My Vegetable Bin Lunch--6 cups of Super Salad
"Making breakfast and lunch simple and nearly the same as possible everyday is helpful. For breakfast, include some form of oats with their good cholesterol- lowering properties.
Try to keep lunch to soup and bread, salads, or sandwiches. Start as many meals as possible with salads. Add all the vegetables you can! Find a salad dressing you love.Greens!! Put them everywhere! Focus on them."
-Ann Esselstyn, heart disease prevention & reversal diet teacher, coach, & recipe developer, extraordinaire-
My Everyday Breakfast--Steel-Cut Oats, Dried Apples, & Berries
Daily Mid-Morning, Mid-Day, On the Drive Home from Work Green Smoothie Snack
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I'm now almost 2 weeks into eating plant-based Esselstyn-style. Making the switch has been so much easier than I ever expected. Here are some of my biggest surprises:
For Part I of this series, click here
For the post that explains why I'm taking this diet challenge, click here
- Cooking without oil is easy. It's not the big deal I thought it would be. I've browned Cajun sweet potato fries, & Yukon Gold potato wedges in a 450 degree oven on parchment paper or a Silpat. Caramelized onions, browned tempeh, seitan, veggie burgers and vegetables, and even made amazing oatmeal white bean blueberry pancakes in a non-stick pan without added oil.
- A six-cup lunch salad will keep me full for hours. Forget about just eating salad greens. I add in roasted corn, cut-up roasted beets, red peppers, cut up left-over 100% buckwheat soba noodles, barbecue seitan, cucumbers, tomatoes, 2 TBS of Trader Joe's Corn Salsa for kick, and a splash of high quality Olive Tap balsamic vinegar--which comes in flavors like lemon, pomegranate, Mandarin orange, and more.
- Who needs avocados when you have fat-free Sahara Cuisine Roasted Red Pepper Hummus? We are loving Sahara Cuisine's Fat-Free Hummus & Black Bean Dips! It absolutely substitutes for the creamy mouth-feel of avocado on a sandwich or on a cracker. I don't even miss my beloved Terrapin Ridge Spicy Chipotle squeeze. Dump a can of chipotle's with adobo sauce into a blender--freeze for storage--and add a teaspoon to some red pepper hummus & you've got instant delicious chipotle sauce to top your sandwich or bean/veggie burgers. See below for where to buy hummus.
- I was eating way too much sodium/salt and fat without even knowing it. Although I read labels carefully, I never paid much attention to the sodium content of vegetable broths, and soups. My favorite brand, Imagine, has oil & huge amounts of salt added to all their vegetable soups (like Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper, Cuban Black Bean Bisque, & Moroccan Chickpea Bisque). Like 750 mg ( 31% DV) of sodium for 1 cup of Tomato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup & who eats just 1 cup of soup? There's added oil in almost every store-bought pasta sauce, bread, tortilla wrap, veggie burger, cracker, or chip. It doesn't matter if it's organic, or from a "health food" company like Amy's, Gardenburger, or Whole Foods. Look at the labels. Who knew? Buy Pacific Low Sodium Vegetable Broth at 140 mg per cup, or Trader Joe's Low Sodium Vegetable Broth.
- Unsweetened Regular Silk Soy Milk is an acceptable coffee creamer. It works. It lightens my coffee, and tastes just fine. We were used to buying cartons of Trader Joe's Soy Creamer, thinking the added sweetener & expeller pressed canola oil in it was OK. It was almost as bad as using Cremora powdered coffee lightener--well maybe not quite as bad.
- Not missing the nuts! It's funny, I thought I couldn't live without nuts or Larabars. Don't miss them at all. Soon after ditching the nuts I got to see Jeff Novick's DVD on "From Oil To Nuts" (click here) that explains why nuts aren't exactly the health foods we think they are. They're high in calories, they all have some saturated fat, and except for English walnuts, all of them are very high in inflammatory omega-6s--especially pine nuts, peanuts, almonds, brazil nuts, and my favorite, cashews! I serendipitously found Dr. Bill Lands' NIH lecture about the importance of lowering our intake of omega-6 fats--and now I'm convinced about the benefits of no-oil & no nuts (walnuts excepted). Big tip: do yourself a favor & cut out peanut butter!! It's sky high in omega-6's. More on Bill Lands & Jeff Novick in another post--in the meantime if you'd like to catch Bill's lecture (you'll have to register with iAmplify & download the lecture), click here.
