Make Age-Defying Food Choices
Would you be willing to change your eating habits today, right now, if you knew the modifications you made could extend your life by ten healthy years or more? Okay, no one can guarantee you will live a longer, healthier life if you put down the doughnuts and French fries and go for the fresh fruit and baked potato with fresh herbs. But taking such a step is a terrific start, and one that is supported by lots of research. It’s hard to ignore the scores of scientific studies, Internet articles, TV shows, and newspaper reports about the health benefits of a balanced, nutritious diet, even though they do share media time and space with fast-food commercials and stories about people eating deep-fried butter sticks and chocolate bars at the state fair. But deep down, you know the former—and not the latter—is the road to a fuller, healthier life.
If you are serious about wanting to live a longer, more physically and mentally active life, then it is absolutely essential that you provide your body and mind with the best fuel possible. You are probably like most people: you have a pretty good idea of what you should be eating, but you could use some encouragement, tips, and guidelines that will make your dietary changes as delicious, convenient, and painless as possible.
You could go to a bookstore or library and peruse the nutrition or diet section. But the sheer volume of options is enough to send anyone running to the nearest fast-food restaurant. That’s why this chapter takes a no-nonsense approach and talks about choices that are sensible, doable, convenient, and backed by science.
The age-defying food suggestions in this chapter are ones you can follow for the rest of your life without feeling like you’re on a diet, because you won’t be: you’ll be living with an eating plan that revitalizes you every day. It will also be a program you construct for yourself from the recommendations, so the end result will be Your Plan. If you need to lose weight, then you can combine what you learn here with guidelines from Step 2. If excess weight is not a problem, then you get to skip to Step 3 once you have created your eating plan. Included is a discussion of the pros and cons of calorie restriction, tips on how to eat out sensibly, and some simple, age-defying recipes that you can prepare in ten minutes or less.
SUCCESSFUL AGE-DEFYING EATING PLANS
Of the thousands of eating plans, diet programs, and fad diets out there, only a few have any scientific evidence to back up their claims that they can help you challenge the aging process and the diseases and health conditions typically associated with getting older. I have chosen four approaches that are backed with clinical studies and research: the Okinawa diet, the Mediterranean diet, guidelines from the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR), and the eating program by Dean Ornish, MD, president of Preventive Medicine Research Institute and author of Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease. Although these age-challenging eating approaches come from different places around the world, they share common features, which will become evident as you read about them, and these common elements make it easy to use them as a basis to create your own personal eating program. Here are the features of the four eating styles.
• The Okinawa diet is based on the food habits of the Okinawan people, who are among the longest-living people in the world. Although lifestyle (including daily exercise), environmental factors, and genetics also play a part in their longevity, diet is a major factor. The diet consists primarily (about 72 percent) of vegetables (lots of dark green vegetables and sweet potatoes), fruits, and whole grains. Seaweed and soy make up about 14 percent, fish about 11 percent, and meat, poultry, and eggs just 3 percent. Green tea and water are the main beverages, and alcohol consumption is moderate (one drink for women, two for men daily). Dairy products are rarely eaten.
• The Mediterranean diet has been widely studied and noted for reducing the risk of overall and cardiovascular death and cancer and cancer death and lower incidences of Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. Similar to the Okinawa diet, it focuses on vegetables, fruits, and whole grains as the main portion of the diet, but it also includes beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and olive oil as major items. Fish and seafood are recommended at least twice a week, while poultry, eggs, cheese, and yogurt are recommended in moderate amounts daily to weekly and meat and sweets less often.
• The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) advocates a primarily plant-based eating approach and has a program called the New American Plate, which encourages people to look at their plate and change the proportions of food as well as the portions. The goal is to create your plate so that it is composed of two-thirds or more vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and/or beans and one-third or less animal protein. The AICR’s expert report, Food, Nutrition, Physical Activity, and the Prevention of Cancer: A Global Perspective, found that a primarily plant-based diet may reduce the risk of cancer and other chronic diseases and also help manage weight.
