Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Cannellini Beans With Basil-Jalapeño Pesto
Great For Your 4th Of July Picnic

Cannellini Beans are spiced up with this spicy vegan and gluten-free basil and jalapeño pesto!

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Why I Started Foods For Long Life
2 Million Pageviews Later
How many people assume that they are going to inherit their parents illnesses? If their father had a heart attack or their mother had breast cancer, do they wait for the inevitable day for that same disease to strike them? 

It's a relief to know that only a small percentage of diseases are actually unpreventable because of inherited genetic mutations - some experts put that number as low as five to ten percent. But many people don't know this and make less of an effort to change their diet, stay active, and manage stress.

Health and nutrition has always been my passion and I spent a lifetime whipping up recipes that were both delicious and healthful and reading the latest literature about supplements and alternative treatments. I never pursued it formally and followed a career in electrical engineering instead. But I was shaken to the core when my best friend passed away at the young age of 50. I wished that I knew more about holistic treatments that could have helped fight her cancer but I didn't. 

After 36 years in the computer industry, 27 years at IBM and 9 years as the CEO of Ampro Computers, I decided to retire and dedicate my time to helping people live a healthier life. I furthered my knowledge with a PhD in holistic nutrition and started this blog in 2009 to spread the word about healthy eating, sharing plant-based recipes and my opinions on the latest health news. I'm continuing my research in herbalism as I learn more about how Mother Nature can help us get well and stay well. 

Since 2009, I have written over 600 posts and published an eBook, Health Begins in the Kitchen. Last week we hit a very special milestone of 2 Million Pageviews! This tells me that people are interested in taking control of their health. It gives me the encouragement to continue my work and it warms my heart to know that, in some way, I have helped people live a healthier life.

So THANK YOU all for following Foods For Long Life! Pass along my link to friends and family that you think would enjoy and benefit from it. And remember my tagline:

"Heath, excellent or ill, is passed to our children not just 
through our genes, but primarily, through our recipes."

Joanne L. Mumola Williams

Now for today's recipe. This spicy cannellini bean dish is a great source of protein and fiber. Served warm or at room temperature, it makes a great dish for your summer picnic or BBQ. You can eat as is or, as we did for dinner last night, stir it into a half pound of steaming pasta.

Since I've got lots of basil in my garden, I always make extra pesto and then pop it in the freezer for later. This recipe makes an entire cup of pesto but the recipe only needs 1/2 cup. Use it later on pasta, baked potatoes, as a dip, etc. It freezes really well.

Basil and jalapeños from my garden
Pesto freezes well

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Cannellini Beans with Basil-Jalapeño Pesto
Vegan, Dairy Free, Gluten Free
[makes 8 servings of beans plus 1/2 cup of leftover pesto]

Food Processor, such as a Cuisinart

For the pesto
2 cloves garlic, peeled
2 jalapeños, sliced vertically (with or without seeds depending on level of heat desired)
2 cups packed fresh basil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup raw walnuts
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
For the beans
2 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup finely diced celery
1 1/2 cups halved cherry tomatoes

Make the pesto. Place the garlic and jalapeños through the chute of a running food processor with an S blade and process until it's minced.

Add the basil, lemon juice, lemon zest, walnuts, oil, salt, and nutritional yeast and process until well blended.

Mix 1/2 cup of the pesto with the cannelloni beans, celery, and cherry tomatoes. (Freeze or refrigerate the remaining pesto.) Serve as is or heat to the desired temperature. 

As an option, mix the bean mixture into a halve pound of steaming hot pasta and serve.

Per serving (without pasta): 176 calories, 5 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 498 mg omega-3 and 1,973 mg omega-6 essential fatty acids, 9 g protein, 25 g carbohydrates, 6 g dietary fiber, and 90 mg sodium.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Stanford Inn By The Sea
A Vegan Paradise In Mendocino

Stanford Inn by the Sea is a historic farm & eco-resort.
Enjoy vegan cuisine in their Ravens restaurant.

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For Healthy Vegan Recipes, download my eBook.

