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Sunday, August 28, 2011

CSAs, Beets and their Greens, Last Week for my Skin Care Goodies Give-Away

Summer.  Beautiful, hot, sweaty summer.  Isn't it great how each season has the things you love and also the things you could do without?  Balance, yin and yang. 

I love the sound of the cicadas & crickets, the twinkling of the lightening bugs, the longer rays that dance from the sun across the horizon, and the feeling that time could (or should) s-l-o-w down, just a bit, if we let it.

Of course I could do without the energy-sapping humidity (although this year has not been bad at all), the severe thunderstorms with frightening hail and potential for tornadoes (and now, this week, a massive hurricane barreling up the east coast), and the feeling that time is going by too quickly.

If there is a season for vegans, certainly it is summer.  Farm markets and neighbors begging for people to take their excess zuccini and cucumber harvest, tomatoes of every color and my new favorite thing:  my CSA!

CSA, Community Supported Agriculture, is a program wherein you purchase a 'share' of a farmer's or farm coop's production.  The programs vary depending on the farm offering it, but generally the cost seems to range from around $25 - $50/week.  I go to pick up my share weekly and my bundle of goodies usually includes around 7 or so veggies and some fruit.  I'm very fortunate to have a CSA which includes fruit in their program; they also include an herb for us....very cool.  Our program spans 24-25 weeks. 


Part of my weekly CSA pack a couple of weeks ago - a lovely English cuke and some squash ---and the best peaches ever, nestled in the bottom

Kale and beets???  Life is good.

I can make a lot of good points for the case of joining a CSA.  (Check www.localharvest.org/csa and http://www.slowfoodusa.org/ to find one in your area).  There are counter-points as well; if I really tried, I could probably get the AMOUNT of food I am buying for less, and it does require a substantial financial commitment, but many CSAs have payment programs, but I am looking at several bigger pictures here.  The first is the feeling that I am part of something good; something sustainable, something ground-breaking here in relatively conservative Ohio.  I love that I am getting fresh, organic and locally grown food and the knowledge that I am contributing to an effort to shift our thinking about food, to move us into a pro-active point of view and stop viewing food as some sort of entertainment-- to get to a point of understanding that nutrient content and quality count, in a major way.  My CSA is run by someone who understands that we are killing ourselves with food, and she works hard and diligently to offer variety and to include heirloom species that I would likely never come across otherwise.  The zone of foods & herbs that I am exposed to is forced outward and, as a vegan, I really need to know these other foods and expand my culinary comfort zone!


Here is Jamie...my CSA hero.  Kind, knowledgeable and a true pioneer




with the most beautiful blue eyes.....



Farm market and the retail space of our CSA


Jamie explaining each and every item in our share

For more information on our CSA, check their website here:  http://waywardseed.com/


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Beets and Beet Greens

Speaking of variety...I had my very first sweet potato last year, and now wonder how in the heck I've lived all these years without them!  I adore them.  So, it was with that in mind that I jumped into the world of beets not long ago. 

Fast-forward a few months and I now understand the intrinsic beauty of the beet.  What I hadn't understood was the yummy prize that lies ABOVE the ground....the greens.  Jamie, of our CSA, pushes greens.....I love that she does that and we discussed just recently the amount of food that just shamefully goes to waste in this country.  I jumped in with a spirit of enthusiastic hope-for-it-not-to-taste-like-boiled-shoelaces-optimism and coarsely chopped my beet greens to add to a quick stir fry.

I was so pleasantly surprised and I now LOVE beet greens, shown here with peppers, onions and squash. 

It was with this same enthusiasm that I decided to try the darker, reddish shoots that develop on maturing sweet potato plants (I had no clue we could eat the leaves...there is so much bounty surrounding us --- I am pledging to devote more time into discovery on this topic).

Sweet potato shoots, fresh from my garden




I paired them, lightly sauteed in water, with Rip Esselstyn's Mac Not Cheese

The shoots were earthy and tender, really quite good.  I enjoyed the stems as well.  I definitely will be eating them again.

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This will be the last week to enter my Give-Away as a celebration of my one-year vegan anniversary.  I'm giving away a package of goodies from Crafty By Nature, including lip-balm (Karen was inspired to whip up a vegan version just for us!!!), mineral bath salt, apricot body scrub, and body lotion (love this stuff!).  To enter, just leave a comment for me telling me your favorite vegetable.  A winner will be picked at random at the end of the week.

