Sunday, February 28, 2010

Weekend Vegan Warrior

Saturday morning my friend, who crashed at my apartment, and I ate at the diner around the corner. I had a bowl of oatmeal, and as he nursed his hangover with sausages and eggs I did not envy him or his breakfast one bit.

After some snow ball tossing, we met up with a nice Irish lass who has not seen me since my endeavor and it is always good to hear the compliments and surprise. It's more shock in my discipline than in the weight I lost. We traveled to the bar Brass Monkey in the Meat Packing District and climbed over snow drifts inside to watch the big 6 Nations rugby tournament between England and Ireland. Actually, my virgin Bloody Mary suited me just fine as we watched the first half of this spirited match. At the half we added my buddy's girlfriend to the caravan and went across town to a great bar, Arctica, to meet my Irish and Kiwi friends. The game was spectacular with Ireland edging out the win in the closing minutes. The beers were flowing and I quickly surveyed those with a healthy, smiling buzz, and those who were legless, locked, and langers. Damn, I thought, that used to be me. Not moderate drinking for fun like most of the bar, but the ones who live by the mantra 1 is too many and 10 is not enough. What a shame I wasted so many years turning the knob on the fun amplifier to "11." But, the real kicker? I had a great time! Take that, sour-puss, failed Friday Night fun seeker!

Lunch was at P.J. Clarke's where I had the delicious Third Avenue Vegetable salad.

Saturday night a girlfriend and I went to the oft-suggested, Red Bamboo in Greenwich Village. Red Bamboo is a tiny restaurant with no reservations taken. We got there around 7:30 and the wait was only :30 minutes. They took my cell number and we walked across to the Irish Pub, Four Faced Liar. Since we dated very seriously 5 years ago, and she was the only girlfriend I was motivated enough to walk down 47th Street (i.e. the Diamond District) for, she has a very unique perspective on this new lifestyle change. In the end, she loves this endeavor of mine, and just like all the others asked the question, "Why did you wait until now?" To that I can only say, "It was time." I could not do it for anyone except for me. But even though it is an enormous step, it is still just a step, as Friday night reminded me. Changing my lifestyle must be complete to ensure that I keep it up for the rest of my life.

Red Bamboo was excellent!

Yes, there were the requisite "vegan looking" patrons - malnourished, tattooed, pierced, and with hair that looked like they combed it with an eggbeater, complete with Buddy Holly style glasses. But there were plenty of people who looked just like us, and families, too!

Another great thing about vegan restaurants? The price. For the cost of a burger and fries in Midtown, you can get a gourmet meal, a healthy gourmet meal.

My appetizer was the: Dragonfly Dumplings - Rice flour dumplings filled with shredded soy protein, veggie shrimp, carrots and cabbage lightly fried and served over a mixed greens salad with soy-ginger dressing…$5.95. It was light and tasty, and I really enjoyed it. My entree was the: Grilled Bourbon Chicken - Jerk marinated soy chicken grilled to perfection served over mixed greens with a side of sesame basmati rice and steamed vegetables…$11.95. This was an awesome meal and I defy any meat eater to say that this is not real chicken.

Now, here I am back into the debate between simply "going vegan," and my playbook of nutrient-dense eating for life. There had to be some molasses and other ingredients on the soy chicken that Dr. Fuhrman would not whole-heartily endorse.

In the end, the meal was a far superior health alternative to any dish I would have had at any one of the new BBQ places that are popping up around the city faster than Benetton's in the 1980's.

For breakfast on Sunday I traveled to Lansky's Jewish Deli/Diner on the Upper West Side. As it was brunch there were a few giant pastrami sandwiches and all sorts of omelet dishes. No matter, it was just nice to be out and about with "normal" New Yorkers (hint: there is no such thing anymore). I happily had a bowl of oatmeal with bananas, and an English muffin with peanut butter, and with the Sunday Post and Times I was as happy as could be.

One article in the Times caught my eye. In an article about food stamps it mentioned that the top two items purchased in New York's poorest areas with these stamps were red meat and milk. Interesting.

Foolishly Chasing Fun in the Snow

Friday morning I ate a huge breakfast of a plate of fruit, and then a bowl of oatmeal, so I was not hungry until around 2, 2:30. I ordered from Takism a "Sheppard's Salad" which is diced tomatoes, onions, and cucumbers and asked for them to go very light on the oil. Also has their awesome lentil puree soup, and a falafal wrap. Smartly, and in keeping with my Lenten promise I did not order the bread with hummus.

But today, with the snow coming down in buckets, I immediately thought of 10 bars I would rather be in enjoying the snow with glasses of whiskey, a plate of fries, and fellow fun seekers. Tradition dictates that is what one does when the city is socked with snow.

Friday night a buddy came into town and we went out. In the old days the pursuit of fun usually meant bar hopping and skipping dinner until around midnight when I would crave a couple of slices of pizza. This past Friday I stupidly forwent dinner as we bar hopped around Manhattan. As the night kicked into high gear around 11 PM I was hungry and began to envy and get annoyed with those around me as intoxication lubed everyone around me into joyful celebration. That night I thought to myself, "sobriety sucks." Clearly, I put myself in this position. I did not march to my own drummer, instead I lived a life of desperately fun-chasing grumpy sober guy.

So, great, I resisted temptation for the 400th time, but I was not in a position to enjoy myself.

The night ended, like they all do, at my local, P.J. Clarke's. Seeing bar friends at 1 AM with silly grins and cackles I realized that living the current life without drinking was not fun. I should have done things I enjoyed and been fast asleep at that hour instead of trying to relive the good old days, days replete with horrible eating habits, drunkenness and all around unhealthy living. Although some people complemented me on how I look I had to ask myself, "Why am I here?"

Although those old days contributed to my life-threatening health, they were fun. I have to find new fun.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Call of the Wild

Was pounded by snow - 20.9" - so I am trying to summon the ghost of Jack London to adequately write my blog.

I will have to wait til tomorrow to write about my last 2 days as I went out last night before I grabbed dinner, and I have been out all day today.

Tomorrow I update, and write about some interesting observations, and struggles this weekend.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

2 Pounds Lighter, but 2 Big Steps Back Today

"Ignosce mihi, Pater, quia peccavi."

Between my grilled asparagus and steamed broccoli for lunch and my rigorous work out at the gym after work I had this unnatural desire, and stupidly acted upon it to shove handfuls of toffee covered peanuts in my mouth. Why? Why? Why? My body is craving sugar, and I have been good with satiating it with fruit, but I fell back today, shamefully.

Lunch was with clients down in TriBeCa at Market Table. A quaint place and the food looked great. I say looked because there was not much I could do with the menu except get sides. So, I had the small salad with blood oranges and sides of grilled asparagus and broccoli. Both quite good.

Not an hour later I was craving something sweet, and because there is not a fruit stand at the ready in the middle of a snow/rain storm in Times Square I chose the weak path and grabbed a tin of toffee covered peanuts. Of course they advertise 0% Trans Fats, but it is sugar coated peanuts. What was I thinking? I threw away the half eaten (2/3 actually) tin in an effort to stop myself.

