Monthly Archives: February 2013

Sunday night dinner experiment- beetroot ravioli

After that wonderful dinner last Thursday I was inspired to try something new in the kitchen. Since I’ve had my copy of Crazy Sexy Kitchen bookmarked up but haven’t really made anything since I bought it a few months ago, I decided to pick something I’ve been longing to make: the Beetroot Ravioli with Cashew Cream Cheese.

I soaked my cashews overnight Friday and then Saturday made the cashew cream cheese and let the flavors meld in the fridge.

Because I can NEVER leave good enough alone with a recipe, I tweaked it a bit. Since it was a cold, miserable day, I decided to roast the asparagus with a little balsamic vinegar and salt instead of shaving it and serving it as a raw salad. I actually roasted the sliced beets, too. What?! Why did I do that? Well, my slices, even though I did them with a mandoline slicer, were not exactly paper thin and were too hard and crunchy for my tastes. I ADORE roasted beets and thought it would work out just fine.

Beet ravioli

Beet ravioli

And it did. So delicious! And I have left over cashew cream cheese to spread on bagels and crackers since you only use half of it for the recipe.

I look forward to making more recipes from this book!

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Spring 2013 Healthy Vegan Challenge

I came across a post from Carrie on Vegan today talking about how she would like to get back on track with healthier eating (she wants to specifically follow Dr. Fuhrman’s Eat to Live or “nutritarian” way of eating more closely) after getting a bit off course with her healthy habits. To be fair, her less healthy habits still look pretty good compared to a lot of people’s diets!  She asked if others would like to join her for 8 weeks of cleaner eating and since I’ve been reflecting on my own eating and lifestyle rut I’ve been in all winter, I figured I’d jump at the chance. Especially after being weighed at the doctor’s office today and seeing that I have gained a couple of lbs. since my last visit two months ago.

So, starting today and lasting until April 22nd I plan to bring more awareness about what I’m eating and how much I’m moving (besides from the computer to the fridge).

Specifically, the goals I’ve set for myself are:

  • Cook at home more. I know that I’m not going crazy with oil and salt like they might at a restaurant.
  • No alcohol during the week. One or two glasses of wine a night can really add on the calories!
  • Exercise at least a little every day. My yoga mat has been neglected for too long.
  • Bigger portions of vegetables and legumes, smaller portions of calorie dense food.
  • Fruit for dessert, less chocolate.
  • Try out some new recipes from cookbooks with healthier recipes (Appetite for Reduction, Crazy Sexy Kitchen, Eat to Live, etc.)

I’m not doing anything too restrictive like getting rid of my morning cup of coffee or banishing the thought of ever going out to eat or having a treat, because overall I’d like to make changes that are sustainable for me over the long-term.

I will check in here from time to time with my progress and to keep me motivated. If you’d like to join, feel free and let me know if you do! You can join the Facebook page here for support.

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PPEP Dinner

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Beautiful raw cruciferous salad

Last night I had the pleasure of attending the second Practitioners Promoting Eating Plants dinner in Bloomfield Hills. This is a group of health professionals, students, and people interested in their own health who, you guessed it, promote or follow a plant-based (vegan) diet. It was held in the beautiful home of a registered nurse, raw foods chef, and Food for Life Instructor, Sue. Around 35-40 people attended and it was so wonderful to be around so many like-minded people! I met doctors, nurses, registered dietitians, fellow students, cooking instructors, a documentary filmmaker, a local bulk-foods business owner, a psychologist, cancer survivors, and more.

Sue made us the most delicious, mostly raw, dinner I have ever had! Luckily, I borrowed my boyfriend’s camera and was able to take some shots.

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Raw beet and apple salad

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A creamy, cashew dill dip

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Raw kale salad

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My beautiful, colorful plate

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A raw, apple spice bar. So delicious!

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Fruit kabobs

Not pictured: Butternut squash soup shooters, fresh spring rolls that we rolled ourselves, a roasted tomato and quinoa salad, french lentil and wild rice salad, and a roasted vegetable platter. There was an abundance of amazing food! Even though I stuffed myself (and went for seconds) I still felt energetic and good.

I definitely hope to be able to make as many future meetings as possible. I feel so inspired after meeting so many great people doing wonderful things to promote health! This dinner was mostly a networking opportunity, but I wonder if future events might involve some sort of health topic presentation or other activity? Not that it wasn’t perfect to just talk and eat!

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American Heart Month

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Apparently February is American Heart Month but I must either be living under a rock or they aren’t doing a very good job of promoting it, because I haven’t heard anything about it until now. Actually, a friend mentioned earlier this month that some organization (I want to say the American Heart Association, but I’m not positive) was giving out free doughnuts in his work lobby to promote heart health awareness, ack! So many things wrong with that. Why not apples or even nuts?

Heart disease is the #1 killer in the United States among both men and women and claims the lives of 1 in 4 Americans each year, which means 600,000 people. And that number doesn’t include the amount of people who have heart attacks and don’t die from them (at least not right away). The best news about heart disease is that it’s completely preventable and even reversible! We can affect the outcome of our heart health simply by eating a proper diet, exercising, not smoking, drinking alcohol only moderately, and managing our stress.

What exactly is a “proper diet?” According to The American Heart Association, a heart-healthy diet looks something like this:

As part of a healthy diet, an adult consuming 2,000 calories daily should aim for:

  • Fruits and vegetables: At least 4.5 cups a day
  • Fish (preferably oily fish): At least two 3.5-ounce servings a week
  • Fiber-rich whole grains: At least three 1-ounce-equivalent servings a day
  • Sodium: Less than 1,500 mg a day
  • Sugar-sweetened beverages: No more than 450 calories (36 ounces) a week

Other Dietary Measures:

  • Nuts, legumes and seeds: At least 4 servings a week
  • Processed meats: No more than 2 servings a week
  • Saturated fat: Less than 7% of total energy intake

The American Heart Association recommends that you eat a wide variety of nutritious foods daily.  Remember, even simple, small changes can make a big difference in living a better life.

Dr. Esselstyn, a plant-based doctor who has reversed his patients’ heart disease with diet and the guy responsible for getting Bill Clinton to go plant-based to improve his heart health, would go even further to say people should eat an oil-free, plant-based diet. Ditch the meat completely, no dairy, just whole plant foods. My favorite quote from Dr. Esselstyn:

If the truth be known coronary artery disease is a toothless paper tiger that need never ever exist and if it does exist it need never ever progress.

Dr. Esselstyn isn’t the only doctor who has found that a plant-based diet can be used to treat heart disease. Dr. Dean Ornish has also conducted clinical research with his patients with great results. His program is proven and Medicare covers Dr. Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease. 

Of course, diet is one piece of the puzzle. All around healthy lifestyle habits such as exercise, not smoking, and handling stress well (we all have it!) are important to heart and overall health.

This ties into the research I’m doing right now for a symposium presentation at my college next month. My partner and I are studying the effects of vegetarian and vegan diets on health, specifically heart disease, cancer, and type II diabetes. Some of the current research from the EPIC-Oxford study has shown that vegetarians have a 32% lower chance of hospitalization or death from heart disease than nonvegetarians. Studies on vegetarian Seventh Day Adventists have also shown them to have lower heart disease mortality, as well. And that is just the tip of the mountain of studies I have to read over…

I suppose what I’d like you to take away from this post is that we have an amazing amount of control over certain diseases that are rampant in our country. Please show yourself some love and take care of your heart! Eat lots of plants, do something relaxing when you’re under pressure (deep breathe, go for a walk, call a friend), and keep moving.

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Make it at Home; Greens and Plant-based Milks

I am supposed to be working on a take home essay exam for my feminist theory class today (and I will!), but allow me to procrastinate just a tiny bit longer and warm my brain up.

I LOVE tutorials and guides that make it easy for people to eat healthier and to incorporate more plant foods in their lives. Within the last couple of days I’ve come across some really great ones and wanted to share them with you.

Everyone could use a bit of help getting more leafy greens into their daily meal rotation. You can NEVER have too many greens! I love to put them in almost everything. This post from Dreena Burton’s blog, has some fantastic tips for preparing, storing, and cooking a variety of greens. Let Them Eat Greens! Confession: Sometimes I want to skip making my greens (usually kale) because although I know it’s worth it, I HATE washing them and chopping them up. I have a tiny kitchen and a sink with only one basin (and no dishwasher), so it’s usually always got dishes waiting to be washed in it. But it IS always worth it and I never regret it after devouring all that deliciousness. My point: make them anyway, even though I know it can be a pain!

Another fabulous blog post I came across via Twitter is YumUniverse’s guide to making homemade plant-based milks. I’ve not yet made my own at home, though Heather makes it look so easy and delicious. She even provides a link to a printable poster so you can hang it in your kitchen and continue to be inspired by all the different types and flavors of non-dairy milk you can experiment with. One caveat: if you rely on your store-bought plant milks for the fortified vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, vitamin D, and B-12, make sure you’re getting them from a different source if you switch to homemade.

I really appreciate all the work that must have gone into researching, writing, and photographing for these posts. They’ve inspired me to hopefully work on my own guides/tutorials at some point and I hope they’ve inspired you to try some of these recipes out.

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New All Vegan Restaurant Coming Soon!

Last night my boyfriend and I were lured to Habana Cellar Lounge with the promise of vegan cookies, happy hour drinks, and the best: an announcement from Phillis and Joel, the co-owners of The Lunch Room vegan food cart revealing their plans and location of a brick-and-mortar restaurant!

The Lunch Room is slated to open sometime in June 2013 in Kerrytown. A perfect place for a vegan restaurant, in my opinion! In addition to some of their popular menu items at the food cart, such as pad thai and tofu bahn mi, the new menu will include lots of new items like veggie sushi, tempeh reubens, tacos, fresh fruit juices, coconut milk ice cream sundaes, and oh, I’m going to pass out with anticipation if I go on! The thing I am MOST excited about? Brunch on the weekends! Vegan french toast? Yes, please.

The Lunch Room will be the second all vegan restaurant in Ann Arbor. I say the more choices, the merrier.

I can hardly wait until June.

annarbor.com article

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Healthy Meal Planning

I just wanted to share this awesome article I saw today about transitioning to a plant-based diet and planning and prepping your meals from the getvegucated.com newsletter.

“Does the thought of prepping food for the week make you want to reach for the phone and order take-out?
Luckily, being vegan doesn’t have to be expensive, complicated, or require that you spend four hours a day chopping vegetables.”

Vegan Grocery Shopping

Look at that bag of colorful love!

Even though I’ve been vegan (and before that vegetarian) for a long time, I could still use some food prep tips and tricks. I’ve always been into the idea of batch cooking and meal planning for the week, but I’ve yet to put it into practice. How great would it be to just come home after a busy day of school or work and have a fridge full of delicious healthiness waiting for you?!

If you’d like even more tips and support for transitioning to a plant-based diet, try their Vegucated Challenge! 

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