The plant based nurse

My family's excellent adventure to better health!


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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!

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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.

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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!


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A Shout out to PBNSG and MANY thanks to Engine 2!

Many months ago, I made a new friend through plant based eating and living, Paul Chatlin. We met online through one of his Plant Based Nutrition Support Group (PBNSG) members who found her way to my Engine 2 facebook group for my local Engine 2 friends. We have talked on the phone several times and since we “met” his group has grown to over a thousand members! Paul led a chat  on Engine 2 Extra and if you haven’t read his story about how he reversed his heart disease with the help of Dr Esselstyn, you can read it here at: http://www.pbnsg.org/our-start/.

His group really is a model for other plant based groups and I know of no other like it. He has large group events and has had Rip Esselstyn and Dr. Esselstyn come to speak in Michigan. He also has small neighborhood groups for people to meet for support and ideas.  He recently had the “culinary curator” for his web site call me to see if I would contribute some recipes for their site. I hesitantly said yes, knowing I really don’t have that many original recipes and don’t consider myself a “chef.”

I then realized that two of the 4-5 recipes they wanted could be ones I created for recipe challenges on Engine 2 extra, my Scrumptious squash with rosemary apples and Thai soup with kale, carrots and ginger. The other two are old standbys I make almost every week, chili and pasta sauce. SO, Thank you to Engine 2 and coaches Ami and Char for challenging us to be creative and use delicious, fresh, and simple ingredients to make good meals! The link to my recipes is at: http://www.pbnsg.org/recipe-collection/?tag=Jean+Hayes. Check out all the site has to offer and challenge yourself to try something you never thought you could do!

PBNSG Thai soup


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Plant-based in Vegas, an oxymoron?

 

Life has been busy here since we got home from a great spring vacation in Las Vegas.  Vegas was surreal, interesting, and fun. We saw a a fabulous Elton John show which was one of the highlights of  our our 3 night stay.

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We also enjoyed getting out of Vegas better than when we hung around the casinos. We don’t gamble so the casinos don’t have much allure for us. However, so many people tell us how much they love Vegas so we wanted to experience something new and different.

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We rented a car for a day and a half and drove to Hoover Dam, Red Rock canyon and  Valley of Fire state park. The landscapes were outstanding! These were the scenes that will draw us back to the Southwest.

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So, down out of the clouds and back to the food. Without a car and a lot of cash in the casinos, it was hard to find really tasty plant based options. Our first day in town we were really hungry and tired and decided to try out the buffet in Harrah’s. We were able to find salad, veggie lo mein,  bean tacos and fruit. Some of it was a little greasy but some of it was half decent. We definitely did not get our money’s worth but our bellies were full.

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We saved a little money on lunches by finding a Chipotle in The Venetian and a Subway on the way back from Hoover dam. Our best lunch was veggie sushi and a big veggie noodle bowl at a nearby Whole Foods Market.

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Our first splurge was at Spago at Caesars. They accommodated us by making me a pesto dish without cheese and my husband had meatless tomato sauce. My pesto we good but I got so hung up on the cheese I forgot to ask them to ditch the oil. I had gemelli pasta for the first time and unfortunately it tasted overcooked to me.

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By far our most tasty and expensive meal was at Wynn at the Lakeside Grill. It was more than a meal. It was an experience. The waiter shared with us that when the owner, Steve Wynn, went vegan a couple of years ago he had each employee watch documentaries about the vegan lifestyle like “Forks over Knives.” Every restaurant in Wynn has veg options and there was a crazy unexpected show in the lakeside garden outside of the window at the restaurant. We were relaxing with our dinner and all of a sudden, this huge frog popped up from behind the waterfall and started mouthing the words to, “What a wonderful world” by Louis Armstrong. There were also two dancing flowers later and two other shows that are just to hard to describe here!

Wynn

Frog

We both agreed the meal was excellent. We shared grilled asparagus with balsamic vinegar and I had “clam” chowder with oyster mushrooms and cashew cream, organic red quinoa with roasted tomatoes, mushrooms, and zucchini, and we had our one dessert of the week, a small piece of vegan carrot cake.

