Satisfying Flavor-Festival Soups!

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Soup Season

Comfort foods that are naturally filled with flavor and nutrition are exactly what we need as cold of fall and winter looms.  Pleasant to the eyes and nose before the first spoon full lands on our tongue, and so economical and easy to prepare. I am going to share with you the keys to making a great soup.

I’m not going to recreate the wheel since there are hundreds of good soup recipes online. And I am going to be honest, I use those recipes for inspiration but do not follow any one recipe.

I purchase my arsenal of herbs and seasonings and keep them on hand. I always have frozen vegetables and odds and ends of fresh vegetables and canned beans here. That way I am always ready to cook up any soup that fits the mood and occasion. I cook up everything from pea soup to vegetable soup, bean soup, tomato soup,  cream (vegan) of cauliflower with broccoli soup, to chili.

Have you priced healthier soups at the store these days? You will easily spen $3.00 to $5.00 for a can or store made small tub of soup.  I do keep a few cans on hand but the last time I went to make use of a sale I saw advertised for Progresso soups, none of the healthier vegan ones were on sale.

I noticed there was a tremendous sale on good quality low sodium organic vegetable broth and stocked up.  There was an equally good sale on frozen organic vegetables as well. Of course I loaded up. I purchased thyme, rosemary, fennel to properly season an array of soups.

At home I already had an ample supply of dried and frozen peas. Lots of cans of organic low sodium beans and lentils. Dried lentils are always a staple as well. There was a sweet potato waiting to be used in something. I had garlic and onion at home as well. Soup is great for using up these sorts of left overs.

So a couple days later, in my multi cooker (not a presser cooker), I sautéed some cubed sweet potato until they were semi cooked. I added 64 oz of the vegetable broth, 2 bags of mixed vegetables, a can of rinsed black beans and a can of rinsed chickpeas. Also added a cup of finely/pureed tomato with garlic, onion, chili powder, fennel and thyme, crushed red pepper.

Dont ask me how much of the seasonings I used, I never measure. I taste and adjust how much is in. Since you can easily add but can’t easily remove, I would suggest layering in small amounts of seasonings and add more as you taste.

You can use the stove top, slow cooker or multi cooker. Because I can’t stand for long due to my disability, I do the fast way and just chuck all the ingredients in my multi cooker. I bring it to a boil and then I reduce it immediately to slow cook. If your slow cooker doesn’t have a way to do that in the same cooking container, just start it off on your stove top and then pour it into the slow cooker once it has reached boiling.

A really well made soup is a soup made while the cook tastes it throughout its cooking and adjust seasonings. Forget recipes and season it with what you prefer and to taste.

Once the soup has been placed in bowls that is the time to add to each bowl your choice of greens. The temperature of the soup will allow you a hot enough cooking temperature even after it is in the bowl, to cook the spinach enough to release the vitamins you can only digest from spinach when slightly cooked.

I prefer adding the greens fresh just before serving it to who eats it, instead of to the whole batch in the pot. That way I can make the dish as fresh as possible each time the left overs are served.

Other thoughts

  • Add leftover barley, farro, quinoa or brown rice to the soup to get your serving of grains as part of the dish.
  •  Use bread such as a good german make of thinly sliced dense German rye bread, as croutons or for a side sandwich.
  • Add a piece of fruit with the meal

Very little effort and you can fill your tummy with food that will nourish your body and soul.

Soup Season

 

Other Ideas For Whole Food Plant Based Meals

WFPB back in the saddle

Whole Food Plant Based Please (That Doesn’t Include The Impossible Burger)

WFPB back in the saddle
Examples of Healthy Whole Food Plant Based Foods that help me be at my best. Low Glycemic Index grains, vegetables, and fruits, minimally processed. Just keep the typical fast food version of vegan food away please!

I had amazing success going Whole Food Plant Based, Low Glycemic Index and Low Fat. in 2018. Then during 2019 life garbage hit the same time all these trendy vegan fast food options hit and I only half heartedly followed the WFPB plan. I packed on 20 lbs because of that mistake.

In June I had a hysterectomy and I even brought my food with me to the hospital so that I could eat clean.  I started off with no weight gain at all.

Once home, there was no peaceful recovery awaiting me. Life just isn’t like that sometimes. All the cooking fell into the hands of my husband. When he would ask me what we should eat, I would look at his stressed out, exhausted face  and here the suggestion of him just going through a fast food drive through for the Impossible Burgers and I would just nod my head.

“Tomorrow will go better and then we will eat better,” I would think to myself.

But life demands didn’t run smoother for a long stretch.I went from over a year of solely eating beans, greens, vegetables and fruit,  to the last few months dining on Beyond Meat Burgers, Impossible Burgers and vegan Big Mac’s at a wonderful local vegan restaurant.

Not only did my symptoms of my chronic illness worsen, I regained 20 lbs in a few months time. I avoided my scale and all mirrors.  I really think something happened in my head after surgery that I doubted I was worth the effort.

It all changed when I woke up recently in the middle of the night and snapped out of it. I got online and placed an order to be delivered to our home from a couple of local groceries.

I pictured in my fridge my large Tupperware container stuffed with fresh spinach, romaine lettuce, fresh vegetables. I pictured fresh low glycemic grains, a couple types of fresh fruit. I pictured my pantry filled again with all varieties of bean and lentils.  Then I made it happen.

From the delivery services for Aldi, Target and Whole Foods came the bags of leafy green and beany redemption. My husband was all for it. I told him no more of the stuff we had been eating. No more Impossible Burgers. He could bring into the home whatever he wanted, but no more fast food versions of vegan foods for me.

Day one: did fine but had a bowl of cereal that evening, shredded wheat. That was one more serving of grain than I needed. Still woke up the next day with a four pound loss *I have lipedema, lymphedema, and Dercum’s Disease and they all cause as one of their symptoms, rapid gain so if treated right you can lose some of it fast too.

Day two: lost another pound!

Day three: lost two more pounds

Day five: lost another two pounds!

In vegan circles the Impossible Burger, and other similar sorts are being declared the salvation of those who wish to eat less meat and to protect animals. There is merit to that. All I want to add is that for some of us, it is harmful as are many ultra processed, mass produced vegan foods. Once a month and special occasions, eating those tasty treats isn’t going to hurt anyone, but the average American tends to eat fast food more than that. Talk to your medical professionals and get their take on it. I just know what such food did to me.

My non medical advice? When you talk to your doctor, ask about Whole Food Plant Based.  Maybe find a good bean burger recipe (I list a few of my own in this blog if you search the archives) and make them. If you are lucky to have a Whole Foods Market close by, Engine 2’s Black Bean burgers are also really very good.

 

 

When Food Takes On The Wrong Role

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silhouette photography of people on theater
Photo by Wendy Wei on Pexels.com

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?  

Playbill Chocolate red flag

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. 

Playbill Healthy Blue
I don’t do all these, but it gives you an idea. When I struggle, I literally picture someone announcing a change in who is playing what role.
Before After 3
It’s worth it.

 

 

 

 

A Year Without Animal Products And The “Unlikely” Woman Is “Glad”

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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.

 

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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.

Celebrating 10 Months Of Low Fat, Whole Food Plant Based Healing

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Inspite of having three fat disorders ( lipedemalymphedema and  Dercum’s disease ) that are progressive in how large they can make a person appear, and have zero to do with calorie intake or exercise…I have managed in the past 10 months to do this.

What is important to point out is that having had these disorders all my life, my hips and legs were always larger than the rest of me. One leg has always been larger than the other. My arms became heavy and large over the years. My stomach, arms, neck, back, hips and legs filled with Dercum’s Disease “tumors”. Lipedema and lymphedema causes swellings that would increase at the drop of a dime. I could put on 12 pounds from these lymphatic fluids in a day or two. I could start off the day at one level and end the day looking 20 pounds heavier just by moving around.

So look at these photos and see that now my hips are in proportion to the rest of my body, my arms have slimmed down, my face has deflated, my torso is smaller. My legs are within reasonable limits. One leg is stil slightly larger than the other, but not overly noticeable.  I went from a size 32 to a size 14.

Throw in the use of a box of Miss Clairol for my hair and bam! I look so different! Another thing that this style of whole food plant based, low fat, low glycemic eating has done for me is whip my diabetes, my blood pressure, my cholesterol in shape. That happened in the first month of switching for KETO to this style of eating. So I likely have added years to my life.

Cindy 10 month photo comparrison

Here are the foods that made it all happen.

Here is what I have followed that has worked.

3  one half cup servings of dark beans.

2-3 servings of fruit including one serving of berries. Fruit is fresh or frozen

3 servings of whole grain

a serving of cruciferous vegetables

2 servings of “other” low glycemic index vegetables

2 servings of dark greens

flax seeds or chia seeds

Limited avocado (1 total a week)

limited nuts ( 0 to 2 Tbl a day)

No animal products (no dairy, no meat, no fish, no chicken, no eggs, no dairy), no junk vegan food, no highly processed foods. No oils of any kind. no added sugar or artificial sweetners

I love the work of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn Jr,  Dr. Neal Barnard from Physicians Committee For Responsible Medicine, and Dr. Michael Greger who runs Nutritionfacts.org and The Daily Dozen Phone app.

Best documentaries include: Forks Over Knives, Diet Fiction, Eating You Alive, and What The Health.

Best Facebook groups for those like myself who have lipedema, lymphedema or Dercum’s disease interested in doing this sort of eating? Those associated with what is listed above as well as Improving Fat Disorders Using Low Fat Low Glycemic WFPB Eating

In the group for Improving Fat Disorders Using Low Fat Low Glycemic WFPB Eating, no one associated with the group makes a dime off of any participant of the group and you are asked to work with your own doctor and make sure your own medical team is on board, get blood levels done on a regular basis, and other measures to assure you are taking responsibility for your own health decisions.

It’s not about being skinny, it’s about being healthy. If looking smaller ends up being part of it all, then great.

Here is a link to an article I wrote last year on how to approach changing your life with food.

This link is to an article to help you approach this way of eating

The Breakfast Trend You Need In Your Life, Whole Food Plant Style

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The Perfect Healthy Storm highlighted with fresh vegetables, fruit, healthy grains and accented with a tasty oil free dressing made of garbanzo beans-fresh orange-rice vinegar. Add a teaspoon of flax seed and drink a glass of high calcium, vitamin D plant based milk for good measure. Vitamin’s A, B, C, D, Minerals, protein, iron, calcium, protein, folic acid, fiber and more. Low Glycemic Index, Low Fat, Minimally processed. Whole Food Plant Based and oil free.

We keep a large  container of deep colored greens, cruciferous, root veggies plus other veggies and mushrooms in the fridge. I make a fresh salad to keep at my disposal every 2-3 days.  It’s just so easy to dish it out and eat it when busy.

So the trend of Breakfast Salads is right up my ally. The concept is to take the nutrition of the fiber and all those fresh vitamins and minerals and breakfast-fy them. Here is a way to add in some protein that may make whole food plant based protein sources more palatable in the morning. As the saying goes, the secret is in the sauce.

The Amazing Garbanzo Bean-Fresh Orange Salad Dressing

1 average size fresh orange, peeled and sections pulled apart.

1 cup of garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed if using canned)

1/4 cup plant based milk (unsweetened and minimal ingredients)

1 tsp of rice or apple cider vinegar

optional:

a dash or to taste of any of the following

garlic powder

dried crushed red pepper

lime juice

stevia

Directions:

Simply process in a high power blender until smooth. Store in airtight container. Can stay in fridge for a few days without issue. Shake before using.

Additional Notes:

For the dressing you can get creative and use other fruits as well or instead.

For the Breakfast Salad itself, for the cereal layer,  I use the recommendations of Dr. Esselstyn and stick with Ezekiel or Grape Nuts.  Whatever you use, read the package. Keep it minimally processed and as few ingredients as possible. No added sugar or oil.

For the salad shown, I used spinach, fresh cauliflower, snow peas, celery, carrots, mushrooms and fresh sliced strawberries.  Blue berries or sliced apples are great too with it. If you use apple, consider adding some cinnamon to the top.

It’s amazing how it doesn’t weigh a person down, and that fiber keeps you full all morning and with nice steady energy that can help keep you focus.

 

 

 

 

 

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!