Sunday, September 9, 2012

Vegan Eggplant Ricotta Spinach Casserole (Gluten- and Soy Free Variations too)

Everything's coming up eggplants! I had 4 huge eggplants ready at once in the garden, and I wanted to use them in different ways. Here's one of the recipes, a layered casserole with oven-fried eggplant, spinach, ricotta, and tomato sauce. It's sort of a take on eggplant parm, or maybe eggplant lasagna (sans the noodles).

I typically avoid multi-step recipes like this because I'm so busy, but there's something about crispy, breaded eggplant that is so irresistible. That said, I wanted to avoid the excess fat you get from frying (not to mention the mess), so I did a little low-fat trick that I'll share with you here.

Here's how you make this gluten- and soy-free: Use GF breadcrumbs in place of the pankos, and use cashew cream (consistency of yogurt to sour cream) for the dipping mixture. Omit the ricotta layer.

Eggplant Ricotta Spinach Casserole
  • 1 large eggplant
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 cup unsweetened plain soy yogurt
  • 1/2 cup soy mayo
  • 1/4 cup vegan sour cream
  • 2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp vegan parmesan of your choice (optional)
  • 2 tsp seasoned salt
  • 10-oz box frozen spinach, thawed
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped basil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 container Tofutti ricotta
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 jar tomato sauce or pasta sauce of your choice
  • 1/2 package Daiya mozz shreds

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Slice the eggplant into 1/4 inch slices. Stir together the yogurt, mayo, and sour cream (or use cashew cream; I would have used cashew cream but Ben is allergic). Blend together the bread crumbs, 2 Tbsp Italian seasoning, nutritional yeast, parma, and seasoned salt. Dip the eggplant in the creamy mixture (or brush it on) and shake off any excess. You want just enough to coat the breadcrumbs, not a thick coating. Dip eggplant into the panko mixture and place on a cookie sheet that has been sprayed with nonstick cooking spray (Pam now makes an organic canola variety, did you see it?). Place in the oven. Turn each piece after 15 minutes; bake another 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, blend spinach with the basil, salt, and lemon juice. Set aside. Squish the ricotta around the bowl well (the consistency will change from stiff to creamy eventually) and add the 2 tsp Italian seasoning.

In a 14x9 inch casserole dish, coat the bottom with a layer of tomato sauce. Add a layer of the eggplant (use half). Add the spinach layer (spread out evenly). Add the ricotta layer (spread out evenly). Add another eggplant layer. Add another sauce layer. Sprinkle the mozz on top evenly.

Bake, covered with foil, at 425 for about 20 minutes. Take foil off and bake another 20 minutes or so, or until cheese just starts to brown.

This is a pretty low-fat version of a usually very rich dish. The secret to a moist and flavorful eggplant is the yogurt mixture, which gets sealed in by the breadcrumb coating.

Here's what the oven-fried eggplant looks like:

This is a wonderful leftover. It's wonderful in a salad, sandwich, or wrap. I'm going to make Eggplant Rollatini!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Eating out of the summer garden

This is the kind of meal that screams "SUMMER"! Here are just of the few things we had for dinner tonight, and almost all of it came out of my veggie garden.

The best plate was definitely the eggplant-tomato-basil platter in the front. The Japanese eggplant plant only yielded one little eggplant this week, not enough to make a real eggplant dish. So I sliced it into thin rings and pan fried them in a little high-quality olive oil, and finished with sea salt and fresh ground pepper. Japanese eggplant is so yummy -- you can eat the skins (they turn a lovely lavender color) and the flavor is nice and mild. I arranged the cooked eggplant on the plate, and surrounded it with plum tomato slices. I then sprinkled on coarsely chopped fresh basil, and drizzled a little balsamic glaze on top. We gobbled that up fast!

The salad in the back features my sugar-sweet cherry tomatoes (which Emily eats like grapes), some leftover chickpeas, cucumber, and fresh parsley. It was dressed simply with a squeeze of lemon, salt, and pepper. The salad on the right is a combination of arugula (I can't seem to have enough arugula!) and baby spinach, with cucumber, carrot, and yellow baby bell tomatoes (um yes that's THREE kinds of tomatoes in one meal!). I paired that salad with a bit of homemade hummus and edamame dip (on the left). The edamame dip comes from my friend Alma Schneider -- check out her recipe on her blog. Everyone LOVES this dip (especially Emily) -- I make it every week.

