Sauteed Lemon Maple Frisée

I just realized I should have taken a "before" photo!

We just collected our gorgeous CSA share from Sapelo Farms, thanks Gabe & BA!! And I noticed the recipe included this week was for Frisée. Those of you who know me realize there is not much I don't like, and even less that I hate but having out ever had it in a mixed salad, I would have to say, I HATE Frisée!!
When I saw the recipe, I knew it was my chance to redeem myself back into love status so I immediately had to try the recipe. Sautéed Lemon Frisée which originally comes from Epicurious. I tweaked the recipe a bit to lower the fat & eliminate the anchovies and came up with this:
Sautéed Citrus Frisée! It's just what the doctor ordered for D & me as we've been suffering from bronchitis!! I never get sick either!!
I can now say truthfully, LOVE Frisée!!

Sautéed Citrus Frisée
3 T veggie stock
1/2 t orange zest
1/2 t lemon zest
1 T vegan worcestershire sauce
1 T fresh orange juice
1 T fresh lemon juice
1 lg head Frisée, washed & torn
1/2 T. Maple syrup
1/2 cup toasted herbed Bread Crumbs

Wet sauté frisée in veggie stock until wilted. About 1-2 min.
Remove from hear & add juices & Worcestershire sauce. Remove from heat and serve garnished with breadcrumbs & citrus zest.

Next time I will add garlic & red pepper flakes, maybe some raisins or currents would be nice in place of maple syrup. This is a classic Mediterranean way for cooking bitter greens! So simple, why didn't I ever try it before?? I suppose the answer is I've never had, or wanted to have an entire head of Frisée!!

Wine and Cheese

Herbed Chevre

Smoky Cheddar

Sure there are all sorts of vegetable substitutes for this staple food which vegans admonish from their diets. Sometimes it is the last animal product we let go of, maybe because it is so good, perhaps because it is truly addictive! What am I talking about here people?? Yes, CHEESE! (and dairy products too). The congealed secretions of bovine and other mammary glands, ICK! How did humans ever become so creative with food that we came up with cheeses? When we finally give up cheese and other dairy products, for good, many plant-based eaters go immediately in search of some fake food substitute. I was bound and determined not to go there for several years until the launch of DAIYA brand cheese substitutes. My curiosity took hold of me and I tried them. Now I admit to using these products occasionally and sparingly and this is how I recommend they be used. They are not an everyday food and certainly NOT healthy, nutritious foods. Much like animal cheeses, I have often looked at the ingredients in vegan cheeses and wondered how these products are made. I had made simple cheeses in the past from cow or goat milks but never even dreamed to attempt non-dairy cheese making with the exception of the tofu ricotta, a nacho or mac and cheese sauce made from squashes or my much-loved parma-non, a combo of nuts, nooch, & lemon zest.
Not until Miyoko Schinner's new book came into my hands. This book fascinated me and I immediately went to work recreating her recipes and sharing the product with anyone who would dare to try them.

Miyoko's Book, a must have!

The basic recipe uses cashews as the protein and in a similar technique to traditional cheese making, the protein (in this case nut or soy protein) is inoculated with a pro-biotic in the form of Rejuvelac (a liquid formed by sprouting grains). After you have made the rejuvelac and the basic cashew recipe, Miyoko gives you options for several cheeses. Because many home cooks would choose never to go down this road on their own or without guidance, and because most of us would never be able to attend one of Miyoko's classes, I decided to offer a Vegan Cheez-making class right here in Southeast Georgia. The class attracted people who are vegan and non-vegan as people avoid dairy for many different reasons these days. One attendee was there just because she loves food and was curious!
I started the cheez-making process ahead of time and had different stages of all ingredients for the attendees to play around with in class as well as take home. We had a great time!
having fun making cheezes!

Wines from Vegan Sommelier, veggie-go's & J.K. Adams Wine & Dine boards

While planning the class, I was looking through VegNews magazine and noticed the ad for Vegan Sommelier. Immediately the thought crossed my mind to have some vegan wines to taste along with the cheezes! I contacted John and Gina Trippi the compassionate owners of Vegan Sommelier who were kind enough to coach me through the wine selection process and tell me the truth about wine-making which regularly uses animal proteins such as fish guts and shrimp shells in the wine-making process, YUK!! The class attendees LOVED all of the wines! "Very Impressed" were the exact words from at least one cheez-maker. Thanks John & Gina! The wines are fabulous and will be featured at our holiday table from now through the New Year! These wines are small batch from independent growers and I highly recommend them! Most wines at VS are $20 or under and there are great tasting notes on the website to help with your selection. John & Gina are available by email too. In fact, there is a recipe of my own Smoky cheeze ball on their facebook page which you can find HERE. (remember to LIKE the page!!)

