Thursday, December 9, 2010

Monday & Tuesday and "Forks Over Knives"


While I started the morning at the gym it wasn’t a productive workout sort of morning. My knee collapsed on me the prior evening so I was concerned about pushing myself at the gym. Within 15 minutes of arriving I knew I had to take it easy and opted to the walk to the indoor track for a while Dan used the cardio machines. It wasn’t much longer before I knew I needed to stop exercising for the day before my knee gave out again. I decided it was best to find a comfortable chair and wait for Dan.

When we got home we had another bowl of steaming oatmeal. It was ridiculously cold here making oatmeal the obvious choice. We had one of our usual versions. This one contained: wild blueberries, cinnamon, powdered ginger, ground flaxseeds and chopped walnuts.

For lunch Dan and I each had the of the soup from Sunday and a green salad.

Since we had eaten the end of the soup with lunch I decided to make another pot of soup. I knew I was going to use the end of the chickpeas that I cooked on Sunday but wasn’t really sure what soup to make. I have been thinking of the Sicilian zuppa di pesce I used to make recently. This soup gets most of its flavor from the seasonings which to me meant it would be fine without the fish. I could have used cubes of tofu in place of chickpeas I only picked the beans because I had them in the refrigerator. Here is what I did:

Chickpea Soup in the style of Zuppa di Pesce
Serves 6


28 ounces canned diced tomatoes, no salt
4 cups water
1 large yellow onion, peeled and finely diced
8 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 stalks celery, finely diced (or ½ fresh fennel bulb, finely diced)
2 carrots, finely diced
1 tablespoon hot crushed peppers (wet hots), or to taste (you can substitute hot crushed pepper flakes and a splash of red wine vinegar)
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
½ teaspoon oregano, dried
2 pinches saffron threads
2 bay leaves
1 cup dry white wine (I used the Masi Pinot Grigio)
1 piece kombu (approximately 1 inch by 4 inches) cut into very small short strips – used to add a background of “fishiness”
6 olives, thinly sliced (I kept this to a minimum so I didn’t add too much sodium)
3 ½ cup cooked chickpeas, no salt (or 2 – 15 ounce cans)
1 cup parsley, finely minced
freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Combine everything except the chickpeas and parsley and cook until the vegetables are tender and the flavors have combined. Add the chickpeas and cook to heat them through. The parsley is added at the very end when you are ready to serve.

Note: This soup has a thin base. If you prefer a thicker soup I would suggest adding a couple of tablespoons cornstarch which you whisked into a slurry with an equal amount of cold water and cook until the soup bubbles. Then add the parsley and serve.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 277.9
Calories From Fat (10%) - 28.8

Total Fat - 3.43g
Saturated Fat - 0.4g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 124.45mg
Potassium - 1129.67mg
Total Carbohydrates - 46.87g
Fiber - 11.94g
Sugar - 13.95g
Protein - 11.97g


This is a classic Italian soup that is traditionally made with swordfish and shellfish. I substituted chickpeas for the fish and added kombu to help mimic the fishiness. It is reminiscent of the traditional soup but different. I think cubes of tofu may be closer to the traditional soup but this one is also good just not as much like the original as I had intended. It would also be good if you decided to add some diced potato or cooked pasta though those are not traditional.


The morning started with Dan going to the gym and me staying home. My knee was still acting up and since I had a dentist appt this morning I didn’t have time to go to the gym and still get ready to leave the house with Dan. Our dentist is across the street from Dan’s office so I road to work with him.

We both had another steaming bowl of oatmeal before heading downtown.

Dentist appt:

If any of you are local and are looking for a new dentist we love ours. This practice was recommended by our friend Troy and we are glad we gave them a try. We see Dr. Nicholas Garcia downtown at 36 S. Charles. They are very friendly and literally practically painless. They also have a short call list for people with flexible schedules that allowed us to call in and get an appointment the next day. You have to love that. ;-)

I am not generally fond of going to the dentist but I don’t mind going to see these nice folks. One of the hygienists (Regan) is the brother of the dentist and he is always very gentle when cleaning my teeth. If all dental appointments were this painless more people would go regularly.

