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

Focus on Food Essays and Recipes – Part 7

In 2012 I created a series of ‘essays’, which I scrapbooked and included in our family photo album to chart the changes we were making in our life then. For 2013 I did the same thing, but our focus has shifted slightly. We’ve done all we can at the moment to alter our behaviors when it comes to using too much electricity, or chemicals around the house, or simplifying life, so last year our whole focus was on food, and trying different ways of eating until we found one that stuck. So here is Part Seven of the Seven Part series…

It’s great these days, because we get excited about food seasonally, it’s something to look forward to! When summer came, the first peaches were amazing, now that it’s fall, we’re enjoying autumn squash, including butternut squash, pumpkins, zucchini, and acorn squash, food ingredients that we never cooked with before.

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.

“Many times when people hear about the health transformations they jump right into the lifestyle without fully realizing the mental, emotional and lifestyle changes that are required to succeed long-term. Old unhealthful habits have to be replaced by new healthful ones. This is a very slow and painstaking process that requires conscious effort. You’ll still be living in a culture where destructive habits are encouraged and supported. It will seem sometimes like you’re the only one in the world who cares about living healthfully. On top of all that, you’ll have to have enough resolve and commitment to get through stages of healing that may include feelings of weakness, anxiety, lack of energy, and flu-like symptoms. The process of detoxification can be unpleasant at times. Ultimately, the benefits you reap WILL be equal with the effort you sow.”

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Banana Pancakes
1 cup old-fashioned oats (can be gluten-free)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 ripe medium bananas, cut into chunks
3/4 cup vanilla almond milk
1 cup of chocolate chips, vegan chips, or carob chips
1. In a blender, add chunks of banana and almond milk. Puree for 30 seconds or until thoroughly blended and smooth. Next add oats, baking powder, and salt into the blender; blend again until batter is well-combined about 1 minute. Set aside to thicken up. After a few minutes check the consistency of the pancake batter it should be somewhat thick. If they appear to too thick, add a tablespoon or two of almond milk and blend again.
2. Lightly coat a large nonstick skillet or griddle with vegan cooking spray or vegan butter and heat over medium heat. Drop batter by 1/4 cup onto skillet and gently spread out a bit with a spoon. Place 5-6 chocolate chips on top of each pancake and cook until bubbles appear on top, about 2 minutes. Gently flip cakes and cook until golden brown on underside, 2 minutes. Wipe skillet clean and repeat with more oil or cooking spray. Top with peanut butter, maple syrup, fruit or whole fruit jam.

Mexican Pumpkin Soup
Serves 4
1 TBSP garlic, minced
1 TBSP chili powder
4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
1 (15 oz) can pure pumpkin (NOT canned pumpkin pie!)
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and well-rinsed
5 medium red potatoes, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tablespoon oregano
pinch of cayenne or other red pepper
1/3 cup unsweetened soy milk or other non-dairy milk
salt, to taste
¾ cup low-sodium salsa
2 avocado, diced (optional)

Put all ingredients (except avocado) in a soup pot, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
Top with diced avocado.

Focus on Food Essays and Recipes – Part 6

In 2012 I created a series of ‘essays’, which I scrapbooked and included in our family photo album to chart the changes we were making in our life then. For 2013 I did the same thing, but our focus has shifted slightly. We’ve done all we can at the moment to alter our behaviors when it comes to using too much electricity, or chemicals around the house, or simplifying life, so last year our whole focus was on food, and trying different ways of eating until we found one that stuck. So here is Part Six of the Seven Part series…

At the start of the year we tried to eat less meat & cheese, progressing to “vegan’ with the salads and icky tofu that implies. Next we tried going raw, when that didn’t work we tried the raw til four plan. Even that was too difficult for us to maintain, so we tried gluten free vegan for three weeks, but since that was also a no go, we’ve backed up a bit. People are having great results with just a basic whole food plant based vegan diet. Low fat, by only using small amounts of oil, and with a little bit of whole wheat, a bit of fruit for sweetness. It’s the type of menu used in the movie Forks Over Knives, and the book Food Over Medicine. This way of eating provides more variety of food than the other diets we were trying this year, and combined with some exercise is helping to heal and cure people. We’ve eaten this way for most of September, and for the first time all year we’ve been excited to cook healthy meals. Excited to eat what we cook, knowing that it will taste fabulous!

