Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I Need Feedback

Thank you everyone who commented on my last post about plant-strong breakfasts. I wish all of my posts got input like that! Which got me thinking . . .

What do you guys think about my posts on The Beck Diet Solution?

Are you working your own Beck program right now? What step are you on? Are you loving it or hating it?

Should I continue to weave in the Beck content with my other content?

The reason why I am asking is because I want to inspire and not bore. What types of HGK posts do you find the most inspiring?

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Breakfast Duel: Green Smoothie vs. Oatmeal

Ever since reading The Healthy Librarian's completely inspiring blog post about her 15 month transformation on the Esselstyn plant-based no-oil diet, I have been rethinking my breakfast.
It's not that there's anything wrong with a green smoothie, it's just that after eating the same thing for breakfast for about two years, I'm kinda sorta ready to mix things up a bit.

And Debby (The Healthy Librarian) reminded me that I have options. Specifically, this incredible and easy concoction of savory, cheezy, nutrient dense oatmeal. Make it once and have breakfast for 3-4 days. How nice is that?

Get the recipe for Cheezy oats here. This is so wonderful, and makes a great, speedy dinner too.

Oatmeal seems to keep me fuller longer than my green smoothie does. So I'm seriously considering going on an oatmeal tear. It's a lot more comforting too with the cold weather just around the corner.

Ellen Darby, the Healthy Eating Specialist at my local Whole Foods has this to say about oatmeal:

"[Here] is my 32-year-49-mornings-out-of-50 OATMEAL breakfast:

For the first 29 years, I used regular Quaker Oats and for the last three years have been using steel cut oats. Either is fine � I just don�t recommend using quick oats � especially the packaged, flavored quick oats. I will share my procedure for steel cut oats: (if you choose to try, adjust the water-to-oats ratio to taste)

 � I use 1-1/3 cups water. Boil water.
� Reduce to simmer . (very important step: twice I wound up with overflowing water/oats and a very tough pan to clean!)
� Add 1/3 cup steel cut oats
� Set timer for 20 minutes
� I use that time to take my shower, check my e-mail. You may choose to walk your dog.
� Remove steel cut oats from heat
� Add frozen fruit to pan (I usually rotate between blueberries and raspberries) Fresh fruit is absolutely fine!!! I choose our 365 brand frozen because I love berries, but they mold so quickly � this way I don�t have to worry about it)
� Add 1 heaping teaspoon natural peanut butter. Yes, almond butter is fine. This may sound strange at first but try it, you might love it. The nut butter gives you protein and good fat -- which leads to long lasting energy.
� Empty oats, berries and peanut butter into bowl.
� Spoon on two tsp. maple syrup.
� Put on six almonds. (I mention, ONCE AGAIN, that I am a food-a-holic. If I didn�t program myself to add SIX almonds, I would be putting on handsful!)

 32 years and I still look forward to breakfast every morning. (especially when it�s the raspberry-rotation!) The combination of the salty peanut butter with the sweet maple syrup and the crunch of the almonds is just so darn delicious. Yummmm, I get excited just thinking about it. And the extra benefit is that it keeps me full for hours. Great way to start the day."

I've tried Ellen's oatmeal variation and I can say that it is awesome. PB&J in a bowl!

What is your breakfast preference these days? Are you a green smoothie devotee or an oatmeal devotee? Or is there something big I'm missing out on?

Monday, August 29, 2011

Beck-Day 11: Differentiate Between Hunger, Desire and Cravings

Day 11 on The Beck Diet Solution gives us the goal of learning to differentiate between hunger, desire and craving. This is a really important distinction as eating when we are not truly hungry, in my opinion, is the source of a lot of our problem with excess weight.

Here is how Beck describes the three states:

HUNGER: You haven't eaten for many hours, there is an empty sensation in your stomach, you have rumblings in your stomach.

DESIRE: You just ate a big meal and you still want to eat more.

CRAVING: You are not hungry but you have a very strong urge to eat. There is a feeling of tension in you; a yearning in your mouth, throat or body.

This can lead to some confusion, but here is Dr. Joel Fuhrman's description of real hunger.

Let's say you knew what real hunger felt like. Now imagine if we only ate when we were really hungry and then only ate to satisfy that hunger and not stuff ourselves.

Almost seems like too much to ask! In our modern world, tasty and easily accessible food is bizarrely abundant. It's everywhere at all times. And we need to be able to pass it up most of the time, over and over and over, if we are going to have our health.

Is this too much to ask?

I'm kind of jumping ahead here, but let's say we could distinguish between hunger, desire and craving. So what? We would still need to pass up the cookies that we desire, even if we absolutely acknowledge that we are not hungry at that moment.

