Hello, world! I am back! Oh, my goodness have I missed sharing my food journeys with you guys! I’m sure you probably even thought that I’d fell completely off of the radar and that you should just unsubscribe as you will never hear from me again, but alas, here I am and I sincerely apologize for my absence!
If I had to rate how busy I have been on a scale from 1-10, it would be 1000 (that is literally me in the above photo)! Life comes at you fast, and unfortunately, time does not stop even when you have a list from ceiling to floor of things to do! Long story short, in the midst of prioritizing some things in my life, my blog was placed on the back burner, while I dealt with life due to being a real person and not a robot, lol. Plus, I have been
vigorously working on my own business, and that in itself has been extremely time-consuming!
Anyways, as you may or may not know from my previous post is that before this unexpected hiatus, I attempted to embark on a 30-day raw vegan diet. The good news is I’ve lost almost 15 lbs, and I feel the best I have in a long time, the bad news is… well, I completely and utterly failed miserably. Holistically though, did I really fail when I still achieved such great weight loss and overall improvement of health in such a short period? They say it takes 30 days to create a habit, I by no means could make a habit of eating raw veggies, but I did create quite a few habits in my diet that I have stuck with even after the process and intend to continue to do so.
Here’s a list of the new habits I have created in my personal diet (and why I chose to continue them, in case you are wondering!)
1. Snacking on avocado and mango slices:
Mango has a ton of health benefits in addition to being the most freaking delicious fruit that I know of (wipes drool, sorry). Mango is chocked full of antioxidants that help to protect against different forms of cancer. It is also high in fiber which improves digestion, and vitamin c which helps to lower cholesterol and boost your immune system (which might explain why I am the only one in my house that is not sick at the moment!; SN: to reiterate how busy I’ve been I started this post almost two weeks ago, and actually ended up getting sick two days later -HA!- Nevertheless, I was the last one to get sick, and I was sick the shortest period, so my statement still holds some clout!). As someone who has struggled with skin issues since high school, I love that mango can not only be eaten to promote clear skin but can also be used externally in facials to keep pores unclogged and eliminate pimples. I must say, my skin has improved in both texture and clarity which I think the mango, in addition to other things, had a hand in.
Now I must be honest, avocados are not tasty in their natural form (to me at least), so to say that I tend to douse them in Tajin (a chili and lime seasoning) is an understatement. However, for the health benefits, I eat them and enjoy knowing that I am making a healthy choice. I won’t go into detail for everything, but avocados are good for cardiovascular health, cancer prevention, blood pressure control, anti-aging and decreasing wrinkles, relieving constipation, and assisting in weight-loss by being a “healthy-fat” that makes you feel fuller.
2. Eating cherries before bed:
What is so baffling to me about the fact that I went through about three bags of cherries in one month single-handedly, is that for my entire life I claimed to absolutely hate them, despise them. This hatred was literally created from one experience of eating those awful bright red cherries that come in a jar and on top of sundaes. Since I was very young at the time, I was convinced that all cherries tasted that way, and vowed to never eat one again in my life.
Let’s move forward 15+ years. While preparing for this new diet, I went through the process of trying to find out which vegetables and fruits I like to eat. I wanted to make sure that I was trying things that I had never eaten before or that I could remember, to expand my pallet and expand my options of things to eat. There were some deep red tart cherries on sale, and I stood in the store in front of them contemplating placing them in my basket for a good 5 minutes, until I finally just said “I’ve spent $2.99 on” and just went ahead and got them. BEST DECISION EVER. Aside from the task of having to eat
around the pit (which became annoying, to say the least), the cherries were downright delicious, and come to find out they were a great food to eat before bed for a good night’s rest! Apparently, cherries contain melatonin which is a chemical that controls the body’s internal clock to regulate sleep. The same chemical is triggered by tryptophan, a natural amino acid found in turkey meat (which would explain why everyone finds a place to pass out after Thanksgiving dinner!). I subsequently began eating about a cup of them an hour before bed; I found that I was not only falling asleep easier but also feeling more rested when I woke up in the morning.
3. Drinking green tea before bed:
Now I know most people’s go-to beverage for a good night’s rest is typically chamomile tea, some may even opt for a glass of milk, I, however, have made a habit of drinking a cup of green tea before bed. It’s not necessarily crucial to make sure that it is caffeine free (although I would advise drinking caffeinated green tea at least 2 hours before bed); the health benefits of drinking green tea far outweigh whether it is caffeinated or not (unless of course, you have a condition where you specifically advised against consuming caffeine).
Drinking green tea before bed helps you to detox during sleep by directly supporting healthy liver function, and promoting the elimination of free radicals. Green tea before bed also helps to regulate your blood sugar to help you avoid spikes or crashes while you are sleeping. Typically, if you eat close to bedtime, the calories are less likely to be burned due to inactivity, but green tea provides a metabolic boost to help those calories continue to burn despite your body being physically inactive during sleep. Green tea is also great to drink right after a large or heavy meal to boost metabolism and soothe digestion as well!