We have also lately been cutting way back on bread/wheat products. “The processing of many breads has led to it becoming addictive to many who find themselves craving the carbs inherent in wheat along with the salt and sugar additives. For many people, wheat is addictive, it meets all the criteria for an addictive product: People crave it, consuming it creates a desire for more, lacking it triggers a withdrawal phenomenon. If you try to quit smoking, you’ve got “crutches” like nicotine patches and gum. If you try and quit wheat, what have you got? Nothing, to my knowledge. Nothing but sheer will power to divorce yourself from this enormously destructive, diabetes-causing, inflammation-provoking, and addictive substance. Though food addiction can be a powerful and debilitating illness, like alcohol and drug addiction, grain addiction can be overcome.”

Burrito Bowl
-2-3 cups cooked rice
-1 can refried beans (no lard), warmed and thinned with a splash water
-1 15 oz. can black beans, drained, rinsed and warmed
-Corn, canned or frozen or fresh, warmed
-1 avocado, smashed up with a little lemon juice and salt added to it
-1 cup or so of Salsa Verde
Layer the above ingredients into some bowls, and enjoy!

Baja Bean Chip Salad
Serves 4
1 15 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
1 15 oz. can black beans
1 15 oz. can corn
1 green pepper, seeded and diced
2 small avocados, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
Salsa or Salsa Verde
Corn tortilla chips

Combine the diced tomatoes, black beans and corn in a colander in the sink and rinse well. Shake well to “dry.” Set out all food on the table, then layer the ingredients anyway you like over a plate of tortilla chips!

Focus on Food Essays and Recipes – Part 5

In 2012 I created a series of ‘essays’, which I scrapbooked and included in our family photo album to chart the changes we were making in our life then. For 2013 I did the same thing, but our focus has shifted slightly. We’ve done all we can at the moment to alter our behaviors when it comes to using too much electricity, or chemicals around the house, or simplifying life, so last year our whole focus was on food, and trying different ways of eating until we found one that stuck. So here is Part Five of the Seven Part series…

We watched Forks Over Knives in the summer of 2012 along with all the other eye opening movies about plastics, chemicals, electric cars, farming practices, and how modern food is killing us. This was actually the first one we saw regarding going vegan and eating a plant based diet. Knowing that a burger and chocolate cake is “unhealthy” in theory, is different than seeing what a plant based diet can do, even reversing heart disease and diabetes. It was shocking at the time, we absorbed what we were able to, decided to attempt to eat less meat, and then continued watching more documentaries. Our resolve to eat less meat continued, and now that we have achieved a 99% meat free life, with very little dairy, we decided to watch it again. As we watched the movie again, now with a different mindset, we could enjoy better how much sense the movie makes. We also noticed that the “healthy food” they were eating looked so much better than the last time we watched it. Dishes and platters of food that before looked alien and worrying, now were making us hungry! It firmed our resolve to finish out the year focused on food, and solidifying the eating habits that are finally really coming together for us!

Blackberry Smothered Peaches
Ingredients:
8 oz. peaches
8 oz. blackberries
Directions:
Slice peaches into a bowl.
Blend blackberries into a sauce and pour onto the slices.

Chocolate Oatmeal
Serves 4

2 cups gluten free rolled oats
2 cups almond milk
2 tsp. vanilla
2 banana, sliced thinly
2 TBSP. chocolate or carob powder
3 apple, chopped into very small squares

In a saucepan combine 2 cups of oats, 2 cups of almond milk, and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, cook for about eight minutes, stirring frequently. Add vanilla, bananas, and powder. Stir well. Cook for several more minutes, or until desired consistency, do not overcook. Top with bits of apple.

