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Friday, April 18, 2014

Never Let Your Guard Down!

Three weeks ago I got the news that the cancer markers were high in numbers in my blood. Last week the PET scan confirms tumors and I am immediately counseled to have radical surgery, chemo, and radiation. I will not let cancer take control of my life. I have complete confidence, in fact I am betting my life on, the Gerson Method of treating cancer. Not the best timing, I must say, my husband was laid off  a few months ago and is still looking for work, and I am a student with a 10 hour a week work-study job. I don't have a $2500 Norwalk Juicer as The Gerson Institute  recommends, nor can I afford to buy and juice 30 pounds of organic fruits and vegetables daily. I can't afford the Gerson clinic or a Gerson therapist at home. If I went through conventional therapy (which I believe is poison)  perhaps there would be ways to provide  the treatment and pay  for it forever, but not so with "alternative" therapy. I can see why some may resort to conventional in the absence of ability to pay. It is ironic that one's life-worth must be summed up in a dollar value. We barely survive by renting out our spare bedrooms. I shall not let the circumstances deter me, and will do as much as I am able with a second-hand Omega juicer and my small stipend  I can purchase organic produce with, and with God's help, I will detoxify and rid my body of cancer once and for all!

The China Study showed that on a diet of 5% or less casein (the protein in dairy), cancer tumors shrink, and on a diet of 20% or more casein, cancer flourishes. I am a full time, non-traditional student, but susceptible to stress of school and lack of time like anyone else.I didn't think a few M&Ms scarfed between classes would hurt .... but 6 months of  cheating on my vegan diet with M&Ms and my Breast Cancer is back. Nothing else has changed, I still eat only gluten free, organic vegan meals, drink plenty of water, and have gotten even better at avoiding chemicals in soap, shampoo, cleaning products, deodorant, makeup, etc. I use glass or stainless containers, cook only in stainless or ceramic cookware, and freshen my home using Himalayan salt lamps and essential oils. We have eliminated dry cleaning and permanent press (chemically treated) clothing, and sleep on organic cotton bedding. Thus, I can be certain the only change in my lifestyle is the small addition of casein, and I didn't run the numbers daily on my nutrients to see if it was less than 5% of my diet.

The Cancer industry is a multi-billion dollar, for-profit entity feeding off the frail, the fearful, and the uninformed. I am none of those, and will not be it's victim. I am well-read and convinced that the body can and does heal itself given the correct fuel, and not inundated with more poison. I have heard it said, "everything gives you cancer" by persons who disregard the information they read or hear as something they don't need to bother with avoiding or think it would be too hard, yet they should.  I can remember 25 or 30 years ago when I heard that cooking meat over open charcoals could cause cancer, and then a meat eater, I scoffed and said, "well at least I'll die happy with a delicious tasting burger in my tummy!" I scarcely believe that was me, but I not only said that, but continued to cook many meals over charcoal over the coming years, until I went vegan. Like the average American, I actually trusted my government to keep me safe. When I heard saccharin causes cancer in laboratory mice, I decided "if it was unsafe for humans, the FDA wouldn't allow it on the market." I wonder how many substances I had the chance to avoid, but didn't because of that faulty thinking?  So it is also with our food supply. Chemicals are sprayed, dusted, and even genetically engineered into our food and our meat's food, and have been for 50 years. Chemical such as hormones, steroids, and antibiotics are pumped into the meat, dairy, and eggs of this country. We actually charge more for food grown without chemicals, how in the world does that even make sense?   Every morsel of food in America is contaminated  unless it is 100% organic (not just claiming organic somewhere on a label) TV ads convince us our homes are smelly and dirty and we need to buy their chemicals to remedy it. Shampoos, soaps, deodorants, and toothpaste increasingly contain more ingredients made in a laboratory than are needed to get the job done. Our kitchens are full of carcinogenic teflon, BPA, aluminum, and chlorine and fluoride lurk in the water that our city's tell us are safe to drink. However, I believe it IS possible to avoid contaminants, and everyone reading this should endeavor to do so. Every step you take towards ridding your life and your body of carcinogens is a step towards health and longevity. Take control of your health, and your body!

