Health + Wellness

Top Staple Foods For Vegan Newbies

When I became vegan, I did not know what I was doing and I wish I had this list for when I went vegan. So I am making this to help my fellow vegan newbies. These are foods that I have in my house at all times. 
Grains:

Rice, quinoa, amaranth, millet, oats

Proteins:

Beans (preferably dry, canned goods aren’t good for you), lentils

Seeds:

Chia seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds (aka pepitas), sunflower seeds, hemp seeds

Nuts:

Walnuts, pecans, Brazil nuts, cashews, pine nuts, hazel nuts, macadamia nuts 

Spices:

Oregano, basil, thyme, sage, cinnamon, allspice, pink Himalayan sea salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, paprika

Sweeteners:

Pure maple syrup, raw agave nectar, turbinado sugar, dates

Miscellaneous:

Nutritional yeast, vegetable broth, braggs liquid amino acids, 

These are things that I keep in my pantry and on my spice rack and they go great with any recipe. This list will be updated often as I come into more things that I always keep in my pantry. Having these things on hand will make sure that you always have something to eat and make. 

All Black Everything, Health + Wellness

Black Mental Health

I was talking to a friend a couple days ago about something that he was going through and we got on the subject of Black people seeking professional help. What also brought this to my mind is the recent incidents with Kanye West. Now I am not saying that he does or doesn’t have mental issues, because I am not in his inner circle or close to him, but it made me wonder why is it that when Black people profess that they are going through something or that they need help, it is seen as being taboo or they are shunned for it?

Now I have written a post about this topic before, but I wanted to bring it back up. I feel it’s a serious, relevant topic especially given the increased police brutality our community has faced over the past few years. We are still dealing with the aftermath of slavery, which our  great-great grandparents, and so forth, have endured and have passed down these mental illnesses through generations.

Going to a psychiatrist is seen as a white thing and that only white people can have mental illnesses. My thing is with white privilege and white supremacy, there is nothing for them to have issues about. For hundreds of years they have oppressed, raped, mutilated, murdered, etc., a great many people of color. If anything, there should be more people of color seeking professional help. 

In our community, we always get the “I’ll pray for you” or “Stay strong” or “You are man/woman and you have to be strong for you family.” Excuse my language, but that’s bullshit. Praying for me and telling me to stay strong is not going to help me get through what I’m going through. Sometimes we need someone to just listen or be able to just cry to. Often times not being able to have those options, causes us to bottle things up and we lash out in very dangerous ways.

I’ve been to therapy and it was a very traumatic experience for me and I hadn’t gone back. This was about 7 years ago, which is how long I’ve been single. I’ve been thinking of going back and this time to a Black therapist. I went through a lot with my last relationship and I still haven’t recovered from it. When people go through terrible breakups, they carry that baggage and all that hurt with them throughout their relationships that follow.

There are many other things that affect our mental health such as rape, murder, racism, being passed over for a job, unequal pay and our diet. I think that our diet is one of the main factors when it comes to mental health in the Black community, we have been brainwashed and mentally conditioned to believe that the way that we eat is okay because our families have eaten that way for generations. Well truth be told, our grandparents, and those before them, did not have other options or the resources to educate themselves on why this food was killing them or making them ill. That goes back again to slavery. We have not healed from any of that.

As a community we have to seek the help that we need and stop thinking that it’s not okay to be going through something that you can’t handle on your own.

Guest Bloggers, Health + Wellness

A Guide to Living Off Your Own Garden by Joe Thomas

There is a huge growing trend in people wanting to become more self-sufficient, where living off your own garden can provide enormous health and environmental benefits. Give it a try for a cleaner, healthier, more environmentally friendly and cheaper way of living. The following is a beginner’s guide, informing on the benefits, how to get started, and a few tips and tricks to make growing your own food easy!

1

Health and Environmental Benefits

  1. Growing Your Own Food Without Pesticides.

Pesticides are toxic substances used to kill living things. In the garden the most common ones you will come across are herbicides, which kill weeds, and insecticides which eradicate insects.

