The plant based nurse

My family's excellent adventure to better health!


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Engine 2 Nationwide challenge, day 7, International cook off!

Last evening we had our first meet up for the Engine 2 Nationwide challenge and I may have gone a little crazy, but I think all in all it was a successful evening. At the suggestion of one of our new members, we had an international theme. We had Indian, Asian, and Middle Eastern cuisine and also had some sugar free desserts. I chose some easy recipes and then made an ingredient list and people signed up to bring them. I gave the teams the recipes and they took off and did a great job! I also made the dough for soft pretzels from The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease cookbook and let it rise prior to the meeting. Our two youngest guests, Alex and Alizah formed the pretzels, and then boiled and baked them and made  Dijon dipping sauce. They were outstanding!

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EngineNight_1-18-15 (17)My friend Kelley and I worked on the Chana masala for the Indian portion of the meal and Kim, Susan and Brittany made the aloo tiki patties. I think Christine was on this team, too! I was a little overwhelmed and she took all of these great photos, so she’s not in them. We’ll make sure to snap her next time! These dishes are a normal part of our diet and we love Indian spices, but may have been a little too much for our new folks. I need to remember to ease people into some of the more exotic flavors. They were not part of our repertoire before we started eating this way either. If you have not tried aloo tiki and you love potatoes, you have to try this Northern Indian street food. Check out the recipe at Indian as Apple pie. Just use veggie broth or water instead of oil  bake them at 400 degrees on silicone mats or parchment paper for about 10 min on each side. They were a hit and no leftovers from the two trays that were made!

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Next up was the Middle Eastern crew who made hummus and Quinoa tabbouleh, both from The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease cookbook. They added a raw red bell pepper to the hummus which was wonderful and my friend Gail T. made a tray of raw veggies to dip in the hummus and my husband made home made oil free whole wheat pita at home before the event, too. The quinoa tabbouleh was one of my favorite dishes of the night. The fresh parsley really made it sing and reminded me of summer. It was a little overpowering to some, but I’m finding the stronger the flavors for me, the better. Thanks to Virginia, Gail D., and Nicole for manning this station!

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The Asian cooking crew with Christine, Kristina, Susan, Brittany and Kim cooked up a storm! They made Thai noodle soup before they made the aloo tiki patties. I used Happy Herbivore’s Thai noodle soup as my inspiration and adapted it and quadrupled the recipe. It is SO good, but again, may have been too spicy for some of our folks.

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Michele came with avocados, a sharp knife and a burning desire to make guacamole, which was delicious!

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Our dessert crew with Marlene, Gloria, and Edie made Anne’s pumpkin muffins from “My Beef with Meat,” and decided we didn’t even need the maple syrup and they were sweet enough with the bananas and applesauce! And, we forgot to take a picture of the finished product! They also chopped some bananas and added them to some blueberries Kristina picked this summer and thawed for us!

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My husband, Scott also did a veggie sushi demonstration for us and his sushi is always a hit!

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Finally, we had a giveaway of Engine 2 loot for the person who posted something on our Facebook page every day this past week and Kristina was our rockstar! She posted recipes, pics of her food, and what she did for fitness and I really enjoyed her enthusiasm and hard work diving right into the Engine 2 plan!

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Remember to Have fun with your food and enjoy!

 

 


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Engine 2 nationwide challenge, day 4, “I’m going to eat a ton of these potatoes, because I can!” -The Plant Based Husband

I was really tired tonight, and didn’t want to eat out since we just ate out yesterday. I stood in the kitchen and grabbed things out of the cupboard trying to come up with some kind of concoction. I wanted to make rice and beans, but I only had chickpeas and cannellini beans. So I gave up and left my fire roasted diced tomatoes, beans, and BBQ sauce on the counter and sat down to finish some work and watch you tube videos. I happened to be watching Potato Strong’s channel and I thought, BAKED FRIES, one of the easiest and most delicious meals on the planet! I was also dying to try the BBQ sauce we bought on our field trips to Whole Foods Market on our way home from Philadelphia the other day, so I crumbled up some tempeh and poured some Bone Suckin’ Sauce on top to heat it up to have on the side.

