“Let food by thy medicine.” ~ Hippocrates

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Chemo Brain Update
posted May 9th, 2022

Chemo brain is a term used by cancer patients in treatment & by thrivers/survivors to describe memory & plain old thinking problems. The severity of the problem varies by patient. Usually, the symptoms are self-reported & until recently dealt with as “complaints” rather than a disorder. Cognitive tests are not always done on new patients before treatment, so it is difficult for a healthcare team to know if what the patient is experiencing is new or not. This should not make a difference. The complaints should always be addressed.

Chemo Brain

In the article from Park Health below, the author states that “about 75% of breast cancer survivors who have undergone chemotherapy report some sort of cognitive symptoms. These problems can be short- or long-term, lasting up to decades for some.” It has also been seen in other types of cancers where the patient has received chemotherapy. Chemo brain has an impact on a person’s daily activities. The good news is that it is being taken seriously & there is new research going on. This is a very good article with an overview of chemo brain & worth the read. Parkview Health: New research to address “chemo brain”. 11/22/2021

One reason that it is being taken more seriously is that it is helping physicians deal with ‘brain fog’ that is occurring in long Convid patients. According to a recent CDC call that I took part in, Evaluating and Supporting Patients Presenting with Cognitive Symptoms Following COVIDMay 5th, 2022. “18% of moderately to severely ill Covid-19 patients self-reported ‘brain fog’ & 9% of mildly ill patients reported it. 25% reported it at a 1-year follow-up.” Their symptoms are very similar to ‘chemo brain.’ This is leading to more research into ‘brain fog.’

Symptoms

Symptoms of chemo brain or chemo fog may include the following according to the Mayo Clinic: Chemo Brain

  • Disorganization.
  • Not being able to concentrate & feeling confused.
  • Having difficulty expressing yourself. The right words are just not there.
  • Learning new skills is difficult & multitasking is not something you can do.
  • Fatigue
  • Feels like you are in a fog mentally & you aren’t able to remember anything that is recent, short-term memory loss.
  • Your attention span is not what it used to be & it is taking longer to get things done.
  • Having trouble remembering a recent conversation or remembering an image that you have seen or a list makes life difficult.

As I look at this list, I can’t help but think about how I feel when I am totally stressed out. Do you think that part of the problem is due to the stress of the diagnosis, fear of the unknown, fear of the treatment, or feeling helpless & being angry? Yes, it is part of the problem & it does confuse the issue.

Diagnosing chemo brain.

This article is interesting. It says that ‘chemo brain’ is real. Yay! The author also states that many doctors prefer to use the term “cancer-related cognitive impairment.” I personally think that this is a good idea because it validates what patients are saying. Michigan Health: 7 things to know about ‘chemo brain’. By Ian Demsky December 08, 2021 

There are no diagnostic tests to make a definitive diagnosis of a patient having chemo brain. The cause of the cognitive impairment is still not known. The rise in research into why both cancer & long covid patients feel this way will hopefully change that.

Treatment.

Lack of a diagnosis means that there is no cure & no specific treatment at this time. Treatment centers around alleviating the symptoms. Mayo Clinic’s: Chemo Brain has many ideas on how to cope with the symptoms. There are several categories; how to cope with the changes in your memory, medications that may be useful, and my favorite, lifestyle & home remedies.

Another category that I definitely recommend is complementary therapies, which the article calls alternative. Complementary is the correct term. This is my list of the modalities that have science behind them & that I have seen help patients.

  • Diet.
  • Expressive art therapy.
  • Exercise.
  • Yoga
  • Qigong
  • Mindfulness.
  • Meditation.
  • Music & dance therapy.
  • Spirituality. This would depend on your faith.
  • Acupuncture.
  • Energy healing such as Reiki & Craniosacral therapies.
  • Support groups.

You can find a list of therapists in the San Diego area on our SDCRI/Resource page

The National Cancer Institute, NIH, has a page about exercise & chemo brain. Physical Activity May Lessen the Effects of Chemobrain, Study Finds. August 26, 2021, by NCI Staff

Diet.

Paying attention to your diet can help in many ways. Chemo brain & cognitive problems may be the result of chronic inflammation in the brain as well as the body as a whole. We know that chronic diseasess are considered inflammatory diseases. We also know that there is a scientifically proven link between the gut & brain. Yep, those gut buddies again.

You can search my website for information on diet. A WFPB diet, vegan, Mediterranean, or flexitarian diet would be the most helpful.

Additional resources.


I find it fascinating that the research is so late in coming. Also that there haven’t been any definitive conclusions drawn on what, why & or how one ends up with chemo brain. Based on that, what do you have to lose by cleaning up your diet & lifestyle! If you have already made these changes to reduce the risk of cancer, build up your immune system, or for any other reason, you are also reducing the risk of cognitive impairment in aging & even chomo brain. Until May 23rd!… Mary 🙂

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Edible Weeds in My Yard.
posted April 25th, 2022

Why edible weeds in my yard? My last post, Stinging Nettles for Dinner?, was so popular that I decided to expand on the edible weeds theme. Weeds are just plants that you have decided you don’t want or like where they are. As I have mentioned before, my husband has produced a wonderful vegetable garden in our backyard. Among the ‘standard vegetables,’ he has what most people consider weeds growing to include in our diet. My weed list is plants that are found in our region. Some of them you will find growing throughout the United States. Since you, my wonderful readers, are mostly from the western part of the US, I will mark the ones that are common to that region as well.

Edible Weeds in My Yard: The Rules.

There are rules about foraging for edibles, even when it is in your own front or back yard. This list of ‘rules’ was inspired by Julia’s Edible Weeds site.

  • If you don’t know what the plant is then please don’t eat it. Even a tiny bite can be bad for you. I have a list of books, videos & apps at the end of this post that can help you to identify them. As Julia says, ask an expert!
  • Knowing the different growth stages of a plant is necessary to identify them properly. Waiting for them to bloom is a good idea because it narrows it down. The flowers may be edible as well as the seeds.
  • Learning where a plant likes to grow; in wet moist areas or only in dry areas, can help you to identify them. If it is in the wrong environment then don’t eat it.
  • Where are you picking them? Is it legal to forage there? We are surrounded by National & State Parks. They have foraging rules. You can check their website or the visitor area. Don’t forage anything that you don’t have permission for.
  • Did you notice them in a field or along a path or in your own yard? Make sure you take into account whether that area is routinely sprayed; side of the highway or someone else’s yard. If you are finding them on a path then is it where people walk their pets? 🙂
  • DO NOT forage for mushrooms if you are not an expert. That pretty white mushroom in your garden may be poisonous or is not edible for other reasons.
  • Use common sense when you pick them in your yard. You want to leave a thriving population to flower & go to seed for the next season. The general foraging rule is not to take the plant from the first group you see & not from the last group you see.
  • We do ask our plants for permission when we pick them. It is a matter of respect & reciprocity.

Edible Weeds in My Yard: The common ones in my yard.

Experimenting with uses for edible wild or garden plants is so much fun! I made vegan pesto last night using just carrot tops from our garden for the greens. It was delicious. So far I have made Pestos with Fennel fronds, Stinging Needle, Chard, Kale, Lamb’s quarters & of course Basil. Next, I will try Dandelion as the green. I also want to try Plantain & Nasturtium in pesto. Each one has a different but delicious taste! I use my simple vegan recipe; see below.

Bitter Cress: (Cardamine hirsuta) Found in San Diego too.

Bitter Cress Pixabay
  • Edible parts: Leaves, flowers & seeds.
  • Uses: Bitter Cress is in the mustard family & has that mustardy, acidic taste. It is poisonous to dogs & cats in case you want to grow some.
  • Recipes: Pesto! You can also add a handful or two to a soup or stew. We use it in our mixed greens salad.

Borage: (Borago officianalis). Not wild in San Diego. Can easily be grown from seed.

Borage Pixabay
  • Edible parts: flowers & leaves. I love the gangly tall plant. Very pretty with the blue flowers. It will reseed itself & grow all over your yard!
  • Uses: The blue flowers are so pretty in a salad or as a decoration on pastries or bread. The leaves can be chopped & used in a salad or cooked like spinach. The leaves are ‘hairy’ so you may not enjoy them raw.
  • Recipes: This site has recipes for Borage. Borrago: All the things you can do with Borage. March 5th, 2020.

Chickweed: (Stellaria media). San Diego area too.

Chickweed Stellaria Pixabay
  • Edible parts: Leaves, flowers & stems. This plant grows like a ground cover.
  • Uses: The leaves are used in salads & can also be put into soups or stews. Once it flowers it goes to seed quickly. It is best to harvest the leaves before it flowers. It will reseed itself.
  • Recipes: We use it mainly in salads.

Dandelion: (Taraxacum officinale). Everywhere!

Dandelion Pixabay
  • Edible parts: Leaves, flowers & roots.
  • Uses: Pick the leaves the closest to the stem. They are the most tender & are great in a salad. the flowers can be picked apart sprinkling the yellow petals through the salad.
  • RecipesOld Fashioned on Purpose16 Dandelion Recipes. By Jill Winger, March 17, 2018. She even has a link to coffee made with Dandelion root!

Nasturtium: (Tropaeolum majus). Found everywhere.

Nasturtium Pixabay
  • Edible parts: Leaves, flowers, stems & seed pods.
  • Uses: The leaves & flowers add a spicy zing to your salad. A favorite of ours. I have picked the seed pods to make capers. Very interesting flavor 🙂
  • Recipes: I chose this link to show you how many ways to use this beautiful plant. Practical Self Reliance: 60+ NASTURTIUM RECIPES ~ FOOD, DRINKS, REMEDIES & MORE. By Ashley Adamant, April 19, 2021

Plantain: (Plantago spp). We have both broad-leaf & narrow-leaf.

Plantain Pixabay
  • Edible parts: Leaves, buds & flowers.
  • Uses: Broad-leaf is the most tender. Narrow-leaf is edible but not as tender. The leaves can be rubbed together in your hand or chewed to make a poultice for cuts. I use it a lot & have seen it work immediately to stop the bleeding & help the wound heal. Handy to have in the garden!
  • Recipes: The leaves are used raw in salads. I saw one recipe for a stirfry with the buds & flowers. I haven’t tried that.

Purslane: (Portulaca oleracea). Grows everywhere.

Purslane Pixabay
  • Edible parts: Leaves, flowers & seeds.
  • Uses: Purslane leaves are thick like a succulent. The first time I had it in a salad was in San Diego. I remembered seeing it growing in a crack in our neighbor’s driveway! We like the taste in a mixed salad.
  • Recipes: Ingredients & Fine Foods: 45 Things to do With fresh Purslane. “Have you ever cooked with purslane, or Portulaca oleracea as it is known to botanists? It is a succulent plant whose edible, delicious leaves are crunchy and slightly mucilaginous, with a tangy lemony and peppery flavor.”

Sheep Sorrel (Rumex acetosella) Throughout the U.S,

Common Sorrel Pixabay
  • Edible parts: Leaves, stems & flower shoots.
  • Uses: They have a lemony taste. We use them in salads, added to an arugula pesto & threw them into a soup.
  • RecipesTyrant Farms: SORREL: A VEGGIE THAT TASTES LIKE LEMONS BUT HAS MORE VITAMIN C. March 12, 2018. This article describes all the related Sorrels (Rumex) and how they are used.

White-flowered Onion (Allium triquetrum) Spotted in San Diego.

My Wild Onions by Don Hollander
  • Edible parts: Leaves, flowers & bulbs.
  • Uses: I had to laugh when I researched this one. We cultivate it in our yard along a fence line. The flowers are beautiful & the entire plant is edible. Although every site says they are edible they also say how much they hate this ‘invasive weed”. We feel differently. We harvest it year around.
  • Recipes: Use it just like a leek or spring onion! It is milder in taste. I love it in our salads, tacos, or wraps. Anywhere I would use a scallion or spring onion.

Yarrow: (Achillea millefolium). Throughout California.

Yarrow Pixabay
  • Edible parts: Stems, leaves, & flowers.
  • Uses: This is my favorite plant. I let it grow wild in my herb garden. I use it medicinally & culinarily. Medicinally my favorite use is to dry the leaves and grind them into a powder. It is used as a styptic to stop bleeding. I keep it with our gardening tools & take it on hikes. If you are out & about & have a cut look around for yarrow. Crush a few leaves in your hand or chew them & apply them to the wound. I use a leaf or two in my salads. Yarrow is very bitter.
  • Recipes: Forager Chef: Cooking With Yarrow?

