Podcast With Paul Jarvis – Eating a Plant-Based Diet, How to Make Your Own Almond Milk and More

Paul Jarvis - Eat AwesomePaul Jarvis is a website designer, yogi, minimalist and touring musician. Paul and his wife live in my hometown of Victoria, British Columbia.

He believes veganism is love – and anyone who tells you otherwise can be kicked in the junk! Paul is also the author of Eat Awesome – A regular person’s guide to plant-based, whole foods.

Paul’s email list is the best way to stay in touch and find out about recipes, plant-based eating tips and a bunch of other stuff – sign up here.

In this podcast, we talk about:

  • How and why Paul became a vegan.
  • The positive health changes Paul has noticed since eating a plant-based diet.
  • Challenges being a vegan including cravings, meal planning, shopping and more.
  • How the idea to write “Eat Awesome” came about.
  • Getting enough protein, calcium and vitamin B12 eating a plant-based diet.
  • How to make your own almond milk and save money during the process.
  • Paul’s must-have kitchen tools.
  • Plant-powered elite athletes like Rich Roll and Brendan Brazier.
  • His favourite resources for recipes and finding vegan-friendly restaurants.
  • Advice for others looking to adopt a more plant-based diet.

You can listen or subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here.

You can also listen to the podcast on Stitcher Radio or by clicking here to listen now.

Items mentioned in this podcast:

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Thanks for listening!

Full Transcription

Mark:  Hey, everybody. Welcome to another Healthynomics podcast. Today I’m very excited to be chatting with Paul Jarvis. Paul is a website designer, yogi, minimalist, and a touring musician. Paul and his wife live in my hometown of Victoria, British Columbia. Apparently, they’ve also got a llama named Starman who lives on a rescue sanctuary in Washington state. Paul believes veganism is love, and anyone who tells you otherwise can be kicked in the junk. Paul is also the author of “Eat Awesome: A Regular Person’s Guide to Plant-based Whole Foods.” Paul, I’d like to welcome you, and thanks so much for your time.Paul:  Thank you very much, Mark. Glad to be on the show, and hello everybody.

Mark:  That’s great. So, let’s get the ball rolling, why don’t you just give us a bit more background on you, who you are, where you’re from, and what you do.

Paul:  Sure. I grew up in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and I moved to the West Coast probably about 15, 16 years now. And just been basically living the dream. I lived in Tofino with my wife for about four years. We just surfed and that sort of thing, and along the way, I kind of picked up veganism and that kind of has stuck, and I really have gotten into getting to the roots of making everything. So, the basic ingredients, using whole foods, and that sort of thing.

And living in Tofino, there’s not really an option for vegans to go out and eat in lots of places or to get vegan dirty food, as I like to call it. You can’t go out and find the tofu dogs or the fake hamburgers or anything. You basically have to make all your food at home from whole ingredients to be a vegan in Tofino. But it’s good, because it really got me interested in that and really kind of tweaking how I ate.

Mark:  Very cool. So let’s go back. How long have you been a vegan and what made you do the switch?

Paul:  Sure. I’ve actually kind of had allergies with dairy and meat my whole life, so I haven’t really… But I mean I still was eating some chicken and some fish and that sort of thing. And then my wife introduced me to vegetarianism, and kind of on I think it was a new year’s resolution, I was just like, “Okay. I think I can go a year without eating meat.”

And I did that, and I ended up feeling a lot better and having a lot more energy, so it kind of stuck. I think that was probably about five or six or seven, maybe, years. It was a while ago, and it just kind of stuck. And as I’ve been getting into whole foods and tweaking that sort of thing, I really find that I can positively affect the energy I have based on what I eat.

Mark:  From a health perspective, you mentioned energy levels. What else have you noticed that’s benefited from your change in diet?

Paul:  Sure. I don’t get sick as often. I was getting a cold maybe three or four times a year, and I think that’s fairly typical of the Western world and people in it. And now maybe once a year I get sick, and I can use Tofino as an example — when somebody gets sick in Tofino, everybody gets sick in Tofino.

So, you kind of see the life cycle of viruses, like colds and flus, and this last season was a doozy. People were out sick for a month. My wife and I got sick as well, but we were only sick for like a day or two basically, and then we kind of felt better.

And I really think that has to do with clean eating and not having things that cause inflammation. Both of us don’t eat gluten either, and I really noticed a huge difference when I stopped eating gluten. First of all, I didn’t realize that my hands were swollen all the time, because I thought that that was just the way my hands looked…

Mark:  You thought you had fat fingers!

