I often hear people say that exercising (especially cardio) is no better for weight loss than just cutting the equivalent number of calories from your diet. In fact, I’ve even had people tell me that cardio is a waste of time because they just eat all the calories back anyway.
There are a lot of reasons that’s wrong, but today I’m focusing on one: how exercise influences your appetite. Plus, how it influences your hormones, and how much you actually end up eating in the long term.
For most of my life, I HATED vegetables. But over the last few years, I’ve turned into a vegetable enthusiast. I often even enjoy them raw with nothing on them. (I can be seen biting into a plain beet or cauliflower, and even having plain arugula, on a regular basis…)
In today’s video, I go over how I went from hating to loving vegetables, and how you can too! Featuring the results of scientific studies (citations below).
As a kid, I HATED vegetables. My parents wouldn’t let me leave the dinner table until I finished my meals, and I often opted to sit for hours rather than eat my salad.
I only started eating vegetables in my undergrad years out of desperate attempts to lose weight, and even then I still didn’t actually like them. They felt more like a punishment.
I started to somewhat enjoy them about 6 years ago when I started eating a high carb low fat diet, and noticed that some foods (like sushi bowls) just happened to taste better with vegetables. And then ~5 years ago I magically started to find salads somewhat enjoyable rather than boring torture. (It also helped that I learned how to make vegetables more exciting with better recipes!)
And then, about 2 years ago, I started completely focusing on intuitive eating instead of following any diet. I stopped caring about weight loss, and started caring about having a healthy relationship with food. I just ate whatever I craved, whenever I wanted to.
And inexplicably, a huge chunk of the time, what I naturally craved was (and is)… VEGETABLES!
Now that I was fully eating according to my cravings, I could see just how much I craved healthy food. And I noticed I naturally stopped liking sugary or hyperpalatable things as much.
So how did I have such a dramatic shift in tastes?
Based on all the studies I’ve read on diet science, I have a feeling that it was because of gut bacteria.
First, we know that what we eat changes our gut microbiome, by changing the types and relative quantities of different types of bacteria. And those bacteria do a lot of our digesting for us. For example, studies show that eating more plants changes our gut microbiome to have more plant-digesting bacteria, which then makes us more efficient at digesting plants1.
Second, there is evidence that our gut microbiome can actually influence what we crave2, and even how much we eat3.
So what we end up with is a feedback loop where eating more vegetables changes your gut microbiome to have more veggie-loving bacteria, and those bacteria then make you crave more vegetables.
On the flip side, it can also be a vicious cycle, depending on the food: if you eat a lot of processed food, you get a gut full of processed-food-loving bacteria, which then makes you crave more of it.
The key is to get yourself into the cycle you WANT to be in. And to get into a vegetable-craving cycle, the first step is to just eat more vegetables. (A mix of both raw and cooked, ideally!)
I suggest doing this in the most palatable ways you can manage so that you’re not having to force yourself to eat them. You don’t want to associate vegetables with torture. For example, you can try hiding vegetables in other foods: add spinach to your smoothies, riced cauliflower to your normal rice, and greens in your chili. (If you want to get extra creative, you can add pureed mushrooms to soups, chilis, pasta, etc… that’s how I get my husband to eat them, since he hates their texture!) I have more suggestions in the video too.
And at some point, I bet you’ll naturally find yourself naturally liking vegetables even without having to hide or disguise them.
(Another tip: if you fall in love with vegetable gardening as much as I have, you’ll discover that vegetables are actually pretty magical 😛 )
I’m working on building a repertoire of recipes that my more junk-food-vegan leaning husband loves and that fit in with my unprocessed preferences. They tend to take a little more effort, but are as delicious as junk food while also being healthy.
This recipe is our favorite hybrid so far. (In case you can’t tell, I generally only share my favorite recipes with y’all!)
It’s a southern-inspired feast that has 3 parts, and they go SO well together. It takes me about two hours to make, which isn’t bad given it results in 5 nights’ worth of dinner for two–and given it tastes as good as our favorite restaurant food and is packed full of veggies & beans. It also happens to be low fat, with the only overt fat being some cashews in the sauce.
Want to make it fat-free, and skip the macaroni? Try the baked beans + kale over a baked potato. That was actually the original version of this recipe for us!
(This recipe is for a bulk amount because feeding my 6’6″ bodybuilding husband with low-calorie-density food requires a LOT of food.)
1 medium-large yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves minced garlic
3/4 cup ketchup
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp soy sauce
Pinch of allspice
4 cans navy beans, rinsed
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Add onion to a pot over medium-high heat, and saute for a few minutes until they start to get translucent. Add garlic and saute for a few more minutes.
