier you! Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites are a great place to find others just like you, traveling on the same path for health.

10. Have  A Positive Attitude

You are giving yourself a gift everyday you commit to eating vegan. The transition may be hard initially, but remember why you made the commitment to a vegan diet. Go into your new vegan diet with positivity, knowing what you are doing for your body, and believe that you can do it! If you believe, you will achieve!

Commit for 28 Days!!

8 Feb

28 days! 4 weeks! You can do anything for 4weeks. Making a commitment to go completely vegan for 28 days is not a lifelong endeavor…it is simply a jump-start to a healthier you. On top of feeling better, being healthier and having more energy, you will probably lose weight!

Dr. Neal Barnard says “Low-fat vegan — plant-based— diets are the easiest way to trim excess weight, prevent diabetes, cut cholesterol, lower blood pressure, prevent and reverse heart disease and reduce cancer risk. They even trim our carbon footprint.”

Do you feel like you can’t do it alone? Don’t worry, we are going to do it right along with you. Our willful volunteer, Jay, is allowing us to track his journey throughout the entire 28 days. We will keep account of what he eats, daily calories, weight loss/gain, water intake, sleep, mental clarity, and most important of all, how he feels. We will post daily on his progress and his take on the experience.

If Jay can do it for 28 days, so can you. Prior to meeting me, Jay didn’t even know what a vegan was. He was a Division 1College Football player who ate as much meat as he possibly could, in an effort to build muscle mass and gain weight. While Jay has eaten many meals that are vegan since his football days in college, he has never committed to a solely vegan diet for any period of time.

So come on! Try it with us. The journey begins on Monday, February 20th. Share it, Tweet it and spread the word!

Let’s make a healthier you and a healthier world!

Traditional Corn Pudding

8 Feb

Corn Pudding is a traditional, Southern side dish that is often eaten on holidays and family get-togethers. Everyone has their favorite way of making and eating Corn Pudding! This recipe is a sweet version, my personal favorite! Enjoy!

Click Here for Recipe!

My Story – Interview with Life University

6 Feb

I recently completed an interview with Life University, the largest chiropractic college in the world. They were founded on a health based philosophy, so I was excited when they asked me to do an interview for their blog. If you are considering making the switch to a vegan lifestyle, reading my experience may help make the transition a little easier!

Read the interview here!

Beef Potpie – 5 Minutes of Prep Time!

5 Feb

Everyone has fond memories of beef or chicken pot pie from their childhood! I have recreated a really quick and easy version that is perfect in any vegan household! The recipe can be found here!

Attitude – The Southern Way

2 Feb

Each part of the world is unique in its own way, known to the rest of the world for its good qualities and bad, some true and some not. The southern states in the US are no different, providing a stereotype to the rest of the world filled with soul food, Southern Belles and small towns. While that stereotype isn’t completely untrue, the southern states have provided me with so much more than a basis for great vegan recipes.

The slowness of life is accompanied by neighbors bringing in your trash can, strangers waving and saying hello, and a silence of car horns or angry patrons at the local market. Of all the great things about growing up in South Carolina and living in a place like Charleston, my two favorites are the food and the people.

After college, I moved to DC where I worked as a Marketing Executive for a traveling concert that played in large arenas across the country. I have traveled to most major cities in the US, where I discovered that each area of the country is wonderful for something unique. We can all take something positive from each area of the world and use it in our own lives, no matter where they are being lived. Realizing what great qualities you already have around you, while also realizing what your life or those around you are lacking, is the first step to everyday happiness.

To  many around the world, living in Charleston, South Carolina is a small place, with little to offer compared to my exciting life in Los Angeles or as a Traveling Marketing Executive. In many respects, this is absolutely true. There are very few big cities or celebrities that call this part of the world home, and the south is certainly lacking in exciting news events and the option to order food to your doorstep at 3am; however, positive attitudes are all around you in the slow, content life that most live in this part of the world.

For those of you who have not lived in or visited this part of the country, I’m asking you to try to the “Southern Attitude” for a few days. Spread joy and happiness to those around you through simple acts of kindness. Open a door when you don’t have to, spark up a conversation with the woman checking out your groceries, wave to your neighbors, and for goodness sake, lay off your car horn. My mother has always told me:

“Give a stranger a smile today, it may be the only smile they see all day.”

Having a positive attitude is not only beneficial for those around you on the receiving end of your smile, but it is also great for your own happiness. Doctors across the world have found that the ratio of positive to negative thoughts is a major factor in overall happiness. Your brain is constantly monitoring the emotional tone of your thoughts – too many negative thoughts and your brain responds by creating stress and sadness in your body. When you add more positive thoughts, your brain will create relaxation and happiness. Even just for a few days, try to banish negative thoughts from your mind, practice changing negative thoughts into positive thoughts, and use positive words when talking to others. You’ll be amazed at how great you feel with just a few extra smiles a day.

