Tag Archives: plant based

How Not To Die

February 8, 2018

I find “How Not to Die” an odd name for a book. After all, we are all going to die, someday.  However, this book by Dr. Michael Greger, outlines how not to die from preventable causes. I must confess, that although I have known about the book for a while (Dr. Greger was a guest lecturer for the Plant Based Nutrition Certificate course I took), I refused to read it just because I did not like the title – until recently. Apparently, I was meant to read the book, as the universe sent Dr. Greger to me.

Katherine, Dr. Michael Greger and myself

I was thrilled when I learned that Dr. Greger would be speaking in Manitoba, and even more thrilled that the event was sponsored by The Wellness Institute.  The Wellness Institute is affiliated with, and attached to,  the Seven Oaks General Hospital in Winnipeg, Manitoba. For a hospital associated organization to sponsor a talk on using whole food plant based nutrition to heal is big news in my books.  Perhaps the science on plant based nutrition is beginning to be recognized by the medical community.

Apparently, tickets to How Not To Die where the hottest tickets in town last week. Only 140 tickets were available to the event, and they sold out quickly. Luckily, my friend Fran is a member at the Wellness Institute and gave me the heads up as soon as they were released. I attended the talk with friends Fran, Theresa and Katherine.  Dr. Greger is a great speaker. Very humorous, personable and extremely knowledgeable. The talk, follow up question session, book signing and taste testing were fantastic. During book signing, Dr. Greger took the time to speak to each person in line, and even pose for pictures. He was very happy to hear of the Whole Food Plant Based Cooking Classes we are holding here in Winnipeg and happily agreed to let me post his picture on this blog.

The first thing I did after purchasing tickets to the talk, was to order the book How Not To Die. I am a bit of a geek, so of course I had to read up on the subject before attending the talk. Dr. Greger has an interesting story and a unique historical connection to the plant based movement through his grandmother.

The book is divided into two parts. The first section focuses on individual diseases and the research showing the effect of nutrition on the disease. How Not to Die from Heart Disease, How Not to Die from High Blood Pressure, How Not to Die from Lung Disease, How Not to Die from Diabetes and How Not to Die from Parkinsons are just some of the chapters.  A very lengthy foot note section at the back of the book provides the links to the scientific research behind the information provided (for a science geek like me that is important). These chapters are in depth and full of information, so much so that I would recommend reading only one chapter a day as it is heavy reading. By the last chapters I found myself skimming the research. However, it is a great resource book for your library when you are looking for info on a specific disease. I found it interesting to look at diseases that tend to run in my family – heart disease, Parkinsons, high blood pressure – and see what can be done to reduce the chance of these genes expressing.

The second section, is all about the food, with a chapter on each of Dr. Greger’s ‘Daily Dozen’ food groups. The Daily Dozen is the foods that Dr. Greger himself tries to consume each day. This was the my favorite part of the book – real down to earth practical advise on how to eat well. The Daily Dozen focuses on what you should strive to eat daily.  I love the checklist and have been incorporating it into my everyday routine. Beans, Berries, Other Fruit, Cruciferous Veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, etc), Green Leafy Veggies, Other Vegetables, Flax, Nuts, Spices, Whole Grains, Beverages and Exercise. On a daily basis you can check your list and see how you faired.

Dr. Greger is the founder of the website NutritionFacts.org which reviews new scientific research on nutrition and provided the ‘Coles Notes’ version for you. It free and provides over 2,000 videos on health and nutrition topics. Its a great site to bookmark for where to go for scientific based information rather than relying on the sometimes questionable opinion based information available on the internet.

