Saturday, March 26, 2011

Happy, Happy Friday and Dinner Out Again Plus a Review of the 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart

Woo hoo! Friday is almost always my favorite day of the week. Now my Friday started much earlier than usual since I didn’t get the tofu post up until about after 2am meaning I was dragging Friday morning. Gee I wonder why? ;-)

Needless to say I was a little sleep deprived and not highly functional in the morning. Lucky for Dan I can make a green smoothie in my sleep (which is basically what happened). His smoothie this morning contained: 4 kale leaves and stems, 2 frozen bananas, 2 tablespoons wheat germ, 1 tablespoon freshly ground golden flaxseeds, ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, ¼ teaspoon powdered ginger, almond milk (approx 2 cups), a pinch of stevia and ice.

We are experiencing unseasonably cold temperatures again today. Friday morning it was 36 (with a wind chill in the 20s) when Dan left for work which meant that I was not feeling like stepping outside this morning. When I texted Laura Jill to ask her to give me some words of encouragement to get outside the first thing she said was don’t wear capris. LOL, she knows me too well I couldn’t stop laughing. We both decided it was just too cold to head out in the morning. I opted to ride my exercise bike in the warmth of the house instead because I really don’t like cold weather. I will admit it … I am a cold weather wimp. ;-)

Since I had a lot to do on Friday I did a very quick strength training workout with the TRX and then got myself breakfast. No one will be surprised to hear that I had savory oatmeal again today. When it is cold outside savory oatmeal is my breakfast of choice.

Knowing that we are going out for dinner I had an orange and two Brazil nuts for lunch, which I didn’t photograph since they never change. ;-)

I have been looking forward to dinner for weeks. Months ago we planned to meet our friend Deirdre for dinner this Friday since this is her spring break. Deirdre very bravely quit her high level federal government job to become a full-time student. I am still in awe of her for following her passion. Then our mutual friend Walid suggested dinner with him and his wife Jackie. Fortunately everyone knows each other which meant we all got together on Friday for dinner.

I don’t have to tell you who cooked tonight do I? Of course Ian and company made dinner you didn’t think I was going to convince my friends to eat vegan did you? We had warned Ian last week that we would be in on Friday so the guys had a chance to think about what they would make for us. Like always when everyone one was ordering we didn’t have any decisions to make. I really love the mystery of going out to eat now.

Our appetizer was very interesting dish that combined veggies and fruit, sweet and savory, crunchy and soft with the aroma of toasted sesame oil. This dish contained: fresh green onion, raw red pepper, leeks, avocado, shitake mushrooms and roasted pear dressed with white miso, rice wine vinegar and toasted sesame oil. Delicious! ;-)

While we had the veggie dish above the rest of the table was munching on marinated olives and calamari with spicy aioli. Though I will admit that Ian’s calamari is amazing (they were a favorite when we were omni) I enjoyed our healthier appetizer just as much. Who said that? ;-)  The reason I am showing you this is for the aioli.  If you like spice try adding sriracha to either cashew creme fraiche or vegan mayo.  Great stuff I promise you. 

Our dinner was Ian’s version of samosa which you have seen us get the last two times and darn are they good. The cilantro dipping sauce just takes this dish over the top. Ian is a master with sauces of all types but I suppose that comes with his job description. This dish has been very popular and I think it is going on the regular menu. I happen to know that Ian is working on adding a few vegan items to the regular menu. *happy dance* You have no idea what a huge step that is. Ian is a classically trained chef that loves his meat and complicated meat based sauces so this really is big. Personally I am over the moon that Ian is adding vegan options to the menu. Last night in fact he had a vegan soup, appetizer and entrée on the specials menu. Woo hoo! Go Ian!

In addition to the samosas we also got a stir-fry dish that we shared. This one contained: shitake mushrooms, snow peas, jalapenos, scallions, edamame, carrots, cilantro, nori, toasted jasmine rice and a spicy brown sauce. It was delicious.

Walid ordered the crispy skinned bluefish over Riesling braised cabbage and potatoes and topped with an onion, golden raisin and allspice relish. This dish had the most incredible aroma that was probably the Riesling and allspice. I love seeing how Ian’s mind works because it always gives me great ideas for things I can make vegan and healthy. I will be making my own version of this with tofu or tempeh soon.

