“Forks Over Knives” made us re-think that “little bit of milk”

forks over knives

The other night my husband was sick (allergies are kicking our tails this year) and therefore very agreeable about the movie selection. Feeling “Foodie” I picked “Forks Over Knives.” I was in a mood to learn something, having really enjoyed “Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead” and “Vegucated.” (not affiliate links).

So we hit play on our Netflix “rental.” We watched, and we learned A TON about animal derived foods. According to the data presented in the film, animal derived casein (the main ingredient in milk) can actually feed cancer cells living in your body. Meaning, that if you eat casein (drink milk, eat cheese, etc) you are actually helping cancer develop inside your body. Yikes!

My husband is a staunch meat and potatoes guy, or at least he was, until we started learning more about our bodies and how animal based foods affect our system. Even he, with his pension for barbeque pork, was caught reconsidering what we thought was “Just a little bit” of animal based foods.

This article from the Wall Street Journal features the same doctor that helped with the “Forks and Knives” documentary. His name is Dr. Colin Campbell, and he presents the idea that not only is protein readily and abundantly available in fruit and vegetable form, but the casein found in animal based foods can actually cause cancer.

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Dinner Tonight: Skillet Potatoes

This blog is not vegan, but I do a lot of vegan eating, so a bunch of my writing tends to lean vegan. In the interest of some of my non-vegan readers, I thought I’d share tonight’s dinner: Skillet potatoes.

The dish itself is, actually, vegan (so give it a try newbies!) but it is inspired by a non-vegan blog I have just discovered called Mel’s Kitchen Cafe.  it’s also seriously delicious and my plan for dinner.

Here it is: Skillet Potatoes

Here are the ingredients:

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For the full instructions, I think you should visit Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. She did a great job with amazing pictures and write-up there, I think you’ll love it.
The short version of what she’s doing is that you cube some potatoes and fry them with oil and spices. (you can say “pan-sear” if you think that sound healthier).

This recipe calls for Yukon Gold potatoes. Those are yummy, but I’ll be using Irish Potatoes because that’s what this girl has in her pantry right now. (budget!!) anyway.

You cube the potatoes, mix in some oil and spices. I like to experiment and use what’s in the garden. So you could use olive oil, or you might try coconut oil, sesame oil, even melted butter will work just fine. (Earth Balance works too, veganites). Also, while rosemary is amazing, some other herbs will do fine also and it doesn’t have to be fresh. Herbs de Provence would be lovely, so would Italian seasoning.
The Me&E Version:

about 5 Irish potatoes, peeled, cubed (as tiny as my patience can stand, but about 1/2 in. Think breakfast-size).

4 green onions, chopped.

melted butter (about one stick–cube it and pop it in the microwave for

Herbs-on-Hand (you like the hyphens? Sounds Fancy.) This is where I use what’s in my garden and growing well (more on my garden abilities later). Today’s selection is Oregano & Basil.

Garlic–about 5 gloves, pressed. (I’m such a garlic fan. Seriously, two was not enough for me, but use what you like).  I run mine through a garlic press, but you can mince it if you don’t have a press.

 

To Begin: Mel’s Kitchen has you microwave the potatoes first to get them soft. I like to limit my microwave usage, so I would suggest blanching the potatoes first, or even frying the potato cubes like you would french fries. Whatever works for you. Here, we boil them first.

Blanch the potato cubes until they are soft. Set aside.

Next, pour the melted butter in the bottom of a skillet and let it get hot. Careful not to burn the butter, so pay attention. (Tip: It helps to have  all the ingredients chopped, pressed, and  at the ready before you begin). Once warm, add the chopped onions and minced garlic. Cook until the onions are translucent (you know, see-through and a little wilty).

Then add the potatoes. Cook until they are soft all the way through and they have that nice golden brown color–even a little crunchy in spots. If you’re not sure when they are finished–that’s why you’re the cook! Take a taste-test to see. 🙂 Tip: If you will cook them like they have “sides” And do one flip in the middle, you’ll get more solid peices and the classic-potato cube look. If you stir them alot, you’ll get a more mushy texture in the end. Both will taste all right. So if you end up with yummy mushy potatoes, you’ll know you stirred too much. 🙂

At this point, you want to add the herbs (chopped up). Toss everything together, and serve. At a sprig of fresh spice to the top for garnish.

 

Also roasting some broccoli in the oven with butter/garlic/salt. 400 for 10 minutes. Florets only. 🙂 Bon Appetit!

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Product Comparison:

Pampered Chef Garlic Press VS. OXO Garlic Press

Ok, I’ve been cooking various garlic dishes over the last week rotating between these two garlic presses. My decision?

