Oil Free Chocolate Hummus

I love chocolate. Rich, dark, creamy decadent chocolate. Guilty as charged. As a whole foods, plant based eater, I still like (and eat) chocolate. I’m human––and I’m guessing you are too. I’ve found a great way to satisfy that chocolate craving with fewer calories as well as adding some nutrient dense goodness.

Have you seen Chocolate Hummus in the grocery store yet? Our Publix sells it for almost $4.00 for an itty-bitty container. I even spotted it this morning at Aldi for $3.49. I picked it up, put my readers on to see the ingredient list and quickly placed it back in the cooler. The ingredients included coconut oil and tahini and I knew those were definite no-no’s. As soon as I got home, I knew I could make my own and now I can share with all of you!

 

Oil Free Chocolate Hummus

  • Servings: varies
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Ingredients:

  • 1 can drained and rinsed chickpeas
  • 1/2 cup pitted dates that have been soaked to soften (reserve the water)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 t. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 T. pure maple syrup
  • Unsweetened, plain almond milk
  • Pinch of kosher salt

Directions:  Add rinsed and drained chickpeas and the drained dates to the bowl of a food processor (reserve the soaking liquid from the dates) and blend until very smooth. You may have to stop and scrape the sides a few times. I added about 4 tablespoons of the date water to the mixture to get it to the right consistency. Next, add the cocoa powder, extract and salt and continue to blend. Add in the almond milk by the tablespoon if you need to. I added 2 tablespoons and then gave it a taste. I wanted mine a little sweeter, so I added just 1 tablespoon of maple syrup and blended again. Transfer to a serving bowl or a container and store in the refrigerator. Makes about a 2 cup serving.

Perfect as a dip for pretzels or fruit. I dipped some strawberries in mine and they were delicious.

 

Strawberries and chocolate are a favorite combination of mine. Back in my (non vegan) days, I was well known as the chocolate covered strawberry lady. I used to make them for parties or as a hostess gift. But, now, I’ll trade the high calorie chocolate for this!

You could spread on graham crackers or even apple slices. It’s a guilt free treat with no oil added and sweetened with just dates (and maple syrup if using). Healthy and nutrient rich and a lot less expensive than store bought.

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Decide to make your own? Tag me in your Instagram picture @heidicooksplants and let me know how you like it.

See you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi

 

 

Why should you go plant based?

Earlier this month, I gave a presentation to a group of men and women at a local senior center. It was my first time speaking to a group such as this and I wasn’t sure what to expect or even how I would be received. The organizer from the Meals on Wheels program told me that they like to have a snack, preferably sweets, and suggested I bring something for them to sample and incorporate that into my talk.

I had about a month’s notice to prepare for the talk which was going to be with “The Lunch Club” at the center. I had my keynote (Power Point) all set up and rehearsed and my speech notes were all ready to go. I wasn’t nervous, well, maybe just a little. Why would they want to listen to a talk about plant based eating?

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Yukon Gold “waffles”-side of chickpeas and roasted asparagus drizzled with balsamic glaze

I started talking, and a few latecomers walked in, and one woman said that I should start over. I had only gone through one slide, so she said..”oh, go ahead and start again”. I though to myself…Hmmm, they’re actually listening––and they’re interested!! In all honestly, I did offer the chocolate chip banana cake FIRST!

My talk progressed, and I had a few questions along the way. And everyone took an interest in what I had to say. We had a really great discussion afterwards. Only one or two people left when I finished talking, but the rest sat around and had another piece or two of cake. These men and women had at least 20 years on me. A few ladies had just come from the chair yoga class. One woman proudly announced that she is in her 70s and she does not take one single pill. She said she only eats organic (but she is not vegan). We had a great discussion on my why.

I am asked almost daily “why” I eat this way––vegan, plant-based, whole food––whatever you want to call it. My simple answer is that my body feels better when I eat this way. After more than 2 years of eating this way it has become my lifestyle. Although my motivation to begin this was purely for my health, I am definitely more conscious of the toll that animal farming is taking on the environment. After watching documentaries such as Food, Inc , Eating You Alive and Forks Over Knives, I believe many of you would think very differently about what you put on your plate.

