Archive for the ‘Nutrition’ Category

Healthy Valentine Sweet

Check out this dairy-free, date-sweetened chocolate mousse. The ingredients will surprise you, and the sweet, creamy taste will delight you.  Happy Valentines Day to you and yours!


3/4 cup raw cashews
1 cup packed pitted dates (about 20)
1 (15-ounce) can pureed organic butternut squash
3/4 cup unsweetened coconut milk beverage, more if needed
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Fresh raspberries (optional)
Grated coconut (optional)


Place cashews and dates in a medium bowl and cover with very hot water. Let soak for 2 hours to soften. Drain well.

Place drained cashews and dates, butternut squash and coconut milk in a high-powered blender or food processor and process until smooth (this may take 1 to 2 minutes). Add cocoa and vanilla. Process again, adding a bit more coconut milk if needed to make a smooth, mousse-like texture. Chill at least 1 hour or until ready to serve. Garnish with raspberries and coconut.

Posted in Nutrition | 1 Comment

Vegan Wanna-Be Turning the Corner

There’s been some added pressure to get legit with this whole vegan thing since taking this full-time job marketing Engine 2 for Whole Foods Market.  You haven’t heard from me in a while because… well…it’s Diet Season, y’all.  The New Year, New Me thing really happens and anyone working for a health food store or a Diet business of some kind is officially buried this month.

I’ve had all kinds of mental stuff come up over the last six months that has had me resist embracing plant-based 100%. My latest trap?  I just qualified for “platinum” at work. What does this mean? Well, everyone that works at Whole Foods Market automatically gets 20% off at the store.  Then, because the company is so committed to it’s employees health, they’ve got an incentive program to earn up to a 30% discount based on your scores of biomarker tests:  nicotene, cholesterol, blood pressure and BMI are the basics.  And based on your numbers, you’ll either keep 20%, or get bronze, silver, gold, or platinum – 30%.

So, I look at my platinum score and I think — I’m not at risk. An egg here or there and fish and dairy on occasion — no big deal.  Then I started reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s Eating Animals.  Foer is one of my all-time favorite authors. Love his fiction. And this non-fiction is mind-blowing. I’m so grossed out by factory farming after reading his book, that I find myself happily, fully plant-based. Now, if someone offers me a piece of cake made with eggs, I admit I will not turn it down. But right now, the thought of scrambled eggs and toast which used to appeal to me every weekend, sounds absolutely heinous to me.

What motivated me to avoid dairy?  T. Colin Campbell’s The China Study, an in-depth, well-documented, peer-reviewed study of the relationship between diet and disease. One of his many discoveries was that casein, the protein found in milk products, promotes cancer tumor growth.

What about calcium? How can we get what we need without dairy?

Tragic irony is at play here. Maybe some day someone will sue the dairy industry like we did with tobacco companies. Despite the highly successful ad campaign, milk does not do your body good.  Here’s the problem: the animal protein in milk increases the acidity in the bloodstream. To offset the increased acid load and even out your body’s pH levels, your body will leach calcium – a strong base – from your bones and actually do the opposite of what you intended by consuming dairy!

Did you know that countries around the world that consume the most dairy also have the highest rate of osteoporosis?

You can get all the calcium you need from sources without animal protein that contradict your body’s ability to absorb it.  Try fortified non-dairy milks and cereals and load up on your leafy greens!  Spinach, Kale, Collard Greens, Turnip Greens – all great sources of calcium.

I’m now sneaking leafy greens into my girls’ diets twice a day at least four days a week.  We do our green smoothies in the morning that they say, “tastes like candy!” because we make them with sweet frozen fruit like pineapple or peaches (plus coconut water, almond butter, vegan protein powder, etc).  And at night, we’re sneaking in a green leafy to whatever we’re making for dinner.  Curried lentils and rice with carrots, cauliflower and kale, vegan enchiladas with spinach, vegan lasagna with sweet potatoes, squash, zucchini and spinach….

And every night they lap down their fortified oat milk. So much natural sugar in this….we should really switch to unsweetened Almond Milk…but hell, I’m doing the best I can.

Anyone reading this that is proudly carnivorous — please don’t feel any judgment from me.  Whatever your personal choice is with food, go for it.  My advocacy is for Americans to eat as “plant-strong” as possible and shift from being a country that is upside with chronic disease and related health care costs to one that is healthy on all fronts.

