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Lifestyle tips

How strict of a vegan should I be?

Ok so you are interested in adapting the plant-based diet (vegan diet) but how strict should you be? Is it enough to avoid meat, eggs and dairy or do you have to be extra careful not to ever touch anything that contains even traces of animal products or which has been in contact with animal products during the manufacturing process? Can you eat meat once a year in Christmas or Thanksgiving? How about once a month?

Well there is lots of debate (and confusion) about this. There are lots of vegans who think that you must be 100% pure vegan all the time on all aspects of life to call yourself a vegan. If you eat meat once a year you are not vegan. If you wear a leather belt you are not a vegan. If you kiss someone who has eaten meat you are not a vegan. Et cetera.

This debate exists because people have so many different reasons to be vegan. I talked about this in my earlier post. It is quite natural that if someone is a vegan because they fight for animal rights their opinion will be different from someone who is a vegan because they believe that meat and dairy are unhealthy.

In my opinion, it is your personal choice. You decide that how strict you are going to be.

I personally do not believe in puritanism because I do not like extremities. Puritanism is the belief that everything is absolute. So to be a vegan means that you follow the principles of veganism absolutely at all times. If you do not, you are not a vegan and have no right to call yourself a vegan. I do not like this mindset in general, not in philosophy, in religion, in politics, in life and definitely not in diet. When you have this mindset the principles of veganism (to avoid animal products like meat, dairy and eggs) becomes a dogma and that’s when veganism starts to look like a cult or a religion. Veganism is not a religion. It is a diet. I think that refusing to touch food that has been in contact with animal products at some point during the manufacturing process is unnecessary, paranoid even.

I personally follow a vegan (plant-based) diet for health reasons. Even though (dietary) veganism is a big part of my minimalist lifetyle the main reason why I became a vegan was health. I was convinced that animal products are not healthy. But eating animal products in small quantities now and then is not dangerous. It will not kill you.

To illustrate this I like to use an analogy about alcohol. Everyone knows that alcohol is not healthy. Everyone knows that what is the outcome of heavy alcohol consumption. But consuming a glass every now and then is not dangerous. It can even be fun and fine alcoholic beverages are a gastronomic field on their own. When does alcohol become unhealthy? It is a matter of quantity and frequency. How often you drink and how much.What is the basis of your diet and what you consider a staple, what is normal to you. Is it normal to you to have a glass of vodka for breakfast or do you enjoy a glass of red wine once a month when you dine with your friends?

When it comes to vegan diet it is important to look at the big picture and not to nitpick on every single little detail. How healthy is your diet overall? If you eat a little piece of meat or put some cow’s milk in your coffee every now and then it is not dangerous and it will not ruin your diet and health.

Life is not only about following a dogma. Life is also about enjoyment. I would rather eat well than stress myself to shreds. I allow myself to bend the rules, especially at a restaurant and a party, as long as I do not do it too often. It is the big picture that matters. If my everyday diet is healthy and vegan it does not matter at all if I go to my friend’s wedding party and eat steak. Just don’t allow it to become your new normal. Besides, according to my experiences, when informing catering services about dietary restrictions it’s better to order vegetarian food and not vegan food. Most catering services understand what a vegetarian is and can cook delicious vegetarian food but they fail miserably at vegan food unless you have the opportunity to personally describe to them exactly what you want to eat.

If you notice that you eat steak every day or a couple of times a week then you definitely have slipped and have to think again. It does not matter if you drink glass of vodka once a year. But if you find yourself at the bar several times a week (let alone every single day) it is a different matter.

I know that many vegans think that because of my views I am not a vegan at all. I am not even a vegetarian. Well, I guess I am not, if we start to argue about precise definitions. But that is the reason why I do not like the term “vegan”. I like the term “plant-based”. I am not interested in dogma, I am interested in becoming healthier. “Plant-based” means that something is based on plants. That’s what my diet definitely is. My diet is based on plants and I follow a vegan diet most of the time, almost always.

