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Healthy and plant-based on a budget! (Yes, it’s possible!)

One of the main things I get asked from people when talking about healthy, plant-based eating, or eating clean, is how to do it on a budget. When I hear people say that their shopping bill has taken a knock since they went vegan, I wonder where and what they are buying. I have spoken to friends who were once meat-eaters and who now eat wholly plant-based, and they all agree with me that swapping the beef for the beans has resulted in a shrinking grocery budget.

When my hubby, Rich, left his salary just over a year ago to start his own business, the budget was tight and we had to make some personal budget cuts.  Yet, we managed to halve our food budget! And we managed to do it without sacrificing our health. Of course, we could have loaded up on bread and peanut butter, noodles chips, but our goal was to still cook well-balanced and nutritious meals – that’s the goal, surely – without overspending.

If your goal is to be healthy and happy without breaking the bank each month, take a look at what I’ve tried and tested with my own family:

Go Plant-Based

If going plant-based is something you haven’t fully put into practice yet, I suggest taking the plunge! With the World Health Organisation declaring processed meat as a carcinogenic and red meat in general possibly causing cancer, it seems then that eating meat may result in high medical bills later down the line. To avoid spending your money on going to the doctor and on medication, you can reduce that risk by choosing to eat more plants! According to this study eating a plant-based diet may be a simple, low-cost intervention to preventing heart disease. And there are many more studies that are continuing to prove a plant-based diet can help reverse diseases like obesity, high blood pressure, types of cancer, type-2 diabetes and arthritis.

Buy in Bulk for your Base

If you fear to eat the same thing every day – I know I like to switch things up – I suggest purchasing three different packages of different “bulk bases” which you can rotate over a few weeks and form the base of your meals. Find your nearest bulk food store or the bulk food section at your supermarket for cheaper bags of beans, pasta, flours and grains like rice, oats, barley and cous cous. Also look for starchy root vegetables, like potatoes and sweet potatoes which are not only cheap and filling but also very nourishing. Be sure to rotate your bases too so the nutrition you get varies.

Buy Seasonally & Frozen

Check out your seasonal food guide (based on where you live in the world) as a planning guide so that you can shop seasonally. It’s cheaper and tastier! If possible, going to a farmer’s market and buying directly from the grower is more cost-effective. Additionally, frozen produce can be cheaper than fresh – I know this can’t be done with all fruit and veg, but doing it here and there can make a huge difference. These fruit and veg are flash-frozen just hours after they have been harvested so one could argue that they are more nutritious than fresh produce. For an economical meal, I like to make a soup by adding frozen veggies, veg stock, spices and some legumes like lentils (which I sometimes buy dried and then soak and boil myself).

Planning on a Full Stomach

Plan your weekly snacks and meals ahead of time (a bit of a hack on a glorious Sunday afternoon, but well worth the 10 minutes of your time!). This results in less waste and unnecessary purchases when you’re in the supermarket. Also, just don’t go shopping when you’re hungry… It is much easier to resist those just-in-case items when you’re not thinking about when you’re going to get your next bite to eat!

Special Occasions and Deals

Vegan meat alternatives, like Fry’s, obviously don’t cost the same as a bag of dried chickpeas, but sometimes you may be craving such foods or want something quick and easy to make. Often Pick n Pay, Checkers, Shoprite and Spar run special promotions so can you work them into your budget. These stores run deals like buy-one-get-one-free or bulk pack specials which is always a good time to stock up the freezer. When comparing meat alternatives to actual meat, you will find that the prices are competitively priced, sometimes with meat being double the cost! Next time you’re at the grocery store, compare the prices and you will be surprised!

Get Cooking

Cooking from scratch can save you heaps.  It also doesn’t need to take hours of your time – especially if you’ve planned what you’re going to cook. I cook everything we eat for my family and we rarely eat out. Eating out should be a very occasional treat or avoided altogether if you’re on a budget. When I prepare my meals, I always cook in large batches and freeze the leftovers. And if I see some produce starting to look a bit worse for wear, I either cook them that day or freeze them immediately.

