Saturday, April 30, 2011

How to Experience Body Euphoria

Have you ever heard of the condition "body dysmorphia"? Wikipedia describes it like this: "Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD), sometimes referred to as body dysmorphia or dysmorphic syndrome, is a (psychological) somatoform disorder in which the affected person is excessively concerned about and preoccupied by a perceived defect in his or her physical features (body image). The sufferer may complain of several specific features or a single feature, or a vague feature or general appearance, causing psychological distress that impairs occupational and/or social functioning, sometimes to the point of severe depression and anxiety, development of other anxiety disorders, social withdrawal or complete social isolation, and more."

Yesterday on the blog Medicinal Marzipan, a blog about body image and unconditional self love, there was a guest posting entitled "Creating Bonds Around Self-Love Instead of Negative Self Talk" by Emilie Littlehales, of the blog I Came to Run and the Embrace: Me Project.

In it she makes an observation that is so true, so powerful, I just had to share it here: "From an early age, we [women] learn to dislike our bodies. There are a variety of factors that play a role in this, but we have to be careful not to underestimate the degree to which our interactions with other girls and women influence us in this regard. Sooner or later, negative body image becomes a common feeling over which we learn to bond, and a sisterhood that centers on sharing our thoughts on how much we dislike parts of physical selves develops. It�s a disturbing phenomenon when you take a step back to look at it: you can�t walk into a room one day and declare how good you feel about your thighs, doing so might result in you being the victim of silent, seething resentment. But say that you feel fat or disgusting, and you will find that the entire room knows exactly how you feel."

What Emilie is describing is pervasive in our society today. Just the other day a friend came up to me and asked me for advice on how to get in shape. I asked her what her current fitness program was and she said she was working out every day . . . every day! . . . doing the Insanity videos in her basement.

I said, "That's amazing! So what is it that you would like to improve upon?"

And she said, "Well, I'd like to lose ten pounds" and I was thinking "If you lose ten pounds you might need to be hospitalized." I told her flat out that she was suffering from Body Dysmorphia but she didn't seem to care. It's just like Emilie described. We are conditioned to hate our bodies when there is nothing wrong with them. We feel that we must vocalize this dissatisfaction or we won't be accepted into the club.

So afterwards, my husband, who was also present at the conversation, came up with a new condition that we are calling "Body Euphoria."

Here's our definition: It is the state of mind that you are in after treating yourself well for an extended period of time. Conditions include (1) participation in moderate exercise that you truly enjoy, (2) eating  nutritious, unprocessed, plant strong food and (3) achieving your happy weight, where even though your body has no resemblance to a model in a magazine and never will, you are thrilled with how you look, and more importantly, how you feel.

That's the state I am in today. Body Euphoria. Strong, balanced, healthy. Sure, I don't look like any model, but I'll take it! And I want to share it with you.

What is your current state of mind?

Do you think you can let go of your own negative self talk?

What do you hope to achieve?

Friday, April 29, 2011

Tips from Teri The Vitamix Lady, Part I, Fresh Fruit Smoothies

Are you a regular smoothie maker? Do you own a VitaMix or other high speed blender?

My friends and I were fortunate enough to be invited over to Kim's house (there she is below), for, amongst other things, a special demonstration of food preparation with the VitaMix. It was so much fun and I learned so much, so of course, I want to share it with you. Thanks Kim and Teri!

I'm going to start out with smoothie tips.

Tip #1: Put the ice in last. Putting it in first is a surefire way to wear out your blender.
Tip #2: Along the same lines as tip #1, load your blender from soft to hard: soft ingredients at the bottom up to harder ingredients at the top.
Tip #3: Leave the seeds in and the stems on. Ex. Strawberry stems and carrot stems, cantaloupe seeds, grape seeds (think resveratrol), the pith and seeds of an orange, pineapple cores (okay, that's not a seed or stem, but you get the picture--lots and lots of fiber). We throw out a lot of the nutrition in our food that in a blender becomes indistinguishable!

Tip #4: But not the seeds of an apple . . . they contain arsenic!

Tip #5: Even the little nub end of the banana--it contains the seeds of the banana, and thus the most nutrition!
Tip #6: A straight up fruit smoothie? No greens? No flaxseed? I wouldn't drink this for breakfast everyday, but all of that fruit together, plus some ice, makes a really wonderful, refreshing dessert smoothie that your whole family will love. I could totally see serving this to guests at a brunch and really wowing them. Today we had it as an afternoon snack. YUM!
Oh how I heart you VitaMix!

Did you know that you could put all of that stuff into your smoothies??

Hydrogen Peroxide and Pimple Experiment

From previous experiences, I knew that applying coconut oil to my face would cause acne, but I just had to ignore that lesson, didn't I?  Well, the result was worse than expected; by Monday I had a humongous pimple on my nose.  Ahhh!!  It's probably one of the largest (if not the largest) pimples I've ever had.  Anyway, I immediately went to the toothpaste trick and then the baking soda scrub (more of a preventative aid than a treatment).  Though both methods were helping, the shrinking was an extremely gradual process.  I needed the monstrosity gone by Friday for an event I was to attend.  There had to be a faster method, right? ....

Well, after perusing the Web I came across one interesting reality.  Reducing the bacteria involved in acne can speed up the shrinking process.  Benzoyl peroxide was recommended (which I've tried in the past but had little success with from what I can recall).  Rather than go purchase another product with this compound, I decided to use what was already in my cabinet - hydrogen peroxide.  Well, what'd you know.  The pimple shrunk so fast overnight. I'm impressed!


