Friday, February 3, 2017

Cancer Risk of Vegetables - Lesson #3

My apologies for my "lessons" not really being in an order (other than the first two).  I tend to research and learn about topics that are on my mind.  As I wait patiently for my next doctor's appointment to learn more about the asymmetric mass in my breast, I am trying to find a way to feel in control.  I definitely can control what I eat and drink.
There are so many books and research articles about the benefits of a vegan diet on your body - heart, colon and overall cancer, heart disease and stroke risk.  But I thought I would summarize one small part of the vegan diet and that is vegetables.  Mainly how your cancer risk changes with the consumption of vegetables.
The possibility that fruit and vegetables may help to reduce the risk of cancer has been studied for over 40 years.  However, no protective effects have been firmly established between fruit and vegetable in take and reduced cancer risk.  This study looked at different types of cancer and the effects of a diet high in vegetables had on cancer.  It did find that there was "probably cause" between vegetable consumption and colon cancer, but no relationship between vegetables and breast cancer, my current focus.
Then I found this study on cruciferous vegetables and cancer risk.  I thought that surely this study would find that the holy cruciferous vegetable had to have a positive effect on reducing cancer risk.  Not only was there no relationship found; this study also looked at a lot of other studies.  Again, no relationship was found between cruciferous vegetables and cancer risk.
The only known way to reduce cancer risk is to loose weight, stop smoking and reduce alcohol consumption.
The studies that I found did not support what I read in books about an anti-cancer diet, vegan cookbooks and just my overall assumptions about healthy food and its effects on your body.  In my opinion, which is not supported by any masters or Phd degrees on health and medicine, food does have a profound effect on your body.  I think I just found the wrong studies to read!  
I am going to stick with my vegan diet and see how I feel over the next few weeks.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Easy Vegan Dinner - Spaghetti with Mushrooms

So, I'm not necessarily adhering to a vegan diet, but I'm making baby steps and am trying not to waste any food that I've already bought.

Spaghetti with whole mushrooms

Tonight, I'm making an "easy" dinner.  It's easy to make and easy because the kids all like it.

1. Box of sliced or whole mushrooms
2. Jar of spaghetti sauce (your choice)
3. Box of Pasta (your choice)
4. Olive Oil
5. Red pepper flakes

I saute the mushrooms in olive oil with red pepper flakes.  I used to only put a few pepper flakes in the pan for fear that my kids wouldn't like it.  However, now I'm much more generous with the pepper flakes and no one has complained!

As for the spaghetti sauce, I'm a mood buyer,  If I feel poor, then I buy the cheapest sauce on the shelf.  If I feel like I have extra money, then I might buy an organic jar of sauce.  I dump the sauce and the mushrooms into the sauce and turn the heat on low.  I like to the heat to be low and slowly cook the sauces, because I believe it helps the mushrooms blend into the sauce better.  Plus, I don't have to worry about the sauce splattering around the range.

My pasta changes depending on my mood.  I love the Barilla pasta with the extra protein.  However, it's not necessarily my children's top choice.   Anna loves bow tie pasta.  The boys love angel hair - not whole wheat though!  So, I mix up the pasta I buy to try to make the kids happy

Enjoy this simple vegan dinner and mix it up to please the loved ones in your life!

Lesson #2 Loving Yourself

I know love was my first lesson.  It's probably going to be my second, third and fourth lesson too!  There is nothing better than love.  Life would not be worth living, if it weren't for love.  

On the notion that this post is being written out of love, please open your mind to what I am saying.

People often say that you cannot love someone else until you truly love yourself.  I am not sure if this is true or not.  I love my kids unconditionally.  I do not believe that I need to love myself in order to unconditionally love my children.  Wholeheartedly, I know that I am a better mother when I am loving myself and treating myself well (sleeping and eating right).

Lesson #2 is about loving yourself.
Take the time to get to know yourself.  You are complex.  You have genetic code in you that goes back to first humans on the planet.  You are not just 1/2 me and 1/2 you dad.  You are 1/4 PopPop, 1/4 Nana, 1/4 GG and 1/4 Granpa, but wait...PopPop is 1/4 his grandparents and Nana is 1/4 her grandparents, etc....I could go all the way back to when humans first walked this earth.

Figure out what truly makes you happy.  It took me a long time to figure out what really makes me happy and that is loving you.  In my 20s, I thought I needed to makes lots of money on Wall Street.  When I first gave birth to Gavin, I realized that I didn't need much at all.  I was happy buying clothes at Target instead of the Saks Fifth Avenue in Manhattan.  I might have chosen a different career path, if I had really known what I wanted in life.

You might read this and think it sounds silly or even simply that I am asking you to get to know yourself, but a lot of people go through life and never know the simplest things about themselves.  It will make your career so much more worthwhile, if you do what you love and love what you do.  Please do not chase money.  Money will come if you love what you do.

Your father and I both dated a few other people before we met each other.  I cannot speak for him.  For me, I feel as though I was lost before I met your father.  I was trying to make other men into the mold of what I wanted.  Those relationships never worked out.  When your father and I met.  I thought he was scary.  Scary, because I didn't need to make him into anything.  He was what I wanted.  A man who wanted to get married and wanted children.  Your father loved the idea of being a father.  He reminded me of my dad, PoPop.

