Posts that aren’t food-related, but still relate to a healthy/happy lifestyle.

Vegan Meets Green: Make Your Home as Healthy as You Are

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Today’s post comes from Jayme Cook, a writer, English and Communications professor, zombie fanatic, maniacal reader, and Oxford comma enthusiast living in Phoenix.

A common misconception about vegans and vegetarians is that their primary goal is to not eat meat. While avoiding animal products is a big part of the lifestyle, veganism extends beyond diet to include daily practices rooted in respect for man, animal and environment. What some may see as a restriction, others view as a way of living.

Adhering to clean eating habits is just the first stage of cultivating a healthy existence. After your body is on the right track, it’s time to “greenify” your home. Here are three steps to ensure that your living environment reflects your vegan values.

Energy Efficiencygreenify your vegan home

Creating a green home is the first and simplest step and one that rewards you for your altruism. Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) expel 75 percent less energy and burn almost 10 times longer than standard incandescent bulbs. Using CFLs throughout your house could result in energy savings and a reduction in carbon dioxide that is equivalent to not driving your vehicle for a whole year.

But with great power (savings) comes great responsibility. CFL bulbs have small amounts of mercury in them, which means they are unsafe for standard landfill disposal. Check the Environmental Protection Agency to find the proper receiving facility for them in your area.

Pest Prevention & Animal Control

The next step is a doozy. You have to find humane and toxin-free methods of pest and wild animal control to greenify your vegan lifestyle. Popular DIY sprays, since their purpose is to kill, are not conducive to the vegan way of life and contain chemicals that can be harmful to people and pets. When it comes to environmentally sound pest control, the best approach is to be informed of the pests indigenous to your region and take precautions to avoid attracting them. (QV note: This article on natural ant control is particularly helpful!)

If you already have an infestation, though, preventative measures are futile. However, you do have a little-known option through the American Horticultural Society, which has local branches throughout the country. If you’re plagued by pests, you can take a sample specimen of the insect to a Master Gardener for examination. This professional then gives you a detailed plan for combating the problem based on the kind of pest you are dealing with.

Unfortunately, there will be times when a pest or wild animal situation poses a serious health risk and is beyond your control. This is when it is necessary to call in the professionals. The right service can remove pests and animals humanely and with the kind of care that’s in line with your vegan values.

Household Products

The third step in greenifying your home to vegan standards is to break the bad habit of buying traditional household products. Many cleaning products, cosmetics and personal hygiene products are composed of caustics and solvents that are tested on animals or contain animal byproducts. Not only do numerous products and brands defy humane and clean production standards, but some are outright threatening to your health.

You can avoid some hazardous ingredients and unethical testing practices by simply making cleaning products yourself. For example, if you want a multipurpose cleaner, mix salt and vinegar together or combine a little vinegar and baking soda to deodorize and polish any surface in your bathroom or kitchen. But if you aren’t the DIY type, PETA offers a searchable database of all the companies and products they have deemed “friendly.” (QV note: RAD Soap’s Hempstile is a great alternative option — you can use it to clean literally everything!)

These simple steps will help you make the switch to a greener home environment that’s friendly to the environment, kind to animals and healthy for your family. What other “greenifying” tips do you have for fellow vegans?

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100+ Recipes for Your Vegan Easter Celebration!

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I may have mentioned before that Easter is my second favorite holiday next to Christmas. It doesn’t matter if the weather is still wintry and I have to put on every layer that I own to go to the outdoor sunrise service at my church or if spring is already well underway — the underlying message of the holiday permeates the season with the spirit of new life and new beginnings.

Secondary to that is, of course, food. Society would like it to be the other way around, as is made quite evident by the appearance of Easter candy the moment that the Valentine’s Day stuff hits the clearance bins, but it helps to keep your priorities straight! Here I’ve included both — a collection of well over 100 recipes for everything from carrot cake pancakes to “Cadbury eggs,” all 100% vegan, and a message that I pray will bless your season with peace and hope.

Happy Easter!

vegan easter 2016 banner

Image by arkansasfi/FreeImages

Cookies

Crunch your way through the day with these sweet homemade treats!

Candy

If you can’t get your hands on these candies this year because shipping deadlines have passed, keep them in mind for filling next year’s baskets — or for treating yourself when you’re in the mood for some springtime nostalgia!

Or you can always make your own vegan versions of two very popular seasonal favorites.

Try them and see what you think. I’d say they’re well worth the effort!

