Lose Weight While Eating Cheese!

 

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Photo by CC0 Creative Commons on Pixabay

Many weight loss diets will recommend that you avoid cheese because it is high in fat, and even many vegan cheeses sold in stores are processed and filled with ingredients that add more calories than nutritional value. That does not mean that cheese has no place in a weight loss diet, in fact, I would like to know who says vegans have to cut the cheese?

 

Some homemade vegan cheeses can actually be a great addition to your weight loss plan if you know how to create and integrate them into your meals!

I personally love this recipe for homemade almond cheese. The recipe says it is meant to imitate feta cheese; however, I use this recipe as a beginning point for my own creations. I always add four to five tablespoons of nutritional yeast (one of my favorite ingredients to work with, otherwise known as “nooch” and not to be confused with brewer’s yeast), a dash of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, and I swap out the lemon juice it calls for with a bit of apple cider vinegar to taste.

Some amazing renditions I have come up with include:

  • Sundried tomato and basil (fresh basil is best for this!)
  • Garlic and bruschetta
  • Hot peppered: for this one, I use amazing fresh locally grown extra hot peppers from my neighborhood farmer’s market

The hardest part of this recipe is just blending the ingredients to the right consistency.  I use a high power Ninja blender and it still takes time, patience and practice. Do not let the many other almond cheese recipes online fool you, you do not necessarily have to blanch your almonds or soak them overnight. If you would like a more smooth consistency it is ideal, but I never do and I have had no complaints!

This cheese is great for facilitating weight loss if you do not go overboard with it. Try making it the star of your snack or where most of your protein comes from in your meal. With it being loaded with protein from the almonds, healthy fats occurring in the olive oil and nuts,  probiotics from the apple cider vinegar and packed with nutrition from the “nooch,” this cheese will not waste your calories! A little bit will definitely go a long way!

If you in the mood for a more nacho-style cheese try this recipe I created myself:

In your high-power blender blend together:

  • 1 can white beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1/2 cup veggie broth
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 5 tablespoons “nooch”
  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard (dijon would work too)
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt (less in you prefer)
  • 2 tablespoons vegan sour cream (optional)
  • 1 small gold onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic (to taste)
  • A few shakes of Bragg’s Liquid Aminos

This recipe works great in Mexican dishes, as a dip for fresh veggies or multigrain chips or anything else you can think of! This cheese can still help you along the way to losing weight because it is loaded with protein from the beans! And, as always, moderation is key!

 

The Top 5 Diet Rules

 

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Photo by CC0 Creative Commons found on Pixabay 

 

Weight loss is not as easy as cutting calories, choosing items labeled “diet” or even simply avoiding carbohydrates. Even though every person’s body reacts differently to nutritional changes, I invite you to consider the following diet rules that can apply to almost everyone.

  1. Don’t count the calories, make the calories count! Yes, restricting calories is one way to lose weight, but if you are not getting the right nutrients in the calories you are consuming, your food will not get you far.
  2. Eat FAT: When people hear “diet” their knee-jerk reaction is often to reach for fat-free this and reduced fat that. The right fats are actually essential to not just life, but losing weight. The human body thrives on certain fats for brain food and energy. This philosophy is actually part of the basis for the ketogenic diet, a craze that is currently sweeping the dieting word.
  3. Eat for energy: Try making simple whole food meals to find out which ingredients give you the right amount of energy to get you through the day. For me, I eat my carbohydrates at the beginning of the day because I have the rest of the day to burn them off. I often start my day with some quinoa and walnuts, my energy food. Avoid foods that put you in a “food coma” while trying to lose weight.
  4. Focus on how you feel rather than the number on the scale: I know, the temptation to step on your scale to check your progress is there every time you enter your bathroom, but it’s a trap! Weighing yourself too often can hurt your journey! If the scale does not budge you could get discouraged and give up. Instead, focus on feeling good, having more energy and nourishing your body. Be good to your body and your body will be good to you. Also, a better indication of progress on a weight loss journey is actually how your clothes fit you, not how the number on your scale changes.
  5. Drink water! Water will help flush out toxins your body is riddled with that help the pounds add up. Drinking more water regularly will help you gain more energy too! Instead of loading up of artificially sweetened drinks and caffeine, reach for water as much as possible. There are lots of ways to make your water more exciting too!