Next I sliced some Yukon gold potatoes and a sweet potato into wedges, no peeling required, topped them with extra spicy and Southwestern Mrs Dash, garlic powder, and onion powder, and sliced a yellow and green pepper and an onion and threw them around the potatoes on the silicone baking mat. The fries baked at 450 degrees for 30 min with no turning or fussing and while they were baking, I put a couple of handfuls of prewashed chopped kale in a pan with veggie broth and lemon zest and put some fresh broccoli in a pot to steam.

Potato fries going into the oven

Potato fries going into the oven

My husband came home to the aroma of potatoes baking in the oven and was excited and said, “I’m going to eat tons of these because I can!” He proceeded to tell me how he loves it when we eat a ton of potatoes and then laugh about how much we can eat. Yes, this is a romantic moment in the Hayes house, a couple of plant based nerds having fun eating potatoes and  laughing about how much we eat!

Have fun with your food and enjoy!

Engine 2 day 4


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Engine 2 Nationwide challenge, day 3, “But if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need!” -Rolling Stones

No time to cook tonight since we wanted to get to our instinctive meditation class after work, so we stopped off at a local Mexican restaurant where they often look at us like we’re out of our minds for leaving the cheese and sour cream off of our plate, but they always listen and adjust the dish to our needs. There is no veggie burrito on the menu, so we just ask them to hold the meat and add extra veggies and grill them or sauté them in water. I also asked for corn tortillas instead of the fried chips to have with the delicious salsa, and I had corn tortillas with my burrito instead of white flour tortillas. The beans are made with vegetable oil and this restaurant does not have the option of ordering plain whole beans, so I asked them to hold the beans and substitute them with extra rice et voilà, I had a huge plate of delicious, filling, and healthy food!

My husband recently had to attend a work function at a local restaurant and event venue that has no vegan options on the menu. He called ahead to see what they could do for him. When he called, he told whoever answered the phone that he wondered if they could prepare a dish for him without meat or dairy and told them he wasn’t fussy. He expected a baked potato and steamed veggies when he arrived. Instead, he was presented with a huge plate of quinoa and veggies with soy sauce that was beautiful and delicious! After all  of the omnivores at the table finished their chicken or crabcake dinners, Scott was still working on his plate and his dinner companions were all admiring his dish.

If you don’t ask, you’ll never know if your favorite restaurant might just accommodate you, too!

My food  today:

Breakfast: Blueberry banana oats with raisins, grape nuts and almond milk over a bed of raw spinach apple cinnamon tea

Snack: Apple and banana

Lunch: Leftover WW angel hair pasta with home made sauce and nutritional yeast and spinach

Supper: Warm corn tortillas with salsa, Veggie burrito with rice on the  side

Engine 2, day 3


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Engine 2 Nationwide challenge, Day 2, Put the scale in the closet!

The evening before the start of the Nationwide 28 day challenge for Engine 2, we were chatting on Engine2extra and the topic of weight loss came up. I tend to be scale obsessed, NOT healthy, and my friend Kirsten, Lady Bug in the Kitchen happened to mention she was putting her scale in the closet for the challenge. I immediately thought it was a brilliant idea and that night when I went to bed, I slid my scale right into my closet, too. There is no good reason for me to weigh myself every day or even a couple of times a week. My BMI is normal, my weight has been maintained at the same level within a 2-4 lb range for the last year or more without dieting and my clothes fit. The only reason I keep weighing myself is out of fear that I will gain the weight back that I lost when I switched to a plant based diet. I guess I can’t believe sometimes that it’s real. I’m so glad that Kirsten’s announcement gave me “permission” to set aside my anxiety and just see what the next 28 days brings and enjoy my food without focusing on the weight. After all, we keep telling people that it’s not about the weight, it’s about getting healthy and the weight loss is just a bonus! I have another friend who has not gotten on the scale over the past year since I met her. Marlene has gone down 2-3 sizes since she joined our Engine 2 crew in PA, but she never gets on the scale and even told the staff at the doctor’s office she didn’t want to know her weight! The person who weighed her was bursting at the seams to tell her because of all of the weight she lost since her last appointment! So, I will join Marlene and Kirsten in freeing myself from a number on the scale and be happy that I feel good, that my labwork results are fabulous, and finally break this love affair with the almighty scale!

