Soy: Health Marvel or Menace?

As a vegan, I depend quite strongly on the famed soybean. Originally touted as the angel of all foods, a smart choice for any health-savvy person anywhere, this little bean has recently gotten a lot of flack.

Before making the switch from vegetarianism to veganism, I did some research on soy, with the understanding that I’d be depending a lot more on the bean. In short, this is what I found:

  1. Soy cures cancer!
  2. Soy causes cancer!
  3. Soy may cure or cause cancer!

Disgruntled, I did some more research:

  1. Natural hormones in soy good for men and women alike!
  2. Natural hormones in soy cause men’s penises to shrink and women to develop breast cancer!
  3. Natural hormones in soy may or may not cause men to grow breasts and women to have health issues!

At this point I was getting rather frustrated, but I kept pulling forward:

  1. Soybeans will help you live longer like Asian people do!
  2. Soybeans will kill you quickly and Asians don’t even eat soybeans!
  3. Soybeans may help you live past 100 or kill you at 40, and research in inconclusive as to whether Asians really eat that much soy!

Finally, I just threw up my hands, probably made some comment about how everything seems to kill everyone anyways, and decided to make the overnight switch to veganism, using plenty of soy, nonetheless.

I don’t know exactly what is going on with soy, but I can say this: being in Italy has helped me realize just how much I depend upon soy. Doing a speedy overview of my average diet in America, I realized I take in as many as three to four servings A DAY of soy, not even counting foods where soy shows up as a random, sneaky ingredient (as it often does, because it is frequently used as a “filler” in many products). A DAY! I don’t know what the average vegan consumes, but it does seem to me that this number is excessive. It’s funny, because I didn’t even realize just how central soy has become to my meals! Breakfast is cereal (often with soy) with SOYmilk, lunch is perhaps a salad with SOY protein, dinner includes some sort of SOY, and snacks are often rife with SOY yogurt, SOY cheeses, and SOY protein bars. Ack! Not only is my diet unhealthily centered around soy, but I’ve realized that half of the time (if not more), I’m constantly using substitutes for meat, yogurt, cheese, etc.

Because of my dairy-and-meat-centric upbringing, I have consistently sought to continue to include these things in my diet, simply substituting soy for animal protein when needed. Let’s be honest here: a lot of the time I’m just using faux meats, cheeses, and such instead of protein from other sources like ancient grains, nuts, seeds, or legumes.

Why? For one thing, it’s a helluva lot easier. Time to cook a veggie burger? 2 minutes. Time to MAKE a veggie burger at home? More like an hour. Furthermore, I think it’s also a subconscious acceptance thing. With everyone in my family eating meat and dairy and eggs, it’s somewhat comforting to have all these clever mock meats and such to make me feel less isolated and more “part of the group” without having to sacrifice my beliefs.

Does this mean I’m giving up soy for good? Of course not. Arguments against soy are based primarily on the idea that excessive consumption will do you harm.

What I want to do upon my return is revisit my diet, make a few switches here and there (rice to soymilk, etc.) and try to lean more towards a macrobiotic vegan diet (whole beans, nuts, seeds instead of just processed soy). For now I’ll have to wait, but I think it will be quite an adventure!

Below are some articles regarding soy. If you don’t want to read all 3, I totally understand, but I ask you to at least skim the last one by John Robbins (my new hero).

http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200604/how-healthy-is-soy

http://www.veganhealth.org/articles/soymessina#should

http://www.foodrevolution.org/what_about_soy.htm

In the meantime, I’d like to hear from you. What have you heard about soy? How much of it do you eat?

Till then!

<3’s

Gabriella

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July 26, 2010. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Viva Crystal!

I just finish reading Crystal Renn’s wonderful autobiography, Hungry, and feel the pressing urge to tell everyone else in the world to go out and buy it NOW!!!


