Friday, 31 December 2010

New Year's eve food

Today was a fun day. Our 4 and 8-year old friends, accompanied by their father, spent the afternoon and evening with us. And I got to prepare a lot of fun foods. We started with Dr. Fuhrman's almond chocolate dip, available at the recipe center (for members only, sorry), or p. 283 in the new edition of Eat to Live. It's like chocolate frosting! I thought it was too rich at first, but of course it's a dip meant to be eaten with fruit and it was very good that way. We had it with strawberries (frozen, but partially thawed), apple slices, fresh pineapple and bananas. The adults enjoyed it, but the kids preferred m&ms and hershey's chocolate candies. That was partly because the m&ms came from a machine that you had to stick pennies into.

Later on we had nachos, and chips and salsa and guacamole. I used a recipe from Isa Chandra Moskowitz' new cookbook, "Appetite for Reduction: 125 Fast and Filling Low-Fat Vegan Recipes." called guacomame, made with avocado and edamame. I think I prefer just plain guacamole. I searched my blog and don't seem to have a recipe for classic guacamole, but it's similar to this one, only without the beans. I fed everyone else the unhealthy salted oily chips they like, and toasted my own chips from unsalted corn tortillas (about 5 minutes in the oven at 350 F). Then we had ice cream for dessert. I had some dates and cashews to use up so added them in. It made it a little too gooey for my tastes. My favorite is still the simplest banana walnut, or banana-berry-walnut.

I like cooking for several people because I can enjoy tastes of several things without eating too much of each one. It was a good New Year's Eve splurge without being excessive.

Regarding my pre-New Year's temptations, this morning I got a few things at the grocery store and once again was tempted by all the vegan bakery treats. They even have vegan donuts now, made from a popular local bakery! Wo. And my favorite "nothing muffins" looked attractive too. So of course the devil (over my right shoulder) was saying, "want to splurge before New Year's?" Finally the angel (left shoulder) asserted herself and said, "Look, you know you can splurge anytime--you can splurge on Jan. 2 if you want. And isn't it nice to know those donuts will always be there? So you don't need them today." That seemed pretty reasonable, but I did decide at that moment to make some chocolate almond dip as my splurge (Dr. Fuhrman's version).

I was going to take pictures of the food today but there was too much activity with the children to bother with photography. Here were the results at the end of the day:

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Eat to Live

I recently received my copy of the new edition of Eat to Live. I'm looking forward to reading it. I started with Chapter 8, to remind myself of what his recommendations are for following the eating plan. Even though I probably know it by heart and try to follow it already, I'm influenced by the New Year traditions and think this a good thing to re-commit to. Then I will enjoy reading the first 8 chapters to remind myself why I'm eating this way. It's updated with the latest information from the scientific literature.

The recipes are better than the old edition. I thought it might be fun to try out each one. It will be a fun way to expand my repertoire. Part of the reason I'm feeling temptations now is that the novelty of this way of eating has worn off. Maybe trying out these recipes will reinvigorate me. Then after that I could try out all the recipes that Dr. Fuhrman emailed us as part of his Holiday Challenge. Of course, all of these are on the recipe center website, but I think these were picked because they were highly rated so that's a good selection.

Here's tonight's update on my temptations. We went to a hockey game, first stopping at a friend'a house to drop off presents for an 8-year old's birthday. We were invited to eat chocolate cake, and I had to decline of course, but housemate enjoyed hers. Then our team scored 5 goals so our ticket can be reimbursed for free ice cream at a local custard shop. I gave mine to the 8-year old. None of these were too serious temptations but I still felt them a little more than usual. All of us "nutritarians" have to say no about, what, 10 times a day? It's just harder this time of year I guess. I should remember that I don't regret it later on. I don't regret now saying no to the chocolate cake.

Yesterday's and Today's food

Yesterday I had more ice cream for breakfast/lunch. In one serving I added mangos to the bananas and walnuts. The other was just pure bananas and walnuts--still the best! Then, fortunately, I ran out of bananas. Dinner was some lettuce, carrots, and red cabbage. I also ate a small apple. I was going to make a big ole' squash lasagna meal but I'm not in the mood for cooking while I have this cold. I've notice that my congestion is correlated with how much I eat. Eating less at dinner makes me sleep much better.

