Monday, December 13, 2010

How to Improve the Standard North Indian Diet

White Rice (should be Brown Basmati if available), Okra cooked in oil (should be sauteed without oil), Chapati (no ghee), Urad Dahl (no oil)
Above is a very typical meal served in the Northern part of India. This meal was served to my daughter at my inlaw's home, prepared by a servant cook. The Chapati is always made at home by hand using whole wheat flour and served at lunch and dinner.  Typically a dahl (bean soup) is always made along with a "subji" or cooked vegetable dish.  They normally prepare a 1/2 cup of oil cooked with spices and seeds that gets poured over the top of the entire pot of dahl.  I asked them to instead add the oil to their individual serving of dahl so that our family could have the dahl without oil.

Below are my suggestions on how Northern Indian food can be made healthy:
  • Oil and ghee are not necessary and are used in too great of quantities.  Meals can be cooked with minimal or no oil without sacrificing flavor.
  • Meals are oversalted. While in India I request that food is not salted until after our family has taken their serving.
  • Brown rice should be substituted for white rice at least two or three times a week.
  • Breakfast, not pictured here, is typically tea and a small bowl of beans served with white bread toasted.  My father-in-law would sometimes eat a banana before breakfast but the nutrition could be greatly improved if two to three pieces of fruit were consumed before the beans, and wheat bread substituted for the white.
  • Too much cooked food is consumed, making the Standard North Indian diet low in nutrients, phytochemicals and antioxidants.  In a country where pollution is abundant, more raw fruits and vegetables need to be consumed.
  • Salad is usually a small plate shared among everyone that features sliced cucumber, tomatoes, cabbage and carrots. Salad should be more than two or three small pieces of sliced cucumbers and tomatoes!  Invest money on a large salad twice a day and watch as health and energy improves...or spend money later at the doctor's office :)

"Shumshu's Orange Cabbage Salad"
 Salad greens are not found in India and it is unheard of for someone to eat a raw spinach salad.  So I created a salad plate based on an idea from my inlaw's cook servant who's name is Shumshu.  Shumshu doesn't speak any english, but since I understand 90% of the food words in Hindi I was able to create this tasty salad that is one of his favorites.  It is simply shreded cabbage, sliced cucumbers, orange slices and cilantro served freshly squeezed orange juice drizzled over the top.  I served this to my insulin dependent diabetic mother-in-law.  Now if I can just get her to remember to ask Shumshu to make this delicious salad for her twice a day!  She could also add seasonal fruit like pomegrant or apples.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Back from a month long trip to India!

My daughters standing in front of their Grandparent's home in Roorkee, India as a cow passes by.

I hope everyone had a great Turkey Free Thanksgiving.  In case you were wondering why I've been so quiet for the past month, I've been away in India with my family visiting my husbands side of the family! We visit India once every two to three years, though now that my husband's parents are aging and experiencing health issues I expect we will go more often. 
I'm happy to report we all made it through without any injuries or major illness on this trip.  I'm so thankful that we have a strong foundation of health to fall back on.  

I always come back from these trips feeling so greatful for all that we have here in the US.  We complain about things like money, car traffic, the house not being clean.  In India there is no minimum wage, laborers work for $4 a day and in some areas less than that.  Of course people are able to survive on this amount of money because the cost of living is very low compared to here, but there are no labor laws protecting children and workers who become injured on the job.  

The car traffic in India is mostly over two lane roads that are not properly paved and maintained.  Any and all types of vehicles and animals are on the road at any given time.  It makes driving stressful and exhausting.  So many near miss head on collisions that I have witnessed.  My heart used to stop frequently on my first two trips there, but now I just pray before I get in the car, breathe and hope for the best.   I cannot control the situation so I will surrender to it being out of my control.

As for our homes not being clean..imagine living in a place where the pollution and dust flooded your home so much that it never felt clean by your lowest standards no matter how often you cleaned it!  I was certain before leaving that my house was not clean since I didn't have time to mop.  When we arrived at home, I thought to myself  "this place is SO CLEAN"...and maybe I need to lower my standards!

There are some things that I really enjoy about India, especially in the small town where my husband is from.  In Roorkee people buy all produce locally and seasonally from small farmer stands in the marketplace.  There are no "Grocery Stores"...yet.   I expect the next time we go there will be one or two small grocery stores that will have aisles and grocery carts.  India is changing as the jobs move from the US to there, people have more money to spend and can afford much more than they could five years ago.  There is also a "Subjiwalla" or person who walks by homes selling fruits and vegetables off the cart.  He yells "Suuuuuubjiiiiiiiiiii" and then loudly announces all the produce on his cart.  How I wish we had this service here!   How convenient to be able to buy onions and tomatoes from your doorstep when you need it.

My husband shopping at his dad's cousin's store.
Shopping in India is a different experience altogether compared to here.  Shops are the size of a one car garage or smaller.  All of the items are up on shelves, clothes folded away, and you tell the shopkeeper or workers (sometimes they are little kids) what you want and they pull it down for you to look at.  This way of shopping can save time because you don't spend time finding a parking spot and walking through a store looking.  You walk up or have a rickshaw drop you directly in front of the store and tell the shopkeeper what you are looking for.   It can be frustrating because selections are limited and sometimes during clothes shopping they will continue to pull items down until you adamantly refuse. I also feel bad if we have them pull down 10 or more items and don't find what we like.   There are no refund policies if you are unhappy with what you buy, most stores will only exchange things IF you have the receipt.

Family ties are strong in India and the cultures and languages vary by region.  The social structure is very complex.  I have given up on trying to understand it all when it comes to gift giving and money exchanges on our visits.  I leave it up to my husband to take care of it! 

My brother-in-law helping my sister-in-law make chapatis for the local wandering cow

I know that my life would be very different as an woman living in India.  Women are treated with little respect (unless they have a big fancy job title) and have so much expected of them.  They are the real definition of "Superwomen".  They are to be full time workers, take full responsibility in care of the kids when they get home from work, serve dinner and wait hand and food on their husbands.  If a friend or extended family member drops by, they are expected to whip up lunch or dinner and tea on the spot.  They will spend the entire time in the kitchen cooking and serving food and sometimes not have time to even interact with the guests.  Even a woman who is a Medical Doctor by profession can be found in the kitchen on her day off making chapatis and tea in the kitchen entertaining guests.

