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Monday, March 19, 2012

Mini-Minimalist and Heart Healthy Pizza Cookbook Giveaway & Interview with author Mark Sutton

I've been (once again) looking for the 'next level' of improvement as I endeavor to grow in all areas of my life.  It's funny how the Universe just always naturally hands me the 'next level' usually in a very overt communique.

I've been down-sizing and de-cluttering and reorganizing probably as most people do, as a result of changes in their lives, kids growing up, hobbies that fall by the wayside and so on.  But since the death of my mother several years ago, and my resultant inheritance of a lot of her things and all of the things she kept from her parents, it's been a real challenge getting through some of the 'stuff'.

Two years ago, the Universe bestowed upon me 'the great flood'.  Seven inches of water in a basement will get you motivated like nobody's business....especially when it's August....in Ohio....and mildew is right around the corner.  We filled a 30-yard dumpster and it was great (although sad and a waste in many cases) to clear out belongings.  (Note:  cardboard boxes do not provide good storage).

Despite that massive purge, I still have a lot of areas where I am over-consuming, over-storing, and just plain, well, hoarding.

Recently I began to feel the 'weight' of these areas of unhandled items when searching for a belonging----have you ever just gotten that sick, over-whelmed feeling when going through stored items and found yourself completely stopped by it all?  That is how I felt and what started out as mere discomfort, soon escalated to near hysteria.....why do we need all this stuff!?!?!?  The answer of course is:  we don't.

So I've been selling on e-bay and the new nearby Goodwill store has had its share of donations from me....still there is so much more I need to deal with.

I recently turned a corner, of sorts, when I made the decision to part with a few of my grandfather's things.  These are war mementos and I realized that they do not reflect the core of the person he was.  (I'm keeping things that do, like his medals, a precious journal he kept and so on, but I don't need a German helmet from the battlefield no doubt in his possession at the result of someone else's loss of life).

My grandfather was easily the most important person in my life and losing him when I was 17 was one of the most difficult things to cope with in my entire life.  Beginning to understand that "things" aren't the people we love and that letting the things go does not mean we are letting the person go from our hearts, feels like a giant leap for me.

In clearing things away, I am finding a true appreciation for space....open space in my living area, space in my day, space in my life.  While I am certainly far from a 'minimalist', I am making steps in that direction and it feels liberating.  I think I may qualify for 'mini-minimalist' status!

For more on minimalism, check out these two guys.  They have been a major source of inspiration for me.
http://www.theminimalists.com/
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Interview and Cookbook Giveaway

It has been great fun to be in contact with Mark Sutton, author of Heart Healthy Pizza, who has generously offered a copy of his book to be given away on my blog, and graciously answered some questions from me.  I recently learned that mine is his first interview on this book!  I'm thrilled and was even more thrilled when I had a chance to try out one of his recipes.  I made his Chickpeas, Oats and Pimentos topping.  I was very pleased with the results, and it definitely exceeded my expectations.  I will be making this recipe again and again, I am sure.

You can order copies of Mark's book here:
http://www.hearthealthypizza.com/


I didn't use a standard pizza crust, nor did I do extra toppings, instead I used a pita bread for the 'crust', topped that with a tomato-based pasta sauce and then added Mark's topping on that.  It was simple and this is a perfect lunch-sized portion.  I'll be trying the recipe again in various configurations and with additional veggies as toppings.  It was really very good.

Chickpeas, Oats and Pimentos Topping
from Heart Healthy Pizza, M. Sutton


Here is my interview with Mark.  Recipe for the topping and entry instructions follow it.
 
Congratulations, Mark, on the publishing of your new book, Heart Healthy Pizza.  I know you have been hard at work on this project for quite awhile.  Thank you for giving me the opportunity to ask you a few questions about it.

1.        I know Dr. Esselstyn has been quite an inspiration for you, as he is for me; when did you first get the idea for concentrating on such a specific food item and moving forth with a cookbook?

Some six or so years ago, I was trying to think of something I could do for the veg'n community.  I had heard vegetarians complain about cheese on pizza for years, and thought that a vegan pizza cookbook would help counter the prevailing myths about vegan pizza as well has help vegetarians go vegan.  I started experimenting in the kitchen and taking copious notes of my efforts.

Then, in February 2007, Howard Lyman (aka "The Mad Cowboy") asked me to interview Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn for the "Mad Cowboy Newsletter" about his new book, "Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease." The book details his 20+ years of peer-reviewed research establishing that he successfully reversed heart disease in very sick patients through a no-added oil plant-based diet.

