Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Purple News

A research team at Kansas State is breeding a purple sweet potato. Purpleness fights cancer, apparently. Red cabbage has been known for a long time to be beneficial, and blueberries ("blue on the bush, purple on the plate," said George Carlin) helps prevent obesity.
I'm going to apply for an NIH grant to see if watching going to a Prince concert has the same positive health effects.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A billion people can't be wrong

Indian food is great. I don't remember how we got by without it. I've read lots of Indian recipes over the years, but when I try to make them in my own kitchen, I'm frequently stumped by their different way of describing things. But now the intertubes have come to my rescue. An Indian cook named Srivasa has a YouTube channel where he records himself cooking. All those strange words become suddenly clear, when you get to see what object he's holding as he gets to the confusing part of the recipe. These videos make me hungry.
Thanks to the ladies at Vegetarian Cuisine for introducing me to this guy.

Pet Estate Planning

Over at SFvegan, they have coverage of a lecture at the SPCA about including your pets in your estate planning. If you die unexpectedly, you want your pets to be taken care of, right?
We love cats here at Zizania, but let's face facts. If I die unexpectedly, the odds are ten to one that the cats will be standing over my corpse, giving each other high-fours and gloating, "Dude, it worked!" No way would I write them into my will. I want them to be sad at my funeral.

High-protein, low-carb diet. Sound familiar?

David Jenkins, MD, of the University of Toronto, has published a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine, entitled "The Effect of a Plant-Based Low-Carbohydrate ("Eco-Atkins") Diet on Body Weight and Blood Lipid Concentrations in Hyperlipidemic Subjects". They took some patients with high cholesterol and gave them a high-protein plant-based diet. It improved both their cholesterol and triglyceride levels more than the control group. It's not the first suspicion that this might work better than the original Atkins diet did.

If you're suspicious of medical journals because of the influence of corporate money on research, it'll be nice to see that Dr. Jenkins "discloses his ties to Solae [soy-product manufacturer], Unilever, the California Strawberry Commission, the Almond Board of California, and other companies," according to WebMD. Maybe I'm just naive, but I'm not worried about corporate corruption from the Strawberry Commission.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Diet and Nutrition Improves Pre-diabeties Numbers

After attempting changes in dieting and increasing my exercise program over 12 months, it wasn't until I adopted the Zizania nutrition plan that I began to see my glucose numbers go below 100. I attribute the changes to the personal coaching on a weekly basis with Dominique Hoffman. Through her process you receive direct hands on advice on how to shop and cook meals that taste great with healthy and natural food selections. In addition to the reduction in glucose my weight also dropped by about 10 lbs. I noticed my changes occurred within about a 6-8 week timeframe. The Zizania process has worked extremely well for me and I highly recommend it for anyone looking to improve their health and well being!

(Client: Claire) “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels”?

6/25... I’ve always hated this saying, especially since it always seems to be coming from skinny women. But this morning, I may have had an inkling of what it really means. My life is a bit complicated right now, and last night I was convinced that I had at least three good reasons to take a break from my diet. I pondered all the choices of tasty food, the rationalizations for “treating myself”, and then tried to write some new rule in my diet plan that would encompass the occasional bad eating (“once a week”, “once every ten pounds lost”, etc.). I even had an extra glass of wine at a social outing so I could add “drunkenness” to the list of reasons that I wouldn’t be responsible for a slip. Luckily I realized that I was so tired from a very long day that crawling into bed would also be a treat, so I did that ASAP. When I woke up this morning, I realized how close I came to sabotaging myself and was really glad that I had not. After all, this whole diet shift is about treating my body better, and so eating stuff that I know to be bad for me is not really “treating myself” at all, is it? So as I headed into another harder-than-average day today, I was glad for the experience and the awareness—I had said no to an intense momentary need in favor of my long-term need, even though I couldn’t grasp the long-term need at the time. I loaded my little red cooler (which is more important to me now than a purse!) with soy pita, red pepper hummus, almonds and clemetines to tote around all day. And I decided to treat myself to a Coke Zero; I’ve been avoiding soft drinks, even diet ones, so the sweet fizziness was a great way to treat myself without triggering a return to my old eating habits. While I hope I’ll never parrot “Nothing tastes as good as thin feels”, I can say that nothing tastes as good as mindfulness of and respect for your long term health feels.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


