My healthy eating journey started as a young girl in Wisconsin.  My mother tried her darnest to keep up with the health trends and prepared healthy meals for us (aside from the cheese, eggs, & summer sausage).  As many know, those health trends weren’t easy to follow and certainly were not in the best interest of people’s health.  Most health studies were weighted by money and power of advertising.  There have been many mixed messages through the years:  Eggs are good, eggs are bad, coffee is good, coffee is bad, salmon is good, but don’t eat farm raised salmon, milk is good for you, humans are not built to process cow’s milk, chicken is a good alternative to read meat, well, it depends who you ask, eat your vegetables but not the genetically modified ones, wheat is good, well, until they started over-processing it and now it has so much gluten most humans cannot digest it.  The list goes on and on.  How are we to keep up with the dangers of our food system and knowing what is really healthy?

I try to keep a very simple approach to my philosophy of healthy eating.  If it comes out of the earth naturally without chemicals or pesticides, and it is sold in its recognizable plant form, then it may be good for my body.  If it comes in a cardboard box that has a several year shelf life, it is likely not good for my body.  Most people understand this concept but few follow it.  Busy lives and the abundance of convenience items have taken us away from healthy food preparation.  In addition, a lower level of meat and dairy in your diet (no fiber) and higher levels of plant-based foods seem to make sense. 

After seeing the documentary “Forks Over Knives,” my husband Rich said that he wanted to try this “vegan” thing for 30 days.  We watched several food documentaries over the years that showed how poorly animals are treated, the antibiotics and hormones we get in our meat, as well as the detrimental effects of the environment from raising livestock.  But “Forks over Knives” was different for Rich.  It focused on the health aspects of eating animal foods including meat, dairy, eggs, and fish.  The data, clinical studies and overall information was undeniable even for my meat-eating husband.  In short, the studies showed that a 20% animal protein diet (meat, cheese, milk, etc.) caused cancer cells to grow in the body.  Plant protein had the opposite effect.   Animal protein is also the main cause of osteoporosis.  That’s right, drink more milk and INCREASE your chances of getting it.  What, we were lied to?  Shocking I know!  Calcium found in leafy greens, beans, sea vegetables, and sesame seeds are the way to go as the calcium is more absorbable by the body. 

Preparing vegan meals can be very satisfying AND easy.  It also can save you money not buying meat (especially if you currently buy organic meat without the anti-biotics, hormones, and gmo corn feed).   Our new plant-based staples include whole grains (fuel the body so well), beans, lots of vegetables including squash, potatoes, tofu, fruit, coconut milk/yogurt/ice cream.  We usually make a big pot of rice or quinoa that we use in dishes during the week.  Rice takes 50min to cook and don’t you dare use that minute rice stuff.  Add organic beans (good protein, complex carbs among so many other goodies), onions, garlic, spices and any vegetables that look good to you.  Organic tofu adds a nice touch and extra protein.  Add some cooling tomatoes or avocados to top the dish.  And instead of salt, Braggs Amino Acids, which tastes like soy sauce, is a natural alternative for flavoring dishes.  It is a staple on our dinner table.  Use the leftover rice to make a stir-fry, add to a soup, or heat up with some sweet potatoes, eggplant or marinara.  I add leftover cold rice/beans to garden salads to add some meatiness and extra wholesome calories.  Nuts, seeds and dried fruit also add a punch to the boring salad.  Vegan or not, if you are not eating one big salad every day, you’re likely not getting the cancer-fighting, fat-eating, immune-boosting, nutrient-rich vegetables your body needs on a daily basis. 

Spend the extra money you’re saving by not buying meat to buy organic produce.  Organic foods have shown to have substantial amounts of more nutrients that the non-organic produce.  You can relieve your body of pesticides, chemical fertilizers, genetically modified organisms, etc. that your body does not know how to process.   Studies are showing that the genetically modified foods we’ve been eating for the past 15yrs are causing serious issues to our health.  Some countries have already eliminated all GMO foods.  Join the bandwagon to get the US to the tipping point.  Our government will not help us but the people buying the food can.  You may save mucho money in medical bills later on. 

We have been on a 100% plant-based diet now for over 3 months.  Rich had sinus issues before beginning the new vegan lifestyle.  His health began to improve a few weeks into it as his immune system began to free up the long hours it was spending on trying to identify and digest this stuff we call food.  We are both doing very well and I am convinced that a plant-based diet not only heals us physically but seems to bring peace to the spirit.  I am personally grateful to be compassionate with the animals on our earth. 

If you are interested in trying a healthier lifestyle and moving toward a plant-based diet, I recommend the book, The Kind Diet by Alysia Silverstone.  I am also starting a Tuesday luncheon group where we learn about our food, cook a healthy vegan lunch and eat.  I would love to have you!  Please respond to my blog with any comments you might have whether you are a loyal meat-eater, a wanna-be vegan, or just need to vent.  To your health and longevity…

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