Stinging Nettles: (Urtica dioica). Throughout much of California.

Stinging Nettle Pixabay

Bonus: Mary’s Vegan Pesto

  • 4 cups of washed greens. You can use a mixture if you want.
  • 2-5 Cloves of garlic. I love garlic so I use 5 🙂
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, or lemon pepper.
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt.
  • 1/4 cup walnut pieces. You can use pumpkin seeds, pinion nuts, or sunflower seeds.
  • Juice of one lemon or 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
  • 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast. You can use less if you want; say 2 tablespoons or none.

Place all the ingredients into a food processor or blender & drizzle water in as it grinds it up to the texture you want. May take 4-6 tablespoons of water. We prefer a coarse pesto. Check the taste to see if you need more salt or pepper.

We enjoy adding pesto to roasted vegetables, rice, or baked potatoes. It freezes well. Enjoy!

Edible Weeds: Booklist to identify them

  • Botany In A Day. The Patterns Method of Plant Identification. By Thomas J. Elpel. This is a must-have book to learn about plant identification.
  • California Foraging, By Judith Larner Lowry. ” 120 wild and flavorful edibles from evergreen huckleberries to wild ginger. This book is about foraging for wild edibles in California. You will find those ‘weeds’ that I listed here.
  • Wild Edibles, by Sergei Boutenko. I like this book. Each plant you lookup has information on identifying it, its nutritional facts & recipes.
  • A Taste of Nature, Edible Plants of the Southwest and How to Prepare Them. By Kahanah Farnsworth. “All of the plants in this book are Indigenous to San Diego County.” Each plant entry has a recipe.
  • Torrey Pines State Reserve: Plant List. The National & State parks have plant lists for each park available at their visitor centers. National Recreational Areas & Forests have lists too. Don’t pick even a flower in our Parks before asking about what & how much can be foraged in these areas before you go there.

Edible Weeds: Apps & Websites to identify them

  • iNaturalist. This link is to the website. You can learn how to use this amazing resource. From there you can get the app for your phone. What a great app this is. I use it a lot when hiking & also in my yard! The app is not only for plants but also for birds & insects.
  • California Native Plant Society “We’re on a mission to save California’s native plants and places using both head and heart. CNPS brings together science, education, conservation, and gardening to power the native plant movement.” An excellent resource for California native plants & how to include them in your space.
  • Calscape: “Restore Nature one garden at a time.”
  • CalFlora is another excellent resource. This one is for wild California plants.
  • Modern Farmer: 10 Edible Weeds Likely Growing in Your Yard. JUL 12, 2018, Brian Barth. “Many of the so-called “weeds” in your garden might actually be totally safe – and tasty! – to eat.”
  • Tyrant Farms: 16 Common Edible Weeds Growing In Your Yard… With Recipes! Posted on April 24, 2019.
  • Morning Chores: 28 Edible Weeds You Can Find in Your Own Backyard. By Steph Coelho

I hope you will look at your ‘weeds’ a bit differnetly now. Until May 9th…Mary 🙂

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Salt Alternatives
posted March 28th, 2022


Were you told to cut down on your use of salt & to try a salt alternative? Did you wonder how you were going to live without REAL salt on the table? Salt, sodium chloride, has gotten a bad reputation over the years. The reality is; sodium is very important for a healthy functioning body. The problem is; salt is in most packaged, processed, & prepared foods. According to the FDA, it is in 70% of those products. Which makes it is easy to get more than you need if you don’t read those darn labels! If you have a condition such as high blood pressure you will need to watch your salt intake.

Okay, I will come clean. I love salty foods. Years ago I owned up to the problem. The first thing I did was to take the salt off of the table. Next was to use 1/2 the salt called for in the recipe. This helped a great deal. Becoming aware that my taste had now changed, everything tasted too salty, I began to pay close attention to the Nutrition Facts Label, which was enlightening. Getting out of the habit of buying processed foods, packaged foods & prepared foods came next. That took a year if I remember correctly.

Why do we need Salt?

Our body needs sodium for the proper function of our nerves, to be able to contract and relax muscles, & it controls the balance of water and minerals in the body. When we take in too much sodium, we are at high risk for heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure & calcium loss from our bones.

How much sodium do we need?

Very good question. I follow this advice. The American Heart Association “recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams (mg) a day and moving toward an ideal limit of no more than 1,500 mg per day for most adults. Because the average American eats so much excess sodium, even cutting back by 1,000 milligrams a day can significantly improve blood pressure and heart health.

The FDA’s recommended daily allowance is not to exceed 2,300 mg per day. That is based on a 2,000 calorie diet. About 1 teaspoon per day. When you look at the Nutrition Facts label on a product look at the line for sodium. This will give what % of your daily intake of sodium will be if you consume one serving (check the serving size on the label!). If it is 5% or less the FDA considers it low in sodium. It is considered high is when it is over 20%.

This is an excellent site to read if you need to limit your salt or if you are wondering about which foods to avoid. FDA: Sodium in Your Diet. “Use the Nutrition Facts Label and Reduce Your Intake.”

Here is a good example: LAY’S® Classic Potato Chips: Happiness in Every Bite.®Nutrition Facts

Take a look at this partial label. First, notice that the serving size is about 15 chips. Next, notice that the calories per service size are 160. Now, look at the sodium; 170 mg, 7% of the recommended daily allowance per serving size. “Bet you can’t eat just one.

The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a serving of food contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.

Serving size=1 oz (28g/About 15 chips)
Amount per serving=Calories160
Fact Amount % Daily Value*
Total Fat 10 grams 13%
Saturated 1.5 grams 7%
Trans fats 0 grams
Cholesterol 0 grams
Sodium  170 mg 7%
Carbohydrates   15 grams 6%
Fiber 1 gram 5%
Sugars less than 1 gram
Protein   2 grams
Potassium 350 mg 6%
Happiness in Every Bite.®Nutrition Facts

Salt Alternatives.

There are a number of salt alternatives on the market. It is just a matter of taste which one would appeal to you. I know you get tired of hearing this; check the Nutrition Fact Label AND the ingredient list. I have noticed that some salt alternatives actually contain salt mixed in with herbs, spices, or teas. Having reminded you of that let’s move on to alternatives.

Green salt is a new one for me. I have found only one company that meets all my expectations: Green Salt. It is made from drying & grinding into powder Sea Asparagus. Nothing else is added. It is pricey but from the reviews, it might be worth trying! This is a sustainable crop & it is organic. Again, worth trying.

Celery, yes, you read that correctly. This is a DIY recipe from SweetSimpleVeganGo Salt-Free With This Healthy & Green Raw Vegan Salt Substitute. It is simply chopped celery dehydrated & then ground into a powder. We are growing pink celery this year. I will have to try this.

Here are some suggestions from my pantry. Remember I don’t put salt on the table.

*** Bragg is a brand that I use a great deal of. Bragg’s flavor, the fact that it is organic & it is consistently of high quality is why. No payment or product is given to me for mentioning their products.

  • Bragg Liquid Aminos: I use this cautiously. It has 160 mg of sodium in 1/2 teaspoon. The sodium comes from the natural aminos. No salt was added, but it is still sodium. Sometimes I mix it 1:1 with water to saute. Using it in cooking is the best way to bring out that salty umami flavor of the foods. It takes very little to flavor the food so don’t overdo it or it will be too salty.
  • Bragg Coconut Aminos: I am adding this one here to show you how you need to read the labels. I just assumed that there was no salt in this. I was wrong, there is added sea salt! 160 mg of Sodium per 1 teaspoon; less than the liquid aminos above.
  • Bragg Nutritional Yeast: My favorite brand. I like its flavor & its creaminess when added to stews, soups, or beans. Sprinkle it on slices of potatoes before roasting them along with other spices. So good! 20 mg of Sodium per 2 Tablespoons. It is also enriched with vitamin B-12.
  • Bragg Sprinkle, 24 Herbs & Spices: No salt added & no sodium! Add it to any food, raw or cooked. They also have Bragg Sea Kelp Seasoning. It has sea kelp + 24 spices. No sodium, unlike other brands of sea kelp.
Herbs & spices.
  • Cumin: Adds flavor to nearly anything I cook. Sprinkled over veggies along with nutritional yeast before roasting gives them a unique flavor.
  • Cayenne & Ancho Chili powder: Just a shake or two added to vegan mayonnaise, dressings and roasted veggies add a lot of flavor.
  • Powdered or ground herbs: Basil, Oregano, Thyme, Sage. The list is endless. Use them alone or make your own combination. Add garlic &/or onion granules or powder to your mix.
  • Garlic: Can’t get enough no matter what form it is in. We go through 3 to 4 large heads of garlic a week! When the recipe says one clove I put in 4. 🙂
  • Onion: Another one I use a lot.
  • Lemon Pepper: Check the label to make sure no salt was added. This is my favorite type of pepper. The lemon kicks up the flavor a notch or two.
  • Parmesan Cheese: This can be added as a topping, added to salad dressings, etc. My version is very simple. 1 cup of walnuts, 1/4 cup of nutritional yeast, 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder, and 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of salt. I use 1/8th teaspoon. The salt can be omitted. In a blender, grinder, or food processor grind it up to your liking. Don’t let it go too long or you will have walnut butter parmesan!

More ideas:

Extra Resources.

  • U.S.News & World Report: DASH Diet. This is the most sensible diet for those of you who need to limit your sodium/salt intake. It is consistently either #1 or #2 Best Diet Overall each year.
  • My last post was about Reading Food Labels. Take a look at where to find the information you need to make a healthy choice.
  • Not sure what nutritional yeast is & how to use it? Look thru my post Nooch!, January 25, 2021.

Your taste buds will get used to a lower sodium diet in a short time. Lowering the salt in your diet doesn’t only help your health but it also allows you to taste the veggies! Until April 11th…Mary 🙂

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Reading Food Labels
posted March 14th, 2022


Reading food labels is not as easy as it sounds. There are terms that are used in the ingredient list that you need a degree in chemistry to understand. Not only those terms, how about the adjectives used to describe what is in the food package you are buying! Don’t get me started on all of the ‘icons’ that are displayed on the package and the font size! I don’t carry around a magnifying glass. In this post, I will try my best to help you to interpret what you see on the package.

Reading Food Labels: Nutrition Facts.

Let’s begin with the simple Nutrition Facts label on the package. It is usually on the back. This is the best place to start. FDA: How to Understand and Use the Nutrition Facts Label. This article explains each part of the label & what the information means.

  1. Serving Size: In my opinion, this is the most important part of this label. The serving size is not always what we would consider a serving and it dictates the rest of the information on the label. Read this carefully.
  2. Calories: Per serving! Before putting the package back on the shelf because of the calories, take a look at the rest of the label to see where the calories are coming from. They may be ’empty calories’ or healthy calories.
  3. Total Fats: Trans fats are now on the label. Where are the fat calories coming from? Are they healthy fats?
  4. Total Carbs: I am so happy that they added “includes __grams added sugars.” Where are these sugars coming from? For a WFPB diet that excludes ‘added sugars’, this should be 0 grams.
  5. Nutrients: Yes, there isn’t a #5 on the label to the left but I am adding it. % Daily Value is the % of the RDA, recommended daily allowance based on a 2,000 calorie a day diet.

I am impressed with this link to an Interactive Nutrition Label on the FDA site. You can learn a lot by clicking on the various lines on the label. For example protein, vitamins, or even calories.

Serving size.

I have trouble with this. The FDA changed the serving size to what people are actually eating in 2020. This changed because when serving sizes were added in 1993 the servings sizes were smaller. It does not reflect what is a recommended or healthy size! In 1993 a cola serving size was 8 ounces it is now 12 ounces. The ice cream serving size was 1/2 cup & is now 2/3 cup. Instead of recommending a healthy serving size the FDA is aiding & abetting obesity. This is just wrong.

Reading Food Labels: Ingredient List.

The Ingredient List is the first place I look; even before looking at the Nutrition Facts label. I want to see how many ingredients are listed, how many I can’t pronounce & how many I don’t know the definition of. I am looking for a ‘clean list’ that includes only whole foods, no added oils, or added sugars.

