Friday, March 30, 2012

Some Suprising Famous Vegans!

Check out this amazing list of "famous" vegans! Some of them I already new or wasn't surprised about being vegan... but Mike Tyson was a shocker! And how cool that Carl Louis attributes his best year of track to his vegan diet! Does this list encourage you in anyway? I'm encouraged because the media hype can often dictate trends... I would love to see more plant based, whole food (not processed, vegan versions of typical meat dishes) available in restaurants when I get a lucky date night with my husband! :)

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Where's the Beef?!

Brown Lentils Make a Great Substitute for Ground Beef 

I've been a vegetarian most my life (since I was a teen) and I can't believe I didn't figure this out sooner! Maybe because I didn't have Trader Joe's Steamed Lentils back then. These lentils are already cooked and ready to use, hot or cold. I buy them and mix them in with rice for a quick lunch or add to a cold salad for extra protein and fiber. However, my new favorite way to use them is for a quick ground beef substitute. In the past, I've made many recipes that called for ground beef but either skipped the beef all together or used beans, tofu or fake ground beef. If you can't find these Trader Joe's Steamed Lentils you could use dry brown lentils and cook them. Dried lentils cook fast so this would still be a quick meal. Here's two of my easy, family recipes I hope you try.
This first recipe is my oldest son's favorite! He LOVES his mom's tacos. I use to make them with fake ground beef but since I quit eating anything with added oils or processed, the fake meats are out. I started using lentils and my son never even seemed to notice. He still gobbles them up fast! This recipe is so easy to cook that after you make it once you won't need to follow my recipe again.
The Yummiest Tacos (named by my son)
This recipe is one of my busy-mom stables. It's quick, healthy and tasty.

Taco filling:
1 package Trader Joe Steamed Lentils
1 cup frozen corn
Your favorite package of taco seasoning (or add your own homemade taco seasonings)
water or vegetable broth

Corn tortillas
taco toppers - lettuce, tomato, salsa

1. In a large skillet mix the filling ingredients and heat. Add water or vegetable broth just a little more than enough to get everything wet. There should be enough liquid to simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes (while your getting everything else ready).
2. Heat the corn tortillas. I put 4 in my toaster oven at one time and set it to toast. It not only heats the tortillas it also makes them slightly hard but not crunchy. You could also put them in a preheated 350 degree oven (directly on the rack or on a cookie sheet) for about 5 minutes.
3. Assemble the tacos! First add a large spoonful of taco filling on one tortilla. Then pile on the lettuce, tomatoes and salsa. I add a dash of my favorite hot sauce on top. Eat 2 or 3 and you'll be pleasantly full! There should be enough filling for at least a dozen tacos.

Traditional Shepard's Pie with Lentils
This is a great recipe to make if you have several different kinds of vegetables in your refrigerator that you need to use before they go bad. Most vegetables will work well- mix and match to your own tastes.

1 small onion - chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
8 ounces package brown mushrooms, sliced
1 cup of frozen peas (or just dump a fair amount, you don't have to measure)
1 cup frozen corn (or just dump a fair amount, you don't have to measure)
1 cup frozen spinach (or just dump a fair amount, you don't have to measure)
1 cup chopped carrots (about 10 baby carrots or 2-3 large carrots)
(any other veggies you have & want to use)
1 package Trader Joe Steamed Lentils
1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 Tbs tamari (or soy sauce)
1/2 tsp thyme
1 tsp oregano

5 large potatoes, chopped (and peel if desired)
your favorite milk alternative (soy, almond or rice)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Boil potatoes. While boiling make the filling. When potatoes are done, mix with milk until creamy. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Saute with vegetable broth instead of oil.
3. In a large skillet or pot sauté the onion, and garlic in vegetable broth (instead of oil) until soft. Add the rest of the filling ingredients and heat until everything is hot. Add more vegetable broth as needed. Simmer for about 5 minutes.
4. Line a large rectangular pan with parchment paper (so it doesn't stick and you don't have to oil). Pour lentil filling into pan. Spread mashed potato topping on top. Bake for 30 minutes.

I hope you enjoy these recipes and try exploring your own recipes substituting ground beef for lentils. I want to try making meatballs using lentils and Italian seasonings or sloppy joes. Unlike beef, lentils are low in fat (contain no cholesterol or saturated fats) and super high in fiber (beef contains no fiber). Their high fiber content helps lower your cholesterol, stabilize your blood sugar, make you fill full (high fiber foods are great if your trying to loose weight) and keep your digestive tract moving. They are also packed with protein and an excellent source of folate and iron.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Who is Dr. McDougall? What is the best plant-food-based diet?