Over 40 years of research has linked pesticides to a wide range of health problems in adults and children, from temporary issues like nausea and headaches, to long term problems such as ADHD, reproductive difficulties and many forms of cancer. Children are particularly at risk as they are more sensitive to chemicals, plus they often play in areas which have been exposed to pesticides. By using organic methods of gardening and natural forms of pest control, you can negate these issues. This is why it’s important to wash your fruits and veggies you get from the shops!

  1. Exercise Benefits Through Gardening

Gardening entails a wide range of movement and this helps to build muscle and strengthen joints. It is also good for flexibility as you are often extending legs and arms to get to hard to reach areas. As with any form of exercise, to see any real benefits, you need to garden for at least 30 minutes at a time. This will burn calories and in the process help to lower your cholesterol levels; reduce blood pressure; decrease your risk of diabetes; and slow osteoporosis, which is particularly important for women.

Physical exercise also has a positive effect on the mind. It helps to alleviate depression and decrease stress levels. You are also working outside in the fresh air and this too has been shown to strengthen mental health.

  1. Benefits of Eating Fruits and Vegetables

We are all aware we should eat more fruits and vegetables. In the UK we have the ‘5 a Day’ campaign and in the USA dietary guidelines recommend that half your plate should comprise of fresh produce.

Fruits and vegetables are good for us for several reasons. First, they contain dietary fibre and this lowers the incidence of obesity and cardiovascular disease. Second, they contain a wide range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents which combine to keep us healthy and ward off disease.

  1. The Environment

The biggest benefit for the environment, when you live off your garden, is the short distance the food has to travel from where it is grown to your plate. We are all being advised to reduce the ‘food miles’ of the produce we consume and the best ways to do this are to buy locally and eat seasonally. When you rely on the fruits and vegetables you have produced yourself you can only eat in season and it is always local. Furthermore, you will decrease your plastic wastage. Buying from the shop also entails bringing home with you a large quantity of plastic the food is packaged in.

A Beginner’s Guide to Growing Your Own Vegetables

2

Deciding Where to Grow

Vegetables grow best where it is sunny, so choose carefully when you are deciding where to plant. You can always add shade for more delicate crops such as salad and fruit bushes.

The majority of soil found in gardens will suit vegetable growing. However, if your soil is shallow, full of stones or clay rich, which will be cold and wet in winter, build raised beds or plant in large pots.

Dealing with Pests

One advantage of growing your own produce is the avoidance of pesticides and therefore you will want to deal with slugs and snails naturally.

Keep the plot clear of weeds and leaves and put a paved or soil path between beds, so you or the birds can spot pests easily. If you are having particular problems you could always lay down organic slug pellets.

Preparing the Soil

Before you start planting you should turn the soil over and remove weeds, roots and stones. This helps to prevent weeds returning and improves drainage. Some gardens will suffer the blight of perennial weeds and in this case cover the soil with newspaper and add a layer of compost about 5cm in depth.

Getting the Best From Planting

Follow the instructions on the seed packets as closely as possible, especially when you are new to vegetable gardening. Compost can be hugely beneficial to your garden so collect your lawn clippings, organic kitchen waste and anything you prune from the garden.

While you may read to let your ground lie fallow for a period, such as with crop rotation in farming, this isn’t possible in a small space. However, what you can do is grow different crops in a bed in subsequent years.

Easy Fruits and Vegetables to Grow

As a beginner you will want to choose crops which are easy and provide a wide range of nutrients.

Vegetables: Many people start out with courgettes and runner beans as these are particularly easy to grow. Broccoli, kale and spinach are excellent choices nutritionally and varieties of beans can be filling and protein-rich.

Root vegetables: Potatoes can be used in a wide variety of ways in cooking and are easy to store. Beetroot, carrots and onions are also good choices.

Salad: Salad vegetables and herbs are expensive and in the summer most families will consume large amounts of them. Tomatoes, peppers, radishes, cucumbers and spring onions are fast growing and plentiful. Herbs will add flavour to any dish and in the winter months can be grown indoors.