Every part of the world has a unique quality about its culture, history, food and people. Let’s all try to take the best from what the world has to offer and share that with ourselves, our family and friends, and those strangers we come in contact with on a daily basis. Let’s all try living with the “Southern Attitude” for a few day. Afterall, everyone likes a smile :)

Just In Time for the BIG Game! Sausage and Cheese Dip!

1 Feb

Just because you are vegan doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy all the perks of Superbowl Weekend:

Friends, Fun and FOOD!

This sausage dip tastes just like the version I grew up eating on Saturday and Sunday afternoons watching football with my dad.

Click here for the recipe!

ENJOY!!!

Carl Lewis – Vegan & 9 Time Olympic Gold Medalist

31 Jan

Carl Lewis has been named “Sportsman of the Century” and “Olympian of the Century” by Sports Illustrated Magazine and The International Olympic Committee. Throughout his career, Lewis won 10 Olympic Medals, 9 of which were Gold, and 10 World Championship Medals, of which 8 were Gold. At the height of his athletic career, Lewis made the switch to a Vegan Diet and has been an advocate for a plant-based diet to athletes around the world.

Check out an excerpt of the introduction Carl Lewis gave to the book Very Vegetarian, by Jannequin Bennett.

Can a world-class athlete get enough protein from a vegetarian diet to compete? I’ve found that a person does not need protein from meat to be a successful athlete. In fact, my best year of track competition was the first year I ate a vegan diet. Moreover, by continuing to eat a vegan diet, my weight is under control, I like the way I look. (I know that sounds vain, but all of us want to like the way we look.) I enjoy eating more, and I feel great. Here’s my story.

When I grew up in New Jersey, I always enjoyed eating vegetables and was influenced by my mother, who believed in the importance of a healthy diet even though we ate meat regularly because my father wanted it. At the University of Houston I ate meat and tried to control my weight the wrong way–by skipping meals. Frequently I would skip breakfast, eat a light lunch, and then have my fill at dinner–just before I went to bed. Not only is skipping meals the wrong way to diet, but the way I did it is the worst way because your body needs four hours to digest its food before you go to sleep.

In May of 1990 I decided to change the way I ate when I realized that controlling my weight by skipping meals was not good for me. Within the space of a few weeks, I met two men who changed my way of thinking and eating. The first was Jay Cordich, the Juice Man, whom I met at the Houston radio station where I worked in the early morning. He was there to talk about his juicer, which makes fresh juice from fruits and vegetables. He said that drinking at least sixteen ounces of freshly squeezed juice each day will increase a person’s energy, strengthen the immune system, and reduce the risk of disease. A few weeks later while doing publicity for a meet in Minneapolis, I met Dr. John McDougall, a medical doctor who teaches about the link between good nutrition and good health and was promoting his latest book. Dr. McDougall challenged me to make a commitment to eating a vegetarian diet and then to just do it.

I remember vividly making the decision in July of 1990 to become a vegan. I was competing in Europe and ate a meal of Spanish sausage on a Saturday and on the following Monday started eating vegan. The hardest thing for me was changing my eating habits from skipping meals to eating throughout the day–which is much healthier. I also missed salt and so substituted lemon juice for flavor.

Click Here To Keep Reading!



Sweet Potato Casserole, Peach Cobbler, Banana Pudding and Other New Recipes Posted!

30 Jan

Most Americans identify food in the Southern United States as being full of  high-fat animal foods, a lot of butter and cheese, and vegetables cooked in bacon grease! Growing up in South Carolina as a meat eater, I enjoyed the traditional southern dishes just as much as the next girl. My mom and I would spend hours in the kitchen together, cooking meals that were passed down from previous generations. The great feeling I remember from this time was not from the food I was eating, but the comfort I was given from spending hours at the dinner table with my family. When I became vegan, I fell in love with cooking dishes that presented a much healthier option, but did not lack in flavor, or family time! Let’s get real, no one has time everyday to spend hours painstakingly cooking a meal for their family. The solution: quick, easy and healthy meals that everyone will enjoy.

Unless otherwise noted, all the recipes below are vegan! For those out there who are not vegan or who are living with vegetarians and meat-eaters, you will also find alternative options included; however, I have found that vegans and non-vegans alike love these recipes!

ENJOY!

Banana Pudding (Quick)

Banana Pudding (Traditional)

Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

Black-Eyed Peas

Butter Beans

Buttermilk Biscuits

Collard Greens

Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried Okra

Grits

Hushpuppies

Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

Peach Cobbler

Pecan Pie

Red Beans and Rice

Sweet Potato Casserole

Living With A Carnivore

26 Jan

The ideal life-long relationship =

Romantic and easy – where both parties are loving, happy, and compassionate toward one another everyday. To have the same morals, life goals and enjoy the same hobbies, but also have enough unique differences to open one another’s eyes in new directions. essentially equaling happiness with no effort.

