Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lots of Leafies

You know I love my greens, but when it comes to leafy veggies, like with anything else, a bit of diversification is a good thing. Above are some juice veggies that were inspired by something I saw recently from Kris Carr-- I believe hers was called "Cabbage Rose". I'm pretty sure it was not exactly this collection, but the purple cabbage instead of greens was the start of the inspiration, and I went from there. In this batch was: 1/4 purple cabbage, a whole fennel bulb with stalks and fronds, two gala apples, a big cuke, and lots of raw ginger. This batch really packed a powerful flavor punch, which I liked, but others may want to reduce the fennel and/or ginger quantities. That was before. Here's after:

 Look at that color! Isn't it "mauvelous"? This was very yum.

From the rest of the cabbage, I made some cole slaw for fish tacos I served the family the other night. The slaw was easy -- sliced thinly, the cabbage was mixed with the juice of half a lime, 2 tablespoons of veganaise, a pinch of salt and green onion. A meal like tacos is perfect for my mixed family of carnivores, a vegetarian and a vegan. Other toppings I featured besides the slaw and the fish were sour cream - dairy and not, dairy cheese, garlicky collards and chick peas, black beans and salsa. Wynne had bean tacos with cheese and salsa, and I had bean, collards-n-chick peas, slaw and salsa tacos. The guys had whatever it was they wanted. I didn't pay attention, but nothing got wasted.

The next day, the slaw tasted even better. It was a great snack on some delicious multigrain sourdough bread spread with earth balance -- mmmm.

Before I close this "diverse leafy veg" post, I want to share my favorite prepackaged salad:

Normally I prefer to get whole veggies and wash and prepare them myself, but this is great for those busy moments where not having it on hand would make our food choices less wholesome. Organic Girl Super Greens is so much better than any other mixed prepackaged salad, in my opinion. They had me at "our most nutritious salad". Seriously -- this combination, of red and green swiss chard, tat soi, arugula and spinach, is so flavorful I eat it with no dressing. Give it a try if you haven't yet. I'd show you the greens, themselves, but, ummm, I already ate them. Here's my little trick for keeping these boxed salads fresh -- after the box is opened, lay a paper towel across the top of the greens before replacing the lid and putting it back in the fridge. The towel soaks up and holds excess moisture so the greens remain perfectly dry but the air within the box is moist enough to keep the veggies fresher longer. You may have already figured this out as well.

Leafy veggies of any color rock!

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The New Breakfast Sandwich

I remember the days when an Egg Mcmuffin was a real treat -- all that warm gooey, greasy mess. That was before I realized that my dairy/grease coma was from the dairy and the grease. I just thought I was not a morning person. Now I eat to support the way I want my body and mind to feel. But I still want something warm and decadent on a cold morning!

This was actually my "second breakfast" yesterday. I make a point of paying attention to my true appetite, and eating when I want to eat instead of when the clock might indicate I should. In the early morning, readying the kids for their day, coffee is wanted and gratefully consumed, but then I want only fresh juice to wash down my pills. I get productive for several hours and about 10:30 or 11:00 is the first time I find myself wanting food. This grilled cheese fit the bill yesterday morning.

I started with a couple of pieces of toasted Eziekiel bread, laid out on a warm, dry griddle. I assembled the pieces with daiya non-dairy cheese, sundried tomatoes and arugula. Then I tried a new trick that worked out beautifully. I put the cover of a pot over the toasts to keep the warmth inside long enough for the daiya to melt a little-- just a couple of minutes. Then I could assemble the sandwich without the daiya shreds falling all over the place. They were already "glued" to the bread. Then I just flipped the sandwich a couple more times until it was all melty and gooey through and through. Mmmmm.

Today marks my second "Veganniversary"! There will be those of you who don't consider me a vegan because, on the rare occasion, I consume shellfish or raw tuna, and that's fine with me. I was never too keen on labels anyway. Pescetarians eat dairy and eggs, which I definitely do not, so that's not the right label. My diet is almost always vegan. I guess the most accurate way to describe what I eat is vegan, dabbling in macrobiotics -- a health-conscious approach which may or may not include small amounts of seafood.

Many of you know my health story, so you can tune out now, but for those of you who might be interested, I decided to become vegan mainly because of a chronic illness. I'd learned a mostly plant-based diet was my best chance for a long, healthy, fully ambulatory life. I did not struggle with the diet at all. It just felt right. Eighteen months into my vegan journey I became weak and fainted a couple of times, which had never happened to me before. It was determined I had a B12 deficiency. Around that time I began wanting seafood -- badly. My body has always spoken loud and clear to me and intuitively I know it is important to listen. Nonetheless, because my B12 stores had been so seriously depleted, I also addressed the problem medically. I worked with my trusted Integrative Medicine M.D. who gave me B12 shots every two weeks. Finally I asked her to teach me how to do it myself. I already give myself a daily injection of MS medicine anyway, so needles don't scare me. I get my supplies from my doctor, and doing it myself I save a fortune and am in charge of my own health. My doctor explained that during times of stress, we burn through our B12 at a much higher rate, so she authorized weekly shots whenever I feel I need them.

