Vegan Weightlifting (Part 1)

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When one thinks about weightlifting, perhaps a vegan diet is not the first thing that comes to mind. However, I can attest that it can certainly, and successfully, be done!

If I were to talk about diet with my weightlifting friends or with a random person at the gym, I would hear a lot about whey protein shakes, chicken breast, fish, etc. The common theme is always protein, protein, protein! It’s the weightlifting version of Marsha from the Brady Bunch, and just as dramatic too. Protein is the holy grail of the common weightlifter, the elixir of life. All must bow before the almighty protein! That said, they generally don’t know much else about nutrition or how it works, so the concept of not eating meat while weightlifting is as farfetched an idea as Wile E. Coyote catching the Roadrunner.

One thing to remember is that most weightlifters are paradoxically not very concerned with health. Most of them either just want to “be big” or “bench 3 plates” (sometimes, but far from always, both). I personally started working out way back when because I wanted to look and FEEL good. Feeling good, to me at least, was synonymous with being healthy since that’s probably the best way to feel good. I too went through the protein to the max stage, but for me it was only a stage and a foundation to learn more and more about nutrition. Back in my copious meat eating days, I would eat approximately 200 grams of protein or more each day. Did I notice any major increase in strength or size? Honestly no I did not. I also tried drinking various whey protein shakes. With the protein shakes, I noticed one thing immediately; they made my stomach feel like a rebel conflict just broke out in it. Anything that makes my stomach feel like that is just not something I am interested in- no matter how much protein it contains. I stopped drinking those, and “shockingly” I didn’t notice the slightest difference in either my appearance or how much weight I could lift. My stomach did feel a lot better though. The bloated weightlifter is just not the look I was going for.

Continue Reading…

Paper & Twine Liquid Chalkers Review

Paper & Twine Liquid Chalkers

I recently received Paper & Twine Liquid Chalkers to review and (spoiler alert) I couldn’t be happier with them! I’ve been meaning to pick up chalk pens for awhile now to update our kitchen organization and use for some holiday crafts and baby-to-be DIY projects.

Product Overview and Features:

  • 6mm Chisel Tip (write thin or thick lines)
  • Includes 8 bright colors: green, purple, red, orange, pink, yellow, blue, white
  • Can use on any non-porous surface (always test first) such as glass, mirrors, ceramics, and of course, chalkboards!
  • Dust-free on non-porous surfaces
  • Wipes off easily with a damp cloth or tissue

How to Use:

Shake the chalker and depress the tip of the chalker several times until ink flows into the tip. With colored chalkers, this is very easy and obvious to see.

Liquid Chalkers in Use:

The first test I put the Paper & Twine Liquid Chalkers to was updating the labels on our baked goods — I have chalkboard labels and have been using regular chalk, which is hard to write with and always getting smudged off. Check out the before and after! Continue Reading…

Walmart Baby Box Subscription – Second Trimester Review (October 2014)

Walmart Baby Box - Second Trimester

At 25 weeks, I’m nearing the homestretch of my second trimester and getting a little over-excited for all things baby so I was super excited to receive my Walmart Baby Box – Second Trimester in the mail this week.

How It Works:

The Walmart Baby Box is a FREE subscription box for Mama’s-to-be (you do pay $5 shipping each time).  Boxes ship every 3 months – one for each stage of pregnancy and babyhood. You can choose a boy, girl, or unisex box. I chose the gender neutral box. Is it worth the shipping costs? Read on to find out!

What’s In the Box:

  • NUK Orthodontic Pacifier (0-6 months)
  • ALL laundry detergent and dryer sheet samples (Free & Clear)
  • Lansinoh breast milk storage bags and nursing pad samples
  • Pampers sensitive wipes and newborn diaper sample in diaper pouch
  • Assorted coupons (NUK, Little Remedies, Dreft, etc.)

