Thursday, May 31, 2012

What do you EAT??

by Tessa

"What do you EAT??"

This popular question typically follows a realization that all of a person's previous favorite foods are no longer eating options.

So I will show you what I eat in a day!

Breakfast:  My Green Smoothie was made of raw spinach, banana, apple, and strawberries.  It's a delicious powerhouse!  I feel clean and light after drinking it.

Simply use spinach because it doesn't change the flavor, add a banana for sweetness, and just add one more fruit (apple, orange, ripe pear, etc) into the blender.  Delicious!   Half your blender should be filled with spinach, kale, or another green.

I take a multi-vitamin (not sure if it's helpful) and one 1000 mcg B-12 tablet that is methylcobalamin based (not the cyan based).  My B-12 level in April was great.  Vegans need to get B-12 from a source other than meat, but some plants have it too.

Also for breakfast I had cereal:  Muesli (1/2 c), oats, about 20 raisins, ground flaxseed (to cleanse the liver), sprinkle of granola, and some cold almond milk:

For lunch, I had two corn tortillas with black beans, vegetarian no-fat refried beans, salsa, tomato, and a little guacamole (only one is shown below, but I made another).  Ate 4 blackberries and 4 strawberries too!

Drink lots of water during the day, of course, so you feel good!

Mid-afternoon Snacks:  Into a nice cup of Detox Tea, I added half a stevia (natural sweetener) tablet.  Since toxins are stored in your liver, it's good to de-tox.  My tea was a little too sweet, so I shouldn't have added the stevia.

More Snack:  An organic apple cut into chunks with a little cinnamon, muesli, oats, ground flaxseed, and raisins with some almond milk tastes like apple crumble!  So good!

Dinner:  We ate Black Bean Burgers from the Engine 2 Diet book.  I made the burgers in about 10 minutes using my Vitamix blender (Vitamix and Blendtec are high-speed blenders) and then baked them for 15 minutes.  They are made of 2 cans of black beans (rinsed) and instant oatmeal.

Since it's important to get lots of raw food in your diet, we topped our burgers with spinach, tomatoes, onions, and avocados.

For buns, we use whole wheat buns, bread or pita pockets.  Always make sure all grains that you buy say "whole" before the "grain" or "wheat".  Pasta and rice must always be whole grain too. Just buy the brown stuff and look for the word "whole".  Simple!

We munched on a salad too to eat more greens today.  Spinach (organic), shredded carrots, avocado, onion and tomatoes.  I mixed together a simple mustard, balsamic vinaigrette to put on it.  Fresh cantaloup to finish off a great meal!

Bedtime Snack:  I promise I will also have before bed a half cup of muesli with almond milk and a banana.  It's healthier if you can avoid eating after dinner, but I get too hungry in the night and can't sleep.  So I eat before bed, but limit the muesli amount by using a 1/2 c. measuring cup.

Some days I crave muesli, other days it might be avocados, dates, etc and I while I do limit my intake, I think my body must crave it for a reason, so I eat it!  I just limit the portion size.  Today, I think it is muesli.

See how simple we keep it?  Just get everything bad out of your house:  processed packages of food, sugars, extra oils, etc and then load in a great variety of produce.  You'll start craving the good stuff while losing weight.

Losing Weight, Gaining Health:
My weight is down:  I weighed 140 pounds in August but am down to 121 today, just 2 pounds from my high school weight!  I feel great!  My body will determine my ideal weight once all the fat (which is a risk factor in most diseases) is off my body.  It is likely lower than my 119 initial goal.  But my ultimate goal is exceptional health!

So that's a typical day of eating.  No muss, no fuss, no starvation, no worries.

Enjoy your plant-based diet!  You will be amazed at how good you feel while the fat slides off!


