"If it came from a plant, eat it. If it was produced in a plant, don't. - Michael Pollan, Author
Have you watched The Game Changers movie yet? Produced by, among others, James Cameron and Arnold Schwarzenegger, it’s by far the best vegan and plant based documentary that has been released in 2019. I would put it up there with Cowspiracy and Forks Over Knives as must-see documentaries if a vegan or plant based diet interests you or if factory farming alarms you.
The Game Changers: Plant Based is Going Viral
Since The Game Changers movie came out, people have been searching in Google for words like ‘vegan’ and ‘plant based’ more than ever. In the graph below you can see that the search words plant based peaked near the end of October 2019.
The graph shows a percentage so, compared to the peak, there were only 25% searches for plant based before The Game Changers came out. That means that since the movie came out, people have been Googling the words plant based 4x more than before! Comparing to several years before, searches are actually up about 10x. The plant based movement is now experiencing its peak hype, but will it last? I think so. There are two reasons why I believe this sudden surge in trend is a sustainable one.
1 The Word is Out: Protein from Plant Based Sources is Superior
Until now, the general perception of vegans has been: People who are skinny, look underfed and are protein deficient. Even though research has shown that sufficient and high-quality protein can be obtained from a balanced whole food plant based diet and can actually promote health, people are still asking the protein-deficient question. The Game Changers skillfully goes into this query and comes out with a very clear answer. Not only does plant based food contain enough protein and the right proportions of protein, it also contains a higher quality protein than animal-based products.
The world’s strongest man, the world’s fastest man (be it in a car), the world’s best football player, the world’s best tennis player, the world’s more durable athlete.... they all have one thing in common: they eat plant based! Their ability to recover, which is incredibly important when competing at the very best level, is greatly increased on a diet in which protein comes from plant based sources. I think that insight has sent shock waves through the world.
2 It's Actually Tasty?!!
Once people accept that a plant based diet has enough nutrients (like protein), and that it can actually enhance athletic performance, there is another big obstacle to make the leap. Many people seem to think that vegans only eat salads. Quite the contrary is true. I’ve also found that people around me who have given it a shot, have actually enjoyed the great variety of flavors that a plant based meal provides.
In The Game Changers movie there is also a scene in which big, tough American Football players are digging into a colorful, nutritious and tasty plant based barbecue meal. A big eye opener!
Nowadays there are so many options available if you want to eat plant based. You can go the route that is considered more healthy, the so-called whole food plant based route. But you can also go for plant foods like the Beyond Burger or Impossible Foods, which have been gaining a lot of popularity worldwide in 2019, as they are quite similar in flavor compared to meat. Whichever option you choose, rest assured that you will have a lot of variety and a guaranteed flavorful experience!
This article was written by Darren Van Es, founder of GingerKale, a website which helps educate and inspire people about the benefits of a whole food plant based diet. You can also follow Darren on Instagram.
"Cauliflower is nothing more than cabbage with a college education." -Mark Twain
We've had a couple weeks of rather unseasonably warm weather recently, broken up by a day or two of winter re-visited. The warmer, spring-like weather piqued my taste buds for something fresh and light. Fresh and light brings to mind salads for me.
I have long been wanting to create a grain-free tabbouleh, the middle eastern dish of bulgur, tomatoes, cucumbers and parsley among other ingredients. I adore the flavors in it yet avoiding gluten, so the traditional version is not a match for me right now. Enter the versatile cauliflower that is popularly being used in everything from pizza crusts to rice substitute to potato substitute to now bulgur substitute. In many stores it comes already pre-chopped in a bag for convenience. My local Costco has organic chopped cauliflower which made me so happy ( if you can't find it pre-chopped, just pulse it in batches in your food processor or chop it by hand.).It turned out to be a great substitute in my opinion. The dish was so fresh and crunchy and cool, it really hit the spot. Instead of the more typical lemony -olive oil dressing though, I dressed it in a version of my Hummus recipe. I thought the result was beyond delicious. I ate the entire recipe myself in two sittings. Oh, yes, did I mention it stays fresh for 2-3 days in the refrigerator? Make ahead salad for the win! It's a great start to a Meatless Monday, if you want to try it out.
