Eat Your Greens

Last January I posted Scared Straight which talked about my December 2016 Netflix binge-watching of health documentaries.  (You can read the article here. )  In early March, as many of you have read, I pulled the trigger and challenged myself to eating a mostly plant-based diet for 30 days.  It’s now January 3rd and I’m on day 307.  So I guess you could say it was a successful 30 day challenge.

It’s not been a hard transition, but there have been bumps and challenges.   Luckily many cookbooks abound, there are a lot of podcasts, blogs and Facebook groups dedicated to this type of eating.  It’s been helpful to have resources, places to go to have questions answered and get recipe ideas.   I think I picked a good year to adopt this way of eating.  It’s becoming more acceptable, more mainstream and, well, less weird.

There are a few things that make transitioning to this way of eating easier.  Here are some tips that you should know ahead of time.

  1.  Find an Expert.    Read the research and do some homework to figure out if this makes sense for you.  Some of the Gold Standards in the industry are Dr. Esselstyn’s research (http://www.dresselstyn.com/site/), Dr. Neal Barnard (https://www.facebook.com/NealBarnardMD/), Dr. Greger (https://drgreger.org/).  Check out Forks over Knives too (https://www.forksoverknives.com/).
  2. Find a Plan.  You can do this on your own but why re-invent the wheel?  Forks over Knives has a good plan, the No-Meat Athlete as well as Rich Roll all have planners and info to help beginners.  Just a caveat, I like to follow athletes that are plant-based because of the energy requirements for endurance sports.  Your needs may vary.
  3. Find Your Way to the Interwebs.  If you’re on Facebook type “plant-based eating” into the search bar and watch the recommendations pop up.  Not everyone will be your cup of tea but you can definitely get some great resources.
  4. Find People Who Cook Yummy-Looking Things.  Here are my favorites.  The Buddhist Chef, Oh She Glows, The Beaming Baker, BOSH!The Engine 2 Cookbook, Vegan with a Vengeance and VegNews (magazine).

So you’ve checked it out and still not ready to take the plunge?  Or maybe you just need to know what you can implement right now that will improve your nutrition but won’t require a complete  overhaul?  Or you have no desire to cut out meat or dairy but want to eat a little better?

If you do NOTHING else,  eat more greens, veggies and fruits.   What’s more? Double or even triple the amount you’re currently eating.  Fresh or frozen greens, veggies and fruits are nutrient dense, full of fiber and water and are low in calories.  You get a big bang for your buck.  So to speak.

Questions? Need more info?  Let me know.

Now go run!

Keli 🙂

 

 

 

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As y’all know, I’ve pretty successfully adopted a *mostly* plant-based diet and have eliminated eating animals and things that come from animals (you know; is a mother, had a mother, has a face, etc).   I say mostly because as I’ve shared before, sometimes cake happens.

I check off each day on my calendar and today marks 234, so almost 8 months.  I’ve made it through dinners out, parties, birthdays, bar-b-ques, camping on the lake and a 10 day trip to Hawaii.

Dining out is tricky so we eat in more than we used to.  And since my family won’t eat rice and beans for 4 nights in a row like I will, I cook.  But even a plant-based eater can get in a rut so I have begun to expand my repertoire.

And I like recipes that don’t require hours in the kitchen.   Here are a few new sites that I’m checking out.

  • The Buddhist Chef (https://www.thebuddhistchef.com/) – A classically trained chef who specializes in vegan and cruelty-free recipes & cooking.
  • BOSH! (https://www.bosh.tv/) – 100% plant-based and vegan.  Recipes are visually stunning and available to cooks of any level.
  • Minimalist Baker (https://minimalistbaker.com/recipes/vegan/) – Recipes that have 10 ingredients or less and take 30 minutes or less to prepare.
  • Pamela Salzman, Ktichen Matters & Recipes (https://pamelasalzman.com/) – She’s a certified holistic health counselor and teaches natural foods cooking classes.  **Not vegetarian or plant-based but I’ve modified a few recipes with success..

Try out some recipes and let me know what you think!

Keli 🙂

The Daily Dozen

I’m a big fan of Dr. Michael Greger.  He’s a physician, author, and internationally recognized speaker on a number of important public health issues. His nonprofit, NutritionFacts.org is a science-based, non-commercial website to provide free daily videos and articles on the latest discoveries in nutrition.  If you’re an information nerd like I am you’ll find this stuff fascinating.

In his book “How Not to Die” (http://NutritionFacts.org/book) he shares his “Daily Dozen”, which is Dr. Greger’s list dentifying the healthiest, nutritious foods to eat and how many servings of each we should try to consume every day.  (Technically there are 10 foods but he includes water and exercise and 11 and 12).

He also has a free app, Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen that you can download (for iPhone and Android phones).  I use it as a reminder to include these healthy foods/habits every day and some folks actually check off the boxes available to track their servings.

It’s a simple way to be mindful of what you’re eating and helping you stay on point. And I like simple.

Now go run!

Keli 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Say Cheez

Since adopting a plant-based diet almost 6 months ago I recently stumbled across something called cashew cheese.  It’s also called cashew cream.

Yum!

It’s has a soft cheese-like consistency (think hummus or pub cheese) and depending on how you season it can lend itself well in mexican (topping a taco), italian (cashew ricotta anyone?) dishes or used as a spread on a vegan burger or grilled portobello mushroom.

Apparently, there’s a whole plant-based cheese movement going on and you can find recipes for the basic cheese that I make online.  This recipe I found at http://www.thefullhelping.com/go-to-cashew-cheese-recipe/.  I’ve also seen more classically flavored cheeses like blue or cheddar.  This Cheese is Nuts! is a newer cookbook that I’ve heard about but still haven’t dived deep into.

Again, you can buy non-dairy cheeses at the store but making your own eliminates the processing part of the equation.  You make it, you know what’s in there.  It’s why if you like cookies and cakes, homemade is always the better option. You control the ingredients.

Cashew Cheese Spread

  • 1 generous cup raw cashews, soak over night in water to cover them
  • 2 T lemon juice (less or more to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp.  Garlic powder, Chili Powder (skip the Chili Powder if using for italian)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Water (1/8 to /1/4 cup)
  • 2t Nutritional Yeast (gives it a cheesy taste and yellow color)  I buy it at Safeway, near Bob’s Redmill stuff or in bulk at Whole Foods or at Trader Joe’s
  1. Drain the soaking cashews (soaking them softens and plumps them).
  2. Add all ingredients to the food processor or blender (I have a Ninja).
  3. Blend, scrape the sides as needed, until you get a hummus-like consistency.
  4. Be patient, you want it to be smooth, blending and scraping takes about 5 or 7 minutes.
  5. Taste.  Add more spices if you like.
  6. Move to a bowl with a tight fitting lid and store in the refrigerator. It lasts 4 or 5 days.

 

Use it as you would any other cheese spread.  To thin it out for use as a cheese sauce on anything such as roasted veggies, warm up a few tablespoons of water, add a few tablespoons of the cheese and mix.  Viola.

Enjoy.

Now go run!

Keli 🙂

 

 

 

Vacay the Plant-Based Way

I just returned from a 4 day camping trip at the lake.  I love camping.  We water ski, tube, swim, hang out with friends and are able to unplug and relax.  Then there’s the food;  BBQing chickenor steak for dinner, dogs for lunch, eggs and bacon for breakfast, cheese and crackers to nibble…

Oh right.  That was last year.  After committing to a plant-based lifestyle earlier this year I had to completely re-think my camping strategy.  Because I not only had to feed myself but had to feed the family, who are NOT plant-based, as well.

So I did what I do best.  Planned it out and cooked most of the food at home to be heated up at the campsite.  And I kept it very simple because camping when it’s over 100 degrees doesn’t lend itself to standing over the stove or bbq.

  • Ground turkey tacos for the family, crumbled tofu for me.  I made each the same way; taco seasoning, canned green chilis, crushed tomatoes, a few chipotle peppers in adobo sauce for a kick.  That was one dinner, maybe a lunch.
  • A huge batch of brown rice for the tacos.
  • Refried beans that I made earlier in the week.
  • Chicken apple sausages for the family.  Vegan burgers for me.
  • Salad fixings.
  • Sandwich fixings.
  • Bread for sandwiches, taco shells for tacos.
  • Pasta noodles for Jack.
  • Soba noodles with spicy peanut sauce for Brad and myself.  This would go over a salad.  Enough for dinner and lunch.
  • Cereal for me and the family, eggs for Brad.
  • I also grilled up 2 large pans of mushrooms, onions, peppers and sliced zucchini.  I thought this would be great on sliced baguettes for either lunch or dinner with avocado.
  • Chips, crackers, hummus, salsa, guacamole, nuts, raisins, etc.

So how did it go?  We all know that planning and the application can be two very different things.

We did have to do some food re-org for Jack so after at trip into town to the market we were set.  And we had one dinner disaster on the second night.  I made beans and rice and corn but it was hot outside and I just threw it all together in a pot so it looked and tasted like what I imagine prison food would be.

But other than that, all was good in the camping hood.

So what about the meat?  The bbq?  The lovely and delicious smells wafting from my friend’s campsites?  It smelled divine, let me tell you.

But what I’ve found at 118 days into this, is that even if something smells good, like a steak from over at Dave’s campsite,  I don’t have a desire to eat it. I have other very tasty options that make me feel good and that I really enjoy.  (Except for that crappy mush that I made the second night.  Bleh.)

So overall I consider my camping trip a success.  I mean, thank goodness that Lagunitas IPA is made from plants or else this would be a different post altogether.

Now go run!

Keli 🙂

 

A Simple Swap

Our family loves Mexican food so Taco Tuesday happens a few times a week.  But with this whole plant-based thing I’ve got going on I had to find an end-around to the typical ground turkey or beef or grilled chicken.

Say “Hey” to my little friend the garbanzo bean. (Insert fancy music).

Garbanzo beans (also called chickpeas) are a legume and are very versatile.  They can be mushed, mashed, smashed, chopped and roasted, adding texture and a nice flavor to any dish.  Plus they pack a lot of oomph.  A half cup serving will get you 6 grams of fiber, 7 grams of protein, magnesium, iron, folate and a serving clocks in at only 120 calories.

The sodium content in regular canned beans can be high but you have options.  Rinse regular beans well before using, buy no-salt added beans or set a pot of water to boil and cook your own from dried.  The latter being my favorite method because the beans stay firmer.  More firm.  But for quick and easy, canned works.

So what to do next?  How do you make garbanzos work in a taco? Well, like this.

  • Garbanzo beans (1 can or 1 cup cooked)
  • 1/2 onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup cilantro
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 small can diced green chiles
  • Cumin, Garlic Powder, Red Pepper Flakes, Salt and Pepper
  • olive oil – 2 tsp
  1. In a heated skillet or cast iron pan add the olive oil
  2. Add the onion and garlic, saute for about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add garbanzo beans, saute for a few minutes.
  4. Turn off the heat, transfer garbanzo bean mixture to a bowl.
  5. Take potato masher and, well mash them.  If you don’t have a potato masher use a fork.  You want to break them up so they are crumbly in texture.  Don’t worry about the papery outer part of the garbanzo beans.  If you want to remove them do so as you mash, otherwise they are fine to stay in the mix.
  6. Note:  Mash, don’t mush.  You DO NOT want a paste.
  7. Set aside.
  8. Put your skillet or cast iron pan back on a  medium heat.  Add the tomatoes, chiles and spices to your liking.
  9. Add the garbanzo mixture back to the pan.  Feel free to add some water if your mixture seems too thick. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
  10. Sprinkle chopped cilantro on top and you’re good to go.

(You can also really amp up the flavor by adding a diced jalepeno pepper (where on earth is my tilde when I need it?) or a few chopped chiles in adobo sauce.  In a pinch you can even skip the spices and use a packaged Taco seasoning mix.)

Once the mixture is to your liking use it as a filling for tacos with brown rice, chopped cabbage,  green onions, radishes and avocado.  Wrap it up in a burrito or use it in a bowl.  Whatever works.

Now go run!

Keli 🙂

Power to the Plants

A plant-based diet is one based on fruits, vegetables, tubers, whole grains, and legumes; and it excludes or minimizes meat (including chicken and fish), dairy products, and eggs, as well as highly refined foods like bleached flour, refined sugar, and oil.

Yesterday marked the end of a 30-Day Challenge.  I committed to eating a *mostly* plant-based diet for 30 days.  No meat.  No dairy.  Yes, that includes cheese.

I was very deliberate about the *mostly* part.  Because the reality is, I was not sure if I could do it.

Wait. Rewind.

The week after my 50th birthday, I started cleaning up.  No, not the house, I started cleaning up my diet.  It had been a few weeks of celebratory eating and drinking and I was feeling it.

So I did what I usually do; planned and shopped.  You know, fruits and veggies, lean protein, etc.  Having good food in the house because it helps to have the right tools for the trade, so to speak.   And then I read that Bob Harper had a heart attack.  You know, the Biggest Loser trainer, Bob Harper.  Super healthy.  Super fit.  WTF??

That threw me because he seems to be really healthy.  Eating right, exercising.  But sometimes that’s not enough.  Genetics can be a bitch.  It reminded me again that I rolled craps on the Genetic health dice.

But  after the Bob Harper thing I watched a few more documentaries, listened to some podcasts, followed some athletes who are plant-based and one evening decided that was it, I was going to try it for a month.  It was one of those times where I went to bed, then got up out of my bed, came down the hall to where Brad was watching Sports Center and asked him if he’d be on board trying it for a month.  I had to promise to shop, cook and make sure he didn’t starve to death but he agreed.  Then I wandered to Alexa’s room asking her the same thing.  So I got down to business.

Doing some more research and reading I came away with two schools of thought.

