The plant based nurse

My family's excellent adventure to better health!


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Tsumamis of change–Dr. T. Colin Campbell coming to Scranton PA!

I have been so busy with my day job, being a home health nurse and making evening visits on call that some of my plant based projects have had to simmer on the back burner for a bit. I needed something to get me reinvigorated and involved, so you cannot imagine my surprise and excitement when I opened my email this morning to find out that T. Colin Campbell, PhD, author of The China Study, is coming to Scranton, PA! He will be giving a lecture at the University of Scranton where I went back to school to earn my bachelor’s degree in Nursing. The Exercise Science Club is sponsoring the event and it is open to the public and free of charge. If you are in the Northeast and can make it to Scranton on November 11th at 7 p.m. please join us! The venue holds 500 and I would love to see it filled to the brim! All you have to do is call to RSVP to reserve a spot.

Scranton is about a 2 hr drive from NYC and Philadephia and has a rich history as a booming coal mining center, a stop on the railroad and home to some beautiful architecture. I call this area the land of pizza and pierogies, and we have some wonderfully rich and not so healthy ethnic foods, a church on almost every corner along with a “beer garden” and a funeral home in close proximity. According to the Northeast Regional Cancer Institute, approximately 30,000 people are living with Cancer in Northeast PA. and 9.900 in our 10 county area are diagnosed with cancer each year.

Considering our cancer rates in this area and across the U.S., there is no time like the present for a visit from Dr. Campbell. “For more than forty years, Dr. T. Colin Campbell has been at the forefront of nutrition research. His legacy, the China Project, is the most comprehensive study of health and nutrition ever conducted. Dr. Campbell is a professor Emeritus at Cornell University and is most well-known for co-authoring the bestselling book The China Study with his son, Thomas Campbell, MD. In addition to his long and outstanding career as an author, scientific researcher, and Cornell professor, Dr. Campbell has been featured in several documentary films. He is the founder of the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies and the online internationally-recognized Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate offered by the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies in partnership with eCornell. Dr. Campbell’s expertise and scientific interests encompass relationships between diet and diseases, particularly the causation of cancer. He has focused on nutritional status and long term health. Surprisingly, Campbell started his life on a dairy farm, but is now widely-known for researching links between animal-based protein diets and disease. He currently serves as the Chairman of the Board.”(http://nutritionstudies.org/about/board/dr-t-colin-campbell/).

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I have heard Dr. Campbell speak and his knowledge of nutrition is astounding and his passion for spreading the word about plant based nutrition and optimal health is contagious. The last time I heard him speak this August at Plantstock there was an urgency in his voice, an urgency that we must stop this vicious cycle of poor diet, chronic illness and suffering and replace it with a story of health promoting plant based foods and health and wellness for our citizens.

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Cooking all day without cooking ALL day!

A couple of weekends ago, I decided that in addition to cleaning out the basement to get ready for the waterproofing company, I was going to cook for my husband and I all day Saturday since we were both going to be home all day for the first time in a long time. Breakfast is tricky since I usually eat the same thing every day, oatmeal with bananas, blueberries, and raisins and my husband is not a fan. He usually has a sprouted grains bagel. So the challenge was to make something totally different. I was also participating in a challenge on Engine2extra.com that was called Camp E2X. One of the assignments was to make a recipe from “My Beef with Meat” that I had never made before, so it was off to the breakfast section of Rip’s book. It turned out I had all of the ingredients for the Spicy Bouldin Scrambler. Perfect! This harkened back to the old days when we would have omelets on the weekends.

It was a pretty easy and quick recipe. I just had a couple of things to chop, some onions, jalapeño, garlic and some tomatoes to add on top.

OnionsMBWM

While the tofu was draining, I got some diced potatoes out of the freezer, added some extra peppers and garlic powder and popped them into the toaster oven.

potatoes

After I pressed and drained the tofu, I mixed the nutritional yeast with herbs and spices to coat the tofu.

tofu

I thought it was a little too much yeast, but I carried on and enjoyed the aroma of the spices and fresh garlic. The scramble was easy to heat in a nonstick pan and before you know it we had a breakfast fit for a queen!

scramber plate

It did turn out we could have enjoyed the scramble with a lot less nutritional yeast but I was glad I tried something new and will adjust the recipe next time.

I spent the day in between meals going to the local farmers market and giving away and selling things we will never use again, like an ice cream maker and a turkey fryer! We never did fry any turkeys but used to use it for large batches of wings. Now we eat cauliflower wings!

