Saturday, April 21, 2018

Steel cut Oats at Chang Li Supermarket

Finally, Chang-Li Supermarket has started to carry Steel Cut Oats:

Quaker Steel Cut Oats
Note that they also have 3-minute Steel Cut Oats, but as long has you have a good rice cooker, you should not have any problem.

From a standpoint of nutritional value, note that the following sequence would apply:

  1. Steel Cut Oats
  2. 3-minute "Quick" Steel Cut Oats
  3. Old-Fashioned Oats
  4. Quick Old-Fashioned Oats

For diabetics what is important to know is that the pure Steel Cut Oats would also have the lowest Glycemic Index.

Oatmeal with berries (blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries), is super health, and I like it with a shredded green apple and lots of cinnamon and topped with a tablespoon (or two) of balsamic vinegar.

Steamed Kale, Sweet potato, with balsamic vinegar

After that, I have a "desert" of steamed kale with boiled sweet potato and again dressed with some balsamic vinegar.

P.S. In general, everyone who is on any medicine should discuss their diet with their doctor, for once you go on a whole foods, plant-based diet, your doses can often be reduced. This is especially true for diabetics. Recommended literature is:
  • for heart patients: Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease.
  • for diabetics: Dr. Neal Barnard, Dr. Neal Barnard's Program for Preventing and Reversing Diabetes.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

A Lovely Green and Yellow Recipe

Since leafy green vegetables are a staple of the WFPB diet, it is good to be handy with different possibilities of preparing them.

The following is a sauce based on the Southeast asian cooking tradition which has become a source of inspiration for me through the Bangladeshi community in my neighborhood.


  • a few onions, chopped
  • a few garlic cloves, chopped
  • optionally some chilis, chopped
  • some turmeric, peeled and sliced fine, or turmeric powder
  • a quart of vegetable broth.
  • a cup of split chick peas (chana dal)
  • your favorite green leafy vegetable: spinach, malabar spinach (poi leaves), callaloo, chard, you name it.


  •  Start to stir fry the onions, with the cut-up chilis dry, until they start to caramelize (about 4 mins), and then add some tablespoons of veggie broth.
  • add in the garlic and the turmeric, let it simmer for about 5 mins
  • add the remaining vegetable broth, bring to a slow boil
  • add the dal and let it simmer for 45 minutes
  • blend this mixture with an immersion blender
  • add in your green leafies and let it simmer until the vegetables are soft. Note: alternatively, you can cook the green leafies on the side and add them cooked. This may be necessary with things like callaloo where you have to cook the stems longer than the leaves.
The result is a yellowish sauce with green accents, and it is absolutely finger licking good. Serve over GABA brown basmati rice. You can serve along with almost any other vegetable dishes.

Overall, the whole secret of cooking without added Sugar, Oil or Salt is to use the natural flavors, including various herbs and spices, and soon you will find that everything tastes better and more natural.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

More Good Uses of Plants: Improving Indoor Air Quality

In 1997, a book appeared with the title How to grow fresh air: 50 house plants that purify your home or office, by B. C. Wolverton. It was based on research from NASA about how plants can clean up indoor air, and there is a lot of great advice in the book that will help you pick the plants that will improve your indoor air quality.

We are currently working with a neighborhood florist, Miguel's Flower Shop at 1878 Cross Bronx Expressway to help create more awareness of this issue.

Miguel regularly carries most of the flowers in the book, and he has a copy of the book available.

Here is a wall hanger with two different types of Sansevieria from Miguel's by my  bedroom window.

Sansevieria and also Aloe Vera produce oxygen at night, so they are ideal plants for the bedroom, whereas you want to avoid "normal" plants for the bedroom, since they will consume oxygen at night.
Aura gets her first Sansevieria

And here is Aura Meija buying a Sansevieria for her bedroom also. Aura has helped producing the Spanish version of a flyer for plants that clean the air for Miguel.

