The plant based nurse

My family's excellent adventure to better health!


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Day 21, Engine 2 Nationwide challenge, 4 hours in the car and all we got was this stepstool!

Our goal yesterday was to go to Ikea in Conshohocken PA and come home with a new butcher block island for our newly painted kitchen. My husband found the perfect one online and off we went this morning to get to the store when they opened. We finally snaked our way through the store to the kitchen section, only to find they are rolling out a whole new line of products Monday and most of the displays were blocked off with curtains. We finally found someone to help us and found out the item we chose had been discontinued. Ugh. My husband was not a happy man. We left the store with this handy step stool so I wouldn’t fall off of anymore chairs as I did on New Year’s Day trying to reach something on top of the cupboard.

stepstool

 

I did have some time in the car to get caught up on some reading. I have been slowly working my way through Michael Moss’ book, “Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us.”  I heard Moss speak at Plantstock two summers ago and his book is very enlightening. He shares the history of how many of the processed foods we take for granted got their start and the stories about roles food scientists and marketers have played is fascinating. Did you know there is a “bliss point” for salt and sugar, but not for fat? It is the point on the bell curve at which there is the perfect amount of salt and sugar, less and it’s not enough to hook us, more and it just tastes bad. For fat, there is no point at which its too much for our taste buds. That explains a lot!

Salt sugar fat

We also had a fabulous lunch despite our fairly useless road trip. We stopped at Whole Food Market to pick up some Engine 2 hummus, crispbread, and Rip’s Big Bowl cereal and decided to have lunch from the salad bar. I was able to find many oil free options and the food was great! I had tons of greens, including one of my favorites, swiss chard, a wonderful curry lentil dish, wheatberries with pecans and cranberries, lentils with sweet potato and a little of many other veggie dishes that added up to a very full and happy belly!

WFM lunch

I also was impressed that Whole Foods recycles and composts and of course, I enjoyed seeing the Engine 2 diet placards on the tables!

recycle

E2 placard

By the time we got home, I didn’t have as much time to get the kitchen put back together as I had hoped. I did get a little cleaning done and made some Mexican rice to have with our leftover chili and made guacamole and baked corn tortilla chips so my husband wouldn’t feel left out for Superbowl Sunday.

Superbowl supper

chips and guac

Somehow it all worked out, too. My husband did some searching when we got home and found and ordered an even better butcher block island that will fit perfectly where we want to use it and match our kitchen and our needs! Win, win!

Butcher block

Remember to have fun with your food and enjoy!


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Recipe for a plantstrong pizza party, Days 16 and 17, Engine 2 Nationwide challenge!

I have had some requests for the pizza sauce and whole wheat pizza crust recipes from our Engine 2 pizza party last Friday, so I thought I would share them here! First, make sure you invite some good friends over to help you eat all of the delicious food you will be making. Next, set aside a few hours if you want to make your sauce nice and thick. You can go about your day, and just check on it periodically and get your crust rising while it simmers.

Jean’s Pizza Sauce (just a guideline, adjust the ingredients to your taste buds!)

2 medium onions, roughly chopped

A few large cloves of garlic, chopped

Crushed red pepper, a few shakes, or less if you don’t like spicy sauce

2-3 carrots, washed and chopped

28 oz can of low sodium crushed tomatoes

1 container of Pomi no salt added tomatoes (26.5 oz) or 2- 15 oz cans of no salt added diced tomatoes

1/2 of a 6 oz can of tomato paste

A few tablespoons of oregano

A couple of tablespoons of dried basil or fresh basil

Heat up your pan (I use a nonstick stock pot) and add the onions, garlic, and carrots, and sauté until soft. If they start to stick, add a little water or veggie broth. Next, add the oregano, red pepper and dried basil. If using fresh basil, add it just in the last few min of simmering your sauce so it stays fresh tasting. Next, add the tomato paste and heat it up and incorporate the spices. Add the crushed and chopped or diced tomatoes. Stir and let it simmer on low after you get it bubbling. After an hour or two, blend it with an immersion blender to make  it smooth. If you  don’t have one, then grate the carrots before you add them to the sauce. Let the sauce simmer a total of about 4 hours so it cooks down and thickens. Taste and add more of whatever you think it needs. In the summer, we also add zucchini to the sauce. The onion and carrot will help sweeten the sauce so you  don’t need any sugar.

