Why A Meat Lover Went Veggie…

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This post is for the meat eaters, I understand you and I want to make a connection that is not often made with these two sides. I loved meat, all my life, up until I made big changes in my lifestyle. I don’t attempt to force or persuade anyone to change what they are doing, they have to make that choice for themselves. However, I think its worth a discussion. I was that person who made fun of vegans, I proudly stated that the way they lived was unhealthy and un-necessary. I had no information that backed up my view I just said it. I am certain I posted things and said things about vegans that were very hurtful and harsh. I feel badly about that especially since I am now in the position of the people I made fun of. I now know that people who are vegan and vegetarian most of the time are only trying to do the best they can for themselves, their families and their environment.

So why? Why would I change my opinion on something so crucial? What made me think that what I had always been taught and believed to be true was suddenly wrong? The answer to this question is… I was searching myself because of my own motivation and found the true facts. I can tell you even to this day I am as surprised as you are that I am vegan, but I’m never going back.

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So it all started when I was reunited with the love of my life. Things change when you are a couple, you start eating together, merging your lives together and in turn making life decisions together. We had tried going “vegetarian” once before, but we didn’t do it properly and ended up always been tired, exhausted and hungry. We mostly ate what we liked to call “lettuce wraps” which you can imagine were not filled with any sort of nutrients and did not keep our bodies satisfied. We went from a full meat dairy diet to cutting several of those things immediately. Knowing what i know now, our bodies were freaking out. I can see why it didn’t work then. So maybe about two months in, we quit. That little false representation of vegetarian lifestyle convinced us “we just needed meat.” However we did decide that we needed more real fruits & veggies in our diet. So we started just slowly incorporating more plant foods into our meals. I truly believe this was the spark that ignited the transition that took several years to complete, but was the right way to do things.

So after telling our friends and family that we tried being vegetarian but it “simply was not practical” and “did not work for us”, we set back on a more “regular” diet as we knew it. We did eat meat again, but we were more selective. We choose our meat carefully and we paired it with salads and veggie dishes. Slowly but surely we began to really enjoy some of our vegetable sides, we got more creative and better at cooking.

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Little by little we began to learn more about food in general. We learned what health benefits came from which foods, we tried new recipes. We watched documentaries and read books about different effects of certain lifestyles. The more we learned, the more concern we began to have about the way we were eating. This led to realizations that we really needed to change the way we lived more drastically, if we were going to protect our health in the future. Many of our family members were shocked to hear we were considering going vegetarian again because they knew how it did not work for us in the past and they thought this was just another phase we would be in and out of quickly.

A key moment in our lifestyle transition was when a close family member developed cancer and began treatment. Seeing that person go through what they did. Seeing what it did to our entire family, learning what they went through to attempt fighting the disease. Eventually saying goodbye loosing them to the fight. We wanted to know where this disease came from, what fueled it and what seemed to stop it. Many books and studies on experimental treatments with organic and raw vegan diets seemed to suggest that diet could have a strong effect in the growth or deterioration of the cancer cells that can take over your body. This information linked plants to possibly stopping or preventing cancer cell duplication and processed foods, meats and dairy contributing or fueling the disease. More and more we began to dive deep into information and research.

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The trick was, how do you know that something you read or learn is right and what exactly to change? We checked and double checked all the information we could find on healthy living and the relations or links to disease. Of course there were doubts. However, from all the information we went through there did not seem to be any negative effects from incorporating more plants into your diet so we started there. We learned about studies that showed organic food being far less toxic without those pesticides and chemicals all over them. So we started shopping organic, we bought at local farmers markets as much as possible.

It was then that we really discovered the facts about meat and dairy that we had never seen before. We learned that in a Harvard study, cutting out red meats and processed meats (hot dogs, sausages, cold cuts) lowered risk of death by 20%. That was ONLY cutting out red meat. This information floored us and we decided to make some changes. We cut red meat out right away. Little by little we began focusing on plant based meals and avoiding red meat and as much meat products as we could. Then we learned more about dairy, about how the animals are treated with harsh antibiotics and they end up in the milk, how puss and other substances end up in milk and we ingest it. We learned about the biology of our bodies and why many humans have digestive problems as a result of these substances. We were thoroughly disgusted and this was all before the ethical information came to us about the treatment of animals who produce milk. The forced insemination and taking baby cow calves away from their mothers the moment they are born. It was heartbreaking and we could not stomach being part of this industry any more for the sake of our own health, our future family and environment.