Today I made a week's worth of smoothies for housemate. I had some of the cashew pistachio date cream on some fresh berries, and sampled the smoothies as well--probably ended up having 1/2 of a serving. Dinner was similar as last night: lettuce, carrots, red cabbage, and sugar snap peas. That's all I desire right now with this cold. It's not too bad of a cold, especially if I don't eat too much. Tomorrow I'll be out of ice cream ingredients, so maybe I'll have a pomegranate for breakfast. yum!

protein and athletic performance {and vega review}

Hope the Christmas recovery is going well for everyone…so much fantastic food and family time in one consolidated dose that it can be slightly overwhelming.

Mine has been filled with lots of game time…


Please notice the lovely scorecard below; I always consider it a good day when I beat the English major, who knows more words than I will ever know. Ever.


And now for the protein story, part II…[read the intro post here]. Protein is one of the most highly debated topics in the exercise world, specifically how much (and what kind) is needed for optimal athletic performance.

Fuel used during exercise


  • during short duration exercise (sprinting, weight lifting), protein and amino acid use is negligible.
  • during prolonged exercise (endurance cycling or distance running), amino acids may account for ~2-5% of total energy expenditure
  • there is little evidence that more than 0.8-1.6 g/kg of protein per day is needed.
  • carbohydrates are an important fuel: the rate of glycogen (stored byproduct of carb metabolism) breakdown is high during weight lifting, so replenishing CHOs to rebuild muscle glycogen is important.

The bottom line


  • excess calories consumed from any macronutrient (carbs, fat, or protein) will lead to weight gain and conversion to adipose tissue.
  • the main fuels used during exercise are carbohydrates and fat; protein use is usually between 2% and 10% of the total energy expended.
  • most people can meet protein requirements by consuming dietary protein.
  • while protein is important, an overall balanced diet containing sufficient calories is the key to increasing muscle strength and size.
  • There is no solid evidence that special mixtures of amino acids provide any advantage over normal dietary proteins in stimulating muscle growth.

*source: Sports Science Exchange Roundtable 42 VOLUME 11 (2000);4.

For those who do need extra protein, I prefer non-soy, vegetable based protein vs. whey or soy protein. Whey is one of the two types of protein found in cow’s milk (casein is the other), so it is a dairy by-product. Soy protein contains soy protein concentrate or soy protein isolate, which have a high concentration of isoflavones, the estrogen-mimicking compounds which are controversial for their potential effect on various types of cancer. However, if the protein supplement is not being used regularly, choosing whey or soy protein powder will likely not cause harm.

 optimum soy protein vega whey

Vega makes plant based protein powders and shakes free of artificial colors and flavors and most common allergens including artificial sweeteners, corn, dairy, gluten, soy, wheat and yeast. I also appreciate their commitment to sustainability.

shakegosmoothie-4Pack      sport-protein-trio-v1

While I don’t always advocate protein powder for the normal healthy individual, and I’m not convinced that the branched chain amino acids or special ingredients like maca root extract will necessarily yield improved athletic performance or increased energy, I feel more comfortable recommending a plant based product free of artificial ingredients.

And here’s a little preview of my CSN review…can you guess what it is?!


What are your thoughts on protein powder? Do you use it regularly?


Slaying the sugar beast

This is a great post on diseaseproof. The sugar beast is definitely on my back this holiday season. I've avoided it so far, but have compensated by eating more nuts and a lot more bananas than I need. Every time housemate pops a piece of chocolate or a christmas cookie in her mouth (she got a lot of both for Christmas), I think, I want something too! I'm also suffering from the urge to splurge before New Year's Day. It's our custom to reform our ways after New Year's and party hard before. Maybe I'm lucky I have a cold because that is moderating my behavior. My congestion is pretty strongly related to how much I eat. The less I eat at dinner time, the better I sleep. But every time I go near SAD food this week, I am tempted. This is so different from normal for me. The little devil over my right shoulder says, why not splurge before New Year's? Come to think of it, why is the angel over my left shoulder silent most the time?! This time he/she actually came up with a good counter-argument: How about if I don't splurge before, and then if I regret it on New Year's, I can splurge then? 'cause that's what the little devil on my right shoulder is implying is that I'll regret not having fun with everyone else. Well, let's see if I do regret it.

