Posts Tagged ‘food’

Easy Black Bean Salad

This salad is so delicious.  We ate it as a side dish one night, for lunch the next day, and as a snack with crackers on day three.  It’s super good for you, totally vegan, and comes together in about 10 minutes.  Great for hot summer days.

This is what you need. I got this out of the Forks Over Knives book you see in the background.

Black Bean Salad

2 cans of black beans, rinsed well (if you don’t rinse them well, they’ll turn the salad grey)

1 large tomato, diced

1 bag of frozen corn

1/2 red onion, diced

the juice of 1 lime

3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

1 bunch of cilantro, chopped

Mix all the ingredients and serve!  It doesn’t get any easier than that!

It makes a great side dish for anything grilled.




Raspberry Ketones? Let’s take a reality check.

I know Dr. Oz recommended that folks struggling with obesity and Type 2 diabetes should look into taking raspberry ketone supplements.  Apparently, in recent studies of fat mice, raspberry ketones helped them melt off body fat.  The mice eating raspberry ketones secreted adiponectin, a hormone which regulates the metabolism of sugar and fat.  The more adiponectin on has, the less fat one stores.  Thus, the group conducting the study released data suggesting that raspberry ketones could be a potential fat burning wonder drug.

Here’s the part that may be a bit of a buzz kill for anyone looking for a fat-burning wonder drug.  (But, we should have read enough press releases on scientific studies to know to look for the fine print by now.)  These mice were fed exorbitant amounts of ketones–up to 2% of their daily caloric intake.  Now, for an adult, that could be 200 calories.  And, remember, we’re not talking about raspberries.  We’re talking about one chemical in raspberries, the chemical responsible for their smell.  To get the same environment that rats in the study got, you would have to eat over 90 pounds of raspberries a day.  Not possible, right?  Not even desirable.  Clearly, nature did not intend for us to have 2% of our daily calories originate in ketones.

Also, the natural compound is extremely expensive.  The stuff we’d get in the supplement is manufactured synthetically.  When humans upped their normal intake 200 times, no effect on body weight was observed.  Check out the article on wikipedia.  It’s very well documented and was published before the Dr. Oz show mentioned the supplements.

For folks who are struggling with obesity and type 2 diabetes, I’m sorry that somebody got your hopes up again.  I know they have because GNC sold out of their raspberry ketone supplements within days of Dr. Oz’s show.  You rushed out to get it.  Just like we scrambled to buy chromium picolinate back in the day, then green tea extract, then hoodia.  I can’t even begin to list the not-so-natural ones like Dexatrim, phen-fen, Hydroxycut, Redux, Xenical, Alli, etc., etc. 


There is a natural way to lose weight–eat the highest quality, most natural food you can afford and enjoy your life.

Let’s Have Soup for Dinner

I made this soup last night pretty quick, and it was awesome.

This picture is from But, my soup looked just like this, I promise!

I’ve always considered Roasted Apple and Butternut Squash Soup to sound like something pretty difficult, but it certainly wasn’t.

First, cut a butternut squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Put it cut-side-up in a baking pan.  Let 4 granny smith apples join it the exact same way, except peel it first.

You have to use granny smiths, or it won't be as good.

You can put this into a hot oven (425) for an hour or you can put this into a cooler oven (300) for a couple hours.  I opted yesterday for the cooler oven because I wanted to get some other things done.  The good news is that once you’ve done the roasting, you’re about 15 minutes from having dinner on the table.

When you think your squash and apples look pretty soft, chop up a medium-sized onion.  In a soup pot, saute the chopped onion in 3 tablespoons of oil, 3 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon of cardamom, 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper.  It will smell fabulous.  (If you’re having company or if you want to show off to neighbors, now is the time to invite them in.)

This is cardamom. Use it ground, of course. Don't leave it out. It's the cardamom and cinnamon combination that makes this soup great.

Turn the heat off your onions.  Scoop the flesh out of your butternut squash, and add the squash guts and apples to your onions.  Transfer all of the mixture to a mixing bowl.  (You’re going to blend up the soup in a blender and put it back into that soup pot to warm up for serving.)  If you’re vegan, you’ll need 5 cups of vegetable stock.  If you’re vegan-ish, you’ll need 5 cups of water and 5 cubes of chicken bouillion.  Blend a scoop of the mixture, 1 cup of water and a bouillion cube on high in blender or food processor until it’s smooth.  Pour it into the soup pot.  Repeat this process until all ingredients have been blended.

Heat your soup on the stove until you’re ready to eat.  Our soup last night went great with a veggie pizza.  Even my kids loved it, and a couple of them are ungrateful bastards!

Here’s a better copy of the recipe, if you’d like to see it:

Squash and Apple Soup

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.

Come, Let Us Reason Together

I am rereading The China Study.  I found that book to be so overwhelming that I’m just not sure that I got everything out of it the first time around.  However, before I get started, let me run a few thoughts past you and see what you think.

First, why is it that so many people are fat?  I live in the Deep South where we are famously fat and unhealthy.  I can go to the grocery store or the mall and see, without a doubt, dozens more fat people than thin.  On some sides of our metropolis, that is different.  But on the west side, where I live, obesity is the norm.  Why is that?  Everyone I know is on a diet.  Everyone I know talks about what they should and shouldn’t be eating.  More of them are setting goals and trying to do better all the time, but it just never materializes into long-term weight loss.  I know very few people who lose weight and keep it off.   I know very few people who manage their weight into middle age.  (I do know a few who are just naturally skinny.  I’m not counting them.  They’re some alien species whose purpose for existence is to make the rest of us feel like slobs.)  Most people in the circles I travel have accepted the idea that as you get older, you get fatter.  And, if you’ve given birth, don’t even bother trying to be thin.  It’s too late.  You’ve had kids.

Secondly, why are so many people sick?  Isn’t there a better way to live?  If we didn’t have the technology we have today that allows most of us to do our jobs and manage our lives from the comfort of our desk chairs or cars, how in the world would we survive?  Surely, our ancestors were not the weaklings that we are.  They would have become extinct.

Thirdly, and I may lose some of you here, is this how God meant for us to live and eat?  Watching your weight and staying healthy can easily become an obsession.  If fact, if you’re one of those, like I am, that gains a whole lot faster than you lose, you know that you have to be a little obsessed or you’ll blow up faster than you can say “I think my jeans shrunk in the dryer.”  But, did God design our bodies to be so susceptible?  I have to believe that we are supposed to be more like the animals who eat what’s available when it’s available and their bodies regulate themselves.  Anything else seems like a design flaw, and I don’t think the problems we have lie there.

So, with those questions in mind, I’m going to reread The China Study.  Last time I didn’t really know what I was getting into.  This time I’m going to pay closer attention.  If you have any interest in the field of nutrition or weight management, please read this book too so we can talk about it.  I’d really like to hear how this looks from some else’s point of view.  I don’t even care if you disagree with my opinions as we go.  I would just like to hear some reasoned, informed discourse. 

As I go, I’ll also be trying a few of the recipes I’ve found and reporting on my progress with them.  Plus, my husband wants to do a side-by-side vegan cheese taste off.  I’ll let you know how that goes too.

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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