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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
I realize that very few of the HGK readership celebrates the Jewish holiday of Passover, so please bear with us on this one. In the last few days I have gotten so many requests from readers asking for no-oil Vegan recipes for Passover. This is very new territory folks, and we are the pioneers!
It's not that hard to find Vegan recipes for Passover on the Internet, but it is totally impossible to find no-oil Vegan recipes. Everything is going to have to be adapted, so I hope you guys all have your thinking caps on. I am asking everyone who is Jewish to chime in here with ideas and suggestions for how you are going to prepare your Passover Seder food this year.
The Passover rules are as follows:In addition to avoiding leavened bread, Jews are also supposed to avoid foods made with wheat, barley, rye, spelt or oats - unless those foods are labeled "kosher for Passover." All five of these forbidden grains are collectively called "chametz." (Pronounced ha-mets.) By the way, did you notice how much whole wheat Matzoh is on the shelves at Whole Foods?
Greetings everyone! I'm writing from New Jersey, where my kids and I are visiting with my parents for Spring Break. I didn't quite know whether or not I would be up for blogging while I was here, and what I have found is that I need a mental vacation! So I'm using this time to catch up on my sleep and some well needed down time.
But before I sign off for the rest of the week, here are two more recipes for those awesome Chia Seed salad dressings. Enjoy!
An Interview with Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr., M.D. by Mark Huberman
“On Wednesday, January 18, 2012, my wife Wanda and I (along with my 93 years young mom, Ruth) had the privilege of hosting a dinner for the renowned Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and his dynamic wife, Ann. They were in town prior to Dr. Esselstyn delivering a lecture at Youngstown State University (YSU) sponsored by the University’s Wellness Program. For those of you who attended the NHA Conference at the Regency Health Spa in 2009, you know what an incredibly thoughtful, highly motivated and distinguished physician he is and the extraordinary respect he enjoys in the progressive health movement. He spoke to a sold-out crowd at the University and left them inspired. While sitting in the audience, I was struck by how Sheltonian he is in his views and decided to interview him the following morning for Health Science — so that all of you could discover how in tune he is with the message our association has been teaching for over 60 years. If you ever have the opportunity to see him in person, don’t miss the chance. If you can’t, check out his website www.heartattackproof.com or read his book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. He is truly one of us!”
My late father used to say that most people don’t worry about their health until after they have lost it. Did that apply to you or were you one of the fortunate ones who were able to recognize the wisdom of another way of thinking about health and wellness without having to go through a personal crisis?
A few weeks ago, Debby, The Healthy Librarian, did a post about a new idea that she had: using Chia Seed as the thickener in salad dressings instead of nuts. Debby calls them "Crazy" dressings because the concept is so out there, so different, that she thinks it's crazy. But once word of these dressings gets out, no one is going to be calling them crazy.
So many of us are trying to limit the volume of nuts that we eat, either keeping it to an ounce or two per day (a la Dr. Fuhrman's recommendations) or eliminating most nuts altogether (a la Dr. Esselstyn's recommendations). And many, if not most, oil-free salad dressings contain either nuts in their whole form, or tahini, which is ground sesame seeds.
So of course I was intrigued by the idea of a dressing thickened by chia. It's not that chia is calorie or fat free, it's not. It's just that the fat that is in chia is the uber healthy and rare kind--omega 3.
Thank you to everyone who left a comment on my last post about what kids eat. It seems like many of us are in the same boat, fighting to feed our children food that we know is healthier and meeting with a lot of resistance. We all agree, we will keep trying and keep pushing matter how difficult it is, because we understand the importance of real food. The magic seems to be in letting go of the idea that the children are going to eat what the adults are eating and just keeping their meals very simple-whole fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, nuts and seeds. My oldest daughter's new breakfast of choice is a banana plus an ounce of walnuts and almonds. That makes us both very happy.
Here's a recipe that is out-of-this-world. But your kids wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole. And that's good, because it means there's more of it for you!
Asking the HGK Community to respond to reader questions are quickly becoming my favorite kind of blog posts.
A few days ago, I received this question from a reader, "I have recently started the LEAN program by Dr Fuhrman through my gym and have already seen results and feeling better. But I am hitting a road block not finding recipes I and my family will enjoy. I also have a feed 5 so I am hoping your blog helps me with this issue."
I am so sorry! I feel like I have been disconnected from you for days. Sometimes life gets so busy that I have no time to read all of the other blogger's blogs that I adore, let alone take photographs of the food that I am making, type up the recipes and blog about it. I hope you will bear with me during this busy time in my life.