Overall, I'm feeling the frustration of being different. Normally, it doesn't bother me to be different because I've been different from most people all my life in so many other ways. I guess I'm feeling like I want to be in the herd right now (unfortunately, the herd is being led to slaughter, to put it bluntly). I'm going to a meeting in Seattle in a couple of weeks and a friend sent me a list of vegan restaurants near the hotel. It's something of a vegan paradise. But the problem is, it's not healthy! A lot of vegan restaurants are trying to show that their food can be just as delicious as SAD food (Standard American Diet). Of course it is, if you add enough refined grains, sugar, salt and fat. Actually one of the restaurants looks to have more whole grain options so I can probably find options that are loaded with only a little sugar, and a lot of salt and fat. If I could avoid the salt which makes me all puffy because I'm not used to it, I wouldn't be so bothered by a few high-fat meals. So should I compromise? The good part of me resents having to compromise my health, and the devil on my right shoulder says, why compromise, go for it and enjoy all the things you miss. So they both resent compromise, but offer very different solutions.

The reason I am craving the SAD food isn't because it tastes any better. Today's berries and cream were delightful. I don't get why I'm tempted. I know what my health would be like if I ate this way all the time. I've lived on both sides of this and the results of eating healthy are dramatic. I know I don't want to go back. I enjoy my food. It even offers me financial stability and the opportunity to take rewarding but low-paying jobs, because my chances of having a heart attack or diabetes is near 0. Even my chances of getting cancer are decreased, though not completely because of my previous 45 years of eating unhealthy. So why on earth do I want to join the herd that is being led to slaughter? That really shows the power of our social needs. I'm a social creature. But I have to learn to satisfy my social needs while being different in the way I eat. I guess it is as simple as that.

When I'm in Seattle and I'm tempted by those vegan restaurants, the devil will be saying, how often do you get to go to a place with vegan comfort (junk) food? implying that I'll regret it if I'm in Seattle for a week and then leave without trying it. I know already this will be a powerful draw for me. I hope the silent angel will pop up and say, well, my home town now has a very good (I mean good-tasting) vegetarian restaurant full of vegan comfort (junk) food too. So if I regret it, I can always go there. So maybe I should just try resisting and see if I don't regret it. An why is the angel so da*@ silent anyway? I have to coach her all the time!

mmm, cashew pistachio date cream

I got some cashews, pistachios and dates for housemate's smoothies, and I decided to mix them up ahead of time and enjoy some of the results myself, over berries, which was yummy.

cashews, pistachios, dates and water.

You are probably wondering, how much? well, it depends on what you are using it for. The smoothies don't need much extra water so I used less, making it very rich and creamy. I got the dates and pistachios already packed in small bags at the store, so it was about 1 cup pistachios, 1 cup cashews, and 10 medium medjool dates. I added about 2 cups of water, so it was very creamy. If you want more of a milk, use fewer nuts and dates, and more water. You can weigh amounts to make sure you are getting reasonable daily portions of the nuts and dates.

Next, blend it all up in a high-speed blender.

Here it is before blending:

And after:

It has a green tint to it from the pistachios. Does it ever taste good! Here was my cut of the profits, poured over fresh blueberries and blackberries.

Yum! The rest I poured into cups for making housemate's smoothies (4 batches totaling 8 servings).

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Hemp milk

1/8 - 1/4 cup hemp seeds
1 cup water
1-2 dates and/or other dried fruit (optional)
1/4 tsp vanilla (optional)

Blend in a blender until smooth. The amount of hemp seeds determines if you want more of a milk or cream. I used the full 1/4 cup, and it was very creamy. I tested it out on top of a few blackberries:

It was yummy! I used some more in ice cream.

I stored it in a couple of small mason jars.

Easiest and best banana walnut ice cream

This is my all-time favorite ice cream.

frozen banana pieces (to freeze, peel ripe bananas, break into small pieces, seal in a plastic bag in freezer).
handful of walnuts

Blend in a high-powered blender. Now, with no liquid, it's hard to blend at first. Sometimes it catches and makes a real creamy thick ice cream, like here:

Other times, especially if you make a small portion, it doesn't blend so well and then it's chunky, which is good too! I like it both ways, creamy and chunky. I've tried many ice cream recipes with added nut milks, sweeteners (e.g., dates) and berries, and this is my favorite. But of course, for variety, I like the others too.

