Monday, November 28, 2011

Conquering Holiday Food Demons

Tempting holiday treats are about to ambush you. You may have made it past Thanksgiving, but soon you will be confronted by catered parties, goodie plates from well-meaning neighbors, and grocery store promotions, including chocolates, eggnog, little sausages, piles of nuts and candies galore.

Luckily, it's not a battle of willpower, for that is a no-win conflict. Rather, actual physiological changes will help you beat the food bandits. Try the following 5 strategies to keep you on track in your healthy lifestyle through the New Year:
  • EXERCISE! Dr. Neil Barnard explains in Breaking the Food Seduction, that the brain has stations called "opiate receptors" where hormones that activate our pleasure centers attach. When we exercise, natural endorphins fill these receptors. But leave out physical activity, and the receptors are empty. Nature hates a vacuum and will try to fill this void with some other euphoria-producing substance so that we feel happy. Sugar is one such pleasure-producing compound. In other words, without exercise, cravings will sky-rocket! But just 30 minutes a day of physical activity will produce enough endorphins to tame the drive for sweets and other comfort foods.
  • EAT! Our bodies need a certain amount of nutrients and a given level of energy to function. When we "cut back" to keep from overeating and gaining weight, we deprive ourselves of essential requirements. That's when urges take over and willpower goes down the drain. So fuel yourself correctly to stave off unhealthy binges. Be sure to get lots of fiber, plant protein, and phytochemicals. Eating breakfast sets the tone for the entire day. Grabbing a nutritarian salad before a party diminishes your desire for junk food. Bringing a nourishing dish to a potluck insures that you have a wholesome option to eat. Focus on low-glycemic foods to keep your blood sugars stable, and you will not find empty-calorie options so seductive.
  • REST! Dr. Barnard notes that fatigue fuels cravings. Like most people, I am susceptible to energy-boosting sweets when I am overtired, thinking they will give me the recharge I need to keep going. It would be better to nap. In addition, regular exercise helps regulate our rhythms so we feel ready to sleep at bedtime. Caffeine, alcohol and animal protein foods disrupt our ability to repose. (Protein interferes with the production of serotonin that calms us.) Complex carbohydrates are a good choice for an evening meal.
  • RESET! Cycles influence all of us. For those who live in northern climates, the coming of winter signals not only darkness and cold, but a bio-rhythmic slowing of life. We feel more sluggish and tend to turn to heavier foods. Knowing this pattern for diminished activity and weight gain can help combat it. Instead of turning to greasy, meaty food for warmth, we can generate body heat through exercise. We can intentionally increase our exposure to light, and we can eat more plant proteins to prevent that slothful feeling. We can identify and avoid situations that trigger emotional eating by changing our routines and setting new traditions that foster loving and serving instead of eating.
  • SOCIALIZE! Most celebrations center on food. With a little paradigm shift, you can insure that your focus is the people, not the parfait. Enjoy your associations. Make it a point to nourish friends and family emotionally. If food is a remedy for loneliness, then reaching out is a better option than stuffing your face.
If you can follow these steps for 21 days, you can make it through the Christmas season, for we have an appetite memory of 3 weeks, according to Dr. Barnard. That means a food that was alluring to you will continue to be enticing until you have passed the 3-week mark. That's why most diets are broken in the first month. People who are able to go off sugar or animal products for an entire month are usually able to make a habit for life. For nutritarians, this is good news. Vegetables that seem unappealing at first will soon become pleasurable if they continue to appear on the menu for 21 days. Our food-memory will adjust in just a few short weeks.

To a healthy and happy holiday,

Tuesday, November 15, 2011


Greens, Onions, Mushrooms, Beans, Berries and Seeds are the foods that promote the greatest health, according to Dr. Joel Fuhrman, and we should eat them every day. So why not combine them into a tantalizing salad to enjoy as a staple on a regular basis?

1 bag (10 oz.) baby spinach
1/2 purple onion, chopped
6 crimini mushrooms, sliced
1 c. cannellini beans, cooked
1/2 c. Goji berries
2 cans (5 oz.) sliced olives
1/4 c. pumpkin seeds
Dr. Neil Barnard's Roasted Pepper Vinaigrette

To your health and happiness,

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Spice it Up!