Fruit: Don’t forget about fruit as yields are high and will last through the season. They are easy to freeze and to turn into jams. Apples, pears, cherries, strawberries, blackberries and raspberries are wise choices for beginners.

Extras: It is best to keep in mind what you like to cook with when you are planting.  Garlic and mushrooms provide health benefits and spirulina, although less well known, is a great nutritional addition if you have relatively little space.

A Vegetable Calendar Will Help You Plan

One of the biggest helps to you as you plan your growing cycle will be a vegetable calendar. This tells you exactly the steps you need to take to live off your own garden. Highlighting when you need to plant each vegetable and care instructions until it is time to harvest. For example, if you want to grow radishes it tells you to plant them in the first week of April under cloches and that they will be ready to eat by the end of May. Gooseberries need pruning in the first quarter of the year, mulching in early April, watering in June and are ready for picking in July.

Once you have a plan and start working in your garden, you will soon enjoy the many benefits of living from your own land.

All Black Everything, Health + Wellness

Black Girls Mental Health


I came across this IG page, @blackgirlsmh, and I was blown away that there is a page like that. In the Black community, there is a huge thing about seeking professional help. Growing up we are told that as Black women, we don’t have issues and we are to get over it. Black men from a young age are told by their fathers that hugging past a certain age, men just don’t do. They don’t say I love you to each other and they are not to show emotions.

Black people have suffered for a long time in this country and people wonder why we have problems. Mental health issues in the Black community has been passed down since slavery. I know White people hate when we bring up slavery but we have suffered a lot in this country. When a White person goes in a shoots up a place, they can plead insanity but if it is a Black person, they are in they’re right mind. All that shows is that White people are seen as crazy, not us.

Black people do have mental health problems and because we don’t get help, we lash out in other ways whether it be violence, anger, drugs, alcohol, sex, just like anyone else, though when we do it, it is seen as more extreme. I am here to tell you that it is okay to admit that you need help. It is also okay to seek professional health.

Black women, you are not alone. We all suffer from some sort of mental issue whether it spawned from the past or happened recently. I personally have seen a therapist and though I did not like my therapist because immediately she prescribed antidepressants and I am against medication, that is not to say that it won’t work for you.

If you know you need and are afraid, check out BlackGirlsMH. Another great site to check out is My Black Matters.

Afro Hippie Vegan

Health + Wellness

Simply Vegan: A Guide for Newbies & the Curious

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My book finally came out last Friday and I am excited! I have gotten great feedback and it has been doing well. If you haven’t gotten yours, please do so. It is in the side bar to the right. This book has so much information like recipes, a meal plan, shopping list, staple items, books to read, documentaries to watch, how I went vegan and so much more, in only 90 pages!

This book did not start off as a guide. It started as a recipe book because so many people asked me about recipes. I wanted to do a recipe book but that is information I don’t mind giving away for free. I make videos on YouTube of recipes and I post them on here. I changed my mind about this book because I have done so much research and have a lot of valid, useful information that I wanted to share with people. So I took all that information and past blog posts and put them in one place.

I am working on the contents of the next book that will be coming out in the last quarter of the year. It will be a book specifically for Black people and how they can get their lives together. It will have statistics, what “soul food” really is and so much more. I am in the process of creating an outline right now. This book will have so much information. I really want to help my people.

The book above is for those who have questions about being vegan and how they can stay vegan. It’s the beginning process. The next book will show why Black people should go vegan and why the system is set up against them, and it will all start with slavery.

So if you haven’t gotten this book, do so now before the next one comes out.

Afro Hippie Vegan

Health + Wellness

Health & Wellness Wednesday: School Lunch Program

Many people who live in a low income area, qualify for their child(ren) to have free or reduced lunch. Essentially this saves the parents money, but in the long run, are they really saving money with all of the health problems that will occur? I have seen many kids in the schools that I work at who are as tall as me and twice my size, eating their free lunch and everyone else’s. If parents really knew what these kids were eating and drinking at school, I think they would second guess it. Just because something is free, does not mean that it is good.

