What’s for dinner, Mom?

I used to get asked, “What do you eat in a day?” all the time, but since the blog is searchable, you can find my answers to that question, in specific. So I don’t get asked that QUITE as often—just by new readers.

But just as an example, tonight I made Indian Dahl (last recipe in Ch. 6 of 12 Steps). It features brown rice and split peas, it’s EASY, and we like it. And cut up some tomato and cucumber slices from the garden, piled them on some raw sauerkraut (Ch. 8 of 12 Steps) I made 2 years ago.

I did have to start dinner late in the afternoon, which requires some thinking ahead, but the total kitchen time was about 20 minutes. And the meal is extremely inexpensive, all whole plant foods, 60-80% raw including the watermelon for dessert.

Going from 5 minutes (drive thru meal) to 20 minutes (the meal I’ve just described) of dinner-prep time is actually a net time gain. Sound impossible? Here’s how that’s possible. You’ll feel light and energetic after eating the dinners I teach you. You’ll sleep less because your body isn’t sluggish from spending so much effort in digestion. You’ll wake up more energized and have higher productivity, increased desire to exercise . . . I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

You know that a lot of recipes in Ch. 6 (plant based, hearty main dishes) have a legume and a whole grain, like the Dahl recipe. In the 70’s, vegetarians thought that was necessary for a “perfect protein” (all the amino acids) in one meal. Now we know that your body can access amino acids you ate YESTERDAY, in combination with amino acids you ate TODAY. (Amino acids are the 18 building blocks of proteins.) So you don’t have to worry about that.

However, I do feel that meals are heartier when they have a legume and whole grain, so I tried to include mostly recipes with that combo, in the Main Dishes (Dinner) chapter. Because I hate when my kids say, “I’m hungry!” a couple of hours after the dishes are done. (Standard answer: “Kitchen is closed!”)

My 17-y.o. Kincade is a Yellow personality, if that means anything to you. (His core motive in life is FUN—yours might be peace, or intimacy, or achievement, google Taylor Hartman Color Code). He’s always doing goofy stuff.

As he was eating dinner last night, and I was sitting chatting with him, he picked up a garden cantaloupe and dropped it—splat!—in his dinner. Just to make me laugh and to see what it would sound like. When he was little I used to get annoyed with this kind of stuff. Now I laugh at it and say, “Awesome—now you get to eat dirt! Good Vitamin B12 for you! Let me get my camera.” Consequently we get along so much better.

Here are the photos for your entertainment too.

Borrowing Dad’s Mini-Cooper . . . and his attitude

I kinda wrecked my car. Today my dad met me at the auto body shop where the owner and I are now on a first-name basis, since this is the third time this year I’ve had pointless parking-lot fender benders. My dad came so he could lend me his cute yellow Mini-Cooper for a couple of days.

As I was sitting in the front seat re-familiarizing myself with the controls, I could feel him staring at me. Glancing over, I saw a nostalgic look on his face I am very familiar with as a parent myself. “When you’re with me, do you ever,” he asked, “go back to when you were a little girl? Kind of feel like one again?”

I smiled. “Well, I know what you mean because I look at my kids and suddenly see them as a little child again. I was doing that with Kincade the other day, looking at how he’s a year from adulthood but imagining him as the 6-year old boy carrying his pet chameleon around. And suddenly I was shocked: ‘What are you doing with those whiskers on your chin!'”

So I start the car and my dad says, “You don’t need to drive me home. I’m just going to run it.” And he takes off down the highway, miles from his house.

Oh my goodness, this bodes well for my future. I love that dude. He’s so upbeat all the time–you can’t bring a depressed mood or be whiny with my dad. He’ll just ignore it and be all cheery and spunky till you either knock it off or get really annoyed. He has so much energy, always undertaking projects. If he calls me, he starts with, “How ya doin’?!” I find myself saying “Great!” even if I just wrecked my car and broke up with my boyfriend.

You’ve gotta find your lodestar. That person who is way ahead of you in life and has consistently, one day at a time, lived a wholesome life and looks and acts like YOU want to, when you’re that age. I know I write about my dad all the time, but really, he is the living proof that you don’t have to slide into sedentary, substandard, subsistence living as you age.

p.s. Got a few emails about this, immediately–I didn’t just break up with a boyfriend (mostly bc I don’t have one), but thanks for the concern. It was just a hypothetical example of how my dad lightens everything up even if you’re having a rotten day.

It’s a Beet Monster

I’m not even sure what to say about this, that came out of my garden today. Technically it’s a beet. I’m not sure the photos let you appreciate just how big it is, about 12 in. tall. It looks like a replica of a human heart—blood color, to be sure, but also with the aorta and ventricles and stuff.

So here it is: I cut the skin off, and chopped it into chunks. Then baggies in the freezer. It’s now 32 days’ worth of Hot Pink smoothie that I’ve been obsessed with, for breakfast, for about 8 years now (beets, carrots, frozen strawbs, coconut liquid—see Ch. 10 of 12 Steps, YUM).

How often do you get sick? Should I buy hand sanitizer?

Dear GreenSmoothieGirl: I was wondering, while eating the great raw food diet that you eat, when is the last time you “caught a cold.”

Can you give us an idea about whether you and your kids have been sick or the magnitude of it? Do you or the kids get a cold and you are able to fight it off much quicker with a healthy diet OR do you guys not get sick at all.

