Saturday, December 27, 2014

Easy and good mushroom stroganoff

This started as a simple breakfast dish, and only got a little more complicated as I improved it.  It takes about 10 minutes to prepare and to me, tastes heavenly.

Ingredients for one person's breakfast (I measured today just for you):
~4 oz mushrooms
~6 oz spinach and/or arugula
4 oz soy yogurt
a little less than 1/4 tsp onion powder
a little less than1/4 tsp garlic powder
rounded (i.e., a little more than) 1/2 tsp oregano
rounded 1/2 tsp tarragon
rounded 1/4 tsp dill
rounded 1/2 tsp paprika

combine the mushrooms and spices and 1/2 cup water and cook a few minutes.  Add the spinach and arugula and cook a few more minutes until they are to desired consistency.  Add water as needed, or let it burn off as needed.  Add in the soy yogurt last and serve.

Note:  if you don't mind it taking 20 minutes to prepare, use real onion and garlic, chop and cook up at the beginning with the mushrooms.

Beet Chickpea Salad

This is inspired Dr. Fuhrman's Greek Chickpea Salad, but modified so much I think I can call it my own.  Plus I mainly just want to remember what I did which is why I'm posting here.  I modified it because I don't like store-bought tomatoes in winter, and I wasn't in the mood for a potato, and I was in the mood for a beet, and wasn't in the mood for nuts, and other random reasons.

~2 cups cooked chickpeas or 1 can is fine
1 beet, chopped and steamed
1-2 Tbsp finely chopped onion
1 red bell pepper
2 Tbsp spicy pecan or other flavored vinegar
1 large granny smith apple or 2 small-medium
chopped cilantro
a head of lettuce chopped

Combine everything except the lettuce.  serve the mixture on top of lettuce.   I'll try to remember to snap a picture tomorrow when I eat another serving.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Cold Slaw

That's what I thought it was called when I was a kid.

I made a recipe today from the Fuhrman Forums called Super Slaw.  I modified it enough that I hope it's printable here--that's why I'm posting, so I don't forget what I did.  It's not that different from what I've made before here.  I can't find my more recent inventions which are much simpler (cabbage, carrots, orange juice and chia seeds).    I didn't measure anything so these quantities can vary by a factor of 2.  I just went by taste.

2-3 ripe pears or apples or some of each
3-4 cups shredded carrots
3-4 cups shredded cabbage
1/2-1 cup soy yogurt
1/2 cup currants or raisins
1 Tbsp spicy pecan vinegar
1 Tbsp riesling raisin vinegar
2 medjool dates--soak in the soy yogurt for a while if you think of it and they will soften up
1/4 cup toasted pecans (I cooked them in an initially unheated oven with the temp set at 350 for 10 minutes--half that time they probably weren't even warm).

Shred the apples, carrots and cabbage in a food processor or buy them already shredded.  Add the currants.  Combine the soy yogurt, dates, and vinegar in a blender and blend until smooth.  Take a taste of this--it's yummy.  Combine with the rest of the salad and add the pecans.  Super good.

"Pumpkin Pie" ice cream (without the pumpkin)

This was my favorite holiday treat this year.  The two things I miss most from the SAD world are pumpkin pie and peanut butter cups.  But I think I have a good substitute for both (the latter is still in my mind).  I made a half-recipe of StraightUPFood's Pumpkin Pie and made it into muffins with the crust at the bottom.  It was good, and next time I'd make a quarter recipe since I'm the only one to eat it.  Hmm, I wonder if it would be better with the butternut squash too.  Pumpkin is not very tasty on its own.

I like this ice cream even better than the pumpkin pie and it's less calorie-rich.  It was inspired by Carol on the Fuhrman forums.

4 oz frozen cooked butternut squash (I baked mine)
1 frozen banana
1 medjool date
1/2 oz walnuts
1/2 cup soy milk
1 tsp vanilla or scrape in some vanilla bean
1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice (it was actually good without)

Put it all into a high-powered blender.   Let it sit for about 10 minutes so the frozen stuff isn't super hard.  Then blend up.  you might have to walk away again for a few minutes and let it sit (blender off) and thaw some more.  Blend it up nice and smooth.  It tastes like the decadent pumpkin pie frozen custard that I used to get.

Note:  If you don't have a high-powered blender, you could try making it in a food processor.  Or in a low-powered blender add more soy milk and another date and a little more pumpkin pie spice and call it a milkshake.

Here are the ingredients in the blender:

I used vanilla bean which you can see as the black specks.

Here's 1 yummy serving (makes 2 and I eat them both for a meal).

Friday, December 12, 2014

Dec. 12 food

B:   banana and 2 walnuts.  cooked mushrooms and spinach.  raw carrot and kohlabi slices.  some frozen grapes.

L:  at a friend’s house (more below).  lentils and roasted cauliflower on soba noodles topped with a tahini miso sauce.   cookie and small orange.

D:  big salad with lettuce, grapefruit pieces, and spicy pecan vinegar.  sliced carrots and kohlrabi while making the salad. 1 flax cracker.  Dessert was a small bowl of frozen blueberries, cherries, and pomegranate seeds and soy yogurt.

E:  Monkey Bar Gym.  and a 30 minute walk outside.