The gym work out was intense and I was happy that I was down 43 lbs on the scale, but in the end, it was a poor day.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Day 116

Today I decided to try the "banana oatmeal" at the cafe and after one scoop I could see that in addition to the bananas mixed with oatmeal there was brown sugar. I filled the rest of the cup up with regular oatmeal. As I would taste the brown sugar every four spoonfuls or so I would feel decadent. Imagine, feeling decadent because 10% of my cup of oatmeal had been sprinkled with brown sugar. This is what is working so well on this vegan quest for me - appreciation of good food, and an appreciation of guilty pleasures when they are seemingly minute. For example my views of decadence then and now:


Pre-November 1st - a plate-eclipsing cheesy egg omelet, bacon, sausages, hash browns, biscuits and gravy, and a tall glass of whole milk...and afterwards a very strong, spicy, gin Bloody Mary while leafing through the Sunday New York Times, and swapping stories of the previous night's after-reception follies, sitting on a columned porch in Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts with hungover members of the wedding party...ahhh, sister-in-law of the maid-of-honor's cousin, whatever your name was, if you're reading this, call me! OK, got carried away there, was thinking of a specific wedding I went to 16 years ago. Back to the food!

Post-November 1st - a quarter teaspoon of brown sugar in my oatmeal. Yes, you may laugh, but it is true! When you eat healthfully as a rule - as a habit, then food stuffs that are bad for you taste amazing in such non-harmful quantities! After tasting the small quantity of brown sugar in my oatmeal, I had no desire to run out to Krispy Kreme for glazed donut...something I would have done just a few months ago. After months of oatmeal and raisins only, I really enjoyed a little brown sugar, but no desire to start adding it to my daily breakfast at all. It was just a nice little reprieve, that's it.

Lunch was a great. Went to Sarafina's with colleagues and a client. Don't let the fact that it's a chain fool you, they really do a great job there. I had the cauliflower soup - no cream used - and it was quite tasty. And as I had last week I enjoyed the vegetable platter - spaghetti squash with mixed vegetables, pine nuts, and tomato sauce. Really refreshing and really good. As with all business luncheons of mine, the topic of conversation eventually got around to my diet, my lifestyle change. My client has known me for 10 years and she is now the second person to remark on my skin looking better, or healthier. I never thought I had bad skin at all, and none of my old photos seem to indicate that, but I guess when you purge your body of unhealthy food and drink, and commit to a nutrient-dense diet your face looks more alive. Of course she reminded me of how she's always known me to live - full speed with no stop lights. I do get terrific satisfaction and happiness with encouragement from others who are genuinely pleased with this new lifestyle change. But I have to admit, I do get a little embarrassed when I am reminded how excessively I used to live my life.

Today I started getting those stomach aches again. I really wish I knew what it was. It's severe for an hour or so, and then it subsides.

For dinner I picked up the Vegetarian Powerhouse Salad at Chop't but only ate half of it. Not hungry because of the sore stomach.

Need sleep I guess so going to bed early, well, it was early until I started writing this!

I must report, the pressure is really on now to stay faithful to this blog. Yesterday, after my story went up on Dr. Fuhrman's website I had over 1,000 new people view this blog! It's staggering to think that so many people are reading this and probably pointing out grammatical errors, or even worse, finding errors in my comments about nutrition. To those of you in the later category, I say to you tonight, be patient, I am still learning. My formal education on nutrition started and stopped around the time I was 10 years old. It was summed up thusly -- eat the four food groups: (1. meats, poultry, fish, eggs, nuts. 2. dairy, milk and cheese. 3. grains. 4. fruits and vegetables - all with equal importance applied to each food group). That has been proven to be not the best idea for a healthy diet today!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010



No, not the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty, but sodium chloride.

Cultivated for thousands of years it has a an extensive history from trading with China, to Egyptian funerals, to the bible. It was needed to preserve meat back in the day, but obviously, no longer.

I have had the same 1 lb canister of Morton's Salt for the past 12 years - my roommate back in '98 loved salt. Obviously, I don't salt much.

However, I taste it more and more in food that I eat. Tonight I had Wolfgang Pucks lentil soup in a can -- good, but too salty. I bet I can make it better, too. Also had some vegan fish sticks, but not VBites - good, but way too salty. I will outline the health concerns of salt below from Dr. Fuhrman.

Today was the usual - oatmeal, raisins and granola. Really, I am not getting tired of that breakfast at all.

Lunch was a large salad with chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, and sunflower seeds. I got a small side of fat-free Italian (whatever that really means), but never even poured it on my salad. I didn't need it! Back in the old days I loved salads, especially dripping with gallons of bleu cheese, or creamy Italian dressing. Now, I just don't like that much dressing, or oil at all - it tastes bad to me now. I have a much more complete love of food as food without any artificial additions!

I never made it to the gym either yesterday or today - the strain in my lat muscle is too bothersome. I feel guilty, but, I have been walking briskly to and from work.

Recently, I have been pretty good at satisfying my sweet tooth with fruit, and not licorice!

Watching the Olympics as athletes compete on a snowy mountain I thought to myself, I really would love a beer. But, do I? Not really, I don't have a craving for it, but I am conditioned, mainly through tradition, of sitting down with a beer to watch someone else work their tail off in athletic competition. It's like getting popcorn at the theatre -- you are conditioned to want it whether you really do or not. I like being able to say no to such things that were such a part of my life almost 4 months ago. I really do think, no, I know that the hard part is over as far as cravings are concerned. I now realize that by resisting temptation early on because I had a goal has made those cravings subside, and it's far easier to live this new life. Now, I know full well that a cold beer right now would taste amazing, but I also know that I can enjoy myself without one.

That really is the key. I recently responded to a post about this issue. Right now I can think back to November 1st and of all the experiences I have had - watching the marathon, watching a big football game, watching rugby, hanging out with friends in bars, going to the opera, having a great meal at some of New York City's best restaurants - in not one case would drinking a beer, or wine, or eating a juicy steak have altered my experience so completely that my life is lesser for it by not partaking. Now, it is 100% true, 1000% true that a nice wine would have enhanced my experience at a fine meal, or a few beers with the boys would have been even more fun, but it was not life altering in a negative way.

It's like if you save your money for a once in a lifetime trip to some place you always wanted to go, and you stayed in your hotel room the whole time - now THAT would be a life altering experience where you truly missed out. If you chose to sit in your hotel room and watch "The Hangover" instead of watching the sun set on the great pyramids, or hiked Machu Picchu, Peru, then yes, your life is less lived without it. But, abstaining from animal products, and alcohol for a mere 6 months? I've missed nothing that I cannot relive a thousand times over in my life.

That was a real awakening for me since part of my insatiable appetite for things that are unhealthy my whole life is that I had a constant fear that I was missing out. Sitting around at a picnic with friends? Well, I was going to enjoy it to, in my mind, the fullest and that meant eating every last steak, and drinking every last beer because 1 is fun but 10 is better, right? It is so clear to see the folly in that way of living.

If I was forced to eat gruel morning, noon and night, perhaps a point could be made that I was making my life miserable and less lived, but I am not, I am eating well, and I am enjoying what I eat. Consequently, the little sacrifices like not drinking a fine scotch whiskey in an oak covered bar, or downing beers outside Giant's Stadium on a snowy Sunday is nothing, sacrificially, like sitting inside the Hilton in Pamplona checking emails on your blackberry while the bulls are running outside. Common sense, I know, but you have no idea how I would have easily compared the two for the last 10-20 years! To the old me, not eating the famed white cheddar cheese and saltine crackers while drinking dark beer two at a time in McSorley's Old Ale House with friends was like going to Paris and not visiting their restaurants, only eating in a Pizza Hut all week. Now I know. One is a mild sacrifice - but not life altering, and the other is more serious and lessens your life lived, not to mention, just stupid. I don't confuse the two any longer.

