GYM-LESS EXERCISES – GET FIT and HEALTHY: Week 2

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in GET FIT

I can’t believe it’s already the 2nd week of our New Fitness and Health challenge: GET FIT and GET HEALTHY.  

Rules:

1. If you haven’t yet, join the challenge here: GET FIT and GET HEALTHY
2. Every Saturday come back to The Art of Making a Baby and ShutterMama to read the tips on how to be fitter, healthier and more confident.
3. Weekly write a post about your progress, following the questionnaire below, take a self-portrait (optional) and link up with us.
4. Don’t forget to grab the GET FIT challenge button on the sidebar and display it proudly on your blog or GET FIT post.
5.  Link your post with
Selfie Saturdays if you took your week’s self-portrait.  

{Shutter}Mama and I are so excited about the turnout last week. We knew that it would take a few weeks to pick up, due to the fact that it’s a pretty ambitious challenge.
However, what we didn’t expect was that a good number of people would join in immediately. That’s very encouraging and uplifting, because what this challenge needs is as many supporters as possible. Great results and motivation  are not possible to sustain without some kind of support, and we were hoping that the virtual support of other bloggers participating in our challenge will serve as just that. I’m expecting that this week we will do even better with new members checking in and reporting on their progress. I cannot wait to hear how you all did and what challenges you had during the week.
Be sure to stop by the other members of the GET FIT challenge for support and motivation. There’s nothing that motivates me better than seeing other people work hard and reach their goals. 

This week I’d like to talk about gym-less exercising.

I have noticed a lot of members and bloggers mentioning that they don’t like going to gyms or have  no time to make the trip. I totally understand that. I’ve never been a “class” person, I like learning things on my own and I tend to be lazy about getting out of the house, so those two things made me a perfect  candidate for working out at home. Believe it or not, there are a lot of choices for that, and they don’t have to be boring push-ups, sit-ups or squats. Two of my all-time favorite exercises for home use are PILATES and STEP-AEROBICS. Those were my buddies when I needed to get into terrific shape for modeling and they still support me to this day. I went through many different pilates DVDs until I found the perfect one that’s good for beginners, yet really tones you and gets your heart rate up and is still challenging 2 years down the road.   

It’s called 10 Minute Solutions: Rapid Results Pilates(with Lara Hudson). First of all, she’s the most pleasant pilates instructor. Secondly, the workouts that she picked really fit together well, make sense and are a true pleasure to do while still being very challenging. 
The DVD is  broken into 5 categories: Buns and Thighs, Abs, Arms and Shoulders, Body Blast ( cardio pilates) and Stretch. For busy moms and working girls ( not that type), it’s perfect. Every exercise takes 10 minutes and you are truly surprised to see how fast they go. Do 3 sections and you’ve already achieved your mandatory 30 minutes a day of moderate exercise.
This work out routine is so good, my husband does it with me ( and follows it up with additional weight lifting). That’s right – he converted to pilates after he felt how much they do to your whole body. No gym targets the kinds of muscles pilates seem to work out. So 30 minutes a day every other day paired with a cardio work out on alternate days will slowly get you to a nice tone without you even noticing that you’re working out.
That’s all it takes. You don’t need to go hardcore if you don’t want to or can’t. All you have to do is 30 minutes a day of something that really works all your muscles.   

I will post a video for you to follow right here. It’s the first section: Buns and Thighs. Do 10 minutes of it and tell me if it’s not easy, yet challenging.   

    

You can buy the full DVD from Amazon for only $10. Make sure it’s the right DVD ( link below), because there’re quite a few similar titles. What I love about this DVD compared to others, no props required. You could use dumbells, but who doesn’t own them already. Otherwise, no bands, no balls, nothing- just you and Lara Hudson :)  

   

NEED MOTIVATION?

So those of you out there who are still on the sidelines watching this challenge with a sigh and a “I want to do it, but I’m not sure I am ready”, Join us NOW! I challenge you to add 3 ten  minute a day sessions of pilates. That’s all I am asking for. Type up that blog announcing that you’ll be joining and getting in shape and in your fitness challenge put: “3 ten minute sessions of pilates daily” or “3 ten minutes pilates sessions every other day alternating with a 30 minutes  run/walk/roller blade/bike session”. DO IT!   

Don’t like exercises and need more cardio? Try step-aerobics. It’s one of the best way to get your legs toned and burn calories without leaving your home. All you need is an Aerobic Stepwhich you can buy at the nearest Target or Walmart next time you go food shopping or order on Amazon. It’s a lot of fun because it’s like a dance routine, but it doesn’t require any type of balance or coordination ( at least in the beginning). Any fun step-aerobics DVD will do: Netflix it, buy it, borrow it, rent it- I don’t care! Just try it!  

Next week I will try to post some tips about how to fit work outs into a busy day schedule.   

My week 2 entry 

1.  Height: 5’11″, weight: 133 lb

2. Your  fitness challenge(s) for this week:  30 minutes of pilates every other day + 30 minutes of cardio ( rollerblading, running, swimming or treadmill) every other day. Special exercises designed for pregnancy to increase flexibility (daily) + Kegels (twice daily). A total of about an hour of physical activity a day.

3. Your health challenge(s) for this week: My eating habits are close to perfect,  however I could improve on my water intake. My goal will be 8 glasses of water daily + continue eating the way I do now.

4. How well did it go: I couldn’t do much Saturday since I was gone all day (8 am to 3am) on a yacht trip, however I did eat like I usually do and definitely got my 8 glasses of water, since it was all I was drinking.
The rest of the week went well fitness wise. I almost skipped my rollerblading run on Tuesday because it was cold (-er), but the thought of having to disclose  on my blog that I chicken out because of some cold Florida night made me get on the stepper at home while watching an Argentinian soap opera in Spanish and do my mandatory 30 minutes. Pilates days were good because I had recruited my neighbor to come and do them with me. This challenge is Definitely making me approach the work outs more seriously. As far as Kegels and pre-pregnancy exercises, I did them every time I remembered, since they haven’t not been a part of my routine. I think I might have forgotten to do those once or so.  Will do better next week.
Food challenge went without a hitch. I did have 3 little cookies after dinner once instead of 1, but considering how well I eat otherwise, i’m not too worried about it. Plus I’m out of cookies.  lol.
8 glasses of water has been a lot more difficult than I thought. It’s a LOT OF water! I got up to 6 glasses daily , but never to actualy 8. Will keep working on it.

