Our 6 Week Eat to Live Challenge Recap

On December 30th Ron and I embarked on a totally vegan diet. We used Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s Eat to Live book and website as a guide.

Here are the basics of the diet in a nutshell:

eat to live 3


I’ve dabbled in veganism before and made it about 2 weeks one time so I was no stranger to this at all. Also, I was completely vegetarian for 10 months back in late 2010 and into 2011 so I had plenty of confidence going into this challenge. (Note: Vegans have no animal products whatsoever. No milk, no cheese, no eggs, etc. Vegetarians have no flesh. They can have the dairy and the eggs.)

Weeks 1-3 were very good. We started off following the diet to a T and the weight slipped off very easily. We enjoyed trying all kinds on new recipes.

One of our favorites was the Creamy Cauliflower Soup.

creamy c. soup

I loved how creamy the cashews made it. I’ve read that cashews are great for lifting your mood and since I’ve had a lifelong battle with mild depression, I always look at this little nut as magic!

One of my least favorite recipes was this eggplant lasagna.


Ron put some ginger in it and didn’t dice it very fine. I got a big piece of ginger that put a bad taste in my mouth from the beginning. Not sure if I can ever love eggplant again.

Everything was going along very well but after a while, those huge salads 2 times a day started getting hard to do. They would fill me up so much that was all I was eating. That’s a good thing I know but as much as I love a delicious salad, sometimes you just want something hot. When I’d eat the salad at dinner, I couldn’t eat another bite. What I ended up doing was eating the cooked veggie creation first and then I wouldn’t have room for the salad. I promise you. 1 pound of raw veggies is a lot. And…it takes a long time to eat.

That’s the reason the salad at lunchtime started slipping away. I often eat at my desk at work and it just got too difficult and time consuming for me to eat the salad. At lunch, a hummus sandwich and a piece of fruit are about all I am interested in.

That’s were another trouble entered in. You are not supposed to eat between meals so if I did have a light lunch and skipped the filling salad, I would be famished by dinnertime.

Weeks 3-6 I stayed mostly all vegan but I veered far away from the 1 pound of raw and 1 pound of cooked veggies 2 times daily. Also during week 3-6 Ron and I started eating what I call vegan junk food. Get some fake chicken and smother it in an awesome buffalo sauce and you can have one heck of a delicious and satisfying dinner. Do this and I guarantee you won’t have room for the healthy raw veggies.

Out of the 126 meals (6 weeks x 7 days x 3 meals per day) 4 times I had a non-vegan component. First came a piece of my mother’s famous cornbread. All she had in it that was non-vegan was the buttermilk and then I did add some butter to the top. It was out of this world delicious. I didn’t feel bad at all about this.

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Second came some cheese on a wrap at Chick-fil-A. I got a chicken wrap and asked for the chicken on the side but I forgot about the cheese. (I gave the chicken to my daughter.) When I had the wrap in my hands, I saw the cheese but I ate it anyway. Didn’t feel too bad about this either. We were traveling and I did the best I could.

Third came a veggie hoagie from Jimmy Johns. I knew it had the cheese on it when I ordered it but I got it anyway. Man was that good! This was when I started feeling guilty. I didn’t need to eat the cheese. It was lunchtime at work and my boss had treated me to Jimmy Johns. Like I said, I knew it had the cheese and I ordered it anyway.

After 2 slip ups with cheese, I was driving home from work one night and I really cheated big time! I have to drive far distances 1 time per week and this occurred on a 3 hour trip home. I veered into Hardees. I have no idea why but I ordered a cheeseburger. And.a.milkshake!

So as you can guess, weeks 3-6 the weight loss really stalled. I don’t attribute it at all to those 2 times having cheese or even my big cheat meal at Hardees. What I attribute it to was the huge decrease in raw veggies. It could have been the handful of nuts I was having daily too. Also was probably the extra bread that kept slowly slipping back into my meals.



Ron ended up losing 10.8 pounds and I lost 9.6.

At the end of the 6 weeks, Ron went as fast as he could and bought some grass fed beef and other meats. He announced he was Paleo! What I am learning is that Paleo and Vegans are really very similar. Both advocate the importance of whole foods and to stay far away from anything processed. The biggest difference to me is the meat for Paleos and the beans and legume’s for vegans.

At the end of the 6 weeks I ate a whole sleeve of Girl Scout Thin Mints. I ate some of Ron’s delicious beef stews. Just a little but man were they delicious. My car veered into Cookout on one occasion. Pretty much, I ate anything and everything I wanted. Not very much meat at all but still it was not healthy.

