Recently I was talking with a friend about the new heart healthy diet, and she had some questions that some of you readers may have as well. So I'm going to take a little time and answer. If there are questions you have that I don't answer here, please leave a comment and ask. There are no silly questions and I love getting feedback!
So this heart healthy thing. Why are you doing it?
My husband is a physician in training (a resident) and a well known doctor, Dr Esselstyn, at the hospital has done tons and tons of research on how what we eat effects our health. I think we all know this to a certain extent. Eating fast food everyday will make you fat and clog your arteries and you'll most likely die early from a heart attack. Eating your fruits and veggies is good for you. We've all heard it.
This doctor says that you can stop and reverse heart disease (along with others) by eating a plant based, oil free diet. (So many things, in my mind, wrong with NO oil!!)
We are not fans of that diet. But it did get us thinking about what we eat. And we ate pretty healthy to begin with, but we wanted to eat healthier. For us, this meant eating less dairy products, less meat - and we do no red meat in the house, and less eggs. So it looks a lot like a vegan diet (except that we love honey!), but it's not.
There are so many foods out there, like eggs, that are good for you, just not in large amounts (ie: 2-3 eggs per day), so we eat them in moderation. Same with dairy. If I have a recipe that calls for some milk, then I do it. If it calls for a little sprinkle of cheese on top, I do it. Everything in moderation.
And let me say again - we do this in the house only. We don't ever expect others to feed us this way, and if we go to a restaurant we eat what we want there, too.
Is it more expensive with all the crazy ingredients you have to buy?
I thought this would be the case, but NO! I am actually spending about the same amount or less per month on food because I'm not buying as much meat or cheese. I do buy more produce, but I have stayed inside my budget, at my usual grocery store. I do buy a handful of things at Whole Paycheck (raw PB, quiona, and some dry goods out of the bulk bins), but not enough to actually tip me over our budget.
Is it hard?
It was at first. Just getting my head around having to cook differently and still have balanced meals was tricky for me. I did a lot of research those first few weeks. I figured out that I didn't have to buy everything at once, and I also learned that some of those things that may sound expensive because you've never heard of them or bought them before, are actually not. IE: Nutritional yeast. Wheat germ. Flax seeds.
I also was able to figure out that the really expensive produce items, like Arugula, can be substituted for much less expensive items like Spinach. If a recipe calls for chopped nuts as garnish, I just don't do it.
What does your husband think of it? Is it filling for him?
For me, since my husband was the driving force behind this whole idea, I haven't had any issues in convincing him. It was his job to convince me. And convinced I stand. And yes, it is filling for him. It took a couple weeks for me to get the hang of pairing legumes with starches to produce a complete protein, but now that I have it, there are no more nights of finishing dinner still wanting a little more.
We always have a big salad with dinner. It's great. And quinoa is a great grain, a complete protein in and of itself. I've just had to work at making sure there is enough to eat (sides help with this), but when everything you have on the table is nutritious, then you can't go wrong with eating more of anything.
You love ice cream. How does that work?
Ahh yes. Ice cream. One of my vices. This was actually an easier transition than I thought. I now love sorbets. There are so many different flavors out there that it's easy. They are usually fruit based, so it's a good thing I like fruity things I guess. But when I need a "real" ice cream fix, I try to just have a little or I try to get a really good frozen yogurt (just so I'm not carrying all those extra empty calories around with me).
What do you do for a chocolate fix?
Thankfully, chocolate is great! You just get a solid bar and you're good to go. Or, some companies have chocolate flavored sorbets. Our favorite is from Trader Joes.
Toddlers. Do they eat it?
Yes they do. There are certain foods they don't exactly like, but most of the time we're fine. The Little Dude pretty much eats anything, and the Littlest Dude is a bit more picky - for the life of me, he won't eat sweet potatoes unless they're disguised in something. BUT - because they are growing and we feel they need the calcium so easily gotten from dairy, they eat "normal" breakfast and lunches and have a glass of milk every day. I may, one day, switch us all to Almond milk, but I'm still easing into this myself.
What is a typical breakfast and lunch look like?
For the boys: Always with some fruit: Cereal and milk. Toast with PB. Pancakes. Oatmeal. Lunch is a PBJ, PBH, Grilled cheese, Quesadilla with black beans, Spaghetti and sauce/cheese, sometimes mac n cheese, and typically always with a veggie and a fruit, but not always. See "snacks".
For me: A breakfast cookie and a cup of tea. Or some toast with PB. Sometimes a green monster. I'm not a big breakfast eater but thanks to my wonderful husband, I'm trying to change that. Lunch I do left overs, some PB on a plain rice cake, a sandwich, or a hummus with spinach and grapes wrap. My current favorite. I try to always have a small salad and some sort of fruit with whatever I'm eating.
For the dear husband: Steel cut oats. I make a big batch with tons of cinnamon and really ripe bananas and keep it in the fridge. He just scoops some out each morning and heats it in the microwave. For lunch, he has PB or hummus sandwiches, and sometimes a packed-full quinoa salad like this one. Also, leftovers if there's enough.
What do you snack on?
Carrots. Fruit. Crackers. Air popped popcorn. We're not big snackers.
Do you actually feel better?
Oh yes. We just feel, cleaner. I don't know how to describe it other than that. We have more energy, we feel stronger, we feel better. It's like one of those commercials where you don't believe them, but then you try it and it's like "Wow! They weren't joking!"
What are some of your current favorite recipes?
Black Beans and Sweet Potato Salad
Black Bean Burgers
Zucchini Quinoa Casserole
Raise the Roof Lasagna
Lentil Loaf and Lentil Tacos
What do you miss most?
A big juicy burger, and come winter, I'll miss my homemade mac n cheese. But hey - that's why we have one night a week where we eat whatever we want, right?
I hope this was helpful. I'm getting lots of help from other bloggers out there who are way ahead of me on this eating (and blogging about it) adventure. Some of my favs:
Peas and Thank you
Oh She Glows
The Edible Perspective
Poor Girl Eats Well