Lentils

It’s important, on a plant based diet, to consume plant protein. Lentils, available in a variety of colors, are one of the best sources of protein. Plus, these little legumes are packed with other nutrients and health benefits.

Lentils are an excellent source of iron, folate, zinc, phosphorus, manganese and potassium.

A cup of cooked lentils contains 18 grams of protein, less than one gram of fat, and no cholesterol, making them a much healthier choice than chicken, beef or fish. Lentils’ lean protein can help lower the risk of all diseases, including cancer and heart disease.

Lentils also contain 16 grams of dietary fiber per cup. They are a crucial source of insoluble fiber, which helps to regulate the digestive system and decreases the risk of colon, breast, throat and esophageal cancers. Additionally, fiber rich lentils help to prevent stroke, diabetes and high blood pressure.

I include lentils regularly in my diet. Two of my favorite meals are Lentil Chili, easily fixed in 30 minutes on the stove top, and Lentils and Brown Rice, a pressure pot recipe that also contains potatoes, rosemary and thyme.

Lentils are versatile, economical and full of health boosting benefits, making them an essential part of any diet. They can added to soups, salads, and rice dishes, or eaten alone. Pinterest and the app Yummly have many delicious, easy to prepare recipes. I have so many yet to try!

Yummly App

My daughter Elissa introduced me to this fun and helpful app called Yummly. She successfully tried it out for the first time as she prepped for Christmas dinner, using recipes from the app downloaded on her phone.

I’ve played with the app since downloading it myself. Yummly is my Try This Tuesday suggestion.

Check out these great features:

In the Just for You section, I customized the app for my dietary needs. The recipes Yummly pulls up for me are vegan only, with further restrictions eliminating sugar and soy. The app can be customized to suit any diet or list of restrictions. This delicious looking Vegan Carrot Soup with Ginger popped up for me. I can also search for recipes, such as “vegan potato soup”, by typing in the search bar.

This screenshot shows the list of ingredients for the recipe with nutritional info and options for creating a shopping list and scheduling a time to eat.

I can save this recipe, adding it to one of the collections listed on the right. I added the category Soups.

This is a very helpful feature, in the Explore section. I can click on ingredients that I have on hand, and the app will pull up recipes using those ingredients. I clicked on potatoes, garlic, onion, lentils and rice.

The app listed a dozen recipes for me to try. I love the Moroccan Lentil Rice suggestion!

I saved that yummy looking recipe in the Dinner collection.

Once I’ve saved the recipe, the app asks if I want to set a time to eat? If I had, the app would notify me when I need to start cooking!

Yummly can be downloaded from the App Store located on your phone.

I have had fun discovering new recipes using Yummly . It is handy to have them saved on my phone. I know they will meet my plant based guidelines, meaning I won’t have to adapt the recipes.

I will be making the Moroccan Lentil Rice soon!

B12

This important vitamin is crucial to our health and well being. Anthony William, author of Medical Medium, writes that virtually everyone is deficient in B12. He also states that without B12, we die. That’s how critical a deficiency can be.

Because B12 comes primarily from animal products, it is very important for those following a plant based lifestyle to get this in supplemental form. Look for a time released or slow release B12 tablet, as methylcobalamin and/or adenosylcobalamin.

A special probiotic film covers the leaves and skins of above ground fruits and vegetables. These elevated biotics are able to survive the digestive process and make it to the ileum, the final section of the small intestine, where vitamin B12 is created in the body.

Be selective about which produce is best consumed without washing it first. Veggies out of your own organic garden, sprouts grown on the countertop, and local organic farmers are all good sources. Produce from the grocery store is not. It typically has a waxy film and the skin has traces of pesticides. Wash it before consuming. It’s fine to lightly rinse dirt off of freshly picked garden produce. That doesn’t destroy the biotic film.

B12 is crucial for maintaining a healthy brain and nervous system. It repairs and strengthens both when they have been damaged by the shingles and Epstein Barr viruses.

Additional benefits include:

• boosts mood and eases depression

• maintains a healthy heart

• improves memory, skin & hair, and digestion

• raises energy levels and helps to ease adrenal fatigue

I had never taken a B12 supplement, until I switched to a plant based diet. I started taking it to help fight the shingles and Epstein Barr viruses. I immediately noticed an increase in energy. For all the reasons listed above, B12 continues to be one of my most important supplements.