Forks Over Knives:

Wednesday night was the big event, the advanced screening of the movie. There were four of us that went together (Troy and Sheila joined us). Sheila has a grad degree from the Hopkins School of Public Health so I can’t wait to talk to her about her reaction to the movie. With a little luck we will have time to chat about the movie later today. While I love to talk to Dan about health it is also great to hear what other people think.

Since I have read “The China Study”, “Prevent and Reserve Heart Disease” and completed the Cornell Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition there wasn’t anything new in this documentary for me. However I did think it was well done and will be buying a copy to lend to my omni friends.  You know who you are, LOL.

The documentary essentially follows Dr. T. Colin Campbell (The China Study) and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn (Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease) as they grow on farms and the take different paths (a PhD in nutrition and Medical Doctor) to come to the same conclusion that the most healthful diet is a whole food plant-based diet without processed food (oil, sugar, etc.). This is not a movie that discusses the ethics of a vegan diet the entire purpose was to highlight the healthfulness of a whole food plant-based diet. I continue to mention the whole food aspect because the focus is NOT on a processed food vegan diet.

There are other doctors in this movie specially Dr. Matt Lederman, Dr. John McDougall and Dr. Doug Lisle. All three of these men were also in the Cornell program. These doctors (and a few others) play a supporting role to Dr’s Campbell and Esselstyn.

The movie also follows on a few people that adopt a whole food plant-based diet and highlights the results they achieve in a short period of time. One gentleman had remarkable changes in his lab work (blood) in only 13 weeks. Since Dan and I saw the same thing I now assume that most people will respond that quickly.

Overall it was a good evening and I am very happy we went to see it. When I asked Dan what he learned from the movie he said “nothing really, I have been hanging around you a long time”. Men! We both think this is a must see for anyone that is interested in health and what they can do to live a more healthy life.

While doing a little internet search to confirm the spelling of Dr. Lederman’s name I discovered he and his physician wife have written a book, “Keep It Simple, Keep it Whole: Your Guide to Optimum Health”. I will be adding this to my next Amazon order. Once I have had a chance to read it I will let you know what I think.

Happy Thoughts:

Tuesday and Wednesday were good days for us, in spite of my knee. I have many things to be happy about today:

• I was able to get back to the gym this morning. While my calorie burn wasn’t what I wanted it was okay. I used the elliptical more than morning and my knee was fine on that. I did hop on the treadmill for a while but had to back off the incline to 5 degrees which didn’t make me happy. Thankfully I know how far I can push my knee and I actually listened to it today and took it easy.

• We enjoyed the movie last night. It was good to see so many people interested in health. I am looking forward to talking to Sheila about the movie soon. I am very curious to hear what she thought about it. My fingers are crossed that she will have some time today.

• While we were at the movie I picked up a copy of the current magazine of the Hopkins School of Public Health. I can’t wait to read that later today.

• The Baltimore Chapter of Earthsave passed out a guide to vegan and/or vegan friendly restaurants in the local area before the movie. I am looking forward to checking some of them out. We grabbed two copies so we can put one in each car. If any of you are local here is the link to the on-line list.

Signing out:

It is time for me to get a few things done around here. We are out of soup again so I that is on my agenda this morning. I also need to roast more veggies to be included with our salads and make my grocery list of the weekend. Also I need to get my strength training in and do more cardio since I didn’t have a good calorie burn this morning at the gym. Darned knee. ;-)

I hope all of you are having a great day and staying warm. It is ridiculously cold here and has been since the weekend. Apparently we had a cold front come through. It should be not 25 degrees in the morning when we leave for the gym. I am ready for spring and we haven’t had our first “real snowfall” yet. Talk to you all again soon.


  1. Ugh, sorry to hear your knee is bothering you. That really stinks. Glad you were able to get in some cardio at least. Gotta love that elliptical (or not) ;-) And you surely already know that that soup looks divine.

  2. I was looking forward to hearing your review on Forks Over Knives, now I am even more excited to see it! Wanted to mention that you said, "the most healthful diet is a whole food plant-based diet with processed food (oil, sugar, etc.)" and I think you meant without processed food :) I realize that most of your readers would also realize that, but you never know, someone might not. Have a nice Thursday!

