Christmas Tree Salad

I've been writing more in my journal lately than my blog, sorry.  I've got some internal work to do so may go missing more than usual in the next few months.  But I wanted to post this salad I've been eating and really enjoying.  I call it a Christmas Tree salad because it's green with red (pomegranate) berries that remind me of Christmas tree lights.

Ingredients:
1 head romaine lettuce
1/2-1 lb cabbage
1/4 -1/2 lb broccoli
1/4-1/2 lb cauliflower
1 apple
1 asian pear
1 orange
1 Tbsp spicy pecan vinegar
1 Tbsp riesling raisin vinegar
1 small pomegranate or 1/2 large
1/2-1 oz seed mixture

Chop the lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower in the food processor using the S-blade.   Put in a big bowl.  Blend the apple, asian pear, orange, and vinegar in the food processor.  Add to the bowl along with the seed mixture.  Extract the pomegranate seeds and add.  Stir.   I like this a lot.

Well, if you don't hear from me for a while, all you have to remember about healthy eating is this:  GOMBBS

G is for Greens
O  onions
M mushrooms
B beans
B  berries
S  seed mixture

That's what I remember when I'm making soup and veggies for the week.   Happy holidays!

today's salad, this week's food

Today my salad is so good it boggles my mind, because it is simple.   I just chopped a head of romaine lettuce, a half lb of cabbage, some raw cauliflower, added 1/2 cup frozen peas, 1/2 cup frozen edamame, a grapefruit, peeled and chopped (okay, a really good grapefruit from Texas called Rio Star), an ounce of my seed mixture, 2 Tbsp Dr. Fuhrman's D'angou pear vinegar.  Now it's true, the high quality ingredients is what makes this salad delish--the good grapefruit, and the d'angou pear vinegar add a wonderful taste sensation that is not sour.  Wow. This made two giant salads.  I also made a microscopic version for housemate.  I'll have these for dinner?  --in 2 stages for sure.


Next week, first the first 3 days anyway, my micro salads will have lettuce, cabbage, carrots, satsuma (small orange), asian pear (a honey-sweet apple), small pomegranate, flavored vinegar, and seed mixture.  I'm expecting that to be yummy!  My roasted veggies will be broccoli, cauliflower, a little butternut squash, a little beets, onion, with chives, sage and basil ('cause I have some in the freezer from the garden), and I'm still working on the marinate, but probably orange juice and no-salt mustard.  Breakfast will be light before exercise,  a bowl of frozen cherries, blueberries, mangos.  Lunch and dinner will be bean soup, micro-salad, and roasted veggies.  I'll probably eat my lunch bean soup early because I'll be hungry after exercise.  I still have lots of bean soup from two batches in the freezer so don't have to make any this week.  Yum, talk about eating like a king.  I am amazed that I sometimes go off plan to eat junk because I think I'm missing something.  This food is thousands of time better.  I wish I could remember that all the time!

humorous bumps in the road

Here are some funny health-related things that happened to me this week (all my fault!):

1)  I gave myself a treat of meditating in front of my gas fireplace one morning.  I have a routine to help me remember to open and close the flue, which is to open the flue before turning on the fireplace, and then when I'm done I put my yoga block in front of the fireplace to remind us to close the flue after 30 minutes.  That is about the time it takes for the ceramic blocks to cool and to help the remaining unburned warm gas goes up the chimney.  I did my usual routine, or so I thought.  Later on, housemate said, I see you closed the flue even though the yoga block is there.  I said, no I didn't, we need to do that.  She said it's closed, and I didn't do it, did you forget to open it?  I said, no, I distinctly remember opening it.  Come to think of it, I also remember smelling gas when I was done.  So either I distinctly remember wrong about opening it (maybe I remember intending to open it), or instead of opening it, I closed it further.  It was early in the morning and I was groggy.  I find it a little ironic that I managed to give myself CO poisoning while trying to meditate!   Thankfully it was only a 15 minute session.  

2)  I'm still experimenting with my roasted veggie routine--I'll post it when I get it just how I like, probably in another week of experimenting.  So I was at the co-op looking for some root veggies to add to the mix and I saw some Jerusalem artichokes.  Never heard of them.  That never stops me.  When I got home I cut them up, tasted them, yum, they taste good even before cooking!   They have a sweet flavor.  I cooked them up with lots of other veggies, and went and looked them up on wikipedia.  It turns out their starch is called inulin (not insulin) and it is not digestible by humans.  I think it converts to fructose and that's what gives it a sweet flavor.  So maybe the more it converts to fructose, the more digestible it is.  Well, that didn't stop me from eating them at lunch the next day.  Sure enough, I got a tummy ache for a few hours.  Here's the funny thing.  I then ate them again at dinner!  I was hungry and I was at work and this was what I brought to eat.  So I got another tummy ache!   doofus...  Here is what I wonder:  1) why would anyone eat this twice (besides me)?, so therefore 2) why would anyone grow them or sell them?   Maybe over time your body adjusts?  Here is a great quote about them from the English planter John Goodyear in 1621:

which way soever they be dressed and eaten, they stir and cause a filthy loathsome stinking wind within the body, thereby causing the belly to be pained and tormented, and are a meat more fit for swine than men.
haha!