• The eating program proposed by Dean Ornish, MD, is based on a large amount of research indicating that diets high in saturated fat and cholesterol increase the risk of heart disease and that following his eating plan can reverse heart disease. The plan is based on eating 70 to 75 percent of calories as complex carbohydrates, 15 to 20 percent as protein, and 10 percent as fat (primarily polyunsaturated fat). You can indulge in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and legumes in unlimited amounts, avoiding all meat and dairy products except egg whites, nonfat milk, and nonfat yogurt, strictly limiting plant foods high in fat (e.g., nuts, seeds, avocados, vegetable oils), and consuming salt, sugar, and alcohol in moderation.
Before you put together your own age-defying eating plan, here’s a quick explanation of the main components of these four eating approaches and why each is important as part of an age-defying plan.
WHAT YOUR BODY NEEDS
Antioxidants and Other Nutrients
Perhaps the most important feature shared by all of the four eating plans is the abundance of foods rich in phytonutrients (nutrients from plants) and antioxidants, including vitamins and minerals. Antioxidants are substances that attack and destroy free radicals, the oxygen molecules that play a key role in the aging process and in the onset of diseases associated with aging, such as heart disease, cancer, osteoporosis, and Alzheimer’s disease.
As you get older, your body becomes more susceptible to attack by free radicals, which results in oxidative stress, meaning you have too many free radicals that can damage your cells. To fight those free radicals, you need to maintain a high intake of antioxidants. Antioxidants can help slow aging at the cellular level by helping your cells avoid or minimize damage from free radicals and reduce the effects of aging.
Fruits and vegetables are excellent sources of antioxidants, and the fresher the better. You are encouraged to choose organic produce over conventionally grown, and frozen over canned. Because fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can range quite widely in their antioxidant power level, eat a big variety. (See the “Antioxidant Power Food List” below.)
Antioxidant Power Food List
The antioxidant values of foods are expressed in units called ORACs (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacities), which were developed by the National Institute on Aging. The values are based on a 100-gram (3.5-oz.) sample, and the higher the value, the stronger the antioxidant capabilities of the food. However, it is important to remember that the ORAC value is just one measure of a food’s value for your health. Foods contain vitamins and minerals besides antioxidants, as well as carbs, protein, and fiber.
Spices are generally exceedingly high in ORAC value. I have only included a few spices, because chances are slim you will consume 3.5 ounces of spices as part of a meal. However, because spices have very potent antioxidant powers, it is a great idea to include them in your eating plan to not only liven up your food but also give a real boost to your fight against free radicals and aging.
Dried oregano: 175,295 (8,347/tsp)
Ground cinnamon: 131,420 (6,260/tsp)
Ground turmeric: 127,068 (6,053/tsp)
Acai berries: 102,700
Unsweetened baking chocolate: 49,944
Black raspberries: 19,220
English walnuts: 13,541
Golden raisins: 10,450
Blueberries (wild): 9,621
Prunes, uncooked: 8,059
Lentils, raw: 7,282
Apple, Granny Smith with skin: 4,275
Cabbage, red boiled: 3,145
Lettuce, red leaf raw: 2,426
Oats, instant dry: 2,308
Black beans, boiled: 2,249
Oat bran: 2,183
Broccoli, boiled: 2,160
Bread, multigrain/whole grain: 1,421
Green tea, brewed: 1,253
And at the lowest end:
Eggplant, boiled: 245
Cucumber, peeled: 140
Foods That Fight Inflammation
An effective antiaging eating plan includes not only lots of antioxidants but a good amount of anti-inflammatory foods as well. Conveniently, many foods that are high in antioxidants also fight inflammation, especially fruits and vegetables, as well as cold-water fish, which are an excellent source of the healthy fat called omega-3 fatty acids. (See “Fats.”)
Inflammation speeds up the aging process and is also a contributing factor in heart disease, autoimmune disorders, cancer, and other serious conditions associated with aging. Therefore, you want to focus on foods that have anti-inflammatory properties rather than those that promote inflammation. Since the four eating plans stress anti-inflammatory foods and recommend you limit or avoid those that can promote inflammation, such as red meat, full-fat dairy, processed foods, and sugars, basing your eating program on this approach will ensure you get plenty of anti-inflammatory foods.
