Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Vegetables

It’s hard to remember a time before I had to be mindful about what I put in my body. A self-proclaimed vegetarian since the stubborn age of ten, I’ve also been a born again vegan many times over thanks to a lactose intolerance that had me drinking substitute milk before it was trendy… or tasted good. This lifestyle was part choice part providence but every part rewarding. After a regrettable period of time at the start where I believed PB&J sandwiches sat at the top of the vegetarian food pyramid, I was forced to learn what healthy food was, and how to nourish this body of mine.

Filling my biology tank with a sundry of fruits, vegetables, nuts, legumes, & grains every day gave me powerful and immediate energy that landed me with the nickname “the energizer bunny”. On a good day I would have endorphin levels rarely seen outside re-runs of The Brady Bunch. And you might be thinking “oh kale no” to vegetables but with the vitamins, antioxidants, calcium, iron, fiber, and other glowing health benefits they provide, that piece of celery starts to look really handsome. Don’t get me wrong there are times when I would sell my Santa Monica apartment for a piece of chocolate cake, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but it’s about thriving through the other choices you make in that day or in that week so the cake eventually becomes the exception instead of the rule.

We were each meticulously and purposefully created so it’s important to live by the beat of your own dietary drum but here are some drum beats that I picked up along my journey to saliva-nation (salvation).

  • Romaine lettuce is not an only child. If you enjoy yourself a salad, try mixing it up with arugula, red oak leaf, leafy green, endive, kale, spinach, or my personal favorite, butterhead
  • If your body is having issues processing cheese, try experimenting with nutritional yeast as a substitute. Horrible name, amazing taste. I like to sprinkle it over my broccoli before I bake it, giving it a very crunchy texture
  • If you are trying to be budget friendly but don’t live on Old McDonald’s farm you can still invest in a mini herb garden for your kitchen window, making cost-efficient basil and thyme only an arm’s distance away
  • Tea is not just for British people. There is life beyond Earl Grey and English Breakfast. See how your body reacts to more detoxing (yet still delicious) teas such as Nettle Leaf, Rose Hips, Dandelion Root, or Pau D’Arco
  • Taste paradise with a smoothie. Use coconut water (not from concentrate) as the liquid base to help keep you hydrated and throw in almond meal to make it more of a, well… meal. I make enough for two days worth, keeping them in air tight mason jars so that they are just as fresh on day two. 
  • While the price of oil might be high, the cost of using olive oil, avocado oil, and coconut oil are priceless
  • If the best part of waking up is not acid reflux in your cup they now sell low-acidity coffee and it tastes just as good. Everyone wins

-Chrissy Penido

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