How Plant Based Eating Heals the Heart

One of the first things I noticed after engaging in a plant based way of eating was the shift in my mood. I'm sure my digestion and energy improved, but these things come and go and are influenced by more than just what we ingest. But my mood, I felt lighter, happier, more even, less mood swings, less pms, less cranky, more easy going, and I'd like to think I was nicer, because I was definitely less bitchy!! This was an interesting observation, because I was expecting things like more energy, weight loss, etc. Well, expectation leads to suffering, and usually what we expect is not at all what we get. So I went with these noticeable changes, as I really enjoyed what was shifting in my life because I was eating more plants and less animal products.

That was about 7 years ago, and since then I have become completely plant based/animal free, eating as many whole foods as possible, and staying away from processed grains, mock meats and other highly fabricated food items. Of course in the last few years I really noticed the difference in digestion, energy, sleep, as well as my ability to be motivated and just get through the day. And I can confidently say that the early changes I noticed in my mood have held strong, and are probably even stronger now. Yes the mind and body are powerful drivers to influence the current mood state as well, yet it's been amazing to see just the positive changes that eating clean, whole plant foods have brought to my mood, emotions and well being. 

Not to say that my emotions are always even. They are most definitely not. I don't think I'd be human if they were smooth and steady! What I feel is more resilience, more softening, easier to come to compassion, less judgement, less harshness. Yes I can get stressed out and need to scream into a pillow. Yes I can get really down and sad and mopey. It's the resilience that I notice the most. I could throw down a ton of links to point you to studies and other articles that give evidence to a plant based diet helping with depression, anxiety, mood swings, and more. But you have access to google as easily as I go, so you can GTS any time. I'm more interested in sharing my experience, because I believe that to be more powerful than charts, graphs and statistics. 

Our body is a complex machine that most of science and research still does not understand. Even my doctor, who has been a practicing OB for decades, admits that the more he learns about the human body, the less he feels he knows and the more mystified he is. I believe we are physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. I believe what happens in our body when we eat is a lot more spiritual than we realize, and exchanges take place that, at this time, cannot be seen or measured by science. 

With that as my disclaimer, I do believe that something happens in our body when we eat meat or other animal products vs when we eat plants. I don't think it's outlandish to speculate that when our body takes on the DNA of another animal, changes can happen that are not so favorable. Not just the physiological occurrences of heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol that have all been linked to eating a diet of animal products, but also mental, emotional and spiritual shifts can take place that can't be detected.

What do I mean? Quite frankly, that we take on the energy of the animal when we eat it. For example, eggs are a product of a hen's menstrual cycle. And when eggs are consumed, they carry the energetic vibration of reproduction and life, for a hen. And when a human consumes that, we take it on in our body. It can throw off our own system in countless ways through the endocrine and digestive system. What about cow milk, you know, meant for a baby cow, that is consumed by millions of people worldwide? What do the hormones and building blocks, for a baby cow, do to us mentally, emotionally and spiritually when it's consumed? And then the meat, cow meat, pig meat, poultry meat, how can that affect the body, mind and spirit? Animals taken to slaughter are in a state of fear, panic and distress. Their body holds on to that vibration and energy when they are killed. I firmly believe that's implanted into the meat, and we take that on ourselves when it's consumed. And please don't think that animals are not aware of what's happening to them when they are slaughtered. They are acutely aware and show all the signs of fear and panic. 

In my early 20's I was in Moscow, Russia, volunteering with a program teaching English to Russian students. Our large group of very loud, unaccustomed to Russian culture, American girls were riding the escalator down to the metro. We were giggly, boisterous and probably incredibly annoying!! Standing in front of us was a man with a black leather jacket and a ponytail, probably in his 30's. He turned around and said to us loudly in English, "American girls sound like chickens!!" and then turned his back to us again. We all shut up, giggling silently through pressed lips, and didn't say another word. I don't think it's just because we were young, excitable girls that we were talking like that. You are what you eat. You eat chicken, you sound like chickens. 