5. Failures and slip-ups: Sweets after dinner: once. Forgot kegels: once, 6 glasses of water instead of 8.

6. Weekly challenge wisdom:  It’s really a lot easier to be motivated if you do it with a buddy. When you don’t feel like it, they’re there to pump you up and when they try to skip the work out, you have the will power to make them do it. Schedule a work out with someone and it’ll be harder to cancel on it. Blog buddies work the same way. Pair up with someone and give each other support and motivation. Check in with each other daily to make sure the goals are fulfilled. 
7. Advice to fellow GET FIT members: Make a reminder! It’s easier to feel motivated if we have something to remind us constantly of the goal and the challenge. I had failures only when I simply forgot about the challenges. Print the 2 challenges on a piece of paper ( make it pretty if you want) and tape it to the place you frequent most: refrigerator, vanity mirror, baby’s room. This constant reminder will propel you to get it over with  
  8. Your self-portrait ( optional but strongly encouraged) : Ok, so I feel very very weird about the self-portrait I am about to post. The purpose of it for me was to have a record of what I looked like going into that challenge. I am hoping to tone a few parts of my body more and post a similar selfie in a few months to see the difference. I have to say I feel a bit self conscious about this image. Not because I think I look bad, but because …well.. I’m in my undies :) I picked out the least sexy underwear set I had, because the point of this is not to look sexy, but to look real. I don’t expect many of you to post a similar portrait, however that IS the point of our first full body shot.

I know this is going to be a tough one for most women, but it’s important to have a full body shot of where you started in order to see ( and show) progress when we do another full body shot in a few months. Again, there’s no motivation unless you see results, right? And the scale doesn’t always show results, because muscle weighs more than fat, therefore your scale won’t show the progress if you’re working out and building muscle. The only way to see progress is to compare the before and after. And since we see ourselves every day, our naked eye can’t pick up on changes that well. A full body photo will be the best way of judging your progress. Now it’s up to you how “honest” you want to be. If you’re not “there” yet, then take one fully clothed full body photo following my tips at last week’s Selfie Magic and post it with your blog post, but also one that will show your true shape and keep it for you records.   

Now, don’t forget to head over to ShutterMama and check out this week’s tips on exercise and nutrition from her, and link up with your self portrait at Selfie Saturdays

It’s also important to visit our participants. They need your support and isn’t it fun to see how other people did on their challenge, read about the lessons they learned and take in their advice to fellow members. Keeping up with other GET FIT participants and encouraging each other is a big part of the GET FIT challenge.   Can’t wait to see how you all did this week!

_______________________________________   

Please don’t forget to VOTE daily!



 

 

 

 

EATING OUT – GET FIT Challenge, Week 1

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in GET FIT, HEALTH

I’m very excited to start WEEK 1 of the GET FIT/GET HEALTHY challenge. For those not familiar with it, please go here to read how it works and to join.

This week’s goal is to determine your fitness and nutritional challenges ( use this list for ideas), publish a post listing them along with your weight/height (optional) and a (self-)portrait of what you wish to look like when you’re done with the challenge. Don’t forget to enter it into the SELFIE SATURDAYS photo linky.  After you’re done reading my tips for this week, go ahead and move over to Shutter Mama’s part of the challenge and read up about what you can do on the fitness part. 

EATING OUT 

What I’d like to talk about this week is eating out versus cooking at home.  

Oneof the best way to lose some weight, cut down on calories and eat healthier is to resolve to not go out to restaurants and eat all your meals exclusively at home. Now I know it might not be realistic for some who aren’t self employed or stay-at-home moms, however you too can make an effort. If one only knew precisely what restaurantsput into each and every meals, noone would ever want to eat out again. I suggest that whenever you have an urge to go eat out, jump online and find a caloriebreakdown of that restaurant’s dishes. I guarantee that this alone will deter you from dining at that restaurant forever. Or at least until the next urge.  

Even seemingly healthy options have tons of fat and calories. And the cheaper the chain is, the worse their food tends to be. Remember, to maintain their weight most women need 1800-2000 calories, however in reality I find that the majority of girls in their 30s have a metabolism that is much slower than that, making 1800-2000 calories a day a sure way to slowly gain weight ( a pound or two over a few months). So don’t over estimate how fast you burn calories and always go for less than you think you can have. 

I also realize sometimes you’re in a situation where you have to eat out, then  you have to do what I do: pick the smallest ( size-wise) meal on the menu that has the most veggies and ask for dressing on the side if it’s a salad. Or order fish with a side dish of vegetables and request no oil to be used. You will be surprised that most chefs are willing to cater to your “silly” requests. Another tricky way of making sure you eat healthy and low in calories at the restaurants is to order anything vegan. Just ask for about vegan options on the menu and you’ll be almost guaranteed a healthier lower calorie dinner by cutting out our diet’s biggest offenders: cheese, sauces and meat.   

If you happen to own a smart phone, jump online and search for a calorie breakdown of that restaurant ( most restaurants have it published). If it’s a small shop, ask the server for a nutritional breakdown of the menu. I think every place is supposed to have one by law ( I might be mistaken, but every place I’ve asked has brought me a big book with a caloric breakdown). Then pick a meal with a reasonable amount of calories, the least fat and the most fiber.  

Another option that some restaurants have is ordering whole grain instead of refined grains, like CPK. California Pizza Kitchen has some of the best low calorie and healthy options if you know how to pick.  

Now, if you are able to avoid restaurants all together, you’ll be doing yourself a huge favor. Cooking meals at home, and not just snacking on whatever is available, is one of the easiest way of controlling your portions and calories.  The key to cooking at home is making sure you follow the USDA guidelines: 6-11 servings of whole grains, 2-4 servings of fruits, 3-5 servings of vegetables, 2-3 servings of proteins, 2-3 servings of non-fat diary.  

 Keep in mind that you need to reduce the amount slightly if you’re trying to lose weight, while still keeping the  balance of the food groups.  

Another trick I discovered on my journey to healthy living was cutting down on any kind of fats and oils while cooking at home. When a  recipe calls for 1/4 cup of olive oil, I cut that in half or more. If i have to use butter, I either skip it completely ( if possible) or add just 1 tbs of it. It does the trick and doesn’t ruin the meal. I’d even suggest that you cook on water or canola spray while you’re trying to lose weight. There are also plenty of low calorie dressings available with only 35 calories per 2 tbs that taste amazing!

Make your own dressing too. Store bought Caesar doesn’t even come close to the Ceasar dressing I make at home using 1/3 of the amount of oil and it has half the amount of calories to boot.  

Hope you find this helpful and will attempt to incorporate some of it into your life.  