In majority white neighborhoods, I have seen that most kids bring their lunch to school (their lunches being no better than the crap they serve in the cafeteria). Mainly it is because these parents have the money to buy enough food for their children to take a lunch to school. I overheard some of the students talking about how the food in the cafeteria isn’t real food and its days old. If an elementary student knows that what the school is serving isn’t real and is detrimental to their health, why can’t parents who have their kids on free or reduced lunch get that?

Most all people who live in low income areas have food stamps and those how have multiple children, get a lot of money. I am not sure why these parents aren’t buying extra food for their children to pack a lunch to take to school. Another problem is the stores that are available in these neighborhoods. They do not have healthy food widely available so I guess the parents figure that they might as well eat at school.

It does not cost a lot of money to buy extra food for children to take their lunch to school. They can even have leftovers from the night before which I have seen quite a few kids have in their lunchboxes. All I am saying is that in these low income neighborhoods, there is no excuse for the parents to not be able to pack their kids lunches.

To my point, the meat the children are being served in the schools is not meat that should be allowed to be fed to anyone. Animals in factory farms who are too decrepit to kill and sell in stores because it is against whatever code, the controllers still want to make a profit off of these animals. So what do they do? They grind up the meat of these sick, diseased, crippled animals and sell the meat to the school lunch programs. That is what your children are eating. I see this everyday. Grey meat, pink meat, meat that doesn’t look like meat, let alone the smell of when I walk into the cafeteria. It smells like the city dump.

Growing up, I was never on free or reduced lunch, thank goodness. At the time, I hated it because I hated the food that my mom would buy. Lunch meat, chips and some kind of sugar cake with a CapriSun. I had to have that everyday. I hated it. Since we had specialty lines in high school (that served shrimp baskets, crawfish baskets, real cheeseburgers, boudain baskets and Red Baron pizza), I usually bought my lunch with my allowance. Most kids aren’t given those choices today.

My point of all of this is that my people who live in low income areas with children, especially my single parents, stop trading in your food stamps for cash. Do better about your situation for your children. Don’t let them eat the remains of lame (crippled, useless, etc.) animals. You wonder why so many kids in low income areas are angry and violent. It isn’t just their home lives or environment; food plays a  part too.

Resources:

http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2008/01/downed-cows-sla.html

http://www.nea.org/home/37485.htm

Health and Wellness,

Afro Hippie Vegan

Guest Bloggers, Health + Wellness

Yoga: Fitness Fad or Fitness Heaven by @matr3moni

Yoga has been trending in the fitness world for a while now. It makes you wonder if it’s really all that people make it out to be, or if it’s just another fitness fad that will fade out for another to replace it. When looking on social media or even when just searching the web, you can find all kinds of information saying that yoga is the best thing since sliced bread for everyone- able bodies and those with injuries. There has been this myth circulating that yoga causes more injury than it does to help injuries. Well I’m here to say, as a disabled bodied, as well as a yogi in training, that this is totally incorrect. It’s always easy to blame an exercise versus the people who do them incorrectly. Today let’s talk about what yoga really is and some of the types that can actually help everyone.

What is Yoga exactly?

Yoga is a very self disciplined Indian ancient practice that focuses primarily on flexibility, breathing, and strength, to help boost your mental and physical welfare. Yoga originated in India over 5,000 years ago, so yoga being a fad is completely FALSE. It has been adopted in not only other countries, but is now one of the most common practiced activities in schools and fitness clubs, as well as in hospitals for post surgical procedures that produce the best results. Yoga is not always just about what you’re doing, but how you’re doing it as well.

What can yoga do for me and my injuries? 

