Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Review: Gluten Free and Vegan at Sandals Emerald Bay, Bahamas (Part 1)

Vacations, while rejuvenating, can actually be a little stressful if you're trying to follow a gluten free, vegan diet. Doubly so if you have additional dietary restrictions like I do. (Low fat, soy free, and oat free, just to name a few.)

So when Jeff and I vacation, we usually make most of our own food. But we've been dreaming of a trip to the Caribbean for years, so when we had the opportunity to take one (thank you to my in-laws for the amazing Christmas gift!), cooking and doing dishes weren't on the itinerary.

In fact, we wanted to do as little as possible except soak up the sun and enjoy ourselves. So after hours of research, I came up with Sandals all-inclusive resorts, because they cater to customers with dietary restrictions.

Since I have an irrational fear of going hungry, I watched (and rewatched) Sandals' dietary restrictions video, read reviews on TripAdvisor, and even called Sandals to ensure that they really could handle food sensitivities. Then, with some trepidation, Jeff and I took the plunge and booked a room at Sandals Emerald Bay in the Bahamas.

Review: Gluten Free and Vegan at Sandals Emerald Bay, Bahamas (Part 2)

Five days of food and fun at Sandals Emerald Bay

After our busy first day, we spent the rest of our vacation relaxing, playing in the surf, and eating amazing food. Our daily itinerary looked something like this:

  • Walk the beach and watch the sunrise
  • Enjoy a tasty plant-based breakfast
  • Lounge by the quiet pool and read
  • Eat lunch, custom-designed by a resort chef
  • Hit the beach for water sports, swimming, and relaxing with a cold drink
  • Savor a four-course dinner

It was a tough life, but someone had to live it! Since I know you're here for the eats, though, I'll jump right into the good stuff...

Monday, March 17, 2014

What's Your Favorite Healthy St. Patrick's Day Treat?

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Given how much sticking to a low-fat, plant-based diet over the past two months has reduced my breast pain (thank you Dr. Neal Barnard and Foods That Fight Pain), I've been really good about staying the course. That said, for me, St. Patrick's Day always brings to mind a host of unhealthy traditions that—I confess—I miss. 

Green beer and green cupcakes, for example, top the list!

So while green smoothies are great (in fact, I plan on starting my St. Patty's Day with one), I'm finding myself having pangs for addictive green treats.

That said, I don't want to go there! I've been doing too well to get back on the junky, emotional-eating roller coaster.

So I'm asking you, healthy plant-based diva (or dude), for suggestions: What's your favorite healthy St. Patty's Day treat?

Whether it's traditional Irish fare with a vegan twist or your favorite green dish, tell me about it! Bonus points if you leave me a link to your recipe so I can try it out. Can't wait to hear your suggestions!
Image credits:
Shamrock: By graymalkn, [CC-BY-2.0] via Wikimedia Commons
Cupcakes: By tonydolor, [CC BY-ND 2.0] via Flickr
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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Energizing Kale Smoothie with Orange and Pear (Vegan)


Need an energy boost? This kale smoothie with orange and pear is for you!

Another creation from my Adventure Cleanse days, this smoothie, bursting with fresh kale, tender spinach, sweet pear and juicy orange will make you feel like a million bucks.

Superhero Nutrition

I don't know if it's the immune-boosting vitamin C (298% of your daily value!), the hefty dose of lutein for laser vision, or the fiber to keep things, ahem, "moving," but whatever it is, this puppy will make you feel like superwoman! (Or superman; we don't discriminate here. ;-) )

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

10-Minute Black Bean Taco Recipe (Low Fat, Vegan)

Lately it feels like I have about a dozen plates spinning at once. As always, there's the coursework I'm completing for my registered dietitian certification, freelancing, volunteering, and an exciting new project in the works that I hope to tell you about soon! On top of that (and attempting to have a little bit of a social life), this week I'm embarking on a journey I've been meaning to take for oh, say, a decade now.

I'm joining Toastmasters.

Yep, Toastmasters. If you're not familiar with the organization, its goal is to help its members improve their speaking and presenting skills in a "no-pressure atmosphere."

Thursday, February 20, 2014

How to Make Good Habits Stick (Part 1)

Last week I wrapped up Kris Carr's 21 Day Adventure Cleanse! I think I did pretty well (if I don't say so myself), and I got so much more out of it than just a spruced-up diet. In fact, I learned how to make big changes with little effort, and how to make those changes stick.

But before I share my strategies with you, in case you're curious, here's what a day of "cleanse food" looked like. (Actually a sampling from different days, because I wasn't great about taking pictures):

Breakfast: tasty green smoothie (as much as 32 ounces!), loaded with fresh fruits and veggies like cucumber, kale, spinach, honeydew, and mango.

Lunch: Salad, beans, whole grains, and fruit. (This one was from Whole Foods, although I usually made my own).

How to Make Good Habits Stick (Part 2)

Photo by Worldizen used under Creative Commons License
(Continued from Part 1)

So you're ready to make a healthy change? Taking the plunge and "going public" can make your new habitand sticking with ita snap.

5 Ways taking a stand supports the healthy new you

1. Reduced brain strain. During the cleanse, I found that by eliminating the option of eating fatty, sugary foods (even healthier picks, like Larabars), I had a lot more mental energy to devote to more important decisions. For example, the answer to, "Am I exhausted enough to justify eating this muffin?" was simply no. With that sort of decision made by default, I could focus on more important things, like work and family and friendships. (And testing recipes for Veggie Quest, of course!)

As it turns out, I'm not alone in this experience. Research has shown that the more decisions we have to make, the worse we get at making decisions.¹ This phenomenon is known as "decision fatigue," and it saps judgment and willpower. However, by setting basic rules about what to eat, for example, you don't have to waste mental energy debating whether to "cheat" with that donut, because it's not on the plan. End of story. So you can use your mental powers for the greater good. (Like pondering what's going to become of Lady Mary next season on Downton Abbey!)

Monday, February 17, 2014

Warning Labels on Sodas: It's About Time

Photo by Shardayyy via Flickr; used under Creative Commons license

This past Thursday, California state Senator Bill Monning introduced a bill—the first of its kind in the nation—that would place warning labels on soft drinks and other empty-calorie beverages in California.

The aptly named Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Safety Warning Act applies to all sodas and sugar-sweetened juice/tea beverages containing more than 75 calories per 12 ounces. The warning would read as follows:

STATE OF CALIFORNIA SAFETY WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Vegetarian Pot Pie (Gluten Free, Soy Free, Low Fat)

I don't know about where you live, but it's been absolutely freezing here this winter! I'm talking about the kind of cold where you layer on thermals, two pairs of socks, a sweater, and a puffer coat and still shiver when you open the door. My tiny dog is decidedly unhappy about it, too.

Inside please?

Since I'm a summer gal, I have officially deemed this weather unacceptable. However, my request for warmer weather has, to date, gone un-granted.

So instead of moving south (not in the budget), I've done the next best thing: bake. A lot.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Mexican Jicama and Orange Salad (Low fat, Vegan, Low Sodium)

We do a lot of taco nights at my house, but serving a green salad with tacos can become a little ho-hum. So this week, on my jicama kick, I decided to shake things up a bit! Enter the tasty (and healthy) Mexican Jicama and Orange Salad.

This combination of crunchy jicama, sweet oranges, red bell peppers, and savory scallions makes a delightfully refreshing accompaniment to spicy Mexican fare. Of course, the adventurous among you are free to kick this salad up with a sprinkle of smoky-hot ancho or chipotle chile powder.