It's almost been a year since I gave birth to our twin sons at 20 weeks. They were born too early to survive so we said hello and goodbye to them in a manner of hours. It is still to this day the most heart-wrenching experience of my life. Not a moment goes by where I don't think of them. I still see myself holding them in the hospital, my husband leaning over me, as we said our final goodbyes. My heart is etched with these memories that can never be erased. It has almost been a year, and although I'm still sad and I miss them like crazy, I'm ok. We're ok. We really are. It's not that life goes on. Life is just different and I can think of them without being overcome with sadness and grief. I can think of them with feelings of joy and gratitude that because of them, I am a mother. I can marvel in the miracle of their short lives. 

I believe I am able to do this because of my commitment to a plant based diet and holistic way of living. Sure meditation and yoga can be amazing tools of healing as well. But I'm not very disciplined about meditation and I don't do yoga every day either. What can, and absolutely does, make a difference, is what I chose to put on my plate, in my bowl, in my glass, every single day. You truly are what you eat. The food you eat becomes your cells, your blood, your organs, even your thoughts, your moods and your actions. Yes, you are what you eat. And by choosing compassion every day, by choosing to save animals lives and to not contribute to their suffering, I am choosing what aligns with my morals and values. And this not only feels good, it helps me live a better life. Helps me be my best self. I don't believe I'd be this far into my healing from grief, loss, and anxiety if it wasn't for my plant based diet. Our cells become what we eat.

How could I be a grieving mother, suffering and in pain, and contribute to another's suffering and pain, and expect to heal?

Animals suffer in pain and agony when they die. There is no humane way to kill a sentient being who wants to live. And by choosing to let the animals live, by choosing to eat only a whole foods, plant based diet, I have contributed to my healing. My mind, body and spirit are free because I allow animals to live. I don't take in the energy of their suffering and pain, and in turn, my body is able to heal in it's own way, without the disruptions of the cells and DNA of another living being. 

I thank our sons every day for helping me to live a life that shows compassion to all beings. I try my best. I believe my plant based, vegan lifestyle is a huge step in this directions. By practicing the values I believe in, I have a stronger connection to myself, to animals, to the planet, to other human beings, and to the etheric realm as well. 

lokah samastah sukhino bhavantu

“May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.”

 

Savory Chickpea Pancakes

I love pancakes (and waffles too).  They are so delicious and are really the one food I miss the most since going gluten free and adapting a whole foods plant based diet.  I would take waffles over pizza any day!!  I make pancakes, but not that often, even though I have a killer gluten free recipe that uses home ground buckwheat and millet flour.  I do this in my Blendtec, couldn't live without it!

Anyhow, I was stoked when I found this recipe for chickpea pancakes that is gluten free, grain free, and vegan ... Woohoo!!    I had some dried chickpeas on hand, and I threw them in the blender to grind up in to flour.  If you do this, it's very LOUD, so I suggest covering your ears or putting in earplugs.  It's much louder than when I grind other flours. This recipe is so versatile, you can have it for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  I adapted the recipe a little bit to my liking and to what I had on hand.    I'm always doing that, it's extremely rare when I follow a recipe to the T.  My husband says it's because I don't like being told what to do!  I say it's because I like to put my own spin on things, so I guess it's kind of the ego taking over so that I can say "It's Mine", lol!

The original recipe from Oh She Glows (FANTASTIC recipe blog, btw) has the pancake topped with avocado, tomatoes, hummus and cashew sauce.  That's too heavy for me, so I opted to top mine with sauteed veggies.  Really any combination will be delicious, and whatever you have on hand always works out best.  Zucchini, cauliflower, any greens like kale, chard or dandelion, bell pepper, cabbage, fennel, onions, garlic, mushrooms, whatever you've got!  I also added zucchini to the recipe of the pancake batter instead of green onions, since that was what I had on hand.  Instead of garlic powder, I used Costco's organic no salt seasoning and added Himalayan salt.  I also doubled the recipe and it turned out perfectly.  This is seriously my new favorite recipe, it's soooo good!

