GF, Vegan & Raw/ HEALTH/ Healthy Eating/ How-Tos/ RECIPES

Steps To Healthy Living — A Request From My Sister

mother and daughter
{My sister & niece. Oh how I love them!}

My lil’ sis of Beauty Divine Design has been asking me all kinds of questions about how we eat, as they are wanting to eat a more plant strong diet.

Here is a Facebook chat we recently had:

Think I overwhelmed her with my crazy run-on sentences and gazillion suggestions?  Yep, I did.  She then sent a message with some more specific questions she had, and I have decided to tackle all of her questions, little by little, on this blog.  

I know she sent these messages without thinking that I would share them publicly.  I left all our typos, casual language and misspellings to keep things ‘authentic.’ Tee hee.  

Questions for eating plant-based

Okay a ton of questions but you don’t have to get to them all immediately… whenever.

What can you use instead of milk for cooking- does almond and soy milk work the same? Which one tastes the best for adding to cereal? 

You can use almond milk and coconut milk for cooking.  Plain almond milk is what we use.  We use almond milk exclusively, I can’t have soy and I don’t trust soy anyway.  You could also try rice milk or coconut milk.  We like almond milk, especially on cereal. There was an adjustment period, my kids grumbled at first, but when it was the only thing in the house they gave in and ate it, now we are so used to it that none of us can stand the taste of cow milk.  I think the kind that you can get in the cold milk section tastes the best.

What do u use instead of butter, whipping cream, cheese etc. does any of it actually taste good? Lol

I use soy free Earth Balance. It is a super popular butter substitute with vegans. It tastes good. If you use real butter at least make sure it is organic. There are vegan cheeses but I think they are nasty and made up of way too many ingredients…processed.  If we eat cheese, it is organic.  This makes it expensive so we eat very, very little cheese.  Even on tacos or pizza I use about 1/4 of what we used to use, and I pick it off my finished piece completely.  Lots of vegans soak cashews, then put them in a food processor which makes a creamy, cheesy like sauce.  I have done this a couple times and liked it but want to experiment more.   I don’t use whipping cream unless we are making a special occasion dessert and if so we use the real thing because it is so rare.  I buy organic cream cheese for the girls and their whole wheat bagels, but I’ve noticed they only put a super thin layer on.  I think they are losing their taste for this, which keeps happening with animal products. They just have slowly stopped wanting them. It is kinda crazy!

Which oils to avoid? Is olive oil ok?

Some, like Rip E in the below video don’t use oil at all.  Happy Herbivore is another plant based eater that rarely uses oil…her recipes are great. I use small amounts of olive oil for marinades, pestos & homemade salad dressings.  It has a low smoke point so it is ok to cook with as long as the heat is med or lower.  I use coconut oil for high heat cooking/frying/sauteing.  I also use coconut oil for baking.  I believe coconut oil is very good for you…see this post for more on coconut oil. There are two types, one that tastes and smells like coconut and one that doesn’t.    I often use applesauce in place of oil in baking recipes.

Is soy good or bad? I feel like I’ve heard both.

Most of the soy in the US is genetically modified and I don’t trust it.  My Oncologist wants me to stay away from it because my caner was estrogen positive.  They do eat soy in lots of Asian countries where cancer rates are low, but they mostly eat it fermented and as more of a condiment or seasoning, less as a main dish as many vegans in the US do.  There is controversy with soy, but following my Oncologist orders makes it easy for me to just stay away from it.  Plus, most vegan soy foods are highly processed…not whole foods.  I’m not a fan of companies turning soy into something that is supposed to taste and feel like meat.  Blech. So fake.

Are any animal products better than others? Can I sneak some chicken in every once in awhile haha

Sure you can.  It does not have to be all or nothing.  I call myself a “plant eater sometimes cheater” and I eat fish and eggs at times. I was willing to make meat for my family a couple times a week, but they have all lost their taste for meat for the most part.  They can eat it if it is in something, like a casserole (which I don’t make anymore)  but the texture of chicken and red meat is a bit off- putting to them now.  I was surprised this happened.  I now have 3 little bean- eating girls with vegetarian palates! Never thought I would see the day!  It has just slowly happened.  If you do eat meat, stay away from red meat as much as possible, and buy your chicken organic.  It is more expensive but worth it.  

What are your go- to meals each week?  Top 5 regulars maybe? 

~Chili No Meat
~Tacos made with beans–I love the crockpot beans in this post, we’ve also made the homemade tortillas in the same post and they were AMAZING.
~Spaghetti, homemade tomato sauce, no meat.  I use this recipe sometimes, too.
~Soups–we love French Lentil Soup & Vegan Creamy Broccoli soup.
~Breakfast for dinner–whole grain pancakes, organic eggs

I will write a more detailed post about this.

Replacement snacks/desserts that are sweet but not loaded up with ickies? 
I will write a post about this, in the meantime, read this post titled, Healthy Snack Ideas For Kids

New Nostalgia

How do u know if something is processed? Like our whole wheat bread has like 27 ingredients but it is whole wheat and my homemade bread tastes like cardboard.  

Lol!  Cardboard?!  You need to try this recipe…we love it. I just made it tonight to go with our spaghetti dinner and my Teagan said “Mom this bread is the best!” It does get more dry by day 3 or 4, but then it makes the BEST toast.  Here is a post I wrote about store bought bread.  Look for no high fructose corn syrup, 3-4 grams of fiber per serving & make sure it says 100% whole wheat bread.  My rule is try to eat food as close to whole as possible.  This post on my Favorite Food Rules might be helpful, these simple suggestions really helped me in my journey of eating clean.

Meal ideas for kids cuz Little Man only likes PB and J or chicken nuggets right now as a main course. Sometimes pizza or Mac n cheese but won’t even try anything else. He does good with fruits and veggies as a side.

This is hard.  Kids are picky, but eventually he would get hungry enough to eat something new.  Keep trying new things more than once.  If they get used to seeing it around, they are more likely to eat it.  I wish I was more tough with my kids when they were little and didn’t give in so much to what they wanted instead of what they needed. Keep up the fruits and veggies, try making them the main dish.  I will write more about this another time.  Hopefully my readers will chime in on this one!

lime and sparkling water

How to break pop addiction?! I’m seriously an addict!
Ha!  Is it the caffeine or the bubbly sweet that you love?  If it is the bubbly sweet, then mixing juice with sparkling water is a good substitute.  I love this Fresh Lime Soda & also this Lemonade Spritzer. If it is a caffeine thing, cut down slowly and replace with herbal teas.  Even black coffee is better than pop.  Diet has aspartame and regular has HFCS.  Even the “healthy” pops have loads of sugar.  The best way to break this is to know what it is that you are putting in your body, when I learned how sugar affects the body, it made me want it less. Read about lemon water and why it is good for you…drink it every morning for a week and I bet you will be hooked on water…you will start becoming very thirsty and nothing will quench that thirst but water.  

Here is a bit more inspiration for you:
Steps To Healthy Living

And short and great video on eating plant strong:

There ya go my sis! Browse the links, watch the video, and let me know your thoughts.  I love your questions!
Readers, I would love your thoughts and suggestions in the comments.  

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  • upnorth
    December 19, 2012 at 2:04 am

    We need to change a few things in our eating style. We love beans and veggies, so I am hoping to make 2 meatless meals a week this 2013! Please hold me to it, Amy!!! Blessings for the new year!!!

  • Mrs. Katie Rose Jensen
    December 16, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Thank you for this post! My husband and I have committed to each other to make a lifestyle change in 2013 and this is definitely the inspiration and guidance that we both needed!

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