Restau-Review Of The Month: Green Earth Vegan Cuisine

on my second day of being vegan, my husband and i decided to go to a restaurant that we haven’t been before. since he knew about my lifestyle change, he assigned me to research for a vegan place close by, and Green Earth Vegan Cuisine was the first on the list.

situated in the busy street of Fair Oaks Avenue in Pasadena, California, the place is small, quaint and clean. the staff were also very friendly, and answered the questions i had at the time. the menu is very simple yet very descriptive. they also have the following options for some of the food:

  • Gluten Free (GF)
  • Gluten Free Option (GFO)
  • Soy Free (SF)
  • Soy Free Option (SFO)

i ordered the Bun Xao, which is vietnamese stir-fried rice noodles with veggies, and my husband ordered the Curry Fried Rice. we were very pleased with the food. the flavors are very rich, tasty, and not overwhelming. of course we didn’t skip dessert, so we shared the Organic Carrot Cake. now, for most carrot cakes, the frosting is so sweet that it ruins your palette to eat the rest. in this case, the sweetness, texture and flavors blended perfectly that nothing was left on the plate. for the two of us, all we spent was a total of $25. and the serving size was good enough for us that we did not eat dinner anymore. you won’t feel any of that nasty, heavy fullness in your stomach.

so whether you are a full pledged vegan, or just want to try something different, this restaurant is highly recommended. although the place itself doesn’t have its own parking space, it was well worth it. for more information, you may visit their website at http://www.greenearthvegan.com.

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Going Vegan On A Budget

as i have mentioned in my previous blogs, one of the main concerns in any diet change is having to think of what to eat, and where to get it. because most people already know what to buy, they are well aware of their budget. according to the USDA’s website (www.usda.gov), a low income grocery shopper spends about $600 a month on food to last a family of 4, whether it’s at a local market, Costco, or a combination of both. imagine what an average income person spends! but what is on their food list?

i was one of those who bought some of the most common, easy to prepare and/or cook foods:

  • bread
  • cereal
  • milk
  • eggs
  • poultry (chicken, turkey)
  • pork or beef
  • processed meats (canned corned beef, sardines, hotdogs, bacon)
  • fruit juice by the gallon
  • frozen ready-to-eat meals
  • junk chips and snacks (ice cream, microwaveable popcorns)

after i have at least a few of these, i would then go get the veggies and fresh fruits. mostly it would be the reverse, but the foods listed above were marked as important. what gets me disappointed every single time is that no matter how little of each item i get, my bill never went less than $60. just the beef alone to be cooked for one meal is already close to $12. as bad as i would feel upon going back home for the amount of money i spent on ‘crap’, i always thought that we needed the crap i just bought.

now that i am vegan, i feel more excited in going to the grocery. i realized that i didn’t have to get meat and dairy products anymore, and for that i can save more money. the good part is that i didn’t have to fear going to places like Whole Foods Market, Trader Joe’s or Sprouts. one good example is when i went to Sprouts two days ago and i got the following items (actual price included):

  • 1 container of strawberries, $2.50
  • 2 cucumbers (promotional 2 for 1), $0.50
  • 2 avocados (promotional 2 for 1), $1.00
  • 1 zucchini, $0.27
  • 1 organic bananas, $2.16
  • 1 bunch organic green beans, $2.26
  • 1 red bell pepper, $0.98
  • 1 sweet potato, $0.72
  • 1 jar capers in vinegar, $2.29
  • 2 salad dressing (promotional 2 for $4), $4.00
  • 1 jar organic coconut oil, $4.49
  • 2 dairy free yogurt, $2.18
  • 1 pack vegan shredded cheese, $3.34
  • 1 pack tofu, $1.29
  • 1 pack organic tempeh, $3.69

the total with tax came to $34.60, that is a far cry from the usual $60 or more that i would spend. i couldn’t believe what i saw on the screen when the cashier showed me what i have to pay. i thought i’d demand a recount, just for kicks. with that being said, i saved almost $30, so i was able to get other things we needed at home.

it’s all about knowing where to go and what you want to get. you don’t have to be in a high end market just to avail all things vegan or vegetarian. when purchasing the most basic items like veggies, fruits, beans and whole grains, your local market is good enough.

