Sunday, March 16, 2014

recommendations for a fresh start (confessions of a diet convert part 2)

Okay, I'm back!!  Since I know you were all holding your breath in anticipation of my follow up to Part 1, I'm here to tell you - the wait is over, people!  I know this was probably worse than the wait to see what Hank would do when he finally realized that Walt is Heisenberg (I told you it was a problem!) - but you can rest easy now, because here I am - but be warned - settle in, this is going to be a looonnng one...  ;-)

First things first:

While I AM a certified Culinary Nutrition Expert (CNE), I am NOT a Registered Holistic Nutritionist (RHN).  Advice I offer stems from my own experience, and from my course of study in the CNE program.  We are all individuals, and as such, what works for one person, may not work for another. YOU know your body best; please do your own research, and consult your medical practitioner should you be in need of medical advice. 

Got it?  Great!  Now, one more thing I should make perfectly clear:

While I wholeheartedly embrace and recommend following a primarily plant-based diet, I am neither a vegetarian, nor a vegan - (in fact, I'm not a lover of labels, period.)  When I do eat animal-based protein, it's usually in the form of (organic) eggs or fish - however, if I do eat poultry or beef, I do my very best to choose local, grass-fed, hormone-free, etc. With that in mind then, I offer you my very own food philosophy.  I do hope to expand upon this in a future post, but for now, these are the guidelines I try to follow, which I hope to be fairly self-explanatory:
Be organic  Choose organically grown over conventional produce
Be sustainable  Choose sustainable meat/poultry/fish over factory farmed
Be nutritious  Focus on nutritional value over caloric content
Be real  Eliminate processed foods, make it from scratch
Be conscious  KNOW what you are eating - EVERY. INGREDIENT. MATTERS. 
Be alive!  With the vibrancy of good health from food!

Are you with me so far?  Or are you thinking, "Well good for you and your food philosophy, but I want a food philosophy of my own!"  Well, even I had to start somewhere, and as I mentioned last week in the lead up to this post, if you are considering a transition to a primarily plant-based diet, (let's call it PBD from this point forward, shall we?) you may be overcome with confusion about where to start.  There are SO MANY sources of information out there - and while it may all be good information, it can be difficult to keep it all organized - which leads to frustration...which leads to the nearest take out restaurant.  At least I know it was a problem for me - you know how it goes - one quick web search for a smoothie recipe leads to a FOUR. HOUR. browsing session - and before you know it, your eyes have sunken into your skull and are screaming for mercy, your mousing hand has become a gnarled, claw-like appendage, and you've forgotten every website you've just spent a good portion of your life browsing.  Now, of course Pinterest could be your friend in such a case, or even an info-organizer app like Evernote can be of great help. But I'm not here today to talk tech, so I'll give it to you quick and dirty - my BEST recommendation for a one stop info source to get you on the road to health and vitality through diet is...

Hands down, THIS is the one that cleared the fog for me, peeps.  No point in me rehashing here what Meghan does so well in her book, UnDiet.  She's got all the bases covered, from transitioning to plant-based eating, (including delicious recipes and meal plans) to tips and tricks on how to re-organize your kitchen/pantry.  She also gives you the straight up goods about why you should be rethinking everything from the water you drink (and what you drink it out of) to the expensive lotions and potions you slather on your body on a daily basis - and all in her own uniquely approachable, non-preachy (that was a biggie for me) and vivacious manner (and lots of wonderful pictures too!  I love pictures!).  To me, this is THE PBD-transition bible - and of course, what eventually led me to certification in her CNE program.  (The spring 2014 session is now full, but click on that little green box on the sidebar if you're interested in learning about this amazing, life-changing program).

Before my friend Lynn introduced me to Meghan Telpner, however,  one of the first websites that grabbed my attention when I was foraging my way through the plant-based eating jungle, was Angela Liddon's beautiful blog, Oh She Glows.  As it happens, Angela (like Meghan) is not only a fellow Canuck (no that's not a dirty word, it's slang for Canadian), but she also happens to have published a brand-spanking new cookbook - and if you thought vegan cooking was all sprouted grains and lentil, well, okay, maybe there are sprouted grains and lentil loaves in this book - but I promise you, these are NOT your old hippie uncle's sprouted grain and lentil loaf recipes, trust me! :) This book is chock full of flavourful, delicious, easy to follow recipes - not to mention tons of gorgeous (and inspiring!) photos:

I would be remiss if I didn't also mention Gwyneth Paltrow's latest cookbook,  It's All Good.  Yes, I know she annoys you with her tall, tanned, and toned body, rock star husband, and seemingly charmed life, but here's the thing - if you're looking for simple, easy to follow recipes (I was surprised too! - this isn't full of ingredients you can only find in specialty food stores in Manhattan or on expedition across the mountains of Kenya!) - you might consider picking this one up too:

As long as we're talking books, I would also highly recommend perusing anything you can get your hands on from Michael Pollan:

A brilliant writer (and Michael J. Fox's brother in law! - who knew!?), he gets right down to the VERY detailed nitty gritty of why our so-called "Western diet" isn't working - and offers his take on what DOES work.  His books are fascinating, horrifying, and enlightening all at once - and although I highly, highly recommend these as required reading if you are considering transitioning to a PBD, I will say they probably aren't the books you will be throwing in your beach bag for a little light summer reading (if summer ever comes, that is.)

But maybe books/reading aren't your thing?  No probs, I've got you covered - here are three movies to get you headed in the right direction:

Hungry for Change
Food Matters
Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead

All three of the above movies are available to watch either on Netflix (Hungry for Change, Food Matters) or online (Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead) - and all three are compelling and informative, without being boring, or using graphic imagery to get their point across.  In fact, despite its gloomy title, Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead is not only incredibly inspiring, it's downright entertaining!  So what are you waiting for?  Click that link and start watching! :)

Okay, hang in people, I'm nearly done!!!  (Stop cheering, I can hear you from here!)  Just to show you I appreciate you getting this far, if you're still with me, you've just earned yourself a little ***BONUS TIP***!!  Are you ready???  Okay, here goes....

If you're anywhere near serious about following a diet that is primarily plant-based, you'd better save yourself the anguish right now, and just invest in a high-speed blender (such as a Vitamix or Blendtec), and a good quality juicer (I use a Hurom slow juicer).  I kicked and screamed against the idea of spending almost an entire paycheque on a blender (a blender!!!) - but in the end, it's probably one of the best investments in my health that I've ever made.  (Costco seems to have the consistently lowest prices).  I use mine almost every day (for smoothies, soups, and nut milks) and I lurrrrrrve it!! And Vitamix is paying me absolutely zero to say that! (A lovely song by Jason Mraz...I thought you all deserved a little musical break...) ;-)

Well, hopefully my attempt to save you from too much information hasn't actually resulted in giving you too much information - but the bottom line is, if you are serious about changing your way of eating with a view to improved health, there are NO SHORT CUTS.  You're going to have to re-learn, (or maybe learn for the first time), what that room in your house called "the kitchen" is, and you're going to have to USE it.  Familiarize yourself with that block of wood leaning up against the back of your kitchen counter (it's called a cutting board!), and introduce yourself to all those odd looking kitchen appliances you got for wedding gifts (why helloooo, food processor! Pleased to meet you, mini chopper!!) because they are going to be your new best friends.  If it still all seems a bit overwhelming, I'd be happy to try to answer any questions you have - or conversely, if you have any tips and recommendations of your own you'd like to share, please feel free to leave them in the comments below.

Have a great week everyone - the countdown is on - spring is only four days away! :)

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