Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Quick Update and a Great Morning!


Being a short term single lady since yesterday morning has been odd but somewhat freeing. Without Dan around I felt no need to cook which resulted is a lot more me time which I really enjoyed. I spent yesterday being somewhat lazy and reading a new book. I ordered “Integrative Oncology” from Amazon and it arrived yesterday early afternoon. My nose was in the book for a few hours. I have read about 1/3 of the 580 pages so far. Once I finish reading the book I will write a quick review so you can decide whether you are interested in reading it or not.

Later in the evening I watched a DVD from Netflix, “Change Your Food, Change Your Life”. If you are new to veganism or aren’t focused on the health aspects of veganism this may contain some new information for you. Honestly there wasn’t any new info in it for me, but I enjoyed most of it just the same. Although I felt that the DVD referenced processed food (commercial veggie burgers, Tofu pups, that sort of thing) far more than is healthy. The focus of this DVD is split between weight and health. I also found it confusing that they seem to love Dr. McDougall and then gushed over Veganaise and made a recipe using at least ½ cup of the stuff. These are picky criticisms though. Overall it was interesting and may get the attention of a few folks that are interested in improving their health or weight. Here is a link to the author’s website, vegan-gal.

When Dan travels for work the cats are normally quite restless and spent the majority of the night walking around crying. However last night the cats actually slept. I guess they only had to be 9 years old to grow up. This is the first time in 9 years they didn’t keep me up all night when Dan was traveling. Yay for a good night’s sleep!

This morning the weather is absolutely glorious. At 6am it was 67 degrees and 43% humidity. I immediately turned off the air conditioning and opened the windows to let the fresh air into the house. Then I hit the pavement. It was far too nice outside to exercise in the house this morning.

Now I need to go make myself something for breakfast. I am ravenous this morning. That is what happens when I skip dinner, unless marinated mushrooms qualify as a meal. Clearly I need my hubby around to make certain that I take care of myself. ;-) Talk to you again soon.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Review: 2010 Latest in Clinical Nutrition DVD from Dr. Michael Greger


Last year we purchased the first three DVDs from Dr. Greger after they were recommended. I was very pleased with the videos and ordered the 2010 as soon as it was available. I have watched this video three times and I think it the best of his series so far.  The thing I like the most about the information that is presented is that it is all backed up by scientific studies and the DVD shows you the paper so you can read the study if you desire.

I learned quite a few new things from the latest DVD which always make me happy. I would highly recommend these DVDs to anyone that is interested in nutrition, vegan or omni. So that you can see the breadth of topics that are covered I am going to list the chapter titles and then highlight a few things that I found particularly interesting. Here is the chapter titles covered in the 3 hour DVD presentation:

1. Latest on alfalfa sprouts
2. Latest on aspartame
3. Latest on chlorella
4. Latest on coffee
5. Latest on gluten
6. Latest on gum Arabic
7. Latest on Herbalife
8. Latest on Juice Plus
9. Latest on MSG
10. Latest on Spirulina
11. Stevia: Harmless?
12. Latest on vitamin E
13. Latest on yerba mate
14. The healthiest herbal tea
15. The healthiest lentil
16. The healthiest apple
17. Best fruits for cancer prevention
18. The EPIC study
19. Improving memory through diet
20. Best cooking method
21. Latest on raw food diets
22. Deep fried toxins
23. Benzene in carrot juice?
24. Zinc gel for olds?
25. Dietary osteoarthritis treatment
26. Diet and rheumatoid arthritis
27. Diet and lichen planus
28. Apthous ulcer mystery solved
29. Homeopathy: useless?
30. Migrating fish bones
31. Cholesterol gallstones
32. New target cholesterol
33. New cholesterol fighters
34. Low fat or whole food?
35. Statin muscle toxicity
36. Can cholesterol be too low?
37. Largest study ever
38. Meat and multiple myeloma
39. Wart cancer viruses in food
40. Hepatitis E virus in pork
41. Greasy orange rectal leakage
42. Bristol stool scale
43. Fecal bacteria survey
44. Chicken out of UTIs
45. Toxic megacolo superbug (C.diff)
46. Drug residues in meat
47. Mad fish disease
48. Dietary theory of Alzheimer’s
49. Reversing cognitive decline
50. Exercise and breast cancer
51. Soy and breast cancer serviva
52. Comparing chocolate sources
53. Soy milk blocks tea benefits?
54. Asian paradox
55. Cold Steeping green tea
56. Matcha: harmful?
57. Tea: how much is too much?
58. Overdosing on greens
59. Caffeine during pregnancy
60. Iron during pregnancy
61. Folic acid supplements: harmful?
62. Crop nutrient decline: fiction?
63. Obesity-causing chicken virus
64. Eating obesity causes obesity?
65. Gut bacteria and obesity
66. Sex hormone binding proteins
67. Dairy and sexual precocity
68. Acne and cancer connection
69. Anabolic steroids in meat
70. What’s in a burger
71. Protein and puberty
72. Moms overestimate dietary quality
73. Allergic fish worms
74. Prozac residues in fish
75. Dioxins in the food supply
76. Fish intake biomarkers
77. Hair testing for mercury
78. Distilled fish oil: harmless?
79. Obesity-causing pollutants in food
80. Industrial pollutants in vegans
81. Inverted rabbit sign
82. Vegan protein status
83. Is protein bad to the bone?
84. Diet and marijuana receptors
85. Plant-based diets and mood
86. Chili peppers: harmful?
87. Dates: harmless?
88. Dragon fruit: harmful?
89. Kimchi: helpful?
90. Kombucha tea: harmless?
91. Goji berries: harmful?
92. Licorice: helpful?
93. Peanut butter: harmless?
94. Petroleum jelly: harmful?
95. Vinegar: helpful?
96. Vitamin D pills vs. tanning beds
97. Melatonin and breast cancer
98. Mitochondrial theory of aging
99. Convergence theory of evidence

Summary Highlights:

To give you a flavor of some of the information on the DVD I wanted to highlight a few bits of information that I found fascinating.

Tea cold versus hot brewed:

The information on the antioxidant activity on hot versus cold steeped tea was fascinating.  As you know we drink green tea all day long for the health benefits Since I now know that cold steeping results in more antioxidants we have changed to cold brewing our green tea. It not only increases the antioxidant level but also reduces the bitterness. The theory as to why cold steeped tea has more antioxidants is that the hot water destroys some of the catechins reducing the nutrition of the hot brewed tea.

Influence of cooking methods on antioxidants:

Scientists studied 20 veggies, 6 cooking methods using 3 different measures of antioxidant activity. The worst cooking method was boiling, followed by pressure cooking in terms of antioxidant loss. The best cooking method was microwaving. A few foods were unaffected by cooking (in terms of antioxidants) these were artichokes, beets and onions. Two foods had more antioxidants no matter how they were cooked, carrots and celery. Green beans also had more antioxidants when cooked unless they were boiled or pressure cooked.

MRSA, C.diff, Salmonella, Campylobacter, and E. coli at the supermarket:

I have thought for some time that meat was toxic, but now I know I was more correct than I realized. If someone in your life still eats meat the contamination chapters alone are worth the price of the DVD. I had no idea that vast majority of meat had E.coli but needless to say that completely grossed me out. *shivers*

Summary:

As you can tell I was quite pleased with the DVD. It contains a ton of useful information, is reasonably priced and the proceeds go to a good cause (the Humane Society). I will be buying the updates every year. I hope you check out the DVD.  As always I purchased this DVD it was not sent to me to review.

Unrelated note:

Dan is off to Indianapolis today, boo. This means I have a ton of free time today. I am probably going to stick to veggie and fruit juice most of the day today. Maybe a little spiralized zucchini if I feel like I need to chew something. If I come up with any new juice combinations I will be back with an update.

