Three Super Easy Kid Approved Nut-Free DIY Milks

Healthier alternatives to milk are a huge deal right now. You can find several non-dairy alternatives to milk at any given grocery store! It’s a wonderful thing!

Why not REAL milk?

Cow’s milk is breast milk to grow baby cows into two-ton animals, It was never originally intended to be consumed by humans. I believe cutting dairy is one of the most important things people can do to feel better. It’s life changing! This article has more reasons why you should cut dairy, and it links to several more within it. In our own family, this has been the #1 biggest success story for each one of us, as is the case in many people’s homes! Maybe even yours! 

And I wish we could all just go to the store and grab a carton of milk alternative and call it a day. But unfortunately, this isn’t a perfect system. These alternatives still contain many questionable added toxic ingredients. 

I’ll briefly list them here…

 

GMOs

Processed oils

Carrageenan

Synthetic Vitamins

Added Sugar

Gums and Gelatins

 

These ingredients can have highly adverse effects on your gut over time.

But is making alternative milks yourself too much work?

Yes it is one extra thing you have to do. I’m not going to sit here and lie to you about that, it does take additional effort, and often I do wish I didn’t have to do ONE MORE THING! So I give myself grace. I will allow store-bought milks into the house, if you find them non-gmo and organic and purchase unsweetened versions – hey, there are ways to make that ingredients list look a little less offensive. So give yourself some grace.

But know this – the TINY bit of extra effort is so worth it. YOU are worth it! Your HEALTH is worth it! Never reach for the junk just because it’s “easy”. Show your body The respect it deserves.

But ultimately, the healthiest way to ensure you’re getting a good clean version of a milk alternative is to do it yourself.

Honestly, you can make “milk” out of anything. Blend it with water… it will probably turn creamy white…and there you have it. Crazy, right? It seems like the most popular “milks” are almond, soy, and coconut. We won’t dive into why one may be better than another, everyone has a preference.

But I typically choose a nut-free “milk” for myself and my family, especially for my kiddos.

So without further ado, these are my three current favorite milk DIYs! What makes these three even better, is that they’re safe for little toddlers! A great way to keep them hydrated and provide a little nutrient boost in the meantime.

 

Hemp Milk

  • 1/4 c raw shelled hemp seeds
  • 24oz filtered water
  • 1/2 tsp organic vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1 Tbs maple syrup or a few drops of stevia (raw pure stevia, NOT Truvia or other store brand alternative)

Blend all ingredients together for about 30 seconds in a high-speed blender. Strain the seed pulp out with a cheesecloth or nut milk bag. Store in refrigerator – some sources say it’s good in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, I wouldn’t know because we always use it up in less time than that. Ha! But when you take it out of the fridge, give it a good shake before pouring.

Honestly, I usually just blend the hemp seeds and water, and that’s it! The other ingredients are just for fun, or if you need the extra sweetener. Hemp does have a strong seedy flavor. This recipe is awesome, and I use it so very often for most of my non-dairy needs. And it’s kid-safe! That’s the best part.

Hemp packs a big nutritional punch. They’re actually an excellent source of Omega 3s, and essential vitamins and minerals including calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, folate, even B vitamins!… Hemp will ALSO probably promote good healthy bowel movements in your kids – just saying! But if you have a problem with this in your home, cutting out dairy may be your savior. That was the GAME CHANGER in our home, seriously.

Great for: baking, cooking, drinking, cereals, even in coffee and tea! Can be heated. 

Oat Milk

  • 1 cup steel-cut oats
  • 3 cups filtered water
  • 1.5-2 tbsp pure maple syrup (or other liquid sweetener or pitted dates), to taste
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • scant 1/4 tsp fine grain sea salt (enhances flavor)
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (optional, but nice)

This recipe is from Oh She Glows, Homemade Oat Milk, Easy fast cheap. This is my favorite recipe, and I love Angela Lidden’s blog and cookbooks and all things “Oh She Glows”, so I’ll promote her any day!

Great for:  pretty much anything, but *Do not heat oat milk if you want it to stay liquid! It will goop up. 

 

Banana Milk

Literally, all this recipe is, is a ripe spotted banana and water.

1 Banana (quite ripe) per 8-10 oz of water, and blend in a high-speed blender. DONE.

This recipe is perfectly delicious poured over oatmeal or dry cereal. It’s also great to give to your toddler in a cup! A great way to sweeten the deal when keeping busy little ones hydrated. It obviously has a rich banana flavor, so not everyone will adore it as much as we do, but it’s seriously an awesome alternative for many things.

 

What is your favorite milk alternative?

Let me know in the comments below!

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Too Many Nuts Bothering Your Digestion?

Nuts are a great way to pack on extra calories when you’re eating a healthy diet. Paleo plans and plant-based plans encourage nuts as a great source of protein fats and minerals. Nut butters are great for subbing out oil in baked goods, peanut butter is the most delicious thing on the planet, and then there are the alternative milks made from every single nut you could think of. Oh! And every recipe for healthy baked goods seems to contain almond flour these days.

Especially when you’re first transitioning to a healthier diet from something less optimal, it can be tempting to keep reaching for the nuts. Why? Because you’re quite possibly feeling hungry, and you know those nice crunchy little calorie rich nuggets of yum will be there for you. That is until you perhaps start experiencing tummy upset and start sprinting to the bathroom on a regular basis. Along with fiber, nuts contain a defense mechanism, as most plants do, called phytic acid. Because when nuts and seeds particularly are eaten by animals, they need to somehow survive so that when they come out the other end… ahem… they still hold the nutrients to grow into a new plant, even after all they’ve been through. It’s quite remarkable actually.  But phytic acid can actually interfere with our body’s mineral absorption.

So before we get mad at the nuts, it’s not their fault. It’s simply part of nature.  But since phytic acid can interfere with our body’s mineral absorption, this is where it becomes necessary to limit our consumption and prepare them properly. When we cannot absorb minerals well enough, this can weaken teeth and bones and make us more susceptible to decay and injury. Nuts are not only food containing this antinutrient, phytic acid. We’ve got a whole lineup of plants that contain this in order to survive.

Good news is, soaking, sprouting, fermenting, roasting, and cooking are great ways to help reduce phytates, depending upon the plant product you’re dealing with. Especially with grains, legumes, and nuts. You can drastically reduce phytates in these categories with soaking and sprouting.