Today I want to blog about something that I have been working on for a while: Carrot Halwa. It's a delicious dessert that you might find at an Indian restaurant, but it would be full of butter or oil, milk and sugar. Not so with my version, which I think tastes better to boot!
My girlfriends and I went to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania for a one night girls' weekend this past Saturday and Sunday. You're probably thinking, "Pittsburgh? Why Pittsburgh?"
Well, it's a short two hour drive from Cleveland, for one.
And two, hmmmm, I can't even think of number two.
Turns out Pittsburgh has a lot of cool stuff going on. Gorgeous old neighborhoods with beautiful architecture, a really awesome warehouse district with loads of ethnic grocery stores, produce stands, imported stuff, a local version of Sur la Table (loved that place!), and an Ikea.
We didn't even have time to tour The Andy Warhol Museum, which gets rave reviews. Next time, I guess. There will be a next time. I liked Pittsburgh.
Except for the food--not a lot of Vegan food going on in Pittsburgh, and forget about finding Plant-strong fare. I did my best with what was available.
But there was this one place. We heard it was the best restaurant in town. And they always have some Vegan options. It is called Salt of the Earth, and it did not disappoint. One of the most fun restaurant experiences I have ever had. Phenomenal creative cocktails, warm and welcoming wait staff and cooks, an open kitchen (if you ever wonder what goes in to great tasting restaurant food, I highly suggest watching an open kitchen--you will never be the same again. The amount of butter and salt that is added to the food is simply astonishing), and ONE Vegan menu option! Hurrah!
I ate an amazing Beet and Frisee salad. And the Seitan dish I ordered with Broccoli Kim Chi and Wild Rice Porridge was outstanding and unusual. And no butter! I forgot to click this picture until I had already eaten a lot of it, so I'm sorry, it doesn't look very pretty.
But after this past weekend, I need some recovery food. And this soup is the perfect prescription. Just like Grandma used to make, only without the cow, or the oil!
1 medium-large green cabbage, cut into 4, core removed and cut
into about 1 ½” sq. chunks
2 onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup maple syrup
Juice of one lime
Pepper to taste
salt (or not)
Place a large heavy pot over medium heat. Bring water and
tomatoes to a boil.
Add cabbage and onions.
Lower heat to medium-low and cook for 25 minutes.
Add bay leaf, maple syrup, lime juice, salt (or not), and
pepper. Stir well and cover. Cook for at least another 45 minutes to one hour, stirring
occasionally, until cabbage is very soft.
Have you traveled lately? What has your experience been finding Plant-strong food? Comments are welcome and encouraged! To get to the comments section, please click on the title of this post (the orange text above).
I want to thank every one who took the time to comment on my last post about The Pleasure Trap. Your comments REALLY help me to figure things out in my head. As much as I blog because I want to help other people find their way in this crazy mess of a food world, blogging helps me to stay the course, even though that course may be rocky from time to time. Being someone who is public about my struggle with food is one of the hardest things I have ever done. But it's also one of the most rewarding. I honestly do not know where I would be without HGK, because I would have no real accountability. With HGK, I am accountable to all of you, every day, and that is a very good thing for me.
This guy choose another path to go down with his food addictions. The nicest thing I can sayabout this video is that at least he was honest.
Was. He's dead now, age 29.
It's not funny anymore, is it?
Thank you to everyone who left comments on my last post with your food movie recommendations. I have added all of the available movies to my Netflix queue and look forward to watching them all. The first one that I just HAD to see was Rip Esselstyn's Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue, so I watched it this morning at 4:45 am, if you can believe it. I'll save my thoughts on this video for another post.
Why? Because something interesting kinda popped up on the Internet a few days ago. It seems that Lindsay Nixon (The Happy Herbivore) had the brilliant idea of forming a book club. Our peep Natala Constantine over at The Engine 2 Blog thought it was a great idea and blogged about it too.
The first book Lindsay chose? The Pleasure Trap, Mastering the Hidden Force that Undermines Health and Happiness by Douglas J. Lisle, PhD. and Alan Goldhamer, D.C.
Well, there you go Lindsay, sucking me in to another project! I've been wanting to read this book for what seems like forever, so I couldn't resist ordering my own copy from Amazon. I was pretty stoked when it arrived unexpectedly the next day. I started reading almost immediately.
