Friday, July 29, 2011

Beck, Day 6, Accountability and Finding a Diet Coach

I'm writing this as I just got back from one of the most exciting lunches I have ever had. Me, The Healthy Librarian and Jane Esselstyn (daughter of Caldwell, sister of Rip) got together at my favorite spot, Organic Energy, to talk about my favorite subject, Plant-based diets. Talk about surrounding yourself with like-minded people! I'm on cloud nine.

Which kinda ties in with the next step we are going to tackle on The Beck Diet Solution: Find a Diet Coach.

Are you starting to squirm yet?

I am.

Do you like to keep your dieting private?

I used to. (Ha. Ha. That's one of the reasons I forced myself to do this blog.)

Are you uncomfortable asking for help?


Then why do we have to do this?

Because the reality is that we all need help. Denying that we do is not going to get us to where we want to be. We need motivation, support, help with problem solving, reminders to give ourselves the credit we deserve, and most of all ACCOUNTABILITY.

In many ways, I have put myself out there with this blog and asked you, the readers, to be my coach. Whenever I am struggling with something, if I blog about it, I get creative comments with extremely helpful and useful ideas. I love that!

Websites like PEERtrainer and Spark People can function as a coach because they form online communities of people that communicate regularly with each other. I cannot tell you how powerful it was for me to be actively engaged with small groups/teams of people on PEERtrainer for the first year and more of this experience. I was literally beginning to surround myself with like-minded people and I didn't even know it.

At the same time, I was attending Weight Watchers meetings. Talk about accountability! It doesn't get more
real than that. Unfortunately, I was frustrated with the corporate b.s. that goes along with that large of an organization and I left, but I will never forget how important those meetings and friendships were to me.

The most important point of this is that you want these coaches to be positive forces in your life. People who will listen to you ad nauseum (thanks Chris-Anna!) go on and on about your struggles and help you to problem solve in a positive way. Not your binging buddy (unless they want to stop too). You could certainly hire a private health coach, specialist or therapist. And of course, I hope that Healthy Girl's Kitchen (the blog and the Face Book page and the T. Colin Campbell Foundation group) functions for you as part of your coaching team.

You won't have to rely on this person or these tools forever (unless you want to). Just until you get these new habits under your belt.

So who are your coaches going to be? Let's see your list in the comments section!

Should we band together for accountability and really get something started using the Healthy Girl's Kitchen group on The T. Colin Campbell Foundation Ning site? Leave a comment here if you would like that kind of online support/accountability.

Outside In Salad

I am always on the hunt for creative salad inspiration. I totally buy into what Dr. Fuhrman says, "The salad is the meal."

You see, like my friend Quinn likes to say, "I'm an easy keeper."

I really need to watch what I eat or the pounds pack on. It's that simple.

And it has been brought to my attention that based on what I photograph and write about here on my blog, it might seem that I often eat what I like to call "Vegan Specialties." Chef Aj calls it "plant indulgent" food. It's a vegan enchilada casserole, an oil free vegan lasagna that contains nuts, or vegan wraps. It's a huge and growing world of oil free vegan recipes out there, all begging for me to try them.

But I save that kind of eating for once or twice a week, if I'm ON MY PLAN. The rest of the week it's pretty much soup and salad for me. I guess I just didn't realize the importance of posting more about what I eat on a regular night. It just seemed so, well, boring.

Or is it?

I call this the Outside In Salad because I get the herbs from my little herb garden in my back yard. If you haven't tried a green salad yet with fresh herbs mixed in, I'm just going to tell you that you are in for a whole new culinary experience. It's magnificent!

Outside In Salad
Inspired by Heather G. and Chris-Anna S., who introduced me to herby salads.

Printable Recipe

washed and chopped romaine lettuce
washed and chopped kale
spring lettuce mix
sliced red onion
washed and chopped cilantro
washed and chopped mint
washed and chopped basil
shredded carrot
garbanzo beans or bean of your choice
mandarin oranges and some of their juice (not the syrup packed kind) or fresh mango
dressing of your choice

Place everything, except dressing, in a large salad bowl and toss well. Drizzle dressing over salad-you won't need much-you don't want to lose the flavor of the herbs.
What's your recipe preference? What inspires you to be your best self? Do you want to see more of what I prepare on a day-to-day basis or do you want me to stick with the more plant-indulgent specialities??

Thursday, July 28, 2011

HWC Presents: Market to Table at York's Central Market!

If you're coming to Saturday's "Market to Table" Fundraiser, please enter Central Market through the W. Philadelphia St. entrance.  See you on Saturday!

We've got some great silent auction items up for bid thanks to our wonderful downtown partners! Here is a sample of what you could take home:

  • Chef's Brunch for 12 in your home by Chef Sean Arnold

  • LeAnn Rimes Tickets at the Pullo Center

  • "Groundskeeper for a Day" VIP Package from York Revolution

  • Package of 10 art lessons from Brenda Wintermyer

  • Photography Package courtesy Ken Bruggeman Photography

  • Private Winery Tour and Tasting from Allegro Vineyards

...and much, much more...
items from Sweet Melissa's Dream, Kimman's, Sunrise Soap Co., Nuts About Granola, JR's Fries, Outside the Cake Box, Central Market...there's something for everyone!

