Saturday, 18 June 2011

housemate smoothie redux

okay I looked up the word redux and I might not be using it right, but the English language is ever changing.

For the longest time, I've been making housemate's smoothies in big batches on Sat. morning.  This week I was gone on the weekend so just made them in smaller batches and decided I like that!   This is partly because I changed my schedule.  I decided to work 75% time this summer, and boy is it nice.  It allows me to do my food prep in the mornings and mosey on into work at 10 am.  So there's time to make fresh smoothies every other day and freeze the second one.

These smoothies are good for SAD (Standard American Diet) guests who are used to eating sweet food.  They are too sweet for me.  I'm not sure I'd call them healthy because they are so sweet (too much fruit juice), but they are nutritious.

Ingredients for 2 smoothies (16-20 oz each):
18-20 oz (550-600 g) frozen fruit/berries
8 oz grape juice
8 oz fresh squeeze orange juice
2 Tbsp sunflower seeds or other seeds or nuts
3 oz spinach
supplements if desired (better than swallowing pills)

Blend the juice, nuts/seeds, spinach and supplements.  Add the frozen fruit and blend until smooth.  Pour into two tall cups.  I give one to housemate and freeze the other for tomorrow.  Note:  don't use flaxseeds or chia seeds if you are freezing.  They give it a jelly-like consistency when thawed.

Channa Saag (sort of), and some blathering

This is an example of how using a recipe as a guide, but not following it exactly, makes life much easier.  And this turned out great.  I decided I eat so much raw food during the week, I want to start cooking more on the weekends.  But it's summer so I only want quick and easy things.  I gotta get outside and play!   If you a member of Dr. Fuhrman's website, you get a weekly recipe (or you can see them all at the recipe center).  So I went through a bunch of those emails and picked out about 15 recipes that looked good and easy for this time of year.  This morning I went grocery shopping and bought the kale, collards and spinach because they are local (around here, local tastes way better!).  I also made my weekly pot of beans--didn't even bother to add anything to them because I figure I can flavor them as I go.  So I did my usual thing of picking 2 packages of beans (1 lb each) from my rancho gordo stock--I usually go for a big one and a small one of different colors, or else just pick random.  Today's was a big white bean and a little orange one.  I soaked them last night, and cooked them up this morning--can't get any easier than that.  By the way, that cooked up into about 9 1.5 cup servings that I put in tupperware bowls and froze for the week.

Okay, so time to pick a recipe.  How about Channa Saag (Spicy Chickpeas with Spinach).  Now all the substitutions start because no way am I going to work hard at this, it's just lunch!  And since I made so many substitutions I can call it a new recipe and post it.

Ingredients for a 1 large serving or 2 small:
1/2 medium onion
1 garlic clove
1-2 medium tomatoes or 1/2 can
1 green chili or other pepper (I didn't use any, don't like them anymore)
1/2 tsp garam masala (the recipe called for tamarind powder but my co-op doesn't have it, and I didn't want to buy a big jar of concentrated tamarind for one lunch recipe, so I used garam masala and boy was that good!)
1/2-1 tsp curry
---(the recipe called for coriander powder which I don't really like so I didn't include it)
8 oz of spinach (wo that's a lot!  amazing how it cooks down though).
1.5 cups beans (recipe calls for chickpeas, who cares what kind of beans you use!)
cayenne pepper if you want (not me!)
herbs from the garden (not in the recipe, optional):  I threw in a lot of cilantro and chives, and a little dill and rosemary (because they were there).

Water saute the onion and garlic until tender.  Add the spices and herbs and peppers, cook for a few minutes.  Add the spinach, cook until it wilts, a few minutes.  Add in the beans, cook until heated.   Serve.

It was a great meal after a hard mountain bike ride.  Really yummy!

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Great food in Springfield, IL!

Thanks to one of the members on the Fuhrman forums I got great advice for getting good produce while in Springfield this week.  The grocery stores are not especially memorable but the farmer's market is excellent!   And the season is further along down here so I got things I don't usually get in Wisconsin until July.  Awesome.  At this stand,

I got lettuce, kale, kohlrabi (yum!), lots of sugar snap peas (yummier!), and spring onions.  

And here I got strawberries!

I also got some mushrooms at another stand.  That plus my current stock of beans, seeds, carrots, and fruit will get me home tomorrow.

I have to remember that on my next trip.  Find the farmer's markets!