There is so much we could go into here, but I’m not going to address it all, for fear of getting in over my head and saying things I’m not totally sure about. I’m no expert on these things. But there is such extensive research on this issue, and enough of us seem to have trouble with digesting these foods, so I thought it important to share with you like-minded healthy people.

Here are my thoughts on nuts. I absolutely love nuts. I mean really – I go for nut butters like gangbusters. Creamy goodness right there. And when I’m stressed, we can really plow through the peanut butter around here. Organic peanut butter, of course. But is it always a good thing? I experience some pretty foul digestive side effects when I OD on the nuts, you guys. I just have to be honest.

When I first started making the switch to a healthier diet, my digestion actually got a little bit worse. What!? Now I have learned (though it took me a while to figure it out!) that cutting back on the nuts really helps, if not eliminates the issue completely. Yes, I’m talking about foul gas. Let’s get real. Nuts are high in fats as well, and too much of a good thing isn’t always good.

Have you ever read the serving size suggestion on the nut package or nut butter container? 2 Tablespoons of peanut butter. Or almond butter. Alright… so let’s say I eat that (or a little extra, c’mon…), on some sprouted toast. Then I have almond milk creamer in my coffee. And later that day I make an almond milk smoothie, and we make a creamy cashew or tahini dressing for our salad for dinner. A healthy day, right? Woah! My digestion would be in total uproar.

So, soak em, sprout em, soak em again… your body will thank you.

Practical ways I live this out:

  • I love oatmeal, but I always soak my oats overnight with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar, and then I can lightly cook them in the morning. The ACV is key because it’s an acid that helps break down the antinutrients. It’s pretty cool. Oatmeal seems to be lower in phytic acid overall, to begin with.
  • Gluten Free. Yes, it’s a fad, but there’s a lot to it, as many of you know. Wheat is extremely high in phytic acid!
  • Soak, rinse, soak, rinse your beans, and maybe even sprout some of them. There are many tutorials for how to do this on the internet. Oh yes, that also means that I don’t reach for the canned beans too often. And if I do, in a pinch, I rinse them very thoroughly.
  • I Cut back on alternative nut milks. Actually, I nearly completely cut them out. Alternative milks are often fortified with essential vitamins and minerals which is one reason they can be helpful – so just be mindful that you’re getting those nutrients someplace else in your diet. But for me, my personal favorite way to eat nuts is in the form of nut butter. So figure out your favorite way to have them, and have them that way.

But in spite of all this, let’s not forget the great benefits that we CAN reap from consuming nuts! When eaten in appropriate quantities (maybe a serving a day instead of six, for example?) we can enjoy them for being actually quite high in minerals, and they are a good source of healthy fat.

But seriously, do you experience digestive upset when you OD on nuts? Lets get real. TMI? Go for it, I think it’s high time we “health nuts” (no pun intended) start taking it easy on the nuts.

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Disclaimer: Please do not take my story and my opinion as medical advice. I am not a doctor or healthcare professional. I’m simply sharing my research and observations with you, my readers in hopes you can identify with me and maybe glean some tips and tricks every once in a while!

 

Articles on this topic I find helpful:

http://wholelifestylenutrition.com/health/is-soaking-grains-and-legumes-necessary-and-how-to-properly-soak-and-prepare-them/

https://chriskresser.com/another-reason-you-shouldnt-go-nuts-on-nuts/

https://authoritynutrition.com/8-benefits-of-nuts/

http://www.westonaprice.org/health-topics/living-with-phytic-acid/

https://wellnessmama.com/59139/soaking-nuts-seeds/

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Zesty Cashew Lime Dressing (oil free, vegan)

Okay, so I’m actually quite giddy to share this recipe with you. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s my first real recipe I’m posting on the blog, I’ve worked at refining for you, and people have been LOVING it so far, so let me know how you like it! Today someone licked the dressing bowl, so I’d call that a hit. And I couldn’t be happier.

Making my dressings oil-free gives me a great peace of mind. The healthy fats in the cashews in this recipe makes this dressing nice and filling and nutritious, no processed oils needed.

 

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I love a good a mock “chicken salad” made with chickpeas on crunchy romaine. This dressing seriously was made for this, but of course, it goes with any green salad as well, and I love to drizzle it on freshly roasted root vegetables and potatoes. It’s quite versatile. Vegans love to use cashews to make creamy anything- it truly is amazing. So this is my variation. And since I love the taste of “chicken salad”, I wanted to make it really tasty for everyone.
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Romaine is seriously the best… I can never get enough of this wonderful leafy green. Romaine tacos, wraps, salads… all day everyday! So crunchy and water dense, and jammed packed full of vitamin A and C and even some B6, magnesium and potassium… oh! And a gram of protein. Now that’s impressive! It also contains some iron, and is, of course, a most excellent source of fiber. So next time you think lettuce is nothing more than crunchy water, remember this. Now you know. You’re welcome! recipe

 

You may need to add more water if you want a runnier dressing that’s easier to pour. Feel free to adjust that ratio to your liking!

Coconut Aminos and Bragg Liquid Aminos can be found and purchased by clicking on these links. They’re an awesome price on Thrive Market. What are they? Basically, a healthier alternative to soy sauce. Why is traditional soy sauce such a bad idea? This article by Dr. Axe will help shed some light on the issue, and also give you some information on how healthy it can be to add some antioxidant-rich coconut aminos into your life!

 

And as promised, here are some of the recipes of treats we DID make this week! Super simple, so even though the holidays are mostly over, I’ll whip up more of these for new years I’m sure, and they make for excellent snacking for whenever! They seem to freeze alright so I may try that. My husband likes to pull out snack bites like these when looking for a late night snack.

Confession: I didn’t follow any of these recipes to the letter when I made them. Not a one. Ha! So I was trying desperately to come up with a unique recipe to share with you… until I decided to just quit trying, share these ALREADY WONDERFUL recipes with you all, and quit stressing about it! So that’s what I’m doing!

Maple Pecan Pie (Raw Vegan) This recipe is already amazing of course, but since we choose to be oil free, I subbed out the coconut oil and added a ripe banana. Because I did this, we refrigerated/froze them, and ate them the same day. It worked great for us! (I also tried a variation of these that turned out rather well- pumpkin pecan pie – it turned out well, but I’m not yet prepared to share it with the world. This recipe, however, is someone else’s tried and true, so it’s already wonderful.

