Archive for the ‘grocery store products’ Category

What to do with produce before it goes bad

There are few things I hate more than buying a bunch of fruits and vegetables  and finding them pushed into the back of the refrigerator 2 weeks later rotting and turning to mush.  Many of my most well-intentioned eating plans have ended just that way.  Here are a few tips for keeping up with your produce.

1.  Know what’s in season and plan meals accordingly.

You’re going to go to the grocery store in summer and see tomatoes, cucumbers, and peppers dirt cheap in the summer.  Make sure you plan your meals to include lots of these ingredients.  This is the time to have homemade salsa, cold pasta salads, black bean salad (see yesterday’s post), and other such creations.  Likewise, you’re going to see winter squash, sweet potatoes and other root vegetables later in the summer.  If you match your meals to the seasons, you will lessen the risk that what looks good in the grocery store has no use at home.  As an added bonus, changing your meals with the seasons builds variety into your diet.

2.  Hang a list on your refrigerator of the produce you bought and what you plan to do with it.

A magnetic pad with a couple suggestions might keep you from forgetting that there’s a quart of strawberries in the bottom drawer.  As an added bonus, the kids might remember to eat some too.

The green sheet is my plan for the fridge. Now I’ll be reminded of what produce I need to eat.

3.  Have a few go-to recipes that use up lots of ingredients.

The other night, we made pasta and sauteed vegetables for the simple reason that we needed to use up lots of produce.  I had peppers, yellow squash, zucchini, mushrooms, onions and broccoli that were all looking a little rough.  We sliced off the ugly parts, ran the remainder through the slicing blade on the food processor, and ended up with a butt-load of vegetables for sauteeing.  The keys to making it good are don’t overcook them and be generous with the seasoning.  I seasoned ours with garlic powder, salt, pepper, an Italian blend, and a few drops of hot sauce.  Also, I sauteed in red wine instead of oil.  It made for a good Sunday lunch and a couple of good lunches at work too. When I ran out of pasta, I spooned the reheated mixture into pita bread.

For fruit, try a smoothie.  The key to a good smoothie is a banana–it makes it creamy.  Whenever a banana starts to turn brown in my house, we peel it and put in a plastic bag in the fridge.  For your smoothie, add whatever fruit you have on hand.  The other night we used a half bag of frozen mixed berries, cantaloupe, pineapple, a half an orange my son didn’t want to finish, and enough soy milk (or fruit juice) to cover it in the blender.  I froze the leftovers and ate them for breakfast.  It was like having ice cream for breakfast.  All our fruit goes into the freezer when it starts to get mushy or overripe.  It makes a great smoothie that way.

Off to the Farmers Market!


Eat Pizza and Feel Good About It

Mothers, do you know that feeling you get when you make a delicious and nutritious dinner?  That feeling that makes you feel like the love child of Mother Theresa, Benjamin Franklin  and Martha Stewart?  Contrast that to the feeling you get when you’ve given your kids crap that you know you shouldn’t and you start saying things to yourself like “one night’s not going to kill them” or “for pete’s sake, I can’t do everything perfect”?

Put this on the schedule for Friday night.  You won’t have leftover food or regret.  Vegetable Pizza!

This is not my pizza. I got the picture from It looks like my pizza.

I know, I know.  I should take my own pictures!  My pizza was prettier anyway.  My pizza had more color.  Orange carrots, red and green bell peppers, black olives, green broccoli. It was gorgeous.  I could have worn it to work it was so impressive.  And, my pizza was a super easy, veganish delight.

Roll out a couple of tubes of refrigerated pizza dough or make a batch of your own if you’re so inclined.  (If your homemade dough recipe is easy, please share it with me.  I look for dough recipes online, but I’m just not sure about them.  I’d love to have one that I know a normal person makes.  That does, of course, assume that you’re a normal person…) I lay one crust on top of the other because they get flimsy under the weight of all my vegetables.

For the sauce, mix one packet of Ranch seasoning (vegan-ish–I’m sure there are some milk solids in there or something) with 1/2 c of veganaise and 1/2 cup of Tofutti sour cream.   Sprinkle the sauce with 1 cup of grated Follow Your Heart Mozzerella cheese.