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We sought out all of this information ourselves so I know my explanation in this blog post will not change the minds of others who are meat and dairy lovers. It was really hard to learn this was the way things were. It was really hard, at first, to give up things we thought we really liked. However there was light at the end of this transition and I truly believe the reason we completed it and feel so great about it, is because we saw the potential. The true reason for the transformation in our lifestyle was health. If we could lower a risk of death by disease by 20% by just cutting red meat, what else could we do? If the only thing standing in our way was making vegetarian and vegan food replacements as delicious as the meals we had come to love, then that was a challenge we would gladly accept. The more we cut out the questionable things and replaced them with quality healthy produce, the better we felt. The proof was in the results. We scoured the internet for amazing vegan and vegetarian takes on “traditional meals.” Some we liked and others we didn’t, we even made some of our own and they are now staples in our home. We prefer our vegan nachos or tacos recipes to going out any night!

We are not doctors obviously, I am finishing a certification on nutrition and health, but I do not have a masters degree. I only know what I have read and heard and seen, and of course how I now feel having changed my entire lifestyle. What all this information is telling me, is that we are meant to eat plants. The science and the facts show that we need plants for optimal survival. Eating more plants and becoming vegan, I have eradicated any trace of my asthma I suffered from as a child, I can concentrate better, sleep better, have more energy and remember more accurately. We feel amazing and we only started feeling this way when we found the perfect balance and truly started giving our bodies what they needed to thrive.

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It is so easy to look at vegans and vegetarians and poke holes in their lifestyle because many of them truly, are doing it wrong and depriving their bodies of what they need. They are not eating enough, they are still counting calories and depriving themselves of essential nutrients. The facts are clear you do need to eat more when you have this lifestyle, but focusing on the right things. This lifestyle is not taught when you grow up, its not explained and sometimes its unclear how to do it right. We are not “meatless product” vegans, we do not live on processed foods and vegetarian products. A yummy veggie burger is fine once in a while but its real food from the earth, grown on trees, bushes, in the ground, on vines that is going to sustain true health and that is what we live by.

Until we made sure we were eating enough, plenty of fruits and veggies, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds, we did not feel the best we could. Getting good sources of proteins, (beans, avocado, tofu & tempeh, nuts) and healthy carbs (rices, grains, oats) and all the nutrients the human body needs (iron, vitamin c, vitamin K, calcium, and more) is essential to satisfying your body. It is totally possible to do this as a vegan, meats and dairy are not essential to health. Those products may even inhibit your body from being as healthy as it can be.

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Again we know we will not change the minds of others, but if you are curious or asking yourself why vegans and vegetarians are always talking about food and it seems like they are always trying to convince you that this is the way to go, its not because they think they are superior, despite what many people say. The reason they want to share so much is because they care about you, your health, and the environment too. It takes dedication to your health, your family’s health, and the environment to make these changes and live this way. We have a great deal of difficulty going out to dinner because everything is covered in dairy or served on meat. Believe me, we wish it was not so hard, but we do it because its the right thing for us. Not everyone is ready, not everyone will be able to do this now, or as soon as we did, it takes time. We only share because we believe with proper information people can make changes for the better. Its true just like Maya Angelou said “I did then what I knew how to do, Now that I know better, I do better.”

The world is slowly waking up to the reality of food, the harsh realities of the meat and dairy industries. People are choosing organic, they are choosing sustainable they are choosing life and color in their food. I encourage you to choose for yourself, to discover and find out what is in the foods you are eating. I know there is a chance I could be wrong about many of the things I believe about food. However, when I think about it, adding more fruits and veggies into peoples meals everywhere really can’t hurt right? So if you don’t want to give up meat, then don’t! If you want to keep your glass of milk then do so! You can still make changes without giving things up day one. Maybe choose some organic milk next time you are at the store, or buy a smaller carton. Maybe be mindful about drinking more water. You could choose more responsibly raised meats, learn about grass fed, cage free, antibiotic and hormone free. Maybe visit your local farm and see what they have to offer? Then you are not giving up something you really like but instead fueling your local economy. Just making these small changes and adding more fresh foods into our diets can make a great deal difference. I hope this article does not offend you but helps you, I hope its relate-able. I truly only wish to give information to those searching for it like I once was and I only wish to help those who want the help I offer.

5 Common Misconceptions About Vegans & Vegetarians

Sometimes, the comments I read, the remarks people make about individuals who choose a more plant based lifestyle just makes me so sad. I have been criticized by strangers I don’t even know, I have lost friends, even some family members who don’t respect our lifestyle have made it clear what they think. To think, all this grief and hurt because we are trying to eat more plants and be as healthy as possible.

I remember how I was raised, eating rare steaks for dinner, large quantities of chicken, pork, and fish regularly. In moderation of course we still ate veggies, salads, grains and starch sides. That is completely different than how we eat now. If someone had asked me 6-8 years ago if I would ever consider being a vegan I would have laughed in their face. That is perhaps the reason why this bullying hurts the most, because I know I was one of those people. I was not bold and open about it but privately and to my close friends and family I would occasionally remark on how I thought vegans were a little bit extreme and how that couldn’t possibly be healthy.

