Posts

3 Ingredient Substitutions for Converting Conventional #Recipes into #Vegan Masterpieces!

Vegan Baking

Hey, y’all! I don’t know about you, but homemade STUFF is in full-swing around here. I’m hosting my annual cookie exchange next week, and it has me pouring over recipe books, looking for incredible-looking cookies that I can transform into vegan holiday treats.

(Spoiler alert: I found them!)

There are always three ingredients I am more than ready to substitute when looking at conventional recipes: eggs, butter, and milk. To greatly lower saturated fat, keep my IBS in check, and try and stay as plant-based as possible, these three gotta go. Wanna know how?

Flax seeds for vegan baking

  • Eggs. Eggs can be replaced by ½ cup of anything gloppy (think fruit puree, like applesauce, pumpkin, or avocado), but so can butter, and you don’t really want to substitute both ingredients for the same thing, because your recipe will end up flat and dense. Also, eggs are used in recipes as binding agents, so you need to find something else that will hold everything together the way eggs do. So with eggs, I use flax seeds and water. One egg can be replaced by 1 tablespoon of ground flax seeds, mixed with 3 tablespoons of warm water. Let this mixture sit in the fridge for about 15 minutes, until it’s kind of congealed. Mmmm…congealed…(Just kidding. That word’s gross.) You can also use ground chia seeds instead of flax.

Coconut Oil.

  • Like I stated above, butter can be swapped directly for anything wet and gloppy. Pumpkin puree, applesauce, coconut oil (melted), and avocado are my faves. If the recipe calls for a ½ cup of butter, then use a ½ cup of one of the above, instead.

Almond milk instead of dairy

  • This one’s easy: swap milk for organic, unsweetened soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, or hemp milk. Keep in mind that the latter three are thinner than 2% milk. If you need thick, use soy or canned coconut milk. If you can get away with thin (like skim), then use one of the other three.

And there you have it! Easy ingredient substitutions that will help your recipes become vegan beacons of deliciousness. (Too much?) If anyone has any suggestions, let me know! If I forgot something, call me out, ok?

Happy baking! xo

5 Common Triggers of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

IBS

Happy Saturday, everyone! Today’s post was inspired by a series of realizations I’ve had oven the course of the last year or so. For those of you who don’t know this about me, I used to struggle with awful IBS symptoms that impeded my life every single day. This gut-wrenching story (see what I did there?!) has a happy ending, though. I managed to figure out the sources of my discomfort, and reap the rewards that come with a calm, happy, healthy gut.

BUT…everyone who has ever suffered from a chronic health issue, knows that from time to time, there are circumstances that cause these types of conditions to rear their ugly heads.

Here are, in my opinion, the top five offenders that just LOVE to make my bowel (and perhaps yours) irritable:

Yoga for stress

  • Stress. This is seriously the number one cause of any IBS flare-up I experience, nowadays. I can eat as clean and regularly as I want, and exercise, and sleep well, but your brain doesn’t care. If you’re stressed, IBS becomes more imminent. Some ways to relieve stress, include meditation, yoga, conscious breathing, and exercise.

Dairy

  • Dairy. This “does a body good” mammal secretion (I write with pure loathing) does not do anybody good. It sucks. It’s for calves, not for adult humans. Dairy acidifies our bodies and clogs up our bowels. It sparks spontaneous allergies, and is loaded with fat and sugar. If you have IBS, please refrain.

pink slime

  • Meat and processed food. Both of these foodstuffs are so chalk full of crap that our bodies silently scream in protest, but we don’t pay attention. Unless you have IBS, and then you’re pretty much forced to. In addition to this, meat is also full of saturated fat, and acidifies our bodies like dairy. (That’s “pink slime” above, if you were wondering. You should totally Google it.)

Working Out

  • Stagnancy. That is, not exercising. Everyone needs to move their bodies every day in order for vital bodily processes to occur. (Circulation, digestion, proper respiration, muscle building, calorie burning, etc.) When you don’t move, it throws your entire body out of whack, and when you have IBS, your digestive system is beyond touchy. It’s one sensitive son of a bitch, and I can assure you, it’s in your best interest to keep it happy.

