Monthly Archives: December 2013

Dad’s visit 12-27-13 through 12-31-13

Friday 12-27

I drove to a shopping center in Huntington Beach to pick up Dad. Kathryn had collected him in Simi Valley and drove him down to the rendezvous point. Thanks Sis! We met about 11:30am. Here’s the amazing part. I had inquired about two reasonably priced tickets to the Chargers last game and it turns out that the seller lived in Huntington. So I was able to pick up the tickets in the same shopping center! Talk about living right.

On the way home, we did a lot of shopping – veggie meats at 99 Ranch, gas for the car, home depot, and Brook’s place to pick up a greywater conversion kit for the clothes washer.

Had dinner and did some food prep and gift wrapping for family Christmas

Saturday 12-28

Did a workout to Gilad video with Dad. It’s pretty fast paced for him, so I’ll look for something more moderate. Dad also tried out my electric razor and liked it. Seems like it would be easier for him rather than lathering up with shaving foam and a straight razor. Prepared salad, Neatloaf, and spanicopita for lunch. Guests arrived after 10am. I gave Dennis a tour of the yard, and he had a few suggestions such as how to make my own faux rock waterfall out of concrete. Then, it was time for Stockings.


Someone ended up with coal in their stocking. I wonder who . . .


Dad shows off the stockings hung from the stair rail.








Nearly every individual item was wrapped, so it is quite a process to open the stockings. It is a fun tradition. IMG_4329

Then, we had a gift exchange. Lynette and Paul were absent due to illness, but they sent their gifts ahead and we included them in the process. Dad ended up with a nice fuzzy blanket. I get a kick out of the gift exchange as the gifts change hands.



Lunch was a sit down affair with a new un-meatloaf recipe, spanakopita, heavenly salad (inspired by the Loving Hut), and pumpkin pie. Yummy and filling.




After lunch, the guys went outside hone their disk golf skills. Dad shows off his form. Donna Jacobs stayed for dinner and a few rousing hands of Skip Bo. Dad won both games. Who knew he was such a card shark.


Later that night, we went looking for Christmas lights. We found some amazing displays, including one whose lights pulsated in time with the music.

Sunday 12/29


Sunday was all about the Chargers game. Donna took off to her ministers meeting and Dad and I prepared food for the game. We took a nap in the sunny back yard, and woke up just in time to drive to the trolley station. The trolley ride was easy, but getting into the stadium was not. The NFL has new regulations. Backpacks, shopping bags, fanny packs, etc are not allowed. So, we had to check our possessions at a remote location in the parking lot before entering. The game was amazing. The Chargers got 10 points behind to a second string Kansas City team, but they managed to come back and tie it at the end, then win in overtime. So, the Chargers made it into the playoffs, against all odds. The fans were ecstatic, and in the commotion, Dad lost his footing and scraped his forearm. Fortunately, no harm done. I’ll have to stick to him more closely, since he is a bit less steady on his feet these days.

Monday 12/30

Dad and I hit some tennis balls in the morning. He tried out my spare racket, and liked it. so, he won’t need to bring his own in the future. After lunch, we


started cooking for another celebration with daughter Taira and her crew. We made acorn squash stuffed with quinoa, pasta for the youngins, cooked Gardein stuffed turkey rolls, spanikopita, and pumpkin pie for dessert. It was great seeing Taira, John, and their daughters Isabella (4+) and Penelope (2). The


girls opened gifts and played with silly putty, our bouncy musical santa hat, and the piano. We even managed to get the girls to pose for a photo with their great-grandfather. Donna and I played a few Christmas songs on the piano, ukulele, and flute. Dinner and dessert were enjoyed by one and all.

Tuesday 12/30

I drove Dad home. Donna had some things to do in San Diego, so she decided to drive up on New Years Day.



Date Balls

Blend in a food processor/Cuisinart: 

15 deseeded Medjool Dates
2 Tablespoons coconut oil

3 Tablespoons raw organic cocoa  
3 Tablespoons of a superfood protein source, like Spirulina or Hemp seeds
2 Tablespoons raw cocoa nibs (gives crunch en lieu of nuts) 
1/8 tsp. Himalayan Sea Salt
(Optional: 1 tsp. alcohol free vanilla extract)
Measure 1 teaspoon of the date mixture and roll into balls. Roll the balls in additional cocoa, ground flax seeds or unsweetened coconut. 
Refrigerate and enjoy. 
Makers about a baker’s dozen

Rip’s Big Bowl



Start your day with this healthy, nutritious breakfast.


