Week One of 30 Day Macrobiotic/Vegan Challenge Complete! Results Fantastic! *Quinoa Veggie Slaw Recipe

Happy Monday!
It’s day #7 and I’m feeling great! I am so much more clear-minded, energized, light, balanced, clean, strong, happy! This first 7 days was challenging but I took it one day-at-a-time and made it 7 days thus far, which I’m proud of! Also, I couldn’t have done this without the help and instruction from Kara Mejia! Check out her website www.cookingwithkara.com and blog www.naturalbodymakeover.com

Challenges: Learning how to prepare meals, learning what my daily meal plan would be, avoiding coffee, alcohol, processed snack foods, and eating when out and about.

What I did to overcome these challenges: Made a list of all the foods I’d include in my diet for the next 30 days. Combined these foods to make meals. Put meals into categories for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks. Put these meals into an excel spreadsheet that listed Monday – Sunday what I’d eat for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks. I then made a shopping food list according to the weekly meal plan and hit up the local health food stores (Trader Joe’s & Mom’s Organic Market). Once I got home I prepped/cooked large quantities of some of the staples or foundations of the meals that I’d be eating, such as brown rice, quinoa, ground roasted pumpkin seed, adzuki beans. This way I could have the food ready to go and all I’d have to do is combine foods according to the meal I wanted to make. I had my meal plan printed out and recipes close by so I could quickly prepare a meal.

I think the work week days are easiest because there is less temptation. On the weekends, you are out and about enjoying life and there are many temptations to stray from the vegan/macrobiotic lifestyle. Such as hanging out with friends or family gatherings. I just made sure to bring my own food with me if I was going out and about and would be hungry (like a green smoothie) or if I was going to a family gathering (crab feast cookout on Sunday w/beer & margaritas, a lot of temptation but I held strong!) I brought my own meal and water with lemon. I still had a great time at each outing this weekend, more focus on enjoying spending time with family and friends and being active. It’s a great way to live life to its fullest for sure!

Changes in Fitness & Body & Appearance:

The first few days I noticed a little less energy, this due in part to my body detoxing and cleansing itself as well as me still trying to figure out how to get enough calories/protein/energy for my daily activity and exercise. Once I got more of a handle on daily meals, I feel ‘light’ and energized, more focused and ready to take on the day. Refreshed. My skin complexion has improved, which was surprising because I already had a pretty good complexion. I’m maintaining my lean muscle mass while I’ve noticed my abs and arms have become more defined. After eating, I feel satisfied and don’t crave sweets or salty snacks as I used to. Also, the meals are so much easier on your digestive system and this adds to that energized feeling versus ‘crash’ or heavy feeling after eating a meal. Overall, I am impressed with the improvements after only 7 days and looking forward to this upcoming week.

Week One Summary:

I’d suggest this approach to nutrition to anyone. My goal is to improve my overall wellness and a more defined/strong physique. This approach to lifestyle and nutritional habits is also specifically beneficial to those who are looking to lose weight, decrease body fat, digestive system problems, and other concerns involving your health because the macrobiotic/vegan approach to diet helps to ‘balance’ your body’s alkaline/acidic levels which affect how your systems and organs function and interact. Thus having an affect on your mind, body, energy, spirit, and overall wellness! You learn how to combine foods properly for the best digestion and absorption of nutrients. You learn what foods will help you achieve more balance in pH and overall wellness, such as mental clarity and organs functioning properly. Drinking enough ‘clean’ (filtered) water is vital. An emphasis on ‘whole’ grains that are not processed such as brown rice, quinoa, millet, and amaranth. An emphasis on organics. An emphasis on little-to-no  added salt & sugar. An emphasis on dark leafy greens and vegetables according to your climate and season. Chewing food and taking the time to eat each meal. Getting daily exercise and breathing deeply to get more oxygen. Sea vegetables for nutritional content and minerals. Avoiding dairy, meats, poultry, eggs, and a little bit of fish is okay. Really taking into consideration the effect a specific food has on the body and if it is in line with your goals and ‘constitution’.

Favorite Recipe of Week One:

Quinoa & Veggie Slaw: (1 serving)

  • Organic Cooked Quinoa (1 portion = size of one clenched fist)
  • Organic Sliced Red Cabbage, Broccoli, Cauliflower, Zucchini, diced celery, red onion, carrot & Kale lightly steamed in water in pan on stove top
  • Pumpkin seed – roasted and ground, blend in food processor or magic bullet with 1-2 tsp dulse flakes & pinch of sea salt.