Too Much Salt (From Dr. Fuhrman)
(1) I do not recommend that salt be added to any food. The DASH study indicates that Americans consume five to ten times as much sodium as they need and that high sodium levels have a predictable effect on raising blood pressure. (2) Elevated systolic blood pressure is an important risk factor for future development of heart disease in middle aged and older adults. Even if you don’t have high blood pressure now, you probably will if you keep eating lots of salt over the years.

There is a frighteningly high correlation between sodium intake and all cause mortality in men. High sodium intake predicts mortality and risk of coronary heart disease, independent of other cardiovascular risk factors, including high blood pressure. (3) This means that salt has significant harmful effects, independent of its effects on blood pressure. Salt also pulls out calcium and other trace minerals in the urine when the excess is excreted, which is a contributory cause of osteoporosis. (4)

You should resist adding salt to foods and look for salt-free canned goods and soups. Since most salt comes from processed foods, bread and canned goods, it shouldn’t be that hard to avoid added sodium.

My Interview on Disease Proof - Dr. Fuhrman's Website

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Remembering the Miracle

This a brief recap of my day - rather boring.

For breakfast I made oatmeal with raisins.

Lunch was a bowl of sliced pineapple, a small handful of nuts and the rest of the Black Bean chili.

I had a few spoonfuls of mango sorbet, too.

Dinner was at Ko Sushi for miso, edamame, salad, and a vegetable roll.

Clearly, my fall-back meals are too often vegetable sushi rolls, and also bread with my hummus. Tonight I decided that I am going to give up both of those for the rest of Lent!

And how 'bout the USA Olympic hockey team? Great win over Canada! Great game! And I love their vintage uniforms celebrating the 30 year anniversary of the Miracle on Ice! With mostly NHL players on the teams in these modern Olympics I really miss the true amateurs of back in the day, and what that win meant over the Soviets!

I remember that great day 30 years ago - I actually missed it since I was with my older brother at a High School basketball game. But a few people had transistor radios, and both sides of the the gymnasium started chanting "U-S-A, U-S-A." It still gives me chills! I remember Team USA losing to the USSR just days before the start of the Olympics in an exhibition game 10-3. I was just 11 years old and such a beating in hockey meant losing the Cold War was not far behind. So to beat the Russians in the actual Olympics was nation lifting! I remember watching on the countless replays on the news of the dramatic last 10 seconds, and the U.S. head coach heading to the locker room immediately afterwards and asking my father why - "So the team can enjoy the win themselves." That stuck with me. And when they beat Finland for the gold medal I remember goalie Jim Craig skating with the American flag draped over him before it became de rigueur for every U.S. athlete, and reading his lips as he looked in the stands, "Where's my father?" In fact, I have a limited edition bottle of Maker's Mark Bourbon with a Jim Craig's autograph that a boss gave me after closing a big advertising deal a few years ago.

Remember the miracle!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

My 100th Post

A week ago when I boxed for the first time I really felt it in my lat muscle, even strained it a bit. All week it was a tad bothersome intermittently. After yesterday's boxing work-out I really aggravated my lower right side of my torso. This morning I was in some pain and it hurt to walk or sit. I decided I should get a massage.

I went to Equinox for a massage - it was a guy, and though I am more comfortable with a woman masseuse I figured I needed a really deep massage to really beat up my back (which I was hoping for). He did an admirable job, but he was a little guy and he was simply not strong enough to really do a great job on my lats. But, it felt better nonetheless, except when he finished by massaging the bottom of my feet...I almost kicked his teeth out. Involuntary, of course. Not a fan of the foot massage.

So, I was just too sore to exercise at all today. I felt fine about that since I worked out hard 4 days last week. Then when I talked to a girlfriend who was in Aspen and just got in from snowshoeing for two hours I started feeling guilty again. Oh, well, at least I sat in the steam room! Just 8 more days until I have to spend my time exclusively in the dreaded locker room of NYSC.

Oh, and since this gym has been my official scale I hopped on today...261 lbs.

I have lost 41 lbs thus far. The last month I have been stagnant between 30-37 lbs lost. You know, for the past two or three years I would dream of losing 40 lbs -- in between bites of my pork soup dumplings at Joe's Shanghai and bottles of Tsingtao beer, or medium rare porterhouse at Wolfgang's and glasses of Lagavulin scotch. It's nice to put 41 lbs behind me, forever, and even nicer to be doubly motivated with no desire to rest on my laurels!

OK, 34 lbs to go in 69 days!

Today's food intake:

* 3 prunes

Lunch - at Takism Turkish (BAD - should have made my own meals on the weekend!)
* Lentil soup
* Cucumber/tomato salad (BAD - too much oil)
* Hummus (BAD - Bread Terrence? Really, can you drop the friggin bread you crack head?!)

* Berries, banana, pineapple, soy smoothie (GOOD - did not use any sorbet)
* Bowl of Edamame with flaxseed (GOOD - flaxseed a great source of Omega 3 usually found in fish, and needed for the body.)


From Tufts University Website

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

What are omega-3 fatty acids?

•A type of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) that must be obtained through the diet because it cannot be made by the human body

Why are omega-3 fatty acids important?

•Omega-3 fatty acids may be important in preventing many health problems, including heart disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and cancer. They also play a role in improving mood and sharpening memory.

What foods are good sources of omega-3 fatty acids?

•Cold water fish are the highest source of EPA and DHA omega-3 fatty acids which have been shown to be the most effective in reducing cardiovascular disease risk. Other foods contain these fatty acids as well, however, in smaller amounts. The current recommendations are to have 7 to 11 grams of omega-3 fatty acids each week.

(I must note that Dr. Fuhrman in Eat to Live acknowledes the great benefits in fish and Omega 3's, but warns against over-reliance because of pollution and high mercury levels in some fish as well).

Friday, February 19, 2010

Early Morning Punch Up

The only way I was able to get out of bed at 6 AM this morning was to play the Olympics Anthem in my head. And yes, I don't have to sit in traffic for two hours on the freeway, nor sit on Metro North for an hour, so getting up at 6 AM is very early for me - especially since I can get out of bed at 8 AM, shower, have breakfast, get dressed and casually commute to work, sitting at my desk before the clock strikes 9 AM!

So as I got out of bed this chilly early morning only the trumpets and drums of the anthem in my head got me motivated. Worse of all, I knew what I was in for. This was not your typical get-to-the-gym-early-before-work exercise where you groggily ride the bike for 30 minutes, then take a steam and shave before whistling into the office before the boss. This morning what awaited me was a 7 AM - 8 AM training session which was all boxing! No breaks when I wanted, and no tuning down the intensity when I wanted, just a fierce work-out first thing before the cock crows.

I got to the gym early to stretch and ride the bike to warm-up. My energized trainer bounced over and after a quick hello, it was, "Let's go." I was a little lamb marching to a muscle-tearing slaughter. He wore what looked like a flak jacket, or bullet-proof vest. When I inquired, he said that it was a weighted vest, that it was 20 lbs of weight. I thought it was odd that this guy with a perfectly sculpted body would wear such a thing. He put the gloves on me, then he took his vest off and placed it over my head. Say what?! I was now about to rigorously exercise for the next hour with half the weight that I lost wrapped around me. That's not all. In addition to the extra 20 lbs in the vest, he affixed small weight straps around my wrists to add even more weight when I am throwing punches.

