Thursday, April 21, 2011

Blogger Giveaway! Unprocessed by Chef A.j. and a few F.A.Q.s Answered

Today's super duper awesome giveaway is a copy of Unprocessed, complements of no-oil vegan chef extraordinaire, Chef A.j.

Thanks Chef A.j. for making this possible!

In order to enter to win the prize, you must be an e-mail subscriber or RSS feed subscriber to Healthy Girl's Kitchen (if you aren't already, you can do that over there on the left margin of the blog) AND you must answer the questions at the bottom of this posting. Winner will be chosen from valid entries and will be selected at random. Contest will close on Wednesday, April 27th at 5 pm EST and winner will be announced on Thursday, April 28th no later than 9 am EST.

I also want to thank Alipet813 for inspiring the contest question. In a comment made to Part II of my Dr. Neal Barnard Lecture blog posting, Alipet813 asked me the following questions:

"Were you a big meat eater before? I grew up on a farm and I am big on meat. However, the more I read the more I know I need to cut it way back. How do I do that without feeling deprived? I would love your advice. Your recipes are always wonderful."

Well, Alipet, you caught me! I have to admit it, I was never a big meat eater. In fact, I was vegetarian for an entire decade. Once I found out how animals were treated on factory farms, I stopped eating their flesh almost immediately, but still ate all forms of dairy and eggs. And it wasn't hard for me to do because I have never been a craver of any form of meat.

Now before you tune out what I have to say, I want you to know that my personal challenge when it comes to healthy eating is staying away from dessert. Now if you want to know how I went from a daily sweet eater into a rarely eat sweets eater, see this post and this post. I promise you, if you want to eliminate meat from your diet, you will be able to, but it does take PATIENCE and PERSISTENCE. And even then, it doesn't mean that you will NEVER eat meat again for the rest of your life. You may choose to eat it on occasion. But it will never again have the hold on you that it does now. If I could conquer sugar, I believe anyone can conquer any food "addiction."

"Sometimes my busy schedule and the fact that I am new to changing my eating habits means I don't have a lot of the ingredients on hand and makes it a bit expensive or overwhelming. However, I am definitely using your tips for new veggie based meal ideas."

Stick with it! The more you cook from the plant strong, unprocessed cookbooks and blogs, the easier and easier it becomes. There are MANY times now where I will see a recipe and already have all of the ingredients on hand. This will happen for you too. It just occurs naturally. You will begin to gravitate towards recipes that have the flavor profiles that you love and you will start to see those flavor profiles reoccurring in many author's recipes. I for one really like chickpeas and sweet potatoes and I can't begin to tell you how many different dishes I have made combining the two ingredients from so many different bloggers and cookbook authors.

A good thing to get into the habit of doing is substituting ingredients in a recipe for what you have on hand. For example, if a recipe calls for fresh lime juice and all you have are fresh lemons, well, just go ahead and juice those. Currants called for in a salad and you don't stock 'em in your pantry? Put raisins in the dish. You get the picture. The more you cook this way, the easier and easier it gets.

I have been asked to do a post on what I keep in my pantry and it might be a great time to do that. I would also like to blog about the staples that I keep in my fridge and freezer.

"One more question...did you cut out oil? I am confused about this part of the healthy eating beliefs. I would love more info on that or a link to somewhere in your blog that you may have already discussed it."

Yes, approximately one year ago I basically cut out most oil from my diet. I say "most" because I continue to eat in restaurants 5 days a week for lunch and about once a week for dinner. All restaurants use oil and salt. I have never heard of an oil free restaurant. I also continue to eat hummus--of all brands and varieties--not just the tahini free ones (tahini is a ground sesame seed butter and is almost 100% fat). I am just not ready for that level of commitment. Occasionally I will have a cheese substitute from the company Daiya which is just oil disguised as cheese. I try to stay away from Earth Balance (although I do let one of my kids eat it as a transition food) because it too is just 100% oil that is being sold to the consumer as a health food. Shame on them.

I no longer cook at all with oil, but will occasionally spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray if I think something is going to stick. I also make a lot of my own oil free salad dressings in my VitaMix blender.

It is very easy to transition away from oil. You can saute in broth, water or juice very easily. Read about it here and here. For salad dressings, just do a search for no oil salad dressing on this blog or even on google and you will find a lot of ideas.

I do eat avocados, nuts and seeds, but I do try hard to eat these things in moderation. They are extremely high in calories, but at least they are loaded with nutrition. Processed oil--which includes extra virgin olive oil and canola oil--is not a health food. To borrow a phrase from Rip Esselstyn, "Olive oil is the triumph of marketing over science." For more on the subject, pick up a copy of Dr. Esselstyn's book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease or if you are lucky enough to see him speak in person, grab the chance. It was hearing Dr. Esselstyn speak that convinced me to go vegan almost entirely and also to eliminate oil from my diet, again, almost entirely. If I had any symptoms of heart disease I would eliminate oil totally and entirely.
So here it is folks, the questions that you must answer to enter the blogger giveaway . . .
Are you cutting meat and dairy, oil or processed foods out of your diet? If so, which ones?  And how difficult is this for you (scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being really, really hard)? Do you have ideas on how to cut out meat, dairy, oil or processed food without feeling deprived?


wrappedupinbooks said...

I am very new to a plant strong eating plan--three weeks and counting!--and I've cut out all meat, dairy, oil, and processed foods. I've been gluten free for the past two years, and had been baking many, many, many delicious gluten-free desserts for about the past year. In addition, because of food allergies and intolerances (tomatoes, berries, corn, soy), my pre-plant strong diet contained LOTS of meat--primarily poultry and pork, and some red meat on occasion.

