Monday, January 28, 2013

Recipe for Today: Garlic Pepper Tofu & Broccoli

Garlic Pepper Tofu & Broccoli

Super-fast and ultra-easy, this recipe will quickly find a prized place in your recipe box -- you'll come back to it again and again. It deliciously wraps crisp, seared broccoli and firm tofu in a silky-smooth blend of peanut butter, fresh garlic, and cracked pepper. Serve. Enjoy. Repeat.


1 lb. firm tofu, cubed
2 cups broccoli
1/3 cup canola oil
2 Tbsp. soy sauce or tamari
1 Tbsp. fresh garlic, minced (about 3 cloves)
2 Tbsp. peanut butter
1/2 cup water
Freshly cracked black peppercorns, to taste
Fresh cilantro, as garnish


1. Cut tofu into 1" cubes or strips. Fry tofu over medium-high in a skillet until evenly browned. You can do this in a dry pan if it is non-stick.
2. In the meantime, mix the sauce ingredients and heat in microwave (or saucepan) for about 1 minute to melt peanut butter, stir well.
3. When tofu is almost done browning and firming up to your liking, add broccoli to the skillet and cook on high heat to lightly cook and scorch the broccoli (4-5 minutes).
4. Allow pan to cool briefly, then add the sauce and stir to coat the tofu and broccoli.
5. Garnish with a few sprigs of cilantro.
6. Serve over steamed rice.

Popped Amaranth Crunch

Cooler weather is coming, and so is snuggling up with your sweetie, family and friends on comfy couches for movie night. Wow them all with a gluten-free snack that is not only a nutritionally superior alternative to popcorn, but after one bite, will have everyone wondering how movie night ever existed without it.
Quinoa seems to be the big buzz these days (and rightfully so), but give another delicious ancient grain a try. Popped amaranth is a calcium-, lysine- and iron-rich complete protein with a popcorn-y taste and puffed texture that complements the buttery flavor of organic cashews and the sweet crunch of organic almonds, magically.
You can prepare Popped Amaranth Crunch baked at a low temp in the oven, or highly raw (our fave) in the dehydrator. Either way, it is a guilt-free snack that everyone will enjoy—especially your body.
Makes: 3-4 cups (be sure to double or triple the batch for larger groups)  Preparation Time: baked: 30mins  | dehydrated (optimal nutrition): 6-8 hours
Dehydrator (optional, but optimal, keeps beneficial enzymes and nutrients alive)
Large bowl
Ingredients:1 cup popped amaranth grain
1 cup organic cashews, soaked *
1 cup organic almonds, soaked *
2 tbsp raw, wild-harvested honey (you can substitute organic brown rice syrup or raw agave nectar)
1/4 tsp pink Himalayan or Celtic sea salt
*You can skip the soaking process, but soaking makes nuts easier to digest and assimilate. Read more about why soaking is optimal.
*Plant-based, r, vegan
Reference: Yum Universe

I'm going Vegan: Why not Milk?

I learned a lot about milk processing today.

I got that, over 100 years ago, we drank milk directly from the cow with the fat laying atop and the milk, of course, would be delivered in glass bottles.  The milk fat would be scraped off the top.

Today, the milk goes through so many processing cycles and then it is packaged in materials that give off oils that are not good for our bodies.  The processing causes the fat particles to become very small;  small enough that the fat particles in the milk, can now, permeate into our blood stream.

That's the skinny on milk products and fats permeating into our bodies.  Now I know the answer to the question, "Why did our Great Grandparent's eat foods on the farm and they lived long-healthly lives?"

This answers why things have changed and why we need to focus on what we are eating to ensure our bodies are getting the necessary nutrients while excluding those things that companies now process differently.

No Milk or Cheese.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Did you know? The @ symbol...

I was explaining how to highlight a persons name so when you saw a note on the internet you could click on the person's name as a hyperlink and it would take you to their personal page.  As I was writing I questioned myself, whether to spell the @ symbol as ampersand because this is how I would describe it to users when I would help them on the computer back in the early 90's. In fact, the @ sign has been with me for a long time.  There's an association there, I even received an @ sign for a paperweight from a very good friend.  
I decided to do a little legwork to learn more about the @ symbol and it's uses.
Did you know?  The @ symbol has all sorts of names.
  • apestaart - Dutch for "monkey's tail"
  • snabel - Danish for "elephant's trunk"
  • kissanhnta - Finnish for "cat's tail"
  • klammeraffe - German for "hanging monkey"
  • kukac - Hungarian for "worm"
  • dalphaengi - Korean for "snail"
  • grisehale - Norwegian for "pig's tail"
  • sobachka - Russian for "little dog"
Before it became the standard symbol for e-mail, the @ symbol was used to indicate the cost or weight of something. For example, if you bought five oranges for $1.25 each, you might write it as 5 oranges @ $1.25 ea. It is still used on a variety of forms and invoices around the world.  
Another origin tale states that the @ symbol was used as an abbreviation for the word amphora, which was the unit of measurement used to determine the amount held by the large terra cotta jars that were used to ship grain, spices and wine. Giorgio Stabile, an Italian scholar, discovered this use of the @ symbol in a letter written in 1536 by a Florentine trader named Francesco Lapi. It seems likely that some industrious trader saw the @ symbol in a book transcribed by monks using the symbol and appropriated it for use as the amphora abbreviation. This would also explain why it became common to use the symbol in relation to quantities of something.
We see it now more prominently in e-mail.

Health Tip: Be in the present moment...

"The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness." Abraham Maslow

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Health Tip: Avoiding Muscle Injury...

To avoid muscle injury during and after your workout, spend at least 5 minutes warming up your muscles before and 5 minutes cooling down after exercise.