Game Day Cheat Day Vegan Style!

There is an art to having a “cheat day”  or, as some people prefer, a “cheat meal.” The Dodgers making it to game seven of the World Series is a perfect occasion for this southern California girl to give an example of how to enjoy some vegan food without ruining any progress you may have made in your weight loss journey!

I am going to completely go against what I previously said in a post about sticking to whole foods and avoiding processed foods, but before you call me a hypocrite, remember that this is why it is a cheat meal, it is okay to break the rules.

For me, the key to a satisfying, but not sabotaging, cheat meal is:

  • It is something you want
  • It is something you are excited about
  • The food will be “worth it”
  • You do not go completely all out with the most unhealthy junk you can find (substitute the most diet-friendly, but still satisfying foods wherever you can)
  • Stick to proper portion sizes.

In honor of the World Series, we are having chili cheese dogs, fries and coleslaw. Sort of.

Rather than regular french fries, which typically have limited nutritional value, I swapped in these delicious veggie fries that happen to come in a variety of vegetable combinations. I went for the kale, Tuscan herb and potato combination, and I baked them instead of deep frying them to avoid excessive unnecessary fat.

 

 

Rather than using the typical vegan hot dog stand-in, the tofu dog or the veggie dog, I picked up the Field Roast frankfurter. I have been loving this brand a lot lately because it is soy-free, which is difficult to manage in a vegan product. I love that there are many brands emerging with soy-free products because too much soy can be bad for your diet and definitely does not help your weight loss efforts.

 

I used this can of premade chili because it is tasty and inexpensive, but you can likely make your own that would be far healthier!

 

 

Any vegan cheddar cheese shreds would be sufficient, but I recommend choosing a nut-based cheese like the brand “Nut Cheese” (I’m not kidding, this is what it’s called!). This makes use of the calories because you get extra protein from the nuts while also consuming healthy fat.

You can choose to have a bun for a traditional style, or if you want to really be calorie conscious, you can omit the bread completely by slicing the dog and putting chili with it in a bowl topped with cheese.
For the coleslaw, my mom and I used a combination of all organic cabbage, carrots, red onion, cilantro and arugula blended together using a food processor. We then added Veganaise (vegan mayonnaise), spices, rice wine vinegar, lemon juice and bitchin’ sauce (if you have not heard of this please check it out, it is life changing). Personally, I am not a coleslaw fan but I really enjoy how this turned out.

 

 

This super tasty game-time food made me feel a part of game day while also letting me feel guilty of diet-appropriate indulgence!

 

 

Become a Lean Machine By Eating Greens

 

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Photo by CC0 Creative Commons found on Pixabay

Many leafy greens are powerful superfoods that facilitate healthy weight loss while maintaining nutrition; however, not all green giants are friendly in the dieting world.

 

Stick to this list of greens that will help you shed weight, while still giving you the goods carnivores/omnivores get from eating animals and animal products:

  • Green cabbage– This is a fiber-rich food that also contains folate, manganese, and vitamin C. True to the reputation for being an ingredient peasants can create a meal out of, this veggie will fill you up!
  • Avocados– These delicious and buttery pieces of heaven used to have a bad reputation for being “fattening.” After further investigation, avocados are now known for possessing the awesome power of melting belly fat due to a surplus of monosaturated fatty acids in addition to other nutrients such as vitamin E, folic acid, and potassium. They also, of course, contain a significant amount of fiber, the nutrient that will help ward off hunger.
  • Kale– People like to make mean jokes about kale, often scaring people away from even giving it a chance. Those who run miss out on the perfect blend of calcium and iron that makes nutritionist praise the vegetable’s ability to make waistlines slimmer.

There are an abundance of ways to sneak these foods into any dish, and before you realize you are eating something that you once thought to be gross you will be reaping the benefits of it!

