Monday, May 4, 2015

What I Eat In A Day

Today, I thought I'd share with you what I typically eat in a day. This is just an example of a random day I decided to take photos of what I eat, but it definitely varies from day to day. On this day I didn't have class and just spent the day doing laundry, cleaning, homework, and running some errands. Let's take a look at what I ate. . .

Breakfast (11:30)
I love to sleep, so when I don't have class sleeping in late is my favorite thing to do. Breakfast didn't get started until around 11:30, so eating this late isn't very typically for me but I love a good brunch every now and then!

I always try to start the day off with lots of water and love putting freshly squeezed lemon juice in it, lemons are great for cleansing and help to jumpstart your digestion first thing in the morning!
Because this day was very cloudy, I took a vitamin D supplement, the kind I use is liquid so I just drop a little drop on my tongue on days when the sun isn't out. I also take a vitamin B-12 supplement (which I recommend everyone get their levels tested, vegan or not!) which is completely food-based and also liquid.
I had two slices of Ezekiel bread (my new favorite..they use sprouted grains, so it's better for digestion/absorption and it's also very delicious!) one slice I topped with peanut butter, the other with blueberry jelly. 
Along with that, I cut up about eight to ten fresh strawberries and one banana
And of course I had a cup of black coffee! 

Lunch (3:00)
So for lunch I had a huge green smoothie. I need to run some errands, so I whipped up a smoothie and headed out the door. I love taking these on the go, because it's not messy and easy to drink in the car.

The smoothie had 3 frozen bananas, 2 cups of spinach, 1/2 medium sized cucumber, 4 stalks of celery, 1/2 cup orange juice, 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger root, and lots of water!

Snack (5:00)
Once I got home, I heated up some leftovers from dinner the night before which was a stir-fry with sweet potatoes, spinach, rice, tempeh, tomatoes topped with curry sauce. I paired it with some corn tortillas. I also ate a few dates afterwards.

Dinner (7:30)
For dinner I made some fresh sushi (keep a look out for a sushi recipe coming soon!). In the sushi I put white rice, cucumber, tofu, carrots, and avocado. I had about four rolls, and some "samples" while making them. I ate the sushi with some liquid aminos (soy sauce substitute).

Late-night snack (10:00)

I was still a little hungry, and wasn't going to bed anytime soon (Netflix was the culprit of keeping me up so late) so I decided to have another slice of Ezeikel toast with peanut butter and I topped it with a few fresh strawberries. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

My Thoughts: Plant-Based Eating

About two years ago, I discovered the concept of "plant-based" eating. I was first introduced to this while watching Forks Over Knives, an incredible documentary focusing on The China Study (the most comprehensive nutrition study that's ever been done) and the life-changing benefits of a plant-based diet. When I heard about this concept of eating a plant-based diet, a lightbulb went off in my head. While exploring the world of vegetarianism, I quickly discovered how easy it was to be an unhealthy vegetarian. Lots of foods are vegetarian, as well as vegan, but eating cheese, milk, baked goods, fried foods, etc. which are all vegetarian but aren't necessarily healthy. One of the main reasons I first thought about going vegan was to take a step up from being vegetarian, I wanted something different and while exploring the vegan community, I found the plant-based diet concept. Although eating plant-based and vegan go hand in hand, I prefer the idea of eating "plant-based" instead of just vegan. Like vegetarianism, you can definitely be an unhealthy vegan. Especially now, that veganism is becoming more trendy lots of bakeries and restaurants are making gourmet vegan food. While consuming no animal products has been shown to be the most beneficial to our health, you may not get the full benefits of being vegan but still consuming a high fat, high salt, high processed diet.

So what is plant-based?
Eating a plant-based diet basically means that you eat foods that come from the earth. All fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts, and legumes would all fit in a plant-based diet. These foods are a great base to so many recipes, and dishes. There are so many variations with spices, flavors, combinations, etc. to make a plant-based diet work for your palate and your lifestyle. There is really no way that you can get bored or tired of eating this way because there are hundreds of different types of foods that are grown on this wonderful earth.