There is so much importance given to the school you graduated from and the job title you have.  When I explain that I am a Wellness Coach and a Plant Based Nutrition Educator, they lose interest quickly because I am not working for a big corporation and don't have a big title like "Managing Director" or "Senior Executive" and I'm not making $80-100k a year.   It's of no interest to them that I am doing what I enjoy and that I am helping people.

I also got a lot of resistance when I told people that we homeschool our kids.  It is their expert opinion that kids can only learn in school and we are doing them an injustice by keeping them from that experience.  Schools in India are very textbook driven and theory based.  There is very little if any "hands on" or practical experience in the classroom.  Kids are expected at a young age to compete and perform well on tests because when they graduate from high school there are very limited spots at major universities, so competition is fierce. 

The problem with this is that India is producing a workforce of "producers", people who can take directions from authority and have little ability to think creatively and solve problems on a daily basis.  Yes we need producers, but we also need inventors, creators, and leaders.  Engineers are a plenty in India.  There are "schools" that will take a person's money and award them an Engineering degree without working for it. In the past, the engineering profession was a lucrative field that lifted many out of poverty but as the number of engineering jobs reduces and the number of unqualified Engineers increases, many will be forced in lower paying factory and construction jobs.

There is much more I can discuss but I will leave it up to my readers to ask questions :)

I hope you enjoyed this blog post, even though it was a bit off topic for my blog.  I will be discussing more about the Northern Indian Diet on my next post.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

E2 Immersion Program for Whole Foods Employees

I am super excited to hear how Whole Foods has totally embraced the Vegan Plant Based Diet! They are putting their at risk employees through an "immersion" program where they will learn how to prepare healthy meals and understand the importance of whole plant foods.  This is new on the Engine 2 Diet website:

"Rip Esselstyn created the Engine 2 Diet to help Americans lose weight, lower cholesterol, significantly reduce the risk of disease, and become physically fit — in just four weeks. The Engine 2 Immersion Program was designed in partnership with Whole Foods to serve Whole Foods’ team members that are currently at risk for heart disease, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, and other diet-driven western diseases.

Over the course of an intensive 5 day program in the beautiful Hill Country of Austin, Texas, E2 Immersion participants join Rip, his father Dr. Caldwell B. Esslestyn, Jr. of the Cleveland Clinic, renowned nutrition expert Jeff Novick, Dr. Pam Popper, and a host of other extraordinary experts for a life-changing experience. They will receive information & education about the powerful influence that diet has on the body’s health, as well as extensive training on implementing a plant-strong lifestyle in their homes."

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Vegan On The Go, How to Make Healthy Choices Outside the Home

It definitely requires preparation if you want to stick with eating a healthy plant based diet inside and outside the home.   If you do not plan ahead, do not expect good results. It's just that simple.

Here are some tips for eating outside the home in different scenarios:

Eating at Non Vegan Friendly Restaurants
  • If you can't pick the restaurant, call ahead and let the chef know that you will require a dish free of animal foods and oil.  
  • If you forget to call ahead, let the waiter know as soon as you sit down and find out if the chef can put together a platter of vegetable side dishes and a salad with oil free dressing.
  • I have found that even steak houses in the area will accomidate us with a really nice veggie platter and there is one that even does a homemade oat/veggie burger near our home.
  • Don't order the Kid's Meal for your kids!  Kid's Meals have some of the most unhealthy choices on the menu.  Instead, split an adult size vegetarian dinner between smaller kids and have them munch on raw veggies in the car on the way to dinner so they aren't "starving" when the meal arrives.
 Dinner at a Friend or Family members home
  • Let them know upon being invited that you are eating vegetarian fare and offer to bring a dish to share.
  • If they insist on cooking, offer to send them some recipe ideas that are easy to make and don't require special ingredients.  I always point people to my favorite easy to make recipes on my blog and others like the Fat Free Vegan Blog and VegWeb.
Eating at a Birthday Party
  • If the party is at a Bounce House or other party facility where pizza is served, call ahead to the managers and let them know that your child will require a pizza without cheese and at least one veggie topping.
  • When it comes to birthday cake, we've been lucky to have a vegan cake at the majority of parties thanks to my wonderful circle of friends.  But of course there are some parties where the cake is not vegan and that is when I let them choose, so long as the cake was home made.  If it's store bought and the icing is loaded with food dyes I will let them eat the cake but not the icing.
  • Soda, Commercially prepared juices, Sports Beverages and Slurpee type drinks are off limits for my kids always.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

VegWeb Holiday Recipes Page

You can now get lots of Vegan recipe and menu ideas for Thanksgiving and Christmas on VegWeb.  They have an entire page organized with "Must Have Recipes", "Forum Chatter", "Around The Web" links.

The "Must Have Recipes" include two of my favorites: Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Cashew Butter Sauce and The Ultimate Pumpkin Cheesecake.

The "Around The Web" section provides links to various other sites including the Farm Sanctuary Adopt-A- Turkey, which is what we do on Thanksgiving instead of eating one.  I'll talk more about the Adopt-A-Turkey program on a future post!

Mitch Spinach to the Rescue!

There's a great new children's book series that Dr. Fuhrman is promoting. The first book, which is available for purchase now is called "The Secret Life of Mitch Spinach".  The main character, Mitch, eats "high-powered fruit and vegetable smoothies that give him special powers, such as super-sonic hearing and amazing night vision, which help him tackle problems and solve mysteries at Sunchoke Elementary."

Finally a book that relates eating healthy with having "super hero powers"!  I'm totally buying this book and I'll post my review and the reaction of the kids at our weekly homeschool enrichment day.

Creamy Pumpkin Smoothie

I was recently inspired to create my own version of a Creamy Pumpkin Smoothie after trying the recipe on Fat Free Vegan. I didn’t like how the recipe made a very heavy liquid pumpkin pie. I like to eat Pumpkin Pie but somehow the texture of drinking one just didn’t work for my tastebuds.