Just yesterday, the Canadian government issued their 2019 health guidelines. And what do you know….their new food guidelines eliminates dairy as a food group and features fruits and vegetables on half your plate! Water is also encouraged as the beverage of choice and protein includes plant protein choices. I wonder how long until the US catches up??

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“Clean out the fridge” salad–tons of colors and flavor!

In our country, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity are all preventable lifestyle diseases that can be reversed and prevented through a plant based, whole foods diet. The scientific evidence is out there. It’s as simple as changing what’s on the end of your fork. I know that I will continue to choose plants over pills, how about you?

Do you like my food photos? Stay tuned for my next post and I’ll show you how I made those waffle fries and how I cook with no oil.

See you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi

“This post is part of the wellpreneur blog challenge.”

http://learn.wellpreneuronline.com/blog-challenge/

 

Buddha Bowl Basics

Countless variations on the Buddha Bowl can be found on any Pinterest or Google search these days. I’m throwing my recipe in the ring because I think it’s an easy way to get your greens and other essential nutrients into one big bowl of deliciousness.

Some of you may be asking what exactly is a Buddha Bowl? Typically  it’s a big bowl (duh), filled with a variety of greens, grains and beans and topped with a tasty sauce. Almost every vegan cookbook, website and blog has some variation of a bowl.  According to collinsdictionary.com “a buddha bowl is a meal-sized bowl filled with vegetarian food.” That certainly leaves a lot of room for interpretation, wouldn’t you say?  Delish.com says the bowls were named as such because they resemble the belly of a giant buddha.  I find it ironic that it’s named for the buddha’s belly, because eating this bowl shouldn’t make YOUR tummy look anything like a buddha’s! Regardless of its origins, I find that my Buddha bowl makes for a healthy, delicious and nutritious meal.

I’ve been on the “bowl” bandwagon pretty much from the beginning of my plant based journey. Making up bowls is one of the easiest ways to combine all the healthy ingredients that you love into one fabulous dish. And it goes back to my mantra of batch cooking as well. When you have grains and vegetables already prepped in your fridge, then throwing together a bowl is a simple and fast way to get lunch or dinner on the table. It’s also completely customizable –– so you can have an ingredient buffet set up for all of your family and everyone can make their own bowl.

The bowl I’m featuring today came about because I had half  a red cabbage in the fridge and I wasn’t quite sure what else to do with it. I also had some zucchini and squash to use up, so that was going in the bowl too. My recipe can be tweaked with what you like –– but the basic formula is: a grain (could be quinoa, brown rice or whole wheat pasta), several veggies, both raw and cooked, some beans and a sauce. I tend to favor asian flavors, so this peanut sauce is my go-to. If you like Mexican flavors, you could use salsa or hot sauce and add in some avocado and maybe some homemade baked tortilla chips. You could also make a falafel bowl with mediterranean toppings like tahini, sesame seeds and cucumber and tomato. I have never made a bowl that wasn’t great!

Heidi's Buddha Bowl

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients

  • 1/2 head of red cabbage, shredded
  • 1 each, yellow squash and zucchini, cut into zoodle shape or julienned
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can of corn, rinsed and drained
  • 1-2 cups of chopped, cooked broccoli
  • 1 cup of dry quinoa, cooked
  • 1 batch of peanut dressing (see below)

Directions:

Cook the quinoa according to package directions and set aside. Take the raw zoodles and microwave for about 2-3 minutes until tender, and then drain them. Combine all the ingredients in individual bowls and drizzle with the peanut dressing. Note: The serving size will vary with the bowl size used.

Peanut Dressing:

Note: Dressing adapted from The Engine 2 Diet Cookbook

  • 1/4 cup of fresh ground peanut butter
  • 3 T. rice vinegar
  • 2 T. low sodium soy sauce
  • 1-2 T. pure maple syrup
  • 1 large clove of garlic
  • 1/2 to 1 T. sriracha (to your spice level)
  • 2 t. jarred, minced ginger
  • 1/4- 1/2 C. water (depends on how thick or thin you like your dressing)
  • Juice of one lime

Directions:

Blend all the dressing ingredients in a high speed blender. Refrigerate any unused dressing. It will last for about a week.

