A Book That Could Save Your Life

A Book That Could Save Your Life, and make you much healthier whether you are undergoing chemo or not. Stay Healthy During Chemo by Mike Herbert, ND, with
Joseph Dispenza

(This is the ninth post in a series about my past year. I moved to Mexico…my dream come true…and soon thereafter found myself dealing with cancer and in the middle of a nightmare. I chose to stay in Mexico for all my treatment, and I received great medical and alternative care. I am now well, cancer-free…and remarkably slim.)

By the time I got out of the hospital from the surgery I had pretty much snapped out of my initial state of catatonic shock and knew I had to take charge of what was happening to me. I used the time between the surgery and the start of chemo to put together a team of people in the alternative wellness fields who could support me as I went through chemo and radiation. I had no idea when we moved to San Miguel de Allende that it is a center for alternative medicine. I believe that I received guidance on just the right people to connect with. One of the very helpful people I found was Mike Herbert, who, with Joseph Dispenza, wrote an amazing book, “Stay Healthy During Chemo, the Five Essential Steps”. Mike lives in San Miguel and I was able to have several consultations with him about my diet and the other supportive steps outlined in the book. I read this book straight through, and immediately I felt a real understanding of the connection between cancer and nutrition, a subject that the author has researched thoroughly. He did not have to convince me to do this diet and the other things recommended. I was as highly motivated as a person could be. I really wanted to stay alive and nothing seemed too radical for me. I used this book as a reference throughout my treatment and I think that ANY PERSON WHO FACES THIS CHALLENGE OWES IT TO HERSELF TO GET THIS BOOK. It is available on Amazon. I can honestly say that the information in this book played an important role in saving my life, and it certainly made going through chemo much easier.
This book covers so many important things that can make the difference as to whether you get through chemo with relative ease or you are completely wiped out by it. The five steps discussed are attitude, methods that you can use to detox, diet, supplements, and the balance between exercise and rest. All of these important topics are discussed in detail, and in language that is clear and understandable.
Even if you don’t have an opportunity to meet with Mike Herbert personally, this book will be very helpful. The overall positivity of the book is contagious, and many ideas he shares about attitude are very empowering. One of the main points made is that while chemo can kill malignant cells, it is our job to make ourselves healthy. We can do this by following the program set out in this book. What a patient does during chemo will determine how well he/she will get through it. What a patient does after chemo will establish a lifetime of ongoing health. I intend to stay on this diet, with a few modifications, for the rest of my life. One side effect of all this is that I am now very slim, and I like that. (I will discuss my personal diet in a future post.)
One of the main thing a person has to deal with at the beginning of a journey like this is fear of the unknown. This book helps you to move through the fears, find a way to take charge of your own recovery, and to plan your way to move forward with your life after chemo is over.
“A very powerful book that will change your perspective forever on recovering from cancer. It provides excellent and sound guidelines on protecting your immune system while undergoing and recovering from chemotherapy. This groundbreaking book will help you conquer your fears and anxieties and replace them with healing and hope.” Ann Louise Gittleman, PhD, CNS

Start the Day Right. World-Class Oatmeal.

I ask you, “What could be a more right way to start the day than to wake up and find breakfast already cooked?” I personally like that very quality about this little breakfast that I whip up a couple of times a week. It is 4 servings, and leftovers keep in the fridge.

And, by the way…I apologize for neglecting this blog. I have honestly been pretty fascinated with Instagram and have been spending time learning to love my iPhone camera. As to FaceBook, I am still avoiding engaging. Somehow, the whole Instagram thing seems to have helped me get over a creative block, and one of the creative things I’m getting into is cooking. It’s hard to get in a cooking groove in a town like San Miguel de Allende, where there are so many good restaurants that are affordable and fun. (For example…Aguamiel.) But, there is nothing like a good home-cooked meal and an evening of just hanging in the house.

But, let’s get back to breakfast. Fred and I rarely go out for breakfast. We both like to eat and read the news and just sit around a bit before we officially start the day. So, we have leisurely mornings. But, sometimes I’m not in the mood for a lot of cooking, and I’m happy to have this ready. If you find your mornings rushed, this one is just right for you. You start this one the night before. It is wheat-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, and full of goodness.

In a pan on top of the stove, heat 2 T. coconut oil.                                                                                 Add 1 large green-skinned apple, chopped.                                                                                             Saute the apple for about three minutes, then bring 3 cups of oat milk to a boil.(Or any dairy-free milk of your choice. Just no rice milk because it is made with white rice and turns to sugar quickly.)                                                                                                                                   Add a good sprinkle of cinnamon, salt to taste, and 1/4 tea vanilla.