 

Oh Tempeh! 

when i used to eat meat, i thought that vegans were picky and missing out on a lot of delectable dishes. turns out, i am now one of them: picky in terms of eating only the good stuff (veggies, fruits and whole grains), and have been missing out on the healthy benefits all this time. i realized then that they were right from the start. and for that, i stand corrected.

veganism has opened a whole new world of creativity and uniqueness that i never knew existed in me. i became more attentive to what i eat, and i am now more excited in cooking. before, i would get frustrated of thinking what to make for lunch or supper. now it feels like it just comes to me, and i am loving the new me.

with that being said,  i researched on healthy meat alternatives and other products that are made just for vegans. i went to the market after making my list. in it, one of them is Tempeh. i heard of it before but i never tried it at all. it’s made from soybeans and looks like a long lump of sticky rice in a pack. so i got one, which costs around $5. i’ve never been more excited to come home and cook.

i went to YouTube and searched for tempeh, and of all the videos that showed how to cook it, the simplest way that i saw was to just fry it and add a bit of soy sauce to taste. so i did, and then i tried it. the taste was phenomenal, and it has this nutty, rice flavor. i loved it so much that i even poured sweet chili sauce to it. it was like eating tater tots. it also gave me some dish ideas and that made me excited even more. you may eat tempeh as is, with quinoa or with salad. the beauty of it is that whether you eat it by itself or with other foods, you feel full without the lousy ‘food coma’ effect.

(photo credit: google.com)

Colon Flush: Is It Safe?

a few years ago, i was browsing what to watch on TV, and i saw ‘You Are What You Eat’ on the BBC America line up. i thought it might be interesting so i checked it out. it was a show hosted by Gillian McKeith, a certified scottish nutritionist and TV presenter, and it is like a reality show where the main purpose is not only to educate the participants about the important nutrition that the body needs, but also to help them lose weight.

some of the participants were single people, couples, mother and son or sometimes the whole family. she tackled about what their typical meal was during the week, physical activities and health history. it was a shock to see the show because they ate junk in scary amounts and has less physical activity. so after she analyzes their lifestyle, she comes up with a special plan that they must follow. on one episode, she told her participant to schedule a colonic.

what is a Colonic? also known as Colon Hydrotherapy or Colon Irrigation, it’s an alternative to medical therapy to clean the colon and intestinal tract. mostly, a person can do self colonics by taking supplements, while another can do an Enema at home. but none of her participants did that. instead, they went to an actual Colon Hydrotherapist in a clinic. i got intrigued because i have never seen it before. the patient lays on her side in a bed, and a special tube is inserted in her rectum, then purified water goes inside the colon and is flushed back out, taking out all of the indigested food that has been there for a while. long story short, her participants lost a significant amount of weight, and their lifestyle has changed. the show doesn’t exist anymore but ever since then i became interested in trying it out. thankfully, there was a deal from Groupon that offered 3 sessions for the price of one. so i purchased the coupon and scheduled myself.

the clinic itself was clean, the staff was very accommodating, and the ambiance made me feel like i was in a luxurious spa. when it was my turn, my therapist made me feel comfortable, and she answered any question i had in mind. what i like is that every tool she used is clean, individually wrapped and tamper resistant. while the session is going on, she and i began to chat. then she showed me a picture of a colon that was taken out from a mentally ill patient that passed away from complications due to enlarged bowel because he was not pooping at all from a certain age until his death. i wish i took a picture of it, but just imagine this- his colon was stretched out for measuring purposes during autopsy, and its length is the same as the guy’s height: 6 feet. the diameter is as thick as the size of a 1 liter Coke bottle’s middle part. and it was a surprise that it never busted while it was still inside the body. that’s literally a lot of crap. so when i was done, she reminded me to watch what i eat and drink loads of water to avoid constipation. the session took 45 minutes, and after the last session, i felt that my stomach was less bloated and lighter.

for me it was a rare experience but also informative, because we talked about nothing else but crap and making the right food choices. during the session she told me about avoiding certain foods like mushrooms and corn because they don’t digest at all. she also told me to avoid rice, meat, sugar and certain grains, which unfortunately i don’t remember. now that i am vegan, i understood what she told me then, because i noticed a huge change in my bowel movement since i switched.

