Thursday, February 28, 2013

Health Tip: Make an appointment with exercise...

One of the best ways to ensure you have time for exercise is to set an appointment in your calendar for the days and times to exercise. Make it a non-negotiable appointment.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Health Tip: Preserve muscle mass...

Much of what we call aging is nothing more than the accumulation of a lifetime of inactivity. Muscles shrink. Body fat increases. The results are an increased risk of diabetes, hypertension and osteoarthritis. By preserving muscle mass we can prevent these problems from occurring. Dr. William Evans Tufts University

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Health Tip: Carefully stretch...

To maintain flexibility, incorporate simple stretches into your daily routine. Stretches should be performed carefully and slowly to avoid pulling muscles or damaging connective tissues in joints.

Recipe for today: Buckwheat & Chickpea Jamaican Jerk Wrap (Vegan)

Buckwheat & Chickpea Wrap (Ref: Yum universe)

2 large pots
Large plate
Large glass bowl
*If you don’t have a steamer, you can place diced sweet potato in a glass casserole dish with 2 tbsp water in the bottom and roast the potatoes at 350F for about 20 minutes until soft.
Sprouted grain tortillas (or collard greens raw or steamed or gluten-free tortillas to make this recipe GF)
Mixed greens
Fresh lentil sprouts (optional)
1-2 tbsp clean gluten-free jerk seasoning from a jar (not a dry rub)*
Creamy Dairy-Free, Soy-Free Ranch Dressing (homemade is best)
2 cups cooked chickpeas (try your best to soak them overnight andprepare them yourself instead of eating the aluminum-soaked ones)
1 1/2 cups cooked buckwheat (here’s how)
2 cups sweet potato, diced and steamed
3-4 large kale leaves, chopped and steamed for 2 minutes, until they wilt.
How to create?  Take your diced sweet potato and steam for 15-20 minutes until soft—a fork should go in easily, but not so much that they are mushy. Once cooked, toss in the bowl with your buckwheat and chickpeas. Add the chopped kale to the steamer for 5 minutes, or until soft.
Add your steamed kale. Stir well.
Now, stir in the jerk seasoning. Start with less and slowly add more as you go, and remember that the ranch dressing is very cooling when paired with the spice.
Lightly steam a sprouted grain tortilla for about 2-5 minutes and lay flat on a large plate. Spoon in some of your jerk veggies and legumes. Add some lentil sprouts and mixed greens. Top with Creamy Dairy-Free, Soy-Free Ranch Dressing and wrap it up!

Quote for today: Resist...

"We suffer when we resist what is."~Cheri Huber

Monday, February 25, 2013

Health Tip: Improve the nutritional quality of your diet...

To improve the nutritional quality of your diet, become more aware of what you eat. Ask yourself before you eat anything: "Will this support my health and well-being or undermine my health?"

Recipe for today: Spinach and Cashew Cheese Ravioli (vegan)

Did you know how easy it is to make your own raviolis? Just shop at your local health food store or Asian market for gluten-free, dairy-free wrappers and fill them up with goodies like spinach and cashew cheese

Large pot
Medium saucepan
What you need...
1 9oz. jar of organic tomato sauce (tomato basil or tomato garlic)
1 pack of organic wonton wrappers*
1 large bunch of organic spinach, de-stemmed
1 cup pure water
2/3 cup soaked raw cashews
2 tbsp Raw Tahini
3 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tbsp cold-pressed virgin coconut oil
1 large clove of garlic
1 tsp fresh squeezed organic lemon juice
1 tsp pink Himalayan or Celtic sea salt
*For a vegan and gluten-free noodle, use the sweet potato noodles from the YumUniverse recipe for Thai Coconut Curry Soup with Sweet Potato Dumplings.   The local Asian Market will usually carry gluten-free and dairy-free wrappers!
Makes: approx. 30-40 raviolis | Preparation Time: 30mins
Reference: YumUniverse recipe

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Health Tip: Slowly eliminate unhealthy foods...

Do you eat a healthy balanced diet? If not, start to slowly eliminate unhealthy foods, such as refined processed foods that are high in fat and sugar and replace them with healthy foods such as raw fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein sources.

Recipe for today: Cinnamon Toast Ice Cream (dairy free)

Apple Cinnamon Toast Ice Cream (dairy free) in 7 ingredients or less.

What you need...

  • 2 13.5 ounce cans full fat coconut mile (roughly 3 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup raw sugar
  • 1 tsp quality vanilla extract
  • 1 pinch xanthan gum (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp cinnamon sugar
  • 1 piece of toast, grated or scraped with a knife (vegan variety)
What you do...

  1. Add coconut milk to a saucepan over medium heat.  Add sugar, stir and bring to a boil.  Continue whisking for 1-2 minutes.
  2. Remove mixture from heat and stir in the vanilla extract, 1/2 tsp cinnamon and pinch xanthan gum.  Wisk to combine.
  3. Transfer to a glass bowl and refrigerate until cooled.  (6-8 hours, covered with plastic wrap after steam was cooled)
  4. Once the mixture is thoroughly chilled, transfer it into a bowl of your ice cream machine and mix according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  5. Once the ice cream is nearly done - 35-40 min - sprinkle in half of the cinnamon sugar and toast flecks.
  6. When the ice cream machine stops, transfer to a freezer-safe container and sprinkle in the rest of the cinnamon sugar and toast flecks, swirling with a knife to slightly incorporate.
  7. You can eat it as is, creamy or place in freezer to harden.  (can keep for 1 week)  
  8. Thaw 10-15 minutes before serving.
  9. Sprinkle fresh cut apples on top of your ice cream.
Nutrition information..