Short Series: Remnants of PJ-ism

This will be a short series on my attempt to finish a few remaining products from my 'product junkie' (PJ) days.

product junkie /'pr�d?kt 'j?NGke/ Noun
A person with an obsessive habit of purchasing and collecting products, particularly hair products.  

Today's remaining product: Kinky Curl Custard (KCC).

I actually like this product but do not really have a need for it in my regimen ... hence why it's got to go.  It's been sitting in my cabinet for over a year (maybe a year and a half?) and is on the verge of going bad.  That being said, it's the first on my "to finish" list.

Finishing strategy: Mix KCC with my homemade shea butter mix to create a super DUPER moisturizer and twisting/twistout custard in one!  I'm so loving the end result.

OPR: White Bean and Mango Burritos

What is "OPR" you wonder? Well, it stands for "other people's recipes." I'm not much of a chef, if you haven't noticed, but what I am a master at is scouring the world for Plant Strong, Nutritarian recipes and then making and eating them. After I take some photographs that is!

Here's a new favorite that I discovered: White Bean and Mango Burritos from The Real Meal Today blog. They could not have been any easier or any more delicious! If you are craving Mexican food, give these a try. Go here to check out the original recipe, which would have been so spicy I'm not sure that I could have eaten them. I made a few modifications to the heat, to the proportions and also by adding lettuce. Spinach or any other green would work well too!
Here's my version:

White Bean and Mango Burritos
serves 4

2 15 ounce cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained 
1 large ripe mango, peeled and diced (about 1 1/2 cups of diced mango)
1cup chopped cilantro
1/4 tsp Cayenne powder (less or more to personal preference!)
1 1/2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 1/2 Tbsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
6 medium whole wheat tortillas( as healthy as you can get them)
2 cups chopped lettuce

Combine all ingredients except the tortillas in a large bowl, mix by hand until incorporated. Using a handheld immersion blender, puree about 1/4 of the mixture right in the bowl with all of the ingredients. Remix everything. This will give the mixture a more solid feel and pieces of beans will not be falling out when you bite or cut it.

Soften the tortillas by putting over an open flame on you're stove, over a grill or in the microwave for a few seconds. This will make them easier to roll and move without cracking. Place 1/2 cup chopped lettuce and 1/2 cup of the bean mixture at the bottom of the tortilla, roll over forward 1 turn, fold sides in and then continue to roll to the end.

Optional: place on sheet tray and bake for 10-15 min at 325 degrees.

How do you get your Mexican Food fix?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Did You Win a Copy of Unprocessed by Chef A.j.?

If you were the 28th person to leave a comment to my blog posting on Thursday, April 21st, you did! Winner was chosen at random using the random number generator at
That would be you, Kat, from Kat's Health Corner! Congratulations and thank you to everyone who so generously shared your experiences on your Plant Strong journeys.

Now Kat, please send me your address so that I can ship you your book!

My sympathies to those of you that really, really want Chef A.j.'s book but didn't win. You'll have to do what I did and buy it from! I promise you, if you make the recipes from Chef A.j.'s book, you will wow any non-believers (ie junk food nomming carnivores)!

Do you like blogger giveaways? What would you get really excited about if you had a chance at winning it (besides the obvious lottery that is)?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Superheroes of the Healthy Vegan Movement to be on the Dr. Oz Show Tomorrow

Forks Over Knives  will be featured on The Dr. Oz show on Wednesday, April 27. Colin Campbell, Ph.D., Caldwell Esselstyn, M.D., Neal Barnard, M.D., Rip Esselstyn, and Lee Fulkerson appear to discuss the film and its topics.

Visit the Dr. Oz Listings Page for a schedule of cities, stations and times. You can bet I'll be setting my DVR tonight!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Protective Styling with Short Wigs

Summer is months away, but we can still plan for it, yes?  Short, cropped hairstyles are creeping in this season and will still be in during the hot months.  Check out the video below showing a super cute and sleek short wig.  Hmm, a possible summer protective style? :o)

Ani Phyo's Fresh Mango Cobbler

If you haven't entered my blogger giveaway to win a a copy of Chef A.j.'s book, Unprocessed, it's not too late. If you haven't read the responses, I highly recommend that too. Very inspiring stuff in there!

The long Cleveland winter is officially over! It's almost May, so I think it's safe to assume it won't snow again. It's almost 70 degrees and the sun is shining. My windows are wide open as I type this and as warm  wind blows through my living room. I'm grateful and happy that Spring is here.

I'm also grateful that my family and I were invited over to a friend's house for brunch yesterday. When I asked what I could bring, the host requested a dessert. "Perfect," I thought, "perfect for a girl without a kitchen! I can bring a raw vegan dessert."

Are you familiar with the craze that is raw vegan desserts? I was first exposed to the concept when I met Toby, a woman who was eating exclusively raw. She served me a raw vegan key lime pie and it was extraordinary, along with everything else she made. I toyed with the idea of going raw for a few weeks, mostly because of the lure of eating a lot of very sweet, very rich desserts. You see, one of the promises of "going raw" is that dessert is practically a daily indulgence.

"Enjoy live-food desserts without guilt or worry! By eating live-food desserts in this section, you might actually lose weight!"
Bull s#!t.

That was a quote from raw food guru and multi cookbook author Ani Phyo. But I won't hold it against her. I have to take responsibility for being an idiot. In the time that I spent being "raw" I think I gained ten pounds. "Lose weight" my a$$!

