Considering a Plant Based Diet

The Year of Health has become even more important with my husbands unexpected heart attack and need to quadruple bypass surgery. As he recovers from a surgery, that seems inconceivable to me, we are researching what we need to do to protect him from having to go through anything like this again. We also want to protect our son from being where his dad is in 30 years. The genetic risk lives on chromosome 19. I learned this this week. The idea that a 15 yearly boy has to be tested for high cholesterol is mind boggling to me. We had already dubbed 2020 as our “Year of Health” even before this event. Now it is even more important for our whole family.

Diet and exercise seem to be the two areas where we can make an impact. We had committed to at least 10,000 steps a day and 52 hikes this year. We may need to do some urban hiking to make this work. Today instead of the hike we had planned, Marty took his first walk down the hall on the intensive care unit. We may have to double up on hikes later in the year to make our 52, but we will get there.

As soon as my brother heard about Marty’s heart attack he suggested a plant based diet. My brother follows this type of diet and it prevented him from needing to be on medication for his cholesterol. It also probably prevented him from a fate similar to Marty’s, as we have family history of hear disease. I have been pescatarian since 2011. I travel for work so have been hesitant to give up dairy, eggs, and fish. Marty eats what I cook but when he eats separate from me, he eats the typical American diet. Wanting to protect our family from having this ever happen to anyone we love again, got us seriously looking at plant based diets. My 9 years eating things without legs has taught me how to cook some amazing meat free dishes. I am confident that I can bring this to the next level. But, does a plant based diet really work?

We started research by watching some documentaries on Netflix. What the HealthFork over Knife, and The Game Changers provided us with information that was so surprising. A friend recommended a YouTube Channel Krocks in the Kitchen, which led us to another one called, The Jardoui Family. The YouTube channels provide some great ideas as well as wonderful inspired recipes. The host of The Jardoui Family shared her story and it was just as my brother had said. eating a plant based diet restored health and prevented the need for the Statin drugs that are often used to reduce cholesterol. It confirmed what the documentaries had said.

Can we do this? Sure, why not! Planning ahead and cooking for ourselves will be key in being successful on a diet like this. More and more restaurants are offering plant based food. In the Twin Cities we have The Herbivorious Butcher, which has wonderful options.  When I first stopped eating animals back in 2011, I just tried it and thought, “I will see how long I can do this”. Now, 9 years later, I am looking at taking the next step for my health and the health of my family.

May you always have good health. I love you!

If you have any fabulous plant based recipes  or information you would like to share, please post them in the comments. Thank you. If you want a natural way to improve your health, I recommend you watch the documentaries.

 

Health – Don’t Take It for Granted

It is so easy when you are healthy to think you will always be so. I have been lucky enough to live a life where I took my health for granted, most of the time. After two family members where hospitalized 8 month apart, to the day, I am given a wake up call as to the importance of appreciating and taking care of your health.

The morning of the 5th day, in the year I had dubbed “The Year of Health”, my husband woke up with chest pain. I had no idea the events that were about to begin unfolding. My husband is a healthy, active man. We hike, he shovels snow for 8 houses in the winter, takes the stairs over the elevator and is focused about getting his 10,000 steps a day. I never imagined that under the surface this insidious disease was slowly but continually preparing to change our lives.

What I thought would be a trip to the ER to “be safe rather than sorry” turned our world upside. My 50 year old husband had had a heart attack. We kept our chins up; positive thoughts bring about positive results. We were sure that, during the procedure to assess what was going on with the vessels that supply blood to the heart, the doctors would be able to put stents in to repair the blockages. Once again we were shocked. The amount of disease that was found requires a quadruple bypass to repair. Family history was one of the factors, which was shared, as a reason why there would be this level of disease in a man this age.

As we await his surgery, I think how can this be true of my strong and active husband. I just always took it for granted that we would both remain healthy and be able to continue our active lifestyle, traveling, hiking, camping, and kayaking. I know that this surgery is a second chance. I know that it gives us a chance to start again. He will have new healthy vessels on his heart. Though we can not change the family history, we can work together through diet and exercise to make modification that will help to keep this disease at bay. Making these adjustments in our lifestyle will be our way of saying, “Thank you” everyday for our health. Appreciating, whatever level of health we currently have and continually striving to reach the next level of health available to us. Whatever that may be.

