Thursday, September 27, 2007

Still Going Strong!

Despite not being 100% raw yet, I'm continuing to lose weight and so far I am feeling quite healthy. I have become more accustomed to grains and beans and now I combine quinoa with lentils and vegetables for one meal daily. Breakfast is usually fruit. I often have an ounce of almonds as a snack or even with my breakfast, but I'm reconsidering continuing that since they add a lot of calories but only a few grams of protein. I can honestly say I don't miss dairy as much as I thought I would.

Speaking of protein, I've been getting between only 40 and 60 grams daily with this new McDougall-influenced way of eating. Since I have been aiming for 60 - 80, I'm not entirely happy. However, I'll keep plugging away and trying new foods over the next few weeks. The bulk of my protein comes from lentils. Combined with a grain and vegetables I can get a complete protein- this is where comes in handy; I use the recipe analyzer to see if my food combinations give me the nutrition I'm looking for.

Today my nutritionist weighed and measured me. I have lost about 29 lbs, and 54 inches total since early June. Although it's nice to see my clothes get looser, I don't get excited about the weight loss too much. When I lose 50 lbs I might get excited again. However, I was happy with my blood pressure of 110/80.

My goal is still to lose 50 lbs before the end of the year. To that end I started some light weight training about a month ago using a 10-lb free weight. I need to start the cardio again but haven't been motivated enough. Now that the weather is nice I want to start walking outdoors. I've also still got that VitaMix in my sights, and I'm even more motivated to use it since hearing Victoria Boutenko talk about green smoothies. I've tried green smoothies and can't say I like them, but I know they are good for me and will help me on my road to an all-raw or high-raw diet.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Beautiful Lentils

I was feeling pretty good about all the grains I've been preparing, but I have seen my carbohydrate intake rise sharply. Is this a bad thing? According to Dr. Mercola, a low grain diet may be more healthy than the high-grain one I've been working on. Darn you, Dr. Mercola! Actually, other nutrition resources also warn against high carb meals because carbohydrates can increase blood sugar levels. I'm still going to increase my grains and legumes because I wasn't eating any before, but I tell you, it is so frustrating trying to put together a well-balanced diet. You'd think since I'm paying a nutritionist to help me, I'd let her do her job, wouldn't you? I will ask her this week to craft a mostly-raw, vegan menu plan for seven days.

The meal I enjoyed the most today was steamed lentils combined with quinoa. Not only was it delicious, but these two ingredients were very pretty together in the bowl. I loved the textures and the varying shades of brown. There's something to be said for attractive-looking meals! The lentils came from Trader Joe's and are precooked. I prepared the quinoa in my rice cooker. I think I might have used too much water because it came out very clumpy, but I actually liked the two textures together. The picture above doesn't quite do it justice.

So here's what I ate today, for a total of 1589 calories, 56 grams of fat (6 saturated), 235 gms carbs, 59 gms protein, and 64 grms fiber

Breakfast: fruit salad
Honeydew Melon
Kiwi Fruit
Almonds, 1 oz

Trader Joe's Couscous Salad, (1/2 the package)
1/2 Avocado
Hemp seed
Sun Dried Tomatoes
Red Ripe Tomatoes
Spinach, fresh
My salad from yesterday

1/2 Avocado

By the way, Dr. Mercola's article on low grain diets can be found via the following link:

Monday, September 17, 2007

New Recipes

Today I tried to get 60 gms of protein, minimum, without resorting to protein powder. I started with a smoothie with 4 tablespoons of the shelled hemp seed for breakfast. It was better this time because I knew to blend it more thoroughly with my immersion blender, but there was still some texture.

For lunch I had half of a Trader Joe's couscous salad into which I added 1/2 cup of sunflower seeds for additional protein. As a snack I had an ounce of almonds.

Dinner was a raw salad I made based on Israeli Salad (photo above): diced cucumber, tomato, bell pepper, and green onions, with cilantro, garlic, and the juice of half a lime. I also added fresh corn. I loved this salad so much that I am experimenting adding it to different grains and legumes to give me the protein I'm always after. I've got it mixed with quinoa, with lentils, and with millet. I'll try these three over the next couple of days.

At the end of today I was in the 50 gram range for protein, so I ate a handful of sunflower seeds, pepitos, and 1/2 ounce of almonds. That gave me a little over 60 grams, but I got a lot of fat for my trouble. It's the good fat, but too much of anything is a problem, and I'm not sure how a lot of plant fat will affect my rate of weight loss. Although weight loss is not my primary focus, I do want to get 50 lbs off this year.

Thanks, ren, for the Rice Protein information. I hope to avoid using protein powders altogether, but if I decided to use some on days I don't get enough, rice protein powder would help me without giving me soy or animal products. (For those of you who are unfamiliar with it, it is also low carb).

That's it for today. Tomorrow is the grains challenge.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

First Day of Veganhood

My first day of veganhood was not meant to be raw, but I can see that eating a raw vegan diet will be very difficult in the beginning as I figure out how to handle grains and legumes. I'm not sure I'll achieve 100% raw veganhood, but that's ok with me as long as most of my diet consists of fresh, whole, unprocessed foods. I still look forward to a VitaMix and dehydrator to make a raw vegan diet more interesting and easier to achieve.

