Saturday, December 26, 2009

Kid-approved Vegan Mac and Cheese

I've made a lot of non-dairy 'cheesy' dishes and while my husband and I usually enjoy them, this is the first time my kids have given a non-dairy cheese the thumbs up. Even better, this dish doesn't have any processed fake cheese in it. As long as you consider soy milk and whole wheat pasta whole foods (I do), then this is a whole foods meal.


2/3 cups raw cashews
2 cups unsweetened plain soy milk
1 TBSP olive oil
1/2 medium onion, minced
2 TBSP all-purpose flour
2 tsp ground coriander (or to taste)
salt and pepper to taste
1 pound whole wheat elbow macaroni, cooked according to package directions
4 roma tomatoes, sliced

Use a food processor to process the cashews into a paste. Add the soy milk and process until blended, set aside. In a large saucepan, sautee the onion in the olive oil until lightly browned. Add flour and coriander to pan and stir a few times with a whisk to combine, then add the cashew-soymilk mixture and bring to a near boil, whisking continually, until the mixture thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste. In a large oven-safe baking dish combine the milk mixture and the pasta, stir to combine, and top with a layer of the sliced tomatoes. Bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until tomatoes begin to brown. Serve and enjoy!

Makes 8 servings.
Per serving: 345 calories; 9g fat; 1.5g saturated fat; 0g trans fat; 0g cholesterol; 3g dietary fiber; 12g protein; 10% vitamin A RDA; 14% vitamin C RDA; 18% iron RDA

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Triggering Events

A friend's recent brush with cancer reminded me of my own triggering event, the experience I can definitively point to and say 'that's where it all started'. About two years ago a woman came into the spa I was working at for a massage. She looked perfectly healthy. Late 30's, slim, attractive, nothing outwardly indicating the battle for her life she'd been waging. It wasn't until we got into the private room that she began to explain what was going on and why she had come in for a massage. She had recently discovered a small lump in her breast during a self-exam. She'd had regular mammograms that had always been clear, so didn't think it was serious but went to the doctor to be on the safe side. They discovered seven malignant tumors in her breasts. She had one breast completley removed and a lumpectomy in the other. She began to tell me about how she had changed her lifestyle in response to research she's been doing on health and cancer treatment and prevention. She said that more and more research was coming forward showing the link between animal protein and cancer, and that exercise was showing promise as not just a preventive, but a treatment. She said that she needed to exercise every day now, because her life depended on it.

I wouldn't make the change to a plant based diet for another year, but what she did for me that day was to flip a switch in my brain, she turned on my ears. I started paying attention. Lo and behold, there IS a lot of evidence out there that animal protein is highly correlated with cancer. In fact, there's vast, enormous, overwhelming evidence of it. Why don't we hear about it? Well, for one, there's the Dairy and Meat Industries. They are powerful and they wield tremendous influence over public policy at the state and federal level. And for two, most of us just aren't paying attention to it. It's there, we're choosing not to see it. Google cancer + diet and you'll find page after page after page of credible, peer reviewed scientific studies showing links between cancer and animal product consumption, as well as page after page after page of credible, peer reviewed studies showing a reduced incidence of cancer amongst vegetarians. These studies get reported on by CNN and BBC and numerous other news agencies, and for some reason it just doesn't seem to register on our collective consciousness.

And then there's exercise. Did you know that the USDA recommends 60-90 minutes of vigorous exercise most days of the week? In fact, most credible sources (such as the American Cancer Society) make similar recommendations. Bet you though you could get by with 20 minutes 3 times a week, huh? Two years ago I would have scoffed at the idea of 60 minutes of exercise a day (who has that kind of time?), but I'll tell you what. I get that now (I aim for 90 minutes, 6 days a week, of strenuous exercise), and it doesn't seem like all that much any more. I've found ways to fit it into my schedule and my body LOVES it. It really isn't that big of a deal once you're doing it.

Do you want to know more? Read my favorite book, "The China Study" by T. Colin Campbell. It's based on actual scientific research, it's easy reading, and it's quite eye opening.

Monday, December 7, 2009

The Story of Stuff

As the spending season (gag) descends upon us, it's worth taking a moment to remind ourselves that the things we choose to spend our dollars on have far reaching effects on our planet and the people we share it with.

The Story of Stuff

Now lest anyone accuse me of not doing my patriotic duty by spending my way out of this recession (what?), let me assure you that like any red-blooded American Woman I do enjoy a good shopping spree. But I've become keenly interested lately in using my dollars (my most powerful vote) to support companies and individuals that are making the world better, rather than companies that are producing cheap crap that falls apart after two uses and ends up in a landfill leaching toxins into the earth and water...oh, and polluting third world countries and exploiting their citizens in the process of manufacturing said cheap crap. What we buy matters.

Plus, I choose to express my love for my kids by feeding them nourishing, healthy meals that I create myself, rather than by buying them a ton of toxic crap that will break the second time they play with it. Is that Un-American? I'm starting to think it might be.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Bosc Pear Balsamic Vinaigrette

I had a bosc pear lying around that was just past the point of ripeness that I like for eating, and I was getting a little bored with my usual Goddess Dressing, so I decided to experiment. I just cored and chopped the pear (left the skin on) and pureed it with a few tablespoons each balsamic vinaigrette and olive oil, and a pinch of sea salt and freshly ground pepper. It was super creamy (with no dairy or dairy substitute!), and delish on my salad of mixed baby greens, chopped celery and cucumber, crumbled tofu, steamed broccoli and kalamata olives. Plus all the extra fiber and potassium to bolster my already nutrient dense salad. Win win!