Monday, April 30, 2007

Soup glorious soup

I love this time of year! Today will reach almost 90 (60's at night), drop to a high of 71 by Thursday UPDATE: It is Thursday and it didn't reach 70: chilly, windy, with rain drizzle made it pretty chili and good soup weather again. I have heard the saying that if you don't like the weather we have this time of year, don't worry it will by greatly different tomorrow. This is normal for my location. Also, I have finally had the veggies, time, and motivation to try some soup from a couple of blogs I enjoy reading. I copied, pasted, and e-mailed the recipes to myself when I saw them and have kept them in my in box as new so that I would not forget I wanted to try them (hey, gotta remember somehow).

The first recipe I made comes from Catherine at Albion Cooks. I noticed it was similar to a recipe I really liked called "Give me strength" soup that calls for split red lentils and cauliflower, yet a different take on it. I like this one very well also, I will make it again for sure...
Red Lentil Soup (click the title for her original recipe)

Here is my take on the recipe ...

1 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
4 carrots, cut into thin 3/4" - 1' fingers
1/2 cup minced green pepper
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
3 cups water plus 1 1/2 cubes Knoor vegetarian vegetable bouillon
1/2 cup red lentils
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp roasted sesame oil
1 cup cauliflower, cut into small florettes
1 cup rinsed canned red beans

Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan and saute the onions for 3 minutes. Add the carrot and cook 2 additional minutes. Add the vegetable bouillon cubes, water and lentils, turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Turn down to a simmer and add the remaining ingredients. Simmer for 20 minutes, partially covered. Salt. If the broth is too thick for your liking, add additional water. Check seasoning. Serve.

I made a mistake reading the recipe and actually ended up with only three cups of liquid added to the soup. The thicker soup made me feel like I was getting a heartier meal. I am eating the leftovers for lunch today along with an apple and a tablespoon of cashew butter to dip it in. Yum!

I also finally tried the Quinoa-Peanut Veggie Soup (from Africa) ... the one I tried came was posted by Odd Tofu Mom (the recipe name link will take you there). This is a bit spicy, but wonderfully different. I did not have access to fresh zucchini, so I subbed and added finely chopped green bell pepper... I thought that chopped cabbage could also be a good sub but I did not have any. I did use 1/2 tsp dried jalepeno peppers (purchased from the spice section) and left out the cayenne pepper called for. Although I am pretty sure that to be true to it's origin it is supposed to be neutral colored, but I added some of the red beans leftover from the first soup to give it a little color boost. I liked this soup well enough to eat some and freeze in small portions for future use, but the family is not accustomed to the spice and texture combination.


I planted broccoli and cauliflower about two weeks ago. They are dead and didn't even bother to say goodbye. One day they were there and the next day.... just gone. I have never had a problem with fluffy bunnies before, but then pup was always around chasing them off. Now that pup is gone, fluffy bunny may have gone to far. Fluffy bunny if you happen to be reading my blog you need to know that I have never been a selfish gardener, I have always shared my produce generously. Considering I had over 30 plants, more than enough, I would have been willing to share one or two with you, maybe even three or four. But you my friend cannot have them all! I will buy more plants of course, but you are no longer invited to my garden until you learn some manners.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Auto immune disease ramblings ...

Med Research 101 today. Welcome to class.

I have been reading about erica's fast on her blog. The fast is her attempt at ending some chronic pain that has been a part of her life. She started a rotation diet some time ago with this same mission, but has not yet achieved a level of health that she has been hoping for. I have been watching this because I have been diagnosed with an auto-immune disease called sarcoidosis and other than taking a steroid with very nasty side effects the doctor can offer no more help. As I have done a little research on how the naturopathic world would handle things I see that a vegan diet is primarily recommended. I know that some autoimmune diseases might be considered environmental/ lifestyle induced, however sarcoid has strong genetic factors which I must offer a sarcastic thanks to a dad, his sister, and my sister --- it affects our lungs the most.
Gallstones in the liver and gallbladder reduce the amount of bile necessary to digest food properly. ... Much of the undigested food begins to ferment and putrefy, leaving toxic waste matter in the blood and lymph .... These molecules have a strong acidifying effect on the blood. To avoid a life-threatening disease or coma, the blood must rid itself of these minute toxins. Accordingly, it dumps these unwanted intruders into the connective tissue of the organs. The connective tissue is a gel-like fluid (lymph) that surrounds the cells. The cells are 'bathed' in the connective tissue. Under normal circumstances, the body knows how to deal with acidic waste material that has been deposited in the connective tissue. It releases an alkaline product, sodium bicarbonate NaHCO3, into the blood that is able to retrieve and neutralize the acidic toxins and eliminate them through the excretory organs. This emergency system, however, begins to fail when toxins are deposited faster than can be retrieved and eliminated. Consequently, the connective tissue may become as thick as jelly; nutrients, water and oxygen can no longer pass freely and the cells of the organs begin to suffer malnutrition, dehydration and oxygen deficiency.