  • Serving Size: 1 dish 
  • Calories: 269 fat
  • Fat: 17 g 
  • Sat fat: 19 g
  • Carbohydrates: 23 g
  • Sugar: 22 g
  • Fiber: 5 g

Serves 6

Saturday, February 23, 2013

I'm going vegan: Sloppy diet to proactive vegan diet

Well, well, well!  Surprise to me!

My health insurance sent me a new wellness incentive program to enroll in. All I had to do is get biometric measurements and answer a survey online and I get cash back. The test included BMI, glucose, cholesterol and blood pressure and of course weight height and other misc. things.

What a great program!! 

I'm positive about the program, probably because I have positive results.  I discovered,with this "Epic" program (which integrates healthcare, insurance and patient access), that all of my records are incorporated into the healthcare system in my area and I can go on the web portal and manage my health in a proactive manner.  The results were great.  The only item that was a smidge over average was glucose, which is my sugar balance.  So, I can go in and they will have tips on ways to eat foods to reduce the sugar levels in my diet.

I can't wait to compare my numbers from two years ago, to now.  See the before and after affect from sloppy diet to proactive vegan diet.

I'm well on my way to a healthier new year.   For not only me, but my family as well.  Everything I eat, they eat and are trying.  I've had some pretty healthy and delicious meals, like pizza, chili, stir fry, and even something as simple as oatmeal with fresh fruits and soy milk.

Everything tastes flavorful and I feel tremendously better.

I am happier than ever to see how taking a pro-active vegan diet approach has changed my numbers tremendously.

Health Tip: Mood improves after exercise...

A Northern Arizona University study found that mood improves and fatigue reduces after only 10 minutes of exercise. If you don't have time for a 20-30 minute workout, start your day and end your day with a 10 or 15 minute workout.

Recipe for today: Blueberry Pie Chia Pudding (vegan)

Blueberry Pie Chia Pudding (vegan)

It’s EFA, fiber and antioxidant-rich, naturally sweetened and comforting like a hug.

Large glass bowl
Small skillet or
Baking sheet and unbleached parchment
Try to buy everything organic. Here’s why.
Handful of pecans*
1/2 cup chia seeds
2 1/2 cups pure water
1/4 cup cashews, soaked 2-4 hours (here’s why/how)
1/4 cup sunflower seeds, soaked 4-6 hours (here’s why/how)
1 tbsp grade B maple syrup
1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch ground cardamom (optional)
Pinch ground cinnamon (optional)
Teeny pinch salt
Blueberry Sauce
1 cup blueberries
1/4 cup pure water
1 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp fresh lemon juice
Pinch fine ground sea salt
*This recipe calls for toasting pecans which neutralizes some of the enzyme inhibitors, but brings out great flavor. If you have trouble digesting nuts, you may want to soak them first for 8 hours, let them dry, then toast for optimal assimilation.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Health Tip: Slight fitness better than no fitness...

According to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, a slight fitness level is better than no fitness level. The more physically fit you are the lower your risk of dying from a heart attack.

Health Tip: Quit Smoking ...

If you are interested in quitting smoking, you will find it helpful to avoid stimulants such as coffee, tea, alcohol and chocolate. These stimulants will increase your cravings for cigarettes. Instead drink plenty of water, fresh squeezed juices and caffeine free herbal tea.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Health Tip: Lights low...

Harvard researchers have found that low light levels stimulate the pineal gland to secrete melatonin. Keeping the lights low for a few hours before bedtime can help you fall asleep easily.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Health Tip: Protect your ears...

Your ears are always open to sound and are vulnerable to damage from sudden or persistent loud noise. To protect your ears, wear ear protectors or ear plugs when exposed to loud noises.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Health Tip: Learn something new...

To keep your mind sharp and memory intact as you age, find ways to challenge your mind. Play stimulating games, take up a new hobby, learn something new or change your daily routine.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Health Tip: Improve your mood...

To improve your mood, reduce stress and gain health, smile and laugh often. As you laugh your brain will release endorphins which will make you feel good.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Recipe for today: Harvest Stuffed Acorn Squash Recipe (Vegan)

  • 4 acorn squash, halved lengthwise; seeds and membrane removed
  • 1 cup organic brown rice and 1/2 cup wild rice 
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 TBSP grape oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3/4 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup pecans, coarsely chopped (you may use any nut of your preference)
  • 1/2 cup cranberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2-1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon each ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 375º F.

2. Cook both varieties of rice together in broth or water with ¼ teaspoon of salt (omit salt if broth is already salted).

3. Meanwhile, place squash halves, cut side down, into a large shallow baking dish or cookie sheet (you may need two). Bake for 30 minutes.

4. In a skillet, sauté onion in olive oil until it becomes transparent. Add the celery and sauté a couple of minutes. Remove from heat. Using a large mixing bowl, blend this mixture together with the cooked rice, cranberries, nuts, apricots, and remaining seasonings.