This weekend I will be attending an advance study at Dr. McDougall's in Santa Rosa, CA. I'm so excited! Not only will I be learning from the best in the medical/nutritional field, I will also be earning continuing education credits for maintaining my dietetics registration, meeting fellow nutrition enthusiasts and eating great, wholesome meals. The weekend is sold out- as it typically does. But YOU can watch it on line! Follow this link to sign up. It's $150 - a bargain price! You can also find the weekend schedule of lectures there.

These doctors agree on the basics. A plant based diet is the best way to prevent disease and lose excess weight. However, each doctor has their own specialty and therefore has their own differences in the "minor" details of the ideal vegetarian/vegan eating plan. This should be a great debate.

I'm thrilled to see John Mackey will be moderating the Saturday night debate. He is the founder and CEO of Whole Foods Market. I admire his desire to educate customers at Whole Foods about the power of nutrition to live a healthy life! Whole Foods has started a program called Healthy Starts Here. The program offers free cooking demonstrations, nutrition lectures ($5), recipes, 30 day challenges, educational weekend intensives, and special foods that follow their guidelines. A few girlfriends and I made Thursday nights at our local Whole Foods market a girls night out! We go and hear a great lecture, taste new healthy recipes and do a little shopping. We have a great time together and are encouraged on our path to eating well. If you have a Whole Foods near you -check out what Healthy Starts Here events your store offers. Our store also has a full time Healthy Eating Specialist to assist customers. If you don't have a Whole Foods Market near you, you can still benefit from the program on line (click the link above). There are lots of recipes, meal plans and educational resources.
The Healthy Starts Here eating plan at Whole Foods was desigened by Dr. Cadwell Esselstyn, Jr. (my favorite doctor), Dr. John McDougall (mentioned above), Dr. Joel Fuhrman (mentioned above), Dr. Neal Barnard (he has a great book on reversing diabetes), Dr. Michael Klaper (check out this great video by Dr. Klaper- Food that Kills), Dr. T Colin Campbell, John Robbins and Dr. Scott Stoll. It's like a medical super star team!! I follow most these doctors and have many of their books. I provided links to their sites. You should check them out. If they have a enewsletter, I recommend signing up and also reading their books. I get LOTS of great information from them! 

I hope to come back with some great new blog entries for you! Let me know what is confusing or concerning to you about eating plant based. I would love to answer your questions in a future blog. Feel free to email me at

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Big Breakfast Bowl

Begin your day with a hearty breakfast that isn't full of saturated fats like eggs and bacon! This high fiber meal will not only keep your weight down but also your cholesterol and blood sugar. It's super filling, quick to make, and great for you. In one cup you'll average over 10 grams of fiber and over 10 grams of protein (not including the milk).

My Big Breakfast Bowl
In a big mixing bowl dump, equal looking parts of:
  • Old Fashion Oatmeal
  • Shredded Mini Wheat (plain, not frosted)
  • Grape Nuts
  • Uncle Sam cereal (or any other unsweetened, whole grain cereal you like)
  • crushed walnuts
  • chopped raisins
Mix it all together and put in an air tight container in the pantry. In the morning put about a cup in a regular bowl and add a sliced banana and any berries you have on hand, then pour your favorite milk alternative on top (almond, soy, rice...). Recently, I've been experimenting in adding a 1/8 tsp of different extracts for variety. My favorite is caramel but coconut and vanilla are also good! 

What's the Deal with Fiber?
Fiber is basically the indigestible carbohydrates in plant based foods (vegetables, fruit, grains and beans). So if we don't digest it and it provides virtually no calories then why is it important to good health, what nutritional significance does it have?

This indigestible "bulk" has huge health benefits from the moment you eat it to the moment you excrete it! Here's a few:
  • Weight Loss
    •  Fibrous foods require more chewing time which helps give your body more time to signal your brain when it's full. Since it takes up more room in your stomach, the stretch receptors in your stomach tell you you're full on less calories verses higher calories in smaller volume of food.
  • Regulating Blood Sugars
    • Fiber slows the digestion of sugars. Natural sugars found in whole, plant food is "packaged" with fiber so it takes longer to "unwrap". There's no quick sugar rush.
  • Lowering Cholesterol levels
    • Fiber traps cholesterol (from bile in the intestines) and eliminates it
  • Keeping you Regular
    • If you have problems pooping- eat more plant based foods and drink water! All the extra fiber will naturally relieve your constipation.
Because fiber comes only from plant sources if you increase your plant intake you will increase your fiber intake... and plants are loaded with many, many more health building substances! So the more plant based, whole foods you eat the better!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Hummus- More Versitile Than You May Think & A Super Easy Recipe!

