Out of Town/holiday meals

I'm heading up to visit family for the next few days. We will be taking care of a sick relative so it won't be very celebratory. I'll bring my own food. It will be simple stuff. I already had my holiday treats ("healthy" though rich) and really don't want anymore.

I made a big pot of beans, cooked up a bunch of veggies from the fridge (brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower), cut up some carrots & celery and bell peppers; and have bags of lettuce chopped bok choy. I'll pack the beans & veggies & some seeds into individual plastic containers for two meals a day. I'll pour the veggies & beans & seeds over the raw greens (lettuce & bok choy). I'll bring a pomegranate for the 3rd meal. The raw veggies (carrots, celery, bell peppers) will be for sides or if I'm hungry.

Happy Thanksgiving!

My new staples

Before I learned to eat healthy, my breakfast and lunch were actually pretty boring--the same thing every day: cereal for brekky, sandwich for lunch. Dinner was kind of boring too, some meat, some veggies, some pasta or potato. I have so much more variety now. But I'm starting to find some staples that are repeatable, with variation, every day. Maybe it's boring but it also saves time and energy and I like them. These staples are:

beans, greens and/or veggies, seeds. These beans, and these beans are good, because they have carrot or other veggie juice in them and that makes them sweet and flavorful. So they end up flavoring the other stuff too. Greens can be raw lettuce or other greens, bok choy (raw or cooked) or cooked greens (kale, collards, mustard, etc.). Veggies can be almost anything: chopped celery, cook brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, etc. Then ground flax or hemp seeds to make it creamy, or unground sunflower or pumpkin seeds for crunchiness. You can make something different every day with this combination.

salad: greens, seasonal fruit, seasonal raw veggies, edamame, sweet pea dressing or some other favorite. See the dressings label for a bunch of them. I usually develop a seasonal favorite salad that I repeat for a few weeks because I just like it.

fruit: whatever's in season, or frozen berries in the dead of winter. Right now it's pomegranates.

These three staples make up my three meals a day usually. At least that's been my habit the last few weeks. Lately the biggest meal, beans & veggies, has been my late brekky. Then a salad at dinner. Fruit in between. But sometimes the fruit meal will switch with brekky or dinner, depending on my schedule.

pumpkin pie pudding

It tastes just like pumpkin pie. So much so that it's almost too rich for me. But good for a treat.

Ingredients:
1 small pumpkin or one can of pumpkin
1/2 cup raw almonds, soaked
4-6 dates
pumpkin pie spice (cinnamon, nutmet, ginger, clove)

To cook the pumpkin (if not using canned), cut it in half, scrape the seeds and stringy stuff out, put upside down in a pan with about 1/2 inch water, cook for an hour at 375 or so.
Soaking or boiling the almonds briefly (blanching) makes their skins come off easily and they taste sweeter without the skins.
Remove the pits from the dates.
Blend everything in a blender.

What I've been cooking

I've been too busy to blog lately, sorry. I've been eating my usual meals, but I've also had a lot of opportunities lately to make "healthy" treats for various social events. I made up a pumpkin cream pie last Friday. Well, actually I just combined two different recipes, one for pumpkin pudding (from the Fuhrman recipe site), and a pie crust from a fruit tart recipe. The pie crust was a treat in itself, made with dates, nuts and ground oats. It was so sweet and delicious (and I couldn't stop eating it while preparing!). But the problem was it overwhelmed the more subtle pumpkin pudding, made from pumpkin, bananas, a peach, some almonds and some dates (and of course pumpkin pie spice). So I didn't post it because I didn't really consider it a success. My very polite guests said it was good but they were mostly enjoying the crust.

A few days ago, I made my own version of pumpkin pie pudding that did taste just like pumpkin pie. I love pumpkin pie, or so I thought. It's almost too rich and sweet for me now. I'm beginning to realize that pies are loaded with sweets and fats (duh), and if you make a "healthy" version, it's also probably loaded with sweets and fats, that is, if you are trying to make it taste like the version you remember. Pumpkins are kind of dull on their own, which is why you add all that sugar and fat to it. An easier way to get my Fall pumpkin pie spice flavor is to just make my mashed sweet potato with pumpkin pie spice.

Today I made a few things for a reception: an almond chocolate dip (for dipping strawberries, bananas, apples, carrots and celeries into), and a sweet potato apple bake. Here's a picture of the latter:















Both are from the Fuhrman recipe site. The almond chocolate dip has almonds, dates, vanilla, and cocoa powder. It is very rich. I tried not to eat too much because chocolate makes me jumpy. But it was hard to resist nibbling so I got jumpy, which is why I'm still awake at this time. It is very rich, and I feel full. I think my favorite treat of the whole week was the sweet potato apple bake. That just has sweet potatoes, apples, cranberries, raisins and orange juice baked in the oven. Simple, not too sweet, in fact, kind of tart with the cranberries, and not loaded with fat. Though I bet it would have tasted good with a few chopped walnuts. Someone else (Laurie) recommended cinnamon. That would have been good. I would definitely make this one again. All the other treats were too rich. I'm kind of surprised to hear myself say that!