When the  milk comes to a boil, add one cup of steel-cut oats. Turn off the heat and put a lid on the pan. If you are stoned, double check on turning off the heat, otherwise you’ll lie in bed and think about it. This recipe is to help you look forward to getting up and pretending that the cooking angels have visited your kitchen over night. Now, when you get up in the morning all you have to do is heat this up, put it in a bowl, and top it with chopped pecans. Buen provecho.

It’s Gazpacho Time

Last night Fred and I were the guests of Mary and Brian ONeil. The star of the show (other than their wonderful pups, Buster and Sister) was a gazpacho, far and away the best I’ve ever had. It was a recipe from “The Vegetarian Epicure,” and Mary, like any good cook, had tweaked it a bit. The soup could probably be made with any decent blender, but it was the NutriBullet that caught my eye. I had been encountering these gadgets in several of my friends’ kitchens. I had even had a great cocktail made with one, but the light bulb hadn’t gone off that I needed one, too.
I had worked myself into being in the market for a Vitamix because my morning protein drinks had been far from smooth. I wanted my fruit pulverized. I wanted to be able to throw in a couple or three ice cubes and get the effect of a smoothie, not fruit on the rocks. But, instead of the $450 Vitamix, I got the $150 NutriBullet instead. It is less expensive, and much lighter weight. It does the trick with completely liquefying whatever you put in it. My first experience with it was to duplicate the gazpacho from last night. Score!

Gazpacho

1 small onion, chopped
1 large cucumber, peeled and seeded
1 jar roasted peppers. 12 oz jar rinsed and coarse chopped
3 tomatoes, coarse chopped
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
2 cloves garlic
11 oz tomato or v8 juice. Note: you will add some of this to each batch.
5 fresh basil leaves
2 T lemon juice
2 T brown sugar
1/8 tsp cayenne
3 eggs. Note: if you do not eat eggs, just leave this out and when you get to the mayonnaise part, use 5 T. I always use Vegannaise.
Add these things in NutriBullet (or blender) in about three batches. When a batch is done, transfer to large pot.
Slowly heat and slowly cook for about 10 minutes to 15 minutes.
Once there are a few bubbles, the eggs have cooked enough.
Remove from heat and let cool.
When cool, add 2 heaping T mayonnaise to a blender full of the soup. Mix back into the rest with a whisk.
Garnishes are optional. I am using a basil sprig. Chopped avocado would be nice, but I couldn’t find a ripe one.

I served this will a grilled hummus sandwich, made with Earth Balance and gluten-free bread. And, of course, pickles.

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A Mid-Summer’s Night’s Dream of Pasta

I Dream of Pasta on a Mid-Summer’s Night

I must confess. Just because I’ve given up wheat doesn’t mean I’ve gotten over my lifelong love affair with pasta. It just means I’ve found some great wheat-free versions. There are several available and one of my favorites is Ancient Harvest Quinoa Pasta. It comes in a green box. I find it at Whole Foods. It is a corn-quinoa blend. The only restaurant I’ve found in Nashville that has a great gluten-free pasta is Porta Via, so I usually just scratch my pasta itch at home. Tonight I’m doing just that with

Perfect Summer Pasta. Everything here is fresh.
This makes 4 sort of medium servings. If you are feeding 4 hungry people I suggest doubling this recipe and planning on a bit of left overs.

Start by sautéing in about 1 1/2 T of olive oil heated on high heat in a large skillet
1 cup of chopped mushrooms. I don’t wash mushrooms because I don’t want them to get waterlogged. I wipe them off with a damp paper towel.
You want them to absorb the oil and cook over low heat for about 10 minutes. I cook them separately because I want them to retain their personality. When they are done, put them in a bowl and set aside.
In the same skillet, now empty, add 2 more T olive oil and sautée
1 large onion that you chopped while the mushrooms were cooking.
After about 5 minutes add 4 cloves chopped garlic.
While this continues to cook over medium heat chop
3 very large tomatoes. Add to the onions and garlic. Chop about
1 cup fresh basil. Add to the mixture.
After about 5 more minutes add
1/4 cup nice red wine. Bring to boil, then turn to low heat. Add
1 tea salt
1T brown sugar
Now add the mushrooms
Let this simmer over low heat until it thickens up a bit.
Just sit on the porch and have a glass of that red wine while you wait.