You may have seen me post these on my Facebook or Instagram… they were delicious…img_9046

No Bake Banana Bread Bites and Chocolate Chip Banana Bread Bites  are the recipes I found and I made my own variation of the two combined! Ha! I made it work and they were delicious. But once again, I refer you to original versions of these recipes for best results!

 

No, I did not get to make many fancy vegan dishes for the holidays! About half way through the week I thought to myself “this and this would be fun to make and do… but nah.” So we just kept things simple! This was a good lesson because the holidays are very special to me and if I could, I would always go way overboard during each and every holiday, celebrate it to the max, spending way too much money on gifts and festive things and totally spend entire days in the kitchen making all things fancy and festive….

So keeping things simple was a good thing for me this year. Of course, we made some tasty holiday vegan cookies but not many, and kept them in the freezer. I didn’t even plan my week well enough to get my vegan loaf made for Christmas Day! But I was alright with that. I just grazed on what was vegan and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Let me know if you try the dressing recipe, or have suggestions or variations that you love!

Do you have any favorite oil-free dressings that are staples in your home?

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Healthy Eating When You’re Just Too Busy {Part III}: A Simple Meal Plan

Alright, my busy friends, I thought it would be a fitting way to close out this series on “Healthy Eating When You’re Just Too Busy” by laying out one of our family’s simple meal plans to help give you some inspiring ideas. So the following is our REAL TIME meal plan that I used for this last week, I didn’t just make it up. This worked for us – it was super simple and affordable. Enjoy! I hope you glean some ideas.

It’s very important to me to not make a huge mess every time I make a meal. Especially since I make pretty much every single meal from scratch in my tiny little kitchen. So all of the following tips take very little assembly, and most of them contain elements that I prepare ahead of time.

You’ve read in my previous posts I little tiny bit about how I prepare ahead of time, and I use a lot of no-cook recipes in my meal plans (you know we love our smoothies!) This really does keep my stress levels low, I have enough things to keep me busy during the day. And it just so happens that this low stress meal plan also does my body lots of favors and is serving our family very well! So I’m sharing it with you! Certainly not because I am an expert, but because if I were you, I’d be interested in getting some ideas, so here goes!

This is only one week’s worth of meal ideas, in real time with what’s in our kitchen right now! Next week will be a little different, of course. We eat a huge variety of produce and prepare a wide variety of foods, so this is what one of our simple weeks looks like. It’s the week before Christmas, so we need meals to be low stress, streamlined, and still perfectly nutritious.

This Week’s Meal Plan

6AM*

(*times are always approximate, we eat when we are hungry, but to help break it down for us, I list times of day)
  • img_8931 A warm glass or jar of water with fresh lemon and apple cider vinegar.

(Click Here to get a free bottle of Thrive Market Apple Cider Vinegar + 30 day trial for only $1.95 shipping! Existing members can receive a free bottle with any offer over $50.

 

8AM 

The Family can choose from Raw Soaked Oats with banana milk (A banana and water blended to a milk-like consistency. Add a vanilla protein powder if you wish, it’s so good!), a Smoothie of Fruit and Greens, or a Melon. Melons are very hydrating and should be consumed alone, not combined with other foods if you adhere to some of the principles of proper food combining – see this for a very brief explanation: Healthy Food Combining. (other weeks we have different fruits to choose from, it’s not always melons).

My omnivore husband (who is taking steps toward being more and more plant-based, of his own accord) still eats eggs occasionally, farm fresh from free range chickens.

We also take our supplements at this time, which are very simple, I take these highly absorbable forms of vegan vitamin D3 and B12. img_8952Baby, who is still regularly breastfeeding, takes an infant vitamin D and my preschooler takes a whole foods multivitamin to ensure his bases are covered.

 

10:30-11:30AM

The Smoothie. I don’t know why, but this is my favorite time to have a smoothie. I pack it with raw fresh greens or This Raw Greens Powder because it is absolutely the best, bananas, and berries or an apple… sometimes I go crazy with all the produce… Ahhh I want one right now, I don’t care what time it is. Oh! And I throw in some chia, pumpkin, or hemp seeds usually as well, or a raw vegan protein powder like this one by SunWarrior. My kids always join me for smoothie time – however, I usually don’t add the extras for the baby, I’ll pour some of the fruit and greens blend out for her before adding any nuts or protein powders. Seriously SO stress-free and takes just a couple of minute to assemble one of these bad boys.

If we are not home at this time, this is also the perfect take-along. I blend it ahead of time and bring it with me in a jar or in my hydro flask.

Fresh cut or whole fruit is also PERFECT any time in the morning. Fruit is best digested alone and in the first part of the day. (following this tip has helped me so much!) The kids ALWAYS love fresh fruit and ask for it.

These options are also incredible Post-Workout! I love a smoothie or cut fruit right after I hit the gym.

 

1:30-2:30PM

Lunch has been pretty late these days, and it’s very casual! This week we enjoyed some sandwiches on sprouted bread – we choose the Ezekiel 4:9 brand (this wouldn’t work if you have a gluten sensitivity, however, it does digest well for us. (conventional bread does not, and even some gluten free bread does not digest well for us either, considering most brands are usually still loaded with additives.) My son likes his sprouted bread with almond butter and organic fruit spread, and this week I also baked thinly sliced organic tofu to act as a “lunch meat” and loaded my sandwich up with fresh veggies and fresh guacamole (guac and hummus are my favorite easy oil-free alternatives to mayonnaises or oil-based dressings.)  I stay largely oil free at home, I’ll write about why in a later post if you’re interested, or you can message me with questions, but it has been monumental in my journey to better digestive health!

See also below where I talk about healthy snacks we had this week – sometimes we aren’t hungry for a full lunch, but will grab some of these snacks to carry us through till dinner.

5:30PM – ISH

  • Organic, non-GMO tofu was on major sale. Right. So I made something inspired by this recipe for Asian Garlic Tofu. It was delicious, and I LOADED it up with protein rich broccoli (yes, it’s protein rich!) and served it with some white rice. It was delicious, but since I’m not experienced in making recipes with tofu, it could have been better. I get my protein from greens, legumes, nuts and seeds mainly. (Note: I used to think I reacted adversely to soy – very adversely. But I don’t always – and I’m not a medical doctor so I will not share my opinions here, but let’s just say the jury is still out on soy, and I would like to continue my research on it. That being said, we may never know. To make my long story short, I’ve been incorporating some high-quality soy into our diet here and there (organic, non-GMO, no added ingredients…) and we have all handled it just swimmingly. So… yeah. More on that another time. If you have additional resources I don’t already know about, please pass them along! Fellow vegans out there – what’s your take on the big soy debacle?!)