Peanut butter is a good example. The ingredient list should be only peanuts! No added oils because they aren’t needed, no salt & no sweetener. The same goes for any nut butter.

The ingredient list has each item listed by its “common or usual name.” They are listed by weight starting with the heaviest ingredient. The ingredient list the FDA uses as an example on the Interactive Nutrition Label reads: “INGREDIENTS: BULGUR WHEAT, SAUCE (WATER, HALF AND HALF [MILK, CREAM], PARMESAN CHEESE [PASTEURIZED SKIM MILK, CULTURES, SALT, ENZYMES], CHEDDAR CHEESE [PASTEURIZED MILK, CULTURES, SALT, ENZYMES], OLIVE OIL, BUTTER, SUGAR, XANTHAN GUM, SPICE), LENTILS, CORN, GREEN BEANS, RED BEANS, POTATOES. CONTAINS: WHEAT, MILK” This means that the bulgar wheat is the heaviest by weight and the potatoes are, by weight, the lightest. What I learn from this is that there is more dairy by weight than legumes & vegetables! That is important to note.

Interactive Nutrtion Label.

The Interactive Nutrition Label site also has a Glossary, Resource list & Fact Sheets. Make sure that you take the time to explore this link. Lots of good information there.

Reading Food Labels: An example

Whenever my husband says, “Do you want to go for a short walk?” I know to put on my boots, pack a day pack with a jacket, water & a snack! It always ends up a longer walk than anticipated 🙂 Our backpacks all have a couple of LÄRABAR® in them. This is the reason we use this brand.

As you can see from the front of the boxes; these are vegan, plant-based, dairy-free, gluten-free, etc.

Look at how many ingredients they have. The top one has 4 & the bottom one, my personal favorite, has 2.

Let’s look at the Nutrition Facts & the ingredient list to check their honesty in packaging.

This label is for the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip bar.

The serving size is one bar; 220 calories. It does have 3 grams of saturated fat, from the peanuts. It also has 4 grams of added sugars. The total sugar is 16 grams. Protein 5 grams. Fiber 4 grams.

Ingredients: Dates, peanuts, semi-sweet chocolate chips (unsweetened chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla extract), & sea salt. The added sugar is in the chocolate chips. By weight, they are the 3rd ingredient.

I consider this a very clean, healthy snack to have along on those “short walks.” This one is Don’s favorite. Mine is the next one. Let’s compare the 2.

This label is for the Cashew Cookie.

The serving size is 1 bar; 230 calories. Saturated fat, from the cashews, is 2 grams. No added sugars. Total sugar, from the dates, is 16 grams. Protein 4 grams. Fiber 3 grams.

Ingredients: Cashews & dates.

So which one would I consider healthier? It is really a toss-up. If you are avoiding added sugar then this one would be healthier even though the total sugar in each bar is 16 grams. If you are also avoiding added fat then this is not the bar for you. This bar has less protein & fiber. It is a healthier bar for us.

Go to their website and look at the other bars they offer that are similar to these. LÄRABAR®

***I do not get paid or get merchandise from the products I write about.

 

I realize that it takes longer to read all this information than when you simply decide to grab a box of products that you have seen advertised. We are talking about your health here. Take the time to read all the information on a product.

Reading Food Labels: Food allergens & more.

The best resource for information about labeling rules for allergens is the CDC: 3 Ways to Improve Your Food Label Literacy. Posted on February 23, 2022, by Blog Administrator. Scroll down to Learn to Identify Allergens. This site explains the way labels should declare both common & major food allergens on a package.

The phrases; Best By & Best Used By are also clarified. They actually refer to when the food is at its peak freshness & its peak flavor. It does not refer to safety. The Center for Agriculture & Food Systems has a site for Labels Unwwrapped; Labels 101. It is amazing what information has to be on the packaging & where it can be located. No wonder we get confused with all the wording on a product we wish to buy.

Reading Food Labels: Glossary of terms.

I am not even going to try to list the additives that are on the labels, especially those in the ingredient list. The FDA has the most thorough list that I could find without comments on the ingredients themselves. 🙂 FDA: Overview of Food Ingredients, Additives & Colors. Revised April 2010 Scroll down to find the heading Types of Food Ingredients.

A printable brochure with the same information can be found here: FDA: Food Ingredients & Colors. It is much easier to read.

Reading Food Labels: Resource List


Packaged or foods with labels should make up a minor part of your groceries. Hopefully I have been of some help de-coding or maybe de-mystifying the labels & wording on those few you do buy. Until the next post on March 28th…Mary 🙂

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Lower Your Cholesterol Naturally.
posted February 28th, 2022

I think we would all jump at the chance to lower our cholesterol naturally. Making simple changes in your diet is all that is needed. There has been an ongoing debate about the need for, safety, and long-term use of medications that lower cholesterol. What is considered ‘high’ cholesterol has also been debated. In this post, I will address the types of cholesterol; the numbers, & current treatment. I will also go over studies regarding how to lower the numbers naturally.

Lower Your Cholesterol Naturally: The 2 types of cholesterol.

The 2 types of cholesterol that I am talking about are the cholesterol we eat & the cholesterol that our body makes. All dietary cholesterol comes from animal products. Our bodies produce the cholesterol that we need to be healthy, in our liver.

This article is from Dr. Ornish’s e-zine: Ornish Living: What is the Difference Between the Chosesterol We Make & the Cholesterol We Eat? By Ben Brown M.D. “You can lower cholesterol levels dramatically by changing your diet” Dr. Brown does a great job explaining the difference & makes a great case for plant-based diets..

Lower Your Cholesterol Naturally: Common treatments.

My favorite article about cholesterol is from the Mayo Clinic. I like their definition of cholesterol & their graphs on what the cholesterol numbers mean. Basically, your total cholesterol should be under 200 mg/dl. It also touches on Triglycerides & the medications used to lower them.

Take a look at their article here, High Cholesterol. In the article, they have a list of the most common types of medications most commonly prescribed to lower cholesterol numbers. Check the article for more information about each of these.

  • StatinsLipitor, Lescol, Altoprev, Livalo, Pravachol, Crestor, and Zocor.
  • Cholesterol absorption inhibitorsZetia
  • Bempedoic acidNexletol
  • Bile-acid-binding resinsPrevalite, Welchol, and Colestid.
  • PCSK9 inhibitorsPraluent, and Repatha.

Something to think about.

I am including this article because it annoys me 🙂 Columbia University, Irving Medical Center: Statins Could Benefit Millions of Young Adults with High Cholesterol, Study Suggests. November 9, 2021. I understand the importance of this study & its conclusions. What annoys me is that a change in lifestyle is brushed off as too costly. What does that even mean?!! “Statin therapy was found to be more cost-effective than intensive lifestyle intervention for young adult cholesterol-lowering at all LDL cholesterol levels considered, because lifestyle modification lowers cholesterol only modestly compared with statins, and lifestyle interventions can be costly to deliver on an individual basis.” This study targets young adults. A change in diet is ignored. Why?; when there are many diets, not just vegan, that can help to lower cholesterol.

The discussion of healthy diets needs to begin with children in elementary school. The schools should set the example by having those foods available in their cafeteria. The pattern of eating leading to heart disease begins at this young age or younger. It depends on what they have ‘learned’ at home.

Lower Your Cholesterol Naturally: The studies.

The Journal of Nutrition published a new study by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, and the Richardson Centre at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada. The study asked participants to eat a specially formulated snack that had whole food fiber, plant sterols, ALA omega 3 fatty acids, and antioxidants; think nuts, seeds & fruit. Veg News: Are Vegan Snacks Better Than Pills For Lowering Cholesterol? This Study Looks Promisingby ANNA STAROSTINETSKAYA, FEBRUARY 4, 2022. “A new study shows that a “food as medicine” approach using specially formulated vegan snacks can be beneficial for lowering cholesterol levels.”

The authors of the study found that the ‘food as medicine approach’ worked. The participants who ate the vegan snacks provided, lowered their cholesterol, the group who ate granola bars & similar snacks did not.

The same article gives all the details of this study & the outcomes. The study was published by the journal, Frontiers in Nutrition, last year. It looked at the long-term health problems related to the Keto diet; an increased risk of heart disease, LDL cholesterol buildup, kidney failure, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Another study mentioned in the article, from the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, shows that seniors who followed a plant-based diet took 58% fewer medications than their meat-eating peers. It is never too late to add those veggies, fruits & grains to your plate.

Supporting articles.

Plant-based diets can dramatically lower cholesterol levels. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine: Lowering Cholesterol With a Plant-Based Diet. When comparing the meat & dairy-centric diet to the plant-based diet the author states: “Plants do the opposite. They are very low in saturated fat and free of cholesterol. Plants are also rich in soluble fiber, which helps lower cholesterol. Soluble fiber slows the absorption of cholesterol and reduces the amount of cholesterol the liver produces. Oatmeal, barley, beans, and some fruits and vegetables are all good sources of soluble fiber.” Excellent article.

Center for Nutrition Studies: How to Lower Your Cholesterol Without Statins. By Jill Edwards, MS, CEP, December 5, 2019 “Statin drugs are not the answer for everyone with high cholesterol. A whole-food, plant-based diet is a powerful, effective, risk-free approach, which not only results in great numbers but also reverses the underlying disease.” Another excellent article supports a natural way to lower your cholesterol.

Lower Your Cholesterol Naturally: Making dietary changes.

You’re now convinced that you have to make dietary changes; throw out all the meat & dairy! Announce to the family; ‘We are all going vegan right now!’ Been there done that, doesn’t usually work out. It just happened to work for me; another story for a different time 🙂 Changes towards a plant-centric diet needs to be done slowly & with care that you are still getting the nutrients you need. I recommend starting with a ‘flexitarian diet’ and going from there.

My blog post from January 24th, 2022: Best Diets 2022, will help you on deciding the best diet for you & your family. ‘Start from where you are’ and build on that.

Update on “Storing my veggies.”

This is an excerpt from my blog post last week: February Nutrition Nuggets.

There are way too many websites that tell you how to store veggies & fruits on the internet. They typically agree on whether or not they should be in the vegetable bin or just in plastic bags etc. This past month I came across a woman on Facebook who decided to cut down on all the chopping she does when prepping for a WFPB meal. She decided to clean & chop all her veggies on the day she bought them. They were then put into canning jars & stored in her refrigerator. I decided to give it a try. Love it!!!

Why do I love it? When I make our evening salad the carrots, beets & cabbage are already grated & in separate jars. So much easier. When I decide on stir fry the cauliflower, broccoli, onions & ginger are already chopped & in their own jars. The best part of this is that I have found that the vegetables stay fresher in the jars than in plastic bags or drawers. I am sold on this method.

My next experiment will be with crimini mushrooms. I am going to slice them & see how they do in jars. Usually, I keep them in a mesh bag in the veggie drawer. By the way, I have learned that you should never wash them; they get soggy. You should dry brush them to clean them. They stay firm & fresh this way. I will let you know how this works out.

It worked perfectly! All of the veggies stayed crisp & fresh for the entire 7 days. On those busy evenings, I could put together an impressive salad in just minutes. I did slice crimini mushrooms & put them in one of the jars. I cleaned them with a brush, no water. They remained fresh & crisp for 7 days too. I caught my husband using a bit of each of the veggies in a wrap for his lunch. He said; ‘such an easy way to get my fresh veggies for the day.’ That was worth the effort!


Speaking of making simple changes. I have made a change in when my blog posts are published. Rather than weekly they will be published every two weeks. I will continue to post new recipes on our Facebook page every day. Until March 14th then…Mary 🙂

Back to the top.


Lower Your Cholesterol Naturally.
posted February 28th, 2022

I think we would all jump at the chance to lower our cholesterol naturally. Making simple changes in your diet is all that is needed. There has been an ongoing debate about the need for, safety, and long-term use of medications that lower cholesterol. What is considered ‘high’ cholesterol has also been debated. In this post, I will address the types of cholesterol; the numbers, & current treatment. I will also go over studies regarding how to lower the numbers naturally.

Lower Your Cholesterol Naturally: The 2 types of cholesterol.