Lack of sleep

  • Lack of sleep. This might be related to stress, but lack of sleep is my worst nightmare. (Irony—and pun—intended.) In order to sleep very, very well, I would definitely advise you to take everything I’ve written above to heart. You sleep better when your stress level is down, you’re eating good, clean, whole food, and exercising your body on a regular basis.

Here’s a summary:

Stress, animal products, processed food, lack of exercise, and inadequate sleep are all BAD for IBS.

Reduced stress, whole food, lots of vegetables and water, daily exercise, and great sleep are all GOOD for IBS. 

Happy Healthy Gut

It’s all about the routine, and the lifestyle you choose to implement for yourself, but I can assure you, IBS can be tamed. For a full 272 pages on EXACTLY how this is possible, check out Happy Healthy Gut. For a recipe book full of delicious, tummy-taming concoctions, check out Vegetarian Comfort Foods.

Vegetarian Comfort Foods

Have a great rest of your weekend! xo

What to Eat if You Have IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)

Happy Healthy Gut

Hello, all! People are always asking me what they can eat that won’t make them bloated, in pain, or generally bring on an irritable bowel flare-up. Sooo…I thought I’d post my answers, and then they will live on eternally, somewhere within my blog.

(Ha!)

Here you go…

EAT YOUR VEGGIES!

Nobody ever said to you, “don’t eat your vegetables!” Most of what we eat throughout the day, every day, should be vegetables. They are completely necessary for proper digestive function, and yet most of us don’t consume nearly the amount we should. Not only should we be focusing on increasing our overall intake, but we should also be experimenting with variety, and become aware of what is in season. Our bodies naturally process food that is whole and in season much better than foods that are processed and from thousands of miles away. (For example, living in the pacific northwest, my body wouldn’t process a pineapple in January the same way it would kale.)

Beet Juice

LIMIT ANIMAL PRODUCTS

Let’s get real: animal products are not that great for your body. Despite the fact that various meat and dairy industry representatives swear up and down that animal products are a necessity for your health, we all know that can’t be true. Animal meat is very high in saturated fat, which isn’t at all good for us; especially ground beef. Unless purchased from an organic, grass-fed only farm, almost all meat (99% of what is out there), comes from factory farms, and it’s not healthy. The thing is, factory farms are a cesspool of nutrient-deficent meat due to too many growth hormones in the feed, routine antibiotics, and largely diseased animals due to the inevitable overcrowding that occurs. It is also the number one contributor of crazy environmental pollutants.

Dairy is bad, too. Cow milk is meant for calves, not humans. We don’t feed cows human milk, right? Dairy causes allergies and intolerances, which can contribute to ear infections, sinus problems, constipation, and other digestive issues.

STOP EATING PROCESSED FOOD

We are living in a new age of food. Or “food.” The nation’s rates of chronic disease, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, digestive disease, etc, are skyrocketing at a pace never seen before. This is largely due to two things: increased consumption of animal meat, and increased production/consumption of highly processed food. In developing countries, where processed food is nil, these diseases are not present. It’s yucky, and needs to go. This type of food is “dead” because there is nothing nutritionally valuable left for it to offer. A good rule of thumb is to take a look at the list of ingredients, and rule out anything that contains un-pronouncables, and over 6-8 ingredients in total.

STEER CLEAR FROM GMOS!

Genetically modified food is lab-created, nutrient-void, and poses considerable risk to your health. It is currently under investigation to prove its role in increased cancer, gastrointestinal disorders, autism, and among other things, decreased immune system function. Download the iPhone app ShopNoGMO to learn which food companies are GMO-free, and which ones aren’t. You can also visit www.gmoshoppingguide.com.

Beans

EAT WHOLE FOODS!

Whole foods are exactly what they sound like. They’re still in their whole form, and haven’t been processed. These foods are nutritionally dense, and our bodies thrive on them. They’re super simple for our digestive systems to process, which lends more energy (that would have been diverted to heavy, unclean digestions attempts) to other parts of your body. Foods in this category are whole fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, whole grains, (preferably sprouted!), dried fruit, etc, If your digestive system is giving you trouble, try eating this way: completely eliminate dead food, and switch to a diet rich in whole foods.

