There you go, baby! A whole-grain roll, an apple, a tomato, and....
OK, all you grandparents, and future grandparents out there--here's what Dr. Tim Church wants you to know:
"To me, the most important element of exercise is healthy aging.
There's no pill that assures that you'll be able to play with your grandkids, or to go duck hunting when you want to go duck hunting (forget about duck hunting--insert your own physical hobby here), or get up and down the stairs safely.
But, there is one strategy which we know works great for aging, and that is being physically active and maintaining physical activity throughout a lifetime."
-Dr. Timothy S. Church, PhD, MD, Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana-
And then there's Bill Clinton. After his quadruple bypass & 2 stents failed, he went to Plan E (Esselstyn) and started eating an oil-free, plant-based diet in Spring 2010. What was his biggest motivator for staying healthy? To be around for his future grandchildren.
Click here to get to the web version if you've received this via email--better access to links & photos.
Which leads me to our wonderful week in St. Louis! 24/7 with "the little man". Playing, coloring, reading Sendak & Seuss a million times, bath-time, diaper changes, hide-and-seek, lots of ball playing, singing, swimming in the splash pool at the J, visiting "The Magic House"--St. Louis' AMAZING children's museum, cooking up a "plant-based" storm--and just enjoying the company of our kids.
Months ago when my husband & I learned that son #1 was going on a 9 day work-related trip to a small Mayan village in the Yucatan (originally it was Guatemala), we offered to lend a hand with "the little man". Yay! Offer gratefully accepted. Son #1 spent his week eating like a healthy Tarahumara Indian--beans, squash, & corn, while we ate plant-strong in the Loo.
But let's get back to Dr. Tim Church's advice about staying in shape so you can play with your grandkids, and be able to get up & down stairs safely--Believe him! About the grandkids & the stairs!
It's three flights of stairs to get to my kids' apartment. Up and down those stairs a million times, carrying the "little man", lots & lots of grocery bags, suitcases, gym bags, diaper bags, and a stroller! And that whole winter bundling up thing, with boots, hats & gloves, and car seats.
Good thing that my husband and I have been training years for this dream job! You better be steady on your feet to climb as many stairs as we had to climb, while carrying a wiggly toddler & parcels.
Imagine an entire week of just playing, reading kid books, toddler-tending, and cooking? Absolute heaven when you're a grandparent, not doing it day in & day out. No TV at the "little man's" house, either. And we hardly touched our computer. No time for me to read any grown-up stuff, either. It was living totally in the moment. I slept like a baby.
Aren't Grandparents Supposed to Feed Their Grandkids Cookies & Ice Cream?
Darn! This grandma knows too much. Thanks to that big party pooper Dr. David Kessler, the author of "The End of Overeating", I know how important it is to keep sugar, fat, and salt away from the little guys. If you want the best for your grandkids, how can you feed them junk? It just doesn't feel right to get "the little man" started on chocolate chip cookies, ice cream, and chips.
"We used to think of food as something we ate to fill us up. But in fact, much of the food we're eating--this trifecta of fat, sugar, and salt--stimulates us. And we now see from the science--this highly palatable food is excessively activating the neural circuitry of our brains. We now know...the reason we keep on eating is because of this sustained stimulation."
Worry about the children! Kids from ages 3-5 are eating constantly, all day. Fat, sugar, salt. "Once you lay down the neural circuitry that gets activated by highly palatable food--that stays down for life."
-Dr. David Kessler, pediatrician, former FDA commissioner, former dean of the Yale & UCSF medical schools-
It was Plant-Strong for Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner in the Loo
I packed 2 Sami's Pizza Crusts in my suitcase for dinner #1
Almost Instant Pizza made with Sami's Crusts
Ann Esselstyn introduced me to Sami's amazingly delicious Whole-Grain pizza crusts, and since I had a stash in my freezer, I packed 2 crusts carefully in my husband's suitcase--mine was too full, of course!
Here's the deal with Sami's. You have to plan ahead--the bakery is in Tampa, Florida, for goodness sakes. But, if you call them by Monday or Tuesday, you'll get them delivered to your door in 2 days--freshly baked. $4.09 for each pizza crust--minimum order of $25.00. There's no carry-out pizza place that delivers plant-strong pizza in my home town. Click here for order info. Click here for my Knock-You-Socks-Off Pizza Recipe. **I was surprised & happy to hear that my friend Cheri has been ordering from Sami's ever since I wrote about them in November.
My pizza recipe is a no-prep, no-chop affair. Speed is of the essence. Jarred sauce. Jarred roasted red peppers. Canned mushrooms & canned water-packed artichoke hearts. Bagged sun-dried tomatoes. Jarred Kalamata olives. My one Esselstyn-transgression is 1/2 of a crumbled Field Roast (vegan) Italian Sausage sprinkled on top of the whole thing. It adds 1 gram of fat to a 2-piece serving.
We served the pizza with a salad for a quick delicious plant-strong kid-friendly dinner.
Big Tip: Make an extra pizza while you're at it. One pizza really does feed four--but you'll be thrilled to have left-overs to eat for lunch the next day.