Lucky Us
My husband has an unusual knack for winning raffles, or maybe it's just that he buys a whole lot of raffle tickets. None-the-less, we were THRILLED to win a few days at the Stanford Inn by the Sea when we bought raffle tickets to benefit the 2015 San Francisco Bay Area Walk for the Farm Animals.  Since we are celebrating our 26th wedding anniversary, we decided to spend it at this amazing resort.

Stanford Inn at the Sea
I have to be honest, I came for the food. Just think, an entire restaurant that serves all dairy-free cuisine. With my dairy allergy, I constantly have to ask, "is there butter in this? Is there cheese in this? Is there milk in this?" And usually, at the end of a meal in a typical restaurant, they bring you the dessert menu that rarely has a item that isn't drenched in whipped cream. And for strict vegans who avoid all animal products, you will be in heaven to know that not a single one is used in their cooking - no eggs, no dairy, no chicken broth, just plants! No need to grill the waiter.

But even though my main attraction was the food, there is so much more here to experience. You can go kayaking or canoeing in the Big River estuary or bike around Mendocino. We both enjoyed a wonderful massage in their spa. They also have an indoor pool, hot tub and sauna. And for people who want to make big life changes, this is center for learning how to live well. You can take nutrition classes, learn yoga and Tai Chi, learn about sustainable gardening, and more.

We had a great session with Jeff Stanford on meditation. For those of you who know us, you know that Doug and I do not sit still for a minute and we just assumed that meditation was never going to work for us. We've made an attempt but every time we try to "clear our minds", we just see giant "to do" lists. 

But Jeff's discussion approached meditation as inquiry, more about "What Meditation Isn't" and how personalized it can be. He taught us an "active meditation" technique that works perfectly for our personalities!

One thing that we didn't get to do but will definitely do next time is take a personalized "Play Shop" with Joan Stanford. This is a creative experience that allows you to tap into your creative wisdom using different media. And luckily you don't have to be an artist to do this.

OK, let's Talk Food!
Being an avid gardener and food lover, I was blown away with their gardens where they grow much of the food they serve in their restaurants. Just feast your eyes on these garden beds!

Life's Short - Eat Dessert First
"Afternoon's at the Stanford Inn" include a tea service and yummy vegan desserts from 3:30 to 4:30. So after you check into your room, this is a great way to begin your vacation!
Here are some of the desserts they served at afternoon tea or with dinner.

Coffee cake with oat topping and blue compote
Spice cake with pecans and orange glaze
Mint chocolate ganache tart with strawberries

Dinner at "The Ravens" Restaurant
Their restaurant serves dinner and breakfast. They will provide an "on the go" lunch for you, if you wish. Here are some of the yummy items we enjoyed at dinner. Note that just about every dish is served with a pretty flower from their garden.

First, they present a simple amuse-bouche, bread with a vegan spread of hummus and grilled broccoli, or baked corn chips and salsa.

Amuse of slaw-covered cucumber with sesame seeds
Fresh baked bread with a vegan spread

Starters, Soups, and Salads

My favorite starter was their Tamari-Maple Glazed Tofu. I could have eaten this at every meal!

Glazed Tofu

The Butternut Squash Soup with Crème fraîche was also a favorite. 

A lovely cream soup of butternut squash

Doug started his meal with a Cauliflower and Trumpet Mushroom Ceviche Taco.

Taco on a hand-made tortilla

We both loved this Kale Salad topped with cauliflower ceviche and avocado tartare.

Stacked kale salad

Large Plates
For dinner we enjoyed a variety of dishes. The most unusual was a Sea Palm and Root Vegetable Strudel that used local sea palm, and was wrapped in phyllo, served with umeboshi and wasabi sauces. 

Sea palm and root vegetable strudel

One night, Doug had Enchiladas.

Enchiladas with grilled portobello

I think my favorite entree was the Spinach and Herb Ricotta Ravioli.

Vegan ravioli, yumm!

And the last night we were there, Doug enjoyed this Thai Red Curry with mixed veggies and tofu on jasmine rice.

Thai Red Curry

Our Favorite Waitperson
The staff at Stanford Inn was caring and attentive - and very talented! The lovely young women who waited on us at dinner, Melissa Smith, is also a vegan blogger! Check out her blog, Eat Love Now.

