Welcome to Nature Maven's Healthy Eating Healthy Planet Blog

Welcome! If you're a vegan, you'll find support and suggestions you may be able to use here. If you're a vegetarian as I was when I started this blog in June 2008, reading my archived posts may be of interest to you. If you haven't gotten here already, I hope you'll consider trying the vegan way of life, too.

As I try new recipes, learn to eat in restaurants, entertain non-veg friends and make the changes necessary to bring my life into greater harmony with the planet, I share what I learn. And little joys and other thoughts get thrown into the mix here, too.

In March 2009 after starting to read The Engine 2 Diet by vegan firefighter Rip Esselstyn, I became fully vegan, to the best of my knowledge and ability, and I post entries here as I live and learn in this lifestyle. It's definitely a process of experience and discovery.

Please check out the Vegan News Headlines supplied by Google News Reader down on the right, and see my Blogroll for just a few of the choice blogs and websites I've found useful.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Breaking it Down


This gorgeous photo is an affirmation: I can select healthy foods. Now that I've been vegetarian for 18 days, having fish only once early in the first week and no meat or fish since, I'm beginning to fine tune my food choices. I track my intake at the Daily Plate and this is what yesterday's consumption looked like:

My Calorie Breakdown (2,762)
50.18% carbohydrate
39.87% fat
9.95% protein

This is sobering information. I exceeded my suggested calories by 1,079. It was really easy to see where the problems arose. I had too much food at each meal. I believe I would have been satisfied with less. I didn't need oatmeal AND a slice of pecan french toast at breakfast. I didn't need a second and half of a third breadstick at lunch. With butter (I know, I know! Not vegan). Or the shared trail mix snack two hours before dinner (I was thirsty and bought a diet soda and on impulse bought the package of trail mix). Or the bread and butter at dinner, or the cheesecake shared with my husband. But the worst offender by far was my choice of entree at the restaurant at dinner: Linguine Alfredo (they were out of fettucine). That was the only entree that was vegetarian, and I asked for the linguine because the menu called for cheese tortellini. So I have learned I can't "just eat anywhere and adapt" as I've believed. I worried that I wasn't getting enough protein, so I ate more and yet it was still below 10% with all the food I ate.


Today for breakfast: Smart Bran cereal with almond milk and a half cup of raspberries. The China Study summarized on KidSmart speaks to the cancer risks of consuming 20% protein compared to under 10% with exposure to carcinogenic substances, so I feel okay about it today. By the way, plant proteins do not carry the same risks as animal proteins, so I still plan to go vegan, in time. Live and Learn.

Mid-morning snack: 1" square Whole Foods granola bar

Lunch: leftover vegan lasagne (still good and very tasty) and green salad with a TBS of Italian salad dressing.

Afternoon Snack: 1 slice of freshly baked whole wheat bread (my first in years) with a little Earth Balance spread and fig spread. Delicious! I can do this!

Dinner: organic field greens with quinoa, pepitas, onion and fresh raspberries and 1 TBS Newman's Own Oil and Vinegar; Fakin' Bacon and garbanzos with couscous and broccoli from our neighbor's garden.

Dessert: Soy vanilla frozen dessert with organic blueberries. Total percentages for Today (1,792 calories): 53.73% carbohydrate, 31.22% fat, 15.05% protein. And only 9 calories over the goal.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Food For Thought

Photobucket Good morning! Here I am at Day 12 of my vegetarian lifestyle, and I continue to gather information, Food for Thought, if you will. Today I found on the blog Green Options the following guidelines for buying produce:

Certain produce, termed the "Dirty Dozen" by the Environmental Working Group, is so highly sprayed with toxic chemicals that, many experts recommend eating them only when they’re organic. These include:
Grapes, imported (Chile)
Bell peppers

The U.S. Department of Agriculture found that even after washing, some fruits and vegetables consistently carry much higher levels of pesticide residue than others. The produce you can get away with purchasing as non-organic includes:

Bananas (though I do recommend purchasing "Fair Trade" bananas)

Photobucket Right now we're struggling in the US with the tomato salmonella scare, and I saw a news story on MSNBC suggesting buying local and organic, especially until the source of this scourge is known and understood.

