Friday, June 29, 2012

Re-thinking Food

The other day I had the opportunity to see Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr. M.D. speak at a local event. I had read his book Prevent And Reverse Heart Disease last year as soon as Brennis was released from the hospital. I really didn't take it too seriously then. I had enough on my plate without having to try to figure out how to change our diets so drastically. Dr. Esselstyn advocates a diet that excludes all meat, dairy, eggs, oil & nuts. It is pretty much the exact diet I am now eating but back then it seemed crazy. The science behind his diet, however, is something you simply cannot argue with. If you have heart disease and you haven't considered Dr. Esselstyn's approach to treating disease through diet you might want to think about reading his book.

After Dr. Esselstyn spoke, his wife, Ann did a presentation on how to make these changes in the real world....the kitchen! She had tons and tons of great advice and lots of recipe ideas but she also was smart enough to know that everyone would come to this diet on their own terms and in their own way. She kept saying...."Try it, and if you don't like that try something else!"

I have been cooking vegan food without oil for several months now and I didn't start by using Ann's recipes. I just found my way slowly over time and using some great vegan bloggers as guides. The other night Ann opened up another new world to me and once again my culinary world expanded. Lettuce is not just for salads, greens don't have to be boiled with a ham hock, hummus can be used as a condiment. I wasn't eating the same things so why should I eat the things I was now eating the say way I was eating the old food?

I am a vegan for many reasons and they are all personal to me. If you are already a vegan or considering becoming a vegan (or vegetarrian) you are doing it for your own reasons. The roads we took here are not as important as the fact that it has dropped us off at nearly the same place. That's one of the reasons I started this blog. I felt it was important to share my experience with other people. Along with that I wanted to share some ideas that I come across from time to time that I find interesting, If you find them interesting too I hope you will share as well.

One very simple idea that Ann gave last week involved the fact that she and her husband believe that we should be eating a LOT of leafy green vegetables. I have become a fan of leafy green vegetables but honestly there are only so many salads you can eat. Kale is one of the most nutritious greens there are but I really don't enjoy eating it raw and sometimes It's hard for me to work it into recipes. Ann's suggestion? Chop up some kale and throw it in the water with your pasta while your pasta's cooking and when it's done you have cooked pasta and cooked kale and you can add whatever you want to them (chopped tomatoes, beans, black olives, etc).

I simply boiled whole wheat linguini and two minutes after I put the pasta in I put the kale in. When the pasta was done so was the kale. I suddenly had a delicious, healthy bowl of pasta that I could have fun with. This time I added a bit of steamed cabbage, beets and a spoonful of hummus to add some extra flavor. This was something I would never have thought of before I was a vegan.

So many people tell me that they wouldn't become a vegan because it is too limiting. I used to think the same thing but I find the opposite to be true. Since I've stopped eating meat and dairy my culinary world has opened up in ways I never imagined. The next time you're in the kitchen look at your ingredients in a different way. I can't wait to see what I make for dinner tomorrow! It will probably be a nice surprise.

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