Why am I telling you all of this? Because I became too comfortable, less-diligent, even arrogant about the massive (and the small) changes I made in my life, and I assumed I was safe from disease and from cancer. Though mostly true, the changes I made and live by from my plant based organic diet to my choices in body care and home care are well and good,  keeping stress down and the mind calm is a must, as is a clean, vegan diet. So if you are one who has become less diligent about your diet (M&M's like me?) or if there is an area you haven't made the healthier change, I urge you to not let your guard down,  make the change for your health, and for the planet. To read more about these chemicals, where they lurk, etc. see this post:  My anti-cancer regimen
I will fight. I will win. How about you?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Señor Yuckie, err I mean Señor Veggie Restaurant Review

I was so excited that San Antonio got another vegan restaurant, just opened last month. So we looked at their website, and saw beautiful and amazing sounding dishes like Grilled Vegetable Enchilada with Smoky Black bean Sauce and Cashew Creme, or Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini Moussaka, or Stuffed Manicotti with Roasted Criminis and our mouths were watering and we couldn't wait!  Oddly, we placed our order at the counter and were forced to pay the tip ahead of the service, we tipped our customary 20% hoping to get at least decent service. NONE of these foods were on their lunch menu at all, so I inquired about the dinner menu and when it would be served, but was told those menu items on their website are not available at the restaurant. WHAAAAAT??

I am a gluten free vegan, and took my omnivore family visiting from out of town with me for my first AND LAST visit to Señor Yuckie, err I mean Señor Veggie. I ordered from the gluten free menu. Two bites into my Baba Ganoush with what seemed like wheat pita bread, I went to the counter (since no server ever came by the table) and said 'is this really gluten free?' She said no. So WHY is it labeled GF with small print that you easily miss that says 'can be made gf with veggie crudités)?? So the girl at the counter suggested the special of the day, veggie menudo, saying it was very good. So I ordered that. It had a lovely flavor but a suspicious 'meaty' ingredient (I knew it wasn't meat) guess what, when I again had to go to the counter to ask, it contains SEITAN!  I politely but firmly said, that is GLUTEN, YA' KNOW! Ok great now I will be quite sick and in a great deal of pain for days....and they made no offer to try and rectify the double mistake. Meanwhile my family ordered Tomato Bisque, barely edible; Buffalo Po’ Boy that was so spicy hot one couldn't taste anything in it, Sweet Potato Wedges with curry ketchup, which was actually good and ended up being my lunch, Falafel Wrap which had burned, hard, inedible chunks of falafel in it,  an SV Burger which was rather tasteless, so-called super thin fries my husband and daughter said were the restaurant charging for crunchy  air, and a TLT sandwich that disappointed all the omnivores, but my husband managed to choke it down saying it wasn't bad, but it wasn't good either. WAY OVERPRICED $71 for a lunch and tip (for non-existent service) for five, and I got gluten poisoned not once but twice and no one EVER wants to return here.

Now I am a very patient, understanding, kind  and trusting person, perhaps that is what gets me in trouble; I expect the same from a service based business. It takes a lot to really upset me because I understand a thing or two can go wrong; however, the service here was the worst, our water and tea ran dry and were never refilled (by the way no other drinks were available even though the menu listed coffee, aqua frescas, hibiscus tea, bottled natural sodas, and assorted hot teas). Service is the worst in town, attention to detail is the worst, the food was nearly the worst ever, knowing how to run a service based business? THE WORST. I am so dissappointed, Señor Veggie has really let us vegans down, and let down San Antonio, and is trying to make all gluten free customers too sick to ever return. Señor Veggie is not a good business model, and not even a decent-human-being-caring-for-others model. So I blew my weekly food budget on a horrible meal, five people left the restaurant hungry, dissapointed, and worried (that I was going to be super ill)

So let me clarify this review for you. They have false advertising on their website. They claim to be a restaurant but behave like a low-end food truck with no service.  The food, service, and beverages are sub-minimal at best, and they are rude, thoughtless, overpriced, and greedy.Stay away. Far away. Which isn't hard, with the poor location and tiny parking lot filled with employee cars, you won't be able to go anyway......

