Lynne and Heather embark on the Eat to Live diet developed by Dr. Joel Furhman. The adventure begins with an initial 6 week diet to re-energise and detox the body. Follow us as we discard our favourite high calorie/low nutrient foods for a nutritional, disease-free diet!

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Lesson 1: Prepare for the busy days

yummy veg at a farmer's market in Aix en Provence
It's funny...we prepare: our finances, our work week, social calendar, family engagements...the list goes on. But one of the things most people (me included) do not prepare is what we plan to eat for the week. Most people are busy so popping to the shop to pick up a pizza or even takeaway is sometimes too easy. However, why don't we spend time preparing what we will eat? Certainly this is just as important as preparing yourself for financial security? We should be preparing ourselves for a healthy future!

In the past few weeks following a plant-based diet, I have learned that preparation is key! I have been quite busy the last few weeks and I've been getting back home around 7-10 pm during the week. Part of this is because I'm making headway on my 4 goals before 2013 (next blog post coming up later this week). And while this is giving me a huge sense of happiness and accomplishment, it isn't that great for a plant-based diet. By the time I've been dragging myself into my flat, I'm usually ravenous - wanting a quick meal, which is do-able on this diet if you have the appropriate ingredients and a resourceful mind. However, you see...I also haven't had time to buy my weekly shopping. I've been popping into my local Sainsburys for odds and ends all week. When I haven't eaten since lunch and I'm shopping for dinner at 7-10 pm, it's so very easy to pick up that pizza that I can pop in the oven. It's harder to resist the temptation when your stomach is growling like a bear after hibernation (bears do that right?).

It's easy to forget that in these instances, it takes as much time for a pizza to cook as it does to prepare a black bean avocado salad (recipe below) and strawberries with chocolate almond dip. The first requires no prep to make but provides little health benefits. The later might take 15 minutes of prep but is a healthier option full of essential minerals and vitamins and is just as tasty (the salad is a great fix if you're craving a burrito!)

If I chose the first choice, I would feel bloated but slightly peckish. Insert me stuffing my face full of chocolate digestives...With the plant-based option, I would feel sated. No bloating and no need or want to binge on biscuits! 

Lesson 1: Thou shall not forgo weekly shopping.
Lesson 2: Thou shall prepare a large meal on Sunday to freeze leftovers for convenient weekday meals. 

I might even borrow a trick out of my mom's book and write out a tentative weekly meal plan...we'll see. Regardless, freezing a rainy day dish is perfect for those days you're either too busy or too tired to put much effort into your meal. By following this, you can make sure you eat without compromising your health.

Here's one of my go-to rainy day dishes:

Black Bean Avocado Salad (tweaked from the Black Bean Lettuce Bundles in Eat to Live pg 354)
  • 2 cups cooked or canned no-salt-added or low sodium black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 large, ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and mashed
  • 1/2 medium green bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 green onions chopped
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh coriander (cilatro)
  • 1/3 cup mild no-salt-added or low-sodium salsa
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (lemon juice also works in a pinch!)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (sometimes I throw two cloves in for a stronger taste)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1-2 heads of romaine lettuce chopped
In a medium sized mixing bowl, mash the avocado and beans together with a fork. Mix all other ingredients. Spread mixture on top of the salad. Depending on the size of your salad you may have leftover for another salad!

Strawberries with Almond Chocolate Dip (dip recipe from pg 370 Eat to Live)
  • 2/3 c raw almond butter (only almonds in this)
  • 1 c unsweetened soy or almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp natural cocoa powder
  • 2/3 c dates pitted
Blend everything in a blender until smooth and creamy, adding more milk if necessary. Pour over strawberries or other fruit of your choice and enjoy!

What's your rainy day dish? Would love suggestions! x h

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

A new season....

Turning over a new leaf....Turn! Turn! Turn! Sometimes there's just something inside you that tells you it's time to turn...that this is a new season. Time to make a change. If you are sensing that, take a moment to listen to it, take that step and make a change!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

A Little Background......