Join Healthy World Cafe at our Market to Table Fundraiser at York's Central Market House.  Join Chef and Guiding Committee Chair Sean Arnold and HWC members and volunteers as we celebrate the bounty of fresh, locally available food.  A festive evening of food and drink will celebrate local farmers and markets, local music and art, and a silent auction of fabulous items donated by local businesses and HWC supporters.  Art will be provided by RAW: Realizing Artistic Worth.  We'll have a few surprises as well!

Market to Table is Saturday, August 20, 6:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m., at Central Market, W. Philadelphia St. side.  Suggested donation is $40 per person and tickets are available online (see the ticket sales box to the right - here on our website).  Tickets will also be available at the door.

Come one, come all, enjoy an evening downtown, and most of all, come to support Healthy World Cafe!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Beck, Day 5, Eat Slowly and Mindfully

I once heard something about how many people who struggle with compulsive overeating don't really taste and enjoy the food that they obsess over. I can totally relate to that. I can't quantify it into raw numbers, but I just know that when I think about how I eat, it seems that a large portion of what I eat goes in my mouth, barely noticed by my brain.

I know, it's awful.

I wish it were different. I wish that I savored every bite and ate every bite mindfully. It's almost too big to even grasp for me.

Apparently, I'm not the only one with this problem, as evidenced by the number of books written on just this subject.

And that was just a small sampling.

But try, I must, as I am on Day 5 of Beck. The task right now is to commit to slowing down our eating so that, you know how this goes, ultimately, we will eat less. I'm sure you are familiar with that mechanism in our brains which only starts to feel full 20 minutes after we begin eating. Slowing down our pace should result in less food consumed.

Beck details a lot of creative ideas on just how we can slow down our eating and taste our food more. The one that I am going to give a try is to look at the clock when I sit down and begin my meal. I have never done anything like that before. Then look at the clock at the end of the meal. The goal is to extend mealtime. The complicated thing is that this presupposes that I am not in my kitchen also feeding four other people. Maybe this exercise is best done during a workday lunch for me. Way more controllable and consistent setting!

Beck acknowledges the challenges of eating mindfully in the real world and emphasizes the point that we need to learn how to eat slowly in a quiet, non stimulating environment so that we can then apply the skill to our real lives--you know, the meals where we are distracted by the noise and the conversation.

I will try. I promise I will.

Are you reading your Advantages Response Card at least twice a day? Giving yourself credit? Sitting down while you eat?

How is this pace? Should I slow things down?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Updated Energy Soup Recipe and Beck, Day 4, Give Yourself Credit

For those that are participating, how are you all doing with keeping up with reading your response cards and sitting down to eat? I did pretty good with sitting down, better than I have in a long time, but I totally lost it on a grocery shopping trip at Whole Foods with my three kids at 4:30 in the afternoon. I was really hungry, so were they after a long day at camp, and I had gotten all of them a treat (vegan of course, but full of sugar nonetheless).

I proceeded to eat, as I walked around Whole Foods, a full half of one of their treats AND a mess of pretzels that were available for the pickin'.

The old me would have beat myself to hell, figured I could never stick to Eat to Live, and continue for however many days to eat whatever came my way. But the massive problem with that is the stress it causes us. So much stress that we never see the situation for what it is, a learning opportunity. We need to free ourselves of the hate talk and instead, take a deep breath and think about how, next time, things could go differently.

Next time, I can bring apples for all of us to eat before we go into the market. Or maybe there just shouldn't be a next time.

And instead of dwelling on the negatives from yesterday, I can focus on the positives, just like Beck insists that we do. We need to give ourselves credit, in our head, every time we make a good food decision, resist unplanned eating or overeating. Like this, "Wow, Wendy, that was awesome that you resisted eating the &#^$%@ on the kitchen table at work just now! Good going!"

Here's the reason I schlepped my kids to Whole Foods after work and before dinner: I needed mushrooms. I wanted to make a big batch of my Energy Soup. It has been a major weapon in my weight loss arsenal and I cannot remember the last time I made it. For real, that is not winning behavior. But I fixed that yesterday. Credit!

Healthy Girl's Energy Soup
makes 10 servings (2 cups of soup per serving)

Printable Recipe

1 very large yellow onion, chopped
4 cloves if garlic, smashed
vegetable broth for sauteing
8 cups vegetable broth (2 boxes)
6 medium sized zucchini, cut into cubes
1 package mushrooms, cut into chunks if mushrooms are large
3 big handfuls kale, washed and rough chopped
1 bag fresh spinach or 3 big handfuls fresh spinach
Salt and pepper to taste
Other seasoning to taste
12 ounces frozen butternut squash, defrosted

Saute the onion over medium heat in a large soup pot in a few tablespoons of vegetable broth, until translucent and slightly soft. Add more broth as necessary to prevent burning. Add garlic and saute for a few more minutes.

Add the 8 cups of broth, zucchini, and mushrooms. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. Simmer for about 20 minutes or zucchini are soft.

Stir in kale and let it wilt. When kale is wilted, stir in fresh spinach, it will wilt immediately.

Using a hand (immersion) blender, puree the onion-garlic-zucchini-mushroom-spinach mixture until soup reaches your desired consistency. Some will like it completely smooth, others will like to puree about 50% and leave a lot of chunks and texture. It is delicious both ways!

