Why I Am No Longer Vegan

Four years ago, I decided to try out the vegan diet. I had watched the Fork over Knives movie, read the book The China Study, and was inspired talking to people about it.

I had just given birth to my daughter a few months before and was relatively healthy despite a higher than normal cholesterol number. I wanted to see if what The China Study book said about not eating animal products truly worked to curb high cholesterol numbers. So in January 2012 I decided to removed all animal products from my diet – meat, eggs, butter, broth, cheese, all of it. I did still continue to eat fish on occasion, but that was my only source of animal products.

In exchange for giving up the meat, I ate a lot more vegetables. More than half of my plate was vegetables along with some beans and a grain.

The first year seemed to go pretty well. I felt like I had more energy, less bogged down by the heavy feeling of the meat and it helped my weak stomach issues, something I now contribute to eating more veggies and realizing the extent of my lactose intolerance.

In January of 2013, I had my cholesterol levels tested again and to my surprise there was no change. In fact, my numbers had slightly worsened.

Animal products made ZERO difference in my cholesterol numbers!

For the next year, I decided to give up sugar. I went through and purged almost all of it out of the house and it wasn’t just desserts that got the cease and desist order. I had to read every label because it gets sneaked into everything – pasta sauce, salsa, peanut butter, ketchup, cereal, frozen meatballs, pretzels, you name it and they include it. I replaced all those items with ones that were more pure and didn’t add the sugar. I bought organic pasta sauce, sourdough bread, raw peanut butter, and jam without sweetener.

That year, 2013, was almost one of the most sick I had ever felt. My family couldn’t catch a break from constant cold and flu infections. As soon as we recovered from one, we’d catch another… for an entire year! You’d think by eating more healthy, we’d be healthier, but it was not to be.

In January 2014, I had my numbers checked again. That was it! That was the key I had been missing. It was the sugar. The excess sugar had made my cholesterol elevated, not the animal products claimed by The China Study.

But it was too late. Two years of no meat or eggs had taken its toll. My body had been stretched to its limits and been drained of nutrient reserves, partly because I hadn’t been taken in any but also because I’d been breastfeeding for two years by that point. My body had more demands on it than it could give.

In March of that year, I developed ovarian cancer.

(I wrote a post on it around that time which you can still read. This post is an update to that one as I have had more time to process it all since then.)

It wasn’t until April when I had a surgery to remove the tumor which in just a months time had grown to an 8″ wide sack of cancer cells in my abdomen. At the time they did not believe it was cancer, but believed it was a rapidly growing benign tumor. It wasn’t until it was removed that they gave me the bad news.

I had to wait an entire agonizingly-long month to heal enough from that surgery to have another surgery which checked the extent of the spread of the disease. It was then that the decision was made to remove my uterus because of indications that it may have spread there (as well as the appendix and omentum).

It took about a week to get the results from that surgery – another week of relentless prayer.

The results came back Ovarian Cancer Stage 1A, meaning that it had all been removed in the first surgery and nothing, not even a trace of deadly cancer cells, were detected! Thank you, God, for you mercy! There’s not a day that goes by that I am not thankful for God’s hand on the surgeons and medical staff for their quick and thorough action.

However, two and a half years later I am left with all of the fall out that came from that debacle and I’ve had a lot of time to reflect on those events. Not only has it scarred my body and left me unable to have any more children, but it has left me with a great sense of awe and wonder over how God created the human body to work.

Two years ago, just a few months after the cancer appeared and was removed, I began to reintroduce animal products into my diet. Meat was first – and I did not like the taste of it! The texture threw me off so terribly I thought I wouldn’t be able to swallow it and nearly gagged, but I continued. I continued because I knew not having it didn’t work. It didn’t do a thing to my cholesterol numbers and like it or not, I spent a year in the most miserable state I could be in followed by a disease I wouldn’t wish on anybody.

I started eating it once a week, then several times a week, and now I’m at a point where I eat it once a day with perhaps some eggs for breakfast.