Going Vegan: Day 19

So here I am day 19!  I have been very disciplined eating fresh produce; fruits and vegetables as my snacks during the day and proactively preparing meals the week before and having lunch and dinner quickly accessible and available to me at my finger tips.  So, when I am hungry, I have good food available without putting junk foods in my body.  I am starting to feel a shift in how I feel.  Especially in the mornings when I wake up, very early I might add.

I'm one of those "early birds"  they say your make-up is either early or late and it all depends on how you were raised.  I tend to take after my dad in that manner.  He always got up early, went to work early and arrived home early, to relax and get a good late afternoon and evening of time in to do things.  My schedule is a little different, but I too wake up before the crack of dawn, am most productive at that time and during the morning hours and then before going vegan  (vee-guhn), I would start to drag in the late morning and early afternoons.  In fact, I would force myself to get outside around the noon hour, take in some fresh air, and walk; just to wake myself up again.  Before, I would say, 'I need to invigorate my body so that I had energy for the afternoon hours.  I'm so exhausted.'

Before I changed how I eat, I was too tired to do anything.  I would force myself to get up and go to social events, and would stand in a haze as I listened to my friends or went out with my favorite guy.  This, I learned, was a very sleepy way to live.

As I take on the vegan diet (or as some just call it the produce diet) shift; I've altered my attitude and tenacity!  I wake up very early in the morning, and now my mind is crystal clear, I don't feel like I am in a haze and dreamily moving in the waking hours, instead, I'm up, my mind is alert and I'm ready for the activities I set before me.  In fact, later in the morning, I don't have that lethargic sleepy feeling I use to get on my the diet I was not pro-actively managing before.

I think part of this shift is that I am eating fruits and vegetables, like baby carrots and broccoli, as a snack in the late morning and early afternoon.  I eat before I get tired or hungry.  There are no hunger pains because I am pro-actively eating something healthy.*  And I don't crave chips or candy as an afternoon snack, like I have before the diet shift.

If anything, one could take away this: even if you don't choose to go vegan or on a produce only diet, you can focus on creating, planning and shopping for your meals a head of time.  It makes all of the 'good food' available to you, easy accessible for you to pick up and eat.

Knowing that I've chosen this dietary route, my favorite guy always has our large fruit bowl on our counter in the kitchen stocked with oranges, apples, bananas and cuties (or as I mistakenly say, "smarties," subconsciously I'm sure because I'm "being smart" because I'm choosing to pick up the cutie orange instead of a chip or candy).

There are many reasons for my experience of feeling more alive with a more vivid mind, and these are:
  1. Being more proactive in my diet,
  2. Planning a head so that I am getting the proper daily nutrition my body needs,
  3. Eating more natural foods (the focus on Vegan diet is helping me do this), and
  4. Results, feel 100% better!
You truly are 'living how and' what you eat, inside and out!

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Recipe for today: Hot Ginger Coffee Recipe

I like to sit by the fire and sip this coffee on a cold winter day. It's a great warm-up after shoveling snow, XC-skiing, skating or snowshoeing.


  • 6 tablespoons ground coffee (not instant)
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange peel
  • 1 tablespoon chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 cups cold water
  • Whipped cream, cinnamon sticks and/or additional orange peel, optional


  • Combine the coffee, orange peel, ginger and cinnamon; pour into a coffee filter. Brew according to manufacturer's directions.
  • Pour into mugs; garnish with whipped cream, cinnamon sticks and orange peel if desired. Yield: 6 servings. 

    Editor's Note: Look for crystallized or candied ginger in the spice or baking section of your grocery store.
Nutritional Facts1 cup (calculated without optional ingredients) equals 22 calories, trace fat (trace saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 3 mg sodium, 5 g carbohydrate, trace fiber, 1 g protein.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Success: How to really motivate your people

Management behaviors that INCREASE employee motivation:
  • Set clear and meaningful SMART goals
  • Provide the necessary resources, support and encouragement
  • Protect your people from irrelevant demands and distractions
  • Roll your sleeves up and help them out
  • Make progress visible
  • Recognize and acknowledge people who make incremental progress toward their goals every week
Management behaviors that DECREASE employee motivation:
  • Change the goals
  • Be indecisive
  • Withhold the resources they need to be successful
  • Cause setbacks or create roadblocks to impede their progress
  • Create intense time pressure
  • Keep your people in a state of constant crisis
  • Not let people see that they are making measurable progress every week
Eliminate the barriers to execution.

Recipe for today: Vegan Chili

This vegan chili is the perfect dish for these cold, brisk,below zero temperatures. Vegan Chili in the crockpot for tonight! Yumsters...


olive oil
4 large yellow onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
red bell pepper, diced fairly large
green bell pepper, diced fairly large
4 cans (28 ounce size) crushed tomatoes
2 tablespoons cumin
2 teaspoons cayenne (or to your taste)
2 packages frozen corn
4 cans (15 ounce size) black beans (or any other kind of beans you like, chickpeas work well, too)
3 cups picante sauce
salt, to taste
cashew nuts, if desired


Saute onions in the olive oil. Add garlic. After onion and garlic are golden brown, add cumin, cayenne, and any other spices. Cook for a few minutes longer.

Add the diced peppers and saute for a few minutes. Combine the crushed tomatoes, corn, beans and picante sauce into the crock pot; add the onion mixture. Cook on low about 10 hours.

Serve with grated cheddar * no cheese recipe... and cashew nuts, if desired.

Reference: CD Kitchen *Modified take out the cheese for vegan recipe.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Recipe for Today: Apple Hemp Muffins (vegan, wheat-free, and oil-free)

Apple Hemp Muffins wheat-free, oil-free, soy-free.  (By Dreena)

Moist, lightly spiced muffins with the added nutrition of hemp seed nuts. These are easy and quick, and sure to please both kids and adults!