I was raised in small town USA. The Midwest, the "Cornbelt" of the States; acres of wheat, soybeans, oats, corn and grazing cows are familiar sights here. The Amish community are our neighbors. We frequent the same banks and stores. Oftentimes, we spot an Amish horse & buggy hitched to a fence at Dairy Queen while the family enjoys an ice cream treat. It is here, in this community, that I learned how and what to eat.
Basically, it was "anything goes". My family served up all the traditional meals of the standard American diet: beef, ham, sausage & bacon, poultry, lunchmeat, cheese, butter, milk, eggs, processed foods and snacks. Vegetables (if served, at all) were always flavored with butter & salt. Potatoes were mashed, butter & salt were added, then gravy was poured over all. Fresh fruit was seldom eaten and showed up mainly canned in sweetened juice, or in baked goods.
                                          (Left to right, front row: my sister, Kim, Me, my
                                            sister, Julie, my Mom. back row: my brother, Ron,
                                            my Dad)
Our family's health was generally good. We were active and spent alot of time outdoors (no video games at that time). None of us were overweight. We weren't sedentary, so we burned off the calories we ate. We looked fit and healthy, but I'd really like to know what our cholesterol levels were, even as young children!

Fast, I am a mother of three. As a mom, I am more conscious of what I am feeding my family. I breastfeed (no formula-fed babies here!).  I grow a garden, canning & freezing the harvest. I bake my own bread, but still prepare the same foods I grew up with. A little improvement, but not much.
                                           (My three little ones, left to right: Andrew,
                                             Heather, and Ethan. sorry for the glare on
Years later, I am a single parent of three teens. Working a full-time job and parenting leaves me no time in the kitchen! Our lifestyle is busy with work, school and social activities, so we eat more frozen processed foods, order pizza and hit the fast food joints. This continues throughout their college years.
                                          ( Left to right, front row: son, Andrew, daughter,
                                            Heather, Me, son, Ethan. back row: my Dad
                                            and Mom)

Present....I am now 48 yrs. old, and remarried. My children are young adults, out on their own. After 48 years of eating the standard American diet, my body finally starts to revolt and feel the effects...high blood pressure, anemia, fatigue, overweight.
I've decided to turn the tide, and exchange the SAD diet, for the one loaded with nutrients found in whole foods and plants.
My goals:
Reverse hypertension
Conquer anemia
Lose weight
Regain health/fitness
My results (after only 2 wks!):
An inner calm, sense of well-being
Bloated feeling gone
Clothes feel looser
Satisfied, not hungry all the time
Energy slowly returning

I ask you this:
If we can eat our way to the destruction of our health, why can't we eat our way to the restoration of our health?
It seems we just that!
Til next time...

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Finding happy

4 Simple Goals (by A Beautiful Mess)

In my spare time, I've been reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. It's a great read with inspirational quotes (from the ancient Greeks to those studying positive psychology) and research on what makes people happy. Gretchen spent one year checking off her new year's resolutions to find out what makes her happy.

This book is exactly what I need right now. I've always been a very happy person - some might say that I have an overdose of serotonin. I always take it as a compliment. Since starting this diet - I feel healthy and alert. However, there's still a part of me (based on my recent breakup from a long-term relationship) that has lost a little bit of happiness and am trying to regain it. Focusing on a healthy body and mind is my goal for the rest of the year.

Gretchen wrote about how having challenges and goals in life actually increase your happiness. She said, "The challenge, therefore, is to take pleasure in the 'atmosphere of growth,' in the gradual progress made toward a goal, in the present." She quoted Friedrich Nietzsche as saying, "The end of a melody is not its goal; but nonetheless, if the melody had not reached its end it would not have reached its goal either. A parable."

It seems, without knowing it, that my Eat to Live challenge will lead me to being healthy and happy in body and mind.

While reading one of my favourite blogs A Beautiful Mess, I was reminded again by how important having goals in life are. By creating 4 simple goals to complete before 2013, I'll be enriching my life and in turn, will be able to be stronger, happier and healthier to support my friends and family.

