Gratitude

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We had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner at my sister’s house with her friends and my mom.
We were very grateful for the vegan oil free dishes everyone made including a wonderful baked apple and raisin dish for us for dessert while everyone else enjoyed the pies.
The salad (pictured above) was so beautiful we hated to eat it. But we did and it was delicious.
We had much to be grateful for, and my mom was thrilled to have Thanksgiving with both of her children for the first time in many years.
I hope you had a blessed Thanksgiving also.

Bad 2 The Bone Chili

Bad 2 the Bone Chili

Getting ready to spend Thanksgiving with my mother and sister in Southern Oregon. We made a large pot of Bad 2 the Bone Chili from Rip Esselstyn’s My Beef with Meat book.

What I love about this chili is all of the veggies.

cut up veggies ready to cook

You start by cutting up onion, carrot, celery, red pepper, mushrooms, zucchini and yellow squash and let them cook down.

add beans tomato and lentils

Then you add the rest of the ingredients – a cup of cooked red lentils, tomatoes and beans.

fresh tomatoes

The recipe calls for canned tomatoes, but I got some beautiful dry-farmed Early Girls from the Farmers’ Market. The recipe also calls for just kidney beans, but I use a can each of kidney, pinto and great northern beans.

add spices and addl liquid

Then chili powder, cumin, barbeque sauce, maple syrup and salsa. Let it boil, turn down the heat to simmer and in 30 minutes it’s done.

Bad 2 the Bone Chili

There’s nothing like a bowl of chili for a cold night – there’s a possible Nor’easter brewing back East in Vermont. A pot of this will keep you warm after shoveling snow.

We serve the chili with a cornbread recipe from Dr. McDougall’s site.

Cornbread

1 c cornmeal
1 c whole wheat pastry flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine salt
1 cup non-dairy milk (such as fat-free soymilk)
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2 tbsp raw sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 400F. Whisk cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. Add non-dairy milk, applesauce, maple syrup and sugar, if using, on top. Using a spatula, stir until just combined. Pour batter into a nonstick shallow 9″ pie dish, or other oven-safe dish. Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

I’m making this tomorrow night. I’ll post a picture then.

Happy Holidays and Safe Travels.

Obesity, Not Old Age, Drives Healthcare Costs

Obesity in the US 2012

Obesity in the US 2012

A recent article from The Atlantic highlighted a new report in the Journal of the American Medical Association that shattered some myths about the US Healthcare Disease Care system.

The study authors—a combination of experts from Alerion Advisors, Johns Hopkins University, the University of Rochester, and the Boston Consulting Group—take a point-by-point look at why healthcare costs so much, why our outcomes are comparatively poor, and what accounts for the growth in medical expenditures.

The number one myth is that old age accounts for the majority of healthcare spending – when in fact it is obesity.

Actually, chronic diseases, such as heart disease and diabetes, among people younger than 65 drives two-thirds of medical spending. About 85 percent of medical costs are spent on people younger than 65, though people do spend more on healthcare as they age.

“Between 2000 and 2011, increase in price (particularly of drugs, medical devices, and hospital care), not intensity of service or demographic change, produced most of the increase in health’s share of GDP,” the authors write.

The biggest-spending disease with the fastest growth rate was hyperlipidemia—high cholesterol and triglycerides—for which spending grew by 14.4 percent annually between 2000 and 2010.

All you have to do is look around and see the increase in people’s waistlines or the proliferation of fast food and junk food everywhere.

These two maps also tell the story. The map at the beginning of the post is the Obesity map for 2012 from the United Healthcare Foundation’s America’s Health Rankings website. The one below is the map from 1990. The growth in the rate of obesity is astounding.

Obesity in the US 1990

Obesity in the US 1990

We are eating ourselves sick with the Standard American Diet (SAD) full of meat, dairy and eggs cooked with fat, sugar and salt. This way of eating is impacting all of us – high healthcare costs, productivity loss from hospitalizations and increased death rates.

It’s time to change to a whole food, plant-based diet full of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. (You knew I was going to go there sooner or later, didn’t you?)

Other findings in the study include:

  • The US does not have the best healthcare system in the world (why are there still people who would have us believe that we’re still number 1? We haven’t been for decades. We spend more than other Western countries for worse outcomes.)
  • Spending more on IT and technology is not making the system more cost-efficient (Your doctor has an iPad! – does that make them a better doctor?)
  • The rate of increase in medical costs has slowed down (thanks in part to the recession and the Affordable Care Act)

We are on a path to have this generation of Americans living shorter lives than their parents because of our diet and health habits. It’s time to change.