My food today:

Breakfast: Blueberry banana oats with raisins and almond milk and kale, of course!

Snack: Banana and apple

Lunch: Leftover rice and beans with salsa

Supper: Happy Herbivore creamy Dijon pasta, balsamic roasted asparagus with Mrs. Dash lemon pepper, and steamed broccoli

Dessert: 3 chocolate cherries (they’re all gone, and I WILL stay out of the spice shop that sells them!)

 Day 2 Engine 2


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Ready to rock plant steady? Educate, immerse, and enjoy!

You’ve tried out a plant based diet and decided it’s for you, but you feel like you still have so much to learn! You may feel like you need to learn everything you can as fast as you can. That excitement will help you maintain your new lifestyle, but don’t wear yourself out. There is so much information and it can be confusing at times. Is coconut oil good for you or evil? Should you eat nuts or avoid them like the plague?

I think one of the most important things in educating yourself about healthy plant based eating is to consider the source. Don’t trust the latest news in the newspaper or the nightly news until you check it out. Often these highly lauded announcements that “research says” are often poorly designed studies funded by the food industry. I don’t have time to evaluate each study for its own merit, so I look to reputable people I trust like Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr. Neal Barnard, Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. T. Colin Campbell and Dr. John McDougall to help me evaluate the latest nutrition information. My first year eating a plant based diet, I bought some wonderful books that have helped me in my quest to learn all I can. Some of my favorites are “The China Study,” “Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease,” My Beef with Meat,” and “The Starch Solution.” There’s no hype in these books, just good solid science and I also appreciate that many of the books contain wonderful recipes. After all, if you’re going to recommend that people change their diet, they need tools to help them with the “how.” pb books I also found a lot of wonderful educational videos by the authors of these books to augment and reinforce what I was learning in the books. Lectures by Dr Esselstyn, Dr. Campbell, Dr Barnard, and Dr. McDougall can be easily found with a quick google search. Some of them even have YouTube channels. Not only are these knowledgeable experts well versed on their topics, but it is a joy to hear them speak. Their passion for healthy living shines through. They make the information understandable, interesting, and yes, even entertaining! Here is one of my favorite videos from Rip Esselstyn:

The last thing we did to immerse ourselves in our new lifestyle was to attend educational retreats. My husband was having some trouble completely getting on board with our new lifestyle. He had worked as a chef and wasn’t quite sure about how to cook without his old ingredients. When I told him about Dr. McDougall’s 10 day program, I was very happy and surprised when he expressed interest. The program turned out be very cost effective even though I was worried at first it might be too expensive. After learning the tools he needed to succeed on a plant based diet, he was able to eliminate 9 of his 10 oral meds and greatly reduce his insulin doses which saved us a ton of money and more importantly improved his health. During the 10 days, he attended lectures about the science behind plant based eating and health, went to the grocery store to learn how to read labels, attended cooking demonstrations by plant based chefs, met Jeff Novick, Registered dietitian and Grateful Dead fan and even went out to eat with the McDougalls to learn how to order healthy plant based dishes without oil. There were also opportunities to participate in exercise sessions and yoga. He didn’t suffer too much at this program since it was held at a very nice resort in Santa Rosa, CA. They had wonderful feasts at every meal and were encouraged to take leftovers to their rooms in case they got hungry. He also got to hike in a redwood forest and looking back at his photo with the redwood tree, I hardly recognize this man from 2013!

