Category Archives: Food Issues

Acid Alkaline Diet

I’ve been reading up on Alkaline diets recently. Some people say that it’s a crock, but my stomach has not gotten along with acidic foods for years so it makes perfect sense to me. During a recent rather severe bout, I started reading up. The belief is that your body suffers from having a PH imbalance, so you need the right combination of alkaline (80%) and acidic (20%) foods. Can you guess which foods are acidic and therefore not good for you? That’s right – coffee, chocolate, meat, dairy, and everything else remotely tasty! 🙂 The Alkaline Sisters (great name) have put together a food chart for us: Alkaline Foods Chart

My doctor has been trying to get me off coffee for a long time with little success. Did you know that coffee, as well as alcohol and cigarettes, burn in your stomach for 48 hours? I didn’t either.

I’m only sharing this as part of my culinary journey, and you can expect some alkaline recipes coming soon. Fortunately, it fits rather well with my vegan lifestyle except that I love Indian food (spicy), coffee, chocolate, wine and desserts. So… going to have to figure that part out.

This is an awesome video that lays it all out for you:

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Agree or Disagree? “Cooking Isn’t Fun, But You Should Do It Anyway”

My friend, the very talented author Kate Payne, recently shared this Slate article with fans of her book, The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking: Cooking Isn’t Fun, But You Should Do It Anyway.  There’s some discussion around whether or not we should be calling cooking a chore and then telling people to do more of it.

What I do like about this article is its honesty. As I’ve written here before, cooking is not always the fun, easy thing that some people who have the natural talents and inclination for it make it out to be. For the rest of us, it can be a drag, especially when you start out excited and energetic and after two hours you can’t eat the thing because you’ve screwed it up somehow.

The second myth is that cooking is easy. Making food quickly and well is easy once you know how to do it, but it is a learned skill, the acquisition of which takes time, practice, and the making of mistakes. To cook whole foods at a pace that can match box-meal offerings, one needs to know how to make substitutions on the fly; how to doctor a dish that has been overvinegared, oversalted, or overspiced; how to select produce and know how long you have to use it before it goes bad; how to stock a pantry on a budget. Without those skills, cooking from scratch becomes risky business: You may lose produce to rotting before you get the chance to cook it, or you may botch a recipe and find it inedible. Those mistakes are a natural part of learning to cook, but they will cost you and your family time, ingredients, and money without actually feeding you.

[…]

When the stories we tell about cooking say that it is only ever fun and rewarding—instead of copping to the fact that it can also be annoying, time consuming, and risky—we alienate the people who don’t have the luxury of choice, and we unwittingly reinforce the impression that cooking is a specialty hobby instead of a basic life skill.

What do you think? Do you love cooking, or hate it? Is it somewhere in between? I personally love the idea and romance of cooking (Did anyone else watch/read Julie and Julia and immediately want to cook through that cookbook too?) but don’t always enjoy the execution and hard work involved. I’d also probably jump out of my 4-story apartment window if I had to do it every night. (Thank God for a talented husband who actually enjoys cooking.) But I do like taking a new recipe on a weekend when I have a lot of free time and trying it out, especially when the results are good! 🙂

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Meatless Monday

I belong to a Toastmasters group (one of the best things I’ve ever done).  The other day I had to give a speech to “persuade with power.” I decided to talk about Meatless Monday because I think it’s a good cause. The speech was well received, and I thought it would make a good blog post. I hope you enjoy it, and give it a try!

As many of you know, I experiment with both vegetarianism and veganism.  While I can’t say that I’ve been wholly consistent over the years, or even over the last week, I have spent a large amount of time trying to abstain from eating meat, animal products like dairy and eggs, or both.

Many of us – myself included – struggle with giving up meat, particularly because cheeseburgers, steak and salmon are all so delicious. Today, however, I’d like to talk about a way to get some of the benefits of the vegetarian diet without the feelings of deprivation. It is the phenomenon called “Meatless Monday,” where non-vegetarians decide to give up meat for one day every week.