Friday, 10 June 2011

Some updates

I went to a conference a few days ago for fun, called the Big Learning Event.  There were some things that I didn't like about it, but one of the speakers blew me away.  She was the one I least expected to identify with, Lily Yeh, an artist--here's another link describing her work.  Her story is amazing, what she has done is amazing, and, even more amazing to me is she has inspired me to start painting--me, who has always said I have no aptitude or interest in art.   But not only that, she showed me how we can save the world.  I knew already that I have the knowledge to save the world (nutritarianism!)  but I didn't know how to proceed.  I've been stymied by this for the past 2 years.  This has led me to be unfulfilled in my job because it didn't seem as important (astronomy compared to saving the world).

Here is what I'm going to do:  free nutritional counseling.  I can only do it for 10 hours a week, but it will be my community service project.  I hope to target people without health insurance and with limited income.  But I will gladly advise anyone interested to improve their health, time permitting.  I'm going to start with a website.  I'm hoping this will allow my 10 hours per week to benefit a larger number of clients.  How will this save the world?   If we all become nutritarians, we help halt global warming (eating lots of meat is our biggest contribution!), we prevent bankrupcy of governments and people due to health care costs, and we improve our lives dramatically.

So I will be distracted for the next few weeks working on the website.  Does anyone know if you can get free web-hosting for community service projects???

Also, the reason I want to paint?  Because sometimes it's emotionally very difficult for me to be a nutritarian in a non-nutritarian world.  It's not an emotion I feel compelled to express in words or music.  but painting or drawing?  I can definitely see that.  I just need to let the emotions out.  I don't need to share them with anyone or process them.  I just want to release them.

What do you think of my counseling/website idea?  Good, bad?  Your feedback on the website will be valuable!

Oh yeah, my other update is, I decided I shouldn't make deals with the devil.  That's not good nutritarian behavior.  It's one thing to slip up, or be in a rare situation where compromise is a reasonable option and well within Dr. Fuhrman's "Life Plan" (10%) parameters, but I don't think I should plan to eat SAD food just for the fun of it, should I????

usual trip salads

I'm on a mini-vacation at a Golf tournament with friends.  Fortunately I have my awesome Coleman electric cooler since we couldn't get a fridge in our room (oops sorry about the bra in the picture, ha):

It plugs in both to the car and the wall socket.  

I contacted a nutritarian from the Fuhrman forums who gave me the scoop on where to get good produce in this town.   It seems the farmer's market is best.  I brought enough fruit to get me through the trip and will stock up with greens and veggies tomorrow at the farmer's market.   

Here are my salads the last few days.  The greens are lettuce and spinach.  For the breakfast salad, just add seed mixture, balsamic vinegar, 1/3 can of beans, and fruit of the day.  Lunch and dinner salads also have onions, mushrooms, cauliflower, broccoli, red cabbage, tomatoes (along with the lettuce, spinach, beans, seed mixture, and vinegar).  Oh, you can see my roommates' food to the top-right of the salad.  They are SAD eaters.  

I also am eating carrots and sugar snap peas.  Most of the produce ran out today so my new salads will be whatever I get at the farmer's market.  My fruit is super yummy:  Strawberries on Thursday, blueberries, and raspberries today, cherries and small peach tomorrow, and grapes and orange Sunday.  I had some grapes for dessert tonight and maybe will tomorrow too as there are more than enough for Sunday.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

a confession

I have a relationship with my BBQ sauce. It is delicious, and I love it a lot. But…it also contains high fructose corn syrup and modified corn starch among other things. Now, I’m pretty sure a couple tablespoons per day won’t kill me, but I’m always up for a challenge, and reducing the number of processed products I consume is a constant process.


Homemade BBQ sauce is surprisingly easy to make (recipe here), and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out; I might use a little less smoked paprika next time. I also added pineapple concentrate for a little sweetness.


I made a huge batch of this salad last week and ate it pretty much every day. It is fantastic to have a giant bowl of vegetables at your disposal after work…makes it easy to sneak in your veggie servings each day.

[In the mix]: broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, olives, cucumbers, wild rice, and homemade Italian dressing (olive oil, vinegar, Italian spices).


I also made almond milk ice cubes for my coffee; I normally add a little almond milk anyway, so now it won’t be completely diluted just because it is iced coffee.


Whenever I feel like life’s getting a little too measured, I do something random like making wall art out of paper towel tubes (design sponge idea). At the rate of my paper towel usage (probably not the most green friendly), this piece has the potential to go far…


In other news, it has been incredibly hot here lately, causing two temporary power outages at the hospital (thank goodness I was NOT in the middle of writing a chart note), and making me want to eat ice cream for dinner.