I like to think that meat is a luxury product. Eggs and dairy products are luxury products as well. That’s exactly what they have been in history throughout the times. When did they become a staple food? In the modern times, after The Second World War. That’s also when modern health problems started rising. Many diseases like diabetes and alzheimer were almost unheard of before the war and that’s what they still are today in the developing world. Meat, dairy and eggs are not supposed to be a staple food, meaning that we are not supposed to consume them daily or even weekly. But I also do not believe that we should NEVER consume them.

You should view meat, dairy and eggs as luxury products, festive food or delicacies. I think that it is perfectly ok to have a “cheat day” every now and then. Remember that when you were a kid your parents allowed you to buy sweets once a week? On other days you were not allowed to buy sweets. You can adapt this to your new lifestyle. Follow a vegan diet but once a week you are allowed to eat whatever you want how much you want. This can actually help you transition because you will know that if you just stick to your diet in everyday life there will be a reward.

But how much is too much? It is your choice really and depends on your personality and goal. In my opinion a cheat day a week is enough. If you start having cheat days all the time then you are not really on track. Sometimes it can be easier to just eliminate the temptation completely. And of course, if being 100% vegan is what you want to be then go for it. Just don’t stress yourself to shreds about it. That’s how many vegans crash and burn and can even develop orthorexia or other eating disorder. Eating disorders are unfortunately common among vegans.

Do I have cheat days? Sometimes, yes, but not even every week. After being on vegetarian diet for a while I lost all appetite for meat and I don’t even miss it. After adapting the HCLF plant-based diet I noticed that I don’t really want to eat dairy and eggs either or any junk food or sweets. My only personal weak spot is going to cafes because I hate being alone at home and cafes don’t always have vegan options, especially cheaper ones. My most common “cheat” is to put cow’s milk to my coffee because vegan milk is not available but that’s about it. Vegan food just is so much better than non-vegan food. :)

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Lifestyle tips · Nutrition

There is not THE vegan diet, there are vegan dietS. But which one to follow?

You want to start a healthier lifestyle and part of this is adapting the plant-based diet (going vegan). But what to actually eat on a vegan diet? You hit Google and start searching. Very soon you will get confused. For many people this reason alone might be the reason why they never actually go vegan.

The fact is, vegans are far from being a homogenic group. There are many “schools” of veganism and they are even in conflict with each other. One says that x is healthy when y is unhealthy, and the other says y is healthy when x is unhealthy. Also, to many people veganism is not just a diet but a philosophy in larger scale, and a subculture with all kinds of side-effects. All of this reflects also on their views on diet and vegans as a group can seem very confusing to someone who is new or an outsider.

Before I talk about where I stand in this, I will talk about the definition of veganism and some common schools of veganism.

Basically veganism is a diet where a person does not consume any animal products. This includes everything that comes from an animal like meat (also poultry and fish), eggs, dairy, gelatin etc. Strictest vegans also exclude honey. To some people veganism is not only a diet but a lifestyle and a philosophy where a person refrains from using anything that harms animals like leather, fur or wool clothing and cosmetics that have been tested on animals. Vegan diet is also called plant-based diet (everything comes from plants only), strict vegetarianism or pure vegetarianism.

Dietary vegans are vegans who are more focused on health and diet aspects and may wear clothing that include animal products (like leather, fur or wool).

Ethical vegans are vegans who are focused on the ethical side and extend the vegan philosophy to other aspects of life than just diet. They promote animal rights and oppose the use of animal products for any purpose.

Environmental vegans are vegans who are concerned of the environment and want to avoid everything that they believe is environmentally damaging or unsustainable.

As far as I know, vegans usually tend to be a combination of all these three types. But when it comes to diet they often have very differing views. This results in many controversial schools.

