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My Vegetarian Weight Loss

“There is no disease, bodily or mental, which adoption of vegetable diet, and pure water has not infallibly mitigated, wherever the experiment has been fairly tried.”
~ Percy Bysshe Shelley, English poet (1792-1822)

Vegetarian BMI Diet

I have been following a vegetarian/vegan diet for over one-and-a-half years now and the changes to my health, vitality and weight have been marked. Though they were dramatic in the beginning, the changes have fallen into a more sensible “steady shift” type of pattern and keep on coming.

Always very thin in my youth, college did a number on my weight and energy levels. By the time I left undergraduate school I had ballooned from my “skin-and-bones” weight of 120 pounds to a very porky 200 pounds.

I later lost that weight when I went to Europe for my graduate degree, but unfortunately gained it all right back upon hitting American soil a couple of years later. The easy abundance of cheesy, greasy, sugary pre-prepared goodies was just too much for my simple brain to handle, not to mention the unavoidable change from walkable communities to long drives in an automobile.

Though I had tried being a vegetarian during my idealistic high school days, it wasn’t until someone came into my life who didn’t just read and dream about vegetarianism, ethical consumerism and raw foods but actually lived those beliefs that I finally became motivated to follow through on my dreams of healthy living.

At first I just did a slow transition, eliminating and then reintroducing certain foods such as dairy, chicken, fish, until I came to understand how different foods effected my system. Then I settled into a longer term transition diet of lots of fresh foods, no chicken, pork, beef or other earth-bound creatures, and the occasional monthly piece of fish until I slowly transitioned to where I am today.

I presently eat no meat, fish or dairy with only the occasional indulgences in a fried egg or a sugary treat. I have substituted agave syrup for sweetener and am now aiming my sights on eliminating wheat in the next five or six months.

At the start, the beneficial change in my energy was almost immediate once I settled into a dairy-free, meat-free pattern. My sleep was less disturbed, my sinuses were less clogged and the excruciating pain in my knees became more of a nagging pain than a sharp torture. Several years of painful and irregular menstruation gave way to a virtually PMS-free, regular cycle.

When I first began the vegetarian transition, in late summer of 2007, I weighed 210 pounds (an awful lot for a woman who is only 5 feet tall) and couldn’t walk to the end of my own street without being winded and tired. By the summer of 2008 I was able to hike 8 miles before becoming too tired to push onward, which I’d say is a fair bit of improvement.

Today I have shed over 40 pounds and have no trouble keeping it off. The weight loss has been slow-but-steady and there has been no up-again, down-again roller coaster in the way that the weight has been shed. With very minimal attempt at exercise, I am half way toward my weight loss goal and am now sharing my success with all of you.

Am I proud that I went from the girl who everyone used to pick on for being too skinny, to the girl that everyone knows who became fat after high school? No, not particularly.

Am I proud that I have found my way to a balanced, nature-based lifestyle that is constantly improving the quality of my life and my health?

I am sharing my experience so that others may be inspired to adopt more balanced, healthy ways of living, and also because I would love encouragement and accountability form my readers on the next leg of my journey toward ultimate health.

    My hopes for the coming year are:

    1. To faithfully do my daily physical therapy exercises for the strengthening of my knees.

    2. To give at least 30 days over to a raw food diet.

    3. To eliminate obvious sources of wheat from my regular diet.

    4. To detox using sauna, colonics, acupuncture and herbal cleanses.

    5. To branch out from yoga and hiking to biking and jogging, knees permitting.

    6. To find the courage to faithfully implement a 6-12 month voyage on the anti-candida (Body Ecology) diet so that I may finally be rid of my limiting food allergies!

    7. To continue to develop more flavorful and fun recipes that make healthy eating more exciting.

So, I know that I can get most of these things done with the same dedicated, educated and gentle approach that I have used to introduce other big changes to my health. I also know that there will be physical and emotional challenges along the way and I hope that some of you will be supportive of me along the way.

Maybe you could even be inspired to join in!