I will say this about the diet I was on. The amount of vegetables, combined with the lack of sugar (which cancer feeds on), and a lot of prayer, I believe is what saved me and kept the cancer from spreading. I have no doubt about that. However, the formation of the cancer in the first place should not have happened.

Cancer can be caused either by radiation, environmental conditions, genetics, and/or lack of nutrients. I believe my cancer came from a lack of nutrients.

I originally believed it was a lack of calcium and vitamin D alone, but looking at the numbers of how much I actually ate and understanding more about the situation, I don’t believe that’s the case anymore. What I was lacking were the animals nutrients – animo acids, vitamins, minerals – and iodine.

* Vitamin B12 – Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is involved in the function of every cell in the body. It is tightly involved in the formation of blood and the function of the brain. It is only found in meats, eggs, and fish. As a note, every vegan MUST supplement this vitamin in order to survive. It is unavailable in any plant-based food. (I did take this as a supplement, but nothing beats the original form.) (Source)

* Creatine – Scientific studies consistently show that creatine supplementation can increase muscle mass and strength, in addition to improve cognitive function. Creatine is another element not found in plants that must be supplemented. (Source)

* Vitamin D3 – D2 comes from plants, D3 from animals. Studies show that D3 is much more effective than the plant form. It also needs to be combined with calcium to absorb properly. You can also get it from the sun, but when the winter months prohibit you from getting enough sunlight, it must also be supplemented. (Source)

* Carnosine – Carnosine is a very important nutrient that you may never have heard of before. It is strictly found in animal tissues. Carnosine is created out of two amino acids and is highly concentrated in both muscle tissue and brain. (Source)

* DHA – DHA is the most abundant Omega-3 fatty acid in the brain and it is critical for normal brain development. Many people who avoid animal products supplement with flax seed oil instead, which is a great source of ALA… a plant form of Omega-3. However, ALA needs to be converted to DHA for it to work. Studies show that this conversion process is notoriously ineffective in humans. (Source)

* Heme Iron – Heme-iron is a type of iron only found in meat, especially red meat. Not only is heme-iron well absorbed, it also improves the absorption of non-heme iron from plant foods. Unlike non-heme iron, heme-iron is not affected by antinutrients, such as phytic acid, often found in plant foods. (Source)

* Taurine – The function of taurine in the body is not entirely clear. Taurine is only found in animal foods such as fish, seafood, meat, poultry and dairy products. (Source)

* Saturated Fat and Cholesterol – Oh, the irony of just what I was trying to avoid. Many people still think that saturated fat and cholesterol are the root of all evil, despite it having been thoroughly disproven. This has led many people to adopt a low-fat diet, which is low in animal foods, but high in sugars and starches.

Another essential nutrient I did not receive enough of, though not meat-related, is iodine. The change away from iodized table salt to more natural salt puts this element in deficiency:

* Iodine – Iodine is essential for breast, endometrial, and ovarian health. Having switched to Himalayan sea salt, I did not receive enough of this ingredient either. You can google this correlation rather easily. (Study) (FYI, Selenium needs to be taken with iodine as it seems to balance it.)

In addition to these lacking nutrients, eating a vegan diet can also lead to insufficient vitamins and minerals because there just aren’t enough of them in plant foods. These include:

* Zinc – Plant-based foods high in zinc are also high in phytic acid. People eating these diets may require as much as 50% more zinc than non-vegetarians in order to absorb the same amount. (Source)

* CoQ10 – CoQ10 is another element that is generally low in people on a plant-based diet. The richest source of CoQ10 is found in meats at 15.8mg of CoQ10 per 100g. The richest plant-based source comes in at an underwhelming 1.87mg/100g in raw soybeans. (Source)

In order to receive complete nutrition while eating a plant-based diet, many of these nutrients need to be supplemented. The amounts needed on a daily basis cannot be achieved by diet alone and the form in which they exist in plants affects their bioavailability in the body. The vegan diet lacks the essential elements that humans need to survive.

Soon after the multiple surgeries, I went to the dentist to have my teeth cleaned. I hadn’t been in years, but on urging from my husband, I finally decided to go. The dentist said I had nine cavities! Nine! Never have I had so many cavities. Additionally, one tooth had to be pulled because it had decayed down to the root. The funny thing is, I never felt any of them, but the x-rays confirmed what he was saying.