  1. Go all in.
  2. Start slow.  Eliminate meat first, get used to that for a while.  Then remove dairy, etc.

One pod-caster said it took him a year.   I don’t do well with long drawn out plans so I figured option 1 was the ticket.  The only thing that would put a wrench in my plans was if I was not able to sustain my level of activity.  I still had to have enough energy to run 5 days a week, teach boot-camp 4 days, work and be a mom and a wife.   If not, I’d have to re-adjust.

I mean, it was just for a month.  What’s the worst thing that could happen?  Vitamin B12 deficiency, beriberi, starvation?

I started on March 4th.  The first thing I had to do was pull some recipes together.  Soups were made, a pot of beans simmered, rice prepared, salads made, menus put together.  Like any healthy eating plan the devil is in the details and you have got to have a plan.  What would you eat, when would you eat it, how would you fuel your body.

I kept a journal for a few days because I knew that I wanted to revisit the early stages honestly.

Day 4

I woke up hungry.   And at 3:00 am.  Tuesdays are run days and I knew that I couldn’t run on an empty stomach.  Because it wasn’t just empty, it was hollow.  So I made a bowl of instant plain oatmeal with some raisins tossed in and cinnamon sprinkled on top.  It’s a usual pre-long run breakfast so it did the trick, even for a 6 miler.  The run was fine.  It took me a long mile to get warmed up but I felt fine at the end.

Overall, I’m still not feeling great.  Not what I expected.  I expected to feel really good, but I’m kind of headachy and have that hollow feeling again.  So I did some reading (yes, Virginia, there’s a lot to learn) and figured out that I’m leaning too much on veggies, fruits and grains.  I have to add more starchy veggies and fats.  This is good to know.  Grabbing some peanut butter on my apple and a whole grain tortilla right now.

Day 5

Tried an almond-milk latte from Starbucks.  Rethinking this whole goddamn thing.

Day 6

It’s a run day and I wake up hungry.  I have a 6 mile run so I fuel up on oatmeal before I head out.  I’m not fast but not slow and I don’t feel like I’m starving.  Good news.

But I’m dragging, and I’ve been dragging since the start.   So I hit the Internet and Google  “I started a plant-based diet and feel horrible”.  Apparently it’s common to feel like crap.  Some of the things I can expect are feeling tired, flu-ish, foggy and not quite myself.  Good to know I’m not alone.

Because I’ve cut out a lot of the processed foods, meat and dairy I imagine I’m detoxing.   It does not feel good.  At all.

Day 9

Today was a 9 mile run so I made pasta and veggies for dinner the night before.  Carbo loading and all that. I let the family add their own cheese, mine was cheese-free.  The meal was delicious and it adequately topped off the tank for my long run.  I felt strong.  After the run I had leftover curry and greens for breakfast.

Day 10

I am lucky that I enjoy cooking.  If I didn’t this would be very hard to do.  The downside is that I’m doing a lot of dishes and I have to constantly sweep my floor and clean my countertops.  I’m a messy little cook.

That was my last journal entry because by that time I didn’t feel like crap anymore.  I wasn’t starving and I had figured out what I could make that most of my family would eat.    In fact, I started to feel good.  Lighter, if that makes sense.

It became easier to eat because if you’re not eating meat or dairy, you’re taking a lot of variables out of play.   At a restaurant, for example, I will have the beans and rice with corn tortillas, no cheese.  See, easy decision making.

Now, I’m no saint, I still enjoy wine and beer, found a cashew milk ice cream that I have to hide from my daughter, and like to grab a handful of tortilla chips or BBQ lays.  Well, maybe two handfuls or a small bowl.  See, this is where the *mostly* plant-based part of the challenge comes into play.

I successfully ate out at a few restaurants, survived a lovely buffet at a Bat Mitzvah and was able to maintain my running and boot-camp classes.  In fact, there was no impact on my running at all.

One major benefit is that my family eats better.  I will send Alexa to school with rice and beans or a curry dish for lunch.   She’ll eat the pasta shells made with tofu “ricotta” and the creamy red chard linguine.    I figure if I make healthy plant-based meals at home and they eat what they like when they go out or we order in, that’s a good compromise.  For example,   Brad “meats” on me at his weekly business lunches and I still make the foods that they like.  If it’s scrambled eggs or a turkey and cheese Panini, I’m ok with that.

So now that my 30 days are up what’s next?  I decided that I’d extend it for another 30 days.  Primarily because I don’t have desire to eat another way.  That may change and I’m not vowing to never eat animal products ever again.  But for now, I’m good.

I’m going to add a tab to the blog page for plant-based stuff.  Recipes, resources, FAQs, etc.  That way if anyone is interested they can check it out.

Now go run!

Keli