Turn off the heat, and add the rest of the ingredients to the pot and stir until well combined. Pour mixture into a 13×9″ pan, cover with tinfoil, and bake for 45 minutes.
2 cups roughly chopped gold potatoes
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup unsweetened nondairy milk (I use soy)
1 cup water
2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup nutritional yeast flakes
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1.5 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
Dash of cayenne (optional)
Boil the potatoes, carrots, and onion until tender.
Combine all the ingredients in a blender, and blend until smooth. Add more salt and lemon to taste.
Pasta & Kale
24oz dry macaroni, cooked according to package directions
32oz frozen kale (or use raw kale that is about 32oz when cooked)
5 large cloves garlic
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt, to taste
Add the kale and garlic to a pot over medium heat. Saute, stirring regularly, until the kale is tender. Add lemon juice and salt to taste.
Make the final bowl: put the macaroni in a bowl, top with cheese sauce, then baked beans, then kale, and enjoy! (And, possibly, become as addicted to it as we are)
Confession time: I’ve never been a fan of veggie burgers. Especially grain or bean-based burgers.
When I first went vegetarian 15 years ago, vegetarian burgers weren’t anything like they are today. Having to eat them at every school function or barbecue got a bit tiring, and I never found a very satisfying recipe for veggie burgers. Then the Beyond and Impossible burgers came on the scene, and since then I’ve pretty much just eaten those whenever I have a burger craving.
But, I love to eat whole food plant based (aka unprocessed food) most of the time. So I decided to try coming up with my own recipe that would be good and unique enough that it could have its own role at the table, besides just trying to replace a burger.
I went with a Caribbean vibe, and was inspired by empanadas since black bean & plantain are a match made in heaven when used in empanadas… so why not burgers? I also made an avocado lime spread for it, and the combo is so good that I actually enjoy just having the patty + spread at times, without a bun or anything.
Makes 4-6 patties
1 can black beans
1 cup red onion, diced
1 ripe plantain, sliced
6 tbsp corn grits (or cornmeal)
6 heaping tbsp whole cilantro leaves
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne
Sauté plantain and red onion together over medium-low heat until plantain turns golden brown and onion begins to turn translucent.
In a food processor, add all the ingredients and process until the mixture still has some small pieces remaining, but holds together well. If it is too dry to stick together easily (if you’re using more absorbent cornmeal, for instance), add a tbsp of water at a time until it sticks together.
Form mixture into 4-6 patties about 1” thick. Sauté over medium-low heat for 5-8 minutes per side, until they are lightly browned. Alternatively, you can put them in the oven at 375 degrees: bake 10 mins, then flip, then bake another 10 minutes, or until both sides are crispy.
Top with avocado lime spread and your favorite burger toppings, and enjoy!
Avocado lime spread:
Juice of 1/2 lime
1/4 tsp dried chipotle powder
1/8 tsp salt
Mash together all the ingredients until it has a guacamole-like texture.
Something about planting seeds for my vegetable garden (which I’m starting this week!) puts me in a salad mood. Just imagining all the organic greens and veggies I’ll be harvesting in a few months makes me start craving fresh veggies right away!
My favorite salad ever is still my addictive Mexican-style salad, but this BBQ ranch one is a very close second. It’s easy, super healthy, totally versatile with any extra veggies you might want to include, and goes well with every type of green I’ve tried so far! (Especially mixed greens or romaine.)
Serves 2-3 as a full meal
2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
6-8 cups mixed greens (or romaine, or spinach)
6 celery stalks, chopped
1/2c finely diced red onion
1 can corn, drained
1/2c barbecue sauce
1/2c halved cherry tomatoes (optional)
1/8 tsp dried dill
1/4 tsp dried parsley
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
3 tbsp unsweetened non dairy milk (cashew milk preferable)
1/2 tsp lime juice
Salt & pepper to taste
Toss chickpeas with salt and paprika. Optional: air fry chickpeas for 10-15 mins at 350 degrees until crunchy, or bake in a single layer in the oven for 20-30 mins at 350 until crunchy, shaking occasionally.
Make the avocado ranch: mash the avocado together with all the other ingredients until smooth and creamy. Add more liquid as desired if you’d like a thinner texture.
Rinse and drain greens, and add them to your salad bowl. Top with celery, red onion, corn, chickpeas, and any other veggies you’re using.
Then top with the barbecue sauce and avocado ranch, toss, and enjoy!
