Category Archives: Plant Based Nutrition

#SaveYourMarbles Day 5: Colon Blow Shake (Your Welcome)

Colon Blow Shake

  • Servings: 1
  • Time: 5 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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Okay, I am disclosing the recipe for my magical smoothies. I enjoy these bad boys most days of the week because 1. I am usually on the “run” moving from patient to patient, and/or shuffling my kids around to and from activities (activities I am usually involved in), 2. I need something to provide the most nutrition possible in a form that is acceptable to consume when in my office, and 3. I cannot afford to skip meals, or I will hit a wall and pass out. If you have trouble with bowel movements and don’t go after a day or 2 of these, then you need to seek out the help of a professional.


Ingredients

  • 1 cup of unsweetened plant based milk such as unsweetened almond milk.
  • 1 cup of water
  • 2 tbsp or 14 grams of ground flax seeds
  • 20 grams worth of plant based protein powder such as Garden of Like Sport (my favorite)
  • 2.5-5gm of amla powder (2-3 times per week)
  • 1 serving of any variety of frozen berries
  • 1 serving of other frozen fruit (e.g. mango, pineapple, cherries or banana)

Directions


Place all ingredients in a decent grade blender (I am partial to my Blentec) and blend together on the smoothie setting. Enjoy!

#SaveYourMarbles Day 3: Bacon and Butter Won’t Save You. 

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My “model” holds a 5 pound model of fat. 

Now before you get all upset with me, let me explain. Being a dietitian for almost 20 years and on this planet for close to 42, I have seen diet fads come and go. I have seen research come out and then get debunked. So before you go and jump on the bacon and butter band wagon take a listen.

Bacon and butter won’t #saveyourmarbles. You know it, I know it, heck, we all know it. Deep, deep, deep down in the recesses of your mind, it is in there.  You don’t want it to be true, but you know it. Stop kidding yourself.  Bacon and butter won’t save you.

Now before you go and tune me out, I will say, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. If having 2 slices of bacon crumbled into your salad gets you to have 5 or more servings of low calorie, micronutrient dense vegetables, then go for it! With that said, having 5-6 slices of bacon and eggs swimming in butter is not going to #saveyourmarbles, like ever. Become one with the plants and leave the bacon and butter to where it belongs, as a condiment or gone altogether from the meal. Let the gasps begin!

What I do to #SaveMyMarbles: Day 1

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So, as some of you following my journey already know, I first noticed my mother had the beginning of her cognitive decline a bit over 8 years ago. From that day forward, I have immersed myself in learning how to prevent it, if possible, so it doesn’t happen to me. Now, while I fear forgetting, what I fear most is my dear family and close friends having to watch me decline and ultimately care for me. A fear that keeps me up and disturbs my slumber.

As a dietitian I knew what I had to do, but the wife, mother, daughter, sister, coach, Girl Scout leader (and every other hat I wear) in me needed validation in the way of research. I know, it can still happen, but I am going down fighting.

So here, day 1, I begin describing how I am fighting and waging my personal battle. This is how I fight. Here is what is most important to me: Physical activity.  Surprised I didn’t say my diet? While that is a part of the puzzle I will discuss, staying active is the core of my plan.

I wear my Apple Watch and track my steps, calories burned, and the hours standing every day. I run on my treadmill most days of the week. I ride my fit desk stationary bike when watching webinars and while on conference calls. FYI I hate running. I mean I loathe it. Despise it. What I do love is how I feel about 20 minutes in and when I get off 30-45 minutes later. That natural lift in my mood and change in my attitude.  To quote the character “Elle Woods” from the Legally Blonde (yes, I am quoting this movie, and I do it all the time in my office):

“Exercise gives you endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t.”

I choose to be fit. I choose to be happy. I choose to fight to #savemymarbles. At least if it happens to me, I know it won’t be my fault.

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Where the running magic occurs: just me, my Brooks sneakers, my ancient iPad Generation 2 (that still works) and my NordicTrack treadmill.