UPDATE: Today the weather was ominous with rain and thunderstorms so we visited a nearby antique mall to scout out a cake stand. We only found a few with domes, and only one in clear glass that wasn't a stellar enough example of the type worth shelling out good money for. This brings me to the ecological value of recycling things found in antique malls, thrift stores and fleamarkets or at garage, yard or stoop sales rather than heading to the stores for a brand new item that usually has a lot less character and quality. Not to mention that most new housewares are made somewhere far away with questionable safety and labor practices.

Martha Stewart Living has a great story on collecting glass cake stands ("Over the Top: Food domes uncover the history of dining through the centuries") in the July 2008 issue.

After baking an organic chocolate cake for our family birthday gathering this weekend, I decided we need just such an item. Having a mission when antiquing makes it all much more fun. Maybe next week...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Life is a Bowl of Cherries

I have a bowl of fresh juicy cherries in my office and people have been savoring them along with me. I picked up a bag of California-grown organic cherries this morning to take for the weekend. Looked for grated soy cheese but the best I was able to find was a small block of mozzerella flavored rice cheese I can grate myself. My vegan lasagna, getting a second life this weekend from my freezer, needed more cheesiness. Family are visiting this weekend, so I picked up some maple syrup, creamed honey spread, and fig spread to serve with the whole grain waffles and homemade bread (that I hope I find time to make).

Weight is good. This week I went up 2 pounds on Tuesday but am back to baseline this morning.

One week ago today I posted this diary, "Going Vegetarian", on Daily Kos:

I have made the dramatic decision to go vegetarian, taking in as little dairy as I can and allowing a little fish during the tranisition. It all started with hearing that Oprah is doing a 21-day Cleansing Diet that is vegan, plus caffeine-free, gluten-free, and sugar-free. She is using a plan promoted by author Kathy Freston. I read this on Compassionate Cooks:
Recently, Oprah announced - on her show, on her site, and on her blog - that she is adopting a 21-Day Cleanse outlined in Kathy Freston's new book, Quantum Wellness." Some of you may be familiar with Kathy, whose popular article "Veganism is the New Prius" made its way around the web about a year ago. She is a beautiful and eloquent ambassador for veganism, and I'm thrilled she will be guiding Oprah on her journey. This cleanse includes avoiding gluten, sugar, alcohol, and animal products, but it's not just for health reasons that Oprah is giving this a try.

I went from this site to Oprah's own blog, and then I sought more information. This led me to a vegan site promising a "Free Guide" that when I clicked on it immediately began showing a video on cruelty in the raising and slaughtering of poultry and animals that was so upsetting that I was only able to view it with the sound off. After making myself see it through, I knew I could no longer be a party to this animal cruelty by buying and eating meat. I do not recommend seeing this video because it is raw and terrible, but I will post a link in comments if anyone asks for it. Let me add here that I am aware there are humane persons raising animals for meat and slaughtering them with minimal cruelty, but these are not the norm. Most commercial operations raising poultry and beef employ unspeakable tactics to maximize their profits at the expense of any quality of life for the living creatures in whose flesh they trade.

How we eat is very much a personal choice. I do not seek to convert others to my decision. I am writing this diary to enlist support and to find out about others choosing the vegan or vegetarian way of life and how you did it. So far I have received so much wonderful help. I went to my local Whole Foods and as I was checking out with a basket of new goodies, I asked the tattooed checker if by chance he was a vegan. He hesitated and then he said, "Yes, I am!" and thus began a brief but earnest conversation. He urged me to get quinoa because of its high level of protein, and Bragg's Liquid Aminos to add essential nutrients and flavor to vegetarian recipes. The next day I went back in search of the Bragg's but the store was out of stock, and the guy helping me look for it was so sweet, taking me all over the store to show me packaged and frozen items I'd enjoy as I make the transition. Both guys congratulated me on my decision and welcomed me. I feel wonderful. In my work, I shared this with a couple of clients, one a vegan and the other following a limited plan for health reasons, and both were very encouraging. One loaned me a vegetarian cookbook and box of Vegetarian Times recipe cards.