Today's meals

Since I have a cold, I'm working from home this week and have more time to play in the kitchen, so I'm enjoying healthy comfort foods. They really do make me as satisfied as any SAD (Standard American Diet) food and I don't feel awful after eating them (except when I eat too much).

This morning I made some pretty good banana oat bars. I modified Dr. Fuhrman's recipe enough that I could post it, but I'm not sure I want to repeat it. I can get the same flavors from a bowl of oatmeal: oats, chopped dried fruit (dates, apricots, and prunes), banana, cinnamon and pumpkin pie spice. And that's easier to make and can be prepared in a single serving. Fortunately I made a small batch and shared them with housemate so it wasn't too over the top. That was breakfast and lunch.

Dinner was, ice cream, and a carrot and some raw cabbage and spinach and some orange remainders (I still like these!). However, it was, um, several helpings of ice cream. First I made a batch of banana/strawberry/blueberry ice cream. It was good. But then I made a much simpler version of banana walnut ice cream that was even better. I realize that I like crunchy ice cream.

Okay, from now on I need to eat normal amounts. I still want to try one more ice cream recipe, which is called "Jenna's peach freeze." I'm hoping we'll be entertaining friends this weekend and I have several fun meals planned.

I'm back

Well, I guess I was over-confident heading off this weekend. Eating healthy was harder than I thought. Aunt Margie's cookie balls were the most tempting, even knowing they are loaded with butter, white flour and sugar. I resisted, but acted out in other ways: by overeating when I returned home--both yesterday and today. I've really been susceptible to the social situations lately. The problem is that when you give in once, like I did in France, it makes it a lot harder to resist the next time. I have a harder time now than I did my first few years because the novelty and fun experimentation with recipes has worn off. And I let myself think I'm healthy and can afford a few lapses. Unfortunately that food is so addictive that a lapse just leads to more. I need to try to be more aware of my weaknesses and prepare for it. Yesterday was kind of a humorous incident even though it led to overeating. I was in the grocery store and saw friends with their new baby so I ran over to talk with them and they were standing in front of all these freshly baked vegan treats--chocolate chip cookies, chocolate bars, and other stuff. Well, after watching everyone around me eat cookies and chocolates all weekend long, I wanted those cookies! Somehow I resisted and ended up buying nuts and dates and overeating. dang it.

I have a cold and my overeating is only making it worse. You are supposed to eat much less while sick so your body can fight the cold. Oh well, my ice cream was good today. I'll post about that next.

Saturday, 25 December 2010


Merry Christmas…from my family to yours!


Here’s to celebrating the good things in life and embracing the challenges it brings…


and to eating lots of delicious things [in moderation, of course].


Have a fantastic day, wherever you are!


p.s. another CSN review coming your way soon…although their modern furniture is pretty exciting, I’ll {of course} be reviewing a kitchen item. :)

Friday, 24 December 2010

today's lunch and dinner

...and tomorrow, and Sunday. See yesterday's post for more description. It's repititive, but easy, yummy, and even looks Christmasy! At right is my bean veggie soup from the freezer. I'll be off the internet unless I get to escape to a coffee shop, but that's not likely. So see you on Monday.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

My weekend trip

Okay, it's Christmas this weekend. My situation is not normal. I will be visiting family and will bring my own food--they are used to it--and, let's just say, this is not a situation where I am tempted to misbehave. For one thing, I don't think there will be a vegan item in any house I'm attending, not even veggies or fruit. Believe me, I have many demons and situations that are triggers for me. This just isn't one. So don't get the impression I'm a saint. It's social situations with friends here in Madison or while traveling that are difficult for me, like the last 3 weeks have been. But this other situation is like escaping into a monastery for a few days. In fact I almost wish I could just fast for part of the time because it's so sedentary and quiet with no temptations; but even though they accept I'm crazy, I think they would freak out if I did that. So with all that long-winded description of my weekend, here is what I bought at the grocery store for 3 days + one breakfast:

3 heads lettuce, 3 baby bok choys, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, 3 apples, 3 grapefruits, 4 pomegranates (there's still a few left!). And from the freezer, 3 servings of veggie bean soup, and my seed mixture.

Breakfast will be snacking on salad ingredients and carrots while preparing lunch and dinner. It will be most convenient for everyone if I prepare my lunch and dinner ahead of time and stay out of the way during these meals. That is why the simple salad is the main course.