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I hope you give this recipe a try or maybe you’ll be inspired to create your own. Let me know what you think by leaving me a comment.

See you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi

Make it a Revolution, not a Resolution

The New Year is right around the corner and who hasn’t already thought about those dreaded “resolutions”?  You know, “I’m going to lose 50 pounds” “I’m never eating fried foods” “I’m going to the gym every day” and on and on they go.

Two years ago, what started as a resolution for me became a revolution. A close friend suggested that we sign up for Veganuary.  According to their website, “Veganuary is a charity inspiring people to try vegan for January and throughout the rest of the year.” I signed up and at the same time, I also joined a new group on Facebook called the Engine 2 Seven Day Rescue, which is a plant based lifestyle program. So, between the two groups, I was committing myself to some pretty significant changes.

I had thought I was a pretty healthy eater until I began following these programs. At first, I felt that I was giving up so many of the foods that I enjoyed-and I did struggle initially. They say your tastebuds will change when you give up all the processed foods, and it’s true. Simple, unprocessed foods really do taste better. Fruits and vegetables and whole grains are delicious when they are prepared without oil and extra salt. I’ve learned to cook in a completely new way. I have found friends online and in real life who eat and cook this way and it is exciting to have people to share this with.

So, I’m going to throw a little challenge your way. How about starting with some small changes. And here’s the twist-start now! Don’t wait for January 1-you CAN do this now. When you’re done reading this, go for a walk. If you’re up north where the weather is frigid, walk in place while you’re watching tv. Start with 10 minutes, if you’re not used to exercising. The goal is to just get moving.

Next, I want you to stop using oil. Yes, even olive oil, which is not the health food that it claims to be. The olive itself is healthy, but the oil is stripped of all the nutrients and is a processed food. Did you know that you can sauté pretty much anything with just water or vegetable broth? I am not kidding-give it a try and you will be as surprised as I was the first time. Vegetables like onions just need a tablespoon, and mushrooms give off their own juice, so water isn’t even necessary. Use balsamic vinegar glaze as a salad dressing or just a few squeezes of fresh lemon on your greens. Thin out some hummus with a little water-it makes a great salad dressing too.

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Roasted Brussels sprouts and Sweet Potatoes-NO OIL

Start your week with “Meatless Monday.” Take a look at Pinterest or scroll through my blog to get some ideas. My son is a total carnivore, but I showed him how to make an easy rice and beans dish and now he cooks that on a regular basis. Once you repeat these small changes, they’ll become a habit and you’ll be on your way to better health.

Find foods and flavors that you love and look for recipes that are easy. If it’s simple, you’ll go back to it over and over. I love basil and I found a fabulous oil free basil pesto recipe from Oh She Glows. I make it at least once a week and use it as a vegetable dip, a spread on pita or even thinned out a little to serve over pasta.

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Oil Free Basil Pesto

The Engine 2 group that I mentioned earlier started on Facebook as a support for the Engine 2 Seven Day Rescue book. When I joined the closed facebook group two years ago, I think there were a few hundred members. Today, there are over 31,000 members! Clearly, people are joining this revolution!

If you’re interested in individual help and guidance, I am available for one-on-one consultations. I want this to be YOUR year of revolution, not just a resolution.

See you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi

Air Fryer Vegan Arancini

Yes! I took the plunge and jumped on the air fryer bandwagon. I had been seeing so many posts and photos showing fabulous culinary creations using this device so I just couldn’t pass up a great Black Friday deal last week.

Krups XL air fryer

I got this Krups XL air fryer . I had to try it out the minute it was delivered, so I quickly cut up some potatoes to make French fries and they were absolutely delicious. If you haven’t seen or heard about the air fryer-it’s a magical machine that “fries” food without the use of any oil. For those of us in the plant based world who avoid adding any oil to foods-this is simply wonderful!

