Easy Ways To Get More Fruits and Veggies in Your Diet

I have a new toy. I don’t often buy things for myself, and when I do, I get immediate buyer’s remorse and contemplate taking them back to the store for weeks, wondering if I made the right decision. You should have seen me when I bought my IPad. I dragged my whole family around one night, going feverishly from store to store, comparing various tablets and trying to talk myself into settling for something cheaper.

At $499, the IPad left a gnawing pain in the pit of my stomach. Of course, after hours of agonizing, I ended up going back to the original store and buying that shiny Apple that first caught my eye. But was I content and excited with my purchase? No. I kept the receipt and all the original packaging “just in case” until the last possible minute I could have returned it. Only after that deadline passed did I begin to relax and fall in love with my tablet.

But, I digress. Somehow this post has taken a nasty turn from talking about my new toy to exploring the dark places in my brain where decisions are made (or more accurately, delayed). And no one really wants to go there. It’s kind of like those scare-tactic films you once saw in health class about drugs. You know the ones..the kid tries LSD one time and never comes back from his trip. Well, I’m going to let you escape, this time.

My new toy is mostly plastic, but it has a powerful motor and razor-sharp blades that tear through skin like nobody’s business. You’re scared now, aren’t you? No, I haven’t totally lost my mind from lack of hormones and started killing random people in fast food joints…yet. I bought myself a Ninja:

Photo Jan 15, 3 53 43 PM

This baby was $49.99 at Target and I got A $5 Target gift card. (No. I didn’t use my credit card) It includes a 48 oz blender pitcher and a 16 oz food processor bowl. Each unit has separate blades. The motor is shown on top of the blender in the picture. It can be moved from unit to unit as needed. And clean up is a breeze. The blades come out completely so you can wash the bowl and pitcher from top to bottom.

So far, I have used the Ninja every day since I bought it. I’m trying to eat more veggies and fruit to keep breast cancer at bay, but it’s been very hard to work, take care of kids, and prepare a healthy meal every night. My hat is off to those who work full time and still find time to juice daily and prepare vegan meals from scratch, like my blog pal at lightscanceraction.wordpress.com.

Well, this kitchen tool has made a huge difference in prep time. Dicing vegetables takes literally less than 30 seconds thanks to the “pulsing” action. I’ve made homemade butternut squash soup and fresh salsa. And tonight features vegan split pea soup with carrots, onions, garlic and spices. I’ve even added a daily green smoothie to my diet. This morning, I used the following:

1 Cup Almond/Coconut Milk

1/2 Cup frozen mango

1/2 Cup frozen pineapple

Handful Organic Baby Spinach Leaves

Pinch of Shredded Coconut

Add Water to Get Desired Consistency (about 1/2 cup)

It looked something like this picture from Somer’s awesome “Vedged Out” blog:

green smoothie

 

Head over to her page for some more great smoothie recipes. I promise, you can’t taste the spinach. It just tastes fresh and delicious.

I think I may learn to love this new Ninja even more than my IPad. Ok, maybe not, but it has given me a whole new appreciation for cooking from scratch. I saved the box and the receipt…..just in case.

 

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Let Thy Food Be Thy Medicine

80S CANCER JAM OF THE DAY:

“The only time to eat diet food is while you’re waiting for the steak to cook.” 
― Julia Child

no cow

DIET CONFUSION

With all of the conflicting opinions out there about what one should or should not eat after a breast cancer diagnosis, it’s easy to just throw in the towel and curl up in a little ball of self-doubt and disgust. Okay, maybe that’s a bit over the top:) You have the vegan camp, which is where all the popular kids seem to be going this summer. You know, if it has a face or a mother, avoid it. No dairy, no meat, no eggs, no fun…sorry vegans, that was rude.

no sugar

Then you have those who believe that a vegan diet is a disaster because it encourages the consumption of fruits and whole grains and makes it difficult to obtain certain vitamins that are readily available in animal foods. The crux of their argument is that cancer cells are “glucose guzzlers” and carbohydrates readily break down into sugar, thus feeding the cancer. They propose that protein, fat, and low-carb vegetables should be the main focus of the diet in order to blunt the insulin response that funnels the sugar into cancer cells.

I believe that each side has some valid arguments. There is a lot to be said for trying to incorporate as many organic vegetables as possible into anyone’s diet, not just those with a disease. I also see the merits of eliminating any food sources of hormones, i.e. traditional meat and dairy products. What I haven’t seen is research exploring health outcomes of those who consume grass-fed, hormone and antibiotic free dairy, meat, and eggs. These products actually have a very favorable ratio of Omega 3 to Omega 6 fatty acids, which is one of the goals of an anti-cancer diet.

THE BEST DIET IS THE ONE THAT WORKS FOR YOU

The bottom line is that we are all unique, and there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to diet.  If you listen carefully, your body will tell you which foods bring you closer to health and which ones detract from your well-being. Symptoms such as bloating, tiredness, and irritability are the body’s way of letting us know that the ratio of protein, carbs, and fat in our last meal was wrong, or that we have hidden food allergies. Pay attention for a few days and see what your body tells you after each meal. For a good basic nutritional type test, click here (test link is at bottom of page). I’ve taken this test 3 times, and each time I come up as a “protein” type, meaning that my body will probably never be happy in a vegetarian lifestyle.

MY EASY (MOSTLY) DISHES TO SUIT VEGAN OR CARNIVORE

All this talk about food has made me hungry, so I’d like to share a few recipes with you that I’ve been trying out lately. They are easily adapted for our meatless, faceless friends and have turned out quite well, if I do say so myself. I have to admit that my diet is a work in progress, so come along on my journey. Any recipes or suggestions are welcome, just no tofu, please:)

MONDAY MEAL OF THE DAY:

2012-07-18 18.37.26

THREE CHEESE TORTELLINI WITH VEGETABLES AND PESTO CREAM

This meal can be as easy or as complicated as time allows. I get refrigerated tortellini and boil it along with some frozen broccoli stir fry vegetables. I then mix in 8 oz of plain greek yogurt and some basil pesto (jarred or homemade). When I want to have meat, I fry some ground bison or grass-fed ground beef and add it to the mixture. Garnish with grated parmesan. Add a salad with some chopped walnuts and feta cheese. My favorite dressing is olive oil and lime juice (when the tummy allows). Voila! You have a healthy weeknight meal in a snap. P.S.- Vegans can substitute soy cheese:)

Let me know what you think. I’ll have more recipes through the week.