Conscious Eating Conference

Conscious Eating Conference
This year’s Conscious Eating Conference has a dynamic lineup of speakers including author Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, Beyond Meat’s CEO Ethan Brown, and the founder and president of United Poultry Concerns, Karen Davis, among others.

This is sure to be a fantastic day with delicious vegan food, great presentations, focused breakout sessions and more.

The Conference takes place Sunday, April 6, 2014 at the David Brower Center in Berkeley, CA from 9:00am-6:00pm

This event is co-sponsored by United Poultry Concerns and Animal Place. Free for students! $15 for all others includes lunch and Continental breakfast.

With Age, Wisdom; with Wisdom, Vegan

Patti Breitman

Marin County author Patti Breitman and two co-authors have written a new book Never Too Late to Go Vegan. The book is designed as a resource for people over-50 who are interested in becoming vegan. It’s written for people who have the wisdom to understand the health, compassion for animals and environmental aspects of veganism, but haven’t discovered them yet. And it’s written for people who are currently vegan and want a better understanding – or some fabulous recipe ideas. The authors address the issue of change.

Change may be scary and challenging, but we’ve seen that before. We haven’t gotten to where we are in life without change.

We wrote this book to reassure you, bust your notions of what aging looks like, show you how to prepare scrumptious foods, and help you rediscover one of the most precious, life-affirming parts of yourself. We hope it will be a successful introduction to a lifestyle that brings you renewed energy, better health, a new sense of purpose, and a new experience of power to affect change. This is what it has done for us and for countless others who choose a vegan way of life.

Patti is passionate about helping everyone to become vegan – for whatever reason they choose. She sees  veganism as “a big tent,” that includes people who have different reasons for becoming vegan – for animal kindness, for health, for the environmental impact – and different ways of eating. She believes that even going vegan for one meal a day or one day a week is a move towards kindness and health.

A large crowd turned out at Book Passage last Saturday to hear the highly energetic, funny and enthusiastic Patti read from and discuss her book. The crowd was so large, and Patti is such an enthusiastic speaker, the store sold out of her book. It was great to see so many people interested in finding out about this life-changing lifestyle.

Book Passage Crown

Beyond scrumptious recipes and time-saving food tips, Never Too Late to Go Vegan will support you in your veganism by focusing on physical changes, cultural stereotypes, nutritional needs, and social issues that are specific to people in their fifties, sixties, seventies and beyond.

The authors address vegan myths like it’s too hard, or expensive, or vegans don’t get enough protein. They address, honestly, the impact of meat eating on the environment, hunger and animals – and why phrases like humanely raised and free range are deceptive feel-good messages designed to ease the meat eater’s conscience.

One chapter focuses on the vegan as caregiver for a loved one or close friend in a crisis or who needs long-term caregiving. If the person needing care is you and you are vegan, the authors provide empowering information about what to ask for from your caregiver or in assisted living or other care facilities.

Sprinkled throughout the book are the stories of vegans over 50 , along with personal reflections from Patti and the co-authors  about how they became vegan, how they share it with others, and what’s in their homes and fridges.

I haven’t had a chance to read all of the recipes, but there are some wonderful suggestions for “veganizing” familiar recipes and making simple, delicious vegan meals. One suggestion, from the book, is to cook large pots of rice and beans at the beginning of the week and then use the recipes for different spice combinations – Chinese, Indian, Creole and others – to mix with the rice and beans and have a different taste every day.

I love the title of the book’s Preface – With Age, Wisdom; with Wisdom, Vegan. Becoming vegan is a natural progression for those of us who are concerned about our health, the health of the world and all of its sentient beings.

You can read more about Patti in this article from the Marin Independent Journal.

More information about the book can be found at

Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Cookies with Chocolate Chips

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies with Chocolate Chips

This is a modification my wife created of a recipe from the Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease book by Caldwell Esselstyn and his wife Ann.

Here is the recipe

Oatmeal-Raisin Cookies with Chocolate Chips

1/3 cup of oat bran
1/3 cup oat flour
2 tbsp flaxseed meal
1/3-1/2 cup raisins
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/3 cup (heaping) applesauce
½ cup almond milk
1 tbsp vanilla
1 cup oats
2/3 cup chocolate chips (we use the Enjoy Life semi-sweet chocolate Mini Chips)

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine the first eight ingredients in the above order in a bowl. Add oats and mix well. Add additional oat flour to get the right consistency. Then add chocolate chips and lightly mix.

