onions, sliced and sauteed
basil leaves – cleaned
Avocado – sliced
Hamburger buns – lightly toasted
vegan patties – store bought or home made. See Quinoa burger recipe.
Nayonaise or other non-dairy mayo
BBQ sauce – Walden Farms sugar free
Ketchup (if you must) use Walden Farms sugar free
Heat patties on stove top or microwave. Veggie patties don’t do so well on the grill. Melt the “cheese” on the patties.
saute mushrooms and onions
wash lettuce leaves and tear to desired size
wash basil leaves and tear to desired size
toast buns lightly in toaster oven
spread condiments on buns and pile on the ingredients.
What you need:
1 cup dry quinoa, 2 cups water (or 3 cups cooked quinoa)
2 jalapenos, (substitute 3 veggies from a pickled vegetable mix)
2 carrots, roughly chopped
3 stalks celery, roughly chopped
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups oats
1 tablespoon paprika
2 tablespoons garlic powder or minced garlic
pinch salt (used raw pink salt or 1/4 t. smoked salt)
Binder: use egg replacer (1 1/2 tsp Ener-G & 2 tbsp water) or 2tablespoons ground flax soaked in 3 teaspoons water
oil, as needed (organic cold pressed olive oil. coconut oil, or grapeseed oil.
What you do:
1. To begin, add quinoa to pot with water, and bring to boil. Cover and simmer until done, about 15 minutes. Or, put into rice cooker.
2. Put pickled veggies, carrots, celery into Ninja blender. Grind into small bits.
3. When quinoa is cooked, put beans, veggie bits, and oats into same bowl and squish with a big spoon. Add spices and garlic. (David smashed with a meat cleaver, Donna used her hands.)
4. Add flax, or egg replacer, and mash all ingredients (except oil) together. Form into patties. Cook in oil until golden on each side.
Preparation Time: ~15 minutes
Cooking time: ~45 minutes
After about 16 months of researching, experimenting, and learning, Donna and I have evolved a way of eating vegan that works with our lifestyle. You may find it helpful as you ponder the transition to a plant-based diet. This is how we approach a healthy lifestyle –
Each morning starts with a bit of easy exercise – stretching, aerobics, abs, and cool down. Then we reward ourselves with breakfast.
It start’s with Rip’s Big Bowl (see recipe post). It is a combination of cereals. I mix a big batch in a plastic container and it lasts for a few weeks. We add ground flax meal, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and raisins. Then top with whatever is in our fruit bowl and a banana. Then add your favorite non-dairy milk: soy, almond, coconut, rice milk. We prefer unsweetened and organic, if available. Donna switches it up on occasion with steel cut oatmeal. If we travel, we just make up packets of the cereal and dry toppings in snack sized zip lock bags, enough for the entire trip. Then just add fruit and non-dairy milk.
We mostly eat left-overs for lunch. We always make enough food at dinner to have plenty of left-overs. I pack a lunch when I go to work a few days a week. Typically, it contains quinoa topped with soup or steamed veggies, a salad, a granola bar, an apple, and some dried fruit or nuts. Sometimes carrots and celery with peanut butter. sometimes vegan cookies. When traveling, we make wraps and supplement with fruit, nuts, granola or energy bars, and cookies. See Kater Lunch Wraps recipe. We sometimes supplement lunch with a green or fruit smoothie with some protein powder.
Dinner – weekend prep:
Our normal pattern is to prepare food on the weekend that will last through most of the week, then supplement with additional dinners as needed. We start with a batch of quinoa. It tastes good, and can add protein to any meal. Rinse it first, toss a couple of cups plus twice as much water into a rice cooker, and let it cook. For the main course, we vary between soup, steamed veggies, and stir fry. We use a large soup pot or two-tiered steamer or large wok to make enough to last through the week.
Dinner – week nights:
Most nights, the main course will be the prepared meal from the weekend, e.g. quinoa with soup, heated in the microwave, topped with worcestershire sauce, bragg Amino Acids, and/or nutritional yeast. Note that if the main course doesn’t already have a protein, we add chick’n or tofu or other. Toast with spread optional. We supplement with produce fresh picked from our garden, usually swiss chard, broccoli, squash, and kale. These seems to be the crops that keep on producing. Also, tomatoes, and herbs as needed. Donna often steams the greens as a side dish.