1 1⁄2 cups whole-grain spelt flour
1 cup oat flour 3/4 cup hemp seeds
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1⁄4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1⁄4 tsp ground cardamom (can substitute freshly grated nutmeg)
1 cup unsweetened organic applesauce
1⁄2 cup pure maple syrup
3⁄4 cup plain or vanilla non-dairy milk
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup raisins or chopped raw banana spears (use kitchen shears or knife to cut in small pieces about size of raisins)

Preheat oven to 350°F (176°C). In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients, sifting in the baking powder and baking soda. Stir through until well combined. In another bowl, combine applesauce, maple syrup, non-dairy milk, and vanilla, and mix together. Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture, and gently fold and mix through, until just combined (do not overmix). Spoon the mixture into a muffin pan lined with cupcake liners (this will fill 12 muffins quite full). Bake for 24-25 minutes (less time for smaller muffins, longer for larger), until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (See notes above about cooling to help remove from liner.) Makes 12 large muffins.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Going Vegan: I'm vegan, can I drink beer and wine?

We were heading out the door for an evening in the city. And my husband stopped and said, "Wait, can you drink beer?"

I never thought about it, so I quickly looked it up before heading out the door. Jolinda Hackett has the answer. 

My personal philosophy is that anyone can eat or drink whatever they want, but us veggies choose not to partake of certain foods. So decide what your choices are and stick to them!

Having said that, if you're a dedicated vegan and are choosing to rid your diet of animal foods, have you thought about what goes into the alcohol you drink? Many beers and wines are refined using a product called isinglass, which comes from fish, or may be filtered with bone char. While it may be easy to spot the worm in a bottle of tequila, determining which beers and wines are strictly vegan is another chore! In general, organic wines are usually vegan, and beers made in Germany, where there are strict laws regarding ingredients will be vegan-friendly. Other than that, our friends over at have put together this handy guide to vegetarian and vegan wines, beers and liquors.
*Reference: By Jolinda Hackett, Guide 

Health Tip: Sunlight...

Getting about 10 minutes of sunlight daily has many health benefits. Sunlight increases the production of endorphins, which help instill a sense of well-being and reduces depression.

Health Tip: Be proactive in your wellness care...

Be proactive and involved in your health and wellness care. When going for a check-up with your doctor, ask questions if you aren't sure about your medication, procedures, diagnostic tests or plan of care.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Going Vegan: Day 12

It's going on day 12, and I'm still doing well on my vegan diet.

One thing that is becoming very clear to me is the exactness and pro-activeness I am taking in what I eat. Before making the decision to vegan, I was a vegetarian, opting to have a burger here and there. Not really thinking twice about what I put in my mouth. Not thinking about combining produce to make sure it was fulfilling all of my dietary needs. Simply put, when I was hungry, I ate. And whatever was available, I would eat it.

Since, I am not an advocate or practitioner in the kitchen, in short I'm not a very good cook, allowing my husband to take on that role. A lot of this is due to practice.  He loved creating in the kitchen, and my thoughts were, have at it! More power to you.

 Sometimes the meals he made were American-style, sometimes hearty and other times they were pretty much related to my vegetarian dietary focus.

If there was no food prepared and I was hungry, I ate what was there. Sometimes too lazy to put something together, I'd grab a bowl of unhealthy foods, or munch on candy or chips. Many times, it was as easy as creating a simple pasta dish with butter and herbs.

Now that I've chosen to eat vegan, I have to be much more aware of what I put in my mouth. It cannot have any dairy or meat products at all. Or contain anything like that; even candy has milk in the chocolate.

There are still many things I come across, questions, like can I eat honey, since it comes from something that is living. But, isn't a plant living too? And the level of veganism I choose to take. Like will I incorporate olive oil into my diet? So, there is a steep learning curve, but I am up for it.

 I feel good about how I am eating and I am seeing my husband taking actions in a similar direction.

It's all good, and I'm happy to report I am enjoying my choice to go vegan so far.

Recipe for today: Hearty Nachos Vegan Style...

Hearty Nachos Vegan Style... These Nachos are a meal in themselves.  Serves 4.

"Cheese" Sauce: 

  • 1/2 Cups raw cashews, soaked in warm water for at least 30 minutes, rinse well. 
  • 1 tablespoon tahini 
  • 1 red bell pepper, roasted and seeded (Note: to roast a pepper on a gas stovetop, hold the whole pepper over an open flame and roast, turning frequently, until the pepper is black all over. To roast peppers in an oven, put washed peppers in a cast-iron skillet or roasting pan and roast them for 45 minutes to an 1 hour at 400 F. Put peppers into a plastic bag or heat proof container with a lid, and let them sweat until cooled. When the peppers are cooled peal blackened skin). 
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast 
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce 
  • Zest Juice of 1/2 lemon 
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 

To Make "Cheese Sauce": 
Combine soaked cashews, tahini, roasted red pepper, nutritional yeast, soy sauce, lemon zest juice, cayenne pepper and 1/4 cup of water in Blender. Blend on high until smooth. 

"Refried" Bean dip (fresh):

  • One 15-ounce can pinto beans, drained and rinsed 
  • 1 cup Fresh Tomato Salsa 
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon chili powder 

To make "Refried" Bean dip: 
Add beans, salsa, and chili powder in a food processor. Blend until smooth, then add water as needed. Place pureed beans in a medium saucepan and warm over low heat.


  • 1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro, parsley, or lettuce 
  • 1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and sliced (optional) 
  • 1/2 cup fresh tomato salsa 
  • 1/2 cup diced fresh tomatoes Baked tortillas cut into chips 

To assemble Nachos: 
Layer ingredients and garnish with avocado, bake at 350 degrees for 5-8 minutes. Add vegan sour cream on top optional.*

*Layered and baked Nachos.

~Reference: Forks Over Knives, the Cookbook.

Health Tip: Sunlight..