Add the defrosted butternut squash and stir until it is incorporated. Season with salt and pepper and ANY other seasonings you like, to taste. (I use a Southwest spice blend and you can use whatever spice blend you like, there are so many on the market now. My husband likes everything spicy, so we add hot sauce to his.)

How are you going to remember to give yourself credit? I'm going to create a credit account right here, on the right side of my blog. At least once a day, I will edit what is in there and fill it with the good choices that I have made that day.

Here's why giving ourselves credit is so important. Ultimately, if you do it consistently and you never stop doing it, it ends the struggle over eating food that is off plan. You start to feel really, REALLY great (like a natural high) about staying on your plan. Way better than if you gave in and ate the junk. I know it sounds hard to believe, but this happened for me, and I was able to walk right by the stuff I didn't want to eat and feel so great about doing it.

It's a very important skill to master. So how are you going to remember to give yourself credit throughout the day?

What have you done today that you can give yourself credit for?

Monday, July 25, 2011

New Letter of Support ! Thank You Pullo Center!

The Beck Diet Solution, Day 3: Eat Sitting Down

Things are starting to come into focus for me now. I can see how I have been veering off of the path, both when it comes to the techniques I learned originally from Beck and also in following the Eat to Live plan.

Isn't it funny? I thought I was so on top of things, but now, as I go through this process I realize that I have completely forgotten a ton of things. Like this one: eat sitting down.

I eat standing up, while making dinner for my family. I eat sitting on my couch, so I can catch a moment to watch those reality shows that I am so addicted to. I eat driving in my car on the way to work, because how else would I be able to fit in drinking that green smoothie every morning? I eat levitating on my back . . . okay, well, you get the point.

I almost never eat sitting down. Except for lunch time on workdays. Then I sit down.

How's that working for me?

I can see that I am not even aware of all of the food that I am eating because I'm so focused on doing, doing, doing, a million other things all of the time. This has got to stop. Today. Even if it is just one bite.

Now that is serious.

I'm guessing sitting down while eating does not mean reading or using a electronic device while sitting down and eating! Beck also says that we need to set up a reminder system for this. I'm thinking of painting a blank wall in my kitchen with the words "SIT. EAT. RELAX. NOTHING ELSE."  Well, maybe I won't go that far.

Can you commit to eating sitting down?

Are you finding yourself resisting doing any of the Beck exercises or are you willingly opening up and letting the process unfold?

How will you remind yourself to do this?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Fagiole Pita Pizzas and Beck, Day 1 and 2, Review

Good Morning everyone! Today I am fortunate enough to present you with a guest post and recipe from an HGK reader, Mandy from Atlanta. She so generously took the time out of her busy schedule to e-mail us one of her favorite recipes complete with photos. I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to giving Mandy's recipe a go!

Hi Wendy!

I first found your blog in November and I have followed you ever since! I have been so inspired. I love your post today... how cool you have so many people (including me!) wanting to follow the Beck Diet. I ordered it today. I am hoping to encourage you and what you are doing at HGK. I try lots of your recipes and love them. I have followed your advice and get the Peer Trainer emails. Those have really helped, too.

I have never been one to enjoy being in the kitchen, but things are slowly changing for me, thanks to you and excitement you have in the kitchen. I have reached a new low weight (since my 7th grade year!) thanks to you and your site.

I created these Pita Pizzas based on how much you, E2 and Peer Trainer love beans. I love Italian food and sometimes want a change from getting my beans in Mexican dishes (that I DO love, too.) I have been eating these pizzas all summer. I have felt full and have still lost weight.... that is a victory! My kids have been eating them all summer, too! I do top theirs with a tad of the Dayia Mozzarella. I do not eat mine with the Daiya to cut out the oil and fat.

They are so, so easy and that is a must for me if I'm going to make something often--I make these 2-3 times a week... and they are so cheap to make. I don't know about you, but our food bill can rack up like crazy! You are the best at tweaking recipes so I thought you could make these even better! I've attached pictures, too.

Mandy's Fagiole Pita Pizzas

Printable Recipes
Whole Wheat Pitas (however many pizzas you want to make)
Your favorite No-Oil Spaghetti Sauce
1 15 oz can Pinto Beans (rinsed and drained), 1 can tops 2-3 pizzas
Chopped Red Onion
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
Italian Seasoning
Nutritional Yeast
Daiya Mozzarella Cheese Shreds (optional)

� Preheat oven to 425
� Lightly spray baking sheet with cooking spray
� Top the pita with spaghetti sauce*
� Add a layer of beans
� Add chopped red onion
� Generously sprinkle with garlic salt, Italian seasoning and onion powder.
� Bake for 12-16 minutes... until outside of pita is crisp and beans are toasted
� Top with nutritional yeast.**

 * I use generous amounts of every single ingredient in the recipe.
**If using the Daiya shreds, sprinkle on top of the seasonings and skip the nutritional yeast. Cook for 12-14 minutes and then broil for an additional 2 minutes until cheese gets melted. I always have to watch it like a hawk or I burn it.

Thank you ever so much Mandy! I think your Fagiole Pizzas are going to be dinner tonight at my house! I happen to have a lot of whole wheat tortillas hanging around, so I'll use those as the crust. And I could see doing fun variations like a Mexican themed one with salsa (even salsa verde-my personal fav!) as the sauce, black beans and cilantro. The sky is really the limit with this idea.