The word "vegan" intimidates a lot of people, it definitely has a stigma and I've definitely experienced that personally. Beginning a plant-based lifestyle is more simple, and easier for people to understand. All you have to do it eat plants, things that grow from the earth. The more you focus your diet around plant-based recipes and foods, the easier it becomes to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Cutting out all meat, dairy, and eggs is very overwhelming and can seem too difficult so often times people don't even try. But incorporating more plants will help to slowly eliminate these foods, and it will seem easier and not as overwhelming. Even if you make your diet 80% plant-based, that is an awesome start, and it will be easier over time to change that to 100%.

The first time I met Dr. Campbell
when he spoke at Appalachian 

Second time meeting Dr. Campbell
and his wife after the PlantPure Nation
Now onto the real reason I wanted to talk about all this...Dr. T. Colin Campbell, who I talk about way too much, and am completely obsessed with. His work, has changed my life along with hundreds of other people. He was the one that through scientific research discovered the benefits of eating a plant-based diet. He documented his findings in his book The China Study and it was also addressed in the documentary Forks Over Knives. Anyone that is wanting to adopt a healthier lifestyle should definitely either read the book, or watch the documentary which both show the science behind plant-based eating.

Meeting Nelson Campbell
after the PlantPure Nation
After seeing the lack of implementing the amazing discoveries of plant-based eating Nelson Campbell (Dr. Campbell's son) wanted to take this concept to law and try to use plant-based eating to improve the health status of Kentucky. In their new documentary PlantPure Nation it shows their journey of taking this to concept to court, and trying to spread the message of the power of plants. After getting denied by the state of Kentucky, Nelson Campbell and Dr. Campbell decided that they would prove its effectiveness by assigning a 10-day plant based diet on a group of people from a small town in North Carolina. They gave them a lesson on plant-based eating, and also prepared their food for them to eat. In just TEN DAYS of eating plant-based, the blood work of the people in the group came back almost completely normal. Cholesterol levels, LDL levels, triglyceride levels all were extremely high to begin with, and in just ten days were lowered through eating plants. Wow, the power of plants is almost unbelievable! Why is this not more well known, and used throughout the health care field? Well this documentary explains why the government doesn't want to use this way of healing, and dare I say curing people. A lot of it has to do with big food companies, and mostly money/politics. Hopefully this documentary will create some waves in the health and food industry, it's about time some changes be made!

PlantPure Nation is coming to theaters on July 4th, and will without a doubt change your way of thinking about eating healthily, and putting your own health in your hands. I was able to go to a screening of this film last month. The Campbell family is touring all over America promoting this film and the concept of plant-based eating. Their first screening was in Chapel Hill, NC and I was thankfully able to go see it and also meet the Campbells. It was so amazing getting to not only watch the film, but hear Nelson and Dr. Campbell personally talk about the making of the movie and their drive for getting the plant-based message out to America. I can't wait to go see this film again in July!

For more information on eating plant-based, it's benefits, or the PlantPure Nation documentary check out these links:
Buy The China Study
PlantPure Nation Cookbook

Friday, March 20, 2015

Luna's Living Kitchen | Restaurant Review | Charlotte, NC

Recently I, along with one of my friends who is also a nutrition major, attended the North Carolina Dietetic Association's quarterly meeting in Charlotte, NC. While in Charlotte, I decided to check out a restaurant that I had heard great reviews about. Luna's Living Kitchen is mostly raw and vegan, so obviously I was in love with it before even going to the restaurant. The atmosphere was a wonderful; quiet, dimmed lighting, comfortable seating, and great service.

