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Healthy Tuesday: Animals Are My Friends, and I Don’t Eat My Friends

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I have been vegetarian since I was really young.   I started off omitting red meat, then slowly worked each type of meat out of my diet.  It was hard when I was younger.  My mom didn’t really like to cook in general, and I was really too young to cook for myself so I ate a lot of side dishes.  I wouldn’t totally call myself a carb-loading vegetarian, but it wasn’t a perfect diet either.  No one else in my family is vegetarian, in fact they all think I am a little crazy but they have embraced it now.

I honestly am not totally sure how I decided that I didn’t want to eat meat anymore.  I was never much of a fan of fish, and I would never eat veal.  In fact I still remember (sorry for throwing you under the bus mom) one night my mom made veal parmesan for dinner and actually took the time to mold my piece of veal into the shape of a chicken breast and tried to trick me into eating it, but I figured out as soon as I cut it open.  I suppose that is something I wouldn’t have done, but I get where she was coming from.  She was tired of chicken all the time and needed something new.  I mean really I am sure all of you parents out there have fibbed to your kid at one point, or realized that you as a child were tricked by your parents.

How about the time that my dad told me that an artichoke was a fish and I believed it and never tried it until I was in my 20’s.  I didn’t know he was joking, and he forgot he made the joke.  When I was a kid it made sense since he was eating the heart, I honestly thought it was like some weird living sea plant looking animal.  Sounds crazy now, but I didn’t even find out I could eat it until I was 22 at T.G.I Fridays when my friend wanted to order spinach artichoke dip and I told her I couldn’t eat it because I didn’t eat fish.  I can still see the look on her face when she heard me say that.  All those years I was missing out on just how amazing artichokes are.

anyway…..

Now that I am 31, I have a lot more control over my diet, and I am completely settled in my vegetarian lifestyle, I also know what things are vegetables and what things are meat (lol).  I can tell you now exactly why I eat plant-based and it is for a ton of reasons.  Firstly it is the most obvious reason, animal rights.  By now I am sure everyone is familiar with the horrors of factory farming and I really shouldn’t have to preach about it.  At this point you either care or you don’t, but I hope eventually everyone starts to care.  The animals that are suffering just so people can have a cheap fast food hamburger are astounding and heartbreaking.

In this month’s Healthy Tuesday articles I am going to break down the other two less obvious reasons that I am vegetarian into two parts.  This week I am going to cover the environmental reasons, next week I will be back with a his plate/her plate recipe, then on the 16th part two:  the health reasons of being a vegetarian and lastly I will finish off every month with a new smoothie or juice recipe.

The biggest reason for having a plant based diet is for the environment.  The meat industry has a huge impact on the environment that I choose to not be a part of, here is why:

 

Six  Environmental Reasons to Chose a Plant-Based Diet

  1. Our waterways are being polluted:  The waste, antibiotics, and pesticides from factory farms are running into our water supply.  A typical pig farm produces the same amount of waste that 50,000 humans do, but they don’t have the same sewer system to take care of it.

  2. Our Forests are being cut down at an alarming rate:  Since 1967 our forests have been destroyed at an estimated 1 acre every 5 seconds for cattle in order to keep a cheap supply of beef for our fast food restaurants.  At this rate some of our rainforests could be gone in as little as 30 years.

  3. We are using our land inefficiently: The amount of land needed to feed one person on a meat-based diet could feed 20 vegetarians.

  4. We are wasting our resources:  It requires 16 pounds of grains and 2,500 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of meat.  Growing that amount of grain for human consumption could feed 16 people and only uses 250 gallons of water.

  5. We are wasting our energy:  It takes more than 10 times the fossil fuels to produce one calorie of animal protein versus the same amount of plant protein.

  6. We are destroying our oceans:  Commercial fishing nets catching everything in its path which destroys coral reefs, home to billions of different aquatic animals.

There are so many other environmental reasons for adopting a plant based diet, if these facts have sparked your interest start googling and you will see so many more.  Even changing one of your meat-based meals to a vegetarian meal can help make a difference! 