Now don't get me wrong, I believe that understanding your body's hunger signals are a very important part of this process. And correctly attaching a label to your physiological/mental state is certainly going to help you win this battle.

So back to my question, is it too much to ask of us mere humans to pass up tasty calories when they are available? This is not the exercise on Day 11 of Beck, but I feel that working through this question is important at this juncture.

Maybe it is too much to ask, but I'm not giving up without a fight.

What I have found over the past two years on this journey is that knowledge is power. This weekend, stuck at home with two feverish babies (okay, maybe 11 is not a "baby," but she's still my baby), I was fortunate enough to stumble upon this hour long video. It's a presentation by Douglas Lisle, PhD, based on his book The Pleasure Trap. If you are the type that wants to understand why you overeat and eat food that you absolutely positively do not want to eat, then it is important to come back to this video when you have the time to watch.

I'll summarize what Dr. Lisle is arguing here: We are biologically wired to eat the high calorie, high fat, tasty stuff whenever it is around. It's not our fault, it's a survival mechanism. This is why we want to eat food that we very well know is not on our plan.

Phew, I can forgive myself now. I'm not weak or defective. I'm just human!

But that doesn't mean that I don't need to figure out how to pass the s#*! up. I'm hoping that the next few days of Beck are going to help me do just that.

Do you know the difference between hunger, desire and craving?

Have you done the exercise on Day 11 of Beck? What did you learn?

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Thanks for a Great Event!

Thank you to all who bought tickets, donated items for the silent auction, provided food for our fabulous dinner, or volunteered alongside us to make Market to Table a great success!  We were thrilled to see all of you and come together as a community to celebrate local food that's good for you.  Each step we take together moves Healthy World Cafe closer to opening.  We can't wait to pop-up again!

Note:  The September Advisory Group meeting will be held on Monday, September 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the Friends Meeting House, W. Philadelphia St.  We are rescheduling the meeting due to the Labor Day holiday.  Hope to see you there!

You can see more photos on our Facebook page.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

From HGK's Inbox: Reader SOS

I had a fantastic lunch today with an acquaintance of mine. We have been running into each other all over town and dancing around the idea of getting together and talking about food issues. You see, this person has been really struggling with food lately, eating things that she knows are not good for her, stress eating, emotional eating and sneak eating.

Anyone out there ever struggled with these issues?

Anyway, from a purely selfish perspective, it was a great meeting. Besides absolutely getting joy in helping others with these issues, I was forced to think about all of the really wonderful tools that I had used to kick my emotional eating habits, tools that have been falling by the wayside lately. She kept thanking me for meeting with her, but it was I who should have been thanking her.

I'm also lucky in that I receive letters in my e-mail inbox like this one. Letters that make me really have to dig deep and think about my own issues.

"Hi Wendy,

I'm writing to you for advice.

A few months ago I started to think about becoming vegan, for health reasons, not ethical, having a look at blogs like yours and oh she glows and choosing raw it just seemed to make sense to me. One of my best friends is a triathlete and she was talking to me about plant strong living so I thought I'd check it out. Your green recovery post on Gena's website first got me to your blog, and your story resonated so strongly with mine! In fact you made me identify and realise for the first time that I am an emotional eater. Unfortunately, I seem to have been deeply affected by my mother's emotional eating and this has carried over to me.

My initial instinct was to set up some counseling with Gena through CR. I do find it's overwhelming trying to do it on my own, I'm scared of just picking any old recipe from one of these blogs, as you do need a proper plan/knowledge of daily nutritional needs really don't you. Also I don't have a dehydrator and don't have tons of money. However, money being the first issue with doing it with CR counseling, the second was that I'd really like to be able to do this myself! It's my body and I need to be able to take responsibility for my body, I'm going to be stuck with it forever, so I need to learn.

I tried really hard for about 20 days or so, but unfortunately, I also decided to give up gluten and wheat at the same time and just restricted too much I think. I went cold turkey and the result was
that I ended up waking up in the night and raiding the fridge eating things I had stopped myself from eating in the day. Sneaking small amounts of my house-mate's food. I have quite a bit of time to prepare food but sometimes end up having to go out for dinner with work colleagues, in Tasmania there is not even one vegan restaurant. I also found that when I was drinking I'd end up not caring about it any more, and then would feel terrible with myself for falling off the wagon. I decided to give up restricting the wheat free, and then somehow slowing the animal products have been creeping back in.

I'm really disappointed in myself, I want to get my glow back, I want to be full of energy, I want to kick the emotional eating, and I want to lose the extra weight I had managed to lose last year, (with a lot of obsessive exercise and restrictive eating). For the first time in my adult life, I was feeling fantastic about my body, and I've gone and undone everything. The ethics of veganism are also quite close to my heart too, I feel like such a bad person, that I listen to my greedy tummy instead of my morals. The poor animals!

