Thursday, September 30, 2010
Before I plan each meal, I try to get in touch with what my body would enjoy eating - something earthy, crunchy, salty or sweet. This morning, as I left for my Restorative Yoga Class at Living Room Yoga (thanks for a deliciously restorative class, Sally!) I knew my pantry was dwindling and I knew my body was craving a BLT.
After class, I stopped at a delightful Italian gourmet market on 22nd Avenue in St. Pete called Mazzaro's -- it is a destination shopping point -- a little trip to Italy. I gave myself a treat to meander around, looking and touching and enjoying the variety of culinary taste treats. I even found one of my favorite wines that is difficult to find at most local shops, Ferrari Carano Chardonnay. It is about $20 a bottle which is out of my regular price range, but whenever I see it, I treat myself. I also picked up some vine ripened tomatoes and fresh romaine lettuce for my BLT.
"Hey! Wait a doggone minute!" you might be saying, "how can you drink wine on a diet!!"
To which I reply -- a) it is vegan, and b) it is not a diet, but a lifestyle and treats and indulgences in moderation are mandatory -- a life without treats and indulgences is a life not worth living. And, c) I am planning for my treat tonight by just having a hearty salad with all of my usual veggies, and black bean salsa, and no potato or cookie. I did pack a bag of 10 rosemary and sea salt potato chips for my 9 p.m. crunch attack. And when I come home after midnight - I will sit and savor one glass of my Ferrari Carano Chardonnay before I go sit in meditation.
Above is a photo of my BLT -- I used an Ezekiel sprouted wrap, and instead of mayo which is not vegan, I used avocado slices, and then romaine lettuce, sliced vine ripened tomato, cilantro and Himalayan sea salt. Then I added the coup de grace -- my homemade bacon strips made from beans -- check out an earlier blog as to how to make them. I froze the strips and heat them whenever I am in the mood for bacon. Bacon was one of my main food groups before I gave up food that came from animals (If it has a face, don't eat it.) And as someone who loved bacon -- this sandwich was awesome and hit the proverbial spot.
Off to my last evening shift of drama and trauma -- listening and praying - being present and comforting -- (There is an advertisement for, of all things, Napa Auto parts, that has a line I like: It is who I am, it is what I do.) Today you may want to think about what defines who you are and what you do. This then, defines how you nurture and support that part of your self, or your whole self to enable you to do and be this.
Blessings for a healthy and happy day - shalom - namaste - peace and balance.
Wednesday, September 29, 2010
And today -- let's talk about sprouts.
These are my new favorites because of their health benefits and their ease of growing. I have a little sprout garden in my studio and I have made several different batches of great sprouts. I enjoyed the sprouted peas the best. The photo above is "plain jane" alfalfa sprouts out in the sun to green up today.
Bet you didn't know that sprouts are full of vitamins, minerals and complete proteins. I love that they are alkaline since my focus is on increasing and maintaining a healthy alkalinity in my body.
In the pH Miracle, Robert Young writes: Sprouts and soaked nuts and seeds are alkalizing, life-generating, revitalizing, high energy foods. They are high in electrical energy and predigested complete proteins, chelated minerals, nucleic acids, vitamins, RNA, DNA, and vitamin B12. Their plant phytochemicals are activated, their starches broken down into easily assimilated vegetable sugars, their proteins predigested into easily assimilated free amino acids, and their fats broken down into soluble fatty acids. And their nutrient content skyrockets" Biotin content increases by 50 percent at sprouting, vitamin B5 by 200 percent, B6 by 500 percent, folic acid by 600 percent, and riboflavin (B2) by 1300 percent.
And yet, they look so scrawny and weak. I try to put these little powerhouse sprouts in as many recipes as I can, and why not? And the "snack sprouts" that I currently buy at Publix (but could make if I ever thought to do so) add an nice crunch because the seed/bean is still crunchy.
Go on, be brave -- eat a sprout and see if you can develop a craving (okay, that is a strong word... we need a word between craving and mere tolerance!) for sprouts.
Work up in time to have (but not savor) my cup of dark roast coffee and dash off to Bethany's class at Living Room Yoga - Ahhh/Ommm.
Then I met a friend for lunch at Harvey's on 4th -- a sports bar sort of spot with "great hamburgers" -- what is a vegan to do. Fortunately, most restaurants have their menus online, so last night, in preparation of this meeting, I checked the menu and discovered that they had a Florida Sunlight (or something like this) sandwich on whole wheat bread with romaine, avocado, tomato, Swiss cheese, thousand island dressing - and it could be grilled (with butter). It gave me something to work with. I ordered the sandwich and asked them to hold the Swiss and thousand island and not grill it. It was a perfectly tasteful sandwich.
The side was a cold rice salad -- I will try to make it myself -- yummmmy! It was yellow rice, black beans, a little onion and tomato with a tiny vinegar hint. Very good. Next time, I might just make this my meal.