Check back every Tuesday for a new Healthy Tuesday article or recipe!

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Soak Your Nuts

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Since I have gotten my juicer I have started making my own nut milks.  Of course you don’t need a fancy juicer to make your own nut milks but you at least need a fancy blender.  I drink a Vega One shake pretty much every morning and I always mix it with almond milk.  Packaged almond milk, while it is convenient contains added ingredients that you just don’t need such as thickener and stabilizers.  Not to mention it is pasteurized so all the beneficial enzymes are gone.  By making my own milks I can ensure that my milk is still raw which is awesome.  But this post isn’t about making your own nut milks, or why the ingredients in store bought milks aren’t good for you thats for another day.   This post is about

soaking your nuts…

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I’m sure by now everyone knows that raw nuts are the best for you, they contain live enzymes that are great for your body and are a great source of minerals, protein, and healthy fats.  But what isn’t so great for us is something that nature set up for these nuts survival.  Raw nuts contain enzyme inhibitors, phytates (phytic acid), polyphenols (tannins), and goitrogens.

So why don’t we want to eat these?  Phylates in nuts (as well as grains!) can combine with calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and zinc in the intestinal tract and make it impossible for them to be absorbed which can lead to mineral deficiencies as well as bone loss and can also wreak havoc on our digestive system.  Enzyme inhibitors keep the enzymes in the nuts basically inactive until germination (which we are mimicking by soaking).  Tannins also inhibit digestion by binding to the proteins and interfere with the absorption.  Goitrogens interfere with iron intake and can suppress the function of the thyroid gland and can result in an enlarged thyroid.  Sure all these facts make raw nuts sound scary but we can get rid of all these issues just by soaking them.

Soaking nuts also increases the amounts of vitamins, especially the B vitamins that are so important especially to vegetarians.  It makes the digestion easier, prevents mineral deficiencies and helps neutralize toxins in the colon.  Even better soaking nuts like walnuts can take away some of the bitterness and I think it makes them taste sweeter.

But you are probably wondering, do you just eat them wet?  Sure, you can… but other people like to dry them in a dehydrator or in the oven at the below 150 degrees.  I have to admit I don’t really snack on nuts much so I don’t dry them I just use them soaked making either nut butter or nut milks.  I also don’t want to own another appliance, the space in my kitchen is so limited and all these appliances are getting crazy and I don’t trust my oven to stay low enough, but in the summer months you can leave them in the sun with a cloth over them to dry, though it will take longer.

I typically soak my nuts overnight, its just easier for me to put them in the jars before i go to bed and then when I get home from work I take them out.  But here is a great chart that tells you how long you should soak nuts, grains, seeds, and beans! So give it a shot, give your body a chance to absorb all those great nutrients and see how much better you feel!

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soaked almonds on the left, un-soaked on the right..

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Why I won’t eat artificial sugars

Reblogging this post because it is important…

My Fit Decision

I suppose I should start this post by talking about my background. When I was putting myself through hair school I worked at Whole Foods Market (WFM). One of this things that happens when you work there is you learn about how horrible artificial ingredients are. ( some I guess would say slightly brainwashed, eh)

I always knew about aspartame and saccharin but Splenda was newer to the market when I started at WFM. I am sure I don’t need to tell you about the dangers of aspartame of saccharin but since it is still being put in products, I guess not everyone cares. Aspartame has been linked to neurological disorders like ms, lupus, and fibromyalgia. Saccharin was shown to damage cells and be a carcinogen. What freaks me out the most about saccharin, also known as sweet and low is that it is a common practice among hair stylists…

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Cha-Cha-Cha-Chia!