Lunch: big salad, with the lettuce, bok choy, broccoli, cauliflower, apple, grapefruit, pomegranate seeds, seed mixture.

Dinner: big salad and veggie bean soup.

Breakfast on the 4rth day: pomegranate.

I'll let you know how it goes when I return.

this week's food

This week got hectic so meals took a backseat. Fortunately or unfortunately I had a fair amount of bananas, soy milk, and walnuts, so I continued my ice cream obsession. When I ran out of berries (Monday morning), I had the still wonderful banana walnut ice cream (Monday night and Tuesday). I went overboard on both days. oops. In a way, it made Wednesday easier because I wasn't hungry and I had a huge deadline. I can work from home if I want, so I got up at 7 am, walked 10 feet to my home office, and sat in my chair grading job applications until 9:45 pm. I got up every once in a while to make herbal tea, or decaff green tea, or grab a carrot or lettuce or cabbage from the fridge. Talk about a sedentary day, body wise, though it was a marathon brain-wise. But I didn't need much food. It paid off, because I made the deadline and we had a productive 2 hour telecon this morning and accomplished what we had planned. Then I thought, time for a well-deserved break! So I threw together some food, and went swimming followed by ice skating with my good friends, whose ages range from 4 to 61! Both were wonderful!

So here are the meals I had today: Before the telecon, a serving of veggie bean soup (from the freezer, thawed overnight). Then to get me through the rest of the day, I made a quick salad from everything left in the refrigerator: lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, baby bok choi, apple. no salad dressing, just thought of it as finger food--didn't even bring a fork. And I made a big bag of sliced carrots and celery. Here's a picture of the goodies and the almost empty fridge that resulted:

I eat a lot of raw carrots because we get really good local carrots at my co-op for several months of the year. They taste kind of like candy. Carrots are probably the most calorie-dense raw vegetable that's enjoyable to eat (potatoes might be calorie dense, but they aren't enjoyable to eat). This is a good thing because you can't survive on raw veggies for long if you don't get enough calories. I would have added nuts but I wasn't that hungry after the beans. I nibbled on this before and after swimming. Then this evening I went grocery shopping for my weekend trip and stopped at a fast-food joint with house-mate. I dumped my blackberries and frozen mango on the rest of my salad at ate that while house-mate enjoyed her hamburger and fries. My fast food meal was also quite good.

Some readers commented that they are interested to see what I do for simple meals. Well, this is about as simple as you can get. I feel pretty lame posting about it, but this sort of quick and easy stuff works for me.

holiday caffeination

I may be a dietitian, but I love coffee (in moderation, of course…read my thoughts on caffeine here). You may remember Patrick’s guest post from earlier this year, and I’m happy to bring you an update.


Day 7: [better than] fair trade coffee

12 days of giving logo copy

Patrick Hughes [read his guest post] once dreamed of a career as a mechanical engineer and a 9-5 desk job. When he realized that he was following the expectations others had for him instead of his own ambitions, he made the life changing decision to partner with some friends and form Unión MicroFinanza, a microfinance organization in Honduras [yes, as in Central America].


Instead of merely giving loans to coffee farmers, Unión MicroFinanza works to educate them on financial responsibility and better farming techniques. The extra effort has not gone unrewarded; Unión MicroFinanza has been extremely successful, with a loan repayment rate greater than 99%.


Despite his accomplishments, Patrick is still a pretty humble guy and not afraid of tedious tasks like putting 300 stickers on bags of coffee. He says one of the biggest challenges has been immersing himself in the Honduran culture while trying to induce positive changes.


Patrick’s passion for his organization and for helping others is infectious. He truly believes that hard work can land anyone a dream job. The other members of the Unión MicroFinanza team include:

Andrew Boyd, Manager of Business [special thanks for delivering Microloan Coffee to my doorstep on Thanksgiving!].

Michael De Wit, Manager of Development

Daniel Schwartz, Manager of Community Relations

Ways to help:

I also had a really interesting discussion with Patrick about direct trade vs. fair trade…more thoughts on that to come.

  • Where does your coffee come from? And does it fit into a sustainable lifestyle?
  • How many of you are working your dream job?


Tuesday, 21 December 2010

list for a tuesday…

Thanks for all the comments on the protein post. I do want to say that although I eat a mostly vegetarian diet, I don’t worry about protein. I eat lots of vegetables, and I love nut butter and quinoa.