So Here’s my Week 1 entry:

My goal for this challenge is to maintain my weight and gain more muscle tone and strength, as well as continue eating healthy. I cannot be losing weight right now, since my BMI is on the border of being underweight and normal ( and that’s after I gained 3 lb on purpose). So I need to stay where I am and prepare my body for the physically demanding aspects of pregnancy and childbirth.    

1.  Height: 5’11”, weight: 133 lb
2. Your  fitness challenge(s) for this week:  30 minutes of intense pilates every other day + 30 minutes of cardio ( rollerblading, running, swimming or treadmill) every other day. Special exercises designed for pregnancy to increase flexibility (daily) + Kegels (twice daily). A total of about an hour of physical activity a day.
3. Your health challenge(s) for this week: My eating habits are close to perfect,  however I could improve on water intake. My goal will be 8 glasses of water daily + continue eating the way I do now.
4. How well did it go: This is week 1, so the question doesn’t apply, but I do have to mention that I’ve been pretty much following the fitness part of this for a while now
5. Failures and slip-ups: I do catch myself forgetting about eating. And while it’s sort of fine right now, I cannot skip meals or go without food when I am pregnant. Therefore I need to work on making sure I eat throughout the day. Also there are days when I eat 2 or 3 cookies after meals, rather than just one.
6. Weekly challenge wisdom: It really feels absolutely amazing to be doing good in both fitness and nutritional part of my life. I feel like a 100% better person, accomplished and guilt free.
7. Advice to fellow GET FIT members: All you need is be determined and be strong! I know some of you think you’ll fail, but with fellow bloggers’ support you might just be strong enough to go on.
8. Your self-portrait ( optional but strongly encouraged)
 

“MY DREAM SELF”
This selfie was taken about 3 years ago or so, right before I left for New York to model. I had spent the previous month working out 2 hours daily ( pilates and step aerobics ) and dieting, so at that point I had very little body fat ( probably dangerously little) and really nice strong muscles.  I realize that right now, when I am getting ready for a baby, I cannot diet, but I can continue improving my muscle tone and flexibility. This photo will serve as a reminder of what I strive to look like once I have a baby and that working out and eating healthy NOW will help me bounce back easier and faster LATER.  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

  

Now that you’re done reading about this part of the challenge, make sure to check out Shutter Mama’s post, as well as enter in the Selfie Saturday linky ( this week’s theme is “my dream self” photo).
And don’t forget to join and write your own post with your goals ( see questionaire above) and a self portrait of what you’d like to look like. Don’t forget to display the GET FIT GET HEALTHY buttons ( code on the sidebar)!

 

NEXT WEEK SELFIE SATURDAY THEME: Full Body Shot – Take a full body shot- it will be your starting point in the GET FIT challenge. In a few months we will take another full body shot to view our progress.
 

 

______________________________________________________________________

Please don’t forget to VOTE daily!

Blog Hopping today with

Saturday Stalk Savings Blog Hop

Surfing Saturdays

 


NEW CHALLENGE: GET FIT, GET HEALTHY AND GET CONFIDENT! SET NUTRITION GOALS!

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in GET FIT

I am super duper excited! I am absolutely STOKED! And I think you, guys, are going to LOVE IT!

The beautiful {shutter}mama and I, The Art of Making a Baby, would love to present to you a NEW CHALLENGE that will change your life! It will teach you to LOVE yourself and your body, to be strong mentally and physically, to be confident and to learn how to shoot self-portraits at the same time :) And all you have to do is join the PARTY!

I have not been in the blogging word for long, but one thing I have noticed almost right away is lack of self-confidence in women here. We all take photos, beautiful inspiring photos, and yet most of us complain that they can barely find one or two good pictures of themselves or their families. Virtually every single blogger, to some extent, struggles with weight and EVERYONE wants to eat healthier, be healthier, be FIT and love themselves. A lot of women here are in their postpartum period and need motivation and help in getting over the  hump that “extra 5 pregnancy pounds/diapers/feedings” is.

It’s time to stop complaining and feeling guilty and take matters into our own hands! Let’s be FIT! Let’s be HEALTHY! Let’s be CONFIDENT!

  

The idea of a GET FIT challenge was pioneered by Sonya from {shutter}mama. When I found out about it, I had to partner up with her. I am way to passionate about health and helping people be a better version of themselves, not to take this on with Sonya.

The goal is to get you to move, to give up bad eating habits and to take more pictures of yourself!

If you want some “girlfriend” help in getting fit, getting healthy and feeling good about your body, then YOU ARE IN THE RIGHT PLACE.

So here is how it’s going to work:

1. Go ahead and join in the linky below. Even if you’re hesitant about it, still try it out. I know we’re all busy and we all barely have time to exercise and eat well. But we’re talking about our health! AND our kids’ health, because our kids learn from us. The pace of the challenge will be determined by you and you only! So take the plunge to your new BETTER self!

2. Every Saturday {shutter}mama and I will be hosting this challenge on both our blogs, with tips on how to exercise, eat better and  help you stay motivated. In addition to that, we’ll be hosting a SELFIE SATURDAY photo challenge on my new photography blog, Selfie Magic, as a part of this effort to help women with their body image. We will go over methods of doing self portraiture and flattering angles while shooting yourself, weekly themes, as well link up with our weekly Self Portrait and a Get Fit posts.

3. Your job is to check in every Saturday with a post about your current weight (if you choose to measure and share it), your progress with food and exercise and a self portrait. They key is to be completely honest about your achivements and failures. We’re all in the same boat here, some better off than other, but we all need support. You are free to modify any part of the challenge to fit your life. Everyone is different and we don’t expect things to work the same for everyone. That is why we’ll be posting a list of fitness and food habits challenges for the first week, that you can pick from or create your own. It’ll be your first step to being a healthier you!

Be sure to check with The Art of Making a Baby and {Shutter}Mama each week since we’ll be doing separate posts every Saturday about both food and exercise,and then head on over to Selfie Magic for a Self Portrait lesson and link up.

Now onto the goals. We realize that everyone is in a different situation and has different strengths and weaknesses and  amounts of time to devote to their own well-being. Therefore you’re encouraged to set your own goals. But to get you started, here are some sample health challenges/goals that you could use.  Afterward you’ve picked a health goal  head over to {Shutter}Mama to view the fitness part of this challenge.