What are some things you’ve done lately to make life easier…or entertaining?


Monday, 6 June 2011

Motivation recommendations

I was asked what my latest book recommendations are for motivation and positive psychology/happiness.  I have the books listed in my "Recommended books" section at right.   At the top of the list are the why and how-to books on eating for health, then cookbooks, and at the bottom are motivation/positive pyschology books.  I just updated that list with a new one, Get off Your But, by Sean Stephenson and Anthony Robbins.    So now what do I recommend in what order?

If you don't want to read any and just want a 3-sentence summary it is this (see below for another useful take-home point #4):  1)  There are no excuses.  2) Just do it.  3)  Happiness comes from overcoming challenges, not from pleasure-giving activities (such as watching tv or eating ice cream).   Regarding point #1,  Get off your but has lots of inspirational stories.  Regarding point #2, You can read all the books you want but it finally has to come from you.  Regarding point #3, you will be very happy when you do make the changes.  It is very hard, no doubt about it, but you will overcome and that will bring you GREAT satisfaction and ultimately happiness.

If you want to read just one, I think I recommend Get off Your But.  It is very inspirational and has lots of activities to help you on your journey.

If you want to read more, I have them ordered by how I liked them but it is very personal, so you may not agree with my ordering.  I also would like to point out The Pleasure Trap, which is more science and psychology but it shows why we desire processed foods and why we should avoid them (this is available in both book and DVD).  It helps you understand that this isn't about you being weak and bad, but about the food being bad and dangerous.  Let me emphasize this as take-home point #4)  The food is bad, not you!

If you like to learn and to stay motivated, then I recommend all of these books.  What I do is buy the audio versions and listen to them on my ipod while doing my food prep.  I think this is fun.  And then I save my other enjoyable books for my night-time reading.

nutritional yeast and B12

Good thoughts on the USDA’s rollout of My Plate. Andrea made a really good point; the plate does NOT encourage non-processed food over processed food, but because the food industry is so huge, I have to say I’m not surprised.
I went to the Jolly Pumpkin, an Ann Arbor craft brewery with some friends this weekend. Definitely a fun place; they have a rooftop deck that is perfect for summer nights. And they use ingredients from sustainable farmers, organic growers and artisan producers, which is pretty fantastic.
[photo via b.rostad]
Sunday is always a big food prep day because I have pretty much zero energy to pack lunches or cook during the week. I experimented with this recipe for tahini curried carrot salad.
I’m not crazy about sweet vegetables, so I had to do a little improvising. I left out the raisins and added some spiralized cukes (this is the spiralizer I have). I think next time I’d leave out some of the maple syrup, too.
The recipe also calls for nutritional yeast, which is big in the vegan world because it contains vitamin B12.
Vitamin B12:
  • required for proper red blood cell formation, neurological function, and DNA synthesis; plays a role in fat and protein metabolism
  • bound to protein in animal products and is released by the activity of hydrochloric acid and gastric protease in the stomach; however synthetic vitamin B12 (aka that in nutritional yeast) is already in free form and doesn’t require separation
  • the body needs very little B12 on a daily basis; B12 is stored in the liver, so unless you have been a vegan for a long time without supplementation or have digestive issues or kidney disease, you don’t likely have a deficiency.
b12 .
  • amounts listed on a nutrition label are based on 6 µg/day; the nutritional yeast I have contains 40% of the daily value for B12 or 2.4 µg per tablespoon.
  • it is beneficial to get B12 from a variety of fortified sources because absorption can vary.
Do you eat animal products? If not, where do you get your B12?

Sunday, 5 June 2011

My deal with the Devil

I made a deal with the devil (devil-barbie) on Mar. 13.  We agreed that if I could eat perfectly for 12 weeks, I could have a day of eating SAD (Standard American Diet) food---well, in my case, that's vegan SAD food since I'm a vegan for other reasons than health.  By eating perfectly that means following Dr. Fuhrman's 6-week plan without overeating.  I outlined my program in this post.  I just realized I didn't quite make 12 weeks.  Wo, devil-barbie is clever--she miscalculated and told me 12 weeks was last weekend.  Okay, so I made it 11.5 weeks.  I'll double-check my calculations next time.  Also,  my SAD day turned into 2.  Then I had a hangover day yesterday, and today I feel great again and ever so happy to be back.  As usual, I don't think the lack of sleep and feeling yucky was worth it.  I'm amazed at how high I get from eating a white-flour tortilla (that was from a vegan burrito).  It really is true that processed grains have the same effect as sugar.  I also get high from decaff coffee and chocolate, not that I need to remind myself of that!   One of my treats was an oil-free granola and soy milk.  That's not even that bad, except for a relatively small amount of maple syrup, so I'm glad for that.  I could definitely make a healthy version of that with dates instead of maple syrup.