That is how I was raised, your family doesn’t eat meat? Don’t consume dairy? That is “weird”, its “un-natural”, its even “un-healthy” These are the types of things I was taught to believe about people who chose to live a more humane and plant based lifestyle. Its ironic actually because my family was very politically liberal so racism and sexism were terrible, not okay, not acceptable in any way. However this idea about a specific group of people seems similar to discriminating against someone because of any other difference.

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As I became an adult and entered into those years where you really begin to understand the world, what being an adult is truly like and who you are as a person in this life, I changed many of my opinions. I was so shocked to learn the truths of the food we eat every day thinking its healthy being told its “balanced” discovering that isn’t exactly the full story. I began to feel very concerned about what I was eating and all the disease and sickness I saw around me. I began to educate myself. I read articles, lots of articles, read books, speak to my own doctor, a nutritionist, and people in my life who I once had thought were weird for the way they lived that I was now going to for information and advice.

Once I discovered I was going to have my first child I got even more into my research. My own parents made comments that I was “going overboard” and that It was “unhealthy” to be this concerned for what I ate and consumed. The more I learned, the more I realized that what was best for me was completely the opposite of what I learned growing up about health. The more I discovered about the meat industry, the dairy industry and what was done to innocent animals with no rights or choice, I was sickened. I was astonished that most people are not aware or concerned about these incidences. I was desperate to talk to people about what I had learned and so because of my passion I was most often bullied and told to stop talking about it.

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I lost friends because of my beliefs. I lost people in my life and I was made to seem like a lunatic because my fiance and I had agreed to give up meat and dairy and try our best to focus our diet on raw fruits and veggies. This was so saddening to me, I felt like I was loosing people because I wanted to be healthy, I thought for sure once they learned what I learned that they too would be on board or at least understand why we were doing all this. Sadly, it was not the case, in fact I think it only made them more steadfast in their choices to continue their lifestyle. People would flood my inbox with articles on how organic vegetables actually hold more carcinogens than “regular vegetables”, articles on how vegans are slowly starving themselves, articles on how raising a child vegetarian or vegan is basically child neglect. I was so upset, sad and scared.

I felt like not only was I trying to make a huge shift in my life as far as what I ate and what I consumed, but I was getting so much push back was it even worth it? The answer was, yes, it was. Even though it was hard, even though people didn’t like it, it was the best thing I have ever done, maybe aside from having our son. Immediately I felt the benefits of eating healthier, I will never go back. I should say we will never go back, because my fiance and I are both in agreement that this is truly the best way to live, for us anyways.

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I want to share a few myths about how we live because I know this lifestyle is not for everyone and I would never ever push it on anyone else if it was not what they wanted. Because I am so sick of being made to look like a bad mother, a crazy person, an extremist in the nutrition department and many other things I thought maybe this list would shed some light on the subject. For those of you who are vegans, vegetarians you will totally agree with these and hopefully be happy that someone said it!! Haha!

1.) Vegans & Vegetarians only eat lettuce:

I have heard this one MANY MANY times… “So what do you even eat….. like lettuce?” I seriously just laugh now when people say this because, not to toot my own horn but I FEAST as a vegan… I think the only explanation needed for this one is a few images of some of our REGULAR meals that are incredibly easy and delicious. These meals could even make a meat eater’s mouth water!!

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2.) Vegans & Vegetarians are always tired and starving.

Again, I would like to refer you to the photos above. After one or sometimes two portions of any of those meals i think we can all agree that hunger isn’t possible at that point. Our meals are focused on plant based protein, vitamins and minerals. We eat a ton of beans, avocados, tofu, tempeh, grains, nuts and of course fruits and veggies. Below is an image of a basic shop for us. With all this food eating ENOUGH is essential to being vegetarian or vegan, but once you have had enough you feel incredibly satisfied without the heavy uncomfortable weighed down feeling that meats and dairy can cause. I can officially say I am not starving, hungry, exhausted, or lacking in any way. Taking one look at my fiance and our son you would understand, my son has boundless energy we cant contain and my fiance is a very healthy over 6ft. man who doesn’t look like he is lacking at all!! Trust me when I say none of us are!

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Take a look at those boys! Healthy as can be and enjoying some apples while apple picking this fall!

3.) You are only vegan/vegetarian to be better than everyone else, that’s self righteous and pretentious.

