Tuesday, April 9, 2013
"Why I Became A Vegetarian"
People ask me almost every single day "WHY are you a vegetarian?"-- and then they share their desire but struggle to eat less meat. This blog isn't an attempt to convert your meat eating ways, but since you decided to check it out.. I can share with you how I eat and live.
Just a little background, I haven't always been a vegetarian. I grew up eating meat here & there but for the most part, I didn't eat meat on a regular basis. My mother was a vegetarian so we didn't include meat in our daily life, however my dad ate meat so we would always have it on the holidays and here & there. As I got older and into my teen years, I would eat fast food (I used to throw down on big mac's in high school ha!) and whatever else I could get my hands on. In short, I ate TERRIBLE. I continued to eat terrible throughout college and when I moved to New York after graduation. After being in New York for 3 years, I decided to cut out white foods, dairy, sugar, soda, meat, fried foods, fast food and any sweets for an entire month. Shockingly, I lost 15-20 pounds in that ONE month! I was so surprised! I couldn't believe how those things caused so much weight gain. So- from that point forward, I started eating healthier again. I still ate meat but I just became very picky about my choices. I would only eat grass-fed organic beef and chicken and instead of farm raised salmon, I would opt for wild salmon so I started to slowly transition to the other side..
This is me right after the month diet in 2006!
I continued to eat meat for a few more years and everything changed in 2010. I tried the raw food diet. I think that many people are afraid to try the raw food diet or the vegetarian lifestyle because they don't know how or where to get their nutrients. It's vital that if you want to switch over, you have to have a plan. You have to create meals ahead of time or you'll end up just plain hungry & you will give up. In starting the raw food diet, I went online and pulled a ton of different recipes, went to my local Fresh Market & a Vegan Co-Op & I purchased everything on my list. I then when home and started trying different recipes. I was shocked to find out that raw vegan food was actually good! Sticking to the raw food diet after the month is possible but for me and my schedule, it wasn't realistic. I had started traveling more and preaching and I found that almost all restaurants cooked their food in butter so that immediately eliminated almost 99% of the foods I would be able to eat on the road. During that time, I still had the mindset that I would eat meat after the raw food diet.. so I tried to eat a piece of steak with some veggies. What a mistake! I FELT the meat working really hard to digest in my body! I was literally PRAYING that the food would quickly digest. I was tired, sluggish & I had no energy! From that day forward, I decided that I would never meat eat again (or, in a fun way of looking at it: Anything that had a mama or a family).
Through my research of eating better-- Vegetarians have been reported to have lower body mass indices than non-vegetarians, as well as lower rates of death from ischemic heart disease, lower blood cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and lower rates of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and prostate and colon cancer. Not only that, Vegetarians age less quicker because our bodies don't use as many enzymes to digest our plant-based foods. Which means that our bodies will have to do LESS work-- which means that after we eat-- we won't be sluggish & tired! Think about Thanksgiving dinner, after you eat EVERYTHING... you have to go lay down because you're so tired! That's your body working EXTRA hard to digest all of the food you just ate.
I know that in order to do what God called me to do, I need energy. Not only energy but I want to look great doing it-- and I'm not saying that LOOKS are everything by any means because I think your spiritual development is what is most important. However, there's something about getting all dressed up and feeling healthy, working out and feeling good about yourself. It reflects in your confidence and attitude. Eating terrible makes you PHYSICALLY feel bad. Think about a super unhealthy meal like Pizza-- how did you feel after you ate it? Nobody ever says "that was a good idea." What you eat also says something about the discipline you have in your life. Self-control is a fruit of the spirit and we have to make sure that as we bow our heads to "ask God to bless our food & thank Him for it" that the food is really going fuel us as we accomplish the will of God for our life OR are we stuffing our faces with fried foods as we ask God to use the food to "nourish" our bodies?
