There are giants in the land

“Some people think the plant-based, whole-foods diet is extreme. Half a million people a year will have their chests opened up and a vein taken from their leg and sewn onto their coronary artery. Some people would call that extreme.”

~Caldwell Esselstyn

When it comes to plant-based nutrition, there are so many “giants in the land” of the enemy that it is much easier to submit to their rule in our lives than it is to subdue them.  Just ask anyone who has ever made a life change from eating a meat-based diet to one of whole foods, based 100% in plants.

assortedplantDr. Esselstyn’s quote (above) is taken from his groundbreaking book,  Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure.  It states the obvious irony: people will go to extraordinary extremes, both in health and in financial expenses, to correct, or treat, the outcomes of a poor lifestyle before they will adopt preventative one if it requires changing what they like to eat.

It’s absurd, and it’s true.  Been there, done that, with 60 years of experience!

Like anything else, however, there is comfort in numbers, and the numbers of doctors, nutrition researchers and experts, and plant-based diet adherents are growing, and this alone will turn the course toward disease prevention and away from disease treatment as the primary “fix” for health.
The benefits of a plant-based diet begin at day one when a person simply decides that disease prevention and/or reversal is their biggest health priority.  Making the decision empowers the other activities that move us physically to the better path, and it feels good just to breathe the fresh air of change.

Source for quote: The Top 100 Vegan and Vegetarian Quotes, and the aforementioned book by Dr. Esselstyn.

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Early garden pics

It’s early yet, but after some fits and starts to the Texas growing season, we are getting some weather that is warm enough to see some plant growth.   Here are a few pictures from my backyard garden.

Lentils, black wild rice, and mustard greens soup

lentilsoupSunday is soup-making day!  I make a big pot of bean soup so I can have enough to take with me to work during the week.  Usually, I use whatever veggies I have that are “near death” in the fridge, but this week I harvested some mustard greens and some yellow chard from my garden to put in a soup with some dried lentils.  It is quite tasty.  Here’s the recipe:

One cup of dried lentils
One cup of black wild rice
2 cups of fresh mustard greens, roughly cut
1 cup of yellow swiss chard, or use something else if you don’t have any
1 can of organic, no salt added, tomato sauce
one-half cup of sliced fresh mushrooms
two stalks fresh celery (sliced thin)
1 tsp ground oregano
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp black pepper

Bring lentils and rice to boil for about five minutes.  Lower heat, then add all other ingredients.  Bring to simmer for about forty minutes, or until rice is tender.  Slightly cool, and serve.

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Local farmers markets…challenging our assumptions

highlight03It’s that time of year when local farmers markets are abundant in good home-grown produce, but it is important that veggie and fruit buyers beware of our own assumptions about what we are buying.

Five assumptions about farmers markets:

  1. Just because everything looks fresh and green doesn’t mean it is.  Be aware of the growing seasons in your area, and if you see some items that are not “in season”, you can ask questions about how fresh the produce is and whether or not it has been in food storage for awhile.
  2. The produce is not necessarily free of pesticides and herbicides.  It may look great and healthy, but if you want to be careful about ingesting poisons, do not let your guard down just because you aren’t at your local supermarket.  Ask questions!
  3. If buying organic is important to you, don’t assume that an open-air, seasonal farmers market is naturally organic.  Be aware that genetically-modified foods and chemically-fertilized produce is abundant at farmers markets, just like they are at your local grocer.  Again, ask questions!
  4. If buying “locally grown” is important to you, farmers markets do not necessarily promise this.  Many market vendors, in order to make a living, supplement their produce offerings with items that are grown elsewhere in order to offer a variety.  In the Dallas area, for example, many local farmers markets have products that come from 500 or 600 miles away in the Rio Grande Valley.  This is not to say we shouldn’t buy the products; it simply means that the products are not necessarily grown locally.   Nothing wrong with this, but it might be important to some shoppers to know.
  5. Many of the vendors at farmers markets are brokers, not the farmers themselves.  One of the good things about buying from local farmers markets is that you are at least one purchasing level closer to the people who grow the food.  However, many of the market vendors are broker-dealers and may not have much knowledge about how the food was grown and harvested.

When this season rolls around every year, I love my Saturday morning shopping trips to the local farmers markets.  But, through the years I have discovered that I am not always getting what I think I’m getting.  It’s not that I’ve been lied to or deceived.  Rather, it’s that I have brought along a load of naivete about the way the food and distribution system works.  Knowing this, I have become much more realistic about my expectations at these markets, and because I am better informed than before, I feel much better about the purchasing decisions I’ve made.  To better health!

Favorite meal of the day…fresh pineapple for breakfast

Absolutely yum — pineapples!

Pineapple slices and chunks

For too long I avoided the mess of trimming a pineapple and settled for canned or jarred pineapples from the produce section of the grocery store.  Lately, I’ve changed my attitude about food prep entirely.  I trim my pineapples by slicing them, as pictured here.  Then, I trim the outer layer away from the tasty inside part.  If I want only a slice or two, I place some plastic wrap around the bottom (exposed) portion, and place it back in the fridge for later.  I don’t have to cut the whole thing at once.  For me, convenience is the key.

Benefits of eating whole fruits and vegetables

Instead of settling for less taste and compromising freshness, I’ve made a habit of buying more fruits and vegetables whole and then doing the slicing, chopping, peeling myself.  The benefits of eating this way are tremendous:

  • higher nutrient value as the fruits and vegetables retain their natural qualities until they are consumed
  • you don’t pay for packaging
  • the peels and scraps can be used in your compost if you are organic gardener
  • you are at least one level nearer the actual producer when the processing is taken out of the picture, and this helps eliminate some of the mysteries of processing
  • the color is richer and deeper; appetite for healthier foods becomes stronger
  • flavor, flavor, flavor

I can store two or three at a time in my fridge, so I really look for the two-fer specials at the grocery store.   I love a slice of pineapple in a bowl with strawberries, blueberries, and orange slices for breakfast.  It’s my favorite meal of the day!

Brussels sprouts and red quinoa for dinner…yum!

Nice dinner tonight a couple of hours before my yoga class.  I had some fresh, cut from the stalk, brussels sprouts and some red quinoa along with my romaine salad, topped with cashews.  I made a quick red wine vinegar dressing with garlic and turmeric, and it was very tasty!  The brussels sprouts are quickly becoming my favorite vegetable for eating with grains.

Vegan cooking…simplicity is key

Vegan cooking is a challenge when one first starts a vegan diet, but keeping it simple is the key.  It’s great fun to try out new recipes as I mentioned in my post about reducing stress.  But, simplicity will help you be successful when you make the commitment to go without eating any animal products.

Simplicity is a good thing!  The things we add to nature’s food to make it tasty are some of the very things that get us into trouble with high blood pressure…like salt.  I prepare my foods without adding salt or oils.  I’ve learned how to use other spices that are salt-free, and I use cooking methods that retain the taste of the foods, most of their textures, and most importantly, the powerful, healing nutrients.

Two sources for vegan recipes

There are sources online, including cookeatshare.com, one of my favorites because of the participation of trained chefs and DIY’ers alike.  The recipes can be elaborate or simple.  You know my choice…simplicity is key!

One bargain I have found are the free vegan cookbooks at Vitalia.Com.  They are in a downloadable, pdf format, and you don’t have to leave an email address or any information to get them.  In other words, totally free!

Let me know of other resources you have!  It’s important to help each other be successful in transitioning to an animal-free diet and greater health!