My spouse and I decided to make a change because we both want to feel healthier, and because we both felt that we'd become addicted to sugary, delicious treats and meat-based dishes. The first week of our diet was VERY difficult. There were tears, and there were what we call "hungry fights," when we bicker over something silly because we're feeling hungry and cranky. During the past two weeks, however, we've been doing much better. We no longer crave meat because we've been experimenting with lots of different types of beans, and we are getting a handle on our dessert addiction by eating lots of fresh fruit and drinking healthful smoothies. We find that the "beans and greens" combination is a great way to feel sated but not stuffed after eating.

We're still working on recipes for oil-free, soy-free salad dressings that taste good, but once we clear that hurdle, we'll be pretty good to go!

jcblogger said...

This looks like a great cookbook. I am trying to follow something akin to the Engine2 Diet. I never feel deprived when I have nut butters. They are delicious! The hardest for me is finding a good salad dressing without oil. I usually end up using salsa or making my own no-nut, no-oil concoctions. But, I haven't really come up with a great one yet.

Dan & Rivky said...

hey!!! i am an email subscriber. i am getting ready to start the crazy sexy diet 21 day cleanse in the next couple of weeks. i find dairy the absolute hardest to not eat as i was born into a veg family and grew up with no meat, chicken, fish or eggs but tons of dairy. i find the no oil to be easier now that i have my precious vita mix. a whole new world opened up with that baby! over the past few years i have been buying less and less processed foods because i am crazy cheap but i think letting go of dairy completely is for much more than a 10 that it may never totally go away.

Sil said...

I would love to try those recipes! I've heard great reviews about it!

Anonymous said...

Yes, I have cut out meat, dairy, oil and processed foods. All of the above! The hardest part for me is the oil, as the others are easy to find as a dinner out On the weekend. I don't ever want to be high maintenance at a restaurant, and this One usually gets a 'you are crazy' look

Kate S. said...

Love giveaways ... I'm a subscriber so here come the answers: I am trying to cut out meat, dairy, oil, and processed foods. The way I am doing that is by adding more fresh vegetables, lots o' beans, and fruits. I would say I am in transition toward vegan, oil-"spare" (probably will not go no-oil and with the amount I exercise and the metabolism Mother Nature gave me, it is probably not necessary) diet.

On the difficulty scale I would say this- it was like a 7 to start but now down around 2 or 3! I also grew up on a farm with a lot of meat, eggs and dairy in my diet. In fact, I'm visiting my parents right now and we had meat at every meal today. Ugh. Luckily, they are very open to the fact that I'm "just not eating a lot of meat right now."

Talk about beating addictions - I used to smoke cigarettes. Super ugh. But when I quit, 3 years ago, somehow my body stopped wanting them. In fact I think they are quite gross now, the smoke, the lingering smell, all of it really turns my stomach and I can't stand to be around it and not for fear that I will start smoking again. It's been the same with meat and cheese - things I once LOVED. I had a piece of bacon the other day and I actually didn't like the taste. So how did I do it? Most of my "transition" has involved preparing delicious plant-strong recipes found here and on other awesome raw and vegan food blogs. Since I got so caught up in preparing these tasty, satisfying, and nutrient-dense dishes, I think I forgot about my cravings for red meat, grease, and cheese. Also, I've gotten really into making my own vegetable stock, hearty soups and a few "analogs" or meat/cheese substitutes (nooch parmesan "cheese" anyone?) that taste great and make me forget I'm even trying a new diet at all.

So my plan for a newbie to the vegan or plant-strong diet would be a slow transition. Use those "transition foods" (soy meat products) while you experiment with beans until you find a suitable replacement for steak and pot roast. Find a few new "indulgences" - now I'm into kale chips, nutritional yeast on popcorn, and making my own nut butter-based salad dressings. Not the lowest calorie choices but not full-on SAD diet either! Don't expect too much of yourself right away, while you're doing this start adding more vegan/plant strong foods. Soon you'll find yourself wondering, as I have this week, how you ate in the old way at all.

SAM said...

I've been transitioning in to a low fat plant based diet since 2008. I think thats the best way to go. Slow and steady wins the race. It is difficult at first. Some people believe in going cold turkey to help eliminate cravings. I say the best way is to do an elimination diet of sorts. For example, if you eat meat 5 days a week cut it down to 4 days a week and work with that for a month and then cut it down to 4 days a week the next month and so on and so on, while increasing healthy rices, veggies and fruit.

Dan.Eliot said...

There are many fine and tasty herbs, spices and condiments that can add zest to some of the more bland heart health dishes. Herbs include oregano, basil, cilantro, thyme, parsley, sage, rosemary. Cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper and paprika are all acceptable spices. Along with the reduced fat or nonfat salad dressing and salsa there are old standbys like mustard, catsup, horseradish, reduced fat or nonfat mayonnaise, reduced fat or nonfat sour cream, reduced fat or nonfat yogurt and reduced sodium soy sauce. That’s to say nothing of Parmesan cheese, fruit preserves and simple red pepper flakes, none of which will harm you heart.

Healthy cooking tips

Anonymous said...

I have slowly been cutting out meat and dairy over the last year and a half. It's been challanging as I don't enjoy legumes all that much and my husband believes that the all American diet is just fine... ugh! So there is processed foods all over the kitchen that I have to dodge and you can guess that when I'm tired or stressed that's what I grab...
I've been looking for more cookbooks with simpler, quicker recipes. I loved Chef AJ's sweet potato nachos, yummy!
As for the difficulty level, meat is a 4, milk is a 0, cheese on the other hand is a 10 as is oil and processed foods.
Transition is where I'm at and I'm working at it everyday and I will get there someday!

aliceinparis said...