Check out Melissa's vegan blog, Eat Love Now 
or follow her on Facebook.

What's for Breakfast?
There were lots of breakfast dishes to choose from. Here's what we enjoyed during out stay:

Vegan Portobello Benedict
Garden Tofu Scramble with Braised Vegetables - 
the rosemary potatoes were amazing!

Buckwheat and Oat Pancakes with Fruit Compote

The vegan scones were to die for!
Cranberry Orange Scone
Pineapple Coconut Scone
Fresh Fruit Bowl
Citrus Granola

Enjoy a Book
One last thing I want to mention is their extensive collection of books that are on display and for sale in their cozy lobby (it's really more like a big, inviting, living room). The titles include books on nutrition, veganism, wellness, plant-based cookbooks, meditation, yoga, and more. One could literally spend hours sitting in a big, comfy chair perusing their wonderful books.

So if you are ever in Mendocino and want a unique experience, I highly recommend visiting Joan and Jeff Stanford at their Stanford Inn at the Sea!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Creamy Vegan New Potato Salad With Dill
Red, White And Blue New Potatoes
Perfect For The 4th Of July

This new potato salad is perfect for summer BBQ's.

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My Expectations are High
If you've been following my post on "How to grow your own potatoes", you'll see that my plants are doing exceptionally well. After 6 short weeks, the plants have taken over the bed, are 3 feet tall, and have begun to flower! Since my expectations are high, I've begun to think about what I'm going to do with all of these potatoes.

In the meantime, while I anxiously await the birth of my own purple and gold new potatoes, I found these adorable baby new potatoes at the market this week. I thought they would make a very colorful and delicious salad using the dill from my new herb garden.

These cute little multicolored potatoes are only 1" across
Dill from my garden

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Creamy New Potato Salad with Dill
Vegan, Dairy and Gluten Free
[makes 6 to 8 servings]

1/4 cup diced red onion
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 1/2 pounds baby new potatoes (1/2 pound white, 1/2 pound purple, 1/2 pound red)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 cup finely diced celery (~ 2 center stalks)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
2 tablespoons vegan sour cream

Combine the red onion, garlic, oil and vinegar and set aside. Sitting in the vinegar will cut the intensity of the red onion.

Scrub the potatoes and dice into 1/2 inch pieces. If they are tiny, one-inch new potatoes, just cut in half. Place in a medium saucepan of boiling water with one teaspoon of salt. Cook until just tender, about 10 minutes. Do not overcook. 

Drain the potatoes and let them cool. Place in a salad bowl and toss with the oil and vinegar mixture. Add the celery, another 1/2 teaspoon of salt (or to taste), black pepper, dill, and sour cream. Toss until well combined.

Serve immediately or refrigerate.

Per serving (6): 128 calories, 3 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 3 g protein, 24 g carbohydrates, 3 g dietary fiber, and 242 mg sodium.

Per serving (8): 96 calories, 2 g total fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 2 g protein, 18 g carbohydrates, 2 g dietary fiber, and 181 sodium.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

SALT: New Guidelines And Where It Hides
How Too Much Sodium And Not Enough Iodine Can Effect Your Health

Watch your salt consumption but don't forget about iodine.

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The New Guidelines and Their Effect on Health

The federal government, in an attempt to reduce the amount of salt Americans consume, proposed a voluntary guideline for the food industry last week. Why is this important? Well, even if you removed the salt shaker from your dining table, you may still be getting too much salt since over 70% of the salt consumed in the U.S. is already in the food before it ever gets to the table! I'll talk about what foods are the culprits later.

There is 2,325 mg of sodium
in one teaspoon of salt.

The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans advise people to consume less than 2,300 mg (~ 1 teaspoon) of sodium per day yet the average consumption is closer to 3,400 mg (~1 1/2 teaspoons) per day.

Too much sodium is one of the factors that can lead to high blood pressure, the leading cause of heart disease and stroke. Heart disease is the number one leading cause of death and stroke is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. One in three Americans have high blood pressure. If most of the salt people eat is from the prepared foods they buy, then the food industry is certainly a key contributor to people suffering these deadly diseases. 