After feeling overwhelmed at looking at the huge menu filled with delicious sounding food and drinks, we each settled on what we were going to order. I got the Mock-Tuna Salad Sandwich with a side of Broccoli Waldorf and Hanna got the Pad Thai dish. Our food came out in less than ten minutes, and we both tried to savor the delicious food but it was so good we quickly devoured it. I love going to vegan restaurants, specifically raw vegan because it never takes very long for the food to arrive. Because the chefs aren't dealing with meat, or sometimes stoves/ovens it takes very little time to prepare which is the best when you're really hungry!
My sandwich was made with two slices of vegan bread, I'm not sure if they make this in-house but it was delicious regardless. Inside the two slices of bread was some cashew mayonnaise, I wasn't too sure about this part of the sandwich because I've never enjoyed real mayonnaise but surprisingly it was so yummy and didn't taste at all like real mayo instead it was light and creamy. There were also some crisp lettuce leaves and a few slices of tomato.
My favorite part was the huge scoop of the "tuna salad." Before giving up meat, I had never even tried tun, so I wasn't sure what to expect for this mock version of it. It was amazing! The consistency was creamy and hearty, and I loved the texture of it in the sandwich along with the other ingredients.  The broccoli salad was also delicious, and had the taste of both sweet and savory: my favorite combination. Hanna let me try some of her pad thai which consisted of raw spiraled sweet potato and zucchini and a thai peanut sauce. It was also delicious, and the flavors were spot on. For dessert, we got raw vegan ginger snap cookies that were incredible. It brought me right back to fall time, yum! 
Overall, the service was great along with the food, and the atmosphere was perfect for a nice, relaxed meal. I would definitely recommend Luna's Living Kitchen to anyone that is in the Charlotte area, it is great for everyone even if you're not vegan the food is delicious! I can't wait to go back and try something else.
Check out their website at 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

National Nutrition Month: Bite Into A Healthy Lifestyle

March is such a great month, not only because Spring is starting to emerge, and there is a glimpse of hope that the snow is going to melt once and for all, but also March is National Nutrition Month (although in my mind, every month is National Nutrition Month). Every March, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics promotes, informs, and emphasizes nutrition. Each year they have a different theme, this year's NNM theme is "Bite Into A Healthy Lifestyle." Last year, their theme was "The Taste of Eating Right" and I actually blogged about that when I was first getting my blog started. Check that post out here: !
So what does "Bite Into A Healthy Lifestyle" mean to me? I definitely can relate to this theme, especially since going vegan last Spring. I've wanted to talk about the difference I've found between "dieting" and "living" for quite a while, so the fact that this is the theme for this year's National Nutrition Month worked out perfectly!

When I first started looking into veganism, I saw it portrayed as a lifestyle, not a diet. I strongly dislike the word "diet" because I think it's a very negative word, and is used to describe something short term, something that isn't meant to last forever. It isn't used in a way that describes why you eat how you eat, who/what is impacted by what you eat, or even in a passionate way, to me that is called a "lifestyle." Becoming vegan made me realize that veganism isn't a diet, it's truly a way of life. It's how someone lives, vegans choose what they eat rather than following a certain set of rules even if they don't want to. It's not that I can't eat cheese or milk based ice cream, it's that I choose not to. This is why I like to refer to veganism as a "lifestyle" rather than a "diet."

I think when you make healthy eating a lifestyle, and put passion in it going back to old habits and foods is much more difficult. When you make eating purposeful and have a true meaning behind it, it becomes a part of your life and something that becomes personal. Your diet (or as I like to call it, your lifestyle) should be personal, fit your life, and represent what's important to you.

Finding veganism was about a four year process for me. It slowly became not just the food I ate, but it is now a reflection of myself and a representation of the type of nutrition I promote and believe in. When becoming vegetarian back in high school, I did it just to test my self-discipline and see if I could do it. Slowly, I began to fall in love with how I was eating and what I was eating and it began to become a huge part of my life. I began to cook more, eat less processed foods, research nutrition, and ultimately it helped me decide I wanted to study nutrition in college. I made this a lifestyle, not just a diet, I put passion in the way I was eating and also living. After lots of my own research and experiences, I decided to go vegan in the Spring of 2014. This was a huge step for me, and I quickly saw how it effected my lifestyle. Becoming vegan, for me, helped me to revamp the way I live as well as my thoughts and feelings on the food I choose to eat.