As best as I can, I am going to share my experience of reading this book with you. If I start to think that you are getting bored, as sometimes starts to happen with projects like this, I might stop talking about it. But I can't say where this will go, other than I'm starting right now.
The author proposes that people are motivated by three general things: to seek pleasure, to avoid pain and to conserve energy. Why? Because these three things "encourage behaviors that are associated with survival and reproduction." It's all embedded into the design of every living creature.
I'm just guessing here, but I think as the book plays out we will come to understand why those three motivations have conspired against us in the modern age and have caused the epidemic of obesity and poor health. And I'm also going to guess that Dr. Lisle is going to give us coping strategies for modern times so that we don't need to be another statistic.
But I'm getting way ahead of us.
Back to the beginning. The first thing that really struck me was this sentence in Chapter 2, "Very often, in both human and animal life, the rewards of pleasure are not immediate. Pleasure requires work, effort, skill development, and risky competition."
So motivation cannot be sustained by pleasure seeking alone. We need to know if we are on the right path to achieving pleasure, we need signals. Enter our moods, happiness or unhappiness. Moods "work like the clues in a treasure hunt." They are subtle feelings, but they keep us going (or they stop us) in our hunt for treasure.
For me, and I think all humans, one treasure is achieving and easily maintaining a healthy weight.
But biologically, the treasure of food consumption causes pleasure also. "Pleasure was designed as the unmistakable signal of success for reaching survival and/or reproductive goals." If we don't eat, we are going to starve and if that happens, we won't be surviving, let alone reproducing.
It made me think of how difficult it has been for me over the past year to remain "plant perfect." There was a time when it was very easy. Some might have even labeled me as"orthorexic." A label that I would glad wear today considering how difficult it is for me now to make the best choices day in and day out.
"Happiness is not a final destination." You don't get there and stay there forever. But happiness signals to us that we are on the right track. We can get happiness from being productive, from being with friends, from feeling secure, and from feeling relief (amongst others).
At the time when I was really "on it" (and that did last a good, long while) I was very focused on the happiness that I got from eating plant-perfectly, even though the pleasure and the rewards were not immediate ones. I always had in the front of my mind all of the great reasons why I was eating so plant-perfectly. I derived a ton of happiness from making good decisions about food and the thought that someday in the future I would be rewarded with the size body that I wanted and good health.
As time went by, the good happy feeling that I got from saying "no" to the wrong foods faded a little. It didn't fade entirely, but it wasn't front and center. So it became easy to have a bite of this or that, and then a piece of this or that, and then two of this or that. Because the rewards of eating the wrong foods are so immediate (and oh-so-short lived!).
And now I can see how the mindset of happiness of plant-perfection has gotten somewhat away from me. Enough to cause me pain (emotionally). So I want my old plant-perfect, orthorexic-if-you-will, mindset back. It worked very well for me and had no downside other than some wisecracking friends and family. And that is why I'm very interested in reading this book and discussing it with all of you.
If you'd like to read this book along with us, may I suggest that you order a copy here? A teeny weeny bit of the money goes to help support HGK!
Do I sound like a nut case? Am I making any sense here? Thoughts? To leave a comment or see the comments section of this blog, please click on the title of this post (the orange text above).
My husband and I have been resisting signing up for Netflix for years. A combination of not enough time to watch movies and already paying for subscription movie channels, like HBO, with DIRECTV for movies we hardly ever watched made it seem really silly.
But then we got some technology sorted out in our house that made it possible for the WiFi signal to reach the room that our Wii is in (the playroom). And when my kids asked me over the weekend if they could sign up for Netflix I was like, "What the heck!"
You see, it's been gnawing at me for years that I have missed seeing many of the important movies about food that have been made in the past ten years. Food, Inc., Fast Food Nation, FoodMatters. Missed them all. Having young kids at home is not conducive to movie viewing in any way, shape or form. Unless you are comfortable paying $70 a pop for you and your beloved to go to the movies.
Why do I care so much? Because I consider time watching these movies to be time very well spent. An insurance policy against falling back into my old eating patterns if you will. Case in point: two nights ago Sophia (my 12 year old) and I started watching FoodMatters. The movie has a big emphasis on the disease prevention qualities in raw vegetables and fruit. Mid-movie Sophia asked me, "Mom, is this real?"
To which I replied, "Yes, it is."
Next morning she grabbed an apple instead of a cereal bar. That night she asked me to make her a smoothie--with greens. When I thought that the smoothie that I made for us had too much of a green taste for her palate (in the past, she would have rejected it), imagine my surprise when she told me she loved it. And could I remember how I made it so that I could make it again for her?
