Monday, March 29, 2010

Keri's burrito

Here's an easy yummy recipe thayt should satisfy anyone's hunger. I made it up based on a meal we had at Eden Alley recently.

1 package of Food for Life sprouted tortillas
1 container of Yummy's Hummus (Yummy's is a locally made brand) or your own hummus.
1 tomato
1 orange
cilantro leaves to taste
1 large sweet potato
1 cup uncooked brown rice

nut cheese spreed.....
1 cup cashews
1/4 cup brazil nuts
3 cloves garlic
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tbs. nama shoyu
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup rice milk

In a food processor add all of the ingredients for the nut cheese & process until smooth. If you have excess liquid add more nuts.

Boil 2 cups water and add 1 cup brown rice. Cook until fluffy and soft about 45 minutes. Boil the sweet potato until soft about 45 minutes to an hour. Spread as much hummus as you like on one side of the tortilla. Add some cut up sweet potato chunks, brown rice, tomato slices, cilantro leaves and nut cheese. Roll up and enjoy. Orange slices compliment this very well.

Saturday, March 27, 2010


Last night after grocery shopping we came home and my husband turned on the tv. Oprah was on and she was interviewing Ryan Seacrest & Jamie Oliver about Jamie's ideas on changing the school lunches and educating people about food...real food. It was a great show. The two guys have partnered to make Jami's idea into a tv show. The first episode aired last night on ABC. So this morning I looked for it on line and watched it. What shocked me the most was the fact that he had a table full of veggies in a classroom, held a vegetable up and asked the class what it was and they could not name one vegetable, not even the tomatoes. They recognized ketchup, fries & pizza though. That is so extremely sad to me. I can't imagine raising a child that way. When I was growing up my parents had a big garden and I had to help them with it because we ate out of it all summer. That is not to say we did not eat some junk too. I remember eating sweet peas & green beans off the vine and tomatoes were everywhere and a part of every meal. My mom was not a great chef but I was the last of 7 kids and she had prepared meals, big meals for many years. I remember being so tired of eating green beans & new potatoes from the crock pot or having tomatoes & cottage cheese for dinner so much that I thought I would turn into a bean or tomato. I appreciate those things now. In fact cottage cheese & tomatoes is still a family favorite. My husband would gag when I would say that I was eating that. Of course now as a vegan I do not eat the cottage cheese. My parents & I ate dinners out a lot. It was not fast food but it was not home cooked. My parents are older than most my age. I think that has a lot to do with the fact that in my childhood experience food was respected and something to be grateful for. I was not allowed sugary cereals but Twinkies & ice cream seemed to make their way into the kitchen. I honestly can say that these junk food items were never given the same acknowledgment that real food was. I remember my mom & sisters making potato salad and zucchini breads and thinking that was going to be a good day. Store bought potato salad couldn't hold a candle to my mom's recipe and it was always a weird color. Who would have thought you could make a sweet bread out of zucchini but I preferred that to a twinkie any day. I did not grow up educated about food in my opinion but after watching that show this morning my parents were professors. Now I am teaching my mom about food and she is very receptive.
I have family and friends trying to teach their kids where their food comes from and what is real. My best friend in Portland sends her oldest son to a school where the kids have a garden and what grows in that garden is what gets served at lunch. I love this idea. I have watched shows and read about similar programs in other cities and wonder why all schools don't adopt this type program. They were visiting last summer and I was showing Dana how to sprout sprouts in the kitchen. I thought the boys might enjoy it too. Her oldest son came in and she was showing him my jar of sprouts and telling him about it and he already knew how to do it. Fantastic!
It is so important that we teach each other & our children about the food we eat. To quote a teacher of mine "we are what we eat and what we eat eats" for all you meat eaters. Let's decide to say no to unreal "food" and yes to the real stuff. Let's decide to respect ourselves, mother earth, animals & each other again. Raise those forks in health not harm.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Yesterday was a weird day. It was the first day of Spring and mother nature announced this to Kansas City by dumping at least 1 foot of snow, ice, and freezing cold weather on us. When one lives in the midwest one has to expect the unexpected weatherise. I have family in from out of town and they mean the world to us so we were looking forward to having dinner with them and some other family last night but the weather put a damper on those plans. My husband & I ended up by ourselves at the restaurant which was fine because we always enjoy time together. We had a wonderfully yummy organic, vegan meal. After dinner my husband wanted to go check out a shop about a block away so we went. It was nice because the weather kept most people home so the shops were not busy. My husband has always enjoyed shopping even if that means we are just browsing b/c we are broke. It is both a curse & a blessing to have a husband that enjoys browsing the racks, looking through the shelves of stuff and waiting outside of the dressing room to critique,honestly, the shirt or jeans I am trying on. So I ended up spending money on myself that I had earmarked for something else. No matter. It was fun. I waited in the car while he went into another shop and the weirdest scene played out right in front of me. A woman decked out in an obviously real fur coat,lots of jewelry & makeup was walking toward the car parked directly in front us. She smiled at me and I smiled back even though the fact that she was wearing a fur automatically sends negative thoughts of her to my mind. She open the door to the back seat of her car and took off the coat. She very carefully folded it and laid it in the back seat. Then she got in the driver's seat. The headlights came on & I noticed that I did not hear the familiar engine noise. "Could this woman be driving a Prius?" I thought to myself... noway. Way...she was driving a Prius. How strange is it that a woman could wear the skin & fur of animals cruelly killed so she could buy that coat but have conscious enough to be driving a Prius. It is a crazy world we live in. So we joked about this on the drive home and once there started working on a project my husband had taken on in order to live his dream. We are both really excited about it. He was so happy & excited he just kept talking as I was trying to go to sleep. It makes my heart happy to see him like this even though he deals with the craziness of having a serious health issue everyday. I know it seems like I am rambling on but what I want to share is the idea that in everything there is meaning. It might seem mundane or small but these experiences make up our experiences and our lives. So we need to be able to appreciate them. The littlest things count. I have learned to do this and it feels great. I appreciate stuff that I never would have given a second thought to a few years ago. Lets see how I do today at work. Have a positive day. Take note of the opportunities & experiences each new day brings. I promise they are there.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