Raw veganism or raw foodism is the belief that everything that has been cooked (even in low temperatures) is unhealthy. Raw vegans only consume food that is uncooked and they often extend this to spices as well, meaning that they require all single ingredient of a food product to be uncooked. Raw foodists often also exclude salt, sugar and all grains in any type or form.

Fruitarianism is the belief that fruits are the most natural food for the human beings and follow a diet which almost completely consists of different types of fruit. This is a sub-school of raw veganism.

HCLF veganism (High Carb Low Fat) is the belief that carbohydrates should be the basic source of calories for human beings and dietary fat should be restricted. There are basically two schools of HCLF vegans: the ones who base their diet on starches (potatoes, bread, rice etc. the teachings of Dr. John McDougall and his “The Starch Solution”) and the ones who base their diet on fruit (the teachings of Dr. Doug Graham and his “80/10/10” diet).

It is also very common among vegans to avoid all grains that contain gluten (especially wheat) and soy (soy milk, all imitation meat products made from soy protein) because they believe that these are unhealthy and harmful. Many vegans avoid both. There is also a vegan version of the low-carb philosophy.

The junk vegan is not really a school but I included it here because I think that this is relevant. “The junk vegan” is a nickname for a vegan who is into animal rights but who has little interest in healthy lifestyle. Potato chips are vegan. Beer is vegan. French fries are vegan. Peanut butter is vegan. Bisquits can be vegan. Chocolate can be vegan. Ice cream can be vegan. The junk vegan’s diet mainly consists of junk food that is vegan. They can end up very sick and very overweight but it was not because they were vegan, it was because their diet was very poor.

As you can see, veganism in practice is often far from just refraining from eating animal products. Many vegans follow at least one other philosophy or guideline (soy-free, gluten-free, low-carb, low-fat…) and when you search for vegan recipes or meal planners you notice that these are also based on these philosophies and that’s when you get confused. Also, the main principles and consistency of different vegan diets can be dramatically different.

That’s why I say that there is not THE vegan diet. There are vegan dietS and they can be dramatically different from each other. The only common ground is that they exclude animal products.

So you want to go vegan but how on Earth do you know which one is correct? Well, to be perfectly honest the only way to determine is to try them out for yourself and educate yourself. That is the only way to know which one REALLY works for you. But the truth is that some diets are harder to follow long-term and work best as short kick-starts or cleanses. Some are just plain unhealthy. Many vegans crash and burn and return to “the standard diet” and eating meat because they felt that veganism failed and ruined their health. Yes, you can ruin your health with poor diet practices and veganism is not a magic pill in itself. You must know what you are doing. When done right veganism is the healthiest, cheapest and most practical diet possible.

Where do I stand when it comes to vegan schools? I am a HCLF vegan in the starch school and my diet is a variation of Dr. John McDougall’s The Starch Solution. I have done years of experimenting on myself and I ended up here through trial and error. My practices have been tested and I follow them daily in my own life. They work. You can read more about me and my background here and here.

I am also a dietary vegan only. I am not interested in animal rights or environmental issues. But I am hugely into consuming less as a way to save money and personal resources and to simplifify my life. This is called the minimalist lifestyle and this is what I promote. I am also extremely lazy but I was blessed with good wits so I am good at clever planning. This also reflects on my views on diet. I am a vegan for health reasons but it is also a part of my minimalist (and lazy) lifestyle. Your reasons for veganism are irrelevant to me, whether you are vegan because of health, animal rights, the environment or something else, but if you want to save money or are into minimalism then I am your guy, especially if you want to eat healthier but don’t know how to cook.

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Lifestyle tips

The easiest and fastest way to kick-start your new plant-based diet

You are interested in adapting the plant-based (vegan) diet but don’t really know where to start… does this sound familiar? Don’t worry. In this article I will share a very simple yet effective way to kick-start your new path.

Your kitchen is probably stocked up with all kinds of stuff unsuitable to healthy plant-based diet. You have milk, cheese, ham, eggs, pastries, bisquits, chocolate, freezer full of meat, pizza, chicken nuggets etc. You spent lots of money on these products and you think to yourself: “I will consume these first because I spent big money on them. THEN I will go vegan.”