Grain-Free Tabbouleh -Serves 4-6 as a side dish
4 cups finely chopped cauliflower
4 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 cup diced red onion
1 cup chopped Italian parsley, stemmed
1 1/2 cups diced cucumber (I use organic English or hot house cucumbers, skin on)
salt and pepper to taste
1 can chick peas, rinsed and drained
3 Tablespoons Tahini (sesame paste)
1 small clove garlic
1/3 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt or sea salt
1/4 cup water or more to get desired consistency
1 pinch ground cumin, optional
1. Place all of the salad ingredients in a bowl.
2. For Dressing: Place all of hummus ingredients in bowl of food processor with metal blade in place.
3. Process hummus until smooth and creamy. Add in more water to thin to desired consistency.
4. Spoon 2/3 cup, or to taste, of hummus onto salad ingredients. Toss to combine. Use as much or as little hummus as you'd like (leftover hummus will keep, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 4 days- use as a dip for your favorite raw veggies or pita chips or as a spread for a veggie-full sandwich or wrap). Taste for seasoning and adjust accordingly with salt and pepper.
5. Serve immediately, or cover and store in refrigerator until needed. May be kept refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Happy eating! ♥
“Had a cold hummus with pita bread, Under a delicious food, yellow or red. Might just have the appetite to cook- Urgent dinner by hook or crook. So that's just a humus humor spread.” -Ana Claudia Atunes
I wanted to post a cookie recipe, because October is National Cookie Month (happy dance!). However, I have been a little short on time and so I am not quite ready to post my first cookie recipe. So instead, I will appease you with something super healthy and delicious- hummus!
This past Spring I went back to upstate New York where I grew up, and on one occasion my mom, aunt and I went out for a little drink and a snack at a wonderful little wine bar in Delmar, NY called the Twisted Vine. We ordered several things off their appetizer menu, but the one thing that I really loved was their hummus. It came in a cute small crock surrounded by veggies. It was chunky, rustic and lemony. I was determined to come up with something similar. This is the result. Right now my favorite way to eat it is with tiny cooked fingerling potatoes in all colors. But of course, you could just as easily eat it with your favorite crudite veggies or pita chips. It's easy and keeps well for a week in the refrigerator. Of course it's super versatile and can also be made into your favorite flavors-drizzle with extra virgin olive oil(it doesn't have any added in) and some chopped fresh parsley , swirl in a little pesto to taste and sprinkle with toasted pine nuts, fold in in some roasted garlic to taste, or roast and finely dice a red pepper then stir in... whatever suits your taste best! For me I just keep it simple and sprinkle Smoked Paprika on top. Soooo good! Oh and it's so much fresher and vibrant tasting than anything store-bought that probably has preservatives and who knows what else. It's so easy to make, there is no excuse not to.
2- 14.5 ounce cans garbanzo beans (chickpeas), rinsed and drained well
6 Tablespoons Organic Tahini
juice from 2 Lemons (about 4 Tablespoons)
3 cloves garlic
1/3 cup water
1. Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.
2. Pulse to combine until well mixed but rough textured.
3. Scrape into a bowl, sprinkle with smoked Paprika and serve with your favorite dippers.
"If you've ever grown zucchini, you know they all ripen the same day. You wait all of June and July for zucchini. August rolls around, and one day—bam! You have more zucchini than you know what to do with."- Gale Martin
In other words, zucchini, as we all know, is prolific! So what to do with all of that abundance? One can only eat so much zucchini bread, am I right? Well I have a versatile, delicious and much healthier alternative to zucchini bread to share with you. This recipe comes courteous of one of the best cooks I know, my friend Suzi. She was my right hand woman in my previous business venture in meal prep. She has an extraordinary palate and great intuition for cooking. Our joke was "... and it's always the same," but it wasn't because she measures nothing and goes by taste and what she has on hand. It was, however, always delicious.
