How two guys lost 150 lbs on an easy to follow vegan diet!

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Miso Cabbage Soup


It’s days like this when my wife starts to give me a dirty look and says “tell me again why we moved here?” Last night it rained, got bone chilling cold, and snowed, so everything is icy, with snow on top. Cleaning and scraping cars, what fun! The only good thing is that we made miso cabbage soup for dinner and I was in a sharing mood!

This one is a combination of mostly white, and some red miso for flavor thrown in, along with cabbage and vegetables. It’s delicious!

4 cups low sodium veg broth

6 tbsp white miso

1 tbsp red miso

3 sticks kombu sea vegetable cut in pieces

1 1/2 carrots sliced thin

1/2 cup mushrooms sliced

1/4 head cabbage or whole Brussels sprouts (we used cabbage)

1tbsp low sodium soy sauce

1/2 block tofu cut into small squares

1 bunch scallions

Directions: Bring broth and miso to a near boil. Sautée vegetables very lightly, add to broth. Allow to simmer 20 minutes. Two minutes before serving add tofu pieces. Simmer until slightly thickened and serve

makes four bowls of soup



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Avoiding Winter Weight Gain


Right now it’s 19 degrees outside, or -7 Celsius. Which reminds me, why do we gain weight in cold months ? Are humans destined to be bears, and store up in the winter? Sorry, today we are throwing that excuse in the snow! But there are some things you can do to understand and prevent winter gains.

Evidence suggests that humans are not natural hibernators during the winter. So that excuse goes in the snow.And what does cause us to munch more around now? Well, for one thing, it’s the holiday season for most people. And studies show that both humans and animals eat about 40 percent more food out of the house than at home.I wonder how they tested the rats? Invited to party?

So here is one suggestion to combat the going out gain. Eat before you go out! Make a big salad, eat some fruit. Just don’t go on an empty stomach. It works. Do so and you will eat less.

The other big cause is also simple. Less movement and more eating. What would you rather do when it’s this cold? Go out? Or sit at home? I vote for home. Which leads to popcorn, and things like oatmeal cookies, while watching TV,,, a dynamic weight gain combination that is best avoided.

Seasonal affective disorder? Depressed? We live in one of the cloudiest, darkest places in North America, and don’t see the sun for days at a time in winter. SAD affects more than a few folks around here. But, in depression you are just as likely to under eat as over eat, so the number of people that gain from depression is actually small.

So, in the end, it’s not that hard. Just keep to your regular schedule of getting out, exercising indoors on the coldest days, and eat right especially before big events. You can maintain your health in winter, and leave the hibernating to the bears!

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The Three Numbers that matter most and bless the whales!



Way back when we lived in LA we used to go “whale watching”. A few times a year whales migrate up and down the coast of california, and you can watch as they sort of shlep along with their children in tow, slowly making there way to Mexico or Alaska. Its always a great day when you are out on the ocean. Relaxing.

The last week or so has been a little crazy. A very good friend is ill , and I have been going down to the hospital to try to keep everyone”s spirits up. Besides, I can visit all the Drs and nurses in the ICU  and talk about the old days! Which reminds me, if you had to pick three numbers that are an overall indicator of the state of your health, what would they be? Two are easy, but one is a bit of a suprise:

And now for the big reveal:

Blood Pressure: your blood pressure needs to be at 120/80 or lower. Anything above that and your chance of heart, kidney, or other trouble increases dramatically. One way to solve this is to really reduce the amount of salt in your diet. Think canned foods like soup, and some hidden sources like breads and crackers. Try making your own soups, which are filling, and always seem to help me with hunger and weight loss as well.

Cholesterol: If you get your total cholesterol below 150, its impossible to get heart disease. At least thats what the research says. Aim for 150 if you can. Believe me  its possible to get even below that number on a vegan low fat diet. Last time I checked my total cholesterol it was about 100.  You want your LDL to be 100 or below, 70 is optimal. HDL which is better the higher it is, should be above 40, and 50 is optimal. And triglycerides below 150, thats a measure of fat in your bloodstream, and is now being recognized as being a really good indicator of heart disease. People with  high triglycerides almost always have heart trouble eventually.

To get those numbers where they should be greatly reduce all meat and dairy other than low fat, that includes cheeses as well. Reduce or eliminate cooking oils as well. Eat whole grains fruit and vegetables and legumes for most meals. Your numbers will get to where they need to be in about a month, perhaps two. Eliminate all junk food, soda pop, and alcohol only occasionally.

Waist Size: Thats a bit of a suprise, but waist size is a very solid indicator of heatlh. For a man, a waist below 40 is recommended, but you will get the most benefit when you get to 34″ or below. When your waist size drops, cholesterol and blood pressure usually drop as well.