But going vegan just never happens because you always have some non-vegan products left. And you keep pushing and pushing starting your vegan diet and healthier lifestyle because of this. Things get complicated and overwhelming in your mind and you keep buying non-vegan products. Eventually you forget the whole thing and go on with your old habits. Then one day you realize that you STILL are not vegan and you STILL have done nothing to start eating healthier and you get disappointed in yourself. You might think again: “I want to get healthy, but I have spent big money on all these products…” And the whole circle starts again.

My advice is this: Do not push back starting eating healthy. Just do it. Do it all at once.

My advice is to one day make a decision to go vegan and then get rid of all non-vegan unhealthy products all at once. Simply put: just throw everything away or give everything to someone else. The point is to clean your kitchen so that you can start from a clean table. After you have done this go to a grocery shop and only buy healthy vegan produce and stock up your kitchen again. But first get rid of everything else.

I call this The Tumble Technique. Because when you want to change something it’s better to just take a tumble and turn everything upside down. This way you can have a clean fresh start and the temptation will not be there. Make a decision and act on it.

If you keep pushing and pushing forward the day you go vegan you end up never doing it. And if you just hide everything away in your cupboard you will still be conscious of all the chocolate and bisquits and cheese and when you are tired and cranky (what you eventually will be, epecially if you work long days and have kids) it’s very easy to reach your hand and BAM you are back to your old habits.

If you are new to veganism everything will feel different and a bit complicated at first. It’s very easy to sabotage everything with little things like this. That’s why you will have to throw everything away. Don’t think about the money lost, your new lifestyle is worth it and it will pay everything back. Also, re-stocking yor kitchen with vegan stuff won’t be expensive at all.

Now that you have thrown everything away, then what? Don’t worry, we will get to that soon. :3

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Lifestyle tips · Nutrition · Weight-loss

Calorie density: What it is and why it is VITAL to your weight-loss!

When it comes to weight-loss there are some very simple principles that can help you tremendously when you just understand them. One very important one is calorie density.

Let me explain in a tic.

Calorie density simply means that how many calories per 1 gram a specific food product contains. For example, cherries contain 0.5 calories per 1 gram. So 10 grams of cherries contain 5 kcal, 100 grams contain 50 kcal and so on.

Foods that are calorie dense contain lots of calories per 1 gram. The most calorie dense food is oil which contains 9 calories per 1 gram. That’s almost 20 times as much as cherries! This means that only one teaspoon of oil contains as many calories as 100 grams of cherries. Cherries are not calorie dense, in other words cherries are calorie dilute.

How does this help you? Well, think about the one teaspoon of oil. That’s a very small amount and you would easily consume that amount without even noticing it, especially if you use oil in frying your food. Just to fry your food you wouldn’t use only one teaspoon of oil, you would use three or even more. Then, you would have consumed 135 calories only in the form of frying oil.

To consume 135 kcal by eating cherries you would have to eat 270 grams of them. That’s already a noticeable amount. You could eat them as a snack even. But eating three teaspoons of oil? That’s only a very small sip and wouldn’t make you feel full at all.

Eating calorie dense foods does not take much volume in your stomach. It means that you can eat lots of calories without even noticing it. But when you eat calorie dilute foods they take much more volume in your stomach, making you feel full.

Foods which are calorie dense are those that contain lots of oil (or other fat). This means foods like nuts, meat and cheese but also foods that contain added oil like cake, muffins or fries. These foods contain lots of calories per 1 gram so they are very easy to overeat on because they don’t take as much volume in your stomach when compared to calorie dilute foods.

The least calorie dense foods are vegetables, berries, fruits, whole grains, potatoes and beans. It’s impossible to overeat on vegetables because you would have to eat them in such huge quantities that you just wouldn’t be able to do it. Three teaspoons of oil contain as many calories as a whole pound of broccoli! You can easily fill your stomach with these foods without consuming too many calories. They make you feel full on much less calories.