My minddump

On Monday we had to make a trip to the oncologist to have my husband's port flushed, get a blood draw & a regular check up. Ports are flushed in the infusion room otherwise known as the chemo room. A place I am glad not to have to visit weekly anymore. While we were waiting for our turn with the nurse she was getting started on a woman sitting across from us. This woman had breast cancer which I know because of the type of chemo & drugs they were talking about. She was probably in her early 40's same as my husband. She was bald and skinny sure signs that she has been on chemo for awhile. She was asking questions about the new chemo they were going to give her. As the nurse explained some of the side effects she could expect big tears rolled down her cheeks and her face became flushed. The woman with her grabbed her hand for comfort & support. I have not been able to shake this image from my mind all week. I want to encourage people to not take the "ignorance is bliss" attitude when it comes to their health. The other side of that is not blissful at all. Education is important. Nobody wants to learn about cancers but trust me knowledge & prevention are better than first hand experience. Go to your regular checkups & talk openly to your doctor. Ask questions no matter how insignificant they might seem. Sometimes those are the most important questions.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Vegan spinach pita pizza

I came up with this vegan pizza idea based on one that I enjoy at a local organic vegan/vegetarian restaurant here in KC called Eden Alley.

organic whole wheat pita bread
organic no sugar added tomato paste
Approx. 1 cup fresh organic spinach leaves
3 cloves organic garlic
oregano to taste
organic red onion to taste
organic black olives
organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 350. In a food processor process spinach,red onion & garlic.
Place 2 pita bread rounds on a cookie sheet lined with natural parchment paper. Spread a generous amount of tomato paste on the pita bread and sprinkle oregano to taste. Spread the spinach mixture on the pita bread. Top with black olives to taste. Bake for 5 to10 minutes. Just enough to crisp the pita bread. Drizzle Olive oil on top of the pizzas. Enjoy. I have had this in the restaurant with cashew cheese and it was tasty. This is fast, easy & healthy. My 3 favorite things about a recipe.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Red Cabbage & Jicama salad

This recipe rocks! It is from a book called One Bite at a Time: Nourishing Recipes for Cancer Survivors and Thier Friends by Rebecca Katz
Jicama & Red Cabbage Salad with Mint and Cilantro Tossed with Sweet and Sour Asian Dressing

1 pound red cabbage about 6 cups
1/2 pound jicama,peeled & juliened (4 cups)
2 tbs. chopped mint
1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1/2 tsp. seeded & diced jalapeno
3 tbs. rice vinegar
1 tbs. fresh lime juice
1/4 cup tamari soy sauce
3 tbs. pure maple syrup
1 tsp. toasted seame oil
1 tbs. minced fresh ginger
oinch of Sea Salt

1/2 cup sliced almonds
1 tbs. pure maple syrup
pinch of cayenne

Preheat oven to 350. Toss the nuts in a bowl with the maple syrup & cayenne. Spread on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Let them cool. Whisk together the jalapeno, vinegar, lime juice, tamari,maple syrup,sesame oil, ginger & sea salt for the dressing.
Cut cabbage in half & remove the core. Shred with a sharp knife. Cut jicama into strips. In a large bowl combine all ingedients and toss with dressing.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

fats & oils

Last night was my class on fats & oils titled "The Good, the bad & the Ugly". There is alot of information to know about these two topics. There is alot of misunderstood info. out there too. I was excited for this class because I have looked into these things on my own and found it overwhelming but very necessary and important. Let's see if I can sum things up for you.