Jackie ordered the chicken medallions and vegetables (snow peas, roasted potatoes, tomatoes, mushrooms and  lots of olives) in a white wine sauce  Can't you just imagine this dish with tofu, tempeh, seitan or large lima beans? My girl Jackie and I both have weakness for olives. ;-) I guess you could say we both have a little bit of a salt addiction. LOL

Deirdre ordered Sicilian meatloaf with smashed potatoes and broccoli which is her usual order. Clearly we all have different food preferences as you probably noticed.

After dinner Ian came out and sat down to chat with us for at least 20 minutes before he left of the evening. We talked about what everyone has been up to, food in Bolivia, and when we were coming back in for dinner. It is always great to see Ian and spend a little time with him. I know I have mentioned this before but Ian tends to be a little bit of an introvert which still surprises me since he isn’t that way with us in the least.

Jackie and I were chatting this morning and she remarked what a great chef Ian is and Dan and both agree. He was kind enough to share the recipe for the chicken and olives dish with Jackie while he was at the table since she wants to make it for Easter. Are you starting to see why we always end up here for dinner?

We also got a chance to see Donna (one of the restaurant owners) who we haven’t seen since Christmas Eve. It is always good to see Donna and catch up. We chatted for at least 30 minutes about what we both have been up to. Donna told me this morning that "I am always inspiring" which absolutely made my day.  :-)

When we were finished with dinner Deirdre ordered something chocolate for dessert, which I didn’t hear because I was too busy talking.  I am sure you can't imagine that can you?  LOL

Donna brought Dan and me a plate of fresh fruit for dessert since we don’t eat traditional dessert any longer. Everyone takes really good care of us at the restaurant don’t they?

After Deirdre, Walid and Jackie left we chatted with Will about his week. I am SO jealous of everything he got to do. Can you believe he met with Jose Andres on Monday and then Eric Rippert on Tuesday? Talk about my dream week I just can’t wrap my head around it. He was interviewing them both for his master’s thesis. Personally I can’t imagine a better week.

When we finally got home we had a “potential cat emergency” which fortunately has been resolved. Thank goodness I knew Jackie was awake so that I could call her. The cat situation was why I didn’t get the post up last night. I get very upset when my fur babies are not themselves which I am sure all you cat and dog parents understand.

21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart: My Review

Sorry for the delay on giving you my review of the latest book by Dr. Barnard. I needed to write this quickly because it was due back at the library today (Saturday) and I haven’t ordered it from Amazon yet (though I will). The premise of the book is to try a healthy vegan diet for 21 days and see what impact it has on how you feel, your health, and your weight. My favorite part of the book is all the science that is sprinkled throughout the book. Dr. Barnard categorized the book as follows:

1. Power of Your Plate

2. Foods That Tame The Appetite Demons

3. Understanding The Calorie Burning Secret

4. Cardioprotection: Health for Every Part of You

5. A Healthy Menu

6. On Your Marks, Get Set …

7. Let’s Go!

a. Day 1. Jump IN
b. Day 2. Beyond Meaty Diets
c. Day 3. Beyond Dairy Products
d. Day 4. Keeping it Low-Fat
e. Day 5. Quick Breakfast Ideas
f. Day 6. Mastering Social Situations
g. Day 7. Eating for Energy
8. Getting in Gear

a. Day 8. Tackling Cravings and Destructive Eating Habits
b. Day 9. Heart Health
c. Day 10. Convenience Foods
d. Day 11. Travel
e. Day 12. Fighting Cancer with Food
f. Day 13. Our Friend the Bean
g. Day 14. Choosing Good Carbohydrates

9. Going to the Max

a. Day 15. Protecting Every Cell, and Slowing the Aging Process
b. Day 16. Foods That Conquer Pain
c. Day 17. Eating Your Way to a Good Night’s Sleep
d. Play with Your Food
e. Extra Motivators: Environment and Animals
f. Thinking About Our Loved Ones
g. Graduation Day

10. 21 Day Kickstart Menus

11. Recipes by Jason Wyrick
  • Breakfast
  • Soups and Stews
  • Salads
  • Wraps, Sandwiches and Burgers
  • Main Dishes
  • Sides
  • Sauces
  • Spreads, Dips and Snacks
  • Desserts

The best way to give you an idea of what this book is about is to share a few quotes from the book. I have selected a few that were meaningful to me. This book is full of information which helps the reader to want to make dietary changes. In my opinion improving your diet (from a health perspective) become easier the more knowledge you have. Ten years ago I knew very little about nutrition, only what you hear on the news or in mainstream publications. Slowly over time I learned more about nutrition bringing me to where I am now. My diet would not be as healthy as it is without a lot of reading and research about nutrition. This book does a nice job of condensing research in one compact package. Here are a few very telling points from the book:

Doctor Barnard explains that “Between 1909 and 2007 meat intake rose from 124 to 200 pounds per person per year.” Well, no wonder we have seen the size of the average American increased so dramatically during that same time period. *shakes head*

Americans now eat more than one million chickens per hour and…chicken’s fat content isn’t much different than beef’s (about 29 percent for lean beef, 23 percent for skinless chicken breast, compared with less than 10% for typical vegetables, fruits, and beans).” These statements may seem obvious but did you ever think of it this way before?