Looking back on this, I now see a correlation between my poor diet and the depletion of minerals in my teeth causing them to look fragile and transparent. Teeth are a good indicator of bone health and having poorly mineralized teeth can only mean one thing. For two years I had let my body be drained of essential nutrients it needed to stay healthy.

Medical science still does not understand the impact of completely removing animal products from the human diet.

There are so many nutrients that we have not discovered that may impact the body in subtle ways. It is my belief that the vegan diet, without supplementation, is insufficient to sustain a healthy body. Without supplementation of these lacking elements we would be leading unhealthy, cancer-ridden lives. Additionally, no one knows what the next nutrient is that researchers will discover that will also require supplementation, because we just found out about it.

I believed what I was eating was the most healthy way to eat. There’s no doubt that eating vegetables and whole grains is healthy, even vital, but when I lacked meat, eggs, and other animal products, I was also lacking in vital nutritional elements in their purest, most easily absorbable form. That itself is one of the main considerations of eating a whole-foods diet.

Do you want to know the key to eating healthy? Here it is:

Everything in moderation!

I don’t gorge on meat, but I don’t gorge on vegetables, fruits, grains, or even sugar for that matter. A well-balanced diet of essential foods is necessary to promote a healthy body, and I don’t believe a vegan diet can provide all that we need.

The China Study and Fork Over Knives claim that animal products are to blame for the many maladies in our lives, but I believe this blame lies elsewhere in a non-essential element – added sugar. My own two year cholesterol study proves this. Sugar is a rarity in this house and saved for special events like birthday parties or Thanksgiving pie. Had I continued indulging in it for many more years, I believe my cancer diagnosis would not have been so favorable and I would probably not be here writing this today.

Be healthy.

Do you have a warm winter jacket? You’re going to need it this year!

There are many things that correspond with winter — shoveling driveways, ice skating, hot chocolate, and above all else it can get COLD! Do you remember those polar vortexes from two years ago, the ones that brought the arctic cold down as far south as Colorado? Yeah, they’re supposed to be back this year. The Farmer’s Almanac for the 2016/2017 winter “forewarns that exceptionally cold, if not downright frigid weather will predominate over parts of the Northern Plains, Great Lakes, Midwest, Ohio Valley, the Middle Atlantic, Northeast, and New England this winter.”1

Here’s the map from the Farmer’s Almanac website:

SHOULD I WEAR LAYERS OR GET A PARKA?
Now, I’ve always been a layer person. Put on an extra layer when you’re cold and take off a layer when you get hot. But that year it was just cold and this year is going to be. This year you can take your pick of “chilled-to-the-bone”, “freezing cold”, and “numbing cold” depending on where you live. Unless you’re in the west, you’re in for a tough winter.

This year it’s not so much about fashion, at least for me. When you just want to be warm there’s nothing better than a toasty down parka. Now, maybe you’re from Arizona, New Mexico or Texas. You probably are not going to need something as warm as someone from Colorado, Montana or New York. You may be able to get by with layers or a lighter jacket near the bottom of the list. Anything that will help you to stay dry.

IS IT TEMPERATURE RATED?
I’m going to share some research I’ve done recently on women’s jackets. I get frustrated when a manufacturer claims that a jacket is “warm, warmer and warmest” without giving a temperature rating. Can you relate? Some manufacturers either don’t temperature rate their jackets or they loosely claim that a jacket is “warmer” than the warm, but not as warm as the warmest. What exactly does that mean?! Some manufacturers do temperature rate their jackets, but how does it compare to other brands?

FEATURES
In addition to warmness, there are other features I went looking for in a jacket. Cost is definitely one of them. You can find some great Canada winter warm jackets, but unless you want to spend a small fortune it may be out of your budget. Another thing I looked at was fill power, fill weight, total weight, length, whether the jacket is waterproof or not, and practical features like zippered pockets, drawcord, and whether or not the jacket is machine washable.

