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Each week, when someone finds out that I eat plant-based, they say, “You don’t eat meat, dairy, or most processed foods?! What in the world do you eat?” I try to explain to them that I eat more variety NOW than I ever did before, but they still seem to think I’m deprived and going to starve myself. Pictures are worth a thousand words, they say. These pictures of my cupboards are my 1,000+ unspoken words. Every day, we choose health or sickness with our forks. I choose health.
My canned cabinet is about 2′ deep, stacked 2-3 cans high of every kind of bean you can imagine, plus a few other items, like roasted red peppers, mushrooms, sauerkraut, fire roasted tomatoes, pumpkin, cream corn, mandarin oranges, … Please note that I always drain and thoroughly rinse all my beans before using. I replace the flavor with my own seasonings. And I cook my own dried beans often in my crock pot and eat throughout the week.
Love making my own legumes in a crock pot with lots of fresh spices like basil, rosemary, thyme, etc. that I grow in a couple of large pots on my dining room table in front of a window. Nothing better than clipping my own fresh spices and adding them to my recipes!
Grains, grains, and more whole grains! Did you know that on a plant-based diet, 70+% of your plate should be whole grains? Yep! This group includes brown rice, millet, oats, barley, bulgur, quinoa, spelt, corn, and all products made from whole grains including bread, cereals, pastas, and more. Whole grains are filling but have very little fat. In countries where whole grains are staples, such as rural Asia, diabetes, heart disease, and certain cancers, are much less common than in the States and Europe. As you can see, we eat a wide variety!
Don’t judge me! It looks messy, but I know where everything is. Notice we eat lots of Asian noodles–rice stick noodles, Udon, etc.–with seaweed, rice wrap paper, and a number of tasty Asian sauces. I thank my Japanese family members for introducing me to these amazingly healthy flavors and tastes nearly 25 years ago!
We hit ALDI’S discount grocery for fresh produce about every-other week. Having 2 refrigerators (one out in the garage) helps us store lots of veggies and bags of apples, oranges, pears, mangos, etc.
Veggies Galore! These foods are loaded with vitamins and minerals, are very low in fat, and like all plant foods, have no cholesterol at all. These are just the ones I happened to have on hand. We eat a HUGE variety from week-to-week, depending on what’s available at the grocery store. One note, ALDI’S doesn’t have a big variety of veggies, but they do have plenty of the basics. For more variety, I make a weekly run to our local grocery store, Ingles, and get things like leeks, broccoli slaw, Napa cabbage, Bok Choy, chard, turnip greens, collards, sprouts, artichokes, radishes, etc.
I always keep lots of dried spices on hand to add tons of flavor to all my recipes. The 2nd picture is of spices I buy from a local shop that gets theirs from the PA Amish country. They’re fresh and cheap! The wooden storage rack is actually a washcloth rack turned on its side, that I found at a nearby thrift store for only $2! The spice containers fit in it perfectly!
My fresh spices on the dining room table-basil, thyme, rosemary, mint- are some favorites too!
Even if I knew my life would not be extended by one day, I would still make these healthy lifestyle changes, because now I know what feeling truly good at this stage in my life feels like. I don’t want to just live longer, but to live better.
I hope to be teaching Food for Life nutrition and cooking classes through Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine later this year. Stay tuned for details on classes coming to a venue near you in Spartanburg, SC and North Carolina in Polk, Buncombe, Hendersonville, and Rutherfordton. If all goes as planned, the classes offered will be:
- KickStart Your Health Series (once a week/ 4 or 7 weeks) – The Power of Food for Healthy Weight Management
- Cancer Prevention Series (once a week/ 4 or 7 weeks) – The Power of Food for Cancer Prevention & Survival
- Diabetes Initiative Series (once a week/ 4 or 7 weeks) – The Power of Food for Diabetes Prevention & Treatment
- Kids Health Series (once a week/ 4 or 7 weeks) – The Power of Food for Kids Health
- 1/2 cup low-fat vegan mayonnaise (great recipe in ‘Sauces & Dips’)
- 2 tsp. lime juice
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. paprika
- 1/4 tsp. salt
- 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp. ground chipotle chili in adobe sauce (picture below)
- pinch of ground cumin
- Blend all ingredients in blender until smooth. Enjoy!
This chipotle sauce is excellent as a baked potato topper, or a spicy dip for these Crispy, Oven Baked, Fat-Free French Fries from my friend at BrandNewVegan.com. Recipe at: http://www.brandnewvegan.com/recipes/crispy-oven-baked-fat-free-french-fries/
- 1 lb. bag of fresh chopped kale, washed
- 1 small onion, sliced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup veggie broth or water
- 4 Tbsp. soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp. sugar (I used unrefined sucanat)
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 1 tsp. ground ginger
The bag of kale looks like a tremendous amount, but it will wilt down within minutes to only about 5-6 servings.
