The plant based nurse

My family's excellent adventure to better health!


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Engine 2 Immersions: Enrich, enjoy, and get your discount here!

Whether you’ve been eating a plant-based diet for years or you’re just plant curious, an Engine 2 Immersion could be just the place for you! I just returned from a magical weekend at The Esselstyn family farm in the Hudson Valley in NY at a 2Forks Event produced by Engine 2 and Forks over Knives. We heard incredible speakers with invaluable information about the why and how plant-based eating prevents and reverses disease. We heard inspiring stories of recovery and self discovery from illness and addiction and met athletes who have achieved incredible goals, all with the power of plants.

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If hearing from and rubbing elbows with the plant-based experts and celebrities isn’t enough to entice you, think for a moment about the delicious plant-based food you will enjoy without having to ask what’s in it or if they can make you a special dish without oil.

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For most of us, just knowing all the right information isn’t enough. A 2Forks Immersion will also give you the practical tools you need to continue your plant-based adventure after you leave. With cooking demonstrations and talks that will give you insight into why it’s so hard to do the right thing for your health since the wrong thing feels so right, you will head for home empowered to make good choices and take your health into your own hands, or should I say your own fork!

Perhaps best of all, you will spend time making new friends and maybe even catching up with other plant-based friends you have met on social media. I find it fascinating to meet the real people behind the online personas and meet people from all around the country and the world. The experts will graciously sign your books, answer your questions, and sometimes even sit with you to listen to the other speakers.

You will leave tired but inspired, educated, and nourished.

You still have two weekend opportunities for fun with Engine 2 and Forks over Knives  this year and one coming up next spring!

Dallas

September 30th – October 2nd 2016

Cleveland

October 28th – October 30th 2016

Pasadena

March 24th –March 26th 2017.

$50 Off Full Weekend Pass using code: BEETS50

2Forks Immersion – Seven Day Retreat 

Mago Retreat Center in Sedona, Arizona

October 3rd-9th 2016

Not only will 2Forks provide incredible plant-based meals to fuel you, but you’ll also experience a full menu of activities: hands-on cooking demos, yoga, hiking on one of the country’s “Top 10 Most Scenic Trails,” a stargazing party, bonfires, live music, plus a few other surprises.

$150 Off Immersion using code: BEETS150 

Visit 2ForksEvents.com .com to Register Today!

And remember to have fun with your food and enjoy!

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Ain’t no party like a Scranton party!

‘Cause a Scranton party don’t stop! If you’re a fan of the show The Office, then you may remember this Michael Scott and Dwight Shrute version of a 90s rap song by Coolio.

I am excited and proud to say that there ain’t no plant-based party like a Scranton party and this April there are plenty of plant-based events for all!

Our plant-based extravaganza started with an article in The The Scranton Times  April 3rd about my efforts to spread the word about the health benefits of plant-based eating and our local group, The Scranton Beets.  It was humbling to be able to tell my story and I hope that it raises awareness in an area which has so many good folks with chronic illness that are preventable with lifestyle changes.

Jean Scranton Times

Today when I got to work, someone in my department told me that a plant-based recipe won the recipe contest in the newspaper, Local Flavor: Recipes we love, and to check it out when I got home. I was thrilled to see that Nadia Naismith Dailey  not only shared a delicious recipe for chickpea salad, but  that she also talked about how her father adopted a plant-based diet for his heart disease which inspired her creativity in the kitchen.

Naismiths

On the heels of all this wonderful press for plant-based eating, tomorrow evening, April 7th at The University of Scranton, there will be a screening of the life-changing documentary, Forks over Knives, sponsored by The Greenhouse Project at Nay Aug. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the movie starts at 7 p.m. There will be plant-based refreshments, too!

