My Plant Based Diet with ALL my Recipes

A couple years ago we started trying to eat better, mostly for health reasons. I blogged about the journey we took with food mostly as it happened, but those posts are long and scattered, so I’ve summarized the info into a timeline to help anyone considering starting this long process, maybe you can learn from my mistakes :)

2012 – Summer
We were eating completely SAD (Standard American Diet), pizza, burgers, donuts… basically meat/wheat/dairy with every meal. We started researching different ways to eat, realizing that most of the health issues we were dealing with were food related… but terrified to try eating differently we delayed changing for six months…

2013 – Spring
Starting fresh with the new year we tried to go cold turkey for all of two days. By the end of the second day only eating raw fruits and veggies, we RAN to the nearest pizza place and binged till we were full. Next we took it slower, cutting out one food at a time. When we cut out meat, we went through a couple bad weeks before the cravings faded. The same happened with milk. Cheese was next, and it was so hard, three solid days of shaking like a drug addict. What I could not manage to give up was the bread, finally I buckled down and went through my four worst days of withdrawal, including flu-like symptoms, cold sweats, and withdrawal shaking, I even had to call in sick to work one of the days. On the fifth day we allowed ourselves some sandwich bread, but since then have eaten MUCH less wheat. As we discovered with meat, once you stop eating the foods your body can’t process, your body feels better, and does not have any interest in those foods. You just have to break the craving cycle. Even a few months ago I could never imagine a future that I would not need bread as a comfort food. Now I’m looking at trying to create that future, and it’s both scary and exhilarating.

2013 – Summer
We tried a completely wheat free experiment that lasted three weeks. The first couple of weeks I was not interested in losing weight, so I used small amounts of chocolate, and fries, to get through the cravings. The third week we all felt really really good, but could not maintain the no wheat at all. I may try again, or I may just stop trying to force the issue, and let wheat fade away over the course of a year like I did for meat. Only time will tell. What we learned: changing the way you eat is not about deprivation, it’s about change. Saying “I’m not going to eat cheese today” gets you nowhere. All you can think about is cheese. Instead, if all day you are thinking about the wonderful juicy peach you bought for an afternoon snack, and how tasty that will be, you have positive thoughts.

2013 – Autumn
It’s hard to stay hyper focused on something long term. It’s stressful and tiring to stay focused on one life topic, day after day, meal by meal. Sometimes I think we did it the hard way, and other times I know this was how we needed to do it, for our family, to slowly change habits, try out different diets and ways of eating a plant based menu. I feel that with this choice to be simply a whole food plant based vegan, that we are finally on the right track for now, on the path of something healthy that we can maintain long term.

2014 – Summer
I remember feeling so wonderfully healthy when we started eating vegan about a year and half ago, so what has gone wrong? How did we get so unhealthy, and how did we not notice? I imagine what made the biggest difference at the beginning, was merely removing all the processed foods from our diet, and starting to eat vegetables that caused us to feel so well, but slowly we became deficit in the foods we were restricting ourselves from, and the last couple of months we’ve just been feeling awful. So, after reviewing everything I had learned, we decided to stop being vegan. I started looking at how people eat, and why, and success they have with their chosen diet, and as I researched I put all the ‘diets’ into a simple chart. What I discovered was that the people eating ALL these different diets… were ALL healthy! But how could that be? Some don’t eat meat, some eat meat but no dairy, some eat grains, others don’t, and it became very confusing. Finally I started looking at the linking factors, which seem to be vegetables. A LOT of vegetables. Everything else had its place in the food habits of these people, but veggies at every meal seem to be at the core of success for them all. As we’ve been muddling through new recipes, new flavors, new styles of cooking, we have not been totally successful, falling back on our old patterns of eating when all this newness becomes overwhelming. As a family we agree that when we eat plant based we all feel strong, more energetic, and generally happier.
A look at all the plant based diets (most of which we’ve tried), with a comparison chart….
https://growsewhappy.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/diet-comparison-chart/

2015 – Summer
The way I currently eat has worked for me for over a year now. This is the path I think that works best for my health, and is somewhat easy for me to follow. It looks like this…