(Original Recipe: courtesy of ohsheglows.com)

Jumbo Chickpea Pancake

Vegan, gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, oil-free, soy-free, sugar-free

This dense and filling savoury chickpea pancake is packed with protein and fibre. Feel free to change up the mix-ins and toppings based on what you have in your fridge. To prevent it from sticking to the skillet, be sure to spray the skillet liberally with olive oil before pouring on the batter. Also, I suggest chopping the veggies finely so they cook faster.

Yield
1 large or 2 smaller

Prep Time
10 Minutes

Cook time
10 Minutes

Ingredients:

  • 1 green onion, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red pepper
  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour (also known as garbanzo flour or besan)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons water
  • For serving: salsa, avocado, hummus, cashew cream (optional)

Directions:

  1. Prepare the vegetables and set aside. Preheat a 10-inch skillet over medium heat.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the chickpea flour, garlic powder, salt, pepper, baking powder, and optional red pepper flakes.
  3. Add the water and whisk well until no clumps remain. I like to whisk it for a good 15 seconds to create lots of air bubbles in the batter.
  4. Stir in the chopped vegetables.
  5. When the skillet is pre-heated (a drop of water should sizzle on the pan), spray it liberally with olive oil or other non stick cooking spray.
  6. Pour on all of the batter (if making 1 large pancake) and quickly spread it out all over the pan. Cook for about 5-6 minutes on one side (timing will depend on how hot your pan is), until you can easily slide a pancake flipper/spatula under the pancake and it's firm enough not to break when flipping. Flip pancake carefully and cook for another 5 minutes, until lightly golden. Be sure to cook for enough time as this pancake takes much longer to cook compared to regular pancakes.
  7. Serve on a large plate and top with your desired toppings. Leftovers can be wrapped up and placed in the fridge. Reheat on a skillet until warmed throughout.


Read more: http://ohsheglows.com/2013/09/15/jumbo-chickpea-pancake-a-high-protein-filling-vegan-breakfast-or-lunch/#ixzz2xTa8uGJs

 

My Recipe:  Savory Chickpea Pancakes

Ingredients for pancakes:

  • 1/4 c zucchini, finely chopped with hand chopper
  • 1/4 c finely chopped red pepper
  • 1/8 c finely chopped onion (or green onion)
  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour (also known as garbanzo flour or besan)
  • 1 tsp organic no salt seasoning or Herbamare
  • 1/4 tsp Himalayan salt (omit if using Herbamare)
  • Dash of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons water

Ingredients for toppings (the possibilities are endless!):

  • zucchini
  • bell pepper
  • mushrooms
  • onion/green onion
  • fennel
  • cauliflower
  • brussel sprouts
  • tomato
  • kale, chard, dandelion greens
  • olives
  • sun-dried tomatoes
  • avocado

Prepare the pancakes as indicated in above recipe.  They can be made any size, large or small, and flip beautifully every time.  At the same time, add all chopped veggies to a saute pan with coconut oil, olive oil or ghee.  Cook until crisp tender, or until greens have wilted and onions have turned clear.

Top pancakes with veggies and avocado and enjoy!

-2.jpg


-3.jpg


-1.jpg




Coconut Curry Veggie Dish

Coconut is so delicious!  I have been experimenting with whole, young coconuts (Thai coconuts) lately and whipped up this quick and tasty dinner.  It was really easy, I promise!  I don't like spending a ton of time cooking, even though I do love being in the kitchen.  And making everything from scratch can be tedious and messy.  But this recipe wasn't, so I will be repeating it in the near future for sure!  One pan dinner with very little clean up, yes please!!

I opted to use a fresh, young coconut to make coconut milk instead of using canned coconut milk.  Once you know how to open the coconut, it's actually pretty easy and quick.  It's cheaper or the same price as canned coconut milk, but it's not processed, and it tastes sooo much better!

To prepare, you need a young coconut and a knife with a blunt edge.  If you're not sure how to open it, check out this video tutorial here.  If you have a Whole Foods nearby, they sell their young coconuts with the husk cut off and a hole already exposed.  So easy!