"You health nuts are going to feel stupid someday, lying in hospitals dying of nothing." -- Redd Foxx

(Client: Claire) Be prepared…

6/23... Today I was driving around doing errands, my morning oatmeal was wearing off and I was really hungry. As a former fast food junkie, I found myself having to control a LOT of impulses—and needing to find something good to eat! I ducked into Safeway and did my first shopping in a major chain since I’ve been on my new diet. I read the labels and bought more than a dozen options for instant meals, plus I got to munch on some Veggie Booty on the way home. But when I got home and made one of the veggie burgers, I realized that these pre-packaged foods were not nearly as tasty as what Dominique’s been making for me. The lesson for me was to be prepared, or jeopardize what I’ve accomplished! Tomorrow I’m spending much of the day in a hospital while my mother has surgery, which could be a no-choices, stress-eating nightmare. So I packed a lunch and lots of snacks to take with me.

Monday, June 22, 2009

(Client: Claire) Energy!

6/22... I’m not a runner; I don’t run unless something is chasing me. Don’t you watch CSI? It’s always the joggers who find the dead bodies. But I digress. On Saturday night, I ran about a half mile… chasing a dog. When one of my dogs is loose and in danger, the endorphins kick in and I MOVE. But on Saturday night, I made the sprint without feeling like I was going to die. And the next day, I felt fine. How is this possible? I’ve only been with Zizania a little over a week, I’ve only lost a few pounds, and (despite Dominique’s suggestion) I’ve not made it back into the gym yet. It was really puzzling me. Then it hit me—for the first time in years, my body is nourished! I am actually giving it the fuel it needs to go. This shouldn’t be a revelation—Dominique talks about properly nourishing the body at every session. But actually experiencing the benefits was incredible. Last night I took the dogs for a brisk 1.5 mile walk and ended less winded than the dogs—something that was out of reach two weeks ago. It was pure happiness.

(Client: Claire) More Challenges

6/20... On Thursday and Friday, I overcame two challenges that worried me. First, my weekly networking meeting where there is a pre-fixe menu with no options that worked for me. I took a waiter aside before the lunch and asked nicely if he’d bring me a plain garden salad with dressing on the side, and fruit for dessert. When the salad arrived, I pulled a small Tupperware out of my briefcase that had cubed, pre-cooked “Roma” flavored tofu and sunflower seeds. My salad was fantastic; nothing at that table looked better to me. And when I was enjoying my fresh fruit, I thought that those who were picking at their cake might be wishing that they had fruit too! Friday night we went to a concert at Wolftrap, a treat that usually includes a fantastic collection of cheeses and crackers. Plus, whatever I was eating would be shared with a friend—would she balk at the food choices? I made Dominique’s potato salad and some hummus, and brought some almonds and sweet apples. I hadn’t had bread in a long time, but Dominique said that pita bread would be fine. So I also brought pita bread and kalamata olives, and my friend brought watermelon. It was a delicious! Everything we ate was Dominique-approved, but I had a couple things on the menu that were a real treat. And to my delight, my friend was pretty happy too.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Pasta mit Erdnuß

Many years ago, I went on a tour of the Rhineland in Germany. In the pre-internet days, it wasn't so easy to find veg*n restaurants within reach of tourist destinations. It was a rare opportunity when we could even find a salad bar. Now, though, with a few minutes of research, a traveler in Germany isn't doomed to an endless parade of Schnitzel and fries. (OK, actually the fries were uniformly excellent.) And I can keep my (dubious) German skills up to date without traveling. Here's a recipe that's almost identical to one of Zizania's most popular dishes. The seasoning is a bit simpler, but the flavor is international. Zizania also makes it with mushrooms. Guten appetit!