Paul:  Yeah, exactly. My joints would ache a lot, and since I stopped eating wheat probably three years ago, it’s made such a difference in terms of inflammation and mucus production. In the winter, I’d get pretty snotty. And giving up wheat is why, wheat has nothing to do with veganism, but that was a huge thing for me was as soon as I cut out wheat and I let my body detox from wheat, it started to be a lot better on me.

Mark:  So you mentioned inflammation. I guess a lot of people may not understand. Their understanding of inflammation is like when you sprain your ankle and your ankle swells up. What do you mean by inflammation, and why are you trying to minimize that effect in your body with your diet?

Paul:  One of the things was that, like you said, the fat thing, because I had fat fingers, and I thought that was normal, and just basically swelling in my body, like distended gut and had kind of a beer belly. I don’t even drink.

So, stopping eating wheat, my stomach flattened out, which is a good side effect I think. But as well, there’s also inflammation in your gastrointestinal tract, and you can kind of – it gets a little personal – but you can eliminate waste a lot faster if there’s less blockage.
It’s like people are always talking about high fiber diets, and that’s a good thing, but if you eliminate things like wheat and things that cause inflammation there, it allows stuff to move quickly through it.

And I mean there’s a running joke, vegans always like to talk about pooping, because it’s a lot easier when you’re vegan. And if you don’t eat things like wheat or dairy that really builds stuff up, you eliminate things quicker. And then obviously your body likes it when you can eliminate things quicker and you feel better, because you’re basically becoming more efficient.

Mark:  Yeah, your whole system is just being allowed to act how it’s supposed to be acting.

Paul:  Yeah.

Mark:  And what about your surfing? Have you noticed any improvements in any athletic endeavors or any other sporting activities you do?

Paul:  Definitely. And it’s totally unscientific, but I call it my wheat haze. When I would eat gluten — and I mean I probably have some intolerance to it, I’m definitely not celiac, because I didn’t have huge reactions, but I didn’t realize that I reacted to wheat until I stopped eating it. Now, when I have a piece of bread or a pizza that’s not a gluten-free pizza, I really, really notice it.

It took a detox diet of basically eliminating anything that could cause reaction in my body for about a month, and then slowly reintroducing things and seeing how it reacts, because your body is pretty resilient, so it builds up tolerances to things it might be intolerant of.

But the wheat haze is basically whenever I eat wheat, I don’t get like drunk, but I feel like I have a screen on my brain. With physical activity now, like with my yoga practice, I can concentrate that much better if my diet is totally clean. Or if I’m surfing, I can pay attention to what the waves in the water and the other surfers or doing. Or if I’m biking, I can bike for longer. It’s just small things like that I really like.

Brendan Brazier’s a good example of someone who’s kind of applied scientific experiment to diet and specifically in his case, to a plant-based diet. So he’s a hardcore athlete, super endurance guy, and he’s played with his diet to affect his physical results in what he does.

I really like that, and it really appeals to me to be able to tweak the fuel that goes in your body and see what the performance is once you do that. It’s really neat and interesting. I mean I’m not a scientist or a nutritionist or anything like that, it’s just good fun.

Mark:  But absolutely. And what better testing ground than yourself, I mean no one knows you better than you, right? And for those who don’t know, Brendan Brazier is a – is he an ultra-endurance athlete, and he’s on a plant-based diet or is he a vegan completely?

Paul:  Yeah, he’s vegan. He’s mostly raw as well. I’d suggest [“Thrive Diet”] – I think that’s the name of his book. I’m pretty sure it’s “Thrive Diet.” The first half of his book is talking about what he’s done to get where he’s at in terms of tweaking his diet and the sports-related stuff that he does, and how the energy affects the output. And then the last half of the book is just good recipes, and they’re all pretty simple too, kind of like in my book, you wrap them in just kind of very easy to follow recipes.

So that’s a great book for anybody who’s interested in the athletic side of tweaking your diet and getting more plant-based and eliminating things like dairy and gluten and that sort of thing.

Mark:  Yeah, I’ll definitely put a link to that in the post. Have you read Rich Roll’s book?

Paul:  No.

Mark:  “Finding Ultra.” Anyway, he’s an ultra-endurance athlete vegan as well. If you haven’t checked it out, I really recommend that book. Basically, he was a competitive or a collegiate swimmer at Stanford. Very good, and then went into the corporate world, became a lawyer, etc.