This is a tough one to hear. When someone completely calls out your life and explains that you are only making this big life decision because somehow it makes you “better” or above others in some way. Aside from the fact that if someone is choosing to be a vegan for the right reasons which most of us are, this is completely not true. I have heard this one on several occasions. Members of our own family have accused us of this and said that there is no need for us to take these actions regarding our diet and that we only do this to seem above them. This is incredibly hurtful to say to someone especially when they are only trying to make the best decisions for themselves and their family. I have had lots of time to think about an appropriate response to this accusation and my best success has come from a very direct and matter of fact calm response. Something like this is usually what i go with…

“I am really sorry to hear that, Its upsetting to me to hear that you think I would make decisions in my life just to be “better” than someone else. I assure you my decisions are not for that reason or any reason like it. I do feel terrible about animals raised suffering only so humans can eat their meat, and I do personally feel wrong about eating meat, that is my decision. I personally believe dairy from mammals is for their offspring only, I don’t feel I have the right to separate baby calves from their mommies, and see animals tortured and harmed so I can have eggs and milk when there are so many healthy alternatives. These are my feelings but I would never force them on you, this lifestyle is not for everyone. I do however, expect that you respect my decision and stop remarking on how wrong you think I am if we are going to stay in each others lives.”

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I really think this needs to stop going around. Being a vegetarian or vegan is hard work. Society today is made of quick easy places to eat meat and dairy products and hardly any places where veganism and vegetarianism is accepted and honored. Its hard to even go out to dinner to celebrate an occasion. We often find menu options for us to be minimal, everything is covered in meat and cheese. I can confirm no one would ever choose to do this just to be cooler, or better, because that is quite a sacrifice.

4.) Its impossibly expensive and costly to be vegan/vegetarian

Yet another thought among many people who have not tried this lifestyle. Its widely thought that its unrealistically expensive to eat vegan/vegetarian diet. I have found the exact opposite! Once we did a grocery shop for the first time without meats, dairy, cheese, eggs, and minimal packaged, processed products we found we were saving money!! Once we were regularly shopping this way we would put this extra savings to more fruits and veggies we liked, buying a bag of oranges to juice and a watermelon for dessert! As long as you are good at budgeting you can make this lifestyle work for you! I have a post on this blog about budgeting a shop and what we spend on average every week and how to keep costs down! Read about that here!!

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5.) You cannot be athletic, build muscle, and get enough protein while on a vegan/vegetarian diet

This is another common one. Honestly if someone asks me if I get enough or how I get protein one more time, my goodness! I am actually fine answering questions as long as someone is being respectful about what I am all about! SOO PROTEIN!

There are so so many plant based protein sources that you can learn to love as a vegan/vegetarian. Here is a list of the protein sources we use and eat in quantity and regularly!!

~Beans (Black, Pinto, Kidney)

~Nuts, Nut milk & nut butters (Peanut, Almond etc…)

~Tofu & Tempeh (great meat substitutes, eaten organic and in moderation are so great for protein and nutrients!)

~Dark Leafy Greens (YES! They contain protein! We eat LOTS OF GREENS)

~Quinoa & Other Grains

These are only some of the excellent sources of protein we use in every one of our meals!! Many athletes, body builders, trainers go by a more plant based diet.

So I am hoping these small tidbits of info, these common misconceptions corrected help those who are not versed in the facts of plant based diets to understand. I hope that those of you who are already onto this amazing healthy natural lifestyle are happy to read this and hopefully agree. I think in this society whatever is different is always going to be strange and not understood. I think people are always going to fear something they dont do themselves, questioning your own lifestyle is not easy, but making small changes is! I would say for anyone who is looking into this lifestyle and is confused, doesn’t know where to start, there are easy ways to begin and see if this is for you! I have a post about starting to get into a more plant based lifestyle if you want to read about it HERE. Thank you all for reading, thank you for giving my words a voice. It feels so good to come to this platform and express my feelings about these issues some of us face and be met with understanding. I know and understand not everyone agrees with me but I know some of you are looking for this information and I hope to provide that.

Thank you! -Alexa-

Avocado, Spinach, Tomato, Pita Wrap!

This wrap was delicious and easy!!

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First I started with pita bread, I sliced avocados and put them in the pita pockets. I spread some hummus on the inside of the pita bread also. Once I filled it with avocados, spinach and tomatoes I also added some peach salsa. It was so delicious!!

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You can customize this recipe with other things you like. You can use different veggies or hummus. Or even substitute the salsa for hot sauce or something else you like. I hope you like this quick recipe!

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Healthy snack tips when cravings hit!!

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It happens to all of us right? After lunch, late at night, it can happen often! We get a craving for a snack.  If we are out and about it’s easy to grab something quick but not always a healthy choice.  I’m going to go over some tips to avoid grabbing those not so healthy craving snacks and to keep you on a healthy track!

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1.)   Don’t buy it: DO NOT BUY JUNK!! This is the number one way to avoid eating junk foods and sugary snacks that have us craving more. Instead buy a bag of apples, oranges, a bunch of bananas. Reach for those things when you are hungry.