Soon after becoming vegan I found that I felt a lot happier, and became passionate about protecting the animals that are being abused every day just for human consumption and pleasure. This is how veganism became a lifestyle for me, although this doesn't have to be true for everyone, it was for me. I found that once I eliminated animal products, my body was filled with positive energy. I genuinely felt like my body was no longer filled with negative, pain, fear, and hatred but instead love and happiness. As "hippy dippy" as that sounds, it is so true. I almost immediately began to feel better, in my mind, body, and soul. I soon saw that the way I was eating in the past was full of hatred and abuse, seeing and feeling how veganism was full of love and peace helped me stay with this lifestyle. I found a passion to protect, love, and care for all animals; not just cats and dogs, but cows, pigs, chickens, horses, birds, fish every animal deserves love and respect. So that's how veganism became more than a diet for me, but a lifestyle.

Making the food you eat a lifestyle, and changing your diet from just a diet to a way of life will help you put passion into your own health and maintain it. Diets are usually difficult for people to maintain because they are viewed as rules, regulations, limitations, elimination, and are thought to only last for a little while before returning to however you were eating before. A lifestyle is formed to fit you, it is made to last for a long time and become a part of you. This should be how people eat, and live, not through short-term diet plans that don't actually provide you with a change in anything other than the foods you are putting in (or not putting in) your mouth. Changing your lifestyle is way more effective than just your diet. Making the food you eat, and your personal health goals a lifestyle can potentially last the rest of your life rather than just a few months.

When someone tells me they are thinking about going vegetarian or vegan, I always ask them why, this helps them create a motive and passion to remain on this type of living. I think this is how everyone should begin a healthy lifestyle, with a specific motivation that they can keep looking to that will help them remain positive and passionate. The foods you eat should fit you, your goals and your passions. Taking a "bite into a health lifestyle" is an effective way to live out your "diet" and make it part of your entire life. Let's stop dieting to eat healthier, and instead start living a healthy lifestyle!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Why I Don't Care About Calories

In high school, when I first began to discover my passion for health and nutrition, I held onto the "calories in, calories out" motto that we hear from lots of health professionals. When someone is trying to lose weight, everyone tells them to monitor calories, reduce calories, count calories, it's all about calories, calories, calories. It becomes something that can easily be obsessed over, and cause people to lose sight of true nutrition. This is exactly what happened to me when I started to become interested in nutrition and healthy eating in general. I used to count my calories like many people do, using an app on my phone. I didn't really think much about nutrients, vitamins, or even macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, fat). All I cared about was the calories I consumed each day. This can become really dangerous if you're trying to eat a well-balanced diet, or even a healthier diet in general. Many people (including my former self) think that eating fewer calories, regardless of the type of food is the way to weight loss, weight maintenance and a general healthier body. Eating fewer calories may cause initial weight loss, but definitely not a good long term approach to weight loss/maintenance. If calories are the main priority, actual nutrition can be forgotten about and "healthy eating" can just turn into calorie restriction.

When you restrict calories, specifically below 1200 calories/day, your body goes into starvation mode. If your body goes into starvation mode, it can hold onto everything you eat and lead to weight gain. Also, this type of "dieting" can really mess up your metabolism. Any diet that is less than 1600 calories is just a bad idea in my opinion. Calorie restriction can lead to binge eating (consuming a lot of food at one time) and just an unhappy mood. Trust me, I've been there, done that and it's not fun at all. I see so many "diets" that promote eating less than 1500 calories per day, and it makes me so sad to see people try them and ultimately fail because of the calorie/nutrient deprivation. These types of "diets" cause the yo-yo effect that many people experience when trying to get healthy and eat better.

I have two really big problems with calorie restricting, and calorie counting in general:

Just an orange and banana for lunch?!?!
One is the fact that low-calorie diets are almost impossible to maintain long term. When we are on low-calorie diets, or restricting calories our bodies crave calories and ultimately crave not very healthy foods. This can lead to the return of an unhealthy lifestyle/diet and completely throwing away the mindset of eating healthy. When people think healthy eating, some think starving, and being hungry all the time, but the thing I love about eating a plant-based vegan diet is the ability to eat as much food as I care for, and not worry about calories. When eating plant-based, specifically a low fat high carbohydrate, calories are all coming from good sources so there is no need to worry about calories. Many people ask me about cravings, and if I ever crave animal products or unhealthy food in general. The answer is no! I no longer have cravings for unhealthy food (cheese, eggs, meat, fried foods, etc.) because I eat an abundance of plant-based calories and nutrients, so I never feel deprived or hungry for unhealthy foods that I used to love.

