Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dinner in 20 minutes: Asian flavored Green Beans and Mushrooms over Quinoa

Breakfast for Dan was his favorite green smoothie which contained: kale, frozen banana, ground flaxseeds, walnuts, cinnamon, powdered ginger and a touch of stevia. Of course I added a little water so the Vitamix would turn it into a drink.

Breakfast for me was leftover miso and veggie soup with okara from last night. Like all soup this one had better flavor the next day.

Lunch was another taco salad, this one contained: baby spinach, cucumber and artichokes topped with black bean chili. I love dishes like this that are quick, healthy and delicious.

Dinner was a very simple 20 minute meal because you know I love those. Sorry for the picture but I realized this evening that somehow I hadn’t taken a photo last night. Thankfully there were leftovers in the refrigerator I could shot. How long have I been blogging? LOL, how could I forget to photograph my food? *rolls eyes* I didn’t measure every ingredient but I am fairly sure I know about how much I used (estimates noted) so here is what I did:

Asian flavored Green Beans and Mushrooms over Quinoa
Serves 3


½ red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
3 cups green beans, frozen organic ones from Costco
2 cups crimini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon water or veggie stock (I keep homemade veggie stock ice cubes in ziptop bags in the freezer to use in situations like this)
vegetarian oyster sauce which is actually mushroom based, to taste (I probably used 2 tablespoons)
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
black and white sesame seeds with dried ginger grains (I probably used ¼ teaspoon)


Combine the water and quinoa and start that cooking.

Slice the onion and garlic and set a timer for 10 minutes. Place the onions and garlic in the bottom of a heavy pan (I used enameled cast iron) add the green beans, mushrooms, veggies and at least a tablespoon of vegetarian oyster sauce to the pan. When the timer signals 10 minutes have elapsed turn the heat on and cover the pan. After 5 minutes check the texture on the green beans and the harshness of the onions and if those are right remove the lid to concentrate the sauce.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 288.05
Calories From Fat (12%) - 34.08

Total Fat - 3.81g
Saturated Fat - 0.46g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 318.79mg
Potassium - 790.83mg
Total Carbohydrates - 52.87g
Fiber - 8.48g
Sugar - 3.76g
Protein - 12.56g


This is a simple, quick and healthy dish. The vegetarian oyster sauce, which is mushroom based, works well with the mushrooms in the dish. I used quinoa instead of brown rice because it is faster and because it is a complete protein. Like always I added the mushrooms for their immunity boosting properties.

What constitutes real food?

This may seem like an odd topic to bring up but I hope it will make sense soon. Dan and I were talking about this Tuesday night after dinner which is why it was fresh on my mind. Someone he knows is experiencing low level chronic inflammation and the doctor recommended this person schedule an appointment with a nutritionist (I am sure he actually meant an RD). *rolls eyes* Anyway I was asking Dan what this person (since I don’t know them) usually eats. It was a lot of things we don’t eat beyond the obvious meat, dairy and sugar. I guess I was most surprised by the amount of processed food because we don’t eat that either.

I am of the opinion that is something won’t rot or sprout it probably isn’t good for anyone to consume. Most food today has been chemically manipulated and yet we think nothing of consuming it even though it practically has a nuclear shelf life. How can food possibly be nutritious when it can sit around for months and not go bad? The most obvious example for me was when I used to make bread. Homemade bread is good for maybe 3 days but the store bought stuff can sit around for weeks or longer. Why? Chemicals and preservatives are the reason why most food is now almost unable to spoil. *shudders*Additionally it is well known that the older food is the more vitamins and minerals have deteriorated. You have heard about how many vitamins are lost for each day that produce grows older and that is why flash frozen produce can be more nutritious than fresh right?

Fifty years ago our mothers and grandmothers made meals from fresh food but now we make food from chemically altered “food-like” substances. Even if you think the chemicals and preservatives are harmless the vitamin content has to be lower. I think it is something we should all think about the next time we are reaching for a bag or box of processed food, I know I think about it and that is why I don’t buy those things.

Happy Thoughts:

I have had a very busy week but a good one. Here are my happy thoughts today:

• Dan took Friday off to spend running around with me. We had a great day together as usual and had a lot of fun. I will tell you all about it tomorrow but I will warn you there is a lot of eating out since we left the house at 10am and didn’t get home until 9pm. Oh yeah and there was a little shopping too. Somehow more things for me managed to come home with us. I keep telling you I am spoiled and I am not joking. ;-)

• The weather has turned a little warmer and is much more seasonal. I am thankful to have more tepid temperatures for New Years Eve. With a little luck the rain will hold off and I will get to see the fireworks downtown tomorrow evening. *fingers crossed*

• We are had dinner tonight with our best buddy Louis which is always wonderful. Both Dan and I love spending time with Louis. The only down side is that the boys (Dan and Louis) gang up on me to see who can yank my chain more. I really will never understand men I have decided. But I love them both which means it is okay. ;-)

• Ian and Will did a wonderful job tonight making vegan food just for us since we gave them three days notice. Dan and I both thoroughly enjoyed everything and even Louis (a devout omnivore) thought it all looked good. In fact Louis even tried a bite of one dish and enjoyed it. I get very excited when Louis enjoys vegan food. Who knows maybe one day I will get him to come to the “dark side” with us, which is how I tease him about veganism. ;-)

• The gym reopens very soon and my knee has been completely without pain for two entire days. I am looking forward to getting back to my regular workouts. However this time I may start out a little slower so I don’t reinjure my knee. I need to work on that whole gung ho thing a little. ;-)

Signing out:

After being out all day it is wonderful to be home and have my feet up. At the moment I am sipping green tea, writing a post and relaxing. Who doesn’t like to relax before bed?

I think tomorrow we will make a run to the Asian market. I was talking to Ian this evening and he gave me a general idea of how me makes his marinated mushrooms. Of course it is a until it tastes right sort of a formulation but we have had them so many times I am sure I can get that close. Since I found out Ian uses sweet soy sauce in his marinated mushrooms and I don’t have any of that we will need to pick some up. Dan and both love Ian’s mushrooms and are very happy he shared the methodology with me. Ian is such a good guy. Have I said recently how much we adore him? ;-)

Time for me to get back into the book I am trying to finish. I want to post a review for you in the next day or two.

I hope everyone is having a good week and has something fun planned for New Years Eve. Talk to you again tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Miso Vegetable Soup with Okara & Intentional Leftovers

We are definitely back to the work week. *ugh* I much prefer weekends to weekdays but I am sure everyone does. ;-)

This morning I made Dan his usual green smoothie, packed his lunch (lentil soup, salad and fruit) and started my day. I had so many things to do today that I didn’t get on the computer until mid-afternoon. However, it was a busy but productive day for me.

I started a pound of black beans cooking early in the morning to make chili to be used during the week. Chili is one of my favorite intentional leftovers. It can be used as chili, taco salad or over baked sweet potatoes. I love leftovers that do double or should I say triple duty. If you make a super big batch you can freeze small portions to defrost when you need something quick.

After I finished exercising (nothing that would hurt my knee) I finally had breakfast mid morning. Since it felt like I was closer to lunch then breakfast I decided to grab myself a bowl of lentil soup.

Once the black beans were cooked I made the chili which was similar to this recipe only I added cocoa. I used a scoop of hot chili to make myself a taco salad for lunch. This salad contained shredded romaine, cucumber, artichokes, and orange bell pepper which I topped with chili. It was very tasty and makes a quick lunch.