Actually he was an alcoholic for a while, and once he dealt with that, he was looking to make some big changes, and he did that with his diet and that sort of resulted in him wanting to get fitter again, and then he competed in the Ultra Iron Man, I believe was the race. Anyway, check out the book if you get a chance.

Paul:  Cool.

Mark:  It is called “Finding Ultra.” That brings another book to mind actually. Have you read “Wheat Belly”?

Paul:  No, but I’ve seen that before, and I laugh at it, because it’s kind of the way I talk about it as well.

Mark:  I haven’t read it either, but I know it’s very, very popular, so I was just curious to see if you had read that yet. But yeah, it sounds like some of the same sort of issues with wheat that you’re talking about.

Paul:  Yeah. And I think a lot of people – because wheat is so, not to get into the primal diet or any of that stuff, but wheat is fairly new for humans as a species. It’s so processed. Sorry, I’m talking to another Canadian, I can say processed. But it’s such a processed thing that our bodies don’t think can handle it as well as they can things like fruits and vegetables that we’ve been eating as a species for millennia.

It’s interesting too. I’m a big advocate of trying and seeing, like doing an elimination diet is a great way to see what your body negatively reacts to, because you might not know. Like you might not know that you have issues with wheat and gluten, but it’s attacking your body, because your body is working that much harder to process it.

Mark:  Exactly. So, have you had any sort of major challenges with being a vegan? I guess challenges come to mind with regards to – you mentioned shopping and availability of food, especially in Tofino for a vegan – but anything with regards to shopping or cravings or meal planning. Any specific challenges that come to mind?

Paul:  Yeah. There’s a couple points there. The first is that it’s really easy if you just eat whole foods. It’s really easy to grocery shop and basically you stick to the side walls usually at the grocery store. It’s really easy to eat whole foods, and a lot of what I eat is fresh produce, and then I buy a lot of my grains and my nuts and seeds in bulk, and I save a ton of money by doing that, especially in places like Tofino.

The Internet’s great. I order all of my nuts from a place in the interior BC probably once every two months. I eat a lot of nuts and seeds, but I do bulk orders, and it costs maybe 15 bucks in shipping, and I get 60 to 70% off of what I would pay in the store for organic raw nuts and seeds.

So, things like that. There’s ways to do that, and in the summer in Tofino and in a lot of places, there’s farmer’s markets, there’s food coops and that sort of thing. So, at home, eating whole food – so easy to do.

Traveling is a different matter, and eating out is a different matter. And traveling, it just requires a bit of pre-planning. My wife and I are on the road a lot. We do a lot of road trips. So it just requires a bit of timing Google, looking to see what vegan restaurants and options there are where you’re traveling.

And a lot of times we’re surprised. We’ve been in some pretty small cities or bigger cities in the American Midwest and stuff, just places where you think, “Oh, man. There’s probably nothing to eat.” Omaha has such a wicked vegan community, and really there’s a large amount of vegan places to eat. We ended up staying a couple of our days in Omaha, just because we were surprised. So things like that.

And then eating at restaurants, I don’t know, maybe we’ve been lucky, or maybe it’s just that it’s easy to find things. We’ve had such good luck just if there’s nothing on the menu somewhere that we could eat, being vegan and gluten-free, then a lot of times we’ll just say, “Hey, this is what we can eat. Can your kitchen make anything? Can their imagination go wild, and just make us anything, or combine some things on the menu from pieces?” We’ve had great luck, like we always end up getting a wicked meal.

Mark:  So they’re pretty accommodating usually?

Paul:  Yeah, for the most part. And it obviously depends on the restaurant, like I don’t think you could probably walk into McDonald’s and get something like that. Restaurants that we eat at and ones like, if they focus – and you can kind of tell by looking at the menu – if they focus on sustainability or local ingredients or organic ingredients, then their kitchen is going to know how to make something for us, and it’s going to be really good.

Mark:  Exactly.

Paul:  So there’s like two words that we can kind of look for on menus, and that kind of leads us in the right direction even if there’s zero vegan options that we can find Googling. Then we can always find something that way.

Mark:  That’s cool. And I’m sure there’s probably apps and stuff or websites where you can go in and search your city, and it probably brings up vegan restaurants or options.

