Recipes, Transitions, Veganism

Small changes

This week I decided it’s time to make a few more small changes. Since my show, I’ve been steadily gaining weight which is a good thing. The leanness achieved for the stage is not maintainable. As much as I love the cuts and being able to see the vascularity, I don’t feel healthy and nourished being that lean. 

I’ve gotten to a point in my ‘reverse diet’ where I know I’m at a healthy, maintainable weight. I feel physically strong, especially during my training. Now knowing that, I’m making small changes to be able to keep this weight. 

While thinking about my own small changes, I’ve been talking with family and friends about them making small changes. I’ve kind of had to take a step back. I’m promoting this plant based lifestyle because I know the benefits but I’ve been a bit impatient, especially with my own family.  I’ve forgotten how long it took Kyle and I to get to the point we are at with our diets. I realize that making this change for most people is not quick or simple. 

Making small, consistent changes will leave a lasting impact. 

I want to encourage anyone who is open to it to make small changes toward a plant based diet. But where to start?? Below are my top tips for making small changes toward transitioning to a plant based diet. 

  1. Try one new, completely plant-based recipe each week. As you try new recipes, you’ll find meals that you love (and don’t love) that will push out some of the meat based meals. 
  2. Try replacing milk or coffee creamer with plant based options. I love unsweetened cashew milk and So Delicious French Vanilla Coffee Creamer. 
  3. Stop looking at the nutritional label and start looking at the ingredient list. If  you are going to buy a packaged product, make sure you know what the ingredients actually are. If there is anything you can’t pronounce, you probably shouldn’t eat it. 
  4. Meal prep. Take one day each week to plan what meals you’ll be cooking and prepare anything you can ahead of time on that day. I typically do this on Sunday. I plan out a menu for the week, write a list, grocery shop, wash all of my produce, and prep anything I can to make week night cooking easier. 
  5. Try to use less oil. If you are sautéing vegetables, try sautéing them in water or vegetable broth. It’s not quite the same as using oil, but it gets the job done and you won’t be adding hundreds of extra calories from fat to your diet. 
  6. Try snacking on raw fruits and veggies. If you’ve become accustomed to eating more processed snacks like chips and Little Debbie snacks, it will take some time for your taste buds to adjust. Raw veggies will taste bland because they’re not doused in oil and salt and fruit won’t taste sweet since it’s got natural sugar instead of refined sugar. I promise though, your taste buds will adjust and you’ll come to love unprocessed snacks and you won’t be able to tolerate the chips and Little Debbie’s. 
  7. Drink water, tea, and coffee. But, mostly water. Add a lemon or other fruit to your water if you’re not into the plain taste of water. 

These are just a few of many tips. Like any new habit, transitioning to a plant based diet won’t be easy at first and it will take time. But, making small, consistent changes will leave a lasting impact. 

Veganism

Prepping for the storm… Vegan style

I live in Florida. I love living in Florida. I even enjoy the hurricanes. Probably because I’m not a homeowner yet. 

Kyle and I are currently living with my parents. Our lease was up at our apartment and it was insanely expensive to go month to month while we are still house hunting. So for hurricane Irma, mom and I are teaming up for hurricane prep. We’ve been to Publix quite a bit and they STILL have water and ice and just about everything else you could need for hurricane prep. 

What are our plant-based staples? 

  1. Lots of starches. Sweet potatoes, white potatoes, rice, pasta, oats, etc. All of these things can be boiled. If we do lose power, we can use the propane side of the grill to boil water to cook these things. Starches will keep you full and satisfied and they have plenty of protein. 
  2. Fresh fruit. We loaded up on apples, oranges, bananas, grapes, and melons. All of these fruits are hydrating and refreshing so they’ll be great if it heats up. Even if we lose power, we can move the fruit that needs to stay cold into the cooler full of ice. 
  3. Fresh veggies. Broccoli, bell peppers, green beans, mushrooms, spinach and onions all can be eaten raw or can be cooked, again on the grill if needed. 
  4. Water. We bought 3 gallons of water per person plus some small bottled water. Make sure you’ve got enough water for each person to have a gallon per day. We’ll have enough for 4 days if we need it. 

I’m also cooking up a few easy things to have on hand. 

  1. Pasta salad – again, cool and refreshing and easy to keep cool if needed. In my pasta salad, is whole wheat fusilli pasta, black beans, red kidney beans, navy beans, cannellini beans, onion, bell peppers, peas, broccoli and a VERY small amount of olive oil with spices to keep things from sticking. 
  2. Granola – it’s easy to make and is a tasty snack. I like making it myself so I know exactly what’s in it. I used rolled oats, maple syrup, pepitas, sliced almonds, dried cranberries, and Enjoy Life dairy-free chocolate chips
  3. Bread – we love bread in this house and let’s be honest, homemade beats packaged every time

So that’s it. Easy vegan storm prep. Good luck to all of my fellow vegans getting ready for Irma!! 

Recipes, Veganism

Fun Food Friday in First Grade

I teach first grade in a Title 1 school. I absolutely love my job. Teaching littles to read, write and become mathematicians is incredible. 

Our class has a ‘late’ lunch (by first grade standards) at 11:00 and many of my littles like to have a snack in the morning. During the first few weeks of school, I have tried to stress the importance of eating healthy snacks to my kiddos and their families. So when kids were bringing in cookies and baked Doritos, saying they were healthy, I knew it was my responsibility to do SOMETHING. 

Another teacher had shared with me a photo of  NFL defensive lineman, David Carter in a Baltimore school teaching kids about vegan foods (post linked below). I realized that was it! I could bring in truly healthy snacks for my students to try. And so, Fun Food Fridays was born! 

For the kickoff, I thought we’d try medjool dates with peanut butter. The natural kind with only roasted peanuts. Date bombs are one of my favorite snacks and with how sweet dates are I though they’d be a hit with the kids. 

As it turns out half of them LOVED the date bombs and came back for second helpings. The other half took teeny tiny bites and declared they would never eat them again. Oh well! At least they tried, right?!

The best part was taking photos of the kids reactions (sorry, won’t be posting any here) and sending them to their parents, many of whom were surprised their child would even try the dates. 

For the next Fun Food Friday, I think we’ll try purple and white carrots. Maybe some hummus, too. 

If you have any ideas for whole food, plant based, kid friendly snacks, please let me know!! There are a lot of Fridays left in this school year. 😉