I have been gathering the info and digesting it and the more I read the more I realize it is not a matter of should I do it, it is a matter of when. I have a feeling it will be very soon! Thanks for all your inspiration~ Shelagh

Megan C said...

I just read Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman about 5 weeks ago and it has changed my life for the better! I immediately ran to the store and bought spinach, romaine, and beans! I am actually loving this new life style because of the results. I have more energy at work, can run longer, and to top it all off have lost 12 lbs! I think the results are what is motivating me and I love the idea of being so healthy! Right after reading Eat to Live and starting the transition to change the way I think about food, I watched Food, Inc. with my husband and we both were in shock! After watching that movie, I went from a eat 4 hamburgers or steak a week to nothing at all. Cutting the meat out has been very easy for me and I know it's only been 5 weeks, but I hope I never have a piece of meat again! I have also cut out milk. This is probably a little harder, maybe a 4, but the facts are there. It's just not that great for you, so why even bother drinking it? Cheese i don't miss at all. The hardest part about transitioning to a plant based diet would have to be the oils. There is oil in EVERYTHING! I know this will only get easier to eliminate totally. I have been completely inspired by this blog to continue with this way of eating for the rest of my life.

Benjamin Britton said...

Are you cutting meat and dairy, oil or processed foods out of your diet? All oil, all processed foods.

If so, which ones? All of those suckers.

And how difficult is this for you (scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being really, really hard)? 2/10 for hardness. I do a lot of Jeff Novick's fast food cooking, I LOVE mustards of many varieties that go with/on ANYTHING.

Do you have ideas on how to cut out meat, dairy, oil or processed food without feeling deprived?

See the above post "Jeff Novick's Fast Food" DVD. Available on Amazon and veg-source. Eat as much as you want. Be full. Feel better as the blood pressure, fat and cholesterol all go down!

Bonnie said...

I cut out all meat and dairy, refined carbs, and oil seven months ago. It was far easier than I imagined once I had purged my kitchen. Using recipes from the Esselstyn books and recipes I've found on-line gave me an immense array of wonderful new things to try. I still use oil spray when I'm baking. I've had more fun in the kitchen than EVER and have discovered a host of wonderful new flavors. For 63 years I ate on the healthier side of the Standard American Diet but had developed high cholesterol, and my 1-2 pound per year had really caught up with me in a bad way. The cholesterol is down and my weight is 2/3 what it once was, although I eat LOTS of food.

Linda5sons said...

I started my journey to better health via nutritional excellence a little over a year ago. My old diet was very much centered on milk, baked breads (usually sugary ones), meats and cheese. My new food universe contains NONE of those things.

If I were to give a piece of advice to someone just starting this journey, I would tell them that it's OK to feel sad about some former treat no longer being food for you...but it's not OK to eat it, just one more time, because that will begin the cascade of eating poor choices all over again. For me, it was simply a matter of replacing disease-feeding habits (like grabbing a turkey sandwich for lunch) with life-feeding habits, like a bowl of soup or a veggie burrito wrapped in lettuce instead of tortilla.

If I concentrated on the fact that I was breaking old habits and replacing them with healthful habits, it helped motivate me to keep going, because I knew it would soon become easier.

My favorite comfort treat during that period? I would bake sweet potatoes in their skin, until soft inside. Those would go in the fridge, and any time I needed a dessert or a comforting treat (perhaps because the family was eating ice cream, or whatever), I would grab a sweet potato, peel it and eat while holding the base, like an ice cream cone. Delicious texture and taste, almost like a caramel custard ice cream cone!

Use smaller sweet potatoes, or cut and eat a portion of one...those jumbo sweet potatoes are enough to feed an army.

I'm sorry, I don't know how to develop a profile, so I have to answer as 'anonymous' but I"m not...I'm Linda5sons at Dr. F's member boards.

Pretty Pauline said...

This sounds great! I have not thought about giving up anything at this time, but I would like to add more plant-only meals again.

suemvi said...

Processed foods no problem. I have shopped the outside aisles of the grocery store almost exclusively for years. Except for rice, oatmeal, beans things like that. After reading The China Study and Eat to Live, I have cut about 90% of the meat out of my diet. Dairy has been harder-I still like a good piece of cheese now and then and real whole milk in my coffee (just one cup in the morning).I also to using just a tad of butter now and then for flavor, not as a spread. It's been a lot of fun for me to experiment with vegan and vegetarian recipes. I bought Appetite for Reduction and love the flavors. Also have especially enjoyed the suggestion to eat from bowls which I like doing anyway. Whole grain of some sort, steamed veggies and a nonfat yummy sauce.
My biggest challenge is making an evening meal that will also be interesting to my husband who is a committed, life long carnivore! Luckily he likes things grilled, so I can add a pork chop or a steak to whatever I'm eating. I don't feel deprived not eating the meat and if once in a while it smells so good I want a bite-I take one. No big deal, I'm plant based, not vegetarian!
Almost forgot the best part of my new eating style-the green smoothie in the morning!

ms. beezus said...

After years of being a vegetarian and then not being a vegetarian, I'm adding more plant-based meals to the weekly routine. It's hard to find recipes for family satisfying meals and I've loved trying a few of the recipes here. Most recently we all loved the lasagna! I'd love more ideas for making vegan food without processed meat substitutes.

Alipet813 said...