NEW FOODS TO INTRODUCE:

Once you eliminate the yucky foods, you can introduce an awesome assortment of foods that heal. These include such wonder items as digestive enzymes, probiotics, whole grains, sprouted grains, sprouts, wheatgrass, fresh veggie juices, sea vegetables, fermented goodies, tofu, tempeh and seitan, organic lovelies, and more! Food is our best ally against digestive unease and good health: we need to use it properly!

The right food nourishes your body, mind, and soul.

Those who know me, know that I am VERY into healthy eating and consuming food that I believe lends to more usable energy. I don’t want to feel good- I want to feel AMAZING! Ask me how, or visit www.facebook.com/happyhealthylife.org. Think Food Forward!

 

Why You Should Be Cooking with Beans

*Disclaimer: I will use the word “farty” in this blog post. I apologize ahead of time.

Beans

Beans, beans, the musical fruit, the more you eat, the more you toot. Right? NOOO! It doesn’t have to be that way. Don’t let beans have their way with you. You’re the boss, and they need to be put in their place.

Boss those beans around!

Why bother, you ask? Because beans are tiny gems of awesomeness that are high in fibre, protein, and a variety of other goodies. They’re a main staple in countries like Mexico–and others in South America–because they’re inexpensive, readily available, and super high in nutrients. They’re superstars, really.

Unfortunately, they get a bum rap. (Get it?) Beans can make some people feel bloated and gassy, so a lot of us choose to just ignore their amazingness altogether to avoid a potentially embarrassing situation in yoga class. Also, those suffering from digestive issues like IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) or Crohn’s disease may find that beans make their gut situations worse. But it doesn’t have to be that way!

There is actually a correct way to both prepare and cook beans. Beans have indigestible carbohydrates that need to be broken down by soaking. If you’re using beans from a can, then the trick is to rinse them very well, until all the bubbles are gone. Those bubbles are gas, and they make you farty. (See? Told you I’d use it.) No one wants to be farty. If you plan on cooking them after you rinse them, then your best bet is to add a bay leaf to whatever you’re cooking, whether it’s soup, stew, chili, or whatever. Bay absorbs the acid in the beans that add to the gas. Just don’t eat the leaf.

(Although I must admit that the thought of this makes me smile.)

If you’re cooking dried beans, then rinse them very well first, and soak them in a lot of water overnight. (The general rule is one cup of beans to three cups of water.) In the morning, strain them and rinse really well again. When you go to cook them, cook with a bay leaf for the reason explained above, but also skim off the bubbles that will form off the top after about an hour. Remember, those are farty bubbles. Also, make sure you cook the beans very well. Don’t leave them half-cooked.

So, in conclusion of Cooking with Beans 101 (because now you’ve now graduated Bean University), you rinse, you skim bubbles, and you cook with a bay leaf. Other gas-reducing spices include ginger, fennel, and cumin, so you could cook with those, too.

What to Eat for IBS (irritable bowel syndrome)

Happy Healthy Gut

“The food you eat can either be the safest and most powerful form of medicine, or the slowest form of poison.” Ann Wigmore

Knowing what foods are safe to eat when you suffer from chronic digestive angst is really hard, but there are definitely a few core ideas (and rules) to keep in mind when searching for answers. The following recommendations are ones that have certainly helped me, and I continue to eat this way because I can’t imagine going back to feeling the way I did before. Here are my top suggestions:

EAT YOUR VEGGIES!

Nobody ever said to you, “don’t eat your vegetables!” Most of what we eat throughout the day, every day, should be vegetables. They are completely necessary for proper digestive function, and yet most of us don’t consume nearly the amount we should. Not only should we be focusing on increasing our overall intake, but we should also be experimenting with variety, and become aware of what is in season. Our bodies naturally process food that is whole and in season much better than foods that are processed and from thousands of miles away. (For example, living in the pacific northwest, my body wouldn’t process a pineapple in January the same way it would kale.)