COMPARISON BETWEEN BRANDS
In order to figure out the estimated warmth of the jacket, I took the fill power times the fill weight divided by the length. That gave me the amount of estimated warmness per inch. Now, I must preface this with, it’s an estimate and only takes into consideration the amount of down fill! It can still vary based on the type of construction (i.e. breathability), whether or not there’s a drawcord, if it fits loose or tight, and many other factors, but it should give you a very good idea of comparison between different company’s jackets.

You can see my spreadsheet that I used to collect all this data here.

1 http://farmersalmanac.com/weather-outlook/2017-winter-forecast/
*This post contain affiliate links.

In order of the “Estimated warmth per inch” of down fill. Warmest first!

Marmot Southgate Jacket

Cost: $350
Estimated warmth per inch: 199
Manufacturer Rated: Not Rated
Fill Power: 700, Fill Weight: 8.54 oz
Length: 30 in.
Total Weight: 38.8 oz
Waterproof: Yes
Removable Hood: Yes
Ruff: Faux
Zipper: 2-way
Drawcord: No
Zippered Pockets: No
Machine Washable: Yes

Available at:



L.L. Bean Baxter State Parka

Cost: $249 – $269
Estimated warmth per inch: 190
Manufacturer Rated: 5F to -45F
Fill Power: 650, Fill Weight: 9 oz
Length: 30.75 in.
Total Weight: 46 oz
Waterproof: Yes
Removable Hood: Yes
Ruff: Faux, Shapable
Zipper: 2-way
Drawcord: Yes
Zippered Pockets: Yes
Machine Washable: Yes

Available at:
                                                                           


Eddie Bauer Superior Down Stadium Parka

Cost: $349 – $379
Estimated warmth per inch: 165
Manufacturer Rated: 30F to -40F
Fill Power: 650, Fill Weight: 9.54 oz
Length: 37.5 in.
Total Weight:
Waterproof: Yes
Removable Hood: No
Ruff: Faux
Zipper: 2-way
Drawcord: Yes
Zippered Pockets: Yes
Machine Washable: Yes

Available at:







Eddie Bauer Sun Valley Parka

Cost: $269
Estimated warmth per inch: 165
Manufacturer Rated: 30F to -30F
Fill Power: 650, Fill Weight: 8.9 oz
Length: 35 in.
Total Weight:
Waterproof: No
Removable Hood: Yes
Ruff: Faux
Zipper: 2-way
Drawcord: No
Zippered Pockets: Yes
Machine Washable: Yes

Available at:






Columbia Heatzone 1000 Turbodown Long Hooded Parka Jacket

Cost: $650
Estimated warmth per inch: 124-154
(Range Includes Omni-Heat Synthetic)
Manufacturer Rated: Not Rated
Fill Power: 900, Fill Weight: 2.47 oz
(+ 100g Omni-heat Synthetic)
Length: 35 in.
Total Weight: 15 oz
Waterproof: Yes
Removable Hood: No
Ruff: Faux
Zipper:
Drawcord: Yes
Zippered Pockets: Yes
Machine Washable: Yes

Available at:





Marmot Montreal Jacket

Cost: $285
Estimated warmth per inch: 150
Manufacturer Rated: Not Rated
Fill Power: 700, Fill Weight: 7.05 oz
Length: 33 in.
Total Weight: 34.2 oz
Waterproof: No
Removable Hood: Yes
Ruff: Faux
Zipper: 2-way
Drawcord: No
Zippered Pockets: Yes
Machine Washable: Yes

Available at:
Free Shipping at Moosejaw.com



Eddie Bauer High Pass Down Parka

Cost: $229
Estimated warmth per inch: 142
Manufacturer Rated: 30F to -30F
Fill Power: 650, Fill Weight: 7 oz
Length: 32 in.
Total Weight:
Waterproof: No
Removable Hood: Yes
Ruff: Faux
Zipper: 2-way
Drawcord: No
Zippered Pockets: Yes
Machine Washable: Yes

Available at:





Eddie Bauer Lodge Down Parka

Cost: $229
Estimated warmth per inch: 142
Manufacturer Rated: 30F to -40F
Fill Power: 650, Fill Weight: 7.88 oz
Length: 36 in.
Total Weight:
Waterproof: No
Removable Hood: Yes
Ruff: Faux
Zipper: 2-way
Drawcord: No
Zippered Pockets: Yes
Machine Washable: Yes

Available at:







Marmot Chelsea Coat

Cost: $380
Estimated warmth per inch: 138
Manufacturer Rated: Not Rated
Fill Power: 700, Fill Weight: 7.51 oz
Length: 38 in.
Total Weight: 41.1 oz
Waterproof: Yes
Removable Hood: Yes
Ruff: Faux
Zipper:
Drawcord:
Zippered Pockets: Yes
Machine Washable: Yes

Available at:
Free Shipping at Moosejaw.com








Eddie Bauer Lodge Down Duffle

Cost: $269
Estimated warmth per inch: 133
Manufacturer Rated: 20F to -60F
Fill Power: 650, Fill Weight: 9.22 oz
Length: 45 in.
Total Weight:
Waterproof: No
Removable Hood: Yes
Ruff: Faux
Zipper: 2-way
Drawcord: Yes
Zippered Pockets: Yes
Machine Washable: Yes

Available at:











Marmot Waterbury Down Jacket

Cost: $400
Estimated warmth per inch: 126
Manufacturer Rated: Not Rated
Fill Power: 700, Fill Weight: 6.28 oz
Length: 35 in.
Total Weight: 53.5 oz
Waterproof: Yes
Removable Hood: Yes
Ruff: Faux
Zipper:
Drawcord:
Zippered Pockets: No
Machine Washable: Yes

Available at:
Free Shipping at Moosejaw.com






Patagonia Down With It Parka

Cost: $209 – $299
Estimated warmth per inch: 121
Manufacturer Rated: Not Rated
Fill Power: 600, Fill Weight: 7.62 oz
Length: 37.75 in.
Total Weight: 30.8 oz
Waterproof: No
Removable Hood: No
Ruff: No
Zipper:
Drawcord: No
Zippered Pockets:
Machine Washable: Yes

Available at:
Free Shipping at Moosejaw.com





Patagonia Downtown Parka

Cost: $265 – $379
Estimated warmth per inch: 121
Manufacturer Rated: Not Rated
Fill Power: 600, Fill Weight: 8.15 oz
Length: 40.5 in.
Total Weight: 32.8 oz
Waterproof: No
Removable Hood: No
Ruff: No
Zipper:
Drawcord: No
Zippered Pockets: Yes
Machine Washable: Yes

Available at:
Free Shipping at Moosejaw.com





Mountain Hardwear Downtown Coat

Cost: $300
Estimated warmth per inch: 115
Manufacturer Rated: Not Rated
Fill Power: 650, Fill Weight: 6.35 oz
Length: 36 in.
Total Weight: 33 oz
Waterproof: No
Removable Hood: Yes
Ruff: Faux
Zipper: 2-way
Drawcord: Yes
Zippered Pockets: Yes
Machine Washable: Yes

Available at:
Free Shipping at Moosejaw.com








Columbia Hexbreaker Long Down Jacket

Cost: $290
Estimated warmth per inch: 114
(+ Omni-heat reflective lining)
Manufacturer Rated: Not Rated
Fill Power: 600, Fill Weight: 7.05 oz
Length: 37 in.
Total Weight: 15.9 oz
Waterproof: No
Removable Hood: Yes
Ruff: No
Zipper: 2-way
Drawcord: Yes
Zippered Pockets: Yes
Machine Washable: Yes

Available at:





Patagonia Tres 3-in-1 Parka

Cost: $549
Estimated warmth per inch: 112
Manufacturer Rated: Not Rated
Fill Power: 600, Fill Weight: 6.38 oz
Length: 34.25 in.
Total Weight: 45.9 oz
Waterproof: Yes
Removable Hood: No
Ruff: No
Zipper:
Drawcord: No
Zippered Pockets: Yes
Machine Washable: Yes