3)  Today I went to my first spinning class ever and it was fun and hard!  This is where everyone rides a stationary bike and the teacher leads you in a ride with "hill" and intervals and resting downhill and stuff.  Very fun.  I walk to the gym and change my clothes when I'm there.  Well, I didn't wear or bring a bra (forgot my exercise bra).  So I thought, okay, I'll wear a t-shirt and my sweatshirt.  I'm just too embarrassed to jiggle in front of everyone, and I would have with all that spinning!   So it was a very hot and sweaty ride.  I'd better go drink some more water.

4)  This week I weighed myself at the gym and found out I weighed 11 lbs more than I thought!  Holy cow, my home scale must be wrong.  Holy cow, this shows how you can fool yourself.  I knew I had gained some weight because I'm wearing larger pant size than I was 6 months ago, but I fooled myself into thinking it wasn't much.  I ordered a new scale for home.  Today I weighed myself at the gym and realized I had made a mistake last time, and I weigh exactly what I previously thought.  Holy cow, I guess you can fool yourself into thinking you weigh too much too!  and that means my home scale is accurate too.  oops.   Ah well, it was good news today.

5) At my meditation class, we usually do a few sessions of meditation and have a little discussion with neighbors in between.  This week's topic was meditating on problems.  One of my neighbors mentioned the concept of inviting your problems to tea, as a start at befriending them.  So I imagined inviting "I hate work" and "I want a cookie" to tea.  (I hope no one from work is reading this!).  I started chuckling as I imagined our tea party.  I also imagined telling "I want a cookie" to take a seat behind "Papers 1, 2, and 3", some tasks I claim I really want to do at work.  Well, maybe you had to be there.  Just try it yourself.

6)  This isn't funny, just happy news.  After 3 or more years of very missed absence, frozen organic sweet cherries showed up at my co-op yesterday!   I bought all 10 bags of them!  I hope more appear.  We used to have them all the time, and then they disappeared.  We've discussed this on the Fuhrman forums and it seems to be a worldwide shortage of organic sweet cherries.  I hope they are back!   I ate a half pound today and they were luscious.

Update to my Previous Post

I got some interesting comments to my last post so I just wanted to respond to them.  Lani had a different view of the Weekend Immersion, so please read her comment if you are interested.  Wendy pointed out a great post from her blog about the chemicals in food designed to make them as stimulating as possible.  I highly recommend reading this and watching the attached video.

Then I also wanted to update you on my roasted veggie experiment.  It turned out great!  For marinate I used juice from 1/2 orange, 1 Tbsp of black fig vinegar, and a squeeze of no-salt mustard--maybe 1-2 Tbsps?  I used onions, broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, sweet potato.  About 1/4 lb each.  Tonight I will use more as I needed more food today.  maybe I'll use 1/3 lb each.  I think I'll cook it for 40 minutes with the foil, and 20 minutes without.  Yesterday I did 30 minutes and 15.  Actually that did turn out pretty good.  Maybe I will do 35 and 15.  I don't want them soggy.  or 30 and 20.  It might take me a few days to get it right.  My seasonings were fresh rosemary and sage.    It was really good!

Princeton Immersion, Thanksgiving, soup, and stuff

I went to Dr. Fuhrman's Princeton Immersion last weekend.  It was a wonderful trip for many reasons!  It was a great road trip with my friend Suz.  We stopped in Pittsburg to see my best pal Gail, sadly, only for a few hours.  I worked with a student for a day at Princeton which was very productive.  We visited with Suz's parents in Philidelphia.  And the immersion was fantastic.  It was jam-packed with lectures. Dr. Fuhrman is so energetic and interesting, you really can listen to him for hours.  Even better was the food.  This is the main reason I go, though I did learn a lot from the lectures.  I thought I knew it all by now, but one thing I get out of the in-person lectures is what Dr. Fuhrman is passionate about, and what is less certain scientifically.  It helps reinforce what the most important things are to keep in mind.  But the food!  It was the best I've ever had at one of these events.  I think that was in large part due to Chef Martin Oswald's contributions.  He owns a nutritarian restaurant in Aspen, Colorado!  (called the Pyramid Bistro).  He gave a talk on the last day and I have been having fun putting his tips into practice!  We got the recipes from the immersion and slides from his talk.  They are worth a lot!

