The Vegan Elimination Diet: The End of the Journey

Well, here we are folks. Isn’t it simply incredible how quickly time goes? I can’t believe it’s here: the end of the Elimination Diet! Time flies when you are feelin’ good, I suppose!

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I have been enjoying myself in upstate NY with my family. Guess what: my mom made me try Omeprizole for my burping issue. I usually just SO don’t like creepy meds, but when you’ve tried every homeopathic option out there (ahem…), sometimes you just can’t knock it ’til you try it. As much as it pains me to say this, and no I do not believe that meds work better over natural remedies as a rule, this is just an exception…but it does work. So there’s that. Humph.

Anyway, you GUYS! Overall, that was SO EASY! I seriously encourage all of you who are reading going, “I bet I could do this” to make the commitment. I really didn’t find myself struggling to keep up with the rules at all. The only time it gets tricky is going out to eat- but hey, it happens rarely enough that you can find a place that will accommodate you, or at least some kind of meal that suits your needs. Something I have learned from being vegetarian for 7 years and vegan for two of those and on this diet for a month: please, please don’t be ashamed of what you want to put into your body! I know, I know, I myself am a little bit of a people pleaser. I don’t like to be a problem, I don’t like confrontation, I don’t like to be a bother. But this subject is important enough to me, and it should be to you as well, to stand up for! You are not bothering anybody by politely asking them to help you stick to your belief system, or to help you fight for your health. If they judge you for that, then who cares! If they give you attitude, then just remember you have the power of the tip… 😉

Here are what habits I am going to stick with after today:

  • Nutrient PACKED smoothie for breakfast every morning.
  • No more coffee every morning, only on occasion.
  • No more soy! It is creepy and no one needs it.
  • Gluten-free pasta! It tastes the same and it’s super easy!
  • Cooking at home more often! Bye bye, Seamless. We will save you for once a week!
  • Dipping gluten-free crackers and just plain veggies in hummus instead of pita!
  • No more beer- just an unnecessary gluten source. Wine, on the other hand…
  • Overall, maintaining an awareness about everything I put into my body!

Here is what I am most excited to have now that this is over (hehe):

  • Wine
  • Ice cream (vegan, duh!)

I’d say this was a pretty successful adventure. I have to thank Jessica McCarthy again for the inspiration, as well as my family and friends for being super supportive throughout the month, and often times helping me put together a recipe! I love you all!

I firmly believe in moderation. I believe in ice cream and wine and pasta and coffee and potato chips. But I believe in being a smart and thoughtful consumer. Not restrictive, not punishing, but smart and thoughtful about what you put into your body. Have it. But don’t overdo it. Be curious. Try things. Live your damn life. But make sure you are feeding yourself the things you need in order to live a long one.

All in all: just love yourself. Love your bad self! DO IT! Whether you are a meat-lover, a candy-lover, a vegan, paleo, GF, health nut, cookie monster, or trying the Elimination Diet…whatever it may be. Take a look in the mirror and be taken aback by your beauty. See someone who deserves to be loved. See someone who you aspire to be. See someone worth a long, healthy life. Because you do, you will, and you are. You will be the one to love yourself, you will be the person you aspire to be, and you are going to take care of yourself to ensure a long, and healthy life. So bring it. Let me see what you got. You are in control.

Get on with your bad self.

Peace.

The Vegan Elimination Diet: Phase 2 Recipes

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What a beautiful summer it is. The sunshine looks good on all of you.

I am hanging in there! I was able to escape NYC and head north to my family for a few days, which is always a rejuvenating experience to say the least (unless you consider cat naps, food comas, family movie nights, yoga in the sunshine, and puppy cuddles tormenting). I was also able to put my dad, the incredible chef, to work in the kitchen on these recipes with me! All weekend we joked that he was my sous chef (yeah right).

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I am feeling awesome, actually! If I am being 100% honest with you and with myself, the burp queen is reigning again. I seriously cannot get to the bottom of it! Otherwise- all good. Before this diet I always jested that if I had to run for my life after a meal, I wouldn’t make it. I felt bloaty, uncomfortable and usually fatigued after eating. Now, I feel like I could run a marathon. I am serious! It is a complete 180! I feel full from all of the nutrient-packed meals I am downing, but never bogged down by them. If anything: reenergized. It is a marvelous feeling not to have food be my enemy. I really think it is the gluten and perhaps also the soy. Nixing those bad boys is sincerely life changing, and something I may stick with. But only time will tell for sure!

Here are some of my favorite recipes that I’ve played with over the past week, as promised via instagram (@lexirabadi)! Please enjoy them!