Coconut Curry Veggies

Ingredients (organic whenever possible):

  • fresh ginger
  • fresh turmeric
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • onion
  • sweet squash like acorn, delicata, kabocha or butternut (I used white acorn squash)
  • romanesco or cauliflower
  • 2 small or 1 large zucchini
  • 1 bell pepper (any color)
  • 2 carrots
  • coconut oil
  • 1 young coconut
  • curry seasoning

First, make coconut milk

Open the young coconut by puncturing a hole and draining the water into a jar, bowl, etc.  Scrape out the flesh with a small silicone spatula.  Add all the water and all the flesh/meat to a blender, and blend until smooth and frothy.  There's your coconut milk!  It should yield anywhere from 12-16 oz, which is about how much a can of coconut milk is.  You will use it all in this recipe.

Next, to make the dish

Prepare the squash first because this is the most time intensive.  Peel off skin and cut in half or sections, removing the seeds by scraping them out with a spoon.  Cut in to bite size pieces and set aside.  If your squash is really big, use only half or part of it.  I used an entire white acorn squash.  

Chop up onion, garlic, ginger and turmeric finely.  I used 1/2 thumb size of peeled ginger and turmeric each.  Add about 2 TB of coconut oil to a saute pan and add onion, garlic, ginger and turmeric to the pan.  Keep on medium low.  Once they start to sauté, add a little bit of the coconut milk that you just made to the pan and continue sautéing.  Add curry seasoning to taste.  I probably used at least a TB of curry.

Now add the squash to the pan with more coconut milk and bring to a low simmer.  Cover with a lid and let it cook while you cut up the rest of the veggies.

Chop up romanesco or cauliflower (I used romanesco, I'm obsessed with it lately!), carrot, zucchini, bell pepper, and any other veggies that you think would be good.  Peas are also traditionally used in Indian food dishes, so you could add those as well.  

Add all veggies to the pan, stir and add the rest of the coconut milk.  Add more curry powder is desired.  Stir and keep veggies on a low simmer until they are done to your liking, 15-20 minutes.  I like the squash to be cooked soft, but the bell pepper and romanesco to be crisp tender.  You might like it different, so cook it how you want it!  

Let it cool for few minutes off the heat (the squash gets hot!!) before you dish out and enjoy!  This makes enough for leftovers for the next day (if you're only feeding 2).

 

unnamed-1.jpg



Chocolate Beet Cake

I love chocolate!  I have heard it touted as a supreme superfood full of beneficial antioxidants, and I have also heard that it can be a neurotoxin and can actually be damaging to the brain.  Well, whichever one it is doesn't really matter to me, I love it!!  I try to eat it in raw form with very little to no sugar, and never with concentrated or refined sugar, ever.

Here is a delicious chocolate beet cake recipe that everyone will love.  Seriously, every single person who has tried this when I have made it absolutely loves it!  It's great for birthdays, potlucks and other special occasions.  I made it on Valentine's Day and froze half of it, otherwise I would have had cake for breakfast, lunch, dinner and then I would have felt sick and gross!

The original recipe comes from Green Smoothie Girl where she uses wheat and eggs.  I have adapted it to be vegan, and there is a gluten free option as well.  Oat groats can be used for people who tolerate oats just fine.  Oats alone are gluten free, but most grow in conjunction with wheat and therefore may contain gluten by cross contamination.  The gluten free option uses buckwheat groats and millet.  In either recipe you will be making your own flour, which is so much easier than it sounds!!

