Sunday, March 27, 2011

Garden Goodness: Strawberries and Potatoes

Just picked today!  Fresh strawberries, though half were eaten before I had a chance to take a photo :)  They were delicious. 

Potatoes are looking and tasting really good.  These were boiled and put into salad for dinner.  They are so much tastier and creamier than store bought potatoes.

Friday, March 25, 2011

VegUcation Series at Florida School of Holistic Living

Are you nutritionally confused?   Trying to eat Vegetarian or Vegan and not sure whether you are heading in the right direction?

Sign up for my VegUcation Series and Plant Based Nutrition Support Groups at the Florida School of Holistic Living!  You can also bring these workshops and support groups to your home or office. 

Here's the Schedule:

March 23: Bone Health (already happened!)
Find out the myths about Dairy and Bone Health and what foods and lifestyle practices you really need for healthy bones. You will also learn how to make your own nut milks and a simple kale dish.

April 6: Heart Health
Oils are not health foods, understand the latest science and how to prepare delicious meals without foods.  Food demo: oil free salad dressings with mixed salad greens (from my garden!), how to sautee without oil and bake with minimal oil.  Sample a veggie stir fry and muffins.

May 18: Protein
What our true protein needs are and how they can easily be met on a plant based diet. Food Demo: Quinoa, Kale and White Bean Stew

Plant Based Nutrition Support Group
2nd and 4th Wednesdays from 7-9pm, $10 per person

These meetings are for anyone who is trying to reduce or eliminate animal foods and processed foods from their diet.  You do not have to be Vegetarian or Vegan, though we welcome Vegetarians or Vegans who are struggling with their diet.  It is an open forum where you can ask questions and get help with suggestions from Gretchen and other members in the group to issues such as:

-A spouse who is not on board with changes
-Friends and relatives who oppose plant based eating
-Dealing with children who are exposed to poor food choices outside the home on a daily basis
-Concerns with meeting nutritional needs

Contact the Florida School of Holistic Living to Register: 407-595-3731

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Garden Goodness: Salad, Salad and More

Just when I thought I couldn't eat anymore comes more!

 And cabbage and carrots too...lots more carrots to come :)

What's growing in your garden?

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Salad Collard Wrap with Spicy Peanut Dressing

Here it is!  Another easy and delicious collard recipe!  This one has beets and lettuce from our garden and a homemade Spicy Peanut dressing.  We can eat two or three of these with a bowl of papaya for lunch and we're good to go. 

The dressing is from the Moosewood Restaurant Lowfat Favorites cook book.  I got this cookbook for $1 at the Unitarian Church Thrift Store!  What a steal and so many great recipes, some that are Lacto-ovo Veg and can be easily made Vegan.

Spicy Peanut Dressing Recipe

3 tbsp RAW peanut butter at room temperature (very important to use raw peanut butter!)
1/4 cup water
1 garlic clove minced or crushed
1/2 fresh chile, seeds removed (Add this if you really like spicy dressings)
2 tbsp Tree of Life brand Apple Cider vinegar (it is organic, raw and unfiltered)
1/2 tbsp Wholesome Sweeteners Organic Raw Blue Agave nectar
2 tsp San J Organic Low Sodium Tamari
1/4 cup Diced tomatoes
2 tsp grated Ginger Root
2 tbsp Fresh Cilantro
2 Tsp Fresh Lemon Juice

Put all ingredients in a high powered blender or food processor and blend until smooth.  Enjoy!  It stays fresh in a sealed glass container for up to 3 days.

Breakfast Sushi

This is my new favorite recipe!  It is similar to Dr. Fuhrman's Banana Cashew Lettuce Wrap.  I just decided to change it up with using collards and sliced apples.  And it kind of looks like sushi...sort of?

I've been using the collards to wrap my salad in ever since I found out my favorite vegetarian cafe in Orlando, Dandelion Communitea, will wrap any salad menu item in a collard leaf instead of a whole wheat tortilla.  It is sooo much better than a tortilla!

