Grow Your Own

8 06 2012

One of the great things about this time of the year is the access we have to fresh produce. And while there is plenty to be found at the grocery store, local farm stand and farmer’s market, I need to go no further than outside my door to begin enjoying nature’s bounty. We have several small garden’s going this year and delicious organically grown veggies are quickly on the way.

I recently tried one of our homegrown strawberries. It was tiny but packed such an amazingly intense and sweet flavor, I could not believe it. The giant strawberries purchased at the store have nothing on these little wonders. Since I can remember, I have always loved strawberries. They are my favorite fruit. My grandmother told me a year ago or so that when she and her mother immigrated to the United States from Italy in the 1930’s, they initially went to work picking strawberries. So you see I’ve been genetically programmed to love them. it’s in my blood. I really hope though that we get a decent yield because the few that we have gotten so far have been an absolute (and fantastic tasting) tease!

Speaking of grandparents, mine have their garden in full swing again this year. This means that when I go over to visit them, I always leave with fresh, home grown produce. My grandfather, though in his 80’s, spends a huge amount of time in his garden. It is his pride, joy and therapy. I’ve been enjoying some of their sweet leaf lettuce, red leaf lettuce, and several other varieties. I also am adding fresh dandelion to my salads. While I admit that i’ve never been much of a fan of it, since going plant-based I now try to eat a wide variety of different things in order to keep meals interesting.

The only downside to all of this fresh produce is the washing. I think I had to quadruple wash this latest batch. The piles of dirt at the bottom of the sink were the proof that all of the effort to clean had been necessary.

There is a certain satisfaction that comes from growing your own food both in the taste and the quality. I know that in our garden, the use of compost, compost tea, occasional garden maintenance and regular conversations with the plants goes a very long way towards bigger yields. And the act of gardening itself can be a really nice stress reliever. Admittedly,I have not been the guy who has toiled out in our garden this year. But when I have gotten my hands dirty, I have continued to find a peace that comes with it. As if the generations of landscapers and gardeners of my family have smiled down on me. My great grandfather used to say “a cool breeze is God’s air conditioner”. I think of that often when a slight wind picks up in the midst of harvesting our bounty on a hot summer’s day. I’ll probably never be the gardener that my grandfather is or that his father was before him. But I’m happy to grow what I can. I’m fortunate at the age of 37 to have three living grandparents. Growing your own food and enjoying vegetables and fruits was one of the great things I have learned from them.





A Week of Eating Plant Based

27 03 2012

Enough people have asked me what a typical week of eating plant based foods looks like so I’m going to give you a rough example of mine. As I mentioned yesterday, I’m a creature of habit so this may not offer enough variety for some. But truly, your week’s menu is only limited by your imagination. With the internet, it’s never been easier to go plant based. There are tons of sites for recipes out there. Eat the plant based foods that you like and start building from there. Eating this way, takes time. On a sunday night, it can take up to 90 minutes to prepare veggies to have for lunch that week. It can be a pain but it is worth it. Don’t forget your B12 supplements!

Breakfasts – Cheerios! There are healthier cereals out there I am sure but I’ve always liked these since I was a little guy. I can eat them dry on the go or with coconut milk (I have the unsweetened stuff, try it for a week, you will get used to it). Organic Steel Cut Oats is another option. Raw vegetables or grilled / sauteed zucchini (one of natures most perfect anti-inflammatory foods is the perfect way to start the day). Breakfast is a good time to have fruit. Many mornings I will have a veggie wrap….with mustard!

Lunches – Wraps – I love them (although I admit it’s getting a little old lately). A raw veggie salad with a mustard and balsamic dressing (I go through an amazing amount of lettuce each week). Cabbage, broccoli rabe, lentil or split pea soup. Vegan pad thai or another one of Dr. McDougall’s packaged vegan meals (found in many health food aisles in the grocery store, I try to limit the processed stuff but this doesn’t seem too bad and low sodium options are sometimes available). Sometimes hummus or baba ganoush. Stack of tomato slices with layered basil (I most often go oil-less). Broccoli slaw.

Snacks – raw veggies (peppers, string beans, carrots, cucumbers and/or celery (a negative calorie food). Fruit – an apple a day…., seeds and nuts. Dry roasted edamame (I live on this stuff – high in protein and fiber but not fat). Dry roasted chick peas and similar snack foods can be found at your local Wegmans, Whole Foods or health food shops. Vegan pumpkin muffins, homemade vegan fruit bars.

Dinners – Vegan stuffed peppers with ground soy “meat”, brown rice, quinoa, beans, corn and tomato sauce (make 4 at a time and get several meals out of it). vegan tacos or taco salads. Soups and salads. Black beans (or other) with hot sauce and liquid smoke (a great simple, quick and tasty way to get your protein and fiber). Pasta is an awesome treat when eating this way (just check the labels). Grilled veggie sandwich on crusty italian bread (I’m limiting my bread but this is too good to pass up once a week). Veggie burgers or similar products like chik’n nuggets, hot wings, etc.(read the labels) about once a week for a little variety. Veggie stir fry. Sautéed veggies in veggie broth.

Give it a try for three weeks and see how you feel. I’m willing to bet that if you go completely plant based for three weeks , by the time you are done you will have lost weight, and feel a whole lot better with increased energy and well-being. And if you find that it is not for you, at least your body will be thankful. You can do totally do this, if you put your mind to it.

besides, you don’t want to eat this anymore, do you?:





A Delicious New Take on Soup and Salad

19 02 2012


I’ve been eating an awful lot of veggie wraps lately and they have been delicious.  I’ve enjoyed all sorts of variations of peppers, bok choy, broccoli rabe, mushrooms, lettuce and sprouts.   Here’s a pic  of the veggies that were going into one of my recent wraps.  Doesn’t that look fabulous?!

The wraps themselves have been high in fiber while low in fat and calories.  But my weight has leveled a bit and I need to switch it up and get some more variety this week.  I’ve recently got a hold of some wonderful plant-based cookbooks that are giving me some excellent ideas.

In the northeast US right now, it’s fairly cold.  And nothing beats the chill like a nice warm homemade bowl of soup.  I’m looking for something different though and I think I’m going to give this a try and see how it goes:  Broccoli Rabe  Soup!  I don’t know what it is about Broccoli Rabe but I am just absolutely crazy for the stuff.  Through the course of last week, I ate three heads of it.  I know, I just said I need to switch it up, but I’m not letting go of my Broccoli Rabe!   I’m going to add carrots and onion chopped very finely, lots and lots of garlic, mashed white beans as a thickener and then add some seasoning to my veggie stock. I’m going to let that simmer for a few hours and then add trimmed and chopped broccoli rabe!  I imagine you could substitute  escarole, spinach or kale if you prefer one of those.

I’m also going to make a Roman-Style Marinated Broccoli Salad.  It’s really quick and easy.  You take a package of broccolislaw (big time saver), add 3 chopped plum tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar and season to taste.  Combine, sprinkle with a bit of parsley  and then refrigerate for several hours.  This will be a really nice side salad to that soup.

I can’t wait to make these.  I’ll let you know how it goes.  Pics to come!








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