Put tablespoons of dough on a baking sheet

Bake for 25 minutes or until slightly golden on edges.

They are delicious, especially when they are warm. Give them a try.

The Law of Unintended Consequences – GMO Edition

Non-GMO Project

Poor General Mills. In January they announced that original Cheerios would be Non-GMO. However, getting there wasn’t easy, according to an article by Reuters – “U.S. food companies find going ‘non-GMO’ no easy feat

U.S. food companies are rushing to offer consumers thousands of products free of genetically modified ingredients but are finding the effort costly and cumbersome in a landscape dominated by the controversial biotech crops.

The hurdles are so high that the growing “GMO-free” trend could result in a price spike for consumers, industry experts say. Eighteen years after GMO crops were introduced to help farmers fight weeds and bugs, they are so pervasive in the supply chain that securing large and reliable supplies of non-GMO ingredients is nearly impossible in some cases.

According to the article, General Mills spent a year tracking down the ingredients they need – particularly corn and sugar, there are few GMO oats grown – to make Cheerios non-GMO free.

General Mills said it spent millions of dollars installing new equipment for processing non-GMO ingredients and setting up distinct transportation and handling facilities to keep non-GMO supplies from mixing with biotech supplies.

This says a lot about how pervasive these GMO crops have become. When a company with the buying clout of General Mills has to spend a year to find the ingredients it needs, no wonder the average consumer has a hard time finding and verifying non-GMO food – and why we need a national, mandatory verification and labeling standard.

Absent a national standard, many companies are using the Non-GMO Project‘s verification standards. According to the Project, the number of verified products has grown quickly.

The number of such non-GMO “verified” products surged to 14,800 in 2013, up from 4,000 in 2011, and 1,000 more products are in the verification pipeline, according to the Non-GMO Project Executive Director Megan Westgate. Sales last year of verified products hit $5 billion, up from $1.7 billion in 2011, she said.

“We get about 80 new companies enrollment inquiries every week. People want non-GMO,” Westgate said.

One driver for this is the announcement by Whole Foods that all products on their shelves will need to be labeled for GMO content by 2018. Other companies like Chipolte and Post Foods are moving to more non-GMO products.

While it is great to see companies reacting to consumer demand for non-GMO foods – although General Mills said they came to this decision independent of pressure from consumers and non-GMO advocates – it is frustrating to think that there will be a premium paid by consumers for these products – while Monsanto and other GMO seed companies keep pushing their products to more and more farmers.

More than 90 percent of the corn and soybeans now grown in the United States are GMO strains. This means the pipelines for harvesting, storing, transporting, mixing and purchasing the commodities are awash in the biotech supplies.

To supply conventional crops, farmers must plant non-GMO seeds, prevent pollen or other contaminants from drifting in from neighboring fields, and store and transport the grain separately from GMO crops. The separation must be maintained all the way to the finished product.

As consumers, we need to vote with our wallets and buy non-GMO products and ask the stores where we buy our food to push their vendors to make their products non-GMO. It is the only way we’ll be able to loosen the grip on the food market by Monsanto and the other GMO seed producers.

The tide is starting to turn, let’s keep it going.

Delicious Vegan Apple Crisp

apple crisp and vanilla frozen dessertI made this wonderful apple crisp for dessert tonight. The recipe is modified from the one in The Starch Solution by John and Mary McDougall.

It’s real easy to make. I peeled three large Fuji apples and two Granny Smiths and then cut them into thin slices. I mixed in some lemon juice and half teaspoon of cinnamon.

Preheat the oven to 350 and get ready to start making the topping. Here’s what it looks like before the topping.

For the topping I used one cup of oats, half cup of Ezekiel 4:9 Cereal (or you can use Grape Nuts or similar) and half teaspoon of cinnamon. Stir and then add maple syrup to bind them. The original recipe calls for 3/4 cup, but that makes it very sweet.

Once the topping is ready, spread it over the apples. Then mix 2/3 cup of apple juice and 1 teaspoon of corn starch and pour over the top. You can use a little apple juice in the topping instead of the syrup.