Veggie Uprising

Rebecca Clement has a warning for us. How long do you think we can get away with eating plants, before they catch on?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Vegan Bake Sales

There are a couple of vegan bake sales coming up in Northern Virginia in the next week or so. Tomorrow, June 20th, there's one in Reston at the Community Center. Saturday, June 27th, the Falls Church Community Center (at left) hosts another one. These are organized by Compassion for Animals. Let us know what you find!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

whole grain

A couple of weeks ago I discovered amaranth and made a dish with it for the first time. OMG, it was amazing. I could not believe that such a little seed could taste so good and be so chewy and have so much, well, ... character. Then I tried millet. Same delightful experience. I can't wait to try spelt. I will post a recipe once I come up with one that will please everyone.

(Client: Claire) Rejoining Real Life

Changing what you eat within the confines of your home is one thing; walking into the same restaurants you always frequented and ordering something different is a little harder. My lunch appointment today was at Nicholl’s and Scheffler, a wonderful café/catering place at King & Henry Streets in Old Town Alexandria. They know me there, and I told them I was eating ‘vegan’… without blinking, chef Lou pointed me towards their roasted vegetables, faro dish, and red potato salad. It was DELICIOUS. My lunch date was eating a roast beef salad and remarked a couple of times that she wished she got what I had. Then I went to the coffee shop “Buzz” and asked for vegan options. Nothing, they said. But I ordered a soymilk latte and a fruit cup, and had my ‘coffee meeting’ needs satisfied. (I also suggested to them that their signature granola, bound with a little honey, would make an excellent vegan cookie.) Dominique and I had a wonderful conversation tonight—she’s really truly happy to see me feeling so much better and losing weight already (6 pounds). And she’s helping me prepare for some upcoming challenges. Next week contains a family visit that is likely to cause stress, plus my first concert at Wolftrap without cheese and crackers. She mentioned recipes that I can’t wait to try!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

grilled tempeh

this is very easy but it takes time for the marinade to penetrate the tempeh.
  • 1 block of tempeh
  • juice of 1 ripe lime
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1 t garlic powder
  • 1 t cider vinegar
  • 1/4 rice vinegar or mirin
  • 1/4 c olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove crushed
  • 1 T tequila
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 T freshly ground cumin
  • 1/4 t red pepper flakes
Mix all ingredients except tempeh and put into the shallow rectangular bowl. Cut tempeh into 1/2 in strips. Add the tempeh to the bowl of marinade, cut side down so the sauce penetrates faster. Let stand for 45 minutes, turn the tempeh pieces to soak the other side. Let stand for 1 hour. The sauce should be almost entirely absorbed. Throw on the grill and cook till brown, about 10 minutes on each side. Enjoy as finger food, as an addition to fajitas, or in a pita bread with greens, cucumber and tomato. Or on top of a salad instead of chicken.

White House Gardening

Michelle Obama's organic garden on the White House grounds is famous. Today she hosted a Harvest Party for the 5th-graders who helped her plant it. Lunch all around. I applaud Ms. Obama's efforts to improve child nutrition, and wish her every success.
Now, I have two questions for her.
1. Wouldn't lunch have been better without the chicken?
2. How on earth did you start that garden in March? My garden is only about 10 miles from yours, and in March the ground was still frozen. We didn't have our last frost until almost April. (OK, I'm just jealous.)

Speedy dessert

This recipe takes seconds to prepare and is unforgettable.
  • 1 or 2 scoops of vanilla ice cream. I like Rice dream or Soy Joy
  • 1 t rum
  • 1 T frozen or fresh raspberries
Put the ice cream in a bowl, pour the raspberries on top and pour the rum all over. Bon Appetit!

(Client: Claire) Committing Out Loud

After you’ve done enough diets, you decide you don’t really want to announce it to the world when you start a new one. If you’re starting ‘yet another diet’, chances are that you’ve failed the previous one and will fail this one too. But committing out loud is often a good step—when I told a dear friend about the decision to work with Dominique, she embraced me and teared up. “You deserve this” she whispered, and I had to agree.

Last night I mentioned the eating change to my brother. He’s seven years younger than I am and has been a vegetarian for at least five years. (It might not be a coincidence that he chose the lifestyle while managing a major chain steakhouse.) It always impressed me that he stuck to his guns but didn’t proselytize, so I was a little excited once I started telling him about this choice I’d made for my own health. I was also excited to learn that he too had noticed the lethargy that came with eating meat, and that it was part of his decision to quit (he still remembers his last meat meal and how he felt afterwards).