They will actually pluck the collard straight from the garden on the side of the building!  That makes it gluten free and more nutritious :)  We don't have any collards in our garden yet, but I have been enjoying the ones from Everything Organic, a food co-op you can buy organics from at the Winter Park Farmer's Market on Saturdays.

To make the serving size pictured you need:

1 Organic collard leaf, washed and heavy stem removed
1 banana
1 tbsp Cashew butter
1 tsp Agave nectar
1 quarter of an apple sliced thin

Spread the cashew butter on the stem area of the leaf.  Lay the banana on the cashew butter then place apple slices on the sides.  Drizzle some Agave nectar over the top and wrap the collard leaf around the fruit.  Simple as that!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Food Art: "Butterfly on a Tree branch"

This is my five year old's contribution to this blog.  She loves creating things out of fruits and veggies and I have tons of photos of her creations!  I think I have enough photos that this will become at least a twice monthly post on our blog now.  See if you can guess what fruit and vegetable these are.  I will give you a hint on the fruit, it is a specific type, so don't state the obvious :)

Post in the comments section below if you think you know what these are!

Garden Goodness: 2011 Winter Garden

The Winter Garden is going strong at the Goel house!  We are saving a lot of money on our food budget because we are able to harvest enough greens that I have not needed to buy salad greens in over two months! We also eat cabbage, potatoes, and daikon radish for dinner and in salad two to three times a week.  Pretty soon we will have a ton of tomatoes on our vines.  Lots of Garden Goodness this year :)

Here are some photos...


Baby cabbage

Tomato Vines (we have 3 this size)

Brussel Sprouts


Have a garden at your house?  Please share what you are growing in your garden in the comments below!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Kickstart Your Health on PBS

This month, PCRM president Neal Barnard, M.D., will return to PBS stations nationwide. His new program, Kickstart Your Health, is based on the concepts in his just-released book "21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart". The hour-long program is packed with information on how a plant-based diet will help you drop pounds, lower cholesterol and blood pressure, and improve blood sugar levels in just three weeks.

To view a clip from the program, click on the Kickstart Your Health Graphic above.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Cafe 118 Restaurant with the Kids

I decided to take the kids to Cafe 118 this week as a treat, seeing how I had a nice $25 off coupon from  (Thanks Patience!)   I've only taken the kids to have a smoothie, not a sit down meal, so they were excited about it.

I let the kids pick what they what they wanted but the rule was we had to be under $50.  So here's what we got to share between the three of us:

Spiced Macadamia Hummus
Sundried Tomato and herb flax Crackers

Mexican Chopped Salad
Spinach, Sweet Corn, Avocado, Corn Chips, Cherry Tomato, and "Queso Blanco" crumbles

Pad Thai
Zucchini and Carrot "noodles", tossed in Pad Thai Sauce, Drizzled with Sesame Cashew Glaze

 Cinnamon graham cracker with a cashew creme filling topped with cocoa sauce

The only thing they enjoyed was the hummus and the salad. Everything else was either "too spicy" or "didn't taste right". The Pad Thai was way spicier than what I like so of course it was too spicy for them. I should have asked about that, but now I know.   I also forgot to ask for the dressing on the salad to be on the side- it was too much oil.  Well seeing how we don't use oil at home, anything with oil in it is too much.

If you have tried Cafe 118 with your kids, what menu items did they like?  Post in the comments below!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

DIY Cashew Milk

I made Almond Milk on the last day of class for my Plant Based Nutrition & Wellness Bootcamp at the Florida School of Holistic Living.  One of my students asked "can we make milk from cashews"?

Well, yes, you can make milk from any nut, seed or oats!  I've even heard from one of my friends that she makes Zucchini milk and I've not tried that yet.