What you could do to improve your eating habits (suggestions):

1.  Eliminate  soft drinks/sodas.
{I am sure I do not need to list the reasons for why soft drinks are bad, but in any case, here we go: empty sugar, extra caffeine dependence, tooth decay, bone weakening ( from an ingredient in sodas) and tons and tons of chemicals.}
2.  Drink 8 glasses of water a day.
{Hydration is one of the most important things that can keep us young and healthy. Helps skin elasticity too, so drop those wrinkle creams and drink up. There’s an iPhone app for that, too.}
3. Eat at least 1 salad a day
{There’s only 8 calories in a cup of romaine lettuce, yet it contains 80% of DV for Vitamin A , 19% Vitamin C, 60% Vitamin K and 16% of Folate.}
4. Cut down fatty and/or processed meat consumption to at most once a week
{How meat is killing you}
5. DROP THAT POTATO CHIPS BAG!
6. Make only whole grain meals instead of refined grains
7.
Use less salt.
8.  Start writing down every calorie you eat {recording everything you eat and counting calories helps you realize the nutritional mistakes you make throughout the day and keeps you from pigging out those cookies at 10 pm}
9.
Eat no more than 1 sweet treat a day
10. Eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables daily
11. Make a home cooked meal using the healthiest ingredients and no oil at least 3 times a week
( mac and cheese or potatoes and steak do not count as a healthy meal)

You can pick just one challenge, or as many as you’d like. If you feel you’re disciplined enough to handle a few challenges, go for it! You can come up with your own challenge that fits your life better and share it with everyone.

Below is the format you can use to track your progress and share with our GET FIT participants in your weekly posts.

1. Your weight and height (optional):
2. Your  fitness challenge(s) for this week:
3. Your food challenge(s) for this week:
4. How well did it go:
5. Failures and slip-ups:
6. Weekly challenge wisdom:
7. Advice to fellow GET FIT members:
8. Your self-portrait
( optional but strongly encouraged)
I realize many of you feel a bit shy and  not-so-confident of how you look, but I cannot stress enough how important it is to break out of that type of thinking. Shooting and posting your self-portraits will not only improve your skills as a photographer but will help fellow members of GET FIT challenge to relate to each other better. Women come in all shapes and sizes, but there’s only one size and shape we care about and that’s FIT and HEALTHY. And it’d help women immensely to see other girls their size working hard to  improve and not being afraid to show off their goodies. This week’s Self Portrait theme is “OUR DREAM SELF“, a past (self-)portrait of yourself  that expresses the form you’d like to get back into.
Sonya and I are very excited about this new project and we hope that you’ll see the good in it and join in and help other  women by letting them know about the GET FIT Challenge.

So for this week, publish a post with your “Fitness and Health Goals, a picture of your “DREAM SELF” and our Challenge buttons below, join up in our linkies {GET FIT Challenge(below) and Selfie Saturday} using the post’s URL, and get ready to GET FIT.
Your initial post and first check-in is due this Saturday, Feb 5th!

Don’t forget to display the GET FIT GET HEALTHY buttons ( code on the sidebar)!


1. All is Bright
3. Darlin' Mommy & Wife
6. Kristin's Notes
7. Kristin's Notes
8. LipstickLoveLetters



How meat is silently killing you!

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Cooking, EVERYTHING ELSE, HEALTH, Pre-CONCEPTION

ecuador 553-2

Before you make assumptions about what this post is regarding, let me tell you  this:
It is not about animal cruelty ( which is bad, but I prefer not to think about it as much as I can, because it upsets me).
Neither it is about me being vegetarian and trying to convert all you “sinners” to follow my way.
It also has nothing to do with religion, or politics.
All I want to talk about today is health. And weight loss. No, wait, weight loss deserves its own topic, but I’m sure I’ll be referring back to this post for why you should stop eating meat, besides the obvious- calories :) 
Meat is Murder, not because we have to hunt animals for food, but it is murder, because of how it Kills us!

I find it funny how when you tell people you’re vegetarian, the eyes start rolling. Like “OMG, one of those”. Actually, I think the same thing happens when people hear that you don’t drink coffee, or don’t consume alcohol. Instantly, it’s “Oh come on, live a little!”. When what you’re actually doing IS trying to make sure you live a LOT. Since when our healthy choices are laughed at and ridiculed.  How come when you say , “Oh no, I don’t smoke!”, no one goes “Weako!” or “Oh stop being so extreme!” Is it because it’s a widespread knowledge that smoking KILLS. But do you think that 50 years ago when the information was starting to come out that smoking is bad for you, when everyone and their mother puffed, people still accepted other people’s healthy choices ? I don’t think so. I think it’s human nature to disregard things until they’re up in their face and printed on the packaging “Smoking KILLS”. So until then, we, people who are CURRENTLY making healthy choices, are going to be given the stink eye and weird looks.
Now I am really not judging anyone. To be fairly honest, I DID THE EXACT SAME THING. A few years ago, whenever my husband and I would hear someone is vegetarian, we’d instantly roll our eyes and think “Weirdo! Now we have to modify what we make at home, while they’re visiting”. Yeah, I was there with you, meat eaters! Being annoyed at other people’s choices to be healthier. Now to be fair, I’m pretty sure some of those people’s choices were for religious reasons or “meat is murder” reason ( which is still annoying… hahaha… just kidding), but regardless of that, it was their choice and who were we to judge it. One thing I have to tell you is this: people who are vegetarians for the “right” reasons, will never make it inconvenient  for you. You don’t have to accommodate us. We will pick and choose what we eat and won’t make a big deal out of it. 

So before you decide to stop reading right there and go back to your meatloaf, do yourself a favor and hold your decision making until you actually know ALL the facts. One cannot say “I will never stop eating meat” unless they’re truly educated about what meat does to them. I did a lot of research on it and have felt all the positive effects of giving up meat products, such as clearer mind, weight loss, healthier body, better eating habits.

So if you don’t really eat meat, read up- you’ll be happy that you don’t and this will motivate you to continue being healthy.
If you do eat meat occasionally, but want a reason to make yourself stop, because you secretly know that it’s not good,  read up. It’ll convince you your feelings are right and give you an extra push to skip on that huge steak you just ordered.
Even if you’re a meat lover and don’t see any reasons whatsoever that you would willingly give up something as delicious as meat, read up anyways.   It never hurts to be educated about things you’re eating, even if you end up deciding to be ignorant about it ( in the nicest way possible). 

But until you have all your facts, you cannot make the right decision for you and your body. And that decision will be yours and will be respected. At least by me. 

So first,  I’d like to start with my own “meat” story to establish a baseline here. 