in my previous blog, i talked about how my poop’s odor isn’t as overwhelming anymore unlike before. i realized then that my poor diet affected the smell of my poop, and there is an explanation for its foul odor. my colonic therapist explained to me how the food travels inside our body. the way i understand it is that after our ingested food goes through a breakdown, our system stores the good nutrients we need, and disposes the bad ones. what is unwanted comes out of from the end of the small intestine (which is on our bottom right side of the tummy) and goes into the large intestine, or colon. what enters the colon travels upwards and towards the left side of our body and out the toilet. it will only move once the crap ahead of it is pushed out, because it can’t go anywhere else. it isn’t capable of ‘cutting off’ by maneouvering its way out of the colon to the john. so remember this: when you visit the loo for number 2, you are not pooping out the food you just ate hours before, but it’s what you had days, weeks, maybe even months ago. hence the horrible odor that lingers for a while once you get out of the bathroom. for meat eaters, the digestion and movement takes 72 hours longer. and because of that, constipation occurs.

for vegans like me, that shouldn’t be a problem because we have a plant based diet, and our food digests easily. what i want to address is that should you decide to give it a go, it is very important to do a very thorough research about colonics done with the help of a professional, and it is an option only unless recommended otherwise. i experienced it, and i am raving about it. is it safe? for me it is, because all the therapist uses is purified water. but it may not be for everybody. some are for it, and they say that it made them lose weight. some are against it because they say they don’t see any difference. in my opinion, it was a good choice for me because what i was after is the health of my colon.

what about you? what do you think? have you done it before? what was your experience?

Withdrawals vs Benefits

for every change that you do, there’s always going to be a feeling of missing your old ways, and for that, some things happen that is known as withdrawals. whether it’s avoiding sweets, cigarettes, or even drugs, the craving for going back is very common and hard to battle. and beginner vegans like me have them too. for me, here are some of the symptoms i noticed:

  • my palette became more sensitive. because i have eaten meat all my life, i can tell the meat apart with my eyes closed. and i was fine while eating because i mainly chewed my food without really savouring the flavors. since i stopped it, it was different for me because there was a distinctive taste that i was not having.
  • headache on the second day. it wasn’t an unbearable one, but it was enough for me to recognize it. since i knew what it was, i decided to treat it naturally by letting it be, and drank a lot of water.
  • breaking out. actually, i still do, and it’s annoying. thankfully it’s not as bad anymore as how it used to be when i still ate meat.
  • craving for party foods. as a filipina, i enjoy it when i go to parties. aside from the never ending laughter and yacking amongst friends, the food is endless. but now that i am vegan, i am going to be the only one that would say NO to the food (in my mind), and instead i will look at each platter hoping that they served a veggie dish.

these are the ones i can remember. but, there’s always good with the bad, and with that comes the benefits i am now enjoying:

  • more energy. i was never a coffee drinker from the get go, but once in a while we would do a quick Starbucks run especially before we go to church. my favourite was Salted Caramel Mocha. now, my body doesn’t even ask for it.
  • my PMS symptoms changed. normally, i would feel my breasts being sore that it was so painful to take my bra off, and it was worse for me because i am well endowed. my appetite was also through the roof, and i would always feel them 2 weeks prior to my actual period. i am 3 days away from my first day, and yet i was able to curb my appetite and for the first time i am not suffering from removing my bra.
  • no more sensitivity to sunlight. i hated the sun and summer with a passion, not for vain physical reasons, but because i would then get headaches once i am outside for more than 5 minutes. what made it worse is when i had to go inside a cooler place with the A/C on after being out in the sun. no more headaches means no more pain pills. no more pain pills means one happy liver.
  • weight loss. in a span of 14 days, i lost 6 pounds already, and i haven’t even done any drastic measures like extreme exercise, nor did i even skip meals.
  • bowel movements were much easier. i had Metamucil every day because of severe constipation. and because i stopped eating meat, my digestive system adjusted very well and visiting the loo was more enjoyable. and what i also noticed is that my poo doesn’t stink as much anymore as how it used to, no pun intended. it still smells, obviously, but the odor disappears once i flush.

as i write these things down, i can say proudly that i have made the right decision to go vegan. the good outweighed the bad, and it’s been a great change for me so far. should you decide to go vegetarian or vegan or any diet you wish to follow, consulting your doctor or nutritionist is a must. remember, not all results are typical.