I didn’t have the chili in the refrigerator until about 6pm which is when I started to think about dinner. For some reason nothing was appealing to me other than miso soup. I hadn’t made that in ages and decided to make it like my Japanese friend said her mother used to with okara in it. Here is what I did:

Miso Vegetable soup with Okara
Serves 6


12 cups of water
½ onion, thinly sliced on a mandoline (used a mandoline so the soup would cook faster)
8 garlic cloves thinly sliced
½ tablespoon minced ginger
2 cups fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced on a mandoline
2 large carrots, thinly sliced on a mandoline
2 cups cauliflower, thinly sliced on a mandoline
2 cups okara (the pulp that is leftover when you make soy milk)
3 tablespoons arrowroot or cornstarch dissolved in an equal amount of liquid to thicken the soup
3 or 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast to add a butter background and reduce the need for sodium (in the form of white miso)
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
white miso, to taste
2 cup fresh spinach, thinly sliced
white and black sesame seeds with dried ginger, for garnish


Combine the water, onion, garlic, ginger, mushroom, carrot, cauliflower and okara and simmer until the veggies are tender and the harshness has cooked out of the aromatics. Now add the thickener, nutritional yeas and black pepper and cook to thicken the soup. Add white miso to taste being mindful that it is high in sodium. Now stir in the spinach to wilt.

To serve, top a bowl of the soup with sesame seeds.

Nutritional information:

Since I don’t have a reliable outside source for nutritional statistics on okara I opted to not estimate the nutrition on this soup. However, like all of my food it will be low calorie and healthy.


In my mind this soup needed to be thickened. The little bits of okara were too distinct before I added the arrowroot to the soup which had the effect of minimizing the texture of the okara in the mouth. The flavor was good, the soup was light and we both enjoyed it. This makes a nice light meal when you are having a late dinner and don’t need/want anything heavy.

Nutritional Research:

In one of the emails that I received yesterday the writer spoke of nutritional research being a wonderful motivator and I agree with that completely. I believe that the only reason we eat a healthy diet is due to all my research. Nutrition has been a subject that has interested me for the last 30 years. When I was a freshman in college I worked in a health food store and was introduced to the idea of green tea and cancer prevention which is more widely studied and accepted now. That early time in a health food store had the impact of opening my eyes to the connection between food and health early in life. If only I had paid a bit more attention. ;-)

In the past I did a little research now and again but I relied mostly on the mass market information from the American Dietetic Association, the American Cancer Society and other mainstream organizations. In retrospect that was the worst thing I could have done but I didn’t know better at the time. I am mentioning this because the information that is most widely available is also not particularly useful and is in my opinion frequently harmful.

I want to share one example of widely held information being harmful. Most people, including RDs, will tell you that low fat and non fat dairy is healthful and that non-fat yogurt is an excellent choice for good health. I used to believe this completely and Dan and I made Greek yogurt at home for over a decade and ate it most mornings for breakfast with fruit, nuts and high fiber cereal. Of course now I know that strained yogurt is a terrible idea. When you strain yogurt you are removing the whey (which is beneficial for slowing cancer growth) and you are concentrating the casein (which promotes tumor growth). During the decade when we were eating this every week I truly believed I was doing something very healthy for us. *shakes head* Thankfully I know better now.

I wanted to highlight this one issue to point out the problems with mainstream information. I could have just as easily discussed the idea of everything in moderation being healthy. That notion makes me laugh. Would people say heroin in moderation is healthy? The point I am trying to make is that you have to be careful what you believe and put into practice because there is a lot of bad information out there and much of it from apparently reputable sources.

Now I rely on studies I read at PubMed where I can see the details behind the studies and read the science for myself. If something I read doesn’t have hard science behind it I discount the information until I see the science. One idea that I come back to time after time is that I never see any studies that indicate that whole plant based foods are harmful to health. I can’t say the same thing about most other foods. I believe that as long as the majority of what we eat is whole plant based foods that will be beneficial to our health. In my perfect world all of the food we eat would be whole plant based food but that would make going out to eat impossible so we allow occasional items that contain flour and oil when we are out.

I wanted to mention all of this so that you think about what you read on other blogs or websites about nutrition. Every single day I read something about nutrition that is simply inaccurate. If I hadn’t done as much research as I have I would probably believe some of it. I hope that everyone will learn to be skeptical about what they read. There is a huge amount of misinformation about nutrition that many people believe to be true because they have read/heard it so many times.

Additionally another reason why I think nutritional research is so important is that well meaning friends and family always seemed to feel the need to challenge you on our dietary changes. When you go against the flow people feel like it is okay to call you out on it. This perplexes me because I wouldn't challenge their unhealthy diets, though maybe I should. ;-) The problem is that these people have read all the bad information and believe it like I used to.

In the past I tried to explain my choices to people but it is typically met with either a blank stare or people will challenge me with something ridiculous like you need milk for calcium. *ugh* They have so far to come it isn't worth it to attempt to bring them up to speed. Not to mention it would take me months to teach them everything I have learned over the last few years. In the end all that really matters to me is that we (Dan and I) are making the most healthy choices possible. I would think that only thing that matters to most people is that they “get it right” as well. My new attitude is that if other people want to join us that is great while keeping in mind it is their decision to make.

What you eat can impact your offspring:

I came across this article that suggests that in animal studies it matters what the parents eat. I would have expected this happen with what the mothers ate but not the fathers. This article was rather eye opening for me. For me it shows how important what we eat really is not only on ourselves but our offspring.

Happy thoughts:

Tuesday was a good one for me, busy but good. Here are my happy thoughts today:

• I was talking to a friend this morning who has a cold and it realized that neither Dan nor I have had a cold in at least two years. While this might not be a big deal for many of you it is huge for me. I used to be one of those people that seemed to pick things up every time something was going around. Since we been focusing on eating a healthy diet colds have been a thing of the past. I am very thankful that we have more robust immune systems since we cleaned up our diet.

• When I reflect on all the changes we made in 2010 I am very proud of both Dan and myself. Each time I think of the dietary changes we made this year I could not be more thrilled with our progress.

• I made some new friends this year through the blog and these ladies have become wonderful sources of support and information. It is very nice to have people that are as interested in health and nutrition as I am to discuss things with so I don’t feel so alone in our healthy journey. I appreciate you all more than you know.

Signing out:

Somehow time got away from me today. I am not sure how that happened but this entire week so far has been a blur for me. On the bright side I am pleased with what I have managed to accomplish this week and I am looking forward to New Years Eve and the coming year. I am very determined to make 2011 even happier and healthier than 2010.

I hope you are having a great week and have fun plans for New Years Eve. We are going out with some friends for dinner and may stop downtown for the fireworks at midnight depending on the weather. What are you doing for New Years Eve anything special or different?

Talk to you again tomorrow. I hope the remainder of your Wednesday is good.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Lentil, Barley and Mushroom Soup & New Year’s Resolutions or Not?

This picture of the Nati Boh guy from the "Miracle on 34th Street" is for the locals. Dan took this and we both thought is was cute. Only in Baltimore Hon.  ;-)

Monday things were back to usual with Dan returning to work and me returning to my usual getting caught up around the house day after a long weekend of doing nothing at home. We started our morning with smoothies. These smoothies contained: frozen banana, kale, Costco frozen mixed berries (raspberries, blueberries and Marion berries), a little dried oatmeal, a few walnuts, ground flaxseed, cinnamon, ginger and stevia.