Continue Reading…

Why We’re Not Finding Out the Sex of Our Baby Before the Birth

Bambi, Flower, Thumper

When you tell people that you’re expecting, it seems the first question is always “Do you know if the baby is a girl or boy yet?”. And when we share that we’re waiting to find out until baby makes his/her grand entrance into the world, we get one of two responses:

“Awesome!”, “Good for you!”, “That’s what we did!” or similar

OR

“Whyyyyy?!?!?” which is quickly followed with “How will you decorate the nursery?” (We’re not having one) and “What about the name?” (We’ll pick out options for each, not so hard) and my personal favorite “Isn’t it driving you completely CRAZY not to know? Don’t you want to know? How can you not want to know?!?” (No, we’re okay with this, but clearly you could use a glass of wine after hearing our news…).  So for those of you wondering “Whyyyy?!?!?”, here is why waiting to find out was the right choice for us:

Ultrasounds Are Still Educated Guesses

Ultrasound technology has come a long way over the years but even now, they can still lead to the wrong gender prediction. Everyone knows at least one person who was supposed to have (or be) a girl/boy but got quite a surprise in the delivery room.

Babies Do Not Care About Pink v. Blue

Beautifully decorated nurseries are more for the parents than the baby, at least at first. Our nursery is half of our master bedroom, meaning it needs to be something both hubby and I can live with on a daily basis. Pale yellow and sage work with our white furniture and current bedspread/curtains/rug and scream “baby” a lot less than a pepto-bismol or blueberry explosion over half the room. If the gender is not known, it prevents well meaning friends and family from gifting us with large quantities of pink or blue “stuff”, at least for now.

We Want More Than One Kid Continue Reading…

The Most Important Trait to Going Vegan

Cat with Sombrero

This is how some burned potatoes taught me the most important trait to have in order to eat a vegan diet, or any diet for that matter.

Some people might say that perseverance, will power or determination is the most important personal trait to have in order to finally switch over to a vegan diet. I say that the most important trait is something much simpler… and perhaps unexpected.

A sense of humor. That’s right, the most important trait to have in order to be able to successfully change diets is a sense of humor. Persevering is important, will power is wonderful, and being determined is great! However, those qualities fall short long term. Fad diets all run on them and seem to make good headway initially but in the end utterly fail. Here is their downfall: they all require a lot of effort and force. Force has a limited ability to make things happen and while force is fantastic for temporary changes, something much more powerful is required to really make an impact.

This is where a sense of humor comes in. Humor is effortless. Humor has powers that all the exertion in the world cannot rival. Laughter can turn a “trying” experience and into an enjoyable one, even though the events stay the same. When we want to make changes in our lives, they CAN be stressful, hard and frustrating but there is no commandment that states that it has to be. A sense of humor can turn changes in our lives into adventures that are delightful, exciting and a lot of fun.

I think a lot of vegans and striving vegans take themselves way too seriously. Lighten up. If you are trying to switch to a vegan diet and are having a hard time with it or are afraid to try it because of all the things that you will have to do without, try finding the humor in all of it. There is so much humor in the world of food that you will never run out of things to amuse you. I recently saw pre-cut, pealed and packaged avocados in my local supermarket that really tickled me. Even the daily setbacks and struggles are rife with silliness. Take the following example:

A couple of weeks ago I tried making a potato dish that my wife likes for dinner. Despite my best efforts, I must admit that I thoroughly messed up and destroyed the dish. I’m not saying it was just not that good or that it could have been a little better. I felt bad for the garbage can to have to hold this atrocity! Completely inedible. So as a stubborn male, what do I do? I try again! And this time I made something we can eat… although barely. To my horror, in my haste and rashness I ended up replicating my mistake from round one. Now I mess up meals maybe a couple of times in a year tops so twice in one night nearly blew my mind. Luckily for me, I have an amazing supportive wife who just laughed about it and after a couple of self-deprecating jokes had me laughing too. Continue Reading…

Apple Oatmeal Muffins

Vegan Apple Oatmeal Muffins

Fall weather is finally here and with the arrival of falling leaves and crisp nights come apples in every shape, size, and variety. This recipe makes a stock of healthy, delicious apple muffins to help you make the best of the fall crop of apples.  Yields about 18 muffins, depending on the size of the apples added (bigger apples will stretch your batter further).