My father had just had a heart event and I was driven to pummel Dr. Esselstyn with everything I could think of.  Essy was great and convinced me that oil is essentially a nutritionally useless substance that was integral in causing heart disease.  He told me if I avoided added oil, in 12 to 15 weeks I would lose that taste addiction.
I did.  I then realized I needed to incorporate that concept into my recipes.  The very high added oil/fat content of the new generation of faux dairy cheeses gave me extra impetus to get this book done.


2.        I see very unusual and non-traditional foods as bases for some of your sauces, e.g. chickpeas, millet, barley.  Did you just jump in and start creating outside the ‘pizza box’ so-to-speak, or did you have a specific source for your ideas that helped you create these unusual toppings/sauces?

 (chuckle)... well, to me, those are normal foods!  But I can see how to many people they aren't.  Two events were instrumental in my foundational conceptualizations of the "topping sauces."  (1) Many years earlier I experimented with the soymilk-making "SoyToy" and created a wonderful velvety millet sauce, and (2) a few years later, I made Robin Robertson's "Linguine with Sage and White Bean Sauce" (from "Vegan Planet").  It had an incredible texture and mouth feel.  The idea of using pureed beans in a sauce opened up a lot of possibilities.

Some of the ingredients I use are very calculated:  having cooked with barley a lot (soups, stews) I knew it was a natural thickener.  I'd made Indian dosas in the past using rice and dal, hence some of the rice-based recipes and the one using dal.


3.        As someone who is passionate about the plant-based, no-oil food movement, as I am, what do you see as our greatest stumbling block in getting the message out to people about food and its relation to health?

Prevailing myths about protein and "blandness" of a plant-based diet.  In regards to oil, the damn misinterpretation of the "Mediterranean Diet" research and the other myths about oil being good for you (and your heart).  Dr. Esselstyn points out frequently that the Med. Diet just slowed down progression of heart disease, but didn't prevent it.  Dr. Vogel at the University of Maryland has measured the impact of just one high fat meal (or glop of olive oil) on your circulatory system.  It causes constriction that may last for over five hours.  Over time, that constant abuse takes its toll.

The other main issue is that of "moderation."  Dr. John McDougall, Dr. T. Colin Campbill, Dr. Esselstyn, and Dr. Neal Barnard all speak out against this concept.  I forget which of them pointed out, "yeah, and where has moderation gotten us so far regarding diet?"  The answer: moderation kills.


4.        How can each of us work autonomously to help increase awareness about the health benefits of a plant-based diet?

 Well, as a "dietary activist" of sorts, I don't think in autonomous terms.  But, an individual can set a good example of health, attitude, and most importantly, knowledge of the real facts regarding food and oil.  To paraphrase the Mad Cowboy, have a 30 second answer ready to the questions of "why a plant-based diet?" and "why no added oil?"  You can build on this later if the questioner wants to continue.

I went through a period of being very angry at the fat and sugar content of many celebrated chefs recipes.  I mean, some of the recipes had a whole day's worth of fat in them (Chef "fat is flavor" Tal comes to mind here).  To call these meals "healthy" is ridiculous.  I think we need to emphasize truly healthy plant-based meals, not just subbing out the meat and still cooking with an antiquated and nutritionally myopic "use oil liberally" mindset.

I now approach the issue calmer and more politely, my angry phase being somewhat a product of my own life's circumstances at the time.  It wasn't the best way of helping educate people.


5.        What are you most proud of about your new book?  Any particular recipe that is your favorite?

Well, I'm proud it got done.  It's neat to know that I did the layout, editing, and cover.  I loved the freedom to do this book as I wanted it, having had some awful experiences with an editor helping manage the recipe section of "No More Bull!"  I also take pride in hoping and believing that this book will help a lot of people re-think pizza, eat healthier, and live and love longer.

As to favorite recipe, the cliche answer is, "I love all my children."  However, from a conceptual standpoint, the Quinoa, Sweet Potato, and Corn recipe has to be one of my favorites.  The idea of grating the sweet potato and cooking it with quinoa thrilled me.  The Oats, Pinto Beans, and Salsa topping sauce was such an outrageous idea, and I was stunned at how well it worked.  Then there's the "Wheat and Black Bean dough"  (with the beans pureed in the dough) when after a couple of tries, it worked.  That was so cool.