Ahhhhh, what a great day it was, and all of us were able to serve some delicious vegan cheezes at our Thanksgiving feasts, if they lasted that long! We sampled Veggie-Go's by the Naked Edge and each participant went home with a J.K. Adams Wine & Dine cheese board too. I can't wait to hold this class again and make more Cheez!!

Sláinte! (slawn-cha), Gaelic for Health!

North Florida VegFest and Health B-4 the Holidays!

 WOW, what a week it has been. I arrived back into Brunswick just in time to exhibit at two really awesome events; The North Florida VegFest  put on by the Girls Gone Green, down in Jacksonville and a smaller, more local event in Brunswick -  Health B-4 the Holidays which was the brainchild of Kel & Erin Quarterman from Gold Coast Nutrition.

Here are some photos to help catch you up with were we are these days. Vegfest was all day on Saturday, November 3 and one week later, Health B-4 the Holidays was Saturday, November 10.

My Booth at North Florida VegFest, notice the new 'burnout' Elephant tees. 

The event planners included a scavenger hunt, run using text messages and we gave some prizes away. One of the winners, Maria Begonia, won a JUST EAT PLANTS t-shirt and a book about making baby. It was really serendipitous for Maria to win that particular book because she and her husband of 10 years have just decided to start a family :-)

Scavenger Hunt Winner; Maria Begonia won a Book & T!
I was accompanied by my great & dedicated friend, Nurse Good-body herself - Karen Ansel. Karen works nights at our local hospital, delivering and looking after babies, especially the sick ones. Karen had to get up at 6 AM (an ungodly hour for a vampire) to drive me and all of my boxes down to Jacksonville. Some other friends including Mark Farver and Carin Berolzheimer made the trek down to Jville to check out the Festival, thanks guys! One of the food vendors was Shakti Life Kitchen. Check them out HERE.

Great Food and great t-shirts!
 The organizers, Girls Gone Green, did a fantastic job. Everything was easy to navigate and there were plenty of cool offerings. Here is a photo of a couple of the many fun mascots which were roaming around the festival grounds all day. There was a very impressive KIDS corner too with more than just face painting!

The Loving Hut is a rep of one of the fastest growing chain of Vegan Restaurants. I had no idea there was such a thing! This is what staying in rural Maine does to a gal. Check out their site here.
Another great Food Vendor

Health B-4 the Holidays! Here I am manning my booth. Kel and Erin Quaterman are a dyn-o-mite husband/wife team who own a cool shop where you can meet all of your supplement and shelf-stable nutritional needs right in downtown Brunswick! They are really concerned about people and so they put together the health fair event. The radio station Magic 105.9 was present doing a remote and I was honored to be on-air with Mark Douglas!

Kel and Erin Quarterman

Booth at Health B-4 the Holidays!
 I could not have pulled it off without the help of another dear friend, Catherine Fleming, Thanks Kitty!! Catherine helped me schlep everything over to the space, get set up, and took these photos. We made Green smoothies and YONANAS along with sharing samples of Trail Mix Bars and Smoky Cheddar (recipes below)! People really like both but the YONANAS was really a hit. I think many were going right over to Target or Bed Bath and Beyond to get one of these great little cuties for themselves. In fact Mark Douglas and his fiancee have registered at Bed Bath & Beyond and they have included the YONANA on their wedding list of "must-haves".

Making Yonanas with one little fella waiting patiently for more!
It was a very busy week and now I must vamp up for the Holiday Entertaining Cooking Class this Wednesday, November 14th! Thanksgiving is just around the corner!

Smokey Nut-Cheddar Ball

MiMi McGee – Leafy Café


½ cup blanched, slivered almonds
½ cup dry roasted, unsalted cashews
4.5 oz, or 1/3 of 14oz. block firm tofu, very dry (pressed with a Tofu Press works Great!)
¼ cup Nooch (Nutritional Yeast)
½ t seasoned salt such as Herbimare
1 t sugar or Succanat
1 t fresh squeezed lemon juice
¼ t liquid smoke
½ t smoked paprika
½ t Hungarian paprika
1 t Vegan Butter such as Earth Balance
1 t EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
1 t mustard
1 t garlic
1 t grated onion
¼ c sliced almonds

1.      Place almonds and cashews into a food processor until ground up for about 2 minutes or until it starts to form a paste.
2.      Using 1/3 of a block of tofu from a 14oz block, (it's important to use firm tofu) drain & press tofu. If you do not own a Tofu Press, use a strainer by smashing and pressing firmly. Using a clean dish towel to soak up some of the water helps too. It's important to get as much water as you can out.
3.      Now add the tofu to the almond and cashew nut paste that's already in the food processor along with the nutritional yeast flakes, seasoned salt, sugar, lemon juice, liquid smoke, paprika, vegan butter, olive oil, mustard, garlic powder, onion and blend about 2 minutes.
4.      Spray a bowl and a square of plastic wrap with no stick spray or rub with EVOO. Pile mixture into the bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Place in fridge and chill for at least 5 hours or overnight. It will get firm and can now be shaped into a ball and rolled in sliced almonds and paprika. 

