3 Health Benefits of Dairy Free Foods

This month marks 2 years since my family and I made the choice to live a vegan lifestyle. What started as 3 week experiment has grown into a lifelong choice. My family and I have particularly enjoyed the health benefits of our dairy free food choices.

There are numerous reasons to live a dairy free lifestyle but to fully appreciate the benefits you need to live them for yourself. 

3 health benefits of dairy free foods. Learn how to improve your health by making one simple change in your diet. AlexisMathews.com

10 Health Benefits of Dairy Free Foods

Healthy Digestion

Lactose intolerance causes digestive problems in millions of people. These issues include stomach pain, stomach cramps, flatulence, bowel issues and nausea.  It has been estimated that 70% of the world’s population has some degree of lactose intolerance. After weaning, babies no longer need the ability to digest milk so we gradually lose lactase, the enzyme needed to breakdown and digest lactose. The lactose in dairy products can also trigger irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and chronic constipation.

Stronger Bones

Yes, believe it or not there is a large body of evidence that shows you develop stronger bones when living a dairy free lifestyle. According to a landmark Harvard study* of approximately 78,000 female nurses, “…women consuming greater amounts of calcium from dairy foods had significantly increased risks of hip fractures, while no increase in fracture risk was observed for the same levels of calcium from nondairy sources.” Other studies have shown that populations with the highest dairy consumption also have the highest incidence of osteoporosis.

Clearer Skin

The exact cause isn’t known but it could be linked to the inflammation that dairy causes in the human body. However, for those that struggle with acne most realize a drastic improvement in their skin after removing dairy products from their diet. The hormones found in dairy products may also be a cause of human acne. Even though the exact correlation isn’t clear, dermatologists are recommending living a dairy free lifestyle to keep skin clear and healthy.

Dairy Free, Now What?

So now you are heavily considering removing dairy products from your diet but what about yogurt, ice cream treats, and coffee creamer? Fortunately, there are a whole host of amazing dairy free products on the market for you to enjoy. 

One that our family enjoys is So Delicious, which offers everything from dairy free cultured yogurt, sweet ice cream treats, and beverages like milk and coffee creamer.

PP So Delicious

HMLM Affiliate Disclosure

My children all love the dairy free cultured yogurt and I love that it contains probiotics which promote a healthy gut and digestion. So Delicious is also our go-to for special birthday treats and other special occasions. Their ice cream bars are amazing!

This week So Delicious has a special offer in ValPak for $1 off one 16oz. or larger So Delicious dairy free creamer. So go grab the ValPak from this week’s mail and find that coupon. Head on down to your local grocer and enjoy a dairy free coffee creamer this week with your morning cup of coffee.

If you did not receive a ValPak in your mail this week or live outside of the distribution area for the So Delicious coupon, you are in luck! Download and print this coupon!

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“This post is sponsored by Savings.com.”

*12-year Harvard study of 77,761 female nurses, as published in the American Journal of Public Health (1997, volume 87)

7 Ways To Exercise For Free

It’s time to get fit, and these ways to exercise for free will help anyone make it possible. 

Just because your budget doesn’t allow for a fancy gym membership doesn’t mean you can’t exercise regularly and make an impact on your health. 

Friends, there are some great ways you can easily get in exercise, improve your health, build strength and drop a few pounds for no out of pocket cost. 

You can no longer let your budget hold you back in being healthy. Here are 7 Ways To Exercise For Free.

7 Ways To Exercise For Free

Go for a walk or run.  It is the classic exercise that almost everyone can do, and is typically absolutely free.  While you may want to invest in good walking shoes, some quality winter weather gear and maybe a safety reflector for walking in darker hours – it is a free and easy method of getting exercise.  Walk around your neighborhood, in the local mall, around a high school track or football field or even in laps inside your own home.  

Use free videos online for workout tips.  If you already have a streaming program like Amazon Prime, Hulu or Netflix you may be able to find workout videos free to use in your home.  If not, never hesitate to check places like Youtube or Vimeo for classes or videos that have been shared.  

Use household items as weights.  If you can’t afford to buy a few hand weights, you can exercise for free using things like canned goods, milk jugs filled with water or dry beans, and even use things like lifting bags of flour or sugar to incorporate more strength training into your routine. 

