With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, ads about love, flowers, and chocolate are everywhere.
A plant-based diet is also the most loving for the soil, the water, the forests, and the air. Cutting forests for animal agriculture has caused desertification around the globe. Soil erosion , water pollution, and air pollution also result from the massive industrial factory farms that are the norm now.
Valentine’s Day is all about love. So if you haven’t already made this choice, I invite you this Valentine’s Day to choose the most loving diet there is: A whole-foods, plant-based diet.
Let's Keep it Simple
Modern life is complex. It’s fast. It’s changing rapidly. It’s stressful. Right?
But beneath it all, our most important choices can be simple.
1. Eat real food, the kind that grows in the ground.
2. Be kind.
Real food LOOKS like real food! It looks like fruit. Like vegetables. Like beans. Like grains, nuts and seeds.
Most of the products that come in a box or bag and have labels with long lists of ingredients aren’t “real food.” And trying to decipher the meaning of the labels is complex and confusing. It’s supposed to confuse us — so we won’t actually understand what sort of non-food, non-nutritive, and unhealthy things are inside that package.
So making the simple choice to eat real food makes life so much easier — and so much healthier. And eating real food is one of the most important ways to be kinder — to the planet, to the animals, to ourselves and our families.
Kindness sounds so simplistic! Like I’m talking to a 5 year old. Don’t I know that life is hard and we have to fight our way through the world?
Actually, I believe Mr. Rogers had it right. Sometimes life IS hard. And it’s especially when it’s hard that we need to remember to be kind — to ourselves and to others.
So as we head into what is often our busiest and most complex time of the year — the holiday season — I suggest we all try to keep it simple. Eat real food — and be kind.
Eating a vegan diet of unprocessed plant foods is probably the most loving act we can choose.
As I contemplated this topic, I kept finding more and more layers of love that we experience, and that we share, by choosing a healthy vegan diet.
But there’s so much more!
It is very easy to be depressed by all the problems in our world. There is so much suffering. So much fear. So much destruction. And it can feel so overwhelming that we just want to pull the covers over our head and try not to think about it.
We are seeing a real surge in veganism because of all these things. In fact, the number of people who self-identify as vegans has grown by 600% between 2014 and 2017! Dairy producers are beginning to produce plant milks. Meat producers are beginning to produce veggie burgers. Restaurants are increasingly offering vegan options. The shift is happening, and it is going to happen faster and faster as more of us adopt this way of life.
So in spite of the problems we still have in our world — in spite of our unbelievably bad health — things are changing. As we change our habits, we will experience greater health and improved quality of life. Our self-healing bodies can reverse the damage done by years of poor choices. And our self-healing earth can also begin to reverse the damage we have caused by our huge and damaging love-affair with meat, dairy, and eggs.
As we live a vegan lifestyle, our hearts will open again as we let ourselves feel the layers of love that ripple throughout our lives and the world.
Date Syrup is a healthy sweetener to replace sugar, agave nectar, or even maple syrup. Keep it in the fridge for up to about 10 days, or store it for longer in the freezer. You can cut this recipe in half, as well. But after you try this Holiday Nog recipe, you’ll probably want to keep some date syrup on hand so you can enjoy it frequently!
I get asked occasionally if I have a recipe for doggy treats. And good news — I do! So while you’re in the holiday mood, this is a great time to make some treats your dogs will love — and that will be good for them.
Treats should be crisp on the outside, but still a bit soft inside.
Store in a covered container for about a week, or freeze some of them for longer storage.
I wish you and your furry friends a wonderful holiday.
Enjoy your delicious and healthy treats!
Pumpkin pie — autumn - THANKSGIVING!
Getting rid of the sugar is easy too. If you have been in my classes or have my cookbook, The Barefoot Gardener in the Kitchen Cookbook, you can guess what I’m going to say. I replace the sugar, which is highly refined empty calories, with dates, which are a very nutritious whole fruit loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.