Not only is she unearthly gorgeous and ridiculously sexy, but Miss Renn is spirited, bold, and very, very brave. The book is written in a down-to-earth, approachable but intelligent manner – reading the supermodel’s work is like going out to coffee with a bright, engaging friend.

Her story goes something like this: discovered at age 14, she was told to lose 10 inches off her hips in order to model. Naturally, she developed a crushing eating disorder by the time she was 16, weighing about 95 pounds at 5’9”. She continued to model without success, until one fateful day, when everything changed…

Renn’s story is a modern fairy tale with a much healthier central message. Only when she respected herself and her body did she become a successful (now plus-size) model. She’s been all over the world, on the covers of magazines, and on television sets nationwide (Oprah!). She is a beacon of hope, an example to women across the world.

Whether anorexia is a foreign concept to you or you have battled an eating disorder for most of your life, I beg you to read this book. Women everywhere (and, hey, why not men, too?) need to hear her story so we can begin to change the world, starting with how we treat ourselves.

<3’s

Gabriella

July 20, 2010. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized. 2 comments.

Learning to Cope in Tuscany

Ciao, bellissimi!

Greetings from Italy or, more specifically, Florence! Located in the famed region of Tuscany, this city is one of the most beautiful and culturally rich places in the world. And, more importantly, it has the distinction of being the place where a good portion of my family is based.

I know I’ve been MIA for the past few weeks, and I’m sorry for it! But, however, while here I plan to make up for it by taking advantage of this wonderful opportunity in the world of foodie blogging: a trip to Italy, the cooking capitol of the world!

That said, Italy is food heaven for omnivores. As a vegetarian (as I have been for nearly 5 years) it was sometimes hard enough  to find meatless fare, or get locals – particularly my family – to understand my food choices. But as a vegan it has been, as I anticipated, much more difficult. When I refused meat, my grandmother would simply give me fresh mozzarella or a slab or two of provolone, or make an easy frittata (an Italian omelette) full of different cheeses or veggies. Now, she’s more or less dumbfounded about what to feed me.

To fully understand, it is necessary to give some background first on Italian eating habits:

Breakfast is light, and usually centered around coffee/expresso with or without a bit of steamed milk, and some sort of small pastry or light, biscuity type sweet (often dipped in aforementioned milk or coffee). More recently, American-style breakfast cereals have surfaced, and yogurt and fresh fruit are also sometimes eaten, along with some sort of bread/croissant spread generously with marmalade or the ubiquitous Nutella.

Lunch (or “pranzo”) is eaten later in the day here in italy than in America, where the standard lunch hour is noon. Around 1 or 2 in the afternoon, everyone just shuts down to focus on what is traditionally the biggest meal of the day. The idea is that in the middle of the day, when you need the most energy to keep you going, you have the most food. Pranzo is often an hour-plus-long affair, and is broken up into at least two courses. Traditionally, the grain (in the form of a risotto or, most frequently, pasta) is served first, followed by some form of protein, which is virtually always of animal origin. After the meal, fresh fruit or some form of dessert is served.

Dinner is lighter, and is eaten (when compared to American dinners) quite late, anywhere from 7 to 11 at night. It contains the traditional grain and protein, though it is often in smaller quantities and with lighter ingredients. Often, a little cheese, bread, and some form of vegetable (often drizzeled with olive oil) is eaten before a little bit of fruit, and sometimes even expresso, which Italians will drink at any time of day, it seems. (One coffeeholic cousin even claims black expresso at night helps her get to sleep!)

At least in my extended family, snacks (which I depend upon and treat with the same importance as meals, especially after undergoing recovery) seem to essentially be a rarity. I have never seen a member of my extended family eat between meals, with the exception of maybe one or two instances. This is a bit odd for me, as I dislike going 5+ hours without eating, if only because of my metabolism paranoia. I am much happier with a small, frequent meal approach, rather than a stuff-everything-you-can-down-your-throat-now-because-you-won’t-see-food-for-another-seven-hours kind of approach. But I digress.

