Happy Herbivore Blog

Herbie of the Week: Bethany (65lbs Gone Forever + She's Lowered Her Blood Pressure!)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Herbies

Meet our Herbie of the Week: Bethany!

Bethany has been on a weight loss journey her entire life. From fad diets to portion control to counting calories -- she's done it all.

Then, in May of 2013, something clicked and she decided to change her diet. A couple months later her brother showed her a documentary, which ultimately led her to going plant-based.

Since making the switch, Bethany's lowered her blood pressure, shed inches from her body and cut her mile run time in half! She's also down 65lbs, which she says aren't "lost", but rather "gone forever"!

Continue reading for Bethany's inspirational story!

HH: What was your diet like before starting a plant-based diet?

I’ve always been on a weight loss “journey”. Fad and crash diets, watching portions, counting calories, you name it. I was raised on an all natural/organic pig farm in small-town Nebraska. We ate meat, bread, and potatoes (as well as other vegetables) and drank milk at nearly every meal. This was the norm for me and I did this day after day.

HH: What made you decide to change your diet and lifestyle?

Something just clicked. I wish I could remember the exact moment, course it may have been an array of things: always being the “bigger friend/sister”, my healthy and fit brother, Trevor, asking how my eating and working out has been going (the scale was sure moving up!), having trouble shopping for and fitting into clothes, not being able to cross my legs, or even go up the stairs without getting winded and tired. I battled anxiety and depression and low self esteem from my early teens into my early 20s. My hair was thin, my skin was red and spotty, my mood and energy levels were very low, and I had constant headaches. Then, the click. I was so tired of all that.

HH: When did it happen, the click?

My true and life-changing transformation began in late May of 2013. I was 23 years old and teetering over 230 pounds.

HH: What did you do? What happened after the click?

I changed my diet first, not to completely vegan, but close. My amazing boyfriend (now fiance!), Zane, was so supportive in helping me get all the bad "food" (processed fake garbage!) out of the house and keep it out. I cut out fast food and alcohol as well and started working out on my own. Weight was coming off!

HH: How'd you find your way to a plant-based diet?

In July 2013, my brother, Trevor, introduced me to Dr. Joel Fuhrman via a PBS television special, talking about the plant-based diet.

I thought, “I can eat as much nutrient rich foods as I want? Seriously!?” I immediately ordered Dr. Fuhrman's book Eat to Live and have been plant-based ever since.

HH: What's your diet like now?

I eat anything and everything from chili, black bean brownies (my FAVE!),homemade hummus with veggies, banana ice cream, mushroom soup, peach cobbler, bean and pepper enchiladas, mashed cauliflower, gourmet salads…all 100% whole food plant-based. No dairy, no meat, no eggs, no processed sugars, no oils, and no bleached flours. I take on every challenge to make any dish into a nutritious one.

HH: Did you make any other changes, beyond changing your diet?

In late August 2013 I hired a personal trainer, Keith, to help on the workout end with technique and motivation. I also discovered mud run obstacle courses (Warrior Dash, Tough Mudder, Rugged Maniac, etc). I am obsessed! I have run 7 to date, and am not stopping now. With this new found energy I also got back into jogging, tennis, and running hills. My family and friends began noticing a change in me, and words of encouragement began coming in. I became super close to a long-distance friend, Kristi, who is passionate about health, fitness, and nutrition as well. We text daily workouts, recipes, motivation, inspiration, and the occasional (or more than occasional) fitness selfie. She’s been a rock!

HH: WOW! You are amazing!! What a change!!! Have you experienced any other improvements or benefits since switching to a plant-based diet?

By Christmas 2013, I was down about 35 pounds. Around the year mark (June 2014) I had just passed 50 pounds lost, and to date (October 2014) I am nearing 65 pounds lost. Not "lost", but more "gone forever" since I don't intend on finding it ever again! So far, I have dropped over 7 inches on my waist, 6.5 inches around on my hips, 4.5 inches on each thigh, 2 inches on each calf, 2 inches on each upper arm, and even over an inch around my neck! I have dropped almost 12% body fat. My blood pressure went from 126/86 in December 2012 to 103/62 in June 2014. I started at a size 18-ish and am now comfortable in a size 8. My mile pace went from a 17-minute mile to around 8:20. All of those numbers are still going down!