5. When done, remove the partially baked squash from the oven. Spoon out some of the cooked squash and mix it with the rest of the ingredients. Be sure to scrape only a little; you want to leave squash in the shells, too.

6. Press the rice mixture into each squash cavity, mounding rice as much as possible. (Depending on how large the squash are, you may end up with some leftover rice mixture, which makes a great side dish by itself.)

7. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes or until squash flesh is thoroughly tender.

* Serves 8

Note: Don't discard the nutritious squash seeds. Instead, rinse the seeds and remove the membrane. Pat dry. Spray a baking sheet with olive oil and spread the seeds evenly on the sheet. Spray seeds lightly with olive oil or with mix with Earth Balance and sprinkle with sea salt or any other favorite seasoning (optional). Bake the seeds in a 375º F. oven for about 15 minutes, or until they're golden brown. Enjoy immediately as a warm snack, or store them in an airtight container for up to one week.

Health Tip: Color and energy...

You can easily change the energy in your home by adding some color. Different colors will bring different energy into your rooms.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Going Vegan: Day 47... It's working, I'm taking a pro-active approach...

Today I went back to the gym after not have a membership since August of last year.  What a great feeling to be back on good equipment with variety!  I felt invigorated!

They have a scale there, and I figured I'd step on it to see where I was at after going vegan.  Granted, I haven't weighed myself since last August, but know at that time I was over 10 pounds my height / weight ratio and since then, I am sure I gained a lot of weight since my clothes were getting pretty tight.

Since I've made this new shift in eating and promising to workout regularly, I am now happy to say, I have lost over 10 pounds and my clothes are fitting better, in some cases even looser.  Wow!  What a difference! And I'm not even trying.  All I do is do a little workout in the morning at least 5 days a week and eat a plant-based diet.  And I am eating a lot every day!!!  I am eating a lot of "very healthy" foods too!

I feel so great after I stepped on that scale, just to know that something is happening without me even controlling it.

Then I have a wonderful day catching up on grocery shopping and spending time chit-chatting with my hubby! Grocery shopping is SO much MORE fun now that we've been eating healthier foods, much more experiential and colorful foods to pick from! Our kitchen is stuffed full of fruits, veggies and spices!

Made my first "plant-based" pizza. Used rice flour for the pizza dough, with toppers that included spinach, artichokes, almond slivers, black olives, kumato brown tomatoes, fresh meat mushrooms and spices! Delish!!!!

I am taking a pro-active approach to eating healthy and look at the results!

I'm a happy lady today!

Health Tip: Rest your eyes.

If you spend a lot of time working on the computer, rest your eyes approximately every 20 minutes. Just look away from your computer screen for a minute or two.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Recipe for today: Amaranth Hemp Protein Poppers (vegan)

I wanna make these!!!!
Inspired by Brendan Brazier’s use of popped amaranth grain in some of his Thrive recipes, I created this bite-sized protein popper which is great for kids and people on-the-go. Popped amaranth (here‘s how) is similar in smell and taste to popcorn, yet micro-adorable in size. It pairs deliciously with buttery nuts and sweet banana. You can store poppers in an airtight glass container in your refrigerator, freezer or you can dehydrate them and keep them in your pantry. Amaranth Hemp Protein Poppers are a great snack to keep with you in your kitchen, office, handbag or car so when hunger hits, you have a healthy option ready for you.
Makes: approx: 28-30 poppers  |  Preparation Time: 1hr |  Optional Dehydration Time: 6-8hrs
Food Processor
Dehydrator (optional)
Try to buy everything organic. Here’s why.
Preferably all nuts have been previously soaked and dehydrated. This recipe will work with soaked, non-dehydrated nuts, but know that the texture will be less crunchy. You can always use raw unsoaked nuts too, but the enzyme inhibitors will still be on the nuts if they are not soaked and they make digestion and assimilation difficult.
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup raw pecans
1/4 cup raw almonds
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 organic banana
2 tbsp grade B maple syrup (optional for extra sweetness. Can substitute raw yacon syrup or raw honey to taste.)
2 soaked Medjool dates, pitted
1/4 cup organic hemp seeds
1/2 cup amaranth
Try these optional add-ins
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp cardamom
Pinch cayenne pepper
Let’s Get Started:
Place sunflower seeds, pecans, almonds and salt in the food processor and pulse until chopped (below right). Don’t over process, you want to maintain chunks of nuts. Place nut mix in a large bowl and set aside.
Let’s have some fun now. I thinpopping amaranth grain is one of the cutest kitchen activities one can participate in. Place your best skillet on high heat and when a drop of water disappears immediately when dropped in, your skillet is ready. Pop amaranth by placing 1 tablespoon of grain in at a time, stirring constantly for about 15 seconds until seeds pop. After they pop, transfer to a bowl and add the next tablespoon of amaranth to the skillet until you get 1 cup of popped amaranth.
Now, I have read that a skillet lightly greased in coconut oil also works well, but my experience has been that an un-greased skillet on high heat yields great results. So I think it depends on the pan and the range you are cooking with. Don’t be discouraged if the grains don’t pop right away, just adjust the temperature until you find the combination that works in your kitchen.
Once all your amaranth is popped, place in a shallow bowl and set aside. Now let’s create a sweet banana date paste to bind our poppers. In the blender, place banana, dates and maple syrup and mix until smooth.
Pour paste into the large bowl with the nuts and mix well. Fold in your hemp seeds.
Using a small spoon, scoop your banana nut and hemp mixture into your popped amaranth. Coat your dollop with popped amaranth, roll in your hand until you have a fully coated ball.
Continue until you have used all of your mixture and popped amaranth.
Store poppers in an airtight glass container in your refrigerator, freezer or you can dehydrate them and keep them in your pantry. If you would like to extend the shelf life of this snack, then dehydrate your poppers for about 6-8 hrs.
- – -

Health Tip: Frozen Treat...