So today I'm back from the holidays and putting some of my new knowledge into action.  My soup today has Indian spices and I cooked up the onion as Chef Martin described:  first you heat up a stainless steel pot until hot, then put the onions and garlic in.  They sizzle up, slightly brown, and then release their juices.  You don't need oil, and they still gain a nice flavor.  Fun, it worked!  I did that with the leeks, celery, collards and kale too.  Then the pot was looking pretty burned and I thought, this will take forever to clean up.  But then I did the mushrooms the same way.  Well, they release so much liquid that it just ended up cleaning up the pot.  When they were done, the pot was clean.  ha!   a nice accidental discovery.  My soup was just my usual pile of things that I found in the co-op or my freezer.  I soaked beans, red himalayan rice, lentils, and purple barley overnight, and started cooking them in the morning.  Then cooked up the onions, garlic, celery, leeks, mushrooms, even the collards and kale, like Chef Martin described.  Added them to the pot one by one.  Oh I cooked up a festival squash in the oven, then added it to the soup after it cooled.  Oh yeah, and while cooking up the onion and other veggies, I added some graram masala and curry powder as they cooked.  Add the end I added some currants and fresh ground ginger.  It made for a nice hearty soup.  I froze most of it in single-serving containers.  yum.  I think I'll have it for breakfast every day.   I'll be doing my food prep at night this week.

My food plans for the week are soup for breakfast, and salad and roasted veggies for lunch and dinner.  The salads will be micro-salads made from lettuce, cabbage, maybe some broccoli and cauliflower, all cut up finely in the food processor; and topped with pomegranate seeds, grapefruit or orange, seed mixture, and flavored vinegar.  I love these.  The name should be changed from micro-salad to high-powered salad because it is so nutrient rich.  Tonight I'll experiment with roasted veggies.  I hope I can get this right.  I'm going to follow Chef Martin's advice to cover with foil at first so they essentially steam cook (before burning on the outside), then take of the foil to roast at the end.  I'll top with fresh herbs.  The veggies available now (that I like) are broccoli, brussels sprouts, carrots, onions, leeks, and sweet potato.  I'll do a little of each.  I am just learning to do this.  It would be nice to do a big batch and eat them for several days but I'm not sure how well they will keep.  I think I'll start off by just trying to do one day at a time and hope it isn't too time consuming.  I will add some flavored vinegar and mustard as marinate.  I got some fresh sage and rosemary at the co-op and have some basil from the garden in my freezer.  I hope this works!

Well, this post is long enough so I won't go into Thanksgiving much except to say I made apple sauce for my "brother-in law."  He had two 18 lb bags of apples!  holy cow, we had all the burners going:


It was fun though.  I nibbled a lot on the apples.  In fact, it was so much fun, we decided to make some for ourselves when we got home.  My batch has no sugar in it.  I'm not sure what I will use it in as I am not a great dessert maker or baker, the usual use of apple sauce.  But, heck, it probably could go in soup.

Here's tonight's quick salad I threw together, which is yummy, as salads always are:

That's got lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, blueberries, banana, small orange, seed mixture, and d'angou pear vinegar.

whew.  time to go fold laundry, then start tomorrow's food prep.  whew!  

Update

Hi everyone,

I just posted two other posts below this one, so feel free to check them out.

How's your Thanksgiving Challenge going?   Mine is going fine.  To be honest, I'm not really doing a Challenge with a deadline, I'm just trying to live my life and enjoy my healthy eating as I go.  I'm concentrating on work right now.   So I'm chugging along with my healthy eating and exercise and work and play.  Note that Dr. Fuhrman is hosting a Holiday Challenge if you want to join that.  It starts on Nov. 21.

Despite my new emphasis on work, I planned several months ago to attend Dr. Fuhrman's Weekend Immersion which is coming up next weekend!  I'm driving out with nutritarian friend Suz.  We leave on Wed.  Should be fun.  Actually I will work with a colleague there on Friday before the immersion starts so I'm looking forward to that.

I've been eating a lot of squash the last few weeks.  Okay, I went a little overboard. I think when I get back from my trip, I will just have one squash a week that I'll dump into my soup after I cook both up during my weekend food prep fests.  But I have two more of these festival squashes which are really good and they are not too big.  I will eat one today, and one on Tuesday.  In fact, I am hungry now so looking forward to digging into part of it at lunch time.  Here's a picture of it, after baking and cooling:


It's so easy to prepare this way:  just throw it in the oven, bake for 1.5 hours at 350 F, let cool, then cut in half, remove the seeds, remove the good stuff and mix it in with your soup our just mash up with some pumpkin pie spice.  It's very moist when you bake it in the skin.  The skin tastes good too.  Lost of people shared their favorite cooking techniques on one of my previous posts here.