6. What is next on your horizon?

I hope to spend more time blogging, as well using social media to connect/interact with those who've purchased the book and those who are interested in making vegan pizza in general, and adding more to the website. I look forward to maybe some book signings and maybe give some talks. Doing some videos of me working some of the recipes and posting them is also on the agenda.


I've at least three books in my head I'd like to consider writing.  The first is another "vegan first" cookbook about which I can't reveal at this time, the second (if Heart Healthy Pizza does well) would be HHP 2.0, and the third is a book of essays on veganism, diet, and nutrition.

7.        Anything else you like to say to us?

 Just that I appreciate your efforts to promote a truly healthy plant-based diet, and I hope more people will do the online research and give it a try.  Go for 3 months without added oil and you'll be surprised by the results, both physically and in losing your taste addiction.

I'd also like to invite your readers to check out the Heart Healthy Pizza website.  There you can read the endorsements from Drs. Barnard and Esselstyn on the cover, the Foreword by Howard Lyman, the Table of Contents, the Introduction, and the Recipes Index.  I'll be adding more recipes, an FAQ section, and such in the near future.

Thanks for the opportunity to be on your blog!

Heart Health to All, Mark

Thank you so much for sharing a recipe and for your time in answering these questions.  Best of luck and continued success.

Quinoa, Artichokes & Dijon Mustard Sauce 
Photo credit:  M. Sutton

Millet and Sunflower Seeds Sauce
Photo credit:  M. Sutton

Chickpeas, Oats and Pimentos Sauce
(from Heart Healthy Pizza, @2012 by Mark Sutton)

1 can chickpeas (cooked, rinsed and drained)
1 C oats (rolled)
1 2 oz. jar pimentos (drained)
3 T flax seeds, ground
1 1/2 t garlic powder
1 1/2 t wet mustard (I used dijon)
1/2 t paprika
1/2 t red Tabasco  (I subbed 1/4 t red pepper flakes)
1/4 t salt
1 1/2 - 2 C water

Pulse oats and beans a few times.  Add rest of ingredients and some water.  Continue adding water until sauce is smooth and thick (like pancake batter).  Makes 3 C topping sauce.

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Next time I make this, I will probably process it a bit longer.  I left it a bit chunky and used less water.  It was very good this way too though.  Consistency can easily be adjusted by the amount of water used.

To enter for the giveaway, leave me a comment and tell me, what heart healthy goals/plans are you currently working on?  (U.S. entries only, please).

We'll draw a winner next Sunday evening.

Good luck!

Sue, loving the new pizza, in Ohio








29 comments:

  1. Sue--I would so love to win Mark's book! I've downloaded all the free recipes on his site and love that I can make a healthy pizza as a meal in one. I already order my Pizza Hut or Dominos without cheese. I try to go no added fat or only a spritz of Pam to keep stuff from sticking. Eat to Live or Engine 2 keep me on track to keep my genetically high cholesterol down without meds. --Jude Eastman

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    1. Hi Jude,
      Good luck in the drawing....I think those big pizza chains are starting to realize there is a potential market for healthier choices!
      Sue

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  2. Fun post! I miss eating pizza! I'd love to try these recipes. What I am working on now is developing binders that will be filled with yummy Nutritarian recipes that my family loves. When we taste test a really winning recipe, I add it to my "go to" family favorites.

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    1. Hi Michelle,
      Thanks! Great idea on the binders....I have two small ones that I use to try to keep me organized (emphasis on the TRY there :-0). One is my 'go to' group like yours and the other is my 'I want to try this' group. I do think it takes time to build up that go to group but eventually you have a nice selection there.

      Good luck on the drawing!
      Sue

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  3. Like you, when I was 17, I lost someone very close to me. Only it was my dad, and he was only 43. He died of a massive heart attack while hiking the Appalachian Trail with my then-15-year-old brother. After that, I always tried to live a heart-healthy lifestyle and became a vegetarian in 1989. Then, in 2002, my then-17-year-old son was diagnosed with leukemia. I learned of the links between animal protein (especially dairy) and cancer, and became vegan. My son continued to eat less-than-healthy food, especially after he joined the Army and went to Iraq. He bought beef jerky out of the hospital vending machines until the day he went into intensive care. He died July 29, 2007, age 22. I am currently eating only organic, vegan, whole foods, about half raw. I exercise 5-7 days per week, and at 52, I have a BMI of 19.5 and weigh less than I weighed in high school. I have given up my car and try to walk everywhere.