I know many people recognize that little jingle in my title.  Many people know Chia seeds as this little planter that probably a lot of us got for christmas at least a year or two, I am pretty sure I might have asked for it when I was a kid lol

But chia seeds are better than that.  They don’t deserve to be wasted on a little piece of pottery, they are amazing for you to actually eat!  Some of the benefits include:

  • Omega-3: Chia seeds are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, the same omega-3’s as flax seeds, and fish.  Chia seeds are the most rich plant source of these “good fats” which help prevent inflammation such as heart disease and arthritis!
  • Benefits Diabetes: Chia seeds can help regulate blood sugar because they help slow down how fast our bodies convert carbohydrates into simple sugars.
  • Weight loss: Chia seeds can help block calorie absorption as well as keeping you feel fuller longer.  These seeds can absorb up to 10 times their weight in water and produce a thick gel to keep you full, They have also been shown to curb food cravings and prevent your body from storing unnecessary fats.
  • Hydration: The thick gel that is created when you hydrate a chia seed can help keep your body hydrated which is great for athletes.
  • Blood Pressure: Studies have shown that these seeds can help lower blood pressure
  • Immune System:  Chia seeds are full of vitamins and minerals to help boost your immune system, in fact when compared gram for gram they have more than 500% more calcium than milk, 200% more iron than spinach, and 100% more potassium than bananas!
  • Fiber: for a 28 gram serving Chia seeds have 11 grams of fiber, that is 42% of your daily recommended dose!
  • Easy to eat and digest: Chia seeds do not need to be ground up to get the benefits unlike flax seeds.  This makes them great to mix in with anything. Throw some in your smoothies and drinks, or on your salads, they even work as a great thickener for soups!
hydrated chia seeds

hydrated chia seeds

Chia gel

Chia gel

I love to mix them in my juices, they don’t alter the taste at all and with so many added benefits why not.  I like to hydrate the seeds before I add my juices to them as they don’t plump up as much if you just add them straight into your drink.  While I am juicing I put a tablespoon or so in my glass and put enough room temperature water to cover them, usually by the time my juice is done the seeds have hydrated and are covered in the gel, then I just pour my juice over top and stir.  It is pretty cool because they float around in my juice and don’t really sink or float to the top.  It kind of reminds me of the drink from the 90’s called Orbitz only a lot healthier.

What do you think?  Would you try them?

 

 

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Motivation : Take Two

One of the top things people always bring up to me is motivation.  I get comments all the time from people saying “I wish I had your motivation” or “where do you get your motivation?” etc.

I’ve done a post about it before (Let’s Get Motivated).  I talked about the importance of setting small goals, having a friend with you, and exchanging the word diet with life change.

Those are still all great ways to keep motivated.  When I first started this blog I mentioned that I didn’t start it until I lost 15 pounds because I am a quitter.  I read somewhere that one of the worst things to do when making a goal, or a resolution is to talk about it.  It said that when we talk about things we want to do with other people that often times the response we get when we talk about the idea is enough to satisfy us that we don’t end up following through with whatever goal we had.

I totally agree.

So what am I saying you should do?  Don’t talk to me about trying to find your motivation, stop telling other people that you are going to work out, the only person you should tell is yourself, and maybe a friend.  Don’t set yourself up with unattainable goals.  If you do and fail it will only make you less motivated.

When I started this whole life change, I originally told myself I would go to the gym 3 days a week.  Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays because those were my days off and I wouldn’t have to wake up early before work to do it.  That to me made this entire thing possible.  At the time I was sleeping till almost noon and going to work at 1.  I knew if I totally changed everything about my life right away I would grow to hate it and I would fail.  Once I realized that the three days a week was easy, and I didn’t hate it I added an extra day in there (before work! gasp!) Before I knew it I was waking up all by myself without an alarm clock around 8.30 am and going to the gym everyday before work.  Even stranger, enjoying it.  And you know what, I feel better than I ever did before.  Not only is it nice waking up on my own without the loud screeching alarm clock, but I also have less stress and less weight to lug around to boot.

