Let's talk about my cholesterol, shall we?
Well, actually, I don't have much to say about it because I'm not a doctor. But what I will say is that since switching to a plant-based diet two years ago my overall cholesterol has dropped form 200 to 160! That's pretty cool in my opinion. I remember the day I found out my cholesterol was 200. I was so shocked when my doctor said my cholesterol was on the high side. I was in my early 20s, active, and ate--at least what I thought--was a healthy diet. I don't remember if she gave me any recommendations of things to do to lower my cholesterol, so I just kept eating the same foods: lots of low-fat yogurts, light bread, low-calorie pretzels, skim milk, processed lunch meat etc. It definitely could have been due to some genetics, but my eating habits also played a roll.
It's amazing how my idea of healthy has changed! Instead of being duped by packaging claims on certain foods such as "hearty-healthy," "low-fat," "whole-grain," or "fat-free," I mainly shop in the produce department where nutrition labels aren't even needed. If I do buy a packaged product, I'm careful to look at the all of the ingredients to make sure I'm okay eating everything inside. And to be honest, when it comes to certain vegan friendly foods, I'm not sold. If you look back at some of my older recipes, you'll see that I started out using vegan butter, white flour, and store bought sauces. Now, I prefer to use natural sweeteners, whole grains and homemade sauces and dressing. In fact, when it comes to my husband (who doesn't follow a plant-based/vegan diet), I would prefer that he eats real butter over processed vegan butter.
It's all about the whole foods, y'all.
I'm sure most of you agree with me, but I wish I had known sooner!
But more than my cholesterol, I'm amazed at how drastically my lifestyle, mindset, and diet has changed. I used to have the biggest sweet tooth and pretzel addiction. I would crave something rich and sweet every night and I would try to curb my appetite with low-calorie, crunchy pretzels. In fact, once I switched over to a plant-based diet, those were the hardest things to stop eating. But over the years my tastebuds have slowly changed for the better. Yes, I still occasionally enjoy a vegan baked good or a handful of pretzels at a friends house, but I don't need them like I used to.
It's been cool to see how my eating habits have affected my husband as well. While he doesn't follow a plant-based diet, and I don't think he ever will, he is more conscious of his food choices now. We try to buy organic, grass-fed eggs, and unsweetened yogurts when we can. If we do buy lunch meat (which is rare) we opt for organic as well. When I can, I make non-dairy milk, granola, salsas, and dressings at home. Brett now looks at ingredient labels too and knows to stay away from high fructose corn syrup...among other things:)
Yet the coolest thing I've discovered from following a plant-based diet these past two years is that I don't ever feel deprived. A lot of people ask me if I miss eating certain food, and I can honestly say that I don't! My taste buds have completely changed. If I do find myself craving something processed, I now know fun and creative ways to reinvent those old foods that I used to eat, but with a healthy, plant-based spin. Now I can enjoy not only enjoy my food, but also feel happy and energetic afterwards too.
Take ice cream for instance. By simply blending up some frozen bananas in a food processor or blender you can have delicious and nutritious ice cream that's healthy enough for breakfast! And when you put chocolate overnight oats on the bottom and a cherry on top, you may just start thinking it's time for dessert.
Oh yeah. Chocolate Overnight Oats with Banana Ice Cream. For breakfast.
Get in my belly!
Chocolate Overnight Oats
- 1 ripe, mashed banana
- ½ tablespoon cacao powder*
- ½ tablespoon chia seeds
- ½ cup rolled oats
- ¾ cup non-dairy milk or water
Banana Ice Cream
- 2 bananas, frozen in chunks
- (optional) 1 tablespoon cacao powder
- fresh cherries
- shredded coconut
- The night before, prepare the Chocolate Overnight Oats by mashing 1 ripe banana with ½ tablespoon cacao powder in a bowl. Add in the chia seeds, oats, and liquid and stir thoroughly to combine. Let the oats sit overnight until thickened.
- The next morning, divide the oats into two glasses and prepare your banana ice cream by processing the frozen bananas (and optional cacao powder) until smooth ice cream. You will probably need to stop your processor occasionally and push down the sides of the bowl.
- Top the Chocolate Overnight Oats with the Banana Ice Cream, garnish with desired toppings, and eat immediately
*Cocoa powder works too!
**Prep time doesn't include soaking the oatmeal overnight.