I want to get caught up on my nutrition reading. I will chat with you later. ;-)  I hope everyone is having a great Tuesday.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Strawberry Banana Soft Serve with Goji Berries


I have mentioned before that Dan has strawberry banana soft serve most evenings so I thought it was time I posted the recipe. This is something that I only roughly measure because I make it most evenings. Since Dan is having fresh juice with kale every day I have stopped adding kale to his soft serve so that he doesn’t get too many raw cruciferous veggies.  Eating two bunches of raw kale per week and another bunch of collards is more than enough raw cruciferous veggies.  No sense overdoing it, LOL. To make up for the loss of kale I started adding goji berries for additional antioxidants. Here is Dan’s most recent favorite dessert:

Strawberry Banana Soft Serve with Goji Berries
Serves one hungry husband

Ingredients:

¼ cup walnuts
¼ cup oatmeal, dry
2 frozen bananas
2 cups frozen strawberries
2 tablespoons goji berries, dried
1 pinch cinnamon
1 pinch ginger, powder
stevia, if you need sweetener
water necessary to process (I use about ½ cup)

Directions:

Place the walnuts and oatmeal in the blender and process until it is mostly powder. Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Serve immediately, preferably in a chilled bowl. I have little ice cream bowls that are metal in the center and melamine (I think) on the exterior so the interior is cold but the exterior isn’t. Them bowls came from Crate and Barrel. I keep the bowls in the freezer since Dan has soft serve most nights. He tells me he needs the calories. ;-)

Note:  I did make this in a Vitamix. If you are using a less powerful blender you will probably need more water to get the fruit to process completely.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 631.22
Calories From Fat (27%) - 173.22

Total Fat - 20.71g
Saturated Fat - 2.18g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 13.16mg
Potassium - 1502.54mg
Total Carbohydrates - 115.53g
Fiber - 19.49g
Sugar - 51.02g
Protein - 13.16g

Comments:

Dan has always loves dessert, particularly frozen dessert, and this is no exception. He happily eats this at night, no complaints. Bananas add a creamy texture, strawberries and goji berries add antioxidants. Walnuts provide healthy fat. Oats add calories. Cinnamon helps reduce the blood glucose spike. Powdered ginger helps protect his heart. Not too shabby for a rich creamy dessert that he enjoys.

If I were making this for myself it would be 3 or 4 servings, but Dan loves sweets so he eats the entire recipe. This recipe contains approximately 140mg of vitamin C, 100mg of calcium, 130mcg of folate, 260mg of phosphorus, 165mg of magnesium, and 14mcg of selenium. Nice stats for dessert if you ask me. ;-)

Unrelated note:

Today has been a bit busy for me. I spent the day rewatching the 2010 Dr. Greger DVD so that I could write up the review and make notes of the articles to obtain. The DVD this year is the best one yet. I learned quite a few things, which always makes me happy. My goal is to get the review and highlights up this week as soon as I find a few studies the doc mentioned and read and analyze them.

I also spent today getting organized for Dan’s trip to Indianapolis. I like to have restaurant options mapped out and healthy snacks that he can take in his carry-on bag.

I hope everyone had a great Monday. I will talk to you all again tomorrow.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Indian Flavored Veg over Rice and Dahl


The mid day meal at our house was a simple but filling rice and bean dish topped with veggies and a few cashews. Nothing fancy just plan stick to your ribs food. The meals I cook for Dan and I tend to be much lighter but my folks are accustomed to heavier food so I try to accommodate them when I can. Today I decided to make this dish based on a few things. I wanted something that would cook mostly unattended and that only took two pots. No sense making more pots dirty than necessary. In the end this meal cooked for less than 45 minutes (I used my enameled cast iron for the rice which expedited the process), and most of that time it was cooking without me. I spent maybe 15 minutes preparing this meal. Here is what I did:

Indian Flavored Veg over Rice and Dahl
Makes 6 servings

Rice ingredients:

1 cup moong dahl (split mung beans)
2 cups brown basmati rice
5 cups water
1 cinnamon stick
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon turmeric (this could be increased to 3/4 teaspoon)
¼ teaspoon black pepper (which makes the turmeric more bioavailable)
½ teaspoon black mustard seed

Vegetable Topping Ingredients:

2 cups yellow onion, chopped
8 cloves garlic, peeled and finely minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, minced
¼ cup water to sauté aromatics
2 cups tomatoes, pureed (2 large tomatoes processed in your blender)
1 teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon black mustard seed
½ teaspoon cumin seed
½ teaspoon coriander seed
¼ teaspoon fenugreek
1 pinch red crushed pepper
3 carrots, cut into bite sized pieces
3 cups green beans, cut into bite sized pieces
1 small head cauliflower cut into bite sized pieces (approximate 4 cups)
2 cups cabbage, julienned
½ pound mushrooms, cut into bite size pieces (I used shitake mushroom caps)
13.5 ounce can reduced fat coconut milk
1 tomato, cut into bite sized pieces
1 red bell pepper, cut into thin strips, for garnish
¼ cup cashews, for garnish

Directions:

Combine the rice ingredients and bring to boil, covered. Then reduce to a simmer and cook until the water has been absorbed.

In a separate pan water sauté the onion, garlic and ginger for 3 minutes, until just beginning soften. Add the spices, pureed tomatoes, carrot and green beans and cook for 15 minutes. When you are 15-20 minutes from serving add the cauliflower, cabbage, mushrooms and cook for 10 minutes. Add the tomato and coconut milk so it can warm through.

When you are ready to serve taste the sauce for seasoning and add salt and pepper as desired. Serve the veggies over the rice and top with the red bell pepper and cashews. This would also be good with fresh cilantro sprinkled over the top but I didn’t have any on hand. ;-)

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 531.82
Calories From Fat (16%) - 84.82

Total Fat - 9.41g
Saturated Fat-  4.34g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 79.23mg
Potassium - 1395.48mg
Total Carbohydrates-  96.1g
Fiber - 16.43g
Sugar - 13.49g
Protein - 18.82g

Comments:

This is an intentionally mildly flavored Indian meal so that it would appeal to my parents. If you know you like Indian food I would suggest that you ramp up the seasonings, particularly the hot crushed peppers.

I made this dish because I thought it would appeal to everyone (vegans and omnis), and it did. However it was incredibly filling! Dinner tonight will need to be on the light side. We ate over 4 hours ago and my stomach feels as though we just finished eating. I am not accustomed to eating a meal this heavy. ;-)

The timing of when I added ingredients was based on how they react when being cooked. This is why the carrots and green beans went in early and the red bell pepper not at all. However I added the chunks of tomato at the end so they would remain fairly whole even though lycopene is more bioavailable when cooked.

Unrelated Note:

Today has been busier at our place than most Sundays. It isn’t that we did more than usual but somehow the day got away from us.

We started early this morning at the farmers’ market. Even though we arrived at 6:30 am we didn’t leave until almost 7:30. As usual we had to chat with the farmers and catch up on what they had been up to. It is so nice to get a chance to know the people that grow your food.

We came home with a nice haul from the market. This morning I bought: 2 bunches red kale, 1 bunch collards, 8 beets with the greens for juice, ½ pound fresh ginger, 1 pint blueberries, 1 pint black raspberries, 4 zucchini, 2 Asian cucumbers (haven’t had these before), 1 quart French green beans, 1 head cabbage, 1 small basket peaches, 8 tomatoes, 2 cantaloupes. Dan thought we were out of frig room so I stopped. But when we got home I had room to spare. It is so nice to have the extra frig space. Of course now I am worried that I didn’t buy enough. But with Dan in Indianapolis this week we should be fine on produce. Plus I can always walk down the street to the grocery store if we run out of anything critical. The best part of living in town is being able to walk to the grocery store. I love being able to get things accomplished without needing the car. ;-)

After the store we came home for breakfast. I was craving veggies so I made a huge salad for us with Swiss chard, cucumber, broccoli sprouts, avocado, tomatoes, butter beans, and salsa. Not your standard breakfast but it works and does help us to get those fruit and veggie servings in. Dan had a mid morning snack of strawberry and banana soft serve. I used this recipe but half banana and half strawberry.

While we were having breakfast we watching the 2010 Dr. Greger DVD on nutrition. It was the second time I saw it and the first for Dan. Dr. Greger included some very interesting stuff on this DVD. If anyone is interested in nutrition I would say you should pick this up. The price is reasonable and the proceeds go to the Human Society. I want to do a little research first but will write a formal review of this DVD soon and highlight a few of the items that caught my attention. As usual this is something I purchased, it was not sent to me to review.

I hope you are having a great weekend. I need to make us some fresh veggie and fruit juice and figure out what we are having for dinner. At the moment salad is the most appealing to me. Talk to again soon

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Mashed Millet and Cauliflower


This is a recipe that I haven’t made in more years than I can remember. It was something that I used to make often a long time ago. When I had it again today I couldn’t remember why I stopped making this. Clearly that was a mistake. The final dish is reminiscent of mashed potatoes only it is a whole grain and vegetable side dish in one. I use it exactly like mashed potatoes topped with gravy. The final texture depends on cooking the millet and cauliflower until they are completely soft so they will get smooth in your food processor. Here is what I did:

Mashed Millet and Cauliflower
Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

1 cup millet, dry
½ cup yellow onion, peeled and minced
3 cup water
1 small head cauliflower (approximately 4 cups of florets)
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast (to add buttery flavor)
white pepper and salt to taste

Directions:

Combine millet, onion and water in a covered saucepan and bring to boil. Now reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. You want the millet to be very soft and absorb the water.