Miguel has a copy of the book in the store, and he can usually supply most of the plants that are mentioned in there, so be sure to talk to him, if you would like to make your indoor air healthier.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Some Notes on Cookware for your #WFPB kitchen

There really are few special requirements for the plant-based kitchen. For me the biggest thing has been that I became more critical than ever in choosing knives. And I keep them sharp better than I ever have in my life. Plus, I swear by the rice cooker.

Recently a lot of people are in love with Instant Pot. I am not sure I have space for it,  so for now I  am making do without, and I still think the rice cooker would be my first choice - I practically use it once or twice a day.

When it comes to pans, I guess for cooking without oil, a certain level of non-stick quality helps. Generally, any good stainless steel pan will do. I have a good set that after forty years still looks like new, Demeyere Silvinox, the Venus series, which were especially designed to cook vegetables in their own juice without the need for oil or water, and they are brilliant. The only thing they don't give me is a bottom that is suitable for induction heat. Plus, I ruined the bottom on the largest Dutch Oven in that set at one time due to serious overheating. As a replacement, I recently got one of their Atlantis series pans, the 4.2 Quart Dutch Oven, which can do induction heat - in fact, it is as efficient as any pan I've tried, and provides more even heat than most. Absolutely recommended, but not easy on the wallet, though I know from experience, they'll last a lifetime.

Stainless Steel

As noted above, to replace my earlier Demeyere Venus Dutch oven, I recently got a Demeyere Silvinox Atlantis series pans, the 4.2 Quart Dutch Oven.These pans remain some of my absolute favorites. They continue to look good forty years on, and the fact that in all that time I managed to ruin just one of my original set speaks volumes.

360 Cookware

Some folks in the plant-based community like the 360 cookware series, which I have not tried myself, but it sounds amazing, as it is specifically designed for cooking without oils or fats. Here is what Oprah had to say on their website:
It may look like a typical cookware set, but these stainless steel products have a special power: they're designed with technology that allows for healthy vapor cooking, which heats food faster and at lower temps, locks in flavor and nutrients and eliminates the need for added oils or fats.
That says it all. The pricing is in line with the Demeyere pans. It is all induction capable.

Made In Cookware

Another good option, which I have not personally tried, seems to be Made In Cookware. Worth checking out, if you ask me. Pricing is quite reasonable, and it seems to have high conductivity, and is completely induction capable. They have both stainless steel and non-stick varieties. For the non-stick they state you can absolutely cook without oil or fat.

The non-stick scene

The one thing to know in non-stick is that some of the coatings have become suspicious, because they do wear off, and some of the materials are definitely not healthy, particularly the ones with PFOA. The best advice seems to be to throw them out. There are a number of newer materials, and particularly some of the ceramic ones seem to be very good. Here is a great review site on these types of cookware, the Organic Authority.


One thing we did try recently was the CopperChef pans. From them, I got my first Induction heat cook top (my rice cooker already works with induction heat). I love the cook top, but there are many other choices besides CopperChef. To me the key feature is the better temperature control and the timer, which truly make life easy.

The pans are nice enough to use, but I don't think they wear very well, first of all the ceramic coating does wear off on the bottom from just the friction with the cooktop. Secondly, since these are rather thin aluminum pans, the heat distribution is not great, and in the central area, where the heat comes in, things will stick to the bottom and gradually the non-stick feature is becoming compromised and that is in their 9.5" Deep Square Pan, after about nine months of use. This is in spite of the fact that they specifically claim on their website that you can cook without butter or oil because of their non-stick quality.
7. Do I need to use any butter or oil?
The Copper Chef Deep Dish Pan is the first of its kind designed with Advanced Cerami-Tech Non-Stick Coating. There’s no need to add any extra butter, grease, or oil. For added flavor, you may season the cooking surface with natural oils such as olive, canola, or peanut oil.

Also, the edges are sharp and that is another place where the coating wears off almost immediately. Overall, the build quality is cheap, more army surplus than kitchen gear. Nevertheless, as long as it will last, I like cooking with them, but like I am saying here, it seems to deteriorate, so these pans will not last too long.

The company has been an absolute disaster to deal with. Our initial order arrived incomplete and it took a number of reorders and returns of wrong items before we received what we had ordered. I would not buy from them again for that reason.