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Wynn meal

cake

I think the cleanest and cheapest meal I had in Vegas was in a small Mediterranean restaurant late one night on Fremont Street. It was simply a bowl of rice and steamed veggies with a light tomato sauce.

veggie bowl

So, while it wasn’t easy to find tasty, healthy plant based options in Vegas, it wasn’t impossible. The best part of the trip was spending time together and getting away from the everyday craziness. We walked together, relaxed by the pool, and just enjoyed being somewhere completely different for a bit.

hands


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I love you, that is all…

Ok, so I admit it, I LOVE to talk about food and its relationship to health and wellness and how it can prevent and reverse disease. My family tells me I tend to be obsessed. I’d like to think of it as passion, not obsession, but I get it. I can be a bit much at times.

In light of my father-in-law’s recent illness, I have begun thinking more seriously about the claims that love and support can make us healthier and happier and help us live longer. I have been trying to be more conscious of taking the time to do those important small things like saying, “Hello, and how was your day?” when my husband walks in the door and not slamming him with problems or questions when he gets in the door. I have even been remembering to give him a hug and a kiss when he gets home. I know, ewww. However, these small intentional changes were noticed and it helps me transition to the evening and small moments of joy are always welcome.

I watched a documentary online today that includes some segments by Dean Ornish about the importance of love and support. The documentary is called, “The Connection: Mind your Body,” and it speaks to the power of the mind/body connection and it’s power to help us heal ourselves. You can watch it for free today and tomorrow and then you can download it to stream. It is a very hopeful film and features several cancer survivors. I am very intrigued by the power of meditation and yoga for healing and the film did address the power of these ancient disciplines. Here are some thoughts from Ornish about love and support from his web site:

So, let’s get back to basics and remember to look for ways to give and receive love right where we are. I am reminded of the story of a woman named Jean Christy who called her pastor to ask what she could do for her church. She was 104 at the time and was appointed as her church’s birthday ambassador. She estimated she called at least one person a week to offer birthday wishes. If she could spread a little love and joy at 104, what’s holding us back?IMG_20150320_195425


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Glad to be part of Gary’s gang!

It has been a little quiet at the plantbasednurse.com lately. I have not been feeling terribly inspired as our focus has been on a wonderful member of our family who has been diagnosed with recurrent lung cancer, my father-in-law, Gary.

Gary was diagnosed with lung cancer 3 ½ years ago in the left lung and had the upper lobe of the left lung removed and was declared cancer free. He has been very compliant with all of his medical follow up, quit smoking for good when he had bypass surgery and was very surprised to find the cancer had returned in his right lung.

We are amazed at his positive attitude and his determination to get on with his treatment and do the best he can to beat yet another major health hurdle. He has a fabulous sense of humor and we are enjoying his daily texts in the a.m. which often include the weather report, an update about his sleep, encouragement for our day and a funny quip or joke. Here’s one my husband saved from one of his very early morning texts while still in the hospital:

Ok, it’s 5:30-ever’body up! I can’t sleep-must be layin’ aroun’ too much. Coffee, coffee, where’s the coffee? No problem it’ll be here about 8. Maybe I’ll bug the nurses. Not a good idea-I definitely want to stay on their good side. Ok, I’ll read. See youz later.  

Weather report-16.4 (yes, .4) now, high of 32 (heat wave-ohh, reminds me of a song), rain tomorrow (what? Rain? Really? Yep, really. Get your rubbers out.) Now, to a commercial. Fritos, Fritos, buy more Fritos. Now, back to the news. The bastards, the bastards, they took more of blood! Damn it! He did say I’m the first one up.”

We are also so touched and not a bit surprised by the love and support from his wife Carolyn. They are madly in love and I tell everyone that she is the best private duty nurse. She took fabulous care of her mother and she is a loving and compassionate person.

The thing we keep hearing from Gary, Carolyn and the whole family is that support is essential. They are not asking for medical advice, just good old fashioned love and support. So, in support of Gary’s journey, his brother-in-law’s wife, Sharon, started a Facebook page called Gary’s gang. They have asked all who join his gang to send a picture of him or herself saying “Grrrr” to his cancer. It has been great to see all of his family and friends adding to the Grrrr photos, even his granddog, Vinny, an Italian greyhound adopted by my sister-in-law Laura who wins the prize so far for the scariest Grrrr!

Vinny

So, if you feel so inclined, stop by Gary’s gang and say Grrrrr to lung cancer!

Gary