Sprout New Roots


The Art of Snacking

So here’s the deal. Initially, my reasoning for becoming vegetarian and then vegan was for ethical reasons-flat out. As long as there wasn’t an animal product on my plate or involved in the food I was eating, I was good. Check! No worries! Health, as a perk to this lifestyle, came in second to me. But I also knew that as long as I wasn’t consuming animals or too too many crappy processed foods, my health-odds were automatically better. After learning more and more, though, I realized that there was a lot more to be said for the health aspect of it if I reduced out most processed foods and added in even more whole plant foods. I could cut my odds of heart disease, cancer and stroke (along with so many other illnesses and diseases) by alarming percentages! I could possibly inspire others to take control of their health and reverse and prevent diseases as well. I realized now that creating my own vibrant health actually played a huge role in my advocacy for animals. I needed to be an example of how a plant-based vegan diet can not only end some unnecessary animal suffering in this world but also end a lot of human suffering as well. So now, along with my concerns for the environment related to this topic (and there are so many to consider), health also plays a huge factor in deciding what I put into my body every time I sit down to eat. It’s a very empowering thing to know that my health is my choice, and my example is a potential voice of inspiration to someone.

…which brings me to my weakness when it comes to eating a vegan diet. Snacking! There are tons of processed foods out there that are and are not intentionally vegan that have called my name. And I’ve happily obliged! If you put an unassuming bag of chips (especially kettle-baked) or a box of Oreo’s in front of me, don’t expect them to last very long. You can even hold your breath because, guess what? You’ll still be alive by the time I’m finished with them!


I don’t buy unhealthy processed snack foods for our house because of this. Once I pop I simply cannot stop! They weren’t kidding around with with that slogan. It’s almost like I have no self control around these things-but these foods weren’t made with self-control in mind. They were made to create an addiction. There are chemicals and additives and such a concentrated amount of sugar/salt in these products that they actually trick your tongue and brain into wanting more. I can go for months without eating refined sugar or salty chips, but the minute I take one bite of a cookie or have a chip, I’m done. Hooked. Craving more. And this is exactly what the food companies want of course. They want you and me addicted to their products so we continue to crave them and buy them and become a part of the heard of unhealthy consumers ringing in the big bucks for the heads of the company.

When I’m out at restaurant that serves free chips or at a party where chips are available-I do have some, don’t get me wrong. But here’s the dealio-when I’m at home without the judgments of others, who’s to ever know I’d eat THAT many cookies? No one would-except for myself when I break out on my face or when I feel puffy or bloated later on from it. Gross. What kind of example of a health and animal advocate am I then?  Not a very good one. And it never feels worth it afterwards-but that damn taste on my tongue just knows how to seal the deal. So I have found that what works best for me personally is keeping things like this out of easy convenience-out of my house. I try to keep healthy snacks around and that truly works to satisfy my cravings for salty or sweet whenever they arise. I am by no means perfect when it comes to my plant-based diet and I’m not even suggesting that you try to be perfect in your diet and lifestyle. Everyone has to figure their path out on their own. I’m just sharing my struggles and hopefully offering you some suggestions in case you struggle with the same things.


So here’s my suggestion to you: Clean out your fridge and pantry. Like, right now. Even if you have to have a “last meal” with the junk food in your house, that’s fine-but make it quick and get it out of your convenience. Then replace it with healthy, whole food items for when the time comes around that you just have to have something sweet or salty. Get creative with snacks! Snacking can be so fun and colorful! Dunk veggies in fun dips that you create from plant foods! Blend frozen fruit to create sorbets and ice creams! I’ve listed below some snacks that I keep around to get you started!

  • Apples and freshly ground almond butter/peanut butter (no oil or salt added)
  • homemade hummus and whole grain pita bread or vegetables for dipping
  • frozen banana ice cream (there are way too many fun concoctions you can make with this-or if you want simple-all you need are frozen bananas!)
  • dates
  • homemade date balls/energy bites or granola bars
  • crunchy baked chickpeas (you can make these sweet or salty!)
  • kale chips
  • edamame (Thx Stacy for reminding me of this one!)
  • Freshly popped popcorn  (not the kind you buy and microwave-that stuff is laced with chemicals…)
  • tofu pudding
  • chia pudding
  • nuts and seeds
  • guacamole or kale butter with veggies for dipping
  • green smoothie
  • fruit smoothie
  • frozen fruit sorbet (blend frozen fruit in a high speed blender until its smooth)
  • homemade fruit popsicles
  • dehydrated veggies or fruit (if you have a dehydrator)
  • fresh fruit (bananas, grapes, apples, peaches, blueberries, strawberries, oranges, mandarins, pears, mangoes, cherries etc!)

Do you have this issue as well? What are your favorite go-to healthy snack foods?