Well, the pampered chef garlic press won out. Why? Well, my OXO garlic press developed some kind of irremovable white film at some point. I washed it in the dishwasher and it came out with this gunk. Cannot get it off. Until that happened, it was my favorite press. It’s real metal (and I’m still not sure what the material is on the PC garlic press). The OXO will also flip back on itself to unclog the holes in the press, so it “self-cleans” too.

No clear winner, but the nonoperational state of my OXO won allowed the PC Garlic Press to be this post’s winner 🙂

Which press do you like?

 

 

 

Vegans and Vitamins

fruit_0I was reading some articles over on the Healthy Home Economist and her article on how Raw Veganism would steal your health was interesting to me. Everything I had been reading espoused the greatness of all plant based diets. Many, many people cite a raw vegan lifestyle as the reason they overcame horrible health conditions. I’ll let you read and research the implications of the original article for yourself as I’m sure, as with anything, it’s a matter of the individual. I think treatment for chronic disease can be alleviated or cured by an all plant based diet. I also think that approach might not be right for everyone.

I do have some thoughts on vitamins, however, which is what I wanted to share here. See what you think.

Vitamin D is hard to get in a vegan diet, but you can get it from the sun, as well as from supplements (although I think supplements are considered “inert” and potentially less beneficial than other sources). Even in a non-vegan diet the largest source of VItamin D is in fortified milk, so if you chose to be vegan you could drink fortified soy milk, or rice milk, and avoid animal products while still getting Vitamin D.

With Vitamin A–there are a TON of very good sources of vitamin A from vegetables and fruit. Absolutely NOT an “animal only” vitamin. http://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/food-sources-of-vitamin-A.php

Vitamin K is an interesting beast. I read articles that suggested K2 was only found in animal products, but this website http://veganbodybuilding.blogspot.com/2012/06/importance-of-vitamin-k2.html
Seems to think K2 is produced during fermentation and can be consumed by eating natto, or sauerkraut. (they don’t mention how much you would need to eat).

 

Where do you get your vitamins??

Pack & Go Raw Vegan Foods (like Bread!!)

I openly admit one of the hardest things about eating raw vegan is missing out on bread. probably my biggest obstacle is pancakes, but I miss toast in the morning and sandwiches, too. They are quick, easy, and what I really think they are is socially acceptable. That last bit is what I struggle with most. I went to a conference this last week for work, and while I had a blast hanging out with the people, I had an overwhelmingly hard time eating anything healthy–much less vegan or raw. The problems? A) everything was way overpriced, so you could eat pizza for $2, or you could buy a tiny cup of fruit for $5 (it would take about 4 of those tiny cups to make a meal, and about two slices of pizza to make a meal) That’s ridiculous. I had a food budget, and I couldn’t spend $20 every meal. Additionally, they had a party for “our group” where all they served was pizza and coke. I get it, because of the aforementioned outline of cheap foods, feeding a group, they have a budget too, and that was my only option for dinner that night, so it was eat that, or not eat. So yes,  I gave in and ate the pizza. know what happened? I was shaking–SHAKING, from having eaten that pizza. AT least I blame the pizza. I was also running on about 4 hours of sleep, so maybe everything came together at once, but I really felt like what I was eating was messing with me. Now that I’m home, and have resumed my healthy eating, I am sleeping better, my ance is clearing up, and I’m NOT shaking. You can decide for yourself what you think about the role of food there, but I’m a believer.

 

My newly formed (or perhaps accepted?) plan is to put my health above everyone’s understanding of my eating habits, and I intend to pack my own food. To that end, here are some recipes I’ve found from Fork & Beans, as well as Nouveau Raw, that outline some yummy “pack and go” recipes that would be great for conferences, picnics, family reunions, or wherever you happen to be travelling this summer that might need some help in the food department. Enjoy!

Apricot Sweetened Bread (Nouveau Raw) This recipe is great because you can wrap the whole loaf and it will last 3-5 days (conference!!!) Or you can freeze individual slices to eat as you can (weekly menu planning, anyone??) LOVE multipurpose meals. Work once, get many meals. Love it.

 

 

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This image belongs to Angie Sue OldFather, and I pasted it here from the Nouveau Raw website so you would want to check out their awesome recipe. Once I try this recipe on my own, I’ll share my own pics, but I’m tempting you to try it with me by posting theirs for now.

 

Green Go-To Juice. (From Fork & Beans) Rarely does Cara post a recipe that I do not like. Seriously the girl cranks out really awesome (and likeable) meals. This one I love because it’s green, but check out how much pineapple and mint are in it!! Yay!! I love the idea of green juices because they are SO healthy, but normally I simply cannot stomach all of the green vegetable based foods that are in them. Particularly first thing in the morning. This recipe is a green juice you can drink IN THE MORNING and have a great day. It’s pretty, healthy, and fruity. Gotta love it.