I thought the smoothie was good but Dan wasn’t as thrilled since the texture was less creamy. In his I substituted the berries for one of the bananas which made the smoothie less thick and creamy. Maybe next time I will add berries (for nutrition) but keep both of the bananas. I guess I will need to think about how to change the smoothie next. *scratches head* It is important to me that Dan enjoys his food so I need to come up with something else. I will keep you posted on what that is.

My mid-morning snack was my usual fruit and nut and this time it was banana and Brazil nuts (for selenium).

I was busy at lunch time and didn’t want to take time to make myself something so I tossed a few things together and called it a meal. This time it was the extra garbanzo beans that I cooked on Sunday with a little marinara stirred in. When it came of the microwave I stirred in some nutritional yeast. It would have been more nutritious if I had also wilted in a little spinach but I wanted to get back to what I was doing.

For some odd reason I have been craving beans the last few days. While I have no idea where that came from since it is a healthy craving I decided to just go with and make bean soup for dinner. Dan loves lentil soup and since that is quick (no soaking or long cooking required) I thought I would make it for dinner. As you know I have been trying to add mushrooms to our daily diet (for the immune boosting impact) which is why I added those to the soup. The barley was added to give the soup a little “chew” in addition to that from the dried mushrooms. The smoked paprika and cumin were included to add a little smokiness to the background. Here is what I did:

Lentil, Barley and Mushroom Soup
Serves 6


1 pound green lentils (you can substitute red lentils for green but they are not as substantial and will fall apart more in the soup)
½ cup barley
water to cover the lentils and barley by an inch
1 large red onion, peeled and finely diced (approximately 4 cups)
10 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
2 bay leaves
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes
½ tablespoon dried thyme leaves
½ teaspoon smoked paprika (to give a smoky background you can also use liquid smoke)
½ teaspoon cumin seed (also added for their smoky taste)
1 cup dried mushrooms rehydrated and chopped into pieces that will fit easily on a spoon (I used dried shitake caps)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, or to taste (enough to give the soup a spark of flavor in the background but not enough that you can tell it has mustard)
1 lemon, zested and juiced
freshly ground black pepper, to taste


After allowing the onions and garlic to stand 10 minutes after you mince them combine everything but the lemon juice and simmer until the beans and barley are tender. Be certain to stir at least every 15 minutes to keep the soup from sticking to the bottom. I cooked my soup in a cast iron enameled pan which helps to distribute the heat and slow the sticking. You may also need to add water depending on how much water evaporates and how thick or thin you want the soup in the end.

When you are ready to serve add the lemon zest and lemon juice and stir to combine. Taste the soup for seasoning and adjust to your taste.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 396.16
Calories From Fat (3%) - 13.53

Total Fat - 1.56g
Saturated Fat - 0.23g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 83.32mg
Potassium - 914.58mg
Total Carbohydrates - 74.58g
Fiber - 28.67g
Sugar - 2.16g
Protein - 23.53g


I liked the taste of this soup it had good flavor but wasn’t overpowering. The Dijon was something that I added at the last minute but I think it was necessary. You can’t taste the Dijon but it does provide a little something in the background.

I am continually amazed at how our taste buds have adapted to food without salt and oil. Those were the last two big changes I made to our diet and while they were the most difficult our taste buds have adapted beautifully. Each time I think of how our diet has changed for the better this year I smile. Making changes for the better is immensely rewarding, well at least it is for me. ;-)

New Year’s Resolutions or Not:

Immediately after Christmas I instinctively think about what I want to change about my life. I don’t believe in resolutions per se but I do believe in making permanent changes for the better which I think go beyond resolutions. Temporary changes never seem to get me anywhere.

Each year end I reflect on what went well or not so well that year and try to come up with reasonable goals for the coming year. I tend to make too many goals for myself but over the years I have learned to back off a little. *rolls eyes* My brother-in-law an ex-marine has told me many times that I am gung ho enough to be a marine. LOL, sadly that is a fairly decent description of my personality. Once I have something in my head that I want to do I am full steam ahead. My husband calls this “all guts no brains” and describes how I got my knee injury. I have no idea where this personality trait comes from but it is definitely both good and bad. ;-)

Back to the things I want to work on this year. Overall my goals are always health related. You are shocked by this I know, LOL. This year is no different. I want to make a few changes which I separated by category:

• Food: Last year my goal was to clean up my diet and eliminate the unhealthy things that had become a habit. I am happy to say that goal was met. I was hesitant to give up my beloved unfiltered extra virgin olive oil but it was much easier than I thought. This year my food goal is to continue to read about nutrition weekly and make changes as I learn new things. Of course I will share these things with you as I learn them.

• Exercise: Since I conquered my food goal this year I want to clean up my exercise routine so it is as healthy and well researched as my food intake. I expect this one to take longer to pull together but I know I will have things in place long before the end of 2011. :-)

• Emotions: This year my goal is to be more forgiving and understanding when things happen that hurt my feelings. I tend to be overly sensitive which means I take everything to heart and I want to change that about myself. I am going to work to understand that when someone hurts me it probably has nothing to do with me even though it doesn’t feel like that at the time. Wish me luck this one is going to be tough for me since I am very sensitive.

• Relationships: While I think I am a good wife I also know I could be a better wife and that is my goal this year. I know that sometimes my husband feels like he is a bit of a blog widower and that makes me feel terrible. I have been trying to work on the blog when he isn’t home so that when he is I can give him my undivided attention. I haven’t figured out how to work things out on the weekend other than to write posts before the weekend to post later or to post abbreviated entries maybe mostly pictures. If anyone has any other ideas on that I would love to hear them. ;-)

To remind myself of my goals I post them prominently where I will see them every day. I write them on mirrors with dry erase pens and also post them on the refrigerator. Seeing them everyday helps me to stay focused. In the past I have made them the screen saver on my computer or made them my wallpaper. I also try to read them every morning to remind myself what I want. It also helps to break the goals into smaller definable items like: read an exercise book each month, or change my workout routine every 6 weeks, that sort of thing.

Now that I have shared my annual goals with you I would love to hear what you would like to change? If your goals are food related and you think I can help in some way please feel free to ask. I would be happy to help if I can. In my perfect world everyone will want to make changes and live a more healthful life and if I can help with that I would be thrilled. ;-)

How do you resist cookies, cupcakes, and chocolate?:

This is a question that I get so often by email that I decided I should write about it on the blog. From the many emails I have received that ask this question I am going to assume that many of you are struggling to eliminate or at least reduce sweets from your diet and can’t imagine how we did. I think the main reason we were able to do it is that we understand the impact that these things have on health and that makes change much easier. Here are my thoughts on baked goods and sweets.

First, baked goods even vegan version can hardly be considered healthy. They are typically full of flour (usually refined white flour), oil (or worse vegan margarine), and sugar. This is a combination of foods we have eliminated for health reasons. The flour and sugar will have a negative impact on blood sugar and the fat a similar impact on our arteries. Knowing this makes these items much less appealing.

Second, consuming sugar depresses the immune system. Since we are focused on improving our health we don’t want to do anything that will result in more sickness not less.

