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Freakin’ Out Friday 4.15.16

diningravensIt seems like every other week a new cookbook is coming out. It’s hard to get excited when they are all seemingly the same. Quinoa can only be made so many ways you know? (yes I know there’s more than just quinoa)  I do enjoy a good recipe that I can whip up in 30 minutes or less, but sometimes you just want to dig in and spend some time cooking something different.

“Dining At The Ravens” starts off with a brief intro about the Stanford Inn by the Sea in Mendocino. It’s an inspiring story of not only connecting with our inner selves, but also to connect with our surroundings. They explain some rather uncanny events that brought the Stanford to life while they worked to fulfill their dream. Trees falling on their own to help with views and landscaping? Wow, that’s some serious attunement!

This is more than just a cookbook, it seriously gets to the heart of the whole food plant based/ vegan lifestyle. For the Stanford’s it starts with the land and always comes back to the land. With compassionate responsibility given to the way plants are grown to how they are used in the kitchen to how they are composted at the end; every single step is done with careful consideration. It all matters and it means something to them, it’s inspiring to say the least.

The recipes, again, are not something you are going to start cooking 30 minutes before putting dinner out for your family. These are not beginner recipes, but don’t let that dissuade you from trying. The recipes are well thought out and explained so that amateurs such as myself can easily attempt them. There are a few that are somewhat basic, but of course the presentation and photo makes them look 5-star. For instance, with summer coming soon I am interested in trying out the Potato Salad, which looks like a recipe I can handle.

The book is absolutely gorgeous inside and out. The photos are awe-inspiring and make me wish I had the culinary acumen to make half of them. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to try though! The Dolmas? Yeah I am really looking forward to making those, they ought to go perfectly at a mid summer cookout as finger food. I also can’t wait to try to make my own veggie stock, there’s a brilliant recipe for that here as well.

All cookbooks have their place. Like I said, most are quick and practical cookbooks that are targeted at the beginner to this lifestyle. Those are super helpful as they teach us how to use certain ingredients as comparable alternatives to foods we were used to. “Dining At The Ravens” is more than that and is for those that want to take a bit more time with their food. I believe that spending the proper time to cook these recipes, the cook and their guests will truly witness something magical.

Book Review: Cookin’ Up A Storm

Courtesy of Book Publishing Co.

Having been born and raised on Cape Cod, I feel like those of us that live here have a closeness to whales. Growing up it was a rite of passage in a way to go on a whale watch in Stellwagen Bank.  We even have the luxury when we are fifth graders of spending a week at the NEED Program in Truro, MA learning about the environment, aquaculture and the National Seashore. My son did it last year and it was great to reflect back on my time there via his experiences. Fast forward from fifth grade and those ideas of compassion toward whales have never gone away. I’ve worked personally with members of the Center For Coastal Studies and garnered friendships with past employees. I’m going a bit off the rails here.

I remember watching my first episode of Whale Wars, admiring the fearlessness of each member of the crew. I’ve been a fan of what the Sea Shepherd Society does since then.  Who are the folks at Sea Shepherd? Read more

Book Review: Thug Kitchen Party Grub

thugkitchenCooking good plant based/ vegan food can be a chore sometimes. You have to hunt down all sorts of exotic ingredients, teach yourself some technical cooking proficiencies and HOPE that the end result is something you, your family and friends might enjoy. I know I’ve made some bomb meals; those bombs were not “da bomb”, they were explosive both before and after!

This fine folks over at Thug Kitchen bring you part two to the pinnacle of palatable plant based profanity. Thug Kitchen: Party Grub is filled with a plethora of new recipes tested and approved for “social mother-f*ckers!” These 100 new recipes are delectable dishes of prestigious perfection.  Bah, enough of the platitudes…

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“The Plant Based Journey” Book Review, Recipe + Giveaway

pbjstopNo fluff needed; this is by far one of the most bold + succinct books on transitioning to a Plant Based/ Vegan lifestyle. Don’t get me wrong, there are so many great books out there that will help. If it weren’t for books such as The China Study, Whole and more; I would have had a tougher time transitioning. But, those books were written from a different perspective, and that’s from a scientific approach. For someone who needs practical every day advice on transitioning, that may not work. We of course all need to know the “why” as far as this lifestyle goes, but the “how” is the really important stuff.