This weekend I'll be away helping out with a sick relative so I'll just bring my own food from my staples list.

beet sauce for veggies

Ingredients:
1 large beet or 2 medium
1/2 leek or onion

Steam the beet and leek/onion in a pressure cooker (for 2 minutes) or on a stovetop pan for 20 minutes. Note: steam with your other veggies if you are cooking them too. Blend the beet, leek/onion, liquid from steaming, and vinegar in a blender. It makes a very pretty red sauce! And it's good too.

Nov. 18 & 19

This has been a busy week.

Yesterday for brekky I had a really good meal: steamed cabbage and brussels sprouts topped with lots of beans, some ground flax seeds, a few currants, and topped with sunflower and pumpkin seeds. I ate this after yoga (10:20 am).

Then I had a pomegranate during a lunchtime talk. This was a great way to sit through a talk (that I don't have to pay a lot of attention to).

Then I had a salad during a meeting at about 5:30 pm. I don't like eating during meetings that involve work on my part. But I didn't have much choice as I didn't have time to eat before the meeting.

Today for a very late brekky (11:30 am) I had beans over chopped salad, and then a pomegranate.

Dinner at 5 pm (before a 5:30 meeting, this time I did have time to eat but was perhaps a little rushed) was lots of steamed cabbage and brussels sprouts (steamed in the pressure cooker for 2 minutes) topped with beet sauce. yummy. and some raw carrots and cabbage. Then at 7 pm (after the meeting) I had an orange, an apple, and a few pecans (0.5 oz probably).

Nov. 17

I was out most of the day today, so brought brunch with me, and then ate an early dinner at home which was too rushed. It's hard to eat a salad fast.

Brunch was beans over steamed greens & leek with ground flax and hemp seeds, and sunflower seeds sprinkled on top (1 Tbsp each). This batch of beans is really good. I had a little leftover orange juice yesterday so threw that in the beans and it added a nice flavor! I steamed the veggies real quick in the pressure cooker this morning before leaving. Then heated it all up in the microwave later on. Let's see, I also had my daily pomegranate (sooo goood, and it takes about 30 minutes to eat it), and some carrots and kohlrabi. These 3 kohlrabis I got from the co-op are the best I've ever tasted, sweeter than the ones from my garden. Oh, I also had a little glass of blended blueberries/orange that I made last night and wasn't hungry for. I really wasn't hungry for it now either but I ate it.

Dinner was a salad, and an apple. Oh, in the salad I ate pineapple instead of apple because I stopped at the co-op and bought some fresh pineapple. That's hard for me to resist. And I had a carrot. I didn't like feeling rushed while eating. I think I overate a bit. I didn't need the apple after the salad.

Nov. 16

Today was a good day. To curb overeating I decided I can only eat at the table, not while preparing. That works really well when you follow it! I also tried out a different brekky, which I really liked. Here's the picture of brekky:












Brekky: beans on chopped lettuce, topped with 1 Tbsp ground flaxseed, 1 Tbsp ground hemp seed, and 1 Tbsp sunflower seeds--everything I want after a long night of fasting and an exercise class! I also prepared carrot and kohlrabi sticks but didn't feel like eating them all so saved the rest for lunch. That's what happens when you eat at the table. At some point you get tired of eating and want to do other things. And you notice more when you are full.

Lunch: I fixed house-mate and collaborator beans on veggies, topped with chopped hazelnuts. I ate a pomegranate. And it tasted great again (it didn't taste as good after the cupcakes from a few days ago). It's back to being orgasmic. I prefer it this way. I also finished off the carrots and kohrabi sticks.

Dinner: my favorite salad, and a small orange. I also prepared food for tomorrow and only snacked the tiniest bit---licking the drippings from the vita-mix container for example, and a couple of apple nibbles, a bite or two from a carrot. I was good though.

juicing for beans

Dr. Fuhrman recommends for optimum health to have a serving of vegetable juice or blended salads (green smoothies) a few times a week. My smoothies have spinach or salad mix in them so count in this category. However, I go in and out of the mood for smoothies. I think they are too concentrated and sweet, and I prefer chewing and eating more slowly. But you don't absorb as much nutrients from chewed salad as blended. I don't want to make smoothies next week, so should I juice? Well, I don't really like vegetable juice. So here's what I did. I juiced a ton of stuff yesterday. And decided it will be broth for beans. Here's what I combined:

5 lbs carrots
tons of collard greens from the garden (5 lbs?)
a bunch of parsley (from the garden)
a bunch of celery
some ginger
4 garlic cloves
2 lemons
2 small apples (what the heck)

I divided this into about 10 8-oz bell jars and put them in the freezer. I'll use them for broth for beans and soups.

I know you are suppose to drink juice raw but I just don't like it. It will still be nutritious cooked, I hope. Plus, it was a great way to use up lots of collards from the garden. Soon they will stop growing and the season will be over, but I have had an endless supply for about 4 months!

chocolate

As I said in my other posts, I made "healthy" chocolate cupcakes yesterday. I snacked while eating them, also sipped a little on housemate's chocolate cherry smoothie (maybe 2 oz worth?), and then ate 2 cupcakes. Well, that had me buzzing the rest of the day and night. I didn't sleep as well as usual, and I've been groggier than usual today. Yesterday's pomegranate didn't taste heavenly, like usual. And even today, my pom tasted better but it wasn't orgasmic, like they were last week. I want to get back to where my poms are orgasmic. I don't know if it was just the cocoa powder or the combination of that and the dates, but I feel that this is too much like a drug and I don't like drugs anymore. I'm not saying I won't eat chocolate cupcakes anymore, just that I think I'll be less likely to choose them. I have 4 in my freezer and 3 in my fridge and I don't even want them. Pretty weird huh? Fortunately housemate will be happy to eat them. It was fun making them and splurging on them; and I like knowing that if I do get the urge for cupcakes, this is a much healthier alternative than the bakery or co-op down the street.