Mix quinoa & veggies together with a few dashes of ume vinegar, juice of lemon, fresh cilantro, pepper, dill, basil, 1-2 tsp chickpea miso paste, & if desired 1-2 tbsp vegenaise. Cover bowl & let sit on countertop for 15-20 minutes so that flavors infuse dish. You can serve this mixture as is with the roasted ground pumpkin seed mix ontop, or you can ‘wrap’ in a leaf of collard green for a lettuce wrap.

Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist or a doctor. What I write in my blogposts is simply information that I have gathered over the years from reading and researching several health related topics from credible resources as well as personal experiences. I urge you to consult with a physician before changing your diet. The purpose of my blogposts are to share my experiences and fitness knowledge with everyone I possibly can to help others in their journey to improve their state of well-being.

Health & Happiness,

Nat

30 Day Vegan/Macrobiotic Challenge…the experiment begins!

Don’t judge or come up with an opinion about something until you’ve tried it! This is something I’ve had to remind myself when researching different healthful approaches to nutrition, exercise and lifestyle habits and/or programs.
SO…I’m embarking on 30 day challenge to see how taking a vegan/macrobiotics/whole & unprocessed foods approach to living will affect my energy levels, wellness, physique, lean muscle mass, body fat%, mental functioning, bodily systems/organs, physical fitness levels and so on.

I already consumed products somewhat ‘vegan’ for the better half of my days Monday -Friday. Oatmeal/vegan protein powder for breakfast, smoothie w/vegan protein powder and a salad for lunch, steamed veggies w/eggs or poultry or fish for dinner. So as you can see, for the most part, dinner was where I included animal product. So instead of eggs/poultry/fish/meat, I just needed to eat grains/legumes/beans/nuts/seeds in place of these animal products. Well, there is much more to it than that I found out!

I know that you need to eat a combination of seeds/nuts/beans/legumes/grains throughout the day when not including animal proteins/products in order to get sufficient minerals/vitamins/protein. However, since I do much more strength training than the average person, I really needed to monitor my macro-nutrient intake.

So I wrote down all of my ‘food options’, divided them up into categories (beans/legumes, grains, greens/vegetables, nuts/seeds/healthy fats, ‘superfoods’ & fruits, and ‘seasoning’). ‘WHOLE’ grains like brown rice, quinoa, and amaranth are a main staple for this diet plan. Greens & non-starchy veggies will also play a big role in the 30 Day Challenge. Greens such as kale, spinach, collards, and veggies such as carrots, cauliflower, onions, cucumbers, celery, daikon, and cabbage. Beans/legumes like lentils, chickpeas, adzuki and tofu are about 10% of daily diet. Seeds & nuts such as flax, pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, and walnuts as well as healthy fats such as avocados, olive oil, and sesame oil are important as well but used in moderation. My ‘superfoods’ & fruits list consists of prunes, currants, Dulse flakes, dates, cacao powder, apples, wakame seaweed, kombu seaweed and Nori. Finally, ‘seasonings’ used sparingly such as miso paste & miso mayo, apple cider or ume vinegar, tamari, sea salt, dates, cacao powder, and as much fresh herbs as I want like cilantro, mint, parsley, and basil to add flavor to dishes.

Once I compiled a large list, I found out that most things like the grains and beans would need to be soaked and then cooked in a pressure cooker (pressure cooker cuts cooking time down by A LOT). I needed to avoid my processed products that I so dearly love (LOL), such as my protein powders, vitamins/minerals, fiber supplements, and caffeine such as coffee and also avoid using sweeteners as much as possible, also no alcohol. Also, I have to give up my beloved oatmeal for breakfast, but I’m replacing it with quinoa which I love!

I have already started to wean myself off of my coffee habit and incorporate more grains/beans/seeds and less protein powder. I thought I’d feel weak, but instead I’m slowly feeling clearer minded and more like my body is really using every bit of the food I eat to fuel my activities until my next meal. I’m still experimenting with correct daily amounts of grains/seeds/beans/legumes to ensure I have enough protein/calories by the end of the day. Like anything new, you learn as you go!

This 30 Day Challenge for me will be to experiment with ‘whole foods’ to see if my physical fitness levels & lean muscle mass can remain the same or even improve without the use of supplements such as protein powder or vitamin/mineral/other supplements. There are ‘vegan bodybuilders’ out there, so I know it is possible to achieve improvements in lean muscle mass while maintaining low body fat% but…from the vegan’s I’ve researched they did use vegan protein supplements and other supplements. So this will be a testament to see how I do with going completely ‘whole foods’ & as unprocessed as possible.

My Goal: To stick to the rules! This is a 30 Day cleanse/makeover/challenge and in no way do I plan on restricting my diet to this extreme after the 30 days is finished…BUT, I plan on taking a lot of what I learned and implementing it in my nutrition & lifestyle habits post-30 day challenge. Will I stay ‘vegan’? To be completely truthful…I doubt it…nothing personal to any ‘vegans’ but it seems very restricted and I don’t do well with extremes. I do want to lower the impact I have on the planet and the types of products I use to be of no harm to animals…we will see how much ‘veganism/macrobiotic’ I keep with me after the 30 days, how about that?