1.  I don’t always eat that for breakfast, just happen to have some good bananas right now.
2.  A group of 2 friends and I started up a “Dharma Friends of Animals” group and we’re having our first meeting (a potluck) on Sunday.  We had lunch at Lynn’s to plan the meeting.  We’re all vegans.  I came out to Lynn a few weeks ago and said I don’t like salt, oil and sugar in my food.  She loves to cook so thought it would be a fun challenge.  The meal was good and only had a little sodium in it, from the miso, and a little maple syrup in the cookie (I forget that people don’t think of that as sugar).  The fat was from almond and tahini.  The cookie wasn’t very sweet so I think the amount of sugar was acceptable—and it tasted better too.  Funnily enough though, I liked the little orange even more!  It was bursting with flavor.  For the potluck, I will have to exercise willpower and not eat all the decadent vegan food.  They are bringing moussaka and sweet potato pie (and probably vegan ice cream and whipped cream) and will have a bunch of fancy vegan cheeses and crackers.  None of that will fit in with ETL guidelines.  I’m going to bring the Greek chickpea salad.  I think I’ll bring some fruit salad too to keep me away from the pie.  ooh, and some yogurt.
3.  I made the sesame flax crackers today and they were good!  thanks Kathy and Claudia for the suggestion!
4.  I wasn’t that hungry for dinner.   Our lunch serving probably had a cup of noodles and a cup of lentils.  So salad was enough for dinner.  I love the frozen berries and yogurt!
5.  At the gym, today was the “body power” class, which is held on MWF.  This is the one that scares me because of my back.  I can feel the exercises (esp. with the kettle balls) on my back during class, but so far, the sensation goes away after a few hours.  I’m hoping that building up strength and losing weight will fix the problem.  My back is probably the biggest threat to my planned backpacking trip next Fall.  Well, that and not eating right.  They are kind of related.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Dec 11 food logs

Breakfast:  banana and 2 walnuts.  cooked mushrooms and spinach. 3 raw carrots.

lunch.  1 raw carrot.  1/4 small butternut squash (cooked yesterday), BBQ beans and greens (cooked yesterday), salad with dressing from yesterday (orange, mango, grape, seeds).  frozen grapes for dessert.

Dinner.  1/4 small butternut squash, BBQ beans and greens, salad and dressing.  dessert:  frozen cherries and blueberries with soy yogurt.

Exercise:  1 hour class at the Monkey Bar gym (torture).

1.  It was an easy food prep day since everything was made yesterday.  I just had to make the salad (lettuce and orange bell pepper and a little raw red onion).
2. This time of year you can get fresh walnuts in the shell.  I get them raw from and they are the best I’ve ever tasted.   
3.  I don’t like flax seed.  It slimes everything.  But I’m open to suggestions if anyone has any.  In the meantime, I decided to try out some hemp seeds in the shell from  They are really crunchy and good toasted.  They are probably an acquired taste because of the crunchy shell but I like them.  I just eat them alone.  1 Tbsp of the hemp seeds has only about 1/2 the omega-3 fats as 1 Tbsp of flaxseed.  I’m happy to eat 2 Tbsp.  I also have the shelled hemp seeds, aka, hemp hearts.  Those are good blended into milks and creams for recipes—I use them instead of cashews.  
4.  A local farm here specializes in growing carrots and supplies my co-op with fresh carrots from about Sept. - Mar.  They are really good so I eat a lot of them.  I should rename myself the carrot lady.  When I saw my relatives a few weeks ago they were alarmed by my orange hands and feet.  I told them I was alarmed by their pale hands and feet.

5.  the frozen berries and yogurt are fun because they yogurt freezes.  I don’t know why that is fun but it is.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

6 week plan baby!

I rejoined the Fuhrman forums and started a journal today for my 6-week plan.  As I said there I'm going to keep doing it until I lose my 21 lbs.  And then keep doing it afterwards because it has everything I want to eat on it.

I don't think I'll have the energy to post my meals in both places.  But I did today:

Breakfast:   two walnuts and a banana.  I was hungry as I didn't eat until after my yoga class and grocery shopping

Steamed mushrooms and spinach.  I love this.  It tastes salty to me.  According to cronometer the spinach only has 89 mg of salt in it.  It tastes like more. 

I also ate some frozen grapes.

Lunch:  I snacked on raw carrots and a few more of those grapes while preparing BBQ beans and greens from Plant based katie.  I used carrot and celery juice so I only put in one big medjool date instead of 5 in the recipe.   I ate a big bowl of the beans.


I made a really good salad dressing from a couple of small mandarin oranges, and some frozen mango and grapes (let them thaw a bit), and sesame and hemp seeds and vinegar.  The only problem is, it seemed like a lot of fruit went into that dressing.  I didn't measure or count up the calories, but it would certainly use up my allotment of fruit for a meal.  I might rather have some fruit for dessert than in my salad dressing.  so I may just go with the flavored vinegars as my dressing at least some of the time.

I cooked up a small butternut squash and had half of that with my beans for dinner and a little soy yogurt.

Exercise:   yoga class.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


Today I brought up the juicer from the basement after 3 years or so.  I find this humorous.  I thought I had given up on juicing carrots, though I make it a policy to never say never.

I juiced a pound of carrots and half a head of celery.   I put that in my beans to cook them.  This is a stealth way to get salt in your food!   According to cronometer, 1 cup of celery juice has 340 mg of sodium.  and it did have a taste of salt in it and it was good.  (My beans usually last 3 days so this is an acceptable amount of extra sodium).  I was going to cook up some eggplant but my eggplant wasn't good, so I just went with a bunch of collards and kale from the freezer (summer garden produce!), and onions and tomatoes and mushrooms.  I blended the tomatoes to make it creamy.   It was good and very Fuhrmanesque.  And housemate even wanted some because it didn't have anything she doesn't like in it.

Then I made a dressing I've been thinking about for a few days since I bought some frozen mango.  This has 2 sumo oranges (small and easy to peel and no seeds!), mango, 1 Tbsp sesame seeds, and 2 Tbsp hemp hearts.  I added enough mangos so that when blended it made about 18 oz.

That fits nicely into 3 6-oz bell jars for three days worth of dressing.  It's creamy and delicious.