Tuesday, May 29, 2012

It’s Becoming a Habit! (by Lynne)

They say following something for 3 weeks, turns it into a habit.   It’s now been 3 weeks since I jumped onto the vegan bandwagon and the experience, so far, has been much better than I expected (and it does, indeed, feel like a new habit!)!  I’m really enjoying all the new and interesting foods, and have been learning A LOT!
My daily companion has been my new Blendtec high-speed blender:

This has been my favorite breakfast smoothie most mornings (modified from the excellent Whole Foods Recipes iOS app):
  • 1 cup non-sweetened Almond Milk
  • 1 TB  ground flaxseed
  • 1 banana
  • 1 handful of fresh kale (without stems)
  • 1 handful of fresh spinach (without stems)
  • 2 or 3 Medjool dates
  • 3/4 cups of frozen fruit
In less than a minute, the Blendtec spins it into a creamy green milkshake.  While I’ll admit, the color looks pretty gross, the taste is sweet, smooth, and delicious—just like a fruit milkshake.
I’m finding that this single smoothie alone will usually sustain me pretty well until lunchtime, but if I crave a crunchy snack between meals, I’ll have a handful of baby carrots, an apple,  or some celery with homemade hummas (also made in the Blendtec!).
For my lunch and dinner meals, I’ve tried to ensure that one of them focuses on raw veggies (such as a large green tossed salad), and the other focuses on a meal with cooked veggies or homemade soup (creaming soups is yet another use for the Blendtec).  With either meal, I try to also include a protein source such as chickpeas, black beans, walnuts, cashews, or tofu.
If I need an after-dinner snack, I’ll have some kind of fruit again—either whole, or as a fruit smoothie or frozen sugarless fruit sorbet (yep, yet another use for the Blendtec!).
For the next few months, my goal is to continue this strict initial phase of the Eat To Live book as much as I can in order to maximize weight loss (this phase minimizes starches and grains, and avoids nearly all sugar and oils).  My health goal is to lose a minimum of 50 lbs (so that I reach the “normal” BMI range), and by doing so, also hope to see my Glucose and Cholesterol levels decline back into normal ranges as well.
With any other diet, achieving these kinds of numbers would have seemed virtually impossible without severe starvation or extreme exercise.  But with this one, I’m actually eating more than I used to, am not counting any calories, and have not even started exercising yet (mainly because I wanted to see what kind of results I could get from just the diet-change alone).
Well, I’m happy to report that as of today (and with only the diet-change alone!), I have now lost 10 pounds!  10 down, 40 to go!


Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Easiest Soup Ever (by Evelyn)

Have you ever been super hungry, absolutely did not feel like cooking, and therefore made something from a recipe so easy that you thought it couldn’t be very good?  Today I found a soup recipe in a 20+ year old cookbook that I recently bought in a second hand bookstore that can be prepared in 5 minutes flat and is delicious.
But first a note about modifications:  I decided to double the recipe and put it in my food processor before cooking it.  The second I turned on the food processor a lot of the liquid went flying all over the counter and cabinets because the food processor was too full.  So I dumped what was left in a pot, added a tablespoon of turmeric, brought the contents to a boil, let it simmer 3-4 minutes and then used my immersion blender to make it creamy.  So here to the best of my knowledge is how to make this soup:

Fast Vegetable Cream Soup
adapted from recipe in The High Road to Health by Lindsay Wagner & Ariane Spade
  • 4 cups fresh or frozen vegetables (I used a mixture of frozen broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots from Costco called Normandy Blend)
  • 1/2 cup sesame tahini
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 TB low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 TB turmeric

Put all into a pot and bring to a boil. Let simmer for 3-4 minutes.  Blend with immersion blender.  I tried this recipe in my Blendtec and it was too smooth for my liking.
Trust me, this is very, very tasty and gets an RVEasy rating!


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Lynne's Story

Ah, those "zero" birthdays! At 20, I was at my prime physical fitness and weight and looking forward to finishing college and setting the world on fire. By 30, I was too busy gaining career recognition and income to notice that I was also now adding a few pounds and inches to my waistline each year (due to my "sit all day" desk job and long commutes).

When I turned 40, I had progressed to a traveling consulting career that finally got me out of a cubicle, but now into new land mines of restaurant/fast-food while on the go, and "uncontrollable grazing" while working from my home-office.

The pounds and inches continued to slowly grow, even as I made a few failed attempts at diets and exercise. I had some initial success with the South Beach Diet and lost about 10 pounds, but within a few months, had gained it all back when I returned to eating my old foods again. I later tried calorie-counting, a calorie-restricted meal replacement service (Seattle Sutton), and various exercise equipment and routines to no avail.

