Have you ever heard someone say, "I'd rather enjoy my food and die early than eat healthfully and live long"?

People have exclaimed this phrase countless times to me when I explain to them what my diet is like. “Where is the decadence, the fat, the richness?” they proclaim when I tell them I don’t eat animal foods. “I don’t think I could live without a good steak every now and then,” I’ve heard on one too many social encounters. It seems as if a good chunk of the people I meet simply have no idea how much I love eating healthfully more than conventional food, not only because it keeps me feeling well in the present and will protect me from diseases later in life, but because it is one heck of a tasty diet. They just assume I am sacrificing enjoyment of life for a little better health, and it is not worth it.

I think people who have never given the nutritarian diet style a try might be skeptical about the taste of these foods and recipes and that is understandable. We like the foods we get used to eating. We are creatures of habit after all, and the foods we eat the most often become our comfort foods. It’s weird to me that people often believe that healthy foods are not as tasty as a bag of chips, a can of soda or even an oil heavy foie gras at a five star restaurant, for example. But I guess that is because other people get used to eating these types of foods early in their lives and I have never touched them. I’m sure that’s why people assume my diet of roasted butternut squash soups, lentil and mushroom veggie “meatloafs”, organic mesclun greens salads with pine nuts and roasted veggies, steamed edamame, and chocolate cherry smoothies (these are only a few examples of favorite foods I cook for myself) doesn’t taste very good. That’s the shame of it all- if only conventional eaters and the skeptics would give the nutritarian diet a chance to prove its deliciousness!

I’m not one to believe in sacrifice and I don’t think other people should have to either. I’ve met many people who use to eat the standard American diet (SAD) and now eat a nutritarian diet and love the variety of it, the taste of it, and the satisfaction of eating foods that promote wellness. My mom is actually one of these people. When my mom, whom was raised on a “conventional” diet, first met my dad’s sister in college (my mom and my aunt were actually good friends before she met my dad!), my mom said she felt sorry for my aunt, Gale (my dad’s younger sister) whom was raised on a healthy diet much like the one my dad advocates today. After only a few months of dating my dad when she was in her early twenties, she was converted to the nutritarian lifestyle and could no longer imagine eating the foods she previously ate regularly.  

Which brings me back to the title of this blog post and all of the implication it makes. Most people with poor eating habits don’t just “die early” but they will probably contend with illness, chronic pain, decreased brain function and reliance on expensive medications for many years before they say sayonara to this life. Taking care of oneself by making the right foods choices leads to feeling our most optimal in the present as well as protecting ourselves from future health problems. I don’t have to battle a constant cough, runny nose, colds that last for weeks, asthma, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, or any other chronic health malady that results from wanting to “enjoy my food and die early”. Some people might get away with eating poorly for decades and then succumb to ill health for only a few years, or maybe even a few months or weeks, before they die, but that is not the norm. Chronic weight problems face more Americans than ever before, as do cancer, heart disease, autoimmune disorders and other diet-related health conditions. 

Healthy foods become much more appealing when we understand the relationship between what we eat and how we feel now and into the future. What we have to work on is finding our favorite healthy foods and recipes, making the decision to commit to this way of life with the resolve that you can have it all- tasty food and great health. The misconception that healthy food is bland and tasteless needs to become a thing of the past and you can do it with education, commitment and experimentation with recipes that you enjoy. You really can have it all if you give this lifestyle a shot.  

 

The Eat To Live cookbook is coming out within the next few months (I’ve seen the recipes and tasted them) and I can testify that there are plenty of nutritious, mouth-watering recipes to come! In the mean time, there is a cornucopia of delicious recipes available on the Dr.Fuhrman.com member center like this one:

 

Golden Austrian Cauliflower Cream Soup

Serves: 4

Preparation Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients:

1 head cauliflower, cut into pieces

3 carrots, coarsely chopped

1 cup coarsely chopped celery

2 leeks, coarsely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons Dr. Fuhrman's VegiZest (or other no-salt seasoning blend such as Mrs. Dash, adjusted to taste)

2 cups carrot juice

4 cups water

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1 cup raw cashews or 1/2 cup raw cashew butter

5 cups chopped kale leaves or baby spinach

1 tablespoon curry powder (optional)

 

Instructions:
Place all the ingredients except the cashews and kale in a pot. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are just tender. Steam the kale until tender. If you are using spinach there is no need to steam it; it will wilt in the hot soup. 
In a food processor or high-powered blender, blend two-thirds of the soup liquid and vegetables with the cashews until smooth and creamy. Return to the pot and stir in the steamed kale (or raw spinach).