Walk instead of drive to local stores and businesses.  Depending on what part of the city or country you live in, you may be able to easily walk to the grocery store, school with your kids or even to work.  Leave your car at home and walk or bicycle as often as you can. 

Swim at your community pool, lake or beach.  While not everyone has access to a community pool, some do.  If you have a community pool or you live close to a lake or the ocean you can easily get some free and fun exercise by swimming.  Playing in the water with your kids is a great way to exercise, but taking laps on a regular basis can build up strength in your arms, legs, back and even abdomen. 

Play sports.  Whether you simply shoot hoops in the driveway with your kids or join a local softball league playing sports or playing with your kids on a regular basis is a great form of exercise.  It can easily be done as a family at home for free, or in a local group for a small fee if you can afford the investment. 

Go for bike rides or hikes.  Not everyone likes being outside, but if you do then take advantage by going for a bike ride or a hike with your family on a regular basis.  Both of these fun outdoor activities are free, easy to accomplish and easy to adapt to your individual physical needs.  

If you are determined to get fit this year but don’t have the budget for a regular gym membership then this list of ways to exercise for free is the perfect place to start.  Work with what you are physically and financially able to do.  The important thing is to simply get moving to improve your health.

What is your favorite way to exercise for free?

New Year’s Resolutions To Improve Your Health

This year you can focus on some great New Year’s resolutions to improve your health that are easy to include in your daily life.  From minor changes to your routine to major improvements that come easily with time, these resolutions can revamp your health in great ways this year. 

New Years resolutions to improve your health and no they don't involve dieting or crazy amounts of exercise. Set realistic health and fitness goals this year.

New Year’s Resolutions To Improve Your Health

Eliminate soft drinks and sugary beverages.  Not only does sugar turn to fat causing weight gain, it can create blood sugar issues, sugar highs and crashes as well as additional cravings.  Eliminating soft drinks will get rid of the added sugar and calories along with tons of chemicals and dyes that are unhealthy.  If you are drinking diet soft drinks, the sugar substitutes in them are even harsher on your system.  Remove the sugar drinks from your diet as part of your New Year’s resolutions and include more water and fruit sweetened beverages like teas.   

Get enough sleep at night. Skipping sleep is one of the worst things you can do for your health.  Not only does your body struggle to fight off infection when it isn’t well rested, it can cause weight gain and increased risk for a disease.  Your body needs sleep not just to focus better during waking hours, but to digest food properly, burn calories and heal itself from within.  The average adult needs 7-10 hours of sleep per night.  Make sure you are regularly getting enough sleep as one of your healthy New Year’s resolutions this year. 

Eliminate processed foods from your diet.  Processed foods come in the form of not just cakes, cookies and chips, but also the meal kits, and processed canned soups we often eat.  Focus on making more food from scratch using organic and non-GMO products when available.  Try to include more grass-fed, antibiotic-free and free-range meats in your diet as well to keep your focus on fewer chemicals and more nutrient dense foods your body needs for fuel. 

Increase your current exercise level.  Even if you have chronic pain, injuries or restrictions, there are always small ways to increase your current exercise level.  Check with your physician prior to a new exercise regimen for safety, but focus on adding in things on a gradual basis so as to not overwhelm yourself.  Go for a walk.  Get up and move around your house.  Do a few leg lifts or crunches each day.  Even little additions of movement in your life can make a big difference in overall health. 

Get rid of negative people in your life.  Just as much as your physical health may need improvement, your emotional and mental health is vital.  Negativity, abuse and frustration from other people often bring down your own state of mind.  Make a list of people who automatically come to mind when you think of the negative people in your life.  Choose to keep those in your life who you feel are valuable and perhaps just struggling at the moment, and eliminate any others that are not a vital part of your life.  Get rid of the negativity from people around you and see your emotional well-being improve.  This may simply mean blocking their social media statuses and keeping them at a distance, or it could mean removing them completely from your life. 

These New Year’s resolutions to improve your health are easy for anyone to manage.  Some take a bit more determination, and others may require some will power but all are great choices.  Making good New Year’s resolution choices is important when it comes time to stick with something long term.  Do things you feel you are capable of continuing, and focus on what will benefit your life the most this year. 

Benefits of Daily Lemon Water

Drinking lemon water daily, especially first thing in the morning has numerous health benefits. A warm glass of lemon water first thing in the morning aids your digestive system and makes the flushing of toxins easier for your internal organs.

