Sunday, June 29, 2014

Why I eat a low fat, whole foods plant based diet

Yeah, I know...I can hear it already-"here she goes again". Karen is up on her soapbox. Yep, I am. I am because I truly want people to know the benefits of a healthy plant based vegan diet. 

A few months ago I found out that one of my customers who was a 49 year old woman dropped dead of a massive coronary while taking care of her mom who has cancer. Women often have little to no symptoms before they have a heart attack. Men typically do, but for women it's not always the same signs and they either are missed or they don't exist. I was shocked, flabbergasted and felt so sad that I'd never see her again. I didn't get up to see her very often, but she was a joy to work with and training was always fun when I went to her lab. 

I don't want that to be me...EVER. I don't have heart disease, I'm not sure if my customer was having issues or was on any type of medication. But the reality is, whether heart disease runs in your family or not, whether you currently have heart disease or not, you CAN reverse it. And most of can prevent it. 

I know, I don't have heart disease. You are healthy, why should you make a change? Well, in 50% of cases, the first sign of heart disease is a massive coronary that is fatal (yeah, you die and that is your first warning sign). So you may have heart disease and not even know it. 50% of cases...those are odds that I don't want to be part of. No, I'm not trying to live forever. I'm trying to live a healthy life, free of health issues, free of medication so that if I live to 90 or 100, I am still strong of mind, body and health. I don't want to spend my elderly years sick or feeble. I want to be able to live a long healthy life free from disease. 

I know people want to hear this but they also don't want to hear it because it means that they have to make changes. I know that you would rather take a pill instead of change how you eat. I can't say I understand that idea, but I know that the prevailing feeling is that it's easier to take a pill than to change your way of eating. Even though that pill may cause major side effects that cause you to have to take another pill to cure those side effects. I get it. I know that after all the years of eating the same way, it seems inconceivable that you could revamp what you eat and how you eat. 

But why wouldn't you? Here's what I have heard over and over again. 
  • It is too hard
  • My family would never go for it
  • It's easy for you, you are single, you don't cook for anyone else
  • I can't eat one way when everyone else eats another way
  • People would think I'm weird
  • It would be too hard to eat out
  • I would rater die 10 years earlier and continue to eat the way I eat than to never eat (insert your favorite here - "bacon" "cheese" "meat" "milk" "eggs" again)
We have known for over 100 years that meat consumption is bad for us. This isn't a new trend. It was published long ago. Here's an article from 1907: 
1907 New York Times article shows that meat causes cancer

We also know that you CAN prevent and reverse heart disease

No one can make the choice for you, I realize that. But maybe, just maybe you'll take the time to read, research and make a change. Whether you go cold turkey (like I did, pun intended) or you take baby steps, changing to a whole foods plant based diet is the way to do. 

For the animals, for your health, for the planet...

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Smoky Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Roasted Corn soup

Made this last week and I loved it so much I had to make it again! Great for the chilly fall weather. 

Smoky Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Roasted Corn soup
  • 1 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cups of baked, peeled, chopped sweet potatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups frozen roasted corn
  • 2 cups black beans (rinse first if using canned beans)
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable stock
  • 2 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1 tsp. thyme (dried)
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. chili powder (I used Chile Molida)
  • 1/2 tsp. chipotle powder
  • 1 tsp. ground Himalayan salt
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • Lacinato kale (chiffonade style, add at end or just into bowl before serving)
  • Cilantro (chopped), added as garnish (as little or as much as you want!)
  • Cashew sour cream (recipe below)
  • Avocado (optional)
  1. Add onion to a large soup pot and cook over medium heat until it begins to become translucent (about 3-5 minutes). Add minced garlic and cook another 3 minutes until softened.
  2. Stir in frozen roasted corn and let cook another 3 minutes.
  3. Add the black beans (make sure they are rinsed well if using canned beans)
  4. Add the chopped cooked sweet potatoes. 
  5.  Add vegetable stock and add the following spices: cumin, thyme, smoked paprika, chili powder, chipotle powder) and bring to a boil. Reduce heat let simmer for 10 minutes.
  6. Remove 2-3 cups of the soup and puree in a blender (I used my Vitamix). Add red pepper flakes, salt and pepper to the puree.
  7. Return to the pot and stir.
  8.  Add kale to pot and stir. Alternatively, you can just put some of the kale into each bowl, add the soup on top and then stir. This helps to soften the kale but not overcook it so it retains all its good nutrition! But if you aren’t keen on chewy kale, feel free to add it in towards the end and cook it a bit to soften it.
  9.  Add a dollop of cashew sour cream to the top, along with some chopped cilantro and chopped avocado and serve. Yum! 
    Cashew sour cream:
  • Soak 1 cup of cashews in water for a minimum of 3 hours or overnight.
  • Discard soak water and put cashews in a blender (used my VitaMix)
  • Add juice from 1 lemon
  • Add 1/4 -1/2  cup water (start with 1/4 and add more as needed)
  • Add ground Himalayan sea salt to taste (usually about 1/4 tsp.)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Yum, just yum...