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I found these little yummies on amazon, it’s raw vegan chocolate cookies. Prepackaged, so there may be some processing issues for some of you, but for me, this was a God send. Talk about conference ready. Literally: Pack, and go. They have all kinds. Chai, flaxseed, sugar, you name it.

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Give these recipes (or products) a try, and share your favorite. Which ones do you like best? Do you have others that are your “go-to” foods? Share them in the comments.

Happy Eating!

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My beef with tofu

tofuHere’s the thing:

I hear you (Choosing Raw, Vegan Dad, Meet the Shannons, Bonzai Aphrodite, and others) that vegan is the healthiest way to eat. I have bought in to the idea that what you eat not only defines you as a person, but it also defines your future. What kind of person are you going to be in 10. 15. 20 years (or more?) The answer depends on how you treat yourself now. That means, ladies and gents, that you have to take note, and take action, about what’s in what you eat.

For me, the biggest shocker came when I realized that not all vegetables were as “cancer fighting” as I had thought they would be. In fact, thanks to genetic engineering, my staples grilling food, corn, was now chock full of GMO and potentially CAUSING cancer when I ate it. Fan-freaking-tastic, right? (For anyone that’s new, I’ll be writing more on GMOs later)

I was reading this blog about a lady who fought off cancer (or at least delayed it, she actually doesn’t share her full backstory on her site only the tidbit that she started her health journey when she found out she had cancer. I was actually disappointed there wasn’t more backstory, I’m sure it’s inspiring! Guess I’ll have to get her book). Anyway, reading about how the traditional American diet destroys your health, and how she wanted to fight cancer by eating healthy started me thinking: if extra chemicals and the manipulation of processing can cause cancer from vegetables, then what in the world was in all of those preservatives and chemicals it takes to make fake-meat out of beans? Soybeans in particular can actually cause harm to your thyroid when consumed in large quantities, so with so many vegan recipes out there depending on tofu, tofurkey, soymilk, etc, what am I doing to my body with all of those chemicals? In reality, even eating “straight from the grocery store vegetables” potentially even frozen vegetables were now to be considered suspect when it comes to chemical processing and GMOs.

The conclusion? I have issues with tofu. I have a beef to pick with it. Tofu is not the best choice when trying to be healthy and anti-cancer. There’s just no way that chemicals in fake meat is better for your body than eating organic, humanely treated, meat. I don’t really want to eat meat because of the cholesterol and knowing what I know about the meat industry (check out Vegucated). However, I understand why people opt to be omnivores when they first meet a vegan lifestyle because the “traditional vegan” diet is full of so much over the top processed food, it cannot possibly be healthier (albiet lower in calories) than a truly organic, chemical free, non-processed diet.

Which I guess is where the raw movement comes in to play.

Do any of you guys eat vegan?

Do you eat raw?

What do you think about processed tofu and soymilk? 

Three awesome (& Easy!) vegan pasta dinners

I like eating vegan, but I must confess I’m not used to the extra work. Man, popping a meal in the microwave is just so dang easy. But I can’t get past all the processing, and can you be a germiphobe for cancer? What’s that even called?

Anyway, suffice to say I am sticking to the Rachel Ray of Vegan cooking and going 30 minute meals. 🙂 We’ll see if I make progress.

In case you’re in the mood for some fast and yummy vegan, here are three that I think are fantastic.

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Fettucine with Cannellini Beans and Artichoke Heart Alfredo

 

 

 

 

 

 

soyrizopasta

 

 

 

 

 

Soyrizo Pasta Dinner

 

 

 

 

 

 

alfredo

 

 

 

Hurry Up ALfredo

 

 

 

You should know, my son is helping me post this right now (read that as climbing in the chair while I write)–and he sees this last Alfredo dish and exclaims “Yummy! I want some of that!” Yes, well, I suppose we know what we’re doing for dinner! 🙂

My first week as a vegan

Cover of "Eat to Live: The Revolutionary ...

Cover via Amazon

I had vegan days, I had vegan meals, I tried juicing, I tried paleo, I tried “healthy carnivore diet” (whatever that is), you name it, I probably tried it–outside of those xylotrim and whatever weight loss supplements, which just freak me out with the chemicals.