Just look at your skin-- your skin is a direct reflection of what you're eating. When I switched from being a meat eater to a vegetarian, I broke out for about 6 months! I was shocked! Through research I found that my body was cleansing itself from all of the toxins that I had been eating from the past 20 years! Yuck! And it was all showing up on my face!! So, be sure to pick up a great concealer ladies! It's worth it though, after those 6 months, my skin was back to normal! So what did I do during that time? I tried different products but I ended up going with Murad from Sephora. You can help move the process along faster by going to getting a colonic. Do your research and make sure the place knows what they're doing!
So, what are the basic steps I think you should take to become a Vegetarian if you would like to be one? Here's a few tips.
1. Get a Vitamix. It's like the Bentley of Blenders. It's helpful because alot of the food you will make WILL be from scratch and you need a powerful blender. You can pick one up via QVC and pay in payments, go to Costco & find it for $379 or purchase it directly from Vitamix. If you cannot afford a great blender, its ok. I didn't start off with this blender--I started off with a basic blender & worked with what I could until my husband gave me the ok to get the Vitamix. (He had a hard time with the concept of a blender costing that much & he wanted to know that I would actually use it!).
2. Get a Food Processor. This will help you big time with mixing your foods, like veggie burgers, etc. You can find one at Bed Bath & Beyond (don't forget to use your 20% coupon!) or Target.
3. Google. Google is free, right? GOOGLE recipes! Look up the Raw Food Diet, Plant Based diets or Vegetarian recipes online. Get creative! Try out some new stuff!
4. Get a juicer. I have a Belleville juicer. It costs about $150 but I REALLY want an Omega Juicer. I'm still trying to convince my husband that it's a great purchase-- as it's the same price as the Vitamix. Nonetheless, the Belleville does the trick and there is a TON of leftover pulp but it doesn't go to waste!
Save your pulp & blend it in your smoothie or bake some muffins with it!
5. READ some books on it! I like the 80/10/10 book by Dr. Douglas Graham and The Beauty Detox Solution by Kimberly Synder. Both Raw Food Diet books but they will get you STARTED and provide meal plans. Also, watch "Forks Over Knives" via netflix! It's INTENSE!
6. Water. Water. Water. YOU have got to start drinking water. Juicing and blending is also great-- and honestly, throw out processed-store bought juice and make your own. That juice is packed with sugars! So, up your water intake and definitely stick to juicing/blending. I SWEAR by Essentia- Alkaline water. Best tasting water out there and it actually cleans out your system! I get mine from Whole Foods & as of late-- Amazon.com
7. Pass the test. You will get tested when you go out to eat with friends. EVERY restaurant has a veggie option. I know it may be tough-- and I've even ate at Steakhouses & just opted for 4 side dishes as they didn't have an option for me. Eating meat again is non-negotiable.
8. Ask God to take away the desire for meat & to help you to be creative. Who told you that you're in this battle against your flesh alone? God will and CAN help you. You're never alone. Even Christ was tempted with bread when he had fasted for 40 days. He's been tempted WITH food & He will give you a way OUT if you're struggling in this area. ("No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it."- 1 Corinthians 10:13)
9. Don't get overwhelmed! You can ease into being a vegetarian by being a Pescetarian. Cut out everything but fish & then ease into it!
10. Don't listen to what everybody else has to say. When I became pregnant, everybody & their daddy was telling me that I needed to eat this & that in order to have a healthy baby-- including meat. I birthed a 10 pound 1 oz baby of pure muscle from this plant-based diet. Totally worth it. Do your OWN research & figure out what your body needs. You're going to have to put some energy into this to LEARN. It's WORTH it though and it will soon become like second nature.
As you can see, I've built up to being a vegetarian. I just didn't go cold turkey one day and I continue to learn and research new ideas and meals! And please note that I didn't have a blender, food processor, etc to start-- I just started & worked with what I had at that time. These tools are helpful to make yummy foods so get them at some point if you can.
I want to share with you all a couple of my favorite recipes!
Also, I'm a vegetarian, not a vegan. However, I do seek to eliminate dairy (like eggs) as much as possible.