Amazon carries a great selection of reasonably priced B12 supplements, as do health minded grocery stores and health food shops. Take one tablet a day. And to benefit from the probiotics thriving on the skin of unwashed fruits snd veggies, consider growing your own. I pop unwashed cherry tomatoes into my mouth while working in the garden. And I don’t wash the herbs that I pick for cooking or hot drinks. Unwashed dandelion leaves, from your own unsprayed yard, can be plucked and chewed on as well, or made into a tea.

The important thing is, get this vitamin into your system, and reap the healthy benefits.

Going Bananas

When I switched to a plant based lifestyle, bananas very quickly became foundational to my diet. My day typically begins with a fruit smoothie for breakfast, and a couple of bananas go into the blender first.

And no wonder this powerful antiviral food is an important part of my diet. According to Life Changing Foods, by Anthony William, bananas are high in the amino acid trptophan, and help to ease sleep disorders, reduce anxiety and alleviate depression. They destroy fungus and remove unproductive bacteria in the intestinal tract, while enhancing B12.

Bananas are antispasmodic for hyperactive colons, relieve gastric cramps and help to reverse colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, and Crohn’s disease. They are also wonderful blood sugar stabilizers.

Although bananas have been blamed for being too high in sugar, in reality the sugar in the ripe fruit is completely different from processed sweeteners in desserts. The fruit sugar in bananas is bonded to crucial minerals such as manganese, selenium, potassium and copper. The rich supply of antioxidants, vitamins, and phytonutrients in bananas is the reason they are able to help fight diseases.

Not only do I add bananas to my daily smoothie, I include them in my meals in a variety of other ways. I purchase very ripe bananas at the market, slice them up and freeze them in gallon sized bags in a single layer. The frozen bananas are great to add to smoothies, if I am out of fresh fruit, and blended in a food processor or high speed blender, they transform into a cold and creamy dessert with the texture of ice cream.

I chop them up to add to fruit salads, and grab a banana to take with me when I am on the go. They are the best before and after workout food available and make perfect travel snacks. I have tried several drink recipes, with frozen or fresh bananas as the base. This afternoon, I sampled a new one!

Banana Milk

In a blender combine 1 fresh banana, 1 cup of unsweetened non dairy milk, 2 tablespoons of gluten free oats, 1 teaspoon raw organic honey and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon. Blend until smooth.

This cold, frothy drink makes a great late afternoon pick me up. I savored it. Using a frozen banana would create a milkshake like consistency.

Bananas are at the optimal stage for eating when the skin is yellow, with brown speckles. Purchase them before they are completely ripe, and consume them as they reach peak nutrition.

Anthony writes that on an emotional level, bananas strengthen the core of who we are, encouraging us to peel back our false layers and reveal our true selves. They help reverse a state of mind that is saturated with fear and help us to release unproductive behaviors.

What an incredibly beneficial fruit. Going bananas? Yes, I think I will!

Dairy Free Potato Soup

I love soup! I grew up enjoying a variety of homemade soups and stews. One of my favorites was my mother’s potato soup. A steaming bowl of creamy potato soup is the perfect comfort food for a cold winter night.

This plant based version is just as perfect as the soup from my childhood, and without the milk, cream or butter, it is good for me too!

Dairy Free Potato Soup

Potatoes, like fruit, have gotten a bad rap. They have been blamed for a variety of ills including obesity and diabetes. In truth, potatoes help to reverse illnesses. High in minerals, and vitamins such as B12, and the crucial amino acid Lysine, potatoes help to fight off cancers, inflammation, liver disease, and viruses such as Epstein Barr and shingles. They also strengthen the kidneys and soothe the digestive system.

Try this savory, nutrition packed soup, and bring the goodness of potatoes into your life. I adapted this recipe from my mom’s and a creamy vegan potato soup I found on the recipe app Yummly. More about this great app in a future blog post!

Dairy Free Potato Soup

  • 6 medium Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 3 large carrots, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 cups of water or vegetable broth
  • 1 can coconut milk, or 2 cups of non dairy milk
  • Cashew sauce (directions below)
  • Sea salt & Pepper to taste

Directions:

Heat olive oil in large pot. Stir-fry carrots, celery, and onion until veggies are tender, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and parsley and cook 1 minute longer. Add potatoes and water or broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 15 minutes, until potatoes are tender. Add coconut milk or non dairy milk and cashew sauce, stirring well. Simmer for 5 more minutes, and serve.