Here are the 4 simple goals rules as assigned by A Beautiful Mess blog:

  • Choose simple goals that will make your life richer and happier on a daily basis.Choose things that you might not otherwise get done, but that are not difficult to accomplish.
  • Do not choose result-oriented goals. Choose activity-oriented goals. For example...instead of  "lose 10 pounds", choose something like "eat fresh fruits and vegetables every day". Choose positive actions instead of the end result.
  • Choose goals that are personal that you believe will truly make your life richer just by doing them. They can be daily, weekly or one-time experiences.
  • Choose a reward for each goal as it is accomplished. It can be a small or large reward - it's up to you!

My 4 simple goals before 2013...

  1. Feel good in my own body by following the Eat to Live six week diet plan. My mom and I will continue to blog at least twice a week each about our experiences. I'm currently doing the Eat to Live Six Week plan. As of the weekend, I have lost 10 pounds!! I can have an unlimited amount of: raw vegetables; cooked green and non-green nutrient-rich vegetables (i.e. eggplant, mushrooms, peppers, onions, tomatoes, carrots, cauliflower); beans, legumes, bean sprouts and tofu as well as fresh fruits. I can have a limited amount of: cooked, starchy vegetables/whole grains (i.e. butternut and acorn squash, corn, white potatoes, rice, sweet potatoes, bread, cereal (no more than 1 cup a day); raw nuts and seeds (1 oz max per day); avocado (2 oz max per day); dried fruit (2 tbsp max per day) and ground flaxseeds (1 tbsp max. per day). Off limits are: dairy products, animal products, between-meal snacks, fruit juice and oils.
  2. Open a savings account and start a nest egg. (I know, at nearly 27 years old, this is something that I should have done ages ago!) Money might not buy happiness but it does give you piece of mind and independence. By checking this off my to-do list, I can also rid my mind of some stress.
  3. Practice sewing and attend more yoga sessions. I've gotten the sewing buzz (in part by the gorgeous DIY projects like this one at A Beautiful Mess) and after taking an initial "how to use a sewing machine" class earlier this year, I haven't managed to take any further steps in starting this interest until yesterday when I signed up at a local sewing shop to make a button cushion. I'm so excited! Part two of this goal is to take more yoga classes. Yoga is great for the body and mind, which will help me in my general quest for personal happiness. Am considering a beginner's Ashtanga course and hot yoga. Any recommendations?
  4. Don't worry about the future, accept things for what they are and find happiness in myself. I'm a planner. I thrive on to-do lists, goals and hopes and dreams of the future. However, sometimes this can be detrimental. I can forget why I'm doing the lists and goals (to better myself and find inner happiness) and just get caught up in why I haven't finished item 12 on the list. Instead, I'm going to try to appreciate one day at a time - getting the most out of it whether it be going to the gym, working, speaking to family or friends or trying something new. I'm also going to learn to appreciate the downtime and appreciating the silence. This one I think will be the hardest to accomplish but I'm willing to try! In the meantime I will look at this post-it on my mirror for inspiration.

I will be blogging here about achieving goal one with references to goal four. What are your 4 simple goals for 2013? I'd love to know. Whatever they are, I hope they bring you happiness. x h

Thursday, 6 September 2012

"COOKIES! Nom..nom...nom" - Cookie Monster

Let's talk about cravings. This week has been the first week I've been really really strict with the Eat to Live diet. The first couple of weeks I allowed myself a few slices of pizza with friends here, a drink or a birthday dinner there. But this week is the first week I went completely nutritarian. I don't regret it in the least. I feel healthy and not bloated or lethargic after a meal. But I'm not going to lie...I have been craving sweets the past couple of days. Before going on this diet - I always made sure I had something sweet to eat every day (yes, I know this is horrible and didn't help anything but at times I felt like I was addicted to the sugar. If I didn't have it one day I would be irritable. I guess if I lived on Sesame Street I would be the blue lunatic on a sugar high ranting about the chocolate goodness.) Dr. Furhman mentions that most people will spend the first week or two feeling the withdrawal effects of all the unhealthy foods that you normally consume. I like to think of it as a detox. My body is flushing all the sugar out of its system but in the meantime it doesn't stop me from craving some chocolate.

Temptation - although on second thought, it doesn't look as appetising as my Black Bean Brownies!

