Dr. Greger: Slowing the Growth of Cancer (video link)

I really appreciate how Dr. Michael Greger cuts through the medical jargon and explains current research in a way that’s easy to understand. This video from 2010 is particularly powerful in that it considers the immediate relationship between diet and cancer growth, and how eating a plant-strong diet creates an environment that’s inhospitable for cancer cell growth. At just under six minutes, Dr. Greger presents several points to think about and apply in our diet.

(I would like to embed the video here but WordPress is giving me headaches. Here’s the YouTube link: Slowing the Growth of Cancer and the link from his website, Nutrition Facts: Slowing the Growth of Cancer 3)

I had never considered before that I most likely have cells that are potentially cancerous. Many plant-strong doctors talk about turning “off” genes, but to me Dr. Greger’s argument regarding slowing cancer cell growth is more persuasive.

I also had never considered the long-term effects of a mother’s diet on her child. I’m fortunate that my mom was a “healthy eater” (though follower, still, of the SAD) before anyone understood why eating a plethora of fruits and veg was the ideal diet.

Debbie, the Healthy Librarian, has a fantastic blog post regarding what we can do to prevent breast cancer, which is where I found the link to this video. Head over there, read her extensive & well-researched post, & join in the discussion.

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Working lunch


Most days I eat lunch at my (tiny, covered with papers that need to be graded) desk.

I only have 30 minutes; so I need something that I can eat quickly or continue to eat during class.

Soup, though unphotogenic, can be made during the weekend, is mostly hands-off, and tastes better as I eat it throughout the week.

Lentil Soup with Sweet Potatoes, Carrots, and Spinach

This recipe yields four lunch-sized portions of about 2.5 cups each. This version is mildly spiced with a touch of heat at the end of each spoonful. If you enjoy a more assertive heat, consider adding dried chiles, chile flakes, or more berbere spice to taste. Spices are to taste–if you especially enjoy coriander and/or cumin, add a bit more. You really can’t go wrong.

lightly adapted from Sweet Potato, Carrot, and Lentil Soup

2 T minced garlic

1/2 T coriander

1-1.5 T cumin

1 t berbere spice mix (to taste: some brands are super hot!)

1.5 lb sweet potato, peeled and diced

.5 lb baby carrots, cut into thirds

7 cups vegetable broth

1 c split red lentils

.5 lb organic chopped spinach (or one 10-oz box chopped spinach)

Juice of one lemon (to taste)

1. Line a soup pot with a thin layer of water and set over medium heat. Add the garlic and saute until blonde (about one minute). Stir in the dried spices. (If you’re not cooking fat-free, you could use Earth Balance or coconut oil to saute). Cook, stirring continuously, for 30 seconds to one minute, until you smell the spices. Add the diced sweet potatoes and carrots and cook for another minute.

2. Add the lentils and gently stir until they are incorporated; then stir in the vegetable broth. Cover and bring to a boil. When the soup comes to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, prop open the pot with a wooden spoon, and let cook for 25 minutes or until vegetables and lentils are soft. Add frozen spinach and cook for 5 additional minutes or until spinach is defrosted & distributed throughout and soup reheats to a simmer.

3. Remove from heat and add the lemon juice (to taste).


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Wordle: happiness

What’s making you happy?

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Green smoothies: the easiest way to start your vegan morning


My sister & I had an unexpected conversation a few weeks ago: she said she had started making green smoothies for breakfast. “I think,” she said, “this is an easy way for me to ease into a plant-based diet.”

After I picked my jaw off the floor, I asked her what she was putting in her smoothies. “Well, I’m not sure…there was one that tasted like…bitter.” She had mixed kale, parsley, and water. Um, yuck.


Because I like the texture they give, my smoothies always have a banana base. I then add a big handful of kale (sometimes spinach), some seasonal fruit, protein powder, a few shakes of cinnamon, and just enough almond milk to blend. The cinnamon is key: it makes the kale taste more cinnamon-y than raw green. Also, take the ribs out of your kale (they are bitter).  This smoothie is 1 banana, kale, an entire white peach, one quarter yellow peach, a handful of grapes, a scoop of protein powder, cinnamon, and almond milk.