Ingredients: 

2  c. white whole wheat flour

2 c. old-fashioned rolled oats

3/4 c. Demerara or other raw sugar

1.5 t. cinnamon

1 t. baking powder

1 t. baking soda

1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce

1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil

1.5 c. unsweetened non-dairy milk (I use almond)

3 medium to large apples, peeled and diced

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350. Continue Reading…

Top 5 Vegan Snacks in Disney World

Disney snacks

5. Fresh Fruit

When you’re in the mood for a healthy snack in a Disney World park, fresh fruit is surprisingly easy to find. Whole bananas, apples, and orange are great to pick up and carry around for later (although not too much later in the Florida heat). Some locations even stock fruit cups, like the Liberty Square Market in Magic Kingdom.

4. Mickey Pretzel

A Mickey pretzel is a soft-pretzel shaped like Mickey Mouse, which makes it much cooler than your average soft pretzel. Great with mustard and big enough to split with a friend. Mickey pretzels are found at vendor carts throughout the parks.

3. Popcorn

The fresh “buttered” popcorn from the plethora of popcorn carts in Walt Disney World is actually vegan. Popcorn is a classic theme park snack and comes in a large enough container to share within a group. Also, popcorn is technically a whole grain so it’s practically health food…

2. Vegan Ice Cream

Vegan ice cream (Tofutti and Rice Dream) can be found at the Plaza Ice Cream Parlor on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom. Your ice cream is scooped in a separate room so there’s no chance of cross-contamination (important for those with allergies to dairy). Stick with a simple vanilla or chocolate scoop in a cup, add toppings, or go for a Root Beer or Coke float if you’re up for it. Beaches and Cream (a short walk over to the Beach Club Resort) can fill your vegan ice cream fix at Epcot.

1. Dole Whip

Dole Whip is found at Aloha Isle in Adventureland in the Magic Kingdom. Even during slow times, the line can be quite long and for very good reason. The fruit flavors of Dole Whip are all vegan. Dole Whip can be served on its own or in a pineapple juice float (my favorite). Dole Whip is one of those treats you can’t get anywhere else so they have an extra special place in many Disney loving hearts.

What’s your favorite vegan snack in Walt Disney World? Have you tried all the snacks on this list?

Ask Not Why Should You Go Vegan, But How Could You Go Vegan

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Nowadays there are so many books, magazines and studies that all give you the answer to “why” you should turn to a vegan diet. But it might not be that simple… I think it’s more than just the “why”.

One of the most useful things that I learned fairly early in life is that asking/answering why questions is not very useful. Instead of asking why, “how” questions are infinitely more valuable and productive. Here is one simple example:

Q- “Why am I skinny/fat?”
A- “Because you eat too few/too many calories for the amount of energy expenditure you use.”

Now while this question and answer set is 100% accurate (barring any rare genetic disorder), it’s not very helpful. It’s just a factual statement. Why questions can lead to self pity and feelings of helplessness and frustration. Let’s switch the Why to a How:

Q- “How do I gain/lose weight?”
A- “Increase nutritious calorie foods, reduce empty calories, do physical exercises that will help you reach your goal, use a weight app, start a food diary, plan out meals.”

This later question and answer set is so much more empowering to the individual and puts them in a place of action. There is a purpose behind this question that does not end at the answer. The answer to a how question is just the beginning, especially if you follow through and want to improve your life.