Love to All!

Posted in AP & Self Care, Nutrition | 1 Comment

As We Approach the Season of Gluttony

Photo Credit: The Gothamist

Isn’t it interesting that for so many of us, all bets are off on watching what we eat from late November through December?  It’s like the universal “bye time” for diets and everyone starts over in January having to set new intentions and exercise more to work off the season of excess.

I prefer to focus on setting intentions versus ever calling the way I choose to eat a “diet”.  I stopped that in college when my desire to avoid gaining weight caused entirely too much obsessive stress.  Just saying the word will put an instant stop to any change in the way I eat because I enter a mental state peppered with depriving “shoulds,” “can’ts,” and angry “screw this” thoughts.

The only way I have successfully embarked on a mostly vegan, mostly low fat, low sugar way of life is that I keep it to mostly.  And before having babies when I was hard core about it for a year, the only way I could do it is if I made it all about addition versus subtraction. It was about adding something fun and interesting to my life, versus taking away some of my greatest simple pleasures in life.  I loaded up on vegan cookbooks; I scoured the web for online recipe resources; my husband (then boyfriend) and I tried out new vegan friendly restaurants in Austin every week; and I began hosting vegan gourmet dinner parties.

And when it came to visiting family during this “hard core” chapter, it always felt pretty awkward. You quickly transition from feeling connected, to disconnected. From go-along, to get-along, to high maintenance. How can you be a courteous guest in someone else’s home and request that they prepare special food for you that is different from what they would do for themselves?  Maybe you claim a new family onset of severe allergies to meat and dairy.  This might fly with someone you’re having dinner with for the first time — but family? Probably not.

So I’ve quite peacefully determined that when I’m a dinner guest at someone else’s house — especially family — I will ask that they do not go out of their way to make anything different for us than they already had planned.  We can opt to focus on side-dishes; or we can opt to eat everything there and not worry about it.

The next time I host Thanksgiving, I intend to make it vegan — for fun.  To see what’s possible!

This year, we’re guests at my in-laws and we will fully enjoy with gratitude a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.

If you’re hosting this year and looking for some healthy, plant-based recipe ideas — check out this “Think PlantStrong Thanksgiving” blog post I helped to pen for Whole Foods.  And stay tuned for more ideas on healthier treat options for the month of December.

Posted in AP & Self Care, Nutrition | No Comments

Shifting the Food Expectations of Special Occasions

Mini fret du jour:   all efforts to help my children eat healthy will inadvertently contribute to an obsessive, over-consumption of the world’s most horrible food when they are teenagers and I can no longer guide the menu selection. My husband informed me the other night that he really hopes that I will experience life with less worry some day soon. Oh Yes. I realize everything in this life is a choice — including the way we feel.  And breaking the Mommy Fret pattern is a doozy for me!

What would happen if I chose not to worry about anything?  That is the question, isn’t it?  If I didn’t fret about and plan and do and reconsider and ponder all that could be done to protect and care for the hearts and minds and bodies of my children, what would happen?

Ideally my trust in the universe and in myself and in my children and their ability to understand and know would translate into a life experience with more levity for all of us I’m sure.  So. Yay!  Another opportunity to reflect on what it means to Protect, Love, Honor and Let Go as a Mother — all at the same time.

A lovely woman that I work with told me that she grew up a few blocks from where we live today in a hippie family. Five children in a two bedroom house.  They all went to the Waldorf school which was affordable then.  Plus they had an additional discount (or perhaps even free?) because their Mom drove the school bus or something.

Anyway, she said her groovy, hippie Mom was all about feeding them the healthiest possible food.  And when she got into middle school and was visiting friends’ houses that had hot dogs, pizza, pop, cookies, chips…….she thought she had landed in Disney Land and gorged herself whenever she had the opportunity.

So I find myself in this ongoing conundrum where I don’t want to be the mother who makes junk food so verboten that when my children are exposed to it, they freak out and form rebellious addictions. (I have these myself!) And I don’t want to be apathetic about it either — which to me translates into unspoken endorsement.

At our first 3 year-old soccer game (mine has yet to want to leave the sidelines), one mother brought cupcakes for the after-game snack.  The game was at 9:00 in the morning.  I wanted to pull my hair out I was so annoyed.  Who wants to tell your child, in front of all the other children, that they can’t have what everyone else is having?!