 

Now What?

i have been vegan for 14 days now, and then came questions i asked myself, like ‘now what?’, ‘what to eat?’, ‘where to find vegan foods on a budget?’.

when i began my journey, those were some of the questions that i had in mind, considering my background. thankfully, in today’s world, researching is just a click away. so aside from the book The Kind Diet, i went to Google and informed myself on how to go vegan without hurting my wallet.

in all honesty, veggies, fruits, and grains are not that expensive. a bag of beans costs only $2.00, maybe even less. a cabbage head costs more or less $2 as well. i bought the basics just to get started. while beginners like me may not be able to afford organic produce, the best thing to do is just wash the veggies and fruits thoroughly. markets also sell a spray solution called Veggie Wash.

i’ve also watched recipe videos on YouTube. one example is Miso Soup. this is probably one of my favorites. i was into my third day of being vegan, when i thought of making it. so i searched, and it lead me to a video from the website thevegancorner.com. it is an amazing site! it has dishes from starters, to main dish, and even desserts. the best part is that every recipe has a video. it’s a must to check the site out.

another concern i have is what i should do when i am invited to a party. will it be nice to tell the host that i am no longer a meat eater? will they be offended? perplexed? while there may be stigma on mental illness, relationships between couples with huge age gaps, there is stigma on being vegan too. most of the time, non vegan or vegetarian people look down on vegans/vegetarians alike. they think that vegans starve themselves because they don’t eat meat. sometimes they also think that vegans are people who think they are better than others. what i think is that we are being better for us, not for them. but that is something they don’t understand. at least not yet.

so, going back to party invitations, i know what is usually served in a filipino party. because we serve a lot of food, there’s plenty for me to choose from that is mainly veggies. but what if it’s hosted by someone with a different ethnicity? should you be hoping and praying that it’s a potluck so you can bring your own food? what do you think? what can you suggest? i hope to hear from you soon.

 

 

 

 

 

Pinay Vegan

pinay vegan? 

that’s right. i am pinay (short term for filipina), and i am vegan. and my journey to being one didn’t start until only 14 days ago.

a couple of days before my lifestyle change, my son and i were at a mall, and i saw a store called One Dollar Store. so i decided to check it out while the kids went pokemon hunting (i’m rolling my eyes here). i looked around, and i found the book that i’ve been wanting to get, but for budget reasons, i was unable to. it’s Alicia Silverstone’s ‘The Kind Diet’.

KD

i was overjoyed upon seeing the book, so of course i bought it. and i haven’t stopped reading it since then. just the first few chapters alone has made me realize that going vegan is the best way for me.

but how will that be when i was born and raised in a carnivorous country that lives on a ‘waste not, want not’ motto? and especially when most of the parties that i go to are being hosted by my friends or family, even though i live in California now? i began to contemplate on how to impose the discipline that i needed in order to go through. but as i went along Alicia’s testimony about her own decision to switch, i thought that i can do it too.

i started slow on the first day, with only having 1 hard boiled egg as my ‘meat’. the rest of the day were just veggies and fruits. and then i began to write my food journal. when my fourth day came, i felt the transition became easy for me.

how did i feel after? upon the first week, here are some of the things i noticed has happened to me since my first day:

  • not feeling stuffed from whatever i ate the night before, so no indigestion problems,
  • no common pms symptoms that i usually encounter, e.g. breast soreness,
  • not feeling the ‘food coma’ that i usually feel after eating a meat based meal,
  • no sunlight sensitivity, and
  • the lbs were starting to drop

of course, i also had a withdrawal symptom from abstaining animal products, and i felt it on the second day. but i decided not to take any pain meds as soon as i realize what it was. lo and behold, it was gone on the third day. that’s one happy liver inside me.

in the book, Alicia mentioned one thing about consuming meat: when we eat meat, the food goes into our body, which has a normal temperature of 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit. it’s like taking out frozen meat out of the freezer and letting it sit in the kitchen counter, in a room that’s very warm. and to make things worse, meat takes 72 hours to digest. so think of the day you ate meat during breakfast, lunch and dinner. that’s 3 portions times 72 hours, and that’s only in one day. imagine the rest of the time you consumed meat from the moment you turned 1 year old. gross!

i am guilty here, because i was one of those people. so i don’t think i am completely weaned off any animal products that i have consumed my whole life. like any decision, it takes process. amazingly, i felt the difference almost immediately. and let’s talk about weight here for a minute: i weighed myself on the first day, and i was 160 pounds. now, my stature is not the usual person with that weight: big belly, big arms, bigger hips and legs. i have a big-boned structure. i am 5’6″ tall, and my boobs are more noticeable than my belly and my legs. not something that a typical filipina would look like. whenever i put on weight, my face gets bigger, and i feel my clothes getting tighter. so that became one of the reasons why i switched.  i lost 5 lbs on the 9th day. and i haven’t even done any extreme workouts. so in comparison to the ‘juice cleansing’ trend, i really did a major cleansing, and that is getting rid of animal products, altogether. i may be just beginning, but i know that i am going to see results that will last a lifetime.