Sunday, September 15, 2013

Green Mac 'N "Cheese"

As a way of building a little excitement for the final week of the “Keep it Simple” giveaway, here is just one of the delicious recipes from the book!

This simple meal takes less than 20 minutes to throw together and I promise after you taste this nutritious dish, it’ll become one of your regulars. Don’t believe me? Even my persnickety sister, who is something of a connoisseur of mac and cheese loved the dish… Just more evidence that home-style comfort food doesn’t have to destroy your health!

To create that cheese-y goodness, this dish calls on an old school vegan staple, nutritional yeast. While many promote the yeast for being a good source of B-12, most studies show that it is not an active source, and hence should not be depended on for this essential vitamin. However, the yeast is still worlds healthier than any of the heavily processed faux-cheeses that have recently saturated the market. For some, this may be a new ingredient but it is relatively inexpensive and available at most health food stores and many local grocers as well. Make sure what you get is actually nutritional yeast and not brewers yeast, and if possible look for a non-fortified version, as fortified vitamins and minerals are really just isolates added to foods.

Makes 2-3 servings

1 box of quinoa, rice, or whole-wheat pasta (elbows are traditionally used)
1 cup raw cashews
1 small-medium red onion
¼ cup Nutritional Yeast
2-3 cups spinach
1 tsp onion powder
water or veggie broth as needed

Cook the pasta or grain of your choice according to the package.

While the pasta is cooking, add the cashews into a blender or food processor.

Process until the cashews are like a flour. Then add 1 cup water, nutritional yeast, and onion powder and blend again until creamy.

Now roughly chop the onion and place on a skillet with just a little bit of water to sauté the onions.

Once the onions start to caramelize, add the spinach and cook for another minute or until the spinach is wilted and begins to cook down.

Add the onion and spinach to the blended mixture and blend/process again until bright green and creamy. Add more water if the sauce becomes too thick.

Once the pasta is al dente, pour the Green “Cheese” over the hot noodles and serve.

This is just one of the great recipes. Trust me, you don't want to miss out on this book, so make sure you go sign up for the giveaway!

As always the information presented in this blog is for educational purposes only. It should not be considered as specific medical, nutritional, lifestyle, or other health-related advice. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Keep it Simple, Keep it Whole; Book Review and Giveaway

Alona Pulde, M.D. and Matthew Lederman, M.D., Keep it Simple, Keep it Whole: Your Guide to Optimum Health Exsalus California: Health & Wellness Center; 2010.

Dr. Alona Pulde and her husband Dr. Matthew Lederman, two of the stars from the documentary Forks Over Knives and recent partners of Whole Food Market's Global Medical Executives of Health and Wellness, wrote a phenomenal work simply titled Keep it Simple, Keep it Whole. I’ve been reading a lot of nutrition and sports physiology books lately; however, this little book blew me away both for it’s breadth of knowledge as well as for the elegance and simplicity of it’s message.

Their title pretty much expresses the main theme of the book. While other works make strong cases for a similar diet (oil-free whole food, plant based) few of them can achieve what Dr.’s Pulde and Lederman have done. In essence they’ve combined a powerful argument for a strict plant-based messaged with a practical, public health-style approach. The result is a mixture between the latest nutritional research and common sense application.

The work operates under the notion that health is not a definitive one-size fits all. Rather, it explains that health is a scale, and every step towards the healthier end of that scale is a success. The authors have also created a simple grading rubric classifying various food types. Unlike, Dr. Joel Furhman's ANDI System, this system uses food categories rather than individual foods making it simpler to understand and apply. Not surprisingly, meat and dairy received an F grade, and most processed foods received a D. As such, most Americans are consistently failing when it comes to eating for health.

At the other end of the scale are whole plant foods such as grains and pseudograins like rice and quinoa, root vegetables and dark leafy greens, all receiving an A+. Richer foods like avocados, nuts, seeds as well as slightly processed whole foods like whole grain breads receive a slightly lower grade (A). Foods like soy milk, white rice and no-oil dressings receive an A- indicating that those foods should be consumed in lower quantities. Not surprisingly, according to the authors, the goal is to try and live within the A range of foods. However, this is where the authors demonstrate their flexibility. Rather than telling their readers that they should only consume these foods, they instead tell the readers to aim to have an average of A foods, not to only have A foods. So if someone is really craving a few cookies (which earn, at best, a C-) they should then strive to balance that out by eating healthier A+ foods for much of the rest of the day. They say the more often one is able to do this, the further up on the health scale one will be.

The book also recognize that not everyone is ready to live exclusively off A foods. For those people who are looking at making changes incrementally, they suggest simply moving up the food scale as much and as often as possible.

They also stress not to eat exclusively from the A+ foods. While dark greens may be the healthiest; starches, legumes, and more rich foods are needed to ensure that one is getting enough calories. Otherwise, a person is in risk of both starving themselves and depriving themselves of having satisfying meals, which will lead to a burnout of will and typically results in bingeing on the least healthy foods. As such, Dr. Pulde and Dr. Lederman implore their readers to eat a wide variety of plant foods – not just salads. They've also created a simple three-course guide to healthy eating. The first course should be a large serving of raw or cooked vegetables. They call this the “multivitamin” course and stress that this should be the largest of the three courses for people looking to loose weight. The second course is the filling course. This course should be “heavier” foods like lentils or potatoes. The final course is the smallest and also optional. Think of this portion more like a side, as it will consists of slightly more processed foods such as oil-free chips and salsa, dairy-free pizza, or whole grain breads. As one becomes more confident in their progress on the health continuum scale, these three dishes can be simplified into one large course.

Consisting of fourteen relatively short and easy to read chapters, Dr. Pulde and Dr. Lederman cover everything you need to know before starting your journey towards health. From in-depth discussions about why supplementing DHA can be dangerous to the ever-persistent concerns surrounding protein. And best of all, they've included footnotes citing the studies that have helped influence their program so more reading is easily obtained on each topic.

The book also has a small section of recipes. Here they include all types of healthful foods from smoothies to Mac N “Cheese” to chocolate cupcakes with frosting. Most of the recipes are simple and they use easy-to-find ingredients.

Overall, I cannot recommend this book enough, especially for those of you who are plant-curious. That said, the book is not dumbed down, and offers something for even those with a more advanced understanding of nutrition. However because it’s from a very small publishing, it won’t be easily found in too many bookstores. So check out  Transition to HealthBarnes and Noble’s website, or enter below for your chance to win one of three copies that BYOL is giving away and begin your journey towards improved health. One thing is certain, by the time you are done reading this work, you’ll be wishing that Dr Pulde and Dr. Lederman were your primary care givers!


Dr. Pulde and Dr. Lederman have agreed to give away three copies of Keep it Simple, Keep it Whole. Here are the rules. First, the winner needs to live in the United States (sorry international readers, no disrespect). The contest will end on September 20th at midnight. To enter, you must be a subscribed reader to BYOL. To increase your chances of winning leave a comment on this post or/and "like" BYOL on facebook.

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As always the information presented in this blog is for educational purposes only. It should not be considered as specific medical, nutritional, lifestyle, or other health-related advice.