5 Must Have Vegan Cookbooks

Vegan Cookbooks

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Whether you are new to the vegan lifestyle or have been a vegan for years discovering new recipes and fabulous cookbooks is fun and inspiring. Eating vegan does not mean you have to sacrifice taste or variety simply because you removed meat, dairy and other animal products from your daily diet. Vegan is delicious, it is full of flavor and variety, and it is fun to try new ingredients which you may have never eaten before.

While I enjoy perusing online sources for delicious vegan recipes there is something fun and exciting about holding a cold crisp cookbook in my hands. When I bring home a new cookbook my children all want to sit down and look through it with me, comparing ingredients, and recommending new recipes we should try first. I enjoy those special times with my kids, sitting and enjoying the process of choosing what we are going to eat as a family. These cookbooks help to instill a love of cooking, meal planning, and the vegan lifestyle in each of them. Yes there is a time and place for website recipes and ebook cookbooks but tangible cookbooks will always have their special place in my kitchen.

In my search for delectable eats for my family, I’ve searched high and low and perused a plethora of vegan cookbooks. Here are the 5 vegan cookbooks that I reference most often when cooking for my family of nine.

  1. Oh She Glows Cookbook: What’s not to love about this amazing book that grew out of an extraordinary vegan recipe and lifestyle blog? Her recipes are practical, easy, and use ingredients that can be found in the average health focused grocery store. In addition to amazing recipes, I love the pictures included in this cookbook. They inspire me to want to get in my own kitchen and whip up her delicious recipes.
  2. The China Study Cookbook: This was the first vegan cookbook I purchased and I still use it at least once a week. The recipes in this book are inspired from the book The China Study and its sequel Whole and as a result are all vegan and do not use oils. Oils according to The China Study contribute to heart disease along with non-vegan diet choices. The photos in this book are not as fancy or professional looking as food photos that you will find in other cookbooks but the quality of the recipes is wonderful. They are all delicious, easy, and quick to prepare.
  3. The China Study All-Star Collection Cookbook: This all-star collection is the follow-up to the first China Study cookbook and in addition to family favorite recipes there is also a large selection of vegan recipes from very well known vegan chefs. Unlike in the first cookbook in this series, the photos are top notch and look good enough to eat right off of the page. The date syrup is one of the recipes one of my boys chose to make from this book and it is delicious and easy, so easy I kick myself for not thinking of it personally.
  4. Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats: Being gluten-free presents its own set of challenges in living a vegan lifestyle. Most vegan cookbooks use whole wheat flours and pastas. Accordingly, I have to find my own gluten free alternatives when making these types of recipes. I was so excited when I found this book at my local bookstore. It is full of recipes that everyone in my family can eat and enjoy. This is the newest book in my vegan cookbook collection and I am most looking forward to making the gluten free vegan raviolis and my kids can not wait until I make the pizza from this book.
  5. Forks Over Knives-The Cookbook: Long ago when my family and I first began our journey to healthier eating, which you can read about here, I watched the documentary Forks Over Knives with my husband. This movie along with Food Inc. solidified our decision to eating a cleaner and healthier diet. When the facts are presented in such a way that you simply can’t ignore them, you are doing yourself an injustice every time you ignore the information you’ve been blessed to receive. This cookbook is the companion to the Forks Over Knives documentary and includes amazing clean vegan eating recipes.

You can not go wrong in adding any of these cookbooks to your home library. Having delicious vegan recipes laid out in front of you will make the adjustment to eating vegan a lot easier and less overwhelming. Everything is there in black and white with simple to follow instructions, there is nothing complicated about preparing vegan meals. What I also enjoy about cooking vegan is the simplicity of the ingredients. Many vegan recipes are five ingredients or less. This approach not only makes cooking vegan simple and fast but it also saves of your food budget. Eating organic and vegan does not have to cost an arm and a leg like most will lead you to believe. Keep it simple, keep it fast, and keep it delicious, simple as that!

Do you have another favorite vegan cookbook? If so please share in the comments, I am always on the lookout for a new vegan cookbook.