Oh, and this is really funny.  I am sad to throw out carrot pulp but I also don't want to eat gross things.  I tasted it and was surprised that it still had some sweetness so I don't consider that gross.  I thought okay how about flax crackers.  I dislike flax seed, not the taste, but how it makes everything I put it on gooey.  so I hardly ever eat it, even though it's highly recommended.  I thought I'd give this a try.  I mixed the carrot pulp with 3 Tbsp of ground flax seeds and one date.  I made three patties and baked them in the oven (350 for 30 minutes).   I thought it tasted good.  It could be a good pre-exercise food since I am hungry then but don't want to eat much.  I'll see how I like it tomorrow and the next day.  

food log following ETL

Here is a day of logging food following Dr. Fuhrman's 6 week plan (6WP) outlined in his Eat to Live (ETL) book (click to enlarge).

The logs from a few posts ago were McDougall's Maximum Weight Loss (MWL) plan.   Here was another.

In today's log, I separated the foods into the way Fuhrman recommends:  about 1 lb of raw veggies, 1 lb of cooked, 1 oz of nuts and seeds, 1 cup of starch.   But the foods were actually combined into meals.  For example, I made a mushroom stroganoff (very good!) with lots of the cooked veggies and yogurt with chia seed in it--that thickens it up and gives me some omega-3.   The squash, banana, walnuts and a splash of soy milk went into a pudding that was delicious.   The oranges and juice and hemp seed and sesame went into a salad dressing for a salad, also delicious.  I finally have a taste for that sesame flavor--used to hate it.

So which one do I like better, the Fuhrman 6WP or the MWL?  I never got over my taste for fat so the 6WP wins for me.   The 6WP day was 15% fat and the MWL day was 6% (7.5% on the day I included chia seeds).   I also like the salad dressing way better than any non-fat I've tried--in fact, I just stopped using salad dressing with MWL.   The low-fat guys say fat is an addiction and you'll lose your taste in a few months.  I never lasted more than a month on MWL but I did get tired of the starches--literally, they make me groggy when I eat too many.  Also most of the McDougall/Esselstyn meals require salt to make them taste good.  I really developed a taste for salt following these guys.   I didn't allow it most of the time but I craved it and went off plan to get it--not their fault of course.

So I'm considering drinking the Fuhrman carrot juice again--literally, as I am thinking of making some tomorrow to go in my next creation, haha.

Here is my current thinking:  My problem the last few years has been going off plan way too much.  I went off plan for a dose of salt, sugar and fat, I think.  If my diet has some of all of it and it tastes good, why should I go off plan?   Fuhrman lets you have fat (nuts, seeds, avocados, soy), and sugar  (dried fruit), and about 300 mg of added sodium above what's in natural foods.   So maybe, I'll allow a little dose of added sodium too.  I think I'll give the 6WP a try and see if I can stick with it.  that's the key is sticking with it!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

macaroni and...creamy orange sauce (or cabbage and creamy orange sauce)

I gotta write this down before I forget!  

This was invented out of ingredients I'm trying to get rid of from my fridge before I go out of town.  There was a butternut squash, a head of cabbage, onion, and a lot of home made soy yogurt.   I also was inspired by the vegan macaroni and cheese posts on the blogosphere, many of which use butternut squash.  They add things like lemon and mustard for tartness and non-dairy milks for liquid, so I figured yogurt would make an excellent substitute (even better in fact).  They also add a lot of salt, so I wasn't expecting mine to taste good without it.  That's why I was so surprised when I tasted it and liked it!  If you add salt, I know it will taste even better but this still tastes good without it.  Also I tend to go light on the spices so you will probably want more.

Ingredients for the sauce:
1 butternut squash
1-1.5 cups soy yogurt (to taste)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp smoked paprika (note the word "smoked", this adds a nice flavor)
1-2 Tbsp nutritional yeast (I was closer to 1, others will want more)
~1 cup veggie broth or water, as needed to thin the sauce

The "noodles":
cook up noodles of your choice
cook up cabbage and onions in a pot or pressure cooker

I baked the butternut squash last night, cooled it in the fridge overnight, then cut it in half and scooped out the seeds.  The skin peeled off easily with only a little help from me.  Cut that up  and put it in the blender with the soy yogurt and broth.  I used the liquid from cooking up the cabbage and onions and that tasted good.  Then add the spices and blend some more.   I tasted it and exclaimed "wow" because as I said before, I was expecting to be underwhelmed without the salt.  It was good on noodles, but guess what, it was even better on the cabbage and onions!   The noodles have some nostalgic appeal (reminiscent of macaroni and cheese), but the cabbage and onions have more flavor.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

food logs Oct 29--following MWL

I logged my food yesterday too.  Here's the summary (click on the image to see it better):

The red lentil chili is Chef AJ's recipe. I cooked up some brown rice (actually a mixture of short grain, long grain, and forbidden rice) and combined it with the chili.  I ate several bowls.  I made some cabbage salad out of:  cabbage, carrots, apples, orange juice, and chia seeds.  I ate several bowls of this too.  and lots of fruit.  and the total was only 1340 calories.  This is essentially McDougall's Maximum Weight Loss plan (whole foods, vegan, none of the calorie dense foods) and Novick's calorie density plan.  I see why they say just eat until you are full and you will lose weight.   

Here is the nutrient breakdown:

I had lots more omega-3 fat today than yesterday since the cabbage salad has chia seeds.  total fat intake is now up to 7.5%.  Vitamin E is still low.  Obviously more fats would help that.

Now I just have to work on not pigging out when I don't log my food.  I have the habit of eating while I'm doing food prep and dishes, which is a lot of the time!  But it's just a habit and habits can be changed.

food logs Oct 28

I logged my food in chronometer on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Here's Tuesday's summary (click on the image to see it better):

I'm amazed at how much you can eat and still have low calories at the end of the day if you don't include nuts and seeds.  The squash I ate was a big kabocha squash that I turned into 3 filling meals.  The cabbage I cooked up with 2 apples and cinnamon--I just filled in the raw weight before I cooked it (in grams).

