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    • Moderation in All Things....Myth Revealed

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    •  5/26/2010 9:35:15 PM
    • Since I have changed the way I eat, I have come to the painful realization that not everyone shares my zeal for whole foods.  I recently found out that I was described by a friend to someone as being extreme!  I was immediately heart-broken.  I had tears in my eyes when my husband finally walked through the door and I confronted him with the daunting question:  "Honey, am I EXTREME?" He paused only for a moment, and then smiled, "Well of course you are", and then gave me a big kiss!

      It's easy to forget the "extremeties"  when I spend time with like-minded friends, and submerge myself in books that send the same message: WHOLE FOOD PLANT-BASED eating for LIFE!  I enjoy living in my little cloud believing that the whole world is on the same quest for health.  It makes it easier .  But without a moments notice, my cloud is burst and I come tumbling back to reality when I hear these 4 little words (in response to my attempts at vegetarianism):




      I'll be honest, a small pang of sadness sweeps over me and I am not sure how to respond.  I know exactly what this person is thinking, "I'm not ready to make a change in my life; I am happy with my food choices".  Which is totally cool with me.  I have no expectations for anyone but myself (well, maybe my hubby and kids)! 


      And still, the term 'moderation in all things' has a way of getting under my skin so quickly and without warning.  Why is that? Maybe I feel slightly attacked. Maybe it is a reminder that the person with whom I am talking does not share my enthusiasm for whole foods and basically wants the conversation to be over.  I think maybe  the term creates a serious disconnect inside of me.  I do believe "moderation" to be true for so many different aspects of life (how much we work, how much we play etc.) but not necessarily for nutrition.  So how do I distinguish between the two - moderation in some things?



      I am reading a book right now called The PLEASURE TRAP by Lisle and Goldhamer and just finished a chapter called "The Myth of Moderation".  You can imagine my excitement when I read that!!!  Sometimes it takes having someone else tell you what they believe in order to clarify what you know you believed all along (if that makes any sense) This book was my clarifier!


      The idea of everything in moderation in terms of nutrition is a valid stance unless the products that we consume have a natural effect on our central nervous system.  If they do, then we can trust our bodies to set our limits.  How do you know when you have eaten enough bananas? When you feel satisfied.  How do you know when you've had enough water?  When you aren't thirsty anymore.  These are the things that I consider are on a "level playing field"


      But there are many products out there that are not even close to a level playing field.  Products that are created by the world's greatest chemists.  Products designed to make me want more.  Products that completely interfere with my bodies natural systems.  Is there room for moderation with these?  Cigarettes for example artificially stimulate the dopamine activity in the pleasure centers of the brain.  How many cigarettes is a healthy and moderate amount? Similarly, how much cocaine is a healthy and moderate amount?


      Now I know what you might be thinking.  Can the effects of cigarettes and cocaine really be compared to the effects of "food"? This is where I can smile because I have been taught the answer.  There were many times I wondered the same things.  But thanks to many  doctors, scientists, nutritionists and food experts who have spent their life's work determining this very answer, I can say that It is a resounding YES!!!


      There are in fact so many "foods" that DO NOT have a natural and healthy relationship to the body. The moderate amount for these is simply NONE.  Here is a quote from the book that I love.


      "These statements seem extreme.  And in fact, any given minor transgression is likely to have only minor consequences.  A little bit of coffee is only a little bit toxic, and results in only a little bit of increased blood pressure and, thus is responsible for only a little bit of an increase in stroke probability. A little bit of refined flour is likely to be the cause of only a little bit of excess body fat, and is therefore only a little bit aesthetically displeasing (I think I live off this excuse), and is only associated with a little bit of an increase in all-cause mortality.  A little bit of alcohol only kills a little bit of the brain with each use, only slightly reducing cognitive capacities, and results in only a small increased risk of death from liver disease or hemorrhagic stroke."


      Can we live less than perfectly and still be healthy?  Of course.  If we only make small 'transgressions' here and there we may never experience serious consequences.  But this is not the same thing as saying "Moderation in all things".  This is recognizing that every unhealthful decision we make impacts the body  in a destructive way (to some degree).  This is recognizing that in order to have your best health possible you would need to make the best choices possible.  Anything short is a step backward from your optimum health.

