Friday, January 31, 2014

Not by Commandment or Constraint

I saw it today. The beast. The HOLE that is commonly called Negativity -- it sucks people in and spits them out into red-faced ravening wolves, ready to turn on each other and reduce their normal respectful character into beings they wouldn't normally be.

Okay, I exaggerate (as I'm apt to do for a small lift of the corner of your lip--not really a smile, but close enough). But let's just say that I saw and read some things today that shocked me a bit.

I said in a past post that I had never dealt with people truly being offended by my food beliefs, but today, I got it. And I feel like I need to say a few words. Okay, two words: I'm sorry.

I'm sorry that I should have added a footnote to all my spiritual findings, clarifying that these are my findings and my feelings. No, the church has never come out and officially declared exactly how we should eat. The scriptures, quotes, examples, research, and thoughts that I present on this blog . . . that ANY of us present on this blog belong to us as individuals.

Do those of us who choose to eat PBWF (Plant-Based Whole Food), Vegetarian, or Vegan diets judge or condemn others for not? Certainly not. Right now, there's not a single member of the General Authorities who have said that they eat that way, and they are called of God, they are righteous and self-Sacrificing people who are closer to touching the Heavens than I am.

Do I feel impressed to share my beliefs? You betcha. My mom's testimony and how she felt when she deepened her outlook of the Word of Wisdom was one of the first things that made me consider something different. I needed that outside influence. In her own words:

You should know something about myself. I'm 50 years old and for the first time in my life I actually feel good. I know that sounds crazy, but I have suffered with arthritis and obesity much of my adult life. I've tried everything and nothing seemed to work for very long. I made some big changes over a year ago and have lost almost 50 pounds. I was courageous to try something different. But now that I have made such a huge decision in my life, I'm healthier than I've ever been. Such a shame to have waited to find out till I was 50. But mostly, I am surer that ever that Joseph Smith is a prophet. What an amazing man. Now, let me make myself clear. I am not saying that [other decisions are] wrong. I simply have been on a journey, as well as my sweet daughter . . . I will not judge you. Neither with the Lord. In fact, I am sure of it when I say that eating meat will not hold you away from the Celestial Kingdom. But there are somethings that will--how you treat all of God's children. I will say that what you eat is not important. Find what makes you happy. If you are happy, and sure of decisions you have made, then BE HAPPY. BUT if you're not happy then I suggest that you open your mind and find what makes you happy. Then it won't matter what any one else says, you know what makes you happy. I certainly have compassion for you. I've been there. And with love in my heart, I would also hope you find what is important.

She's said many of those things to me over the months and something stirred inside me. Something made me desire more. And now, I find it a great blessing.

How can I, after finding something so great, that makes me so happy, that makes me feel so energized, so healthy, and so much closer to my Lord . . . can I not share it? If I were to share the gospel with a friend who is not a member, I would hope they would not think I was personally attacking and commanding that they change their views. I would hope, that they would perhaps feel that same stirring that I did as a kid, and want to learn more.

This is my motivation behind this blog. Despite the unintended negativity and well-meaning friends, I've had just as many people privately thanking me for sharing my findings and my journey.

The Word of Wisdom was not given to us as a Commandment nor a Constraint (89:2). Portions of it (strong drink, drugs, and hot drinks) were eventually made a commandment for worthy temple members 100 years after the revelation was received.

The rest of it, is 100% up to us. If the things I have shared, have expressed and laughed about have offended you, again, I say: I'm sorry. None of this has ever meant to be a personal attack on anyone's eating habits. As my mom has said, I hope you feel joy in your choices. Really! Our purpose here is to feel JOY! God's purpose is to bring about our JOY! Find it and follow it!

But, please . . . let me share mine :)

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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Food Feature: Asparagus

So, I'm on a date tonight and in my sushi roll I had a long segment of asparagus (LOVE iT!). And my date notices and says something to the effect of, "I know I shouldn't say this at the dinner table, but as good as Asparagus is . . . I know it makes your pee stink."
Uh huh. Thanks :)

But I kinda feel that's maybe all we know about this green twig that grows out of the ground like weird looking green . . . sticks. It makes our pee stink.

So what's so great about it, and why should we eat it?

Asparagus "spears" should probably be considered just as protective as a real weapon. Their javelin-like shape can be symbolic for their disease and age-fighting abilities. In fact, Asparagus has been prized as an epicurean delight and for its medicinal properties for almost 2000 years.

