Monday, May 31, 2010

Unusual Breakfast and Cold Lunch


This morning it was hot outside when we got up. I really don’t enjoy hot food in the summer. Instead of a smoothie I thought I would use the cold brown rice I had leftover from dinner last night. There was also a pound of organic asparagus that I wanted to use. Since asparagus has been shown to fight cancer when consumed raw (and we enjoy it that way) I cut it into thin coins and tossed it with the cold cooked brown rice. I topped this with my Asian walnut dressing and some torn basil leaves. That was breakfast along with a fresh veggie and fruit juice that is. Here are the specifics and nutrition breakdown:

Asparagus and Brown Rice with Walnut Dressing
Serves 3 (meaning a double portion for Dan and a single one for me)

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups brown rice, cooked and cold
1 pound of asparagus, cut into 1/16 inch coins
6 tablespoons Asian Walnut dressing (I added sriracha to it today)
6 fresh basil leaves torn

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 198.29
Calories From Fat (28%) - 55.57

Total Fat - 6.68g
Saturated Fat - 0.76g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 76.08mg
Potassium - 431.8mg
Total Carbohydrates - 30.44g
Fiber - 5.59g
Sugar - 3.15g
Protein - 7g

Comments:

While not a typical breakfast we enjoyed it. The best part was that it came together in about 5 minutes. This is why I keep cold cooked grains in the refrigerator all the time. With cooked grains and fresh veggies you can always make a meal very fast. I keep cooked beans on hand for the same reason.

To go with this we had a fresh veggie and fruit juice comprised of: 1 apple, 5 carrots, 3 stalks celery, 2 kale leaves, 1/3 pound spinach, ½ lemon, 1 inch ginger, 2 frozen wheat grass shots. Of course we also had our powdered green drink. Can you ever have too many vegetables? I don’t think so, obviously, LOL.

Next recipe


Since it is a little warm here Dan and I have decided to take it easy again today. We watched something from PBS on Netflix and decided to make another simple and easy cold mid day meal. After much discussion this morning we settled on a cold bulgur and veggie salad and some fresh veggies marinated in lemon juice. I still hadn’t decided how I was using the marinated veggies, whether on a salad, or in a wrap. By the time I needed to make a decision I decided to toss the marinated veggies with spiralized zucchini. Here is what I used:

Lemon Marinated Veggies with Spiralized Zucchini
serves 6

Ingredients:

2 red bell pepper, julienned
3 carrots, julienned
2 collard leaves, julienned
1 lemon juiced and zested
4 cups spinach, julienned
4 zucchini, spiralized
¼ cup pine nuts

Directions:

Combine the red bell pepper, carrots, collard threads, lemon zest and juice in zip top bag. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Turn the bag over periodically to make certain all the veggies are in the juice. The point of the lemon juice is to soften the veggies. Most raw recipes use oil and salt with the lemon juice. Since I have eliminated oil and try to cut back on sodium I don’t use either and it works just fine. Taste and add salt and pepper if desired.

When you are ready to serve toss the marinated veggies and juice with the spiralized zucchini and spinach. Top with pine nuts and serve cold.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories-  99.87
Calories From Fat (37%) - 37.1

Total Fat - 4.43g
Saturated Fat-  0.37g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 60.26mg
Potassium - 755.94mg
Total Carbohydrates - 14.04g
Fiber - 4.56g
Sugar - 6.91g
Protein - 3.99g

Comments:

This was the hit of the meal. Even my omni parents had seconds. Needless to say both Dan and I were shocked. My father really seemed to enjoy this. It was very light but had good flavor. Some fresh basil would be a nice addition to this if you have it.

Each serving of this dish contains approximately 10,600IU of vitamin A, 100mg of vitamin C, 65mg of calcium, 115mcg of folate, 130mcg of vitamin K, 120mg of phosphorus, and 65mg of magnesium. Pretty amazing nutrition for less than 100 calories.

Next Recipe:


To go with the zucchini spaghetti I made a quick bulgur dish. I added the bulgur for fiber and calories. Here is how I made that dish:

Lemon Bulgur with Vegetables and Mint
serves 6

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups bulgur
3 cups water
1 lemon zested and juiced (use 2 if you love lemon)
1 cup edamame
1 cup snow peas, sliced thinly on the diagonal
2 cups spinach, julienned
¼ cup mint, thinly sliced

Directions:

Combine the bulgur and water and bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Add the lemon zest and juice while the bulgur is still hot so it can absorb the lemon flavor. Chill the bulgur until cold. Add the edamame, snow peas, spinach and mint and toss just before serving. Season with salt and pepper if desired.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories 161.61
Calories From Fat (10%) - 15.76

Total Fat - 1.88g
Saturated Fat - 0.25g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 19.86mg
Potassium - 354.01mg
Total Carbohydrates - 31.45g
Fiber - 8.47g
Sugar - 1.45g
Protein - 7.78g

Comments:

This cold salad has a subtle flavor and freshness from the mint. You can use any veggies you like with the lemony bulgur. This dish would have been great with the lemon marinated veggies. I added the edamame to this dish for protein. Snap peas were included for texture.

Each serving of this salad contains approximately 1,100IU of vitamin A, 50mg of calcium, 115mcg of folate, 60mcg of vitamin K, 160mg of phosphorus, and 85mg of magnesium.

Unrelated note:

Earlier today we watched a two part documentary which originally ran on PBS. It was called “The New Medicine”. Here is the description from Netflix, “The Before her death in 2006 from lung cancer, Dana Reeve filmed this thought-provoking program exploring the use of holistic remedies in modern medicine. Moving beyond traditional treatments and examining more lifestyle factors, an increasing number of doctors are supplementing their work with a host of healing alternatives -- including meditation, hypnosis and acupuncture -- to treat the whole body and restore their patients' health.” Dan and I both found it fascinating. Some of the scientific information about the mind body connection was very interesting.

For those of you that are wondering yes I am as interested in health and nutrition as it appears. For the last few years it has been my favorite topic of choice which is how I amassed so much information on nutrition. If I am not reading something on the topic of health or nutrition than I watching something on it.

I am going to spend some time with Dan and then make dinner. I will be back later to let you know what I came up with. I hope you are having a great long weekend. Talk to you all later.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Raw Spring Rolls




We brought back a plethora of beautiful organic produce from the market this morning. Because it was suppose to get hot today I decided a cold dinner was in order. Tonight’s dish is a method more than a recipe and was inspired by one of the recipes in the “Raw For Life” DVD which was raw spring rolls.  That recipe used zucchini for the wrapper. This process works exactly the same as the cannelloni I made here, except it is healthier because it is filled with veggies. To the interior I added finely julienned spinach, Napa cabbage, grated carrot, cilantro and mint. Roll them up just like the cannelloni and refrigerate (covered) until ready to serve. I can imagine changing these many ways depending on what you stuff them with. The trick appears to be shredding the filling finely and rolling it tightly.

Make any dip you like to dunk them in. I made a dressing of mellow white miso and mirin with a little sriracha. Not only did Dan and I like this but so did the omnis. Will miracles never cease?

To go with the raw spring rolls I made my deconstructed sushi salad, which the omnis also liked. Since tomorrow is supposed to be another scorcher I made extra rice for us to have for dinner or a snack with some finely chopped raw veggies. That is something I do often.  Leftover brown has lots of uses.

This may be my last post for today.  I only got 3 1/2 hours sleep last night which may mean I will crash early. If not I will be back with our next meal since we still haven't had dinner. Talk to you all later. 

Farmers’ Market Sunday

As usual we were at the farmers’ market bright and early this morning. We get try to get there by 7am and are frequently leaving at 7:30am. Typically we start with our two favorite organic farmers. Both Dan and I think supporting the local organic farmers is important. While we like to buy local produce we prefer that it be local and organic so we always shop with that in mind.

