Thursday, March 21, 2013


I’ve been neglecting my blog over the last few weeks for a lot of reasons, but mostly just  because I needed a break. So now I'm back...

Since my last post I have been working out 4-5 times a week and ran in a second 5K race on Sunday, March 17.  It was called The Shamrock Run and I had lot of fun! Dressed up in green and I was one of approximately 35,000 runners & walkers. It is quite the event with bagpipers and bands all along the route and free beer afterwards! 

Another thing I started was seeds for my container gardening. You see I live in an apartment and each year I plant a couple of containers of something. Every year I plant at least one tomato plant and then whatever else I’m in the mood for. Last year it was tomatoes & cucumbers. Well, I’ve decided I would like to start planting more containers and expand my container gardening each year. So this year I am planting collards, beets and tomatoes. I figure I will add an additional container each year and slowly build my urban garden. 

I am also experimenting with 3 different self-watering systems which will hopefully make my life easier. First, I bought a self-watering planter made by City Pickers in which I will plant my collards. I already had the other two containers which are round and I am trying a couple of different watering methods with each of them.   

In the second container I inserted an unglazed clay terra cotta wine cooler with a lid in the very middle. I got the wine cooler from Goodwill for a couple of dollars. It acts a water reservoir and wicks out moisture into the dirt and to the plants roots. This is a very old technique used in Mexico and other dry arrid countries. They bury terra cotta  containers, called OLLAs (pronounced oh-YAHs), in the dirt next to their plants. The roots of the plants eventually grow towards the olla seeking moisture.  So I sprouted the beet seeds overnight by soaking them in water and then planted them all around the perimeter of the container. I am excited to see how well this method works. As you can see from the picture nothing has sprouted yet. It's only been a few days. 

The third container is going to house a tomato plant and I will use wine bottles inserted into the dirt as water globes. By doing this I’m hoping I won’t have to water the tomatoes every single day. 

As I read more and more about GMOs and how important it is for us to buy organic fruits and vegetables, it becomes more important to me to know where my food comes from. This is why I want to expand my urban garden and enjoy the health benefits of food I grow myself. 

Check out this great video by Ron Finley about growing your own food. He says growing your own food is like printing your own money. It's an inspiring message.



A friend at work gave me a recipe and asked if I could adapt it vegan style. So I am happy to say it turned out great and wanted to share it with you. I used Soyrizo in the recipe but did not use any vegan cheese. It was still very tasty and personally, I don't think it needs cheese. The Soyrizo is not oil free, however, I have included a recipe below if you want to make your own chorizo style sausage.


2 each Anaheim and poblano peppers, seeded, stemmed and diced
1-1/2 c red onion, finely diced
6 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
1-1/2 c corn kernels, thawed if frozen
1 12 oz. pkg of Soyrizo (remove the casing)
2 t ground cumin
1-1/2 t cinnamon
2 t dried oregano
2 10 oz. cans enchilada sauce
15 oz can black beans, drained
1/3 c cilantro, chopped
1/4 c fresh lime juice
12 6-inch corn tortillas
3 c Vegan cheese (optional)
pico de gallo

Preheat over to 400 degrees. Place peppers, onion, tomatoes in a shallow baking pan. Roast in the oven, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes until the vegetables are soft and lightly browned. Add a little water if necessary during the baking time. 

Pour a small amount of the enchilada sauce into the bottom of a glass baking dish, covering the bottom. Set aside.

In a large pot, add soyrizo and brown slightly, breaking into small pieces with spoon. Mix in seasonings, the rest of the enchilada sauce, beans, and roasted vegetables, cilantro, and lime juice. Add salt & pepper to taste. 

Lower oven temp to 375 degrees. 

Cover the bottom of the baking dish with tortillas, cutting them as necessary to fit the entire bottom. Top with 3 cups of the filling and spread evenly over the tortillas. Spread 1 cup of vegan cheese (if using). Add another layer of tortillas, filling, and cheese. Top with a final layer of tortillas and the remaining filling. 

Cover with foil and bake 35 minutes until sauce is bubbly. If using cheese sprinkle remaining cheese on top and bake uncovered 5-7 minutes more. Let stand 10 minutes. Serve with pico de gallo lime, and cilantro. 