Focus on Food Essays and Recipes – Part 4

In 2012 I created a series of ‘essays’, which I scrapbooked and included in our family photo album to chart the changes we were making in our life then. For 2013 I did the same thing, but our focus has shifted slightly. We’ve done all we can at the moment to alter our behaviors when it comes to using too much electricity, or chemicals around the house, or simplifying life, so last year our whole focus was on food, and trying different ways of eating until we found one that stuck. So here is Part Four of the Seven Part series…

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. So we decided to recommit over the summer, especially with all the fresh seasonal food choices available. We also discovered something called Raw Till 4, meaning 4pm, it’s a way to get much of the benefits of eating a raw lifestyle, but still have a hot comforting familiar vegan dinner. It’s something that I’ve maintained for three weeks this month, and hope to continue through the summer. “Why go raw? Heat changes the molecular structure of foods, rendering nutrients mostly unusable. Cooked and otherwise denatured or processed food is less digestible than raw food…Biologically-appropriate raw food provides all the nutrients that the body requires, as it does for all the other species of animals on the planet.”

These are the lyrics of my current favorite power song to get me through the cravings:
Something has changed within me, Something is not the same, I’m through with playing by the rules
Of someone else’s game, Too late for second-guessing, Too late to go back to sleep, It’s time to trust my instincts
Close my eyes: and leap! It’s time to try Defying Gravity, I’m through accepting limits, ’cause someone says they’re so
Some things I cannot change, But till I try, I’ll never know!, Defying Gravity from the musical Wicked

Focus on Food Essays and Recipes – Part 3

In 2012 I created a series of ‘essays’, which I scrapbooked and included in our family photo album to chart the changes we were making in our life then. For 2013 I did the same thing, but our focus has shifted slightly. We’ve done all we can at the moment to alter our behaviors when it comes to using too much electricity, or chemicals around the house, or simplifying life, so last year our whole focus was on food, and trying different ways of eating until we found one that stuck. So here is Part Three of the Seven Part series…

Changing the way you eat is not about cutting foods out of your diet. That’s the part most people get hung up on. It’s 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. What we learned this month is to focus on what we are able to enjoy. It can’t be looked at as “I’m going vegan, I can’t eat any ‘real’ food!”, or your list of eating choices will be very limited. It must be “I’m going vegan, I can eat these foods!” Then make a list of healthy sweet and satisfying vegan alternatives such as Pina Colada Juice, Bell Pepper Romaine Salad, Apples & Peanut Butter, Pistachios & Cashews, Cucumber Carrot Salad, and Fresh Oranges. Looking over even this short list, is it any wonder that simply eating healthier food can cure illness? I had the first salad of my life this year, and it was not so bad as I’d imagined!

These are our two favorite recipes from this month:
Pear Juice
2 Pears
2 Green Apples
1/4 Lemon (optional)
Juice.

Mono Meal of Pears
dipped in real peanut butter and raw honey

Focus on Food Essays and Recipes – Part 2

In 2012 I created a series of ‘essays’, which I scrapbooked and included in our family photo album to chart the changes we were making in our life then. For 2013 I did the same thing, but our focus has shifted slightly. We’ve done all we can at the moment to alter our behaviors when it comes to using too much electricity, or chemicals around the house, or simplifying life, so last year our whole focus was on food, and trying different ways of eating until we found one that stuck. So here is Part Two of the Seven Part series…

When we cut out meat, we went through a couple bad weeks before the cravings faded. The same happened with milk. Recently cheese was next, and it was so hard, three solid days of shaking like 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, but broke down on the fifth day. Jared lasted about the same. Obesity has long been blamed on weak willpower, overeating, genetics and lack of exercise. Now scientists increasingly are seeing signs that suggest there may be an additional contributor: food addiction. Research has confirmed what has been long suspected: food makes us feel good. Food triggers the body to release neurological chemicals similar to pharmaceutical drugs like Valium. When we are driven by addictive food cravings, just like with drugs or caffeine, we are more likely to overindulge. It’s difficult to say just eat less bread, it would be similar to asking a cocaine addict to scale back their use. The addictions interactions with your brain chemicals would not allow this, which is why drug rehabilitation usually operates on a cold turkey basis. 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. 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.

These are our two favorite recipes from this month:
Morning Sun Juice
4 oranges
1 apple
1 pear
1/2 pineapple, chopped
2 TBLS honey
Juice ingredients, whip in the honey

Cucumber Carrot Salad
1 head romaine lettuce, chopped
1 cucumber, diced
1 large tomato, diced
2 carrots
1 red bell pepper, diced (optional)
Place all salad fixings together in large salad bowl. Serves 1-2.

