Saturday, January 27, 2018

Update on Whole Foods Plant-Based shopping in the Starling Avenue Triangle

This is just a very practical list with some recent items from local stores that are worthwhile:

Chang-Li Supermarket:

Braggs Liquid Aminos on the shelf in aisle 3 at Chang-Li


  • 4lb Himalayas Blessing Brown Basmati Rice for $8.99. That is a good value.
  • Braggs Liquid Aminos. Right now, Chang-Li carries Braggs Liquid Aminos again, albeit only in the 16 Oz bottle for now. I have asked them to stock the 32 Oz bottle again also. I have also asked them for the nutritional yeast.
  • Their selection of whole wheat pasta is growing and recently, they also have whole wheat lasagna.
  • The fruit and vegetable selection remains great.
  • They have some Hodgson Mill Milled Flaxseed, which is a great option if you're in a hurry. Ideally you should mill your flax seed in a Magic Bullet or some such, as flaxseed does lose some nutritional value when it's milled, but sometimes convenience wins out...
  • They have quite a selection of Dunya Harvest Organic grains and pulses - including rice, quinoa, lentils, peas, and various beans. And there's another brand, Heartland, which provides some good staples as well.
  • Lately they also have raspberries occasionally, which is a great addition to your morning steel cut oats. Sometimes they have steelcut oats from Dunya Harvest.
On of these days, I will do a more extensive survey.

KeyFood on Unionport:

There is a lot to like in this KeyFood, including:
  • Steel cut oats: they sometimes carry Bob's Red Mill, and sometimes Quaker Oats. Stock up for it is not always in stock and steelcut oats are sooo much better!
  • A great selection of balsamic vinegars, and some good deals!
  • A regular supply of great products from Bob's Red Mill, grains and legumes. This section is always worth a stop.
  • A great selection of whole grain pasta.
  • Often a good selection of berries in the produce section.

Pioneer on Castle Hill:

Supplies at this store can be erratic. One day they have a great selection of whole wheat pasta, and then they are sold out for quite a while before they get restocked. It is a bit of hit or miss.
  • Produce dept. is usually worth checking out.
  • A small section of organics is worthwhile.
  • Whole wheat pasta. In spite of the irregularities noted above, they still have a decent selection most of the time.
  That's it for now. I will periodically do an update on the changing selection. For many of the staples, the Good 'n Natural healthfood store on 2173 White Plains Road by Pelham Parkway is a good option, and there is a great green market across Pelham Parkway also, as well as a well supplied C-Town at 640 Pelham Parkway, and the green market is across Pelham Parkway on Boston Road. Be sure to hit all three when you have to go that far.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Vegetable Lasagna - our January 2018 Suppers/#WFPB meal at St. Helena's

This time around it was all chaos, as one of the organizers was not feeling well, but we made it work regardless.

The plan was vegetable lasagna, based on a recipe from the book The Vegan Cheat Sheet by Amy Cramer and Lisa McComsey, with a side dish of spinach, and a mixed green salad with Dr. Barnard's Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette. (Note: the book underestimates the amount of filling you need, in my view, so below I upped the amount of cauliflower relative to the book. We found out the hard way that we ran out of the white filling too soon.)

This is a very lovely #WFPB (Whole Foods, Plant-Based) dinner. And the #not62 health campaign in the Bronx would not be the same without it! The people of the Bronx are learning.

The Menu - Recipes

Note: these quantities were for 9 people. You can adjust them accordingly. Out of our $15 grocery money we only spend about $9, so in all there was an $6.00 refund.

To begin with, here is the salad dressing:

Dr. Barnard's Roasted Red Pepper Vinaigrette

Makes enough dressing for 1 large salad

1 large roasted red pepper
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pep per
1/2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
Place all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Serve and enjoy.

For the salad we used:
1 head of red leaf lettuce
1 head of green leaf lettuce
1 head of romaine lettuce 
1 green pepper
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 red onion
6 cloves of garlic
6 sundried tomatoes
4 fresh tomatoes
2 tablespoons of Chia seeds
2 tablespoons of milled flax seeds
(Confession, we ran out of time, and we ended up making a 3/2/1 dressing with red pepper - 3 measures balsamic, 2 measures dijon mustard, and 1 measure maple syrup), so we'll do this recipe again some other time. In fact I will make it today.)

Tomato Sauce (Red)

Note: finding oil-free pasta sauce is not always easy, though there are some on the market. You can find one at Trader Joes, see this listing of OIl-free vegan products at Trader Joes, provided by Forks over Knives. Anyway, we could not find an oil-free sauce in the neighborhood, so I made it from scratch. As it was I started a bit late, but the idea was to have the pasta sauce ready when the class started at 3 PM, so that the class could make the salad, the spinach, and build the lasagna, so we just had to shove it in the oven. So we ran a bit late this time, but the meal was enjoyable.