Some of the most potent anti-inflammatory foods are:
• Vegetables in the Allium genus: garlic, onions, chives, shallots, and scallions
• Beans and lentils
• Nuts and seeds
• Yogurt and kefir
Proteins are a macronutrient and the building blocks necessary for the production of cells, organs, muscles, and other tissues. Proteins also have roles as enzymes, hormones, and antibodies.
Your ability to generate new protein and to absorb protein from food may decline as you get older, depending on your health. If you have a chronic disease, such as arthritis or heart disease, then your protein needs may be greater than if you were in better health. However, that does not mean you should arbitrarily increase your protein intake, because excess protein can stress the kidneys and cause a problem with kidney function. Your best bet is to talk to a knowledgeable health-care professional about your specific protein needs based on your health status.
Generally, adults need 0.8 grams of protein per kilogram (2.2 lbs.) of body weight per day to maintain health. That translates into 48 grams of protein daily if you weigh 132 pounds and 60 grams daily if you weigh 165 pounds.
Each of these eating plans focuses on plant protein rather than animal protein, although the latter does play a role. The most common question about plant protein is, “Don’t I have to eat certain foods together to make sure I get complete protein?” The answer is no: your body is “smart” enough to combine complementary proteins that you eat within the same day. That means the amino acids in the quinoa you eat for breakfast, the chickpeas in your salad at lunch, and the soy burger at dinner will “get together” and make the protein you need. (See “Sources of Protein.”) Animal protein takes a backseat in an age-defying diet, although it is still in the car if you want it to be!
SOURCES OF PROTEIN
• Beans and legumes (e.g., lentils, split peas, pinto beans, kidney beans, black beans, et cetera)
• Soy (e.g., tempeh, tofu, miso, natto)
• Seitan (wheat gluten)
• High-protein grains (e.g., amaranth, quinoa, wheat berries; both amaranth and quinoa are considered complete proteins)
• Fat-free yogurt, fat-free cheese, nonfat milk
• Egg whites
• Chicken and turkey (no skin)
• Cold-water fatty fish
• Lean beef (occasionally)
Carbohydrates are another macronutrient and the main source of energy for your body. The digestive system transforms carbohydrates into blood sugar (glucose), which is used by your cells, tissues, and organs. Simple carbohydrates include sugars found naturally in fruits, vegetables, and milk, but sugar is also added to many foods during processing, and this is the type of simple carbohydrate you want to avoid.
All four eating plans focus heavily on complex carbohydrates, which are found in whole grains and whole-grain products, cereals, starchy vegetables, beans, and legumes. Many complex carbohydrates are also excellent sources of fiber, as well as a wide range of phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals.
Fats are an often-misunderstood macronutrient, frequently characterized as “bad” when there are actually both healthy and unhealthy fats. Healthy fats include monounsaturated fats, found in foods such as olive oil and avocados, and omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in cold-water fatty fish (e.g., salmon, herring), walnuts, and flaxseed. These healthy fats are the ones you will want to include in your program.
Fats in the unhealthy category are those you want to avoid as much as possible and are found mainly in animal foods such as beef, cheese, and pork, and trans fats, which are synthetic fats found in some processed foods and can be identified on product labels as “hydrogenated oil,” “partially hydrogenated oil,” and “margarine” and may also be shown under the “Fat” area of the ingredient panel. Both saturated and trans fats are associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and possibly cancer as well, while omega-3 fatty acids and monounsaturated fats are linked with fighting a variety of health concerns, ranging from depression to heart disease, arthritis, and macular degeneration, among others.
What role does fiber play in antiaging? Plenty! Maintaining a high-fiber diet helps support brain and bone health, helps reduce the risk of colon cancer, lends a hand in regulating blood pressure, aids in removing cholesterol from the body, and assists in maintaining a healthy weight. Eating foods high in fiber also helps normalize blood glucose levels and bone strength and maintains a healthy digestive tract. Overall, keeping a high level of fiber in your eating plan is a great protective step against many of the health issues that come up as you age. The recommended amount of fiber in your diet is 25 to 30 milligrams daily. (See “High-Fiber Foods” below.)