The 2 types of cholesterol that I am talking about are the cholesterol we eat & the cholesterol that our body makes. All dietary cholesterol comes from animal products. Our bodies produce the cholesterol that we need to be healthy, in our liver.

This article is from Dr. Ornish’s e-zine: Ornish Living: What is the Difference Between the Chosesterol We Make & the Cholesterol We Eat? By Ben Brown M.D. “You can lower cholesterol levels dramatically by changing your diet” Dr. Brown does a great job explaining the difference & makes a great case for plant-based diets..

Lower Your Cholesterol Naturally: Common treatments.

My favorite article about cholesterol is from the Mayo Clinic. I like their definition of cholesterol & their graphs on what the cholesterol numbers mean. Basically, your total cholesterol should be under 200 mg/dl. It also touches on Triglycerides & the medications used to lower them.

Take a look at their article here, High Cholesterol. In the article, they have a list of the most common types of medications most commonly prescribed to lower cholesterol numbers. Check the article for more information about each of these.

  • StatinsLipitor, Lescol, Altoprev, Livalo, Pravachol, Crestor, and Zocor.
  • Cholesterol absorption inhibitorsZetia
  • Bempedoic acidNexletol
  • Bile-acid-binding resinsPrevalite, Welchol, and Colestid.
  • PCSK9 inhibitorsPraluent, and Repatha.

Something to think about.

I am including this article because it annoys me 🙂 Columbia University, Irving Medical Center: Statins Could Benefit Millions of Young Adults with High Cholesterol, Study Suggests. November 9, 2021. I understand the importance of this study & its conclusions. What annoys me is that a change in lifestyle is brushed off as too costly. What does that even mean?!! “Statin therapy was found to be more cost-effective than intensive lifestyle intervention for young adult cholesterol-lowering at all LDL cholesterol levels considered, because lifestyle modification lowers cholesterol only modestly compared with statins, and lifestyle interventions can be costly to deliver on an individual basis.” This study targets young adults. A change in diet is ignored. Why?; when there are many diets, not just vegan, that can help to lower cholesterol.

The discussion of healthy diets needs to begin with children in elementary school. The schools should set the example by having those foods available in their cafeteria. The pattern of eating leading to heart disease begins at this young age or younger. It depends on what they have ‘learned’ at home.

Lower Your Cholesterol Naturally: The studies.

The Journal of Nutrition published a new study by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, and the Richardson Centre at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, Canada. The study asked participants to eat a specially formulated snack that had whole food fiber, plant sterols, ALA omega 3 fatty acids, and antioxidants; think nuts, seeds & fruit. Veg News: Are Vegan Snacks Better Than Pills For Lowering Cholesterol? This Study Looks Promisingby ANNA STAROSTINETSKAYA, FEBRUARY 4, 2022. “A new study shows that a “food as medicine” approach using specially formulated vegan snacks can be beneficial for lowering cholesterol levels.”

The authors of the study found that the ‘food as medicine approach’ worked. The participants who ate the vegan snacks provided, lowered their cholesterol, the group who ate granola bars & similar snacks did not.

The same article gives all the details of this study & the outcomes. The study was published by the journal, Frontiers in Nutrition, last year. It looked at the long-term health problems related to the Keto diet; an increased risk of heart disease, LDL cholesterol buildup, kidney failure, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Another study mentioned in the article, from the American Journal of Lifestyle Medicine, shows that seniors who followed a plant-based diet took 58% fewer medications than their meat-eating peers. It is never too late to add those veggies, fruits & grains to your plate.

Supporting articles.

Plant-based diets can dramatically lower cholesterol levels. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine: Lowering Cholesterol With a Plant-Based Diet. When comparing the meat & dairy-centric diet to the plant-based diet the author states: “Plants do the opposite. They are very low in saturated fat and free of cholesterol. Plants are also rich in soluble fiber, which helps lower cholesterol. Soluble fiber slows the absorption of cholesterol and reduces the amount of cholesterol the liver produces. Oatmeal, barley, beans, and some fruits and vegetables are all good sources of soluble fiber.” Excellent article.

Center for Nutrition Studies: How to Lower Your Cholesterol Without Statins. By Jill Edwards, MS, CEP, December 5, 2019 “Statin drugs are not the answer for everyone with high cholesterol. A whole food, plant-based diet is a powerful, effective, risk-free approach, which not only results in great numbers, but also reverses the underlying disease.” Another excellent article supports a natural way to lower your cholesterol.

Lower Your Cholesterol Naturally: Making dietary changes.

You’re now convinced that you have to make dietary changes; throw out all the meat & dairy! Announce to the family; ‘We are all going vegan right now!’ Been there done that, doesn’t usually work out. It just happened to work for me; another story for a different time 🙂 Changes towards a plant-centric diet need to be done slowly & with care that you are still getting the nutrients you need. I recommend starting with a ‘flexitarian diet’ and going from there.

My blog post from January 24th, 2022: Best Diets 2022, will help you on deciding the best diet for you & your family. ‘Start from where you are’ and build on that.

Update on “Storing my veggies.”

This is an excerpt from my blog post last week: February Nutrition Nuggets.

There are way too many websites that tell you how to store veggies & fruits on the internet. They typically agree on whether or not they should be in the vegetable bin or just in plastic bags etc. This past month I came across a woman on Facebook who decided to cut down on all the chopping she does when prepping for a WFPB meal. She decided to clean & chop all her veggies on the day she bought them. They were then put into canning jars & stored in her refrigerator. I decided to give it a try. Love it!!!

Why do I love it? When I make our evening salad the carrots, beets & cabbage are already grated & in separate jars. So much easier. When I decide on stir fry the cauliflower, broccoli, onions & ginger are already chopped & in their own jars. The best part of this is that I have found that the vegetables stay fresher in the jars than in plastic bags or drawers. I am sold on this method.

My next experiment will be with crimini mushrooms. I am going to slice them & see how they do in jars. Usually, I keep them in a mesh bag in the veggie drawer. By the way, I have learned that you should never wash them; they get soggy. You should dry brush them to clean them. They stay firm & fresh this way. I will let you know how this works out.

Mhollander

It worked perfectly! All of the veggies stayed crisp & fresh for the entire 7 days. On those busy evenings, I could put together an impressive salad in just minutes. I did slice crimini mushrooms & put them in one of the jars. I cleaned them with a brush, no water. They remained fresh & crisp for 7 days too. I caught my husband using a bit of each of the veggies in a wrap for his lunch. He said; ‘such an easy way to get my fresh veggies for the day.’ That was worth the effort!


Speaking of making simple changes. I have made a change in when my blog posts are published. Rather than weekly they will be published every two weeks. I will continue to post new recipes on our Facebook page every day. Until March 14th then…Mary 🙂

Back to the top.


February Nutrition Nuggets
posted February 14th, 2022

My February Nutrition Nuggets are very interesting. The first one is about the newest study showing why olive oil is good for you. What about WFPB diets that eschew added oil? I have an answer for that. The second nugget covers a study on salt in ‘alternative’ vegan meat products. The last nugget is a tip from me about storing your fresh veggies. I will tell you about a new -to me- method that I am experimenting with.

Nutrition Nuggets: Olive oil

Harvard has published a new study on the use of Olive Oil. Their conclusion was that people who consumed more than 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil every day had less risk for dying of cardiovascular, neurodegenerative, & respiratory diseases than those who did not regularly use olive oil. What does this study mean for those of us who adhere to the WFPB diet with no added oil? That is the subject of this article.

ForksOverKnives: New Olive Oil Study Sparks Questions for Whole-Food, Plant-Based Eaters, By Elizabeth Turner Feb 1, 2022

I am not a fan of either the Nurses’ Health Study or the Health Professional’s Follow-up Study. Both studies are useful in many ways, but they are both based on food diaries. They are questioned every 4 years on specific foods that they consumed in the previous year. I have kept a food diary & even though I tried to write down everything I put in my mouth I sometimes forgot a food or under/over-estimated the amount. Worse yet I forgot to write in a few days while on vacation or just from sheer laziness & had to try to remember what I ate. I don’t believe this is accurate enough to base any firm conclusion on.

I do agree with the article that giving up fat from animals & relying only on plant fats will lead to better health outcomes. Yet, as stated in the article, there has not been a study that looks at & compares all plant-based oils. From my own experience, I did ‘feel healthier’ when olive oil was the only one I used. But, and again this is just my observation from our lab results, my husband & I became healthier omitting all added oils.

If you are interested in reading the original study: JACC: Consumption of Olive Oil and Risk of Total and Cause-Specific Mortality Among U.S. Adults, Original Investigation.

Take a look at my blog post from October 2020: Added Oils.

Nutrition Nuggets: Salt in alternative meat products.

The following article caught my eye because so many people are transitioning to a more plant-centric diet. In order to make the transition easier, they switch from meat to plant-based meat options. As this study in the UK indicates plan-based vegan meats are unhealthily high in sodium but lower in saturated fats.

Plant-Based News: Salt Is Higher In Plant-Based Meat Alternatives, Study Claims, But What About Meat? By Emily Baker, 30th November 2021. “Many deplore meat alternatives for being unhealthy, and while they may contain more salt on the whole – is it the case across other nutrient categories too?”

I researched this subject and found that the UK study is the only one out there looking at salt in alternative meat products. It has given rise to concern & consumers are looking at the sodium content on labels of their favorite alternative meat. For example, one serving of Beyond Burger, 380 mg Sodium; Impossible Burger, 370 mg Sodium; MorningStar Farms® Vegan Meat Lovers Burger, 330 mg sodium. 1 teaspoon of table salt, sodium chloride, has 2,325 mg of sodium. The recommended daily allowance is 2300 mg. It all adds up. Most Americans consume over 3,400 mg per day. These are acceptable products as long as you track how much total sodium you are getting each day.

Bonus: DIY Vegan Burgers

We have found it healthier & less expensive to make our own vegan burgers. I leave out the salt. 🙂 This is my favorite go-to burger recipe: YouTube instructions. Gabriels 3-2-1 Burger. This is the recipe below the video.

3-2-1 Burgers by Plant-Based Gabriel

  • 3 cups beans, cooked
  • 2 cups brown rice, cooked
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats (or regular)
  • 1/4 cup liquid (e.g. veg broth, ketchup, maple syrup)
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Mash the beans with a fork or mixing spoon. Add in the remaining ingredients and mix by hand or with a spoon until the mixture can be formed into patties.

Cook by baking on a parchment-lined baking sheet at 400 F for 25-30 minutes OR grill at ~450 F for 4-5 minutes a side OR air fry at 375 F for 12-15 minutes.

The great thing about this burger is that you can use whatever bean you want, whatever grain you want, a 1/4 cup of whatever liquid you want & whatever spices you want. Make it a BBQ flavored burger with kidney beans, quinoa, BBQ sauce as the liquid & cajun spices. So versatile. I use a 1/3 cup for a large burger. I freeze 1/2 of them.

Nutrition Nuggets: Storing my veggies.

There are way too many websites that tell you how to store veggies & fruits on the internet. They typically agree on whether or not they should be in the vegetable bin or just in plastic bags etc. This past month I came across a woman on Facebook who decided to cut down on all the chopping she does when prepping for a WFPB meal. She decided to clean & chop all her veggies on the day she bought them. They were then put into canning jars & stored in her refrigerator. I decided to give it a try. Love it!!!

Why do I love it? When I make our evening salad the carrots, beets & cabbage are already grated & in separate jars. So much easier. When I decide on stir fry the cauliflower, broccoli, onions & ginger are already chopped & in their own jars. The best part of this is that I have found that the vegetables stay fresher in the jars than in plastic bags or drawers. I am sold on this method.

My next experiment will be with crimini mushrooms. I am going to slice them & see how they do in jars. Usually, I keep them in a mesh bag in the veggie drawer. By the way, I have learned that you should never wash them; they get soggy. You should dry brush them to clean them. They stay firm & fresh this way. I will let you know how this works out.


Until next time…Mary 🙂

Back to the top.


Tahini is More Than Hummus.
posted January 31st, 2022


Tahini? My experience was limited to using tahini as an ingredient in Hummus. It didn’t taste good on a jam sandwich. 🙂 Since I became WFPB with no added oil, Tahini has become a staple in our house. It has a myriad of uses that I wasn’t aware of. What is Tahini & where did it come from? How do you use it? I have most of the answers.