 Shrek Smoothie

MiMi McGee – Leafy Café
Serves 2 for meal replacement or 4 for snack
2 c. Frozen Spinach
2 T. Apple Juice Concentrate
8 oz. Crushed Pineapple
½ Frozen Banana or ½ avocado for creaminess
2 c. Almond or other Non-dairy milk
Optional (for protein and Omega boosts): Hemp, Chia and/or Flax Seed; Almond butter, cooked Quinoa
Blend all together in a high speed blender until smooth. Add more water, ice or non-dairy milk as needed. Feel free to add a couple of pitted dates for extra sweetness or some of the other protein boosting 

Mary's Good News!

I'd like to share some recent emails from Food for Life Alumnae, Mary Brand. A while back we featured Mary and her husband who own the printing company where our JUST EAT PLANTS shirts are printed! Mary attended my first ever FFL Cancer Project class on St. Simons at the Island Natural Market on Dec. 1 2011. She then followed up with the entire series later in 2012. Now, Mary has some very GOOD NEWS!

Mary holding up one of the first tees, hot off the press!

Both emails are from Oct. 2012 while I was prepping supplies for the VegFest in Jacksonville, including the newly designed Elephant JUST EAT PLANTS tshirts.

Hi MiMi

Got CA 125 blood test results today and I am at 26.8 now!  That's in the acceptable range of 0-34.  I am very happy!  It has gone down from 91 in January!

I have a question for a friend, is your Holiday Cooking Class gluten free?



and then this: 


Hey!  Wow, you were so smart to leave the north when you did!  Hope the storm didn't mess with you on the trip down here.

Both of your orders are ready to pick up at your convenience.  I won't be out there for a while due to end of month work that I have to do.  But I am looking forward to seeing you at class! 

I never answered your last email . . . Thanks for the congrats!  You can use my story and I will share in any way you need, I can guest blog if you tell me how to go about it.  I feel like bricks have been lifted off of me!!!  I have been telling everyone about the benefits of a vegan diet.  That's two major turnarounds for me, both proven with blood test results.  The first was stage one kidney disease completely reversed to the good, and now this CA 125 cancer test.  Without having the recommended hysterectomy and following pathology, there is no way to tell if I actually had cancer or just many false positives.  Some people told me not to wait, get the surgery right away.  I am so glad I waited and thankful that it worked out this way.  I credit the vegan diet and Dr. Cabeca's supplements to the good test results. Thank you for your influences to keep me on this healthy path.


I hear of these types of results in classes from other alumni of the Food for Life Program. I am so fortunate to present this valuable information in our communities!

GO Mary!! Wooo HOOOO!

The October McDougall Newsletter

I was unsure about where to begin this post. So much has happened this week and thoughts of blog have been absent, I admit. However, when I saw Dr. John McDougall's October Newsletter, I had write something in hopes it might fall upon eyes which would otherwise not read it.
I have re-located to my beloved coastal Georgia just in time to escape Hurricane or Post Tropical Cyclone SANDY, leaving Maine on Sunday and flying directly over the monster storm. My family, most of whom reside on the New Jersey shore, some in NYC and a few more in the storm's westerly path, did not have it so easy. Everyone is accounted for and homes are still standing but the days and weeks to come will have them processing what has really happened around them, in their towns and to their closest friends and I send them much love and pray they have the strength that is required (I'm sure they do). God Bless you brothers and sisters, cousins and neighbors and friends.

I just received the latest McDougall Newsletter. I look forward to Dr. McD's monthly rants, informative articles and awesome recipes from Mary or guest chefs. This month, John pays homage to George McGovern who passed away on Oct. 21. I vaguely remember when Sen. McGovern ran for president against Richard Nixon in 1972, we know what happened in that election. But, what I did not know, and what Dr. McD writes about in his latest newsletter is Senator McGovern's concern for public health and the food we eat or rather, should eat. McGovern was re-elected to the senate 1974 and during his years as a senator, from 1968 - 1980 he was involved in many issues related to agriculture, nutrition, and hunger. Here is an excerpt from the 1977 Dietary Goals for the United States. You can read more from the report as well as Dr. McD's comments HERE


Excerpts From The First Edition Of
"The Dietary Goals For The United States"
Dr. C. Samuel West's Statements Regarding The Three Page Forward Of Second Edition
Senator Percy's Three Page Forward To The Second Edition Of The Dietary Goals

Printed for the use of the Select Committee on Nutrition and Human Needs
As a nation we have come to believe that medicine and medical technology can solve our major health problems. The role of such important factors as diet in cancer and heart disease has long been obscured by the emphasis on the conquest of these diseases through the miracles of modern medicine. Treatment not prevention, has been the order of the day.
The problems can never be solved merely by more and more medical care. The health of individuals and the health of the population is determined by a variety of biological (host), behavioral, sociocultural and environmental factors. None of these is more important than the food we eat. This simple fact and the importance of diet in health and disease is clearly recognized in Dietary Goals for the United States.