The most effective weight loss I’ve found came when I picked up Dr. Furhman’s “Eat to Live” book. I followed his advice, and I’ve been steadily losing about a pound a day. I’ve gotten down to 183, and I need to lose about 50-60 more lbs (Per the guidelines in his book. I’m 5’5″). I may, or may not, have cheated for about 3 days, so I stalled at 183. To be completely honest, I had chips, queso, and a margarita (or three) out with friends, so I’m stunned that my weight just stalled instead of gaining it all back.

Today was my first day back on the Eat to Live plan. I had a green smoothie for breakfast, I did drink a cup of coffee with milk in it (He strictly prohibits dairy products) but until I find a vegan substitute for milk that tastes good in coffee (soy and almond are NOT it. I’m thinking maybe hemp?) I’m allowing myself one cup of coffee with milk, as the milk is about 1/4 cup and well, I’ve allowed myself that one vice. This vegan thing is a big switch for me. Don’t judge.

Anyway, as this was my first week full vegan, I thought I’d share some of the ups and downs of it with any of you who might be considering a vegan diet plan. (Read here for where I”m at on the vegan lifestyle).

 

Ups:

  • Sleeping all night long. This is so huge. I have been having a TON of trouble getting to sleep, and staying asleep. I was laying awake fighting my thoughts trying to make myself stop thinking so I could sleep. I had reached the point where I was taking sleep-aids every night just to sleep at all. Then I would wake up groggy and slow, and I felt like I had to sleep until 10 or so just to function for the day. FIRST DAY eating all vegan, I slept all night, falling asleep naturally around 9:30/10pm, and waking up ready for the day at 8:30. It was awesome. 
  • No more itching legs. I have horrible itching legs at night. Itching so bad that I would scratch until I bled trying to get it to stop. Powerful lotions, oils, vitamin E supplements, everything. Couldnt get it to stop. Never could explain it, but have now decided it’s related to gluten. At least, white bread seems to bring it on. Cutting that out and the itching legs left for good.
  • Losing weight. Dr. Furhman’s diet cuts down on carboydrates and you’re almost literally eating 90% raw fruits and vegetables 24/7, so that explains the weight loss right there, but still, it’s amazing. I’m getting skinny, y’all!!
  • Trying new foods and recipes.
  • more energy.
  • more focused.
  • clearer skin.
  • more ‘regular’ (if you don’t know, ask your mom).
  • happy–I struggle with depression. I’m a naturally down on myself person, and it caves in on you sometimes when you are trying to be a working mommy, too. Eating this way increases my hormone levels to good places (or something), because I am much happier, I approach life with a better outlook, and I rarely have “sad episodes”

Downs:

  • headaches the first couple of days. We call this detoxing. it goes away, but it’s not fun.
  • hungry. Eating fruits and vegetables, it’s hard for me to eat “three meals” and be happy. I can’t eat enough fruits and veggies at one time to meet what Dr. Furhman calls a “meal” that’s just too close to rabbit-hood for me. So I end up eating several snacks all day long.
  • It’s hard to eat just fruits and vegetables. You get bored, you get disgusted, and you have to force yourself to be creative, because you want to give up. Once you discover raw vegan and vegan recipes, though, that gets better too. I just bought Raw Vegan Express cookbook (raw vegan in 30 minutes or less.) Let you know how that goes. But seriously, get yourself a cookbook and a nice online support group. Comment here! I’ll be happy to encourage you!
  • temptations. Cheeseburgers taste good. So does fried chicken and macncheese. You really have to stick to your guns when you face having to turn down those foods.
  • stress eating sucks. I’m a stress eater. I like to run through starbucks or other fast food place when it’s 7pm, I haven’t fixed dinner and my husband son and I are all hungry. Who has time to cook? Yeh, well, making this choice removes that option unless you live near a vegan restaurant (which I don’t. But I am discovering some local haunts that have vegan menu items, or at least items you can veganize.).
  • your friends don’t always understand. family is a beast. when you go over to your relatives houses, particularly for family events, and you only eat off the veggie tray, your mother in law, your aunt, and your cousins will all notice, and they’ll make fun of you. It has to be something, right? Why not this? Maybe they’ll ignore your fashion choices this way. lol.
  • people will either be very supportive, or completely unsupportive. there’s very little inbetween. This choice needs to be your own. If you’re ok with it, be ok with it, and don’t “need” the approval of others, that’s a bad road.
  • you need to drink alot. alot. alot. water, water, water. and herbal tea. I really like alcohol and sugar. Both off limits on the “diet” part. This is not so much a vegan issue as it is a weight loss one.

So I didn’t count, but the pros and cons here are about even in number. I think my measure, though, the pros outweigh the cons. We’ll see. I’m only on week one, but I’ll keep you posted! Cheers to week 2! who’s with me?