My recommendation? When you do decide to indulge in a dessert, go raw. No question. Raw desserts are basically composed of three things: fruit, nuts and dates. So at least you are getting some vitamins and minerals with your sugar. But don't be fooled, these treats should be the exception, not the rule, of a healthy diet.

So when it came time to have some fun making a dessert, I went right to Ani. I've got a copy of one of her cookbooks, Ani's Raw Food Kitchen. In it she raves about her Fresh Mango Cobbler. And I have to agree, it ranks up there with the best desserts ever. It could go head to head in a competition with Jane Esselstyn's Incredible Unnamed Dessert (which was actually inspired by a Chef A.j. recipe called "Chocolate Fundue"). During the pre-brunch taste test, everyone in my family loved it.

Even the incredibly picky Maya!

I thought it would be nice to present the Fresh Mango Cobbler in a trifle bowl. So pretty!

Want to experiment with an Apple Cobbler version of this? Check out Chefjellynow's Raw Apple Crumble.  I'm definitely making that one the next time I'm asked to bring a dessert. His blog, The Real Meal Today, is very new. Let's give this Nutritarian Chef at Whole Foods the Healthy Girl's Kitchen warm welcome (and by that, I mean check out his blog and leave a comment)!
Have you caught wind of the raw vegan dessert craze? Are you/were you sucked in by it's allure like I was?

Saturday, April 23, 2011

And They Said I Wouldn't Cook: Toaster Oven Socca

Thank you to everone who has already entered my blogger giveaway to win a copy of Chef A.j.'s book, Unprocessed. The responses are downright inspiring and it's not too late to enter if you haven't done so yet.

Prior to becoming a Nutritarian, a lot of people have legitimate concerns about whether or not this is a doable lifestyle for them. Unfortunately, as a society, we have become overly reliant on cheap, easy "food" that has little to no nutritional value. It's pretty obvious when considering this way of life that your habits in the kitchen department are going to have to change pretty entirely. Some people have even vocalized that they just don't know where to begin or even how to prepare healthy real food given their schedule and lifestyle. But I am here to say that you must make the choice. It's cook or get cooked, by disease that is. Either you take responsibility for your health or you don't. It's that simple.

Before I began kitchen renovations, my contractor, Dan Dureiko, said I wouldn't cook once our renovation was underway.

My friend, Brian Green, asked, "Do you know about the hidden cost of kitchen renovations?"

"No," I replied, shaking in my high healed, black suede, slouchy boots. This is already way over budget.

"Eating out in restaurants," he laughed.

"I'll show them all," I thought. Plus, there's pretty much no where to go out to eat when you are working hard to be an oil free, plant strong, Nutritarian Vegan.

My back's against the wall.

So I'm cooking, without a kitchen. A stew in my crock pot, quinoa salad in my rice cooker, I've even placed an order for a pressure cooker from I'm not letting a little thing like this

slow me down for a minute! If I can manage to get healthy real food on my table every day without a real kitchen, I won't accept any one's excuses!

This morning I was exploring the message boards on Dr. Fuhrman's Member Center for the first time ever, after participating in a webinar last last night where I learned how to navigate the monster, I came upon a thread about "Socca." It's a little like a bread, a little like a pancake. I've been seeing bloggers talk about it on and off for over a year now, so I was curious when I discovered that it was being referenced amongst Nutritarians. I quickly figured out that I could adapt it for my toaster oven so my 6 year old and I decided to go for it.

I'm pretty sure it was popularized by Michelle and Lori, the Pure2Raw twins over at Here are two links that are worth exploring if you are so inclined:
All about Socca
The Socca Videos

Of course Maya wanted to start with their Chocolate Socca (sans the cardamom, she's just 6).

I decided to spray my pans with coconut oil spray instead of using the 3 Tbsp of coconut oil that The Twins call for. As you can see from the pictures below, it worked just beautifully without all of that oil.

I divided the batter into 2 9" round cake pans. Perfect size for my toaster oven! Here it is after baking for 20 minutes.

They popped out easily, just like the twins said they would!

Drizzled with maple syrup. My kids took one bite and they were done. I'm pretty sure they were expecting a sweet pancake, but they are more like a moist, dense bread and there is no sweetness except for the topping that you use. Next time I am going to try the straight up plain variety. Making the socca was so fast and easy with the detailed descriptions from The Twins, thanks Pure2Raw!

Have you ever made Socca? What were your results?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Blogger Giveaway! Unprocessed by Chef A.j. and a few F.A.Q.s Answered

Today's super duper awesome giveaway is a copy of Unprocessed, complements of no-oil vegan chef extraordinaire, Chef A.j.

Thanks Chef A.j. for making this possible!

In order to enter to win the prize, you must be an e-mail subscriber or RSS feed subscriber to Healthy Girl's Kitchen (if you aren't already, you can do that over there on the left margin of the blog) AND you must answer the questions at the bottom of this posting. Winner will be chosen from valid entries and will be selected at random. Contest will close on Wednesday, April 27th at 5 pm EST and winner will be announced on Thursday, April 28th no later than 9 am EST.

I also want to thank Alipet813 for inspiring the contest question. In a comment made to Part II of my Dr. Neal Barnard Lecture blog posting, Alipet813 asked me the following questions:

"Were you a big meat eater before? I grew up on a farm and I am big on meat. However, the more I read the more I know I need to cut it way back. How do I do that without feeling deprived? I would love your advice. Your recipes are always wonderful."

