Debunking Myths


Today’s post comes to you courtesy of my dear friend and whole food, plant-base coach, Michelle of Tit Happens


So, Marilina, you have decided to eat a Whole Food Plant Based Diet for a whole month – how many times have you been asked:  “are you crazy – no meat or dairy??!!”,  “where are you going to get your protein?”, “what about calcium?”, and “how are you going to survive off kale and spinach for a month?”

Well, the reality is, it isn’t hard to eat a filling, satisfying, delicious whole food plant based meal, all while getting the right amount of protein and calcium your body needs.


First, I will address the thought that this diet only consists of kale salads and carrot sticks.  While carrots may cross your plate more frequently than they would in eating a Standard American Diet (SAD), it doesn’t mean you are now the modern day Bugs Bunny.  Rather, a whole food plant based diet involves eating veggies, fruits, seeds, nuts, mushrooms, beans, legumes and whole grains.  With a fridge and pantry full of these foods, the possibilities are close to endless.  Just look at Marilina’s past posts from this month to see the variety of delicious and nutritious meals and snacks we have made and enjoyed together – tacos with guacamole and cashew sour cream, bean burgers with a side of sweet potato fries, chocolate mousse, granola bars, and yes, a kale and cabbage salad.



Okay, so it all sounds delicious, but what about the protein?  Don’t I need to eat at least one Brontosaurus Burger a day to ensure I survive?  The answer to that is straight up, NO!  All of us need protein – it is needed to build and repair tissues – but it is found in so many other foods than just cows, pigs and chickens.  The building blocks of protein are amino acids – which are either created by the body or ingested through the food we eat. There are nine essential amino acids which our body cannot produce and therefore we must get them through our diet.  By eating a variety of plant based whole foods, our bodies will get all the amino acids, and therefore protein, they need.  There is a lot of talk about eating certain foods together to get a complete protein, however, many now believe that is not necessary – as long as your diet consists of a variety of  grains, legumes, and vegetables, your protein needs are easily met.  If you still aren’t sold, feel free to add in a protein shake.

To calculate your daily protein requirements: Body weight (in pounds) x 0.36 = recommended protein intake (in grams). 

  • Sources of plant based protein:
    • Cooked Veggies (1 cup)
      • Peas – 9g
      • Spinach – 5 g
      • Brussels Sprouts – 4 g
    • Cooked Whole Grains (1 cup)
      • Quinoa – 8 g
      • Farro – 8 g
    • Cooked Beans and Legumes (1 cup)
      • Lentils – 18 g
      • Edamame – 17 g
      • Black beans – 15 g
    • Nuts and Seeds (1 oz)
      • Hemp seeds – 10 g
      • Pumpkin  seeds – 9 g
      • Almonds – 6 g


Now onto calcium –  if you aren’t drinking milk and eating yogurt and cheese doesn’t that mean your bones are going to start randomly snapping and your teeth are going to crumble the next time you bite into an apple?  NO!  We have been taught that the best sources of calcium comes from dairy, but the reality is the foods that grow out of the ground can easily give us all the calcium we need.

The daily value for calcium is 1,000 mg.  Below is a list of great whole food plant based calcium sources:

  • 1 cup non-dairy milk (fortified nut, hemp + flax) = 200 – 300 mg
  • 2 cups of raw kale = 200 mg
  • 2 tbsp of chia seeds = 180 mg

Kris Carr’s Green Smoothie: 1 cup of fortified almond milk, 2 tbsp hemp seeds, 1/2 cup kale, 1/2 cucumber, 1/2 cup blueberries, 1/2 banana gives you over 500 mg!

The moral of this story is, variety is the spice of life – by eating a variety of plant based whole foods you can get all the vitamins, minerals and amino acids your body needs.  The only exception is vitamin B12 – so if you plan to eat a whole food plant based diet, please consider adding in a B12 vitamin – other than that, enjoy all the benefits that come with eating a diet full of phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals your body will thrive on!


The delicious whole food, plant-based recipes mentioned above will be posted throughout the week… stay tuned!

To view my Week 25 food journal, click here.


How To Milk An Almond


Give a woman an almond and you feed her for a day; teach her how to make almond milk and granola bars on her whole food, plant-based diet, and you feed her for a lifetime… or at least for Month 6 on her 12 in 12 journey.

I’m off to a great start on this month’s plan thanks to my whole food, plant-based coach, Michelle. She wanted to ensure I stocked my fridge and pantry with some ready-made treats, so we took to the kitchen to whip up a batch of almond milk, granola bars, and almond pulp granola clusters. These recipes are so easy to make that Michelle’s 3 year-old son, Taylor helped.

Yummers! Now we need something to wash them down with….

Nothing gets wasted on the whole food, plant-based diet…

BAM! Easy whole food, plant-based goodness!


I wonder what our next cooking class will bring… perhaps, 101 ways to make kumquat? Or, rutabaga roughage refreshments? Maybe, kale-kabobs? If they’re half as good as what we made today, it will be one of my favourite (and healthiest) months on my yearlong journey 🙂

To view my Week 22 food journal click here.