I was never CRAZY about meat. And when I say crazy, I mean I enjoyed meat (never steaks), I loved meat products: pepperoni, sausage, bacon, ham, chicken- you name it. I remember going a whole year eating nothing but Meat Lover’s Pizza Hut pizzas and banana splits ( thank you my skinny genes { as opposed to skinny jeans} and my 18 year old metabolism for letting me live that one down). Yeah, I wasn’t always a perfect healthy  food angel {Read: FREAK}
If it didn’t have meat I didn’t feel like I was getting food, substance. It was like trying to satisfy a primal hunger with a piece of hard candy.
Time went by and I was bombarded by article upon article about how bad meat was  for you because of the cholesterol. In my perfectionist mind, I wanted to live forever, therefore I needed to ease up on meat. I don’t think it was a conscious decision though. I was still eating like shit, still loving pepperoni ( switched to Super Supreme pizza though), buying microwavable dinners full of breaded chicken and pasta, and sausage. But at least now I knew that for my husband eating that chunk of rare steak is bad bad bad. Eventually meat left our dinner plates for diet reasons, when I needed to go from size 2 to size 0 for modeling, since it has the most calories.
But it wasn’t until I started getting ready to get pregnant did I truly understand how evil meat can be. Having done  lots of research and read a lot of books on pregnancy nutrition and the harm that eating animal products can do to a little fetus, made me even a stronger believer in being a vegetarian ( or, better yet, vegan if you can possibly handle that). And I am here to share my knowledge with you, so that even if you continue eating meat, you will at least do so, fully armed with facts  and not out of ignorance. 

One more thing I’d like to mention: before you go on declaring something like:” I’d never be able to give up meat/cheese/milk/whatever! I love it too much”, give it a try. If the facts I present are compelling enough, don’t disregard them simply out of “weak will” expectations, but “attempt” to do something about it, even if you expect yourself to fail. 

Again, I am not here to convince anyone, but give fact and information, to share my journey and experience, along with medical studies and research that has been done. 

So here we go: 

WHY IS MEAT MURDER?

Let’s start with the minor stuff. 

1. Saturated and Trans Fats

{ “I don’t want any vegetables, thank you. I paid for the cow to eat them for me” Doug Coupland  }

You’ve all heard it. Saturated fat is bad for you.  Everyone is well aware that saturated fat is bad for our cardiovascular system as well as our diet. Eating foods that contain saturated fats raises the level of cholesterol in your blood.  High levels of blood cholesterol increase your risk of heart disease and stroke.  In addition to that, many foods high in saturated fats are also high in cholesterol – which raises your blood cholesterol even higher.  The majority come mainly from animal sources, including meat and dairy products.  Examples are fatty beef, lamb, pork, poultry with skin, beef fat (tallow), lard and cream, butter, cheese and other dairy products made from whole or reduced-fat (2 percent) milk.  These foods also contain dietary cholesterol.
Add to that the fact that most processed foods and baked goods are full of saturated fat due to current manufacturing processes and we have a nation that is inundatedwith saturated fat in their diets. We get up to 3 times more saturated fat that we should. All by itself in reasonable quantities saturated fat isn’t that bad. However, if you review your daily food intake, you will surely find more than the allowable 16 grams of saturated fat. 

Now, trans fat is even more dangerous than saturated fats, and it also occurs naturally in animal products as well as processed foods, with the majority of them found in commercial baked goods (pastries, biscuits, muffins, cakes, pie crusts, doughnuts and cookies) and fried foods (French fries, fried chicken, breaded chicken nuggets and breaded fish), snack foods (popcorn, crackers), and other foods made with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils, traditional vegetable shortening or stick margarine. 

There have been numerous studies linking these type of fats to heart disease, high blood pressure and cholesterol level. A new study in the Archives of Internal Medicine looked at the diet of more than 500,000 Americans over a span of 10 years. It found that (other things being equal), men and women who consumed the most red and processed meat were likely to die sooner, especially from heart disease and cancer, than those who consumed much less. The increased mortality risk from consuming higher levels of red meat ranged from 20 to 40 percent. Another one that followed more than 72,000 women for 18 years found that those who ate a Western-style diet high in red and processed meats, desserts, refined grains, and French fries had an increased risk of heart disease, cancer, and death from other causes. 

Researchers suggest limiting hamburgers to once or twice a week, a small steak to every other day, and a hot dog to every 6 weeks. 

In the study, those participants who consumed larger amounts of fish and white-meat poultry, and those who consumed larger amounts of fruits and vegetables tended to live longer than those who did not. Poultry and fish contain lower amounts of saturated fat than red meat, and fish also contains heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. 

To reduce the “bad” fat intake, try eating less animal products, swap them for fat free diary and Omega 3 rich fish, more vegetables, beans and legumes and stay away from commercially processed foods. The best way to ensure this is to cook at home and eat as many fresh foods and possible. 

I know you’ll say “Hey, that means I can still eat meat as long as I limit it?”
Well, yes and no. There’s a lot more wrong with meat than just some saturated and trans fats. So read up. 

2. Digestion

{“Happiness: a good bank account, a good cook, and a good digestion”  Jean-Jacques Rousseau}  

I hear you saying “Ah! Who cares about digestion?”
YOU should! 

Your large intestine (colon) is the most important under-repped organ in your body. It is the first organ to be developed in the fetus. Because without a proper waste elimination system, we will be literally poisoned. If you eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans and rarely any animal fat, your bowel movement should be perfect: fast easy and daily or more than once a day. For most people, however, who follow the standard American diet, the colon is the most toxic place in the body. 

Red meats on average take from 1 to 3 days to be completely digested and eliminated from the body. They take much longer to digest than other foods because of their high protein and fat content. When meat has been processed or ingested with other incompatible types of foods ( carbohydrates to be exact, which exactly what your average American eats: meat and potatoes), it takes up to 5 times longer to digest, because different types of foods require different digestive juices, which disrupts our whole digestive process, thus making it even longer. As a result, the partially digested meat start to petrify (spoil) right there inside of your body, going through the colon and releasing all the toxicity it holds. After years and years of eating this way, it starts to get very tough on our colon, thus giving us digestive problems in the older age. 