Chocolate cherry smoothie

I can't eat much of this because the chocolate is too druglike for me, but I can make it for someone else and lick the container (using the spatula as a proxy).

Ingredients:
1 bag frozen sweet cherries
1-2 medjool dates (remove pits)
1 Tbsp cocoa powder (more if you prefer)
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup raw cashews
1 cup (?) water

Combine 1/2 cup water and everything but the cherries, blend until smooth. Add the cherries, and water as needed to desired amount and consistency, blend until smooth. This is a very sweet treat, but tasty. Good for guests and other people who can handle sweets (not me).

another chickpea hummus recipe

I don't think there is anything better than blackbean hummus, but this is a good chickpea version.

Ingredients:
1 cups dried chickpeas, soak overnight, or 1 can
1-2 cloves garlic, depending on your tastes
1 oz macadamia nuts and 1 oz sesame seeds, or 2 oz sesame seeds
juice of one small or medium lemon
1 tsp cumin
paprika
herbs to taste, e.g., basil, cilantro, parsley, dried or fresh (optional)

Cook the chickpeas if dried. Cook them in veggie stock and garlic to add flavor, if desired. (save the bean juice for "bean tea," i.e., something to drink later on).

Combine some of the bean water, lemon juice, and nuts and seeds in the blender, blend until smooth. Let it blend for a long enough time to get those sesame seeds all ground up. Add the garlic, cumin, and beans and blend until smooth, adding enough bean water for desired consistency. Add the herbs and pulse until they are well-mixed but not too finely blended. Put in a bowl, and add the paprika on top to make it look pretty.

I like the macadamia nuts because they add some richness and creaminess, to make up for the olive oil which we don't add/

Nov. 13-15

I've been eating pretty healthy but too much of it at one time. Still working on that overeating thing. Let's see... oh yeah, I made a great hummus on Friday. Brekky was smoothy and some hummus and cooked veggies (broccoli, carrots, rutabaga, cauliflower); that kind of merged into lunch while preparing it. I had this for dinner too, along with a pomegranate and too many nuts (brazil, pistachio), and orange, and probably more, an apple? This doesn't seem like so much but I really ate too much of all of it at all meals, and then overate the nuts at dinner.

Yesterday, I snacked while making smoothies for housemate, mostly on grapes. I made her a really good cherry chocolate shake for brekky. I decided I don't want smoothies next week. I think want beans and greens for brekky next week. Then I made "healthy" cupcakes. I snacked on those while making them (mostly on the frosting, yum). Then I had 2 of them in the afternoon. I might post about this separately. I don't like how the chocolate and/or sweetness affected me through today. I followed that with a pomegranate which didn't taste nearly as good as usual. Shows what sweets do for your taste buds. I had some veggies and hummus and an apple and orange. I didn't get too full but still probably overate.

Today I had a pomegranate for late brekky, hummus and veggies for lunch (ate too much as usual). I don't know what dinner will be, maybe I'll splurge on another pomegranate, for fun. I don't think I'll be very hungry after the hummus.

Chocolate Cupcakes!

I am normally a lousy baker. Yet today, not only did I bake something good, but I invented the recipe, and it worked the first time! That's just not how the world is supposed to work. I used some Fuhrman recipes as ideas, but those recipes are more complicated and make larger batches than I want. I didn't write down what I did so exact measurements are uncertain. When I make these again, I'll update the recipe. Here's a picture, showing a 1-cup measuring cup for scale. These are small cupcakes, which is good!


















Ingredients for the cake batter:
1 large carrot, peeled and cut into big pieces
1 medium beet, peeled and cut into big pieces
~7 medjool dates (remove pits) (I don't recall exactly how many I used)
1 cup regular oats or oat flour (maybe only 3/4 cup if flour?)
1/2 cup frozen sweet cherries
3-4 Tbsp Dr. Fuhrman's cocoa (I don't recall exactly how many I used)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup raw cashews
1/3 cup chopped walnuts

Ingredients for frosting:
1/3 cup raw cashews (don't recall exactly)
2/3 cup raw macadamia nuts (don't recall exactly)
~7 medjool dates (don't recall exactly)
1/2-1 cup water
1 Tbsp shredded coconut (unsweetened) (or was it 2 Tbsp?)
3 Tbsp cocoa powder (don't recall exactly)
1/2 tsp vanilla

Okay, here's what I did. I recently got a vita-mix 5200 delux blender which I love. It has a dry-blade container. I used that to turn the oats into flour. You can just use oat flour or any other flour you prefer. I'm not sure what 1 cup of oats converts to in flour--it might be 3/4 cup. It doesn't really matter because you'll just add enough water to get the appropriate batter thickness.