About Face

It’s time to say ciao to the Mediterranean diet and hello to the new plan of the month. The Whole Food, Plant-Based diet is as au naturale as it gets – it makes me want to smack on strategically placed fig leaves and join a nudist colony. As a matter of fact, it’s very close to the diet God gave Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, so if you believe in creation like me, this is the oldest diet known to man… sorry my Paleo and Cavemen friends!

This is a radical departure from all the plans I’ve been on so far on my 12 in 12 journey, but I’m no stranger to it. A few years ago, I went vegetarian after my daughter, a ‘weekday vegetarian’, turned me on to a series of documentaries exposing the ugly hidden truths of the food industry and industrialized farming. I binged on those docs like I do on chips and chocolate. For a week straight I was glued to the TV devouring them all: Food, Inc., Earthlings, Forks over Knives, Vegucated, Food Matters, Hungry for Change, Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead, May I Be Frank, and many more. By the time I came up for air I wanted to stop shaving my armpits, hug a tree, and free all confined animals.

I literally went “cold turkey” and didn’t ingest any animal protein for a year. I was proud to be an informed, ethical, and environmentally responsible eater, and figured I’d lose tons of weight too and exude vitality as a result. Oh contraire! Did you know vegetarians can be unhealthy too? It’s not the fruit, veggies and legumes that did me in, it was everything else I consumed.

I only asked one question before I ate something… “Did it have a face?” If the answer was “no”, then down the hatch it would go. You know what doesn’t have a face? Snickers. Ruffle potato chips. Gummie bears, because no real bears were harmed in the process. Garlic bread. Peanut M&Ms, for the protein of course. Nutella. Veggie nacho platter smothered in globs of processed cheese. Do you see where I’m going here? Technically, I was a vegetarian, but in reality I became a Carbetarian.

In my defence, that’s not how I started. I went hard-core, ate very clean at first and dropped 8 lbs. in just a few weeks. I stopped shopping at the local grocery store, and drove a little further to Whole Foods or Planet Organic. I even bought essential gadgets for a face-free kitchen, like an expensive juicer, which now sits on my counter collecting dust, a fancy-schmancy pineapple peeler, and several types of graters. I was even gifted a Spirooli (a fruit and veggie spiralizer) and a Blendtec to support my efforts.

I even planted vegetables in my sad and barren backyard! Me… the Dr. Kevorkian of plants – my home is where plants come to die, and now I was tending to them. I admit, most of them didn’t survive, but it’s true what they say about kale – they’re a hardy bunch – I think they flourished to spite my ineptitude as a gardener. If they fight that hard to survive, they must be good for us!

Other than having the BEST bowel movements (yes, I went there), my health didn’t improve much after the first few months. It wasn’t the diet’s fault, it was entirely mine. Like any diet, it’s about the choices you make, and I made poor ones. The calories were going in, but the nutrients weren’t. I ate more than I did on other diets, because I digested the foods quickly.

Four months after going vegetarian, I was diagnosed with Premature Atrial Contractions (PACs). The cardiologist asked if I made any recent lifestyle changes. I told him I eliminated meat from my diet and he suggested I start eating it again. But I wouldn’t hear it – the documentaries were still fresh in my mind and my convictions were strong.

Six months later, my condition worsened, and my vitamin D and B12 were dangerously low. Once again the cardiologist recommended putting some animal protein back in my diet, something both my family doctor and naturopath also urged. I agonized over the thought of eating meat again, but my wonky ticker was freaking me out. With a heavy flip-floppy heart, I went out and bought a single chicken breast at the organic butcher – I paid what I would have for a whole chicken at the regular grocery store, but justified it was worth it if the poor creature had a better quality of life before it became my dinner. I must have stared at it for 20 minutes before taking a bite, and when I did, I gagged and cried though the entire meal.

I’ve been back on meat for 8 months now, and my vitamin levels are back to normal. My heartbeats got better for a brief time, but now are skipping worse than ever. It’s apparent that diet doesn’t have anything to do with my irregular heartbeats, so if I choose to go back to being vegetarian after 12 in 12 it won’t influence my ticker one way or another.

So why go down this road again, especially since I’ve been there, done that? This time I’ve got me an awesome coach who is going to ensure I plan balanced meals and avoid the sugar and carb traps I fell into before.

Michelle Riccio is not only my co-worker, she’s my beautiful and courageous friend with an inspirational story. She went on a whole food, plant-based diet after being diagnosed with Stage 4 metastatic breast cancer a little over a year ago and has been advocating its benefits on her blog, Tit Happens.

This month, we are joining forces and co-writing our blogs together – a crossover if you will, and will go by the blended name, Searching For My Tit.


We will feature the many benefits of a whole food, plant-based diet, highlighting not only the weight loss component, but health and prevention as well.

Please join Michelle and I, as we enjoy our first whole food, plant-based meal together at Raw Aura to launch the plan.

To learn more about the do’s and don’ts of Whole Food Plant-Based diet, click here, and you will be directed to the 06. May 2015 tab.

The Result Are In

To find out how much I lost during Month 5, when I tested The Mediterranean Diet, click here, and you’ll be directed to the Measure Up section.