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Spicy Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce

We have featured Spicy Vegan Nachos on our menu from day one.  They have continued to be a favorite and an great option for those curious about vegan food.  We shared the recipe on our WBIR cooking segment but wanted to add the recipe here as well.  We love sharing recipes and tips.  The cheese sauce is of course diary-free, vegan and nut-free.  Many vegan cheese options include soaked cashews or other nuts.  With the increase of nut allergies and the amount of oil and fat in nuts we have selected chickpeas as our preferred alternative.  It's easy to customize the level of heat / spiciness of the cheese by adjusting the spices.  Enjoy!

Spicy Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce

Ingredients:

1 can of Chickpeas + water

1/2 cup Nutritional Yeast

1/4 cup diced Roasted Red Bell Pepper

1/8 cup diced Green Chilies

2 Tbsp Tahini

1 Tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

2 Tsp Yellow Mustard

1 Tsp Onion Powder

1 Tsp Garlic Powder

1/4 Tsp Chili Powder

1/4 Tsp ground Tumeric

Salt & Pepper, to taste

 

Instructions:

Measure and blend all ingredients in a high-speed blender or food processor till smooth.  

 

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food and high blood pressure

Some foods can help get health issues, like high blood pressure, under control.  Beets are a natural source of nitrates.  Plant-based nitrates help relax blood vessels which makes blood flow more easily and lowers blood pressure.  Studies do show that you need to consume at least 8 oz a day to really have beet juice be effective.   I'm not a big fan of beet juice so I have to drink it in small doses.  You can also help reduce blood pressure by eating foods high in potassium and magnesium.  A nice sweet potato or banana would be great addition to your daily diet.  Don't ruin the benefits of these foods by consuming high sodium meals or drinking lots of alcohol.  Here's a nice juice recipe that you can make that combines the benefits of nitrates and potassium in one tasty glass.  

beet the high blood pressure juice

1/2 inch ginger root
1/2 beet
1 small sweet potato
2 oranges
2 granny smith apples

Start juicing the ingredients in the order that they are listed.   You could also make this a smoothie by blending it with ice.  The benefit of the smoothie is the fiber which is also good for high blood pressure.  

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Melatonin in food

At different times in life we may find it hard to fall asleep.  Sometimes it's due to stress and sometimes it's just how it is.  Often it's because of the food we're eating.  If you eat a large meal too close to bed time it can cause you to stay awake due to heartburn or just feeling overly full.  Fatty and spicy food can also contribute to a sleepless night.  The amazing thing about food is that you can also eat things that boost melatonin and act as a natural sleep aid.  Here's a great recipe that is tasty and can help when you encounter times you just can't fall asleep.  

Tart Cherry Balls

1/2 cup tart dried chaerries
1/2 cup almonds
3 medjool dates

In a food processor pulse all the ingredients until they create a paste.  Roll into quarter size balls. Eat 2-3 cherry balls a half an hour before bedtime.  Tart Cherries combined with the almonds provide a rich natural source of melatonin.  

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"The truth is a stubborn thing.  It won't go away."

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"The truth is a stubborn thing. It won't go away."

We had an opportunity to preview a new documentary that will be released this summer.  PlantPure Nation is gift from Nelson Campbell and the producer/writer of Forks Over Knives. Throughout the film, the benefits of a whole food plant based diet are showcased against the backdrop of a resistant political climate.  Stories of individual and community transformation shine an unmistakeable light into the uncertainties of those consuming and promoting the Standard American Diet (S.A.D.).  PlantPure Nation adds a voice to the growing chorus of scientists and citizens who embrace this alternative lifestyle.  The production team shared a vision for connected communities through the creation of PlantPure Pods in each city where the movie plays this July 2015.  We were impressed with the personal investment and passion of Nelson Campbell and his father, Dr. T. Colin Campbell (author of The China Study).  Our diets are a very personal matter.  It is not surprising that any information that seems to go against our own accepted choices is met with skepticism and sometimes defensiveness.  The movie fairly displays those on both sides of this diet debate.  As with any movement or revolution there are those deeply invested on both sides.  If you are committed to living a plant based life we would strongly encourage you to see this important film and continue to share your personal experiences.  If you are committed to living the standard american life by consuming the Standard American Diet, we would strongly encourage you to see the film and add your voice to the debate.  The movie begins with the quote that shares the title of this post.  "The truth is a stubborn thing.  It won't go away."

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yummy vegan mac and not cheese

When you decide to eat strictly plant based foods for whatever reason, health, animal welfare, global warming, the one thing you'll struggle with no matter what is kicking the dairy habit.  There is a reason for this.  The primary protein in milk is casein.  When digesting casein the body produces casomorphins which have an opiate-like effect on humans.  Scientists have also found traces of morphine in cheese products.  This morphine is produced by the cows and it's thought to be a natural way to keep the calves coming back to the mommy cow for more milk.  So this is one reason you may be having a hard time staying away from dairy.  You're getting a little high when eating cheese.  How is this legal?!?!  

I've been avoiding cheese for some time now and I still get an overwhelming urge to eat my way through the cheese display at the grocery store.  In fact sometimes if I go past the beautiful cheese mountain at the store my mouth waters uncontrollably.  Unfortunately I can't tell you that there are substitutes out there that taste exactly like cheese and are healthy for you.  Nope, there is nothing out there that tastes like a warm gooey grilled cheese sandwich.   I will tell you that there is a vegan mac and cheese recipe that will help you through the initial withdrawals of your dairy purge and here it is.  Make it and think of all the love those cows have for their calves and remember you are helping them and yourself by not eating milk products. 

Here is a link to the study of casein.  

10 ounces dried macaroni (or about 2⅔ cups)
1 cup peeled/diced yellow potatoes (or russets)
¼ cup peeled/diced carrots
⅓ cup chopped onion
¾ cup water (preferably use liquid from pot of boiled veggies)
½ cup raw cashews
¼ cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
1 tablespoon lemon juice
¾ to 1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
1 pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
1 pinch paprika

Cook macaroni al dente, according to package instructions drain, and set aside. Bring several cups of water to boil in a small pot. Place chopped potatoes, carrots, and onion in the boiling water, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until vegetables are tender and soft enough to blend. When veggies are soft enough to blend, use a slotted spoon to remove them from cooking water, and place them in your blender. Add ¾ cup of the cooking water to your blender, along with your remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth. Pour sauce over your cooked macaroni noodles in a dish of your choice, taste for salt, and serve immediately.

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the loaf

We've made quite a few veggie loafs over time.  Most of them with some sauce work as a passable substitute for meat loaf but there is one recipe that blows them out of the water. The one in The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease cookbook.  It's call the Eat Loaf.  We've tweaked it with different ingredients of our own but the main parts of this dish are the same.  I like to add some fresh oregano or basil and let it sit overnight.  To serve I slice and place it in a nonstick pan with a little coconut oil, browning both sides.  I also make my own healthy bbq sauce to control the sugar and sodium.  The main thing about this recipe is that everyone loves it!  You can make it early in the week, serve it for dinner, and have plenty of leftovers for lunches.   

1 large onion chopped
3 large cloves garlic minced
8 ounces mushrooms chopped
2 cups chopped broccoli
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1/2 red bell pepper diced
4 cups kale
1/2 cup parsley
3 tablespoons fresh oregano 
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon Mrs. Dash seasoning mix
1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes
2 (15 ounce) cannellini or navy beans drained and rinsed
2 cups old fashioned oats 
1 cup barbecue sauce

Preheat the oven to 350 F.
In a nonstick frying pan, cook the onions for a few minutes over medium high heat until translucent.  Make sure you keep moving the onions around because you won't have any oil in the pan and that way they don't stick.  You can add a little water if you feel the onions are sticking to the bottom of the pan too much. At this point you will add the garlic, mushrooms, broccoli, carrots, and bell pepper.  Cook for about 8 minutes.  Add the kale and cook until the kale is wilted.  Take off the burner and add the parsley, oregano, pepper, Mrs. Dash, and sun dried tomatoes.  Let the veggie mixture cool a little.  

In a separate bowl add the beans and oats and mix very well by mashing with your hands.  Add the veggies and combine well.  Coat the bottom of two loaf pans with 1/4 cup of barbecue sauce and add half the veggie bean mixture to each pan.  Add another 1/4 cup of barbecue sauce to the top of each loaf. Bake for 1 hour.  Let the loaf cool and set.  You can serve that same day but I love to serve this the next day to let it firm up.  

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Culinary Rx

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Culinary Rx

What if there was a better way for physicians to guide their patients toward the dietary changes needed to live a vibrant and healthy life?

What if it included a blend of hands-on cooking instructions and collective wisdom from the country's leading nutritional scientists?

What if physicians could simply prescribe this program as easily as they can write a prescription for another medication?

The day is here.  Check out Culinary Rx.

An incredible partnership between Rouxbe Cooking School. and  The Plantrician Projectthis course will focus on teaching the foundational cooking skills need for long-term behavioral change, coupled with lifestyle education around nutrition and resources that will help users successfully face the many challenges inherent to dietary change.

Having personal experience with the programs and educators involved, This initiative has my highest recommendation.  

 

 

 

 

 

 

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A step in the right direction

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A step in the right direction

We are all aware of the benefit of exercise on our overall health.  I am a believer that any exercise or activity is better than the alternative.  This position allows me to encourage anyone who is taking a step, however small, toward a healthier life.  I love hearing how people are taking control of their own health and vitality by adding physical movement and or healthier eating to their daily routine.  Even small steps can be huge leaps in a new direction for those who have felt trapped by result of their lifestyle choices.  

 

I was recently introduced to a 2013 study the George Washington University School of Public Health and Health Services.   Lead author Loretta DiPietro, Professor and Chair of the Department of Exercise Science, points to the adoption of a simple daily habit as a powerful step toward combating the growing national epidemic of diabetes.  Here are two articles that highlight the study findings (BBC News and USA Today).

 

Could it really be that a simple 10 minute walk after each meal has such a positive effect?  I could not be more happy to see studies like this one gain a voice in our current medical landscape.  It seems we often rush to drugs and procedures to combat our ills when simple diet and activity changes can yield positive results.  I was very excited to share the information with my father over the Thanksgiving holiday.  He is a diabetic who is investigating a plant-based diet and daily activity as ways to improve his overall health.  We recently celebrated a drop in his diabetic indicators and a decrease in his daily medication due to his lifestyle changes.  He is quickly becoming his own best advocate for his health and I could not be more proud of him.  While visiting my parents and family we walked together frequently and he feels that he can add the suggested 10 minute post meal walk with ease.

 

Another discovery from the articles linked above was the concept of the passeggiata.  This is an italian tradition of a leisurely evening stroll.  The walk is a social one as communities connect with one another after the days work.  I am a firm believer in the power of community and connection as essential parts of our overall wellness.  Let’s explore extending the path from the dinner table to the television by inserting a brief neighborhood stroll.  Even better, invite someone to join you and take a step in the right direction together.  No cost, no side effects, just a simple decision to invest in yourself and others.  

 

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Fed Up...but empty

We recently watched the May 2014 documentary Fed Up.  Having missed the film at the local theater we were excited to see what the filmmakers had to add to the world of nutritional information and transparency.  As with most documentaries the movie does provide a multitude of statistics and information displayed in easily digestible infographics.  We were most moved by the several children who are profiled and their struggles for healthy living.  While the documentary does accurately point a finger at sugar as a dangerous and all too available source of weight gain and health issues, it seems to spend its screen time on the problems and not solutions.    The desperation of the children featured was simply heart breaking.  We kept expecting the film to turn its focus to providing these young people with tools to make the life changes needed but it left this part of the story untold.  We can only hope that those who know and support these young ones surround them with the nutritional options and fitness opportunities they could most benefit from.  Any voice adding authenticity to the confusing and clouded world of food labels and lobbyists is a welcome and needed one.  Check out this film for some great information about the current obstacles we face with every meal.  We also encourage you to grow your awareness and share with those you know and love.  There are many among us who need clear information and helpful tips how to live a healthy life.  

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