Main Dishes

Chock full of everything from carrots to asparagus, these cruelty-free dishes prove that you can have a delicious Easter feast without the ham. Enjoy them for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

Even More Easter Goodies

If you’re a sucker for recipes the way I am, you can find even more ideas for your holiday with these other roundups:

An Easter Blessing

“He is not here: for he is risen, as he said.” ~ Matthew 28:6a

As I mentioned above, I can’t do a whole post about Easter without including a bit on what the celebration really means. It’s easy to get caught up in traditions like dying eggs (which even vegans can do now thanks to the ceramic alternatives available), making up baskets and cooking special meals. Not, of course, that there’s anything wrong with any of that, especially if it gives you more time to spend with your family. But at its very core, the holiday is about new life — one very special new life, the rebirth granted to humanity by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Then he took unto him the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.
For he shall be delivered unto the Gentiles, and shall be mocked, and spitefully entreated, and spitted on:
And they shall scourge him, and put him to death: and the third day he shall rise again. ~ Luke 18:31-33

The Son of God, the only sinless person who ever lived, became the spotless sacrificial lamb who took on the sins of the whole world for all time. He gave His body and His blood so that those who believe in Him, although they will suffer bodily death, will have eternal life in the presence of God. His resurrection and the hope that it brings is the reason why Christians call the day Resurrection Sunday — it’s the day when the tomb was discovered to be empty, when the hope of mankind was raised up so that we are now able to declare that He is alive, and we are forgiven.

My pastor plays this video most years during our Resurrection Sunday service. It’s my prayer that it blesses you during this very special season.

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Quantum Vegan Talks Plant-Based Diets on WAMC’s Food Friday

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You never know what will happen on a call-in show. That’s why I was a little baffled at first as to why I got myself into doing an episode of the weekly food-related talk show Food Friday on WAMC, a public radio station that covers a large swatch of the Northeast. It’s a neat show that connects the public with unique food experts and business owners in the area for weekly discussions of diverse topics. A friend turned me onto it a long while back, but it took me until just recently to make a connection. The awesome folks over at the studio invited me in for an hour of Q & A with whoever wanted to call, email, Tweet or send a Facebook message. More channels, more fun, right?

Right! I got to chat with host Ray Graf before the show and during breaks, answering his questions about plant-based diets, and later on in the show I shared my favorite simple snack: stuffed dates! We did have one or two surprises along the way, which is to be expected when you’re doing a live show, but it kept things interesting for the duration.

In case you missed it, you can stream the entire show on the Food Friday website.

I really enjoyed being part of Food Friday, and I look forward to going back in the future to answer more questions about veganism, plant-based diets, health and anything else that you want to know! Keep an eye on the Upcoming Appearances page for dates and to see where you can catch me in person in the meantime.

Thanks to WAMC for featuring QV and for the invitation to do more shows! Even if you’re not in the Northeast U.S., you can listen to Food Friday online live or go through the archives to listen to older episodes.

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What is Binge Eating Disorder? [Infographic] — National Eating Disorders Awareness Week

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As part of this year’s series of posts for National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (NEDAwareness), I’d like to shed a little light on the epidemic of binge eating disorder, sometimes called compulsive overeating.

When the 5th edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V) was released in 2013, it finally included binge eating disorder (BED) as a “real” eating disorder. In previous editions, BED was lumped in with other disordered eating in the “eating disorders not otherwise specified” category and had no concrete diagnostic criteria.

The National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) summarizes the characteristics of this eating disorder as outlined in the DSM-V:

The key diagnostic features of BED are:

  1. Recurrent and persistent episodes of binge eating
  2. Binge eating episodes are associated with three (or more) of the following:
    • Eating much more rapidly than normal
    • Eating until feeling uncomfortably full
    • Eating large amounts of food when not feeling physically hungry
    • Eating alone because of being embarrassed by how much one is eating
    • Feeling disgusted with oneself, depressed, or very guilty after overeating
  3. Marked distress regarding binge eating
  4. Absence of regular compensatory behaviors (such as purging).

Source: New in the DSM-V: Binge Eating Disorder

A prevalence of 3.5 percent of women, 2 percent of men and 1.6 percent of young people suffering from BED makes it the most common eating disorder in the country.

Far from being a simple problem with overeating or a “lack of willpower,” binge eating disorder involves complex emotions that include a feeling of shame towards one’s behavior, body or both.

The infographic below provides a great deal more information on this disorder.

If you think you may be suffering from BED or another eating disorder, take NEDA’s free screening. Just three minutes and a simple anonymous survey could save your life.

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“3 Minutes Can Save a Life” — National Eating Disorders Awareness Week 2016

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Today marks the start of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week (NEDAwareness), an annual observation headed up by the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) to bring more awareness to anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder and other specified feeding and eating disorders (OSFED). Millions of people around the world struggle with some form of disordered eating, and many do so without their friends and loved ones ever knowing. It’s a very personal, very private struggle tied up with complex feelings of guilt and shame that keep sufferers from opening up about what they’re experiencing and miss out on the critical treatment necessary for recovery in most cases.

This year’s theme, “3 Minutes Can Save a Life,” aims to change all that. NEDA has developed a short, anonymous online screening that anyone can take to help determine if disordered eating patterns or full-blown eating disorders are present. If you have any concerns at all about your own eating patterns or the habits of a loved one, I urge you to take the screening. A few minutes of your time could mean the difference between getting treated and spending years suffering with a painful physical, mental and emotional disorder.

If you’d like to get involved in spreading the word, visit NEDAwareness.org for images and printable resources to share during this important week. Tag #NEDAwareness on social media to keep the conversation going. There are also many events taking place online and off to help spread awareness of this silent — and potentially deadly — epidemic.

