Why I Eat a Nutritarian Way – Nothing Tastes as Good as Healthy Feels

I’m not sure how to start this. I’ve never been a ‘follow a specific diet’ person. I mean that I’m not a trendy, jump on the band wagon sort of person. I tend to be an off the beaten path sort of person. But, I have to say that I’ve read the “Eat to Live” book by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, and his follow up book “The End of Dieting” and they have truly changed my life (both came out of my local library). I’m not here to debate whether eating animals is ethical. I used to live on a farm and that’s how we got most of our food. I do think that it’s better for a person to raise their own food if they have the room to be able to do it. I think it’s healthier and that it instills a sense of how much work it takes to raise food and makes you a little more appreciative. That’s about all the soap box that I have on that subject.

I’ve only been on this diet for 3 weeks now and I’m amazed at how good I feel. It only took a week before I felt some very measurable effects on my health. I mentioned in an earlier post about finding this after praying about it and I still think that it was an answer to prayers. First of all, I started having health issues after my second child was born: fatigue, extreme aches and pains, digestive issues, immunity issues, pernicious anemia, chronic epstein barr syndrome. There were probably other issues that weren’t diagnosed. So, for 14 years I’ve been searching for a way to combat this. I’ve tried many different ways of eating. I’ve tried many Chinese herbal supplements and other herbal supplements. I refused to just be put on pain meds. Sometimes the pain was quite bad and I wouldn’t want to get out of bed. I learned to deal with it. I made friends with my heating pad. I have a high threshold of pain, too, so when I say I was in pain, I really was. Some solutions would help a bit. I got a glimmer of hope when I went gluten free about four years ago. The pain was a lot less and I had times when I actually had some energy and some of the digestive issues had cleared up. After a year of being gluten free, some of the symptoms came back even though I was very careful about eating gluten. So, I searched for another way to combat the inflammation and then I went paleo. That helped my immune system because I was really focusing on a good probiotic and healing my gut. But, I was eating a lot of meat. It was healthy and organic and grass fed, but it was meat. And, meat doesn’t combat inflammation. So, this is what brought me to Eat to Live. But let me preface this by saying that I’ve never been a carboholic or junk food junky type of person. If you are, you may have a bit of a problem at the beginning of this diet. All I can say about that is just to hang in there. Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels.

Here are the basics of the Eat to Live diet:
Furhman Food Pyramid
G-BOMBS
The G-BOMBS is a mnemonic device to help you remember the highest nutrient dense foods:
Greens: Raw leafy greens, kale being the highest nutrient dense food, is a great way to lose weight. you can eat unlimited quantities and they fill you up with fiber and nutrients.
Beans: (and other legumes) are a nutrient dense source of good carbs and the starch is not completely broken down in your digestive system, so the carbs don’t spike your blood sugar.
Onions: (and any allium family vegetables like garlic, shallots, leeks, etc…) They help with you cardiovascular and immune systems, as well as having anti-cancer properties and anti-diabetes effects.
Mushrooms: Great for their anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects.
Berries: Naturally sweet, low in sugar yet high in flavor and loaded with anti-oxidants, berries are just really good for you.
Seeds: Nuts and seeds contain healthy fats and are rich in phytosterols, anti-oxidants, and minerals.

Of course, this is really a very, very brief summary. You’d be amazed at how good they are for you.dr_fuhrmans_micronutrient_scores-1-300x237

This is his suggestion for amounts to each day of the G-BOMBS:
Nutritarian Checklist
I can’t say that I follow this diet to a T. I pretty much do, though. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten this many legumes in my life. But, my body seems to like them. I’ve been doing special occasion foods but keeping them vegan (like the pizza crust, which is a Friday night pizza night thing). My body is just functioning a lot better this way. I’ve lost weight even though the only exercise I do is yoga. Now don’t get me wrong. Yes, yoga is an exercise. But, I’ve never been able to lose weight unless I was doing an hour of high intensity cardio each day and burning like 600 calories or more a day. And that was only if I was counting calories. I don’t count calories now. I don’t even really ‘watch what I eat,’ in the sort of American way of thinking about it. I just eat. I try to fill in the parameters, but I just eat. If I feel hungry, I eat a little more. If I feel full, I stop eating. It’s really a simple way to eat. Dr. Fuhrman stresses longevity and I’m on boat with that. You can eat paleo and build some great muscles, but if you’re straining you kidneys and liver, what kind of quality of life are you going to have down the road? This is really a sustainable way to eat. Ask me any questions you have. I’ll try to answer them to the best of my ability.

