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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