Pizza sauce

You can make your pizza party simpler by using pizza sauce from a jar if you  need to save time. It is  difficult to find  oil free sauce but not impossible. Classico fire roasted pizza sauce is the only one I have found locally that is oil free, but I doubt it is low sodium. Chime in if you have found one!

Scott’s whole wheat pizza crust:

2 cups warm water,105-115 degrees

1 tablespoon molasses

1 tablespoon yeast

1 lb , 9 oz whole wheat flour

1/4 cup vital wheat gluten

1 tablespoon salt (I use about 1/2)

1 tablespoon applesauce

Preheat oven to 375 degrees 

Mix the molasses into the warm water. Sprinkle the yeast on top and give it a few minutes to form a sponge. In the meantime, weigh out the flour. Add about half of it to the sponge along with the vital wheat gluten, then add the salt and the oil. Stir well with a wooden spoon gradually adding the rest of the flour.

Transfer the dough to a Kitchen-Aid or other upright stand mixer and mix, using the dough hook, on the lowest speed to combine the ingredients, adding more flour a little at a time if necessary to keep the dough from sticking to the sides of the bowl. After a minute or 2, increase the mixer speed to 2 and let it knead the dough for 10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Remove the dough from the bowl, divide it into two, cover it with flour, place it on a cutting board, cover it with a plastic bag and let it rise for about 45 min or until doubled in size.

Stretch the dough onto a 14″ round pizza pan sprinkled with corn meal. I like to turn it upside down and slowly remove it from the pan and bake it for 450 degrees for about 6 minutes. I found a new toy recently that helped me stretch the dough. It’s a small wooden pizza dough roller I found at the grocery store and it’s my new favorite kitchen tool!

Top your pizza with whatever you like–  tomato sauce cashew cheez, hummus, fresh veggies, olives, spinach…the possibilities are endless!

Put the pizza back on the stone or back into the oven on the pan with your toppings and bake at 450 degrees for about 10 min or until it’s as crsip as you like.

If the making your own dough is too cumbersome or time consuming for you, you can purchase oil free crusts, although they are somewhat difficult to find. Ann Esselstyn recommends Sami’s bakery crusts, but I found the shipping cost to be a little high. They make a millet and flax crust that looks tasty. You can also use oil free pita or oil free tortillas. I like Ezekiel sprouted grain tortillas.

Let your imagination be your guide, serve your pizza with a big salad and some fresh fruit, or have a salad pizza, and top your pizza with all of your salad fixings!

Remember to have fun with your food and enjoy!

pizza dough rising

pizza roller

spinach pizza 

E2 pizza11

E2 pizza 16

 


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Engine 2 nationwide challenge, days 9 and 10, “The stuff we should be eating has become the decorations on the plate.” -Doug Lisle

It has been a busy couple of days with work, Meditation in Motion class  with Bernie Kozlowski, and gearing up for our 2nd Engine 2 challenge meet up here in Northeast PA. I have been thinking a lot about Doug Lisle and his work on the “Pleasure Trap” as I prepare for our meeting. Doug is a psychologist who collaborated with chiropractor Alan Goldhammer of True North Health Center to write a book that answers the question,  “Why is it so difficult for people to adopt a healthful diet and lifestyle–despite the obvious and overwhelming benefits?” (Foreword, “The Pleasure Trap,” Dr. John McDougall).

It is very freeing to read about how we are wired to seek out the foods that have the biggest bang for the buck, the foods that are high in fat and calories that would have sustained us in times of famine. The problem now is that we don’t have to struggle to find daily sustenance in this country. Most of us can hop in our car and go to the grocery store anytime we need to or have a craving. If we want to cut out all that prep and cooking, we can just go through the drive through where we can get a quick cheap meal laden with salt, sugar, and fat to give us a quick high. Unfortunately these processed foods desensitize us to these unnaturally high amounts of these addictive substances and we need more and more to get the same high. The health problems caused by the standard American diet undermine our happiness, but once we understand that it is part of our biology to crave these foods  that make  us sick but are not part of the diet we were designed to eat , we can shed the guilt and the baggage around the idea of willpower and learn strategies to practice healthy eating!  It is SO empowering to learn that we are not struggling because we are weak and that with the right direction and support we can turn our health around and break free of the pleasure trap!

