Vegan Recipes for Your Heart

Candice Billings: Holistic Nutritionist

It is estimated that over 600,000 people die from heart disease each year in the United States, making it the number one killer in the country. This disease is caused by plaque build up in the body’s artery walls, making it difficult for blood to flow properly throughout the body.

What many people do not realize is that heart disease is a nutrition related disease, meaning that what you put into your body each day heavily impacts your risk for developing heart disease.  The plaque that builds up in the arteries is caused by consuming foods that contain high levels of saturated fat, which causes your cholesterol level to rise.

One way  to significantly reduce your risk for heart disease is to avoid foods that are high in saturated fat.  Meat and dairy based foods are high in saturated fats, while plant based foods do not contain any saturated fats.

The following are some easy plant based recipes that you can use to substitute some of your favorite meat and dairy based foods.

To learn more about how nutrition affects your heart click here.

Vegetable and Tofu Scramble:

1 package (14 oz) extra firm tofu

2 bell peppers

1 large or 2 small sweet potato

2 cloves of minced garlic

1-2 cups of spinach

Vegetable broth

½ tablespoon of turmeric

¼ tsp cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Bring pot of water to a boil.  Wash and peel sweet potatoes, then dice into cubes.  Add sweet potatoes to pot of boiling water and cook until tender.  In a skillet add 1-2 tbsp of vegetable broth.  Add minced garlic and sauté until there is an aroma then add chopped green peppers and sauté until tender.  While peppers and sweet potatoes are cooking drain tofu and then crumble into a separate skillet.  Allow tofu to heat thoroughly, then add turmeric slowly until desired color.  Add cumin and salt and pepper.  When peppers and sweet potatoes are finished mix in with the tofu.  Add 1-2 cups of spinach and allow it to shrink down. Makes 4 servings.

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Butternut Squash Sauce with Macaroni:

2 cups cubed butternut squash (You can buy frozen already cubed, just thaw first)

2 cups whole grain pasta

2 cloves of minced garlic

1/4 cup cashew milk

3 tbsp nutritional yeast

4 tbsp vegetable broth

Salt and Pepper to taste

Heat small skillet with 2 tbsp of vegetable broth.  Add minced garlic and allow to slightly saute. If using a fresh butternut squash be sure bake in the oven until tender first.  I usually use frozen squash because it cuts down on prep time.  Add 2 cups of (thawed or baked) butternut squash to a blender or food processor.  Add cashew milk, nutritional yeast (more than recipe calls for if desired), remaining tbsp of vegetable broth, salt and pepper to taste, and blend until it forms a thick liquid.  Add the butternut squash sauce to a sauce pan and bring to simmer.  Once sauce is heated thoroughly pour over cooked macaroni pasta.  Add steamed broccoli or other vegetables if desired. Makes 4 servings.

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Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos

1-2 sweet potatoes

1 can of black beans (15oz)

Vegan whole wheat or corn tortillas

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 avocado

1/2 red onion

1 tomato

1 jalapeno

1 lime

Cilantro

Peel and then chop potatoes into cubes.  Bring pot of water to boil and add potato cubes. Drain and rinse black beans and add them to a large skillet on low to medium heat.  Once potatoes are tender add them to the black beans.  Add cumin, chili powder, garlic powder and let simmer.

Dice red onion, tomato and jalapeno.  In a small bowl add onion, tomato, jalapeno, chopped cilantro and lime juice from 1/2 lime, mix well.

Peel and slice avocado.

Once potato and black beans are heated and seasoned to your liking add them to a warm tortilla.  Top with fresh salsa and avocado slices.  Makes 4 servings.

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I hope these recipes were able to show you that substituting meat and dairy in your diet is not difficult and the outcome is delicious and also reduces your risk for disease!  Remember to think before you eat, and get daily exercise.

As always, thank you for reading.