It's about $4 for 10 oz., but you can make it last for a while.

Here’s a tip about vegan cheese:  it doesn’t taste like the real thing.  Don’t expect it to.  Don’t eat it plain and then whine that it’s not good.  Cook with it.  It melts fine and tastes creamy.  On this pizza, it’s perfect.

Now, the fun part.  Chop up every vegetable you have in your house that looks pretty, tastes good, or cooks nicely.  Definitely include carrots, bell peppers of any variety, broccoli, and black olives.  Your pizza has to be gorgeous or you’ve failed.  But, look around your kitchen for mushrooms, banana peppers, artichokes, tomatoes, pineapple, spinach, or whatever else.  You really can’t mess it up.  If it tastes good with ranch dressing, it’ll taste good on this pizza.

Next time I make it, I’ll take a picture of it to show you.  And, judging from the way my family scarfed it down Monday night, I’ll be making it again real soon.  Here’s the recipe in a pdf so you can make it too:  Vegetable Pizza

What Does a 60-year-old Hottie Know That I Don’t?

Has anyone else read Fit For Life by Harvey and Marilyn Diamond?  I’ve seen mixed feedback online.  On the one hand, the Diamonds (who are divorced now and probably would not like being referred to in the generic plural) are called quacks and frauds. On the other, the gals from Skinny Bitch cited some of their research and my sister said it was a book worth reading over and over again.  I’m not sure, but I do know that this:  If you look like this when you’re old enough to be on Medicare, I’ll listen to your advice about health and nutrition.

Seriously, look at her butt. She's in her 60 for Pete's sake!

Unless someone photoshopped the hell out of these pictures, she's lookin' good.

So, right away, the book draws me in because chapter one is entitled “Diets Don’t Work” and because one of his major premises is that your body is capable of maintaining itself as long as we keep it nourished and allow it to do its job.  I believe all of  that wholeheartedly.

So far, I’ve been intrigued by one thing in particular.  The Diamonds assert that one of the basic tenets of long-term health and weight management is the observation of the body’s natural cycle of elimination.  In short, our bodies spend about 8 hours (noon to 8 pm) hungry and taking in food periodically.  They call this appropriation.  Then, it moves to 8 hours of absorption, digestion, cell repair, etc. from 8 pm to 4 am.  This stage is assimilation.  From 4 am to noon, the body enters the phase of elimination where it cleanses out toxins and whatever is left over from the earlier phase.

To the Diamonds, the elimination phase is key.  If the body does not have time to properly cleanse and protect itself from toxins and waste materials, it will not function properly.  In fact, the body will store these byproducts as far from the organs as possible in fat cells.  If that is true, then it means our bodies will have a vested interest in staying fat!  Could this be why weight just won’t go sometimes?  Could the feeling that my body is not cooperating or even fighting me be real?  I thought that was just how trying to lose weight felt.  Maybe it doesn’t have to be as frustrating as it used to be.

I spent a little time thinking about this idea that the body has a natural cycle that should be respected and observed, and I think that could be true.  It seems that all of nature has a rhythm or a pattern.  Why not my digestive system?  But, then, how do I respect it?  The Diamonds say to eat light, fruit-only breakfasts, if you have to have something at all, until you’re sure your body is ready.  They also advocate eating a diet that is 70% fresh fruits and vegetables in order to maintain hydration.

I’m going to try to observe the body’s rhythms a little more.  I’m going to toss out all the head-trash about 3 meals a day and a balanced breakfast, for a while anyway, and just pay attention to what my body needs and when.  And, and this one is big and difficult but totally essential, I’m going to attempt to put as few toxins in my body as possible.  No processed food.  Nothing fake.  Nothing chemically-laden.  Not even the vegan-friendly fake stuff.  I want nothing but clearly identifiable, largely raw ingredients.  Which means a whole lot of this:and none of this:and just when I was really starting to like it, too.

I think observing the body’s natural cycles and rhythms will be my goal for March.  I’ll keep you posted about how that works.

Is Being Vegan a Commitment I’m Willing to Make?