I have been a vegetarian for almost 40 years, solely plant based for seven years, and whole food plant based for three years. My diet was already heavy in beans, whole grains, greens, veggies, fruit and nuts. What more can I do to improve my diet? I found out there is still room for improvement. Since reading the book I am:

  • Reducing the salt in my diet.
  • Eating more legumes – beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc , making sure I get two or three servings of them every day not just every week.
  • Making sure I get at least one serving of cruciferous veggies each day – usually cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, or kale. (read the book to get fascinating info on how to prepare crucifers to preserve the cancer fighting properties)
  • Getting at least two serving of leafy greens every day, in a smoothie, salad or steamed greens
  • Making sure I get at least one serving of berries each day. Since they are out of season now in wintery Manitoba, I am using frozen berries in my smoothies, chia puddings and cobblers. Before I would have berries in my smoothie once or twice a week.
  • Having 1 tablespoon of ground flax daily. I like to dissolve mine in lemon water and let it hydrate before drinking. Or add it to a smoothie.
  • Ramping up the spices, especially turmeric. Adding 1/4 tsp of turmeric to my daily smoothie is a fast and easy way to get more turmeric without eating Indian food every day. Herbs and spices in general are great sources of antioxidants and nutrients.

With plant based diets becoming more mainstream, it is good to focus on the quality of the diet rather than the label. After all, a diet of potato chips and coke is vegan but it is not healthy. And so many would like to improve their diets but don’t know where to start. Cutting out meat often leads to eating more carbs – bread, pasta and rice which are often refined, white and lacking fibre.  By reducing meat and dairy consumption and increasing beans, whole grains, veggies and fruit, you will be adding so much more fibre to your diet. And it turns out that fibre is not just good for regularity. It also serves as food for the good bacteria that inhabit your gut. These good bacteria are a vital part of your immune system. So eat more beans!

I would recommend reading the book How Not to Die by Dr. Michael Greger, despite the title. The first part on individual diseases is great reference information and the second part provides vital information on how to eat every day. I can’t speak for the companion cookbook, as I have yet to try any of the recipes. However, if the appetizers served at the talk are any indication, the recipes should be great. Check out the website NutritionFacts.org and also The Wellness Institute. In their introduction to Dr. Greger, the Wellness Institute stated that this talk was only the first of a series of talks on how to improve health and prevent disease. Hopefully Winnipeg will see more high profile nutrition experts in the near future.

 

 

 

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Mexican Quinoa

January 15, 2018

One Pan Mexican Quinoa

I stumbled across this recipe on Facebook a while back and modified it to be whole food plant based. Its fast and easy to make and a hit with vegans and meat eaters alike. I like to make it using salsa for the sauce, but it can also be made with canned tomatoes or tomato sauce for a milder version. When cooking for kids or those not fond of spice, omit the jalapeño and use mild chilli powder.  Serve it with additional hot sauce or salsa at the table for those who love the heat.

Quinoa seeds have a natural coating of saponins on them which gives them a bitter taste. This is the plant’s natural defence mechanism to discourage birds from eating the seeds. The quinoa you purchase is often pre rinsed to remove the saponins, but I like to rinse mine before using just in case. You can rinse in a strainer under running water, but to conserve water I like to put the quinoa in a quart jar and cover with water. Let it sit for a few minutes. When you are ready to use, give the jar a good shake and drain the quinoa into a strainer.

One Pot Mexican Quinoa
• 1 onion, diced
• ½ jalapeño, chopped fine
• 1 pepper, diced (your choice, red, yellow orange or green)
• 1 carrot, diced fine
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 cup corn, fresh or frozen
• 1 can beans, drained and rinsed (your choice black, pinto, kidney or mixed beans)
• 1 cup tomatoes, tomato sauce or salsa
• ¾ cup quinoa, rinsed
• 1 tsp chilli powder (mild or hot)
• ½ tsp cumin
• ½ tsp salt
• 1 cup vegetable broth

Rinse quinoa well and set aside. In a large saucepan, sauté onion, jalapeño, pepper, carrot and garlic with a small amount of water or broth until onion is softened. Add corn, beans, tomato and spices. Add quinoa and broth and simmer for 20 minutes or until quinoa is cooked. Serve with diced avocado and tomatoes.

Chilli

January 15, 2018

Chilli is your classic comfort meal. Although it generally is meat based, it is also easy to make meatless. If you have a favorite recipe, omit the meat and add more beans and veggies. To add a bit more ‘meaty’ texture, try adding lentils, mashed tofu, or finely chopped carrots or mushrooms.

