Category Archives: Whole Food Plant Based Lifestyle

The Birth of a Bean Freak

Nearly 48 years ago, my parents brought me home from the hospital, wrecking my sister’s run as an only child. I’ve been wrecking shaking things up for her ever since. Poor thing.

Don’t shed a tear! She gets hers, lemme tell you. She’s hardly helpless. In fact, I might even go so far as to say that she set me on my current path to becoming a complete bean freak. See, here’s how it started (and how I’m totally blaming her):

In her 20s, Chele spent a few years living in Germany where they were huge into recycling – even in the 80s. She really got into it – both in deed and in spirit. She got used to “reduce, reuse, recycle” and brought the ideas home with her. Once stateside, it was tough to recycle anything much more than aluminum cans; but, until there were actual recycling programs, she continued her mission to reduce and reuse. And was she ever an evangelist about it! I’m pretty sure that there were times I threw things away that resulted in some discourse ending in, “Can I get an AMEN!”

You see, unlike my sister, I was still a giant, spoiled, American baby. I bought things. I used them. I threw them away. Disposable anything was just fine with me. I gave no thought to excess plastic or packaging. I went to Kroger, bought what I needed, consumed it, then threw the remains in the landfill, never giving it a second thought. Well, not a second thought until the Earth Queen got ahold of me, anyway. This went on for years – her fussing, me ignoring – until I lived in New Orleans where the city had a recycling program. Since it was not big deal for me, I separated my plastic containers and put them in the bin. I started recycling in the laziest of ways. Still, I started.

After Katrina, we moved to Tennessee where I met my friend Sean who is also an advocate of recycling. He didn’t really give me grief about it, though. He just told me where I could take it and how easily we could set up collection bins on my back porch. Before I knew it, I had bins for plastic, steel cans, cardboard, aluminum, glass and paper. The truth is, I’m not entirely sure I set these up. It’s possible that he did it while I wasn’t looking. Still, nearly ten years later, I still recycle everything but plain paper (they don’t take that anymore, but sometimes I shred it and add it to my compost pile).

So, you see? It’s totally their fault! Between Chele and Sean, I began to be aware of the environment and the impact on it my choices have. This made me fertile ground for the vegan message, particularly after becoming such a fan of veggies during the Big Reduction. Even realizing that they all have their own agendas, films like Fat,Sick and Nearly Dead, Vegucate, Forks Over Knives, Fed Up and Food, Inc. found a willing convert in this nascent Bean Freak.

So, it’s been nine months since I started my vegetarian experiment – nine months with a total of maybe six servings of meat. Eggs and dairy have fallen by the wayside in the last couple of months – except when they are in something processed. (I’m not turning down a slice of cake to avoid a little egg.) And, as I’ve told you (and my sister, ad nauseum), I feel better than ever.

My sister, who is visiting me this week, is getting the full-on vegan treatment (Except for that cow’s milk she insists on drinking in her tea) whether she likes it or not. We’ve had black bean burgers, wild mushrooms, portobellos in peanut sauce, Jamaican Black Beans with pineapple chutney, cashew and almond milk frozen desserts. It’s all good stuff! Can I get an AMEN!

(I work tonight. Watch for her at the Wendy’s drive-thru as soon as I leave.)

I Would Like to Vuy a Bowel, Pat

For ages, my friend Joey’s standard greeting was, “Hey! How you doing? How’s your bowels?” I have no clue why, that was just Joey. He was sort of a cross between Barney Fife and Kramer – always a little edgy, always a little off the cuff and always funny. Anyway, as I’ve been transitioning my menu choices, I’ve been thinking a lot more about Joey’s greeting.

Because, friends, let me tell you, my intestines have never been happier!

Without going into all the gory details, I’ll just tell you that as a child, I was intimately familiar with the taste of Fletcher’s Castoria. I often had a difficult time going to the bathroom and it’s something that has followed me into adulthood. IBS attacks when taking clients to lunch plagued me during my days in sales!

Not on a whole food, plant-based diet, though!

When I was going through the Big Reduction, I made sure that at least 75% of my meal was fruits or vegetables. And that made a huge difference in my system. Incidents of stomach upset and tear gas production decreased dramatically and I was thrilled! However, as I’ve shifted away from all animal protein, those incidents have decreased even further (as long as I stay away from soy).

While none of the Forks Over Knives books has specifically mentioned decreased digestive complaints as a result of following the lifestyle, in my experience, constipation, diarrhea, bloating, and excessive and biohazardous gas production are all gone!

It’s a really nice change.

It Tastes Just Like…..

No. No, it doesn’t.

That Skinny Shake (blend: 3/4 cup Almond Milk, about 15 ice cubes, 1/2 tsp Vanilla, 1-2 Tbsp unsweetened Cocoa powder, 1/3 of a Banana) that’s supposed to taste just like a Frosty? It doesn’t. It’s entirely possible that it was operator error and that I just messed it up – you know, on account of how complicated the recipe is and all. I know that mine had some chunky ice pieces in it since I have just a regular blender and not one of those Ninja blender things – or even a regular Ninja. I’m pretty sure you need one or the other to get the ice cubes crunched down small enough. So, in my experience, you know what tastes like a Frosty? A Frosty!

