Sunday, January 31, 2016

Forks over Knives, with black bean salsa

Finally the time came to watch Forks over Knives, the brilliant documentary about the vegan life style, which for me ties it all together. I already have the FOK recipe app on my phone, which is a tremendous inspiration for recipes. Then there is also the Engine2Diet site and book - and there are the excellent books by Dr. Esselstyn, In short, sources of inspiration to learn vegan cooking abound.

What an inspiration to see people who dump a whole regimen of medications, and instead simply commit to eating a healthy, vegan diet. I have now had that same experience myself twice, the first time, almost thirty years ago, I asked my doctor exactly what a certain allergy medication did (it was Claritin), and when he explained it, I said don't even bother writing the prescription - all it does is suppress the symptoms. I was determined to find the cause instead, and, besides drinking more water, after trying numerous supplements that promise to boost glutathione (GSH), which is the core of your immune system, I ended up on the advice of a biochemist friend using Jarrow's NAC Sustain, which is a sustained release N-Acetyl Cysteine, combined with a 500 mg Glycine, at a combined cost of less than $10 per month. Not only did my allergies go away, I have barely had a cold to speak of ever since then, and that was 25 years ago. The poor doctor would have had me on Claritin from then on out. The same thing happened again at my physical in 2014, when the doctor found me 'slightly overweight' at 190 lbs, and marginally hypertensive, I took the BP meds for a while, but by May 2015, I went vegan instead, and without effort I'm down to 166 lbs, and feeling noticeably better and I am sure at my next physical I will pass with flying colors.

Clearly, the economics are that we cannot afford to continue the SAD, Standard American Diet, which by the way was similar to the SDD, the Standard Dutch Diet that I was raised on. Despite being raised a vegetarian, there was a deep conviction that animal proteins in the form of milk were essential. Now it is clear, animal proteins promote cancer growth, plant-based proteins do not, and the over-consumption of fats and sugars feed into diabetes and heart disease. The whole ED-epidemic is just an early warning signal of compromised circulatory systems, and the canary in the coalmine for heart disease. In short, the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries thrive on sick-care, preserving illness and tending to more and more sick people, who follow the USDA dietary guidelines, which serve the agricultural industry, instead of worthwhile nutrition and healthy eating habits. I've looked more deeply into the environmental economics recently, in a parallel post on my green energy blog, here.     

I definitely use all of the resources listed above, and more, for inspiration, and recently I also visited a vegan supper club in the Bronx, on Meetup that is hosted at a private home in the Throggs Neck section (still walking distance for me). What an inspiration that was! And the experience of many people is that once they make the change, they make it quickly and lose the urge to go back, because they feel so much better. My own private little vegan joke is that the butcher on my street has a daughter who's vegan, and admits that meat is heavy to digest, but like so many who never seriously tried, he feels like he didn't eat if he did not have meat. He is a very nice man, whose store has been there for 50 years, and even now I stop in for a chat periodically, even if I don't eat meat any more. He's going to retire sooner than later, and who knows, maybe he'll switch to vegan too, that would be hoot.

As part of the further exploration for vegan shopping in the area, I made my regular expedition to Good 'n Natural on Weschester Avenue by Pelham Parkway the other day. It is always a delight to shop there. Their organic  produce selection is always great, but yesterday I was hunting for rice cakes, and fortuitously found a whole selection and some were even on sale. Some supermarket rice cakes are made with white rice, but the health food store variety are made with whole grain rice, and nowadays they have many flavors, including with wild rice, etc.

I use the rice cakes to serve one of my favorite snacks of the moment, which is Black Bean Salsa. Here is the basic version from Ann Crile Esselstyn that is posted on Meetup in the No Oil Vegan, Dr. Esselstyn's & Rip's E2 Diet NE Ohio:

You can make endless variations on this simple salsa, with adding non-GMO corn to the black beans (one can of each), or different kinds of salsa, and adding more peppers, depending on how hot you like it. Chipotle peppers in Adobo sauce, or Jalapeno's (or both, or, eh well, if you're totally no-oil, skip the adobo sauce...). As a light snack on a puffed whole grain rice cake, or with corn chips, you can eat this any time of the day, I love it... I am continuing to have more fun with interesting dishes than ever before, and the weekends become the time to cook some staples of rice, and beans, ahead for the week so I have an easy time putting meals together.

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