1. Chia Crust Pizza

One of my favorite GF options for pizza crust- it is so so so easy, healthy, and surprisingly yummy! Chia seeds are packed with 2 times more protein than most other grains, and 5 times more calcium than MILK! Not to mention omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, antioxidants, and more. My great friend shared this one with me a year ago and I’ve been messing with it ever since. For this recipe, because fresh tomatoes are a no-no (sobbing), I decided to go a nontraditional pizza route, topping this bad boy with cauliflower hummus (see #3 below!), plus roasted beets, arugula and mushrooms! Nom. And so pretty!

  • 1/4 cup Chia seeds FullSizeRender-11
  • 3 tbsp GF flour (I used brown rice flour)
  • 3/4 cups Water
  • 3 tbsp Chopped nuts (pine nuts are the yummiest but also most expensive…I used pistachios!)
  • Any seasoning you want- oregano and basil give it that pizza kick! Salt and pepper are a must!

Preheat the oven to 350. Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl and stir, stir, stir! It takes some time, but soon the gelatinous properties of the chias will get to work and you will have a dough-like substance. Spread it onto a greased sheet/tray, and viola! It will be thin and not too stretchy like regular pizza dough. Bake for 35-45 minutes. Add toppings and bake for a last 5-10!

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2. Oh She Glows‘ Crispy Quinoa Cakes

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Oh She Glows is my favorite vegan blogger! These are super easy to make, but it definitely requires some energy just getting the prep work done. Lots of ingredients, lots of shopping, lots of chopping! Also- lots of wiggle room ingredient-wise here. Make them yours! But once all of that is done (give that sort of work to your sous chef, hehe), it is a piece of quinoa cake (score). Here is the recipe taken from Oh She Glows!!!:

  • 1/2 cups Cooked quinoa (like rice- 2 parts water to one part quinoa)
  • 2 tbsp Ground flax + 6 tbsp water (mix those together first and set them aside to bind)
  • 1 cup Finely chopped kale
  • 1/2 cup GF Rolled oats ground into a flour
  • 1/2 cup Grated sweet potato
  • 1/4 cup Finely chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup Sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup Fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp Diced onion
  • 1 clove Minced garlic (I would suggest two cloves after having made them)
  • 1 tbsp Tahini paste
  • 1 1/2 tsp Dried oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp Red or White wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp Sea salt
  • 3 tbsp GF all-purpose flour (super important to bind the mixture together!

Dump all of the ingredients into a bowl- yes, I mean all (don’t forget the flax mixture!). Mix it up real good. Grease a pan and flour your hands so the mixture doesn’t stick (as shown above…), and pack, pack pack it up into small cakes (not too big or they won’t cook through!). Line the cakes up on the greased pan, cook at 400 for about 25 minutes, flip those bad boys and give ’em another 5-10. Dunzo.

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3. My Dad’s Hummus

FullSizeRender-16Let me tell you all…my dad does not play around. When he makes something it is the real deal, and it is to die for. He puts so much heart into his cooking. His hummus is no exception. In fact, his hummus is the only hummus. The only. Hummus. I’ve been dipping carrot sticks and GF crackers in it as a snack all week and it is truly a life saver when I need to whip up something healthy and filling quickly! There is nothing like homemade hummus. If you are a hummus lover let me tell you something…go out and buy at least 5 cans of chickpeas/garbanzo beans (you always need them lying around!), and a tub of tahini paste. If you do this right now, you will be saving yourself so much money in the long run! You will have your very own homemade hummus at your disposal, instead of paying over and over again for those store bought brands. Plus you know there are only wholesome, whole foods involved. No preservatives or anything else creepy. And maybe, like my dad, you can throw in a little heart, too. DO IT! :)

  • 3 cups Garbanzo beans, cooked and drained (*this can be changed depending on what kind ofFullSizeRender-18 hummus you are making! Black bean, white bean, edamame, or in the case for my pizza above, roasted cauliflower!!! Everything else almost always stays the same).
  • 1/2 cup Tahini paste
  • 3-4 Cloves chopped garlic
  • 4 pinches White pepper
  • 3-4 piches Salt
  • The juice of half a lemon (or to taste)
  • 6 pinches Cumin
  • 1/2 cup bean juice (from can- or water will work!)
  • 2 tbsp EVOO
  • Sliced Lemon and parsley for garnish

Blend all ingredients together in a food processor or blender. I use my Nutri Bullet at home for hummus (and for just about everything else in the universe). Blend, taste, add, blend, taste, add. That is the method to the madness!