Beck, Day 1 and 2 Review
A huge thank you to everyone who posted their advantages and plans in the comments sections here and here. It is SO not too late to join us on this journey.

I am going to respond to some questions/thoughts I'm having about Day 1 and 2.

Twenty advantages is not too many! In fact, I highly recommend reading the comments to Day 1 and refining your list as you find advantages that maybe you hadn't thought of (can everyone say "back fat"?). I know that I read some advantages that I was blown away by and will be adding to my list. The more detailed, visual and real your list is, I think, the better.


Did you set up a reminder system? What is it? Please leave a comment here letting us know that you did and elaborating on your reminder system.

I need to reread Eat to Live. I say that it is my plan but do I really know all the ins and outs of it? I'm thinking that I don't because of all of the allowances I have been making over the past many months. I know this makes my mother crazy. She likes to see me making allowances so that she doesn't have to worry about something, I'm not sure what. It drove her up the wall when I was fat! I want to get back into the head space when I was uber healthy and pumped up about following the plan. It felt really great to be in that head space. I had energy to spare.

Have a great day folks!?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Beck Diet Solution, Day 2: Pick Two Reasonable Diets

Thank you, thank you, thank you to those brave and willing souls that posted your Advantages yesterday. I have a feeling that we are really going to learn a lot about ourselves and each other through this process.

It's not too late to go back to yesterday's post and complete Day 1, making your Advantages Response Card. In my experience, it is the reading of that card twice a day that is the glue that sticks together the new brain (thought processes) that you are creating with this program. I also added things and refined my list along the way in my first go-around, so know that you will likely do that too. Like a fine wine, your ARC will improve with age!

Today's task is to choose two diet plans--one that you will start with and one that is available as a back up plan in case you learn that the first just doesn't meet your needs. The back up plan is crucial, because how many of us have gone on a diet, hated it, and then just given up on losing weight for the moment? And then that moment turns into three years. I know I've done that. With a back-up plan, you can switch to it and move on without interruption.

Beck goes into great detail about how to chose a healthy diet. I highly recommend reading Beck if you are at all concerned that you do not know which diet plan to follow. Something tells me that if you are here reading HGK, you have already self-selected and that I am writing to an audience that is overwhelmingly either Vegan, or Plant-stong, or working you way toward becoming Plant-strong.

Beck makes some shockingly insightful suggestions as a part of Day 2. I am only going to share three of them here with you:

(1) Different types of diets work for different personality types, so you have to know yourself and chose what works for your type. The two main types are Set Eating Plans (ex. Eat to Live) and Counting Systems (ex. Weight Watchers). And yes, there are some plans that contain elements of both.

I know that I can stay on a counting and measuring system for many, many months and then I completely lose all motivation to continue that level of analysis of what I am consuming. So I can safely say at this point, counting and measuring is not for me. Although it absolutely does work if you work it, and can be safe and healthy as long as you don't use your allotment on processed, sugary, fatty and salty foods.

I also know that I can stay on a Set Eating Plan for many years, as evidenced by my recent experiences on a plant-based diet. It is actually easier for me to have fewer food choices, and I am driven by the idea that there are great food choices, good food choices and bad food choices. I love knowing that vegetables, fruits, beans and whole grains fuel my body the best and keep me healthy. That I should try to only eat from those food groups is a box I like to be in.

For some people that may set up a situation where when they slip-up, let's say on vacation or at a party, they beat themselves to a pulp, but stick with Beck through this program and you can end that cycle.

(2) Your chosen diet should be based on how healthy it is, not on how quickly it promises that you will lose weight. Rapid weight loss diets that are very calorie restricted are not doable for any length of time, and we all know the binging that happens after, so let the idea of rapid weight loss go.

(3) Your chosen diet must allow planned indulgences. "Even with a set eating plan, I've found that most people do better if they formulate a rule about what they can and what they usually can't eat, meaning they can periodically plan--in advance--to have small portions of 'can't eat' foods." Judith S. Beck


Somehow I missed this idea on my first two Beck go-arounds. It wasn't until I heard Rip Esselstyn say, "It's Plant-strong, not Plant-Perfect" that I started to forgive myself for my "indulgences." But the reality is, we are not and will never be perfect-all-of-the-time eaters. So I really appreciate Beck's advice here. The key is that the indulgences are planned. Without that, we are just free falling into our old eating patterns.

So what are my two plans? It's no surprise. Eat to Live and The Engine 2 Diet/Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.

Oh, that's three plans.

Oh well!

But this time, I am going to follow Beck's advice about the indulgences. And they will be planned! I'm also going to be paying a lot more attention to watching/limiting the nuts, seeds, avocado, tofu and other calorie packed, although otherwise nutritious, components of my diet.

Notice Beck does not say, "Start the diet today." There are actually two weeks of exercises that lead up to starting on an eating plan. If you are already on an eating plan that is working for you, just continue what you are doing while following Beck's daily exercises.

What are your two reasonable diets?

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Beck Diet Solution: Day 1, Make Your Advantages Response Card

Thank you HGK readers, for your overwhelming support and comments to yesterday's post. I cannot tell you how much it means to me that you follow my blog when there are thousands of blogs you could be following. I am blessed.

 But this is not easy.