 

Cheers to enjoying food AND living long, disease-free lives!

 

image credit: flickr by Marc_Smith

Eating to Live on the Outside: Bombay Indian Restaurant

I feel like I say it every Saturday, but I’m wiped out! I have just enough energy to take a “trip” to California, because this week Eating to Live on the Outside is off to San Francisco to grab a bite to eat at Bombay Indian Restaurant. And at first glance it looks okay.

Now, I just finished sifting through the menu. Some stuff you want to avoid, like the lamb and cheese, but there’s plenty of good food too. Here’s a quick list of potential options:

Cucumber Salad

  • Indian style cucumber, tomato and onion; you can never go wrong with tomatoes.

Mixed Salad

  • Green salad, cucumber and tomato; nice and simple.

Bombay Vegetable Masala

  • Mixed vegetables cooked with bell peppers, spinach, onions, cheese, ginger, garlic and spices; lot’s of great vegetables, but I’ll ditch the cheese.

Allu Bengan

  • Eggplant and potatoes cooked with herbs and spices; I’m Italian, naturally I love eggplant.

Mixed Vegetables

  • Vegetables cooked in a light curry; I wonder what veggies are in this.

Mushroom Mattar

  • Green peas, mushrooms and spices with coconut sauce; its hard for me to pass up mushrooms.

Allu Gobi

  • Cauliflower and potatoes in spiced gravy; looks like another good one.

Sag Allu

  • Fresh spinach cooked with potatoes, herbs and spices; put spinach in something and I’ll probably eat it.

Allu Mattar

  • Potatoes and green peas cooked in curry sauce; not too bad.

Bombay Vegetable Coconut Curry

  • Fresh vegetables cooked with coconut curry sauce; I’m cool with this.

Bhindi Masala

  • Okra cooked with chopped onions, tomatoes and spices; I still haven’t tried okra yet!

Chana Palak

  • Fresh cut spinach cooked with garbanzo beans and spices; love that spinach.

Vegetable Biryani

  • Saffron rice with fresh vegetables, nuts and herbs; looks okay.

Bombay serves up a lot of vegetables, and beans—lots of beans—you know what that means! Now, if I REALLY had to pick something the Mixed Salad or the Cucumber Salad are probably the safest bet, but I could be lured into ordering the Bombay Vegetable Masala.

Okay, time for you guys to get off your lazy butts. Flip through Bombay’s menu and tell me what you like. Oh, and if any of you ever go to any of these places, say so in the comments. If not, I’ll thrash you!

Image credit: Bombay Indian Restaurant

Cancer Alert: Your Best Defense - Go Cruciferous

We may not have eaten so healthfully our entire lives. We may have a family history of breast, prostate or colon cancer. What should we do? Just wait until cancer is found?

Getting medical screenings is certainly a personal decision, but if you want to know what you can really do to protect yourself—eat lots of colorful vegetables, specifically including lots of green cruciferous vegetables. Eating a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables is your best defense for fighting and preventing cancer.

If we really want to win the war against cancer, we must improve the nutritional quality of our diet. We have all heard about the antioxidant effects our bodies derive from the phytochemicals in plant foods. However, the unique phytochemicals found in cruciferous vegetables offer superior benefits. Cruciferous vegetables contain phytochemicals that have unique abilities to modify human hormones, detoxify compounds, and prevent toxic compounds from binding to human DNA, preventing toxins from causing DNA damage that could lead to cancer. Studies have even shown that genetic defects that may lead to cancer are suppressed by the consumption of green cruciferous vegetables.