Paul:  Yeah, Yelp you can do it. Happy Cow is a website dedicated to basically vegetarian restaurants. So, it’s got a list, it’s got reviews. But Yelp is actually the best one, because that has such a huge user base, and almost every restaurant that exists in North America is in Yelp. And you can sort by “vegan” and “vegetarian.”

Mark:  Oh, very cool.

Paul:  Yeah, and you can do that on your iPhone, so basically I’ll be driving, and my wife will be on my phone looking at restaurants as we enter a town we’ve never been to. And we usually find something within a couple of minutes, so…

Mark:  Yeah, that’s awesome. The beauty of technology.

Paul:  Exactly.

Mark:  So, let’s go back to your book. Where did the idea come from, and what were your thoughts when you decided to write the book “Eat Awesome”? And the content you wanted to put in there, and I guess the strategy? Just going through, and I’ve gone through it, I haven’t made any recipes yet, although I’m keen to, and my wife is really keen to have me make some.

But just it’s really simple and easy to follow. And for someone like me that sometimes gets intimidated by fancy recipes, this sort of makes it seem really easy, and the food looks fantastic from the pictures.

Paul:  Yeah, thank you. That’s kind of the way I approach it. I wanted to write a book for somebody like me, and I’m not really good with recipes, I kind of just like to wing it. And so a lot of the way that I wrote the book is just like you could really wing every single recipe, and it’s still going to taste good.

But where the book came from is I’d written a book probably a dozen times in email. Just people asking me, “I’m curious about veganism.” Or, “I just watched Food Inc.” Or, “Crazy, Sexy Cancer.” They just had something in their lives where they’re like, “Oh, veganism. That sounds interesting. Probably we can make that change.”

So, kind of all of the questions I’ve been asked for like years about how to eat healthy and be vegan, because it’s really easy not to be healthy and be vegan. And from what foods I like to make. And I just kept answering the same questions in emails over and over again, and giving the same recipes, and I was like, “Hey. If I just made this a book, I could save myself a lot of time and just direct everybody that wanted that information to the book.”

The book was written several times over the last couple of years, and then all I did was work with my editor to get it into book form and add a bit more information and a few more recipes. But all the recipes in the book are things that my wife and I make on a weekly basis. Those are like our go-to meals.

Mark:  So your staples.

Paul:  Yeah. And that’s kind of what I wanted to share, because I know there’s a lot of – and I kept it intentionally short, just because it’s not… Like if you’re thinking about going vegan, and you get my book, it’s not enough information. It’s a good start, and it’s kind of like a leading into it. And I don’t even care if you’re not vegan and you want to try the recipes. To me, that’s a minor detail.

If you’re eating well and your body’s doing well, then that’s good, and you might start thinking about some things that you maybe haven’t before and start tweaking in ways like that. But these are some good samples and some good ideas for what a healthy vegan could eat or does eat, in my case.

Mark:  Yeah, I know. I mean I love it.

Paul:  Oh, thank you.

Mark:  For me too, I just like looking at any book on food where it’s simple. And oftentimes, you look at cookbooks and you look at all the meals, and you kind of think, “God, you know what, most of these things in here are going to take some time, a lot of planning for shopping.” And it’s kind of maybe for a dinner where we’ve got guests coming over. But this is, like you said, these are your staples, so it’s got some really cool stuff that looks easy to make, and the ingredients are stuff that’s readily available.

Paul:  Well, exactly. And I wrote the book when I was in Tofino, and there’s one grocery store, and there’s a thousand people that live there, so every single thing that’s in the book are ingredients that any grocery store will carry.

And a lot of people think that vegans eat all of these like crazy synthetic foods, and I mean that does happen, but you don’t have to. I can survive without eating soy or seitan or any of these made-up stuff. It’s really easy to grasp whole foods. I mean I don’t even really like the term vegan, and that’s why I left that off of the title. It’s just “plant-based whole foods,” and it doesn’t need anything more than that. And that’s really what the book is about. It’s just eating well. Yeah, it doesn’t have meat, but that’s not the biggest point of the book, it’s just eating healthy food.

Mark:  Yeah, exactly. For me, who’s not a vegan, but I can look at this book, and I can really appreciate that I don’t need to have meat there. I look at the pictures and the ingredients, and I’m like, “This looks great!” I look at it, and it’s not missing anything to me, and I’m not a vegan. So, I can say this book is probably not just for vegans.