Getting about 10 minutes of sunlight daily has many health benefits. Sunlight increases the production of endorphins, which help instill a sense of well-being and reduces depression.

Friday, January 18, 2013

Health Tip: Herbs...

To keep herbs fresh, store them in a glass or vase filled with water and place them in the refrigerator. Cover the herbs loosely with a plastic bag and change the water regularly. The fresh herbs should last 7 to 10 days in the refrigerator.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

My experience at the store...

"How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours." -- Wayne Dyer

Another lesson in life.  I decide to go shopping the other day.  Now, that I am vegan, it's more important to have my meals prepared with substantial nutrition.  And now with my new book, "Forks Over Knives, the Cookbook" there is a plethora of recipes to choose from.

It takes more work to create a meal because a simple thing like sour cream has to be made from scratch, especially since I cannot have dairy products in my diet.

So, that day, I had a craving for Nachos.  Nachos have been a staple in my diet for years, knowing the cheese and processed beans had a lot of saturated fats, I still ate them.  It turns out that my new cookbook has a recipe for nachos and I was on a mission to make them.  So, I headed to the grocery store with list in hand.

Now, when I go grocery shopping, which isn't often, it's like a little adventure for me.  I like to take my time at it.  I was enjoying, making decisions after reading the labels and scavenging through the produce and selections in the aisles.  

I was almost complete with my shopping.  I strolled to the chips section, pushed my cart to the side to make room for anyone to go by, and strolled up to the location, trying to sort out where the baked tortillas were located.  When, I look up, I see three heavy-set people, it looked like a dad, and he had on a red with black striped jacket and a baseball cap, unkempt facial hair.  The two kids stood there with arms crossed in a huffy manner, without saying anything to me, I seemed to be disrupting their shopping experience.  I said after I looked up, "Oh, I'm sorry, were you trying to get through?"  Now there was room in-between my cart and me and I didn't receive any ounce of positive feedback from them, not even a thank you, or even a smile.  

Now I realize how we are living in this world.  We are keeping our thoughts in our heads, not speaking out to let people know, in a nice way that I may be in their way.  I took a moment to compose myself, and then looked the other way.  It seemed there was another person coming from the other direction who didn't want to leave his path, and of course, I was in it.  So, I stated, "I must be in everyone's way today." Then he said, "Well, there is a lot to choose from in this isle."   I thought what a strange statement.  And let the man pass by.

I think this is one of the reasons why I don't like to go grocery shopping, especially at a conglomerate grocery store.  The first reason is because the selection doesn't ever match my list; however, I did find the majority of the items on my list, even Tofu, which shocked me.  And second, because the people don't talk, they just go their path and think everyone else around them is imposing.  I brushed it off, and let it go.

The rest of my shopping experience was very good.  The only thing I didn't find was Tahini.  But, I found this online at a very reasonable price.  So, I'm happy to have accomplished so much in a little town's grocery store.

Health Tip: Fructose...

Fructose has become the latest enemy in our diets. Increases in consumption over the past two decades have moved in lockstep with the growing obesity epidemic. Nutritionists speculate that high-fructose diets may trigger weight gain and insulin resistance, and have cautioned about the potential negative health effects of fructose for years. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Health Tip: Gratitude Journals...

Robert Emmons, a psychologist at the University of California at Davis, found that people who keep gratitude journals improve physical health, raise energy levels and report fewer physical symptoms than those who didn't.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Health Tip: Walking in Natural Settings!!!

Researchers at University of Michigan found that walkers are more likely to walk longer if they are walking in natural settings near woods, water or plants.

Going Vegan: Day 7

Another interesting day going Vegan.  I had meetings all-day, off-site.  I wasn't very organized this morning before heading on the 2 hour trip.  My phone was dead, didn't have a navigation device and had to, literally, wing it!

When I arrived, there was a bowl of bananas, coffee, juice, teas and water.  This works, so I grabbed a banana and water, and poured a half cup of coffee.

The meeting continued all morning, until lunch arrived.  They had scheduled lunches, the offerings, without considering a Vegan, was chicken, rolls, chips, salad, potatoes and cookies and bars for deserts.  Slim pickings for me.  I grabbed a "full plate" of greens, including cherry tomatoes and celery and luckily there was a light vinegerette salad dressing, with several baby potatoes and another banana.  That was it for me, not much else.

Later in the afternoon, there was a tray of cookies passed.  None for me.  Blah, I miss out on all of the fun!

It's still not getting any easier.  I realize how much more organized I will need to be in my life around food.

So, that was day 7 for me as a Vegan.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Do our leaders deserve an ”F” for their “fiscal cliff” Performance?

“You, who write, choose a subject suited to your abilities and think long and hard on what your powers are equal to and what they are unable to perform.”~Horace

I wanted to start with this quote, to make mention that I am not a political expert by no means.  In fact, when people tell me that I should go into politics my first reaction is, “I’m not qualified to be a politician.”  So read my opinion with that thought in mind. 

When our clocks struck midnight on January 1st, I knew 2013 was looking grim for us in the U.S.  But, I do believe something more could have been done and I never understand why a group of people have to be so hard-headed about their “political party” just to keep their interests at bay.

In my experience, where there is money; you will see our policies lie.  It’s obvious, and sad, the direction our country is focusing. Those leaders in high places have a lot of influence.  No, I’m not talking just about those in DC; I’m talking about each of the leaders in corporations. 