1. When I first went vegetarian-- I missed my gravy. This recipe is Vegan Sweet Potato Biscuit and Vegan Apple Sausage Gravy After trying a ton of different recipes, I found this one to be the BEST and the base of the dish is Cashew Cream. Which is simply raw cashews placed in cold water overnight and then drained, and blended in your blender with cold water (enough water to cover the cashews + 1 inch).
Sweet Potato Biscuits and Apple Sausage Gravy
Makes 16-18 biscuits
Sweet Potato Biscuits
4 cups all purpose flour
2 Tbs baking powder
2 tsp salt
1 cup vegan buttery spread/margarine, cut into 4 pieces
1 cup cooked and mashed sweet potato (or canned)
1 1/2 cup cashew cream (thick)
1 Tbs apple cider vinegar (optional)
Buttery Spread/Margarine for brushing
Apple Sausage Gravy
1 apple, cored and finely chopped
1/2 package GimmeLean Vegan Sausage, crumbled
4 Tbs vegan buttery spread/margarine
2 Tbs flour
1 cup cashew cream
1 tsp garlic powder
salt to taste
Fresh parsley to garnish
(To make vegan buttermilk, we need to curdle a non dairy cream. This is why I have apple cider vinegar as optional. If you do not have the vinegar, use thicker cashew cream.)
Preheat oven to 425. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
Add vinegar to cashew cream and stir. Let sit for a few minutes to curdle and make “buttermilk”.
Combine all dry ingredients for the biscuits in a large bowl. Cut in buttery spread with pastry blender or pulse in a food processor until mixture is crumbly.
Add mashed sweet potato to “buttermilk” and then add this wet mixture to the dry one. Stir until just combined. DO NOT OVERMIX.
Knead dough on a floured surface a few times and then pat with your hands to a 1/2 inch thickness.
Use a round cookie cutter to get your biscuits ready to bake. Put biscuits on your baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Brush margarine over top before serving.
While biscuits are baking, make your gravy. Start by pan-searing your diced apple in 1 tablespoon of buttery spread on medium-high until it is soft and begins to lightly brown. Remove and set aside. In the same pan, add sausage crumbles and cook until crisp. Set aside with apples.
In a saucepan on medium, add buttery spread and melt. Add flour and whisk to make a roux. Cook for one minute, and add your cashew cream. Lower heat to med-low and whisk until gravy has thickened. Add garlic, salt, and majority of sausage and apple, reserving some pieces of each to use for garnish.
Top biscuits with gravy and then a few pieces of apple and sausage. Sprinkle parsley and share with your family!
****A note on Cashew Cream: I use cashew cream in all of my savory recipes because it’s simply better than other non-dairy milks. The fat ratios are similar to dairy cream/milk, and it’s easy to control the thickness of the cashew cream by using your own high-powered blender. Especially when it comes to white gravies, please don’t use almond/rice/soy milk! Cashew cream has helped me convert many dairy-lovers. If you do not own a Vitamix/Blendtec/etc, you can still use cashew cream by soaking raw cashews for a few hours before use.****
Here's another favorite! I made this veggie burger tonight and it was by FAR the best tasting veggie burger I've ever had (with the exception of a veggie burger I had at a spa in Scottsdale, AZ). I couldn't believe that I MADE it! It was so flavorful! Granted, you're going to spend a long time making it AND gathering everything, but it's really worth it!
1 cup dry TVP (textured vegetable protein) I like "Gimmie Lean Beef Style Vegan Protein"
3/4 cup hot water
1 cup grated zucchini (from about 1 medium zucchini)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup minced yellow onion (from about 1/2 medium onion)
1 medium garlic clove, minced
3/4 cup grated carrot (from about 1 carrot)
1/3 cup peeled, shredded red beet (from about 1/2 large beet)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
2 teaspoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons ground mustard, such as Colman’s
1 1/2 cups cooked short-grain brown rice (about 3/4 cup dry)
2/3 cup cooked brown lentils (about 1/4 cup dry)
2 tablespoons minced Italian parsley leaves
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 cup coarse whole-wheat panko, such as Ian’s
3/4 cup sliced cremini mushrooms
1 large egg
1 large egg white
3 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
7 whole-wheat buns or kaiser rolls, for serving
In a medium bowl, combine the TVP and water. Stir and set aside until ready to use.
