The plant based nurse

My family's excellent adventure to better health!


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Go Green: Intro to Plant-Based Eating

I was fortunate to to share my story this week with employees at The University of Scranton Wellness Day in my presentation, Go Green: Intro to Plant-Based Eating. I explained how I stumbled upon plant-based eating through the documentary Forks Over Knives and changed my lifestyle and saved my marriage.

I hope that the information I presented about the rates of chronic illness in our country, our state, and our county and the good news that chronic disease does not have to be a death sentence had an impact on the attendees. My wish is that they will add more whole foods to their diet and and try some new foods and recipes they may not have considered before.

In addition to talking about the science behind the health promoting effects of plant-based eating, I also demonstrated two recipes and brought two desserts so that everyone could sample plant-based foods. I promised to share the recipes here, most of which were from the Plant Pure Nation Cookbook by Kim Campbell. I love her recipes because they are not only delicious, but also affordable, and simple. The flavors, however, are rich and satisfying. I find they are great recipes to use when introducing people to plant-based foods to show we don’t eat just twigs and berries.

I often use The Creamy Kale Salad recipe to demonstrate how to massage kale to break down the cell walls and make it more palatable for those who find it a little too wild or harsh for their taste buds. It also provides a great opportunity to get at least a couple of folks out of their seats to don gloves and join in the fun. I received a lot of positive feedback about the ginger dressing for this delicious salad. The acid in the lime juice and the plant-based fat from the almond butter in this dressing really complement one another well and the ginger gives it a great zing along with its well known anti inflammatory properties!

Creamy Kale Salad, p. 107, The Plant Pure Nation Cookbook

I wanted to demonstrate a hearty, savory dish also, so I made one batch of Creamy African Stew to keep warm in the crock pot for sampling and prepped ingredients for a 2nd batch to demonstrate how easy the dish is to assemble in the Instant Pot pressure cooker. It is truly a no fuss dish as the ingredients can be added to the pressure cooker in no particular order and it cooks quickly in 6 min on manual pressure. Just stir and serve when the pressure is released! This dish has something for everyone with the richness of the peanut butter and the light coconut milk, the textural interest of the chickpeas, and just the right amount of heat from the curry powder. This is a very affordable dish at a total cost of $8.60 for 6 servings, or $1.43 per serving. One of the attendees loved it so much, he told me he was going to make it for dinner that night!

Creamy African Stew, p 266, The Plant Pure Nation Cookbook

Two of my favorite plant-based desserts feature chocolate and I made them ahead of time to share. Kim Campbell’s Chocolate Power Bites require very little prep and no baking. The only ingredient that is processed at all is the cocoa powder and it is a great party dish.

Chocolate Power Bites, p. 291, The Plant Pure Nation Cookbook

The second dessert was Chocolate Cream Pie from Rouxbe. This is a family favorite on the holidays and is more rich and decadent so just a bite was plenty for a sample. I made pie bites in mini muffin liners and the recipe made more than enough for the whole group. I pressed the pecan maple crust into the bottom of the liners and then spooned the filling on top, but I plan to pipe them with a pastry bag next time for a neater presentation. The other reasons I love to bring this recipe along to new crowds is to show that a plant-based diet is not one of deprivation and to showcase the versatility of tofu. Of course, this is not a treat for every day and should perhaps be reserved for special occasions.

I feel blessed to have been invited to spend time at my alma mater for my BSN, The University of Scranton this week. Thank you to Gerry Loveless for recommending me, to Dina Angeloni for facilitating the event and answering all of my questions, to my friend Lori Jewett for helping me set up and clean up, and to my husband, Scott, for bringing my Instant Pot which I left at home!

Remember to have fun with your food and enjoy!

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Fresh local food with Chef James Bolus!

James Bolus mushrooms

James Bolus, executive chef at The Wandering Hen Cafe and Market, did a fabulous presentation on Thursday, March 7th at Empowered Eating Group at the Greenhouse Project at Nay Aug Park in Scranton, PA. He shared his vision with us for healthy, local fare and his efforts to serve delicious food while reducing waste and using sustainable practices. We were able to sample his mushroom veggie burger served on crostini and topped with homemade tomato jam, fresh pea and beet microgreens, and crispy, dehydrated onions. He was generous to share this fantastic, easy, and affordable recipe with us!