Money is the root of all evil.  Each politician is getting paid by their “sponsors and supporters.” They are getting paid off to support the things the company needs votes for.  And as we all know, companies are running government.  I watched this heart-wrenching film this past spring, about the way corporations run their finances through tax loop-holes, sending their money to a post office box on an island called a country.  Out of US boundaries.  What got me as I watched the film is how the president appointed a GE executive to help us “get us out of this fiscal hole”. Then a few days later, we learned that GE paid zero dollars in taxes that year.  Of course, the leader is still positioned on his panel.  At the end of the film, it showed a rally of millions of people protesting against this; the executive looking down with a snicker.   Even with a crowd of people, the money stands much stronger.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I totally get that money makes the world go round.  I know that money is necessary, to do things.  Heaven knows; I’ve had to take money from my own pockets to make a shift in our communities and money is needed for these initiatives for the public to see.  I totally get that; but I believe there needs to be a balance.  Only a couple of decades ago, 60’s and 70’s, we at least had a balance between taking care of each other.  The government didn’t tell us to do this; it was out of respect for each other and my own responsibility.  I remember that I was free to own my freedom, as long as I was being a responsible citizen myself.

Government isn’t working anymore because our country has outgrown it.  The government was designed with Washington his leaders, back when that design worked. We have grown out of the design as it is run today.  It is time to re-look at our government design to see maybe it just is not working anymore and we need to adjust it to fit the needs of the population at hand. 

And finally, government is top-heavy; running too many programs, when in turn, they should just be oversight.  The definition of government is “the system or form by which a community or other political unit is governed.”  In that definition it doesn’t say an organization that runs programs, schools and prisons.    It’s hard to get through the tangle of political mumble jumble and see main objectives we are trying to achieve as a country.  And now, with the financial burden, we as middle class are going to have to take on more burden.  I get exhausted and am feeling it.  It’s getting difficult for anyone to survive just to live the American dream.  I’m not talking about the bigger house and more toys; I’m simply talking about 'to live a happy life.' 

There are times when discuss ironically, “The prisoners are better off that we are.  They get 3 meals a day and get a free education and prescriptions.”  And guess who’s paying for it?  Yep… We are!

I know that I am only one person.  I am writing this because I figure, instead of just sitting here, reading these unsettling stories; I should do something.  

Each of us can play a part in this.  I presented only some of the problems, now, where can we each go from here?  Until we each address these problems, in our own innovative and creative ways, it’s going to continue to be an unsettling stalemate.

Kim Groshek, A driving force behind positive change through the power of the Arts and Sciences.

Recipe for today: (Vegan) Creamy Breakfast Rice Pudding

Creamy Breakfast Rice Pudding
  • 2 cups precooked brown rice, loosely packed (reserve 1/2 cup)
  • 3/4 – 1 cup non-dairy milk (your choice, see note)
  • 1 ripe banana (about 1/2 – 3/4 cup, sliced) (optional, see note) OR 1-2 tbsp pure maple syrup, coconut sugar, or chopped dried fruits
  • 1/4 – 1/2  tsp cinnamon
  • few pinches nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • grated orange or lemon zest (optional)
  • optional: 1-2 tbsp cocoa powder (see note)
In a small saucepan, add 1 1/2 cups of the cooked rice (rough measure), and the remaining ingredients starting with 3/4 cup of milk (omit banana if you prefer, see note – and except the zest).  Puree the mixture using a handblender (alternatively, you can puree in a blender before adding to the saucepan, but I find the handblender is quicker and easier for clean-up)!  Add the remaining 1/2 cup of rice, and turn heat to medium-low.  Let the mixture thicken and warm for several minutes.  Add the remaining milk if desired to thin.  Taste, and adjust with sweetener and orange/lemon zest if desired, and stirring through add-in’s if you like!   Serve.

Banana and Sweetener Note:  The banana adds natural sweetness, and so if using it, you may not need the maple syrup or coconut sugar- it’s up to you.  However, also note that if adding the banana, the mixture will turn a darker color with the banana oxidizing and being cooked – so it’s best to eat straight away rather than save leftovers.  If you don’t use the banana, try adding a touch of pure maple syrup or coconut sugar.  Or, you can add chopped dates or other dried fruits to sweeten.

Milk note: If using a vanilla non-dairy milk, you may not need any additional sweetener.  If using an unsweetened variety, you will probably want to bump up the sweetness with the pureed banana or other options.

Ref: Dreena Burton and and

Going Vegan: Day 6

Going Vegan: Day 6

I'm doing well so far, in fact I felt less groggy when woke up very early this morning to get my workout in. Something good is happening, I can feel it.

I had a protein shake waiting for me in the fridge, after eating a full breakfast, I drank that down as well.  I'm still working through getting my exercise routine down, and my body to feel good during workouts.  But, that is about muscle strength and endurance; which doesn't have as much to do with my diet as it does to get my muscle memory back in order.

As far as my diet, I can't quite explain it yet.  I feel like the haze in my groggy head in the a.m is gone.  Even throughout the day, I don't seem to get tired and lethargic like I do mid-day.

I still admit, the cheese is going to be an issue; but, again, it's addictive and can see this as all in my head.

My friend offered ideas for cheese substitute, I should look into Daiya Vegan cheese, she also offered a yummy looking recipe Coconut Daal, and my runner friend offered a Vegan version of Spankopita (spinach pie).

I'm receiving all sorts of Vegan recipe ideas.

*I'm still ferreting through it all and taking everything one step at a time!

But, so far so good!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

My Best Life

My Best Life
A Professional Speaker, Author, Consultant, Producer & Commentator talks passion, common sense and the love of the arts!

Best way to combat nerves
Exercise!  Preparation, keep contained and execution.  Don't worry and contemplate on the future event.  Relax when you can and let things pass.  I am in nerve-racking situations on a daily basis.  I negotiate with a variety of people in the industry, and I make sure I know what I'm talking about.

Best Advice
"Take time to smell the roses." and "Slow down, enjoy life."  Life creeps up very quickly, I just realized that it's already another new year and 2011 is no longer last year, it's now 2012.  Be present in the moment, create memories with those you love.  Time has a way of getting away from us if we don't.