Now blend the carrot, beet, dates, cherries, chocolate, cashews, vanilla, and ~1/2 cup water until smooth. Taste it for sweetness. If it needs more, now is the time to add more dates so you can blend them until smooth. Add the flour, baking soda and powder; blend some more (doesn't take much) and add water as needed to get a normal cupcake batter consistency (sorry if you don't know what that is. it's kind of thick but not too thick). If it needs more chocolate flavor, add more cocoa. Add the walnuts and pulse until they are just mixed, not pulverized.

Pour the batter into cupcake wrappers in a cupcake pan. This fit perfectly into a 12-cupcake pan (I can't believe how perfectly this experiment went). Bake at 350 F for 30 minutes. Turn off the oven. I let it sit in the oven for another 30 minutes because I really had no idea if it was done. So maybe it could be baked for 40 minutes, and then taken out to cool. What I did worked perfectly (somehow).

To make the frosting, combine the ingredients in the blender and blend until very smooth--just keep that blender going--it will even get warm. You can start with fewer dates and cocoa and add to taste. Start with less water and add as needed for the right consistency. I refrigerated this to let it cool (and thicken some more).

I went off to yoga class while the cupcakes and frosting cooled. When I got home there was one missing. Housemate is usually more disciplined than me so I thought that was hilarious--she didn't even wait for the frosting. I frosted them and I ate 2 and housemate had her second. Housemate really liked them. This is impressive because she normally prefers m&ms and chocolate bars, the really sweet stuff.

I have to say though, I do not think this is very healthy, and it should be reserved for special treats. Dr. Fuhrman says that when you grind up whole grains into flour, it becomes a processed food. It has a higher glycemic index and gets absorbed more readily, affecting your blood sugar. I got a buzz from the chocolate and concentrated sweet (and probably the flour too). Even though the dates aren't refined sugar, they still affect you when you eat a bunch of them. I snacked while preparing it (especially on the frosting! gotta clean out that blender container!), and then had 2 of the cupcakes. They are small but still had a big effect on me. When you get a buzz from eating something, it's acting like a drug. I still feel the effects. I wonder how I'll feel tomorrow. I gave 4 cupcakes to housemate, and froze mine. I may have to donate mine to housemate out of fear that I will misbehave.

Even though this should only be eaten on special occasions, it's good to know I have a recipe I can turn to if I crave a cupcake. And it smelled good. I think the best thing about baked goods is the smell.

Nov. 12

brekky: smoothie; beans & brussels sprouts

lunch: was fixing housemate and collaborator lunch, ended up nibbling on their food, plus an apple even though I wasn't hungry, so I should have not done that. I probably ended up have a bowl's worth of food--it was a medley of vegetables (potato, corn, peas, carrots, green beans, beans, edamame, ground macadamia nuts).

dinner: delicious pomegranate. snacked while preparing cabbage salad. then ate a bowl or two of that and a bowl of beans. I believe I overate. Boy is that cabbage salad ever good. wowsa. I added currants and updated the recipe because I think this is a good addition.

greens, beans, and beet sauce

Ingredients:
a bunch of collard greens and/or kale or other leafy green vegetable
1-2 cups beans
1 medium to large beet
2 Tbsp sesame seeds
1/2 leek or onion

chop and steam the greens. I cook for 3 minutes in the pressure cooker, or 20 minutes on the stove (30 minutes for collards). Chop and steam the beet, and leek/onion. Combine the beet, leek/onion, seeds and vinegar in the food processor and blend until smooth. Combine everything in a big bowl. Yum. This was really good with red beans cooked in carrot juice. But it's probably good with these beans too.

Nov. 10 & 11

These were good days. Let's see, yesterday I was gone from 8 am until 11 pm so brought my brekky and dinner with me. Brekky was smoothie, beans, and carrots. Actually that was lunch. I had a long yoga class, then went to campus, and went out to lunch with a group where I ate my brekky. I made a new batch of red (kidney) beans with carrot juice and onion, that's all, and it was soooo good. This is a great combination. Dinner was a gigantic salad and a pomegranate. It took me 45 minutes to eat it and I still felt rushed. I need to reserve an hour to eat this meal!

Today's brekky was same as yesterday, smoothie, beans and carrot. Dinner was a new beans, greens, & seeds recipe that was oh so yummy. I guess I'll call it greens, beans and beet sauce. I also had a fabulous pomegranate, an orange and a carrot, and 6 brazil nuts (yum). I think I overate on the greens and beet sauce, because I prepared too much and already started preparing tomorrow's food so didn't want leftovers (bad planning). We'll see if I'm hungry at brekky tomorrow. That's the test of whether I ate too much.

Nov. 9 food

Today was a good day. I was hungry at breakfast time, which is a sign I didn't overeat yesterday, so that's good! I eat a late brekky after exercising and 3-4 hours after waking up. So I should be hungry by then.

Brekky was my usual smoothie and beans, at 10 am. This seems to be my pattern right now. It's already prepared so I can eat it right when I get home.

Lunch was a snack of carrots and celery while preparing lunch for house mate. That was actually good to have because I had a lot of work to do and lasted until 6 pm for dinner.