Here is the nutrient breakdown:

Of course B12 and D are missing.  and it's common for selenium to be low.  Vitamin E is low since my fat intake is low--only 6% of calories.  Nuts and avocado would bring that up.  On the other hand, maybe it's not needed to be so high, as this number is based on what most people eat, not what they need, and most people eat high-fat diets.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

another ketchup recipe

I thought I already posted this but I can't find it so here it is (again?).  This is the ketchup I've been making lately.

1 onion, cut into large pieces
1 medium apple, peeled, sliced
a few cloves garlic, peeled
2-3 carrots, cut into large pieces
a few medjool dates, pitted
2 16-oz cans tomatoes
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

Cut everything into large pieces and put in a baking dish.  Add the liquid from the tomatoes.  Bake for about an hour at 350 degrees with just enough water to keep it moist.  Here's the result of the baked dish (I didn't use dates this time):

Blend everything in a blender.  Add more vinegar if you think it needs it.

It's good, a little more orange than normal ketchup.  If you prefer, don't add the carrots and then it will be more red.  Add as many dates as you want for sweetness.  For me, 2 is enough.   Often I don't use any.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Minimalist salads

Lately I've been eating lettuce like you'd snack on chips.  I like the taste of romaine lettuce and don't think it needs to be cut up and mixed with a bunch of other stuff--oh yeah, and I'm lazy.  Here's how I've been prepping it--makes it perk up just like it was fresh picked after a soaking rain!  

I cut off the bottom and wash the leaves and put them in a bowl with water on the bottom.

Then just cover with a plastic bag and put it in the fridge.

The leaves soak up the water and become full and crisp!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Salad Dressing Ice cubes

I don't eat much salad dressing and to make a batch usually requires enough ingredients to make the blender work which is then usually too much for me at one time.  So the solution is to freeze them into ice cubes!  This worked well.  I used for inspiration StraightupFood's vinaigrette salad dressings.

I did this a couple of months ago and made 3 different dressings and then I froze them into ice cubes.  I logged the recipes in cronometer so I have the measurements for everything except the water.   Here's what went into each:

Strawberry vinaigrette:
3/4 lb strawberries
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 medjool date
1 tsp chia seeds
little bit of onion (1/2 oz)
water?  maybe none

blend in the blender.

Hemp mustard date lemon dressing
1-2 oz lemon juice
2 Tbsp mustard (no salt)
1 medjool date
1 oz hemp hearts
don't recall how much water.

Orange mustard dressing
1.2 cup orange juice
1 oz hemp hearts
1 Tbsp mustard

The amounts of liquid and hemp hearts don't matter that much--you can do anywhere from a 1:4 to 1:8 ratio.  Just be careful with the mustard and vinegar--start with less then add to taste.  And any fruit will work, and you can use mustard or vinegar as you wish.

I didn't take pictures at the time, but here is one from today where I just decided to clean out the fridge and combine them all together!

easiest and best potato salad

3 ingredients:

  1. potatoes
  2. curry powder
  3. soy yogurt (homemade is best!  and easy)

Boil, steam, pressure cook or bake your potatoes.  I steamed in the pressure cooker for a few minutes.   I cooled them overnight in the fridge.   Then I cut them up into bite size pieces, added some curry powder and soy yogurt.  mmm, best potato salad ever.  Oh, I happened to use purple potatoes this time.  You can use any kind of potato, or sweet potato.  You can also use any kind of seasoning, like Mexican, or Indian, or Italian.  Lots to play with and EASY and GOOD.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

My new blog

Oh what fun, I started up a new blog.  I'll still post here, recipes and things.  In fact, I have a backlog that I want to document, some good dressings I made a while back, and some instant-pot dishes that I made while on vacation.

But I have this backpacking trip I want to prepare for by eating healthy for the next almost 12 months, so I thought I'd start a blog to document that.  And, well, it's not your normal happy plant-based blog because I have developed a case of the whiny's in the last few years, wishing I could be like everyone else and eat their delicious salty, sweet, and fatty foods.  so it will be a whiny blog.  Naturally, the name is  

Monday, August 25, 2014

My trip to New York City

I went to NYC with my long-time friend G to see her son perform in a play and celebrate his birthday.  I also got a lot of other unplanned treats, like seeing my cousin, and one more I'll mention later.  We had a great time and did a lot of things in the 5 days we were there.  I no longer try to force myself to follow my diet because I want to spend my mental energy and thoughts on other things.  So I had no expectations for what would happen, but I knew if I wanted to stay on plan, it would be easy.  And it was and it didn't interfere with anyone else's plans.

We went grocery shopping on the first day, because two of us wanted groceries (me and the boy).  I got a few cans of beans and some fruit.  I already had some nuts and dried mangos that I brought with me.  They didn't have any no-sodium cans of beans, just low-sodium, which had whopping amounts of sodium--I wonder what the normal-sodium cans had in them.  So I rinsed the beans before eating.  There are fruit stands and small grocery stores all over the place in NYC with plentiful fruit and nuts.  At one point, I found a Whole Foods store, and also a really good grocery with good lettuce and spinach.  So I got my greens in as well as the fruit and nuts and beans.  I had plenty to eat. I usually ate my dinner before we went out for dinner and drinks and there I enjoyed a club soda with lime while my friends enjoyed their food and drinks.  Breakfast and lunch for my friends were take-out or eat-in so I could eat my food with no problem.  I had no desire to eat anything they were eating, but...