 

  • Burrito Bowls…img_8942 I LOVE them and could eat them every single day. My beans have been pre-soaked and cooked, I just add a little cumin chili powder and Himalayan salt, thyme and fresh cilantro. We had these TWO times this week because they are so delicious and filling. We chose to serve ours over white rice. The question is – is white or brown rice is the healthier choice? We may never know. We like to eat both, this week we had white on hand.

 

  • Roasted sweet potatoes with beans and guacamole. This is the week of fresh guac! Can you tell? Ha! Seriously, though – I roast sweet potatoes whole (or a regular baked potato for those of you who aren’t sweet potato fans, like my husband…) until they are tender, split them open, and top them with black beans, greens, guacamole, fresh herbs like cilantro… I mean, YUM.

 

  • LARGE romaine salad with oil-free dressing and Ezekiel Toast and avocado slices on the side? Yes please! (for the dressing I usually mix together raw tahini, coconut aminos, and the juice of a fresh lime or lemon. I also love this raw red pepper dressing recipe by The Rawtarian, but I replace the olive oil with a fresh zucchini or other vegetables with high water content).

 

  • We did lots of vegetable soups this week! My kids love them, we all do. Especially when it’s twenty degrees below zero in Minnesota. I made some type of soup that was a little like the filling of a pot pie, it was so good! I need to make it again so I can attempt to replicate it. To make soups creamy I do not use traditional cream sauces, or just fill them in with non-dairy milk. I typically will use a base like a squash, a bean pulse, or potato puree that thickens the soup, adds flavor, and boosts up the nutrition. This week it was butternut squash and a white potato to make it taste less “squashy”. Everyone loved it!

 

All of these meals really are stress-free. They all require only using one pan, pot, or bowl, or just our plates to assemble!

Prep work included presoaking my beans and rice and boiling those until tender, then keeping them in the fridge for meal assembly during the week. Smoothies were already made into freezer packs, or I just threw fresh produce a couple scoops of the “extras” into the blender. Raw soaked oats were just that… recipe prepared and soaked overnight in the fridge, ready to in the morning.

Healthy eating can be SO simple! Healthy food helps restore our days to their full potential so we can feel our best and live our best! We need to invest in what goes into our body, no matter what. But we DO get busy, especially during the holidays, and there are so many fantastic, easy ways to streamline things and put healthy eating on autopilot when you need to!

 

Low mess, no stress snacks

This week’s snacks included…

  • apples with almond butter (or this delicious raw date caramel dip )
  • bananas
  • oranges
  • Skinny Pop popcorn
  • LaraBars (you can purchase them here, and Costco also has a slightly {better} price.
  • home brewed kombucha (incredible source of B vitamins -energy!!- and is also very satisfying between meals!)

 

Holiday Extras

This is Christmas Week! So, of course, we are throwing in a couple extra fun treats here and there in amongst all the festivities! If you follow me on Instagram or have liked my Facebook page you have seen these! (If not, links here in the sidebar and at the top of this site!!) We baked gluten free vegan cookies to take to a Christmas program and enjoyed Sunday morning brunch with vegan nog french toast… yes, it was so delightful. I put some extra holiday coconut milk nog into coffee for a mock version of an egg nog latte and … I need to stop or I will be going to make another one right now. So good. img_8930

 

 

I am NOT a doctor or dietician, but I have done my research and have drastically improved my own digestion issues, my son’s as well, and decreased my husband’s cholesterol and enhanced athletic performance, we all have great energy, great bloodwork, and have arrived at very healthy weights for our bodies. So when I share my meal plans on my blog I am sharing what works for us! I hope you glean some helpful tips and ideas and make it work for you!

Some of the links in this post are affiliates! I choose to be an affiliate for Thrive Market and I link to these products because I use these products myself and highly recommend them!

Did you get any good ideas? I hope so! What are some of your favorite go-to plant-based recipes? Do you meal plan ahead of time? Let’s chat in the comments below!

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Healthy Eating When You’re Just Too Busy {Part II}

In part one of this series about beating the stress of healthy living I talked about how I choose to keep things as simple as possible in our home surrounding our meal times, and how I keep new recipes to a minimum, all these things reduce my stress as a mom trying to keep everyone in the house happy and healthy! You can catch up with part one here.

On a personal note, I’ve noticed my appetite decreasing lately as my daughter transitions to eating more solid meals each day and breastfeeds a little less often. Life is always changing, especially when you’re a parent! Little ones also love one kind of food one day, and the next day it’s a total no-go. Does this stress you out like it does me? I always think “great, I just bought a whole bunch of that and now you’re not interested?!” Well, that’s alright. Life is ever changing and we need to be flexible and go along with it.

Then there’s all our own emotions. I don’t know about you, but some days are tougher than others to carry on with gusto. For me, my kryptonite is when my kitchen is empty and I’m hungry. I absolutely NEED to be prepared with healthy ideas at all times. This also means keeping the kitchen absolutely free from foods that are less than optimal. No I don’t get cravings for lunch meat and cheese. Ha! But Oreos? (yes, they’re vegan.) I’m just going to ask that you don’t bring them into my house very often, alright?

Let’s talk about some of the reasons you may be getting stressed out by a healthy diet and lifestyle.