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turkey fryerIce cream maker

Before I knew it, it was time to make some lunch. I looked around and I had some whole wheat pasta, some red ripe tomatoes from the farmers market and some broccoli and broccoli greens in the garden just waiting to be picked! I sautéed some onions, garlic, peppers and tomatoes in a little veggie broth, added some fresh chopped tomatoes and oregano and then a can of crushed tomatoes. If you like fresh basil, add it at the end for a great fresh flavor.

tomatoes and onions lunch sauce luch

I chopped up the broccoli and greens and added them to the pasta water the last minute or two of cooking.

broccoli lunch pasta with broccoli

This whole lunch took no time at all and it was satisfying and delicious.

Lunch bowlMy husband told me not to bother cooking supper since I made such a big lunch and we could have leftovers but I was determined to make 3 different meals so we would have leftovers during the week. We love Indian cuisine and I made one of our favorite recipes from “The Starch Solution,” Festive Dal Soup. It was super easy in my Instant Pot. All the ingredients go in and I simmer it on the slow cook setting, et voilà, fabulous supper in less than an hour served over basmati brown rice. We love spicy dishes so I always add extra chili paste in the dish and at the table. I also added some curry powder this time.  For the greens I used broccoli greens, what else!

dal

I cooked all day, but spent very little time in the kitchen and we had 3 great nutritious meals plus leftovers for lunches or dinners during the week. I also had a nice surprise from my neighbor Charlie. He was afraid this unusual bird was going to be thrown away and he thought I would like it, so he brought it over to my picnic table. It was a bright spot in a busy day and this little bird really is growing on me!

bird

Just a closing thought. Cooking plant based foods is SO much more than just nourishing and healing our body and soul but can also help to heal our planet. This mug we received with our last spice order from Penzey’s is a great reminder when I need a push to get in the kitchen,

“Heal the world… cook dinner tonight”

Heal the world cook dinner tonight

Remember to have fun with your food and enjoy!


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New to me food adventure- Farm to Table dinner at Vge Cafe!

Last weekend My husband Scott and I were able to attend a special dinner that our friend, Engine 2 diet coach, and plant-based certified professional chef from Rouxbe cooking school, Char Nolan was heading up with her chef friend and owner of Vge café, Fernando Peralta! I have NEVER been to a dinner in a restaurant where we did not have to ask to have something left out off of our plate or ask for a special favor in the preparation of our food. So this really was a new and glorious experience!

The meal was held at Vge Café in Bryn Mawr, PA, so we had to drive a little distance, but it was worth it. The café was closed, so our group of 11 had the whole place to ourselves!

Vge cafe

The meal started with warm mighty muffins, and whole wheat “buttermilk” biscuits. AND they were served with cashew butter. I never had this creamy concoction and It was decadent and delicious!

Farm to table muffin

The food presentation was out of this world and the Mediterranean olive hummus with crudité was no exception!

Next we had a velvety cream of tomato and red pepper soup! I have NEVER had such a creamy soup and tomato soup is my favorite! The flavor was so complex and unfortunately Fernando could not share his recipe because he didn’t use one, he just created it as he went!

 The big surprise of the night was when my husband ate an entire massaged kale salad a la Char Nolan! He doesn’t like kale and Ann Esselstyn was quite perturbed with him at Plantstock last year when he told her so! Hope I get a chance to tell her that Char convinced him it’s good!

Just when we were beginning to get full, Fernando’s wife Marta brought out the entrée, veggie loaf with mushrooms, brown gravy, a roasted tomato between the two layers of loaf and mashed potatoes. They even gave us extra gravy for our potatoes. We had so much food that we all took leftovers home. Can you taste the gravy?!

And yes, we even had dessert! This granny smith apple tower with no added sugar was out of this world!

 If the outrageously delicious gourmet food wasn’t enough to put us over the edge, the interesting and kind new people we met made the night picture perfect!

Our hosts and chefs, Char Nolan and Fernando Peralta!

 Our own E2X Fire Marshall from Engine2extra.com, Cathy and her daughter Angela and husband Greg!

 Cita and her husband, regulars at Vge café who just found plant based eating 6 months ago. She was so interested in learning new things that she was writing notes. She heard about plant based eating from a friend who is an oncologist!

Bruce, telling us about working for Dr. T. Colin Campbell at his foundation, and his friend Anyta who owns a juice bar.

Liz, vegan, jazz singer, and marathon runner and her husband, who is an ultra marathon runner.