LIMIT ANIMAL PRODUCTS

Let’s get real: animal products are not that great for your body. Despite the fact that various meat and dairy industry representatives swear up and down that animal products are a necessity for your health, we all know that can’t be true. Animal meat is very high in saturated fat, which isn’t at all good for us; especially ground beef. Unless purchased from an organic, grass-fed only farm, almost all meat (99% of what is out there), comes from factory farms, and it’s not healthy. The thing is, factory farms are a cesspool of nutrient-deficent meat due to too many growth hormones in the feed, routine antibiotics, and largely diseased animals due to the inevitable overcrowding that occurs. It is also the number one contributor of crazy environmental pollutants.

Dairy is bad, too. Cow milk is meant for calves, not humans. We don’t feed cows human milk, right? Dairy causes allergies and intolerances, which can contribute to ear infections, sinus problems, constipation, and other digestive issues.

Good Food

STOP EATING PROCESSED FOOD

We are living in a new age of food. Or “food.” The nation’s rates of chronic disease, such as diabetes, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, digestive disease, etc, are skyrocketing at a pace never seen before. This is largely due to two things: increased consumption of animal meat, and increased production/consumption of highly processed food. In developing countries, where processed food is nil, these diseases are not present. It’s yucky, and needs to go. This type of food is “dead” because there is nothing nutritionally valuable left for it to offer. A good rule of thumb is to take a look at the list of ingredients, and rule out anything that contains un-pronouncables, and over 6-8 ingredients in total.

STEER CLEAR FROM GMOS

Genetically modified food is lab-created, nutrient-void, and poses considerable risk to your health. It is currently under investigation to prove its role in increased cancer, gastrointestinal disorders, autism, and among other things, decreased immune system function. Download the iPhone app ShopNoGMO to learn which food companies are GMO-free, and which ones aren’t. You can also visit www.gmoshoppingguide.com.

EAT WHOLE FOODS

Whole foods are exactly what they sound like. They’re still in their whole form, and haven’t been processed. These foods are nutritionally dense, and our bodies thrive on them. They’re super simple for our digestive systems to process, which lends more energy (that would have been diverted to heavy, unclean digestions attempts) to other parts of your body. Foods in this category are whole fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, whole grains, (preferably sprouted!), dried fruit, etc, If your digestive system is giving you trouble, try eating this way: completely eliminate dead food, and switch to a diet rich in whole foods.

Green smoothie

NEW FOODS TO INTRODUCE

Once you eliminate the yucky foods, you can introduce an awesome assortment of foods that heal. These include such wonder items as digestive enzymes, probiotics, whole grains, sprouted grains, sprouts, wheatgrass, fresh veggie juices, sea vegetables, fermented goodies, tofu, tempeh and seitan, organic lovelies, and more! Food is our best ally against digestive unease and good health: we need to use it properly!

The right food nourishes your body, mind, and soul.

Those who know me, know that I am VERY into healthy eating and consuming food that I believe lends to more usable energy. I don’t want to feel good- I want to feel AMAZING! Ask me how, buy the book, or visit www.facebook.com/happyhealthylife.org.

Be Food Forward!

Chia Oatmeal with Apricot and Coconut

Apricot Oatmeal

I’ve been doing this thing lately where I eat breakfast for lunch. Not that I skip breakfast; rather I’ve been eating two of them. I don’t know whether it’s because I’ve been sick lately with a cold that I can’t seem to shake, but today I wanted some comfort food for lunch, so I made oatmeal.

Only this wasn’t any ordinary oatmeal. It was really, really, really good oatmeal.

Aside from being high in protein, oatmeal made this way is super high in fiber and iron. It was perfect for a day that wasn’t cold, but wasn’t hot…I was feeling a little down, and it made me feel better. One of those days. So, without any more ramblings from moi, here is what I did. Try it out and you’ll love it. 🙂

Apricot Oatmeal

Chia Oatmeal w/ Apricot + Coconut

Ingredients

2 handfuls rolled oats

2 tbsp. buckwheat groats

1 tbsp. chia seeds

1 cup coconut milk (you could also use almond milk)

About 8 dried apricot pieces

1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

Method

Combine oats, groats, seeds, and milk in a pot. Bring to a slight boil, then let simmer for about 5 minutes. While simmering, cut each apricot piece into 6 or 8 pieces, and set aside. Once the oats are cooked, remove from heat and find a jar. (Or bowl…but a jar’s more fun.) Scoop 1/3 mixture into jar, and layer apricot pieces and coconut. Repeat until everything’s used up, and eat while hot–and here’s a fun twist–OR COLD. Yup, that’s right, you can refrigerate overnight and eat tomorrow morning.