How’s THAT for a blog? My goodness. I hope you can soak it all in and give some of these babies a try! Don’t be afraid to experiment. This isn’t a science- it’s not like baking. Cook to your heart’s desire. It is that simple.

I have also been getting mega into smoothie bowls lately (they are SOOO yummy, filling and gorgeous for pictures). I will leave with one last picture of a plant, a smoothie bowl, and my dad’s cookbook. Think about this: how can you highlight, compliment, and maybe share someone else’s talents or best qualities this week? I challenge you to compliment someone not on how they look, but on how funny they are, how unique, how exuberant, how intelligent, how good of cook they are. And pass it on. Spread the love like you would spread delicious hummus- a heaping amount!

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The Vegan Elimination Diet: Phasing into Phase 2

FOOD! FOOD! FOOD!

Ah, how I missed sinking my teeth into solid food! There should be a holiday for the first day of Phase 2, it feels THAT good. But no turkey or ham for me, no stuffing, no buttery, saucey mashed whatnot, just good old whole foods straight from big mama Earth.

Update: When I first began this journey, I looked at the list of food you can and cannot eat according to many of the Elimination Diet guides. There are many restrictions against certain fruits (no citrus fruits!) and vegetables (no nightshade veggies), not to mention nuts (pretty much none are allowed), from which I get a lot of protein and just good old enjoyment out of.

Of course, there is little restriction on meat- (Chicken, Turkey, Lamb, Venison, Duck, Goose, Pheasant, Anchovies, Herring, Salmon, Cod, Scallops, Clams, Oysters are all allowed). So, you can understand why things looked a little grim to me, at first. Now, I realize how silly that was. If anything, my vegan lifestyle is making my life much easier, because the elimination diet is not far from my regular daily consumption, anyway! I’ve just got to be smart about balancing my meals nutritionally. Nixing the soy and the added sugar is the sneakiest part so far, but I am doing it! Boy, am I!

Finally I am beginning to feel full again. During Phase 1, I felt like I was ready for another smoothie only 1-2 hours after finishing one. It went on like that all day- constantly ready for more more more, and just so, insanely hungry. Now, after one meal I can make it through to the next with a healthy little snack in between if need be.

As far as my belly and other digestive organs go- I’m feeling good! Usually after I eat I become the burp queen, just going and going for hours after the meal. Gross. Amazingly and so thankfully lately I have zero bloating, no acid reflux, no discomfort, and the burp queen has been dethroned.
Knock on wood!

Goodies: Here are some of my life-saving goodies that I don’t know what I’d do without for these 23 days!

IMG_11821) I am a veggie burger lover. Sue me. But many veggies burgers aren’t even vegan to begin with, let alone GF and SF. But Dr. Praeger’s really pulled through for me with their GF, SF, Vegan veggie patty with no creepy additives called the Super Greens! If I am in a rush, or out of ingredients to cook with, or am just plain lazy, this has been my go-to!

FullSizeRender-92) Being a vegan smoothie queen, a girl has got to have her protein. Duh! But so many fancy vegan proteins come with not-so-fancy added sugars that creep up on you! No, thank you. Vega One is my favorite vegan protein because it has NO SUGAR ADDED! Yippee! Plus gluten-free, 20 grams of protein, 6 servings of veggies, 50% daily intake of vitamins and minerals, fiber, omega-3, antioxidants and probiotics! Be still, my heart! What more can a girl ask for? 

3) Quinoa Pasta! Hallelujah, thank goodness for you! GF, protein, and a really yummy way to whip a meal together that seems legitimate, rather than, ohhh, I don’t know, eating raw spinach from the bag, or an entire can of chickpeas… Ahem… I like to whip this up with some collard greens, mushrooms and broccoli for a super healthy, mega tasty, ultra easy dish. You might also LOVE to add…

FullSizeRender-104) Earth Balance Olive Oil “Butter,” oh I how I love thee. The Olive Oil flavor for this diet because the original contains soy. This baby is GF, DF, SF, and everything you’d ever want not-real butter to be. My butter-loving, meat-eating boyfriend even loves it and uses it now!!! Score!

5) Lundberg Rice Cakes (lightly salted for me, please!) With sliced avocado, and a little bit of salt? Heavenly. Or how about sliced apple and cinnamon? Get outta here. Easiest snack in the world.