1]. I’m not over eating pumpkin yet. I don’t care if it’s winter. I miss fall, and I will continue to eat pumpkin in protest [pumpkin pancake recipe here].


2]. I love artsy gift tags. These were pretty fun to make, but I should probably practice cutting out circles by the looks of those edges.


Want to print out your own? Click here for the PDF download…


3]. Did you see the NYT article on exercising before breakfast? I always eat before running or working out in the morning, and I think this article was very interesting. More on that to come…

4]. I don’t know who is behind the christmas is happening music project, but it’s pretty awesome. I hear that some of the songs will be available for download soon, so check it out for some musical inspiration.


5]. Day 6: Forgive.

12 days of giving logo copy

This one is definitely intangible but still powerful. Hurt we carry is often more damaging to us than the person who wronged us. So forgive someone else...or yourself, and welcome the freedom that comes with it.

Do you exercise before breakfast?!


Monday, 20 December 2010

tomorrow's food

Tomorrow's food will be a repeat of today:

breakfast: ice cream.

Lunch: fall micro salad. this is the last one of the season, I think. Several of the pomegranates were in bad shape so I combined the best of all of them. This salad has lots of pom seeds in it and will be yummy, so I'll savor it.

Dinner: micro salad and veggie bean soup.

I wonder what I'll make on Wed. I'll be low on groceries so it should be fun to see what I come up with.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Tomorrow's food

I think I bought the last 5 pomegranates of the season yesterday. Today there were none at the store. I'm glad I got them! So I will probably be eating my favorite fall microsalads every day. That's what I made for tomorrow, and it filled up two large bowls. I'm still excited by my newest ice cream concoction so I will have a smaller version of it for breakfast tomorrow. Lunch will be a microsalad. Dinner will be microsalad and veggie bean soup.

The rest of the week will probably be similar for lunch and dinner. Breakfast will have some variation. I have a grapefruit to eat, which I might do on Tuesday. Maybe I'll have oat groats one morning. Maybe more ice cream using different fruits, like mango.

I was thinking of going back to logging my daily meals. In addition to maybe being useful to others, it might help me stay on the straight and narrow. After all, it's embarrassing to post too many mistakes. But I will have to see if I have time. I don't think it takes long. This post didn't. What do you think, would you like to see my daily food logs?

winter bean & veggie soup

I decided to add more veggies to my beans so it's a real soup instead of just beans. You can add whatever veggies you want in whatever amounts. I chose collard greens because they are in my freezer, brussels sprouts because housemate loves them and we still get them locally, mushrooms and leeks because they are good cancer fighters, and zucchini to help make it a nice thick stew. Last week I used butternut squash but that in combination with the beans produced too much gas. :)

1 lb beans (today's were Christmas lima)
juice from 5 lbs carrots, or about 1 qt
several cups water
collard greens, about 1 lb
2 large leeks
1 lb mushrooms (today's were a mixture of crimini, oyster and shiitake)
1 zucchini
brussel sprouts, about 1 lb (housemate really loves them)

I juiced the carrots last night and soaked the beans in the carrot juice overnight, with a few cups water. This morning I added more water and cooked the beans, while I was away for a few hours (housemate monitored water levels). Then when I returned I ran the rest through the food processor and added it in, along with more water. The leeks, zucchini, even the mushrooms, pretty much dissolve in stew after being chopped so fine and that thickens it up nicely. It tastes like a rich hearty winter soup.

If you don't want to bother with the carrot juice, just use water, then add some spices. Maybe some thyme and oregano--other suggestions?


Well, you can see from the next 4 posts, I've been making a lot of desserts lately. Looking at all those treats I can't eat at the holiday parties finally got to me! Now I could say that it's okay to splurge and go off-plan every once in a while, like I did last year (or last week in France!). But I've been to 5 events with treats in the last 5 days, and I have several more to go this week. That's more than every once in a while. Plus, I feel crappy when I eat that stuff. So I decided to make my own treats. I did eat more than I needed to, especially the oat balls, but that's an acceptable holiday splurge, and best of all, I didn't feel like crap afterwards.

apricot oat balls

Dr. Fuhrman is running this "Holiday Challenge" and he sends us a recipe a day. I decided to try Friday's recipe, the "No-cook Apricot Oat Bars." Well, I'm not a good baker (even when it's "no-cook"!) because I don't follow directions like I should, so this turned into something else quite different. And since it did, I figure I can post it as a new recipe.