Some of my favourite recipes to make for the family include:

All of these recipes can be made in bulk with frozen vegetables, a few spices and a cheap grain or starch as the base. Swapping your meat with one pack of Fry’s (like the Mince or Strips) is economical and sustainable and makes the cooking process really simple!

Eating on vegan on a budget with Fry's

Those “Peanuts and Red Bull” Purchases

Petrol stations can wreak havoc with your food budget – ask us, we know!  When Rich and I first got together, we just couldn’t seem to save money.  We spent one month keeping the slips from every purchase we had made.  We found the problem – “peanuts & Red Bull”! We now have our own personal budget item called “the peanuts and Red Bull” expense, which is for those last-minute, unexpected, must-have items that all of us get sucked into buying at some point in the month.

Grow What You Can

We may not all have the space to grow our food, but with a windowsill and some TLC, you can grow things like herbs, peppers, radishes, lettuce and kale. Start small and add more pots when you feel ready. It may feel like an effort initially, but once you get the ball rolling, there is nothing quite like picking your own homegrown produce!

Some Parting Thoughts

Of course, we need to remember that there is always an uphill battle we have to fight. In David Simon’s Book “Metanomics”, he discusses the complex economic forces behind the production of meat, fish, eggs, and dairy, and how the decisions around what we think we choose to eat are made by the animal food producers who control our buying choices with artificially-low prices, misleading messaging, and heavy control over lobbying, legislation and regulation. So while we are told to increase our fruit and veggie intake, more than half of agriculture subsidies directly or indirectly support the meat and dairy production with less than one percent benefiting fruit and veg producers, as reported by The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

If it seems like the cost of eating a plant-based diet will never decrease, I understand your frustrations but each one of us can make a difference! Keep voting with your fork, join and support vegan advocacy organisations, and share the health and economic benefits of a plant-based diet with those around you. Every person can make a difference!

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Choose heart smart: Improve your heart health in ten steps

By Dr Paul Palmer – Plant-Based Nutrition Consultant and Musculoskeletal Occupation Health Specialist

Have a change of heart this Heart Awareness Month by making small but significant adjustments to your overall lifestyle to reduce your risk of heart-related diseases and improve your overall heart health. 

Remember when doctors prescribed “healthy” cigarettes and smoking as something that was “good for you”? Luckily, much has changed over the last few decades. Preventative care is fast becoming an approach to health for many people. Yet heart disease – which can be prevented – is still one of the leading causes of death in South Africa.

Once thought to only be a disease for the elderly, more than half of heart-related deaths now affect people under the age of 65 years, while over 17 million people die every year from cardiovascular disease, according to the American Heart Association and the World Health Organization. It’s a staggering number when one considers that 80% of these premature deaths can be prevented by eating better, moving more and avoiding smoking.

As this month is Heart Awareness Month in South Africa, and with World Heart Day falling on the 29th of September, I encourage you to make a few changes to your diet and lifestyle that will increase your longevity and improve your overall happiness!

So for this month, I ask you to take the pledge to commit to your heart by going plant-based!

Why plant-based? By choosing to go meat-free, you reduce the amount of saturated fat and cholesterol, the leading cause of an increased risk of heart disease.

Are you ready to make heart-smart choices? Here are my top ten tips on how to get wholeheartedly healthy!

  1. Eliminate Saturated Fats with Plants

Overwhelming scientific evidence links the consumption of meat and animal products to numerous diseases. According to medical experts at the American Heart Association (AHA), eating saturated fat increases the amount of cholesterol present in the blood which results in an increased risk for heart disease and stroke (1). By replacing animal foods and highly refined carbs with whole plant foods is a proven way to lower cholesterol and reduce the risk of heart disease.