Some of the most acidic compounds are proteins from animal foods. Excessive proteins are temporarily stored in the connective tissues and then converted into collagen fiber. The collagen fiber is built into the basement membranes of the capillary walls. Consequently, the basement membranes may become ten times as thick as normal.
This info comes from ENER CHI WELLNESS CENTER (the bolded words are my emphasis). Although found amongst information about a uninary tract system, I found the explanation of what happens to toxins in the body being "dumped" into the connective tissues (joints) of importance to my own understanding of a process that may be occurring causing other problems. I also realize that gallstones are not the issue for most, but undigested food in the body system is also known as food allergy as the immune system begins to attack these "foreign" large molecules of food that cannot be absorbed properly. As people age and in many auto immune diseases achey, painful joints are an issue. I have also read about how cancer survives in an acid environment, although cancer is not my issue it appears that it and auto-immune diseases with achey, painful joints have acid environments in common.

I know that Dr. Joe Fuhrman is a recognized name for vegan food bloggers thanks to the lunchox gal Jennifer Schmoo. The following information actually came from a site called Here's their intro, "Dr. Joel Fuhrman, M.D. has spent much of his professional life treating disease by fasting his patients. He has an entire chapter in his book, Fasting and Eating for Health, dedicated to the subject of autoimmune disease. He is convinced that fasting with subsequent dietary changes is a much superior approach to autoimmune disease than conventional treatments."

ON FASTING (click for a link to original site)

The human body is designed with the capacity to fast. Although fasting is safe as well as effective, it is advisable to be under medical supervision when on any extended fast.

"Man lives on one quarter of what he eats. On the other three quarters lives his doctor."
- Inscription on Egyptian pyramid, 3800 BC.

Fasting is very different to malnutrition. A poor quality diet consumed for a month results in a lowered state of health. Fasting, on the other hand, gives the body the opportunity to cleanse and heal itself. When free from the responsibilities of digestion, the capacity for self-restoration is enhanced.

  • Fasting leads to detoxification and improvement in organ function simultaneously.
  • Fasting often achieves results where other methods have failed.
  • Therapeutic fasting accelerates the healing process and allows the body to recover from serious disease in a dramatically short period of time.
  • Fasting is inexpensive and universally available
Sometimes when people try to make major dietary changes without the benefit of fasting they become frustrated. Beneficial changes that can take months or years with careful eating happen quickly if a fast is utilized. Once a person begins to realize the health potential and can see the results, he or she is more likely to become committed to a lifetime of healthful living.

Nature tells us to fast. When we have no appetite during an acute illness, fasting is nature's way to accelerate recovery. Feeding the sick individual when his digestive powers are diminished only serves to further complicate the illness.

Function; Reasons For Use
During an acute viral illness, fasting activates white blood cells and causes more interferon to be produced.

Conditions responding to fasting include: Headaches, hypoglycemia, diabetes, autoimmune diseases, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, acne and eczema, tinnitus, vertigo, fibromyalgia, glaucoma, cervical dysplasia, chronic neck and back pain, polymyalgia rheumatica, and many others.

Physicians who have used this approach have recorded improvement or recovery from conditions of every description that patients had been needlessly suffering with for years. Besides the diseases already mentioned, one should assume that in the vast majority of chronic medical conditions this approach may give the disease sufferer the best chance to achieve a complete recovery and avoid a lifetime of suffering or medical treatments.

The withdrawal symptoms of addiction to such drugs as alcohol, cocaine, nicotine and caffeine are resolved quickly while fasting. Most people are amazed at how easy it is to quit smoking while fasting. Those who have fasted begin to respect their body in a new way that enables them to take better care of themselves in the future.

When non-human animals feel sick, they do not eat. Listen to your body when you are sick and have no appetite. Fast for a few days, then proceed to a light diet of fruit and salad vegetables for a few days and you will quickly recover your health.