I don’t have one favorite chilli recipe, and like trying new ones. The latest one I made is great and definitely one I will make again. It is a modification of one from Bosh. I love their recipes; however, they tend to use a lot of oil. Luckily the oil is easy to cut and still have a great flavorful dish.

This chilli has a lot of ingredients but comes together quickly and does not require a long cooking time. It also freezes well, so is perfect for make ahead meals. The recipe has a nice kick to it, but it can be toned up or down by varying the amount of red chillies and chilli powder you use. I love the addition of the chocolate and cinnamon. The flavor is very subtle.

The recipe calls for mashed tofu, but you can eliminate if you are soy free. Sorry, no pictures as I forgot to take one when I made it.

Chili

  • 1 and a half Red Onions (Minced)
  • 3 Cloves Garlic (Minced)
  • 1 Red Chilli (Finely Chopped) (omit for less spicy version)
  • 1 Red Pepper (Finely Chopped)
  • 2 Celery Stalks (Finely Chopped)
  • 3 Cups Kale (Shredded)
  • 2 Cups Firm Tofu (Well Pressed)
  • 1 Tsp Salt (More to Taste)
  • 1 Tsp Black Pepper (More to Taste)
  • 2 Tsp Paprika
  • 2 Tsp Chilli Powder (More to Taste, choose hot or mild chilli)
  • 1.5 Tsp Cinnamon
  • 1.5 Tbsp Cumin
  • 2 Cups Tomato Sauce
  • 1.5 Cups Black Beans
  • 1.5 Cups Kidney Beans or red chilli beans
  • 2 Squares Dark Chocolate
  • 2 Cups Tomato Sauce
  • Cilantro
  • Lime juice

In a large pan sauté the onions, garlic, Cilantro stalks, chilli, red pepper and the celery stalks until onion is translucent. If necessary, add a tablespoon or two of water or veggie broth to prevent sticking.
Pour the Kale into the pan and stir it round until it’s well wilted.
Break the tofu into the pan, add the spices and seasoning and fold everything together so it’s well mixed.
Pour 2 cups of tomato sauce into the pan and fold it in so everything is well covered
Add the black beans, kidney beans and dark chocolate to the pan and fold everything together.
Add the rest of the tomato sauce and mix everything together.
Put a lid on the pan, reduce the heat to a very gentle simmer and let it bubble for 12 – 15 minutes to let the flavours blend together (only do this if you have a good non stick pan – if you don’t have a pan, gently stir the chilli for around 10 minutes)
Serve with brown rice or a baked potato and garnish with cilantro leaves and lime juice.

Check out the original recipe and video here    https://www.bosh.tv/recipes/total-chilli

Soup

January 8, 2018

During the winter months, there is nothing more comforting than a hearty bowl of soup.  Plant based soups filled with pulses are hearty and nutritious and easy of the budget too. There are so many interesting soups our there and there are so easy to make, why settle for canned tomato and cream of mushroom.

We eat a lot of soup over the winter months. Most soup recipes make enough for 6 to 8 people, so for most families that means a pot of soup will do for 2 or 3 meals. Soup makes a great lunchbox meal too, packed hot in a thermos.  And most soups freeze well, so if you can’t eat the whole pot within the week, freeze some for a quick easy meal when your time is limited.

Below are four of my favorite soups.

Red Lentil Carrot and Coconut Soup

Red Lentil Carrot and Coconut Soup
This is our favorite go to soup. It is easy to prepare and can be done on the stove top or in a slow cooker. The red lentils dissolve into the broth so its perfect for those who don’t particularly love lentils. And for those who love heat, it can be spiced up with chillies to your taste. The recipe was featured at our Cooking with Lentils class August 2016 and can be found here.