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#apple #crisp ready to bake!

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Ready to bake for 40-50 minutes. The smell in the kitchen is heavenly.

Serve warm or at room temperature by itself or with a vanilla frozen dessert. A great easy to make vegan dessert. Enjoy.

The New York Times Publishes More Nonsense on Nutrition

New York TimesGary Taubes, who I had discussed earlier in my review of Colin Campbell’s book The Low-Carb Fraud, had a opinion piece in the New York Times Sunday Review this week. The title was “Why is Nutrition So Confusing?”

He talked about all of the research nutritionist have done in the past 50 years related to Obesity and Type 2 Diabetes, yet the number of people with these chronic diseases keep increasing.

It would be nice to think that this deluge of research has brought clarity to the issue. The trend data argue otherwise. If we understand these disorders so well, why have we failed so miserably to prevent them?

Because the nutrition research community has failed to establish reliable, unambiguous knowledge about the environmental triggers of obesity and diabetes, it has opened the door to a diversity of opinions on the subject, of hypotheses about cause, cure and prevention, many of which cannot be refuted by the existing evidence. Everyone has a theory. The evidence doesn’t exist to say unequivocally who’s wrong.

However, Taubes is the author of two best-selling books advocating a low-carb diet. He has a theory – the closest he gets to letting us in on his con game is this.

Obesity and diabetes are epidemic, and yet the only relevant fact on which relatively unambiguous data exist to support a consensus is that most of us are surely eating too much of something. (My vote is sugars and refined grains; we all have our biases.) Making meaningful inroads against obesity and diabetes on a population level requires that we know how to treat and prevent it on an individual level. We’re going to have to stop believing we know the answer, and challenge ourselves to come up with trials that do a better job of testing our beliefs.

What he fails to mention is that there have been trials, studies and proven methods that do halt or reverse diabetes, obesity and related chronic illnesses like heart disease, stroke and erectile dysfunction.

Work done by Drs. Caldwell Esselstyn, Neal Barnard, Dean Ornish, John McDougall, Colin Campbell and many others have shown that a whole food, plant-based diet is the healthiest way to eat.

Last Spring, Kaiser Permanente, America’s largest managed care company and hospital system, told their doctors to “consider recommending a plant-based diet to all their patients…encouraging whole, plant-based foods and discouraging meats, dairy products, and eggs as well as all refined and processed foods.” In order to hold down healthcare costs and control the spread of diabetes.

I am appalled that the Times printed his “opinion” piece without identifying him as someone who is part of, as he put it in the article, “the noise generated by a dysfunctional research establishment.”

The Times refers to Taubes as “a health and science journalist and co-founder of the Nutrition Science Initiative.”

The Nutrition Science Initiative is

unencumbered by bureaucracy or by an obligation to do anything other than find the truth. We can move quickly and efficiently to execute a novel plan: harness the talents of the best scientists in the field and channel their skills into one concerted effort to generate reliable knowledge, once and for all, on the nature of a healthy diet.

The companies that produce dairy, eggs, meat, sugar and processed foods don’t want the majority of Americans to stop buying their products. So they spend lots of money lobbying Congress to not change food policy or dietary guidelines.

Whole food, plant-based advocates have to find a way to break through the noise of fad diets and the confusion fed us by the media and our own government.

The truth is out there. It is unambiguous. Whole food, plant-based diets work.

Want to Eat Fresh? – Make it Yourself

Stop Using AzodicarbonamideThe furor over the chemical in Subway’s bread, brought to light by the blogger Food Babe, is just another symptom of our broken industrialized food system.

Subway, other restaurants and processed food companies do everything they can to minimize cost and create profit. They also engineer their products to look and smell delicious – and maximize shelf life. In order to do all of this they use cheap ingredients (which probably means GMO products) and add additives and chemicals to provide the look and smell that will attract consumers. Our food is engineered by chemists, not chefs. “Cooking” in this way guarantees that there are going to be ingredients that are unhealthy and unsafe for humans.