Well, Alipet, you caught me! I have to admit it, I was never a big meat eater. In fact, I was vegetarian for an entire decade. Once I found out how animals were treated on factory farms, I stopped eating their flesh almost immediately, but still ate all forms of dairy and eggs. And it wasn't hard for me to do because I have never been a craver of any form of meat.

Now before you tune out what I have to say, I want you to know that my personal challenge when it comes to healthy eating is staying away from dessert. Now if you want to know how I went from a daily sweet eater into a rarely eat sweets eater, see this post and this post. I promise you, if you want to eliminate meat from your diet, you will be able to, but it does take PATIENCE and PERSISTENCE. And even then, it doesn't mean that you will NEVER eat meat again for the rest of your life. You may choose to eat it on occasion. But it will never again have the hold on you that it does now. If I could conquer sugar, I believe anyone can conquer any food "addiction."

"Sometimes my busy schedule and the fact that I am new to changing my eating habits means I don't have a lot of the ingredients on hand and makes it a bit expensive or overwhelming. However, I am definitely using your tips for new veggie based meal ideas."

Stick with it! The more you cook from the plant strong, unprocessed cookbooks and blogs, the easier and easier it becomes. There are MANY times now where I will see a recipe and already have all of the ingredients on hand. This will happen for you too. It just occurs naturally. You will begin to gravitate towards recipes that have the flavor profiles that you love and you will start to see those flavor profiles reoccurring in many author's recipes. I for one really like chickpeas and sweet potatoes and I can't begin to tell you how many different dishes I have made combining the two ingredients from so many different bloggers and cookbook authors.

A good thing to get into the habit of doing is substituting ingredients in a recipe for what you have on hand. For example, if a recipe calls for fresh lime juice and all you have are fresh lemons, well, just go ahead and juice those. Currants called for in a salad and you don't stock 'em in your pantry? Put raisins in the dish. You get the picture. The more you cook this way, the easier and easier it gets.

I have been asked to do a post on what I keep in my pantry and it might be a great time to do that. I would also like to blog about the staples that I keep in my fridge and freezer.

"One more question...did you cut out oil? I am confused about this part of the healthy eating beliefs. I would love more info on that or a link to somewhere in your blog that you may have already discussed it."

Yes, approximately one year ago I basically cut out most oil from my diet. I say "most" because I continue to eat in restaurants 5 days a week for lunch and about once a week for dinner. All restaurants use oil and salt. I have never heard of an oil free restaurant. I also continue to eat hummus--of all brands and varieties--not just the tahini free ones (tahini is a ground sesame seed butter and is almost 100% fat). I am just not ready for that level of commitment. Occasionally I will have a cheese substitute from the company Daiya which is just oil disguised as cheese. I try to stay away from Earth Balance (although I do let one of my kids eat it as a transition food) because it too is just 100% oil that is being sold to the consumer as a health food. Shame on them.

I no longer cook at all with oil, but will occasionally spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray if I think something is going to stick. I also make a lot of my own oil free salad dressings in my VitaMix blender.

It is very easy to transition away from oil. You can saute in broth, water or juice very easily. Read about it here and here. For salad dressings, just do a search for no oil salad dressing on this blog or even on google and you will find a lot of ideas.

I do eat avocados, nuts and seeds, but I do try hard to eat these things in moderation. They are extremely high in calories, but at least they are loaded with nutrition. Processed oil--which includes extra virgin olive oil and canola oil--is not a health food. To borrow a phrase from Rip Esselstyn, "Olive oil is the triumph of marketing over science." For more on the subject, pick up a copy of Dr. Esselstyn's book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease or if you are lucky enough to see him speak in person, grab the chance. It was hearing Dr. Esselstyn speak that convinced me to go vegan almost entirely and also to eliminate oil from my diet, again, almost entirely. If I had any symptoms of heart disease I would eliminate oil totally and entirely.
So here it is folks, the questions that you must answer to enter the blogger giveaway . . .
Are you cutting meat and dairy, oil or processed foods out of your diet? If so, which ones?  And how difficult is this for you (scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being really, really hard)? Do you have ideas on how to cut out meat, dairy, oil or processed food without feeling deprived?

Dr. Neal Barnard Comes to Cleveland, Part II and a Chef A.j. Inspired Quinoa Salad

Here I am at work today, enjoying my variation on Chef A.j.'s Quinoa Salad with Pistachios and Currants, for BREAKFAST. Not my usual fare, but sometimes I just can't eat the same green smoothie again.

I'm still thinking about some of the things I learned at Dr. Barnard's lecture on Tuesday evening.  Here are a few more of the highlights:

1) Even non vegans should be taking a B12 supplement, especially after age 50. There just isn't enough of it in any food for anyone to get enough of it, whether they eat cow or not.

2) Why a low fat diet works so well for weight loss. There are two components to the lean vegan effect. First, because a low fat vegan diet is so high in fiber (plant roughage, fruit and beans), your appetite never gets out of control and you are so much less likely to overeat, a.k.a. "Volumetrics." I have found this to be miraculously true. And second, the thermic effect of food is at work. Also termed "the after meal calorie burn," the following is an explanation of this mechanism:

"Contrary to many popular diet books, Dr. Barnard says: 'Insulin is your best friend when it is working properly.' What�s more, 'Carbohydrates are not the enemy,' says Dr. Barnard. 'They are, in fact, our natural energy source.' Insulin, made by a gene on chromosome 11, can stimulate calorie burn. The problem is it can also shut down fat burn. The trick of is finding a proper balance between the two functions. Again, according to Dr. Barnard, the key is the type of food you eat.