Toss the zucchini with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and place in a colander or strainer set over a bowl to drain, at least 10 minutes. Squeeze the zucchini to release any excess water, then set aside, discarding the liquid.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. When it shimmers, add the onion and garlic and cook until the vegetables are soft and translucent, about 5 to 6 minutes.
In a large mixing bowl, combine 1 cup of the soaked TVP mixture, the zucchini, carrot, beet, 1/4 cup of the sunflower seeds, the tomato paste, ground mustard, 3/4 cup of the brown rice, 1/4 cup of the lentils, the parsley, thyme, and 1/2 cup of the panko. Add the sautéed onion and garlic and mix well; set aside.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in the same frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and nicely browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Transfer the mushrooms to the bowl of a food processor; add the egg, egg white, tamari, pepper, and remaining salt, TVP, sunflower seeds, brown rice, lentils, and panko. Process until the mixture is well combined and uniform, about 30 to 45 seconds. (The mixture will not be smooth.)
Add the puréed mushroom mixture to the reserved TVP mixture and combine well (using your hands works best). Form into 7 patties (about 3/4 cup each) and place on a baking sheet. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large nonstick frying pan over medium-high heat. Add 3 patties to the pan and brown on one side, about 6 to 7 minutes; flip and continue cooking until the burgers are crispy and heated through, about 5 to 6 minutes more. Repeat with the remaining patties and serve on whole-wheat buns or kaiser rolls with your favorite toppings.
This is just a couple of my favorites! I also love my Green Smoothie that I drink daily and my Butternut Squash mac & cheese!
Couple easy switches:
1. Lawry's salt to Himalayan Salt
2. Vegetable Oil to Unrefined Coconut Oil
3. Regular butter to Vegan Butter
4. Regular Milk to Almond or Rice Milk
5. Vitamin Water to your own flavored fresh water (ie. cucumbers, basil, watermelon water or lemon water- just place these items in your water for easy flavorings)
6. White rice to Quinoa
7. Fried foods to grilled foods
8. Eat a salad before each meal to help fill you up!
9. Don't miscombine foods. Meaning, don't eat meat with starches (pasta, bread, etc)-- it takes too long for your body to digest it. So if you're going to eat meat, eat it will veggies. If you're going to eat pasta, eat it will veggies.
10. Regular cheese with Nutritional Yeast or Draiya Vegan Cheese
Other quick go-to-meals
1. Coconut rice & plantains with veggies. Just cook brown rice in coconut milk and vanilla almond milk until soft. Set aside. Cut plantains and veggies and sautee-- serve and drizzling honey & celtic salt.
2. Avocado & Tomato Sandwich. Vegan butter on both sides of wheat bread with a little bit of honey. Avocado & tomato inside and place on panini presser for 2 minutes
3. Sweet Potato & Black Bean Burrito Wrap. Cook Sweet potato's by boiling them for 20 minutes. Soak black beans overnight in cold water, cook next day. Mix them together & put them in whole wheat wrap. Season and roll the wraps and place them in the stove at 350 for 15 minutes or until cooked. Drizzle salsa on top & serve!
Pray that this helps you in your journey! Love you all!
1. If you live in Atlanta, I want to invite you to our church. Join us on Sundays at 11:00am at Landmark Art Cinemas. Our churches name is: "The Gathering Oasis" (there's another church that holds service there too). 931 Monroe Drive NE Atlanta, GA- in Theatre 6.
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God loves you like crazy,
This is me just 2 weeks after giving birth! I charge it to working out & eating healthy pre-pregnancy and during my pregnancy!