This morning we stopped to Calvert Farm first which is our CSA. Today we picked up: 1 head of red leaf lettuce, 1 bunch of collards, I bunch of kale, 1 napa cabbage, 2 pints peas, and 2 pints strawberries. While we were there we ordered a tray of wheat grass juice. The nice thing about our CSA is you get to select what you want each week. Everything has a share allotted to it and you get typically 8 shares. Then you mix and match and pick what you want. There were tons of things we didn’t buy, the selection is wonderful and everything is so fresh and gorgeous.


Next we went to see Rudy at Cat’s Paw Organic. There we got some sugar snap peas, radishes and cucumbers. I loved the radishes when they were spiralized last week which is why I picked up three bunches this week. Rudy has a lot of plants for sale this time of year. He is the one we got our tomatoes and some of the herbs from a few weeks ago. For those of you that are local Rudy also sells homemade baked goods made by his wife. We have picked up a muffin and time or two. They are excellent. Some of them are low sugar others low fat but they are all fantastic, at least the ones we have had were.


Since I picked up radishes I wanted to grab some zucchini to be spiral cut as well. Since our two certified organic farmers didn’t have any zucchini yet we just picked the closest farmer that had squash. I got both zucchini and yellow squash so I could mix the colors on the plate. I will be making a different sauce this week for the spiral cut veggies. If you haven’t tried making your veggies this way I highly recommend it. They is something much more appealing about veggies that are spiral cut.


After the market we came home to make breakfast. While I prepped the veggies and fruit for juice Dan “entertained the cats” with the bags of produce. Whenever we come home the felines need to “investicat” the new stuff no matter what it is. They must smell everything and check it out. You know humans need cats because without them who knows how much trouble we could get into. Once the cats approved we could put things in the frig. Clearly the felines are in charge at this house, just ask them. ;-)

For breakfast this morning we had oatmeal with wild blueberries, ground flaxseed, cinnamon, powdered ginger, and walnuts. To go with that we had fresh vegetable and fruit juice and our powdered green drink. Breakfast was 2 hours ago and I am still full.

For supper with the parents today I am thinking of making raw spring rolls. I have no idea what I will be making to go with that, but clearly there needs to be something else or my parents will think I am trying to starve them. I may have to get out one of my Asian cookbooks for ideas. That doesn’t happen very often any more. I must be slipping. If anyone has a raw Asian recipe idea I would love to hear what it is.

Dinner Last Night: I took the night off, Ian cooked instead

The weather yesterday was perfect for eating on the patio so we decided to let Ian cook so I could have the night off. When I called for reservations the first thing the manager said was, “we were just talking about you guys”. Have I said recently how lucky we are to have such a great place right around the corner? Everyone is so nice and they always treat us like family. It is rather like our version of “Cheers”.

We love sitting on the patio under the trees and having dinner. There is really nothing better than dinner on the patio when the weather is cooperating. It is always great to see Ian, Corey, Aimee, Michael, Stephanie, Brandon, and Kristin. There is something very special about having a neighborhood restaurant where you know almost everyone by name as well as quite a bit about them. We used to know everyone but there are some new people for the summer that we haven’t met yet. Give us time though we will get to know them too. ;-)

We were thrilled to hear that Aimee’s straight A streak is still intact. Yay Aimee! She aced organic chemistry, which she was a little worried about, as well as her other three courses. We knew she could do it! ;-) We (Dan, myself and Louis our pharmacist friend) are all convinced Aimee will be getting into her first choice pharmacy school next spring. As you can see I was not kidding about knowing them fairly well.

As usual we had to order things that aren’t exactly on the menu, nothing new there. ;-) It is amazing that they put up with us, LOL.

Here is a pic of the specials from this evening. Nothing vegan here, but great inspirations for things to veganize later which I often do. This is one of my favorite tricks when I am looking for dinner ideas. Ian is always a great source of inspiration.


Aimee thought we needed something to nibble on while we decided what we were going to eat and brought us some whole wheat baguette with hummus and fried sage leaves. Again, this isn’t on the menu, but most of the things we eat there aren’t. It is nice to be part of the family and get “special” food. Fried sage leaves were quite the treat since you know we don’t use oil at home. They tasted much more decadent than I remember them being in the past when I used oil regularly. Our tastes have changed tremendously in regard to fat.


For our appetizer we had a small whole wheat pizza with basil and pine nut pesto, grilled eggplant and roasted peppers. This made a great pizza that was full of flavor; we did not miss the cheese. This is a really nice flavor combination. Ian would have added Taleggio (my personal all time favorite cheese, of course it is Italian) which would have been fantastic here if you are a vegetarian. For those of you that don’t cook much Italian food pesto almost always has cheese so you need to know that it won’t be vegan at most restaurants. 

Good thing we don't go out to eat often with all the flour and fat. This is why I try not to cook with flour at home.  We always seem to end up with pasta, pizza or bread when we go out.  But it is good. ;-)




Then Michael and Aimee made us a special salad with granny smith apples, raspberries, strawberries, walnuts and balsamic glaze. We also had an arugula salad with avocado, oranges, cucumbers and black olives (sorry I forgot to take a pic).


Of course there were copious pots of green tea. We don’t even have to order that any more. It shows up at the table about the same time we do. It really is nice to have such a friendly neighborhood restaurant with fabulous food.

Like always we stayed for hours and had to chat with everyone, some more than once. Ian came to the table a few times and even sat down for a little while to chat. We have been trying to coordinate dinner with Ian and Carmen (his wife) for quite a while. Ian is always so busy he is hard to catch up with unless we see him at the restaurant.

Overall it was a lovely evening with wonderful food, weather and company. Definitely a fabulous way to start the long weekend. I hope you are all having a great weekend too.

I need to run and get ready to leave for the farmers' market. Talk to you guys later today.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Product Review: Simply Raw and Raw for Life

As many of you know I am not nor will I probably ever be a raw foodist. But I do like raw food, particularly in the summer. Since we have been eating more raw food I thought it might be nice to pick up a couple of DVDs on eating raw. I ordered “Simple Raw” and “Raw for Life” about a month ago. I was so busy with the Cornell certificate program that I didn’t finish watching both of them until this week. So I wanted to let you know what we thought of the DVDs.  As usual I purchased these they were not sent to me for free to review.


"Simply Raw" is about 6 people (2 type 1 and 4 type 2 diabetics) who go to the Tree of Life (in Arizona I think) to see if they can cure their diabetes by eating a raw diet. While neither Dan nor I have high blood sugar I found the results of this 30 day experiment to be nothing short of amazing. If you know anyone with diabetes I would recommend they see this video. One type 1 diabetic was cured which I found absolutely miraculous. Curing the type 2 diabetics wasn’t that much of a big deal, in my opinion. If food is what gets you into trouble it only seems logical that it can be resolved by changing what you eat. But that is just my opinion.


"Raw for Life" was more about the general health benefits of being raw. Some of the “experts” that are on the DVD are” Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Dr. Gabriel Cousens, Dr. Julian Whitaker, Tony Robbins, David Wolfe, Brendan Brazier, and Brian Clement PhD (Hippocrates Institute) to name a few. A few of the topics covered are:

• starting out on a raw diet

• weight reduction

• detox and cleansing

• nutrition

• optimal athletic performance

This DVD also contains about a dozen raw recipes which are demonstrated by chefs. I think that section alone is worth buying the DVD if you are new to raw food. There is a crazy cracker recipe that is very different from mine that I will be trying this weekend (with my own spin of course). I will let you all know how that turns out.

Overall I am glad we bought both DVDs but unless you have diabetes or know someone who does I would stick with "Raw For Life" alone. It also has a section on diabetes which I thought contained all the information I needed on the subject.

Unrelated note:

Last night Dan came home from work early so I unplugged (no computer no smart phone) and we watched a couple of movies on Netflix streaming. Now my Wii is more than just an exercise device, LOL.