 

Save Your Marbles

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The phrase “Lost My Marbles” and the many variations of it has become the way we allude to “losing it” or “going crazy” for quite some time.  The origination of this phrase is less clear, but may have begun as far back as the late 19th century with “marbles” being things such as personal property, a man’s testicles (yes, you read that right), common sense, and lastly a person’s “wits”.  Whenever this phrase began, it is clear that to “save your marbles” you are beginning to protect that which is important to you.  I rather like the idea of “Save Your Marbles” being the act of protecting your brain as much as you possibly can, with acts that are completely within your control. When you work to save your marbles, you also may also save things such as your:

  • Heart
  • Veins
  • Looks
  • Sex Life
  • Emotional/Social relationships
  • Sleep quality
  • Sanity

June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month.  Here at Nutrition Map and His and Her Crunchy, we will be spending all month long sharing ways to protect your marbles.  What are you doing to “Save Your Marbles”?  Remember to add #saveyourmarbles.  

The Day Everything Changed

 

Xander taking care of his crying baby. October 11, 2008

I didn’t think that there was actual proof of the pivotal turning point.  Thanks to Facebook and the memories of the day to look back on, I have reminder of when it happened.  When my eyes opened.  “Xander taking care of his crying baby.” October 11, 2008.  The day everything changed for me. See, this is the day I came to the realization that my mother may have the beginnings of cognitive decline, of some sort.

The evening started out simply.  My husband and I were going out for a quiet dinner. An early celebration of our wedding anniversary and my mom would watch my 2 children. My daughter was only about 3 months old and still breastfeeding pretty often.  I left 4 bottles of pumped breastmilk with 2 oz in each bottle for the 2 hours we may be out.  Way more than she would eat in such a short window, but I felt it better for my mom to have more milk than less. We also left prepared food for our son Xander, about 2 1/2 years old at the time. My theory was grandparents should be able to enjoy their grandchildren and not have to cook, especially with 2 grandchildren so young.

We enjoyed a wonderful quiet dinner together celebrating 7 years of marriage. Nothing prepared me for what happened next.  We walked in the door to my daughter’s blood curdling screams. Never before had I heard her cry in this manner, and never since. We were darn lucky to have 2 kids that were, for the most part, happy all the time.  Hungry? Feed them and they are fine. Soiled diaper and/or undergarments? Quick change and they were good to go (you get the idea).  This was bizarre.  My son commented “Mima, no more snacks. Real food please.”  Mom hadn’t fed him? Nope.  The food and the 4 bottles, still in the fridge where I left everything. I immediately put her to the breast which immediately settled her down while my husband fed our son.

I asked mom what happened and she had no idea what was wrong. “I fed her, bathed her, changed her, played with her. She is just too attached to you!”  When my daughter finished nursing, my husband took both kids upstairs to the guest room for bed while I went to investigate for myself.  There they were. All 4 bottles I had pumped. Now you may be thinking, could I have been off with the count? When you are breastfeeding and pumping, usually, you remember exactly how much you worked your butt off to produce. When I brought this to mom’s attention, she remarked “you must have brought more than 4.” Being the ridiculously logical of the bunch I asked “then where is the empty bottle?” She got up and said “I must have thrown it out by accident with all the crying!” She promptly took out the garbage in a hurry and left me there dumbfounded.

Mom often complained to various friends and family members that I had only used her as a babysitter and didn’t just come to just visit.  This despite the fact that I lived over an hour away and had paid sitters and friends that I trusted more.  A serious coping mechanism I guess.  My husband and I made a difficult decision that infamous night. From that pivotal night on October 11, 2008, my mother did not watch my children, alone, ever again.  That was the day my serious health journey began to defend myself to what could happen to me.  That was the day I began the transition to becoming plant based.  From that day, I waited for the inevitable, whatever it may be, and how I would handle it.  That is the day I began to grieve the loss of my mother, real or perceived. A process that will probably never end, even after she is completely gone.

 

Tex-Mex Soup Bowl

Tex-Mex Soup Bowl

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Time: 30 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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This is an easy, quick dish that can be used as a hearty soup for 2 people or a dip serving about 4 people. I usually make a vegan cheese sauce from another website (Brand New Vegan). When I make this cheese sauce, I freeze about half of it to use at a later date. Feel free to use 2 oz of shredded cheese instead.


