Category Archives: Informational

The Freezer is your Friend!

I use our freezer to store lots of things, often portioned out – either to make things easier later or to save money by not having to throw things away.

Some examples

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If you buy a jar of tomato paste for just a tablespoon or two, don’t let the reaminder get moldy in the fridge.  Scoop out 1 Tbsp quantities on wax paper and put in a freezer on a plate or pan.  Once frozen, store in a ziploc bag in your freezer (labeled) for future use.

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Do you ever buy a bottle of red wine for a recipe and then it goes bad in your fridge?  We are more beer drinkers in our house, so wine tends to just sit around.  I used our big freezer to do this – not sure if you would have as much success with a warmer freezer.  The cubes of wine stay a little slushy because of the alcohol, but stay together and frozen enough for this to work.  I then put them in a ziploc bag for freezer storage.  And next time I want to make a dinner with red wine, I will already have what I need.

Other Ideas

When I open a jar of pasta sauce but don’t use the whole thing, I just throw the rest of the jar (as is!) in the freezer for the next time.  Easy and no more moldy sauce!

Entertaining?  If you buy hummus, artichoke dip, or whatever, serve out what you need and then put the remaining jars in the freezer for the next time!

Canned beans – I stopped buying cans a couple of years ago.  Instead I buy dry, cook them in my crockpot and freeze them in can sized portions.  SO much cheaper and you avoid the BPA and other chemicals in the can lining!

Cookies?  Make a double batch of dough and freeze half of it in cookie dough balls for easy baking in the future.  (Like with the tomato paste, freeze on wax paper first then transfer to a ziploc bag once frozen.)  I did this a lot when we were selling our house.  I would pull 5 cookie dough balls out of the freezer to bake when we had a showing.  Made the house smell great and had a nice snack to share.  (Baking may take a couple minutes longer when you are starting with frozen dough.)

If you have any other good idea, please feel free to comment below!


Interesting Analogy: Is a vegetarian diet the new hand-washing disease prevention?

Dr.Jennifer Rooke is the founder and Medical Director of Atlanta Lifestyle Medical Center and author of Lifestyle Intervention. Lifestyle Medicine is a new approach to health care that expands the scope of clinical preventive medicine to include lifestyle interventions that address the underlying causes of chronic diseases. She has a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from Cornell University and is board certified in both Public Health/Preventive Medicine and Occupational Medicine. Dr. Rooke is a fellow of both the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, and the American College of Preventive Medicine. Dr. Rooke serves as an Adjunct Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Preventive Medicine at Emory University and in the Department of Community Health and Preventive Medicine at Morehouse School of Medicine.

Is a vegetarian diet the new hand-washing disease prevention?

By Dr. Rooke

I recently read a medical journal article that reviewed the strong scientific evidence linking animal products – meat, chicken, fish, dairy and eggs – to an increased risk of death from heart attacks, strokes, cancer and diabetes.

The authors concluded that eliminating these foods would prevent these diseases and save lives, but asking people to stop eating meat and other animal products would be “extreme.”

This got me thinking about the introduction of another life-saving behavior change that was once considered to be “extreme” – hand washing and cleanliness.

In the 1800s almost all surgeries were complicated by infections and over 50 percent  resulted in death. Hospitals were unsanitary places that were often called “death houses.”

The most common cause of death for women of childbearing age was puerperal sepsis, an infection contracted by women during childbirth that spread throughout their bodies and was often fatal because there were no antibiotics. Most women delivered babies at home attended by midwives or doctors. Maternity wards were primarily for the poor who got free care in exchange for allowing doctors and midwives in training to “practice” on them.

In 1847 the maternity clinic in Vienna had two wards, one for training doctors and the other for training midwives. The maternal death rate on the doctor’s side was over twice as high as the midwives. The wards admitted on alternate days and women begged to go to the midwives, some even preferred to deliver on the streets.

Semmelweis discovered that the incidence of puerperal fever could be drastically cut by the use of hand disinfection in obstetrical clinics.[2] Puerperal fever was common in mid-19th-century hospitals and often fatal, with mortality at 10 to 35 percent. (Wikipedia Commons)

The Chief Resident at the time, Ignaz Semmelweis thought it was odd that women who delivered at home or in the streets rarely developed these infections. He was puzzled by this until one of his friends accidentally stuck himself with a scalpel during an autopsy and died of an infection similar to the women on the ward.The doctors performed autopsies bare-handed each morning before going to their maternity ward to examine patients and deliver babies without washing their hands or changing their clothes. The midwives did not do autopsies, so he thought maybe the deaths were caused by “cadaverous particles” from the dead bodies.