We watched both “The Gerson Miracle” and “The Beautiful Truth”, both movies about Max Gerson. They moved a little slowly but were full of interesting stories and information. Dan and I both came away thinking we need to make and drink more fresh juice. The movies did have the effect of making us both think we are doing the right thing with our diet. The basics of the Gerson therapy are: vegan diet, fresh pressed juice, organic produce, no salt, and coffee enemas. Let’s just say that last item had us both go “what ……?” I don’t see that happening at our house anytime soon. Even we have our limits, LOL. But overall it was quite interesting and the coffee portion was downplayed, thankfully.  I would recommend both movies to anyone that is open to something new and facing cancer.

Dinner last night was nothing special, bulgur dressed with lemon juice and cumin and lots of fresh finely minced veggies plus fresh vegetable and fruit juice. Nothing exciting enough for dinner last night to write about, you didn’t miss anything. ;-)

The weather today is cool, mid 70s and a little overcast. It is a good day to get some yard work done, which is on our agenda. I will check back in with you all later tonight or tomorrow. I hope you are all having a great start to the weekend.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Fun Facts Friday

(This is a pic I took in Firenze I added it because I am in an Italian state of mind after my questions)

Hello everyone. I hope you are all excited about the long weekend. I know I am. We don’t have any definitive plans but it just nice to know I get to spend three days with my hubby, assuming he doesn’t have to work that is. ;-) What are you doing this weekend, have any plans?

Are you planning any big food activities? We frequently grill "veggie" burgers, seitan hot dogs and fruit for Memorial Day. However since the weather is supposed to be hot again I may just go with raw food instead. Do your tastes change with the weather?

Fun Facts Friday:

I like to write these questions as they pop into my head. Today I was thinking about life in general which is where the first question came from. Reading is something that I try to do every day. I just find it good for my sanity. Italian wine is something that I have loved as long as I can remember. It isn’t the healthiest choice but I still adore it. I can’t remember the last time had a glass but I can also smell and taste it just thinking about it. Here are my questions:

1) What was the favorite time in your life and why? This was a difficult question for me because I am basically a happy person and have enjoyed most of my life. But I have to say that now is my favorite time. With age I have learned to relax and take things as they come. I used to be too focused and hard working to relax long enough to enjoy the little things. I try to do that every day now. I start my day with a mug of green tea and to try to write a few things each morning that I am grateful for. It really seems to help me to put life into perspective. If you haven’t tried it I highly recommend it. If any of you want an example so you can do it let me know. I would be happy to write a post about it.

2) Do you have a favorite activity, something that always makes you happy that you do it every chance you get? I love to curl up in my favorite chair with a good book and a cup of green tea. That is my idea of heaven. This is followed closely a long leisurely hot bath with a magazine. See the connection?  I love to relax and read, LOL.

3) What is your favorite indulgence? This was the easiest question of all for me. A nice "chewy" glass of Brunello di Montalcino. Add a piece of dark chocolate to that and I almost melt into the glass. I can think of no better indulgence than that.  Drop me in Firenze or Venezia with the wine and chocolate and I can think of nothing better on earth.  In fact I think of Italy every time I drink Brunello.  Maybe that is why I love it so much. ;-)

Unrelated note:

It is time for me to run my errands and check on the folks. I will be back later. I can’t wait to read your answers. You guys come up with some great stuff. Talk to you soon.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Dinner Salad and Cheeze filled Dandelion Bites


Tonight’s post is more of an idea then it is an actual recipe. Dan was in the mood for gazpacho but I really wanted a salad. So we had both tonight. I saved a little of Dan’s gazpacho to use for my salad dressing and it worked really well. I will definitely be using gazpacho that way again. I have no idea why it took me so long to try it.


To accompany the salad and soup I made dandelion bites. This is a simple concept. You take a dandelion leaf and cut off the bottom of the stem so you have about 4 or 5 inches of the top of the leaf remaining. Place a small amount of nut cheese at the base of the leaf, add a half a sun dried tomato and roll it up. It should be one bite size tasted. Four of these were more than enough tonight with salad for me. You can use any small leaf for this. I warn you these are rich little bursts of flavor. The chewy tomato adds nice textural variation.

Dandelion Greens:

For those of you that are wondering these came from the grocery store or farmers’ market.  Some raw sources say you can use the ones that come from your yard. I tried one a few days ago to compare them. The flavor and texture is very close.  Dandelion greens are commonly used in Italian cuisine. I like to use them as a salad green, in pesto and in soup. They are so nutritious why not use them everywhere you can. If you like bitter greens you should give them a try. A cup of the raw greens contain: 25 calories, 5,588IU of vitamin A, 428mcg of vitamin K, 103mg of calcium, 19mg of vitamin C and 218mg of phosphorus.  Here is the link to the stats at nutrition data.

Unrelated Note:

That is going to be it for me tonight. It is time for me to clean up the kitchen and wind down. I am so happy tomorrow is Friday. As usual I will be running my typical Friday errands. However I will be back in the afternoon. Talk to all soon.

Happy Thursday - One Day Until a Long Weekend!


The good thing about today is that it is almost the weekend. I need a long weekend something fierce. This week has not been one of the best. But it is almost over and that is a very good thing. I am ready for some fun and relaxation. For those of you that listened to me whine today a huge thank you from the bottom of my heart! You have no idea how much you helped me not have a mini breakdown. Thankfully I bounce back quickly. ;-)

The weather the last few days was uncomfortable to say the least. I am not fond of heat and today it has 90 plus degrees and not very pleasant. The air conditioning is still cranking at our house. Early today I would have loved to hit the pavement to get out my frustration but the weather was not right for it. Heather suggested kickboxing and that was a brilliant idea! Sometimes kick and punching is just what you need to get your frustrations and stress out. I felt so much better once I was finished. If you haven’t tried kickboxing I highly recommend it. What a wonderful stress reliever it is.

Memorial Day:

Memorial Day isn’t a holiday where we tend to do anything special. At our place it does mean the official start of summer. For us that translates into more cold and raw food. Shorts and sandals become the uniform of choice. My hair will normally be a in a high pony tail, like it was 30 years ago when I was a cheerleader, though there are some grey hairs now that I didn’t have then. Both Dan and I move a little slower in the summer though we are also outside much more often soaking up the UVB and vitamin D (post to come on that).

Speaking of outside I may see if Dan feels like going for a nice long bike ride this weekend. We haven’t done that yet this year. A bike ride and a picnic sound like a great idea. What do you have planned for this long weekend? Something good I hope.

Eat to Live:

I know that some of you are doing or have tried to do “Eat to Live” (hereafter E2L) because I get a lot of great email and comments about it. Any of you that have been reading for a while know I love Dr. Fuhrman and “Eat to Live.” I love the nutritional aspect of the plan but it also is good if you want to drop a few pounds. I decided I should write a little about our experience so that you would know what to expect. We went from omni to E2L so it was probably a bigger change for us than most of you will probably experience. I read the book in a few hours and we went vegan with the next meal. What I like about the plan is that is science based. The doctor does a great job of footnoting his sources and you can go on line to read the studies if you wish. I did this for many of the studies he cited. Yes I am that much of a nutrition geek, LOL. If any of you like science I recommend the book for that aspect alone.

The question I get most often is how hard was it? Well if you think a root canal is a party this plan is for you. ;-) The first couple of weeks I was miserable, not unhappy but downright miserable. I stomped around complaining that I would rather die than eat like this. A little dramatic, you think? Sadly this is exactly what happened. I cheated and ate more starch and added a little oil and convinced myself that I was following the plan. Yeah, okay if you say so Alicia. But I just couldn’t commit 100% immediately. Twenty three days after we started Dan was scheduled for a blood draw for a visit to his internist. He and the doc had been watching his cholesterol and there was talk of prescribing a statin drug.

