Friday, July 27, 2012

Iron Is Another Matter

“Ya gotta eat some meat!” I can hear my Italian relatives hollaring at me right now. I loved the ravioli and sauce, and I did love the cheese, but the rest was a little hard to swallow. 

I know that most vegans are pretty educated about proteins and where they’re found. Iron is another thing to be monitored. Generally, according to the Vegetarian Research Group 
(, although vegans don’t have any more anemia than among the general carnivorous population, they do have less iron stores. This is where I have concerns for my vegan athletes who utilize iron through sweating, menstruation, and injury. Iron is a component of oxygenation, so athletes need to check their numbers.

Generally vegans have a high vitamin diet, so getting and absorbing enough iron shouldn’t be an issue. Vitamin C increases the body’s ability to absorb iron, so combining beans with tomato sauce, or broccoli with tofu, iron absorption will rock the house! 

Know that broccoli alone is a really nutritious choice for a vegan. Broccoli has calcium too! Spinach is another food that I chop up and add to everything. Get this; It would take 1700 calories worth of sirloin steak to get the same amount of iron found in 100 calories of spinach.

The Vegetarian Resource Group website has tons of valuable nutritional information for iron burning athletes.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Vegan Almond Quinoa Muffins

Quinoa. A grain. Pronounced Keen-wa. First, let’s have a laugh. I’ve always wanted to say this out loud. Ready? ... Lake Titicaca! Seriously. Quinoa originally comes from the Altiplano Region of the Andes Mountain Range near Lake Titicaca, at 12,500 feet. It was considered sacred by the Inca people and is known to be the “mother grain.”

Quinoa is
not only a complete protein, with an essential amino acid profile resembling that of milk, but it’s loaded with other nutrients such as starch, sugars, essential linoleic acid (oil), fiber, minerals, and vitamins B complex and E. This combination is the bomb for healthy hair and nails, as well as the other blessings of protein.

The quality of organic Quinoa, found in most whole foods groceries these days is of very high quality, and grown in the U.S. My problem is that I am not fond of the flavor. It’s nothing offensive, I just enjoy the flavor of rice. My solution is to make baked goods with it, or put it in the food processor and have it as porridge with honey.

Here’s a link to some deeeeeelicious vegan almond-quinoa muffins that are not only great, but loaded with protein for a perfect sports snack

I substituted grapeseed for canola oil, and rice milk for soy milk, but they came out really good, and were so hearty that I made a meal out of one! Be sure to let them cool completely because they’re moist and could fall apart if not fully set. I WILL make these again.

Qi Gong Is For Me

Qi Gong is a slow, focused form of movement that is both relaxing and strengthening at the same time. Unlike yoga, the muscles aren't stretched at the joint so aggressively, so if you have joint problems, it's less stressful to perform.

There is a form of Qi Gong called Baduanjin, which is 8 specific movements called the 8 Brocades, or Silken Moves that flow together and can be easily remembered.

There are some great beginner DVD's to follow (Lee Holden, Chris Pei, Deborah Davis, Matthew Cohen) and I recommend checking out some of the 8 Brocade performances on YouTube.

I've been able to maintain strength through practicing Qi Gong, and a knee injury that was bothersome with yoga is no longer an issue.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

How Much Protein?

Having been in the muscle business for over 35 years, I have watched the protein argument change as quickly as the food industry itself. With news of toxins in meats, heart disease, and other disease caused by obesity, people are looking more seriously at plant based nutrition. How much protein do you actually NEED to be healthy? ... ("Healthy" use your own interpretation) ... The USDA recommends .36 grams of protein for every pound of body weight. Can you get everything you need from plant protein? Yes. With the right combinations of food, you can. If you want to stop eating meat, you should evaluate your own personal needs according to your gender, age, activity level, and more. In the beginning, before you start eating anything that you want that isn't meat, I recommend talking to a nutritionist about how to combine proteins, and balance your weekly intake including a 7 day meal plan. I think that you can balance calories better. You don't have to include EVERY vitamin at EVERY meal. When you look at the food pyramid, you're overwhelmed thinking that you need to eat everything in sight. Not true. If you get enough protein at breakfast, for instance, you can focus on getting the rest of your nutrients in your other meals or snacks as the day progresses.

A Controversial Researcher named T. Colin Campbell has performed the most comprehensive research on nutrition through his notorious China Study and now teaches a Plant-Based Nutrition Certification Program online through eCornell. His book,
The China Study,
details his research about protein and disease. I'm not sure why I would refer to Dr. Campbell or his research as controversial other than the fact that many other researchers disagree with his research based philosophies which are; "People who ate the most animal-based foods got the most chronic disease ... People who ate the most plant-based foods were the healthiest and tended to avoid chronic disease. These results could not be ignored," said Dr. Campbell. If you're supplementing a vegan or vegetarian diet with amino supplementation and want non-animal proteins, be sure that the bottle is specifically labeled Vegan or Vegetarian. Often, eggs and milk products are called something else on the bottle. 

How much and what types of protein, and how much you ingest and utilize should be your main focus in your physical performance in life. I can't stress enough how you've got to get it right. This is worth the cost of a professional consult. 
My solution to the protein question? Beans, beans, homemade hummus instead of margarine on everything, mashed pinto beans in burritos, quinoa muffins, seeds, nuts, and other soy supplements.
The China Study. Decide for yourself.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Quality Of A Vegan Dipping Sauce

I try to use the freshest ingredients in my recipes. That’s why I have a garden in my back yard. I can grab herbs at the last second so that they’re as tasty as they will ever be. We are always experimenting with herbs and spices to make dressings and dips for our fresh vegetable dishes and baked potatoes.

One of my favorite flavors for dipping spring rolls is horseradish. I recently discovered that the horseradish sauce that I was buying from the grocery store ... USDA organic, contained eggs. Organic, but not vegan. That began my tasting search and I believe that I’ve found a fine tasting vegan horseradish dipping mustard.

Checkout for a line of USDA Organic Vegan white mustard and horseradish products. I have just tried the Certified Organic Horseradish Creamy White Mustard. It’s Vegan, it’s Kosher, and it’s really delicious!
By checking out the website, you will see that the product is still made and represented by the owner of the company. This is an award winning sauce, and I can tell that it’s going to find itself on and in a lot of my recipes looking for whole food flavor. Nice product, True Natural Taste!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

My Vegan Test Kitchen

I make sure that everybody coming to the dinner table knows when a recipe is what I call a "Test Kitchen" meal. I have a complete disclaimer so that I can't be blamed for a weird meal. Last night I served a salad dressing that most certainly needs to go back to the table. The biggest problem? The color.

I've always enjoyed raspberry vinagrette salad dressing, but don't really enjoy the vinegar and would rather have a creamier dressing. I use a lot of pureed chickpeas to cream things up, but this time I decided to add a sweet potato to the raspberries to get a sweeter and creamier raspberry salad dressing. I suppose that it might have been okay if I was making a brown gravy, but as a salad dressing, not so much. It turned brown!

I will lessen the amount of potato and increase the amount of oil next time. I intend to create a sweet dressing that will serve as a dipping sauce for spring rolls too. Okay ... while my family is still making fun of my mysterious brown dressing, I am creating another one. Color is a really important aspect of food delivery. I guess that's why the commercial food industry uses so much dye. Not to worry. My late nights in the test kitchen will produce something fabulous! Wait and see.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Yeah ... So I'm 60.

How on earth did I turn 60? I still laugh to myself when I say it out loud. Life is only transcending into my twilight years. Instead of doing research on the best aerobic shoe or endurance saddle, I'm doing research on health care co-pays and deductibles.

Life is good, I feel fabulous, and hope to be blogging about my garden, exercise, and healthy food  for years to come. My cholesterol has come down by 100 points, and today I'm making my tasty whole wheat tortillas, but I'm going to try baking them instead of frying. Hope they hold together! Will post photos.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Your Vegan Coffee Creamer Choices

Some people who get their food act together have the toughest time with quitting cream in their coffee. I am one of those people. I love my morning coffee with cream (yes, half and half!) and can't bring myself to use the commercial blends sold in grocery stores. I buy them, read the label, then fight myself at the cream counter. I am now down to allowing myself a little cream on the weekend, and when we have company for coffee.

I recently found this review of veg coffee creamers on the PETA website. Check it out.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Tasty, Personalized Hummus Recipe

Hummus is made from (chickpeas) garbanzo beans and oil. Your choice of flavors and nutrients to add are your choice. For example, I like herbs and lemon for a tangy taste, and Al likes some sunflower seeds thrown in at the last minute for some extra protein and a super chunk effect

According to 1 tablespoon of hummus has about 27 calories, 1.3 grams of fat, and .7g of protein. With the garden in full bloom right now, I’m enjoying everything from oregano to spinach. Here is a basic hummus recipe that comes out smooth and creamy from the Cuisinart, but can be made in a blender too.

Recipe makes 2 cups:

2 - 16 oz. cans of garbanzo beans, or equivalent (I like Westbrae Natural Organic that come in a 25 oz can., or I cook them from scratch).

1 tbsp Olive Oil (or Grapeseed is nice)
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cumin
3 tbsp of flavorings (Anything! Chopped olives, garlic, chives, basil, parsley, peppers, etc.)

Puree the beans and olive oil in the blender until smooth and creamy. Stir in lemon juice, salt, cumin, and your 3 tablespoons of other stuff. Done! This makes a delicious addition to wraps, burritos, casseroles, and dips. But wait! There’s more ... If you’re looking for a new gravy for potatoes, or salad dressing, you can alter the amount of oil or lemon to change the texture for whatever you want. I have added chopped sun dried tomatoes at the end for a delicious red dressing. Let me know how it tastes!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Choosing Vegan, Mostly Vegan, or Vegetarian. It’s not like choosing a religion.

Why you choose to eat fewer animals and animal products is your own personal choice. Some people are adamant about it all ... Vegan shoes, handbags, cosmetics, soaps, etc. I talk to thousands of people about their choices, and they are as diverse as the people themselves.

We’ve all seen the secret videos taken in the commercial meat industry and have been horrified at the cruel conditions and violent deaths of animals raised for the commercial meat industry. If you are a vegan for ethical reasons, you probably abstain from all animal products because of the processes that you have witnessed.

Some common questions that people ask me are “Don’t you ever miss eating a juicy bacon and cheese burger?” “Don’t you miss pizza with pepperoni and cheese?” The answer is yes, and yes. Of course I remember the days of hamburgers and pizza. It brings to mind that tasty late night patty melt from Denny’s. Or, speaking of Denny’s, the hangover sausage and eggs breakfast with gravy on the hash browns. Oh, I’m getting choked up just thinking about those things. For me, I have made some of my decisions because of the animal trade, but others for the sake of keeping cholesterol low and because I feel like a million bucks!

The thing about making food choices is that being a vegan isn’t like being a religious zealot. There are no rules or commandments here. You need a balanced diet for
your body. You need to pay attention to your daily intake. If you eat the same bowl of cereal for breakfast, and the same salad for lunch every day, you are not getting a balanced diet. You’ve got to diversify. Choose a variety of colors each day. Greens, reds, purples, and yellows, in fruits and veggies, and a variety of grains. If you had potatoes for dinner last night, have a grain tonight, etc.

If you are an older woman with bone loss, you should monitor your calcium intake. If you are an older person, eating less or no meat is a good idea for your cholesterol and overall health, but adding some skim milk to your coffee, or having some yogurt with your fruit might be something that you could choose. Being a vegetarian and eating low fat choices of dairy products and an egg now and then might work for you. Calcium is found in greens and grains, and you can find the nutrients that your individual body needs in a solely plant based diet too. This is your choice. If you have decided to go completely Vegan, then you must educate yourself about nutrition. There is a Vegan food pyramid to consult with too.

Click on the nutritional data link on this blog and you will find the
Self Magazine nutritional search engine. When you are in the beginning of a change to plant-based meal planning, I recommend that you study this nutritional information to take the guess work out of it. Compare the nutritional information of nuts and beans to see how it compares to meat and fish. You should know this information.
Spring Rolls With Rice, Carrots, Spinach, Glass Noodles

Changing over to vegetarian or vegan diet can make you feel like a completely different body, but it’s imperative that it be done right. Have fun, and you might discover some incredible meat and cheese free recipes!

Checkout my Vegan spring rolls full of rice and vegetables wrapped in oversized rice paper. The great thing about this type of meal is the dipping sauce choices. I use a French salad dressing and they are flipping incredible!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

GREAT Clean Food Is My Passion

I've been in the health and fitness business for over 30 years. I have gone through many years of trends with my clients. In the distant past, as long as athletes burned enough calories, they ate whatever they wanted. Count me in to that population. I played racquetball tournaments every weekend while teaching aerobics twice a day during the week. I could have cared less about calories.

Fast forward about 30 years and I lost my Father to a heart attack at 62, and my Mom last summer to a catastrophic stroke at 83. Can you say cholesterol? I was raised Italian. Sausage and cheese spell cholesterol in Italian. My husband was also raised Italian. Same deal. We love great tasting food but have been encouraged to change how we do it. We have a different love of food than ever before, and have been reaping the benefits for the past several years. Growing our own food while experimenting creatively has led to this blog ... oh, and lower cholesterol, more energy, lower weight, and more.

A few years back I was cleaning out over 30 years worth of articles that I have written, programs that I have created, and recipes that I have saved, and I had an epiphany. Why not put this information in one place via a daily blog? Why not. Here goes. Vegans, I hope that you enjoy my recipes, my enthusiasm, and my snapshots. It's great to get organized!

Here's a shot of last night's meal; Homemade whole wheat tortillas, black beans and corn, garden tomatoes, lettuce, garden salsa, and topped with Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream (a non dairy sour cream substitute. Don't normally use fake stuff, but makes the tacos rich and creamy.)


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The 30th Anniversary of my 30th Birthday

Man, it’s been hot. We have hit 100 degrees every day for the past week. I’ve had to baby my garden every step of the way, but lucky days, everything is doing well and we’ve been eating big salads every night for almost a month already. The Pine Ridge Fire is 50% contained as of this morning. We had a hectic weekend with flames in plain sight and suitcases by the door.

The Aspen Ideas Festival was held last weekend and we were able to attend some incredibly stimulating and informative lectures. How much does it cost for a full ride ticket buyer? $2,700. for the 3 day conference. Yeow! You’ve got to seek out the freebie lectures around town during these events if you’re just a normal person. Aspen has so many incredible events during the summer, there’s always something to do!

Yes friends, my birthday is coming in a few days, but I’ve changed it to an anniversary rather than a birthday. Feel free to send me a 30th anniversary of my 30th birthday card.  Yikes. It is what it is.

Eating well, exercising every day, and counting the weeks until our next beach vacation. Being an astrological crab, I need my water!

What IS next?

 It seems like the Covid 19 Vaccinations are going faster than expected, but states are opening up equally as fast. I want to get out again!...