I think one of the hardest parts about being vegan is the knowledge that I’ll have to give up some things forever.  I mean, can I really go my whole life without a Pizza Hut pizza ever again?  Will I never eat turkey at Thanksgiving?  Will I never have a hamburger again in my whole life, not even one hot off the grill?  I’m not good at swearing off things forever.  In fact, I never want things more than immediately after I swear I’ll never have them again.  So, going totally vegan is really a challenge for my rebellion and my gluttony.

Grilled Cheese is one of the hardest foods to go without. Is it possible that Daiya Vegan Cheese can fill the void?

On the other hand, going totally vegan will also help me never have some other things again, and to those, I’ll gladly bid adieu.  I would not mind never having to try on a bathing suit and choke back tears as I look at myself in the mirror like I did two springs ago.  I stood there under those fluorescent lights and felt like a blob.  (I started moving toward a plant-based, whole food diet immediately after this shopping trip.)

Once years ago, I was at a pretentious store in the mall, and the sales clerk approached me and asked, “Are you depressed because you can’t find anything in your size?”  (No lie.  She actually said that to me.   The first words out of her mouth.)  It was one of those stores where they stock a half a rack of size XS and maybe 2 XLs.  You know the clerks all bad mouth the two people that buy the XLs.   Even though I hate those overpriced stores and their low rise pants, I’d like to be able to pull something off the rack and look good in it anyway.  (I won’t buy it though until I’m sure none of those snotty bitches get commission.)

These women belong at the mall. I am not one of these women.

I’m really tired of looking fat in pictures and video.  Since I’ve been “going vegan,” my mental image and my photographic image are starting to look the same.  I used to look at myself in pictures and think, Please tell me I don’t really look that fat in real life!  Lately, that hasn’t been so bad, and I’d like to keep it that way.

I’d like never again to pass by a reflective window and feel the need to suck in my stomach.

I’d like it if I were to never again get distracted by my pot belly during sex.  Is that TMI?  Sorry, too late.

There are some less traumatic things that I could avoid by being totally vegan.  For instance, when I’m vegan, I don’t get that over-stuffed, lethargic feeling after meals.  I don’t have to unbutton my pants surreptitiously at my desk after lunch because my food is sitting in my belly like a rock. I don’t have to worry about poisoning my loved ones with chicken germs on the cutting board.

Really, I won't mind saying goodbye to dead animal parts all over my kitchen.

I don’t get blood on my hands shopping for meat at the grocery store.   I have tons more energy.  My skin is better when I’m vegan.  (No woman should have to alternate between wrinkle cream and acne treatment! I’m 38 for Pete’s sake.)

Nevertheless, I have to admit, I am loathe to say I will never have something ever again in my life.  I guess this is where folks would recommend I take things one day at a time.  I should worry less, and by less I mean not at all, about what I’m going to eat at Disney World this summer, and I should just focus on making the best choices I can right now.  Later, if I’m dying to have something, I might.  I’ll just make a deal with myself that I won’t regress unless I absolutely need to for sanity.  And, if that day should come, I’ll eat only exactly what I’m craving—no grazing until I figure out what I want—and only the very least I need to be satisfied—no falling off the wagon and deciding to just flush the whole day and binge.

Good news--these can be vegan. There is lots of vegan junk food. I just have to be deliberate in my choices.

In the meantime, I’m going to continue to find new foods that I like and that make me feel good about what I’m eating, and I’m going to keep you posted on how it works out for me.

Great Article to Get You Started Eating Healthier

Eating Vegan: A Complete Guide to Vegan Cooking for Beginners

January 17, 2012 By Tanya Sitton
eating veganvegan cookingThere is an indisputable trend sweeping America’s refrigerators and grocery carts, making animal agribusiness folks uneasy and ecovores optimistic. For a growing number of food consumers, beef (or pork or chicken or fish, for that matter) is no longer “what’s for dinner.”

Whether for reasons of health, environment, or ethics, people in the United States are eating less meat. Recent food documentaries and books such as Forks Over Knives, Food Inc., and Eating Animals have increased consumer awareness about the health benefits of a plant-based diet and about the ugly realities of industrial meat production; consumption trends have shifted accordingly. Vegan, vegetarian, flexitarian, or simply veg-curious, more people than ever before are interested in plant-based cooking.