Amazing Homeschool Bundle Opportunity

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Yes, I know this is a health and nutrition related blog. However, I am still a large family Mom who loves homeschooling all of my blessings. Homeschooling affords us the opportunity to travel with flexibility, tailor each child’s education to meet their specific needs, and keeps them out of the government schools which are far worse than when you or I were in public school.

With that said, from time to time my homeschooling hat will come out here on my blog. This is one of those opportunities!

If you have a website or other family, parenting, homeschooling social media outlet you won’t want to miss this amazing income opportunity. Build Your Bundle is currently recruiting affiliates for their upcoming bundle sale. Not only do you receive an amazing amount from each sale but you also have FOREVER cookies. That’s right, once someone clicks your link for sale you will receive all of the commissions from their purchases rather than it going to someone else when they click their affiliate link. You will also, as I’ve linked below receive 10% from all affiliates that sign-up through your personal link.

The holidays aren’t that far off, this is a great chance to start saving for a special gift or to simply supplement your income.

So don’t wait, sign-up today and start earning some cold hard cash!

Colorful Raw Quinoa Salad

 

Colorful Raw Quinoa Salad vegan gluten free alexismathews.com

Large family cooking needs to be quick and easy. However, quick and easy does not mean your large family has to eat unhealthy, grease laden foods. Quick and easy with proper planning can be healthy, delicious, and nutritious. Keep healthy and quick recipes like this one for Colorful Raw Quinoa Salad handy and at your fingertips.

Packed with raw veggies and herbs this salad is as nutritious as it is beautiful. Quinoa is a grain seed that is gluten free and packed with protein. One cup of quinoa is packed with 24g of protein which according to current recommendations is 48% of your recommended daily allowance. Wow! Couple this amazing grain with a bunch of fresh, raw, and organic veggies and your colorful raw quinoa salad is born.

My kids all LOVE this salad and I love that I can mix up a huge batch of it, keep it in the fridge all week and serve cold when my kid’s tummies are empty. I chop up a bunch of raw veggies, keep it colorful, and call it done. The possibilities of raw veggies you can include in this salad are almost limitless. This salad is a great way to use up the extra veggies you have before they spoil. There isn’t a vegetable that won’t taste great wrapped in quinoa goodness. Served cold this dish is also refreshing on those hot summer afternoons when you are hot, hungry, and don’t feel like cooking.

If you are quinoa intolerant this salad can easily be made with couscous, it will be just as delicious!

Colorful Raw Quinoa Salad

Ingredients:
4 cups cooked quinoa
2 medium bell peppers (green, red, orange, or yellow) diced
6 radishes sliced and quartered
2 ribs celery diced
1 cup chopped black olives
Handful of basil chopped
3T organic olive oil
3T golden balsamic vinegar
2T rice vinegar
Other veggies not pictured include; carrots, onions, artichoke hearts, hearts of palm, or any other veggies you like.

Directions:
Fluff cooked quinoa with a fork in a large bowl. Add in chopped veggies and mix well. In a separate bowl mix oil and vinegars well. Pour over quinoa and veggies, mix well. Enjoy immediately or chill and serve.

 

Linked at The New Mrs. Adventures

5 Gluten Free Mother’s Day Gifts

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Mother’s Day is right around the corner! Have you found the perfect gift for your Mom or other special woman in your life? Mother’s Day is a wonderful opportunity to remind your Mom that she truly means a lot to you and to show her your appreciation. Mothers can grow weary throughout the year and Mother’s day is your chance to refresh her spirit and give her a special gift that she will treasure for years to come.

What about that hard to shop for Mom that has gluten free diet restrictions?

Today I am guest posting over at A Mama’s Story, please join me there to read the rest of this post.

Black Bean and Spinach Quinoa Burgers

 

Black Bean Burger

There is something quintessential about digging your teeth into a juicy and delicious burger. It is the stuff legends are made of and the backbone of every summer cookout memory. However, when you live a vegan lifestyle what are you supposed to enjoy during the carnivorous summer barbecues? Surely, we don’t have to be left in the dust while others around us enjoy their carnivorous ways. Have no fear, bean burgers are here.