I’ve written quite a bit on the subject of eating disorders and body image in the past:

The infographic below expands a bit more on the last post in the list. Hashtags like #thinspiration and Instagram accounts that are flooded with pictures of unrealistic bodies serve to drive those already prone to disordered eating to pursue unhealthy habits in an attempt to achieve physical perfection. For those trying to recover, such posts can be triggers that send them right back down the rabbit hole of illness.

Whether you suffer from an eating disorder yourself or simply don’t like something about your body, I encourage you to make this week the week you start to learn to love your physical shape. God has blessed each one of us with a very special, unique vessel in which to live, and that alone is something to stand in awe of.

Celebrate your body. Embrace what it can do. And get help if you’re stuck in a cycle of disordered eating and can’t get out — there is hope. <3

Eating Disorders and Social Media

Credit: Can Social Media Feed Eating Disorders? by LifeWorks

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What is Sugar Doing to Kids? Focus on Albany Asks Quantum Vegan and Barbara Swanson

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Last Friday (February 12th), I returned to the Focus on Albany show along with author and consultant Barbara Swanson to chat with host Cynthia Pooler about the harmful effects of refined sugar consumption on children. Barbara Swanson has appeared on the show previously to discuss the health implications of sugar in general, and it was a pleasure to be able to share air time with her and offer valuable information for parents, teachers and others who work with children.

You can listen to the show here:

We managed to fit a lot into a half-hour episode! Some questions that were addressed include:

  • Just what does sugar do to kids?
  • Why does sugar seem to be so addictive?
  • Is sugar responsible for childhood hyperactivity?
  • What factors are affecting families’ abilities to enjoy nourishing foods?
  • What does it feel like to “break free” from sugar?

Barbara and I will be back on Focus on Albany in the future to address even more about this and other issues raised during the show. If there are any questions you’d like us to answer, please share them in the comments!

You can connect with Barbara Swanson on Facebook and find Focus on Albany on Blog Talk Radio, Facebook, Twitter and iTunes. And of course, you can always follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!

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Create Healthy Habits for the Family With These Simple Steps

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It’s no secret that obesity in America is a growing epidemic. According to the CDC, more than 33 percent (78.6 million) of U.S. adults are obese. What’s even more frightening is that we are also passing bad habits and poor health to our children. Roughly 20 percent of U.S. children and adolescents are obese, and the number continues to rise.

It doesn’t have to be this way. The first step in fighting obesity and creating a healthier nation starts inside the home, where families share healthy habits and responsibilities. If you want to help your family (and yourself) develop better health, try these tips to get everyone started.

Pack Lunches for the Week

salad days by brainloc small

brainloc/FreeImages

Lunch is the most tempting meal at which to eat fast, unhealthy “convenience” foods. Adults leave the office to hit the drive-thru or eat high-calorie restaurant meals, and kids don’t have it much better in public schools. School systems across the country struggle to set a standard for healthy lunches, and it’s a major factor contributing to childhood obesity.

Make the effort to pack lunches for the whole family. Cook delicious, nutritious meals in bulk on Sunday afternoon and store them in the freezer so that they’re easy to grab as you go off to work or school during the week. There are plenty of blogs to walk you through meal-prep recipes, and these meals can be a lifeline for anyone tempted by fast food during the day.

Plan Outside Family Activities

If you usually spend evenings in the living room watching TV and movies, change up the location. Parks, museums (children’s museums for the young ones) and family rec centers are great ways to get out of the house and move around. If you live near a city, find one new place each week to visit as a family. Be sure to pack healthy snacks like almonds and dried fruit to resist eating out around town.

Give Everyone a Task

Families that work together stay healthy together. Give everyone in the house a role to fill. One person is in charge of meal-prep Sunday, one person is in charge of choosing a new activity and one person is in charge of tracking everyone’s goals. Giving each person a specific task helps them stay motivated and keeps everyone on track toward a healthier lifestyle.

Make It a Game

Smartphones and smartwatches, like the Apple Watch, make tracking fitness fun and easy. Apps track what you eat (simply add the meal and it figures out the calories and nutrients), steps you take and miles you run or ride. They also send friendly reminders to get up and move when you’ve been sitting for more than an hour. There are dozens of great apps to track every aspect of your fitness, and most of them are free.

Reward Yourself

No good deed should go unrewarded, so setting goals with celebrations is a great way to keep motivated and on track. When you meet a family health goal, celebrate by taking a trip to a favorite location or buying something new for the house. Anticipating a reward keeps good habits coming in and bad habits going out. Avoid food-related rewards, as these tend to involve unhealthy food and can get you off track. Instead, stick with activities or special family “presents” that everyone can enjoy together.

How do you help your family stay on track with a healthy diet and lifestyle? Share your own tips and tricks in the comments!

Thanks to Jim Burch for this great article! Says Jim, “Born and raised near St. Louis, I developed an obsession for baseball and the Cardinals. College days brought me south to Kentucky where I studied creative writing and journalism while working as an editor for the Murray State News. These days, I write diverse copy and hone my physical prowess at my CrossFit gym in Chandler, AZ. My specialties range from movies and television to consumer technology to health and fitness.”

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