On another note... this is the kind of meal that I think of when carnivores ask, "What do vegans eat?" and they think vegan diets are so boring, or complicated. This is so flavorful, so delicious, and it's not even fancy cuisine. Just simple, whole, fresh plant foods.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Picky toddler? Just Chill.

My first child, Ben, ate pretty much everything I put in front of him. Everyone told me that I was lucky. I thought, no, this isn't about luck; this is about good parenting and my oodles of nutrition experience! Now, with my second, Emily, who's almost 2, I'm starting to change my tune. Not a lover of veggies, she's a stubborn little thing!

What to do? I stick with the advice I've given others over the years: Chill. Don't show a single iota of emotion when your child refuses to eat something. That is how the battle of the wills takes over. And slowly but surely, your child will start eating veggies.


Provide a veggie on the plate, every. single. day. Ideally both at lunch and dinner, but at LEAST one. Do raw (if child can chew it). Do cooked. Do dips. Do plain. Do sauced. Do steamed. It doesn't matter. Just put it there. The repeated exposure is very important for success in the long run.

Be matter-of-fact. "That's BOCKIE! I no like BOCKIE!" "Okay," says you. "No broccoli. So. How about those Yankees?" Refuse to engage in a battle. Then you have already won half of it!

Practice a little reverse psychology. Emily loves poking her nose in my food, saying, "Wanna taste it!" She does this with pretty much everything I eat, even salad. When I willingly share, she usually spits it out with an "I-don-like-it." So I say, "No, these are MY vegetables, you HAD your lunch," or something similar, and I hoard it with some serious drama. This gets her to really want what I'm eating, so after a few "No, this is mine"'s, eventually I'll give in, say, "Ok, ok, you win, you win!" and hand over something. And from this little technique I now have a little lover of red bell pepper (even raw!), cherry tomatoes, and tofu (which she endearingly calls "tofut" as in, "toe foot").

Do not force your child to eat. As frustrating as it is to see your delicious sauteed asparagus grow cold, wilted, and wrinkled on your child's place, let it go. When your child is done eating, take it away and move on. It's ok to eat it yourself, as in, "MMM Thank you! More for me!"

Be a role model. Eat your veggies. Enjoy them. Show your child that it's just what we do.

Dine out regularly, if it's within your budget. No matter how much I cook, my food will never come close to tasting as yummy as food at our local Asian joint. Order a few different things and put a little of everything on your child's plate. This is a powerful technique. It exposes children to new foods; it adds a bit of excitement to meals; it provides a sense of adventure around food. There's nothing cuter than watching a 1 1/2-year-old eating sweet potato tempura sushi. And speaking of dining out with little ones, can I please share a little pet peeve? What is with these children's menus? It's like a pro-child-obesity conspiracy! What, the only things kids are allowed to have are chicken nuggets, grilled cheese, and pizza? Drives me bonkers. (One time I tried to order Ben a vegan pizza off the kids menu; I asked them to substitute broccoli for the cheese and they wouldn't do it -- they would only do a huge one. Really!) So we just share what we order. An added benefit, this helps us (parents) with portion control.

It's ok to hide veggies. I'm not talking about a chunk of Brussels sprout in a pile of mashed potatoes. I'm talking about the Power of Purees. Here are a few ideas (veggies are to be cooked to soft stage and then pureed with a bit of water or plant-based milk until uniform):

  • Puree of carrot, beet, and/or squash in brownies or whole grain muffins
  • Puree of green beans and/or peas in bean burgers
  • Puree of pretty much anything in tomato sauce, served on pasta
  • Puree of cauliflower in creamy soups, mashed potatoes, even yogurt

The purpose isn't to pull the (faux) wool over your child's eyes; it's to get them gradually used to the subtle flavor of veggies so they'll better accept them as time goes on.