3/4 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup raw almonds
2 Tbsp raw sunflower seeds
1 tsp flax seed
2 cups dates, pitted
1/2 cup dried apricot, unsulfured, chopped
1 tsp cinnamon

Blend the oats to a coarse flour in a blender (my first mistake, I was suppose to process until coarse in a food processor!). Blend 1/2 cup cashews until fine. Add the cashews to the food processor with some water and dates, and process until it smooth. Blend the other nuts and seeds until coarse or fine, in the blender. Add these and everything else to the food processor and process until it stops doing anything useful--a big ball rolling around. Roll into a bunch of little balls.

This is super sweet! I wouldn't call this "healthy". And it's quite high-calorie. You could probably half the amount of dates. However, this is great to take to a party. I ate several and then decided I'd had more than enough, so I saved the rest for a party. Just to make sure I didn't eat any more and to make sure the SAD eaters would like it (SAD = Standard American Diet), I combined cocoa powder and powdered sugar in a bowl (hot cocoa mix works too!), and doused all the nut balls in this mixture. They became chocolate covered nut balls. People loved them and they disappeared quickly! Sorry I forgot to snap a picture. They were cute little balls.

"cake", berries, & "cream"

Ingredients for 2 servings:
2 essene buds or 2 slices of manna bread (optional)
1/2 cup cashews
1 ripe banana or 2-4 dates
1/4 cup soy, almond or hemp milk
1/4 cup water
2 cups berries or cherries (can be fresh or frozen)

Blend the cashews, milk, and banana/dates to make the cream--add the water as needed, it varies depending on whether you used bananas and/or dates. My bananas weren't fully ripe so I used dates instead. It was too sweet for me (obviously I used too many!). I will try bananas next time. Place the essene buds or bread on 2 plates, heat up in the microwave, top with the cream and berries. The blackberries were fresh and yummy. I enjoyed this a lot. This was inspired by Essie's Christmas dessert, from the Fuhrman forums. She didn't include the "cake" part, I was just in the mood for it. I'll try it next time without

My favorite ice cream

Wow, I loved this. It's not super sweet. I'm realizing I don't like the really sweet stuff. But it's easy to sweeten to taste with your favorite sweetener (e.g., dates, date syrup, maple syrup, etc.). I'm also realizing I like the taste of soy milk. If you don't, use hemp or almond milk instead. Oh, I should give credit to the inspiration for this. It is a modification of "Healthy Elijah's Chunky Blueberry Walnut Sorbet". His recipe calls for 2 cups of walnuts which is about 1.75 too many for me!

Ingredients for 2 servings:
2 bowls in the freezer
1 banana, frozen
1/3 cup unsweetened soy, almond, or hemp milk
1/2 oz walnuts (about 8 halves)
2 cups frozen berries or other fruit
1/8 tsp vanilla (optional; I usually do without)
sweetener to taste if you prefer (dates, syrup etc). (optional; I prefer without but guests might prefer with)

Blend the banana & soy milk (and optional sweetener and vanilla) until smooth. Then add half the berries and blend some more, then add the rest and blend until chunky. It will get very thick and that's good.

I made this today with strawberries, blueberries and blackberries. I love the chunkiness!

(I updated this after making it the second time).

Total calories: 376. protein 10 g (10%), fat 13g (31%), carbs 62g (59%).

Thursday, 16 December 2010

the protein story

I’ve blogged about the other 2 macronutrients already (carbs and fat) and get a lot of questions about whether I think dairy and animal protein is healthful, so I think it’s time to address the issue. 

What is protein?


Daily, your body uses and turns over protein for tasks such as tissue building and repair, forming enzymes and hormones, and making antibodies to fight infections.

Protein can come from animal sources or plant sources. Protein from animal sources is called complete protein or high biological value protein. This means that the protein contains all of the essential amino acids (those that the body cannot produce on its own).

Vegetarians & Vegans


If you missed my other posts about vegetarianism and veganism, read them here and here. The American Dietetic Association states that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases.