After one week of debauchery, I had all I could take. I was feeling physically terrible. Back came the vegan lifestyle for me. This time I downloaded some recipes from the Happy Herbivore (HH) and in only 3 days, I had dropped the 2 pounds I had gained during my cheat week and also another 2.6 pounds! I am feeling great again!

What I am learning from the Happy Herbivore is that I really can’t have all the avocados and the nuts if I want to lose weight. Yes, they are very healthy fats but I just can’t have them if I want the scale to drop. Also a huge difference was in the first smoothie recipe I made from HH. I always put 1/3 cup of raw oats in my breakfast smoothies. HH called for 2 tablespoons of raw oats in my smoothie. Also, hummus and me are great pals. I can eat a ton of hummus if you let me.


HH called for ½ of bell pepper with only 2 tablespoons of hummus. Measure out 2 tablespoons of raw oats or hummus. I dare you. It is such a small amount! However, it really is enough. If you dip sparingly, you can have hummus on each bite you take of the pepper and your smoothie will be just as delicious and satisfying.

What are our long term plans? I have no idea. Ron is already complaining about feeling sluggish and about the huge increase in the amount of money he is spending on the meats. He says he wants to try Happy Herbivore when we get back from vacation.

What I do think that I am leaning toward are the famous words of Michael Pollen:

      eat food

Vacation begins for us tomorrow. We’re celebrating our 26th year of wedded bliss. I fully expect to have some cheese. I fully expect to have some desserts. I even know already that I’m having a famous chicken dish from the historic Chalet Suzanne Inn that we are staying in. My goal is to try to eat smaller meals for breakfast and lunch so I can splurge a little at dinner.

My plans for when we get back home and back to reality are to stay mostly vegan. The big thing for me that I’ve got to get away from is the wheat. My sister and nieces have been preaching to me the horrors of gluten and I’ve got to admit they may be on to something. Here’s a book that my sister recommended I read.

Grain Brain

Ron is even on board with the no wheat. When we go to Mexican restaurants he orders his veggie burritos without the flour tortilla and gets corn tortillas on the side.

Happy Eating. Happy Running. Happy Living to us all!

Quickie Dinner Alone

Tonight was an extremely rare moment lately.  I dined alone. 

Andie, Mason, and Lydia were all out and Ron was working late. 

The menu for this evening called for Eggplant Rollups and to be honest, I did print the recipe out and begin to gather the ingredients.  However, I noticed another recipe right there.  Veggie Pizza.  That was more up my ally. 

I made some quick pasta sauce by sautéing some onions, garlic, and diced tomatoes.  Then when I reached for the pitas, they were moldy.  (note….things that are healthy go bad quickly)  I ended up using some whole wheat bread instead. 

All I did was add the sauce, a diced up Portobello mushroom, red peppers, broccoli, and Daiya cheese.





I think the cheese would have melted more but I was really anxious to dig in and couldn’t wait any longer.

It was out of this world delicious.  I haven’t had any added salt all week and I can’t say that I’ve really been craving it but this pizza was salty.  Very satisfying.  I didn’t want my salad and I thought about putting the greens in the blender with my smoothie.  In the end, I decided to eat it anyway.

Here’s my dessert.

A pumpkin smoothie with some unsweetened almond milk and a cup of tropical frozen fruit.  (pineapple, strawberry, mango, and papaya)


Not the best ever but pretty good.  Smile

I have just figured out that the 100 days of miles challenge wasn’t really 100 days of straight running.  You just had to commit to running 100 miles this year.  Be that as it may, I decided to go ahead and keep the streak going and see if I can run for 100 days.  Tonight’s run was an interval workout on the treadmill.

Happy Weekend Friends!

Eating to Live

It’s been well over a year and a half ago that I first read Eat to Live, by Dr. Joel Fuhrman.  Even so, I find myself returning to his philosophy again and again.  I really like everything about Eat to Live.  And now that the new year is just around the corner, it was quite natural for me to think of  trying to drop a few pounds.  Thinking of dieting and then thinking of Eat to Live made me decide to take the plunge.

I’m vegan again.


When I think of my friend Robin and her beautiful hens and all her wonderful eggs I really love omelets.

When I think of my sister Rosa and her husband William and their awesome salmon salads, I am perfectly ok with having salmon once and a while.

