MY EXPERIENCE WITH HEART FAILURE. I don't have a failing heart, I have one in my immediate family. So we went vegan at my house! After a long and carnivorous life, this has been quite a switch.We made this colossal change because the cardiologist told the HUB avoiding processed, animal sourced, and restaurant prepped food was the only way to avoid surgery. Here is what we eat...
Beans are good for you. Yes, they have a high percentage of carbohydrates, and yes, they are the good carbohydrates – complex carbohydrates. Because of that, beans have a low glycemic index, which means they do not cause a blood sugar spike and its associated health problems the way refined sweet carbs like desserts and white bread do. What beans can cause is gas, but that can be eliminated by soaking and rinsing before cooking.
I usually keep beans on hand – cooked and ready to mix or to eat. Several of my favorite plant-based meals call for beans of one kind or another so cooking a pound or two ahead of time streamlines chow time. After the cardiac episode, I preferred to err on the side of caution and completely omitted canned beans from grocery lists. Also, I found cookingmuch cheaper $$$ if I used dry beans instead of canned.
With the tiniest bit of planning ahead dried beans are no more trouble to prepare either. If you don’t already own a crock pot, this might be the time to think about it. One of those implements does all the bean cookin’ work for you – what little there is of it.
Everybody has a go to meal – the one fixed when time is short, nerves are frayed, and everyone is starving. Mine was hamburger on a plate with a potato and a green vegetable. Slap the burgers in the pan, the potatoes in the oven, and steam the frozen goodies. That was the so-called healthy quick food my former self offered regularly. Everyone needed to dress up the naked potatoes with something – butter, sour cream, gravy… Steamed green beans beside all that grease, well it is no surprise that vegetables were force fed. Making a sweeping change in eating habits is very hard to do AND to maintain. So how to make it easier?
I had to come up with something fast. The obvious solution was a look-alike substitute. My new go-to substitute is NutBurgs. [My own jargon.] I can still accessorize them with a potato and frozen vegs if I am too tired for words, or I can get a little fancier and healthier and cut up fresh vegetables with herbs. Either way vegetable sides are pretty easy to throw together. More on the those later.
I scanned the online recipes for veggie burgers and my favorite of them is the original recipe below. The variation is a more efficient use of ingredients, but tastes about the same. The Throw Together version is easiest, most efficient and tastes by far the best, in my opinion.
When I throw the ingredients together to make burgers like the ones pictured, I add a couple of handfuls of chopped pecans or chopped walnuts. It gives the burgers a nice texture. If you like a zing in your food, add your favorite hot pepper to the mix.
Find or create a substitute meal for your go-to. Having it in your mind and back pocket helps you through the witching hours.
We celebrate everything we can think to party about at our house. So when we restricted our diet recently, I realized I needed to get creative — and fast! Everyone needs a birthday cake after all.After piddling around with my family recipes for a while, I realized that substitution was the only thing to do. I started experimenting with my favorite: Banana Bread. I tried many vegan and vegetarian recipes, but never got the results I wanted. After a large pile of discarded loaves, I went back to my grandmother’s recipe and simply changed the flour to unbleached 100% whole wheat and the sugar to pure maple syrup in exactly the same proportions as the original ingredients. The big change was in the way I stirred. I found I could not over-mix and end up with anything edible. So I now mix everything by hand. Surprisingly, the stirring actually takes less time than getting out the mixer, setting up the mixer, over-mixing, washing the mixer, and putting away the mixer. All I need is the wooden spoon.
honey, maple syrup or molasses
Be careful when shopping for sweeteners. Ignore the marketing label. That is the part with the product name in pretty colors and a nice picture. Go to the less attractive back of the packaging and read the ingredients list. These products should have only ONE ingredient: maple syrup or honey or pure molasses. If the jar includes anything else, put it back on the shelf.
image from swansonvitamins.com
Some are OK with using stevia and Xylitol, but my choice is to stick with old fashioned and pure sweeteners only.
We recently began eating Vegan at my house because of the HUB’s heart attack. It came out of nowhere, and he felt no particular symptoms prior to his heart failing.
My mom had been counselling him for years to cut out all that milk drinking, limit your pizza and burger consumption, and ‘I am surprised you can hold another piece of pie, cake, cookies’, and so on…..He wasn’t a pig, just honestly hungry all the time.
I, on the other hand, had grown up eating healthy foods. We ate like stormtroopers but my brothers and I were the skinniest of the skinny kids. At the ball field, the swimming pool, on hikes and all the other places, my mom packed sandwiches and fruit and juice for us instead of allowing us to eat from the concession stand like the other kids. What a drag! We ate sweets, but infrequently. We didn’t feel deprived though. I was lucky that my mom was so far ahead of her time in her thinking. I carry those habits still today.
Sometime in the 1990s, I suddenly realized I was feeling bizarre. I began to feel uncomfortably full after eating. Combating that, I cut back on portions, thinking I must be eating too much without realizing it. I had also begun to gain a few pounds, I blamed that on unrelieved stress and increased my daily exercise. None of this seemed to help much. A lot more YOGA relieved the uncomfortable-after-meals sensations for a little while, but soon I was hungry again – not a little hungry, but really, stomach-growling, tired-feeling hungry.
What in the heck was going on with me? Was I falling apart? Did I have some elusive and uncommon digestive or circulatory disease? I ate the highest quality cuts of meat, concentrated on lean beef, white poultry, and fish. I loaded up on the fresh vegetables I love. I forced fruits that I do not love so much.
When the cardiologist told the HUB to discontinue eating
processed foods from the grocery store,
and restaurant foods
if he wanted to heal from his heart attack, I wondered if we could do it.
I am describing a lifestyle change…not a diet or an occasional change of meal plan or anything else small. If you are thinking of changing you eating habits, and you must be or you wouldn’t have read this far into the post, you will need to go whole hog. Mixing vegan dishes with your usual salt, sugar, and chemical laden choices will never work. The vegan dishes will taste flat, and your jaded taste buds will continue to lie to you. Remember this. Your taste buds have been addicted to refined sugar and salt in massive quantities. Your body needs to acclimate. As your body cleans itself of wastes and residue left behind and begins to heal, your tastes will change and it won’t take very long.