South America Black Bean Soup
This is another long time favorite of ours. If you don’t like it spicy, omit the jalapeño pepper


• 2 onions, diced
• 2 stalks celery, diced
• 2 carrots, diced
• 2 cloves garlic, chopped
• 1 jalapeño, diced fine
• 1 tsp thyme
• 2 tbsp cumin seeds
• 1 tbsp oregano
• 1 tsp salt
• 1 tsp ground black pepper
• 2 tbsp tomato paste
• 6 cups vegetable stock
• 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed (or 3 cups cooked)
• 1/3 cup lime juice
• Cilantro, finely chopped or dried

In a large pot, sauté onions celery carrots garlic and jalapeño in about ¼ cup broth until onions are translucent. Add thyme, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper. Sauté a few minutes longer. Add remaining ingredients except lime juice and cilantro. Bring to a boil and simmer gently for 1 hour. Or place all ingredients in a crock pot and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 10. Add lime juice and cilantro and serve.

Adapted from 125 Best Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes by Judith Finlayson

 

Carribean Pepper Pot Soup

Caribbean Pepper Pot Soup
This is another great recipe from the cookbook 125 Best Vegetarian Slow Cooker Recipes by Judith Finlayson. The original is made with hot peppers and packs quite a punch, but it is easily toned down to your spice level.

• 1 onion, finely diced
• 3 stalks celery, finely diced
• 4 cloves garlic, chopped
• 1 tbsp ginger root, minced
• 1 tbsp mild chilli powder
• ½ tsp ground coriander seeds
• ½ tsp crushed chillis (Omit for a mild version)
• ½ tsp salt
• ½ tsp ground black pepper
• 1 tsp brown sugar
• 3 cups butternut squash, peeled cut into ½ inch cubes (or substitute carrots)
• 1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained (or 1 ½ cups cooked)
• 1 ½ cup diced tomatoes, including the juice
• 6 cups vegetable stock
• 1 pepper (red, green, yellow or orange), diced small
• ½ can of coconut milk
• Fresh or dried cilantro or parsley

In a large pot, place onion, celery, garlic and ginger along with about ¼ cup broth. Cook until onion is translucent. Add remaining ingredients except coconut milk and cilantro or parsley. Bring to a boil and simmer 1 to 2 hours. Or place all ingredients in slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 10 hours. Add coconut milk and cilantro or parsley. Serve.

13 Bean Soup

13 Bean Soup

I make this with a 13 Bean mixture by Bob’s Red Mill, which has a variety of beans as well as split peas and lentils. The quicker cooking pulses like the peas dissolve nicely into the broth producing a thick flavorful soup. You can find my recipe here.

 

 

 

Convert your old family favorites to whole food plant based.

Most soups can easily be converted to plant based as meat, or meat broth is only a part of the soup, not the whole entrée. Eliminate the meat and add lentils or beans. Many recipes ask you to sauté the veggies in oil before making the soup, but you can easily sauté in broth, eliminating the oil. And in most cases, you can skip this step all together, and just toss the veggies into a pot with the broth to cook without any loss in flavor.  Consider adding a handful or two of finely chopped greens (kale or spinach are good ones) to your soup at the end of cooking. You will hardly notice they are even there.

Some more links to favorites for you to try:

Creamy White Bean Soup

Corn Chowder

Cream of Zucchini Soup without the Cream

A delicious plant based version of Olive Garden’s Pasta e Fagioli

Red Lentil and Kale

 

Bean and Barley Salad

August 2, 2017

This is another new salad from my visit to Edmonton, this time made by my Auntie Shirley. After she made it we misplaced the recipe so this is my recreation of the dish. It is great served on a bed of lettuce or alongside a green salad. Colorful, filling and delicious.

Bean and Barley Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

I am sure the original recipe used oil, but I used tahini instead.

Dressing

  • 3/4 cup lime juice (roughly the juice of 4 limes)
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/2 cup cilantro (finely chopped)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)

Salad

  • 6-7 green onions (chopped)
  • 1 red onion (finely diced)
  • 1 red bell pepper (chopped)
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 Large tomato (seeded and chopped) or tiny tomatoes
  • 1 can black beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1 cup corn
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 3 cups water or vegetable broth

Directions

Salad

  1. Bring the water or vegetable broth to a boil and then add the pearl barley and turn the heat down to a simmer and cover. Let simmer (just like rice) until all of the liquid is gone, roughly 45-50 minutes. Fluff with a fork, and let cool.
  2. Combine all of your salad ingredients in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Dressing

  1. Whisk together salad dressing components in a medium bowl, until combined.
  2. Pour salad dressing over the salad and toss together until combined. Serve immediately or put in the fridge and eat whenever you are ready!