The real issue here, besides obnoxiously late dinners and the afore-mentioned eating philosophy, is the issue of veganism. I have gone from being simply a liability to being a flat-out lunatic in their eyes. Not only that, but as you can see from the meal summaries above, Italian cuisine isn’t exactly vegan friendly. Even when you get rid of meat, which is tough, dairy products and eggs pop up everywhere and are an expected part of every meal. It’s been really tough to get in enough protein, because my grandmother doesn’t really get the concept of using legumes or beans or nuts in her cooking to add vegetable protein, because she’s so used to depending on animal products for protein. Luckily, I brought a new can of vegan protein powder and a HUGE bag of almonds from the States, and have been snacking on those to at least get my protein in between meals. That, and I’ve been fortunate enough to find Italian soymilk! Check it out:

Between pistachios, almonds, or other miscellaneous nuts at breakfast and mid-morning, 2 ½ servings soymilk a day, protein powder, and whatever legumes or whole grains I can find I think I’ve at least gotten a fair amount in.

But protein isn’t really the biggest issue here – my family is. Their response has been one of horror and even disgust. They literally think I am insane. What hurts the most is that they assume I have no idea at all what I’m doing.  The countless visits to dieticians, the numerous books and research done on soy and calcium and protein is not at all recognized. In fact, I’ve stopped even trying to defend myself, because whenever I mention something, even if it’s true, they just scoff and dismiss my comments. They tell me that I’m ruining my health, that I will pay for my foolishness in my later years, which seems unfair to me, as I have actually done this for my health, not to destroy it. They tell me that I’m going to die.

Fellow vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores alike – help me get through this. Is it possible that all I’ve read was a fallacy? I respect them and know they are just concerned about me, but I don’t appreciate their stubborn, single-minded approach. Do I not have a right to choose what goes into my own body without having to endure the criticism of others at every meal?

We’ll see where I am in 40 years, it’s true. But for now, I’d like to leave you all with some statistics from John Robbins’ incredible Food Revolution that I found particularly astounding:

Countries with the highest consumption of dairy products: Finland, Sweden, United States, England

Countries with the highest rates of osteoporosis: Finland, Sweden, United States, England

Daily calcium intake for African Americans: more than 1,000 mg

Daily calcium intake for black South Africans: 196 mg

Hip fracture rate for African Americans compared to black South Africans: 9 times greater

Calcium intake in rural China: one-half that of people in the United States

Bone fracture rate in rural China: one-fifth that of people in the United States

<3’s

Gabriella

July 17, 2010. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Pomp and Circumstance

Good morning!

I write this now as an official high school graduate... Ack! It’s a beautiful and terrifying thing, and it still hasn’t sunken in quite yet. Even after the hugs and kisses and the victory cigars and the shiny new diplomas, I think the magnitude of this event is still lost on me. We’ll give it a few more weeks, I suppose 😉

And just because I couldn’t NOT show some pictures from the big day…

Decorated cap, strewn with various baubles and ribbons, plus an un-pictured half veil!

Me and la famiglia

Me enjoying victory cigars with some kid 😉

Important Note: As a health nut (and a health blogger, for goshhsakes!), I obviously DO NOT smoke on a regular basis… But I wasn’t about to pass up the hysterical photo opps on graduation day that one cigar offered!

And while I’ve essentially been living off of raw produce and protein shakes (nothing for me at parties but raw produce and no time for anything but protein shakes when I stop at home between events!), I have a couple of foodie shots and even a few reviews that need posting:

Review #1: “Chreese”

This powder sold at health food stores (I found it at the trusty old Whole Foods, where else?) is a vegan alternative to cheese to be used for All-American classics like grilled cheese or mac’n’cheese, sans animal products. It’s quite salty, but once diluted with water (or vegan “milk” of choice) and spread out over (whole wheat, of course!) pasta, etc., I thought it was quite good! Though I’m, as I’ve said, not a fan of making vegan cuisine that simply mimics animal products like burgers or wings without any additional creativity or innovation, there are some times you’ve got a craving for childhood comfort foods that contained those things and you’ve just got to recreate it!