So the answer to why you should eat a vegan diet can turn into a plethora of factual statements that may or may not motivate you to changing your eating habits. Most vegans can list a dozen points off the top of their heads so you don’t need to go far to find an answer to why. If you asked how you could go vegan, I bet that most vegans would not have quite as ready of a response to it. Some might even say something as simplistic as, “You just do”. Continue Reading…

Vegan Butter Pecan Maple Syrup

Pecans, Earth Balance, Maple Syrup

Nothing dresses up plain pancakes like a fancy syrup. Butter pecan maple syrup blends perfect with fall flavors like pumpkin or sweet potato for a special treat on a crisp fall morning. Insanely easy to make and amazingly delicious and decadent, this recipe is sure to become a favorite. Be sure to keep stirring the entire time and always use real maple syrup (maple flavored corn syrup like Mrs. Butterworth’s is not appropriate under any circumstance, ever). The syrup darkens in color as it cools so make right before serving for the best presentation.

Ingredients:

1 T. Earth Balance Vegan Butter

1/2 c. pecans, chopped

1/2 c. real maple syrup

Recipe: Continue Reading…

Top Signature Restaurants for Vegan Diners in Walt Disney World

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A Disney vacation is already a splurge for most of us. Why spend the extra money (or dining plan points) to dine at one of Disney’s Signature Restaurants? Well, Disney’s signature restaurants are well worth the splurge and are well prepped to accommodate a vegan diner (no sad $20 side salad and steamed broccoli here!). Of course, some are definitely better than others so stick to these top 5 if you are planning a special occasion meal on your next trip. I am not including Victoria & Alberts in this list as V&A’s is really in another category (both by quality and pricing) and deserves a post of its own. Any of these restaurants are perfect to celebrate a birthday or anniversary or just to enjoy a relatively quiet romantic dinner.

Tofu Entree at Hollywood Brown Derby

Tofu Entree at Hollywood Brown Derby

5. The Hollywood Brown Derby in Disney’s Hollywood Studios

My main issue with the The Hollywood Brown Derby is that it’s far too nice of a restaurant to actually be in a theme park. I get why it’s in there, but guests in shorts and Mickey hats really detract from a beautifully detailed atmosphere that could handle tailcoats and evening dresses. In regards to the food, however, I have no complaints. A vegan version of their famous Cobb salad can be made for the appetizer or an entree. Ask the chef if he has any extra veggies to throw in. The Noodle Bowl with Wok-fried Coconut Tofu is an already vegan entree and very good, albeit spicy. The wine flights are a fun addition to the meal. If you’re looking for a special occasion lunch or dinner without leaving the theme park and breaking your touring rhythm, The Hollywood Brown Derby is a great choice.

Magic Kingdom Fireworks

Magic Kingdom Fireworks

4. Narcoossee’s at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Set on the edge of the Seven Seas Lagoon, Narcoossee’s offers a beautiful view of the Magic Kingdom fireworks with the music piped in (including Hallowishes and the Christmas fireworks — great if you don’t want to do the hard ticket party). You get a wider view of the show than from Main Street USA which makes for a more complete view of the show and peripheral fireworks. The ambience is an upscale seafood restaurant — lots of couples as well as some families dining here. While the menu is seafood focused, the chef is very accommodating to vegan diners. We had our rehearsal dinner for our wedding here and everyone was blown away by the quality of the food and the service, even with the steep prices. Perfect for celebrating an anniversary.

The Grand Floridian

The Grand Floridian

3. Cítricos at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa

Citricos is often overlooked amongst the Grand Floridian restaurants but it really is a hidden gem. The yellow and red Mediterranean vibe and open show kitchen lend a more casual feel than some of the other signature options while still maintaining a refined feel. The waitstaff is well educated about the food and can provide background and modifications for each dish. On our recent trip here, I enjoyed a delicious salad for my appetizer, an amazingly textured seared tofu entree, and a delicious Granny Smith green apple sorbet for dessert (and I normally don’t like sorbet). A great choice for a special couples night out. Continue Reading…