Bean burgers of any variety are the equivalent to vegans as the hamburger is to our meat loving friends and family. The bean burger possibilities are almost limitless. Pick you favorite bean, mix it with some veggies and spices, form into patties, bake or fry and you are golden. Simple as that.

With 7 children including 2 older boys who are growing at an unbelievable rate and love their protein it was imperative when we went vegan to replace their burgers and red meat sources with another delicious and filling meal replacement.

Enter our newest favorite bean burger, the black bean and spinach quinoa burger. Packed with protein, vitamins, and minerals this burger is a home run in the game of nutrition. Serve alongside with roasted veggies and you’ve got yourself a complete meal, low on carbs and high on taste.

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Black Bean and Spinach Quinoa Burgers

Ingredients:
2 cups cooked black beans
1 cup diced yellow or red potatoes, cooked
1/2 medium onion finely chopped
2T vegetable stock
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1T chopped garlic
1tsp coriander
1tsp cumin
1tsp salt
1tsp oregano
1 cup chopped fresh spinach

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375F
  • Saute onions in vegetable stock until translucent
  • To the onions add garlic, coriander, cumin, salt and oregano. Stir for 1 minute.
  • In a food processor add 1 cup of the black beans, 1 cup potatoes, and onion mixture. Process until well mixed and smooth.
  • In a sperate bowl mix quinoa, chopped spinach and black bean mixture from food processor. Form into burger sized patties.
  • Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 15-20 minutes or until firm.
  • Enjoy!

 

Keep Your Gluten Free Pantry Stocked

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A properly stocked gluten free pantry is a necessity if anyone in your family finds themselves living a gluten free lifestyle. Maybe it is by choice or by necessity, either way a gluten free pantry and kitchen filled with the essentials makes preparing meals a million times easier. Save time and save money, make sure your pantry is properly stocked with gluten free basics.

As a mom of 7 living a vegan, gluten free, sugar free, and soy free lifestyle living on one income I have to be conscious and careful with our monthly food budget. I can’t coupon or take advantage of my local store weekly sales because we simply don’t eat those items. As a result, I’ve had to be resourceful in finding sources for our food that are the lowest price available all the time.

For well over a year now I’ve ordered over half of our monthly pantry, kitchen, and bathroom supplies from Azure Standard. Azure Standard is what I like to think of as my “on-line” grocery store. I shop throughout the month and look forward to our monthly semi-truck delivery every 4 weeks. My family and I like to think of it as “Christmas” every month, our amazing delivery driver brings us gifts of food every. Azure is based out of Oregon and sells organic, natural, and non-GMO household, food, and homestead supplies.

Amazon is another one of my go-to sources for my gluten-free pantry needs. As a prime member I enjoy free 2-day shipping and enjoy the fact that I can shop and price compare from the comfort of my own home. Shopping from home allows me the freedom of not taking my 7 children with me to the store which any parent will tell you saves a ton of money in the long run. Not a prime member? Amazon is offering a free 30-day prime membership so this is a great time to try shopping on Amazon if you’ve never tried it before. One of my favorite gluten-free grocery items to purchase from Amazon are the Navitas Naturals Organic Goji Berries, 1 Pound Pouches. Goji berries are delicious in smoothies, baked goods, and my kids love them in raw trail mixes. I save even more by buying them through subscribe and save, 2lbs arrive at my doorstep at the same date every month. Hassle free shopping that saves me time and money, I love it!

My local health food store and the gluten free section of my grocery store are two other places I visit often enough that I can stay aware of sales, close-outs, or other special deals they might be running at the time.

One place I happily take my children to shop is our local farmers markets. Living in a large city we are lucky that there is a market almost everyday of the week if we so whose to visit them. We stock up on in-season organic fruit and produce while supporting our local farmers. These types of markets have been around for a long time, there is likely one near you to help stock your gluten free pantry and kitchen.

There are numerous other community supported agriculture (CSA) sources and online food co-ops throughout the country. Start asking around to your friends and neighbors, chances are very good that one of them uses a non-traditional source for saving money and time for purchasing their groceries and household goods.