YOUR AGE-DEFYING EATING PLAN
Your task is to create your own age-defying eating plan based on the principles of the four approaches discussed while incorporating your individual likes and dislikes and taking into consideration any health conditions discussed with your health-care provider (e.g., heart disease, diabetes). When choosing your foods:
• The majority should be vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, and legumes. Most of these foods are high in fiber, complex carbohydrates, and nutrients. Beans and legumes are excellent sources of protein, as are some whole grains. (See “Sources of Protein.”) Picture a plate: about 75 percent of the space should be covered with these foods at each meal.
• A low to moderate amount of fish, soy, seaweed, hormone-free meats and poultry, egg whites, olive oil, and nonfat dairy.
• Zero to very low amounts of sugar and alcohol—consider them a treat.
• Green tea and purified water freely every day.
So, what’s on your age-defying menu? Let’s say your current typical day begins with coffee and Danish, followed by a microwaved processed soup or fast-food burger for lunch and fried chicken and coleslaw for dinner. A new antiaging eating plan might look like this (items with asterisks have recipes that appear at the end of the chapter):
Quinoa and oatmeal with blueberries*
Spinach salad with tomato, black olives, cucumber, red onion, red pepper, chickpeas, and an olive oil and vinegar dressing (you can vary the veggies)
Organic whole-grain crackers
Baked salmon with lemon and cilantro
Baked sweet potato topped with sautéed onions and garlic
Steamed asparagus drizzled with olive oil and slivered almonds
Oatmeal with walnuts and cinnamon
1 cup berries
Whole-wheat pita stuffed with black bean spread and veggies*
Tempeh with veggies*
Green salad with tomatoes, grated beets and carrots, red onion, and cucumber, olive oil and vinegar dressing
Nonfat yogurt with fruit
½ whole-wheat bagel with honey
Veggie burger on whole-grain bun, with vegetable topping
Whole fruit (apple or pear with skin)
Baked chicken breast seasoned with oregano and turmeric
Twice brown rice*
Spinach salad with orange sections, walnuts, lemon juice, drizzled olive oil
Omelet made with egg whites, mushrooms, and bell peppers
Hash-brown potatoes seasoned with turmeric (use spray-on oil in pan)
Split pea soup*
Carrot sticks and broccoli florets with salsa
Steamed kale or mustard greens with stir-fried onions, garlic, and bell pepper
Baked apple with cinnamon
Hot-air popped corn with sprayed-on oil and sprinkled with garlic powder or chili powder
Organic whole-grain crackers with all-natural nut butter (peanut, almond, hazelnut)
Frozen bananas or grapes
Homemade trail mix*
Green tea smoothie*
WHAT YOU DON’T NEED: FOODS THAT PROMOTE AGING
Although it’s important to know which foods you should eat to support your health and longevity, it’s also just as essential to know which ones to avoid. Fortunately, there are alternatives to each of the types of foods you should eliminate from your eating plan, and they are offered here as well.
• Sugar and sugary foods. If you want to speed up the aging process, bring on the sweets. Sugar and refined carbohydrates are not your friends because they:
• Cause inflammation, especially of the blood vessels, and inflammation is associated with heart disease
• Are associated with diabetes, insulin resistance, and complications of diabetes
• Interfere with your ability to absorb calcium, which can be detrimental to your bones, heart, and muscles
• Suppress the release of growth hormone, which is necessary for repairing cells and tissues and maintaining brain function, muscle tone, and bone strength
• Alternatives: Instead, choose fresh and dried fruits if you have a sweet tooth. The herbal sweetener stevia (no-calorie) and small amounts of honey can also be used to sweeten teas, cereals, and other foods.
