Where do you get your protein?

As a Flex-A-Vegan, mostly plant-based Nutritionist, the most common question I get asked is “Where do you get your protein?”

First, what is a Flex-A-Vegan, you ask? I’ve made up this term because I’ve never enjoyed being put in a box. Just like the name implies, I’m a flexible vegan, meaning I’m a vegan…..but sometimes I cheat. Sue me! But read on for my reasoning.

When I was diagnosed with cancer a year and a half ago (survivor now!), my oncologist told me that since my body would be undergoing horrific changes from the chemo, including messing up my chemistry, enzymes and digestive tract, I’d need to add in eggs and chicken to my diet for a whole year. He also mentioned that since I was on such an antioxidant-rich diet full of fruits and veggies, I’d also need to start eating…..well…..worse!

He said there may be a chance that my awesome, superhero diet might lesson the efficacy of my chemo. Crap! I didn’t want that so I obliged—bring on the vegan milkshakes!

He did ask where I got my protein and I told him “the same place Gorillas get theirs.” I told him that you can actually get everything you need from a plant-based diet but since our society has such a warped view of nutrition, people don’t know this. We ended up having weekly lessons where he’d educate me on stupid cancer and I’d educate him on food. An awesome partnership if you ask me.

There is 11.1 grams of protein per 100 calories in broccoli compared to 6.3 grams of protein per 100 calories in meat (beef), minus the nasty fats, too! In fact, celery is 17% protein!

It was weird at first, eating chicken and eggs again but I’ve since passed the 1 year mark and am now Flex-A-Vegan again. Every time I feel like I need something not plant-based (usually fish), I eat it.

Protein is very adequate and easy to obtain on a plant-based diet. Too much protein in our diets is causing a myriad of problems and they’re only getting worse. What’s your favorite type of protein?

Xo, Heather

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What are Excitotoxins? You need to know.

Simply put, excitotoxins are addictive flavor enhancers that are added to almost all processed foods. They are especially common in sweet and salty snack foods, frozen foods, yogurt, gum, condiments and diet snacks. They enhance flavor while poisoning our food in the process and causing an artificial “high” for the consumer. This is why most fast food chains hire food chemists to load their foods with these chemicals, so that it makes the customer want to come back for more.

Common excitotoxins are Nutrasweet (aspartame) and MSG (monosodium glutamate) and its derivatives. To be even sneakier, companies will use “other” code names for these chemicals like: autolysis/autolyzed yeast, yeast extract, textured protein, soy protein extract, sodium caseinate, natural flavors/flavoring, and “spices” without specifying which exact spices.

These chemicals react with specialized receptors in our brains that lead to cell death. These chemicals also cause a host of problems such as aging, neurological disorders, migraines, endocrine disorders, heart attacks, strokes, tumors, seizures and also worsen the symptoms of diseases such as MS, Lupus, Alzheimer’s, ALS, ADHD, Depression, Diabetes, etc.

Now, I’m one of those wacky nutritionists who keeps a list of those “code names” for MSG in my purse so that when I’m shopping I can quickly glance at my food labels, but I’ve even been tricked! There have been products that I would NEVER suspect would have these additives and when I got home I saw them listed under a sub-code name! Big box supermarkets and Trader Joe’s still widely use “natural flavors” and MSG or its derivatives very frequently in their foods. Did you know that “natural flavors” are even added to most teas?

It’s saddening that for one, we’ve gotten used to seeing these disgusting packaged foods in the markets and we grew up eating them so now we’re “hooked” on them and second, that most people either don’t know or don’t care to change their eating habits because it just tastes “too good”. Their tastebuds are now so used to artificial flavors that healthy foods “taste bad”. Well, that was the goal of these companies! It is so cheap to make these products and they are making profits off of our health and subsequent cancer and disease.

Back in the day, before modern technology and processed foods, people ate off of the land or through local farmer’s markets. They caught wild game and fish, ground their own wheat (which wasn’t genetically modified back then) and ate fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds from their gardens or the forest.

This is a diet that is highly natural because the food was closest to its natural state. Now, I don’t know what idiot proposed that you should milk a cow and give that to your kids, but a diet like I mentioned before would be most ideal for most people, minus dairy. You’re supposed to stick to your own species for that ;)…..plus, I haven’t heard of any mothers out there that ever made cheese from their breast milk….just sayin’.

Dairy-Free Butternut Squash Recipe Video Tutorial

Check out my new video tutorial on this dairy-free butternut squash recipe!