I've been taking note of the plans/ diet you work from, I'm just scared of "dieting", having tried it once before, I shudder when thinking about the idea of telling some one I'm on a diet (and the social awkwardness of it all - appearing fussy etc). Why can't I just do this, without having to let it take over my life? I want to get to a place where I can sustain the way I eat for the rest of my life,
without being overly restrictive. I love food so so much. But I've been reading Michael Pollan and understand this notion that humans run best off plant foods.

I guess that what I'm looking for is advice from someone who is also an emotional eater, whose gone through the whole process and come out the other side, I understand that as with all eating disorders,
emotional eating is something I'll probably battle with for a long time, but any encouraging words, advice, help from you about how I can get myself on track would be great.

Thank you for being such an inspiration, your website is wonderful and I think you are such an amazing brave person for sharing your story with the world."

So what is my advice, exactly? What tips and techniques did I share with my lunch mate that I also want to share with the author of this letter?

(1) Get out the big black garbage bag
If there is food in your house that you use like a drug, throw it away and do everything within your power to get rid of it if it makes its way back in (like someone brings it to your house for a party). Yes, get a big black garbage bag and fill it with all of the cookies and the chips and the ice cream and the processed, toxic garbage that doesn't belong in your body. It belongs with the other trash, in the landfill. Don't bring it into your house anymore. Don't delude yourself that you need to keep it in your house for your (a) kids, (b) spouse or (c) aliens that might drop down from Mars and demand it from you (see #5). Just get it out because at this point, you have to power over it. It is in control of you if you can't go a day or two or five without eating it.

(2) One day at a time
This is a very popular expression that I am borrowing from 12 Step programs. Why is it so popular? Because it's true. Forget about tomorrow. All we really have is today and that's all we can control. It's too much to think that you will never ever again eat chocolate or potato chips and dip. So don't let those thoughts rule you. We are just talking about today. Today you do not need to eat those foods. Let yesterday and tomorrow go. Do it now.

(3) Make a food/exercise plan and stick to it each day
From The Beck Diet Solution, I learned to write down my food and exercise for the day (either the night before or in the morning). You don't have to be uber exact, but things like "breakfast: green smoothie; lunch: soup and salad; exercise: 30 minute walk at 4 pm; dinner: salad, brown rice dish and banana soft serve" will do just fine. When you are faced with decisions about food, guess what???? You don't have to make any decisions. Other food is simply not on your plan. That's that. Don't give it another thought. That chocolate cake on the table at work this afternoon (yes, this did happen today)? Not on my plan.

I stopping doing this at some point. It's been downhill from there. Starting again tomorrow.

(4) Eat as much nutrient dense food as possible.
Vegetables first, raw and cooked, fruit and beans. A little nuts, seeds and avocado. Eat whole grains, but go lightly. Everything else is just that, everything else.

(5) Adopt the mindset "I have to take care of myself because no one else is going to do it for me."
Example: If bringing junk food into your house for your kids who like to eat junk food is causing you to binge on junk food when no one is looking then start taking care of yourself and refuse to purchase the junk. Your kids are not likely going to be paying for your diabetes meds and stints. If you are blessed with kids. They might not even want the junk. That just might be a trick your brain is playing on you to get you high again.

(6) All of this will build your resistance muscle, and that is exactly what you need to do to lick this thing.
It's all about the resistance muscle. And it's so true what Beck says, use that muscle and it gets stronger and stronger. Give in to it and it gets weaker and weaker until you are out of control and you don't know how to stop.

(7) Don't beat yourself up if/when you slip up, just move on immediately.
Never use a slip up as an excuse to keep eating food off of your plan. Just acknowledge it and go right back to your plan. Beating yourself up about it actually causes you to be more stressed out, which usually leads to more off plan emotional eating. Don't do it.

I wish you all strength!


P.s. Don't miss CNN�s �The Last Heart Attack�
Rescheduled for Saturday
 �The Last Heart Attack,� a CNN one-hour special hosted by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, has been rescheduled for Saturday August 27 after it was postponed due to breaking news in Libya. The show, which features former president Bill Clinton along with FOK�s Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn and Dr. Terry Mason, explores the signs, tests and lifestyle changes that could make cardiac problems a thing of the past. Premieres this Saturday at 8 and 11pm ET, 5 and 8 PT.

New Neighbors

The house next door to us has been for sale since January. It's a lovely house with incredible curb appeal and a fabulous kitchen/family room. The entire time the house has been for sale, I have secretly (and not so secretly) been praying that a family with young children moves in. You see, I've got neighbors on my left and neighbors on my right, but I couldn't pick any of my neighbors out of a police line up. And I've lived in my house for four years.