The studio is open so there is plenty of room to move all the way up and down. I was winded after the first trip down the studio hitting the mitts. Jab, cross, jab, cross, jab, cross. The more I sucked in the air, the tighter the weight vest felt around my chest. Up and back, up and back. Multiple combinations, now right-hooks, two in a row. All the way up and all the way back. OK, now 20 jumping jacks. More, more, more. Punch harder, let's go, man-up! Don't hop, protect your chin. Snap it back, OK, 20 sit-ups.

After 1 hour I was physically spent. What's a more dramatic word than exhausted? Get out a thesaurus, look up "tired" and all those words combined describe me then and now. All day I have been groaning.

My breakfast was a giant bowl of fruit. I started getting significant stomach aches for the second day in a row. Really not sure what it is.

Was Ok for a client lunch at Natsumi where I had miso soup, salad, edamame, and a very good vegetable roll.

I need a nap.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Open Thread Thursday - Your Turn

I get a large number of daily visitors, but hardly anyone leaves a comment on this blog, so I might be asking too much here. But, I would love to get a dialogue from you, the readers, on the subject of soda. Certainly, burgers, pizza, etc. factor into this discussion, but since people are calling for a soda tax, I will keep it simple and stick with the carbonated sweetened water.

There have been recent calls for a "sin" tax on soda. The NY Times has called on Congress to get involved and treat the soda companies like Big Tobacco. Even the White House wants soda removed from our schools.

So, my question is this: to what extent does soda cause childhood obesity? Whether you believe soda directly effects it or not, it is indisputable that an epidemic of childhood obesity exists, so what should we do about it? Moms and Dads, I would greatly value your input!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

It's Chili!

I am currently watching the USA team choke against Switzerland in curling.

Today is Ash Wednesday and in addition to Catholics getting ashes on their forehead it is a time for fasting - i.e., one meal, and no meat. Obviously, the meat part is not a problem! Also, now that meatless Friday's are in effect during Lent I am cruising during this time. And, with alcohol out of my diet, what should I give up until Easter?

I had a client lunch and ate at Cafe Luggo. I had the salad and a side of brussel sprouts. All very good, but too much oil.

Walking home I started to feel light headed, even dizzy. I had never felt this before. I was quite dizzy and walked in a daze somewhat. I was craving sugar and salt. Very odd. I honestly felt that the only thing that would make me feel better was a soda, salty chips (or crisps) and chocolate. I never had this desire before and have no idea why. Impulsively, and semi-desperately, I grabbed a soda, a small bag of chips and two soy chocolate milks. Certainly not the healthiest thing in the world, and in fact a soda and chips are not healthy at all. Even before this quest I did not drink that much soda at all, and during this quest, never - water makes up at least 95% of my liquid intake with the other being either soy milk, tomato juice, or a non-dairy smoothie. I felt guilty drinking my soda and munching on the chips, but I did feel better afterwards. Why so deep into this quest did I get such a queer physical reaction?

I ate a very small bowl of chili too.

Last night I made two pots of chili. One recipe I got off the internet, and I posted the recipe on my Super Bowl post a couple weeks ago. I added kidney beans and tomatoes. It was very good, and when you forget that no meat is being used you would swear that this was a bowl of chili at some cook-off in Stone Mountain, Georgia. Taste is also influenced by your mind - if you concentrate on the fact that you are using fake meat you begin to focus exclusively on the fact that it is not real meat and it tastes different. Not bad, but different, and it takes away from the experience. If you forget the ingredients and enjoy the meal in its totality, then the fake meat tastes like real meat. I used the VBites crumbled fake meat and it was a great substitute. I also added the VBites White Cheddar fake cheese - it actually melted similar to real cheese.

The other recipe was from the book "La Dolce Vegan," called Sherri's Black Bean Chili.

Making two pots of chili in my minuscule kitchen (one photo is of the aligned ingredients on my tiny workspace - the pineapple, for you sharp-eyed readers, was for desert) was actually quite fun. I don't use a timer, and prefer to wing it, furiously throwing my ingredients around, while remaining relatively faithful to the recipe.

I had "La Dolce Vegan" opened to Sherri's Black Bean Chili resting on my dish rack, and my laptop perched on top of my refrigerator (a benefit of being 6'4") so I can follow along with my Super Bowl recipe.

At first taste the Black Bean Chili was OK, but as the tangy, spiced-up tomato sauce kicked in it complimented the black beans and rice beautifully. I really enjoyed it!

One thing I have not done in this quest is use my blender. With just some ice cubes, frozen blueberries, soy milk, mango sorbet, strawberries and bananas I made a great smoothie -- awesome!

I have a terrible habit of going to bed around midnight, and it has caught up to me, so I am going to bed early tonight - 9:30! I think I am turning into my parents!

Black Bean Chili

1 small onion, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
1 cup of water "or" vegetable stock (I used the vegetable stock)
1 cup of apple juice
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 (3.8 oz can) pickled green chilies
1 (19 oz can) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (5.5 oz can) tomato paste
1/4 cup basmati rice
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, minced
1/2 cup vegan "cheese", grated

In large saucepan on medium heat, saute the onions in oil until translucent. Add the red peppers and saute for an additional 2-3 minutes. Add water (or veg. stock), juice, oregano, cumin, salt, cayenne, and green chilies. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the beans, tomato paste, and rice. Cover with lid and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until rice is cooked; stir occasionally to prevent from sticking. Stir in cilantro just before serving and top each bowl of chili with "cheese" garnish. Makes 2 large or 4 small servings.

Playing Catch-up!

The posting glitch last night set me back significantly! Apologies!

My last post was Friday, and after the three day weekend I got to work Monday night (finished one of my longer posts only to have it disappear) So, I will briefly put a few thoughts down here. I will not try to recapture all the points I made (I say that now), so I can move on and stay on track.

You know, as I sit here and write this in my 1 bedroom, fourth floor walk-up in the middle of New York City, and with tobacco pipe in my teeth, I forget that absent my dear mother other people actually read this blog regularly. Over 200 in fact. Well over 100 people visited my blog yesterday, and a similar amount today. When I see that I get that sinking feeling that I did not due my homework and I have 200 teachers taping their foot and looking at my sternly.

Sunday, two days after my boxing work-out was when I felt it the most. Every muscle from my hands to my waist were terrifically sore. Simple tasks like opening a cupboard or putting on deodorant were a painful chore! It is great feeling to know that I am working my body that hard.

In order to condense the weekend let me reiterate something: Going vegan in NYC is so much easier than I thought with the plethora of vegan restaurants and so many others offering a viable alternative to satisfy my needs. But the problem is that with so many restaurants it is just too easy to eat out -- and in some cases actually cheaper than fixing my own meal. However, even healthy dishes at restaurants have their own oils and sauces that sometimes detract from the fresh taste of pure food that i have come to enjoy so much.