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2.) Don’t limit yourself:  If your hungry and you would really like some bananas don’t trick yourself into thinking that you can only have one banana a day, have a few, slice them up and put them in a bowl with some  almond butter or peanut butter.  When I say don’t limit I mean produce, I don’t mean processed foods. Bananas are one of those fruits that are very inexpensive and great for your body so if that’s going to fill your craving then have as much as you need! If you want to  eat an entire carton of raspberries then do that! Many people would say “that’s way too expensive you shouldn’t do that” but if we think about it a coffee and a pastry can run more than $5 at some places where as a carton of berries can be anywhere from $3-$5.  The cost is relatively the same but the benefits are incomparable.

3.) Have healthy snacks on hand: Maybe my pregnancy taught this but I’ve learned that it’s much easier to stay healthy when you have snacks on hand all the time.  I like to have a lunchbox with me in my car full of bananas apples oranges figs and even trail mix.  This way if your hungry it’s easier to grab some healthy snacks from your car or lunch box then run through that drive-through and get that coffee and donut.

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4.) Be creative, try something new: Try a smoothie, there are SO MANY recipes and healthy snack ideas!! Create your own snack using healthy ingredients you love! I love to experiment with different snack ideas and find something I love!!

5.) Don’t be fooled: Many companies make processed foods claiming to be “healthy” and “natural.” Don’t fall for this nonsense. Many dieting companies make snack bars claiming to be under a certain amount of calories, but they are filled with preservatives and chemicals. Even if these snacks are lower in calories than produce that you love, it’s still not healthier. You are much better off snacking on a piece of fruit. These fake “healthy alternatives” actually make you crave sugary processed foods more, so they are the opposite of what you want.

6.) Prepare Food Ahead of Time: Take a little time in the kitchen maybe when youre making another meal and prepare some snacks for another time. Slice some fruit for layer, maybe a pineapple, watermelon. Cut up some vegetables to eat with some hummus. The more preparation you do, the more likely you are to make good choices.

I hope these tips help! Below are some of my favorite snack ideas!!

Assorted fruits and veggies

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Multi grain toast with almond butter and a side of fruit

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Avocado slices with red pepper hummus

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Fruit

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Sliced bananas with raspberries and dates

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Banans almond butter and dates

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Fresh fruit and veggie juice

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fresh homemade avocado tomato salsa

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What kind of healthy snacks do you like? Share your ideas I would love to hear them!!

 

Six Healthy Lunch Ideas

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Sometimes in the middle of a busy day getting a good lunch together can be a challenge. Since becoming a mother I have learned the especially challenging task of juggling a baby and taking care of myself. Some days I struggle to make a simple healthy meal, instead reaching for easy snacks sometimes not always healthy. I have noticed that if I create healthy meals that I crave, then I am much more likely to make time to make those meals then grab quick snacks.

1.) spiralized zucchini and tomato sauce with vegetables

This meal is so simple! I have an amazing spiralizer which takes only a moment to turn a zucchini into a delicious bowl of noodles! I often top it with some delicious tomato sauce and some of my favorite raw veggies. I usually leave the zucchini noodles raw and warm the sauce then the temperature is perfect to eat! This takes no time at all for a delicious healthy lunch!

2.) spiralized summer squash and pesto or tomato sauce 

Just like I said above this easy spiralized meal is so delicious! The spiralized can be used with many vegetable, my favorites are definitely zucchini and summer squash. I often pair this with a dish of fruits and vegetables and it makes a delicious and healthy meal.

3.) fresh raw salad 

Another delicious and quick lunch is a fresh raw salad! I love to mix it up with different greens, arugula, spinach, then adding my favorite toppings, mushrooms, tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, almonds, sunflower seeds etc… This is a refreshing and delicious meal that makes me feel like I am staying true to the healthy lifestyle I live to lead.

4.) sautéed veggies and tofu on a bed of greens

Sometimes I need a little something more filling when I know I will be tackling a long day. I love to sautéed some veggies with some tofu and put that atop a bed of my favorite greens. This satisfies my savory taste craving and is healthy and delicious.

5.) fresh veggie salsa with chips or pita bread

Is there anything better than fresh salsa? I love to chop tomatoes, onion, peppers and sometimes add cilantro or beans to a delicious home made salsa. I also add some sriracha sauce to this amazing meal. I often use some organic quinoa or flax seed chips to enjoy this delicious lunch!

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6.) sautéed veggies and sweet potatoes

Sometimes if I have a little more time on my hands then I enjoy some sweet potatoes. I chop them very small so they will cook quicker. I slice beets and sautéed them as well. This makes a delicious mid day meal. I often pair this with some raw veggies on the side and on a bed of greens. This is a fantastic healthy choice!