Top five smoothie tips (in no particular order):

1. Use seasonal fruit: it’ll both taste better & be less expensive than out-of-season fruit. If none is available, use frozen fruit.

2. If you think you don’t like kale in your smoothie, start with just a little and work your way up. You’ll find that soon you’re craving your kale!

3. If you feel as if your smoothie isn’t keeping you full, add 1/4-1/3 cup of rolled oats.

4. Make your smoothie the night before. It will be ready for you to grab on your way out the door.

5. I reuse cups. I can’t get the hang of cleaning out the reusable straws; so whenever we get a cup from somewhere we rinse it out & reuse it for smoothies.


Optional add-ins:


-protein powder (my favorite brand is plantfusion vanilla: its a powder that mixes in easily and tastes like cake batter)

-other spices: a little vanilla extract, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice)

For fun, a few non-green smoothie recipes from around the Net:

Oatmeal Cookie Smoothie from Happy Herbivore (one of Ryan’s favorites)

Pumpkin Pie Smoothie from Peas & Thank You (perfect for fall, if it’s getting cold where you are)

Mixed Berry and Spinach Smoothie from Vegan Epicurean (just a *little* green)






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“Confetti” Salads

I’m going to try something new-to-me to ensure I get in more raw veggies: “confetti” salads.

The idea is to finely chop (using a food processor for ease) the cruciferous veggies: kale/cabbage/broccoli/cauliflower/carrot/bok choy/bell pepper/arugula/spinach/cucumber et cetera. Dump that in a bowl (or, for me, a reusable container). Then (optional) run fruit: citrus/berries/apples/pears through the food processor, and dump them on top of the veggies. These make the “dressing” for the salad. Can also add vinegar(s)/orange juice and spices at this time.

Savory: add beans, corn, tomatoes (fresh and/or sun-dried not packed in oil), artichokes, hearts of palm, cilantro, lime juice, avocado, etc.
Sweet: blueberries, mango, strawberries, mint, cilantro, etc.

Toppings: hemp seeds, chia seeds, ground flaxseed, other seeds, 1 ounce nuts (walnuts have a great omega-3 to omega-6 ratio).

Other ideas: serve over a whole grain (brown rice, millet, quinoa, etc), serve over shredded lettuces (I like a mix of romaine, butter lettuce, and radicchio)

**Inspiration and source for this “confetti” salad info is Food = Health (Vegan Barbie):  http://veganbarbie.blogspot.com/2011/03/this-weeks-foods.html . I’ve also heard there’s lots of confetti salad talk over at Dr. Furhman’s Member Center, but it’ll take a little time for me to research that further.
**A delicious-looking “Christmas Tree: confetti salad from the same site: http://veganbarbie.blogspot.com/2011/12/christmas-tree-salad.html
**Jennifer McCann’s “confetti” salad: http://veganlunchbox.blogspot.com/2012/04/confetti-salad.html

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How to Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind

“Of the 200,000 species on earth, only three are having weight problems.” So begins Dr. Doug Lisle’s lecture “How to Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind,” which I watched this morning and had to share.

“Radical environmental change over the last 50 years has left the ‘average’ person 30-40 pounds overweight, the  genetically burly/curvy people 60+ pounds overweight, and the ‘unusuals’ only a little overweight.” 

I’m providing a write-up based on my notes, but what is important to me may not be important to you; I highly recommend grabbing some notepaper (if you’re a notetaker like me) and some tea and settling in to watch his hour and fifteen minute entertaining lecture. In my write up, my own thoughts are in italics. If you want to scan through for his most important points, those are in bold.

(If the link doesn’t work for you, his lecture is available in the Forks Over Knives channel on YouTube.)