How about you? I'd love to hear your successful techniques to get kids to try (and like!) veggies!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Wheat Free Surprise Banana Oat Muffins

Happy Summer, folks! And thanks for hanging in there in spite of my absence. It's been an exciting summer; in June Dan and I had a much-needed vacation in Scotland, and almost as soon as we returned, I headed over to Summerfest, where I gave 3 lectures and got inspired by dozens of amazing fellow vegans.

For the first time, I have a garden -- organic, but unfortunately not veganic. I don't compost yet but it's on my list of goals for 2013. I started the garden back in May (I moved an entire bed of perennials at the side of my house out of a plot to other locations, and I started fresh there), and I've been harvesting some amazing lettuce, arugula, kale, spinach, cukes, eggplant, green beans, and tomatoes. The peas were sort of a disaster but I will try, try again. I've been busy learning about soil maintenance and tricks of the trade.

I've been cooking a lot with my fresh veggies, and will start sharing those recipes!

For today, I just had to break my MIA streak to share this recipe I concocted for banana muffins. I almost always have 2 or 3 aging bananas in the bowl, and I was getting tired of the white-flour banana muffin variety, so I stepped it up and made a more nutritious, wheat free, whole grain rendition.

Wheat-Free Surprise Banana Oat Muffins

You will need:

  • 1 1/4 cups oat flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 6 tbsp rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup coconut flakes
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seeds
  • 2 medium bananas
  • 1 cup dairy-free milk
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100% fruit jam and/or vegan chocolate chips

Heat oven to 375 and prepare a 12-cup muffin tin with oil or oil spray.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, soda, salt, and cinnamon. Stir in the oats, coconut, and flax. In a separate bowl, mash the bananas and add in the remaining ingredients up to the vanilla.

Add wet to dry and stir until just mixed.

Divide the batter into the 12 cups (they might be almost full; that's ok). For the surprise, place either about 1/2 tsp jam or about 4 chocolate chips in the center. Bake for about 20 minutes; test for doneness.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Authentic Aloo Gobi

I LOVE Indian food. I might have mentioned, I'm slowly cooking my way through The Art of Indian Vegetarian Cooking. But I found myself with fresh potatoes and cauliflower from my local co-op, and there wasn't a recipe for aloo gobi (potatoes and cauliflower curry) in the book. So I set off to make up my own.

The results were dreamy! I guess the book's techniques are rubbing off on me because this recipe was outstanding. Easy too. I really think the secret to success here is the generous use of fresh cilantro, added early on in the cooking process. The veggies infused with the fresh herb, along with the Indian spices, are intoxicating.

Here's what you need:

  • 1 medium head cauliflower, leaves removed and cut into bite-sized florets
  • 3 medium potatoes (red skinned really nice), peeled and cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 2 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 small bunch fresh cilantro, stems removed (about 1 cup chopped leaves, packed)
  • 1 Tbsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 14.5-oz can organic diced tomatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1/4 cup or so of water
  • 2 tsp garam masala

Cut up the cauliflower and potatoes. You can do this in advance, keeping the cauliflower covered and the potatoes in cold water. It might be wise to de-leaf, wash, and chop the cilantro well in advance too, since this is really a time suck. (Doing fresh herbs in advance helps me greatly with time management!)

Heat canola oil and cumin seeds in a very large saucepan.

When the seeds start to sizzle, add the onion and saute for about 7-8 minutes over medium heat. You want to cook the onions to transluscent, not brown them.

Add cilantro, turmeric, and salt. Stir until well-combined.

Add tomatoes, juice and all, and the garlic and ginger. Stir well until heated through.

Add potatoes and cauliflower to the sauce plus water. Toss gently so that the veggies are coated with the sauce.

Cover pan and simmer for about 20 minutes. Test veggies to be sure they're tender.

Add the garam masala, stir again, and serve. I find that this tastes best if you let it sit in the pan (off the heat) for about 15 minutes, served warm rather than hot.

