The Expanding Circle

…health, the environment, and social justice…

  • Categories

  • Archives

  • Meta

  • Advertisements

Archive for December, 2009

King Arthur’s Wheat Bread

Posted by tinako on December 31, 2009

I’m at my in-laws, far away.  I did my menu list thing and arrived for a three-day visit with a grocery bag and small cooler of food, focusing on stuff I knew it was harder to find here or which I would only need a small amount of.  Oh, I brought a shopping bag of collard greens from my Dad’s garden – they have been under snow but still look great – thanks, Dad!  I made a very simple dinner for nine people for our third “Christmas”: Lentil Soup, King Arthur’s Wheat Bread, and Brownies of My Dreams.  My husband’s grandmother made a wonderful salad.

We’ll use the collard greens in a big meal tomorrow.


Posted in Menus | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Tamale Pie and Brownies

Posted by tinako on December 28, 2009

Today there was a potluck at my parents’, so I brought Tamale Pie and Brownies of My Dreams.

Posted in Menus | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Miso and Sushi

Posted by tinako on December 28, 2009

I brought a very simple meal to my parents’ house today: Impromptu Miso Soup, brown rice, and microwaved broccoli, and Spicy Tempeh Sushi.  The sushi also had various combinations of avocado, carrot, and mushroom.

Posted in Menus | Tagged: , | 1 Comment »

Christmas Dinner

Posted by tinako on December 25, 2009

Spiced Carrot and Orange Soup

This might be the biggest meal I have ever pulled off, and there was pretty much no advance planning since I haven’t been feeling well.  So as a labor of vegan love, I spent all morning doing this:

Braided Sweet Potato Bread

I took the sweet potatoes I had cooked last night and mashed them for Braided Sweet Potato Bread dough.  I made Spiced Carrot and Orange Soup.  Then I took the rice I cooked last night and made Wild Rice Pilaf with Apples and Pecans.  I prepared a Lentil Loaf.  I made Cranberry Sauce.

Wild Rice Pilaf with Apples

I loaded all that stuff, some cooked and some not, plus three pounds of blue potatoes, a mystery squash, a packet of Hains Vegetarian Gravy mix, and chocolate chips, into an enormous basket and lugged it over to my parents’ house.

Groovy Blue Mashed Potatoes

I got to relax a few hours, and then I formed and baked the bread and lentil loaf, made Mashed Potatoes, prepared the gravy and heated up the soup and pilaf.


I also cooked the Squash.  To do that I split it in half, removed seeds and loose goop, placed it cut-side down in a pan with an inch of water, baked at 375 for 40-50 min until very tender, scooped out the good stuff, used an electric hand mixer on it, and added sugar and salt to taste.

Chocolate Chip Cake

For dessert I made a Chocolate Chip Cake.

Posted in Menus | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Lasagna Rollups

Posted by tinako on December 24, 2009

Lasagna Rollups

I made our typical weekend dinner tonight for Christmas Eve: Lasagna Rollups, whole wheat Penne Marinara, Focaccia, and microwaved fresh green beans.  I added a couple sliced mushrooms to the lasagna filling this time.

I had foolishly volunteered to make Christmas dinner, so I also boiled some sweet potatoes and cooked some brown and wild rice to prepare.

Posted in Menus | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »


Posted by tinako on December 23, 2009

I made Apple Cinnamon Muffins this morning for breakfast.  They didn’t last long.

I made pizza for dinner.  My side had broccoli, mushrooms, banana peppers, red pepper flakes, Gimme Lean “sausage,” and olives.

Posted in Menus | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Miso Soup

Posted by tinako on December 22, 2009

Miso Soup, Brown Rice, and Swiss Chard

I read up on miso soup a little in an old issue of Vegetarian Journal (the magazine of Vegetarian Resource Group, permanent link is to the right).  Here is the article.  So I really had no idea what I was doing the other day when I made miso soup, but it was good anyway, so I made it for dinner tonight the same way.  I looked and the miso I use is Shiro Miso, so it is sweeter and good for winter, but shouldn’t be used with salty seaweed.  Good to know.

The article says that in Japan a very common meal is miso soup, rice, and vegetables.  So that is what I did tonight.

We went to the last Winter Farmer’s Market (ironically only one day into “winter”) but the pickings were somewhat slim and we only came home with purple potatoes.

Posted in Menus | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Black Beans

Posted by tinako on December 21, 2009

Corn Cake, Black Beans, Vegetables, Rice

Here’s tonight’s dinner: leftover Southwestern Black Beans and brown rice pulled from the freezer, Corn Cake, and microwaved corn, carrots, and peas.

Posted in Menus | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Ginger Tea

Posted by tinako on December 20, 2009

I only made two things today, Pancakes with leftover Blueberry Syrup, and Ginger Tea.  My daughter had an upset stomach, so I found this recipe and gave it a try.  I sweetened it with a little agave nectar.  We both liked the smell and taste.

