Sunday, August 31, 2014

Veggie Pizza & The Ultimate Test Of Success

So I'm a pizzaholic.

I know I'm not alone in this. But I used to take it to extremes.

I could personally down a couple of large pizzas, any toppings included.

No wonder I had two heart attacks, with a life history like that!

And I've missed the occasional pizza fix. OK, OK, I have indulged in the last couple of years, especially since the all-you-can-eat Pizza Monster Café opened locally, but rarely, and in much smaller quantities.

No more than half a pizza for me now, thanks.

At least that's what I thought, until this delightful thought occurred. I'm pretty sure I'm not the first, and if you Googled the main ingredient, I'll bet you'd find it out there somewhere. But it's original to me.

Start with a veggie pizza. Throw out the crust. OK, yes, you'll have to start from scratch with your own crust.

But here's but beauty of it. YOU CAN MAKE YOUR OWN CRUST FROM A TORTILLA. Waaaayyyy less carbs. And cheeeeep. The crust (1 large tortilla) on this baby cost me about 12 cents. 'Course, I had to buy 30 at Sam's Club to get that price.

Too thin, you say? Hah. See the above proof.

So here's what I used to make it work:
  • 1 large tortilla.
  • 1/3 - 3/4 C. pizza sauce, depends on how much tomato taste you want.
  • Good sprinkle of nutritional or brewer's yeast (optional).
  • Pizza seasoning to taste, included red pepper flakes if you're so inclined.
  • 2/3 medium onion (about 2+ inches), thin sliced, about 1" pieces.
  • 2 cups assorted raw veggies, or about 1 1/2 cups if cooked 
  •  Grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 of the onion, thin sliced in about 2" pieces (1/2 of full round slice) for the top
  • Thin sliced tomatoes for the top, after it's cooked.
Pre-heat oven to 425, at a time so it's fully hot once it's assembled. Don't wait too long, you don't want the crust to get soggy.

A plain packaged tortilla works fine, but for good measure, I prepared the one above by piercing it about 100 times top and bottom with a fork (so it doesn't develop large bubbles), then toasting it in my hot oven for about 3 minutes. I love lots of sauce. Of course, if you start with a raw tortilla, you'll have to fully cook it before you use it.

Put your tortilla on a baking sheet and assemble your pizza. No oil is necessary. As needed, I can assemble two pizzas on 1 cooking sheet, but one makes for no trimming due to overlap.

My typical pizza sauce is pasta sauce boiled down to remove some liquid, like was used here, but 1/2 can tomato paste is good too and is generally best to avoid soaking the crust.

For seasoning I sprinkled on pizza seasoning blend from Winco, I like it a little strong. The pasta sauce already has Italian seasoning that could have been fine by itself. I also sprinkled some red pepper flakes on at the end.

The brewer's yeast adds a kind of cheesy taste. My wife, who won't eat anything she's not used to or sure of, wouldn't. But I like it, and it  adds vitamin B12, good when you're light on meat in the diet.

I used 1/2 a green bell pepper, a cup of frozen broccoli, plus 2/3 of the yellow onion and 3 large sliced mushrooms. Other possibilities are red bell pepper, green beans, red onions, cauliflower, green peas, sugar peas, cabbage, shelled edamame, or any non-starchy vegetable that won't turn to mush. Therefore I don't use zucchini. The key is to dry the veggies as you cook them, so I steam-sautéed these with the lid off the frying pan. Mushy-wet veggies make for a mushy-wet crust.

Spread the cooked and still hot veggies evenly on top of the pizza sauce, seasoning and yeast base. Sprinkle the grated parmesan cheese on top of the veggies.

My ultimate pizza always has toasted onions on top, so I save 1/3 of the onion, thin sliced then cut in half, and separating the strands as I randomly scatter the onion on top. Cook in the hot oven until the onions and parmesan on top start to turn brown.

The final step is to spread thin slices of raw tomato all over the top after it's cooked. I tend to do this piece by piece as I eat it. In the above picture, I ate one slice for my dinner, then froze the rest. Yes, I did pull this out of the freezer for this picture. Is that cheating?

There are two important principles to emphasize. First, keep everything dry. Nothing that is actually liquid should go on your tortilla. Of course, there's always a fork if it goes soggy. But the attraction of a pizza is having a crisp crust so you can pick up and eat your pizza by hand, in my book.

Second, don't eat too much of this too often. It's low carb compared to regular pizza, but I try (and sometimes fail) to eat only a couple of slices in a single meal,  and not to eat this every day.

But I have to admit, I'm tempted. And if it was life and death I'd have to quit it completely.

But for now it's better than saying goodbye to pizza forever.

The acid test is my weight. If I'm at or progressing toward my ideal weight, it's ok. If I'm struggling, it's not.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Nutritarian Incubator Cell #1

This last week I gave my first public presentation on nutritarian eating, to about twenty folks at an "Empty Nesters" pot luck dinner in Salt Lake. This group of adults meets monthly in the neighborhood where we took care of my father.

And what a wonderful group to learn from and practice with. We knew almost everyone there as friends, and they seemed both interested and appreciative. We were also able to say goodbye to the great group of people they represented, the Little Cottonwood 1st Ward of the LDS Church, and hope we stay in touch.

And the next presentation will be better as a result.

The purpose was to firm up my own understanding and explanation skills, connect with a bunch of people I care about, and establish some goals central to the purpose of this blog, The End Of Disease. It took me a couple of days of thinking about it to develop this further.

Of course I want to learn and spread the good news of what's possible, really my central purpose here. So how best to do that?

A monthly dinner club, with a focus on preparing, practicing and sharing nutritrian foods, has possibilities. To be able to gather, reinforce and learn from people with a similar focus is very appealing to me.