I am also not above bribing, I bribe myself all the time.  Well, I mean reward.  yeah, reward thats it… What’s better than buying new clothes and shoes?  To me nothing…  Shopping fuels me.  The more weight I lose the more dresses I get to buy, and even better the more dresses I can fit in.  How is that for motivation.  I know a lot of people tell you not to shop for the size you want to be, but why not?  I don’t see myself quitting anytime soon so why not buy dresses that I like if I know I am going to fit in them later.  I am not saying go out and buy a size 0.  But a size or so smaller, I see no harm.  Plus I think one of the hardest things in the beginning was feeling frumpy in everything I wore.  In the beginning I didn’t want to buy new clothes until I changed sizes drastically, but it left me feeling gross and ugly.  I think by feeling good in your gym clothes, work clothes and any clothes for that matter also keeps you going.  Maybe you have a dress that looks good on with spanx right now, well keep working and eventually you won’t need the spanx, then later it might be in your sell pile.  I’m a visual person, seeing my sell pile grow is motivation, and seeing a dress i couldn’t zip all the way up zip up with no problem makes me ecstatic.

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so much to sell, so little time

I guess the point of these posts are that there are plenty of things that can motivate you… the trick is YOU need to find what motivates YOU.  If you are ready to make the change you will, and it won’t be easy, but it won’t be impossible either.  If it were easy everyone would do it, and if it were impossible no one would have done it.  So lets go… find your motivation and start working towards what you always wanted, be it losing weight, getting fit, or even something totally unrelated and be one of the people that other people go to to find their motivation.

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The Hair Stylist’s Guide to Coping With Gym Hair.

This morning when I was in the shower on my second lather of shampoo trying to get all the dry shampoo and sweat out of my hair I realized I should talk about the best ways to deal with gym hair.

Hopefully by now we all know that it is not good to wash your hair every day, but for a person that goes to the gym everyday that can be torture.  Before I started working out I would wash my hair once a week and it was awesome I could wake up late for work and my hair would still look okay.  Now that I go to the gym 6 days a week my hair gets gross!  I’ve found a few tricks that helps me get through some of the rough days and a few products that help me get by.  Now i wash my hair 2-3 times a week, but I aim to just do it on Wednesdays and Saturdays.  I work at my salon Wednesday-Saturday so this way my hair looks good when it should and the other days, well, oh well lol.  When I wash my hair I only put conditioner from the middle of my hair down this way I prevent any greesy-ness from the start.  Wednesday I obviously have clean hair so I wear it down and nice with a little bit of wave so it looks better in my ponytails later.

Thursday when I get home from the gym my hair is usually soaked, usually I can get away with just blowdrying it so that it is dry and spraying a little dry shampoo on my roots and bangs to absorb some of the oil.  One of my favorites is Redken’s Powder Refresh.  It works for me because it is pretty color-less, a lot of dry shampoos are white powder and can make dark hair look grey no matter how much you brush it out.  A great drugstore dry shampoo is one by Got2b called Rockin it – Dry Shampoo.  It smells really good, and even though it  is white powder it brushes out pretty well

By Friday after another gym day usually my hair is pretty dirty.  Sometimes I can wear it down again with a second dose of dry shampoo, usually if I can wear it down I most likely can’t wear my bangs down so a great way to camouflage oily flat bangs is with a braid.  I like to do a french braid, however to get the actual braid to lay at my hairline, I only bring in more hair from the top part of the braid instead of both sides.

I am not going to say that I always have time to do my hair, because a lot of times I don’t.  If there is one problem that I have it is lateness.  I am so bad at being anywhere on time, so usually I get to the gym, late, then get in the shower later, and then get to work late.  So on the days that I don’t have time to style it I tend to put it in a pony tail but so that I don’t look too sloppy I like to twist my bangs up so that it looks like I kind of put some effort in lol.

The best part is that dirty gym hair doesn’t really need hair spray.  Dirty hair styles better and holds styles better so use it to your advantage!  If you have time, try those curls you wanted to try, or pull it back into a sleek ponytail, or even try some of the cool braids that are popular.  Try a fishtail braid!  Here is a tutorial I did for the magazine Ready Made, which is now sadly out of print.

If you have wavy hair and want to bring out some of your waves try a sea salt spray, not only will it freshen up your hair with a nice scent but it will also take down any frizz and help enhance your texture.  I really like Redken’s Nature’s rescue Sea Spray.  I have a Brazilian Blowout so I don’t really have wavy hair anymore, but I still use this because it smells really good and the scent lasts! I also like to use it on my extensions.  I like my extensions to have a messy wave to them so I usually curl them and then brush it out then I spray this salt spray on it to relax the curl a bit more and bring out some of the texture.  The Redken spray is moisturizing, so if you have fine or oily hair this might weigh it down.  If you want to control the amount of salt and moisture make your own salt spray!  Its so easy!!