Wouldn’t you think that we are supposed to feel fresh and energized every time we have a meal, since food is a source of energy? You would think so. However, most people experience stomach pains, heartburn, gas, constipation, and extreme fatigue immediately after a large meal ( Thanksgiving anyone?). That occurs because digestions also happens to be the most energy sucking activity our body can do. It takes more energy to digest a meal than to run a marathon. And when we’ve treated our mouth like a garbage disposal putting into it anything that looks, smells or tastes good without any regard to its content, no wonder that we are ALWAYS exhausted after a big meal. Our body is struggling to digest all the fat and a mess of protein and carbs. The more we throw in there, the longer it takes to digest, the more it starts to spoil before we are able to eliminate it.
All this stress on our large intestines is bound to affect us somehow. Which brings me to: 

3. Colon Cancer

{You are full of shit!} 

Colon (large intestine) cancer  is the fourth most common form of cancer in the United States and the third leading cause of cancer-related death in the Western world. What? You didn’t think that all that disregard for our digestion and nutrition would  get us anywhere? I realize many of you have never heard of this type of cancer, or never knew anyone with it, but do you really think anyone would willingly admit they have COLON cancer? Come on! It’s much more prevalent than it seems. it’s one of those things that you don’t know about it until it hits you ( or your family).
many studies have been done that linked dietary and lifestyle habit, specifically red meat consumption, to developing colorectal cancer. 

In a study involved more than 140,000 men and women that was led by the American Cancer Society, researchers collected information about the participants’ eating habits over a ten-year period. When the study was over, the average age of participants was 63. In comparing red meat consumption to colorectal cancer incidence, researchers found that people who ate a lot of red meat were 30-40% more likely to develop cancer of the lower colon and rectum than people who didn’t eat much red meat.  However , lifestyle changes ( such as exercising, healthy diet)  could decrease the risk of colorectal cancer as much as 60-80%. 

4. Cancer ( in general)

{“The more you cook, the worse you look. The more you fry, the faster you’ll die”} 

Aside from a very high risk of colon cancer, according to the World Cancer Research Fund and the American Institute for Cancer Research “red or processed meats are convincing or probable sources of some cancers.” Their report says evidence is convincing for a link between red meat, processed meat, and colorectal cancer, lung, esophageal, stomach, pancreatic, and endometrial cancers. 

National Cancer Institute also points to a large number of studies that link red meat consumption with chronic diseases. 

The question is why? Why does red meat cause cancer? There’re several reasons, besides the ones I already mentioned above in the Colon Cancer and Digestion section. 

When meat is cooked or grilled, carcinogens can form on the surface. They’re called heterocyclic amines (HCAs) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). And processed meats like sausage or pepperoni usually contain nitrosamines, another known carcinogen.  Saturated fat has been linked to cancers of the colon and breast. Heme iron, the type of iron found in meat, may produce compounds that  can damage cells, leading to cancer. And the most importantly, in my opinion, high levels of dioxins ( read below). 

The American Institute for Cancer Research recommends that we limit cooked meat in our diets, while completely avoiding  any processed meat products, such as sausage, deli meats, ham, bacon, hot dogs, and sausages. If you do choose to eat meat, make sure not to overcook it and trim all the fat before cooking. Keep in mind that most frozen meat products, such a burger patties,  contain as much as 50% fat ( the guideline for lean meat is at most 5% fat)

It’s like they say “The more you cook, the worse you look. The more you fry, the faster you’ll die” 

5. Agricultural standards

(” You are what you eat and you are what what your food eats” )

Agriculture is a business like any other. Which means it operates based on a business motto:”Faster, Cheaper, Easier”. Cows are shot up with growth hormones (steroids) to make them grow faster and stronger. They are administered numerous antibiotics to keep them disease free  and living longer. As result, we have beef full of steroids and antibiotic resistant bacteria.
To add insult to an injury,  they’re being fed the most horrible disgusting stuff you could ever imagine: chopped up animal carcasses. Long gone are the days of cows serenely mooing at the pasture. These cows are stuck in modified cages and fed animal by-products ( meat, rather than grass) that their stomachs are not designed to digest. Cows are herbivores by nature, they’re made to eat grass. So when fed animal fat, they retain all the toxins, poison and diseases present in all their feed. And with  humans being at the top of the food chain, those toxic elements eventually end up in our body ( read above about colon cancer and digestion). And this is the kind of meat that ends up being sold in our grocery stores.

“What about grass fed cows, organic meat?” you might ask. So fine, take out the last paragraph about agricultural standards, however everything else still applies and it’s still pretty darn bad. Dioxins ( read below) are present in “organic” cows and do quite a lot of damage.

 6. Dioxins ( my favorite and most recent topic of research)

{If you’re a woman of childbearing age, this is of UTMOST importance to you}

Most people have heard about pesticides and other carcinogens, but very few people know what dioxins are, which is very strange, considering the omnipresence of these highly toxic substances.

Dioxins are considered to be some of the most toxic chemicals known to science and describe a group of elements that are a by-product of many manufacturing processes involving chlorine. In simple words, these are very dangerous carcinogens that are present in our environment and our bodies without the general public really knowing much about them.

Since dioxins are stored in fat of humans and animals and last virtually an eternity, they are everywhere: in our bodies, in animal products such as meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy, in the oceans, on our grass and produce, in our bloodstream.
Our major sources of dioxin are in our diet. Since dioxin is fat-soluble, it bioaccumulates, climbing up the food chain. A North American eating a typical North American diet will receive 93% of their dioxin exposure from meat and dairy products (23% is from milk and dairy alone; the other large sources of exposure are beef, fish, pork, poultry and eggs). In simple words, it’s like this: dioxins “settle” on grass that is then fed to the cows, they accumulate in cows, that are then fed to humans, so we end up being the end carriers of all of the dioxins of the world. A worse scenario: cows being fed with animal by-products that are already full of dioxins-> we get triple  the dose of dioxins, which then stay with us for 7-10 years. The fattier the animal product, the more dioxins  it has. Even cows and animals who are WILD and GRASS FED have high levels of dioxins due to their exposure, especially in the Midland of America.

What about vegetable produce and grains? Didn’t you say dioxin “accumulates” there too? Yes and no! It can only be stored in FAT, so vegetables, fruits and grains don’t “store” it, they simply have it on the surface. Wash the produce well and you’re good to go. In EPA’s dioxin report, they refer to dioxin as hydrophobic (water-fearing) and lipophilic (fat-loving). So in the end dioxins will always end up on ( or more like, IN) top of the food chain, i.e. humans.

But that’s not the scariest thing!  Besides there not being a “safe” level of exposure to dioxins, their “half-life” is about 7 to 10 years, depending on the individual age and  levels of dioxins. That means once in our bodies, it takes about 7 years to get rid of them. What’s even scarier is that general US population already has them at or neat the level with adverse health effects. We all have it, and we all continually ingest it day after day. 