When I think of my dad and brothers and deer meat, I’m all about some venison chili.

When I think of my brother in law, Willis’ fish fries, I think I’ve died and gone to heaven.

You see, I’m fine with occasionally consuming animals.  The problem I run in to in my daily life is that if I’m walking around labeling myself a carnivore, it won’t be long before my car might veer into Cookout for a cheeseburger and milkshake.  It won’t be long before I’ll grab a Filet-o-Fish at McDonalds when one of my daughter’s ask me to stop by for them.  Heck, I might even get a Cajun Fillet Biscuit at Bo Jangles after work one night.

Even if I label myself a vegetarian, I’ll start to grab the Pumpkin Spice coffee creamer before you know it.

Vegan is the only label that keeps me safe.  If I say I’m vegan, I keep on the straight and narrow a lot better.  Does that make sense at all?  I hope so because I really am at a loss as to how to explain my food philosophy.  Embarrassed smile

Ok so now that the disclaimer is out of the way, let me get on to my first day of the 6 week Rapid Weight Loss Dr. Fuhrman’s Eat to Live plan.

Ron and I stocked up at Whole Foods last night.  Here’s a shot of some of our loot.


This morning I had 1/2 cup of some awesome granola.  I put some frozen blueberries and almond milk in it.  I also had a small banana and half a cup of black coffee.

For lunch, it was a gorgeous salad.  Much prettier than this picture shows.


I used a raspberry balsamic vinegar as a dressing and it was perfect.

I also had a bowl of a GBombs soup that Ron made last night.

GBombs stands for Greens, beans, onions, mushrooms, berries, and seeds.  This is the backbone of how to eat according to Dr. Fuhrman.



Ron took some kale, sprouted beans, onions, mushrooms, cashews, and goodness knows what else and created a delicious masterpiece.  He can’t tell me exactly what he did but I’m sure his recipe was similar to  this recipe.

I also had some grapes at lunch.  I was a little full but I ate them because even though fruits and veggies are unlimited, you are not supposed to eat between meals.

To be honest, I was pretty hungry when I got home from work.  I’ve learned a trick though and what I did was drink a cup of hot green tea.  I didn’t sweeten it with anything and I thought I wasn’t going to enjoy it.  Thankfully, it was delicious and just what I needed to get me through until dinner.

Dinner was another huge salad but we also had some roasted zucchini and carrots.  Ron and I dined on those while this awesome soup simmered.


After it simmered for 15 minutes, Ron took out 2/3 of the veggies and put them in the Vitamix with 1 cup of raw cashews.




Here’s the finished product.


It’s crazy how creamy and delicious it was and not a drop of milk was used.

Ron had 2 huge bowls but those salads fill me up so much I only had one.

A little while later I whirled up some frozen mangos and bananas with some unsweetened almond milk for this scrumptious sorbet.


I guess it looks a little like mashed potatoes however, I promise you, it was cold and sweet and just the right ending to my first day Eating to Live.

I’m excited to see how it goes for the next six weeks.

I’m also very excited that my friend Robin has invited me to do a 100 day running challenge beginning on January 1.  I’ve seen a lot of people doing this sort of thing and I’ve always been intrigued.  I guess I better rest up tomorrow and get ready to Run Run Run!

Happy Eating Friends!

Happy Running!

Help! I’m drowning in Food Facts!

I just love the library.  My mother would have never in a million years thought I would be saying those words, but I do.  This is coming from a girl who always tried to find the movie or the Cliff Notes of any book that was assigned in high school.  I can vividly remember from back in the 80’s laying on the couch with my head in my mother’s lap while she read to me.  Can you believe she did that for me?    She did this without judgment or criticism.    No lectures on me using my time more wisely, just out of love.  I also remember watching A Christmas Carol late at night with my copy of the book open right in front of me.  “Marley was dead:  to begin with.”  The first line of the book and the first words from the screen.  The version I was watching had to be word for word I reasoned.  It’s a wonder I made it through English at all! 

But the reason I love my library so much is that they have this awesome website and you can request books.  I don’t ever worry if there is a long waiting list.  I know my number will come up and I’ll have whatever title I’m interested in very quickly.  It is such a joy when I get the email saying my requested book is now available and on hold for me.  They even have audio books that you can download for free!  Sometimes I like to have my own copy of a book but since I don’t tend to re-read very often, I like the frugalness of checking them out. 