Our body's cell need fat. They need the right kinds of healthy fats. The brain is made up of 70% fat. 15,000 products have come out onto the grocery store shelves in the past couple of decades claiming to be fat free. Examples are fat free cookies,salad dressings (which explain that to me since most of them are made with some kind of oil),etc. What these products are doing is playing on our misinformed selves who believe that any fat in a food will make us fat and is unhealthy. Then they load that food up with sugar.
There are four main types of fats. They are monounsaturated, polyunsaturated, saturated & trans-fatty acids.
There are a few types of fatty acids and they are Omega 3, Omega 6 & Omega 9.
Monounsaturated fats are linked to cholesterol regulation in the blood which supports good cardiovascular health. The Mediterranean diet is high in these fats. Examples of these oils are Olive,Canola, Avocado and Sunflower. These are stable oils and are usually good for cooking with the exception being Olive Oil. Olive Oil is a fragile oil especially if it is extra virgin and is best used as a dressing after cooking. It can take very low heat around 320 maximum so it is ok for sauteing or making sauces. Foods containing this fat are walnuts, almonds, avocados & olives.
Polyunsaturated fats include the essential omega3 & 6 fatty acids. Fatty acids that are essential means we must get them from our diet because our body doesn't make them. These oils strengthen our cell structures and assist our bodies in preventing stroke & heart attack.Oils that are a good source of Omega 3 are Flaxseed oil,fish oil,walnut oil, & hemp oil. These are not cooking oils and are fragile so they need to be refrigerated and exposure to oxygen kept to a minimum.
Saturated fats have two main sources. They either come from animals or are plant based. In the U.S. most of what we consume are long chain, "artery clogging" animal based saturated fats. Plant based saturated fats are a short & medium chain fatty acid which our bodies can use for energy. This is a reason that oils like coconut oil is popular with athletes. These fats don't go rancid rapidly. Animal products,tropical oils & dairy are where they can be found.These fats raise blood cholesterol.
Trans fats are the ugly fats and our "worst enemy". They are formed during the hydrogenation
process. This means cellular chains of fat are artificially altered to create a more solid,stable product or to give it a longer shelf life. This results in a fat that is almost impossible for our bodies to break down. examples of transfats are found in stick margarine,dried potatoes, salad dressings, breakfast cereals, fried foods, processed foods,animal based products, candy, prepared cakes, cookies & pies. Transfats are associated with high risks of cancers, diabetes, immune system disorders, inflammation in the body, etc. It is recommend that we get only 2 grams of transfat per day. A serving on McDonald's french fries contains 23 grams of transfat and a serving of KFC french fries contains 16 grams.
Omega 3 fatty acids are critical to our bodies. Our eyes, skin, hair,heart, brain,joints & nerves need them. This fat is essential meaning our bodies do not make it so our diet must provide it.
Omega 6 fatty acids are found in vegetable oils like soy, walnut & corn. Omega 6 oils break down into Arachadonic acid and Gamma Linoleic acid. We did not discuss this last night but I have read that if the omegas are out of balance than omega 6 is a proinflamatory. The ratio of omega3 to omega 6 should be 1:2 or 1:4 but the standard American diet is more like 1:10 or 1:20 mostly because of processed foods. Omega 6 sources are grapeseed oil, safflower oil, walnut oil, sunflower oil.
Omega 9is are monounsaturated fats that do occur naturally in our bodies. They are also found in olive oil,canola oil, sunflower oil and almond oil. Omega 9 helps offset the omega 6 over consumption of oils like corn & soy. Omega 9 sources are avocado oil, almond oil,olive oil.
Keeping in mind that some of our common oils like canola,corn & soy are now made up from GMO crops unless otherwise noted on the bottle or organic.