June 2013

June 2013

April 2014

April 2014

The same summer Scott attended the 10 day McDougall program, I decided I would go to an event called Plantstock in Claverack NY at the Esselstyn farm. I had been involved with the Engine 2 program and this weekend long retreat was being lauded by the folks on engine2extra.com, as a magical weekend of fun and learning. I found a friend from engine2extra to share a room with at a local motor lodge and it really was magical and fun! We heard speakers like Dr. Esselstyn, T. Colin Campbell, Rip Esselstyn, Jane and Ann Esselstyn, Doug Lisle and more! I met so many wonderful people who had transformed their lives with plant based eating and all outdoors under a giant tent right on the lawn of the farmhouse. I enjoyed it so much that my husband decided to join me for Plantstock 2014 and it happened to fall on our anniversary. It was a great way to celebrate! There are several Engine 2 retreat weekends held throughout the year around the country and even a week long event in Sedona Arizona and the dates for 2015 should be announced soon! Here are some highlights from the last 2 years.

Lisa and I Plantstock friends dr essey tables at plantstock

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So, do you have to spend a lot of money on books and retreats and cute t-shirts to immerse yourself in the plant strong lifestyle? Absolutely not! Dr McDougall has his entire plan on his web site for free with tons of great recipes and Engine 2 is starting a Nationwide 28 day challenge in 2 days on January 12th and you can download all the information you need for free, including a free ebook with guidelines, recipes, gorgeous photos and even exercises to help you dive into a plantstrong lifestyle!

Soak in all the plant based information you can, decide you CAN do this  and rock steady!!


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Lemon garlic hummus with roasted yellow bell pepper and my first cooking video!

I like to make hummus on Sunday afternoon when I get home from church to have for lunch and so I have leftovers for snacks and lunches during the week. I especially love it when we have fresh tomatoes in the garden so I can make hummus sandwiches with fresh greens, tomatoes, and whole grain mustard. Hummus is filling and nutritious and you can use it for so many dishes. For example, if you like 3-2-1 dressing (3 TBS balsamic, 2 TBS mustard, 1 TBS maple syrup), but you want to change it up and give it some more texture and creaminess, just add a little hummus! It’s great on grilled Portobello mushroom, as a snack with raw veggies or in a wrap with a tortilla or a romaine or collard leaf.

Hummus is a great way to add beans to your diet, especially if you’re new to this way of eating and not so sure about eating whole beans yet. I remember before we started eating this way and I used to groan a little inside when my husband would make a dish with beans. Now I LOVE all kinds of beans. They are a great source of plant protein, will help you feel full, are rich in phytonutrients and can help you lower your blood pressure, lose weight, lower your cholesterol and may even be protective against cancer according to Michael Greer, MD from nutritionfacts.org. So eat your beans! Have some hummus, rice and beans, bean tortillas, bean dip, veggie and bean soup, bean salad, or whatever you like.

Today, on a whim, I decided to try to make a video about making hummus. The lighting wasn’t perfect and I had some technical difficulties, but it was fun and I hope you enjoy it!


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Plant determined? Step back and check your numbers!

You’re ready to start an exciting adventure to improve your health through plant based nutrition. Step back for a moment and get a grip on where you stand with your health and check some markers to see where you are before you begin.

You may want to have a checkup with your primary care health provider before you begin if you haven’t had an exam in a while. Have your blood pressure, blood sugar, cholesterol, and weight checked and I like to ask for copies of my results. If you are up to date on your health exams and just want an updated number, you can pick up a home cholesterol kit at the pharmacy. If you have elevated blood pressure, you may want to purchase an automatic blood pressure cuff to self-monitor. As your weight and blood pressure improve as your diet improves, you may need to work with your healthcare provider to adjust medications. It can be dangerous to adjust doses on your own, so always consult with your primary care practitioner. For diabetics, it is important to watch blood sugars closely as you may also need dose adjustments in insulin or oral diabetic medications as your numbers improve. The American Heart Association has some good information about target values for these markers. Dr Caldwell Esselstyn goes further than the AHA by recommending getting cholesterol below 150 along with eating a healthy oil free plant based diet to make you heart attack proof!