Best Childhood Memory
I have so many good memories of being a child.  There are two that rings presently, one is being at my grandma's house for Sunday brunch, hanging out all day and doing crafts, playing with dolls and playing games outside.  And the second is playing in the fields in our backyard, creating huts for my dolls and cities where they could live and have fun!

Best Guilty Pleasure
My guilty pleasure is eating things like Nachos, beans and cheese, taco seasoning, with guacomoli and homemade greasy-salted chips.  My husband and I like to go to the theater and then share this unhealthy snack with a home-brewed beer after the show!

Best Souvenir
My husbands civil war (1863) ten cents he received from his grandpa is very special.  And I like to pick up something where ever I travel, to jog my memory, to remind me of the stories we created!

Best Hobby
My best hobby is art, I love creating if its in the kitchen trying a new recipe, its illustrating books, its writing, its producing film or coaching and inspiring others to overcome their fear of creating their own possibilities!  My most current hobby is learning how to create stained glass for our kitchen cupboards!  I love making our home ours!

Best Gift
I have a beautiful, healthy, smart and strong daughter and a supportive husband who is my best friend.  This has been a precious gift and I am thankful for them each waking moment.

Best Vice
Thanks to my German-Russian and Dutch heritage, I cannot get enough of savory foods like bread, noodles and anything that involved cheese.  It could be more German-American, but hey, I like to eat.

Going Vegan: Day 5

Another day, today it was rough.  More thinking, on again off again.  I really like my sweets and know that I can't have it, because of the strictness of this diet.  So, whenever I think of food, I grab an orange or another bowl of vegetable bean soup.  And for my meal I have some of my vegan lasagna (I took a picture here), which if filling for a bit, but, not always the most tasty.  It seems kind of bland, but I am noticing different flavors popping as I eat these foods, my taste buds are waking up.

I think I've eaten more in the past two days than my last couple weeks.

I am not certain how my body will adjust, but I can say there are some symptoms of being in my late 40's, like when I bend my knees are stiff, my fingernails are bumpy (they say that's signs of arthritis later in life), I tire easily, and my neck and bones crack when I move them.  I started feeling uncomfortable like this for over ten years now.

Coming into day 5 of stripping dairy out of my diet, I'm waking up much easier to get my workouts in.  I can't say I feel profoundly better, as of yet and it probably won't happen overnight for me.  And I have a much bigger appetite, I feel like I'm eating all of the time to fulfill my hunger, or maybe it's just my mind playing tricks on me, looking for that next treat.  Cheese is one of those things that is very tough to avoid.  Emotionally, I see cheese and I want it.  I read that there is highly addictive quality of cheese.  And in reading several experienced vegan veterans, they say that, once the dairy products are gone for good, their body felt renewed.   We'll see...

I think we consume more dairy, out of all of the other animal ‘food’ that I am giving up, without even realizing.  Most of us truly believe that dairy is good for us. I was talking to my daughter about milk, and how it has an odor, that we've been conditioned to drink it since birth.  She brought up a good question, "Why is it that we naturally are designed to drink mother's milk then?"  Something to do a little more reading about to understand this more. In the meantime, I want to change our underlying expectation that diary and meat is 'good for us' and without it we will be sick.

Last year, Dreena Burton, a seasoned Vegan, created a list of 13 reasons to ditch dairy.  I think it's interesting stuff and would like to share.

I keep reading, looking up recipes, preparing lunches for the next week, so that I won't have an excuse to say I'm hungry and there isn't the appropriate foods available.

I keep forging forward, staying the course.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Recipe for today: Roasted fennel soup

This soup filling and is so simple to make.
  • 6 medium potatoes
  • 1 big bulb of fennel
  • half an onion
  • vegetable stock
  • oil and salt
Cut the potatoes into quarters and chop the onion and fennel into big chunks. Spread out on a roasting sheet. Drizzle with oil and season with salt. Roast at 400 for about 35 minutes or until golden and crispy, flipping everything occasionally.
Prepare about 3 cups of stock. Use a blender to blitz the soup to a smooth consistency, add the stock slowly to make the soup as thick or thin as you prefer.
Enjoy with a chunk of crusty bread.
~The Vegan Project

Recipe for the day: Quinoa Black Bean Stew

I saw this delicious recipe for Quinoa Black Bean Stew in Alive Magazine, and knew it would be perfect for an easy weekday meal…and I was right!  It was REALLY simple to throw together, so hearty,  and high in protein and fibre, which satisfied my post workout appetite.
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic clove, minced
  • 2/3 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 – 14 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons minced chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (check ingredients for wheat flour added if you want it to be 100% gluten free)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • juice of 1/2 lime (I juiced the whole lime)
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Shredded vegan cheese (optional)

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and carrot and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in garlic and quinoa and toast quinoa until slightly fragrant, about 4 minutes.
Add broth, black beans, chipotle pepper, cumin, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until quinoa is tender, about 13 minutes.  Stir in lime juice.
Remove half the soup, and carefully puree in food processor or blender until smooth. Return to pan and heat 2 minutes.  Divide among serving bowls and garnish with vegan cheese and cilantro.
~The Vegan Project

I'm going vegan: Body going through Withdrawl

I haven't watched much TV lately, but I felt like taking a break and turned it on.  I happened to turn the television on to Dr. Oz.  He was talking about eating more fruits.  Explaining that fruits will detox your body.  If you switch, you need to wait it out.  Let your body go through the motions of rejecting those bad things that you've been eating all of these years.  The fruits will cleanse your body!

Well, I have to admit, I can tell that my body is going through some sort of withdrawal.  I have had a headache and  my stomach doesn't feel right.  It's ironic as I listened to his guest talk about these symptoms, the exact symptoms I'm experiencing as I cut over to a full produce (fruit, vegetable and grain) diet.