By the time I reached my mid 40's, my bloodwork was now showing signs of major medical problems ahead-- glucose readings were now up to the "Pre-Diabetes" range, and Triglyceride and HDL cholesterol readings were now out of bounds (all due to poor diet and lack of exercise). Additionally, I felt my mental alertness beginning to drift into a continuous feeling of "brain fog" and malaise -- was it "old age"? was it "depression"? The only solutions doctors seemed to offer was the standard "exercise and eat right" or to offer various prescription drugs, neither of which I was all that excited about.

Last year, I turned to a "mainly vegetarian" diet in hopes of improving my health. While it helped my conscience immensely to refrain from eating meat, my waist line was still not improving much (mainly because I was replacing the meat with more carbs, sweets, and cheeses).

As I closed in on my 50th birthday earlier this year, with my health now dangerously close to "running off the rails", I knew this had better be the year I made some major alterations to my lifestyle and diet!

Coincidentally, around that same time I happened to meet up with my fellow RV-blogger buddy, Evelyn, who started telling me about her recent transition to a vegan diet (which, in turn, was inspired by fellow RV buddy, Tessa). Evelyn sent me some of Tessa's book and video links that had helped her so much and I soon began educating myself further.

After watching the video documentary Fat, Sick & Nearly Dead (free on and reading the book Eat To Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, I ordered myself a high-speed Blendtec blender, cleaned out my fridge and pantry, and restocked it for the first time with real, honest-to-goodness plant-based foods.

In my first 2 weeks of going vegan, and following the Eat To Live principles, I've consumed all the vegetables and fruits I've wished to eat, have not felt hungry or deprived, have not counted one calorie, and have not yet exercised at all, and still...I've managed to lose more in these first 2 weeks than I ever have on any previous diet and exercise program-- I've lost 7 lbs!

But more importantly, I feel like maybe, just maybe, I finally have "the winning formula" to lose weight and improve my health for the long run.

This blog will track the progress and discoveries along my new journey with hopes of inspiring others. It will also allow Evelyn and Tessa to give me a public flogging if I ever happen to fall off the wagon :-)

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Tessa's Story

I’m a 44-year-old married Mom of three teenagers and I love to do two things:  travel and learn about nutrition. 

First, the travel increased when I bought an old Lazy Daze motorhome, sight unseen, in 2007 and flew to Minneapolis to drive it home to Texas.  While I did not have a clue how to drive a 26’ long rig, particularly in 30 mph wind gusts, it was the start of a great adventure. 

By 2008, I’d taken my kids out of school for a year to travel via RV to the Wild West and Alaska, Mexico and Central America, Disney to D.C., and then an RV exchange with an Irish family in Europe.  We explored 31 countries and had a trip of a lifetime.  Blogs I-IV here detail our trip.  Motorhome travel is incredibly fun and opens so many doors to adventure!  I meet great people along the way, like Evelyn and Lynne!

How did I get interested in Nutrition?  I learned that people with cancer often drastically alter their diets *after* being diagnosed with cancer.  Why after?  If such a diet is healthiest as determined by science, then what if we eat that diet *before* getting cancer?  Yes, that actually is a really good idea and greatly reduces our chances of getting certain types of cancer.

So I researched diets for cancer treatment and learned about Raw Foods, juicing, and read the books Eat to Live by Dr. Fuhrman and The China Study by Dr. Campbell.  Our family then made an overnight switch to a Raw Food diet for three months, beginning August 6, 2011, when we ate raw fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds.

I’ll admit that it was a little rough at first since we did not know what a dehydrator was, had never bought organic food, had never ordered a vegetarian meal in a restaurant, didn't personally know a single vegan, and actually pronounced "vegan" incorrectly!  We were complete newbies at this.  Plus, I cannot say all my teenagers were enthusiastic with this plan.  But we did it and found all sorts of good things started to happen to our bodies.

After three months of Raw Vegan, we added to our diet cooked beans, whole grain breads and pastas, and some cooked veggies. While a 100% Raw Food diet is the healthiest, I do not believe it is necessary in order to have exceptional health.  Currently, we eat about 75% raw foods, with fruits and salads.  It is not as weird as it sounds!

At 5'6", I was not considered by most Americans to be overweight at 140 lbs, but I sure didn't feel good about myself nor physically.  My family's vegan start date was August 6, 2011 and as of May 2012, I am at 122 lbs and am slowly dropping fat toward my ideal weight.  122 lbs is less than I've weighed in decades.  I still have fat to lose (which is a risk factor for many diseases) but now instead of feeling as if nothing I did helped regarding weight, I am confident this simple vegan solution leads directly to optimal health.

Plus, I feel so much better energy-wise without the afternoon slumps, and I sleep better, and I'm not allergic to strawberries anymore, and I heal faster, and my headaches are gone, and I psychologically feel more positive (and not just because I'm happy I'm eating healthier- there is something chemical that seems to happen probably due to detox).

Fortunately, anyone who has become vegan can tell you that these wonderful changes are predictable and expected, for you as well as for everyone enjoying a nutritious, plant-based diet.  Try it for four weeks and you'll never go back to old ways of unhealthy eating!

Prior to reading the nutritional books, I did not know that animal protein is so bad for humans.  And the pounds were packing on yearly while I felt somewhat starved.  But after changing our diets and losing some weight while eating all we wanted, I needed to share this knowledge.  I did not want MY friends and family to be ignorant about what causes nearly all the major diseases in America:  Animal Protein.  Cancer, heart-disease, diabetes, kidney stones, Alzheimer's are all greatly, greatly affected by what you eat!  And it is so simple to lose weight on a plant-based diet!

So I now share this information with people everywhere I go.  Some people do not want to hear about a diet change, but some people become inspired to try better eating.  It makes my heart sing to hear of their successes!

Why, if it is true that animal protein is bad for us, do we not hear it?  I believe it is because the clear scientific research conflicts with our government’s subsidizing of the meat and dairy industries.  It is also because “food disparagement laws” muffle intelligent discourse.

But the numbers do not lie!  Show me any other diet that lowers weight and eliminates fat, which causes terrible health issues. Show me a diet that lowers cholesterol, reverses heart disease, eliminates diabetes, lowers blood pressure, and helps people achieve their ideal weight with no hunger.  What other diet makes you feel happier, lighter, cleaner, and have more energy?  This is a lifestyle for taking care of your precious body. You will feel like a teenager again!

I want to share the nutritional truth so that others make the connection between what they eat and their health.  I want to encourage people who are willing to TRY, who want to feel good and have better health.  There are SO MANY people in America who need to hear the truth in order to get healthy and I want to be a part of the solution.  A tremendous diet overhaul is needed in our country, one by one.

That’s why I’m here.  I hope you are inspired to put your health first.  I will help along the way and cheer you on!  Take the first step by learning the truth about good nutrition and then just start.  You will never look back once you begin reaping the rewards.  Here’s to your exceptional health!

Saturday, May 19, 2012


We are the Vegan Vagabonds (Tessa, Evelyn and Lynne) who originally met online to share each others' adventure RV'ing travels.  In the last several months, we've also discovered something else we share -- a desire to improve our health by adopting a plant-based diet.  In other words, we've gone vegan!

Truthfully, the "vegan" label is still rather difficult for any of us to embrace.  Vegans are supposed to be those radical hippies who live on a commune and don't shave their armpits, aren't they? Well, we certainly are NOT that!  We're just normal suburban women looking to improve our health and our family's health.  As a bonus, it's also kinda nice to know that our dietary changes are making the planet just a little bit healthier too.

The three of us are at very different stages of our lives (from our 40's to our 60's), our vegan experience (Lynne is the recent newbie), have different home environments (single, married couple, and large family), and we're even spread out geographically as well (from Texas, Colorado, and Illinois).  We hope this provides a diversity of viewpoints to show that no matter what your age, living situation, location, or diet/medical goals might be, that a plant-based diet can be successfully achieved!   If we can do it, you certainly can too!

In the next few posts, we'll introduce ourselves individually and tell you our stories.  After that, we hope to use this blog to share helpful information and recipes, and provide candid reviews of things that have (and have not) worked for each of us.

We also have started a Facebook page to provide shorter, more-frequent updates, tips, and general support to each other.  Please feel free to click the "Like" button and join us there for the discussion!