Because nutritarians do not rely on meat or oil to flavor their food, they must depend more heavily on spices to create delectable, tantalizing appeal. One trick to creating appetizing dishes is to have a variety of spice mixes on hand that can be sprinkled on any meal to perk up the flavor. Below are uses and recipes for various spice combinations. (all spices in the recipes are in ground rather than whole form) You can tweak the ratios to your own tastes. Spices are available in bulk from places like Penzeys Spices, or My Spice Sage.

Spice Mix
Liquids to pair with
Related spices
Old World
Savory, aromatic
Squash, “Poultry” or “sausage” dishes, clear broth soups
Apple cider, vegetable broth
Poultry seasoning, stuffing spices
Make into a “sausage” seasoning by adding allspice and red pepper flakes
New World
Full-flavored, meaty
Grilled or roasted vegetables, stews
Broth, fruit juices, tomato sauces
Grilling mix

Warm, fragrant
Lentils, sweet potatoes, African & Middle-eastern dishes
Orange juice, tomato juice, broth
Garam Masala
Pumpkin Spice

Spicy, stimulating
Beans & rice, tomato-based dishes
Tomato juice, vegetable juice
Chili seasoning, Cajun spice
Make Jamaican by addition of allspice, thyme & dried hot peppers
Sweet, rich
Curries, Thai cooking, stir-fries
Coconut milk, pineapple juice
Curry powder

Appetizing, satisfying.
Pastas, vegetables soups
Tomato sauce
Italian Seasoning

Old World Spice Mix
2 Tb. each: thyme, sage, rosemary, marjoram, oregano, basil, garlic, onion
1 Tb. black pepper, tarragon, savory

New World Spice Mix
2 Tb. each: rosemary, marjoram, oregano, basil, parsley, thyme, onion, garlic
1 Tb. each: black pepper, paprika, chili powder

Moroccan Mix
2 Tb. each: cumin, coriander
1 Tb. each: cardamom, allspice
1/2 Tb. each: ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg
1 tsp. each: cloves, pepper (red or black)

Caribbean Mix
2 Tb. chili powder
1 Tb. cumin
1 1/2 Tb. paprika, black pepper
1 tsp. each onion, garlic, red pepper flakes, oregano
1/2 tsp. cayenne, optional

Asian/Island Mix
2 Tb. coriander
1 Tb. each: turmeric, fenugreek
1/2 Tb. each: cumin, ginger, pepper (black or red)
1 tsp. each: cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, ground mustard

Renaissance Mix
2 Tb. each oregano, basil, rosemary, parsley
1/2 Tb. each onion, garlic, thyme, savory

To your health and happiness,

Monday, November 7, 2011

Thanksgiving Menu

I'm focusing on the side dishes this holiday. My family is not nutritarian, so there will still be turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, but those traditional foods will have to compete with these colorful, tempting dishes:

Maple Cornmeal Biscuits
Jewelled yams
Festive Salad & Raspberry vinaigrette
Lemon-y Waldorf
“Candy” Corn
Green Beans with “sausage” and onion
Pies with Banana “Whipped Cream”

Maple cornmeal Biscuits From Happy Herbivore
1 c. cornmeal
1 c. whole wheat pastry flour
4 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
1 banana
½ c. non-dairy milk
4 Tb. Pure maple syrup

 Preheat oven to 425˚.Grease cookie sheet. Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt in a food processor for about 10 seconds. Add banana and process until flour is pebble-like. Transfer to mixing bowl and add milk and syrup, stirring until well-combined. Drop 12 biscuits 2” apart onto cookie sheet. Bake 7-8 minutes until barely crisp and slightly brown.

Jewelled yams
4 lbs. yams, baked                    ¾ tsp. cinnamon
2 apples, sliced                         ½ tsp. nutmeg
1/8 c. lemon juice                      ¼ tsp. ginger
½ banana, mashed                    ½ c. orange juice
¼ c. pure maple syrup               2 c. cranberries, fresh or frozen
¼ c. sucanat, turbinado, rapadura or date sugar

Peel & slice cooked yams. Toss apples with lemon juice. Combine banana, syrup, sugar, spices and orange juice to make a thin sauce. In a sprayed 9X13 pan, Layer ½ the yams, ½ the apples, ½ the cranberries. Repeat. Pour sauce over all. At this point you may refrigerate until just before mealtime. Bake at 350˚ for 30-45 minutes, adding apple cider to baste if liquid is all absorbed. Cool slightly before serving to allow sauces to thicken.