Tahini is More Than Hummus: History

Learning about the history of an ingredient is important in cooking. Once you understand where it came from & how it is used, the ingredient becomes more than just the ubiquitous salt & pepper. It is now your new friend!

Tahini is a seed butter made from raw or toasted sesame seeds. Sesame oil comes from pressing the raw or toasted seeds. Sesame seeds have a long & rich history. Depending on the source, the sesame seed originated from either Asia or East Africa. Regardless of its origin, it has indisputably been around for at least 5,000 years; dated from archeological digs.

In the beginning, it was a valuable commodity & was used in trading. The seeds were ground into flour in Egypt, burnt into soot for the best ink in China & in ancient Persia it was considered a ‘holy food’. Sesame seeds also have a history of being used as medicine. Ayurveda medicine uses sesame in nearly half of its medicines as oil, powder, or paste. In Greece, Hippocrates praised its high nutritional value.

Tahini is More Than Hummus: Which brand is the best?

Tahini is simply sesame seed butter. When purchasing, it should only contain sesame seeds. Check the ingredient list carefully because not all brands are the same. Some of them add a sweetener & or salt. I have also seen brands that add extra oil which is not needed at all.

This article covers most brands of Tahini & is worth looking at. MinimalistBaker: Best Tahini Review!

My favorite brand is Once Again Unsweetened Creamy Tahini. When I bring it home I immediately stir it with a chopstick to combine the natural oil at the top into the sesame paste. If I have time I dump it all into my food processor instead, cream it, return it to the jar & keep it in the refrigerator. Once refrigerated it won’t separate again! It is worth the trouble. My husband has his own favorite brand which I will talk about in the ‘uses’ section below.

DIY:

PickupLimes: Quick Homemade Tahini. Easy to make. Take her advice & don’t use a blender. Much easier in a food processor.

Tahini is More Than Hummus: Nutriton facts.

Sesame oil is processed & not used in WFPB no added oil diets. Tahini is considered a natural seed butter. It is still a calorie-dense fat. It should be used in moderation just like nut-butters are. Take a look at my Blog post: Understanding Healthy Fats.

When in a recipe such as hummus you can cut down on the amount you add to make it less calorie-dense. I make my hummus with just a tablespoon of tahini & use water to thin the mixture. You can eliminate it if you want & replace it with another nut or just water.

Tahini: 1 Tablespoon

Calories 89
Total Fat 8 grams
Saturated Fat 1.1 grams
Polyunsaturated Fat 3.5 grams
Monounsaturated Fat 3 grams

 

 

 

 

Tahini is More Than Hummus: Uses & recipes.

My husband has his own favorite Tahini, Mighty Sesame Co. Organic Tahini. It comes in a squeeze bottle. He has many fun uses for it. He adds a squirt into his morning oatmeal, tosses his air-popped popcorn in a small amount with added spices & as a condiment for wraps for a few examples.

When I want crunchy roasted potatoes or tofu, I toss them into a bowl with a small amount of tahini. I don’t do this often because as fat it is calorie-dense.

Tahini can replace the fat in a recipe but it will change the flavor. I used it as a substitute for the coconut oil in my chocolate chip cookie recipe last week. It was good. It added to the flavor in a positive way & it made the cookie crunchy on the outside. I usually use peanut butter but the cookie is soft & is basically a chocolate chip peanut butter cookie. The Tahini was a nice change.

Tahini can be added at the end of a stir-fry in place of sesame seed oil. You will get the sesame flavor without the added calories. Sesame oil is 120 calories per tablespoon.

Uses:

Recipes:

My favorite way to use Tahini is still in my Hummus. Here is my basic recipe.

  • 1 & 1/2 cups Cooked Chickpeas; drained & rinsed. I cook mine in my Instant Pot. You can also use canned although the flavor & texture will be different.
  • 3 Tablespoons of Lemon or Lime juice. You can use less if you don’t like the lemony flavor.
  • 5 cloves of Garlic. Yes, I use 5 cloves. Adjust this to your own taste.
  • 1 tablespoon of Tahini.
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon Ground Cumin. (Optional)
  • Approximately 1/4 cup of water. Add a little at a time to adjust the creaminess of your Hummus.

Place all of the ingredients into a blender or food processor. I prefer my food processor. Combine it until creamy & the ‘thickness’ of the hummus is to your liking.

I love garlic/lemon hummus. I started with 2 cloves of garlic & 2 tablespoons of lemon juice but it just wasn’t to my liking 🙂 I also make this without the Tahini & it tastes fantastic.

Recipes

  • Center for Nutrition Studies: Tahini Recipes. You will see the tahini used as a fat substitute in some of the recipes & as the main ingredient in others.
  • The Simple Veganista: Tahini Recipes. “Find a wide variety of the BEST vegan recipes using tahini. Tahini, made from sesame seeds, can be used to make hummus, flavorful dressing and dips, as well spreads.”
  • Eat-Plant Based: Tahini Recipes. Terri Edwards. I use her Tahini Sauce recipe for salad dressing & as a condiment with stir-frys, rice dishes & anything else that takes my fancy 🙂 She also has a recipe on this page for Italian Vegan Hummus: Tahini-free.

Be creative with Tahini like my husband is. I am amazed at what he comes up with. Sometimes I won’t even taste his concoction but that’s another story. Until next time…Mary 🙂

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Mary’s Reality Based Nutrition
posted January 24th, 2022


What is the best diet for you? As I keep reminding you, you are each a unique individual. Each of us has specific needs concerning which diet we choose; cultural, age, gender, location, income, size of family, health, and so on. I happen to be 100% on board with a vegan plant-based diet. That doesn’t mean you are ready to take that step. So where is the best place to start? Right here. Best Diets 2022.

“Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food” Hippocrates

The USNews & World Report has published its list for the Best Diets Overall 2022

. This is the 12th year they have published this list. I always find it fascinating to see which diets make the top three & where they rank vegetarian & vegan diets. We will begin with how the USNews came up with the rankings & then move on to the list itself.

Best Diets 2022: How & who rates them.

U.S. News Best Diets: How We Rated 41 Eating Plans. “With help from a panel of diet and nutrition experts, U.S. News unveils new 2022 diet rankings.” By U.S. News Staff, Jan. 4, 2022 “A panel of nationally recognized experts including nutritionists and specialists in diabetes, heart health, human behavior, and weight loss, reviewed detailed assessments prepared by U.S. News of 40 diets. The experts rated each diet in seven categories, including short- and long-term weight loss, ease of compliance, safety, and nutrition..” Click on the first link to look at the categories they used to rate each diet. I want to add here that there was no conflict of interest with each of the panelists. As we know, this is important

The ratings by the experts are then given stars from 5, the best, to 1, the lowest ranking. Using the stars that each diet received, there are 40 this year, they are then put into 9 different categories. Information & links to each category are supplied on this page: How We Rated 40 Eating Plans

  1. Best Diets Overall
  2. Best Diet Programs
  3. Best Weight Loss Diets
  4. Best Diabetes Diets
  5. Best Heart-Healthy Diets
  6. Best Diets for Healthy Eating
  7. Easiest Diets to Follow
  8. Best Plant Based Diets
  9. Best Fast Weight-loss Diets

Best Diets 2022: Rankings.

The diet categories that we are interested in have to do with overall good healthThey are; Best Diets Overall, Best Diets for Healthy Eating, Best Diabetes Diets, Best Heart-Healthy Diets, Best Plant-Based Diets & of course the Easiest Diets to Follow.

Click on this link, Best Diets 2022for specific information about each of the diets. The information includes; an explanation of what the diet is, how easy it is to follow, the health benefits & much more.

  • Best Diets Overall: No surprise here. #1 is the Mediterranean Diet, #2 is the Dash Diet & #3 the Flexitarian Diet.
  • Best Diets for Healthy Eating: Once again it is; #1 Mediterranean Diet, #2 Dash Diet & #3 Flexitarian Diet!
  • Best Diabetes Diet: Surprise! Nah, not really  #1 Mediterranean Diet, #2  is a 2-way tie; Flexitarian Diet, & Vegan Diet.
  • Best Heart Healthy Diet: #1 Mediterranean Diet, #2 Ornish Diet & #3 Dash Diet. All three of these diets were put together to reduce & in some cases reverse heart disease.
  • Best Plant Based Diets: #1 Mediterranean Diet, Flexitarian Diet, & Vegetarian.
  • Easiest Diets to Follow: #1 Mediterranean Diet  , #2 Flexitarian Diet & #3 The Fertility Diet.

Diet Information.

The diets that stand out for overall good health are the Mediterranean, DASH & Flexitarian Diets. You can search my website for posts about all three of these diets but easier yet is to follow these links with the information provided by the USNews & World Report.

Best Diets 2022: Vegan & vegetarian rankings.

Where did the Vegetarian & Vegan diets rank in the categories we are interested in?

  • Best Diets Overall: #9 Vegetarian, #17 Vegan
  • Best Diets for Healthy Eating: #10 Vegetarian, #22 Vegan
  • Best Diets for Diabetes: #2 Vegan, #5 Vegetarian
  • Best Heart-Healthy Diets:  #4 Vegan,#7 Vegetarian
  • Best Plant Based Diets: #3 Vegetarian, #8 Vegan
  • Easiest Diets to Follow: #11 Vegetarian, #30 Vegan. Not really surprised by this ranking. Both diets take commitment & they are time consuming to plan & cook.

Take a look at the information about the Vegetarian & Vegan diets from this report. As you will see the vegetarian diet scored in the top 10 in 6 categories. The vegan diet didn’t fare as well. It was in the top 10 in 5 categories. They are time-consuming & not easy to follow if you are not 100% committed. I believe the most difficult part of being a vegan is balancing the nutrition aspect of the diet.

My posts to help you to decide.

Where did your eating plan fall on the list? Are you still searching for an eating plan or are you just plain old confused about what to eat? I recommend looking at the links I provided for the Mediterranean, the Dash & the Flexitarian diets. You can’t go wrong with these 3. The first step is always the most difficult, especially dietary. Go for it! Your health should be your #1 priority.


Think of your diet & overall lifestyle as ‘health insurance.’ It is that important to you, & your family. Until next time…Mary 🙂

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Buddha Bowls
posted January 17th, 2022


I am a curious person by nature. I started thinking about a post with recipes for the popular Buddha Bowls, naturally, I had to find out why they were called that. Martha Stewart is credited with being the first person to use ‘Buddha Bowl’ in print in her 2013 book, Meatless. Up until that time they were called ‘Hippie Bowls’ or ‘Grain Bowls’.

Buddha Bowls: Origin.

The idea of having a personal eating bowl that has protein, grains, vegetables & a condiment has been around for a very long time, mostly in Asia & Hawaii. Each culture has a different name for it & different ingredients. But why Buddha Bowl? There are many guesses about this.

This is the one I found the most likely. Each morning Buddha would take his bowl & walk through the villages accepting bits of food that the people offered him. This was a way for the villagers to give a Spiritual offering, they didn’t consider it an act of charity. His bowl would be filled with a variety of protein, grains & vegetables; whatever the villagers could spare. Buddha would end up with a balanced meal! Balance is an important concept in Buddhism. The practice, which is over 2,000 years old, continues today with Buddhist Nuns & Monks in many countries.

Sources:

Each of these articles has a unique take on the origin of Buddha Bowls.

Buddha Bowls: No rules 🙂

Buddha Bowls should contain a balanced meal. There are no rules on what ingredients to place in your Buddha bowl. There is a general rule that it should contain protein, greens & a grain. You can build your own recipe based on what you like. It can be a combination of ingredients from any culture; Mexican, Italian, or Asian for example.

You can begin by using the following recipes as a guide. Then go crazy! Be creative & have fun.

Buddha Bowls: Recipes.