He ordered all the junior doctors and students to wash their hands in a chlorinated lime solution before starting ward work, and before each vaginal examination. The death rate dropped dramatically by 90%.  This finding should have revolutionized obstetrics and surgery, but instead it was greeted with skepticism, ridiculed for being “extreme” and ignored by most doctors of the day.

Doctors did not adopt hand washing because cleanliness conflicted with existing medical beliefs about the causes of disease, and the image that doctors had of themselves as saviors rather than disease carriers. Semmelweis became frustrated at the slow pace of change and began writing to the heads of obstetrics departments calling them “irresponsible murderers.”

He lost his position and eventually died in a mental hospital. At the time, doctors were using leaches and bloodletting to release “bad humors” and the common belief was that disease was unique to each individual so cleanliness could not make a difference.

This is similar to our current beliefs that our genes cause disease and there is or should be a medication to treat each disease so what we eat does not make a difference. In fact, less than 5 percent of modern diseases are caused by genes alone.

Recent scientific evidence; shows that eating mostly whole plant foods and eliminating animal products can actually change the way that our genes express themselves. The problem is that most doctors, even those interested in prevention, have unconscious beliefs about food and disease that conflict with the scientific evidence.
Eating whole plant foods compared to a heavy meat diet might just prevent a heart attack.

Most doctors ignore or reject evidence about the effects of a plant-based diet in the treatment of disease and the information never gets to patients who should be advised to make meaningful behaviors changes.

History is repeating itself with the same deadly consequences; millions of people are dying from chronic diseases that could be prevented by simple behavior changes such as a adopting a mostly plant-based diet.

On the bright side there is growing interest in lifestyle medicine among the medical profession. Change is slow, but it does come; hand washing is universally recognized as an important preventive measure and all health care providers use gloves to perform procedures now.

The scientific evidence that supports eating whole plant foods and eliminating animal products is growing stronger and health conscious members of the public are demanding better advice from their health care providers. Hopefully this demand will increase consciousness among health care professionals, and health behaviors that are considered “extreme” will be generally accepted and unnecessary suffering and death can be prevented.

2013: Year of the Vegan?

Year of the Vegan

by Paula Moore

Move over, bacon-flavored chocolate. If trend trackers – who are predicting an increased interest in mock meats, vegan foods for infants and other animal-free options – are correct, 2013 just might be the year of the vegan. Even the Cooking Channel is getting in on the act. The popular cable channel recently aired the first mainstream vegan cooking show, “How to Live to 100.”

If your goals for 2013 include improving your health, reducing your carbon footprint or helping animals, then going vegan should be at the top of your resolutions list.

In a recent New York Times column, “Vegan Before 6” advocate Mark Bittman reminds us, “Nothing affects public health … more than food. Gun violence kills tens of thousands of Americans a year. Heart disease, cancer, stroke and diabetes kill more than a million people a year – nearly half of all deaths – and diet is a root cause of many of those diseases.”

Few behaviors take such a severe toll on one’s heart as consuming meat, eggs and dairy products, which are loaded with artery-clogging saturated fat and cholesterol. While eating animal products can lead to elevated cholesterol levels and heart attacks, studies have shown that a low-fat, meat-free diet can reverse the effects of heart disease in many patients. Former President Bill Clinton, who underwent coronary bypass surgery in 2004, has embraced vegan eating – and has shed more than 20 unwanted pounds on his heart-healthy, plant-based diet.

Going vegan can also help you live longer. Loma Linda University’s Adventist Health Study-2, which has been following more than 96,000 participants from the U.S. and Canada for more than a decade, has found that vegetarian men live, on average, 9.5 years longer than their meat-eating counterparts. Vegetarian women live 6.1 years longer.

University of Cambridge biostatistician David Spiegelhalter – who developed the concept of the “microlife,” a 30-minute unit of life expectancy, to analyze the effects of good and bad habits – puts it this way: “A lifelong habit of eating burgers for lunch is, when averaged over the lifetimes of many people, associated with a loss of half an hour a day in life expectancy.” In contrast, eating five servings of fruits and vegetables will earn you an additional two hours a day.

The Adventist study also found many other benefits from going meat-free. According to the study, men who eat beef more than three times a week more than double their risk of dying of heart disease, and women who eat a lot of meat and cheese more than double their risk of developing ovarian cancer. Vegetarians and vegans tend to have lower blood pressure and a lower risk of heart disease, are less prone to developing arthritis and diabetes and weigh less. On average, the study’s vegan participants have a five-point lower body mass index than do the meat-eaters. For the typical 55-year-old, that translates to about 30 pounds.

Kathy Rayner, an emergency-room nurse who is participating in the Adventist Health Study-2, explains her reasons for going vegan: “Being an emergency-room nurse has been such an eye-opener. The majority of the people I see is because of their diet. Animal products are like cement in your bowel – there’s no fiber.”

