Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Savory Oats ... wait 'til you see the nutrition!


Dan was in a bit of a rush this morning so he wanted me to make his usual banana, kale and walnut smoothie to get him out of the house more quickly and I was happy to oblige.

I also made him a liter of fresh veggie and fruit juice with some leftover over for me to have throughout the day like Dan does at work.

One thing I have been forgetting to mention for days is that I have started added two Brazil nuts to Dan’s daily serving of trail mix for their selenium content. Since he isn’t eating walnut butter with Brazil nuts everyday like he used to I decided that I needed to add the Brazil nuts into his diet somewhere else. If you want to read more about selenium check out this post.

After Dan left for work and I was through exercising I decided to make myself another bowl of savory oatmeal. It was a cool morning and I knew this would hit the spot. I also wanted to see the nutritional statistics on the dish so I plugged them into the program this morning. I thought I would share the specifics in case anyone is interested besides me. Here is what I did:

Cheezy Broccoli and Tomato Oatmeal
Serves 1


½ cup oats
1 cup water
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 ½ cups broccoli, finely chopped
2 Roma tomatoes, diced
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon salsa
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
1 tablespoon walnut parmesan
1 tablespoon salty crispy leeks


Combine the oats and water and cook until thick. Add the nutritional yeast and stir to evenly distribute. Cook until the broccoli is the texture you like. Add the diced Roma tomatoes and cook a minute to heat them through. Add additional water if you oatmeal gets too thick. Taste the oats and add black pepper to taste and add more nutritional yeast if you want a more cheezy flavor. Top with salsa, fresh parsley walnut parmesan, and crispy leeks.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 311.52
Calories From Fat (15%) - 47.63
Total Fat - 5.09g
Saturated Fat - 0.62g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 176.6mg
Potassium - 1402.91mg
Total Carbohydrates - 57.31g
Fiber - 18.17g
Sugar - 11.13g
Protein - 19.01g


I love the nutrition stats on this as well as the taste. It is a big, filling and tasty bowl of food for so few calories and fat grams. Did you notice the 18g of fiber and 19g of protein? Wow! Many variations of this will be showing up on my breakfast table when the weather is cool.

Additionally this serving of oatmeal contained 5,000+IU of vitamin A, 170mg of vitamin C, 190mg of calcium, 200mcg of folate, 270mcg of vitamin K, 340mg of phosphorus, 130mg of magnesium and 24mcg of selenium. Pretty impressive for something you can make in less than 5 minutes. I am so excited by the nutrition of this as well as its ability to keep me full for hours.

After the savory oatmeal breakfast I had a mug of double green tea with ascorbate C powder added after it had steeped for 10 minutes. I read in "Anticancer" that you get the maximum EGCG after brewing green tea for 10 minutes and then you should drink it within two hours of steeping to maximize the nutrition. Since reading that I have been trying to brew and drink my tea quickly.

The idea of adding ascorbate C powder came from a study I read that showed the EGCG stayed bioavailable longer with the vitamin C, allowing more of it to be absorbed. We drink green tea for its healthful properties so why not make the beverage as health giving as possible. That is my thought process anyway. ;-)


The oatmeal stayed with me so long I didn’t actually get hungry for lunch but I knew I needed to eat something because I hadn’t had much to eat today. Since I had fresh juice in the refrigerator I opted to pour myself a glass from this morning and have two Brazil nuts to go with the juice. I knew this wouldn’t stay with me a long as a meal but I can also get more fresh juice again when I get hungry.

Eating and Relationships:

It never occurred to me that changing what we ate would have an impact on our relationships but it did. My best friend of over a decade who is a low carb omnivore is the most supportive of all our friends. He works in healthcare as a hospital pharmacist and seems to understand why we made these changes. Beyond him our other friends have met our dietary changes with skepticism at best, and antagonism at worst. I have actually had friends with health problems tell me flat out they didn’t want to know what changes they could make because they weren’t going to make them. Then I have had other friends that tell me defiantly that a diet of moderation (including meat and cheese) with “judicious” use of olive oil is perfectly healthy. *sigh* This idea really kills me since there isn’t any good science to back this it up and I have looked for it.

I have literally spent thousands of hours over the last year and half reading everything I can get my hands on about nutrition, health, and cancer. The more I read the more certain I am that our diet is as healthful as I can make it. When I learn new things I incorporate them into our diet but those ideas are fewer and farther between now than they were at the beginning of my research project.