  1. Eat Fruit and Veg to Instantly Boost Your Fibre Intake and Lower Your Cholesterol

A well-rounded diet should be abundant with veggies, leafy greens, legumes, beans, nuts, whole grains and fruit. These foods are rich in dietary fibre which helps to lower LDL cholesterol (AKA “bad cholesterol”). Fibre interacts with the bad cholesterol in your digestive tract and helps to remove it quickly from the body, decreasing the amount of LDL cholesterol absorbed.

Dr Michael Greger M.D. FACLM states that 97% of Americans are deficient in fibre (2). On average, we get only about 15 grams a day. The minimum daily requirement is 31.5 – so we get less than half of the minimum! The question shouldn’t be “Where do you get your protein?” but rather “Where do you get your fibre?” Low blood cholesterol levels can be achieved by replacing animal protein with plant protein like legumes, soy and oats, and with monounsaturated or polyunsaturated fats found in avocados, nuts and seeds.

  1. Take Your Omegas but Cut Out the Middle Fish

Essential omega fats are important for a healthy heart, reducing the risk of diabetes and helping to support normal cholesterol levels. They are called “essential” because our bodies cannot make them and as such, we need to get them from our food. And we don’t need fish to help us out. Plant-based sources of omega 6’s include hemp seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts and soya-based foods. Get your omega 3’s in the form of chia, hemp and flax seeds.

  1. Use Heart-Smart Alternatives when Cooking

Too much oil in one’s diet is not as heart-healthy as the media likes to suggest. According to physician and nutrition expert, Dr John McDougall, MD, foods rich in monounsaturated fats like olive oil may be healthier than foods rich in saturated and trans-fats like animal protein, but just because something is “healthier” does not mean it is good for you (3). Pouring oil over your food means you’re consuming a lot of fat. And eating a lot of fat, including “healthier” ones, means you’re eating a lot of calories, causing weight gain, and leading to an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, stroke, cancer and heart disease.

When cooking at home consider using a Philips Airfryer instead of a deep fryer, stove or even the oven! An Airfryer is a nifty kitchen appliance that uses hot air to cook, roast and bake food with minimal to no oil, thereby eliminating saturated and hydrogenated fat, without compromising on texture or taste.

  1. Eat the Rainbow for a Nutritional Boost

A plant-based diet is rich in a host of nutrients that are heart-protective. Eat the rainbow and consume a colourful array of fruit and veggies that are rich in antioxidants, plant sterols, phytochemicals, iron and potassium, all thought to reduce the risk of heart disease. And if you crave meat, opt for one of Fry’s meat replacement products, such as the Chicken-Style Burger (my personal favourite) or the Golden Crumbed Schnitzels.

  1. Eat More Soy-Based Foods

Soy ahoy! Soy plays a role in keeping your heart healthy as the protein found in soybeans has been shown to reduce blood cholesterol levels. According to a study, soybeans contain additional components, such as isoflavones, lecithins, saponins and fibre that may be beneficial to cardiovascular health by improving blood pressure, glycemic control, obesity, and inflammation (4). Got Nuggets?

  1. Increase Your Cardiovascular Fitness

Any movement is better than sitting still when it comes to improving your heart health. Increase your cardiovascular fitness by running, cycling, circuit training or with high-intensity interval training. These kinds of exercises cause the blood to pump much harder which forces the arterial wall to stretch, improving the elasticity of the arteries. Alternate between intensity and between upper and lower body exercises with minimal rest periods for maximum results.

  1. Strength Training for a Strong Heart

Weight training is as important for building muscle mass as it is for building a strong heart. After all, your heart is a muscle! Lifting weights or using your own bodyweight is effective in burning fat, improving bone health and strengthening your heart. Yoga is also great for strength and muscle toning. Different styles of yoga like Ashtanga or Power Vinyasa keeps your heart elevated throughout the class, giving you a combined strength and cardio workout!

