This Week's Q&A (Talking Sweet Potato Skins, Acne, Quick and Healthy Snacks, Sugars, and the Vegan Label)

Posted by:Lindsay S. Nixon Category: FAQ

You've got questions...

Q: Do you eat the skin of baked sweet potatoes, or peel them?

A: I eat the skins/leave them on for added nutrition, but it's a personal preference. Kind of like whether or not one eats the crust end of bread :)

Q: I recently went off birth control and my skin has just become absolutely horrible. I break out constantly; I'm vegan. Have you heard of this? 

A: First let me say I'm so sorry you're dealing with this — I suffered from embarrassing acne for years.

What I can tell you is that acne is typically related to diet, but some women do experience acne after going off birth control. I'm not a doctor, but I imagine going off birth control can cause some hormonal shifts in your body and hormones can also cause acne. I always get a pimple or two around my period (I'm not on birth control, haven't been for years) no matter how perfect my diet.

Being "vegan" was not enough for me to get rid of my acne. (Btw, dairy is the biggest "culprit" for acne). I also had to get rid of oil. Any little bit of oil and I break out. Too many added fats (like avocado) do the same to me (and several of my clients). Soy (especially processed soy) can be a trigger for some people, but it's not as common. Usually I tell my clients to try removing the dairy, animal foods, oils, fats, and if it still persists, then to try eliminating soy. And if that doesn't work, all common allergens like wheat and corn.

Of course there could be a medical issue going on too — like a bacteria, so you might want to consider visiting your dermatologist. I also find washing my face with baking soda and not using "products" on my face really helps. Oil-based makeup, suntan lotion, etc. is OUT of the question. I have such oily skin naturally (being Mediterranean) that I don't need any help, but that's just my skin type. 

Q: What do you eat when you don't have time to cook (or you're alone and you don't want to make the mess, etc.?) I know your recipes are quick, but what do you eat for a snack that's not processed? Anything besides raw fruit and veg? 

A: I follow my meal plans. You cook everything for the week in 2-3 hours and then grab and go all week so it doesn't matter if I'm not in the mood to cook :) It's already done :) 

You can always do simple things like bean burritos, or beans and rice with salsa, or PB&J, or frozen stir-fry veggies in the microwave with soy sauce, etc. I don't really eat snacks. I tend to eat a big meal that holds me over until my next meal. We have snacks on the meal plans, and I usually loop those into my meals. Once in a while, I might find myself a little hungry before my next meal time and I'll grab something small like an apple, a stick of celery, a carrot or a slice of toast, or whatever is around really. I always have cooked grains and cooked potatoes in the fridge, so I'll grab those sometimes if I'm going on a hike or running errands for several hours. I'm bad about mindless munching, so I avoid snacking.

Hope that helps!

Q: My store only has powdered and brown sugar. Is there a difference in sugars?

A: See my post, "Everything You Ever Need to Know About Low-Fat (Oil-Free) Vegan Baking (Gluten-Free Tips Included!)" for help :)

Q: I feel like I've combed the internet, but I can't get a straightforward answer to my question! If I read the entire ingredients list to something, for instance: whole-wheat tortillas, and there are no animal by-products on the list and no allergen warnings for dairy or anything, is it still considered 'vegan'? Even if it doesn't have a symbol or a marking saying it's vegan?

A: Unfortunately there is no straight-forward answer. It would depend on the individual's belief and understanding of the word "vegan." For example, a vegan friend of mine will eat anything as long as the product does not contain animal ingredients (i.e., milk or eggs). However, her boyfriend is much more strict and also will not eat anything that's prepared in a facility/shared equipment with animal products. 

So if a corn tortilla was just corn and water, but "may" contain traces of milk or was processed in a facility that also processes milk, he would not eat it, but she would. 

Similarly, some of my vegan friends abstain from white sugar because it is processed through bone char while others will eat white sugar because there is no bone or animal product in the sugar, etc. etc. 

Items that are labeled "vegan" have generally gone through some kind of special inspection, just like foods labeled "organic" or "kosher," but just because something is not labeled "vegan" doesn't mean it's NOT vegan. Perhaps the manufacturer didn't feel like paying for the certification, or perhaps it uses shared equipment, or perhaps they can't source the sugar, or hundreds of other possibilities. 

Everyone has to find their own balance and interpretation they can live with, IMHO.

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