Being that we are discussing gluten free pantry items naturally the biggest thing we have to steer clear of is wheat and processed foods made with wheat products. Fruits, vegetables, and animal based proteins (meat, dairy) are all safe on a gluten-free diet. In the list below I will focus on gluten-free items that you need to have on hand to replace gluten items in your baking and everyday cooking.

Gluten Free Whole Grain Flours

  • oat flour
  • brown rice flour
  • millet flour
  • sorghum flour
  • buckwheat flour
  • corn flour
  • mesquite flour
  • quinoa flour
  • sweet potato flour
  • teff flour

Gluten Free White Flours/Starches

  • white rice flour
  • tapioca flour
  • sweet rice flour
  • arrowroot flour
  • cornstarch
  • potato flour
  • potato starch

Gluten Free Nut Flours

  • almond flour
  • coconut flour
  • chestnut flour
  • hazelnut flour

Gluten Free Bean Flours

  • roasted soy bean flour (kinako)
  • fave bean flour
  • garbanzo bean flour

Gluten Free Snacks (choose GF products)

  • Pretzels
  • Crackers
  • Nuts
  • Tortilla chips
  • Seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, chia, flax)
  • Seaweed
  • fresh fruit
  • fresh veggies
  • pickles

Gluten Free Main Meal

  • Meats
  • Dairy (cheeses, milk, cream cheese, sour cream, etc)
  • Quinoa
  • Couscous
  • Beans (pinto, black, kidney, lima, navy, white, black-eyed peas, garbanzo, pink, adzuki)
  • Buckwheat (not truly a member of the wheat family and is 100% gluten free)
  • Pastas (it will take trial and error to find a good GF pasta you and your family like)
  • Gluten free breads

Gluten Free Seasonings

  • Real sea salt
  • Pepper
  • Your favorite spices (mine include curries, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, garam masala, ginger and many more)
  • Dried and fresh herbs (dill, basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, rosemary, sage)
  • Coconut Aminos (used like soy sauce without the soy)
  • Vinegars (red wine, apple cider, white wine, rice)
  • Oils (olive, coconut, sunflower, stay away from vegetable and canola because of health reasons)
  • Condiments (mayo, mustard, ketchup, relish)

To download a PDF of this list, please click on the image below:

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Do you have other must have items in your pantry? Please share them in the comments below.

Vegan and Gluten Free Snack Ideas for Kids at the Beach or Park

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Beach and park weather is right around the corner or depending on where you live the warm weather might be here already. Feeding children healthy and nutritious vegan gluten-free snacks at home is easy enough once your find your routine and what your children enjoy eating. What about when you are out and about enjoying the outdoors? Convenient and easy to transport vegan gluten-free meals and snacks are not always the easiest things to create.

We are a busy family of 9 who seems to always be on the go for one reason or another. Once our homeschool work is complete we are typically outside or off an on outing to enjoy the beautiful climate we live in. This has forced me to get creative when planning and packing for all of my hungry children on our outings. As any mother will tell you, snacks are an absolute necessity when going any where with children. Healthy and nutritious food can stave off temper tantrums induced by a hungry tummy and keep everyone happy while you enjoy the outdoors. Don’t let your healthy lifestyle and eating habits waver just because you are away from home and the comforts of your kitchen. Plan ahead and save yourself stress!

Here is a list of my favorite snacks to pack for my large crew when we are out and about.

  • Fresh fruits such as bananas, apple slices, and orange slices
  • Almond butter to dip banana or apple slices (provides an excellent source of protein)
  • Dried fruit free of sweeteners or sulfites
  • Late July Sea salt by the Seashore chips
  • Carrots, celery, cherry tomatoes, and other fun finger food fresh veggies
  • Seaweed in personal snack packs
  • Cucumbers, peeled with a touch of sea salt
  • Rice crackers
  • Sandwich idea: almond butter and organic jelly on gluten free bread or rolled in rice tortillas
  • Trail mix with raw cashews, pumpkin seeds (pepitas), dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, and raisins
  • and anything else that you can think of which your children enjoy, fits your food choices, and is easily transported
  • popcorn

Do you have a favorite vegan or gluten-free kid friendly snack idea not listed above? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

Shared at Share Your Stuff Tuesday

11 Ways to Easily Remove Processed Sugars From Your Diet

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You might remember in my last post I shared how I cured my crazy mood swings naturally. Many of you wrote to me and asked how I went about actually removing processed sugars from my daily diet. I know just the thought of not eating sugar can be enough to cause an anxiety attack and really why would you want to give up something that tastes so good. The answer is simple, because it isn’t good for you and health matters!

