Posts Tagged ‘vegan’

Fall is upon us!  Summer sped by. Let’s slow down with some tomatoes. Slow Roasted Tomatoes that is….

If you want to keep that summer feeling through the seasons then this recipe is for you.  Plus as a added bonus, tomatoes seem to be flourishing a bit later into the season this year so my farmers market (and garden) is still stocked up.

“Recipe” is a bit of of stretch– these few steps are so easy it should just be called a “Must Do”.

1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.

2. Roughly chop tomatoes ( heirlooms or san marzanos or even on the vine tomatoes) and lay in a single layer in a baking pan.

3. Drizzle with olive oil and a bit of salt.

4. Add spices etc to your likings (basil, thyme, garlic all work well)

5. Let roast on this low heat for anywhere from 1 to 2 hours (what you are looking for is for the tomatoes to be very fragrant and loosely shaped).

These soft wrinkled beautifies have an intense tomato flavor that is perfect in sandwiches, with eggs, on salads and of course on any pasta dish you can imagine.

Stored packed in olive oil for 5-7 days in the refrigerator- but in my house they don’t last this long!

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So if you didn’t notice yet, I have a lot of vegan and vegetarian clients and today’s blog post is thanks to one of them…

Vegans and Vegetarian’s (and pre-menopausal Ladies in general) have to be sure to get enough Iron in their diet.  Now that can be easy if you eat a lot of beans and leafy greens but you also have to careful to maximize absorption (or how much iron your body actually takes in)….

Here is the deal with Iron & Absorption:

  • Iron from meat, poultry, and fish (i.e., heme iron) is absorbed two to three times more efficiently than iron from plants (i.e., non-heme iron).
  •  Vitamin C enhances non-heme iron absorption when eaten at the same meal.
  • Calcium in dairy or fortified non-dairy milk decreases absorption of both heme/non-heme iron.
  • Iron absorption is also inhibited/decreased by polyphenols, phytates.

— Polyphenols (phenolic acids, flavonoids, and tannins) are found in coffee, tea, cocoa and red wine and when consumed in high amounts, may lead to decreased iron absorption.

— Phytates are in grains/legumes. Soaking, sprouting, leavening, and fermenting whole grains render the iron more bioavailable by degrading the phytates.

— Soy also has Phytic acid and can decrease iron absorption

So whats a girl to do?

Try to increase your Iron Sources and eat them WItH Vitamin C sources. Eg. Spinach with Red Bell Peppers, Fortified Cereal with Strawberries and almond milk.

Use an iron skillet– you actually get some of that iron into your food!  Especially with longer cooking times, frequent stirring and a newer skillet.

Avoid eating your iron-rich foods at the same time as your coffee/tea/red wine or dairy (or calcium supplement).

Here is a link to sources of both Iron & Vit C and here is a link especially for the vegetarians/vegans that has a nice list of plant sources of iron:

Also talk to your doctor about your latest blood labs and they can  tell you if your labs are looking anemic or low in iron.

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Taking a long road trip this summer or flying to Europe?  Here are some handy healthy snacks ideas to make sure you don’t give-in to the Cinnabon at the airport (880 kcals for the classic!) or Doritos at the gas station…and of course bring a refillable water bottle wherever you go too!

I also like to travel with my own herbal tea bags for the decadent taste of home (decaf chai for me please).

Non-Perishable Suggestions:

• Energy bars: Make your own or look for low sugar (<10g),high fiber(>3g). A few brands to try: Kind bar, Larabar, Kashi, FiberOne or Luna/Cliff bar.

• Plain or low sodium almonds, peanuts, cashews, soy nuts, mixed nuts, etc without added oils. Keep servings to a small snack sized baggie (pre-make several as necessary).

• Dried fruit (mix with nuts for a protein boost)

• Pistachio seeds, sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds with shells- this will keep your hands busy (bring an extra baggie for empty shells)

• Trail mix- homemade or from the store, keep the serving to a snack sized baggie

• Canned fruit (in water not syrup and remember to bring a spoon!)

• Instant oatmeal packets (low sugar ideally). Top with handful of nuts for an extra protein boost and/or dried fruit for added sweetness.