Mushroom veggie burger recipe:
In food processor:
1 bunch parsley
1 onion
2 cups cooked chickpeas
Then mix in by hand:
1 cup mushrooms of choice (chopped and sauted lightly)
1 carrot (grated)
3 cups cooked sprouted black beans
2 cups cooked sprouted quinoa
1/4 cup flax seed
1 cup chickpea flour
1t baking powder
1t cumin
1t paprika
1 t coriander
1/2 t black pepper
1T salt

Remember to have fun with your food and enjoy!


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Eating away your Type 2 Diabetes!

plants

Hope for diabetes! We are not doomed by our genes and there is an easy, inexpensive, and delicious way to prevent, improve, and for some, even reverse type 2 diabetes. Come to the Greenhouse January 24th at 6 p.m. to learn more!

Dr. Saul Rigau and nutritionist, Lisa Rigau, MS, BSN, RN will provide an interactive lecture about how a Whole Foods Plant-Based Lifestyle can be used to better control or even reverse your type 2 diabetes!
Learn:
• The difference between the three types of diabetes.
• The root cause of type 2 diabetes.
• Taste healthy plant based snacks
• Bust some myths about eating carbohydrates.
• How good habits can overcome obstacles to better health.
Resources for people with diabetes will be shared to help you or your family member with diabetes take their health to the next level!
Saul Rigau, DO, FACOEP is board certified in emergency medicine for the past 25 years, is Board Eligible for the American College of Lifestyle Medicine, and is a graduate of the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies Plant-Based Nutrition Certificate,. His lifestyle medicine goals are to educate the public on how a change in lifestyle can help stop, reverse, or possibly eliminate chronic diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
Lisa Rigau MS, BSN, RN is a health and wellness nutritionist, who owns Healthy Lifestyle Management, a nutrition and wellness counseling firm, educating in the community for the last 16 years. She is a graduate of the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies Plant Based Nutrition certificate. Lisa is also a certified Mindful Eating – Conscious Living teacher and a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction teacher She and Saul have been practicing a Whole Foods Plant-Based Lifestyle together for four years.
Suggested donation $5.00. Healthy snacks will be served.
The Greenhouse Project is located in the James Barrett McNulty Greenhouse, 200 Arthur Ave., Scranton, PA in Nay Aug Park. Please park adjacent to greenhouse or in parking lots at Nay Aug Park or on meters in neighborhood. (Greenhouse is located southwest end of park across street and down from Geisinger CMC.)
Diabetes is a growing epidemic in the US affecting nearly 30 million people according to the CDC as of 2014, and we have not escaped this devastating trend in Pennsylvania with 12.8 % of our residents afflicted. In addition, 3,505,000 Pennsylvanians, 35.8% of our population, have prediabetes with higher than normal blood glucose levels but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes yet. We can all think of a family member, friend, or acquaintance who has been touched by diabetes and its serious complications such as heart disease, stroke, amputation, end-stage kidney disease, blindness, and even death.

RSVP by email to empoweredeatingplants@gmail.com or on the Facebook event

Sponsored by The Greenhouse Project and The Scranton Beets


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Taking the Die out of Diet!

Free lecture  coming up Thursday, October 5th at 5:30 p.m. at the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine followed by dinner with The Scranton Beets at Thai Rak Thai in Scranton. Seating at lecture is first come, first serve  at the lecture and registration link is  below. Please e-mail Jean @ buzzrn@epix.net if you would like to be included in the dinner reservations for 7 p.m. at Thai Rak Thai. Hope to see you there!

If you are in or near Northeastern PA, this is a great opportunity!

ALL ARE WELCOME!!
“Taking the die out of diet”
Kim Williams, MD
Chief of Cardiology, Rush University Medical Center
Past President of the American College of Cardiology

https://tcmc.edu/events/preventive-medicine-lecture-series-kim-williams-md/

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Meet Mike: An unintentional self study in health and wellness!