Lemon water has zero calories and provides some key essential vitamins and minerals. 

 

The benefits of lemon water a numerous. Drink a glass or more daily to keep the health benefits. Health Matters. Life Matters.

Benefits of Water

At it’s core lemon water is simply water. We all know the health benefits that drinking water provides including hydration, flushing of toxins, and increased energy. If drinking plain water is not particularly palatable to you, adding some lemon might be just the trick to improve the taste so you can enjoy your water intake. Water makes up 60% of your body and is essential for the function of every organ and internal system.

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Most Popular Posts of 2014

 

Health Matters. Life Matters. Popular Posts of 2014. AlexisMathews.com

A new year has begun and with it comes a time for reflection and re-evaluation. As I mentioned previously, my word for this year is Faith. I have faith that there will be personal and professional growth in my life this year. A big part of that professional growth involves you. You have helped make this past year an amazing first year for Health Matters. Life Matters.

Because of your support the following 10 blog posts stood out among the rest as my most popular posts in 2014. This reflection gives me great insight into what you need from me in the coming year. It is my goal to provide more content related to the topics you clearly enjoy. Thank you for your support and encouragement over the past year, I truly appreciate it from the bottom of my heart.

 
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4. 11 Ways to Easily Remove Processed Sugars From Your Diet

Wheat free journey towards a healthier lifestyle. Clear skin, body free of pain, weight loss all from going gluten free.

5. My Experiment with a Drastic Change in Diet

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7. 16 Best Ways to Utilize Nutritional Yeast

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8. Colorful Raw Quinoa Salad

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10. Vegan Cheese Alternatives

You Owe it to Your Children to Make this Change

You Owe it to Your Children to Make this Change. www.alexismathews.com

Yesterday, as my nine year old son and I were driving home from a fun afternoon of swimming with the family we got into a pretty deep conversation. A conversation in which we discussed the fact that once you have children every decision you make in life has to be decided with your children in mind.

Although my son and I weren’t talking specifically about health related decisions our conversation could have easily included this topic.

Everyday I have at least one child in my lap happily eating off of my plate. They may have been served the very same meal but everything tastes better from Mommy’s plate and when eaten while sitting on Mommy’s lap.

I welcome my children onto my lap during meal time because I know these moments are fleeting and I want to absorb every last minute with my children while they are young while I am able.

I also welcome children on my lap while I eat because it encourages them to eat what I am eating. I have found that my children, especially the toddlers are more likely to eat vegetables when they see them on my plate and enjoy them from my lap. I want my children to learn to love a wide variety of foods from a very young age so I always allow them to sit on my lap while I eat.

Knowing that a child is more than likely going to wind up eating from my plate also gives me incentive to choose more wisely when I serve myself a meal. I aim to set a good example of foods to eat and others to avoid based on the choices I make throughout the day.

I eat healthy because I owe it to my children. They deserve to have their Mom around for as long as possible and my life expectancy is directly related to the foods I choose to eat each and everyday.

I owe it to my children to teach them healthy eating habits from the time they start solid foods.

I owe it to my children to exercise regularly so that I am healthy and live longer.

I owe it to my children to welcome them with open arms when they want to eat from my plate.

I owe it to my children to set a good example with the foods I eat.

Every decision I make, food related or not takes the well being and happiness of my children into account because I owe it to them. All 7 of them!

I live a healthy life because I owe it to my children!

Where is your motivation to live a healthy life?

Your Health Matters, Make a Change Today

Your health matters, make a change for the better today. 5 tips for making today healthier than yesterday. www.alexismathews.com

Consider the following questions.

When you look in the mirror how do you feel? What are the first thoughts that honestly and truly run through your mind? What about how you feel on the inside? How is your overall health? Have you ever thought “I wish I had more energy.”, “I wish I had the energy to run after my young children all day.”?

Or perhaps you’ve been told by your doctor that for your health and well being you need to lose some weight.

If your answers to any of the questions above leave you feeling like it is time to make a change in your eating habits, exercise routine, and overall health the time to change is NOW.

Not tomorrow, not next Monday, not the first of the month. Today, right now, immediately. There is no time to waste. You owe it to yourself and your family to change your unhealthy habits today.

Now that you’ve decided to improve your health, what does that mean and how do you begin?