1/4 cup raw old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup Grape Nuts or flakes or Ezekiel brand equivalent
1/4 cup bite-size shredded wheat
1/4 cup Uncle Sam cereal
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed meal
2 tablespoons raisins
 2 tablespoons walnuts
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
2 tablespoons protein powder
1 tablespoon hemp seeds
1 tablespoon popped amaranth
2 tablespoons cultured coconut milk
1 banana, sliced
Selections from fruit bowl – grapes, apple, orange, kiwi, melon, berries
¾ cup unsweetened milk substitute of choice (soy, almond, coconut, rice)


Toss all dry ingredients into a bowl.
Cut up assorted fruit and add to the bowl. Slice up one banana in small chunks.
Top the bowl with milk substitute.
In a pinch, simply add water (the fruits blend with the water and give it a sweet taste)

You can buy flaxseeds in bulk and grind them in a coffee grinder.
Store ground flax, hemp seeds, amaranth, and cultured coconut milk in the fridge.
We obtain the amaranth from a local grower. It should be more widely available in time.
You can store equal amounts of the four cereals in a large tupperware container. Mix well.


Kater Lunch Wraps

10 inch flour tortillas, burrito or burrito grande size
1 (8 ounce) container of Tofutti, Better than cream cheese, softened
ripe avocados

- about ½ avocado per tortilla
Thin slices of mock ham (Ranch 99). Can also use any meat substitute such as Chick’n Scallopini (Gardein), Chick’n strips, veggie patties, etc. I’ve tried the mock deli meat, and haven’t found any that I like yet.
Fresh basil – several leaves of sweet basil, or a bunch of Thai basil leaves.
sun-dried tomatoes. Can use craisins or other dried fruit instead.
red leaf lettuce – rinsed. Two or three leaves per wrap
Optional ingredients: cooked quinoa, olives, cranberries, hemp seeds, roasted red peppers, sprouts, vegan cheese, shredded carrots, celery, and red cabbage.
1. Spread each tortilla lightly with cream cheese. Spread avocado next. Arrange a few ham slices (or other mock meat) across the middle of each tortilla. Add a layer of fresh basil, then a layer of sun-dried tomatoes. Do not place ingredients too close to tortilla edges. Add some of the optional ingredients at this point. Finish with lettuce; use enough leaf lettuce or sprouts to cover across the center of each tortilla. Make sure you have some of the frilly leaf edge hanging over each side; this will keep the ingredients from spilling out the rolled tortilla.
2. Starting at one end, tightly roll up each tortilla. They are ready to enjoy or store in the fridge for later.
3. For travel, we toss several wraps in a plastic bag and throw it in a cooler.


White Bean and Greens Soup

Loaded with protein (and fiber, too!) this wintry soup makes a hearty and nutritious meal. Season generously with dried herbs of your choosing and top each steaming bowl with a veggie based Parmesan style topping.

1 bunch kale, very coarsely chopped
1/2 bunch chard, very coarsely chopped
1 big yellow onion, diced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
5 medium tomatoes, diced large
6 cups vegetable stock
1/2 teaspoon crushed red chili flakes
1 1/2 tablespoons mixture of dried herbs such as thyme, basil, marjoram, or oregano
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup coarsely minced parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large soup pot. Sauté the onion for a few minutes until it begins to soften. Add the garlic and chili flakes and sauté another minute. Stir in the tomatoes, kale, chard, and about 2/3 of the beans. Add 5 cups of stock. Bring to a boil and simmer a few minutes.

Puree the remaining beans with the last cup of stock in a blender and add to the soup. Simmer another 15 minutes or until the kale is tender. If you have one, use an immersion blender to thicken the soup. Alternatively, you can add some of the soup to a blender, puree it, and return it to the pot. (Be sure to leave an opening in the lid so the steam escapes and the top doesn’t blow off.) Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the parsley.

Serves 5

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories: 256
Fat: 7 g
Saturated Fat: 1 g
Trans Fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0 mg
Carbohydrate: 42 g
Fiber: 12 g
Sugars: 8 g
Sodium: 466 mg
Protein: 12 g

See related post: The Power of Protein

The Power of Protein

Here is an article I ran across from Kaiser Permanente on protein. I veganized it a bit – swapping out dairy references for plant-based alternatives.

Protein plays an essential role in health, and it is found in every cell, tissue, and organ in the human body. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a daily intake of 56 grams of protein for adult men and 46 grams of protein for adult women.