See the “Plant Pure” logo on the menu above for Vge café? Char  kept talking to Fernando about oil free whole foods and he did want to serve his customers the healthiest food possible, so he tried changing his methods and he was able to keep the food tasting fabulous and keep his customers happy, win, win! He has a culinary degree from Le Cordon Bleu and a business degree, too! AND he met with Dr. T. Colin Campbell when he was in town for a screening of Plant Pure Nation and they decided to develop a program to teach other restaurants about how to make plant pure food so they could have options for plant based customers on their menus! This is ground breaking and it was SO cool to hear about it from Char and Fernando. Ripples of change!! Keep talking to your friends and family and who knows, maybe exciting things will happen in your community, too! Here’s to many more new adventures!

My boyfriend (2)

 Remember to have fun with your food and enjoy!


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Get inspired again and again!

As I was cooking dinner tonight, I found myself watching videos of success stories on Dr. McDougall’s web site. He has posted inspiring stories from people who have changed their health and their lives through plant based eating. I never tire of reading about the transformations people experience when they begin to eat nutritious delicious plant based foods!

I think it’s not only fun, but important to stay connected by hearing these success stories and realizing we are not alone. It can be very isolating to eat differently than 99.5% of the population, especially if you are the only one in your house, your group of friends, or even your town who eats no animal products and craves kale.

If you are feeling alone and thinking maybe getting healthy is just too hard, find some healthy community online and reach out to find inspiration in unexpected places. My friend, Bobby Anderson, is a perfect example of someone who started eating a whole foods plant based diet to lose weight and improve his health and had a story that was so compelling, that he has inspired thousands of people with his success and determination.

I first met Bobby online in a Facebook group for people who are fans of Dr. McDougall and his recipes and advice on how to reverse and prevent chronic health conditions with plant based nutrition. Bobby was sharing how he made plant based meals in his 18 wheeler. I was immediately drawn to his story. People kept telling me all the time that the way I eat is too hard, takes too much thought and preparation, and is a diet of deprivation. When I saw how Bobby was cooking meals that looked gourmet in his lunch box oven, toaster oven, microwave, and Instant Pot in the cab of his truck, I was totally impressed and more importantly inspired! I encouraged Bobby, as did others online, to share his story because I knew it could inspire others.

Bobby started a Facebook page called “Plant-Fueled Trucker,” and almost overnight he gained hundreds of followers who were enthralled by his story. He is honest, straightforward, and kind, and his passion for plant based eating shines through all of his posts and photos. Recently, his story was shared with someone at NBC and three reporters traveled with him for three days to live his story and taste his food! If you have not seen this story that aired recently on the Today show, you can watch it at: http://www.today.com/video/this-long-haul-trucker-has-found-the-road-to-healthy-eating-480958531729.

PFT

Since the Today Show interview, The Plant-Fueled Trucker’s story has exploded all over the plant based community. Bobby’s page has over 20,000 followers and the reach of his story is growing by leaps and bounds. He has had offers for interviews and I’m sure he will help thousands to realize that if he can regain his health living out of a big rig 4-6 days a week, maybe they can do it too!

When you think you can’t chop one more veggie or plan one more meal, think of Bobby and his commitment to get healthy and stay healthy and know you are not alone!

Remember to have fun with your food and enjoy!


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And the winner is!…

winner 2Bonnie Bradley wins the Veggie  bracelet from Veggie Republic with her entry of her favorite veggie, the potato! Winner was randomly chosen from the entries received here on the blog. Bonnie can pick from one of the 7 bracelet colors-black, fushia, indigo, lt blue, lt pink, natural, or yellow! Bonnie, send me a private message with your address and your color choice so I can send you a bracelet! Congratulations!

Remember to have fun with your food and enjoy!


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Rice and potatoes in the same dish? OR for the love of curry!

My daughter traveled to India a few years ago, and when she returned, she was missing the flavors and aromas of Indian food, the colors of India, the sounds, and most of all she missed the kind and hospitable people she met.