In large stock pot, add veggie broth or water, onion, and minced garlic clove. Allow to sauté approximately 5 minutes. Add washed kale, cover pot, and simmer until wilted–about 5 minutes.
Once kale is wilted, and reduced dramatically in volume, add all spices, and cook uncovered for approximately 15 minutes, until tender and most liquid has cooked out.
I was skeptical about dairy-free sour cream because I’ve always loved the real thing, but this recipe is surprisingly delicious! Creamy and tangy wonderfulness!
- 8 oz. silk tofu
- 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
- 1 clove garlic
- 1/4 tsp. sea salt
- 1-2 Tbsp. water to get to the desired consistency
Blend all ingredients in blender until creamy, scraping down sides of blender as needed. Use in recipes such as Creamy Mushroom Stroganoff, or serve on baked potatoes, tacos, or enchiladas.
For dinner tonight, tried this Creamy Mushroom Stroganoff recipe with Braised Kale on the side . It was delicious! Perfect comfort food for the oncoming frigid temperatures outside! Find the recipe at: http://www.brandnewvegan.com/recipes/creamy-mushroom-stroganoff/
Gene Linked to Obesity Hasn’t Always Been a Problem, Study Finds
“It’s important to understand that genes work in many different ways. Certainly, some genes are dictators–the genes for hair or eye color for example. If they call for you to have blonde hair or brown eyes, that’s it. Those dictator genes won’t take no for an answer. But, the genes for cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, and a host of other illnesses are like committees. They don’t give orders, they make suggestions. And research suggest that changes in diet and lifestyle can keep those genes from expressing themselves. Like dry seeds on a desert floor, they simply lie dormant. If you don’t water them, they’ll never sprout.”–Dr. Neal Barnard
Quick, easy, and healthy dinner. Just added one of my favorite tomato sauces from a jar and all the veggie toppings we love!
I posted this picture on my big sister’s facebook page today. I’m so very proud of her! She witnessed my journey back to health over the last two years and was happy for me. But, she repeatedly told me she couldn’t do it because she hated vegetables. We sat in our mom’s kitchen approximately year ago, and I asked her if she really hated ALL veggies, or only some, and asked her to tell me some she liked. She reluctantly named a couple–potatoes & corn, if I remember correctly. Then I named a few, and asked her if she liked them. Some she did, some she didn’t. “Definitely not broccoli, cauliflower, green beans, or cucumbers!” After a couple of minutes, I told her she liked enough veggies, fruits, grains, beans, pastas, etc. to easily do this. Shortly after our talk, I asked her if she would do me a favor– just for me, if for no other reason. I wanted her to read The China Study. She had already watched the documentary, Forks Over Knives, a year or so earlier. Much to my surprise, I didn’t have beg or even ask twice. She was very willing to read it at that point, and that was the ‘Seal the Deal’ moment. She read it, got herself together, and changed her life and health. And I couldn’t be prouder!
Less than one year later, she’s down 50 lbs. and off almost all of her medications for allergies and hormonal/menopause meds. Previously, she had high blood pressure and the doctor wanted to put her on something for it. She was also anemic. Just like me, she experienced swollen and painful joints (our mother has Rheumatoid Arthritis), along with tingling and numbness in some areas. Now, her blood pressure and cholesterol are in excellent ranges, she is no longer anemic, the joint pain is gone, and her doctors are astounded. AND, her taste buds are changing majorly! She now likes many more veggies, including cucumbers and cabbage.
When I asked her to tell me how she feels now, compared with how she felt before, she said, “I think the most satisfying thing to me is that I feel like I’m on a positive path. I’m in control, my body is not controlling me. I feel so good! Like my body is finally working with me, and not against me.”
And, I’m one very happy little sister!
- 8 oz. package of tempeh
- 1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
- 2 tsps. liquid smoke
- 3 Tbsp. maple syrup
Steam block of tempeh in steamer basket (on stove 10 minutes OR in microwave approximate 6 minutes).
In medium bowl, combine all marinade ingredients, and mix well.
Let tempeh cool, then slice into strips. Place slices into mixture and allow to marinate. The longer, the stronger the flavor will be. I like to leave it in refrigerator overnight if possible, but at least 30 minutes is necessary.
Add strips to sauté pan with a little bit of the marinate liquid and cook over medium high heat until crispy on one side. Turn and brown on other side. Add more of the marinate and cook until caramelized. About 5 minutes each side is a reasonable estimate.