Friday, June 20, 2014

Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet

This infographic from Hero Health Room is just too good not to share. It covers the main reasons I decided to go plant-based last year, and why it has been my best food-related decision to date! Feast your eyes on this wholesome information and then consider feasting on some plant-y goodness.


Monday, June 16, 2014

SASHA Farm's Summer Fun Day

Did you know that the Midwest's largest farm animal sanctuary is located right here in Southeast Michigan? NEITHER DID WE! Until about an hour ago, that is. This afternoon I stumbled upon a blog post featuring SASHA Farm of Manchester, Michigan, and I eagerly clicked through to read more about this wonderful place that happens to be just over an hour away from us.

Borrowed from here.
SASHA (which stands for Sanctuary and Safe Haven for Animals, and is also the name of the owners' first rescue dog) is a non-profit that houses and cares for more than 200 rescued animals. According to their website, the farm is a 75-acre haven for livestock that once faced abuse, neglect, and goodness knows what else.

Borrowed from here.
It's rare to find a rescue that will take in farm animals under these circumstances, and so most are euthanized or left to die. There are currently cows, horses, pigs, sheep, goats, turkeys, chickens, and more at SASHA, and each animal has its own unique history. Regardless of how we all feel about the fate of these creatures and whether or not they should end up on our plates, the stories of SASHA's rescues remind us that all animals have a will to live and thrive. It's easy to lose sight of the fact that livestock are just as spirited as the four-legged friends we keep as pets, and that's just one of the reasons we choose not to eat meat.

I've wanted to visit a farm sanctuary for quite some time now, so I searched SASHA's website for an upcoming opportunity to visit the farm. Lucky me- they're hosting a Summer Fun Day fundraiser on Sunday, August 3rd! They had me at the adorable cow photo and the catered vegan lunch...


The Summer Fun Day event will take place from 12:00pm to 4:00pm on August 3rd. If you're interested in purchasing tickets in advance, you can do so here. If you can't make it on the 3rd but are interested in making a tax-deductible donation to SASHA Farm, you can do that here!

We are so excited to meet these beautiful animals and to help such a good cause! Will you join us in supporting this incredible farm?

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Pantry Storage, Macronutrient Style

When it comes to food storage, no two homes are alike. Some of us have sizable walk-in pantries while others have to get creative with minimal cupboard space. No matter your kitchen situation, it's incredibly helpful to store your edible items in a way that makes sense to you and that keeps meal prep easy.

As I became more confident with plant-based cooking and the ratio of foods that I wanted to have on my plate, I started to rethink how I organize my groceries. All of a sudden it no longer made sense to just keep canned goods with other canned goods, or all frequently used items on the same shelf. Instead, I began to stock foods based on the different components that were present at each meal.

For the most part, one of my typical meals looks a lot like this:

Borrowed from Precision Nutrition

The three macronutrients that we all require for growth, metabolism, and other important bodily functions are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, and the great news is that we can easily and cheaply get all of them from plants. I don't obsess over calories or grams, but I do make an effort to have healthy sources of these three nutrients at every meal. To keep things interesting and nutritionally diverse for myself, I try to keep a variety of foods that fulfill these basic dietary needs on hand at all times. Vegetables are definitely my biggest food group, but those are kept in the fridge and that's a post for another day.

For me it makes the most sense to have my "carbs" on one shelf, and my "proteins" on another. Fats are a more minimal "food group" and they often overlap with proteins (nuts and seeds, for example), so I happen to stock those two together. It's weird, but it works.


THE CARB CUPBOARD
This shelf is home to my favorite whole grains and starches. Mmm, fiber!

Ezekial Almond Cereal
Brown Rice
Amaranth
Kamut
Farro
Quinoa
Whole Grain Pasta
Brown Rice Pasta
Soba Noodles
Steel-Cut Oats
Potatoes




THE PROTEIN/FAT CUPBOARD
If you're concerned about my protein intake, look no further.


Beans (black, cranberry, pinto, chickpeas, lentils, etc)
Nuts (cashews and almonds)
Ground Flax packs (I also have a bulk container in the fridge)
Almond Butter (including to-go packs)
Pumpkin Seeds
Sesame Seeds
Hemp Seeds
Chia Seeds
Vega protein powder



My cupboards are pretty deep, so I keep my beans behind the more commonly used items in a basket that I can slide in and out as needed. I try to cook dried beans whenever possible to avoid BPA from cans, but I do keep canned beans on hand as well. Sometimes you just need ready-to-go beans. Ya know what I mean?



There are some weird exceptions to this system, I'll admit. Quinoa, for example, is a complete protein which also happens to be a whole grain and is cooked just like rice, so for that reason I keep it on my carb shelf. In fact, almost every item pictured in this post has protein in it, some just offer more than others and therefore serve a different nutritional purpose on my plate. The lesson to be learned here is that...

(Clearly)


Whole foods are complex and most often contain multiple nutrients, and therein lies the beauty of a plant-based lifestyle; If you surround yourself with a variety of real foods, it's unbelievably easy to get the macro and micronutrients your body needs. There is no right or wrong way to go about it. The key is to store, prep and prepare your foods in a way that makes you excited to get cooking!

Do you have any tips for organizing your kitchen or pantry?

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Primal Product Reviews- and a Giveaway!

When we talk about consuming natural products the focus tends to be on food, but the truth is that everything we spray or slather on our skin will eventually work its way into our bodies as well. A few years ago I learned about the harmful ingredients found in conventional deodorants (aluminum, triclosan, and parabens, oh my!) and was determined to find an alternative that could keep me smelling fresh without the damaging additives. Enter, Primal Pit Paste!