In addition to cancer, exposure to dioxin can also cause severe reproductive and developmental problems, damage the immune system and interfere with hormonal systems. Dioxin exposure has been linked to birth defects, inability to maintain pregnancy, decreased fertility, reduced sperm counts, endometriosis, diabetes, learning disabilities, immune system suppression, lung problems, skin disorders, lowered testosterone levels and much more. 

These effects are often hardly noticed and are attributed to other conditions and genetic problems. There’s no way to find out where weak immune systems, genetic abnormalities, cancers, learning disorders come from. And it’s even harder to pinpoint them to dioxin exposure, because it works under the radar.

However, developing fetuses and infants are most at risk from these effects.  This is because these chemicals “mimic” or “block” estrogen and progesterone, natural hormones which instruct the body on how it should develop. Hormones regulate how an unborn baby develops. If they’re disrupted, horrible things can happen. While our bodies might be big enough and strong enough to not see much damage from the level of dioxins in our systems, a little pea sized embryo will have it at a toxic level causing developmental disorders, genetic abnormalities( and thus miscarriages), diabetes at birth, hormonal disorders that lead to obesity and worse.  All humans get a first dose of their dioxins through the mother’s placenta, and then through breast milk if breastfed, making breast-feeding for non-vegan/vegetarian mothers quite hazardous. So if you’re a non-vegan female who is planning on having a kid in the next 7 years, you can be sure that baby will get a nice dose of dioxins through the placenta and then through the milk before it can even do its own damage by eating meat later in life. In just six months of breast feeding, a baby in the United States will, on average, consume the EPA’s maximum lifetime dose of dioxin. Breast milk contains high levels of fat. This means that dioxin levels in the bodies of newborn babies are already at levels that put them at risk of serious illness. “The amount of chemicals required to disrupt normal development could be as low as one part in a trillion, the equivalent of a single drop of liquid placed in the center car of a 10-kilometer long cargo train. Dioxins are also highly persistent in the environment and extremely resistant to chemical or physical breakdown.”

This was probably the biggest argument that made me reinforce my desire to not eat meat and had me stop eating most cheese and dairy products ( I still drink yogurt and kefir due to its positive effects on bacterial balance and digestion, and I eat certain types of fish that are low in mercury and dioxins, like sardines).

I have to say that  eating fatty fish is very beneficial to our health, benefits that are hard to achieve in a pill form. If you decide to eat fish for health benefits, just keep in mind that ocean fish has significantly lower levels of dioxins  than freshwater fish. So seeing as I am preparing for a pregnancy, I have allowed myself sardines for two reasons: Sardines do not eat other fish, but plankton, and they reside in the oceans, therefore their dioxin levels, as well as mercury levels are negligible compared to the healthy omega 3 fatty acids that they are full of.

If you’re eating the typical North American diet, this is where you are getting your dioxin from:

Dioxin Exposure Chart
Chart from EPA Dioxin Reassessment Summary 4/94 – Vol. 1, p. 37Now, I do know that our government is making”some” efforts to reduce the amount of dioxins in our country, it is obviously not enough. I think the most important thing is public awareness. If you want to eat meat so bad that you’re willing to risk years of your life and your baby’s health, at least it’s your decision. But people CAN NOT make those decisions without having all the facts and being educated on the matter. And articles titled “meat is bad because it raises your blood cholesterol level” obviously aren’t doing enough to make people want to stop eating animal products. Michael Jacobson, executive Director of Center for Science in the Public Interest, suggested that  food labels could include dioxin levels. That way maybe consumers would begin to eat less greasy fatty food if they were told how much dioxin was in each serving.

A final note on the dioxin topic: There’s no way to get rid of dioxins for men. They have to wait until dioxins break down in 7-10 years. Women have two ways to expel dioxins out of their systems: through the placenta and through breast milk, neither one is viable for obvious reasons. I would also imagine that you can somehow get rid of dioxins in your system through weight loss since they’re stored in fat, however the danger of that I’d imagine is the increased amount of dioxins in bloodstream that needs to be cleared out by your liver and kidneys. So if you’re losing weight and were a big meat eater, make sure you do everything to properly support your liver and kidney functions.

So with all that being said ( and I hope I haven’t lose you yet),

 is there ANYTHING GOOD about meat?

Well, red meat is high in iron, something many teenage girls and women in their childbearing years are lacking. The heme iron in red meat is easily absorbed by the body. Red meat also supplies vitamin B12, which helps make DNA and keeps nerve and red blood cells healthy, and zinc, which keeps the immune system working properly.Red meat provides protein, which helps build bones and muscles. 

“Calorie for calorie, beef is one of the most nutrient-rich foods,” says Shalene McNeil, PhD, executive director of nutrition research for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. “One 3-ounce serving of lean beef contributes only 180 calories, but you get 10 essential nutrients.” 

However, I think all that can be found in other varied foods, as well as supplemented, to be sure.

How come our predecessors lived just fine eating meat? The first questions is DID they? Back then the average median age was 40 years old. Now, I wouldn’t link it to meat consumption, however  you cannot compare what our predecessors did or did not do due to completely different circumstances and environment we live in. First of all, our planet wasn’t as polluted as it is now, with dioxins poisoning us. Secondly, our predecessors had  much healthier lifestyles and diets, working in the field all day, and not sitting at the computer. They also didn’t have all the processed foods we’re having now, even if you think you eat relatively healthy. They didn’t have restaurants stuff their food with MSG and fats for better taste and present them with portions 3 to 4 times larger than an average serving. They had healthy trim lean cows that ate clean grass rather than animal by products, chickens that ran around all day, rather than be locked in cages and pumped with hormones and antibiotics, wild fish that was caught in the clean unpolluted waters, unless nowadays when farmed salmon while being a healthy fish in the wild, is so fat, it’s no longer worth eating it for the sake of its barely existent omega 3s. Our predecessors didn’t smoke, didn’t abuse alcohol, didn’t breathe the polluted air we breath.

So we have to deal with the time we live in now. And as far as I am concerned, while there’re certain things I cannot help as much I’d like to, such as what I breathe ( pollution), mercury content in fish, dioxins in animal products, one thing I can control is what I put inside of myself willingly. There’re plenty of reasonable and tasty ways of getting enough protein and B vitamins and iron in my body that I do not need to rely on contaminated products. I chose health, I chose exercise, I chose being educated and knowing my facts and making my own decisions, I choose to be prepared. I choose to  live as long as I can, for my kids and my husband and my parents. It might NOT be your choice, I realize that. Some people choose to be lazy and not exercise regardless of numerous studies showing that how exercise modifies our whole body: keeps us healthy, stress free, disease free, it keeps our brain sharp. ( That’s another post), and it’s their choice. Others choose to eat whatever their heart desires and be obese, regardless of consequences. Those are their choices and they will have to live with them. So this is your choice as well, like any other.
But I choose NOT to ignore my facts and take care of myself.