Feeling “Full” on a Plant-Based Diet

A friend of mine recently asked me if it was normal to feel hungry a little while after eating a meal based mostly on vegetables. She made a vegetarian pizza at home to be exact. I always welcome questions like this because it gives me an opportunity to share what I have learned over the past few years about what it means to be healthy and so on.

Also, with veganism on the rise, you may be wondering, “How can anyone feel satisfied on a diet of plants?” I’d love to help you with this question!

Plants Are Satisfying!

If you are starting out on a plant-based diet, or are just adding more vegetables while minimizing animal protein as my friend is trying to do, you may feel like you aren’t quite full after you eat, or even a little while later. I like to compare it to this. Remember a few years back when everyone drank whole milk? Then all of the sudden health headlines stated we should be drinking skim milk instead-so many people switched to that. When you first switched, the skim milk probably tasted very watery. But your taste buds adjusted and so did your body. Then, did you ever taste whole milk again after getting used to skim? If so, you probably thought it tasted too heavy-like cream, and couldn’t imagine how you ever drank it before. So that’s a good analogy for the change that you might feel.

More importantly, make sure you are eating enough. One of the most common things that people new to plant-based diets do is not eat enough. Don’t limit yourself. Eat until you are really satisfied. 400 calories of meat compared to 400 calories of vegetables adds up differently, as shown below. So eat up! That’s one of the beauties in this lifestyle; you don’t have to count calories if you are simply eating a diet based on beans, vegetables, fruit, grains, nuts, and seeds! Come on, did you really think you were destined to be counting calories your entire life? Nah, not necessary.


Also, it is very much worth noting that feeling “full” on a plant-based diet is different than feeling full eating the standard American diet. Since moving to a plant-based vegan diet, I have noticed how much lighter I feel after meals versus when I was also eating dairy. So going from eating meat, dairy, and processed foods to eating whole food plant foods will feel very different for you. I used to not feel “full” until I was uncomfortable, stuffed, and tired, sitting on the couch-done for the night. Now when I eat, I feel satisfied and still have energy afterwards! There is a real reason for this. Your digestive system is built to break down starches, natural sugars and complex carbohydrates. It is not set up to digest animal protein. Therefore, when you eat animal protein, it takes a lot longer for your body to process it along with a lot more energy focused on it. Plants tend to make a quicker “exit”, as you will notice. This is a great thing that you will come to enjoy, as crazy as that may sound right now!

Hunger Can Be Mental – Pay Attention

The feeling of being hungry is not only physical for most people, but also mental and emotional. We want to eat when we are happy, when we are sad, when we are watching a movie, when people around us are eating, etc. Food is not just a need today, but a want-and we are used to indulging whenever we may feel the slightest “hunger” coming on. So, first and foremost, know that it takes a few weeks for your body to adjust to a diet change. Be aware that you’ll have cravings and may feel odd at times. A certain amount of detoxing occurs when you stop eating the bad stuff and start eating the good stuff. It is normal to experience headaches and cravings when transitioning. Don’t worry, you’ll feel better than ever after a few weeks. Some people experience no detoxing effects and just start to feel great immediately. Everyone is different. I suggest you get to know your body and pay attention to the signals it sends you. Typically, true hunger comes on quite quickly and feels more like a need. Try to learn to pay attention to yourself to figure out if your hunger is real or if it’s more emotionally-charged.


1. Along with fresh veggies, be sure to eat whole grains (brown rice, oats, barley, buckwheat, quinoa, etc), beans, potatoes and other starchy vegetables. Complex carbs are your friend!

2. Eat variety. Explore different fruits and vegetables. The more variety, the more you broaden your taste palette. You’ll eat more once you discover of all the wonderful flavors out there that you haven’t yet experienced. You’ll also develop a true appreciation for the real flavors of vegetables because they won’t be covered in butter or cheese. You’ll be shocked, I promise! 🙂

3. Drink plenty of water throughout the day. This goes without saying as an all-around health tip, but it is worth paying attention to. Here is a simple indicator for you-if your urine is clear, you are hydrated. If it is yellow, drink more water!

4. Eat enough! Don’t make yourself uncomfortable or anything-but don’t limit yourself the same way you may have in the past with food. This is a guilt-free zone from now on!

5. Buy a plant-based cookbook! There are TONS of great ones on the market today! Check out Happy Herbivore, Engine 2 Diet, Eat Vegan on $4 A Day, Forks Over Knives Cookbook, The Vegan Table, Dr. McDougall, Veganomicon, the list goes on!

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Pinch Me!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone! Whether you’re Catholic or Irish or Irish Catholic, or none of the above-you probably partake in some kind of Paddy’s Day festivities! We certainly do in New Orleans! Any excuse to celebrate and have fun, and our city is there! So before you head out to your green party of choice, we just wanted to leave you with a green juice Cheers! and an Irish blessing!