I know that young kids brings a certain sense of willingness, of openness, that just doesn't always exist in couples that have moved on to other phases of their lives. No judgement there, just a fact.

So you can imagine how psyched I was a few weeks ago when I ran into a guy on the sidewalk and he introduced himself as, "Hi, I'm your future neighbor" or something like that, and then within minutes I found out that an 8 year old girl and a 5 year old boy would very certainly be taking possession of the house next door. Winning!

It wasn't long before I invited them over for dinner.

In fact, they hadn't even moved in to the house yet.

When I asked the dad if anyone in the family had an food allergies, he replied, "No, but my son's favorite food is Palak Paneer."



I told him we were "mostly vegan."

I don't think he knew what to say.

And without any further conversation on the matter, I quickly planned an Indian feast for last night:

Chana Dal (split chick peas) Soup with Zucchini and Tomatoes
Raita (yogurt with cucumber and spices)
Saag Tofu (aka Palak Paneer)
Indian Rice Pilaf with Cauliflower
Aloo Baingan (potatoes with eggplant)

After last night, I'm not quite sure if he was serious about his son's favorite food. The adorable five year old looked at the Saag Tofu and made a funny face. I was left wondering if the parents even like Indian food, or ate it just to be kind.

But I am totally convinced that we've got really nice new neighbors.

And she loves to cook. Winning!

Have you ever served food to guests where it felt like a risk?

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Nutritional Information Made Fun and Accessible

I hope you guys are all enjoying some gorgeous weather as the summer draws to a close. I'm not usually sad about saying goodbye to summer, but this year I'm all broken up about it.

So I found myself a mental distraction.

I get a lot of questions about nutrition by e-mail and comment, but I'm not a doctor, not even a nutritionist. I have the same questions that you guys do! I'm just a chick trying to navigate my best health possible and sharing that journey publicly.

"NUTRITIONFACTS.ORG is brought to you by the Jesse & Julie Rasch Foundation in partnership with Michael Greger, M.D. Dr. Greger scours the world of nutrition-related research, as published in scientific journals, and brings that information to you in short, easy to understand video segments.

Michael Greger, M.D., is a physician, author, and internationally recognized speaker on nutrition, food safety, and public health issues.  A founding member of the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, Dr. Greger is licensed as a general practitioner specializing in clinical nutrition. Currently he serves as the Director of Public Health and Animal Agriculture at the Humane Society of the United States. Dr. Greger is a graduate of the Cornell University School of Agriculture and the Tufts University School of Medicine.

The Jesse & Julie Rasch Foundation was established in Toronto, Canada in the year 2000 by Jesse Rasch. Among the objectives of the Foundation is the funding of research into the role of health and nutrition in the prevention and treatment of disease and to ensure that the research results are appropriately disseminated to the medical profession.  The Foundation is also striving to educate the public on the enormous role that health and nutrition play in disease prevention."

Here's an example of one of Dr. Greger's videos. The subject is Goji Berries. While I have purchased one bag in the past, when I was exploring superfoods and raw food a bit, these little red dried fruits never really got much attention from me, until this:

I just wanted to let all of you guys in on this secret wealth of nutritional information. To see endless videos like this one, click here.

What are your burning nutrition questions? Were you able to find the answers on the website?

Monday, August 22, 2011

"Soul" Food Mondays || Put A Period on Your Past

Let go.  Put a period on your past.  Below is a video all about it, by a favorite youtuber.

And the Winners Are

Congratulations to our two winners of Plant-strong Pride bracelets! Anonymous and Anonymous. (It really and truly is random.)

Comment #31
Anonymous said...

I would love a plant strong bracelet and would wear it proudly!
I was going to ask you where I could buy one and would certainly purchase one or more if they were available. I need to lose approx. 50 lbs and would love to have a bracelet for a reminder of my commitment.

Comment #64
Anonymous said...

I would love to wear one, to inspire me to keep going when I run and remember how I fuel my body.
I would purchase one, if given the chance.
I am at a healthy weight, but want to keep my body strong and fit with fabulous veggies and healthy food!

You winning commenters know who you are! Please contact me with your name and shipping information at

Oh, and thanks for entering my Plant-strong Pride bracelet giveaway!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Forum to Discuss ...

Hi Readers,

Feel free to join the new Healthy Hair and Body forum here.  (Or click the "Forum" link above.)  It is your place to discuss healthy hair, body, and soul.  Ask questions.  Share knowledge.  Support one another's journeys.  And more.


Why We Got Fat and How Not to Be

"Take risks. If you win you will be happy. If you lose you will be wise."