1 cup wheat gluten flour
¾ cup of water
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 - 2 tablespoons of smoked paprika (depending on taste)
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon ground garlic
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients together, knead well and form into sausage shapes. Cook in boiling water. 

The finished chorizo-like seitan can be eaten cold or pan browned.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

NuVal Scoring System

Have you heard about the NuVal food nutritional scoring system? I read an article about it this week and would love to see this type of labeling in my local grocery store. According to the NuVal system foods are ranked with a score of 1 to 100. The higher the score the more nutritious the food. Now, I have to say that this scoring system is for meat eaters as well as vegans--it is simply a way to help the consumer make more knowledgeable nutritional choices when shopping

“The NuVal...scoring system, [is] based on 30 factors including vitamins, fiber, salt, sugar, fat quality, protein quality, glycemic load, energy density and calories. From the public health evidence about those factors, they constructed an algorithm that processes the data into a single number. As new food science research is published, and as products are reformulated by their manufacturers, the algorithm and the individual scores are updated.” - by Marty Kaplan -
For example an apple receives a score of 96 while Mott’s Original Applesauce gets a score of 4. 

According to the article approximately 30 retail food chains are adopting the scores.  However, Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s are not among them. 

Personally, I would like to see Safeway, Albertson's, Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s, and New Seasons all adopt the scores! 
So, I went out to the NuVal site and entered a couple of stores in my area suggesting these stores be added. You can do this as well! 

Simply go to their website and click on "Recommend a Store" enter the stores you would like to adopt this scoring system. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

American Heart Month

It’s so interesting to me that everything similar things seems to happen all at once. For example this past weekend I was in the mood for some good soup and noticed a great recipe from Kathy at Healthy Happy Life blog. I decided I would give it a try and loved how the soup turned out. A day later I noticed the same recipe posted on Facebook and on Dr. McDougall’s blog. So the recipe has definitely made its rounds. Here it is - give it a try!

Rustic Tomato Rice Kale Stew

28 oz. can of fire-roasted tomatoes
3 cups vegetable broth
1/2 cup nutritional yeast (or to taste)
1 bunch of kale (I used dino kale)
1 1/4 cups rice, cooked (I used white basmati rice)
3/4 cup frozen pea + sliced carrot blend, organic
2 bay leaves (remove before serving)
1 heaping tbsp chili powder
pepper/salt to taste (at least 1/2 tsp salt)
1 tsp garlic powder or 2 cloves, chopped
2-4 pinches of cayenne (to taste - adds warmth)

  1. Rice: If you do not have cooked rice on hand, you will need to cook ahead of time and set aside. (You could also add rice directly to boiling broth + more broth or water and cook for a longer period of time, but that was not the method I used.)
  2. Add your tomatoes to a blender or food processor. Blend on low until smooth. Add in 1 cup of veggie broth the ease the blending a bit.
  3. Pour the tomato mixture plus remaining veggie broth in a large soup pot. Bring to a boil.
  4. Add in the spices, bay leaves, frozen veggies and reduce heat to simmer. When the frozen veggies have broken up and appear cooked through add in all remaining ingredients like the finely sliced kale and rice.
  5. Season to taste adding more spice and salt if desired.
It’s like that with other things going on in my life. A couple of weeks ago I ran in the Heart Breaker 5K to support research on heart disease--after all this is American Heart Month. I felt it was important especially since I am someone who knows first hand about heart disease. Check out my story & video on my blog. 

After the race a group of us was sitting having some goodies provided by the event which consisted of oatmeal and fruit.  As we were talking about heart disease I shared my story to the group. My friend, who ran in the race with me, kept saying “I didn’t know you had a heart attack!”  She had no idea that I had had a heart attack and two separate heart surgeries.  A wonderful man across the table shared his story and how he has changed to a vegan diet and now runs in 10 races a year. Good for him!!! There is hope for those with heart disease if you adopt a plant-based vegan diet and active lifestyle. This is why I write my blog. I want to share my story with as many people as I can in the hopes that they will be able to turn their health around and prevent heart disease from progressing in their life.