Today in the kitchen I am making arancini-which are Italian rice balls. The first time I had ever had Arancini was at Giada DeLaurentis’ restaurant in Las Vegas years ago (before I was vegan-and I ate cheese!!) I can still remember the delicious appetizer we all shared at our table-creamy risotto-like rice and cheese and Italian seasonings all breaded and lightly fried. I decided, hmmm..I can duplicate that, right?

I used my old standby-Aquafaba- to mimic the egg that you would normally use to coat the balls in the breadcrumbs. I also used a coating mixture of cornmeal and ground flaxseed meal which is a super easy way to get those Omega 3s into your plant based diet.

Here is my plant based version of Italian Arancini:

  • 2 C. cooked short grain brown rice-can be made ahead and room temperature
  • 1/2 C. frozen peas, thawed
  • 1/2 C. finely chopped red pepper
  • 1/4 C. finely chopped raw kale or spinach (I used kale)
  • 2 T. walnut parmesan (recipe below)
  • 2-3 T. marinara sauce–plus additional marinara for dipping
  • 1 t. garlic powder
  • 2 t. dried oregano

For the coating:

  • The aquafaba from one can of chickpeas
  • 1/3 C. ground flaxseed meal
  • 1/3 c. finely ground cornmeal
  • 1 T. walnut parmesan
  • 1 t. kosher salt

For the Walnut parmesan–you take 1/2 cup of raw walnuts, 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast and 1/2 teaspoon of salt and pulse in a high speed blender or food processor so that it resembles parmesan cheese.

First, I added all the ingredients (rice through oregano) in a large mixing bowl and stirred to combine everything. I used my hands to mix it really well and then formed balls and placed them on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  In a small bowl combine the flaxseed, cornmeal, parmesan and salt. In a separate bowl, pour in the aquafaba.  Next, take one ball at a time and dip in the aquafaba and then roll in the breading and place back on the parchment until all the balls are coated.  Set your air fryer to 350 degrees and place the balls on the rack in the basket and set the timer for 18 minutes. I turned the balls over at 9 minutes so that they would brown evenly. I ended up with 12 balls and cooked them in two batches of 6 so that the basket wasn’t overcrowded.

Vegan Arancin

These are absolutely delicious served with some marinara on the side. You can certainly tweak the seasonings to your taste. I think the next time, I’ll add some red pepper flakes and maybe a touch more salt, but aside from that, I thought they were a very close replication of the cheesy and fried version I remembered.

Air fryer Arancini
Delicious with a side of Marinara!

 

And now I have these chickpeas leftover from the can I opened to use the aquafaba. Next up in the air fryer…fried chickpeas! Stay tuned for the next post and I’ll show you how I made a crispy, crunchy snack with those leftover chickpeas.

Leave me a comment and let me know if you’ve got an air fryer and what fabulous foods you’ve made with yours. See you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi

 

 

Oil Free, Crispy BBQ Tofu Sticks

You’ve probably heard the phrase FOMO (fear of missing out), but there’s a lesser known acronym out there-FOT (fear of tofu).  Tofu can be a little bit intimidating if you don’t usually cook with it. There are many varieties: soft, silken, firm, extra firm, and it can be packaged in water and refrigerated or it may be in a shelf stable aseptic package. For this recipe, I am using the tofu that is found in the refrigerated section of the grocery store. It comes in a plastic box and the tofu is packed in water. For those of you who have been uncomfortable cooking with or using tofu, this is the recipe for you.

I’m calling this an “entry-level” tofu recipe. You do not need to be an experienced chef to pull this off! This would be great to bring as an appetizer to any holiday gathering you might have.  It’s a healthy alternative to buffalo wings or mozzarella sticks so commonly found on the party table.

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This recipe came together literally in minutes. Six ingredients–(actually five, if you don’t count the seasoning) that’s all! You may even have most of these ingredients in your pantry already. I used a salt free seasoning, but you can certainly change the seasoning to your preference.

You could make your own bbq sauce from scratch-but this Stubbs brand that I use is low in sugar and is perfectly fine in this recipe. I would have liked to have used whole wheat panko-but they are really hard to find, so I amped up the nutrients by adding in some ground flaxseed meal.

