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, May 28, 2011

Monetizing This Blog Brings You HFCS Propaganda! Read On...

Since more folks are stopping by this blog, I've added the monetizing feature Blogger offers, and often the ads are relevant and in harmony with my sentiments and values. Today, however, I am seeing the "Sweet Surprise" links about the "truth" about High Fructose Corn Syrup in a couple of places here. I've posted several very negative, detailed blogs about HFCS, so this is no accident, so I'm just warning readers, HFCS is no good for you, no matter how much they assure you otherwise. It's way too concentrated, as any refined sugar is, but it enters your bloodstream faster than cane or beet sugar because the molecular structure has been tampered with.

A Princeton University study published in 2010 challenges the "Sweet Surprise" propaganda:
A Princeton University research team has demonstrated that all sweeteners are not equal when it comes to weight gain: Rats with access to high-fructose corn syrup gained significantly more weight than those with access to table sugar, even when their overall caloric intake was the same.

In addition to causing significant weight gain in lab animals, long-term consumption of high-fructose corn syrup also led to abnormal increases in body fat, especially in the abdomen, and a rise in circulating blood fats called triglycerides. The researchers say the work sheds light on the factors contributing to obesity trends in the United States.

"Some people have claimed that high-fructose corn syrup is no different than other sweeteners when it comes to weight gain and obesity, but our results make it clear that this just isn't true, at least under the conditions of our tests," said psychology professor Bart Hoebel, who specializes in the neuroscience of appetite, weight and sugar addiction. "When rats are drinking high-fructose corn syrup at levels well below those in soda pop, they're becoming obese -- every single one, across the board. Even when rats are fed a high-fat diet, you don't see this; they don't all gain extra weight."
I have no intention of giving the Corn Refiners Association free publicity, so I will post no links, but you'll probably still see them below and to the lower right of this blog post. Get that? The Corn Refiners Association sponsors the Sweet Surprise site, and, get this, their mailing address is in Washington DC. Last I heard, no farmers are raising corn in DC. Maybe First Lady Michelle Obama has a few rows of corn in the White House garden, but that's not what we're talking about.

Not only is HFCS downright deadly to at least some living beings, but much of the commercial corn raised in the US is genetically modified to be disease resistant, pest resistant, and weed resistant. What's wrong with that? HuffPost Green states it well:
In a study released by the International Journal of Biological Sciences, analyzing the effects of genetically modified foods on mammalian health, researchers found that agricultural giant Monsanto's GM corn is linked to organ damage in rats.
I love farmers. I love the red barn and tractor thing big-time. I love the bib overalls and wheatstraw look. Honest I do.

But I don't love monster agribusiness that pollutes, overcontrols, and buys votes in DC with lobbying. I abhor factory beef, pork and poultry and egg operations, and I hate fish farming. Sorry kids, but raising the eggs you buy in your supermarket is cruel, and there's no Auntie Em tossing grain to the hens in the front yard. Beaks are cut without anesthesia and wings and legs break all the time. You don't want to know. But if you do, head to the Mercy for Animals website (No link given because a video will play and I want you to see it willingly; but that's how Nature Maven became a vegetarian!)

I love organic farmers and folks who love the land and the people they feed more than monster profit margins. If they raise animals for food, I don't love them as much but I celebrate those who treat their animals very well and make their deaths as non-traumatic as possible (thank you, Temple Grandin!).

So, go ahead and read the CRA propaganda, click on those links as much as you want, but be sure you read the flip side. Knowledge is power. And, totally anecdotally, this vegan has found eating Oreos and other foods made with HFCS leads to that "phenomenon of craving" addictions experts refer to. I can eat three Oreos and be at serious risk of consuming a whole line of those bad boys. Three Newman's O's satisfy without starting the sugar monster going. Try it out for yourself!

Eliminating HFCS has caused me to carry my own ketchup packs (thanks, Whole Foods!) and always ask for pure maple syrup with my waffles, and read bread and salad dressing labels like a maniac. Shopping with me can be your worst nightmare! Del Monte makes HFCS-free ketchup. Wishbone regular dressings are HFCS free but not their Salad Spritzers. WTF? I have a bottle on the counter now with the receipt attached with a rubber band, ready to exchange for a Ken's no-HFCS dressing spray.

Nature Maven wishes all readers a wonderful Memorial Day. Here's a cute YouTube video on the subject of HFCS:

Friday, May 27, 2011

Vegans, Do You Know Where Your Chocolate Comes From?