Chocolate Beet Cake

1 cup buckwheat flour (ground from raw buckwheat groats)
1 cup millet flour (ground from raw millet )

(** can use 2 cups of oat groat flour, ground from raw oat groats, but this is not a guarantee that it will be gluten free, I've made it both ways and its good both ways!!**)

3 chia seed eggs: 3 TB whole chia seeds soaked in 9 TB water
1.5 c coconut crystals (coconut sugar)
3/4 c melted coconut oil
4 small to medium size beets, peeled and steamed (last time I made it I used 2 large beets and it turned out great!)
1/4 c raw cacao powder
1 tsp vanilla (I use Sunfood vanilla powder)
1.5 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp himalayan salt

Preheat oven to 350. To make the flour, measure 1 cup of buckwheat groats, add to a high speed blender like Blendtec or VItamix, and blend until a dry flour powder is formed.  Do the same with 1 cup of millet.  Or, if you are using oat groats, put 2 cups of raw oat groats in the blender and blend until it turns in to flour.  Peel and steam the beets, then puree them in the blender, adding the chia "eggs", oil, sugar, vanilla. Blend, then add all other ingredients and blend to completely mix.  You may need to add a little bit more water to the mixture to get it to blend evenly. 

Bake in a 9x13 pan greased with coconut oil (I use sunflower lecithin for this and it works great too) for 30 min.
 

This is what the batter looks like before baking, a beautiful red velvet color!  It will turn brown and look like delicious chocolatey goodness after baking :)

This is what the batter looks like before baking, a beautiful red velvet color!  It will turn brown and look like delicious chocolatey goodness after baking :)

For frosting, I use Stacy Stowers' raw chocolate sauce recipe, it is so rich and tasty on top of this cake, especially warm out of the oven!  This chocolate sauce is also the key to the most delicious chocolate dipped strawberries, and although it's still a treat, it's so much healthier!

Simple Chocolate Sauce Recipe: 
(courtesy of stacystowers.com)

1 cup raw cacao powder 
1/2 cup raw honey
1/3 cup coconut oil
1/4 cup water
pinch of salt
blend, drizzle, dip or spread, and enjoy!

Apparently this is turning in to a food blog ...

My intention for starting this blog was motivation and education.  I wanted to share articles, links, and post information on topics that brings awareness and knowledge about holistic health to all.  I figured I would share a recipe here or there, but more than anything I wanted to educate about the what's and why's (why not eat this, what are excitotoxins and why to avoid them, what can exposure to the sun do for our health, why are essential oils so good to use, etc)

And while those topics are constantly brewing in my mind, and are most likely coming in the future, it seems to keep turning back to food every time I decide to do a blog post! 

Read More

What I eat for Breakfast!!

I get this question all the time:  "What DO you eat??" 

When I respond "Seeds, fruit, veggies, roots, seed like grains, more veggies, and more fruit!" I usually get a few responses like "You must always be hungry" or "That does not sound very good!" 

Well it is good and I'm not hungry!  I love food and I eat all the time, probably too much.  This is a social convention that we have adopted as a society, and we really need much, much less food than we actually eat.  I would say that 90% of eating is to feed the "mental and emotional" body, the little kid inside of us who still wants sweets, the crying teenager who has a broken heart and wants comfort food, you get the idea.   

Okay, that could be a week long blog session, so back to what I eat for breakfast!  Here are two very simple, very satisfying and easy breakfasts that I enjoy. 

Read More

The {Simple} Green Smoothie

Green smoothies are the latest fad in the health community, and have been for almost 10 years.  What started with the all fruit smoothie years ago has transformed in to a household buzz word.  At least one person you know is probably consuming one every day, maybe even you!

Green smoothies are a fantastic way to get whole, raw veggies and fruit in to your diet.  The more raw food we can eat the better, as it is what we are made to digest.  Raw food has undisturbed vitamins, minerals, amino acids and enzymes that are perfect for well balanced health. 

Read More

Rich + Creamy Fruit Dip Recipe

It's raw

It's vegan

It's freakin delicious!!

I love chips and dip, and although I really try to not eat chips because of the rancid oil that they are fried in, I love chips and want to eat them often!  Sometimes I make my own in the dehydrator, but that hasn't happened in a few weeks.  Although I love it when I make chips/crackers and this reminds me that I need to do it more :)

I was munching on Bare Fruit organic apple chips from Costco and really felt like I wanted to dip them in to something.  I browsed through my cabinets, and saw the melted coconut oil on my stove top (it's been pretty hot here lately).  I found some cashews, and it gave me an idea!