Candice

 

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Candice is a certified holistic nutritionist focusing on a plant based lifestyle. After battling years of stomach pain and discomfort she was able to cure herself with a plant based lifestyle and is determined to spread awareness to others.  She is also a yoga practitioner, MPH student, urban garden volunteer, and a loving cat momma.

 

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Sacred Spaces: Rosemary Barria

Rosemary Barria: Holistic Life Coach/Yogini/Mom

Location: Kansas City, KS

Radiant Life will be featuring spaces where people find solitude, rest and inspiration once a month. I thought I would start with my own space since this month is my birthday and we haven’t asked anyone else yet. If you want to show us your space email us!

Before our son was born I had space all over the house including separate spaces to do work and another to do yoga and yet another for reading. Ridiculous I know! I reclaimed some space a few weeks ago and I am happy to say I like it better than my previous spaces, even if I feel like I am paying rent to Curby.

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Curby: The Landlord

Practice:

I start off mornings with a meditation of some kind and prefer to start off with silence. If I am feel really unfocused or have a special emotional need I may put on a guided meditation or do a kinesiology balance exercise given by one of my teachers Jessie Hays. A very important part of my practice has for a while been to clear out my chakras and to check in with my energy. I like chanting through each of the major chakras because sound changes me and I feel like it heals me. I would love to eventually have more bells and bowls to play tones with! I love using mantras and setting intentions and truly believe it has changed me.

I journal  everyday and find that is the best way for ideas to come out, for me to get to know myself and to problem solve. I also do a daily draw with tarot or oracle and journal about that too. Sometimes I share it with you on Instagram. If Sage, my baby, hasn’t woken up yet then I do yoga or some other form of bodyweight training. Sometimes I have to wait for his next nap, but I do movement of some kind every day. After all that if time allows, I work on something, write or learn. I do this all before or after my baby has gone to sleep, though I really prefer that awesome time of morning of 4am or 5 am. Sometimes my night owl self returns. Really as long as it is dark out I feel really creative and connected.

Even if you just have a table you call an altar and just enough room for a yoga mat like I do having a sacred space is so important. Here are little pieces of my sacred space…

 

 

 

Why I Will Never Go Back to a Vegetarian Diet

Candice Billings, Certified Holistic Nutritionist

Like the majority of Americans, I grew up in a household where eating meat and dairy was a normal part of our daily meals.  We had eggs with bacon or cereal with milk for breakfast.  We had deli sandwiches with potato chips for lunch.  For dinner it was chicken with mashed potatoes, or something of that sort.  We also had no shortage of soda, frozen treats, and other sugary or salty foods to snack on between meals.

I ate this way every day for the first half of my life and for as long as I can remember, I have suffered from intense gastrointestinal (GI) or digestive problems.  The symptoms would come on randomly after eating a meal.  I would have sharp pains in my digestive tract and feel extremely bloated, or I would be nauseous after eating.  Most of the time after eating I would also feel extremely fatigued.

I went to see different doctors throughout my childhood and my mother even had to take me to the emergency room a number of times because my stomach was in so much pain.  But even with having tests, scans, and blood work done no doctor was ever able to diagnose me or find anything wrong.

Although I did grow up in a household where meat was served at most meals, I never really enjoyed eating meat.  As I grew older I significantly cut meat out of my diet until I eventually was completely vegetarian.  I lived on a vegetarian diet for several years and I really thought that I was eating as healthy as I could.  But during this time my symptoms of pain and bloating, nausea and fatigue never went away.

A couple of years ago I decided to go see a new doctor because my pain was becoming more and more frequent.  This doctor recommended I have a colonoscopy procedure done so they could check for any abnormalities in my colon that could be causing my symptoms.  After my procedure my doctor told me that he was very surprised to have found a polyp inside my colon and he removed it and sent it off to be tested.  A polyp is an abnormal growth of tissue that grows inside the body that usually does not show any signs or symptoms and can go years without being detected.