Ingredients

  • 3 oz sliced kale (stripped from the stalk, then sliced)
  • 1 cup black beans (if using canned, make sure to rinse)
  • 4-6 oz diced tomato (any variety)
  • 3 oz chopped scallions
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 2/3 cup frozen sweet yellow corn
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth or reconstituted bouillon
  • 1 cup vegan cheese sauce of choice* (optional)

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients in a 2 1/2 quart pot.
  2. Heat on high, covered, until boiling, (about 5 minutes).
  3. Uncover, decrease heat to medium and continue to heat for 10-15 minutes until broth has reduced.
  4. Serve alone, with guacamole, chipotle “cream” or any other accompaniment.

For the Love of Pesto!

Walnut Pesto

  • Time: 15 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
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It has been too long since I posted, so I thought with summer gardens and farmer's markets in full swing I would take advantage. Basil growing all over the place? Pesto time!


  • For those with walnut allergies, feel free to substitute with parmesan cheese.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups basil leaves, rinsed and allowed to dry (if you have a salad spinner, use it)
  • 1 tbsp garlic (about 4-6 cloves) or more (I use closer to 1/4 cup because, well, I love garlic)
  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • 1 cup shallots
  • 1 tbsp Italian Seasoning
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1-2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Directions

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender.
  2. Blend until finely chopped.
  3. Drizzle in olive oil until combined.
  4. Marinate for at least 2 hours before using.

Hurry Up & Wait


We live in an extremely fast paced world.  Many of us go nonstop from the moment our feet hit the ground, not even taking a break to eat. We eat in the car, at a desk or event standing, shoveling it all in.  Slowing down during meal times is imperative to moving forward on your journey towards optimal health.  I present to you one of my favorite and most inexpensive ways to slow down when eating: chopsticks. Using chopsticks at meal times really forces me to slow down, because there is just so much I can pick up with them.  Although I have really improved my skills using them throughout the years, it always works to get me to slow down.  One rule though: the plate stays on the table or at least away from your mouth.  No “shoveling” the food in.  How do you slow down?

 

Thai Coconut Curry with Zucchini Noodles

Thai Coconut Curry with Zucchini Noodles

  • Servings: 1
  • Time: 30 mins
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

When I buy zucchinis, I buy 4-5 at a time and use my “spiralizer” to make them into noodles. I usually use several cups immediately and pack the remainder into freezer safe containers, about 2-3 cups each. This recipe uses 1 container of my frozen zucchini spaghetti combined with whole wheat fettuccini. Serves 2. This recipe can totally be multiplied to make more servings.




Ingredients

  • 2 oz dry whole wheat fettuccini noodles
  • 3 cups of spiraled zucchini
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots
  • 2 oz shallots, chopped
  • 3 oz sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup white beans
  • 1 tbsp red curry paste
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk
  • 1 ounce chopped scallions (optional)
  • Prepared peanut sauce (optional)

Directions


1. Cook pasta according to manufacturer’s directions. If your zucchini is frozen like mine, you can use the boiling water to thaw quickly before putting in the pasta.
2. In another pot (4 quart minimum) or large sauté pan, combine the water, carrots, shallots, mushrooms, and beans. Heat on medium for 10-15 minutes until vegetables have soften.
3. Toss in the curry paste and coconut milk stirring until combined and heat for another 5 minutes.
Toss in pasta and serve immediately topped with scallions and peanut sauce (if using).

War Is Over (If You Want It) 

 First I will say the title of this post is so not what you may think it is about. Stay with me until the end and you will see where I am going with it. 

So much has happened since my mother was diagnosed almost 15 months ago with Alzheimer’s disease. Another year of firsts, too many to count. But so far this has been the year: 

My mother didn’t recognize me, like at all. Total blank. She looked at me with the pensive look like “this young lady looks so sweet and kind waving at me from across the room” kind of look. Luckily she came back to me when I called out “Mima.” 

My mother forgot my birthday.  Sounds so totally selfish on my part, but a necessary bump in the road I was meant to experience and handle. 

Today, my mother forgot my kids entirely. She actually jumped back in horror when my 7 year  old daughter ran to her screaming “Abuela Happy Birthday!”  Thank goodness my daughter is so resilient and happy. Let her brightness shine on. 

Today I took mom out to celebrate another year on this planet. Another year of changes in our relationship. Another year I will survive, because she needs me to. Another year I will treasure the art and gift of remembering. 

After dinner we crossed the street and went for dessert at Strawberry Fields in Morristown. For so long I felt like a fighter in life, and now I am learning I am a survivor. “War is Over, If You Want It.” This is the year I commit to finding peace in it all.