Remember our simple rule, everything that goes into our mouths needs to nutritionally and physically build up our bodies rather than tear it down. Sugar does not fit this criteria. The bad bacteria in our stomachs and gut, such as candida, feed off of refined sugar. The average American diet is so full of processed sugars that candida overgrowth is becoming an epidemic. This yeast bacteria causes a whole host of negative side effects including fatigue, skin problems, bowel issues, reoccurring yeast infections in women, and nail fungus just to name a few. At the bottom of this post I have included a video for you to watch on candida. It is a long video and may sound like a scare tactic but the science presented is sound and the history of the epidemic is correct.

Ever wondered why you have sugar cravings? This stuff is addicting, just like nicotine and illegal drugs. Your brain is craving the release of pleasure center chemicals, it needs another “sugar” fix. Why would we possibly want to put this poison in our bodies? Cancer cells are also dependent on this quick energy source. Cancer needs sugar to grow and multiply. This one is a no brainer, get the sugar out of your diet!

Here are 11 ways to easily remove processed sugars from your diet; every one of them I put into practice myself and noticed the benefits nearly immediately.

1. Stop drinking soda/pop and sweetened drinks

Soda (or pop if you prefer to call it) and sweetened drinks such as juice and energy drinks are one of the largest contributor of processed sugars in the American diet. A 12oz can of regular cola has 39g of sugar, that is over 3g of sugar in every ounce. Sugar Stacks has a great visual representation of the amount of sugar in grams contained in most of the popular drinks.

By removing soda, juices, and energy drinks from your diet you will take a huge chunk out of your daily sugar consumption. If you have kids though you are likely wondering what you could possibly replace these drinks with and still make sure your child is drinking enough, especially if you have little ones like me and water isn’t their go-to drink. In our home we drastically dilute organic from concentrate apple juice and I mean drastically. For every 8oz my toddlers drink of “juice” there is 1-2oz of juice diluted in filtered water. As my toddlers get older I am working to further reduce this percentage and offer them straight water on a more regular basis. Fresh squeezed fruit juice does not fall in this category, especially if your are blending it in a high powered blender such as a Vita-Mix, you will get all the benefits of fiber from the food as well as all of the other vitamins and minerals.

2. Say good-bye to candy and nightly desserts

Candy and desserts rank right up there with soda as a huge contributor of refined sugars in our diet. You don’t need any of this stuff, honestly and truly. If you’d like to have a treat after a special occasion dinner make smart choices. Choose organic fruit or a dessert that has been made with minimal natural sugars such as sucanat or coconut sugar.

You might be wondering, what about my kids? What about them? They don’t need candy, honestly they don’t. If you see candy and desserts for what they are, poison to your body, why would you possibly want to feed it to your children? No you aren’t depriving them. Is one piece every once in a while (as in every 2-3 months) ok, of course it is. Fortunately for us our bodies can recover from infrequent assaults on our health. It is the daily overconsumption that overwhelms our system and wreaks havoc on our cells. If your children are old enough, explain to them why candy and sweet treats aren’t good for them. Tell them that we only have one body and we need to take care of it. We aren’t taking care of our bodies if we costume sweet treats everyday.

3. Read labels

When you make a habit of reading labels you will be shocked at the amount of foods that contain high volumes of sugars. If the item doesn’t contain milk of juice then you be assured that all of the sugars on the label come from refined sugars. Manufacturers have caught on to the label readers and do their best to hide “sugar” from their ingredient lists. Here are the other names that sugar can be disguised under:

  • brown sugar
  • corn sweetener
  • corn syrup
  • fruit juice concentrate
  • high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS)
  • honey
  • invert sugar
  • malt sugar
  • molasses
  • raw sugar
  • dextrose, maltose, fructose, sucrose, lactose, glucose (“ose” is the scientific term for sugar molecules)
  • syrup

As you become an educated and label reading consumer it will be easier to decipher the ingredient lists. You might also begin to notice there are other additives in your foods that you want to stay away from. I will address the preservative and additives that my family and I steer clear of in another post.