The Pasta
I cook according to the directions on the box.
Just put some pasta in a bowl, add the tomato sauce, and you could also add a scoop of that great tofu/cashew cheese that is mentioned in the pizza receipt. ( There’s a reason I keep a batch of this stuff in the fridge.). You can buy vegan “cheese” in the store, but this version is so much better.
Get ready to have a wonderful mid-summer’s night pasta dream.

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Vegan. Thinking About It? Part II. Spring Rolls

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Vegan. Thinking About It Part II

If you want to read this later, or not at all, skip on down to the recipe for these great rolls. This is a summer dinner that requires no cooking and will make your friends think you are into magic.

When I left off yesterday I was just about to tell you what caused me to get serious about taking my own diet from vegetarian to vegan. I bet you’re thinking it’s because of the horrible lives that dairy animals and egg-producing factory-farmed chickens lead? Or perhaps because I sincerely believe that your health is directly connected to what you eat. Right? Actually, no, although those factors are certainly important. Some depressing photos of myself 30 pounds ago is what got me to a place of radical change. Everything I read and heard about the vegan diet pointed out one great result: weight loss. One of the first books I tried was “Skinny Bitch”. It is so hard-core about animal suffering that I just couldn’t read parts of it, but the title definitely stuck with me. I coupled this with knowing that I needed to give up wheat. Not because of allergy but because of reading the book “Wheat Belly”. I was a bread and pasta junky. Everything in that book rang true to me. Since making these dietary changes I have lost 30 pounds, gone down 3 sizes, and am not grossed out when I see photos of myself. My hair and skin are also better. I am sure that eliminating wheat from my diet at the same time I switched to vegan has made the weight loss easier. But the good news here is that there are some perfectly good wheat-free breads. I’ll get into these as this blog goes along. Just look forward to cornbread, pancakes, biscuits, tamales, tortillas, etc., etc. This is not about depriving yourself.
Now, time for a confession, and this keeps me from being a true, 100% vegan. I haven’t given up farm eggs. I am very particular about what eggs I eat, but if the chickens are free to roam, scratching in the dirt, and not being horribly abused, I feel okay about eating eggs. I visited Wild Acres Farm, the home of Carolyn Truscott (the delightful lady who puts “Carolyn’s Eggs” on the shelves at the Turnip Truck), and I just don’t feel bad about adding a well-produced egg every now and then to my meal. But if you do, I support you. We all have to figure out what works for us.
I had never had a weight problem until I hit my fifties. But for the last 20 years my vast consumption of cheesy pasta had been no help in my battle. I tried the Zone Diet with good success but ultimately it was just too much work to count everything I ate. Once I made the commitment to wheat-free and vegan I honestly don’t have to think about it so much. Of course, I am mindful of the size of my portions, and have to be careful of those pesky carbohydrates in a glass of wine. I really limit sugar in my diet and use maple syrup as my main sweetener.
But, that’s it in a nutshell. I know that one of the keys to looking my best and feeling my best is eating healthy and keeping my weight down. And it’s a lot more fun to shop when you aren’t limited to the Lots to Love section.
I should mention that I am married to a guy who loves what I cook. He eats just like me when he’s home, and when we go out he orders whatever he wants. He knows that he is healthier because of what he eats at home and has pretty much lost interest in red meat. It would be much harder to do this if he was difficult to cook for. But one thing most people don’t realize about vegan cooking is that it can be wonderfully delicious. And that’s how I would like to be helpful to anyone who is interested in making this change; by showing you some delicious ideas for meals that are easy to prepare. You’ll be lighter, and I promise, you’ll amaze your friends.

Now here’s a recipe for a quick, light summer meal. Spring Rolls.

Easy Dipping Sauce for Spring Rolls
This sauce will show up on another post for sesame noodles.

3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup dark tamari soy sauce, or Bragg Liquid Aminos
2 T maple syrup
3 T creamy peanut butter
3 T sweet chilli sauce–Thai style. Not hot, sweet.
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
Mix with a whisk