5 steps to take today to reclaim your your health today:

  1. Get rid of all of the processed and junk food in your kitchen. The temptation to fall back into your unhealthy eating habits will be too strong if the unhealthy food is within arms reach. While you are at it, vow to not buy processed foods. There are limitless healthy, real food options to replace the convenience foods you use as a crutch.
  2. Establish an exercise routine that fits easily in your schedule. For some this means getting up an hour early or for others it means not plopping down on the couch after dinner. There is time in your day to exercise I promise, you just have to make it a priority and give up something else that is taking away from your health. Do your little ones still nap during the day? Grab 20-30 minutes while they sleep and do an exercise video. Perhaps you can make exercise a family event, get everyone on their bikes or in the stroller and head out for a walk/jog, now the whole family is improving their healthy not just you. Find an exercise you can tolerate in the beginning, I promise you that you will either learn to love it and crave it or you will stumble upon something else that you enjoy more. The key is to just get out there an move!
  3. Make eating healthy easy. Pre-cook and pre-plan your healthy meals. I always have at least 2-3 types of beans cooked and in our outside refrigerator. I also make sure to have cashew cream, hummus, rice, and couscous (or quinoa) in the refrigerator ready to eat. Pre-cooking staples in our diet takes the hassle and guess work out of preparing healthy meals quickly and easily for my large family.
  4. Set a daily water intake goal. Water is our lifeline. When in a survival situation you can go a lot longer without food than you can without water. Water is the number one way our body flushes toxins from our system. Just like taking a shower, drinking water helps to keep our body clean and healthy. Your daily water intake goal should be 2/3 your body weight in ounces. For example, if you weight 150 pounds, you should aim to drink 100 ounces of filtered water every day.
  5. Give yourself grace. Not everyday is going to be perfect but you shouldn’t allow yourself to continue making unhealthy lifestyle choices simply because it is easier than doing nothing. If you have a piece of candy, don’t eat more than one. If you don’t meet your water intake goal every day, give yourself grace. There is always tomorrow to build upon and grow from the lessons you learned today. Just don’t let yourself repeat the mistakes from today and fall into your old unhealthy lifestyle habits.

You owe it to yourself to make a change in your lifestyle for the better today!

What steps are you going to take today to make yourself and your life a priority?

When Your Health Hits Rock Bottom

Encouragement for when your health hits rock bottom and your are ready to make a change.

Stop for minute and consider your health and well being.

What has brought you to the point you find yourself at in life right now?

Unhealthy eating habits and lifestyle choices are most often a reflection of other challenges in our lives. We turn to comfort food and lazy choices as a crutch for our struggles. It is easier to eat fast food and sit on the couch than it is to face our problems and make positive changes.

Making changes takes energy and motivation, something we all possess when the time is right. You have to be in the right place in life though to realize that your health has to be the number one priority. You matter for not only yourself but your family, your children, and your friends. If you continue down the unhealthy lifestyle road you are currently on you won’t be around for those that matter the most in your life.

The time to change is now.

Yes it is easier to just continue living life as you have, dependent on convenience and processed foods, guzzling soda instead of water, grabbing a sugar filled mid-day pick-me-up because you are so exhausted. I agree whole heartedly a life of convenience is easier than the healthier alternative.

The question you have to ask yourself though is what is most important? Convenience or your health?

If you sit on the edge of the playground because you are too tired to play with your children at the park or you can’t get through the day without a nap, the time to change is NOW.

If you just got word that you have a new health condition, undeniably the time to change is NOW.

If you’ve been battling an auto-immune disease, go in for frequent checks of your thyroid, monitor your blood sugar, have skin issues that just won’t go away, or a whole myriad of other undesirable health conditions the time to change is NOW.

Not tomorrow, not next Monday, not the first of the month, and not when your friend is ready to make the change with you. The time to change is NOW.

Do you get what I’m trying to say here? There is truly no time to lose when it comes to your health. Every bite of unhealthy food, every guzzle of high fructose corn syrup filled drink you consume is a step in the wrong direction when it comes to your health.

No one else can make the change but you. The greasy, sugar filled convenience foods you continue to eat do not affect anyone else but you. Stuffing your face with junk because you are sad or mad or lazy doesn’t make anything in your life better. It certainly isn’t going to make you happy or more energetic. Eating junk will continue to make you feel like junk, both on the inside and the outside.