Serve with a whole grain and any Indian side dishes you like.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Leafy Green Veggies Cut Diabetes Risk

According to a recent study published in British Medical Journal, which reviewed several studies that explored the link between fruit and vegetable consumption and Type 2 diabetes, eating one and a half extra servings of green leafy vegetables cut the risk of diabetes by 14 percent. As if we needed another reason to eat more leafy greens! Calorie for calorie, no other food packs in more nutrition than leafy greens. Which means you can eat and eat, get very few calories (many of which come from protein, by the way) yet a ton of protective phytonutrients and antioxidants that fight disease.

It's easy being green! Read on for some ways to incorporate more leafy greens into your diet.

* Toss a couple of handfuls of baby spinach into the blender next time you make a frozen fruit smoothie. Try this: in a drink blender, combine a pre-peeled and frozen banana with a cup of frozen berries and/or cherries, a few chunks of melon or peeled peach or nectarine, and about a cup of almond milk with 1/2 bag of baby spinach. It'll look a little funky but you won't taste the greens.

* Add shredded lettuce to sandwiches and wraps.

* Add frozen or fresh chopped kale or collards to homemade soup.

* Whip up greens Italian style: Lightly steam chopped up cooking greens. Heat olive oil in a large pan and add a couple of cloves of sliced garlic. Saute until fragrant. Add the greens and saute until tender. Add salt and pepper to taste. For a final touch, add a splash of fresh lemon juice or balsamic vinegar. (For a heartier dish, add a can of rinsed white beans to the greens and toss well.)

* Add sauteed spinach to pasta, omelets, rice dishes, and sauces.

* Serve your next meal over a bed of steamed greens. They're good with just about any sauce or gravy.

* Start with a bag of mixed baby greens. Add toasted walnuts, thinly sliced apple, a bit of crumbled tofu, and your favorite no-sugar-added dressing for a gourmet first course before dinner.

* Pile sauteed or steamed greens on homemade pizza.

* Choose a large green like collards, and make burritos and wraps using the leaves as the wrappers.

How to pick: Look for fresh, bright, firm leafy green veggies, free of foul odor and a limp appearance. Try broccoli, mustard greens, Chinese greens (not just bok choy-- visit an Asian grocer if you have one, and check out the variety!), kale, collards, arugula, chard, and spinach. If you have a budding green thumb, try growing some in your garden.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Crispy Kale and Jerked Tofu

Here was dinner last night: Jerked Tofu, Crispy Kale, and Seasoned Quinoa (I got "Quinoa AGAIN?" from Ben, which I found rather humorous).

The tofu was really easy to make; I just took my favorite Jerk spice rub, Busha Browne's, which is a thick sauce, almost a paste, and tossed about 1 tablepoon with 1 lb cubed tofu, and pan fried in a little oil. Next time I'm going to slice the tofu in thin slices, because it took longer than I would have liked to turn the tofu cubes to get them evenly cooked. This particular brand of jerk seasoning is bold and balanced, with the perfect combination of tangy and spicy, without an overpowering "hot spice" load. I highly recommend it.

The kale was more of an accident -- I left it in the oven a bit too long and it got crispy. It was delicious. I make oven-roasted kale a lot, and I vary the seasonings. Last night I used lemon pepper, cumin, garlic powder, and salt. The kale was completely dry (I used a pre-washed variety) so I think that's why it crisped up so fast (usually I give it a rinse before roasting).

I've been getting a lot of questions about leafy greens lately, so stay tuned for a new post on leafy greens.

The quinoa was made with water and a sprinkle of onion soup mix (my new secret ingredient) and was awesome.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A Falafel Makeover

Not to sound like a broken record, but I again have to send a boatload of thanks to Trader Joes for tasty, high quality, mostly nutritious vegan convenience food. One of my favorites is their frozen falafel. It's better than some that I've had in restaurants. And it's ready in one minute in the microwave.

I'd been enjoying falafel sandwiches (on either whole wheat pita or wraps) with chopped raw veggies and tahini sauce, while also trying to drop this stubborn baby weight (which, since I've hit 40, is doubly hard to shed), and I realized I'm not going to get very far if I continue: for only three balls of falafel, I'm getting 320 calories and 19 grams of fat. And sometimes I eat 4! Add a large pita (about 200 calories) and a couple tablespoons tahini sauce (another 100 or so calories), and (we won't count the veggie calories) that equals over 600 calories. For lunch! And I'd often have a piece of fruit an hour after.