Unlimited:
Vegetables & Fruits
Rice & Oats
Eggs & Honey

Limited:
Sprouted Wheat Bread (about once a week)
Dairy (about three times a week, usually in the form of probiotic yogurt)
Meat (only chicken that I cook myself, about twice a month)
Beans (about twice a month)

Rules:
-One cheat meal a week
-All diets suspended for vacations and holidays
-I only eat two meals a day, no snacks or desserts

When I eat this way, I feel fantastic, have tons of energy, and lose weight. Does this work perfectly all the time? No. Life happens. When I stray off of this plan all my old issues come back to make me feel ill, and you’ll find me moaning on the couch. After experiencing health I don’t want to feel sick though, so for the most part I WANT to eat this way. The main thing I have learned is to not stress over eating “perfectly”. I still want to enjoy life, a hot chocolate in winter, or cold jello cake in summer is part of life, and I won’t give that up completely, I’ve learned to balance it with eating healthy on the other days of the week to stay physically and mentally well.

I hope reading about my long tour through diet after diet helps you skip strait to what will work for you. I wish you happiness and health for life!

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My Recipes…

I’ve been reading and researching for three solid years, health books, recipe books, blogs, and more. This is my combined learning, condensed into the recipe cards that I use every day in my own kitchen. These are based on my diet plan, and my tastes. Keep in mind they still include some of the unhealthy recipes that I grew up with, because occasionally I still make these recipes for my planned weekly mental-health-cheat-meals.

Click here to download: Basic Cooking Cards

The Soup Card

The Soup Card

Variation of a Cabbage Patch Hat

I had a rush request on etsy over the weekend for a halloween costume hat… I started it this morning on the commute train, and finished it on my lunch break, using an adaptation of my free Cabbage Patch Hat Pattern, here is what I ended up creating…

Crochet Hat, “Abby from NCIS”
Size 2TBlack Hat
Hook: Size H crochet hook
Yarn: Vanna’s Choice Soft, Black
Round 1: ch 3, join to form loop, ch 3, 11 dc
Round 2: 2 dc each dc around. Place a “marker yarn” in a different color to keep track of rounds.
Round 3: *2 dc in next dc, dc in next dc*, repeat from * around.
Round 4: *2 dc in next dc, dc in next 2 dc*, repeat from * around.
Round 5-9: dc in each dc around.
Round 10: hdc in each dc around
Round 11: sc in each stitch around.

Making Pigtails
Cut 32 strands of yarn, 20 inches long. Tie a 10 inch string in the middle of the strands with a double knot.

Attaching Pigtails
Use the top loose string ends to join to the hat between rows 3 and 4, toward the back. Trim the pigtail so that it just reaches the shoulders, but don’t trim too even so it still looks realistic. Repeat for the other side!

Attaching Loose Bangs in the Front
Cut about 46 strands of yarn, 8 inches long. Tie two at a time to the front 16 stiches of row 7, and to every other stitch of row 8, the row underneath to add depth. (Do a loop tie, by holding the yarn in half, then using a crochet hook to pull the loop through, and drawing the two loose ends through the loop.) Trim the bangs very even, just barely above the child’s eyebrows.

Simple Avocado Salads

My New Favorites!!

Romaine Avocado Salad
1 RIPE avocados – peeled, pitted and diced
2 ripe roma tomatoes, chopped
1/2 lime, juiced
3 romaine hearts, chopped into strips
1 green bell pepper, chopped (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
Combine and enjoy!

Guacamole Kale Salad
1 head kale, all stems removed
1 avocado
1 small tomato finely diced (optional)
Juice of 1 lime or lemon
Salt & Pepper
1. In a bowl add avocado and lime or lemon juice, and salt/pepper. Mash together to form guacamole.
2. Place kale in a salad bowl and top with guacamole. Fold guacamole into kale. Massage all ingredients together. Stir in tomatoes.
thediva-dish.com

Pencil Drawing Outline Scrapbook Page

A couple months ago I posted how to turn a photo into a pencil drawing, I did this initially because of a photo I saw where just the outlines of pencil drawing where scrapbooked into a beautiful mess of a page. And I wanted to recreate that. I love how the first page turned out, and as I turned to the second page decided to type the steps out as I went along:

Place the pencil drawing on a solid light colored background paper
Change the blending mode to “Darken”
Use “Eraser Tool” to remove anything extra around the subject
Use the “Dodge Tool” to soften edges if needed
Place a patterned paper over everything
Use “Eraser Tool” set large on a feather brush with “Opacity & Flow both set to 50% to remove the pattern over the face
Use Blending tools to mix papers and elements around the face
Clip papers to the words by putting the paper over the text and press “Alt & Ctrl+G” to create a “Clipping Mask”
Finish scrapbooking with elements

This is different than anything I’ve ever done before, more artistic than archive, and I love it!!