4. Eat real foods

Speaking of label reading, the easiest way to avoid issues with added ingredients is to just stay away from processed foods altogether. I know this isn’t always possible, we don’t have all day in the kitchen to devote to cooking our own foods. You will certainly find bags and boxes of foods in my pantry. However, I make sure that what I do purchase pre-made is clean of ingredients I choose not to eat.

There is a great sense of pride that comes with eating what you cook at home. It is comforting to know what you put in your meals and best of all you are serving your family a little dose of love on a plate. You love your family and yourself enough to take the time to plan meals and cook healthy, wholesome, clean meals free of processed ingredients. Once you stock your pantry with key ingredients making homemade real food meals is so incredibly easy.

5. Write down your goal or motivation, post in a visible spot

If you are a visual reminder type of person, this is a great way to stay focused on your goal. A clear and daily reminder of why you are removing sugar from your diet will keep you on track and focused during those weak moments. The first few days of sugar detox are the hardest. Your cravings will be intense, just like withdrawals from a drug, but you can get through it and will be SO much healthier once the cravings pass.

6. Make smart choices when eating out

I cook 99% of our meals because our diet limits us to where we can eat out at. Fortunately, being simply sugar free isn’t going to limit your choices of restaurants to any great degree. Make wise food choices if you do choose to eat out, skip dessert, and simply drink water.

7. Find a partner to go “sugar free” with

Having an accountability partner is an amazing way to stay motivated when making any new change in your lifestyle. A spouse, good friend, co-worker, or even an older child of yours are all great choices when choosing to go sugar free. You can serve as encouraging factors in each other’s lives when you experience moments of weakness. A simple encouraging word and reminder from your accountability partner can go a long way in keeping you on the right track to a healthier lifestyle. Health matters!

8. Drink plenty of water

Water serves so many amazing purposes in our bodies. Our body is mainly water so we need it to stay healthy and functioning properly. It is recommended that you drink 66% of your weight in ounces of water everyday. For example, if someone weighs 200lbs they should drink a minimum of 132 ounces of clean filtered water everyday for optimum health. Not only will an adequate water intake keep you feeling full between meals thereby reduce your overall calorie intake during the day but it will also flush your body of toxins and harmful chemicals. Your skin will look amazing too once you are properly hydrated.

9. List all of the sources of sugars currently in your diet

A stark reminder of how much hidden sugar you consume everyday is to take an inventory of your pantry, refrigerator, and any extra items you purchase throughout the day. That Starbucks or Big-gulp is FULL of sugar, they taste so good and your crave them because they are nearly nothing but sugar. Look at the food labels in your home and note the ingredients as well as the carbohydrates. If there is no milk or fruit juices in your ingredient list then all of the calories from sugar are 100% from refined sugar sources.

10. Set a minimum amount of time you will be sugar free

Changes in our lives are made easier when set finite goals for ourselves. When my husband announced we were going vegan we set a 21 day goal for ourselves. At the end of 21 days we would re-evaluate if we wanted to continue or not. The same is true for going sugar free. Set at least a 3 week goal for yourself, anything less and the changes might not be as obvious. Stay committed with your accountability partner for at least 21 days. At the end, ask yourself if you need to add sugar back in your diet. If you are honest with yourself, your answer will most likely be “no I don’t need it” and your craving or “want” for sugar will be gone as well after at least 21 days. As I mentioned in the previous post, linked at the beginning of this article, I know first hand the consequences of adding sugar back in during a moment of weakness. The results were not pretty and I had to detox all over again, not something I want to do ever again!

11. Don’t focus on it, just do it and have fun

Don’t let being sugar free consume your every thought throughout the day. There are so many other alternatives out there that taste amazing and are sugar free. Discover a new fruit, a new recipe, try a new fresh squeezed fruit juice from your local health food store, the options are limitless. Just don’t focus on it and let it consume you.

