Say, say, say, what do you say? ~ (Dr. Suess, Mr. Brown Can Moo)
Dr. McDougall says no added fat or oils,
Natalia Rose says no soy or peanuts, or potatoes
Dr. Joel Furhman says no bread, no pasta
Diana Stobo says no wheat,
Dr. Jeff Novick says no green smoothies
Robyn Openshaw says no yeast or sugar
Dr. T. Colin Campbell says no animal protien
Dr. Atkins says no fruit
My brain has been in a swirly.
Do you ever get tired of all the conflicting nutrition and dietary voices, and all they have to say?
Say, say, say, what do you say?
About one month ago I decided to try an experiment. Remove all added fat (even avocados, nuts and seeds, olives, soy, and oil additionally), and flour from my diet, to see if I could lose, unnecessarily, 15 lbs, recommended by Dr. John McDougall in hopes that I might heal a hormone imbalance.
After much sacrifice, I felt deprived for the first time on a whole foods, plant based diet. I felt like I was constantly having to tell myself, "no."
I came back home from a very physically intensive (I did a lot of movement and exercise!) vacation, strictly keeping all the McDougall rules, and I weighed more than when I began. And I can tell you why. I realize I was on vacation. I realize it was the Thanksgiving Holiday. I realize that I had to eat out more than usual. However, I know the main reason is because I felt deprived, so I ate. And ate. And ate. Every day, way more than I normally would. Because I. felt. deprived.
I have decided that, for me, the most important factor in eating healthily is that I not feel deprived. I need to feel free.
After reading so many nutrition books, and studying, feeling confused and frustrated, and experimenting on what makes my body feel the healthiest, I have had to stand back.
Step away from the books.
Take into account all of the information I have learned about foods, and their nutrient contents.
And then eat what my body is craving. What sounds good, what I like.
Create my own, Dr. Ashlee eating plan. Pay attention to how I feel, emotionally and physically, and then eat the foods that make me feel awesome.
I like being educated about foods, and their nutrition content, and then feeling the freedom to make choices as I see fit.
Being vegan is probably one of the most freeing choices I have ever made. I have not felt deprived, in fact, I felt like I was being given permission to not eat the stuff that had been weighing me down for so long. I also felt permission to eat some of the most delicious, and fantastic foods without guilt. Vegetables, fruit, breads, grains, beans, nuts, seeds...
When I walk into a produce or bulk foods section of a grocery store, and see all of the variety, I get ecstatic. I have to hide my excitement from all of the other shoppers around me. The choices. The colors. The variety. The endless possibilities.
While I do not call this fat free experiment a "failed" experiment, I do declare an end to it. I learned a lot. It was, actually, successful. Now that I feel so much freedom in choice, by deciding to not be a fat free, flour free vegan, I have relished in eating the healthiest of food. I haven't gone crazy and added cashew cheese to everything, made peanut butter cookies every day, and gorged myself on avocados and bread.
In fact, quite the opposite has happened. Now that I feel free to eat plant foods as I see fit, I find myself gravitating towards raw fruits and vegetables, cooked vegetables with some whole grains, and the occasional sweet treat. It feels great. I feel free again.
I do need to make sure that I clarify, and say that I do not add oils to my food, cooking, or baking about 98% of the time. So I still consider myself an oil free vegan. I'm not perfect. A good friend introduced me to the idea of homemade tortillas...so good! They require a tad bit of added oils, and I let myself have them every once in a while.
I have always felt that there are so many health benefits to avocado, nuts, seeds, tofu, and olives. As I have said, while I am not gorging myself on them, I do have a greater understanding of them. I understand that they are higher in calories and fat, and that they are more of a condiment or treat than a main dish. Now that I have that understanding, I have no need to demonize these foods.
What have I been eating lately?
Whole grain, hot cereals.
Rice, and cooked vegetables.
Indian Vegetable Biryani, one of my new favorite ways to eat rice and vegetables.
Raw carrot juice. Raw fruit.
The occasional, fat free, whole wheat cinnamon roll. Coming soon! They are so good!
We recently had Asian stir fry. And black bean burgers with baked potato fries.
Green smoothies. Green salads.
One of my new, favorite, mostly raw salad dressings.
In my decision to just let myself eat intuitively, taking my nutrition knowledge into account, I have found a new love for raw foods. Nothing replaces them in flavor and satisfaction.
Plus I can stuff my face with them, all day, because I am a big eater. I love to eat volumes and volumes of food. Never did well with the small portions idea.
The original version of this dressing requires that the cranberries be cooked. After making the dressing according to the original recipe, it came out too sour and gummy (I tried replacing oil with instant corn starch).
I understand the health benefits of raw cranberries, and thought, why? Why do the cranberries have to be cooked first? Can't they be raw?
I tried using the cranberries raw, and adding raw apple, raw orange juice, and then a little bit of soy yogurt, instead of oil.
A tangy, slightly sweet, refreshing, and mostly raw cranberry dressing.
Perfect for Christmas, with all the familiar ingredients and smells of the Holidays.
Mostly Raw, Holiday Cranberry Apple Orange Vinaigrette
Inspired by Angela Liddon
1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, preferably organic
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1.5 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed clementine or orange juice
1 gala apple, or other sweet apple, preferably organic, cut into large chunks
3 tablespoons soy vanilla yogurt (optional, it just makes the dressing more creamy, and less sour)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Black Pepper to taste (I used about 1/4 teaspoon)
1-2 teaspoons stevia powder
2-3 tablespoons pecans, (optional, for garnish, or pulsed in, adds buttery flavor)
Place all ingredients in blender (except for pecans) and blend until completely emulsified, about 1-2 minutes.
Optionally, after dressing has been completely blended, add pecans and pulse into the dressing (you want them to remain in chunks). Chill in refrigerator for optimal taste. Enjoy on fresh salads.
Now It's Your Turn:
What do you say? What is the most important factor for you in being able to enjoy eating healthy foods?