Some recommend speaking with your healthcare provider about changing your diet before you start, and some like Dr. Esselstyn recommend just mentioning that you will be trying to eat a more healthy diet and you would like their assistance in monitoring your progress. Many people are so excited, that they want to find an MD who is well versed in plant based nutrition and as excited as they are about their new diet. Unfortunately, this is not realistic for many of us as most doctors have few courses in nutrition in medical school and even less background about plant based nutrition. My husband and I both told our physicians we were embarking on this path and they were supportive and told us to go for it.

It is not our job to educate our physician or provider but they may ask about how you achieved your fabulous results which will give you an opportunity for discussion. Of course, since I have to share my excitement with everyone, I gave my doctor a list of resources and at my last visit, gave her a signed copy of Dr. Esselstyn’s book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease and a copy of his latest study, “A way to reverse CAD?” She probably thinks I’m out of my mind, but if I can help her or any of her patients, it’s worth it. My husband’s doctor wanted to know where this program was that he attended so she could tell her patients about it since he is doing so much better than he has in years. Last June he attended a 10 day program by Dr. John McDougall to help him learn more and get on board with this way of eating.

I was already taking a B12 supplement before I even thought about eating a plant based diet, because on my meat laden diet I was running a borderline low B12 level, but if you don’t know your level, you may want to have it checked, especially if you’re over 50. You can ask your provider what dose of B12 they recommend for someone on a plant based diet. My physician gave me pretty much the same advice offered by Dr. Neal Barnard in this brief video.

If you are super organized, or yearn to be, you may want to organize your health history and your lab and diagnostic study results so you can track how you’re progressing toward your goals. I recently met a fellow nurse at a Holistic health fair, Judy Rienzi, who has developed tools to help people better track and manage their health. She has developed the Connect method to help people organize, guide, and plan for success. I love that she uses the phrase plan for success! We plan for all sorts of things, retirement, vacations, and we even plan for our death by buying life insurance. Why don’t we plan for success in getting healthy?!

Let’s make a plan!

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Rice and Beans “recipe”

My husband’s favorite meal is fast becoming one of my favorites, too! It comes out different every time we make it and it’s always delicious. Just make some rice, saute some peppers, onions, garlic, oregano and red pepper in veggie broth, add some beans, some tomatoes, fresh or canned, some jalapeno if you like, some Southwest seasoning or whatever spices and/or hot sauce you like and you have a cheap easy meal! I just mix the beans with the rice, but my husband adds the raw rice to the veggies in the pan to toast it, pilaf style, then adds the liquid, cooks the rice and then adds the beans near the end. You can’t mess this up! Serve with a salad or some greens and top with avocado or guacamole or salsa if you have some.We make a big batch so we have leftovers. Enjoy!

rice and beans guacamole

beans and rice with guacamole

Beans and rice


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Iron chef challenge #2, Scrumptious squash with rosemary roasted apples!

I didn’t think I was going to have time for this challenge on engine2extra.com between assignments for eCornell and making a dish to take to a going away party for the Sickler family who is a part of our local Engine 2 group and was featured in one of my blogs recently, “Meet the Sicklers.”

I really didn’t know what I was going to do with the ingredients once I roasted the squash, apples, and rosemary. I decided after they came out of the oven and in a flurry of mess making cooking merriment, this is what I came up with right before I jumped in the shower:

I cut 2 acorn squash in 1/2 and roasted them skin side up until they were fork tender at 350° along with 3 cored apples with sprigs of rosemary on top and some on the baking tray. I peeled the skin off of the squash and put the squash in the food processor with the rosemary and some thyme and about a tbs of maple syrup. Then I placed the squash in a pretty dish and saved a ring of squash to place on top. Lastly, I sliced the apples and placed them around the flowery ring of squash, et voila! And it was fun!

Acorn and apples

Acorn and apples going in the oven Roasted acorn and apples finished acorn and apples

Scrumptious squash