Spring Rolls, makes four
Slice into long skinny pieces (julienne)
4 baby carrots
3 green onions, trim off most of the green stems
1/2 red bell pepper
1/2 cucumber, with seeds scooped out.
About 1/4 a piece of soft lettuce per roll, torn into small pieces.
4 ozs firm or extra firm tofu. Press water out of tofu between paper towels, and slice it into strips the same size as the vegetable strips. (If you have some of the tofu cheese left over from the vegan pizza recipe, you can also use that. 2 teaspoons per roll. )
Prepare mung bean vermicelli, also available at Thai groceries. In the package I buy there are 10 small packs in the 14oz total bag. You are going to want about 2 T per roll.
I put one small pack of the noodles in hot water to soak for 7 minutes. Stove free cooking! After soaking, rinse with cool water and drain. You don’t want warm noodles here.
When you are ready to make the rolls have all your ingredients ready. This is a real assembly line project.
Rice paper rounds are available at Thai markets. I get all my Thai ingredients at International Market on Belmont Blvd here in Nashville, where my friend Patti Myint has been serving up Thai foods and supplies since 1975.
To make a roll, immerse a rice paper round in hot (not boiling) water for 5 seconds, then quickly remove it and lay it out. After I lay it out I quickly blot with a paper towel. Moving fairly quickly (because the rice paper will start to get stickier and stickier as it sits), put your ingredients in a neat long pile on the edge closest to you of the rice paper round. I start with the lettuce, then tofu, then cucumber, then onion, then carrots, then bell pepper. Top it off with the noodles.
On top of the pile, put a generous sprinkling of black sesame seeds.
When you’re ready to roll, pull the edge closest to you over the ingredients to wrap and roll tightly. Pull in the sides towards the middle, fold over, and finish rolling, the tighter the better.
Cut the rolls in half at a slight diagonal. Serve on plate with the dipping sauce.

Chef’s Challenge

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Chef’s Challenge

One of my favorite things about Mexico is the food. Grocery shopping in Mexico is a vegan’s delight. Such a vast array of fruits and vegetables. The sights and sounds and smells at the large mercado in San Miguel delight all the senses. I love to cook whenever we are here, because the choices are so varied and so many things are available. As to restaurant meals here, I can usually make it work. I have learned enough Spanish to negotiate my needs to waiters and I find they are almost always eager to please. Many restaurants here get it with vegetarians and have something on the menu that can work. Good cooking is a large part of the culture here, and the presentations are very artful.

But there are several really good chefs, right in Nashville. We have an explosion of new restaurants now, as much a sign of a recovering economy as of the anticipated growth of our city. I love to go out to eat, but I have a love-hate relationship with going out to eat. I love the atmosphere of a well-designed restaurant. I seriously enjoy sitting at a table with friends, and the intimacy of dining in a romantic setting with Fred. I love an interesting glass of wine. But as to food, I am usually happy if there is just something on the menu I can eat. When I find a restaurant that has even one entree that works for me I am ecstatic.
Having been vegetarian for the past 45 years, I made the choice about three years ago to switch to vegan. There are lots of reasons for doing this. The obvious one is compassion. I thought I had that one covered by being vegetarian. I never worried very much about dairy products, especially with the availability of “organic” dairy, which seemed to mean that all the cows were frolicking about in daisy fields, with the kindly farmers skipping over to the barn at milking time for a little fellowship with “Old Bossy.” A couple of things happened to raise my consciousness in this area. I got into Jivamukti yoga, and went to a workshop with David Life and Sharon Gannon. Both are vegan evangelists. Some of the things David said really stayed with me, but I was able to shut it off until I read “Skinny Bitch,” a book that very graphically talks about what eating dairy really means.
And the truth is, honestly, the main reason I switched to vegan was because I saw a photo of myself 25 pounds ago and it was not a pretty sight. I was advised by someone I trusted to simply give up wheat and dairy. I did, and while I’d still like to drop the famous “five more pounds,” maintaining this weight loss has been fairly easy. Since making this change, my cooking at home has greatly improved. I’ve gotten much more creative, and Fred seems perfectly happy with the meals we have. It’s restaurants where I have my problems.
Interestingly enough, most of the good chefs can whip up a wonderful vegan meal if called upon to do so. Just last week we went to a snazzy new place that has all of Nashville’s high -end eaters all abuzz. When I read the menu online, it seemed that each dish was a trip to the barnyard, so I called to see if something could be done for me. I was assured that there wouldn’t be a problem, and there wasn’t. My meal was creative, delicious, and had all my carnivorous friends eyeing my plate with lust in their hearts while they sat and scooped the insides out of very large bones.
And now I’ll get to my point: these chefs are perfectly capable of creating beautiful food that would benefit their customers, the planet, and all living creatures. With the respect they have from the dining community they could educate and facilitate positive changes. All I would suggest is that they use their skills to have at least one serious vegan starter and entree, (and ok, dessert), that is not just a “green salad”, “vegetable plate”, and “sorbet”. I am talking about vegan dishes that are as well-thought out as anything else on the menu.
And then, promote these choices. I am sure many of their customers would still choose to gnaw on a bone, or eat a pig’s ear (or whatever). But, some would be curious to have a little green adventure. And the vegans out there would be very, very happy.