6) Bragg’s Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar! Amazing in dressings, sauces, sautees and the like, but what I love to do is take a big ol’ spoonful every morning! Love or hate the taste, it can be completely life-changing! Bragg’s Raw Unfiltered ACV has “the mother” in it, which sounds a little scary, but it means that it contains essential living nutrients and bacteria (which actually also IMG_1189sounds scary). According to Mind Body Green, this super-spoonful can alkalize the system and balance pH levels (like a lemon!), relieve heartburn, put a stop to fungal infections, chronic fatigue and digestive issues, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and keep your glucose levels from spiking after a meal, which may help with weight control! Phew. Okay, done.

 

Food for Thought (Pun intended): This morning I woke up and I could barely touch my toes, my back was so incredibly tight. I cursed with frustration at how I will never be as flexible as I want to be, and “why do I even try!” I realized my back and shoulders were probably so bundled up from all of my handstand practicing I’ve been doing- hours every day. It made me think a few things. Firstly, please, never become angry at your body. It works so hard for you. Only send it love, love, love. Never compare todays body to yesterdays or this years body to ten years ago. They aren’t supposed to be the same. Your body moves, shifts, grows, changes, constantly. Think about how marvelously beautiful that is. Miraculous, actually. Take note of those changes without judging or shaming them. And secondly, from striving so hard for something “fancy” (the handstand), I was pulling farther and farther away from my foundation (the forward fold.) Having goals is our life-force. But we must remember that in order to achieve those goals, we must be well-prepared, we must honor where we came from, we must take our time, and we must build upon a strong and consistent, incredibly loving foundation. For if we do not, the passionate strife becomes structureless struggle. We can end up hurting ourselves that way- breaking our hearts, or tearing our hamstrings, or both. I am going to rest on the handstand journey for a few days, knowing that it isn’t a failure, or even a pause, but it is all part of the journey, and I am still moving forward by honoring my body!

Blogger’s Orders: Go for a run, unroll your mat, move, stretch, breathe, take a walk on the grass, soak up the sun, and feed your belly nothing but earthly wonders.

The Vegan Elimination Diet: Phase 1

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So, now that the basics of the diet have been described, I can break it down a bit more!

According to Whole Life Nutrition, an incredible guide to the Elimination Diet which I am loosely basing my own experience off of, there are two phases of the journey.
1) The Detox and 2) The Elimination.

Like I said, I am loosely following this plan, but I did decide that the two day detox would be essential for sort of resetting my system before going all in. The idea of the diet is to delete any and all foods that may cause inflammation or irregularity, and then to slowly add them back in. The goal is to get to the root of anythiFullSizeRender-7ng that may be bugging your system. In order to do that to begin with, you must have a clean slate! I will complete Phase 1 tonight- meaning I will have had
no solid foods for 2 days. Only smoothies, juices, and pureed soups!

Okay, here is the fun part: The recipes! Below are three of my favorites that I’ve tried these past few days. My wish is that you give them a whirl and enjoy! (I don’t put measurements because I think a smoothie is like a yoga practice- it is your time to do something for you! Play with it until you like it!)

1. The Cardigan Smoothie (Get it?! Because of all the layers?! Hardy har har…)FullSizeRender-6

  • Bottom Layer: Avocado, Pear, Spinach, Coconut water
  • Middle Layer: Banana, Peach, Cinnnamon (Contains manganese which helps your body process fatty acids and keep your blood sugar in check), Coconut water.
  • Top Layer: Berries! (I used a mix of Strawberries, Blueberries, Blackberries, Cherries), Coconut water, and Camu Powder– This is a shrub indigenous to the Amazon rainforests which is PACKED with nutrients including vitamin C, fatty acids, protein, beta-carotene (Vitamin A) and importantly for my uses: antioxidants and an immune system stimulant to help flush everything out in preparation for the diet! I cannot take credit for this awesome find. This was an amazing tip from my friend Jessica McCarthy who is a monthly guest writer on my dear friend’s blog Miss City Discovers!

Blend the bottom layer first, and pour it into your serving glass so it fills about 1/3. Blend the middle layer next and do the same. Top layer last and do the same. Garnish with cinnamon and pear and enjoy!

2. The Green Fairy– My favorite juice of all time! I called it the Green Fairy because it’s green, of course, but also because I feel like I could just fly away after I drink it, it is that refreshing, cleansing, awakening and enlivening!

  • KaleFullSizeRender-5
  • Celery
  • Cucumber
  • Granny Smith Apple
  • Pineapple- Not just to cancel out the yucky green taste! Pineapple contains a digestive enzyme to help cleanse your colon and improve digestion. Perfect for our purposes!
  • Ginger- Metabolism spike equals mega detox flush!
  • Lemon- The classic elimination diet suggests nixing all citrus fruits including lemon. For my plan, I am making one exception for my beautiful lemons! They really help to detoxify the body, boost immune system, purify the gut and blood, and alkalize your system, balancing your pH levels!

