Friday, November 18, 2011

Fast Food My Way

Recently I have been swamped at home as I recently told you.  When this happens cooking takes a back seat. However, even when I don’t have much time to cook that doesn’t mean that we will be eating unhealthy food.  I thought you  might want to know what sort of things we have been eating for ideas.  Here are some of the things I have been making at home:

Lots of this: hummus topped with paprika (sometimes with pine nuts sometimes without) and raw veggie dippers.

This hummus and veggie platter also has my roasted red pepper and onion salad with smoked paprika on top of arugula. There was also balsamic and lemon dressed roasted mushrooms.

Dan enjoyed this quinoa salad. I cooked the quinoa with orange zest and cinnamon. I dressed the cooked quinoa with pieces of fresh onion, dried cranberries and raw sunflower seeds.

There was also roasted miso and mirin glazed acorn squash.

I made a green bean dish inspired by things we have had a Jaleo. This one included green beans, apples, Brussels sprouts, almonds grapes, lemon juice and smoked paprika.

Curried split pea soup is good for cold nights.

Roasted yellow cauliflower and white bean soup topped with lemon dressed arugula and almonds.

One of Dan’s favorite meals, my spinach lasagna.

Black bean soup topped with lemon dressed arugula and sliced almonds.

Soba noodle soup with a mushroom broth topped with chopped baby tatsoi.

Okara pate I made with okara (leftovers from making soy milk that I keep in the freezer), tahini, garlic, lemon juice and hot pickled peppers). We like to eat things like this with veggies.

Broccoli with a pesto made from basil (also from the freezer), raw garlic, nutritional yeast and whole pine nuts for texture.

Mexican spiced bean and barley soup.

Marinated kale salad which I made with julienned kale. I marinated the kale in lemon juice and add the lemon zest. To this I added shredded carrot and sliced grapes. Even Dan commented that this was really good. As you can see it was also very simple. Love that!

As you can see fast food doesn’t have to be unhealthy or boring. Most of these came together quickly because either: I used the pressure cooker, or they did most of the cooking unattended. I hope these pictures inspire you to make more quick healthy food.

What Does it Take to Change Our Collective Health?

This question is what drives me to read, research and continue to write about nutrition and health. My husband and I started eating a vegan diet as a way to regain health. This early dietary change led to a healthy whole food plant-based diet, then to a vegan lifestyle not just diet. I sincerely hope that reading about what two not so young Americans do in their daily life will lead others to think about their lifestyle and changes that they can also make to improve their health as well.

As I have mentioned before all of our friends are omnivores. Dan and I are the lone vegans in our circle of friends which is probably because we have known most of our friends long before the cancer caused us to wake up and make some changes. When I think back now to the warning signs that we ignored I am sad that we didn’t make serious changes sooner. The warning signs were things like: elevated blood pressure, high cholesterol, weight gain, being easily winded doing little activity, difficulty waking up in the morning (requiring espresso to get moving in the morning), seasonal allergies requiring medication for months at a time, sinus infections, frequently catching colds, and just generally feeling lousy. Something tells me there are at least a few of you who can relate to this. ;-) Here is the crazy part of this journey. We changed our diet and lifestyle because of the cancer but all the other problems disappeared. If anyone had told me in my twenties that I would feel better when I was approaching 50 than I did then I would have thought they were insane. However I can honestly say that I feel better now than I have in at least 20 years and probably longer.

Now the only problem is how can I share this with other people in a way that will inspire them to try to make some changes too? This is the $64,000 question that I struggle with as I think about what to write. I very much want others to realize what a huge difference a healthy diet and exercise make in terms of overall health. About 8 years ago I read the book “How to Prevent and Treat Cancer with Natural Medicine”. At the time I thought the authors were crazy to suggest that we should be eating minimum of 10 produce servings per day to prevent caner. Now we eat closer to 20 servings with no difficulty. When you compare this to the average American diet which contains 3 servings and half of those are potatoes you can easily imagine why our collective health is so lousy in this country.

Now I have a question for you. What type of information do you think would get people’s attention? What can we share with them that may have them consider making some serious dietary and lifestyle changes? Was there one thing that caused you to make changes? Please share so that we can all learn from each other.