I made a cashew buttery dip with coconut oil, coconut water, and dates.  I dipped the apple chips in it and it was sooo good!  Then I dipped strawberries in it for dessert.  More yumminess!  Then I took it to work in my lunch and dipped raw apple slices in it.  I ran out of apples but spooned the rest of the dip out until it was gone.  Yes, it's that good!  It's rich and creamy, but smoother and thinner than nut butter because of the added coconut oil.  The flavor of the cashews with coconut is divine!

The recipe is simple, and I didn't measure anything so I'll try to quantify the amount of ingredients as best as I can.

Oh, and I don't have any pictures of it because I already ATE IT ALL!!

Raw Vegan Cashew Coconut Dip/Spread

1  c. cashews (soak for a few hours)

1/2 c. melted coconut oil

1/4 c. coconut water/filtered water with 2 dates soaking in it (can do for 1/2 hr or longer to soften the dates)

Dash of vanilla

Dash of Himalayan sea salt

rain the water from the cashews and rinse.  I highly recommend soaking all nuts/seeds/grains if possible, but more on that topic at another time.

Add cashews, melted coconut oil, coconut water/water and dates to blender. 

You don't have to use a high speed blender like a Blendtec or a Vitamix, so if you don't just make sure to soak the cashews and dates for a long time so that they soften enough to blend.

ou might need more cashews, more water, etc to adjust the creaminess level.  This was not as hearty as nut butter, but was more runny and easy to spread.  It's the perfect fruit dip for dessert.  I think I might even put it on my kamut pancakes next time I make them.  um!!

ope you like it!  I hope to post more recipes as I make them and as the ideas come to me. 

Forks Over Knives

his could be the first generation of children in the United States that lives less than its parents. -Richard Carmona, former U.S. Surgeon General

recently watched "Forks Over Knives" for about the 4th time.  I love this documentary for many reasons.  For me, it solidifies why I have chosen eat a plant based diet.  The research findings are intriguing and astounding.  I also love that the two doctors in the documentary, Dr. Campbell and Dr. Esselstyn, were raised on dairy farms and now advocate a meat and dairy free, plant based diet!

Forks_Over_Knives.jpg

he basic premise of the film is that although the U.S. is the most advanced medical technology in the world, we are the most overweight, the sickest, and on the most prescription medication than any other nation.  The film examines the claim that most, if not all degenerative diseases that burden us, can be controlled or even reversed by eating a plant based diet free of animal products and processed food.

ere are some of the startling statistics from the film:

  • About half of all Americans are taking some form of a prescription drug
  • The U.S. spends $2.2 trillion on health care (in 2011)
  • Health care per person in the U.S. is more expensive than any other nation, yet we are sicker than ever
  • Diet related health issues like obesity, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure cost the U.S. more than $120 billion/year (in 2011)

 

If this is intriguing to you (and why wouldn't it be!!), I highly suggest watching "Forks Over Knives".  A great follow up, which is also on Netflix streaming, is "Forks Over Knives:  The Extended Interviews".  Like the title, it has more in depth interviews with Dr. Campbell and Dr. Esselstyn, as well as other main contributors. 

And because I know you want even more fun, check out Dr. Esselstyn's son Rip Esselstyn's "Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue".  He is a plant-strong firefighter who advocates for teaching people how to transition to a plant-based diet.  A mantra that he repeats often is "real men eat plants"! 

ll of these can be viewed on Netflix instant streaming, yay! 

Start the organic made-on-the-stove-or-in-the-whirly-pop-with-organic-coconut-oil-and-himalayan-sea-salt popcorn and settle in for a night of mind-bending, educational films! 

Isn't that how everyone spends their Friday night ;-) ??

MyBeefWithMeat.jpg

Rip Esselstyn also has a book coming out in May, "My Beef with Meat", which I can't wait to read! 

A strong, manly firefighter discussing the ins and outs of why to eat a plant-based diet ... yes please!!