Monday, July 29, 2019

Brown Rice Spring Rolls

It started with a YouTube on making spring rolls:

Then, ChangLi has brown rice vermicelli
The rice paper is still from white rice... you can get it from brown rice, but it's expensive and not around here, so for now this is good enough.


1/2 Cabbage
1 carrot
1 Red Bell Pepper
1/2 onion
4 mushrooms
100 gm rice vermicelli
1 tsp black pepper
1 cup of water
3 tbsp Braggs Liquid Aminos or Yondu

dip of crumbled corn flakes or some other ground-up puffed whole grain (without sugar) and sesame seeds. 


  • Cut up the veggies fine
  • cook till soft, 
  • then add the water and the vermicelli and cook for 3 mins. Note: vermicelli will absorb most of the cooking water, so you will have your stuffing suitablly dry - too wet would ruin your rice paper rolls.
  • fill the moist rice papers and roll them up... dip in the crumbles and put on your cookie sheet 
  • 30 mins at 350F will do you just fine.

Serve with your favorite hot sauce.

Nutritional notes

I adjusted the above somewhat, but not enough for some of the ingredients. As a general rule Bragg's Liquid Aminos or Yondu are a good alternative to soy sauce or Tamari.
The BLA and Yondu come in at ca 300 mg sodium per teaspoon (Tsp), while the typical soy sauce or tamari clock in at 900-1000 mg of sodium per Tsp. However this recipe makes about 30 spring rolls. And it uses 3 Tbsp of BLA or Yondu, or 3 x 3 x 300 mg = 2,700 mg sodium.
To simplify the math, that amounts to almost 100 mg sodium per roll. So if you were to eat three as an appetizer, that might be alright if the rest of the meal does not over use sodium, but if you make a meal out of this, you are getting a ton of sodium.
One obvious alternative might be to use a low sodium veggie stock in lieu of the glass of water, and then to cut the use of even BLA or Yondu down to ca. 1 Tbsp instead of three, and you can use some other spices, or things like scallions or shallots to create more aroma. 

Friday, July 26, 2019

Yondu Recipe #3

Yondu was my favorite find at the recent plant-based food show in the Javits.

Compared to soy sauce and tamari, this has 1/3rd the level of sodium per teaspoon (about 300 mg instead of 900-1000mg), and you can use it in ways that are similar to Bragg's Liquid Aminos, but the flavor is more delicate and aromatic.

Here is one way of using it - in this case I used one teaspoon (5 ml) of Yondu in a cup of filtered water in lieu of veggie broth - in this example one cup of my "Yondu broth" was enough to make both my spinach and my stir-fried mushrooms:

Caramelizing cut-up onions:

  • 5 mins dry roast no stirring, on high (ca 425F)
  • add in whatever spices, chopped garlick, chilis, peppers, turmeric, or whatever you are going to use, and do 5 more mins on high (425F), while adding about 1/4 cup of the liquid in splashes while you are stirring, just enough to prevent the onions from sticking to the bottom of the pan. You keep it liquid, but you're not making soup.
  • use this as a base for whatever you are doing next.

 Delicious Spinach

  • Use caramelized onions as above
  • Add in washed, chopped spinach
  • Cook for 7 mins on medium (ca 275F).
  • you can play with the spices from mild to hot. I love a spicy spinach, and depending on what dish you are making turmeric can be a beautiful addition.

Stir-fied mushrooms

  • Start with dry-roasted onions as above.
  • when you start stir frying, add in the mushrooms as well as the spices and stirfry on high (425F).
  • The lower the heat to medium (275F) and add another 1/2 cup of your "Yondu broth" and let it cook until most of the liquid has evaporated (about 10-15 mins).
  • Serve perfect mushrooms.


Otamot tomato sauce was another discovery from the food show. This time I made whole wheat spaghetti with this Otamot sauce, which is out of this world, however, while I loved the taste, I am not their customer, for it still has oil in it and on their website they promulgate the nutritional myth that your body needs the added fat to absorb nutrients, which is baloney.

The issue that you DON'T need added fats in your diet has been dealt with squarely by Jeff Nelson of Vegsource recently.


Yondu is a great addition to your condiments. It is very flexible in daily use. I love the aroma! Lots of flavor for little sodium, in line with Bragg's Liquid Aminos.

Otamot is a great tasting and very nutritious tomato-based sauce, but unfortunately has some oil in it, so I do not recommend it on a #WFPB diet.