Here’s how these little crispy fingers are done:

 

 

Preheat your oven to 375 and line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. On a large plate, mix your panko, yeast, flaxseed and seasonings. Pour the bbq sauce in a small to medium bowl. Open the tofu in the sink so that you can drain the water from the package and pat the block dry with some paper towels. The Earth Fare brand that I used was extra firm and that variety seemed to work really well. Slice your tofu in half so you have two slabs and then slice into even slices. I ended up with 12 finger-like pieces. Next, dip each piece in the bbq sauce and then roll in the panic mixture to coat each side. Repeat until you have them all coated. Bake in the oven for 40 minutes-turning each piece at the half way mark.

 

 

 

So, while your tofu is baking away in the oven, here’s the nutrition run down. Tofu is a good source of protein and contains all nine essential amino acids. It is also an excellent source of iron and calcium and the minerals manganese, selenium and phosphorous. In addition, tofu is a good source of magnesium, copper, zinc and vitamin B1. A 3 1/2 ounce serving is only 70 calories, which makes it a highly nutrient-dense food. And remember, we are making these crunchy snacks without any added oil.

Wow! These just came out of the oven and I wish you could taste them right now. Crispy and crunchy and that 21 Salute Seasoning has a little bit of a kick! And you know when you cook with tofu-it’s all about making sure the tofu is well seasoned. This spice did not disappoint. I could also see using a smoked paprika and some chili flakes instead of the blend I used. I’m going to serve mine with some extra bbq sauce on the side.

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So, don’t fear the tofu. Give these a try and bring them to your next party.  Let’s see how long they last on the buffet. I think they’d also make a great dinner with some steamed broccoli and some brown rice or noodles on the side. Leave a comment and let me know how you liked them.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone and I’ll see you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi

Living in a (non)plant based world

Ahhh…imagine walking into any restaurant and seeing so many choices that you couldn’t possibly make up your mind. The appetizer section has whole wheat crostini topped with a dairy free pesto and brown rice paper spring rolls filled with just veggies. For the entrees there’s bbq tempeh and seitan piccata, or your choice of stir fry with tofu. The dessert list has sorbet and fresh fruit and not a single buttercream topped cupcake or death by chocolate brownie sundae. Have you seen this place? Yeah, neither have I. This is the restaurant in my dreams! But, the tide is turning.

Last week, I was a guest at the Empty Bowls at Lakewood Ranch- a fundraising event to benefit Meals on Wheels Plus of Manatee County. It was billed as the “longest lunch table” It’s mission is to unite one table to envision hunger relief together in Manatee County.  When attendees arrived  at the event (for a $30 ticket), they were given an envelope with several tickets and 3 small tasting cups. The first ticket was to pick out their bowl. Beneath a massive tent were hundreds of hand painted ceramic bowls that volunteers and board members created for the event. After choosing the bowl, you then moved on to a long table filled with soup pots from more than a dozen local restaurants. You were able to sample 3 soups with your mini cup and when you decided on your “bowl”, you turned in your ticket for your soup. In addition, there were bread slices and water to compliment the soup as well as some dessert options. Once you had your soup, it was time to join a large community table and enjoy!

This was my first time attending an event like this and I was very impressed. Initially, I was worried that there wouldn’t be any soup for me. ( I could hear the soup Nazi in my head saying “No Soup for YOU”). But, I was pleasantly surprised that I had 3 really great options in that pool of restaurants. I spoke to the man from Spacco Italian Grill who was serving Pasta Faglioli-which he promised me had no meat and no dairy and was cooked in vegetable broth. It was delicious and he also assured me that when I come to his restaurant, there are vegan options on his menu. There were two other vendors who provided plant based soup choice. There was a roasted garlic bisque from Ortygia and a healing vegetable soup from Jubilee Organics. The Pasta Faglioli was definitely my favorite!

And all of this gives me a positive feeling that restaurants are starting to take notice and offering healthier options for their guests. There is definitely a need for more fully plant based restaurants.  Let’s hope that this trend continues. If you’ve had a positive experience at a restaurant, let them know they are doing a great job. When I have a great meal and the staff is accommodating to my needs, I tell them. Let’s keep this going and hopefully someday we will see plant based foods as mainstream menu items.

