Taste the Real Rainbow

One of the first things I learned on my path to healthy eating was the importance of eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables in all different colors. The colors are related to the nutrients found within fruits and veggies so in order to get a variety of nutrients, you need foods with a variety of colors. Below is the first “healthy food thing” I ever posted on my refrigerator. I got it from the Eat Well, Live Well challenge at my job. It was very useful as a reference when I couldn’t think of something… blue to eat, for example. 

It also introduced me to another topic that I think is a very important one, phytochemicals (or phytonutrients). There’s a quick definition of phytochemicals on the bottom,  but if you want to read more about it, I would recommend browsing this site. There is also some discussion on phytochemicals/phytonutrients here, here and here.

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Time to Get My Weight Loss On!

If you read my post about my goals for this year, you know that one of my goals is to lose some weight. I initially wrote 5 lbs, but I think I will shoot for 10 lbs instead. When I lost weight last April, my goal was 10 lbs and I reached a loss of 20 lbs, 5 of which I’ve regained. So initially I just wanted to lose the 5 lbs that I put back on, but I think I should aim a little higher this time.

My plan is simple:

  • Keep a weekly journal of my progress
  • Workout at least 3 times a week
  • Keep the calorie intake to about 1200 per day
  • Have consistent weigh-ins

That’s what I did before and it worked so I’m hoping that repeating the same process will yield favorable results.

I’m actually really glad that I did keep a journal. It’s nice to be able to go back and re-visit the successes and struggles that I faced, and overcame, while striving toward my goal. It was also nice to get comments here and there from people who had faced or were facing the same issues.

The working out piece is pretty obvious. If I’m trying to lose weight by burning fat, well then I gotta get to burning. In its simplest form, weight loss is a numbers game. One pound of fat provides about 3500 calories of energy (as related to food and weight). So the goal is to healthily create a difference of 3500 calories per each pound I want to lose. Cardio workouts burn lots of calories and strength training builds muscle, which burns more calories than fat.

The most important aspect to creating that calorie deficit is limiting the amount of calories I consume. This is why my goal is about 1200 calories a day. According to the references I’ve read, I likely burn about 1500 calories in a typical day, not including strenuous workouts. So if keep my calorie intake to about 1200, that’s a difference of 300 calories in one day. I wouldn’t want to go much lower than 1200 because I’d risk entering starvation mode. But at that rate I’d still lose a pound in about 12 days. So even if I didn’t want to do any exercise, if I just limit how much I eat I’d lose 5 lbs of fat in about 2 months (but I’m impatient so I will be exercising). Of course other factors come into play, what it is that I’m eating, metabolism and probably some other sciency stuff. But I’m not too worried about the other factors because I know that I have a healthy diet and I don’t have much direct control over any of those unknown factors, especially since they’re unknown (to me).

The last piece, the weigh-ins, is mainly to hold myself accountable. I weigh myself almost every morning (hey, the scale is right there), but when I have my weigh-ins, I will be posting my current weight so there’s more motivation for me to actually be making progress. And I found that it’s best to do it after the weekend so during the weekend I’ll be less tempted to not work out or binge cause I know my weigh-in is coming up.

So that’s my plan. Monday will be my first weigh-in. Pray for me!!!

(BTW:  if you’re interested in losing weight as well, let me know so we can do it together and encourage each other along the way. It helps!)

Random List of Places I Eat When I’m Too Lazy to Make My Own Food

I just felt like highlighting some of the places that I’ve come to love on those days when I want to get out and let someone else make my food (I just had lunch so food is on my brain).

1. Chipotle – I LOVE Chipotle. I have for some time now and that love didn’t die when I stopped eating meat; I just changed what I order. I used to get a chicken bowl, now I just get a veggie bowl loaded with black beans and lettuce (and usually without rice). The Chipotle by my job even offers a meat substitute, but I prefer getting the veggie bowl cause then I don’t have to pay extra for guacamole.

2. Salad Creations – This is probably my FAVORITE place to go for lunch (there’s one close to my job). Anything you can think to put on a salad they have. Plus they have red wine and balsamic vinegar for those days when I don’t want a fatty dressing.

3. zpizza – I lived right by a zpizza for years and never tried it until after I gave up meat & dairy and learned they offer a dairy free cheese substitute. Now I love this place. Every pizza I’ve had here has been delicious. Like most other pizza places, they have online ordering and delivery.

4. Subway – When ever I want to spend no more than $5 on lunch, I go to Subway. The Veggie Delite does me right.

5. Veggie Grill – Every now and then I get the hankerin’ for a burger, just without the meat (and the fat and the cholesterol that comes with it). When I do, I usually go to Veggie Grill for lunch. While this isn’t my favorite vegan restaurant, it does have a number of tasty menu items that I enjoy.

6. Native Foods Cafe – Ok, THIS in my favorite vegan restaurant so far. If only there were one close to me… *sigh* Going to Native Foods is always a treat. It’s great for omnis and carnis alike. I’ve taken a few friends there and they all liked what they had.

