A Glance into the Vegan Life

A few friends of mine recently turned vegan and noticed an improvement with weight management, an increase in energy, and feel overall much healthier…so I thought I’d give it a try for a month to see how it made me feel.

Here’s how it went for me…

WARNING: You may become very hungry after reading this post.  It’s all about FOOD.

WEEK 1 – Start date: November 3rd

It was a bit of a rocky start, as it took time to become reaaaaaaally aware of ingredients…and there were a few oversights because of things I automatically cook with during meal prep, such as oyster sauce and Better than Bouillon chicken stock, which are now blatantly obvious! lol

On November 4th, we watched Georges St Pierre fight, at a sports bar.  Not many vegan options, as you could assume.  We had onion rings and yam fries…not very healthy and now that I think about it, it was likely not deep-fried in a vegan way either.

The following day I made up for it by going to the Vancouver Health Show, learning some things and discovering some vegan food products, such as “pulled pork” using young jackfruit instead of pork.  Also picked up amazing vegan dumplings from one the vendors, House of Yee.  Later that evening, I went for happy hour drinks at Earls Kitchen and had a delicious Quinoa & Avocado Powerbowl, while I watched my family eat chicken wings, tuna poke, and meat pasta.  I love all those things but luckily the powerbowl tasted amazing, so I was barely even phased.

That week, I meal prepped more powerbowls.  I admit, I became a little obsessed with powerbowls…because they were so yummy, so colourful, and so easy to prepare!  The powerbowls consisted of chickpeas, quinoa, orange peppers, cucumber, spinach, corn, and avocado…and then I had it with hot sauce.  I pretty much ate these for lunch and dinner until I became tired of them.

WEEK 2

After a week or so, I started to get the hang of it and was better at catching myself from eating things with eggs or dairy hidden in them.  I also was pleasantly surprised at how restaurants are able to cater to veganism.  I went to Hapa Izakaya with a couple friends, and the server pointed out all the vegan-friendly options AND had the kitchen make a few off-menu items just for us.  We ended up enjoying a roll, a salad, a stone rice bowl , yaki udon, and a whole lot of sake.  It was a great night.

The next day was my niece’s birthday, so knowing that there would be nothing we could eat there, we went to Jinya Ramen Bar for the Spicy Creamy Vegan Ramen (add corn), my new favourite dish!  Then after playing with the kids for 3 hours, we had worked up an appetite, so we went to a nearby sushi joint to have a few vegan rolls.  Later that night, some friends & I enjoyed a big meal at The Naam in Kits, a vegetarian restaurant with live music on the weekends!

The next day, I went to Virtuous Pie with the same vegan homies from the previous night.  On Monday’s, they have all-day happy hour with select pizzas and wine on special!  This place is amazing, whether you’re vegan or not.  And then the day after that, we went for vegan hot pot at Little Sheep Hot Pot.  They have a vegan broth (which comes out clear as water, but don’t worry, it becomes more flavourful throughout your meal) and a huge selection of veggies and sides that you can order a-la-carte.

For lunches, I prepped powerbowls again.  Quick, easy, and delicious. Pretty much used the same ingredients, but then I became a little tired of them by the end of the week again.  This is when I realized I needed to become more creative when cooking vegan meals!

On Friday, I finally went to try Melu Juice Bar with a girlfriend.  Had their lunch combo that came with juice (I had The Hulk), a salad (Undercover Curried Rice w/ Zoodles), and a health bar (Salted Pecan Pie).  Everything tasted sooooo good, and the shop is really cute too!

WEEK 3

On November 18th, we decided to take a break from veganism and enjoy all the things at Pan Pacific’s Opera Buffet.  It was a fantastic meal and made me realize that I’m okay with incorporating some meat back into my diet.  I had really been missing fish!  Dairy and red meat, I could live without…and especially being lactose-intolerant, I try to stay away, and take a Lactaid pill only when absolutely worth it.

The next day, I meal prepped chickpeas, butternut squash, spaghetti squash, and zucchini for my lunches.  It was a nice change, and still super simple to prepare!