(celery, parsley, ginger, broccoli stems, handful of spring mix salad greens, and sweet potato)

May you always have…
Walls for the winds
A roof for the rain
Tea beside the fire
Laughter to cheer you
Those you love near you
And all your heart might desire.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!



Eating Out Vegan, Part One: The Social Aspect

Eating out socially as a vegan is certainly an experience that you might find challenging at first. We live in a society where meat and/or dairy are included in almost everything-almost. We, as vegans, make up a very small percentage of people overall in the world (about 2-3%), but that number is growing fast as people are becoming more and more aware of the serious health, climate, and animal issues associated with eating animal protein. Restaurants are even starting to mark their menus with labels such as “vegetarian” and “vegan”, and waiters and staff typically understand what those words mean these days. But, despite this, it’s still a way of life that is foreign territory to a lot of people-especially in America. My sister and I find that at almost any social or dinner table setting that we are in (including just being at work around people, eating in a group, or even with family and friends), our way of eating comes up. This is great because we love the way we eat and we certainly enjoy talking about how great we feel both physically and spiritually living this way. This conversation can go a few different ways though-and all too often it can get uncomfortable-especially for a new vegan. Most people ask questions out of sincere curiosity, but others will ask questions with antagonistic and sarcastic undertones-or overtones actually. Some people can get downright rude or ugly. We’ve experienced it all and have figured out ways to handle each situation as gracefully as we can.We’d like to share with you our game-plan and talk about certain things that can come up when peple find out you are vegan.


Where to Eat

If you have any control over where you will be eating out at, know in advance some options where you know that you can easily find vegan food. For instance, I keep a list in my phone of all the restaurants that my husband and I like to eat out at and where we can find good food that we enjoy. Whenever we plan a dinner date or something social involving food, we can quickly reference and suggest a bunch of different places.  If the decided upon place is new to us, we’ll check out the menu online or call ahead of time asking if they can accommodate us the way that we eat. 98% of the time, they can and happily do. Upscale restaurants seem to be the most accommodating, as a good chef should have a few vegetable-based dishes on hand that he can whip up for instances like this that do come up, moreso these days than ever, I imagine.

Ordering Food

Most restaurants today have around one to five vegetarian options already on their menu. And, like I said above, most places are very accommodating and can alter their menu items to not include any animal products at all. Our cousin Bonnie suggests, as she stated in a previous post, to tell your waiter that you have a food allergy-such as to dairy or eggs. This can better ensure yourself that the restaurant will do their best to not include it in your meal. If you end up going somewhere where your food options are limited, most places can at least steam up some vegetables and make you a basic salad, or remove the meat/cheese/egg from a salad order for you. When ordering, we try to be as easy and friendly as possible, not trying to make a huge fuss over the food. We really prefer to make everyone at the table feel comfortable.

Happy, Healthy Conversations

When people ask general questions about veganism out of curiosity, this usually leads to a very healthy, happy conversation. Most will ask you what exactly you eat or where you get your protein, etc. So we answer them. A lot of times, as you can imagine, this conversation takes place over plates of food-most of which have some kind of animal or animal by-product on them. People seem to be very curious and pay special attention to what we order. We do our best to be respectful of others as they eat, and if they ask questions that could lead to a gruesome explanation, we try to warn them as they chew or tell them that we would love to discuss it with them away from the table. This sort of thing, if handled aggressively, could be the first and last time your friends ask you questions about this-so you’re possibly closing a window of knowledge to them by immediately going into the horrors that the animal farming industry is. A lot of times, we will simply sum it up by saying that it is a true nightmare and that we would encourage them to do their own research that is readily available on the web, in documentaries, and in books.

Aside from that, most always, we hear things like ‘Well, I could never give up my (fill in the blank with cheese, milk, butter, or some kind of animal)!”And I believe that people truly feel this way because I used to feel that way about cheese-until I educated myself on it and overcame the addiction. So we like to acknowledge them on it and talk about our own personal experiences about it. This is a healthy conversation that could plant a seed in someone’s head and maybe, down the line, they’ll start to make healthier decisions for themselves. Between my sister and I, we can’t tell you how many times we’ve realized that we have influenced someone else in a healthy direction-which feels awesome!

While it’s intimidating being the center focus on such a personal issue, we really want to give people a positive feeling about this because we know that it can help a lot in so many ways. As a rule of thumb, we try to maintain ourselves at what we call being “Happy Herbivores” versus “Angry Vegans”. We feel this will inspire more people to be open about  and to our lifestyle.