After the results came back from the lab my doctor had me come back in for a follow-up appointment.  I was told that the tissue removed from my colon was pre-cancerous, which means that it was an early sign of colon cancer in my body.  If it would not have been removed it had the potential to turn into colon cancer.  My doctor told me I would need to have a colonoscopy every 3-5 years for the rest of my life in order to make sure pre-cancerous tissue does not come back.  As for the pain, bloating, and nausea I was suffering?  He was unable to diagnose me with anything, but wrote me a prescription for a pill I could take every day that would relax my colon to hopefully prevent pain.   That was the end of my appointment.

After this appointment I felt both startled and defeated.  Here I was, in my 20’s and already showing early signs of colon cancer.  It seemed to me like there was nothing I could do about it.  I would have to have screenings every 3-5 years just hoping that I didn’t develop this deadly disease.  This was terrifying.  I also felt defeated that once again, they were not able to find any reason for my stomach pain, so I would continue to have to live with that as well.

For the next few months I continued my regular life, including my eating habits of a vegetarian diet.  At this time I was studying public health in school, specifically about nutrition.  I was researching information for a paper I was writing and I happened to come across a book called The China Study.  This book caught my eye because it read on the cover “The most comprehensive study on nutrition ever conducted”.  This statement seemed very interesting to me and although I didn’t really know what to expect, I purchased the book and read it cover to cover.  I was blown away by the information!  This book taught me how important the relationship is between the foods you put into your body and the outcome of your health.  I continued digging deeper and found even more books with evidence-based nutrition studies that prove how the relationship between consuming meat and dairy promote not only colon and other cancerous growth, but heart disease, diabetes, obesity and tons of other diseases.

At this time, I was still on a vegetarian diet.  But like many vegetarians, dairy was a big part of my diet.  I also ate eggs for breakfast most days.  After reading this research I decided to try a completely plant-based diet and eliminate all animal products from my meals.

Within 1 week I was already feeling positive effects from changing my diet.  My energy and mood improved significantly.  So much so, that some people even commented on my energy level and I had not even told them I made any dietary changes!  Within 3 weeks I did not suffer from any more stomach pain.  No more bloating, no more nausea, no more fatigue!   A lifetime of living with these symptoms and no doctor was able to find anything wrong with me.  I removed dairy and within weeks I am cured of these symptoms!

I am sharing this story with you because I am hoping to spread a positive public health message.  We are told our entire lives that we need meat and dairy in our diet, when in fact, it is just not true.  At one point in time people thought that smoking cigarettes was harmless, and now we all know that smoking increases your risk for developing lung cancer.  The same exact thing holds true for consuming animal products.  There are hundreds upon thousands of evidence-based studies that prove animal products promote disease but fruits and vegetables prevent, treat, and have the ability to reverse disease.  I don’t think the message could be any clearer!  I don’t want you to just take my word for it, do your own research, or even just try to limit meat and dairy and incorporate more fruits and vegetables into your diet and see how you feel.  Like many people, I thought that I was eating a healthy diet and I had no idea the damage I was doing to my body.

If you are thinking about changing to a plant-based lifestyle but have no idea where to start, feel free to reach out to me through our website at radiantlifeproject.org.

As always, thank you for reading and allowing me to share my story with you.

-Candice

Books I have read and think you should read too:

  • The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted And the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, And Long-term Health
  • How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease
  • Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure
  • Keep It Simple, Keep It Whole: Your Guide To Optimum Health
  • Proteinaholic: How Our Obsession with Meat Is Killing Us and What We Can Do About It

IMG_3785Candice is a certified holistic nutritionist focusing on a plant based lifestyle. After battling years of pain and discomfort she was able to cure herself with a plant based lifestyle and is determined to spread awareness to others.  She is also a yoga practitioner, MPH student, urban garden volunteer, and a loving cat momma.