My brother also counseled me on what tofu to buy and how to cook it so it’s palatable. I found this the MOST exciting, because I always assumed that your taste buds had to die to happily eat a vegetarian diet. I actually know a lot of vegetarians and vegans who like tasty food, and I will be collecting recipes from all of you!

DISCLAIMER: I reserve the right to eat a tasty steak once a year. It’ll probably make me sick, but I’ll savor it anyway. Carnivorousness dies hard.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

(Client: Claire) Shopping with New Eyes

Dominique’s food is great, but I have only made a few recipes thus far and really need a little variety. After many, many fleeting thoughts of fast and easy (and bad) food from my pre-Dominique life, I decided that Sushi was a winner—a treat for me and something Dominique mentioned as an acceptable occasional meal. I decided to combine it with a trip to Trader Joe’s , because I needed a couple of staples (olive oil, vinegar, salt) and some produce. Trader Joe’s is a healthy place, but those of us looking for bad stuff can always find it—so I needed to not be hungry when I arrived and to have a ‘prize’ in hand when I left. I ate some potato salad mid afternoon and went to TJ’s at dinner time.

Cruising around TJ’s with new eyes was amazing. I saw different vinegars to use in salads, hummus made with white beans, ‘orange cranberries’ to put in my oatmeal, mini Portobello mushrooms that screamed to be paired with wild rice, and more. And I was able to walk past of lot of my ‘regular’ items that are no longer on my diet, because there were things that I wanted to buy that were okay—like Baba Ganoush, a baby watermelon, and lemonade (to make Arnold Palmers). I also bought a couple of items that I would never let myself buy before because I didn’t know how to buy them or how to eat them—almond butter, peanut butter, sunflower seeds. It sounds strange, but after so many years of shunning nut butters as a “not for fatties” rule, a celery stalk with some peanut butter will be a decadent late afternoon pick-me-up. (But now I know not to buy the stuff with all the additives, not to pair it with crackers or bread, and not to overdose on it.)

To my surprise, I left Trader Joe’s happy rather than deprived. I had a couple of treats, the makings of meals I looked forward to eating, a new concept of the store’s offerings, and hope to make it through another day.

(Client: Claire) Ugly Monday

(6/16) Today has been harder than I thought it would be: my first normal workday without the emotional retreat or excuse of food. It’s amazing to look at all the ways food impacts my life, other than nutrition. So today, every time I was hungry, I ate something yummy from the fridge. Normally, “quittin’ time” would be when I look around, starving, then find something unhealthy to eat, and then crash from the overload of calories, carbs, whatever. But Dominique stressed not depriving myself, so I decided to eat good stuff until full. I just had some cucumber salad, which was much more satisfying than I thought it would be. Then I was still snacky, so I grabbed a handful of almonds. I’m not feeling ravenous anymore! So now I have an opportunity to make non-panicky decisions about dinner. There’s salmon in the fridge, which isn’t really on the diet, but I’m not going to let it go to waste. I’ll steam some asparagus to go with it. And I see a sugar craving on the horizon, but I have some all-natural fruit strips if that happens.

Lunch with a customer today

I invited a "potential" customer to lunch today. He said he liked Asian flavours, so I made pasta in peanut and coconut milk sauce and for dessert we had freshly made raw apple sauce. He was surprised that he could eat pasta even though he had diabetes. I explained to him that the carbohydrate restriction the doctors recommend is so he could live with diabetes. What I do is try to reverse it completely. This is what he wrote to me the next day: "Thanks for the wonderful lunch, it was wonderful. I felt energized for the rest of the day". If you want to understand how this works, please read Dr. Bernard's book "Reversing Diabetes" he does a very good job at explaining what type 2 diabetes is and how to reverse it with a change in diet.

