Today’s post is dedicated to food.
The type of food that makes you feel vibrant, healthy, uplifted, strong, empowered, energetic, and buzzing with life.
Let’s peel back the layers and talk basics.
This is actually much less complicated than you might think.
I’m going to break this down into two categories.
Food that heals and protects the body, while at the same time making you feel really good, balanced, and totally in control of how, what and why you eat.
Food that creates disease in the body, while at the same time making you feel like shit, and not in control of how, what and why you eat.
- The first brings freedom; the second brings prescription drugs.
- The first leads to a healthy body weight; the second leads to harmful extra pounds.
- The first provides a healthy heart; the second provides heart disease.
- The first is responsible for normal cholesterol; the second is responsible for high cholesterol.
- The first ensures healthy blood pressure; the second ensures high blood pressure.
- The first protects and sometimes even reverses type 2 diabetes; the second causes type 2 diabetes.
- The first seals the deal with a healthy relationship with food; the second causes food addiction and self-defeating eating habits.
- The first pumps up the immune system and makes it strong; the second weakens the immune system and opens you up to coughs, colds, and flus throughout the whole year.
- The first supplies you with lots of energy throughout the whole day; the second supplies you with fatigue and feeling like you can barely get through the day without passing out.
- The first helps protect you against certain types of cancers; the second is a contributing factor in certain types of cancers.
- The first contributes to a radiant and glowing complexion; the second contributes to an unhealthy looking complexion.
- The first guarantees better quality of life; the second guarantees doctors, fatigue, headaches, aches and pains, and the inability to fully enjoy life.
The foods that make up the first category are whole plant foods in their natural state, or close to it.
The foods that make up the second category are processed foods (including sugar and oil) and animal based foods (including dairy and eggs).
When we get our calories from the first category of food, the body is flooded with nutrients and fiber, and the healing begins.
The main thing that separates the first category of foods from the second category is the nutrient density. Nutrient density is the amount of nutrients per calorie that a food contains.
There’s a direct correlation between the nutrient density of your diet and how healthy you are. The more nutrient dense your diet, the healthier you will be.
And the most nutrient dense foods are the foods from the first category; whole plant foods (vegetables, fruit, grains, beans, legumes, and nuts and seeds). These are the most nutrient dense foods on the planet because along with the rest of their nutrients and fiber, these foods contain a category of micronutrient called phytochemicals.
And phytochemicals are only found in plant foods.
So upping your veggie, fruit, grain, bean, legume, and nut and seed intake is crucial in getting the benefits that these foods provide, but it can’t stop there if you want the full spectrum of benefits.
Let’s frame this next bit and work it out through an analogy.
Imagine that you wake up one morning and you’re super stoked to go to the track. You bust out your new sneaks and throw on some killer gold hot pants. On the way to the track you pick up a case of Twinkies and proceed to your workout spot.
As you run the track, you go to town on the case of Twinkies. You eat one after the next and you keep running until the Twinkies are gone. As soon as you’ve eaten all of them, you pack up and go home.
The running part in this situation is awesome, but if you keep eating Twinkies while you strut your gold ass, you will never see the results of the running. You dig?
The only way to reap all of the benefits from nutrient dense, whole plant foods is if you cut way down or stop eating animal based foods and processed foods altogether (even if they are vegan). The reason for this is simple.
- The nutrients in whole plants foods are super awesome and powerful, but they can’t undo the damage that processed foods and animal based foods do to your gorgeous bod, especially if there’s a constant stream of them entering your system.
- Just like you can’t run the track everyday while eating Twinkies and get the full benefit from running your ass off.
When at least 90% of your calories come from whole plant foods, this is when the magic happens and a huge metamorphosis will start to take place, physically, mentally and even emotionally.
- You will drop pounds fast.
- You will be able to think more clearly.
- You will get your energy back.
- You will feel that spark and oomph for life again.
- You will be able to start easing off from your medications.
- You will impress your doctor with your numbers.
- You will free yourself from food addiction, heal your aches and pains, and feel younger than you have since you can remember.
Here’s the deal.
The one thing that people can generally agree on is that processed food isn’t doing anyone any favors and is best to drop from the diet. This can be sort of like running a marathon, easier said than done. But most of us are at least aware that those donuts aren’t in our best interest.
The meat, dairy and egg party is another slippery story with lots of advocates rooting them on. One large group rooting for animal based foods is the Paleo camp.
Just to be clear, the Paleo camp is an extension of the Atkins camp. Both diets focus on low carb, high fat, and lots of animal based foods.
You see, the meat and dairy industries would lose a shit ton of money if society started eating more plant based.
So what these industries do is spend a little less than a shit ton of money funding bullshit, biased studies that have predetermined outcomes in favor of meat, dairy and eggs.
This information is then splattered across the media and people who love eating animal based foods take it as the word of god because their eating style is now justified, and better yet, it’s “healthy”.
- Oh look, the Egg Board just announced that high cholesterol levels are totally safe – let’s go celebrate with bacon and eggs.