Sarcasm and Antagonism

I read somewhere that Ellen Degeneres’ wife, Portia De Rossi, once said that she caught more flack when she went vegan versus when she came out as a lesbian. I totally believe her too because of the amount of additional flack we caught when we simply switched from vegetarian to vegan.  When we encounter people who just want to poke at us or make fun of the way we eat, we can see them coming a mile away. There’s generally a cockiness about them and an “I know more than you and I’m about to show everyone” attitude. These people aren’t interested in learning more or opening up to us, they’re just bullies who, for some reason, think making fun of someone else will justify their actions and the way they eat or live their lives. We used to feel the need to get into arguments or fight back at these kinds of people, but we just don’t even take it up anymore. It goes no where and that bully gets a free show. I remember one time, Jason and I were out with some friends and a friend of theirs showed up who we’d never met. He overheard someone else asking me questions about why I eat the way I do and felt the need to jump in and start bashing me. He ended up looking like the jerk because I didn’t take him up on his sarcasm. I do remember one thing he said. He mimicked a baby voice to me saying “Oh I dont eat anything that’s alive waah”… How rude, right?! My only response to him was, in an easy, relaxed voice, “My food is alive. You’re the one eating a dead carcass.” And done. What else could he say? But you see what I mean? I promise, you might encounter this rudeness but just don’t give it much or any attention. It isn’t worth stressing yourself over it.

Ending Thoughts

Basically, what we have found that works best for us in social settings is to answer whatever questions, posed by a friendly source, that you are comfortable answering. Try to stay calm and simple about things-leaving there something to be wanted or learned from whoever is asking. Direct them to a great blog or movie about it. (See our suggestions at the bottom of our FAQ page). It can be hard, but try not to overwhelm people with info and stats and facts etc. because that’s definitely a turn-off (unless someone corners you and is begging for info. This happens too thankfully! 🙂 )

Here are 2 blog posts by Lindsay Nixon (The Happy Herbivore) that we find

very helpful in dealing with the social aspects of talking about eating a plant-based diet.

How To Talk About Veganism

The Secret to Handling Confrontation and Dealing with Negativity


Top 10 Ingredients/Foods We Avoid

Hello All!

Jenn and I talk every single day and a large portion of our conversations, believe it or not, are health, animal, or food-related. We’re both learning and growing in this lifestyle and we love helping others find their way as well. One issue that we recognize as a huge problem today is the food system that we have in this country. You really don’t know what you’re getting in that box of pre-made powdered pasta roni mixture, your cereal, energy bars, that Lean Cuisine, or a can of soup. Even most of the condiments and jams that you buy today are basically high fructose corn-syrup and faux tomato ketchup or blackberry jelly! Our society is run on corn sugar and chemicals. Next time you go to the grocery store, pick any aisle and look at ingredients on the boxes and jars of foods you normally buy. Chances are, there will be about 10-50 ingredients listed and you won’t understand what any of the words even mean, and yet you’re supposed to eat it. Your body won’t even recognize it as food and neither should you because it isn’t food. It is chemicals disguised as food; chemicals so powerful that you’re addicted and you crave them and you don’t even realize it. This issue is actually very upsetting to us as we see relatives and friends eating these “food-like” things, getting sick all the time not knowing why, when the answer is staring them smack in their face-from their plate yelling “Hi! Eat Me!”

Our point here is that health is simple, not complicated. Just eat real food. By real food we mean food that is as close to its original, whole form as it can be. We know this isn’t always possible 100% of the time for everyone, but we know for a fact it’s possible most of the time.  Health is a choice and you vote with every single spoon and fork full of food that you’re putting into your mouth. For or against yourself. It’s that simple.

So, since my sister and I were discussing this topic, we were thinking that it would be helpful to let you know a few food-related items/ingredients that we try our best to avoid (besides animal products of course) and why we avoid them. We truly encourage you to do your own research on each and every one of the listed items below so you can make informed decisions for yourself on what you put into your own body. You’ll thank yourself later!

1. High Fructose Corn Syrup This is a highly processed and refined sugar that comes from corn-so it’s super cheap and is put into everything from cereal to sodas to yogurt to breads-you name it. It is an inflammatory and is directly linked to Diabetes and obesity among many other ailments. It is NOT your friend.  Like all refined sugars, it’s highly-addictive and your body will crave more and more. One of the only ways to avoid it is to be aware of it, read all labels, and to cut back on the processed foods. I went to the grocery store and snapped 2 pictures of seemingly harmless items most people have in their cabinets-Heinz Ketchup and Aunt Jemima Syrup. I highlighted what every consumer should be wary of.

