There have been a lot of questions on Facebook in the last couple of days concerning vitamins.  One blogger said that her legs were feeling tingly and kind of numb.  Why was this happening to her?
Here's the answer:  Plant eaters don't get enough vitamin B12.  According to Dr Micheal Greger vitamin B12 does not come from plants or animals.  Vitamin B12 comes from microbes that blanket the earth, but because of our sanitation nowadays it isn't in the water anymore, but neither is cholera.  That's good!

     This video explains so much about vitamin B12 for those of us that eat a whole foods plant based diet.  We have the best levels (which is very good), but only if we supplement our vitamin B12. Here's the URL:  What if we forget to take our vitamins though?  Most of us forget, and I have been forgetful on taking them as well.
Here is what we need to remember: Deficiency of vitamin B12 can cause all kinds of trouble.  I recommend reading How Not To Die by Dr. Michael Greger.  In his book on page 407 he states "the results of of B12 deficiency can be devastating, with cases reported of paralysis, psychosis, blindness, and even death."  Yikes! It takes your body a long time to develop these issues, but I make sure that I take it every week.

     When I went to the doctor for my physical and let him know that I was starting a vegan diet he suggested that I take 2500 mg. once a week of B12, and believe me with what I know now I don't forget! Plus it's inexpensive to take!

     I also take vitamin D3.  The sunshine vitamin!  Have you noticed that people aren't really doing a lot of activities outside anymore?  If you spend time outside then you are probably ok however, up here in the Spokane Washington area we don't get a lot of sun so my doctor recommended that I take it.

     In the book How Not To Die Dr. Greger talks about the other vitamins we need to consider taking such as iodine, omega 3s.  I highly suggest reading this book or doing your own research into the matter.

     I have an app on my phone that helps me to see what vitamins I'm missing out on.  It's called Cronometer.  You keep a diary on the foods you eat and it shows you what vitamins you are getting daily.  On Iphone it costs 5.00.  Please take the time to review these apps.  Just so you know, I get no monetary commission from these apps.  I suggest them simply because they work well for me.

Setting Up Your House

     What happens when you decide to take the plunge and go full bore.  I remember when we decided to do this, I was super excited and then after a couple of meals I thought to myself, this food is so bland and I don't think I can continue this for the rest of my life!  By that time I had thrown out everything from my house.  All the "good" stuff was gone!  What do I do now?  What am I going to eat?  We threw out all of our processed foodies, sugar, breads, cheese etc.  We decided that if we were going to do this we had to rid our house of all temptations.  It has to be a commitment.

     We went to the store and avoided all the inside isles except the spices.  Now spices for this lifestyle are very important!  As we have cooked for the last 4 months we have experimented with a great many spices.  I think if you like gravy like my husband does you are going to need poultry seasoning.  We made gravies a lot at first, but have since gotten used to not eating potatoes and rice without anything on them.  The poultry seasoning though at the time was a God send.

     Spices that we use frequently are garlic and onion powder.  Try to stay away from spices containing salt.  Trust me your taste buds will change and you won't even crave it anymore.  Then when you do have something salty it's overpowering!  We also use liquid smoke, it is heaven in a bottle.  Be careful though a little goes a long way.  A lot of recipes call for smoked paprika, but for the life of me I can't find it so I substitute the liquid smoke. I also use cumin and chili powder a lot as well especially in tacos, and chili  In looking at the spices at Costco, we found one called organic no salt seasoning.  It is a blend of 21 organic spices.  It is so good on quiona and rice, tastes like Thanksgiving.  Sage is another awesome spice to have.

     I didn't really buy a lot of spices at first.  I just found recipes and got the spices piece meal.  Experimenting with spices can be fun and then not so fun.  Find ones that you love and toss the rest.  Finding those flavors that your family will eat is important.