My lunches were healthy but I was finding that the rest of my meals were quite carby, since most vegan options I craved were noodle dishes or vegan pizza.  I hadn’t noticed many health benefits yet, other than feeling less gross or heavy after meals.  The difference was more noticeable after eating out, like having vegan ramen vs chicken ramen.

WEEK 4

It was around this time where I decided to be 86% VEGAN – that’s 3 meals a week where I can have meat.  I was missing sashimi like you wouldn’t believe…and then I was magically treated to sashimi and sushi rolls at Tojo’s!  If you haven’t been, you must go.

Following that weekend, my lunches were consistently healthy and vegan, and my dinners were either salad or noodles, depending on cravings or who I was dining with.

And here we are after a month of veganism.  It has definitely tapered off (maybe about 50% vegan now) and I decided to go back to eating meat because I felt like I was missing something from my diet.  My eczema came back in full force and I found myself craving heavy carbs again… but on the plus side, this vegan trial made me want to eat cleaner and get more creative with my meal preps.  I made butternut squash for the first time, and I loved it.   I dine often with my vegan homies, so there are still many more restaurant/recipe discoveries to be made!

So there’s a glance into the vegan life… and some really awesome vegan restaurant recommendations for all you foodies out there!

xo,
Sheena

 

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Kombucha Benefits

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Kombucha – you either hate it or you love it, or you grow to love it after reading up on its benefits!  I definitely did not enjoy Kombucha the first couple times I tried it, but then after learning about how many health benefits I could get from this one simple drink that comes in a million different variations and flavours, I was hooked!

Kombucha Benefits:

  • Detoxifies
  • Aids digestion
  • Improves gut health
  • Fights candida overgrowth
  • Enhances mental clarity
  • Improves mood
  • Boosts immunity
  • Liver support
  • Treats joint issues
  • Weight loss

Liver support was the main reason why I started drinking Kombucha.  My Naturopath tested my liver health and it wasn’t doing so well, so she suggested that I drink apple cider vinegar in water before every meal.  Unfortunately, to me, it tastes like a$$ so that wasn’t something I was able to maintain…to be honest, I couldn’t even bring myself to start it.  Then I came across this Organic Raw Kombucha “Gingerade” at Costco and bought a case!  It’s basically made up of apple cider vinegar and ginger – both of which are very healthy for you.  I don’t enjoy eating ginger, but I’ve come to enjoy drinking ginger juice when mixed into the right drinks.  It’s so good for you, and will help balance out the yin and the yang in your body.

Kombucha drinks sometimes come with chia seeds as well, which add a different texture (slimy but crunchy) and other benefits.  Chia seeds are a great source of protein, fibre and omegas!  Definitely worth trying, as strange as it may seem at first.

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Have you ever tried Kombucha?  If so, what are your favourite brands/flavours?

xo,
Sheena

 

Gluten-Free Options

Being on a Gluten-Free diet has become kind of a fad.  More and more people are jumping on board for health reasons, and some are realizing they have a food sensitivity to it or have celiac disease.  Whatever the reason, I’m here to make it easier!  Here’s a list of delicious, healthy alternatives for foods that often contain gluten.

Flavouring Sauces:
Bragg’s Soy Alternative
San-J GF Sauces – Tamari, Szechuan, Teriyaki, Thai Peanut, etc.
Chili Oil
Sesame Oil

Meat:
Grimm’s GF Pepperoni Sticks

Bread:
Silver Hills
Udi’s

Noodles:
Rice Noodles
Vermicelli
Tapioca Noodles
Yam or Sweet Potato Noodles

Pasta:
Brown Rice Pasta
Quinoa Pasta

Other Carbs:
Quinoa
Rice (Brown or White)
Yams or Sweet Potatoes
Potatoes

Treats:
Edible Flours Bakery
GF Cookies
GF Gummy Candies

And like I mentioned in my “Dairy-Free Options” post, just because it says gluten-free doesn’t mean it’s necessarily healthy and good for you.  Read what’s on the package as many gluten free snacks substitute with very artificial ingredients, some that could even hinder your health.  Just something to be aware of 🙂

What are some of your favourite Gluten-Free foods or restaurants?

xo,
Sheena

 

 

Good Bye, Car Snacks

Guys, I have a confession…

Some of you may have already seen this on my Instagram, but I’m setting this in stone here!

