Monday, April 18, 2016

Earth Bites for Earth Day

Earth Day is this Friday (April 22nd, 2016)!

Disclaimer:  Graphic pictures are used.

I have always loved this day of celebration for Earth.  It is our home, our breath, our food, and so much more.  It brings us happiness when the sun is shining warm on our face, sunsets make us feel all warm and fuzzy inside, and with each passing season we get to see all cycles of life.  With each passing human generation, the earth changes.  Change is and can be a good thing, but it can also lead to increased danger and disease.

The main reason I initially was drawn to a plant-based diet was for weight loss/health.  Once I began eating unlimited fruits and vegetables with loads of whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, my eyes were opened to the huge impact our diets have on the planet.  Protecting the environment is just one of the several reasons I have stuck to this lifestyle for nearly 4 years now.

According to a recent article in Science Daily, research is showing that "climate change could kill more than 50,000 adults in 2050 world wide due to changes in diets and body weight from reduced crop productivity..." (1).
The good news is that by making simple changes to the food we put in our mouths several times per day, we just might be able to slow down (maybe stop or reverse when other factors are added in!!) climate change. (2)

Have you thought about the fact that it takes water and food to "raise" the animals that people use for food?  That we use tractors (that use fossil fuels and expel CO2) to plow, plant, fertilize, water, and harvest our crops?  What about all the manure produced from livestock farms?

Here are a few fun facts for you (3):
  • Around 30% of the world's ice-free surface is used to grow food for livestock (pigs, chickens, cows, etc.)
  • In North America and Europe, a cow consumes about 75 to 300kg (34-136lb) of grasses or produce 1kg (2.2lb) of meat produced. Seems a bit inefficient to me...
  • "Each year the livestock sector globally produces 586 million tons of milk, 124 million tons of poultry, 91 million tons of pork, 59 million tons of cattle and buffalo meat, and 11 million tons of meat from sheep and goats. That 285 million tons of meat altogether — or about 36 kg (80 lb.) per person, if it were all divided evenly. It’s not — Americans eat 122 kg (270 lb.) of meat a year on average, while Bangladeshis eat 1.8 kg (4 lb)."

Beyond the fact that I don't condone eating animals, none of these things are inherently bad on their own (in terms of emissions produced).  The issue arises when there are so many of these facilities (not just farms) producing these gases in quantities our planet can just not handle.

By reducing the amount of meat and dairy one consumes (or eliminating it all together!!), the emissions produced would decrease by 1230 kilograms or 1.4 US tons per year (2)!!  If you ask me, that is a pretty simple switch.

To help you start your journey towards helping this beautiful planet we all live on together, I have created a delicious, quick, and easy recipe just for you!  This recipe can be used as a snack or even as a meal!  It is also 100% plants.  To make the recipe even more environmentally friendly, be sure to use local and organic ingredients as much as possible.  For example, instead of buying processed nut butter, buy your favorite type of nuts from a farmer's market and blend them up at home.)

Earth Day Bites

You will need:
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1 cup unsweetened dried fruit (like dates, raisins, etc.) 
  • 1/2 cup raw nuts/seeds (like walnuts, cashews, or chia seeds)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
In a food processor or blender, dump in all of your ingredients and blend until sticky.  Scrape down the sides as necessary.  Feel free to add in any other flavors of choice like lemon zest, cacao nibs, or coconut flakes!   When the mix it ready,  it should be able to be molded into a ball easily.  Make several bite-sized pieces, then pop into the fridge for at least 30 minutes.  This will help the bites stay together more easily.  Option:  Before serving, roll the bites in chia seeds, coconut flakes, or cocoa powder for extra pizazz.  Share with friends! ...or not...I won't judge :)
The earth is our home.  It is the only one we have, for now, so why not take a small step towards making it as great as it can be.  Not only will eating more plants protect the animals, trees, and planet; it will also increase your own health as well!  Remember, I am not asking for perfection, but the next time you are about to make a meal or sit down at a restaurant, think about the impact your food choices have on the world...and order a veggie burger instead.

What is your favorite way to celebrate Earth Day?  Leave a comment and let me know!


Monday, April 11, 2016

5 tips For Mindful Eating

I'm sure, by now, you have heard of mindful eating. But, have you tried it? Do you know what it is or how it works?