But I don't want to give up my beloved falafel, which is delicious and not terribly unhealthy (a bit oily, true, but it's not an everyday indulgence). But I sure can give up the bread, and I can use less tahini.

My new take on a falafel lunch is pictured here: a huge bowl of chopped raw veggies, three balls of falafel (quartered), and watered-down tahini sauce. New calorie count: 400 (plus veggies, again, which we won't count). This is better not only for the calorie savings but because I now incorporate more raw veggies, which means more antioxidants and fiber, and I really do feel full until dinner. Plus who needs more wheat?

A vegan diet is a great way to control weight. But if you're like me, sometimes delicious prepared/convenience foods can sabotage our best efforts. And it's up to us to find ways to balance portions, satiety, flavor, and nutrition. It's a continuous learning process, even for the pros!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Best Vegan Creamy Salad Dressings

Trying to cut back on oils, processed soy, or both?

Most creamy salad dressings rely on concentrated fats (oils) and/or tofu (or tofu products, like tofu mayo/sour cream) to give the dressing that creamy texture. And that's fine, but if you're eating as much salad as you should be, you might feel the need to mix it up a little, and if (like me) you're always looking for ways to cut calories while maximizing nutrient density, here are a few ideas.

Watered Down Hummus

This sounded gross to me the first time I heard about it, but I tried it and now I'm an addict! I make my own hummus most of the time, but my all-time favorite hummus is Trader Joe's Edamame Hummus. I just put a big spoonful in a bowl, add about the same volume of warm water, stir, and pour on my salad. I find that strong-flavored hummus works best for this dressing.

Sesame Dressing

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this dressing for everything from falafel to a dip for raw veggies to a sauce for steamed greens. But it can be pretty high in calories, and the addictiveness of the flavor can make those calories add up quickly. So I make a regular tahini sauce and thin it out with water. It is super-delicious. All you do is start with a spoonful of tahini, slowly add water and lemon juice until at the desired consistency and flavor, and season with a bit of sea salt. Sometimes I use garlic but I've been enjoying the clean flavor of just the sesame and lemon. You can really thin this out a lot and retain the wonderful flavor.

Avocado Dressing (A.K.A. thinned out guac)

This stuff is decadent! Start with a ripe avocado in the food processor. Add lime juice, cumin, fresh parsley, salt, and water until at the desired consistency. Yum.

White Bean Dressing

This is a lot like hummus. Basically make a white bean hummus in the food processor with white beans, lemon juice, tahini (optional), white pepper, and salt. Add water until at the desired consistency.

Cashew Dressing

This can be done with most nuts and seeds. Soak raw cashews in enough water to cover for 1-2 hours. Blend both in a food processor until smooth and creamy. Add lemon juice OR a clear or light-colored flavored vinegar of your choice, garlic, and more water to desired consistency.

Ah the magic of water -- the more you add, the fewer calories end up on your salad. It's up to your taste buds to find the right balance between flavor and nutrition value. And certainly if you need to GAIN weight, keep it thick, as these dressings are chock full of health-supporting nutrients!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Vegan Shepherd's Pie

Still on a mission to use up the wonderful winter veggies I got from my co-op this week, I decided to make the ultimate comfort food: Shepherd's Pie. Now, my favorite recipe for shepherd's pie comes from friends Gene and Helen, who, in 1994 or thereabouts, for the holidays gave their friends a printed compilation of their favorite vegan recipes, bound by a plastic coil spine. The recipe calls for shredded frozen tofu (which has to be done in advance) and walnuts (which my son is allergic to) so to the web I went for a new recipe.

The one I ended up making is based loosely on this one from vegweb. (If you haven't tried vegweb, you have GOT to! It's saved me literally dozens of times when I've needed quick recipe inspiration.)

As you can see here (bad picture of Emily; she was in the process of blinking), everyone LOVED this dish. And if you cook for a family, you know how wonderful that feels. As it was a cold weekend day, comfort food was on the mind, so I also served this with a thick brown gravy and not-so-good-for-you-but-so-delicious store-bought dinner rolls, heated in the oven.