I was floored by reading this. That was 1977! It reminds me of how close we were to addressing & resolving so many issues at hand in 1977 which we still have unresolved, even mushroomed out of control TODAY! In 1977, I went off to college hoping to be a part of a country changing for the better. The Environmental movement was in full swing. I held that flag and waved it high choosing Environmental Science as my major. I thought we could change the world for the better; recycling, growing our own food, eating closer to home and reducing consumption, those were our mantras. Get outdoors and enjoy nature, protect and preserve the Mother, reduce the use of petroleum! WHAT HAPPENED?? 
Please read Dr. McDougall's newsletter to learn more. 

Sláinte is a word literally translating as "health"

I hope this Irish pub located on Bowery and Bleeker was able to weather  SANDY!


Yonanas, made by DOLE is one of the keenest products for non-dairy frozen treat lovers like me. Check it out: 

Cherry, Banana, & Mango with a Ginger Cookie
I often make dairy-free ice "cream" in my classes and as dessert for friends who can't believe how great it tastes. Up until recently, I had been making the soft serve yummy in everything from a food processor to a blender to a masticating juicer until someone in a class told me about the Yonanas machine made by DOLE. Using simply frozen fruit, sometimes mixed with cinnamon, cocoa and dried fruits or nuts you can make this delicious treat at home and eat it for breakfast, even!
The Yonanas arrives by surprise!

This machine is very simple, easy to clean and only costs about $50 compared to my juicer which was $300 and my Vitamix (you know they are expensive)!

You just put the frozen fruit through the chute and out comes your guilt-free frozen treat. It is best to allow the frozen fruit to thaw a tiny bit before placing through the hopper. Eat "as-is" for the healthiest option, or top with your favorite combinations of delights. Swirl flavors together or scoop separately. One 1/2 cup serving has only 100 fat-free calories as opposed to dairy ice cream which has twice as much but with the worry of saturated fat and cholesterol. With the added benefit of potassium, B vitamins, soluble fiber, and a host of other vitamins and antioxidants depending on fruit used, you will be doing yourself a dairy-free favor!

NOTE: If you are concerned about blood sugar levels, use fruits other than pineapple. Most fruits have a lower glycemic index than you might think, with the exception of pineapple, certain melons and dried fruits. Be careful to limit additions such as coconut and tree nuts as they will drive up calories and fat intake.

You can find out how to purchase a YONANAS here . You can also make ice cream-less sandwiches such as these little cuties, check it out here.

Black Bean Brownie Bites

I have been thinking about the brownies from HH and Dr. Fuhrman and hoping to improve upon them for months now. Finally I had a try at my own version of the ever popular Black Bean Brownie. Using dates rather than agave or sugar and your choice of gluten-free flour rather than oats, you can make these superfood delights. Even omit the flour altogether and add more beans, stewed prunes (not dried) or a mashed banana to create a more moist, chewy treat. Try adding some goji berries or cacao nibs just for fun and added super benefits.

Black Bean Brownie Bites

makes 2 dozen brownie bites
oven 200 degrees
1 15 oz. can low sodium Black Beans or 1 3/4 cups
8 - 10 Medjool Dates (depending on size), pitted
1/2 c. RAW Cacao or non-alkalized cocoa
2 T. RAW Almond Butter
1/4 c. Gluten-free flour such as Almond Flour OR mashed banana OR 1/4 c. more beans 
1 T. Vanilla Extract
* if more liquid is needed, and I certainly did, try a splash of leftover morning coffee or chai tea, up to 1/8 c.
2 mini muffin tins or equal for 24 minis

  1. Preheat the oven and lightly oil or spray the muffin tins.
  2. Rinse and drain black beans and place in high-powered blender or food processor. Pulse to puree.
  3. Add dates, sliced with scissors into the machine and pulse again.
  4. Add Almond Butter, Cacao, Vanilla, and your choice of more beans, banana, prunes or gluten-free flour. If you use the gluten-free flour, you will need to add a bit of liquid as these flours tend to be thirsty. The fruit or bean addition will produce enough liquid on their own for a moist, chewy brownie. Blend or process until well mixed.
  5. Using a small scoop such as the one pictured OR a tablespoon, fill each mini-muffin cup and flatten brownie mixture to be level with top of cup.
  6. Bake for 1 hour, or a bit less if you use the black bean/flour mixture.
We enjoyed ours for dessert with frozen banana-cherry soft serve after that delish pasta dish! The photo does not do these little love buckets justice but boy were they Y-U-M! Even better in the morning with your regular cup of joe! Knowing they are primarily made from beans you can eat more than one feeling no guilt what so ever! 


