Thursday, April 21, 2011

Blogger Giveaway! Unprocessed by Chef A.j. and a few F.A.Q.s Answered

Today's super duper awesome giveaway is a copy of Unprocessed, complements of no-oil vegan chef extraordinaire, Chef A.j.

Thanks Chef A.j. for making this possible!

In order to enter to win the prize, you must be an e-mail subscriber or RSS feed subscriber to Healthy Girl's Kitchen (if you aren't already, you can do that over there on the left margin of the blog) AND you must answer the questions at the bottom of this posting. Winner will be chosen from valid entries and will be selected at random. Contest will close on Wednesday, April 27th at 5 pm EST and winner will be announced on Thursday, April 28th no later than 9 am EST.

I also want to thank Alipet813 for inspiring the contest question. In a comment made to Part II of my Dr. Neal Barnard Lecture blog posting, Alipet813 asked me the following questions:

"Were you a big meat eater before? I grew up on a farm and I am big on meat. However, the more I read the more I know I need to cut it way back. How do I do that without feeling deprived? I would love your advice. Your recipes are always wonderful."

Well, Alipet, you caught me! I have to admit it, I was never a big meat eater. In fact, I was vegetarian for an entire decade. Once I found out how animals were treated on factory farms, I stopped eating their flesh almost immediately, but still ate all forms of dairy and eggs. And it wasn't hard for me to do because I have never been a craver of any form of meat.

Now before you tune out what I have to say, I want you to know that my personal challenge when it comes to healthy eating is staying away from dessert. Now if you want to know how I went from a daily sweet eater into a rarely eat sweets eater, see this post and this post. I promise you, if you want to eliminate meat from your diet, you will be able to, but it does take PATIENCE and PERSISTENCE. And even then, it doesn't mean that you will NEVER eat meat again for the rest of your life. You may choose to eat it on occasion. But it will never again have the hold on you that it does now. If I could conquer sugar, I believe anyone can conquer any food "addiction."

"Sometimes my busy schedule and the fact that I am new to changing my eating habits means I don't have a lot of the ingredients on hand and makes it a bit expensive or overwhelming. However, I am definitely using your tips for new veggie based meal ideas."

Stick with it! The more you cook from the plant strong, unprocessed cookbooks and blogs, the easier and easier it becomes. There are MANY times now where I will see a recipe and already have all of the ingredients on hand. This will happen for you too. It just occurs naturally. You will begin to gravitate towards recipes that have the flavor profiles that you love and you will start to see those flavor profiles reoccurring in many author's recipes. I for one really like chickpeas and sweet potatoes and I can't begin to tell you how many different dishes I have made combining the two ingredients from so many different bloggers and cookbook authors.

A good thing to get into the habit of doing is substituting ingredients in a recipe for what you have on hand. For example, if a recipe calls for fresh lime juice and all you have are fresh lemons, well, just go ahead and juice those. Currants called for in a salad and you don't stock 'em in your pantry? Put raisins in the dish. You get the picture. The more you cook this way, the easier and easier it gets.

I have been asked to do a post on what I keep in my pantry and it might be a great time to do that. I would also like to blog about the staples that I keep in my fridge and freezer.

"One more question...did you cut out oil? I am confused about this part of the healthy eating beliefs. I would love more info on that or a link to somewhere in your blog that you may have already discussed it."

Yes, approximately one year ago I basically cut out most oil from my diet. I say "most" because I continue to eat in restaurants 5 days a week for lunch and about once a week for dinner. All restaurants use oil and salt. I have never heard of an oil free restaurant. I also continue to eat hummus--of all brands and varieties--not just the tahini free ones (tahini is a ground sesame seed butter and is almost 100% fat). I am just not ready for that level of commitment. Occasionally I will have a cheese substitute from the company Daiya which is just oil disguised as cheese. I try to stay away from Earth Balance (although I do let one of my kids eat it as a transition food) because it too is just 100% oil that is being sold to the consumer as a health food. Shame on them.

I no longer cook at all with oil, but will occasionally spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray if I think something is going to stick. I also make a lot of my own oil free salad dressings in my VitaMix blender.

It is very easy to transition away from oil. You can saute in broth, water or juice very easily. Read about it here and here. For salad dressings, just do a search for no oil salad dressing on this blog or even on google and you will find a lot of ideas.

I do eat avocados, nuts and seeds, but I do try hard to eat these things in moderation. They are extremely high in calories, but at least they are loaded with nutrition. Processed oil--which includes extra virgin olive oil and canola oil--is not a health food. To borrow a phrase from Rip Esselstyn, "Olive oil is the triumph of marketing over science." For more on the subject, pick up a copy of Dr. Esselstyn's book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease or if you are lucky enough to see him speak in person, grab the chance. It was hearing Dr. Esselstyn speak that convinced me to go vegan almost entirely and also to eliminate oil from my diet, again, almost entirely. If I had any symptoms of heart disease I would eliminate oil totally and entirely.
So here it is folks, the questions that you must answer to enter the blogger giveaway . . .
Are you cutting meat and dairy, oil or processed foods out of your diet? If so, which ones?  And how difficult is this for you (scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being really, really hard)? Do you have ideas on how to cut out meat, dairy, oil or processed food without feeling deprived?

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