1. It’s Expensive

True, it can get expensive. And I would be lying to you if I told you that this didn’t threaten to stress me out on a regular basis as well. The truth is, I have to make do with what we have. We choose to cut costs in quite a few other areas so that we don’t have to settle for eating mac n cheese every day. We live on very little, actually. It’s a little remarkable how little we find we can live on. But we think in terms of longevity when it comes to making choices about where our money goes. At this point we don’t have a house payment, we rent for a very reasonable amount, drive inexpensive vehicles, have no monthly payments besides the basics, and most of our hobbies are relatively inexpensive. Our health would totally tank if we ate mac n cheese everyday, no matter how comforting that may sound, it comes with a great cost to your body. So let’s think longevity. You may have to make some adjustments, yes. In truth, I first started thinking about plant-based diets because I was desperately trying to find ways to cut costs in our life, yet again, and when I arrived, once again, at groceries, I did find that by not purchasing animal products, I could afford to buy more variety of foods for our health, which is awesome! So keep that in mind as well. High quality animal products can be very expensive, (I emphasize high quality, because if you’re eating animal products it’s very important to purchase high quality ones) and you can fill your diet with a wider variety of micro-nutrient dense foods when you focus on getting your nutrients from plants which is what you need to focus on if you’re looking at longevity. Even eating animal products less often, you’d notice a difference in the budget! You don’t need to include meats in your diet every single day. How do I get enough protein? The ever present question. This article by the Vegetarian Resource Group is a good resource with a list of protein rich foods.  I personally stay away from most soy products because they’re usually genetically modified and heavily sprayed with pesticides and MSG. So no thank you! But there are SO MANY other protein options out there, and we load up on them all, especially greens. (for those of you wondering, too, how we eat so many legumes, there are soaking and preparation methods that are essential to making them more digestible.) I highly recommend THIS ARTICLE! Giving up grains and legumes is a huge fad right now, and while I believe it has credibility, please read this article if you have questions on that. There are many other resources out there on this topic, this one  just lays it out briefly and clearly, I think.

That being said, getting back to grocery budgeting, when we’re in between paychecks and things get a little tight, we’ll have a few extra bowls of oatmeal (refined sugar free, sweetened with organic bananas)! Keep it simple, keep it healthy, it doesn’t have to break the bank. We eat very simply, and if we can afford it, we’ll go for a little something extra special on our days off.

I’m learning all the time, but check out my previous post on Plant-based Goodness: how I shop plant-based on less $$ for some extra tips and tricks. I will be writing another post, or series of posts on affording healthy eating in early 2017 as well! I’ve learned more since this post was published, as always, and an excited to share!

 

2. You’re Shopping More Often

Eating more produce can be an art, because you have to ripen it, enjoy it at its peak, eat all of it so you don’t waste it, and then it’s off to the store again to get more. Well this is somewhat unavoidable. But we find ways to make it work. I purchase a lot of {organic} frozen fruit, especially right now that it’s the winter months and fewer fruits are in season. And I’ll purchase more of the fresh fruits that are in season such as some melons, pomegranates, persimmons, mangoes, the ever faithful banana… And when my bananas are perfectly spotted and ripe, I peel them (peel and quarter, then freeze… easiest thing ever) and freeze them in a large container where I can take them out when I’m ready to use them. Plus, when a banana is frozen, it doesn’t taste as banana-ey. So it can be easier to flavor however I like whether it’s for banana nice cream or throwing into smoothies. Believe it or not, I do not shop more than once per week. Can you believe it!!?? That’s right, I don’t. I am learning the art of planning out my fruit ripening, and learning the life of vegetables, and I have a pretty good no-waste routine going on and I’m pretty happy with it. I do keep a raw greens powder and a raw protein powder on hand. So if I do run out of produce, we’re not left in a lurch without our greens. This has saved me some weeks when I can’t get to the store, but my greens powder is safely stored in the fridge.

3. It’s a Whole New Way of Cooking and Preparing You’re Not Used To

Don’t fret, loves! There’s this little thing called the internet that is filled with lovely souls offering their tips and tricks. Fill up with info… but not so much information you get overwhelmed. My personal favorite (besides blogs!) is you tube… I follow a couple of vegan chefs and oh my… eek, how fun. But there again, I make sure I only try a new recipe once in a while when I have the budget for it and when I have the time. And you, you have friends like me! I’m no expert but I’m working on some valuable resources I’m very excited and eager to share with you. When will they be ready? I can’t really say, but please stay tuned! I’ve got friends I follow on a regular basis, you can find a few of them in my Resources tab in the above menu. I’m adding more resource library often… I don’t list my favorite you tubers on there… I probably should. They’re some of my favorites.

If you’re on instagram, you can also Follow Me! I post usually once a day about what we’re eating, how I prepared it, or general inspiration. On the sidebar here you’ll also see a link to like Restoring The Day’s facebook page where I also share useful tips and articles and information I find particularly helpful or educational!

 

4. I ‘ll Have To Deny Myself Everything I Enjoy

Am I striking any chords with you yet? I have learned to NEVER tell myself “NO, you CAN’T have that.” Because if I ever say that to myself my strong will rises and I respond “Aw heck no! You can’t tell me what I can and can’t have!” And just out of spite, I’ll succumb to indulgence. But I’ve learned that indulgence comes at a great cost and that cost is not one I’m willing to pay. As my relationship with food continues to improve with each year, I no longer seek it out as a fix to my problems. Sure, on a really rough day, I’ll reach for the peanut butter. Straight up. And I am okay with that sometimes. I mean, peanut butter is  delicious. I’m being totally real with you. Truthfully, since transitioning to a whole foods plant based diet I have not craved sweets nearly at all. There’s some science behind this, but I’m not prepared to give you that with confidence quite yet. But my point here is, I have learned to never tell myself “no you cannot today” and instead to ask “what’s in it for me tomorrow?” and this has become habitual, and it’s very easy for me to say “no thank you” when offered things I used to always snatch up. Something about me has changed as well and my thoughts on what is truly delicious has completely changed! I thoroughly enjoy my food, folks. No joke. I have NO desire for cheap thrills. (Can I use that phrase without getting in trouble? Thank you, Sia. Ha!)

 

So let’s let loose a little bit, friends. There’s no need to stress. We are all busy, life moves at a breakneck speed, so we need to take charge of our health in a joyful way and not let it be one more thing to stress us out. That does seem a bit counterproductive, doesn’t it? Just as I quoted Sid Garza Hillman last week in Healthy Eating When You’re Just Too Busy, “No matter how healthily you’re eating, if it’s causing you stress to do so, you’re not eating healthily.” 