First, this veggie is LOADED with nutrients: with its long stringy fibers, you can know right off the bat that it's an excellent source of fiber. Added to that, you've got folate, vitamins A, C, E and K (that's a LOT of great fat-soluble vitamins). But you've also got chromium, which is a trace mineral that enhances the ability of your insulin to transport glucose from the bloodstream into cells.

Second, this plant—along with avocados, kale, and Brussels sprouts—is a great source of what is called glutathione, which is a detoxifying compound that aids in breaking down carcinogens and other harmful foreign bodies like free radicals (which AGE us). So, eating asparagus may actually help protect against and FIGHT certain forms of cancer, such as bone (a particularly nasty breed...I know, having lost a friend to it), breast, colon, larynx, and lung cancers.

Third, Asparagus is just jam packed with antioxidants. How packed? It ranks among the top fruits and vegetables for its ability to neutralize cell-damaging free radicals. This, according to preliminary research, may help slow the aging process. Want to live over the age of 98 and still enjoy being alive and with your family like Dr. Ellsworth Wareham? I'm not talking bed-ridden and in pain. I'm talking, enjoying life with your posterity!

Fourth, another anti-aging benefit of this springtime veggie is that it helps our brains fight cognitive decline (again, see Dr. Ellsworth above!). Like all leafy greens, asparagus delivers folate which works with vitamin B12 to help prevent cognitive impairment. In a study from Tufts University, older adults with healthy levels of folate and B12 performed better on a test of response speed and mental flexibility. (So make sure you're taking those B12 supplements every day!)

Fifth, and one more benefit of contains high levels of the amino acid asparagine (yeah, lots of big words today), which serves as a natural diuretic (TMI maybe?). Increased urination not only releases fluid, but helps rid the body of excess salts. This is especially beneficial for people who suffer from edema and those who have high blood pressure or other heart-related diseases!

And finally...the moment you've all been waiting for...why does asparagus make your pee stink? Asparagus contains a unique compound that, when metabolized, gives off a distinctive smell in the urine. Young asparagus contains higher concentrations of the compound so the odor is stronger after eating these shoots. There are, however, no harmful effects, either from the sulfuric compounds or the odor! While it is believed that most people produce these odorous compounds after eating asparagus . . . there are actually few people who actually have the ability to detect the smell. So, don't worry.

The most common type of asparagus is green, which you've probably all seen, but just this year, while visiting my Grandparents in Idaho we had white asparagus. There is also a purple variety, which is smaller and fruitier in flavor. So, just pick a type! Asparagus is a tasty vegetable that can be cooked in a variety of ways or enjoyed raw in salads (or veggie sushi!).

Be sure to keep in mind these cooking tips to preserve the functioning antioxidants and keep your preparation healthy:

Roast, grill, or stir-fry your asparagus. These methods cook it quick and will preserve the nutritional content and antioxidant power of asparagus. If you stir-fry use vegetable broth ... not oil:) Enjoy!
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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

World's Best Pizza

When we first started looking for recipes, after Kim and I had made our switch to a plant based diet, I found this yummy pizza recipe from Vegan Richa.  Tonight I had some bread dough in the freezer so I pulled it out and started the pizza, but modified it a bit. This is one of the best vegan pizza recipes I've ever found and the following article contains the modifications--faster and easier to fix.

Vegan Richa
1 recipe of Whole Wheat crust (You can use your own or I'll post another one hear later. Make sure you check back.)
One can of vegan refried beans
1/2 cup of your favorite salsa
Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce, chopped or sliced (I get mine at Winco. Embasa brand.  You only need a few from the can)
Sliced red onions
Pineapple chunks
6 oz can of mushrooms
One batch of Lime Crema (recipe below)
Chopped lettuce (optional)

Spread your Whole Wheat Crust on a sprayed cookie sheet.  You'll want this fairly thin, just less than 1/4 inch. Mix your refried beans and salsa together.  Spread on top of crust. Add your favorite toppings.  I was amazed how yummy the peppers were. Cook in 425 degree oven for 15 minutes. After finished cooking pour some lime crema on top. This will make TWO pizzas. Serve with chopped lettuce on top, if preferred.