2. Aspartame/Saccharin/Other Artificial Sweetners Going by several names such as NutraSweet, Equal, EqualMeasure, and Spoonful, we have been avoiding these little devils for many many years now. I remember when we were kids, our mom would beg her friends and family to avoid these fake sugars because of studies she read on it causing short term memory loss and holes in the brains of lab rats. People thought she was crazy to think it was harmful, but now, the world is waking up-as it usually does-late in the game. At least people are beginning to realize it though. “Some of the ninety-two aspartame side effects listed by the FDA include memory loss, nerve cell damage, migraines, reproductive disorders, mental confusion, brain lesions, blindness, joint pain, Alzheimer’s, bloating, nervous system disorders, hair loss, food cravings, and weight gain…When ingested, one of aspartame’s ingredients, methyl alcohol, converts into formaldehyde, a deadly neurotoxin. (Skinny Bitch pg. 34-35) You can find aspartame in thousands of foods, drinks, diet sodas, almost all gum, and vitamins. Oh and also, in the end, artificial sweeteners actually cause your body to store more fat!

3. White flour/Most breads The only breads we buy for our own homes are by Alvarado St. Bakery (here)and Food For Life (here) including Ezekiel Bread. These breads and tortillas are made of live sprouted whole grains and are much better for you as they are a nutrient-rich food due to the live sprouts. They are more easily digestable for your body and contain a higher protein and fiber content than regular breads. There are 3 components to all grains: the germ, the bran, and the endosperm. During the process of milling these grains for white breads, on the other hand, 2 important parts of a grain are removed-the germ and the bran-which is where the nutrients and fiber are located. White breads only use the endosperm of the grain-which is mostly carbohydrate and has little nutrient density. If we are eating out at a restaurant, we choose multi-grain or wheat breads-but even those make us feel sluggish now that our body has adjusted to a better live option. We aren’t 100% perfect with this-but on a day-to-day basis we are really good about it.

4. Soft drinks We did not grow up obsessed with drinking soft drinks as kids. Sure, they were around and we would have a Coke here and there, but 90% of the time, we followed in our mother’s footsteps, drinking water with lemon and, occasionally, tea. We think that actually played a huge role in our not becoming interested in carbonated drinks, despite our friends drinking them on either sides of us at the lunch tables at school. To this day, we avoid them. Our mom explained to us that sodas were empty calories and weren’t good for us-especially diet sodas-containing artificial sweeteners. Plus we both agree that we always felt bloated after having just a few sips of a soft drink! Not to mention how bad they are for your teeth…so much sugary syrup! Did you know that a typical 12oz Coke has around 10 teaspoons of sugar in it? That is crazy town! So yea-this one is such an easy no-no for us. Here are just a few of the fun things that diet sodas are doing to your body: HERE

5. Fried foods We grew up in New Orleans and this town can do up some fried foods, let me tell ya! We’ve got fried oyster poboys, fried shrimp, fried onion mum, fried fish-you name it and people fry it and love it. While fried foods do taste good, we admit, we avoid it 99.9% of the time. Loaded up with calories and fat, fried foods can contain trans fats-which put you at a higher risk of heart disease. Like a car, your body needs fuel that is clean and will help it run smoothly, not clog it up with greasy crap!

6. Super processed foods First of all, never believe anything you read on the outside of a box. It’s an advertising ploy to get you to buy it and eat it, believing you’re doing yourself a favor. “Low-fat!”, “Gluten-Free!”, “Zero Calories!” “Sugar-Free!” “All Natural!” While some of this may be true-there’s usually some other component in the mixture that off-sets the lack of a bad ingredient with another equal or worse ingredient. For instance, sugar-free soda is even worse than regular soda. See #4 on this list as to why. Anyways, super-processed foods also mean that the ingredients that were alive and good are now dead and have been broken down to components that your body won’t even recognize as food-and therefore your body will utilize so much of its energy trying to break it down inside of you to figure it all out. So we avoid most processed foods with over 5 ingredients and/or with ingredients we don’t understand.

7. MSG aka Monosodium Glutamate Basically, MSG is a cheap flavor enhancer. It also is toxic. Suprise! Big Agro-Biz puts toxins in our food! It causes migraines and affects your neurotransmitters. You’re probably affected by it but don’t realize it because it’s in so many things you probably eat all the time. Here is a list of aliases that MSG goes by on labels: MSG Aliases. Meats and processed foods contain it and guess what?! There are no regulations on how much companies can put into your food. Scary thought, right? Read more about it here.

8. Coffee Yes-we know what you’re thinking: “Are they CrAzY? I couldn’t live without my coffee!” We know the topic of coffee is much debated. People feel extremely passionate about their coffee-we get it. We used to drink coffee too.  The issue that we each had was that it would cause our stomachs ache every single time we drank it. We read The Ph Miracle and in it Dr. Robert Young explains how coffee has an extremely acidic PH level-which isn’t good at all for our body-the same way that animal products and sugars have a super acidic PH level.  The more food and drink products you consume with acidic PH levels, the more your body pulls calcium reserves from your bones to neutralize the acids-thus leaving you with weaker bones. So, coffee, believe it or not, was a simple thing for us to nix once we learned about that. But this, along with everything else on this list is a personal choice. We will have mocha coffee flavored vegan ice cream from time to time though on a special occasion or a small cup every now and then. But generally, we have been avoiding coffee for about a year now. Hot or Iced Chai tea with soy/almond milk has become our latest fav!