Blessings.

Vegan Teff Pizza Crust

I was doing my happy dance tonight at dinner. Finally! A pizza crust that’s gluten free, vegan, and doesn’t taste like some over-cooked slice of bad, crumbly bread. I’ve tried a lot of different crusts. A lot. There is one frozen crust that’s pretty tasty, but it’s definitely not vegan and pretty expensive as well, plus, even though it’s gluten free, the ingredients are slightly questionable (a few too many processed ingredients). Okay, granted, this crust probably wouldn’t make the Dr. Fuhrman book. It does have some starches in it (tapioca and arrowroot) to give it some stretchiness and it has xantham gum in it (which, if you’re really persnickety, you could use guar gum instead) to give it some pliability. But, the teff flour is a great choice: made from an ancient grain that has a good balance of amino acids and it’s full of protein and and calcium and iron. It’s really good stuff. I think if I was to stay true to the Fuhrman way of eating, I wouldn’t use any flours or I would use only sprouted wheat flour, but I thought that this would be a good compromise for Friday Pizza Night. Hey, throw me a bone, here (metaphorically speaking, of course): a real, sustainable ‘diet’ adds in things like pizza or your favorite foods, just making them healthy so you’re not killing yourself while eating them. Anyway, it’s really a way of life, not a diet as most people think of it. In the same vein (or should I not say that when I’m talking about vegan food), just as an aside, I think the term ‘everything in moderation’ has become an overused myth that culminated in the Standard American Diet (SAD) – but that’s just my humble opinion. For me, personally, it’s all or nothing thing. It’s not a diet I can try and go off when I feel like eating another way. My body just doesn’t function well like that. I can’t dispute how this has changed my life – eating a nutritarian lifestyle. I’m losing weight even though I don’t feel like I’m dieting and I’m eating quite a bit of food. My energy level has increased dramatically. My chronic aches and pains and fatigue have vanished. And that’s only been within three weeks. I can’t imagine how I’ll feel after eating like this for a year. Nothing tastes as good as healthy feels. Anyway, I digress.

Back to the recipe. This crust makes a great tasting pizza. On this pizza, I used some marinara sauce (high in lycopene), dairy free cheese (my cashew cheese), and some mushrooms, kale and onions that I pre-sauteed in some vegetable broth. Plus, I still have half a pizza left over for lunch tomorrow. Plus, I have three more in the freezer to use over the next few weeks. Bonus! It does take a bit of time to make, but considering that you have three in the freezer for future use and leftovers, and a healthy crust, it’s worth the time. I hope you like.
Vegan Pizza
Vegan Pizza Crust

Ingredients:
½ Cup Millet Flour
½ Cup Brown Rice Flour
½ Cup White Rice Flour
½ Cup Teff Flour
¼ Cup Tapioca Flour
¼ Cup Arrowroot Flour
3 Tsp. Xanthan Gum
3 Tsp. Powdered Pectin
1 Tsp. Salt
1 ¾ Cups Almond Milk
2 ¼ Tsp. Active Dry Yeast (or 1 packet of yeast)
1 Tsp. Sugar
2 Tbsp. Almond Butter

Directions:
In a mixing bowl, combine the flours, xanthan gum, pectin, and salt. Heat the almond milk to about 110◦ (it should feel slightly above body temperature, but not scolding hot). In a separate bowl, combine the almond milk, yeast, sugar, and almond butter. Allow the yeast to bloom (to get fluffy looking), about 5 minutes. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and beat for about 3 minutes. Uncooked Vegan Pizza Crust
Precut some parchment paper to fit on your pizza pans or baking sheet. Preheat oven and pizza pans without the parchment paper to 425◦. Shape dough into whatever shape you want on the prepared parchment paper (the recipe can make up to 4, 12” pizza crusts), making sure the dough is about 1/8” thick. I used some greased plastic wrap to push down the dough and form it into crusts – it slides around better that way. Allow crusts to raise for 30 minutes. When crusts have raised, slide them onto the hot pizza pans and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and put toppings on them. Broil for about 4 minutes, until toppings are done. Makes 4, 12” pizza crusts.Baked Vegan Pizza Crust