Now, many folks would say that the need for injections to maintain adequate B12 stores would indicate that a vegan diet is not healthy. Not so fast . . . the two years of my vegan life are the first years when there was no progression of MS activity on the MRI! I've been diagnosed for 16 years, and the disease has progressed every year since it was diagnosed, until I went vegan! I'd say the evidence shows a little weekly injection to make being vegan work for me is worth it.  I urge all of you, vegan or not, to listen to your body's signals and know your nutrition levels, and do whatever you need to do to maintain a healthy balance.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

A Ghostly Post

These photos would be more appropriate in October, but I just took them and I like 'em, so I'm sharing 'em.

Yesterday morning when I woke at 6:45 a.m. to get my daughter up for school, it was still pitch black in the house and outside, except for this full moon, that is. This is actually a shot of a moon-set. The moon is setting in the west, right out my backyard window. The sun in the east was still nowhere in sight. Unfortunately the photo doesn't do the phenomenon justice, since I didn't use the right setting in the dark and I didn't want to break the spooky spell of this fleeting scene by turning a light on, but I like the photo anyway. You should have seen it. The moon was huge and low, and so vividly lit the wispy clouds. The whole thing was over in five minutes. This morning, at the same time of day, the moon was small and ordinary, and in a completely different part of the western sky.  I guess this was an illustration of how variable the lunar orbit can be. I was glad to have caught the big spooky moon-set, if even for a moment.

The day of the moonset, I prepared forbidden rice. Have you tried it? It is really, really good. The texture is firm and pleasantly chewy,the flavor is mild and a bit nutty, and it just looks really cool:

I prepared it with water and the tiniest sprinkle of salt, and added a can of white beans at the end for contrast. I think it looks a little bit like my moon-set! This simple dish was surprisingly flavorful and satisfying. I'm eating the leftovers in wraps, on salads and on toast.  Boo!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012


Yesterday, walking into the grocery store, I ran into someone who has made a positive impact upon my life -- a lovely lady named Kris. About three or four years ago I met Kris at the softball field as we rooted for our daughters. I don't know how many of you can feel or sense "energy" from or around people, so if you can't or haven't you will think I'm a kook, but I can normally feel the gist of who a person is, and some folks' energy comes across more strongly than others. With Kris, her bright, positive, substantial energy preceded her. I knew right away she was a good egg. We enjoyed each others' company, and moved past small talk very quickly. At the time, Kris was a vegetarian (she may still be, I don't know) so she was one of my early inspirations for changing my diet. When softball season was over, with our kids in different schools, Kris and I fell out of touch. I tend to get "tunnel vision" in life, dealing only with what is right in front of my face as a mom and wife, which is something I need to work on. Maintaining a broader perspective is much healthier. When I saw Kris yesterday, I was sorry we had fallen out of touch. We plan on getting together soon for coffee.

In the few minutes we had to catch up, I learned Kris is dealing with breast cancer. With a bright spirit like hers, I'm sure she will regain her health. I look forward to sharing with her what little I've gleaned from my research and experience with diet, from Kind to Crazy Sexy to Macrobiotics.

Inspired by Kris, last night when I was preparing a pot roast for the meat eaters, I decided to feature cruciferous vegetables as well. You all probably already know about cruciferous veggies, but just in case you don't, they are thus named for the shape of their flower -- a cross. They include all manner of cabbages, broccoli, cauliflower and more. Cruciferous vegetables contain cancer-suppressing compounds, so we can all benefit from their consumption.

When my boys eat meat, they like potatoes. I see potatoes as an excuse to eat brussels sprouts! That sounds like a stretch, but remember my Colcannon from my Christmas menu? I've not made it since, so it was about time. More cruciferous!

I didn't dig out my recipe but did it from memory -- I cut small new potatoes to uniform size, boiled them about 12 minutes, added halved brussels sprouts on top of the boiling potatoes for three more minutes, drained it all and dressed it with a little earth balance, a little veganaise, a little bragg's liquid aminos and a little liquid smoke -- very delicious and Irish!

To continue with my cruciferous consumption extravaganza, I made broccoli stem juice this morning from the scraps of last night's bounty. The juice also included an orange, an apple, a big leaf of kale, some romaine, some ginger and two cucumbers.

Like magic, these scraps become this:

The broccoli stalks have a lovely, almost sweet flavor, and they contain a shocking amount of juice. I wound up with about twice as much juice today as what I get with other combos, and there was hardly any pulp.

By the way, I want to share a few things that make my juicing easy and efficient:

I soak all the organics in a big bowl of water, and then I just scrub them well with this handy brush which fits in the hollow of my palm. Then there's no need to peel them. The nice sharp peeler is helpful, however, with whatever non-organics I use. finally, a large, sharp, well-balanced knife makes the prep easy and swift.

Eat your cruciferous veggies, and, if you are so inclined, say a prayer or send good vibes to Kris. The world is a better place with her in it.