(click on it to see more detail)

Roasted Vegetable Soup

Roasted Vegetable Soup
Follow the recipe, or add any available summer veggies!
2 medium zucchini, sliced in ¼-inch slices
2 summer squash, sliced in ¼-inch slices
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 orange bell pepper, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 cup fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
Coconut Oil Spray
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6 cups water
6 tsp vegetable broth
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with foil, and place chopped vegetables on it. Spray with coconut toil, and sprinkle with spices, toss to coat. Cook vegetables for 20 to 25 minutes until slightly fork tender. Add water to a stockpot, and bring pot to boil, add broth, and return to boil. Remove vegetables from oven and scoop into the pot. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
Adapted from a recipe in: The Wheat Free Diet & Cookbook

Glass Watering Pot

I was looking for watering pots, but most are plastic, the few that are metal are expensive and will probably rust. I was using a canning jar for a while, when I realized that we had an extra glass pitcher! Eureka! It was one we’d picked up at goodwill for three dollars one day, and easy as breathing now it’s my new watering pot!!

Diet Comparison Chart

It all kind of started with eggs. They were one of the last things that I finally took out of our diet so we could be completely vegan… but I’d always intuitively felt that they were healthy, and I missed how good they made me feel. When I had an omelet that my brother made me in Arizona, I really began deliberating over the whole vegan thing. Only lately staying strictly on a high carb vegan diet, my weight refused to budge even an ounce. Even working out really hard, such as in a group class, in a cycling class, on the treadmill, nothing was working. Next I made a strange discovery that whenever I ‘cheated’, and ate an egg, would I lose a bit of weight. And that began to really make me think critically about the way I was eating.

I looked into the reasons why other people had ‘fallen off the vegan wagon’, and discovered that it was because they were lacking vitamins to make their body run correctly. They were experiencing fatigue, digestions issues, hair loss, cavities, loss of appetite, weight gain, unrestful sleep, lowered immune system, depression… I was surprised to realize that my husband and I, combined, had all or most of these problems… and that we didn’t have them before. And in kids, symptoms of vitamin deficiency included unrestful sleep, less vibrant skin, loss of appetite, fatigue, and distended bellies… the girls were showing all of these ills, things I had noticed in them, but had not even considered was due to our ‘perfect vegan diet’.

I remember feeling so wonderfully healthy when we started eating vegan about a year and half ago, so what had gone wrong? How did we get so unhealthy, and how did we not notice? I imagine what made the biggest difference at the beginning, was merely removing all the processed foods from our diet, and starting to eat vegetables that caused us to feel so well, but slowly we became deficit in the foods we were restricting ourselves from, and the last couple of months we’ve just been feeling awful. So, after reviewing everything I had learned, we decided to stop being vegan.

But then… what do we eat? I started looking at how people eat, and why, and success they have with their chosen diet, and as I researched I put all the ‘diets’ into a simple chart. What I discovered was that the people eating ALL these different diets… were ALL healthy! But how could that be? Some don’t eat meat, some eat meat but no dairy, some eat grains, others don’t, and it became very confusing. Finally I started looking at the linking factors, which seem to be vegetables. A LOT of vegetables. Everything else had its place in the food habits of these people, but veggies at every meal seem to be at the core of success for them all. Also, quality of food was a link between the diets. Pasture raised eggs, organic grown produce, raw nuts, whole grain bread. No junk food, or processed food. Whole, natural food, that was the reigning theme throughout all the library books, eBooks, medical sites, diet sites, and blogs that cataloged how this or that diet was the best because BLANK. The link I am sure is the vegetables, and quality of food.