I noticed on FaceBook last week that my student had posted a link to a cashew milk recipe with oats.  I decided to simplify the recipe and turned out as delicious as I expected.  If you need detailed steps on how to make nut milk, go to my older post on "How to Make Almond Milk".

The ingredients are as follows:
  • 1 cup Raw Cashew pieces (only use raw nuts when making milk!)
  • 3 cups filtered water
  • 1 tsp Vanilla extract (you could use raw beans here too)
  • 1/2 tsp Organic Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp Agave
Have fun with it and enjoy!  Post in the comments section if you decide to give it a try and let me know what you think of the taste.  I think we might like it more than almond milk :)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Vegan Cuts! A New Program to Help You Save On Vegan Products and Services

The authors of the Vegan Backpacker blog are announcing a new project called "Vegan Cuts", a membership website that will feature weekly deals on vegan products and services. This idea was born out of their "love for buying vegan products and saving money".

Vegan Cuts needs your help!

Their goal is to register 1000 members during the first month and start sending deals in late April. Visit Vegan Cuts using my affiliate link.  Create an account and spread the word to your vegan friends by sharing the link on Facebook and Twitter.

Are you a blogger?

There will be an extra special prize for the person who refers the most new members during the registration period. Register today and they will send you a special referral link to share with your network.

Meet the Author of "Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs and Wear Cows" and Join a Book Club Discussion

I have two related events to announce!  First, Melanie Joy is coming to Orlando to talk about her latest book, Why we Love Dogs, Eat Pigs, and Wear Cows.

She will be speaking on March 19th at 6:30pm at UCF's Public Affairs Building I, Room 119.

Her presentation will explain the psychology of eating meat; the impact of meat production and consumption on our mind, body, society, and planet; and how individuals can make more informed and empowered choices as citizens and consumers.

Melanie is a social psychologist and professor of psychology at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. She holds a Ph.D in social psychology from Saybrook Graduate College and a master’s degree in teaching and curriculum from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She has written numerous articles on psychology, animal rights, and social justice, and is also the author of the activist handbook Strategic Action for Animals.  To RSVP for this event, please go to the Meetup site for Vegetarians of Central Florida.

Second, A Better World Book Club will be discussing Melanie Joy's book on March 23rd at 7pm, Rhapsodic Cooperative.  These events are both near World Meatout Day on the 20th.  So if you are looking for a reason to give up animal foods and transition to a plant based, vegetarian or vegan diet, these are excellent events to attend!  Many know the health benefits of eating less animal foods but need to look at things from a compassion angle to make the changes stick.

Green Juice

Here's what you do when you don't know what to do with your kale or when it's starting to look old.  I buy at least 4 bunches of Organic kale a week and at the end of the week I juice any leftover bunches with whatever fruit is starting to look less than fresh.  Last week we finished off all the fruit by Saturday morning so I went and picked oranges off our tree in the backyard to mix with the kale juice.  It is super easy to make, but you need a good juicer!

The ingredients:
1 bunch kale
3 oranges
1/2 cup water

Cut the oranges into quarters and remove the orange from the peel.  You cannot juice the peel, it will give too strong of a taste.  If you have a citrus juicer, you might want to use that instead.  I just don't like to pull out multiple appliances.  I don't like the cleanup :)  If you have an Omega juicer like me, you will get a good amount of pulp from the kale.  You can save that and put it back into the juice, put it into a pasta sauce for dinner or put it in the freezer to add to a smoothie later.

My kids love this juice. They get a nice green mustache when they drink it.  That beats a milk mustache hands down.

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Myth of Moderation, Part II

This guest post is written by Jeff Novick, MS, RD, LD, LN. and shared on with permission. Part 1 of this article is here.

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 following question is one I am frequently asked. It is about he impact of "just a little olive oil."

Q:  I know that it is best to order (or make) steamed vegetables. If I were to order (or make) vegetables with a 'little" olive oil, how much olive oil do you think is usually used in proportion to the vegetables and how bad would that be?