  3. Oh no! Sorry about the knee! Knee injuries are tough are require a good deal of attention!

  4. Heather,

    My knee has bothered me the last 30 years so this is nothing new. That was why I told you to be careful with your injury I wasn't careful with mine. ;-) However I appreciate the sympathy. The elliptical and I have an uneasy truce. I really dislike it but it works when I have to use it. LOL

    Thanks, I liked this soup. If you have ever had a MD crab soup it is similar, no crab of course. ;-)

    talk to you later,

  5. Sarah,

    I think you will like the movie. Both Dan and I thought it was well done. It is a good summary of the two books and the Cornell course. When you see it if you have any questions about studies or details let me know. If I know I will be happy to share. :-)

    Thanks for catching my typo. I am famously for leaving out little words. Not made a big deal in that sentence. ;-)

    I hope you have a great Thursday too,

  6. JL,

    Thanks for the knee pain sympathy. Sadly I didn't take care of it the first time I injured it 30+ years ago and it has not been 100% ever since. Most of the time it is fine but every once in a while it acts up like now. It will be back to normal (for me) soon. :-)


  7. Finding a good dentist really does make a difference. Glad you like yours. Mine is okay but not as great as one I had a few years ago in another state.

    That's funny that Dan said he didn't learn anything from the movie, but it also sounds like a compliment and echoes what you said that there wasn't anything new in it for you, either. Still, it's nice to see some of these ideas getting more attention. I'll look forward to seeing it. I keep trying to eat more healthily; I know that "better than most" isn't really the best thing for me.

  8. I'm way excited about Forks Over Knives! And that soup looks mighty tasty. Hope your knee heals soon!

  9. Jessica,

    I agree with you it is important to find a good dentist. We have been fortunate to really like our last two dentists. When we changed health insurance we switched to this dentist and we were worried but we love this one more than the last one.

    Dan is cute LOL. I thought for sure he would have learned something but he claims not. I guess I am a better teacher than I thought. Either that our he wasn't paying enough attention. ;-)

    I think you will really enjoy the movie. I feel so much better eating this way. I may have to figure out how to describe it so that I can share that with everyone. It was tough to make the changes initially but the results were tremendous. You are right eating "better than most" still leaves room for improvement.


    I hope you are having a great Thursday,

  10. Bianca,

    I was very excited to see it too. I think you will enjoy it. I can't wait for it to be available for sale so I can lend it to all my omni friends.

    We liked the soup, in fact it is already gone. Today's soup is going to be something with green split pea.

    Thanks my knee will be fine soon. This is nothing new just something that happens periodically.


  11. Hi Ali! Glad to hear you enjoyed Forks Over Knives. It's definitely on my to-see list. Sorry to hear about your knee--I'm sure it will heal quickly if you stay off of it.

    And the soup looks delish--I'm craving soup today, but since I don't feel well, I don't feel like making it myself. So I'm suffering...LOL.


  12. LJ,

    I think you will really enjoy the movie. This is one I could watch more than once. ;-) Not to mention I have some friends that I would love to show it to.

    My knee is beginning to improve. A couple more days and I will be back to myself. This happens routinely so I know what to expect. Sad but true.

    Sorry to hear you aren't feeling well. What about making yourself some miso soup? That is quick and easy and always makes me feel better when I am not quite myself.

    talk to you later, hugs,

  13. Ouch..sorry about your knee. I hope it heals up quickly!

    I do not like the dentist! I was forced to go the other day when I chipped a piece of my tooth off. I had to find a new one, because of insurance purposes. He was very nice though. We will see about the pain free part come January when I have to get a crown. boohoo....

    Your soup looks and sounds very good!

    I'll have to take a gander at that book!

  14. Sending you happy thoughts for a speedy knee recovery! The zuppo Italiano looks lovely!

  15. I am sorry you are having such a hard time! I hope you feel better soon :(

  16. Michelle,

    Thanks for the knee sympathy. It will be fine. I go through this often but didn't mention it in the past because I wasn't talking about exercise. The knee problems are an old injury. It felt good enough to go back to the gym this morning only I took it easy on the cardio.

