Forks Over Knives

29 12 2011

The documentary Forks Over Knives is a life changing hour and a half! If you are on a statin, taking meds for hypertension, have any sort of heart disease, have Type 2 diabetes, have cancer, or want to prevent cancer, then I cannot recommend this movie enough.

Coincidentally, our friend Kelly Browning, Executive Vice President of the American Institute of Cancer Research (AICR), actually knows Dr. Colin Campbell and AICR funded his China study featured in the movie. I’ve provided a link to the AICR website where they offer lots of tips and information on diet and its effect on cancer – they have been researching this topic for years.

You can rent Forks Over Knives from Netflix or go to the website to read about it and order it (link below).

Thoughts About Food

I have a friend who has ovarian cancer. During her chemo, I took her some meals, and one of the meals was grilled flank steak (veggies, salad, bread, too). Her doctors are telling her that the meat is good for her – gives her good protein energy during chemo! In watching Forks Over Knives, I’ve learned that’s one of the worst things she can eat. Also, Dr. Sherry Rogers (Is Your Cardiologist Killing You?) says she has seen many people who have been extremely ill with heart disease or cancer recover completely when they go on a 100% macrobiotic diet (includes no meat). Something to think about!

Cutler watched the movie with me and we are convinced! Enough to never have another steak or cheese pizza? No. I guess we can say that because we are not currently fighting cancer or have debilitating heart disease. However, meat and dairy will definitely be smaller portions on our plate and we are taking the first steps toward a whole foods, plant-centered diet (juicing, smoothies, smaller portions of meat and cheese, etc.). The AICR recommends a “plate” of food that is 2/3 veggie, 1/3 animal based products – we’re going to shoot for that at the minimum. In fact, I have started searching the web for food ideas and found a great “vegetarian starter” website (see below). I’ve also provided a link to Dr. Fuhrman’s Eat to Live website and book. A friend told me about him and he is a great resource, too. If our daughter Devon is reading this, she is amazed!

I am okay with cutting back on animal-based products, but I just can’t bring myself to cut it out completely – Cutler definitely doesn’t want to. For instance, the other day I made twice-baked potatoes for a dinner party. I put in a big glob of silken tofu to help mash the potatoes. The flavor/smell just wasn’t that great. Fortunately, I had planned on putting in regular sour cream and a bit of 1% milk, too, and it covered up the flavor. I also added green onions and smaller amounts of shredded cheddar cheese and cut up bacon, and with little potatoes, the servings weren’t huge. So, one way to look at it is that I did cut down on the normal amount of dairy I would have used but I didn’t eliminate it completely. And we don’t have twice-baked potatoes that often, so I want them to be yummy when I do.

Another example of change is at breakfast. I grew up on milk and cereal and have still eaten it as an adult. Right now, I have successfully cut that out and I’m eating oatmeal or whole grain toast with jam (no butter!) or making a green smoothie!! It’s satisfying. I’ve even made whole grain buckwheat pancakes on the weekend.

P.S. There was no discussion of libations in Forks Over Knives and I’m not asking! Haha!


I am onboard with going more whole foods and plant-based to help extend my life and keep me free from disease. And after just a couple weeks, I’ve already lost a few pounds. But life is for living and enjoying things and good food is one of them. I could be in an accident and then I would never have had another steak or salmon or burger & fries or baked brie – that would be a bummer. So maybe the occasional steak will be the size of a half a deck of cards, butter will be eaten more sparingly, cheese and crackers will be for special occasions, etc. I can do that. I saw the term “flexitarian” the other day and I like it!

I have 100% of control of what I eat when I’m at home. I’m not going to freak out if I’m at somebody’s house and they are serving foods incompatible with my diet lifestyle – I’m going to eat what they serve (I can control the serving size) and I’m going to enjoy it. I always appreciate a dinner invitation! At restaurants these days, they seem to offer something for everyone so that’s easy, too.

The closing line in Forks Over Knives is that you want to “eat to live, not live to eat.” I think if you want to make some changes in your diet and adopt that as your motto, you will be successful! Who knows? You could be a closet vegetarian and not know it!