A simple delicious frozen treat is to blend 2 cups of berries and 4 oranges, then pour mixture into ice cube trays. Once partially frozen, insert a popsicle stick and freeze. This is a tasty nutritious frozen snack.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Health Tip: TV...

Each hour a child watches TV raises his risk of obesity by 12%. Each hour of physical activity lowers a child's risk of obesity by 10%.

Passionate about something?

Passionate about something? Sometimes, there are ways to turn that into a career or work it into an existing opportunity. You just have to get creative and/or daring.

Here’s some interesting career advice from Steve Levitt, author of Freakonomics: “Make sure that whatever you love doing is something other people don’t love to do.” Steve makes a practical point (what else could we expect from an economist?) But even if you’re passionate about something that plenty of people love, there are ways to turn it into a career or work it into an existing opportunity. You just have to get creative and/or daring. Here are a few thoughts to get you started:
Do Your Homework
Is there a market for your hobby? Is anyone else making a living doing whatever it is that you love? (Emphasis on making a living.) Talk to some of those folks, or do a little research to see if you can produce something commercially viable. Find out what it takes. If you love making jewelry, take an adult ed course on getting started on Etsy. If you love animals, how many dog walkers are in your area? Is this something you want to be fully devoted to, or do you want to supplement existing income? Identify what you want to be doing, the customers, and where you’ll find them. This can help you evaluate the next step!
Start a Business
If you’ve done your research and you know your homemade jam or graphic designs have a market, make abusiness plan. Even if you’re looking to make it a part-time thing, it helps to be organized about taking your hobby to the next level. You’ll need to consider finances, supplies, and the value of your labor. Don’t worry! You don’t have to be an MBA to plan this out. The Small Business Administration has great free guidance, and there are plenty of community classes and small business experts who can advise you, especially in a big city. Google or Yelp can help you find one, or try your university’s alumni network for a referral.
Find an Outlet or Add to an Existing Role
If you’re serious about integrating a passion professionally, you may want to look for an entry level job or internship that incorporates elements of that hobby. For example, if you love entertaining, why not look into trade show planning or event marketing. Similarly, you could volunteer your skills if they line up with something your company needs, even if it’s outside your typical role. Love sports? Start a company softball team. Want to paint? We have a mural in our office that was painted by an associate! Who knows — if you ask, maybe what you love to do could become a full-fledged paid responsibility.
Thought About Teaching?
If you are passionate about something and want to incorporate it into your livelihood, you might consider teaching it if you have the skill. Community education programs and summer camps often need skilled hobbyists who have a knack for instruction. Or, start small by instructing friends and trying to build a referral base for your own classes. Finally, try making some YouTube videos or a blog. You might not make money to start, but if your enthusiasm and skill line up with the market, it just might follow!

Reference: ConnectEDU co.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Health Tip: Meditation...

Daily meditation has been shown to promote a feeling of inner peace. Meditating for as little as 15 minutes per day will promote relaxation and reduce stress.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Recipe for today: Vegan Pumpkin Walnut Bread

Vegan Pumpkin Walnut Bread (makes 2 loaves)  (reference: Mary McDougall’s recipe)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour ( or whole wheat flour… or just use only all-purpose flour)
  • 2 cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 1/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cloves
  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree, or just under two cups
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Place a rack in the center of the oven.  Grease and flour two loaf pans (mine are 8x4x2) and set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together flours, sugars, baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices.
In a medium bowl, carefully whisk together pumpkin puree, oil, maple syrup and water.
Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and use a spatula to fold all of the ingredients together.  Make sure to scrape the bottom of the bowl well, finding any stray flour bits to mix in.  Fold in most of the chopped walnuts, reserving some to sprinkle on top of the batter once in the pan.
Divide the dough between the two greased pans and sprinkle with a few walnut pieces.  Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean.  Remove from the oven.  Let rest in the pans for 20 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack.
Serve warm.  Maybe even wrap one loaf up in plastic wrap and store in the freezer for future munching.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Health Tip: Stress impacts...

Cortisol is a hormone released when you experience stress. Elevated cortisol levels are directly related to accelerated signs of aging, skin disorders, memory loss, body fluid retention and high blood pressure.

Recipe for today: Pumpkin Walnut Muffins (Vegan)

At my house, they call me the "giant" muffin lady.  Because I use giant muffin tins to make dozens of muffins at a time. Enough so that I can package them up and pop them in the freezer for the days a head.  I had a major craving for muffins.  I also have a sweet tooth.  And since I have chosen the plant-based diet, I haven't been able to eat my favorite sweet treats.  (*This is Mary's picture, I will repost of picture of my own once mine are ready).