Here is a picture to illustrate that:

Caloric-Density

Here is another picture. Both meals contain 1575 calories. Notice how different they are? The one to the right contains much more stuff but still the calories are the same. So there’s much more to eat in the meal to the right.

EnergyDensityPR

Here are other illustrative pictures. Each plate contains 100 calories. Notice how just very small portions of nuts and pastries contain the same calories as huge piles of vegetables?

When eating only foods that are calorie dilute you minimaze your possibility to overeat. This means vegetables, berries, fruit, grains, potatoes etc. plant foods. This is what the plant-based diet for weight-loss is all about.

Picture sources:

plantbaseddietitian.com

caloriedense.com

 

mansikkahalki_pieni

 

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Lifestyle tips · Nutrition

How did I manage to convert from meat-eating low-carber to vegan high-carber?

You have probably already figured out that I am a vegan. But to be perfectly honest, I am THE LAST person one could have ever imagined to go vegan. I do not believe in animal rights (even though I believe in animal welfare) and environmental issues are not the first things in my mind when I think of world problems. Most of my life I have actually been anti-vegetarian and at one point wanted absolutely nothing to do with vegetarians, especially vegans (because vegans were even worse than vegetarians).

So what happened?

I have a strong backgroud in the low-carb movement. I was a low-carber (more or less) for seven years. For years my diet was pretty much based on meat and dairy products, especially cheese and raw milk. I was around 21 years old when I discovered the low-carb movement completely by accident. In my country (Finland) the ”leader” of the low-carb movement is a medical doctor named Antti Heikkilä. I noticed an article in a magazine about his ”Pellinki diet” (which is a low-carb diet he has named after a place he has his summer cottage in). Dr. Heikkilä has written countless books about modern diseases and the low-carb diet and I proceeded to read them all. That’s when I also learnt about the ”paleo diet”, also known as the caveman diet, which is a variation of the low-carb diet.

The main argument of the low-carb promoters is that fat does not cause disease and make people fat, it’s the carbohydrates. High-carbohydrate foods like grains (rice, wheat, barley, all flours etc.), corn or potato are not ideal food for human beings because we have not been evolved to consume such foods. Human beings did not consume any grains before the dawn of agriculture which is only about 10,000 years ago, when the modern human species is about 200,000 years old. Such information was completely new to me and I was very impressed of Heikkilä’s books. I adapted the diet he was promoting and followed it very strictly for a while, and later more or less for a total of seven years.

But the thing is that I never really quite enjoyed this diet. I absolutely love bread and rice but those were both completely forbidden. At times I craved them so badly that in a grocery shop I had to close my eyes when walking past the bakery section. I would have given anything to be able to eat bread. I didn’t even think about sweets, like candy, chocolate or cakes. But I tried to be strong because Dr. Heikkilä had said that people crave carbohydrates because they are highly addictive foods (comparable with heroin) and they will make people sick. I also believed that carbs make people fat and was trying to lose weight. I had always been very skinny but had recently gained 15 kilos (33 pounds) and wanted to shed them all. I managed to lose 5 kilos (11 pounds) but the rest stuck like cancer. After years of struggle, diet restrictions and going to gym I managed to lose 5 kilos more but never got in the shape I wanted. I gained the 5 kilos back, then lost some, then gained again etc. All the time I would have just wanted my bread and rice. To hell with meat and cheese and eggs (which were the basis of my diet).

But then in 2014 came a big change in my living conditions. I moved to a new city across the country in search for work and stayed in very primitive conditions. I had no running water so as a consequence I had no kitchen or bathroom and had no proper kitchen equipment like an oven. I had no freezer at all and my fridge was the size of a school backpack. I was forced to mainly consume foods that could be stored in room temperature. I quickly dropped meat, raw milk and eggs off the menu and started consuming nuts, seeds and fruit instead. Cheese and butter were the only animal products and I kept them to the minimum because I couldn’t fit them in the fridge. I had been going on like this for a while when I noticed that I wasn’t even missing meat or eggs. I sometimes bought them but noticed that I prefererred nuts and avocado so I stopped buying them completely.