Third, sugar and fat are addictive making it difficult to eat a small amount. I have found this to be true myself. If there is something around, like homemade cookies or cupcakes it is difficult to eat just one or part of one. If I were going to eat these things I would buy them when we were out so that there wasn’t a large supply in the house. ;-)

Fourth, baked goods are devoid of nutrition. I work hard to maximize our nutrition which means the idea of empty calories in the form of baked goods or sweets is completely unappealing to me. But this is coming from the woman who adds kale to her smoothies so consider the source.

Fifth and finally, baked goods are high in calories. If you are trying to keep your weight under control baked goods are not your friend. I picked up a name brand individually wrapped vegan cookie at the health food store the other day and it had 500 calories for one cookie. I have made entire meals that don’t have that many calories. That label was an eye opener for me. *shakes head*

I hope that helps some of you view baked goods in a different way. Sure you can make vegan baked goods and it isn’t difficult but don’t kid yourself that they are not good for you. Empty calories are empty calories whether they are vegan or not.

This is another example of what I mean when I say vegan is the starting point for me not the end point. Most vegan food that I see isn’t something that I would eat. It is so easy to make healthy vegan food that also tastes good that I find it difficult to understand why others don’t do it. I have come to the conclusion that it is because they don’t understand nutrition. I still when remember when I didn’t understand nutrition either, so I am hopeful that others will become interested and want to improve their health before something goes terribly wrong for them. I can’t help but think about the statistics that half of all Americans will die of heart disease and 40% will get cancer. With odds like those it doesn’t make any sense to me to tempt fate by eating unhealthy food.

Happy Thoughts:

Monday was a good day for me and it was fairly productive which is always a good thing. Here are my happy thoughts today.

• I had a day with no knee pain, not one single twinge. It felt so great to have my knee back to normal. I am happy for the lack of pain and that I didn’t do anything silly to reinjure my knee which is very unlike me.

• I had a chance to play around with my TRX yesterday, only upper body and ab work no lower body exercises. I can already tell you that I am going to love this thing. However I still need to put it through its paces before I review it but I can’t imagine changing my mind. So far I love my new exercise toy. ;-)

• My friend Louis was able to get home safely after his 24+ hours at work in the storm. I was grateful that he called to let me know he made it home. He lives so close (on the Delaware shore) that is amazes me that he got a foot of snow and we got possibly 2 inches.

• Speaking of storms I am grateful that the weekend storm missed us. I know I was excited about getting snow but not a foot of it. Can’t say I was actually looking forward to shoveling the snow off the mostly flat roof on our first floor addition like I did last year. That was not a fun job. I am thankful to have been able to skip that this past weekend.

• I am thankful to be ending 2010 more healthy that it started. I feel so much better now than I did this same time last year. How often do we actually improve physically as we age? I know it isn’t typical but it can happen to you too if you want it too.

Signing out:

Today has been another busy one for me. Sorry it took me so long to get this post up. I have been very busy at home since Dan left for work and just had a chance to get on the computer. However I am happy to report it has been a productive day at our house.

I have black bean chili simmering on the stove now and it smells so good. I made this to eat as chili, to make taco salad and to top baked potatoes for the next few days and maybe to stash a little in the freezer. At the moment I have no idea what dinner is going to be at our house but chili may play a role. ;-)

I hope everyone is staying warm and having a great week. I will talk to you again tomorrow.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Day and the Day After

Since we had opened our presents late Christmas Eve early Christmas morning we started our day slowly. I was thrilled to have the scale give me a Christmas present too. Woo hoo the 4 pounds I gained over the past month are all gone plus an additional 0.4 pounds down. *Happy Dance!* LOL, can you tell I get far too excited about this? :-P I wanted the new year to start on the right foot and now I can breathe an enormous sigh of relief.

No surprise breakfast was a green smoothie made with kale, frozen banana, cinnamon, powdered ginger, ground flaxseeds, a few walnuts, some dried oatmeal and a pinch of stevia.

After breakfast it was time to get the meal with my family at 3pm started. I decided to roast the acorn squash halves first and get those out of the way since they are easily reheated. I popped them into the oven at about 1pm and they seemed to take a long time to cook though I wasn’t timing them. In fact I ended up finishing the squash halves in the microwave. Then I tossed in the lasagna and knew exactly how long that should take but when I pulled the pan from the oven the lasagna was only 120 degrees after 45 minutes. When I checked the oven with my laser thermometer it was only 150 degrees though the oven had been set on 375 for the prior two hours. Houston we have a problem! This meant a serious change in dinner plans on the fly and I am not the best at adapting quickly. ;-)

Since my stove is digital and not very old *rolls eyes* I was hoping that if I used the bake setting (instead of the convection setting I always use) that the oven would heat up and fortunately that worked. However it delayed dinner by quite a while which is never a good thing with my hungry family. I ended up abbreviating dinner since I lost a ton of time messing around with the oven. In the end it was fine since I still had leftovers. It did help remind me that I go completely overboard on food most holidays. ;-) Where does that come from? LOL

The funny thing is that normally this sort of problem would have made me nuts. However this year it was only a minor bump in the road. It was a bit frustrating but mostly it was just an annoyance. I was actually laughing about it before dinner. Isn’t it amazing how facing a real crisis (like cancer) has a way of putting other things into perspective?

For dinner we had the Neapolitan Lasagna which is one of Dan’s favorites so he was thrilled. Luckily for Dan my parents snacked before dinner so they only had a half piece of lasagna each meaning he has lasagna to take to work Monday for lunch. I made a couple of changes to the lasagna as a test. First I made the tofu filling in the Vitamix and it was much smoother which was good. Also I tried the filling without the flour and it was much softer and less dense. The filling is good without the flour but I still prefer the texture of version with flour. However I didn’t mention the change to Dan and he didn’t seem to notice so I think the difference may not be apparent to anyone but me. ;-)

I also baked acorn squash halves that I seasoned with white miso and apple cider and topped with black and white sesame seeds and dried ginger.

I also made a simple salad with shredded romaine, yellow bell pepper, artichokes, cucumber, grape tomatoes and sliced almonds. To top this I made a very fast dressing in my Vitamix that contained: marinara, raw cashews, nutritional yeast, dehydrated (or sun dried) tomatoes, raw garlic, red wine vinegar, Italian seasoning and water. That turned out really well which means I need to make it again and measure it so I can share it with you. If you are wondering how I get those thin stripes of dressing I use a squirt bottle from the restaurant supply store. It makes a nice presentation and results in less total dressing which makes it a win-win to me.

After our 3pm meal with my parents we decided to take my library books back that had a 12/26/10 due date. Since the weather people were calling for snow (or unknown amount but possibly significant) we thought it was prudent to not need to drive anywhere on Sunday just in case.

While we were out I had to look at more Christmas lights because that is the kind of girl I am. I love the decorations at our neighborhood bagel place. Isn’t it cute? I think they did such a nice job. I would stop in for bagels just to the see the decorations if we still ate bagels. ;-)

Once we got home and settled in it was time to eat again. I swear it feels like all we did was eat the last few days *rolls eyes* Dinner was a very simple fruit salad. I wanted to make fruit salad more nutritious so I served it over shredded romaine. This salad contained: romaine, orange, banana, grapes and a creamy walnut dressing. The dressing is something else I whipped together in the Vitamix. I didn’t measure everything but it contained ¼ cup walnuts, ½ teaspoon white miso, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon powdered ginger, a little lemon juice (maybe a tablespoon) and water enough to process (I added this slowly while the machine ran) until smooth and creamy. I used about half of this dressing on our salads. This combination actually worked out well. The fruit was sweet, the romaine crunchy and the dressing was creamy it all worked together. I love it when that happens. 