Neither Dan nor I like to take meds. We don’t like to take a Tylenol when we get a headache unless absolutely necessary. This is where the magic in the story happens. Dan’s cholesterol went from 280 to 165 in a matter of 23 days and we weren’t as diligent as we should have been. My reaction was to be overjoyed. This is when I knew we were on to something. Additionally my blood pressure went from 120/80 to 95/55 in just a few months. The physical results were amazing. Even today the seasonal allergies I struggled with each spring for more than 20 years are gone, vanished. I used to “have to” take pseudoephedrine every four hours all spring (don’t cringe Louis). If I didn’t take them, and I tried that approach, I lived with constant sinus headaches. I think we all know how debilitating those can be. I can’t tell you the last time I had a sinus pill. For me that was a miracle.

Now it was time to get serious and really commit to the 6 week plan (page 179 in my edition). Was it hard? Yep. I had no idea how to cook without oil, heck I am Italian. We think olive oil is good for anything that ails you. But I persisted and discovered that you can sauté in water and it works just fine. The biggest problem for me was what to cook. Initially I felt so limited in my choices. But the worst part was only one cup of grains and/or starchy veggies a day. What? Thankfully this was the initial program and it gets more relaxed after 6 weeks. Before I went through this I didn’t realize the point was to break the hold those less than optimally healthy foods had on my body. I had no idea that I was actually addicted to them. Sure they tasted good but addicted, that didn’t seem possible. Since then Dr. Kessler has written a great book called “The End of Overeating”which explains the addictions to sugar, fat and salt. However before that book addiction didn’t really seem like a physical possibility, at least I didn’t believe it. But I now believe the entire point of the strict 6 weeks is to break your addiction to those less than optimally healthy foods.

Once the 6 weeks is over the doctor has the 90 percent rule (page 185) that allows you to relax a little and live in the “real world”. This works if you have broken your addiction but can lead to trouble, even for me. I find it easier to keep our diet free of oil, dairy and meat than add them back at any level. Very rarely we will have something made with flour (whole wheat pasta, pita, pizza) but that is a treat and doesn’t happen often and is normally when we are out. Additionally it is nearly impossible to get food at a restaurant that doesn’t include oil. I have learned to relax and just go with the flow. I would prefer not to have it but most commercial kitchens (even when you know the chef …. you know who you are) can’t cope with a request for no oil. They look at you as though you just asked for their first born. I had to relax and realize that a little oil and flour every once in a while wasn’t going to kill us. My hubby would love me to relax a little more, but that isn’t going to happen. ;-) Those of you that know me know that I am not kidding.

It took us about a month to get comfortable with cooking and eating this way. Dan thinks it was harder on me since I make the food. I will honestly say that I no longer feel limited in my choices as I once did. I have no difficulty coming up with ideas for meals. If anything adhering to E2L has resulted in more creativity and choices, not less.

I hope that answers some of your questions.

Unrelated note:

I need to run and get into the kitchen and make dinner. I will be back later and let you know what we had. As usual I have not entirely decided yet. Nothing like planning, LOL.

Carb Analysis - take two

Thank you Heather!  This is what happens when you try to do things when you are frustrated. Sometimes it is best to step back and relax. This is the chart I had wanted to post earlier.

If anyone wants the actual excel file send me an email at veganepicurean@gmail.com and I will get it to you.

Talk to you later!

Grain and Potato Analysis

Sorry for the delay in posting this. I tried everything to convert the excel file with its formatting and nothing worked. Argh!  Here is some of the information I compiled:

Grain and Potato Analysis

                                               carb/fiber ratio      ranking
amaranth                                            9.2               7
barley pearled                                     7.3               3
brown basmati rice                             11.3              8
brown medium grain                           11.5              9
bulgur                                                  4.3               1
millet                                                  20.5             12
sorghum                                             11.9             10
teff                                                      n/a            13
quinoa                                                 7.8               5
potato, baked with skin                        9.0              6
potato, baked skin removed                13.0            11
sweet potato, baked with skin               5.9              2
sweet potato, boiled skin removed        7.3              3

information came from Nutrition Data
All measures are for cooked items except the sorghum

If anyone wants the full chart in excel with calories, protein and fiber send me an email and I will forward it to you. It was difficult to read when I tried to include all the information here.

I was not surpised that bulgur did so well but the sweet potatoes did better than I thought and they include beta carotene.  The teff contained no grams of fiber which I did not expect.  Dan's beloved millet was also very low in fiber.  Overall I think it is important to eat a variety of grains and starches. But I will be using more bulgur, sweet potatoes and barley now.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Spiralized Zucchini and Radish Topped with Walnut and Spinach Sauce


The weather is hotter today than it has been. When the weather turns warm I tend to gravitate toward more raw food. This is a simple dish or spiralized veggies dressed with a nut sauce. It takes longer to clean the equipment (mandoline and blender) than it does to make the dinner. Here is what I did:

Spiralized Zucchini and Radish Topped with Walnut and Spinach Sauce
Serves 2 as a entrée with a salad on the side

Ingredients:

1 zucchini, spiralized
5 radishes, spiralized
½ cup walnuts
2 cups spinach, tightly packed
½ cup water
½ lemon, juiced
½ clove garlic, peeled (not a huge clove less is better in this sauce)
½ cup basil leaves, julienned
1 tablespoon pine nuts for garnish (optional but adds nice texture)

Directions:

Place zucchini and radish threads on a plate.

Combine the walnuts, spinach, water, lemon juice, and garlic in your blender and process until completely smooth. Pour the sauce over the plates of vegetable threads. Sprinkle the dish with basil and top with pine nuts

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 251.69
Calories From Fat (74%) - 187.03

Total Fat - 22.36g
Saturated Fat - 2.06g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 38.38mg
Potassium - 645.74mg
Total Carbohydrates - 11.22g
Fiber - 4.18g
Sugar - 3.32g
Protein - 7.51g

Comments:

This dish is rich and flavorful but is not an entire meal. I combine it with a spinach salad topped with beans and salsa to add more calories and reduce the overall fat percentage to something more manageable. Like many raw dishes you need to be careful to add non fat or low fat foods to it to bring the fat percentage in line.

Each serving of this dish contains 3,300IU of vitamin A, 35mg of vitamin C, 89mg of calcium, 125mcg of folate, 175mcg of vitamin K, 190mg of phosphorus, and 105mg of magnesium. Nice nutrition but higher in fat that is good to make a meal by itself.

For those of you that are wondering other than a tablespoon of ground flaxseed in my oatmeal this was the only fat I have had today.  I try to keep my total fat intake on average at 25 grams per day. That is the target that works for me. You may another level works better for you.

Unrelated note:

Things have gotten a little hectic at my house this evening. I will try to get the grain and potato chart up tomorrow. I ran out of time to fiddle with the file this evening.

I hope you are all having a good evening. Talk to you tomorrow.

Product Review: Naked Juice Green Machine


As usual I bought this product it was not sent to me. This is something I grabbed at Costco because I went shopping and didn’t take a snack with me. Now I have been eating healthy long enough to know that finding food while I am out is nearly impossible (unless I am going to the health food store). But did I pack a few nuts or a piece of fruit? No! Bad Alicia, bad! I don’t need to tell you what happened. I got hungry; no I was famished, while I was out.

There sitting on the shelf was green juice with 2600mg of spirulina in a comforting army green color. So I grabbed it and tossed it in the cart. After all the ingredients didn’t sound too bad: Apple Juice, Mango Puree, Pineapple Juice, Banana Puree, Kiwi Puree, Spirulina, Natural Flavors, Chlorella, Broccoli, Spinach, Barley Grass, Wheat Grass, Parsley, Ginger Root, Blue Green Algae, Odorless Garlic. Only the “natural flavors” had me worried.  But overall, it sounds fine and in the cart it went.

Here are the nutrition stats from the package on 8 ounces of this beverage:

Calories - 140
Calories from fat – 0

total fat – 0g
sat fat – 0 g
trans fat – 0g
cholesterol – 0g
sodium – 15g
potassium – 400mg
total carbohydrates – 33g
fiber – 0g
sugars – 28g
protein – 2g

A little high in natural sugar but I was hungry so I went for it.