Conditions for which fasting is not recommended include extreme weakness or debilitation, severe anemia, nutritional deficiencies, porphyria, evidence of weakened kidney or liver function, and pregnancy. Malnourished patients with cancer or AIDS should not fast. Medications should be tapered and discontinued prior to fasting whenever possible.

References & Further Information
A very useful book is Fasting and Eating for Health, A Medical Doctor's Program For Conquering Disease. by Joel Fuhrman, MD. 1995.

I made some great chocolate raisin bran muffins with cardamom, but I added a little to much oat flour. They didn't rise much and were a little dry. I crumbled them up onto a baking sheet and baked them at 25o degrees F in the oven until they were crunchy. I have been sprinkling this on top of my soy yogurt and fresh strawberries Yum! Less calories (but tastier) than granola.

I made my muffins using stevia and applesauce. Without the oat flour I am usually very pleased. I will post my stevia sweetened bran muffin result soon. (I even have pictures!) I remade my muffins without the oat flour and am having one with a large bowl of lentil soup with greens added for lunch.

Friday, April 20, 2007

It's time...

I will tell you what it is at the end of this post.


I feel like an expectant mother who has been waiting for her first born to arrive. The weather has been right and the ground ideal to begin planting again. Armed with my mantis tiller, onion hoe, 4 tine cultivator and sack of seeds to plant I have visions of wonderful produce dancing in my head. The two small, barely visible yellow packets say PEAS, one kind in Sugar Anne and the other Mr Big Pea. Some people get into flowers and yea, I do enjoy these but vegetables fulfil the practical side of me perfectly.

I recruited my mom and niece to help me plant yellow onions. I have three rows which were planted about 1 inch apart so I can thin them while harvesting young onions with greens. We cannot start large onions that can be stored for winter use from seed here because our zone 4 growing season is not long enough so we use bulbs or "sets" for that purpose. I personally have not had much luck with red onions, which I'm not sure why yet and I usually do not use the white onions. I have heard there is flavor differences, but I am satisfied with the foods I have.... except vidalia onions are super sweet. I will buy these on occasion (when they are "in season" at out grocery store at a reasonable price).

Right now I have planted premium green top broccoli plants even though I prefer packman type, snowball cauliflower plants, nappa cabbage, salad bowl lettuce plants, 2 kinds of peas (edible pod and the kind that needs shelled), cylinder beets, and Yukon gold potatoes.
I like English breakfast radish which have a very mild flavor. I am going to wait to plant these for a couple of weeks because they have a short harvest time and I like these esp well in fresh salads. Soon I will have rhubarb and asparagus coming up as well as oregano and marjoram in my herb bed... these come back each year with little assistance. Corn and green beans (planted every three weeks up through August) will wait until the first week of May while tomatoes and green pepper plants will wait until the first of June with chard. Turnips will be planted in June plants and Brussels sprouts near the end of July for a mid to end October harvest because they can stand a good frost and have a better flavor when they get it.

This has become a staple for my regular lunch at work. It is simply a rectangular Tupperware container that holds my salad which I like to top with a container of balsamic vinegar combined with a little salt and stevia. It is made from romaine lettuce, shredded purple cabbage, carrots, fresh mushrooms, and oven baked flavored tofu. I prefer to get my fats in with a square of dark chocolate (not pictured) instead of in salad dressing. Complete the meal with an apple which I usually eat mid morning.
Here is another meal...

This one comes from Dreena's Everyday Vegan. Chickpea Sweet potato casserole served with 1/2 a whole grain wrap rolled around a lettuce leaf with apricot mustard (I made this). I like to add currants into this stew which offers a little color boost. I ended the meal with some chopped fruit (apples, apricots, dates, and currants over leftover brown rice. I sprinkled it with a sweet lime juice, cardamom, and almonds.

It was good.

On a side note I want to mention that my 90+ year old granmother is in a nursing home. She is blind due to two strokes that have also limited her mobility. Her mind is excellent and she loves good company to talk with. It saddened me when I stopped for a brief visit and she said she enjoyed the visit because conversation helps her to feel alive, she doesn't get much otherwise. I have since made it a point to stop regularly to tell her what I am doing with my day. She loves to hear about the garden and often shares stories that certain vegetables remind her of. I think get just as much from the visit as she does. If I would make a list of things that would become well known for a friendly and peaceful lifestyle, visiting nursing homes and talking to a few residents would be one that list. Peace!

And now for the revealing of the above utensil . . .

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Easter . . . Snow?!

This is the facts of living in my Midwestern town even though it is more than one month into spring. April showers are supposed to bring May flowers... no one said anything about April SNOW! This is a picture of green grass topped with white snow. Right now we have an inch and could receive anywhere from 3 - 12 inched today (we got 7 inches). Another sad fact about where I live is that March 26th and 27th we had beautiful sunny skies and temperatures near 80.

Garden Update....
I didn't get the potatoes planted Saturday like I had hoped because it was raining, now behind schedule some however this is not a big deal, I'll still have potatoes. I will be buying broccoli and cauliflower plants already started so these are okay to, I should be still be harvesting about mid June. This is last year's herb bed (and a great dog named pup who is no longer with us), I will post it now for motivation to hang in there a little longer. If I don't I am sure that I would be running off to California or Seattle soon and then you would never see me in blog land because I wouldn't be cooped up inside avoiding our ever changing weather.

Things that make life fun....
Matthew was in an Easter play which we attended Good Friday night, part 1, and Sunday morning , part 2 @ 6:30 am. Part 1 was the traditional Good Friday type play. Part 2 was the resurrection story investigated Dragnet style (a show from the 50's). Matt is the one in glasses. He is wearing a traditional Judea robe under his "Dragnet style" white shirt/ black tie. The play was really cute and if others knew Matt like we do they would realize he was not really acting..... that is his type of humor! His senior prom is coming up. My 6'3" baby boy is again taking a 4'6" little red headed girl for a date (I really think Charlie Brown, Matt's hero, and his little red headed girl has really affected him.)

I consider myself a family food blogger, so the fact the food follows all the above is not to out of the normal. I have three food pictures to share, considering that I eat at least three times a day and have not blogged in about 8 days = 24 meals, yet I have only three to share..... my diet as of late has been pretty boring. However, what I did do with the burritos will become a staple because I do love the convenience.

A NICE STOCK OF THEM IN THE FREEZER (this recipe makes 4, but I quadruple it)
I had some TVP taco meat filling leftover in the freezer that I wanted to get used up. I actually prepared it and weighed into a 1 lb package for ease of use later, sure a little fuss but I was happy for the ease of preparation when I made these. I also remember awhile back I was hankering some store bought vegan burritos, but decided that the cost was not worth it. Being a die hard "do it your-selfer" here's my filling recipe....
1 C chopped onion
1 1/2 Tbsp garlic crushed
1 - 14.5 oz can of black beans
1 - 7 oz can of whole kernel corn
1/2 C salsa
1/4 C plain soy yogurt, optional OR use veg refried beans
1 1 /2 Tbsp Smokey Mesquite Seasoning
Saute onions and garlic in a non-stick pan, when browned add corn, black beans, salsa and seasoning. Cook about 2 minutes until all is warmed. Add refried beans (or yogurt is you choose) and cook until mixture is thickened. Add 1/4 of mixture to a tortilla and top with 2 Tbsp soy cheese. Fold in sides, roll up, allow to cool, wrap, and freeze.

I originally got the recipe seasoning idea from a weight watchers core forum that I used to read some time ago, I believe they calculate at 4 points each. I put 1/2 cup of the filling into a whole wheat wrap, fold, wrap in saran wrap individually, and put into a freezer bag. Then when I want one I take it out, remove the saran wrap, and microwave on a plate for one "frozen entree" setting and it is wonderful. I usually top it with homemade salsa, serve with a side salad and follow-up with a square of dark vegan chocolate.

A Little Indian...
This picture is a little steamy, but about as good as the picture. I made it using a recipe in The Enlightened Kitchen cookbook which called it an Indian dish. However it did not use any typical Indian seasonings like curry powder. Although the dish was okay, I was a little disappointed by lack of true Indian flavor which I have come to like, although my family is a little slow to come around. I know they will eventually ... they did with Chinese style stir-fry's a number of years ago.
Last foody picture, an eggroll laptop lunch with a side of tropical veggies and a nice romaine salad topped with carrots and sliced mushrooms. I have salad dressing in the little container. I haven't actually used my laptop lunchbox in a month or so. I found a salad container that I like better so I can take bigger salads. I also have access to a frig now.... next year I will probaly not use my box at all. I will have five kitchens in my room along with 30 sewing machines. I don't regret buying it though.

Sophie likes to sit in the sun on my desk. Here she is comfortably a glow.