I'm not referring to the exercise that Beck gives us on Day 1. I'm talking about the writing about it here and then publishing it for the world to see.

But heck, who's going to benefit from me being shy?

Day 1 is pretty simple: Write a list of all of the reasons that you want to lose weight, in order of importance to you. The obvious reasons (your health). The embarrassing, I have never shared this with anyone, reasons (oh G-d, am I really going to do this?). I say this is simple, but Beck really makes it simple in her book. She helps you make that list. It will be called your Advantages Response Card, or ARC.

Then take that list and turn it into something you can carry around with you. Maybe also post your Advantages Response Card around your house. That is, if you live alone, never have guests or are a really open person.

Set up a reminder system, because it is essential that you read this list AND really stop to think about each reason (I completely missed this second point on my first two Beck go-arounds) twice a day at regular times and also at any other time when you are really struggling with sabotaging thoughts.

I have set reminders and alarms in my cell phone to go off before lunch and dinner. My list is typed and ready to go.

This is my list. Yours will be similar. Yours will be different. Please join me and post your list here in the comments section. Anonymously if that is comfortable for you.

Here goes. I am feeling like I am going to throw up now.

1. I love the way I feel when I am thin. I feel great in my body and comfortable moving through life. I feel energetic every day.
2. I get joy shopping for fabulous, stylish clothes. I look great in the clothes and I am happy when I look in the mirror.
3. I'll have a flatter stomach and a smaller chest.
4. I am really happy when I step on the scale and I see a healthy number.
5. I am a good, healthy example for my children. I won't get diabetes or other obesity related diseases.
5. I will participate in life and won't let excess weight hold me back. Family weddings and events, reunions, parties, conventions . . . and the photographs that come along with that . . . there is almost nothing worse to me than seeing a picture of myself overweight.
5. I will be able to wear a bathing suit in public.
6. I will be able to look at myself in the mirror at the gym and feel good about what I see. I will be really physically fit and be able to participate in exercise to my best ability.
7. I feel better about myself when I resist overeating and off-plan eating.
8. I can continue to be an inspiration to others and help them to attain their health and weight loss goals.

I can't really say that these are in any order of importance. They all seem really important to me!

And you? Why is this important to you? Can you commit to reading/contemplating your list twice a day?

 A note about the program: The reality is that we will all be at a different pace with this program. Some of you will be able to actually do one step per day for six weeks, some will not and may go at this much slower. Please work this as it works in your life, but work it till the end. It may take you 4 months instead of 6 weeks, but that is not important.  I cannot even predict my own pace for working these steps. The important thing is that you complete all of the exercises (even the ones you desperately don't want to do) in order. And please keep the rest of us informed about your thoughts along the way, even if you fall behind my pace.We are doing this together.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

I Need a Kick in the Pants. Hello Beck Diet Solution!

I started blogging a year and a half ago for one reason and one reason only. To keep the weight off that I had lost. I figured that it would be mortifying to gain the weight back if I was public about being healthy AND that the constant having to think about and write about food and health would keep me on the straight and narrow.

Has it worked? Yes, mostly. But not entirely. I don't know any of the stats because I too darned scared to get on a scale, but I'm pretty sure that "the weight" is creeping back on. My clothes feel a little tight. My stomach sticks out a little further.

It's time to get a grip.

This Plant-strong food tastes too darned great! All of the people who are eating fast food and thinking they could never give it up, well they have no idea how delicious a plant-based diet can be if you just give it a chance. And when food tastes this good, I find it hard not to overindulge.

Not only that, I'm giving myself too many allowances. Allowances for goodies on special occasions. Allowances for too many plant-indulgent dinners when what I should really be eating is low calorie soup and salad--without the nuts.

So thank you blogging world. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to catch myself before it's too late. I am at your mercy. I have to once again focus my energy on what I know works:
1. The Beck Diet Solution
2. Eat to Live
I can do this! I am a warrior.

I have already reread the introductory chapters and it is amazing to me how I am falling out of practice with the plan. I'm having a ton of sabotaging thoughts like, "I know I shouldn't eat this, but it's okay because . . . it's a celebration . . . I'm tired . . . I'm hoping the calories really won't count because I eat so many vegetables."

Really, Wendy? Come on! Do you know what that is? DENIAL. And I'm starting to regress into it again. Thank The Lord I know how to fix it.

I hope you are interested, and that you will enjoy reading all about it here, every day for the next however many days it takes me to complete another round of The Beck Diet Solution. Beck is not a book about food. It is a book about retraining your brain to think like that of a thin person. One who doesn't struggle with food choices and endlessly gain and lose weight. The kind of thinking that I know is required to maintain a healthy weight. You can check out what people say about this program by clicking on the Amazon link above and reading the reviews of the book.

Of course I'll still be posting lots of food ideas sandwiched in with posts about working the Beck program.

What are you struggling with?

Any body interested in doing The Beck Diet Solution with me?? Or reading about the steps as I work them?

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Plant-strong Pot Luck-The Dessert

It's been four days since my Plant-strong Pot Luck took place and I can hardly stop thinking about it. You, on the other hand, might be sick of hearing about it!

So I want to interrupt this post to bring you a link to something I believe everyone will love, an article on 5 Ways the Nutrition Field Hinders its Own Progress by Andy Bellatti. The article was right up my alley, so I'm pretty sure it will speak to you too. It pointed out some very interesting things that I have never considered when it comes to food and health. Check it out and let me know what you think!