- Knowing the rules of the game makes it easier to play the game. I don't even think about eating ice cream (vegan or dairy), chips of any kind, cookies, pretzels, or dark chocolate. They are just off my list. If I want a snack in the evening, it's watermelon, berries, a couple crackers with hummus, or maybe air-popped popcorn. It's as simple as that. We talk about how kids need boundaries--it makes life easier for them. I guess I do to!
- 100% Cheese-free Pizza can be a gourmet delight. What a treat for me! On Wednesday not only did I have to work while my kids were visiting from New York City (bummer), but I had a 3 1/2 hour long dental appointment afterward. When I got home at 7:30, my son (who is a fantastic cook) was ready to pop 3 cheese-free pizzas into the oven. He used 100% whole wheat Kabuli Pizza crusts (found at a non-Whole Foods natural food grocery) and Nature's Hilights Brown Rice Pizza Crust (found in the freezer section) of Whole Foods. He topped the crusts with a no-oil added pasta sauce, an assortment of vegetables we had just picked up from our Amish farmer's C.S.A. (community-supported agriculture co-op), and seasoned them with oregano, basil, and chives from my garden. Even my picky cheese-loving St. Louis son gave these pizzas a big thumbs-up--after first moaning & questioning the logic of cheese-free pizza. Tip: We preferred the Kabuli crust to the Hilight's.
Zucchini, Red Pepper, Scallions, Fresh Oregano & Basil Pizza
Mushroom, Chives, Garlic, & Fresh Oregano Pizza
Roasted Beet, Sauteed Kale, Kalamata Olive, & Garlic Pizza
Ann Esselstyn's User-Friendly Rules & Strategies for Making the Heart Disease Prevention & Reversal Diet Work
- No meat, no poultry, no fish--not even salmon
- No dairy of any kind--not even skim milk or non-fat yogurt.
- No eggs--not even egg whites or Egg Beaters.
- No oil--not even virgin olive oil or canola oil
- Aim for 100% Whole Grain products. Ingredients must say, Whole Wheat, or Whole Buckwheat, Whole Rye,etc. 100% stone-ground wheat is not Whole Wheat unless the word Whole appears. Forget about semolina flour in pasta. Forget about white rice. I thought my Barilla Plus multigrain pasta was fantastic--turns out, semolina is the number one ingredient.
- Do not drink juice. Fruit is fine. A little juice used to saute, or season recipes or for salad dressings is fine
- Do not eat nuts, even walnuts unless you do not have heart disease.
- Do not eat avocados, if you have heart disease.
- Do not eat coconut, if you have heart disease.
- Eat soy products cautiously. They are high in fat (40% +) and many are highly processed. Only use Lite Tofu (like Mori-Nu or NaSoya Lite Firm Tofu). I also use Soy Boy Organic 5 Grain Low Fat Tempeh.
- Reduce sugar as much as possible. When you do use it for recipes, stick to the more unprocessed varieties. But don't fool yourself, maple syrup, agave, and honey are still sugar. I use stevia.
- Read all labels, especially THE INGREDIENTS!!!
Read Labels Carefully--What to Watch Out For
1. Be sure no fat is added. Products change, and their ingredients change all the time. Make sure there is no added oil of any kind, in the ingredient list, even if the label says zero fat. By law products can contain less than .5% gram of fat & still say zero fat. Glycerin, hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated, mono and diglycerides are all forms of hidden fat. When you start carefully looking at labels you start to notice that there is added fat in EVERYTHING--even no-fat vegan Boca Burgers, and pasta sauces that say they have no fat.