Cashew Sauce

Soak 1 cup of cashews in water for 2 hours. Drain and rinse. Combine cashews and 1/3 cup of water in blender. Mix until smooth sauce forms. Add 1 teaspoon salt and dash of pepper.

Dairy Free Potato Soup

This soup was so delicious. The cashews are neutral enough that you can’t taste the mildly flavored nuts at all. However, the cashew sauce adds a richness to the broth that is scrumptious. I included the minced parsley in my soup, but it can be easily left out, if desired.

I loved all the vegetables in this soup. Combined with the potatoes, they make a hearty, flavor packed meal that I will make, and enjoy, often.

Dairy Free Potato Soup

Turmeric for Wellbeing

Welcome to Sunday Supplements. This day of soulful self care is perfect for sharing weekly about the supplements that aid and support healing. From vitamins and minerals to herbs to health boosting drinks and teas, I will be sharing the best supplements to take for different situations.

I chose to begin with what I consider to be the best supplement for overall health and wellbeing…turmeric.

Turmeric is a rhizome perennial herb in the ginger family. It is native to India and southeast Asia. Turmeric is what gives curry its yellow color, and it has been used for thousands of years in India as a spice and for medicinal purposes. Science has caught up to what the people of India have known for a long time…there are incredible healing benefits in turmeric.

This herb contains curcumin, a phytochemical with powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Turmeric also contains natural steroidal compounds that calm down the body’s inflammatory response to pathogens, such as viruses.

This makes turmeric ideal for fighting inflammation anywhere in the body, from joints to the liver to nerves to the brain. The compounds in this herb increase blood flow to the parts of the body that need it the most, lower bad cholesterol and raise good cholesterol, inhibit tumors and cysts and can help prevent any type of cancer.

Turmeric aids in combatting a host of conditions, including skin disorders, anxiety, colds and flu, sinus issues, chronic fatigue syndrome, Epstein Barr Virus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, lymphoma, heart disease, Lyme disease, Parkinson’s, liver disorders, joint pain, headaches, leg cramps, body aches, blurry vision, brain fog, menopause symptoms and many other health problems.

You can see why this herb is considered one of the best supplements to include for the greatest overall benefits. It basically helps every system, every area of the body.

And, it is the supplement that I make sure I don’t run out of. I can feel a difference in my body if I skip a day or two of taking it. Joint pain and stiffness begins to return when I don’t take turmeric.

Turmeric is available in many forms. It can be purchased in its rhizome form, in health food stores or in the produce section of most grocery stores. Use one inch pieces at a time and run it through the juicer to add to other fresh juices such as orange and apple. Combine with fresh ginger and orange juice for powerful anti-inflammatory shots.

I take turmeric daily in capsule form. I have used several different companies. Make sure the capsules also contain black pepper, which helps the body to absorb the turmeric better. The bottle of Gaia Turmeric pictured above has black pepper listed as an ingredient, on the back label. I take two capsules in the morning, with my breakfast smoothie.

My favorite way to include turmeric in my diet is with this tasty Turmeric Tea, also called Turmeric Milk or Golden Milk.

In the bottom of a large mug, mix 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder with 1 tablespoon of raw organic honey and a dash of black pepper. Fill cup with warm unsweetened, non dairy milk. I love unsweetened almond coconut milk. Stir well. Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon.

This drink is so delicious. I crave it. Turmeric Milk is the perfect way to wind down after a busy day and prepare for a good night’s sleep.

Taking turmeric as a daily supplement, drinking my Turmeric Milk, makes me feel like I am taking excellent care of myself. I know I am calming inflammation in my body while combating the Epstein Barr Virus. For me, it is nurturing at the highest level.

I am so worth it.

Get your Turmeric here!

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Cara Cara Oranges

One of the things I love about this time of year, other than the Christmas season, is the arrival of oranges in the fresh produce section. I’ve always been okay with oranges. I have to peel them, but I know they are worth the extra bit of trouble. They are full of health benefits.

A couple of years ago, I discovered an orange that is so delicious that I don’t mind removing its peel at all!

