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.
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.
Vegan Oil Free Baked Spinach Artichoke Dip
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.
Arnold Schwarzenegger playing the role of Cinderella in “Rogers and Hammerstein’s Cinderella”. Meryl Streep cast in “Grease” as Danny Zuko.
Can you imagine going to a play and being handed a playbill and seeing that level of miscasting? I would find it fun at first, but personally I would want to see more logical choices or the roles.
I would be asking myself, “With the means to hire a well known actor to play the lead, with so many other options available, why make such a poor choice?”
The producers and directors have a list of parts to cast and a list of available options for actors to play those parts. Auditions are many times held, trying to find the right one for each role.
We make “casting choices” in the form of life choices every day. Imagine each day we get out of bed, we walk out onto Life’s Stage in a production of “A Day Of Living” Each of us are our own producer and director of a significant part of our own story.
What options are you going to select in your life today?
I speak from experience like so many others. Foods can be so addictive especially chocolate, cheese, meat, plus other processed sugars and animal proteins. Many of us are taught from a young age to have these and similar addictions to help us deal with our needs. Those serotonin levels rise with all of it. Life can be complicated and eating processed sugar and fats are so very easy and handy. All that immediate gratification is enticing and potentially life shortening.
I use the analogy of a stage production and the playbill that is the official accounting of each day’s “performance”. The playbill shows who plays what role. For me it’s helpful to be able to visualize and pinpoint the questionable “casting”, if you will, of how by habit in the past I coped with life. It keeps me on top of things. Many times food is the go to for needs that really are better handled by other options. Sometimes we learn it young.
I still remember to this day being 4 years old and it was a miserable time in my family with deaths, stress, my grandparents being in the hospital for months due to severe injuries from a car accident. My mother, sister and I lived with them. My poor Registered Nurse mother had to work some horribly long hours and oversee the care of my grandparents. They had different people taking care of my sister and I. Those caring for my sister and I would give us ice cream at night as something in which to look forward.
An evening snack was called “a party” and it was always something wonderfully sugar and fat filled.
The pattern had begun.
To make things more annoying I have 3 fat disorders that, since childhood , made me large and misshaped. What I eat and how I exercise had made no positive impact on those. No doctor realized I had those. Dercum’s Disease, lipedema and lymphedema went overlooked and mistaken for obesity for decades.
I was so worn down as I struggled with the lack of impact of dieting and seeing that it made no difference if I ate or starved myself. Those fat disorders are fairly painful. I was in misery for decades. I remained large and misshaped, it made it easier to make some pretty unhealthy choices. Why not have a piece of Dove Chocolate when anxious? Why not eat a Big Mac when hungry?
After decades of feeling helpless, and low carb diets doing nothing for me, life handed me the path I had sought my whole life. Over a year ago I got violently sick on animal products with horrible blood sugar and cardiac related lab results. I discovered WFPB No Oil, Low Fat, Low Glycemic Index, Low Sodium. I started to see better labs, weight started dropping. There has also been a bit of a budge on some of the symptoms associated with my fat disorders.
Sure I will always have three painful, annoying fat disorders. That’s how the ball bounces. I have fibromyalgia and like all other humans, I have a variety of stresses. I can’t do a whole lot to change some things, but I can empower myself and do what is possible. Some of those symptoms for those health issues have improved. Some remain the same. I enjoy taking far fewer medications than before. I enjoy having heathy coronary and blood sugar numbers. I find joy in what is possible as I continue to learn to coexist with the rest. The power is in making good choices and lovingly holding myself accountable.
As I sit here finishing this, my husband came home from the grocery store. To this day my mind wants to ask him if he brought home chocolate. I have to remind myself of that playbill. Chocolate is no longer a regular on my playbill. It’s been replaced by strawberries or an apple or watching a good movie.
My experience has been that there is nothing like a rare disease to make a person feel helpless. It doesn’t matter how many miles you travel (for me it was 7,000) to find expert treatment. Over time I know I lost my hope and sense of empowerment. Then last year I learned that empowerment sometimes can be found again in the simplest of ideas. My regaining my sense of empowerment had been 10 plus very painful, long years in the making.
Dercum’s Disease sufferers like myself face the same obstacles Too few doctors know about it and there is no known cure. Also, there are really no reliable treatments. I had just gotten married when it set in with a 60 lb weight gain, numerous painful lumps, brain fog and increased immobility. My physician had one other patient who in the past had the same symptoms. In the years to come I saw doctors from one side of the country to the other multiple times where Dercum’s Disease and other associated illnesses were diagnosed. Dercum’s Disease and two other of the disorders can put considerable non calorie based weight on a person. I likely had some of these disorders since childhood. All those years and no one knew why I was as I was. Having names for what was wrong with me helped, but there were no answers.
In spite of seeing the country’s top experts, I found zero relief. I still didn’t give up easily. I did both the standard and out-there treatments. I heard through a friend that she found hope spending a few days in an out of state University hospital’s ICU getting round the clock Ketamine infusions. Fearful of my husband losing his job, my husband had to drop me off at a homeless shelter- in that community. That is where I stayed until a bed opened up in the intensive care unit. During the treatment I went through a 2 day psychedelic trip. Ketamine can do that. It did not benefit my health, but I did though, acquire a small collection of wigs because of the hair loss. I tried.
As is the case with many with Dercum’s Disease, the weight kept coming on and my diabetes and coronary labs got worse. Tachycardia joined the mix. To make it harder to combat, Dercum’s Disease and physical workouts do not go together. There is a problem with the lactic acid that lingers around the Dercum’s Disease lumps. The only physical activity I can tolerate is in the pool and that is not easy for me to access.
I kept doing what the rest of the people in the Dercum’s Disease crowd were doing and whatever doctors said to try. My physical and mental state worsened as I appeared destined to live in an ever-growing painful shell where I would die young from cardiac and or diabetic health issues. That is what people with Dercum’s Disease usually die from.
Doctors told me that restricting calories would not help my disorder. My disorders kept the weight piling on. So like any other red blooded American woman, it didn’t keep me from trying. Is there anything we deem worse than being large? It’s how we are socialized. I followed Weight Watchers, RAD, Paleo, KETO, Low carb, the American Heart Association Diet, South Beach Diet, The American Diabetes Association diet. . It all combined had minimal positive results. Some had horribly negative results.
Every six months or so I was traveling to see one of the national experts on Dercum’s Disease and the other disorders commonly associated with Dercum’s Disease that I have. I would arrive with some hope. Sometimes I would be understood and sometimes I would feel not understood. They would put a hoop up for me to jump through, I figurately would jump it with bells and a smile. My Dercum’s Disease continued progressing. My health got worse.
Then I just could do it no more. I traveled out of state once again and was honest with my doctor.
“I’m ready to stop chasing the unicorn”, I believe were the words I used.
I do believe that there is some empowerment that can be found in accepting reality. The doctor that day told me to just accept it all as it being what it is. I have to admit that I was at the time relieved to hear that because I really could not handle trying anything else. Really had tried more ways of getting better than most. My family had sacrificed so much. All those miles and dollars spent on improving my rare condition and everything associated with it, and nothing worked.
Fast forward a year later. It took a weekend of endless vomiting, where I found myself in the hospital and received the lab results for me to finely listen to my body. It was the spring of 2018 when all that happened and the only logical conclusion was that I had to change my way of eating. I had been on the same way of eating everyone else in my shoes had been told to follow. I had been eating low carb and focused on proteins. From that point forward, I had to do something different. The only reasonably healthy foods left for me to eat were the foods I had been told would be bad for this condition. Sure they were the same foods I grew up eating from our garden, but they were considered to be “high starch” by current popular recommended diet standards.
I did some research and sure enough, there were studies done that for my overall health I could eat the garden delicacies such as basic vegetables and fruits. I could even eat beans! I felt I had nothing to lose. I would start eating this way, get labs done and then talk to my doctor.
I indeed did start to eat that way and within a month had labs drawn to make sure the change agreed with me. That cardiologist appointment to discuss the results was the best doctor appointment of my life. His receptionist asked me if I had gone through bariatric surgery. My cholesterol had dropped 57%, my A1C dropped 3 points, and I had dropped a couple clothes sizes and quite a bit of weight. The cardiologist told me to continue eating that way. He even cancelled some of the cardiac testing he had jotted down before seeing me.
That was the moment I felt empowered for the first time in years. I made a decision for myself, sought medical labs and advice at the onset and found my own way to make a positive difference for my health. . One by one, my doctors all were in agreement that I should continue eating this way. From Ohio State University to my cardiologist to my primary care doctor to my cardiologist, everyone was amazed with the results.
I just passed the 1st year anniversary of empowering myself through intuitive measures for my care. I have gone from a size 32 to a size 14. I’ve gone from 13 pills a day to one prescription and a supplement. I am no longer on diabetic or cardiac related medications. I have no more IBS symptoms or year round allergy concerns. My legs that had been miss shaped with one leg larger than the other, are now the same size and shape. I’ve lost 60% of my Dercum’s disease tumors in my stomach. For the first time in my post pubescent life, my top half and bottom half are the same size.
It’s’ true I still have Dercum’s tumors in my stomach, arms, along both ribs, along my spine and the base of my back. They are in my neck and head legs and feet. I still have difficulty sleeping, being comfortable, and the misery can be considerable. I have brain fog, but it’s improved some. I still have to spend my day with my legs up and spend more days in bed than I want to but there is no choice. I still am forced to use a wheelchair in the house when in the kitchen. A motorized scooter is how I manage myself out in the community. I average once a week getting out if my husband drives. Every now and then I can pull off driving if it’s just in the neighborhood. Sometimes a little further than that, but we don’t count on my being able to do such things. I am still significantly suffering from Dercum’s Disease.
But I use to have surgeries to remove Dercum’s Disease tumors. Now without surgery, 60% from one area have vanished and I possibly added 20 years to my life by improving my overall health. What is not to love about that? I wake up every day with hope. Hope is a powerful commodity not to take for granted. My finding my empowerment didn’t find a cure but it did find a useful treatment for Dercum’s Disease, Lipedema and Lymphedema . Those disorders have not advanced. They have improved in ways that shouldn’t have happened through just nutritional changes. . It also reversed my cardiac and diabetic numbers so I could get off all that medication. So while there is suffering, to have any positive change, I am so grateful.
Empowerment isn’t about suddenly being handed a magic wand and all your problems are solved. Empowerment doesn’t mean what works for one person will work for another. Empowerment for me is that I can count on myself to make decisions and to think for myself. You never know what might change your life.
Last year I started this blog. I felt at that time that the most honest title I could give it would be “The Unlikely No Meat Please Gal”. Meat and animal products had been the center of all my meals for 55 years.
I grew up in the Ohio farmlands and there were a few decades where very few vegetables were consumed but many, many meals of meat, eggs and dairy. So the chances of ever saying, “no meat please” were practically non existent. So that was the title of this blog,”The Unlikely No Meat Please Gal”
After more than a year of not eating meat, dairy or eggs, I felt that it was time to change the name of this blogging effort. I thought about why my commitment to not eating meat and other animal products was strong, and the new title was easy. I thought about the reversal of my heart and diabetic issues. I thought about how the dress I wore when I married my husband 10 years ago is now way too big for me and yet a year back I couldn’t have squeezed into it. And just the hope it all has brought to me.
I am indeed “The Glad To Not Eat Meat Gal”: A fat girl from St. Louis, Missouri who is now at a much healthier weight and better lab results. All of that inspite of 3 fat disorders (lipedema, lymphedema, Dercum’s Disease) that makes it very difficult to lose weight. Am I cured of any of them? I stand firm in saying that it has reversed some of the symptoms. I would not say that I am cured, but I’ve changed the quality of my life and I no longer feel helpless. So in addition to everything else, less depression that comes with being diagnosed with a rare disorder that had taken over my life.
From 13 pills a day to one prescription and a selenium supplement, down in clothes sizes and up in hope,, I am forever The Glad To Not Eat Meat Gal. I am forever no animal products or oils, period.
Thank you to my friends, family, doctors, Forks Over Knives community, the STL Veg Girl, Dr, Joel Kahn’s publicly shared information on this topic, nutritionfacts.org , Clayton Medical Associates and my fellow members of the Lipedema, Lymphedema and Dercum’s Disease communities who have supported me on my efforts.