Dinner was a delicious pomegranate to start off with. I'm planning to have one every day this week. Yum! How could I not discover this before? Then I had lots of collard greens and kale, steamed in the pressure cooker with a chopped beet and leek. I added ground sunflower, pumpkin and hemp seed and a Tbsp of vinegar. It was good. I ate an orange for dessert while making juice for house mate. I wasn't hungry but it was good. Plus I won't be eating brekky until noon tomorrow! So I don't mind being a little extra full right now. But I don't feel overly full.

Some Lessons Learned

Here are some of the things I’m dealing with now in my journey of healthy eating.

1) One thing that caught me off guard in this transition to healthy eating was that as my body cleaned up, it became much more sensitive to the drugs I used to ingest on a regular basis: caffeine, alcohol, and, the biggest surprise, sugar and refined grains. I never thought of sugar as a drug but now I’m not so sure. It’s so processed I’m not sure I’d call it real food anymore. Dr. Fuhrman says it’s a drug if you feel bad when you don’t have it. i.e., if you get addicted to it. I’ve got to the point where caffeine, alcohol, and sugar affect me very strongly when I ingest them, and then I feel yucky and get cravings the next day for something to perk me back up. So now I’ve given up caffeine and alcohol, not because I felt I should but because I didn’t like them anymore. And now the same thing seems to be happening with sugar and refined grains. They affect me so strongly that I’m thinking I don’t want them anymore. I don’t like the high I get from them and I don’t like the way I feel the next day. For a while I wondered if I was developing an eating disorder, but I think I’m just so much more affected by sugar than I used to be that the effect from it is magnified. I think I prefer just doing without it. Whole dates are a great sweetener, so I don’t need it anyway.

2) In addition, as my body cleaned up, the food started tasting better, much better. Now I can’t imagine anything more delicious than a pomegranate (my current passion). This, plus the large volume of food we healthy eaters ingest on a regular basis, has caused me to start overeating. So recently I’ve been reminding myself that food is nourishment, and it tastes much better when you are hungry. I can make getting my nourishment as enjoyable as possible by preparing delicious meals, and by waiting until I’m hungry to eat them. But if I go beyond that to overeating, then that’s unhealthy. It’s a balance I have to make with some mental discipline, because it’s our natural instinct to seek pleasure, and food is definitely a pleasure. Not only that, we are surrounded by it, day in, day out. Every meeting or social event I attend has food—food I choose not to eat in most cases, but it influences me and makes me want to eat something, even if it’s healthy. Part of it is physical—the sight of food causes my digestive system to secrete enzymes. My poor digestive system gets bombarded with this all day long in this society! Even at home, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen preparing meals I don’t eat, because I don’t eat lunch when my housemate and visitors do, and I’m the resident cook (because I love it). It’s kind of hard to resist nibbling but I find that can often lead to overeating.

The Pleasure Trap

I’ve been reading “The Pleasure Trap” by Douglas Lisle and Alan Goldhamer, as part of my study material for the Nutritional Excellence Trainer exam. This is an excellent book. Dr. Fuhrman describes the concept in this post. I highly recommend this book if you want to understand why we eat the way we do, why we shouldn’t, and how you can be happier and still find pleasure by eating healthy food. They distinguish between happiness and pleasure: “Pleasure responses are the endpoints. The moods of happiness are the subtle reinforcing experiences along the way…Animals, like people, experience the moods of happiness when making progress toward worthwhile goals…”
The pleasure trap is essentially an adaptation to the pleasure inducer, usually an addictive substance that your body adapts to and then you feel normal when you get it, and sick when you don’t. The sensation of pleasure in getting your first cup of coffee is just the cessation of feeling awful right before you have it. It’s no longer an elation, but is more a cessation of pain. To recover from the pleasure trap requires the pain of withdrawal, but then you return to the feeling of normalness that you originally had before ingesting the drugs (including processed food) in the first place. Then you discover that healthy foods can give you pleasure (like pomegranates!), and a healthy lifestyle can make you happy.

Light Therapy

I’ve been following Dr. Fuhrman’s advice to use light therapy to help you sleep better and fight the winter blues. You sit in front of a bright light for 20-30 minutes a day, right after you wake up. I’ve been doing my morning studying with this light. I’ve been doing this for 2 weeks now, with the exception of this weekend when I got up early to drive to Chicago on both days. It seems to be working pretty well. I’m sleeping more and my mood is improving, though I got cranky this afternoon when work was stressing me out. The real test of this will be in the spring. That is when I have the most trouble sleeping. I think it’s caused by the change of lighting. As the days get longer, I have more trouble sleeping. As I get older this affects me more. Even though the light is expensive ($200!), it's a one-time investment which is worthwhile if it regulates your sleep and mood.

One thing I wonder about is that I sit in front of a large computer screen at night. Does that mess up my sleep schedule?

How can Pomegranates be better than Chocolate Cake?

Yesterday I said my pomegranate tasted better than the chocolate cake that was served at the event I attended. Claire said she can’t wait until she feels that way. Well, it depends on the chocolate cake. This cake was probably made by Sysco or some other giant food prep company. That’s true of most desserts (and entrees?) in most restaurants too. It’s made with cheap ingredients that are so processed, they aren’t really food. They are likely loaded with trans-fats (shortening in the frosting, and probably in the cake mix too), because these are the fats that are solid at room temperature and have a long shelf life. They are artificially made and are really unhealthy. They aren’t made with love; they are made for profit and marketed as irresistable.