The job of insulin is to push the proteins and sugars we eat into our cells to build body parts and provide fuel (glycogen) for our movements. 'Insulin travels to your muscles, liver, and fat tissues, where it pushes proteins and sugars into your cells,' says Dr. Barnard. 'As it does so, it temporarily shuts down your fat burning machinery,' he adds. That makes sense, of course, because there�s no need to burn fat when food is being pushed into the cells.

Happily, the building process inside the cells speeds up the metabolism and burns calories. '[It�s] is a big job, causing your cells to actually release calories in the form of heat,' says Dr. Barnard. This after-meal metabolism boost is called the thermic effect of food (TEF). 'It�s a nice way to burn calories,' says Barnard. 'All you do is eat, and your body does the rest. These calories are gone forever � they never even get a chance to turn into fat.'

The foods with the biggest TEF are those containing plenty of complex carbohydrates or a mixture of carbs and protein. 'For example, broccoli and other vegetables are about 50 percent complex carbs and 40 percent protein, a mix for a good burn,' says Dr. Barnard. 'On the other hand, butter, chicken grease, and [egg yoke] are just fat, and deliver a much poorer burn.' Again, plant foods win out over animal foods.

Under normal circumstances, the interruption in fat burning is brief. A problem arises if you become flabby and out of shape, however, because your insulin doesn�t work as well. The extra fat on your body requires more insulin and your calorie-burning system becomes sluggish. 'The body produces more and more insulin, and it shuts off fat burning more effectively than it should,' says Dr. Barnard.

You�re insulin also works overtime if you snack constantly. An endless stream of junk food never gives your insulin a chance to rest. 'If you have a constant supply of snacks, your body has no need to use its fat, and insulin keeps your fat-burning processes slower than they would normally be,' Dr. Barnard writes.

A lack of fiber is also a problem. 'Normally, fiber � plant roughage � helps keep insulin levels in check by slowing the release of sugars from the food you eat,' Dr. Barnard counsels.

To keep your after-meal calorie burn up and minimize fat-burn stoppage Dr. Barnard suggests a diet high in healthy carbohydrates and fiber, and low in fat."

3) It's never too late to undo the damage done by years of poor eating. Have you ever cut your finger? Did it heal? Of course it did! The same goes for your internal parts . . .the human body will heal if given a chance!

Dr. Barnard would love this quinoa salad that I'm eating as I type this. I threw it together last night and didn't have all of the ingredients that Chef A.j. called for, but it was outstanding nonetheless!

Simple Quinoa Salad with Currants and Pistachios
based on a recipe from Unprocessed by Chef A.j.

8 cups cooked quinoa
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (the juice of 3 lemons)
3/4 cup pistachios
1 cup currants
1 cup finely chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

Combine ingredients in a large bowl and toss. Enjoy!


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dr. Neal Barnard is Adorable, I Mean, Comes to Cleveland, Part I

Last night I had the privilege of attending a lecture at John Carroll University. Sponsored by Whole Foods Markets, the speaker was Dr. Neal Barnard, President of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine ( In case you don't know him, he is one of the leaders in the fight against the obesity epidemic and guess what? His views are right in line with Dr. Esselstyn, Dr. Fuhrman and Dr. McDougall, ie he recommends a low fat vegan diet as a healthy long term solution to our national weight and disease problem.

If you live in Cleveland and are interested in participating in a 21 Day Weight Loss Kickstart, which is based off of Dr. Barnard's new book by the same name, there is one starting on Monday at Whole Foods!

Monday, April 25th - Monday, May 16th
Dr. Neal Barnard's 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart Immersion
7:00 p.m. (optional walk at 6:30) Free

Fresh off Dr. Barnard's Cleveland visit, Whole Foods Market Cedar Center is offering a 21 Day Weight Loss Kickstart Immersion program, based on Dr. Barnard's recent book, conducted by our healthy eating specialist Ellen Darby. Immersions are conducted as a group with support, tips, and advice from Ellen. Four scheduled meet-ups will include educational and inspirational topics. This can be a great way to start a life-changing journey to improve your health! Sign up at the Health Starts Here Hub area (behind the bananas) on a form provided, or email to get registered!

I'm ashamed to say that I own a copy of Dr. Barnard's low fat vegan cookbook and I haven't had the time to explore anything in it yet! With the explosion of publishing of healthy vegan cookbooks of late, I've got my hands full! But seeing him live and in person last night will surely be the thing to get me to start testing his recipes and telling you about them.
Dr. Neal Barnard at John Carroll University 4/19/11
He's really, really funny.
It's a little hard to tell from this photo, but here is an example of a couple who participated in one of Dr. Barnard's test groups. Hillary and Bruce went from looking puffy and unfortunately very average (this is the sad state here in the US) to appearing lean and gorgeous. Their transformation was astounding. 
Dr. Barnard really geared his talk towards people who know nothing about the possibilities of a low fat vegan diet. He had some great advice for people just beginning to consider this way of eating. Clearly, Dr. Barnard knows that this diet seems radical to many people and that even the thought of making changes like this can be overwhelming enough that many people check out immediately.

His advice? Divide your "plate" or diet into four equal pieces. He calls it "The Power Plate."

Consume vegetables, fruits, beans and legumes in roughly the same volume and eat fats (nuts, seeds, oils, avocado) sparingly.

How does a newbie go about making the switch without hitting the off button?

Step one, explore the possibilities. Do you like pancakes made with eggs and white flour cooked in butter in the morning? Try a whole grain vegan pancake recipe and skip the butter. Write down what you normally eat and take the time to find low fat vegan recipes for the same or similar foods.