Don't forget to enter my Plant-strong Pride giveaway if you haven't already. Contest closes Monday morning.
Thank you to the wise blogger over at Food = Health who pointed out the work of Dr. Douglas Lisle to me. One of his articles, entitled Do You Really Want to be Fat for Life? was particularly interesting given my interest in Volumetrics.

I highly recommend reading Dr. Lisle's article in it's entirety here:

Dr. Lisle does an amazing job of explaining why a Volumetric, Nutritarian eating plan works so well for weight loss and healthy weight maintenance, from an anthropological perspective:

"Processed foods

Modern, processed foods tend to be more calorically dense than natural foods. They can fool our satiety mechanism! When people eat substantial quantities of processed foods, it is quite natural for them to overeat, because the stretch receptors in their stomachs are not getting much chance to signal "enough" - until too much has been eaten.
Dr. Fuhrman's Citrus Beet dressing. On top of my Hugh Jass Salad.
Nuf said.

Let's look at the caloric density of some popular foods. Raw vegetables, such as salads, contain about 100 calories per pound. Cooked vegetables, such as carrots, contain about 200 calories per pound. Fresh fruits contain about 300 calories per pound, and starchy vegetables and grains contain about 500 calories per pound. But breads, pizza, ice cream, and other processed products are usually between 1000 and 1500 calories per pound!

Easy to overeat

A pound of bread, for example, has about 1200 calories! Because of processing, bread is a more concentrated product than grains or starchy vegetables. Therefore, when eating bread, there will be less stretch receptor activity in the stomach signaling for satiety than when eating grains, given the same caloric intake! Some examples might make this easier to understand. Which is easier to eat: a pint of ice cream, or five pounds of cooked carrots? Which is more likely to make you feel full: a pound of pizza, or eight pounds of cooked broccoli? Four ounces of chocolate, or three large baked potatoes? You can see that overeating is easy to do if concentrated, processed foods are prominent in the diet. Meats are also very concentrated - one of the few naturally concentrated sources of calories. Meat consumption was probably relatively unusual in the natural environment, and it packed a big punch at about 1200 calories per pound.

In today's world, the Fat for Life crowd is eating a diet that predominately consists of processed foods and meat, fish, fowl, eggs, and dairy products. This guarantees that the caloric density of the average American's diet is much, much greater than their appetite machinery is built to handle! Any creature given a diet that is more concentrated than is appropriate for its design will tend to overeat - and get fat. Birds eating processed foods, for example, may fatten to the point that they can no longer fly. Given this perspective, it is hardly a surprise that over 50% of U.S. adults are obese; and another significant percentage are well above their optimum weight."

But the point that really stood out for me as totally new information was this:

"Remarkable new approach to weight loss

A key strategy in any successful weight loss program is to treat your body in the way it was meant to be utilized. A top priority of this strategy is to eat a diet consisting of whole natural foods - fresh fruits and vegetables, and the variable addition of whole grains, raw nuts and seeds, and legumes. In addition to the many other health benefits, this dietary strategy will provide sufficient stretch receptor activity, resulting in satiety. With this dietary strategy, significant overeating is much less likely to occur. At the Center, for lunch and dinner, we recommend that meals be eaten in a particular order.

First, eat a large, raw vegetable salad. Steamed vegetables should be eaten next. Finally, eat starchy vegetables and whole grains. There is a reason for this recommendation. We have observed that once a person gets a taste of higher-calorie foods (such as cooked grains), lower-calorie foods (such as raw salad) are suddenly less appealing. This can result in less salad and vegetable consumption, which, in turn, can cause an overall increase of the meal's caloric density. By starting with the least caloric foods - when we are the most hungry - more low-density food is consumed. This results in more stretching of the stomach, which helps us to feel full and thus less likely to overeat.
Another recipe from Manjula's Kitchen that got
the Healthy Girl's Kitchen treatment: Cabbage with Peas.
Using this strategy, there is little need to be concerned about portion size. There is truly no need to "go hungry." By consuming the majority of calories from moderately concentrated, unprocessed, whole, natural foods, most of the "fat battle" is easily won. Combined with a moderate exercise program, this strategy really works - just as nature intended. We have found that our overweight patients tend to lose about two pounds per week using this strategy. Most medical researchers would consider our patients' successes to be "miraculous." We don't, but we are very pleased to see our patients consistently rewarded for following this "uncommon sense" approach to weight loss."

The text in red . . . emphasis mine. Holy cow! That's brilliant.

Now why didn't I think of that?


3in6: Encore in January!

By popular demand, the 3in6 challenge will be back ... but in January 2012!  It'll be a great way to begin the new year.  For the time being, I wish you all the best in continuing on your own for the rest of the year!

Migraines and Drinking Water?