Cara Cara Oranges are a natural hybrid, a cross between a Washington Navel Orange and a Brazilian Bahia Navel Orange. They look like ordinary navel oranges on the outside, but peel one and its secret is revealed. The flesh ranges in color from light pink to dark red and they are juicy, sweet and refreshing.

Cara Cara Oranges, also called Red Oranges and Blood Oranges, are lower in acid than regular oranges, meaning they are never bitter or sour. And, they are incredibly good for health reasons, making them an ideal foundation in the plant based diet.

Oranges are rich in flavonoids and limonoids, which fight off viruses in the body, while protecting from radiation and deactivating toxic heavy metals. This citrus fruit also contains a form of bioactive calcium that can’t be found anywhere else. The body readily absorbs this calcium. It strengthens teeth while helping to dissolve kidney stones and gallstones.

Rich in vitamins and nutrients, oranges help with a host of diseases and disorders, including diabetes, depression, fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue and fertility issues. They also ease hormonal imbalances, body pains, ringing in the ears and provide emotional support.

Cara Cara Oranges can be peeled and eaten as a fresh fruit snack. They can also be added to salads, mixed with other fruits, juiced or peeled and added to smoothies. Because they help to cleanse the body of heavy metals, I frequently add a Cara Cara Orange to my Detox Smoothie, which also contains frozen wild blueberries, bananas, Hawaiian Spirulina, Atlantic Dulse and Barley Grass Juice Powder.

I crave these sweet oranges. I was excited to find them back in the grocery store two weeks ago, just in time to add slices to Hot Spiced Cider. Sadly their season ends about mid April, so this is the perfect time to grab these luscious fruits and enjoy them to the fullest. I know I will.

Vegan Black Bean & Corn Salsa

I was looking for a healthy salsa to share at my family’s Christmas Day Smorgasbord. I contributed plant based snacks, sides and desserts. My family members brought their favorite sides or main course dishes, however, they got to sample my plant based recipes too.

I had in mind to make my sister’s Cowboy Caviar. But when I saw that the recipe called for bottles of salad dressing, I opted for this easy to make salsa that includes the fresh juice of two limes instead.

The recipe, from SparkPeople, on my first official Try This Tuesday, is not only quick to throw together, and healthy, it is pretty to look at too! And, it is incredibly delicious, as the flavors all blend together.

I omitted the cilantro, because of a family member’s dislike of it. And the salsa was still excellent. In fact, the recipe made a large bowl of salsa and I brought home a very small bowl of left overs. I used only organic, non GMO canned goods. Del Monte brand now has non GMO canned goods, as do other brands found in health conscious grocery stores, like Natural Grocers. I diced the avocado and added it right before serving.

The salsa was accompanied by organic, non GMO tortilla chips, made by Tostitos, and available in the chips aisle at any supermarket. These bite sized scoops are perfect for dipping.

The black bean and corn salsa was so good that I will be making this recipe often. It is a great side dish to take to parties or family gatherings. I can know that I am contributing food wise, and also to the health of everyone present!

Dairy Free Turmeric Milk

I enjoy a warm drink in the evening, year around. During the summer, my drink of choice is a cup of hot herbal tea, brewed from herbs freshly picked from my garden. With the arrival of cooler weather, I look for additional nighttime drinks to sip on. It is essential to me that these bedtime drinks be warming and soothing and also full of health boosting benefits.

I was excited to try this dairy free turmeric milk. I found the recipe on Facebook, in a group I am part of called Avocado. This delicious and easy to prepare recipe comes from Anna Davis.

Warm Turmeric Milk

Ingredients

• 1 teaspoon dried turmeric

• 1 tablespoon raw organic honey

• Dash of coarsely ground black pepper

• Dash of cinnamon

• 1 cup of unsweetened dairy free plant based milk such as almond or coconut

In a small bowl mix together honey, turmeric, black pepper and cinnamon, making a paste. Warm plant based milk. Add small amount to turmeric mixture, stirring until smooth and thinned out. Add turmeric mixture to remainder of milk. Sprinkle with additional cinnamon and enjoy.

I used unsweetened almond coconut dairy free milk. The coconut adds a subtle flavor that I like. Plain almond milk can be used as well. As the milk heated, I whisked the honey, turmeric, and black pepper together.