Book Review: Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes

After dinner I decided to finish reading “Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes”. I had originally purchased this for my mother who is diabetic. I thought it would be a good idea for me to read it, underline the important ideas, and then let her borrow it. What was I thinking? Talk about unrealistic expectations, LOL. When I mentioned it she told me she wasn’t the least bit interested so I dropped it. I have had the book for months and only got around to reading it this weekend.

Dr. Barnard does a great job of explaining how and why diabetes happens and how it can be reversed in most people. He also explains how this diet is the same diet that can reverse heart disease and prevent cancer. The diet he is proposing is the same one advocated by T. Colin Campbell, Dr. McDougall and Dr. Esselstyn. The interesting thing to me is that they all came to the same diet looking at different diseases.

The book is categorized as follows:

Part 1. The Breakthrough

1. The Basics Have Changed
2. Reversing Type 2 Diabetes
3. A Revolution in Type 1 Diabetes

Part 2. The Program

4. A Powerful New Menu
5. How to Get Started
6. Healthful Weight Control
7. How to Track Your Progress
8. A Perfect Diet in an Imperfect World
9. Troubleshooting
10. Which Supplements Should You Take
11. Exercise for the Rest of Us

Part 3. Complete Health

12. A Healthy Heart
13. Healthy Nerves, Eyes and Kidneys
14. Information for Clinicians

Menus and Recipes (from Bryanna Clark Grogan)

What I liked about this book is that I felt as though I understood the mechanics of what happens when you have diabetes and how it can be reversed from reading this book. I also had no idea about intramyocellular lipids and the impact this had on the cells ability to respond to insulin. (page 22) I thought this was fascinating information and a good reason to keep fat consumption to a minimum. I may have to reduce our nut and seed consumption a bit now. I haven’t decided yet but it is something I am considering.

I also loved the discussion about how and why bread (even whole wheat) is digested and the impact this has on the body. (page 55) Bread is something that has concerned me due to the glycemic index and this doctor agrees which was a bit of relief for me. The one thing that confused me about the book was that even though the doctor isn’t the biggest fan of baked goods (except rye and pumpernickel bread) the recipe section contained scones, cornbread, and cake which seemed like a disconnect to me. *scratches head*

Finally I was surprised by the saturated fat content of olive oil. I had no idea that olive oil was 13% saturated fat. (page 51) I will be doing a little research on saturated fat soon myself and putting that on the blog for everyone to see.

Overall if you are interested in health it was a good read. If you don’t have diabetes you may want to check it out from the library. However if you are a diabetic I would recommend buying the book. It is well written, easy to understand and would definitely be a program I would try if I had diabetes.

Christmas recap:

As usual Dan went overboard on Christmas for me. I love everything he bought but I also feel quite spoiled. I got a lot of jewelry which is all beautiful. Some of it is Venetian glass which I adore. We started our honeymoon in Venice so anything from there has special significance to me.

This is a picture of one of the bracelets. He bought me two pendants, two sets of earrings and this bracelet. I also got more jewelry (a pendant, two rings and cuff bracelet. I also got a new coat, more flavors of green and white tea, and a few cookbooks (which I will review for you soon) and a few other things. It was entirely too much, but all perfect for me.  Thank you sweetie! :-)

However the most fun present of the day has to be the TRX. Talk about an impressive this little item is very sturdy, well designed and I can tell it is going to be a blast. We got it out and set up on Sunday so you know I will be trying it out (for upper body at least) on Monday. I love a new exercise toy. After I have a chance to give it a few thorough workouts I will write up a review. Dan and I were both more impressed than we expected to be.

The Day After Christmas

We stayed up late Saturday night, which is our natural inclination, so we slept in on Sunday. Well we slept in for us which really wasn’t that late for a day off. I was up by 7am and Dan got up an hour later.

After getting on the scale, which we do each morning, we decided to have another green smoothie for breakfast. This time I reduced the nuts and added oatmeal. After reading the Dr. Barnard’s book (the one I reviewed above) I wanted to see if a smoothie with fewer nuts would be as satisfying and last as long. It was fine going down but I did seem to get hungry sooner. I am going to try this for at least a week and see how we feel. I will let you know what we decide.

For lunch with my parents I thought that a hot thick stew would be good with the snow and wind that was predicted. Dan loves my Moroccan Chickpea Stew but this time I wanted to add more veggies to the dish. I also thought it would be good to have a recipe that could be made from things most of have in our pantry. Here is what I did:

Pantry Friendly Winter Moroccan Chickpea and Veggie Stew
Serves 6


½ pound of chickpeas, cooked until tender
1 bay leaf
water to cover chickpeas by at least 1 inch
1 pint (2 cups) canned diced tomatoes (or substitute 15 ounce can of diced tomatoes no salt)
1 pint tomato sauce (or substitute 15 ounce can of tomato sauce no salt)
1 red onion, finely diced (once cut allow to stand 10 minutes before heating so the chemical reaction has time to take place)
8 cloves garlic, finely minced (once cut allow to stand 10 minutes before heating)
½ cup golden raisins, or to taste
½ tablespoon cumin seeds (you can grind all or any of the seeds, I prefer the texture of leaving them whole)
½ tablespoon coriander seeds
½ tablespoon fennel seeds
1 teaspoon - ½ tablespoon ginger powder, to taste (to increase the nutrition)
1 cinnamon stick
1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste (I would have used more but my mother is not tolerant of spicy foods)
¼ - ½ teaspoon turmeric (not for flavor just to increase the nutrition)
freshly ground black pepper, to taste (remember to be generous since it makes the turmeric more bioavailable)
2 large parsnips, cut into bite size pieces
2 cups frozen or marinated artichokes cut into 1/8ths
I red pepper, roasted or fresh, cut into bite sized pieces
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into small cubes
2 cups cauliflower, cut into small pieces
1 lemon, zested and juiced
½ cup freshly cilantro, minced
cooked whole grain to serve as the base (I used quinoa) – not included in the nutritional stats


Combine the chickpeas, bay leaves and enough water to cover by at least an inch and simmer until the beans are soft. I cooked an entire pound of beans and put half of them in the refrigerator to use in salads early this week.

Once the beans are tender add the ingredients through the parsnip and let the dish simmer for at least an hour. You may need to add water to keep the stew from sticking. I cooked mine about 2 hours then added the artichokes, red pepper, sweet potato and cauliflower and cooked the stew until the veggies were tender, about 45 minutes. Just before you are ready to serve add the lemon zest, lemon juice and fresh cilantro.

I served this dish over quinoa. This is good topped with either sliced almonds or pine nuts also if you like.

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 362.83
Calories From Fat (8%) - 29.18

Total Fat - 3.51g
Saturated Fat - 0.4g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 539.19mg
Potassium - 1672.19mg
Total Carbohydrates - 76.07g
Fiber - 20.77g
Sugar - 23.58g
Protein - 14.51g


This dish was universally enjoyed by the omnivores and vegans in the extended family. Dan is looking forward to having another big bowl of this at lunch on Monday. In the past I would have made this with preserved lemon but I changed to fresh lemon to reduce the sodium and I don’t think it hurt the taste which actually surprised me. I also loved that this was a pantry friendly meal since the only fresh veggies in here were hearty winter veggies.

Dinner for us was quick salad. I noticed this evening that salad for dinner has become our new normal. I think this has happened for a number of reasons but predominantly because we eat late and aren’t very active after dinner. Having something light like a salad seems to be more in keeping with our actual evening caloric needs. This salad was very simple and contained: shredded romaine, sweet potato, cucumber, leftover quinoa, leftover chickpeas, grape tomatoes, almonds and the dressing I made yesterday. It was quick, filling and nutritious the perfect meal in my opinion. ;-)

After dinner I mentioned to Dan that my knee wasn’t “hurting too much” and I thought I could get back to exercising on Monday. He reminded me I said I needed to take at least two weeks off and that maybe I could do some upper body strength training and use the exercise bike but to stay off my knee. Good thing one of us has good sense around here isn’t it? LOL, sometimes I am too gung ho for my own good.

Happy Thoughts:

We had a wonderful holiday long weekend together. Here are my happy thoughts:

• I am very thankful to be married to my best friend. Dan knows me so well and always buys me the prefect presents. I love you baby!

• We didn’t get our Christmas day snow but we did get a few snow flurries. It retrospect it was nice to have clear roads when we went to the library Saturday evening. Also on snow on Sunday wasn’t the blizzard that much of the East coast experienced. By Monday morning we had little more than a dusting. It was terribly windy but the snow probably wasn’t more than 2 inches here.

• It was wonderful to be able to spend another Christmas with my husband and have both of us be happy and healthy. I never take that for granted now. I feel so good that we are becoming more focused on health the older we both become.

• The fur children were particularly cute this weekend. They love to get into everything we do and really do light up our lives. We are very fortunate to have three special little fur babies in our family to bring our home to life.

• At dinner on Christmas Eve we were discussing the topic of friends, not acquaintances but true friends. We defined friends as the person who that will drop everything and be there when you needed them. Dan and I are very fortunate to have that in our friend Louis. He has been there so many times when we needed him. Louis, if I haven’t told you recently I hope you know how much you mean to both of us. Lots of Love and Hugs!

• I feel very fortunate this weekend for my life. Other than cancer I really can’t imagine a more perfect life for me. Most of the time I am beyond happy and almost need to pinch myself to believe this really is my life and not a dream. Sometime I think that we are all too busy with everyday distractions to notice the wonderful little things that happy every day. I try to take it all in and to be grateful for what really matters in life. In my case that is having my husband, fur babies and my friend Louis in my life. I love you all!

Signing out:

It is amazing how quickly I got behind with one brief computer problem. Sorry this post was so long. I decided one long post was better than two shorter ones.

Dan has gone back to work this morning *boo hoo* which means I am back to my regular schedule. I need to get my exercise finished and do a ton of things around here. It never ceases to amaze me how much needs to be done at home. How did we ever get it all accomplished when I worked crazy hours like Dan? *shakes head*

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. Talk to you again tomorrow. Stay warm!

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Eve Fun

Since the weather people were calling for an undetermined amount of snow, possibly significant, over the weekend we decided to head to Whole Foods first thing in the morning. We couldn’t run out of kale you know, LOL. Even though we got there at 8:20 in the morning it was a zoo. I tried to take a few interior shots with my phone but they came out fuzzy.

After we braved Whole Foods on Christmas Eve we headed home for breakfast. No surprise we started our morning with one of our usual green smoothies made with kale, frozen banana, cinnamon, ginger, ground flaxseed and a pinch of stevia. Dan and I had the same thing this morning. ;-)

Since we knew we were going out for dinner we had a big salad for lunch of: shredded romaine, salsa, white beans, artichoke hearts, yellow bell pepper, cucumber, and grape tomatoes.

Next we stopped at the restaurant between the lunch and dinner rush to give Ian and Corey (the manager) their holiday presents. Ian seemed to enjoy his copy of “The Artful Vegan”. I think he was surprised that the food was so intricate and beautifully presented. We also bought him two “chefy” T-shirts and a bottle of our favorite balsamic vinegar. Corey got a big bottle of grapefruit cello since he used to always enjoy it when I made that in the past.  I will say I felt  huge twinge of guilt because it is alcohol and sugar and I know how bad they are for health.  I convinced myself that he will drink it sparingly. *rolls eyes*  Hey Corey, if you are reading this let me believe that okay? Hugs!

After that we had some time to kill so we did a little shopping. We went to Hunt Valley Mall to see if the flamingo ornament was back in stock but it wasn’t, darn it. We picked up a full length coat for me which Dan gave me as one of my Christmas presents. The jacket I bought last month wasn’t going to be warm enough if the temperatures stayed as cold as they have been.

I love Christmas lights so we did a little ride through the neighborhood to look at lights to kill a little time before dinner. The next few photos you see will give you a better idea of our neighborhood. The houses are very eclectic and different from each other in both size and style.

The huge snowflake ornaments on this house are adorable. If anyone knows who sells them I would love to know.

This is a beautifully decorated house back in the neighborhood. The picture doesn’t do the decorations justice. The house is stunning in person.

I love how simply this house was decorated and thought the tree on the porch was adorable.

We had dinner reservations at 7pm and even though Ian was making a special Christmas Eve menu (the feast of the 7 fishes ... it is an Italian thing) he said he was happy to make something vegan for us. Ian is so sweet!

When we got to dinner there were no tables so we sat at the bar for a little while and chatted. Alan (one of the owners) insisted that we have some Brunello. Did we say no? Of course not and he knew we wouldn’t since it has always been our favorite wine. Dan thought since it was a special occasion and little wine wouldn’t be much of a problem. Alan joked with us an hour later than he had never seen a small glass of wine last us an hour and it that this was as much a miracle as the oil lasting for 8 days. Dan and I both thought Allan's comment was a riot and very true indeed LOL.

Not long after we were seated Jane Allen showed up and joined us for dinner. We had only run into her a few times since we stopped going to wine tasting. In years past we would see her every Thursday at wine tasting. We had a great evening catching up. It was a very pleasant surprise to run into her at the restaurant. I keep telling you this is the neighborhood spot. I wish all of you had a restaurant like this that was close to you too.

Our appetizer was mixed wild mushrooms that were lightly flavored with garlic, onion and herbs. They were succulent and delicious. I love eating mushrooms not only because they taste good but because they boost your immune system and who wouldn’t like that?

Next Ian made us dish on the menu above only he left out the anchovies and cheese. It was lovely and you know we love anything with kale, LOL.  This was Dan's favorite dish probably because his mean Italian wife never makes him homemade pasta anymore. ;-)

We were still hungry since we only had salad for lunch so we asked for a third dish, which we don’t normally do. Ian made us schezuan veggeis because he knows we love that sauce. As weird as this sounds I love going out to dinner and having food show up that is a complete surprise. It helps that we have such faith in the chef but I enjoy the mysterious aspect. ;-)

After dinner we decided to stop by the “Miracle on 34th Street” which is huge contrast to the prior Christmas lights I showed you and they are less than 2 miles apart which I find wild. For those of you that aren’t from Baltimore it is one small block in Hampden that goes completely overboard decorating and has done so for as long as I can remember. I took a couple pictures to share the craziness of it with you.

Happy Thoughts:

The holiday season has been very nice so far. Dan went completely overboard as always but it was very sweet even though I feel terribly guilty. I will share some of the items with you tomorrow. Here are my happy thoughts today:

• Dan and I had a lovely Friday together which is I loved. We don’t get many weekdays together. Considering that we ate out I think we had a very healthy food day Friday. I love it that we have that option even when out.

• I hadn’t seen the mall decorated at night and that was very pretty. I become a little kid at Christmas I love lights and shiny things. ;-)

• I have also been enjoying looking at Christmas lights. There is that little kid coming out again. ;-)

• I am very thankful to have another holiday season to spend with my best friend and husband. Every day I think I love him just a little bit more even though it doesn’t seem possible.

Signing out:

Christmas Day was a bit of a mad rush with a few things not going according to plan. Nothing major went wrong just the annoyances of everyday life. It is funny that a few years ago what happened was something that would have ruined my day and now I can just laugh and keep going. Mortality does have a way of changing your perspective on things. I will you fill in on everything in my next post. Overall the day was very good and I got some nice loot, LOL.

On the entertaining front we are supposed to get snow Sunday but it is very unclear how much. Apparently the storm is running up the coast which means we may get a lot or a little snow tomorrow. At least we don’t have anywhere to be tomorrow since we ran out to the library Saturday evening to drop off the books that were due the day after Christmas.

I also finished reading “Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes”. The plan is to have that review written in the next couple of days. At the moment I have a winter Moroccan chickpea stew simmering away for Sunday lunch. Moroccan food always fills the house with such nice aromas. :-)

I will talk to you all again tomorrow if not sooner. I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday with people they love.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Thursday was a busy one

Thursday was one of those just before Christmas days with lots to do for the holiday. The day started like normal with a green smoothie for Dan.

I wasn’t particularly hungry so I had a banana and walnuts and a few mugs of green and white tea with ascorbate C (to increase the absorption of EGCG from the tea).

Since Dan’s office was closing early he decided to have lunch with Dan Jr. at Teavolve downtown. Sorry there are no pictures because the server messed up and didn’t put the order into until 5 minutes before Dan Jr. had to go back to work for meeting. The guys ended up getting their food to go and they weren’t exactly thrilled about that. Dan ordered his usual Asian tofu salad which I pictured here.

My lunch was leftover Crème of Krab soup.

To round out my lunch I had a salad of baby spinach with oranges and grapes, no dressing. The fruit added enough juiciness to the salad for me. Normally I would have added nuts to the salad but since the soup had plenty of cashews I thought I didn’t need a double dose.

Since I am still on a mission to get the scale back down dinner was also a salad. This one contained: shredded romaine, mango, red pepper strips, white miso and mirin dressing and topped with white and black sesame seeds which also contain dried ginger and pepper.

Here is a picture of Luca Belle relaxing with her father. Our cats love to cuddle. The moment we sit down one or more cats arrive to sit on us.

This is me trying to read a book with Binky trying to cuddle.

Healthy Eating:

I have been emailing a blog friend this week and she said something that I want to talk about. She said she feels weird posting tofurky or baked goods on her blog because she doesn’t want to disappoint me. While this is very sweet and touching it is also very unnecessary. I have said many times that if it weren’t for cancer we would probably never have started eating this healthy and that is true. I would like to believe we would have been smart enough to change our diet and lifestyle without that wakeup call but the reality is we didn’t/weren’t.

Cancer is a horrible disease and if you know anyone who has had it you know what I mean. If anything I write causes one person to eat more healthfully I will feel like the time I spend blogging is worth it. I don’t want to see anyone else have to deal with this horrible disease. There is a huge amount of data that the consumption of animal products increases cancer. Vegans are not immune from cancer. Soy protein isolates also fuel cancer, as do foods with a high glycemic index and alcohol. Additionally oil has been shown to decrease the flexibility of your arteries and since cancer patients and survivors are at a higher risk of heart disease we removed the oil too. *sigh* I know it can be overwhelming to make that many changes to a diet. Except for a little alcohol to flavor dishes we have eliminated most of these foods unless we are out for dinner where that many modifications aren’t realistic. However I hope my blog shows that you can still eat delicious food that is also healthy.

Back to my friends comment about not wanting to disappoint me. Just because we don’t eat something doesn’t mean there is any judgment being made. From all the research I had done I believe our diet is the healthiest I can make it. However not everyone is ready to change to the extent we have. I firmly believe that if more people read the research that I have they would change. However I am also a realist and know that probably isn’t going to happen, sadly. I think the less unhealthy foods any of us consume the better off we are. I hope that explains where my head is regarding food.

Happy thoughts:

Thursday and Friday very busy but they were also a good days. Here are my happy thoughts now:

• I love the calm and quiet that we have at home. Sometimes I need a little peace and serenity and it is wonderful to have that at home.

• My favorite thing about Christmas this year is the long weekend. I love spending time with Dan and I know we will have a wonderful weekend together.

• All the Christmas presents that I ordered online arrived on time. *huge sigh of relief*  The last one arrived Wednesday evening just be 6pm. Shipping did go right down the wire. Who knew 10 days was barely enough time to order online. I am very happy that everything arrived before Christmas.

• We did the end of our grocery shopping this morning and Whole Foods. I am thankful to have that out crossed off our list.

• The on again off again Christmas snow seems to be on again. This time they are calling for flurries which sound wonderful to me. The best of both worlds white stuff but no traffic nightmare.

• We had a lovely dinner out on Friday that I will tell you about in my next post. It is wonderful to have dinner with friends. Ian liked his presents in case you are wondering. I will fill you in on that in the next post.

• Friday I was having computer problems which is why I didn’t get this post up yesterday. I am thankful that Dan is very handy with computers and got things fixed for me.

Signing off:

Merry Christmas to all of you and I hope you are having a wonderful holiday and are enjoying your friends and family. I will try to get another post up later today with the Friday update. Realistically it may not happen but that is my plan.  Have a great day and I will talk to you again soon.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Creme of “Krab” Soup Kissed with Marsala

Wednesday morning we almost had a heat wave. When we woke up it was actually 35 degrees. The temperature had fallen few degrees before Dan left for work but it was still warmer than we have had lately so it was very nice. Sadly no gym this morning as my knee wasn’t up to it, darn it!

Breakfast for Dan was another green smoothie (kale, spinach, frozen banana, walnuts, cinnamon, powdered ginger, ground flaxseeds and a pinch of stevia). I know the color looks odd but they are really good and taste mostly like banana. I used part kale and part spinach this morning because we are rapidly going through the three bunches of kale that we bought on Sunday. I didn’t want to run out of kale before I had a chance to get back to Whole Foods.

Once Dan left I made myself breakfast and I had savory oatmeal. I haven’t made this stuff for myself in ages. Normally I eat whatever Dan is in the mood for but since I had my breakfast after he left I made myself something different. I think savory oatmeal gets better every time I make. This version included minced garlic, cumin, oregano, fresh spinach, ground flaxseed and salsa. This stuff is so good and has great nutrition. Too bad Dan doesn’t love it as much as I do.

My mid morning snack was an orange and two Brazil nuts (for the selenium).

Later I had a banana with a few walnuts.

Since I didn’t get much cardio in today due to my knee pain I found I wasn’t very hungry. I notice the inverse when I do get in a good workout I am ravenous. Does that happen to you too?