Then one day I realized that I am basically a vegetarian. And I was LIKING it! I had zero desire to eat any meat or eggs. Even the thought was unpleasant. Nuts, seeds and avocados tasted much better. Later I got a job as a chef at a school and part of my job was to also cook for people with dietary restrictions. Every day I cooked vegetarian and vegan food as well as the standard food and noticed that I much, much preferred the taste of the vegan food and always chose to eat the vegan food myself, even though standard food with meat was available.

The realization that 1) I was basically a vegetarian, 2) I preferred the taste of vegetarian food was critical. Without this I probably would have never become open to the new ideas I was about to discover.

In the beginning of the year 2015 I stumbled upon a raw food blog hosted by two Finnish women. There they wrote short articles about their raw food vegan diet which consisted almost entirely of fruit. I was already familiar with the raw food diet and I had been conscious of it almost as long as the low-carb diet but I had never looked at it in detail because I had always been allergic to all things vegetarian. But the articles in this blog caught my attention because they presented scientific evidence which was in complete disagreement with the evidence low-carb diet promoters had presented. I started investigating more and ended up in the American low-fat high-carb raw vegan movement. I got especially interested in the writings of the Canadian life style coach Frederic Patenaude and the medical doctor John McDougall because they argued rationally and everything they said was backed with scientific evidence. I am a kind of nerdy science type person when it comes to things like this. I would have never listened to people whose main argument was ”vegan makes you feel good” or ”going vegan will save the world and the animals” because as I said earlier, animal rights and environmental issues are not close to my heart and never have been. But science and rational argument… I cannot bypass those.

The scientific evidence favouring the low-fat high-carb vegan diet was so convincing that I decided to jump headlong, throw all the hippie prejudice out of the window and forget the low-carb craze of seven years. I started experimenting with the diet. I only ate fruit, vegetables, porridge and rice. During the first two weeks I lost 1 kilo (2.2 lbs) per week. After a month I had come down one clothing size and could fit in trousers which I hadn’t been able to button up a month earlier. Two months later I was at the lowest weight in 10 years and the only thing I changed was my diet. I didn’t even go to the gym during that time.

I had to think again the things I had learnt about the paleo diet and low-carb diet in general. I had to consider that maybe Dr. Heikkilä and all the other low-carb promoters are wrong. There must be more to this.

Because I just LOVED my new vegan diet. I followed Dr. McDougall’s plant-based (vegan) diet program called ”The Starch Solution” and the experiment went so well that I adapted the diet as part of my life style and have been following it ever since. I can now eat the things I love the most (bread and rice) so giving up meat, dairy and eggs doesn’t matter to me at all. This diet is also very cheap and highly practical because almost everything can be stored in room temperature.

The biggest problem with almost any vegan or vegetarian website/book/person promoting the vegan diet and lifestyle is that their main argument often is that one should go vegan because it helps the environment and animals. If my lifestyle helps the environment then ok, cool, but that reason is not a reason enough for someone like me to ever even consider trying to go vegan.

If a person like me can adapt the vegan diet so can you! This diet is not only about ethics – it’s also about health, price and practicality.

mansikkahalki_pieni

 

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Lifestyle tips

The Caffeine Breaker: How I dealt with coffee addiction and discovered a balanced solution

the-best-thing-about-waking-up

Mmm, coffee… The elixir of life. The best moment of any day is the first cup of morning coffee… The smell, the taste, especially when combined with your favourite treat, like a croissant or cinnamon roll… just mmmm…

I am certain that many of you would agree on what I just said. But I am also certain that many of you would agree that coffee is unhealthy for you and you might even want to quit drinking it. Perhaps you have already tried but failed.