A: No one knows for sure. And little amounts can have a big impact since oil is the most calorie dense food there is. And, while vegetables are the lowest in calorie density, the impact of even small amounts of oil on the vegetables can be huge.

In addition, in spite of all the health claims, olive oil is a very rich source of calories and, in addition, 14% of the calories in olive oil come from saturated fat. The current recommendation from the American Heart Association is to limit our intake of saturated fat to no more than 7% of calories. Personally, I think less than 5% is better.

Now, this is a great question because everyone always wants to know, "how bad is a little of this" or "a little of that."  Your question, will give us an opportunity to look at this issue in detail.

So, let’s see how this works (and bear with me and all the math as I think this is very important)…

Let’s say you ordered a plain side of steamed vegetables. For every 1/2 cup serving of steamed vegetables, that would be about 25 calories. So, even a larger 1 cup serving would be only 50 calories.

Olive Oil, like all oils, is 40 calories per tsp.

So let’s see the impact.

If the serving of veggies is 25 calories (1/2 cup), adding even just 1 tsp. of oil would raise the total calories from 25 to 65 and the majority of the calories (62%) would now be coming from oil. Since most of the calories are no longer coming from the vegetables, this technically is no longer a side of veggies but a side of oil, with some veggies added.  :)

In addition, in regard to saturated fat, the vegetables would have virtually none. But by adding in the olive oil, the side dish is now about 10% saturated fat.

As we can see, the impact of the oil on the vegetables, at this level, is dramatic and that is just for a tsp. of oil.

If we add 2 tsp. of oil to a 1/2 cup serving of steamed vegetables, we would raise the total calories from 25 to 105, and the majority of the calories (76%) would now be coming from oil. This side dish is also now 11% saturated fat.

If we add 3 tsp. of oil (which is the same as one tablespoon) to a 1/2 cup serving of steamed vegetables, we would raise the total calories from 25 to 145 and the majority of the calories (83%) would now be coming from oil. The side dish is now also 12% saturated fat.

For those of you who eat more than a serving of vegetables at a time, let’s see the impact of the oil on the vegetables if we double the side dish of vegetables to 1 cup, which, according to traditional serving sizes, is 2 servings of vegetables.

If the serving of veggies is 50 calories (1 cup), even just 1 tsp. of oil would raise the total calories from 50 to 90 and almost half of the calories (45%) would now be coming from oil.  In addition, in regard to saturated fat, the vegetables would have virtually none, but by adding in the olive oil, the side dish is now 7% saturated fat.

If we add 2 tsp. of oil to the 1 cup serving of vegetables, we would raise the total calories from 50 to 130 and the majority of the calories (62%) would now be coming from oil. The dish is also now 9% saturated fat.

If we add 3 tsp. of oil (which is the same as one tablespoon) to one serving of vegetables, we would raise the total calories from 50 to 170, and the majority of the calories (70%) would now be coming from oil. The side dish is also now 11% saturated fat.

As we can see, the impact of even a little oil on typical serving sizes of vegetables is dramatic.

Now, remember, this analogy is with olive oil, which is supposed to be one of the healthier oils.  Imagine the negative impact a little coconut oil, which is over 90% saturated fat (with about 30% of the calories being the worst saturated fats), would have in the same scenario.

But, I know, some of you say you REALLY eat lots of vegetables.  :)

So, let's look at the impact of even a little oil on a large amount of salad and/or vegetables. Let's use a pound of steamed greens, which, for the record, would be about 3.5 cups of steamed kale.

A pound of steamed kale is 125 calories and is 1.4% saturated fat.

Adding 1 tsp. of oil would raise the total calories from 125 to 165 and 25% of the calories would now be coming from the oil. In addition, in regard to saturated fat, by adding in the olive oil, the side dish is now 5% saturated fat.