On a semi-daily basis you will see me break some kind of dance in my kitchen over my smoothie. My kids are picking up my total white girl moves, and I think we can all be okay with that. If you struggle with any kind of stress or anxiety, like me, one more thing to add stress to your life can seem like you’re living in a prison, it can feel like you’re limiting your freedom. But for me, my lifestyle choices provide the most freedom of any physical decision I have ever made. I can feel “me” coming back into my life. Does that make sense? Adulthood can be a reality check we aren’t ready for. At least it was for me. I lost a little bit of my zest for life. Not to get too deep on you, but there’s a deep connection between the food we eat and the condition of our soul. I think God intended it to be this way. To think that we can ingest whatever we want and carry on with life wondering why we are the way we are is ridiculous. Our food needs to be the first place we look to address issues. Without food, we cannot sustain our life for long. Food is what gives us physical life. So the quality OF OUR LIFE depends on the quality of what’s giving us that life. Eat more fruits and vegetables.

How do you stress less about healthy eating and living? How do you embrace it on a day to day basis so you can stay strong? How do you stay motivated and excited about it?

Share your inspiring words below!

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Healthy Eating When You’re Just Too Busy

How do you create a routine with healthy food when you’re constantly busy and on the go? A question I get very often is “What should I even make? What should I eat? Can you give me some recipes?” And to that I say, of course! Because I, like you, love recipes and they can be the perfect inspiration and catalyst to keep me motivated to consume healthier food on a regular basis!

There are SO MANY great recipes out there!! So many healthy recipes to choose from, many of them from world class chefs dedicating their lives to making healthy food as delightful as possible. And I love being in the kitchen, creating delicious recipes, I truly do. It’s so much fun to make delicious food with REAL food ingredients, especially fresh, plant based foods. So fun. And so super nutritious.

That being said, sometimes it totally stresses me out! I see that one amazing vegan recipe I just have to try tonight, but in order to make that recipe I have to go shopping and buy things I may rarely use in any other recipe, make a gigantic mess in my tiny little kitchen, everyone is hungry and just wants to eat and I have one million other things I need to get done today… Ugh. Stress. Stress just isn’t healthy, no matter how healthy that recipe may be, is it worth it?

Constantly trying new recipes can be kind of tough for a couple of different reasons. First of all, I always think about the ingredients I may need for that recipe. Will I use them again in other recipes? Or will I use them this once and then allow them to take up space in my kitchen cupboard for the rest of the year, totally forgetting about them? This isn’t super ideal for your grocery budget or for even just minimalist kitchen reasons.

Once you have your healthy eating down to a routine, feel free to settle into it! See what works for you! Saving new recipes for nights when guests come over or on the weekends. (Everyday Health has this to say about having a healthy routine that works for you and its effect on digestion). Eating a variety of healthy foods is important of course, but don’t let it totally stress you out. One of my current favorite podcast interviews covers this. Matt Frazier from No Meat Athlete asks Sid Garza Hillman about this and he replies, “No matter how healthily you’re eating, if it’s causing you stress to do so, you’re not eating healthily.” You can find this podcast series Here!

So for me, right now in my life, this means cutting down on the number of “new” recipes I’m making each week. I need to do this in order to stay sane, keep my kitchen clean so it doesn’t totally stress me out, and honestly, stay the healthiest and feel my best!

So if you’re just getting started and you DO need some recipe inspiration to even know how to begin cooking and eating in a healthy way in the first place, by all means, create a pinterest board for your new recipes or check out a cookbook from the library and copy down a few. It’s such a smart idea. But after you’ve established some favorites, it’s okay to have what you might call staple recipes in your diet! I can pretty much guarantee you it will reduce your stress. You don’t have to impress anyone.

If you’re starting a new healthy diet that is pretty new to you, make sure that you’re getting the nutrition you need, maybe keep track for a couple of days just to double check that you’re getting the necessary vitamins and minerals your body and brain need to function optimally, and then kind of set things on autopilot, and find out what works for you and your household!

 

What Does Stress-Free Eating look like in our home?

I focus on meal planning and preparation in advance to make sure I have less cooking time during the week. This equals cleaner kitchen (yay!) One or two days of meal planning and prepping instead of coming up with and making a big new recipe every single night from start to finish. Lifesaving.

We eat when we’re hungry! If you’re not hungry, you certainly don’t have to make a big gigantic meal for the whole family. Have fresh organic fruits and vegetables ready to be picked up and eaten when hunger hits! Eat until you’re satisfied and then put it away! This works very well for me and my family.

We don’t have all of our mealtimes together. Because of scheduling, it’s not possible for us to eat dinner together every evening, for example. But we are fine with that, and have adjusted, and it actually works quite well for our family. Sometimes we have breakfast together, sometimes it’s lunch, and a few times a week we are able to all sit down together and we do enjoy that very much.

I find that I am my absolute hungriest at 3 or 4 o clock in the afternoon. Strange? Maybe. You know how many of us feel that afternoon crash around that time? Well for me, that’s my body telling me its ready for dinner, usually. So I might go ahead and eat my larger meal then. At first this made me feel guilty and I thought to myself, “Is this okay? This seems wrong.” But no! I feel the freedom to do that because I’m listening to when my body is hungry! I find that if I eat well at that time, I’m pretty good to go for the evening, maybe just a handful of nuts at 7pm, and then I’m done for the day and I feel great.

Get into a good system where you find a set of recipes you can make consistently for a while, using up the ingredients you have. For example, on a Sunday I’ll prepare a pot of soup to heat up throughout the first couple days of the week. Or I’ll steam some quinoa or rice and put that in a large sealed container in the fridge and add that to salads or as a side throughout the week. In my freezer I ALWAYS have smoothie packs, bags of frozen bananas, and also bags of frozen beans that I’ve already soaked and boiled so they’re perfect for throwing into just about anything.

Right now I’m making lots of curries, soups, chili, and salads, and of course at least one smoothie a day. Smoothies are super versatile, of course. There are endless combinations of fruits and greens for loading into your smoothies. I never get bored of them.

For this next week I told my husband I would make some vegan breakfast burritos on sprouted wraps and throw those in the freezer for him to heat up on his early mornings so he doesn’t wake us all up with the blender at 5am! I’ll load these bad boy burritos up with potatoes, black beans, organic chipotle salsa and some vegetarian fat free refried beans to make them all stick inside, and they’ll be ready to go! Nix the additives, preservatives, oils, and hormone laden dairy products, and you have wholesome delicious wonderfulness.

This is the first of a three week series on how I make healthy eating easy and stress free in our family. So stay tuned! 

What healthy habits or practical tips do you have for yourself or your family for healthy eating when life gets busy? Let me know below!

