Kaiser Embraces the Plant-Based Diet

kaiser-permanente-logoBack in September 2013, the first post on this blog was about Kaiser Permanente advising 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.

I believe they want their patients to be healthy, but… given that they are a managed care organization, the more of their patients who eat a plant-based diet, the better their bottom line looks.

Plant-based DietAlong with the recommendation, Kaiser produced this 20-page guide with information about the “New Food Groups” their patients will be eating from, tips for getting started, and sample menus and recipes.

Reading this guide, I thought I was reading any number of books by Drs. Esselstyn, Campbell, McDougall, Barnard or Ornish.

This explanation of the benefits of a plant-based diet read like the list of benefits from Dr. Campbell’s book Whole.

  • Lower cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar
  • Reversal or prevention of heart disease
  • Longer life
  • Healthier weight
  • Lower risk of cancer and diabetes
  • May slow the progression of certain types of cancer
  • Improved symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
  • Fewer medication
  • Lower food costs
  • Good for the environment

The guide recommends that patients with heart issues stay away from nuts and oils, like Dr. Esselstyn.

What a radical idea – improving health with diet, not pills.

The resources section at the end of the guide points patients to the Forks Over Knives movie and website, and the websites and books of the good doctors listed above. You can download the guide from their website.

Kaiser is my health care provider and the doctor I see there is not necessarily on board with this program. Despite my telling him that I eat a plant-based diet, he suggested I take fish oil to ensure I get enough Omega-3s. He also wanted to make sure that I was getting enough protein. I should have asked him if he ever tells his omnivore patients to eat less.

However, it is great to see the health care establishment embracing plant-based diets for their patients. Whatever the motivation, their patients win.

Let Them Eat Cake!?

Chocolate Cake

Photo from Flickr by texascooking

Great article today at the Guardian on fad diets by Emma Brockes. Every year in January there is a new crop of fad diets to help people forget the one they tried last January that didn’t work.

She reminds her readers that when the Paleo Diet first was introduced by the New York Times – in the Style section – “everyone mocked it for going so far beyond parody that it threatened to service another trend piece by actually spelling the death of something?” However, now its gone mainstream and this month there were four new Paleo books available – including a dessert cookbook. Did our Paleo ancestors make the first lava cake?

This years new fad – the MAD or Marie Antoinette Diet – How to Eat Cake and Still Lose Weight. The author, Karen Wheeler, was inspired by reading about Marie Antoinette and her eating habits. Pastries for breakfast, a hearty lunch, small dinner and 12 hours of fasting.

As the book blurb has it, “the French queen ate cake for breakfast and was fond of hot chocolate, but seems to have known instinctively what scientific studies have recently shown: for example, it is not what you eat, but when you eat it.”

As I wrote earlier this month – don’t try to lose weight this year with a fad diet, make a lifestyle change for better overall health.


The problem is that a large part of the diet industry would like you to fail and come back next year for more. The best-seller lists know us too well – our lack of attention span, our need to be teased and bullied into a regimen – and reward us with built-in obsolescence.

The cycle of weight loss and gain that characterizes most individual diets, applies to the industry as a whole.

Don’t get trapped in this game, take charge of your health.

If you need help, Rip Esselstyn of the Engine 2 Diet fame is sponsoring a 28-Day Challenge in collaboration with Whole Foods Markets. The stores are holding classes, demos and dinners to make it easy to get Plant-Strong. The Challenge begins February 3, so find a Whole Foods near you and get started.

Adonis Cake


My wife and I are part of a very active Vegan Meetup here in Marin County. One of the ongoing activities is a Book Club. We recently read Living Among Meat Eaters: The Vegetarian’s Survival Handbook by Carol Adams. The book was published in 2001, and feels a bit dated, but has some good advice for Vegans and Vegetarians navigating the world of carnivores. Out next book is Mind If I Order the Cheeseburger?: And Other Questions People Ask Vegans by Sherry Colb.

By now you’re saying what does all this have to do with the chocolate cake pictured above?

Well, the Book Club had a potluck last night and the cake and a pot of Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup were our contributions. I made the soup and my wife baked the cake.

The cake recipe is from Rip Esselstyn’s book My Beef with Meat. The picture above is from the Engine 2 Diet Facebook page. We made ours in a 9×9 glass dish (no oil needed in the pan, and I forgot to take a picture). It was a great hit and was gone in 10 minutes. The cake was moist and chocolatey and the frosting was sweet and delicious.

This was so easy to make. Since we didn’t take the cake out of the pan to frost, we have enough frosting for another cake. We’re going to make one tonight. Any volunteers to help us eat it?

Here’s the recipe

Adonis Cake

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
2/3 cup maple syrup
6 tbsp unsweetened applesauce
1 tbsp white vinegar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup cold water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set out a 9×9 nonstick cake pan

In a mixing bowl, combine flour, cocoa and baking soda and mix well
Add the maple syrup, applesauce, vinegar, vanilla and water and mix well to combine
Pour the batter into the cake pan. Bake for 30 minutes
While the cake is cooking, make the frosting

When the cake is done, remove it from the oven and set aside to cool. When cooled, frost with Adonis Frosting

Adonis Frosting
Makes about 2 cups of frosting, enough for one Adonis Cake

1 12 oz package of silken tofu
3/4 cup dairy-free, semisweet chocolate chips, melted
1 tbsp vanilla extract

Place the silken tofu in a food processor. Add the melted chocolate chips to the food processor and blend

Add the vanilla and blend until chocolatey and creamy.

Taste at this stage, if using grain-sweetened chips, you may want to add a bit of maple syrup-or not (we added just under a tablespoon). Trust your own taste.
Use immediately or refrigerate until ready to use.

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.


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.