I found this wonderful recipe, perfect for this season.  (reference: Mary McDougall’s recipe)

Pumpkin Walnut Muffins (vegan)


  • 2 teaspoons Ener-G Egg Replacer
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup Sunsweet Lighter Bake (see note below)
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup soy milk (see note below)


  1. Have ready a 12-cup standard-size silicone muffin pan or line a muffin pan with liners. (Susan’s note: I used 15 silicone muffin liners.)
  2. Preheat the oven to 375ºF with a rack in the lower third of the oven. Whisk the Egg Replacer with 1/4 cup warm water in a small bowl until frothy, then set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the whole wheat and all-purpose flours, brown sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, nutmeg, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the walnuts and raisins.
  4. In a separate bowl, stir together the pumpkin, Lighter Bake (or apple sauce), molasses, and soy milk until no lumps remain. Add the reserved Egg Replacer. Stir this mixture into the flour mixture just until combined.
  5. Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups and bake for 30 minutes, or until they are golden and a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set the pan on a rack to cool completely before removing the muffins from the pans.

Susan’s Notes

Since Lighter Bake is not available in my area, I used natural apple sauce, which is less sweet but still resulted in delicious muffins.
If you’d like to make them without the walnuts, you can subtract about 25 calories and 2.5 grams of fat per muffin. You can also substitute any non-dairy milk for the soy milk.
Preparation time: 20 minute(s) | Cooking time: 30 minute(s)
Number of servings (yield): 12-15 muffins

Nutrition Facts

Nutrition (1/15th of recipe, using apple sauce): 142 calories, 25 calories from fat, 3g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 166.3mg sodium, 215.1mg potassium, 27.8g carbohydrates, 2.3g fiber, 12.8g sugar, 2.8g protein, 4.1 points. (Nutritional data is courtesy of this website; any mistakes are mine!–SV)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Going Vegan: Day 41

It's hard to believe it's been over a month since I chose to take the plant-based food diet.  I'm still on the course and doing quite well.

What is going well with my plant-based diet?  I'm feeling great, have more energy, eat a lot more and what I eat is always healthy.  I am very creative in the kitchen when I cook.  My pallet is changing, to a simpler easy to please and bigger range of colour and selection.  I am starting to explore ways to combine spices and learn about snack-foods like brownies, muffins, cookies and flavor breads.  With valentines day around the corner, I'm starting to look at chocolate options as well, because my favorite treat is homemade turtle truffles and I am considering the ingredients.  I don't think about food during the day, because I bring my food along, have it prepared a head of time, so I'm always eating before I get hungry.  I am "never" tired like I was before I chose this route.

What are the obstacles with my plant-based diet?  I am a professional and there are times when I meet people for breakfast or lunch and I find myself running into difficult choice situations, especially when we meet at a local pub.  Not much of a plant-based selection there.  I end up eating some bland salad with a side of vinegar red wine dressing that isn't very tasty.  I make it through those situations.  Other places are much more accommodating.  Like we have plans to go to the fireside in the summer, and I mentioned my diet and they are making a special dish for me to enjoy at the meal.  Or the owner at Cranberry Creek, went out of his way to provide ideas around his menu, I had the most tasty portabella panini and a side of broccoli. He even served my dish himself.  I smiled and was very thankful for the extra effort!!  Sometimes I miss my tasty treats, like buttered popcorn and cheese.  But, I am really learning a lot of great things I can substitute as "toppers" on my dishes and they add more texture, are more tasty and more nutritious.  Eating out is something that is an issue.  The second thing that is a problem is traveling, or attending a conference because a lot of times they don't consider plant-based eaters.  They consider vegetarians, but this isn't the same type of eater.

Today, I started to think about the enriched foods that I am eating.  I want to make sure I have a balanced diet, so I looked up the required daily foods for a plan-based diet. 

I found this modified pyramid for vegan

FIGURE 1 Modified food guide pyramid for lactovegetarians and vegans.

Here are the daily requirements:
Vegetarian Food GroupsInclude at Least 8 servings per day of the calcium-rich foods in this column when you make you choices from the Vegetarian Food Groups
6 or more servings per day

A serving is 1/2 cup cooked cereal, pasta, rice or other grain, 1 ounce ready-to-eat cereal, 1 slice bread.
Calcium-fortified cereal
5 or more servings per day.

A serving is 1/2 cup cooked beans, tofu, tempeh, 1/4 cup nuts, 1 ounce mock meat, 2 tbsp nut or seed butter, 1/2 cup fortified soymilk.
Fortified soymilk, tempeh, calcium-set tofu, almonds or almond butter, tahini, soybeans, soynuts.
4 or more servings per day.

A serving is 1/2 cup cooked vegetable, 1 cup raw vegetable, 1/2 cup vegetable juice.
Bok choy, broccoli, collards, Chinese cabbage, kale, mustard greens, okra, calcium-fortified tomato juice.
2 or more servings per day.

A serving is 1 medium fresh fruit, 1/2 cup cooked or cut-up fruit, 1/2 cup fruit juice, 1/4 cup dried fruit.
Calcium fortified fruit juice, dried figs.
2 servings per day.

