Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Garden Lites can help Oprah and YOU go vegan!

Did you catch yesterday's episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show? She and 378 of her staff decided to go vegan for a week. We at Garden Lites were excited to hear that eating healthier, especially vegan and vegetarian diets, had reached the "Oprah" level of awareness. We'll recap it for you here, and give you options to help incorporate some of her ideas into your everyday life.

Who is vegan?

Vegetarian Times did a study in 2008 and found that 1 million people in America follow a vegan lifestyle, they fall within the 7.3 million people who are vegetarians and in addition to that, 22.8 million people lead a "vegetarian-inclined diet". That means 13.2% of the population has adopted some form of vegetarianism. And the numbers have only gone up since!

What is "vegan"?

Veganism is a diet consisting of no animal meat or byproducts. That means no meat, fish, eggs, milk or any other food that came from an animal. For even more about what the vegan lifestyle is like, visit's frequently asked questions page, here.

Why go vegan?

Oprah wasn't shunning the meat industry like her snafu in 1998, instead she was trying to raise people's awareness of what they consume. By stepping back and changing up your patterns, you can create new, healthier habits that promote balanced diet and happier living. Many staffers commented that by the end of the week they were feeling much lighter and full of energy than they had on their previous diets that included meat. Numerous staffers happily (over)shared on their positive digestion experiences. We won't get into that, but it has been proven that eating more fruits and vegetables helps regulate your digestive system. Food expert and author Michael Pollan encourages people to follow these 7 words when it comes to what they consume: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

How can you be vegan?

Not everyone can have the help of Oprah's chefs and Harpo's cafeteria working hard to create inventive vegan options. There are lots of resources out there, Vegan Starter Kits and Vegetarian Starter Kits. When re-assessing how you eat, it often means going back to basics in your kitchen, dissecting what really goes into food, and taking out what doesn't need to be there. Restaurants add lots of extra ingredients and calories and when you start cooking at home you'll be able to control what you eat. Many busy people don't have time to cook fresh homemade vegan meals every day and need a fast at-home or on-the-go option. If you find yourself thinking "I like the concept of cutting out meat and byproducts, but I just can't fit it into my lifestyle" that's where Garden Lites can help. Our frozen products can help fill in the gaps when it comes to healthy, meat-free items.

If you are trying the vegan lifestyle, our Zucchini Marinara and Zucchini Portabella "pasta" dishes are great options for you. Use them as a lunch, side dish, or atop pasta for a complete meal.

If you are "leaning in" as they say, and trying the vegetarian lifestyle instead, all 8 of our Garden Lites souffles and dishes can help you keep variety and convenience in your eating ritual. Visit our website, to learn more about all of our products.

Where can you get vegan products?

Oprah's episode was sponsored by Whole Foods, where they carry numerous vegan and vegetarian foods. Many grocery stores are taking on the challenge to provide more natural options for customers. Garden Lites are located in Whole Foods across the country as well as many other retailers. To find our products in a store near you, visit our Store Locator.

In the end, Oprah didn't push the vegan lifestyle on her viewers, but recommended they "lean in" and try eating vegan or vegetarian once a week. The "Meatless Monday" campaign has been underway since 2003 and they do exactly that, promote vegetarian eating once a week. On their website they say "Our goal is to help you reduce your meat consumption by 15% in order to improve your personal health and the health of the planet. [...] By cutting out meat once a week, we can improve our health, reduce our carbon footprint and lead the world in the race to reduce climate change." You can do it, Garden Lites can help.

To learn more about Oprah's Vegan Challenge, click here.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Healthy Tips for Busy Moms

Recently, I've been looking into healthy eating tips for busy moms who have full plates and not much time left for themselves. Obviously I'm going to suggest Garden Lites as a helpful tool to healthy food on the fly, but that's just one piece. Some of the articles I've read are appalling.

This article advises readers to throw out your kids leftovers or else "[...] you're bound to stuff a few of their nuggets or a hot dog in your mouth."
They aren't alone in the message they are sending moms. Avoid the junk you feed your kids.

In the spirit of "getting real"... C'MON PEOPLE!

The best solution to eating healthy with a busy family is to involve your family. No more cooking multiple dinners to appease everyone's pallettes. You should cook for the lowest common denominator. Are you trying to incorporate healthy fruits and vegetables into your daily life? To drink more water? Move more? Get everyone into that mindset. Make it a game! Keep a chart on your fridge to keep track of how many glasses of water each of you has had per day. After meal time, go for a family walk around the block or shoot hoops. See who can reach their daily recommended amounts of fruits and vegetables first. (Okay, that one is a little dorky, but hey - maybe it'll work?)

If you consider a food not worthy of entering your healthy lifestyle, why feed it to your kids? Teach them about reading food labels, what each nutrient means and how it helps your body function. Make it a challenge to find clean food labels when you go grocery shopping. (*Ahem* - Garden Lites) As the healthy challenge progresses, your kitchen will be rid of temptations and full of healthy options for everyone.

When it's not just you versus the world, you stand a fighting chance to maintain your healthy lifestyle. Also, you have your very own support system! What better way to teach kids the importance of nutrition early on? You will be giving them a lifelong tool for success. And for you? Another chance to get into your skinny jeans.

If you don't know where to start with healthy meals your kids will love, check out Meal Makeover Moms!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Been there, done that. Working towards the t-shirt.

They say if your ears are burning, someone is talking about you. But if your legs are burning, it means you're training for a 5K.

It's crunch time for me, as I am almost a month away from race day - Saturday, February 12th. I did my best to stay healthy over the holidays, but having 4 weekends in a row celebrating with different family groups was a big challenge. Now I am back into the swing of things, almost all of the cookies are gone, and I'm ready to get running.

These past couple months since resolving I will run a 5K have been rocky. Despite being excited at the idea of being one of "those people" who do races, I couldn't find the motivation to actually go out and start. I'd think about it a lot though. If thinking about exercising actually burned calories, I'd be set. Too many excuses were at my fingertips. I guess I expected that one day I'd be so ready that I'd just feel the urge to run. Lo and behold, that happened. I don't think this is normal for people, but yesterday I suddenly got the urge to put on my running shoes when I got home from work and run. Not just run, try the whole 5K distance and see how I did.

I enlisted the help of a running buddy and set forth. Amidst the dark, still snowy streets of Queens, I gave it my all. Before I left the house, I researched online a spot 1.7 miles away (the movie theater) and purposely left my money at home to prevent any last minute "Why don't we just stay here and catch a movie?"

I won't say it was fabulous. I huffed and puffed the whole way, trying to keep my whining at bay. We jog/walked it, and it took a while. My goal was to get to the halfway point in 20 minutes, and we achieved that. Overall the 5K took 50 minutes (including the .3 extra miles on our route) I'd like to get it down to 30 for race day. I heard for beginners, the 30 minute mark is a good, attainable goal.

I think my next training goal will be to jog for 30 minutes straight without stopping. Hopefully that will get me accustomed to a steady pace. No matter what I do next, it feels easier to get up and go because I've already been there. I guess Nike had it right when they said "Just do it." It really helps get the momentum rolling!