On the topic of fat consumption and trying to lose weight Dr. Barnard had some very interesting information that I also wanted to share. “Normally, your cells can burn up some of the fat you are consuming. Each cell has tiny particles, called mitochondria, which are like little fat burners, and they their best to metabolize fat.” Scientists in Baton Rouge (LA) changed the diets of 10 healthy men from 1/3 to ½ fat and test muscle cells to see the impact. The fatty diets partially turned off the genes that produced mitochondria making it more difficult for these men to burn fat.” I will be thinking about that the next time I want a handful of nuts. Yeesh!

Omega 3 fat is a hot topic among most people interested in health. I will admit that it is something that I think about as well since plant omega-3 fats contain ALA and those have an unpredictable but low conversion to DHA and EPA what do you do? The book talks about fish and here two quotes I wanted to share with you:

Of course, some people eat fish specifically because it has “good fats”. What they are thinking of are omega-3 fats, which are reputed to fight inflammation and prevent blood clots... most of the fat in fish is actually not omega-3. All fats – including fish fats – are mixtures. From 15-30 percent of the fat in fish is plain old saturated fat, and most of the rest consists of various other fat with no health benefits at all.” This is another one of those things that you never hear anyone else talk about. Whenever some brings up fish all you hear is omega-3 fat as though there is no other type of fat in the fish even though all fats are a combination of different types of fat.

Another quote that I think many of you will find eye-opening was “In a recent studies, a switch from a beefy diet to a chicken-and-fish diet lowers LDL cholesterol only about 5 percent... an entirely plant-based diet can cut LDL by 20-30 percent, or even more.” – (Jenkins, DJ, Kendall CW, Machie A, et al. Direct comparison of a dietary portfolio of cholesterol-lowering foods with statin in hypercholesterolemic participants. Am J Clin Nutr 2005;81:380-7) I have read this many times and in many places and I have to say I believe it based on what we have personally experienced. Dan’s total cholesterol went from a high of 280 to 141. How can you argue with a dramatic and sustained decrease like that? This healthy vegan diet that we are on has made a huge difference in our health.

Cleansing your body and treating it with respect requires a shift in thinking, one in which you create an empowering relationship with food.” When I read this I knew that I had to share it because I thought it was very well explained. The book is full of little nuggets like this that make you take notice.

As you have probably guessed by now I enjoyed this book for the health information and links to scholarly articles. I liked this book very much and will be adding to my next Amazon order. While I don’t plan to follow the 21-day plan, for obvious reasons, I do like having the book for reference (particularly the endnotes) and for lending to others.

Happy Thoughts:

Friday was a great day for us even though it was very busy. Here are my happy thoughts:

• In spite of the unseasonably cold weather Friday was a great day. It was a productive day that ended in great fun. I loved seeing Deirdre, Walid and Jackie on Friday. Good friends and good food who could ask for a better end to the week? As always we also loved seeing Donna, Ian, Corey, Jen, Jeannine, Michael, David, Ahmed, Will, and Jonathan. Now I am worried that I left someone out. :-/

• It feels great to have the tofu post up. That was hanging over my head for a while so I feel good about getting it finished. I hope I have inspired a few of you to try making your own soymilk or better yet your own tofu. The taste difference between homemade and commercial tofu is huge!

• I am also very happy to have the “21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart” review posted. Now when I get “Oil to Nuts” finished I am current. Woo hoo! ;-)

• Facebook is going well so far, I think. Give me another week and I will be ready to share with all of you. I want to make sure I have a reasonable idea of what I am doing first. LOL

• As I type this I am thankful for mushroom ragu which I have simmering on the stove for lunch tomorrow with my parents. There is something very comforting about the smell of mushroom ragu to me.