Two dinners at NY chain restaurants offered very good and creative vegan dishes: Baluchi's Indian - very good mixed vegetable, and chickpea with spinach sauce. I love spicy, but this was a tad saucy. Their lentil soup was excellent but too salty -so much so that i think it was a mistake by the chef. The other restaurant was Serafina's Italian. They have a great Vegetarian Dish - Spaghetti squash made to look like a little bird cage with mixed vegetables, pine nuts and tomato sauce.

For the best tasting food, and food where I know exactly what is put in it, I am better off making dishes myself.

Saturday morning I tested myself with another one of my passions - early morning pints of Guinness with an Irish breakfast while watching 6 Nations Rugby. Sadly, on this day the French handled the Irish quite handily. As far as resisting temptation? Please, that was a piece of cake! Or should I say, piece of fruit?

I went on a diatribe in my original post about what I don't like in the Olympics, namely the self-centered brashness of our athletes from the newer Winter Olympic sports like snowboarding. Whereas I saw an American figure skater talk about representing our country and trying hard to make the U.S. proud, I have not found that sense of selfless patriotism with most of our athletes in the newer sports that are better suited for ESPN's Extreme Games.

I think it was too negative, so I will not repeat it all. I will say I am a traditionalist. I miss Jim McKay with jacket and tie announcing the Games. I miss the old purity of amateur sport (except for Communist countries). Hell, I even miss the shady scoring of Soviet judges!

There were two commercials that are played often by major sponsors - McDonald's and Coke. Although I love their sentimentality and patriotic commercials they are two of the biggest culprits of childhood obesity, or is it the parents to blame? I want to address this topic again at another time. These issues are quite important such as reconciling my traditionalism with this new vegan lifestyle, and my affection for iconic brands because of the happiness they brought in my childhood, but which are completely unhealthy. I really lean towards putting the blame on the parents who make these two companies a staple of their children's diet, and I am not about to lead a torch and pitchfork mob to their company doors. However, we are talking about sugar water and processed meat here! I'll come back to this debate later.

Tonight I cooked two different vegan chili's - will discuss tomorrow.

Monday, February 15, 2010


I began writing after this three day weekend Monday night. I wrote about my terrifically sore arms and shoulders, my meals, and my thoughts on the Olympics, and Olympic advertisers. Then through an inexplicable error in uploading a photo, I lost my entire, very long, blog post tonight! Sorry!

Tomorrow I will have to play catch-up!

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Special Mid-Day Post

At lunch I went to the gym and was immediately put into a bad mood. NYSC thought it was a good idea to paint the radiator in the stretching area, at noon. Nothing better than stretching with the smell of paint and a painter climbing over you.

I felt pretty nourished, and was not hungry. For breakfast had a small oatmeal with raisins, and added some walnuts for variety. I had a free training session today with this trainer, Adam, who specializes in boxing. I had never tried that work-out before, but every time I saw people in the gym hitting the mitts they were sweating profusely, grunting, panting, and looked miserable - it looked like an awesome exercise!

We went downstairs and I put on the boxing gloves. I have not worn boxing gloves since I was a little kid in my back yard. I am not a fighter in the least, and outside some on field brawls in football and rugby, and a couple of drunken wrestling matches with arms flailing in bars, my fighting experience is quite sparse...perhaps the most famous one happening in High School in the middle of Mass, yes, Mass. (Want to see a priest use foul language and turn as purple as his vestments? Disrupt his Mass with a fist fight).

So my excitement turned to fear as I started to question myself, "Do I really know how to throw a punch? I mean, a real one that makes a "pop" on the mitts?" Downstairs we trained in a room between a studio with a yoga class, and a spin room filled with people as well. The floor mats next to me were crowded with guys doing crunches, and other ab work. Being that it is all windows, I was to box in front of quite an audience. Please, for the love of God, Terrence, don't look like Alfalfa in one of those Lil' Rascals movies!

We start right in. Left foot slide out simultaneously with a jab from your left to the large mitt on his left hand, pivot your back right foot for the cross with your right to his right mitt. Again, again, again, again, again, move with him forward, again, again, again...Oh, my, this is friggin exhausting! Back and forth in the room with everyone who cares to, watching. Nothing feels and sounds greater that that loud "whack" or "pop" of your right cross on the mitt. If you hit it square it really lets out a loud smacking sound. I actually felt like I knew what I was doing...sometimes! Jab, sock, jab, sock, again, again, again, slide with your left foot, again, again, again, again, pivot on your right, don't hop on it, pivot, again, again, again, again, move with me, again, again, again, again, stop that hopping, glide, again, again, focus, again...I was dripping sweat and my wrists felt like glass bouncing off an anvil. The yoga glass let out, we went in. A bigger room, more room, a longer room to slide, left, right, move, from one end all the way to the other. Mirrors were all around, I can see myself. It does not take much to go from looking like a man, a real man who can box, to an unorthodox spastic kid trying to box while wearing roller skates on an ice rink. Ego, and only ego kept me as focused as possible to do it right!

I played all sports my whole life, but this was a new thing for me - the foot work in tandem with targeted punches was unlike a golf swing, or a baseball swing, or a cross-block, or a 5 step drop-back pass, or bowling, or a scrummage - it was such foreign foot work it was hard to master at first (hell, I still haven't). I was getting very frustrated, but again, again, again, I got it, I mirrored Adam, I was hitting with a good pop, I was looking like a boxer (albeit lumbering) and breathing like an asthmatic after the marathon. Get the glove to your chin, hit and snap back, hit and snap it back, protect your chin, slide, pivot, don't lean forward, jab, cross, again, again, again, again, again, again. OK, jumping jacks with the gloves on, OK, the speed bag. Ah, the speed bad. A beautiful site and sound when done by someone who knows what they are doing. That took some skill and my shoulders were aching as I tried to hit the bag repeatedly after ever count of 3.

WOW! That was exhausting!

I could work my cardio on the bike, treadmill, and elliptical as hard as possible, and sweat, and huff and puff and it would be a great work-out. But this was another level. My arms are still shaking, and I can barely move them! After I left I took out my blackberry but my thumbs were so sore and shaking I could not type!

It was a great work-out! I was sweating from pores I didn't know I had, I could barely lift my arms, and could not catch my breath, I was miserable...I love it!

For lunch I went to Chopt for a salad of broccoli, black beans, chick peas and tomatoes. I inhaled the bowl in one bite!

Tomorrow I am sure to feel it big time. This is the level I should be working out at...will I have the discipline to keep it up? I hope so, but, damn...did I mention I am exhausted?

Finally, remember today is Abraham Lincoln's birthday, a date we used to celebrate until the ridiculous, all-inclusive, new "President's Day." Celebrate the man who saved the Union!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Day 103

Today I mixed up the breakfast, and had a huge plate of fruit - strawberries, melons, and pineapple. Although I can eat oatmeal every day, I decided I needed to eat more fruit in the morning to help with my weight loss. Ever since my scolding from Dr. Fuhrman I am trying to follow his program more closely.

Walking through the slush I made it to the gym, but it was around 1 PM so I did not have time for a full work-out. I stretched, did my ab work-out (balancing on my tailbone with feet off the ground I would twist to my left and right holding a 16 pound medicine ball touching the mat at each rotation for a count of 40, then I would do 20 crunches with the ball held aloft. I would do this exercise for three repetitions. I stretched between each rep. I am terribly tight - always have been. In fact, going back to my earliest days of organized sports I was always above average in athleticism, but embarrassingly inflexible. Right now I am thinking about football practice when I was about 10, clear as day three decades later, and the kid next to me, Mike Heeley, had both legs outstretched, knees locked, and both hands grabbing his toes with zero effort. I had my knees bent slightly and still could only reach mid-way past my shins. I don't think I would have been any more impressed and envious if he bench pressed 500 lbs! So, flexibility has always been an issue for me - and I hate it.