Get on the “Kale Trail!”

20 12 2011

I love juicing!! That’s not referring to steroids, by the way – it’s all about fruits and vegetables! How did I get started on this? I’m pretty sure Peggy Lockard made a remark on our recent trip that she and John “juice.” Then, when I was strolling through Costco, I spotted the Jack LaLanne Power Juicer and I said to myself, “I’ll give it a try.” So, now I am officially on the “Kale Trail” and Cutler is right there with me.

The Benefits of Juicing

Just about every place you read, 6-8 servings of vegetables and fruits is the recommended daily amount. That’s a hard target to reach. And then, when you cook them, many of the valuable nutrients you want are cooked away, so your servings aren’t as beneficial as they could be. When you juice, it’s a pure nutritional cocktail. So what are some of the benefits?

1. Because the juice requires little digestion, it gets in to your system quickly. And because you are juicing more vegetables and fruit than you would actually eat, you’re getting a densely packed amount of vitamins, minerals, amino acids, enzymes, and other plant-based nutrients. Some recommend drinking the juice at least an hour before any meal, but for me, that doesn’t always work with meal preparation and our schedule.

2. It’s a great way to consume vegetables and fruits that you normally wouldn’t eat raw as a whole food (such as kale, mustard greens, etc.).

3. The antioxidant effects of juices will help detoxify your body and help you eliminate the toxins, fats, preservatives, and chemicals that a diet of processed foods leaves behind in your body. A side benefit of all the nutrients and detoxifying is increased energy.

4. Vegetable juice (fruit juice is acidic) helps alkalize your system (alkaline and PH levels will be the subject of a future article)

5. Some specific juices help relieve symptoms of disease. For example, fresh ginger juice can relieve arthritis pain, cherry juice can ease joint pain caused by gout, and carrot juice can relieve constipation. As well, juicing can boost your immune system.

6. Vegetable juice is an excellent source of chlorophyll (the pigment that gives plants their green color) which in itself is an excellent source of magnesium, aids in gastrointestinal problems, promotes the formation of hemoglobin and red blood cells, treats bad breath, aids in detoxifying toxins that cause cancer, helps assimilate calcium and other minerals, helps fight infections.

The “Risks” of Juicing

In the general scheme of things, the “cons” to juicing are minimal. Store-bought juice has been pasteurized (heated) to kill any “pathogens” such as E. coli, hepatitis, dysentery, etc. It sounds really alarming, but it’s not a hazard that’s singular to juicing. Regardless of whether you juice your vegetables and fruit or eat them whole in salads or side dishes, you need to wash them thoroughly.

Another risk factor of juicing is if you ONLY drink juiced vegetables and fruit (some do it for a cleanse or for a diet), and ignore the other necessities of nutrition such as whole grain, protein, and fiber (which you can also get by eating fruits and vegetables in their whole form), then you are not eating a well-balanced diet and you will get sick.

Likewise, if you ONLY juice a bunch of kale for example, it is possible to get hyperkalemia (too much potassium) – but believe me, you won’t juice only kale – it’s too bitter. The “kale trail” refers to vegetable juicing in general, by the way.

If you’re diabetic, you want to watch the amount of sugars in what you juice to avoid spikes in glucose levels. You also want to watch the calories in fruit juices.

NOTE: You’ll want to drink the juice right away for optimal nutrients (can store in the fridge for up to 24 hours), because the longer it sits the more the nutrients oxidize and dissipate and you don’t want to attract bacteria and stuff.

So, as the saying goes, everything in moderation.

What to Juice?