You can replace sugar with dates in almost all sweet recipes, as you’ll see throughout my cookbook.
But what about the crust? How can we replace all that fat? We certainly don’t want to ruin an otherwise healthy pie with a big gob of refined, processed fat that will not only add a huge load of empty calories. It also contributes to inflammation throughout our body, including the lining of our blood vessels, which contributes to high cholesterol and heart disease. Yikes!
There is a magical solution to the crust problem, which I learned from someone else. Now you’ll know it too, and can pass it on to others!
The solution is to add 1/2 cup of whole grain flour to the filling mixture, and the flour will sink to the bottom and make it’s own thin crust! So you don’t even have to make a crust at all! Now that’s magical, if you ask me!
You can use a gluten-free flour, such as brown rice flour (you can make your own by grinding brown rice in your VitaMix if you have one.) Or use whole wheat flour or other whole grain flour. Just don’t use white flour, because it’s also highly refined and is mostly empty calories.
When you cut the pie, you’ll see that each slice comes out nicely because the flour bakes a thin, skin-like crust. Amazing!
With Thanksgiving just around the corner, it's great to know how to make a healthy, vegan pumpkin pie. Your body, and the chickens, will thank you! (And so will your dinner guests, because it tastes great!)
Follow the directions in the recipe below, and you’ll see how easy it is!
Vegan Pumpkin Pie
This amazing pie makes its own “crust” so you can avoid the highest fat part of any pie. Plus, it is so simple and delicious that you’ll want to enjoy it frequently, not just for the holidays.
You can use winter squash, sweet potatoes, or yams in place of the pumpkin. Do NOT substitute other egg substitutes, such as flax seeds. If you do, the pie will not thicken properly. (Guess how I know that!)
Dreamy Creamy Topping
This is perfect in place of whipped cream.
You can leave out the cashews and it still makes a great topping, with less fat. The nuts just make it taste richer.
This was a fun trip for the kids because we had the run of the bus to play in. We left the seats in the bus and had 3 beds on top of the seats. Boxes were stuck into the nooks and crannies under the seats. But this left little tunnels that made for great adventure under the seats.
I’m sure the trip was more grueling for my parents! So they were relieved to have finally arrived in Alaska.
No — it was actually my mother’s idea. One evening while my dad was at work, she saw a program on TV showcasing the beauty of the Matanuska Valley. When my dad got home, she told him, “Let’s move to Alaska! I don’t want my kids to grow up not seeing snow.” Two months later, we were on the road. And about 6 weeks later, we rolled into Palmer, looking for watermelon!
She had the amazing foresight to include an apartment “for the gardener” in the house. As it turns out, I moved into the apartment in 1995 when she began having symptoms of Parkinson’s Disease. So I was able to care for her until she moved into the next world in 2011.
But there is a problem with rhubarb. It’s so sour you can’t really eat it without sweetening it. I used to make rhubarb pie,rhubarb jam, rhubarb sauce, and rhubarb crisp — all with TONS of sugar to make it tangy rather than downright sour.
However, as I’ve improved my diet over the years, I’ve become more and more reluctant to consume the empty calories of processed sugar.
But hold on — it's not hopeless! We just need to use a naturally sweet, whole-food sweetener to avoid the empty calories of processed sugar.
So once again — dates to the rescue!
It has taken a bit of experimenting, but I’ve come up with some pretty tasty recipes. The easiest of all is rhubarb “jam” with only 2 ingredients, or 3 if you count the water.
(Yield: about 2 cups)
I’ll include some other recipes for rhubarb in my upcoming cookbook, which we hope to have out in the fall.
Let me know in the comments below if you’ve discovered some other healthy ways to eat rhubarb — without using processed sugar. (Click the "Comments" text below to leave a comment.)
Delisa is a plant-based nutrition and cooking instructor in Alaska. She believes that we are designed to be slim and healthy.