And now for the light and fluffy part of the blog post: the dessert. Quite a challenge, really, making dessert for a strict Plant-strong crowd. I'm going to be totally honest with you here. I know that there is a perception out there that I am some kind of a saint, but that is wrong. When it comes to dessert, I make all kinds of compromises. I'm not always proud of that, but it's the truth. Do I wish I could be "better?" Yes.

But for this pot luck, I had to stick as closely as possible to truly Plant-strong desserts. I was very inspired by these videos with Chef Aj and Julieanna Hever preparing Pear Creme Anglaise and Balsamic Strawberries. I knew I had to give that a try. But I also felt like the crowd would need something chocolately, so I got out Chef Aj's Unprocessed (you can purchase it on and browsed through all of her Vegan Truffle recipes. I settled on one called Heluva Halavah Balls (named because they have a lot of sesame seeds in them).
I altered the recipe some, adding more date syrup and then rolling them in a semi defatted coconut flake. The truffles were not very sweet, but they were nice and chocolately, and people seemed to really like them. I think I'm going to have to give Vegan Truffles a few more tries before I settle on a recipe that I would consider a favorite. Anyone have any ideas?

The Balsamic Strawberries with Pear Creme Anglaise were outstanding. I think it was the Pear Creme Anglaise that really did it for me though. I'm not sure if the strawberries even needed any special treatment, but it certainly didn't hurt things any.

I could eat Chef Aj's Pear Creme Anglaise any day and for any reason. It's genius.

I like white, fluffy, creamy, sweet things. Since I've given up Twinkies, I haven't exactly had my fix lately. With a nominal amount of pantry ingredients (canned pears in their own juice, vanilla, cashews and xanthan gun), it's the perfect last minute dessert to make for yourself or a party. It could be served over any fruit or even alone.

I served it in large bowls at the pot luck, but if you have the time before a party, layering the strawberries and cream into beautiful individual parfaits would certainly impress any guest.
I also made Watermelon Frosty's after being inspired by this video on YouTube. I'm sorry that I wasn't able to take pictures of it. I was preparing them as my guests were watching T. Colin Campbell on Bill Mahar. I think I was probably pretty annoying, running the VitaMix as they were trying to hear Professor Campbell! But it was all in good fun.

So that's it for this Plant-strong Pot Luck's details. If only I had another one to look forward to . . .

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Plant-strong Pot Luck-The Food

Have you ever heard the phrase "embarrassment of riches?"

Well, presenting the food from our Plant-strong Pot Luck feels like just that.

I'm doing it anyway. 'Cause what kind of blogger would I be if I held back on you?

So here it is, complete with recipes or links to recipes where available.
Everyone was raving about Quinn's corn chowder, inspired by this recipe from Clean Food by Terry Walters.
I'm in love with these pickled vegetables. They are not overly acidic, but they are FULL of crunch and variety. Fennel, celery, carrot, kalamata olive, peppers, oh my! I woke up the next morning and ate it for breakfast on top of some homemade whole wheat bread and a schmear of black bean dip. Contributed by The Healthy Librarian over at

Great Antipasto Salad
based on a recipe from World's Healthiest Food, created by George Mateljan

Printable Recipe
2 cups carrots cut into thick strips/chunks
1-1/2 cups thickly sliced celery
1 cup fresh sliced fennel bulb
about 2+ whole roasted red peppers sliced
1/2 cup quartered & then cut-up artichoke hearts, water-packed & drained
2 Tbsp or more rinsed and quartered Kalamata olives
2 Tbsp capers, rinsed

1-1/2 tsp dried Italian mixed herbs (oregano, parsley & basil--use fresh if you have it--but you'll need more)
2 medium cloves garlic, pressed
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp honey
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cracked black pepper
3 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
Press garlic and let sit for 5 minutes.

Bring water to boil in steamer and add carrots and steam for 4 minutes. Add celery and fennel and steam for just 1 more minute. Remove from heat and place in a bowl with capers and olives.

Whisk all dressing ingredients together.

Toss with vegetables and marinate for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Optional: Serve on pieces of whole-grain (sourdough is best) bread as an appetizer

Scott, aka "Mr. Belhorn" arrived with a refrigerator's worth of produce chopped up and mixed into a salad. I'm not sure if there is a recipe for that.
Liz brought this really unassuming salad and it was one of the highlights of the meal.
Farro and White Bean Salad
(inspired from a recipe in Redbook magazine - so random!)
1.5 cups vegetable broth
3/4 cups farro
1 (15 oz.) can of white beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup fennel, chopped (include the fronds as well as the bulb)
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/3 cup chopped red onion
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp of freshly ground pepper
3 Tbsp white balsamic vinegar
1.5 Tbsp honey
1 Tbsp water
1 cup sprouts
1/2 cup toasted cashews
Bring broth and farro to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer 15 minutes until al dente. Drain any excess broth. Transfer to a large bowl.
Add white beans, fennel, raisins, red pepper, carrots, onion, salt, and pepper.
In a small bowl whisk together vinegar, honey, and water. Add to salad and toss to mix.
Top with sprouts and cashews.

Really delicious stuffed peppers.