Vegan Split Pea Soup

I don’t know what the weather is like where you are, but here it’s, well, let’s just say without using any expletives, it’s uncomfortably cold. Last night it got down to five below – Fahrenheit, not Celsius – with a windchill factor of about 30 below. Yeah, it’s freakin’ cold. Anyway, when the going gets tough, the tough get cooking. Enter comfort food. I was looking for a high protein, warming, hearty soup last night, and one that wouldn’t keep me chained to the stove all afternoon. I love this type of soup where you just throw everything into the pot and let it go. I have my handy dandy immersion blender that I use a lot and that gives soups a heartiness, creaminess that’s so comforting on an unbelievably cold day. Just a note of warning, though: take the pot off of the stove before using an immersion blender. I had turned the heat off and was using the immersion blender, which turned the soup to the consistency of lava, and then: spurt! A big glob of my split pea lava landed on the back of my hand, giving me third degree burns. Lesson learned. Anyway, in spite of the third degree burns, this soup fit the bill for a comfort-food-needing night (and it tastes even better the next day). My whole family loved it even though it didn’t have any ham in it. I hope you enjoy it.
Vegan Split Pea Soup
Vegan Split Pea Soup

Ingredients:
6 Cups Vegetable Stock
2 Cups Carrot Juice
2 Cups Chopped Cauliflower
1 ½ Cups Split Peas
½ Cup Raw Cashews
1 Leek, cleaned and chopped
2 Med. Carrots, peeled and chopped
2 Tbsp. Minced Ginger
2 ½ Tsp. Spike Seasoning (or a mixture of your favorite spices)

Directions:
Place all ingredients into a stock pot and simmer on medium heat for about 1 hour. With an immersion blender, or in a blender, process until completely smooth. Adjust seasoning as necessary. You may need to add a bit of stock to thin out if too thick. Makes 8, 1 cup servings.

Vegan Dairy Free Avocado Ranch Dip

As promised, here’s another party food. I used this on New Year’s Eve as a dip for raw veggies. My youngest ate a ton of it on gluten free crackers. Sometimes, cream sauces or dips and dressings made from cashews can be a bit heavy, or rich at the very least. Even with the addition of the avocado, this is a very fresh tasting dip. It may be in my repertoire for when we go on our winter road trip this year. You can add a bit of liquid to it if you want it more like a salad dressing, or you can leave it thick for dipping or even spreading like a mayo on a sandwich. It’s tasty anyway you try it. Hope you like it.
Dairy Free Ranch Avocado Dip 2
Avocado Ranch Dip

Ingredients:
1 Cup Raw Cashews, soaked overnight
1 Cup Water
1 Avocado, peeled and pitted
¼ Cup Fresh Parsley
2 Tbsp. Minced Fresh Onion
1 Large Garlic Clove
¼ Cup Nutritional Yeast
2 Tsp. Onion Powder
2 Tsp. Garlic Powder
1 Tsp. Dried Parsley
1 Tsp. Dried Minced Onion
1 Tsp. Salt

Directions:

Put the cashews, avocado, and ½ cup of the water into a food processor and process until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and process until smooth. Add remaining water slowly until desired consistency (a little less for a thick dip or a little more for salad dressing consistency).

Dairy Free Cheese

I have a sort of love/hate relationship with cheese. I have fond memories of my dad and I eating stinky cheese together when I was just a kid. We were the only two in the house that would eat it. I don’t know if the stink made it taste better, but I loved it. As I grew older, my taste in cheeses fanned out into the stinkier and creamier and nuttier and more acidic types of cheeses. Who knew that eating stinky cheese as a four year old would turn me into a cheese connoisseur. I even made some of my own rudimentary cheeses.

Fast forward to 2014 and I find myself praying for healing and praying for wisdom in how to care for myself and I find myself watching Dr. Fuhrman on PBS. This is where the hate part of the relationship comes in. I don’t believe cheese likes me. It’s funny that I was eating paleo to try and conquer inflammation in my body and the things he was saying seemed counter-intuitive to what the paleo diet was saying. Paleo: eat meat and lots of it and that will vanquish inflammation. Dr. Fuhrman: meat causes inflammation. hmmm…. So, what do you believe? Well, as I do with most health claims, I used my body as the science lab to see how it worked. Back when I first tried this way of eating a couple of years ago, I have to admit that I wasn’t fully invested in it. Give up dairy? pshaw! I used to say that if I gave up dairy, what else could I possibly eat. Well, I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how satisfying and creative this way of eating can be. And the thing that really has amazed me is how good I feel. It’s been three weeks as of this coming Tuesday and I noticed a huge difference in the first week and now, after almost three weeks, I actually have whole days where I’m not in pain and I have energy during the day and I can get through a day without having to take a nap. I can’t say that I’ve felt that way ever in, maybe, the last 14 years. So, to say that it’s an answer to prayer is an understatement. It’s really quite a miracle.