The proposed guidelines, which are open for public comment for up to five months (and probably for lobbyists of the food industry to rewrite) set targets for gradually reducing the amount of sodium in most processed and prepared foods in two phases. Based on these targets, it is expected that the average consumption of sodium would be reduced to 2,300 mg in 10 years. These guidelines are are voluntary, not mandatory.

According to an editorial written by Dr. Frieden in the Journal of the American Medical Association, if the consumption of sodium was reduced by as little as 400 mg per day, 32,000 heart attacks and 20,000 strokes could be prevented annually! 

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Where Salt Hides

Baking Soda - One of the reasons baked goods are so high in sodium is because baking soda contains 1231 mg of sodium in each teaspoon. Vegan baking tends to use more baking soda to get baked goods to rise without eggs. So check the labels on all baked items including pancake mixes, bread, pizza dough, cupcakes, crackers, Stove Top Stuffing, biscuit mixes, etc.

1 teaspoon of baking soda
has 1,231 mg of sodium.

Canned Soups - Veggie, chicken, and beef bouillon cubes are very high in sodium so when you use them to prepare your soups, make sure you lighten up on additional salt and take into account the amount the bouillon cube is already contributing. Look for bouillon cubes that say, "No Salt Added."  One packet of onion soup mix has over 3,000 mg of salt. Old fashioned Campbell's Tomato Rice Soup has 770 mg of sodium per serving but the catch is that a "serving" is 1/2 cup. Who eats 1/2 cup of soup?
So when buying canned soup, read the label and look for the low salt versions.

Who didn't live on Ramen Noodle Soup in college. One package of chicken-flavored ramen noodle soup contains 1,760 mg of sodium, 76% of your daily requirement.

1 packet of ramen noodles
has 3/4 teaspoon of sodium.

Soy Sauce and Miso are high in sodium. Have you ever noticed that you gain at least one or two pounds of water weight after eating Chinese food? A single tablespoon of soy sauce has over 1,000 mg of sodium and a tablespoon of miso contains 600 mg. 

Prepared Salad Dressing is another food where reading the label is key. It's also a good reason to make your own. I find that adding crushed raw garlic and some cayenne or black pepper to the dressing gives it enough flavor that you don't notice reducing the amount of salt. 

Cured Meats and Fish by nature of the curing process contain lots of sodium. Three ounces of Genoa salami contains over 1,500 mg of sodium and a three ounce serving of smoked salmon (lox) contains 1,700 mg.

Cheeses such as Roquefort (507 mg per ounce), shredded parmesan (475 mg per ounce), Swiss cheese (435 mg per ounce) and other cheeses will quickly get you to your daily limit.

Snacks, even supposedly healthy ones, like nuts, can carry a lot of sodium if they are salted. Salted nuts, seeds, pretzels, potato chips, corn chips, popcorn, peanuts, and other snacks are very high in sodium, so read the package. You make think "baked chips" and other low fat snacks are a good choice, but read the package and check for sodium.

Canned Vegetables - Frozen vegetables are always a better choice than canned. Frozen veggies have no added salt whereas canned ones can have a very high amount. Green Giant canned sweet peas contain 400 mg per 1/2 cup serving whereas a 1/2 cup serving of Cascadian Farm Organic frozen peas has a little over 70 mg. That's 6 times the salt in a can versus frozen!

Frozen veggies are always a better selection
than canned and contain much less sodium.

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Iodine - A Conundrum

While most people exceed their daily requirement of salt, many people in the U.S. are at risk for iodine deficiency. Iodine is key in the production of thyroid hormones which could lead to depression, weight gain, and more. It's also critical during pregnancy. A deficiency during pregnancy can lead to miscarriage or children with lower IQ scores and potentially ADHD. 

The RDA for iodine is 150 micrograms per day for men and women, 220 micrograms for pregnant women, and 290 micrograms for women who are breastfeeding.

Iodine deficiency was very common up until the early 1900's when most western countries added iodine to salt to prevent this issue. But many of the popular gourmet salts such as sea salts, flaky Maldon salt from England, flour de sel from France, and other fancy salts are not a significant source of iodine. 