Meatless Monday actually dates back to WWI, when the government asked people to limit their consumption of meat to help the war effort.  The campaign returned during World War II and beyond with Presidents FDR and Harry Truman.

It was revived in 2003 as part of a public health awareness campaign, and today I’d like to share with you some of the reasons why you should consider Meatless Monday.

Health Benefits

Those of you who have seen the documentary film “Forks Over Knives” or have read “The China Study” will already know that the data shows that people who eat less animal-based foods have significantly lower rates of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.

Research from Harvard University showed that limiting meat intake can reduce the risk of heart disease by 19%.  Heart disease is actually the #1 killer of both men and women in this country. In the US, 1 in every 3 deaths is from heart disease and stroke.

Another big health concern for us is cancer.  A research study by the Cancer Project concluded that “vegetarians are at the lowest risk for cancer and have a significantly reduced risk compared to meat-eaters.”

Environmental Benefits

Many of us don’t realize the implications that the meat industry currently has on our environment. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that the meat industry generates nearly 1/5 of the manmade greenhouse gas emissions that accelerate climate change. It is also estimated that 1800-2500 gallons of water go into a single pound of beef, and about 40 calories of fossil fuel energy go into every calorie of feed lot beef in the U.S.

According to the Environmental Working Group, if you skip one burger a week for a year, it is equivalent to not driving 320 miles in your car. If everyone in the US skipped meat for 1 day a week for a year, it would be equivalent to not driving 91 billion miles or taking 7.6 million cars off the road.

Animal Cruelty

I won’t get into factory farming or the conditions of the animals, as it can be disturbing.  But I do want to point out for the animal lovers in the crowd that according to the Humane Society of the US, about 1.4 billion animals could be spared each year if every American would cut out meat once a week.

Whether you are driven by an interest in improving your health, the environment, the conditions of animals, or all three, you’re in good company.  Meatless Monday has such prominent supporters as Sir Paul McCartney, Yoko Ono, Oprah, Simon Cowell, Kate Moss, Gwyneth Paltrow, James Cameron, Bill Clinton and Al Gore.  Maybe they’re on to something.

It’s Easy

There are so many delicious vegetarian foods out there that you won’t even miss meat on Mondays.  You could eat falafel with hummus, veggie burgers, many Indian dishes, pasta with vegetables, eggplant parmigiana, vegetable soup, vegetable stir-fry. Many Asian cuisines use tofu in their cooking, which is simply delicious.  So there are a lot of options out there.  You won’t feel hungry or deprived on Meatless Mondays.

There are a lot of great resources out there for those of you who want to give Meatless Mondays a try.  I hope you will this coming Monday and see what you think!

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NY Times: Tell Us Why It’s Ethical to Eat Meat


Since this blog has become primarily vegetarian and vegan, I found the new contest by the NY Times particularly interesting and wanted to share it with you:

Ethically speaking, vegetables get all the glory. In recent years, vegetarians — and to an even greater degree vegans, their hard-core inner circle — have dominated the discussion about the ethics of eating. […] In response, those who love meat have had surprisingly little to say. They say, of course, that, well, they love meat or that meat is deeply ingrained in our habit or culture or cuisine or that it’s nutritious or that it’s just part of the natural order. […] Few have tried to answer the fundamental ethical issue: Whether it is right to eat animals in the first place, at least when human survival is not at stake.

So today we announce a nationwide contest for the omnivorous readers of The New York Times. We invite you to make the strongest possible case for this most basic of daily practices. […] So get thinking. And get writing. You have two weeks and 600 words in which to make sense of our species’ entire dietary history. Bon appétit!

Meat-eaters, would you considering entering this contest? What do you think about the central question – is it ethical to eat meat or just something we enjoy and are used to?

*Note: I don’t post this question in judgment of meat-eaters – I do occasionally cheat on my veg ideals, though I hate to admit it.  But I am definitely interested in the debate from both sides.

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