Dr. Fuhrman has some chocolate cake recipes that are made with high-quality ingredients, and anyone who goes through the effort to make them must be making them with love. I’ll eat one of those. Does it taste better than a pomegranate? I’m not sure. But I’m willing to find out.

heirloom beans

These beans are so good you can just cook them with no additional ingredients. Or you can add a bunch of stuff to them as below.

Ingredients:
16 oz Rancho Gordo heirloom beans, any variety, or any other beans from your grocery store
2-6 cups veggie juice (optional)
chopped leek or onion (optional)
chopped parsnips or eggplant or zucchini or... (optional)
water as need (1-4 cups, depending on if you use juice)
1 16-oz can tomatoes (optional, good with white beans)

Soak the beans overnight overnight, then rinse. If using lentils, you don't need to soak. Cook the beans in some water and veggie juice. Cook some of the leek and parsnips separately in some water, then blend and add to the beans---this makes the broth creamier. This is a rich soup. I add them to a big bowl of steamed greens or vegetables or chopped lettuce.

Makes 6 1-cup servings.
Nutritional info per serving (assuming 4 cups veggie juice):
with tomatoes: 342 calories, protein: 18g (18%), carbs 67 g (79%), fat (2%)
without: 328 calories, protein: 18g (19%), carbs 64 g (79%), fat (2%)

Nov 6,7,8

The days fly by. I am tired and looking forward to bed so this might be short.

Friday was a good day. I ate two meals. Actually it was same as today. Smoothie and beans for brekky. Then salad for dinner. Yesterday I thought I was doing well but didn't realize I ate too much for dinner until it was too late. I got up early and drove to a suburb of Chicago for a 9 am - noon meeting. I ate my smoothie and beans for brekky when the meeting started at 9 am. Then ate some carrots and celery during the break, then a couple of raw veggies from their lunch platter (too much snacking--but everyone else is eating and it influences me). Then about 4 pm I was hungry (for real) and I had a banana and some brazil nuts. Then I went grocery shopping and made next week's smoothies. I like to let myself snack while doing this as a treat--for example, on the grapes, and some of the pomegranate kernels while juicing, on leftover smoothies. Well, I got really full. I was still excessively full when I went to bed, so I clearly overate. Darn, I'm trying not to do that anymore.

Today we drove to Chicago again for the Bears game. I had my smoothie and beans about 10 am, then we went into the stadium. We were in a skybox (I'm not rich or important, just happen to know someone who is) and there was a bunch of food available but the only thing that looked healthy was the strawberries. So I ate a bunch of those even though I wasn't hungry--but when I see everyone else eating big plates of food, it makes me want to eat too. After the game, about 4:30 pm, we went to the car and I ate a salad I brought in an ice chest. It was very yummy, and I think it was better than anything in the skybox. Then when I got home I probably shouldn't have eaten anything but I saw this pomegranate in the fridge. I've been juicing them for my smoothies, but hadn't actually eaten one. It looked so good, so I had one. Oh man, was it ever good. I have no regrets. That was fantastic. Actually I could just consider that a light 3rd meal of the day. At the skybox, people were eating chocolate cake and all kinds of stuff from the dessert tray. I know it's hard to believe but I think this pomegranate was better than any of that. Plus those prepared desserts are full of gross things like shortening and oil.

There was lots of alcohol in the skybox but I didn't partake. I felt a little tug but that was mainly because the host paid a lot of money for the alcohol and I felt guilty about not partaking. But I'm glad I didn't have any because it's fun for about an hour and then I feel crappy for the next 24 hours. Another guy said to me that he doesn't usually drink and he was regretting the glass of champagne he drank. I know the feeling.

I'm struck by how much food there is everywhere you go. I could see having these treats on special occasions, but everywhere I go, there's rich cakes and cookies and beef and bagels and cream cheese, you name it, tons of stuff. No wonder we have an obesity epidemic in this country.

Nov. 5

Well today was better than yesterday but I don't think I'd call it black belt because I didn't wait until I was hungry to eat, and I overate. It's very interesting that the bad food from yesterday had me craving more today. That stuff really is bad for you. I guess it is like a drug in that you don't feel well when it's taken away. I think I finally understand this now. So I just have to muddle through the next few days and get my streak of healthy eating going.

Brekky was a smoothie, and 2 bowls of black bean soup. I wasn't that hungry to begin with but I was craving---it's the sugar withdrawal. One bowl of soup would have been plenty.

Snack (which I didn't need) was some brazil nuts, probably 2 oz. 1 oz would have done.

Dinner was the last of the spinach paneer. and an apple and an orange and a carrot. None of it tasted that good. I think this is all sugar withdrawal. Then I thought, can I make a good tasting dessert? no, I wasn't hungry but that didn't stop me. I made a strawberry/cashew/date ice cream. It was okay. But nothing really tasted good today. This is probably because 1) I wasn't that hungry, and 2) sugar withdrawal?

ADHD

Interesting the side effects I'm still getting from my cookie indulgence last night. My heart was beating faster last night--I could feel it and I usually don't feel it. I wasn't tired and went to bed an hour later. This morning I was doing my usual reading and my mind kept wandering all over the place. It feels like ADHD. No wonder that's a near epidemic among kids.

