You may recall that in October (the 23rd to be exact), I went to The Mayo Clinic for my yearly physical. While I had been watching my LDL cholesterol levels rise over the last 5 years, it wasn’t until my coronary calcium test revealed calcium build up in my arteries that I made a radical switch to a whole-food-plant-based (WFPB) diet as an alternative to going on statin medications.
Fast forward three months to a quaterly blood test, and I am thrilled to report that through diet and exercise, I have lowered my cholesterol 33 points to 183, and my LDL 26 points to 82 (which was my goal!). Doc said congrats but he would like to see my cholesterol hover around 150, so onward I trudge.
Many people look at me with incredulity and ask, “Is it hard?” No, not really…once you get the hang of it. Do you miss you old diet? No, because I feel great and have lost 5 pounds while eating like a champ. Literally, I eat 4 large meals a day. It was only a little difficult when we were traveling around Egypt, but I just made smart choices when I had to cheat. For instance, I would eat chicken or fish and not a double cheeseburger.
But, think about it…I was able to take control of my health and lower my cholesterol while dropping weight. So, what have I done? I have basically eliminated, 98% of the time, meat, dairy and fried foods. I have been working my way through some books dealing with heart health, specifically The China Study and How to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. And I eat a lot of vegetables, legumes (like lentils and beans), and brown rice and quinoa. Oh, and my friend Tom (quadruple bypass survivor), said that fiber is my friend and recommended I carry chia seeds and sprinkle them in everything, which I do. They are awesome. Never mind the fact that they get stuck in your teeth (when you see me, please be a good friend and let me know if I my teeth are covered with black spots). I have also become addicted to almond milk, coconut sugar and can make a flaxseed egg like a pro (it is an egg substitute for baking).
One of the biggest questions I get asked is what am I going to focus on with my blog since in the past I have featured such delicacies as duck and foie gras burgers, fried turkey dinners from the Texas State Fair, and the joy of lard. I know, it should have been no surprise that my cholesterol was so high LOL. In the last three months I have continued to dine out, but I have greatly moderated what I am eating. I am continuing to explore the Valley culinary scene, while showing healthy alternatives for those on restricted diets or who just want healthy alternatives.
At home, I am the Virgin Mary of cooking…nothing sinful at all. One of my darling daughters gave me a Vitamix for Christmas and I have had so much fun mixing away. In light of healthy alternatives and Valentine’s Day, I have mixed up a Raspberry Banana Almond Smoothie with chia seeds that will get your day off to a great start. It is vegan and gluten free, chock full of anthocyanins, fiber and plant protein. I think it’s pretty tasty, black spots on my teeth and all!
My next blood test will be in April, and I have planned it right before the weeklong decadent party in San Antonio we call Fiesta. You see, I plan wisely…the January blood test was taken before my birthday so I could indulge on tacos al pastor at Taco Chelo...so 100% worth the transgression!! XoM
Raspberry Banana Almond Smoothie
- 2/3 cup non-dairy yogurt (I love the soy vanilla yogurt from Silk)
- 2/3 cup almond milk (or of your preference)
- 2/3 cup frozen raspberries
- ripe banana
- 1/4 cup almonds
- 1 T. agave nectar
- 2 tsp. chia seeds
Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.