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The next event will be a come and go as you please event with displays about plant-based eating, including busting myths about plant-based diets,  tips for families, tasty food samples and resources about how to get started. There will be experienced plant-based people available to answer questions from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. at The Abington Community Library, Saturday April 9th. Screenshot (11).png

On Sunday, April 10th and the 2nd Sunday of every month,  P-BEG (Plant-Based Eating Group) holds a potluck meal at St Peter’s Episcopal Church, Tunkhannock, PA. This is a great no-judgement zone to try out plant-based eating, enjoy a delicious meal, and meet people who have improved their health through their food choices.

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Next is a double header! Two plant-based giants back to back in the Electric City! First is a visit by Dr. T. Colin Campbell, author of The China Study, on Wednesday April 19th sponsored by the Exercise Science Club at the University of Scranton. There will be a screening of the documentary, Plant Pure Nation, followed by a Q & A session with Dr. Campbell.

PPN screening April 19th

The next day, just a few blocks away at The Commonwealth Medical College, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn Jr will be giving two lectures about reversal of heart disease with plant-based nutrition. The 12:15 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. lectures are free and you can RSVP online. Not only will you be informed, educated and entertained by Dr. Esselstyn, but you will also meet his wife Ann, who will give a lively presentation about the How, Why, and Wow of Plant-based eating! The evening will end with a beautiful plant-based meal at The Colonnade. We had a preview of the food in March and the meal was not only delicious but the presentation was stellar!

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The last event for April is Empowered Eating, a group led by Kathy Reap at the Greenhouse Project at Nay Aug. The group meets on the fourth Tues of every month for support and education from 7-8:00 p.m. and is open to those who want to learn about plant-based eating, those who are seeking like-minded people to share ideas and recipes,  and anyone who would like to taste some delectable dishes.

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So, if you live in or near The Electric City and you are plant curious, plant strong, or just want to learn how to add more healthy dishes to your repertoire, come visit us in April!

Remember to have fun with your food and enjoy!

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Puttanesca in a Pinch!

pastaOne of my husband’s favorite dishes is Pasta Puttanesca. He loves everything about it–the pasta, the salty flavor from the olives and capers, and the sauce. To him, it’s the total package. He even tells the servers at our favorite local Italian restaurant, La Trattoria, that he dreams about this dish.

I decided since this dish seemed fairly straightforward, I would try to recreate it at home one evening when I was at a loss for what to fix for dinner. I had everything except capers, and I knew it wouldn’t be the same without the homemade pasta at La Trattoria, but even if I messed it up, how bad could it really be? So here is my “recipe” for Puttanesca in a pinch. I used miso to replace the anchovies used in some recipes and also the extra saltiness of the capers. If you need to restrict sodium due to heart disease or hypertension, just leave it out. If you prefer a smoother sauce, use crushed tomatoes instead of whole tomatoes. In the summer, this would rock with fresh tomatoes!

Puttanesca in a Pinch

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic, minced or chopped
  • 2-3 tablespoons of oregano
  • 1 – 28 oz can of whole plum or San Marzano tomatoes (low sodium)
  • 1/2 of a 10 oz bottle of pitted Kalamata olives, slice olives in 1/2
  • 1/2-1 tsp of miso
  • 1 lb of whole grain pasta of your choosing
  • A few shakes of crushed red pepper
  1. Start a nice big pot of water boiling for your pasta and add it when it comes to a rolling boil. When the pasta is done to Al dente, drain it and set it aside.
  2. While the pasta is cooking, place a small amount of water or veggie broth in a big skillet, heat it up and add the onions and garlic and sauté a few min until soft. You can also start them with no liquid and just add a small amount if they stick.
  3. Add the oregano, crushed red pepper, and olives and heat quickly.
  4. Here’s the fun part. Warning, this is messy. I love the feel of the tomatoes in my hands so I just pluck them out of the can and use a paring knife and roughly chop them as I add them to the pan. Then add the extra juice from the can.
  5. Heat the sauce through or cook it down a little if you prefer, then add the pasta, coat the pasta with the sauce, sprinkle with nutritional yeast if you like,  and serve!