Step two, do a three week (21 day) test drive. Forget about what is going to happen twenty years or even one year from now. Don't think about growing a long hippie beard or wearing tie dye t-shirts! Just commit for 21 days. You will feel so differently after that period and you can make a decision whether or not to continue with a low fat vegan diet at that time. You do not need to look at this as forever or never! Chances are extremely high that you will lose weight and feel so much energy that something inside of you will shift, at least toward eating a lot more beans, vegetables, fruits and grains that even if you don't choose to become a Vegan you will fundamentally change the way you view food and nourish your body.

And lastly, as an option, certainly not a must do, use transition foods to get you through in the beginning. Basically, transition foods are fake meat products that are made from grains and highly processed to resemble animal protein. There are a lot on the market now--from sausage substitutes to "chicken" nuggets, "hot dogs," "hamburgers," and "cold cuts." It's not the preferred way of eating, but certainly purchase these products if it is the make or break thing from getting you to give low fat vegan a try!

Chefs Nichole and Eric from Whole Foods gave a speedy cooking demo of three Dr. Barnard recipes.
Low fat vegan cooking can be fast, easy and delicious!

Stay tuned for Part II of Dr. Barnard's lecture which I will post tomorrow.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Warning-Do Not Open Unless You Want to Subject Yourself to Kitchen Renovation Update #1

I know that most of my beloved readers cannot give a rat's arse about what is going on in my home these days, but for the few of you that are curious (Hi Mom, Dad and Caroline!) I am going to be providing some progress reports along the way through photographs.

This was my kitchen (sans refrigerator and hardware--they had already been removed on Friday) yesterday morning:

Entering my kitchen yesterday afternoon . . .

What a difference a day makes!

Monday, April 18, 2011

3in6: Almost Halfway

See "3in6 Challenge" details here.

Alright, ladies!  We are almost halfway through the challenge.  This coming weekend, I'll take out these twists and put in another set.  You know the routine.  :o)  As the summer approaches, I'll switch from wearing twists every 4-ish weeks to wearing them every 2-ish weeks ... maybe 3.  My washes will be upped from biweekly to weekly.

In other news, my hair broke my 1-year-old trusty black jaw clip today.  :o(  Fortunately, my new Ficcare accessories arrived just in time for the rescue.  :o)  (I'll give a review of the Ficcare clips - purchased by me as a belated birthday gift - in the weeks to come.)

How are you ladies gearing up for the final half of the challenge?  How do you wear your protective styles as they age?
{Ficcare clips from}

Youtube: Veggie and Apple Smoothie

Spinach, celery, carrots, apples, garlic, and ginger .... then apple juice, rice milk, or coconut water ...

Vegan Myths Debunked . . . Enjoy!

This puts a BIG smile on my face. Hope you enjoy it too!

And in more news from the plant based diet front, the UN is now saying that humans can and must reduce their consumption of animal products in order to stop global climate change. Read all about it here.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Gary Taubes, Mark Bittman and The New York Times Really Have a lot to Teach Us About Food

Just a few diddies to keep your healthy eating inspiration level high . . .

For those of you who haven't caught wind on the stir that The New York Times is causing about sugar, you can catch up by reading Is Sugar Toxic? by Gary Taubes. I don't know where your head is at, but I am trying very hard to keep my sugar consumption as low as possible these days and reading articles like this one make it a lot easier for me to turn down the sweet stuff.

A few days ago I was just kicking back and I decided to see what I could find to watch on TED that might be interesting. This lecture that I found by Mark Bittman, the extraordinary food writer, also from The New York Times, moved me. There were tears in my eyes. I hope you will take the time to watch. The future depends on it.

Did you watch the video? Please chime in if you did! What emotions did you experience while watching this?

Thoughts on Pigging Out at Dante, a Trendy (not Vegan) Restaurant

Last night I went out for a lavish dinner for my brother-in-law's 40th birthday (Happy Birthday Rob!). I'd been looking forward to the experience for months, but not because of what I might eat. In actuality, it was all about Rob's birthday, a night off from parenting and what I was going to wear, in no particular order. We don't get babysitters too often, and when we do, we always go to the movies. So when I know months ahead of time that we are going out on a Saturday night to a hip neighborhood in Cleveland (yes, we do have those) you can bet I'm going to look forward to it.

But last night surpassed my expectations by 100 miles.

The restaurant, Dante, brainchild of chef and musician Dante Boccuzzi, was chosen by my brother-in-law Rob and his wife Kathy (biggest carnivore I know, hands down) as apparently this is the spot that you can find them on many a Saturday night. I thought about doing the "call-ahead" move and letting the kitchen know that a Vegan (not that I even qualify, but it's easier than explaining the whole Nutritarian thing over the phone) was coming, but I didn't want to be a bother. Something inside my head was saying, "Leave it alone, if you tell them that a Vegan is coming they will probably put pig fat in your food just to spite you."

I even glanced at the menu before we left, but I must have been extremely distracted because I didn't take note of what was on there. I think I had made up my mind that I was going to beg the waitstaff for a huge salad ("Really, more lettuce, please. Yes, a giant bowl, as big as you've got, please").

You can imagine my surprise when I looked at the menu and there were two salads labeled as Vegan, one soup and one entire entree! This was going to be more fun than I imagined.