Yesterday morning I made my hempseed and fruit smoothie. I used the immersion blender (the only blender I own right now) to blend hemp with some orange juice. When it looked creamy enough I added the banana and mango. The taste was... all right, really. But the texture was not pleasant. I guess an immersion blender is not the right tool for emulsifying hemp seed, but I can see the potential for using hemp as a smoothie protein so I'm not totally giving up. I used 4 tbsp of hemp, but I might use more next time, or I might end my day with a second hemp smoothie. Lots of fat in hemp seed, but it's the good kind.

My plan for the day was to have almonds and beans but my day did not proceed as planned. First, I have a friend visiting so we were out until early Saturday morning. I was so sleepy that after my smoothie and some studying for my class, I ended up sleeping again, and missing lunch. I had a dinner planned with a group of friends, but with business to take care of my friend and I decided to eat at Chipotle so that I would get a healthy meal before dinner (in case the restaurant didn't have anything I could eat). At Chipotle I had the vegetarian burrito bowl with only the black beans, grilled bell peppers & onion, corn and tomato salsas, lettuce, and gauacamole. It sounds like a huge meal but it wasn't that large due to the absence of rice. I liked this meal so much that I will definitely work harder at creating a tasty black bean dish. Coincidentally, "Around Harlem" left me a comment with a recipe for black beans (we must be on the same wavelength):

"I don't have a name for this, it's something that I just threw together and it tastes good. The quick easy version is to take a can of black beans, corn and salsa and mix together. You have a really tasty side dish.The healthiest version would be to make your own beans, use fresh tomatoes, onion, garlic, jalapano, corn and cilantro. The ingredient that makes the dish extra special is to add chili powder."

Thank you for the recipe, and for the two others added to the comments to yesterday's post. I would love to collect more ideas from anyone who eats legumes and whole grains- those are the most challenging aspect of eating a vegan diet, not to mention a raw vegan diet.

My dinner was at an Italian restaurant that had a surprisingly tiny salad section: Caesar Salad or a "dinner salad" (nothing but lettuce and a couple of cherry tomatoes). I decided to have the penne and greens, which was escarole cooked in olive oil and garlic, and penne pasta. I drank Pellegrino and ate half the dinner, stopping when I was satisfied. Later in the evening my friend and I went dancing, so that helped me satisfy my exercise requirements. I tried not to think of it as burning calories but it's hard not to wonder if I worked off anything. I do know that as of Sunday morning I am down another pound and feeling healthy.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

No More Dairy!

This is the weekend that I try eating an all vegan, mostly-raw diet- no animal products at all! No protein powder, since the ones I've found come from animals or soy (I rarely eat soy). No more yogurt or cottage cheese. No beloved sushi. I bought my foods using McDougall's list as my guide. He is not a raw foodist; he advocates a plant & carbohydrate-based diet. Some of the foods on his list I'll have no problem eating raw, but others I will very gladly cook. My experience last year with soaked grains left much to be desired.

At Whole Foods I found cooked millet at the salad bar. On the shelves of Whole Foods and Trader Joe's I found seeds: pepitos, shelled hemp and ground flax. The flax is probably not raw, but the other two are. Also, a box of quinoa. Being 100% raw with these foods will be a challenge if I can't find a pleasant way to prepare whole grains, but I'm not terribly worried about this; I'm more concerned with getting all my nutritional needs met through whole foods that are as unprocessed as possible before I get to them.

Other foods I bought include: lentils, pinto beans, mango, bananas, kiwifruit, tomatoes, garlic, scallions, cilantro, avocados, Ezekiel sprouted bread, spinach leaves, yams and limes. These will join the couscous, sunflower seeds, almonds, kidney beans, and black beans already in the house. Another trip to the store and I'll have additional vegetables and fruits to round out my menu.

My challenge will be to see how creative I can be with foods I normally don't eat. I have no real experience with millet or quinoa, and my experience with beans often included smoked ham or, at the very least, sazon seasoning (which I cannot find down here!). I should be cutting back on the salt and spices anyway, because it's good to enjoy nature's foods plain. I'm a little worried about the beans because I know they will be bland. I will definitely need to look up recipes to make this stuff interesting and varied.

I made a test menu for tomorrow to see what the nutritional profile would be. In the morning I have a smoothie with the main ingredients being banana, mango and hemp seeds- simple, and apparently the hemp seeds will make it very creamy. For lunch I have a salad with all sorts of seeds and grains. I have 1.5 ounces of almonds as a snack. For dinner I've got lentils and broccoli, and will probably make a little salsa or salad. The profile looks like this: 48 grams of fiber (I'll probably get sick from that!), about 65 grams of protein, 188 carbs, 76 grams of healthy fat (7 gms saturated), all for 1,595 calories. I think this is decent for a first pass.

