Wednesday, April 4, 2012


{Scroll to the bottom for recipes!}

 About a year ago I became intensely interested in dietary connections to health. One tidbit of information led to another and another....all reinforcing a firmer conviction that

diet IS THE CONNECTION to our health.

Growing up Mormon, this wasn't exactly a massive epiphany. Most people, if educated on nothing but one specific cultural red flag of Mormonism, are aware that it is a faith which has something to say about dietary choices. Most of the perplexed gazes I have encountered from those not of my faith came with questions regarding why a religion would feel the need to counsel about one's diet. To an outsider, we may look like the equivalent of orthodox kosher Jews: only with non-inebriated, boring wedding receptions.

I mean, come on, so. many. rules?


The main bullet point of Mormon theological doctrine that most people absorb is the "Mormons can't drink" rule. But really, the law of health established clear back in the 1800's in Mormon doctrine, known commonly as The Word of Wisdom, is much more in depth. 

Stemming clear back these olden' days, Mormons were counseled to:

 avoid alcohol, tobacco and strong drinks.
To eat fruits and vegetables in prudence and thanksgiving
To consume flesh of the 'beasts and fowls of the air' sparingly
And to enjoy wheat, rice, and oats as 'the staff of life'

In return, we are promised 

"health to our navels...and marrow to our bones...wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures..."

and that we 

"shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint."

Pretty progressive stuff for the 19th century, especially given the hazardous results of the current American diet. Unfortunately, I would argue that a sizable portion of fellow Mormons gloss over the bulk of these health guidelines and instead zero-in on the same "no alcohol" rule as much as the general public in narrowly defining the Mormon proto-diet. But truth be told, I have a hunch our staple baked potato bars piled with sour cream/bacon/cheese could be killing us equally if not faster than our neighbor's affinity for a one too many night caps.

 If ya think about it: why would God give us these awesome bodies without so much as an owner's manual on its upkeep? The Word of Wisdom makes sense to me!
When asked, why would a religion care about one's diet?
I can't help but respond

Why wouldn't it care?!

Spiritual, emotional, mental, sexual, physical
it's all connected.
At least that is what I believe.

Is this sounding preachy? I'm sorry. Let's move on.

I really want to provide a bunch of 'non-religious' links that have greatly improved the diet of our household. So I am going to share some books, documentaries, and RECIPES to try out! I began trying to cook vegetarian at least three nights a week for our family about a year ago. But with Tyler and the arthritis condition he's been busy healing (successfully I might add: booo yeah!), we  have added vegan and even gluten-free to a lot of our meals.

I won't lie, it was like suddenly having to deal with the Helen Keller of diet changes.
What exactly are you supposed to eat that is both vegan AND gluten free? Well, after research and checking out twenty cookbooks at the library, turns out there are plenty of things. But I won't lie again, I don't wish that level of change on anyone unless you absolutely must. Which for a time, Tyler must. But in exchange for not having to take powerful and potentially dangerous steroids to deal with his pain, the man is a champ and willing to make the commitment.

We are more vegan-ish, more vegetarian-ish, but I am only willing at this point to commit to the "ish". I modify Tyler's food to the strict regulations, but there is no way I will do it for our entire family. Slap me with major restrictions and one day I'm bound to be found in some back alley hoarding sausages, ice cream, and a bazooka ready blast any fool's attempt to take them away.

And before I inundate you with links, let me also say this has been a slow and steady evolution for me. Gradually educating myself has led to minor improvements, one by one in our lifestyle. Too much, even of a good thing, can be overwhelming. But the info is too good to not pass along, try a bit here and there!:


Click titles for links.
Let's start with the book list I recommend (I've posted a few of these before):


Food documentaries worth seeing:


And now, best of all: I will post periodic recipes that we come across and like!

Breakfast sample:

Blend a combo of three whole/natural cereals, different crunch and textures. You can even add nuts too (yummy). Jam pack it with any of your favorite fruits/berries (think strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, bananas, kiwis, mangos...!!!), top with almond milk and enjoy.