7. “Ethnic” Restaurants – Why does it seem like every other type of cuisine is 20-times more vegetarian friendly than American cuisine? If going out, I love places that serve Thai, Greek/Mediterranean, Indian, Afghan/Pakistan, etc… Point being I can usually find some great “fare” at a restaurant that serves food other than American.

8. Burger Joints –  So now that I’ve talked all this mess about American cuisine, I will say that most burger chains (think Red Robin, Johnny Rockets, etc) do offer a veggie burger. This usually isn’t my first choice of places to go (I’d much rather hit up Native Foods for a “Chicken Run Ranch Burger”), but if I’m with people who want to go to a burger place or if I want a burger, but don’t wanna make it and don’t feel like driving to LA or the OC, I’ll just settle for the nearest burger place that’ll give me a veggie patty.

So there’s my list. I’m sure this list will grow as I continue trying new places, but this is what it is for now.

Farmer’s Market Fun

image

Every Wednesday there is a small farmer’s market in the parking lot of the Whole Foods near where I work. I’ve been wanting to go for a while, but haven’t had the chance to until yesterday.

If you’ve never been to a farmer’s market, you are missing out, especially if you’re like me and love free food.  All of the ones I’ve visited thus far are pretty much the same, but sampling all the fresh fruit never gets old! There’s always a number of vendors selling all sorts of food (fruits, veggies, desserts, BBQ, Mexican, Indian, Mediterranean, Asian, etc.) and goods (clothes, art, body products, etc.). A lot of times there will be music or performances by community groups or local artists.  This one even had a small petting zoo and pony rides.

Petting Zoo

Overall, I’ve found that the prices are slightly cheaper than buying in the grocery store, but what I really like is that you know that you’re buying produce that’s in-season and fresh. I’ll also say this: since I’ve started buying more of my weekly produce at the farmer’s market, my grocery bill has gone down drastically. I think this has a lot to do with the fact that the grocery store atmosphere makes people like me, hungry, more inclined to make impulsive purchases or buy way more than what I can eat before it spoils (**moment of silence for all my wasted food**). Farmer’s markets have a much more mellow atmosphere, which makes just going an enjoyable experience, even if you buy very little.

Mmmm.... Spinach Bolani

If you haven’t already, I would  definitely  encourage you to take a trip  to your local  farmer’s market. I’ve  provided a list of a  number of ones that  are held in the greater Los Angeles  area. I’ve also included a couple of links  that also list some (there may be  duplicates). If you live out here, I  guarantee you that there is at least one  that you’ll be able to go to. If you don’t  live out here, a simple Google search  will help you locate one near you. So, find one that works best with your schedule, grab some cash and get out to the market!

Here’s the list (copied from www.FarmerNet.com):

Continue reading “Farmer’s Market Fun”

Cleaning Out the Kitchen

A lot of the success I’ve had thus far with changing my diet hasn’t been as much due to will power as it has been due to controlling what is available to eat, so when I ran across this article I really wanted to share since I know a number of people who are working on eating more healthfully.  Removing items that are detrimental to your health from your home is a great way to start changing your eating habits. This article has some good tips on how to go about doing this. I’ve posted the entire article below, but I would suggest you check out the site since they have a number of great health related articles.

Kitchen Makeover (from HealthCastle.com)

(HealthCastle.com) For many of us, junk food is much more tempting when it’s within easy reach. If it’s out of sight, it is probably out of mind – and won’t be calling your name every time you walk past it. So go take a deep dive into your kitchen and get rid of all the junk that your body doesn’t need, and trade up for something healthier that is deserving of permanent citizenship in your home! Continue reading “Cleaning Out the Kitchen”

Top 10 Reasons for Going Veggie

I saw this and I had to share. People always ask why I decided to give up meat and dairy. Well, 7 out of 10 of the reasons listed here are ones that directly affected my decision, in addition to some other more personal reasons that I’ll get around to writing about one day.

So here’s the list. I copied it directly from Down To Earth’s website (it’s a vegetarian food store in Maui)

Top 10 Reasons for Going Veggie

  1. Reduce risk of the number 1 killer – heart disease

    Vegetarian diets are naturally lower in saturated fat, and cholesterol, and higher in plant nutrients than most meat-based diets. Vegetarians have been shown to have a 24% lower risk of dying of heart disease than non-vegetarians.1 New Harvard research has shown high consumption of red meat and heme iron may increase the risk of heart disease by 50% amongst diabetics.2 World-renowned physician Dr. Dean Ornish found that patients on a low-fat vegetarian diet actually reversed coronary heart disease.3

  2. Cancer prevention

    “Studies have shown that significant reduction in cancer risk among those who avoided meat…Meat is devoid of fiber and other nutrients that have a protective effect. Meat also contains animal protein, saturated fat, and, in some cases, carcinogenic compounds such as heterocyclic amines (HCA) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) formed during the processing or cooking of meat. HCAs, formed as meat is cooked at high temperatures, and PAHs, formed during the burning of organic substances, are believed to increase cancer risk.