I wanted to mention the impact eating this way will have on your relationships because I was shocked when it happened. People that I thought were great friends now seem uncomfortable around us to the point that they seem to avoid us. I think it has to do with the fact that they don’t want to change their habits and that is why they don’t want to understand how unhealthy their habits actually are. This makes me very sad because I want everyone to understand the difference they can make in their life, and health and that it is as simple as what they eat. It makes me incredibly sad that I can’t seem to get through to the people that are/were the most important to me. =(

Why this diet and why now?:

I know when we were confronted with cancer the first thing I wanted to know from the oncologist was what we could do. He responded with, “There is nothing you can do other than moderate exercise”. Since that discussion I have learned there is much we can do, and we do it. I fell into that same trap everyone does asking their MD for nutrition advice. That was a big mistake. Thankfully I am not the sort of person that blindly believes whatever I am told or I read so I kept looking for answers. We love our oncologist but he is an MD not an RD (registered dietitian). We don’t ask him for dietary advice any longer. Oddly the surgical oncologist was much more open to the idea of nutrition playing a role in maintenance and recovery and encouraged us to keep doing what we were doing because it was helping. Since this younger MD spent some time at NCI (National Cancer Institute) we were happy to hear that he embraced what we were doing.

One thing you learn being around doctors is that there are as many opinions as there are doctors you talk to. In many cases medicine seems much more art than science. That was a tough concept for me at first because my background is finance where things are cut and dried. The entire concept of a gray area in terms of treatment made me very uncomfortable. I now know that it just the way it is. The best advice I can give anyone is that you should educate yourself about health and be the best health care consumer possible. Always do your homework, get a second opinion and don’t stop looking for answers or trying to help yourself.

I often think of something my pharmacist friend said to me probably a decade ago because I thought it was very profound and it never occurred to me but it is so obvious. “Don’t forget that 50% of all MD’s were in the bottom 50% of their class.” Yes there is a difference in the ability of doctors and the outcome of their patients. I know this better than anyone since my hospital department used to report those outcome statistics.

As many of you know who have been reading a long time even though I was a hospital controller until I retired early. However that means my healthcare background is finance not science. I was around healthcare/science but definitely on the periphery. Allopathic (western) doctors are great at treating acute problems (broken bones, bacterial infections, replacing a damaged joint, etc.) but they are not as great at dealing with chronic problems (heart disease and cancer). It seems to me that problems that take a long time to come on are obviously caused by how we are living our lives. In my mind what we put into our bodies is the biggest contributor to our health. When we are young the cumulative damage isn’t that much but by the time you are our ages (48 and 56) there is a lot of damage built up. In order to give our bodies some hope of repairing that prior damage we adopted the healthiest diet possible. Do I think everyone will do this? No way. I wish they would but I don’t believe most people want to change. They want to hold onto those habits they have had for a lifetime. I wish I could say I understand this but I don’t. Since I am not the type of person that avoids change it never occurred to me to not look for answers and make changes according to what I learned.

When we decided to change we made the leap from omnivore to vegan literally overnight. I figured we could do anything for a month and then see if there was any benefit. The health benefits were huge and quick. Watching Dan’s cholesterol go from 280 to 165 (or 155 I don’t remember which is correct now) in 3 weeks was all the evidence I needed to make this a lifestyle rather than a temporary situation. Giving up the olive oil and salt took much longer but did eventually happen. In the end our diet is mostly based on the theory behind Dr. Fuhrman’s “Eat to Live” and “Eat for Health” program. I say mostly because I have adapted things I have learned from other books and scienticific studies over the years.

Dan and I talk about how we feel all the time and both of us are convinced that we are more energetic now than we have been for decades. Pretty amazing stuff considering everything else we have going on. Even if we weren’t concerned about the cancer and this point we would both eat this way because we feel so much better. We both like going to the doctor now and seeing who has the better blood pressure and lab work. Who what expect that at our age? LOL


Given Dan’s schedule I always have a snack late afternoon to hold me over until our dinner. I had the rest of the fresh veggie and fruit juice I made this morning. This time I had a small amount of walnuts to healthy fat.

Changing the house with the seasons:

I like to make the house cozier when it is colder outside. This is one the reasons I have been more quiet lately. There has been too much time at our place changing the house. While this isn’t something I had time to do when I worked I think it is nice to have the house be cozy when it is cold and light and airy when it is hot outside. I hope to get finished with this project soon so I have more time to spend on the blog.


We had another big salad for dinner tonight. This one contained: shredded romaine, fresh cilantro, diced tomato, thinly sliced cucumber, thinly sliced carrot, avocado, salsa, walnut parmesan and dehydrated leek. I love having a big salad for dinner. It fills us up and best of all provides a lot of nutrition. What is not to like about that? ;-)

Signing out:

I have a few errands to run tomorrow so I won’t be on line until later in the day. I hope you have a nice evening and a good Wednesday. Talk to you again soon. Tomorrow I want to find time to make some healthy spreads with okara that I had in the freezer which is now defrosted.