While the millet is cooking steam the cauliflower florets until they are very tender.

Place the cauliflower into your food processor and pulse until smooth. Add the cooked millet and onions and nutritional yeast and process until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings as you desire.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 148
Calories From Fat (8%) - 12.45

Total Fat - 1.49g
Saturated Fat - 0.26g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 25.76mg
Potassium - 287.65mg
Total Carbohydrates - 29.06g
Fiber-  4.73g
Sugar - 2.17g
Protein - 5.14g

Comments:

We think this makes a wonderful substitute for mashed potatoes. Sometimes I crave comfort food and this is a great dish for those times. It also reheats well in the microwave.

If you want to make this really decadent drizzle a litte truffle oil over the top and finish with truffle salt.  Amazing!  Assuming you like truffles that is. ;-)

Unrelated Note:

Since Dan will be out of the office a little while next week due to his trip to Indianapolis he needed to work today. This means I had the day to myself, except for the company of the felines that is. Being by myself I thought the mashed millet and cauliflower was a great idea for lunch and it was. But I also have leftovers for later this week which makes me very happy. ;-)

I want to spend a little more time I the kitchen today. There are a few odds and ends left over from the last trip to the farmers market that I want to use up today. These items may turn into soup since that makes great leftovers for lunch. For now I want to get back into the kitchen and decide what I am cooking.

I hope everyone is having a great weekend. I hope to be back later today with an update.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Lettuce Wraps filled with Lemon Marinated Veggies and Topped with Flavored Nut Cheese


Today has been a busy one for me. I had a few errands and need to check on the parents. By the time I got everything finished there wasn’t much time for cooking. When this happens I turn to salad, like I often do. I got some nuts soaking for nut cheese since two hours is enough soak time to make them easy to turn into cheese. At the same time I cut up veggies to marinate in lemon juice. Instead of making salad I decided to go with lettuce wraps tonight. However this works just as well as a salad if you prefer. Dan thinks it is easier to eat as a salad. ;-) Here is what I made tonight:

Parsley and Sun-Dried Tomato Macadamia, Cashew and Sunflower Seed Cheese
Makes 16 servings (approximately 1 ounce each depending on how much water is absorbed by the nuts)

Ingredients:

1 cup macadamia nuts, soaked in water for at least 2 hours, and well drained
½ cup raw sunflower seeds, soaked in water for at least 2 hours, and well drained
1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for at least 2 hours, and well drained
1 lemon zested and juiced (less if you aren’t a fan of lemon)
1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed
2 tablespoons white miso
6 sun-dried tomatoes, finely minced
¼ cup fresh parsley, finely minced

Directions:

Drain the nuts and seeds well and place them in your food processor. Add the juice and zest from one lemon, garlic and white miso. If you aren’t a huge fan of lemon don’t use the zest and start with half the lemon juice but I think it needs the lemon flavor. Puree until the mixture is smooth. If you want it thinner add water a tablespoon at the time until you get the texture you desire. Stir the sun-dried tomato and parsley into the cheese. If you use the food processor you may get the parsley and tomato too finely ground resulting in a muddy appearance. This will keep in the refrigerator for at least 5 days.

Nutritional Information for 1/16th of the recipe:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 126.45
Calories From Fat (75%) - 95.1

Total Fat - 11.36g
Saturated Fat - 1.7g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 97.92mg
Potassium - 139.57mg
Total Carbohydrates - 5.31g
Fiber - 1.59g
Sugar - 1.38g
Protein - 3.07g

Comments:

This is another variation of a mild nut cheese. I posted it to show that you can use many different nuts and seeds to make vegan cheese. I added sun-dried tomatoes and fresh parsley to this one to add a little flavor to an otherwise mild cheese. This recipe makes a lot of nut cheese. If you are single start with ½ or maybe even ¼ of the recipe.

Next Recipe: Lemon Marinated Veggies

One thing I have learned about food without added oil is that it needs flavor. Acid like lemon juice and vinegar works well. Adding a little garlic, ginger, sriracha also makes a big difference. Here is the remainder of the recipe:

Lemon Marinated Veggies for Lettuce Wraps
Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 cucumbers, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced into half moons
1 red bell pepper, stemmed and seeded and cut into thin strips
2 carrots, thinly julienned
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 lemon, zested and juiced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1 head romaine lettuce for wrapper
2 servings Parsley and Sun-Dried Tomato Macadamia, Cashew and Sunflower Seed Cheese from above

Directions:

Combine all the ingredients except the romaine and nut cheese in your refrigerator. Stir periodically to make certain all the veggies get coated with the lemon juice. They need to marinate at least 2 hours so they absorb lemon and garlic flavor. Overnight would not be too long to marinate the veggies. I think they are just as good 24 hours later so you may want to make double which is what I do sometimes. To serve eliminate the excess juice so that your salad isn’t soggy.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 262.84
Calories From Fat (41%) - 107.99

Total Fat - 12.91g
Saturated Fat - 1.91g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 219.68mg
Potassium - 1565.5mg
Total Carbohydrates - 34.83g
Fiber - 13.5g
Sugar - 14.53g
Protein-  9.34g

Comments:

This is a good hot weather dish. The components can be made the night before of in the morning so that all you have to do is put it together when you get home from work. If you are like my hubby you will prefer this as a salad. I like it as lettuce wraps. Either way it tastes great to us.

Fun Facts Friday:

Since I bailed on your guys last week on Fun Facts Friday I knew I shouldn’t overlook it this week. I have some interesting questions for you all today.

1. What is the most unusual food you have ever eaten, not limited to vegan food? I have eaten some pretty crazy stuff so this one is actually a tough question for me. I guess the strangest thing was cotton candy wrapped eel at the MiniBar in DC. Oddly it was excellent and not at all what you would have expected. The couple we were there with was also hesitant to try this but we all agreed it was strangely good. For those of you that can get seats at the MiniBar they can accommodate vegetarians but not vegans or at least that was the case the last time we were there. Just to be clear my husband and I spent the vast majority of our life as omnivores. I suspect many of the things we have consumed in the past would make most of you cringe that is not my intention, just answering the question honestly.

2. If money were no object where would you retire? For me it is Italy hands down. My heart belongs to Dan first and Italy second. Both Dan and I love our trips to Italy. The only problem is where in Italy and that is a very tough question. We love Tuscany, but the Veneto is gorgeous and the Amalfi Coast is so welcoming. I don’t know that we could ever actually narrow it down to one place. ;-)

3. How many fruit and vegetable servings do you eat on average per day? I have been chatting with some friends about this one a lot lately. I have read that most Americans only consume 3 servings of fruits and veggies per day (total not each) and most of those are in the food of potatoes which I don’t even count as a veggie that is a starch. *rolls eye* For years I have thought the minimum fruit and veggie servings per day should be 10 and many of my friends thought I was nuts. So I tracked our servings for a while to get an average. Excluding our fresh pressed juiced which adds many servings we are averaging about 20 servings a day. How about you? And, if you don’t eat a many vegetables and fruits why not? This is a question that has stumped me for a while so I would love to hear the reasons why not.

Vegan Friendly Restaurants in Indianapolis:

Dan will be in Indianapolis next week for a day and a half for work. Does anyone have any restaurant suggestions that would be good for one vegan and one omnivore? I found a few places on line that may work but was hoping one or two or you have personal experience with a restaurant or two in town.

Unrelated note:

As I mentioned today as a little hectic at our place which is why this is my first post of the day. Like all Fridays I needed to take care of the few things and check on my parents.

After I finished with my errands I got a chance to try out a small handheld vacuum I purchased to clean the carpet on our stairs of cat hair. Much to my surprise this little machine has great suction. It performed much better than I expected for the price. As you all know I have three long hair cat hair makers so our stairs tend to get a little fuzzy. This machine cleaned beautifully. If you own animals and need a hand held vacuum I can vouch for the suction on this machine.