But when inspiration strikes, we make a different dinner. The inspiration could come from a fresh avocado that screams “Make Tacos,” or a new recipe to try, or the soup ran out. Here are some of our favorites.
Spaghetti – steam a spaghetti squash for the “noodles.” You can buy an organic sauce and be done with it. I like to make my own with lots of vegetables. See Spaghetti Sauce & Spaghetti Noodles recipe.
Hamburger – use a veggie patty, but it is the fixings that make all the difference. See Vegan Hamburger and Quinoa Burger recipes.
Stir fry – Carmelize onions in a wok. Then add chopped veggies, hardest first. Then seasonings. Recipe post pending.
Tacos – mock ground hamburger meat. grilled onions, sautéed mushrooms, vegan shredded cheese, basil, etc. See Tacos recipe post.
Soup – Soup is easy to make and especially great for the winter months. It is different every time we make it, depending on what is on hand and our mood. See Soup Formula post.
Juice or smoothie – a nice change up made from fresh produce. Can add protein powder.
Dessert: Desserts are still a work in progress. I have a serious sweet tooth, so this topic is near and dear to my heart. I’ve attended numerous classes on cooking vegan and gluten free desserts. My only problem with these is that they still contain sugar and fat. My goal is to create yummy and satisfying desserts with minimal fat and little or no sugar. I’ve got a few recipes in the works (pumpkin pie, lemon pie, coconut pie, and chocolate chip cookies). There are two challenges. One, to get the right firmness using cornstarch or arrowroot without it being too starchy. Two, to work out the optimal combination of sweeteners that minimizes the sugar without an aftertaste or other effects. My favorite sugar substitute is Erythritol (tastes like sugar, zero on the glycemic index, and no after effects). Xylitol is good as well, but only in small amounts. The other sugar substitutes tend to have an aftertaste, to which Donna is sensitive. You can also use less refined sugar such as raw sugar, palm sugar, agave, molasses, etc. I’ll post recipes when they are ready for publication.
Other dessert options include fresh fruit with a non-dairy topping or sorbet. I make the sorbet in an ice cream maker, using Erythritol instead of sugar, and a hint of mint. Recipe pending.
“In the Permanente Journal last year, the official peer-reviewed publication of our nations largest managed care organization, a “Nutrition Update for Physicians” was published, which concluded that “Healthy eating maybe best achieved with a plant-based diet,” which they defined as a diet that encourages whole plant-based foods and discourages meat, dairy products, and eggs as well as empty calorie junk. To quote their conclusion: “Research shows that plant-based diets are cost-effective, low-risk interventions that may lower body mass index, blood pressure, HbA1C, and cholesterol levels. They may also reduce the number of medications needed to treat chronic diseases and lower ischemic heart disease mortality rates. Physicians should consider recommending a plant-based diet to all their patients, especially those with high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or obesity,” which of course describes a bulk of our population.
This sentiment was echoed last summer by the American Institute for Cancer Research—probably the most preeminent institution on diet and cancer risk—when they explicitly endorsed a diet revolving around whole plant foods: vegetables, whole grains, fruits and beans.
I’ve personally been eating a plant-rich diet since 1990, when Dr. Dean Ornish published his Lifestyle Heart Trial in The Lancet, angiographically proving that heart disease could be reversed with the help of a plant-based diet, opening up arteries without drugs, without surgery. If that’s all a plant-based diet could do, reverse our number one killer of men and women, then shouldn’t that be our default dietary recommendation until proven otherwise? And the fact that plant-based diets can also be effective in preventing, treating, and arresting other leading killers, such as type 2 diabetes and hypertension, would seem to make the case for plant-based eating overwhelming.
Now to the last Guideline Committee’s great credit, the 2010 guidelines were a leap in the right direction, recognizing food as a package deal. Yes there’s calcium in dairy, protein in pork, iron in beef, but because of the baggage that comes along (like the saturated fat and cholesterol), plant sources are preferable, because then the “baggage’ we get is the fiber, the folate, the phytonutrients, etc.