Just had an amazing dinner (if I do say so myself!) 

Baked Cheezy Spicy Cauliflower 
Quinoa Falafel with Tahini Avocado Dressing (I didn't have Vegg so I used ground flax/water for the egg substitute - need to experiment with the right amount as they were a bit crumbly. I baked mine and left out any oils. The dressing was good, but I added more lime to mine.)
Green salad with cucumbers, tomato, red bell pepper, Caesar dressing

The cauliflower was seriously to die for. I almost at the entire thing! 

Baked Cheezy Spicy Cauliflower: 
Heat oven to 375
1 large head of cauliflower (wash and cut into bite size pieces)

In a ziploc bag add the following spices: 

5 TBS Nutritional Yeast
4 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp South African Smoke Seasoning Blend (Trader Joes' comes in a grinder) 
 - ingredients of smoke blend: paprika flakes, sea salt, garlic, basil
1 TBS sesame seeds
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper

Shake up the seasonings in the ziploc bag, add the freshly washed cauliflower and shake away. 

Put coated cauliflower on a cookie sheet and bake until tender, about 30 minutes. Delicious! 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Another day...lots of yummy plant based foods!

Continuing my theme from yesterday of "what do I eat in a day" I thought I'd repeat that trend for what I ate on Monday. Started my day off with my typical "go to" breakfast. 

Breakfast - Big bowl of rolled oats. When I say big, I mean big! It fills me up and I am not hungry again until lunch...not to mention that oats are SO good for you. 

1 cup cooked rolled oats
3/4 cups blueberries
1/3 cup raspberries
1/2 banana
1 TBS raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 TBS chia seeds
1/2 TBS ground flax seed
1/2 white nectarine 

I was busy doing yard work so I kind of snacked for lunch
I had an apple and a white nectarine
Had some oil free tortilla chips and fresh salsa

Late afternoon snack - I made a chocolate mug cake from Happy Herbivore. I wanted a little treat after all my yard work. I make it like the recipe, but put half in the mug, drop in 1 TBS peanut butter and then the rest of it on top, then cook as noted in the recipe. It's just a little single serving cake. 

Sweet potato/black bean taco- easy peasy - just mix up black beans, sweet potato, cumin, chili powder, nutritional yeast, onion powder, cilantro and salsa and then put it into a warmed corn tortilla. I always bake a couple of sweet potatoes in the oven and then put them in the refrigerator for use during the week. During the warmer summer months I do it in the morning so it doesn't heat up my kitchen when it gets warm later in the day. The other great thing about doing this is that after they have cooled in the fridge, the skin just slides right off! 

1 head of lightly steamed broccoli - drizzled a little of my oil free Caesar dressing on it.

1 large mixed greens salad with cucumber, red bell pepper, tomatoes and my oil free Caesar dressing.

Yummy dinner. As a will not go hungry on a plant based diet! It fills you up and you don't feel stuffed and uncomfortable. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

What do I typically eat in a day?

Someone once asked my what a typical day of eating looks like from me. It was someone who was not plant based and having a hard time figuring out what I would eat. So I figured that during the month of September I would post what I eat several times during this month. 

Sunday, Sept. 1: 

I did a long run this morning so I wanted a little bit more than just my big bowl of oatmeal after I got back from my run. Before my run I had half a large banana...gotta fuel! 

Breakfast - Tofu scramble with black beans, red potatoes, kale, red onions, salsa (ended up with leftovers remaining)

Snack - Apple with a TBS of natural organic peanut butter (just peanuts, no added oils or preservatives)

Lunch - Big mixed green salad with cucumber, tomatoes, carrots and my vegan oil-free Caesar dressing. Toasted a whole wheat lavash wrap from Trader Joe's and sopped up the left over dressing with it! I LOVE this dressing. The whole wheat lavash wraps from TJs are vegan and also oil-free. 

Afternoon snack - Almond milk latte (home made) and a TBS of vegan chocolate chips (I needed a little chocolate fix).

Dinner - Leftover tofu scramble - I decided to have my leftovers from this morning, but I wanted to mix it up a bit so I made brown gravy, whole wheat drop biscuits and a cucumber salad from my home-grown green and lemon cucumbers. I never liked gravy when I was younger. Heck, I would probably only put two drops on mashed potatoes during Thanksgiving dinner. But the brown gravy from Happy Herbivore ROCKS! It's in Happy Herbivore CookbookI drizzled the gravy over my tofu scramble and then used it for my biscuits also. 

Dessert - Had my leftover half banana which I had cut up and frozen and drizzled one tablespoon of melted chocolate chips over it. 

A good day of yummy plant based goodness.