Focus on Food Essays and Recipes – Part 1

In 2012 I created a series of ‘essays’, which I scrapbooked and included in our family photo album to chart the changes we were making in our life then. For 2013 I did the same thing, but our focus has shifted slightly. We’ve done all we can at the moment to alter our behaviors when it comes to using too much electricity, or chemicals around the house, or simplifying life, so last year our whole focus was on food, and trying different ways of eating until we found one that stuck. So here is Part One of the Seven Part series…

Since last august we’ve mostly been successful with our vegetarian goal, and decided to take the next step for our health – going vegan. I got about twenty books from the library with vegan recipes, and as I researched vegan diet and recipes I discovered there was an even healthier way to live. Only eating raw food. Some consider raw honey, or raw fish part of this regime, others do it along with vegan, meaning no animal products. We thought that maybe we’d try that ‘raw thing’ later. However! After a week of trying to cook vegan, with tofu and fake soy cheese, the food was repulsive, and I was still feeling my food related sickness, and we decided to really research that top rung of health, vegan raw. I returned all my vegan recipe books and checked out twice as many on living a raw lifestyle, and what we discovered was nothing short of miraculous! Regular people who had stumbled onto this info of a plant based raw way of eating were curing themselves of everything from allergies to diabetes! Even shrinking tumors, and stabilizing cancer! This way of eating was healing their bodies instead of treating it with medication. We wanted to try this, and burrowed into our forty or so raw books to gather as much info and recipes and tips as possible. With my dairy and gluten intolerances, and Jared’s migraines and kidney stones, we want to shift our eating habits to live without constant illness.

These are our two favorite recipes from this month:

Zucchini Pasta with Avocado Sauce
Noodles:
4-6 Large Zucchini, spiralized into thin noodles
Sauce:
1 Ripe Avocado, pitted and halved
1/2 medium zucchini, coarsely chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
2-3 sprigs fresh tarragon, removed from stems, save some for garnish
1 lemon, juiced
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup water, as needed
1. Spiral the zucchini into thin noodles
2. Toss all sauce ingredients into a high-speed blender, adding up to 1/4 cup water as necessary to facilitate blending. Blend until smooth and creamy!
3. Add sauce to noodles, toss to coat evenly, and enjoy!

Strawberry & Banana Smoothie
1 Banana
1 cup frozen strawberries
Handful of frozen blackberries
Drizzle of honey
Small splash of vanilla
Sprinkle of Chia Seeds
Blend until smooth! Yummy!

Greener Essays – Part 3 – Food and GMO’s

When we first started learning more about the world, for example what is wrong with the food or how dangerous plastic is, my mind was whirling. I decided to type out everything in my own words, which became these ‘essays’, which I scrapbooked and included in our family photo album to chart the changes we were making in our life.
Since I’m on vacation this week with my in-laws, I thought it would be a good time to post all my essays from last year, showing what we learned, and how we’ve shaped our lives around this information to be the people we are this year.
So here is Part Three of the Six Part series…

Chemical Food, July 2012
Cans are made from metal right? Not anymore, most cans now have a plastic lining, all that plastic is slowly seeping into our food! But wait! Plastic companies’ say that doesn’t happen, and the FDA keeps us safe. Wrong. The only studies that the FDA looks at are from the manufacturer. There are a 1,000 or more independent studies from respected scientists who show that that plastic does make its chemical way into our food through its packaging. Drat! Not only that, but chemicals are being injected in the seeds of the plants, being sprayed on the plants, and then packaged in the chemicals. It doesn’t stop there, chemically grown corn is now fed to the livestock, even fish, and is absorbed into their tissue. Simply unbearably frustrating. The ONLY thing to do is buy organic. Sadly, I estimate that it would be over a $1,000 a month for our family of four to eat organic – and our food budget is only $400 at the most. Sigh, while I’d like to ONLY shop at the farmer’s market, it’s off to the chain store we go. However, our focus is now changed. All the food that is healthy for you is typically along the walls of the store, and all the processed food is in the middle. We attempted to shop with this model in mind, we ran out and bought a fridge full of healthy food, then had no idea how to cook with it. It’s a continuing struggle to learn healthy recipes, and cook from scratch, but while we can’t eat completely organic, we can incorporate more fruits & veggies in our diet, and with the research we’ve done on nutrition we have decided to attempt a vegetarian diet. The problem of organic would be solved if we could seasonally grow our food, so we signed up for a community garden, and started some tomatoes, peas, peppers, carrots, and greens, it’s not a lot, but it’s a start! In the meantime we are focusing on better ways to prepare and eat healthier food. We cleared mail, art projects, trash, leaves(?!) and crumbs off the table, then proceeded to keep it cleared off for all meals. We noticed it was hard to get four bowls of leftovers into and out of the microwave, once the fourth bowl is done the first bowl is cold – it was okay when we watched a movie, and just ate the food as it was warmed up, but this process was not working well for sitting at the table and eating together. So we started warming food up on stove, and we were amazed at the difference in taste! Why had we been using a microwave all these years?