I am grateful for the health we have today. I am grateful for the even better level of health we will have in the future. I will never again take my health or that of my family for granted.

May you appreciate your health, at whatever level it is at. I wish you every happiness. I love you!

Food As Medicine: How I Cook With the Intention of Good Health

I try to be intentional in what I eat and what I put into my body. I have chosen to be a pescatarian because I believe it is better for my health. Pescatarian just means I am a vegetarian who eats fish, dairy, and eggs.  I try and avoid processed sugar in my diet, whenever I can, because it causes me joint pain. I choose meals that are good for me and my family and the ingredients I use are chosen for their healthy properties, taste, and color. 

  • Eggs. They are good source of protein, contain vitamin B12 and selenium. Selenium is an antioxidant which may protect against heart disease and boost immunity. 
  • Tofu. Because I do not eat meat, tofu is a great source of protein. Additionally soy has cardiovascular benefits and is a natural estrogen replacement. 
  • Colorful veggies. The more different colored vegetables you put in your dishes the more different antioxidants you add to your meals. I chose veggies I use by the colors of other veggies in the dish. For example; If there is already a lot of green in the dish I usually pick a different colored bell pepper instead of green. They also make the dish look pretty,  and as my grandmother would say, how it looks is as important as how it tastes.
  • Mushrooms. They are cancer fighting powerhouses which have the added benefit of a healthy dose of Vitamin D, the ‘happiness’ vitamin.
  • Honey. Honey is antibacterial and adds sweetness, naturally. 
  • Spicy peppers. These stoke your metabolism. You can adjust how much you add according to taste. My husband does not like his food too spicy, so I add a little, just to increase the savoriness of the dish. 
  • Basil. This herb has healing properties. It also reduces stress and is an immune booster. 
  • Garlic. Helps prevent and fight illness. This powerful bulb has multiple healthy properties that also include reducing the chance of tooth decay and dementia (and keeps away the vampires, per my husband).
  • Love. Setting an intention of love and happiness while cooking infuses these energies into the dish. Good intentions always taste so good. 

These are example of the things I like to put into the food I cook for my family, friends, and myself.  Below is a delicious recipe using these items.  Always consider what you are putting into your cooking and body. Our food really does affect us. 

Thai Basil Stir Fry

with fried egg on top

2 tablespoons olive oil

egg for each serving

For Stir Fry

1 pack ‘firm’ tofu – drained and pressed

5 Thai chili peppers

Olive oil for frying and sautéing

1-2 tablespoon minced garlic

1 package of white mushrooms

1/2 red bell pepper cut in stripes

2 cups fresh green beans, snapped in half with ends removed. 

Sauce

1 tablespoon oyster sauce

2 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon fish sauce

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons water 

Add in at the end

1.5 Cup (loosely packed) fresh basil leaves.

Base

Cooked jasmine rice to serve as a base for the stir fry.

Putting it all together

Heat the oil. (you just need enough oil to cover the bottom of the pan). Cut up the Thai chillies and sauté in the oil. Once they are fully sautéed, remove and dispose. These give flavor to the oil and add a hint of heat without taking over the dish. More chillies can be used to increase the heat.

After the tofu has been drained, wrap it in paper towels and place on a plate with another plate and something, somewhat heavy, on top. This will press the extra liquid out of the tofu. Cut the tofu into chunks. Place in the hot oil. Cook over medium heat. No need to rush it. Let it take its time.  Occasionally ‘gently flip’ the tofu. You don’t want to break it up but have it stay in chunks. As this is cooking, add the garlic and continue to sauté. Next cut the mushrooms into quarters and add to the pan once the tofu has a light golden brown crust on it. Allow this to cook slowly while you mix the ingredients for the sauce in a separate bowl. Add the red bell peppers to the pan and stir ‘gently’ again. Pour the sauce over everything.  Add the green beans and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until beans are bright green and warm all the way through. Keep your thoughts positive through the process. Play some fun music if that helps. Keep loving thoughts in your mind for those you are cooking for. 

In a separate pan fry the eggs, soft cooked are delicious, but how hard you cook the yokes is up to your preference. 

Serve stir fry over rice with the egg on top. 

Enjoy! 

Thank you fro reading my blog today. May you find it easy to put healthy food into your body, as if by magic.

** Photo credit goes to my husband who enjoyed the food so much he snapped a picture of it.

 

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