The verdict:

Both Dan and I expected to like this since we drink fresh green juice all the time. However, maybe we shouldn't make assumptions based on appearance. If you are addicted to sugar this is for you. This stuff is deadly sweet. I can only drink ¼ cup of it straight. The amount that is gone from this bottle has taken us over a week to drink and only contains 4 servings, if that tells you something. Even Mr. Sweet tooth (Dan) thinks it is too sweet. There is a good chance the second bottle will go in the trash unopened. It does not taste bad, it is just sickening sweet and I do not find that pleasant. Sorry Naked Juice this way too sweet for our tastes. Now if you like sweet food and juices this may be for you. As I said the flavor is good it is just too sweet for us.

Unrelated note:

Now you may be asking why I bought it. I was asking myself the exact same thing once I had a taste. This is what happens when you go out unprepared. I normally have a little trail mix and/or a piece of fruit in my purse. After all what are purses for if it isn’t to carry your wallet, sunglasses, keys and a snack. I am only mentioning this because I think a lot of us (myself included obviously) get in trouble when we are out of the house. From now on I am taking a snack with me even if I am only planning to be gone two or three hours. Or … next time I will rip open a bag a fresh fruit I just bought and eat it uncleaned. That would have been a better choice. *sigh*

Today has been a good one at my place. I had lots of time for exercise and knocked that out early. There was no rain, not a drop. Yay! But the temperature is in the 90’s so I had to turn the air conditioning on about an hour ago to keep my fur covered babies from wilting. They get so lethargic in the heat we have to run the A/C. Thankfully the weather is only supposed to stay warm for two or three days and then we are back to windows open. I really do prefer fresh air in the house. I just think it is healthier than being closed up.  But I make an exception when it is hot and/or humid.

I am working on the grain and potato chart after viewing the talk from Dr. Walter Willett yesterday. I have to say I learned a few things. I am still trying to find stats on cooked sorghum for Naina. Once I find those I will get that posted.

I hope everyone is having a great Wednesday. We are over half way to Friday and a long weekend. Anybody doing anything fun this weekend?

Talk to you all later.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Nutrition Facts and Tips

I have spent the last few days watching the 2009 Nutrition Conference DVDs so that I could order the 2010 disks. There was so much information that my head is almost swimming, but in a good way. One of the things I love about these disks is that they are very detailed and science based. They may not be for everyone but I really enjoy this level of detail. I wanted to cover some of the more interesting and useful things I learned.

Overall information:

According to Dr. David Katz by making healthy diet and lifestyle changes you can:
  • Reduce your risk of heart disease by 80%
  • Reduce your risk of diabetes by 90%, and
  • Reduce your risk of cancer by 60%
If those statistics aren’t enough to spark a little fire I don’t know what is. 

Over 65% of American adults are overweight or obese. What has changed to spark such an increase in weight and disease? The size of our dinner plates has grown by 40% since World War II. That fact was shocking to me. Additionally, we have so many labor saving devices that we don’t as much exercise as our ancestors.

Dr. Katz has designed a nutrition scoring system to make it easier to grocery shop.  Check out the link above to learn more about it.

Spices and herbs:

Turmeric: is anti-inflammatory. The absorption is enhanced by 2000% when consumed with black pepper due to the piperine it contains. It is also recommended that you consume turmeric with fat. However I was happy to not hear that I needed to dissolve it in oil. That was a relief since I had been concerned about this.

Ginger: is best consumed in powdered form if you want the anti inflammatory properties, but fresh for colds or circulatory issues. This one surprised me. Our daily green tea with ginger will now be made with powdered ginger instead of fresh.

Sage: is good for sore throats. Make a tea from it with salt water can be used as a mouth rinse to gargle with when you have a sore throat.

Garlic: is basically useful for everything and anything. It helps with Candida, which I did not know. Additionally the aged form of garlic helps with the GI and mucosal side effects of methotrexate. It is also antibacterial, antimicrobial, antiviral, antifungal, lowers blood pressure and lipid levels.

Save your money on noni and mangosteen, they are over hyped and not worth the cost.

Sugar and Refined Carbohydrates:

According to Dr. Walter Willett sugar is the next tobacco. Sugar is empty calories that lead to weight gain and type II diabetes to mention a few things. The doctor feels that carbs like bread, potatoes and sweets are big problems currently facing Americans.

Interestingly if you are very active and have a BMI <23 eating a high GI diet results in ½ the risk of coronary heart disease as those eating the same diet with a BMI >23. For those that aren’t familiar with BMI, 90%+ of Americans have a BMI over 23. I think this difference is because those with more muscle mass use glucose more efficiently, but that is only a guess on my part.

Dr. Willet referred to brown rice as a “wimpy grain” and recommends that you get your whole grains in the form of barley and oats rather than relying solely on brown rice. He gives the rule of thumb that for each 6 grams of carbs there should be at least 1 gram of fiber. I will be looking up all the whole grains and creating a chart for us to use. Once I have that I will post it for everyone.

Interestingly the doctor says that fruit juice is just as bad as cola and should be avoided. Also the question of high fructose corn syrup came up during the Q&A and the doctor said that it and sugar are in essence indistinguishable and Americans consume too much of both.

Conclusion:

These are just a few of the things I picked up from the DVDs. I will be writing another post tomorrow with a few more things I learned from the DVDs. I highly recommend these DVDs to anyone that is interested in health and nutrition. They are jam packed with information. Some of it is highly technical and scientific but each lecture contains information you can use today. I have included a few of the items I found interesting and useful. These DVDs are a wonderful health resource and one I will be watching again,

I enjoyed the 2009 conference so much I ordered the 2010 disks today. I can’t wait for those to arrive so I can get started viewing them. For those of you that are wondering yes I really am this much of a nutrition geek, I do this for “fun”.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Foods of Spring: Fiddleheads, Ramps and Morels


We have been indulging in the food of spring at our house this week thanks to my best friend Louis. To say we are in heaven doesn’t even begin to cover it. We have both been enjoying every luxurious bite. This is the birthday present that just keeps on giving. This post is going to be about these foods and the method for dinner rather than I a recipe since I don’t expect many of you have these in your refrigerator.

Fiddleheads:

This luscious spring delicacy is the unfurled frond of a fern. It is easy to cook and reminds me of asparagus. It is also typically used the same way. I blanched it briefly then dropped it in ice bath to stop the cooking. It is great with lemon juice or just by itself. The taste is light and the texture is crunchy. Even my elderly parents like fiddleheads. Go figure!

Ramps:

These little darlings are also called wild leeks. The taste is more pungent than a shallot but not as harsh as a yellow onion. The aroma however is much more intense. I like to grill them, which is how we had them tonight. But you can also slice and sauté them.

Morels:

Who doesn’t love a fresh morel? I don’t know of anyone. These are my husband’s favorite mushrooms. He is enjoying this part of my birthday present as much if not more than I am. They frequently have little critters in them so I like to quickly submerge them to make certain the unwanted guests have evacuated.

In the past I would have sautéed these in butter. Tonight I used water and the flavor of the morel was more intense, I think because the aroma wasn’t muted by fat. I was worried about not using butter for these but I think they actually were better. This was not at all what I expected but a very pleasant surprise.

Dinner tonight:

I grilled a few ramps until the bulb of the ramps were tender, it mellows the taste. Then I water sautéed the morels for a couple minutes, add the blanched fiddleheads and a few halved cherry tomatoes. I served this over a little brown basmati rice. We used a little squirt of fresh lemon juice but a dash of truffle or walnut oil would have been great here too.

Unrelated note:

I learned quite a few interesting nutrition items today. I hope to have a post ready tomorrow on the usable nutrition information. Some of it is really too theoretical to put to use.

I hope you had a good Monday. Talk to you all tomorrow.