"Dehydration ... results in less blood and oxygen flow to the brain and dilated blood vessels."  Hence, the migraine.  For the complete article, read here.

Fieldtrip: Indian Grocery Store and Absolutely Scrumptious Aloo Baingan Recipe

Thank you to everyone who has already entered my Plant-strong pride blogger giveaway! If you haven't had the chance to do that yet, don't miss out!
Have you ever heard of asafetida, a.k.a. hing?

I hadn't until about a year ago, and I didn't have it in my kitchen until a few weeks ago when my friends and I made a field trip to one of our local Indian grocery stores. I say "one of" because it is important to point out that we had our choice of three to go to, even in our little backwoods of Ohio. Okay, well, the eastern suburbs of Cleveland aren't exactly backwoods, but they aren't exactly metropolitan either! So I was stoked to find out that we had our pick of Indian groceries.

Why? Well, because I wanted that darned asafetida! That and just about every ingredient you could find that you need at an Indian grocery is far, far cheaper than, lets say, your local high end specialty health food chain (I won't mention any names here because you know how much I love me some Whole Foods . . . oops!).

Here's some of the goodies that I picked up:
Roasted chick peas. Imagine that! Gotta get us some more because they were devoured in a few days, and I didn't even get a chance to try them on my salads before they were all gone. They came salted and unsalted and my daughter requested that the next time I get them, she wants the unsalted ones!
Pretty much the same calorie stats as any chip, cracker or snacky food (if you check a lot of labels, you will find that so many snack foods come in at about 110 calories per ounce) but with far, far better nutrition.

I haven't gotten around to using this dried mango powder yet, but give me time Aloo Gobi! Give me time!
The spices are unbelievably cheap. Yes, cheap. Is that a bad word? I don't mean it like that. I just mean that the spices at an Indian grocery store are practically free compared to anywhere else. That's why you'll see me back at the Indian grocery next week!
And the dried beans too! In every variety . . . 2 pounds for $2.49. Wow! You know where I'll be getting ALL of my dried beans from now on.

Needless to say, I've got Indian food on the brain!

Kale Mallung, a Sri Lankan recipe, from Fat Free Vegan. How did Susan ever know that I had a box of washed and cut kale that I wanted to use up? The coconut and lime make this no-oil sauteed greens dish incredibly unique and incredibly tasty!

Manjula's Kitchen

My business partner was doing a google search the other day for vegan Indian recipes and she came upon a website/blog that neither of us had ever seen before. It's called Manjula's Kitchen and I have no idea how this incredible source came into being because from the looks of Manjula, there is no way that she is the blogger behind this wonder (no offense Manjula, but you look a lot like my mother's age and she doesn't even use a computer, let alone create videos and blog about her cooking).

Anyway, I digress. If you love Indian food like I love Indian food, then let me tell you, we have found the mother load. Unfortunately, since I did not grow up with an Indian mother and not even an Indian aunt, I have to teach myself how to make authentic tasting Indian food.

But without using any oil.

How's that for a challenge?

Good news my friends, I think I have finally mastered at least some of it. Barely-any-oil authentic tasting Indian dishes. I'm going to be eating this one until my stomach explodes!

HGK's Aloo Baingan (Potato and Eggplant)
inspired by a recipe from Manjula's Kitchen
serves 3-4

1 medium purple eggplant, un-peeled, cut into 1/2? cubes
5 medium boiling potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2? cubes
1 medium tomato cut into 1/2? cubes
1 1/2 cups fat free tomato sauce (I have been really into the Muir Glen brand lately-check the labels for the varieties with no fat)
cooking spray
Pinch of asafetida (hing) (don't stress out if you don't have this ingredient, just leave it out)
1 teaspoon cumin seed
1 small chopped green chili (jalepeno-deseeded) adjust to taste!
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 tablespoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon salt, adjust to taste
2 tablespoons or more chopped cilantro

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line two cookie sheets with aluminum foil. Spray foil lightly with cooking spray and lay out chopped eggplant pieces on one sheet and chopped potato pieces on the other. Roast eggplant for approximately 15 minutes, until it is starting to soften, but not turn into a mush. Roast potato for approximately 25 minutes until edges of potato pieces are starting to brown and potato is just cooked.

While eggplant and potato are roasting, in a small bowl, mix the grated ginger, jalapeno pepper, coriander powder, paprika, turmeric, and 2 tablespoons of water to make a paste.

Spray the base of a pot with cooking spray and heat the pot over medium heat. Test the heat by adding one cumin seed to the pot; if seed cracks right away pot is heated to the right temperature.

Add cumin seeds and asafetida after seeds crack.  Add the spice mixture and stir-fry for 20 seconds, stirring continuously.