Here's my rendition, which used all organic white potatoes, yellow onions, broccoli, collard greens, and carrots. This is that awesome, forgiving sort of recipe that allows you to put in pretty much whatever vegetables you have lying around.

You will need:

For the potatoes:
  • 4 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • unsweetened almond milk (you can use any plant milk, to taste)
  • earth balance (you can use any vegan butter, to taste)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

For the veggies:
  • 1-2 tbsp broth (if you want this very low in fat) or olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped

(for the veggies here, you can use about 4-6 cups of chopped vegetables of your choice in place of what I used)
  • 2 cups chopped broccoli
  • 6 huge collard green leaves
  • 2 large carrots, shredded
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
And the rest:
  • 1 package Gardein beef skewers, chopped (you can use 8 or so ounces of any veggie meat substitute you like)
  • 1 tsp savory
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 2 tsp thyme leaves
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • ground pepper to taste
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk (any plant milk will do)
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (don't do what I did, which was to sprinkle from the container only to discover that there was no sprinkle top. Oops.)
1. Boil potatoes. Drain and mash with the milk and butter, salt and pepper to taste.

2. Heat the broth oil in a large pan and saute the garlic and onion over medium heat until soft and translucent. Add the veggies and veggie meat and cook until veggies start to wilt. Stir in seasonings. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

3. Add the broth and 3/4 cup milk along with the cornstarch and flour. Let the mixture come to a boil, stirring frequently. Sauce will thicken up a bit. When all the vegetables are cooked, remove from heat.

4. Spoon the vegetable mixture onto the bottom. Cover with the potatoes and smooth them down. Sprinkle the top with nutritional yeast. Heat in oven for 20 minutes or so until top is slightly firm.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Roasted Butternut Squash, Black Beans, and Apples with Oniony, Kaley Quinoa

This colorful, hearty, family-friendly winter meal from tonight was inspired by the ticking clock, leftover kale, and a recent delivery of fresh baby butternut squash and apples from my co-op.

It's a great way to use winter squash when you don't have much time.

You will need:
  • 2 baby or 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, deseeded, and cubed
  • 1 large or 2 small apples, cubed
  • 2 tbsp Earth Balance, then melted
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • cinnamon
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed
Preheat oven to 425. Place squash and apple in a baking pan with 1/4 cup water. Toss.

Roast for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile, stir together the margarine, syrup, and cinnamon. Remove pan from oven and add the sauce; toss to coat. Add the beans and toss again. Put back in the oven for another 10 or 15 minutes.

The quinoa (1 cup) was prepared with water (2 cups), a 1/2 packet of organic onion soup mix, and chopped up leftover kale.

Dinner on the table in about 40 minutes, and much of that time was spent not cooking!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Success from Vegan Geico

This is one of those success stories that makes you so happy to be a vegan. Check out this article: With Workplace Support, Co-Workers Slim Down on Vegan Diet. Three Geico employees took the vegan challenge, and "Not only were they able to give up meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products with what they described as surprising ease, but they also lost weight and improved their overall health." Great news!

I wasn't surprised to discover that this study is part of a PCRM research project. They're always doing wonderful things that really do a great job showing people how a plant-based diet can make a real, dramatic difference in their lives. These folks have lost weight, dropped their blood pressure, and are enjoying increased energy. One even had her first normal mammogram in years, another eliminated her gastric reflux, and another saw her rheumatoid arthritis symptoms disappear! They say the diet is filling and that they plan on sticking to it.

In this study, the employees get medical supervision, group support, education sessions led by dietitians, tips on menu planning, and vegan eats in their cafeteria. I have to wonder, when the study is complete, will they continue to follow the plan? Will it be more difficult? Will they have support?

I think this shows us how important it is to be ambassadors to the movement: gently encouraging those whose minds are open to going vegan: in our workplaces and communities, offering support, opening our homes for vegan potlucks, being open and positive about our own habits and lifestyles, posting vegan recipes others have enjoyed, and sharing vegan treats for celebrations. The more positive exposure folks get on vegan living, the more widely accepted it will become.