At this rate, not only am I continually losing weight, dropping off inches and body fat…I am protecting myself against diseases, infections, pre-mature aging, helping prevent cancer, stroke, heart disease, and so much more. I have higher energy, my asthma and allergies are near gone, I sleep so much better, my skin and mind are both so much clearer, headaches are rare. I feel like I discovered who I really am.

HH: You mentioned you were engaged (congrats!) and that your fiancé, Zane, was very supportive of you and your new lifestyle from the beginning. I couldn't help but notice in your pictures together (above) that he looked more healthy and youthful, too. Have your plant-based ways rubbed off on him too?

Zane recently agreed to do a 100 day 100% Vegan challenge with me. I am so excited to share this experience with him. We are almost halfway through and he is down 33 pounds! :)

HH: That's fantastic! Have any of your friends or other family members made a change too?

Others have reached out to me after watching my transformation as well. I love helping others change their lives and overhaul their health. Being healthy and eating plants feels so good, I just want to shout it from the rooftops! I just feel so great about my life and my health and where this road is taking me. I am looking into health coaching, blogging, perhaps writing a book. Stay tuned... because now, I know I can do anything. Whole food plant-based for life!

HH: Any other thoughts or comments?

People often ask me if eating this way is more expensive. It’s definitely more time consuming, but for me I think it pretty much evens out financially, considering I no longer spend money at restaurants, bars, fast food, or on alcohol, candy, chips, prescriptions or over the counter drugs.

Thank you so much for sharing your story with us, Bethany!

The Forks Over Knives Plan Giveaway + Roasted Stuffed Winter Squash Recipe!

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

**This giveaway is now closed. Thanks for entering!**

Everyone knows how much I *love* the FOK documentary -- I still cannot recommend it enough! Watch it on Netflix or YouTube, it'll totally change your life!

Since the documentary's debut, my pals at FOK have released their extended interview DVD, their companion book, and the official FOK cookbook, authored by my good friend and an amazing plant-based chef, Del Sroufe!

NOW, FOK has released another terrific book, The Forks Over Knives Plan.

Here's my little love quote that you'll find on the back cover:

"Dive into a deeper understanding of how you can eat for health—complete with delicious whole-foods recipes!"

This book is a wonderful transition guide in that it goes a bit deeper with the "why" -- explaining what a plant-based diet is, why it works, and what it can do for you. (I mean, they could only make their amazing film so long!)

The book then suggests a 3-week transition period. Week 1 you transform your breakfasts, lunches at week 2, and then dinners at week 3. There's also about 100 new breakfast, lunch, dinner, and desserts recipes in the book to help guide you.

If you're looking for a true step-by-step meal plan, though, the kind where it says "eat this for breakfast on day 1, this for lunch, that for dinner" and so forth, you won't find it in this book. Instead they arm you with knowledge, tips, resources, and recipes so you can create your own roadmap or blueprint.

If you need a true step-by-step meal plan, check out my 7-day meal plans. They're prefect for people like me who need to be told exactly what to do. If you need everything detailed out for you, use the meal plans, and they line up perfectly with FOK advice! However, if you like more flexibility or figuring things out yourself, or you enjoy creating your own meal plans and shopping lists, this book will be invaluable to you!

One thing I'm most excited about: trying their borscht! I've always wanted to try it and am now so glad to have a plant-based version! It's on my agenda for this weekend :D

aaaand I'm giving away FIVE (5!) copies of The Forks Over Knives Plan plus a recipe FROM the book!

Scroll down for the Roasted Stuffed Winter Squash recipe :)

Roasted Stuffed Winter Squash Makes 4 stuffed squash halves

2 medium acorn squash

½ cup wild rice medley

1 cup low-sodium vegetable broth, plus more as needed

½ medium red onion, finely chopped

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1½ teaspoons dried rosemary

½ cup finely chopped carrot

½ cup finely chopped red bell pepper

½ cup small broccoli florets

½ cup small cauliflower florets

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Sea salt

3 tablespoons pine nuts (optional)

1. Cut each acorn squash in half through the stem. Trim the stem and remove and discard the seeds (keep the skin on).

2. Bring a large saucepan or pot of water to a boil. Add the squash halves and cook until the squash is slightly soft when pierced with a fork, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from the water and drain well. Set aside until cool enough to handle.