Many people wonder if adequate protein intake is possible when consuming an animal-free diet. Vegetables and grains also contain protein, but it is important to remember that these are not complete sources of protein. It is best to consume a variety of foods throughout the day in order to meet protein requirements.

How much protein should I eat?

The ADA currently recommends 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight (1 kg = 2.2 pounds). If you are 140 pounds, ~51 grams of protein (most 3 oz servings of meat contain ~20 g protein) would be adequate. This amount of protein is sufficient for recreational and some competitive athletes, although weight lifters and endurance athletes (marathoners, triathletes, etc.) may have slightly higher needs.

Endurance Athletes

Type of Training

Daily Protein

Daily Protein

Light to moderate training

1.2 to 1.7 grams per kilogram

0.55 to 0.8 grams per pound

Heavy training load and high intensity                                               

1.4 to 2.0 grams per kilogram

0.7 to 0.9 grams per pound

Strength Training

Type of Training

Daily Protein

Daily Protein

Weight and Body-focused Sports

1.2 to 1.7 grams per kilogram

0.55 to 0.8 grams per pound

Body Building                                               

1.4 to 1.7 grams per kilogram

0.63 to 0.77 grams per pound

Sports science experts Mark Hargreaves, PhD says: Strength and endurance athletes may need to consume 1.2-1.6 grams of protein per kilogram body weight each day (about 3-4 oz. per day for a 160 lb athlete), which is somewhat greater than the Recommended Dietary Allowance (0.8 g/kg).

According to Kevin Tipton, PhD, a metabolism expert: Studies from our laboratory indicate that exercise may actually reduce the requirement for protein intake due to the stimulation of muscle anabolism by the exercise itself. This may explain how some endurance athletes, such as the Kenyan distance runners, can thrive on very low protein intakes.

Most protein requirements can be met through dietary protein intake. If unable to meet requirements, you may consider a protein supplement…more on this in an upcoming post.

Benefits of animal protein and vegetable protein?


animal: complete protein; can consume less of it to meet requirements; may be high in saturated fat and calories.

vegetable: fiber and protein without calories and saturated fat but must consume more to meet requirements; less acidic for those with related health conditions.

I haven’t done enough research to conclude that complete elimination of animal products is beneficial for every person. Doing so is a very personal decision…I don’t believe in cookie-cutter diet recommendations. See a registered dietitian to help you plan an appropriate diet. :)

12 days of giving logo copy

Day 5: Phone a friend

Text messaging has taken over a good chunk of our daily communication; take some time out of your day to catch up with someone > 160 characters, and you won’t regret it.

While text messaging is super convenient, phone calls are definitely more personal. They don’t have to last for hours; even a 10 minute shout-out can make someone’s day.

Who was the last person you called?!


sources: American Dietetic Association; Sports Science Exchange Roundtable 42 VOLUME 11 (2000);4

Monday, 13 December 2010

{gifts from the kitchen} a holiday guide

As mentioned in my last post: while I think the material greed monster associated with the holidays is ridiculous, I do love giving and receiving thoughtful gifts. Here are some foodie-friendly ideas:

1) homemade bread


My family has a tradition of making Swedish coffee bread every year(side note: I’m adopted if you are thoroughly confused). While our recipe is [kinda] a family secret [meaning: if you emailed me, I’d probably share], here are some other breads that make great gifts.

2) sweet treats

caramel photo via live, laugh, eat

3) cookies. I feel that an explanation here isn’t necessary. So many kinds of delish cookies to make…so little time.

4) handcrafted items: Ok, so these aren’t really from the kitchen, but I thought I’d include them anyway. It’s no secret that I’m a little obsessed with crafting.

12 days of giving logo copy

Day 4: Time

I know I’ve focused primarily on monetary gifts so far, but I also want to think about other ways to give. Time is probably one of the most valuable non-material possessions in our society today, and there are so many ways to share it.


  • shovel your neighbor’s driveway: this is the ultimate gift, people, especially if you live in a snow-heavy area. and maybe they will offer you some hot chocolate in return?!
  • meet friends for coffee: this is mutually beneficial, but sometimes just clearing your schedule can be a sacrifice.
  • find somewhere to volunteer: read books at your local library, serve at a local food pantry…the possibilities are endless.
  • host a dinner party: what better way to show your friends that healthful eating can be delicious…and who doesn’t like free food?

Other ideas?!

Happy Giving…