I only had about 20 minutes for cardio so I jumped on the treadmill and walked briskly at between 10 and 14 degrees of incline - really got the heart rate up! I met a trainer and I will take one of his work-outs tomorrow. His expertise is in boxing conditioning, so it should be interesting.

For lunch I went to Maoz Vegetarian for whole wheat pita, hummus, eggplant, chickpeas, pickles, broccoli, diced onions and tomatoes.

I tried to drink as much water as possible since I have been feeling pretty dehydrated.

After work I met a good friend and former colleague at Rosie O'Grady's - an old watering hole of mine - for some seltzer and great conversation. She got me to add a Twitter account for My Vegan Quest (why did I wait so long?), and registering the domain Either I am a total moron, or using is harder to set up a website than advertised.

My dinner was lentil soup, white bean salad, and hummus...OK, and some bread, damn it! Well, I had only half as much Turkish bread as I normally do.

A request - some of you are nice enough to send me emails with your thoughts, but I would love it if you read my blog regularly and would comment below. Specifically, suggestions on what you like and don't like, and what you would like to read more of to make this blog more interesting. Thanks!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Divergent Post

There is possibly nothing more pathetic, and resoundingly sad than a middle-aged man with his winter jacket collar turned up trudging through the snow into a Times Square Peep Show.

And there are not many things sadder than watching a morbidly obese man wolf down his food as if it is his only happiness in the day.

I saw these two men today and wondered about their misery. Not my place, I know, I know, but I couldn't help but ponder.

The windows at the stretching area at New York Sports Club look out on 40th Street. 40th is the dividing line between Times Square and the Garment District. Since Times Square was cleaned up only a few sex shops, and peep shows remain. I am looking at one wedged between two fabric stores down below the gym. The snow is swirling about, and the streets are a slushing dirty white, and everything else looks gray and sad. Much like this man struggling with this door against the wind and the snow, eager to get inside for the $0.25 peep show.

As I stretched and did my crunches I would look out on the sad little world on 40th Street and thank God I am inside a gym, exercising, eating healthy and living a clean life. Who was that man going inside that seedy place? What life does he have that he must find his happiness in such a foul store of ill repute? I don't mean to moralize, but it was an image that had an effect on me.

I saw another man today. There is a man in the cafeteria who puts out the vats of oatmeal. He is rotund, and never without pouring sweat on his face and arms - his shirt looks like a virtual sluiceway. The first couple of times I saw him I was slightly annoyed, hoping that his sweat does not drip into my oatmeal. But today I saw him on break. Alone at a table. He must weigh 375 lbs, and looks like a sad Fat Albert. I glanced over and I really began to feel sad for him. He looked miserable, and seemed to be finding his only peace, his only happiness in an enormous plate of eggs, sausage, and bacon. He gorged on his food like it was his last meal, but it was not rushed like his break was ending, rather it was gluttonous, and ferocious, like this was his "high." I am over-analysing to be sure, but I bet I am not far off. My heart ached for the poor guy. Perhaps he hates his job, but, I bet if he could find more happiness in himself and treated his body more kindly, he would be a happier man. Yes, I know you are wondering why the hell I am going off on this tangent about a man I do not know, but I think about these things.

I see very fit looking people scarf down a triple cheeseburger and I think, "lucky them." And when I see a fat person in the market with a basket full of junk food I want to stop them. Not out of scorn, but out of compassion. I guess I am moved by such people because even though I never grazed in the morbidly obese arena, I was damn close in my unhealthy, and life threatening lifestyle.

For me, I see myself sometimes - no not visiting peep shows, but finding happiness in over-indulgent behavior. Behavior that clogs arteries and slaughters liver. Even though I have changed my lifestyle, my head needs more work. I still think that afternoon sweet tooth to put me in a better mood can be solved by a handful of Red Vines licorice, and I still have to fight the urge.

Today, I had my oatmeal, a falafal pita with hummus and vegetables, and for dinner a smoothie and fruit (trying to make my dinners as light as possible). I worked out pretty hard today and generally feel good. But, I have these images in my head of two sad men who would be better off if they could find happiness in themselves. Forgive my Halmark card advice, it is just what I am thinking.

Sorry, for such a nonsensical post tonight. It was on my mind, and I felt like writing about it.

A Cultured Day

Yesterday I had my requisite oatmeal and raisins, and for lunch traveled down to the Union Square Coffee Shop for my vegan wrap. I bumped into a good friend and chatted about my endeavor and the blog. A guy next to me at the counter overheard and inquired about it. I am convinced that when a 6'4" 264 lb man in a suit and tie talks about vegan, blogging, and no alcohol people perk-up and listen! I feel like a healthy E.F. Hutton. I assure you, if I was 5'9" 160 lbs with tattooed arms, disheveled hair and wearing Buddy Holly glasses I would not get a second glance - those guys are supposed to blog, and eat vegan and talk about abstaining from alcohol! Or, so everyone thinks...incorrectly.

Through an interesting set of new, last minute developments I had two great seats for the opera, Carmen, at The Met last night, and only one ass to fill them, mine. My starting pitcher was out for the season, so I went deep into the bull pen.

So, for dinner I met my old girlfriend at Rosa Mexicana near Lincoln Center. She was running late so I bribed the guy next to me at the bar who was getting up. I bought him a drink so he'd stay in the seat of this crowded restaurant til my girlfriend came. We struck up a conversation, and lo and behold, this was his last day of drinking for a while. He wants to lose 40 lbs and was going on the Atkins Diet again. Well, since I bought him a margarita that gave me the right to preach my thoughts on the serious problems with Atkins, and promote Dr. Fuhrman and his book Eat to Live. Funny, just a few months ago if a stranger told me he was trying to lose weight I would roll my eyes, say, "good luck," and ignore him. I sort of like this new pied piper roll for healthy eating!

My old friend and I (or is it me?) ate the homemade guacamole and an order of black beans (I only had a couple table spoons since I assumed they put too much oil in the black beans). And true to form, she asked if it was OK if she ordered a drink. So polite and so completely unnecessary! We then cruised across to the The Met - what a scene, what civilized behavior. The Metropolitan Opera House is certainly iconic, but its mid-60's decor makes me feel a bit like being on The Love Boat, and is nothing like the splendor of the Budapest Opera House, Hungary.

I've never seen Carmen before, though I have photos and programs from when my Grandmother performed it at the Worcester Opera House in Massachusetts in the 1930's. I have heard the music many times before, however.

One of the best movies about kids and sports ever made was the original version of The Bad News Bears. The film is very special to me since my Summer of 1975 was spent at our local park in Chatsworth, CA watching them film The Bad News Bears with huge stars Walter Matthau, and a very young Tatum O'Neill.

The film's score was almost entirely from Carmen! Below is a 2 1/2 minute clip of the last scene of the movie. A classic, and with the classic music from Carmen at the end. Before the suffocating lunacy of political correctness, they made films like this. Imagine handing out beers to kids today in a film? Enjoy!

To watch the real opera Carmen...