Urrgghh I typed a huge reply and it disappeared. Here I go again!
I was so surprised and delighted to see you write a post and focus on my questions. Thank you so much Healthy Girl! In addition, I am loving these comments. They are inspiring and helpful! Now to answer the questions:
1. I am trying to give up meat. I don't know about completely, but at most meals. I originally thought we would go meatless one day a week, but the more I read the more I know it has to be more. I talked to my husband last night and he is totally on board. I was shocked but happy. Yay!
I have cut back on dairy - no milk, but can't imagine giving up cheese.
Processed foods I am trying to give up completely.
Oil - I hadn't considered yet.
2. How hard is it? Meat is probably a 6. I don't eat it at every meal, but my plate feels empty without it at dinner.
Dairy - not hard except for cheese. I love it! that may be harder than a 10. for my kids giving up yogurt and ice cream would be over a 10.
Processed foods. Only a 3. I only like them for convenience.
Oil - that would be a 10 right now as well. I cook greens with oil and garlic, make kale chips, etc. I don't really know another way. I don't know that no oil is a consideration.
My biggest issue, however, is meal planning. That is like a 15. I go buy veggies and grains and then I have no idea what to do. Not to mention I have picky kids. I am at a total loss! Some meals for this type of eating just seem so complicated and time consuming. I am a member of Peer Trainer and am trying soups, etc.
I want a Vitamix bad, but my husband just can't handle the cost of that. I just keep dreaming!
I would love, love this book! I think it may be just what I need.
Also, I was looking at the crazy, sexy diet book last night. Very interesting and enlightening as well.
Thanks Healthy Girl and Chef AJ!!

Anonymous said...

We've cut processed foods out of our diets for many years and now are eating very little meat. It hasn't been difficult to cut these out at all (0 - very easy to cut out processed and probably a 2 on the meat) but we still use dairy. Ideas on how to cut out these things without feeling deprived used to be hard to find but have become much easier with the many wonderful books and internet sites available now.

My husband works in the aging field - counsels seniors on health/Medicare issues and has lots of sad stories about the poor health many are in as a result of poor diet, lack of and no interest in exercise, and then a lack of money to afford the medical care necessary to deal with these issues. We're in our 6o's ourselves and his job has been a great impetus for us to be more and more careful to take better care of ourselves - we want to avoid the problems he deals with every day. It's an ongoing learning process that requires learning new things, paying attention to details and not giving up.

Liana said...

Once you read the book Eat to Live it's easy to cut all of that out. The difficult thing, after a life of cooking with lots of olive oil, butter, pasta, and meat, is to figure out how to cook sans ALL. OF. THAT. Finding recipes to help you along the way is a challenge. Chef AJ is a great one. Dr. Fuhrman has wonderful recipes. And there are many bloggers out there who post their great recipes.
Surprising to me was how it actually got easier as the weeks went by. I started a plant based diet on February 1. I have almost completed month 3 and feel incredible. It's not about losing weight, it's about caring for your health and trusting the process.

berry blurbs said...

I have given up meat, but my family is still working on it (husband and two boys). It's still a little difficult for me to cook with meat, but we've limited it to dinners only, which helps. I also found it rather easy to stop using oils while cooking by using steam or vegetable broth. I just recently made a gluten-free cake for my youngest's birthday and used applesauce as a replacement. Everyone that tried it loved it--saying it was the most delicious gluten-free cake they've ever eaten!
I would love to expand my list of oil-free meals through Chef AJ's book. I seem to need to constantly be reading the life experiences of others to make healthy eating a habit--and to help convince my family to do the same :*) Thanks so much!

Anonymous said...

I eat mostly nutritarian, but have still not given any of the categories up 100%. I would say that sugar (which is the most difficult refined food for me) is a 10 - the thing I still fantasize about. I'm going to read the blog posts you recommend. I can use all the help I can get with this. The only way that ever works for me is cold turkey. One bite and I'm back on a binge. Meat is a 7 - if I eat it, I only eat a tiny bit and don't binge and don't think about it again for a long time. Mushrooms, tofu and wild rice can be nice earthy, meaty substitutes. Cheese and other dairy products - 7 also, being very difficult at first, much easier as time goes on. Parmesan Substitute (nutritional yeast with ground almonds) really helped with my craving for the real thing. Added oil has been easier, I'd say about a 3. I still eat a bit of salt. Thanks for this blog and the chance to win AJ's book. I've been wanting to purchase it, but maybe I'll get lucky...

Michelle said...

I thought I was a pretty healthy eater for the last 10 years. I ate small amounts of meat and sugar, nonfat dairy, egg beaters instead of eggs, low fat cheese, only flax oil for oil and 100% whole grain products. I rarely ate processed foods. I’ve been reading Wendy’s blog and was including more vegetables in my diet.

But then my daughter challenged me to lose 10 pounds with her in the next three months. She gets real serious when she wants to reach a goal and I was afraid to commit. I didn’t know if I could do it that fast. I knew I’d have to do something drastically different. I’d been wanting to eat plant strong, so I very seriously committed to her challenge.

I bought Dr. Fuhrman’s “Eat to Live” book and the Engine 2 book. After reading them I was convinced that meat and dairy would only be a very very small part of my diet for the rest of my life. I’ve been 99% meat and dairy free two months. I’ve lost five pounds and feel better!

Since I had a time constraint with the goal, I plunged in instead of dipping my toe into the Nutritarian way of eating. Once you eat this way for a few weeks, you really don’t miss the meat and dairy hardly at all. I think I don’t miss it that much because I know that I can have it if I want too. I think that committing to eat this way 100% for three or four weeks allows your taste buds to change and for you to detox from sugar, etc. if needed. Anyone can commit to this for a short period, knowing in the back of their mind that they won’t have to continue if they don’t want to. But after an initial trial period you’ll start to feel the benefits and you’ll want to keep going! (Continued...)