Review #2: Naked Coconut Water

Now, maybe this is just the ED speaking, but I’ve never much liked drinking my calories. They add up really fast without giving you the same sense of satiety that solids can. But, over time, I’ve begun to realize that liquid calories have their place, too. Take the example of coconut water. Why waste my time on water with CALORIES? was my first reaction… But then I did some reading. Naked’s boxed variety will cost you 60 calories (again, I shouldn’t be counting, but, come on!), but you’ll get tons of potassium, some calcium, and plenty of natural electrolytes that your body needs to replenish itself. Plus, as a coconut FREAK, I absolutely loved the taste! It’s very light and faintly aromatic, but I love raw coconut and really liked this boxed version as well.

It was delicious paired with some avocado toast:

Review #3: Earth Balance Agave-Sweetened Peanut Butter

I AM OBSESSED WITH THIS STUFF! Holy Mole, I could just eat it out of the jar all day and be happy! I’m a nut butter addict, and this crunchy, lightly sweet variety is perfection in a jar. I spread it over organic brown rice cakes the other day and was in heaven 😉

An exclusive peek INSIDE the nutty goodness 😉

Well, that’s all for now! And, yes, I still have not posted sushi pics… Will do veeeerry soon!

<3’s

Gabriella

June 14, 2010. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized. 4 comments.

Art projects and agave nectar

Bonjour, tout le monde!

Now that school is essentially over (only 4 more days left!!!), I have much, much more time for blogging… Hooray! This memorial day weekend has been fun and relaxing, between sunny bike rides and shopping trips, plus just the beginning of a plethora of graduation parties to come!

Inspired by a Starbucks DIY tumbler I recently acquired, I began a mini-collage to decorate my new go-to mug, as my old one had been sadly broken! But, methinks it will make a worthy substitute for the old one… Check it out!

All of my idols in one spot- the "healthy heroines" that I look up to: Jennifer Lopez, Queen Latifah, Jillian Michaels, and of course CRYSTAL RENN!

Now put back into the tumbler, we have the finished product:

I think I shall call it my “Recovery Mug“!

And just for kicks, some goofy action shots 😉

Sippin' away!

Well enough of me being overly excited about my new thermos! How about some vegan yummies? Later  I made pizza… Though I found that I had no vegan tomato sauce left! Horror of horrors! Whatever is a girl to do???

Soooo, I got a little creative. I decided to pile my whole wheat crust high with broccoli & onions, sliced Kalamata olives, vegan “cheese”, and fresh cherry tomatoes. Then, I drizzled the whole thing with agave nectar!

A photo of the agave plant, native to South America

For those of you who don’t know what that is, agave nectar is essentially a plant-derived honey. It is a sweet, syrupy extract from the agave plant, with a lighter, less viscous texture than honey from honeybees. What’s the whole deal with it? Well, it is not an animal product, as some consider honey to be, and it has a lower glycemic index, meaning that it won’t cause such dramatic shifts in blood sugar, making it ideal for those with diabetes or problems regulating blood sugar. I actually just love the taste, which is lighter and delicately sweet… In fact, my little brother finished about 1/2 a bottle of the stuff in about a day he liked it so much!

Anywho, I put the pizza in the oven, not too sure of how it would come out with my new and somewhat random improvizations… But, turns out I like it even better than tomato sauce on my pizza! The agave gave a sweet but not overpowering undertone to the whole thing, contrasting nicely with the salty bite of the Kalamata olive and mixing nicely with the whole wheat crust and the vegan mozzarella. I would definitely use it again!

Pre-oven baking...

... And a close-up of the veggie goodness post-oven!

Well, that’s about it for now! I think later I’ll finally post pics from a sushi-making fest 😉

‘Till then!

<3’s

Gabriella

May 31, 2010. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Model Vegan???