Today was no exception to my sugar cravings but this time I had temptation. I had a staff meeting at work so we had plenty of biscuits/cookies for everyone. I resisted the whole day (it wasn't worth it) but when I got home - I couldn't resist having something sweet. I decided to make Dr Furham's Black Bean Brownies. They smelled divine!!

Black Bean Brownies
1/2 c dark cocoa powder
2 t. vanilla
1 t. baking soda
1 can of salt-free black beans (drain liquid)
1 T ground flaxseed
1 1/4 c unsweetened applesauce 
2 c pitted dates (chopped)
3/4 c whole wheat flour
1 c walnuts

Put the first six ingredients in the food processor. Turn it on then gradually add the 2 cups of chopped dates, a few at a time until blended. Add the flour and continue to mix until everything is well blended. Turn off the machine, remove the blade and stir in the nuts. Spread into a 13 x 9 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees F/180 degrees C for 20-25 minutes.

Note for my next batch: I did the cheap option (as I still have yet to get a food processor. Although I do have my eye on this beauty!) and only chopped the dates instead of throwing them in a food processor. I recommend not skipping this step as it allows for the dates to mix in well throughout the brownies to ensure the date's natural sugar sweetens the mixture. I'm also thinking about the possibility of throwing peanut butter (the only thing allowed in the peanut butter should be peanuts - no oil, salt, sugar etc) into the mixture. I'm a fool for peanut butter and chocolate so if I have to go cold turkey on Reese's and peanut butter M&Ms I might as well find a wee loophole!

The great thing about this dessert is that you're ensuring that you're getting much-needed daily Omega 3 (in the 1T of flaxseed and the walnuts). A balanced diet including Omega 3, an essential fatty acid, will help treat and prevent chronic diseases (p 160 Eat to Live book).

I hope these brownies help you when you have your sweet cravings. If all else fails, I recommend listening to Jimmy Cliff's "You Can Get It If You Really Want" before you reach for those Reeses, Cadburry's and all other unhealthy delights. x h

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Hello. Goodbye.

My mom and I are very close. Even when I packed by bags and left Ohio for Scotland, we made sure we have never lost touch (Skype is a lifesaver!). So when my mom started having health concerns (I'll let her tell you about that), she found out about Eat to Live by Dr Joel Furhman. She told me she was excited to take this on and that it made sense. I was a bit curious and as I did some reading, I wondered how anyone can lose about 20 pounds in six weeks. Certainly that's unhealthy and just a clever marketing ploy, n'est pas? But the more I read people's success stories and found out that a friend from high school follows it and lost 20 pounds in six weeks (follow her blog here), that is when I really took notice. Who wouldn't want to lose 20 pounds in six weeks, feel good, happy and healthy? So I bought the book. The more I read, the more it made sense.

Side note: Ever since I've moved to Scotland, I've craved carbs. Spaghetti carbonara, pizza, mac and cheese, mash potatoes... The weather is most often cold (average high of 20 degrees C/ 70 degrees F in the summer) and so I bundle up in coats and scarves most days and my stomach tells me to pack on the pounds and prepare for hibernation. This is of course detrimental to my health and after a few years of boring, heavy foods and tiredness I decided I needed a change.

I wanted - needed to do this and so i waited until my payday so that i could invest into my health properly. A complete revamp of my cupboards and fridge is a bit of an investment especially when you're swapping cheese and pizza for ground flaxseed, tahini and almond butter! It also just so happened that my boyfriend decided to end things at this time. Well, silver lining and all, I decided I might as well capitalise on that sick-to-my-stomach feeling. It means I won't be struggling with those first couple of weeks of cravings that I'm supposed to expect. Also a healthy diet promising to make you feel happy and healthy - what girl (or guy) doesn't want to feel this after a breakup? It's way better than Ben and Jerry's and Adele on repeat. Sign me up!

So for the past two weeks, I've committed to Dr. Furhman's 6 week diet plan (with the exception of having a few wee drinks. But I beg you to forgive me. Have you ever attempted to tell a gay Scotsman you can't have alcohol? It's not in their vocabulary. Their only answer is to pour you a drink and offer it to silence you. One mustn't decline - that would just be poor manners!)

