Jessica Potch, one of my students from Galt, CA, is a shining example of how contagious our actions and emotions can be. Jessy is such a positive force, genuinely making the world a better place by sharing her love of nutrition with those around her and inspiring them to become better versions of themselves. The cool recipe that she shares is perfect to make in the morning, especially for sleepy-heads transitioning back to school, in what still feels like the heat of the summer!
In August of 2015, when I took Nutrition 300 taught by Professor Hagenburger at Cosumnes River College, I never imagined it would have such a big impact on my life. After attending the course for about a month and a half, I decided to experiment with a plant-based diet. It has been almost ten months since I first made that change, and I have experienced so many benefits along the way. Not only did this lifestyle change impact my life, but my boyfriend, Brett’s, as well. In January of this year, he became completely vegan and we both feel as though this change has been one of the most important decisions of our lives. It gets even better, because I see the change that we made is also impacting my family. Many members of my family are noticing how well were are doing, and they are now becoming more health conscious. Making the decision to choose plant-based whole foods on our own, and when we are with others, has created a lot of opportunities for important discussions about health and nutrition.
Many people have misconceptions about a plant-based diet, which may prevent them from giving it a try. A common concern that people have shared with me, include getting enough nutrients, including protein. I have also heard people say they couldn’t imagine giving up meat or cheese, and so they don’t even make an attempt. Even though I was vegetarian before I became went vegan, the idea of going completely plant-based was still intimidating at the beginning. Brett had never followed a vegetarian diet and was originally concerned about protein and calcium, until I shared the research we learned in class, which motivated him to do more fact finding on his own. Not only did the information we discovered give us confidence in these new decisions that we were making, we were also feeling better and better. Plus, the more recipes we tried, the more fun we were having, and we soon realized that it was getting easier and easier to eat entirely plant-based.
One of the biggest challenges for Brett in breaking away from the standard American diet and adopting a plant based lifestyle, was letting go of the “meat mentality.” Like others who struggle with dietary changes, he always told himself that he could not live without meat and that consuming it was vital to maintaining good health. As soon as he realized that meat was not needed to optimize health and be satisfied with meals, it was much easier for him to see that the “need” he had felt before was the product of habit and marketing. Most of us grew up without considering that we actually had an option to eat animal products or not. The decision was made for us and most of us never gave it a second thought. To complicate things a bit more, many people around us seemed to take pride in not only consuming animal products, but eating them in large quantities, without regard for the impact these choices are making on their own health and the health of the planet. Because of this way of thinking, some people may view veganism as limiting or restrictive. However, for Brett, it is about being open-minded, willing to step up to protect our environment and choose healthful options over the status quo.
I developed a new appreciation for cooking and became a lot more aware of the food that we put in our bodies. We eat a bigger variety of foods now than we ever did and I really look forward to cooking together and sharing delicious meals. If we can do it, I know that everyone has the ability to transition to a whole food, plant-based diet. If you are curious, but are hesitating because it seems like it would be too big of a change compared what you used to eating, you may not realize how many whole foods (fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds) that you are already enjoying! It is also good to keep in mind that when you make a big change, you can enjoy big results! This has truly been a journey for us, and will be different for everyone, but it is has been so enlightening and life-affirming. Throughout our time being plant-based, we have learned so much about the enormous impact that this way of nourishing ourselves has our own health, as well as the treatment and well-being of animals, and the preservation of the environment. We both feel so lucky to have become aware of the numerous benefits of choosing a whole food, plant-based lifestyle. Not only do we feel great physically, but our choices also align with continuing to live healthier as we age, and are now consistent with our ethics and conscience.
One of our go-to recipes, a favorite on busy mornings or after a particularly challenging water polo practice, is a satisfying smoothie. We keep the freezer stocked with fruit and always have greens in the fridge. Have fun experimenting with your favorite ingredients and personalizing it. This is a great recipe to make if you are new to adding greens to your smoothies. You’ll also soon realize that smoothies are so much quicker and cheaper when you make them at home. Brett and I hope that you enjoy every sip!
JnB’s Sweet Smoothie – Share this delicious drink with someone you love!
1/2 c frozen blueberries
1/2 c frozen strawberries
1/2 c frozen mango
1/2 c water
1/3 c unsweetened almond milk
big handful of spinach
Blend all of the ingredients until smooth and enjoy right away!
The Nutrition Professor’s Tips
- If you have a tree nut allergy, water or any other plant-based milk can be substituted for the almond milk (soy milk, flax milk, oat milk, etc.).
- Add a few ice cubes, for a slushier drink.
- A few teaspoons of chia seeds will provide additional fiber, protein and omega-3 fatty acids.