Oh, yum! Green Smoothie & an Apple Walnut Larabar. I just love those green chin dribbles!
You never know what kids are going to like--or hate--but I decided to make a Green Smoothie for "the little man", anyway. Oh baby--did he ever love it! Of course, it's too thick to come out of a sippy cup, so we had to put it in an Elmo cup with a wide straw, suck it up, to get it started for him--and just wait for those magic words, "Mo' joos, peez!"
Here's what "the little man" liked in his Green Smoothie: unsweetened grape juice or only-cherry juice, lots of lacinato kale & spinach, a couple of carrots, a big handful of Trader Joe's Frozen Very Cherry Berry Mix, an apple, and a couple of clementines. Add cold water & mix in the VitaMix. I thinned his with a little unsweetened only-cherry juice.
Can you think of an easier way to feed your grandkids vegetables & fruit? For more info, and the nutritional breakdown on my green smoothies, click here.
Thirty-Minute Rice with Chickpeas, Asparagus, and Lemony-Tahini Sauce (you only need a little)
This is by now an old standby dinner for me. Everyone loves it! "Little man", my husband, son #2, my daughter-in-law, my friends, my co-workers, Mina and her family, Cheri & her family--and just about everyone who tastes it. It definitely needs the lemony-tahini sauce to make it extraordinary, but don't worry, just a little goes a long way, and it uses only 2 TBS of tahini for enough to feed 6. (next time I'm going to drain the oil from the tahini) For my enlightened version of this recipe, click here. For step-by-step pictures, click here.
We served ours with sauteed spinach.
Mark Bittman's Miso Soup with Bok Choy, Soba Noodles, & Grilled Tofu
Another easy breezy meal in a bowl. We served this with salad greens, cherry tomatoes, and red peppers, tossed with a dressing made with Hot Squeeze Sweet Heat Chipotle Sauce, thinned with some rice vinegar, and toasted sesame seeds. Hot Squeeze works as a fantastic tofu grilling sauce, too!
We had maple-soy oven-baked brussels sprouts on the side. For the Miso Soup recipe, click here.
The Little Man's Favorite Treats
Toddlers are so fickle. Larabars, Dr. Praeger's California Veggie Burgers, clementines, whole-grained toasted O's, apples, cut up vegetables, cherry tomatoes (go figure?), multi-grain waffles, Isa's Arabian Nights Lentil Rice Soup, spicy Italian sausage-flavored seitan with no-oil spaghetti sauce--were last week's favorites for "the little man". At Thanksgiving he was all about my pumpkin fruited steel-cut oats. Now, he's so over my oatma!
The "little man" could not get enough of Ann Esselstyn's recipe for chocolate tofu mousse! Neal's Frozen Banana Chocolate Milkshake was another "mo' peez" treat.
Mexican Chocolate (cocoa) Low-fat Tofu Mousse
Two summers ago my chocolate-loving friend Babs turned me on to Mark Bittman's so-called "healthy version" of chocolate mousse, made with tofu, real dark chocolate, sugar, cinnamon, and chili powder. Amazing stuff! Click here for Bittman's version.
I came up with this Esselstyn-approved version made with cocoa, "lite tofu", agave, cinnamon, and cayenne or chipotle pepper. It's a pretty good stand-in for Bittman's mousse. Picky son #2 & "the little man" both give it a rousing thumbs up! Believe them.
Ann Esselstyn says: Be sure to MAKE this serve 3 or 4. It is so good it is way too easy for it to serve just 1!
1 package "Lite" silken tofu (look for NaSoya brand if you want organic & non-GMO) I used Mori-Nu for this recipe.
1/3 cup agave (what I used), or maple syrup. I tried it with just stevia, to cut the sugar content--used 5 packets--and it tasted just fine. Full disclosure: Some folks have concerns with stevia, but I'm a fan of the SweetLeaf brand.
2 tablespoons high quality non-dutched cocoa powder
1 tsp. real vanilla
1 to 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
A pinch of cayenne or more--or 1/8 tsp. of chipotle powder if you like heat.
Blend until smooth. Use something powerful like a food processor or a blender. It didn't work with a hand mixer. Refrigerate 2 hours before use. Spoon into small bowls & use small spoons.
Ann's variations: Add 1/4 tsp peppermint extract & a garnish of a mint leaf. Instead of agave or maple syrup use 2 TBS. of Raspberry syrup, 1 TBS honey, 1/2 cup frozen raspberries & blend.
Neal's Chocolate Banana "Milkshake"
1 large cut-up frozen banana, 1 TBS non-Dutched cocoa, 1/2+ cup of oat, almond, soy, hazelnut milk. Whir it up in a VitaMix or a blender. It's a good idea to keep a stash of cut up frozen ripe bananas in the freezer for spur-of-the-moment "milkshakes" or soft-serves. Pack 1 sliced banana to a baggie for easy use.