Happy Thoughts:

What a busy week I have had yet again. I never seem to get as much accomplished as I expect. However I have made progress and that is good thing. Here are my happy thoughts today:

• We had a wonderful dinner on Wednesday for our architect friend Phil (he is the one from Missouri), Walid and his wife Jackie. Life is too short not to spend time with friends. Ian had a nice fall vegetable ragout for us over haricot vert which we both enjoyed. I even joined Phil in an adult beverage while he and I waited for Dan, Walid and Jackie to arrive. See I do sometimes indulge, it just isn’t often. ;-)

• My girl Jackie came through for me on the glasses. That was a huge relief to have glasses again. While I was there she showed me some super cute frames that she liked and I had to agree with her they were fantastic. She was kind enough to bring the frames with her to the restaurant and fitted them for me after dinner. I can’t wait for them to come in next week. I am such a big kid. LOL

• While I was out shopping this week I found a bracelet that matches a pendant and earrings Dan bought me last year for Christmas. Score! This made me very happy. I love anything Italian and this is Venetian glass wrapped in silver. *happy dance* ;-)  Anything from Venice makes me happy since that is where we started our honeymoon.  Are you starting to notice how often Italy finds it way into my life?  It really is a magical place. 

• Studying has been going well and I feel good about being ready for my final nutrition exam. It will be very nice to have that behind me. I am looking forward to relaxing over the holidays.

• Today I had lunch with Dan and Tamera from his office. It is always nice to meet the people who he works with. Tamera and I are a similar age I believe. It was great that she is interested in healthy eating so it gave us something to talk about right away. You know where we went right? Dan had black bean soup and we shared the roasted hummus and veggie wrap that Ian makes for us. Yes we are spoiled, I know that. I wish all you had an Ian of your own. He is a life saver for us and we love him for it.

• Tomorrow we are spending the afternoon with Ian, his wife Carmen and kids. It will be nice to have time to chat with Ian while he isn’t distracted by what is happening around him at the restaurant. Ian is quite the perfectionist which means that he is always watching what is going on. That perfectionist streak is what makes him so good at what he does.

Signing out:

It is time for me to get back to studying and to get dinner started. I hope you have some fun things planned for your weekend. In addition to hanging out with Ian we will be sailing and working on the boat (to get her prepared for the winter), going to the farmers’ market, and just generally relaxing.  Enjoy your weekend whatever you are up to.  :-)

Talk with you again soon. Happy weekend everyone!


  1. Ali, good to see another post from you! I think one of the most inspiring and motivating thing people can do to promote healthy eating is to share their own stories--what it has done for them! I think Dr. Fuhrman's collection of success stories--across the spectrum of health conditions--really attracts people with those maladies. They think, "If Ronnie Valentine could come back from death's door with all his heart problems just by eating nutritarian, it can help me, too!" Of course stories of "prevention" aren't so inspiring, but that's the long-term benefit. In his "Immersion Excursion" DVD set, in the second lecture, I think, or perhaps the first, Dr. Fuhrman tells about people he has followed for decades as they've enjoyed good health into their advanced old age.

    I also think that the actual foods we can enjoy in a healthy eating style can be inspirational as well--so keep up the good work on that! I've jotted down the ingredients for that green bean / brussels sprouts / etc. dish above to inform my plan for Thanksgiving! :-)

  2. Cindy,

    Thanks, it is good to be back. Life is crazy busy at our house now. However I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel and it isn't a train. ;-)

    Success stories are very inspiring to most people aren't they? I haven't bought Dr. F's Immersion Excursion yet. I take it you really liked it?

    Good eye on the green bean dish because Dan LOVED that one. I really need to make that again and measure since it was so well received.

    Have a great holiday if I don't "chat" with you again before then.


  3. I love the way you do fast food. Hummus and raw veggies dippers are always available at my house.

  4. Imperfections,

    Thank you! Hummus and veggies are a staple here too. I would say they are one of my favorite things to eat. :-)

    Enjoy your weekend,

  5. Your fast-food looks very yummy! I'm glad you're doing well and still inspiring us with your words and photos. How timely that you mentioned the book "How to Prevent & Treat Cancer with Natural Medicine" because my someone I know was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. Could you please make a couple more book recommendations for her? Also what do you think of the Cancer Control Society website?

  6. Laura,

    While I personally believe it making dramatic lifestyle changes to improve health I am still also a believer in allopathic medicine (conventional medicine). I have read quite a few studies that lifestyle makes a big difference for those facing breast cancer. However I personally would not use only lifestyle or alternative methods and ignore traditional medicine.

    The most useful book I have read is called "Life Over Cancer" by Keith Block MD but this one is also a little on the technical side which makes it a tough read for some people. I would also recommend "The China Study", "Anticancer" and "Super Immunity". If you have trouble finding any of those send me an email and I will send you the links to them on Amazon.


  7. Thanks, I agree with you about combining the best of allopathic and alternative medicine.

    Regarding your quest to help people make changes, I'd also like to know what might work! I'll be curious to see what you come up with.


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