Towards a Sustainable Global Food Narrative

earth-from-space-western

Interesting article titled Changing the Global Food Narrative by Jonathan Foley, director of the Institute on the Environment (IonE) at the University of Minnesota, on global food policy. According to him, the current food narrative goes like this:

The world’s population will grow to 9 billion by mid-century, putting substantial demands on the planet’s food supply. To meet these growing demands, we will need to grow almost twice as much food by 2050 as we do today. And that means we’ll need to use genetically modified crops and other advanced technologies to produce this additional food. It’s a race to feed the world, and we had better get started.

The article looks at all of the fallacies in this current narrative and suggests this alternative:

The world faces tremendous challenges to feeding a growing, richer world population — especially to doing so sustainably, without degrading our planet’s resources and the environment. To address these challenges, we will need to deliver more food to the world through a balanced mix of growing more food (while reducing the environmental impact of agricultural practices) and using the food we already have more effectively. Key strategies include reducing food waste, rethinking our diets and biofuel choices, curbing population growth, and growing more food at the base of the agricultural pyramid with low-tech agronomic innovations.Only through a balanced approach of supply-side and demand-side solutions can we address this difficult challenge.

One of the primary drivers of this changed narrative is changing what we eat.

We could do much to ease the pressure on the global food system by looking first at transforming diets where they are already very rich, like North America and Europe. Shifting to less meat-intensive diets in these regions could have dramatic impacts on the food system. But just as important is to focus on the changing diets of newly affluent people — for example, new middle-class people in the cities of China, India, Indonesia and elsewhere. Will they continue to eat a mostly plant-based diet, with little waste, or will they move toward a meat-rich Western diet? In fact, what these people choose to eat in the coming decades will determine much of the future of the world’s food system.

Here is how our food policy and food choices make a difference in yield today.

the typical Midwestern farm could theoretically provide enough calories to feed about 15 people daily from each hectare of farmland. But there’s a catch: People would need to eat the corn and soybeans these farms grow directly, as part of a plant-based diet, with little food waste. What Cassidy found was that the actual Midwestern farm today provides only enough calories to feed roughly five people per day per hectare of farmland, mainly because the vast majority of the corn and soybeans are being used to make ethanol or to feed animals. Amazingly, feeding five people per day per hectare is comparable to the production of an average farm in Bangladesh today.

Foley also makes the case for why GMO crops aren’t the answer to increasing the amount of food grown worldwide.

Can we meet the challenges of changing food policy in the US and setting an example for other developing nations? I don’t know, but in order to feed the world in the decades ahead, we need to work for a sustainable global food policy and change the current unsustainable narrative.

Easy Black Beans and Rice

easy black beans and rice

Wanted to share with you an easy recipe for a quick dinner and leftovers.

Easy Black Beans and Rice

2 cups of cooked brown rice
1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of fire roasted diced tomatoes
1/2 cup of frozen corn
Salsa and chiles to taste

Mix all ingredients together in a pot, add salsa, chiles and any spices to your taste.

Serve with a salad and baked chips.

We buy the Engine 2 Brown Rice Tortillas from Whole Foods. I cut each tortilla into 6 wedges and bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

As you can see, I have the final product ready for lunch tomorrow.

This recipe is quick, easy to make and delicious.

 

PCRM Thanksgiving Menu

Delicata Squash

PCRM – Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (Dr. Barnard’s group) – has a great whole food, plant-based and oil-free menu for Thanksgiving on their website. Everything from soup to dessert.

The menu is:

  • Creamy Mushroom Bisque
  • Crispy Sage Mashed Sweet Potatoes
  • Delicata Squash Stuffed with Holiday Rice
  • Save-Cash Quinoa Loaf
  • Apple Crisp

They also have pointers to other recipes – like Zesty Cranberry Sauce or Pumpkin Custard Pie. They both sound yummy.

This is an Apple Crisp recipe from Dr. McDougall that is great, but sweetened with maple syrup.

Preparation Time:  20 minutes
Cooking Time:  40-50 minutes
Servings:  9

4 large firm apples, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup raisins or currents
¾ cup Grape Nuts cereal
¾ cup rolled oats
½ teaspoon cinnamon
½ cup maple syrup
2/3 cup apple juice
1 teaspoon cornstarch

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place the apple slices in a bowl and toss with the lemon juice and cinnamon.  Place in a non-stick square baking dish and sprinkle with the raisins or currents.