Let's take a step back for a moment and define mindfulness. Mindfulness is a practice that involves being present and aware of what is happening right now, in this moment. It can be applied to all sorts of scenarios like during exercise, at work, writing a paper, brushing your teeth, and even eating. For the sake of keeping this post concise and on topic, I will be focusing on just the eating aspect of mindfulness.  But, leave a comment letting me know what other topics you'd like to learn how to apply mindfulness to and if it fits within the context of this blog, I just might do another post about it!

To apply a mindfulness technique to your eating routine is very slow down.  Ok, you caught me, that is not so easy!  Just ask my husband, when I am hungry, I eat VERY fast.  So fast, sometimes, that I have finished my bowl of food before my brain and stomach have even registered that I have eaten!

I know I am not the only one who gets like this, so I have created a checklist of 5 things to keep in mind while you enjoy a meal.  Before we get into that, though, I want to let you know that you do not have to do all of these at every meal, unless you are ready for it!  For most of us, it is beneficial to start with being aware of just one of the items below for a few weeks.  Once your body and mind get comfortable with this new task during meal time, it will be easier to keep introducing more.  Just like with exercise, you don't want to take on too much in the beginning.  This can lead to stress and burnout which will mitigate the positive effects this practice can have on health like improved digestion and absorption of nutrients.

So, without further adieu, here are my top 5 tips for Mindful Eating:

Have you practiced mindful eating before?  Let me know what has worked for you in the comments!

Monday, April 4, 2016

Four Tips to Cleansing That WORKS!

I can't believe it has been nearly a month since posting!!  Time does sure fly...

But, I will now (hopefully) be back on track.  You can, once again, look forward to a weekly post every Monday from yours truly!

Now to get into what you really came here for...let's talk about cleansing!

I have several thoughts on this topic; some for and some against.  What it really comes down to is your personal intention behind cleansing and what type of cleanse you are doing.  There are so many types of cleanses out there!  Options include: juice cleansing, mono-meals, water fasting, detox drinks/supplements, and the list goes on.  But, this post is not about the different types of cleanses, instead, it is about the pros and cons of such things.

I will start with the negative side of cleansing (better to end on a positive note!):

  • Many times, cleanses or detox diets restrict calories/energy intake to bare minimum.  A four year old child couldn't even live off this low of calories for an extended period of time.  Reducing calories so low can put the individual at risk for a messed up metabolism in the future.  Plus, you will more than likely be cranky/hangry and no one enjoys that...
  • Many cleanses/detox diets are low in fiber.  Fiber is what helps to make you feel full.  Not only that, but it is also part of your body's natural detox pathway...digestion!  The whole reason you excrete waste products is because your body is already cleaning out your blood stream and intestines to rid it of toxic waste like heavy metals and byproducts of metabolism.
  • That bring me to my next point...your kidneys, liver, pancreas, gallbadder are all part of your body's cleansing mechanism.  If you want to cleanse your body, eat healthy foods and exercise so these organs stay strong and healthy and do what they are meant to do!
  • The intention one sets (i.e. mindset) also plays a large role in determining whether or not a cleanse is healthy.  If someone is doing a cleanse for weight loss or other aesthetic reasons, they may be disappointed upon conclusion of the cleanse.  For example, when the body is fed such a low amount of calories, metabolism can begin to slow to compensate and reduce risk of starvation.  Once proper food intake is reintroduced, it may be hard to "control" one's appetite and excess calories are easily stored as fat.
Ok, enough with the negative, on to the positive sides of cleansing:
  • Cleansing can feel great!  When done the right way (i.e. eating enough calories), cleansing can be very healthy for the body.  One type of "cleanse" that I have found beneficial is one in which unlimited fruits and vegetables are consumed.  This high fiber, high water, high nutrition way of eating brings energy to the cells and is easy to implement into an individual's normal eating pattern.
  • As mentioned above, a proper mindset to cleansing is important.  Instead of focusing on weight loss or muscle definition, a cleanse is more of a spiritual journey and a way to give the body a boost of nutrition.  Adding fresh fruits and vegetables to a person's diet is just one way to do this.
  • Drinking more water.  Our bodies are made up of so much water.  Staying properly hydrated (which means different amounts for everyone based on activity, climate, and body size) is one simple way to ensure body functions remain healthy.
  • Exercising can be considered a form of cleansing because it gets the blood flowing, which in turn is filtered through the liver and kidneys.  This is natural detox at its finest!
If you have any other questions about cleansing, be sure to leave a comment below or on one of my social media pages (Twitter or Instagram) and I will include your questions in my first LIVE CHAT on April 23rd at 9am CST.   CLICK HERE TO REGISTER for this FREE EVENT!