Add chopped tomato and stir-fry for a minute. Add tomato sauce.

Add roasted potatoes and eggplant. Mix it gently, let it simmer for three to four minute on medium low heat. Turn off the heat and add chopped cilantro mix it well.

Do you shop any International grocery stores? Tell us about it!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Plant-strong Pride Giveaway and Beck: Day 10-Set a Realistic Goal

Time for another exciting blogger giveaway! I'm giving away two Plant-strong pride bracelets to two lucky winners, chosen by a random number picker.

I wear my bracelet every day. It's great positive reinforcement and also an interesting conversation starter!

Here's what you have to do to enter:

Leave a comment to this post answering the following questions:

(1) Do you want a Plant-strong bracelet? Why?

(2) If you don't win one in this give-away and you have the opportunity to purchase one, would you?

(3) See below for final question.

Enjoy and good luck! Contest ends Monday, August 22, 2011 at 10 am EST. Winners will be announced shortly after contest ends.

On another note, we are on Day 10 of The Beck Diet Solution. Our task for today? Set a realistic goal.

Wow, have I lost sight of that doozey! I have been playing head games with myself again. If I eat this way then I will lose this much weight by such and such a time . . .

Sound familiar?

Well, thank the universe for Beck! I am happily brought back down to earth and reminded that those thoughts are not going to help the situation, and that I would do much better just to work in increments of 5 pounds.

So what's my goal? Lose 5 pounds. Not only that, but give it a realistic and HEALTHY time frame. Like 1 pound per week. Even 1/2 a pound per week is healthy. If you can make lasting changes that allow your body to drop 1/2 a pound per week, then it really doesn't matter how long it takes you to lose "the weight." All that really matters, when it comes down to it, are that the changes are real and lasting.

Works for me!

And now for the final giveaway question:
(3) Do you have a weight loss goal? Or are you at your happy weight?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Tamale Casserole, Revisited and The Beck Diet Solution, Day 9-Select an Exercise Plan

About a week ago I prepared Lindsay S. Nixon's Tamale Casserole from her book The Happy Herbivore. My husband and I definitely thought it was GOOD, but I knew that it could even be better with a boatload more veggies. So I went to town this past weekend and set about making a Tamale Casserole that even Dr. Fuhrman would love.

If you are expecting the cornbread topping to taste like cake, the way an old fashioned cornbread usually does, you will probably be disappointed. This cornbread is made with no fat, so it is a little bit dry, but on top of the moist vegetables, I think it's a great compliment.

HGK's Vegetized (is that a word?) Tamale Casserole
serves a crowd

approx. 1/2 cup low sodium vegetable broth
1 large chopped onion
6 garlic cloves, minced
10 ounces mushrooms, chopped
4 cups medium dice zucchini
4 cups chopped greens (kale, collard, beet, etc. or a mix)
1/2 cup of your favorite red salsa
1 1/2 Tbsp Mexican or Southwest spice blend
OR 1 Tbsp chili powder + 1 tsp dried oregano + 1 tsp ground cumin
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen corn (I prefer the Fire Roasted from Trader Joe's)

for the cornbread top:
1 1/2 cups cornmeal
1/2 cup whole wheat flour, either white whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsweetened almond or soy or rice milk
1/4 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 cup frozen corn kernels
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place a large saute pan or dutch oven over a medium high flame and coat the bottom of the pan with vegetable broth. As soon as the vegetable broth is bubbling, add the diced onion. Turn the heat down to medium and cook the onions, stirring frequently, for about 5 minutes. If onions get too dry, add a touch more vegetable broth as necessary to prevent burning. Add chopped garlic and stir. Cook for two more minutes.

Add mushrooms and stir. Cook until mushrooms begin to release their water.
Add zucchini and stir. Cook for approximately ten minutes.
Add chopped greens and stir. Cook for three minutes. Add salsa and stir.
Add either 1 1/2 Tbsp spice blend or chili powder, oregano and cumin. Stir well.
Add black beans and corn. Stir.

Take vegetable mix off of the heat. Now it's time to mix the cornbread.

Place all dry cornbread ingredients in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together all of the wet cornbread ingredients (except for the corn kernels). Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir to combine. Fold in the corn kernels.

Now assemble the casserole. Pour the vegetable mix into a greased 9"x13" pan. Top with the cornbread mix and spread evenly over the vegetables. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the cornbread topping at the center comes out clean. Serve immediately.
If you are serving Vegetized Tamale Casserole as a main course, I think it looks especially professional stacked in two layers.

And now for a Beck update! I am stuck here on Day 9, Select and Exercise Plan. Not because there is anything particularly difficult about this step, but just because my life has been busy as of late! The old me would have been a little agitated, thinking that I wasn't working through the steps fast enough. But now I realize that it is more important to really master the steps, slowly if you have to.