My Go Along to Get Along persona continually trumps my desire to go against the grain on casually accepting the food that is put in front of our children.  I’d like to get better about this.

I got brave for the girls’ recent birthday party and boycotted the traditional cake or cupcakes.  I made raw pie and ordered raw, vegan chocolate cupcakes from Whole Foods.  I thought for sure I would hear some children complaining that this wasn’t normal or right or something (including my own!) — but they were 100% pumped.

The raw pie is super simple if you have a food processor.  I don’t have any specific measurements — I just go on feel.  But you combine dates and your nut(s) of choice for the crust.  If you want to get fancy — add some cinnamon or nutmeg or something.  I go plain jane.  Then blend up some strawberries for a layer of sauce.  And then decorate with a layer of bananas, followed by sliced berries.  Done!

I haven’t tried making the raw chocolate cupcakes myself yet — but the ingredients were cacao, walnuts, cashews, coconut oil, agave and dates.

Now…..for Halloween.  So outside of boycotting trick-or-treating, there’s really no way to be a Loving, Cool Mom and avoid sugar completely on Halloween.  But my general philosophy for the time being is that there is an opportunity to introduce different fun, sweet holiday food traditions at home, to not make a big deal out of traditions outside the home, and to simply minimize the Sugar  Crazies where possible. My plan for Halloween is to fully enjoy a neighborhood party with one of our friends, to go trick-or-treating, and to let each girl pick out two candies.  I’m undecided if we’ll make up the Great Pumpkin story for donating the rest — or simply say we’re giving the extras to our Dentist who is collecting candy to protect children from cavities.  (Isn’t there some dentist in town who is actually doing this?)

On the home front — here’s a non-sugar sweet to consider for Halloween season courtesy of Chef AJ:  Caramel apples made with date paste and a few drops of caramel extract.  If you’re concerned about the artificial nature of the extract — skip that and just do apples with date paste. Super easy to make. Just soak dates in a little water or almond milk and blend.  When you’ve got a consistency that you can roll the “sticked” apples in — you’re ready to go!

Looking ahead to Thanksgiving meal planning?  Check out these healthy modifications to the traditional menu we all love from Dr. John McDougall.  McDougall is a great resource on multiple fronts for those of you researching healthy eating.  I think I’ve recommended one of his books here before (available now on his site as an eBook) “The McDougall Program for Women“.

All for now my friends.  Until I find a partner in crime for developing content more often for Attachment Mama, please anticipate once a week (or so) posts for the time being.


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A Report from the Land of Vegan

Photo Credit: The Vibe

This last week was a doozy. As I predicted. But everyone survived perfectly fine short of colds ’round the horn and some solid spousal bickering at week’s end. Preparing our house for the big “For Sale” sign, we had our wood floors refinished last week to repair them from water damage this year. Thankfully insurance paid for everything — including moving and storing our furniture and putting our family up in a hotel.

We wanted a Vacation Rental by Owner (VRBO) house to rent so that we could cook meals at home and keep up with daily laundry without  added hassle. And it was impossible to find last weekend thanks to the UT – UCLA football game. We were stuck with a hybrid plan.  First three days at the Doubletree downtown (don’t recommend — especially during a weekend with a home football game.) This past week in a duplex VRBO a few miles southeast of ours.

As it turns out — the week of temporarily living outside of our home while not on vacation (limited fun factor unless you’re 3-going-on-4) took place the same time that a week-long Engine 2 Immersion event was taking place at a retreat center in Austin. I was imagining needing to work at this event until 10:00 pm every night, and thankfully this wasn’t necessary. I helped with registration most of last Sunday, and voluntarily stayed late on Tuesday night for the vegan pizza dinner and Shawn Colvin entertainment. I had Mark bring up the girls so we could all be together and enjoy the healthy yum and sweet entertainment outside under a starry night.

Is anyone else in Austin rejoicing this glorious weather?!  Every year around this time I find myself wanting to dance a happy jig everywhere I go.

But I digress. I thought you all might appreciate hearing some of the healthy eating knowledge that was shared during the Engine 2 Immersion.  What’s an Immersion? Whole Foods Market offers retreats for team members (employees) with high-risk biomarker tests to get immersed in healthy eating education.  They can choose to attend one from any of the Whole Foods Market Healthy Eating partners which include Eat Right America, Engine 2, and John McDougall.