Cooking without (or with minimal) animal products can be daunting for new vegan or veganish chefs. For many cooks accustomed to a standard American diet, the first decision of every meal is ‘beef, chicken, or pork?’ For plant-based cooking, obviously the process is a little different. Instead we might say, ‘Hmm, I think I want nachos for dinner,’ or ‘Tonight I feel like Thai stir-fry’– it’s just a different way of thinking about food and cooking.

Habit is comforting, and change can be intimidating. But armed with some knowledge and a world of resources, the transition to a vegan kitchen doesn’t have to be anything but exciting and tasty!

Vegan Basics: Knowledge is Power

Before making the transition to a plant-based diet, new herbivores are encouraged to arm themselves with information. For any significant dietary change, it’s important to embrace new habits healthfully. It’s also important to be knowledgeable enough to handle potentially awkward social situations in a positive way, by responding confidently to well-meant but erroneous advice.

First of all, let’s just get this out of the way — protein is all over the place in a balanced vegan diet, from whole grains/ legumes/ nuts/ seeds/tofu/ seitan/ mushrooms/ tempeh/ nutritional yeast/ etc. etc. etc. Humans need about 10-12% of their calories from protein (about 0.36 grams per pound per day), which most vegans get easily without extra effort. Consumption of higher levels of protein (15-18% of calories), as in the standard American diet, can actually change blood acidity in such a way that calcium from bones is lost in urine, and osteoporosis rates increase. At least one study suggests that too much protein can also contribute to the development of diabetes.

Like protein, calcium is often the subject of grim warnings from omni friends to dairy-free herbies. There are many reasons to avoid or minimize dairy consumption, which is a topic deserving of its own post. For now, suffice it to say that not only isn’t dairy NECESSARY for calcium (unless of course you happen to be a baby cow), it’s actually not that great a source of calcium for humans.

The highest rates of osteoporosis occur in the nations that consume the most dairy. Calcium comes from plants; that’s where the cows — and all other herbivorous animals on the planet — get it in the first place. Kale, spinach, mustard greens, turnip greens, almonds, sesame seeds, tahini, tofu (set in calcium citrate) and fortified orange juice, soy milk, or cereals are all good plant-based calcium sources.

Bone density for most people is actually determined more by activity level and weight-bearing or resistive exercise than by calcium intake. Bone is metabolically active, just like muscle. Popping protein pills won’t give you big muscles; consuming calcium without resistive exercise won’t give you strong bones. There is a powerful myth within our Western culture about needing cow’s milk to meet calcium needs; it’s well-funded, but inaccurate.

kale supplies both iron and calcium

Leafy greens and other vegan foods also provide plenty of iron; you’ll be asked about it by well-meaning SAD eaters. In the developed world, it’s much more common to have an excess of iron than a deficiency. In the absence of significant blood loss, humans only need about 1 mg of iron per day (1.5mg for women of childbearing age). There are many plant-based sources of iron, so vegans/ vegetarians do not experience a higher rate of iron deficiency than do meat eaters.

You may also encounter omnivores who offer dark warnings against soy consumption; these concerns have largely been debunked, but are still floating around. Basically, consensus among the scientific community is that unless you have specific food allergies to soy, or eat large quantities of heavily processed soy foods (with lots of additives/ preservatives/ other unhealthy ingredients), or have some types of thyroid disease, soy is not harmful and in some cases is especially beneficial.

So educate yourself about your nutritional needs, and how to best meet them with a plant-based diet. Type ‘vegan nutrition’ into any search engine, and surf around a bit: it’s well worth the time! A veg (or primarily veg) diet can be outstandingly healthy, but to get the benefits you need the knowledge. A diet of potato chips and sodas won’t build a healthy herbivore! Also, if you’re going vegan (avoiding animal products completely), be sure to read about vegan sources of B12 and Omega-3s; these are the main things that are (not absent but) deserving of a extra attention within a vegan diet.

A little nutrition research will come in handy when relatives or acquaintances offer unsolicited (and often inaccurate) nutrition advice, as many people feel compelled to do once they realize you’re a planteater.

(This article just goes to show you how much you can learn from poking around good blogs!  Thanks, Tanya.  Novices like me are depending on the real vegans like you.)


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