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Saturday, July 26, 2014

My story: What your Cardiologist Doesn't Want You to Know!

In 2010 I had my fourth heart attack, the first one had been at age 38. I was lucky to be alive! I was only 49 years old, had been eating exactly as the American Heart Association recommends for 11 years, on daily aspirin to prevent blood clots/stroke because I was high risk for both, as well as 11 prescriptions daily to manage my chest pains, hypertension, high cholesterol, type II diabetes, GERD, IBS, gastroparesis (a complication of the diabetes), Systemic Lupus Erythmatosus, and migraines. In the hospital, I begged the cardiologist to "Give me another pill" to fix me. He said he had done all he could and I needed agressive treatment: a quadruple bypass, and I should go home and get my affairs in order and schedule my surgery quickly. I thought it was the Genetic Wheel of Fate, and there was nothing I could do but wait to die. A few days later I researched 'how to reverse heart disease' and over and over I read the same thing whatever website I was on, and a light bulb went on in my head: if cholesterol is causing the plaque and blockages in my arteries,  and cholesterol only comes from animals, STOP EATING IT. So, I did. 
I began to feel more energy, and even though I didn't restrict my plate portions and ate until I was full, excess pounds began falling off. I continued eating vegan (and discovered I was gluten sensitive at this time) and gluten free and within 4 months my primary doctor took me off ALL of my medications. One year later and VERY surprised to see me alive, and even though my total cholesterol (while on statins) had dropped from 395 to 102, my cardiologist insisted on a follow up heart cath to assess my 85% and 90% blockages he had seen the year before. He was shocked to see the arteries only about 50% blocked and wanted to know how. I told him I stopped eating all meat, dairy, and eggs, and he said with all seriousness, "Don't tell my other patients this." 
I am walking, living proof that a vegan diet is the 'cure' for heart disease and other chronic illness. My numerous chronic conditions no longer require medications and are essentially gone!  I take ZERO prescriptions now, have the energy of a 20 year old, and the clear arteries of a two year old!  I am so thankful for what I learned from reading The China Study and watching  Forks Over Knives, as well as  Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. I am so grateful to Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr, M.D. for his life saving research and willingness to publish it and go against mainstream medicine who stand only to profit from heart disease and other chronic illness created by the SAD (Standard American Diet)!

Some of the research:
--->Kaiser Permanente Thrive's Permanente Journal Review: "Research shows that plant- based diets are cost-effective, low-risk interventions that may lower body mass index, blood pressure, HbA1C [blood glucose control over time], and cholesterol levels. They may also reduce the number of medications needed to treat chronic diseases and lower ischemic heart disease mortality rates. Physicians should consider recommending a plant-based diet to all their patients, especially those with high blood pressure, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, or obesity."
--->The CHIP Program, a 6-year study emphasizing a whole food, plant-based diet, can lead to rapid and meaningful reductions in chronic disease risk factors:
--->Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr. showing that 99.4% of 198 people with cardiovascular disease on a plant-based diet for 3.7 years avoided major cardiac events (2014):
--->Dean Ornish, MD regression of coronary atherosclerosis with intensive lifestyle changes - 10% fat whole foods vegetarian diet, aerobic exercise, stress management training, smoking cessation, group psycho- social support - for 5 years (1998):
--->"An 18-week dietary intervention using a low-fat plant-based diet in a corporate setting improves body weight, plasma lipids, and, in individuals with diabetes, glycemic control.":
---> "Vegetarian diets confer protection against cardiovascular diseases, cardiometabolic risk factors, some cancers and total mortality. Compared to lacto-ovo-vegetarian diets, vegan diets seem to offer additional protection for obesity, hypertension, type-2 diabetes, and cardiovascular mortality.":
--->Adventist Health Study-2 "Vegetarian dietary patterns were associated with lower body mass index, lower prevalence and incidence of diabetes mellitus, lower prevalence of the metabolic syndrome and its component factors, lower prevalence of hypertension, lower all-cause mortality, and in some instances, lower risk of cancer.":
--->"The dietary portfolio approach of combining a range of cholesterol-lowering plant foods may benefit cardiovascular disease risk both by reducing serum lipids and also blood pressure.":
--->5 Ways to Avoid Cardiovascular Disease Without Medication:

*Image via Vegan Street

Monday, June 30, 2014

Beautiful Berry Salsa

Berries Abound-Amazing Anthocyanins

Anthocyan… What?  Anthocyanins!  Yes, these antioxidant compounds are starting to get a lot of attention, and for good reason.  They are plant pigments that give the bright purple and red colors to berry fruits and science is discovering a host of health benefits.  In plants, anthocyanins resist light, pH, and conditions that would normally degrade the plant, so they act as its protector.  When consumed in our diets, they serve a similar function in our bodies.
    We find anthocyanins in a variety of plant based foods including some root and leafy vegetables such as eggplants, cabbage, beans, and onions, but they are found primarily in fruit.  Berries, such as blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries, are high in anthocyanins, and purple grapes, red wine, cherries, plums, and blood oranges have them as well. 
   What is so amazing about these compounds?  So far, there have been many studies published that show anthocyanins may lower blood pressure, decrease the risk of having a heart attack, and overall may reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease.  Anthocyanins act as antioxidants.  They block enzymes that cancers need to grow and deactivate some of the substances that promote their growth.  Furthermore, some studies show berries can lower the risk of developing type two diabetes and Parkinson’s disease.  In an aging population, eating berries can improve memory and may prevent cognitive decline by improving blood flow to the brain. 
I am a life-long Texan, and we have our own cuisine called Tex-Mex which influences many of the new recipes I create.  Inspired by this cuisine and the bountiful summer berry season, here is a delicious recipe to amp up your anthocyanins and antioxidants in a new way!  It isn't exactly Mexican food, it isn't exactly American food, but what is: delicious! 
Ingredients: (Use all organic ingredients for your best health!)
1 Cup Strawberries
½ Cup Blueberries
1 Jalapeno
1 Tomato
½ Cup Red Onion
¼ Cup  Cilantro
¼ Cup Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice (about 4 key limes)
Dash of salt and chili powder
Tortilla chips or baked tostadas for serving

Dice all ingredients except for blueberries.  Set in a bowl and let sit, at least 30 minutes, to marry the flavors. 
Serve Chilled

Nutrition Information: Calories: 83; Fat: .4 g; Protein: 1.4 g; Carbohydrates: 18 g; Sodium: 83 g; Potassium: 290 mg   

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Gluten Free, Vegan Tortillas

I stumbled upon a wonderful recipe for gluten free, vegan tortillas. I tried it; and it is fabulous! This recipe is from Megan at I use this recipe for my Breakfast Tacos  and everytime we want burritos. It works, the tortillas are wonderful, this recipe is a must try!! Thanks, Megan!!
  • 1 1/2 cups blanched almond flour, gently packed
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot starch
  • 2 tablespoons psyllium husk powder
  • 1 tablespoon coconut flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4-1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (I'm sure lard or bacon grease would work, too)
  • 1/2-3/4 cup warm water
  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the blanched almond flour, tapioca starch, arrowroot starch, psyllium husk powder, coconut flour, baking powder, and sea salt.
  2. Stir in the olive oil and then slowly pour 1/2 cup of warm water into the flour mixture and stir until combined.
  3. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes to allow the psyllium husk powder and coconut flour time to expand and absorb the liquid.
  4. If the dough is still dry and crumbly, continue to add additional warm water, a tablespoon at a time, until the dough easily comes together to form a workable dough.
  5. Form the dough into 8 even balls and place them back in the mixing bowl; cover with a damp paper towel to prevent the dough from drying out.
  6. Preheat a lightly oiled 10-12 inch cast iron skillet over medium-high heat.
  7. Roll a dough ball between 2 pieces of parchment paper into a round tortilla, as thin as you can get it (about the thickness of a nickel), about 6-7 inches in diameter.
  8. Peel off the top layer of parchment paper and place the tortilla, dough side down, into the hot skillet. Within a few seconds, you should be able to gently peel off the remaining piece of parchment paper. Cook until bubbly and golden. Flip and continue to cook until bubbly and golden on the other side (Be careful not to overcook. If the tortillas start to burn, beyond normal charring like you see in the picture, reduce heat to medium.).
  9. Place the cooked tortillas on a plate between layers of paper towels (or a clean kitchen towel). Some of the tortillas might come out of the skillet somewhat crispy, but as they sit on top of each other, between the layers of paper towels, the warm moist heat makes them pliable and soft.
  10. Continue rolling and cooking the remaining dough.
Recipe Notes from Megan
There is a difference between whole psyllium husk and psyllium husk powder. Please make sure you use psyllium husk powder in this recipe.
The key to these tortillas remaining pliable is moist warm heat. After refrigerating, simply warm in the microwave for 10-20 seconds to "revive" its pliability.
Q: How do these freeze? A: I don't know. I haven't tried it yet, so if you do, please come back and leave a comment so we'll all know the results!
Substitutions: For those of you who are nut free, you might be able to substitute sunflower seed flour for the blanched almond flour, but I haven't tried it yet, so I can't guarantee it will work. There are no substitutions for the coconut flour, or the psyllium husk powder.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Chocolate Almond Ice Cream Cupcakes