Lani Muelrath is as legit as they come. She has become one of the most well-known PB/ Vegan Fitness coaches and has worked with many of the big names in the field such as McDougal, Barnard, etc.  I could name all of them for you, but you know them already. Or, just go to http://www.lanimuelrath.com/ where she tells you all about it.

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The Campbell Plan

campbellWho says health isn’t a family affair? Thomas Campbell’s father, T.Colin Campbell, is a household name in plant based health circles. Not only with doctors and researchers, but he is well known with regular folk like you and me. In his book, “The China Study”, T.Colin Campbell put together data in one of the largest scientific experiments which set out to prove that eating a plant based diet can help deter and even cure disease.

Years later, “Whole” was released. This was an extension of “The China Study” yet it took a different avenue. I like to think of the two books this way. “The China Study” is the why, and “Whole” is the what and who. So where’s the how?

That’s the direction Thomas has taken here. Laid out in three main parts, “The Campbell Plan” brings a level of cohesiveness that may help those that are struggling with the transition to a plant based lifestyle. The first section is a summary of the research he and his father put together in “The China Study”. Compared to the book itself, the synopsis of it in part one is clear and concise enough to get the point across to those that maybe had a hard time following along with the size and scope of “The China Study”. There’s a bit more to the section than that, but it’s more of the what that I was mentioning before. Like a good baseball line-up, the section is the table setter as it gets you ready for the rest of the information coming in the next two parts. Read more

The Plantpower Way: Whole Food Plant-Based Recipes and Guidance for The Whole Family

ppw-cover-frontRich Roll has become just as synonymous with ultra running and veganism as Scott Jurek and Brendan Brazier. He hosts a frequently updated podcast and authored “Finding Ultra,” which helps us understand the catalyst for the change in Rich’s life. In “Finding Ultra,” he hits a point at age 40 where he was questioning just about everything about himself. Without ruining the story for those that don’t know, for those that do, we know where he has gone since then. At age 41 I wish I have half the story he does at his current age.

“Plantpower Way” is a natural progression as far as writing goes for Rich, and co-author Julie Priatt. With the first book, we got the story of what brought him to this point, but what (and how) does he maintain the lifestyle? Being a vegan ultra athlete has to be hard, right? Raising a family on a whole food plant based diet can’t be easy, can it? We are told how difficult it is, how expensive it is and how time consuming a lifestyle could be. This couldn’t be any further from the truth.

What Rich and Julie offer here are not only tips and tricks, but recipes that are open to interpretation. The recipes are simple and straightforward. Even if you are a novice cook, there is something here. The ingredients are not uber expensive either. Bonus: there are extremely gorgeous pictures of most of the dishes. I shared a recipe for the Ultra Energy bars, which are in the book. You can see that HERE and try them out for yourself.

The important part here is that the book is down to earth. Rich and Julie have offered up something here that is unique. With a tender approach, they light the way on a path of health, fitness and overall wellness. I appreciate the fact this book has a family element to it. My boys have been struggling with the transition, my youngest specifically. Being able to show him pictures, and letting him see images of Rich’s children comforts him and let’s him know he is not the only one. This lifestyle can be hard on a young guy, so I am grateful for the opportunity to have a book like this available.

PlantPure Nation Cookbook: Review, Recipe + Giveaway

plantpureSoon, another cutting edge documentary will drop. PlantPure Nation is brought to you by the folks that were involved with The China Study, Whole and the ground breaking film, Forks Over Knives. You may think that if you have seen one of these films that you’ve seen them all. That cannot be any further than the truth.

PlantPure Nation exposes serious hurdles in gaining nutritional momentum via the US Government. From lobbyists who work for big agricultural companies, to politicians so ingrained with those lobbyists, the truth comes out on the how much those lobbyists and businesses control. It is so far reaching, the legitimacy of this film will be difficult to debunk.