9. Non-Organic Corn and Soy This article from Natural News basically says it all for us: “More than 90 percent of all soybeans grown in the United States are genetically modified (GM) for herbicide resistance and are consequently sprayed with massive quantities of those toxic chemicals. Fully 85 percent of all corn grown in the country is also genetically engineered, either for herbicide resistance or to produce pesticides within its tissues. Since farmers sell their corn and soy to large distributors who mix the product together for processing, this essentially means that 100 percent of non-organic corn and soy products on the US market are GM.” So that, in a nutshell, is why we avoid non-organic corn and soy products.

10. Fast Food It isn’t real food and contains all of the above that we avoid. Plain and simple. 🙂

We hope this post helps you all identify the areas in your diet that can be improved upon so you can be on your way to a happier, healthier you!

Are there any ingredients or food items that you tend to avoid in the name of better health?

We’d love to know as we’re constantly learning more and more from you guys!


How to Eat More Plants

Since Earth Day was yesterday and eating healthy and more sustainably is fresh on your mind, I have some tips to help you eat more plants! Eating a whole food, plant-based diet is not only the healthiest way to fuel your body, but it’s also the healthiest and most sustainable for the entire planet. The animals tend to like it as well 😉 So whether you are vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian, or omnivore, everyone can benefit from eating more plant foods. After all, where do you think your zesty steak, hamburger, or your grilled chicken gets all the flavor that you really love? That’s right folks-plants! Seasonings, herbs, lemon, soy sauce, etc. are all plants or are derived from plants. Our palette craves these flavors-not the true flavors of flesh and blood. This is an interesting thing to think about because I have come across people who think the foods that I eat must be bland or flavor-less. I always find this funny because one of the main reasons that your steak or chicken tastes palatable is because, well, first you’ve cooked it so that you don’t die or get sick eating it, and then secondly, you’ve seasoned, infused, or marinated it with the flavors of vegetables or herbs. Remember this as you transition towards eating more vegetables. The secret lies in the plants.

I’ll be the first to admit that over the last 10 or so years that I have been a vegetarian, I didn’t really eat enough vegetables. I liked them just fine, but that was it. I relied on veggie meats and pastas with only occasional true vegetable-based dinners. I guess I was intimidated by preparing vegetables on my own. I also didn’t have the knowledge that I do now about how important and key the nutrients in plants really are. Once I did my own homework and decided to go vegan 9 months ago, I started to understand what health really is all about. It isn’t about fat or skinny. It isn’t about that processed bag of crackers that only has 100 calories or that sugar-free soda. It isn’t only about the fats, carbs, or protein. It’s about micro-nutrients and phytochemicals! It’s about real living foods that contain the energy of life! It’s about regeneration of cells through respiration, perspiration, and nutrition. It’s about knowing how certain foods and activities make you feel and how they affect your body and your mind! I’m not saying that I have reached the peak of health or that I am perfect in everything I do and eat-because I’m definitely not. But I have come a long way from where I was-and I feel all the better for it and am still learning and growing in this lifestyle. I enjoy my meals a thousand times more now and that is such a fun gift to myself!

So now that I’ve gone on my passionate shpeal, I’ll get down to business. I really want to give you guys a few tips and pointers on how to add more plants to your diet.

Tip 1-Experiment With Your Own Recipes

Over the 11 year course of my sister and I being vegetarian, our mom’s first inclination for accomodating us was to cook her usual meals, only she would replace the chicken, fish, or meat with vegetables instead. Or she would make a side dish minus the animal protein. For example, if she made red beans and rice, she would make a side pot of it leaving out the sausage. And once we went vegan,  she would do everything the same minus the meat/dairy/eggs, and add the veggies or mushrooms or beans. For instance, instead of making Chicken Cacciatore she would make Vegetable Cacciatore! And it was always delicious-whatever she’d make in this new way! And through this trial run of helping us out, she, along with my step-dad, transitioned into a plant-based lifestyle.

Tip 2-Try Any One New Veggie/Fruit/Bean/Nut/Grain a week.

If I would have stayed in my little box of only eating what I know, my food would get old and boring. I would not really have discovered the tastes and possibilities of foods such as sweet potatoes, grapefruit, kale, watercress, chia seeds, fresh ginger, edamame, avocados, different rices and grains including quinoa, garbonzo beans, cashews, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, berries, tofu, mushrooms, etc. Once you try something new, you’ll become familiar and comfortable with it and you will possibly continue to use it in creating new recipes or incorporating into your current recipes. I always suggest that whatever you’re cooking, throw a little something green in it! If you’re making spaghetti or pasta, throw in some fresh spinach! Spinach doesn’t have a bold, too noticeable flavor and it will add nutrient value to your meal! Also, remember that if you try something and don’t like it, there are sooo many other plants out there to try! That’s the beauty of this-you aren’t stuck if you find one that you don’t like!