A serving is 1 tsp vegetable oil or soft margarine
Include one serving of one food from the following list each day to meet needs for essential fats:
1 tsp flax seed oil
1 tbsp ground flax seed
4 tsp canola oil

The food guide does not ensure that you will get enough vitamin B12, iodine, and vitamin D. So..
  • Make sure that your food choices include:
    • 2-3 servings per day or foods fortified with vitamin B12 OR
    • A daily chewable B12 supplement providing at least 10 micrograms OR
    • A weekly chewable supplement providing 2,000 micrograms.
  • Be sure you are also getting 5 micrograms per day of vitamin D through supplements or fortified foods.
  • Use iodized salt on your food (moderately, of course).
All of this is something for me to consider.  Even if I was eating a regular diet, I might consider looking at the food pyramid.  I understand that being deficient in B-12 is not a pretty sight.  Athletes and runners have to watch out for this especially, because we deplete our body by doing so much running, and other aerobic type exercise.  I still consider reaching out to a nutritionist, to baseline my blood.  I have had a blood and body scan several times, and have those results.  The numbers, which, by the way, aren't very nice looking.  I will do this to compare and baseline numbers.  
This is where I'm at, it's all food for thought.  

My writing committment: In following Susan Sontag's writing resolution

In following Susan Sontag's writing resolution in 1977, for me to add to my collection of writing will modify:
Starting tomorrow — if not today:
I will get up every morning no later than 3:30  (Can break this rule once a week.) to get all of my healthy practices in before my busy day.
I will have lunch only with my homemade plant-based diet.
I will write in my Notebook every day.  Probably evening hours since my days are currently packed  (Model: Lichtenberg’s Waste Books.)
I will take scrupulous notes in my traveling notebook as the ideas occur to me.
I will tell people not to call in the morning, or not answer the phone.
I will try to confine my reading to the evening. (I read too much — as an escape from writing.)
I will answer letters (blog posts and social media) once a week. (Friday's? — Let's see how this goes for me)
Here's another example from Benjamin Franklin's writing plan.

Recipe for today: Vegan brawnies

Let them eat brownies! You can feel good about munching on these raw brownies, made with nuts and dates… and don’t pass on making the frosting, it’s what makes these brownies especially delicious. These brownies took 1st prize in Everyday Health's gluten-free recipe contest.
Ingredients (9-12 brawnies)
    • 1 cup raw almonds (see note)
    • 1/4 cup raw cashews (see note)
    • 1/2 cup raw walnuts (see note)
    • 1 3/4 cups (packed) pitted medjool dates (see note)
    • 1/4 cup dried organic pitted cherries (OR more dates, ie can use 2 cups dates in whole – omit almond extract if not using cherries)
    • 1/3 cup raw cocoa powder (or regular cocoa if you prefer)
    • 1 vanilla bean (see note)
    • 1/4 tsp sea salt
    • 1/2 tsp almond extract (optional)
    • 1/2 cup coconut butter (not coconut oil; I use Artisana coconut butter - can substitute raw nut butter)
    • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup (or raw agave nectar for pure raw version)
    • 2 tbsp raw cocoa powder (or regular if you prefer)
    • pinch sea salt
    • In a food processor, first add almonds and cashews and process until very fine (the almonds are the hardest, and need to be worked until crumbly). Let them process for a minute or two until quite fine. Then add walnuts, dates and cherries and pulse/process until mixture is quite crumbly, but not yet coming together. Then, add cocoa powder, salt, and almond extract, and pulse through. With a sharp tip knife, slice the vanilla bean down the outer side to open up the bean. Using a blunt (butter) knife, scrape out all the tiny seeds from the bean on both sides, and add them to the processor (or add vanilla extract). Process again, along with the almond extract if using. Process until the mixture comes together. The mixture should be sticky and hold together when pressed with your fingers. You don’t want to overmix (to prevent the nuts from releasing their oils, see note), but the mixture does need to hold and be sticky. If it’s not doing so, add a few drops of water, as your dates might be dry.
    • Once you have a good, sticky mixture that will hold together, remove it from the processor and press into a brownie pan (8” x 8”) lined with parchment paper. Use a small piece of the parchment to help press and flatten the mixture evenly into the pan. Press it firmly to ensure the mixture holds.
    • For the frosting, in a mini-food processor, first combine the coconut butter and agave nectar until smooth. Then add the cocoa powder and salt, and pulse through again until just combined. Do not overprocess or the frosting will begin to separate with the heat of the churning and become oily. (If you don’t have a mini-processor, you can follow the same steps stirring by hand in a bowl).
    • Smooth frosting over base, and refrigerate for an hour or more until set. Cut into squares and serve! You can also freeze the squares after cutting, and enjoy them out of the freezer!
    • A combination of ¾ cup almonds and ½ cup cashews also works well, and I have also made these with only almonds and they still work beautifully - you just need to be sure to process the almonds long enough to become fine/powdery before moving on with dates, etc.
    • You can substitute 1 – 1 ½ tsp of pure vanilla extract for the vanilla bean seeds.
    • If your dates are on the dry side, you can add 1-2 tbsp of water to the mixture to help assist the pureeing and the mixture easily coming together.
    • If you process the mixture too long, the heat generated by the food processor will bring the oils out of the nuts. If this happens, the brownies won’t be ruined necessarily, but they will have an oily appearance and be oily to the touch. So, process minimally to begin, rather than over processing the nuts at the outset.

    Health Tip: Dancing...

    Dancing is not only great exercise it can help beat the blues. Dancing allows for physical self-expression and fun.

    Recipe for today: Delicious CLEAN cookies...