Meet our friend, Mike Vasey! We met Mike and his wife over 30 years ago when my husband was a student at Penn State University. We reconnected recently online and much to our surprise, we had both stumbled upon the news that plant-based eating can not only prevent, but also reverse many chronic illnesses. As a university professor and critical thinker, Mike was attracted to the science behind the positive effects of a plant-based diet.
Hear Mike’s story in his own words:
One problem with the many positive testimonials regarding the health impact of a plant-based diet is that one cannot be completely confident the dietary change was the cause of the improved health. Don’t get me wrong, I find it pretty compelling when longstanding conditions change when diet changes. But one still lacks a hypothetical counter factual – a way of estimating how the person would have done without the dietary change. That’s where controlled experiments come in. One way to add a hypothetical counterfactual is to reverse the change to see if weight, cholesterol, etc. go back to where they were before one started. Then one can re-institute the dietary change and see if things improve again. That is known as an ABAB single-subject research design (A = baseline, B = intervention).
Unintentionally, over the past five years I have done such a reversal study on myself regarding the impact of a plant-based diet with no added oil. Five years ago I chanced upon a local broadcast of a talk by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr. on reversing and preventing heart disease with diet. I have a strong family history of heart disease – my father had at least five heart attacks – so the topic piqued my interest. I found Dr. Esselstyn’s data compelling so I decided to give it a try. At the time my total cholesterol was 200 (it had reached a high of 237 some years earlier, which prompted some improvement in my eating habits [translation: I ate less sausage and similar things]). My weight was about 208. I am about 6′ 2″ so my BMI was 26.7.
With very rare exceptions I was successful in following the Esselstyn diet. It took about six weeks before I found it to no longer be a challenge. By then, I had identified things I liked to eat and had modified recipes to be oil free. It helped that I tend to eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch every day so once I had those two meals figured out (oatmeal with bananas and dried cranberries for breakfast, a big salad for lunch) only supper was an issue. I tended to cook a few one dish meals (e.g., lots of soups) on the weekend and eat them during the week. Between meals I snacked on fruit and veggies.
Based on Esselstyn’s book , I expected things to change fairly quickly and mostly they did. I was on two blood pressure medicines at the time, mostly to control cluster headaches but also due to mild hypertension. Within two weeks of eliminating oil from my diet my blood pressure dropped to the point that I was light headed when I stood up. With my doctor’s consent I dropped the med that was unrelated to cluster headaches and things went back to normal. Simultaneously I started losing weight. After one month my weight was 196 (BMI = 25.2) but my total cholesterol hadn’t changed much, dropping only to 180. After six months I had lost 27 pounds to 181 (BMI = 23.2) so I expected my cholesterol would follow suit. However, when I completed a biometric screening for work at the six month mark, my cholesterol was still 180. That was a bit discouraging since my goal was to get it below 150, the threshold below which nobody in the Framingham Heart Study had a heart attack. But I kept at it and after a year and a half my total cholesterol was 154, which was very near my goal. And my weight was down to 172 (BMI = 22.1). Eventually my weight bottomed out at 170 (BMI = 21.😎) and my total cholesterol stayed below 130.
Then about 18-months ago, I went through a prolonged stressful period and I got lazy regarding my diet. I essentially went back to baseline in terms of my diet. I tended to eat whatever was easiest and that was often something processed and high in fat. Predictably, my weight went up until it was 196 (BMI = 25.2) at my annual biometric screening on 9/12/16 and my total cholesterol was back up to 198. Added to that, my A1C was 6.1, which is borderline diabetic and diabetes is something else that runs in my family. Needless to say, those numbers got my attention. So I immediately went back to the all plant-based, no added oil diet. After nearly five weeks I had my blood work redone by my doctor. My total cholesterol had dropped by 27 points to 171, my weight was 188 (BMI = 24.1), and my A1C was down to 5.5, which is still high but in the normal range.
Between then and now (12/26/16) I spent a week in Belgium and while eating plant-based was mostly possible (hey, beer is plant-based!), forget the no added oil part. We also had Thanksgiving and Christmas and I must admit to straying a bit with all the holiday goodies around the house (my family does not follow my diet and that can be challenging at times). Nevertheless, my weight is now down to 182 (BMI = 23.4) and I expect it to keep dropping. I’m sure my cholesterol and blood sugar will follow suit. I’m glad to be back on a healthy path.
 mike-vasey
Mike with the tallest man skeleton at the Mutter Museum in Philadelphia


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Why is Nutrition Ignored in Medicine?

