Health and Wellness – The Crispy Sage Helping you live and eat naturally. Mon, 31 Mar 2014 01:23:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 What I eat when life puts me in the fast lane Wed, 07 Aug 2013 14:43:51 +0000 What I eat when life puts me in the fast lane

I don’t know about you, but sometimes making 100% of my meals at home just isn’t feasible. Sure, you’d love to make crackers out of your juice pulp or whip up a batch of hummus at the last minute…but life gets crazy busy sometimes. I used to feel guilty about taking shortcuts or cracking open a can of soup so that I could get in my PJs that much faster, but not anymore.

Why? Well, I have a few off-the-shelf products that I’ve come to adore. They keep me plant-strong and feeling good about where I’m spending my money and what I’m putting in my body when life puts me in the fast lane.

Check ‘em out, give them a try, and comment below with your favorite quick-fix options.

Mary’s Gone Crackers

I’m an addict. Like stage-an-intervention addict. These uber-crunchy vegan crackers are not only gluten-free, but they’re GMO-free, and 100% organic. The worst thing about them is trying NOT to eat the entire box once they’re open. Primarily made of brown rice, quinoa, and flax seeds, they’re perfect for dipping, or when you just need a little crunch and munch to get you through that last afternoon meeting. Of course, Whole Foods has them, but I’ve also seen them at CostCo and in the natural aisle of standard grocery stores.

Annie Chun’s Miso Soup Bowl

If you’re watching your sodium, this may not be your first choice, but I always have a few of these noodle bowls tucked in my desk drawer or in a suitcase when I travel. The miso has a wonderful flavor, and all it takes is some hot water to make this surprisingly filling soup. When I’m nursing a cold, it’s also one of my go-to choices (since my childhood favorite of chicken’n’stars just isn’t an option anymore).

Bakery on Main Gluten Free Granola

Part of the Non-GMO project, this California-based company has started popping up in mainstream grocery stores near me (and hopefully, you). The granola is delicious, plus it’s made from GMO-free corn and brown rice. My favorite is the Nutty Cranberry Maple. Just pay attention to the serving size…I’m always tempted to fill my bowl to the very top. But, between the nuts and the grains, it’s surprisingly filling, especially once you add your favorite nut milk or yogurt.

Field Roast Sausage

From brunch parties to cookouts, Field Roast grain-based sausage rocks my world. Even my meat-eating friends gobble this stuff up (I’m not sure they even knew it was vegan the last time it was on the buffet). I love the Apple Sage sausage for brunch events, and their Mexican Chipotle sausage is reminiscent of chorizo – perfect for a cookout or a throwing together a quick salad for a picnic like this one. I always have a few packages in my freezer for last minute meals. Their products are not organic, but they are GMO-free.

Amande Yogurt

Almond milk yogurt? Oh, yes please. Vegan and soy-free, I use the plain flavor for baking and the vanilla in my granola for a filling breakfast. I’ve found this in specialty and conventional grocery stores, but the thing that sets them apart from the other dairy-free, soy-free yogurts is they’re GMO-free, too. Winning!

Brad’s Raw Kale Chips

I’m going to start with the harsh reality of these green gems: they are pricey. You could make your own kale chips for 1/3 of the price. But this is about convenience, and when I’m craving a road-trip food like GMO-filled Doritos, the cheesy kale chips or the hot and spicy kale chips hit the spot. I have seen them on sale a few times, so keep your eye out – when they’re a few bucks off, horde them like you’re prepping for a zombie apocalypse.

What vegan snacks should you eat when you're on the road?

Doctor Kracker

Have you ever had a cracker that was so substantial, it almost doubled as a full meal? Enter the Doctor Kracker Crispbreads. These beasts are great for all kinds of spreads and dips, and you could even make a hefty (albeit crunchy and crumbly) sandwich with these. They are a tad expensive, and only 8 come in a box…but one cracker should do you just fine for a snack or a light meal with a few veggies and some hummus or a nut cheese. I’ve seen these at Wegmans, Whole Foods, and Giant. They’re 100% organic, too.

