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Please keep in mind that I am not a nutritionist or doctor. I recommend checking with your doctor before making any changes to your diet. Most of the information on this blog is based upon my own personal experience and research. All photographs and content are copyright Healthy Girl's Kitchen. Please contact me for permission to use photographs and content.
This is me before becoming Plant Strong! Total cholesterol: 231
This is me after happily going Plant Strong for over two years. Total cholesterol: 147 Total weight loss: 40 pounds
Does the idea of eating chopped chicken livers seem really strange to you? Well, if you grew up in a house like mine (Eastern European and Jewish), it would seem really run-of-the-mill. But delicious run-of-the-mill, if you know what I mean.
Chopped liver was something my grandmother made, and also my mother, to this day. It was served at every single family and friend gathering that I can recall from my childhood. Everyone loved it. Even if you loathed liver in any other form, there was something so amazing about Chopped Liver that would make you forget all about exactly what you were eating.
You can probably imagine, it's been a long time since I've eaten Chopped Liver.
So when we were served "Mock Chopped Liver" at dinner at a friend's this past Friday night, I was excited to take a walk down memory lane. It was delicious and I made a pact with myself that I would find out exactly how I could make it so I could share it with you.
Many Mock Chopped Liver recipes include hard boiled eggs and of course, oil to saute the onion in. Mine however is 100% no-oil vegan. It's so simple, I can't believe it's taken me this long to make it.
If the idea of Chopped Liver totally freaks you out, just think of this as a completely amazing Lentil Walnut Pate and proudly serve it to rave reviews at all of your social gatherings.
Everyone will be glad you did.
Vegan Mock Chopped Liver (aka Lentil Walnut Pate)
makes 4 cups, serves a crowd
1 17.6 oz. package steamed lentils from Trader Joe's, OR 3 cups of water plus 1 1/2 cup of dry lentils (should yield 3 cups cooked lentils)
1 large onion, diced
vegetable broth for sauteing
1 cup walnuts
1 Tbsp red miso paste
1 1/2 tsp low sodium Tamari or low sodium soy sauce
If you don't have access to Trader Joe's precooked lentils, the first thing that you will need to do is cook your lentils. Place lentils and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer lentils for 30 minutes or until tender. Drain lentils.
Place a saute pan (nonstick is best) over medium-high heat and cover the bottom of the pan with vegetable broth. When broth is bubbling, add onion. Cook onion, stirring often, adding a bit more broth and lowering the heat as you go, until onion is translucent and very soft, about 20-30 minutes. By the end of the process, your heat should be on low and the onions will be soft and no liquid will be left.
Place walnuts in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the "s" blade. Pulse walnuts a few times until the are chopped. Add lentils, onions, red miso paste and Tamari or soy sauce and puree until smooth.
Refrigerate for a few hours and serve.
Did your family eat Chopped Liver growing up? Did you love it or loathe it? Do you make a mock version now?
Was the expression "What am I, Chopped Liver?" used in your home growing up?
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We were invited over to a friend's house for dinner last Friday night and I was given the task of bringing a side dish. It's been a long time since I've made a grain salad, and I was itching to use the farro that remained in my pantry since I made Farro with Roasted Eggplant Pesto.
There is a wonderful chewiness to farro that I really enjoy. And the raw garlic and ginger in this dressing give this salad a nice kick. Serve it as a side dish, or spoon it over a bed of any lettuce to make a main course salad. In my opinion, this grain salad rocks!
Farro Salad with Apricots, Chick Peas and Sunflower Seeds
First, cook the farro. There are two ways you can do this. You can put the farro and the water in a rice cooker and turn it on. Or you can bring the water to a boil, add the farro, simmer for 45 minutes and then drain off whatever liquid remains (if any).
Place all dressing ingredients into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
Combine the cooked farro, carrots, chick peas, scallions, apricots and sunflower seeds in a med-large bowl. Pour dressing on top and mix until dressing covers the salad.
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I thought I would start off this week by sharing an e-mail that I received over the weekend. This reader needs our help, just like this reader did a few weeks ago. I know we will give her amazing advice, so here goes:
"Hi Wendy! I recently found your blog and love it! I'm writing to you because I have been toying with the idea of trying out Dr. Fuhrman's Eat to Live lifestyle change but don't really seem to know how to get going. How did you start out? I am quite overweight and while losing weight is a goal, I am more interested in making a permanent lifestyle change. However, I'm concerned that Dr. Fuhrman's plan is so overwhelming and cold turkey that I may not stick with it for long. Did you jump right in or start by making smaller changes? Were your days just full of salad, salad, and more salad? I'm just curious about how you made it work for you in a way that stuck; thanks for any advice!!"