“Any workout which does not involve a certain minimum of danger or responsibility does not improve the body – it just wears it out.”
~ Norman Mailer, American Novelist and Playwright

Happy Housewife

Okay, admittedly I do have an actual gym membership. It’s a fairly frugal one too, which allows me to bring a guest with me every darned day if I want to. But, in our recent spate of spring cleaning, I have come to realize how much aerobic work there is just around the house.

Think about it, you save $20-$80 a month on that gym membership and you get a clean house at the same time. Nothing wrong with that approach.

Any activity can burn calories, strengthen your heart and help increase your metabolism. So pick up those feet and get a move on!

Some of the lovely, heart-pumping activities that you can get up to around the house include:

  1. Painting a room or the garden fence.
  2. Emptying, dusting and reorganizing a closet.
  3. Washing the road-salt off your car.
  4. Collecting, bagging and hauling old clothes to goodwill.
  5. Churning your own butter…easier said than done.
  6. Raking up last year’s leaves.
  7. Scrubbing down the tub and shower…icky but very labor-intensive. :-)
  8. Cleaning, pumping up and greasing your bicycle.
  9. De-cobwebbing all the corners and ceilings in your house.
  10. Sanding down and repainting the deck.
  11. Weeding and mulching the garden.
  12. Hand-turning the compost bins.
  13. Winding the balls of yarn for your next knitting project.
  14. Mopping all the hardwood floors.
  15. Sweeping out the garage.
  16. Having a yard sale.
  17. Washing all the windows in the house.
  18. Cleaning out the gutters.
  19. Building a chicken coop or treehouse.
  20. Finally taking down the Christmas lights!

You may not have all of these chores, or perhaps you can think of a few more. But all that I realized is that exercise can be found on more than a stairmaster.

Happy, healthy days to you!

Pep-Up Vitamin C Elixir

“All those vitamins aren’t to keep death at bay, they’re to keep deterioration at bay. ”
~ Jeanne Moreau, French Actress and Screenwriter

Orange and Butterfly

Every once in a while I get that feeling like I might be coming down with a cold, or like my immune system is less than energized. It may even be just a feeling of lacking energy a bit.

When that happens I know that I need to give myself a quick boost, but not from something detrimental like caffeine. Vitamin C is a known immune booster and an overall good guy to keep in your health arsenal. High dose vitamin C has been used to cure cancer and severe auto-immune diseases.

High doses of vitamin C, of 3,000 milligrams or over, are often taken in the form of chewable tablets. But the bitterness of vitamin C, due to the citric acid, can make it very difficult for some people to chew up. My fix for this problem is too make a nice, palatable drink.

This boosting elixir is sweet and a bit fruity and very good for your health. So drink up!

    Pep-Up Vitamin C Elixir
    Makes: 1 serving
    Prep Time: 5-10 minutes

    1 Large Orange
    1 Tbs Agave Syrup
    1 Cup Spring Water
    2-4 Chewable Vitamin C Tablets


    1. Crush Vitamin C tablets in a bowl or dish using the back of a spoon, or a mortar and pestle.

    2. Place Vitamin C powder, water and agave into a tall glass.

    3. Squeeze juice of fresh orange into the glass, making sure that seeds do not fall in.

    4. Mix vigorously and drink fresh.

    Voila! A tasty health drink with fresh juice and a vitamin boost!

Goodness Gracious Green Soup

“Plants are the young of the world, vessels of health and vigor…”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, American Poet and Essayist

Nettle, Leek and Potato Soup

While Papa and I were out strolling through the English hillsides the other day, we came across a clump of young nettle leaves and I suddenly had the crazy idea to be all old-fashioned and throw something fresh and wild in my next soup.

My sweetheart was kind enough to don some suede gloves and pick a bunch for me, which we stored in the fridge once we got home (again using suede gloves.)

Though these prickly little plants get a bad name because of their sharp, stingy nature, they are actually quite useful and healthy. These little plants inspired me to lovingly sing the praises of nettles, in a previous post.

So, the next soup that I made was a simple leek and potato soup with a bit of onion and chives and, of course, nettle! It came out so good I thought that I’d document it here for you.