Forgive me if it sounds like bragging, but I just had to gush about the compliment my latest nutritionist gave me! Meeting with her yesterday at the (bleck!) doctor’s office, she claimed she would use me as an example, because I was “one of her best vegan clients… A model vegan”!!!

I was souped to hear this from her, because not only did I get (and still get) a lot of crap from my friends, family, and even other medical professionals about going vegan, but I am also perfectionistic and wondering if I’m really following the best plan I can. Granted of course I’m not perfect, and everything is always a work in progress, but I am at least really, really glad to hear that a nutrition professional claims I am doing a really good job, especially with the daunting task of not only following a healthful vegan diet but following any healthful diet at all and eating regularly to fuel my body and maintain a steady, healthy metabolic balance within. It’s honestly really, really nice to get that encouragement… And also maybe because I can say “I told you so!” to all the nonbelievers! 😉

Cheesy as it may be, I want to thank those around me who have made it possible for me to get to this point in recovery (you know who you are!), and I also want to thank that little part in me that rebelled against the eating disorder and helped me move off a path of daily self-destruction. I may not have found peace with my body yet, but I can at least acknowledge that self-starvation will not get me to where I want to be (i.e. alive and happy in college vs. dead in a hospital cot). And for an added boost, I plan on reading this book by one of my all-time heroines, the beautiful Crystal Renn (You tell me in which shot she looks better, 5’9″ 98 pounds, or a normal, healthy size 12!):

Now, on to some vegan munchies (model or not, you decide, I guess! I’m not confident or vain enough to say they are!):

Organic corn chips, Boca crumbles, rice "cheese", topped with yummy Newman's own organic salsa

Yet another outlet for my salsa obsession: vegan taco salad! Organic corn chips, Boca crumbles, fresh lettuce, over a whole wheat tortilla

Brown rice topped with curried tofu, cauliflower, broccoli, and green peas

Italian vegan mania! Spinach gnocchi (a rich potato-based pasta and fear food!) in a broccoli broth

I may or may not have raved about these before: the protein-PACKED, delicious Field Roast vegan sausages

Now for some vegan snacks

My equivalent of Popeye's spinach: soy-free vegan protein for big MuScLeS!

Protein shake + sunflower seeds = ultimate post-workout snack!

Dessert challenges? They are made magically easier by dairy-free treats from Newman’s Own organics! Check out these scrumptious treats:

Great with some Yogi tea ❤

Thank you, Paul Newman! Dairy-free fig newtons!

Thanks for dropping in, guys! And, just as a last wise note from my beloved Yogi teas:

“We are physical beings having a spiritual experience.”

“The purpose of life is to enjoy every moment.”

<3’s

Gabriella

May 28, 2010. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized. 1 comment.

Next Year’s Home!

I feel like I start off every blog post with an apology because I am SO BAD when it comes to posting regularly! My excuse this week is AP Exams, then senior prom plus an after-party until the wee hours of the morning ( 🙂 ), then three performances of our latest (and my last ever!) high school play. Quite bittersweet (except for the AP Exams- there will be no missing those!)

But I figured my first post in a few weeks (ack!) should concern my new home for the next four years of my life: Wellesley!

Yes, I have decided, and it was a very easy decision. Once we revisited the schools, Wellesley was the obvious choice. Not only is it academically excellent, but it has such a strong alumnae network . As one girl put it, “I like to think my future is basically all set because I’m going to Wellesley!” After all, Wellesley practically owns Washington 😉

But enough blabbing- see it for yourself:

So, obviously, it ain’t half bad looking, either 😉

I even snapped a photo of some of one of my meals, tofu tacos with onions and green peppers, with steamed veggies on the side:

Another great thing is that they always have an extensive salad bar set up, and every single dining hall has some sort of clearly marked vegan selection. Best of all, they have a sushi place (yeah avocado rolls!) and a Starbucks kiosk in the campus center 😉

I admit that when visiting I got nervous when it came to foodWhat am I going to do without the comfort of my own food? What will I do when I am continuously forced to relinquish some of the control I so obsessively crave? Any tips from some college girls out there???