Dan ended up coming home sooner than I had expected which was wonderful but I wasn’t ready. Since I didn’t have much time to plan or cook I went with a quick soup that is started in the Vitamix and finished on the stove. I decided that I wanted to make a healthy vegan version of an omni soup I used to make with crab and heavy cream. No fat in my prior version of the soup. As you can see we had a very unhealthy diet in the “bad old days”. ;-) Here is what I did:

Creme of “Krab” Soup Kissed with Marsala
Serves 4


½ red onion, peeled and chopped
6 cloves garlic, peeled
1 cup raw cashews
1 quart of canned tomatoes or 2 – 15 ounce cans tomatoes (to be pureed)
1 pint of canned tomatoes or 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
dash of cayenne, to taste
¼ teaspoon celery seed, to taste
¼ teaspoon dill weed, to taste
1 tablespoon hot crushed peppers (wet hots)
1 cup brined jackfruit, cut into small pieces like crab
1 cup marinated or frozen defrosted artichokes, cut into 1/8th’s
3 or 4 tablespoons of dry Marsala, to taste (you can also use Sherry, if you want to make the soup non alcoholic use a little lemon juice or sherry vinegar to taste)
2 tablespoons fresh parsley finely minced, for garnish
1 tablespoon sliced almonds, for garnish – optional


In your high speed blender combine the onion, garlic, 1 quart of tomatoes, juice from the pint of tomatoes, raw cashews, celery seed and dill. Process until smooth and pour into a pot to simmer until the harsh onion and garlic has been cooked out. Alternately you can process the soup for 5 minutes in your blender and cook out the harshness. Add the brined jackfruit, artichoke hearts, drained diced tomatoes and Marsala then cook to warm the vegetable chunks. If you don’t have jackfruit you can use all artichoke hearts which we think have more flavor anyway. LOL

To serve top the soup with fresh parsley and almonds (if desired)

Nutritional Information:

Amount Per Serving
Calories - 273.98
Calories From Fat (38%) - 103.66

Total Fat - 12.39g
Saturated Fat-  2.05g
Cholesterol - 0mg
Sodium - 60.71mg
Potassium - 1132.63mg
Total Carbohydrates-  35.87g
Fiber - 7.68g
Sugar - 8.73g
Protein - 9.82g


When I asked Dan what he thought of the soup he said it was good, and I agree. I also asked if it reminded him of my crab version and he said not really but that it was good and that he no longer cares about recreating omni food. Wow! I had no idea he had come this far. I was very happy to hear this since I agree that as long as the food tastes good it doesn’t need to taste like the original that inspired it.

To accompany the soup we had a small salad of baby spinach, cooked sweet potato, salsa and sliced almonds.

After we ate Dan and Binky did what they do most evenings. Dan does a Sudoku puzzle and Binky helps because we all know cats are smarter than humans and we couldn’t do anything without them. Just ask your cat they will tell you, LOL.

Tomorrow (Thursday) will be the last day the gym is open until January 3. I already miss it and it isn’t closed yet. The only down side to joining our college gym is the wonky schedule during holiday break. However other than that one problem we love the gym. It is ridiculously convenient and has everything we could possibly need. Dan and I are talking about playing racquetball some evenings after work before dinner at the gym which we wouldn’t do it we had to drive very far. The proximity of this gym couldn’t be much better.

Staying Healthy Through the Holidays:

Each year I rather dread the holidays. You are bombarded with well meaning friends and family that somehow think the holidays mean it is okay to eat too much rich food with too much fat and sugar. I have no idea how this tradition started but I am sure it explains why the average American gains 10 pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas. *ugh*

I have a few ideas for staying healthy during the holidays that think will work for most people:

• Continue your exercise schedule to minimize the “holiday food damage”. If anything try to step up the exercise to burn additional calories since it is almost unavoidable to not consume more calories than usual.

• Eat something healthy and filling before holiday parties/gatherings to minimize the amount of unhealthy food you have room to consume. Most people aren’t as focused on health as you are and know the food at gatherings probably contains a lot more sugar, fat and salt than you consider healthy.

• I also like to wear a tight belt or snug pants to gatherings. That way there isn’t much room to eat if you know what I mean. ;-)

• If you are at a cocktail party avoid high calorie alcoholic beverages and choose something like vodka and soda instead. Better yet make every other beverage sparkling water. Alcohol has no nutrition and is just empty calories that also increases your risk of cancer. The less you can consume the better off you will be on a number of levels.

• When people give you baked goods if they are absolutely fabulous stop eating them after the first bite. I won’t waste my calorie/fat/sugar budget on anything that isn’t fabulous. We have all had those subpar cookies made by a well meaning friends or relatives. I don’t care if they are vegan or someone made them just for me. If they aren’t fantastic I don’t eat them. This has been tough for Dan since he loves sugar much more than I do. But even he has come around to this concept. It sounds odd but it does work and will help keep the holiday pounds from creeping on.

• I get on the scale every morning to see what is happening. The sooner you know something is going wrong the sooner you can do something about it is my theory.

I hope that gives you some ideas. The notion of only eating fabulous desserts is the one I think makes the biggest difference for me. I try to keep in mind that I have a “finite” calorie/fat/sugar budget and that each time I “indulge” something else has to go to maintain equilibrium.

Happy thoughts:

Wednesday was a decent day for me not perfect but they never are. Here are my happy thoughts:

• It would be easy to complain about my knee but that wouldn’t make things any better and would probably result in my feeling worse. On the bright side I have a nice exercise bike at home so that I can get me cardio in and not hurt my knee. I realize that I am very fortunate to that that option.

• Dan had a “food break through” that I am thrilled about. When he told me he no longer has any desire for vegan meals to approximate omni food I could not have been happier. I think that is a sign that this healthy vegan lifestyle has become permanent. Woo hoo! I could not have asked for a better Christmas present than this. Thank you sweetie!

• We both enjoyed the quick soup I made for dinner last night. I love my Vitamix and am very lucky to have it!

• Luca Belle is still doing well with her asthma. We have stepped her down to ½ dose every other day and no wheezing thank goodness. Fingers crossed that she will be able to get her teeth cleaned sometime in January. Our vet wants the asthma completely under control and her off meds before she goes under anesthesia. I am thankful that things seem to be working out because I worry when my little furry ones are sick.

• I am also thankful for the wonderful medical team we have. It is very reassuring to have doctors (human and feline) that are genuinely concerned about everyone’s well being. We are fortunate to have them all.

• The expected snow for Christmas now appears to be coming the day after. While I am disappointed at least that means very accidents on a holiday when a lot of people are traveling to see family. Also without snow it will make it easier for Dan and me to get a little outdoor exercise in early in the day.

• So far there has been no, zero, nada holiday “goodies” at our house. I am so shocked but pleased that Dan asked me to make cookies, chocolates or some type of sweet. This will be the first year this has happened. This is a big sign of how far we come changing our diet.

Signing out:

Today has been a long one and I am not sure why that is. I think most of it is due to the pain in my right knee. The pain has made going down steps uncomfortable. Have I said recently how much I love this whole aging thing? *rolls eyes*

My plan for the rest of the day is a trip to Whole Foods and the gym once Dan gets home from work. I don’t know that my knee will agree with me on the gym in a few hours. However I have my fingers crossed that I can get to the gym for a little elliptical and rowing machine work. As much as I dislike the elliptical I get a better calorie burn than I do the on bike which means I am almost looking forward to it today.

I hope you are all have a wonderful end of the week and the year and that 2011 is even better than 2010. Talk to you tomorrow.
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