This soup’s goodness comes not just from flavour, but from it’s combining the antibiotic properties of leeks, the filling starchiness of potatoes and the high vitamin content of the nettles. So, this is a great immune booster for getting over a cold more quickly, and it is yummy too! You can’t ask for more than that.

    Goodness Gracious Green Soup
    Makes: 6-8 bowls
    Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
    Cooking Time: 1-2 hours

    8 leeks, washed and chopped
    4 medium potatoes, cubed
    1 large onion, diced
    1 sandwich baggie full, or 2 cups, of nettle
    1 teaspoon mixed Italian herbs
    1/4 teaspoon thyme
    1 tbsp of chives
    pinch of garlic salt
    salt & pepper to taste


    1. Wash and chop leeks, using only the white portion and a small bit of the light green part.

    2. Peel, wash and cube the potatoes.

    3. Using rubber kitchen gloves (or tinfoil over your hands) rinse the nettles.

    4. Fill a large saucepan half way with water.

    5. Add the leeks and potatoes.

    6. Bring to a boil then add the nettles and herbs/spices.

    7. Let simmer on low for 1 hour. Salt as needed.

    8. Using a blender, puree the soup until smooth. (Be sure to temper the glass by heating it up slowly, so as not to break your blender pitcher.)

    9. Serve with a nice hearty bread or some barley/couscous/rice on the side.

    It may sound funny, but having done a degree in history and having been a museum geek, in costume, for a good portion of my life, I am very into categorizing things into historical epochs. This blog is named after a Victorian cookbook, but this soup is what I call a “very medieval soup.” So get out your sword, loosen your corsets and dig into this groovy green soup!

Dragon and Monkey Pie

“Believe me! The secret of reaping the greatest fruitfulness and the greatest enjoyment from life is to live dangerously!”
~ Friedrich Nietzsche, German Philosopher

Dragon and Monkey

Okay, a weird name for a vegetarian casserole, I admit, but so tasty!

The name comes from the fact that the recipe that I tweaked had already been named “Dragon’s Pie” by someone else and also that the name of the restaurant which I first ate this at was the Hundred Monkeys.

So simple, a bit weird, but worth raving about! Dragon and Monkey Pie is completely vegan.

This is a vegan and very healthy answer to Shepard’s Pie, and the flavor is very satisfying, with lots of different tastes and textures.

I’m off to Paris for my birthday so I say: Bon Appetit!

    Dragon and Monkey Pie
    Makes: 6-8 servings
    Prep Time: 45 minutes
    Cooking Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

    *large casserole dish (ie. 9″x13″)
    1.5 cups lentils
    4 medium-large tomatoes, diced
    1 head of broccoli, cut into pieces
    2 carrots, sliced thin
    1/2 large onion, diced
    1 large (or 2 medium) parsnips
    small butternut squash, cubed
    4 large potatoes
    3 medium-large sweet potatoes
    1 jar of spaghetti sauce
    2-3 cloves garlic, diced
    1/2 teaspoon basil
    salt & pepper to taste
    4 tbspn water

    Pie Pic


    1. Soak lentils for 30-40 minutes, then drain.

    2. Boil and mash the potatoes and sweet potatoes together.

    3. Par-boil the parsnips, carrots and squash cubes for 6-8 minutes, then drain.

    4. Preheat oven to 350°f (175°c.)

    5. Cover the base of the casserole dish with spaghetti sauce.

    6. Add an even covering of soaked lentils.

    7. Make the next layer one of diced tomatoes, and sprinkle evenly with the water.

    8. Now add a layer of small broccoli pieces and diced onions.

    9. Layer evenly with the carrots, parsnips and squash.

    10. Sprinkle on garlic, basil and salt & pepper.

    11. Finish with a thick layer of sweet potato/potato mixture.

    12. Cover with foil and bake at 350°f (175°c) for an hour to hour and fifteen minutes.

    This is a very hearty meal so there’s no need to serve it with any extras, but a salad is always a nice appetizer!

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