6 Months of Natural Living

It’s been over 6 months since we first made the shift to a more natural lifestyle, so I figured it’s time for an update now that we’ve had time to settle in and decide what works for us and what doesn’t. In general, I’m really really proud of how well we’ve stuck to a lot of the adjustments, and I’ve come to terms with the idea that everyone has their own comfort level with natural products, and that is completely 100% okay!! I see superwomen on Instagram who are making their own soaps, their own almond milk, and reusing the pulp from their juices to make muffins and you better believe I am cheering them on every step of the way. That is not my thing, and that’s okay. I’m really happy with where we are now, and the slow and steady path we took to get here. Continue reading


vegan so far

Surprisingly enough, Brian and I really haven’t had that many issues with cooking since we’ve stopped eating animal products. We generally cook meals that are veggie heavy anyway, so the biggest thing we’ve had to change is not using butter or cream. Instead of trying to use a substitute for meat, we just don’t include it in our normal recipes and so far it’s been fine. I’m trying to be better about using beans and grains in our meals since they’re so protein-packed, but lately I’ve been using canned beans while I get more comfortable cooking them from dry.

A few of the meals we’ve really liked are…

Butternut squash soup
Soba noodles with Chinese broccoli
Veggie enchiladas
Veggie quesadillas
Whole Foods fried tofu with mashed potatoes
Thai Curry

Some things we have not at all liked even a little bit are…

Homemade fried tofu. Gross. It’s totally worth it to just buy the pre-cooked stuff at the Whole Foods hot bar.
Fake sausages. They taste like cardboard.
Fish sauce broth. Don’t ask, it was a failed attempt.

We’re still meal planning too, and it is an absolute godsend since it forces us to be proactive about finding recipes. I currently have about 8 cookbooks checked out from the library and I’m just going through and stealing recipes I like. We also did a giant (like 3 whole bags) Trader Joes run and bought pretty much every frozen vegan dinner they have so that we have some last minute options.

Our fridge/freezer are mostly cleared out of animal products, except for like one lonely stick of butter and some frozen meat. Brian is “reducing his intake” instead of cutting out like me, so these will probably still get eaten 😉

I’m going to start posting some recipes on here… NOT FOR YOU, OKAY? I’m not a food blogger. The posts are 100% for me, because I find myself referencing my OWN blog fairly often, trying to remember the great ideas I once had. But…. feel free to give some of them a try.

Just because I’m sure you’re all dying to know how I really feel.

Our New Plant-Based Diet

Every once in awhile, something catches my attention and I get sucked down a crazy rabbit hole, obsessing over it. My post on natural living was the last time this happened, and I’m honestly really impressed with how well we’ve stuck to those changes we made in our lives. I’ve always known the next step in natural living is food-based, but it seems like such a massively overwhelming life shift, so I keep putting it off.
This past weekend, we were flipping through Netflix looking for something to watch, and we landed on What The Health, a documentary on the health benefits of eliminating animal products from your diet. Cue the rabbit hole. We were equally interested in the science behind a plant based diet and disappointed in society for trivializing and hiding the effects that meat and dairy have on our bodies. Like most health documentaries, What The Health takes some liberties with the emotional and social reasoning, and there are always some claims that deserve a second look or deeper investigation. So there went our entire weekend.

What The Health was a great simple starting point for us to jump into this topic, since it touched on the health benefits related to diet and disease, the economic and political factor, and the animal activist side. For both of us, the political aspect was horrifying, but the health side is what made it impossible for us to ignore. An hour of basic research showed me the incredible connection between autoimmune diseases and an animal-based diet, and another hour looped in the importance of treating your gut first and foremost. Every time I made a new connection, my mind was running a million miles an hour, trying to think 5 steps ahead. If I cut this out, what are the pros and cons and how will it affect everything else? I know now that meat and dairy are bad, but what about gluten? What about sugar?! We can’t cut EVERYTHING out…
Thankfully, Brian is incredibly even-minded and I stopped to ask him if I was getting too carried away. Both of us definitely want to be more conscious of our food choices, but he agreed that maybe we don’t need to jump to the extremes right away. I’m ready to give up meat and dairy entirely, but we agreed to continue eating our normal diet while we finish up what’s already in the fridge and keep researching plant-based diets. (We did decide to change up our meal plan for this week though, and have veggie tacos instead of beef.)

The more I read, the more clear it becomes that cutting meat and dairy out of your diet isn’t just a black and white standalone decision. Our bodies aren’t designed for such blunt changes, and it’s important to keep in mind that everything we eat has a domino effect on the way our bodies react. Nutrients need other nutrients and the right environments to be properly utilized by our bodies, and the most important part of a diet is for it to be balanced. The ultimate goal is to provide our bodies with the best suited foods so they can run as efficiently as possible. A lot of nutritionists and doctors have published what they consider to be the best diet, but as long as there are discrepancies, I’m going to continue to do my own research.

Researching diets is terrifying. Every article declares that this diet is the best, but there’s no way of knowing if the author has provided the full spectrum of information including the pros and cons. I spent a good amount of time this weekend, walking up and down aisles of books about “diets.” Every time I picked up a book and read a few pages, I was cautious and skeptical that I was getting the full story. I tended to select books written by doctors and scientists, since I trust numbers and studies. We’re at an advantage in this research stage since we both feel very comfortable in the kitchen, and I was able to avoid the cookbooks and focus on research, knowing that our hurdle won’t be the actual cooking. I picked up a book about our gut, a book about eating vegan, a book about reducing meat and dairy intake, and a book on wheat to round out the spectrum. This week is going to be enlightening for me, and I hope it’s the start of a better way of eating for us.

My quick takeaway that has had the most impact for me so far is this:
Our bodies are not equipped to efficiently handle meat and dairy products. In response, our bodies produce antibodies which are most commonly known for fighting infections and viruses. In the case of animal products, our body produces a specific antibody to fight the harmful dairy and beef proteins that get into our blood stream. While the antibodies are looking, they find a similar amino acid on other tissues within our bodies, and begin to fight them, thinking they are the harmful proteins they were looking for. This is the basis of autoimmune diseases. Also, obviously, I am not a nutritionist, nor a doctor or a scientist, and I probably explained the details poorly, so do your own research.

Some of the questions I want to answer this week are:
Braggs Amino
Nutritional Yeast
Bee Pollen
Eggs? At all?

John McDougall MD on Autoimmune Disease and the Impact of Diet
Dr. Terry Wahls
What the Health
Eat Dirt by Dr. Josh Axe
The Cheese Trap by Dr. Neal D. Barnard

Oh She Glows – also ohsheglows.com (this has been one of my favorites for a long time!)
Thug Kitchen

ps… you know what’s a scary word? VEGAN. I’m not a fan of the stigma or pressure that goes along with it, so I’m holding off for now. Plus, we’re going to continue eating fish so I guess technically we aren’t reallllllllllyyyyy vegan. Just vegan-ish.