Dinner: Back to the Yukon Gold potatoes. And yes Mark -- I do cook them first (forgot to mention that in the first blog post). Tonight I am using two small potatoes cut up, one avocado diced, salsa, crunch chips and maybe some carrot match sticks. I find I need something to crunch on about 9 p.m., so i am bringing a container of shredded cabbage with a few sun-dried tomatoes (oil packed) and salted with Himalayan sea salt, and the last of my healthy cookies. I bet there is cookie baking in my future!
May your day be filled with wonder and delight. May your food be healthy and bring you joy. May you find balance and harmony in your world. Shalom, Salaam, Shanti, Namaste, Peace -- and cool beans!
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
I do start each day with a rich, dark roast cup of coffee.
"Wait," you might be shouting, "I thought to gave up coffee!!" To which I will calmly reply: "I did." And then I couldn't remember exactly why I gave it entirely up, so here is an area of compromise: one cup a day, period.
Some of the reasons for limiting my intake of caffeine are:
a. to allow my body to flow naturally into sleep and awake cycles, allowing for a more peaceful sleep and a more active day. And this limitation has indeed done that.
b. and to work on keeping a high alkaline level which helps immunity and decreases cancer habitats. With this goal, even decaf coffee is out since it is acidic, so when I want a coffee like drink, I choose Teeccino which is a robust herbal mixture that has the viscosity of coffee, the sense of "ahh...my friend" that coffee brings to me, and is probably even good for me.
For "breakfast" - I am trying to acquire a taste for what health nuts (ooops, advocates) call "The Green Drink," which is a mixture of many grasses - again, supposed to boost one's immune system and is full of antioxidants. There are many powder mixes to choose from -- all tasting like juiced lawn mowings, but I am making progress with teaching myself to love this drink. I no longer have to hold my nose when I jug it. In fact, I can drink it like a normal person, no longer grimacing, and with each swallow, tell myself how good this mixture is for my body, actually almost believing it at this point. It is not for the faint of heart or stomach.
I delighted in a great yoga class this morning at Living Room Yoga, taught by Sally -- it was restorative and after the drama and trauma at the hospital last night, and getting up earlier than I would have chosen, it was just what I needed to connect Mind, Body and Spirit.
The Lunch and Dinner Combo Trick:
I always feel so clever when I do the lunch and dinner combo trick, but then for ions, folks have gone out for lunch, had extra and asked for a "to go" box for dinner, so this is not a unique or earth shattering discovery.
Upon returning home from yoga, after greeting my beloveds, two legged and four, I went to the refrigerator and took out all the packages of veggies from my last week's shopping:
the chopped or sliced cabbage, carrots, broccoli slaw, sprouts, lettuce, etc. For ease, when I can find the veggies already sliced, diced, or shredded, I buy it that way, but in the "ideal world" - getting them whole and doing it oneself may earn one Nature Goddess points, or a sliced finger.
I set up an Ezekiel sprouted grain wrap on a plate in front of me, and right next to it, I set out my large plastic "take to work" bowl. Onto or into each I add:
1 tbsp of red pepper hummus
1/2 sliced avocado
sprouts and snack sprouts
baby romaine lettuce leaves
carrot and broccoli slaw
and over each, I used some great chipolte salsa as a dressing. Snap the lid on the plastic container and 1/2 my dinner is made; roll up the tortilla and sit to enjoy lunch -- these are called JandiWraps (photo above) in honor of my dear friend, Jan Small who generously gave of her time to teach me the art of making them after scaring me away from my carnivorous ways by gifting me the book Skinny Bitch.
I still needed to supplement my supper -- the potato/avocado dish last night was scrumptious -- a keeper! Today I decided to slice some tofu and bread it with Panko Whole Wheat Bread Crumbs and heat it with a spray of olive oil in a cast iron skillet. I used a spatula to squish the squares flat as they cooked. Since it was a "to go" dish, I "plated" it on a sheet of aluminum foil upon which I laid some basil leaves, then the tofu, and topped it with some sun-dried tomatoes and herbs (that I made in my dehydrator this weekend -- ever so Martha Stewart! yuck) (yuck to me imitating M.S., NOT to the tomatoes which were yummy). Photo above.
I think I will toss in another of the "good for you cookies" described below. And that, my friends, should be the vegan food supply for the day.
And remember, water, water, water.
Whatever you eat -- eat it mindfully, grateful that we have food to nourish us. May you be blessed with good food and a healthy, balanced body.
Monday, September 27, 2010
And as I haul my large lunch box into work, and get questioning looks due to its size, I just say, "I'm a vegan, I eat a lot."
But alas, after losing 60 pounds, I am stuck -- dancing around this new weight with very little forward progress and wanting to lose 30 more pounds.