THE TRUTH ABOUT VEGANISM TODAY

Being vegan is hard. Not because you “can’t eat cheese” or you “miss meat” or any other ignorant misconception that people have about vegans. Veganism is not even hard because there is nothing to eat but “rabbit food,” but actually because there is so much to eat these days as a vegan! It gives vegans a problem the brown-rice-and-tofu-only-eating vegans of yesteryear never had: the fat vegan.

After a bit of further examination into the modern-day vegan food selections, anyone who knows anything about nutrition will know that vegans have become just as much of guilty culprits of eating processed foods as carnivores/omnivores. Take a look at some of the super tasty, but super processed foods vegans get to lust after:

 

gardein chicken patties

Photo by Vegan Essentials

 

Ingredients: Gardein (water, soy protein concentrate, expeller pressed canola oil, non-GMO vital wheat gluten, non-GMO soy protein isolate, textured wheat protein [wheat gluten, wheat starch], modified vegetable gum, yeast extract, sea salt, natural vegan flavors, organic ancient grain flour [Kamut khorasan wheat, amaranth, millet, quinoa], potato starch, onion powder, organic cane sugar, garlic powder, vinegar, pea protein, carrot fiber, beetroot fiber, extractives of paprika and turmeric), Breading (enriched wheat flour [enriched with niacin, ferrous sulfate, thiamine mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid], water, leavening [sodium bicarbonate, cream of tartar], non-bone char sugar, yeast, salt, extractives of turmeric, extractives of paprika and annatto

 

vegan shrimp

Photo by Vegan Essentials

 

Ingredients: Konjac powder, non-bone char brown sugar, maltodextrin, mushroom extract, sea salt, non-GMO soy protein, sunflower oil, marine flavor seasoning (yeast extract, sucrose, D-Xylose, coconut oil, cassava starch), sesame oil, spices, red yeast color, red yeast rice extract, white pepper, potato starch, rosemary oil, paprika color

 

FYH

Photo by Vegan Essentials

 

Provolone ingredients: Filtered water, coconut oil, modified food starch, potato starch, sea salt, natural vegan flavors, olive extract, beta carotene (natural vegan color)
Garden Herb ingredients: Filtered water, coconut oil, modified food starch, potato starch, sea salt, thyme, oregano, natural vegan flavors, olive extract, beta carotene (natural vegan color)
American ingredients: Filtered water, coconut oil, modified food starch, potato starch, sea salt, natural vegan flavors, olive extract, paprika extract, beta carotene (natural vegan color)
Mozzarella ingredients: Filtered water, coconut oil, modified food starch, potato starch, sea salt, natural vegan flavors, olive extract, beta carotene (natural vegan color)

All of these are examples of cruelty-free yummies that are so easy to substitute for the real thing, and that makes them convenient, tempting, and positively addicting. That is the problem with these: like many processed foods, there are recognizable ingredients that seem healthy enough, but upon closer examination, there are some ingredients most people would not know without a Google search, and others definitely do not seem like they will help you stay a skinny vegan.

To put it simply: this stuff is the vegan version of JUNK FOOD.

Just like carni style junk food, when eaten regularly, this stuff will make you fat, which brings us to another vegan truth: just because it is vegan does not mean it is healthy (sorry to disappoint you!).

These days, many people think to themselves, “I’ll try going vegan for a while to help me lose weight.” Most of the time they fail.

3 MAIN REASONS WHY THIS HAPPENS:

  1. They assume the aforementioned truth and just eat anything that is labeled “vegan” without regard to calories, ingredients, nutrition, or a number of other important weight management factors
  2. They simply cut out animal products without replacing the nutritional value they contributed to their dietary needs
  3. They become completely malnourished, resulting in weakness, loss of concentration and energy, and massive cravings for exactly what they are trying to avoid

To fix this problem, eat fewer processed foods. For me personally, I am trying to lose the baby weight from pregnancy while also keeping up with breastfeeding so my calorie needs are a bit different than others, and aim for at least 80% whole foods every day. That does not mean I do not indulge in a fake meat meal every now once in a while! As with any effective diet, moderation matters!