So this is Day 3, and I have lost 2 pounds without that even being a goal for this change, but the loss is very welcome nonetheless, my having been an Atkins adherent for several years and slowly regaining some of the weight after adding carbs back in. If I can figure out how, I will start a blog.

Well, as you can see, I did start that blog!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Learning as I Go

A beautiful day today, and I have been learning how to build this blog and improve it bit by bit. Today a trip to Whole Foods and I came away with agave nectar, fresh cherries, granola bar, Nature's Path cereals (on sale today at 2 for $6), quinoa, and egg replacer (for baking). I have one a short walk from my office, so I feel very fortunate. I am loving the China Study (see link in the sidebar) and learning why going vegan is the only healthy choice. This is Day 9!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

A Whole Week!

Yesterday I reported for jury duty and was unable to post here, but all is well nevertheless. Today it has been a full week since I have been eating meat-free. I feel good, but I have been eating too many healthy baked goods, and healthy or not, they aren't good for me to overdo, especially the ones that are sweet. I wasn't selected for a jury, so I'm back to my work and life routine. I used the Vindigo program on my PDA to locate the closest vegetarian restaurant and walked there on the lunch break yesterday. I found it, a cute cafe with plants and paintings all around and funky Nina Simone on the sound system. I got a Hickory Tofurkey sandwich with soy cheese and sprouts on 7-grain bread. It was great. Now if only I hadn't stopped at the bakery tent in the Farmer's Market on Courthouse Square on the way back to buy a molasses cookie! Delicious but too sweet and that tends to awaken the craving for lots more sugar.

Someone on Daily Kos recommended I read The China Study and I just got my copy this morning. So far I can see a lot of sound support for my decision to become a vegetarian and eventually a vegan. I have been anxious that I wouldn't get enough protein, but the book helps dispel that fear. I do know that living on Atkins wasn't healthy for me over the long haul, so I am really glad to be finding my way on the meat-free side of the equation.

UPDATE: I found this chart on the Mayo Clinic website here:


Monday, June 16, 2008

Weighing In

Today I weighed in and am up .2 pounds since last Monday's weigh-in, so the switch isn't making a significant difference overall. I'm not trying to lose, but ever a yo-yo dieter and hoping to shed about 10 pounds over the long haul, I don't want to see my weight balloon after switching from a quasi-Atkins food plan to vegetarian eating which by nature is fairly high carb. This past week involved Whole Foods granola bars (amazingly tasty), Whole Foods pecan oatmeal cookies, and a lot of creative eating with tofu and beans. I took good advice and got Bragg's Liquid Aminos, quinoa, and agave nectar. I found that I could stir a scoop of vanilla Body Fortress whey powder into my coffee and add 26 grams of protein. When the enormous canister is done, I'll find a vegan formula, but this will suffice for now. In addition to making a change for ethical reasons, I am going vegetarian for the planet, and wasting things I already have isn't ethical, to my thinking.

Thought for the Day: scientists estimate that 20% of greenhouse gases implicated in global warming comes from raising livestock and their feed and transporting the same. Learn more from the UN here.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Starting the Journey

I began my change in eating on June 11, 2008 after hearing that Oprah was experimenting with a vegan lifestyle. I went to her website, then her blog on this subject, and off in search of more information. Then I stumbled upon a vegan website that showed a graphic and very disturbing video documenting cruelty in the raising and slaughtering of animals for food. I knew there were ugly truths inherent in eating meat, but this time I had reached a tipping point, and thus begins my life as a vegetarian heading toward veganism.

I posted this on June 13 here on the Daily Kos website. I received scores of supportive comments, and I am very grateful for the suggestions I've received thus far. Today is my birthday, a day I spent with family hiking in a boreal bog and learning about plants that have adapted to living far south of their intended range. I feel even closer to the nature that I love having made the decision to abstain from eating meat and avoiding dairy and fish as best I can. I will chronicle the experience here.