I did go off-plan once for a small dessert.  It's a long story, but at the recommendation of a friend, I had very recently read this memoir of a chef, Gabrielle Hamilton ("Blood, Bones, & Butter").  It was interesting and well-written, which are the two ingredients for a good book to me--subject matter is less important to me.  She is about as far away from vegan as you can be.  Well, she has a restaurant in the lower East side of Manhattan.  After the Friday afternoon showing of the play, when we were in a restaurant eating (casual enough for me to eat my bring-along food), I thought, hey, I wonder if Gabrielle's restaurant, Prune, is nearby.  I checked my iPhone, and discovered it was only a few blocks away!   So we had to go there and I wanted to post a picture to my friend's Facebook page and make her really jealous.  When we got there, G said "let's see if we can get dessert," and amazingly, they had a table we could use for 30 minutes.   So I did order a dessert and a small glass of port.  It was very enjoyable and very simple:  a sliced fresh peach on a small piece of buttered toast (home-made), with some sugar on top.  I thought it was worth it.  The port was also very enjoyable, especially stimulating to a non-drinker like myself.  I paid for the three of us since it was my idea to come there, and after I got the bill I thought, well, maybe that wasn't worth it after all, haha.  No, it was fun, and really fun making my friend from back home jealous.

My only other digression was that I bought some raw cashews for a treat and ate way too many.  I ate that with fruit while others were eating birthday cake and brownies and drinking beer; on multiple occasions (there was also this famous cake store where they had lots of treats).  I figured the cashews and fruit might be a good psychological tactic and it seemed to work.  And I ate carrots in the movie theater while they ate popcorn and soda.  I love carrots like they love popcorn.

It was a great trip.  My food choices didn't interfere with anyone's fun, except perhaps G, who I worried was feeling self-conscious about her food choices.  I asked her to not let food interfere with our friendship or fun.  I have another old friend who doesn't like me anymore because of my food choices so I know this can happen.  I know G wouldn't be that way but I also don't want her to feel self-conscious.  One interesting tidbit is that I didn't wear out like my companions who needed lots of coffee in the mornings, haha.

Intermittent Fasting

Somehow I stumbled on a couple of talks and interviews with Dr. Mark Mattson, maybe from one of the Healthy Librarian's Facebook posts--she has a lot of interesting posts.   First, I saw this Ted talk.   Then I found this interview with him and Dr. Michael Mosley and Dr. Valter Longo on the Diane Rehm show.  So then I read Dr. Mosley's book, which is very good.  He prefers the 5-2 diet, where you eat normally 5 days a week, and eat 1/4 your normal calories 2 days a week.  That didn't sound as appealing to me as the "fast-8" diet, where you eat in an 8 hour window every day.  Both seem to have positive effects on insulin sensitivity and blood pressure and cholesterol, even for those eating the Standard American Diet.

I started the fast-8 plan almost 4 weeks ago, with the expectation that I wouldn't like it, but I'll try it for a day and see how awful it is.  Well, it wasn't awful at all and I felt great the next day.  I like to exercise in the morning, and, behold, that feels better on an empty stomach.  I was hungry at night for a few days but then that went away.  I guess most people eat their meals between noon and 8 pm, but I prefer 9 am - 5 pm--I have a lot of evening meetings and don't want to eat late at night, plus I like breakfast.  I expected I would pig out too much during the 8 hour window and then feel deprived during the 16 hour window.  Neither happened.  I enjoyed eating what and when I wanted and during the 8-hour window.  Then I enjoyed not eating the rest of the time and busy-ing myself with other things.  I've lost 5 lbs and it doesn't feel like I'm trying. I'd like to lose 10-15 more--that's the weight I've gained the last 2 years.  Plus I feel better.

Interestingly, this is the sort of eating that Dr. Fuhrman promotes with his recommendations to reach the true hunger stage before eating (at least some of the time).  I'm finding myself gravitating back to the Fuhrman diet because I feel better not eating too many starchy foods.  I also like eating some nuts and seeds every day.  I talked about that some in this post too.

Saturday, July 26, 2014


I modified this waffle recipe from Cathy Fisher, and it is super easy to make--I make the batter up in the blender.  We had house guests three times this week, and twice we made waffles. Housemate makes traditional waffles only a few times a year, when we have house guests. So she did that for the first set of guests, and I did Cathy Fisher's recipe for myself.  It was good but I found the corn meal a little too crunchy for my tastes (I used polenta which is coarse ground).  I thought I could modify it to make it better for my tastes and easier.  I tried it out today on the kids we had over. We didn't bother with housemate's waffles because we wanted to play more instead of taking time in the kitchen.  So I made mine and everyone loved them. This is great news because my recipe is easier than housemate's and we can all enjoy them.  So here's my recipe.

Ingredients for 3 or more people (halve the recipe for 1-2 people):
2 cups non-dairy milk, or water and 1 ripe banana (haven't tried the latter but want to)
3 medjool dates
2 cups rolled oats
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla


1.  Add 1/2 of the milk or water to the blender with the dates let soak for 15 minutes.
2.  Turn on the waffle iron.  I use this one, the same as Cathy Fisher.  It seems to work great.  I put it on the middle setting, following her recommendation.
2.  Blend up the stuff in the blender.
3. Add 1/2 the oats and blend
4.  Add the rest of the liquid and the rest of the oats and blend
5.  add the cinnamon, vanilla and baking powder, and do a final mix (very quick blend at low power, just to mix)
6.  Transfer to a bowl if you wish for easier scooping into the waffle iron.
7.  When the waffle iron is ready, pour 1/2 cup into the center, cook until ready (you have to experiment for your iron).  The longer you cook, the less the waffles will stick.  I find that wooden chopsticks work great for getting the waffles out.
8.  Serve immediately.  I top with warmed frozen berries (heat until they release lots of juice), and maybe some soy yogurt and bananas.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

another good description of how to eat

From Dr. McDougall's latest newsletter:

The pictures of what to eat are so appealing!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

mashed potatoes and gravy!

Our kitchen remodel is finally done and I think I'd be happy with any kitchen after 8 weeks without, but I'm very happy with ours.  Today I made mashed potatoes and gravy!  It was good good good!  

Here's the kitchen.

Who cares, here's the mashed potatoes, gravy and greens!

