Vegan Freak Health Show

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If you haven’t heard it yet, make sure you go check out the health episode of the VeganFreak radio show.  It’s a departure from their normal style and is quite an interesting and informative listen.  In the past, they’ve kind of breezed by a lot of health talk, often coming out and saying things like, “I don’t worry much about Omega-3s” and things along those lines.  But after Bob was diagnosed with diabetes and high cholesterol and Jenna with high cholesterol, they realized that just being vegan isn’t enough.  Thankfully, with some minor diet changes, they really turned things around.

I thought I’d share my own health-related anecdote.

By May 2005, I had been vegan for seven months.  The previous year, as a lacto-ovo, my HDLs (good cholesterol) were a tad low and I had a triglyceride reading of 210.  Considering under 150 is what one should shoot for, I was pretty far off.  That May I thought to myself, “I’ve been vegan for a while now, I’m sure things have improved.”  My HDLs were about the same and my triglycerides were actually up to 227.  Yikes.  The doctor wasn’t overly concerned, but I didn’t like my triglycerides up that high.

Over the next year-and-a-half, my eating habits changed a bit.  I relied less on processed fake meats and was generally eating more whole foods.  It wasn’t really a conscious effort, but happened naturally.

When I had my blood checked again in December of 2006, my total cholesterol had dropped from 165 to 135, my HDLs were up from 35 to 37 (still a little more work to do here), my LDLs dropped from 85 to 77, and, get this: my triglycerides dropped from 227 to 106.  In addition, my cholesterol ratio dropped from 4.7:1 to 3.6:1 (optimal for males is 3.5:1).  That was some seriously good change.

I still could stand to be a bit healthier.  I eat more sugar than I probably should (cookies) and haven’t been able to get back into a good, regular exercise groove.  But, I’m pleased with where simply moving towards more whole foods has gotten me so far, with surprisingly little effort.

Recent food successes

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This weekend was like one food success after another.  Shall I share?

It started off on Thursday afternoon.  The workday was coming to a close and I was putzing around thinking about what I wanted to make for dinner that night.  Huyen had made great meals all week long, so I wanted to give her a break with some good comfort food.  Somehow, I came upon this recipe for Soul Veg’s Macaroni and Cheese.  In case you haven’t heard about this stuff, people reportedly drive for miles and miles to get them some.  I’d had it at Soul Veg in DC before and was duly impressed.  Thankfully, the recipe came out exactly as I remember it.  I mean, holy hell, it has a full cup of nutritional yeast and a full cup of canola oil, so it’s seriously rich.  Bake yourself a batch of that up and it’s a good 6-7 servings.

To go with the mac and cheese, I made up some cornbread, using Isa’s recipe.  I’ve never been a huge fan of cornbread, but I was fiending for some on Thursday.  Isa’s recipe is the best I’ve ever tried.  Just perfect.  Weekend visitors that tried it all went back for seconds.

For Easter dinner, we cooked up a ham.

Kidding, of course.

Easter dinner was a bit of a challenge because we had four family members in town visiting.  I wanted to make sure we made something filling and familiar but not too mock-meaty.  So, I made the vegetable pot pie recipe from Robin Robertson’s Vegetarian Meat & Potatoes cookbook, which I’d had good luck with once before.  In place of tofu, we whipped up a quick batch of seitan that was just enough to fill out the pot pie without being noticeable amongst the vegetables.  Everyone enjoyed it and by the end of the dinner and people getting their seconds and thirds, there wasn’t any left.

A few weeks ago, some friends visited and I made up the raw lasagna recipe from Raw Food, Real World.  I know, I know — risky move serving a raw recipe to non-vegans.  But they loved it!  When I was talking with one of them about how I felt it was risky serving up a raw dish like that, she said that now she felt she had to up the ante when we visited, so she’d be dumpster diving to make a freegan meal.  :)

Cooking vegan for guests can sometimes be a bit daunting, especially for new vegans who are a bit unsure of their cooking skills.  After all, we don’t want to serve up something that turn people off of vegan food forever.  It’s a lot of pressure!  Fortunately, with time, we accumulate enough of these “food successes” that we build confidence in the kitchen.  That’s when cooking gets really fun.