K.I.S.S. Menu Planning

menu planningK.I.S.S. = Keep It Simple Sista!

Today I was talking to someone who does her menu planning every Sunday and she actually whipped out her notes there on the spot. As a result, I just about had a happiness heart attack. Picture me …. Click. I took a picture of it with a little hop in my step, and now I’m sharing it with you!

Note that she’s not vegan or macrobiotic, but here’s what I love about her menu plan: It’s super simple in a good way.  To make things work for she and her husband, she has a protein, grain, and vegetable. She has a brief list of items that she needs and then she has where she needs to buy them. This saves her hours that she can devote to play.

Do you need help menu planning? I’d love to help you put together your own plant-based plan and teach you how you can save yourself lots of valuable time that you could better utilize!  What is in it for you?

  • Improve eating habits
  • Maintain a healthy weight
  • Understand one’s body better
  • Make self-care a priority
  • Manage cravings and binges
  • Bring more mindfulness, peace, ease, and joy about cooking and eating into your life
  • Feel confident in choosing and preparing better food for you and your loved ones
  • Experience an increase in overall happiness in your life.

Contact me!

 

Could brown rice change your life?

When was the moment in my life where changing my diet made a real results-producing difference? I was thinking back to this, and when my life truly started to become really awesome was actually when I started to eat brown rice. It sounds completely strange and a little woo woo, I know. But here’s the story:

I was living and working in Eugene, OR at the age of 23 and had about the most disastrous break up a person could have; the lowest of moments probably for me by far and I’ll spare you the gory details. I’d get up and walk over to this cafe near my home and order the tempeh chili with brown rice and then go home and go back to bed for a while.

Slowly but surely, I see how my life started getting better. I would never have attributed any changes in my life at that moment in time to having eaten the rice, but now in hindsight, all of the most most profound healing things I did for myself came after that. That time was the vortex, the quantum leap, even though it took time to root, grow, and flower.

The flowers looked like this: I quit smoking, finished my undergrad degree, got an amazing job in the Psychology Department, came to Hawaii to get my MA, and then went to Japan to work and ultimately learn macrobiotics.  Along the way with these changes, I started earning more money and found greater inner peace.

The next big quantum leap came when I fully committed to eating a whole foods plant-based diet.  That put my journey on warp speed with pretty radical change. Now I suddenly wanted to open a business and do public speaking and actually ENJOYED this. (This surprised me more than anything.)  Of course not every moment has been perfection or ideal, but the general trend has been of great personal growth and improvement.

I just can’t say enough about the benefits of eating healthy, even if you do just one thing for yourself.  Eating well changes people on a deep holistic level that you would never expect. Whatever you do will sprout and grow into more goodness, perhaps without ever realizing!

 

Things I Love: Lemongrass

What is it about this plant, lemongrass, that is rocking my world right now?! I can’t seem to get enough of this delicious flavor, especially in soup.  While sipping my homemade Thai-style vegan Tom-Yum, I decided to look up the health benefits out of curiosity. It’s power packed with goodness!  Here’s what a couple of different sites say.

According to, http://www.nutrition-and-you.com,

  • “Lemongrass herb has numerous health benefiting essential oils, chemicals, minerals and vitamins that are known to have anti-oxidant and disease preventing properties.
  • The primary chemical component in lemongrass herb is citral or lemonal, an aldehyde responsible for its unique lemon odor. Citral also has strong anti-microbial and anti-fungal properties.
  • In addition, its herb parts contain other constituents of the essential oils such as myrcene, citronellol, methyl heptenone, dipentene, geraniol, limonene, geranyl acetate, nerol, etc. These compounds are known to have counter-irritant, rubefacient, insecticidal, anti-fungal and anti-septic properties.
  • Its leaves and stems are very good in folic acid (100 g leaves and stem provide about 75 µg or 19% of RDA). Folates are important in cell division and DNA synthesis. When given during the peri-conception period can help prevent neural tube defects in the baby.
  • Its herb parts are also rich in many invaluable essential B vitamins such as pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6) and thiamin (vitamin B-1). These vitamins are essential in the sense that body requires them from external sources to replenish.
  • Furthermore, fresh herb contains small amounts of anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin-C and vitamin-A.
  • Lemon grass herb parts, whether fresh or dried, are rich sources of minerals like potassium, zinc, calcium, iron, manganese, copper, and magnesium. Potassium is an important component of cell and body fluids, which helps control heart rate and blood pressure. Manganese is used by the body as a co-factor for the antioxidant enzyme, superoxide dismutase.”

Another site (indiaparenting.com) says,

  • “Helps to cope with fever
  • Helps to cope with cough and cold
  • Helps to cope with stress
  • Makes coping with high blood pressure easier
  • It lowers the cholesterol level
  • Helps to cleanse the body by eliminating toxic substances
  • Cleanses other organs of our body including kidney, pancreas, liver, bladder etc.
  • Helps to improve the digestive system
  • Helps to improve blood circulation
  • Helps to cope with excessive fats in body
  • Helps to deal with menstrual problems
  • Proves beneficial to cope with acne and pimples”

Definitely glad that I have added this to my diet!  Anything left over that I’m not using for soup, perhaps I’ll boil into some tea?

This plant also grows extremely well here in Hawaii.

 

 

Hidden Costs of Eating “Cheap Food”

Health

  • Scientific studies are now starting to implicate genetically modified foods to infertility
  • Studies show conventionally grown food has lower nutrient value
  • High fat and sugar diets lead to obesity, hypoglycemia and diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, digestive distress, among many other common lifestyle related illnesses (Plant-based diets prevent and reverse the same ailments.)
  • There are about 5,000 deaths each year from food-borne illnesses like e-coli
  • Someone else is controlling your food source! There’s a definite lack of information about what’s actually in the food.  Corporations do not often trace back to producers from places like China and it’s nearly impossible for consumers to get this information about all the ingredients in food items.

What’s the cost of getting a serious illness? Besides the financial cost, the emotional cost seems quite high.

Studies have shown that fruits and vegetables are more satiating–they make you feel fuller than junk food even though they have fewer calories.

Environmental

  • Pesticides poison farm workers, the water system, and those who eat the foods
  • Eroding soil
  • Lost marine life due to soil run-off
  • Loss of plant diversity from use of genetically modified seeds and produce
  • Risk of extinction to many marine species from overfishing
  • Use of machines to plant, harvest, refrigerate, and transport food uses fossil fuels that pollute the environment.

Economic

  • Small farmers going out of business
  • Resources are diverted to purchasing stimulants, depressants, sleeping pills, pain killers, and various other medications to alleviate symptoms
  • Use of machines to plant, harvest, refrigerate, and transport food uses expensive fossil fuels

 

Healthy Cooking: Easier, More Affordable, and More Fun than You Think!

The What

Whole foods are unprocessed and unrefined and come to us from as close to the source as possible.  In contrast, processed foods are genetically modified, colored, made by synthetic means, or laden with hormone additives. White flour, sugar, white rice, most cold cereals, crackers, and packaged foods are processed, for example, and even the things we tend to buy in Costco out of convenience more often than not have a long list of chemicals, preservatives, and additives.  In contrast, think quinoa, brown rice, and other whole grains; a wide variety of fresh organic or minimally processed fruits and vegetables; beans and bean products; nuts; seeds; and natural sweeteners.  Food is medicine!

The Why

Our health (and that of our families) is compromised every time we open a microwaveable meal, a cake mix, or a processed packaged food. In contrast, when we eat a nutritious and balanced whole foods diet, we are likely to experience a wide range of health benefits – better sleep, improved mood, easier weight management, more energy and the alleviation of a wide variety of lifestyle related illnesses.

The environment: environmental health is also being negatively impacted by industrial food practices

But…. “It’s so expensive.” “I don’t have time.” “It’s too difficult.” “I don’t know how.”

$$ Buy in bulk, buy dry goods like grains and beans, grow your own, cook and eat at home as much as possible. Think about it.  How much do you spend on coffee and sugary treats to give yourself energy, aspirin to combat headaches, alcohol or sleeping pills to relax and sleep, or to purchase medication for illness?” What about the cost of a very serious illness?  How do you put a value on quality of life?  How much do you spend to do other things? How much of your money is spent on things that you don’t really need?  Did you know that lentils and brown rice cost about $1.25 per meal on average?!

  • How much of your time is spent online? Watching TV? What if cooking this way is easier than you currently think? Are you willing to explore a new belief?

The How

Rather than focusing on what you “can’t” or “shouldn’t” eat, try adding something new into your diet as often as you can.  Buy a new cookbook.  Take a cooking class. Cook with a friend.  Find strategies to make things easier for yourself, like cooking large pots of soup and freezing it for later, or packing your lunch the night before if you have to leave early in the morning.  The benefits are so worth it!

Soy Takes The Heat

I consistently run into people these days who are truly scared and unwilling to eat tofu!   This concerns me as it’s an excellent protein source and Asian countries that consume tofu and other soy products have low rates of breast cancer in particular. Further, I worked for 3 years at the Cancer Research Center of Hawaii in Natural Products and Cancer Biology with a specialist who investigates soy isoflavones.  While I was there, I did numerous literature reviews and attended talks on this topic, the vast majority of which suggest that soy is health supportive. (I also have about 5 publications on which I’m a co-author that you can search for in the . I have no vested interest in posting this. I’m not getting paid by anyone!)

From the macrobiotic point of view, I would definitely say that quality and quantity are important.  The basic premises of macrobiotics include focusing your diet on ingredients that are local, organic, seasonal, and having plenty of variety.

What type of soy might you be eating, and how much of it? If you’re consuming isolated soy protein, burgers, TVP, sausages, mock chicken or other mock meats, soy cream cheese, soy sour cream, soy yogurt, and other items like that, although they are vegan, they are not whole foods so are best limited or avoided.  Processed foods are not health supportive.  If you look at the ingredients in those particular food items, you’re going to most likely see a variety of other items that are hard to pronounce.  In addition, if they’re not organic, they are pretty much almost guaranteed to be genetically modified.

In contrast, we need to look at how traditional cultures have consumed soy.  In this category I would include traditionally made and organic shoyu (soy sauce), tempeh, natto, miso, and tofu.

Here’s a great article that was published in the Dec 2011 Vegetarian Times on p24 that goes through some of the current research on this issue.

For inspiration, here’s a photo of the oven-baked tofu I just made:

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Ask the Doc

Soy Takes the Heat

Is this legume safe to eat?

Soy Takes the Heat

By Neal D. Barnard, MD

Q: I’ve heard that soy has estrogens in it. Is that good or bad?

A: Soybeans contain compounds known as isoflavones, whose chemical structure is similar to human estrogens; these similarities cause speculation that soy products might have hormonal effects?feminizing men or increasing cancer risk in women, for example. Such concerns have been put to the test. The results show no negative effects from soy on men’s hormonal function; soy does not interfere at all with testosterone or sperm production.

As for cancer risk, several research teams have tracked the dietary habits of people who’ve developed cancer and those who’ve remained cancer-free; compiling the results of these studies in 2008, researchers at the University of Southern California found that women who ate a daily serving of soy products had about a 30 percent reduced risk of developing breast cancer, compared with women who consumed very little soy. (A serving is approximately 1 cup of soymilk, 1/2 cup of tofu, or a similar amount of other soy products.) So a modest amount of soy eaten regularly may actually reduce the risk that breast cancer will occur.

Moderate intake may also boost survival in women who’ve been treated for breast cancer. The Shanghai Breast Cancer Survival Study followed 5,042 breast cancer survivors for four years. Those who ate two daily servings of soy were about 30 percent less likely to have a cancer recurrence or cancer death, compared with those who avoided soy.

Q: Does soy cause thyroid problems?

A: Not according to the evidence. But if you’re hypothyroid?, meaning your thyroid gland acts sluggish, ?be aware that soy products can reduce the absorption of thyroid supplements. If you take these medicines, your health care provider can check if your dose needs to be adjusted.

Q: How can I tell if I am allergic to soy?

A: Like other allergies, a reaction to soy can manifest with hives, flushing, itching, runny nose, or wheezing that occurs shortly after exposure. An allergy can also cause local symptoms, such as swelling of the lips, tongue, or throat, and digestive upset, including abdominal pain and diarrhea. Some people can tolerate modest amounts of soy, and react only when they get too much. In rare cases an allergy can be life-threatening, a condition called anaphylaxis.

Most children with soy allergy outgrow it. But the opposite can occur too. A person can develop an allergy to a food that caused no problem previously.

Doctors can easily check for a soy allergy with skin testing and specialized blood tests. But if you think you might be allergic to soy, you can simply avoid it for a few weeks and notice if your symptoms improve. If so, you can challenge yourself with it later on and see if your symptoms return. Do not try this if your allergy symptoms are severe.

Q: Can I be getting too much soy?

A: Not so far as we know, but there’s some benefit in favoring minimally processed soy products; and tempeh are tops, followed by soymilk and tofu. Producing meat substitutes often means extracting and concentrating soy protein, so you’??re getting further away from the bean that nature intended.

Culinary explorations & adventures in community

This September, I had a chance to go visit my family on the mainland.  Here are a few of the wonderful things I saw:

  • Fall harvest vegetables grown just outside the city.  There are white pumpkins and wing squashes along with other varieties.
  • Food truck rally – I found it fascinating that one of the trucks was painted with the phrase “Recession Dining”.  The food truck culture was huge there!  To my surprise (and joy) there was a truck that had a couple of vegan options, one of which had already sold out.
  • My favorite truck was Native Foods.  The woman who owned it was a young woman with so much love and joy for cooking.  Her passion came through in the flavors.  I nibbled a little bit of the fry bread and tasted some of her french fries.  She made tacos and enchiladas with the fry bread as a shell.
  • The last thing was an amazing new health food store complete with a demo kitchen and community room.  How I wish it were mine!

 

Last Sunday’s “Got Spice?” cooking class

In the 8/12 Got Spice? cooking class I taught how to make:

  • Smoky Chipotle Black Bean Dip
  • Red Lentil Tagine
  • Thai Vegetable Soup

And more from when I was setting up and waiting for all the participants to arrive…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have one more class in the series coming up on 8/19! CSA BOX

Got Spice?

Want more balance in your life? Tired of having cravings? Want to know how to enhance to flavor of your food, naturally? Come find out this Sunday the importance of flavor in your food in “Got Spice?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This coming Sunday is the “Got Spice?” cooking class!

[FULL STORY]

Reducing Medication

By Terry Shintani, M.D., J.D., M.P.H.
President, Hawaii Heath Foundation

What if you could reduce your need for medication in just 10 days? What if, at the same time, you saw your weight, cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and chronic pain decrease, and your energy increase while eating more food?

This is how I believe medicine should be practiced – with [READ FULL STORY]