3. Broccoli Puree “Goop Soup”

  • 4 Broccoli florets
  • 3 cloves of GarlicImage
  • 1 Sweet onion
  • Turmeric (to taste)
  • Cumin (to taste)
  • Pink Himalayan Salt (to taste)
  • Black pepper (to taste)

Chop the broccoli, onion, and garlic cloves and add to a pot. Add water to just below the brim of the broccoli mixture. Bring to a boil and cook until broccoli stems are soft. Once cooked, transfer the broccoli mixture into a Nutri Bullet or food processor and puree until smooth. Pour into a serving bowl and season to taste! Bada bing bada boom! Super easy, quick, and completely within the confines of Phase 1!

I would have loved to incorporate flax or chia seeds and of course my beloved homemade almond milk in these delights, however Phase 1 forbids all nuts and seeds! Weep.

Tip: One day my dad came home with a giant Trader Joe’s jug of Alo Vera Juice. Gross. I thought of the gooey gunk you put on a sunburn to heal your beachy skin, and I was not interested. Well, I wasn’t too far off, actually! Alo vera juice does heal, soothe and repair the digestive tract and gut just the way it does you skin! It also contains anti-fungal, anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties which aid the immune system in flushing out toxins and invading pathogens. SO! It is perfect for our purposes- flushing and repairing in one! If the taste isn’t your fave, try the Coconut Water/Alo Juice combo from TJs! Thanks dad!
So far, I feel super light, clean and clear on the inside, as if I Windexed my gut. (Note: I do not recommend ingesting Windex, as the previous statement was merely a metaphor). Aside from my extreme desire to chew on something solid, I feel good, and I am excited to see where the rest of the experience leads me!

Thank you for reading! Cheers with a cold beer and a piece of pizza in my honor tonight! (Hey, everything in moderation! Just make sure to try one of these smoothies in the morning, hehe).

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The Vegan Elimination Diet: A 23-day endeavor

Happy glorious summer, all!

For my last month of freedom, I have decided to go on a very strict diet. Why? Because I am crazy.

Just kidding, it is because I am ready to up the ante a bit when it comes to my health and nutrition in order to 1) lead a healthier lifestyle, of course 2) discover the root of any acid reflux, fatigue, upset stomach, or irregularity/inflammation my body undergoes on the daily 3) to give my body a beautiful gift! and I guess 4) because I like a challenge.

I was inspired by a friend and fellow yogi to embark on the 23-day journey entitled
The Elimination Diet.

I really don’t like the word diet because of its creepy connotation. Usually I prefer something like a “lifestyle change” or “cultivating healthy habits” or something corny like that. However, this really is a diet! It is meant only to last for 23 days in order to act as a detox for the gut and vacation for the body from the usual garbage we consume. It is just enough time for the little antibodies (the guys who react to the food you eat) in your immune system to turn over, freshly, cleanly, and happily- and for you to learn what they like and don’t like.

If you happen to drop a few pounds along the way, as many do, that is just a side effect! And, hopefully by the end you have learned a thing or two (or a million) about your body and maybe have picked up some healthy habits to carry with you beyond the experience! This is all about taking care of YOU. Giving yourself a clean, bright, beautiful place to live in for the rest of your life.

So, alright already- what is the Elimination Diet? Here are the basics:

  • Soy-free
  • Gluten-free
  • Dairy-free
  • Caffeine-free
  • Alcohol-free
  • Sugar-free
  • 23 Days

Here is the catch: I am also vegan.

So! Starting tomorrow, August first, I will be undergoing the Elimination Diet PLUS my usual vegan lifestyle (add meat-free). This means I cannot abide by the diet’s recommended 30% meat protein and 70% veggies. All “meat substitutes” are made of soy or gluten. Wah, wahhh.

Not to worry! I have a plan and I have the help of my favorite bloggers, my teensy kitchen, a lot of creativity and my mediocre cooking skills to get me by in a safe and healthy way. So we will call it the
Vegan Elimination Diet!

I will be blogging each week during the process to let you know how I am feeling, important or helpful tips I’ve picked up, and the highlight recipes I toyed with on a college kids budget that week! Yay! I am very nervous and very excited!

I cannot wait to discover what foods my body does not need in order to make room for what makes me flourish and glow, and I hope this inspires you to try the same! You deserve it. You do, you do, you do!

Wish me luck. You KNOW I will be enjoying a glass of wine tonight…

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