I believe in the power of the mind. I believe that if we fill our brain with the right messages, making better food choices becomes so very much easier.
And who doesn't need a good kick-in-the-pants every now and then?
I certainly can use one. So my food movie dry spell is over!
Before getting NetFlix, I had seen Forks Over Knives, May I be Frank, Fat Sick and Nearly Dead, and Got the Facts on Milk. Check off FoodMatters as of last night.
What movies have I missed? What movies have you seen that have had the largest impact on your eating choices? What changes did you make after seeing a particular movie?
To leave a comment or see the comments section of this blog, please click on the title of this post (the orange text above).
This past Friday marked my husband Randy's 49th birthday. We're not a big consumer gift giving couple, and he always says that he doesn't need anything, so I stopped asking a long time ago. What do you do for the birthday of a wonderful guy who doesn't have wants? You cook for him, and invite his oldest an bestest friends over to share the bounty.
It's a risk, because the friends aren't Vegan or even Plant-strong. But I'm a risk taker when it comes to entertaining, so our menu went as follows:
Trader Joe's Horseradish Hummus. You must try this, it's unbelievable.
Sweet-n-sour Cabbage Soup. My business partner, Chris-Anna, and I have been eating this soup at our local famous deli for years and years. I know there's a ton of sugar in it, and I suspect there's some cow in there too (needless to say, there's not many foods on their menu that I would touch anymore with a ten foot pole). Chris-Anna set out to no-oil-veganize it after this soup came up in conversation in our Pilates class a few weeks ago. I think she nailed it.
Chef Aj's Disappearing Lasagna Truth be told, I screwed it up. I never thought that leaving this it in the oven on warm after it had cooked was going to be a bad thing, but it was. It overcooked.
I simply eliminated the oil, doubled the vinegar, and used 1/2 cup parsley instead of 2 tablespoons. Oh, and I only had red onion in the house, so I used that instead of Vidalia onion. I guess it's my recipe now! I thought it was super easy, refreshing and just fantastic. It's likely to reappear at my dinner parties.
Jane Esselstyn's Superfood Salad. It's a recipe that's been circulating around Cleveland for a few months. An incredible amalgamation of greens, cabbage, fruits and nuts all topped off with a tasty dressing. I'm not sure if this one is available for publication yet, so I'll take the safe road and just tell you how wonderful it is. Sorry!
And last but not least, my new Baked Acorn Squash with Maple Orange Glaze. I had a lot of acorn squash hanging around and I wanted one more dish to round out the menu. So without really knowing what the results would be, I put it together. I took a last minute risk and it totally paid off. This recipe is a repeater! (Unlike a lot of my experiments that have failed lately. I don't blog about all of the recipe fails--you might hear about them on my Facebook page.)
But like I have to constantly remind myself, it's about the friends and not the food. It was a great evening. Fun was had by all. And a dinner party was a great gift for a great guy who doesn't need anything, except for the love of family and friends.
Baked Acorn Squash with Maple Orange Glaze
3 acorn squashes, medium sized
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup frozen orange juice concentrate
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tbsp dried cranberries
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Prepare two cookie sheets by lining them with aluminum foil and spraying that lightly with cooking oil spray.
Carefully cut the stem end and the pointy bottom end off of each acorn squash. Lay the squashes on their stem end, which is now flat, and cut each squash in half vertically. Remove seeds with a metal spoon. Lay squashes on their cut side (which now looks like a big "O") and slice squash into half circles, approximately 1/4"-1/2" thick. Place cut squash in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, combine maple syrup, water, orange juice concentrate, salt, thyme and pepper. Whisk marinade until orange juice concentrate is melted.
Pour marinade over squash and gently toss. Place all rings onto prepared baking sheets (pack em in like puzzle pieces). Reserve extra marinade for later. Bake for 45 minutes to one hour, rotating cookie sheets a few times throughout the baking to ensure both sheets bake evenly). Squash are ready for the next step when you touch them with your finger and they are very soft but not mushy.
Lower your oven temperature to 225 degrees. Transfer all squash to a small baking dish (approximately 8" by 8" or 9" by 9") in layers. Pour reserved marinade over squash and sprinkle with dried cranberries. Cover with aluminum foil and put back into your oven until you are ready to serve, but at least 30 minutes.
To leave a comment or see the comments section of this blog, please click on the title of this post (the orange text above).