If anyone has ideas for dealing with the grains and legumes, I'd appreciate both vegan and raw recipes!!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Communing with Nature

I had a wonderful weekend exploring the natural wonders of the Southwest. The unspoiled desert is truly beautiful. I’ve known since I was a child that I would end up somewhere down here. These are my colors, my weather, and my creatures! I took many photographs as I wandered through Red Rock Canyon in Las Vegas. I don’t ask for much out of life; being around nature reminds me that I really don’t need much. Yes, I must work in order to have a roof over my head, and getting an education gives me more choices in the kinds of jobs I can have, so I must study. I must sleep and eat as well. But on a daily basis, life is pretty simple for me- much more simple than I can make it sometimes, worrying about whether I’m doing something “correctly.” When I’m around nature I don’t think about what I eat, how much I eat, what the scale says, who’s going to criticize my food choices, etc. All of that seems so abnormal and silly when I’m communing with nature. And so I return home after these jaunts feeling more whole and at ease with myself. As long as I am doing what is right for me, I am happy!

Note to Raw Vegan Mama: You are right, McDougall doesn't advocate dairy, but he does list an egg substitute I'd never heard of. It's probably not dairy. I know Egg Beaters are, but I'm just not giving them up quite yet!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Transitioning to All Raw

Boy, was I sick today! I couldn't even make it through a whole day at the office. I'm hoping the problem is just the added fiber in my diet; I started adding fiber over the past few days. I was not well yesterday either, but today I had stabbing cramps in my side, which felt so much like my ovarian cyst attack from a couple of years ago that I was worried. If fiber is the problem, I will feel better soon enough. Adding fiber to my diet is part of my transition to an all-raw life as I look at all the areas in which my diet is lacking and take care of those before going all-raw.

I've been looking at the McDougall Plan to see how I can use that in my transition. I like much of what is listed on his food list, except the pasta. Now, I know that raw foodists and vegetarians don't worry about a lack of protein, but my nutritional history has made me very leery of assuming that simply eating raw will provide me with ample protein. I did a little comparison of dairy products with foods on the McDougall list to see how much of those foods I'd have to eat to get the same amount of protein I get from whey, Egg Beaters, nonfat yogurt and cottage cheese. So far, it looks like I'd have to eat a whole lot more carbs and fat to get the same protein. Seeds would be lower carb/higher fat choices, and beans would be higher carb/lower fat choices. For one cup of nonfat Greek yogurt(100 cal, no fat, 5 carbs, no fiber, 3 sugar, 20 protein) I could substitute:

  • 1 cup sunflower seeds: 262 cal, 23 gm fat, 9 carbs, 10 protein
  • ½ c walnuts, black: 381 cal, 37 gm fat, 6 carbs, 15 protein
  • 1 cup fava beans: 110.0 cal, .9 gm fat, 22.2 carbs, 10 protein
I have more homework to do, of course, but I can see why one meal at the local raw cafe fills me up all day- all the seeds and nuts they use are so filling (as well as very nutritious).

I have now lost 23.5 lbs since June 10th. My BP remains around 120/80.

I have cut fish out as a regular part of my diet (no more weekly sushi- just occasionally) and have added more nuts and seeds. I doubt I will buy any more tofu. The next move in my transition to all-raw will likely be to remove yogurt and cottage cheese, but hang on to the Egg Beaters and whey for a little while. At that point I may move to the McDougall plan. I noticed he suggests an egg substitute on his list- that means I can hang on to the Egg Beaters a bit longer.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Ever Heard of the McDougall Program?

I continue to look for ways to transition to a raw diet, slowly eliminating the dairy foods I'm eating and adding more plant-based foods. Today I was reading about the McDougall Program. It is not meant as a raw diet, but it does tout whole, unprocessed foods, for the most part (and you can eat many of the foods raw, of course). The differences between what he promotes and what I eat now is that he doesn't allow dairy or any type of vegetable oil (I love my olive oil). He also promotes the use of tofu as a replacement for some common Standard American Diet foods, while I eat tofu only in moderation due to the controversy over whether soy is good or bad for you. His diet is centered around starchy vegetables, with fruits and vegetables (green and yellow) making up much of the rest of the diet. He promotes the use of whole grains, egg free pasta and a tiny amount of noodles made from highly-refined flours (he prefers unrefined flours). He provides a 12-day diet plan and grocery list.

What I really like is that he encourages people to get lab tests from their doctors and to chart their progress so they can see the difference the diet makes. Those of you who have read my blog over the past year know that I'm a little jaded about following anecdotal advice from raw food enthusiasts regarding what I should eat. I'm all about trying something new if I feel the rationale is based on established facts and not just spiritual or political beliefs. (I have nothing against spirituality or politics, but when it comes to my health I prefer to eat what my own body responds well to and my lab results show me works well).

So I'm thinking that the next time I go shopping, I may take his shopping list with me and give this McDougall plan a try as a stepping stone to all-raw. I'm concerned about protein, still, but he- like many raw foodists, in fact- is not concerned about protein deficiencies from plant-based foods. He does recommend a B-12 vitamin for long term McDougall plan followers.

What do you think of the McDougall Program? Here's the link so you can read about it yourself:



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