If you ever get a chance to hear Doug Lisle speak in person, go! He is a captivating speaker and you will learn empowering information while being entertained by his wit and artistry. I had the pleasure of hearing him speak at an Engine 2 immersion called Plantstock the past two summers and I learn something new every time I hear his talk. His book is very enlightening and well worth the read.

Doug and I

Doug autograph

Until you get a chance to hear Doug in person, check out a taste of The Pleasure Trap on YouTube:

 

 

Remember to eat the decorations on your plate and enjoy!

 

 


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Engine 2 nationwide challenge, day 6, and the calm before the storm!

This winter is going to be an eventful one for us. We have some MAJOR repairs that have to be done in our home to make it more livable and keep it from sinking into the earth! We have had problems with a leaky basement and swampy back yard almost from the first day we moved in. So now, we are finally able to do some repair work and have some excavation done to prevent further damage. We are also having some minor work done in the kitchen and spent some time this evening putting some of our staples and pots and pans in boxes so the lighting and painting can be done. We will be able to keep using the kitchen until they are ready to repair and refinish the floors in the living room and hallways and then the real fun begins! We will have to move out for a few days and my dogs and cat will have to be boarded . I do NOT look forward to being away from home and my kitchen and trying to remember everything I need for work. I am already anxious thinking about clearing out all the furniture and then having to put everything back. I keep reminding myself this is a good thing and we are fortunate to be able to have the work done. So, it will be interesting to see how we do with keeping our food healthy in the midst of this craziness while trying to facilitate an Engine 2 diet 28 day challenge group!

Machine

      My back yard

rent a john

Lots of potty humor on Facebook today when my husband posted this!

Ditch by house

Let’s hope this works!

Tomorrow we have our first Engine 2 meet up and I’m really looking forward to meeting some new folks who are coming and getting to know one another as we team up in small groups to make some yummy dishes together. I spent a good bit of my day getting the recipes ready, making sure the ingredient list was complete and shopping for the event and for our food this week. This is my kitchen table full of food and equipment to take to the event at my church tomorrow. We’re expecting about 20 folks! Everyone is bringing some of the ingredients we need and we’ll cook together, enjoy our meal, and watch a video of Rip Esselstyn explaining the hows and whys of the Engine 2 diet.

A big mess

My food today:

Breakfast: Blueberry banana oats with spinach, grape nuts, and almond milk

Lunch: Leftover rice and beans with salsa

Supper: Salad with red wine vinegar, whole wheat penne with tomato sauce


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Engine 2 Nationwide challenge, Day 5, A practice becomes a habit, and then a transformative lifestyle!

As I made dinner tonight, it occurred to me that we have now been practicing our “new” plant based lifestyle for long enough that we have settled on some favorite meals and snacks that have now become “old standbys.” I never would have imagined two years ago when we set out to change our diet that we would get so used to this way of life that we would settle in and find new comfort foods.

I was so convinced when we started on this plant based adventure that this was the best way to eat and transform our health that I hoped it would become a new way of life, but I tend not to be disciplined with maintaining lifestyle changes. The only way I can explain our persistence in this venture is that this way of eating is self reinforcing. We started out practicing it by learning how to cook all over again and the food was so delicious that we made plant based eating a habit. It was not a habit that was painful, wearisome, or forced, but one I joyfully embraced.

Now as we not only enjoy our delicious food, but the physical and emotional benefits of eating a diet full of nutrients and antioxidants, I smile inside whenever I make a meal that we love that I can make without pulling out a recipe that will fill our bellies and comfort our souls. If you are on this journey, find foods that make your soul sing and in time, you too will be transformed!

Have fun with your food and enjoy!

Rice and beans day 5


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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