I hope some of these meal ideas will work for you too! I will write another article on tips to staying healthy for busy mommies. What are some easy healthy meals that you make for a mid day lunch? I would love to know!!

Tofu, Mango, Spinach Salad

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Sometimes it’s hard to make just the right salad. Sometimes salads get boring. My goal is to inspire people to love their greens, love their salads. My photos aren’t the best this evening, I’m dealing with a teething baby, but I plan to take better quality images later on. I wanted to share this amazing salad that I threw together in less than ten minutes.

We were hungry this evening dinner time was here but we had a long day and didn’t feel like making a huge mess in the kitchen. I knew we needed something healthy, something delicious, something easy.

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I decided to make a healthy delicious, filling, fun salad. I started with a few different types of greens. Baby kale, romaine, spinach and arugula, I find mixing different greens makes it more interesting. After arranging my bed of greens, I chopped some veggies for my salad. I also decided that I wanted a sweet taste in my salad too. I chopped some mango, red pepper, onion, radish, and tomato. After arranging the veggies on my salad I chopped some firm organic tofu and lightly cooked it in some olive oil on an iron skillet. I seasoned my tofu with cayenne pepper, paprika, and black pepper. I cooked the tofu lightly and then tossed it on top of the salad. Lastly I added some avocado halves and walnut pieces to my salad.

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Most dressings are filled with sugar and additives so I’m always careful which dressings I use on my healthy salads. I used an organic, sesame ginger dressing on my salad. I only drizzled a small amount on top of it.

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This bright salad was fresh, delicious, filling and healthy. The flavors of the sweet mango, the avocado and the spice on the cooked tofu went perfectly together. We devoured these salads, big smiles on our faces. The best part was it was easy quick and didn’t dirty too many dishes! We were even able to share our salads with our little guy, he enjoys crawling around from one of us to the other begging for another slice of mango or avocado hehe! There are so many ways we can make eating our greens and veggies more interesting and fun! Hope you enjoyed this recipe more to come soon!

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Berry, Sweet Potato, Spinach, Salad | A Summer Fall Fusion

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We all could stand to eat more greens right? However it’s not always easy. Sometimes we need a little excitement, a little motivation to urge us to eat those greens. I like to make interesting unexpected salads to motivate me to make a salad at least once a day. This salad is a delicious combo of sweet berries, fresh veggies, and the unexpected twist of soft sweet potato as well! Of course as always you can experiment and add different veggies or other ingredients you love.

For my greens I started with baby kale, and spinach. On top of that I chopped some mushroom, radish and onion. I also added some raspberries, strawberries, almonds and some cooked sweet potato chunks. I was already cooking the sweet potato for my little guy so I just added some extra for myself! This recipe is so quick and delicious. The sweet berries mixed with the crispy greens, and the soft sweet potatoes on top, make an amazing fusion of flavor.

This salad is interesting and delicious. Fall is on our doorstep and we are going to be ready for all our favorite fall foods! Let’s get ready for it and put a spin on our green salads!! I challenge you to make yourself an interesting salad this week! How do you liven up your salad? We would love to hear about it!

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Hanging on to the last moments of summer | Mango Tempeh Taco Boat Recipe

 

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So I don’t know about you (for those of you who are on the same season cycle as we are) but I’m trying desperately to hold on to those last moments of summer. It’s been an amazing summer, probably one of the best I have ever had. This was our first summer with our precious boy.

I apologize for not posting in a while, I am sure some of you are dying for more recipes!! Well I have a great one for you today!! However, before that, let me talk a little about what’s been keeping me from posting and how I have been staying healthy on the go.

Augustus and I went to Nantucket, it was his first trip, we have family over on the island. We were in great need for a break and some time with our toes in the sand and our hearts by the ocean. Sadly daddy couldn’t join us because he was busy at home. So Augustus and I packed up and headed to the ferry to go to the beloved island. I had some preparation to do in order to stay healthy on the trip for Augustus and I. I packed some peaches, bananas, apples, sliced watermelon, blueberries, almond butter, clif bars, coconut yogurt, and some organic baby food pouches for baby. We snacked on some fruit on the two hour boat ride and then most of our snacks were for the rest of our time on Nantucket. When you’re visiting family you can’t always count on them having the healthy snacks you like nor do I ever expect that my family eats the way I do and can provide those items. I always bring my own food.