2. Watch out for sodium. Salt is everywhere. Buy no salt added tomatoes, and beans when you can. Bionaturae organic diced tomatoes have 20 mg of sodium per 1/2 cup serving. Contadina Diced Tomatoes with Roasted Garlic have a whopping 560 mg of sodium per 1/2 cup serving. Buy low-sodium Pacific or Trader Joe's vegetable broths.
3. Find a bread that's whole grain, and made without oil--another big challenge. Options include whole wheat pita, Ezekiel 4:9 breads, buns, wraps, & English Muffins. You'll find the Ezekiel/Food for Life brand at Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, and in the freezer case at most grocery stores. I love all their products--and they are flourless, and sprouted--which is supposedly healthier.
4. Find yourself a pasta sauce made without oil or too much salt. Options: Trader Joe's Organic Spaghetti Sauce with Mushrooms is oil-free, Whole Foods has a brand, as well as Muir Glen's Portobella Mushroom Sauce. Or make your own.
5. Veggie Burgers would be fine--but I can't find one brand that is made without oil. I make my own Lentil Dal Burgers, Falafel Burgers, and Smoky Tofu Red Bean Burgers & freeze them.
Ann's Amazing Cooking Tips
Ann has over 20 years of experience with eating & cooking no-oil & plant-based. This is just a few of her many tips.
1. Roast Vidalia onions, covered in a low to moderate oven & keep in the fridge to chop up for recipes. I made almost instant grilled onions to top burgers with one of these--just a 5 minute oil-free saute with paprika & a dash of pepper. Bingo!
2. Roast a supply of sweet potatoes or yams to add to salads, recipes, or to just enjoy plain.
3. Keep no-fat veggie broth on hand to saute or stir-fry. It's my new oil.
4. Use no-fat added hummus as mayonnaise, as a sandwich base, an avocado substitute, a dip for veggies or crackers or pita, or a base for creamy salad dressings. It's amazing stuff!
5. Try to steam a few vegetables each night for dinner.
6. Use a wooden citrus reamer to get all the juice out of even dry limes or lemons--a microplane is a must for zesting citrus, or grating ginger. I wouldn't want to eat plant-based without my Kyocera ceramic utility knife!
7. Cook perfect collard greens in boiling water for a few minutes until slightly tender, and use them as wraps, or to make veggie sushi.
8. If you do just one thing, Eat Greens! Cook them along with your pasta water. Kale, collards, Swiss Chard, bok choy, etc. are the best foods you can eat--have them as often as you can--blend them in Green Smoothies, add them to soups, stir fries, or just sauteed with garlic & lemon.
9. Egg substitutes for baking. Use 1 tablespoon of flax seed meal plus 3 tablespoons of water per egg. Or 1 1/2 tsp. of Ener-G Egg Replacer plus 2 tablespoons of warm water equals 1 egg.
10. Oil replacement for baking. Use equal amounts of mixed prunes or applesauce.
11. Milk replacement for cereal, drinks, or cooking. Use oat, almond, hazelnut, or no-fat soy milk. Pacific brand makes oat, almond, & hazelnut milks. Hazelnut is my fave.
12. Flavored balsamic vinegars are worth the price. Get these rich, flavorful vinegars from Olive Tap online, or through Dr. Joel Fuhrman's website.
13. Healthy desserts are OK once in awhile. Ann whips up lime & chocolate mousse with 1 package of Mori-Nu silken tofu, 1/3 cup maple syrup, then either 2 TBS. of cocoa powder or 3 TBS. of lime juice, depending on the version, and the zest of 1 lime for the lime version or 1 tsp. vanilla for the chocolate version. She refrigerates or freezes for 2 hrs. before serving. A blender or VitaMix works best. She likes to layer the lime mousse with berries. I've tried her recommendation of Sweet Nothing Non-Dairy Fudge Bars & loved them! She also gives an A-OK for an occasional Haagen-Dazs, Edy's, or Dole fruit sorbet. Read the labels.
