Since Scott is out of the country, I had more time than usual to spend with the girls this weekend. Friday night started with a Jewelry Party and turned into a sleepover with my friend Amanda. Since we were both husband-less for the weekend, I decided to stay at her place Saturday night for another one.
When I got to Amanda’s Saturday, she was just finishing up dinner after cooking with a friend. Stephanie introduced her and I to a book called Forks Over Knives: The Plant-Based Way to Health.
After watching the video documentary, Stephanie and her husband purchased the book and have vowed to live the lifestyle the book suggests. I see this lifestyle as mostly vegan, and this instantly intrigued me.
Forks Over Knives advocates a plant-based diet using whole foods. The diet is meant to follow on a a consistent, every day basis, using minimally processed plants, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, tubers, and legumes. Animal-based foods such as meat (including poultry and fish), dairy, and eggs are excluded or minimized as well as refined foods such as bleached flour, refined sugar, and oil – forksoverknives.com.
After spending some time on the website, I now know I need to see this film. I like to think I live a healthy lifestyle, but what exactly defines healthy?
I know I am on the right track, but knowing the facts behind where our food comes from is another story. Here is a trailer for the video documentary to help explain further:
I substitute egg-whites for whole eggs, use low and reduced-fat dairy products, but I know I am not fully aware of what chemicals or harmful substances come along with my substitutions. Does low-fat instantly mean healthy? If it is full of artificial flavor and sugars, then no.
I recently made a switch from using Splenda to Stevia. I know, I know – it’s about time I figured that one out. But you know, not everyone is there yet. Still confused? Here is an informative article about artificial sweeteners, by Marcelle Pack, OB/GYN NP.
*Cliff Notes version: To avoid harmful chemicals such as sucralose, aspartame and saccharin, use natural alternatives to artificial sweeteners; i.e. Stevia.
There are articles upon articles about foods and products I should and should not be buying. Dedicated to living a healthy lifestyle, I am on a journey to discover new things and implement as much knowledge as I can into my every day diet.
My biggest challenge, as many of you probably encounter, is the price of organic, raw, whole foods. I understand the importance of shopping this way, but I am still struggling to get Scott there with me. After sending this article his way, I am happy to say I have the green light to purchase organic milk from here on out, which is a start.
But according to Forks Over Knives, I don’t even need it.
It’s all about what works best for you in your everyday life. For me, I am just not ready to give up dairy products. I enjoy a tall glass of organic skim milk and an array of yogurts and cheeses on a daily basis. My end goal is not to go completely vegan, but fall into a eating routine I can stay constant with that works the best for me.
I am not a huge meat fan, but enjoy it every now and then. I often make vegetable or vegan substitutions, but do not consider myself of either of those diets.
Forks and Knives Recipes
The dinner Amanda and Stephanie were finishing up when I came over included three recipes, straight from the book. I missed the cooking portion of the evening, but had no problem enjoying the taste testing part of the evening.
The first recipe is adapted from the original Mushroom Au Gratin recipe. Modifications include using purple potatoes, portabello mushrooms, kale, and green onion. They stuck to the same sauce, and even made a little extra.
4-5 large Yukon potatoes, sliced thinly
8 large white or crimini mushrooms, sliced thinly 1 yellow onion, sliced thinly
1 bunch chard
½ bunch fresh basil (about 20 leaves), roughly chopped
1/3 cup raw cashews
1 cup water
½ cup non-dairy milk
½ cup parsley leaves
2 green onions, diced
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1. In a high-speed blender, grind the cashews by themselves first; then add the water, soy milk, parsley, green onions and garlic powder and blend thoroughly. Set aside.
2. To prepare the vegetables, using a mandolin slicer with the thin slicing blade (as if you were making potato chips), slice the potatoes, mushrooms and onion, and set aside in separate bowls.
3. Remove the thickest stems from the chard leaves, and rough chop the basil. Wash both and set aside.
4. In a 13”x9” rectangular glass baking dish, layer vegetables in this order, starting with a thin layer of sauce in the bottom of the dish (you do not need to oil or prepare the pan): potatoes, mushrooms, onions, basil, chard, sauce.
5. Add a second layer of vegetables and sauce, then finish with a final layer of potatoes, pouring the last bit of sauce over the top.
6. Cover with aluminum foil and bake at 400 degrees for 35 minutes.
7. Remove the foil and cook an additional 15 minutes until lightly browned (optional: grind some cashews on top first).
8. Remove and let sit for at least 5 minutes before serving.
Split Pea Soup
1 onion chopped
1 ½ cups split peas
2 large carrots, shredded
10 cups water
2 table spoons vegetable powder
Salt and black pepper optional
Fresh parsley, optional
1. Sauté the onion in a large pot with a little water until yellow.
2. Add the split peas, carrots and water and bring to a boil.
3. Add the vegetable powder and reduce heat.
4. Simmer for about 1 hour.
5. Add salt and pepper to taste.
6. Serve warm, garnished with a little chopped parsley.
Raw Vegan Carrot Cake
1 cup organic raisins
1 large or 2 medium carrots, finely grated
2 cups whole walnuts, chopped finely
1/2 cup organic shredded coconut
1 tablespoon tahini
1/4 cup maple syrup (or less – usually just a splash will do)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
pinch of cloves
1 cup cashews
juice from 1 lemon
1/8 to 1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. For the “cream cheese” icing: Puree the cashews, lemon juice, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and a splash of water in a blender at high speed to create a smooth, creamy, thick consistency.
2. For the cake: Soak the raisins in spring water until plump, then rinse and finely chop.
3. Put into a large bowl and add the carrots, walnuts, coconut, tahini, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves.
4. Mix well, then press the mixture firmly into a small round pan or glass pie dish.
5. Let sit for at least an hour. Frost with “cream cheese” icing and serve.
Food For Thought
I had never really tried any kind of raw, no-bake dessert before. I often see pictures pop up on blogs and articles, but have never really dug into fresh, raw ingredients that I am used to tasting warm.
The first bite was different, but after that I knew what to expect and thoroughly enjoyed the taste. I didn’t miss the warm, baked goodness I normally expect with a carrot cake and actually enjoyed tasting every ingredient.
Whenever I see a meal that has “(quote) what it is supposed to resemble” around it, I try to keep an open mind and appreciate the food for what it is, not what it isn’t. I think many of us are quick to judge healthier alternatives too quickly. If a vegetarian “black bean burger” doesn’t taste like a grilled burger, we easily dismiss the idea of using vegetable or vegan replacements for meat in the future.
My best advice to try to incorporate healthy alternatives into an every day diet is to keep your mind and palate open. Do not go into trying a new food or recipe with high expectations. Give credit to the food for what it is, and enjoy the “veggie burger” taste over a burger.
I repeatedly tell this to Scott and I am proud of him for trying more and more every day. Now if I could only get him on board with tofu…
Questions of the Day
Have you ever heard of this documentary/cookbook?
What are your thoughts on living off of a plant-based, whole foods diet?
Xiomara @ Parkesdale
Be careful when choosing your organic milk. Most organic milk in the US is ultra pasteurized, meaning any healthy bacteria is removed during the pasteurization process. Here’s a good article about it. http://www.thesweetbeet.com/ultra-high-temperature-pasteurization/
Great article Xiomara, thanks for sharing! I didn’t know about UP, so I’m glad I do now. 🙂
I have been purchasing a lot of organic foods ever since I met a teacher friends years ago. I was always very interested in this lifestyle, and loved learning about foods and what we were really eating. For a while, I was strictly organic and only shopped at whole foods. But I realized that for my wallets sake, I needed to buy some things at Publix that weren’t as necessary to buy organic.
I am not a meat eater either, but will eat chicken and fish- I very rarely eat red meat. I don’t like the texture. I always, always, always buy my meat from whole foods. It’s better quality and i know I am safe there (so i think 😉 ) All my produce and dairy, except for cheese, I buy
I don’t think I could go vegan, because I love dairy too much! Have you seen Food, Inc? I’ll check out this documentary you posted about 🙂
Those are some great rules to go by when shopping organic. Like I said above, I’m not sure I could go vegan either. Props to all the strict, consistent vegans out there! 😉
Hi again Heather. Forks Over Knives is a phenomenal documentary! I loved it because it isn’t pushy at all – it just gives you the facts. I was already vegan when I watched it but I recommend it to a lot of people. For me, my transition has been about finding what works for me. Due to schedule and other circumstances I sometimes cheat and will eat fish. This isn’t “vegan” but it has been my groove I’ve found. Definitely rent the movie – it will make you look at everything in a new way!
Thanks for you input Vanessa! Now I HAVE to track it down. Is it available to rent just like any other blockbuster? I totally understanding “cheating” when you need to. You don’t have to be 100% vegan all of the time to feel good about your health. Finding a plan that works for you is the best you can do!
I agree! We rented it on netflix. Other great ones to watch if you haven’t already are Food Inc. and King Corn. Earthlings is also a very powerful movie, but I will warn you it is very, very difficult to watch. But if you are up for it, it is something we should all be aware of… Good luck on your quest to learn more!
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