Big steaks, juicy pork chops, mouth-watering chicken — these are the foods many people associate with protein. The surprising truth is that protein can be found in a variety of other foods. In fact, cutting back on meat sources of protein can have a positive impact on the amount of fat you consume.

So if you’re hungry for delicious ways to make great food choices, consider these protein sources:

  • Nut milk: unsweetened soy milk
  • Legumes: beans, lentils, soy, tofu
  • Vegetables and fruits: peas, broccoli, spinach, kale, avocado
  • Grains: quinoa, brown rice, barley
  • Nuts and seeds: peanut butter, pumpkin seeds, pistachios, almonds

Get creative with your cooking. Try a spinach and tofu scramble for a high-protein breakfast. Or combine black beans, brown rice, and avocado for a protein-packed lunch. Try a protein shake with banana, soy milk, protein powder, and ice.

And settle in for a seasonal supper with a hearty soup from Kaiser Permanente. It packs a whopping 12 grams of protein per serving. See the posting White Bean and Greens Soup in this blog.

For more recipes from Kaiser, go to


Plant-Based Diets for Multiple Sclerosis

I’m writing this post for my Brother-In-Law, Dennis, and anyone else who has or knows someone who has multiple sclerosis. It is based largely on the findings of Doctor Michael Greger, who scours the world’s nutrition research and posts the results of his findings on his website, I encourage you to do your own research. For myself, the suspect has been apprehended and tried, the verdict is in, and it is up to each of us to carry out the sentence.

Dr Greger posts two main articles on multiple sclerosis: Plant-Based Diets for Multiple Sclerosis and Treating Multiple Sclerosis with the Swank MS Diet. Both include links to further articles and videos.

The articles note that the meat and dairy-restricted diet used in studies by Roy Swank is the most effective treatment of MS ever reported in the peer review literature. Imagine that. Simply eating a plant-based diet is more effective than any drugs or other treatment. 95% of the participants with early stage multiple sclerosis showed no progression of the disease after 34 years of treatment (plant-based eating). Even patients with initially advanced disease showed significant improvement. Dr. Greger also notes that not a single case of multiple sclerosis was diagnosed among 15 million sub-Saharan Blacks, who follow a traditional plant-based diet.

In contrast, the most commonly prescribed drug for treating multiple sclerosis, Beta Interferon, makes you feel lousy, costs about $30,000 per year, and was shown in a 2012 study to be of little value in halting the progression of disability in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. Another drug, Mitoxantrone, has shown some efficacy in reduced clinical attack rates and disease progression, but the side effects are unacceptable – decreased systolic function, heart failure, and causing leukemia.   A plant strong diet, which is less costly, less dangerous, with side effects that include reduced risk of heart disease and cancer, seems to be a pretty attractive alternative.

Let’s see if I can summarize how eating meat and dairy can affect our immune system. Consuming animal protein introduces IGF-1, a cancer-promoting growth hormone, into our system. It prevents the critical process of apoptosis, in which the thymus gland kills off the “bad” B-cells. We have billions of anti-body producing B-cells, which protect us from billions of different toxins and afflictions, but some of these cells attack our own bodies. The thymus gland identifies these harmful B-cells and destroys them. Eating animal protein interferes with this process, and leads us down the path to autoimmune diseases.

If the best way to treat multiple sclerosis is with a plant-based diet, why don’t medical doctors insist on this treatment? There are several factors at play.

1. The drug industry is very powerful and there is a lot of money to be made selling drugs. A substantial portion of the education for medical practitioners is about treating diseases with drugs with very little emphasis on nutrition. So, it is natural for a doctor to prescribe drugs to treat multiple sclerosis.

2. Our nation made a huge commitment to growing cheap genetically-modified corn and soy to feed the animals that become the meat on our tables. Meat is


promoted by these industries as important (if not the only) source of protein in the SAD (Standard American Diet).   There is a huge amount of money to be made selling meat to unsuspecting consumers. The meat industry is not going to let an annoying thing like meat causing multiple sclerosis and other diseases to get in their way. To give you an idea of the dollars involved, a 2013 study, conducted by a federation of state Public Interest Research

Groups, or U.S. PIRG, finds that the U.S. government has spent $19.2 billion subsidizing corn and soy junk food ingredients since 1995. With this huge investment, you can bet that Americans are going to be encouraged to eat meat.