Lime Crema:
1 cup of raw cashews
2 limes (you will use both the juice and the zest)
Almond milk (enough to make slightly pourable -- about 1/2 - 1 cup)

Blend the cashews in blender until very crumbly, add juice and zest. Blend again pouring almond milk in a little at a time till right consistency, scraping down sides, re-blending as you go.


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Monday, January 27, 2014


I want one. A Veggie T. A T-shirt that yells to the world, "I LOVE VEGGIES!" but still looks classy and fun. Not cheesy and ugly. So, first of all, I really REALLY want one of these (just in case anyone needs a B-day gift idea for me, I wear a men's size small--click on the image to go to the Etsy Shop):

lettuce turnip the beet - heather grey vneck - men's XS, S, M, L, or XL - custom order

But, I've been thinking, what if . . . hear me out . . . there were Veggie Mormon Ts??? Is that nuts!? I'm thinking that having some screen printed for purchase might be fun (on a made-to-order basis). Since I'm just throwing around this idea, here's a few of the lines I've come up with that might be fun:

Lettuce All Cress On
Apple Go, Apple Do
ETR (Eat The Right)

Not going to lie, it was tough coming up with those. I also came up with a few that might be fun on a non-religious basis:

Chive Talkin’
Apple Always Love You
Beet It
I’m Kind of Big Dill
Lettuce Live
Lettuce Love

Eh? Eh? What other fun Veggie-Lines could you come up with?? And here's a design I kind of mocked up:

P.S. I know . . . I'm a nerd:)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Medications, Illness, God, and Diet

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Mormon Quorum of the...
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Mormon Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (Photo credit: More Good Foundation)
Today in Relief Society, our lesson was on Elder Jeffery R. Holland's Fall 2013 Conference Talk regarding mental health and the spirit. I, like 100% of the other church members across the globe, look forward to his talks above most of the other general authorities. And this time, he again, did not disappoint.

However, there is something about church members' reception of this talk that bothers me, and I want to address it. Now, I'm going to disclose right now that I'm not trying to be insensitive or unfeeling in what I have to say. Having a family member who struggles with Epilepsy, I know the difficulties of physical limitations in that regard. And I'm fully aware that there are illnesses and trials that we may go through that don't have a "quick fix" or "just stop being sad" resolution.

That being said, I feel like a lot of people heard this talk, read it again, and study it in class and come to the conclusion of "it's inevitable. I, and others like me, are dealing with depression, multiple sclerosis, postpartum depression, seasonal affective disorder, high blood pressure, cancer, fibromyalgia, lupus, anxiety, and many other physical ailments . . . and it's okay. As long as I face the issue, take my medication, and lean on Christ, I'll be blessed through this trial."

And that really bothers me.

Again, don't get me wrong, I truly, truly believe that these are not issues to brush off. They need serious help. But with all due respect to what people think Elder Holland was talking about . . . it's not about medicating. Even he said, "If we do not take time to be well, we most assuredly will take time later on to be ill."

But what does it take to be well? I'm afraid that many of us feel like being well consists of continuing to regularly take our medications, eating a "well-balanced" diet of meats, dairy, veggies and the lie that is low-carb, and taking a 30 minute walk every day.

Studies, studies, studies, studies, studies, studies, and more studies have shown that every disease I listed above (depression, MS, postpartum, SAD, high blood pressure, cancer, fibromyalgia, lupus, anxiety, etc.) can be prevented and treated with a plant-based whole foods diet (aka. The Word of Wisdom -- or the way God intends for us to eat). And these are not tales of "I finally have learned how to cope," these are stories of "I got rid of what hung over my head."

Yes, these illnesses are serious. They are not cured with just service towards your neighbor. They aren't cured with working harder and working out. They aren't cured with positive thoughts, prayer alone, or simple faith. They require a fix. Not a medicated mask, but a fix.

And again, I truly hope that you readers don't think I'm judgmental or uncaring. I know that there are even serious mental illness that can not be cured or completely cured.

But so much of it can. And we spend so many of our days "dealing with it." Coping. Trying to find that one shred of strength to get through another day -- when there is a possibility of being set free from the illness and/or the symptoms.

Like I said above, I have a family member who struggles with Epilepsy, and needs to be medicated daily as a protection to the individual, as well as the people around them. Yes, there are cases that are severe enough to require the blessings of modern medicine (I'm not a hippie, remember? I believe in the benefits and blessings of both worlds). In our day in age, however, I also feel we rely too heavily on the "pill fix."