• Grilled, fried, or broiled animal products (meats and cheeses). If a grilled hamburger and fried mozzarella sticks are on your plate, so are AGEs—that’s advanced glycation end products. AGEs are a type of toxin absorbed by the body when you eat animal products that are heated at very high temperatures. AGEs are associated with inflammation, insulin resistance, kidney and vascular disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease. Studies show that AGEs play a significant role in age-related inflammation and aging (oxidative stress). Alternatives: According to Dr. Helen Vlassara, professor of medicine and geriatrics at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and a researcher who has studied AGEs, you should stew, boil, and steam your food. “Keeping the heat down and maintaining the water content in food reduces AGE levels,” she says, and a 50 percent reduction in your intake of AGEs could even extend your life span!
• Meats and dairy products that contain hormones. Conventionally raised food animals are treated with hormones (as well as antibiotics and steroids), which end up in the meat, poultry, and dairy foods you eat. Alternatives: You can choose hormone-free products or, better yet, switch to plant-based protein sources such as beans, legumes, selected grains, and nuts, all of which are hormone-free.
• Processed meats. These are the worst of the worst—processed meats such as sausage, smoked meats, hot dogs, bologna, and salami, all of which often contain cancer-causing nitrites and nitrates. Alternatives: If you really crave these foods, try the “faux” meats. Great advances have been made in the taste and texture of processed-type meats made from soy, wheat gluten, and other nonanimal ingredients: soy dogs, soy sausage, and soy deli meats.
• Conventionally grown produce. Fruits and vegetables grown using conventional farming methods are regularly treated with herbicides, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers. Even if you wash these produce items well, there is still the risk of exposure to toxins, and there is also some evidence that conventionally grown produce has less nutritional value. Alternative: When possible, select organic fruits and vegetables. You can also grow some of your own and use organic, sustainable methods for fertilizing and pest control.
• Processed foods. These foods make up the majority of items in many supermarkets. Refined, processed foods contain artificial colorings, flavorings, and preservatives that contribute to free-radical production and aging. Limit your consumption of these foods. Alternatives: Choose whole, natural foods whenever possible. Prepare your own “processed”-type foods, such as salad dressings, soups, salsas, sauces, and cereals using natural ingredients.
“Live long and starve? That’s not for me. I like food too much!” That’s how one 53-year-old accountant reacted to the idea of calorie restriction. While the idea of strictly limiting your calorie intake for the rest of your life sounds like torture to many people, perhaps it’s a bit premature to dismiss it without first looking at its merits.
Calorie restriction (CR), according to the Calorie Restriction Society International, is “the only proven life-extension method known to modern science.” It is not about starving, nor is it about losing weight, although weight loss is a side effect of calorie restriction. Rather, the goal is to slow aging and extend life span.
And so far, scientific research has demonstrated that calorie-restricted diets do extend life span and improve the health of the many different species that have been tested, including mice, worms, dogs, cows, and monkeys. For example, you may remember hearing about a study in which mice were given a nutritious diet, but some also had their calorie intake cut by 30 to 50 percent. The mice with the restricted-calorie diet lived about 50 percent longer.
Mice studies are okay, but human studies are much more convincing, and an unintended study occurred between 1991 and 1993. That’s when eight scientists sealed themselves up in Biosphere 2, an ecological dome in Oracle, Arizona. Soon after they entered the two-year experimental environment, they discovered they would be unable to grow enough food to keep themselves alive. Roy L. Walford, the team’s doctor, had been studying calorie restriction for decades, and under his guidance the entire team followed the plan. When the scientists finally left the dome, tests showed improvements in blood cholesterol and blood pressure, an enhanced immune system, and that they were better able to retrieve nutrients from their food as a result of their low-calorie, high-nutrient eating.
Some may consider calorie restriction to be a fad, and although extreme, it does have some scientific evidence to support its claims. The CR Society International is actively pursuing basic research in calorie restriction through long-term human studies, provides information about calorie restriction to the general public and media, and is a contact point for anyone interested in calorie restriction.
But Is a CR Plan for Me?