    In addition, the high fat content of meat and other animal products increases hormone production, thus increasing the risk of hormone-related cancers such as breast and prostate cancer….Vegetarian diets and diets rich in high-fiber plant foods such as whole grains, legumes, vegetables, and fruits offer a measure of protection.” 4

    Local Hawaii legend Ruth Heidrich is another great example of the power of a vegetarian diet. Following the advice of Dr. John McDougall, Ruth switched to a vegetarian diet after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Ruth not only overcame the cancer, she went on to become an award-winning, record-breaking triathlete. She tells her incredible story in the best-selling book, “A Race for Life.” 5

  3. Lose excess weight and keep it off

    On average, vegetarians tend to be slimmer than meat eaters. Obesity rate in the general public is extremely high, while in vegetarians, the obesity rate only ranges from zero to six percent. 6

    A vegetarian diet low in fat and rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains and legumes accompanied with daily exercise is the perfect formula for healthy weight loss.

  4. Live longer, slow the aging process

    A 12-year Oxford study published in the British Medical Journal found that vegetarians outlive meat eaters by six years. 7 Plant-based diets are generally rich in fiber, phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, which in turn strengthen the immune system and slow down the aging process.

  5. Avoid toxic food contaminants

    Flesh foods are loaded with dangerous poisons and contaminants such as hormones, herbicides, pesticides, and antibiotics. As these toxins are all fat-soluble, they concentrate in the fatty flesh of animals. Not to mention the viruses, bacteria, and parasites such as salmonella, trichinella and other worms, and toxoplasmosis parasites.

  6. Reduce Global Warming

    The United Nations said in its 2006 report that livestock generate more greenhouse gases than all the cars and trucks in the world combined. 8 Therefore, the single most important step an individual can take to reduce global warming is to adopt a vegetarian diet.

  7. Humans are vegetarian by design.

    Our flat teeth are perfect for grinding grains and vegetables, not for tearing apart animal flesh. Similarly, our hands are designed for gathering, not for flesh-ripping. Our saliva contains the enzyme alpha-amylase, the sole purpose of which is to digest the complex carbohydrates in plant foods. (This enzyme is not found in the saliva of carnivores.) Basically we have all the right apparatus to consume vegetarian products, and none of the right apparatus for flesh foods.

  8. Help end world hunger

    Every day forty thousand children on this planet needlessly starve to death. Crops that could be used to feed the hungry are instead being used to fatten animals raised for food. If everyone on Earth received 25 percent of his or her calories from animal products, only 3.2 billion people could be nourished. If everyone ate a vegetarian diet, there would be more than enough food to nourish the world’s entire population of more than 6.3 billion people. 9

  9. Have compassion for animals

    Animals on today’s factory farms have no legal protection from cruelty that would be illegal if it were inflicted on dogs or cats. Yet farmed animals are no less intelligent or capable of feeling pain than are the dogs and cats we cherish as companions. A vegetarian lifestyle awakens our spirit of compassion and guides us towards a kinder, gentler society in which we exercise a moral choice to protect animals—not exploit them.

  10. Enjoy the diverse, colorful, and delicious world of vegetarian cuisine

    Vegetarian meals can be tasty, fast, and easy. Plus, you can make any of your favorite non-vegetarian dishes by substituting with ready-made meat alternatives. There are lots of vegetarian cookbooks available as well. The Down to Earth all-vegetarian Deli is perfect when you don’t have time to cook but don’t want to compromise on taste and quality.

Organic or Not?

When I first switched over to a plant-based diet, my grocery bill was absolutely ridiculous. I went out and bought a LOT of produce, all organic. What I found was two things: 1) real food goes bad, fast and 2) buying everything organic is expensive. The solution to the first was simple, buy less. The second I resolved by only buying the items with the highest pesticide load organic. Of course, the ideal is to have everything organic, but this method will have to do for now.

To determine which produce I should buy organic, I looked up what is known as the “dirty dozen” and the “clean fifteen.” These list are put out yearly to help consumers identify the conventionally grown items that have been found to have the highest pesticide load and the ones that have been found to be the “cleanest.” The goal is to avoid conventional items on the “dirty dozen” list and only buy those organic. If you’re trying to save money, the items on the “clean fifteen” list are generally safer to buy conventional.

Here are this year’s lists

Dirty Dozen (taken from TheDailyGreen)

  1. Celery
  2. Peaches
  3. Strawberries
  4. Apples
  5. Blueberries
  6. Nectarines
  7. Bell Peppers
  8. Spinach
  9. Kale
  10. Cherries
  11. Potatoes
  12. Grapes

Not part of the list, but these next 3 should be bought organic due to the amount of pesticides and/or chemicals found

Meat
Milk
Coffee

These next 4 barely missed this year’s list but you should still stick to organic:

Leafy Greens
Carrots
Pears
Tomatoes

Clean Fifteen (taken from MindBodyGreen)

  1. Onion
  2. Avocado
  3. Sweet Corn
  4. Pineapple
  5. Mango
  6. Asparagus
  7. Sweet Peas
  8. Kiwi
  9. Cabbage
  10. Eggplant
  11. Cantaloupe
  12. Watermelon
  13. Grapefruit
  14. Sweet Potato
  15. Honeydew Melon