Festive salad from Green Smoothie Girl
1/2 c. sliced almonds
2 Tb. Agave or maple syrup
1/2 head red leaf lettuce
1 head boston, Bibb, or butter lettuce
1 can mandarin oranges, drained
½ c. craisins, currants, or pomegranate seeds

Dry roast almonds in a skillet over low heat, stirring frequently, until golden. Toss with agave. In a large bowl, toss remaining ingredients. Sprinkle with nuts. Serve with Raspberry vinaigrette.

Raspberry vinaigrette
2-3 Tb. honey or agave
¼ c. rice vinegar
¼ c. water
1 tsp. chia seeds
¼ c. raspberries (fresh or frozen)
1 Tb. Poppy seeds 

Blend all but poppy seeds in blender. Add poppy seeds and pulse.

Lemon-y waldorf
6 apples, chopped
5 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 c. cashews
1/2 c. currants or pomegranate seeds
10-12 oz. silken tofu
juice & zest of 1/2 lemon
1/4 c. pure maple syrup
leafy greens

Toss together apples, celery, nuts and fruit. In a blender, combine tofu, lemon juice, lemon zest and maple syrup. Pour dressing over salad, stirring just until coated. Serve over greens.

“Candy” Corn
1/2 c. white onion, diced
1 c. orange bell pepper, diced
1-2 Tb. Orange or pineapple juice concentrate
2 c. corn, fresh, frozen or canned
¼ c. agave, or pure maple syrup or 2 Tb. Molasses
Saute onion and bell pepper  in juice until tender. Add corn and heat through. Drizzle with sweetener and season to taste.

Green beans with “sausage” and carmelized onion
1 c. cooked pinto beans       1 egg or egg replacer
¼ c. breadcrumbs                ¼ c. 1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. sage                         1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. marjoram                 1/4 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. cayenne (optional)   1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
pinch salt                               3 cans green beans, drained

In a food processor, combine beans, eggs, breadcrumbs and spices. Blend until smooth. Form patties and fry like a hamburger. When cohesive and browned, break into crumbles and continue frying until crisp. Toss with heated beans. Garnish with onion slices that have been carmelized in apple cider by cooking over low heat until liquid is thick and dark.

PIE Crust #1 (No bake) from Dr. Fuhrman                    
1 c. almonds                                 
1 c. pitted dates                     
2 Tb. Chia seeds soaked in ¼ c. water for 15 minutes
1/3 c. dry oatmeal, processed to a flour in blender

Process chia seeds and water until they form a paste; set aside. Process almonds until very fine. Mix in oat flour. Add dates and process until finely chopped and mixed well. Add chia seed pasteand pulse to mix. Press mixture into a pie plate. No baking needed.

Chocolate Pie filling from Yummy Plants
1 1/2 c. dairy-free dark chocolate chips (Sunspire Organic)
1/2 c. maple syrup (use 1/4 c. for less sweet)
1 pkg. silken tofu (12 oz)
1 Tb. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. sea salt
Dash of nutmeg
Dash of cinnamon

Use a double boiler to melt the chocolate chips, stirring until creamy and lump-free. In a blender, mix tofu, syrup, vanilla and salt until smooth. Add melted chocolate to blender. Blend 5-10 seconds. Pour into crust and refrigerate.

Pie Crust #2 (baked) from Dr. Fuhrman
1 c. almonds
1 tsp. finely ground chia seeds
1 c. pitted dates
2 tsp. water

Combine almonds and chia seed powder in food processor. Pulse until finely ground. Add dates and water and process until mixture gathers into a ball. Press into a lightly-oiled pic tin. Prebake for 5 min. at 250˚ Fill and bake according to filling directions.

Pumpking filling
1/2 c. maple syrup, agave or honey
4 dates
1 c. cooked pumpkin puree
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
3 Tb. ground flaxseeds
3/4 c. vanilla soy or almond milk or lite coconut milk

Blend sweetener, dates and pumpkin until smooth. Add spices, seeds and milk and blend until well-mixed. Pour into pie crust and bake 40-45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Banana “Whipped cream” from Dr. Fuhrman
6 frozen bananas
1 c. non-dairy milk 

Blend until smooth and creamy

Have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

Wahoo! It works!