Michelle said...

I think I don’t miss meat because I’m eating lots of yummy beans that are filling and satisfying like meat was. If I start craving junk food or sweets I take that as an indicator that I’m hungry and I go eat something good. I keep lots of yummy fresh food in my fridge. Leftovers are a blessing; they are healthy “fast food”. When I make a big pot of soup I freeze lunch sized portions for later.

My husband has been such a good sport and has gone along with all of this! He eats everything I fix; he is an angel and I so appreciate his support! It would be harder to do this alone nd have to fix him something separate. His support makes me love him so deeply! And we’ll be healthy and happy together!

On a scale of 1 to 10, this has been about a 4 for me. Upfront it’s a little time consuming (but fun) trying tons of new recipes to find the golden keepers that we really love and will want to keep in our everyday diet. I don’t feel deprived because I’m not counting calories and I don’t have to go hungry. I can eat as many beans and greens as I want and I can have luscious beautiful juicy fruits. My hummus recipe is so yummy that we down tons of veggies with that and feel like we’re in snack heaven! I have a Vita Mix blender and a food processor which make it easier. It’s important to invest in the good tools that make it easier if you can.

I think that if you keep yourself healthfully fed, dive in all the way, and don’t deprive yourself by going hungry that you won’t have the withdrawals that you’re expecting. Last night I was checking out at the grocery store. I guy 20 years younger than me was behind me in line; he was probably 50 pounds overweight with a huge belly. I looked at his groceries: frozen pizza, soda pop, sugary cereal, butter, potato chips, white bread, and ice cream. Then I looked at mine: beautiful rainbow colored fruits and veggies; mangos, cherries, berries, kale, radishes, romaine lettuce, oranges, bananas, asparagus, celery, tomatoes, collard greens, red onions, red potatoes, apples, carrots, red peppers, strawberries, pineapple, black beans, pinto beans, garbanzo beans, oatmeal, no added sugar almond milk, etc. I felt so sorry for him and I felt so happy and blessed to be able to buy and eat this beautiful fresh food that the Lord has provided for us!

Happy healthy food = happy healthy you. A big thanks to Wendy and others online that are showing us the way and providing us with tools, incentives, and encouragement to choose a better way to live.

Suzanne said...

Are you cutting meat and dairy, oil or processed foods out of your diet?

Yes, follow Esselstyn with about 90% compliance, but will have nuts, seeds and avocados once in awhile and try to do the best I can at restaurants.

And how difficult is this for you (scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being really, really hard)?

If I didn't work full time, I think it would be about a 1--I love to eat this way. In reality, I would say a 3.

Do you have ideas on how to cut out meat, dairy, oil or processed food without feeling deprived?

I focus on trying new foods and new combinations. I think I eat a much wider variety of foods than a lot of people. Don't be afraid to be creative.

heather said...

i love this blog and am already a subscriber.
i was a compulsive eater for years, gradually evolving to a state of less and less compulsion- but i find restricting too much makes me want more. sugar,fat, whatever. so i try to follow this at home and be moderate and give myself some lee-way when i'm out.
i have always eaten a really healthy diet throughout the day and would 'give in' after dinner. i haven't had meat or desired it in years, so that was no problem. 6 months ago i started to really focus on a plant-based nutrient-rich diet, getting all the refined foods out of the house, stopped baking and buying sweets. my husbands cooperation was essential because i had been baking for him, but eating more than him! if sweets are here there is no such thing as moderation. we eat fish occasionally, surprisingly dairy has not been a problem to eliminate although we used to eat a lot of cheese. i am moderate with good oils but don't think i need to eliminate oil.

My problem has been i have substituted nuts for cookies. i avoided them for decades because of the fat and calories but after giving them an 'ok' in my new regime they have become my new addiction. i am not losing weight despite such a clean diet because now i am overeating almonds, walnuts, raisins, prunes and occasionally dates. aggh.
i really love this way of eating but occasionally i do get a little bored with what i'm making. it can get to be an effort to 'restrict' and yet feel creative with food. and it's hard to fill my husband up. i'd love to have aj's cookbook to expand my repertoire!

Anonymous said...

Here's my story. Cutting meat out of my diet when I was 13 was a relief--I never liked the taste, smell, or texture of meat, and after reading Laurel's Kitchen where I babysat, I was relieved to learn that we didn't have to have meat. Cutting dairy and eggs, however, didn't happen until I was 41, and even though I knew the health dangers and the mistreatment of the animals, it finally clicked for me while I read Skinny B**ch. Most processed food were never in my diet, but I noticed I had/still have double-standards. I won't eat something like whole wheat bread unless all the ingredients are pure, but when it comes to candy (like Swedish Fish), somehow I excuse the artificial flavors, colors, and wax--things I would never eat in a "real" food. My difficulty in avoiding this kind of junk varies from totally easy to a 10 when I give in. Oil has also been difficult to give up, but I found that allowing myself a little (like the small amount in some of Newman's salad dressings), and using substitutes like cashew cream, really help--I noticed the less oil I use, the less I want, so that's good. I see recipes now that call for a tablespoon of oil to saute, and that just seems like so much for me--I can saute a whole onion in just a teaspoon of oil and still get the flavor of oil-frying without using what the recipes calls for.
(btw, this is trimom from Dr Fuhrman's board--had to pick anonymous as my name here.)

katshealthcorner said...