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Vegan Mossaka

All the rich flavors of Greek cooking without the fat, cholesterol, and calories!

Serves 12
Prep time: approx. 2 hours

 INGREDIENTS: (please use organic for your health's sake!)
·        5 large russet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
·        4 cloves garlic, peeled
·        ¼ cup plus 2 Tbs. olive oil, divided; or use veg. broth or water
·        1 large onion, chopped
·        3 Tbs. dried oregano
·        2 15-oz. cans chopped tomatoes
·        ⅔ cup green lentils
·        1 bay leaf
·        1 cinnamon stick
·        2 medium eggplants, sliced
·        2 small zucchini, sliced
·        3 tomatoes, thinly sliced
·        1 8oz. pkg. Daiya Mozzarella style cheese
·        Salt and pepper to taste
1. Cook potatoes and garlic in boiling salted water 10 minutes, or until soft. Drain, and reserve liquid. Mash with 1/4 cup olive oil and 2 cups cooking liquid. Season with salt and pepper.
2. Heat 2 Tbs. olive oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and oregano, and sauté 5 minutes. Add tomatoes, lentils, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, and 3 cups of the potato cooking liquid. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 45 minutes, or until lentils are tender. Remove bay leaf and cinnamon, and purée lentils in food processor until chunky. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Place eggplant slices on paper-towel-lined baking sheet, and sprinkle with salt. Let stand 30 minutes. Rinse, and pat dry.

4. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Coat 3” deep 13- x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Spoon 1 1/2 cups lentil mixture into bottom. Top with eggplant, followed by zucchini and tomatoes. Spoon 2 cups lentil mixture over top, then top with the Daiya cheese. Spread half of potatoes over this mixture. Top with remaining eggplant, and lentil mixture. Spread remaining potatoes over top, making sure to cover completely. Bake uncovered for 1 hour, or until top is browned. Allow to sit out of the oven for10 minutes before serving.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Gluten free, vegan cornbread

It is finally getting colder here, the kind of weather when you crave hot steaming bowls of soup or beans, and here in the south, that also means cornbread! I have tried many, many recipes, and none made me happy until I decided to dust off an old Betty Crocker cookbook and attempt to veganize and de-gluten it. Well, I did it. In fact, I an't tell the difference between this and the old mixes I used to use. 
It is cake-like, holds together, rises nicely, and has delicious flavor.  So whether you serve it as a side to your famous vegetable stew or make cornbread dressing out of it, you are going to be pleased with your results!

Here is my recipe:

1 cup all purpose gluten free flour mix (I used Bob's Red Mill)
¼ cup sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon psyllium husk
¼ cup vegetable shortening or coconut oil (not butter) unmelted!
2 flax eggs (2 Tbsp. ground flaxseed in 6 Tbsp. water, let set 15 minutes until gelled)
1 cup non-dairy milk
1 cup organic* yellow cornmeal
Preparing to cook. Heat the oven to 425°.
Mixing the dry ingredients. Combine the flours by sifting them into a large bowl. Add the remaining dry ingredients and stir.
Cutting in the shortening. Cut the shortening into the flours, the way you would when making a pie dough. You should end up with walnut-size pieces in a sandy flour. (It just won't work as well with butter!)
Adding the wet ingredients. Combine the flax eggs and milk in a small bowl. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid. Stir with a rubber spatula until everything is combined.
Finishing the batter. Stir in the cornmeal, whisking fast, until it is just combined. Do not over stir.
Baking the cornbread. Pour into a greased 9 by 9 by 2-inch pan, or muffin tins. Slide it into the oven. Bake muffins for 20 to 25 minutes, pie pan 40 minutes or until the sides of the cornbread are slightly shrinking from the pan and a toothpick comes out clean.

* 95% of the U.S. corn supply is genetically modified, or GMO. The only way you can be sure your cornmeal is not GMO until such a time as we    have required GMO labeling or GMO's are banned, is to use organic products. By definition, a product cannot be labeled USDA ORGANIC if it comes from GMO crops.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Are your clothes killing you?