Dessert was watermelon.  Dinner was mashed potatoes, gravy, and sugar snap peas; and watermelon for dessert again.

The gravy is fabulous and guilt-free.  To make this delicious food, I cooked up some beans the old fashioned way, on the stove after soaking overnight.  In the pressure cooker I put potatoes, onions, mushrooms, and garlic cloves with some water and cooked them.  These were cut into big chunks for easy separation later (didn't cut the garlic or mushrooms).   After cooking, I whipped the potatoes along with some of the garlic, a little onion, and liquid from cooking.  I blended the beans with their cooking water and the garlic in a blender, then added the onion and mushrooms and Italian seasoning and just pulsed it so they were still chunky.   Most people would also want to add in soy or tamari sauce or salt to the gravy.   It's fun being able to load on the gravy and knowing that it's all healthy!   Housemate likes this too.  We'll have it again tomorrow since I have lots of gravy left over.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Saturday, June 21, 2014

favorite oatmeal

not the favorite but one of my favorites:

oats, curry powder and spinach.   easy to make in your hotel room but good enough to eat at home too.   Tomorrow's will be oats, strawberry, bananas, blueberries, and cinnamon.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

A first for me

Today at a Whole Foods store, I got some cooked brown rice, quinoa, steamed kale and collards, all with no added salt, oil, or sugar (SOS).

That is a first for me to get something cooked from a store or restaurant with no SOS.  Yeah, I know others are very successful at this.  Not me.   I know I can't get that at the Whole Foods where I live, and I gave up on the restaurants a while ago.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Trip food

I found a good grocery store today--that is, it has good fresh produce--which is a surprise given I'm in a small very very touristy town.  But I guess the locals have to eat and they must like some fresh produce.  Note that it's the conventional produce that looked fresh, not the organic, so I went with conventional.  I got a beautiful head of romaine lettuce and a locally grown tomato and made is minimalist salad from that for today and tomorrow:

That's lettuce (washed and broken into 2 pieces per leaf) and sliced tomato.  No fork or dressing required; can be eaten anywhere with ease.  I also got some "baby carrots".  So that's my snacking food.

I'm in Tennessee and I have to say I am a southerner when it comes to food (well, and background too).  I have so many fond memories of the food.  OMG, there's a pancake place on every block and fried chicken and BBQ.  The store deli had all kinds of this stuff plus mashed potatoes and the usual delicious sides you get in southern restaurants.  Fortunately there is healthy food I can eat too.  Here is what I cooked up for the next two days in my Instapot pressure cooker (one day's worth is shown here--lunch and dinner).

That's rice, potato, black-eyed peas, okra, zucchini, canned tomatoes, and baby kale.  and I added some singapore, tandoori and italian seasoning.  Here's the instapot in the bathroom (hotel cooking):

and they had good fruit too.  I bought a container of watermelon pieces that I ate this afternoon.  For tomorrow's breakfast I have oats, cinnamon, sliced grapes, strawberries and pineapple.  I'll heat that in the microwave.

 I think I'll stop at this store before leaving tomorrow tomorrow since I know I can get good produce and then I'll be set for a few more days.

Friday, June 13, 2014

What I've been eating

Here is how I've been preparing food lately.  This has served me well in my temporary kitchen in the basement during our kitchen remodel (almost done!), at my meditation retreat last week, and on our upcoming vacation.  I'm using the Instapot pressure cooker to cook 2 days worth of lunch and dinner. I usually start by cooking an onion and brown rice (1/2-1 cup for 10 minutes); then I add a potato, sweet potato, and veggies and spices and cook that up (1-2 minutes); then add a can of beans.  My veggies are whatever I feel like.  Lately it's been local asparagus or broccoli, or cauliflower, and just recently, collards and kale from the garden.  For spices, I have a few handy dandy pieces of paper that tell me how to mix spices for different kinds of food.  Here's an example.  The other one I use is from the E2X website. Tonight I made barbecue flavor.  That included:  smoked paprika, no-salt mustard, pepper, garlic, nutmeg, chipotle powder, and vinegar.  You can look up any recipe for barbecue sauce to get your own ideas.   Next time I think I'll include a little portion of chopped apple which will turn into sauce in the pressure cooker.  Anyway, this was good and will last me through the first two days of my trip:
Our co-op has giant heads of local romaine lettuce, so I washed one and ripped each leaf into a few pieces and put them in bowls that should last through tomorrow.  That's my salad, ha---easy eating in the car, and it tastes good as is.   I've been having oatmeal and fruit for breakfast.   At the meditation retreat, they had a great salad bar and fruit. So I just cooked up my starches in the instapot and ate them with salad and fruit.  

I posted a few weeks ago about a book on human evolution I read and what my conclusions were for the ideal diet.  It was my attempt to form a low-glycemic (because the foods of our ancestors were likely this) vegan diet (my requirement for ethical reasons).  It has lots of vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds (the latter to replace the meat our ancestors ate), and some fruit.  Well, the only problem is, it's not the diet I want to follow.  I tire of it quickly, and I tend to overeat nuts and get a stomach ache.  I think what I want to follow most closely resembles Dr. McDougall's Maximum Weight Loss plan.  Any eating plan with the words "Maximum Weight Loss" sounds drastic and unappealing to me, which always made me think it's too extreme and I'm must be missing out, but in fact it is a very enjoyable and reasonably cheap way to eat, and I wish it had a different name.  like the maximum awesome way to eat.  It has my favorite foods:  oats, rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beans veggies, and fruit.   