Paul:  No. It’s really written for people that aren’t vegans. That’s really the main reason I wrote the book. Like I was saying, with people emailing me that aren’t vegan or just thinking about having one or two plant-based meals a week. And I mean a lot of people do. I think it was PETA – I’m not 100% sure, but somebody has Meatless Monday, where you eat something that isn’t meat on Monday nights.

And it’s just like leaning in that direction I think is not a bad idea, and obviously, it’s something just to try. I’m a big fan of experiments, and especially with food. And I don’t think it’s a bad idea to give something like that a try.

Mark:  So I want to ask you I guess a couple of the questions that you get all the time, but it’s probably good for people who are new to this just to hear. With regards to eating a plant-based diet and nuts, you hear it over and over again, where do you get your protein? Or calcium? Do you need to take any supplements when you’re on this type of a diet? I know that’s kind of a three-pronged questions.

Paul:  The protein in itself, there’s t-shirts that vegans have for themselves that say “Where do you get your protein?” It’s kind of funny, but I mean like looking at studies, and one good example, if you’re super into the science of the stuff is “The China Study.” They studied in China, obviously, certain communities that hadn’t been Westernized. And this study was done I think in the 70’s. It was done quite a while ago. They studied communities that weren’t influenced at all by Western diet, and then ones that had and kind of comparing and contrasting. And so that’s a good book for things like that.

But coming back to the protein thing, we as a society, we eat I think it’s like 30 to 50% more protein than we used to. And obesity levels and heart attacks and that sort of thing are on the increase as well. I think one, we have in our minds that protein is the magic bullet, so it’s all everything in terms of athleticism, like, “Oh, I’ll just eat more protein, and I’m good.” I really don’t think that’s the case.

But the other thing is eating a plant-based diet is really, really high in protein. I get protein from things like nuts and seeds, and I wish I had looked through my book again, because I haven’t looked at it for a little while, but even things like lentils and quinoa have really good amounts of protein. Lots of beans have good amounts of protein. I eat a ton of chickpeas just because they’re one of my favorites, so that sort of thing. And even things like chlorella, which is like a broken down plant is a really good source of that.

And for calcium, I can’t remember where I read this, and I have really bad source amnesia for things like that. So, basically, in Florida, and this is years and years ago, people weren’t buying oranges and orange juice, so the Farming Commission or whatever figured out, okay, there’s some calcium and some vitamin C in oranges, so we’re going to promote that as the vitamin C source for people.

But then if you look at something like broccoli or kale that has a gazillion times more vitamin C than oranges, so there’s a lot of misnomers in the health or in the marketing for that sort of thing. So things like broccoli and kale have good amounts of calcium and good amounts of vitamin C, and there’s really ways to combine food.

In the book, I don’t really pay attention to, okay, am I getting enough calcium, am I getting enough protein, am I getting enough this, am I getting enough that. I eat a varied diet, so I kind of eat lots of different vegetables every week. Lots of different fruits. Lots of different grain sources. Lots of different nuts and seeds. So I try to make it as varied as possible, and then I don’t worry about anything else.

The only thing that some studies have shown is that B12 is hard to get in plant-based form. And I mean there are some things, like there’s some sea vegetables that have it. I really love kelp noodles, so I eat a lot of those. Nutritional yeast has B12 in it as well. But I do take a B12 supplement sometimes. I kind of forget, and I’m bad at taking that kind of thing anyways.

If I’m feeling rundown, I’ll take some vitamin B and some vitamin C, but I really don’t think about that, because my body is not telling me that I need to. I don’t feel rundown. I don’t feel tired. I don’t feel weak eating a very whole foods plant-based diet, so I don’t really focus on that sort of thing.

Mark:  Have you had any sort of metrics tested with regards to, I don’t know, blood work, cholesterol and all that stuff, before, after, during?

Paul:  Yup. My wife and I both do that, just because obviously vegans get a lot of flak from people, so just to kind of put their… And it’s interesting too, anytime at dinner parties or whatever if it comes up that we’re vegan, we don’t really like to preach that, but as soon as you tell somebody that isn’t vegan that you’re vegan, they become a nutrition expert. And it’s pretty funny, and it’s not an insult to anybody like that, but it’s interesting, and it makes me happy, because it means that people are thinking about what they’re eating, and a lot of times that’s not taste.

So, if somebody starts to think about what they’re eating because they’re challenging me on something, awesome. And I’m stoked for that. But we have actually had blood work done to test vitamin and mineral levels, and we’re off the charts good both of us. And we really don’t – like we take, like I said, a vitamin B12 sometimes, not that often, and that shows up in the tests. Like it shows that we’re 8 or 900% over, just because we probably took a supplement that day.