 I'm being very creative and smart about it, as I look for alternative protein solutions to make sure I'm not neglecting my body of those things needed.  Especially, because I'm back to my workout routines and soon will be picking this up as I start training for my half marathon in the spring.  And I also understand it will be critical to add B-12 to my diet, so I am conscientious about this as I look at the types of produce that will give my body B-12.

I also notice, I seem to want to eat so much more. I typically grab some almonds, oranges or bananas for a snack, to fill this void.  I know that some of this is all in my mind, because I've gotten in a routine to eat a snack in the afternoon and lots and lots of coffee during the day.  I am cutting down on my coffee, soon to ween it out all together, and the snack, well, you can guess what it was, and it certainly wasn't anything nutritious.  I am also drinking more water and getting more rest when I need it.  Of course, I have more exercise back into my daily routine.  My body is stiff, and sore, but each day I stretch it out and continue forward.   And, the biggest change is no longer eating as I see candy or chips.  Out goes the candy and salty chips, and in comes the fresh fruit and vegetables and nuts for snacks.

We'll see how these cravings continue as my schedule starts picking up.  Luckily, I started this during a slow time, but it won't be slow for long.

Health Tip: Fragrant potpourri...

Create your own natural fragrant potpourri.  Place 4 cups of dried flower petals in a brown paper bag.  Add 1 tablespoon each of orange peels, ground cloves, allspice, cinnamon, rosemary, and crushed bay leaves.  Add 3 tablespoons of powdered orrisroot and several drops of your favorite essential oils.  Tie up the bag and shake it every few days for three weeks.  

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Recipe for today: Vegan butter bean soup

On the menu tonight.  Vegan Butter Bean Soup
Lima beans, add such a great texture to a soup, being larger and softer than most beans. This simple vegetarian and vegan butter bean soup recipe is made with tomatoes and lots of veggies for a nutritious and soothing meal. Vegetarian butter bean soup recipe courtesy of Bush's® Beans.

1 1/2 cups celery, finely chopped
1 cup carrots, finely chopped
3/4 cup onion, finely chopped
3 tbsp vegetable oil *(vegan, skip this ingrediant)
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
4 cups water
2 16 ounce cans butter beans (lima beans), drained *Or use fresh lima beans and soak overnight
1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 tsp basil 1/2 tsp salt 1/4 tsp pepper

In large pan, cook celery, carrots and onion in oil until soft. Add flour; cook and stir for 1 minute. Gradually add water, stirring until smooth.

Add beans and remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer for 20 to 25 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Health Tip: Oil-based paint...

Oil-based paint, paint remover, paint brush cleaner, paint and varnish stripper, varnish, shellac and polyurethane are highly flammable and can be poisonous.  Contact your local health department or waste disposal company to find out how you can properly dispose of these items.  Don't place them in the garbage for regular pick-up.

I'm going vegan: Day 3

I made my first vegan recipe for dinner last night.  Another interesting encounter, that is for sure.  I learned that just shopping for the ingredients, trying to find noodles without eggs, was very interesting.  I made Vegan Lasagna, with spinach and all sorts of wonderful vegetables.  It tasted different than my usual meat and cottage cheese lasagna.  I have to admit, I wasn't sure how it would taste without any sort of cheese, because cheese is what always made my lasagna.  It must have been good because my hubby ate two pieces.  Either he was "that" hungry or he was really liking the new tasty meal.

We both watched Knife over Fork last evening after our meal and I think it made sense to my husband why I am going vegan.  Many are asking me why, the main reason is because of the reverse effects eating vegetable and whole fruit diet has; without eating anything with eyes that once breathes (as the physician in the documentary states).  Research proves that your cells renew and reverse to more healthy forming cells and cavity walls.  So, I'm trying this out to see if it makes a difference in my workouts, energy and all of my health numbers (i.e. cholestoral, blood pressure, glucose and so on).  It's only day 3, and the main thing I feel is my body is going through a strange withdrawal.  And my mind is too.  Its going to take discipline in all areas of my life.

It wasn't too difficult finding the ingrediants at Whole Foods today, that store makes it a little easier.

The hard part is eating at restaurants.  Since, my main meeting place is out at a restaurant.  This morning was no different, breakfast meeting.  So, I had to ask the waitress a head of time, if they had a fruit-bowl, which they did.  And they had a side of nuts.  The fruit bowl had a variety of fruits, like blueberries, pineapples, melons, strawberries and bananas.  It tasted good and was a large enough bowl to fill me up.

I found out that there is a Vegan restaurant in Oak Park called Munch located in the Logan Park square and the food is delicious.

I'll check it out sometime and write my review.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Recipe for today: Roasted Marinated Vegetables (Vegan)

Since I have decided to go Vegan, I will be posting these recipes with that in mind.

Roasted Marinated Vegetables  - This recipe is from Mizkan

1/3 cup NAKANO® Italian Herb Seasoned Red Wine Vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped
2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 medium red bell peppers
1 medium zucchini
1 medium yellow crookneck squash
1 large yellow onion
1 large eggplant


  • For marinade, combine all ingredients except vegetables in a small bowl; set aside.
  • Cut all vegetables into bite sized pieces – about 1 inch x 1 inch or so.
  • Place in a large bowl or rimmed platter. Drizzle marinade over vegetables, toss to coat, and let stand for 30 minutes.
  • Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Place vegetables in a large oven safe pan, place in oven and cook for 20 minutes.
  • Stir vegetables and cook until soft and slightly brown around the edges – about 10  to 15 minutes more.
  • Serve and enjoy!

I'm going vegan: Day 2

This is harder than I thought, or I didn't think before diving it.

Before my choice to go vegan, only a day ago, I guess you could have called me a very loose vegetarian.  Although, there were times when I liked a good hamburger, so I would cheat a little here and there.  But, typically, when we would get fixings for the grill, we would always pick up chicken for me and the rest of my family would eat hamburgers and brats.    On a regular basis, I ate typically only ate chicken and fish, with eggs and butter and so on.