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We did make one stop at the grocery store for more bananas, peaches and coconut yogurt! How did I end up with these children in my cart? So the other huge part of staying healthy on the island was when we went out to eat. I focused on making healthy choices for myself and bringing healthy foods for Augustus. I always chose a healthy green salad with my meals and let Augustus have some chopped tomatoes and other veggies. I made good choices like at one restaurant I had an arugula feta pizza, another night we all had roasted vegetable tapas, delicious yet nutritious!! So I’ll do another post on eating healthy when eating out but I just wanted to share a little about how we did it on our trip. Needless to say we had a wonderful time and were sad to leave. Until next time Nantucket ❤️

So here is an amazing recipe that I have been making to grasp on to the last days of warmth and summer feelings! Mango Tempeh Taco Boats!

 

This new take on tacos is healthy, fresh and delicious! The tempeh veggie stir fry mixed with the spicy sweet tangy mango salsa, is an amazing combo! You can also innovate this recipe with some improvisations. I used romaine for the taco boats but you could use collard greens, lettuce, kale or cabbage even. The veggie stir fry could be made with a variety of your favorite vegetables, and also the salsa could be improvised as well! Maybe add mushrooms to your stir fry or pineapple to your salsa.

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This meal is so satisfying! The tempeh fills you up and the delicious combination of other flavors keeps you wanting another helping! What an excellent alternative to the usual tacos filled with meat and cheese in cased in greasy taco shells. You can get the same delicious idea with a healthy twist! Hope you will try this recipe and I would love to hear about how you changed it to incorporate your favorite foods!!

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Starting healthy habits early | How to raise a healthy baby

 

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When it comes to health, I feel like one of the biggest questions is, “How do I get my kids to eat veggies” or “How do I make sure my kids are eating healthy enough?” I made it my personal mission even during my pregnancy to be healthy and when my son was born to start him on a super healthy lifestyle.

My fiancé and I decided that we would implement an extremely healthy eating pattern for him right away. When Augustus turned the appropriate age for eating purée foods we started immediately. Here is a list breakdown of his first few months of eating, what we did and why.

First Food: So other than breastmilk Augustus’ first food was avocados. We used to blend them with breastmilk and feed that mixture to him! Huge hit! We chose this as his first food because we didn’t want to choose a sweet fruit and ignite that sweet tooth right away, we deliberately set out to create a taste for veggies for him. He still LOVES avocados and eats them regularly.

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Teething: When we knew our little guy’s teeth were hurting we did use some frozen fruit in a mesh teether to help soothe him. He wasn’t quite sure how to use it at first but with a little help he grew to really enjoy the teether and it gave him much relief from his sore gums.

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Fruit Purée: As Augustus began to get used to swallowing something besides breastmilk and he enjoyed the eating experience, we began experimenting with other foods! We thought we would try some fruit. So after avocados we tried bananas. We blended banana with breastmilk, avocado and breastmilk, really any combination we tried was a hit!! After that we got more adventurous trying berry purée and other fruits.

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Variety: Something we kept in mind while starting Augustus’ food experience was that we wanted him to find fruits and veggies delicious and exciting. Sure this is easy for his age because they pretty much eat what you give them not having a preference yet and not using words to ask for something else. Already other mommies with babies his same age have asked “how do you get your son to eat veggies?? My baby won’t touch them” and basically my trick is, offering a variety of veggies for him to try. I always offer veggies first except for breakfast.

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Avoid Processed Foods: So this rule we have set has really helped us expand Augustus’ pallet for fruits and vegetables. We don’t give Augustus any processed foods. So before introducing him to foods we did not give him rice cereal, and as he began to try foods we didn’t let him have any of those baby cookies or any processed treats like that. It is very tempting to let him have things that are easy like that but we have not done it once. We really believe it has helped him gain a great taste for all the fruits or veggies he loves! Augustus has not had anything but breastmilk, fruits and vegetables and a little rice so far at eight months.

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Consistency: Since Augustus has started to really eat solid meals and breastfeeding has been restricted to evenings and sometimes before nap times, we have had to be consistent. We routinely give him a variety of fruits and vegetables and introduce new things here and there. He has developed favorites and hardly dislikes any of the things he has tried.

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Practice what we preach: The last way we have given our son a healthy start to life is through our own healthy habits as well. Augustus is now getting to the age where he only wants what mommy and daddy are eating. Luckily aside from maybe being too spicy our meals are something he can have. He can share bananas and almond butter in the morning with me and have some tomatoes and avocado off of daddy’s salad in the evening. Staying healthy ourselves makes it easier to show our son how to be healthy too. If he is surrounded by healthy natural foods and doesn’t have a taste for sugary or salty processed food products, he only wants what we give him. Our thought is, why give him cookies or muffins or things like that if he doesn’t need them? Why let him even taste those things, and why tempt him by eating them ourselves? This is serious motivation to stay healthy ourselves so that we are setting a good example for him.

