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, March 28, 2009

Remembering Mom

Mom died 4 years ago yesterday, and I forgot to light a candle, so this is her yahrtzeit.

God bless you, Mom. You taught me so much about compassion for all living things, and your years as a vegetarian inspired me. Life is okay now without you here, especially with your cares and health issues gone. I miss you terribly nearly every day. But l feel closer to you now in many ways, just a thought, an action, a word or a prayer away. I love you and I always will.

It's day 12 today for me as a real vegan, and I've been managing better than I thought I would. I even lost about a pound this past week. Last night we went to Red Robin and I had Red's Rice Bowl, sauteed zucchini, yellow squash, red pepper, snowpeas and mushrooms with a little teriyaki sauce atop rice with some Chinese noodles, and a side salad.

Breakfast today was my now-usual Big Bowl of high fiber cereals, with a sliced kiwi, cup of mixed fresh berries, some dried currants, sliced almonds and some pumpkin seeds, tablespoon of flax seed meal, and soy milk. For lunch out we went to our local pizza joint and my husband had a couple of plain slices while I had a veggie hero, no cheese, no mayo, and sprinkled with oil and vinegar. I added a small package of pistachios for protein, and it was a good meal.

Dinner tonight will be either a pasta with marinara and no cheese, or something else vegan from the Olive Garden that just opened near us this week. Their minestrone is vegan as far as I can tell, too. Tomorrow night I will make my first Vegan Alfredo Sauce, and I have all the stuff I need, (except vegan parmesan cheese, and not every recipe requires it): Mori-Nu silken tofu, nutritional yeast, soymilk and the appropriate herbs and spices. With some penne, that ought to be good.

And so, my vegan adventure continues, and I am finding it very do-able. More later.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Vegan Living: Today is Day Five!

I finally made the transition from lacto-ovo vegetarian to vegan! Now that I've done it, I can't believe how long I resisted doing it, thinking that giving up the cheese, butter, eggs and other dairy products, not to mention all foods that contain them in any quantity whatever, would be incredibly difficult. Not so.


First, my last physical showed my cholesterol was 263. I went off Lipitor back in 2007 when I was losing a lot of weight on a low-carb diet, and I was sure that because I had been abstaining from all meat, fish and poultry my number would be low now. Wrong! My doc wrote:

Your cholesterol was 263 and your LDL 167, so being a vegetarian doesn't help your lipid profile. You are going to need medication.

Well, I thought I'd just reduce the cheese, eggs and other dairy easily to correct this, but I haven't been able to do so. Then on the Today Show I saw Rip Esselstyn, author of The Engine 2 Diet (E-2) which I mentioned a few weeks back, and I got excited about his plan. However, I'd recently placed a couple of other on-line orders and felt I should wait to send for it, and gradually the idea faded. Then I saw a reference to an interesting cookbook, Terry Bryant's Vegan Soul Food Kitchen.

So I ordered both books, and I told myself I could eat cheese, eggs and other dairy until they came. That day was Tuesday, March 17, 2009, St. Patrick's Day. I opened the box eagerly. I scanned both books briefly, being at work at the time, and brought them home. The E-2 diet seemed daunting, with no added fats or cheese substitutes and no refined carbs. I didn't think I could do it. Bryant Terry's recipes looked awesome and easy to follow. So I told myself I could simply be honestly vegan, no exceptions, and see how it went. Every day I made vegan choices.

We ate in on Tuesday and Thursday, and on Wednesday we brought in Middle Eastern takeout, and I had Koshary, a delicious mix of chopped vegetables, lentils, garbanzos, rice, and rotini pasta, with some marinara sauce and fried onions on top. Last night we went out for Indian food and I asked the waiter which items didn't have any dairy, and it was easy because there were only two (everything else called "vegetarian" had cream or butter in it), so I enjoyed a spicy lentil dish with rice. Yummy, but in the middle of the night I felt I'd overdone the salt.

Yesterday before dinner I shopped at a local health food store and stocked up on many items Rip recommends. That included a loaf of Ezekiel bread, non-dairy yogurt, nutritional yeast, Smart Fiber cereal and some other stuff. Today I went to my local Mr. Z's market and found an even better selection of some items: Mori-Nu silken tofu used in many vegan recipes, organic frozen and fresh fruits, and ingredients for tomorrow's slow-cooker chili.

Today I had an E-2 breakfast ("Rip's Big Bowl") with lots of high fiber cereal, dried fruit, nuts flax seed meal, and soy milk. It was delicious. For lunch we went to a little place my husband loves. "Sweet Creams" features lunch and ice cream. I had a green salad with balsamic vinaigrette on the side and a PBR sandwich--peanut butter, raisins, dark chocolate chips and cinnamon on a dense whole grain bread. It was all good. Later this afternoon, I made Vegan Brownies that are amazing. So, it can be done.

Gist of my experience: it's easier to abstain completely from cheese (Rip calls it addictive and explains why) than to have a little. Kind of like alcoholism. It's easier to stop our drinking altogether than to try to moderate it.

The AA Big Book (on page xxx in "The Doctor's Opinion) says,

The only relief we have to suggest is entire abstinence.

And so I am abstaining entirely, and one day at a time, it's working. I'll keep checking in. Here's a great pyramid to guide my path. Maybe yours, too.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Daisy, Daisy . . .

(Cross-posted from Daily Kos)

Here in the mountains of Northeastern PA the snow is almost gone and it's supposed to be 65 today, about 20 degrees over normal for now. But we'll take it! Also, here's a Naughty Kitten update: our Daisy has mellowed to the point where we can handle her.

This is Daisy today.

You all [friends at Daily Kos] were so helpful a few weeks ago when my husband had reached the end of his rope with her. We made some suggested accommodations, but the biggest positive influence came, I believe, from our psychic friend who asked spirit guides to speak with her and explain that jumping on the mantel wasn't cool. Dasiy remained quiet and subdued for over an hour, unusual for a 7-month old kitten, and she has never jumped up there again. Made a believer out of me! When I saw our friend and told her, she said, "It was a spirit already in your home," either one of our cats who has passed on (there were 4, 2 who have been in this house) or one of our beloved parents, or...?

The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated - Mahatma Gandhi

Friday, March 6, 2009

Spring Will Soon Be Here!

Springtime is a season of joy for all creatures. We await her arrival with open arms. The squirrels in the back yard scrounging around my bird feeders, the black crows on the spine of the house, and walking like men with hands clasped behind their backs on the winter-faded grass, and we humans and our cat Daisy all look toward spring at this time of winter discontent in the world.

Our young Daisy enjoys a beam of sunlight and an airborne faux-furry mouse toy.

Here in the mountains of Northern Pennsylvania, the sun is shining, the snow is almost gone, except for a few little patches here and there, and the air is 52 degrees. A far cry from the 10-below temperatures we braved a month or so ago.

Living in an eco-friendly, vegetarian way, aspiring toward the vegan, at ease in my own skin today, I welcome this season of greater light and freedom. On Sunday we'll turn the clocks ahead for Daylight Savings Time, and the mornings will be darker and the evenings brighter.

Another winter will soon end as the equinox passes in just two weeks, and hope of warmth will cheer us again. Meanwhile, it's another day today to live in harmony with the Earth.