Certainly, many studies have shown that eating fresh fruits, beans, vegetables, seeds, and nuts reduces the occurrence of cancer. I plotted cancer incidence in 25 countries against unrefined plant food intake and found that as vegetables, beans, and fruit consumption goes up 20% in a population, cancer rates typically drop 20%. But cruciferous vegetables are different; they have been shown to be twice as effective. As cruciferous vegetable intake goes up 20%, in a population, cancer rates drop 40%.

Great choices include: arugula, bok choy, broccoli, broccoli rabe, brocollina, brussels sprouts cabbage, cauliflower, collards, horseradish, kale, kohlrabi, mustard greens, radish, red cabbage, rutabaga, turnips, turnip greens and watercress.

Include them in both raw and cooked forms and eat a variety of them. These benefits cannot be duplicated by taking any one pre-formed compound or supplement.

The evidence is now overwhelming that cruciferous vegetables play a major and unique role in the widely recognized protective effects of natural plant foods against cancer—and are the most important players in this arena. The biologically active compounds from raw and conservatively cooked green vegetables enhance the natural defenses of the human body against DNA damage and they even fuel the body's ability to block growth and replication of cells that are already damaged. For those in the know, these foods are the most important nutritional factors to prevent common human cancers.

Read more about Cruciferous Vegetables—what they are and how they benefit us along with the studies that support these claims—in the July 2007 Healthy Times Newsletter plus get great-tasting cruciferous-rich recipes!

Selected References

Michaud DS, Spiegelman D, Clinton SK. Fruit and vegetable intake and incidence of bladder cancer in a male prospective cohort. J Natl Cancer Inst 1999; 91(7):605-13.

Link LB, Potter JD. Raw versus cooked vegetables and cancer risk. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2004;13(9):1422-35.

Miller AB. Nutritional aspects of human carcinogenesis. IARC Sci Publ 1982;(39):177-92.

Higdon JV, Delage B, Williams DE, Dashwood RH. Cruciferous vegetables and human cancer risk: epidemiologic evidence and mechanistic basis. Pharmacol Res. 2007; 55(3):224-36.

Steinmetz KA, Potter JD. Vegetables, fruit, and cancer prevention: a review. J Am Diet Assoc 1996 Oct;96(10):1027-1039.

Lee SA, Fowke JH, Lu W. Cruciferous vegetables, the GSTP1 Ile105Val genetic polymorphism, and breast cancer risk. Am J Clin Nutr. 2008; 87(3):753-60.

Rose P, Huang Q, Ong CN, Whiteman M. Broccoli and watercress suppress matrix metalloproteinase-9 activity and invasiveness of human MDA-MB-231 breast cancer cells. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 2005(10);S0041-008X.

Johnston N. Sulforaphane halts breast cancer cell growth. Drug Discov Today 2004;9(21):908.

Srivastava SK, Xiao D, Lew KL, et al. Allyl isothiocyanate, a constituent of cruciferous vegetables, inhibits growth of PC-3 human prostate cancer xenografts in vivo. Carcinogenesis 2003 Oct;24(10):1665-1670.

Finley JW. The antioxidant responsive element (ARE) may explain the protective effects of cruciferous vegetables on cancer. Nutr Rev 2003 Jul;61(7):250-254.

Seow A, Yuan JM, Sun CL, et al. Dietary isothiocyanates, glutathione S-transferase polymorphisms and colorectal cancer risk in the Singapore Chinese Health Study. Carcinogenesis 2002 Dec;23(12):2055-206.

Image credit: jennconspiracy

On Manager's Special 4.27.09

My favorite, super ripe bananas $0.63.

 

Two awesome cauliflowers only $0.75.

 

A few bunches of Romaine lettuce $1.00.

 

Finally tally, just $2.38. Pretty freaking great if you ask me!

I chew through bananas like a rabib monkey, not sure what I'll do with the cauliflowers yet, but the Romaine lettuce is perfect for salads. Sweet.