 

I challenge you to put this in your salad

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Can I challenge you to buy a head of red cabbage this week and use it mixed in your salads? It’s inexpensive & offers so much Vitamin A & a plethora of antioxidants. Who’s in?? It’s also match your shirt to your food day 😉

How to make healthy chocolate!

Yes! It’s here……a recipe for your own DIY healthy chocolate. It’s raw vegan and naturally gluten free too.

5 Minute Stir Fry Recipe

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5 Minute Stir Fry for dinner!

Recipe: equal parts kale, broccoli, yellow pepper, zucchini, tofu, red cabbage, 1-2 cloves of garlic & brown rice stick noodles. 
I dressed it with 2 TBL sesame oil, 1 TBL tamari and a dash of agave. So tasty!!

Wisdom from a tea bag

“The purpose of life is to enjoy every moment.”

I’ve learned a lot about life in the last 35 years. But, I learned even more about life in the last 2 years since being diagnosed, getting treated and surviving stage 4 cancer. Just writing that sentence out makes me stop and reflect on what that means and it’s awesome.
Enjoying every moment in life is kind of a tall order, right?
I’m not so sure I enjoy life when my finger gets smashed in the garage door or when I have to deal with political, medical red tape after switching health insurance companies, BUT, I do have the greatest insight into how we can do this. ATTITUDE & LETTING GO.
Facing my death did so much for me. After I started treatment I had to wait 4 long months before I could find out if it was working, so basically I had to sit at home and wonder if I was going to die or not. This isn’t what you normally ponder on a Tuesday night! I just wanted to watch The Voice! You can imagine that this causes one to re-evaluate their priorities as well as their thought patterns. I started noticing that I was no longer worried about anything other than living. I started noticing that everything I used to be scared of was now TRIVIAL. Everything I used to complain about was now TRIVIAL. I was no longer going to be a reactionary person. I was going to live with purpose, knowing how lucky I was.
 
Once I LET GO and shifted my ATTITUDE, I started to really live. I had to put full trust in the Universe and God to get me through this (letting go) and I had to put full trust in myself to do my part (attitude). I had to show up everyday with courage, strength, a grateful attitude and a fearless approach to life. I’ve taken this with me and to this day I still live like this. It changed my life. Nothing really bothers me that much anymore. I also don’t really worry about much anymore. I was able to let go of all of the stupid fears I had because really, how was that serving me? What was I so afraid of before? I can tell you it was nothing compared to the fear of death. So LET GO and and GO FOR IT. Live your life! Enjoy the moments. Stop worrying. Stop complaining. Trust me, life is so much better like this! Think for a moment about how lucky we are to be here and let’s not take anything for granted.

Spirulina….what is it?

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Most people in this day and age love adding supplements to their diets as a way of gaining extra insurance in terms of nutrients. This also helps us out when we get lazy and don’t eat a well rounded diet like we should. (Is it on purpose that I’m writing this post during December, the worst fall-off-the-wagon diet month?….Maybe…hee hee). But, I want to stress the importance of not beating yourself up if you eat poorly during the holidays. Food is not the enemy, it is simply designed to be fuel for our bodies, so do the best you can with your choices this month.

What is Spirulina? It’s a blue-green algae found mostly in Africa, Asia and South America. It’s one of the original superfoods! Superfoods, in case you’re wondering, are whole, natural foods that are rich in antioxidants, vitamins and superpowers. They are usually found in the form of berries, nuts, plants and algae. Spirulina comes mostly in powder, pill and flake form. Does it taste green? Sure it does! That’s why you mix it with something, but more on that later.

What are the benefits? Once used by the Aztec people, this algae is HIGH in protein, making it an awesome choice for vegetarians and vegans. In its dried form, it contains roughly 60% protein (wow!), and being a complete protein that means it contains all of the essential amino acids (great for glowing skin). Again, superfood! Spirulina is actually a better protein source than other plant foods like legumes, but don’t worry peas, I haven’t dumped you.
It’s also a great source of highly absorbable iron and vitamin B12, another great nutrient for vegetarians and vegans. Its essential fatty acids take down inflammation levels to repair damaged tissue, skin and muscle, and make the skin more resilient to future damage.

How do I use it? You can either take it in its pill form or use the powder in smoothies or drink. I will note that in Chinese medicine it is known as a “damp” food so it’s mainly ideal for those who live in very dry, hot climates like California, Arizona, New Mexico and certain parts of Texas. It helps balance your inside bodily condition more living in climates like that BUT anyone can use it, just don’t use too much. Follow the daily recommendations on the bottle or canister and obviously discuss dosage changes with your family physician.