The Food Empowerment Project  tracks the sources of the cacao beans from which chocolate is made and lists those who do not use those from Africa where child labor, slavery and other human and animal exploitation are involved. Click here to see if your vegan food products make the list: www.foodispower.org/chocolatelist.htm

The same organization also has a kickin' source of vegan Mexican recipes! Check it out here:

I checked out the 7-Layer Fiesta Bean Dip and it looks awesome! The Swiss "Chicken" Enchiladas use vegan sour cream, Daiya cheese and Gardein Chick'n (or other vegan alternatives). I wasn't familiar with FEP, and thanks to a fellow vegan who tweeted about it today, now I am!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

My Experience with the Eat to Live 6-Week Plan

A little over six weeks ago I began trying to follow the Eat to Live (ETL) plan of Dr. Joel Fuhrman. I saying "trying" because I didn't adhere to the restrictions entirely, and yet I still managed pretty well.
I learned quite a bit over the past 6 weeks.

1) Breakfast: I love green smoothies (and pink ones, and orange and red ones, too) and I have fully established the habit and preference of having them 5 or more times a week. On the days that I have a bagel breakfast, I try to have a smoothie for lunch. That works! I've learned to add protein powder to improve nutrition and medjool dates or date bits to add sweetness. When I'm out of spinach or kale, I use cole slaw mix or salad greens. They all give me delicious healthy fiber and nutrition. I found great new products called PB2 and PB2-Chocolate flavor that are powdered peanut butter less 85% of the fat, only 45 calories for 2 TBS and adding protein and fiber to smoothies and soups. Carrot juice is a must to have in the fridge, and cup of that in a smoothie is delicious!

2) Lunch: Guess what? Salads don't need dressing! I get a huge salad for lunch and never add dressing anynore. If I can, I add some avocado, or a little bean salad to get a smidge of oil to coat the greens ever so lightly. I have learned to enjoy these salads, and I have stopped buying vegan chicken burritos at Whole Foods, as yummy as they are. I have stopped buying and scarfing down a container of vegan chicken made from soy protein. It's too much concentrated food.

3) Dinner: I switched my usual Monday Mexican salad protein from Gardein 7-Grain Crispy Tenders (which are great, but for now, I'm trying to get away from faux meats) to black beans. I sometimes take a couple of tablespoons of guacamole and thin it with lime juice or vinegar and use it as dressing. I make stir fries with veggies and beans, but I must admit I don't enjoy them that much. Dinner is my meal that still needs the most transformation. I am eating Amy's vegan entrĂ©es quite often on work nights. We eat dinner out more than we eat in, truth be told. It's been this way for decades for us. We'd go to meetings and eat out afterwards with friends or just the two of us. On weekends we try to get together with friends we don't see during the week. So we meet in restaurants. Last night we went to Chili's and I got the Caribbean Salad with black beans instead of chicken or shrimp, and corn on the cob without butter. Delish!

4) Restaurant eating: I've learned that I can get vegan food in most places, with a little effort. The chains such as Red Robin, Friendlys, Chilis, and Moe's all have beans, Bocas or tofu options. LongHorn will put 3 sides on a platter if you ask, and sometimes they have margarine in the kitchen and will give me some to put on my potato (white or sweet). A favorite place has become the Japanese teahouse near our country place where the owner makes me an udon hot pot with vegetable tempura on top. Amazing!

A Challenge: We have brunch out every week or so, and that remains a problem because to my knowledge all pancakes and waffles have egg. I've learned to bring in some Earth Balance in a wax paper bag in my purse, but I can't take the egg out. I get a side of home fries with that. Yeah, too many carbs and too much fat, but tasty. I believe I must make waffles and pancakes at home more often. My husband wouldn't object!

5) Snacking: I have largely eliminated unplanned snacks. If I have a vegan protein bar, I log it into the tracker. I usually have fruit or vegan sorbet or ice cream about an hour after dinner, and that is planned and logged in. I try not to even taste a nut or a chip on the fly. It's no good, and leads only to craving more. I like EatSmart veggie crisps that give you 2 cups of crispy treats for 140 calories (look like styrofoam in green, yellow and orange from spinach, potato and carrot) but I make myself measure them and count them and only have for special occasions like baseball or football games. Same with organic popcorn. Nuts? ETL recommends no more than a handful of nuts per day, and since they are high in calories, I don't choose them daily.

6) Weight: I did lose about 5 pounds, as of today. I feel good about this, even though I know others have lost so much more in the first 6 weeks of Eat to Live. Identify, Don't Compare, right? I know why I have not because I still eat vegan foods that are sweet and starchy, and I'd need to lower my calorie limit to take more off. This is as much as I was willing to actually do, but I have seen a growing change in the right direction. Progress not Perfection, One Day at a Time!