Monday, June 15, 2009

(Client: Claire) Breaking Habits

Today has been harder than I thought it would be: my first normal workday without the emotional retreat or excuse of food. It’s amazing to look at all the ways food impacts my life, other than nutrition. So today, every time I was hungry, I ate something yummy from the fridge. Normally, “quittin’ time” would be when I look around, starving, then find something unhealthy to eat, and then crash from the overload of calories, carbs, whatever. But Dominique stressed not depriving myself, so I decided to eat good stuff until full. I just had some cucumber salad, which was much more satisfying than I thought it would be. Then I was still snacky, so I grabbed a handful of almonds. I’m not feeling ravenous anymore! So now I have an opportunity to make non-panicky decisions about dinner. There’s salmon in the fridge, which isn’t really on the diet, but I’m not going to let it go to waste. I’ll steam some asparagus to go with it. And I see a sugar craving on the horizon, but I have some all-natural fruit strips if that happens. No, this isn't the first time I've had to struggle through a day of a new diet, but it's much easier knowing hat I can talk to Dominique about why and how the plan doesn't work for me. And knowing that she will let me be honest and forgive me!

(Client: Claire) "Making Food for Myself"

How I managed to turn a table full of stuff into delicious meals is baffling. And the fact that I spent a few hours doing food prep is astounding. But Mondays are terrible and I wanted to be prepared not to have any excuses. I made potato salad, a “rough” hummus, cucumber salad, garlic mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes. “Rough” Hummus may have another better name but until I know it, I’ll pretend that it’s something I invented. I love hummus but I hate chick peas. So when Dominique gave me some chick pea salad the previous week, I just stared at it for days. I knew it had all the good stuff in there, but I had a four-year-old mentality of “not gonna eat that”. Finally, I pulled out the blender—and made it look like hummus. SO GOOD. So good in fact that I wanted to duplicate it—but this time, I blended the chick peas with a little garlic water and tahini and then stirred in diced parsley and roma tomatoes, with a few kalamata olives on top. Can’t wait to eat it!

(Client: Claire) "No Funnel Cakes"

By Sunday morning my stash of healthy food was gone, and I was ready to panic. I had people to see, places to go, and no time to cook; I was hungry but afraid to make a bad decision. So I decided to go to MOM’s (My Organic Market) and pick up all the produce I’d seen Dominique turn into tasty meals. (It still seemed like magic to me since I don’t cook, but I was operating on faith.) I got everything I needed, and then had to go back in for tofu. I thought I hated Tofu, but I am a carnivore through and through, and I’ll need a meat substitute for awhile. Apparently, I just don’t know how to cook tofu! I picked up some pre-cooked and seasoned stuff that I can quickly add to chopped salads. I was heading to a street festival that day, and the food choices there would be terrible. So I quickly assembled a chopped cabbage salad with tofu and toasted almonds, and ate until I was full. And it worked! People ate around me all day and I wasn’t even tempted. At the end of the day, I decided I wanted one of the crabcakes from a nearby vendor—best crabcakes anywhere—and I got one. It was really a healthy choice, but seemed like the most amazing treat. And I was so grateful that this new way of eating had given me such freedom on this challenging day that I was excited to move forward. I stopped on the way home to pick up a good chef’s knife.

(Client: Claire) "First Cooking Lesson"

My first cooking session was Friday afternoon, and I was exhausted. The week, the heat, and my general lack of energy made me think that I’d be suffering through the 2-hours instead of soaking up the info and getting excited about the first day of the rest of my life. But when I got into the kitchen and saw the pot of potatoes on the stove, I was heartened. I LOVE potatoes. No diet I’ve ever had has included a big pot of potatoes, and seeing it made me believe I had a chance. We made an Asian cabbage dish with tofu, potato salad, mashed potatoes and a tropical smoothie. Simply tasting each of these as we prepared them really filled me up. And as a special surprise, Dominique gave me a “crème brulee” which was actually made with pineapple! Delicious. So We chatted and cooked, and had a great time, and I left with many little containers of the three dishes we had cooked. And I’ll be honest-- I had thought that when I left I might swing by KFC or McDs to have a last fling meal. But all the discussion we’d had about what the food industry puts in prepared food, plus looking forward to tasting that potato salad again got me home without stopping. Dinner was very satisfying, and I didn’t wake up tired the next morning for the first time in a while.