Oatmeal breakfast

So many choices! Okay, just 2, but that’s more than 1. This breakfast (or lunch) is also great for digestion. As a previous sufferer of IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), I can personally attest to the effectiveness oatmeal has on regulating the bowel. It’s also completely plant-based (vegan), and helps to lower blood sugar and cholesterol.

Let me know what you think!

 

Happy Healthy Sneak Peek #2

Love Your Gut

Ready for the second sneak peek of my new book, Happy Healthy Gut? I will post a new preview, from a different chapter, every 2 days until release date (January 2), so stay tuned for more!

From Chapter One (To Tame a Tummy):

IBS is a diagnosis of exclusion, which doctors like to give to people when they can’t figure out why their digestive tracts aren’t working properly. Approximately seventy million Americans suffer from digestive disorders like IBS[i], with almost twenty percent of the U.S. population exhibiting IBS-like symptoms.[ii] Canada’s number? 20 million.[iii] That’s pretty prevalent! Basically, we are told that there is always medication and steroids to help with the pain and symptoms if they get out of control. I’m very certain that this sounds familiar to many of you. When you consider that there are currently about 315 million people living in the United States, [iv] then that means that one out of four and a half people suffer from a debilitating disease that I now know is completely repairable and reversible.

I thought nothing of my diagnosis at the time. I was young and relieved that the exploratory procedure portion of my early twenties was finally over.  It didn’t occur to me to persistently ask any of the doctors I had seen any questions about IBS, or what it meant for my future, and they didn’t offer up very much information. The name sounded innocent enough: irritable bowel syndrome. Like my stomach was cranky, but similar to anyone who is going through a particularly moody or self-proclaimed depressed period in their life, my abdomen would eventually get over it and carry on as if nothing happened. You know, like immature teenage angst.”


[i] “Digestive Disorders.” John Hopkins Medicine Health Alerts. Feb. 2013. Web. http://www.johnshopkinshealthalerts.com/alerts_index/digestive_health/19-1.html

[iii] “Statistics.” Canadian Digestive Health Foundation. 2013. Web. http://www.cdhf.ca/digestive-disorders/statistics.shtml

[iv] “U.S. and World Population Clocks.” United States Census Bureau. Feb. 2013. Web.  http://www.census.gov/main/www/popclock.html

Happy Healthy Sneak Peek #1

As promised, here is the first sneak peek of my new book, Happy Healthy Gut. I will post a new preview, from a different chapter, every 2 days until release date (January 2), so stay tuned for more!

Good Food

From the introduction:

“We need to take it upon ourselves to start thinking ‘food-forward’—to critically recognize whether or not any given food will contribute to our overall growth and escalating health, or if it will simply satisfy our immediate caloric needs, and promote disease and digestive malfunction.

This book is the compilation all of the knowledge I have accumulated, and encompasses absolutely everything I have found personally constructive and useful in my journey to good digestive health. It is about aiding you to find out why the food you are choosing to consume may be the root cause of the digestive discomfort and other health issues that you may be enduring and how, by taking the proverbial bull by its horns, you can take huge steps towards improving your own digestive health without the need for medications and surgeries, while simultaneously bypassing general affliction and impairment. A whole food, plant-based plan can change your entire life. If you feel that your time for a tune up has come, whether for better health, a clearer mind, or in order to take responsibility for today’s heady ethical or environmental issues, then you’ve come to the right place.

I hope your journey is enlightening, positive and, with little effort, pain free. Let me show you how to get your life back quickly, because you’ve already spent too much time feeling like crap.

