Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Weekly Cooking Ritual

All of November I did not eat any sugar, processed foods or alcohol, and then in December I ate whatever for my birthday and the holidays. I had an eye opening experience since I felt way better while eating healthy. Of course this should not be surprising, but the amount of difference I felt was.

Currently I am trying to get back into eating really healthy like I did in November, but it is not an easy task. Sugar seems to be in everything, convenience food often involves processed foods, and I like to get drinks with my friends. I have also become addicted to these unhealthy foods, just like most people have, even if they don’t want to admit it.

Now is a time to remind myself of the flavors and benefits of wholesome foods. It is easy to get in a rut and just rely on certain foods that you know are tasty, but may not be the healthiest option. Vegetables, whole grains, beans, tofu, etc. has so much potential to create amazing meals, but sometimes you have to be a little creative.

A friend of mine is also staying away from sugars and processed foods for the next few months, so we started to get together once a week and prepare food. Last night was our third week together and everything we have made so far has been excellent.

Week 1:

Spaghetti squash with Tofu Ricotta (new love for squash!)
French Beans & Berries Salad using kale instead of spinach and tomatoes

Week 2:

Miso Vegetable Soup
Tofu Maple-Walnut Bake (recipe coming soon)
Wild Rice
Steamed Kale with lemon juice & tahini

Week 3:

Quinoa Protein Bars
Vegetable Whole Wheat Cassoulet

The Quinoa Protein Bars are a great option for a quick breakfast or snack. Sometimes I do not have time to cook up my oats in the morning (which I fill with fresh fruit, chia seeds and nuts so I don’t miss the sugar). These bars are a great alternative!
Quinoa Protein Bars

2 cups Quick Cooked Rolled Oats
1/2 cup Quinoa Grain
1/4 cup Flaxseeds Meal
3/4 cup Hemp Protein Powder
1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
1/2 cup Walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup Sunflower Seeds
1/2 cup Shredded Coconut
1/2 cup Date Sugar
1/2 cup Oat Flour
1/4 cup Oil
2 tsp Vanilla
1 cup Water
2 cups Berries

Cook dry quinoa according to directions. While this is cooking, combine oats, flax, protein powder, baking soda, date sugar, flour, walnuts, seeds, coconut and sea salt in a large bowl.

Once quinoa is cooked, add to the pan the oil, vanilla and water. Add wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix together. More water may be needed. Add the berries and mix to combine.

Spread mixture into greased 9 x 13-inch pan, pressing down with hands to fit into pan. Bake for 20 minutes at 350°F. Allow to cool and cut into pieces. Makes 15 bars.
* Add spices, apples, raisins, cranberries, other seeds and nuts to mix up flavors to make variety of different types of bars.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Fork Over Knives - A Documentary To Check Out

Forks Over Knives is premiering in Portland at Regal Fox Tower from January 7 -13. Please check it out and bring family and friends! Although the film was not perfect, overall I highly recommend checking it out.

I was actually not sure I was going to like it when the film first began. As a fat vegan who gets frustrated with the spreading of fat hate, scare statistics used by the “obesity epidemic” and the dehumanizing images about fat people, I am on high alert for further fat negative talk. The very first fact presented in the film was about Americans carrying around extra weight. There were images of faceless fat bodies and a lot of concentration about weight. This type of focus is detrimental to people and society. Luckily after that beginning segment, things got better.

For a documentary dealing with the health crisis in America, I am impressed that it mainly stayed on focus discussing heart disease, cancer, type 2 diabetes, the over use of medication and our overall well being as a nation. The film was really about nutrition as medicine since the influx of our biggest killers is correlated with the increase of meat, dairy and sugar consumption.

The government often commits to taking on a specific health crisis. For Nixon, it was the war on cancer. These days it is the obesity epidemic. Never in all these wars do we actually look at the cause of the disease (often diet and lifestyle). Research and medicine is encouraged rather than healthy living. Studies support that only 2% of cancers are genetically predisposed, meaning the rest of the cancers can be prevented, if we make the commitment to do so. Unfortunately the food, lifestyles and chemicals which cause cancer are supported by big money industries (meat, dairy, corn, pharmaceutical, Monsanto, etc.).

Dr. T. Collin Campbell and Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn used their years of research, clinical experience and observations to separately come to the realization that a plant based diet will increase human health and be beneficial, and that the standard American diet leads to disease. Research has further shown that a plant based diet will not only keep you healthy, but it can actually RESERVE health conditions, especially of the heart.

Have you ever heard of endothelial cells? These cells keep your arteries healthy by promoting blood flow, properly dilation of the blood vessels and inhibit plaque build up. Eating a meat-based diet actually destroys these cells, which contributes to the high percentages of heart-related diseases. If someone with clogged arteries switches to a plant-based diet, these cells actually start to heal. I had no idea about this, and appreciate being introduced to this knowledge by the movie.

Some people say that a vegan diet is extreme. The documentary makes a great point that what is really extreme is open-heart surgery, which is now commonplace. What else is extreme is the lack of nutrition in our diets, the amounts of medications we take and the lack of acknowledging what is really contributing to our unhealthy state.

I truly appreciate all the information the film provided and the undeniable facts concerning our food choices in America. The mixture of science and case studies of individuals saving their life by simply changing their food choices are astounding. I truly hope people take the good health message and take back their health. Check out this film when it gets to your area since there is so much more to learn! To find out more about this film visit forksoverknives.com.