Today, I went to the coffee house, and I am learning really quick how difficult this will be. Their oatmeal is made with butter and milk and they look at me strange when I ask for Soy for my creamer. *And I forgot there are eggs in noodles, so I have to get special noodles too. Crazy!!!! =S

Thanks to Lori, my friend on Daily Mile, I received some more publications and cookbooks to try:

  • Check out "Eat to Live" by Joel Furman,
  • "Veganomicon," by by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero is a great vegan cookbook full of tasty recipes!, and
  • "The Joy of Vegan Baking" by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau.

So far, I'm doing okay.  I know it will be wise to get blood tests, so that is next on my agenda.  And also to ensure I substitute protein in some way.  I eat nuts, both almonds and pecans, and know this provides protein; however, I will do more research to make sure my diet is balanced.

The challenge far so good, day two.

Health Tip: Jogging in the dark...

If you jog, cycle or walk in the dark, make sure you wear some reflective gear such as a reflective vest, band, cap or jacket.  This will make you more visible to motorists.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

I'm going vegan: Day 1

Against my lifelong approach to eating, I choose to go vegan.  Why?  Because I watched the documentary Forks over Knives and as I watch family members deal with both cancer and heart conditions.
And ..... Several in My family have gotten sick and many, on both sides of the fence, are on meds. There are studies that show eating meat, poultry and other living animals cause more high blood pressure, cholesterol issues, and diabetes. People who go off meat and go vegan reverse the majority of their symptoms and many (studies show) end up no longer having to be on meds. So, for selfish reasons, I want to live a long and healthy life (as much as I can control anyway), so the answer in your words, for 'sustainability' and 'health'

I am doing this, mainly for my health.  It is proven since 1960 that a plant-based diet reverses certain diseases. Doctors suggest that eating a plant-based diet reverses these conditions and enhances cell creation.    I am going to test this concept out, myself.

The first thing I am to do is research.  I have gathered a list of books and documentaries on the subject.

The second thing is to make a doctor appointment, get all of the baseline information about blood pressure, Cholesterol, and so on.  We'll see where my health is and how it improves.

Here is the list that I will be reading through the course of my transition.

Forks Over Knives ?
Processed People (watch special features too – lots more interviews)

The 30-Day Vegan Challenge: The Ultimate Guide to Eating Cleaner, Getting Leaner, and Living Compassionately by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau
Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health by Gene Stone, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn Jr.
21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart: Boost Metabolism, Lower Cholesterol, and Dramatically Improve Your Health by Neal D. Barnard
Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell B. Esselstyn
The Engine 2 Diet: The Texas Firefighter's 28-Day Save-Your-Life Plan that Lowers Cholesterol and Burns Away the Pounds by Rip Esselstyn
The China Study: The Most Comprehensive Study of Nutrition Ever Conducted And the Startling Implications for Diet, Weight Loss, And Long-term Health by T. Colin Campbell, Thomas M. Campbell II, Howard Lyman and John Robbins

I did a little research on the internet about becoming vegan and here are some tidbits.
How does the Vegan Diet work?  While vegetarians eliminate meat, fish, and poultry, vegans take it a step further, excluding all animal products—even dairy and eggs. (Vegans are often animal rights activists who don’t believe in using animal products for any purpose.) So say goodbye to refried beans with lard, margarine made with whey, and anything with gelatin, which comes from animal bones and hooves, too. Fruits, vegetables, leafy greens, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes will be your staples.

Will I lose weight?  Likely. Research shows vegans tend to eat fewer calories, weigh less, and have a lower body mass index (a measure of body fat) than their meat-eating counterparts. If you’re doing it right—i.e., eating lots of fruits, veggies, and whole grains—you’ll likely feel full on fewer calories than you’re allowed each day. With that “calorie deficit” and a little physical activity, you’re bound to shed pounds. How quickly and whether you keep them off is up to you.

 Does it have cardiovascular benefits? It could. An eating pattern heavy on fruits and veggies, but light on saturated fat and salt, is considered the best way to keep cholesterol and blood pressure in check and heart disease at bay.

Now here's the kicker, It's lunch time and I started going through my cupboards and refrigerator and low and behold almost everything in it has milk, cheese, meat, you name it.  Boy, this isn't going to be an easy task.  Especially, when I love mashed potatoes with butter and guess what mashed potatoes are whipped with, you got it milk.  Looks like I'm going to have to do some shopping.  In the meantime, there are a couple of large bags of frozen veggies.  I also looked up lasagne because that is one of my favorite dishes and I know, how I make it anyway, is with a large clump of cheese, cheese curds and parmesan with of course, Italian sausage.  So, I did find a recipe and will shop to try this out.

I told my family that I'm going vegan.  My husband's response, yeah right.  Then he asked what it entailed.  I told him that I can't eat anything living, anything with eyes.  No milk, butter, eggs, or meat.  He couldn't understand why I couldn't eat eggs.  Well, I'm still reading, and so far that's where I'm at.

As far as what I ate, I  cut up a whole grapefruit and fried up some mixed veggies with olive oil.  A very large plate, steaming hot.

Yummy so far.  I'll keep you posted!!!

Stay tuned...

?Items I completed.

Health Tip: Managing Tension...

Often we are tense without realizing it. Check in with yourself to see if you are holding tension anywhere in your body.  Make a conscious effort to breathe deeply and release any tension you may be carrying in your body.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Health Tip: What determines our overall energy levels?

"Our mental and emotional diets determine our overall energy levels, health, and well-being to a far greater extent than most people realize. Every thought and feeling, no matter how big or small, impacts our inner energy reserves."  Doc Childre and Howard Martin, The HeartMath Solution