Posted in Menus | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

The China Study 8 – Studies I’m Not Interested In

Posted by tinako on December 20, 2009

I have been adding studies on a vegan diet’s effect on common diseases to my disease postings, and found I was rejecting some, and I want to talk a little about why, because I think it gets to the heart of why we are so confused about diet.  Many of these ideas I was introduced to in The China Study, by Dr. T. Colin Campbell.  I’m just a reader, not a doctor.

Reason number one for rejecting a study is that they lump vegetarians all together.  To outsiders, we may all seem the same, but the diet of a regular lacto-ovo vegetarian is usually quite cheesy and eggy.  Just take a look at any commercial specialty vegetarian products or the vegetarian menu in a typical restaurant – unless they’re going out of their way to be vegan, it will have cheese in it just as a matter of habit.  A study that just asks people, “Do you eat meat?” is not getting to the heart of the problem.  The study really needs to look at overall animal product consumption, and any macro-nutrients such as saturated fat need to be broken into plant and animal sources.  Even independent of animal product intake, different types of vegetarians can have vastly different diets that I would expect to have an impact on disease as well.  A vegetarian eating lots of refined grains, french fries, soda, cookies and cakes, etc., is going to have different health from someone who is eating whole grains and lots of fruits and vegetables.  Even whole grains don’t really have many antioxidants – eat your veggies!  I’d still be interested to know what the impact of less animal products is, but a study that combines us is ignoring the very large protective effect of the healthy foods that a good vegan or semi-vegan diet is based on.  A study that lumps us together and concludes that eating less meat doesn’t improve health much (ignoring what is eaten more of), is not that helpful.  What we really need to see is what is the effect of eating less animal products (down to zero) and, independently, what is the effect of eating more whole grains, fruits and veggies (from zero up to lots).

Even if a study with this problem does find an improvement for vegetarians, it just isn’t what I’m looking for.  I think we all know that eating less meat and eating more plants is good for our health.  I don’t need to waste your or my time repeating that.  I am interested in studies that show what happens when you reduce total animal products towards zero.

This brings me to the second type of study I’m not interested in.  Studies like the famous Nurse’s Study, referenced ubiquitously as the gold standard of nutritional studies, and yet not very helpful because it compares women who eat way too much meat to women who eat way, way, way too much meat.  Their average protein intake is 19% of calories, compared with the U.S. average of 15-16% and the U.S. RDA of 9-10% [p.274].  More importantly, 78-86% of the nurses’ high level of protein comes from animals, compared to 70% for the U.S. (and 10% in China); even those nurses eating the lowest amount of total protein get 79% of it from animals[*].   It is not particularly surprising if not much benefit is to be had by merely eating poorly instead of very poorly, so I don’t put much stock in studies based on nurse’s data (or similar poor western diets) that draw conclusions that cutting back on meat doesn’t reduce risk of this or that disease.  I don’t want to indulge in circular reasoning, but if these studies don’t show improvement with eating less meat and more plants, which I believe is fairly well established, perhaps instead of disproving any correlation, they just prove that once you’re eating that poorly, you might as well go all out.  What would be more useful would be to put a random group of those nurses on a diet with much lower animal product intake.

I’m also not particularly interested in studies that follow one particular food, such as soy (or even worse, a micro-nutrient such as selenium) against one particular disease.  I don’t want to live the kind of life where I am constantly trying to remember the chemical components of the individual whole foods I eat.  I’m vegan for ethical reasons, so I eliminate animal products based on that; other than that, I just go for a variety.  If you read my blog a lot, you know I do not spend time in postings telling you how this meal is really high in calcium or folic acid or something.  I just find that confusing and boring.  I stick with the level of food groups over the course of the day – did I get in my legumes today?  How many servings of veggies did I work in?  I’m aware of the foods that are higher in calcium, and I make a point to choose them, and I eat lots of greens because they’re super healthy (and I like them), but that’s about it.   I guess I see those types of nutrient-disease studies as looking for a shortcut.  “Let’s isolate a chemical in this plant that prevents this disease,” they seem to say, “and then we can put it in a pill or powder so people can continue to eat junk, but they’ll die of some other preventable disease instead of this one.”  I just don’t see the point and I’d rather think about something else.

I’d like to take a moment here to express another point that Dr. Campbell made in his book.  I couldn’t find it in the index, but he said something to the effect that there could be 19 studies showing that a certain diet reduces disease, but if there is one study that shows no correlation, the whole issue is often called “controversial.”  It’s not that that one study said the diet increased disease, just that it seemed to have no effect.   I think a reasonable person would feel that one study was suspect, and that probably the 19 studies were right, but labeling it controversial, while not entirely truthful, is helpful to someone with an agenda.  Sometimes the agenda is business, and sometimes it is just keeping the status quo.  So that is another thing to look out for when you’re looking into diet and disease.

Speaking of agendas, we have to be careful not to throw out the truth with any perceived bias.  I hope that readers will not dismiss my words just because I would like everyone to be vegan.  That would be an ad hominem fallacy.  Ignore who I am, and just look at what I say.  Is it the truth?

Posted in Disease | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »