Saturday, August 31, 2013

My Mind's A-Twirling

First I chose to do strict Essy food plan when hubby started getting chest pains. Then I added McDougall and Engine 2/FOK meals into the mix. Then came Dr. E's magazine interview and Jeff's talk with Dr. E to clarify certain issues that were brought up in both the interview and his Plantstock speech regarding fruit, flour products and potatoes.

And I'm as confused as ever.

He says to eliminate flour products if trying to lose weight, even though they're allowed in his heart disease food plan. Many of Dr. McDougall's heart healthy recipes that I chose to cover next month contain flour products. In fact, next week alone I have 4 recipes that include them.

And the greens! Dr. E says for his heart patients he recommends 6 servings of greens a day, to include them in every meal. I understand how important they are, and I do as Jeff does and try toss a handful in a pot when it's appropriate, but many of these meals I can't see having greens with, and I've tried them in oatmeal and it rendered the oats inedible.

It's hard to pick meals to make when one person has to stop losing weight, one has to stop gaining, and both have to eat heart healthy. And now to choose meals that include loads of greens? And to get 6 servings in my husband daily when he eats only 2 meals a day and can't tolerate salads right now? Along with all the other recommendations & guidelines? While hubby still has a poor appetite? ARGH!

I wish VeganMoFo didn't come right in the middle of hubby's recuperation period, when he's still trying to get his appetite back and I was still trying to get this family attuned to eating 100% the Dr. Esselstyn way.

So, right now I reserve the right to change my VeganMoFo theme around once again, and even though I had made out a list of 30 McDougall meals from the McDougall Program for A Healthy Heart book, I will probably go back to my original plan and pick and choose between those two books, Dr. Fuhrman's Cholesterol Protection for Life, and Neal Pinckney's Healthy Heart Handbook, with maybe a few others tossed in here and there.

When I come up with a new menu for next week and pass it by my husband, then I can finally go shopping for the ingredients. Hopefully it'll be a menu we stick with. Last week I planned on making all his old favorites, but it didn't turn out that way. Only twice did I make what was planned, with him changing his mind hours before dinner, one day the minute I was about to start cooking. Yesterday I wound up just roasting up a casserole dish full of scrubbed red and Yukon Gold potatoes and ate them with beans and fresh salsa. Looking back on it, I should have tossed some greens in there, too. He said it was the best meal he had all week. I hope I'll be able to stick with the planned menus for this coming week, but after yesterday, when he gave up his beloved weekly pizza for potatoes, I'm not so sure.

So, I'll be posting a heart-healthy recipe daily. Whether or not I actually get to make it will be another story. If I do, I'll be sure to post photos and comments on it. I know this isn't exactly what VeganMoFo is about, but it's the best I can promise at this time. It's better than posting about aprons, like I had to do during one of the earlier VeganMoFo's I participated in. Last year I did a few about Jeff and Rip's handstand rivalry. Now that was scraping the bottom of the barrel! LOL

Friday, August 30, 2013

Some VeganMoFo-ing McDougallers

Vegan Day To Day (fulenn on the McDougall forums)

The Vegan Training Table (

Those Funky Beets (pamplemousse on the forums)  - a new blog

Anyone else?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Pizza Times Two

Sometimes all you want is a nice, simple cheese pizza without all the fancy extras. When my husband was fresh out of the hospital and still didn't have an appetite, he still wanted his customary Friday pizza, but without the tons of veggie toppings.

So out came Heart Healthy Pizza once again. I used Mark's traditional whole wheat crust recipe, because it  never failed me. Yes, my Mini Zoji has failed me in the past, but never this recipe. I discovered the machine kneaded the dough a bit too well, and if I tried to use it fresh from the machine it would be tough and rubbery and hard to shape. I then dragged out my old Oster bread machine to make the dough instead, but discovered a few weeks ago that it's really starting to struggle, that the motor is finally showing its age (14 years this month) and I used the mini-Zo again this week, keeping my fingers crossed the whole time. The ladies on the Yahoogroup ABM Recipes advised me to just let it take a nice long rise, to wrap it up, toss it in the fridge, and let it relax a few hours. I lightly sprayed a ziplock bag and tossed the kneaded dough into it and let it chill for around 10 hours before taking it out. I used Mark's method:

to shape it. Mine wasn't as pliant as his, but then again, mine wasn't sitting under hot studio lights for a half hour like his, either. It came out as fine as the dough I made in the Oster! I'm so glad, because I really don't want to buy a second ABM just for pizza dough. I tried making it in my food processor once using the dough hook and it wasn't pretty.

Anyway, I used the same sauce and cheese (from this video presentation) that I made up and used the week before. When Mark was still developing his recipes he would share them on the Fat Free Vegan Yahoogroup, and when asked, he said the sauces last around a week in the refrigerator. Since I only use half for each pie, that meant one batch lasts me for 2 weeks' worth of pizzas, a fact that I really appreciate in those days caring for my recuperating husband. I put each sauce's leftovers in its own Mason jar in the fridge, and when needed, use the tomato sauce as-is and just nuke up the cheeze sauce for 30 seconds to restore it to a liquid state before pouring on the pizza.

The only extras used on this pie was a hearty shake of McCormick's Garlic Pepper seasoning. My husband made liberal use of sriracha sauce on his slices, but mine were just fine as-is. 

This was the first meal he ate his entire share of since coming home from the hospital. I've been hearing from people that the tastebuds in post-op CABG patients are dulled and even deadened for up to 6 weeks, which is why most of them lose tremendous amounts of weight afterwards. I see this in my husband - he rarely wanted to eat and when he did, the food had to be really flavorful for him to taste and enjoy it. There hadn't been that many at that point, but luckily Mark's pizza was one of them.

A week later, his appetite was starting to return, and he wanted something a little more, so I made this pie.

I used the same crust, added some defrosted and pressed frozen spinach (that's now completely covered by the cheese), sliced up roasted red peppers, and a can of black olives, as well as a bunch of Italian herbs, and Mark's Chickpeas, Oats and Pimiento cheese sauce. I can't wait to use more of Mark's sauces! Each one is tastier than the one before! It's good to get out of the same-sauce rut now and then. My husband ate every slice of his share and went looking for more. I guess starting this week I'll start making 2 pizzas for the three of us and have leftovers for lunches again. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Some People Go All Out for VeganMoFo

That site's recipes are *not* McDougall safe by any means (Vegan Bacon Flavored Vodka??) but it's nice that she's all hopped up over VeganMoFo. I hope all the McDougallers and Engine 2/FOK people are, too.

BTW, if you have a blog and follow either of those food programs but don't want to officially enroll in VeganMoFo, you can advertise your blog in a reply here on my site.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Chef Del & Chef Sarno Demo How To Cook Onions Without Oil

I keep losing this video so decided to link to it here now, so I can always search for it on my own blog. Knowing me I may still lose it, but for now, here it is.

I just saw this video by Chef Sarno today, but I think he says at one point ". . .since you already started out with an oiled pan . . .". See if it's just my ears or he really said that.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Coach Ami's Rosemary Potatoes

Another cooking video from Coach Ami Mackey from the Engine 2 Extra web site:

Find more videos like this on Engine 2 Extra

I'm hoping that people who don't belong to Engine 2 Extra can see this video. If not, PLEASE write a Comment and let me know. I figured you all must, why else would they share the embed code, right?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Esselstyn's Potato, Pea & Couscous Hash

A preview to my VeganMoFo's month of Dr. and Ann  Esselstyn's heart-healthy recipes from the book with this simple dish from Ann Esselstyn, Potato, Pea and Couscous Hash.  It was part of a collection submitted to a meet-up page and a few other sites, but is not in Dr. Esselstyn's book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.

Potato, Pea and Couscous Hash - submitted by Ann Esselstyn
1 large onion, chopped
1 large green or red bell pepper, chopped
1 ripe large tomato, chopped
1 tsp paprika
2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups diced all-purpose potatoes (1/2 inch pieces)
1 cup frozen peas (or whole package)
1 1/4 cups uncooked couscous
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley or cilantro

1. In a large nonstick skillet, stir fry onions in broth or any liquid a few minutes, then add peppers, garlic and paprika and cook until onion is soft, about 5 minutes.
2. Stir in broth, potatoes, and peas. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat to low and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 8 minutes.
3. Gradually stir in couscous, adding it in a stream, and parsley. Return to a simmer, cover and cook (without lifting lid) 1 minute. Remove from heat and let stand, covered 5 minutes. Gently fluff with a fork. Wait another few minutes then serve hot.

Nutrition Facts
Serving Size (250g)
Servings 6
Amount per serving
Calories 210  Calories from Fat 5
Percent Calories from Fat 2%
% Daily Value
Total Fat 0.5g
  Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 340mg 14%
My changes:
I didn't have whole wheat couscous at the time and bought the only package of couscous in the entire store, a small box of this brand. The recipe called for 1 1/4 cups, the package was 1 1/2 cups, so I used the whole box. Since then I had ordered a case of Bob's Red Mill whole wheat couscous from Amazon, because I know I'll be making this dish a lot in the future, it was that good!

For the pepper, I used frozen pepper strips. 

I used the whole 1-pound bag of frozen peas.

I used a can of diced no-salt-added tomatoes instead of the fresh. I didn't drain it, and in fact added a bit more water, because of the extra couscous. The instructions don't say when to add the tomato, so I just dumped it in with the peppers in step 2.

Instead of diced potatoes I used an equal amount of the shredded frozen hash browns, because that's what I had on hand.

Also, I had no fresh parsley so I used the dried, again in equal amounts.

This is the aftermath. I made this on a day early in my husband's recovery, on one of those rare occasions he was actually hungry and was willing to try something new. When cooked, I didn't want to make him wait to eat while I tried snap some photos and was lucky to grab this shot after the leftovers had been put away into my 3-cup Pyrex storage container.

If I had made this before his surgery, he probably would have had 2 big bowls of at least 3 cups each and gone back for seconds. Instead, he took a small bowlful, around 1 1/2 cups, and although he ate every bit of it and licked the bowl clean, he didn't want any more that day, but 2 days later he did knock off the entire 3-cup container of leftovers and asked if I had any more - a true sign of a great recipe! 

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

VeganMoFo - It's Official

This blog is now officially signed on for VeganMoFo 2013 under the Healthy Foods category.

I've already started a list of recipes I want to cover. Well, 2 lists, actually. One is all recipes from Dr. Esselstyn's book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, and the other is a mix of recipes from other heart-healthy specific books, as noted in my previous post on VeganMoFo

I'm glad the commitment is for only 20 posts within the month, because the way my husband's appetite is, I may not be making 20 main dishes the entire month. Even today, for lunch we finally finished off Matt Moore's Enchiladas that I made last week, and dinner tonight is leftovers of the pasta I added spinach and garlic to that I made on Saturday. This will be our fourth meal out of it and I'll still have a container of it left for another meal. We've been averaging between 800 - 1200 calories a day, with most on the low side of that range.

At least eating this way has caused me to drop 10 pounds this past month. All it took was a near-starvation diet! Wow! At this rate I should make my goal in a year and a half. Then again, we all know about plateaus and metabolism slow-downs and even weight gains when on a low calorie food plan, so I won't hold my breath or even dare to dream that I'll ever make my goal. It's a weight I hadn't seen since I was in eighth grade back in 1967, and that was after 2 years of 1000 calories and 2 hours of exercise a day just to lose 30 pounds. I'll be happy just to lost another 40 right now to take me back to a weight I was 30 years ago, before my son was born.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Engine 2 - Matt Moore's Enchiladas

Well, my own messed up but still delicious version of the enchiladas, anyway.

The recipe appears on the Engine 2 web site in the Recipes section.

My changes all came out of necessity. With my husband home and unable to be left alone yet, my son and I have been tag-teaming it to the grocery store. Mistakes were made, items on lists weren't purchased or the wrong items were. Menus were changed at the last minute, too, so not all the ingredients needed were on hand so I had to make do.

Originally I was going to make Mary McDougall's enchiladas from the McDougall Made Easy DVD, but I had no chilies and the can of refried beans I was going to use looked awful. I always mixed a can of refried with pintos and used to buy a popular ethnic brand, but lately have been buying a more expensive organic brand that was lower in salt. When half the beans in the can are blackened and the rest light pink, you just toss the whole shebang in the garbage and start over. I've used that brand before and knew this is NOT what it was supposed to look like! Unfortunately, I had no other cans of refried beans or and only 1 can of pinto beans. Back to the cardfile and I found this recipe that required no beans, but since I already opened and rinsed my pintos, I added them in, anyway, especially since my husband needs the protein and other good stuff to help his recuperation.

No store around here has no fat whole wheat tortillas, so I put corn tortillas on the grocery list for my son earlier this week. He's bought them before and knew what to get. Or so I thought. When I reached for the package yesterday I saw that what he bought contained only corn meal and salt and looked very much like fat tortillas, the package actually contained arepas. I had to look on Wikipedia to see exactly what they were, and although they're supposed to be fried up, I just used them as fat tortillas and layered them as directed in the recipe. There were only 6 so I broke them into quarters and spread them around in the casserole dish, but as you see in the photo above, the coverage was acceptable.

Mushrooms - no fresh on hand so used a can of no-salt added mushroom pieces. 

Spinach - I had only 1 one-pound bag in the freezer, and that turned out to be a good thing, because already this made a huge amount of filling! Any more mushrooms or spinach and it would be overflowing the lasagna pan!

Chilies - had none so didn't use any. I don't know where they went. I usually keep about 4 cans on hand at all times, but when I went to grab them last night they were just gone!

Enchilada sauce - I never use it, even in Mary McDougall's recipe. I just open up a jar of low-sodium pasta sauce. Once I used just a box of Pomi crushed and shook some garlic and onion powders into it. Tasted fine.

And the final difference between the two recipes - I microwaved it for 15 minutes instead of heating up the house by lighting the big oven.

The results? As mentioned above, delicious! With hubby's poor appetite lately we now have a tremendous amount left over, but that's fine. That's one (or more!) less meal I have to make next week.

I look forward to the next time I make it, that time using the right ingredients that the recipe calls for.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Now Chef AJ Shops at Whole Foods

First it was Jeff Novick,

and now Chef AJ does a video that shows her shopping at her local Whole Foods Market.
Shopping for Healthy Food with Chef AJ from Lifestyle Medicine Institute on Vimeo.

It's only 10 minutes long and doesn't go into the detail that Jeff's does, but it's nice, nevertheless.

Monday, August 5, 2013

VeganMoFo for September in 2013

Yikes!! Not much of a warning, but at least this year I already know what my theme will be - Heart Healthy Recipes form various vegan docs' heart books/web sites. This will include Dr. McDougall's The McDougall Program for A Healthy Heart, Dr. Fuhrman's Cholesterol Protection for Life, Dr. Esselstyn's Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease, Dr. Pinckney's Healthy Heart Handbook, and Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease. Too bad Dr. Fuhrman's new book, the one replacing Cholesterol Protection, isn't coming out until early 2014.

Dr. Neal Pinckney - Healing Heart Foundation

Since he's home, my husband's appetite has been poor. Granted, before all this he would rarely eat breakfast - maybe once a month, lunch at work consisted of a white flour potato roll and a slice of yellow American cheese (usually) or a slice of seitan (once in a blue moon) or leftovers on weekends. Dinner was always our big meal for the day and aside from his weekly cheese & pepperoni pizza, would be WFPB, no SOS (Whole Foods Plant Based, no sugar, oil or salt). I think I already mentioned his evening potato chip habit.

None of the old tried and true meals appealed to him this past week, and he's just been picking at everything. He would eat most of his breakfast, but some days skipped lunch and just had some applesauce. At dinner, if he ate about a cup of the meal offered that was it. As a result, the weight is dropping off of him. He's also weak and fatigued probably more than other post-op CABG patients because this is on top of his expected post-op fatigue and anemia. Add to this the effect of being on both a beta blocker and ACE inhibitor so his blood pressure is hovering around 86/50. Unfortunately, I suspect his cardiologist will be happy with the weight loss, even if it does mean he's too weak to even walk around the apartment without feeling like he's about to pass out. My husband's BMI was officially in the overweight category, but he's been at the exact same height and weight since he graduated high school back in the 1960's. The only time he lost was when he had the "Martian Death Flu" back in the early 1970's, before we started dating, when he and his mom were both so sick neither had the energy to get dressed to buy food so they went hungry and slept all day until it was over. As soon as they were both well, the weight came back on within days.

So I went looking through my cardfile for different recipes to make. I looked through Susan V's recipes, Jan Tz's, all the Esselstyn's and McDougall's, the nutritarian ones, Marla's and Sandy's and Jeff's, the EDTV ones, HH and the people she first ripped off, the PPK.

Then I came across a row of recipes that had been neglected for a while, those from Dr. Neal Pinckney's Healing Heart Foundation web site and his book, The Healthy Heart Handbook (available in its entirety at the web site). As I looked over the recipes I realized I hadn't made some of these in ages, that maybe that's what hubby needs to whet his appetite. I went back to the web site's recipe page to see what else is there, and was pleasantly surprised at how many I had passed up in the past that now look appealing! I spent over an hour just copy/pasting recipes, and will most likely spend even more time there later gathering more.

So now I have a list of meals I'm going to be trying as the weeks go on. For this week, hubby already warned me not to make anything fancy, in fact, not to plan on making anything at all, that he has no idea what he'll feel like until the time comes to eat. Really makes it hard to shop and prepare, you know! I do have a container of Jeff's Longevity Soup in the fridge we've been working on, and my freezer is full of veggies and the pantry filled with a variety of grains and pastas, as well as several forms of tomatoes, so most meals I can make up with no notice. For instance, today I hope to make Ann Esselstyn's Potato, Pea and Couscous Hash for dinner, but I won't know until it's time to start cooking if that's what I wind up making. But by next week his appetite should be back and I plan on making a menu to stick to, and I know a number of Dr. Pinckney's recipes will be included on it, like Lima Linguini Diablo and maybe even Okonomiyaki if I feel adventurous. Well, if the doctor eases up some of the sodium restrictions, that is. I'm sure that sauce is pretty high in it, even if I do use only the lower-sodium version. If I do wind up making some new dishes, I'll be sure to pop fresh batteries in the camera and take photos and notes on them.