So you’re vegan, and your partner isn’t. Or maybe your an omnivore, or a vegetarian, and your partner is a vegan. Or maybe you’re an everything eater and your partner is gluten-free. Or maybe you’re gluten-free and your partner is allergic to nuts, or soy, or dairy, or…

See where I’m going with this? Sometimes our dietary restrictions (and ethical POVs) just don’t match up with the views of the people we like to spend our time with.

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Summer is over, and fall is here. The change of season can make you a little wonky; You’re just getting into that summertime routine and then BAM, days are short again and you need a jacket. When your schedule is out of whack, you may not be making the healthiest of choices, and your sex drive may suffer for it. Below are a handful of health-don’t’s guaranteed to stall that “it’s chilly so let’s build a fire…a pants fire” feeling.

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History was made last night! Vegans, health freaks and foodies alike gathered around the TV to watch the first ever all vegan cooking show to make it to mainstream television—How to Live to 100 featuring celeb raw vegan chef Jason Wrobel.

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“I want to be inside you! I promise it will feel good.”

“I would eat that,” said my boyfriend, P, nodding over at my vegan burger. We were seated in a Five Guys, eating parallel meals. On our way to a Justice show at Hammerstein Ballroom, we needed something quick. Half cranky from hunger, half rushed, we couldn’t decide on a place that was both vegan and omni friendly. So I grabbed take out from the Loving Hut and met him across the street at the Five Guys, where he was getting meaty. Loving Hut is a chain, and there is some controversy around it’s whacky Taiwanese founder, so it’s not always my first choice, especially when I’m in a city as abuzz with vegan choices as New York. But whatever, that’s a rant for another day.

Now normally, my guy is more than happy to eat vegan with me. But we had just ran a Tough Mudder (cough, humblebrag) and he wasn’t interested in the Loving Hut. When I pointed to the vegan spot, he was probably thinking raw salads. Despite the fact he has seen me scarf down five slices of vegan pizza in one sitting, he opted out because he “wanted something filling.”

Something filling? How is my “crispy burger”—piled with homemade pickles, avocado, lettuce and tomato on a wheat bun—not filling?

What he had meant was something heavy. Something greasy. Although we were eating similar meals, you could see the difference before you even opened the brown take-out bags. His was absolutely spotty with grease. Mine was shine-free. Even though it was pan fried, it was not overly greasy, and served up with a nice green salad, I knew it would leave me feeling full but still energetic—critical, as we were on our way to a freakin’ electronic show, and who wants to be gassy and bloated while they fist pump? I pointed this out, and it got us on the subject of eating for energy.

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Coffee and I, on our last days…you can see by my face I’m just not into it anymore.

So I love coffee. Love love love. I love the smell, the taste, the buzz, the comfort of it, the way I convince myself it’s good for me (antioxidants!), the energy it gives me before a long run. I love it. I usually have at least 3 (4) cups a day, which may not be a lot for some but is a lot for me, since I am petite and have a low tolerance level. By my third cup, I am banging out editorial deadlines and thinking in jittery half-sentences that make sense only to me. “Tiny spaces micro loft jumbo refrigerator BBQ tempeh party…” It’s the best!

But I hate being addicted to it. I hate being addicted to anything, because I am stubborn and I don’t want to need anything. ANYTHING. During my misspent youth, when I was a smoker (I am so sorry, body!) I quit cold turkey after I realized I needed it to function. And so, for months and months, I have been thinking about putting my love affair with my favorite bean on hold…It’s not you, it’s me. But also it’s you.

I have continuously talked myself out of ditching the brew with seasonal rationalizing like “but I can’t stop drinking coffee now, think of all the iced lattes I won’t get to enjoy this summer…” and “but, what is fall without pumpkin spice?!” and “I’ll never poop again!!!” No more. I put my pleather clad foot down and ditched coffee this week.

I guess technically we’re “on a break.” You know, that cowardly half-assed breakup thing you do when you aren’t feeling someone anymore but want to keep them on the back burner in case you change your mind. You can ease out of it with your tail between your legs, going “on a break,” which gives you the room to sample all kinds of chai and rooibos while coffee is stressing out and staring at its phone all day wondering why you don’t call. Because technically you didn’t really break up with them fully you can still come back to your old standby when you’re sick of sleeping alone. I mean…whatever, coffee and I are on a break.

It was pretty rough. On Monday, day one, I impressed myself with how well I was handling it. I had some chai tea in the morning and felt fine all day. But during my post-work yoga class, I was so angry I wanted to yell at my lovely Brazilian instructor mid-chaturanga. I stink-eyed her for 90 minutes. Poor thing. I was down-right livid for no reason at all. Then I went home and cleaned out my fridge with my mouth and felt better.

Now that it has been a week, I no longer open my eyes in the morning with coffee on the brain. So if you want to ditch coffee but are intimidated by the withdrawal, or scared you will slaughter your loved ones in a decaffeinated rage, here are some tips for you:

Drink lots of tea. This one may seem obvious but it helped me so much. You can go caffeinated or decaffeinated. Neither will give you the same blissful, jittery rush that coffee will (and obviously weaning yourself with the caffeinated variety is easier) but it’s a good way to temporarily trick yourself into thinking that the warm cup of chai in your hands is actually your old flame, coffee. Feel free to flaunt all your new types of tea like a jilted lover.