Tip 3-Make a Green Smoothie!

Green smoothies are a fun way to get a blast of nutrients that you otherwise would not have gotten! Start with adding spinach since you really won’t be able to taste it once it’s mixed in with you smoothie. It’s really the most bizarre thing how it hides in there and doesn’t interfere with the fruity flavor. The most basic and easy smoothie to make that I like is my banana smoothie. Cut up a banana, freeze it overnight, or for a few hours, throw it in the blender. Add some almond or soy milk, some ice, a little handful of oats, a big handful of fresh spinach, maybe some almonds, walnuts,chia seeds, or ground up flaxseeds and blend away. It’ll be green and it’ll taste delicious! I even add a little almond butter, peanut butter, cocoa powder, or frozen blueberries sometimes. Just experiment with what you know you like, adding in the green. Once you become familiar, try adding fresh kale or spirulina or even some avocado! If the leafy greens freak you out, find an organic whole food green powder. I personally haven’t tried those but I know a lot of people use them and like them.

Tip 4- Eat Salad Before (or as) Your Dinner.

My husband Jason is a big salad-lover. I’d even say he’s been more of a salad lover than I have been-until now that is. Even before he decided to be a vegetarian, he insisted on eating salads before dinner. I wouldn’t always join him (saving my appetite for the grand prize of whatever meal we had cooking), but I started to and I really loved doing this. Salads can be so good! Sometimes we’ll just make a huge fully-loaded salad for our meal-and it’s way more than enough to fill us up. As for dressings, sometimes we’ll top our salads with a little olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon, and sea salt. Other times we enjoy Annie’s Goddess Dressing. You could even make your own low-fat, oil-less citrus dressing by blending some fresh orange, a little water, and some cashews.

Tip 5- Eat Fruit

Everyone loves fruit! The next time that you have a craving for sugar, go for fruit instead of processed and refined sugary treats! Start with fruits you know and love, and then branch out trying new ones! Eventually, you will be accustomed to not eating refined sugar. You’ll realize the difference in the way you feel once you stop eating refined sugar for a few weeks and then have a cookie or a piece of cake. You’ll probably get a headache, stomach ache, or feel super tired afterward-or super wired and then tired. It’s no fun, but you’ll feel the difference and know you were on the right path staying away from those things.

Tip 6-Be Aware

Realize that most Americans eat animal products at every single meal. Usually there is a hunk of some kind of meat/chicken/fish as the centerpiece and there are sides such as potatoes, corn, or other vegetables–but they are usually slathered in butter or cheese. Even someone eating a fairly “healthy” American diet eats some sort of animal product at each meal, using things such as grilled chicken, low fat cheeses, light butter, dairy yogurt, 2% milk, etc. Every Single Meal. Think about it-that’s 3 meals a day, 21 meals a week, 1, 092 meals a year-all going into your system for your body to process. Once you are aware of  just how much animal flesh/products that you consume, you can make a conscious decision to alter some of your meals so that they include more plants and less animals.


I hope that this helps you guys add more plants into your life! Do any of you have easy tips on what helped you transition to eating more plants? We’d love to hear them!


In Yo Face; My Beauty Perspective

Hey guys!

A friend of mine asked my advice about makeup and skincare recently-which reminded me that I wanted to post about the products I use. Now I have never really had troublesome skin. Every now and then something will pop up on my face, but overall-pretty decent. I also never really had a skincare regimen growing up. I’d wash my face in the morning (with or without whatever face soap I could find in my house) before putting on my makeup and maybe-just maybe- believe it or not-at night before bed. I had a bad habit of doing that-luckily I never really wore much foundation. Anyways, my point is, I never had any specific routine with face wash that I followed. And who knows, maybe that’s why I never had many skin problems. Did you know that over 60% of anything you put on your skin is absorbed? Therefore it makes sense that when you put chemicals ON your skin constantly, it will be unbalanced and will try to compensate and become too dry or too oily. I read somewhere a while back something saying that if you can’t eat it, you shouldn’t put it on your skin. While I believe this, I still do use natural exfoliating products that I’ll discuss below. But anything full of chemicals-I try to avoid as much as possible.