The bottom line is added oils are a direct attack on your endothelium and you want to avoid them whenever you can. You want to be moderate in your use of fatty fruit like nuts, avocados and coconut. Normal food has all the fat you ever need. If you are following Dr. Esselstyn's Plant Perfect diet, you want to avoid nuts, avocados and coconut as much as possible.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Korean Night with Vivian Lee (and some help from Yondu)

Here are the links and comments from the incomparable Vivian Lee from our Korean Style Cooking class. We used it as an occasion to experiment with Yondu as a condiment.

We are still tweaking this, as we have done in the past, so at some time, we may end up doing another Korean style class.

Spice Rice Cakes (Tteokbokki)

  • 2 cups of water or vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup gochujang (Korean red pepper paste)
  • 1 tbsp Korean red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp brown rice syrup
  • 1 tbsp Yondu
  • 10 tubular Korean brown rice cakes 
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • scallions and sesame seeds for garnish

Korean Glass Noodles (Japchae)

  • Obviously take out the oil. I still haven't mastered this recipe without a little bit of sesame oil... 

Potato Pancake (Gamja Jeon)

  • 2 medium Russet potatoes, peeled
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives or green onion
  • 1/4-1/2 cup wheat flour 


  • 2 tbsp liquid aminos
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
Note: Use non-stick pan if omitting oil, or perhaps a Stainless Steel pan, which often times works even better than non-stick. There's also a spray of avocado oil, and even

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Some Travel notes... Angola and UAE

Ok, so I went to visit my adoptive son Didi in Angola, and here are some notes on my food adventures.

Didi & me at the National Museum in Luanda 6/24/19
Emirates airlines, they had some reasonable vegan meals, but a bit inconsistent, because like most in the hospitality industry, they are clueless about nutrition. So I wrote to them. I had brought along some baggies of kale with sweet potato, with my usual mustard seeds and balsamic vinegar and that kind of supplemented my food during the journey. Because vinegar is a good preservative, some of it made it all the way to the fridge in my hotel in Luanda and lasted another two days.

Hotel Diamante at Luanda. L loved the very central location of the hotel, and what's more the food was not bad. Particularly the breakfast, which was perhaps my most important meal. There was a greengrocer (Casa de Frescos) around the corner on Av. 4 de Fevereiro, where I could get some rice cakes, and any extra fruit if I wanted. They also had stuff like brown rice and whole wheat pasta, so clearly there is some budding interest, but overall the selection is limited when you go out.
For breakfast there was an extensive selection of fruit, melon, papaya, banana, on and on, so I would get myself a huge fruit plate, and then there was a very good quality of course multigrain bread and always sautéed vegetables (probably onions, and chard, or collard greens). They were not too greasy, although for me any grease is too much, I hate it any more, but these were passably good. The whole thing made for a substantial and quite acceptable breakfast.

DIY. During the week, my friend became curious about my food habits, so one day we went to the supermarket, and I made a meal at lunch time. Here's what I made - and I started with a mixture of caramelized onions with garlic and some chilis as a foundation for three veggie dishes, plus, I cooked some sweet potatoes. Here were the other dishes:
  • black beans with caramelized onions, chilis, garlic and some spices. In this case from a can, so I needed merely to heat them up.
  • Mixed vegetables, I don't remember everything, but I started with the same base of caramelized onions and added some more, including eggplant, coco/eddoe/taro, carrots, tomato, peppers.
  • Swiss Chard (which were labeled spinach in the supermarket.
 Primitive, but not bad, and again the leftovers went into freezer bags and on towards my hotel fridge, and with some rice cakes from around the corner, I could have a nice veggie snack at any time for the last few days.


I don't really remember the name of all the restaurants, but there was one very nice place on the beach, Coconuts, described as "vegetarian friendly," and I would agree. Here is a picture of the view to the beach on the inland bay on the Ilha do Mussulo:
Generally speaking, the way I got by, was this (note that I had been instructed by an infectious disease doctor not to eat salads and only the kind of fruit that you can peel): I managed to explain that I wanted mixed vegetables but cooked without oil, and then I combined it with either potatoes, sweet potatoes, or pasta. It was beyond me to explain how to caramelize onions without oil, but there was generally some onions and tomato in the mix. Sometimes I specified some tomatoes and some garlic. Herbs and spices too hard to explain, but I often resorted to balsamic vinegar. Forget whole wheat pasta of course, or brown rice. As noted, I could get those at the grocery store, but that was not a battle worth having at a restaurant. The most upscale place we tried, Pimms - supposedly one of the fanciest restaurants in the city, which was also written up as also 'vegan friendly,' disappointed the most. They tried, but the result was mediocre, for twice the price.