Regardless, I am ridiculously excited! I even bought my Wellesley sweatshirt to make it official, and have been quite proudly sporting it about recently!

<3’s

Gabriella

May 23, 2010. Tags: , . Uncategorized. 3 comments.

The Breakfast Challenge

Saturday morning I woke up, threw on some yoga pants and a t-shirt, and pedaled over to my boyfriend’s, who had the adorable idea of having a special vegan brunch 🙂

Only very recently have I found the courage to tell him about my ED, trying especially hard to keep the ED apart from my own personality, in my own efforts to weed the ED out of my identity (which it should not be a part of!). My therapist was the first to suggest this, and at first I greeted her idea with… lukewarm enthusiasm, to put it lightly. But I also know that I am very reserved when it comes to my personal life (especially where my ED is concerned), and that I am somewhat obsessively independent, and reaching out for help or support can be a good thing. In fact, it is the only thing that has helped me get so far in my recovery.

So, I told him. It suddenly seemed very organic and natural, and it just really seemed like it needed to be said. For better or for worse, this has been a huge part of my life (though, again, I am trying hard to stress that this does not mean it is a huge part of me!), and it needs to be put out there between us, or it will keep growing and morphing and festering and things will get worse instead of better. I was in a bad place one day, and he asked me what was wrong, and I just told him. I finally told the truth and just stopped lying or covering up my real problems. It was such a terrifying, liberating experience.

I was nervous even as I biked over. We had decided to make vegan pancakes, and my bag was full of fresh fruit and soymilk (haha). Luckily I had found an easy recipe for 5 Minute Vegan Pancakes, so it required minimal ingredients and effort 😉

I reflected as we put together ingredients and stirred the batter… “I have not had pancakes in probably three years, minimum,” I said out loud.

“Well, you’re having them now!” And it was true– I was! Isn’t it funny how sometimes after denying ourselves for so long, we begin to feel guilty about enjoying common pleasures? And it’s true– I actually thought to myself, “Isn’t this too good to be true? Can I really have pancakes and not gain 20 pounds in 5 minutes???” Even though I knew the nutritionals, even though I’ve seen more nutritionists and specialists and read more books and magazines on food and diet than anyone would care to know, I was still afraid. It’s really sad, actually, how this slow restriction becomes a form of self-punishment. I had to bring myself back to a time when I was 6 years old:

I stirred the batter, just like I did when I used to help my mother in the kitchen on Sunday mornings.

I licked the bowl, just like I did when I was 6 and didn’t know what a calorie was. And enjoyed it.

I smiled as the batter hit the pan and sizzled.

I laughed when I tried to flip my disobedient pancakes.

I ate. First the safe fruits, savored the tart grapefruit and the tangy kiwi and the sweet banana slices. Then one bite of a golden pancake. Then another. With a drizzle of maple syrup, no less.

He may or may not have urged me to take the first bite on purpose. He may or may not have told me to take the last bite on purpose. And he may or may not have been lying when he claimed he was full and left the last bits for me to finish. But it is OK. I’m still here. I didn’t gain 20 pounds. I ate pancakes for breakfast and didn’t explode or turn into a hippopotamus.

Perhaps the most challenging part of these victories is maintaining them. Even though I probably only took in 100 or so extra calories at breakfast, I couldn’t help but struggle with the urge to restrict later. Anyone come across that problem? It’s like, “Great, I did it!… Now let’s go back to square one.” It’s so hard not to skip lunch, skip snacks, not make up for things at dinner and so forth. It’s a challenge every day to convince myself that I am not a better person because of all the restricting I managed. I choose instead to focus on the victories and not the failures. I am bigger than my eating disorder. I am not a number on the scale, or a dress size. I am a person, for chrissakes! It’s time I start treating myself like one.