Indian fruit indian market 2 indian market bindi powder 2 Indian musicabelle indian friend
My husband decided to make her a veggie curry to remind her of India after her return home. He found the recipe in a book by Tony Levin, “Beyond the Bass Clef.” Levin is an American bass player who has played with a lot of English bands, including King Crimson and Peter Gabriel’s band. According to my husband, he decided he had better learn to make a decent curry for his English musician friends as this is what you eat in England “when you don’t feel like eating English food which is always.” Apparently Indian takeout is a thing there.  The first time my husband made this dish, we were still eating the standard American diet and I thought the whole dish was ludicrous–no meat, crazy Indian spices, and worst of all, two starches in one dish, rice AND potatoes! We ate a very traditional diet with one starch, one vegetable and one protein source, usually animal based, on our plates. So when my husband decided to make this again last night for us, I was reminded of my first taste of Indian cuisine 5 or 6 years ago. Only this time, I LOVED it, even though it had rice AND potatoes! The cauliflower worked really well, too. It soaks up the spices well. He also added peas and carrots and onions.

curry in skillet Veggie curry Tony Levin

Now we eat Indian dishes regularly and even have a favorite Indian restaurant, New Amber Indian Restaurant, in Moosic, PA. I love the spices, the aromas, and just everything about the food. They know our order by heart at New Amber and I’m planning on adding more Indian dishes to our repertoire here at home. My favorite dish when we eat out is Sabji Jalfrezi. It has tons of veggies and is nice and spicy.

sabji

Not only are Indian dishes flavorful and delicious, but there may be some fabulous health benefits. The cancer rates are much lower in India than in the U.S. and according to Dr. Michael Greger of Nutrtionfacts.org, “Several factors may contribute to the low overall rate of cancer in India. Among them are a relatively low intake of meat, a mostly plant-based diet, and a high intake of spices and seasonings with anticancer properties.” Here is one of his videos on the topic, and there are many more on his site about the anti cancer and anti-inflammatory benefits of curcumin, the yellow pigment in turmeric.

So, if you think you don’t like Indian food, give it another chance. You may find you were missing out on a taste explosion and some incredible health benefits, too!

Remember, have fun with your food and enjoy!


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Teach your children well…introducing Annabelle!

Twenty three years ago our beautiful Annabelle Rose arrived on the scene. Surrounded by my husband,  nursing students and a stern older O.B. nurse explaining to me that I could not scream and push at the same time, she arrived after a speedy 6 minutes of pushing and weighed in at 5 lbs 12 oz.

Annabelle and Ben

Her big brother Ben thought she was pretty neat and insisted we call her “Bart Simpson.” Instead we named her after my Aunt Annabelle who was well loved by everyone in the family and overcame many obstacles to raise her own beautiful family. Annabelle had a healthy appetite from the beginning and I always thought it was fun and an important learning experience to allow she and her brother to help in the kitchen despite any messes we might make.

ez bake ben and abelle in kitchen abelle highchair

We also made a point to eat together as a family every evening and though the meals could be pretty creative when times were tough, Annabelle and her brother were adventurous eaters and rarely fussed about their food. Annabelle went through a phase where she wasn’t crazy about veggies, but we just kept putting them on her plate and encouraging her to taste them and before we knew it, broccoli was her favorite veggie and she was asking for more. People were often amazed our kids ate more exotic foods like pesto and not just chicken nuggets and hot dogs.

dinnertime

We were pretty smitten with this joyful little girl and before we knew it she was off to the first day of kindergarten. She had to be the first one in line to get into the school and hurried down to her room to start the adventure her brother had been on that she was missing. It’s hard to believe she just graduated from college this month with her bachelors degree in Social work.

 Kindergarten abelle grad

When I decided to take the plunge into plant based eating 2 1/2 years ago, Annabelle was the first one I asked to come along with me on my adventure. She said that of course she would, and  reminded me that when she was in middle school she wanted to become vegetarian and I blew her off. Oops!  Annabelle and I went on that day I invited her to our plant based adventure for our first plant based grocery trip and she helped me make our first official plant based meal from the Forks over Knives cookbook. Even though she had to return to college after that Thanksgiving weekend, she dove right in, found plant based options in the college cafeteria, and began her love affair with plants. Even though her options were limited, she found a way to make it work and lost over 20 lbs and had almost complete resolution of a digestive issue the gastroenterologist could not solve. She could have done a risky procedure to diagnose and treat the issue that was suspected, but her chances of developing pancreatitis was around 50% and that was not a risk worth taking. I don’t remember the last time she called to tell me she was awakened with debilitating abdominal pain.

Annabelle is now pursuing her Masters degree in Social work and living in her own apartment. Even though she has an internship Monday through Friday and class on Saturdays, she and her fiancée Rob, have been cooking beautiful meals together and she has been texting me pictures of their dishes!

Annabelle and RobHere are some pictures of their colorful, nutritious meals:

kale pesto salad stir fry prep stir fry veggie burgers veggies for roasting curry curry plated caouiflower wings burritos

We love you Annabelle and are still smitten and very proud of you!

me and abelle

Remember to have fun with your food and enjoy!