Available at:
Free Shipping at Moosejaw.com


Marmot Geneva

Cost: $500
Estimated warmth per inch: 105
Manufacturer Rated: Not Rated
Fill Power: 700, Fill Weight: 4.8 oz
Length: 32 in.
Total Weight: 49.1 oz
Waterproof: Yes
Removable Hood: Yes
Ruff: Faux
Zipper:
Drawcord: Yes
Zippered Pockets: No
Machine Washable: Yes

Available at:
Free Shipping at Moosejaw.com


L.L. Bean Ultrawarm Coat, Three Quarter

Cost: $199
Estimated warmth per inch: 99
Manufacturer Rated: 10F to -40F
Fill Power: 650, Fill Weight: 5.61 oz
Length: 37 in.
Total Weight: 45 oz
Waterproof: No
Removable Hood: Yes
Ruff: Faux
Zipper: 2-way
Drawcord: Yes
Zippered Pockets: Yes
Machine Washable: Yes

Available at:





Notes: The North Face does not temperature rate their jackets, nor do they have the fill weight information available, so I was not able to include them in this list. You can, however, see my spreadsheet for the comparison of other features of these jackets.

Canada Goose jackets are rated very well by consumers for being warm, but the company would not release any information to me citing security reasons. “For security reasons Canada Goose does not release this information to the public.” They also would not provide me with the total weight of the jacket, citing the same reasons.

There was a Helly Hanson jacket on this list, but I removed it because the representative did not have most of the information I was looking for so I removed it.

A Grocery Store Comparison: And The Winner is…

Where To Shop

A quick trip to the corner grocery store could actually be costing you an extra $40 on a cart full of groceries – money that could have been better spent on gas, clothes, library late fees (yes, it’s a real thing), or put into your saving’s account for a rainy day. Convenience shouldn’t be the only factor you consider as you fill up your cart with your food staples – value is just as important. And if you’re like me you go to the store for eggs and you walk out with milk, bread, butter, toilet paper, chicken nuggets, chips, and a couple apples and lemons too. Before you know it your cart is half full! So much for just getting that one thing. But if you’re shopping at a pricey store those extra items are going to add up.

So where is the best bang-for-your-buck place to shop? If you are budget conscious you probably ask yourself this very question every time you go to the store. Am I really getting the best deal here? How do these prices compare? Is it cheaper somewhere else?

To lay those questions to rest, I decided to find out for myself. I took a trip to six of the most popular grocery stores in Longmont, Colorado and did a comparison of products I would normally buy on a regular shopping trip. The stores were Safeway, King Soopers, Target, Vitamin Cottage, Lucky’s and Sprouts. I selected several items from different categories to compare across the stores.

Supermarkets vs. Neighborhood Markets

In compiling the results of this survey, I found products I could compare across all stores to get an overall price comparison. I also took a detailed look between the larger supermarkets and the smaller neighborhood markets. The supermarkets generally carry a wider range of products to appeal to the organic, natural, and everyday consumers. On the other hand, the neighborhood markets focus mainly on a limited selection of organic and natural products. For example, if you know that you’d rather not have high fructose corn syrup in your bread or need some freshly-ground almond butter, then you’d probably have a better chance of finding it at Sprouts, Lucky’s, or Vitamin Cottage than Safeway, King Soopers, or Target.

An across-the-board comparison and a detailed comparison gave me the same results of who won the title of cheapest store. However, different stores seemed to come out ahead in different categories, so I’m going to give you the overall winners, followed by the category winners.

And The Overall Winner Is…

The overall winner for cheapest place to shop is…


Comparing Categories

Now let’s take a look at each category and see how each compares. You can also download the spreadsheet.

The winners in each category are…


Bakeries

In the detailed regular price comparison of bakery items, the winner of supermarkets is King Soopers.

And for the three neighborhood markets, the winner is Vitamin Cottage.


Refrigerator & Dairy

In the detailed regular price comparison of refrigerator and dairy products, the winner of supermarkets is Target.

And for the three neighborhood markets, the winner is Vitamin Cottage.


Pantry

In the detailed regular price comparison of pantry items, the winner of supermarkets is Target.

And for the three neighborhood markets, the winner is Sprouts.