So here's an outline for how this might work:
  • A charter stating the purpose and how we'll go about this, to be developed as group wisdom and experience dictates. Goals for a convivial group, a format for a warm, supportive learning environment, and a program to teach and learn from each other would be elements of such a charter.
  • Monthly dinners on a recurring day and time, say the Saturday afternoon or evening preceding the last Sunday of the month.
  • As we are an incubator for nutritarians, we also seek to spawn new groups, which might also seek to grow and spin off new groups. Some specific incentives for doing this could be possible.
  • The means of organizing, communicating and reinforcing what we're doing could well be through some social media outlet, or by using a specific tool such as through Meetup.com.
When I attending the 1-day Intensive Seminar by Dr. Fuhrman in Seattle this last spring, he spoke about a nutritarian Meetup group in Seattle. One thing they do I don't want to duplicate is not allowing any foods with animal products (nutritarian eating is not vegan, but vegans can be nutritarians, and way healthier!), and it seems they tend to meet a local restaurants (too few in my area with a nutritarian emphasis to make this more than a rare possibility).

So I will try this as I continue to search for avenues of communicating the power nutritarian health.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Zuchini Spaghetti

Spaghetti sauce on grated zucchini in 8" pasta bowl
Here's a seasonal favorite, wonderful when the garden works well, or if your  neighbor's garden works well, or even if you have a distant cousin who's garden is productive.

Some people may even pay you to take away their excess zucchini :)

It's super easy and inexpensive.

The zucchini is unpeeled and raw, just grated.

The sauce is Prego. Nothing special. Tastes fabulous as far as I'm concerned.

The white stuff on top is grated parmesan cheese. Any commercial brand will do. I buy mine in bulk, straight from the bulk bins at Winco.

Like I said, super cheap, super easy, super good.

Keep in mind the above picture was taken for illustration purposes, before I smothered it in more spaghetti sauce and added more parmesan.

Now some would fault this for 1. A tomato sauce that has sugar and salt in it, 2. Parmesan cheese that has animal products and salt, and 3. Not one darn thing pictured here is certified organic. I think but I'm not sure my source gardener for the zucchini doesn't use pesticides, and zucchini in general doesn't need any.

That's why there's often such an explosive abundance. And the zucchini pictured here was one of those extra-large ones that most people don't prefer, some even throw away, about 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter.

Regardless, it all grates, tastes and works just great.

But here's a qualifier. I don't believe I'd get the same great results by using "spaghetti squash." As a winter squash it's far higher in carbohydrates, and therefore calories. Nothing wrong with it nutritionally, it's just the tradeoff between quantity and calories. You can have one or the other, But if you have to take or keep the pounds off, a little bit is great, a lot is not.

Here's the saving grace. I ate three huge bowls full two nights in a row, and weighed in at less than before.

Now that's the kind of (non)diet I can live with.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Chunky Chocolate "Ice Cream" Dessert

Chocolate Chunk Dessert in Food Processor Cup
Here's another recipe that is endlessly variable, fun, delicious, and keeps me from ever wanting the stuff that's terribly bad for me. I made it last night in 5 minutes (I get plenty of practice).

Ice cream. My absolute most favorite. My culture's favorite food (some people think it's green jello - sick!)

Make it with chocolate and nuts, and I'm helplessly addicted.

Now I live in the state with the highest per capita ice cream consumption in the world. We have lots of dairy farmers and their families around where I live, so there's plenty of reinforcement.

I also live close enough to two hospitals to hear when the medevac helicopters take off, and when I hear 'em I think, "Yep, likely another ice cream lover."

In that medevac helicopter was me, three years ago.

So here's the dead-honest great ice cream substitute that keeps me alive:

Ingredients:
  • 2 frozen bananas (you can substitute non-frozen bananas and a few ice cubes, but you may not need the soy or other milk below)
  • 2 heaping teaspoons baking cocoa powder (not hot cocoa powder)
  • 3 heaping teaspoons ground flax, straight from the freezer
  • 1 packed cup cold spinach (or other greens)
  • Enough soy, almond, cashew or other milk to make it blendable to a creamy-but-not-runny state
  • 4-5 tablespoons assorted nuts and seeds (the dessert in the picture has walnuts, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds and coconut)
  • 1/2 cup celery chunks (celery diced into approximate 1/4" chunks)
Blend the frozen bananas in a blender or food processor while they're still hard-frozen. You should get a coarsely textured kind of "banana-meal" that'll blend the rest of the ingredients with next to no effort (or skip this first blending if you're using non-frozen bananas).

Add the cocoa powder, ground flax and spinach. Add enough cashew or other milk to make it cold, thick and creamy, but never runny, and blend until it's smooth. Make a mistake and you've got a chocolate milkshake (no great loss!).

Add the nuts, seeds and celery chunks. Don't blend these, stir them in by hand until it's all evenly mixed and everything is coated, creamy-cold and chocolatey.

The last step, very important, is to relish every bite, while you contemplate the pleasure of something so delicious and healthy. You may choose to recite to yourself the following facts: Cocoa powder has the highest antioxidant content of any food. Spinach is the highest nutrient-value leafy green food. Celery is the way to double your crunch, making the nuts seem like there's two or three times as much as there really are while adding another healthy green to the mix. And the nuts and ground flax flax are the healthiest of the necessary oils in your diet.

At least that's what I do.

And this morning, after eating this last night, I got up and weighed in at a new all-time low of 162.3 lbs.

I never in my wildest dreams thought I could ever weigh that little, or walk 3+ miles as fast as I did this morning without a trace of chest pain/pressure/angina.

Thanks, Dr. Fuhrman.