The old adage is true, you are what you eat!

So where are you today, right now? Are you ready for a change? Are you ready to put yourself and your health first?

Every addict has to hit rock bottom. No you aren’t addicted to illegal drugs but you are an addict just the same. You are addicted to the lifestyle you currently live. The time to make a change in your health is today, the time is NOW.

You can do this, you owe it to yourself first and foremost. You are worth it! Don’t fill your body with junk, you deserve better than that. You only have one body and one life to live. Make the most of each and every day. Don’t drag yourself and your life down by eating fatty sugar filled convenience foods. Build yourself up with nutrient dense fresh foods. Truly, you are worth so much more than the junk food you’ve grown accustomed to eating. 

Keep your portions in control and make healthy food and drink choices. The changes in your mood, appearance, and energy levels will astound you. You might just wonder why you didn’t make the change sooner.

The time to change is NOW!

What is the cause of your health hitting rock bottom? Why are you ready to make a change in your healthy lifestyle journey now? I’d love to hear from you!

Why I Live a Vegan Lifestyle

 

Not all vegans do it for the animals, some of us do it strictly for our health.

When I chose a vegan lifestyle I did not anticipate the number of questions I would get from strangers and new friends regarding my choice in eating habits. I honestly thought it was a simple personal decision. Yet at times I feel like I have a huge V stuck to my forehead. V for Vegan!

Why I choose to live a vegan lifestyle 

If you talk to the majority of vegans they will tell you that they live this lifestyle because of concerns they have for animals. Animal welfare is a huge movement behind the popularity of the vegan diet. However, as usual I do not fall within the majority of this movement. My family and I care for animals and their well being but their welfare has zero, zilch, nada to do with out decision to remove all animal proteins from our daily diet. Plain and simply, I am a vegan for my personal health and well being. As I’ve stated previously, I’ve never been a huge meat eater but certainly never gave it much thought as to what the red meat, lean proteins, dairy, and eggs were doing to my overall health and long-term cancer risk. I also never even considered that animal protein sources, more specifically casein, might be the cause of my overall tiredness.

When was the last time you stopped to truly and honestly consider the foods that you put in your mouth each and every day? Do you give a second thought to how these foods are affecting your body, your mood, overall health, long-term health? Or perhaps you have a chronic disease, maybe an auto-immune disease, did you know that animal proteins can be the cause of your disease?

The research is too vast and extensive to even skim the surface appropriately in this short article. Do the research yourself, don’t just take my word for it. Educate yourself about the effects that animal proteins have on your body. I would suggest starting with the two leading books in the vegan scientific community, The China Study and Whole both by T. Colin Campbell. You truly owe it to yourself and your family to research an plant based diet and the benefits it has on your longterm health. Did you know that the length of our intestines indicates we are best suited for a diet based in plants and protein sources other than from animals? This article provides a great comparative analysis of carnivores, omnivores, and herbivores.

I choose to live a vegan lifestyle for my diabetic husband.

In reading The China Study and Whole, it became very apparent from all of the scientific research Campbell presents that a vegan lifestyle could dramatically benefit my husband who lives with type-1 diabetes. Through Campbell’s research and life experiences he has seen a huge improvement in insulin dependent diabetic patients that live a vegan lifestyle. My husband is very aware of the long-term effects that his diabetes can and most likely will have on his long-term health and well being. With in 24 hours of starting to eat a vegan diet my husband noticed an effect on his insulin needs. Almost immediately he no longer needed as much insulin with each meal. Now months later he is taking 10 times less insulin per day than he was when eating a conventional diet full of animal protein sources. Not only is this a huge boost to his health but it helps our financial bottom line in that we aren’t purchasing insulin as often. It took some time for him to figure out his new insulin needs but he is so stable now that he can go without insulin for a meal if he eats clean.

Additionally, he regularly sees his blood sugar levels decrease overnight rather than increase as is the case with diabetics. This result shows that his pancreas is healing and starting to produce insulin on its own and can keep up with the fast that occurs while my husband sleeps. He feels better and has more energy than when he was 20 years younger. He is a long distance runner and regularly runs seven plus miles with 10+ mile runs once or twice a week.

I choose to live a vegan lifestyle for my health and the health of my family.

Why are you vegan? Or why aren’t your vegan?

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.