On another note, this month is also Black History Month and even though I am not African American I have some very important people in my life who are.  One person in particular has a family history of diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, stroke, obesity, etc.  According to The American Heart Association African Americans are twice as likely to have a first-ever stroke compared to caucasians and the statistics show that cardiovascular disease kills nearly 100,000 African Americans annually in the United States. Read more: Click Here

There’s a lot of reasons for these statistics one of which is diet. So many of my friends can’t seem to give up traditions such as soul food.  I read an interesting article called “400 Years Later And Still Slaves To Soul Food” by Ayinde Howell. 400 Years

People who consider a plant-based vegan lifestyle radical do not fully understand the impact food has on health.  Fortunately for those of us who have changed to a plant-based vegan diet, the evidence weighs in our favor of living a long, healthy, quality life.  This brings me to my next topic…

A few months ago you might recall that I visited Las Vegas and wrote a post about the Heart Attack Grill that I saw on Fremont Street Las Vegas Trip. It appears that the unofficial spokesperson for the Heart Attack grill passed away from a heart attack while waiting for the bus outside the diner. Apparently, he visited the diner every day. How unfortunate! 

All evidence continues to point to the importance of adopting a low fat plant-based vegan diet in order to maintain health and longevity. What are you doing in February to take good care of your heart?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Fill Your Life with Greens

"Fill your life with greens…" Ann Esselstyn

As you know, it is my goal this year to eat a huge amount of greens each day. So far I have been successful at incorporating greens in practically every recipe I make. I was pleasantly inspired after watching Ann Esselstyn’s video given in Sydney NS Canada, January 2013, and wanted to share it with you. In her presentation Ann made 10 points on how to eat heart-healthy. Her talk was filled with many practical no-oil cooking tips, how to read labels, and which foods to avoid. 

Here are Ann’s 10 points of heart-healthy eating:
  1. Read ALL labels of the food you buy. 
  2. No oil.
  3. Eat lots and lots of greens.
  4. Eat oats for breakfast everyday.
  5. Eat WHOLE grains.
  6. Eat as many beans & lentils as you can. 
  7. Avoid nuts (the exception is 1-2 tablespoons of flax seed or chia seeds per day).
  8. Avoid sugar.
  9. Avoid salt.
  10. Drink water. Do not drink your calories, chew your food. 
Ann is definitely knowledgeable about making simple and tasty food. This is a great video hope you will take the time to watch it. 

Ann Esselstyn's Lovely Collard Wraps
Lovely Collard Wraps with Red Pepper and Cucumber.
These are stunning – both beautiful and delicious - and so much fun to make they don’t feel like work. Substitute cooked  asparagus or green beans, long carrot or bok choy strips, cooked greens, etc., for the filling. ANYTHING is good in them. They make perfect sushi like hors d’oeuvres or use instead of sandwiches. 

1 bunch collards
8 tablespoons hummus made without tahini or oil
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1/4 red pepper,  cut in thin strips
1/4 small cucumber, cut in thin strips (skin optional)
1/4 cup shredded carrots
1/2  lemon

Put about 2 inches of water in a large frying pan and bring to a boil. 
Choose 4 of the nicest collard greens.  Lay them flat, cut off the thick stem at the point where the leaf begins then pile them on top of each other in the boiling water.  Cover and cook for about 30 seconds to a minute. Collards are pretty tough and don’t easily break apart when cooked. Their flexibility makes them a perfect wrap.

Drain then lay flat on a board or counter with the thick part of the stem facing up. 

Down the center spine of the 4 collard leaves place a row of about  2 tablespoons hummus, sprinkle with green onions, cilantro and shredded carrots. Place thin red pepper strips and cucumber strips on top. 
Start with the side nearest you and flip it over. Then turn up the end piece on the non thick stem side and gently roll into a sausage shape. 
With a sharp knife, cut into as many small pieces as possible.  You should be able to get six or more pieces, but it will depend on your collard size.  The creator always gets to eat the end pieces! 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Navy 'Lasagna'