Eating meat is as harmful to the Earth as it is to our health. According to a United Nations report, the meat industry contributes to land degradation, climate change, air and water pollution, water shortages and loss of biodiversity. And, of course, every vegan prevents the daily suffering and terrifying deaths of more than 100 animals every year.

It’s rare for one simple lifestyle change to have such a profound effect. Now that vegan eating has gone mainstream, it’s never been easier to make the switch. In 2013, why not try eating more vegan meals and seeing how you feel? You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.

Mango Cutting Tips

Mangoes have a pit in the center, so you’ll need to avoid that when cutting.  Cut on either side of  center, leaving about 1 – 1 1/2″ thick for the pit, as shown in the first picture.

With each half, score the mango down to the skin, but not through the skin, as shown in the second picture.

Flip the mango half “inside out,” as shown in the third picture.  With your thumb, release the mango cubes from the skin.

With the pit section, cut the peel off, by running your knife just on the inside of it.  Then, carefully slice off pieces around the pit.

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A Vegan Diet (Hugely) Helpful Against Cancer

Always nice to get reassurance for why I’m following a plant-based diet:

By Kathy Freston:

If you’re anything like me, the “C” word leaves you trembling. But today there is very good news to report: Research suggests you can improve your odds of never getting cancer and/or improve your chances of recovering from it. Not with a drug or surgery, although those methods might be quite effective. This is all about the power on your plate, and it’s seriously powerful.

A 2012 analysis of all the best studies done to date concluded vegetarians have significantly lower cancer rates. For example, the largest forward-looking study on diet and cancer ever performed concluded that “the incidence of all cancers combined is lower among vegetarians.”

That’s good news, yes. But what if we’re looking for great news? If vegetarians fare so much better than meat-eaters, what about vegans? Is that an even better way to eat? We didn’t know for sure until now.

A new study just out of Loma Linda University funded by the National Cancer Institute reported that vegans have lower rates of cancer than both meat-eaters and vegetarians. Vegan women, for example, had 34 percent lower rates of female-specific cancers such as breast, cervical, and ovarian cancer. And this was compared to a group of healthy omnivores who ate substantially less meat than the general population (two servings a week or more), as well as after controlling for non-dietary factors such as smoking, alcohol, and a family history of cancer.

Why do vegans have such lower cancer risk? This is fascinating stuff: An elegant series of experiments was performed in which people were placed on different diets and their blood was then dripped on human cancer cells growing in a petri dish to see whose diet kicked more cancer butt. Women placed on plant-based diets for just two weeks, for example, were found to suppress the growth of three different types of breast cancer (see images of the cancer clearance). The same blood coursing through these womens’ bodies gained the power to significantly slow down and stop breast cancer cell growth thanks to just two weeks of eating a healthy plant-based diet! (Two weeks! Imagine what’s going on in your body after a year!) Similar results were found for men against prostate cancer (as well as against prostate enlargement).

How may a simple dietary change make one’s bloodstream so inhospitable to cancer in just a matter of days? The dramatic improvement in cancer defenses after two weeks of eating healthier is thought to be due to changes in the level of a cancer-promoting growth hormone in the body called IGF-1. Animal protein intake increases the levels of IGF-1 in our body, but within two weeks of switching to a plant-based diet, IGF-1 levels in the bloodstream drop sufficiently to help slow the growth of cancer cells.

How plant-based do we need to eat? Studies comparing levels of IGF-1 in meat-eaters vs. vegetarians vs. vegans suggest that we should lean toward eliminating animal products from our diets altogether. This is supported by the new study in which the thousands of American vegans studied not only had lower rates of obesity, diabetes, and hypertension, but significantly lower cancer risk as well.

This makes sense when you consider the research done by Drs. Dean Ornish and Nobel Prize winner Elizabeth Blackburn; they found that a vegan diet caused more than 500 genes to change in only three months, turning on genes that prevent disease and turning off genes that cause breast cancer, heart disease, prostate cancer, and other illnesses. This is empowering news, given that most people think they are a victim of their genes, helpless to stave off some of the most dreaded diseases. We aren’t helpless at all; in fact, the power is largely in our hands. It’s on our forks, actually.


Cooking (Brown) Rice

Ever since the recent reports about arsenic in rice, I’ve changed how I cook brown rice.

I generally cook 1 cup dry at a time to go with most of my meals that serve with rice.  I start by rinsing the rice under water in a metal sieve/colander.  Then I put in a saucepan with a lot of water.  (I used to cook with just 2 cups of water and allow all the water to be absorbed, but then you also are keeping all of the arsenic!)  Cook about 40 minutes, or until tender.  (Lid can be on or off, but on will make sure the water doesn’t evaporate!) Pour back into a metal colander to drain.  Pour the rice (without any water) back into the pan (with heat off) and cover for at least 10 minutes.