The 2010 Dr. Greger DVD arrived today. If time permits the new DVD will be on my viewing schedule this weekend. I will let you know if I learn anything new and exciting.

For now I need to go clean my kitchen and do a little meditation with Dan. Talk to you all tomorrow.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Stir “Fried” Salad?


Dinner tonight started as one thing and ended up being something else when I saw how few calories it had. My initial thought was to make lettuce wraps filled with the mushrooms, bell pepper and onions, but since I wasn’t in the mood to make two dishes I added some things to it and ended up with a salad. Rice was included for calories and bulk. Nori was included because I don’t think there is such a thing as too many sea vegetables. We can all use the trace minerals they contain. Edamame added calories and protein. Here is what I did:

Stir “Fried” Salad
Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 cup shitakes, stems removed caps sliced
1 bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
¼ cup yellow onion, peeled and thinly sliced
2 tablespoons liquid aminos
1 cup japonica rice
2 cups water
2 heads romaine hearts, shredded
2 tablespoons mirin
1 cup edamame, shelled
1 sheet nori, thinly sliced

Directions:

Marinate veggies buy combining the shitake caps, red bell pepper and onions with the liquid aminos. Toss to coat and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Now spread the veggies on a single layer using two teflex sheets and dehydrate for approximately 2 hours at 105 degrees to soften the vegetables.

Make rice by combining rice and water and bringing to a boil. Now cover and reduce to a simmer and cook until the water is absorbed. I use an enamel cast iron pan and the rice was ready in 35 minutes though the package indicated 50 minutes cooking time. The pan seems to make a big difference in the time required.

Toss the shredded romaine with mirin and top with rice, veggies, edamame and nori strips.

Nutritional information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 316.31
Calories From Fat (12%) - 36.88

Total Fat - 4.56g
Saturated Fat - 0.67g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 518.28mg
Potassium - 1333.91mg
Total Carbohydrates - 61.17g
Fiber - 13.28g
Sugar - 8.36g
Protein - 13.82g

Comments:

This was a great late night dinner. Dan was late again last night because he is swamped at work. When he got home we watched a movie together while we had this salad. We both enjoyed the salad and thought it was very clean and tasty. I liked the salty bits of dehydrated veggies and the acidity from the mirin. This will definitely be something that I will make again. As usual I made leftovers so that Dan and I had lunch for today.

Each serving of this salad contains approximately 19,000IU of vitamin A, 120mg of vitamin C, 150mg of calcium, 5mg of iron, 590mcg of folate, 330mcg of vitamin K, 380mg of phosphorus, 150mg of magnesium, and 13mcg of selenium.

Unrelated note:

Last night Dan and I watched video from Netflix called “Food Matters”. It was an interesting documentary that discussed the benefits of eating real food in terms of health. There were a few items that made me wince, like when it was mentioned that cooked food is toxic. *shakes head* But overall it was a good video and one worth watching if you are interested in nutrition.

Yesterday I made a batch of large lima beans since we finished the chili we had been using for taco salad. Cooked beans are something that I keep on hand. Since I don’t buy canned beans it means I end up cooking beans every few days. Now I have 6 cups of cooked beans in the refrigerator. As soon as I figure out what I am going to do with them I will share that with you.

Today is going to be another scorcher for us. According to the weather channel we may reach 100 today. When we got up this morning it was already 83 degrees so Dan exercised inside this morning while I made his lunch, fresh juice and breakfast. Apparently I didn’t sleep well last night which meant my exercise didn’t happen until almost 10am. On a related exercise note Dan ordered us some adjusted dumbbells. I am very excited for those to arrive. The ones he ordered can be adjusted from 2.5 to 52.5 pounds. I love new exercise clothes and equipment so this feels like Christmas to me. Once they arrive and we have a chance to use them I will let you know how easy they are to adjust.

For now I want to finish reading a nutrition book, catch up on my on-line nutrition reading, do a little cleaning and spend some time in the kitchen. After that I will be back.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Pretty in Pink Cookies: made from juice pulp


My husband has a vicious sweet tooth which many of you know by now. He is always “looking” for a sweet treat. After a number of you asked me what I do with the juice pulp I thought maybe my husband would like some “cookies”, but a healthy version of course. I have made something like this before and you will find the recipe here. Today I wanted to make a healthier version of the cookie. I reduced the nuts to see what would happen. Here is what I did:

Pretty in Pink Cookies: made from juice pulp
Makes 46 cookies

Ingredients:

juice pulp from 10 carrots, 2 apples, 2 lemons, 1 inch ginger, 2 beets
2 cups raw cashews
1 cup macadamia nuts
2 cups reduced fat shredded coconut
2 teaspoons cardamom powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
1 teaspoon ginger, powder
stevia, to taste (or you can used a few dates instead which will add moisture as well as sweetness)
water, as much as necessary for the dough to just form (I used ½ cup)

Directions:

Grind the raw cashews and macadamia nuts in your food processor until a rough texture forms. Be careful not to over process or you may end up with nut butter. Add the coconut and pulse to mix. Combine the fruit pulp and nuts in a large mixing bowl. Add the seasonings and sweeten according to your taste. Now add water 1 tablespoon at the time and stir to combine. Take a small amount of the mixture in your hand and try to form it into a ball. Once it holds together you have added enough water. I added ½ cup of water.

Line you dehydrate trays with teflex sheets. You will need 3 sheets for this recipe.

Use a small disher (little ice cream scoop) to form cookie balls. Place the balls on the teflex lined trays. I used 5 rows of 4 to allow air to circulate.

Dehydrate at 105 degrees until the exterior is firm but the interior is still soft and cookie-like. Store in a sealed container in your refrigerator.

Nutrition information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories 56.38
Calories From Fat (80%) - 45.35

Total Fat - 5.04g
Saturated Fat - 1.54g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 0.75mg
Potassium - 39.41mg
Total Carbohydrates - 2.46g
Fiber - 1.76g
Sugar - 0.38g
Protein - 1.17g

Comments:

This recipe makes a light tasty cookie. I really like them particularly because they are light. The coconut flavor is very, very light which I did intentionally. Dan is not wild about coconut so I need to keep the coconut flavor to a minimum. I had a couple of these with my afternoon green tea which was a nice healthy treat. I also think they will be wonderful crumbled over a little berry soft serve.

You can also make these cookies with more nuts and/or coconut oil but rather defeats the purpose of a healthy snack, or at least I think it does. ;-)  I have run the nutrtional numbers on the raw cookies on some blogs and many of them are over 200 calories a piece mostly from fat and sugar.  That is just too much for me.

Unrelated Note:

As I expected yesterday ended up being a much longer day than it should have been. I ended up at Costco for a few veggies, because a girl can never have too many veggies, LOL. Now we have two refrigerators full and I can breathe a sigh of relief. ;-) I had to buy two more pair of yoga pants. I swear I don’t know which is worse, my produce or exercise attire addiction.

Being out of the house so long yesterday we had a quick salad and berry soft serve with kale for dinner last night. Nothing exciting this is why I didn’t post it.

Today is another scorcher here. At 6am it was 81 degrees and was 97 the last time I checked. Exercise has moved inside and appears to be staying there for the foreseeable future.

I mentioned the glass straws Dan brought home from 105 degrees for me. I finally broke down and bought little cleaning brushes for them. I wanted to mention this since Aisling asked how I was cleaning them. The little brushes do a nice job and make the process much quicker and easier.

At the moment I have fresh mushrooms marinating to be dehydrated tonight. I have yet to figure out exactly how I am going to use them. But I will come up with something and will try to get it posted tonight.

I hope everyone is having a great Wednesday. Talk to you all soon.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Teriyaki Walnuts


I used to love teriyaki flavored nuts but the recipes always contained a lot of sugar and salt. However I have been missing them lately so I wanted to find a way to make them raw, lower in both sugar and salt. Lots of raw recipes use agave but I decided dates were a more natural alternative. Also I wasn’t crazy about the idea of using liquid aminos or soy sauce so I tried adding red miso instead. I choose red miso since it is darker. I also thought the red miso would help with the color. Here is what I did:

Teriyaki Walnuts
Serves 6

Ingredients:

1 cup walnuts, soaked for 2 hours to reduce tannins
2 medjool dates, pitted
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
1 teaspoon red miso
3 tablespoons water (or what is necessary to make a sauce to coat the nuts)
1 - 2 scoops stevia, to taste (optional)

Directions:

Drain the walnuts.