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    Replies
    1. Hi Ann, Thanks for sharing your experience. What an inspiration you are. (Beef jerky in hospital vending machines....wow... if that isn't crazy!)

      I'm so sorry for your losses and it certainly says a lot about you that you have taken them and turned to health instead of other alternatives.

      Good luck in the drawing!
      Sue
      P.S. No car....how cool.

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    2. Hey Ann,
      Please contact me sunnyhawklane@gmail.com. You won the drawing!!!
      Thanks,
      Sue

      Delete
  4. Sue--thank you for sharing the interview with Mark. My healthy goals are to keep going to the gym 4-5 times a week and to change my grains intake to only whole grains.

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    1. Great goals, Ruby Louise. Good luck in the drawing!
      Sue

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  5. we are just starting our vegan journey (late 60's due to husbands heart issues and surgeries and desire to live longer). What can I say---love of cheese and pizza --- and now an alternative. WOW
    Am digesting Forks over Knives, McDougall, Esselstein, Engine2, Happy Herbivore and all online vegan with no oil,fat.

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    1. BTW, how do I get in on the free pizza book drawing?
      and what's a URL?

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    2. Hi Anon....I've got you entered. URL is uniform resource locator....basically a web-address. Thanks and good luck!
      Sue

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  6. I would like to enter the drawing for Mark's book.
    Don Luke

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    Replies
    1. Hi Don,
      Have any heart-healthy goals this year?
      Thanks,
      Sue

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  7. My whole family is on a journey to healthier living. Our kids are leading the charge after having seen Forks Over Knives, and they would really like to have some healthy pizza options!

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    Replies
    1. Wow, Melissa, those are some awesome kids you have there! Try Mark's recipe on here and see what your kids think. Good luck!
      Sue

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  8. Mark's pizza looks great! Very different way of utilize some not so common pizza ingredients. It looks just like cheese on top!
    My current plans have been to beef up my juicing efforts and add more greens to my every day menus. Keep up the good work Sue!

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! Try the recipe and see what you think! Adding more greens myself too.... :)

      Good luck!
      S

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  9. I'm working on walking at least 30 minutes a day and eating vegetarian 4 dinners week.
    Thanks for the giveaway! :)

    sweepinpianista at gmail dot com

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  10. Hi Cat, Good for you on the great goals. Got ya entered!
    Sue

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  11. I'm presently working on having vegetable juice for breakfast every day. Most days it works out, but when I run out of time and need to leave the house by 6am, I sometimes just grab something instead of juicing and cleaning the machine.

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    1. Hi Teslaca,
      Good luck to you....that juicing can be a lot of work I hear (I still just process everything in the Vitamix). Lots of good info out there on the benefits of juicing though....great goal.
      Sue

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  12. My heart-healthy goals for this year: stay vegan, continue avoiding oils and refined sugar/flour, continue daily yoga & meditation practice, and eat lots of pizza from this cookbook! ;) Maria B.

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    1. Hi Maria!
      Best of luck to you in the drawing and also on your goals!
      Sue

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  13. What a great giveaway! I have never heard of this book before reading your blog posting and I'm so intrigued. Sign me up for the contest! My heart healthy goal this year? Continue with the path that I have been on for the past two years, but add in a lot of self-love, just like they talked about at the end of "Hungry for Change."

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    1. Got ya, Wendy! That self-love mantra....am trying it too, per the video. Powerful stuff I believe.

      As always, thankful for you and the work you do on your blog: www.healthygirlskitchen.blogspot.com
      Sue

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  14. My cardiologist suggested that I go on a low fat vegan diet to reduce my cholesterol and lose weight. One of my favorite foods was pizza, and boy do I still crave it! I've been on a plant based diet since January.

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    1. That is SOOO exciting to me to hear that a cardiologist made this suggestion to you!!! My husband is a cardiac patient and I wish his cardiologist would do that; we did get his doc to say that he wishes all his patients were on a vegan diet....but why these docs don't automatically suggest it, is beyond me! Good luck.
      Sue

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  15. Lowering my cholesterol naturally (I've been plant based--no/no oil for 1 year w/ Eat2Live Engine 2). I seem to have geneticly high cholesterol because I'm at 220 after a year and no meds (but 10 pts lower than on meds!). 78 HDL - 58 trigylicerides -132 LDL.

    Also working on getting back to working out 3-5 days a weeks. I work too much and can't/don't seem to make time to go.

    I need this book!

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