  • ForksOverKnives: How to Make a Buddha Bowl. By Mary Margaret Chappell, Jan 15, 2020 This is the perfect way to learn how to put together a healthy, WFPB Buddha Bowl. Good information that cover the basic ingredients plus some sauce ideas. It includes a list of recipes.
  • EatPlantBased: Vegan Bowl Recipes (Vegan & Oil-Free). By Terri Edwards. Information about the different ingredients she prefers & the various condiments/sauces that you can add to make that perfect Buddha Bowl.
  • Love & Lemons: Best Buddha Bowl Recipe. “The ultimate nutrient-packed vegan buddha bowl! Fresh veggies, beans, sauerkraut, and a vibrant turmeric tahini sauce make it hearty and flavorful.” This is a very different, flavorful bowl. Look at those ingredients! Sauerkraut is a favorite of mine.
  • MinimalistBaker: Sweet Potato Chickpea Buddha Bowl.This one is made with our favorite ingredients. Sweet potatoes & chicpeas. Yum!
  • Not enough ideas? VeganFoodandLiving: 23 vegan Buddha bowl recipes for healthy vegan dinners. Author: Rachel Smith

Eating a balanced meal was never easier using the Buddha Bowl idea. We need bigger bowls! Until next time…Mary 🙂

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January Nutrition Nuggets
posted January 10th, 2022

January’s Nutrition Nuggets include a new study that links the Keto diet to long-term health risks; reasons to get your vitamin C & the top nutrition trends for 2022. A few of my readers think that I am picking on the Keto diet. Not so. Giving you up-to-date scientific-based information about any diet, trend, or food that may have harmful side effects is my only objective.

January Nutrition Nugget: Keto diet.

Forks Over Knives: New Study Links Keto Diet to Severe Long-Term Health Risks. By Megan Edwards Sep 3, 2021. The study is a meta-analysis. Over 100 studies on the Keto diet were looked at by physicians, researchers & dieticians. Their goal was to determine the long-term health effects on the dieters. The bottom line was that people on very low-carb diets have an increased risk for heart disease, an increase in their LDL cholesterol, kidney failure, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, some cancers et al. A very low-carb diet is not the only problem, the omission of healthy food groups such as fruits, grains & some vegetables also contributes to the long-term health effects. I suggest that you peruse the actual study.

This is the study that the above article is referring to. Frontiers in Nutrition: Ketogenic Diets and Chronic Disease: Weighing the Benefits Against the Risks. July 16, 2021

For more information about the history & use of the Keto diet take a look at my post from August 20, 2019. Ketogenic Diet Update

January Nutrition Nugget: Vitamin C.

Including information about Vitamin C is important during the colder months of the year. We are more susceptible to colds, flu & Covid. Vitamin C does not cure any of these but it does help to boost your immune system.

Vitamin C is an antioxidant. Our bodies do not make Vitamin C, it must come from our diet. Most people can get enough vitamin C from the fruits & vegetables in their diet; citrus fruits, berries, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, & spinach are all great sources.

  • EcoWatch: 7 Essential Health Benefits of Vitamin CTiffany Chaney Dec 27, 2021. Excellent article.
  • NIH: Vitamin C, Fact Sheet for Consumers. This is a great overview of Vitamin C. It covers the RDA for Vitamin C, the benefit, & symptoms of a deficiency in C. Very informative.
  • Oregon State University; Linus Pauling Institute: Vitamin C. For a more comprehensive look at Vitamin C & the studies for specific uses, this is the best site. It includes a section on IV Vitamin C for cancer patients for those of you who are interested.

 

January Nutrition Nugget: Top Nutrition Trends for 2022.

Each year companies take a big chance on what the newest trends in clothing, nutrition, etc. will be. It is always interesting to take a look at what the ‘experts’ think. What are the top trends in nutrition for 2022? The pandemic has influenced all of them as I would have predicted it would.

  • The internet is the new Cookbook. So true! Google a recipe, check Pinterest, Instagram or any other social media. I do this everytime I realize that I need to use the cauliflower or zuchini & need some inspiration 🙂 For Google start your search with the initials WFPB. You can even include no added oil. Love the internet!
  • Plant-based diets are becoming more popular due to their health benefits for people & the planet. This is a win, win situation.
  • People are choosing fewer alcoholic drinks. The sale of alcohol-free beverages has increased. I have purchased alcohol free wine for special occasions. There are some very good brands.
  • Ordering take out food thru an app on our digital devices is very popular. This has given rise to what is termed “Ghost Kitchens**.” Essentially you will be ordering from an industrial or restuarant type kitchen not a restaurant or fast food place.
  • Immune boosting foods. This ties in with the vitamin C articles. We are more aware that eating a balanced, plant-forward diet will boost our immune systems.

**The Conversation: What’s a Ghost KitchenBy Jeffrey Miller, Associate Professor of Hospitality Management, Colorado State University

Top Trends: My resources.

 

New Possibility?

This is a very interesting article about how foods become luxury items over time. The first example they use is lobster. At one time it was a humble food. As you read through the article you will see that we may be facing higher prices on foods such as chocolate, coffee & spices! All staples in my house. What will cause this? Climate change. BBC: The everyday foods that could become luxuries. By Isabelle Gerretsen, 26th September 2021


Hope you learned something new in my Nutrition Nuggets. For me, the future for plant-based or plant-forward diets is expanding which is a positive for both us & the planet. Until next time…Mary 🙂

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Soup Season!
posted January 3rd, 2022


I know I said I would be back on January 10th. Weather & the new COVID variant changed that. So here I am with new recipes for soup season!

As I am writing this, on December 27th, big snowflakes are coming down outside my window. It is 38 degrees out. This is notable because I live 2 blocks from the coast in the far northwestern corner of California! The snow is not sticking but it is a beautiful sight to behold. It also makes me think of soup season 🙂 Getting out my soup pot right now & deciding which soup to have for dinner.

Soup Season!

We love soups. My husband likes creamy soup & I like chunky soup. There are so many great WFPB recipes for both types to choose from. Here are just a few.

  • This is the soup I ended up making for dinner. I like the recipe because it doesn’t use coconut milk for the creaminess. The Simple Veganista: Creamy Vegan Potato Leek Soup. I added 4 cloves of garlic minced, 2 Tabsp. of White Miso in the water instead of broth, & sauteed in water omitting the oil. I also added Chili Powder to up the flavor. Using my emersion blender I was able to have it mostly creamy with some chunks for me 🙂
  • Center for Nutritional Studies: 12 Satisfying Plant-Based Soup & Stew Recipe Ideas By Evelisse Capó, PharmD, December 14, 2021 A great lineup of healthy soups.
  • Center for Nutritional Studies: Vegan French Onion Soup. By Terri Edwards I absolutely adore French Onion Soup! This is a wonderful recipe by Terri Edwards. Recognise her name? Visit her website, which happens to be my favorite! EatPlant-Based.com.
  • Forks Over Knives: Soups! Slow Cooker Pea Soup caught my eye. Maybe with cornbread?
  • Dr. McDougall Health & Medical Center: Soups. The Soba Miso Soup is really tasty.
  • HummuSapien: The Yummiest Vegetable Soup, Jun 28, 2021 · by Alexis Joseph This is my favorite Vegetable Soup recipe. You can add just about anything to it if you want. The basic recipe is full of flavor! As usual I substitute the oil for broth to saute in. There is a note at the end of the recipe with instructions for an InstantPot. She has other soup recipes as well.

Soup Season! Breads.

A hot piece of bread is always welcome with soup. It isn’t difficult to find bread that is WFPB without added oil & sugar; Ezekiel is my favorite. Take a look at their products; Ezekiel. They have a wide range. Nearly every store stocks some of them, usually in the frozen foods area.

I enjoy making my own when I have time.


Happy New Year! Enjoy a warm bowl of soup & a chunk of healthy, homemade bread this evening. Until next time…Mary 🙂

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New Year’s Resolutions
posted December 20th, 2021

It is time to start thinking about those New Years Resolutions again. This is a yearly global ritual. Literally, millions of people set their goals for the year on New Year’s eve. How did you do with last year’s? I was curious to see if making resolutions for 2021 in the U.S., differed from previous years due to the pandemic. What are the top resolutions? What percentage are actually kept? Who makes these resolutions by gender. Are there some strategies that would help us keep them? Let’s consider these questions.

New Year’s Resolution: Statistics.

Most of the sites I looked at for statistics had the same data results or were very close. I chose this one to share with you. Finder: New Years Resolution Statistics. By Catherine Choi, Dec 4, 2020

The data came from 2020. The author was wondering the same thing I was; did the pandemic have an effect on our resolutions? 74% of adults in the U.S said that they were determined to make resolutions for 2021. This was an increase of 15% from 2020. I think that shows that the pandemic did have an effect on most of us to make 2021 a fitter year.

According to Ms. Choi’s data, these in order, are the top resolutions. It distresses me that money comes before family & love. I am not surprised that health was the #1 concern. It is also interesting that career is last & money is 3rd. Take a look at her chart to see the percentages.

  1. Health
  2. Self Improvement
  3. Money
  4. Family
  5. Love
  6. Career

Gender.

Ms. Choi found that 73.76% of men and 74.26% of women made resolutions. Close to 50/50. The top concern for both was health. She also breaks down the data by generation if you are interested. Thought-provoking.

Failure?

About 25% of those who made resolutions either didn’t think they could meet their goals or were unsure if they could. That statistic is much lower than I expected. I checked other sites & their polls had similar results. Laziness & forgetfulness were at the top of the list for why they didn’t meet the goals they set.

Be sure and look at Ms. Coi’s article. I happen to like perusing statistics. I find them fascinating.

New Year’s Resolution: Strategies.

I stopped making resolutions at the new year many years ago. It seemed to me that each year I was setting myself up for failure. I was aiming too high & beating myself up for not attaining the goals I set. Instead, deciding to come up with one positive goal at a time at different intervals during the year made all the difference. Each goal was one that I knew I could attain & I gave myself permission to ‘delete’ it if it wasn’t meeting my needs at the time.

Since this is a nutrition site let’s take a look at diet strategies. The overall goal for the year should be to become healthier. This goal should be well thought out before New Year’s eve 🙂 That single goal would encompass lifestyle changes. During the year you would take on one strategy at a time. Be realistic & set goals that you know with certainty you can reach. Making changes is a process & won’t happen overnight. Review your goals during the year & see how you are doing.

Stratagies/Goals.

I believe that the most important & useful strategy is to start where you are & go slowly! You don’t have to become a triathlete this year & you don’t need to become a vegan either. Take a look at your lifestyle & be honest with yourself. What do you need to change? Don’t make the same resolutions that you made year after year. Very bad idea 🙁

Here are a few ideas:

  1. How many meals do you have that are from a fast food place? If its 3 times a week or more then cut back to 1 time a week. This is not only healthier but it saves you money for healthier choices.
  2. Take a look in your pantry. How many packages of processed foods do you use? Decide which ones you could either do without completely or you could find a healthier version of. Replace them one at a time.
  3. Start adding more fresh fruits & vegetables to your meals. Make them your go-to snacks. Clean & cut them up to have on hand in the refrigerator. This site has great ideas that anyone can use: EcoWatch: 8 Easy Vegan Meal Prep Ideas. By Paige Bennett Dec. 10, 2021 
  4. Start where you are & go slowly! Do you eat meat/fish with at least one meal a day? Is meat in your diet is important to you? Okay, no problem. Cook smaller portions. Don’t fry it; bake or roast it. Make it 25% or less of your plate. Make a vegetarian/vegan meal once a week & see how that makes you feel. Go slowly!
  5. You already know my views on alcohol consumption. As a new reader, take a gander at my latest post on the subject: Alcohol & Breast Cancer, November 8, 2021.
  6. Harvard Health, below under resources, mentioned something I hadn’t thought of; “Understand why you shouldn’t make a change”. Understanding why you are clinging to a certain belief, lifestyle or habit is extremely important. Is it something that you just can’t change right now? Then don’t. Another reason why you need to think about & plan out your goals before you yell Happy New Year 🙂

 

Helpful resources.

 

New Year’s Resolution: Weight Loss

I only have one thing to say about this resolution; don’t make it! Weight loss should not be the main goal. Becoming healthier is the main goal. Work on being the healthiest you can be & weight loss will follow without you even thinking about it. I promise 🙂


Have a safe & happy holiday season. I will be back in the New Year, on January 10th, with a new post for you. I will continue posting recipes & information on our Facebook page! Click on the Icon above. Until then…Mary 🙂

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Holiday Baking
posted December 13th, 2021

Holiday baking time! Holidays are fun to bake for. There are so many healthy WFPB recipes for bread, cakes, cookies & even candies. I must admit that I enjoy coming up with healthier ways to bake our favorites!

Holiday Baking: Bread.