Tips:

If you add capers, just add them near the end and leave out the miso. You can add some of the brine from the bottle also if sodium is not an issue for you.

Serve with a big salad or you can even add some greens in your sauce if you love greens as much as I do. They will make your arteries sing!

Don’t fuss over this dish!  It will be delicious in its simplicity and is difficult to ruin.

It is even better the next day leftover!

Remember to have fun with your food and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

 


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Field trip, friends, and great food!

Yesterday was a sunny day full of new experiences , good food,  great discussions and chance meetings with old friends. A few weeks ago my husband and I decided we were going to take a day to visit many of the ethnic markets in Scranton since we love Indian,
Asian, and Mexican dishes and the wonderful spices and herbs that give them their fabulous flavor.

Before we headed out on our field trip, we made a stop at the South Side Farmers Market. The indoor market is open during the winter and has a variety of vendors with cheese, eggs, hard cider, greenhouse fresh veggies, pickled beets and zucchini, fresh juice, and more.

 

Our first market visit was to La Mexicanita on Cedar Ave in walking distance from the farmers market. We found baskets of dried Chiles, many dried spices, fresh herbs and veggies. They also had some baked goods  and a variety of dried and canned beans and rice. The woman who helped us was friendly and this was a great start to our adventure.

Next we visited Garcia’s Market on Pittston Ave in South Scranton and found many of the same products and I was intrigued by the Chicharrones de Harina that we saw in both of the Hispanic markets. They are  wagon wheel shaped puffed wheat that is fried and then covered with lime juice and salsa and is a popular Mexican street food. I thought maybe they were tomato pasta because of the color, but the package listed red and yellow food coloring. I wonder if there is a healthy version of this snack. I love lime and salsa but try to avoid fried foods. Fried pork rinds also was available in large quantities.

Our next stop was the Hill Section of Scranton and we visited P&P Oriental Groceries and Gifts. It was a tiny store but we found many varieties of rice, including red rice, dried mushrooms, Asian noodles, and a few fresh foods and chili sauces.

One of our favorite stops was at Shiv Shakti market on Ash Street. They had huge bags of basmati rice which is my husband’s favorite and some unfamiliar fresh and frozen veggies we will have to try soon. We picked up some crunchy, spicy, roasted chickpeas for my husband.

We found pickled turmeric and since turmeric is so great for you, we decided to try it, When we opened it at home we found it spicy, slightly sweet, sour and very tasty!

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We also found blocks of sugar cane at both the Mexican and Indian markets. In the Indian market, it was called kolhapri gur.

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Here’s a video of how the sugar cane is cooked in a small factory in India and placed into molds.

While checking out at Shiv Shakti, my husband was talking to the owner about how we have been learning to make some Indian dishes and love the cuisine and he told us about a café they just opened 2 weeks ago called Shiv Shakti Chat House. Since it was lunchtime and we were only a couple of blocks away, we had to check it out!

Chat House sign

The owner of the chat house, Rita, couldn’t have been more helpful AND all of the menu items are vegetarian and only one had dairy! It was great to have more than one choice and we ordered two dishes which were unfamiliar, Sev Usad and Pav Bhaji with biryani. We also ordered Samosa chat, a house specialty. I misunderstood and thought the Samosa was baked and not fried but was mistaken. It was presented in a bowl with a wonderful spicy mix on top with chickpea and onions, tomatoes and spices. The food was fantastic and the spices were just right. Despite the sign out front that said “We serve delicious vegetarian fast food,” everything was homemade except the bread they served on the  side. If you live locally, you will just have to visit for yourself to see how delicious the food is! There was nothing fancy or pretentious about the place, just good hot, spicy, flavorful food and you can watch Indian TV on a big screen from the loft where the guests sit.

Our last stop on our tour was at Shivam Grocery Store on Capouse Ave. Again, we found large bags of all kinds of rice and some great sounding whole wheat multigrain flour.