• Peanut, almond or apple butter with whole grain crackers ( like Akmak or Wasa). I like Justin’s single serve nut butter

• Air popped popcorn  or microwave popcorn (look for low fat, “natural” brands”)

• Brown Rice cakes;flavored (sweet or savory) or plain and spread with peanut, almond, nut butter.

Perishable Suggestions (pack a soft cooler bag with a ice-pack):

• Low fat string cheese or wedge cheese and whole grain crackers

• Apple slices with snack sized packets or containers of nut butter

• Mini Pita and hummus sandwiches-add lettuce and tomato too or eat with baby carrots

• Mini or scooped bagel. Spread with light cream cheese, cottage cheese or peanut butter and whole fruit low sugar jam.

• PBJ on whole wheat bread (>3g fiber per slice)

• 6 oz low fat yogurts, I like greek yogurts in the lowest sugar flavor possible or plain with berries.

• Protein roll ups-roll up turkey, roast beef or light cheese, wrap and pack in plastic

•  Hard boiled eggs

•  Cut up veggies with low fat dip (you can find this prepackaged in many local supermarkets)

• Hummus with cut up veggies, pretzels or pita chips

• Unshelled edamame (Trader Joes sells these fresh or find them in the freezer section and thaw on the road

• Homemade low sugar whole wheat fruit muffins

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I taught this to my “Healthy Living” class last month as a way to show off the gorgeous Butter Lettuce they were growing in their Community Garden.

I love the idea of wrapping up all sorts of yummyness in a crunchy green leaf of lettuce (or cabbage) and you can either serve these as finger food at a party, serve as an appetizer or pack up a few for lunch.

Lettuce Wraps with Shiitake Mushrooms



Makes 4 servings

1 8 oz. package ready-to-eat, seasoned tofu (Soy Boy’s Tofu Lin works well)
salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, to taste
soy sauce to taste
3 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped ginger
2 1/2 cups shiitake mushrooms, chopped
bean sprouts
carrot cut into fine strips
1 head lettuce, use large leaves
1/2 lemon


Stir fry chopped garlic, ginger and carrot with some water in wok for a few minutes until soft.

Add the shiitakes, soy sauce, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.

Cook about another 5-10 minutes, then add the dried tofu and finish up the cooking, about 2-5 minutes. Spoon the mixture into the lettuce/cabbage leaves, add a few drops of lemon juice, and roll them up!

Recipe from PCRM

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As a follow up to my Pantry post, I wanted to add this simple “Pantry Pasta” recipe to your healthy home-cooking repertoire.  You can throw it together with only ingredients in your pantry (white beans, artichoke hearts,stock, wine and sun-dried tomatoes) as long as you have a lemon.  Ideally serve it with something fresh too, like a simple arugula and tomato salad or a heap of garlic spinach.

Serves 8


  • 1 (16 ounce) package whole wheat linguine pasta
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh or dried thyme
  • 1 can white beans
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 2 cups low sodium vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup chopped oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes (drain as much oil as possible first and then blot with a paper towel after chopping)
  • 3/4 cup sliced marinated artichoke hearts
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add linguine pasta, cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until al dente, and drain.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, and cook the onion 4 minutes, until tender. Mix in the thyme, and continue cooking 2 minutes, until onion is golden brown.
  3. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the saucepan. Return the onion and thyme to saucepan, and stir in the white wine. Cook until reduced by about 1 tablespoon. Mix in the stock, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Reduce heat to medium, and continue cooking 10 minutes, until reduced to about 3/4 cup.
  4. Mix the sun-dried tomatoes, white beans and artichoke hearts into the saucepan, and cook just until heated through. Toss the cooked pasta into the saucepan. Season with salt and pepper.

Adapted this recipe from All Recipes, but they use fresh tuna instead of white beans and I lowered the amount of oil a bit.

Let me know what you think!