If you think you don't like hummus, give this heart healthy, red pepper version a try... you might change your mind! It's so easy to make I don't even need to write out the recipe... just look at the pictures!
2 cans of garbanzo beans, 1 jar of roasted red peppers in water, 3 tsp lemon juice, 1 tsp cumin, 2 garlic gloves

Place everything in a food processor or blender.


I altered the original version slightly for my personal tastes. I found the recipe in in the book Preventing and Reversing Heart Disease by Dr. Cadwell Esselstyn.  As recommended by Dr. Esselstyn to prevent or reverse heart disease, I don't ate oils or nuts or seeds (watch here to see the "Reader's Digest" version of his book). Since it is really hard to find hummus without olive oil and impossible to find it without tahini (sesame seed butter), I make my own.

Try This!
I have use hummus in many ways. It's something I like to always have on hand. 
  •  It can be a quick snack on the go... just buy packed hearts of Romain lettuce and use the stiff leaves as a dipper/spoon. 
  • It's a great sandwich spread- it adds favor and headiness to your veggie sandwich.
  • Use it instead of pizza sause on your next no cheese, all vegetable pizza!
  • My most recent favorite thing is spreading it on sprouted english muffins (Food for Life makes  delicious ones) and toasting it. Then I add sliced tomatoes and cilantro.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

What is Healthy Eating? TED talk

Everyone has their own definition of healthy eating. For some it's cutting out red meat, eating only fish, switching to skim milk, buying fat free products, cutting out sugar, eating their favorite dessert only once a month, using protein powders, eating raw, buying only organic... the list goes on. There is no one definition of healthy eating. It's totally subjective. It's different for everyone and typically changes over the span of your life.

My goal is to be heart attack proof! Heart disease is still the number one killer in America! It doesn't have to be that way but we eat such a SAD (Standard American Diet) way- high in fat and highly processed. I have been a vegetarian most my life but after reading Preventing and Reversing Heart Disease by Dr. Esselstyn I have become a "Vegan Plus" (my own terminology). I not only don't eat animal products, I cut out all oil and eat as many greens as possible. Sound extreme?... So is cracking your chest open to save your life. I would rather eat healthy.

Here is an excellent TED talk that Dr. Esselstyn just hosted. It's worth the short watch.

I would love to tell all of American this good news! I have known too many young friends with high cholesterol, taking statins and eating a "healthy" diet still have heart attacks. I don't want one more dear person dying from the power of nutrition. The power of nutrition can either harm or heal you. I hope you pass this on to others are inspired to change a few things in your own diet. My desire is to continue to share with you truly healthy information and practical ways to incorporate it into your lifestyle. I'm always learning new things trying new recipes. You get the benefit of not having to try all my failed "experiments"! LOL!

Let me know what you think of Dr. Esselstyn's talk. Were you amazed? Stunned? Challenged? Encouraged?

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Want A Treat But Don't Want To Cheat?

The other day I wanted a treat but didn't want to cheat. The only ingredients I had to make a sweet treat were fruit and I wasn't in the mood for a smoothie. It just wasn't enough. I wanted chocolate. That's when I remembered I had cacao powder! I took stock of my frozen fruits and saw I had cherries. I decided to make a Chocolate Cherry Smoothie! And it was delicious!!

Here's what I did:
(Sorry I don't have exact measurements but I never measure when making smoothies.)
3 huge fistfuls of Kale (you won't taste it)
1 frozen banana
A large handful of frozen whole cherries
Cacao powder - maybe 1,5-2 tablespoons (you can use cocoa powder)
Soymilk to cover

Blend together! Pour in a large cup and add a straw :)
I put cacao nibs on top (bad idea, they stuck in the straw).
This was soooooo good! You can add greens to any smoothie and you won't taste it. It can change the color to a greenish brown color. If the color grosses you out just add blueberries or put it in a cup you can't see through. I switch up the greens depending on what I have. I encourage you to try it- greens are super important to your heart health! I will post about that another time. You can also use any type of milk you normally buy. I usually have both soy and unsweetened almond milk.

What is Cacao Powder?
I bought mine at a local, healthy grocery store.
No, I didn't spell cacao powder wrong-lol! Raw cacao powder is comes from the cacao bean. Cacao beans are the source of chocolate and cocoa powder. All that good stuff you hear about dark chocolate- cacao has all that an even more of the good stuff and less of the bad stuff! And because it's not processed at high temperatures, all the nutritious goodies stay intact! It is loaded with anti-oxidants, fiber!, flavanols (good for your blood vessels) and polyphenols (gobble up free radicals).