By David Gabbe
1/2 cup dried mushrooms (chopped)
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (chopped)
1 1/4 cups boiling water
2 cups cood navy or other white beans
1/2 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups pasta sauce
1 medium onion (chopped)
2 teaspoons each: dried basil, garlic powder, and onion powder
Whole wheat lasagna noodles

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Place first 3 ingredients in bowl. Set aside 10-15 minutes.
In blender or food processor blend the beans, water, and salt until thick and pasty. Set aside.
In a large bowl combine pasta sauce, mushroom/tomato mixture (including water), the onion, and seasonings. Combine thoroughly. 
Spread a thin layer of the pasta sauce on the bottom of a 9X13 baking dish. Layer 3-4 of the lasagna noodles on top. 
Spread about 1/2 of the bean paste on top of the noodles. Then spead about 1/2 of the pasta sauce over the bean paste. Repeat until noodles  and mixtures are gone. 
Cover and bake 1/ 1/4 hours. Let cool 10 minutes before serving. 
Variation: Add 4 cups chopped raw spinach or kale to past sauce mixture and layer as directed above. 


The political battle over the labeling of GMO foods continues to gain momentum in 2013. Whether you like politics or not this issue is very important and should of concern for you and your family. You may wonder why the labeling issue is so important and why people are attacking the Monsanto corporation? What link does Monsanto have with all of this?
You see Monsanto has a very dark past. This very powerful company produces chemical pesticides. These pesticides have been directly linked to a host of health problems such as birth defects, cancer, tumors, etc.  For example, back when the Viet Nam war was going on, Monsanto the the front runner in producing agent orange (AO). They assured our government that AO was safe and made a huge profit selling it to our military. If you remember, it was sprayed over the lush jungle to kill the vegetation. Turns out that the vegetation that was not the only thing killed. Thousands of our soldiers were exposed to AO and consequentially developed devastating diseases such as cancer, Parkinson’s, reproductive problems, etc.
Today, Monsanto takes the lead in developing genetically modified foods. This powerful company and is able to control our government decisions on food safety. At the time of this writing they are self-regulating and above governmental scrutiny. Basically, if Monsanto says something is “safe” then no one in our government questions it.
Now back to you...
Whether you realize it or not, you are already consuming GMOs in your food because of companies like Monsanto. The hard truth is that GMOs are not safe to eat!  It has been estimated that at least 85-90% of the foods in the grocery store have been genetically modified. Did you know that since 1996 Americans have been eating genetically modified ingredients in most processed foods. Unfortunately, GMOs are not only found in processed foods anymore. They can also be found in whole foods & produce and are on practically every shelf of the local grocery store. 
So what’s the harm in eating GMOs? Well, would you knowingly eat pesticides? This is where Monsanto comes into the picture. You see, Monsanto discovered that if you take a gene from the soil bacterium called Bt (for Bacillus thuringiensis) and insert it into the plant’s DNA it will secrete an insect-killing toxin in every cell and the plant will be resistant to insects. This built-in pesticide trait has yet to be tested on humans. And of course, Monsanto says everything is fine and there is no cause for concern. 
“No genetically modified crop can grow unless it is attached to some kind of a pesticide…” -Shiv Chopra, Phd., author of Corrupt to the Core

Another reason companies like Monsanto genetically engineer plants is to make them tolerant to herbicides. Monsanto’s four major GM plants, soy, corn, canola, and cotton, can withstand a deadly dose of weed killer. These monster plants and their seeds are now the patent property of Monsanto.
Everything Monsanto does if for profit and not for health. They are in no way concerned about the health impact their pesticides will have on us. Unfortunately, our government is allowing Monsanto to monopolize the food industry and putting the safety of our food into their pesticide-infected hands. Those waging war against Monsanto are trying make sure that consumers know what they are getting by regulating the labeling of foods sold in this country. 
Unfortunately, there is no straight forward way of avoiding GMOs at present time. But there are certain measures you can take which will limit the amount of GMOs you consume. The first thing that you can do is avoid the typical at-risk ingredients ( unless they are specifically labeled organic or non-GMO. When buying produce always buy organic. Only purchase processed foods that are specifically labeled as non-GMO. 
Are GMOs something that you are concerned about? If so, how do you avoid buying GMO foods?