One of the great benefits of being WFPB is the VARIETY of foods we eat! Literally we can eat something different every day of the year. But like many others, we can fall into a rut, eating the same things over and over again on a regular basis.
I’ve never had much of a green thumb. More like a brown one. Although it’s my mission to inspire others to eat more plants, I’m much more comfortable in the kitchen than the garden. This year a friend planted a small garden for my husband and me. Perhaps now I’ll grow a green thumb. We’ve been able to harvest kale and are anxiously waiting for the brussels sprouts, tomatoes and zucchini to come in. We are also back to grilling more often. For some reason we abandoned our grill for a time, but we’re back to firing it up regularly now and I look forward grilling our harvests from our little garden one day soon. Truth is, most of us are not grilling enough vegetables. Throwing veggies on the barbie is one of the best ways to cook them. The high, dry heat means less cooking time or nutrients lost in water, preserving more of the good stuff that makes them so healthy.
Whether decorating eggs or deviling them, it is estimated that 180 million are purchased for Easter every year. Why has this become a tradition around the world? Easter is a religious holiday, but customs like Easter eggs may be linked to Pagan practices. An ancient symbol of new life, the egg has been associated with springtime Pagan festivals. Decorating eggs for Easter goes back as far as the 13th century. One theory for this custom is that eggs were once a forbidden food during the Lenten season. People would paint and decorate them to mark the end of the period of penance and fasting. Then they would eat them on Easter as a celebration. Flash forward many centuries and many advances in science and nutrition; we now suspect that eggs may be incredibly inedible. A 2010 study in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology found a 19% increased risk for cardiovascular problems in people that consume the most eggs. A 2019 report in the Journal of the American Medical Association, tracking 30,000 participants found that eating ev
I stopped making new year’s resolutions a while ago. Like weight loss diets, which have a start date, an end date, and an energy of holding your breath until the torture is over, new years’ resolutions are rarely successful. Neither are most “diets”. According to some estimates, diets fail 95% of the time. Not only is long term weight loss rarely achieved, diets can result in weight gain over the long run. Restrictive eating can lead to loss of lean muscle mass, the slowing of metabolism and eventual disordered eating patterns that may trigger gorging and binging down the road. Back in my younger days when I carried 40 extra pounds and peanut M&M’s were my oxygen, I went on a lot of diets. They were often preceded by a feast of Big Mac’s, greasy pizza and lots of chocolate. I rarely got through the first week before bailing. My bon voyage feast most likely totaled more calories than the calories I lost in the days that I white knuckled through the “diet”. I was probably in the hole each time I attempted to lose weight.
PBNM Cooking Coach Maureen Hartwig is a shining example of how to raise children on a plant-based diet. Realizing that childhood obesity and diabetes are affecting kids at alarming rates and at ever younger ages, resulting in life-long health issues, Maureen has embarked on a mission to educate families about the health benefits of feeding children foods that avoid these problems. She recognizes that kids can be picky eaters, that their schedules are often crazy busy, and that kids face lots of social pressures to consume unhealthy foods. Maureen’s three sons, ages 6. 10 and 12, are thriving in their plant-based lifestyle, and she is ready to show other families the how-to’s involved in making this lifestyle a possibility for them as well. The trick, Maureen notes, is to “keep it simple.” Knowing what foods your kids love, it’s easy to modify recipes to make them plant-based. On February 9th, from 2-4 pm, Maureen will host her first informational group for twelve parents. She will demo two easy dinner recipes (Asian and Mexican) that parents will be able to sample and will learn from the group how they would like future classes to be formatted. Her hope is that this group will meet on a regular basis and that they will include their children in future classes and social activities.
I find the US calendar our National Days of Recognition to be so curious. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Sudden Cardiac Arrest Month, and Pizza Month. Remarkable. It makes for such an odd visual. Imagine two people in hospital ID bracelets and gowns, just out of surgery, maybe with IVs connected, sitting in your favorite pizza parlor. Their doctors, standing behind them, joyously yelling, “Eat Up!” LOL! Really? This month, PCRM Food for Life Instructor, Betsy Bruns, provides us with great breast cancer information in her article “Orange is the New Pink.” So, here we will look at heart health for a minute. If we google Sudden Cardiac Death, we get more than 8,400,000 hits. If we look at some of the more well-known websites, like WebMD and MayoClinic, we find little information about the effects of nutrition on heart health. This, even though ten out of ten health care professionals agree that heart disease is directly related to what we eat. Yet, the majority of information available online from the major healthcare agencies is the same diluted, recycled stuff that has been promoted for years. They say eat more oily fish to increase your Omega-3 level. Limit eggs and alcohol intake. Eat low-fat dairy products and a few more fruit and vegetables. Funny, but it looks like the same information that has allowed heart disease to be the number 1 killer in the USA for decades.
It is the time of year when we see some of the best produce at the farmers markets. In September, pumpkins are ripening in the fields. This season’s crops of apples and pears arrive in the produce departments at the local grocery stores. The colors and smells of sun-ripened fruits and vegetables are so vibrant they can almost overwhelm the senses. September (and all year round, really) is also a time to be aware that there are many without enough healthy foods to eat. As we start the slide into the holiday feasting season, we are reminded that, yes, malnutrition exists in the US. Here, however, it doesn’t look like starving children with swollen bellies and sunken eyes, the way it looks in some war-torn or drought-stricken countries. In the United States, malnutrition manifests itself as obesity, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease. Here, malnutrition can be the result of conscious choice or financial, emotional, physical, or even geographical circumstances.
How many times have you heard people say, “I hate to cook,” or “I don’t have time to cook,” leading to dependence on fast food or unhealthy food choices. I’m here to tell you that cooking plant-based oil free meals can be soothing and relaxing and will contribute to your overall good health and well-being. All it takes is a little bit of time and planning and you can have recipes ready to eat right out of your freezer for the entire week. So let’s get specific. Make it simple and stick to your plan. The plan is everything. Start off with thinking about breakfast. One of the most healthful breakfasts you can make is steel cut oaks. I make enough on Sundays to last me 3-4 days, storing left-overs in the refrigerator and then reheating them. Top your oatmeal with 1 tablespoon of flax seed (need those Omega-3’s!), some frozen blueberries that you can quickly defrost (much more economical), and if you really want to go healthy, add some greens like kale or spinach, ¼ teaspoon of turmeric, and for fun, I top with cinnamon. It’s delicious and easy to prepare. Instead of coffee, try some blueberry hibiscus tea. I drink two cups a day as it has been shown to lower blood pressure naturally.