Some people will say, “abs are made in the kitchen” and I believe there is some truth to that, but its really both.Diet and exercise, diet and exercise is our mantra. It takes both. Check out the seven minute workout, or just add crunchs, sit ups and planks to your routine. Along with the diet it will slowly reduce your belly.

The wonderful side benefit of all this is that in the end you will look and feel way better. When i see my old pics I have to admit, I looked like a baby whale,   I always liked whales, just not on dry land ! Eat right, exercise, and leave the whales in the ocean where they belong!

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Outdoor Winter Exercise? Forget about it!


Living in the “snow-belt” can be quite an experience. When we first moved here over twenty years ago it was fun. Our little kids loved sledding and stuff, and the first snow of winter was always a major event How we miss those days!

Of course for me, growing up in Sourthern California, the concept of a winter wonderland  was moot. Its sunny there and around 70 degrees for 11.5 months of the year. The problem is everybody had the same idea,and moved to California. LA has become  a repository of celebrities, overinflated home prices and homeless people, with the homeless far outnumbering the celebrities. They like the weather too!

But as the years wore on, the unique charms of cleaning your car of three or four feet of snow have worn  off. Today as winter approaches- we all pray for a mild winter, which we have been blessed with the past few years.

But this year is different. It snowed pretty much the entire week leading up to Thanksgiving, which is unusual, and today it was around 8 degrees fahrenheit when we left the house  and its not getting any warmer. A bad winter looks to be approaching.

Driving home from work the other day I noticed a lady in shorts jogging down the street. The temperature was around 18 degrees fahrenheit. Which begs the question, is it safe to exercise outdoors in the winter? Perhaps not.

First of all, it is  a fact that heart attacks increase in the winter, and strangely, they do so even in places where the weather is warm. There are multiple possible reasons for this, and researchers have speculated on everything from inflammation caused by the flu to changes in hormones due to the shorter days.

But cold weather itself has a strong effect on the heart, and unless you are an  athlete attuned to cold weather, you are  taking a risk by exercising outside on very cold days. Because just being someplace cold, it turns out, increases your risk of a heart attack increases by seven percent for every 10 degrees celsius drop in temperature.

But why? It is thought that cold receptors in your skin play havoc with chemicals in your blood stream. The blood changes and clots more easily, and as a result,  you become more susceptible to heart trouble. So, pushing it with cold weather exercise is a double whammy, and probably not advisable under any circumstances.

Around here, folks have to shovel snow off their driveways, and that can be especially dangerous for middle age people. Its quite strenous, and with the cold weather could really be dangerous, especially if you are out of shape.You are better off paying a teenager and getting your exercise at the gym, than risking it all to do it yourself.

Have a safe and productive winter!

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Is Coffee Healthy?


Above is a Vietnamese Phin filter for making coffee.This very cold morning my wife and I shared a cup of coffee from some the beans we roasted a few days ago. They are from the Huhetenango region of Guatemala. A truly beautiful cup of coffee. If you have never tried higher end single origin coffee, it’s worth the effort. In some locations, haute coffee vendors are doing coffee pour – overs for up to $5.50. Our cost of materials?  Probably around .30. And the question of the day, is coffee healthy? Here is an answer, perhaps, for the rest of the story read on.

First, the negatives. Coffee, of course contains caffeine, a stimulant. In fact, according to many, it’s main attraction. the average cup of coffee contains about 80 to 100 mg of the stuff. One thing researchers know for certain is that regular coffee raises blood pressure. So, if you have issues with your blood pressure, you may want to consider de-caf, just to be safe. There is also a commonly held idea that coffee raises heart rate, although this has not been found to be true of regular coffee, but seems to affect people drinking energy drinks, which contain higher amounts of caffeine.

But there is another substance in coffee that could be an issue if you are worried about your lipid, or cholesterol numbers. It’s called cafestol, and it’s an oil found in roasted coffee. It seems to raise LDL around 10 percent. That’s not good especially for folks already struggling with their cholesterol. The good news is that it’s entirely avoidable. Cafestol is filtered by paper, so just avoid French press style, or percolated coffee, where there is no filter. By the way, the Vietnamese Phin filter we use to make single cups of coffee? They do as good a job as the most expensive coffee devices, and you can by them online for 5 bucks! However, it’s a metal filter, although I have thought about just cutting a paper filter to put in it

So what about the positives? Well, for one thing, coffee contains hundreds of different compounds, many of which are phytochemicals and anti -oxidants. Some research has shown that in general, coffee drinkers have a lower general mortality rate than the population, and that it could be related to all the healthy stuff in the drink. Tea is well known to have many health benefits, and coffee , often maligned may have many of the same things going for it

Here is something interesting: In the US there are many coffee stores that seem to be everywhere. In Europe, the same phenomenon, with many new chains taking hold in places like the UK, where Costas and Starbucks are fighting over market share. Yet, at least in the US the actual amount of coffee drunk peaked in around 1970 and has declined significantly. To be replaced, soda pop. We also know that obesity began to ramp up around that time as well. I am certain there is a connection.