Oils that are refined have been thoroughly filtered and are stable cooking oils. The nutrient content is reduced. Unrefined oils are lightly filtered and have retained their nutrient content and flavor. Thus they may contain sediment and appear cloudy.
Cold pressed oils have been extracted using a stone or steel rollers. Expeller pressed oils have been extracted by drilling the seeds for oil. They are minimally exposed to light & oxygen. Extra Virgin means the oil comes from the first pressing and these oils contain high levels of particulates that will react with heat. They are best left to use as dressings or sauces after the food is cooked.
Coconut oil is a sat. fat but because it is plant based it is broken down easily in the body and contains healthful nutrients.It is a medium heat oil which makes it good for baking.
It is the type of fat the total that plays a role in weight.
Many commercial oils are chemically extracted using a toxic solvent for which they have to be further treated to remove that toxin. They are also bleached and deodorized. A recommended brand of oils is Spectrum.
If your oil smokes in the pan throw it out and start over.
In my kitchen I have grapeseed oil to cook with, coconut oil and Extra Virgin Olive Oil for salad dressings and sauces. I hope this info. is useful. There is alot more to know on this topic.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Some facts on detoxification and foods

Last night we took a class on foods that aid in digestion & detoxification led by a dietician at KU Medical Center's Integrative Medicine Program. That program is reason to be happy enough. This woman rocks. I am taking a series of classes from her called Fighting Illness with Your Fork and because they are offered through Turning Point everyone in these classes is living with or supporting someone who is living with a serious illness. It is so wonderful that all of her classes have been packed. It is comforting and exciting to see these people wanting to learn about they ways that food is medicine and how it matters what they eat and how it is prepared. What I love about the instructor is that she can answer questions in detail that range from why is wild caught fish better for us than farm raised fish and can you explain what extra virgin oil is and why is it best not to cook with it. She not only spoke about foods for digestion and detox but she prepared 3 recipes in a demonstration that we all got to sample. Some of us...hmmm...had seconds. :} This class was held at the Cooking Studio at Whole Foods which is fabulous and Whole Foods donated the food. It was fabulous. So I want to share a few tidbits.
Toxins are any compound that has a detrimental effect to the structure and function of our cells. These can be exogenous or external like heavy metals,pesticides, charred meats, cigarette smoke, alcohol,pesticides,etc. or they can be endogenous or something internal like microbes already present in the gut, high hormone levels, or byproducts of metabolic breakdown. The Liver is our main detoxification organ where fat soluable toxins,most are, are converted to water soluable toxins and then become waste products that are eliminated through the kidneys or gall bladder or skin. Several nutrients are needed for these processes to occur. Vit. A, Niacin, Vit, B6 & B12, Folic Acid, Glutathione, Amino Acids, Flavanoids to name them. Liver function is very important in the body and foods that aid it are garlic,onions, leeks, cruciferous veggies like broccoli & bok choy or kale,cabbage, arugula,etc., beans,eggs, beets, artichokes, carrots, cilantro, parsley, basil, tumeric, ginger, licorice & cinnamon. Good soluable fiber choices are apples,pears, oatmeal, beans & ground flaxseeds. Beans are rich in protein and fiber unlike most foods. animal foods contain no fiber. Beans can help normalize blood sugar levels and improve seitiety from a meal. The fiber promotes regularity,lower cholesterol levels and deceases the risk of certain cancers. Beans contain potassium, folic acid, and magnesium. 3 cups per week is recommended. Quinoa pronounced keenwa is a grain. It contains the most protein of any grain and is complete in all the amino acids. It has a high amount of fiber, iron, potassium, niacin, riboflavin, B6, & thiamin. It contains saponins that can inhibit cholesterol absorption. Carrots are rich in beta caroteane which can be converted to vit. A. This vitamin protects the respiratory system by supporting the mucous membranes. Vit. A also keeps our skin,teeth & hair healthy. Spinach is another great fiber choice that is rich in folic acid, vit. K and lutein as well as calcium, iron, magnesium and manganese. Cabbage is a great source of vit. C and fiber. It protects against cancer by increasing the body's antioxidant mechanisms and activiates the body's abilities to eliminate the harmful compounds. It is high in glutamine which is an important nutrient that can heal the lining of the gastrintestinal tract. Red cabbage is red because of the phytochemical anthoycyanin which is also found in berries,beets & red onion. This is an antioxidant. I could go on & on but these are a few examples of healthy smart foods for digestion and other important body needs. If you want more let me know.
She made a cream of asparagus soup and the creamy part came from adding rolled oats to the soup and blending it. It was really great. All of the food last night was vegan & gluten free. I just loved it. Paul turned to me and said "this is like going to church for you isn't it?" Yes it is. afterall our bodies are temples right?