Healthy “Fried” Cauliflower W/ Dipping Sauce

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air friend cauliflower in oven
Air Fried or Oven Fried, No oil needed for a delicious result
cauliflower air fried
Whole Rye, oil-white flour-sugar free breading that is held to the cauliflower by a light coating of salsa. Dipping sauce in the top left corner uses garbanzo beans, salsa, garlic and salsa with crushed red pepper.
Air Fried Cauliflower zoodles with lentils and mushrooms berries
Jazz up any meal . Dipping Sauce used with Air Fried cauliflower for a delicious Au Gratin style dish minus the cheese! Served with left over zoodles with mushrooms, black lentils and oil free sugar free marinara sauce.

People who still include animal products in their diet have this pre-conceived notion that either all Vegans are “fat vegans” meaning they eat unhealthy…or that my eating whole food plant based (WFPB) must leave me starving or eating salad all the time.

Well what if I told you that the photos you saw above are examples of a way of cooking and eat that have helped me eat healthy. Do you see any salads? I never go hungry. My husband and son both help with meal prep which is great. But it’s simple for even one person to pull off. I am disabled so sometimes I do need assistance by them doing the cooking for me.

First of all, Everything about how I eat is satiating because of all of the fiber in the food. My meals are never sparse, they are filled with delicious, colorful and enjoyable options.

Not all vegan food especially in restaurants is healthy though, so I prefer our family make our food at home. It’s not difficult to make our favorites in a way that is healthy without losing the textures and tastes we love.

Recently for our anniversary we ate at a vegan restaurant in St. Louis, Missouri. The Cauliflower sounded delicious but it was coated with white flour and not at all crisp. It was soggy from both the oil it was cooked in and the oil based buffalo sauce it was doused in. I did not enjoy it. The endothelial cells of my lymphatic and cardiac system didn’t need all that fat and overly processed grain.

So we came up with this way of making the dish so that it is low glycemic index,  oil free, low sodium, low fat Whole Food Plant Based.  All it takes it takes is typical, homemade or store bought oil-free salsa is used to coat the cauliflower . Then coat it with 100% whole grain crumbs. Bake on parchment paper lined cookie sheet or use an air fryer.

Because I try to keep it low glycemic index, I prefer using authentic, European style whole rye bread or crisps. I use a hard dark version and a light softer version. I keep it no oils or sugars white flours in the ingredients, lower sodium. Whole rye breads down in our system slower, giving a slow steady stream of energy without spiking blood sugars.

Dipping sauce is easy and can also  be used as a sauce for macaroni and un cheese or as a hummus like dip.

Healthy “Fried” Cauliflower

cauliflower air fried

1 smallish head of cauliflower or  12 oz bag of fresh cauliflower florets

1/2 cup salsa or hot sauce of your choice

2/3 cup whole rye/pumpernickel bread or crackers/crips crumbs(oil free, sugar free, no white flour)

optional to taste :garlic powder, onion powder, low sodium curry powder, turmeric, dried crushed red pepper

Directions:

Step 1: If using traditional or toaster oven, preheat at 425 degrees.

Step 2: Divide the clean cauliflower into reasonably small pieces. (make sure pieces are not wet)

Step 3: With your clean hands, toss together the cauliflower and salsa until thoroughly but lightly coated.

Step 4: Sprinkle crumbs over the coated cauliflower, and toss with your hands until thoroughly but lightly coated.

IF BAKING:  Place cauliflower pieces on parchment paper lined cookie sheet, bake for 15-20, turn each piece over and rotate pan at the 10 minute mark.  Each oven varies, keep an eye on it the first time so you don’t over bake.

IF USING Air Fryer: We have owned two different air fryers. My first one was a basket style air fryer and the one we use now is like a small toaster oven but it is an air fryer as well (Black N Decker).

-Air Fryer that looks like oven style 10-15 minutes, no flipping needed. One single layer, the pieces can be close together.

-Basket style air fryer may be better to keep it one layer, but experiment.
air friend cauliflower in oven

Dipping Sauce:

Play with this. You can create whatever suits you.

1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup unsweetened plant based milk

2/3 cup salsa or 4Tbl or more or less hot sauce (depending on your preference)

1/4 cup Nutritional Yeast (I like B-12 Fortified and Trader Joes is very tasty)

Garlic Powder to taste plus others you may like to add (suggestions would be same as the cauliflower coating)

optional: add 1/8th cup ground cashews with a splash of lemon (cashew cheese base for added creaminess)

Also a splash of apple cider can make it tangy.

We use a high power blender (Vitamix) to blend all ingredients until smooth. Feel free to add enough liquids to make it blend smoother.

The Dipping sauce can be added directly to the cauliflower or used on the side just for dipping. Great on pasta or for dipping fresh veggies, or used in burritos.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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.

Celebrating Rare Disease Day With A Win!

Please work with and get advice from your medical team before making any decisions that could impact your health.

Before and after full body and face.png
The left side is before when I was bed ridden much of the time. . The right side is me today with 60% fewer Dercum’s tumors in my stomach and lymphatic backup has subsided. From size 32 to size 14 (XL)

Dercum’s Disease can force large amounts of weight on the body that mimics obesity. It’s rare and extrenely painful. Deemed almost impossible to treat.

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.

whole food plant based list

I highly recommend those who have any of those disorders and want more information to join us at Improving Fat Disorders Using Low Fat Low Glycemic WFPB Eating 

 

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!