In my 20s, I was trying to build my career and went to business school. I put a lot of pressure on myself to succeed.  I wasn't aways happy and was often stressed out.  It was not a good time to fall in-love, because I wasn't really in-love with where I was in life.  It was a great time to meet someone who was happy and wanted a family too.  When I met your father, I was on the path to figuring out what I really wanted in life, children.  I was doing well in my career and I was overall happy.  

All four of you are great people.  You are still very young, so it's hard to say what you want to do in life or what makes you really happy.  You still have a lot to experience and see.  I hope you will keep your mind open to different experiences and people.

Love always and forever,

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

5 Great Vegan Cookbooks

I ate vegan from 1999 to 2009 and dabble in the overall vegan life-style.  However, I started to add meat back to my diet when I was pregnant with my first child, Brian.  When he was in my belly, he refused to let me eat fruits and vegetables!  My husband, concerned for the health of our unborn child, convinced me to eat some meat.  It wasn't really that hard, because Brian was screaming for a cheeseburger when he was in my belly!
However, now as I sit here, too scared to call my doctor about the additional tests I need for the asymmetrical mass in my breast, I realized that I would feel better about myself and my health, if I returned to a vegan diet.
Thankfully, I still have all of my vegan cookbooks.  Some are decades or two decades old and some I've bought recently.  Even as a meat-eater, I bought vegan cookbooks, because I believe, it is where you can find the most creative, heathy and yummy vegetable dishes.

Here is a list of my favorite cook books and why:
  1. Healthy Happy Vegan Kitchen, by Kathy Patalsky
  2. Vegan 101, by Engel & Bell
  3. More Quick-Fix Vegan by Robin Robertson
  4. But I Could Never Go Vegan!, by Kristy Turner
  5. Candle 79, by Pierson, Ramos, & Pineda
Healthy Happy Vegan Kitchen is my favorite, or at least the book I turn to most often to make dinner for our family.  The recipes are incredibly yummy, which is probably a given since it is my number one choice.  However, I also really like the guides that are included to help you make your kitchen vegan-friendly.  There are types for staples that you should have in your kitchen as well as way to turn meat-based meals into vegan meals.  Make sure you try out the Ultra Creamy Cashew Veggie Pot Pie!
Vegan 101 is my number two book.  It has basic recipes that make going vegan very easy.  This is another cookbook that I turn to regularly to make easy and delicious vegan meals.  However, call me lazy, but I'm not about to make Quick and Easy Red Bean Veggie Burgers when I can buy something similar at the store.  However, its German Chocolate Hand Pies is something that my kids beg me to make all the time!
More Quick-Fix Vegan: Simple, Delicious Recipes in 30 Minutes or Less  You need to try Bahn-Mi Noodles.  Yummy!  I made the noodles during the week when I'm often tight on time.  Not only was it easy to make, but my four children loved it as well.   I really liked that I had most of the ingredients in the house already, which is true of most of the meals in the book.  Robin Robertson has a bunch of cookbooks, so if you love this one be sure to check the other ones out too!
But I Could Never Go Vegan! For me, this book highlights all the wonderful things you can do with nuts.  My two favorite recipes in this book are the Bacon Mac n Cheese with Pecan Parmesan and the Carrot Cashew Pate.  I found them to be rather unique recipes that I did not find elsewhere.  Again, this is more of an everyday type of cookbook, but then again, the two recipes I mentioned above will surely impress meat-eaters and vegans alike!
Candle 79 I used to live in New York City.  In fact, I lived there for 11 years and was vegan for all by the last year I lived there.  I miss the city, but at least I can replicate some of the delicious food I ordered at Candle 79.  These cookbook brings back so many wonderful memories...ah...  The recipes in this book are elegant and time consuming to make.  However, I do bust it out often to look at the pictures and dream about making all the recipes.  My favorite special dishes to make are the Ginger-Seitan Dumplins and he Chocolate Mousse Toweres.
There are hundreds and hundreds of vegan cookbooks.  You really can't go wrong with any of them.  My favorites might not be your favorites.  I'd love to hear about your favorite cookbooks and why you love them so much!

Veganism: Day 1

Good morning!
It's Wednesday, February 1st.  It's going to be a good least I'm going to do everything I can to make it a good day.  How?  I'm going to stay positive and do what I can do to be healthy.

So, what lesson to I want to teach my children today?  That when things might seen a bit crazy, slightly depressing, that you can choose to be in control.  You can choose to smile.  And, of course, the obvious one, you can choose to love.

Today, I will eat vegan.  Whether it is determined that I have cancer or not, eating vegan is the healthiest way to eat.  I will be doing something positive for my body, the environment and the cows!

For breakfast, I'm going to have oatmeal.  For lunch, I am going to eat a salad.  Dinner seems so far away; however, I plan on making spaghetti with mushrooms and carrots in a tomato sauce.  My husband and kids will like the dinner and that will make me happy!

Anna, Liam, Owen and Gavin, you might be upset that I am going vegan.  You might not know (yet) why I am going vegan.  However, at the heart of the matter is that I love being your mother.  You four are the best gift your father and I ever got.  Not a day goes by when I do not feel so grateful that you four love me as much as I love you.

Here's to our new journey!