But cholesterol – if you don’t eat – the only place that bad cholesterol is found is in meat and dairy, so if you don’t eat that, your body will basically function at the level – because your body produces it or you have cholesterol in your body anyways. So, if you’re not eating those, you’re not adding to that. So some people will have slightly cholesterol, even if they’re vegan, that have cholesterol levels that are higher or lower than other vegans.

I mean that’s just how your body works. I mean my wife’s cholesterol is basically perfect. I think they might have done the test a second time for cholesterol, because they were surprised by how good the score was for bad cholesterol. Even in my family, like looking genetically, I’m predisposed to high cholesterol. My dad has it, and he takes medication for it.

My cholesterol is way within – it’s kind of like at the lower range of what’s acceptable, so even though I’m genetically predisposed to having higher cholesterol, I’m totally avoiding it by eating zero things with cholesterol, so I’m kind of good in that way.

Mark:  Yeah, it sounds like from some of the research I’ve been reading a bit too, they’re sort of making links cholesterol with your sugar intake as well. With your plant-based diet, you’re getting natural sugars, but you’re not eating a ton of sugar, so I’m assuming that right there is put to rest as well.

Paul:  Yeah, I have a super sweet tooth, and I don’t deny it, but dates are probably one of my favorite things. And I’ll throw a date or two in a smoothie in the morning. Or if I’m making a raw vegan cheesecake, which is a recipe in the book, which is probably one of the most popular ones, you can use dates in it or maple syrup as well. I’d use maple syrup sometimes too, but it’s mostly dates. I love dates.

It’s really hard to overeat what your body should be in-taking with sugar if you’re getting that sugar from natural things, like say, a date or a banana. You eat four bananas, and that might be more than the sugar you should eat in a day, but it’s kind of really hard to eat four bananas in a row. So your whole foods kind of have a way of self-metering themselves, because you kind of get full first.

Mark:  Yeah, exactly, because it’s not like you’re eating this super dense, I don’t know, bag of peanut M&Ms where the sugar is so dense. But the banana, absolutely, you’re going to get stuffed.

Paul:  Yeah.

Mark:  So, just moving on here, one of the coolest things I liked in your book was how you make your own almond milk. I’m a big fan of almond milk, and I’m trying to drinking more of it, and sort of slowly weaning myself off of regular milk. Haven’t quite gotten there, but getting close. But anyways, I was just really surprised how simple it was. So I mean do you make your own almond milk all the time?

Paul:  Oh, yeah. That’s probably one of the biggest things. There’s drinking almond or soy milk is definitely better than drinking cow milk just because of things like hormones and chemicals and beef factory farming and all of that. I won’t even get into that. It’s fine to buy from a store, but the store-bought stuff, if you look at the ingredients, there’s – I don’t know how to say it, because I don’t really say it aloud, but carrageenan, and that’s like a gelatinous extract from sea vegetables.

And it’s been linked to some bad gastrointestinal issues in tests, and that’s in almost every soy and almond milk. There’s probably worse things in dairy milk, but I don’t know, because I don’t drink it, so I never really looked anyway.

And they tend to put a lot of sugar in it. An interesting side note is American almond and soy has more sugar in it than in Canada. I don’t know why, but there’s more sugar in the American versions of soy and almond milk, which is kind of puzzling.

But getting back to the point, making almond milk is really easy, and then you know there’s only one or two ingredients, water and almonds, and that’s really the base. You can add stuff to it, but the base for what I make that I put in smoothies or in the sprouted granola that I make in the morning is I soak almonds in a bowl and cover them with water at night.

In the morning I get up, I strain and rinse them. I put them in the blender with water, and I usually do, if it’s about a cup of almonds, then four or five cups of water. I blend them, and then I pour it through – I call it a nut sack, but it’s basically a nut milk strainer. It’s like a cheesecloth made into a bag basically. Strain it out, pour it in a jar, and that’s enough milk for a few days for me. And the whole process maybe takes five minutes.

Mark:  Wow. And how long does that milk last for?

Paul:  I don’t know. I drink it too quickly. I think because it doesn’t have anything in it, it lasts probably I would say safely about four days. Past that, I don’t know, but I’m usually done with it in about three days. I know exactly how much I drink in three days, and it tastes better the fresher it is. If you had just squeezed your nut milk, and then froth as well. And if you’re making a tea or something that you just want that little bit of froth, it’s like being at a café.

