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Home > Food ramblings and the pursuit of a vegan lifestyle

Food ramblings and the pursuit of a vegan lifestyle

January 26th, 2014 at 04:05 pm

By some miracle of concentration, I managed to complete three separate freelance jobs on Saturday. That included interviewing 2 different realtors and then writing 2 bios and a press release.

I hadn't wanted the work to take up my whole weekend. So with that out of the way, today I went to Macy's to use a $10 gift card I got as a credit card reward. I picked out a sleeveless shell, the kind of thing you wear under a blazer or other blouse, and saw it had been marked down to $22. I was even happier when I checked out and the real price was now $9, so I didn't have to spend any money.

Also went to Trader Joe's and filled up the gas tank, then back home to do some cooking: used up the rest of the kale to make some more kale salad (with fresh squeezed orange juice, organic orange zest, scallions and dried cranberries), a basmati rice pudding with cardamom pods, cinnamon stick, raisins and cloves with pomegranate seeds as a garnish (wasn't crazy with the way it turned out), some homemade baked beans with mustard, onions and mushrooms and a black bean/rice/corn salad which is also just "ok."

You win some, you lose some. I've been able to build up a solid lineup of 4 or so soups that I hit out of the ballpark, including my homemade pea soup with parsnips (a longtime favorite), a great vegetable soup, a tomato soup with sun-dried tomatoes and unsweetened cocoa powder and an excellent mushroom barley soup. I'd like to get a few more great soups so I can rotate them all winter long with no problem. I try many new recipes practically every weekend.

I'm being very good about sticking to my new vegan routine. I do have things in the house that should not be on my new diet, like some fish, but I'm not throwing anything away. It costs too much.

Interestingly, I spend just as much money grocery shopping for just veggies, fruits and nuts as I ever did when shopping for meat and fish. One reasons is that I often buy organic produce.

I have eaten very little red meat for years now, but what gave me motivation to go all the way vegan was after getting 4 or 5 books I'd asked for, for Christmas, all on healthy eating and nutrition. Their essential message was very similar (ie, eating a plant-based diet and all the bad stuff not just about red meat, but about poultry, dairy, eggs and MILK in particular)and hearing it from so many angles, it's hard to refute that. Not that I ever did, it was just laziness and human frailties. But now that I am in my 50s, I'm conscious of the fact that this is the time when many people start coming down with serious conditions or illnesses.

I already have one pretty serious illness....MS....but I do believe that my generally healthier diet these many years has helped me avoid the more serious relapses that many MS people have. The last time I had a relapse was in 2006, so I'm doing pretty darn well. I do have Dr. Swank's famous book on diet for MS people on my book shelf, and I do want to read it again.

I must say that eating nearly completely vegan for the past 2 weeks, I feel I have a lot of energy.

If I eat out or am at someone's house where something not on my diet is served, I'm not going to make a big deal out of it and refuse to eat. But when I'm home in my own kitchen, cooking for myself, I will stick to fruits, veggies, grains, nuts and seeds. And I think very small amounts of certain cheeses, like Parmesan and goat cheese, will be acceptable.

I keep making modifications to my diet as I go. For instance, I discovered how delicious roasted sunflower seeds were, and I bought bags of them before reading that the high heat used in the commercial roasting process changes the composition of the oil and makes unhealthy free radicals. Or something to that effect. So I am transitioning over to raw sunflower seeds now. I returned a few bags I hadn't yet opened, but to be honest, it's hard for me to throw away the remaining, opened bag of roasted seeds and I'm hoping that just a little bit more won't kill me.

Honestly, the hardest change that I have yet to make is to give up pasta entirely. It's really not good for you. And I don't like whole wheat pasta at all. Pasta is my go-to food whenever I need comforting and I can eat a pile of it in one sitting.

I've been pretty successful following Dr. Fuhrman's abbreviated prescription for healthy eating:
Every day, he says, you should eat:

1. at least a half cup of some kind of beans
2. one large bowl of salad greens
3. one ounce of nuts
4. at least 3 pieces of fruit

If you only concentrated on these 4 things, you'd go a long way toward really improving your health, not only becus of what you're eating, but becus the items above are also taking the place of at least some things you won't eat if your stomach is full from beans, fruit and nuts.

Closing on a happy note, I'm thinking back to a meeting at work last Friday where my boss was telling about how right before Christmas around midnight, she had to work on a message for the bank's website about the Target credit card fiasco. She said if I'd been writing it, it would have taken me 20 minutes but it took her an hour and a half. I said oh, you should have called, but it was on a weekend, at midnight, so actually, I'm glad she didn't. But she said again that she was so happy that I was there now (so she doesn't have to write anything because it doesn't come easy to her).

16 Responses to “Food ramblings and the pursuit of a vegan lifestyle”

  1. beawealthywarrior Says:

    I'm also trying to go more plant based this year but I'm taking things very slow. I've ben keeping a log and so far this month, I have had at least one meatless meal every day so far. I think that's pretty darn good SmileIf u don't mind, what 5 books did u get?

  2. PatientSaver Says:

    Oh, happy to share that:

    1. Super Immunity by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. Really liked this book.
    2. Healing Spices by Bharat B. Aggarwal PhD Another GREAT book
    3. Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson
    4. The China Study: This is good too, but a little harder to get through

    Earlier in the year I had read Wheat Belly and Fat Chance.

    Still waiting for me on my night table is Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition.

