Monthly Archives: September 2012

Ann Arbor Vegan Dining at Jazzie Veggie

Ann Arbor Food

Mum Season: It is officially Fall

Keeping with my Vegan theme for the week, I attended my second Vegan Meetup event in Ann Arbor. It was at Jazzie Veggy on Main Street.

They do a lot of “faux meat items,” which are big hits with the Vegan set. There was “chicken” nuggets, soy sausage, “meat balls” with spaghetti, and more. I am looking to transition out of eating gluten, which means that most of the faux meat is off the menu.

They offered some fun apps of sweet potato fries and Plantain Chips.

We had the Krab cakes, very tasty, the veggie enchiladas and carrot cake.

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Mushroom Sandwich

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“Krab” Cakes: Very Yummy, I must have

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Enchilada w/Spanish Rice

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Ann Arbor Vegan Meetup at Zingerman’s Road House

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Smoked Potato and Avocado Soup: Tomatillo and Avocado broth w/smoked potatoes

Today was my first day eating completely vegan. I have been looking into going Mostly Vegan for a while and when I found Ann Arbor’s vegan meetup group was hosting an all vegan meal at Zingerman’s Road House, I jumped at the chance.

The meal was great. The soup was rich and satifying. And the beans and rice were excellent, smokey and flavorful with local shiitake mushrooms.

Ann Arbor Vegan Meetup host dinners out once a month to a local restaurant.

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Chef Alex of Zingerman’s Road House visits the Dining Room

Chef Alex came out before the meal and talk to us about the menu offerings. Many items came directly from the restaurant’s garden. You can’t beat that. I can eat like this everyday.

Alex said something that really stood out. He said that he had wanted to cook an all vegan meal for some time, but until now there was never a group large enough to do it.

Most restaurants will not go out on a lim to offer many vegan choices because the number (dinner tickets) are not there to make it worth while.

With that said, chef are a creative lot and many would jump at the chance to challenge themselves to export vegan. Showing up with 60-70 vegan dinners ready to eat might be the best strategy to get a great vegan meal from an award winning chef.

So here is what we had. (Soup or salad, choice of entree and dessert $25)

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Pickled Watermelon Salad w/ arugula

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Roasted Squash-Eggplant Crispy Lasagna w/ roasted tomato gravy (Entree one)

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Quinau Pilau w/Curried Squash Slaw (Entree two)

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Sea Island Peas and Dirty Mushroom Rice (Entree Three)

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Chocolate Beet Cake w/Fresh Berries

Ann Arbor Project Grow Community Gardens 40th Anniversary Bash

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Ann Arbor’s Project Grow Community Gardens caped off another season with their 40th Anniversary Bash for over 100 follow gardeners.

Like always, the p0tluck featured some great eats with lots of fresh veggies from the garden and cuisine that reflected the diversity of gardeners in our community.

Notable favorites of mine was the veggies pakora, lentils with mixed greens, my foccacia bread, dueling quinoa dishes, ginger top pickles and hot blueberry and apple crisp and more and more. And did I mention we had a whole roasted pig and crispy duck.

Thanks everyone for a great party and a great year.

Check out the pics.

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Arthritis and Diet

Toasted Sesame Seeds

Short Grain Brown Rice and Electric Steamer

These two picture represent a radical switch in the change in my lifestyle.

Brown rice is the staple food in the Macrobiotic Diet and most on the diet like myself put toasted sesame seeds on their rice.

I talked a bit in the last few posts about going back into macrobiotics and vegan, but besides for weight loss, there is another major reason.

I have arthritis.

It is not official. I still need to see a Rheumatologist and get x-rayed or an MRI, but everything I have read suggests that I have a pretty classic cast for someone my age who also has psoriasis.

I have some on a joint on both hands, which is not too bad. But the real issue is that I now have it on the right side of the bottom of my lower back.

What does this means?

Almost over night I went from being normal functioning person (just out of shape) too not.

It is now hard to walk up stairs, walk fast, I need to be careful getting out of bed, getting up from sitting, getting out of the car and a subtle twist in motion can set it off.

And forget lifting heavy things, jogging or other activities.

It basically sucks. (Maybe I will look back and be grateful, but not today)

I feel like I became a old person over night. This all basically started a week or so ago at least on my back.

As for what to do about it, I am taking glucosamine/chondroitin, which is the standard go to supplement for arthritis and I am also taking fish oil.

The big change is a switch in diet, which is anti-inflammatory like macro/vegan.

This is all in the try and see phase because no one really knows what to do. I a still waiting for a treatment for psoriasis that won’t destroy my immune system in the process (and not even work).

As for medical science, besides for a handful of meds with major side effects (I cannot even take advil because of a reaction and hydrocortisone, which cause sblotting…also bad because it can create edema) I am basically on my own.

This is about the time Dr. House is suppose to come in with his miracle cure after misdiagnosing me at least three other times. He will give me some meds, a shot or IV drip to make me all better.

But that is TV and this is real life.

With that said, there are a bunch of books on arthritis with diet, supplements and exercise with some folks (on amazon book review) stating positive results.

At least that is something.

In the mean time a macro/vegan diet (with some fish) is the course of action.

No matter what, losing the 80-90 pounds I need to will help out my back (I hope) and I need to do this no matter what.

 

 

Mostly Food Communities

I have recently ventured back into my old food stomping grounds of Macrobiotic and Vegan toward being healthier. (See recent post)

Looking back, I started thinking about why I got off the Macro program.

In a previous post, I mention that the Macrobiotic diet was too strict. This was not just strict rules of the food do’s and don’t list.