Food Brands That I Recommend from Ann's Extensive List
Ann has put together an incredible list of recommended foods that meet her high standards.
Here are a few that I'm enjoying:
Ezekiel sprouted grain breads, buns, English muffins, & tortilla wraps
Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Whole Grain Cereals
Uncle Sam's Cereal
Trader Joe's Organic Spaghetti Sauce with Mushrooms
Wasa Original Crispbread
Whole Foods Baked Woven Wheats (like Triscuits)
RealFoods Corn Thins with flax & soy
Sahara Cuisine no fat, no tahini Roasted Red Pepper Hummus
Sahara Cuisine no fat, no tahini Black Bean Dip with garlic, lemon & spices
This product is not widely available, but you can order it by the case, and it's not expensive. Ann says you can freeze them. Call the owner, Hassan Kahlid at 216-832-8833. Or get your health food store to carry them. Be sure to only order the no-fat, no tahini varieties.
Oasis Classic Cuisine Zero Fat Hummus. Comes no-fat in original, Mediterranean Medley, Roasted Red Pepper, Shiitake Mushroom only. I have not tasted these. Call the manager Evan Lanigan at 419-269-1459 for local locations, or to order a case.
Trader Joe's Mango Salsa
Trader Joe's Pineapple Salsa
Trader Joe's Corn and Chili Tomato-Less Salsa (this isn't on Ann's list, and sugar is the #2 ingredient) but 2 Tbs. on top of a salad is a fantastic spicy sweet ingredient. I love this mixed into brown rice, black beans, & mango salsa.
Pacific Organic fat-free vegetable broth LOW SODIUM. This is the lowest in sodium brand Ann has found at 140 mg/cup.
Trader Joe's Organic Low Sodium vegetable broth--same sodium content as Pacific's 140 mg/cup
Mori-Nu lite low fat silken tofu
NaSoya Lite Silken Tofu (includes extra firm)
White Wave Seitan (love this stuff--I saute the strips with Ann's recommended Bone-Suckin' Barbecue Sauce & add to salads, stir-fries, and wraps.
Lightlife Organic Seitan
Soy Boy low-fat 5 grain tempeh (my recommendation, not on Ann's list)--I brown with light Tamari & orange juice and use in a variety of dishes.
Trader Joe's Organic Polenta (look for other brands, too!)
Muir Glen Catsup
Bone-Suckin' Barbecue Sauce
Low Sodium Tamari
Bragg's Liquid Amino's (get the spray bottle to use instead of salt)
There are no good chips available any more. Guiltless Gourmet now adds oil to their brand.
Make your own chips from pita bread, corn, or Ezekiel tortillas, or just use crackers
Sweet Nothing Non-Dairy Fruit-Juice Sweetened Fudge Bar, Mango Raspberry (I found these at Whole Foods. Made by Turtle Mountain
Haagen-Dazs Sorbet, raspberry, etc.
Edy's Whole Fruit Sorbet, raspberry, etc.
Dole Sorbet, mango, raspberry, lemon, etc. (not chocolate-it has egg whites)
Trader Joe's Double Rainbow Sorbet, chocolate raspberry, lemon, etc.
My Quick Update
After just under 2 weeks I'm happily surprised to notice that I've lost about 2.5 pounds (most people lose much much more, however)--but this is very unusual for me, because my weight just seems to stay stable, and believe me, I'm eating a lot!
My blood pressure is now consistently in the healthy range, even after weight-lifting. Before, it was often variable. I'm assuming this is because I'm eating much less sodium.
Not jumping to any conclusions here, but I'm just not tired at anytime during the day (except yesterday when I only got about 5 hours of sleep)--and I'm not ready for bed until about an hour later than usual.
I'm not feeling the sudden hunger pangs that I felt last week. I owe that to eating a hearty breakfast, and a giant salad that includes some seitan, soba noodles, or an Ezekiel English muffin. I makes sure I stay fueled.
Stay Tuned for more updates--and the experiences of some of Dr. Esselstyn's patients.