Soooo, I decided to blog A Day in the Life....of a vegan, for these reasons - for those few who are curious, and for me - to keep me honest. I will blog the good, the bad, and the ugly.
If you do not wish to receive these posts - email me and I will delete your address, or if you sometimes want to receive them - then just delete them when you are too busy to read it. Sound like a plan?
Also -- feel free to comment to give me your ideas: either sharing your goals and food choices, recipes, etc, or calling me on mine. Deal?
My basic plan begins with a vegan diet -- no animal products or by products - if it has a face, it is safe.
To this, my goal is to avoid as much processed food, sugar, oil and acidity as possible, knowing that I am truly NOT perfect and sometimes allowances have to be made to these goals -- but I do not make allowances to "if it has a face, don't eat it."
With my pinball brain, I honestly didn't get this idea until I was packing my supper to take to my shift at the hospital -- so this does not count as Day One.
Here is what I packed for supper tonight:
1. In one mid-size plastic container I tossed in:
Some romaine leaves,
Shredded white cabbage
a little broccoli slaw and carrot match sticks
1/2 a peeled and sliced cucumber
a large pinch of sprouts
a handful of grape tomatoes
And I dressed it with some Raspberry/Lemon Balsamic vinegar -- about a tbsp since I don't want too much acidity.
Surprisingly, lemons are not acidic (for a pH diet) when we eat them, and the juice of one lemon would have made a good dressing for this salad, but I was too lazy to deal with my seedy bunch of lemons today.
2. In a somewhat smaller container:
I diced a Yukon Gold unskinned (my preference with the belief, whether true or false, that the "good stuff is in the peel.")
I grated some Himalayan Sea Salt (my newest salt fave)
and added 1 tsp red pepper hummus smearing it on all the potato pieces
then, the remainder of the above used avocado, and
a product called "snack sprouts" -- they look like little dried peas and beans with tiny tails and add a healthy crunch
And I topped it off with a coating of chipolte salsa.
3. As a crunch snack -- I am taking 2 flax/sunflower/sun-dried tomato crackers that I made in my dehydrator. The seeds give me something to really chew on when I need that crunch factor, but because of the high density of seeds, I use them in moderation.
4. And for my sweet treat: one homemade vegan cookie with oats, coconut, flax seeds, carob chips, dried cherry, and god knows what else. I made them awhile back and keep them frozen.
That's it folks -- easy peezy once you get used to having chopped and shredded veggies on hand. And to drink -- lots of water. And more water.
Join me on this journey -- invite a friend if they are interested. Let's be our best and healthiest selves.
Saturday, September 4, 2010
Finally—Perfect Vegan Bacon You Can Make At Home (and Without Any Soy)
Bacon.bacon mania. The country is so in love with its smoky, salty goodness that even the most gung-ho meat-eaters are willing to sprinkle bacon-flavored TVP bits all over their salads and baked potatoes.
But if you think bacon mania is only for meat-eaters, think again. During college I waitressed at a vegetarian cafe, where the "fakon" routinely sold out during Sunday brunch.
Fake, soy bacon barely counts as food
At that same cafe, I remember serving one unsuspecting elderly diner who had not yet noticed that all the "meat" on the menu was written in quotes.
He took one bite of his tempeh "bacon," threw down the strip, forced the plate back into my hands, and declared:
"This is the worst food I've had since the war!"
And really, who could blame him? Besides being heavily processed and expensive, most veggie bacon, well, just plain sucks.
The surprising secret to great vegan bacon? Beans and buckwheat
Today, after a lot of tasty research, I finally have an inexpensive, soy-free, gluten-free, wholefood and freaking delicious solution. If you've ever woken in the middle of the night and found yourself drooling to the scent of unexplained bacon, this recipe is for you.
Yes, this bacon is not only ready to stand in for pancetta in your pasta carbonara and gourmet mac'n'cheese, but is even good enough on its own during breakfast or as the star of an avocado BLT!
This batch makes about 24 slices, or 1 cup total. You'll be surprised about how quickly that amount disappears, so do yourself a favor and triple the batch, store in the freezer, and enjoy the luxury of pigless-but-obsession-worthy bacon at a moment's notice.
Homemade Vegan Soy-Free Bacon
- 1/2 cup dried adzuki beans or other small red beans
- 1/3 cup hulled wholegrain buckwheat (not buckwheat flour)
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon hickory liquid smoke
- 4 teaspoons nutritional yeast
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon Braggs Liquid Aminos (May be substituted with soy sauce)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
Rinse the beans and buckwheat, place in large bowl covered with several inches of cold filtered water; let soak overnight.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Strain the soaked beans and buckwheat and rinse. Place in the bowl of a food processor. Add the onion powder, liquid smoke, nutritional yeast, smoked paprika, aminos or soy sauce, salt, tomato paste, coconut oil, and maple syrup. Pulse several times to combine, scrape down the sides and bottom of bowl and continue pulsing until uniform but not as pureed as hummus.