Here is my chart, the green is things that you are allowed to eat on the diet. The light green with “Lim” is for things that are allowed to be eaten in limited quantities. The dark green with “Focus” is the main food group of the diet. There are complexities to each diet, but undressed, down to the basics, these are their do’s and don’ts.

Click on the photo to see it clearly, or download it here: Diet Comparison Chart

Diet Comparison Chart

I had eggs for breakfast this morning, and am full and satisfied. I’m glad that we did the vegan thing for a while, because it stopped our cravings for most processed foods, and we had to learn to cook and enjoy vegetables. So with our new healthier eating habits, we’ve started incorporating meat and dairy back into our diet. And instead of focusing on any specific diet, as a family we agreed to simply eat the best quality food we can.

My Garden Kitties!!

Umbrella Table Cloth

I’ve been meaning to make a table cloth for our new patio table, but I could not think of the color I wanted.

I suddenly realized that I’d picked up a free table cloth at the end of a yard sale last year! It had a few holes, and was not something I wanted to actually use as a tablecloth indoors, but as an outdoor table cloth it would work just fine!

I had to cut it to fit around the pole through the middle of the table, and then used my new snap press to make sure it could go back together! Free tablecloth! Yay!!

Snap Holder

We were so excited by our new snap machine that we bought snaps in all kinds of colors! But then I was presented with the dilemma of how to store them without buying plastic… I considered making little pouches out of scraps, but that seemed time consuming, and then how would I store those? A bigger pouch?? Then I remembered a bunch of tiny bottles that I’d picked up free at the end of a yard sale one time. I almost didn’t take them since they didn’t have lids, but now I’m so glad that I did! I rubber banded them in threes, and tucked them into one corner of my sewing notions drawer! Perfection!!

Snap Hand Press

There have been a few projects that I’ve wanted to put snaps on, the metal sew on kind are cumbersome, so I looked into getting a snap press. The reviews about most of them are quite terrible, until I found this one:
KAM Snap Pliers Hand Press Setter Tool
and it works wonderfully!

Backyard Fire Pit

My hubby has always wanted a fire pit area in the backyard of ANY place we’ve lived, and he finally managed it here. He started by bricking in a small square to set a fire bowl on. While he worked I handed him stuff and took pictures of his progress…

Step by Step
1. Dig Hole the right size for bricks.
2. Put down a layer of gravel, then a layer of sand.
3. Place all the bricks.
4. Pour sand over the bricks to fill in the holes.
5. Place a fire bowl on top of the bricks, chairs around it, and enjoy a s’more!

Yummiest Green Juice

Green Juice
Yield: one quart jar

1 cucumber
4 apples
8 leaves of kale (one bunch)
1 small lemon
1 red pepper

1. Wash
2. Chop
3. Juice
4. Strain
5. Enjoy!

Charging Station

Our electronics and their chargers have been scattered all over the house for a long time, which is uncharacteristic of my usual tidiness. I was looking into buying a charging station, when I realized that a charging station is less a product, and more a state of mind. So I:

1. Located an unused power strip from around the house.
2. Cleared nearly everything off the top of the small shelf next to the computer.
3. Taped the cord in place so it was in the middle of the shelf.
4. Gathered the electronics (rechargeable batteries, the camera battery, the MP3 players, the kindles, and the cell phone), and gathered all of their chargers from around the house.
5. Placed everything around the plug.

DIY Kindle Cover

I love the smell and feel of books, and just would not consider trading those for another screen in my life, however, I have finally broke down and bought a kindle.

It’s hard to hold onto a heavy book when you are standing on the train, and often there are things I want to read that are not audio, but are in ebook form. However, the main reason that I finally agreed to a kindle was to replace my recipe book in the kitchen. I was forever printing new recipes, or making changes to a recipe and reprinting it. So now I store my cookbook files on my kindle and access them without running all the way to the computer or wasting paper by printing them. It’s a system that is working very well!

The one thing I could NOT agree with was wasting money on a cover. So using scraps I had around the house, I made a soft cover.
1. Measured out a scrap of flannel, and a scrap of cotton.
2. Hem the cotton.
3. Pin the cotton inside to the flannel outside with a layer of felt in the middle for padding.
4. Also pin in the straps.
5. Sew a finishing stitch around the edge of everything.
Simple :)

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