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.
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)
-Dried Crushed Red Pepper
-Black Pepper (I’m allergic so I don’t use it)
-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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lunch today. It was a “make it work” moment. I had to use what I had for the non dairy cheese sauce. It turned out great.
Fresh spinach with 1/2 cup of whole grain pasta with a whole food plant based sauce, peas and tomato. Fresh veggies including chopped broccoli. Garnished with a a fresh mandarin orange.
A healthy dose of B12, ample protein, iron, calcium, vitamin k, vitamin C, protein, Folic Acid, vitamin A, potassium, lipocine, phytosterols which lower cholesterol, B complex, copper, zinc and manganese.
Also contains lutein, kaempferol which is linked to decreased risk of chronic disease and cancer.
And lots of nitrates which promote heart health. Also quercetin which fights inflammation and heart disease reducing pain, and fighting stress.
But isn’t what is shown in the photo above and at the end of the article considered to be high carb?
See the two side photos? Looks to some I bet like a giant pile of high carb. But in honesty, it is a half cup total of half whole grain pasta and half peas. Then that little half cup you see in the photo on the left is put on top of a cup of greens and a cup of riced vegetables. Ta-Da!
Any food less than 55 on the low glycemic scale is considered to be low glycemic index. It means that it will release the natural carbohydrates into your system slowly and evenly.
Some of us are diabetic and some of us are not. For the sake of our endothelial cells which we need to keep our cardiac and lymphatic blood vessel walls strong, having a lack of blood sugar spikes is important.
Our bodies also need the nutrition of foods including fruit, grains, vegetables, greens, legumes. So a careful balance throughout the day of these foods are mostly naturally low glycemic index,
I have never counted a carb or calories in what I eat on this way of eating, but I have to be focused in keeping in mind how many servings of what foods I have during the day as well as serving size of the foods that I know for me will spike blood sugars if I eat too much of them. (because of my diabetes, others who are diabetic don’t even have to measure it out, it doesn’t bother them).
So for instance, I measured out 1/2 cup of the 100% whole wheat organic pasta combined with peas. The Glycemic index is an 20 for a half cup. Combine that with a cup of raw greens and that (3 glycemic index) And a cup of chopped cauliflower with carrots ( 3 glycemic index) And a half of a tangerine (20)
That comes to a grand total of 46. Couldn’t find the Glycemic index of a small sprinkle of sundried tomatoes but there is room for them.
Nutritional Yeast has the glycemic index of 0
Calories on this plate 400
Makes 4-6 servings
For cheese sauce,
In high speed blender blend until smooth:
-1 cup unsweetened plant milk (I went for one that has calcium, B-12, 8 grams of protein).
-6Tbl B-12 fortified Nutritional Yeast
-1/2 tsp each of garlic powder and onion powder
-Two shakes of dried red crushed red pepper
-1/4 cup cannellini beans (optional, it just added thickness)
-additional fortified Nutritional yeast and seasonings to taste.
– 1/2 tsp or to taste of lemon juice, apple cider vinegar
1 Tbl of oil free hummus such as Engine 2 brand (it’s fine without it too).
With drained organic whole wheat or lentil pasta, in a 2 quart pan and on low to medium heat, pour the sauce over the pasta and stir frequently as the sauce thickens and clings to the pasta. Sprinkle additional seasoning on it if desired and stir in peas and whatever else you like.
The article that the first sentence here will lead you to, provides adequate information on this disorder. Along with lipedema, and lymphedema it’s been a “large” life for sure.
Changing my nutritional intake has done more for me than any information provided e by the medical experts I traveled so many hours to see. No way of knowing when I began eating Whole Food Plant Based, Low Glycemic Index, no oil, low fat, and low sodium that I would see any relief from these disorders. Just goes to show that each day there is a new chance for miracles.
Will always have Dercum’s Disease, lipedema and lymphedema, but this has helped. Based on the work of Dr. Michael Greger and his Daily Dozen, Dr Caldwell Esselstyn Jr, and Dr. Neal Barnard from Physicians For Responsible Medicine. I was introduced to these men and their views by watching Forks Over Knives.