My number came up this week and 3 books that I had requested all became available at the same time.  In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan the audio version was first.  Second came, Food Rules also by Michael Pollan.  And lastly, Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. 

I am so very happy that In Defense of Food came to me in the audio version.  If it hadn’t, I’m not sure I could have gotten past the first chapter.  Michael Pollan goes on and on in a very technical way about the Western Diet (high intakes of red meat, sugary desserts, high-fat foods, and refined grains) and all the chronic illnesses that are caused by it.  I’m only on the 4th cd out of the 5 but what I am taking away from this book is that I have been born and am living in the worst nutritional time in history.  No more is a person’s diet dictated by culture or heritage.  I’m sure I eat nothing like my mother let alone my grandmother. 

From my very earliest memories I was using Sweet-n-Low, drinking Tab and Fresca, and consuming every low-fat, no-fat item that the food marketers were directing me to.  This makes me very sad.  I remember swearing by Susan Powter’s claim that it was the fat that was making us fat!  Then I remember embracing Dr. Atkins and his claim that the carbs were the enemy.  I even bought and used the ketosis sticks.  Did you? 

Even now I’ve gone from Vegetarian to Flexitarian and now back to Vegetarian.  Why does my diet have to be so complicated?  Why in the world am I spending as much time thinking about it as I do? 

The next book from Michael Pollan was Food Rules and you can read it in one sitting.  I recommend Food Rules wholeheartedly.  No need to get In Defense of Food unless you just love all the technical stuff.  Food Rules gives you all the main points made in In Defense of Food.  Some of the rules that I like the most are as follows: 

Rule number 2:  “Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food.”  When I read this toLydia she immediately commented that meant tofu was definitely out.  I wonder what Michael Pollan would say to that? 

Rule number 13:  “Eat only foods that will eventually rot.”  Ever find a French fry under the seat in your car?  Looked pretty much exactly they way it did when it first fell there I bet. 

Rule number 20:  “It’s not food if it arrived through the window of your car.” 

Rule number 37:  “The whiter the bread, the sooner you’ll be dead.” 

Rule number 44:  “Pay more, eat less.”  I can give you an awesome example of this one.  I made a pot of soup out of Eat to Live that I will review later and it cost me over $20.  It called for leeks, raw cashews, and carrot juice among many other ingredients.  Click her for the complete recipe.  The only leeks I could find were organic and the two cost me over $5.  The raw cashews were $5.26 and the carrot juice was $5.49.  I did only use 1/3 of the bottle of carrot juice but wowzer, I was up to over $15 at that point.  I estimated the entire pot of soup to cost around $25 and we got 6 servings out of it.  That will never make the Dinner on a Dime show!  It was very good though.  Even Mason loved it! 

And my very favorite rule of all….   Rule number 64:  “Break the rules once in a while.”  After a week of 3 nutrition books, I’m about to return to being a Flexitarian.  I will probably add back wild salmon or other fish and maybe some other animals if they are truly organically fed and humanely treated.  I’m also going to learn to be more like the French as Michael Pollan reports.  When I think of a chocolate cake, I’m going to think celebration instead of guilt.  After all, as Oscar Wilde says, “Everything in moderation, even moderation.”

The last book I read, or rather skimmed was Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman.  This one, like In Defense of Food, is very technical and long.  I skipped over most of it and got right to the diet he recommends and the recipes.  Dr. Fuhrman embraces a plant based diet way more than Michael Pollan but they are very similar in many ways.  The perpetual dieter in me almost wants to take his 6 week challenge and take out ALL animal products from my diet.  He claims that you can lose 20 pound or more in the 6 weeks.  Even with this claim, he really is more concerned with health rather than weight loss. 

The basics of the 6 week challenge: 

Unlimited raw veggies and try to eat at least one pound a day 

Unlimited cooked veggies and again, aim for one pound daily 

Unlimited fruits but at least 4 per day 

Limited starchy veggies and grains 

No animal products, no dairy, no processed foods, no caffeine, and no alcohol 

A point that Dr. Fuhrman makes that hit home to me was that in some ways, eating meat is far better for you than being a vegetarian that gorges on rice, breads, and other vegetarian junk foods.  He leans very heavily towards a plant based diet but after the first 6 weeks, some meats may be added back. 

I did finish one more book this week but this post is already way too long.  I’ll review, The Help, next week sometime.  If you haven’t seen the movie, wait.  Read the book first!  If you have seen the movie, don’t wait!  Go get the book.  It’s that good.