It’s so psychological, but it’s just fresh almond nuts just taste so good. I don’t know why. I guess it’s just a time thing, but buying it in the store versus making it, and sometimes if I’m in a rush and I don’t have time, and I buy, I would kick myself for doing it, because it’s like, what are you doing, it’s so easy to do, and it tastes so much better.

Mark: And it’s a lot cheaper in the long run when you’re making it yourself too I’m assuming, if you’re buying it like you said through that company. You’ll have to give me a link to that in the Okanagan in there.

Paul:  Yeah. www.realrawfood.com. And in the US, Amazon sells organic raw nuts in bulk. I buy five pound bags of cashews, walnuts, almonds, I buy a lot of things, but the almonds last probably a good month and a half-ish. And I think it’s about 40 bucks.

And as well, the waste from all of those containers, maybe that’s, I don’t know, 20, 30 containers that aren’t in a landfill, because they don’t exist, because I just poured it into a mason jar sort of thing. And as well, like you said, it’s so much cheaper.

I think I figured it out, and it was maybe about a buck to get the same amount of almond milk as you would get in a container, which usually in Canada is about 4, 5, 6 bucks, depending on where you shop and what province you’re in.

Mark:  Yeah, I know for sure it’s not cheap stuff.

Paul:  And you also know the place that I order from, Real Raw Foods, I’ve talked to them, and I know exactly where they get that from. And if you’re buying a carton in the store, you don’t know. It might say organic, but I don’t know. It might be right, it might not be. If it doesn’t say organic, who knows where it’s coming from.

Whereas if you’re buying straight from a supplier of those things – and they taste so good. You’d be surprised at how good fresh nuts taste compared to buying them in the store. And even the raw ones taste almost like they’ve been roasted, because they’re still so crunchy and they’re just so good. They just have so much more flavor, I find, if I’m buying it straight from somewhere that might have just bought the shipment from where they were harvested a few weeks before, and then I guess you order a week later, and it’s such a smaller supply, and it’s so fresh.

Mark:  Wow. I’ll have to try that. Moving on, with [agrestic] cooking, in your book, it doesn’t appear that you need any sort of fancy pieces of cooking equipment. Is there anything that’s sort of essential in your view in your kitchen?

Paul:  Not essential, but it’s probably my favorite thing, and it’s my Vitamix. And it’s a high-powered blender, and yeah, it costs probably twice as much as most other blenders. And I know there are other people saying, “All of this is just as good as the Vitamix.” And that’s all well and good, but with the Vitamix, you can basically puree anything.

I can make a sauce or a dressing for salad using cashews, and it becomes a cream sauce, and there’s no little bits of cashews in there anymore. If I’m doing the almond milk, I get much more milk I guess or creaminess from the milk just because it’s a really good high-speed blender. It probably has a bigger motor in it than most lawnmowers. It’s really good.

But you can make – and I had people try – you can make almond milk with a food processor that’s way slower, or with any blender. It doesn’t need to be that. That’s just kind of like the Rolls Royce of blenders.

Mark:  Yeah, exactly. And then you’re using it so much, it’s probably better in the long run to just get one good machine, and that’s going to last you for years.

Paul:  Yeah. And I mean I drink a lot of smoothies too, and I don’t like grit. I put spinach or kale, and those can be kind of gritty, but if you blend them, then that grit is gone.

Mark:  Wow. So, even kale and spinach in your smoothies with the Vitamix, and it’s some…

Paul: Oh, it breaks down to – like you can put it through a cheesecloth, and not be left with anything in the cloth.

Mark:  Wow.

Paul:  It’s so fine. It’s my favorite. I use that more than – well, I don’t use a microwave – but I use it more than my oven.

And the other thing that I like, and I mean there’s no recipes in my book, because you can’t really replicate a food dehydrator without a food dehydrator. There’s no recipes in “Eat Awesome.” You don’t need any fancy appliances to make any of the recipes in the book. All of the raw recipes in the book, you don’t need anything fancy, you just don’t cook the stuff, so it’s pretty straightforward. But my dehydrator is really good for a lot of things.

In the summer, if I’m getting stuff from a food coop, then I’m getting like 30, 40 pounds of tomatoes. I can’t really eat that much, but I can dehydrate them into sundried tomatoes. Or using flax and seeds and vegetables, I can make raw bread, which tastes awesome. I sprout buckwheat and quinoa and a whole bunch of other flavoring things, like cinnamon and apples and dates and that, and I make my own granola.