Double teamin’

Spoil yourself. Like I do after a breakup, I let myself indulge whenever I feel like it. An 8 dollar green juice even though your bank account is empty and you have a juicer at home? Sure. Cupcakes? You betcha. New boots? Yes please! You’re cranky, and it’s best to coddle your cantankerous, tweaked out system by distracting it with pretty, delicious, shiny things.

Psych yourself up. I went into the week thinking how bad it would suck. I imagined the raging headaches and my uber-bitchy behavior. I imagined wanting to scream and kick and throw things. Sort of like when you’re getting ready for an Internet date and you imagine the dude to be heinous and smell like yesterday’s sandwich you left in the car overnight and living with his parents at 32. Then when he shows up and he is just sort of balding but other than that, seems nice, you’re excited. When you imagine the worst, well the reality of it won’t be all that bad.

Tell everyone. If you tell everyone you know you aren’t drinking coffee for a while, then you will feel more accountable. My coworker Nick was incredulous (we’re coffee buds) and my boyfriend said he was turning off his phone for fear of my inner demon raging via text message. Also when you tell everyone before hand, they will understand why that showing of My Best Friend’s Wedding on TBS is making you weep and you’re slamming things in your cubicle.
This “no coffee thing” is most definitely temporary. I will start drinking it again, but not every day, and certainly not to function. I feel weirdly guilty for locking my mini french press up in a cupboard, stripping it of its knightly station on my counter, next to my lucky red kettle. (I have a weird attachment to my kitchen equipment. I like to think the toys I store in cupboards are secretly envious of the toys I use every day, like my french press and my blender, that get to sit proudly on the counter. They probably talk shit about me when I’m not around. I’m looking at you, immersion blender who only comes out during soup season… )

Maybe coffee will be reserved for Saturdays and Sundays, or when I’m hungover, or super tired, or gearing up for a long run, or cozying up in a cafe with a book. I don’t know! But right now, I’m glad to be off it.

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Like most ovary-bearing individuals, I love me some chocolate. I prefer the extra dark variety, probably because I know it’s better for me and have therefore tricked my brain into finding it more delicious than its dairy-ridden counterpart. Seriously, the darker, the better. I have even been known to gnaw on a hunk of Bakers chocolate. So I was excited this past Easter when my mama sent me a care package from Nib Mor, an organic vegan chocolate company founded by two women who met while attending the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, just like me and my madre. (Side note: I am not religious…since I was a little girl Easter has meant one thing and one thing only: mass amounts of candy.)

This was possibly one of the most exciting care packages I have received from my mother, rivaled by one particular package in college containing a can of black beans and a package of expired tropical fruit themed condoms. Love you, Ma!

Inside my box of goodness was four chocolate bars and three different types of drinking chocolate. The cool thing about Nib Mor chocolate is that they are made without any refined sugars. The bars are made with agave and the hot chocolate powder is made with coconut sugar. I kinda think that sugar is sugar regardless, but it is still nice to know that the treats I am eating aren’t made with the refined stuff.

My desk: Chocolate, the obligatory birthday card from the office, a photo roll of my college roomies goofing, and that foxy boy I get naked with hugging me at the Washington Monument.

So what did I do with my chocolate? I ate it duh. Actually, I am currently in training for a Tough Mudder, so that means I am usually ravenously hungry due to my extremely early, extremely long training sessions. So I was eating Nib Mor chocolate bars at my desk at 9 am. Oh yes. I was. And my fav thing about the bars? They are really light, so I can eat the entire bar for something like 250 calories. I don’t really care too much about calories, especially when I am in training, but the truth is I ALWAYS eat an entire chocolate bar when I open one, so it is nice to know I am not eating a meal’s worth of calories in the form of a snack.

Oh, and the drinking chocolate? I have taken to mixing ½ a tablespoon into my morning coffee for some mocha goodness.

But why chocolate?!

Chocolate is my favorite antioxidant, and I get down on it pretty regularly. Rumor has it the stuff (the good, dark stuff) has more antioxidants than wine or green tea! Cacao is an anti-inflammatory, full of healthy good fats which fuel up my brain, and contains Tryptophan which creates serotonin. Say what? This means that chocolate releases the same feel-good vibes that a steamy sex session or cuddle fest produces. And it eases depression! So…chocolate, followed by vigorous boning, followed by some intense snuggling will help battle depression and keep my wonky crazy-girl brain in check. Or at least that’s what I tell myself.

Ever had Nib Mor? What is your favorite chocolate company? Do you manage depression with sex and chocolate and exercise and nutrition? Don’t go ditching your meds, people, because I am no doctor!

Now watch this horrifying video about the Tough Mudder, which I am doing in just three days! Eep!