My first thought when I saw wrinkle free clothes showing up in the stores was – What are they using to make that happen. That turns out to be a good question, because the answer is formaldehyde! But, isn’t that what the frog you dissected in biology class had been stored in? Isn’t formaldehyde the primary ingredient in embalming fluid? Why yes, it is the same formaldehyde. So why would you want it in your clothing?Formaldehyde is also used in building materials such as plywood. It is used in clothing, draperies, sheets, pillow cases, and upholstered furniture. It is also used in many personal care products. Sadly, it isn’t labeled, it isn’t regulated and there is no disclosure required.

Why formaldehyde? My favorite question: Why? It seems that clothing treated with a resin that releases formaldehyde won’t wrinkle when they are washed, so it’s a huge time-saver. As often happens with our time-savers, we give up a bit of our quality of life.

Some may ask – Is it safe? I say no, absolutely not. What you put on your skin, gets on your body. And if the formaldehyde is released, then you’re also breathing it in.Unfortunately, it’s big business and most people won’t have a problem with it. It’s the old argument that the biggest problem most of us are likely to encounter is contact dermatitis. Even though it can have serious health implications for people who work with the chemical in factories.There are many sources of formaldehyde in our world: the clothing and other products mentioned above, cigarette smoke, fungicides, germicides, disinfectants, pressed-wood products, glues, adhesives, and some insulation. Any of these products containing formaldehyde can release it into the air. An additional source of formaldehyde in the air is from automobile emissions.According to OSHA (Occupational Safety & Health Administration), formaldehyde is a known carcinogen. OSHA  addresses exposure in a factory setting. But I wonder what level, if any, is really safe? When the body ingests toxins, either through digestion, skin, or breathing, the liver has the job of dealing with them. It works to detox them, but can get overloaded. At that point, the toxins are stored in fat cells. Over time, they build up to the point that people can’t really handle them anymore. This is what happens to the workers in the factory. Our world is full of toxins. Over time, the build up can exceed our body capacity to detox for any one of us. Though it is not obvious from the label, the antiwrinkle finish comes from a resin that releases formaldehyde, the chemical that is usually associated with embalming fluids or dissected frogs in biology class.And clothing is not the only thing treated with the chemical. Formaldehyde is commonly found in a broad range of consumer products and can show up in practically every room of the house. The sheets and pillow cases on the bed. The drapes hanging in the living room. The upholstery on the couch. In the bathroom, it can be found in personal care products like shampoos, lotions and eye shadow. It may even be in the baseball cap hanging by the back door.Most consumers will probably never have a problem with exposure to formaldehyde, though it can have serious health implications for people who work with the chemical in factories. The biggest potential issue for those wearing wrinkle-resistant clothing can be a skin condition called contact dermatitis. It affects a small group of people and can cause itchy skin, rashes and blisters, according to a recent government study on formaldehyde in textiles. Still, some critics said more studies on a wider array of textiles and clothing chemicals were needed, including a closer look at the effects of cumulative exposure. 

At the very least, better labeling would help.“From a consumer perspective, you are very much in the dark in terms of what clothing is treated with,” said David Andrews, a senior scientist at the Environmental Working Group, a research and advocacy organization. “In many ways, you’re in the hands of the industry and those who are manufacturing our clothing. And we are trusting them to ensure they are using the safest materials and additives.”The United States does not regulate formaldehyde levels in clothing, most of which is now made overseas. Nor does any government agency require manufacturers to disclose the use of the chemical on labels. So sensitive consumers may have a hard time avoiding it (though washing the clothes before wearing them helps).The Government Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, recently examined the levels and potential health risks of formaldehyde as required by the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008.Most of the 180 items tested, largely clothes and bed linens, had low or undetectable levels of formaldehyde that met the voluntary industry guidelines based on standards in Japan, which are among the most stringent. Still, about 5.5 percent of the items — primarily wrinkle-free shirts and pants, easy-care pillow cases, crib sheets and a boy’s baseball hat — exceeded the most stringent standards of 75 parts per million, for products that touch the skin. (Levels must be undetectable, or less than 20 parts per million for children under 3 years, and can be as high as 300 parts per million for products like outerwear that do not come into direct contact with the skin.)The study did not offer recommendations, but the researchers said in interviews that their findings made them think twice about wearing no-iron clothes without washing them first. 