Free program at TCMC Wed November 30th at 5:30 p.m. “Why is Nutrition Ignored in Medicine?” by T. Colin Campbell. This is part of the Preventive Medicine Lecture Series at The Commonwealth Medical College. There will be continuing Education Credit for medical professionals, too! Open to the public and all are welcome.

For decades, Dr. T. Colin Campbell has been at the forefront of nutrition education and research. Dr. Campbell’s expertise and scientific interests encompass relationships between diet and diseases, particularly the causation of cancer. His legacy, the China Project, is one  of the most comprehensive studies of health and nutrition ever conducted. The New York Times has recognized the study as the “Grand Prix of epidemiology.”

For out of towners, Scranton is about two hours away from Philadelphia and NYC.

CALL OR GO TO THE WEBSITE ON THE FLYER BELOW TO REGISTER. YOU WON’T WANT TO MISS THIS GREAT PROGRAM!

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Soup’s on! Scott Yum Soup, that is…

img_20161106_202405My husband was craving noodle soup this week and I finally decided to make it for him. Two bowls later, I’m not sure if I really made it for him, or for myself!
One of my favorite soups is the Vegetarian Tom Yum soup at our favorite local Thai restaurant but I have not been able to recreate it. I prefer to make soup at home when I can since the restaurant versions are usually higher in sodium and it’s fun to experiment and have a new soup every time I make it.
The first time I attempted a Thai soup, I used a recipe that a friend shared with me but it didn’t have quite the zing we were looking for. Finally, my husband Scott said he thought some fresh lime juice would give it that missing flavor we were craving. I don’t expect this will be the same soup the next time I make it, and I hope that if you make it, you will play with it and make it your own. You can use whatever veggies you like or have in your fridge, add and subtract ingredients as you like and share it with your friends and family!
Here is my version of Tom Yum Soup which I call “Scott Yum Soup” named for my husband Scott. I finally looked up Tom Yum soup and it appears I am missing lemongrass, so maybe next time!
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Ingredients:
64 oz veggie broth
3-4 chopped green onions, white and green parts
1 or 2 thinly sliced carrots
4-5 sliced mushrooms (use whatever variety you prefer)
2-3 tablespoons of fresh ginger, peeled and grated with a ceramic grater or minced in a mini chopper
1-2 cups chopped baby bok choy
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon low sodium soy sauce or Braggs Liquid Aminos
1 teaspoon miso
3-4 oz rice noodles or brown rice noodles
Juice and zest of 1 lime
1 teaspoon Sambal Oelek
Optional: Cubed tofu (extra firm) I like to use an 8 oz pkg of already cubed tofu tofu to make the job quicker. You can use the tofu plain, but I like to drain it and add a splash of low sodium soy sauce, sprinkle the tofu with Chinese Five Spice and bake it on parchment paper for about 20 min at 450 degrees in my toaster oven.
Directions:
1. Pour the veggie broth into a nice big pot on medium heat
2. Add the green onions, carrots, mushrooms, fresh ginger, bok choy, soy sauce and miso and  bring to a gentle boil and cook for 5-10 minutes.
3. Turn the burner off, then add the tofu and the noodles. The rice vermicelli I use just needs to sit in the hot broth for about 2 min. Be sure to follow the directions for whatever kind of noodles you use.
4. Add fresh cilantro to taste, reserve some for garnish at the table
5. Add the sambal oelek, use less if you don’t like spice and more if you love it!
6. Add the lime juice and zest and serve!
7. Serve with extra Sambal Oelek , cilantro, and fresh lime wedges or slices if desired.
A second bowl? I think I will!
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Always remember to– Have fun with your food and enjoy!
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