      I am not saying we need to be perfect to get excellent results. But hopefully we all agree that optimal results are not achievable without optimal behavior. And in today's world that behavior has the appearance of being extreme.  And you know what, I guess I am just fine with that!  (Please tell me there are others out there who are just as extreme as me.....)


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    • Which oils are best for cooking?

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    •  5/19/2010 9:48:44 PM
    • Have you ever heard the term "SMOKE POINT" in reference to oils? 



      This basically means the point at which the fat starts to break down when exposed to heat.  Heat changes the characteristics of oils and fats (including nuts and seeds) and can quickly change a "good fat" into a toxic one (this is why raw nuts are healthy and roasted nuts generally are not).  The release of free radicals from over-heating the oil has been directly linked to cancer.  So in cooking it becomes important to familiarize yourself with the smoke point of different oils.  Extra-virgin olive oil might be perfect on your salad but has a relatively low smoke point.  Sunflower, safflower and canola oils are a much better choice if you are going to be frying or using a high temperature.

      This is a chart on




      Type of oil or fat Saturated Monounsaturated Polyunsaturated Smoke point Uses
      Butter 66% 30% 4% 150 °C (302 °F) Cooking, baking, condiment, sauces, flavoring
      Ghee, clarified butter 65% 32% 3% 190–250 °C (374–482 °F) Deep frying, cooking, sautéeing, condiment, flavoring
      Canola oil 6% 62% 32% 242 °C (468 °F) Frying, baking, salad dressings
      Coconut oil 92% 6% 2% 177 °C (351 °F) Commercial baked goods, candy and sweets, whipped toppings, nondairy coffee creamers, shortening
      Rice bran oil 20% 47% 33% 254 °C (489 °F) Cooking, frying, deep frying, salads, dressings. Very clean flavoured & palatable.
      Corn oil 13% 25% 62% 236 °C (457 °F) Frying, baking, salad dressings, margarine, shortening
      Cottonseed oil 24% 26% 50% 216 °C (421 °F) Margarine, shortening, salad dressings, commercially fried products
      Grape seed oil 12% 17% 71% 204 °C (399 °F) Cooking, salad dressings, margarine
      Lard 41% 47% 2% 138–201 °C (280–394 °F)[29] Baking, frying
      Margarine, hard 80% 14% 6% 150 °C (302 °F)[30] Cooking, baking, condiment
      Margarine, soft 20% 47% 33% 150–160 °C (302–320 °F) Cooking, baking, condiment
      Diacylglycerol (DAG) oil 3.5% 37.95% 59% 215 °C (419 °F) Frying, baking, salad oil
      Olive oil (extra virgin) 14% 73% 11% 190 °C (374 °F) Cooking, salad oils, margarine
      Olive oil (virgin) 14% 73% 11% 215 °C (419 °F) Cooking, salad oils, margarine
      Olive oil (refined) 14% 73% 11% 225 °C (437 °F) Sautee, stir frying, cooking, salad oils, margarine
      Olive oil (extra light) 14% 73% 11% 242 °C (468 °F) Sautee, stir frying, frying, cooking, salad oils, margarine
      Palm oil 52% 38% 10% 230 °C (446 °F) Cooking, flavoring, vegetable oil, shortening
      Peanut oil 18% 49% 33% 231 °C (448 °F) Frying, cooking, salad oils, margarine
      Safflower oil 10% 13% 77% 265 °C (509 °F) Cooking, salad dressings, margarine
      Sesame oil (Unrefined) 14% 43% 43% 177 °C (351 °F) Cooking
      Sesame oil (semi-refined) 14% 43% 43% 232 °C (450 °F) Cooking, deep frying
      Soybean oil 15% 24% 61% 241 °C (466 °F) Cooking, salad dressings, vegetable oil, margarine, shortening
      Sunflower oil (linoleic) 11% 20% 69% 246 °C (475 °F) Cooking, salad dressings, margarine, shortening
      Sunflower oil (high oleic)[31] 9% 82% 9%    


      One other important thing to note is whether the oil is refined or unrefined.  Refined oils have gone through numerous processes that remove different impurities (and arguably nutrients) that cause the oil to smoke.  This means that refined oils have a higher smoke point than their unrefined counterpart.


