Happy Herbivore Blog

Guest Post from a Family of 5

Posted by: Andrea Dermos |

Category: Guests

Today's guest post is written by Lisa, a mother of 3, whose family has transitioned to veganism! Lisa was a tester for my new cookbook and I think her family tested nearly every recipe!

I found HH by pure accident...literately stumbled upon it. My dest daughter Chanelle (almost 16) watched the movie Food.Inc in one of her classes at school. After viewing that movie she literately turned into a Vegetarian overnight....(I believe this happened last fall) As a mother, it scared me and I had a lot of concerns. I needed to learn how to feed her with proper nutrition. We are a family of 5 and supper time at the table is important to us, I wanted Chanelle to be able to enjoy a hot meatless meal, so I did some research and joined a group called Meatless Monday on Facebook. They happened to feature a HH recipe one day so I followed the HH link and soaked up all the information and the warmth from the group. We started with the Blueberry Breakfast Cake and were blown away by the recipe! I was sold, and instantly became a huge fan.

I have been eating low fat for years. We all cut out beef about 5 years ago, and we quit eating pork last summer. We were still eating a diet high in fish, poultry, and dairy.We had NO intention of becoming Vegetarian let alone Vegan. I thought it couldn't be done living in Northern Manitoba...we live in a remote location with a limited selection of foods. I was wrong on so many levels, it absolutely can easily be done!! 

We have been following HH recipes faithfully, all of us, for most meals and snacks. Over the past few months, myself and 2 of my children have been strict Vegans. My husband has been a strict Vegan for about a month. Chanelle for the most part is Vegan, but when having a few meals with her boyfriends family she remains Vegetarian. Being a Vegan family fell naturally into place for us, and with the HH cookbook I didn't have to do any thinking, plus everything was easy to make, inexpensive and full of flavor. Being a Vegan family is unbelievably rewarding in so many ways! A huge thank you to Lindsay for her time, recipes and for being such a positive help to our family!

We also noticed lots of changes! First and foremost we spent a lot more family time together cooking and talking about how to be more healthy.I have lost 12 pounds since January, and my husband has lost around 30 pounds. I used to be obsessed with working out twice a day, I now only exercise once a day and I am at a lower weight. I have increased my intake of food, work out less and weight lighter!! That is an awesome feeling!! My husband is completely off of his medication he had been taking for 6 years!! I have been suffering from thinning hair for 18 years and I have tried every shampoo, and hair product on the market...nothing seemed to work. Since becoming Vegan my hair is starting to get a bit thicker, I can't even express in words what that means to me!! 

Lisa, thank you for being a guest blogger here, and for being such a dedicated Herbie!

Green Energy (Healthy, Natural Ways to Stay Awake, Alert & Beat the Slump)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: FAQ

A reader recently asked me; “How can you keep energy levels up in a healthy way? (Instead of energy drinks, etc). You are a POWERHOUSE!”

When this question came in, and I read it out loud, Andrea & I started giggling--not at the question but at the thought of me cracked out on an energy drink. I have far too much energy naturally (Andrea gripes that I’m an evil “morning person” because I roll out of bed saying “hello morning!” with a sunny disposition).

Point is, I’m always perky and bouncing off the wall. The thought of giving me a stimulant is terrifying. I’d end up like Lily Bean the one time gave her watermelon and she started running frantically around the kitchen table to amuse herself.

If I drink coffee, I get so wired and jittery that I feel compelled to go out and run a marathon. It’s true. I should really test that sometime.

Was I always this energetic? Hell no. I used to drink 10 cups of coffee a day and I still felt like a zombie.

What changed?My diet.

When I switched to a plant-based (vegan) diet that was also centered around whole foods, I noticed huge surges in my energy levels. It was a real lesson that food is fuel. The better the fuel, the better my body operates. It’s just that simple.

If I need a kick in the pants, I eat a big salad which is always really energizing for me. I started eating salads at lunch time about a month ago as way to ensure I’m getting variety and plenty of greens in my diet... an added bonus? I no-longer experienced energy lulls in the afternoon. It was as if my salad recharged my batteries and powered me through the afternoon.

If I’m really dragging I go for a green juice, which energizes me in a way coffee never could. Green smoothies (like HH’s Green Goddess Smoothie) are also energizing for me, which is why I like to have them first thing in the morning. They really help keep me focused and awake. I do wake up bright-eyed and bushy tailed, but sometimes my head is still a little foggy. My smoothies erase that.