Again, there are times where everything is crumbling around us and real depression can nearly tear us apart.

Life isn't easy.

But are we doing all we can to alleviate the pain?

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Friday, January 24, 2014

Oriental No-Beef Wontons

This recipe . . . is a Veggie Mormon original:)

Last week I made a tofu shiitake mushroom wonton soup. So I had half a package of wonton wrappers left over. By the way, the wonton wrappers I used are the only thing that isn't really a whole food, so if you want whole wheat wonton wrappers (I'll be going to Whole Foods to buy these next time), buy Tang's Whole Wheat Wonton Wrappers.

But ANYWAY . . .

One of my favorite easy things to make is TVP (Textured Vegetable Protein) meat. So naturally, I thought, "TVP . . . Wonton wrappers . . . BEEF WONTONS!"

These would make great appetizers (or . . . since I'm single and I pretty much whatever I want for dinner . . . you can eat like 12 of them at once)!


"Beef" Broth

  • 1 TBS low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 TBS nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 tsp vegan Worcestershire Sauce (I bought mine at Harmons)
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 cup water
TVP "Meat"
  • "Beef" Broth
  • 2 TBS steak sauce
  • 2 TBS low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp orange peel
  • 1 TBS hoisin sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp Chinese 5-spice
  • 1 cup TVP
  • TVP "Meat"
  • 2 diced green onions
  • Fresh Ginger
  • 20 Wonton Wrappers
Preheat the oven to 375° F.

Add everything for the broth into a saucepan, wisk together, and bring to a boil. Turn heat off and add everything needed for the "meat" except for the TVP. Wisk the ingredients together, then add the TVP, stir, and cover for about 5 minutes while the TVP soaks up all the liquid.

Prepare a muffin tin tray by placing the wonton wrappers inside and pressing them into the bottom, creating a bowl-shape. Then, fill with the TVP "meat" and garnish with green onion and grated fresh ginger. Then, bake in the oven for 9 minutes, or until the wontons get crispy and turn brown on the edges. 

And that's it! Hope you like my creation!

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup

Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup |
The Kitchen Paper

Even though it's kind of unseasonably warm for January (in Utah last year, this month and February was just a sequence of bone-chilling days), this is still a perfect time for soup! As I said in my post on Black Beans, I was in the process of making a slow-cooker soup: Black Bean Soup.

This particular recipe comes to us from The Kitchen Paper. Now, not all the recipes on the blog are wholly Plant-Based, but there is a Vegetarian selection.

Not only is it a nice belly-warming meal, but it's got kick, lots of flavor, and the most important perk? It only requires a few steps. When I made this, I started by soaking my beans overnight. In the morning, I put them in the slow cooker with the vegetable broth. Then, when I got home from work, I added the veggies, and was able to complete the last two steps at about 7 pm, ready to eat!

After topping it off with fresh guacamole and cilantro, I was in Heaven! Hope you enjoy it!

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Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Why No Oil?

One of the things that make the Plant-Based Whole Foods approach to living different than your mainstream Vegetarian and Vegan diets, is that every plant-based doctor will tell you NO OIL.

Now, we're not talking stop eating Avocados and Walnuts and all those whole foods that have oils in them, but we're talking the processed oils. This includes each and every bottled oil you can get your hands on.

Flax Seed
Grape Seed

And the list goes on.

But why is that? The article on Pinterest that I read said that Coconut Oil has 10 amazing health benefits? And Dr. Oz just came out to say that Safflower oil helps to decrease belly fat!


Okay, so now that I've made my fart noise joke, one of my favorite Plant-Based Doctors, Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, talks about this very issue in his book, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease (chapter 10 to be exact). And he says this: NO OIL! Not even olive oil, which goes against a lot of other advice out there about so-called good fats. The reality is that oils are extremely low in terms of nutritive value. They contain no fiber, no minerals and are 100% fat calories. And above all they contain saturated fat which immediately injures the endothelial lining of the arteries when eaten. It doesn't matter whether it's olive oil, corn oil, coconut oil or any other kind , avoid ALL oil. 

I really don't think you can get much more basic than that. Fat, is fat, is fat. And Saturated processed fat besides...

Take a deeper look into one of Dr. Esselstyn's talks where he discusses the "NO OIL" policy. BT Dubs, this man is like 81 now. He looks fantastic!

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