Hospitalized: Negotiating A Whole Food Plant Based Diet No Oil, No Sugar

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Having a hysterectomy was inevitable. My mother and twin sister both needed to have one done in their 40’s. I was in the 82nd percentile for having the same issues they did..  Here I was 56 and it was time for me. I knew a few years back that I was headed that direction with the need of repeated D and C’s, due to thickening uterus walls and bleeding that should never be happening. Seemed like a crossroads.

I found it a little depressing because like for all women, my uterus and it’s attachments had been a big part of my life for many years.  A pain in the neck, yes.  Just not sure how losing those parts would impact me overall.

Then I realized how ridiculous I was being and decided to be even more ridiculous but in a more fun manner.  We turned it into a celebration! We took this life event and made it our own.   I made a meme and invited my facebook friends to celebrate the end of an era, the parting of me from my uterus. We all got a good laugh out of it.

Uterus good bye

While laughing about it helped, I also wanted to give myself the best chance of being my healthiest going into the surgery and during recovery. Maintaining my whole food plant based diet has been very important as a tool to being my healthiest.  It’s the one thing I have control over.

One would assume that since a hospital is a place of healing that they would serve healthy foods. Reality is that in the mix are class one carcinogen. Translation would be to say that it’s the same as smoking cigarettes. Sausage is considered a processed meat so picture them being sold in cigarette cartons as well. Then there are eggs which I simply refuse to eat.

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Eek! Avoid The Processed Foods!

 

So seemed counter productive to have my uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries and cervix removed and enduring a hospital stay to improve my health, but at the same time eat the typical hospital food offerings.

My healing depended on continuing to eat whole food plant based no oil, low fat, low glycemic index, no added sugar low glycemic index. So no white flour, no animal product and no processed foods.

I phoned  in advance the dietician responsible for the meals served to see what was possible. There were some great options they had available. They invited me to bring any shelf stable foods of my own to use with what they could provide. I took them up on their offer.

I brought in some foods from home including fortified nutritional yeast, brown rice, a pull top can of chick peas, an envelope of prepared, shelf stable baby beluga black lentils, and WASA crackers.  I used them with a modified version of a couple of their menu selections they prepared without oil and other items I asked them to alter.  I enjoyed delicious water sautéed stir friend vegetables with black lentils. Their pasta with marinara sauce and chickpeas, broccoli,cherry tomatoes and spinach with a side of orange sections was lovely.

Mercy Hospital even sautéed  vegetables for my breakfast

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Hospital dinner
Mercy Hospital in St. Louis Missouri water sautéed a mixture of vegetables and then I added black lentil and nutritional yeast to make it balanced. Very healing.

My surgeon, Dr. Cory Wagner did a wonderful job on my surgery and fully supports my eating Whole Food Plant Based Oil Free and Low Glycemic Index.  My labs were perfect for surgery and all went well.

I am now home and have a freezer and fridge filled with my favorite berries, greens, fresh vegetables, apples and oranges, homemade bean burgers, a shelf with my favorite crackers, rolled oats, garbanzo beans, black beans, lentils and dried peas.

As I continue to recover I won’t stop continuing to evolve as a healthier person. Each chapter of life is ours to safeguard and enjoy. We have power in selecting what we eat and to work with the world around us to make it happen.

I want to thank ‘St. Louis Mercy Hospital for being open to bending their menu selections to meet my needs. It kept my blood sugars level, my blood pressure healthy, and kept me from blowing up like a balloon.

I also want to thank my husband Tim for coming up to the hospital at night and rubbing my feet and making me feel like a special woman. He even made a special trip just to bring me an apple to snack on.

 

Thank you to my son Eric who held down the fort at home so well and gave me such a wonderful homecoming.

I love my family and I love my life, every stage of it and every challenge I come across. Lots of changes for the better. I am grateful.

 

Gourmet Black Beans Burgers Using WFPB Spinach Artichoke Dip

Bean Burger ala Dippy Plate 2

We hadn’t been there in 10 years. We went back to Fitz Root Beer Bottling Company and Restaurant as part of our 10th anniversary week.  Heard they now serve a mean black bean burger. It was delicious but when I enquired as to what was in it, I learned that the secret ingredient was their spinach-artichoke dip. Drats! It had animal products in it.

Looked online for simple spinach-artichoke dips that didn’t use oil or animal products. They may be out there, but I didn’t find any.  I have these stupid extremely painful Dercums Disease tumors all over including my arms and along my spine.  So being on me feet, using my arms for any length of time without arm rests and so on, was a no go. So that took away most options. I knew my husband and son would not be willing to do all the work on new recipe like this. Ii was going to have to wait until I had a good day and play with this and just pray it didn’t get too involved. They had enough on their plates. I would need to be the one to at least do parts of it. So it had to be simple.

This was one of those situations where having convenience appliances like a Vitamix makes all the difference. And my husband took care of the more taxing parts of it. Love, love, love the results

So with Fitz Root Beer Bottling Company and Restaurant’s bean burger as inspiration, and guidance from reading multiple recipes online, I came up with this recipe. My husband and I just love it and we swear it’s every bit as good as what we had at Fitz, but without the animal products. It is still 100% compliant to a WFPB No Oil or added Sugar, Low Glycemic Index and Low Fat and Sodium Way Of Eating.

Both recipes have also been geared to be exactly the amounts needed to make exactly 7 to 9 large burgers or 14-18 smaller burgers. If you want dip to spare for the days to come, just double that recipe.

The recipe for the dip is at the end of this article. Highly recommend it as a dip on it’s own.

Black Beans w/WFPB Spinach-Artichoke Dip Burgers (Wowzer Burgers)

Makes 7-9 large burgers or 14-18 smaller burgers

Preheaat oven at 400 degrees F

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed..

1 can of any kind of lentils OR my favorite, 1 packet of Target’s Simply Balanced black beluga lentils (if you can’t find these and don’t want to cook lentils, just skip them and maybe use less of the dip sauce)

* 1 cup of the Spinach-Artichoke Dip (recipe at the end) combined with 1/3 cup salsa of your choice

2/3 cup or more compliant crumbs, 100% oil free white flour free, 100% whole grain options such as whole rye crackers, whole wheat bread

1/2 tbl. garlic powder

Step 1. Combine the ingredients in the order listed. Will be meatloaf consistency.

Step 2. For the burgers  and stick them covered, in your refrigerator for 1-2 hours.

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Step 3. On parchment paper lined cookie sheets, bake the burgers for 10 minutes. Remove and allow them to cool enough to be easier to flip over. Then bake for another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let set for 15 minutes. Serve or cool off completely and freeze.

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Vegan Oil Free Baked Spinach Artichoke Dip

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It gets incredibly thick when it bakes. That’s what you want so it helps the beans hold together in the bean burger recipe.

Preheat Oven 425 degrees

3/4 cup raw unsalted cashews (either soak in water for 4 hours or use quick method of bringing them to a boil in water with a good size squirt of lemon juice, then cover and let sit for 20 minutes) drained

2 cloves of garlic sliced

1/2 small diced onion (or you can add in onion powder to taste later on)

3/4 cup unsweetened non diary milk (plant milk)

1/8th cup (or more) nutritional yeast

1 Tbl lemon juice

1/2 tsp salt

2 cup loosely packed fresh spinach

One 14 oz can oil free artichokes

optional vegan parmesan cheese

Combine all the ingredients except vegetables in a high power blender and pulverize until very smooth. Add the vegetables and blend until smooth (If you are making this as a dip only, you may want to leave it chunky).

Pour into a small baking dish, sprinkle if you desire a little additional seasoning or nutritional yeast on the top.

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Bake for 20 minutes or until browning and thick.

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Easy Black Bean Burgers Recipe

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What has kept me sane in the last year. Black Bean Burgers.  I get requests for the recipe every week so I thought I would post this. Easy to make, season to taste, Use as a healthy substitute for animal product burgers, on top of riced vegetables or on top of greens. Use t as part of a buddha bowl.  Top it with fresh tomatoes and some pickles, hummus, cashew cheese sauce,  onions, salaa, a couple sliced olives, mushrooms or a pile of greens

Stick them in the freezer for fast meals.

Ingredients:

Your choice of a bag of dried black beans (usually a pound size) cooked per directions, or 3-4  cans of drained and rinsed black beans. Organic and salt free is best, but rinsing the normal kind helps quite a bit.

A variety of salsa or oil free huumus that you enjoy. (We really enjoy low sodium black bean salsa. It blends in well and keeps it moist) I use 1/4 or more.

Ground Flax Seed and water or Bob’s Red Mill Vegan Egg substitute or a combination of the two. (For binding). You want it to be the equivalency of 1 or 2 eggs.

Use any of the following to help binding:
-oats (whole or ground into flour)
-garbanzo bean flour (Bob’s Red Mill is easiest to find)
-compliant bread ground into crumbs
The amounts vary from a half cup to a cup or so. Enough to make a meatloaf kind of consistency.

Any finely chopped vegetables you enjoy (optional). The key word here is finely chopped because big chunks may make it easier for the burger to fall apart. Ideas include beats, onions, peppers, carrots, cauliflower,zucchini, chopped baby kale, a little mashed sweet potato with skin left on.

Suggested possible seasoning (Pick your favorites)

-Curry Seasoning
-Turmeric
-Garlic Powder
-Onion Powder
-Dried Crushed Red Pepper
-Black Pepper (I’m allergic so I don’t use it)
-Oregano
-Basil
-lime juice
-lemon juice
-chopped fresh cilantro (really great with the lime juice)

-to get the B-12 as you would from meat in each burger, use a fortified nutritional yeast and sprinkle into each burger you form.

Other alternatives: Use different kinds of beans, lentils and peas in with the black beans.

Directions:

Using a fork, mash the beans. It will be lumpy and it’s fine for them to not be completely mashed.

Combine ingredients with the beans and with clean hands or a fork combine the ingredients.

You can vary the amount of binding ingredients to make sure that it is a meatloaf like consistency. You can also refrigerate the mixture to get it to firm up. I have also found that just letting the mixture set for a few minutes on the counter helps this too. It will firm up in the oven if you bake it.

TASTE IT AS YOU MAKE IT TO ADUST SEASONING AND INGREDIENTS.THERE IS NOTHING IN IT THAT SHOULD MAKE YOU SICK.

Patty making:

We find it helpful to make the patties two different sizes. A fourth cup size and a half cup size. That way you can combine one or the other with different low glycemic meal items and keep the low glycemic carb load within reason.

Also we make some thinner but larger in diameter and some a little thicker. No matter what, make sure they are firmly put together and not so big that they are more likely to fall apart.

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Cooking Instructions:

On a parchment paper lined cookie sheet, place reasonably spaced out patties. You can sprinkle additional seasoning options.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20 -30 minutes. Use a non slotted spatula for all flipping and removal of burgers.

You remove it from the oven at the half way point, allow it to cool down just enough to let it firm up, and then flip the burgers. Reapply any seasonings if you want. Place back in oven for additional time.

When done, allow the burgers to “set” for 10-15 minutes. They should have the firmness of any typical burger.

Good news is that if they crumble ( only once has this happened to me and that was in the beginning), just set them aside in your freezer and use the crumbles for tacos, burritos or in other dishes.

Storage:

Once cooled down completely, I use your favorite freezer safe container. Use layers wax paper between each layer of burgers. I put in a combination of sizes in each layer so I don’t have to dig through the layers to find the size that works. Store in Freezer for weeks.

Typically we make 12-24 black bean burgers at a time and freeze them. It is so worth it. Whether my husband is cooking or I can manage to reheat them myself, it’s great for throwing together a no fuss meal with some greens and fresh fruit and veggies on the side. Keeps me compliant.

Chronic Illness makes it important not only to stick with eating healthy, but to make it doable. For those with crippling illness, It is fine to make this and set it aside in the fridge for a day before making the patties and baking them. No need to be on your feet too long. Or sit at your table and work on it. A little effort on making these means that you will have many easy meals in your future.

Keep bags of fresh dark greens, fresh fruit, and vegetables you can eat raw or easily prepare in your fridge. Keep frozen vegetables, berries and fruit  in your freezer. 

 

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The cheese like topping is a combination of Trader Joes Cashew Cheese Fiesta Dip, additional fortified nutritional yeast to make it cheesier, garlic powder and a touch of crushed red pepper.

It’s Simple: Get Yourself Some Plants & Eat Them

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Grilled Mushroom Steak marinated oil free, on top of brown rice and peas with curry seasoning. baby spinach and baby kale on the side with lemon juice.

Whole Food Plant Based (WFPB) eating isn’t nearly as difficult as some fear it to be. It’s simple, you get plants and you eat them. You try not to process them more than you have to  you eat as much of the whole plant as possible and no oil or sugar and keep it low glycemic index and low sodium.  In other words, just eat plants or a combination there of.

It’s all mental. I now routinely pop into my mouth greens with nothing on them at all.   A little lemon or lime or squeeze half of an orange onto greens, sure.  That’s a far cry from my youth.

I’m part of the original Golden Arches generation back in the tiny town in Ohio where I grew up. We were the first batch of youth in that town to have a McDonalds at their disposal. Getting food from McDonalds was a treat in those days.  It was reserved for an occasional Friday night or after church on Sunday, or to celebrate something special. I remember fantasizing before I discovered boys,  about being living at the McDonalds and being allowed to eat all the cheeseburgers I wanted.

Even mentally back then, food was a reward and part of the celebration and all of it was about meat and dairy and eggs. (it’s so stupid, but I remember the first time I had an egg McMuffin).

So you mentally have to give up that notion of the very food that has made you sick being worth it to you to eat. It’s all an addiction and you need to get refocused on living instead of contributing to an early death.  You are hearing it from the horses mouth here. LDL dropped 57% in the first month while cutting my blood sugars in half, and no more blood pressure issues. Boy oh boy did I lose weight! After a few weeks people thought I had weight reduction /bariatric surgery.

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Left April 2018. Right June 2018
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Me November 2018

All I am saying is Give Plants A Chance!

My suggestions and resources I used

I did it cold turkey. Others have to ease into it in their own way. In the end you just have to say, screw it and know that the anxiety you feel about eating plants is based on bad information. Face your fears and stop putting  the animal products for a week and give it a try. Just eat the plants!

You acquire the plants and you eat them. What can be easier?

Black beans and salsa, whole grain tortillas, sweet potatoes, peas, lentils, greens of all varieties, squash, and on and on and on. Fresh, frozen, even sometimes canned if low sodium, it’s fine. You can combine those things as you wish, but try to keep the whole edible plant in what you eat.  Let your body digest the whole plant. It helps to stabilize the blood sugars which impacts the condition of our endothelium cells on the walls of our blood vessels throughout our body.

 

 

Avoid using oil, salt, sugar, artificial sweeteners, and overly processed foods like white rice and white flour. Keep it to actual plants and low sodium herbs and seasonings.

To this day, I stagnate in my progress if I give in on the oil and sugar or I eat processed foods including processed vegan foods. It’s just not worth undoing the good that I’ve done over the last nine months.

And to my friends with chronic health conditions and those who care about them:

Try to remember that this is a wonderful tool and it’s possible to see some reversal of symptoms but not a guarantee of a cure. Even if you lose weight, losing weight isn’t the end all with some chronic conditions. It looks more attractive and it feels good to look good. BUT that doesn’t mean that the person is magically cured of all chronic issues. But I know in my case it sure has likely helped to add to the length and quality of my life.

Work with your medical team, remember animal products is a head game and not really necessary to survive and oh yea one more thing…

Just Eat Those Plants!

 

 

 

 

Self-Care Nutrition In The World Of Chronic Illness

 

In our household. we take care of eachother. Doesn’t matter who the caregiver or the one needing taken care of is. We look out for eachother. Hey we are a family of adults making it work!

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Anyone with a severe chronic illness or the caregiver of someone who is chronically ill, knows that self care is both a must and many times the hardest to provide oneself.

There isn’t anything more basic in self-care than good solid nutrition. The less hassle the better too. The less hassle. the more likely it’s going to happen. The less hassle, the kinder you are being towards whoever is responsible for making it happen.

When dealing with chronic illness, it can be our biggest weapon to ease our suffering and even in some cases reverse the chronic Illness. Good nutrition can help slow down some chronic condition’s advancement and prevent new ones from taking hold.  It can allow our medications a chance to work better, or if lucky, it can replace the need for prescription medications all together.

Living off store bought frozen entrees with less than healthy ingredients like high sodium, animal products and non whole foods, for me would never help. Fast food will make most people’s health more complicated. So the sooner any of us in these sorts of shoes can figure this out for ourselves, the better.

With Dercum’s Disease, Fibromyalgia,and Lymphedema, Lipedema and Diabetes and low grade start to coronary disease, it has come down to me to figure this out. How to eat to not make things worse. What can be healthy to eat, inexpensive, and easy enough to prepare that my husband can manage along with all his other responsibilities. If it can be easy enough for me on a good day to prepare and toss individual servings in the freezer, that’s great too.

This week I am recovering from the Plant-Based Nutrition Summit last Saturday, and one grocery run on Monday. (Dercum’s Disease is like that, overdo it and you are down for the count. It doesn’t take much). Even a motorized scooter couldn’t save me from being a pain filled zombie on Sunday, part of Monday, and  bed bound on Sunday and part of Tuesday and all day Wednesday through Thursday morning.

Yet unlike the past when this would start to happen, I’m not eating greasy cheeseburgers my husband is bringing home, or processed foods on white bread, or even sodium filled frozen entrees. We aren’t going broke from food either.