    Sorry to hear about the chipped tooth, those aren't fun. I only have one crown and it was for the same reason you will have one. I didn't think it was as bad as I expected. I hope you have the same experience.

    The soup is a variation of something I used to make in my omni days. It is a very quick and simple soup but we liked it.


  17. Aimee,

    Thanks for the happy thoughts. My knee is starting to improve. In fact I did 45 minutes of cardio this morning albeit at a lower intensity.

    The soup is simple but we liked it.


  18. Brandi,

    I am already beginning to improve, but thanks for the sympathy. This is an old injury acting up. I will be back to my usual self soon if I improve like every other time this has happened.


  19. Hi Ali. Good luck with your knee. Your soup looks like something I would enjoy. I can live on soup. So glad you enjoyed the movie. Not suprised you didn't learn anything, since you've been studying so much. Still, it's good to know that it represents vegan whole foods eating in a good way. I won't be seeing it till March :(

    Oh, the theatrical premiere is March 11th, and Forks Over Knives does have a website and newsletter for those interested.


  20. Colleen,

    My knee improved enough that I went to the gym this morning. I got an okay workout not great, but not terrible.

    I could live on soup too. In fact I made another soup tonight for dinner. The soup tonight was particularly tasty to me. I will get that one posted tomorrow.

    Even though it was old info for me I still loved the movie. I am so excited that these ideas are going to get a wider audience. I feel so good eating this way I wish I could share that with everyone. :-)

    I did put the link to the site in the post but it may not be obvious since it was on the header. Maybe I should add in another link to the website in the body. I signed up the newsletter ages ago but haven't seen an email recently. I guess they are busy with all the advanced screenings.

    enjoy the rest of your evening,

  21. I am loving this soup trend! It's really cold here too but luckily the apartment stays toasty enough that I am happy with salads for dinner.
    Oatmeal is ALWAYS on the breakfast menu though. I like the addition of wild blueberries! Do you buy yours dried? Where?

  22. Sorry to hear about your knee :( Speedy recovery vibes!

  23. I am so sorry to hear about your knee, but I am glad you are resting and not pushing yourself too hard. I know it is hard when you can't workout like you want to, but you need to listen to your body and take it easy!

    IT sounds like Dan took the day off on Tuesday? I hope you two enjoyed your time together :-)


  24. foodfeud,

    I seem to get more cold now that I am older. When it is cold outside I crave soup. ;-) In fact we had soup again last night for dinner.

    I buy the wild blueberries frozen from Costco. They also see dried blueberries but those have sugar added which is why we use the frozen ones in our oatmeal and smootihes. There is a brand called "Just Tomatoes" that sells dried veggies and fruit with nothing added. I bet they sell blueberries too. We have purchased dried raspberries in that brand.


  25. Courtney,

    My knee has improved quite a bit so far. I went to the gym yesterday and today but I didn't push it. It should be back to normal by next week as long as I don't do anything foolish.

    Dan didn't take Tuesday off but I can see how you would think that. I just packed the same thing for his lunch that I had a home.


  26. Nadine,

    The knee is an old injury. It acts up periodically but I am used to it now. I should be back to normal by sometime next week. Thanks for the speedy recovery vibes. :-)


  27. Ali - this may be my first post on your blog! Surprisingly I was just told about Forks over Knives, and while researching I saw that you commented about it. I actually look forward to seeing it, and I assume there must be some sort of advanced screening in NYC! From the trailer it is so much what Dr. Fuhrman talked to me about (and wrote about in Eat to Live).

    A documentary about the benefits of a plant-based diet is so much more interesting and authoritative with doctors as opposed to just "activists."

    Although I am no longer vegan, I am mostly so and still love educating people.



  28. Hi Terrence,

    Nice to have you visit me. ;-) I have missed your posts.

    You will love "Forks Over Knives". The message is almost identical to Dr. Fuhrman's only from other docs. The movie was well done and seemed as though it was meant for omnivores looking to improve their health. I am thrilled that this message will reach a wider audience since we all know adult learners aren't fond of reading. The message was very non-threatening which I hope will give it broader appeal.

    I hope all is going well with you, hugs,


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