Emmy’s Organics Raw Macaroons

The day I discovered Emmy’s raw coconut macaroons was a day of pure, unadulterated gluttony. These little beauties come three to a pack. I told myself I’d eat one each day for three days. Incredibly rich, heavenly, and purely decadent, about 6 minutes after opening the package all three were gone and I slipped into a dessert coma. Because sometimes you just need a damn cookie. I’ve only seen the macaroons as my local organic market, but a few of their other products have started cropping up in Whole Foods. Fingers crossed you’ll see them in a store near you. (Psst – if you can’t find these locally, Amazon sells them.)

Imagine Broths & Soups

GMO-free, organic, and easy to find, I use Imagine no-chicken broth anytime I don’t have time to make my own stock. They’re high in sodium, as most broths are, so I would recommend using them sparingly. But when you’ve got a huge meal to cook (Thanksgiving!) or you’re in a rush to whip up a quick bite, having a few of these soups on hand can mean loads of flavor in just minutes. The creamy butternut squash soup is fantastic, as well. Up the ante on it by throwing in a few dashes of smoked paprika, and serve it with some garlicky croutons for a fancy meal in a flash.

purely elizabeth granola

Vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, and made with all natural ingredients, purely elizabeth granola gets an A+ for both healthy and tasty. Full of seeds, nuts, oats, and spices (I’m partial to the pumpkin fig), this cereal is incredibly filling and packed with fiber and protein. A tad pricey, and I’ve only see it at Whole Foods, but worth tracking down if you need a solid breakfast option for your busy mornings. I guess the best part about the price is it does help me with moderating my serving sizes…I want to make this stuff last.

Way Better Snacks sprouted chips

Good luck trying to put these chips away before you polish off the entire bag…especially the sweet potato tortilla chips. Holy moly. When you need something crunchy, addictive, and fun, I highly recommend these bad boys. Eat them right out of the bag, or use them to scoop up some homemade salsa (pineapple habanero, perhaps?). Find them. Now. And then curse me when you find yourself completely addicted, too.

A few missing names…

You may have noticed that I didn’t mention Larabars, Pacific Nut Milks, Kashi, Lightlife, or Morningstar Farms. These companies use GMO products, are owned by large corporations who donate significant amounts of money to prevent GMO labeling, or use questionable practices with their ingredients. As a result, I’ve made the personal decision to spend my money elsewhere. In a pinch, I can always make due with some carrots, apples, hummus, and little salad.

What are some of your favorite vegan snacks? Let me know by leaving a comment below!

How to Heal with Home Remedies Wed, 31 Jul 2013 01:32:34 +0000 How to Heal with Home Remedies

As I’ve learned more about food and how desperately our bodies want to heal themselves, I’ve started embracing natural remedies and home-based health. That’s not to say there isn’t a place for modern medicine, but through food and a holistic focus on health, I’ve managed to eliminate prescription medicines from my life. It’s a powerful and empowering act. That’s why I’m so excited to let Carlee introduce you to her story of transformation. She shares with us a few easy, simple tips for working through common illnesses at home.

When I was growing up I have vivid memories of my grandmother making lemon tea with honey whenever I had a sore throat. I remember it so clearly because I couldn’t stand the taste and would retch with each sip.

Lemon tea aside, I come from a long line of family members who primarily relied on doctors to cure illness, and for most of my life this was the only paradigm I knew. It wasn’t until I had kids of my own that I started to broaden my views on health, and what it means to be healthy. This didn’t happen overnight, and other than one visit to a naturopath when baby # 2 was little, it wasn’t really until my eldest son was about 6 that I started to get into natural health. It took another year or so after that before I decided to start studying natural medicine.