One of the great things about juicing is that you are able to consume lots of vegetables you wouldn’t normally eat (at least me!) and a lot of them. The purists recommend organic vegetables but frankly, those aren’t always available in a wide variety (at the commissary, for example) and they’re more expensive. Purists also juice only greens and add lemon or lime to cut the taste. That is not up my alley – I have to make it work for me. I always add an apple, carrots, and maybe some grapes to sweeten it up. It truly is delicious. Typically when I juice for me and Cutler, it will be a concoction of a wedge of cabbage, a few whole kale leaves, a few whole collard green leaves, a big handful of spinach, a tomato, a big handful of baby carrots, 2-3 broccoli flowers with stems, a fuji apple, some grapes, and maybe some blackberries. That makes two 8 ounce glasses of juice. Yum!

The list is long and varied but here’s a vast list of fruits and veggies you can juice: celery, fennel, cucumbers, lettuce, spinach, endive, cabbage, bok choy, parsley, cilantro, kale, collard greens, dandelion greens, mustard greens, carrots, beets, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, sweet potatoes and potatoes (cut in little pieces), tomatoes, apples, oranges (peeled), grapes, mangos, blackberries, pears – and the list goes on.

The Bastis Foundation recommends juicing vegetables and fruits separately because they require different digestive processes, except that it is okay to use apples with veggies as a sweetener, and lettuce and celery can be used with either fruits or vegetables.

Keepin’ it Easy!

I’m sure there are a million excuses to avoid using a juicer regularly: another appliance to learn, takes up space, a hassle to clean – you name it. Of course you could let these be obstacles. For me, I have decided the health benefits are worth the extra bit of time. One thing I do after I get all the veggies and fruits home is to wash them all at once – thoroughly, and break them in to pieces. Then I put all the greens in one shopping bag and put in the drawer in the fridge. Each day, I bring out the bag, pick out what I want to juice, then put the bag back – I don’t have to take extra time each day to wash what I’m going to juice. I generally buy a week’s worth of veggies and fruits. Cleaning the juicer is very simple: I bang the pulp out of the top and the collector in to the trash, then I put all the parts in the sink, run the water, use the scrub brush, and put the parts on a towel to dry. Later that night or the next morning, I put it back together and it’s ready to go when I want it. Simple.


I did absolutely no research on the best juicers or anything; I was spur of the moment and just trusted Costco to sell quality products. I am very happy with the Jack LaLanne Power Juicer. (Sometimes the motor slows down or stops, and I just open and reclose the lock handle and it gets going again – motor has a lifetime warranty.) It turns out, there are a lot of juicers on the market and I found a website that has evaluated a wide variety of juicers if you are a more particular shopper (see link below). They certainly come in a wide range of price points from less than a hundred dollars (the Jack LaLanne is $89.99 at Costco in stainless and $109.99 in white at Target) to hundreds of dollars! If you’re not sure juicing is going to be a permanent part of your lifestyle and you just want to give it a try, I think the Jack LaLanne is a great way to get started without committing the big bucks.

Smoothies – For Advanced Juicers

Fiber is the one thing missing when you juice – you throw out all the pulp (also has a bunch of good stuff for you in it). If you’ve been juicing and want to move to the next step or if you want to start out using the whole vegetable, then blenders are the way to go. VitaMix and Blendtec sell really good blenders that will pulverize anything you put in it. So when you put in all your vegetables and fruits, mixed with some water, you get more of a smoothie texture. Also, they make great soups and even ice cream. Again, I was at Costco, and they had an in-store demo of the Blendtec blenders and the demo guy made a vegetable-based smoothie and some soup (fresh whole veggies, avocado, a chunk of cheese, spices, and hot water – I was drinking delicious hot soup in 90 seconds). Did I buy one? Yes!

Because these blenders are expensive (hundreds of dollars), I think they take a real commitment to this kind of food preparation. The GreenSmoothie Girl website, linked below, is a great website. Her personal story of how she cured her son’s asthma with smoothies is both fascinating and encouraging. Her website is basically a “how to” on eating healthily with lots of tips and articles on how to incorporate the blender and smoothie into your diet, do’s and don’t of nutrition, blender “group buy” options, and more.


Well, it’s been a pretty comprehensive discussion of juicing and all my research links are below. I truly love juicing – I just really like the idea of drinking all those nutrients and vitamins! So, I say to you: “Try it, you’ll like it!”