These delightful gluten free, vegan "cupcakes" feature chocolaty rich ice cream and a tasty almond crust. They are perfect for a special occasion or to keep in your freezer for an after-dinner treat.

  • For the Crust:
  • 1 cup almonds
  • 1 cup dates, pitted
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened shredded coconut, lightly toasted
  • For the Ice Cream:
  • 2/3 cup soy, hemp or almond milk
  • 1/2 cup natural cocoa powder
  • 3 ripe bananas, frozen
  • 3 cups frozen dark sweet cherries
  • 1/2 cup raw almonds, plus additional for topping
  • 1/2 cup dates, pitted
  • 1 teaspoon alcohol-free vanilla extract
Pulse crust ingredients in a high-powered blender until well-combined. Line 2 muffin tins with cupcake liners. Press crust into bottoms and partially up the sides of lined cups.

Blend ice cream ingredients in a high-powered blender until smooth and creamy. Spoon into muffin cups to about 3/4 full. Sprinkle with additional chopped almonds and/or shredded coconut.

Freeze until firm.

Makes 24 cupcakes


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Best Lasagna Ever!

I  love to make this lasagna for my vegan family, vegetarian family, and omnivores alike. It never fails to satisfy everyone, and if I am lucky there will be leftovers for my lunch the next day, but it doesn't happen often, they gobble it all up!

I am pretty sure you can put any vegetables at all in it and it will turn out amazing. Here is the veggie-packed combo I have settled on as "my lasagna" you may have others that you like to use, so go ahead and try them all! The pepperjack not only lends that creamy, gooey goodness we love about lasagna, but adds just the right kick  to take it up a notch! Now I am pretty much a lightweight when it comes to spiciness, and I love this amount of heat, not much at all. In fact my husband doesn't even notice it!

1 box Rice Lasagna Noodles
2 packed cups fresh baby spinach
6 cups frozen Broccoli, caulliflower & carrots
2 32oz. jars vegan Marinara sauce (I use Classico organic)
1/4 cup Herbs de Province, or mix your own using basil, rosemary, oregeno, etc
1 pkg. Daiya pepperjack shreds (or mozarella shreds)

  1. Place Broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots in baking pan and sprinkle with herbs, roast at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.
  2. Bring a Dutch oven 3/4 full of filtered water to boil, then remove from heat. Add noodles, let soak exactly 10 minutes, drain. (This is the trick to making gluten free pasta turn out right!)
  3. In a deep Lasagna baking pan 10 x 15 x 4 (if you don't have a lasagna pan use TWO 9x13x2 pans and TWO boxes of noodles) place enough marina to just cover the bottom. Layer: 
  • Noodles
  • Spinach
  • Noodles
  • Sauce
  • Daiya shreds
  • Noodles
  • roasted veggies
  • Noodles
  • Sauce 

Top with sliced tomatoes if desired. Bake 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Enjoy!