Monday, June 11, 2012

A Day in the Life . . .

So here’s what I’m eating.

¼ C Fiber One Cereal
1T whole oats
1T flax seed meal
½ C Almond Milk
½ banana - sliced
2 lg strawberries - sliced
2 whole walnuts - crushed

This breakfast is a constant. You can add some variety each day with different fruits, but this is a really great meal and shouldn’t be messed with. Breakfast should be filling. Don’t be afraid to add more of anything above if you’re not feeling satisfied. The flax seed takes a little getting used to, but if you get the ground meal variety, it’s almost like a powder and adds a little nutty flavor to your cereal. It’s important to include flax seed to ensure you’re getting good omega-3 fatty acids and plenty of fiber. Don’t fear the fiber. A few days on this breakfast and you will be able to set your watch to your “regularity” if you know what I mean. Don’t be afraid to pile on the fruit, too. This meal should come in around 350-400 calories and give you enough energy to start the day.

Whole wheat tortilla
2C salad greens
1T vinaigrette dressing or hummus or avocado slices
¼ C Black beans
¼ C peas
¼ C sunflower seeds
Any other veggies/beans of your choice – tomatoes, cucumbers
A piece of fruit – apple, orange, nectarine, kiwi, etc.

Beware of the tortilla. Some wraps can be 350 calories!! Try to stick with wraps that are no more than 150 calories. You’ll want to spend the other 250 calories of this meal dressing up the tortilla. I have access to a great salad bar for lunch during the week, so I can choose a variety of greens and veggies to go into my lunch wrap. The key to the wrap tasting good is the dressing/hummus/avocado that goes into it. These are all healthy oils/fats and should taste good to you. I am obsessed with black bean hummus, and will use that as a condiment any chance I get. You won’t miss the mayo, I promise! Just stay away from any “creamy” dressings as they most likely contain dairy. When I get back to my desk, I lay out the tortilla, put everything out on top, and just wrap it up. Some days, the cafeteria will offer a stir fry-type meal, I will sometimes opt for that instead of a salad with veggies, tofu and brown rice.

For those of you on the go (and who live on the east coast) – Wawa now makes veggie subs to order. I go with the whole wheat shorti with avocado spread, cucumbers, spinach, tomato and onions – no cheese. They also have a decent pre-made roasted red pepper hummus with pita slices that comes in around 300 calories that makes for a decent lunch alongside a piece of fruit if you’re in a pinch.

Pre-made 6” pizza crust
1 small squash / sliced
¼ C sliced mushrooms
Any other veggies/beans of your choice – tomatoes, cucumbers

This is my vegan pizza dinner. Add to this whatever you like. I’ll add sliced tofu, maybe substitute hummus for pasta sauce. You can also add a soy-based cheese product if you need to have a pizza with “cheese”, but I’ve found that it doesn’t add much to the flavor and it’s not worth the calories. Plus it’s got to be processed, and I try to limit the amount of processed foods I eat. And since I don’t make my own bread, nor do I intent do, breads, wraps and pizza crusts are the bulk of my processed foods.

3C air popped popcorn
¼ C almonds
Unlimited amts of plain vegetables

Snacks are a must. I have a snack in between meals and one after dinner. I try to limit my snack calories to about 300-400 per day. The popcorn is great. This is usually my post-dinner snack. You can really feel like you’re stuffing your face and it’s only about 100 calories. And 3 C popped is a huge bowl. Kirkland (Costco) makes these cashew clusters with almonds and pumpkin seeds that are divine. Sweet and savory at about 150 calories per serving – tastes like a treat! I also like Planter’s Energy Mix packets that have sesame sticks and nuts for about 130 calories per serving – again very “treat”- like.

So if I follow this plan above perfectly, I’m eating around 1200 calories in a day. And I will lose weight – even if I’m not exercising. But let’s be honest – I don’t follow this perfectly every day. I’m human, I have kids and a husband who don’t follow this way of eating and I slip constantly. I’ll have a taste of that cupcake, or a bite of pizza. It happens. There are days when I workout and really need more calories, so I’ll listen to my body and adjust accordingly. But if I at least PLAN to eat well each day, and I get some exercise, and I follow this MOST OF THE TIME – I’m good. Bottom line is, I’ve cut animal products from my diet and I’m maintaining my health – and all the numbers prove it!

Next post . . .Grocery store shopping and eating out.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

This way to Veganville

Clearly some time has passed since my last entry. I'd like to share my journey following a vegan diet and the foibles and follies that have ensued since the New Year.

It all started in the beginning of January. While traveling for work, I met up with a friend who was telling me about this documentary about animal products and how bad they are for us. This, over a dinner in a Chicago steakhouse!! We shared oysters, a salad and plenty of wine. (Thank God wine is vegan!) I decided to cheek out the film and see for myself what all the fuss was about. In the meantime, I tried to go the next few days without eating any animal products. The meat part is really obvious and easy - no chicken, no burgers, no steak. The hard part is detecting the dairy and egg since it's in almost everything we eat. That's what separates the vegans from the vegetarians. Vegans don't eat ANYTHING that comes from an animal. If you subscribe to the idea that animal proteins are no good for you, then you have to also eliminate milk, yogurts, cheese and eggs from your diet.  Many vegetarians do eat dairy and eggs, and I've found that most "vegetarian" dishes contain these ingredients. So, I watched the documentary "Forks over Knives" and then watched a few more including "Earthlings" and "Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead". They all presented compelling cases to suggest that eating animal products and processed foods are bad for you, and bad for the planet, too. I was game.

Instead of trying to fit all this into 1 entry, I will try to post several times each week to get you all up to speed on how it's been going, what I'm eating, what recipes I love, and what I'm ordering at restaurants. I'm putting more effort that I have in a long time to keep my fitness and weight loss goals on track. Bottom line is this: I've been maintaining a vegan diet about 95% of the time. I say 95% because there have been some slices of pizza in a pinch, shellfish at restaurants when another salad just won't do, and the random ice cream cone here and there - I do have kids and it's not like it's against my religion or anything. I have not had ANY meat since January (minus the Wawa Italian shorti I had back in late Jan - a weak moment). I have managed to lose about 10 pounds with limited exercise - which I need to start getting into) and I'm proud to say I've been rockin' a bikini at the pool and looking pretty good. I'm down to a size 4 and am just about 13 pounds away from my former ballerina body!! I have lowered my cholesterol by 40 "points". I know they aren't' points, but I have no idea what the unit of measure is for that. I'm sure one of you smart readers will be more than happy to inform me what the proper unit is. My LDL is down and my HDL is up - or whichever is bad is down, and the other one that is good is up - again, smart people, feel free to chime in here - I'm all for an education.  I have gotten my bloodwork checked out by my physician and so far I'm not nutrient deficient and I'm not starving myself. I have lots of energy and despite my recent funk, I did not get my typical January funk that, if you've been reading long enough, you know puts a handful of pounds back on me each winter. So all is good and I hope that blogging a bit more about how I've done all this will keep me motivated to increase my activity level and continue with this lifestyle I have found that really works for me.

Next post - A typical day eating like a Vegan. . .