I'm not going to go into gory detail about the food that I ate (which involved the best hearts of palm that I ever tasted and a banana butternut squash soup-yum!), except to say that it was absolutely delicious and creative and that dessert did involve a lot of sugar and dairy (hey, I'm NOT a saint). What I do want to tell you about is what transpired after dinner. Before we went in the restaurant's basement and my sister-in-law Janet kicked Chef Dante's ass at two games of Millipede, that classic 80s video game (very, very impressive Janet!).

We were sipping coffee, it was getting late, and who happened to stop by our table? Dante himself. Incredibly warm and personable, I think he spent time talking to all eleven of us at the table, individually. Jim, my other bro-in-law, mentioned to him that I write a food blog so the conversation naturally went in that direction.

I thanked him profusely for having Vegan options on the menu and asked him about the demand for them. He replied that it was very strong. I asked about the possibility of having greens (kale, collard, swiss chard, spinach, etc.) on the menu as a standard selection and I could tell that he'd never considered it before but would after our conversation. I told him that greens were becoming more and more of many peoples' everyday diet, that he could have a constant rotation of them on the menu. I explained that they were the single most nutritious food known to man. But then it hit me, as fun and cool and hip as these restaurants are, they are in the business of nourishing people's minds, not their bodies. I asked him if he had ever read The China Study and guess what . . . he had never heard of it.

I really liked him anyway.

I didn't even bother to mention the no oil thing. I didn't want to scare the pants off him.

So I know that even though our Nutritarian movement is gaining momentum, we're just at the beginning. I invite Chef Dante Boccuzzi, his wife and four kids to come to my house for a home cooked Nutriatarian meal, sans oil. On his one day off, of course. We've got kids of the same ages and he seemed super nice. I don't have a vintage Ms. Pacman or Millipede, but I think I can convince him that there is a place on his menu for greens, everyday.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Help HWC Keep the Momentum Going!

As you know, HWC is the recipient of the YorIT Social Venture funding.  Help us keep the momentum building toward our opening.  Here's how you can help:

Have a green thumb?  Like digging in the dirt?  Help create our Community Garden Plot, HWC will participate in the York City community garden at 234 S Pershing Street. LOTS of work ahead preparing, planting, tending garden. If interested, please e-mail us at

Help us spread the word about HWC at these upcoming events:

Olde York Street Fair, May 8th, 12:30 p.m. - 6 p.m. to staff a table with seed packets and brochures / share info about HWC.  Again, if you can help us, send an e-mail with your availability.

Advisory Group Meeting, Monday, June 6, 6:30 p.m., Friends Meeting House.  Advisory Group meetings are open to all, and we always welcome new advisory group members.  Bring a friend!

There are plenty of ways to help HWC in the coming weeks!  Get involved, volunteer, contribute.  Help us make HWC a reality!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Chapt. III: Maintenance After Highlighting

Previous Posts:
Chemically Highlight Natural Hair?
Chapt. II: Precautions When Highlighting


It's been about 5 months since highlighting my hair.  In terms of maintenance, in all honesty, I haven't had to change my regimen.  (It's the same prepoo, wash, deep condition, seal, and twist.)  What I will emphasize is that 1) your hair's condition prior to highlighting + 2) the precautions taken during the process seem to be more important than anything else.  After highlighting, don't slack on your hair care routine.  Some people also benefit from increased protein conditioning.  :o)

Loo's Lip Balm Mix

It's that time of year again!  

I ran out of my homemade body butter so this weekend I went to mixing.  Instead of doing the usual body butter mix, I whipped up a simple body oil (recipe coming soon) and lip balm.  (By the way, my body butters/oils are more like ankle-knee-elbow butters/oils; I use Kiss My Face Lavender Shea Lotion on the rest of my body.)

For the lip balm recipe, I used:
� 2 parts shea butter
� 1 part grapeseed oil
� 1 part (or less) honey
� (a few drops for color) burgundy lip gloss

The instructions: Soften the shea butter by melting it only slightly in a pot on the stove.  (If your shea butter is already soft, there is no need to melt it.)  Mix in the grapeseed oil then follow with the honey.  Lastly add a few drops of lip gloss (or lipstick) for color.  (This prior step is optional.)  Allow the mix to set, and that's it!  You have your lip balm.

For other lip balm recipes, check this earlier post.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

HWC Wins YorIT Social Venture Challenge and $20K in funding!

Reprinted from

YorIT Social Venture Challenge  
Healthy World Cafe Receives $20,000 as Winner of 2011 YorIT Social Venture Challenge

April 8th, 2011 � Tonight the YorIT membership selected Healthy World Caf� as the winner of this year�s Social Venture Challenge and the recipient of $20,000 in start-up funds. Healthy World Caf� is a 21st-Century, nonprofit restaurant concept in downtown York that will provide healthy meals made from local ingredients at a price each customer decides he/she can afford. The Caf� will offer an accessible community gathering place where all are welcome and local food, art and music are promoted. Healthy World Caf� seeks to offer a new dining experience that brings people to downtown York and supports the local economy. Funding from YorIT will support the start-up costs for the Healthy World Caf�, which plans to be self-sustaining within a year of opening. Philanthropic Endeavors is the fiscal agent for this initiative.

YorIT members made their decision following live pitches from all three Social Venture Challenge finalists: Downtown Delivered, Healthy World Caf� and Y-FI. The event took place at the Capitol Theatre in Downtown York before a live audience made up of YorIT members, mentors and supporters, as well as interested community stakeholders, potential investors and members of the public. Members who were unable to attend the Finalist Event in person were encouraged to submit their vote by proxy.