Habit: Morning Routine

I have had a morning routine for several years now and it is probably one of the best life decisions I have ever made. I like to stay up late…at least I used to, but now I like waking up early so much that I try to avoid staying up too late. The benefits of having habits you do every morning are numerous, but here are a few.

One: You get alone time no matter what happens the rest of your day.

Moms never get privacy or alone time once everyone is awake. When I was working full time and in school full time, I would have really suffered without this morning routine. I am a firm believer that EVERYONE needs alone time and not just introverts.

Two: You are more productive.

As a new mom I didn’t think it would be possible to accomplish all I can accomplish before 7:00am. Many mornings when I finish my routine, I have time to do laundry and write blog posts, film or edit videos. When my son wakes up, it feels really good to have already addressed some things on my to do list, as well as have invested in my self care. Of course there are other mornings, especially at first when sleep was more important, but even if it took me until noon, I kept these habits up.

Three: You have time for self-care.

Busy people like new moms or full time students really have a hard time investing in self-care. I know I always put this low on my list, but I made it a goal to incorporate self-care into my morning routine. Self-care is not to be taken lightly. Audre Lorde, says that “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” What does she mean? Is massaging my shoulders or taking a bath really that serious? Well it is. Women are more stressed than men  and are often the caretakers of others, even grown men…I dare say. It is crucial to find time to care for yourself and for me the best way has been mornings. Women are usually supposed to put everyone else first, even in the most well intentioned relationships.

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So…what do I do in the mornings? This has changed throughout the years, but I have a few standards.

One: Meditation or quiet time.

This is one that I wrote about last week and again I will say it changes day to day sometimes. Today I did a traditional meditation for 10 minutes. Sometimes I journal, make art , do oracle cards or read a spiritually focused book. I really like to use this time to focus and to reflect. One thing I am trying to do is to visualize success, rather than always asking myself for direction. I think all people need time for quiet and everyday. I think it is possible for everyone to get even 5 minutes of this. I like to light a candle or two and if I am feeling really not like doing this quiet time, I put on some music and sometimes I make tea.

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Two: Brush teeth and take care of face.

I start with doing a tongue scrap, then I brush my teeth. I love the feeling of clean teeth. What happens to our mouths overnight anyway?!  I also do a compress on my face with essential oils and warm water. Lately I have been using a lavender and tangerine essential oils. Then I moisturize my face with a blend of hemp, rose and lavender oil that I made. Lastly, I massage my shoulders and wrists especially with that oil blend or coconut oil. It is kind of indulgent, but super simple at the same time.

Three: Movement.

I wake up every morning and do some movement. Usually this is my favorite activity of yoga and I do anything from one sun salutation, to five or if I am not going to a class later, a full 40 minutes. Before I had Sage, my yoga practice was 90 minutes, but that is nearly impossible now unless I leave the house. I usually wrap up my practice with savasana and breath work called pranayama.

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Three: Hydrate.

Mike, my partner and I are currently challenging ourselves to try to drink a gallon a day. I am winning, but even if I don’t get to a gallon, it is helping me hydrate more. It is important to hydrate yourself and I feel it if I don’t. Imagine you have gone 8 hours without water, so get that water and fast!

Four: Breakfast.

Usually Sage is awake by the time I get to this step. If Mike is home we eat breakfast together. Usually though I am eating on the floor with Sage as he plays. I don’t have a cooked breakfast much anymore because it just doesn’t work out to watch a baby and cook at the same time. I am beyond burnt out on smoothies so typically I eat a fruit bowl  with seeds or banana nice cream with berries and nuts. I wasn’t always good at eating breakfast, but it is an important part of my day now.

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Five: Work on most important task or write.

If Sage hasn’t woken up then I start writing unless I have something important due that day that I haven’t finished. I also like to do one load of laundry a day. We cloth diaper, so this is how we maintain that system. Anyway, I write best late at night or early in the morning. I really like to be all there with Sage, so I try not to work or exercise while he is awake. If I don’t get to work in the morning, it happens during nap time. I really like working in the early morning though because I can get more finished because I am so focused at that time of day.

