I was a chubby kid. My parents, though well intentioned, did not put nutrition at the forefront of our childhood meals and we ate an awful lot of t.v. dinners and food court meals. By the time I started university I was carrying an extra 20 lbs and was not happy with my general health. A year or two later I decided to try Weight Watchers and take up running. It was the perfect combo for me and I found a healthy weight for my frame and was fitter than I had probably ever been in my life.
Fast forward to now. I’m a mom of two and I am tried. I try to get to my hot yoga classes at least 3-4 times and week and that means most of them are later in the evening and my dinner schedule is messed up. I default to easy. Cereal is easy. Toast is easy. You get the idea. I realized that I was basically consuming processed sugar at a rate that was almost staggering considering my general outlook on healthy living and eating. I knew I needed a change.
I try to follow a mostly vegan diet (I make exceptions when we eat out and for the occasional dessert) and even that wasn’t cutting it. After some very extensive and careful research I decided the Pegan diet was exactly what I needed. What is the Pegan diet? It is a Paleo-Vegan diet that excludes dairy, grains and sugar. I don’t eat meat, but have included some beans and quinoa as a substitution even though they are generally frowned upon in a Paleo diet. So what are the benefits of this diet? Dr Mark Hyman breaks it down quite nicely:
- Very low glycemic load – low in sugar, flour and refined carbohydrates of all kinds.
- High in vegetables and fruits. The deeper the colors, the more variety, the better. This provides a high phytonutrient content protective against most diseases. (Although the Paleo camp recommends lower glycemic fruit such as berries.)
- Low in pesticides, antibiotics and hormones and probably no or low GMO foods.
- No chemicals, additives, preservatives, dyes, MSG, artificial sweeteners and other “Franken Chemicals” that you would never have in your pantry.
- Higher in good quality fats – omega 3 fats for all. And most camps advise good quality fats from olive oil, nuts, seeds and avocados. Although some, such as Drs. Esselstyn and Ornish still advise very low fat diets for heart disease reversal.
- Adequate protein for appetite control and muscle synthesis, especially in the elderly.
- Ideally organic, local and fresh foods should be the majority of your diet.
- If animal products are consumed they should be sustainably raised or grass fed.
- If you are eating fish you should choose low mercury and low toxin containing fish such as sardines, herring and anchovies or other small fish and avoid tuna, swordfish and Chilean sea bass because of the high mercury load.
So far I have lost 5 lbs and I feel great. It has been two weeks and I have yet to feel hungry and I have not eaten a single processed food. I have been cooking and baking far more than I had been which has been a huge benefit for the kids as well and my big kid has been begging for more of the brownies I made. If I can get a 7 year old boy to beg for a Paleo and vegan brownie, I feel like something is going right. Since they were such a hit, I have included the recipe below.
- 1/2 cup melted coconut oil (unrefined if possible)
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 2-4 oz unsweetened dark chocolate (I used a Camino Baking Bar)
- 3/4 cup maple syrup (or honey if you don't mind them not being vegan)
- 2 flax eggs, (or actual eggs if you aren't vegan)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 cup coconut flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
1)Preheat oven to 350° and line a 12 pocket muffin tin with parchment paper style liners.
2)In a medium saucepan, combine coconut oil, cocoa powder, and unsweetened chocolate. Heat oven medium heat, whisking until mixture is smooth and no lumps remain.
3)Take off the heat and stir in the maple syrup or honey. The mixture should start to slightly thicken.
4)Add in the flax eggs and vanilla and mix well.
5)Add in the coconut flour, and salt. Stir until no dry pockets remain.
6)Pour into prepared pan and bake for 20-25 minutes.
7)Let cool in the pan and transfer to the freezer. They will firm up and this step is critical to their texture and consistency. If you want to eat them warm they will be more like lava cakes and who doesn't like those but for a brownie the freezer is needed. They will stay soft even fresh out of the freezer, have no fear!
What else am I eating? I have been making amazing quinoa salads, muffins and breads using almond and coconut flour as well as treats like avocado pudding. I have also been eating a ton of fruit and veggies and I am also having one or two servings of beans on most days.
I have committed to eating this way for 8 weeks. I will reassess at that point but I have a suspicion that I will try to eat this way 80% of the time and allow myself some leeway so that we can enjoy restaurant meals without having to ask for a ton of substitutions or changes since chefs tend to absolutely hate that! I feel like this is a diet (and I use that term loosely) that I can stick to without feeling deprived or struggle with.
What type of special food plan or diet do you follow? Why do you think it works best for you?