Yoga has been studied and proven to be one of the most effective ways to strengthen the body, improve flexibility and also balance. For those who have injuries like me, it’s extremely beneficial. It helps with high blood pressure, depression, stress, heart disease, aches and pains, just to name a few. The list of benefits can go on. I know it is hard to believe, but it even helps with lower back pain.  Due to the nature of the practice, it allows those who have injuries to adjust poses to their personal comfort, allowing for a better result and less pain from injuries. Many people with injuries feel like they have to get into the gym and workout with hardcore fitness routines, or do water aerobics, in order to become healthy. Although these types of  exercises are great for some, this is really not true. I have talked to many men who have severe injuries who assume yoga is only for women and that absolutely is not true. I have gone into a yoga class where I was the only woman, and they were doing things I knew I  wasn’t going to be able to do. I say that to say, all exercise that helps your injuries so that you can function without hollering out in pain is great, no matter the gender.

My 5 types of yoga and their benefits:

There are so many different types of yoga and they seem to multiply each year. There are basic yoga practices as well as the more intense, but this allows the individual to choose what better suits their needs. Here are my top 5 yoga practices and their benefits:

  1. Ashtanga– is an arrangement of yoga that focuses primarily on connecting breathing techniques with all of the poses. The breathing techniques are designed to center the mind while controlling the flow of breath throughout the body which enhances flexibility and strength. This is strict a practice with poses being done in a continuous and specific order.                                                                                                                      **Some pose names: Standing still, sun salutation, thumb to foot pose, hand to foot pose, extended right triangle pose, resolves right triangle pose, half bound lotus pose                           
  2. Bikram or Hot Yoga– is one of the hottest, and I mean that literally, yoga practices where you practice in heated rooms of 95-100 degrees. If you don’t like to get sweaty, then you just need to skip to the next one. Bikram takes you through 26 poses whereas Hot Yoga can and may be varied in the amount and poses. These classes are very popular because they help with detoxification and they increase flexibility.                                                                                                                                              **Some pose names: Half moon pose, awkward pose, standing bow pose, standing head to knee pose, eagle pose, balancing pose, tree pose, toe standing pose, dead body pose                                                                                                                                           
  3. Hatha– is what I usually advise beginners to start off with in order to learn not only your bodies but also to get the hang of poses. Hatha is a “How to” type of yoga. This allows those practicing to learn the movements and basic postures. You get to choose the pace and style according to where you are and what injuries you need to cater to. If you are wanting to be a yogi or just beginning yoga, this is the perfect place for you to start.                                                                                                                                           **Some pose names: mountain pose, tree pose, downward facing dog pose, warrior pose, bridge pose, bound angle pose, easy pose, seated twist pose, staff pose                                                                                                                                           
  4. Vinyasa– is very similar to Ashtanga and Hastha but it centralizes poses around the sun salutation while also synchronizing  your breath to match the 12 poses. It can also be called the “arranging something in a special way” yoga. This type of yoga is great for beginners and the more advanced alike. Vinyasa strengths the core while connecting movements with your breathing. At the end of each class you do savasana, the final relaxation pose.                                                                                      **Some pose namescat-cow pose, crow pose, plank pose, 4-limbed staff pose, upward facing dog pose, downward facing dog pose 
  5. Restorative– is the most relaxing and soothing type of yoga.  Restorative is the absolute best yoga practice for those who have injuries. With at least 5 poses per class, you are able to completely relax you body. This type of yoga is better than a power nap and is also referred to as Yin yoga. Restorative is the best psychological  cleansing.                                                                                                                                   **Some pose names: corpse pose, child’s pose, adepts pose,                                                    

These are only my top five types of yoga that can help ease those who have injuries into become actively fit again. I know it can become hard at times especially when it comes to joint issues but you can still push through and make your injuries and/or conditions much better. The better you feel the more you’ll want to do. There is so much information on yoga especially on Youtube. At first yoga seemed like a fitness fad until I dove deeper into it, but now it is most definitely a fitness heaven for all, young and old. There is nothing like working on your body, mind and soul, all at one time. Yoga is no fitness fad but definitely fitness heaven for all. Make this the year you get out and try to become healthy, even if it’s not yoga. Get up, get out and do something-it may very well change your entire life.

Helpful yoga links:

mindbodygreen.com

breakingmuscle.com

pinterest.com

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