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This review was originally posted in the Civil Eats blog– an awesome site to read conversations and thoughts from forward thinkers dialoging about sustainable agriculture and food systems as part of building economically and socially just communities

I am not typically a fan of diet books, especially ones that promise radical results in a short period of time. My philosophy is gradual, graceful lifestyle changes that bring health into harmony in a sustainable manner. Not a battle with a restrictive diet. So when I saw the title of the book, The Engine 2 Diet: The Texas Firefighter’s 28-day Save-Your-Life Plan That Lowers Cholesterol and Burns Away the Pounds, I dismissed it as another get-thin-quick scheme. However, I knew the core of the E2 diet was eating meat and dairy-free and was curious what a Texas Firefighter (a description that invokes big portions of mostly meat to me) had to say about this meal plan that is gaining mainstream popularity. Bill Clinton has adopted a plant-based diet and Meatless Mondays are now offered at many schools and hospitals.  But is this just a fad? There seems to be a paradox because at the same time it is predicted that world meat consumption will double by 2050 and between 1950 and 2007, per capita meat consumption in the U.S. increased by 78 pounds to a whopping 222 pounds per person per year.

Then I saw an early screening of the movie Forks Over Knives, which features the book’s author, Rip Esselstyn. Something about the charming, fit firefighter and his enthusiasm for leading us all on a health make-over was all the more intriguing. The movie mostly features Rip’s father, Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, a well-known doctor and researcher, and Dr. T. Colin Campbell, a researcher and co-author of The China Study. The film’s premise is that most, if not all, of the degenerative diseases that afflict us can be controlled, or even reversed, by rejecting the conventional menu of animal-based and processed foods.

Esselstyn follows in his father’s footsteps by promoting a “plant strong” diet and undertakes his own experiments to develop his E2 diet and subsequently demonstrates its efficacy.  The diet was started after a bet with his fellow firefighter as to who had the lowest cholesterol. When this good-natured competition revealed that one of their fellow firefighters had a cholesterol level over 300 (a suggested healthy cholesterol is under 200 with greater than 240 considered very high), Esselstyn and the Engine 2 crew were inspired to put a diet and exercise plan into action.

Esselstyn wants you to try the diet for at least 28 days and claims it will be effective in lowering total cholesterol and LDL (the bad cholesterol) and in losing weight. You can do this by easing in and eliminating foods one week at a time (e.g., week one no dairy and no processed foods) for four weeks or go straight to the total E2 diet for all four weeks. On a very basic level the E2 diet is basically a vegan, low fat diet (similar to Dr. Dean Ornish) along with exercise.

Since breaking down the four week diet portion of the book only takes four pages, the rest of book is filled basic nutrition knowledge (cholesterol, blood pressure, label reading, Body Mass Index, etc.), disease descriptions, and medical research that supports his plan, some E2 exercises (lunges and side stretches), and a section on myths about food. The last third of the book is recipes, kitchen tips, and promoting weekly planning and all of it is peppered with personal antidotes and stories from disciples of the diet.

I appreciated the plant-centric, low processed food message that Esselstyn promotes and I liked his layman, no fuss language, but sometimes his overly enthusiastic live-the-dream-with-this-diet tone irked me.  As someone who works with patients and clients trying to make lifestyle changes, his all-or-nothing approach seemed hard to swallow, even for only 28 days. I think Dr. Ornish does it better when he offers a spectrum of choices; his latest book, the Spectrum, acknowledges that some shifting towards low fat, plant-based diet is better than nothing. It also bothered me that Esselstyn’s medical research, which was casually discussed in one chapter, wasn’t rigorously referenced.

On a positive note, Esselstyn’s enthusiasm is probably more infectious to those who are not in the field. A reader will feel his love for food and health and his passion to spread his message. I suspect this book would appeal to men especially, with the firefighter angle, and does a good job of simplifying concepts such arterial plaque and insulin resistance. The recipes in the book looked quite good (especially the no-added-fat dressings and sauces) and I especially liked the E2 exercise section. The E2 exercise program could all be done at home or while traveling and had simple directions and photos making it all very do-able.

All in all, the E2 Diet is a good book for the general public to learn about basic nutrition concepts, and wet their appetite for vegan, low processed food. For the main course I would be sure to read the books of Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Dr. T. Colin Campbill and Rip’s father Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, all whom Rip Esselstyn thanks in his acknowledgements.