Water, Food Security & Cutting Meat Consumption

August 26 - 31 is World Water Week and the focus of this year's conference held in Stockholm, Sweden is Water and Food Security

 My niece Andrea, sister to guest blogger Brianna, is a busy scientist at the Institute of Marine & Coastal Sciences in Sandy Hook, NJ. Earlier in her career, Andrea did a stint in Americorps NJ's Watershed Ambassador Program where she shared information about our valuable FINITE resource; WATER. Andrea has much to say about our the fresh water supply and what might happen in the future if we do not take heed.  One of the important shifts which Andrea learned would help conserve our drinking & irrigation water supplies is adopting a plant-based diet.

Originally I had hoped Andrea would write a guest post for this blog about water and switching to a plant-based diet but her current busy schedule as Communications Coordinator at IMCS will not allow her time to be a guest blogger so I took the chance and decided to write this H2O post myself. I've included an article which I stumbled upon yesterday. It just seems the timing is right for this post NOW due to the fact that we are in the midst of World Water Week and also will soon be experiencing an increase in food prices due to the drought in our Nation's Bread Basket. Roughly 80% of the corn and soybean crops affected by the drought are grown for animal feed. Did you realize it takes 1500 liters of water to grow one kilo of wheat but it takes 15000 liters of water to grow one kilo of Beef!

posters from the lab where Ehren & Andrea work
Andrea & Ehren at work

Andrea's partner, Ehren, works at the lab in the Fisheries area, mapping and studying key species including Summer and Winter Flounder or Fluke. Shifting to a plant-based diet would also have a positive impact on our fisheries as many populations continue to crash due to over fishing (because of increased demand) and changes in habitat and climate change issues. 

Mapping changes in Sea level
Below is the article which prompted this post. Note the links to articles which contain even more compelling reasons to cut animal consumption:

STOCKHOLM—The Stockholm International Water Institute released a new report that revealed there will not be enough water available on current croplands to produce food for the expected population in 2050 if we follow current trends and changes toward diets common in Western nations. Currently, humans consume about 20% of their protein from animal-based foods; however, the report predicts animal-based proteins will need to be slashed to 5% in order to feed a growing population.
Authored by a dozen experts from SIWI, the Food and Agriculture Organizations of the United Nations (FAO) and the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), the report provides new evidence that shows how continuing current trends in food production could lead to increased shortages and intense competition for scarce water resources in many regions across the world.
The report notes that 900 million people are hungry and 2 billion more people are undernourished in spite of the fact that per capita production continues to increase. With 70% of all water withdrawals used in agriculture, growing more food to feed an additional 2 billion people by 2050 will place greater pressure on available water and land.
"Feeding everyone well is a primary challenge for this century. Overeating, undernourishment and waste are all on the rise and increased food production may face future constraints from water scarcity," said report editor Dr. Anders Jägerskog. "We will need a new recipe to feed the world in the future."
The authors spotlight a number of essential and largely overlooked challenges where dedicated action can help ensure food security to a growing global population with available water resources. These include improvements in on-farm water efficiency, reductions in losses and waste in the food supply chain, enhanced response networks to early warning systems for agricultural emergencies, and increased investment to close the gender gap in agricultural production.
Earlier this year, a study from the Woods Hold Research Center suggested cutting meat consumption by 50% per person by 2050 will stabilize the amount of nitrous oxide (N2O) in the atmosphere.


Zucchini Cakes

Zucchini Cakes with Lemon-Garlic Aioli

These zucchini cakes are savory and delicious. They make a decent crab-cake substitute, if you want to call them that. "Better", even, according to Jim Fisher who hosts the monthly show Common Health the 3rd Wednesday  of each month on our community radio station 89.9 WERU. Here's what Jim had to say about the zucchini cakes I brought along to the station when I appeared as his guest on the show this morning:
"I ate the zucchini cakes on the drive back to my office.  I thought they were better than crab cakes."

If you would like to listen to an archive of the show Common Health, click here.

It is the height of squash season here and as always, I installed far too many zucchini and yellow squash plants in the garden. I'm forever trying to find tasty ways to use up the surplus. I have steamed and frozen many for use in soups and stews later this year but I have been thinking about the zucchini cakes I used to make with Halloumi cheese and sort of missing them. I haven't eaten cheese or used it in cooking for years so what could I do? I grated some zucchini, and while it dried  in a tea towel and looked through some cookbooks for ideas.
Honking Big Zucchinis Every Day!

Multiple Squash on Multiple Vines!

I found 2 recipes for vegan zucchini cakes which looked like good possibilities. One had a bit too much oil and vegan butter substitute for my liking so I made up a combo of the 2 recipes and added my own spin on the thing. My sister D came for dinner last night and although she did not like the idea of calling these a "crab-less cake" or "vegan Crab-like Cake" she did enjoy these little beauties and even commented "they do taste a bit like, and have the texture of crab cakes", HA!
We had ours on a bed of arugula and today I had the leftovers with a salad. I whipped up a yummy lemon-y, garlick-y Aioli sauce using dijon mustard, a little reduced fat Veganaise, fresh squeezed lemon, garlic & dill.