Nelson Campbell worked with Rep. Tom Riner to build on this non-binding resolution by developing and introducing House Bill 550, which mandated a pilot program that would document the health benefits of a plant-based diet. But once the bill went into committee, industry lobbyists woke up to the threat posed by the initiative. What followed was one of the most intensive lobby efforts ever in Kentucky. As the bill’s sponsor Rep. Riner put it, HB 550 was watered down to “a shadow of its former self”, turned “from steel to Reynolds Wrap.” from the PlantPure Nation synopsis

Nelson Campbell is the son of Plant Based Nutrition advocate Dr. T. Colin Campbell. This film continues to prove that Dr. Campbell’s work is important as ever. Not only are they fighting to show how beneficial the plant based diet is for us, but the impacts of what it will do to the environment if it were put into play.

As a companion to the film, Nelson’s wife Kim, offers up simple and tasty recipes that even the most novice of chef could pull off. That includes myself. What I really like is the full color photos of each recipe, that way I can tell how my creation stands up against Kim’s. 9/10 it’s not close, but I can try right? She uses a lot of different substitutes for things you might have around that are not plant based. There are recipes for plant based mayonnaise and all sorts of sauces. If you think making the change to this lifestyle might be hard, relax, it’s not. With Kim’s help we can all provide ourselves, and our families, with healthy food that will not only fill our bellies but nourish our souls.

I’ve been given the opportunity to share one of my favorite recipes from the book. Not only do I enjoy it, but even my kids ate it! Keep reading after the recipe, BenBella is offering one reader of Over + Under It the opportunity to win a free copy of the cookbook.

Sloppy JoesSloppy Joes

Yields: 4 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes Cook Time: 20 minutes

The bulk of this sandwich is wheat bulgur. It gives the filling a meaty texture and absorbs flavor perfectly. I prefer to use wheat bulgur instead of veggie meat products or textured vegetable protein because those products are highly processed and made from isolated soy protein, which is not a healthy whole food.

  • 1¾ cups water, divided
  • ¾ cup wheat bulgur, uncooked
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 6 ounces mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced medium
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded and diced small
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 celery stalk, finely diced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • ½ cup low-sodium ketchup (no high-fructose corn syrup)
  • 2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
  • 2 tablespoons vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 whole wheat burger buns
  1. Bring 1½ cups of the water to a boil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the bulgur wheat. Cover and let stand for 20 minutes. Drain any excess liquid.
  2. In a skillet over medium-high heat, sauté all the vegetables in the remaining ¼ cup water. When the veggies are tender, add the molasses, ketchup, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, salt, pepper, and cooked bulgur wheat and cook over low heat for 15 minutes. Stir often.
  3. Serve on the whole wheat burger buns.

Kim’s Hint: If you want to use more bulgur wheat, just keep the ratio of 2 parts water to 1 part bulgur wheat.


So, how do you get a copy? All I ask is that you check out the PlantPure Nation Kickstarter page and view the trailer. If you feel so inclined, support the Kickstarter. I did! Once you have visited, comment here to let me know you did and that will count as your entry.

While you are out there visiting pages you can like the Over + Under It Facebook page and the Plantpure Nation Facebook page. If you did, say so in the comment and I will add in additional entries for the contest.

I will announce the winner Monday night after I get home from work.

Review: No Meat Athlete

no-meat-athlete-book-coverIt’s rare to have a complete book that aligns with everything you strive to be, and I’m not shocked that Matt Frazier was the one who wrote it. I have followed Matt’s blog/ website, No Meat Athlete, for quite a while now. This past year, at the Vermont Spartan Beast World Championship, I even saw a runner wearing a NMA shirt. It seemed that Matt was everywhere I was. Heck, I even follow his podcast, it’s great listening out on a run.

What I have liked about Matt’s approach is the simplicity. Whether it’s a recipe for an energy bar or a smoothie, the instructions are simple and open to interpretation. His love for animals is not over the top and militant vegan like, I appreciate someone who cares but isn’t beating me over the head with his “Mercy For Animals” membership card..

So, having had time to sit down and read the book it’s great to see a continuation of everything I’ve already known about him, and more. The stories of some of his triumphs and even the sincerity of his failures are refreshing. His writing style is down to earth and he’s not trying to overwhelm you with science. He eats for results, and his results have shown that what he eats, and how he treats his body, works for him.

Read more

Review: Meat Is For Pu$$ies!