Line a 9×13 casserole dish with parchment paper and coat pan with baking spray. Place bacon mixture in pan and spread as much as possible with a spatula. To get the mixture very thin and evenly spread, spray another piece of parchment paper lightly with baking spray and press the paper on top of the mixture and flatten with your hands. Remove and discard the top piece of parchment paper, then use a spatula to spread over and fill in any bare spots.
Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for 10 minutes, then slice into 24 strips, about 1 inch by 4 inches (Do this by making one lengthwise cut down the center, and then twelve cuts across the shorter side). Remove the strips with a small spatula.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan on medium-high heat. Fry the bacon slices for 2-3 minutes, flipping once. Alternatively, before frying, you can freeze the bacon, then fry when ready to serve (no need to thaw first).
This recipe is so good that I didn't change one things except the kitchen in which it was prepared. I highly recommend it -- in fact, I am munching on a BLT on a whole grain bread with chipolte catsup as I type.
I know, I know, not eating mindfully, but it was so good I wanted to share.
Today there was a perfect storm between a space in the kitchen (remodeling drop clothes, tools, and construction crap have moved into the dining part of the kitchen), two overly ripe bananas, and time..............and voila! a delicious, vegan, healthy cookie was born.
Here is my recipe -- no photos because we ate 'em. (not true -- we ate a few and froze the rest, but as photos go, they just look like what they are -- cookies)
Into a mixing bowl I put:
2 peeled, ripe, mashed bananas
about 4 oz of applesauce
3 TBSP Agave nectar (you can add more for extra sweetness -- we don't like really sweet cookies)
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp kosher or sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 cups oatmeal or rolled oats (not instant)
And to this -- just get inspired and let the good times roll
I added about:
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup dried sweetened cherries
1/4 cup carob chips
and if I weren't sharing these cookies with my two legged beloved, I would have added some diced candied ginger.
Stir the mixture and place in the refrigerator for the short time it takes to preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Spray oil on two 9 x 13 cookie sheets and spoon out 24 cookies.
Bake about 10 minutes -- mine took an extra minute.
Let them stay on the cookie sheet to cool.
And then take some breaths to slow your excitement and begin enjoying them.
I like a cookie for breakfast with my, yes.....I have allowed ONE CUP of coffee back into my life each day....coffee.
Don't monkey around -- make em, bake em, and enjoy em, without guilt.
The Story Behind the Garden of Eden Vegan Blog
My idea of a good meal was a McFish sandwich, fries with extra salt, and a medium diet coke.
Everything was better covered in a rich creamy sauce and the idea of a naked baked potato was as foreign to me as walking naked in Manhattan.
In June of 2009 I decided to formally become a vegetarian. Although I had dabbled with this, it was not until I read Skinny Bitch that the gauntlet was thrown.
Now being a vegetarian does not sign you up for good health. I was proof of that. Chubby when I started, I indulged in pizza, french fries, cheese, cheese, butter, cheese, pizza......and became very over weight, tipping the Toledos at 200 pounds at 5'4". And taking an assortment of meds for cholesterol and GERD and who knows what else.
As the decade was waning, and with my 60th birthday approaching in the year 2010, there was a perfect storm that snapped my beak and got me in gear. The same friend who gave me Skinny Bitch, turned me on to the John McDougall website. At the same time, there was a Grand Round lecture at the hospital where I work on the book Eat to Live, and at the same time, I was tired of how I looked and felt and needed to make a change.
I regret that I did not start this blog when I changed my lifestyle, but it is better late than never.
My weight is down about 35 pounds, my size has gone from a tight 16 to a loose 12. And I am on no meds, although my vegetarian doctor and I will review my blood work within this month to see if I need anything (like b12) boosted.
I began as a Vegan Minus. Or what I call a Garden of Eden Vegan.
As you know, a Vegan eats no animals nor animal products - none. But then I subtracted oil, sugar, and processed foods.
That is a big subtraction -- but it is this subtraction that helped with weight loss, lack of cravings, increased energy, health, and vibrancy.
Now I am dabbling in raw foods and have signed up to learn with Russell James (google him).
I like the taste and health aspect of raw foods, but worry about the increased calories. So I will (hopefully) use the raw creations as a supplement to my Gan (Hebrew for Garden -- I am in a Hebrew mood today) Eden Vegan lifestyle.
My doctor said that I should write a book about this since most of her patients need it. I said, "Who, or how many, would want to do this?" We shall see. It has been easy (no cravings) and exciting as life and energy unfold before me, just as it was meant to be. (It didn't unfold over a fried fish sandwich, extra tarter sauce.)
Join me or not. Walk with me the whole journey, day trips, part of it, or not. This is my 60th year -- buckle up life, here I come.