Then you are where I used to be. It took months and months of experimenting and trial and error from me to finally find a solution that REALLY worked. I will now share my story and what I discovered.

Coffee is my vice. It´s THE vice of my life. I just love everything about coffee, the smell, the taste, how it combines with cinnamon rolls and other sweet pastries… or chocolate! I can’t get enough of it. There’s nothing better than a cup of coffee and a fresh cinnamon roll.

And the stronger the better. I have a weakness for very strong espresso and parisienne and at my worst times I would drink strong espresso at home all day long. From the moment I wake up to late at night. That’s 2-3 litres at least. PER DAY.

To my misfortune I also happen to be sensitive to caffeine… At one point I started to get worrying physical symptoms like fast heartbeat (even at rest), dizziness, continuous insomnia and headaches so powerful that I couldn’t open my eyes. I noticed that the symptoms began immediately after drinking a cup of coffee. I felt this throbbing warm sensation in my hands and my heart started beating faster, then came the dizziness.

Tea does not cause any of the symptoms. I also like tea (all kinds of it), have liked for years, so I tried switching to tea completely but it simply is not the same thing… Tea does not taste like coffee so drinking tea simply is not the same thing.

I tried quitting coffee many times. Caffeine withdrawal symptoms were severe. I had so powerful headaches that I couldn’t open my eyes, I was sweating and felt weak and unhappy. Sometimes I managed to stay off for a week or two but then I started again. This cycle repeated countless times. I knew that I just HAD to quit but it was so hard.

Then I accidentally ran into coffee substitute products at a health store. These are products that imitate coffee but contain no coffee at all, or caffeine. I bought a ”cereal coffee” which was made from roasted barley. Some other brands are made from roasted chicory roots.

Coffee substitute products have been used historically in Europe and USA to imitate coffee when real coffee has been too expensive for common people to buy, or unavailable for some reason (like during war). The product made from barley which I bought was surprisingly coffee-like. It didn’t taste exactly like coffee but the taste was very similar and even the smell was coffee-like enough.

So I started using this product. I took it even to work. At first it worked really well. I didn’t really miss real coffee. But there was one huge problem: the product I used was only available at health food stores and it was REALLY expensive. It cost over seven times as much as real quality coffee. And then after using it for several weeks I started having stomach pains and gas. I got them right after drinking the barley coffee and when I didn’t drink it the symptoms disappeared. So eventually I had to stop drinking it for health reasons. There was something in it that was irritating my stomach.

So back to square one again… I tried drinking tea again but it still didn’t work. It just does not taste like coffee so I got back to drinking coffee again.

One day it was a normal day at work and on coffee break I randomly got an idea… I had been experimenting with the barley coffee trying to find an optimal recipe to make it (it’s in powder form and the powder is mixed with hot water in a cup), sometimes adding more water and sometimes less. So I thought to myself: What if I add hot water to real coffee and dilute it? That way the amount of actual coffee would be reduced because my cup of coffee would contain more water.

Introducing you to my caffeine reduction and coffee-quitter system: The Caffeine Breaker. A very simple yet effective way to deal with coffee addiction!

So I started adding hot water to my coffee and gradually increased the amount of water until I got to a point where I am today: I put only less than an inch of coffee in the bottom of my cup and then fill the cup with hot water and some (plant-based) milk. With The Caffeine Breaker I can still drink coffee but the actual amount of coffee per day stays very little even when I have several cups a day!

caffeine-breaker

This is how I finally found a satisfactory solution to my coffee problem. Even if you mix your coffee with lots of water the resulting beverage still tastes and smells like coffee. It does take some time to get used to, though, so that’s why it has to be done gradually. But in the end you you will get used to it and won’t even like coffee that has not been diluted because it’s too strong.

This way you can still enjoy your cup of coffee without the negative effects of caffeine getting out of hand!

If a hardcore espresso drinker like myself can do it so can you!

