Saturday, February 27, 2010

OK beef, now its personal

This article caught my interest today: Alberta's high bowel disease rates studied

Why you may ask?

Because my little brother suffers from ulcerative colitis, which is an inflammatory bowel disease and more specifically, chronic inflammation of the large intestine.

Since his diagnoses about 5 years ago I have watched him relapse and then go into remission, go in and out of the hospital, meet with numerous doctors and specialist, and go on and off massive amounts of serious and hard drugs, all in an attempt to treat and manage his condition.

Recently he has started seeking out alternative methods of treatment, has been very diligent about his diet and has quit smoking and drinking (these are MASSIVE steps for him, I must point out).

When he first got sick, we didn't know what on earth was happening. Here was a healthy young guy in his 20's suddenly losing 20 lbs in a week, skin turning grey and ashen, with no appetite and massive, debilitating abdominal pains. The first thing the doctors told us was that it may be cancer ...

Thank god that was not the case, however it took over TWO YEARS to properly diagnose him and in that time I watched him go through hell. The drugs he was put on and then taken off had an unreal effect on him not only physically (bone density loss due to course after course of Predinosone treatments, along with massive weight gain followed by rapid loss, crazy and painful full body acne ... it was horrible), there were also constant bouts of emotional distress, anger and depression.

My heart broke to see him in such pain and discomfort, to see him shuffle back and forth to doctors offices, not knowing what was wrong or how to make it better.

And even now that we know what we are dealing with and he has started a new treatment that seems to be helping (Remicade, which again is not a life long treatment and has some very serious side effects and possible risks, but is something that is working for the time being), I still get very emotional thinking about it all.

I dread those emails from my Mother when I hear that he is having a bad day or is falling back into relapse. I want to hop on a plane, fly home and just hug the shit out of him and somehow make it all better.

I am and always be his big sister, and I will always worry about him. No matter how old we are.

So clearly, I have a vested interest in all things Crohn's and Colitis related. I am constantly seeking out more information on the disease, its causes and its treatments.

And it all get even more emotional and personal when I read things like this:

Researchers also want to look at whether there are lifestyle or environmental triggers. They will spend the next five years comparing 600 people with the diseases to 600 healthy patients to look for clues.

Panaccione wants to examine whether there is any link with a similar disease in cattle. He said no one has ever proven such a link, but in areas of India where they don't eat beef, the rates of bowel disease are very low.

My brain starts to go a mile a minute ... the fire in my belly confirms to me that my feelings that meat and animal products are BAD BAD BAD for us and in time, will hurt, if not kill us.

And its not the first time I have read this. Time and again I come across statements in regards to IBS, advising to reduce sulfur-containing foods in the diet, especially red meat.

Numerous studies link dairy consumption to increased IBS relapses.

This is taken from website

Here is a list of typical foods to eliminate from an Ulcerative Colitis diet:

Milk products. Saturated fats as found in animal products and dairy foods. Inflammatory foods such as alcohol, caffeine and refined sugars. Intestinal irritants like cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, cauliflower and broccoli. Corn products. Foods containing gluten, which include foods produced from wheat, barley, triticale and oats. The usual allergenic suspects such as eggs, peanuts and soy. High-sugar fruits like watermelon, pineapple and grapes.

So basically, what I am saying is that when I read an article that states that instances of bowel disease are rare in those areas where local diets don't include the consumption of beef, it makes me think more and more about my lifestyle choices and what I can do, without being offensive or preachy to get others to think seriusley about theirs.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010


I love lasagan. Hot and bubbly noodley goodness with whatever selection of delicious veggies tickle your fancy .. what’s not to love?!

This recipe is a combo of a few that I have used over the years, with of course my own personal tweaks.

It’s divine … I hope you enjoy!


9 whole wheat lasagna noodles
1 pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
5 large Portobello mushrooms, sliced
2 small zucchinis, sliced into rounds
1 tbsp safflower oil
1 pkg soft organic tofu
1 pkg pressed organic tofu
1/4 cup organic soymilk
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 1/2 tbsp dried basil
2 tsp salt
1 jar of organic tomato sauce
2 cups Vegan Gourmet Mozzarella Cheese Alternative, shredded

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Prepare the lasagna noodles according to package directions. Drain carefully and set aside on a towel.

Heat ½ tbsp oil in a large pan over medium heat, Sauté mushrooms until soft and dark. Remove from heat and set aside

In the same pan, heat remaining oil over medium heat. Add zucchini rounds and sauté until soft and lightly browned. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a blender, combine tofu, soymilk, garlic powder, lemon juice, basil and salt and blend until smooth.

In a large bowl, mix tofu blend and spinach until well combined

Cover the bottom of baking pan with a layer of tomato sauce, followed by a layer of noodles.

Add layer of tofu spinach mix and then another layer of noodles.

Evenly layer mushrooms & zucchini, then tomato sauce, followed by another layer of noodles

Use remaining tofu spinach mixture as final layer, ending with the remaining noodles covered by the remaining tomato sauce.

Top with shredded “mozzarella”

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, or until tomato sauce bubbles.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Super Size my ASS please

Anyone know what a portion size is?

I know I do, but that's because I read and learn and you know, take an interest in my self and well being.

It would appear, according to this article: Portion Distortion: How Big Is a Serving?, that most of the US of A has been duped by the always honest and caring FDA and had no idea what an actual portion size should be.