Vegan Stuffed Peppers
adapted from The Vegan Table - Colleen Patrick-Goudreau

6 bell peppers (red, orange, yellow)
2 medium onions, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (14 ounces) fire roasted diced tomatoes
1/2 cup raw almonds, chopped or slivered
21/2 cups cooked rice - example: combination long grain brown rice and Trader Joe's Basmati Rice Medley
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 tablespoons golden raisins
3 tablespoons ground almonds

Preheat oven to 375. Halve peppers lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Place peppers cut side up in a baking pan with 1 cup of water. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake until peppers are soft and easily pierced with a fork but still have their shape.

Heat a few tablespoons of vegetable stock in a large soup pot.  Saute onions and garlic for 5 minutes over medium heat until onion becomes translucent.  Add tomatoes and chopped almonds and saute for another minute or two. Remove pan from heat and stir in rice,mint, parsley, basil and raisins.  Spoon mixture into the peppers.

Bake stuffed peppers uncovered in pan with water(so they don't burn) for 15 minutes, sprinkle ground almonds on top, return to oven and bake another 15 minutes.  Garnish with fresh herbs.

Chris-Anna, who loves Chef Aj's Disappearing Lasagna so much that I keep telling her to write Chef Aj and just let her know it, made it for the first time.
These tomato, sweet potato, polenta vegetable stacks that Jane prepared are the kind of food you would eat in a fine restaurant. Gorgeous to look at with a taste to match. Perfection. But I think we'll be waiting for an Engine 2 cookbook before we see this recipe!
Toby reminded me that I really need to be making Vietnamese/Thai Spring Rolls more often. I simply adore them. And her slightly spicy homemade Peanut Sauce was divine. This isn't our dear Toby, but here's a recipe and video on how to prepare Spring Rolls that really helps to watch before you go for it at home. The demonstrator makes a really beautiful roll and gives me the confidence I need to do this myself.

Printable Recipe

Thai Spring Rolls

Rice roll wrappers found in Asian market or Whole Foods
julienned carrots
julienned cucumbers
bean sprouts
cilantro leaves
basil leaves
optional: prepared thin rice noodles
any other veggies that you like

Soak the rice roll wrapper in a shallow dish in water (it doesn't need to be hot). When the paper is pliable, transfer to another plate. Place veggies in the middle. Wrap like an egg roll. Dip in the sauce recipe below. Enjoy!

Toby's Peanut Dipping Sauce
(adjust flavors to your taste)
1 Large clove garlic, peeled
1 Inch chunk fresh ginger, trimmed and cut into eighths (use fine grater if mixing ingredients by hand)
1/3 to 1/2 cup water
1/2 cup nonhydrogenated, unsalted peanut butter (you can use part almond butter since almonds are healthier)
2 Tablespoons sweet white miso
About 1 tablespoon shoyu
3 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice or lemon juice
Chili oil or ground cayenne pepper, to taste (optional)
1-2 T maple syrup (I used one squirt of Nu Naturals liquid stevia)
Mix everything by hand or in blender for a creamier consistency.
Sindy prepared Terry Walter's recipe for Pan Seared Tofu with Ginger Lime Glaze from Clean Start. You can get that recipe here from a blogger who posted it, without permission, I'm pretty sure, but there it is. I was jonesing to try this ever since my friend Jessica e-mailed me and asked if I had ever made it. Well, now I know why she took time out of her busy day to alert me to it. It was even better as leftovers for dinner the next night, served with Toby's peanut sauce and Jane's Thai Slaw (below). I lucked out and had an Asian feast!
And last but certainly not least, Jane's Thai Slaw. Yum-o! So yum-o in fact, that I have it on the menu for dinner this coming up Friday night.

Thai Slaw
Inspired by the a recipe from the Vegan Daily Companion . We experienced this recipe in Tuscon on March 30, 2011 -- I mark the date because it changed the way I view and consume cabbage. I could really eat this for every meal � every single meal!
1 and � cup salsa
� cup natural peanut butter
1 tablespoon maple syrup (or less � to taste)
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon tamari
2 teaspoons minced ginger (or more- to taste)
2-3 shakes of red pepper flakes (optional)
� head of green cabbage, finely shredded
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 red pepper, julienned
� cup peanuts, coarsely chopped
In a saucepan combine salsa, peanut butter, maple syrup, water, tamari, ginger and red pepper flakes.
Over medium heat, warm all ingredients until uniformly blended into a sauce.
Pour sauce over cabbage and toss.
Add red peppers, cilantro and chopped peanuts and serve.
This is great served the next day - it marinates well!?

Dessert coming up in my next post!

Are you inspired to host a Plant-strong Pot Luck of your own?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Food P0&N

I'm on a high from last night. You see, I took my own advice, from my Plant-strong Success Tip #3 and I surrounded myself with like minded people. It took a few months of pretty passive planning, a few hours of setting up, and then I hosted what I hope to be the first of many Plant-strong Pot Lucks at my house.
A big thank you to Lisa Millard for the flower arrangements. Everyone should be so lucky to have a neighbor and friend as giving as Lisa. She couldn't even attend the party but still made us the most beautiful arrangements.

One of the best nights. Ever. Seriously.

There were people that I am very close with in my day to day life, people that I am just beginning to get to know, and folks whom I had never met before last night. Just the way I like it.
See this guy Howie? Never met him before in my life. And there he is in my dining room. Enjoying the best food life has to offer, in every way possible. Awesome.