The first time she gave me a guideline for making it, it didn't turn out like her's. Come to find out she neglected to share her secret ingredient with me. It's canned EL Pato Jalapeno Salsa. I buy it in my local market, but I live in an area with a pretty big Hispanic population. Once she fessed up, then I was able to duplicate pretty much what she did. I have attempted to standardize the recipes so you can get consistent results, but truth be told, it is still more of a blueprint to play around with. You may like more or less heat with the chiles, more or less tomato, no corn, more corn, etc. It is a very flexible and forgiving recipe. I make bunches of it and keep it in the freezer to eat all winter. The texture suffers a bit, but it is still very flavorful, and I enjoy it very much. You can eat it as a delicious side dish to grilled meats, as a vegetarian pasta topping or as a topping on a roasted spaghetti squash. Sometimes I use it as a soup base for a turkey taco soup I like to make. You can even stir in rinsed and drained black beans at the end to make it a vegetarian main course (think meatless Monday).. Any which way you serve it, it will be a wonderful way to take advantage of summer's bounty. Just do yourself a favor and avoid using those tough baseball bat sized summer squashes. Try to choose the smaller ones that are more tender with small seeds. It makes a difference. Recipe doubles beautifully.
Suzi's Stewed Zucchini- serves 6-ish
1 1/4 c. diced onions
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 1/2 pounds zucchini and /or summer squash (I like a mix), sliced lengthwise and then cut into 1/2" half-moons
1/2 cup diced roasted chiles, seeded (I use poblano, but you can use whatever you prefer, fresh roasted or canned)
28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice
1 c. low-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
4 Tablespoons El Pato Jalapeno Salsa, or to taste*
kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper
2/3 cup fresh or frozen, thawed, corn kernals
freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, optional
Freshly chopped Italian Parsley, optional
3 Tablespoons Olive oil
1. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat until hot, but not smoking. Stir in onion and garlic, season with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook stirring often, until wilted and translucent.
2. Stir in squash, season again with a tiny pinch of slat and pepper and saute, stirring often for about 3-5 minutes.
3. Stir in tomatoes, chiles, broth and salsa*. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Partially cover and simmer about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. When squash are still tender, but not deteriorated, after about 30 minutes, stir in corn. Cook for 1-2 minutes longer, until heated through. Taste for seasoning and adjust according to your taste.
5. Serve immediately, topped with grated cheese and sprinkled with fresh parsley.
* If you can't find El Pato Jalapeno Salsa in your area, no worries, you can increase the chiles a bit or add a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce (go easy until you are certain of the intensity) and lastly, right after adding the corn, stir in 1 1/2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar to help elevate all the flavors.
“But, you must remember, whatever you eat, make sure you have at least one bowl of salad with it.” -S.A. Tawks, The Spirit of the Imagination
I don't know if I have mentioned it before, but I am an accidental vegan. It has been less than a year that I undertook a (mostly) vegan lifestyle. I had been living with a chronic, rare and so called auto-immune and incurable skin condition called granuloma annulare for nearly three years. Western medicine was unable to help me. Functional medicine approaches yielded no help, including the Paleo diet which is supposed to be really helpful for so called auto-immune disease). The condition only worsened and became more disfiguring by the month, appearing on most areas of my body including my face. Then this past November a book was released by Hay House called Medical Medium by Anthony William. It changed my life. Embarking immediately on a diet change incorporating as many organic raw fruits and vegetables as possible, the condition stopped spreading. Then in January I did the very strict 28-day cleanse out-lined in the book and I my skin cleared up 100% and has never come back. I have felt so good eating that way (both physically and emotionally, not to mention my hot flashes disappeared) I primarily stick with the diet of only raw fruits and vegetables (I am not 100% perfect 100% of the time, and that is good enough for me). Now my family is not following a vegan eating plan, and that's ok with me, too, so I cook for everyone in my family (exhausting sometimes, I'll admit!) Luckily, there are some recipes the whole family can enjoy, and this is one of them! I have been making this for years and it seems to turn up on our dinner table mostly in the summer. It makes a lot, but it lasts several days stored air-tight in the refrigerator, so great to have on hand. It's a perfect accompaniment to typical summer BBQ fare of grilled chicken and ribs, so it would be perfect for summer entertaining as well. It's crunchy, cool and refreshing, And it's so pretty on the plate! Give it a try, won't you?
