Staying on Track During the Holidays

I am pleased to report that while I didn’t see a decrease in numbers on the scale this week, I’ve noticed my body starting to tone up and change shape. After my previous failed jogging attempt, I decided to hold off on trying again until this week. So, in the past week, I focused on continuing to do some light toning with hand weights and ab exercises.

The real victory for me in the last seven days was getting back into my skinny jeans! I hadn’t attempted to wear them until this past Saturday and was excited to see that they slipped on easily and fit just as I remembered them. At six weeks post-partum, I’d say that’s not bad.

The holidays—and my December birthday—won’t stand in the way of my progress to reclaim my pre-baby body. Today, I’m offering some tips that have worked for me and will hopefully get me all the way through the New Year:

Eat more raw plants. If you tuned in for my one-week raw food challenge, you know that it resulted in an easy three-pound loss and left me feeling more energetic than I have in months. I strategically took on the challenge at a time when my weight loss plateaued, hoping to kick-start my metabolism and continue to achieve my goals. It worked, and I even succeeded in sticking with it despite Thanksgiving falling in the same week. I am not suggesting that you give up eating cooked foods – there are so many that are highly nutritious, besides being darn tasty! What works for me is to plan ahead. Since cooked foods are higher in calories and generally less nutritious than raw, if I know I’ve got a decadent cooked meal coming up, I try to eat raw only (or pretty close) the day or two leading up to that meal.

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I don’t splurge like I used to, but I still do to some degree. You won’t see me eating any turkey, but I’ll probably have a good two helpings or more of vegetarian (but probably not vegan) green bean casserole. I won’t “pay” for this indulgence later because I was proactive about making room for the splurge. My thirty-first birthday was last week and let me tell you, I didn’t hold back on more than one piece of cake and a whole bunch of cocktails. 🙂 I was sliding into my skinny jeans just two days later…

Offer to host. The holidays are a time for more frequent family gatherings and parties with friends. Chances are, you’ll attend at least a couple of events from November to January and there will probably be an abundance of meat and dairy served at the majority of them. If you want to control how you are partying this season, offer to host.

I’ve written several posts—starting with Nolan’s second birthday party—about hosting a non-vegan crowd with a totally vegan menu with great success. When guests come to my house, they know that they will be eating an entirely vegan meal that also extremely healthy and satisfying. No one complains and there is always at least one dish served that guests are truly raving about. When I host potluck-style, I never have to ask my family and friends not to bring meat; they just don’t. The respect that in my home, I don’t eat it, and there’s never a discussion. They typically bring dishes that are vegetarian and I never bat an eye – not everyone eats as strictly as I do and it won’t hurt me to go off the beaten path now and again.

Make your own satisfying treats. What many Americans—myself included—love about the holidays is the opportunity to eat special foods that they don’t prepare year-round. Every year since childhood, I look forward to my mom’s traditional Christmas cookies, which are definitely not vegan…and I will definitely be eating a few. 🙂 Surely you’ve indulged in a treat or two already and we aren’t even halfway through the holiday season.

So, don’t be left out. Make treats. Be a part of the holidays. Just do it on your own terms. I’ve proven time and time again with my dessert formulas that you don’t need butter and eggs to make a rich dessert.

Coming up on the blog before Christmas: thumbprint cookies made with leftover cranberry sauce and my classic chip cookies with peppermint. I’m starting a new cookie tradition—Nolan needs something to leave for “Santa,” after all—and not missing out on any of the holiday fun.

Many Americans gain significant weight over the holidays – you can still enjoy yourself without being one of them. 🙂

Nolan Turns Two: What We Ate

DSC_1715I can’t believe my son is already two years old! Everyone told me that the time would fly and they were right. Before I knew it, it was time to plan Nolan’s second birthday party, including a mostly vegan menu that was sure to please all guests.

And, it did! We kept the affair small and invited family members that are both vegetarians and omnivores. Everyone ate mostly vegan and loved it, exclaiming over the food and asking me for recipes. In the past, I’ve served foods at parties I’ve thrown that are crowd pleasers, but that don’t necessarily reflect our plant-based lifestyle. Animal products like meat and cheese were once on the menu for such an event and I would always be conflicted with the leftovers; I don’t believe in wasting food, but I don’t, any longer, choose to eat many animal products. This time, I knew that I wanted to be left with the food that we eat every single day.

DSC_1665To answer the question that is surely on many minds, particularly those of parents, yes, Nolan follows a plant-based lifestyle, too. While I’m no expert on this way of eating and living, I’ve done quite a bit of research and have been living plant-based for over three years. As a result, I know that animal products are not at all necessary to the proper growth and development of a young child. While Nolan eats the occasional piece of cheese or cup of yogurt when at the homes of friends and family, in our house, he eats just like Travis and I do.

So, when it came time to plan his birthday party menu, I knew I wanted to serve some of his favorites. I apologize for the less-than-stellar quality of these pictures, but with a house full of hungry guests, a toddler being a toddler, and dogs running all over the place, capturing these images ended up becoming sort of an afterthought. 🙂 Here’s what we served:

  • Two types of veggie burgers: a black bean quinoa burger with red peppers and a falafel burger with sunflower seeds; we served an avocado “sour cream” (silken tofu, lime juice, avocado) and sliced veggies for topping
  • Baked veggie fries: a combination of yams and sweet potatoes seasoned with paprika and garlic powder
  • Fruit salad: bananas, blueberries, grapes, strawberries, blackberries
  • Kale salad: baby kale mixture dressed in a lemon vinaigrette and topped with raw chopped pecans and sunflower seeds
  • Homemade graham crackers and dip (a thicker version of my chocolate peanut butter banana smoothie)
  • California rolls: Other than the cake, which we custom ordered from a local bakery that we love, these were the only non-vegan items on the menu. Nolan isn’t yet at the point where he’ll munch on very many raw veggies when we go out for sushi, so we always get him a California roll. 🙂

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To answer another question that may be on your mind, yes, Nolan does eat (and love) all of these foods, often in one day. The kid DOMINATES plant-based yumminess like it’s going out of style and I’d be willing to bet that if we did a blood draw, the results would show that he’s in better nutritional shape than most adults. He has no food allergies, has energy for days, is happy and well-tempered, and has been sleeping through the night for at least twelve hours since two months old. I’d say that he’s doing just fine without animal products.  🙂

As you read in my bio, I am a mostly vegan, as sometimes it just isn’t feasible to be 100% plant-based. Case in point, Nolan’s cake. I have made vegan and gluten-free cakes and icings before, to much success. This time around, however, I needed someone to do the job for me. With Travis working full-time and completing an MBA, a steady stream of visitors since January (everyone wants to be in Arizona when it’s winter!), my job, and running our entire house, I honestly just didn’t have the time, this time. The cake was delicious and it was worth the very occasional splurge.

DSC_1660 I’m hoping that getting a glimpse into our plant-based lifestyle—even when throwing a party—helps you to embrace it yourself, even if it’s occasional or gradual. I can’t stress enough the health and happiness that living this way has brought to our lives and we have an adorable two-year-old to show for it. Happy Birthday, Nolan!