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A cozy hearty dish which provides 18g of protein per serving (see last blog post on how much protein you need a day) and has a meaty feel because of the bulgur. Double the recipe (that’s what we did here) for a gathering or to freeze for easy lunch/dinners.

Serves: 6
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 onion, chopped
* 2 carrots, peeled, thinly sliced
* 1 red bell pepper, seeded, chopped
* 3 large jalapeño chilies, seeded, minced (about 4 1/2 tablespoons)
* 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes with added puree (ideally with no added salt)
* 3 cups water
* 2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed, drained (or soak dry beans the night before)
* 2 15-ounce cans kidney beans, rinsed, drained (or soak dry beans the night before)
* 1/2 cup bulgur**
* 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
* 5 garlic cloves, minced
* 2 tablespoons chili powder
* 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
* 1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
* 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

* salt to taste (we used “smoked salt”, my new favorite for adding a subtle richness)

** Also called cracked wheat; available at natural foods stores and supermarkets.


1. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat.
2. Add onion, carrots, red bell pepper, and jalapeños and sauté until onion and carrots are almost tender, about 8 minutes

3. Add tomatoes, 3 cups water, beans, bulgur, white wine vinegar, garlic, and spices.

4. Bring to boil.
5. Reduce heat to medium-high and cook, uncovered, until bulgur is tender and mixture thickens, stirring often, about 20 minutes.
6. Ladle chili into bowls and serve. Can add low-fat cheese (cheddar is nice) or low-fat sour cream and/or chopped scallions

I made up a batch of home-made corn bread to serve with it also and if I had been serving this for a smaller affair I would have included a big leafy green salad as well.

Recipe adapted from Epicurious

Click here to download a paper copy, and I always post my downloadable recipes in the resource section too.

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When I decided to become a vegetarian when I was 15 years old, the most common question people would ask me was….how will you get enough protein?

While vegetarians (especially the carb-loving kind) do have to be more aware than their meat-eating counter parts, for the most part, most people in America are getting more than enough protein without even trying.

That said, if you are vegan or vegetarian, an intense athlete, recovering from surgery or at a time in your life (adolescence, pregnancy, older than 65 years old) with increased needs, then you do want to be more mindful that you get your required amount daily. Additionally if you have diabetes or kidney issues you may have to limit your protein- your MD would tell you if this was the case.

Some protein basics…

Protein is needed for growth and repair in the body.  It is the main component of muscles and is used within cells for a variety of functions including structure. These “building blocks” of protein are continuously being made up of “Essential” (which must be consumed from the diet) and “Non-Essential”(your body can produce them) Amino Acids.  When people are concerned about vegheads or vegans not getting enough protein it is because most plant based proteins (soy is an exception) are considered “Incomplete” as they do not contain all of the essential amino acids and a person must eat several “complimentary” proteins together to get a full amino acid set.  A classic example of complimentary proteins are beans and rice and we now know that you don’t even need to eat the “missing” amino acid sources at the same meal to be complimentary as long as you get ingest them within a 24 hour period. If you are vegan you can meet your needs easily by consuming a variety of soy or legumes, whole grains and veggies daily. If you are eating dairy you don’t have to worry about this since dairy is a complete protein. Animal based proteins (meats, poultry, fish, dairy etc) are considered “complete” protein because they contain all of the essential amino acids.

In general you should aim for 10-35% of your total daily calories to come from protein.

General Guidelines for Protein:
For 0- 6 months the recommended intake (DRI) is 9g a day
7months-1 year  DRI is 11g a day
For Pregnancy add + 10-25 more grams to the below depending on your age and health condition.

Again, be aware that some people have protein restrictions and should not adhere to this guideline but rather work with their MD and RD to figure out their needs.

Here are some common protein sources…








Are you surprised?

If you are eating meat at each meal (and most people eat more than 3 oz at a serving) you may be getting TOO much protein!

Try adding up your protein grams one day (using a online food tracker, food labels or the USDA food composition database listed in sources below) and make sure you are on track with your protein intake (too much is not better).

The key here for ALL eaters is variety of copious amounts of vegetables, whole grains, legumes and other lean proteins daily.  We all love a routine but don’t get stuck in a rut and try a new source of protein today or this week!



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