     Condiments help in cooking as well.  I spend a little more and buy pure maple syrup.  It's so much better and contains no high fructose corn syrup.  I also use black strap molasses.  It's different than the regular molasses.  It's a more bitter flavor, but is good in baked beans etc.  It is nutrient rich containing iron and calcium.  I tried it in oatmeal, and it was over powering, yuck didn't like it at all.  Apple cider vinegar is another condiment that I use.  I love vinegar and it's good to eat fermented foods.  I use ACV in my 3-2-1 salad dressing, and sometimes I use rice vinegar plain on my salads.  

     What about broth.  I was buying vegetable broth for a time, but it's so much cheaper and better to make your own.  Remember less processed the better and homemade always tastes better.  Whenever I chop vegetables, I throw the leftovers i.e. ends of carrots, broccoli stems, etc. in a freezer bag and then when I've got a full bag, I make my own broth.

     Appliances have come slowly, and there are still some things that I would like to get, but most are not cheap and really you can do with what you have.  Some are more convenient to have.  I have a blendtec but I have had that for a time.  I recently got an Instant Pot (pressure cooker) that I absolutely love and use it all the time. Save your pennies.  Amazon usually has the best prices and since I work so much it's so convenient to have it delivered right to my door.  Amazon Prime helps a lot since most items ship for free no matter how much you spend.  Amazon Prime is 99.00 per year.  TOTALLY WORTH IT!   I started with a hand held sprilizer and then got a regular size when I could.  If you can't purchase one right this second, use your peeler.  It works!

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     Another thing that I have tried to do is get different kinds of grains.  Oats, steel cut oats which are are my favorite, but steel cut can't be used for baking.  Almond flour and wheat flour and spelt, barley, coconut flour, millet. There are so many things to experiment with.  I try to go to a store that sells in bulk.  It's so much cheaper.

     Beans are a big part of this lifestyle.  Dried beans are much cheaper, but if you don't plan a head then you won't have them soaked in time for meals.  That is where my instant pot comes in handy. My all time favorite legumes are black beans and they contain the most protein.  Because I eat them frequently I buy them canned.  I'm trying to expand my horizons though.

     There is so much to learn and try, and I'm still in the learning process.  I grew up on the standard American diet and this is all new to me.  As I continue to learn, things have taken on so many wonderful flavors.  I no longer crave the fast food, or want the junk.  A cherry tomato has the most amazing flavor now.  This lifestyle continues to amaze me.  I'm losing unwanted pounds and enjoying the ride. I will never return to old habits.  Even my taste for meat are gone.  I never thought in a million years that this would happen to me.  Just shows me that you never say never.  

Junk Food

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     Oh my goodness, this last couple of weeks has been insane!  I have picked up more hours at work.  I originally asked for 30 hours a week, and I'm working 41!  Kind of stressful.  I work for an in home care company, and so it's pretty demanding.

     I have found that when I'm stressed, or don't have time to cook I want to grab something fast.  Something that probably shouldn't pass through my lips.  You know the old saying "Once on the lips, forever on your hips!"  Who likes fast food?  We all do!  It tastes soooo good!  Did you know that McDonald's french fries contain 19 ingredients?  Wait what?  Most of the ingredients are genetically modified.  This is just crazy!    
Potatoes, Vegetable Oil (Canola Oil, Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil, Natural Beef Flavor [Wheat and Milk Derivatives]*, Citric Acid [Preservative]), Dextrose, Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate (Maintain Color), Salt. Prepared in Vegetable Oil: Canola Oil, Corn Oil, Soybean Oil, Hydrogenated Soybean Oil with TBHQ and Citric Acid added to preserve freshness. Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent.
*Natural beef flavor contains hydrolyzed wheat and hydrolyzed milk as starting ingredients

     Fast food is loaded with oil.  There is a pleasure center in our brains that make us want to eat more.  Plus it tastes soooo good!  lol
     Junk food has a plethora of ingredients.  If those ingredients are hard to pronounce you should not eat them.  What about hydrogenated oils?  The chemical structure of oil has been altered to make it have a longer shelf life, so that rancidity doesn't happen.  These are also commonly know as Trans Fats.  You know that an oil is hydrogenated if it is solid at room temperature.. ie.. margarine, shortening, packaged snacks, baked goods that are pre-made, ready to use dough, coffee creamers, fried foods and peanut butter (unless you get the natural peanut butter that contains no hydrogenated oils)  These oils have been banned in Europe.  Interesting that they are still legal here in the US.  There is big money in food companies which I'm sure is one of the reasons that there are so many processed foods in this country.  Food corporations are always looking for new and better ways to improve their products to make them taste better which makes us want to eat more and more.