(Client: Claire) "Starving?"

At my kickoff meeting with Dominique, I was drinking a sugary frozen drink from the café. I was ashamed to be doing so, but as usual I was exhausted. I was surprised when Dominique didn’t judge me; she simply asked what I’d eaten in the previous day or two. I told her, and was shocked by her response: “You’re starving.” She proceeded to explain how the very little nutrition from the food I was eating wasn’t being processed properly, so I could fill my belly constantly and still be suffering from malnutrition. The intense cravings were to be expected, she said, and would subside as I learned to eat properly. I processed all she had said over the next few days—and found that I could not wait to begin my program.

(client: Claire) "Getting Started"

My name is Claire, I am 37 years old and I weigh 120 pounds more than ‘the chart’ says I should. I’ve always been big, but I’ve done enough energetic stuff that I thought ‘a couple extra pounds’ wouldn’t affect me too much. But now I’m closing in on 40, fighting with diabetes, and noticing physical limitations that affect my choice of activities. It’s time for me to get healthy, and give myself the freedom I’ve always wanted and deserved. Why did I choose Dominique to guide me through this huge life change? There are a LOT of nutritionists out there, and I’ve done a lot of different programs. But with all that I know about nutrition—and trust me, repeat dieters tend to know a lot about nutrition—Dominique was able to tell me things right away about the way my body processes food that really made me think. Plus she makes lots of Mediterranean food, which I love, and is French—so I assume she has a taste for delicious food.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Tacos for Dinner

Tonight at the Zizania household, dinner is tacos made from refried beans (12 oz.), corn tortillas (12), salsa (half a jar), lettuce from the garden (about 20 leaves), and alfalfa sprouts (1 pkg.). Some hot sauce, added to taste. This is gluten-free, nearly fat-free, guilt-free, and it keeps the Webmaster properly fed.
Corn tortillas seem to be ignored these days. Flour tortillas have taken over. I've recently talked to people who didn't even know there were soft corn tortillas. That's a real shame, because tortillas are the reason ancient Native Americans worked so hard breeding corn. Some of the best food this continent ever produced.
Total meal preparation time was just 20 minutes. That last part was critical -- we were driving all over the mountains today, buying a new brush hog. Sometimes after 8 or 9 hours in the office, I feel tired. Nothing like schlepping 500 lbs. of steel around the countryside, though. Today, easy recipes were mandatory.


Hello! Zizania Diet and Nutrition Coaching is now on blogspot.com !
Who are we? Zizania provides coaching in diet and nutrition for individuals

  • who are overweight, or
  • who suffer from Lupus, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, or cancer, or
  • who want to change their diet to achieve optimal health, or
  • who want to lower their footprint on the environment.

We can do this by teaching you a new way to buy and prepare food.

When we decide to buy a car or a house, we do research by comparing prices and quality. We read a collection of materials, we ask questions, until we find exactly the model, size, shape, and price that we want. But when it comes to eating, we go for convenience and price. We often forget that whatever we put in our mouths will shape how we feel, how we age, and what kind of body and ailments we will have in the future. (Of course, diet isn't everything. The quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink, our stress level, and heredity all play a role in shaping our health. But diet is one of the easiest things to fix.)

Zizania's answer to this common 21st-century problem is education in food consumption. We show you how to prepare delicious, easy, and quick every day meals that are nutritious and affordable. We encourage our customers to get most of the nutrients they need from food instead of supplements. Our bodies are well equipped to digest food but are inefficient at metabolizing nutrients contained in pills. We work with our customers hand in hand to create customized plant based meals to satisfy both their hunger and their taste buds.

We provide our customers with tools to succeed and stay there. Aside from our coaches' extensive knowledge, there are books, magazines, websites, and local organizations specialized in different areas related to food, health, and nutrition. We put a plethora of information at our customers' finger tips. And if anything is unclear we provide one-on-one support free of charge.

This blog is for Zizania coaches to post things we'd like the world to know, for our clients to tell their stories, and for anyone who loves food and ethical eating to join in a conversation.