New Learnings from Fed Up

DSC_2000

A couple of nights ago, Travis and I sat down to watch the documentary Fed Up, exploring the childhood obesity problem in the United States. Not a dietician, doctor, or chef, I love to continue to learn—especially about food, health, and nutrition—and this film did provide me with some new insight.

First of all, I learned that juice is not what it’s cut out to be. A couple of years ago, after watching a documentary entitled Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, Travis and I were inspired to have more fruit and vegetable juice in our lives. In that documentary, an overweight gentlemen got his health in check with a juice-only diet. He bought a high-quality juicer and transformed his whole produce in seconds. He did lose weight and became a healthier person all around.

I remember thinking that I could never sustain myself on liquids only, but that I would try to make freshly squeezed juices a bigger part of my diet. Travis and I bought a juicer and started drinking juice (with an approximately 70%/30% ratio of vegetables to fruits) every morning with or for breakfast. I found that this practice helped me to feel more energized throughout the day and kept me regular, too. Until we obtained a high quality blender capable of pulverizing whole fruits and vegetables to a smooth consistency, we kept juicing. Our juicer has since been collecting dust for the past couple of years.

Despite our short period of success with juicing, I have always known that eating the whole fruit or vegetable is preferable, thus leading to the switch to smoothies. Why juice an apple when you can just eat one, skin and all, whole or in a smoothie? The skin and pulp of fruits and vegetables are where the fiber is contained and of course, fiber is nutritious and essential to a healthy diet.

DSC_2001

Even though I knew that whole foods were better, I didn’t really understand what the body did to process juice until I watched Fed Up. The example given was comparing eating an apple to drinking the equivalent in calories in soda. Because the apple contains fiber, it is processed much more slowly, preventing its sugars from turning into fat. Soda, containing no fiber, runs quickly through the digestive system and well, you know the rest.

After providing this example, the expert explained that our bodies process juice similarly to soda. Without the fiber from skin, flesh, and pulp, the sugar in juice is really no different than the sugar in soda, as far as how the body processes it. Now, if the juice contains skin, flesh, or pulp, you’re in a little better shape, but no matter what, it isn’t the same as consuming the whole food.

Nowadays, I sometimes use juice in smoothies, salad dressings, etc. While it goes through the body similarly to soda, it does still contain nutrients that soda never will. I figure if I were a regular, everyday juice drinker, then I’d have a habit to worry about.

This lesson, illustrated with fruit vs. soda, also made me realize why counting calories is a flawed system. I have never counted calories and don’t plan to start, but I have many friends that do/did. It is clear that 160 calories in apples and 160 calories in soda are not the same calories at all. It isn’t enough to decide to eat only 1,500 calories a day without conscious thought about where those calories are coming from. If you eat 1,500 calories of just soda, rather than 1,500 calories of fruits and vegetables, the body won’t use them in the same way. I have heard too many times things like, “I have 500 calories left for today, so I can eat that piece of cheesecake!” We all know where that cheesecake will end up…

The second major learning I took from Fed Up was that the legal requirements for school lunches in America are really just missing the beat. Did you know, that in the U.S., French fries are considered a vegetable and so is pizza, because of the tomato paste? I’m sorry, what?! If the fries were baked with minimal oil (check out my version!), that would be one thing. If the pizza were totally vegan (I’ve got a formula for that, too!), topped with a homemade sauce, and loaded with vegetables, that would be different, too. Ugh.

DSC_1727DSC_1869At the end of the day, it feels hard to make a difference in the childhood obesity epidemic. I can play my part by teaching Nolan how to eat healthy foods. In the grocery store today, he spotted his favorite food and went right over and picked some up to put in the cart. Was it French fries? Pizza? Nope, blueberries. An older gentlemen who was doing his shopping and had observed my son’s excitement for fresh fruit was impressed and said, “You don’t see too many kids these days excited about healthy food. Bless you for what you’re doing with your son.” Made my day. 🙂

Advertisements

Welcome to The Fresh Formula!

DSC_1414

Happy New Year and welcome to The Fresh Formula! Since I committed to a plant-based diet around this time three years ago, I thought it only fitting that I launch my blog on New Year’s Day. Many of us find ourselves making resolutions to improve our lives, and those often include health and wellness goals. I never resolve to follow a weight-loss diet, regularly utilize an exclusive exercise program, or lose a certain number of pounds because I find that such goals often lead to temporary results where you are constantly playing catch-up with yourself.

Instead, consider making a resolution this year that prompts you to change your lifestyle, and the rest – healthy eating, exercise, even weight loss – will fall into place. I remember years ago when the queen of talk, Oprah Winfrey, hosted the author of French Women Don’t Get Fat, Mireille Guiliano. Guiliano made a point that the French don’t have to spend hours and hours sweating at the gym because they incorporate exercise into daily life: taking the stairs instead of the elevator, walking to the store instead of driving, etc. I view plant-based eating similarly; it is a way of living…not a diet, a system for counting calories, or a strict exercise regime.

In the beginning, plant-based living may be a challenge for you, but I can tell you from experience that it piques curiosity, sparks creativity, and of course, becomes easier and easier. Over the years, I have found myself genuinely interested in researching and experimenting with food, flavor, and nutrition, and have been proud of the results.

So, what can you expect from this blog? Under About, you can read more about me, plant-based living, and my fresh formulas, and see new formulas and recipes popping up at least once a week under Recipes. Under The Formulas, I have amassed a small collection of formulas that are already tried and true in my kitchen. Each week, I will feature an existing or new formula and an accompanying sample recipe so that you can see what that particular formula looks like in action.

This week, I’ve decided to start with the formula that inspired this blog: Super Food Muffins (located under Breakfast Formulas). Today’s post will feature this formula in a blueberry lemon variety, but as you will learn, the formula is just a baseline for whatever ingredients YOU have on hand.  Here we go…

 

FORMULA BASE:  SUPER FOOD MUFFINS

Makes 12 regular sized muffins

  • 1 ½ cups flour –> I’m using whole wheat.
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa –> I’m using white (despite being rather blasé in appearance, it is higher in nutritional content than rainbow).
  • ¼ cup uncooked rolled oats –> I’m using an extra ¼ cup of quinoa instead, this particular go-around.
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ¼ cup sweetener –> I’m using agave syrup.
  • 1/8 cup oil –> I’m using coconut, melted.
  • 1 cup raw (fresh or frozen) fruit or veggie –> I’m using blueberries.
  • 1-1 ¼ cups plant milk –> I’m using almond.
  • 1 tbsp ground flax seeds
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • ½-1 tsp extract –> I’m using ½ tsp of pure almond.
  • ½-1 tsp spices –> I’m using 1 tsp cinnamon.
  • ½ tsp salt (optional) à I’m opting out of salt, but adding it will definitely make your flavors pop even more. I highly recommend pink Himalayan sea salt.
  • SPECIAL ADDITION: The zest and juice of one lemon.

Looking for a bit more texture?  Consider adding chopped raw nuts or seeds.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Separately combine all of the dry ingredients and all of the wet ingredients. Pour the wet into the dry and mix with a wooden spoon. The batter will be thick and lumpy, but you can always add more plant milk if it seems too dry or dough-like.

DSC_1402

Spoon the batter into a lined cupcake pan and bake for 25-27 minutes.

DSC_1405

Use the toothpick test! Store in the fridge for up to two weeks.