See you in the kitchen (or restaurant) soon,

Heidi

Best Crunchy Oil Free Granola You Will Ever Eat—-Vegan

Crunchy. Oil Free. Dairy Free. Sweetened with just date paste—no other sugars.  You just found the best granola recipe ever with no added calories from oil.  The secret (magic) ingredient is aquafaba, which is the liquid that’s in a can of garbanzo beans (chickpeas). Yep, you read that right-chickpea juice.

I’ve seen a few recipes online that use aquafaba in baking. I made a vegan challah last year by whipping the aquafaba to replace the eggs and I also tried another oil free granola recipe that replaced the coconut oil with aquafaba. It really does work as a great substitute for oil or eggs, depending on how it’s used.

 

 

Last week, I came across a recipe from The Lazy Cat Kitchen and I tried her method, which seemed to be the easiest one I have come across. Today, I tweaked her recipe to make an oil free and nut free version of granola. So many people these days have nut allergies, so I wanted to try a nut-free version of this typically nut laden snack.

Trail Mix Granola is the best of all worlds, in my opinion. You have the sweet and salty and crunchy too. I blended old fashioned oats and buckwheat groats and mixed in raw peanuts, sunflower and pumpkin seeds and a heavy dose of cinnamon. After the granola cooled I stirred in some raisins and some dairy free chocolate chips. Unbelievably good!

Crunchy Oil Free Granola

  • Servings: 6
  • Print

Heres the recipe:

Preheat the oven to 325 and cover a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine oats thru salt and mix well. In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, combine the date paste, peanut butter, aquafaba and extract. Whisk to mix well. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and make sure it is well coated. Spread the mix onto the sheet pan and flatten into a single layer. Bake for a total of 30-35 minutes–but at 15 minutes, turn the pan around in the oven so that it cooks evenly. It’s done when it looks brown all over. Remove the pan from the oven and let cool-without stirring so that the granola clumps up. When the granola is cool, mix in the raisins and chocolate chips and try not to eat the whole pan at once!

 

 

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This will be your new favorite too!

I think this is my new favorite granola!  It’s got the crunch-it’s got the sweet and salty. The only thing that’s missing is the oil and calories, and who needs that? Hope you give it a try and love it as much as I do! Leave me a comment and let me know.

See you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi

 

Intermittent Fasting

Have you heard of this? I was waiting for Barre class to start this morning, and I overheard two women discussing intermittent fasting and one of the women explained that’s why she looked like she had lost some weight. I apologized to them for eavesdropping, but I was curious and wanted to know more. Just last week, I had a been asked by a friend if I knew anything about intermittent fasting.

I recently completed my training and certification in Nutrition and Wellness Counseling, and I learned the nutrition basics and all about how our digestion system works and the mechanics of our body’s processing of carbohydrates into energy. My textbooks did not address intermittent fasting, so I turned to the world wide web to learn more.

Apparently, Intermittent Fasting (IF) is a new-ish thing that is becoming more popular and has, of course, spawned diet plans and books with detailed instructions. The basic premise is that by putting your body in a state of “fasting”, you allow your fat cells to release their stored sugar to use for energy. The way IF works is that it allows the insulin levels to go down far enough and for long enough that we burn off our fat.

The evidence is varied regarding how many hours you need to fast. Most experts agree that anything less that 13 hours is ineffective. Some fasting plans say you need a ratio of 16:8–meaning you must fast for 16 hours and can only eat during an 8 hour window. That seems quite restrictive, and it should be noted that during that 8 hours, you have to make sure you are fueling your body with whole foods–fruits, vegetables, unrefined grains (brown rice, whole wheat breads) and that you are not exceeding a reasonable caloric limit. In other words, if you consume 4,000 calories in 8 hours, you most likely won’t lose weight (unless you’re a high performance athlete).