4 28Oz cans of Organic Diced Tomatoes
4 onions, cut fine
8 cloves of garlic 
10-20 leaves of fresh basil chopped fine
7 leaves of laurel
2 peppers
2 8 Oz packs of mushrooms (one white and one crimini)
1 lb of carrots shredded
Braggs Liquid Aminos to taste 

  • Cut up the onions fine, and start dry-roasting them in the pan
  • add the peppers, cut up, and stir it up
  • add the garlic (first flatten it and cut it fine) and stir it up
  • add the carrots (match stick cut) and stir it up
  • add the mushrooms, sliced (note the mushrooms yield a lot of moisture) and stir it up
  • when these ingredients start to get soft and feel cooked, add the tomatoes and stir it up
  • let simmer, and finish with Liquid Aminos to taste
  • make it smooth with an immersion blender

Spinach side dish

4 bundles of spinach cut in 1.5" lengths
2 onions cut up fine
7 cloves of garlic flattened and cut fine
8 chilis sliced fine
3 jalapenos, remove the seeds
(Note: the chilis were fine for most, but a bit much for a few people, but evidently, you can vary that to taste. The jalapenos are much milder.)

Again, start with dry-roasting the onlons, chilis, jalapenos and garlic, and when it is soft, add the spinach, and let it cook slowly for another 7-10 minutes.

Lasagna filling (White)

2 14 Oz packs of Silken Tofu
5-6 cups of steamed cauliflower
(Note: the original recipe suggests 2 cups of cauliflower per pack of tofu, but in practice, I find 3 cups of cauliflower per pack of tofu is a better ratio. Be sure to cook the cauliflower really soft.)

When the cauliflower is soft, add the tofu, and make a smooth sauce with a stick blender.

3 yellow squash sliced
3 zucchini sliced

Building the Lasagna

2 12 Oz packs of Whole Wheat Lasagna, or 3 packs if they are 9 Oz
some nutritional yeast

(Note: this was the fun part, doing it assembly style... We used 2 12 Oz boxes of Ronzoni Healthy Harvest Whole Wheat Lasagna - note: it is available next door, at Chang-Li Supermarket. More and more supermarkets are starting to carry it.)
Preheat the oven to 425 F
  • start with a layer of pasta sauce
  • layer whole wheat lasagna strips in the sauce (typically 3 strips make one layer)
  • layer on the white filling
  • make a layer of sliced squash/zucchini
  • repeat until the pan is full, finish with a layer of red sauce on top.
 In the oven for ca 45 mins.

Serving suggestions:
The salad is obviously colorful.
The main dish is red/white, with a side of green.
For topping, you can sprinkle on some nutritional yeast


The above is a very complete and satisfying meal. And, it was fun to build with the group, even though this time we went far over schedule, mainly because I started too late to make the pasta sauce and the Cauliflower/tofu filling in advance.
As a reminder, why do we avoid ADDED oils? In other words, why did I make fresh tomato sauce because I could not find an oil-free sauce nearby? Because added oils paralyze our bloodvessels for 3-6 hours after every meal. The blood vessels can no longer expand with extra energy expenditure. It is tremendously important for heart and vascular health to understand that you do not want any added oil in your diet. Here you can hear it from the horse's mouth: Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn says no oil. I repeat, Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr. says: "No oil!" If you're still not clear, here is Dr. John McDougall saying the same thing.

Another feature: this meal really embodied 2 of our 4-6 daily portions of green leafy vegetables - a salad and a side dish of spinach. Green leafies provide massive doses of anti-oxidants, and by chewing them we are converting nitrates to nitrites and enabling our digestive system to manufacture nitric oxide, which is what keeps your endothelium healthy.

The point of the exercise however, remains, that in the spirit of the Suppers program, this is all about home cooking, and about creating a mutual support mechanism on a local level. Audelle has been doing Suppers meetings at her home in Throgs Neck for a long time, but doing this at the St. Helena's school cafeteria enables a slightly larger group.
Meanwhile, the idea of sharing the grocery bill, also teaches us that a very healthy and abundant Whole Foods Plant-Based meal can be made on a budget. In this case, we came out to $9 per person. The highest we ever did was $11.50 per person, but it seems that we can typically do these productions for under $10 pp in groceries. You can do it for less, or you can spend more. In the long term you are reducing your medical expenses and nearly completely eliminates the need for any supplements. In this case we added chia seeds and milled flax seed to the salad for Omega-3s and as long as you keep that in mind, the only supplement you should ever need is a vitamin B12 every other day.
If you think about it, the degenerative diseases which consume 86% of our healthcare expenditure, are diseases of affluence and can largely (ca 75%) be prevented or largely reversed with the Whole Foods, Plant-Based diet. It produces such nutritional abundance that the mere thought of supplements is silly. On top of that, there is more and more evidence that isolated supplements are not absorbed as well by the body, or even absorbed at all, as nutrients which are consumed as part of a whole foods diet. In some cases, supplements can even be toxic.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

More Plant-Based news from New York: Doug Schmidt

This is an amazing news study, a teacher from Rochester is promoting Plant-Based living.

