Monday, August 11, 2014

My conversion to healthy eating: A Plant Story

2009 as a missionary

I have always been a lover of food.  Have you ever heard the expression, “eat to live or live to eat?”  I have always been on the “live to eat” side.  Unfortunately, when I was younger, living to eat meant eating extremely unhealthy.   Some people say they eat unhealthy, but I REALLY ate unhealthy.  Let me give you an example.  A common snack (not my lunch or dinner, a mid-afternoon snack) would be two frozen chimichangas, fried a second time in butter, topped with two eggs, fried in the chimichanga grease, and smothered in melted cheese...then dinner came a couple hours later.

…like I said…unhealthy…

            So how did I change from gorging myself on all the fake, processed foods I could get my hands on, to being vegan, living a plant-based lifestyle, and juicing or making green smoothies every day? 
When I was 19, I was serving as an LDS missionary and was suffering from many health issues.  I had chronic headaches, stomach problems, and was gaining weight incredibly quickly.  I was also getting colds almost monthly as well.
Doctors didn’t help much.  Every issue I would present to them would be met with a pill.  Without any alternative education, I would take these pills, thinking; “If I take this magic pill, all my problems will disappear...right?”  Unfortunately, that’s not how it worked.  The pills only made things worse.
Finally, after nearly two years of suffering, one doctor examined me and simply said, “you should cut down a bit on red meat.”  In two years, this was the first time any physician had given me ANY kind of dietary advice.  I decided to cut out all red meat and see what happened.  After only a few days, I could feel a noticeable difference!  I was still very sick, but I had a little bit more energy, and the headaches were slightly less severe.  During this time, I remember thinking to myself,

hmm…perhaps the food I eat affects my health!

             After seeing positive results from cutting out red meat, I determined that perhaps I would have even better results if I cut out all meat!  When people invited us over for dinner, I would eat the meat they served, and would occasionally eat some lean meat on my own, but ultimately, I became vegetarian.  This decision not only again increased my energy, and decreased the intensity of my headaches, but it also made me feel happier and more focused!  It was easier for me to study the scriptures in the morning, and I felt like a fog lifted from my brain (a fog I didn’t even know was there!).
When I finished serving as a missionary, I returned home determined to discover how I can live the healthiest lifestyle.  While searching, my mother introduced me to the book “The China Study,” a book all about a “Whole-foods plant based diet.”  Before I was halfway through it, I adopted the whole-foods plant-based diet for myself.  Over the next six weeks, my headaches and stomach issues went completely away.  I no longer needed any pills and lost 36 pounds!  I remember getting on the scale some mornings and worrying that I was going to wither away to nothing with how fast I was losing weight!

March 2014 on a Cruise with my family

"Just pills and bills...well not anymore!"

Ironically, at the same time, I was taking a nutrition class in college, and after I had lost all 36 pounds, we took a BMI (body mass index) test, and mine was perfect!  I had lost every excess pound I had on my body, and had reached my genetically perfect weight.
It has been over four years since I changed my eating lifestyle.  I don’t get headaches, I don’t have stomach issues, I don’t get colds, and I don’t need pills.  I also haven't gained or lost a pound since I hit the weight I'm at right now.  

Before I began eating this way, I was always someone who “lives to eat.”  I am so happy to be able to say that I have never changed to someone who “eats to live."  I have been, and always will be, a lover of food!  I still “live to eat,” and thanks to my conversion to eating healthy, I am going to live a long time while doing it!

 "Eating Healthy is extremely important, but never forget that the healthiest thing you can do is be kind."
                                                           -Jacob Moench

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Savory Tomato Gnocchi

The recipe we made tonight was a spur of the moment creation that turned into a masterpiece!  With very little food and a great desire to refrain from shopping, Malissa and I desperately looked through our cupboards for something to eat.  After finding a box of potato gnocchi, we devised a plan.  Who would have guessed that ten minutes later, we would have created one of our new favorite dishes!  This meal is delicious, reminding us of pizza in a bowl (except this is healthy).  To top things off, the total cook time is only 6-8 minutes.
Savory Tomato Gnocchi

1 pound (450g) potato gnocchi
1 Green pepper, chopped
4 Tomatoes, Chopped
1/2 Cup Olives, sliced
4 Tablespoons Olive juice (from the can of olives) 
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
4 Tablespoons chopped fresh basil (or 2 Tablespoons dried)

Cook Gnocchi in boiling water 4-5 minutes or until the Gnocchi floats to the top when stirred.  Rinse and set aside.
In a saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add peppers, saute one minute.  Add tomatoes, saute 1-2 minutes more.  Add the gnocchi and all remaining ingredients into saucepan and saute for 1-2 minutes.  Easy enough!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

10 Minute Artichokes and Dip


A Wild Rice Pilaf Makes an Excellent Side for These Artichokes

    Growing up, artichokes in our home were a delicacy.  Because they were so rare, I always assumed that they were either very expensive or very difficult to make.  I was wrong.  Artichokes are very inexpensive (around $1.50-$3.00 each) and easy to make.  The total amount of time you'll take on making the artichokes and the dip is 10 minutes!  They are incredibly healthy and delicious as well.

Artichokes and Dip 

2 Artichokes, stems and tops removed
1/4 Cup vegenaise (can be found in most grocery stores)
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dill weed
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Salt, to taste

    Place artichokes in pressure cooker with water just up to to the bottom of the steam rack.  Seal pressure cooker and cook on high.  Once it starts pressure cooking, turn heat down just a few degrees and cook for 9 minutes.  Take pressure cooker off heat and hold under cold running water until it can be released.

  For the dip:  Mix all ingredients together in a small container, adjust seasoning and mustard to taste.

*Note: to make the artichokes have a rich, smoky flavor, try putting a small amount of liquid smoke and onion powder in the pressure cooker water.

That's it! Super simple!