UAE, Le Meridien Dubai Hotel & Conference Center. Arriving at the airport at 5 AM and at the hotel before 6 AM, before any room would be ready, the only thing that mattered was breakfast, and the selection was extensive, not to say overwhelming, but still slanted in favor of heart attack food. So, it was still not easy. Fruit was easy. I found a quinoa salad that was not too bad, and something like Tabouleh. With a little combining I managed to end up with a nice leisurely breakfast, and time to wait until my room was ready.

Dinner with a friend as a local restaurant in  Ras Al Khaima found me a buffet dinner, and although they looked at me weird when I began to explain about no oil, no meat, etc., it turned out that once I started exploring it was not too bad at all, and I managed to survive.

I had a great trip, but I was happy to be back in my very own food paradise in little Bangladesh on Starling Avenue.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

How to deal with doctors

My qualifications on this particular topic are based mostly on my own experience with doctor visits, which are a relatively rare occurrence in my life. My outlook is heavily informed by the the fact that my father was a doctor and our mealtimes were often mini conferences of him and various colleagues, often focused on their resistance to the formation of what we now call Pharmageddon, or the medical-industrial complex and the de-humanization of medicine. Even then, in the early sixties some doctors were seeing how the new developments in pharmaceuticals made doctors into drug pushers fighting symptoms and not helping patients heal and be healthy. My father had scathing criticism for the pharmacological inroads into psychiatry and eventually evolved into a sort of Jungian psychotherapist more than a psychiatrist because he categorically declined to get involved with psychopharmaca. He also would at times serve patients for free or on a sliding scale whenever insurance stopped covering them, he simply would not accept administrative interference in patient relationships.

The Lifestyle Medicine revolution

Lifestyle Medicine is the new form of medicine that is rooted in the Whole Foods, Plant-Based diet and the insight that nutrition is 80% of the work. In other words, acute issues aside, the first order of business is to make sure you are getting the whole benefit of the whole foods, plant-based diet, for it provides an abundance of nutrients, which puts your body in optimal shape to deal with all of the real life challenges, including preventing or reversing the chronic diseases that kill people who follow a modern, industrial Western diet. So, diet should be your first concern, but that does not mean doctors are an unnecessary luxury.

The slow evolution of lifestyle medicine means we have to be innovative in dealing with doctors. The central point is that you are now taking responsibility for your health, for you decide what goes down the gullet. How far you want to go with that is your business, but besides my wide reading in this area, I went and took the certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from Nutrition Studies. The new relationship with your doctor, assuming he is a plant-based doctor is a partner in wellness, where he/she should be very much your personal subject matter expert, particularly if there are any challenges and together you can figure out any adjustments that may be needed along the way.
Not necessary, but it helps

In most cases, your regular doctor is in a system that pushes him one way and one way only a consultation and a treatment. Even the ones that do sympathize with the premises of lifestyle medicine and the whole foods, plant-based diet are still in that system. So when this year I had some anomalies in my regular annual physical exam, I decided it was time for some extracurricular consultation, and as it was, I went and visited Dr. Robert Graham at He went and took some more extensive tests and together we figured out what was right and what was wrong and some prudent adjustments to make. We are talking about tweaking now, but sometimes it helps to not be guessing and get very specific feedback from a trusted expert who cares.

I learned a lot. Without discussing all the details here, I will highlight one element... just to illustrate why I got concerned with my physical this year.

2015: Spring physical, Total Cholesterol (TC) was 185. My diet was still fairly mixed, although for the most part I did not eat a lot of meat, probably a chicken a week and a hamburger 3 times a year. But lots of eggs, yoghurt, cheese, cheese and more cheese. Still, I always ate plenty of fruit, vegetables and whole grains. I never ate white bread or white rice in my life. I considered that rat food, or window caulking in a pinch. So I probably ate a bit above average. And 185 is not really all that concerning. I just recently read a book about heart disease, "Know Your Real Risk of Heart Disease" by the Australian physician Dr. Warwick Bishop. The book is very well organized, and offers good explanations about how the heart works and what various diagnostics do or don't mean. To him, TC level below 193 would be just fine. In America, regular doctors consider 200-239 the range for borderline concern, so 185 would be of no concern.