Here in Jersey our kids go back to school soon and that’s the time I start to really worry about the “germs.” Do you believe in Hand Sanitizer and what are your thoughts on it. It seems like they are becoming MANDATORY on the Back to School Supply list and I was just curious on your thoughts about this.

Answer: I think the Hand Sanitizer is silly. Don’t get me wrong–I am a big fan of washing hands well. But there are millions of bad bacteria everywhere, air, counters, clothes, food. And all the antibacterial products out there are doing very little, if anything, to protect us. And they are possibly helping “bugs” become more resistant and super-virile. A spray or hand gel is like sticking your pinkie in the hole in the dam, when the dam is breaking.

Fact is, people don’t get sick because we get exposed to a “bug.” We’re being exposed to bugs all the time. Why did my tenant, who I saw every day and exchanged food with, etc., get deathly ill from swine flu last year for six long weeks, requiring an ER visit, and I didn’t, and neither did my kids? (My oldest son got a little sick for two days.)

If we are a good host for a bug to overpower our natural defenses, when we create an internal climate where nasty micro-organisms thrive, then we get sick.

How do we become that perfect host? We eat lots of acidic foods–dairy, meat, coffee, yeast bread, and especially sugar. (Stress, pollution, medications, and not sleeping enough also contribute to a highly acidic internal climate and susceptibility.)

If we drink lots of water, eat raw, alkaline food (greens being the very best on that list), and do all the other good stuff (moderate exercise, sleep, etc.), we are minimizing our risk of catching the “bugs” that are omnipresent.

As for when I last “caught a cold”–I can’t even remember. Maybe 3 years ago. I think getting a mild cold that lasts a day, with clear mucous, is a good thing. It’s a way that your body flushes itself out. Getting a “cold” once or twice a year is not a sign of failure. It’s when illnesses linger, when the mucous becomes stagnant and thick and acidic (yellow or green), or when we get things worse than a cold, that we know we’ve become the perfect host for illness. Strep, bronchitis, flu–”catching” these is a sign something is very wrong.

And at that point, it’s time to clean house. Lots of green smoothies, maybe a juice cleanse, and adherence to a 60-80% or more raw plant-based diet.

In my family, none of us has been really ill, or had the “flu,” or had anything requiring an antibiotic, in at least 12 years. But before that? When we were eating the Standard American Diet? We were sick constantly. All of us, especially me and my oldest son.

Help! I’m in Zucchini Hell!

I have this kind of random list of questions to ask God when I get on the other side. Some of them are The Big Questions. Why do 15-year old crackheads get pregnant so easily when my friend Jamie, who would be a world-class mother, can’t? Why are people supposed to make huge decisions like who to marry, and have babies, in their 20’s when they don’t know anything about anything yet?

Stuff like that. But I have some small questions, too, that really nag at me.

Like, WHY ARE ZUCCHINI PLANTS SO PROLIFIC? I mean, how much can one family eat?! It’s not even like people LIKE zucchini that much, if my kids are any indicator. Why can’t raspberry plants produce so much??

The amazing thing is that I seem to plant MORE THAN ONE plant each year. Why do I do this?? When I pick up my produce from Jacob’s Cove each Monday, I get my allotment of wonderful things like multi-colored cherry tomatoes, and unusual greens, and beets. And then they point at these giant boxes and say, “TAKE ALL YOU WANT OF THE SQUASH.”

I heard this joke once about someone coming from out of state to visit a Utah friend. One the way home from the airport, the friend stops at 7-11 for a drink and leaves the door unlocked to go inside. Then they stop for lunch at a restaurant and she again leaves the door unlocked to go inside. Then they go to church and she LOCKS THE DOOR. The out-of-state visitor said, “Uh, that’s random. You don’t lock your car at 7-11 or a restaurant–why at church?” The Utahan whispers, “It’s zucchini season! When we get out of church, if we don’t lock it, the car will be full of squash!”

There’s this “Share the Bounty” shack near my house somebody built. (Cool idea, right?) This time of year, it’s All Zucchini All The Time.

I put some of my favorite squash recipes in Ch. 5 of 12 Steps to Whole Foods and the Jump-Start recipe collection. Zucchini pitas, carpaccio, and cookies. I love spiraled, raw or barely-steamed zucchini “noodles” instead of pasta. (Pizza Factory makes them, if you’re local.)

Did you know squash leaves are edible? Throw them in your green smoothies!

Please tell me what you do to dig your way out of zucchini hell! Favorite recipes welcomed here! (My kids are sick of all my ways to slip squash into the dinner . . . yesterday I texted my 17-y.o. telling him when to come home to eat, and I had to entice him by saying, “It’s a NO-SQUASH meal!)

Thanks Bay Area friends!

Dr. Lauren Clum and Dr. Mariza Snyder in Oakland put on a lovely event last Friday. Thanks for the lunch for everyone who came. (I didn’t get to eat it, but I heard good things about it!)

Here’s a couple of photos, signing books after, and with one of the very first GSG readers, Peg, and her friend.

Maybe others who took photos and vids will send me more, for facebook.

I am so jealous of Californians with all their access to produce and whole-foods markets (lowercase and uppercase)! One of the best places in the world to be “raw!”