Let your journey to great digestive health begin…”

5 Signs that You Need a Digestive Tune-Up

Love Your Gut

Many of us wade through life without giving our digestive system much thought. You know it’s there, but you can’t see it, and unless reminded of it on a regular basis, you forget how important it is.

Right?

Your digestive tract is ABSOLUTELY CRITICAL for good health. How well it performs its daily duties can determine many things regarding your wellness situation. The following are 5 signs that you need a digestive tune-up, pronto:

1-      You have no energy. One of the top reasons people experience low energy is a poorly functioning bowel. If your tummy is consistently bogged down with trying to digest shitty food (pardon the pun), it’s borrowing a lot of energy to complete its work. By eating healthy, easy-to-digest foods, such as fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, you can save your gut a lot of energy, and divert it back to other things, such as functioning like a normal human being.

2-      Your bowel movements suck. If you’re not experiencing at least one great bowel movement a day, then you’re constipated. Don’t let the whole “people-are-different-and-everyone-goes-differently” theory fool you. We’re not different. We’re all the same. Our digestive systems should ideally be functioning similarly if we all ate a great diet. The problem is not that your gut isn’t doing its job—it’s that the food you’re feeding it sucks. Stop eating crappy food and you’ll be amazed. By the way, the average North American holds about 5-10 pounds of waste in their constipated colons.[1] Wanna lose a fast five? Start having great bowel movements.

3-      Your skin looks bad. The skin is your body’s largest organ, and is constantly detoxing for you. If you have a lot of acne, rashes, or even just dull skin, then that could mean that it’s trying harder than it should to detox. Much of the toxins on our bodies lurk in our digestive tracts. If you ate cleaner (whole and unprocessed) food, consumed more vegetables (particularly leafy greens), and drank WAY more water, I guarantee that your skin would begin to clear up and begin to glow. How much it changes depends on you. Now if you’re thinking “hold up—bad skin can reflect things like hormone imbalances!” you’re right. But guess what can fix hormone imbalances? Good food.[2]

4-      You experience symptoms of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). Are you prone to bloating, gas, abdominal pain, constipation, and diarrhea? Those things are not normal, and they are repairable! Those symptoms mean that your gut is SCREAMING for an overhaul. You don’t have to live with such horrible symptoms. I have first-hand experience with ditching IBS for good after making a hard-core lifestyle change. You can do it, too. It’s definitely worth it.

5-      You’re depressed. Depression is actually another symptom of IBS, but often presents on its own. While the obvious reason for depression in someone that is experiencing digestive malfunction is attributable to all of the above reasons (daily pain, bad skin, constipation, and no energy—those things would ALL bum me out), there is also another reason. Serotonin is a “happy hormone” that is necessary for feelings of contentment. The vitamin D that we absorb from the sun helps to regulate it. If you are living somewhere that does not get sun on a consistent basis (like me), then you can also obtain in by taking supplements. But guess where serotonin is made? I used to assume it was the brain, but the answer is that most of it is produced in the gut![3] So if you’re feeling less than stoked on a regular basis, you can consider your stressed-out digestive system to be a reason for your lack of happy hormones.

Here are some recommendations to get you started on your tune-up, and remember that this way of eating doesn’t have to be forever. (But after experiencing the effects, you might want to keep it up!) The idea is to clean you up and get you thinking differently about your health:

1-      Cut out animal products and gluten. These are proven triggers for digestive angst.

2-      Stop eating processed foods. They are loaded with chemicals that your body has to fight to expel. This takes ENERGY.

3-      Cut way back on sugar. Again, this will help the energy issue, as well as make your skin happy.

4-      Swap all your bevies for water. Water helps to remove toxins, and it also loosens up old stool for better elimination.

5-      Incorporate WAY more veggies and whole grains into your daily meal plans. These foods are essential for sweeping debris out of the colon and infusing your gut with the nutrients it craves. It will also help with increased energy.

If you’re interested in WAY more information, tips, and recipes that help to naturally tune-up your digestive system, click HERE to pre-order Happy Healthy Gut!

Happy Healthy Gut Cover Design

Happy Friday!