Zucchini Crab-like Cakes

Note: these can be gluten free!
1 Honking Big Zucchini, grated (about 3 cups)
1 1/2 cups bread or cracker crumbs (I used GF Bread Crumbs)
2 tsp. canola oil
1/2 cup very thin-sliced Red Onion - chopped
2 Tbsp Ground Flax Meal
2 tsp. Low-Sodium Old Bay Seasoning
1 - 2 tsp. Dill Weed (I used dried)
Kelp or Dulse Seasoning to taste (I used Maine Coast)
Fresh Ground Pepper
Additional Bread Crumbs or Flour ( I used fine-texture Brown Rice Bread Crumbs and Garbanzo Bean Flour)
Pan Spray

1. Place the grated zucchini on a large tea towel and rolled it, squeezed it to dry it a quite a bit
2. Mix the zucchini with bread crumbs, oil, onion, flax, Old Bay, dill, and season with Kelp and Pepper.
3. Mix thoroughly, I used my hands for this.
4. Form equal amounts into patties and dredge in bread crumbs or flour to coat.
5.Cook in a non-stick skillet using pan-spray to add browning and prevent sticking. If you have a great non-stick pan which you need use no oil, good for you!
 Here is something else you can do when you have too much Zucchini and Yellow Squash in your garden: Vegetable Noodles! For recipe, go here

Zucchini and Yellow Squash Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes, Pine Nuts and Balsamic Reduction, ALMOST RAW!

Guest Blogger Brianna Spahn: Dietary Exploits Abroad

Eating clean & synthesizing some Vitamin D on a beach in Palma de Mallorca

I always thought I had a healthy relationship with food – mainly because I always had a big appetite, and satisfied it well, but managed to stay slim without exercising much (or at all). So when I was younger I had little motivation to commit to a healthy plant-based diet. I love(d) pizza. And meaty sandwiches. And tater chips. And chocolate ice cream. I ate a lot of it.  Especially in college. I didn’t really gain weight (though surely I’ve had my thicker moments) but some other health issues arose; most obviously with my skin. It wasn’t until my last year of college (2010) that I started making causal connections to my diet. After much research and advice from two Naturopathic Drs and the very wise women in my family, I still don’t freaking know what the exact problem is (a combination of many problems, or many manifestations of one problem, who knows...) but I do know that when I eat a low-carb, plant-based diet and exercise regularly, things improve dramatically.  
For over a year now I’ve been struggling to fully commit to the diet. I basically eat like a vegan,  no dairy or meat, but a few days a week I have either fish or eggs with one meal. I also cut out all fried/processed foods , caffeine, and all sugar and things that turn to sugar in your body (processed flour products, white rice, white potatoes, tropical fruits, most breads, and most alcohol).  Last summer I had been goin’ strong for two or three months, with great results, when in September I moved to Prague to teach English and find myself or whatever.  The health and diet situation spiraled pretty quickly there. I get stressed about making new friends, I eat when I’m stressed, and eating and drinking are pretty standard social activities, so every day I was fighting with myself about things like whether I should have a beer, which is a big no-no for my diet but is a big part of Czech culture, far less expensive than other drinks, and particularly delicious here; or whether or not I should go out to dinner with new friends because they’re getting Italian and I don’t feel like explaining why I don’t eat pasta or cheese or meat or bread or drink beer or blah blah blah… Maybe it’s silly and I need to grow up and get over it but I really don’t like having to explain my diet to people I don’t know well. So I stressed myself out. I was always fluctuating between a week or two of commitment and then a few days, even a week, of gluttonous (and glutinous!) over-indulgence; hurting my body and morale.  But really, healthy food is available and inexpensive in Prague, so I had no excuse other than peer pressure and lack of willpower. There are a number of “bio” stores with all the standard health food store supplies, and the Vietnamese “potravinys” (grocery stores) on every block have a nice selection of fresh produce and bulk nuts.  In the fall, spring, and summer there are farmers markets in nearly every neighborhood. I had a fantastic market a block from my apartment three days a week.
Bread was/is my biggest rival because I love it so much. The mornings are hardest. I’m usually pretty hungry and in a rush and, sadly, my neighborhood smells beautifully of fresh bread, hot sausages, and coffee in the morning. Czechs are really into their bread. It’s honestly their favorite food and a big part of their culture. It’s even the focus of their traditional greeting ceremony, Chléb a sůl (bread and salt: a pretty woman wearing a traditional dress presents the honored guest with a piece of brown bread smeared with pork fat and sprinkled with salt). There are Pekarnas (bakeries) at every corner and they all offer fresh bread with a variety of shapes and textures. Every morning was a battle of wills.
Sour Dough Cakes??