So in that vein, I have a confession to make: I'm not reading my Advantages Response Card twice a day like I am supposed to be doing! Every time my cell phone reminder goes off I think of how busy I am and that I don't have the time to do it. So I am going to reset the timer to go off at two totally different times a day--times where I know I am not going to be in the middle of a lot of other things.

As far as exercise goes, I believe that what Beck says is totally on point. Number 1, we have to schedule exercise like everything else in our lives and make it a major priority. And Number 2, we have to lead active lives and not just rely on the gym to take care of our exercise needs (like parking far away from an entrance to a building and taking stairs).

I know that I have been my most consistent with exercise ever since setting a schedule. In fact, I had a recent schedule change (really a temporary elimination of one form of exercise) and I thought I would make up for it by walking. Well, guess what? I have walked sometimes, but not nearly with the consistency as I would have worked out with a scheduled class. So I'm starting again with more scheduled classes a.s.a.p.!

It's all a learning process and I am a willing student.

How do you get in the most exercise possible? Do you schedule exercise like an appointment? 

What are you struggling with on The Beck Diet Solution? What day are you on right now?

What are you having success with on The Beck Diet Solution?

Monday, August 15, 2011

Youtube: Genetically Modified Food ...

In this videoDearNaptural85 discusses "eating well and organic living".  As part of her discussion, she shares her thoughts on a book entitled "The Unhealthy Truth".  Here's a short description of the author's journey:

"O'Brien turns to accredited research conducted in Europe that confirms the toxicity of America�s food supply, and traces the relationship between Big Food and Big Money that has ensured that the United States is one of the only developed countries in the world to allow hidden toxins in our food--toxins that can be blamed for the alarming recent increases in allergies, ADHD, cancer, and asthma among our children. Featuring recipes and an action plan for weaning your family off dangerous chemicals one step at a time, The Unhealthy Truth is a must-read for every parent--and for every concerned citizen--in America today."

To purchase the book:
The Unhealthy Truth: One Mother's Shocking Investigation into the Dangers of America's Food Supply-- and What Every Family Can Do to Protect Itself

Healthy Hair Features: RECAP

In case you've missed them, here are healthy-haired women who have been featured on the blog:

Natural: NowIamnappy
Natural: MissAlinaRose
Natural: Chime
Texlaxed: MsKibibi
Natural: Janet
Youtube Natural: Afrostory
Youtube Natural: Rusticbeauty
Natural: Redecouverte
Natural: Lina
Natural: Copa
Relaxed: Caroline
Natural: Gisele

*If you're interested in being featured, use the "Contact Me" button above.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Farro with Roasted Eggplant Pesto

Did you ever wonder how Giada De Laurentiis doesn't get really fat?

I have.

I mean, she cooks the most delicious looking high calorie food continuously while staying her same teeny weenie size. Does she eat like a bird? Most likely.

But I don't.

That's why when I was vegetating on my couch the other day and I saw Giada make Farro with Pesto and it looked so delicious, I knew I had to recreate it my way. And I knew exactly how I was going to do it. With Susan Voisin's Roasted Eggplant Pesto from Fat Free Vegan.

And I was right. It's extraordinary!
Farro with Roasted Eggplant Pesto
inspired by Giada De Laurentiis and Susan Voisin

2 cups farrow
5 cups water

Place water, farro and a dash of salt in a pot and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cook farro for 18 minutes. Drain farro and mix with Roasted Eggplant Pesto. Serve immediately.
Have you ever tried farro? Scale of 1-10, how much did you like it?

Do you know how Giada De Laurentiis stays so teeny?

Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Real Winner: The Happy Herbivore's Mexican Cabbage

My second entree into Lindsay S. Nixon's recipes from her book The Happy Herbivore turned out spectacularly. Mexican Cabbage is the epitome of a volumetric recipe: high in volume and low in calories. But without sacrificing taste, texture or satisfaction. I absolutely LOVE this dish and know that I will be making it time and time again.

The only substitutions I made to Lindsay's original recipe were (1) doubling all of the ingredients--of course--and I'm taking most of it to a pot luck tonight, and (2) I used a Southwest spice blend that a friend gave me as a gift instead of the spices that Lindsay called for (cumin and oregano).

Lucky for us, Lindsay has posted this recipe on her blog, Happy Herbivore. Here it is:

As for Lindsay's Tamale Casserole recipe that I blogged about last week and many of you wanted the recipe for, I wasn't able to find the recipe online and I don't have permission from the author to reprint her recipe. But check back here in a few days for the Healthy Girl's Kitchen spin on Tamale Casserole. I'm so excited to try out my own version!