Signing out:

Saturday has been hectic so far with a trip to the library (yes more books) and a lot to do at home. Dan is downtown at his office working so that he can take a day off next week to go to DC with me to see the Cherry Blossoms. I am using today to get more things at home and get ready for next week which is going to be crazy busy but in a good way.

I hope you are enjoying your weekend. I will talk to you again tomorrow


  1. Dropping in to wave and say *hi*!

    Your food looks really tasty at Ian's - it's nice to have dinner with friends where everyone can eat happily :)

    Thank you for the book review and choice quotes - sounds great - one to add to my reading list and one to recommend.

    Funny about the omega-3s - it's so true! People are taking grams of pure fat a day from the fish oils - it's seems illogical. If you are concerned about DHA and GLA - there are specific plant based supplements like from algae (ie.echium). Plus if your body doesn't have a problem converting the fats to DHA and GLA - you get what you need from flax, hemp, chia and walnuts!
    Have a good weekend :)

  2. Ugh, it was only 45 here today. What happened to spring??? Very depressing actually. Anyway....glad you got to spend time with your friend. That's what we did today. Really makes for a great day if you ask me. Hope you have a great night!

  3. All the food looks delicious! I wish I could find a restaurant locally that we could get good vegan and raw vegan food at..
    Blessings, Debra
    Raw Vegan Diet

  4. Aren't you brave for posting meat pictures....LOL
    I cannot wait to hear the feed back on this post....
    I am excited to try the mayonnaise trick!! I love the fruit picture, it made my mouth water!!!

  5. Possum (N),

    Hi there hope all is well with you!

    We are all fortunate to have Ian. Having him makes it very easy for everyone to get what they want not to mention it is always delicious be it vegan or omni fare.

    You will like the book for the info alone. If I were omni the book would casue me to think twice about changing my diet.

    Glad you liked the omega 3 portion of the post. ;-)

    enjoy the rest of your weekend,

  6. Heather,

    Sorry to hear the cold has returned to you too. I think our high was 48 yesterday. Brrrr! It is supposed to be in the 60s this time of year.

    We had a great time with our friends. I hope you did too! You are right that is a great way to start the weekend.

    have a great Sunday,

  7. Hi Ali, nice post! Glad you had a fun and inspiring dinner. The book sounds good, especially for lending to omni friends. I especially love the last quote about treating your body with respect.
    I think you previously mentioned that you take an algae-based supplement for omega-3...which one and how many per day? Also, about how much flax/hemp/chia do you ingest daily?
    PS- I finally gave savory oatmeal another try this morning because I didn't have any kale for our smoothie. I kept it simple with steel-cut oats, lightly steamed broccoli and snap peas, and a little nutritional yeast and Braggs. It was great, but I don't think my husband (like yours) will be trying it anytime soon.

  8. Debra,

    Thanks we love the things Ian makes for us. We have been friends with Ian for years which helps. The restaurant is not vegan (not in the least actually) which makes it a little odd that it is where we usually end up. Ian, Will and Dani have gotten very good at "making things" up for us. We realize how very lucky we are to have them around the corner. ;-)


  9. Brandi,

    LOL you little instigator! *rolls eyes* I always talk about Ian and know that most people assume it is a vegan restaurant which of course it isn't. Also I always get ideas from seeing the things he does with meat and thought it might do the same for others.

    The onion relish on the fish smelled amazing with the allspice. That has gone on my short list to use on top tofu.

    Sriracha is meant to be in mayo! You will love that combo I promise. It has always been one of my favorites which I learned from eating Ian's food. ;-)

    talk to you later,

  10. Laura,

    Thanks, glad you liked the post. :-) We always have fun with our friends and Ian is always inspiring. I have told Ian for years that eating his food made me a better cook. He doesn't believe me but it is absolutely true! Too bad you couldn't smell the onion and allspice combo on the fish Friday night, the aroma was intoxicating.

    We aren't taking an algae based Omega 3 supplement at the moment. But I did just recently get a few recommendations for that from my vegan RD friend. When I do a little more research I will write a post about it and put in on the blog.

    I always get a minimum of 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseeds per day. I use chia and hemp where they seem to work in a recipe. My goal is to get two tablespoons per day and see how I feel. My thought is to begin to replace most of my nut and seed consumption with flax/chia or hemp and slowly work up to 1/4 cup total per day. You know me I may change my mind. ;-)

    Yay for savory oatmeal! Thank you for letting me know you liked it. I am not sure what it is about men but they seem to have trouble with the concept. BTW I read your comment to Dan and thinks you are right about your hubby not trying is soon. Men! *huff*

    talk you later,

  11. That is great news that Ian is adding vegan selections to the regular menu in addition to always coming up with fantastic surprise dishes for you two. I hope other diners enjoy the vegan food at the restaurant too, although it sounds like they do well for all kinds of preferences.