The naturopath I saw here in Prague told me that it’d be okay to eat wholemeal sourdough breads, especially if they are made with spelt flour, because it has less gluten, a lower glycemic index, and true sourdough is a nice source of probiotics. Of course most store-bought sourdough doesn’t cut it, so she suggested I start making my own. Thus began my four-month kitchen experiment with sourdough starters. Specific recipes for it vary, but basically to make a starter you put about 5 tablespoons of flour (rye works best, but you can also use spelt or any other) and equal parts warm water in a jar, so that it has the consistency of pancake batter. Stir well, cover the top, and set it in a warm place. Every 12 hours “feed’ the starter with 5 tblspoons flour and warm water, and stir occasionally throughout the day. By the third or fourth day it should begin to activate, forming bubbles and smelling like vinegar. This is a great video all about sourdough starters: Because the content nearly doubles in size every day, but isn’t ready for bread until it has fermented for at least a week, you have to empty some of the starter every morning. Rather than throw it away, I like to use it to make sourdough spelt pancakes with ground flax and cinnamon, served with sweet tahini (sesame paste, water, and a bit of organic fruit preserves).  Take a cup of starter, add half a cup of spelt flour and half cup of water, some baking powder, and stir – I like it to have a thick consistency, but add more or less flour for whatever you prefer.  They’re really delicious and my friends, who are not into healthy foods, love them. 
But of course whenever I made sourdough bread, it was so delicious I would eat way too much of it and it turned into a bad thing. So for breakfast I’ll usually have tea and oatmeal or quinoa with ground flax, cinnamon, sea salt, some kind of nut or seed, and strawberries or an apple. Blueberries and raspberries are pretty expensive here. If I’m running late, I’ll get my favorite on-the-go “meal” from my corner Potraviny – a fat granny smith apple and a hefty portion of raw cashews.
This is also sometimes my on-the-go lunch. If I am home for lunch, I’ll usually have leftovers from dinner or one of my favorite snacks: tahini with veggie sticks. When it’s replacing a meal I have a big portion. I get raw sesame paste, then add fresh garlic, lemon, and a little salt and water and stir until it gets to be creamy and white. I put tahini on anything and everything – especially sliced apples or carrot and cucumber sticks. When I cook with it and use it as a sauce base, I just add a little more water.  It’s great for spicin’ up my other favorite snack: raw slaw. About once a week I’ll make a big batch of coleslaw with raw shredded cabbage and carrots (and sometimes even beets!), finely chopped raw onions and garlic, and either chopped radish or cucumber. I add my thin tahini sauce, some apple cider vinegar, some olive oil, salt n pepper of course, and caraway seeds.  I’ll snack on it all week and use it as a salad base for bigger meals.
For dinner I usually choose a main vegetable character and build the meal around that with supporting vegetable roles.  Onions and garlic appear in the background of every episode.  The stars include broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, sweet potato, mushrooms, and sometimes squash if the price is right.  I’ll either steam or roast them, with of course onions and garlic, and choose one of my stock flavorings: tamari and fresh ginger, lemon and olive oil, or curry and tahini. Mustard is sometimes mixed into any of those. I often serve it all over greens or some raw veggies, and sometimes throw in rice, beans, lentils, or eggs depending on what else I’ve eaten and how much time and resolve I have to cook that day. I generally just rotate different combinations of these foods and when I’m feeling spicy I’ll add something into the mix, like hot peppers or fresh fennel. 
Nonetheless, I still struggled to keep myself from cheating, or as I liked to call it “treating myself” with an ice cream or some crap like that. So as summer approached I felt the need to retreat from the temptations of city life and insert myself into the kind of lifestyle I know I need to be healthy: one with plenty of physical activity and with people who have similar dietary beliefs and practices.  I decided to “woof” ( ) and live/work on organic farms for the summer. After much research on the database, I settled on two farms; one in southern CZ and one in southern Germany, each for about a month.

The Czech farm, in a tiny Moravian village called Prostřední Poříčí (pronounced something like proshtrjjzehdnee porjjzzeetsee), was owned and run by a tough, quirky 75 year old spinster named Lida. She never married in the name of freedom and feminism, used to work as a civil engineer, and moved out to Moravia in the 80s for a lifestyle change after surviving a heart attack.  Since then she’s been teaching English to the locals and striving to maintain a yeoman ideal by growing Hokkaido squash for sale and a variety of other vegetables for living. She also has a small orchard of plum trees from which she makes the traditional Czech liquor, Slivovitz. She started every morning with a shot of it “for health.”  Her garden also had raspberries and gooseberries (a Czech favorite), and behind the farm was a forest carpeted with wild blueberries, strawberries, edible mushrooms, walnuts, and a few cherry trees.  Once or twice a week we would go for a hike and gather delicious forest goods.  For any other necessities we traveled to the nearest city, Brno, every Wednesday.
Foraging for wild foods