Bread is one of my favorites to bake for friends & neighbors. There are so many to choose from! Sometimes I will make several at once & freeze them for later.

  • One Green Planet: 10 Sweet and Seasonal Eggless Dairy-Free Breads to Enjoy During the Holiday Season The very first recipe had me hooked; Pumpkin Spice & Oat Loaf.
  • The Simple Veganista: Favorite cranberry Orange Bread. I make a cranberry orange sauce for holiday meals & the flavors are wonderful together. I would swap out the cane sugar for date sugar, date paste or maple syrup. Dates have a natural sugar & fiber. Don’t miss the other quick bread recipes that she has links to.
  • The Healthy Kitchen: VEGAN APPLE BREAD [OIL FREE], Published: Sep 2, 2020  by Rosa Her instructions are not to be missed. Lots of good information on substitute ingredients & variations on the basic recipe. I love the idea of a Cinnamon swirl!
  • Make It Dairy Free: VEGAN CINNAMON QUICK BREAD, March 11, 2020 by LarishaBernardTHIS DELICIOUS AND NO YEAST VEGAN CINNAMON QUICK BREAD TASTES LIKE SNICKERDOODLES FOR BREAKFAST! EASY TO MAKE AND PERFECT FOR ON THE GO! Anything that tastes like snickerdoodles has to be good!

 

Holiday Baking: Cookies.

Cookies are another favorite of mine. The problem is they are too easy to snack on! To help with that I freeze 3/4 of them & then take out only what I needed. I know what you are thinking right now; a cup of hot coffee & a frozen cookie is a perfect snack. Your right, it is. 🙂

  • EatPlantBased: 50 Amazing Vegan Christmas Cookies. By Terri Edwards, December 8, 2021 An amazing group of yummy recipes! Check out the Ginger Bread Men. So cute! The Vegan Peanut Butter cookies are so simple. I am going to make a batch today. Raining & cold right now. I need that coffee & cookie fix 🙂
  • Take a look at my post from 2020: WFPB Christmas Cookies. I explain how to upgrade your cherished recipe to a healthier one. Recipes with added oil & without added oil are listed.
  • Another post of mine from 2019: Healthier Holiday Baking.

 

Holiday Baking: Cakes.

Cakes always look so pretty when presented. You can add pretty edible flowers on top of them or decorate them with a holiday theme.

 

Holiday Baking: Candies.

My mother would make candies for the holidays. Of course my brother & I loved buttering up our hands to pull taffy! I was always intimitaded by the candy making process. These recipes are very simple to make. The only cooking is to slowly melt the chocolate in two of them. No thermometer needed & no hot sugar flying all over the kitchen 🙂

  • EatPlantBased: Stuffed Dates: Easy 2-Ingredient Dessert. By Terri Edwards, August 27, 2021. This recipe comes in handy for all occasions. They are easy to make for that last minute snack or dessert. I add a scoop of nut butter & then put the walnut or other raw nut on top. Lots of ways to dress this up.
  • EatPlantBased: Vegan Chocolate Tootsie RollsBy Terri Edwards, October 18, 2021. Haven’t tried this recipe yet. It would be a good one for gifting.
  • This is my very favorite candy recipe. You will love how simple it is & how healthy! Beaming Baker: 2 Ingredient Chocolate Peanut Butter Vegan Fudge Recipe. Oct 29, 2020 · by Demeter | Beaming Baker I use my homemade peanut butter; nothing added. The chocolate can be vegan dark chocolate chips, vegan mint chips or any other vegan chocolate chip that you like.
  • Elana’s Pantry: 3-Ingredient Low-Carb Fudge. December 21, 2020. The ingredients are simple; chocolate, coconut milk & vanilla. Easy to make & very creamy. I brought this to a gathering & it stayed firm when in a cooler with a couple of ice packs. Same for the recipe above.

Start baking & freezing all those wonderful holiday treats. Until next time…Mary 

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The Generous Cauliflower
posted December 6th, 2021

Cauliflower is another versatile vegetable in the WFPB way of eating. It was never a favorite of mine until I became vegan & started experimenting with new recipes. Cauliflower can be roasted, steamed, stirfried, or even grated. Now I use it as a main course, a side dish, in soups, sauces & even sneak it into baked goods! Let’s begin with how nutritious it is.

The Generous Cauliflower: Nutrition Facts

Cauliflower: 1 cup chopped/about 107 grams. USDA Food Central Data

Calories 26.8 calories
Protein 2.05 grams
Fat 0.3 grams
Carbohydrates 5.32 grams
Fiber 2.14 grams
Sugar 2.04 grams
Sodium 32.1 mg
Calcium 23.5 mg
Magnesium 16.0 mg
Potasium 320.0 mg
Vitamin B6 0.197 mcg
Vitamin C 51.6 mg
Vitamin K 16.6 µg
USDA Food Data Central

Health Benefits.

Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable like Brussels Sprouts, Kale, Cabbage & Broccoli to name a few. They all share the same health benefits. Tired of white cauliflower? What about purple, green or orange? They all have the same health benefits & the same mild, nutty taste.

Adding cauliflower to your plant-based diet can decrease the risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes & some cancers.

The Generous Cauliflower: Main Dish

For the main dish, I like to either roast the cauliflower florets along with other vegetables on a sheet pan, roast the whole cauliflower, or cut it into ‘streaks’. Here are some other ideas.

  • We love curry & this recipe is our favorite. Minimalist Baker: 1-Pot Yellow Chickpea Cauliflower Curry The recipe makes a lot so it can be eaten again later in the week. We enjoy it on rice, buckwheat, noodles or even baked potatoes.
  • This is a wonderful recipe. I like her ideas for different marinades. BBQ Sauce would be my husbands choice 🙂 I would omit the oils in the marinades & either replace it with broth or tahini. My leftovers usually end up in a taco or a wrap by the end of the week. Veggie Desserts: WHOLE ROASTED CAULIFLOWER WITH GARLIC AND PAPRIKA. Aug 10, 2021 by Kate Hackworthy 
  • Most of these recipes can be served as your main dish. Forks Over Knives: 20 Tasty Vegan Cauliflower Recipes
  • The Simple Veganista: Blackened Roasted Cauliflower Steaks Again I omit the oil & use tahini or just moisten the ‘steaks’ with broth to add the seasonings.

As a Side Dish

Two side dishes that we eat a lot are Riced Cauliflower & Mashed Cauliflower Potatoes. Both are so versatile. You can add anything you want to them. Raw cauliflower florets in salads or dipped into a sauce are other ideas for side dishes.

The Generous Cauliflower: Soups

In Sauces.

My husband is a big sauce fan. I am not. It is nice to have these WFPB options that he can put on his veggies 🙂

  • Plant Based Recipe: Creamy Cauliflower Garlic Recipe. Who doesn’t love a creamy GARLIC sauce! So many ways to use this recipe.
  • Alfredo Sauce is another favorite most people changing to vegan miss. Enjoy this version! Plant You: Vegan Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce (Nut Free, Gluten Free & Oil Free). Posted by CARLEIGH on DECEMBER 8, 2020 
  • Another version that uses white beans. In case you aren’t aware of this trick, white beans are used in a lot of wfpb sauces for the creamy texture. You can substitute white beans for all or half of the cashews some recipes call for. Simple-Veganista: WHITE BEAN & CAULIFLOWER ALFREDO (VEGAN + HEALTHY). “White Bean & Cauliflower Alfredo featuring high protein white beans and cauliflower, blended into a creamy vegan Alfredo sauce that is just an all around awesome sauce!”
  • I am including this recipe because it would be perfect for tacos, baked potatoes or falafels. SavorySpin: Cauliflower Jalapeño Vegan Sauce By: Author Shashi, Last updated: June 24, 2021.
  • Forks Over Knives: Cauliflower Bechamel Sauce. By Del Sroufe, Nov 14, 2012 I haven’t tried this one yet but will definately add it to my to-make list.

The Generous Cauliflower: Baking

Some of these recipes call for oil. You can substitute tahini, apple sauce, pumpkin puree, avocado, or nut butter for the oil.


The Generous Cauliflower
posted December 6th, 2021

Cauliflower is another versatile vegetable in the WFPB way of eating. It was never a favorite of mine until I became vegan & started experimenting with new recipes. Cauliflower can be roasted, steamed, stirfried, or even grated. Now I use it as a main course, a side dish, in soups, sauces & even sneak it into baked goods! Let’s begin with how nutritious it is.

The Generous Cauliflower: Nutrition Facts

Cauliflower: 1 cup chopped/about 107 grams. USDA Food Central Data

Calories 26.8 calories
Protein 2.05 grams
Fat 0.3 grams
Carbohydrates 5.32 grams
Fiber 2.14 grams
Sugar 2.04 grams
Sodium 32.1 mg
Calcium 23.5 mg
Magnesium 16.0 mg
Potasium 320.0 mg
Vitamin B6 0.197 mcg
Vitamin C 51.6 mg
Vitamin K 16.6 µg
USDA Food Data Central

Health Benefits.

Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable like Brussels Sprouts, Kale, Cabbage & Broccoli to name a few. They all share the same health benefits. Tired of white cauliflower? What about purple, green or orange? They all have the same health benefits & the same mild, nutty taste.

Adding cauliflower to your plant-based diet can decrease the risk of obesity, heart disease, diabetes & some cancers.

The Generous Cauliflower: Main Dish

For the main dish, I like to either roast the cauliflower florets along with other vegetables on a sheet pan, roast the whole cauliflower, or cut it into ‘streaks’. Here are some other ideas.

  • We love curry & this recipe is our favorite. Minimalist Baker: 1-Pot Yellow Chickpea Cauliflower Curry The recipe makes a lot so it can be eaten again later in the week. We enjoy it on rice, buckwheat, noodles or even baked potatoes.
  • This is a wonderful recipe. I like her ideas for different marinades. BBQ Sauce would be my husbands choice 🙂 I would omit the oils in the marinades & either replace it with broth or tahini. My leftovers usually end up in a taco or a wrap by the end of the week. Veggie Desserts: WHOLE ROASTED CAULIFLOWER WITH GARLIC AND PAPRIKA. Aug 10, 2021 by Kate Hackworthy 
  • Most of these recipes can be served as your main dish. Forks Over Knives: 20 Tasty Vegan Cauliflower Recipes
  • The Simple Veganista: Blackened Roasted Cauliflower Steaks Again I omit the oil & use tahini or just moisten the ‘steaks’ with broth to add the seasonings.

As a Side Dish

Two side dishes that we eat a lot are Riced Cauliflower & Mashed Cauliflower Potatoes. Both are so versatile. You can add anything you want to them. Raw cauliflower florets in salads or dipped into a sauce are other ideas for side dishes.

The Generous Cauliflower: Soups

In Sauces.

My husband is a big sauce fan. I am not. It is nice to have these WFPB options that he can put on his veggies 🙂

  • Plant Based Recipe: Creamy Cauliflower Garlic Recipe. Who doesn’t love a creamy GARLIC sauce! So many ways to use this recipe.
  • Alfredo Sauce is another favorite most people changing to vegan miss. Enjoy this version! Plant You: Vegan Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce (Nut Free, Gluten Free & Oil Free). Posted by CARLEIGH on DECEMBER 8, 2020 
  • Another version that uses white beans. In case you aren’t aware of this trick, white beans are used in a lot of wfpb sauces for the creamy texture. You can substitute white beans for all or half of the cashews some recipes call for. Simple-Veganista: WHITE BEAN & CAULIFLOWER ALFREDO (VEGAN + HEALTHY). “White Bean & Cauliflower Alfredo featuring high protein white beans and cauliflower, blended into a creamy vegan Alfredo sauce that is just an all around awesome sauce!”
  • I am including this recipe because it would be perfect for tacos, baked potatoes or falafels. SavorySpin: Cauliflower Jalapeño Vegan Sauce By: Author Shashi, Last updated: June 24, 2021.
  • Forks Over Knives: Cauliflower Bechamel Sauce. By Del Sroufe, Nov 14, 2012 I haven’t tried this one yet but will definately add it to my to-make list.

The Generous Cauliflower: Baking

Some of these recipes call for oil. You can substitute tahini, apple sauce, pumpkin puree, avocado, or nut butter for the oil.