3. Meanwhile, bring 1½ cups water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the wild rice medley and cook, covered, over medium heat for 25 minutes. (Alternatively, follow the cooking instructions on the rice package, using a bit more water than called for so that the rice is moist after steaming.) Remove from the heat and set aside.

4. Use a spoon to scoop out the inner edges of each cooled squash half to create a wider and deeper hollow for the stuffing; leave about half of the squash flesh attached to the peel. Reserve the scooped-out squash flesh for the stuffing. Set the squash shells aside.

5. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

6. In a skillet with a lid, combine the vegetable broth, onion, garlic powder, ginger, and rosemary. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and cook, covered, until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

7. Add the carrot, cover, and cook for about 10 minutes. Add the bell pepper, broccoli, cauliflower, black pepper, and salt to taste, cover, and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes more.

8. Add the reserved squash flesh and wild rice. Use a wooden spoon to mix the stuffing together; it should be a bit creamy. If all the liquid has dried up, add about ¼ cup broth or as much as is needed to make it slightly creamy. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Remove from the heat.

9. Arrange the acorn squash shells on a baking sheet and divide the stuffing evenly among them. Sprinkle the pine nuts on top.

10. Bake until the pine nuts are browned and the stuffing is heated through, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and let stand for a few minutes before serving. Serve hot.


Giveaway

For a chance to win a copy of The Forks Over Knives Plan leave a comment below about the favorite thing you learned from watching Forks Over Knives. If you haven't seen the documentary, leave a comment on your favorite way to eat squash.

Note: For peeps who get these blog posts via email, you have to leave a comment on the blog on happyherbivore.com. I cannot accept entries via email, so hop on over to the blog.

Thanks + good luck!

**This giveaway is open to residents of the US**

BBQ Ranch Sweet Potato Pizza, Pumpkin Lentil Tacos, Fall Quinoa Bake & More

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: MealPlan

We're ushering in the arrival of fall with all sorts of healthy, seasonal dishes on this week's meal plan!

Pumpkin Lentil Tacos (NEW!), Cinnamon & Butternut Chickpeas (NEW!), Fall Quinoa Bake (NEW!), and Butternut Home Fries (NEW!) are all new and capture the taste of autumn.

Also new on this week's menu: BBQ Ranch Sweet Potato Pizza (NEW!)!

Dig in!

BBQ Ranch Sweet Potato Pizza

Individual Highlights

  • Pumpkin Lentil Tacos (NEW!)
  • Cinnamon & Butternut Chickpeas (NEW!)
  • Almond Broccoli Noodles
  • BBQ Ranch Sweet Potato Pizza (NEW!)
  • Fall Quinoa Bake (NEW!)
  • Kale-Powered Pasta
  • Butternut Home Fries (NEW!)

Get this meal plan now.

Cinnamon & Butternut Chickpeas

Family Highlights

  • Cinnamon & Butternut Chickpeas (NEW!)
  • Kale-Powered Pasta
  • Fall Quinoa Bake (NEW!)
  • Pumpkin Lentil Tacos (NEW!)
  • Tomato Vegetable Soup
  • BBQ Ranch Sweet Potato Pizzas (NEW!)
  • Peanut Noodles

Get this meal plan now.

Pumpkin Lentil Tacos

Testimonials

"Just wanted to let you know I have been so happy with the recipes so far. I never would have thought there could be this much variety going WFPB. I am only into my 3rd week but I'm already down about 6 lbs." Bonnie K

"Since I've been doing the meal plans I've found I'm getting better grades in school because I spend less time cooking, my body is nourished, and I have less stress because I know my meal is waiting for me in the fridge with little preparation, only small amounts of assemblies. I never thought the meal plans would be possible but now I recommend them."- Rhanda P

Get the current meal plan now.