The Vegan SOS-Free Life & The BEST Choco-Cinnamon SOS-Free Granola Recipe
Hi guys! Can you believe it? A new blog post from me! Ahhhh! Believe me when I say I wanted to share the whole time I was gone and dreamed of writing blog posts this entire month. My ideas were running wild and I have about a million and one subjects I want to dig deep into with you guys. And I WILL.
But my healing journey at True North Health Center in Santa Rosa, CA (where I was doing a 2-week water fast) was so intense, I knew I needed to draw my energy inward and experience the healing solely for me… not only so I could heal without the added pressure of sharing the whole experience at once, but also because I wanted to let it sink in and see how it worked for me in the end before I told you guys what it was like!
It’s like doing research by living my life and exploring every avenue of healing… it’s awesome, but there is no possible way to rush it and still give you credible experiential information. So for ONCE in my life I have had to be patient and let it all sink in before sharing it far and wide. And in many ways, that has felt really GOOD! Being quiet about this experience has allowed it to do deep internal healing work in a way that has been so beyond necessary for me at this stage of my life.
I will be breaking down the whole water fast for you guys in an upcoming post, AND a YouTube video (I vlogged every few days while I was there), AND a podcast episode so I promise you will be getting all the details when the time is right. It won’t be too long before any of those go up (do you really think I could keep being so quiet about such a big thing in my life?! Come on, you know me) but I didn’t want to leave you hanging for too long… so today is about something very RELATED to my water fast and is now a huge part of this healing journey.
The SALT OIL SUGAR FREE (SOS-Free) VEGAN Lifestyle! But for all intents & purposes, we will call it the SOS-free plant-based lifestyle.
Because we know the word “vegan” has a lot of politics surrounding it and while I do consider myself fully vegan at the moment… I am more comfy using the term plant-based right now because my health is always going to come first in my book. So if vegan long-term doesn’t work for my bod again, I am safer saying plant-based (publicly at least). Ya feel me?
Anyway. I don’t ever want to let the cruelty of certain people in the vegan community from years and years ago keep me from using the word vegan. If I choose to use that word in the future to describe myself I will do so with open arms. If I choose to keep using the term plant-based then that is awesome too. I won’t let myself be bullied out of using the term — and I have even found SUCH interesting backlash from the “anti-diet” community now that I am plant-based again. So it gave me some sympathy toward the vegan backlash I got four years ago because it made me realize…. EVERY COMMUNITY has backlash. And that’s not cool. I am so, so, so, SO against that icky judgment and will continue to advocate acceptance in every dietary circle & way of life.
What I AM about is empowering others and empowering myself. And after spending two weeks at True North Health Center water fasting and learning about the SOS-free plant-based way of life, I feel more than inspired to share about it with you. I would actually feel wrong not sharing about it with you, because it is such a healing, anti-inflammatory, gut healthy, evidence-based, autoimmune-friendly diet and lifestyle.
With all of the autoimmune diseases, rashes, chronic fatigue, anxiety/depression, & overall lack of zest for life that have been bestowed upon me this year due to my health issues, I am VERY passionate about incorporating this healing way of eating into my life and sticking to it. And I am just as passionate about making sure you know it’s at least an option for you as well!
So, let’s get into it. 🙂
The SOS-Free Plant-Based Way of Life
Pretty immediately upon arriving at True North I learned that their health center is all about the salt, oil and sugar-free lifestyle often known as “SOS-free” vegan. I knew a lot about the SOS-free vegan community from my days as a diehard vegan/raw-vegan (you can read my whole journey here if you’re not familiar), and I even tried it out back in the day but I don’t think I did it that well the first time because I was also trying to be raw back then! So it just wasn’t enough variety.
Over the years I have been intrigued by the SOS-free type of eating and I had dabbled in it here and there, but after being so largely exposed to the paleo & ketogenic lifestyles in LA (nutritionists, doctors, friends, fellow podcasters, fellow bloggers… EVERYONE I knew was all about the keto life) I started to view oil as something I NEEDED in order to be healthy. So for the last three and a half to four years I doused my food in olive oil, roasted my veggies in an ABUNDANCE of avocado oil, drowned my COFFEE in MCT oil (Bulletproof diehard, you know this), on and on.
I also got pretty into salt during this time. When I cut all fruits out of my diet and was largely sugar-free for other health reasons, I found myself craving salt all the time to take the place of the excitement of those natural sweetness flavors. My daily diet would consist of a large Bulletproof Coffee with MCT oil, ghee, and TONS of stevia (trying to mimic that sweetness flavor) for breakfast, salmon and greens with olive oil for lunch, and maybe more salmon or chicken or veggies with a salad with more olive oil and more ghee for dinner. And salt. Lots of all of the above.
NO carbs. NO rice. NO potatoes. NO legumes. NO fruit, as mentioned. I was very much on the keto / paleo train.
I am not saying eating that way is bad. You will never come to my blog and find me saying that any one way of eating or living is bad. It just wasn’t for me. As illustrated by my body slowly but surely gaining 10-20 pounds, my skin breaking out like crazy, my body deteriorating into autoimmune disease, my hormones going completely out of whack, and this weird stagnation I got into where no matter how I adjusted or tweaked my diet and workout routine I had plateaued at a place where I didn’t feel like I was ME in my body. I felt bloated and sick and tired and bleh. ALL OF THE TIME. Even when I was running marathons!
That all happened over a three and a half year period. Then last winter I went plant-based again (which you can read about here), and things started to get better. I reincorporated fruit into my life and my body was VERY happy. The autoimmune issues persisted and of course my rashes and eczema blew up like crazy, but at least my hormones started to feel like they were balancing a bit and my body started losing some of those stubborn pounds quite easily.
But I was still dousing my veggies in oil, drinking the MCT oil in coffee, etc. etc. So getting to True North and being exposed to this SOS-free way of life got me thinking, “Wait a second… is THIS what I’ve been missing? Could it have been this easy all along?!”
Finding the SOS-Free Lifestyle When I Needed It Most:
I had my first meal at True North before my fast started and it was like heaven on a plate for me… steamed sweet potato, legumes, steamed greens, steamed cauliflower, rice, salad with an abundance of of veggies and seeds, yummy dressings made of tahini, carrots, celery, and more plant-based goods. Does that sound restrictive to you? Boring? Because to me it doesn’t at all! Which is also how I know it’s right for my body at this season of my life.
Keep in mind I LOVE that kind of food. So I was dreaming of it the entire time that I was fasting! Especially because an incredible SOS-free kitchen was right downstairs during my whole fast.
While I was at True North I watched documentary after documentary about the SOS-free plant-based life. Doctors at the center from Dr. Goldhamer (the founder of True North) to Dr. Klaper to amazingly well-known doctors like Colin T. Campbell and Neal Barnard are all about the SOS-free way of life. Some of the philosophy is that salt, oil, and sugar are three of the foods that make us end up overeating because they dull our taste buds and we don’t end up tasting the real foods or eating to satiety… but rather eating way more than necessary because the flavors are addictive. (Check out Forks Over Knives if you haven’t seen it yet — amazing doc that dives deep into this philosophy.)
Secondly, they’re all isolated forms of nutrients (which makes them not really nutrients at all). Salt is isolated sodium, oil is isolated fat, and sugar is of course isolated sugar. While plenty of veggies and legumes are naturally rich in healthy sodium, nuts and seeds and avocado and coconut are naturally rich in healthy fat, and fruits and starchy veggies are naturally rich in fructose which our bodies of course need for energy — those are the types of sodium, fats, and sugars we NEED to thrive.
But what about the importance of sodium?! Fats?! Sugars?!
So the SOS-free diet by no means claims “NO sodium, NO fats, NO sugar” but rather the opposite. Get those vital nutrients from NUTRIENT-DENSE, real foods rather than isolated forms of things we have created to make food “taste” better. But really you’re just dulling your taste buds and tricking yourself into thinking foods in their natural state are not yummy enough! When they so are!
The USDA Dietary Guidelines recommend a tolerable upper limit of 2,300 mg (about 1 teaspoon of salt) or less per day. And how much do you think is in a plate of food at a restaurant? Even in one mashed potato at a restaurant?! Or SALAD DRESSING? It’s SCARY how much added salt the Standard American Diet boasts as NORMAL… even though a healthy amount of natural sodium is of course completely fine. Just not the way we as Americans consume it.
And as far as oil, the fat in it has been extracted from its original food source, so it is now unprotected, making it more prone to becoming rancid through oxidation (prolonged exposure to oxygen), inhibiting freshness and degrading food. Oil that has been oxidized also contains free radicals, which can damage the body and contribute to cancers.
And we all know how much sugar sucks so I don’t need to try to convince you of that. What we want to aim for is fructose in its natural state — fruits, starchy veggies, all that good stuff. Table sugar, even honey and molasses etc. is so unnecessary.
And of course for people like me with autoimmune problems and a highly inflammatory response to many foods — isolated oil, salt, and sugar are my demise. I started incorporating food back into my diet about 7 days ago post-water-fast and I can happily say I have been feeling AMAZING eating all SOS-free. I was nervous to start eating again because I had such a great response to the fast (lost ALL of my inflammation, more on this in the water fasting post to come) but eating this fabulous SOS-free way has enabled me to reap the benefits post-fast as well.
Today’s granola with fruit for breakie… SO GOOD!!!
AND IT’S STILL DELISH!
Also eating SOS-free is still delicious because you end up learning how to flavor your food with fresh and dried herbs and spices, make DELISH dressings and sauces without oil, and how to substitute sugar and oil in baking / sautéing. It’s truly amazing and has reawakened my fire to create, create, create in the kitchen! I LOVE it.
I am feeling amazing. You guys who follow on Instagram have commented that I have been looking amazing, glowing, happier, looking more like the true and real me. AND OH MY GOSH I CAN’T TELL YOU HOW TRUE THAT IT AND HOW GOOD THAT FEELS. And how good it feels for you guys to notice, because you truly are all my friends from afar and having you notice such important and deep changes within me makes me feel so happy and supported and loved.
So, let’s dive into the recipe! I wanted to share about SOS-free with you first because you will be seeing it quite a bit on my channels. I am dedicated to this lifestyle at the moment and cannot wait to see how my body and my health continues to evolve once I follow it consistently for a period of time.
I am also getting my parents into it which means the world to me. My parents are both VERY healthy and I am so grateful for that, but my dad has had a few scary tests in recent years and we want to keep him in the best shape as possible. So now my SOS-free plant-based passion is spilling over into the ones I love most, and that is incredibly special and exciting to me as well.
SOS-FREE, GLUTEN-FREE, VEGAN CHOCO CINNAMON GRANOLA
( WARNING: THIS LITERALLY TASTES LIKE A WARM GOOEY COOKIE! IT’S SO GOOD YOU MAY FREAK! )
1 cup gluten free oats (I use Bob’s Red Mill)
1/4 cup melty tahini (I use this one from Whole Foods)
4-5 chopped & pitted medjool dates
1/4 cup chopped or whole unsalted cashews
1/2 cup coconut flakes
3-4 tbsp cacao powder (I get mine on ThriveMarket.com/BLONDE (use that link for $60 worth of free groceries!!)
1-2 tbsp cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mix all ingredients together in a large mixing bowl, blending evenly so that everything gets a nice blend of cinnamon and cacao!
Add the mixture into a high-speed blender & pulse a couple of times, just enough to make the granola into a crumble but not TOO much or it will be super crumbly. I pulsed about 3 times for 5 seconds each, mixing it around each time.
Once the consistency is to your liking, add to a baking sheet (I line mine with tin foil to minimize cleanup!) and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Keep an eye on it because the coconut flakes are quick to burn after 20-25 mins!
Let it cool so it restores its crunchiness, and ENJOY!!!
Store in an airtight container in your pantry (or fridge if you’re a cold granola kinda person), and it will last for up to two weeks. I love to add this to smoothies, or eat it with fruit with the granola as the main dish!
*PS you could totally make this raw & skip the baking step. It will also taste yummy, if you’re into the raw life! Going to play around in my new dehydrator for some crispy raw granola soon too…. #drool!
SO DANG GOOD. TASTES LIKE AN ABSOLUTE CRUMBLY WARM DELECTABLE COOKIE. Do yourself a favor and try it while it’s still warm outta the oven… you’ll thank me later. 🙂
So excited to hear what you think!! As you can see, the SOS-free plant-based life CAN be exciting and delish. It’s not too hard to swap out oil, sugar, and salt in your cooking — it’s actually fun and you will find yourself getting more creative than ever in the kitchen. It’s like therapy. If you try it, let me know what you think. And I can guarantee this lifestyle will make you feel GOOOOOD if nothing else!!