So, here’s my version of the Creamy Pumpkin Smoothie. It serves 2-4 depending on how big your serving is:

  • 1 1/2-2 cups Publix Greenwise Original Soymilk (Has no chalky aftertaste. You can use Almond milk if you don’t like Soy)
  • 1 medium size ripe banana (if you use a frozen banana don't add ice)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup Organic Canned Pumpkin (Not Pumpkin Pie Mix!)
  • 4-6 whole cashews
  • 1 raw Majool Date
  • 1 teaspoon Pumpkin Pie Spice
  • 8 ice cubes
Place all ingredients in a high powered blender and blend until smooth.  Add a bowl of fruit and you have a super healthy and filling breakfast.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Watch Dr. Fuhrman Live at the World Preservation Foundation Conference in London!

The following information was taken from a Press Release on

Dr. Fuhrman will be speaking at the World Preservation Foundation Conference on Wednesday, November 3rd at London's House of Parliament. He will address the general assembly and also provide a breakout session for world leaders who want more in-depth information about his nutritional discoveries about preventing and reversing disease and reducing human suffering and the economic burden of chronic diseases.

Dr. Fuhrman's message of improving lives through healthful eating - by embracing a diet-style rich in micronutrients - is receiving worldwide acclaim as thousands of cases demonstrate the reversal of conditions traditionally considered incurable, from heart disease and diabetes to high blood pressure and autoimmune disorders. His program has also allowed thousands of patients to lose weight quickly, safely and permanently.

You can watch the live webcast of the event at

The Myth of Moderation: Do All Foods Really Fit?

This insightful guest post is written by Jeff Novick, MS, RD, LD, LN. and shared on with permission.  Jeff has over 24 years of experience in nutrition, health, fitness and natural living. He offers expert health advice distilled into powerful, easy-to-understand language on a variety of current topics.  Jeff’s insightful and humorous approach to nutrition and health has helped thousands worldwide make the transition to healthy living.  He has written and produced a variety of informational and entertaining DVD's on health and Plant Based Nutrition.  The photo is from

You know what they say when it comes to what to eat, “everything in moderation.”

Whether it is chocolate, wine, red meat, dessert, etc. Nothing is bad, in and of itself, as long as we just don’t consume too much of it. But, how do we define “too much” and how do we know if we have surpassed this?

Let’s start at the beginning.

Our current concept of “everything in moderation” comes from ancient Greece, where at the temple of Apollo at Delphi there was the inscription, “Meden Agan” or “Nothing in Excess.” From this, we got the concept of doing something “in moderation” which means, not doing it excessively. Therefore, someone who moderates their food consumption may choose to eat food from all food groups, but will limit their intake of those foods that may cause deleterious effects to harmless levels.

So, how are we doing in this area?

The items we know that are causing harm to Americans right now are the excess consumption of added sugars, refined grains, sodium, fat, and saturated fat.

So, how much does the average American consume of these?

Added Sugars – 242% over the recommended upper limit.
Refined Grains – 200% over the recommended upper limit.
Sodium – 229% over the recommended upper limit.
Saturated fats – 158% over the recommended upper limit.
Solid fats – 281% over the recommended upper limit.

Therefore, these are 5 items we can no longer consume “in moderation” as their current level of consumption is far beyond the level we know to cause harm. The only solution is a dramatic reduction in the amounts we consume of these items. Then, and only then, perhaps we can again, consume these things in moderation.

However, there is also a flip side to the saying “everything in moderation.” There are items that we know are very beneficial, that we should be consuming a certain amount of in order to gain their benefit. These are fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fiber.

So, how much does the average American consume of these?

Fruits – only 42% of the recommended minimum intake.
Vegetables – only 59% of the recommended minimum intake.
Whole Grains – only 15% of the recommended minimum intake.
Fiber – only 40% of the recommended minimum intake.
Therefore, these are also items we can no longer consume in moderation as their current level of consumption is far below the level we know to be beneficial. The only solution is a dramatic increase in the amounts we consume of these items. Then, and only then, perhaps we can again, consume these things in moderation.

I have posted recent graphs from the USDA that show these points.

In addition, over 2/3′s of Americans are currently overweight and over 1/3 are obese. We did not get this way by consuming “all things in moderation.” We got this way by consuming many things, and many of the wrong things, in excess. Great excess. And, the USDA figures in the above graph, bears this out as since 1970, the average American consumes 30% more calories with most of these calories coming from added sugars, solid fats, saturated fats and refined grains.

Even the saying from the American Dietetic Association, “All foods fit,” has been taken out of context. The original saying is not “all foods fit,” but, “All foods can fit into a healthful diet ‘if’ consumed in moderation with appropriate portion size and combined with regular physical activity.”
As we see, Americans’ are not consuming foods in moderation nor are we engaged in regular activity as over 70% of Americans do not even meet the minimum recommendations for activity/exercise. This is why the current concepts of”everything in moderation” and “all foods fit” for the average American today is a myth.

Moderation is no longer an option in regard to calories, or in regard to the foods we know can be harmful, or in regard to the foods we know to be beneficial. We are so far from what constitutes healthy in America, that we have much work to do to get back to where we could once again discuss moderation. Rationalizing the over consumption of harmful foods, or the minimal consumption of beneficial foods, with a saying that does not apply to our situation, will not help us.

We have to at least double the intake of fruits, vegetables and fiber just to reach the minimum recommendations. In addition, we have to cut our consumption of added sugars, fat, sat fat and sodium in at least half just to get down to the upper level of the recommended limits.

Moderation will not help accomplish this.

We need a dramatic shift in our understanding of our current situation and the solution we take.

Monday, November 1, 2010

World Vegan Day is Today. Take the Pledge!

In honor of World Vegan Day on November 1st, I am offering Free Group Coaching to those who want to take a 7 to 14 day pledge to consume an animal free diet. 

On Facebook I offered the first 10 people who responded free email coaching and I already have more than 10 people interested!  So, in order to not overwhelm myself I will do the group coaching for anyone else who really wants to take the pledge.

You can start by going to my Yahoo Group, Optimal Health for Everyone.  You can also take the Pledge on the Vegan Society website but do not select that you want a mentor if you want your mentor to be me!

For more information on World Vegan Day you can go to the Vegan Society website and download a booklet called "Eating The Earth".

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Frontier and Simply Organic Spice Pantry Makeover Giveaway!

Here's your chance to get all NEW spices in your Spice Cabinet!  This is a great giveaway considering the cost of Organic spices.

"Frontier and Simply Organic have teamed up to give a spice pantry make-over to one lucky entrant. The grand prize winner will receive a complete set of over 50 unique organic spices and seasonings.

All you need to do to enter is submit a photo of yourself using any Frontier or Simply Organic product. Additionally, a ten item sampler set will be awarded to two entrants."

Go to the MamboSprouts website to enter!

Masoor Dal (Indian Red Lentils)

Indian Dal is a really simple dish to make on a busy week night.  If you serve it with Organic Basmati rice, the meal can be ready in 15-20 minutes!   As always, I recommend that you serve a large salad FIRST, to control your portion of cooked food and insure you get several servings of greens and veggies with dinner.

This recipe makes 6-8 servings.  I modified it from the Tadka Dal recipe on BellaOnline:

2 cups split red lentils, washed and drained
1 large onion, chopped thin
1 can of Muir Glen Roasted Crushed Tomatoes (I used the no salt version)
2-3 large garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp Garam Masala
1/4 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp Ground Cumin
Salt and Pepper to taste
Juice of 1/2 fresh lemon
Freshly chopped Cilantro for garnish (optional and not pictured above)

In a large soup pot on high heat, add 4 cups of water along with the red lentils. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce the heat to simmer and let cook until the dal is tender but not mushy (12-15 minutes).

In a large, quality non stick saucepan on medium high heat, add the onions and dry saute until just softened.  Add water or broth to keep from over browning.  Add the ginger and garlic.  Saute for a few more minutes and then add tomatoes. Cook for 2-3 minutes and then add turmeric, garam masala, cumin, and red chili powder.  Mix well to combine all ingredients.  After about another minute or so, carefully add the cooked masoor dal along with any cooking liquid. Add the lemon juice and simmer on low for 4-5 minutes until all ingredients are well combined.  Top with fresh chopped cilantro.

Serve hot over Basmati Rice (white or brown).

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Add Variety to Your Diet!

It is important to eat a wide variety of foods on a weekly basis to meet our nutritional needs with food rather than relying on supplements. You cannot make an unhealthy diet healthy by taking a supplement!

Short term, supplements can help with nutrient deficiencies but long term supplements cannot preserve health, in fact large doses of certain vitamins like Iron and Vitamin A can actually be damaging.

You can be sure you are eating a wide variety when you eat the colors of the rainbow. Try posting a rainbow on your refrigerator and noting down what foods you and your kids ate for the week that match with the colors.

Red: Support memory function and urinary tract health with beets, cranberries, raspberries, watermelon, red bell peppers, cherries and strawberries.

Orange and Yellow: Promote heart and vision health, and lower the risk of some cancers with bananas, carrots, oranges, cantaloupe, sweet potatoes, papaya, pineapple and yellow bell peppers.

Green: Gives you strong bones and teeth and lowered cancer risks with spinach, romaine lettuce, arugula, chard, collards, mustard greens,chicory greens, asparagus, and broccoli.

Blue and Purple: Gives you healthy aging compounds and antioxidants from blueberries, red and black grapes, plums, and blackberries.

White: Helps to maintain healthy cholesterol levels and cardiac wellness by consuming cauliflower, white asparagus, oats, onions, apples, and mushrooms.

Take this list with you to the grocery store to make sure you are picking up enough variety during your shopping trips! Get creative with recipes and make it a habit to try one new fruit or vegetable a month. How often have you found something in the produce section and thought, I wonder what that tastes like or what I could use that fruit or vegetable for? Ask the produce manager to cut open a new fruit or vegetable so you can try it (if it's edible raw). Take it home and do research on the internet on how to prepare it.

Post in the comments section about what new fruit or vegetable you tried this week!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Dr. Popper of the Wellness Forum in Orlando this week!

Pam Popper, ND and Founder of the Wellness Forum in Ohio will be in Orlando at the Juice Plus Leadership Convention this week.  If you are interested in purchasing her "Health Briefs" or "Wellness 101" class, this is your opportunity to get those and not pay shipping! 

The convention is being held at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee.  She will be there Thursday through Saturday from 9-4.   You do not need a badge to get into the vendor hall to see her.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

September's Winner of Vegan Lunchbox!

Kristan Badillo, Personal Trainer, long distancer runner (and maybe a Triathlete too?), won September's book giveaway "Vegan Lunchbox" by Jennifer McCann.  All she did was subscribe to my blog and post a couple of comments to my posts.  It was THAT easy!  Congrats Kristan!  Enjoy the book :)

Why I'm not Contributing to Breast Cancer Charities in October

October is International Breast Cancer Awareness Month and it's that time of year that we start getting solicitations from every angle to "Raise Money for the Cure".  Pink ribbons are everywhere, even on products that contain ingredients that have been linked to cancer.

I will not be contributing money or even "Racing for the Cure" as I've stopped participating in this madness since becoming more educated about the cancer industry several years ago.

One thing I discovered after my first cancer charity race was that the majority of these organizations support research that uses animal testing.  Animals undergo unimaginable torture for long periods of time for a cure that will never be found as long as the cancer industry remains a multibillion dollar industry. 

Some people will argue that animals need to be tested for the sake of saving human lives.  Animal tests have been proven to be misleading and potentially dangerous for the evaluation of prescription drugs for human use. Animals react differently than human beings because they are different from humans.

Tests on animals must be tried out on man through clinical trials before a drug can be considered safe.  Diseases evoked in experiments are not the same as those brought about naturally.  Hundreds of thousands of animals die each year just through vivisection alone.  It is a waste of animal life and a waste of time and money. You can read more about it on the PCRM website.

Pam Popper, Director of the Wellness Forum, has written a beautiful article that talks about where your money really goes when you support the Pink Ribbon campaign and how you can chose to invest your money where it will make a difference in true cancer prevention.  She also explains how much of the prevention through "Early Detection" that is promoted is not really preventing cancer at all.

Endorsement With Time and Money
By Pam Popper, ND 

This article is sure to generate some controversy, but I am motivated to write it anyway based on my very strong convictions about this issue.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This annual, month-long campaign was developed by the pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca. The company controls most of the ads, pamphlets and other information disseminated to the public, and the campaign focuses on early detection of breast cancer through mammography. Not much, if any attention, is paid to prevention. This is not surprising since AstraZenenca benefits greatly every time a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer. The company manufactures Tamoxifen, the most widely prescribed breast cancer drug in the world. Incidentally, it also makes acetochlor, a carcinogenic herbicide increasingly suspected as being a cause of breast cancer.

Consumers are urged to do many things in conjunction with breast cancer awareness month. In addition to getting a mammogram, women are encouraged to wear pins with pink ribbons, and to donate money to organizations that fund cancer research. Companies are instructed to place pink ribbons on everything from clothing to office supplies. And there are races, competitions and other activities designed to draw attention to the issue. I think it is very important before you "Think Pink" to investigate and determine what you are really supporting when you participate in these activities and whether or not participation keeps you in integrity with your belief system.

Race for the Cure and other activities are sponsored by lots of different organizations, ranging from the American Cancer Society to the Susan Komen Foundation. I truly believe that the people that work for these organizations think that they are doing something worthwhile. But, the scientific evidence just does not confirm the efficacy of their recommendations.

Take the recommendation to get a mammogram, for example. All women over the age of 40 are encouraged to get a mammogram, but even younger women considered at risk are urged to do so as well. Radiologists at the University of Guttingen in Germany, however, have stated that women with genetic predispositions to develop cancer should avoid mammograms. The reason - low-dose X-rays used in mammograms are almost 3 times as effective in mutating genes in human cells as conventional X-rays. Their advice is for high-risk women to insist on other, safer screening techniques. (1)

And, the National Academy of Sciences has stated that even low doses of radiation pose an increased risk of cancer (2). The cumulative radiation damage to DNA from yearly mammograms increases the risk of breast cancer in later years (3).

One meta-analysis of randomized trials in 1997 showed that screening women between the ages of 40 and 49 resulted in an increase in deaths from breast cancer for the first ten years after the screenings began (4). Another study involving 40,000 women from Canada found breast cancer mortality to be equal between a group receiving annual mammograms and another that had just a physical examination annually (5).

Dr. Ralph Moss is currently writing a series in his newsletter about this issue with equally disturbing information about the advisability of mammograms. To access his editorials, please visit

In addition to the advice about screening, many of these organizations recommend mastectomy, prophylactic mastectomy for women with the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations, chemotherapy, radiation, and follow-up treatments such as Tamoxifen, even when these treatments show little to no benefit for most women in terms of long-term survival.

Many breast-cancer awareness events and campaigns are promoted by companies that manufacture products that contain cancer-causing agents. The organizations that take money from these companies are inadvertently assisting in perpetuating increases in the cancer rates through use of these products, increases in the number of women who are subjected to disfiguring and life-shortening treatments, all while these companies and organizations give the public appearance of being quite philanthropic.

For example, Avon is the largest corporate funding source for the Komen Foundation and for breast cancer in general. However, Avon manufactures cosmetic products that contain parabens, phthalates and other chemicals that are known endocrine disruptors.

Some of the largest contributors to breast cancer research are those that sell the most toxic products or who stand to gain the most from treatment in those diagnosed. For example, Estee Lauder Companies and Roche Oncology each donate over a million dollars to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and AstraZeneca donates between $100,000 and a million dollars as well.

This is why I choose not to run in 5K races that benefit traditional cancer research and treatment, and not to attend fundraisers, wine tastings, and other events that benefit these organizations as well. Although my protest is quite small (none of these events has ever been cancelled because I refused to participate) I refuse to have even one dollar or one minute of my time spent rewarding people and organizations such as these. I am not interested in helping companies such as AstraZeneca, and my belief system does not include prophylactic mastectomy, radiation following lumpectomy, and suppression of promising cancer treatments that are quite successful in other countries.

I would enjoy attending many of these events, and I am under considerable pressure in many instances to participate from well-meaning people who are either trying to help, or just want to have fun also.

But the older I get, the more conscious I become of the fact that everything I do, every penny I spend, even where I am seen, is an endorsement of something, and, for me, the endorsement has to be in integrity with my belief system. I want to endorse health promotion, true prevention, and appropriate treatment, and perhaps someday I'll sponsor my own series of events for this purpose.

I believe in free choice, and have no interest in talking anyone out of doing anything - whether it be participating in a 5K or undergoing mastectomy. But I also believe in informed choice, and have encountered too many people who simply don't know much about the beneficiaries of their investment of time and/or money. This article is simply to help people to become more informed investors.
2.Edwards, R, "Risk of mammograms for certain women," Times-Herald Record Middletown NY November 12, 2002
3.Gofman, J, Preventing Breast Cancer: The Story of a Major, Proven, Preventable Cause of this Disease, CNR Bk Div 1996, Committee for Nuclear Responsibility
4.Wolfe, S. "Breast Cancer News Info About Screening Mammography and Genetics," Health Letter vol 20, #1, Jan 2004, Public Citizen Health Research Group
5.Spanier, B, "Do Annual Mammograms Save Lives," CRABB vol 6 # 3 Summer 2004

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Homemade Juice vs. Store Bought Juice

A few years ago I decided to invest in a juicer...that was before I knew about the Vita-Mix!  I still break it out a few times a month on the weekends and make carrot juice, adding in greens and fruits depending on what I have on hand.  I love homemade juice because you never have to add sweetener, you can sweeten with real fruits and you know exactly how fresh they are!  You also get the benefit of added nutrition, fiber and enzymes from the raw produce.

Most commercially made juice has been pasteurized, meaning it's been cooked at low temperatures to kill bacteria. And who knows what condition the fruit was in that was used, or how long the juice was sitting on the shelf at the store before you bought it?

I think it's okay to use store bought juice on occasion, not as an everyday habit, so long as it is organic.  But if you really want the health benefits of drinking juice, you really need to make it at home!  It's a great activity for the kids to be involved in too.  Younger kids can help feed the veggies and fruits into the top of the juicer and older kids can also help with chopping the fruits and veggies.

I recommend any of the Omega Juicers.  They are super easy to use and clean up is a breeze.  These juicers also press the juice and none of it gets near the engine where it could become warmed.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Host a Vegan Pizza night! Introduce friends and family to Animal Free Eating

A good friend of mine recently invited me over for dinner and she decided we were going to make pizza!  Her husband made the dough for the crust, I brought the Daiya Cheese and tomatoes and she provided the rest of the veggies and mock pepperoni.  Of course my friend and I did all the assembly work while the kids and the guys played video games.  But maybe you have friends with husbands who like to cook! 

While pizza isn't the healthiest thing you can eat, it's fun to make with friends and it's a GREAT way to introduce people to an animal free diet because it tastes like the real thing...actually I will say it tastes better than the real thing and it's healthier to some extent.

Just one more thing- don't forget the SALAD!!!  That's me below making sure everyone has greens :-)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Renegade Health Show features Joel Fuhrman on Vegan Diets

Joel Fuhrman has recently been featured on Raw Foodist, Kevin Gianni's "Renegade Health Show" in a series of interview questions about Vegan Diets.  Fuhrman does not promote a 100% raw foods diet, but one that is high in raw food (75%) and green vegetables.  I'm a follower of his Eat for Health plan and I also coach individuals and families who want to transition to his way of eating a Plant Based Diet.

Check out his interviews on

Whole Foods raising money to put Salad Bars in Local Schools!

I was shopping at the local Whole Foods in Winter Park and noticed at the checkout line that my bag refund can now be donated to the Great American Salad Bar Project! This project is taking donations and using the money to install salad bars in local schools who apply for a grant to receive the salad bar. 

Whole Foods in Winter Park has already raised $7,600, which is enough to install three salad bars at local schools who have applied for the program. 

I am super excited about this program but at the same time I believe we need to also have a program in the schools where kids have more exposure to plant based nutrition curriculum that will help them understand the importance of fruits and vegetables in their diet.  Just because we put a salad bar in a school doesn't mean the kids will appreciate it or eat from it.  So once I find out which three schools get the salad bars I will be contacting them about teaching Super Plant Eaters Club classes to the students.

Salad bars are a positive and needed step toward better nutrition in the schools.  Studies show that when kids are properly nourished with whole plant foods they excel in academics and have improved behavior at school. Please shop at Whole Foods or donate money online to the Great American Salad Bar Project!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Vegan in the Czech Republic! How to Eat Animal Free Food While Traveling

As many of you know, my husband and I recently took a week long trip to Prague, Czech Republic.  Before I go on any international trip I always do these things:

1. Call the airline in advance to arrange a Vegan meal on the plane.
2. Pack my own healthy vegan snacks for the plane in case the food is not good!  Sometimes it is really bland.
3. Check Happy Cow for vegan and vegan friendly restaurants in my destination city.
4. Locate the farmer's market and grocery stores upon arrival.

Now, I do want to warn that Happy Cow is not always up to date!  One example is when we were in Brno (Southeast of Prague) I found what looked like a Raw Vegan restaurant on the website.  Well when we went to find it they had changed the restaurant name and menu.  It was not so raw or vegan!  I was able to eat a nice big salad but had to settle for boiled potatoes because there wasn't anything else I could eat that wasn't fried!

Here's the salad and a small glimpse of the potatoes in the left corner from Aura Restaurant on Stefanikova, 35 in Brno, Czech Republic. The salad came without dressing, but it was really juicy with the bell pepper and tomatoes.

Here is a photo of what I ate at a non vegetarian friendly restaurant in Brno.  I basically ordered two side dishes.  A side salad called "Salaty Citron" (salad with pickled lemons) and Garlic Rosemary Potatoes.

Here is a photo of Tabouli from our absolute favorite veg friendly restaurant in Prague, Kardamon Klub. Notice it had tons of parsley!  Parsely is a super nutrient dense green.  I just love it! 

Here is Kardamon Klub's Vegetable Cous Cous. 

Kardamon Klub Restaurant offers an interesting menu from the Middle East and India with lots of vegan friendly choices.  You get a different menu each time from one of four countries: Persia, Lebanon, Yemen, Turkey, and India.

Our 2nd favorite restaurant is Mayur Indicky Restaurant.  We LOVED the Indian food there!  It was far better than ANY Indian restaurant food we've had in the states.  Our favorite dish was Dahl Tarka.  I loved the flavor of this dish so much that I'm definitely going to look online for some good Dahl Tarka recipes.

Got a favorite Veg friendly, Vegan or Raw Food restaurant in Czech Republic?  Post in the comments section and tell us about it!

Is Organic Meat Healthier than Conventional Meat?

Pam Popper, ND and Founder of the Wellness Forum recently answered this question beautifully in her recent newsletter.  I just had to share it here because this is the issue I get challenged on often from Weston A Price foundation followers.  If you are currently consuming Grass Fed Beef, Organic Chicken and Raw Milk because you think it is health promoting, please read this!

Question: "A friend told me that the reason why people are experiencing health problems as a result of eating animal foods is because of the way we are raising the animals now. On conventional farms, the feed is terrible and the animals are injected with steroids, antibiotics and hormones. Is it true that if you eat organic meat you will not have increased risk of cancer and other conditions?"

Answer: Conventional factory farming is terrible. The way the animals are treated is abominable; they are fed the wrong foods; and animals are injected with steroids, hormones and antibiotics. Even the government acknowledges that the leading cause of antibiotic-resistant infections is the antibiotics people consume in animal foods. Animals raised to be sold as organic food are fed properly, and they are not injected with these substances (antibiotics are only used when an animal is sick).

However, this does not mean that if you choose organic animal foods you can eat them without consequence. The amino acid chains that comprise the proteins in animal foods do not change in response to the way that the animals are fed or the substances that are administered to them. Organic animal protein is just as cancer promoting as conventionally raised animal protein when you consume too much of it (The Wellness Forum's diet allows for 2-3 servings of organic animal food per week for those who are not sick or obese; dairy, of course is eliminated).

The fat in organic animal foods is just as artery-clogging as the fat in conventionally raised animals. While the composition of fat may be somewhat different, studies show that all types of fat contribute to the development of atherosclerosis, including fat from organic animal food, and that a high-fat diet is cancer-promoting.

Dr. Campbell's research in China reinforces the importance of keeping animal food consumption very low. Remember that at the time his team was gathering data, there were no factory farms in China. His subjects lived mostly in rural areas where farms were small, and steroids, antibiotics and hormones were not used. The quality of the animal foods was not a factor in his findings.

Also, at that time, Chinese people were not eating an American-style diet dominated by animal foods, and even at small intake levels there were differences in health outcomes attributed to the differing amounts of animal food consumed.

In conclusion, I do not support our current methods of farming, and acknowledge that conventional factory farms produce food that is not healthful for Americans. But if Americans consume only organic animal foods and continue to eat them in the quantities that are common in the American diet, they will still develop common degenerative diseases like coronary artery disease and cancer.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

September's Book Giveaway- Vegan Lunchbox!

Congratulations to Jessica Long!  She is the winner of last month's book giveaway, "The Engine 2 Diet" by Rip Esselstyn.  Jessica increased her chances of winning by posting multiple times on my blog.  Each time you post you get your name on a piece of paper to be drawn from a hat by my daughter Anika.  She's my helper :)

This month I am giving away a copy of Jennifer McCann's "Vegan Lunchbox".  Jennifer was a coaching client of mine from over a year ago.  She has since come out with a second book called "Vegan Lunchbox Around the World".  I love her Martha Stewart like creativity.  The recipes are easy to make and will make any child or adult feel special when they open up their lunch!

Good luck and remember to subscribe so you can receive notice in your email when I post a new blog entry!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Dr. Fuhrman's New Nutritarian Food Pyramid

I am excited about Dr. Fuhrman's new colorful Nutritarian Food Pyramid!  It has all the brightly colored pictures of fruits and veggies that we should be centering our diet around.  He has also added the percentage of calories from each category, which was not featured on his previous pyramid.  You can purchase a magnet for your refrigerator at Dr. Fuhrman's website.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Couponing For Health Foods Update

A few months back I posted about how I was saving close to 50% on my groceries by shopping at Publix.  Well, that's when I was able to use two or more competitor coupons from Target, CVS, Family Dollar, Harvey's and Save A Lot. 

Now both Publix stores that are within a 2 mile radius of my home will only allow me to use ONE of those competitor coupons per grocery visit and I can no longer use CVS ($5 off $25 purchase) and Harvey's ($2 off $5 produce) coupons.

I guess the couponing rage has caught on to more shoppers in my area because not only are they tighting policies, they are also getting cleared out of inventory on BOGO's the first two or three days of the sale!

So, now my savings is around 30-40%, still better than what it was when I was not paying attention to sales flyers or using coupons.  And now I am asking myself, do I really need this item even though it is super cheap or free?!  For example, I bought about 20 boxes of the Kashi 7 Whole Grain Flakes and Puffs because they were .50 a box with coupons.  The cereal, though healthier than most, is essentially processed food and not really all that high in nutrients.  My family would be better off eating oatmeal or home made granola in place of the cereal.   Of course the preferred breakfast is the Green Smoothie!

So, now I'm being more careful about what I buy.  Some of the things I have been buying on sale and lightly stocking with coupons are:

-Eden Organic Beans, Tomatoes, tomatoe paste and Pasta Sauces (BPA Free Can)
-Cascadian Farms Frozen Fruit and Vegetables
-Bob's Redmill Whole Oats
-Tinkyada Brown Rice Pasta
-Texas Organic Brown Rice
-Lundberg Farms Organic Rice
-Unsweetened Almond Breeze
-Annie's Natural's Fat Free Dressings
-San-J Organic Low Sodium Tamari
-Nuts and seeds on
-Wildwood Sprouted Tofu
-Wildwood Organic Soy Yogurt and Probiotic Soymilk
-Food for Life Sprouted Whole Grain Breads
-Lightlife Organic Tempeh
-Tribe Organic Hummus
-Organicville Salsa
-Larabars (for the kids :)

And I'm not just shopping at Publix, I am back to shopping at Whole Foods and occasionally Hoover's Essential Health Market when I have a coupon for something I need that never goes on sale at Publix.

Drawing for the Free Book is coming up on the 31st!

Just a reminder that I am giving away a free copy of The Engine 2 Diet on the 31st!  You still have time to increase your chances of winning by posting a comment on my blog between now and the 31st.  I will be using to select the winner. 

Come on people!  Your post can be as simple as writing "Cool, thanks!".  How easy is that?!!

Champagne Grapes Make a Fun Snack

Aren't these beautiful!?  Champagne Grapes are in season and you can get them at Publix and Whole Foods right now.  They are a fun snack for the kids because they are small and easy for them to handle.  They have a very mellow, sweet taste.  Definitely pick some up on your next shopping trip.

Shucking Beans on a Friday Night

Beans, Magical Beans...all from our garden!
Vineet and Anika are proud of their bean harvest
Anika's hands busy at work!

How do you spend your Friday nights? At our house we spend at least one or two Friday's a month preparing food from our garden for storage so we can use it later. I love beans because you can dry them and store them in an airtight container for months. They grow really well in Florida, so all my Florida friends make sure you plant beans next Spring!

These beans will make a wonderful crockpot soup!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

My Favorite Smoothie Boosters

Pictured above are two of my favorite smoothie boosters, whole golden flax seeds (not Oil!!) and Matcha Green Tea. The flax increases fiber consumption, reduces risk of cardiovascular disease, helps to drop cholesterol levels, and reduces inflammation in the body!  It's one of those foods you need to consume daily.

Green Tea contains polyphenols encluding EGCG (epigallocatechin gallate) "which has been shown in laboratory studies to inhibit the growth of several types of breast cancer cells and to inhibit an enzyme called urokinase that is involved in tumor metastasis". source article: Green Tea and Breast Cancer by Dr. Pam Popper 

Green Tea doesn't just make an impact on breast cancer cells, it works the same for prostate as well!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Raw Vegan it always "healthy"?

I love the creativity of raw food chefs.  They can take a typical Standard American Diet dish and totally raw it up.  Pictured above is a raw meal called "I am Fabulous" that I ordered from Cafe Gratitude on a recent vacation in Healdsburg, CA.  You might be able to guess from looking at it that it is a raw lasagna.  The "pasta sheets" are cucumbers sliced thin lengthwise.  The "cheese" is a ricotta made from cashews and walnuts and the inside layers are filled with mashed olives, basil and olive oil.  The dressing on the salad with beautiful sprouts is made from figs, walnuts and oil. 