Oh, I've also been enjoying pomegranates the last few weeks!  I've had them in my micro salads with an apple too in addition to all the veggies.  That plus a little lime juice adds a great flavor.   This post describes what I've been doing on weekdays mostly.

The Pleasure Trap

I've mentioned in a few past posts, I am a huge fan of Dr. Douglas Lisle, an evolutionary psychologist who helps us "nutritarians" understand why it's so hard to go against the grain.  He follows Dr. McDougall's plan, and works Dr. Alan Goldhammer at the True North Health Center.  These are all very similar to Dr. Fuhrman's plan:  a whole foods, plant based diet with no oils, very limited refined sugars, and very limited salt.   This makes us very different from everyone else!

I had read Dr. Lisle's "The Pleasure Trap" once or twice before, but I finally sat down to watch the DVD over the last few weeks.  It consists of 3 lectures.  They were probably given at one of Dr. McDougall's Advanced Study Weekends, which are awesome (I've never attended but I purchased the online lectures from the last one and they are really interesting).   Anyway, back to the Pleasure Trap, I think the DVD is much better than the book!   Normally I prefer reading books, but I didn't get nearly as much out of the book in this case.  There are three concepts he gets across in the DVD (and book probably) and I only got one of them out of the book (duh).  These concepts are part of his, I think he calls it, the motivational triad, where all animals, including humans:
1. seek pleasure
2.  conserving energy
3. pain avoidance

You can see how each one of these can get us into trouble in today's artificial food world.  

1.  We seek pleasure.  We evolved to get pleasure from sweet and high-caloric foods because it helps us 2, conserve energy.   Of course, now we have an overabundance of highly addictive sweet, high fat, and high salt food.   The Pleasure Trap is a consequence of this.  This is:  if we don't eat these sweet and processed foods, we get plenty of pleasure from fruits and whole foods, and we have our ups and downs and obstacles and just go along and are sometimes happy and sometimes not.   If we start eating highly processed foods and drugs (caffeine, chocolate, sweets, even white bread), we get great stimulation and surges, great pleasure hits.  But here is the kicker:  we get used to it and after a while, the pleasure from eating these things comes more from the cessation of pain when we are withdrawing from them (e.g., before we have our morning coffee).  So after a while, we just have our same ups and downs and aren't getting anymore pleasure than the guy eating fruit and squash and rice and beans.  While it might not be easy, we can break this pleasure trap, and eat the healthy diet and get just as much pleasure.  To help people break the cycle, you can go to these health immersions that Dr. McDougall and Dr. Fuhrman offer, or go fast for a week at True North, then eat their food for a week, and totally reset your taste buds.  

2.  Conserving energy.  It's good to recognize that this is an intuitive motivational drive.  Now we see the problem with fast food drive up windows.  Talk about an easy way to get 1000 calories quickly!  Our ancestors never had it so easy.  This is also why we crave high-calorie foods.  We intuitively seek them out.   The way to address this is to consciously fill up on low-calorie foods.  Fortunately these are usually nutrient-dense, even while being low-calories--things like vegetables of all kinds.  After a period of abstinence you can lose your taste for fat.  I even find sugar is too sweet for me now.  even dates.  I love the sweetness in carrots (but then our local carrots are really good!).  

3.  Pain avoidance.  Oddly enough, you would think this is the least related to food issues, but for me, at the stage I'm at where I like eating this way and knowing how to do it in my sleep, this is the issue I am working on, and it's nice to understand better that it's because I'm a normal human that I struggle with this.  and that is, social pain!  We have a very strong evolutionary motivation to be accepted by our peers and fit in with them.  Our egos are designed to tell us where we stand in the hierarchy and who are friends are (I'm paraphrasing and might not have got this right, but it sounded fascinating!).  For me, going off plan is never about the taste of the food.  I don't like the taste anymore!   But I still do it occasionally, and for the dumbest of reasons--because the person in line in front of me is doing it!   It's about being one of them.  I thought about this at my meditation class last week.  Sometimes I look at unhealthy people and I think, I don't want to be like them, and yet, I do.  So I embraced them in my mind and I said, I am you and you are me and we are all the same (you tend to have these new agey thoughts when you meditate, ha!).  And when I think that way, then I can avoid the food.  I realize, I'm not rejecting them when I reject the food.  And hopefully they aren't rejecting me, which is what really counts from an instinctive perspective.  I think men and women are different on this in some ways in that men are more prone to the hierarchy and have to learn how to do their healthy-eating thing in a non-threatening way to the alpha brother-in-law they are spending the weekend with; and women are more prone to wanting to be accepted and to not offend and we have to learn how to interact in a way that we still feel we are accepted and fitting in.  Dr. Lisle describes different ways to respond to other people depending on their attitude.  I need to stop writing now, so I'll leave that for you to find out when you watch the DVD.