It was also the strict people on the program.

I recall when I left the Kushi Institute to moved to Ann Arbor. I was teaching Macrobiotic cooking classes at Whole Foods and I had a fan.

This woman came to everyone of my classes, asked tons of questions and approached me during breaks and while I was packing up to talk shop.

Then during my dessert class, I used fruit juice to make a vegan cantan (jello) that was sweetened with agave nectar. Macrobiotics are strict about their sweeteners and agave was not on the list.

She called me on it and that was that. During the class break she left and never returned to another one of my classes.

I had broken the strict rules of Macro and I guess in her eyes I was no longer a part of the tribe.

And this is not an isolated experience. I felt judged and like an outcast for not being a perfect macro eater on many occasions from the community.

I suppose this is common. Vegans may do the same thing if they outed me eating a cheese burger.

The thing is we need community.

When you start a new healthy lifestyle, it is easy to feel like an orphan.

Everyone else is eating pizza and steak and we are the weirdos in the corner eating brown rice and spouts.

Of course, we figure that we will eventually find other people from a smaller tribe of folks who eat and think our new way, but imagine that this new tribe is a tough room with strict rules.

We already broke ties with the majority of folks with our new healthy lifestyle. But say if we also feel left out of the small tribe?

That is how me and Emily felt. Although we embraced the Macro diet (for a time), we had a hard time with the strict people.

I also felt this way when I was on Weight Watchers. The community is more flexible, but week after week, from the lectures, I got the message that the folks who strictly followed the program were where it was at. The rewards were from following the program and the shame/failure was from not.

For me Food is more than nutrition. It is about community and being social.

Food is about life.

This brings me to my “Mostly” Food Community idea.

While I probably could not pass for a Strict Macro or Vegan today , there are many things I have in common with these community, but if they are all-or-nothing then I am shut out (or faking in order to fit in).

So I propose the idea of Mostly Food Communities. These are folks like myself who for the most part follow many of the practices of a food community, but are a little more flexible.

They can bring a vegan/macro dish to a vegan/macro potluck and share food and community, but they are not all-or-nothing folks.

A good example of this is my community garden pot lucks. We have meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans, not to mention all sort of folks with various food allergies and personal food rules.

For the most part the offerings are vegetarian with many vegan items. If you want great veggie dishes good to a community garden potluck.

I tend to bring a vegan dish, but their will always be the guy who brings pork ribs or chicken wings. The difference with my community garden potlucks is that no one walks out in a huff because someone broke their food community rule. They simple don’t eat the wings and opt to hit up the vegan tabouli salad and grilled tofu.

The potluck is a mixed food community with tendency to vegetarian.

As for going to a Strict Food Community event, I would comply with the food rules. I mean, I don’t want to be the guy who brought the pork ribs at a kosher potluck.

With that said, I am going to my first social vegan restaurant dinner on Tuesday with a large vegan community.

I plan to eat an all vegan meal for the event, but if asked I will say that I am mostly macrobiotic/vegan.

 

 

Macrobiotic Redux

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Tilapia with ginger orange and soy, steamed rice and miso/chili cabbage with red pepper

A few years back, I used to eat a Macrobiotic diet. The diet consisted of a lot of brown rice, veggies, beans and occasional fish.

At the time I was on the diet, I was very over weight and unhealthy and I turned to the program for health and weight loss. And it worked. In about a year, I had lost 90 pounds.

I was healthier and felt great.

Now, I find myself in pretty much where I was back then. I am 80-90 pounds over weight again. My bad habits kicked in over the years, but the Macrobiotic program in retrospect seemed too strict, which caused me to rebel against it.

But looking back now, I might have thrown out the baby with the bath water as the saying goes,

Instead of adding some items to a strict macro diet, I gave it all up. There were a lot of things that actually work, some that didn’t, but as a based diet it worked.

Macrobiotic introduced me to brown rice, sea vegetables, shiitake mushrooms, the use of miso, and dark leafy green veggies like kale and collards. It also got me into radishes, turnips and winter squash.

And macro introduced me to beans and fermented food like quick pickles.

I also learned about macro desserts, which using rice syrup, barley malt and maple for sweeteners instead of crystal sugar. They also use fresh and dried fruits and whole wheat flour or rice for sweet puddings.

With that said, the  version of the Macrobiotic diet I followed did not allow:

Meat, dairy, Eggs
Spices (including black pepper)
Garlic, Ginger
Very limited use of oil in cooking (non preferred)
Most herbs (except parsley)
Raw Food (no salad, or raw fruit)
Limited baked good, limited use of baking for cooking
No nightshade veggies (eggplant, tomato, potato, and peppers)
No spinach or chard
No chocolate
No tropical food (coconut, fruits)
No Coffee
No fried food (limited)

Fish was allow, but limited (non preferred)
Nut butters were allow (to be avoided or limited)

For those not familiar with macro who are looking at the No list, you might ask, “What the heck can you eat.”

My new approach to Macro is a hybrid. I plan to use the items on the No List, while keeping to the foundation of the Macrobiotic Diet of brown rice, veggie and bean based meals.

The meal above represents my new take.

It has the macro brown rice staple and includes a veggie dish with steamed fish. But I include a little oil in the rice, ginger with the fish, and red peppers and chili sauce with the vegetable. And for good measure, I have a (raw) orange with the meal.

The meal was tasty and uber healthy.

I can’t help but think if I allow myself a little more leeway with macro and ate meals like this one, I would not have gained back the weight.