Combine the dates, garlic, ginger, and miso in your food processor. Add water a little at a time until you get a nice thick sauce that will coat the nuts. You may need to stop the food processor a few times to scrape the sides of the bowl. Taste the sauce to see if you need to add any sweetness. When you have a sauce remove the blade and add the nuts and toss to coat evenly with sauce.

Line your dehydrator with a teflex sheet and dehydrate at 115 degrees until the coating has dried. Mine took approximately 18 hours but it was humid here which will increase the time required.  The nuts will be very soft and sticky initially but will slowly get crispy and dry.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories  -138.24
Calories From Fat (77%) - 106.97

Total Fat - 12.79g
Saturated Fat - 1.21g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 36.38mg
Potassium - 109.61mg
Total Carbohydrates - 5.23g
Fiber - 1.6g
Sugar - 2.33g
Protein - 3.19g

Comments:

Dan and I are split on this recipe. I think it is perfect the way that it is and he thinks it needs to be sweeter, though he did take a handful with him this morning to work. ;-) If you have a sweet tooth like Dan add a scoop or two of stevia to the sauce. These nuts have a lot of flavor and are crispy after the lengthy drying. They will be a wonderful addition to salads. I will be making these often to keep on hand for salads and snacks.

Unrelated Note:

Today is going to be a busy one. I will try to come back later today with a dinner update. I hope you are all having a great Tuesday and are staying cool in this summer heat. Talk to you again soon.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Two Salads Tonight

(pictured:  Tomato and Onion salad in the center with the Green Bean, Potato and Celery on both sides)

We picked up some beautiful new potatoes and string beans at the farmers’ market on Sunday. When I bought them I was thinking of the pasta dish they make in Genoa, Italy with potatoes, green beans and basil pesto. Of course by the time I got around to cooking I had changed by mind 10 times. This is why I don’t bother to make a weekly menu. Maybe I should try just listing the main ingredients I want to use and then go from there, LOL.  I think that stands a better chance of working for me. ;-)  Here is what I made today:

Green Bean, Potato and Celery Salad
Serves 2 on a green salad

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 cups fresh green beans, cut into bite-sized pieces
8 ounces new potatoes, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 stalks celery, cut thinly on the bias (added this for crunch)
1 tablespoons capers, drained (rinsed to remove the surface sodium, the nutrition info assumes they are just drained)
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Whisk together the Dijon mustard, lemon zest and juice.

Steam the green beans until tender crisp, approximately 4 minutes. Place the green beans in the dressing and toss to coat. The hot green beans will absorb more dressing.

Steam the new potatoes until just tender when pierced with the tip of paring knife, approximately 10 minutes. The exact time will depend on the size you cut them. Place the cooked potatoes in the dressing with the green beans and toss to coat. Again, the hot potatoes will absorb more dressing.

Allow the veggies to cool to approximately room temperature and refrigerate until cold. Now add the celery, capers, and parsley. Taste for seasoning and add black pepper as desired.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 164.83
Calories From Fat (5%) - 9

Total Fat - 1.1g
Saturated Fat - 0.13g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 651.75mg
Potassium - 861.08mg
Total Carbohydrates - 36.98g
Fiber - 8.19g
Sugar - 4.62g
Protein - 5.48g

Comments:

This is good on top a green salad. I like that the potatoes and beans have a lot of flavor. I also like the salty pop from the capers and the freshness from the parsley and greens. Cold cooked potatoes have a low GI than hot potatoes, resulted in less of a blood glucose surge. Not only that but these cold potatoes have a nice flavor. ;-)

Each serving of this salad topping contains approximately 1,400IU of vitamin A, 50mg of vitamin C, 100mg of calcium, 90mcg of folate, 100mcg of vitamin K, 110mg of phosphorus, and 60mg of magnesium.

Next Recipe:

Being female I tend to be a little fickle. What that means today is I felt like I wanted two different salads tonight with dinner. Of course you don’t need to do this which is why I am giving the serving sizes as though you only make one salad not two.

To go with the green bean and potato salad I wanted to make a tomato and onion salad. I dressed it up with some fresh herbs and served it over greens. Here is what I did:

Tomato and Onion Salad
Serves 2

Ingredients:

¼ cup onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
2 cups tomatoes, cut into bite sized pieces
4 olives, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons fresh oregano, minced (or 2/3 teaspoon of dried)
¼ cup fresh basil, julienned
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:

Toss the onions in the wine vinegar and allow them to marinate for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and olives and toss to combine. Refrigerate until needed. Then add the fresh herbs and toss. Serve on top of greens or alone.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 59.12
Calories From Fat (18%) - 10.81

Total Fat - 1.25g
Saturated Fat - 0.16g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 75.52mg
Potassium - 509mg
Total Carbohydrates - 10.59g
Fiber - 4.09g
Sugar - 5.6g
Protein - 2.22g

Comments:

This is a standard tomato and onion salad only without olive oil. If you like heat this would be good with a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes or hot crushed peppers. We had this salad tonight on greens.

Each serving of this salad contains approximately 1,900IU of vitamin A, 30mg of vitamin C, 65mg of calcium, 35mg of folate, 35mcg of vitamin K, 50mg of phosphorus, and 25mg of magnesium.

Unrelated note:

Today was a bust in terms of attacking my to-do list. I only got about half way through. How does the day get away from me like that? It was nice to spend some time in the kitchen for a change. I do find cooking relaxing. But clearly I should have been multitasking, LOL.

Tomorrow is going to be another busy one. I will try to get at least one post up. I should know whether the teriyaki walnuts worked by tomorrow morning.

Time for me to sign out so that Dan and I can meditate before turning in for the evening. I hope everyone is having a great Monday. Talk to you tomorrow.

Mango, Apple and Mint Salad


Sometimes you just want a salad, or least that is what happens to me. ;-) I seem to crave healthy vegetables and fruit particularly in the summer. Yesterday was one of those days for me. After spending so much time on the new refrigerator project all I wanted was salad. Here is what I made:

Mango, Apple and Mint Salad
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon red miso
2 tablespoons mirin
¼ cup fresh mint, julienned
1 romaine heart, finely julienned
1 cup spinach, julienned
1 mango, peeled, pitted and diced
1 red delicious apple, diced (red delicious have the highest level of antioxidants)
2 tablespoons walnuts

Directions:

Whisk the miso and mirin together and set aside. Add more mirin if you want the dressing to be thinner.

Combine the mint, romaine and spinach and toss to evenly distribute. Place half of the greens on each plate. Top with the fruit and drizzle with the dressing. Finish with walnuts on top.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 230.3
Calories From Fat (22%) - 51.81

Total Fat - 6.83g
Saturated Fat - 0.78g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 362.14mg
Potassium - 1268.57mg
Total Carbohydrates - 48.07g
Fiber - 11.64g
Sugar - 27g
Protein - 7.25g

Comments:

This is a salad I put together quickly last night from what I had on hand. It is definitely better than the sum of its part. I had the same thing today for lunch. If you like mint this is really good. The one thing that I wished I had for this was teriyaki walnuts for garnish. Today I have a small test batch of raw teriyaki walnuts in the dehydrator. We should know by tomorrow how that experiment turned out. I can’t wait to sample one or two, LOL.

Unrelated note:

Sorry I haven’t been around this morning it has been a very busy day. Starting the day earlier to exercise and taking 45 minutes to make raw veggie and fruit juice for Dan to take to work means my morning have gotten more hectic. After Dan left for work I walked to the grocery store to pick up a few veggies, carrots, celery and broccoli sprouts. I prefer to walk to the store to get more activity into my day. I feel all the little things like that add up. Today has been another scorcher so I also needed to spend a little time watering the garden so my little plants didn’t fry in the heat.

It was noon before I had a chance to kick back a little. I used that time to whip up the teriyaki walnuts I mentioned above. Now I still need to make something for dinner, and figure out what that is going to be. I also still need to write up the prostate cancer prevention steps. My day seems to get away from me more often than it should. *shakes head*

I hope everyone is having a great day, for a Monday. ;-) I will be back later with a post or two.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Pad Thai Inspired Salad


The weather today was hot and miserable. There was no way I wanted to have hot food in this heat. I have been thinking about Pad Thai lately so I thought why not turn it into a salad. Both Dan and I enjoyed this. Here is what I did:

Pad Thai Inspired Salad
Serves 2

Ingredients:

2 large zucchini spiralized
½ red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 small collard leaves, thinly sliced (I used the ones that were too small for wraps)
¼ cucumber, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon fresh ginger
1 scoop of stevia (or dates to taste)
2 tablespoons peanut butter or almond butter
¼ cup fresh lime or lemon juice
1 tablespoon red barley miso
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons of cilantro, for garnish
1 green onion, for garnish

Directions:

Place garlic, ginger, stevia, almond butter, citrus juice, miso and water in your blender and process until smooth. Pour the sauce over the zucchini, red bell pepper, and cucumber and toss to combine.