Oh, I also have some congestion this morning, which is unusual. Yes, one of these days I will stop experimenting on my body with unhealthy food!

Nov 4, OOPS

okay, I blew it today. But I actually feel positive about my future, because 1) I feel yucky right now and would like that to end, and 2) I've felt good the last few days and would like to return to that. Also after reading posts on the forums about sugar addictions, I'm realizing I don't handle sugar well, and I think I know why now: It's because I hardly ever eat it anymore and I'm really sensitive to it now. That's pretty obvious but it took me a while to realize it. I thought I had some weird psychological control problem. Well, maybe I do, but it doesn't help that I'm so much more sensitive to it than I used to be. That's why I quit alcohol too because I'm so much more sensitive to it now, and I react strongly to a small amount and feel crappy the next day after just 1 drink. I think I have to tell people I just can't handle refined sugar and grains anymore when faced with their thoughtful vegan concoctions. Okay, so here's how today went:

Late Brekky: smoothie, black bean soup and steamed veggies. This was a bit too much. Next time I can do with less of the veggies. They were good though.

Dinner: salad.

After dinner Oops: I was at a meeting, and the host said BYOC (bring your own cookies), and the host found out I was vegan and bought all these freshly made vegan cookies from the co-op. Then my friend Colleen brought these vegan cookies that were from a recipe I'd given her! And I thought, oh, those are okay because they have peanut butter instead of oil. Well, this is how your brain does not think rationally: I forgot it's loaded with maple syrup. Don't trust your brain when faced with cookies! The recipe is peanut butter, spelt flower, maple syrup and chocolate chips. It's really simple, and really tasty. So I ate one. and then another. At some point I remembered the maple syrup ingredient but it was too late. I think I ate about 8 of them. They were relatively small, but still. I'm buzzing and I have a stomach ache. I definitely prefer the calm, centered feeling I usually have.

Okay, tomorrow starts day 1. I actually feel more confident about this than I did a few days ago because I think I've undergone a mental shift. It's like when I decided I don't want the alcohol anymore. It's not denying myself something I want, but deciding I really don't want it anymore.

Steamed veggies

A really easy side dish, or mix beans in to make a whole meal.

Ingredients:
Veggies--whatever is in your fridge or garden, whatever is in season, etc. Examples: broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, brussels sprouts, beets.
1-2 Tbsp Ground up seeds (e.g., sunflower, hemp, flax, pumpkin).
1-2 Tbsp flavored vinegar

Steam the veggies in a regular pan until desired consistency (10-20 minutes) or pressure cooker for 2-3 minutes (I love the pressure cooker!). Mix the liquid at the bottom of the pan with the ground up seeds and vinegar, pour over the veggies. Add beans if you want to make it a main dish.

I no longer like to snack...

Today I learned something useful. I didn't want to eat brekky before my yoga class so was preparing it to eat afterwards with some friends at the co-op. So I snacked just a bit while preparing. I ate a few bites of beets and carrots and a few sips of housemate's smoothie. Well, that was like a tease to my digestive system. It thinks, more food is coming, and it starts releasing those enzymes. It made me hungry during yoga class which is very unusual. So lesson learned, I feel better when I don't snack. I like to wait and then eat a big meal and then stop for several hours.

Nov. 3 food

Day 3 was good.

Brekky was a smoothie and black bean soup over steamed kale. That was about 10:30 am, after going to excercise class and meeting with someone at my church. I was very hungry.

At about 4:30 pm, we had a birthday party for housemate with chocolate cake. If that had been vegan, I might have wanted some. But since it wasn't, I didn't care too much. But it did start making me hungry so I started dinner a bit earlier than planned. Dinner was spinach paneer and steamed veggies. The spinach paneer was very good. When I first made it a few days ago, I thought it needed something so I added raisins. I then froze two large servings. After thawing and reheating in the microwave, the raisin flavor mixed in with the rest and it was very good. It also didn't taste too spicy this time like it did right after making it. Maybe it helped that I was hungry when I ate it too. Anyway, it was very good. My steamed veggies were just stuff from the fridge (cauliflower, broccoli, brussels sprouts, and beets) cooked in the pressure cooker for 3 minutes. Then I combined the juice they cooked in with 1 Tbsp ground hemp seeds and 1 Tbsp balsmamic pomegranate vinegar. It was delicious. I also had 2 large raw carrots and an apple and an orange.

Nov. 2 food

woo-hoo, a successful day. It's good to figure out what your body likes because then you don't have to battle it. My body seems to like a big brekky after exercising. No wonder, I haven't eaten in over 14 hours usually and I just exercised and rode my bike! So when I got back at 9:30 am hungry, I ate my smoothie. As usual, I wanted more. I debated forcing myself to wait because I was going to have to fix lunch for housemate and collaborator in a few hours. But I didn't want to wait, so I said, okay, eat your lunch too, so I ate my mushroom-bean stroganoff on brussels sprouts. Yummy. And then I was full. Possibly a wee bit overfull but nothing bad. And then I was very satisfied, all the way until 5 pm! After brekky I got lunch ready for the others, I just had to get some veggies ready to steam (brocolli, cauliflower and potatoes). At about 1 pm, I fed housemate blackbean soup over the veggies, and collaborator got mushroom-bean stroganoff over veggies. He loved it. This is the same guy who ate 4 hotdogs at the football game yesterday. oh kenny, kenny. but he loves the healthy food too. Anyway, I had no problem feeding them and not eating. As long as I don't take a bite, I'm okay. If I take a bite, my body thinks it's mealtime and wants to keep eating until full. Plus I was busy with a work emergency so didn't want to eat. I also have more energy in the afternoon if I don't eat a big lunch.