- Oh sweet, the National Beef Association just confirmed that another study found that saturated fat is super healthy and we should all be eating more of it. Who’s up for a BBQ at my place?
I’m being shitty here – but it’s not far off from the truth.
The fact is, eating a diet that relies heavily on animal protein and avoids healthy unprocessed carbohydrates like whole grains and beans is not healthy.
Eating this way raises cholesterol; it makes the body age prematurely (both inside and out); it raises cancer promoting hormones, especially insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1); it taxes the liver and it increases the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
Plant based protein is the cleaner protein and the body will respond to it in a dramatically better, more efficient, more healthy way, especially when consumed with a variety of fresh veggies, fruits, whole grains, beans, legumes, and nuts and seeds.
This doesn’t have to be complicated – for vibrant health for decades to come, you don’t need to follow a diet. You don’t need to focus on losing weight. You don’t need to keep track of calories, carbs, and protein. You only need to eat for your health and the rest will fall into place.
And the very best, most effective way to eat for your health is to eat a large amount and variety of fresh veggies and fruit each day, add in some whole grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds, drink plenty of water, and stay away from processed and animal based foods. End of story.
The choice is entirely yours. Just know that you do have a choice.
That said, tweaking the diet can be scary shit. Food is comforting and cozy and familiar, and when you go from eating what you’ve always known and enjoyed to eating food that’s out of your comfort zone, two things happen:
1. You don’t know what the fuck to eat.
2. You go through a period of adjustment that can be physically, emotionally and mentally hard to deal with.
The good news is that this is only temporary and once you find your stride and groove, you’ll get into it and find more joy in eating than you ever thought possible.
I have a question for you.
If you keep eating exactly how you’re eating now, how will you feel in 10 years?
I pondered this very question a while back in regards to my drinking habits, and I didn’t like the answer. I knew something had to change.
The fact is, we all know when it’s time to make changes in our life, but we often put it off until next week, next month, next year, because while thinking about the outcome of those changes is easy and inspiring, but actually doing it can feel worse than a root canal or falling down on a cactus, so we keep putting it off or we give up after a couple of failed attempts.
I’m here to tell you that this is normal and there’s not a thing wrong with being uneasy or scared about changing how, what and why you eat.
This is big stuff and although the benefits are endless, it takes a lot of courage and determination to make the decision to start eating for your health and to actually follow through with it.
So let’s put on some damn hot pants, kiss the scale farewell, and see how it feels to eat for health and happiness instead of for a number on a scale or how many calories or carbs are consumed in a day.
On to the recipe at hand.
Here’s the thing. I tried making really healthy yummy holiday muffins for you, but they only turned out healthy, the yummy part – not so much. So I scrapped them and made this instead.
Looking back, I’m glad that my muffins turned out gross, because this recipe is off the hook yummy. This is the perfect dish for any holiday get together. Seriously, mark this recipe as a holiday party must.
Orange Maple Butternut Squash and Tofu Salad
Orange Maple Butternut Squash and Tofu Salad
- 1/2 butternut squash about 3 cups, peeled and cut into small cubes
- 1/2 box of firm tofu cut into cubes
- 1/2 of a red onion about 1 cup, sliced
- 1 cup fresh parsley chopped
- A few shakes of red pepper flakes
- A few turns of black pepper
- Juice of two oranges about 1 cup
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 tablespoon 100% pure maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1/2 cup sesame seeds
- 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
- ½ cup of quinoa 100g
- 4 cups of kale 115g, chopped
- Toasted pecans
Preheat oven to 350° F (175°C).
Add the squash, tofu, red onion, parsley, red pepper flakes and black pepper to a large mixing bowl.
Make the marinade by adding all of the marinade ingredients to the blender and blending until totally smooth, about a minute (orange juice, water, maple syrup, mustard, garlic, sesame seeds and salt).
Reserve 1/2 cup of the marinade and set it aside. Pour the remaining marinade over the squash / tofu mixture and gently stir until everything is coated.
Place this mixture on a parchment covered baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes.
While that goodness is baking, cook the quinoa by placing 1/2 cup of quinoa and 1 cup of water in a small pot, bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to just a simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes until the water is evaporated and the quinoa is soft.
Place the kale in a large mixing bowl, add the 1/2 cup reserved marinade, and massage with your hands until the kale is limp and the marinade is fully incorporated.
Add the warm quinoa and the baked butternut squash mixture to the kale and gently stir until everything is mixed together.
Serve warm or cold and top with toasted pecans when serving.
I hope that you have a happy week. May you liberate yourself from your scale and start eating for your health. May there also be hot pants, lots and lots of gold hot pants.
- World Health Organization (WHO) report links red meats and processed meats to cancer in humans
- A Multicountry ecological study of cancer incidence rates in 2008 with respect to various risk-modifying factors
- The China Study:The most comprehensive nutritional study ever conducted on the relationship between diet and the risk of developing disease
- Red meat consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes
- Low carbohydrate-high protein diet and mortality in a cohort of Swedish women.
- Cholesterol and heart disease