Will I do this again?  Well, I was chatting again with devil-barbie and we decided I should try to last until December 31, and have a SAD day then, and then join everyone else on Jan. 1 on having a hangover and starting over.  

I don't recommend this because you and I both could never return from SAD-land once we venture out, just like an alcoholic on a binge.  But it does make it easy for me to say no now and I hope for the next 6 months, knowing that it's not forever.  I find it much easier to say no to all SAD food than to figure out how much I can eat and still be healthy.  Plus it's much easier to train everyone else if the answer is always no.  But I guess I also like thinking that it's not forever.  I'm hoping this planned slip will go the way alcohol and caffeine did for me, just less desirable and less frequent over time until it just was no more.  Or maybe I'll just plan healthier and healthier slip-ups until they just become healthy treat days.  That's my hope!

Anyway, like I said, I am not presenting this as a behavior for you to emulate.  I'm just sharing that I'm not perfect.  I want to be honest about my successes and failures.  And if you want to give me advice for a better way, I welcome it!   I'm like you, just trying to eat healthy in an unhealthy world.

Update a week later:   I've had this feeling the last week that this deal with the devil idea is a really bad idea.  First there's the obvious reason that each time you eat SAD food, you may never return from it.  Talk about a slippery slope.   And second, it's just not good nutritarian behavior.  I think we should not give SAD food to ourselves as a reward.  I'm not saying I won't ever slip up in the future, but it should be my aim to not slip up.  I shouldn't plan to slip up.   I've also realized that you have to say no a lot, even in the nutritarian universe.  You have to say no when you've eaten enough, you have to say no to too many dates and nuts and fruit and beans, and even carrots.  You can eat too much of anything.   Once you have been off SAD food for several weeks, I'm not sure it's any harder to say no to that than to say no to too many pieces of corn on the cob, or cherries, or strawberries.    My SAD deviations the last few times started out as nutritarian deviations--too much of a good thing.  

Saturday, 4 June 2011

salad season + goodbye food guide pyramid

Things are starting to heat up around here, meaning many of us say goodbye to hot soups and hello to salads. I’m more than slightly excited about the variety of vegetables and fruit coming into season pretty soon.


spiralized salads: cukes, carrots, red onion, feta cheese + balsamic vinaigrette. you can get a spiralizer here.


waldorf salad: try the vegan-friendly homemade mayo.


classic potato salad: picnic staple…and not like the weird potato salad at the grocery store that looks unnaturally yellow. ugh.

potato salad

black bean salad: tomatoes, corn, black beans, cucumbers, red onion, and cilantro + olive oil and red wine vinegar.


apple and cherry salad: this one is a hit at dinner parties; the dressing is pretty fantastic.

joanie's salad

cherry tomato couscous salad: adding whole grains to vegetables is an easy way to make a side dish into a main course.

couscous salad

5 week fennel salad: this is called such because I made it 5 weeks in a row after discovering the recipe. It’s pretty addicting.



And I’m sure that most of you have seen My Plate, which replaces the former (and incredibly confusing) My Pyramid.

my plate my pyramid

While it’s not perfect, I think it’s a big improvement over My Pyramid. At least vegetables and fruit are given more of a presence. However, I like this model by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) even better.

pcrm plate

Half of the plate is composed of vegetables, which I think would be very beneficial for most of the population. You’ll also notice that there is not a protein group, which is due to the group’s conclusion that animal products are not needed for a healthful diet, and observation that protein can be obtained from grains and vegetables. I agree with this; I don’t have a problem with including meat in moderation, but as factory farming makes ethical meat less available, alternative sources of protein are definitely more attractive and affordable (read my thoughts on protein here and here).


This report by the PCRM is pretty interesting. Although the government is encouraging us to eat more servings of fruit and vegetables, more than 60 percent of agricultural subsidies in recent history have directly and indirectly supported meat and dairy production. Less than 1 percent have gone to fruits and vegetables.

So in other words, eat more vegetables and fruit but don’t expect the government to make them more accessible or affordable. Go figure.

Thoughts on the new plate? And any good salad recipes? I’m always expanding my recipe file in the name of creative vegetable dishes…

Hope it is warm + sunny wherever you are…