DNA Altering Food, July 2012
Genetically Modified Foods, or GMOs, sound like something out of a sci-fi movie, but really we have been eating them since the 1980’s, around 1995 they suddenly appeared in 2/3rds of all US processed foods. To genetically change a seed, they take the DNA from other plants and animals, and inject it into the seed, organisms that cross unnatural gene lines, such as tomato seed genes crossed with fish genes. The idea is to make these plants resistant to bugs and pesticides, but it is polluting the world’s food supply while it kills the good bugs with the bad, like bees and butterflies. Could it be killing us too? Yes. Health concerns for these new seeds are legion, the worst being cancer, allergies, and antibiotic resistance, all of which are on the rise over the last two decades. Many studies are accessible, and scientists who are not on the payroll of the seed maker, Monsanto, are worried about the long-term health effects. “[GMOs] can replicate themselves out of control in the wild. This can happen, without warning, inside of our bodies creating an unpredictable chain reaction. The impact can be passed on to future generations.” Some GMO crops include soy, corn, rice & canola-think how many foods contain corn syrup, or canola oil. Experts say 60% to 70% of processed foods in the US have genetically modified ingredients. Most corn and soy are now GMO grown, and the USDA maintains the rule that they do not have to be labeled. In Europe all GMO foods have required labeling, and in England GMO food is not even allowed to be grown! They don’t want their seeds contaminated. The tainted seeds fly on the wind up to seven miles away, contaminating regular seeds across the county, and if that was not bad enough, the maker of these evil mutant seeds is suing any farm that their seeds land on, as if the farmers can control the wind. And in every case that goes to court, Monsanto wins – this is truly a sad world that we live in. Even the cows, chickens, and fish are being fed GMO corn, so we are eating it from every source. The obviously best way to eat, is to grow all of your own food, but even that has its hazards with Monsanto looming over every patch of soil. The absolutely most terrifying part? The GMO seeds are ‘programed to be sterile’ and the worry is that the sterile seed effect will spread through natural pollination, and result in the sterilization of all natural plants. Effectively killing off our entire food supply in the future……it’s too unreal, makes me want to cry.

The Scrapbook Pages:

Greener Essays – Part 1 – The Beginning

When we first started learning more about the world, for example what is wrong with the food or how dangerous plastic is, my mind was whirling. I decided to type out everything in my own words, which became these ‘essays’, which I scrapbooked and included in our family photo album to chart the changes we were making in our life.
Since I’m on vacation this week with my in-laws, I thought it would be a good time to post all my essays from last year, showing what we learned, and how we’ve shaped our lives around this information to be the people we are this year.
 