The Caffeine Breaker system can also be used to quit coffee alltogether and if it works for you, great! Quit coffee completely if you just can. I am a huge addict and haven’t been able to quit completely but drinking diluted coffee is much better than drinking non-diluted coffee because the effects of caffeine are much lighter. I no longer suffer rapid heartbeat, dizziness or head aches.

Good luck!

mansikkahalki_pieni

 

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Lifestyle tips · No-blender smoothies · Recipes

I hated smoothies but changed my mind…

… after I learned to make smoothies without a blender!

If you have ever stumbled upon any vegan food blog or recipe site you have probably already noticed that smoothies are everywhere. Vegans are crazy about smoothies. Everybody seems to be making them. Some people even replace meals with them and are all over the place about how healthy smoothies are and how you should consume them too.

Well I tried but never quite got the point. I had never tasted a proper smoothie, let alone a green smoothie, in my life. I had only tried those ready-made smoothies from supermarkets and those tasted like normal juice… Nothing special really and oh, I hate juice because it’s way too sweet to my taste. Green smoothies on the other hand just sound weird and unappetizing. They are smoothies made of salad or other vegetables. Sometimes they are mixed with fruit. Sure does not sound like anything tasty to me!

To even start making one’s own smoothies one must have a powerful blender like a Vitamix. But those don’t come cheap. The cheapest Vitamix model costs over $200 and even much cheaper (and much less powerful) blenders cost at least $100. I had never had a blender and investing in one seemed like a gamble because how can I ever be certain if I am even going to use it because I had never tried making smoothies before? Also wouldn’t want to invest in a crappy blender either. It always annoyed the crap out of me to read vegan food blogs and notice that 90% of all recipes required a powerful blender…

One day I read about green smoothies and their amazing health benefits from a vegan blog and wanted to try a green smoothie detox. But I still had no blender so I decided to try making smoothies with my inexpensive hand-blender.

Well that didn’t work at all! I managed to break THREE hand-blenders before giving up completely. Hand-blenders just werent powerful enough. My spinach leaves just got stuck in the blades and I had to cut them with scissors to remove them. Also the resulting ”smoothie” was more like a cold vegetable soup with no seasoning. Yuck.

So I gave up on smoothies completely… until I visited a newly opened raw food café in my city. They offered fresh smoothies made-on-order and I tried one… and really liked it! It was nothing like those overly sugary supermarket smoothies. It was silky and tasty and oh so fresh. So I decided to give smoothies a second chance and visited a smoothie café. This one had a huge menu of all kinds of different smoothies and I chose the weirdest green smoothies which contained pear, kale, mango, seaweed and spirulina (kind of algae). I LOVED them! They were so good that I just wanted to sit there all day long sipping different smoothies.

At home I tried making smoothies without a blender once more. I managed to develop some combinations which were possible to make with only an inexpensive hand-blender. I have been making them ever since and am loving them!

NONE of my smoothie recipes in this blog require a blender like a Vitamix!

Smoothies do NOT have to be complicated or yucky sugary. Trust me, those pre-packaged and pasteurazed ”smoothies” in supermarkets and health food stores have nothing to do with freshly made smoothies. With my simple recipes you can start making your own today and you only need an inexpensive hand-blender! You do need to chop the ingredients in cubes first though so you need a sharp kitchen knife and a cutting board too because a hand-blender is not powerful enough to process whole fruits or salad leaves. But fortunately it only takes a couple of minutes of your time!

Here’s my favourite simple and inexpensive smoothie recipe for you to try. More to come later!
Enjoy!

GREEN SMOOTHIE #1:
– 1 apple
– 1 mango or papaya
– handful of spinach
– 2 desilitres (1 cup) of water

How to prepare:
Chop everything and add to a bowl, or preferably a tall jug or glass (this is much easier to make in one of those, refer to picture below). Add water and blend with a hand-blender until smooth.

 

handblenderjug

mansikkahalki_pieni

 

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