Not So Random Thoughts and Recipes

Saturday, May 21, 2011

I Like Vegetables . . .

I Just underwent some serious oral surgery that left me unable to eat solid food. Not a problem for me though, I whipped up smoothies and green drinks.  I also made a killer batch of cauliflower soup. Recipe to follow when I'm feeling better . . .

fluids . . .

 For snacks a couple days after surgery I added bananas . . . with soy whipped cream of course!

My emergency food . . .


Photograph, 'Totally Tots' blog

Sugar is Poison  says UCSF Obesity Expert.   

Vegsource a resource that I often go to for cutting-edge information on health and the vegan lifestyle, posted a lengthy piece about Robert Lustig, MD, a UC San Francisco pediatric neuroendocrinologist, and his studies regarding sugar and health. In this post Vegsource reports;

"More Americans are overweight today than 30 years ago. Kids are still getting heavier, compared with prior generations of kids. That leads some UCSF researchers to warn that heart disease and other health problems will grow in future decades. 

But behaviors that some might refer to as gluttony and sloth are merely consequences of the true cause of the epidemic, Lustig says. Food was just as abundant before obesity’s ascendance. The problem is the increase in sugar consumption. Sugar both drives fat storage and makes the brain think it is hungry, setting up a “vicious cycle,” according to Lustig.

More specifically, it is fructose that is harmful, according to Lustig. Fructose is a component of the two most popular sugars. One is table sugar — sucrose. The other is high-fructose corn syrup. High-fructose corn syrup has become ubiquitous in soft drinks and many other processed foods."

Something I found particularly interesting was; 
"Lustig claims that fructose is just as bad as alcohol in causing fat storage in the liver — and in causing fatty liver disease."

And more surprising information about how sugar damages the liver;  
"Each sucrose molecule consists of one molecule of fructose joined to one molecule of glucose. In the gut, these two components are quickly split apart. High-fructose corn syrup is a less expensive mixture of glucose and fructose. There is no point in belaboring the difference, Lustig says. “High-fructose corn syrup and sucrose are exactly the same,” Lustig says. “They’re equally bad. They’re both poison in high doses.”

Over the past century, Americans have increased their fructose consumption from 15 grams per day to 75 grams per day or more, Lustig explains. The trend accelerated beginning about three decades ago, when cheap, easy-to-transport high-fructose corn syrup became widely available.

Much of processed food labeled “reduced fat” instead has sugar added to make it more palatable, Lustig says. But when it comes to harmful health effects, sugar is worse than fat, he claims. 

Consumption of either results in elevated levels of artery-clogging fats being made by the liver and deposited in the bloodstream. But fructose causes even further damage to the liver and to structural proteins of the body while fomenting excessive caloric consumption, Lustig says."

Click here to read 'Dietary Sugar and Mental Illness: A Surprising Link'

 From the blog 'Totally Tots':

Some important facts about sugar consumption:
  1. Today’s Consumption: Today, an average American consumes 2-3 pounds of sugar each week. While at the end of the 19th century (1887-1890), the average American consumed only 5 lbs. per year.
  2. A Continual Rise: Over the last 20 years, sugar consumption in the U.S. has increased from 26 pounds to 135 lbs. of sugar per person per year.
  3. Hidden Culprits: Sugar consumption includes highly refined sugars that are incorporated into many of the foods we eat (bread, peanut butter, condiments, sauces, etc.). Some of these are better known as sucrose (table sugar), dextrose (corn sugar), and high-fructose corn syrup.
  4. 4 Classes: 4 classes of simple sugars (Sucrose, fructose, honey, and malts) are deemed “harmful” to optimal health when long-term consumption is over 15% of carbohydrate calories ingested. Hint…complex carbohydrates (veggies, beans, legumes, whole grains) are the way to keep this number below 15%.
  5. Health Issues: Simple sugars have been documented to contribute to and/or aggravate health problems, including: asthma, mood disorders, mental illness, nervous disorders, diabetes, heart disease, gallstones, hypertension, and arthritis.
  6. Insulin Impacts: Sugar raises insulin levels, inhibiting the release of growth hormones which depresses the immune system. Further, too much insulin promotes the storage of fat, so that when you eat foods that are high in sugar, you’re enabling rapid weight gain and elevated triglyceride levels, both of which have been linked to cardiovascular disease.
  7. Degenerative Disease: Sugar has no real nutritional value (minerals, vitamins and fiber) and as a result, has a deteriorating effect on the endocrine system, causing sugar consumption to be one of the 3 major causes of degenerative disease.
  8. Cancer Culprits: Turns out that cancer’s preferred fuel is none other than glucose. Controlling one’s blood-glucose levels through diet, exercise, supplements, meditation and prescription drugs – when necessary – can be extremely important to a cancer treatment program.

How has cutting sugar out of your diet affected your life?

Friday, May 20, 2011

Strawberries and Teenagers . . .

Sweet  . . .

Vegan Strawberry Shortcake

We recently celebrated my son's 15th birthday. I intended to make him Strawberry Shortcake but wasn't able to find a recipe that sounded fabulous. I made him Strawberry Cupcakes with Vegan Cream Cheese Frosting instead.


whipping up the frosting in the car at the park after our bike ride

Tony DeJesus, Genesis 129 Project creator has been a vegan for a year and this Project is his mission.