I would like to see the committee be more explicit, though. When “eat-more” recommendations are issued, the messaging is clear—for example, “Increase vegetable and fruit intake.” But when there’s a conflict between USDA’s dual role to protect the public while at the same time promoting agricultural products, recommendations often resort to speaking in cryptic biochemical components, such as “Reduce intake of solid fats (major sources of saturated and trans fatty acids).” How about instead, eat less cheese. Or messages like drink less soda. Eat less meat, particularly processed meat. The American Institute for Cancer Research just comes out and says it: “Processed meat like bacon, sausage, and cold cuts should be avoided.” Period. They don’t need to sell food; they just want to prevent cancer.
I am not here today on behalf of the broccoli lobby (though I’d be honored to represent big broccoli). I am not here representing any financial interest. I am here as a physician, representing the interests of the hundreds of thousands of Americans that continue to suffer and die every year from chronic disease. And you can help them by recommending a more plant-based diet.
For those interested in my thoughts about the last round of federal dietary guidelines I’ve compiled them into a 14 part video series:”
- Nation’s Diet in Crisis
- Dietary Guidelines: Corporate Guidance
- Dietary Guidelines: With a Grain of Big Salt
- Dietary Guidelines: USDA Conflicts of Interest
- Dietary Guidelines: Just Say No
- Dietary Guidelines: The First 25 Years
- Dietary Guidelines: From Dairies to Berries
- Dietary Guidelines: It’s All Greek to the USDA
- Plant Protein Preferable
- Dietary Guidelines: Science Versus Corporate Interests
- Dietary Guidelines: Advisory Committee Conflicts of Interest
- New Dietary Guidelines for Americans
- Dietary Guidelines: Progressing From Pyramid to Plate
- Dietary Guidelines: Pushback From the Sugar, Salt, and Meat Industries
How do you make the transition from your current diet to a whole-foods, plant-based diet? How do you even get started? There are several ways to go about it. For one, you could ease into it. Start with Meatless Mondays, just like the San Diego City Schools do for their school children. Try making a large dish (soup, spaghetti, steamed veggies, or stir fry) on the weekend, then use that dish for meals throughout the week. Search online for vegan restaurants or restaurants with a few vegan items, then try them out. Then add a few other special days, one at a time – Taco Tuesdays, WonderBurger Wednesdays, Stir-fry Saturdays, Soupy Sundays, etc. Be planful when you travel, even when you are out for a short shopping trip. Bring water, dried fruits, nuts, and protein bars to snack on. If it is a longer trip, make a delicious wrap (see recipes), and toss it in a cooler.
Another way to go about the transition is to do it “cold turkey.” That’s what Donna and I did. One day we ate meat and dairy, the next day we didn’t. Mind you, we weren’t fanatical about it. If a little meat or dairy managed to creep into a meal, we didn’t sweat it. The goal isn’t to earn a gold star for 100% compliance. The goal is to eat a primarily meat and dairy free diet to give us the best chance to live a long life and feel great doing it.
There was definitely a learning curve, but it has been a fun learning process, and the reward of feeling better and having better overall health makes it well worth the effort. We spent quite a bit of time online researching how to get balanced nutrition on a vegan diet. I attended classes on how to cook vegan, what foods help fight cancer, and how to prepare raw food meals. I also visited a nutritionist at Kaiser Permanente, and got a good rundown on what foods to include to get enough protein, calcium, vitamin B, iron, etc. The free booklet that Kaiser publishes, Vegetarian Meal Planning, is a great resource. It turns out to be easier that you would think. A whole foods, plant-based diet with a variety of brightly colored fruits and vegetables along with legumes, seeds, and grains, will give you all the nutrition you need.
We got to try out a bunch of foods that we had pretty much ignored previously – quinoa, seeds, nuts, beans, and fresh greens. We’ve experimented with sprouting seeds, juicing fresh produce, making protein shakes and smoothies, and using a dehydrator.
It’s probably not that important how you go about it, but it is important that you get started. Take those first steps. Here are some helpful links to help you with the journey:
How To Go Vegan: 12 Beginner Tips To Get You Started
http://kissmyvegan.blogspot.com/p/my-favorites.html (includes some great resources)
A vegan diet is one which avoids anything that is derived from animal products. That is, consuming plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruit, grains, and nuts, while avoiding meat, fish, dairy, or egg products.
There are three typical reasons that people choose to eat vegan.
- It’s a healthy choice. Eating a well planned vegan diet can reduce your risk of suffering from diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and several forms of cancer.