Monday, February 8, 2010

No, I'm Not Money...Yet

Sometimes you start to believe the hype about yourself.

Just like in the movie "Swingers" where the hapless character played by Jon Favreau is told by Vince Vaughn how "money" he is, over and over, "You're money, baby! You're so money and you don' even know it!," all to boost his confidence, I too have had lots of people tell me how "money" I am - how great I am doing on this quest.

I've been enjoying my compliments too much, and I have started to believe the hype. In short, I mastered the art of going vegan, but I have NOT mastered the science of eating healthfully for rapid weight loss.

Well, a trip to Dr. Fuhrman today brought me back down to earth - not that I haven't been secretly thinking this past month how slow my progression has been.

Bottom line, I am half-way into my vegan quest, and I have lost half the amount of weight I wanted to. OK, yeah, that's pretty good. But, Dr. Fuhrman expected me to have lost much more by this point. And he is right.

But, you have to understand there are really two competing endeavors here. (1.) To go vegan for six months, and (2.) to lose 75 lbs. One does not necessarily lead to the other. Whereas cutting out the animal products brought my cholesterol down enormously, and certainly contributed to terrific weight loss, along with my exercises, it is time to really be smarter about my veganism. Not just being vegan, but being a healthy vegan.

I have been studiously eating vegan for three months as well as exercising regularly. I have lost 37 lbs, feel great, look thinner, look better, and feel healthier. But, I could have been dieting smarter, and eating more healthfully. Had I been as rigorous in Dr. Fuhrman's diet plan as I have been in avoiding animal products I could have been much closer to my goal by now.

Dr. Fuhrman thought I looked good, but when he weighed me he seemed unimpressed. Whereas when I brag about my 37 lbs to friends, colleagues, and strangers everyone readily chimes in, "You're so money!" Dr. Fuhrman's response? "You still have not comprehended my diet plan." Harsh? No, not really. He is like the coach - you can fake it for a few plays, and maybe the folks in the stands think you're doing a terrific job, but the coach sees, he knows: I've been running the wrong play. I have not been cheating mind you, but I have been focusing more on the absence of animal products and less on the nutrient dense food.

Basically, I am not eating as smart as I should because I rely too much on a vegan diet that is not being as helpful towards me losing weight. Too much bread, too much rice, too much salt.

When the doctor asked me about my typical diet the breakfast started out beautifully - oatmeal and raisins, then even before I could get to my salad for lunch I mentioned my handful of nuts. Nuts are good, right? He put his pen down like a disappointed teacher and said that either I have not read, or I have not comprehended his plan. I read his book, I really did, but, well, I sorta forgot some of it, and I just fell back on a couple of things: when I was my healthiest I ate alot of nuts in my 20's, and "THEY" say nuts are good for you, and "THEY" say you should have 5 smaller meals throughout the day. Nuts ARE good for you, but when you are trying to lose weight you should only have a few ounces of nuts with your meal because they are better for you than if eaten as a snack. Now, of course nuts in and of themselves, even as a snack, are not bad for you, but when you are on a strict weight loss regime they should not be eaten as often as I eat them. The doctor is adamant against snacking for snacking sake - rather eat only when hungry, and thinks that should be 3 times a day, unless you are a professional athlete and burn those calories quickly. He was mad that I snacked on nuts because I told him I do it for energy before the gym. He says that is a fallacy. Dr. Fuhrman is rather strict, but, he gets results and research bares out his philosophy.

Lastly, we both agreed that I could step up my work-outs.

So, for these remaining 3 months in order to lose the weight I want to (and to live healthier for the rest of my life) I am going to be even more militant on following Dr. Fuhrman's Eat to Live program - that means severely cut back on the things I love like bread, and rice, and salt, and oil (yes, even extra extra virgin is high in calories) and increase my legume intake. And, and, really push myself in the gym.

I actually do respond well to Dr. Fuhrman's displeasure, because he reminds me of an athletic coach pushing me harder.

When I did pat myself on the back a bit, he was quick to respond back, in effect saying, "You ain't money...yet." I said, Doc, me, a full-on carnivore with a love affair of the drink who whistled by gym's has totally changed my life around. I have been 100% vegan for the past 3 months, and I have totally given up alcohol, and I have lost 37 lbs! And people tell me I look great!" The doctor's retort? "Just because you don't do Heroin does not mean you can take up smoking." So, eating vegan is good, but eating smarter will make you healthier, disease free, and loose the weight precipitously.

Final comment: I want to be clear that the way I am eating is healthy, and, for example, a bowl of nuts is healthier than a candy bar 100 out of 100 times. But for my rapid weight loss goal, I need to become more strict and more focused on nutrient dense food.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Super Bowl Warm-Up

Three Irishmen with their pints, and a Vegan drinking ice water at P.J. Clarke's. I still think my friends thought I was playing a gag, like at any moment I would burst into laughter, order a cheeseburger, a pint a Guinness and a whiskey chaser.

Last night went to a birthday party at Wildwood BBQ. Had the salad on the menu - without chicken, without ranch dressing. And a side of brussel sprouts without the bacon bits. I asked that it was made without butter, and as tasty as it was, I suspect it was not cooked in just oil. Besides, the fresh brussel sprouts that I grill up are better.

Watching all the pre-game Super Bowl hoopla there are numerous ads for NFL Play 60. Even though it is admirable to have a program designed to get kids to become more active, I find it PATHETIC that we as a society have to put time and money into a program to get kids to play actively for a mere 60 minutes.

I would like to start my own program called PLAY SUN UP TO SUN DOWN! Or, PLAY FROM AFTER HOMEWORK UNTIL DINNER! That's the way we played growing up! 60 minutes is barely enough to break a sweat, or even get a bloody nose when you are 10 years old!

Super Bowl Sunday - Try the Vegan Chili!

My Vegan Quest game prediction:

Indianapolis COLTS - 46 (actual - 17)
New Orleans SAINTS - 38
(actual - 31)

* Congrats to Ireland beating Italy, and England beating Wales in the 6 Nations * Rugby: like football, but with no pads and bigger balls. (Not pandering to my friends across the pond, just an avid rugby fan).

Today America watches football. And there is nothing better than a Super
Bowl Party with Super Bowl Chili! Below is a vegan chili recipe!

This scrumptious vegan chili boasts a hearty helping of smoky flavors and gourmet spices, including garlic, onion, mustard, chili powder and smoke, with all the taste and none of the time.

1 (15 ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (12 ounce) package VBITES meat mince
1 cup water
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon vegetarian Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon liquid smoke flavoring
1 teaspoon Coleman's dry mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Cooking Instructions

In a large pot combine tomato sauce, crumbles, water, onion, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, liquid smoke, mustard, salt, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Cook on low heat for 30 minutes, or until heated through.

Nutrition Facts
Servings per Recipe: 5
Amount Per Serving
calories: 192cal
total fat: 9.4g
cholesterol: 0mg
sodium: 1376mg
carbohydrates: 13.3g
fiber: 4.9g
protein: 15.3g
Preparation Time: 10 min.
Cooking Time: 30 min.
Ready In: 40 min.
Servings: 5


I would like to take this moment to comment on vegan athletes. Although not a sport I would allow my children to watch, nor ever watch in my mother's home, I must comment on the sport of Ultimate Fighting Championship. Suspended somewhere between boxing, kickboxing, hockey fights, and 19th Century bare-knuckle boxing is the sport of Mixed Marital Arts. It is blood sport for sure, but last night one of their champions was Mac Danzig. A tough, exceptional athlete, Danzig is also a vegan.