  12. Good Morning Jessica,

    I was thrilled to see three vegan dishes on the daily specials menu Friday and Saturday. We were talking to Alan (one of the owners) last night and he said the vegetable stir-fry sold very well on Friday, which is wonderful news. I am convinced that health conscious omnivores will order vegan food if it is available. Every meat-free meal is a step in the right direction for all concerned I think.

    Can you tell how excited I am about this? LOL

    hope you have a great Sunday,

  13. You know I am not much of a comment-leaver, but I am really excited about this book. I can't wait to read it and compare with E2L. There are already 2 holds on the 1 copy at our library, so I might just go ahead and buy it!

  14. Gloria?? ;-)

    Thanks for commenting since I know it isn't your "thing". ;-) The plan is similar to E2L but there are differences though slight. I am a big fan of well sources books and this is one of those. He also does a very nice of summarizing a lot of studies. I think you will enjoy that aspect of it. Who knows, maybe your hubby will read it, or you can do what I do and read sections to him.

    Check your PBS stations there is a Dr. Barnard special on this program which has been running on PBS the last few weeks.

    talk to you later,

  15. In reading your description about savoury or sweet oatmeal I realized that I also like savoury oatmeal. I shred cheddar cheese into my cooked oatmeal. If you don't eat dairy, you can soy cheese.

  16. Another impressive evening compliments of Ian! So nice that you got to spend time with so many of your friends all at once. :) Your appetizer was the most tempting thing on the menu if you ask me! You are definitely rubbing off on Ian, SO cool that there will be official vegan additions to the menu. Score for the vegans!

    Thanks for the review of 21-day Weight Loss Kickstart. I am seriously considering getting this for my dad! It really sounds like a book that could make a difference in his life. I was pretty startled to see that fact about an average 200 pounds of meat consumed per person annually--though I'm not really surprised. I'll be keeping those fish facts in mind for the next time omega-3s come up in conversation!

    Thanks also for the soy milk and tofu tutorials, so awesome! I've added that to the eventually-to-do list :) Hopefully sooner than later!! Catch you later!

  17. Hi Ali,
    I just thought this would put a smile on your face. I looked on my library's website to see if we have the 21-Kickstart Diet and every single copy (about 15 in all) were checked out. Isn't that encouraging? Especially considering how much scientific information you said there is in the book, I'm really happy to hear that people are looking beyond the news for valid nutrition information.

  18. Louise,

    I can imagine cheese in oatmeal, that is why I use nutritional yeast for the cheeze flavor. Of all the things I have given up in my diet cheese was one of the most difficult. I am almost taste tallegio as I type this. ;-)


  19. Sarah,

    You can imagine how excited I was to see an complete vegan meal on the menu (soup, appetizer and entree). *happy dance* I keep telling him he is a natural .. not that he listens. LOL, but he is a man so..... ;-)

    I enjoyed the book and thought it had a lot of good information in it. The only problem I see is that it asks people to commit to 3 weeks of healthy vegan food. Many omnivores would have a real problem with that. If you dad is open to information though you might get somewhere with him. *fingers crossed*

    It is much easier to make tofu than I thought. I hope you give it a try too.


  20. Jill,

    That is very exciting information thank you very much for sharing it. I think that Dr. Barnard having a show on PBS this month regarding this diet is driving the interest. Any way that it comes I am thrilled.

    talk to you later,

  21. Hi Ali. I was glad to see your review of Dr Barnard's 21-Day Kickstart book, since mine just arrived in the mail! I haven't had a chance to look at it yet. It came with the DVD shown by PBS, so I know that's good too. Hoping to share with some friends!

    Oh your mushroom ragu sounds just delicious. I will be moving soon, and my workplace is just down the street from Costco--woo hoo! Busy times ahead, but the shopping will be good. Can you believe, no Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Costco, or even a food co-op where I live now. There's a good reason to move right there!

    Have a great week.

  22. Colleen,

    I really enjoyed the book, so much that it is on my next Amazon order. Dr. Barnard will be talking about it at Hopkins in know I may have to go. ;-)

    No Whole Foods, Trader Joe, Costco or Co-op? Wow that is a good reason to move. I hope you had a farmers market in the summer.

    Good luck with your move,


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