Plate the dressed vegetables and top with cilantro and green onion.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 178.8
Calories From Fat (43%) - 76.5

Total Fat - 9.25g
Saturated Fat - 1.9g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 424.32mg
Potassium - 904.65mg
Total Carbohydrates - 20.99g
Fiber - 5.49g
Sugar - 8.73g
Protein - 8.84g

Comments:

This is a very nice salad. After only a few bites my husband wanted to know what was in the sauce. That is the highest compliment from Dan. To his I added a few chopped cashews for additional calories. The sauce isn’t overpowering but is complex. This will definitely be making future appearances at our house.

Each serving of this salad contains approximately 2,575IU of vitamin A, 100mg of vitamin C, 80mg of calcium, 120mcg of folate, 80mcg of vitamin K, 180mg of phosphorus, and 80mg of magnesium.

Unrelated notes:

I came across this at the Whole Foods sight that outlines quite a few healthy salad dressings all using nuts in place of oil. They looked quite interesting so I thought some of you may also find them interesting.

Today we ended up spending more time than we expected replacing a refrigerator. But I have a few more square feet of produce storage room so it was all worth it. There is nothing that makes me happier than more room to store fresh organic local produce. ;-)

With all the activity I have not had time to write up the other recipe from today. However I hope to get to that tomorrow morning. Additionally a friend of mine called about what he should be eating if he wants to do everything he can to avoid prostate cancer. Since I am writing that up for him I will write up a post with the details as well.

I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend.  We have had a good one, busy, but good.  I will talk to you tomorrow.

Air Fresheners: Commercial vs. Natural

(pictured: Fresh Lavender)

I hate to admit this but I used to be an air freshener junkie. When the glad plug ins first came out I had them in every room of my house. Same thing with the scented candles I used to have those burning every evening. However this all came to a screeching halt when I read the book “Toxic Overload” written by Paula Baillie-Hamilton, MD. I was surprised to find that air fresheners contain plasticizers which we certainly don’t want air borne in our house. Immediately after reading the book the air fresheners were out of my house.

Initially I tried opening the windows to air out the house every morning but that just didn’t do the trick for me I really missed the fragrance you get from air fresheners. Next I tried simmering a pot of water with orange slices, a cinnamon stick and cloves. That smelled good but reminded me too much of Christmas and I wanted something that didn’t require the stove. Then I found the answer, distilled water and essential oil in a spray bottle. I used lavender in the bedroom and it seems to help me calm down so I can sleep. I like lemon, orange or grapefruit in the living room and kitchen.  In the bathroom I use tea tree oil. Not only is this healthier, but it is easier and cheaper. Additionally many essential oils are natural disinfectants which is an added bonus. I use a cup of distilled water and about 10 drops of essential oil. I pour this in a spray bottle and use it as you would aerosol air freshener, though I do shake it up before I spray. They also sell little ceramic disks you can put a few drops of essential oil in an place on a light bulb. When the lamp is on it releases the fragrance. 

Farmers’ Market Update:

We had quite the haul from the market this morning. Someone we managed to get out the door at 6:30 this morning and do three laps at the market before we started our shopping. We got a chance to see what the farmers were unloading and got our blood pumping. Not being morning people we both need that extra wake up time.

The organic farmers that come to the market must have their farms in full swing now. This morning we picked up: collards (for wraps), rainbow chard, kale, beets (both ruby and golden), oyster mushrooms, black raspberries, peaches, leeks, dill, cauliflower, cucumber, snow peas, potatoes, tomatoes and green beans. In the end we have 5 reusable grocery bags overflowing for the two of us.

Summer is Here:

Today the temperatures are supposed to be in the upper 90’s and stay there all week. So much for having as much time to open the windows as I would like. I will take the opportunity to open the house up each early morning for at least 30 minutes to freshener the air but that will be it for the foreseeable future.

Do any of us worry about your carpet or furniture off gassing and open up your house to freshen the air and reduce the VOCs?  Is this a topic you would like to know more about?

Food today:

Given the heat I am definitely making cold food today. There is no way I want to turn on the stove in this heat. The plan is to make a salad loosely based on Pad Thai for lunch. Dinner is still up in the air. However I have two mangoes to use so I may actually make the mango and veggie filled spring rolls today for dinner.

I will be back later with Pad Thai inspired salad. I hope everyone is having a great weekend. Our day has been hectic but otherwise very pleasant. Talk to you all later.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Garlic Scape Pesto with Spinach, Basil and Lemon

(pictured: garlic scapes)

(pictured:  Vegan Insalata Caprese)

(pictured:  Spiralized Veggies with Scape Pesto)

For those of you that are not familiar with garlic scapes (aka scapes) they are the green curly top on the young garlic. As the garlic grows the curly top with straighten, harden and lose its green color. When it is young it has both a soft texture and flavor.

Scapes can be used in any recipe you would typically add garlic too. I like them in scrambled tofu, added to cilantro rice, included in a veggie stir fry. The options are endless. However, my favorite way to use scapes is in pesto. You can add any flavors you choose to the pesto but this is one of my favorite variations:

Garlic Scape Pesto with Spinach, Basil and Lemon
Makes 4 servings

Ingredients:

2 cups baby spinach
¼ cup basil leaves
2 garlic scapes, flower buds removed and minced (they have an odd texture)
½ cup walnuts, soaked for 2 hours to soften
½ lemon, zested and juiced
salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Combine everything in your blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Add water or lemon juice if you think the texture is too thick. Add salt and pepper to taste, if desired. The scape pesto will keep in the refrigerator for a week if a tightly sealed container.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 120.14
Calories From Fat (68%) - 81.58

Total Fat - 9.76g
Saturated Fat - 0.91g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 14.55mg
Potassium - 238.32mg
Total Carbohydrates-  7.62g
Fiber-  2.57g
Sugar - 0.76g
Protein - 3.6g

Comments:

Tonight we had the zucchini and radish pasta (which I spiralized) tossed with the scape pesto, red bell pepper and cucumbers. On the side we had my version of Insalata Caprese with fresh tomatoes, a little vegan mozzarella and a dollop of scape pesto. This was the perfect summer dinner if I say so myself, LOL.

For those of you that are curious Insalata Caprese translates to "salad in the style of the Isle of Capri". It is known in the US as Caprese salad. In Italy it is a simple salad of fresh tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil and drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. It has been a favorite of mine for as long as I can remember though in the US it almost always has more olive oil than they use in Italy.

Unrelated Note:

Guess who didn’t make anything special for dinner again last night? Clearly I am not in the cooking mood this month. This usually happens a few times a year. I seem to have lost my cooking mojo. I do have a few things going on right now that have me busier than usual. However I hope to break this streak soon and come up with something fun for dinner tomorrow. We are expected temperatures in the upper 90’s so I will probably be making something cold and probably raw tomorrow.

The magazine project is going much more slowly than I expected. I found myself wanting to look through each one to see if there were any recipes I wanted to scan. If I keep this up I will still be working on this project at Christmas.  ;-) I decided to box up the magazines and work on a few each day until I have looked through them all.

Tomorrow morning we will be going to the farmers' market to pick our CSA shares and do a little shopping. I love going to the market and can't wait to see what is there that wasn't in last week.  It is a shame I love produce shopping as much as I do, LOL.  Talk to you all again tomorrow.

BPA Levels in Various Foods and Lifestyle Changes

Since some of you have asked about BPA I wanted to draw everyone’s attention to this article that outlines the levels in various canned foods. The highest levels in the Health Canada tests were found in canned tuna, followed by condensed soup with tomato products being on the low end. Prior tests had shown canned green beans to be exceptionally high.

The epoxy lining of cans that prevent botulism also contain BPA which is how it leeches into canned food. Additionally from what I have read BPA is more of any issue during childhood contact so pregnant women and mothers of young children should be more diligent. It is worth noting that according to Health Canada BPA poses no risk to human health.  Here is another link if you are interested in reading what the American Council of Science and Health has to say on the matter.

While I don’t obsess about this I have gotten rid of our plastic storage containers to be safe. One reason I don’t worry much about BPA is that we eat little canned food and don’t use plastic storage containers for food. When I use plastic cling film I place waxed paper or parchment between the food and the plastic. I don’t microwave food covered with plastic. Additionally I have read that placing hot food on or in plastic results in BPA transfer so avoid that as well. It is always something isn’t it?

Lifestyle Changes are Coming:

This has been a rough week at our house. Sorry I bailed on Fun Facts Friday yesterday. I wasn’t much in the mood for writing a post but I will get back to that next week. ;-)

Do you ever feel like the universe is trying to tell you that you aren’t in control? That describes my week in a nut shell. However I am just stubborn enough that I have no intention of giving in. Dan and I have decided to make a few changes to our life to enhance immune function. Since I thought some of you may be interested I wanted to outline what changes we are making.

We have decided to add short bursts of moderate exercise in the morning, afternoon and evening. The reason for this is that moderate exercise is said to boost the immune system after 10 minutes while intense exercise is said to depress the immune system. Now we will be doing a moderate mile or two each morning before Dan leaves for work. I will continue to exercise during the day as I have but Dan is going to add 15-20 minutes on the elliptical at lunch time. After work we are going to do another mile or two before dinner. The idea is that these short bursts of exercise spread throughout the day will  help to keep the immune system elevated all day.

Additionally we are going to be drinking more fresh vegetable and fruit juice to increase our nutrition. Currently our favorite juice contains: ½ pound baby spinach, 1 beet with greens, 1 apple, ½ lemon, 3 stalks celery, 5 carrots 3 kale leaves, 1 inch ginger and 2 frozen wheat grass shots. This makes 2 generous servings and we drink it every morning and evening. But now we will be drinking fresh through the day in place of water. I am also going to try to add more raw vegetables to our diet, while still keeping the cooked vegetables.  I believe in combining both raw and cooked food to maximize nutrition.

Finally we are going to make certain to get 8 hours of sleep every night since the body repairs itself while you sleep. We are also going to meditate every evening before bed. Thanks for the suggestion Laura Jill. :-)

Food Today:

The mid day meal today with the folks isn’t going to be anything exciting. I have decided to make a huge pot of chili with kidney and pinto beans and use that to make taco salad. When I make chili I intentionally make a large quantity so I can stash small servings in the freezer for later.  Planned leftovers come in very handy at our house.

For dinner Dan and I are going to have zucchini pasta with the garlic scape pesto, tomatoes and vegan mozzarella. I have not had a chance to photograph the scape pesto yet so I will try to get that post up tonight.

Gratuitous Feline Pics:

The boys were very cute this morning. I know I am biased but I think they are just adorable. As normal they were both napping. I had to stick the camera in their respective faces which woke them up. Here is Nicco (Binky) playing in a box. Why do cats and children all love boxes?


Big brother Massimo (Masi) was lounging in the window.


Miscellaneous:

Today is going to be a little busy. We are finally making time to buy a new refrigerator.  However I should have time to come back later this evening with a post about the pesto. Otherwise I will get that posted tomorrow morning after the farmers’ market.

I hope everyone is having a great Saturday. Talk to you again soon.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Vegan Mozzarella - No Soy


It seems I finally remembered where my kitchen is located, LOL. I have had this on my to do list since Monday. Can you tell I have been unmotivated this week? Sometimes I just don’t feel like making a fuss in the kitchen and that is good description of this week. ;-)

I wanted to make a firm vegan cheese without soy and I think this is the best recipe so far. The touch of nutritional yeast adds a bit of buttery flavor to the cheese. I added the smoked garlic to give the cheese a more complex taste. But you can use simple poached garlic and get a similar result. Here is what I did:

Vegan Mozzarella - No Soy
Makes 8 slices

Ingredients:

¼ cups almonds
water to cover the almonds to 1 ½ cup mark
¼ cup raw cashews
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 large smoked garlic clove (or clove that was blanched to remove the sharpness)
1 pinch sea salt
1 ½ teaspoons agar powder (agar flakes will require a different amount don't substitute them 1 for 1)

Directions:

Place the almonds in a 2 cup measuring cup and add water to the 1 ½ cup mark. Allow the almonds to soak for at least 4 hours. Then pour the almonds and soaking liquid in your blender and process until smooth. Pour the mixture through a fine sieve that is lined with cheese cloth or a damp paper towel. Rinse out your blender and return the strained almond milk to your blender and add the other ingredients through the garlic. Process until completely smooth. Taste the mixture and add salt or other seasonings to suit your taste. Add the agar powder and process.

Pour the mixture into a saucepan and allow it to sit for 5 minutes so the agar can bloom. Now heat the mixture until it begins to thicken and bubble. Ideally you want to use a thermometer to ensure it reaches 185 degrees. I used this hand held laser thermometer. Now pour the mixture into a container so it can cool. Refrigerate when it is close to room temperature. The mixture will solidify as the temperature falls below 110 degrees.

Nutritional Information (this is an estimate because I did not adjust for the removal of the almond pulp):

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 48.59
Calories From Fat (68%) - 32.95

Total Fat - 3.58g
Saturated Fat-  0.41g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 37.32mg
Potassium - 59.13mg
Total Carbohydrates - 2.25g
Fiber - 0.65g
Sugar - 0.41g
Protein - 1.55g

Comments:

From a flavor perspective this is my best vegan mozzarella yet. It has a little more flavor than dairy mozzarella but has the same overall mild character. The texture is firm, but not too firm. I think this turned out really well. I hope you give it a try.

For those of you that are wondering how I got the heart shape. I took a small heart shaped bread tube and covered the end with aluminum foil and then poured the hot cheeze into the tube. When it was cool it slid right out.

Unrelated Notes:

Last night I read a post at Heather’s blog that took me back to graduate school. Heather asked if anyone sets goals. OMG, do I set goals? Seriously, I set goals for everything that I want to accomplish and measure my progress so I know how I am doing. Her question made me think this would be a good topic to write about:

Goal Setting:

Many years (okay decades) ago when I was in graduate school I wanted to finish ahead of schedule and crammed as many courses in as I could. In order to graduate early I ended up needing to take a few doctoral courses that I would not have otherwise had. One of them was a PhD level course in Organizational Behavior, specifically work motivational theory that included goal setting. I was fortunate enough to have the father of goal setting as my professor, Edwin Locke. It was great course and I learned so much that has helped me throughout my life. When Heather mentioned goal setting on her blog I knew I should write about this topic because it has been so beneficial to me.

The most important thing I learned from the course was that in order to get the results you want from setting goals you need to follow five guidelines or principles. The principles I was taught applied to how to set goals in the corporate setting but I adapted them to my personal use long ago. Here are the principles as I remember them:

1. Clarity

2. Challenge

3. Commitment

4. Feedback

5. Task Complexity

Clarity speaks to the fact that you need to set goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. In other words if you want to eating healthier you need to define what that means. It would look something like this. I will eat 5 servings of fresh vegetables every day for the next month to further my overall goal toward better health.

Challenge means the goal can’t be too easy. Dr. Locke found that more challenging goals are more motivational in general. What this means is that if you currently eat 4 servings of vegetables per day setting a goal of 5 isn’t challenging enough. But if you currently eat one of two servings then five is probably a challenging goal for you.

Commitment isn’t quite as straight forward as it seems. Dr. Locke found that the more difficult (or challenging) a goal the higher the commitment tended to be. I translate this to always set goals that a little bit of stretch and that relate to your other goals. The vegetable goal would make sense if you are focused on improving your health.

Feedback comes back to being able to measure your progress and comparing your actual performance to your goal. You can only make adjustments if you know how things are going. Looking at this a different way you won’t know if you have reached your goal until you are monitoring your progress. Back to the vegetable goal example you need to know how many vegetables you are eating every day compared to your goal.

Task complexity speaks to making certain the task isn’t overwhelming. Tougher goals will need more time to reach and that should be taken into account. Additionally it is important to remember that the purpose of goal setting is to be successful. Returning to the vegetable example if you currently eat 1 or 2 vegetable servings per day it may be a bit too difficult to reach 5 servings each day in a month. When you monitor your progress then you will be able to determine if you need to extend your timeline.

I hope some of you found that helpful. If you are interested in the topic you can find more information from Dr. Locke here. He is a fascinating man and was a fantastic professor. I hope I explained his approach in a way he would approve of. Thank you Dr. Locke for having such a profound impact on my life.

Thank you:

I wanted to say thank you to everyone that commented yesterday or sent an email. Please know how much your kind words mean to me. I only hope that a few people will be inspired to live a healthier life and to enjoy every minute that you have. One thing that cancer has taught me is to not worry about the small things. In the end it doesn’t matter if your hair isn’t right (or is grey), whether you have wine with dinner, or how much stuff you have. The most important thing is that you enjoy those you love and every moment you have with them.

Today:

Today is Friday, YAY, which means I need to run my normal errands. I will be back later today with the garlic scape pesto and Fun Facts Friday. I hope you are all having a wonderful Friday.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Yes You Can Handle It and Help Yourself In the Process

(pictured: raw spring rolls)

This post is for all the people that write to me marveling at my ability to function and remain fairly upbeat in spite of cancer. I have had so many people tell me that if they were me they would ball up in the corner and sob and can’t imagine how I function let alone find time to blog. The odd thing is that blogging is one thing that helps keep me sane. But I will get to the specifics on that later on.

Hearing that you or someone you love has cancer is terrifying. It was the worst day of my life and I cried like a baby. But it has been both the worst and best thing that has happened. Yes you read that right cancer has also been positive. Don’t get wrong I wish it hadn’t happened but I have learned so much during the process that it has had many positive side effects. One thing I learned was how much I am capable of and that it is important to make every minute and every decision matter rather than sleepwalking through life.

Were if not for cancer we would not have committed so completely to a healthy lifestyle. Both Dan and I love gourmet food. We used to tell ourselves that we could eat anything we wanted when we went out because our diet was so good at home. Compared to most Americans our diet at home was great, it was vegan and fairly healthy, though it could have been healthier. Eating out tasted great but was not a great plan for our health. What I am trying to say is that we tried moderation and it didn’t work for us in the slightest. I have been reminded of this recently reading Terrence’s blog “My Vegan Quest”. You should check out his blog. I have learned a lot about what it is like to be male and eat vegan in NYC with other macho males. Eating healthy is a much more difficult change for men than I imagined. Terrence has helped me to realize what my hubby goes through when he has to eat out with clients.

How do I cope with cancer? It is easier to deal with traumatic situations than you think it is. My coping mechanism is to think of cancer in the abstract, not in the specific. That way I don’t focus on the details and it seems less personal. Also by sharing what I learn with all of you I feel as though I may be helping others and that brings me quite a lot of comfort. It also helps me to think of all the other traumatic things that have happened in my life that I was able to overcome. This is just another hurdle. A larger hurdle but nothing we can’t handle.

I decided to share what I was learning about cancer and nutrition when I realized how difficult it was to find information on the topic. When your doctor tells you diet isn’t going to make a difference you find out quickly that you need to go out on your own to get the information. Thankfully I have met other doctors that say diet and lifestyle changes do make a huge difference. While many people don’t want to make lifestyle changes others are willing to fight for their health and their lives, those are the ones I am writing for.

I am the first one to admit the change is hard, it is damn hard. Frequently change stinks in fact. I was much happier believing that moderation was enough and that cancer was mostly genetic but neither seems true to me any longer. We had a very tough time changing to a vegan diet. It was more than a shock to our systems. I was quite the brat about the change as well. Since we went from omni to healthy vegan I was not prepared for the dramatic change. I can safely say now that eating a healthy vegan diet is our new normal. We used to “live to eat” but now we “eat to live”. If you had told me that a few years ago I would say that you were crazy. However when your life is threatened it is amazing what changes you are capable of making. I am writing this to let you all know that you can make this change if you want to. It is tough at first, but it does get easier and eventually you don’t even think about it. It just becomes how you live your life. In the past I would have reached for olive oil to sauté veggies and now I use water or veggie stock and don’t think about oil as one small example.

Today has been introspective for me. I was thinking about all the lifestyle changes we have made over the recent years. I suppose this was because I get so many emails from people that are trying to start “Eat to Live” (E2L) and are having problems with it. Believe me I am the first to admit that E2L is tough at first. But if you just stick with it you will reap tremendous health benefits. By flooding your body with vitamins and micronutrients far in excess of the RDA (or DRI) your health can do nothing but improve. But there are also benefits that aren’t specifically health related as well.

My favorite vain benefits from eating a healthy diet are better skin tone and texture, and stronger nails. I have seen my skin color return to the rosy glow I had in my 20’s. Also my skin seems to be more taught and many of the fine lines on my face have been disappearing. Who wouldn’t love those benefits? Now if it can just reverse the gray hair I will be one happy woman, LOL.

If any of you are interested in following a healthy vegan, like E2L, and want me to go back to posting our daily menus let me know. I will try to make that happen. It was a bit of a hassle the last time I did it, but if it will help any of you and I am happy to give it a try again.

If anyone is reading this and is battling cancer please know there is a lot you can do to improve your health. There are two books in my library that I find extremely useful. The first book is “Anticancer” and was written by an MD that battled brain cancer twice. This book gets lent out quite often.  It is written in a very easy to read style but has wonderful information about what you can do to make your body inhospitable to cancer. The second book is more technical but is my oncology bible “Life Over Cancer.” This book was also written by an MD but this doc has been running a cancer treatment facility since the 80’s. It is a tougher read but covers almost every question you may have from diagnosis, through treatment and remission. Both books are uplifting and encouraging because they give you tools you can use to help yourself.

What I hope you are getting from this post is that change is possible and that you can do a lot to impact your health and the health of your family. Wives and mothers have the biggest influence on the health of their family. I used to give in to my husband when he wanted to go out to eat or have dessert so that I wasn’t being “mean”. It took me a lot of years to realize that I was saving him from himself and now my hubby is completely on board with our healthy food. Exercise is another issue, but I am still working on him. Wish me luck. ;-)

The other thing I have learned during all my nutrition research is that the same diet that is beneficial for cancer patients is wonderful for overall better health. There is no such thing as a diet that is good for one disease or another, though diet book writers want to tell us otherwise. So if you are concerned about heart disease, diabetes or weight loss the same healthy vegan diet will result in improvement in all areas of your health. Every study or scholarly article I read indicates the healthiest diet is high in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds and low in animal products (meat and dairy), refined grains and sugar. You can’t get lower in meat and dairy than none, and what you are left with is our diet.

Please know you can eat tasty food that is also good for you. I hope this gives some of you hope that you can improve your health and much more quickly than you think possible. We saw measurable benefits in blood work in 30 days.

I hope everyone is having a great Thursday. Talk to you all later.

Lung Cancer Risk is Lower Among Those with Higher Levels of B-6


Today I have been trying to catch up on my health and nutrition reading. It seems as though I am always behind on this. ;-) Since I had just read an article in the Wall Street Journal about the increased incidence of lung cancer among women, even those that never smoked, this article on B-6 and lung cancer stood out to me. According the study those with higher levels of vitamin B-6 had a lower incidence of lung cancer.

I did a little more research and found that B-6 is required for producing thymidine without which cells are more likely to develop cancerous mutations. Additionally a low intake of B-6 increases tumor susceptibility and tumor size.According to the USDA the RDA for B-6 is 2mg per day and 80% of Americans don’t consume enough. Some animals studies indicate that above-normal intake of B-6 stimulates the immune system, slows tumor growth and increase survival time. Threshold toxicity occurs at 2,000mg and 500mg is said to be safe daily dose. Studies have shown 50mg is enough to enhance the immune system. We are not supplementing with B-6 (other than our multi vitamin) at this time, but will keep this in mind for the future.

The obvious question for me was what foods are highest in B6 so I can be certain to include them in our diet. I found this handy chart  at NIH that shows quite a few high sources in vegan foods. Baked potatoes with skin, bananas and garbanzo beans are all good sources. I am going to start monitoring our intake to see how close we get to the 2mg from food.

Unrelated note:

I have not been doing much inventive cooking this week. A few times per year I get bored with cooking and don’t feel like spending much time in the kitchen. This week has been a little hectic with appointments which is probably playing into the lack of kitchen love I have been feeling.

We were scheduled to have dinner tonight with friends but things fell through. This is what happens when you make dinner plans with someone 1,000 miles away.  This should mean I will be cooking tonight, but we will see, LOL. I plan to make vegan mozzarella today and use my garlic scapes in dinner. Fingers crossed this actually happens. I hope everyone is having a great Thursday. If I find anything else interesting in my health reading I will be back before dinner.
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