  1. Ali,
    Great post. I will have to check out those two books by Fuhrman as I haven't done all the research regarding the elimination of oil and salt quite yet. The savory oatmeal sounds and looks wonderful. Can't wait to try it.

  2. Aimee,

    Thanks, I am happy you liked the post and appreciate you letting me know. :-)

    In terms of oil I think Dr. Esselstyn did a great job of explaining why we should all eliminate oil. He is more drastic on reducing fat (including nuts, etc.) compared to Dr. Fuhrman but after reading "Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease" I completely understood why the oil should go.

    I hope you try the savory oats I am addicted to them at the moment. I am still working on Dan to get him to try it. He has this notion in his head that oats need to be sweet.


  3. When it comes to health, most people don't want to change the status quo, and silly things likes "facts" and "studies" aren't going to stand in the way of what they hold dear!

    As topics of discussion, I'm convinced that health & weight are about as uncomfortable as religion and sex!

    Even I, who have read pretty extensively (though not as much as you!) and believes a low fat vegan diet is the way to go, I still struggle to make the changes I want to.

    Part of it is that my family won't eat this way, and part of it is that sometimes I still get "caught out" despite my planning.

    I just remind myself that I eat MUCH healthier than the average person, and that this is a journey - if I make mistakes I can always try to do better next time!

  4. Yum, breakfast and dinner both look amazing! Very inspiring story, its amazing you guys were able to make such a dramatic change so quickly! Keep up the great work.

  5. Oatmeal looks great. I really must try a savory oatmeal. I know I've said that once already ;-)

    Since I have been vegetarian the majority of my life, I didn't notice any relationship changes happen around me. Now, new people sort of have to absorb what it means for whatever crazy reason, but I am fortunate that most people seem to just accept it even if they don't "get" it.

  6. Hi Ali.

    You are, as always, an inspiration. I'm working on a few food transitions...I don't know that I'll ever be as good as you and Dan, but I'll always have something to aim for. :)


  7. You made an interesting Freudian slip-
    you wrote "when we were comforted by cancer", instead of confronted.

    I love reading your blog, and while I am not making the dietary changes you have, to the extent you have, I feel comforted knowing that what I do to make our family eat healthier makes a difference and that I have a great resource to go even healthier. thanks!

  8. Neca,

    Sadly I agree with you that food is as delicate a conversation as religion. Maybe I am naive but I never expected that reaction from people. While I love good food, it is still just food. I can't wrap my head around why people would pick food over their health. The science is actually consistent and fairly clear provided anyone wants to know.

    I don't think most people read as much about health as I do. It helps to be retired otherwise there would be no way I could do it either, LOL. Dan calls it my hobby but it more of a passion.

    Not having your family on board has to be incredibly difficult Thankfully Dan trusts me enough to believe my research and interpretation of what I read. The poor man has to listen to the "cliff notes" of the things I learn every day. It is no wonder he affectionately calls me the nutrition nazi, LOL. I know not all men are as understanding/tolerant, Dan is a saint. ;-)

    We all make mistakes when it comes to nutrition. Things happen weekly here that cause me to think I could do better. I view nutrition (actually life) as a process. We learn as we go and have the opportunity to choose a different path with each new decision.

    hope you have a good Wednesday,

  9. T,

    I love the savory oatmeal, I hope you try it sometime.

    It is funny most people think it was huge to go from omni to vegan overnight but I don't feel that way. When you are confronted with something as serious as cancer a little thing like changing what you eat doesn't seem that difficult. I tell everyone that wants to change all you need is the right motivation. With everything I have learned about health I can't imagine life any other way now. Understanding the downside of consuming things like meat, cheese, sugar, and refined carbohydrates makes it easy to avoid them. When your body needs to focus on healing you don't want to give it anything that is less than optimally healthy. ;-) It seems to be working so far, fingers crossed.


  10. Heather,

    Dan tried the savory oatmeal this morning and even Mr. Picky liked it, LOL. I hope you try it.

    I think part of the issue with our friends is that they are mostly older. For whatever reason I have noticed the older people are the harder it is for them to grasp that meat, dairy, sugar, etc aren't healthy. Additionally there is so much bad information put out about moderation it makes it tough for poeple to "get it".