    Delicious CLEAN cookies! Only a few ingredients! 

    1 cup quick oats, 
    1/2 can pure pumpkin, 
    1/8 cup flour, 
    2 tbsp cinnamon, and 
    a handful of cranberries or raisins! 

    Mix all ingredients together and bake for 10 mins at 375 degrees! 

    These cookies are not only super easy to make but healthy too!

    Saturday, February 9, 2013

    #Recipe for today: Scott's Chocolate Adzuki Bars (For #Runners #Plant-based)

    Scott's Chocolate #Adzuki Bars
    Made from the most digestible of beans, these moist bars taste better than their ingredients sound. I even eat them while running.
    1/2 teaspoon coconut oil
    1 15-ounce can adzuki beans, drained
    1 medium overripe banana
    1/2 cup almond or rice milk
    1/2 cup light coconut milk
    1/2 cup barley flour
    1/4 cup rice flour
    6 tablespoons cocoa powder
    3 tablespoons maple syrup
    1 teaspoon vanilla extract
    1/2 teaspoon sea salt
    1/3 cup goji berries, currants, or raisins
    1/2 cup nondairy chocolate chips [optional]
    Preheat oven to 400° F. Grease a 9-inch square pan with coconut oil. Blend beans and banana with almond and coconut milk until smooth and creamy. Add the flours, cocoa, syrup, vanilla, and salt, processing until thoroughly mixed. Stir in dried fruit. Pour mixture into pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips on top. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, until firm. When cool, cut into squares. Makes 16 bars.

    Friday, February 8, 2013

    Recipe for today: Vegan Gingersnap Cookies

    I had a craving for gingersnap cookies,  these would make for a delicious dessert or for a fun gift. 

    • 3/4 cup sugar *not white
    • 1/3 cup blackstrap molasses (or regular molasses is fine too)
    • 1/2 cup canola oil
    • 3 tablespoons nondairy milk
    • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour or use half all-purpose flour and half whole wheat pastry flour
    • 3 rounded teaspoons ground ginger
    • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • raw sugar (optional for decoration)
    • yields about 2 dozen cookies 
    Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly grease two baking sheets or line them with parchment paper.

    In a large bowl, beat together sugar, molasses, oil, nondairy milk, and vanilla. In a separate mixing bowl sift together flour, ginger, nutmeg, baking soda, and salt. Fold the dry mixture into the wet to form a firm dough. You may need to add a few more tablespoons of flour if dough is not firm. Mine was still a bit moist after I added a little extra flour, but they turned out fine!
    Scoop dough by the tablespoon, moisten hands, and roll into a ball. Place dough about 3 inches apart on baking sheets. Sprinkle with sugar (optional). Bake for 12 minutes until edges start to brown. Let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to complete cooling. Enjoy!

    Thursday, February 7, 2013

    Recipe for today: Dairy-Free Milk...(vegan)

    Dairy-Free Milk  
    You can use any of the following to create creamy, delicious, nutrient-rich non-dairy milks (try combinations, too).

    Recipe is gluten-free and vegan. Just make sure if preparing oat milk, that you use gluten-free oats, and that your vanilla extract and cocoa are gluten-free.
    Nut milk bag or cheesecloth*
    Recycled glass jars for storage

    1/2 cup raw almonds
    2 cups pure water (use coconut water for extra sweetness and electrolytes)
    Soak time: 8-12 hours
    Steps: prepare either soaked almonds (8-12 hours) or toasted almonds (7 minutes at 350°F). Blend together and strain through cheesecloth. Serve chilled, room temp or warm.
    Taste/consistency: toasted is a rich almond flavor and raw is a creamy, neutral flavor that almost everyone loves. This is a tasty non-dairy milk for beginners as it is delish without sweetening and can be enjoyed on its own.
    Add-ins: 1/4 tsp vanilla extract, 2 tsp raw wild-harvested honey or grade B maple syrup and pinch of fine ground sea salt.
    Make it fancy: add cardamom and cocoa.
    Nutritional bennies: almonds are some of the most alkalizing nuts around, and they have cholesterol lowering effects. They’re also loaded with antioxidant powerful vitamin E, immune-supporting magnesium and the electrolyte potassium, too.
    Now, you can sweeten to taste, or blend/stir in any of the add-in suggestions below. I recommend trying these milks unsweetened first, so you can detect the differences in taste to see what you like best, and if you need any sweetener at all
    Ingredients: See above, but try to buy everything organic.
    Basic steps for all (unless otherwise specified):  Soak: soaking is necessary to release enzyme inhibitors and improve nutrient digestion/assimilation. Toasting does help, too (about 70%), while bringing out a rich, “toasty” flavor for milks. I have indicated below, what to do with particular ingredients, what they taste like, how long to soak for each and what add-ins would take these milks to the next level of deliciousness. Do not use your soak water for milk, all of your enzyme inhibitors are in here, so use fresh water.
    Or Toast: while soaking is optimal from a nutrition standpoint, toasting brings out incredible flavor. When toasting any ingredients, use raw,unsoaked ingredients to toast. The dryness is what brings out that toasted flavor, and you won’t get that with pre-soaked, hydrated ingredients.
    Rinse: rinse soaked ingredients well.

    Monday, February 4, 2013

    Recipe for today: Valenine Holiday Shortbread Cookie

    Valentine Shortbread Cookie!!!

