Friday, April 17, 2015

the Vegan Experiment - the Forks Over Knives trial

Really, it wasn't so much an exact Forks Over Knives diet but a vegan trial.  I watched Forks Over Knives on Netflix last fall.  I watch a lot of these food related documentaries.  Some are better than others for various reasons.  I find some are too preachy or too factually skewed.  This one was different.  It wasn't trying to turn you off by showing baby pigs being castrated by hand or filming visits to an abattoir.  It was independent studies showing how animal products are factually tied to cancer and heart disease as well as other vascular issues.  Of particular interest was the startling proof was the link between L-Casein, found in dairy, and cancer.   In any case, you have to watch it to believe and I convinced my mid-western american brother in law just to watch it.  Just watch it.  I am actually surprised he did even watch it.  I was speaking to my sister on the weekend and he was shouting in the background, I watched it!  I'm practically a vegetarian now.

The actual lifestyle is a bit extreme for me.  It requires you cut out all fats, including Olive oil.  It's a Whole Foods Plant Based diet.  Eat food as close to their original state as possible.  I understand why and the proof.  That our bodies are designed, primaly to need the calories to survive. The dense calories found in high fat foods, fool our bodies into thinking we're still hungry.  The recipes require you sauté in a dry pan or with broth.  No Olive oil.  Anyhoo, since heart disease nor weight gain wasn't my primary concern, I decided to try just Vegan.  Why?  Because I found the documentary compelling as well, I decided that there are various things in our life we can't completely control, our genes, pollution, drunk drivers, ... this, this I can control.

As opposed to popular belief, you cannot be nutrionally deprived by a vegan diet as long as you eat balanced i.e. nothing but one type of food.  You also do not need to combine on a single plate to get the full protein profile.

For the month of January, I gave up all animal products.  But unlike a vegan diet or the Forks Over Knives and associated Engine 2 recipes, I don't really care for the labour and effort behind making 'fake' food.  i.e. using Nutritional Yeast to simulate cheese or Blending raw Cashews to simulate cream or bechemel.  I just ate a lot of vegetables, grains and legumes.  It was fairly easy except for my family.... namely my mom who lives for food.  If you follow regularly, you'll know she makes her own soy sauce and chill paste.  She's hard core.  We went over for lunch and she had made some dumplings but she'd used egg to seal them so I didn't want to eat it.  She flipped out and told me to 'grow up' . It reminded me of when I first went vegetarian back in high school and she'd hide meat in my food.

I think the hardest part was that there doesn't always seem to be a central 'hearty' part of a plate.  You can eat a lot and your body will tell you when you've had enough.  With a Whole Food Plant Based diet, a true one, without concentrated fats, you can't really have too many calories.  So when I felt like a 'hearty' part of a plate, I marinated a piece of Tofu and grilled or fried it.  Actually, though eating small meals more frequently is better for your metabolism.  I did the month with ease.  I could have kept going but decided for ease of everyday living, I would eat this way on my own and go back to Ovo Lacto vegetarian with my family.

I made a lot of salads. Too keep it interesting, I tried to mix and match.  I kept two large containers in the fridge so I always had access.  Here is my basic formula:

Vegan Salad Formula

Include each of the following groupings but at the same time, add as much of any vegetable you want!

One Grain

  • Cous Cous (1:1 Grain to Cold Water, let stand half an hour)
  • Quinoa (1:1.5 Boil vigourously, let cool)
  • Farro 
  • Bulgar Wheat
  • Wild Rice
  • Brown Rice
  • Barley
  • Whole Wheat Orzo
One Texture (Chew or Crunch)
  • Pine nuts
  • Sliced Almonds
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Sunflower Seeds
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Pistachios, chopped
One Herb (fresh, chopped)
  • Parsley (lots, entire bunch)
  • Cilantro (lots, entire bunch)
  • Dill (don't over do)
One Legume
  • Garbanzo beans
  • Lentils
  • Cannellini beans
  • Black beans
  • Romano beans
  • Canned or Fresh Corn (yes, yes, not a legume)

2 Vegetables, diced
  • Red bell Pepper
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumber
  • Cooked Beets
  • Shredded Kale
  • Blanched Green Beans
  • Shredded Carrot
1 Aromatic
  • minced Red Onion
  • minced Celery

One Umami (rounded flavour, optional)
  • minced Black Olives
  • crumbled, firm Tofu
  • mushrooms, raw or cooked
  • if not giving up Dairy, this is where Feta can come in

  • Lemon juice and zest
  • Lime juice and zest
  • White Balsamic Vinegar
  • Salt, pepper
  • Olive Oil or Sesame Oil (optional on the oil if you're going full on Forks Over Knives)

Mix and let stand.  Yummo!!


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