My body is a temple, not a slave

— A beloved, borrowed affirmation

<3’s

Gabriella

PS: As for the pancakes? Delicious! Non-vegan boyfriend even claims they are better than milk ‘n’ egg hotcakes 😉 In other words, go make them now!!!

April 25, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , . Uncategorized. 3 comments.

Mid-Morning Musings

“Anorexic”
By Eavon Boland

Flesh is heretic.
My body is a witch.
I am burning it.

Yes I am torching
her curves and paps and wiles.
They scorch in my self denials.

How she meshed my head
in the half-truths
of her fevers

till I renounced
milk and honey
and the taste of lunch.

I vomited
her hungers.
Now the bitch is burning.

I am starved and curveless.
I am skin and bone.
She has learned her lesson.

Thin as a rib
I turn in sleep.
My dreams probe

a claustrophobia
a sensuous enclosure.
How warm it was and wide

once by a warm drum,
once by the song of his breath
and in his sleeping side.

Only a little more,
only a few more days
sinless, foodless,

I will slip
back into him again
as if I had never been away.

Caged so
I will grow
angular and holy

past pain,
keeping his heart
such company

as will make me forget
in a small space
the fall

into forked dark,
into python needs
heaving to hips and breasts
and lips and heat
and sweat and fat and greed.

After an early run and a cup (or two!) or green tea, I’m in a very contemplative mood. That, and being on school vacation gives me (for better or for worse) more time to ponder over things.

It’s so amazing how we start so pure and gentle. Gentle to others, gentle to ourselves. What 3 year old do you know complains about the fat on their stomach or the shape of their thighs? They accept and they love themselves wholly, and do not even think to question or complain about what they have been given. My 4 year old cousin couldn’t give a damn about her looks, and I can tell you for a fact that I spent many of my early years running around partially or completely naked without so much as a sliver of shame or self-consciousness.

How can someone who is beautiful and HEALTHY be attacked for being fat? What is wrong here???

So my question to you is this: how does it happen? One of my favorite teachers was also one of the only people brave enough to confront me when I first started dropping an alarming amount of weight. She said to me, “Sometimes we lose something in ourselves, this sense of self-worth, of pride in what we are.” She had watched a niece struggle with anorexia, too. What do we lose, and how? Why can we not simply accept ourselves as we are? Why do we wage this constant battle against our own selves?

Why must we feed off the minute imperfections of others… Even if those others are SUPERMODELS??? What are the consequences of such behavior?

I’m not talking just about people with eating disorders. I’m talking about people everywhere. It seems no one, especially females, like themselves anymore! Is this so much to ask? Is it possible for me to ever look in the mirror and say, “Yep, that’s me! And I am 100% happy with that.”? Has our sense of self-worth just been eliminated culturally? And is there any hope that it can return?

How can this be acceptable?

This is not skinny vs. fat.

This is not pretty vs. ugly.

This is a matter, quite literally, of life and death. We are starving ourselves physically, spiritually, and emotionally as a society. What is wrong here?

And how do we stop it?

<3’s

Gabriella

April 22, 2010. Tags: , , . Uncategorized. 2 comments.

New Camera = Overwhelming Joy

Good morning, bloggies!

I have finally replaced the camera that broke about 2 months ago (I know, I know– terrible!), so now I will actually be able to update and take new pictures! Hurrah!

As a lot of valuable time has been lost, I’ll post some din-din pics ASAP:

Organic whole wheat pasta with organic tomato and "meat" sauce---> An Italian vegan's twist on a family classic!

1. Pasta–> In case you haven’t caught on, I come from a very Italian family, so pasta is not an extravagance, but a must for us in this household! With satisfying but not-too-heavy whole grains, lighter protein sources, and organic tomatoes with a sprinkle of basil and oregano, I think even the most narrow-minded of my aunts and uncles would enjoy this twist on an old staple!

2. Tempeh madness!–> I have been trying to branch out and make sure I get protein from a variety of sources, not just processed soy foods, which can be high in sodium and, let’s face it, how healthful is it really to get all of your protein from one single food? That can be processed, nonetheless? I’ve been doing some more reading on eating healthfully on a vegan diet (like this), and was delighted to try seitan or “wheat meat” as a nice soy-free substitute and things like miso and tempeh, which are soy-based but fermented, which means they do not carry some of the risks associated with soy allergies (which I do not have, but who doesn’t love a little variety??) Soooo I picked up both tofu alternatives and was very pleased with the resulting stir-frys I created…

Hint: There are lots of different types of tempeh, like wild rice or barley oats- choose the one that best suits your taste buds

a) A little olive oil in the pan + fresh veggies (I chose broccoli and peppers, two of my faves!) + protein source (soy-based like tofu or tempeh, or wheat-based seitan or legumes like beans, lentils, etc.) + spices + organic brown rice =  One super quick, healthful, and ridiculously easy dinner! If you’re in a time crunch (helloooo fellow students!) Make a big-a$$ pot of brown rice one night and keep it refrigerated so you can take from it as much as you need throughout the week.

b) 20 minutes for dinner and a limited supply of ingredients? Tempeh, leftover rice, 1/2 a red pepper, and some sweet mango chutney from Indian cuisine brand Patak’s makes for another tasty (and hasty!) solution.

Stir-frying in the pan...

...And eating from the bowl!

3. Quinoa–> Pronounced “keen-WAH” (it’s OK, for the longest time I was saying “kwee-NO-uh”, yikes!) this ancient South American grain is one of the best natural protein sources known to man! It’s light but satisfying, and makes a mean salad or pilaf. Pictured is a salad I got in Israel (that I have yet to copy!), though I did recently make a yummy quinoa pilaf with toasted sesame and sunflower seeds for an Easter brunch at my boyfriend’s place 🙂

Quinoa with cooked green beans, mint leaves, grilled eggplant, and diced cucumbers with a hint of olive oil-- Utterly orgasmic!!!

Yeeeshh this is a long post, but I guess because I (a) can’t shut up and (b) haven’t been able to blog in a while it’s OK… right? Well, I actually have some snack reviews coming up…

1. Yogi granola crisps–> A+ right off the bat! Besides the fact that I am obsessed with Yogi brand teas, etc., these thin granola crisps are sooo delicious that they are equally tempting alone as they are in soy yogurt! I personally like them in some plain Silk Live! yogurt, sometimes with a little dried  or fresh fruit (raisins, berries, etc.) on top for an extra kick 😉

2. Gerb’s pumpkin seeds–> Going along the “alternative protein route”, I’ve been consuming more seeds and legumes to wean myself off of a dependence on soy. Again, I have no allergies to soy, but I do believe that eating a greater variety of the purest foods possible is really ideal, as opposed to sticking to just one type of protein source at every single meal. With this in mind, I’ve invested in things like sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds in addition to the organic soynuts I’ve been known to nosh on, and I must say that these are particularly tasty! They come in a huge variety of flavors, but I prefer lightly salty simply due to personal preferences and a wish to stay away from excessive amounts of sodium. These make  the perfect snack food, and can be combined with basically anything else (though they’re sooo good I like to keep mine separate)!

PS: How cute is the little hamsterish guy in the corner?!?

Well, lovelies, I think that more or less wraps things up (*phew!*) in this marathon post. I’m off to finish up some chores and then meet a friend for late morning tea (haha I am such a grandma!), then hopefully spend some time outside picking the last of the daffodils and gardening a bit. Meanwhile, this little guy is quite literally running around me in circles:

Albert, a "bunny with the most personality ever"!

Aaaand now he’s eating my binders. At least now I have an excuse to not do homework…? Ehh, not so much. But oh, well  😉

Laters!

<3’s

Gabriella

April 19, 2010. Tags: , , , , , , . Uncategorized. 3 comments.

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