The first time I made myself a honey and lemon tea as an adult (I was 29), I cringed. I was flooded with memories of my well-meaning grandmother trying to get me to drink her healthy concoction instead of the chemical-ridden Panadol. I remembered hating it so much. My grandmother used to use a lot of those old wives tales, and at the time, I just wasn’t ready to embrace it. Fast forward to adulthood, and thankfully, my taste buds rejoiced at the honey and lemon tea.

Today, when it comes to my health and that of my children, I only use natural remedies. If they have a cough or cold (which is very rare), we use a combination of herbs, immune boosting juices, superfoods and vitamins. At the first sign of illness, I also whip up one of my delicious soups, chock full of garlic, fresh turmeric, and ginger. In a day or two, the worst of it is over, and we are back on track.

Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine has been quoted as saying “Let food be thy medicine, and medicine thy food”. When we eat a healthy diet, our chances of getting sick are much smaller.

However, if you do come down with a cold or flu, you will be back on your feet much quicker if you implement a few home remedies before reaching for those cold and flu tablets. Traditional medicine usually only masks the symptoms and doesn’t allow your body to fight off the infection properly. A few of my favorite remedies include:

  • Avoid taking pharmaceuticals, and allow your body to do what it does best: heal. Human beings are made up of an extremely complex array of systems that know exactly what to do to bring your body back to homeostasis. The more we interfere with these mechanisms, the less chance we have to function at our full capacity.
  • Include LOTS of garlic into your day. Add it to any foods you cook, juice it, or I sometimes just chop it up finely into a bit of water and have it like a shot. Garlic has many anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. I highly recommend incorporating garlic into your diet even when you’re not sick. It’s good stuff.
  • Honey and lemon tea is great for sore throats.
  • Shots of cayenne pepper & lemon juice (just add it to your water) are great for boosting the immune system.
  • If you need something stronger, rather than going to the doctor for antibiotics (which will do nothing for a virus) try an herbal mixture from your naturopath. The power of plants is incredible (most pharmaceuticals are chemically altered versions of what plants already do), and herbal remedies really do work.
  • If you have a fever, let your body ride it out. Fever is a natural process our bodies use to fight off bugs. When you have a fever, it’s a good sign that your body is doing exactly what it’s meant to be doing. Based on my research, it’s only if our temperature gets above 104 degrees F (41 C) that you should start to consider options for bringing it down.
  • Get lots of rest! Illness is your body’s way of communicating with you. Listen to what it’s saying, and it will reward you.

Everybody gets sick at some point, and that’s not a bad thing. The important thing is how you deal with it. Allowing viruses to run their course and supporting your body with lots of immune boosting goodness is so much better for you than taking cold and flu tablets.

Carlee Modra from Being the Tree of Life on home remedies and healing with plants

Carlee is a Holistic Wellness Coach, a Naturopath in training, and absolutely passionate about health, wellness, and spirituality. Her website, Being The Tree Of Life, is all about creating an amazing life for yourself, by first looking back, in order to move forward. Based on the teachings from the Tree Of Life, as well as many other ancient and modern teachings, she will show you how you too can embody The Tree of Life.

Finally…Food I Can Eat Wed, 24 Jul 2013 11:34:11 +0000 Finally…Food I Can Eat

As many of you know, I started on my path towards vegan when a series of health crises (being over weight, joint issues, anxiety, etc) began to dominate my life. Instead of piling on the pills, I turned to food as medicine and miracles began to happen.

Shirley experienced a much more dramatic metamorphosis through food following years of health and energy issues. As much as our doctors know about medicine, sometimes it’s our own intuition or experiences that lead us towards health. Check out Shirley’s compelling story of transformation.

For years I battled with illness and fatigue, not knowing what was wrong with me.

Medical tests didn’t seem to show much of anything, and my family doctor said it was all in my head, that there was nothing wrong with me. Well, he had it half right; it was in my head, and throughout my whole body too.