Coconut Rotini

July 29, 2017

One of the nice things about traveling is you get try food other people make for you.  While it is sometimes hard for others to figure out what to feed “the vegan”, I truly appreciate the effort they make to accommodate my food choices. On my recent trip to Edmonton, I stopped by Pat and Glenn’s and Pat made this absolutely delicious dish for me. It comes from The LoonieSpoons Collection by Janet and Greta Podleski. This cookbook was a favorite of my mother’s and while it is not a vegetarian cookbook, it has several great vegetarian and vegan recipes. The LoonieSpoons’ cookbooks are probably best known for their whimsical recipe names. This one is called Itsy-Bitsy Teeny-Weeny Colored Polka-Dot Rotini.

Pat made this dish using mild chili powder and it was fabulous.  I just had to make it as soon as I got home, with Stevie’s help. However, when she put together the spice mix, she used my hot Indian chili powder instead, and I am glad she did. We all enjoyed the heat and it was equally as delicious as Pat’s version. I love the super fast way of making a pasta dish by cooking it in the sauce.

Itsy-Bitsy Teeny-Weeny Polka-Dot Rotini
• 1 ½ cup vegetable stock
• 1 can coconut milk
• 1 tsp each raw sugar and ground coriander
• ½ tsp each ground cumin and chilli powder (your choice mild or hot chilli powder)
• ¼ tsp each curry powder and ground ginger
• 227 g uncooked whole grain rotini (I used tri colored brown rice rotini) (about 3 cups dry)
• 2 cups frozen green peas, thawed
• 1 red pepper, diced small
• ¼ cup dried currants
Combine broth, coconut milk, sugar, spices and pepper in a non spick sauce pan. Bring to a boil, add rotini, reduce heat to a slow simmer and simmer 6 minutes.
Add chopped peppers and currants and simmer for 6 to 7 minutes longer until liquid has been absorbed and pasta is tender. Add peas. Remove from heat and let stand covered for 5 minutes before serving.

 

Chinese Noodle Salad

July 15, 2017

More on the theme of great summer salads. The original recipe for this one called for chicken and a whole bunch of oil. I cut out both the chicken and oil and it is so tasty that Ken declared he could eat this everyday!

 

The recipe calls for those ramen noodles from a package of instant soup.   I substituted a Brown Rice and Millet whole food ramen (purchased at Costco). However, since they were not instant I soaked them in hot water first to soften them instead of putting them dry into the salad. (Boil 2 cups water and pour over 2 cakes of ramen noodles. Let stand a couple minutes until just tender. Drain, rinse with cold water and add to salad)

I made the salad again using the instant ramen noodles but while delicious, it was a bit too crunchy for my liking. I recommend letting the salad sit in the dressing for at least 1/2 hour before serving to allow the noodles to soften up a bit. I modified the recipe to add the lettuce and almonds just before serving so they don’t get soggy.

 

Chinese Noodle Salad

  • 2 cups shredded red cabbage
  • ½ cup orange sections
  • 2packages ramen noodles, crushed **
  • ½ cup shredded carrot
  • 1/3 cup sliced green onion
  • 3 cups shredded lettuce
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds

Dressing:

  • ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp honey (or sweetener of choice)
  • 1 tbsp Hoisin Sauce
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce (or tamari)
  • 1 tsp minced fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Combine dressing ingredients together. Mix all salad ingredients, except lettuce and almonds, in a large bowl. Toss with dressing and let stand 30 minutes to allow the noodles to soak up some of the dressing and soften.

** Or substitute cold cooked noodles like the Brown Rice and Millet ones I used or soba noodles.