Spices

In the detailed regular price comparison of organic spices, the winner of supermarkets is Target.

And for the three neighborhood markets, the winner is Lucky’s.


Bulk & Dry Goods

In the detailed regular price comparison of bulk and dry goods, the winner of supermarkets is Target.

And for the three neighborhood markets, the winner is Vitamin Cottage.


Produce

In the detailed regular price comparison of produce, the winner of supermarkets is King Soopers.

And for the three neighborhood markets, the winner is Sprouts.


Meat

In the detailed regular price comparison of meats, the winner of supermarkets is King Soopers.

And for the three neighborhood markets, the winner is Sprouts.


Freezer Items

In the detailed regular price comparison of freezer items, the winner of supermarkets is Target.

And for the three neighborhood markets, the winner is Vitamin Cottage.


Drinks

In the detailed regular price comparison of drinks, the winner of supermarkets is Target.

And for the three neighborhood markets, the winner is Sprouts.


Other Items

In the detailed regular price comparison of other miscellaneous items, the winner of supermarkets is Target.


Conclusion

Is there one store that comes out above the rest in every category? No, and certainly not every item in the Target pantry list is the cheapest everywhere, but when added together you’re going to be saving money.

Is this price comparison going to change where you shop for groceries? I know it will for me! Even still, if there’s a certain product that I like and only one store carries it that store is going to win and hopefully it’s one of the cheaper stores, because as I’m walking out of there with my special vegan, sugar-free sourdough bread, I’ll probably be taking some milk, a pound of pistachios, jasmine green tea, and a bag of potato chips with me.

Happy shopping!

*Note: This comparison was done within a two week time span in March 2016, so that the prices on products would be comparable across the stores and not be fluctuating in and out of season.

Smoothies for Breakfast

The FDA has recently recommended that we eat at least 4.5 cups of fruits and vegetables per day (or 7 servings). If we look take an honest look of what the average American diet serves up everyday, can we honestly say we’re eating 4.5 cups, the minimum recommended amount? Let’s say there’s 0.25 cups of fruit and we’ll include 0.5 cups of veggies if you have hash browns.

Now for lunch, we’ll add another 0.5 cups of vegetables for toppings like lettuce and tomatoes on your entree. If you have something like a ministrone soup, we can probably add a cup. Now we’re up to 1.25 – 1.75 cups of fruits and vegetables!

On to dinner, now we’re cooking! The typical American diet usually makes up for the lack of vegetables at dinner time. Usually there are two servings of vegetables, maybe a salad and a potato or green of some kind. Let’s add a generous 1.5 cups.

Hmmm… we’re still at around 3 cups. We’re getting close!

Dessert? Sure! If you throw some blueberries on that ice cream, underneath the gorgeous chocolate crust of Magic Shell, you’ll be up to around 3.5 cups. Every diet is different, but what I’m trying to show is that the standard American diet does not usually meet the minimum recommended amount of fruits and vegetables per day. It is usually meat and grain heavy and while those are important to have in your diet they are eaten in the amounts prescribed for fruits and vegetables.

Here’s a great way to do it that I wanted to share. Start your day with extra energy so that you won’t need that Choco Grande Mix Latte with extra shots of Espresso by mid-morning. Get yourself a good blender and make a veggie, fruit and protein shake in the morning instead.


Here are some ideas of what to include: collard greens, spinach, kale, bell peppers, carrots, celery, apples, blueberries, bananas, cucumbers, oranges, strawberries, cranberries, pomegranate seeds, cantaloupe, acai berries, walnuts, brazil nuts (1-2), cinnamon, ginger, chia seeds, flax seeds, almond milk (or coconut milk), vanilla, lemon juice and anything else you can think of. Don’t go too heavy on the fruit either. You do want to sweeten it, but not get a sugar high.


Put it all in a huge blender. If you have a good blender, there’s no need to chop it up or slowly drop it in. Take out the seeds, make sure there’s enough liquid and blend away.


And do blend well! No one wants to drink chunks of carrot.


I usually make enough for two days for myself and the kids.

Enjoy your veggie and fruit filled mornings!