The lowly cauliflower has been upgraded to The Generous Cauliflower! I hope you have fun trying out some of these recipes. I did. Until next time…Mary 🙂

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November Nutrition Nuggets
posted November 22nd, 2021

Time for my Nutrition Nuggets. I have collected several interesting articles for you. Are you a cheese addict? What are protein isolates? Who should be learning more about WFPB nutrition? I have the answers to these questions & Bonus recipes! Read on.

November Nutrition Nuggets: Cheese addiction.

I can really relate to this article. I grew up eating chunks of aged cheddar cheese, salami & Italian bread. It was my father’s favorite lunch & snack. My younger brother & I would go with him to pick up each item at specialty stores in Los Angeles. He would buy extra so we could eat it on our drive home; 45 minutes. Nothing like a chunk of hot, fresh out of the oven Italian bread in one hand & cheese in the other! The cheese was the most difficult food for me to give up when we switched from being vegetarian to a WFPB vegan diet. Now I know why 🙂

Salt, grease & opiates! That’s why. ForksOverKnives: Why It’s So Hard to Give Up CheeseBy Neal Barnard, MD, FACC The article says that after cheese the most difficult to give up are chips, chocolate, cookies & ice cream! Does anyone out there care to dispute that fact? I thought not. I no longer crave cheese. It just looks like a lump of stretchy fat now. But I must admit that I don’t dare taste it 🙂

November Nutrition Nuggets: Protein Isolates.

Protein isolates are used in vegan meat alternatives. The following article discusses whether or not the use of them is a problem or not. As the author states at the beginning of the article, protein isolates are simply the isolation of the protein found in whole foods. You are probably more familiar with protein powders made from soy or peas.

Center for Nutrition Studies: Protein Isolates: Do They Have a Place in a Whole Food, Plant-Based Diet? By Theresa “Sam” HoughtonOctober 27, 2021 The bottom line as I see it is that the use of meat alternatives to help meat eaters to transition to a plant-forward or plant-based diet is a good thing. Long term it is not the healthiest option.

November Nutrition Nuggets: WFPB education.

Dr. Greger is one of my favorite sources of nutrition information. His opinions are based on research studies. This is a very good article. PlantBasedNews: We Need More Hospitals With 100% Plant-Based Menus, Says Top Doctor. by Emily Baker, 7th October 2021. Medical students leave school ‘de-educated’, says Dr. Greger, when it’s ‘about time’ doctors help create a healthier society

Hopefully, this program, Rooting for Wellness, will be a prototype for other medical schools. ForksOverKnives: How Wayne State’s Medical School Became the First in the U.S. to Require Plant-Based Nutrition Education, By Megan Edwards Oct 27, 2021. I especially liked what the author quoted at the end of the article; “I think the students appreciated that we designed the curriculum to help make them a more holistic and informed physician instead of just preparing them to pass their next board exam,” said Lakshman Mulpuri. He is the co-founder of the program & also a student.

November Nutrition Nuggets: Global concern

I added this short article to show you how improving one’s health thru a plant-based diet is a global concern. Amsterdam is looking at banning fast food near & in schools. Their goal is to have residents eating 60% plant-based by 2040. PlantBasedNews: Amsterdam Residents Urged To Go 50% Plant-Based By 2030, by Emily Baker, 19th October 2021. “Policymakers in the region are considering the ban to help with climbing figures of overweight individuals.

The move to a healthier, plant-based diet is not just a small vegan activist movement, it is an international concern. I found this article intriguing. I lived in Germany for 2 years in the 1970s & for 4 years in the 1980s. Europe was a meat-eaters paradise & very difficult for a vegetarian to eat out. Big changes have occurred since then. Chef’s Pencil: Most Popular Countries and Cities for Vegans in 2020 (Jan-2021 Update), Jan 5th, 2021 by Chef’s Pencil Staff.

This is also promising. VegNews: UN ENDORSES CALL FOR A GLOBAL SHIFT TO A PLANT-BASED DIET. By ANNA STAROSTINETSKAYA, FEBRUARY 8, 2021 “A report released ahead of the UN climate conferences in 2021 urges world leaders to shift away from the “cheaper food paradigm” and toward encouraging plant-based diets.”

Food For Thought.

I read a BBC article many years ago about how a city in England stopped the children from leaving the school at lunchtime. They encouraged a healthy lunch to be brought in by the students or they could eat a healthy lunch at the school cafeteria. The photo with the article showed mothers throwing bags of fast food over the fence to their children! I dug up this article in the BBC Archives to illustrate how difficult it is to change anyone’s way of eating without educating both the parents & the children first. The junk food smugglers, By Brendan O’Neill,17 May 06.

Bonus!

  • EatPlant-Based: 6 Amazing Vegan Cheese Recipes. We enjoy her recipe for a grilled cheese sandwich using her Easy Cashew Cheese | Mozzarella, By AuthorTerri Edwards, August 27, 2021. It is very good. We also like her other cheese recipes.
  • TheSimpleVeganista: BAKED VEGAN MAC AND CHEESE (+ STOVETOP). “Winner, Winner… Baked Vegan Mac and Cheese Dinner! This dairy-free, creamy vegan mac and cheese recipe is absolutely delicious, and SO easy to make. It’s a family favorite and I’m sure it will become yours too!” Definitely our favorite!
  • Buying vegan cheese can be daunting. Most of them use some kind of oil. If that isn’t a problem for you then you will enjoy this article. Live Kindly: These Are the 10 Best Vegan Cheese Brands According to Cheese Snobs (Hi), By AUDREY ENJOLI
  • Wow! These are fantastic recipes all in one place! I batch cook my favorites & freeze them for those days I need a quick meal. Cheaper & healthier than buying them. PlantBasedandBroke.com: 28 Plant-Based Burger Recipes. “Grab your buns – we’re making plant-based burgers! With gluten-free, oil-free soy-free, high protein, and low-calorie options!

Wishing you all a Happy Day of Thanks. I will be taking the week off. My next blog post will be on December 6th. Until then: Mary 🙂

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A WFPB Thanksgiving
posted November 15th, 2021

Some of you may be new to a whole food plant-based way of eating. Your first thought when planning a WFPB Thanksgiving meal will probably be ‘No turkey? OMG, what do I do!’ No worries, there are many ways to replace a turkey. A word of caution though, WFPB recipes are not trying to replicate the taste of a roasted turkey. They are simply a new way of looking at the centerpiece of your meal.

My previous posts.

Here is a list of my previous Thanksgiving posts. In them, you will find a plethora of recipes from appetizers & soups to entrées & desserts, including cooking tips.

New WFPB Thanksgiving Recipes.

These are new recipes that are either not in my previous posts or are some of my all-time favorites.

EatPlant-Baed. Teri Edwards’ recipes have to be my favorites. They are so flavorful & are always a big hit with non-WFPB eaters. Our Holiday meal centerpiece will be her Perfect Vegan Roast | Seitan. Tastes amazing!

Forks Over Knives has a lot of good recipes to choose from. They also have a very nice App with recipes for both Apple & GooglePlay. It is $4.99 & worth the money.

WFPB Thanksgiving: New Websites

Not all of these recipes are ‘added oil-free’. You can omit it easily. Make sure that you explore these websites. Wonderful ideas & recipes.

These ideas should help you transform your Thanksgiving into a healthy meal. If you want to keep your traditional Turkey that’s fine. I understand how important tradition is, especially with food. Take a look at all the wonderful recipes above to go along with it. Until next time…Mary 🙂

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Alcohol & Breast Cancer
posted November 8th, 2021

My post: Guidelines on Alcohol ConsumptionSeptember 2, 2020, starts out as follows. For years I have wondered why the American Cancer Society would say that it is safe for women to limit their alcohol intake to 1 serving per day & men to 2 servings per day. To me, it was giving everyone permission to consume alcohol even when the research showed otherwise. Their newest guidelines on alcohol consumption are: “It is best not to drink alcohol. But if you do, women should have no more than 1 drink per day and men should have no more than 2. A drink is 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits.” This is a step in the right direction but it still does not reflect current research on alcohol & cancer.

What I should have said is that it is NOT a step in the right direction. Current research shows that there is no safe amount of alcohol when it comes to cancer. Don’t jump to the conclusion that I am a teetotaler; someone who never drinks alcohol. I enjoy a glass of white wine or champagne on special occasions; but only then. The medical community applauded when the Tobacco link to cancer was proven. Why are they not applauding now the proven link between alcohol consumption & cancer?

Personal Story.

I gave a talk to a group of cancer patients about alcohol & cancer. This was in about 2013. The majority of the women present were in treatment for breast cancer. Before I began my talk I asked each of the 15 women to tell us about the role alcohol played in her life. I emphasized that we would not be judgemental. The answers given ranged from drinks with friends each weekend to what we would consider a problem drinker; drinking 3+ glasses of alcohol every night. After I spoke about the emerging evidence of alcohol’s link to breast cancer I asked each person if my talk would change their relationship with alcohol. 100% said NO! I was so surprised! I shouldn’t have been because I have received the same answer when asking about changing dietary habits to lower the risk of cancers.

Alcohol & Breast Cancer.

The article that caught my eye was on EuroNews.com: Alcohol is one of the biggest risks for breast cancer, warns World Health OrganizationBy Pascale Davies  •  Updated: 20/10/2021 This statement at the beginning of the article says it all: “Alcohol consumption is one of the “major modifiable risk factors” for the disease, the WHO said during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.” Did you catch that? A MAJOR MODIFIABLE RISK FACTOR. This is an important statement to absorb. You simply have to make a choice between alcohol & cancer.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer is quoted in the article. Their data showed that breast cancer has become the most common cancer internationally. They estimated there were over 2 million cases in the world in 2020 & about 100,000 of these cases were due to alcoholic drinks. This is a must-read article.

The second article I want to share is from NPR: Alcohol Use Linked To Over 740,000 Cancer Cases Last Year, New Study Says, By Susan BrinkJuly 16, 2021. This article discusses all cancers that can be attributed to alcohol consumption; esophageal, mouth, larynx, colon, rectum, liver & breast cancers. The author cites the study reported in The Lancet Oncology. The study is below for you to read.

The study.

The Lancet Oncology: Global burden of cancer in 2020 attributable to alcohol consumption: a population-based study, August 1, 2021

Alcohol & other cancers.

In my previous post, I wrote According to the National Cancer Institute, NIH’s fact sheet: Alcohol & Cancer Risk, “There is a strong scientific consensus that alcohol drinking can cause several types of cancer (12). In its Report on Carcinogens, the National Toxicology Program of the US Department of Health and Human Services lists consumption of alcoholic beverages as a known human carcinogen. The evidence indicates that the more alcohol a person drinks—particularly the more alcohol a person drinks regularly over time—the higher his or her risk of developing alcohol-associated cancer. Even light drinkers (those who have no more than one drink per day) and binge drinkers have a modestly increased risk of some cancers (37). Based on data from 2009, an estimated 3.5% of cancer deaths in the United States (about 19,500 deaths) were alcohol-related.”

Even people who drink no more than 1 alcoholic drink per day have a modest risk of cancer. In the above fact sheet, the NIH lists the following cancers affected by alcohol & how much you would need to drink to be at risk.

  • Head & Neck Cancer
  • Esophageal Cancer
  • Liver Cancer
  • Breast Cancer
  • Colorectal Cancer

There is also growing evidence that there is a risk of stomach, liver & kidney cancer with alcohol. Take a look at these statistics. World Cancer Research Fund/AICR: Alcohol Drinks & the Risk of Cancer.

This, like other lifestyle changes, are obviously a personal choice. To make an ‘informed choice’ it is essential to know the facts.

Bonus:

Keep in mind. Products labeled “nonalcoholic” in the USA may contain up to 0.5% alcohol by volume; some beers, wines, and kombuchas.

I am hoping that this new information is making you uncomfortable. And I hope it is causing you to look at your own alcohol intake. In the article from NPR that I cited, the authors mention that fewer than 1 in 3 Americans recognize the correlation between cancer & alcohol. Even if they did, I wonder how many would change their habits. Will you? Until next time…Mary 🙂

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Go to the posts of previous years:
Reality-Based Nutrition Archive 2021: January through October
Reality-Based Nutrition Archive 2020
Reality-Based Nutrition Archive 2019
Reality-Based Nutrition Archive 2018

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