The lip balm Karen created for us.  Vegan Vanilla! www.craftybynaturestudio.com

Enjoy the rest of the summer.  Despite the arrival of Xmas displays in the retail outlets and the pressure to move us along at the speed of light through our lives, we actually have a full 4 weeks left until the Autumnal Equinox....plenty of summer left.


Me at the Farm Market, nearly at my goal weight, 13+ months into vegan eating
Sue in Ohio, loving my summer

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Esselstyn, Campbell, Esselstyn, Greenlaw & Esselstyn, oh my

I've been so busy with the horses this summer, I've neglected my blog and have much to catch up on.

Here is the continuation of my notes from the 'Healthy Living Workshop' I attended in southern Ohio this past May.

T. Colin Campbell

Each speaker was only given about an hour and Campbell wasted no time in jumping right in to all the ground he wanted to cover.

He pointed out something very interesting about the studies that are often quoted and suppositions deduced from; he said that most, in fact virtually ALL, studies are done on populations who consume the western diet.  Whole-food, plant-based diets are not included.  So conclusions are based on changes made in the people already eating an unhealthy diet.  Interesting.

He spoke about the 'affluent' diseases and how they correlate with each other.  Lung cancer, colon cancer, breast cancer tend to group together and also correlate with elevated blood cholesterol.

In the USA, the typical range of cholesterol is 170-270.  In China, the range is 90-170, or so with an average of around 120.  In many other countries, the average is even less than 88!  And, in rural China, heart disease is nearly non-existent.

There is a direct correlation between the consumption of animal protein and the rise in cholesterol, and a direct causal relationship between the consumption of plant protein and the lowering of cholesterol.

Dr. Campbell shared an interesting tid-bit about the title of The China Study.  This is a book that I revere and is the one that set me so solidly on the whole food, plant-based diet.  Well, it turns out he didn't want that title at all.  He wanted any number of other titles and had as one choice, "Food Sense and Nonsense"......I really like that one myself.  But publishers dictated and we have his phenomal work today as The China Study.

He went back to the subject of diseases and said that they do tend to cluster....cancer, heart disease, diabetes and so on, but that there probably is only one disease....that it is all the same. 

He spoke of the exposure that western women get to estrogen over the course of a lifetime.  Western girls start menstruation much earlier than in other parts of the world where the age span is 15 - 19  years, with an average of age 17.  These populations also show menopause coming earlier at around age 48, so western women get it at both ends.  Dr. Campbell says that milk and dairy are big factors.  Rate of growth is the biggest factor for starting menstruation, and the consumption of milk causes an accelerated rate of growth. 

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Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn

Dr. Esselstyn immediately launched into his passionate belief of coronary artery disease being a disease that need not exist.  He classifies it as a food borne illness and cites the populations of Papau Guinea and Tarahumara, among others, as having virtually no such illness.

Historically, in World War 2, the axis powers took over rural farming communities and took all the animals.  In Norway, in 1940, there was a huge drop in heart disease and stroke which was directly related to the reduction of the consumption of animal products.  The previous levels of the disease returned when animals were once again available.

Endothelial cells, the one-cell width lining in our blood vessels are the "life jacket" or guardian of the blood vessel.  Nitric oxide is produced by the endothelial cells which helps to keep the vessels pliant.  Dr. Esselstyn talked about the risks of juvenile plaques that can form and then the body's defenses scramble to repair creating a plaque which can then rupture, block an artery and have catastrophic results.  Dr. E maintains that one cannot rupture a plaque if on a plant-based diet. 

Other highlights from Esselstyn:

If one is consuming animals or their products, one is damaging HDL. 
45% of  Medicare goes to 'treat' heart disease
Heart disease is not being treated today.  Stents and surgeries do not cure the disease.

Avoid:  oil, fish, fowl, meat, dairy.
Consume nothing with a mother or a face.

Also, no caffeine.
Eat greens all day if you have heart disease and NO OIL! 

In 3 weeks, you can be heart attack proof!

....to be continued.....

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Happy Anniversary, Give-Away and "Alien-Veggie"

Happy Anniversary to me.  It's hard for me to recall when I've been so happy about acknowledging a time-defined milestone.  This past month was my one-year anniversary of going vegan, and adopting a whole-food plant-based dietary commitment.

My achievements have definitely paralleled the amount of energy, time and resources I have put into this year.  Just in statistics alone, I have lost 36 pounds (total weight loss is a bit over 50 pounds but that includes the 14 I lost in the 6 months prior to adopting this food program), down nearly 3 pants sizes.  I will have new blood-work numbers to include soon also and I am anxious to see those, but for sure I know my blood pressure is consistently lower hovering around 107/77.