Lastly, maybe this is totally an unprofessional way to do this, but I have an AUDIO VERSION of this blog post available! If you’d like access to that, please contact me! I can easily email it to you for you to listen to on your PC or Smartphone. (I need to upgrade this site before I’m able to directly upload audio files! eek! But this is something I will be offering in the hopefully near future!)

 

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Breathing During a Cold Weather Run (and a warming soup recipe!)

What’s a runner to wear during these cold months? On this cold and drizzly morning I bundled up and layered on my long sleeved shirts and threw a sweatshirt on over it all, complete with gloves and hat. The crisp air feels amazing on a run, I wasn’t about to stay inside! Let’s not let anything stop us! The cold weather can be the BEST weather to run in! If you’re a runner you probably agree with me, unless you love the heat and enjoy sweating like a river. I DO know people like this. But for me, the crispy cold is inspiring. It awakens my mind and makes me feel more aware! How about you?

Layer up! If the cold air bothers your lungs, practice taking a breath in through the nose to warm the air, hold it inside your lungs for a few seconds before letting it back out through the mouth. (This kind of breathing can also help you work through side aches and other annoyances during a run.) And as always, ALWAYS breath through your lower diaphragm and not your chest. The burning sensation you may experience when running in cold weather will probably decrease tremendously if you are breathing properly.

Tonight is Halloween night, and it’s cold and drizzly out there, folks! So I have this soup ready to go tonight when we get home from our favorite festivities. It’s warm, super flavorful, and it might just maybe help detox a little from the sugar rush. I don’t have a specific recipe here because I didn’t measure anything! But make it your own and use what you have! Do you have veggies leftover from the weekend? Soups are incredible ways to use leftovers. That’s my go-to “no waste” strategy! Also, for plant-based eating, squashes beans and peas make perfect thickeners for sauces and soup stocks. You’ll never have to use flour, oil, or dairy again to make sauces and stocks that are thick and creamy. AMAZING.

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What I Eat in a Day and Getting Enough Calories (on a whole foods plant based diet)

Alright, I’m very passionate about this topic. During my high school years I totally messed up my hormones and the health of my body with one simple mistake. I totally deprived my body of the amount of calories it needed to truly function well. I was eating very healthy foods! But not nearly enough of them.

When I got re-interested in healthy living after the birth of my son in 2013 my sister Theresa suggested that I could actually HEAL my chronic problems with my hormones with a real food diet. Even the thought of that makes me smile – when eating a real food, whole foods diet (non-processed, very healthy, mostly produce), you can either be left with some nutrient deficiencies and a major calorie deficit, or you can totally thrive! Well, having experienced both ends of the spectrum, I’m here to tell you what all the hype is about when it comes to eating good, wholesome food from the earth.

Clearly we all know that running through a fast food drive-through will give you an incredibly substantial amount of calories, but they are NOT the kind of calories your body needs to function at optimal levels. It takes a little more thought and purposeful intention to make sure you are getting enough calories in your whole foods diet on a daily basis so that you can thrive. Calories = energy. Remember that! Not enough of the right kind of calories will result in fatigue, lethargy, and moodiness, not to mention the harm it can do your body systems at large. (So will large amounts of the wrong calories, which most of us know, too!) We need to feel our best so we can BE our best!

Since 2013, my journey to discovering what life can be like living on whole foods has been incredible. Challenging, but worth it all, and it has landed me finally being able to make sense of my body (and still eager to learn more!). Making the switch to plant-based foods this summer has totally been where I really finally felt connected with my body, and I heard my body say “Alright, now you’re getting the hang of this.”

I do think that counting calories can be very beneficial to help people lose weight. I would never say it wasn’t, because so many of you have fabulous success stories. But the problem comes when you’ve counted calories and reached the perfect number for your goal, but they’ve all been the wrong calories that aren’t optimizing your body’s output. Not saying that’s you, but it’s a concern when counting calories. A couple meals of takeout will get you to a calorie goal, but be largely nutrient deficient.

Thankfully, there is a huge trend today for healthy eating. But there are so many different views and plans out there, and everyone thinks theirs is the right one, the only way to eat and be healthy. And most of them revolve around weight loss being a great result. True, being a healthy weight is extremely important. But so is the health of our mind and soul, and even the health of our earth, and how we treat our food- all of these things are affected by the choices we make regarding what we eat.

I chase around my kids all day, my husband and I are both on our feet all day for our jobs, we work out several times per week and burn 500-600 calories in a single cardio workout when we aren’t training for something. Plus, they tell me that breastfeeding burns another 500 calories or so, so bring it on! It’s very important to me that I get enough calories in my day (good calories!), if not, I’ll see my energy start to really drop mid day and my milk supply plummet.

I always start the day with a large jar of water with freshly squeezed lemon. I love this, it’s become my lovely habit to sip this since I gave up my coffee addiction. More on that later! Smoothies loaded with fruit and bananas, maybe some chia seeds or a vegan protein powder (if I feel I need the boost). I eat a good number of bananas per day because they are filling and nutritious, at about 100 calories per. I’ll make sure my hubby and I both have 5-7+ bananas in our morning or post workout smoothie. (Tip: A banana is FULLY RIPE when it is covered in brown spots. Not just a few brown spots and the tip is still green… no, LOTS of brown spots. That’s when it’s actually digestible. Most people think they can’t tolerate bananas, I was one of them, because they’re actually eating an unripe banana which is mostly dense, indigestible starch instead of easy to absorb sugars your body can readily use.)

The morning is mostly filled with fruit! Glorious beautiful fruit. (I’ll be posting in a later post on why fruit in the morning can be the best choice) At lunch and dinner it’s time to eat seasonal veggies, starches, lots of greens, and some gluten free grains. For dinner I love eating a massive salad the size of me… a massive bowl filled with greens, and whatever else I throw on top. Amazing…….

What we eat is SO simple, SO easy to prepare, and minimal cleanup. No scrubbing sticky pans. Yes! And it energizes us for our day. It’s also pretty darn affordable! See my post for how to eat plant based on a budget here. Check it out! I focus less on recipes, and more on meal assembly to save time and stress.

Looking to develop something similar to this plan in your home? It can’t and shouldn’t happen overnight, so to speak. Start with baby steps! What works for you? Maybe you eat pretty well already, but have let some processed foods slip back in. I can relate! Or maybe you need to start from scratch, what would be baby step number one? Maybe making sure you’re home at least one to two nights a week to make sure you can prepare your food at home and get the most out of your calories? It’s always healthier that way!