3. Eating meat and dairy has been an integral part of our culture – feeding cow’s milk to infants, eating turkey at Thanksgiving, carne asada at a fiesta, barbecues during the summer months, etc. And this culture has been supported by the USDA’s recommended nutrition charts. Look through the historic nutrition charts in the following slide show. But maybe the culture is changing. You’ll notice that the emphasis on meat and dairy has reduced significantly over the years as research has shown their deleterious effects.






David’s three principles of treating multiple sclerosis:

  1. Do not eat animal fat.
  2. Do not eat animal fat.
  3. Do not eat animal fat.

It’s all well and good to say you aren’t going to eat animal fat, but how do you go about it? We are conditioned to include a heavy dose of meat and dairy in our everyday diets as well as our celebrations. How do you change to a plant-based diet and still satisfy  your sweet tooth, have a robust and varied diet, and still have the convenience of fast food? Turns out, it is easy and fun. I’ll show you how in a series of posts, Vege Story – Parts 1, 2, 3, . . .

Decadent Chocolate Truffles


Vegan Test Kitchen Tuesday Note:  Be creative with flavor extracts and spices, we had delicious truffles with a variety of flavors including cinnamon and cayenne pepper, delicious!

Try crushed peppermint for the holidays!

Decadent Chocolate Truffles

Source:  The Vegan Table, Colleen Patrick Goudreau

1 container (8 oz) vegan cream cheese (Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese)

3 cups confectioners sugar

3 cups non-dairy semi sweet chocolate chips

1 ½ teaspoon vanilla

Ingredients for coating truffles

In a large bowl beat the cream cheese until smooth, add confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time until well blended. Add melted chocolate and vanilla and stir until thoroughly combined.

Cover and refrigerate at least one hour or overnight. Shape into 1” balls and coat with finely ground nuts, sifted cocoa powder, toasted or raw coconut, sifted powdered sugar, or candy sprinkles.

Dad to Huntington Library



Every month, the Huntington Library (near Pasadena) has a free day. You can get several free tickets, but only if you call or get online at the right time on the first of the prior month. I tried for several months, with no luck. Then, I was able to get four tickets for Thursday Dec 5th. I also was able to reserve lunch at the tea room.

The night before, Donna and I drove up for a sleep over at sister Carol’s. The next morning, we picked Dad up at 9am, then came back to collect Brother-in-law Dennis. The weather was perfect – sunny and crisp. We just bundled up with several layers.

We got to the Huntington just about 10:45 or so. What a surprise. The entire entry building had been leveled. They are doing some major construction and remodeling, adding new buildings and gardens.

We decided to start with the Chinese Garden. That too was undergoing major construction and expansion. Even so, it is impressive. Buildings, bridges, and greenery surround a huge lake. Dad wants to come back next year to see how it  develops. Next, the Japanese Garden, a classic beauty. Dad and I walked down into the garden while Dennis and Donna skirted around it with the wheelchair. We met on the other side, then through the Rose Garden to our lunch destination, the Tea Room. If you haven’t had the English tea there, make a point of it. It is the full treatment – tea, scones, salads, tea sandwiches, fruits, cheeses, and plenty of desserts. What a treat! Dad especially enjoyed the caviar.

After lunch, we went indoors to view the art, starting with a temporary exhibit of the California missions. One of the docents shared some insights about Father Junipero Serra’s journey. The exhibit was huge. We learned a lot, including the tidbit that some of the indians fought the missions tooth and nail. In fact, they even burnt the San Diego mission to the ground and killed the missionary. So, the missions are glorified in literature and film, but there is more to the story. The rest of the building contained pictures and sculptures.

We didn’t make it to the other art buildings or the library; will save that for another trip. Last stop, the Desert Garden. This is one of my favorite areas at the Huntington, maybe because it is so unexpected. Most of us would think,  cactus and succulents, so what? But when you get in the garden, immersed in 11 acres, with over 5,000 different species and 50,000 plants, trees, and shrubs, you get a whole new appreciation for those hearty xerophytes. Dad and Dennis both remarked several times at how impressed they were with the grandeur. It was the capstone of our visit. It took two of us to push the wheelchair up the hill to the exit (see the pictures), but it was well worth the effort.

On the way home, we were treated to a gorgeous sunset, which Donna caught on camera. Then a delicious dinner at the Natural Cafe before returning Dad to his home. We showed Rachel a few pictures of the day. She was also glad of her day of rest and recuperation. Overall, the day was great for Dad. He was stimulated with lots of beauty, and got plenty of exercise. I’ll bet he slept soundly that night.