So two major things are happening that can increase your risk of iodine deficiency. One, the goal of reducing salt in the diet. And two, the fact that many people are no longer eating iodized salt. Most prepared foods, like baked items, etc., are not made with iodized salt.

Signs of iodine deficiency are:
Dry skin,
Poor memory
Foggy, slow thinking
Weak and cramping muscles
Cold intolerance
Hoarse voice
Puffy eyes
Eventually, an enlarge thyroid or goiter

Other sources of iodine, besides iodized salt, are seaweed (kelp has the highest content), shellfish, fish, cow's milk, and eggs. Vegans are at greater risk for iodine deficiency since they avoid most of these sources.

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I mentioned that 70% of the sodium people consume is already in the food before it reaches the table. To prevent the over consumption of salt you can either wait until the food industry voluntarily lowers the amount of salt they use over the next 10 years or do this:

* Eat less prepared foods, like canned soups, salad dressing, pancake mixes, etc. and make your own.

* Buy more fresh or frozen vegetables versus canned foods.

* ALWAYS read labels.

* When eating in a restaurant, ask for "less sodium". It's a common request and they most likely will know how to handle it. 

* Don't forget about iodine! If you buy salt, make sure it's iodized. Also add some sea vegetables to your diet.

* Use spices and herbs to flavor foods instead of salt.

This product contains kelp (for iodine) and
 24 herbs and spices for low-sodium diets

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Lentil-Stuffed Sweet Potato
A Simple Vegan Dinner

Meatless and dairy free but packed with
18 g of protein and 21 g of fiber.

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Looking for Something to Eat on Meatless Monday?
People often want to eat less meat and serve a meatless lunch or dinner to their family but simply run out of ideas. Or they worry that the meal will lack enough protein to meet their daily needs. Well, here's a protein-packed meal that couldn't be easier or more delicious!

Inspired by Muir's Tea Room
Last week I was visiting Muir's Tea Room, a quaint vegan restaurant in our home town of Sebastopol. Christine, the owner, is trying out a few new recipes and this one was on the menu. I'm not sure exactly what her recipe was, but I was inspired to try something like it at home. 

This has it All!
What more could you expect from a meal? 

Lentils provide 19 grams of fiber and 16 grams of protein per cup.

Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A, in the form of beta-carotene. They also provide lots of B vitamins, dietary fiber, vitamin C, manganese, copper and phosphorus.  
And one medium sweet potato is just over 100 calories!

This dish is topped with my favorite fruit, the avocado! Don't fret about the fat - first of all the lentils and sweet potatoes are practically fat free so you need some healthy fats to absorb all those good carotenoids from the sweet potato. In addition, avocados contain healthy fats that decrease inflammation, and help prevent cardiovascular disease. 

Today's recipe is just a suggestion of how to combine these wonderful ingredients. 

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Baked Sweet Potato with Lentils
Vegan, Gluten and Dairy Free
[Makes 2 dinner-size servings]

2 medium sweet potatoes
1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup diced onions
Curry to taste
1 can lentils, drained and rinsed
1 cup canned diced tomatoes with juice
Salt to taste
1/2 avocado, chopped
2 tablespoons vegan sour cream, or to taste
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Scrub the sweet potatoes and place on a shallow baking pan lined with a Silpat silicon baking sheet, parchment, or foil. Bake until soft, about 1 to 1 1/2 hours.

About 15 minutes before the potatoes are cooked, heat the oil in a small saucepan and cook the onions until soft. Stir in the curry and add the lentils and the tomatoes. Every curry mixture is different, so it's hard to give exact amounts. Or, you may just want to spice it up with some cayenne pepper or a minced jalapeño. Add salt if needed. Cook until the tomatoes start to fall apart. Add water if it gets too dry but it should be nice and thick when done.

When the potatoes are soft, place them on two plates. Split them down the middle and fill each with half the lentil mixture. 

Top the lentils with avocado, sour cream and cilantro and serve.

(Per stuffed potato) 388 calories, 11 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 18 g protein, 68 g carbohydrates, and 21 g of dietary fiber.