Best of all is the amount of energy I have, less sleep required and a massive improvement in my general sense of well-being.

There is a bit more to it than just the numbers and even the increased energy though....it's the sense that I am no longer as much of a drain on this poor abused and over-taxed planet- a sense that there isn't as much damage being done by the fact of my existence (I do know that there is still damage though).  Best of all, I am happy that no animal (directly) has to die so that I can live.  That is something that never did sit well with me.

I look around at my sphere of influence and see others that have now adopted this way of eating, either totally or in some proportion.  Recently, my son has been eating more and more whole foods and this gives me endless joy.  As the father of my grand-daughter,  he has the power to directly influence the next generation.  He's already experienced noticeable health benefits and I am so proud of the choices he is making.

Yesterday while picking up my CSA pack at the farm market, a friend's husband said to me that he wanted to try this way of eating.  I thought, wow....this is just beyond cool to have a little bit of effect on getting someone to even THINK about adopting a healthier lifestyle.

It is so easy to be cynical in this world that is filled with so much despair and wrong-doing, and it is easy to feel that we simply cannot make a difference; that the job is too big, that we may as well try to move Mt. Everest with a teaspoon.  But I see the changes coming; I see awareness increasing; I see many of us, exerting a teeny bit of influence, and I see that effort sending out the proverbial ripple in the pond...and I see apathy falling away.  If ten million people all grabbed teaspoons, well, Mt. Everest would still be a job....but we'd be in it together, and some of that mountain WOULD get moved.  Are you in?
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Alien Veggie.  That's what I'm calling it. 

Seriously, don't they look positively alien?  It's actually kohlrabi, and came in my CSA pack a couple of weeks ago.  I thought....oh no, I've managed to avoid aliens for all these years (although there was that one guy in my chem lab in college....) only to have to face them now.  I bravely grabbed knife and cutting board and whipped out the old "Joy of Cooking" to figure out what to do with these babies.  (Joy had nothing for me...).

Kohlrabi is a brassica, of the same family that kale, mighty kale and cabbages are.  In fact it is cultivated from wild cabbage.  My husband's cousin is married to the most wonderful German woman, (Hi J if you are reading!) and her vegetarian son, also fluent in German and also wonderful (Hi E!), told me that kohlrabi means turnip in German.  It's high in several minerals and vitamins and can be eaten raw or cooked....I like my aliens cooked, so went for a light water saute.  In case it was an utter flop, I did some baked zuccini slices and sweet potatoes for back up.
 
Then, I pulled out my secret weapon....Viv, the magnificient, and Lindsay Nixon's (The Happy Herbivore) never fail, Queso.  This stuff could make rusted metal taste good. 



You can find Lindsay's recipe for Queso, which she generously supplied to me, here.  http://sunnyhawklane.blogspot.com/2011/03/chunks-of-change-kale-chips-and.html    {I got to thinking about this later and I think this is actually Averie's sauce that she uses for kale chips and I just heated it on the stove to use as a sauce---this will teach me to fall behind on my blog....maybe.  Anyway here is that recipe: http://www.loveveggiesandyoga.com/2010/04/raw-vegan-kale-chips-making-our-own.html , and this works wonderfully in many applications e.g. as a dip for veggies, from this planet or elsewhere.)

Aliens a la queso.  Let me just say, they were good!  Not super flavorful, but definitely a specific taste.  Think mild radish meets cucumber meets red potato....something like that.  Even my husband ate them.  I am now a kohlrabi fan, even though I still think they are from another planet.
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Give-away.  Ok, in celebration of my one-year plant-based diet, I am giving away a gift basket, lovingly prepared by Karen of Crafty By Nature. http://www.craftybynaturestudio.com/  Included will be her vegan hand lotion, apricot skin scrub, and a few other items...I'll try to put a picture on here later if possible of what all will be in it.  We are trying to keep it all vegan and a few of her items do contain beeswax.

To enter, just leave a comment of what your favorite vegetable is.  That's all you need to do.  Winner will be chosen at random in a week or so. 

I know I don't have many 'followers' listed on here, but I check my stats a couple of times a week and am endlessly astonished, humbled and tickled to see people from so many countries that visit my blog.  I'd love to hear from you from time to time although I know everyone is busy.  Thanks for reading though!

And on your next visit to the store....pick up an alien or two....

Sue in Ohio....still celebrating my first year plant-strong!