Scanning the headlines on Food Babe’s site, I found these other examples of unhealthy and unsafe food:

  • Illegal GMO Wheat in Kraft Macaroni & Cheese
  • How Pepperidge Farm Duped My Family
  • The Shocking Ingredients in Beer
  • You Won’t Believe Where Silly Putty is Hiding in Your Food
  • Do You Eat Beaver Butt? (I’m not making this stuff up – honestly, I didn’t even want to know)

Another troubling aspect of this story is the fact that Subway doesn’t use this chemical in their bread in the EU, United Kingdom and Australia. Why? Perhaps in those places the government watchdogs haven’t been infiltrated with former executives from corporations that don’t want stringent rules regarding food additives, or the laws that the regulatory agencies enforce haven’t been watered down by legislators influenced by corporate money.

If you want to “Eat Fresh” and stay healthy, you need to cook for yourself and your family.

There are lots of easy to prepare recipes – soups, stews or casseroles – that will make sufficient food for dinner and have left-overs for lunches. You will also save money by not eating out so often.

When my wife and I create our weekly menu we plan both dinners and lunches – entrees and vegetables. We try to do a lot of the cooking on the weekend so we’re not having to make a soup or other dish after work on a weeknight – or be tempted to eat out.

When you prepare your own food you control what goes in it. If you can’t find fresh vegetables, use frozen. Stock up on the ingredients you use most often when they go on sale so you have on hand what you need.

We all need to take charge of our health and one of the best ways to do this is to spend more time in the kitchen cooking for ourselves.

Blessed Rain

Singing in the RainIt’s raining in Northern California this morning. What a blessing. While the rest of the country has been getting record cold and precipitation, we are experiencing an unprecedented drought this winter. Here are some details I found at the National Weather Service.

January 2014 re-wrote the record books in Sacramento. A plethora of records set in Sacramento California throughout January 2014 during this historic drought. Here are the highlights, many records never seen before in the capital City.

1. Longest dry period during the rainy season (nov-mar) from Dec 7, 2013 to Jan 29, 2014, 52 days. The old record was 44 days from Nov 15, 1976 to Dec 28, 1976 ( measurable rain)

2. The third driest Jan in history since 1850 with 0.20 inches dating back to smithsonian institution records.

3. Jan precipitation ended with 0.20 inches. Normal is 3.97 inches. This is only 5 percent of normal.

4. Jan 2014 broke highest average maximum temperature with 66.1 degrees. The old record was 62.1 degrees set in 1976. Average monthly maximum only 55.1 degrees.

5. New all-time record high for the month of Jan set on Jan 24, 2014 of 79 degrees. The old record was 74 degrees on Jan 31,1976.

6. Jan 2014 broke the number of days with high temperatures of 70 degrees or higher at 7 days. The previous record was 6 days set in 1976.

7. Tied the record for consecutive days of high temperatures at 70 degrees or higher with 3 days in Jan from Jan 23, 2014 to Jan 25 2014. Previous record was Jan 29, 1976 to Jan 31, 1976.

8. Record high temperatures set on 12 different days in Jan 2014

Jan 1….65 degrees….tied record set in 1887.
Jan 2….66 degrees….breaks record of 65 set in 1940.
Jan 3….66 degrees….breaks record of 64 set in 2012.
Jan 7….65 degrees….tied record set in 2012.
Jan 15…69 degrees….breaks record of 68 set in 2003.
Jan 16…71 degrees….breaks record of 68 set in 1991.
Jan 18…70 degrees….tied record set in 1976.
Jan 20…71 degrees….breaks record of 69 set in 1976.
Jan 23…71 degrees….breaks record of 69 set in 1948.
Jan 24…79 degrees….breaks record of 70 set in 1984.(All-time)jan
Jan 25…74 degrees….breaks record of 71 set in 1899.
Jan 28…70 degrees….tied record set in 1984.

9. Everyday in Jan 2014 the daytime high temperature was above normal for the month, normal high range is 53 to 57 degrees. Jan 2014 was 57 to 79 degrees.

10. Finally, we are hoping for a fabulous Feb 2014. All-time record for rain in Feb is 10.30 inches set in 1986.

Special note: Sacramento statical data was used due to its lengthy history for records dating back to 1849 for precipitation and 1877 for temperatures. Several other locations throughout interior northern California did break records, but due to the detailed data base for Sacramento detailed information was verified.

The 10-day forecast does show a chance of more precipitation later this week and next weekend.  I’ll pray for more rain here and milder temperatures for my friends back east.