At the tender age of seventeen, I had been involved in a tragic train accident in Europe, where my best friend was killed. When I became ill, I think everyone thought it was lingering post traumatic stress. It probably was, but what I have since learned through hypnosis, epigenetics, and NLP (neuro linguistic programming), is that trauma stays in our tissues. If it is not dealt with, it can make us ill.

For years I struggled, sleeping more than 18 hours a day. I had to quit University and fought to hold down a retail job.

One day, my neighbour suggested I get tested for food allergies. Low and behold, I found out I was allergic to almost every food I was eating. Dairy, wheat, yeast, eggs, corn, sugar, pork, tomatoes, and the list went on. No wonder I was feeling so poorly. Every time I ate, my immune system went into attack mode.

I was given a long list of foods that I could no longer eat, and I wondered how I was going to move forward.

As i started moving towards a plant-based diet, with an emphasis on raw foods, my energy started coming back.

I also found out I had chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). I had never heard of CFS and soon learned there was really no cure. The only course of action back then was to rest. That’s a hard thing to do when you are only twenty-two years old.

Hard rice crackers and rice cakes became the norm, and a treat was a piece of fruit. I wondered if I’d ever eat brownie again, and felt that there had to be more to eat, more to sustain me.

My energy levels were low during that transition period, and I struggled to make allergy-free food. Thankfully, a mentor entered my life, and she told me about different flours and ingredients that I could use for baking. As I started moving towards a plant-based diet, with an emphasis on raw foods, my energy started coming back. I started experimenting with foods that I had never heard of (and things I was a little leery to try), but I figured I had nothing left to lose.

I asked endless questions at my local health food store. I bought a dehydrator and a juicer. I learned and experimented. It reminded me of being back in school in the chemistry lab. I soon found out that flaxseed or chiaseed when boiled in water and then cooled, congealed and could be used like an egg. That rice, almond, soy, hemp and coconut milk could all replace dairy milk. The options were endless and it was all so exciting.

There was so much more was possible than I ever could have dreamed.

I started to write down my recipes, tracking each experiment. I even got friends and family to taste test the recipes, and to my astonishment they said they were good. Their feedback excited me to no end. So, back into my kitchen I went, and before I knew it, I had loads of recipes that were healthy, tasty, and allergen free.

It didn’t happen overnight. In fact, it took me quite a few years to change my diet, but now I love green juices and shakes and try to have a large part of my diet solely vegetables.

I knew there were other people out there just like me, struggling with what to eat within the confines of food allergies, and I wanted to help them all.

Fast forward to today and my cookbook, Finally Food I Can Eat, is now available worldwide. I actually get emails from people thanking me for saving their life. What a gift that is!

Perhaps finding out I couldn’t eat certain foods, has been a blessing in disguise after all.

Shirley Plant of Finally Food I Can Eat

Shirley is the author of Finally… Food I Can Eat, a dietary guide and cookbook for people with multiple food allergies. As a nutritionist, she enjoys helping people plan healthy menus within the confines of food allergies and dietary restrictions. You can find her at Delicious Alternatives. She is also on Facebook and Twitter, if you’d like to stay connected or learn more.

An Unexpected Journey Towards Vegan Thu, 11 Jul 2013 12:45:25 +0000 An Unexpected Journey Towards Vegan

Hello, Crispy Sage readers. Today, I’m excited to share Marcia’s story with you. Marcia has spent much of her life discovering what it means to eat healthy. Through a series of ups and downs, resisting plant-based eating, and realizing just how unhealthy you can be even when you’re vegan, Marcia shares with us her passionate journey towards realizing the importance of loving yourself from the inside out, using whole foods. I hope you enjoy her personal tale towards veganism.

To say that I didn’t want to go vegan would be an absolute understatement. But for years, I felt it tugging at me. It got ahold of me and wouldn’t let go. Whenever my mind was quiet, I would hear it. I would see signs everywhere. I finally felt guilty enough that I caved.

Although I had been vegetarian for a decade, the thought of giving up eggs and dairy seemed impossible, untasty, and too extreme – even for me, Rage Against the Machine’s number 1 fan. (I love you Zach!)