My other big problem with calorie restricting and counting calories is the loss of hunger cues. One thing that really gets lost when people start eating low-calorie is the ability to identify hunger and satiation. If calories are the only thing you're concerned about, true hunger and satisfaction gets pushed to the side. Another thing I've learned from letting go of the "calories in, calories out" mindset is to listen to my body. When I'm hungry, I eat and when I'm full, I stop. This type of eating can really get lost when following a low-calorie diet because meals tend to be planned, measured, and portioned throughout the day. This is a very unnatural way of eating and can make your mind stop listening to your body's natural hunger cues.

Eat like Freelee the Banana Girl
(look her up on Youtube!)
Getting rid of the obsession with calories was one of the best things that's ever happened to me in my health/food journey. Eating should emphasize abundance and happiness, not restriction and the feeling of deprivation. When researching a plant-based vegan diet/lifestyle I saw the amount of food that people living this way were eating. Increasing calories were emphasized, and promoted in a way that I had never seen before and it opened my eyes to the fact that our bodies need lots of calories. 
When I began eating a plant-based diet, calories became completely irrelevant. It took me a few months to really begin to let go of the "calories in, calories out" mentality and ever since I was able to let that go, I haven't looked back once. It is so freeing to know that whatever I'm putting into my body is doing my body well, and calories really don't even matter. The reason why a plant-based lifestyle works is the increased intake of not just calories, but food in general. Eating is encouraged, calorie counting is only necessary to make sure you're getting enough calories, not to see how few calories you've eaten each day. The more plant-based calories, the more nutrients/energy you're getting. Most plant-based vegans eat close to 2800 calories a day, and are thriving.
FullyRaw Kristina's lunch

Nutrients are more important to me, not calories, the ingredients in a food item are more important to me than calories, and eating as much food as my body asks for is more important than staying below a caloric limit everyday. After several years of calorie restriction, my body's metabolism is still healing. I wish that I hadn't spent so long caring about calories because in the end when you're eating good foods, they don't matter. That's why encourage people to eat a plant-based vegan diet, because you can essentially eat as much as you care for. Calories are the last thing you have to worry about. Putting good food in your body, and listening to what your body is telling you is more important than calories, and that's why calories just don't matter.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Hummus is a food that I typically buy pre-made. In my mind it's a lot cheaper, and quicker to just buy it already made. But recently, I've tried to steer away from pre-made/convenience foods and put more effort and love into the food that I am eating. By doing this, I came up with this yummy hummus recipe that is actually much cheaper than pre-made and takes less than 20 minutes to whip up. Also, by making your own you can control what you put in your hummus. Most store bought hummus has preservatives and is high in oil.

The red peppers can definitely be left out, and the flavor can be changed to whatever you'd like. Add more garlic if you would like a more garlic heavy hummus, add cilantro and lime for a Mexican inspired hummus, or different spices to create whatever kind of hummus your hummus loving heart desires! 

Most hummus recipes call for tahini which is similar to peanut butter but made with sesame seeds. This ingredient is pretty expensive, so I have found that just using raw sunflower seeds tends to take on the tahini flavor.

All you need for this recipe is the list of ingredients below and a blender or food processor. This makes about 2 cups of hummus, so it'll last for up to a week and is perfect for dipping any type of vegetables or chips in, spreading on toast, or putting in a wrap, the possibilities are endless!

1 can garbanzo beans (rinsed)
1 (12 or16 oz) jar roasted red peppers (rinsed)
1/3 cup raw sunflower seeds
1 lemon (juiced)
1 Tbsp. dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. raw apple cider vinegar
2 cloves garlic (mashed)
1 tsp. salt 
2 tsp. pepper
1 Tbsp. cumin

Put all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Store in an air-tight container for up to two weeks.