      Years ago I read that coconut oil was preferred for its high smoke point.  Although it is high in saturated fat , I opted for this oil instead of olive oil for my high temperature dishes.  As it turns out, the coconut oil I was using in fact has a very low smoke point.  I also learned that the Extra Light Olive Oil has a relatively high smoke point.  From now on I think I will use  it, or canola, in my cooking.

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    • Falafel Wrap Recipe

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    •  5/7/2012 6:06:23 PM
    • I was in New York City a couple of weeks ago with some girls and we stumbled upon this fantastic eatery called "Baba ghanouge".  We were starving and ready to eat just about anything.  Much to our surprise, it was one of the BEST places we ate while in New York.  The owner called himself the "Falafel King" so must of us ordered his falafel wrap.  It was AMAZING!  When I got home I was bound determined to come up with a replicate.  Here's what I came up with (not perfect, but pretty darn close)!




      Having great sauces makes for great flavors.  The salsa, the hummus, and the "dressing" can all be made ahead of time so that this isn't quite so labor intensive all on one day.  I tried to make these wraps with the store bought stuff and it just wasn't even close to the right flavors.  Fresh is always best!






      1 15oz can of garbanzo beans, drained

      juice from a small lemon

      1 tbs of tahini

      3 cloves of garlic

      1/2 tsp of salt

      2 tsp of pesto (optional, but I loved the flavor this added)

      1/2 bunch of cilantro

      3 TBS fresh parsley

      1/4 cup of water

      Put all of the ingredients in a food processor and blend until it reaches the desired consistency.

      Keep in mind that hummus is pretty hard to screw up.  Just add or omit ingredients at your discretion. 





      4 tomatoes

      4 cloves of garlic

      1/2 a red onion*

      1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed

      1/2 anaheim pepper, seeds removed

      1/2 bunch of cilantro

      3 TBS olive oil

      2 TBS vinegar

      1 TBS balsamic vinegar

      Chop all of the ingredients and combine in a bowl.  The longer the salsa is allowed to sit before serving the better the

      flavors will be incorporated.

      * A little trick to make onions taste better is to soak them in sugar water.  This pulls out the natural bitterness to the onions while still

      leaving their delicious juices.  Simply slice the desired quantity of onion and cover it with water.  Add about a 2 TBS of sugar (for a small onion).

      Let it soak for at least a half an hour. Drain and rinse before serving.  (I did this "soak" for the onions in the salsa as well as the onions on the wrap itself).




      1/2 cup Veganaise

      1/2 cup of vegan or organic sour cream

      juice from one lime

      1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped

      4 mint leaves, chopped

      4 cloves of garlic, minced

      2 TBS parsley, chopped

      Combine all the ingredients and try to let it sit for at least a half an hour before serving if you have the time






      1 1/4 cups dried chickpeas (most recipes call for canned, but I feel that fresh chickpeas add a much better taste)

      Soak these overnight, drain and then pat dry before using.

      3 cloves of garlic

      1/4 cup cilantro

      1/4 cup parsley

      4 mint leaves

      4 green onions

      2 TBS lemon juice (fresh is always better if possible)

      1 tsp cumin

      1 tsp salt

      1/2 tsp tumeric

      1/2 tsp cayenne

      Add all the ingredients into a food processor and blend until fairly fine.  Then add

      1/2 tsp baking soda

      1/3 cup of flour

      Form into small 'patties' and then chill them for at least 30 minutes - this step is optional




      Next step is to heat canola oil in a pan with enough oil to submerge the patties about 1/2 way.

      Depending on the quality of pan, I would set the oil on medium heat for 8-10 minutes before cooking the patties.

      When you fry with oil that is not hot enough, too much of the oil is absorbed into the food. Fry each patty for 3-4

      minutes (until golden brown) on each side.  Remove from heat and pat with paper towels to absorb the oil.

      While the falafel is cooking I prepare the wraps so that they can be served as soon as the falafel is done.



      Start with a whole wheat tortilla, or flatbread.  I am loving the "Flatout" Multi-Grain flatbread from Costco.  From the nutritional information

      they appear to be even better than many of the whole wheat tortillas I have seen.

      Spread on some hummus, then add the hot falafel and top with the dressing.  Add sliced cucumber, avocado, red onion, dill pickles

      (this was the key ingredient we decided of theFalafel we ate in New York), salsa and lettuce.  These flavor all work wonderfully together for a

      truly enjoyable dinner. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!








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