At the point I went vegan, I had only known two other vegans: my little sister, who is my hero and means the world to me, and a complete whack-job guy who was extreme in every way.

Thank God my sis went vegan as a demonstration that vegan can be normal. Based off of the guy I knew, I would have never considered it. Although I was vegetarian and disliked people disrespecting my lifestyle choice, hypocritically I attributed his type of crazy to always being hungry and not getting enough nutrition. You know that saying about judging others and assuming? It makes an ass out of you and me… Anyway, enough about asses.

just because you are vegan doesn't mean you are healthy quote

This past season on Ellen Degeneres (a vegan), she interviewed Bill Clinton (a vegan) who mentioned that just because you are vegan, doesn’t mean you are healthy. So true, Mr. President, so true!

I’ve been the healthy vegan and the unhealthy vegan.

My first go at veganism was around age 25. To be completely honest with you, I was the laziest and most unhealthy vegan you could ever meet. All I ate were frozen meals (Amy’s Kitchen!), fast food French fries (not McDonalds), potato and tortilla chips, bread, pasta, Lender’s bagels, and Taco Bell bean burritos without the cheese. Easy and convenient foods.

Was I sluggish and overweight? Yes.

I actually gained more weight after changing my diet from vegetarian to vegan than when I initially went vegetarian. Yes, you read that right. When I went vegetarian I gained weight from the increase in dairy and bread carbs, plus it was around the time that I hit puberty.

When I went vegan, I was a decade older with a slower metabolism and consumed an absurd amount of adult beverages.

That all changed when I found out I was pregnant for the first time. Because of the human growing in my belly, I started to eat lots of fruits, veggies, and nuts (all organic, too). I spent a lot of time and money on eating well. Although I had a complete blood test, physical, and consulted with my OB/GYN, who approved remaining vegan during the pregnancy, at around week 14, I started to eat dairy and eggs again. After I finished breast feeding my son, I resumed the convenient vegan diet, but stopped again when I became pregnant with my second son. At that point, I truly believed that I would never return to the vegan lifestyle.

Just because I didn’t want to go vegan again, didn’t mean my mind and heart would stop pulling at me. With my many breast feeding trials, I found it especially difficult to continue consuming dairy.

But, laziness prevailed, and I covered my internal argument with cheese fries, mozzarella sticks, and candy bars.

Last spring, I unexpectedly became vegan again while on a cleanse by Kathy Freston. The cleanse was 21 days with no animal products, bi-products, caffeine, gluten, sugar, or alcohol. While on the cleanse, I was able to fully recognize the affect food and alcohol had on my system. To say I had an “A-ha!” moment would also be another understatement. For the first time, the fact that calories equal energy made sense to me. Empty calories equals artificial energy and results in a serious energy crash. If you’d like to learn more about the cleanse, check out my post on getting started.

Trust me, if you want to see some real changes in your energy levels and your physical appearance, opt for whole foods as much as possible. Within 6 months of the cleanse, I dropped 43 lbs. I am now a healthy 142 lbs, at 5 foot 8 inches. In your face, baby weight!

So you may be wondering:

  • Do the benefits of being vegan outweigh the hard work? Yes.
  • Does it get easier the longer you do it? Indubitably.
  • Do I wish Dawn’s invaluable and innovative service was available when we were DINKs (dual-income, no kids), and I started down the windy vegan road? You bet your arse!

Like all things that are hard work, but absolutely worth it (i.e. marriage, raising children, friendships, and careers), maintaining a vegan diet does require effort. I’m promising you it is worth that work.

Thanks for reading and please share with us any comments or questions you may have.

Marcia from Finding Felicity on becoming vegan

Marcia is a stay at home mom of two boys (aged 2.5 and 4.5) who writes at Finding Felicity. She wholeheartedly believes and lives by the mantra: the more you give, the greater life gets.