For dinner I had my current favorite salad. I ate a couple of carrots while preparing. I added cucumber to it, and ate the rest of that while preparing too. I was nicely full afterwards. Recall there's 1 cup of peas, and 1/2 cup of edamame and I had 1.5 oz of nuts and seeds in the dressing, and 2 oranges in the dressing, and an apple on the salad. So I think it was plenty of calories. Now was I too full? Maybe a bit, but I feel just right now, and if I'd eaten less, I'd probably be getting hungry now.

So that's 2 days in a row of not overeating.

Nov. 1 food

I want to be a black-belt nutritarian, which for me means, no overeating, not too much anyway. Let's see how many days I can string together. To help me in my quest, I'm trying to eat only at the dining room table; and not eat (too much) while preparing food. I also think I have to log my food intake again. So here's today.

no brekky, was out all morning.

lunch: a carrot and apple. Then I made three meals for next week. First I made some vegan spinach paneer from Susan's cooking blog. I used twice as much cashews and replaced the soy milk with water (same effect), but otherwise followed the recipe pretty closely. It was too spicy for me and I felt it needed something more so I added some raisins--I should have blended them with the cashew milk. I think it will taste better next time when the raisin flavor blends some. I find that most recipes that rely on oil and salt for flavor need something extra when you take those out, so hopefully the raisins will do the trick. It has a nice texture though. I just had a small bowl to taste it mainly. Then froze the rest into two servings. After making mushroom stroganoff, I had a bowl of that on arugula. It was good. My arugula is a bit old and it smells like alcohol. yuck. I may have to throw it out, something I almost never have to do anymore.

dinner: black bean soup on arugula. I snacked a bit while preparing on carrots and pineapple, but was pretty good overall. dessert was an apple.

Overall, I didn't overeat today. It's hard not to snack while cooking. I didn't overdo it. Okay, time to head out to a great talk. so long....

mushroom-bean stroganoff

I varied the Fuhrman recipe so much I decided to post it here.

Ingredients:
1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 lb shitake mushrooms (without stems?) chopped
juice of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp tarragon
1 Tbsp paprika, sweet
1 cup carrot/beet/celery juice (whatever combo you like)
2 cups beans (I used mayacoba heirloom beans but any white, red, or pinto would be good. I bet adzuki would be good. Lentils too.)
3 Tbsp sesame seeds
1/4 cup raw cashews
1 Tbsp fresh dill, minced, or 1 tsp dried

1. Water saute the onions and garlic until soft.
2. Add the mushrooms and continue stirring and sauteeing
3. Add the lemon juice, tarragon, dill (if dried) and paprika, and mix well.
4. Add some veggie juice as needed
5. Blend the cashews and sesame seeds in some of the veggie juice and/or bean juice
6. Add the nut/seed cream, rest of the veggie juice, and dill (if fresh); cook until it thickens, usually less than 5 minutes.

Spoon over any vegetable, e.g.: potatoes, brussels sprouts, arugula, whatever's in the fridge.

It's good and has a really nice creamy texture, due to the cashew cream.

Lynn's black bean soup

From Lynn on on the Fuhrman forums. I varied it just a bit.

Ingredients:
1 lb dried black beans
1 large onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 yellow pepper, chopped
1 can tomatoes
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
pinch cayenne or chipotle powder
carrots, 5 shredded fine
1 fresh pineapple, or bag of frozen, chopped
1 cup carrot juice (optional)
Juice of 1 lime
chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Soak the beans overnight, change the water. Add just enough to cover. Cook for an hour while chopping the veggies. Add everything but the pineapple and cook for another hour. Add the pineapple in the last 30 minutes or so. Add the lime juice and cilantro at the end.

The shredded carrots give it a meaty texture. I like it. Next time I will experiment with steel cut oats instead of carrots. say 1/4 cup. That's also meaty. There's barley too.

who's a good chef?

I was reading through a veggie magazine today and there was a section on fancy holiday recipes from fancy chefs. They were full of not just a little, but tons of oil, salt and sugar. And these were main dishes that from the titles, sounded healthy. If you think you are getting healthy food when you eat at a restaurant, think again. And if you think you are a good cook and want a real challenge and want to be really creative, you should try making healthy dishes that taste good. Dr. Fuhrman and his chefs have succeeded. How hard is it to make anything (cockroaches?) taste good if you drench it in sugar and salt and then fry it? It is not only possible but fun to make really good dishes that are healthy too. Carrot juice is one of the secrets. So are raisins. A little sweetness makes up for lack of salt. Then there are the ground nuts and seeds. Raw cashews blended with water in a high-powered blender makes a delicious cream sauce. Add some raisins or dates if you want it a bit sweet.