As someone who grew up in New England, my favorite season has always dutifully been fall. The foliage, the sweater-and-boots combo, the scarves, the fires, and the food! Ahhh, fall. Well now that I’m living on an island, I have no more traditional fall, but that won’t stop be from making traditional fall foods. (Hello, squash and cinnamon!)

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Healthy snack

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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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I have mentioned previously that one of the best features on the backend of is the ability to see what people plugged into Google to stumble across us (and by us, I mean me!). To sample just a few, today I got “women flashing truck drivers,” “vegan nightmares,” “sex pesto” (mmm..?), “fat girl eating chocolate banana” and “crazy sexy dumper.” Funnies aside, I did get one person who was searching for “how to be vegan without tofu.”

This struck a real chord with me. I was a vegetarian for a very long time before I ever developed a taste for tofu, or any soy product really. I was also very young, and perhaps not very smart about how to successfully maintain a plant-based diet. Now that I am vegan (and a full supporter of the soy council!), I was interested in this mystery fan’s (okay fan is a bit much..) query of not only how to be vegan without tofu, but how to be vegan without soy at all.

With a family history of breast cancer, I used to think I should avoid eating soy on a daily basis, and therefore limited consumption of direct soy products (tofu, soy milk, edamame, etc.). However, my doctor recently told me that the avoidance of soy in relation to breast cancer—as it contains high levels of estrogen—is unnecessary. We produce far more estrogen in our bodies than we could possibly get from soy products (says doc!).

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Since I’ve been on my own for a few months now, I basically live like a college student despite the fact that I graduated in May. Today I opened my fridge to find it containing only condiments, an assortment of nut-butters and a big bag of prunes. Still a day away from grocery-day and with my tummy rumbling, I opened up my pantry hoping for better luck and there it was, my saving grace: Quinoa. I love the nutty stuff for its unique flavor and amazing versatility. I like to stuff it in peppers and mushrooms, make grain burgers with it and cook it up for breakfast with cinnamon, raisins, walnuts and a drizzle of maple syrup. Plus, it is the only grain that acts as a complete protein all on its own.

After raiding my freezer for veggies I whipped up some fried quinoa,  a healthier version of fried rice, by getting out my wok and sautéing cooked quinoa with a bit of soy-sauce, cumin, onions, safflower oil, edamame, green peas and shredded carrot. A protein power-house!

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