4. Cutting out red meat and limiting chicken/fish/turkey:
To be frank, I am in no way, shape, or form ready or looking to cut all meat COMPLETELY out of my diet and don’t think that I plan to, at least not now. I did well without it for about ten days, and then I wanted a chicken sandwich. . . really, really bad! Now, I don’t crave meat (often), but when I want to eat it, I’m going to eat it, and that’s just what it is. I don’t believe in forcing yourself to eat something that you do not enjoy, as it just makes eating feel like a miserable task that you’d rather avoid; and honestly, I think not giving in to those taste at times results in you craving them even more! If anything, I feel that moderation and conscious eating is key.
However, I have removed red meat from my diet which was not so difficult as my husband does not eat it either so I just end up not buying it for my household at all. I also try my best (and by my best I mean when it’s feasible at the time) to only consume organic chicken and turkey, and only wild caught salmon. Being a southern girl, I have somehow even managed to curve my taste for fried chicken and fried catfish, so kudos to me, because THAT was not easy and took time! I cut down my meat portions to about no more than 6 oz in a day, so that’s about equal to 1 fillet of fish or 1 chicken breast.
5. Replacing breakfast or lunch with a chia seed smoothie:
On days where I had to hurry out of the house to run errands, did not feel like munching on any veggies, or just did one of those ‘open the fridge, stare at it blankly, close it, repeat’, I would make myself a smoothie with 2-3 tablespoons of chia seeds! This was a quick and awesome meal replacement as all I had to do was throw some fruit and veggies in my NutriBullet, add water and chia seeds, blend, and I’m out the door! No lie, these smoothies were so filling sometimes they would hold me over for 5-6 hours before I would even start to think about my next meal! My go-to smoothie consisted of about 6 oz of organic frozen mango, one banana, 1 tbsp of raw organic honey, about a handful of organic mixed spinach and kale, juice from ½ of a lemon, and 2 tbsp of chia seeds. Chia seeds are a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids, fiber, and antioxidants. They are gluten free, can be used as egg replacements (due to their gel-like consistency when mixed with liquids), and can also be a great blood sugar regulator for those with diabetes! Chia Seeds are known for their satiating quality; when added to smoothies, oatmeal, or eaten as a pudding, you can feel satisfied and full for hours!
6. Drinking aloe vera juice:
This was something that I was gradually doing before starting my diet, but I still wanted
to include it because it is something that I will continue to do as well. First and foremost, I quickly found out that pure aloe vera juice is not cheap; and by not cheap I mean I typically pay about $8 per 32-ounce bottle (then again I shop at Albertsons, where everything is overpriced *sigh*). However, aloe vera juice when drank in its purest form has some pretty amazing health benefits that I think are well worth the costs; if you can find it cheaper for the same quality, I am jealous, and I demand to know your vendor of choice!
Id love to go into detail of all of the many benefits of drinking aloe vera juice, but this posts may go on for quite some time so I will keep it short: aloe vera juice is alkaline, it is extremely water-dense and an excellent source of rehydration, it supports healthy liver function and detoxification, it is rich in antioxidants and vitamins and promotes clear skin, as well as helps to prevent fine lines and wrinkles, it is nutrient rich and can prevent deficiencies in vitamins B, C, E, and folic acid, it is excellent at relieving heartburn (due to the alkalinity), and it contains several enzymes that break down sugars and fats for a smooth running digestive system! (whew! I know, you had no idea of all of the benefits of aloe vera juice, right? You are welcome!) When I have it on hand, I typically try to drink about 6-8 ounces of aloe vera juice per day.
7. More meatless meals, More veggies!:
So, as I said before, I am not completely meat-less, but I have taken steps towards incorporating more “veggie-full” meals into my diet! It really helps that my husband has switched (almost completely) to a plant-based diet, therefore forcing me to get more creative during mealtime!
I typically try to use substitutions and cook/season them the same way that I would the product I am substituting them for. Sometimes it may be a hit or miss, but if you don’t
focus too much on it not tasting EXACTLY like you are used to, the difference is barely noticeable! It may take a while to figure out exactly what products fit your taste but don’t be afraid to test them out!
Also, I like to buy pre-seasoned marinades and sauces such as Red Fork, and keep them on hand for whenever I have random veggies or potatoes laying around and can’t figure out what to do with them!
In the photo below, I took veggies that needed to go soon out of my fridge and some red potatoes, cut them up, and simmered them in a lemon and garlic sauce that I had on hand. Such a quick, easy, light and delicious meal! As Im sure you can tell, I keep onions, mushrooms, and potatoes in my house at all times, I can always figure out something with those!
Even for dessert, I attempted to make more dairy-free treats. Although dairy-free desserts have yet to tickle my fancy (in a way that I would want to eat them in any situation where I have a choice), it was still fun and interesting to experiment! I can honestly say I prefer to just stick to nomming on fruit if I can’t have my sweets the old-fashioned way, at least for now!
All in all, I appreciate the experience and I feel that I made a lot of great changes to my diet. These changes have definitely given me a better perspective on the foods that work best for my body and those that work against it. However, in real life, we are all human so I can say I will continue to TRY my best to maintain and do what is best for my health! I will continue to share the meals that I make in my home whether meat or meat-free, and I hope I inspired you all to make new changes or incorporate healthier options into your diet as well!
Now back to the recipes!