Great question. For me, it did not happen in an instant.
I also want to begin answering this by saying that I am not 100% a Nutritarian nor could I be considered "Plant-perfect." The realities of this lifestyle for me are that I fall somewhere between "Plant-strong" and "Nutritarian" most every day. Although I love the idea of being a perfect Nutritarian, it has not been the reality of my journey, and I don't want you to think that it has.
I'll explain by giving an example. Yesterday, I was invited to a brunch buffet by my in-laws. I knew that eating my way would be challenging, both materially (what food was going to be available) and psychologically (resisting the ridiculous amount of temptation at a brunch buffet). The way I handle these situations these days is as follows: I make myself a huge plate of salad greens, topped with any and all raw and cooked vegetables on the buffet, as well as the vinaigrette that was available (yes, it had oil in it). It was a delicious salad, and I pretty much filled up on that. Then I indulged in something totally not Nutritarian, which was blueberry bread pudding. And I'm not proud to say that I had quite a bit of it. I also avoided everything else on the brunch buffet--all the rest of the meaty, cheesy, oily dishes. But that's the truth, and I want you to know that.
What happened after the brunch? Did I give up on myself and eat junk for the rest of the day, figuring I had blown it at lunch? Heck no! I went right back to eating Plant-strong at dinner time and I will have no problem continuing to eat this way for days and days, maybe weeks, until I eat off plan again, which I am sure will happen. I have been at this long enough to understand that perfection is elusive and for me, unnecessary.
Now that does not mean that I am advising you to go at this in a willy nilly way. There is plenty of advice out there that says "Just Do It 100% Starting Right Now." But what I don't want to happen is that you think that you can't, and that you walk away.
The way I got started went like this: I was actually on Weight Watchers for my umpteenth time. I won't go into the details, but I was lucky enough to be introduced to Eat to Live and also to the book Volumetrics. So I began to incorporate the principles of nutrient density and high volume, low calorie eating into my Weight Watchers Points counting and weighing and measuring program. It worked like a charm and over the course of less than I year, I was thinner than I had been in a very, very long time.
I was still using some oil and eating some animal products. Dr. Fuhrman has an allowance of 10% of your calories to come from these things, I believe.
I was about a year into this journey when I heard Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, author of Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, speak for the first time, followed shortly by his son, Rip Esselstyn, author of The Engine 2 Diet. I had already started this blog, so you can see how my recipes changed after this experience. I became convinced that I could eliminate oil and all animal products from my diet. It wasn't difficult at all because I was armed with all of the knowledge that came from reading their books and also the book The China Study by T. Colin Campbell. I had effectively brainwashed myself for the positive!
The more books I read on the subject of a no-oil vegan diet, the easier it became to make better choices, meal by meal, day by day, week by week.
I actually gained weight because I stopped weighing and measuring my food according to the Weight Watcher's plan. That was sort of okay by me because I knew that following a counting plan was unsustainable for me in the long run, while eating almost 100% no-oil vegan was something I could do for the rest of my life.
Pretty early on in this story, I was also lucky enough to be introduced to a book called The Beck Diet Solution. Without a doubt, I would be no where today without the ideas and exercises of Dr. Judith Beck. This is not a book about food, it's a book about the different thought patterns of naturally thin people versus overweight people. I learned to think like a thin person. I cannot possibly give this book enough credit for my success. Without it, I would be at square one, hating myself and feeling awful about being overweight, because there would have been no chance for me to stick to any plan.
So it's been almost three years since this story began. I have been able to pretty easily maintain about 40 pounds of my weight loss and I am thrilled every day when I wake up in the morning! I can't believe this is my life, when not so long ago I was so lost and confused every minute of every day about why I could not maintain a healthy weight.
I'm not a perfect Nutritarian, although I aspire to be. And yes, I do eat loads of salad (I love it now), but I also eat tons of wonderful soups, casseroles, oatmeals, smoothies, wraps and the no-oil, low sugar, Vegan sweets that I cannot seem to live without.
I'm not a Vegan, although all of the recipes that I create and cook are no-oil vegan recipes. And yes, I'd love to be a 100% Vegan.
I'm not Plant-perfect, but it would be nice if I was!
I am truly Plant-strong, easily and happily. I am still learning and making small tweaks to my diet as I go. I would never go back to my old way of eating. This really is a lifestyle change and not a "diet."
What about you, HGK readers? Where do you fall right now? Plant-strong? Plant-perfect? Are you able to follow a plan perfectly? Do you feel that in order to be successful, you need to be perfect?
Greens, onions, mushrooms and beans are a big part of Dr. Fuhrman's magical G.O.M.B.B.S. list and I try to be aware of eating these foods every single day. So when I saw that this soup recipe from Kitchen of Health had G.O.M.B.B.S. ingredients that are commonly found in my kitchen, I though it might be an easy, and hopefully fast, weeknight dinner.
And delicious too.
Not quite a soup but not totally a stew, this hearty and flavorful stoup (to borrow a phrase from Rachel Ray) just might become a regular weeknight thing for us.
1 large onion, chopped (approx. 2 cups chopped onion)
1 box (4 cups) low sodium vegetable broth
2 Tbsp curry powder (I prefer sweet curry powder, so if your curry powder is hot/spicy, you may want to use only 1 tbsp)
1 large can (29 ounces) pumpkin puree
2 cups unsweetened almond or soy milk
2 tsp coconut extract
2 Tbsp natural creamy peanut butter
1 15 ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
4 cups swiss chard (or other green you have on hand), chiffonaided
2 cups very thinly sliced mushrooms
hot sauce to taste (I used Sriracha)
salt (or not)
Coat the bottom of a large dutch oven or soup pot with vegetable broth. Turn heat to medium. When broth is bubbling, add chopped onion. Stir frequently. After 5 minutes, add curry powder and stir. Turn heat a touch lower and stirring frequently, saute onions and curry powder until onions are very soft (about 15 minutes).
Add vegetable broth, pumpkin puree, nut milk, coconut extract and peanut butter. Stir to combine.
When mixture is simmering, add garbanzo beans, swiss chard and mushrooms. Stir.
Let simmer for 20 minutes. Taste. Season with hot sauce (to taste) and salt (or not).
If you're an Internet junkie like me, you are probably well aware of all of the homemade donut baking that is going on these days. Donuts, not a good trend. Homemade donuts, better. Especially if they have no white flour, no added sugar, and no added oil. Oh, and then happen to taste delicious.
If you think that's a good trend, this recipe will work for you.
One word of caution. These donuts are pretty sweet. The sweetness comes from the bananas (a good thing) and also from a new product that I am testing that is made by the NuNaturals company called "MoreFiber Stevia Baking Blend." I have never been a big fan of Stevia. I just thought it was far too sweet for even my sweet tooth, and it left a long lasting odd aftertaste.
That's what I thought, until I made these donuts. I think I finally used the stuff correctly.
But the last thing I need is to fuel my own sweet cravings. Better for me to get used to the natural sweetness that is inherent in fruit and even many vegetables. Even so, sometimes a girl just wants to bake. And the upside of the NuNaturals Baking Blend product is that you can actually eliminate most if not all of the added sugar from a baked good and achieve excellent results. Plus, the fiber blend actually improves the texture of baked goods. The results were far better than I expected.
I have tested four different donut recipes with the NuNaturals Stevia products and this Peanut Butter Banana Donut with Date Nut Glaze recipe is by far the winner.
1 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup peanut flour
1/3 cup NuNaturals MoreFiber Sweetener Baking Blend
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 cups very ripe bananas, mashed (approx. 4 medium bananas)
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 flax eggs (2 Tbsp flax meal plus 4 Tbsp water, whisked together and refrigerated for 15 minutes to 1 hour)
1/4 cup almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Prepare flax eggs (see instructions under wet ingredients).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place all dry ingredients into a large bowl and whisk to combine.
Place all wet ingredients into a medium bowl and stir to combine.
Stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Do not over mix.
Lightly spray a donut pan with cooking spray, even if the pan has a non-stick surface. Spoon the batter evenly into the holes, filling each about 3/4 full.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the donut comes out clean. Remove from oven, let cool for at least 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely. Repeat with second batch if you only have one donut pan.
Date Nut Glaze (optional)
3 medjool dates
1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp almond milk (or other alternative milk)
2 Tbsp sunflower seed or peanut butter
4 drops NuNaturals Pure Liquid Vanilla Stevia
1/8 tsp cinnamon
Soak dates in 1/4 cup almond milk for 30 minutes.
Place all ingredients, including soaking milk, into a small food processor or blender and puree until smooth.
Using a knife, spread "glaze" on top side of donuts. Place donuts in a single layer on a plate (do not stack) until "glaze" sets.
What's been your experience baking with stevia? Have you ever done it? Did you have success? Failure? Do you want to try it?
This past weekend brought my second attempt at homemade seitan. This time I chose a recipe by the famous Vegan cookbook author Isa Chandra Moskowitz. The recipe is called Simple Italian Sausages and my results were, well, just okay. Nothing to write home about, or really blog about for that matter. The texture was fine, but I think I was expecting to be "wowed" by incredible sausagey flavors. It didn't happen for me.
But on Sunday afternoon I felt like making a stew. And I knew that almost any seitan, even this one, would be great in a stew. Cut into chunks, it gives a vegetable/bean stew that meaty texture that is so rare in Vegan cooking.
I had just gotten some huge sweet potatoes in my vegetable share that I was itching to use, and along with black beans and some Mexican seasonings, I prepared a quick Mexican Stew that was totally delicious. This recipe makes quite a lot, so it's great for a crowd or sharing with your friends.
Coincidentally, Debby over at happyhealthylonglife.com was just talking about a fabulous new faux sausage product that she discovered when travelling. It's made by Upton's Naturals and it's called Chorizo Seitan.
photo courtesy uptonsnaturals.com
If you have access to this product, I highly recommend making this stew and using Upton's Chorizo. You can find out if it is sold near you by visiting their website. Unfortunately, it's not sold in Cleveland yet. Yet. I'll have to work on that!
3 cups diced yellow onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
8 1/2 cups vegetable broth, divided
8 cups peeled and diced sweet potato (3 large sweet potatoes)
1 Tbsp ground cumin
up to 1 Tbsp ground chipotle chili power
3 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can fat free refried black beans
1 recipe Seitan Sausage, cubed OR 2 packages Uptons Naturals Chorizo-style Seitan
1 large bunch kale, sliced into ribbons about 1/2" thick
juice of 1 large lime
1 Tbsp salt (or not)
optional: cilantro to garnish
Prepare seitan sausages according to recipe if you do not have packages of Upton's Seitan Chorizo.
Coat to base of a large soup pot with 1/4 cup of vegetable broth. Turn heat to medium high. When vegetable broth begins to bubble, add onion. Cook onion, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes.
Turn heat to medium low and add garlic. Stir and cook for 3 minutes.
Add sweet potato and 1/4 cup of vegetable broth. Stir. Add cumin and chipotle chili powder. Add less chili powder if you like your food less spicy (the full 1 Tbsp of chipotle chili powder will make this quite spicy). Stir to coat onions and potatoes. Cover, turn heat to medium high, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occassionally.
Add 8 cups of vegetable broth, all of the black beans, and the refried black beans. Bring to a boil, stirring gently until the refried beans have dissolved.
Add kale and stir. Lower heat to low and cook for about 2 minutes, until kale softens.
Add lime juice and season to taste with salt. Serve immediately or keep over very low heat until ready to serve. Garnish with chopped cilantro.
Have you tried any of the Upton's Naturals Seitan products?
Have you ever made a homemade Chorizo Seitan? If you know of a kick a$# recipe for that, please let me know!
I have to admit, I have a total weakness for pina coladas. Yes, I know they are sickeningly sweet. But the combination of coconut and pineapple along with the cool, creamy sweetness of the concoction just gets me every time. But it probably goes without saying here on HGK that drinking a pina colada is like a once-in-a-decade event for me. It helps that I live in Cleveland and not Saint Something or others.
I spent much of my weekend experimenting with NuNaturals Stevia products. I had some real highs and some real lows. If replacing the sugar with stevia in a recipe was easy, everyone would be doing it by now, right? Well, it's not that simple. I'm learning as I go.
I'll share my successes with you. My failures? I'm sharing them with the garbage pail.
I've been making batches of oatmeal, four servings at a time, and refrigerating single servings so that I have a healthy and convenient breakfast every day. Oatmeal is like a blank slate, and we can get really creative with the ingredients we add to it.
I began yesterday's batch with a pioneering spirit. Inspiration struck. I wondered what would happen if I included the flavors in a pina colada?
It was a risk. It could have been a bomb.
But it wasn't. It's phenomenal, one of the best original creations I have ever made.
1 cup steel cut oats
2 cups water
2 cups alternative milk, I used unsweetened almond milk
2 small very ripe bananas (fresh or frozen), cut into 1/2" slices
1/4 cup partially defatted, unsweetened coconut (I get this at Whole Foods and my local Indian Market)
2 cups frozen pineapple chunks
1 Tbsp coconut extract
optional: sweetener-8 drops NuNaturals Liquid Vanilla Stevia drops (or to taste) or 1 Tbsp maple syrup
Place all ingredients into a large pot (I use a stock pot to avoid the boiling over that always occurs with a sauce pan). Bring to a boil.
Lower to simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, for 40 minutes.
Taste. You may not need any additional sweetener. Sweetened with liquid stevia (I used 8 drops) or maple syrup if desired.
Do you like pina coladas? Or do they totally turn you off?
Good morning! I'm so excited for the weekend ahead because I have almost NO plans. That means lots of time in the kitchen and behind the camera, which is total fun for me.
Last weekend we had four families over to our house for a pot luck. I wanted to make sure that there was one "alternative" dessert that was "relatively" healthy. And who doesn't love a blondie? So I decided to go out on a limb and adapt a dessert recipe that had beans in it. My track record with beans in baked goods has been pretty hit or miss. Sometimes I like the results, other times, not so much. But the recipe was so intriguing, I had to at least give it a try.
I also decided to keep the portions bite sized (well, maybe 2 or three bites), because even though I eliminated the oil and used the least processed form of sugar on the market (sucanat), I find it's easier to manage my own sweet tooth when portions are small and predetermined.
1 cup quick oats
2 cans canellini or garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups organic sucanat (it sounds like a lot, but it's only 1/2 Tbsp per "bite")
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup vegan chocolate chips
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Prepare 2 (or 4 if you have that many) 12 cup mini muffin pans by lightly spraying with nonstick cooking spray. If you don't have mini muffin pans, use a 9"x13" baking pan.
Place all ingredients into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the "s" blade and process until "smooth." (It may not get totally smooth, but the ingredients should be well blended.) Right into the food processor bowl, stir in the chocolate chips.
Spoon 1 Tbsp of batter into each cup. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Remove bites from pan (they will be gooey on the inside), spray pan with non-stick spray and refill muffin cups with second half of batter. Bake for 20 minutes.
If you don't have mini muffin pans, spread batter into a greased 9"x13" baking pan and bake for at least 25 minutes (I haven't done this method myself, so I don't know an exact baking time, but it will be significantly longer).
The results were a success! Everyone liked these blondie bites (kids and adults), but not in a way where you would just want to keep eating one after another (if you know what I mean). I'd say they are a safe way to go if you want to bake a sweet treat.
One thing that I have found over the past many months experimenting with healthier baking has been that I can eliminate all of the oil or butter or Earth Balance in any baked good with no ill effect. I simply substitute all of the oil in a 1:1 ratio with unsweetened apple sauce, even if there is already apple sauce in the recipe. This has never failed me. I keep individual unsweetened apple sauce containers in stock in my kitchen (my kids love them) and each one is 1/2 cup. I never have a half-eaten jar hanging around my refrigerator growing mold.
My next experiments are going to revolve around eliminating the sugar in baked goods. The nice people over at NuNaturals sent me the most generous box of their products to test and try and I just can't wait. There's a virgin donut pan in my baking drawer just calling my name!
But what is going on with you? Where are you on this journey?What is coming easy to you? What are you struggling with?
No matter what is going on with you and your food, I hope you are not beating yourself up over it.
Nope, there's no yummy recipe here for pudding. Rather, a letter I received from an HGK reader that provides me with a whole lot of good feelings. I wanted to share it with all of you.
"Hi Wendy, Just wanted to thank you for an awesome, awesome blog. At this point, I don't even remember how I came to find your blog -- the most important part is that I did! I read 'Eat To Live' back in October, a few months ago. I have high cholesterol (even though I'm 29) and have for most of my life. I hover around a 25 BMI, so I'm not overweight, and at 5'9" I carry it all pretty well. After reading E2L, I starting planning for January when I was going to begin the 6-week aggressive program. So, it was around this time, I started looking for resources, recipes, etc. I found your blog and started reading the backlog of posts, and joined the Yahoo! group for E2L. I used these few months to get prepared, finding recipes or ideas that would work for me. Finally, on January 3rd, I started the 6-week program. I had gone for blood work the week before. On Saturday, February 11th, I went back for my 40-day blood work and got the results today. I am ecstatic!
December 28, 2011: Total Cholesterol - 233 LDL - 149 Triglycerides - 184
February 11, 2012 (after 40 days of Eating to Live): Total Cholesterol - 159 LDL - 105 Triglycerides - 43
I am also down about 15lbs. in 40 days, too! (with my BMI now below 23) What an added bonus to this healthful way of living! I just wanted to say thank you for the ideas, the motivation, and the support -- even though you didn't even know I was reading. You are inspirational! I look forward to your blog every day!
Take care, nicole"
There you have it. The power of real, good food. It's stories like this that keep me inspired to keep eating this way and to keep blogging about it. Thank YOU for sharing Nicole!
You guys totally rock! Your advice to HGK reader-in-need in my last post just totally blew my mind.
Today I want to talk about something less serious, or not: cabbage.
Cabbage is ridiculously good for you. Dr. Fuhrman writes in Super Immunity, "Cruciferous vegetables are not only the most powerful anticancer foods in existence; they are also the most micronutrient-dense of all vegetables."
You can find out all about the health benefits of cabbage here and here. Cabbage is probably something, in one variety or another, that should be in your shopping cart every single week.
We get the maximum benefit from eating cruciferous vegetables raw. But that's not always palatable to some people. Raw broccoli, raw Brussels Sprouts, raw kohlrabi? But cabbage, most of us are used to eating that raw in a slaw. Phew!
This slaw is delicious as a side dish for any Mexican meal. But there are lots of ways to incorporate a slaw into a dish. One thing that I really find tasty is a wrap sandwich with slaw as one of the major ingredients.
In these wraps, I used the following components:
steamed tempeh (2 8-ounce packages cut into large strips and steamed for 5 minutes) that I mashed and then mixed with green enchilada sauce (1 15-ounce can)
a homemade roasted vegetable spread with Mexican seasoning (optional)
Mexican Slaw (above)
whole wheat lavash (the wraps)
Do you make cabbage a regular part of your diet? What is your favorite way to eat cabbage?
Good morning! I hope you all had a restful and fun weekend. I spend a lot of my weekend thinking (while I was cooking, of course!) about this e-mail that I received a few days ago from an HGK reader:
"Just checking back in for a little advice. I wrote you a few weeks ago. I was so enthused and have been eating all plant based food. Unfortunately, a lot of frozen Amy meals, and Whole food stuff that is prepared. So, I am gaining weight. Yikes!! I am bummed.
I was hoping I could just get 'quick' stuff that I could grab on the run that was plant-based. Well, I see this isn't going to be a quick fix. I really was hoping for quick foods that won't stress me out with constant chopping, and time in the kitchen.
Does the weight loss only come if you are following a plan and counting portion sizes of grains and starchy vegetables? Probably no pre-packaged tofu dishes from Whole Foods, right?
I didn't want to have to put even more time into it with cooking AND planning out portion sizes, etc. I am sure it is the increased carbs that are doing it. Easy to grab a Cliff bar or Luna bar for a snack in the afternoon or breakfast on the run. But, lots of carbs. Eating big chunks of raw veggies on the run is not remotely appealing. Ugh. Are there any easy, low maintenance ways to get all I need on the run without all the fat and carbs?
I could use some motivation. I was so excited. But now it's even more work with my husband wanting me to make sure he has something for almost every meal. And he isn't satisfied with just veggies and rice. I almost don't want him to eat all plant-based with me and go back to normal easy to prepare food for the kids. But, he wants to eat healthy, too.
I need a chef. ;0) Is it worth it to find a nutritionist? Are the plant-based ones hard to find? If you have a moment, I would love to hear your comments. It sounds like you have been at this awhile with your family."
Here's some more pertinent information about this reader: She has three children, all of which she home schools. They are age 8, 11 and 14. The reader is never home alone to do quiet meal preparation. About 6-10 hours per week are spent carpooling her kids.
Weekends are very busy with picking up [the house], running errands for school projects, sports events, church, and visiting family every Sunday. Sometimes she goes to the gym with her husband on Saturday morning, or a bike ride with her family. She occasionally gets together with friends, goes to a movie, or shopping. She also runs to the grocery store a few times a week.
What's my advice? Priorities and Healthy Fear
First, the issue of counting or measuring food. I do not count or measure anything on this plan, but I do avoid a long list of foods. Foods like Cliff Bars are on my "do not eat list." I have this expression, "Just because it's vegan doesn't mean it's healthy." I learned how to properly read a nutrition label on packaged foods in the book The Engine 2 Diet by Rip Esselstyn. That was a game changer for me. I saw that almost nothing in a package can be considered healthy. You can read more on that here.
Shopping at Whole Foods is a wonderful thing, but you do need to have a healthy level of skepticism when you go there. Most of what is being sold at Whole Foods is not on this plan. Stick to vegetables, fruit, whole grains, beans and legumes most of the time. Tofu, tempeh and seitan are fine, but not every day. For me, about once a week with those products is enough. I stick with huge salads, large bowls of soup, oatmeal for breakfast, green smoothies when I am in the mood, and other vegan dishes that are carefully prepared according to plan.
I make all of our salad dressings from scratch. I only do this once a week. It's fast, easy and much healthier and cheaper than bottled salad dressings. I prepare large volumes of salad at one time so that I don't have to do that every day. I cook a huge pot of soup on the weekend and we eat it throughout the week and freeze some too. Same goes for other cooked vegan food. I have developed a ton of strategies, to lessen my time in the kitchen. I too am never at home without one child or another needing my attention. So it actually takes me twice as long to prepare anything as someone without small children. But I never let that stop me from getting healthy food prepared.
I get the feeling that your children's education is one of the highest priorities in your life. That is a beautiful and commendable thing. But what about their health and the health of you and your husband? How important is it to you that your family lives long and healthy lives? In my mind, that is at least equally as important as your children's education (I happen to take this stuff very seriously). In fact, I would like to propose that teaching your children about truly healthy food and the preparation of it on a day to day basis is more important than almost any traditional school subject.
Would it be possible to weave this into their education? Do you get to chose the books that they read? Could you and your oldest children read Eat to Live by Dr. Fuhrman? Or Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn? Your 8 year old might be able to read The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael Pollan.
How about engaging your children in the actual food preparation once they have a basic understanding of the importance of avoiding all processed food? Again, is there a way to make it part of their curriculum? Could the kids be responsible for more household chores while you cook? Could your older two do their own laundry and pick-up the house? You are going to have to get creative!
You don't need a nutritionist. But what I think you need is a healthy fear of the future. Read everything you can about plant based nutrition. Make it one of the highest priorities in your life. You will never regret it.
You don't have to do it all at once. Let go of perfection, it is the enemy of the good. Just start by doing one good thing for the health of your family every day. You'll be surprised where that takes you.
I could go on and on, but I have to start making my kid's lunches! HGK reader, I know you can do this! Give it time to become a normal part of your life and NEVER EVER give up.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I contacted TofuXpress and asked for a free gizmo to test and review. I have wanted one of these for a while. Not that I use tofu all of the time, but when I do, it really bugs me to waste all of those paper towels trying to press the water out.
Am I happy that I did that. This small piece of kitchen equipment solves not only the wasted paper towel problem, the amount of water that you can press out of the tofu is dramatically increased, greatly influencing the flavor of the final product. The more water out, the more marinade in!
These things are not cheap. But at $39.95 each, considering that they are a small, independent company designing and marketing them (as opposed to a company like Kitchen Aid or Cuisinart), I believe it's a fair price. You won't regret this purchase if you like properly prepared tofu.
Lately I've been into this Organic Sprouted Tofu from Trader Joe's. I have no idea if it's healthier than regular tofu, do you?
I press my firm or extra firm tofu, cut it into cubes, marinate it for a few hours or overnight and then bake it at 400 degrees for between 20 and 40 minutes.
After baking-the texture is perfect. Nothing like you would expect when you hear the word "tofu!" A little crunchy, a little chewy and full of flavor.
Very interesting discussion going on in my last post about giving unsolicited nutritional advice to our friends and family that are suffering from food born illnesses. The consensus is: don't do it. Better to have them come to us than risk that our concern be taken the wrong way or push people away. Lead by example, but it's easier said than done!
Here's an example of a plant strong dessert that probably will leave them asking for more healthy options. It's really an idea, not so much a recipe, because it's that simple. Thank you to Lindsay Bruner, the Whole Foods Healthy Eating Specialist from Kentucky, who suggested serving the roasted pears with banana soft serve.
(1) Roast pears at 400 degrees. I recommend spraying the bottom of your cookie sheet with canola oil spray and also lightly dusting the tops of the pears with spray too. You can season the pears with cinnamon, but you don't have to.
(2) Keep an eye on the pears and when they look carmelized and soft, they're done. About 40 minutes.
(3) Serve as is, or with frozen banana soft serve.Place chunks of frozen bananas along with a splash of alternative milk of your choice in a high powered blender or food processor and blend, scraping down sides and tamping mixture down as necessary, until mixture resembles soft serve ice cream. Serve immediately.
I love it when I make a new recipe and I just know that it is going to become a favorite. That's what happened this morning as I was testing and preparing things for a Super Bowl party this evening at my next-door-neighbor's house. I picked out four recipes last week that I figured I could whip up in a few hours (I totally underestimated and I ended up being in the kitchen for most of the day). Three that I had never tried before, and one that was a complete winner from last year's Plant-strong Super Bowl Party.
I have mentioned many times here on HGK that I absolutely adore Indian food. So it really is no surprise that I think this dip rocks. "Saag" is one of two Indian words that I know of that means "spinach" ("palak" is the other). This spinach and avocado dip is bursting with Indian flavors, plus it has the advantage of being a very quick and simple recipe that involves no cooking. I can't wait to bring it to the party and see what everyone else thinks!
But it's not all good news. One of the dishes that I prepared, "fudgey" truffles made with black beans, dates, oatmeal, flax, chia seed, cacao, dried apricots and chocolate chips is almost too weird for me to be able to comfortably serve it to a non-Nutritarian crowd. It's staying home for the night. I'll be letting my kids eat these for breakfast.
How is/was your Super Bowl? Is it going to be/was it Plant-strong?
Have you ever made anything new and then decided not to serve it to other people?
I overheard an interesting conversation at the party last night. One of my neighbors was telling another neighbor (who happens to be a Urologist) that she is suffering terribly from kidney stones. She said it was the worst pain she had ever experienced in her entire life, far worse than giving birth. She said that the doctor who treated her said that she was eating too much sugar and too much salt (impressive) and prescribed her a medication.