Below is from his own article about his diet:

"Ok, first here, I'm going to list some regular foods that I eat a lot of, along with an explanation on each one. Essentially these are of some basics that really make up a large portion of my weekly caloric intake...
Afterwards, I'll list some broader ideas of diet, some supplements, then list some junk foods I eat and finally some daily examples...

Brown Rice: One of my main sources of complex carbs along with Oatmeal... I buy the 'microwave in the bag' frozen brown rice from Trader Joe's... It's pretty easy to make and can be added to almost any meal. Wild Rice (actually a grass seed) is even better if you can get a hold of it.

Portobello mushrooms: These are great. Good protein source, low calories, low sodium... Can be sauteed or stir-fried with vegetables. I eat many of these when cutting weight.

Tempeh: This is a Tofu-based food and a good source of protein and fiber... Although a little bitter when eaten plain, I find that some flavorings can really make this good...

Quinoa: This grain is sometimes a chore to cook, and if you live in the middle of nowhere, it might be hard to find, but it's a great source of not only carbs and protein, but fiber as well. This is one of the most nutritionally complete foods out there with a full, balanced set of amino acids...

Black Beans, lentils, etc: Really, many Mexican foods I find to be pretty substantial as long as there's some beans and rice in it... Lentils are great in soup and have some decent protein and fiber... My girlfriend makes some really good lentil soup as well as squash soup.

Now, here are some things I will simply list and then explain how they work with my system.

Drinks: I drink water 99.9% of the time... Rarely do I ever feel the need for soft drinks or juices, although I might add some orange juice to a protein shake to make it taste better...I drink in excess of 1.5 gallons of H2O per day when I'm training hard and about 1 gallon per day on the regular.

Wheat: My diet is not "wheat-free" but I do my best to avoid it... It's an allergen (mild for most people) and not as easily digested you might think... Every now and then I have something that has wheat gluten in it as well... I'm not really into sandwiches, so bread is easy to avoid. I do eat pasta every once in a while and I might have some wheat tortillas, but if I had my choice of carbs, it'd be brown rice or quinoa. On a side note, they have come out with some good rice-based pastas that are identical to normal wheat pastas in every way.

Fake meat products: These are usually geared towards people making the change to vegetarianism and are made to mimic various meat products... I usually don't mess with these all that much, with the exception of "riblets" made by Gardenburger brand... Most of the stuff out there doesn't taste anything like meat to me (unless it's seitan) and I don't need my food to. Unfortunately, if you live in the midwest, or any place who's stores haven't adapted to vegetarian diets, you may find that these are the only things sold in the frozen section without meat or dairy... On the other side of this, many vegan restaurants have great fake meat products that are much more palatable than the stuff sold in the stores.

Vegetables: These are very necessary. I don't eat them as much as I should, but when I do, it's broccoli, peas, corn, green beans and spinach most of the time. Whenever I have a salad, I do my best to use organic kale or baby spinach as the main source rather than romain or iceberg lettuce. The leafy greens like collards, spinach and kale are extremely good for you.. Don't sleep on them.

Nuts & seeds: I find almonds are the best for me. Some articles have stated that they boost testosterone... I can't say that's true or false, but I do find almonds to be superior to most of the other nuts and seeds out there...Trader Joes sells raw, sliced almond flakes that can be turned into powder (if you have a chopper) and put into a protein shake. I do eat peanuts sometimes, and natural peanut butter, but too many peanuts can be bad for you because of the naturally-occurring toxins in them. I eat cashews in moderation, and I usually stay away from Macadamias when I'm cutting weight because of their high fat content. I don't eat as much seeds as I probably should, but Pumpkin seeds are definitely recommended... They are high in iron, which is important, because as an athlete, iron can be lost rapidly through sweat. Sunflower seeds are also pretty good and are a decent source of protein and vitamin E...

Seitan: although this stuff is delicious and has the most meat-like texture, it is essentially just wheat gluten and is pretty hard to digest... I stay away from it when I'm in hard training, but during the off-season, it's fair play. Many restaurants have good meals with seitan.

Soy milk, almond milk, etc: I don't eat cereal all that much, but when I do, I prefer almond milk and rice milk over soy milk... Just a personal preference. These can be added to protein shakes too. Rice milk is a little thinner that almond and soy usually...

Sodium: Many of the foods I really enjoy have a lot of sodium in them. I have no problem eating moderately sodium-rich foods until I get close to cutting to lightweight... Sodium causes you to retain water, so it's pointless to consume if you want to drop water weight. 3 weeks before a fight, I start watching my sodium intake, and by the week of the fight, I'm down to less than 100 grams per day.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

They Say...


Last night had a late dinner with an old friend at Nada Sushi...hmmm, could be my new favorite Sushi place. Will have to visit again. I was late, and they were closing early so my friend, who can be quite intense and no-nonsense (he once grabbed the tie of an AP reporter on Air Force One and threatened bodily harm on this particular dilettante from the 4th Estate) ordered for me. He just said, "vegan," and the dishes awaiting me were spectacular - marinated eggplant, a spinach dish, wholewheat noodles, etc.


What is the most influential body in the world today? The World Trade Organization? The NFL? Christianity? Secular Humanists? The National Rifle Association? Capitalists? Environmentalists? China? The United States? Feminists? The New York Times? CNN? Reuters? Mom’s around the world? The answer is none of the above.

The most influential body in the world is the all knowing, all being, and never seen, “THEY.” They know everything. There is not a corner in the world where when an opinion of expertise is needed, “they” are not at the ready with an answer. No mortal has ever seen, conversed, or heard “they” directly, but they are there, they are everywhere. Their opinions are both large (“They say the economy will improve by April”), and small (“They say you should taste your food before salting it.”).

Well, I have heard from many, many people since November 1st, and accordingly, “They say you break old habits after three months.” Well, I think “they” may be right, but the jury is still out.

I still crave a beer with my pistachios. I still yearn for a Lagavulin whiskey when I darken the door at P.J. Clarke’s. But, but, today while walking through the cafĂ© I spied a bowl of hard boiled eggs. I used to love eggs! Ate them almost every day – two hard boiled eggs with salt, and an English muffin with peanut butter. But today, today those eggs meant nothing to me. I walked by them and clearly the Sirens were on a coffee break because there was no pull towards the rocky shore of the once delicious eggs (read: "Sunrise Showdown" from Nov. 3rd). As far as I am concerned, eggs are my "Fredo," they're dead to me. And as far as habits, ordering food void of animal products is second nature.

Does it take three months to break old habits? I am not sure, but when it comes to food the results thus far seem promising!

It’s been over a month since I engaged in one of my favorite food habits. I went to quench that desire. I took the Shuttle to the 6 Train down to Union Square so I can lunch at The Coffee Shop for my favorite lunch – the vegan wrap! Yep, as good as I remember!

On the negative side, I popped strands of Red Vines licorice after lunch – had a terrible sweet tooth! On the positive side I was looking at myself in the mirror on the elevator and my suit jacket, and over coat are beginning to look like my father’s and I was going to my first fancy party as a 14 year old. I think I really need to start buying new clothes.

Anyone have any connections to a nice haberdashery?