  1. Reduce Smoking

The chemicals in tobacco smoke harm your blood cells, the function of your heart, and the structure and function of your blood vessels. This damage increases your risk of atherosclerosis and coronary heart disease, leading to raised blood pressure, chest pain, heart attack, heart failure, arrhythmias, and death. Quitting smoking and avoiding secondhand smoke can help reverse heart and blood vessel damage and reduce heart disease risk.

  1. Cook for your Heart with Your Heart

By eating a plant-based diet, or reducing your meat consumption, you are not only eating a diet that is good for your heart, but it also means you are making a powerful ethical statement. By avoiding animal-based products from your diet, you withdraw support from cruelty to animals. Choosing to back the production of cruelty-free foods means you are not only cooking for your heart, but also with your heart.

Take a moment each day to take some deep breaths, acknowledge what you have in your life and to create positive affirmations. Slowing down and taking moments to be grateful have been linked with better health, greater well-being and longer, happier life!

If you know of someone who you think may benefit from reading this article or who suffers from a heart-related disease, please share it with them! It may just save their life!

Download the Fry’s Love Your Heart Cookbook that is filled with heart-smart and heart-loving recipes and enter the Love Your Heart Competition to stand a chance to win a Fry’s food hamper and 1 of 50 Philips Air Fryers, all to the value of R3000! Follow us on Facebook to enter. For competition details, click here.

References

(1): http://www.everydayhealth.com/high-cholesterol/diet/8-ways-plant-based-diet-protects-your-heart/

(2): https://nutritionfacts.org/2015/09/29/where-do-you-get-your-fiber/

(3): https://www.drmcdougall.com/misc/2007nl/aug/oils.htm

(4): www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/9/4/324/pdf

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Inspiring change this Women’s Month

This month is Women’s Month and we are celebrating all women! With National Women’s Day falling on the 9th, we are celebrating the achievements and spirit of women throughout the month of August. Get to know the incredible women behind The Fry Family Food Co, Debbie, Tammy, Hayley and Stacey.

Debbie Fry

DEBBIE

What was your dream job as a kid and why?

I always dreamed of living on a farm and working with animals – I love the open spaces and just couldn’t see myself fitting into a corporate world.

Which woman inspires you and why?

Thuli Madonsela – she lived through the struggle in South Africa, educated herself and then stood up for the people by not being afraid to tell the truth.

What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?

I personally think this is one of the most challenging times for women in the world! A time when roles are changing and blending in more with men’s roles – a very different world to the one our grandparents grew up in.

What would you say to your 15-year old self?

I am proud of myself that in a time when there were few vegetarians/ vegans and coming from a “meat-eating” family that I never waived from my meat-free diet.

What message would you like to share with women this Women’s Month?

Love yourself, be proud of who you are and take time out to enjoy quality “me” time.

TAMMY

What was your dream job as a kid and why?

When I was 5, I wanted to be just like my mom. I thought she was amazing!

Which woman inspires you and why?

The truth is that all women inspire me. I have met so many incredible women and it never ceases to amaze me how many beautiful qualities women have. My mother played an integral role in my life, as did my sisters, my “grannies”, my amazing friends, people I have met along my life journey.

What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?

To fight the corporate world and the propaganda, to expose the truth of big industry, to fight hard for what’s right, and then to go back to being women again. To be so tough and then so soft – this will be challenging!

In your opinion, how do the principles of equal women’s and men’s rights align with vegan principles?

It’s about equality and respect. Men and women should be treated as equals, as should every creature that walks the earth. It’s about living a value-led and principled existence and standing up for what’s right. Human rights and animal rights are both rights!

What would you say to your 15-year old self?

Love and accept yourself for who you are – you are the perfect you.

What message would you like to share with women this Women’s Month?

Find yourself a woman mentor that is older than 85 and ask her for advice. Her wisdom may astound you.

The answer I got:

Indulge in the things that are the most important to you. Don’t strive for success, strive for happiness. Forget the to-do list and make a to-don’t-do list instead. Spend an extra 5 minutes every night cuddling your kids.