The spicy aroma was wonderfully tantalizing as I added a small amount of warm milk to the honey mixture. After it was thinned out, I poured the mixture into the cup of milk.

A sprinkle of cinnamon on top and my bedtime turmeric milk was ready to savor. And savor it I did. This drink was so good that I had to pace myself. The taste is full of flavor but mild.

Turmeric is considered one of the most effective medicinal herbs with powerful benefits for the body. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. The body absorbs curcumin much better when black pepper is ingested at the same time.

Curcumin is linked to improved brain function and a lessening of brain diseases, less risk of heart disease, cancer prevention, depression prevention, inhibition of Alzheimer’s, improvement of arthritis through lessening of inflammation and it has anti-aging properties.

That’s a lot of health benefits packed into a tasty nighttime drink. In addition, turmeric soothes the digestive tract, which contributes to a better night’s sleep.

Raw organic honey, locally produced, is a good source of antioxidants. Health benefits of honey include soothes the digestive tract, eases seasonal allergies and sore throats, protects the body from cell damage, and it is antibacterial and anti-fungal.

Best of all, this drink centers me as it warms me, preparing me for a time of deep rest. My body craves it, encouraging me to sip on a cup every evening. Turmeric milk has become my favorite bedtime drink!

30 Day Walking Challenge

One of the things I loved about my recent travels abroad is how much walking I did. The best way to explore new places is on foot, and I would spend hours walking with my traveling companions. My body responds well to that kind of daily exercise. And yet, when I return home, in spite of my good intentions to continue walking daily, I fall back into my old routine and my old habits.

I decided to challenge myself, in a way that encouraged me to walk daily while having fun and seeing some new places in my own area. The 30 Day Walking Challenge was born.

The rules of the challenge are simple.

One…walk every day for the next 30 days.

Fourteen months ago, the 28 Day Cleanse, during which I ate raw fruits and vegetables, shifted my life. I felt so much better and saw such profound improvements in my health and well being that I embraced a plant based lifestyle. I know what adopting a new practice for 30 days can do! I am curious to see what walking daily does for my body and my soul.

I prefer to walk outdoors, so rain or sunshine, cool or warm temps, I’ll dress for the weather and enjoy nature or suburban neighborhoods. If it is storming, or there is heavy rain, then I can walk at the mall or other indoor venues.

Walking has many health benefits, including improving mood, maintaining or losing weight, improving circulation, preventing disease, toning the body, improving balance, and boosting creativity. For me walking connects me with my body, quiets my mind and increases my appreciation of beauty and fills me with wonder.

Two…walk somewhere different every day.

Because I am easily bored, and boredom kills an exercise routine for me, I chose to add a fun element to the challenge. I will walk in a different location every day.

There are many nature trails and walking paths in my area. And I want to explore parts of my own city that I have never visited before. There are neighboring towns that I can walk in and three nearby states that offer parks and hiking trails.

I will do solitary walks. And I intend to walk with others. I’m excited to walk with my three grown children, along with their spouses, kids and pets, in their neighborhoods. I’ve been invited to walk along on a golf course. And I will drive to visit my grandson, who is away at college, and walk the campus with him.

This is day three of my walking challenge. Here are the locations I have visited.

Day 1: Wildcat Park, south of Joplin, with its trails through woods and along Shoal Creek. Walking in nature is so restorative to me, body and soul.

Day 2: Joplin High School Campus. Although I drive by this school, rebuilt after the 2011 Joplin tornado, I’ve never explored the gorgeous campus. Among the buildings, sports fields and parking lots are natural areas designated for water run off and collection, where flowers and ornamental grasses flourish.

Day 3: Cunningham Park, west Joplin. This park and the surrounding area was destroyed in the tornado. However, now it is a beautiful memorial park, in honor of the people who died and with gratitude for the many volunteers who came to help Joplin in the recovery phase. It was a soulful place to walk this morning…peaceful and yet with signs of life everywhere. There was a child’s birthday celebration beneath a pavilion, kids playing on the playground and even a couple of knights having a mock sword fight.

I’m excited about this 30 Day Walking Challenge. I want to see how my body responds. I am curious to see how I respond, on the first rainy or blustery day, when I feel the tug to skip the walk. I look forward to walking in new places and having companions that walk alongside.

It is a challenge…and I am in high anticipation as I meet it. Walk with me.