Friday, July 23, 2010

An "Organic" Poptart is Still a Poptart.

If you haven't already noticed, this blog is an all-vegetarian (and mostly vegan) cooking blog. But what does this have to do with yoga?

Yoga is much broader and more complex than just an exercise class, and is comprised of an ancient Eastern philosophy, that in itself is broken up into smaller ideas. It is those ideas, and that philosophy, that tells us who we are, why we are here and how to live in this world. (Wait, what? The title said Poptarts. Get to the poptarts lady....I will, I will, wait for it!)

One of those ideas is the concept of ahimsa or non-violence. Ahimsa is a rich and subtle practice that not only tells us not to, for instance, physically harm someone else, but also not to physically harm any living thing, including our neighbors, ourselves and animals. From the most obvious (not hitting someone) to the most subtle (not harming ourselves, not thinking harmful things) ahimsa is a deep practice. Most vegetarian yoga teachers are so for that very same reason. To eat meat, you are eating another living thing that must suffer to get onto your dinner plate.

The other reason you might go vegetarian, aside from ahimsa, is that it is, in general, healthier than eating meat. I say that, knowing full well that a diet of grilled cheese sandwiches is vegetarian, but not healthy.

So here are my tips on being a healthy vegan and vegetarian:

1. An organic poptart is still a poptart.
It may be vegetarian, it may be organic, but it ain't good for you. Beware of labels that are misleading, like "Organic," "trans-fat free" and "Natural." Pay attention to ingredients and nutrition labels.

2. Broccoli = Broccoli
When reading ingredient labels, if you can't pronounce it, or if you don't know what it is, don't eat it. Again, Doritos may be vegetarian, but why eat them when they are chock full of mystery ingredients?

3. Better yet, ditch the box
There are so many "vegetarian convenience" food items available, it is easy to get sucked into some pretty bad habits. While I do have tofu and a box of veggie burgers in my house, the rest are single ingredients meant to make a meal: fresh vegetables and fruits, flour, sugar, rice, pasta, etc.

4. And while you're at it, ditch the can
Soda is a chemical soup that is not good for you in any way. It's full of sugar and calories and even diet soda, being calorie free, manipulates the body's hormones and thyroid, resulting in weight gain. Your best option: plain, filtered water. And not bottled water either. Get yourself a filter and a reusable bottle and befriend your tap.

5. No one is Going to the Hospital with Protein Deficiency
Almost everything you eat has protein in it: vegetables, fruits, beans.....Add to that tofu and quinoa and there is no way you are going to get too little. Our country has an unhealthy obsession with protein that results in serving sizes that are just not accurate. The best way to go is to eat a balanced diet: two servings of vegetables on your plate each night, one serving of carbs (rice, pasta, etc) and a serving of protein (beans, nuts, tofu, etc).

6.Snack Right
It's common to reach for a bag of chips when hungry, but I encourage you to reach for some fruit instead. Fruits and vegetables are a "free ticket" item in my house and apples are the kids' favorite. It's full of fiber, filling and even helps to keep teeth clean. Your waistline will notice the difference, trust me. Eat your weight in plants, be careful about the quickie carbohydrates.

I'm sure I'm going to come up with a hundred more tips after I post this, so add your own into the comments section, if you have any!

Go, eat, be healthy!


  1. Great post, Candice. You touch on a topic that comes up a lot in conversations I'm having about health: that fat is still fat. So for the fat you're supposed to get daily, make sure it's good fat, and try to not go over that.

  2. Yes! Good fat is just that, good. Good for the heart, the brain, the blood. But too much is, well, too much. I try to teach my boys in the endless coversations about "what is good food? Is this good? Is this bad?" It's not that simple sometimes. So I tell them: too much of anything is bad. I am interested in your profile: you are a writer? And recently published? Nicely done, I'll have to look up your book sometime soon.