I just got my results back from the health fair at the gym: My calculated body age is 23! However, my actual calendar age is 48. The calculation is based on height/weight ratio, waist/hip measurements, and body fat percentage/BMI calculation.

I have been nutritarian for 10 months and feel as vibrant as twenty-something. Now I have tangible proof! My blood draw (blood lipids, iron, etc) looks good, too.

Here are my stats:
Cholesterol 152 (less than 200 is the recommendation)
Triglycerides 67 (should be below 200; extremely sensitive to diet)
HDL's (good cholesterol) 56 (the higher the better up to 75)
LDL's (bad cholesterol) 82 ("normal" ranges from 50 to 129)
Iron 113 (should measure between 37 and 145)
Blood pressure 130/70
Pulse 60
Height 5'10"
Weight 140 lbs.
Waist 32" (More than 35" is overweight)
Hip 37"
Body Fat 23.8% (For women 21-14% is fit, 25-31% is average; 32%+ is obese)
BMI 20.1 (Ideal is less than 23; 24 is overweight)

Without listing more numbers, I'll just say my hemoglobin and hematocrit look great! Many people believe if these are low, you should eat more red meat. But I don't eat any red meat at all and the readings are not sub-normal whatsoever. Another interesting indicator was the total protein. Very low values suggest malnutrition, while high values point to dehydration or chronic inflammation. Here again, my statistics were within a healthy range.

It certainly has been worth the journey to change my lifestyle. I'm not going back!
To your health and happiness,

Friday, November 4, 2011

Will You Spend 2% of Your Day on Your Health?

What is the value of your health? Is it worth investing 2% of your life? If you are willing to give 28 minutes a day (28 is 2% of 1440 minutes or 24 hours) to nutritious food, you could prevent and reverse life-threatening chronic diseases, such as heart disease, cancer, obesity and auto-immune diseases.

Here's how:
  • Substitute green smoothies for pop, juice and other beverages (5 minutes a day to make)
  • Eat beans and legumes instead of meat and dairy (3 minutes a day to prepare)
  • Consume a Hugh Maughn Gus salad every day instead of refined carbs like potatoes, breads, cereals, etc. (10 minutes to chop vegetables, 5 minutes to blend dressing)
  • Add sprouts to your oatmeal, smoothie, salad, or beans (5 minutes a day to soak and rinse)
Total time invested: 28 minutes. For less than 30 minutes, you could trade "sick and tired" for "vibrant and vivacious." If you're willing to give it a try, here's a little more detail about making the changes above:

For a delicious green smoothie, toss into a blender the following healthy ingredients:
  • 1-2 cups leafy green vegetables (kale, collard, spinach, cabbage, bok choy, parsley, cilantro, etc.)
  • 1-2 cups fresh or frozen fruit, including bananas, berries, stone fruits (pitted), tropical fruits and sub-acid fruit (tomato, cucumber)
  • enough liquid to blend (water or re-juvelac)
  • 1 Tb. omega-3 seeds (hemp, chia, flax)
  • any vegetable you have on hand
  • optional: juice and zest from one lemon or lime
  • optional: 1/2 avocado (for creaminess and satiation)
Beans and legumes can be as easy as opening a can and rinsing. But if you are preparing dried beans, spend your three minutes this way:
  • At bedtime, put 1 or 2 cups dried beans in a large bowl with twice as much water (1 minute)
  • In the morning, drain, rinse, and dump in a crock pot with twice as much fresh water as beans. Set on low for an evening meal or high for a mid-day meal (1 minute)
  • Drain and season (1 minute)
You can learn how to make a Hugh Maughn Gus salad here. Dress it with any of the fat-free healthy dressings from Healthy Girl's Kitchen.

Sprouting is easy!
  • In the evening, put up to 1/4 cup raw grains or seeds in a container and cover with water. 
  • Eight to twelve hours later, dump into a sieve and rinse. Leave in the sieve on your counter.
  • Every time you are fixing a meal, rinse the seeds again.
  • When little "tails" appear, use or refrigerate.
When you consider the benefits against the costs, you will see that the returns will be much greater than the investment.

To your health and happiness,