And I’m sure you’ve seen the faux soft serve recipe where you take bananas you’ve frozen in pieces and put them in a blender or food processor, blending until smooth. Tastes just like soft serve! Nope. No, it doesn’t. However, this one does have a nice texture, great taste and versatility. This one I really enjoyed and will do again. I’d even be comfortable serving this to guests as a dessert. Plus, I didn’t have a Ninja to do it.

In preparing recipes from my Forks Over Knives cookbooks, I’ve used familiar ingredients in new ways and I’ve used some unfamiliar ingredients like nutritional yeast. I was pretty leery of that one. What in the world?! When I opened the container, I saw yellow fish food flakes and I smelled….cheese. Well, not cheese in the deli-case-cheese way, but, cheese in the cheap-store-brand-dried-mac-and-cheese way. It threw me off, I have to admit – much like that time my Aunt Jo made rose petal jelly (it was a beautiful pink color, but it freaked me out to be eating something that had been solely a scent up until then). Back to the nutritional yeast, I made the cheesy sauce recipe for my baked ziti. It’s not bad; but, the jury is really still out for me on it. The texture is a little off and the color is not what I expected – it’s kind of a mustardy color and doesn’t make me think cheese. Prior to making this change, I wasn’t much of a cheese sauce person anyway since my system has never liked it. So, perhaps that’s the source of my indifference with the vegan cheesy sauce. Or, maybe it’s the Frosty thing: it doesn’t taste exactly like it.

In the course of changing my menu choices, I’m bound to run across things I like better than other things. In this initial run, I’ve found that I really like the sweet potato oatmeal (although I had to double the oats since the recipe as printed was WAY too sweet for me), the creamy polenta with wild mushrooms, the Jamaican black beans with pineapple chutney, the red lentil dal and the breakfast crumble. Really, the baked ziti was the only thing I wasn’t crazy about and I’m still working with it to find variations that I do like – like adding stir fried vegetables. I’m working on creating something I like rather than on recreating something I once liked.

I’m still adjusting to my choice to eat a Whole Foods Plant Based diet and I imagine that I’ll be making that adjustment for some time to come. I think it will be easier and a whole lot more fun if I explore and discover foods for what they are. If I spend all my time trying to recreate the flavors of animal-based foods without using animal-based ingredients, I’m pretty sure I’m going to spend a lot of time being frustrated……

……….and wishing I had Ninjas.

Revival of the Fittest

So, like I said, I got my books and I’ve dug into them. However, just reading them isn’t going to get me where I want to be, now is it? I’ve got to put my fanny in gear and get with the program.

And, yesterday, that’s exactly what I did.

Sunday night, I looked through the recipe book, planned my menus for the next week (Actually, since many of the recipes make four servings and freeze well, the meals will last for more than just the one week.) and made my grocery list. Then yesterday, I grabbed my grocery bags and headed out to Aldi and Kroger. Many of the items I bought were larder stocking kinds of things like nutritional yeast, chia seeds, dried beans, canned diced tomatoes, and spices. I tell you that because I had to say it to myownself at check-out so that I wouldn’t hyperventilate at the totals. Nearly gave myself a stroke, I did! Now, normally, I look in my refrigerator and cabinets to see what’s there and I concoct something edible with the ingredients (the ketchup pizza being a notable exception to the edible thing). However, as I fully transition into this Whole Foods, Plant Based lifestyle, I wanted to make some proven recipes so that I can learn to cook without butter, oil, cream or even cheese. It’s not like I used cream or cheese all that frequently to begin with; but, I have no idea how to make sauces creamy without them. Using the recipes in the Forks Over Knives books, I’ll learn how to do that.

Now, let’s take just a minute because I can hear some of you rolling your eyes at me. I’ve gone off the deep end – no animal protein. What?! Have I lost my mind?! And I used to be such a nice girl! Well, the nice girl thing may be a bit of a stretch; but, otherwise, I can totally get where you’re coming from. I used to dig into a rack of ribs like someone was going to steal it. I enjoyed my steaks so rare that some of them may have moved. Hot, buttered bread, okay, hot, buttered anything was a favorite. Although allergic to dairy, I love ice cream enough to make the bathroom my home for hours after eating it. I was a carnivore who loved all things dairy. Now, what am I? Some kind of bean freak?!

Maybe not yet, but I can totally see myself getting there. Particularly since my cookbooks have arrived and I’m going to learn how to cook with new ingredients and how to use familiar ingredients in a whole new way. And, don’t even think I’m going to be eating grass and twigs.  My refrigerator and freezer are soon to be stocked with:

  1. Sweet Potato Pie Oatmeal
  2. Portobello Florentine
  3. Breakfast Fruit Crisp with mixed berries
  4. Red Lentil Dal
  5. Creamy Polenta with Wild Mushrooms
  6. Baked Ziti
  7. Polenta Pizza with pesto, caramelized onions and potatoes
  8. Jamaican Black Beans
  9. Pineapple Chutney
  10. Whole Grain Penne Primavera
  11. Stir Fried Bok Choy and rice in garlic sauce
  12. Black Bean Burgers
  13. Black-Eyed Pea Burgers
  14. Curried Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

Nope. No grass and twigs here, friends. It’s gonna be good eating at the Doty Hjem! And every single recipe is designed to give my body varied and complete nutrients for better health, and to give my taste buds a big, ole tent revival with every single bite!