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Vegan Tips and Lifestyle Guide
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Foods and Supplements for Healing

02/28/2012   

 Hi there! In case you were wondering, I was unable to blog last weekend because I was finishing up my first law school brief ever.  Suffice it to say, I was running on very little sleep that weekend—as I’m sure were all of my peers—and now I’m feeling the sniffles coming on to pay me back for it. So that means it is time to get proactive and beat it before it gets worse. Thank you Washington for giving me a full three days to recover! Here is what I’m using.

 

Elderberry

Elderberry is a very powerful fruit that has several antioxidants and helps boost the immune system. Although I’ve never been able to find it in its natural form, pharmacies produce a form of it called Sambucol, which you can find at any CVS or Duane Reade. I’ll take a tablet the second I feel a cold coming on. Be careful not to overdo it though. Since it doesn’t come in its natural form, there is often added sugar, which in large quantities can counteract the benefits of the extract.

 

Ginger

I remember when I was teaching elementary school and feeling sick all the time, my friend and self-studied health expert Amelle would take out a small piece of ginger and tell me to place it under my tongue for half an hour. Sounds crazy, but I’d feel better immediately! This is because ginger has tons of anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that have been utilized by several civilizations for years.  The gingerol and shogaol components help relieve stomach pain, while its volatile oils have been proven to reduce the production of mucus. Although I don’t think I have the guts to walk around with ginger under my tongue all day (you elnd up tarking like dis), I drink tons of ginger tea and put ginger in my green juice whenever I’m feeling under the weather.

Garlic

Garlic is composed largely of a compound called allicin, which acts as an anti-fungal and antibacterial.  Unlike prescription antibiotics, your body will not develop a natural resistance to this compound, which means you can eat as much of it as often as you like. In order to make sure you are gaining all of the benefits, make sure to mince it, as the allicin becomes active in response to the deterioration of tissue. I personally make myself a big batch of garlic soup seasoned with cayenne pepper, saffron threads, and cumin. If you’re an egg-eater (I personally try my best to stay away for ethical reasons, but I understand that they have several nutritional benefits) you can throw a beat egg and gluten-free bread in there for extra taste.

Olive Leaf

Olive leaf has several antioxidants—including Oleuropein, Hydroxytyrosol & Tyrosol. The most powerful of these is oleuropein, which acts as a natural antibiotic. Unlike prescription antibiotics, oleuropein only inhibits the production of bad bacteria, leaving good, digestive bacteria intact. When I’m feeling sick, I take 4 tablets of Nature’s Way Olive Leaf in the morning and 4 at night.

 

NAC

From bad skin to indigestion to sickness, this stuff treats everything! NAC is short for N-Acetyl Cysteine, and is a supplement form of Cysteine, a naturally occurring amino acid. It helps to produce glutathione, which not only detoxifies the liver, but also helps rebuild muscle tissue. In addition, it also lessens the production of mucus, keeping me from coughing up a storm during my 9AM lecture!  I like to take two tablets of 500mg NAC in the morning and two at night.

Stay Away From Refined Sugar

Studies have shown that eating too much refined sugar feeds yeast in the colon, which results in an overproduction of yeast, which messes up the digestive system. As a response, your body needs to exert an extra amount of energy to digest food and to fight against yeast that can leak into other parts of your body. This gives less energy for your body to fight against illness. So give your body a break and let it devote its energies to fighting the illness!

Avoid Casein and Gluten

Gluten and Casein are components that are found in wheat and dairy products, respectively. They both have glue-like properties; casein, in fact, is used to bind paint. Studies suggest that casein and gluten have similar binding effects on our bodies by thickening mucus, making it harder for our bodies to dispel it and leaving us feeling congested. Better to stick with almond milk or gluten-free bread if you really have a craving

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I know these tips will help you feel better in no time. Happy President’s Day!

Give Into Your Cravings

02/28/2012   

 

A lot of people ask me how I eat the way I do. “How do you give up chocolate? Potato chips? Ice cream?” The answer is simple. I don’t. I love food too much to give any of it up! At the same time, however, I have learned too much about refined sugars and artificial flavoring to put any of it in my system. Instead, I find whole-food alternatives that don’t add tons of excess sugar, hydrogenated oils, or things that I can’t pronounce. While I still need to exercise moderation when eating these replacements, I never feel guilty while eating them because they’re made of whole, digestible, ingredients that have at least some benefits. Here are some of my favorite craving busters.

 

REAL Chocolate

Chocolate, believe it or not, is actually good for you. It has tons of antioxidants that promote heart health and can improve your mood. These benefits however, are minimal compared to the effects of the excess dairy, sugar, and wheat flour found in processed chocolates such as Kit-Kats. Instead, I opt for 80% dark chocolate that is free of dairy and has minimal sugar. Or better yet, I buy raw organic cacao powder; this is the same thing as cocoa powder but raw so that the chocolate retains all of its nutrients. You can blend it with liquid stevia and coconut oil to make a delicious chocolate syrup to put on fruit or put it in hot almond milk with stevia to make hot chocolate. So much more satisfying than mass-produced chocolate…

Non-Dairy Ice Cream

There are tons of way to eat ice cream without reaching for the pint of Ben & Jerry’s. First, try a frozen banana. You can eat it alone or you can roll it in dark cacao nibs to make a Hagen-Daz like treat. Or you can put it in a food processor with almond milk to make homemade frozen yogurt. If the frozen banana isn’t doing it for you though, and you really need to eat something out of a pint, try So Delicious Coconut Ice Cream. It is sweetened with Agave, which is not the best alternative, but it’s better than what they put in most ice creams!

French Fries

Oooohhh this is my weakness. I love French fries. What I don’t love is the disgusting feeling my tummy gets after eating them from a diner. Instead, I make sweet potato fries at home. Sweet potatoes are much better for you than regular potatoes; they’re high in Vitamins A and B and have tons of serotonin, which helps boost your mood. Just sprinkle some olive oil, and salt on sliced sweet potatoes and bake (not fry) for half hour.  Eat your heart out McDonald’s ;) .

Pasta

There are so many alternatives to the gluten, simple-carb type of pastas. For Italian Pasta dishes, I recommend brown rice pasta or quinoa pasta. Jovial brown rice pasta is definitely one of my favorites. For Asian noodle dishes, I recommend soba noodles, which are made from a gluten-free grain called buckwheat. Yum!

On-the-Go Swaps

Sometimes you don’t have time to make what you crave, but you want it badly! Don’t go for the junk! If you want a candy bar, grab a Larabar—made of dates, nuts and dried fruit. If you want potato chips, grab the plain flavored pop chips (not the other flavors, which have tons of artificial ingredients). If you want coffee, check out some of the swaps I used when giving it up. My rule of thumb is if you have to eat something that you’re not making yourself, make sure you can pronounce everything on the label.

There is a replacement out there for everything you could ever crave–you just have to look for it. If I find something that I really have a particularized craving for, I look online for a better version. The blog Chocolate Covered Katie has a vegan dessert option for every sweet you can think of, with several gluten-free and raw options. Celebrity nutritionist Kimberly Snyder and Food Babe have some awesome swap recipes as well. With all the great, whole food options, do you really want to buy that yucky bag of chips?