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I like to rant about health here on SexyTofu, and one huge health issue in the US is obesity. The typical American diet is high in caloric, cholesterol laden animal products and low in veggies, legumes and high-fiber whole (whole! NON processed) grains. Some have even linked eating  meat to obesity. Obviously there are many thin meat-eaters, and overweight veg-heads, but someone who consumes a high-fiber, nutrient rich diet low in cholesterol–like a vegan diet–is less likely to be obese. Ahh, the word diet. I have a particular issue with this word, or at least the way we view it. It really only means the way in which we eat; unfortunately the mainstream now finds it synonymous with weird restrictive or trendy eating habits. When someone says they are on a diet, it usually means they are following some zany eating plan. So many of us are removed from where our food comes from, and what it does to our body. We categorize foods as “good” (salad, fruit) and “bad” (carbs, sweets, fats). We think solely in terms of calories instead of nutrients. We may watch what we eat to stay thin, but that doesn’t mean we are eating things to nourish our bodies. In college I had a room-mate who ate nothing but pickles and crudités dipped in fat-free ranch dressing because they were low in calories. While she was at a healthy weight, she couldn’t possibly be getting enough nutrient.

If we don’t change out eating habits and our relationship with food, our future looks bleak. I would love to see my grand-children living in a world where they understand exactly where their food came from, BEFORE it made its way to the grocery store. I would love for them to be taught from an early age about the way the food is broken down in the body, and can therefore provide their bodies with what they need for longevity and optimum performance.
However, I worry this will not be the case. Enjoy this startling infographic that tells us tough-love style what the future of our country will look like if we continue on at this rate. It’s not pretty–see the above photo of the futuristic humans frm WallE. Chew on this.

Medical Coding Career Guide
Created by:

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Healthy snack

Image via Wikipedia

I like to think I am pretty in tune with my body. I know that if I don’t get enough sleep, I will have the urge to eat everything put in front of me the following day like I have Prader-Willi Syndrome. I know that I can keep mood swings (caused by PMS, stress or general craziness) in check by eating a blend of whole grains, healthy fats and protein. And, as a vegan, I know that I have to monitor my diet to make sure I am getting enough nutrients to avoid health problems like vitamin deficiencies! A blood test every now and then helps to make sure I am getting what I need.

The last round of blood work I did showed that my cholesterol is way too low. Embarrassingly enough, this excited me a wee bit as it gives me an excuse to eat more yummy heart healthy fats–I already believed I was getting enough, but apparently I was wrong. Healthy fat and a normal cholesterol level is important–it gives you glowing skin, healthy nails and hair, stabilizes moods, regulates your metabolism, increases your energy and (most importantly!) revs your libido! Vroom, vroom!

I went out and got some flax oil which I have been putting in my breakfast bowl of oatmeal, my smoothies and on top of salads and grains. It has an amazing nutty flavor and delivers tons of omega-3s! I have also been trying to eat more avocados and several different types of nuts and seeds daily. Anyone from my office will confirm that at least once daily between 3 and 5 pm, I can be found in the office kitchen, sucking on a spoonful of nut-butter like it’s going to return the favor.

If you’re eating a vegan diet, it’s a good idea to get some blood work done several times a year. Be sure to tell your doctor to ask that the test checks your cholesterol and vitamin levels like folate, iron,  b12 and zinc.

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On the pill? Check your b12 levels.

I mentioned in a previous post that I recently had a scare with a b12 deficiency. It has been over a month since I finally  have been able to track down a doctor who could give me the type of consultation I was looking for: a holistic approach that takes both a medicinal and natural stand, someone able to integrate the two types of medicine and look at my case on all levels. And boy was I surprised when I learned that yes, I probably have a b12 deficiency because I have been vegetarian and then vegan for so long without proper supplementation, however, it is also likely because I have been on birth control for nearly a decade.  What does that have to do with my b12, I asked. Well apparently birth control seriously decreases the natural levels of b12 due to the high levels of estrogen in the pills.

Foods like leafy greens, tempeh and nutritional yeast contain b12

Learning this made me extremely frustrated with the traditional system of medicine ….Of course, part of this is on my head because I should have done more research than I did about the prescriptions I am on. But additionally, my gynecologist — who prescribes my birth control — knows I follow a vegan diet,  and yet never mentioned the b12 factor to me. This is because, as a professional in a specialized field, he probably got only a few hours of general education nutrition training in med school. Perhaps our healthcare system is trying its best, but it’s becoming more and more clear that our diets affect every part of our lives — our moods, sleep patterns, stress levels, ability to fight disease and sickness, and  capacity to think clearly.

With this green revolution our country seems to be going through, and the rise in the popularity of natural medicine, I hope to see more holistic doctors popping up all over. A great friend of mine just got accepted to Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and I know she will do great things (congrats AC!). I look forward to the future of medicine when a doctor can take a look at a patient and evaluate them from an all-inclusive, holistic point of view.

So for any vegans or vegetarians out there who are on birth control, get your b12 levels tested and then get on a supplement! Don’t play around with this. Also, check out this video of an interview with Dr. Jay Gordon, who believes that diet should be the foundation of a medicinal practice.

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