Cool and Crunchy Jicama Slaw- serves 8-10
special equipment needed - Mandoline with slicer and julienne blades
1 large Jicama (about 1 1/2 pounds), peeled and julienned
1 cup of julienned radishes
4 cups shredded red cabbage
2 cups julienned carrots (about 3 medium, peeled)
1 cup red onion, halved, and sliced lengthwise
1 yellow or red bell pepper (or half and half), cored, halved cross-wise, seeded and sliced thinly
3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (or Italian parsley, if you are a cilantro hater)
1 tsp kosher or sea salt
1/4 cup freshly squeezed
1/4 cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons honey (you can sub for another sweetener if you are strictly vegan)
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon minced jalapeno, seeded, optional
1/2 cup avocado oil
1. Place all of prepped veggie ingredients in a large bowl.
2. Prepare dressing. Combine all ingredients for dressing except the oil and whisk together. Gradually drizzle in the oil while whisking constantly.
3. Pour about half of the dressing over the ingredients in the bowl (I always like to start with less. You can always add more); toss. Taste and adjust seasoning to your taste.
4. Serve on a bed of baby greens, garnished with a few slices of avocado for a main dish (top with some broccoli sprouts? Yes!), or as is for a great side dish.
Disclaimer: I am not advocating for a vegan lifestyle, just sharing my story. However I will highly recommend the book Medical Medium if you have a chronic mystery illness (RA, fibromyalgia, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, MS, Lyme and more...) and can not get help with your condition. You CAN heal!
"Love is a fruit in season at all times and within the reach of every hand." - Mother Teresa
Back in November I came across a book called Medical Medium, by Anthony William. At the time I had been dealing with a very rare, so-called auto-immune condition called Granuloma Annulare for about 2 1/2 years. In that time I had tried treatments recommended by my dermatologist that only made things worse and left me with unsightly scarring. Dietary changes suggested to me by other practioners also proved fruitless for me for that condition. This book brought me great hope, although it didn't address my condition specifically. I immediately incorporated some of the dietary changes recommended in the book. In January, after the holidays had passed, I started the cleanse. The cleanse is basically a raw, vegan diet , heavy on the fruits, with no fats, including nuts and seeds, allowed for 28 days. I never thought I'd make it 28 days. Every day I told myself just get through today. Then it just got easy to follow, and I ended up doing the cleanse for almost 35 days. The best news of all is that my Granuloma Annulare that had been speading like wildfire, was an angry red color and very itchy, disappeared as did my hot flashes (a bonus). I found it wasn't really all that hard to adhere to the eating plan after the first few days. The food was delicious, life-giving and satisfying. Smoothies like this one became the cornerstone of my eating plan, and I mostly still eat raw vegan because I feel so much healthier and even lighter emotionally.
Chronic illnes or not, this smoothie is simply delicious. My whole family loves them (thank goodness for Costco's organic frozen fruit department)! I have a Vitamix blender, and I still need to let the frozen fruit thaw partially. If you don't have a high speed blender, adapt the recipe to suit the power you have. Anthony WIlliam recommends using all organic produce for best results, but use what your budget allows. The hemp and chia seeds add fiber and bulk to the smoothie as well as protein. THe spirulina will alter the color into a bluish greenish shade, but won't affect the taste. Hawaiian Spirulina is a super food that helps take heavy metals out of the blood stream and also has a small amount of protein.
Green Tropical Smoothie- makes 2
2 cups (slightly heaping) frozen mango chunks
1 cup fresh or frozen pineapple chunks
1/2 cup coconut or filtered water*
1 banana, peeled and chunked
1 cup loosley packed baby spinach (organic)
1 cara cara or other navel orange, peeled
2 Tablespoons organic hemp seeds (optional)
2 teaspoons organic chia seeds (optional)
1 teaspoon Hawaiian Spirulina (optional)
1. In your blender jar, layer coconut water, banana, orange, spinach, hemp, chia and spirulina (if using) and frozen fruits.
2. Blend according to your blenders instructions, until smooth.
3. Pour into glasses and enjoy!
* If using all fresh fruit and you want a slushy consistency to your smoothie, omit coconut water and substitute ice cubes (go into blender last) to get the desired consistency. I'd start with about a cup to start. Here's to your health! ♥