 

So, we found that while not all of the items in the ethnic markets were healthy, it was a lot of fun to browse and pick up some new finds. Many of the items were also cheaper than in the grocery store.

I had a great afternoon planning a  plant-based educational event with my friend Kathy, then received a surprise call from another friend about an upcoming visit from Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn Jr to Scranton in April for a free lecture and plant-based dinner. I also had another pleasant surprise while grocery shopping as I ran into another plant-based friend from our group, the Scranton Beets!

It was getting late so I made an easy dish I call Puttanesca in a Pinch for our dinner.

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The day ended by catching up with my daughter and her  fiancée about their wedding plans and remembering being young and in love. Hope you’re able to take some time to enjoy some new experiences and  great food with friends and family, and…

Remember to have fun with your food and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 


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Summertime, and the grillin’ is easy…

We are so excited that grilling season is here! We were off to a little bit of a late start at the Hayes house since my husband found that the bottom of the grill had rotted over the winter. In our effort to downsize our possessions we opted for a nice compact grill. It’s just big enough to grill up veggies for the two of us and it works awesome!

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 plated grilled veggies

We had  corn that my husband steamed in the Instant Pot for 8 min first, asparagus, red pepper, onions, and leeks earlier this week. Everything came out great except the leeks which were chewy. Next time I’ll look up some recipes for how to prepare the leeks first. My husband was also craving potato salad, so he whipped up a recipe on the fly and it was delicious.

Scott’s potato salad

5-6 Yukon gold potatoes

1/2 of a 14 oz pkg of extra firm tofu or silken tofu

3 green onions, chopped

1 tablespoon of parsley

1/4 c. of apple cider vinegar

2 tablespoons of country Dijon mustard or mustard of your choice

Freshly ground black pepper

Peel the potatoes or just scrub them if you prefer to eat the peels. Cut them into large cubes and steam until tender. You can steam them in a steamer basket for 15-20 min or use an Instant pot for about 11 minutes. While the potatoes cool, mix the tofu, vinegar, and mustard in a food processor, blender or Ninja bullet. Add parsley or herb of your choosing and pepper and stir and coat potatoes with dressing and serve!

potato salad

We enjoyed the grilled veggies so much that I decided to grill again mid week and I added bean brats to the menu using a recipe adapted by my friend Sharon Euler at Engine2extra from Jeff Novick’s basic bean burger recipe to include brat seasoning and it is spot on!

Sharon’s Bean brats

1 can dark red kidney beans

1/2 cup quick oats

1/2 cup cooked brown rice

3 TB smoky BBQ sauce (it’s not spicy) – you could use diced tomatoes, too or probably even ketchup – you need the moisture.  Jeff’s recipe calls for 2 TB moisture but it wasn’t enough liquid to get them to stick together well.

1 tsp salt (I think I could have left this out completely)

1 tsp pepper

1/4 tsp allspice

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp marjoram

1 tsp sage

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

Mash up the kidney beans with a potato masher.  Add the oats and the rice and the spices and mix them all up together.  Add the liquid and stir and smush it all up til it is all well mixed.

I used my sushi mat to make the rolls and compress them together tightly.  I covered the sushi mat with plastic wrap (to keep the mat clean and to make sure the beans wouldn’t stick to the mat). I took a handful of brat mixture, put it on the sushi mat and used the sushi mat to make them into rolls and tightly compressed them together.

Put the rolls into the refrigerator for about an hour.  This allows the starches to bind the rolls together.

Cook the brats by your method of choice – broiler, skillet or wrap in foil and throw in the campfire!  You have to keep rolling them to get them evenly browned on all sides.

bean brats

Brats ready to go on the grill

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Brat served on a crisp romaine leaf with leftover potato salad and grilled veggies

 

Hope you have fun this summer experimenting with grilled veggies and  bean and veggie burgers and transforming traditional foods into plant strong dishes!

Remember to have fun with your food and enjoy!


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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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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!