Some of the highest occurrences of formaldehyde are in men’s shirts, said John Stephenson, director of environmental protection issues at the G.A.O. “That was an eye opener because I wear, almost exclusively, non-iron shirts.” He added, “That caused me to wash them, at least twice.”The levels found in the study are not likely to irritate most people. People who have allergic contact dermatitis caused by formaldehyde in clothing typically become hypersensitive because of some other exposure, like a worker with chapped hands who has handled metal-working fluids that contained the chemical, or someone who applied moisturizer with a formaldehyde preservative on inflamed skin, said Susan T. Nedorost, associate professor of dermatology and environmental health sciences at University Hospitals Case Medical Center in Cleveland.“People rarely become allergic to the low levels of formaldehyde released by textile resins, but for those already sensitized, it is entirely possible to react to the low levels released by textile resins in clothing,” she said, adding that some people were probably genetically predisposed to allergy. Research shows that the small group of people who are allergic can develop a rash with levels as low as 30 parts per million.So why use the chemical at all? Formaldehyde basically keeps the fabric’s fibers in place after a spin in the washing machine. Without it, the fibers become wrinkled or creases may fade.Formaldehyde levels have declined over the last several decades, largely as a byproduct of regulations protecting factory workers at risk of inhaling the chemical and improved resins. 

The retail industry has also helped to reduce the numbers. The American Apparel and Footwear Association maintains a growing list of restricted substances — a collection of 200 chemicals that are banned or restricted around the globe — that it provides to the industry as a reference tool.“Even in the absence of regulation, we are trying to get the industry engaged to be at the forefront, to be self-regulating,” said Nate Herman, vice president for international trade at the association.Several retailers, including the Gap, whose Banana Republic stores offer an array of no-iron shirts, said those shirts met the most stringent standards. Land’s End and Levi Strauss & Company, too, said all adult textiles, including the never-iron Dockers, met the standards. Nordstrom said all of its clothing conformed with the standard except for its wrinkle-free garments, because of the way they were manufactured. But the company said the levels were minimal.“Many of the retailers do commit themselves to those standards, but not everybody does,” said David Brookstein, executive dean for university research at Philadelphia University, and a textile engineer who has conducted his own formaldehyde tests. “As a scientist, I think it would be good if there was a strong part of the label that said, ‘Wash before wearing.’ ”That can certainly help, though studies found that results varied based on the resins involved and the water used. And people generally do not wash items like hats beforehand. Meanwhile, humidity and sweating can also have an effect on the chemical’s release. It must also be applied properly during manufacturing.“The textile industry for years has been telling dermatologists that they aren’t using the formaldehyde resins anymore, or the ones they use have low levels,” said Dr. Joseph F. Fowler, clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Louisville. “Yet despite that, we have been continually seeing patients who are allergic to formaldehyde and have a pattern of dermatitis on their body that tells us this is certainly related to clothing.”

A 2006 study that tested people with suspected skin allergies found that 9 percent of those tested were allergic to formaldehyde, but not all of those people will necessarily have a bad reaction to various compounds that release formaldehyde, said Dr. Peter Schalock, an assistant professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School who runs a skin allergy patch testing clinic.Critics of the government’s study say it could have incorporated a wider array of textiles, like drapes and upholstery. Others are calling for a closer look at the potential cumulative effects of exposure.“Given all of the things we buy new that can release formaldehyde in our house, all of those things contribute,” said Urvashi Rangan, director of technical policy at Consumers Union, who noted that the Environmental Protection Agency was currently developing formaldehyde emissions regulations for pressed-wood products. “Over all, minimizing your exposure is a good idea.” 

The best way to protect ourselves? Well, since running naked is frowned upon in public, we need to be as smart about our clothing as we are our food. Choose organic cotton and other natural fibers, a;ways wash clothing before wearing, and avoid clothes that are "stain resistant" "Wrinkle resistant" or "Water resistant". As for ridding clothes of wrinkles, an iron has worked perfectly fine for centuries!