I really hope that you got something useful out of  MY choices and reasoning behind them. And I hope you will make your own decision to be healthy, even if it’s in you own way.

Some people will say: “So what now I can’t live at all? If we’re worried about everything then it’ll be no fun to live?”

Yes, and it won’t be any fun to die prematurely, will it? Or have a baby with birth defects, or diabetes, or cancer, or asthtma or high blood pressure, caused by your unhealthy lifestyle. One thing I can tell you from my own experience is that you LIKE what you’re USED to. Once you make the choice to change your habits and stick with them, it becomes an easier choice every day. You eat an pear instead of a cookie, you make beans and veggies instead of meatloaf,  you cook a vegetable pizza on a whole wheat bread, instead of ordering Pizza Hut, you drink water instead of Coke, you eat salt water fish instead of steak. It becomes second nature and you enjoy it just as much. You enjoy the clarity of mind that comes with clean eating, the unstoppable energy radiating from you every time you eat, you enjoy your lean body that doesn’t seem to gain any weight regardless of how much you eat, you enjoy your clear skin and most importantly you enjoy passing it down to your children and bringing them up in the same manner, to be healthy and young forever.

I’m not saying meat will do it all. You have to start somewhere, and removing the biggest offender is the first move.
I am a vegetarian and my husband just turned vegan about 4 months ago. He has lost about  30 pounds without cutting calories or dieting by just becoming vegan and has never been clearer minded and more full of energy. I will probably turn vegan as well, once I’m done making babies and breastfeeding, but for now I do allow myself kefir/yogurt and sardines for health benefits.

I’d love to learn about your experience with food and meat and weight loss and health. How do you feel about meat?

{I am currently writing a post about healthy eating and weight loss in general, not centered on meat,
so look forward to many tips on how to make your diet more healthy and clean}

Please feel free to share a link to this post with your friends and family or reblog it on your sites. I think it’s important to spread the information out as much as possible because our government doesn’t seem to think it’s important enough and people tend not to listen.

 

______________________________________________________________________

Please don’t forget to VOTE daily!


_________________________________________________________________________

Linking up with

Life…as I see itPhotobucket

Tuscan White Bean Salad – The best salad you will ever make!

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Cooking, PHOTO

So during one of our rare trip out for dinner ( we try not to eat out and cook more because that way we can control the ingredients that we put into our meals and cut out anything un-healthy), we ended up at CPK ( California Pizza Kitchen). I went for the usual Tuscan White Bean Soup and Hubby decided to try this new item off the small craving menu that was basically a bean salad ( and yes that’s all we ate- if anyone ever bothered to look up the nutritional content of any restaurant dishes, they’d know that that’s more than enough calories for a light lunch).
I literally fell in love with it at the first bite. It was so light, yet substantial. Too much oil of course, but you can expect that from a restaurant and we didn’t flag the waiter in time to tell him we needed dressing on the side. So determined to make it at home, I noted all the ingredients that went into it and the next day promptly whipped up what will become my all time favorite salad.

What I love about it is that it has a perfect balance of protein rich beans, fresh and vitamins K and A abundant cucumbers and tomatoes, healthy fats from an avocado, and folate rich beets.
So do yourself a favor- don’t be lazy and make this salad ONCE. If you don’t like it- no worries, but if you do, this will be one of the most nutritional and healthy meals you will ever eat/make.
Note: since I don’t have a recipe for it, all the measurements are eyeballed and to taste. I suggest you do the same.

Ingredients:

1 cup White beans( rich in protein, Folate (64% DV in 1 cup),Thiamin, Iron and pretty much every other mineral) {I use navy beans}
2 Avocados( anti inflammatory, rich in smart fats, vitamins E, C and Folate, Potasium and Copper) {make sure it’s very ripe}
 1 cup Cherry Tomatoes( anti-inflammatory, rich in vitamins A,C and K)
1/2 Red Onion( incredibly anti-inflammatory, rich in vitamin C and Manganese)
1 Cucumber (rich in vitamin K)
1 Beet( rich in Folate and Manganese) { if you’re not a fan of beets like me, don’t use it. I personally like the beet-less version better}
3 leaves of Basil ( rich in
Croutons ( not rich in anything but damn good  in this salad)
Dressing: Olive oil and Red Wine Vinegar for dressing ( or red wine vinaigrette)

1. First prep the beans. If you bought raw beans from Whole foods like I did, soak them overnight or for at least two hours and then set them to cook for about an hour or until firm to touch but soft to taste. Don’t let them cook too long, because they’ll fall apart and that’s never good in a salad ( I let mine cook too long this time by accident)

 

Once the beans are ready drain them and set them in the salad bowl. Cut cherry tomatoes in half , cube the beets and add them to the bowl.
A note about the beets: I find this salad much more flavorful without the beets. So unless you’re a FAN of beets, skip this vegetable completely or use sparingly.

Cube your cucumber, add it to the bowl

 

Cut the avocado, basil and throw it in with the croutons ( the latter can be added later after you’ve already served if you plan on refrigerating the leftovers)

Add chopped up red onion ( I put way too much here. You need just a bit)

In the meantime, prepare the dressing: a little bit of red wine vinegar, mixed with slightly less olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper ( I’m sorry I do not have measurements, but season and mix to taste)

Season the salad with salt and pepper ( season generously- this salad like salt) and add the dressing. Voila! Healthy and Filling!

Let me know how it works out for you if you decide to make it.

 

____________________________________________________________

Please don’t forget to VOTE daily!

Zuccini and potato fries

Written by Elena @The Art of Making a Baby. Posted in Cooking

20101121-010939.jpg

I have been a fan of healthy food for what seems like forever. But eating healthy usually means having to cook which wasn’t always my favorite thing to do. After some time, however, I learned how to adjust certain recipes to the way I eat: less oil, more veggies, fake chicken broth or vegetable broth. This recipe was given to me by my friend Leeka that I later modified and built upon. The funny thing is that I used to really dislike sweet potatoes. I always thought that sweet has no place in food but only the desert. I hated yams, and cranberry sauce on top of meat ( yeah NOT a fan of Thanksgiving food). So when Leeka suggested we cook sweet potato fries, I thought “Ew!”
I was pleasantly surprised, to be honest. Later I started using garlic and spices to spice the sweetness up, but it’s up to you how to season it.