I have a griddle from the same company, which I have used to roast some peppers, and very quickly it is losing it's non-stick properties gradually, right from the first use. Again, that indicates this coating does not stand up to use.

On the whole, I would say avoid. This stuff is over-hyped and not worth the money.


ScanPan is one brand about which I have heard good reports in the plant-based community. It is a ceramic non-stick product, with apparently above average conductivity. I have not tried these myself, but I am planning to get one once my CopperChef 9.5" Deep Square Pan is ripe for replacement. It looks like an amazing product.

That was it for for the cookware department. I don't pretend to be exhaustive, but these notes are based in part on my own experience, and in part on experience of others in the plant-based community.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Sautéeing without Oil

One of the greatest culture shocks for newcomers to the plant-based kitchen is cooking without oil, in particular when it comes to stir-fry, but once you start, you will be wondering why you ever did cook with oil, as literally everything tastes better.

Here is a beautiful demonstration of stir-frying without oil:

As a practical matter, you can make your life even easier by freezing some plant broth in an ice cube tray. Instead of a spoon of broth, I measure in terms of cubes.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

March WFPB Supper at Packsun

We had yet another dinner at Packsun, consisting of:

  • a spicy cucumber salad (with whole chilis)
  • brown basmati with wild rice, 
  • a yellow lentil sauce with malabar spinach, 
  • a dish of steamed green cauliflower, with onions, garlic, turmeric etc.
  • and as a surprise, a delicious soup of Eddoe, with onions, garlic and spices, pureed.
Of course, I was not fast enough, and the meal was half-eaten before I thought of taking a picture.

There were some people at the next table partaking of our meal also. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Learn How to Heal Yourself Event in the Bronx

Phenomenal Event last night with Bronx City Councilman Fernando Cabrera, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and Dr. Robert Ostfeld as keynote speaker. The occasion was the introduction of the #banthebaloney bill in the City Council and the introduction of meatless Mondays in the Bronx. The background was the presentation of the Whole Foods, Plant-Based diet as the alternative.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams told the story of his own complete healing from a disastrous diabetes diagnosis with complications, and subsequently the complete healing from diabetes of his 80-year old mother, who had been an active diabetic for 40 years.

The story of city Councilman Fernando Cabrera was almost more powerful than that, for when he was hospitalized, he was given 24 hours to live and he recovered completely with the whole foods, plant-based diet.

Both recognize the issue that school lunches establish bad habits for life and are introducing the #banthebaloney bill in the NY City Council to get processed meats out of school lunches, as they are no classified by the World Health Organization as a class 1 carcinogen, along with plutonium, tobacco and asbestos.

 Dr. Robert Ostfeld discussed the full range of health conditions that are improved dramatically by the Whole Foods, Plant-Based diet, more so than by any drug known to man:
Skin Appearance,
Ear Infections,
Periodontal disease,
Acid Reflux,
Laryngeal cancer,
Lung disease,
Breast cancer,
Heart disease,
Colon cancer,
Lower back pain,
Sexual Function,
Athletic performance,

In other words, what else do you need to know? Well maybe the following table, comparing the level of nutrition that you get on a plant-based diet versus an animal foods based diet.

The differences are laughable:
                                           Plant-based versus Animal-Based
                                           (Nutrition per 500 cal consumed)   

Cholesterol (mg)                0                             137
Fat (g)                                4                              36
Protein (mcg)                    33                            34
Beta-carotene (mcg)         29,919                     17
Dietary  fiber (g)               31                            0
Vitamin C (mg)                 293                           4
Folate (mcg)                     1168                         19
Iron (mg)                          20                             2
Magnesium (mg)              548                           51
Calcium (mg)                   545                           252

As I said: What else do you need to know?

Dr. Ostfeld also made mention that the results from the #WFPB diet for diabetics are 3x better than from a standard ADA (American Diabetes Association) diet, as documented recently by Dr. Neal Barnard in the new release of his book, Dr. Barnard's Program for Reversing Diabetes.