Did you know the three species? He identified dogs, cats, and humans. What we all have in common is that our environments have radically changed in the last 50 years.

He begins with some myth-debunking: losing weight is not about willpower. It’s not about pushing yourself away from the table. You don’t have weight problems because you need to control your portions, you don’t exercise, you’re stressed, you’re an emotional eater, your genes have doomed you, fast food is ubiquitous, you snack too much, or you have childhood issues. He claims that weight problems are not psychological problems; rather, weight problems cause psychological turmoil: it’s a reverse cause and effect in that there are social, romantic, workplace, and self-esteem prices to be paid when one is overweight.

Whether you are overweight or slender–most everyone in America is eating the same food. Why do some people have a problem and some don’t?

Commence the science-talk (which I will do my best to paraphrase).

The Law of Satiety says that “animals eating to full satisfaction in their natural habitat will, over time, eat neither too much not too little for optimum health.” Then he shows us how eating just 1% more than necessary adds up. This may be a tiny amount of calories a day: 10 or 20. Over years, thought, the effect is clear: you are (I am) 30-40 pounds overweight.

The digestive system has two types of receptors, nutrient (finding fat, sugar, protein, fiber) and stretch (measures volume), which work together to tell us we are satisfied. This is why we can’t eat only lettuce (we’d starve) and why crazy diets where you only eat chicken and strawberries don’t work–we are not satieted and, as a result, we end up binging. With most Americans eating high calorie, low stretch food (such as milkshakes, french fries, etc), individual differences (genes) such as lower number of fat receptors in our digestive system can account for systematic overeating.

Breaking the Law of Satiety takes three things: fooling stretch receptors, fooling nutrient receptors, and probably several other secondary methods, including exercise deficiency.

The number one problem with weight management is that most people can’t pick up high amounts of fat. Since mid-December, I’ve been ‘frying’ everything in water or vegetable broth. My husband hasn’t noticed anything different, except that he’s lost 5 pounds. WOW.

The primary causes of excess in our diet are:

1/fiber deficiency (because, in most processed foods, fiber is removed from carbs & fat)

2/fiber damage (processing of carbs: very easy to eat lots of bread but not rice, because bread is eays to digest as it it pre-digested by grinding the wheat)

The result is over-consumption of calories due to the artificially high concentration of calories in the diet. For example, rather than eating corn (~1800 kcal/pound) we now eat corn oil (~4000 kcal/pound).

More bulk (whole grains, veggies) means fewer calories (he uses the stomach image with 400 cal of oil, meat, and veggies to show that the veggies actually “fill up” the stomach).

Our problem with weight stems from the fact that our food is too concentrated (oils, refined grains, etc). In modern America, our environment is designed to make us overweight, because there is a high concentration of highly-concentrated foods. We need to swap concentrated food for high-density, bulk foods that will trigger satiety. Our bodies are designed to keep us at optimal weight–if we make smart swaps, we won’t have to “diet”, our body will naturally shed excess weight.

He says we should eat in this order: first, eat your salad; next, eat your veggies (which might be soup); finish with concentrated carbs such as potatoes, beans, pasta, rice, etc.

In sum, you don’t have to be perfect, hungry, or completely change your life. Habitually eat healthy food and weight will regulate itself. You are not designed nor destined to have weight problems.

Side note: In the short question time after the lecture, Dr. Lisle addresses “the green smoothie controversy” (Should I eat smoothies?). He says that because green (vegetable-based) smoothies aren’t a highly-concentrated food “it would be the last food I’d worry about”–he’d look for other highly concentrated food that’s slipping into the diet.

What are your thoughts? 


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Happy 34th, uncooked



Revive Cafe “uncooked” my birthday lunch. This is a corn enchilada — the crust was crispy, which contrasted with the creamy filling. Cashew cheese & salsa on top. The salad is a “Whole Day’s Salad”: turnips, golden beets, & carrots.

Dessert was a chocolate banana cream pie, served partially frozen. It tasted like chocolate banana heaven.


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