    A dairy-free, gluten-free sugar cookie recipe for you on Valentine’s Day. Just so you know I got this awesome recipe from YUMUniverse 

    What you need...

    • Juicer (or visit your local juice shop and bring them a beet to juice for you, or blend the beet with a bit of water and strain with cheesecloth)
    • Sifter
    • Large glass bowl
    • 1-2 medium glass bowls
    • Rolling pin or large, smooth, sturdy glass
    • Unbleached parchment paper
    • Baking sheet
    • Cookie cutters in multiple heart shapes (optional, and you can stick with one size, too)

    Try to buy everything organic. 

    • 1/4 cup brown rice flour
    • 1/2 cup + 2 tbsp oat flour
    • 1 tsp arrowroot
    • 1/8 tsp fine ground sea salt
    • 1/8 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
    • 2 tbsp unrefined, virgin coconut oil
    • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
    • 1/4 cup vegan powdered sugar (or sucanat processed in coffee grinder)
    • 2 tbsp beet juice

    What you do...
    Juice your beet. If you don’t have a juicer, you can blend your beet in a high powered blender and squeeze the pulp through a cheesecloth to get some fresh juice. If you live near a shop that sells fresh juices and smoothies, call and see if they have beet juice, or if they will juice a beet for you if you bring one in. Set juice aside.

    Sift together almost all of the dry ingredients—everything except 2 tbsp of oat flour, vanilla extract and coconut oil.

    Now, in a small bowl, cream together coconut oil and vanilla extract.

    Add coconut oil mixture to dry ingredients and get in there with your hands and work the dough together until you form a ball. Split dough in half and place one half in a bowl and set aside.
    In your remaining half, place 2 tbsp beet juice and 2 tbsp oat flour.

    With your hands, work the dough together until well mixed.

    At first it may be sticky, but keep working, the flour will soak up the juice. Roll into a ball and set aside.

    Preheat oven to 350°F.

    Lay out a baking sheet-sized piece of parchment paper. Place a ball of dough on top. Then place another piece of baking sheet-sized parchment on top of your dough and roll it out. The parchment not only minimizes cleanup (no red, sticky rolling pin), it makes dough rolling a breeze. And you can use the parchment to line the baking sheets for your cookies.

    Peel back top piece of parchment, grab your cookie cutters and go to town.

    Repeat these steps with your white dough as well.

    If it’s too warm in your kitchen, it may be difficult to take a butter knife or an offset spatula to lift out cookie shapes onto the baking sheet. Warm kitchens make for stickier dough. My favorite trick is to slide the parchment with pre-cut shapes onto a baking sheet and pop it in the freezer for about 1-2 minutes (no longer). Then you can easily separate the dough scraps from shapes. Those scraps will soften when you work them into a ball again with your hands, and the cookie shapes lift out easily without sticking to, or pulling from, your tools.

    Fill your cookie sheet with loveliness.

    Bake for 8 minutes, no longer or they will brown too much.

    Be creative with your assembly. Use letter-forms to spell out “I Love YU”…

    Layer and cut out shapes…
    Store cookies in a cool, dark place in your kitchen. I tend to play it safe and keep them in the fridge —letting them warm to room temperature before serving.

    Reference: Yum Universe

    Health Tip: You and your partner ever changing...

    We put too much pressure on our intimate relationships. Instead, realize that you and your partner are both changing all the time and keep the communication wide open between you.

    *Ref: Martha Beck 

    Health Tip: Total Wellness...

    "The concept of total wellness recognizes that our every thought, word and behavior affects our greater health and well-being. And we, in turn, are affected not only emotionally but also physically and spiritually." Greg Anderson

    Sunday, February 3, 2013

    Health Tip: Shoes every other day...

    If you exercise daily, invest in two pairs of different athletic shoes. Alternate the shoes every other day. Over time, this slight change can prevent injuries.

    Saturday, February 2, 2013

    Recipe for Today: Kim's Cajun Tofu Chili (vegan style)

    Kim's Cajun Tofu Chili (vegan style)

    I'm very happy to say, I actually created this recipe from scratch.  First chili recipe and my family loves it!

    What you need...
    • 1 cup Garbanzo beans
    • 1 cup Great Northern beans
    • 1 cup Pinto beans
    • 1 cup Kidney beans
    • 6 cups water
    • 4 oz stiff tofu
    • 6 x 12 oz cans of pinapple
    • 2-16 oz can of Diced Tomatoes
    • 4 large fresh tomatoes
    • 6-8 Fresh Mushrooms
    • 4 oz. black olives
    • 4 stalks Celery
    • Cajun Seasoning (see Cajun Season recipe on previous blog)
    • 1-2 Tblsp chopped garlic
    • Grape Seed oil
    What you do...
    Soak and simmer Garbanzo beans, Great Northern beans, Pinto beans and Kidney beans in water 1 hour.  Dice and Trim tofu, fresh tomatoes, fresh mushrooms, celery.
    Sautee garlic in oil, add mushrooms and tofu.
    In large pot combine diced tomatoes, (fresh and canned), black olives, celery and pineapple.  Add Cajun season (as you taste).  Simmer for 1 1/2 hours.
    Combine beans, tomato mixture, tofu and mushrooms.
    Cook for 1-2 hours.