"The Genesis 1:29 Project is a mission that we took upon to live up to the standard of Genesis 1:29 and to see if it truly is a benefit for us.  This will be a movement to take what God had started in the Garden of Eden and bring it to our present day.  In a way the purpose for this blog is to be a delicious journey into a vegan diet and do our best to bring you information in an exciting and spiritual way that will take the fear out of being a vegan.  By the way, has anyone read Genesis 1:29 yet?"

Genesis 1:29 reads: 


And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat.

Regardless of your religious beliefs, Tony's recipes and beautiful videos are a real treat. 

If I have time and fresh strawberries this weekend, I'll make Tony's Strawberry Shortcake recipe for my son.


California strawberries are currently sprayed with Methyl Iodide, a known carcinogen and neurotoxin. Please go to the 'Letters' section on this blog for a letter written to Lisa Jackson, EPA Administrator requesting she reinstate a ban on methyl iodide in California. Feel free to copy the letter and customize it. Written letters have the most impact.

Thank you!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Perfection Perceived . . .

Provocative photo with a bare bottom

This video was NOT produced as a Photoshop tutorial . . .
It's fairly cruel actually. I'm posting this video to abruptly illustrate our cultural obsession with perfection. I heard a famous professional photographer state that 99.9% of published images were Photo-shopped.

What is perfection anyway? 
Everyone seems to have a different perception of perfect. I remember being mercilessly teased as an adolecent about my full lips . . . even by family members. I recall looking in the mirror, pursing my lips together to see what I'd look like with thinner, normal lips. And then I began to see models with full lips in every fashion magazine on the racks. 

People used to make a point about how young I looked (a curse if you're under 25) and about my coltish body type (small breasts). 
I remember seeing a Playboy magazine layout of a girl whose body and looks were shockingly close to mine. She was my age (20) and looked 11. She wasn't beautiful, she was attractive but I thought no more than me. My boyfriend had her photo prominently displayed on our garage wall.

I do not own or use Photoshop but I have considered purchasing the software to further 'enhance' my photographs. 
My goal has been to develop my photography skills to a higher level and then decide if Photoshop is a tool I want to use.

I like truth. I like knowing that what I'm seeing is real, not made up. 
I'm sure that even back in the 70's the photos I was comparing myself to as a teenager and young adult were enhanced to some degree. I don't want to distort history. I don't want my daughter-in-law to be or my grandchildren to wonder if images of me are real. I'm considering putting a disclaimer into my photo albums saying something like: 

"These photos are only enhanced to remove shadows or at times, to brighten colors. The images are untouched, real, and true."

The only people on the planet who think I'm perfect just the way I am are my husband and my mom and that's just fine with me.
One of the greatest gifts my mom gave me was a simple, innocent question when I was about 19 years-old. She asked me, "If you could be like anyone, who would you want to be?" My mom loved movies and was amazing at identifying movie stars so my mind naturally went to actresses of the time. I answered, "Kathryn Ross, I think she's a natural beauty." My mom agreed. Then I asked my mom who she would chose to be like and she said, "I'd want to be like you . . . ",  I was stunned. After a few speechless moments I asked her, "why me?" I don't recall my mom's exact response but the gist of what she told me was that she liked who I was inside and out. She didn't say that I was "perfect" but the message was clear that she liked who I had become. If you knew my mom you would know that she doesn't say things like this casually. I was touched beyond words. I think I just told her, "thank you".

Not long after this conversation I was in a motorcycle accident.
A compound fracture left one of my legs 2" shorter and terribly disfigured with the very real possibility of amputation. I was released from the hospital in a cast up to my hip with about a 5" x 6" opening at the ankle. Several times a day my mom changed the dressing and resaturated the deep wound left in my leg with a liquid debridement to help restore vital health to the fragments of tissue that remained. Bone infection loomed large as a large portion of bone was still exposed. I was confined to bed with my casted leg elevated. Throughout this four month process I never once looked at the wound on my leg. When the cast was removed my mom was helping me shave my leg and that is when I first saw my disfigurement. It was far worse than I'd imagined. 

Beyond the physical rehabilitation, I had to mentally rehabilitate. 
At 19 years-old I was pretty focused on my looks and desirability. I was fearful that my new boyfriend would leave me now that I was defective. "It's the inside that really counts" is what my mom used to tell me and my sisters. Was it really? I did notice that no matter how attractive people were, if they were self-focused or weren't contributing to life in some way I had little desire to spend time in their presence.

Taking my health into my own hands I embarked on a rigorous weight training regimen. 
My focus was to strengthen my body and increase my weight which had dropped to 93 pounds on my 5'5" frame. I read books about people who overcame great physical and mental trauma. 'The Other Side of the Mountain' is one of the books (from my mom) that had me realize I was blessed to be alive and able to walk. Within a year I was not only walking but also running, bike riding and and water skiing. 

Through sheer determination, lots of love from family and devoted friends, and good nutrition, I healed. 
Because of the accident I was accelerated into a lifetime journey of health and wellness that I wasn't destined to follow before I was injured. Maybe not ever. 

I am grateful that I have the ability to walk and hike, and be as active as I choose.  
To keep my body in healthful condition I honor it with health-giving foods. I'm not perfect, but I am committed. If I falter and eat poorly, I regroup and recommit, sometimes I ask for support. I don't have a need to be Photoshop perfect, just perfectly committed to vibrant health. There is not a week that goes by that I don't learn something new about wellness and my body. 

I love this journey and I enjoy sharing information that I learn along the way.

Live and learn . . .