Everyone agreed. It was a food orgy. One extraordinary oil free vegan delight after the next.

 It would be hard  to call a winner, but I have to say, I dreamed about Jane Esselstyn's Dr. Seuss Stacks last night. Okay, that was a lie, but you know what I mean!
I'll be back soon with detailed photos, descriptions and links to recipes from the party.

Have a great weekend friends!

Thursday, July 14, 2011


NEWSFLASH: T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study, will be on the HBO TV show Real Time with Bill Maher, live, Friday July 15th with repeat episodes throughout the week.

Have you ever walked around a grocery store looking for a "healthy" convenience snack that wasn't overly caloric, overly fatty, overly salty and/or overly sugary and that fulfilled your desire for something crunchy and salty or sweet? I know that I have, and I walked away from the experience empty handed. Even at Whole Foods, this magic snack does not exist as far as I can tell.

That's why I was so intrigued when my friend, Ilana Wolfson, brought me a bag of goodies on Tuesday night. It seems she has been hard at work for the past year perfecting recipes for Roasted Chick Peas in a variety of flavors that are shelf stable with excellent nutritional profiles. Really high in fiber and protein, while low in fat, chick peas may very well be the perfect food.
"Utopea, The New Chick in Town." I love that name!
Yeah! Little packages of yumminess.
My favorite flavor so far was a cluster of roasted chick peas, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds with a touch of agave. I'm hoping that Ilana will test a recipe with maple syrup real soon--you know my feelings on agave! My 6 year old and 3 year old gobbled these up, which is shocking. Can't wait to get more for them!
The most decadent was also a winner-chick peas and dried fruit held together by very good chocolate. Yum.

There are also savory flavors like Smokin' Hot, Asian Sesame and Indian which would be great thrown over a salad.

Contact Ilana directly if you would like more information on her products.

Have you found a snack food that you can feel good about?

How much do you want to try Utopea's Roasted Chick Peas?

Have you ever roasted your own chick peas? I know that it's on my to do list. What has your experience been?


Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Roasted Eggplant Pesto and Roasted String Beans

If you are growing basil in your garden, you are probably looking for sure fire recipes to use it in. Well, folks, this one from Susan over at Fat Free Vegan is certified outstanding!
Eat it as a dip or over some whole wheat pasta. You can't go wrong either way.
And in honor of my sister-in-law Lori's birthday, which is tomorrow, I present to you this: the Roasted Green Been. It's one of her favorites, I found out on my recent trip to New Jersey, and I had never made them before. They are quite good, although I couldn't ever give up my beloved Roasted Brussels Sprouts.

If you are participating in a CSA, you might be in need of something easy to do with string beans. Lord knows I received my share of string beans two summers ago!
Roasted String Beans

Preheat oven to 400�F. Wash, dry well, and trim green beans. Put green beans on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. Spray lightly with cooking spray. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Mrs. Dash may be substituted for salt and pepper as desired. Use your hands to be sure all the beans are evenly coated and spread them out into 1 layer.

Roast for 20-25 minutes, turning after 15 minutes, until beans are fairly brown in spots and somewhat shriveled. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Takin' Care of Myself: Black Beans in a Red Velvet Mole Sauce

I'm still sick. Can you believe it? I can't!

On Tuesday I figured that this Friday night dinner had better be "just us" and boy am I glad that I did. I think I went to sleep last night at 8 o'clock. But before going down, I was able to put together another easy and winning dish from Appetite for Reduction.

I had a large bag of kale in my fridge that I wanted to use up and also way too many whole grains hanging out in my pantry. I have learned that adding beans to that duo creates a perfect vegan trifecta, so when I opened up Appetite for Reduction and saw the recipe for Black Beans in a Red Velvet Mole Sauce, I was intrigued.

It all came together into one fairly easy and memorable meal. The funny thing is, when it comes to food, I am the equivalent of Carrie Bradshaw from Sex and the City. It's almost like I never wear (eat) the same outfit (recipe) twice, no matter how gorgeous (tasty) it is. There are some exceptions of course (here, here, and here). So would I make this dinner again? I don't know, but it sure was tasty!

Here's what you will need:

1. The recipe for Black Beans in a Red Velvet Mole Sauce. I didn't have anise seed in my spice cabinet and I can't say that the recipe was missing anything. I would also advise to blend with your immersion blender VERY CAREFULLY as this could get very messy. I was cleaning mole sauce off of my back splash last night. I also think any beans that you have in the house will be fine (I used one 15 ounce can of black beans and one of pinto beans) and that you could actually use a lot more beans in one recipe if you want to stretch the dish (who doesn't). I could have doubled the amount of beans and it had many more dinners.

2. Any ole recipe for sauteed greens.

3. A cooked whole grain. I made quinoa in my rice cooker and added currants, sliced almonds, salt, pepper and a little vinegar. It was the perfect compliment to the beans and greens. Because the consistency of the quinoa made in a rice cooker is so sticky, I decided to mush my quinoa into a square mold (picked that up watching lots of episodes of  Chopped and Top Chef). It made a really nice presentation.  

I'd like to say that this food was so nutritious that my cold magically disappeared this morning, but that would be a lie. At least it's the weekend!

Enjoy your weekend folks! Make good food and peace out!