I’ve decided to shake things up a bit with the blog and incorporate one of my favorite hobbies: cooking and eating. Welcome to the first edition of Recipe Tuesdays.
A Little Background
I love to eat, I love to cook, and I’m a big believer in eating all things in moderation. I think I eat a pretty healthy diet (except for my love of all things dessert). However, after being diagnosed with infertility, diet has become a sensitive topic for me.
On one hand, I know that diet did not cause my infertility and won’t cure it either. There have been some studies that show a link between diet and infertility (the Harvard Nurses Study of 2007) – but all of those studies deal with ovulatory infertility. When it comes to endometriosis, tubal issues, etc, there just isn’t a consensus on the effects of diet on our ability to get pregnant.
On the other hand, I am also aware that our diets do affect our overall health. But where do we draw the line? A few months ago, I made the mistake of googling “endometriosis” and “diet.” When I put everything together, I came away with the following advice: cut out dairy, gluten, red meat, sugar, soy, etc. etc. etc. I am by no means an expert here, and I know that some people may have great results from modifying their diets in this way. But the advice I found was (a) extreme (b) not backed by extensive research (c) often contradictory.
So, I’ve just started winging it and doing what feels right to me. Mostly, I have been trying to cut down on my biggest vice: sugar.
I’ve also been experimenting with Mark Bittman’s VB6 philosophy. If you don’t know who Mark Bittman is, he was a food writer for the New York Times for many years and authored a ton of cookbooks. He hangs out with people like Mario Batali. So, you know this guy knows good food and likes to eat. That’s got to be a promising sign.
VB6 stands for Vegan Before 6:00. The “before 6:00” part is just a suggestion. The main idea is to make 2/3rds of your meals vegan each day. I like it because it’s flexible and doesn’t require you to completely cut out any food groups. It also sticks pretty close to the way Alex and I prefer to eat – we’ve always leaned toward vegetarian cooking, and don’t like to eat meat-heavy meals back to back.
Disclaimer Time: I am a big advocate for eating the way that works best for YOU. I do not think there is a “one size fits all” diet. Aside from avoiding trans fats, limiting sugars, and going light on processed foods, there is no “right” way to eat. I will probably never go gluten or dairy free unless new research pops up suggesting these dietary changes would be right for me. However, for other people, going gluten or dairy free is essential to their health. And, even if you don’t have celiacs or lactose intolerance, I still say: you do you. If you feel better, then go for it. I really think we need to stop judging each other for our dietary choices.
So, how’s this VB6 thing working out for you?
Truth: I have gotten some skeptical reactions from family when I mentioned this whole VB6 thing. However, it’s working out well so far and allows for a lot of wiggle room. I’ve been trying to eat breakfast and lunch vegan, and the rest of my meals however I’d like. I also make sure to include at least one serving of full-fat dairy a day, which studies have shown to be beneficial to women’s health and possibly their fertility. I LOVE dairy (cheese, yogurt, milk, etc) so going partially vegan has been a good thing – I still get plenty of dairy, but don’t overdo it any more. More importantly, this has made me more aware of what I am eating and more creative about snacking. I’ve found I’ve been eating less processed carbs (crackers, cookies, etc) and more whole foods (fruit, chopped vegetables, nuts, edamame, hummus, etc.).
Also: I totally “cheat” some days. My diet over Easter weekend was definitely not VB6 – and that’s a good thing. In my mind, I am going for a big picture change. As long as I feel I am eating healthier overall, it’s okay to deviate sometimes. So, if I have a “cheat” day here and there on the weekend, no worries – it’s life. I am going to enjoy my food, dammit!
A typical VB6 day:
Breakfast: Whole wheat toast with peanut butter / green tea
Lunch: Veggie wrap with red pepper spread, hummus, cucumbers, carrots & radishes.
Snack #1 – Sesame Almonds & Pecans
Snack #2 – Smoothie with frozen fruit (I often “cheat” and put Greek yogurt in there)
Dinner: Roasted Chicken Thighs w/ Veg, potatoes & cous cous
And, finally, a recipe.
This has been my favorite smoothie to make as an afternoon snack. There is no added sugar, but it’s about as close to a chocolate milkshake you can get without adding any ice cream.
Chocolate & Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie
1 frozen banana (I chop up bananas and freeze them in ziploc bags ahead of time)
1 -2 TBSP peanut butter
1/2 cup – 1 cup rice milk (depending on how thick you’d like your smoothie)
1 heaping tablespoon cocoa
Optional: 1/2 cup plain yogurt
Optional: a few ice cubes
Just combine & blend until smooth. Add 1-2 ice cubes if necessary. Pour into a glass & enjoy immediately. I use my immersion blender to make smoothies, since it is super easy to clean. However, you could also use a regular blender.