Mix the Grape nuts, rolled oats and cinnamon in a separate bowl.  Stir in the maple syrup.  Spread evenly over the apples.  Whisk the apple juice with the cornstarch until well mixed, then pour over the apples and topping.  Bake for 40 to 50 minutes until apples are tender.

Serve warm or cold.

Enjoy a whole food, plant-based and oil-free holiday this year. You’ll feel better.

More Voices Against Statins

pills

It seems I wasn’t the only one concerned about the American Heart Association and the American College of Cardiology’s new guidelines for lowering cholesterol and suggesting the use of statins for more patients.

On November 13, the New York Times published an op-ed piece entitled “Don’t Give More Patients Statins.” The piece was written by John D. Abramson, a lecturer at Harvard Medical School and the author of “Overdosed America: The Broken Promise of American Medicine,” and Rita F. Redberg, a cardiologist at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center and the editor of JAMA Internal Medicine. Continue reading

Why Don’t We Just Put It in the Water?

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New heart disease and stroke prevention guidelines were released Tuesday (Nov. 12) by the American Heart Association (AHA) and American College of Cardiology.

Highlights of these new guidelines are that obesity should be treated like a disease and cholesterol-lowering drugs could prevent cardiovascular disease in more Americans than previously thought. The guidelines also urge overall healthy diets rather than stressing about occasional indulgences. And they give doctors formulas to calculate heart and stroke risk specifically for African-Americans.

Cholesterol-lowering statin drugs should now be prescribed to an estimated 33 million Americans without cardiovascular disease who have a 7.5 percent or higher risk for a heart attack or stroke within the next 10 years.

If followed, this would double the number of people taking these drugs. Why don’t we just put it in the water? In 2010, there were 221 million adults 21 or older in the US. If we are considering giving these drugs to 65 million of them – that’s 30% of the adult population.

This is craziness. Drugs have side effects. The known side effects of statins – according to the Mayo Clinic are:

  • Muscle pain and damage
  • Liver damage
  • Digestive problems
  • Rash or flushing
  • Increased blood sugar or type 2 diabetes
  • Neurological side effects

If we give these drugs to more and more people, what are the long-term health implications? What are the long-term financial implications? Who is going to pay for a third of US adults to take these drugs?

When will we get serious about changing the dietary and exercise habits of Americans instead of giving them more pills to hide the problems?

When will we stop suggesting diets like DASH that can only reduce the risk of diseases like heart disease, stroke and diabetes, but won’t make you heart attack- and stoke-proof the way a whole food, plant-based, oil-free diet can?

Why are researchers and clinicians like Colin Campbell, Caldwell Esselstyn, Dean Ornish and Neal Barnard ignored when guidelines are created by groups like the AHA? These doctors have over 20+ years of research and studies that prove the effectiveness of whole food, plant-based diets and the health risks of consuming even moderate amounts of meat, dairy and eggs.

As Dr. Esselstyn reminds us, “Moderation Kills.”

In his book Whole: Rethinking the Science of Nutrition, Dr. Campbell described the cozy relationship between groups like the AHA and the drug manufacturers and dairy and meat industry groups. (And the takeover of government agencies and research groups by the same monied interests.) The AHA can’t tell you to change your diet and give up meat, dairy, eggs, sugar and oils without losing funding.

Statins won’t keep you from getting heart disease or stroke. Don’t ask your doctor if statins might help reduce your risk of chronic diseases. Instead, find a doctor who can help you change your diet and lifestyle to quickly show real results.

Read this account of a man who had his “first 8 stents” done at the age of 31, and 9 years and numerous procedures later, he became heart attack proof following Dr. Esselstyn’s recommendations. He writes:

I have lost 48 pounds. My blood work has gone from total cholesterol of 208, LDL of 93, HDL of 41, and triglycerides of 368 last June to most recent results of total cholesterol of 89, LDL of 19, HDL of 53, and triglycerides of 83. That transformation is nothing short of amazing.

Take control of your health. Follow the links in the Nutrition section on this site and get the information you need to find your own path to health and well-being.

A Place at the Table

Barbie and her children

Barbie Izquierdo and her children

In America today, in the richest country in the world, as many as 50 million people are food insecure – they don’t know where there next meal is coming from or don’t have enough money to feed themselves or their families between paychecks.

Most of these food insecure Americans are working – some two or three jobs – in an effort to make ends meet. Yet, they still need assistance.

A recent film, A Place at the Table, highlights hunger in America, its long-lasting impact on children’s development and ability to learn, and how food insecurity leads to obesity. Continue reading