Now, this brings me to my dairy free cheese. I’m not a huge fan of the stuff you get in stores. And it’s really, really expensive to boot. It all has that sort of plastic-y sort of taste to it and then when you melt it, it turns into this soupy, sticky mess. So, I had to give making my own a shot. I’m glad I did. This turned out really well. I made it for New Year’s Eve and then I used some on my pizza on Friday night pizza night. Eating it plain on crackers was quite lovely. It has a sort of creamy, not plastic, texture and a pleasant salty/nutty flavor. My youngest ate probably half of the cheese by himself. Having it on pizza? It doesn’t melt that well, but it’s a nice accent on pizza because it gives that salty/creamy flavor that ‘real’ cheese has on pizza. Okay, so it’s not stretchy like a mozzarella, but it definitely lends a nice flavor to pizza. So, without further ado, here’s the recipe. Hope you like it.
Dairy Free Cheese
Dairy Free Cheese

Ingredients:
1 Cup Raw Cashews
1/3 Cup Nutritional Yeast Flakes
2 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
1 Tsp. Smoked Sea Salt
2 Tsp. Onion Powder
½ Tsp. Granulated Garlic
1 ½ Cups Water
2 Tbsp. Agar Agar Flakes

Directions:
Cover the cashews in water about 1” over the level of the cashews. Soak the cashews for at least 4 hours, or overnight. I soaked mine overnight because I don’t have a very powerful blender.
Drain cashews well. Add cashews, nutritional yeast flakes, lemon juice, salt, onion powder, and garlic to a food processor bowl. Bring the 1 ½ cups of water to a boil and add the agar agar. Stir while boiling for one minute. Turn heat down to medium low and simmer for another 7 minutes, until agar flakes are completely dissolved. Add agar mixture to the food processor with other ingredients and process until smooth, about 3 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare a dish to mold the cheese in. I have a cheese mold that is just the right size, but you can use any container that is about 2 cups. Line the dish with plastic wrap and spray with grease. Pour the cheese mixture into the prepared dish and let sit for about 2 hours in the refrigerator until the cheese is set and ready to be used.

Vegan Teff Bread (Gluten Free)

I used to be a bread girl. I think I may have had a love affair with bread: but not any old bread. I loved the homemade, crusty, yeasty wonderful bread that would crackle as you bit into it and then would stretch as you chewed it. Hold on. Give me a minute here.

Well, health issues forced me to go gluten free. I’m actually so sensitive to it that I have problems when I bake regular things for my glutenful family members. I’ve started washing really well when I bake ‘regular’ things and I’m thinking about wearing rubber gloves. Anyway, that was about four years ago. I’m really not a huge baker. I’m just not a fan of baked goods, but I did always like making bread. It was kind of like a science experiment to me. Since I’ve been gluten free, I’ve been in the endless search for a gluten free bread that’s not crumbly or dense. It’s not easy. The breads you buy in the freezer section are pretty good, but expensive, and I’m a known cheapskate, so I don’t buy them often. THEN, I went vegan: like gluten free wasn’t difficult enough. It’s next to impossible to find a gluten free vegan bread in the supermarket.

Today, I experimented with this bread. I wanted to have something that was kind of grainy/wheaty-like yet stretchy and wonderful.Vegan Teff Bread Sandwich Not too much to ask, is it? Seriously – hallelujah! This bread turned out a-ma-zing. It was just the right fluffy/stretchy combo and a deep, earthy flavor to boot. I kept the oil out of it to keep in line with the Fuhrman diet. I stayed low on the sugar as much as possible (you need some for the yeast to grow and I didn’t know if using whole dates would fit the bill to feed the yeast). Instead of putting eggs in it (which gluten free flours tend to live on), I used flax meal mixed with some hot water. This turned out so well, I did my happy dance. Even my daughter took a slice and said ‘whoa.’ (insert happy dance again) I had a hummus sandwich with lentil sprouts for lunch…..mmmmmmm….So, if you have a morning to kill and are looking for a really good vegan bread, give this a shot. You won’t be let down.
Vegan Teff Bread
Vegan Teff Bread