Meat-is-for-Pussies_hc-copyDisclaimer: I’m not here to argue whether the title of the book is appropriate, I didn’t write it nor would I have chosen it for a title if I had. That said, John Joseph did write it and he chose it. It is his view point, not mine. If you know, or have heard of John before, than you will understand the brash, blunt approach he has taken. To be honest, I appreciate folks who don’t mince words and are true to what they believe. I was extremely interested in the book so I read it, not for it’s title, but for it’s content.

Let’s paint a picture of the author here first, that way you can comprehend his gruff approach. John Joseph was vocalist for one of the most influential hardcore bands out of NYC, the Cro-Mags. The NYC hardcore scene is world renowned and the Cro-Mags continue to influence bands all over to this day.

cromags04A cross section of the hardcore scene calls themselves “straight-edge” and you can tell them apart as they always have X’s sharpie’d onto there hands. Without talking to much about that, John Joseph belonged to a growing number of vegans and vegetarians within that scene. John has never been known to pull punches, it’s part of the hardcore lifestyle, and he has been vocal about vegetarianism/ veganism.  That may seem to you odd as most hardcore folk were covered in tattoos, were bruised from the mosh pit and talked like sailors; it really wasn’t uncommon though.

Now that that’s out of the way, what about the book and it’s content?

In 2010 “Meat Is For Pussies” was published. The vegan world really hadn’t read something like it. Sure, there were plenty of books out there that talked about the science behind it, recipe books were abundant, but nothing had been written quite like this book.  John being who he is, didn’t shy away from dropping an f-bomb here and there. He tells it like it is, in his own words. I graciously appreciate that and it reminds me of another character, Noah Levine. Noah is a Buddhist teacher who came from the streets of CA, not unlike John and his NYC street stories. They’ve both grown up though, set a lot of the BS from there lives behind them and become bigger icons within the scenes they are involved with.

photo: Ray Lego

What is absolutely awesome about this book is how it shatters the misconception that a vegan has to be some underweight pip squeak who eats like a rabbit. Have you seen John? The guy is a monster! He’s in the gym frequently and, umm, he’s an Ironman Triathlete! Yeah, you read that right. He’s a bad-ass. Did I tell you he’s also 50+ years old?

Here’s John on diets and dieting:

“I don’t care what your sister or your girlfriend or your buddy at the gym sayd; you’ve gotta recognize diets for what they are; a way for a pussy to take a shortcut instead of doing real work. There are no shortcuts to health and sustainable weight loss.”

I appreciate his “shit list” of food additives. He shares a bunch of his favorite superfoods and tells us why, of course he does. Besides John’s opinions on food and veganism, there’s some workouts in here from John’s trainer and tons of “super badass”recipes.

If you are like me, sometimes you need a kick in the pants and this book, while not a work of academia or literature, is totally necessary. John is as real as they come, expect no less in the book.


Review: The Best Green Smoothies On The Planet ( + giveaway)

green smoothi** giveaway details at bottom**

Nowadays you see “green smoothie” this and “green smoothie” that. One person tells you that they are good for you and that you can become healthier by drinking more of them. The one thing they don’t do is tell you how and why!

Tracy not only explains the how and the why, she breaks down each ingredient for it’s health benefit. For instance, one of my favorite recipes in the book is the Coconut Peach Smoothie.

Why? Because it’s calcium rich without having to consume dairy products to get it! It’s only four simple ingredients so it’s super easy to make!

Coconut Peach Smoothie
2 peaches, pitted
1/2 mango, peeled and pitted
3 large chard leaves, stems removed
4 oz unsweetened coconut milk

This smoothie is packed with 13% of the days calcium!

Even more detailed, here’s what else it is packed with. Calories: 245 • fat: 4g • protein: 7g • carbs: 53g • vitamin a • 90% • vitamin c: 145%

Peaches are a good source of Vitamin A and C. Mangoes are a powerhouse and contain Vitamins A, B, C and E. They are also packed with 11% of your needed omega-3s! And Swiss chard is a great source of beta-carotene and Vitamin K. Naturally, it provides a decent source for sodium.

I didn’t have to research any of that. It’s all in the book.

Tracy isn’t trying to sell you something, she’s trying to provide you with the best ingredients for your health and your health goals.

I’m looking forward to making more smoothies from this book and hope you will try it as well.

As a matter of fact, the publisher has agreed to let me give away one copy to a lucky reader! Just comment on this post and I will pick one winner, at random, after 24 hours! Good luck!