  3. creditcardfree Says:

    Here's a soup you may like that we have recently enjoyed...Moroccan Lentil Soup. My mom gave me the recipe after we ate this at Christmas. I'm not familiar with the site, but I have made this soup at least three times already.

  4. wisewoman Says:

    I posted this on another blog...Celery root/carrot puree. Love, Love, Love it! Check out Claire Robinson's recipe on Food Network. It's so simple. I add garlic and when I don't have shallot's, I use onion. I make a double batch and freeze it.

    I also make Alton Brown's Lentil soup. Hands down the best lentil soup ever! I use pepper in lieu of "grains of paradise" which is expensive and hard to find. It also freezes well.

    Check out Whole Living cleanse for 2012. They have a spicy butternut squash soup which is divine. I make all of the above on a regular basis.

    I'm a pescatarian. 90% vegetarian with the occasional fish. I checked out Joel Fuhrman's book and have a hard time sticking to it 100% because of boredom.

  5. M E 2 Says:

    I think heredity plays a HUGE role in health issues as well.

  6. ceejay74 Says:

    Sounds great so far! I've been vegan for about 20 years and my only health issues (which may be down to being a petite Caucasian woman, or a certain birth control I took for a while, or to poor nutrition in my childhood, so possibly not my veganism) is a borderline anemia from time to time, and a slight bone density issue. My blood pressure and cholesterols (good and bad) are the kind that make nurses sound impressed when they tell me the reading.

    I've never had a ton of energy naturally (I would be a rather sloth-like creature if I could get away with it and if it wasn't really bad for my health) but turning vegan certainly didn't make me lazier. I noticed when I first went vegan, even though I went from an unhealthy omnivore diet to an equally imbalanced vegan diet, I immediately had far fewer illnesses in the winter.

    i applaud the unprocessed, pasta-free approach. We do eat tons of beans and fruit and veggies and a fair amount of nuts, but we tend to pair it with a pasta, or white rice, or a fake meat (either the supermarket kind, which have a ton of ingredients, or tofu, which some think is bad but I'm not convinced isn't healthy, or seitan, which doesn't have many ingredients but the main one is wheat gluten, so probably as bad as pasta).

    It's all about finding common ground. AS doesn't like soup, curries, lentils -- all sorts of odd food aversions. And we all have certain dishes we're not crazy about so we try to stay away from everyone's least favorites. It turns out that the things we all agree on (and the cheapest) tend to be pastas, sandwiches, and fake meats (if we get the supermarket ones, we tend to wait until they're on sale and/or we have coupons).

  7. creditcardfree Says:

    @wisewoman, I'm pretty sure I have had that Butternut Squash soup...again made by my mother. It was really good. I should make that one here at our house.

  8. wisewoman Says:

    ccf..you won't be disappointed. The recipe has turmeric which is uber healthy and cleansing..especially the liver. I punch it up a bit because I love turmeric. Smile

  9. Suzanne Says:

    I'm curious what you do about calcium. I'm about your age and the doc tells me I should have 3 servings of dairy a day to get enough calcium. Are there any fruits/veggies with calcium?


  10. PatientSaver Says:

    Oh my goodness. Spinach, Kale, Soy beans, wite beans, some fish are all great sources of calcium. There are also many foods already calcium fortified, like orange juice, oatmeal, and breakfast cereals.

    By the way, you should NOT get your calcium from a supplement. http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/high-calcium-intake-from-supplements-linked-to-heart-disease-in-men-201302065861

  11. PatientSaver Says:

    Ceejay, dried beans and dark green leafy vegetables are especially good sources of iron, even better on a per calorie basis than meat. Iron absorption is increased markedly by eating foods containing vitamin C along with foods containing iron.

  12. PatientSaver Says:

    ME2, actually, according to The China Study, while heredity/genes do play a role in our risks of getting disease, "lifestyle" and diet issues matter a lot more.

    According to the author, while genes are important, "Much of this focus on genes, however, misses a simple but crucial point: not all genes are fully expressed all the time. If they aren't activated or expressed, they remain biochemically dormant. Dormant genes do not have any effect on our health. What happens to cause some genes to remain dormant, and others to express themselves? The answer: environment, especially diet. ..furthermore, we have seen disease rates change over time so drastically that is is biologically impossible to put the blame on genes. In 25 years, the percent of our population that is obese has doubled, from 15 to 30%. In addition, diabetes, heart disease and many other diseases of affluence were rare until recent history and our genetic code simply could not have changed significantly int he past 250, 100 or even 500 years."

    Gene expression, he says, is far more important, and gene expression is controlled by environment, especially nutrition.

  13. ceejay74 Says:

    Maybe that's why the low iron/borderline anemic thing hasn't come up for a long time; we eat dark leafy greens and/or broccoli at least once a week, and dried beans too. The last time it did I was pregnant, and that was over 4 years ago! I remember having this uncontrollable craving for baked potatoes, especially the skin, and later found out there's iron in potato skins.

  14. ceejay74 Says:

    PatientSaver, just read this article and thought you might be interested too: It's on o.canada.com and the http extension is /health/diet-fitness/got-milk-leading-harvard-nutritionist-questions-cow-milks-role-in-human-health/#.UucrOqeCqD4.twitter

  15. ceejay74 Says:

    (I wasn't able to post the URL as is so I broke it in two. Hope that makes sense!)

  16. PatientSaver Says:

    Ceejay, the American Dairy Council is a very powerful lobby, and they and other groups will seek to squash news like this, which actually was mentioned in The China Study, published a few years ago. There's so much money riding on our continued willingness to drink cow's milk.

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