So here is Part One of the Six Part series…

The Beginning, June 2012
For years a few knowledgeable people tried desperately to spread the word about what is going on in our nation, they have been derisively called all sorts of names from Tree Huggers and Liberals, to Lunatics and Alarmists… …I’ve always been more concerned about nature than most people around me, and when we moved to Oregon I found out there are other people like me! I signed up for renewable energy with the electric company, put bumper stickers on my car, and called it good. Little did I know, that I was aware of less than a tenth of what was actually happening to pollute the earth!! It all started when I watched “Bag It”, a documentary on plastic bags. Looking back, I don’t know why I’d requested the movie from the library, it almost seems like fate now, because this movie has changed the course of our life. I began to watch it alone while embroidering, and then I realized that Jared needed to see this too, I gathered everyone in the front room, and re-started it from the beginning. Jared and I were shocked, Meg was visibly upset, and practically cried at the plight of the ocean animals, we’d all had no idea what plastic was doing to our ecosystem all over the world! We were severely shaken and upset, and it prompted more research, book after book, movie after movie, we soaked in what we should already have known, what everyone should know if they were not so preoccupied, the bubble we’d been living in burst, and we stepped out with clear eyes to see the world around us. Now we saw the trash washed up in the seaweed, now we saw the animal feedlots, now we saw everything – we’d seen it before with our eyes, but not with our mind. Our poor minds – reeling with all this new found knowledge that we could not go back to ignoring. Not that we wanted to ignore it, but what to do? We didn’t have an army of reusable bags to take to the store, we still needed to eat food, plastic pervaded our house like a disease, and like all Americans we’d been so carelessly comfortable living a consumer’s lifestyle, and we didn’t know how to change. So, we did yet MORE research, now not on the problems of the world, but what others were doing to fix them, starting in the home. We listed all the things we needed to change in our home and life, ordered them by importance, and each month tackled a new project. And of course, we started with plastic.

Plastic:
Bag It 2010
Plastic Planet 2009
Plastic-free : how I kicked the plastic habit
-by Beth Terry
Water:
Tapped (Director Stephanie Soechtig) 2009
Blue Gold: World Water Wars 2009
Flow: For Love of Water 2008
Oil vs Sustainable:
Who Killed the Electric Car? 2006
Revenge of the Electric Car 2011
Sustainable Living and Food:
Hungry For Change 2012
Forks over Knives 2011
Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead 2010
What Are the Bees Telling Us? 2010
Dirt! The Movie 2009
Food Fight 2009
Food, Inc. 2008
Food Matters 2008
Fresh (Director Ana Sofia Joanes) 2009
No Impact Man: The Documentary 2009
Fed Up! (Director Angelo Sacerdote) 2002
50 secrets of the world’s longest living people
-by Sally Beare
How organic farming can heal our planet
-by Maria Rodale
Made from scratch
-by Jenna Woginrich
Making it : radical home Ec for a post-consumer world
-by Kelly Coyne
How to sew a button : and other nifty things your grandmother knew
-by Erin Bried
Animal, vegetable, miracle : a year of food life
-by Barbara Kingsolver
Greenhorns : the next generation of American farmers
-by DeDe Lahman

The Scrapbook Pages:

No Bees. No Food.

Please join the cause here: Save the Bees!
With what we are doing to the environment I was almost surprised to see a half dozen bees on my blackberry bushes! Gives me hope, that maybe it’s not too late to save them.

One of them sat still long enough for me to snap this portrait of her…

My backyard visitor

A Great Flavor

When you think of awesome foods that complement each other, keep in mind that fruits often go well with each other! Some of my very favorite pairings, as whole fruit or in a blender, are:
Strawberry and Peach
Orange and Pineapple
Blueberry and Banana
AND…
Cantaloupe and Strawberry! YUM!

Cantaloupe and Strawberry!

Food as Drugs

I feel sick today, I knew that I would because of what I ate yesterday. If you are allergic to peanuts, you just don’t eat them, however if you are allergic to dairy and grain, it’s much more complicated than simply avoiding them. I always thought I was just weak willed, and while that still may be true, scientists are now increasingly seeing signs that suggest there may be an additional contributor: food addiction. Some foods trigger the body to release neurological chemicals similar to pharmaceutical drugs like Valium.

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve begun to slip back into my old habits, one donut for breakfast can’t hurt, a cheese pizza over the weekend is a fun treat, but as my body gets more of the addictive foods… it wants more, suddenly I’m craving waffles, and fried chicken, nachos, fettuccine alfredo‎, mac&cheese, and the list goes on… these are things I was not even thinking about during the weeks that I’ve been able to maintain eating raw, or at least vegan, but as soon as I slip, it’s an invitation for cravings, and my detox symptoms start over, it’s a viscous cycle.

So what I’m trying to learn, and hope also helps you, is to look at food choices through the light of addiction, some days are better than others, and when I cave in to a grilled cheese sandwich, I try not to beat myself up about it, I’ll try to do better tomorrow…
like Dory says “Just keep swimming! Just keep swimming!

Dory!