Scott, meanwhile, swears by fruit. Anytime he starts to feel tired or he needs a boost of energy -- he grabs a piece of fruit. Sometimes fresh, sometimes dried (if he’s at work) -- he swears by it. “Fruit will pick you up immediately. It’s shocking how fast it will energize you.” He says.

Andrea, meanwhile, recently realized that the reason she was a bit slow in the mornings, and sometimes dragged in the afternoon, was because she wasn’t getting enough sleep at night. One morning she woke up bright eyed like me and said “I slept really well. I feel great. I need to go to the gym at night more often. It helps me fall asleep fast and sleep more soundly. I think a lot of my fatigue was from not enough sleep.”

It’s true. I can’t stress how important rest is enough. Getting a good night’s sleep sets the tone for your energy levels the next day.

So to summarize this post -- instead of coffee or an energy drink:

* Green Smoothies
 * Green Juice
 * Salad
* Fresh Fruit
* Plenty of sleep at night.
* Regular exercise.

Do you have any healthy tips for beating the energy blues?

Ask Happy Herbivore: Losing Weight Being a Vegan

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: FAQ

Q: I’ve been having a hard time losing weight being vegan. Any suggestions on what I can do to lean out? Less fat? Nuts?

**This is not medical advice. Talk to your doctor before changing your diet.**

 I find a lot of people operate on the notion that plant-based (vegan) calories are magic calories -- that they don’t count, or something. 

I saw this a lot when I was a personal trainer. I had a client, for example, who replaced her 100 calorie pack of Oreo thins with a box of raisins. There’s no doubt that the raisins were healthier, but the problem was her box of raisins was quite generous so her snack went from 100 calories to more than 200 calories -- not a step in the right direction if you’re trying to lose weight. The solution was simple, I told her to buy smaller boxes of raisins (or measure out a 100-calorie serving herself), but she was surprised when I brought it to her attention. Like a lot of my clients, she assumed since it was a healthy choice, that’s all that mattered.

Another example: I bumped into another client at Whole Foods and noticed she had two tubs of vegan ice cream in her shopping cart. I asked her what that was about, and she said “oh it’s vegan ice cream so it’s healthy.” She thought just because it was vegan that meant it was also healthy. And sure, it’s healthier than your average dairy ice cream BUT IT’S STILL ICE CREAM. Just because something is vegan doesn’t meant it’s automatically healthy.

 I admit, I’ve been victim of this mental phenomenon myself. I once munched through an entire bag of baby carrots. I didn’t think anything of it, after all carrots are a healthy food, but when I later realized how many calories I gobbled up I noted to never do that again. Excess is still excess even when it comes from a good source.

My advice is to really pay attention to what you’re eating. If you eat a lot of high calories foods, even if they are vegan, or wholesome foods, it still will add up and cause weight gain or inhibit your ability to lose. Try eating less. It seems so simple, but it really makes a difference. 

Cutting calories doesn’t mean deprivation either. My favorite way to lighten a dish is to serve it over a big bed of greens or lettuce instead of a grain. Brown rice is a healthy food, but it’s high in calories. I can easily pack away 2 or even 3 cups of cooked brown rice at dinner -- which is a lot of calories. However, if I eat 4 cups of kale (which I’ve been known to do) I’m equally as satisfied, but my caloric consumption goes way, way down.

My other advice is to cut out or reduce added fats. I know this is controversial, but it’s what worked and continues to work for me. Once I eliminated added fats, particularly oils, weight loss was much, much easier for me. There are a lot of calories in such a tiny bit of oil, so cooking with it was really adding the fat and calories on. Once I removed it (and I didn’t notice a difference in my food) I was saving myself 100s of calories a day effortlessly.

I was also really motivated by something John McDougall said in his book  “the fat you eat is the fat you wear.” That’s always stuck with me so when I was trying to lose body fat, I asked myself why was I eating more of it? It seemed so counterproductive. In fact it was that realization that made me start cooking “fat-free” and I’ve noticed that any time I start eating fats in excess again (such as when I went on an avocado binder last summer) the weight creeps back on.

 But again, these are just my experiences and you should do your own research before trying something. For more reading on the topic of eating low fat for weight-loss, I recommend The McDougall Program or Eat to Live. I’ve been a McDougaller for years. Other books that helped me lose weight include Mindless Eating (which I can’t recommend enough) and Volumetrics.

By popular request, I am also starting comprehensive HH meal plans that lay out your daily eats and are based on 1,200 calories (with 100-calorie snack lists so you can adapt the plan to meet your goal).  

Above all my advice is this: Remember to keep “veg” in vegan.

**This is not medical advice. Talk to your doctor before changing your diet.**