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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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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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.

Sugar cane

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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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!


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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!

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      My back yard

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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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“This is a song about vegetables. They keep you regular. They’re real good for you.” -Frank Zappa

My husband is a huge Frank Zappa fan, so when my future son in law made us rutabaga soup, I decided I had to pull out this song to play after dinner. According to my husband, to Frank, it was all about the music, the words were just “mouth noise'” most of the time. So if this song doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t matter. Here is “Call any vegetable.”  The rutabaga gets a special mention.

“Call any vegetable, call it by name, call one today when you get off the train. Call any vegetable, and the chances are good, that the vegetable will respond to you.”

We had a busy but stress free day today. After my husband got a new tire for his car after his flat the other night, we met at the jeweler where we bought our wedding bands to get my wedding band resized and get a new setting for my engagement ring as it was worn and the prongs were bent. I had lost my little diamond once before and didn’t want to lose it again. We picked a simple setting like the one I already had but sturdier.

Next I had a wonderful massage by a new friend who recently opened her business, Therapy in the Borough, within walking distance of my house. She is kind and gentle and it feels like she really helped loosen my neck and upper back. I’m always cold so I loved the heated massage table.

I was not looking forward to the mall for our next stop, but my daughter needed a dress for a dance at her fiancee’s med school this winter so off we went. It was quite pleasant and we got two dresses since they were on a great sale and I had tons of rewards to use at the store. She looks beautiful in everything which makes shopping much easier, too!

I was glad my daughter was along for the ride since we needed to get groceries for the dinner her fiancee was planning to make at our home tonight. We always look forward to time with the kids and they do a great job cooking plant based meals. Annabelle is plant based but Rob isn’t, but always modifies any recipes he makes at our home to make them plantstrong. I am so happy he is supportive of her choices as I have seen other spouses who are not only unsupportive but even nasty and try to undermine their partner’s choice to eat plant based.

He chose falafal sliders with tahini sauce and swede (rutabaga) and cardamom soup. My husband loves falafal so he was really excited and I was intrigued by the rutabaga soup. I had only ever had rutabaga at home on the holidays and my mother would boil it, mash it and put butter and salt on it and it was always kind of blah and bitter.

Rob hit this one out of the park! He modified a Gordon Ramsey recipe he found for the soup by omitting the oil, substituting almond mllk for heavy cream, veggie broth for chicken broth, and omitting the butter. He used my immersion blender and we decided it was unnecessary to strain the soup. At the table, we grated fresh nutmeg over our bowls and this was a wonderful treat! Rob brought fresh thyme from his family’s garden and fresh parsley, too, which really made the flavor so fresh. He really worked hard to make this soup look and taste just perfect.

Rob with soup

Rutabaga soup

While Rob was busy perfecting the soup, he gave me directions for the falafal mixture. It was easy and super flavorful. The recipe was from Vegan Splendor and the only change we had to make was to leave out the olive oil. We just used some veggie broth instead. The mixture was a little to wet, so I just added extra garbanzo bean flour and some extra spices and they held together perfectly. We baked them in the oven on a silicone mat at 350 for about 15 min on each side. The outside of the patties were browned nicely and the insides were soft and warm. Rob wanted everything to be perfect and I wasn’t sure if these would stick to the mat, so I did put some veg oil on a paper towel and rub it over the mat and then wiped off any excess. We had the patties in pita with tomatoes and lettuce with the tahini sauce. I made the sauce in my mini chopper, and it was super easy. I made a cup of sauce (1/2 c of tahini, 1/2 c of water, lemon juice and garlic) and we had a bunch left. It was high in fat with the tahini but we tried not to use too much.

falafalfalafal with pita

We were quite full when we finished this feast but we still had to have the black bean brownies my daughter made! She found a recipe from Happy Herbivore and instead of cooking them in a square pan, she baked them in our silicone muffin pan, so no oil or parchment needed. They came out like brownie bites and so even though they were a rich treat, they were small. We did also splurge and have a small scoop of vanilla soy ice cream with them.

browniesBrownie with ice cream

Abelle with hat

It’s so nice to have the kids home, and we did splurge a bit. I wouldn’t recommend the ice cream as a regular treat, as it is very sweet. We usually just have it only once in a while for special occasions and this was definitely a special occasion having the kids home cooking with us. Once my daughter graduates from college in May, she will be starting her accelerated Master’s program right away and this winter break may be the last time we have her home for an extended period of time. I am happy and proud she is doing so well in school and has plans to further her education, but sad she will be moving out on her own soon.


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Support rocks and some interesting statistics!

I was very intrigued today when I saw a post from Julienna Hever, the Plant Based Dietitian on her facebook page referring to a report about vegans and vegetarians in the US. The statistics are based on a sample of 11,000 people and according to the Humane Research Council, only 2% of people in the US aged 17 and over are vegan or vegetarian.

percentage of vegansVeg stats

I find it sad that 63% of people who went back to eating meat disliked that their diet made them stick out from the crowd. I find it fun and exciting that we stick out from the crowd and are different! That is one of the things that actually attracted my husband to this lifestyle. When did anyone ever say that going along with the crowd was the right or wise thing to do?

I also was intrigued to see that 49% of former vegans and vegetarians said they had insufficient interactions with others who follow this path and 84% were not actively involved in a veg group such as a potluck group or online community. That just solidified the importance of all that we do on engine2extra.com, in our local Engine 2 group in NEPA, and in my friend Virginia’s Plant based eating group, P-BEG. Anytime we lend an ear to someone trying to begin this lifestyle or trying to maintain it,or break bread with them it makes a difference. I’m totally convinced that the more we reach out, the more success stories we will hear and the more long term successes we will see. If you would like to share what keeps you motivated to maintain your diet along with the 2%, please share it here in the comments or on my facebook page! I love stories!

Here is Robert Frost’s poem about choosing the road less traveled. This is one of my favorites. Remember, you are on a wonderful journey and keep sticking out from the crowd! It WILL make all the difference!

THE ROAD NOT TAKEN

BY ROBERT FROST

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.