Processed foods weren't THAT difficult to cut out. When I cut out dairy, it was really hard for me, since I ABSOLUTELY ADORED Yogurt. But now that I have found a replacement for it -- akak soy yogurt -- I'm fine. I actually don't crave dairy anymore. I like my Bananner Soft Serve if I want "Ice Cream" -- I LOVE Almond Milk!!! I actually love it MORE than any of that cow stuff.

It was still hard, but I know I have become healthier since. :)

Tiffany said...

It's been an ongoing journey for me in my quest to be healthier. I cut out meat and dairy over a year ago, which wasn't super hard for me. Dairy harder than meat, since it seems it's in everything. Processed foods have been next, with sugar being the hardest to completely get away from. I definitely have a sweet tooth, although it's not as strong as it was, the more whole foods I eat. My biggest challenge is getting my family on board. Whatever I cook, when I ask my husband how he likes it, he says, "You worked really hard on it." However, he doesn't like much of what I've made. I would LOVE to have Chef AJ's cookbook to hopefully change his mind! :)

Anonymous said...

Yes I am on week ten of ETL. It was very hard at first, but seems to be getting easier. Not having nearly as many cravings and my mood seems to be balanced...not as many mood swings...probably was related to sugar.

Would love to win the cookbook for some inspiration. Your blog has helped too. I found you on

Sindy said...

I've been a complete vegan for a couple of years now, the only caveat being that when I travel, I will sometimes add the dairy back in. Only because it can be hard to find decent vegan food on the road. When I am home and in my comfort zone, though, it is not hard at all to not eat meat or dairy. I don't miss it even a little bit. I try to go as unprocessed as I can, but I don't avoid it 100%. I started cooking without oil pretty recently, and it's easy and I don't even notice a taste difference. But I go out to eat at least two nights a week and don't think about it then. It would definitely be a "10" for me to do that out. I feel like enough of a nudge just being a vegan!

As for tips: it gets easier and easier, especially if you start hanging out with vegan peeps!

OttawaMama said...

I have no problem cutting out meat, dairy, white flour and processed foods (aside from chocolate). I hardly use oil in cooking but to me cutting sugar is the hardest. When I don't eat it I am fine, once I start the following days are full of sugar cravings.

The best way for me to eat well is to do meal planning.

nicole said...

I cut out processed foods several years ago. I also was basically born a vegetarian. My mom said I threw fits at the table about eating meat, and just never have liked it. I do try to limit my diary, but I'm not fanatical about it. Cutting out processed foods has been relatively easy. So maybe a 3. I just make homemade versions of what I want. My advice is to make homemade versions of your favorite processed foods. For bacon and all that processed meat my husband likes, I shope trader joes and buy the nitrate free kind.

treebean said...

I am on month two following the 28-day E2 diet - vegan, no oils, and no processed foods. The easiest for me to cut out was meat and dairy. I've been off dairy for more than a year anyway), so that is a 1. Plus, I love, love, love almond milk - especially homemade. A good blender and patience with the cheesecloth is key to making great almond milk. Meat is fairly easy too and I would rate that a 2. Mentally I think I will miss turkey next Thanksgiving but by then I think the good habits will rule over a bad health decision. The more I read about veganism, and the more try new, delicious vegan recipes (including some of your recipes) -- the better I feel about my new eating. I was a serious carb / snack addict and found other ways to replace my snack happy habits with veggies. Cutting oil out was rough at first but I am adapting recipes. I do miss a good hummus though and have not yet found a tasty hummus without oil. I'll keep trying though and although I read that you eat all types of you have any suggestions? So back to oil, I would say on a scale of 1-10, that has been a 6. I have baked without oil in recipes that call for oil - my favorite baked good recipe (I omitted the oil) was black bean brownies. For regular cooking and sautéing, I almost always use mushroom broth or just water instead of oil. I love your blog... great recipes and information.

Shea said...

I read Eat to Live about 6 weeks ago along with this blog and some others. I was convinced to try plant strong. Wow!! I have cut out all meat (no small thing as my dad raises beef) I eat a dab of coconut oil once a week or so and a slice or two of rice bread each week. I find that the more plants and fruits I eat the less I want my former 2-3 bars of chocolate a week or all the bread, butter, oil and sugar. In fact, I don't miss them. I would never ever have thought that this was possible. Oh, and loosing 8 lbs has been lovely too. I feel as if I have been set free from nasty foods.

Hurray for plants!!!

Thank you for this blog. I adore all the recipes and frankness of it.

Dixter said...

I've started a herb garden to spice up my Esselstyn style diet. I've been following his plan since October. The hardest part is not being able to eat out - I'm in San Francisco, vegan heaven, and still can't eat out because of the no oil restriction. Most vegan restaurants, even the raw restaurants, pour on the oil.
So I'd say sticking to the diet is tough - about a 7.

Lolly said...