I am working on applying these to my life!

What inspired you to start the self-defense and functional fitness program, Tough Love?

This poem:

“She is a woman, she is mother, a daughter, a wife, a sister. She is a person, she is strong, smart, crafty, passionate and generous. Cooking barefoot is one of several superpowers. She is action, emotion, devotion. She has hope, beauty, power, she has a brain and she knows how to use it. She gives you life, she gives you respect, love, gratitude, she believes in you. She will nurture you and fight for you. She deserves nothing less from you.”

My motto is – “if you can, you should!” – I know I can help women in South Africa by empowering them with self-defense skills and so I try my best to do this.

HAYLEY

What was your dream job as a kid and why?

Anything to do with serving people, I have always loved looking after and nurturing people, I am not sure why it is – just who I am I guess.

Which woman inspires you and why?

No one woman, in particular, I am inspired by women who are fearless in living their personal truths. The ones that know who they are and are not afraid to own it. Women of today have great pressure to be perfect… the perfect mother, always present and patient; career-driven, while also maintaining a perfect home, and let’s not forget the perfect body, a good sense of style, and last but not least a good social media presence! I am inspired by the ones who don’t pretend to get it all right, the ones who are clear on their priorities and work hard to maintain those.

What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?

I guess similar challenges to my generation… maintaining balance and choosing what is important to them rather than striving for it all. Defining their concept of success (not society’s idea of success) and then working towards that.

What would you say to your 15-year old self?

Do not follow societal norms, follow your heart, do not do what is expected of you but rather what truly resonates with you, scares you and excites you. Think clearly about what success looks like to you. This is easy to say now – but I doubt my 15-year-old self would have listened. Some things you can only learn with time and living.

What message would you like to share with women this Women’s Month?

Support one another in a real and authentic way; share your hardship stories openly so that you may give people the gift of learning from your experience; be vulnerable, this allows people to connect with you on a deeper level; learn to be with yourself and listen to your heart – meditation is a great way to achieve this. Find joy, by noticing the things around you, the sunset, the warm sun in winter, your daily cup of coffee, a stranger’s smile, all of it! Have fun, having fun keeps us alive too much adulting does not!

STACEY

What was your dream job as a kid and why?

Growing up I always wanted to be a vet because I absolutely loved animals and could think of nothing better than working with them all day.

What will be the biggest challenge for the generation of women behind you?

I feel like communication would be a big challenge for the younger generation as technology and social media have taken over. I often see a group of teenage girls out at dinner and they are all on their cellphones. I think we need to focus on human interaction and face to face communication as nothing beats this.

What would you say to your 15-year old self?

I would say, don’t stress about the small things. There are so many obstacles that you have to overcome throughout your lifetime so just take it one day at a time. Tomorrow is a new day.

What message would you like to share with women this Women’s Month?

Be bold and humble. Do not be ashamed of what you stand for and what you believe in.

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Fry’s and well I am 6:12 weeks and life-long change!

It’s time for well I am 6!

I’m Lisa Raleigh, and I’ve been working in wellness for over 15 years now. In 2011, I decided to create a wellness challenge – with a difference!

I love the era of fitness challenges we have been growing for the last decade, and have always wanted to create a community of health that inspired individuals to THRIVE. Challenges are such a team effort, and the power of motivation, incentives, specific goals and TEAM SPIRIT does wonders for one’s health and fitness!

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The idea behind well I am is to keep things realistic. Well I am is accessible, online, flexible, balanced, holistic and long-term. No quick fixes, unsustainable habits or restrictions here! Well I am is a way of life that serves you beyond the challenge’s start and end date.

When you sign up to our challenge, the R499 entry fee earns you: a wellness kit, two health screenings at Dis-Chem, weekly training programmes from our coaches, a choice of weekly nutritional plans from certified dietitians, an exclusive online community that offers incredible support daily and free wellness events held around SA! there is a life-changing R20 000 cash AND additional prizes for 4 of our winners (Transformation and Physique), as well as great incentives for our runners-up. Well I am doesn’t conflict with any existing fitness challenges – online or other. So you can enjoy being on other challenges at the same time – and double your chances of winning!