Adding 2 tsp. of oil would raise the total calories from 125 to 205 and 40% of the calories would now be coming from the oil.  In addition, by adding in the olive oil, the side dish is now almost 7% saturated fat.

Adding 3 tsp. (1 TB) of oil would raise the total calories from 125 to 245 and almost 50% of the calories would now be coming from oil.  By just adding 3 tsp. of oil to a pound of veggies, almost half the calories now come from the oil.  In addition, by adding in the olive oil, the side dish is now almost 8% saturated fat.

In my personal and professional opinion as both a RD, a former chef and a frequent visitor of restaurants, a TB of oil, if not more, is what many people are using (or getting) per typical serving of food/vegetables, which as we can see, can have a huge impact.  But, you actually may be betting much more.  So, let’s do one more example with 2 TB of oil.

Adding 6 tsp. (or 2 TB) of oil would raise the total calories from 125 to 365 and 65% of the calories would now be coming from oil. In addition, by adding in the olive oil, the side dish is now 10% saturated fat.

And this is playing out in homes and restaurants every day under the mistaken guise that oils, like olive oil are healthy for you.

For example, I was in an Italian restaurant a few weeks ago that is supposed to be known for its "healthy" food.  One of the members of the party I was with was trying to order a "heart healthy" meal.  She ordered pasta primavera with a plain tomato sauce and specifically requested it be cooked with "as little oil as possible."   When the dish came out, there was so much oil in the plate, she asked for a second plate so she could lift out the pasta and veggies from all the oil and put them in a new bowl.  After she did this, we looked at the remaining oil in the original plate and there had to be over 1/2 cup if not more, of oil left in the original bowl.   A 1/2 cup of oil is the equivalent of 8 tbsp.  Imagine the impact this would have had on someone trying to eat "Heart Healthy."  Even though she removed the pasta she was going to eat from all this oil, we still have no idea how much oil was still left in the pasta, veggies and sauce.

Instead of using oil, try sprinkling some balsamic vinegar and/or some lemon juice on your veggies along with some fresh herbs/seasonings.  Balsamic vinegar has only about 5 calories per tbsp. and has no saturated fat.  It will also add lots of flavor without adding any of the extra calories, fat and saturated fat that is in olive oil.

This is a real win/win/win.

It is time to clean up America's dietary oil spill.

In Health,

Sunday, March 6, 2011

World Meatout Day is March 20th!

I got an email from Ethos Vegan Kitchen today and noticed they had March 20th on the calendar as "World Meatout Day". This is the day all non vegetarians shall rejoice in vegetarian eating!...or at least give it a shot :)

FARM (Farm Animal Rights Movement), the organization that is promoting World Meatout Day, is "a national nonprofit organization promoting a vegan lifestyle through public education and grassroots activism to end the use of animals for food". The organization believes in the inherent self-worth of animals, as well as environmental protection and enhanced public health.

If you are interested in reducing animal foods in your diet or figuring out how you can most effectively participate in World Meatout Day, you can...

  • Have a free 30 minute call with me. Check out my Wellness Coaching site, Total Wellness Mentor
  • Check out my Veg-U-cation classes and support group meetings on the FSHL website
  • Seek out a local Vegetarian Group for potlucks on or before March 20th. Orlando has VegCF

Friday, March 4, 2011

$7 Subscription to Vegetarian Times!

I just noticed today that a 1-year subscription to Vegetarian Times on is only $7.00!  This a great deal for a resource that provides you with new recipes and information about the vegetarian lifestyle every month.  To check it out click on the picture above!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Open House at the Florida School of Holistic Living

The Spring Open House at the Florida School of Holistic Living is March 12th, from 11-3pm.  There will be mini-demonstrations, sample green smoothies (made by me!), kombucha, and herbs, and an opportunity to meet teachers at the school.  There will be "special spring semester tuition discounts, local refreshments and great friends will round out the day".

This a great opportunity to come and check out the school and ask questions about upcoming classes.  Hope to see you there!