 So what do you snack on?  I get really snacky at night.  Now that summer is almost here, we always have fresh fruit on hand.  Cantaloupe, watermelon, mangos.  Anything in season, and something that is sweet.  Pretty soon, cherries will be on.  Popcorn with nutritional yeast.  I also love Lara bars.  They are processed, but there is only five ingredients listed in them.
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Whole Grains

     I have always loved whole grains, and recently tried some steel cut oats for breakfast.  They take a long time to cook on the stove, but I have this wonderful tool called an Instant Pot and they were cooked in no time.  Steel Cut oats are tastier than regular long oats, and seem to keep me fuller longer.  To me they taste nutty.

     They are almost identical in nutrients to rolled oats with the exception of being lower in calories: 160 cal. for regular oats and 140 cal. for steel cut oats. Additionally steel cut oats are lower in sugar.  Regular oats have one gram of sugar and steel cut have no sugar.  They are also less processed which in my book is awesome.  Instead of being rolled out flat, the oat "groat" in steel cut oats are cut leaving it in it's natural form.

     Did I mention they are chewier.  Here is a picture of my breakfast from yesterday morning.  I cooked the oats with water and non dairy milk. These oats turned out really creamy, rib sticking and filling.  Since I never like to eat oats plain, I added blackberries, flax and a banana to it after it's cooked.  Sometimes I'll add one walnut just to shake things up.

     OK so what about other whole grains?  I remember my mother always telling me to finish my grains as they were good for me, but exactly how are they good for me (and you)?  According to the Mayo Clinic, grains of every kind should be an essential part of our diet.  They are a complex carbohydrate which means they are referred to as starch and are made of sugar molecules strung together like a necklace or branched like a coil.  They are often rich in fiber, thus satisfying and health promoting.  They are commonly found in whole plant foods and therefore are also often high in vitamins and minerals.  All grains are low in fat which make them an excellent choice to add to our diets.  They can also play a big roll in fighting heart disease, cancers, diabetes, and other health problems.

     So...exactly how many grain processes are there?  First off: Whole grains are unrefined.  They haven't had their germ and bran removed in processing.  Better to eat whole grains that are unprocessed because of the fiber and nutrients such as selenium, potassium and magnesium.  Refined Grains are milled which means the germ and bran have been removed from the grain.  It is also stripped of nutrients and fiber  Examples are white flour, white rice, and many processed foods, Many desserts have refined grains.  Enriched Grains are grains that were stripped of their nutrients and then added back in later.
What then should we eat?  It is a bit obvious to me that we should eat whole grains without any refining or enriching. These include: barley, brown rice, buckwheat, millet, oatmeal, popcorn, whole wheat bread, pasta or crackers, wild rice.  Sometimes it's hard to tell what is whole wheat especially with breads.  When reading labels, make sure that whole grain or wheat is among the first ingredients that are listed.

     I don't have any experience with gluten intolerance, or Celiac's disease.  It seems like more and more people are having issues with it.  I know for myself if I eat too many grains that I feel somewhat bloated, but on a whole, I try to stay with organic whole grains, and stay away from all processed foods. Let me repeat that again:  I do my almighty best to stay away from ALL processed foods.  I also know that grains are a lot more processed today than they were 20 years ago.  We have more pesticides to worry about and more GMOs that find their way into our food products.

     If anyone would like to add anything feel free in the comments below.  Thanks for reading! 
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