The YorIT Social Venture Fund was created through the annual contributions of YorIT members to effect change in our community in a way that is meaningful to our generation. Our membership seeks to fund passionate and creative individuals with ideas that are innovative, feasible and sustainable, and which may not have attracted support from traditional funding sources.

The goal of this year�s YorIT Social Venture Challenge was to fund initiatives with the potential to help attract and retain restaurants and retailers in Downtown York. YorIT used social media, public relations and a guerilla marketing effort to generate interest in this year�s Challenge, which yielded seven exciting video proposals from non-traditional applicants. The videos, uploaded to YouTube, have attracted hundreds of viewers and demonstrate the creative energy Yorkers offer to our community.

The YorIT Challenge Committee, after declaring any potential conflicts of interest, screened those proposals for initial feasibility and potential impact and invited four groups in for second round interviews. Again, potential conflicts were declared and committee members abstained from interviews and deliberations as appropriate. The Selection Committee ultimately narrowed the field down to two finalists, who were soon joined by a third who was able to take the steps recommended by the Committee in order to move them forward as finalists.

We were very proud to put forward three compelling and uniquely different ideas to benefit our downtown. Each was vetted for feasibility, sustainability and potential impact. It is our hope that while Healthy World Caf� is the recipient of this year�s Challenge Funds, all three finalists will have found the evening to be a platform from which their initiatives were able to generate interest and support from the greater community.

You can learn more about the Healthy World Caf� at their website:

Also please view their video proposal here:

  • Healthy World Caf�: View Video

    Below you will find some brief information about the other two finalists, including a link to the video proposal that they submitted to be considered for this year�s challenge. We encourage you to contact each group directly for more information about their initiatives and how you might support their efforts.

    2011 YorIT Social Venture Challenge Finalists:

    Downtown Delivered is bicycle delivery service for downtown restaurants and food vendors. Beginning two days a week with Central Market vendors, the company seeks to bring market-fresh meals to time-strapped downtown businesses and families, while offering downtown restaurants and retailers an opportunity to increase sales. The company has a commitment to providing quality, fresh foods, delivered on bicycles to reduce carbon emissions and traffic congestion. The critical feature of this service is the development of an online ordering system that keeps track of available products in real-time. Funding from YorIT would have supported the development of the software and initial start-up costs for Downtown Delivered. Philanthropic Endeavors is the fiscal agent for this initiative.

  • Downtown Delivered: View Video

    Y-FI is an existing community wireless internet project, sharing local resources to benefit the community at large and support economic growth in Downtown York City. The proposal seeks to significantly expand the Y-FI wireless network in York�s Central Business District. Y-FI, under the exclusive direction of Bob Mock, has already established wireless systems in Central Market and several other downtown businesses, making them �third places� where individuals can hang out and stay in touch. Funding from YorIT would have allowed the network to expand its reach by adding approximately 30 additional wireless points and providing back-up technical support. The more connections that are established, the greater the strength of the network. Y-FI recently partnered with the York County Economic Development Corporation (YCEDC) and its nonprofit subsidiary PEDYC, strengthening the initiative�s sustainability and scalability.

  • Y-fi: View Video


    Thank you for your support as we continue to seek creative and compelling ideas to improve the quality of life in our community. We look forward to sharing information about next year�s Challenge in the months to come.

  • Thursday, April 7, 2011

    Healthy Hair Feature: NowIamnappy

    1) Are you natural, relaxed, texlaxed, or transitioning? (And how long?)
    I'm natural and on June 20, I will be 3 years natural.

    2) What mistakes have you made in your hair care journey?
    I've made a few mistakes. Early on I learned the importance of protective styles but one winter, I thought I would be cute and wear my fro for the whole winter. By spring my ends were rough and breaking and I had to trim my hair almost 2 inches . My other mistake I made was going to the hair salon to get my hair straightened. Right from the start there were warning signs that the experience wasn't going to be good but somehow I let her not only blow dry my hair and rip through my ends, but press it and then use a curling iron on it. Not to mention she cut my BSL hair to APL because she wanted to make it even, something I did not ask her for because I never wear my hair straight. In the end, the press was gorgeous but when it came time to wash my hair I had severe heat damage in some areas. I trimmed those right away and went directly into protective styling. I'm happy to say 6 months later I gained those 3 inches she cut of, and my hair is thriving again.

    3) What is your current HEALTHY HAIR routine?
    Currently I am in a hair challenge to grow my hair to BSL in 6 months, so my hair mainly stays in protective styles. I shampoo my hair bimonthly and cowash once per week followed by a weekly deep condition. After detangling in the shower I put my hair in big twists and air dry. Once dry I style my hair into an updo which lasts all week until its time to wash again. I do however sometimes allow myself to wear my hair down on the weekends, its not always fun to keep my hair locked away.

    4) Do you have a HEALTHY BODY routine? If so, what is it?
    I'm actually just getting back into being healthy again, I recently moved and allowed myself to slip a little. But, I'm going to back to exercising 3x a week drinking 8-10 glasses of water and day and incorporating more raw foods into my diet. My main problem is sugar so I'm trying to eliminate all candy from my diet once again.

    5) Do you have any advice for those seeking healthy tresses?
    I would definitely say patience is the key and really learning what your hair needs. For me I use all natural products and very few commercial lines. I prefer to mix my own products and stick with things like aloe vera, shea butter, and oils. Also its so important to do protective styles when your looking to grow out your hair. Some people dont like they way their hair looks in twists or braids, but there's so many styles out there that you can do to protect in your ends besides the usual and thats why I started a fotki and youtube to help people looking for simple protective styles/updos.

    NowIamnappy can be found at: