4 Foods you may think you need to eliminate and 4 Foods that you really should

Potatoes:

Many people associate potatoes as being bad for their figures or simply as an unhealthy option. Truthfully, it is everything that we tend to put on or eat potatoes with that is bad! Mayonnaise, Butter, Cream, Cheese, Sour Cream, Steak, Tons of Salt, Bacon and Bacon bits, and Canola Oil and the foods we should really be eliminating. Fact: Potatoes are tubers; they grow underground off the root after the plant has grown and flowered. They are rich in nutrients such as vitamin C, B vitamins (esp. folic acid, thiamin, niacin, and pantothenic acid), potassium, magnesium, manganese, iron, and zinc. Their fat content is barely existent, and they are approximately 2/3 starch and 10% protein. Potatoes can be baked, roasted, steamed, boiled, sauteed or turned into soups and when enjoyed without their usual fattening suspects can be part of a healthy diet.

Nuts:

I have heard some people who are trying to lose weight say “Oh I can’t have nuts, their way too fattening” yet their think eating red meat and dairy products is helping them and that is simply ignorance. Nuts are rich in plant protein and unsaturated fats, and when eaten raw, and unsalted they are low in sodium, provide a mix of the B vitamins, vitamin E, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and other trace minerals. Raw nuts should also be stored in the refrigerator to ensure freshness. Nuts are best eaten in small portions (handful) as a snack to ward off cravings for things such a chocolate, or soaked and made into easily digested nut milk! Nuts also make a great apres-workout snack to replenish your muscles. Again, rather than blaming nuts for being fat, try reducing your consumption of animal fats.

Dates, Bananas, and other Tropical Fruits:

Since when did anyone think that a piece of sweet, delicious fruit was bad for your figure? Cause they’re not! Now of course you should ensure you have a varied diet and not eat the same foods all year round everyday, but sweet fruits can be a part of any healthy diet. Fruits contain a diverse amount of nutrients individually, and they also contain lots of healthy fibre. The fibre in fruit slows down the digestion of its natural sugars so that they don’t spike our blood sugar levels like refined cane sugar would. Fruits also have many other good qualities, Dates for instance are surprisingly concentrated in iron, and also boast good quantities of niacin, pantothenic acid, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. Bananas not only make a great pre-workout/activity snack with their pure carbohydrate content, they also provide potassium, magnesium, selenium, iron, and other vitamins and minerals. Instead of worrying about how much sugar is in an innocent piece of fruit, try to avoid any food that contains refined cane sugar or corn syrup, two of the biggest blood sugar disruptors.

Whole grains:

A whole rant could be done on the misinformation out there about grains, but I’ll keep this short.  Whole grains are a good source of complex carbohydrates which provide us with sustained energy for our busy lives. They are rich sources of fibre, B vitamins, vitamin E, and many minerals. Now lets keep in mind wheat is not the only grain out there, and if something is gluten free it is not necessarily healthy. Healthy wholegrains include brown rice, quinoa, oats, barley, buckwheat and corn. These are healthiest in their unprocessed, organic form. With the exception of quinoa which is already a complete protein, whole grains can be eaten in conjunction with legumes in our diet to provide all the necessary amino acids for a healthy body. Instead of avoiding grains all together and doing the whole “caveman” diet simply avoid refined processed grain products like white bread, packaged cookies, white rice and crackers.

Reference:

Haas, E.M. & Levin, B. (2006). Staying Healthy with Nutrition. NY: Ten Speed Press

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Green coconut pudding

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Experimenting in the kitchen this morning and i wound up with this magical pudding, its green, its vegan, its healthy and delicious! This makes for a great apres workout meal because you got your protein, carbohydrates, fats and loads of vitamins and minerals to promote recovery!

-half a cup of organic canned coconut milk ( dont use the light stuff it aint creamy enough! )
-4 to 6 dates with pits removed ( depending how sweet you like )
-handful of organic spinach
-1/2 or 1 serving of vanilla protein powder ( i used vega )
-splash of unsweetened almond milk to help blend

Throw these ingredients into your blender or food processor, start blending slow and speed up gradually. Pause it now and then to scrape the sides, and once it’s the consistency you want you can sit back and enjoy! Eat it alone or with some fresh berries, some granola, chia seeds, etc. πŸ™‚

6 tips to make healthy eating cheaper

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Scope it out:Β Always look at flyers from the different grocery stores in your area, check out which one has the best deal on the foods you want/ like.

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Plan Ahead:Β Always make a list, because just like going to the gym, if you go without a plan, you’re going to waste a lot of time and maybe even money on things you don’t need.

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Stock up:Β If there is something that you eat a lot of and it goes on sale, buy lots! For example, peanut butter or canned chickpeas, these things can last awhile in your cupboard so why not buy a bunch when they are on sale, and save money in the long run, rather than buying them every week over and over at the standard price. You can also do this with fruit and freeze it.

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Keep it Simple:Β You do not need to eat expensive raw cacao, goji berries and organic kale chips all the time to be healthy, YOU JUST DON’T! Don’t fall for all the superfood gimics, you can get more nutritional value for your money from making your own food and eating seasonal fruits and veggies, grains, nuts and seeds. Those typical β€œhealth food” items are nice to have but are not affordable on a regular basis.

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Eat Seasonally:Β It is tempting to buy strawberries and grapes in the winter, but they are not cheap, nor are they high in nutrients! And for a good reason, because they are not in season! Eating seasonally is one of the best things you can do for your health and your wallet. You do not need to eat the same fruits and vegetables everyday year round. Aim for variety in your diet on a yearly basis.

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Make your own food: Don’t complain you have no time, because at some point in your day you probably sit on the couch and watch TV or sit on the computer not really doing anything productive. It is so much cheaper and healthier for you to create your own meals from the basics than it is to buy packaged, pre-prepared food. You can easily make your own cereal and granola with oats, seeds, and nuts. You can make your own trail mix with your favorite nuts and dried fruits. You can make your own salad dressing with your choice of vegetable oil, lemon, vinegar and herbs. Eventually once you have made it a habit, preparing food is no different than brushing your teeth everyday, its just something you do! Preparing your own food is also very rewarding.Β 

My Vegan Food Finds In Europe

Some people have asked me how I found being vegan was while traveling, well it’s pretty easy actually, aside from the two hard boiled eggs I may have had when there wasn’t much else (I ain’t perfect!) and accidentally ordering a stuffed pepper that had meat in it which I then gave to a friend. I had some of the most delicious food I’ve ever had while traveling and I also had some of the nastiest ( sorry Paris your pizza sucked… )

So here I’ll share with you all my good vegan food finds and hopefully you’ll see how vegan-friendly Europe can be.

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British Airways let me request a vegan meal for my flight over and my flight home, it was bland but looked better than everyone else’s gross plane food!

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London had some really good vegan food and is in general a really veg-friendly city. The two above photos are from the Vegetarian Pub that I went to, the meal I had was Tofu Fish ‘n Chips and it was delicious! A vegetarian pub seems like such a strange concept, and when you go inside it looks just like any other funky pub, but they don’t serve any meat! Yay πŸ™‚

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Here’s some goodies I found in London and carried them with me for a short while before deciding I had to eat it all to lighten my bag. PS that soymilk was the best soymilk I have ever had. And that VEGO bar… heaven.

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These next few pictures are from Holland, which is slightly less vegan friendly than London, but I found a health food store which I frequented while I was in Bloemendaal and they sold vegan “chicken” (pictured above) which was frighteningly a lot like chicken. And in Amsterdam I had a lovely buffet lunch at a vegan restaurant/store. I also ate lots of fries πŸ™‚ with ketchup not mayo!

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These next two are from my favorite cafe/restaurant in Brussels called Le Pain Quotient, they had awesome vegan muffins as well as other food, and I always got a cafe au lait avec soya πŸ™‚

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The above pizza was from Paris and it was pretty disappointing, but in Versailles we went to the market and got food to eat by the Palace and I got a baguette with some tapenade, currants, and figs which was yummy. Paris didn’t impress me unfortunately, maybe because I was alone and so intimidated by it all, but Paris is where I broke down and bought a 6 euro jar of Skippy Peanut Butter…

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This pizza I got in Pisa and it was pretty good, I was disappointed though because before I went I had researched this vegan restaurant super close to the Tower, when I got to the address the store was completely closed down, this was a recurring thing in Italy because so many people close their shops for the month of August to go on Holiday, which sucks if your traveling in Italy in August! But I made due.

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In Florence I had some really good food, again some of the vegetarian places I had scoped out were closed (waaahh) but I had some great pizza and one night I had these tuscan beans as a side with my pizza (didn’t have my phone to take a picture) but they were delicious and so simple! White beans in a thin tomato sauce. I also had some delicious fresh fruit and found vegan gelato and sorbet at a famous family owned gelateria! I went there a few times πŸ™‚

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My hostel in Zagarolo made dinners for us and this pasta was one of the best I have ever had (and I’ve eaten alot of pasta!)

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This is a shop in Bodrum that I frequented while I was there, here I stocked up on turkish delight, nuts, dates, and dried apricots. They also had tons of different kinds of tea and spices.

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Okay so Turkey won overall with its amazing vegan food, and cheap too! The two pictures with vegetables and rice were both filling dinners from a canteen and only cost 6 turkish lira, which is approximately $3 Canadian! The cafe/store where I had cake was one that I simply stumbled upon while walking one day, I had a really yummy meal there and had planned to go back but didn’t have the time. The fresh fruit and juice in Turkey was also incredible and again, so cheap! These photos are from Istanbul.

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These two pictures are from the vegan “fast food” place in Split. I was so excited when I saw their sign, I think I ate here 5 times while in Split but only took these two photos, they had one of the best veggie burgers I have ever had here with grilled veggies on it, yum!

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and then there was another not so great pizza in Split.

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In Dubrovnik our Contiki Rep took us to this vegetarian restaurant that we went back to a number of times while there, all the food there was delicious and most of the menu was vegan, I also had some delicious local organic blackberry wine from here which I bought a bottle of and drank all myself Β πŸ™‚

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This was my last euro meal, from the Heathrow airport, since I became addicted to olives in Turkey I ordered olives, a smoothie (finally a freakin smoothie!! ) and a cappuccino with soy milk which I probably shouldn’t have had because it made me super antsy for my flight.

Better Digestion with a few simple rules

Food Combining for Optimal Digestion and Better Health

1: Eat Fruit by itself, only with other fruits, or with greens in a smoothie. For example, eat fruit on an empty stomach (the morning is perfect) and not after a meal, while having a piece of fruit after dinner is better than a sugary, fatty dessert, it will not digest properly and may cause some tummy issues.

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2: Do not combine high protein foods with carbohydrates, i.e. protein powder with fruit in a smoothie, a typical burger with fries, or pretty much mixing any meat with a grain or bread is a no no, one of the reasons your digestion is typically better when you are vegan πŸ˜‰ .

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Examples of what IS good: tofu with veggies, quinoa with veggies, brown rice (yes brown rice is a complex carbohydrate that also has good quality protein) with veggies, tempeh with veggies, hummus with veggies, beans with veggies, or if you do eat animal products combining those with veggies as well is okay.

tofu, quinoa, and veggies

When it comes to starchy vegetables like potatoes and sweet potatoes, it is best to eat those with another complex carbohydrate (i.e. grain) or with vegetables.

Following these guidelines will definitely give you better digestion, and better overall health because your food will be digested, absorbed, and eliminated in a smoother way. Now I will admit I don’t ALWAYS follow these guidelines, but if you do at least most of the time you will still benefit from it πŸ™‚

Reference: β€œStaying Healthy with Nutrition: The Complete Guide to Diet and Nutritional Medecine (21st century edition)” , 2006, by Elson M. Haas, MD. with Buck Levin, PhD, RD.Β