My other goal: To help you see how veganism/macrobiotic/whole foods/unprocessed foods can make a positive impact on your health and to possibly help others wean themselves off of a highly processed, junk food, red meat, artificial sweeteners/flavor/additives, pesticide/fertilizer/hormone/gmo ridden diet and ‘take a walk on the wild side’ and transition to more whole foods because all-in-all, I think that if your diet includes a majority of whole, unprocessed foods you will improve & experience a higher level of wellness!

Wish me luck & questions/comments/suggestions are appreciated & welcome!

Health & Happiness,

Natty Mac 😉

Bring it ON Intestinal Flora, the Good the Bad & the FUGLY…

What is intestinal flora?

How is intestinal flora linked to weight gain?

What can I do to improve my health in this area and in turn possibly shed some weight?

“Good VS. Bad Bacteria”

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly side effects…

  1. Intestinal Flora: Think Activia & Jamie Lee Curtis….The bacteria in your “gut”. Microorganisms that assist in many key functions within your body; assist in the metabolism of food (breakdown of food), immune system functions, producing vitamins, preventing growth of harmful pathogens, and producing hormones that affect the way humans store fat. Some may be capable of causing disease or increasing risk of cancer. Etc., etc., etc…
  2. Good V. Bad Bacteria
    • “Beneficial bacteria in your intestines make up 80% of your immune system!”
    • “Good Bacteria’s key role is the breakdown/metabolizing of food. The more thoroughly your food is broken down that’s usable by your body, the less excess wastes, toxins, and fat you’ll accumulate.
    • Foods to Avoid: Typical junk foods, refined carbs, soda, foods that are nutrient deficient, “are a feast for the harmful bacteria in your gut.”
    • Without Good Bacteria: “Your body doesn’t metabolize foods correctly, retains more calories, and becomes more toxic.”
  3. You may ask…I have been watching what I eat, counting calories, so why am I not losing weight!!!???
    • It’s probably your GUT! If your body has high levels of bad bacteria, you probably are not going to be able to drop those pounds…sorry!
    • How can I fix this? Avoid the foods I mentioned above and take a high quality probiotic! (With your daily multivitamin and mineral)
    • Taking a probiotic supplement can also help alleviate gas, constipation, bloating, allergies, and even helps asthma sufferers.
  4. Products listed below can aid in destroying your good bacteria (Avoid These):

Foods with traces of fertilizers or pesticides found in/on them (Organic=no fertilizers/pesticides)

Food injected with Hormones or antibiotics (meats, eggs, dairy…again Organic=no hormones/antibiotics)

Medications/Antibiotics

Alcohol

Foods containing high fructose corn syrup (SODA, a lot of products that have this…and I mean A LOT!)

Foods containing additives (unnatural sources, if there is a lot of ingredients on the list that sound scientific it is probably good to stay away from it)

Foods containing unnatural preservatives

Foods containing nitrates (hot dogs, bacon, deli meats)

Please, start becoming conscious of what you eat. Foods that are natural, organic and healthy for you and the environment are what you should try to fill your refrigerator and kitchen pantry with, remember you are what you eat. So, I guess I’m a giant cup of organic spinach!

RECIPES:

“Sweet Peach Raw Smoothie with a Kick”: (serves 1)

  • Frozen Organic Peaches (1 cup)
  • Frozen Organic Mango, Strawberries OR Blueberries (1/2 cup)
  • ½ Giant Organic Banana
  • ¼ cup of almonds or cashews
  • 2 splashes of almondmilk
  • 3 pinches of Cinnamon
  • Fresh mint leaves

Put all ingredients into your blender, blend until pureed well. Enjoy!!

It can be really useful to get help with designing an exercise program to assist you in achieving your fitness goals. Hiring a fitness trainer is a great way to get on the right track. As an expert I understand how to help you modify your exercise routine and diet to suit your goals.

Visit my website, Raw Fitness, to see more about Personal Training. I do ‘Skype’ too! 😉

Health & Happiness,

Nat

There is an endless amount of information I have about this topic, I will try to fit in the most important facts. Email me if you have questions.

Let me just start by saying, I am not a nutritionist or a doctor. What I write in my weekly bulletins is simply information that I have gathered over the years from reading and researching several health related topics from credible resources as well as personal experiences. I urge you to consult with a physician before changing your diet. The purpose of my weekly bulletin is to share my experiences and fitness knowledge with everyone I possibly can to help others in their journey to improve their state of well-being.