Connect with me on instagram to see more of what I eat and do in a day to support a healthy and active lifestyle @susan_restoringtheday

 

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Three Ways I Balance My Days (plus free printable!)

I believe a simple balanced life begins in the heart. I can strive for everything in my life to be perfect, my home to be clean, but laundry to always be tidy and put away, my schedule to never be double booked by accident… but sometimes things just get messy. I like to call it life. And I love life! So why would I want to let myself become anxious about these little things? Because it is the matter of the heart, I believe someone in a peaceful relationship with God and themselves will experience the most clarity and peace as they go about their day to day living.

We are all so very stressed, overworked, tossed around by relationship… I find myself craving simplicity balance and routine in the midst of hectic days. But it is possible to have balance even on the craziest days. It’s possible right now! It starts in my own heart and mind. Thinking back to my last couple of posts, I need to stop letting life run me and simply experience today with a grateful, soulful heart. The chaos of life will settle down when we really hone in on what’s important.

But that being said, here are three super simple things I do that have helped a LOT. I hope you find them helpful!

  • The annual purge. A friend of mine came up with this and I have adopted the idea for myself, with fantastic results. I chronically over commit. Any other over committers out there? The annual purge is so incredibly important I can’t even express it enough. This year I did the purge at least twice. It’s where I write out all my commitments and passions, categorize them by what is most important to me, and proceed to “purge” the things that don’t quite make the cut anymore. Working out will always be a huge priority for me, even just three per week. So if my time for that is being squeezed out, I need to take a look at what I’ve over committed to, and create some more margin. That’s just one example! And most importantly, I need to create and maintain a huge margin for my family, because they’re my world.
  • Make sure the simplest things in life are aligned. What you eat and what you wear, streamline what works for you so that you don’t have to think about them as much. I created a couple of capsule wardrobes this year and got rid of all the clothing I didn’t love. One of the best things I’ve ever done to my closet! To some of you it may sound mundane, but I have so many neutral colored pieces of clothing now and I LOVE it. I can dress them up with flashy red lips and cool pumps if I want to, but I know that the clothing in my closet all matches itself. It streamlines the getting dressed process. Similarly with eating, I know which foods now my body loves and which it does not. It’s amazing how simple meal assembly is when you eat healthy whole foods, just assemble a beautiful smoothie or salad, and fast food has never been better.
  • Journaling. I don’t journal every day. I think people who do must have amazing structure to their life and I love that. I wish I were that structured. Sometimes I get to it, sometimes I don’t. But when I do, it’s amazing the clarity it brings me! Journaling for me goes hand in hand with my time with God. This is where I can be quiet enough to listen to my Father God, reflect, and see what needs to change or what can be celebrated.

I’m sure you’ve heard all of these tips before! So have I, but they’re so valuable that I think it’s worth bringing them up as reminders during this week of inspirations! And they can be so very useful in helping us feel our best.

Here’s a link to a free PDF, it’s nothing fancy, but hopefully you can use it as a template to help stir up some good thoughts for your journaling experience.

restoringthedaydailyjournalprintable

Would you like to see more free printables? I’ve thought about creating one as a guide to doing an “annual purge”, so leave me a comment below if you’d like to see more along those lines!

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Plant-Based Breastfeeding

With my first, due to an innumerable amount of reasons, I stopped breastfeeding at four months. Do I wish I had continued? Absolutely. But I simply did not have the education and resources I do now and was under extreme circumstantial stress, so I don’t look back. It is what it is, and my son is healthy and happy and gleaning the excellent benefits of our diet and lifestyle now! Yipee!

With my second child, I am still breastfeeding her at 9 months old and have no plans to wean until its right for us both. I’ve been practicing baby led weaning with her, and I know that she’s getting prime nutrition from my breast milk as she explores this amazing world of food. My diet is rich in raw and lightly cooked nutrient dense foods. It’s extremely low in processed foods and sugar. And wow… when I really cinched back into this way of eating around when Z turned 3 months old, my breast milk supply shot up, and my body has kept pace beautifully. I also have improved physical and mental stamina, and I dropped the rest of the baby weight. Sound too good to be true? Stay tuned. There’s more.

Z is so happy and healthy and loves to nurse. Am I saying that this won’t be the case if you eat less than the ideal plant based diet? No absolutely not. The body is amazing and creates breast milk from whatever you have. But herein lies the problem. Your body will put baby first, and if all the good nutrition in your body is going to your baby, where does that leave you? Hungry, tired, exhausted, and pale? No thank you. I’d prefer to be radiant, energetic, and full of vitality thank you very much. So I eat fresh plants. Lots of them. Every day.

My tips for breastfeeding on a plant-based diet?

Tips:

  • Eat when you’re hungry! If you’re eating raw fresh fruit and vegetables, you can eat those whenever you want and you definitely don’t have to worry about gaining weight! And especially if exercising moderately to heavily you’re going to need to eat to support that. I’ll burn between 500 and 1000 calories on a longer run. I’m HUNGRY afterward, and I’ve found it’s important to milk supply for me to snack while I’m running, too! Sounds like the life to me!
  • replenish with plenty of hydrating fruits and vegetables, especially with exercise, and of course drink adequate water
  • take a vegan whole foods based prenatal multivitamin to fill in gaps if you feel you need it. Vegan mothers especially need to make sure they’re getting enough calcium, magnesium, vitamin D, and B12. Super important.
  • I love a good bowl of oatmeal right now while I’m breastfeeding. When I wean I’d like to not, but right now it really does the trick and my body craves it
  • pack on the dark leafy greens!!! So much protein, so many rich vitamins and minerals you and baby need.
  • Protein intake: Ah yes, where do I get my protein? Well protein powder is somewhat controversial in the plant-based world. Do we need it? Do we not? For right now, my body does not respond well if I don’t get enough and I immediately see a drop in milk supply. Not to mention the protein is important after a long run. So my current favorite protein supplements to throw in some almond milk or water with greens are from Vega and Sun Warrior. My whole family loves them so its a great buy for us.

So there are my tips on breastfeeding for now! Let me know in the comments if you have any suggestions for our friends and neighbors reading this, or anything you’d like to add!

 

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