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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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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Meet Debbie! “I don’t want to be in that stent club.”

I met Debbie in August of 2015 at a plant-based potluck I attend in Tunkhannock, PA. She had been invited by her friend and chiropractor, Virginia Fennelly, who was encouraging her to improve her diet and her lifestyle. Debbie had a long rap sheet of health problems and was making  great strides to shorten that list.

In 2014, Debbie saw her primary MD and discussed her concern about her family history of heart disease. She passed all of the screening tests, but her cholesterol was elevated at 200 and she had an uneasy feeling that something wasn’t quite right. When she saw the cardiologist, she was getting ready to leave when she mentioned that she had been getting short of breath climbing stairs. The cardiologist decided Debbie needed a cardiac catheterization and found a major blockage. He was able to perform a stent to relieve the blockage and restore blood flow.  Like most, Debbie thought her heart problem was fixed but she was frustrated that she had to take 40 mg of a statin as her cholesterol was still elevated.

Debbie had always steered clear of fast food and drive through windows, cooked her own food, and cultivated veggies in her garden. She had the tools she needed to make changes along with a strong desire to reverse her heart disease and lower her cholesterol. When Debbie told me she couldn’t understand why she couldn’t improve her numbers, the confidence of Dr. Esselstyn  came over me and I urged Debbie to to go all in, to go 100% plant-based, as dramatic changes can lead to dramatic and wonderful health improvements. I explained that she might see small improvements making gradual changes, but that the best and most exciting  things can happen when we make the biggest changes. I didn’t know Debbie and kept waiting for her to tell me to stop babbling, but she listened patiently while I asked her to look up Dr. Esselstyn on Youtube, grab a copy of his book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, and if she could afford it, a copy of The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease cookbook, and come back in a month and let me know how she was doing with plant-based living.

Debbie took my scribbled notes, went home and went in 100%! She came back the next month to the plant-based pot luck and when I asked her how she was doing, she told me that she was following Dr. Esselstyn’s plan and she had already lost 20 lbs and felt great! At her primary MD appointment 3 months into her lifestyle change, she told the doctor she had lost 50 lbs and she looked at her skeptically and told her to get on the scale. She was blown away by Debbie’s results. It has now been 10 months since Debbie and I met and she has lost over 50 lbs, lowered her cholesterol to 148, her triglycerides to 137 and reduced her statin to 20 mg. Her next check up is in 2 months and she is hoping to get permission to ditch the statin!

Beyond improving her numbers, Debbie is feeling fantastic! She has noticed her energy level has greatly improved and she is saving money on her grocery bills. She says the standard American diet “sure wasn’t cheaper because that stent cost $100,000.” She also noticed that “there is no vegetable that I’m paying $7.99/lb for!” She tells people that eating more fruits and veggies can be more expensive if you’re adding them to the already expensive meat and dairy, but once you ditch those expensive items, it all works out. She is excited she was able to give up dairy as she felt it was her enemy. She remembers going to her father’s home after he died and seeing the empty milk carton right next to his heartburn medication and recently realized her heartburn has completely gone!

Debbie has become an advocate for the plant-based lifestyle and sets a great example of health and vitality for her family and friends. She is saddened when she hears people sharing how many stents they have with one another. She wants them to know that they can prevent risky, expensive procedures just by making some simple changes to their diets.

Finally, Debbie says, “I think it’s the way to go because I don’t want to be in that stent club!”

If you’d like permission to go all in, improve your energy, and most importantly, stay out of the stent club, just do it! Then come back here and let us know how you did it and how you’re doing!

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.

pbeg

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!

Dr. Esselstyn lecture 12 pm

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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Grapefruits and butterflies

A couple of weeks ago I found the most amazing white balsamic grapefruit vinegar at our local store, Thirteen Olives, and I have been anxious to make a fabulous salad with it. I had some beautiful grapefruit in the fridge and finally today I reserved my afternoon to play in the kitchen.

Grapefruit balsamic

 

I learned how to peel a grapefruit with a knife and how to segment it to get rid of the bitter pith and my husband even sharpened the chef’s knife for me.

I took my time and reveled in the texture of the fruit, how the sun shone through the kitchen window and through the thinly sliced pale pink flesh of the grapefruit. It looked so delicate and beautiful like the wing of a newly hatched butterfly.

grapefruit butterfly

It was a gift to have this time to study this sour, yet sweet and juicy fruit which I have far too long neglected.

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I hope to be more intentional not only with my appreciation of the beauty of nature and the nutrition and pleasure it provides for us but also my appreciation of the people in my life who help and care for me along my path.

I was recently overcome with gratitude for all of the friends, old and new, who offered words of encouragement, suggestions for job leads and just pure kindness when we received word that our home health agency was closing. In the course of 2 weeks, I lost my job and gained a new one in which I will retain my benefits, seniority, and will have a position with no after hours call and no taking work home. I hope that the reduction in hours will free me for spending more time living my passion for nutrition and health and loving my family and friends as they deserve.

Grainy Grapefruit salad

If you enjoy fruit and farro, you can find my recipe for Grainy Grapefruit Salad on the Plant Based Nutrition Support Group’s website at http://www.pbnsg.org/ soon.


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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.

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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!