- It’s compassionate. The condition in which factory-farmed animals are raised is alarming. Housing is often cramped and filthy. The animals are overfed to grow and produce at an accelerated, unnatural rate. Millions of calves and male chicks are killed every year as a waste product of milk and egg production. All of this is unnecessary because we can easily and affordably feed ourselves on plant-based foods. Choosing a vegan diet demonstrates compassion for these creatures.
- It’s better for the environment. Plant-based diets use only one third of the land and water required to support a diet based on meat and dairy products. The livestock industry alone produces 18% of all of the global greenhouse gas emissions. Unsustainable farming practices designed to support the meat and dairy industries lead to habitat loss, wasting water, soil erosion and degradation, pollution, climate change, and genetic erosion.
Fervent supporters of animal rights or the environment are likely already on board with plant based eating because they know the negative consequences of the alternative. What about changing to a vegan lifestyle because it is more healthy for you? Just knowing that it is more healthy doesn’t seem to be enough for most people. It is just too easy to continue eating the foods that are readily available to us – fast food, packaged foods, meat, and dairy. Unfortunately, these foods are often laced with sugar (high fructose corn syrup), animal fat, dairy, and oil. They taste great and are very addictive. It’s no surprise that it often takes a major healthy scare ( heart-bypass surgery or being diagnosed with cancer, or diabetes, or multiple sclerosis, or alzheimers) to motivate people to change their eating habits. I’ve shared the story of my journey to a plant-based lifestyle in this series of posts. Hopefully, it will make the transition easier for you.
My journey started with curiosity. I was amazed as I watched two co-workers totally transforming themselves over a period of about a year by just eating healthy. It was almost miraculous. Kate had shed 80 pounds, and Jenn had lost 110 (she is now at 153 and counting). When I asked Jenn how she did it and why, she recommended the video “Forks over Knives.” Donna and I found the video on Netflix, and watched it. We were astounded. This compelling video showcased overwhelming evidence that excess meat and dairy consumption is the primary cause of the epidemics we see in America – heart disease, cancer, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, etc. Yes, it also addressed the mistreatment of animals and devastating effect of unsustainable practices of the agriculture, meat, and dairy industries on our environment. However, the health implications were the focal point, and the main source of motivation for changing my eating habits.
The evidence presented in the video included several things in particular that got my attention:
- The massive 10-year China study showed that a plant-based diet can arrest and even reverse heart disease
- Researchers were able to “turn cancer on and off” by increasing and decreasing the level of milk casein in a diet
- When the Germans occupied Norway and took away meat and dairy assets, the incidence of heart disease and cancer in the general population reduced dramatically. When Germans occupation ended years later, meat and dairy consumption resumed, and so did the high rates of heart disease and cancer.
- A 20 year study by Dr. Esselstyn showed remarkable results with patients who had serious heart issues, by putting them on a whole-foods, plant-based diet.
It was very clear after watching this video that if I wanted the best chance of living healthy into my old age, it was eating without meat and dairy. Donna agreed, and our journey to healthy plant-based eating began in September of 2012.
So, you are interested in finding out how to incorporate a more healthy diet into your lifestyle. Maybe you watched “Forks over Knives” on Netflix and realized it’s time to make a change. Or maybe you are concerned about the environment and want to support a more sustainable way of producing food. Or maybe you are concerned about the way animals are mistreated by our beef, poultry, and dairy industries. Or maybe you found out that you have a life-threatening disease such as cancer or diabetes or multiple sclerosis, and you realize that your best chance for optimal health is to convert to a whole foods, plant-based diet. Or maybe you are just curious. No matter the reason, the question is, how do you start the journey toward a more healthy diet?
Clearly, it will be a different journey for each of us because we each have unique circumstances – budgetary restrictions, kitchen facilities, job and travel demands, level of support from our companions, motivation, etc. And just as clearly, you want to transform your eating habits in a way that is satisfying, healthy, and sustainable according to your individual needs. It may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. In fact, it can be fun and rejuvenating.
In this multi-part post, I will explain how Donna and I transformed our
Standard American Diet (SAD) to a healthy vegan diet. I’ve included tips that we learned along the way, our favorite products and where to get them, our favorite meals, and how we veganize them, how to get balanced nutrition, as well as online and other resources to help you with your own journey.