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You might be wondering, how do we know these tips are useful? Our son is only eight months old. Well, before being a mommy I was a nanny for many years and was very helpful in getting kids to eat veggies that they typically denied. So sure, we are only at the beginning with his food journey, it might get more challenging as he gets older and develops more preferences but we are still going to use these tips and avoid giving him anything that will start a bad habit. So far it’s working really well and we have a happy healthy baby boy that has not been sick one time and enjoys his food very much!

Below are some of Augustus’ typical meals and how I prepare them!

Breakfast: 

 

Baby breakfast smoothie-I love to blend up fruits and almond milk to make an easy smoothie that he can drink himself. He loves strawberry & banana, mixed berry, and spinach banana.

Chopped bananas and blueberries: I chop up these fruits into bit size pieces and feed them to my little guy who gobbles them right up!

Lunch:

Guacamole-Mommy and baby can enjoy some fresh home made guacamole! I blend up avocados, tomatoes, onion and cilantro with a little lemon juice and voila! A healthy lunch for baby and snack for me!

Veggie blend combos- Many veggies can be blended together to make delicious meals for baby! My favorites are sweet potato, avocado, beets, greens, carrot, etc!

Dinner:

We love to try new things and dinner is a great time to do that! We live to let baby try black beans, chickpeas, different veggies and sometimes rices or quinoa. Augustus loves sitting in his high chair and trying new tastes!

Good luck with your healthy journey for your baby! I would love to hear what you do to help your baby try new healthy foods and love them! Comment below and tell me more!!

Interesting food facts that make you want to eat healthy!

 

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Something I love to do is learn about the different health benefits of my favorite foods! Once I learn about a new benefit there is to eating a certain food I am so motivated to incorporate it into my next meal! I thought maybe I would share some interesting food facts that you might not know that will make you excited to eat healthier!!

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Arugula: 

Arugula is a nutrient rich green that will add an amazing amount of flavor to any dish you use it in! We love to add arugula to a sandwich or our vegan tacos! Arugula is a tangy delicious healthy food! Rich in calcium, cancer preventing nutrients and vitamins A and K there isn’t a reason not to use this amazing plant in your meals! Arugula has been proven to aid in eye health too! Next time you’re at the store grab yourself some arugula to make a salad or garnish your sandwiches for lunch!!

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Mango

Mangos are such a delicious way to be healthy! High in potassium, antioxidants and vitamins A and K mangos are great for your immune system to prevent colds and flus! Mangos are also a pre-biotic, meaning they provide good bacteria for your gut to prevent digestive problems. Mangos are great in smoothies, fruit salads and even added on green salads for a burst of flavor! There really isn’t any reason not to get yourself a mango and start incorporating them into your meals this week!!

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Cilantro

Cilantro is a delicious herb used for many great recipes!! We use cilantro the most for guacamole! Cilantro is proven to have more vitamin C than even oranges!! Adding some fresh cilantro to a salad is sure to boost the flavor and nutrient value!!

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Peaches 

This beautiful fruit is an excellent addition to any regular diet! Peaches have been shown to benefit the body in many ways. The aroma of peaches is said to have calming effects on the body, reducing pain, lifting depression and creating an overall sense of well-being. They are also a great snack that’s easy to bring on the go!!

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Asparagus: 

Who doesn’t love some beautiful asparagus with dinner? Well asparagus is rich in vitamin K, and is proven to help the digestive tract. It’s so easy to chop some asparagus and add it to a stir fry or as a side dish to any meal!!

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Raspberries

Did you know raspberries can be white? These nutrient dense little beauties whether white red or any other color are great defense against colds and flu. They prevent respiratory infections and are full of phytonutrients which lower the risk of chronic disease! This fruit is one of the highest in fiber content. I love to add some raspberries to oatmeal or even a green salad!

KIWI

Kiwi

Its not surprising to find out that such a beautiful fruit is also packed with so many awesome beneficial nutrients! Kiwis are packed with vitamin C and yet another choice that contains even more than oranges! They can also be beneficial in preventing symptoms of asthma when eated regularly. Kiwis look gorgeous garnishing a fruit salad or as a side to your breakfast dish!

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Bananas

I know I keep using this photo in my posts but just love it! We LOVE bananas in our home!! We always get funny looks at the grocery store during checkout because we buy like 3-5 bundles a week! Did you know that ripe banana with brown spots are full of cancer fighting nutrients (TNF). Basically the riper your banana the better it is for you, which is amazing because super ripe bananas are so sweet! They are excellent in smoothies! Bananas are also full of a nutrient called (FOS) Fructooligosaccharide that helps your body absorb calcium properly! Bananas are a no brained staple for our family and my little one’s favorite fruit!

I hope these tips and facts inspire you and encourage you to make healthy choices! What food facts do you know? I would LOVE to know more facts about the healthy foods we love!! Share and comment below!! Thanks for following! -Alexa-