3 - Day 1: Victory
Sister Vegetarian's 31 Days of Drama-Free Living: Exercises and Recipes for a Healthy Mind, Body, and Spirit
Donna Michelle Beaudoin
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As a vegetarian, you have achieved victory from Day 1 of starting this lifestyle change! Act as though you've been living this lifestyle for years. You're victorious the very first minute you decided to change your eating habits to a vegetarian lifestyle. You are still victorious the next one, two, or more hours, and a full day. You are victorious 24/7!
The key to becoming, maintaining, and living a vegetarian lifestyle is knowing that you have victory every day of your life. When you accept this mantra as your daily affirmation, you are in a win-win situation. Do you sometimes feel with family and friends as though you're in a Star Wars episode, when everything hangs on Darth Vader's call to his son, "Luke, come to the Dark Side." When you have confidence in yourself that you can beat the Dark Side of meat, nothing your family or friends say—whether to your face or behind your back—will compel you to return to this unhealthful lifestyle. When your mind is strong, you're better able to deal with and conquer any situation.
You have a strong mind. So I want you to say to yourself that you are victorious today and every day. Say it now: I am victorious! Repeat it louder: I am victorious! Say it again and again: I am victorious! I am victorious!
It feels good, doesn't it? Your mind and body are rejuvenated; your inner spirit is renewed. You find yourself saying, Huh! I got this. I am victorious every day of my life on this vegetarian journey!
Repeat this mantra every day and you'll feel a positive change. You won't want to turn back to meat if you reinforce your success within your mind. You don't want to let yourself down. When you build confidence in yourself, you have the self-assurance to conquer all things. You develop a can-do attitude and believe in yourself. You need to give yourself a chance to enable that. I am victorious!
Do you believe it now? Yes, you do! Why? Because, in adopting a vegetarian lifestyle, you've made a conscious decision not only to take back your health, but, if you’re already healthy, to provide a wall of defense and protection against the cold, the flu, cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other illnesses. I can't, of course, guarantee that you won't ever get sick, but I can tell you that you've lessened your chances for contracting these illnesses or diseases. Your body is stronger and able to fight for you rather than against you. You can heal your body through vegetarianism and keep it healthy.
As I mentioned in the introduction, I know this from personal experience. I was hospitalized four times within a ten-year period for acute stomach pain that my physicians were at a loss to diagnose. I was also constantly sick with bacterial and viral infections. After a year of living a vegetarian lifestyle, the stomach pains had vanished. For over a year, I was virus and flu free—without taking any shots.
Hippocrates, the Father of Modern Medicine, is reputed to have said, "Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine your food." I would agree. As my vegetarian food healed me, I became healthier and stronger mentally, physically, and spiritually. I was getting up at five o'clock in the morning and riding a stationary bike for an hour, five days a week. I practiced yoga, ran long-distance races, and hiked and backpacked on the weekends. I went from a size fourteen to a size four in less than a year. I had more energy aged forty-three than when I was in my twenties and thirties. I felt and still feel more alive!
Do you believe in yourself? Adopt a can-do attitude. You can! You will! You are victorious!
Drama-free Mind and Spirit Exercises
- Repeat this mantra with a smile every day, and—if possible—shout it out: I am victorious!
- Write down your goals as a vegetarian. Is it to become healthier or maintain your current bill of health? When you write down your goals, you follow them through, because you've put them on paper. Post the goals where you can see them, such as your refrigerator or bathroom mirror.
- Write down the pros and cons of following a vegetarian lifestyle. Putting them on paper (and making sure that only you see them) will make your decision easier, because you'll realize that the pros always outweigh the cons.
- Surround yourself with a positive support group—such as the many vegetarian forums, websites, blogs, and community groups.
- Remember: Positive reinforcement supports your personal victory!
Drama-free Exercise for the Body
Victory starts with you. Begin an exercise program at a time of day that will enable you to maintain it on a daily basis. Studies have shown that we stay on an exercise program not by joining a gym but by doing something we love at a time of the day when we know we have the energy and time to stick with an exercise program. If you’re an early riser, fit it in at five a.m. before you get ready for work. Do you prefer to sleep late? Then six or eight p.m. may be better for you. Select the time that fits into your busy schedule as a working person, single parent, entrepreneur, caregiver, etc. Time for yourself is paramount if you want to maintain a drama-free life. What is your established exercise time?
Drama-free Easy Recipe
Victory! I Am Alive and Well Curried Raw Beet Greens Salad
My great-grandmother, Otis Mae Robinson, was born and raised in Alabama before she moved to California in the 1930s. She was proud of her Southern upbringing and her commitment to good nutrition. She ate beets weekly, if not more often, and regularly ate raw salads made of beet greens. My mother introduced me to beets as a toddler, and I've loved them ever since. It's a myth that children hate vegetables; they'll eat whatever you put in front of them. They develop their dislike of foods from the comments that parents make at the dinner table. Children do listen!
Let's be positive examples to our children, nieces, nephews, and grandchildren, through making wise choices and eating healthfully. Let's start with this beautiful, purplish vegetable that's packed with nutrients that halt the body's aging process. Most vitally, it protects us from colon cancer. Whether you eat the buttery- and sweet-tasting beet by itself or in combination with the slightly salty green leaves and stems, the beet acts as a natural detoxifier and prevents cardiovascular disease. I eat both root and stems every week to keep my colon free from toxins. It's a pretty package that Mother Earth gives to us to renew, grow, and energize our healthy cells.
I eat beets both raw and cooked in salads, Indian lentil stews, with pasta, and mixed with beans and legumes. Besides having more vitamins, antioxidants, and cancer-fighting nutrients than common lettuce, beet greens have many flavors packed into their leaves.
I’m incredibly proud of the contribution that the collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, beet greens, kale, and Swiss chard of my Southern and African-American heritages have made to our national cuisine. These beautiful vegetables have been called "slave greens," "soul food," "black food," and now "live" or "raw greens"—a testimony to their complicated journey through the American psyche. I didn't always consider them so highly. Even though I grew up eating these foods, during college in New England and after graduation I mixed more with students from non-Southern states and fell into the trap of thinking that eating greens was too Southern—by which I mean that I believed them to be unsophisticated and rustic.
Nonetheless, in more ways than one, you can't forget your roots; you always come back home. I finally returned to my senses and whence I came—not geographically, but to the culinary ways of my parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, and assorted aunts, uncles, cousins, and ancestors in Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina—who understood the value and importance of the bounty that Mother Earth provides. In both a literal and metaphorical sense, the collards, mustards, turnips, beets, and kale kept my family going through the years of slavery and Jim Crow. They were the ground that fed and nurtured us, and the way we asserted our identity, individuality, and racial pride. They made sure we didn't get sick, and that we stayed strong both physically and mentally.
Now my roots are, quite literally, a part of me: whether in hearty stews, delicious side dishes, and refreshing salads. It's almost like they’re saying: "We welcome you back with love, prodigal daughter. You were never gone from us."
Through the decades, traditional Southern and African-American recipes have seasoned and simmered the roots in water. However, cooking methods have emerged that provide a whole new world of eating your greens. Not only are they displayed on Food Network shows such as Bobby Flay's and Rachel Ray's, but they’re taught in culinary schools. You can even find them in raw-food restaurants from New York to Los Angeles and on the menu of four- and five-starred restaurants. The humble greens have arrived!
As you'll see throughout this book, I like to eat different salads topped with beets, lentils, black beans, eggplant, or more bounty from Mother Earth. I enjoy collard wraps for lunch stuffed with these greens, as opposed to lettuce. Not only do I find them tastier, but they serve to connect me with my grandparents' and great-grandparents' generation.
These leafy greens are full of more nutrients than the lettuce that populates the Standard American Diet (SAD). Swiss chard has been shown to possess anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and to assist in fighting cancer. High in calcium, potassium, iron, protein, and fiber, it supports healthy bones and is an excellent source for vitamins K, A, C, E, and B6. Turnip greens have a slightly bitter taste, with a hint of white pepper, and are beneficial in colon health, detoxification, and in aiding digestion. They are powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, and provide minerals such as calcium, niacin, potassium, and iron. In addition to being rich with protein and fiber, turnip greens are sources of vitamins K, A, C, E, B1, B2, and B5.
Collard greens have a buttery and slightly sweet taste. They provide assistance in fighting cancer, detoxifying the body, aiding digestion and cardiovascular health, and easing menopausal symptoms. They are excellent sources of vitamins K, A, C, E, B2, B5, and B6, and are filled with calcium, potassium, iron, protein, and fiber. Beet greens are bitter, and contain many of the same properties as the other greens. They are also good sources of Vitamin C and folate. Kale, which is sweet and crisp in taste, is also useful in treating the above conditions, and can also protect your eyes against cataracts.
The above positive qualities found in these greens are why I don't use the common lettuce varieties such as iceberg, romaine, butter, mesclun, oak leaf, etc. I like to go above and beyond and raise the bar for a salad—one that’s not only full of flavor but packed with antioxidants, cancer-fighting properties, and high in vitamins, cardiovascular protection, lung health, and loads of calcium to promote strong bones.
For this recipe, I used the entire beet—root, greens, and stems—and did so without peeling the root, since the skin also contains nutrients. In decades past, African Americans and Eastern Europeans often ate entire beets (greens, roots, and stems) for strength, health, and vitality. We rarely suffered from cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, or cancer problems in such numbers until we introduced ourselves to the SAD of processed foods. Mother Earth provides it all! Don’t eat SAD iceberg, romaine, and other common lettuces. Eat your Greens!
Curried Raw Beet Salad
- 4 cups non-cooked beet greens, washed. Roughly cut with about four inches of the stem left on. Stem is cut in half and added to salad.
- 1 clove medium garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup yellow onions, sliced
- 1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/8 cup organic maple syrup
- 1/8 cup organic raw apple cider vinegar
- 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp ground curry 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp ground coriander
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
Optional: For a lacto-vegetarian version of the salad, add a slice or two of fresh mozzarella cheese cut in half-inch slices, and place on top.
Optional: Serve crusty Italian bread, warmed, and drizzled with olive oil.
Oven Grilled Beets
- 1 small beet, washed and sliced in half- to one-inch rounds with the skin left on
- Ground chipotle pepper
- Olive oil
- Vegan liquid smoke
- Smoked paprika
Oven Grilled Beets Preparation
- Preheat oven to broil.
- Lightly coat an oven pan with olive oil.
- Add sliced beets to pan.
- Sprinkle lightly smoked paprika and ground chipotle. Add a few drops of vegan liquid smoke.
- Place in oven on broil. Broil four to five minutes on each side until just tender, but not fully tender. Beets should have a crunch.
Curried Raw Beet Greens Salad Preparation
- As beets broil in oven, combine beet greens with onions and garlic in a bowl. Mix with hands or tongs. I tend to mix with my (well-washed) hands, which do the job better than tongs or a spoon, and at the same time I'm giving my positive energy and love to the meal preparation.
- Combine salad marinade in a separate bowl or salad bottle. Mix with fork or shake bottle.
- Add marinade to bowl of greens mixture, and mix with hands.
- Set aside for five minutes to marinate (beet greens will shrink).
- When beets are done in the oven, add to the marinated salad and toss with tongs or your hands.
- Serve on a beautiful plate or pasta bowl. Pasta bowls are not just for pasta. I love them for serving stews, soups, and salads because they are wide like a plate, but hold salads well inside.
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