For those of you just joining the Attachment Mama blog — in May I stepped out of my 3 1/2 year mostly Stay At Home Mom, very part-time Work At Home Mom role and into the role of marketing coordinator for Engine 2 at Whole Foods Market.  I now work at the global headquarters office for Whole Foods, conveniently located 5 minutes from my home.  And I’m happy to pass along all that I learn about Healthy Eating to my readers here at Attachment Mama!

Each day of last week’s Engine 2 Immersion in Austin was packed with thought-provoking, informative presentations. Pam Popper, PhD, who is both a naturopath and nutritionist, and Executive Director of the Wellness Forum, shared a great presentation on macronutrients — carbohydrates, proteins and fats.  I pulled some of her top points for you all below:

  • The body’s primary source of energy which should comprise about 70% or more of calories.
  • The body will not readily use protein and fat for energy, since it is inefficient to do so.
  • A healthy diet should be based on complex carbohydrates which can be found in fruit, vegetables, grains and legumes.
  • Consuming a diet based on these foods will assure enough energy for the body to function optimally daily.


  • The most common question for people eating a plant-based diet is “where do you get your protein?”
  • Protein IS important for a number of reasons including the fact that our  immune system relies on proteins to form antibodies that fight bacteria and other foreign invaders.
  • There are 20 naturally occurring amino acids that comprise proteins. Eight of them are “essential” which means they must be provided from food; the body can synthesize the others.
  • Animal foods such as beef, pork, lamb, chicken, eggs, and dairy foods contain all of these eight essential amino acids.
  • Vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts and seeds all contain protein but very few contain all eight essential amino acids. Consuming a varied diet based on plant foods will provide enough of all of the essential amino acids needed for human health. At one time, it was thought that all 8 essential amino acids must be consumed at the same time in order for the body to make proper use of them but this is not true.
  • Although protein is important, human protein needs are actually quite low. Excretion studies show that protein needs are only 2.5% of daily calories
  • Breast milk, which fuels the rapid growth of human infants, is only 6% protein!
  • Federal guidelines for protein consumption vary – ranging from 10-35% of calories
  • Americans eat an average 15-16% of calories daily from protein; about 75% of it is from animal protein


  • Black Beans  26%
  • Oatmeal  14.5%
  • Asparagus  51%
  • Spinach  57%
  • Broccoli  42%
  • Cheddar Cheese  25%
  • Hamburger  37%
  • Skim milk  37%
  • Egg  34%


  • Fats are also an essential part of cell membranes, and fat tissue even helps to regulate body temperature.
  • Fat consumption should be limited to between 10 and 15% of daily calories
  • It is easy to over-consume fat, and when you do so, your body will store it.


  • Eat as much as you want of plant-based foods: fruits, vegetables, whole grains, plant milks without added sugar
  • Eat sparingly plant-based food that is high in fat:  avocado, nuts, coconut, olives and high sugar food like breads, dried fruit
  • Avoid dairy, oils, soft drinks
  • Special occasion:  alcohol, fruit juice, processed food

The above recommendations on the healthiest way to eat came from all the speakers.  Where am I at with this?  I aspire to it and I’m not 100% “Plant Perfect”.  Since my pregnancies, I’ve been less concerned about high-fat plant-based foods and have and continue to eat more than my fair share of avocados and nuts.  And during my pregnancies, I ate meat at least once/month purely on craving. In my first pregnancy, I craved red meat. In my second, I craved Thanksgiving dinner — turkey, stuffing and cranberry.

Breads. Our choice to limit breads this summer has made a difference in everyone’s health so we’re sticking to that.  Soft Drinks. The only soft drink that I’ve indulged in when someone offers it at a party is “Izze”.  Other than that, I haven’t had something akin to a Coke in over 10 years.  Oils/Dairy.  I go around and around on this.  I know it’s pure fat; I know it’s no bueno and calcium is better consumed in plants than dairy — and yet I haven’t fully let either go.  I still buy hummus made with oil and we still eat eggs/goat cheese once/week.  Special occasion items listed? Fruit juice – well, depends on if you call the blended up frozen fruit in our daily kale smoothie, fruit juice.  If you do — then I have fruit juice every day.  Processed food? Crackers still have me.  Alcohol? One glass of wine or beer a day after the kids are in bed?  Is that so bad?

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