Ever since I started driving to work, I’ve gotten into a habit of snacking in the car to keep myself occupied and awake on the 1-hr commute each way. It started off as small, light snacks or healthy bars and progressed into bags of junk food and chocolate…and I would munch out even if I wasn’t hungry!

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I bought this bag of Bugles snack mix on my way home earlier this week and polished it off on my drive home the following day. I did not feel good about it whatsoever. My stomach felt gross and I felt guilty as hell.  All my hard work at the gym felt wasted, there was no justifying it.  I could push super hard at the gym and do tons of HIIT cardio, but if my diet isn’t clean, I won’t get the abs I want.

So EFFECTIVE IMMEDIATELY, I am giving up car snacks! Instead, I will have a shake, fruit or nuts before leaving work and equip myself with refreshing ice water for the road!

Mark my words.

…because what you eat in private is what you wear in public!

What is ONE unhealthy habit you are willing to give up (maybe not “willing”, but know you should give up) to help you reach your health or fitness goals?  Email me at xo@sheenalouie.com and I’d be happy to be your accountability buddy!  Let’s get healthy together.

xo,
Sheena

Energizing Foods

Ever feel like you’re eating well, yet still feel tired all the time?  Without having to find energy artificially (coffee, supplements, energy drinks, etc), here is a list of ways to get it through your diet.  Implementing natural sources of energy will also give you longer lasting results – that means no crashing!

“Any food with calories will give you energy; however, foods high in fat stimulate production of serotonin, [a brain chemical] that can make you feel sluggish and tired.”www.webmd.com

Basically, foods rich in vitamins, complex carbs, proteins, and other health-promoting substances will boost energy.

Energizing Foods:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Raw Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Eggs
  • Oranges
  • Fish
  • Sweet Potato
  • Tea
  • Oatmeal
  • Berries
  • Bananas
  • Yogurt
  • Lentils
  • Whole Grains
  • and WATER!

Nourish your body and your body will thank you for it!

Have any energizing foods or recipes you’d like to share?  Leave a comment!

xo,
Sheena

Honey Benefits

20160131_183932-01Winnie the Pooh was onto something… aside from being a yummy sweet fix, honey has so many health benefits!

I recently picked up this tub of locally made raw honey that was being promoted at Costco, and have been enjoying a teaspoon a day while reaping the benefits.

BENEFITS

  • Alleviates allergies
  • Source of natural energy
  • Boosts memory
  • Cough suppressant
  • Improves quality of sleep
  • Treats dandruff
  • Is an anti-inflammatory
  • Treats wounds and burns
  • Antibacterial and antifungal
  • Natural sweetener

Healthy Munchies

Are you a snacker?  I am!  Without fail, I will snack mid-morning, mid-afternoon, as soon as I get home, and again later in the evening.  I LOVE to snack, and I’m sure many of you can relate.
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Here’s a list of some of my favourite guilt-free snacks:

Boom Chicka Pop Popcorn (get the big bag from Costco!)

Pop’d Kerns (may only be available in the States, but worth the hunt!)

Larabars – peanut butter chocolate chip, mmmm… (also available from Costco)

Fruits – grapes, berries, apple, banana, dragon fruit

Hummus & Veggie Sticks – carrots, celery, cucumber, bell peppers

Nuts – almonds, pistachios, walnuts, cashews

Pumpkin seeds

Mary’s Crackers & Tuna Salad

Brown Rice Cakes & Peanut Butter

IMG_20160213_112037To prevent yourself from eating junk food, prep these snacks at the start of every week.  Cut up the veggies, make a batch of homemade tuna salad, portion out snacks into containers or ziplock bags, etc.  When you make them handy to grab on the go, you are less likely to cheat and more likely to maintain a clean diet.

What are some of YOUR favourite healthy snacks?  Share in the comments below.

xo,
Sheena