Now that we are established in a plant-based diet as a household, we have kept it easy to manage and afford.

The easy sandwich/pesto recipe:

Aldi sells frozen peas 79 cents a bag. Trader Joe sells Miyoko Vegan Crème cheese $5.50 a container. Broccoli is cheap everywhere fresh or riced.

in a freezer bag, we combine frozen peas and riced broccoli (or riced cauliflower). Keep it in the freezer.  Defrost half per batch you are making. Place in food processor or high power blender, can be somewhat lumpy. In a bowl, stir in garlic, onion chopped or onion powder, some crushed red pepper if desired, and 2 Tbl of either Miyoko Vegan Cream cheese or no-oil hummus.

It will keep for a few days in the fridge and makes a great sandwich spread, or on whole grain toast in the morning for breakfast. Very good as a type of stir in for whole grain pasta. You can add basil and oregano and lime juice to liven it up. Put cucumbers on top of it or tomato.  Add some shredded carrot to it.

Or forget the grain pasta and use a peeler or veggie noodle maker and stir it into veggie noodles for a 100% vegetable dish.

Pea Broccoli Spread
Broccoli-Pea Salad on No Wheat Rye
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Broccoli-Pea Pesto using same sandwich spread but adding basil and oregano plus a splash of lime

 

You Can’t Go Wrong With A Great Salad

Never underestimate the power of a good salad. Never over estimate how much it cost to eat salad. These days even Aldi can keep you fresh organic greens and other produce for very little money.

I try to follow the daily dozen  rules of Dr. Michael Greger to keep my nutrition well rounded. Gone are the days of ice berg lettuce being sufficient. Now it’s 2 servings of greens a day along with a serving of cruciferous vegetables and two serving of “other vegetables” that are low glycemic index. Also I need to get two servings of fruit and a serving of berries. In addition to all that, three servings of beans/peas and three whole grain servings. One serving of seeds and nuts and I’m also suppose to have flax seeds once a day.

If I know I’m going to be down for the count in bed for several days possibly, I direct my husband or try to plan myself to throw together salads that will incorporate a little of everything to make a salad. Dark greens, riced cruciferous veggies of some type, brown rice or barley,  well rinsed and drained black beans, sliced cucumbers and shredded carrots.  I’ll put fresh fruit around the sides such as something easy to rinse and use like fresh blueberries and easy to peel like orange sections. Then just some lemon or lime juice.

Black Bean Burgers Too

The sandwich spread mentioned above and one or two varieties of salads that are kept on hand and prepared, can keep well rounded nutrition within easy reach. I also keep black bean burgers in the freezer that we make. There are many recipes online and in plant-based cook books. Here is one of my favorites

 

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From Scratch Black Bean Burgers

 

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

Roasted Cauliflower: Yum

Roast a head of cauliflower in the oven and slice it when it’s cooled. Very easy to keep for a few days and eat from as needed. It freezes well too.

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Skip the boiling or steaming. Just dry rub it with your favorite seasonings, bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes. You will have a very slight satisfying crunch. Frozen riced cauliflower or broccoli is an easy alternative too. Let it defrost on top of  salad in the fridge.  Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

No Cook Over Night Oats

Overnight Oats are wonderful too. I’m not talking about the Overnight Oats you see on the grocery shelves. This is like a breakfast oatmeal and fruit custard without eggs though. No cooking involved either. You can find the recipe online by looking it up, but basically, it’s one part old fashioned oats and two parts non dairy milk of your choice, and a tablespoon or two of chia seeds stirred in. Oh and also you can put in the fruit of your choice, any amount you want.

I like using a one cup storage container to make it in and eat it from to keep the portions reasonable. I use berries, but apple slices are good too with some cinnamon mixed in. I tend to use more fruit than oats. So the oats and non dairy milk are a sideline, but that is just my preference. The chia seeds make a gel that helps to solidify the entire dish into pudding sort of combo, if you will.

The gelling process happens as it sits airtight/covered in the fridge overnight. When you get up, it’s ready to eat.

You can make a few of these overnight oats up at one time and eat off of them for a few days for breakfast. Adding nuts or sliced banana is good too.

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Nothing wrong with some herbal tea, but you will find that eating this way will replace your need for caffeinated coffee.  Your mind may become better focused and you will know you are doing all you can for yourself and those you care about.

Well nourished people are healthier and more content in life. Take care of eachother and help it happen.

Why do I eat a plant-based diet?