Ingredients:
1 ½ Cups Warm Water
2 ¼ Tsp. Active Dry Yeast
6 Tbsp. Water
2 Tbsp. Ground Flax Meal
¼ Cup Cashew Butter
2 Tbsp. Maple Syrup
2 Cups Teff Flour
½ Cup Garbanzo Bean Flour
½ Cup Tapioca Flour
1 ¼ Tsp. Salt

Directions:
Combine the warm water and yeast and allow to proof until bubbly, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the 6 tablespoons of water and the flax meal and heat in the microwave for about a minute. Allow to sit and cool until the mixture becomes a slimy, egg-white consistency. Add the cashew butter and maple syrup to it and mix well.
In the bowl of a mixer, combine the teff flour, garbanzo bean flour, tapioca flour, and salt. Mix well. Add in the yeast mixture and flax meal mixture and beat for about 2 minutes, until thoroughly combined. Transfer mixture to a greased, 8×4 glass loaf pan. Allow to rise 1 hour until doubled in size. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350◦.
Bake in preheated oven on the middle shelf for about 40 minutes. Allow to rest and cool before cutting. Makes 1 loaf.

Sprouting – Lentil Sprouts

So I had one of those ‘where-have-you-been-all-my-life’ sort of moments this morning. But, let me back track a bit to give you the back-story of how I got to this moment.
In my paleo days, I started sprouting brown rice. Anything that would heal my gut was a ‘you had me at hello’ deal. I started reading about sprouting because there’s a compound in grains and legumes called phytic acid. Phytic acid not only inhibits the way enzymes work in your body, but it also binds with calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, and zinc. Since I was having a tough time absorbing minerals (I’ve been in a pernicious anemia state now for a few years, even though I’m relatively young), I was in for sprouting. Mainly I was doing brown rice because my family likes halvah bars and I was making a gluten free version with sprouted brown rice flour (which you can’t find in my neck of the woods). I also tried mung bean sprouts because my husband likes Chinese food with sprouts in it.
I had heard of lentil sprouts and it sounded tasty. I wasn’t a huge fan of alfalfa sprouts, at least not the ones you find in the store, because I always thought they had a bit of a moldy taste to them. But I gave lentil sprouts a try. Lentils are so cheap that if I didn’t like them, it wouldn’t amount to a hill of beans (haha): I could just compost them. They were ready last night and I ate a handful right out of the jar, after I had rinsed them off. I don’t know what it is about them that was so good, but they’re really tasty. They’re a little peppery andBreakfast Porridge with Lentil Sprouts nutty. I really love the taste. After eating a couple of handfuls more, I decide that they’re definitely a keeper. So, this morning I threw a couple of handfuls into my mushroom quinoa breakfast porridge, along with some kale. It’s seriously good. I’ll probably add them to some soup for lunch and some stir fry for dinner: they’re that good. My youngest is eating them by the handful as well. There’s just something about them.

Here’s how I sprouted: I was sprouting brown rice in a mason jar with some cheesecloth over the opening, but now my husband bought me a sprouting jar which I like a lot. Not only is it more roomy, but it drains easily. But, if you want to try this today and you have no sprouting jar, the mason jar works fine. Or, if you’re crafty and have some plastic needlepoint fabric around the house, you can insert some of that into the mason jar lid ring and that will work very similarly to the sprouting jar. Put whatever you’re sprouting into the vessel of your choice and cover with twice as much water (when I did mung beans, I used very hot water) and let it sit overnight. Drain and rinse the next day. Rinse and drain again and let sit at a sideways tilt to allow air flow and good drainage. Rinse and repeat a couple of times a day until they start to sprout (mostly within 2-3 days). If you’re sprouting rice, you don’t need for it to get long sprouts: the sprouts on rice will be fairly short (to make rice flour, just dehydrate the sprouts and then grind them). For other sprouts, once the sprout comes out, you may want to put it in a window so the leaves will start to appear. You don’t have to wait for leaves to appear, though, to eat the sprouts. My lentil sprouts have very tiny leaves on them. If you’re looking for a more salad-y type of sprout, then leave them in the window for a few days after they sprout. There’s not a real science to it. It’s all about your personal taste. I hope you give it a try. It’s fun for the kids and good for you and tasty as well.Lentil Sprouts