Everyday I live this dream. Jay is a true confidant and an amazing person to share my life with. We both share the same morals and views on the world, enjoy happiness in many of the same things, and support one another’s goals for ourselves and our future family. Heck, he even holds my hand in the car, watches Desperate Housewives reruns with me, and tells me I look beautiful every morning when I wake up. Notice something I haven’t mentioned yet: He is NOT a VEGAN!

When Jay and I first met living next door to each other in Los Angeles, he held the same misconceptions about the vegan diet as I did prior to my transition to solely plant-based foods. He asked the typical questions: “How do you get your protein?” and “What do you eat all the time?” Rather than putting down his carnivores diet, I empathized with the fact that he was misinformed about the facts of nutrition, health and what our bodies need to run optimally. He was just like I was prior to my health scare. (Read ABOUT for details). Prior to meeting me, Jay was a Division 1 College Football player (Defensive End), who ate as much animal protein as he could possibly get his hands on. He was (and still is) the ultimate “man’s man,” loving to work-out, sit silently and watch sports for hours, and eat a greasy, cheesy pepperoni pizza at any given moment. He had spent his whole life living in a world that glorified high-fat animal products in mass quantities. Let’s just say, talking about the vegan lifestyle felt a lot like I was speaking a foreign language to Jay.

Slowly, through cooking kick-ass vegan meals and gradually explaining the health consequences of the lifestyle he was living, Jay began to understand why eating vegan was so important for me. Because we lived next door to one another, I cooked a vegan meal dinner for us to share, every night unless we went out to eat. By no means did he make a transition to eating completely vegan, but he did eat about half of his meals under the vegan diet. The biggest eye opener for him was how much better he felt (after an initially detox period of feeling like crap)! I knew the detox period he faced when cutting back on his carnivorous diet was an indicator his body was feeling withdrawal symptoms from high-fat, non-nutritional animal foods. Jay eagerly acknowledged the differences he felt in his body, energy levels, and overall attitude when eating vegan. Eventually, he became comfortable enough to cook meals for both of us.

Since our time in Los Angeles, we have relocated back to South Carolina…the land of Cracker Barrel, Paula Deen, and everything cooked with bacon grease. The transition back to The South has been pretty seamless for me, but initially Jay was basking in the glory of cheese grits and fried everything. Currently, Jay is eating about 75% vegan. I never cook food at home that is not vegan. Some of his favorites are soy chorizo from Trader Joe’s, Mushroom and Tofu Lettuce Wraps, Almond Butter, Boca “Chicken” Patties, and anything made with TVP. The best change in Jay’s diet has been the increase in his vegetable consumption. He is eating fruits and vegetables he had never heard of, let alone consumed, prior to his exposure to a plant-based diet.

Do I wish Jay ate completely vegan for his own health…yes!

Do I cringe on the inside (and sometimes on the outside:)) when he orders a steak at a restaurant…yes!

Do I appreciate the effort he has put forth to understand and semi-try a lifestyle that is so contrary to what he believed true his entire life…DOUBLE YES!

Sharing new experiences together is an important aspect to any relationship and I am so thrilled I got to share in Jay’s experiences trying and learning about the vegan diet. I see him evolving and learning everyday that diet does directly affect how one feels and has a major impact on many facets of your life. No matter how many times one hears this or reads this, the most powerful lesson comes from gaining the understanding for yourself through your own experience. I see a direct example of that in Jay.

Most importantly, Jay and I have grown together through this experience. I have opened his eyes to a new world of health and nutrition through the vegan diet and he has shown me that education takes time…it does happen over night. I am reminded once again that the best way for someone to change their views on anything, especially their diet and their nutrition, is for them to have the life experience and draw their own conclusions, rather than taking information from a medical article or a book.  Jay is a reminder that we can all make a difference in the lives of others to create a healthier world, just as I did in his life, by educating those who will listen and leading by example for those who will not.

I am looking forward to continuing our growth together and educating each other on our individual passions, as they arise throughout our lives. Whether or not he ever commits to being 100% vegan, I know he will always support my passion for the vegan lifestyle. I thank him for teaching me how to teach others!

If you are living with someone who has not committed to living the vegan lifestyle wholly, remember to give them the opportunity to experience the transformation that you went through when you decided to become vegan. Any nutritional facts, medical studies, or stories of how great your own experiences have been can be enhanced through providing them a wonderful experience with great food, a great attitude and a healthy lifestyle.