Friday Night Dinner with Uncle Dan
Our Plant-Strong Friday night dinner with chili, challah, wine, & salad (IPAs & Jeni's)
You'll find the recipe for this All-American Chili with Lots of Kick That You Can Eat All Week Long, here. It's Les & Tess approved--and they have very discriminating palates.
True St. Louis confessions:
1. Ice Cream. We were all so good the entire week. When my daughter-in-law suggested we pick up a pint of Jeni's ice cream for Friday night dessert I wholeheartedly helped with the selection. We decided on Gravel Road--Savory and smoky hits of almonds first, rounded out with salty notes for a satisfying finish.
Bingo! Dr. David Kessler's ultimate evil trifecta--salt, sugar, & fat--in every spoonful. Thankfully, we only bought 1 pint--at $9.99 a pint--who could afford more? We saved a generous serving for "the little man's" dad, who was coming home in 2 days from the Yucatan, so that left about a 1/3 of a cup each for my husband, my daughter-in-law, Uncle Dan (aka son #2) and me. Zero for "the little man". I wish I could say it tasted too sweet, too rich, & too salty. I cannot tell a lie--it was fantastic!! Glad we only had enough for mini-servings. Eat at your own risk. I'm staying away in the future. Visit Jeni's here!
2. Pizza. We also visited son #2's favorite St. Louis restaurant one night--PI's Pizzeria. A favorite of President Obama's, too! We were all set to order the vegan thin crust with roasted red peppers, eggplant, onions, & portabello mushrooms--and hold the cheese. That is, until I noticed they had casein-free vegan Daiya cheese. Truthfully, I would NEVER use this at home (it's made with 6 grams of oil per serving), but, hey, it was a post-birthday celebration, we threw caution to the wind, and ordered it "with Daiya". Not as good as my cheese-free pizza! BTW, PI also has gluten-free crust! Visit PI here. Any restaurant that has vegan & gluten-free available is tops in my book!
The St. Louis Whole Foods Rocks!!
How many of you know that you can get deliciously-prepared vegan no-oil meals at Whole Foods? It was news to me--but then I never looked closely at their prepared foods section before.
Everyday Whole Foods has hot soups, hot meals, creative whole-grain &/or vegetable salads, as well as a good selection of take-home meals in their deli case that are completely Esselstyn & Engine 2 approved. No oil, no sugar, only whole grains, all real food.
But check the labels carefully! Look for the Purple Signs that say: Health Starts Here. Vegan - Oil-Free.
So, if you're looking for someplace to meet a friend for lunch, head on over to your local Whole Foods. Too bad that every city's Whole Foods is different. The prep food selection in my home town isn't half as good as the one in the Loo. Go figure.
Here's what we feasted on for lunch. Warning: It doesn't come cheap. We spent $9.00 each, but our plates were loaded high.
- Green Lentils & Spinach
- Stuffed Zucchini with Bulgur, Almonds, Currants, topped with a Spicy Tomato Sauce
- Black Bean, Sweet Potato Enchilada Casserole
- Spicy Vegetable Bean Chili
- Sauteed Garlicky Kale
Thank you Ann & Rip Esselstyn! My daughter-in-law had made plans to see Forks Over Knives with a friend, but the St. Louis January 18th preview sold-out early--before she could get her ticket. A big thank-you to Ann & Rip Esselstyn & the St. Louis Whole Foods (Marcia) for making it possible for my DIL to attend the film's preview It's powerful, she loved it, and she's rethinking dairy for "the little man", as well as ditching olive & cooking oils. This is a mind-changing movie--and if you miss the preview screenings, watch for its release in March. I can't wait to see it on the big screen next week. For my synopsis of the film, click here.
St. Louis Play Time in Pictures
Library Time: Forget About Those Baby Books, "Little Man" Heads Straight to the Preteen Section
Soon after I took this pic I was heading back to the car to retrieve the diaper bag I had forgotten to bring into the library--Green Smoothies, Larabars, and Dr. Praeger Burgers keep this little guy pretty darn regular.
Morning at the Open Gym with Oma & Poppy
Pint-sized Play Pizzeria at "The Magic House"
I've Always Wanted to Try This!! The Magic House is for Kids of All Ages
That's My Husband Playing at the Magic House
And That's My Daughter-in-Law at the Magic House- We Did Not Want to Leave!
The Ambidextrous Artist Creating Uncle Dan's Special Birthday Card
A Little Snuggle at the Magic House
A Little Something to Eat After We Leave
Before we left St. Louis, I cooked up a batch of hearty burgers for the kids to stash in the fridge. Garbanzo beans, spinach, hot sauce, onions, chickpea flour, garlic and carrots. When we returned home on Saturday night, I decided to make up a batch for us, too. Topped with that lemony-tahini sauce--yum!
Stay tuned for this easy recipe sometime soon. Time to sign off, eat dinner, & go see The Way Back--I brought the book of the original story home from the library for my husband to read 2 weeks ago--it's right up his alley--and lo and behold--the movie version is opening here tonight! "Siberian gulag escapees walk 4000 miles overland to freedom in India." BTW--he loved the book. After you see this movie you will be sooo grateful for everything you have. Like water, food, heat, and a bed.