Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Whole Foods

So a while back I watched this movie called Forks over Knives. It was all about animal related products and how eating a whole foods, plant-based diet could reverse cancers, obesity, and a plethora of other health issues.

While I found the movie completely convincing and intriguing, it takes me a long time to mentally work up to committing to something. (I'll probably write another blog about this chock full of examples.) I've been reading a lot about clean eating as well on different fitness websites and blogs of women who have changed their lifestyles. I recognize the benefits of it and want to move away from processed foods. I've been doing a better job in recent weeks.

But I know the work and research it would take to start a completely healthy and nutritious diet like that. I also put a lot of energy into the things I commit to doing. Those who know me know that when I want to make a change, I do it. I see it through. That's why it takes me so long to work up to things--because I will do it 150%.

The past few weeks I have been experimenting with whole foods recipes and trying out different grains and supplements. I figure I need to start the transition slowly, familiarizing myself with the foods and supplements available. Pinterest has been my best friend.

First, I bought a bag of quinoa at Costco.

I used Pinterest for ideas on what to do with quinoa, and I even looked for breakfast ideas. I made it in a rice cooker. I made it on the stove. For a few nights of dinner, I put it in a whole wheat tortilla along with some black beans, corn, cheese, and some green sauce, using the quinoa as the primary source of protein. I also had it with milk kind of like oatmeal for breakfast. It is really good, and I am excited to replace rice and meat with this, even though I love rice. This is a much healthier alternative.

I've also been working out every day really hard, like I usually do in the summer. I've gone to Les Mills Body Pump classes, Zumba, and step interval (still my favorite). I've increased my running time significantly.

I've tried out arm and leg workouts from Pinterest as well.

And when I get back from the gym I'm pretty hungry. So I found this recipe that calls for quinoa, chia seeds, and a lot of other unfamiliar whole foods. It's a fast and easy protein snack with superfoods for runners.

Mine did not turn out that pretty. I got very frustrated because I couldn't find the right cocoa powder for it (it's not really cocoa powder) and didn't know enough about it to easily find an alternative. I had to buy agave nectar, chia seeds, and dates, all of which I had never bought before. And natural peanut butter. Seriously? "We are going to charge you more money for the stuff that we did not add to this peanut butter." How on earth does that work? Come on. They were a pain to roll (impossible, really, as the agave made it very sticky), and I'm not sure how much I like the frozenness of it.

Anyway, I've been using the chia seeds every day after working out, like so:

Chia seeds are very cool. I first saw them when my brother Jake was drinking them last year at home. Read up on them.

As I type, I'm waiting on yet another Pinterest pin that I saw tonight: chia seed pudding. It is in the fridge right now and I'm going to stir it in just a minute here.

So being on this crazy kick of whole foods, I ventured out even more. I bought myself some fish oil, which everyone knows about already. I also bought some ground flax (2 lbs for $5 at Big Lots, thank you very much). I bought a different brand of multivitamin because the Equate ones make me sick (like, vomity, even, although that might have something to do with having taken them only with salad). And I got some steel cut oats (also a great deal at Big Lots).

I made some overnight oats from the steel cut oats which were very simple and yummy. I've had that for several breakfast meals with strawberries added. I've been putting the flax into my oatmeal, which is good because you can't taste it and it mixes in easily. I've also added flax to a number of smoothies so far. (I'm not exceeding 1 tbsp of flax per day.)

I bought a big bag of spinach and some egg whites. I've been having a spinach omelet with a little cheese for the past several days, as seen here.

I also used my spinach to make a delicious salad.

I have also had some things I have already eaten regularly that are good for me, like salmon. I made this linguine with garlicky bread crumbs as well, using whole wheat pasta. I'm aware that the pasta is still processed food, but it's better than regular pasta, OK? Don't judge me.

Sorry the photos aren't rotating. Not sure why that's happening, but the file itself is rotated fine. So I don't know.

That dinner was just OK, by the way. Didn't love it. The breadcrumbs were pretty soggy, and I wanted a crunchy texture. The salmon was just OK too. Meh.

I've eaten a lot of almonds and other nuts lately. On that note, I made this recipe last night, when I wanted some cookie dough.

Mine didn't look that pretty. My stomach had a hard time with these, like the protein balls that I made. I'm wondering if it's the agave, since that's new for me.

And yesterday at the store I bought some Silk original coconut milk. I have seen a few recipes on Pinterest that call for coconut milk, and it's got a really interesting taste. It has more calcium and less sugar (and unfortunately less protein) than regular milk, so if I eventually move to the whole food plant-based diet, I can see myself using that 100% of the time. I haven't used it in anything yet, except just drinking it straight from the carton. What? Don't judge me. I'm excited to try this one tomorrow. I might also try this.

Anyway, make no mistake. I've still been eating pretty poorly a lot of the time (see the cupcake below. Rachel gave me 6 of these. Thanks a lot, Raytch!). I had pizza the other night, onion rings for lunch, and soft serve yogurt from Costco today. I'm just trying to make my way over and familiarize myself with grains and other whole foods.

I'm excited to make these tomorrow since I now have all the ingredients!

Along this journey, here are some of the things I've learned:

One is that eating healthy is expensive--if you want to make sure your nutrition needs are being met, anyway.

Two is that you need to have a food processor. The thing about not eating processed foods is that you buy whole, raw foods, and process them yourself! Thankfully, my roommate has one which will suffice for now.

Three is that I can get full on healthy food. I had a small serving of chicken and a huge helping of spinach and a helping of peas just an hour ago.

Four is that it really is possible to get everything you need from nuts, grains, and plants. I'm amazed at the power of oats, berries, greens (like spinach), and seeds.

Five is that I am so grateful that I love vegetables and fruit and healthy food. There's almost no vegetable I don't like. I love the bad food, too, which I'm trying to break away from. But at least I have options--picky eaters are at a disadvantage in that regard.

Six is that I have a lot to learn still. There are a lot of things at Whole Foods or Sunflower Market that I have no idea how to use or what they're good for. I'm still pretty intimidated and feel lost in those stores.

It's sad that we've become so separated from food production that we don't know how to prepare or optimize the amazing foods that are available to us.

So here's to continuing my journey into clean eating, and eventually plant-based eating.


Bri!!! said...

This is awesome! I've never used chia seeds. Also, it might be the agave. Agave is actually very high on the glycemic index and highly processed. It's one of the many things media has touted to be good for us when in fact it can be compared to high fructose corn syrup. Stevia I hear is a healthy option. I personally love real maple syrup!

Rachel said...

I second Bri on the real maple syrup.