According to the report, most nutritionists would advise that the best way to determine a proper amount of food would be to read the Nutrition Facts label and measure it out.

And maybe this would work, IF portion sizes were actually correct.

Over the past 20 years, average portion sizes of all foods, including hamburgers, French fries, soft drinks, and salty snacks have increased, in some cases by more than 50 percent. That means because the standard serving size shown on a package label determines all the other nutritional values, the calorie counts are often inaccurate—and thus, misleading.

A study by Tufts University recently showed significant discrepancies between the actual caloric content and the information provided. On average, caloric content of was under-reported by 18% and upwards of almost 200%.

“If people use published calorie contents for weight control, discrepancies of this magnitude could result in weight gain of many pounds a year,” said senior author Dr. Susan B. Roberts, a professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University.

It is noted that the discrepancies are due to FDA oversights of Nutrition Fact information labels and that current FDA rules tend to be more lenient towards under reporting calories than over reporting them.
However, it would seem that the FDA are attempting to fix the system:

“We are actively looking at serving size and evaluating what steps we need to take,” said Barbara O. Schneeman.

Sadly, this wont be the first time the FDA has talked about re-examining serving size recommendations. Back in 2005 they made the same claims but that was never accomplished.

Here's hoping that this time around they keep to their word ...

Hey, I'm trying to be optimistic here, give me some slack :)

Lazy and Mis-informed

That is apparently what most of us Canadians are.

A new report that looks at eating trends in Canada suggests that Canadians are eating fewer homemade meals, and gravitating toward convenient pre-packaged meals.

Canadian households consumed an average of 380 meals with homemade dishes in 2009, down from 398 in 2008 and 423 in 2003.

Halifax dietitian Tristaca Caldwell says she always prefers her clients to eat homemade foods.

Source: Canadians gravitate toward meals that are convenient, claim to be nutritious

This is a sad state of affairs.

How is this possible? With the vast array of knowledge available to us, most if it just at our fingertips, how is it that people continue to make mis-informed, uneducated, healthy life choices.

Are you that lazy that you don't want to read the ingredients or pick up a book to find out what you are about to put in your body?

I really don't get it.

PEOPLE! Take ownership of your health and well being - Be accountable for you diets and what you use to fuel your bodies.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Yes Vegans Can

I read this today and it range very true.

I get a lot of these questions posed to me pretty much daily once the person asking knows I am a vegan. It can be annoying and frustrating to have to answer them over and over again but I am trying to realize that the more times I answer the more people are being educated.

There are many myths about veganism. Just to set the record straight, here are 25 things that vegans can do!

Yes vegans can...

...get enough protein. successful professionals.

...step on bugs accidentally. body builders.

...avoid eating soy.

...shave their armpits.

...kill less plants by eating plants than animals. at a non-vegan restaurant. an athletic competition.

...get enough calcium without milk.

...accidentally eat something that's not vegan.

...own a leather jacket from their pre-vegan days. cooked food.

...resist "cheating." healthy and live long. straight men.

...drink alcohol.

...have "pets." about humans just as much as animals. straight women. junk food. Christians, or any other religion. sugar.

...dislike PETA.

...stay vegan!

So there you have it! See how normal being vegan can be?


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Sautéed Spinach and Bok Choy

Spinach is my favourite edible flowering plant.

My all time favourite Asian veggie hands down is the succulent Chinese cabbage with its white stems and dark green leaves also known as Bok Choy.

Available year round, super cheap and crazy easy to cook, what more can a girl ask for?

Just a little oil, S&P and some toasted sesame seeds and a hot pan is all you need to make a simply, tasty, crispy dish.

I’ve whipped this up for lunch two day in a row now and if I can do this before I head off to work then anyone can do it. Trust me.

Today I added some sesame tofu to mix it up ... yum factor instantly doubled :P

Mediterranean Chickpea Wrap

As my adventures in cooking continue, I have fallen deeply in love with the magical little chickpea.

These cute, little beige beans, also known as the garbanzo bean, Indian pea, ceci bean, Bengal gram are chock full of protein, fibre and taste. And they are crazy versatile to boot.

POP QUIZ: Did you know that they are one of the earliest cultivated vegetables. 7,500-year-old - Wowza!

I decided over the weekend to cracked open one of my fabulous Christmas -gift cookbooks, The Conscious Cook by Tal Ronnen and took a stab at the Mediterranean Chickpea Wrap. It was described as being “a great mash-up of strong ingredients” and it had banana peppers in it so that was all I needed to be sold.

My edits were were simple as I chose to omit the sun dried tomatoes (not on my fave list) and shredded the carrot and onion, but next time I will dice them instead of shred. I can see how it would have given the final mix a bit more texture.

However, it ended up being a delicious fiery dish that has worked well in wraps, pitas and mixed in with salad greens and spinach.

Yet another addition to the new list of standards.


2 tbsp safflower oil
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 small onion, peeled and diced
½ cup banana peppers, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp red pepper flakes
½ tsp cayenne (or more to taste)
Fresh ground black pepper
1 can chickpeas, with liquid
1 cup water
2 cups white potato, diced

Over medium heat, sauté carrots, onion, peppers and garlic in oil for 5 – 7 minutes, stirring frequently

Add cumin, red pepper, cayenne and black pepper to taste and sauté another minute

Add chickpeas with liquid and water and bring to a boil.

Add potatoes and simmer for 20 minutes or until potatoes are soft.

Serve in wraps, pita or tossed in salad.