I had tried other natural brands in the past but unfortunately none were effective for me, so when I heard about the Primal brand through a fellow blogger I decided to give their Pit Paste a whirl. My friends, it was truly love at first pit application.

This stuff has kept me stink-free through several 5K races, a Warrior Dash and the Tough Mudder. It keeps on keepin' on through long stuffy flights, 90-degree weather and humid Michigan summers. In addition to being so effective, Pit Paste is made with minimal and truly natural ingredients and it is not tested on animals. 

The cost is a bit more than what you'll pay for the stuff at your local drug store, but in my experience Pit Paste lasts a lot longer than the average deodorant. It took me about six months to go through my first stick, with daily applications.

Because I love their product so, I was thrilled when Primal agreed to partner with us for additional product reviews and an awesome giveaway for four lucky readers! Check out the details below...



Liz and I both got a chance to try Primal's newest Pit Paste scent, Jacked-Up Jasmine. The fragrance is very mild and includes hints of gardenia, jasmine and bergamot. I'm not normally a fan of floral scents AT ALL, but I actually like this smell because it isn't the least bit overpowering. As with all of the Pit Paste scents, you really only notice the fragrance when you first apply. It doesn't linger throughout the day. In fact, your pits will most likely smell like, er, well... nothing at all, really.

Pit Paste is available two ways: in a pot (as pictured above), and in stick form (below). I've used both, and tend to order the pot style to save a few bucks, but both work the same. A stick applicator is included with the pot, but I always misplace it immediately and just end up applying it with my fingers.



Liz, who was a Pit Paste newbie, tried out the stick deodorant pictured above and has this to say about it:

I love Pit Paste for all of the reasons that I dislike 'normal' deodorants. I have been wearing it every day for two weeks and have yet to see any residue on my clothing or in my pits. It applies smoothly (after warming it up with your own body heat) and doesn't have an offensive scent. Best of all, I love that it keeps me feeling fresh while I teach Zumba.

I sweat A LOT while teaching, and this is when other deodorants have failed me. With conventional deodorant my clothes always end up with white marks regardless of when I apply it, and my pits would have white pills of residue within an hour. The white residue is extremely apparent while throwing my arms over my head in front of a room full of students. Not an attractive look. 

Pit Paste keeps my underarms free of pilling deodorant. I will never go back after experiencing this wonderful, natural product.


We also got to try out Primal's Pucker Paste, which is a hydrating lip balm that comes in four different flavors. We sampled the lavender, orange creamsicle, and vanilla peppermint (not pictured) and loved every single one. They smell exactly as you imagine they would, and have a light, sweet flavor.

One application seems to last for up to two hours, depending on your environment and activity level. I like to apply the Pucker Paste before heading out for a run or starting a work out, because nothing is more distracting than chapped lips when you're trying to exercise!

Pucker Paste is made with organic coconut oil, beeswax, shea butter, and essential oils.


We also got to try Primal's Po-Po Powder, which is designed to control sweat and odor "down under" without the use of talc, preservatives or toxic chemicals. Now I can't say that I've had an issue with odor in that area before, but I did use this product during exercise and during long days when I knew I'd be in hot, stuffy places. It kept things dry and comfortable, which is always a good thing.

---

.::THE GIVEAWAY::.

So! Now that you've learned all about the fantastic products that Primal has to offer, are you ready to try some for yourself?! We will be giving away $25 gift certificates to FOUR lucky readers! There are multiple ways to enter, all of which are listed below, and we will select our winners on Tuesday, June 17th at 9:00am EST! This contest is open to both domestic and international readers.

Please leave a separate comment for each entry to help us keep track of everyone!

HOW TO ENTER:

*Comment on this post and tell us which product you'd most like to try!
*Sign up to receive the Primal Pit Paste newsletter here
*Follow @yourhealthhaven on Instagram
*Follow @yourhealthhaven on Twitter
*TWEET THIS: "Enter to win one of four $25 @primalpitpaste gift cards from @yourhealthhaven! http://tinyurl.com/oa2aoft"

---

My dog insisted on being right by my side during the photo shoot today, so I thought I'd include him in the post. Larry says, "Go primal, and go enter!"


UPDATE!

Our four winners have been randomly selected. Congratulations ladies!

Kristine McGuire
Cheyenne B.
MellyBabyDoll
Tess

If you haven't already, please comment with your email address so we know where to send the prize info! 

Thank you to all who entered!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Hummus

Hummus is a staple in our diets because it's easy to make, simple to store, and it can be added to countless foods. We include it in sandwiches and wraps, spread it on veggie burgers, and use it as a dip for pita, veggies, or tortilla chips. This ancient spread is cholesterol free and is an excellent source of protein, iron, vitamin C, and calcium, among other valuable nutrients. You really can't go wrong with the stuff!

What You'll Need:
Food processor or high powered blender
A citrus juicer or a strong hand

Ingredients:
1 can chickpeas, drained *with liquid set aside
2-3 cloves fresh garlic
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (one small lemon)
3 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp olive oil (substitute water or chickpea liquid to make it oil-free)
Za'atar for garnish (optional)



Directions:
When you open your can of chickpeas, drain the liquid into a small bowl instead of discarding it. You'll be using it later! Add the rest of the ingredients to your food processor and blend away. This recipe can be modified depending on your personal taste. I tend to add extra garlic and lemon juice, because I can't get enough of those flavors.

The hummus will most likely be too thick at first, so you will want to gradually add chickpea liquid until you reach the desired consistency. On average, I add about two tablespoons of liquid to mine. Again, this is a personal preference.

You should blend the ingredients until smooth, which usually takes about five minutes. At that point you can serve your hummus immediately, or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to one week. But we seriously doubt that you will have any of this stuff left after a week.