Doug Schmidt also keeps a page on Facebook, as a sort of a support group.

He is following the pure Whole Foods, Plant-Based without added Sugar, Oil or Salt paradigm.

Unfortunately, the nutritionist ABC interviews at the end still does not know anything about plant-based nutrition. Still thinks that getting enough protein is a problem. The real problem is we're getting too much protein, and mostly animal protein. Again and again, all the serious research shows that animal proteins are the most powerful carcinogens we get in our diet. Together Animal protein, Oil, and Sugar (simple carbohydrates in general) are the worst elements in the Standard American Diet.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Plantricious to the rescue

This is a name to remember: Plantricious.

Finally, a label that means nutritionally sound vegan food: Certified Plantricious.

Certified Plantricious label

Confusion abounds about vegan food, and marketers are having a field day. Many, many vegan foods are not healthy. Start with things like vegan mozarella that is made from canola oil, and it goes downhill from there... marketers confuse a sociological term "vegan," for a nutrition label and peddle any amount of garbage. Canola oil is not suitable for human consumption on the best of days. Most people think "vegan" is only defined in the negative, as an absence of animal products, but that is no way to approach nutrition.

The only serious research base in plant-based nutrition is the work of T. Colin Campbell, beginning with the China Study, and now continuing in his Center for Nutrition Studies. It is the foundation for all serious work in plant-based nutrition, including the work of Esselstyn, PCRM (Physicians' Committee for Responsible Medicine, and the American College of Lifestyle Medicine.

Plantricious will be rating both restaurants and foods, and looking to create some order, by providing consumers with one label that actually means something. Follow Plantricious on Pinterest for the latest.

General Guidance

First, you need to understand how simple the plant-based nutritional paradigm really is. It is defined on Nutritionstudies as the Whole Food, Plant-Based Diet Guide, and it can be summed up simply as Whole-Foods, Plant-Based without added SOS (Sugar, Oil, or Salt). That's it #WFPB without added SOS.

Second, you also need to get some clue about the economic (and environmental) significance, meaning that with a plant-based diet you consume on average 14x fewer resources than someone on a Standard American Diet (SAD).

Third, you need to understand that the plant-based diet can prevent 7 of 10 of the leading causes of death in the Western world, and it is therefore the only realistic solution to the healthcare crisis, as I have argued in a recent article on the CVS/Aetna merger.

The upshot is that the plant-based nutritional paradigm is the key to a sustainable world,  and the solution for our healthcare crisis and our environmental crisis all in one. Plus, you will feel better to boot!

KISS: 80/10/10, carbs/protein/oils

In general terms, you end up getting 80% of calories from complex carbohydrates, 10% from (plant-based) protein, and 10% from naturally occurring oil - never added oil. You want to watch it on the oily fruit such as avocado, nuts, or coconut. Serious heart patients, according to Esselstyn should even cut those out, but a normal person can have a little bit, like a handful of walnuts, or a quarter of an avocado in a day. It is easy to go over 10% because many plants naturally contain oil.

No more need for most supplements or pills. Take a B12 every other day, and you should be fine.

Bad Diet Advice

Most diet books and videos and the like live off of confusion. The tell tale signs are when they promote single ingredients. It makes no sense to not look at the total diet and figure out if one ingredient or another makes a difference. If you are on a healthy #WFPB-SOS diet, there is NO need for supplements, except for some B12.
Just one example of such consumer confusion was a good looking PDF document that was sent to me the other day, titled African American Vegan Starter Guide. It remains focused on protein, as if that were an issue and also uses added oils and fried foods, all of which are a no-no, for both heart disease and diabetes, as well as many other health problems, of which the book correctly represents that the African American population is particularly vulnerable, yet they don't make an effort to provide nutritionally sound advice. Unfortunately, this type of consumer confusion is more the rule than the exception.

All dietary advice that remains concerned with protein is suspicious. These folks are stuck in the old wives tales that it is somehow hard to get our protein, whereas the truth is that we tend to get too much protein, not too little. The first step is no animal protein whatsoever. Animal protein is proven to stimulate cancer growth. We need plant protein ideally for about 10% of our caloric intake, not much more. Again, it is very easy to overshoot the target.

Another tell-tale sign is using added oil. Vegetable oil is made from plants, but we do not need the added oil in our diet, for oily food directly affects your arteries, preventing them from flexibly expanding and contracting with physical activity for 3-6 hours after an oily meal. Oil simply paralyzes your arteries and while Extra Virgin Olive Oil may seem to taste better than motor oil, its nutritional value is about the same. Avoid!