In December I felt awful. My cholesterol level was 289 and my iron reserve was 7. The doctor told me to eat some oatmeal, and take an iron supplement. As helpful as that was, I decided to start my own research. I rented a documentary featuring Dr. Esselstyn, and bought his book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.
I had 3 problems.
1) I weighed close to 150 pounds. (5 feet tall)
2) We raise our own beef and pork.
3) I LOVE to eat. Cheese sauces, desserts, steak, mashed potatoes with butter!
I decided to trust Dr. Esselstyn. No more meat, dairy, and as little oil as possible. (I need to cut out oil completely.)
I thought this whole “diet” thing would be horrible and that I would fail. At the beginning, it wasn’t easy or fun. The difficulty was a level 8. (Having been through childbirth four times, I know what a level 10 is.) Anyway….
I had cravings and felt deprived. Then I found two things that have helped me become vegan: My attitude and my support system.
When I began I thought of it as a diet. My thoughts were all negative. “I can’t eat that.” “I’ll never get to go to that restaurant again.” I had to change my attitude if I was going to succeed. I purposely changed how I talked about this new way of eating. “I’m going to try pineapple salsa tonight. I wonder what it tastes like?” It wasn’t a diet anymore. It became a way to eat to be healthy and feel good. I wrote encouraging notes to myself and put them all over my house and car. I also looked up websites (Healthy Girl) to find people who were trying to change, and find out how they were doing it.
My awesome husband joined me in my pursuit of health. I told my family, friends, and co-workers, what I was doing, and why. I asked for their support. It is this support that has helped me be successful.
So, after 4 months of being vegan, I weigh 123 pounds and feel terrific.
It has become easier to avoid unhealthy foods. The difficulty level now is a 2.
I do crave Junior Mints. BUT - Instead, I eat air popped popcorn. I don’t feel deprived because I look at food differently. Its only purpose is to keep my body running. Food is not supposed to fill a hole that something else (i.e. a broken relationship, or depression) has dug out.
I changed because I needed to, I wanted to, and I had the support. I am willing to be part of somebody’s support system. Please let me know if I can help. I want everyone to feel as amazing as I do!

Debbie said...

I am participating in the 21 day vegan kickstart. It was not difficult for me to give up dairy as I've never really been one to drink milk or eat yogurt. As a kid I would eat cheese or ice cream every so often. Meat was easy because I've never been one to eat a lot of it. My difficulty lies in cutting way back to very little or no oil. I've been on and off vegetarian for quite a few years; but my doctor recommended that I go vegan for health issues. It's not as difficult as I was thinking it would be.

ViviDu said...

About a year ago I decided to give up meat for ethical reasons, easy for me but with a non-supportive spouse made it difficult level 7. I loved trying lots of new recipes, Indian dishes, beans & legumes and my triumph was finding a brand of tofu husband and kids really loved. I put on weight! I figured without the animal fat I could be quite liberal with the olive oil. Read Eat to Live recently and realize I need to make changes. I love cooking so never relied on processed foods, however savory snacks are my downfall, sugar and desserts I can easily resist. I love Italian & French cooking so reducing dairy and oil is still a challenge. I don't call myself vegetarian except when eating out, I never buy meat but will eat it occasionally if someone else serves it, now I no longer enjoy it and always think of what I would use as a substitute. The iPhone app My Fitness Pal is interesting - I was happy to see my salad and homemade lentil- vegetable soup day gave me over the daily iron count and today, ate SAD including a little beef to please my husband and only made 45% iron.
Knowledge keeps me on track. I think of my health and what is in the foods. I don't like the 'evangelical' health gurus that promise super health from expensive obscure ingredients. I like Dr Fuhrmans ideas because he sounds so reasonable and the way of eating is obtainable. For me it's knowledge, and taking 1 day at a time and learning to be a mindful eater. And learning to say no to unhealthy food. It's a process. Small wins keep me going - when the kids love my food, when my work lunches are enviable, and bonus - losing a couple of kilos.
Ps I really admire those of you that can cut it all out cold tofurkey!

Heather of the North! said...

ANSWER: I have been working towards more plant based nutrition since I was diagnosed with a chronic disorder over three years ago. My epiphany was when the conventional medical community just pushed drug after unhealthy drug at me without focusing on the cause of my health problems. That said, a devout YOGURT worshipper, that habit was the hardest to let go of. I love yogurt and keifer. Second hardest was processed foods like SWEETS! I am a total SUGAR-holic. A 12 step program does not exist for my skittles habbit. I do know, that all it takes is one...and I'm all down hill from there.

I will never be free of the food monkey's on my back, but I know that if I take it one day at a time and work every day towards my goal of"

1. If it didn't come from the ground, don't eat it!

2. If your grandparents didn't eat it, neither should you!

3. If you cannot pronounce it, don't eat it!

Slow baby steps work for me and this blog and my favorite new magazine, Clean Eating. :) Good luck and as I raise a glass of Kale chips to you!

Heather Y said...

ABOVE post, I don't know how to get my name on there, but I am a subscriber :(

Debbie said...

I started the E2 diet a few weeks ago, and it hasn't been too hard. Lately, I am trying to view my new eating habits as a new lifestyle. When I see people eating hamburgers, I tell myself I can make the same thing-but more delicious and more nutritious! It is teaching me to get into the kitchen, experiment and have fun. I've never been the type of person to enjoy cooking and try new recipes, but I see now that it's the best way to keep me eating plant-strong for a long time.

B. said...

Since January 2, we have been reducing the amount of meat, dairy and oil we use. At this point, we eat probably 90% plant-based. The only exceptions are when we eat out or at another person's home.

Finding snack alternatives has been the hardest part for me, but just this week I found a hummus recipe I love that uses no oil and figured out that nutritional yeast makes a great sprinkle for popcorn!

Kim said...

Are you cutting meat and dairy, oil or processed foods out of your diet? If so, which ones? And how difficult is this for you (scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being really, really hard)? Do you have ideas on how to cut out meat, dairy, oil or processed food without feeling deprived
I cut all meat and dairy out of my diet several years ago after being an ovo lacto vegetarian for about 12 years...the transition was easy! About a 1 on a scale of 1-10. I never feel deprived! There are so many ways to create a meat-like texture with tofu and so many other soy products, I find it pretty simple :)

Anonymous said...