Just get a spray bottle, fill it with water [distilled or purified is best so that the mineral content is low, the minerals can leave a build up on your hair] Then add about a tablespoon of fine ground sea salt per 8oz of water, you can add more if you want more texture.  Just spraying salt water on your hair can be super drying, even for the oily-est of hair so add a teaspoon of olive oil, coconut oil or even better – argan oil!  Just shake the bottle and you are good to go, but you don’t have to stop there.  You can have fun with essential oils and make your spray whatever scent you like!  Play with the ingredients to find your perfect mix, and store it in the fridge to keep it fresh if you are making a big batch.

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Why I won’t eat artificial sugars

I suppose I should start this post by talking about my background. When I was putting myself through hair school I worked at Whole Foods Market (WFM). One of this things that happens when you work there is you learn about how horrible artificial ingredients are. ( some I guess would say slightly brainwashed, eh)

I always knew about aspartame and saccharin but Splenda was newer to the market when I started at WFM. I am sure I don’t need to tell you about the dangers of aspartame of saccharin but since it is still being put in products, I guess not everyone cares. Aspartame has been linked to neurological disorders like ms, lupus, and fibromyalgia. Saccharin was shown to damage cells and be a carcinogen. What freaks me out the most about saccharin, also known as sweet and low is that it is a common practice among hair stylists to mix a packet or two with permanent hair color if a client is sensitive to it. The fact that there is something in there that can prevent hair color from aggravating a person’s scalp makes me never want to ingest it!

What I wanted to talk about mostly is Sucralose, sold under the brand Splenda. Splenda was discovered in 1976 when a British scientist was trying to make a new pesticide (yum). Many people think that Splenda is natural because all the advertising says that it is made from sugar. While that may be true, it goes through a lot of science to get to what it is today. Now for the ultra science geeks Splenda is produced when three hydroxyl groups are removed from the sugar molecule and replaced with chlorine. That’s right chlorine. Horrible right?

Some “industry experts” say that this new compound is close to table salt and sugar but researchers area saying it is definitely more closely related to pesticides. This is because the bonds holding the chlorine molecules together are more characteristic of chlorocarbon which is what most pesticides are.

Some people say that just because a product has chlorine in it doesn’t mean that it is toxic. While this could be true. And for many people eating Splenda the body does not recognize the substance once it is in the gut (maybe only 15%) which is why it has no calories. But the reality is that when your body tries to remove something that is unrecognizable it attempts to digest it. So
the healthier your body is the more you will most likely absorb of the chlorine. Splenda is too new for us to know the long term effects of it, so do you really want to be a part of this giant experiment? Not I.

Sucralose’s side effects are vast. Splenda’s own studies showed that it caused a shrunken Thymus gland, enlarged livers, and kidney disorders in lab rats. But the FDA agreed to let it slide because these effects were in lab rats not humans, but the largest test group on humans was only 128 people. That is not enough to see these issues.

Splenda is a known migraine trigger, can cause skin rashes, stomach pain, diarrhea, bladder issues, panic like agitation, intestinal issues, muscle aches, intestinal cramping, and it also reduces the flora in the gut.

How does Splenda sound now?

There are a lot of natural sweeteners that have less calories that sugar. Try stevia a sweetener made from the stevia leaf. Or agave nectar is another great sweetener that is low glycemic and low calorie that comes from a succulent plant. Maltitol, sorbitol, or xylitol are sugar alcohols and are also suitable for diabetics and people watching their sugar levels.

With all these alternatives why would you want to consume something made in a lab with a bunch of chemicals? I realize it is harder to find the natural sweeteners in foods that we want, like diet sodas, tea, candy,etc but this is where we can speak with our dollar. Companies only make what sells so if we start gravitating away from the chemicals and more towards the natural products those companies will start incorporating more into their products.

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