Lunch sample:

A skip-the-meat sandwich. Notice I can't give up some cheese though. Use hummus as your condiment. Pile on any veggies you like (some favorites are cucumber, roasted red bell peppers, spinach, and avocado). Sprinkle with balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper. Use good bread! 

Dinner sample:

Recipe from this site
(which has tons of good recipes)

2 cans cannellini white beans, drained
1 large sweet potato, baked/peeled/mashed (about 2 cups)
2 Tbsp tahini {I skipped this ingredient}
2 tsp maple or agave syrup
1 tsp lemon pepper seasoning OR Cajun seasoning (or another fave spice!)
1/4 cup wheat flour
optional: additional seasoning (whatever you have on hand - I used a few dashes cayenne, black pepper and a scoop of nutritional yeast)
salt to taste if needed

plentiful Panko crumbs
safflower oil for pan

burgers: avocado, Dijon mustard, grain buns, romaine, onion, olive oil, pepper


1. Bake sweet potato. Peel, place in large mixing bowl.
2. Add drained beans to mixing bowl. Mash beans and potato together.
3. Mash in seasoning, flour and any additional seasoning. Your mixture will be quite soft and moist. But you should be able to form a patty. Add more flour or a scoop of breadcrumbs - or dry rice to thicken the mixture if needed.
4. Heat 1 Tbsp safflower oil in a pan over high heat.
5. Form a patty from mixture and coat in Panko crumbs. Thick coating. Then drop the patty in the pan. Repeat until the pan is filled. Cook until browned on both sides. You could also bake. If baking, use less Panko.
6. Transfer cooked patties to paper towel. Cool for a few minutes.
7. Serve on toasted bun with lotsa toppings.
{I added caramelized onions to ours: they make the world a better place} 

{Disclaimer: If you've been raised on a meat-based, American diet your entire life - like me - you might think of tofu as I did: the world's freakiest food utilized only by hippies and starving Asian countries. As shocking as this may seem given my usual accuracy with ignorant stereotyping, I am pleased to report it IS AND CAN BE DELICIOUS. Give it a try!}

1 block extra-firm tofu
2 red/yellow bell peppers, seeded and sliced thin
1/2 cup sliced shallots
4 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon agave nectar
15 leaves fresh basil

Cook tofu in a non-stick skillet with a little olive oil or cooking spray, about 10 minutes until browned on all sides. Remove to the side. Add peppers, shallots, garlic and ginger and saute for about 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. 
In a small bowl, mix together the curry paste, water, soy sauce, and agave. Add mixture and tofu into the pot with the peppers and shallots. Cook for another 5 or so minutes and add fresh basil. It's ready!

You can serve this over regular cooked brown rice, or get extra fancy and make this highly recommended YUMMY rice as a side:

Pineapple Rice:

3 cups cooked brown rice
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 cup sliced shallots (or red onion)
4 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp minced ginger
dash of salt
2 tsp Thai Red Curry Paste
1 tablespoon water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons agave nectar
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 1/2 cups diced pineapple

Saute olive oil, shallots, garlic, and ginger until shallots are tender and caramelized. Mix curry paste, water, soy sauce, and agave nectar in a small bowl. Add cooked rice to shallot mixture and pour curry mixture all over. Stir to combine over medium heat and add pineapple. Cook until heated through.


Here's to good health!

1 comment:

Casey and Brittny said...

I'm so happy to see that more people are jumping on the "food as medicine/pathway to health or death" bandwagon. We've dealt with several crazy health issues in the past 9 years, and changing what and how we eat has been a big issue. Yay for you and your gorgeous family!

Have you tried coconut oil for Tyler's arthritis? I read a great book that you might consider adding to your list: The Coconut Oil Miracle. I eat coconut oil every day now. Several new studies have come out recently that further solidify my love for this stuff: it has the potential to flat-out prevent Alzheimer's disease. PREVENT. Incredible!

I just thought of Tyler as you've been posting about his struggles with arthritis because coconut oil has anti-inflammatory proerties.

Thanks for the recipes - I'll go stuff my face now (okay I KNOW "stuffing face" is not found in the WOW, but as long as it's healthy, I can eat more of it, right? Right?).

Can't wait to see beautiful girl #5 added to your family!