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Chef AJ's Yummy Sauce

I finally made Chef AJ's yummy sauce today and I concur, it is yummy!   You can find the recipe and video here.   I used a half-pound of dried white beans (soaked and cooked), which is more than 1 can, so I increased the other ingredients:  2 lemons, extra garlic, 3 Tbsp of mustard,  2 medjool dates.  For garlic I used green garlic--that's early garlic, it's like chives.  I blended the white parts, then added the greens at the end for a quick chop instead of blend.  Since 1/2 lb of beans usually lasts me 3 days, I added enough water to fill 3 16-oz jars:

That will nicely cover 2 salads a day.   I wonder what else I should put it on.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

tomato dressing

I want to use up the rest of my canned garden tomatoes before the fresh ones arrive!  This makes a good dressing.

1 16 oz can tomatoes
1-2 Tbsp hemp hearts
some scallions or radishes
fresh herbs or dried

Blend the tomatoes and hemp hearts in a blender until smooth.  Add in the other ingredients and pulse until they are chopped some but not totally blended in.  Right now I've got cilantro, chives and dill in the garden so that's what I'm using for herbs.

I served this up over a bed of lettuce and jicama.  It was good!  That's grapes on the left for dessert.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Human Evolution and my diet

I just finished listening to the book, The Story of the Human Body:  Evolution, Health and Disease by Daniel Lieberman, a professor of Biological Sciences at Harvard.   It was interesting, especially the first part where he described how we branched from apes and chimps and became bipeds roaming the grasslands and eating more tubers and grasses and meat; and how we evolved to walk and run long distances, and how we would just wear down the faster animals, and how we can handle heat more than most animals.  It makes me realize I wasn't being kind to my dog by taking him on long jogs in the heat of the day in Louisiana summers!  Later in the book he talked about diseases of mismatch caused by living in our current environment that is so different from that in which we evolved.   I didn't agree with some of his views on what's wrong with the modern diet, but I was interested to learn about how myopia and impacted wisdom teeth are results of our modern behavior (reading and being indoors a lot; and eating soft food).

Some of my curiosity about the book has to do with what diet did we evolve to eat?  That might not be the correct question really since we evolved to be adaptable to a variety of diets.  But there is a diet that we ate more of during the tens of thousands of years that we became "human" and that was the hunter-gatherer diet.  Now I think there is some disagreement about what that was, and there was a lot of variation in time and place for the humans and humanoids.  But my understanding from Dr. Lieberman is that our ancestors at tubers, fruit, grasses, meat, fish, and nuts and seeds.  The tubers were barely digestible and we used tools to smash them until edible and at some point started cooking them.  I wonder what the grasses were, things like wild oats and wheat?  Those too were smashed.  I wonder what the nuts and seeds were like.  Isn't quiona a seed?  and that's more like a grain than a sunflower seed as far as it's nutritional content goes.  I'm kind of surprised that nuts and seeds were that abundant, but it doesn't appear to be in question that they made up a significant portion of the diet.  There's a lot of variation in estimates about how much meat they ate, and there was probably a similar variation in different populations.  Of course, all of these foods were different from today's versions.  Our ancestors developed very strong and large jaws from chewing food--which allowed plenty of room for their wisdom teeth!

An interesting thing I learned was that life for hunter gatherers was generally more pleasant than the back-breaking work of the agriculture eras.  Wow, I guess progress is not necessarily a good thing for us.  And the agriculture era was when diseases of mismatch began, which I didn't know.

Relating this to my diet, it makes me question some of what I learned from my favorite plant-based diet gurus, while also questioning Dr. Lieberman.  Before getting to that I will say that even if my ancestors ate meat, it doesn't mean I have to.  I have the choice not to and I think it's the correct and moral choice.  But it's worth looking at what nutrients I could be missing from not eating meat, and making up for that in my vegan diet.  So here are some thoughts I have after reading the book:

1) First an issue with Dr. Lieberman's assertion that mismatch diseases began in the agricultural era, including heart disease and cancer.  He blames carbs and sugars for a lot of our ills--that's a popular thing to do these days.  But the China study showed that rural Chinese eating a mostly vegan diet had essentially no heart disease or cancer.  And they eat a lot of rice.  So chalk one up for agriculture and carbs.  However, none of these groups were perfectly vegan so they had more than the minimal amount of fats in their diets, which is related to my next point.

2) One thing that makes me concerned about the McDougall/Esselstyn low-fat vegan camp is that our ancestors did eat meat and nuts and seeds, and that provided more fat than we might get from the low-fat vegan diet.  When I follow McDougall/Esselstyn, my fat percentage is only 5-7%.  Dr. McDougall says this is enough.  But there have never been humans who ate this low amount of fat since there have never been fully vegan populations as far as I know.  This is where Furhman makes more sense to me.  He points out that nuts and seeds have a similar nutritional profile as meat.  And our ancestors ate them (though again, how similar to today's versions I don't know).  Just 1 ounce of nuts and seeds raises my fat percentage to 15% which seems closer to what our ancestors ate (I've seen estimates ranging from 15-50%).  And eating some flax, chia or hemp seeds adds the ALA compounds that can be converted to omega-3s by our body.   Of course, 1 oz of nuts and seeds doesn't conflict with any of the doctors, but they sure do get in a lot of arguments about them.  Dr. Fuhrman cites lots of studies about the health benefits of nuts, and Jeff Novick and Jeff Nelson point out all the flaws in the studies.  A lot of people conclude, as I did, that you don't need any.   Now my thinking is, I agree the studies are flawed, but maybe there's still good reason to include them if you are vegan (and don't eat oil) in order to increase your fat percentage.  Also I get skin rashes when I don't eat any nuts or seeds at all and my nails get brittle.