Well I am 6 starts 5th September (just in time for summer prep!) and we are so honoured to have Fry’s Family Foods on board! Sponsors play such a valuable role in what well I am offers the public, and brands that reinforce the message of holistic, long-term health – not just results – are what make well I am so special. With Fry’s joining the family, we’re excited to be offering more plant-based meal inspiration, tips for eating clean and consciously, and – of course – plenty of incentives along the way!

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While there’s no denying the value of a life-changing cash prize, I want to emphasize the real gain that well I am offers – healthy foundations that will last a lifetime. Health is our real wealth – realistically, we have nothing without it! Exercise and nutritious foods are the leading preventers of chronic disease and yet are so often underestimated and under-utilised. Together with Fry’s, we want to encourage people to start THRIVING, not just surviving. That means relishing delicious, healthy meals, enjoying action-packed activities as part of a lifestyle, not just necessity, and really pushing our bodies to reach the healthy potential they are designed for.

Ready to change? Have a look at well i am online for more on what we offer.

Follow well i am now on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!

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Love plants, love yourself

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by Wilma Tarr, Plant-Based Cook, Nature Lover

Living in a world where our priorities are unbalanced we often neglect our health and especially our diet. There are so many factors at play, not least the role of stress, eating junk food, careless substance use and chasing the skinny ideal. We use unhealthy shortcuts and chemically-laden products to clear up bad skin and add shine to our hair, we medicate symptoms and we simply ignore the tell-tale signs that reveal the truth about our health! We eat food that advertisers tell us are ‘healthy’ without questioning their motives.

This lifestyle leads to health problems and frustration over the general condition of our bodies, taking us down a dangerous path of illness and destruction.

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True health means feeling energetic, balanced and vibrant on the inside, while seeing the positive external changes as well.  Following a balanced plant-based diet, exercising, spending time in nature, getting adequate sleep and staying hydrated are all extremely beneficial for overall health and well-being.  In addition to good nutrition and dramatically reducing your risk of a broad spectrum of diseases (including cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes), following a plant-based diet also provides many physical benefits. You will truly enjoy the immense health benefits and see positive external changes as well.

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A balanced plant-based diet provides all the nutrients your body needs, ensuring that your nails, hair and skin always look their best. Because of the high water content of a plant-based diet, it will supply your body with constant fluids, keeping your skin hydrated, smooth and healthy.

Whole grains, fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes and beans contain antioxidants and phytonutrients from real, whole, plant-based foods which are anti-inflammatory and filled with fibre. The mixture of proteins from grains, legumes, Fry’s, vegetables, nuts and seeds (nutritional powerhouses), provide a complement of amino acids and antioxidants. These have been shown to promote hair growth, healthy hair and skin.

This diet is not only rich in vitamins, minerals and nutrients essential for health, wellness and beauty, but it is also alkalising, delicious and a powerful medicine that we all have access to every time we eat.

If you have a hard time eating greens, include them in smoothies and juices that the whole family will enjoy. Fresh juices like carrot, celery, apple and cucumber will deliver hydration and skin-nourishing vitamins and minerals. Include avocados and bananas in your smoothies for extra benefits and a supply of healthy fats for glowing skin. Variety keeps things interesting and there are infinite and oh so many delicious recipes and ideas available!

You will find that by adopting this lifestyle and making smarter, educated choices, you can eat delicious meals that are healthy and nutrient-dense, providing everything you need to feel healthy and look your best.

Wilma is a nature lover, plant-based cook, keen photographer and mother of two teenage boys. She has always loved expressing herself in a creative way not just through cooking but also through styling, writing and photography. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram to find our more about Living a Vegan Life in South Africa.