That’s up to you. You should definitely consult a health-care provider who is familiar with the concept and discuss your overall health before taking the plunge. Actually, the recommended way to transition into a CR plan is much more like a very slow river cruise. Dr. Walford, who wrote the book considered to be the CR bible, Beyond the 120 Year Diet: How to Double Your Vital Years, recommends taking a minimum of six to nine months, and preferably one to two years, to fully adopt calorie restriction. That said, here are some of the particulars of a CR approach, courtesy of the Calorie Restriction Society International.
Your first question is likely, “What can I eat?” Actually, quite a bit: lots of vegetables, some fruits, low-fat protein (e.g., fish, low-fat dairy, soy and egg whites, turkey, chicken lean beef), and healthy fats (e.g., olive oil, avocado, nuts). The “secret” is to fill up on bulky, nutrient-dense foods that are low in calories—which includes most vegetables and fruits.
When choosing your carbohydrates, select those that are low on the glycemic index. The glycemic index is a measure of how fast a specific food releases sugar into the bloodstream. Most fruits and vegetables are low on the index, while starches such as breads, grains, and dried fruits are high.
Here are some other tips on following a CR program:
• Eat your foods raw or only minimally cooked. This helps ensure you get the most nutrients from your food.
• Chew your food well and eat slowly.
• Know which foods could cause you to “fall off the wagon” and either don’t keep them in the house or have only a small amount available, which you use as a treat once a week.
• Plan your meals several days ahead of time so you are not tempted to grab something quick—and high in calories—from the refrigerator or cabinet. It can be helpful to have a list of meal ideas posted on your refrigerator or pantry wall to refer to.
• Try to stick to a daily meal schedule.
How Does Restricting Calories Extend Life and Improve Health?
When you restrict calorie intake, you lower your body fat, and that’s a good thing. Too much body fat has been linked to insulin resistance and inflammation, which in turn are associated with a number of ailments and diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, obesity, arthritis, and various cancers.
Your body responds to a reduction in calories by slowing down your metabolism. This is actually a safety and defense mechanism to help prevent your body from breaking down if it’s not getting quite enough calories. When your metabolism puts on the brakes, your body not only slows down the rate at which you burn calories; it also affects your cell activity. A slower metabolism causes the body to focus less on reproducing cells and more on fixing cells and tissues. The end result is a slowdown in the aging process.
Eating alone can be hazardous to your health, especially if being alone is a new experience for you. If you have lost a partner through death, a breakup, or divorce or you had children living with you and they have left home, you may find yourself eating alone—and poorly. Fast food, microwavable meals, skipped meals—you may feel like it’s not worth the effort to prepare something or to take the time to choose healthy foods. But it’s more than worth it if you want to stay on track with your nutrition.
If you are in a situation where eating alone is affecting your ability to make good food choices, here are some suggestions:
• Invite a friend to have lunch or dinner with you.
• Have a potluck and invite friends or family.
• Make your meals something special—use candles or treasured dishes or place mats or play favorite music.
• Try a new simple recipe each week.
• Eat meals in different settings: in a park, on your patio, at an outdoor concert, by a stream or lake or a playground where children are playing.
• Look for brown-bag lectures: libraries and community groups sometimes sponsor lunchtime talks where people can bring their own lunch.
• Watch cooking shows on TV or the Internet and get tips on cooking for one.
• Have lunch or dinner with a friend via Skype! Computers now allow us to “be” with others even when we are thousands of miles apart. If you can’t share a meal with someone in person, arrange to share a meal while you are on Skype. It’s the next best thing to being there.
The following recipes contain ingredients that can help you defy aging: for example, fiber-rich quinoa, oats, lentils, barley, and beans; antioxidant powerhouses such as blueberries, bell peppers, spinach, green tea, tomatoes, and apricots; and plant-based protein, such as tempeh, almonds, and split peas. An added bonus: all the recipes are easy and stress-free!
QUINOA AND OATMEAL WITH BLUEBERRIES
¼ cup water
¼ cup nonfat milk or soy beverage (vanilla is good!)