Here is a a video which discusses sugar and the candida epidemic:

http://trutube.tv/video/19324/The-American-Parasite-Candida-250-Million-Americans-Infected

If you decide to take a step in the right direction and go remove processed sugars from your diet please let me know. I’d love to hear from you, answer any questions you might have, and help support you along the way.

How I Cured My Crazy Mood Swings Naturally

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I used to think that a certain time of the month triggered my crazy mood swings. You know the ones, happy one minute then flying off the handle mad or frustrated over something so trivial and simple the next. But in reality the time of month didn’t matter, everyday was fair game for my happy one moment gone the next moods. Day after day I would go to bed and pray at length that tomorrow would be different. Tomorrow I prayed, would be full of happiness, patience, and respect for those around me and myself. When tomorrow came however I wasn’t different, just more of the same.

What was I going to do? I couldn’t continue like this, not for the sake of my family or my own happiness and stress.

I researched a myriad of solutions but nothing seemed right. They were either drug induced changes, hormone and mood altering herbs, or “snap out of it you crazy lady” options. I knew there had to be a natural solution because I hadn’t always been this way, certainly not to this extreme. I knew the stress of a large family, homeschooling, and marriage were taking it’s toll on me. I needed a solution that didn’t involve drugs, pills, or daily supplements. Something told me that the solution was out there, or in me as it turned out.

As of today, approximately 8 weeks ago my husband and I made the choice to remove all process sugars, animal proteins, and gluten from our diet. I’ve discussed the path we took to come to this decision in a previous article but what I didn’t know when we came to that decision was all of the changes it would have on my body and mental well-being.

I don’t know when the change in my moods happened, they just happened. I didn’t feel anything change, I didn’t feel a weight lift off of my shoulders, and I didn’t feel click my heels together in the air happy. I was just me, a homeschooling mom of 7 trying to raise my family the best I can each day. Gone were the fits of frustration, the walk away before I yell moments, and no longer was I holding my head before it exploded with anger. Yes, some days were that bad. It’s the truth. I didn’t notice these changes though, truly I didn’t. That is until the mood swings came back with a vengeance.

What could I possibly have done to bring back the mood swings?

I had 3 days of weakness. 3 days of afternoon binging on pre-Easter candy. Berry flavored lemon heads in abundance to be exact. Yes I did and they tasted great. But I couldn’t stop opening pack after pack and downing them before my toddlers asked for one. In those 3 days, I easily binged on 12-15 packs of lemon heads each day. It wasn’t pretty.

Then it happened.

The mode swing infested, frustration overload, red steam coming out of my ears self returned. Everyone in my family noticed. I just feel like a different person when I am that way, not myself at all. I know better, truly I do, I just let every little thing get to me and when you have 7 kids, a husband, a dog, and a cat, there are lots of little things everyday. When the red faced self returned and I finally correlated that I hadn’t felt that way since removing processed sugars and only after re-introducing it in abundance did I feel this ugly again I immediately threw out what was left of my kids pre-Easter candy. I talked to my husband about what I had discovered and he agreed, sugars were now clearly off limits for GOOD reason. I also discussed it with my children so they could understand the affects that processed sugars could have on them and why it was even more important to keep those items out of the house. They all agreed and understood. This made Easter day activities so much easier, they all said they didn’t want candy in their baskets and what candy they did accumulate at Easter hunts was not brought home.

It took 3 solid days to detox from the candy and sugar that I consumed. 3 wrenching days to get it out of my system and return to the more calm and relaxed self that I used to be so many years ago before kids, marriage, and homeschool stress. It wasn’t easy, everyday I prayed that it would be the last. But through those struggles I have a renewed sense of appreciation for what food can and does do to our bodies.

Everything we put in our mouths has an affect on our body. It is our duty and responsibility to make sure that we do consume every time our hand goes to our mouth is that we are nourishing and encouraging healthy growth in our bodies. We must build up our bodies rather than tear them down.

If you are struggling with mood swings, I’d encourage you to take a hard look at your diet. Sugar is likely the culprit.