So, in conclusion, coffee, try some higher end stuff, drink in moderation, use a filter, and maybe drink decaf. And if you get your spouse hooked on the good stuff, expect to be up earlier making coffee every morning!

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Gourmet coffee for less.

air popper

How about a  hobby thats saves money, and is gourmet food related. We are now purchasing single origin coffee, roasting and preparing it ourselves, and having lots of fun! But is coffee actually healthy? Ever heard about coffee stunting your growth? For the answer to these questions, read on.

We do like coffee in this house, but until now, it’s  been either cheap instant coffee, or Starbucks. I have no problem with either choice, but if there is way to have better for less, and have some fun, why not? Recently we started exploring the art and science of coffee, and it truly is fascinating. Coffee is not a bean really,it’s a seed of the coffee plant. And guess what, despite what you might think, roasting coffee is about the same level of difficulty as popping popcorn! In fact, we use an air popper to roast our coffee.!

Go online and look around. You will find three or four websites that sell single origin coffee. . When you go to the store and purchase coffee, it’s usually a blend of different beans that have been assembled from different lots of coffee. And thats because its usually junk coffee. Sad, but true, all over the world there are warehouses full of coffee, thousands upon thousands of 150 lb bags, and most of it is not good quality coffee, and that’s why it tastes the way it does. Bitter, sour, burnt. It needs to be roasted until it’s practically charcoal, just to be drinkable.

This coffee is different. It’s higher quality, and grown on small farms. The farmers know the people they are selling to, and vice versa. Sometimes the coffee doesn’t just come from a farm, it comes from one particular set of coffee plants on the farm.  This is the high end stuff. How different is it? Quite so.   Kenyan is very different than Guatemalen or Costa Rican.  Some taste like chocolate, others almost like a fine tea with coffee overtones. Anyhow, single origin coffee is fun, and its a little world of its own.

We take the little green beans and stick them in a $25 dollar popcorn popper and in about five to eight minutes its, coffee beans! . But, because coffee contains lots of CO2, we have to let it “degass” which takes about 24 hours. So at this point, you have a few choices for brewing. Of course there is the old stand by- “French Press”. Basically you stick ground coffee in it, let it sit 4 minutes and press down on a lever.

There are now other more refined methods, for example, pour over.  In pourover coffee- you have a funnel shaped device with or without a filter, and it sits on top of a flask or cup.You pour the water over. And thats it. Ours is a chemex, which was invented by a mad scientist in the 1920″s and looks like a chemistry set.  From our experiements with fine coffee, the best and most complete flavor comes from the chemex, better than the french press. However, some people believe that the coffee from the french press is closest to the flavor profile found when professionals taste, or “cup” coffee.


One thing is for sure. If you purchase lots of coffee this is the way to go. Green coffee is anywhere from 4 to 8 dollars per lb. If you purchase coffee, you know thats a great price. And once you understand the process, it tastes way better than what you would normally purchase.Some places are selling gourmet coffee like this for up to 30 dollars a lb, so you can really save money! In my next post we will discuss the health pitfalls and benefits of coffee. My investigating leads me to believe there are both positive and negative health aspects to coffee drinking. And, a surpisingly easy way to make coffee healthier. Stay tuned!

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Post Thanksgiving- Back to Basics


There is probably only one time of the year that it would be virtually impossible not cave in and eat things we should not eat. But when Chanuka and Thanksgiving coincide its a double whammy because I love Thanksgiving food and Chanuka food! Latkas with your turkey? Why not ? Its human nature to celebrate with food. Funny thing is, got on the scale this morning and after almost a week of slipping in treats, I have not budged. But this year I did a few things differently , and if it worked for me, it can work for you!

So here is a list of things I did, and you can do, to avoid gaining at this foodie time of year.

1) DONT SKIP MEALS: People tend to hold back the day of a big meal, figuring they will “save up” for the big event. Big mistake! By the time you get to the meal, you are starving . Plus you have that “I didnt eat all day” attitude. Eat breakfast, eat lunch, and when the big dinner comes, you can eat less and enjoy!  It really works!

2) DONT FORGET THE GYM: Dont let your eating get you down. Keep your regular exercise schedule, and you will keep your waistline in check, and feel energetic despite the big food intake. It will also help you keep a positive mental attitude around cousin Dave who drives you nuts.

3) GET BACK ON THE WAGON:If you fall off the wagon, get back up again! In other words, blow off the leftovers and the very next meal go back to the way you normally eat. No transition meals, no “just grabbing another slice of pie”

If you stick to your guns on these three things, you will have fun over the holidays, feel better, and you are less likely to gain weight! Besides, you have another 70000 years until the next Chanuka & Thanksgiving meetup. That should be plenty of time to work on your eating habits!