And I do that in the dehydrator, so dehydrators are really good. It’s kind of a time commitment though, because they do take sometimes a whole day to dehydrate things, and there is prep work involved, but if you’re a food nerd like me, you kind of will be able to do it. I can make protein bars that I can bring on hikes or while traveling, or I can dehydrate whatever fruits and vegetables I want. That’s definitely not necessary, but…

Mark:  Right. Fun to have.

Paul:  Yeah. If my house is on fire, I grab my Vitamix first.

Mark:  Good to know. So, moving on here, do you have any other sort of favorite fitness, nutrition, or health books, resources, websites that you go to on a daily, weekly, or sort of regular basis?

Paul: When I’m thinking, I want to eat X, I just Google it, and whichever site I come to, I like. But there was one, a bread recipe that I just found and that I made. It’s on www.mynewroots.org, and just Google “The Life-Changing Loaf of Bread,” and it’s the first thing that comes up.

So, basically, the bread has no flour in it, so there’s nothing refined in it. It’s all whole ingredients. It doesn’t even have yeast, and active commercial yeast has lots of bad things too that I won’t even get into, but it’s just basically nuts, seeds, and psyllium, and some flavoring things, a little bit of rye, a little bit of maple syrup, but it’s not like a sweet bread. I put avocados on it today, but it’s an amazing bread, and it’s 100% whole food.

And so, it’s not like a lot of people think, like, “Oh, I shouldn’t be eating bread. It’s bad for me. It’s nutritionally void, which is worse than a lot of cases.” But it’s just a good, hearty, thick loaf of bread, but it’s really good. So, www.mynewroots.org is definitely a good one.

And I keep coming back to it, but Brendan Brazier is – if I was a hardcore athlete instead of just a recreational athlete, if I was hardcore into it, he would be the person that I would be going to. He has at least two books, and both books I’ve read a few times, because they’re just chock full of really good information.

And he’s really a pro, so I have no science background, so I haven’t approached anything that I’ve written or anything that I do from a science perspective, but he spends a lot of time and has done a lot of research into the intersection of being a food nerd and being an endurance athlete.

You can tell how passionate he is by reading what he’s written. And those are such valuable, valuable resources for anybody that is interested from hardcore athletes and just people who are interested in their health. And they’re all like “Thrive Diet,” I can’t remember the other one, but “Thrive Diet” is the main one.

Mark:  And he’s a good Canadian guy too, right?

Paul:  Yeah, exactly.

Mark:  So, check him out. So, listen, I want to respect your time here, Paul. Do you have any sort of last piece of advice for people who are curious or considering a plant-based diet?

Paul:  Sure. The biggest thing too is to not let yourself be bound by labels and that sort of thing. You don’t need to be vegan to eat one plant-based meal. You don’t need to beat yourself if you think, “Okay. I want to go vegan.” But then you eat meat or dairy or something like that.

It’s a process, and it’s really, really hard to go vegan or to make such a huge life change overnight, so it’s important to treat it as an experiment, and not to beat yourself up when things don’t right, because it’s a learning experience.

And basically just listen to your body. Your body is a lot smarter than we think it is in the majority of cases. And a lot of times it tells you what is working and what isn’t, and obviously, talking to nutritionists or that sort of thing, is good, but it’s fun to just kind of play around with what you eat, and see how you feel, or to cut things out like wheat or dairy or meat, and see how you feel for a little bit.

But, yeah, the biggest thing is just give it a try. Have one plant-based meal. I’m not asking anybody to go vegan, but give it a try, and see if you like it.

Mark:  Got some great advice. Paul, thanks very much for your expertise, your time. Where can we find out more about what you are up to right, and then going forward?

Paul:  Sure. Well, my book is www.eatawesome.ca. And from there, I don’t have a blog or anything like that, mostly because I write articles for a lot of different publications and that. But if you sign up for my newsletter, that’s the main thing. I’ve developed probably 30 or 40 recipes since I released the book. Those are on the mailing list, and those are all actually on the mailing list archives. So, the best way to keep up to date with what I’m doing, and the new fun things that are coming out of my kitchen is to get on the mailing list at www.eatawesome.ca.

Mark:  Perfect. Well, thanks very much, Paul. All the best, and we’ll talk to you soon.

Paul:  Thanks very much, and thanks for having me on the show today.

Mark:  No problem. Take care.