I warned Lida about my diet in my first email to her, and she responded that she is a gluten-free vegetarian so it would be no problem to accommodate me. We made our own breakfasts, so I always made my standard hot quinoa cereal (I brought my own quinoa and flax seeds but she provided the walnuts cinnamon and berries). We worked in the field from 8am-1pm, and then Lida made lunch. Unfortunately lunch was usually pretty starchy – always potatoes or potato dumplings, with Czech-style cabbage and onions, vegetable soup, veggie omelets, or fried parsnips. All fine but for the potatoes…Lida refused to believe that white potatoes could be bad for you, and by lunch I was pretty ravenous so I’d gobble up whatever she made without complaint. After lunch we were free until 6, time mostly spent snoozing, thanks to the soporific effects of hard labor and a heavy meal. This turned out to be a bad combination for my body and I started stressing out. After the siesta I would make dinner, and after dinner we worked for another hour or two in the field. I always tried to make something as full of veggie goodness as possible, which Lida enjoyed, but she also complained that I went through too many vegetables a week and that it was becoming too expensive for her. Oy. An awkward situation. Over the weeks, only three other woofers briefly came and went, so by the end of the month Lida and I were getting on each other’s nerves and I was ready to move on to the next farm.

The German “farm” was called Haselbacher Mühle near a village called Triftern, owned by a German woman named Rita and her English husband Ken, both somewhere in their mid 60s I think.  I say “farm” because it’s really just the property of a very old farm which now has gardens and some remnants of an orchard.  And about twenty peacocks. We lived in the 400+ year-old house, used the bathroom in the old vine-covered mill which Rita converted into her studio, picked cherries in the cherry/apple/pear orchard, gathered wild raspberries and gooseberries that grew by the stream, scrounged for garden tools and seeds to sow in one of the three barns, and spent the afternoons maintaining the rose and vegetable gardens. She grew a standard kitchen garden that also had large turfs of mint, a sort of wild spinach called “Magenta Spreen”, and sweet potatoes.  Rita is a fascinating woman. She’s a working and well-known artist: a silver and goldsmith and architectural sculptor. Her pieces grace the entire property.  
Gooseberries (I think)

For breakfast, Rita usually made us a nice porridge from ground millet with fresh homemade soy milk (she had a gadget for making it), flax and pumpkin seeds, and cherries from the orchard. I usually made my own lunch and for that I enjoyed a soft boiled egg or two with a pile of greens from the garden. Dinner often involved white potatoes (ugh) and we drank local flower teas with all three meals. But only four days after I arrived, Rita and Ken went on a little trip to England and left me to take care of the gardens and peacocks on my own for the remainder of my stay.  It was pretty fun at first…a little creepy being there alone, but also very revealing. Left to my own devices, my self-discipline tends to go out the window. Had a few carb binges. Something I need to work on. 

Despite occasional visits from Rita’s lovely daughter Athena, after five days I was feeling a little isolated (also the weather was dreadful)so I cut my stay short, found a cheap flight to Palma de Mallorca and left to find some sun and salt.

There I was low on cash and wanting to “cleanse” so I found a cheap hostel with a kitchen, and for those five days I ate only cucumbers and fruit (watermelon, apples, avocado, apricots, and local orange plums) throughout the morning and afternoon (while sunbathing and swimming, mmm!), then I would have a big bowl of simple raw or steamed veggies with garlic lemon and salt for dinner. I was surprisingly satisfied, not tempted to cheat and get a gelato, and by the end of the five days I was feeling and looking much better than I had all summer.  And feeling relieved that I didn’t have to return to Prague without having made some tangible progress. Something I learned in Palma was that it’s much easier for me to stick to the diet if I have fruit or nuts to nibble on throughout the day.
Now I am back in Prague for a few weeks of closure before returning to the States. I haven’t quite made the miraculous physical and psycho/spiritual transformation I was hoping for this summer, but I’ve definitely made some progress. I’ve at least accepted this as a life-long project, so I’ve learned it’s best not to beat myself up too much for moments of transgression.
Brianna performing in Marat/Sade in Prague

Dr. Mark Hyman has some good ideas...

I stumbled upon this as I was looking for a link to Dr. Fuhrman's appearance on the LIVE with Kelly! show. What do you think of Mark Hyman's strategy? Not too bad except for the little bit of excess FAT and ANIMAL product he promotes but this seems to be a real trend. Do more recent studies show this type of eating really promotes and sustains HEALTH as well as WEIGHT-LOSS? I get scared every time I see coconut oil going into breakfast, lunch and dinner but he definitely avoids (most) dairy, pushes all things VEG and says no to many meat products, processed foods and sugar! Its worth watching, especially if you are one of the many who just cannot be sustained on a low-fat vegan diet. (Most of us have no problem). Follow his advice to eat massive amounts of crunchy veggies and add in the other suggestions in limited quantities and see how it works for you!


I'll try to post Dr. Fuhrman's (YAY) segment later today or tomorrow, depending on when they post it.
Is posting a video segment such as this helpful?