The same goes for deodorant. I never liked the way it felt under my arms or the way it made me smell. I felt icky wearing it honestly. It didn’t feel natural to me. So I never wore it beyond trying it a few times-and guess what? I still don’t wear it and I still don’t feel that I need it. And trust me-I have asked many close people if I’m crazy for thinking I don’t need it and the reaction is always the same- “You always smell good to me!” or “I’ve never noticed anything that would make me think you weren’t wearing deodorant.” And while I realize I don’t ALWAYS smell like roses, I still feel better not wearing any. There’s a short little hippie inside me hehe Joking aside though, most deodorants contain aluminum-which is highly toxic to our bodies-so rubbing that under our arms near our breasts and lymph nodes just doesn’t fly by me. Many brands do make some that do not contain aluminum so my suggestion here is that if you feel you need deodorant -check those out. 2 popular brands that can be found in many drugstores and groceries make some that smell nice: “Tom’s of Maine” and “J/A/S/O/N”. LUSH (which I talk about below) also makes very nice all-natural deodorant bars! They even have a Patchouli-scented one. Eat your hearts out, my hippie friends. 🙂

Now back to my face. Last year, I ran out of my store brand “Clean n Clear” or whatever-it-was face wash that I had been using in the mornings. I got lazy and kept forgetting to buy more. A month or so went by and all I had been doing was rinsing my face off in the shower with just water and then using a clean wet towel afterward to really scrub it a little-And then quickly washing it before bed with just water and a clean towel. I noticed a difference in my skin-it felt healthier and looked clearer than before and I had zero zits pop up. So I decided this was what I was going to do from now on! Who knew beauty could come so inexpensively!?

Over the last year though, I felt I needed to exfoliate because I’d always loved how my skin felt after this. So I read online that taking baking soda and water and making a paste in your hand works great on your face. So I tried it and it honestly does. My face felt clean and smooth and I knew there were no harsh chemicals invading my pores. If you do this, always use Baking Soda that does not contain aluminum. Bob’s Red Mill Baking Soda does NOT contain aluminum and does NOT test on animals. I have been using Whole Foods 365 brand but am having trouble finding out if they test on animals or not. I bought it assuming they do not, being Whole Foods, but am finding it hard to find info on it. If anyone knows anything about this-let me know! (After posting this, a friend of mine who works at Whole Foods tweeted Whole Foods asking about this, and they do NOT test on animals! Yay! Thanks, again Jess!).  Arm & Hammer does not contain aluminum, but they DO test on animals, from what I’ve read. So stay away from that for sure. Also, I try to avoid parabens. These are a preservatives used in cosmetics and by pharmacutical companies. They are linked to cancers such as breast cancer and are toxic to our bodies. I recently read an article about a study done where doctors inspected the tissues of breast cancer tumors from patients who died and confirmed that in ALL of them there were parabens in the tumors. Scary stuff.

Moving on, another friend of mine introduced me to LUSH about 6 months ago! Oh my goodness…heaven 🙂 (www.lush.com) Most of their products are made from natural ingredients that you will recognize like rose oil, sea salt, coconut oil, and avocado, to name a few. They do not test on animals and the majority of their products are vegan except for a few that contain honey. So I started out by buying “Dark Angels” face scrub. It’s charcoal black and feels like mud/sand. It smells amazing and exfoliates wonderfully! This is actually made for oily skin, but I have normal skin and I find it still works great! I also bought “UltraBalm” because my lips always seem chappy. This stuff rules. I use it for so many things! It’s like a clean vaseline. The cool part about it is it’s made with jojoba oil which is an oil that most closely resembles our natural skin oils. I use it as lip balm, eye makeup remover, and I put it on my heels after buffing and scrubbing them and on my elbows. Some people put it on their eyelashes before bed and swear it makes them fuller and healthier. If you buy this glorious stuff, google about it because you will find lists upon lists of the awesome things you can do with it.

Ok, moving on to my next LUSH product! Ocean Salt scrub. You can use it on your face and body so I keep it in the shower. It’s like a margarita on your face! It’s full of different salts and it has sweet and saltiness and as you rinse it off your face-you taste the salt and its just great! It also contains vodka as an astringent! Too fun! It feels great though.

LUSH also makes fun bath bombs! I personally didn’t want to buy each bomb for $3-$8 each, so I found recipes online and made my own! But I’m saving that for another post! Stay tuned!

And then there’s the beloved Organic Cold-Pressed Coconut Oil! I have read/seen countless blog posts, YouTube vids, articles, etc. about how great coconut oil is for your skin. So I bought some recently. I used it as yummy lip balm and plan on using it for my face in some way and on my legs.

Something else I’d also like to mention is that my skin again changed for the better once I gave up dairy around 5 months ago. This has to be the best my skin has ever been for an extended period of time. It’s more supple and smooth and I think I’ve had one minor zit pop up since-and whaddaya know-it was right after the holidays filled with sugary treats! It’s all connected my friends. What you put into your body, shows on the outside.

So there you have it. The fun products I use! If you guys use anything that’s cruelty-free, all natural, and vegan please let me know! I’m just a girl and I love fun beauty tips!

XOXO Kelli