Yesterday my mom came on board this plant-based diet. We've decided to blog to share our experience with anyone who is also interested in following the Eat to Live plan. It will also serve to hold us accountable for our slips and cravings.

Tonight I had these delicious veggie spring roll wraps (cucumber, pepper, carrots and kelp noodles) with a delicious and easy to make Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce.

Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce
From Blueberry Arugula  Adapted from: Fat Free Vegan
Makes about 1 cup of sauce
1/3 C Natural Peanut Butter, Smooth or Crunchy (the only ingredients permitted are peanuts)
2/3 C Water
1 T + 1 t Low-Sodium Soy Sauce
1 t Tamarind Paste (found in the Asian section of Whole Foods if you're in the US or in Real Foods if you're in Edinburgh)
2 Cloves Grated Fresh Garlic
1 T Grated Fresh Ginger
1 t Red Pepper Flakes
Coarsely Chopped Green Onion to Taste

Directions: Combine all ingredients except green onions in a small sauce pan over low heat. Whisk until the mixture has become a smooth, creamy consistency. Take off heat and stir in the green onions. Serve hot over noodles or cold as a dip or salad dressing.
On top of that I had these gorgeous strawberries from Real Foods - the smell of them was so enticing I couldn't help but treat myself! I made Dr Fuhrman's Almond Chocolate Dip (pg 370 of Eat to Live) to dip my strawberries into. Delicious! Although, note to self: I must purchase a food processor to fully enjoy some of the amazing recipes!

The stats

Goodbye unhealthy lifestyle and hello to nutritional foods! 
Weight (I can't believe I'm writing this!): 175-180 lbs
Pre-diet diet: pizza, spaghetti carbonara, mac and cheese, with a few veg and fruits for my "five a day"
New diet: No simple carbs, oils, sugar or salt
Cravings: mozzerella cheese and Ben and Jerry's

I'm saying goodbye to all these unhealthy things in my life and hello to healthy, nutritional foods. Here's to the new adventure. I hope I can stay away from temptation. Stay tuned for more posts and recipes. Wishing you all a happy and healthy week x h

Saturday, 1 September 2012

First Day

"Healing is a natural phenomenon...we are born with a healing system, with the capacity for self-repair, regeneration." Andrew Weil, M.D.

First day, eating plants!
My first day, caught me unprepared! I was originally planning a start date on my 48th birthday (Sept 19), but during a txt-fest with my daughter (she lives in Scotland, and I'm in the U.S.) the seed for this blog was planted! and, I thought....why wait? Why should I wait to start filling my body with the nutrients it needs? So, we decided - no time like the present. Which leads me back to....unprepared!!?
I haven't even gone grocery shopping! No menu planning, list-making, stocking up. The perfect excuse, but I'm not having it!
So, I rummage...and I find: oats, cinnamon, apples (there's breakfast!)

I continue rummaging....brown rice, canned pinto beans, frozen spinach and tortillas (there's lunch/dinner!) I also find sweet corn and yellow string beans, fresh from the farmer's market!
Soooo...where there's a will, there's a way.
Now, off to the store!


Today we launch our new blog, and it seems fitting that we "turn over a new leaf" as we head into the autumn season.
My name is Lynne Flood, and together with my daughter Heather Irish, we begin our journey into a plant-based diet. We are both excited and looking forward to the many discoveries we will make along the way. We hope you will follow us along as we gain more knowledge and insight into this lifestyle change.
My first step begins with two books: "Eat for Health, Book One - the mind makeover", and "Eat for Health, Book Two - the body makeover", by Joel Fuhrman, M.D. These books are a goldmine, loaded with the information we need to make a major lifestyle change. Scientific facts and examples are given in such an uncomplicated and simple manner, making it easy to grasp and understand. There is so much to digest, and I am taking my time to read, underline & highlight. It is important to understand the major impact a plant-based diet has on our health."The most effective prescription is excellent nutrition", J. Fuhrman, M.D.
So, off we go!...on the road to becoming "Nutritarians"!
til' next time....