As most of you know from my posts on this blog, I am an advocate of a high raw, low fat diet.  However, I am not a 100% raw foodist.  I believe that certain foods provide more nutrients and are better digested lightly steamed or cooked than raw.  Foods like broccoli, cauliflower, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, collards and kale. Collards and kale work well in green smoothies, but we do need to chew our food more often than drinking it from a blender.  I believe we have teeth for a reason!

While the lasagna was beautiful in presentation and appeared to be made of the freshest organic ingredients, I have a hard time calling it "healthy" when it was obviously very high in fat.  I do not know the exact fat grams but I would guess it was at least 30 grams.  That is a lot of fat for a person to digest in one meal.  I split this meal between my kids and I still had a hard time finishing it because I could feel the oil having an effect on my body.  

Oils are low nutrient, high calorie foods. They do not contain nutrients, fiber or phytochemicals that were in the original seed or fruit.  Oils contain minimal amounts of Vitamin E, making it of very little value in the diet.  One thing I do want to make sure everyone knows is to not cook with oils, or least try to avoid cooking foods at high temps with oil.  See my article on my website about oils for more details.

At home I eat a very low fat diet and use almost no oil.  My main sources of fat are avocado, nuts and seeds and I use those sparingly. There are traces of fat in grains, fruits and vegetables, so I don't obsess about whether I'm getting enough fat.  I can just tell by how I feel when I've had too much fat...tired and sluggish, with upset digestion.

I have been following Eat For Health for several years and have coached dozens of individuals on Eat for Health who have lost weight and regained health.  It is also much easier to follow and maintain than the popular raw food diets currently circulating.

If you are looking for a 100% raw food plan that is also low fat, I recommend the 80/10/10 Diet by Douglas Graham and Frederic Patenaude's The Raw Secrets.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Subscribe to What a Healthy Family Eats and enter to win FREE books!

Every month, starting this month, I will be giving away a book that supports a low fat animal free plant based diet.  I will be giving away personal favorites that I have read and tested recipes from.

You can enter to win by subscribing to my blog AND posting comments.  Each time you post a comment you increase your chances of winning the book.  This month I am giving away The Engine 2 Diet by Rip Esselstyn.  This is the best book to give to any person in your life who just doesn't get the whole concept that you can eat an animal free diet, ENJOY eating, feel satisfied, and be healthy!  There are lots of hearty recipes in this book that will satisfy even the most die hard meat eater. 

Good luck and thanks for supporting my blog!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

"NoriGami" will get your kids to eat Seaweed!

My kids are always coming up with crazy creative stuff to do with food.  Here my 8 year old daughter has taken a sheet of Nori used for making Sushi and folded it into an Origami Cat! 

Seriously, how cool is this?  What kid wouldn't eat this sheet of seaweed? 

We'll have more designs up later.  Obviously this idea is limited to simple Origami designs because the more folds you have to do the more breaking occurs with the Nori.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Perfect Sprouts

Don't these Mung Bean Sprouts look beautiful?  That's because I sprouted them at home!  Sprouting is so easy to do and so much more affordable and safer than store bought.   You can sprout any dry seed or bean from the bulk bins or bags from the store.  You can buy affordable organic beans and seeds from Whole Foods and Hoover's Essential Health Market in the Central Florida Area.  
Here's what you do when you bring them home:
1. Pour one to two cups into a large glass bowl.
2. Sort through the beens or seeds to make sure there are no bad ones or rocks.
3. Rinse them well and then pour enough cold water over the top so they are covered at least 3 inches deep.
4. Let them sit over night or at least 8 hours.
5. Rinse the beans or seeds well and strain as much water as possible.  You may have to use a fine seive for small seeds.  Let the seeds/beans lay flat on a tray for the day.  Repeat step 3, 4 and 5 until the beans/seeds become sprouted and the hulls start to fall off.
6. Dry your sprouts thoroughly before you put them in the refrigerator for storage in an airtight container that is cracked open to allow air flow.
7. Enjoy!

Dr. Fuhrman's Books have arrived at Whole Foods

I was in Whole Foods over the weekend and noticed the bookcase in the Whole Body section has been completely restocked with mostly Dr. Fuhrman's Eat for Health book set and DVDs!  This welcomed change is due to the company's new "Health Starts Here" program.

Other books on the shelf include vegan diet plans by Neal Barnard, John McDougall, Caldwell Esselstyn, and Rip Esselstyn. 

I also noticed the "Food Revolution" by John Robbins which was one of the books I first read that jump started my own journey to Veganism.

I'm ecstatic that Whole Foods is taking a stand on what they believe is the right nutrition for optimal health and the health of our if they'd just get rid of that organic meat section!  I mean really, if they're going to put the message out there that we don't need animal protein, then don't sell it!!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

4th of July Picnic with Animal Rights Foundation of Florida

Today we went to the annual 4th of July Picnic with the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida.  My kids fell in love with the Pot Bellied pigs that were rescued animals from the Kindred Spirits Animal Shelter in Ocala. 

The pigs were just loveable.  The one in this picture was following Anika and poking his nose at her for attention.  The girls had no interest in being at the picnic until the pigs arrived...and then they didn't want to leave.

Kindred Spirits is on my list of places to visit this year.  Hopefully I don't get talked into bringing home a pig....I really could see myself owning one, but I don't think I have the right backyard.

Healthy Vegan Recipes for 4th of July

If you are still putting together your menu for 4th of July, please take a look at the Fat Free Vegan blog!  There are lots of quick and easy meals and desserts you can put together for a cook out.

I really love these red, white and blue parfaits!

She has a full line up of dishes from 2007 including an "International Quinoa Salad" and "Red Bean Chipotle Burgers".

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Another Birthday Celebrated...Not With Cake But Pie

For my daughter's 8th Birthday we made the Chocolate Tofu Pie from Post Punk Kitchen.  Easy and far better than any cake...even the Fat Free Vegan "Can't Be Beet Chocolate Cake", which is our favorite for cake! 

This No Bake Pie was chocolately without being too sweet and perfect for a hot summer day!  I kept it on ice while the kids were swimming in the pool.

I found the Dandie's Vegan Marshmallows at Hoover's Essential Health Market locally.  You can also get them online at Vegan Essentials.