And then there is Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, who says below 150 is heart attack proof. Is he nuts or what? The same Dr. Esselstyn also says again and again that Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) is a paper tiger that need not exist and unless it is absolutely acute and critical, the only intervention we ever need is a whole foods, plant-based diet. He will also point out that anyone eating a Western diet and aged 60 ish will have some level of CVD. And recently, we learned that for our Southeast Asian friends, we could say above 40, for the average age of heart attack victims in e.g. Bangladesh is 43 years of age, because genetically, they have smaller veins.

Here is my personal experience (I wrote about this before when I turned 65):

2015: physical (spring) TC=185
2015: May, re-read Esselstyn's Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. I decided to quit fooling around and jumped in with both feet.
2016: physical in spring: TC=151
2017: physical in spring: TC=146
2018: no physical
2019: physical in spring: TC=168???
2019: retested three months after my physical, with a more elaborated test (June) TC=145

That was one of a few things that seemed off, and I could not explain except I was probably more religious about going to the gym in 2016 than recently, so time to step up my game, but still.
With further testing and consultation as indicated above, this time TC came back at 145, just two months later. That simply makes more sense given the history, and what I know I am doing with my diet. By the way there was absolutely NO sign of inflammation. Nice to know the diet works, but with the information at hand we figured out I could add another scoop of chia seeds, hemp seeds, (milled) flax seed, or walnuts, to slightly increase my Omega-3 intake. This becomes one of those areas where we're all different, and some may need a bit more than others, but it is important to know that more is not always bettter. It is about the ratio between Omega-6 and Omega-3.

In short, I learned a lot from a very specific consultation that allows me to tweak my lifestyle. It pays not to become complacent. As to diagnostics, initially, here is the only diagnostic you need:

It is a simple self-test for how well you eat based on whole foods, plant-based nutrition criteria. It give you a rating from 1-leaf (slightly above average already) to 4-leaves (you are doing a Whole Food, Plant-Based diet completely) and it is excellent for handholding so you can gradually improve your diet.


If you are doing a Whole Foods, Plant-Based diet, talk about it with your physician. If they ignore it, it may be worth looking for another doctor. That is what happened with me in 2018. I switched away from my old doctor, because he did not know or understand enough about lifestyle medicine and the whole foods, plant-based diet. Of course as soon as I switched my new doctor moved to another state, and I changed doctors again this year.
In terms of doing this diet, for yourself, or for others: don't try to practice medicine without a license, but you can confidently rely on the fact that if you are following the #WFPB diet properly, minus Sugar, Oil and Salt, and plus some natural Omega-3 sources, and your B12 supplement, you are giving your body the optimal chances to heal itself, and many common issues will pass you by unnoticed. Against that background your medical requirements should be extremely modest, and if anything comes up, at least you know you are helping yourself to the maximum.
That latter point is really the theme of the movie The Game Changers, which premieres on Sept 16th (don't miss it!!!). The lead character is a martial arts trainer for the military and he found the whole foods plant-based diet because he wanted to help himself recover from a very serious injury and in his research he stumbled on the fact that the gladiators in Rome ate mostly barley and veggies. That is where his journey started.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Yondu Recipe #2 - Sautéed Radishes

Here we go with another Yondu recipe from their recipe cards, and all I had to do to make it #WFPB is take away the oil and instead caramelize some onions with some garlic (I could add some Thai chilis if I am in the mood for hot.
Original pic from Yondu site

Sautéed Radishes


  • 1 Onion Chopped fine
    2-3 garlic cloves
    1--2 Thai chilis sliced thin (optional)
    3 cups halved small radishes (or larger radishes quatered)
    1 bunch scallions, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
    3 teaspoons Yondu (3 tsp = 1 tbsp)


  1. Sautée the onion:
    1. Dry roast on medium high (425F) for 5 mins, no stir
    2. Add the minced garlic and chili (if using)
    3. Stir fry with a few table spoons of water, sufficient to liquify 
  2. Add the radishes and scallions: 
    1. 3 mins at medium making sure enough liquid
    2. Add Yondu
    3. 2 more minutes until Yondu is absorbed

 On a side note

People have so much trouble cooking with out oil, yet once you know the basics it is both easier and tastier. This is an absolutely yummy side dish any time.

And, instead of Yondu, you could use some veggie broth, or you could use a small amount of Bragg's liquid aminos, but I would have to say that Yondu does produce a finger-licking good flavor. It is fast becoming one of my favorite flavorings.