Archive for July, 2012 | Monthly archive page

Thanks Dr. Barnard

Friday, July 20th, 2012

Neal BarnardWhen I first found out that I was having some pretty serious health problems I wasn’t quite sure what to do.  It made sense that being told you’re a diabetic means you have to change the way you eat, but how was a big question.  Thankfully a family friend who happens to be a physician recommended Dr. Barnard’s book “Program for Reversing Diabetes”.  I will admit that it’s a pretty radical diet.  I will also admit that I don’t actually follow it that stridently any more even though I should probably get a little closer to it than I a now.

Dr Barnard advocates a strict Vegan diet no matter what ailments you are suffering from.  He has a number of books out that more or less advocate the same style of eating .  It comes down to eliminating all meat and animal products from your eating habits and severely limiting the amount of fat you consume.

For three months I stuck to it and I must say I felt a lot better for it.  However, being a chef and general lover of food I found it really difficult to sustain.  I like meat, I love cheese and although I don’t have a particularly sweet tooth I had been consuming WAY to much sugar.  Physically and mentally I felt amazing when I imposed his limitations, except for the intense craving for my savoury favorites.   Allowing myself a meat dinner once a week took the edge off and it didn’t seem to screw up things too badly.

A dietician cautioned me about not getting enough fat in my diet and I understood her reasoning.  Commonly held belief says we need approximately 24 grams of fat a day to maintain a healthy balance in our bodies and trust me when you honestly break it down, that’s not very much.  Well Neal Barnard’s plan calls for quite a bit less than that.  Remember it is extremely important with a vegan diet to make sure you are getting enough protein as well.

So although I do recommend having a look at his logic and success rate it is also important to me to have a lifelong sustainable food plan that isn’t going to drive me away too easily.  My tastes have certainly changed from taking Dr. Barnard’s recommendations.  Sweets are really unpleasantly too sweet for me and I really don’t miss the cheese too much.  My feeling is that it’s more important to not go crazy obsessing about any eating format but to also not use that for an excuse to just let healthy eating fall by the wayside. His books contain excellent resources and tips for improving your diet at the very least.  The recipes (sorry Bryanna Clark Grogan) are not really all that enticing and contain far  too many artificially low-fat, fake meat sort of components.  I prefer more naturally occurring and self made alternatives whenever possible.

I’m still looking for the right balance.  Right now a little closer to a vegan diet would help me out and as I write this I feel I can get back there again.

Wish me luck and good health and I wish the same for you.

Click on the picture above to get to some of Dr. Neal Barnard’s videos on youtube.

Talking Helps

Friday, July 13th, 2012

depressionOriginally I was going to talk about the awesome advice of Dr. Neal Barnard in this post, but then a friend posted a very interesting discussion on Facebook and it made me want to switch gears.

I suffer from depression like many others around the world and talking about it is so important.  One person, such as my friend, admitting publicly that they suffer from depression can lead to another and another person being able to admit their own feelings.

For years I was in denial.  Admitting to the sadness that had pervaded my life was a sign of weakness for me.  It meant that I, as a competent and self-driven woman was imperfect.  It meant that I wasn’t as capable of fixing all my problems as I would like to believe.  Years of my life were spent running all over the world trying to escape sadness by filling my time with adventure.  Not a bad thing considering the interesting things that I’ve done, but not really sustainable. Nor did I really connect with  a community that could support me.  I have many friends that I care deeply about but I didn’t really want them to see me in my saddest times.  Perfectionism is a nonsensical way to try to live your life in the face of a reality that nothing is perfect.

I am my own worst critic but I want to find tools to help me accept myself with all the blemishes; knowing that I will be loved, forgiven and accepted by those who truly care.

By talking about these things I hope to help others in similar circumstances.  You are not alone, as I am not alone.

Happy birthday to me.

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

lemon-cupcakesI made these healthy…ish cupcakes for my birthday and I thought you might enjoy them too.   Now you can’t eat these all and think “hey they’re healthy I’m going to pig out”, but you can eat them without feeling overly guilty.  The big difference is they are made with xylitol, honey and maple syrup, not blood sugar spiking sugar.  You could substitute the honey or the maple syrup for agave syrup if you like it better.  There is a lot of conflicting research on whether any of these is good for you though…except the xylitol, it has been proven to metabolize more slowly and therefore doesn’t raise your blood sugar too high.  The others have research on both sides of the healthy/ not healthy spectrumm so you kind of have to decide for yourself in the end.

I made these as Lemon cupcakes with maple cream cheese frosting, but you can make them any flavor you want.  These are a little denser than regular old cupcakes, but they are super moist and remind me of pound cake more than anything else.


Lemon Cupcakes

preheat oven to 350°

  • 3 cups Whole Wheat or Spelt pastry flour
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 cup room temperature butter
  • 1/2 cup xylitol
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • finely grated rind of 2 lemons
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup sour cream or thick plain Greek yogurt


Mix the dry ingredients in a separate bowl, stir together and set aside.

Using a  mixer beat butter until fluffy.   Add xylitol until fully incorporated.  Slowly add honey, then sour cream/yogurt.  When that’s thoroughly mixed in slowly add the rest of the wet ingredients including the lemon rind.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet only stirring enough to be well mixed but it’s ok if it still looks lumpy. If you mix it too much the gluten will be too developed and your cupcakes will be a bit hard.

Bake for 20 minutes.

Line cupcake pan with cupcake liners and put about 1/4 cup in each.  Makes about 18 cupcakes.

For Chocolate: substitute lemon and rind for 3 ounces of unsweetened chocolate melted in a double boiler.

For Vanilla: leave out lemon and rind and add another 1/3 cup of sour cream or vanilla yogurt

I also thought that this would taste good with:  lemon and dried cherries or blueberries or poppyseeds. substitute lemon for unsweetened strawberry or rasberry jam.


Maple Cream Cheese Icing

  • 1/2 lb. (250g) room temperature cream cheese
  • 5 tbsp Maple syrup

Whip cream cheese and add maple syrup with the mixer on. You can add 2 oz. unsweetened melted chocolate to this also.

Let the cupcakes cool then ice them as you normally would.  You can use the icing in a piping bag with no problem.