Falafel Flavored Kale Chips


How is Monday treating everyone? My Monday has been gray but good. I got my exercise finished much earlier than usual this morning. It is amazing how much more time you have in your day when you do this. I am not a morning person but I am going to try to get back to early morning exercise. Only time will tell if this is actually possible for me. ;-)

This idea came for falafel flavored chips I sampled at our health food store about a month ago. They were quite tasty and I thought I know I can make a healthier version at home. Seeing the kale at the farmers’ market made me think kale would be a good vehicle to hold the seasonings. I used sesame seeds since tahini is so common in all Middle Eastern food. The flax was added so that the chips would get crispy. The verdict, they are the new favorite kale chip at our house. I hope you give these a try. Here is what I did:

Falafel Flavored Kale Chips
Makes 3 Man sized portions

Ingredients:

3 kale leaves (stems removed) torn into pieces approximately 2 inches by 2 inches
4 tablespoons sesame seeds (or the equivalent in tahini)
2 tablespoons flaxseeds
1 lime zested and juiced (optional you can use 1 tablespoons of water but the lime adds brightness)
7 tablespoons water
½ tablespoon cumin seeds
½ tablespoon coriander sees
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Combine the sesame seeds, flaxseeds, lime zest and juice, water, cumin, coriander, and garlic in your blender. Process the mixture until it is completely smooth. You may need to add a little more of less water. The lime juice plus 7 tablespoons of water created a thick consistency that I thought was right for sticking to the kale leaves.

Pour the seed mixture into a bowl and add the kale and toss to coat. They are going to look like a gooey mess. Don’t worry the kale chips will get nice and crispy when dry.

Place the pieces of kale on top of the teflex sheets in a single layer. If you wish sprinkle them with sea salt and pepper and dehydrate at 105 degrees overnight. In the morning they will be crispy and crunchy and will be flavored like falafel.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 180.45
Calories From Fat (61%) - 109.34

Total Fat - 12.95g
Saturated Fat - 1.67g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 35.22mg
Potassium - 275.66mg
Total Carbohydrates - 13.25g
Fiber - 5.26g
Sugar - 0.22g
Protein - 6.41g

Comments:

If you like regular kale chips these have better texture and flavor. They crunch more like a cracker. I love the flavor and aroma of these chips. They are a little high in calorie but the servings are big, about 2 cups a piece. The fact that they contain omega 3’s makes me very happy.

Each serving contains approximately 5,180IU of vitamin A, 45mg of vitamin C, 150mg of calcium, 275mcg of folate, 180mg of phosphorus, and 40mg of magnesium. Pretty amazing for something you have with your sandwich or salad. I am really pleased with this recipe.

Unrelated notes:

As usual my day hasn’t gone as planned. My friend Deirdre has something come up at work so we needed to cancel lunch today. Given our cool gray weather it was probably best that we had to reschedule. We were both hoping to go someplace downtown on the harbor and have an al fresco lunch. Today would not have been the best for that.

My afternoon is going to entail trying to get through the last few DVDs from the 2009 Nutrition Conference. The 2010 DVDs are available for sale now and I want to finish watching the 2009 ones before I order the next set.

I have a few things to get caught up at home. I will check in with you all tonight after dinner, if not sooner.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Green Beans in an African Peanut Sauce Over Quinoa


Today has been one of those cool grey days that seem to be typical of this spring. We got going early this morning with our morning trip to the farmers’ market. It was hard not to over buy but I tried to hold myself in check this morning and bought less than normal. Today we came home with: 2 bunches kale, 2 bundles asparagus, 1 pound shitakes, 1 bunch radishes, 1 quart green beans, 1 pint cherry tomatoes, 3 cucumbers, and 2 bok choy. To go with that I bought a few plants for my garden, 2 savory, 2 lemon grass and 1 arnica plant. I love the organic farmers at our market. They have the best stuff. We also found out of CSA will grow trays of wheat grass for us to juice at a great price provided we put in an order and give them two weeks. Score! We were very happy to hear this.


After we go home we had our usual oatmeal, with frozen wild blueberries. My husband had to go downtown to work today since he took Monday off for my birthday. It would have been nice to have him home but sometimes things just don’t go the way we want them to. Instead I spent the day at home trying to catch up on the things that got behind while I was finishing up the last Cornell course.

I ended up kicking back and chatting on the phone. Sometimes you just don’t want to do a darn thing. That describes a good part of my afternoon and it was quite relaxing.

For dinner tonight I wasn’t in the mood for anything complicated or time consuming so I made something else up, but what is not new. Since many of you ask where my ideas come from they are always a variation of something I have eaten or cooked in the past. Tonight’s dinner was inspired by the African Peanut Soup I made here. Those flavors worked together so well I wanted to do something else with the base ingredients. Here is what I did:

Green Beans in an African Peanut Sauce Over Quinoa
Serves 3

Ingredients:

½ cups cup quinoa
3 cups water
½ large yellow onions, peeled and sliced (approximately 1 ½ cups)
6 cloves garlic, smashed, peeled and finely chopped (allow to stand 10 minutes so the allicin can develop)
½ tablespoon fresh ginger, grated or finely minced
¼ cup water to sauté aromatics
14 ounces diced peeled tomatoes
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon turmeric
1 pinch cinnamon
¼ teaspoon coriander seed, toasted and ground
2 tablespoons reduced fat coconut milk
2 tablespoons peanut butter (I used reduced fat but used full fat in the nutrition)
3 cups green beans, tipped

Directions:

Combine the quinoa and water and simmer, covered for 15 minutes.

While the quinoa cooks make the sauce. Water sauté the onions, garlic and ginger until the onions are tender (about 3 minutes on high). Add the tomatoes and spices and good for a few minutes to reduce the tomato liquid. Now add the peanut butter and coconut milk and incorporate into the sauces. Add the green beans and cover the pan and cook for a few minutes. You want the beans to be tender crisp.

Top the quinoa with African sauced green beans and finish with fresh chopped cilantro.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 483.89
Calories From Fat (21%) - 102.47

Total Fat - 11.74g
Saturated Fat-  2.32g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 30.98mg
Potassium - 1252.56mg
Total Carbohydrates - 79.81g
Fiber - 13.67g
Sugar - 9.49g
Protein - 19.21g

Comments:

This dish has a much more complex flavor than you would expect for a dinner you can make in less than 20 minutes. The sauce has a rich taste from the peanut butter and coconut milk. We really enjoyed this and will make it again when we need a quick meal. If you don’t green beans this sauce would also be good with julienned kale or collards. Millet would have been a more traditional grain to serve with an African sauce but I used quinoa for the protein.

Unrelated note:

I have an interesting experiment going in the dehydrator. I decided to try to make falafel kale chips. Since I have given up using oil I didn’t want to spray the kale with oil before drying it. Hopefully my variation will pan out. We will see, they smell great.

That is going to be it for me today. I hope you had a great weekend. I am meeting my girlfriend Deirdre tomorrow downtown for lunch. But I will be back tomorrow afternoon. Talk to later.

Flax and Chia Comparison



                           chia     flax

calories                137    150
fat g                         9      12
protein g               4.4      5.1
fiber g                 10.6      7.6

omega 3 mg        4915   6388
omega 6 mg        1620   1655
ratio 3:6               3.03    3.86

calcium mg           177     71.4
magnesium mg         0       110
phosphorus mg     265      180

The nutrition information above came from Nutrition Data dot com and is for one ounce of each. Here is the link to the chia and flax page on that site. The flax data comes up for 1 cup so you need to change to 1 ounce to compare them.

This morning Laura Jill asked me what I knew about chia seeds compared to flaxseeds. I tend to favor flaxseeds but do use chia seeds occasionally. I decided to summarize the nutrition data for one ounce of each in a table so everyone could compare for themselves.

We tend to favor organic flax for a few reasons these are:

• Better omega 3 to omega 6 ratio. This is particularly important if you still eat oil. The American diet is very high in omega 6 and low in omega 3. I have read studies that indicate the SAD diet is 1:50 (3:6) and should be closer to 1:1 or 1:2. Omega 3’s are the anti-inflammatory fat so they are good to have no matter what health issue you are concerned about.

• Flax is an excellent source of lignans and chia seeds don’t seem to have any good data on this. I found a few sources that indicated they also had lignans but they were selling chia seeds so I am reluctant to trust that data. The consumption of a diet rich in lignans is associated with breast, prostate and cardiovascular health.

• Organic flax is cheaper and easier to find than organic chia seeds.

Overall I think they are both a good choice, better than most things in the SAD diet, but since I know flax is a good source of lignans I am going to stick with that until I read something that indicates I should concentrate more on chia seeds.

A Video You May Want to Watch


On Friday, Anne a very kind reader sent me this link to a video. I was swamped so I didn’t get to watch it until late on Saturday. The information is presented in a common sense way. The video is about angiogenesis and cancer but also applies to many other chronic diseases (arthritis, MS and Alzheimer’s to name a few) which the MD briefly discusses. The entire video is 20 minutes in length but I think is well worth the time to view. If you want to make it full screen there is a button for that on the top right corner that makes the tables much easier to read. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Indian Food Saturday: Curried Veggies Over Rice and Salad


Last night for dinner I made a quick dinner of grilled fiddleheads and ramps served with millet which I topped with a vegan cream sauce which included fresh morels. The pictures really didn’t do it justice. Since I have more fiddleheads, ramps and morels I may have to make a repeat of this just so I can share the dish. I was quite good, just not photogenic. The picture debacle was my fault. I was in a hurry to eat and didn’t check the photos before we dug in. Louis thanks again for the lovely birthday present. We are both enjoying it!

Today started late at our house since I was on the phone until 2 am. How can I talk for 3 ½ hours on the phone no one knows, not even me. But I am going to say it must be a girl thing. At least my hubby had the good sense to go to bed long before I did. ;-) If only one of us were going to get adequate rest I am glad it was him.

The weather has cooled today and only reached 81 degrees. However the mild temperature felt nice after the upper 80’s we had yesterday. The weather here tends to go from winter directly to summer. This year we have had a fairly mild spring and that has been enjoyable after our very snowy winter.

Because the weather is a little cooler I decided to make curried veggies over brown rice and a vegetable salad with curried salad dressing. As usual Dan and I discussed dinner this morning after breakfast (our usual process). I knew I wanted to use a little reduced fat coconut milk; I was just craving it. That meant Thai or Indian and since I am more comfortable in the Indian realm I went with that. Also because we had the pita and pasta on Wednesday flour products were out. I don’t want that in our diet too often. I realize that seems a little extreme, but when you are battling cancer extreme doesn’t seem to be so difficult. As long as the food still tastes good I don’t mind severely limiting or eliminating items from my cooking that are less than optimally healthy.

Curried veggies is an easy to make healthier. Eliminating the oil and using less reduced fat coconut milk is very simple. As long as you use enough seasonings it tastes just as wonderful. When I am using turmeric I am always torn on what to do. Specifically I know that dissolving the turmeric in oil (and adding black pepper) increases the absorption of the turmeric by anywhere from 100 to 1000 times depending on which study you believe. But as you know I also don’t cook with oil. This choice was tough for me. I thought about dissolving the turmeric in fat from the coconut milk versus doing so in the oil. In the end I decided the coconut would be fine but I don’t have any science to back this up it is just a guess on my part. Here is what I made:

Curried Veggies Over Brown Rice
Serves 4

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups brown basmati rice
3 cups water
1 large yellow onion, peeled and finely minced
6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely minced or grated on a microplane
¼ cup water to sauté the aromatics
2 cups peeled diced tomatoes or 14 ounces canned diced tomatoes (no salt added)
1 cup water or veggie stock (or as much as you need to make adequate sauce)
1 cup reduced fat coconut milk
½ teaspoon turmeric, ground not fresh
½ teaspoon black mustard seeds, whole
¼ teaspoon cumin seeds, ground
1 pinch cinnamon
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes (or as much heat as you like)
6 cups fresh or frozen vegetables of your choice (I used frozen organic corn, green beans , carrots and peas)
1 tablespoon of cornstarch (or what is necessary to achieve the texture you like)
Cilantro springs, for garnish -optional
Cherry tomatoes, for garnish – optional
Cashews for Almond slices, for garnish – optional

Directions:

Start the rice cooking in the water.

While the rice is cooking water sauté the onions, garlic and ginger until tender (about 3 minutes). Add the remaining ingredients (except 6 cups of veggies, cornstarch and garnish). Simmer the sauce base while the rice cooks. When the rice is just about finished add the veggies and cook to heat through. Dissolve the cornstarch in water (to make slurry) and pour this into the sauce and bring to a simmer while stirring occasionally. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.

To serve, place the rice on the bottom of the plate, top with the curried veg, add cilantro, fresh tomatoes and nuts (if desired).

Nutritional Information (does not include the optional ingredients):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 460.69
Calories From Fat (13%)-  60.55

Total Fat - 6.5g
Saturated Fat-  3.59g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 93.03mg
Potassium - 921.26mg
Total Carbohydrates - 88.85g
Fiber - 13.72g
Sugar - 13.27g
Protein - 11.5g

Comments:

Both Dan and I were surprised by how rich this dish tasted given how little coconut milk was used. That is certainly a sign that our tastes have changed a lot during the last 5 months. We were also pleased with the nutritional numbers on the dish. The fat was very reasonable given the calories. If you are concerned about protein chickpeas would be a wonderful addition to this dish. The other protein alternative would be to serve this over quinoa instead of rice.

I love dishes like this the next day. The flavors seem to be marry so nicely while they are stored.

Next recipe:



Like usual we had a huge salad with our dinner. In fact the salad was so filling that we ended up storing much of the curried veggies and rice to be eaten tomorrow for lunch. Normally I have great difficulty coming up with healthy vegan dishes my elderly omni parents will enjoy. But salad is something that is universally accepted. We all had big plates of salad with seconds. Since we were having Indian flavors for dinner I wanted to make a curried salad. In the “old days” I used to make curried vinaigrette but didn’t want to use an oil replacement tonight. Instead I made a creamy raw cashew dressing and flavored it with curry seasonings. Here is what I did:

Salad with Curried Raw Cashew Dressing
Serves 4 as an Entrée sized salad

Ingredients:

1 pound fresh green beans, lightly steamed and refrigerated for later
1 cup cucumber, cut into bite size pieces
1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut into bite size pieces
10 cups red leaf lettuce

Salad dressing:

½ cup raw cashews
6 tablespoons of water
¼ teaspoon turmeric
I pinch mustard seed
1 pinch cumin
Cinnamon, to taste
Red pepper flakes, to taste
Lime zest from 1 lime
Juice from I lime

Directions:

Combine everything in your high speed blender and process until smooth. If you don’t have a high speed blender soak the cashews for a few hours and then drain thoroughly. The soaking should soften them enough that your blender can achieve a smooth dressing.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 138.7
Calories From Fat (35%) - 49.22

Total Fat - 5.86g
Saturated Fat-  0.98g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 47.15mg
Potassium - 741.87mg
Total Carbohydrates - 18.1g
Fiber-  6.54g
Sugar - 4.68g
Protein - 6.77g

Comments:

How much liquid you use in this dressing will make a difference in the final texture. I suggest you start with less liquid and add more if necessary. We all liked this dressing (vegans and omnis). The flavor is subtle but still definitely Indian. It went perfectly with the veggies and rice. Variations of this will be served often at our house when we are having Indian food for dinner. If you like Indian food I think you will like this dressing.

Email I Received and My Thoughts on it: Warning rant coming!

Before I share what has me wound up I should tell you that normally I am a very happy laid back person. However when I am attacked, as I was by email, I am not one to avoid a confrontation. I have never been shy or timid about what I know to be true or taking up for myself.

Since I know that not everyone has a blog I wanted to share how this works. Anyone can have a blog and they can write anything they choose on their blog. This is something you do because you want to share information. Writing a blog can be very time consuming, at least it is for me. I do not get paid for this; it is strictly a “volunteer” activity that takes me quite a few hours each week. I started this blog to share what I was learning about health and healthy cooking for anyone that wanted to read about either topic. If I had known some of these things earlier I would have made serious lifestyle changes sooner. My goal has and continues to be to share this information with anyone that wants it.

For those of you that don’t know I spend a minimum of 10 hours every week (normally more) reading about and researching nutrition and health. I have logged an inordinate amount of time at Pubmed reading scholarly articles on scientific studies regarding cancer. I email links to new articles on cancer to the oncologist. I am not some bored woman with a blog; health and diet as they relate to cancer are extremely serious for me. My nutrition and health focus tends to be on cancer, for obvious reasons, but the same diet we follow seems to be good for overall health.

Over the last year I have come to understand that diet can have a dramatic impact on the doubling rate of cancer. Studies have shown the average doubling rate for cancer is 100 days but can range from 24 to 850 days. Not to mention that the food you eat has an enormous impact on IGF-1, inflammation and the immune system. Food is a powerful component in the health of people both pre and post cancer. Anyone can modify their diet and make their body less hospitable for cancer cell growth if they chose. A properly functioning immune system can destroy the cancer in its initiation stage and even during the promotion stage. Sadly the diet most people eat promotes cancer initiation and progression. I have always sincerely believed that if more people knew they could make a difference in their health they would be make changes. But that doesn’t mean I think that everyone wants to change to the extent that we have. I also don't expect to make everyone happy with what I write. This is not a popularity contest, nutrition and health are extremely serious subjects for me.

I spent the majority of my life believing good genetics were all you needed to avoid cancer. However if that were true we wouldn’t have gone from an overall cancer rate of 4% (per the CDC) to approximately 42.5% (47% if male and 38% if female … at last estimate and still climbing) in 100 years. What has changed during that time frame? Simple, both lifestyle and diet have changed dramatically. If reading information that doesn’t support your bad habits bothers you, then you need to stop reading. Since the email writer asked, I have no intention of downplaying the health hazards of food or lifestyle because someone doesn’t want to know the truth.

For all of you that didn’t write the offensive email I apologize for my obvious irritation. When the person wrote that diet can’t affect cancer and that they were more concerned about the environment than cancer knowing we are in a fight for life it ticked me off! I had seriously considered replying to the email directly but wanted to make certain that I was not misquoted later. A response on my blog seemed the logical way to go.

Unrelated notes:

Sorry for ending on a less than warm and fuzzy note. In spite of my rant (which I wrote last night) we had a wonderful Saturday. The rain that had been threatening today held off until 8pm. Our day was relaxing and a little on the lazy side. I enjoy my lazy days with my hubby. For those of you that don’t know stress reduction is also important for those faced with cancer. That is one reasons we make a point to have low keyed weekends at our house. ;-)

Tomorrow morning we are back to the farmers’ market. As geeky as this sounds I am really looking forward to it. I get so much pleasure out of shopping for local produce at the market. I will write a quick post to let you know what I come home with.

I need to get back to relaxing. I hope the weekend is treating you well.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Good Evening

(picture of a portion of the bean shelf in my pantry)

Sorry I went MIA on you today. I had to run my Friday errands and then finish up the final Cornell course for the plant based nutrition certification. If you left a comment that I have posted yet, and there are quite a few, I apologize. I only have a few minutes to spend on the computer this evening. I will get those comments posted along with my replies posted as soon as I can. Tomorrow is looking good for me in terms of available time.

Interesting item from this course regarding protein:

We all get that same question, “Where do you get your protein,” more often than any of us care to remember I bet. I must have answered that question 100 times in a last few years. Our society is so obsessed with protein consumption. This fact still fascinates me since I don’t see many Americans wasting away from inadequate protein consumption.

The fact that stood out to me in this course has to do with the composition of human breast milk. I think we would all agree that humans grow most quickly during the time when they are consuming breast milk. The human baby doubles in size rapidly as all parents know. Did you know that human breast milk only contains 5% protein? This was quite a shock to me. My first thought was if a baby which grows rapidly does so on a 5% protein diet what does that imply about the protein needs of adults that shouldn’t be doubling in size?

Additionally a whole food plant diet (no protein supplements) contains on average 10% protein. I wanted to share this information so that you could ponder it over the weekend. I will be writing a more detailed post on protein as time permits but I found this fascinating and wanted to share it before it fell out of my head.

If you have any particular questions about protein that you want me to cover in that post please comment here or send me an email in case I need to do a little research to do your question justice.

Fun Facts Friday:

For today’s fun facts Friday here are my questions for you and my answers:

1) Do you have any weird phobias? I am deathly afraid of sharks. After seeing the first Jaws movie when I was a young teen I have been terrified of sharks ever since. I used to love swimming in the ocean since we spent summers in South Carolina on the beach. After that movie I would not go in the water above my waist. Give me a pool any day. What are you irrationally afraid of?

2) Does your significant other have an embarrassing nickname for you or do you have one for them? I call my husband Boo Boo, which he doesn’t love but is now used to it. Thankfully he is much nicer than I am and calls me sweetumms. I clearly got the better end of this deal. What are your pet names?

3) What is your favorite food? This was the toughest question for me since I like almost everything. But if I had to pick just one thing based on taste only, not nutrition, it would be mushroom ragu over polenta. If nutrition is a factor then I would pick fresh fruit and veggie juice with beet, a new favorite.

I can’t wait to read your answers.

Unrelated note:

I need to go for now. But I will be back tomorrow and will be chattier. Happy Friday everyone!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Fast Food My Way


I have mentioned that I like to keep cooked brown rice in the refrigerator. That brown rice came in very handy tonight for dinner. I got busy doing other things and didn’t plan dinner tonight. When Dan called and said he was on his way home from the office at 8:30, I knew I needed to move quickly. Since I had the cooked brown rice all I needed to do was make something quick and nutritious to top the rice. Here is what I made:

Southern Italian Seasoned Veggies over Brown Rice
Serves 3

Ingredients:

1 large yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed (allow to stand 10 minutes so allicin can develop)
¼ cup water
14 ounces canned diced tomatoes (no salt added would be best, #’s assumed regular tomatoes with salt)
½ tablespoon Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons capers, drained
1 – 2 tablespoons hot crushed peppers (wet hots)
2 carrots, thinly sliced
6 cups baby spinach roughly chopped, to be added after the heat is off
¼ bell pepper, thinly sliced to be used as a raw garnish
3 cups cooked brown rice
12 basil leaves, torn
3 tablespoons pine nuts

Directions:

Water sauté the onions and garlic until they begin to soften (about 3 minutes). Add the remaining ingredients except the spinach, bell pepper and rice. Cook for approximately 15 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings as you desire. Once the onions are tender turn off the heat and add stir in the spinach so it can wilt.

To serve, put the brown rice in the bottom of the bowl or plate. Top with veggies, bell pepper, pine nuts and basil. Serve hot.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories 393.6
Calories From Fat (18%) - 70.83

Total Fat - 8.47g
Saturated Fat - 0.93g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 460.06mg
Potassium - 1122.44mg
Total Carbohydrates - 72.37g
Fiber - 10.66g
Sugar - 12.35g
Protein - 11.46g

Comments:

This is one of my quick veggie topped grain dinners. Dan thought this version was particularly good. I liked how quick and easy it was. Anything I can make in the time it takes him to get home from the office is fine in my book.

Each serving of this recipe contains approximately 15,400IU of vitamin A, 65mg of vitamin C, 180mg of calcium, 180mcg of folate, 320mcg of folate, 330mg of phosphorus, 190mg of magnesium, and 21 mcg of selenium. Considering how fast this meal came together I am very happy with the nutrition stats.

Unrelated note:

I am still trying to catch up on my nutrition reading. There may be a few more of the health articles in the next few days. Tomorrow I need to run my usual errands. But I will be back on-line in the afternoon. It has been a long week and I am thrilled that tomorrow is Friday. I hope you are all having a great evening.
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