I’ve used the same 7-dish Thanksgiving menu for the last two years (because it has gone over SO WELL with vegans and omnivores alike), but this year I decided I wanted to come up with something new and unique to add.
Enter this healthy pumpkin risotto: it’s savory, it’s slightly sweet, it’s simple to make, it’s creamy. It’s a nice healthy contrast to some of the more oil-laden Thanksgiving classics, but still goes over well with more classic palates. And as a bonus, it’s easy to have it cooking in the background while you make the more complicated dishes, since it doesn’t need more than ~15 mins of really active prep time.
And as a bonus bonus, it’s Instant Pot friendly too. (That’ll help free up my limited supply of pots.)
If you want to make it completely whole-food-plant-based friendly, you can also try subbing brown rice in for the arborio. You will want to add more water and cook longer to achieve a risotto-y texture, though. You can also easily sub in other types of squash instead of pumpkin!
Serves 4 as a full meal; serves 8 as a side
3 – 15oz cans pure pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie mix)
4 cloves garlic
2 apples, quartered
2 tsp yellow or white miso paste
3 tbsp maple syrup
1.5 tsp dried sage
Dash red pepper flakes
1 cup cashews
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 onion, chopped fine
3.5 cups vegetable broth
2 cups arborio rice*
1/2 cup dry white wine
Put all the “Blender” section ingredients into a blender or food processer, and blend until pureed. Set aside until step 5-6.
Add the chopped onions to a pot over medium heat–or your IP’s saute function–adding splashes of broth (from your 3.5c of broth) as needed to saute them until translucent.
Add the rice, and saute for 3-4 minutes. Then add the white wine, and saute another 2 minutes.
Add in the remaining broth, and push all the onion and rice grains down the sides of the pot so they are submerged.
If using a pressure cooker: cook on low pressure for 6 mins, and release pressure immediately after. Add the blended pumpkin mixture, and turn on the saute setting. Saute, stirring frequently, until the rice is tender and the risotto is creamy but not runny.
If using a pot on the stove: cover pot and bring to a boil, then simmer covered for 15 mins. Add the blended pumpkin mixture, then simmer uncovered, stirring regularly, until the rice is tender and the risotto is creamy but not runny.
Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve topped with more sage or fried sage leaves and cashew cream, if desired.
Scientific studies show that high carb low fat diets are generally really good for weight loss–but for some reason, the Raw til 4 diet, which was popular among vegans several years ago, caused a LOT of people to gain weight. In today’s video I go over studies to explain why the Raw til 4 diet so often causes weight gain.
Today I’m going over a study looking at how eating with a spoon versus a straw actually affects how much you eat–of the same food–in a meal! I also talk about how eating liquids vs solids cause overeating, and whether you should be concerned about liquid calories.
If you like to eat unprocessed foods (like I do!), then you might be wondering (like I did :P) whether blending/juicing “counts” as processing in how it affects your weight loss and satiety. In today’s video, I go over 2 studies looking at whether having whole fruit, smoothies, or juice is better for satiety and weight loss.
Move over oats: there’s a new porridge grain in town.
I learned last year that my stomach can’t handle oats, and I never thought I’d find something I like as much for fall and winter breakfasts as oats. But I’ve kept experimenting, and discovered amaranth!
Amaranth has a delicious nutty taste, a really nice texture, and is so versatile. And, as a big bonus, it’s more nutritious than oats: calorie for calorie, compared to oats, amaranth has twice the iron, magnesium, and B vitamins–not to mention more protein and potassium.
This apple pie amaranth porridge holds up really well in the fridge, so I’ve started making 3 days’ worth of porridge at a time. It’s my current favorite Fall breakfast!
1 cup dry amaranth
3 cups water
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp cloves (optional)
2 tbsp brown sugar (more to taste; you can also use maple syrup or dates)
Add the amaranth to a pot over high heat to toast it. Stir constantly. Once it starts popping (you’ll notice little white puffs), reduce heat to medium-high and cook for 2-3 more minutes or until about half of it has become a darker brown (or popped), then remove from heat. (If it starts smelling like popcorn, remove from heat right away!) It’s better to under-toast than to over-toast.
Add 3 cups of water to the pot with the amaranth, bring it to a boil, then simmer. Simmer uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes. I find I have to keep the stove at medium-low heat to keep it at a lightly bubbling simmer.
Add the diced apples, spices, and sugar. Keep simmering, occasionally, until the apples are tender and amaranth has absorbed all the water, and/or it has your desired consistency. If the amaranth absorbs the water before the apples are tender, add non-dairy milk or more water as needed to finish cooking the apples.