DH and I began eating nutritarian in late January after DH was in the hospital with conjestive heart failure.I came to it slower than DH did,but I am supportive so I do it with him.I have lost 20#, DH 80 + . We gave up red meat toatally (not nearly as hard as I thought it would be) and will be going vegetarian for the summer. We did this for two weeks in March and we both liked it. I didn't miss the meat much at all which surprised me. Now the thought of red meat kinda makes me nauseous. The one thing DH and I have both noticed is that without all of the chemicals in our food and the excessive salt, we can actually "taste" our food more.Fruit tastes more vibrant and vegetables more intense. This is a journey for us/me and nothing is 100 %, but I am trying very hard. I am constantly reading food labels and currently am working on making my own bread(we'll see hoe that goes). Now, my goal is to get my kids eating even healthier than they do.

earnie said...

In late March, I started re-reading Eat To Live and decided to give it a try. Never in a million years expecting it to work or expecting to continue to eat this way or like it. I have always enjoyed lots veggies, but also eaten lots of cheese. I have cut meat, dairy, oil, processed and was already eating a non-soy diet because of Hypothyroidism and have found it relatively easy to do.

I have found that I love the “green” smoothies in the morning and chopped kale as a replacement for lettuce at lunch. I struggle more in the evening with wanting to make my dinner meal more normal, more blank and three. Thus, having Chef AJ’s book would help me be more creative. I lost eight pounds in four weeks and have now been stuck for nearly another four days and the same weight. I am ready for a bit of a push which Chef AJ’s book might give me.

Lori said...

I've been "playing" around with a plant-based diet since October and I feel great! I haven't been too concerned about fat until recently, and I am now counting calories and cutting added oils. I was on vacation last week, so I fell off the wagon, but not so much so that I feel like I completely blew it. On a scale of 1-10, I would say giving up meat is easy (1), dairy- a little harder (3), no added oils- getting there (5), and processed foods- getting there (5). When I can travel and maintain this way of eating, then I'll know that I've "made it"!

Sherry D. said...

I have been on the Engine 2 for about 7 weeks. I was already vegan so I needed to focus on cutting out the oil,sodium and sugar. I was overwhelmed at first then once I got into it, it was a 3 on a scale of one to ten of easyness. My body, health and cravings have changed dramatically and I would never, ever go back. I love it and I love the way I feel.

valerie said...

I have Plant Strong for 32 weeks now. ( sounds like AA) The hardest thin for me is the snack foods. I miss potato chips! The hardest part at 1st was getting used to having to prepare everything- I gathered a few "fast" meal recipes & ideas & that made it much better. I learned that I basically had to take my favourite recipes & just make them E2 friendly somehow.
Scale from 1-10? Cutting out cheese & meat - 3
Trying to eat at home without oil - 1
Trying to eat out without oil, sodium & sugar 10!

rhubarb said...

I am followiing a nutritarian diet, as outlined in "Eat to Live," and have been (basically) 100% for about a year. I had been a vegetarian for about 25 years before that. I've cut out all meat, dairy, 99% of oil, and processed foods. Note that this isn't a low-fat diet because you get fat from nuts and seeds. It can be hard at the very beginning, but once you get through the first 3 weeks or so, and make the commitment to figuring out how to make it work for you, it becomes much easier. Then you start seeing results (and people around you start to see it, and comment) and it becomes much easier. The recipes on the ETL web site help a lot, and I use those almost exclusively.

For me, a green smoothie in the morning makes all the difference in keeping cravings away. I've worked up to about 5-6 oz. of romaine lettuce mix blended with a couple of fruits, water, and ice cubes. Eat 1/2-3/4 oz. of walnuts & that's breakfast. Spinach makes a good green to start with if lettuce is too bitter for you.

aussie said...

I cut these out years ago, but have slowly allowed dairy to sneak back in! So yes, I am going to cut them out, particularly cheese. Potato chips are my processed food of choice. On a scale of 1 to 10, cutting them out will be a 9 I'm ashamed to say. I know I can do without animal products: it's just harder with others to cook for and I need some delicious but not too complcated ideas.

Sarah C said...

Hi Wendy!
I am an RSS subscriber. I cut out dairy products about 10 years ago when I realized I was lactose intolerant. Meat and oil have been a recent deletions from my diet and I am still not 100% there. I would say this is a 5 on the difficulty scale, but mostly because my husband has not cut these things out :) My strategy is compromise - he eats my vegan meals a couple of nights a week and in exchange I cook the odd meat dish. I am working towards 100% vegan by the end of the year as we figure out a way to live, cook and eat together despite our different food philosophies! Sarah

Mimo said...

Hi Wendy! Love your blog. Such a great find for me as I'm starting my Nutritarian journey. I cut meat out of my diet about 7 months ago but initialy found myself eating a lot more processed foods. I'm happy to say I've been dairy, oil and processed food free for just over three weeks and I feel great! I had already reduced my intake of dairy since discovering a love of soy milk in my once daily Starbucks habit. Cheese was a much tougher story but as I've found yummy creamy replacements with nuts, nut milk and avocados it really hasn't been too bad. With the weather warming up I'm sure to start trying some vegan ice cream options soon. Since I've had bouts of not eating red meat and pork before it wasn't much of a challenge (about 3 out of 10) to give those up but eating out and smelling roasted or sauteed chicken was tough at first. Easily a 8 out of 10. I certainly don't recommend it and yet as I've discovered all of the yummy meatless foods and meat substitutes, I see how little I need it in my life. I think my love of meat was and sorta still is largely a mental or social one. Only time will truly tell! (fingers crossed)

Blogging tips