The urologist did not comment at all about the dietary recommendation and said something to the tune of "Just take your medication." I kept waiting for a discussion about the benefits of a healthy diet to ensue, but got nothing. In fact, the woman who has the kidney stones brought what might have been the single most unhealthy dish I have ever laid eyes on to the pot luck (something about a slab of cream cheese, chicken from a can, and blue cheese?). Of course I wanted to say something, but it would have come out all wrong. It pains me to see people suffering from food borne illness who do not know the power of nutritional excellence.
I mentioned a few weeks ago that I rediscovered the Chia Seed and along with it, the Internet recipe sensation Vegan Overnight Oats. With the help and guidance of my new friend Lani Muelrath, I quickly saw that Vegan Overnight Oats cannot become an everyday breakfast option for me (too high in calories) but as a treat on the weekend, maybe even lunch on Saturday, well, they're perfect!
This version combines my some of my all time favorite flavors--mint and chocolate--with the creamy, chewy taste sensation that is VOO. Plus, with the addition of 1 cup of frozen spinach, we can get more greens in our bodies. It's a win-win situation!
1/2 scoop Amazing Grass Green Superfood Chocolate Drink Powder or 1/2 Tbsp raw cacao
1 tsp maple syrup
1/8 tsp peppermint extract
1 large frozen banana or 1 1/2 small frozen bananas
1 cup frozen spinach
splash of alternative milk
1/8 tsp peppermint extract
In a small bowl, whisk together all ingredients for layer A and refrigerate overnight or for 1 hour.
In the morning, prepare layer B by placing all of the ingredients into the canister of a high speed blender or the bowl of a food processor fitted with the S blade. If using the blender, blend the ingredients and tamp them down until the mixture is even and creamy. (This takes a few minutes as the spinach is more difficult to blend than banana alone.) If using a food processor, process and stop to scrape down the sides often until the mixture is even and creamy.
Layer the overnight oats mixture with the banana soft serve and eat immediately.
Did anyone catch the premiere of Fat Chef on The Food Network?
Ironically, the first episode took place in Cleveland, OH (where I live). In my opinion, it was pretty painful to watch. First, my heart was bleeding for the two "contestants" who were totally out of control with their diets. Fried food, fast food, candy and cookies, day in and day out. The male chef, Rocco Whalen, owner of Farenheit Restaurant, was consuming 8000 calories per day. The female, Kimberly McCune Gibson, 5000. Of pure garbage.
But the worst was the diet recommendations that the trainer on the show gave them. IMHO, they were totally unsustainable in the long run and only set people up for ultimate failure at keeping weight off. And it's not just about the two chefs on the show, it's about all of the thousands of people watching the show and hoping to discover the key to being healthy.
What were the weight loss recommendations on Fat Chef? Eat small meals of lean (ie animal) protein and vegetables every four hours. Oh, that, and exercise ridiculous amounts every week, which is totally unsustainable in real life (like when the cameras stop following you 12 weeks later).
Sure, a person being followed by cameras can stick to this plan for 12 weeks, and they would pretty much guarantee a major weight loss, but WHAT ABOUT THE REST OF THEIR LIVES? Do the producers of the show even care?
No mention of high volumes of low calorie plant foods like salads, smoothies (not talking about the fruit laden ones here, just the truly green ones), soups, sauteed greens, beans or whole grains. Just some pork and steamed cauliflower with a side of celery sticks.
In Rocco's own words, "Thanksgiving sucked," he says bluntly, "but it put me to the test at the hardest time of year. And the carefree side of things, carefree in eating whatever I like. I miss that, too. Being able to eat a poached pear with softly melting blue cheese over it, topped with a port wine drizzle, and being able to enjoy some whenever I wanted to . . . "
That is no way to live!
Thanksgiving shouldn't "suck!" Come to my house for a plant based, no-oil Thanksgiving!
You don't need to be hungry all of the time in order to lose weight. You don't need to punish your body with exercise.
It's unsustainable (Rocco says he's now working out two hours a day. Holy sh!#.). Why is the real knowledge about these issues being kept from people?
And what about the customers that these two unhealthy chefs serve their disease promoting food to day in and day out? Are they changing their menus as a result of this intervention? Do they see food in a different way? If they did, they would certainly want to share that knowledge with their customers. Outrageously delicious, healthy, low calorie food does not have to come in small packages, but I don't think that either of the chefs learned that from their experience on the show.
I'd like to follow up with these two chefs and see how they are doing maintaining their weight loss after the taping was over. Oh, I live in Cleveland, I guess I can hunt them down!