    A friend of mine (in their late 40's) is starting to have painful arthritis of the knee. When I tried to say you can do a lot with nutrition to help that I was told they didn't want to know because they weren't going to change they would rather have knee replacement. What? Seriously this happened not long ago. Doesn't make any sense to me but clearly not everyone wants to change. :-/


  11. LJ,

    That is very sweet of you. I hope our story shows people that anyone can do anything they set their mind to. If you had told me that we would become this healthy I would not have believed it either, LOL. Life is a journey and it can become anything you want it to be. I think you do a great job with nutrition! We are all still learning and changing. That is what life is all about. ;-)


  12. Hi Ali,
    One reason I think why a diet like yours/mine affects our relationships is that it is MORE than a diet to us. It is a lifestyle, a passion etc. Other people don’t see why this becomes a “moral” issue. It’s frustrating because they ask why we eat like this and then become offended when we begin to explain why. Though, they feel attacked when we say that strongly believe (and know from reading studies) our diet is the healthiest of options. Now I’m not saying my diet is perfect by any means but I think you catch my drift. I also think that people are more skeptical when you/I make diet changes out of choice rather than necessity. In other words, we do it because we think (and know) it is healthy for us when people would be more accepting if it were due to allergies. Another thing that they don’t seem to understand is the quickness in which we can change our diet once we learn new facts. Funny enough- although you’re diet changed overnight from omnivore to vegan and mine was much more gradual, we both get flack for “suddenly” eating differently after having eaten a certain way for so long. It is frustrating when people you care about don’t understand/accept why we eat the way we do but I just want to say how much I appreciate your effort to explain your own journey because it certainly has encouraged me on improving my own diet.

  13. Jill,

    Sounds like we have the same friends, LOL. I have had people ask why and then get upset with my answer. The most common response I seem to get is "what do you know". Granted my background is not nutrition but I think I have made up for that a bit with all my research. Your comment about being frustrated spoke to me. I sincerely want everyone to "get it" but realistically I also know that will never happen. With 1 out of 2 us predicted to get cancer and/or heart disease this country needs a wake up call and fast.

    On the bright side I found two more good books at the library this morning so that made me happy. :-)

    I hope you are enjoying your morning,

  14. I'm sorry you get resistance to your dietary choices. I usually hear a little of that each time you write about eating with your parents. For the most part, my friends and family are supportive and it only comes up at meals, not when we do other things. It's tough, though, because food is also social and cultural, not just for nutrition, but then I also put an ethical choice on it. I really struggle with how to balance the way I eat being my own choice with believing it is the best way (with room for improvement) and not seeming judgmental. Of course I would like to see everyone choose to be meat-free, but I would also like to see people eat more nutritious foods and less junk. Especially people I care about. I like what twistjill had to say about this.

    We used to eat savory oatmeal made with an egg. The uncooked oatmeal was coated with beaten egg, then cooked in a dry skillet until it dried out. Then it was cooked in water or broth - it became fluffy and the individual oats were separated. Can you think of a way to do this without egg? I haven't thought about that in ages.

  15. Jessica,

    I agree in my perfect world everyone would be vegan but they would also not eat processed food. This is obviously not likely to happen, but it is a great ideal to shot for. ;-)

    The resistance only comes up at meals for us too but since food is such a social activity there is the problem. My mom is an issue but strangely she isn't as bad as many of our friends.

    I am heart broken over the friends we have with chronic problems that want to believe those problems are genetic so they can't do anything to help themselves. Many doctors do people a terrible disservice by refusing to acknowledge the roll nutrition plays in health.

    People react to what you say based on their own biases and filters. Even if you aren't being judgemental many times people hear that because they are expecting it. It is easier to not say anything but when people ask questions it is difficult to provide an answer that won't result in hurt feelings.

    The oatmeal you used to have sounds like the same method that is often used with kasha. I can't think of anything except flax eggs off the top of my head. But if I come up with something else I will let you know. I am only guessing on the flax eggs. If you try it and it works I would love to know.


  16. Suzi,

    Thanks for catching my typo that was auto corrected which changed the meaning completely. I have to say it made me laugh, but I have a weird sense of humor.

    Honestly our diet would not be this clean were it not for the cancer. However now that we know how good we feel eating this way we wouldn't go back. I hope that makes some sense.

    Good for you getting ahead of things before there is a problem to react to. I wish I had been that proactive.


  17. My husband is in love with the idea of your oatmeal. I told him about it because I wasn't quite sure how I felt about it. (I have serious hang-ups about what should be eaten with what, ha!) I KNEW he would love it, though, because he loves oatmeal so much and isn't as close-minded as I am. :) I'm going to make it soon!

    I think our diet has inadvertently affected our relationships with others. No one really disagrees with us openly (besides my brother), but it makes it very awkward with my in-laws. And we don't get a lot of dinner invites! We are working right now to forge friendships in a way that don't involve food, which is really hard to do in our culture.

  18. Jenny,

    I was a bit skeptical of the savory oats too but now I am addicted. I hope you are as pleasantly surprised as I was. ;-)

    I am sorry to hear that your diet has altered your relationships too. People can get so defensive about food almost as though it was religion or politics. I never expected our omni friends to react to our food changes as they have. :-/

    If you find things to do that aren't food related I would love to hear them. You are right we are a food centered culture.



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