Tag Archives: health

Loose Ends Before Summer

Standard

Alas, I have come back from the tropical paradise of Hawaii. I had a cup of fruit today with pineapple and it just wasn’t the same as the fresh, super sweet and juicy ones we had in Hawaii. Now we are all back with golden tans and ready to finish up our last assignments for our class. Unfortunately, we can’t get away with simply enjoying a 10 day trip to Hawaii for class credit, so we actually have to do academic things like write a paper and even take a quiz *gasp*. However, once this week is over, I officially begin my summer!

Shortly before I left on my trip, my wonderful parents sent me a copy of the new cookbook called The Plantpower Way. It is written by this awesome couple who are raising 4 kids on a plant-based diet, and the husband is actually an ultra endurance athlete who is in peak physical condition. And it’s not really just a cookbook, it’s more of a life book about the plantpower lifestyle. The recipes are mingled with sections on hot topics like getting enough protein and the environmental impact of eating meat, as well as more spiritual mind-body stuff like finding balance in your life. This book is pretty much all you could ever want in a guide to the vegan lifestyle, and it has become my bible.

Which brings me to my summer project: cook my way through The Plantpower Way. Just flipping through the pages makes my mouth water, and I know I have to try all of these fun recipes. The only downfall with the book is that it is most definitely not written for a college student; some of the ingredients don’t fall within a college budget, and a lot of the recipes seem pretty complex and time consuming. I’m hoping that with a little more free time this summer, I will be able to make a bit of a dent in this feast of recipes, though I may have to forgo a summer shopping spree or two in order to save up for my sea vegetables and weird asian ingredients that I can’t pronounce. Nonetheless, it should be a grand culinary adventure!

Last but not least, here’s a few pictures from Hawaii:

DSCN0339  gecko dropped in for breakfastDSCN0398 strangest flower I’ve ever seenDSCN0410 Kilauea smokin awayDSCN0437 the hot babes of our classDSCN0483  sea turtle!DSCN0492  cool beach angleDSCN0516 top of Mauna Kea, tallest peak from base to summit (13,700 ft above sea level)

Also, I never posted about my trip to Zion with Bridger, which we did the week before I left. It was pretty rainy for the most part, but it was also so lovely hanging out in the desert. Here’s a cool picture from the top of Observation Point, which actually looks down upon Angel’s Landing, which is the most famous hike in the park because of its knife-edge ridge and excellent views. We got the better view from Observation Point in my opinion, but we hiked Angel’s Landing the next day for good measure, and it was still an astounding view.

DSCN0310

Vegan = Healthy?

Standard

Something that has recently been brought to my attention is the misconception that vegan = healthy. One of my friends told me the other day that I’m the healthiest person she knows because I’m vegan, but this got me to thinking, and I realized that veganism does not necessarily mean healthy at all. For some reason, veganism is a very scary thing for people to think about, and they automatically jump to the conclusion that we only eat salads and maybe some nuts and berries that we gather from the forest. Along with this assumption also comes the idea that because we only eat salads, nuts, and berries, we are clearly the healthiest people. However, let’s consider the following list of food items:

  • Oreos
  • Cashew Cheesecake
  • French Fries
  • Garden Burger
  • Vegan Mac n Cheese
  • Sorbet

What do all of these foods have in common? Two things: they are both vegan and also unhealthy to consume regularly. Being vegan is not some insta-health solution. While it does encourage the consumption of natural foods over processed foods more than an omnivore diet, there are clearly many things, both processed or natural and homemade, that are still unhealthy.

What does this mean for me? Up to this point, I have been exploring the vegan diet and lifestyle, trying to figure out what works for me and how I can weave it into my sometimes crazy college life. It has been about two months now, and I am starting to feel pretty darn comfortable with being vegan. The next step is to go back and refocus on health and fitness through my diet, this time only powered by plants rather than by meats and dairy.

Right before going vegan, as I have mentioned before in other posts, I was about a month and a half into a clean eating diet plan that was set up for me by a nutritionist. I had a very specific diet consisting of extremely clean proteins like egg whites and lots and lots of chicken breast, ground turkey, and protein shakes (3 per day!). These proteins were paired with complex starchy carbs, veggies, and some occasional almonds for snack. Absolutely zero sugar was involved besides the fructose from 1/2 cup of blueberries in my morning oatmeal. It was a very difficult diet to stay on, and it became extremely boring because I couldn’t get very creative with my food and make new dishes. But the important parts of the diet were the absence of processed sugar (even a very low fruit intake), the high levels of protein, the complex carbs, and the portion control. Now, I have by no means just been wildly stuffing my face with vegan junk food for the past two months, but I also haven’t made the health factor the most important consideration when choosing foods. Now that I am feeling more comfortable with vegan eating, I think it is time to reevaluate the principles of my old clean diet and turn it into a less strict, more creative, yet still effective, vegan version.

Moral of this story: don’t take veganism as an obvious pathway to better health. Your health is still on you and what you choose to fuel your body with. A healthy, clean diet, especially a vegan one, can give you more energy, help you sleep better, and just make you feel better in general! Who wouldn’t want that?

After all of this health talk, if you happen to be looking for a vegan protein powder, I’ve finally decided that my favorite is Garden of Life’s RAW Protein in vanilla. I tried the VegaSport chocolate flavor for a while, but it has this weird, saltyish taste in it that I cannot stand, even when blended with bananas and blueberries and peanut butter and all other good things. The vanilla RAW powder has a more gritty texture, but the flavor is a lot more mild and easily blends with other yumminess.

If you have no idea how you could incorporate protein powder into your day, here are some ideas:

  • Mix into a bowl of oatmeal along with sliced banana and/or blueberries (LOVE this!)
  • Protein smoothie (my favorite is cashew milk+banana+blueberries+PB2+protein powder)
  • Mix into coffee…? (some people say it’s good but I haven’t had good results)
  • Protein pancakes (thousands of recipes online)
  • Chia seed and protein powder pudding (protein powder, nut milk, and chia seeds, leave it in the fridge until it gets gelatinous; saw this on Pinterest)