3)  Then there is the glycemic issue.  Some call it the carb or starch issue, but to me it's a blood sugar issue, that is, how quickly does a food get converted to sugar and get into your blood stream?   Dr. McDougall asserts that we are starchivores and that glycemic index is a non-issue.  For me, it's an issue I can feel.  I don't test my blood sugar, but I know how I feel after eating pancakes with maple syrup.  And unfortunately, I don't feel so hot if I eat nothing but Japanese sweet potatoes--not surprising since they taste like candy after I over-bake and refrigerate them (soooo good though).  I think this is a situation of modern agriculture turning whole foods into, well, candy.  There is an argument about white potatoes between the Fuhrman and the other guys too.  I find white potatoes don't bother me as much as Japanese sweet potatoes.  I haven't tried eating only potatoes so don't know how much is too much for me but 1 serving a day seems fine for me.  I think beans are a good starch to eat because they haven't been bred (yet) to be super digestible.  I find that I am sensitive to high glycemic foods such as whole grain flours, dried fruit, and lots of potatoes and sweet potatoes; and feel better if they don't make up the majority of my calories.

So my conclusion today is that I prefer to eat a vegan, low-glycemic diet that includes some nuts and/or seeds.  Before modern agriculture, probably all whole foods were low-glycemic but I'm not sure that's the case with modern starches.  Beans (legumes), on the other hand, are still a good low-glycemic starch.  I would prefer to limit potatoes, squash, corn and intact whole grains to a few servings per day. And the same goes for a lot of fruits: I'll try to eat more berries along with my bananas.  So my idea of an optimal vegan diet in today's world is one that includes raw and cooked vegetables (more non-starchy than starchy), beans, nuts and seeds, and some fruit.  It's a lot like the Fuhrman diet, but without the smoothies and veggie juices.

Sunday, May 25, 2014


This was an awesome meal:

My food is on the left:  watermelon and grilled asparagus, onion and lemon (cooked in foil).  I would have considered making veggie burgers and potato fries but during the kitchen remodel I'm going with easy food prep and this was easy and really good!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Berry banana yogurt chia pudding

A friend visiting me today mentioned that she would like to give up dairy and sugar someday, and I said I know how hard that is, but I'm making this great fruit mix that tastes like dessert to me, and I gave her some and she agreed.  It reminds me of this dessert we used to have when we were kids with vanilla wafers and pudding and bananas and whipped cream, remember that?   Right now, the berries from California are good, and when the bananas are good too (ripe), I mix together sliced bananas, berries, 1-2 tsp chia seeds (depending on the amount of fruit), and 1 serving of soy yogurt.  I do that in the morning, and then by lunch and dinner, the chia seeds have expanded and gelled with the bananas and that's why it reminds me of pudding.  So that's my dessert for lunch and dinner.   It's also good without the bananas but not as sweet.

And since people also often ask me about how to make soy yogurt, here's a reminder of that.  I use this yogurt maker and this yogurt starter, and a quart of unsweetened soy milk.  I open the soy milk container (keep it at room temperature), pour in a bowl, add 1/8 tsp of the yogurt starter, and stir with a whisker.  Then add the milk to each of the jars, put them in the yogurt maker without their lids, turn on the machine, wait 12 hours, and then it's done. 

Put the lids on and refrigerate.  This is the best non-dairy yogurt I have ever eaten.  It's a good sour cream substitute so good with veggies, in mushroom stroganoff, on tacos and other Mexican-style foods.  It's probably good in potato salad.  And of course it's great with fruit. 

How I eat

This is the diet that makes me feel great.

Vegetables:  all that stuff in the "produce" aisle; whatever looks fresh;  boiled, steamed, baked, add an onion if you want.  A funny thing is when you cook them up and then refrigerate them, they get sweeter!   The great thing about cooking without oil is the food is great cold too.  One of my favorites is broccoli and onion.  Even well-cooked collards and onions taste sweet to me after refrigeration (not sure why that is).

Starchy vegetables:  Legumes (beans), potatoes, sweet potatoes, squash, corn; and intact whole grains (intact means not ground to flour).

Salad.  Lettuce, tomato, mushroom in the summer when the tomatoes are fresh.  Cabbage, lettuce, carrots is another favorite of mine.  Top with vinegar and sunflower seeds (or avocado or any nut or seed) and 1 T ground flaxseed.  

Fruit. Sometimes I like to combine it with homemade soy yogurt or nuts. I wrote a post just about this because it's so good.

Some avocado, nuts, and seeds.

I personally don't eat dried and blended fruits, or flours of any types.  I have had times in my life when my eating was out of control, and giving up these stimulating foods has worked well for me.  I hardly eat any nuts or seeds either, since I tend to overeat them.

I prefer not to eat these foods and drugs:
salt, oil, sugar, refined grains, animal products, caffeine, chocolate, alcohol.
Despite that, some of my friends still love me, and they still invite me to restaurants and parties, and we still have fun.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Black Bean Mango Salad!

mmm, love this:  lettuce, scallions, red bell pepper, any other salad stuff you want to throw in (e.g., endive, radicchio), mango, black beans, cilantro, lime juice, ground cumin, touch of chipotle powder.

oops, forgot the avocado. 

Now it's perfect.   I made bigger batch to take to a potluck.  Tomorrow lunch I'm going to a restaurant, so I'm going to do something similar.  I'll prepare ahead of time a bowl of black beans, mango, lime, cilantro, cumin, and will order a garden salad and dump my mixture on top.  Then I'll probably be out of black beans though I'll still have some mango left.  I wonder what I'll do for dinner.  

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Kitchen Remodel!

Here are some fun pictures of our kitchen remodel:

the inside.

Of all things, a duck laid eggs 10 feet from the kitchen window.  She laid 11 eggs.  She has put up with most of the noise.  If she can just get through the window install next week, I think she'll stick around:

oh, here's a random breakfast in between the remodel pictures.  pears, blackberries, homemade soy yogurt, and ground flaxseed.

here's the basement makeshift kitchen!  the plastic on the ceiling keeps the sawdust away.  the upstairs kitchen is directly above.


spices and speakers (I plug in the iPad and watch lectures from my MOOC):

These are all the appliances I need:  electric pressure cooker and blender:

and salad spinner and bowls and yogurt maker:

work table:



I wash dishes in the laundry room:

fun huh?  yes it is!