Several other questions come to mind with such a plan. Can you have anything to drink during the fasting hours? One study that I read stated that as long as the beverage is under 50 calories, then it’s ok. So, if you add a splash of milk to your morning coffee, it shouldn’t “break” the fasting state. I then came across this YouTube video that discusses acceptable beverages that you can drink during your fast, and according to this video, milk is NOT allowed. And if you are a morning exerciser-it’s recommended to do your workout just before you are scheduled to eat.

And now back to the woman at Barre class today. The “faster” that I spoke with said she has been working up to a longer fast-16 hours and that she can’t say that she has lost any weight, but she (and her friends) have commented that she looks more toned and fit. She did admit to me that she actually “cheats” her fast by drinking an airborne drink, which she says gives her some energy. After hearing that, I can’t say I’m exactly sold on the whole IF phenomenon.

After reading a few studies on IF, I’m not sure if it is the right choice for me. My goal is to not eat after dinner, which enables me to have (most days) a12 hour fast.  I agree that there can be some benefits of keeping your insulin levels low throughout the day by not snacking between meals. Of course, none of this should be done without first consulting your doctor; especially if you have any medical conditions or take any medications.

The truth is that striving to eat a balanced diet-full of fruits, vegetables and whole unprocessed foods should be the standard for all of us. In the long run, it’s important to find what works for you but keep in mind that you should eat in a way that is sustainable in the long run. There’s no such thing as a quick fix when it comes to your health and well being.

See you in the produce aisle!

Heidi

Brunch with my tribe

Spending a few hours and a meal with a room full of plant based eaters doesn’t happen very often for me. Yes, I did spend a three day weekend in August at Plant Stock and that was amazing! But, here, in my everyday life in beautiful Florida, I am seldom surrounded by my plant based tribe.

Today, my husband and I attended a Vegan and Oil-Free Buffet with friends who happen to be vegan also. (Disclaimer, my husband is a flexitarian who also enjoys many plant based meals).  The event was hosted by The Food Pharmacy. I didn’t know much about the Food Pharmacy until very recently when a friend had mentioned it to me. In a nutshell, the Food Pharmacy is just that. Their mission is show people that eating and preparing plant based foods is a better option than medications to treat disease. I was lucky enough to speak to one of the Food Pharmacy’s owners, Evelisse Capo. She and her partner, Elisa Burgos, addressed the group at the restaurant today and explained the importance of a plant based lifestyle.

By a show of hands, perhaps more than half of the attendees were fully plant based or vegan, some new to this way of eating, and some partially vegan. Evelisse explained “why” oil free is so important. Vegetable oils are stripped of all nutrients. It is a processed food that has no place in a whole food, plant based diet. For years, we’ve always been told that olive oil is a healthy fat. It simply is not true. Look at the following picture below that shows the calorie density of 500 calories.

Image 10-7-18 at 3.55 PM

Brunch today was held at The Curry Station restaurant in Sarasota. The chef/owner, Chef Narendra, prepared an entire Indian Buffet cooked without any oil. Everything was plant based, whole food and the most delicious Indian food I have every had. The buffet had chickpea curry, whole wheat roti, several rice options, and an eggplant dish, just to name a few.  He explained to us that he always has oil free options on his menu and emphasized that this was not just a special meal for our group today. I was so thrilled to hear that and I know that we will definitely frequent his restaurant.

This was a very well attended event. It was so exciting to be in a restaurant full of people who eat like you do and to hear why many of them eat this way. Evelisse told us that she is a Doctor of Pharmacy, but she left the practice of pharmacy to start the Food Pharmacy and that her entire family is plant based. I also heard a few other people comment that they eat this way because they want to prevent or reverse a chronic disease, like heart disease or diabetes. I also got into a discussion with two people at the buffet about how the meat industry is destroying our environment.  We all spent a few minutes sharing our thoughts on our favorite documentaries: Forks Over Knives, What the Health, Eating you Alive. (I loved all of them-I couldn’t say which was my favorite) Whatever the reason, this event brought so many like minded people together, but it’s just a start.

We need more restaurants to get on board and offer something more than a salad for its customers who do not eat animal products. Chef Narendra showed us all how delicious and healthy this way of eating is. I am ready to spread the word in my community. How about you?

See you in the kitchen soon,

Heidi