1 Tbs quinoa
1 ½ Tbs rolled oats
1 Tbs oat bran
¼ tsp vanilla extract
Combine the water, milk or soy beverage, and quinoa in a saucepan and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the rolled oats, oat bran, and salt, stir, and simmer until thick, about 2–3 minutes. Remove from heat, add the vanilla extract, and serve with blueberries.
4 cups vegetable broth, low salt
1 small red onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup brown lentils
2 cups chopped tomatoes
2 tsp chili powder
1/8 cup cilantro
Combine all ingredients except the cilantro in a large pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer partially covered for 30 minutes or until the lentils are almost tender. Uncover and cook 5–10 minutes longer. Stir in cilantro and serve.
SPLIT PEA SOUP
2 ½ cups water
1 cup green split peas
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, halved
1 cup spinach, chopped
Juice of ½ lemon
Black pepper and salt to taste
Combine water, split peas, onion, carrot, and garlic in a large pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, add spinach, and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove half the soup from the pot; vigorously stir the soup remaining in the pot with a whisk or hand mixer until it is smooth. Add the saved soup back to the pot, stir in the lemon juice, and season to taste with black pepper and salt.
1 cup pearl barley
3 cups vegetable broth (low salt)
¼ cup chopped green onion
¼ cup chopped bell pepper
½ cup sliced mushrooms
¼ tsp crushed dried oregano
Bring barley and broth to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes. Add the onion, pepper, mushrooms, and oregano and continue cooking until barley is tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
TWICE BROWN RICE
½ cup each chopped bell pepper and red onion
1 cup prepared brown rice
1/8 tsp each ground turmeric and oregano
Spray a skillet with the oil and rapidly sauté the bell pepper and onion for 3–4 minutes over medium heat. Remove the vegetables, spray the skillet again, and add the brown rice, seasonings, and vegetables, spreading the mixture out in the bottom of the skillet so it begins to brown slightly. Use a spatula to turn the brown rice several times until it reaches a desirable brown color.
WHOLE-WHEAT PITA STUFFED WITH BLACK BEAN SPREAD AND VEGGIES
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 Tbs minced fresh rosemary
2 cups cooked black beans
2 whole-wheat pitas
Chopped tomatoes, bean sprouts, chopped onion, and chopped lettuce
Spray a skillet with oil spray and quickly sauté the garlic and rosemary. Add the beans and mash them with a large spoon or fork. You will need to add a small amount of water to make the beans smooth. Stuff into whole-wheat pitas and add chopped tomatoes, bean sprouts, chopped onion, and chopped lettuce.
TEMPEH WITH VEGGIES
1 package tempeh, cut into blocks
3 cloves garlic
¼ cup vegetable juice
1 cup zucchini, cut into bite-sized chunks
1 cup yellow squash, cut into bite-sized chunks
½ cup red onion
1 cup spinach, chopped
Spray a skillet with oil and add the tempeh and garlic. Stir-fry until sizzling. Add half of the vegetable juice, cover, and simmer for a minute. Add the zucchini, yellow squash, onion, and remaining juice. Cover and cook for 2–3 minutes. Add the spinach, cover again for 1 minute, then serve.
HOMEMADE TRAIL MIX
Makes 3 cups
1 cup diced dried apricots
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup unsalted dry-roasted almonds
½ cup unsalted dry-roasted sunflower seeds
½ cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts
1 tsp cinnamon
Place all the ingredients in a big glass jar with a lid; shake well until the cinnamon is distributed.
1 cup strawberries cut into quarters
6 oz. nonfat strawberry yogurt
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 cup crushed ice
Freeze the strawberries for at least one hour. Add the frozen strawberries, yogurt, and orange juice into a blender and blend until smooth. Add the crushed ice and blend again.
GREEN TEA SMOOTHIE
1 cup strong green tea
½ cup nonfat plain yogurt
½ cup honeydew melon in chunks
Stevia for sweetness, if desired
After making the tea, cool it and pour into an ice cube tray and freeze. After the tea has frozen, put the cubes in a blender with the yogurt and honeydew and blend until smooth. Add more honeydew if you want a thicker smoothie. Add stevia for sweetness, if desired.
Copyright © 2012 by Lynn Sonberg