The Author and History Behind Health Matters with Alexis Mathews

Author History_HM

With every change their is a journey, a process by which you arrived at your current situation. Along that journey choices are made, decisions debated, regrets surmised, and hopefully ultimately growth achieved. Our journeys all appear different, follow different paths, take varying forks in the road but in the end we can end up at the same destination.

Health Matters.

The destination for myself and my family is a vegan lifestyle. No not a diet, truly in every sense of the word a lifestyle. Diets are temporary, lifestyles are permanent changes, the way in which you live your everyday life with no foreseeable end in sight.

My “healthy lifestyle” journey started so long ago I dare not put a timeline on the beginning. First it was a few organic fruits and vegetables which morphed into all organic fruits and vegetables. Then it became non-GMO and organic everything, meat and dairy included as well as all grains, flours, everything. From there we began raw dairy and meats straight from the farmer. For a while as we lived and enjoyed the organic, raw, and meat from the farmer lifestyle I thought we had arrived. Truly arrived at the ultimately healthiest lifestyle we could achieve. I was baking my own crackers, making our butter, enjoying fresh raw buttermilk, growing our own garden and canning/preserving like a mad crazy woman. I enjoyed this life I truly did. Then it happened.

We made a decision. Our life took a different path. We moved.

Gone were my raw dairy and meat farmer sources. Gone was my bi-weekly shopping routine. We returned to the chaos of Southern California and my life turned upside down. Then it something else happened. My husband and I finally sat down and listened to his parents go on and on about their vegan “diet”, or so they called it. For months leading up to this conversation, I had greatly reduced my personal meat consumption, never having consumed nearly normal the amount of dairy that the average american “enjoys” everyday. My meat-loving husband on the other hand hadn’t even considered a change such as this. The turning point came when my in-laws returned from a week long cruise in which they heard lectures from leading vegan scientists and doctors such as T. Colin Campbell Ph D. and Caldwell B. Esselstyn MD. After this cruise my once steadfast Father-in-law had made the choice after hearing the evidence to remove all animal protein sources from his diet, something that his wife, my mother-in-law had done quite some time ago. If his Dad had made the choice, that was enough evidence for my husband to try vegan for 21 days. Yes, this lifestyle started with a simple 21 day pledge to remove all animal protein from our diets.

With 7 kids, a family of 9 to feed, my menu plan went straight out the window. Now what?

Onward we marched though and those 3 weeks turned into months. We started seeing changes almost immediately. I started to lose those extra pounds I couldn’t seem to shake after having 3 kids in 1 year. My husband, an adult-onset type-1 diabetic, noticed changes in his blood glucose levels within just 3 days for the better. 6 weeks into the journey, he was able to reduce his daily insulin intake from over 20 units per day previously to 3 maybe 4 units all day, not including a long acting once daily shot he has to take. This personal evidence alone was enough to make us new believers in a vegan lifestyle. At that point it truly had become a lifestyle. How could we go back to feeding our bodies animal proteins when the health benefits were staring us in the face. Why would we intentionally poison our bodies with something that was clearly exacerbating my husband’s diabetic condition?

The journey to a vegan lifestyle has been paved with ups and downs, lessons learned, and experiences encountered. As a large family Mom, I’m not only changing my own eating habits but I am creating lifelong lifestyle habits for my children. We are raising the next generation of health conscious, healthy living minded people. We are working to educate our children on the whys and hows of our new found health freedom, they must acquire this knowledge if they are going to put it into practice in their own adult lives and families.

Why health matters?

Health matters because we’ve one got one body. One life, one life to live the best we possibly can. Food is our fuel and our daily choices either power our bodies or drag them down. Health matters because healthy living is a lifestyle not a diet.

This blog was born out of a a long history of education both in biology and nutrition that has culminated in the healthiest and happiest I have ever personally felt in my entire life, nearly 40 years (ouch did I just say that?). Honestly though, I mean every bit of that through and through. My weight is under control, my emotions are not all over the place, all in all I can feel that my body is functioning the way it was meant to live.

Through this platform I will explore a myriad of aspects living a vegan lifestyle, share with your healthy, affordable, and easy to prepare meal ideas, and most of all I want to come alongside of you and help you on your journey to a healthier and happier life.