Six: Play.

Even if you don’t have a baby we should make time to play as research is showing. Brene Brown says that it is more important than us type A personalities realize. Play is unstructured and a way for us to lose track of time doing something we enjoy. I love reading and learning so as nerdy as it sounds that really is play for me, but now that I have a baby I have gotten a lot goofier and fun during my play time. I am a lucky mom because I have a laid back, happy baby and he is teaching me to be goofy. I also try to remember to play with my fur children who are also very goofy.

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Seven: Walk.

We like to go to the park on mornings when we can together as a family. It really helps us stay connected to nature and to each other. I wish we lived in a forest or near mountains, but since we don’t our connection to nature has to be intentional on our part. When it’s just me, our dog (Ceci) and Sage we still take a walk, it’s just not as pretty. Sage really loves walks and of course Ceci does.

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These are the things I do in the morning. It seems like a lot, but the first three are usually finished in less than an hour and the rest happen on good days, which is now thankfully most days. I slip into being a night owl once in a while and I always regret it. Staying up late is not as magical as waking up early to me. Hopefully this helped you out and maybe you can start doing one of these things if you don’t already. We would love to hear from you!

Find the corresponding video here.

-Rosemary Barria

 

 

 

 

 

Habit: Demystifying Meditation

-Rosemary Barria

Meditation is often seen as one crossing their legs in lotus on a special pillow, at a special time of day and in special clothing, but meditation can be so many things. Candice defined it beautifully when we were working this weekend “Anything that can get you from thinking of the past or the future and can let you be in the now is meditation.” Some people think it best to empty your mind, some find it useful to visualize and to focus on one thing, some chant, some sing, some do any of the many variations of movement, such as yoga, tai chi or even running. Some people meditate while finding flow in their work. My friend Alison, an artist , made a piece that I thought was a beautiful visual of meditation where she knit in a performance. She called it active prayer.

I used to be strict about knowing the “best” way to meditate. I wonder now if that search for doing things just right kept me from actually meditating some days. A phrase came to me a few months ago “The practice should work for you, you should not work for the practice”  Now I think if  I wake at 5 am going directly to my mat sitting crossed legged because I am supposed to than this would defeat the purpose, so instead when I open my eyes, often times now while nursing my son I check in with myself and see what the best use of time that morning will be. I always meditate though. By this I mean that I always spend time in quiet.  Do I journal, do a guided meditation, just breathing exercises, do I chant, do I make something, do I jump right into yoga or walking, do I work with oracle cards? It depends on the day. More often than not it looks the same for a few weeks until I decide and feel that I need something else or Sage (my 6 month old) starts teething and I have to meditate with him. We did a lot of meditation together at first and laying down. I call it meditation because I wasn’t asleep.

Regardless of how you meditate,  I believe committing to some time during the day for quiet is so important. For me waking early is the best and sometimes at night too. Check in with yourself, experiment, but whatever you do make time for quiet away from your phone, away from anyone else, away from anything that isn’t giving you peace for the day. Commit to a time and make it non-negotiable. If you have to hide in your bathroom then do it! To me meditation is a way I heal myself so that I can heal others. By the way, healing is not this special thing only certain people can do. We are all healers and I believe that healing happens daily. Just as our skin regenerates, so does our soul or whatever you want to call that magic you have. You may not notice the affects of meditation right away, but you will definitely notice if you have been away from it. I know I do and I know my partner does! So find your practice, play around with it and quit being all serious with what you do, but be serious that about the commitment to do it. You deserve it! If you aren’t spiritual than do it for your brain.

We are doing an Instagram challenge. How do you find quiet? Find us on Instagram @radiantlifeproject and share a photo, tag us and we will send someone a gift basket to help you with meditation! Contest goes from today (Friday) June 10th to Monday June 13th. Winner will be announced Tuesday  June 14th!