Summer is Flying By

Summer Is Flying By

It’s already late July.  Where does the time go? It definitely feels like the summer is flying – or is it just me?  Either way, one thing I do know is that it is H-O-T hot!  Yes, I know it is summer in Miami, but it doesn’t make the days any easier when it is this hot out.  I’m constantly reminding people to hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.  I went for a walk this morning from 7 am – 8 am and I was thankful there was some cloud cover.  Still hot, but the best time to fit in a little exercise. 

Summer Is Flying By - Sailboat Sunrise.jpg

Using nuts to make a vegan version of “cheese”.  I’m of the notion that I don’t like calling a food something that it’s not.  You feel me?  I will never call cauliflower rice or a steak because it is neither of those two things.  Which is why I’m not really sure what to call this recipe I’m about to share with you.  It’s where I take a nut, i.e. almonds, cashews, ANY nut, and turn them into a replacement of sorts otherwise known as “cheese”.  You will see these many times classified as nut “cheese” but once again I hate to call something that it’s not.  So, if you have a good name, let me know! 

Summer Is Flying By - Macadamia Nut Cheese.jpg

I make different versions of this simply by changing out the nut, almonds and cashews are the most versatile, but the one I made with macadamia nuts might have been my favorite!   I typically use this spread, if you will, as a replacement where cheese would typically be used, but only where it doesn’t need to be cooked.  I did recently put it on top of my lasagna, but it was only to warm it up – I personally find that it doesn’t cook well, but to each his own.  And btw, this one is more like a ricotta version.  You can change the consistency by adjusting the amount of nuts and/or liquid you are using.  And even better?  you can make a sweet version using dates.  Delish! 

Summer Is Flying By - Sweet Cream Nut Dates.jpg

p.s.  I am not vegan, nor do I like putting a title on what I am.  I eat.  Period.  But I DO love trying out new recipes and taking on the challenge to find a replacement for people that may want to follow a vegan diet.  You’re welcome.

-          ½ cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 1 hour

-          1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

-          1 teaspoon mellow miso

-          1 garlic clove

-          1 tablespoon lemon juice

-          ¼ teaspoon onion powder

-          Dash of salt and pepper, to taste

-          ¼ cup water

Drain and rinse the cashews.  In a food processor combine the cashews, nutritional yeast, miso, lemon juice, garlic, onion powder, ¼ cup water, salt & pepper to taste.  Pulse the mixture until the cashews are finely chopped.  Then run the motor on high until you have a smooth, lightly textured ricotta-like mixture.  Add 1 teaspoon of water at a time (1 tablespoon = 3 teaspoons) if necessary to reach the desired consistency.  Scrape down the sides of the food processor bowl.  Check ricotta for seasoning – some like a salty ricotta, so add more salt here if you like.

So there you have it.  A vegan alternative to cheese made with nuts – too long a name, but you know what I mean.

Summer Is Flying By - Vegan Ricotta Cheese Lasagna.jpg

Intuitive Eating (IE)–

 I will start off by saying that I have always been an intuitive eater.  I never needed it to be defined as I truly believe that I started off in my childhood with the ability to have all foods fit and never feel as though that food should/could be restricted.  I carried this on into my teens, college years, and now beyond.  I am thankful to my mom for instilling in me this very healthy relationship with food.  As I was in college and studying nutrition I saw how apparent it was that many people around me did not have a healthy relationship with food.  So, I get this whole online movement that many in my profession are trying to educate people about IE.  I do.  In case you are not familiar with IE, here a few key points:

  1. Reject the diet mentality. Throw out the false ideas of losing weight quickly and stop looking for a quick fix. This leads to feeling like a failure if/when the diet fails and then gain the weight back.

  2. Honor Your Hunger – Keep your body biologically fed to help offset the trigger to overeat (by waiting too long it can trigger a primal drive to overeat).

  3. Make Peace With Food – Give yourself unconditional permission to eat. There are no cheat days and there is no “good” or “bad” food, there is just food.

  4. Challenge the Food Police – The Food Police are there to monitor the unreasonable rules that dieting has created – and there are some unreasonable rules.

I could continue, but that’s not the purpose of this post.  You can read more about IE here.

Recently I have seen many a picture of donuts, ice cream, and fries with the notion of spreading the word about IE.  Along with a few words such as these:

“You do you. When you want ice cream eat the damn ice cream.” 

“I used to think donuts were nowhere near “healthy” enough to eat for breakfast.  That starting the day with a ‘sugar bomb’ would somehow control the rest of my day and food choices.  Now, I understand the value of eating the donut when I want the donut, and that it has absolutely no effect on how I eat the rest of the day.

Those are just two posts of many that I’ve seen recently online.  I am ALL for all things intuitive eating stands for.  I truly am.  It’s how I was raised, and it was just innately in me.  And it’s my hope that everyone can make peace with food and ditch the diet mentality and food rules and yes, eat intuitively.  Kudos to all the dietitians out there preaching this message.  But here’s the thing.  I think some of this real talk and in your face education about intuitive eating needs to meet people where they are at.  It’s not always as easy as they’re making it out to be, do, and/or practice.  What do I mean?

Watch this video by Dr. Robert Lustig to see a whole other issue that we’re facing:

How are these people to eat intuitively if they must eat more and more just to have that feel good feeling and truly aren’t able to stop?  Obesity is a complex, multi-organ disease.  To say it’s complicated is an understatement.  It isn’t as easy to teach people to eat intuitively if their brain doesn’t allow them to shut off and make that connection (i.e. Leptin tells your brain you’ve had enough.  But when your brain doesn’t get the leptin signal, your brain thinks it’s starving).  I know people want to eat intuitively, but we need to consider these biochemical issues that are real and affecting many people, just look at the obesity stats in America.

And that’s not to say that my fellow dietitians haven’t taken this into consideration.  My point is this.  Showing pictures all throughout your feed of donuts, ice cream, over-portioned burgers and fries isn’t the way to teach intuitive eating to everyone.  There are many people that even though they know the concepts behind IE aren’t able to eat intuitively – “No one can exert willpower over a biochemical drive that goes on every minute of every day.”  ~Dr. Robert Lustig  Seriously go watch the video with the good doctor.  He has done lots of research and is not a quack.

Social media - Instagram, Twitter, Facebook - has created this mecca of learning that I think can be helpful to us but also hurtful all at the same time.  I guess my hope is that we start early on teaching kids how to eat healthy, embrace food for all that it is – fuel but also fun, and obviously ditch the diet culture.  Yes, I am all about intuitive eating.  But my hope is also that we get to the root cause of why someone is struggling with food, like I mean really getting to the cause (because it never is about the food).  Dig deep.  Find the reason and heal.  And more importantly my hope is to really understand the biochemistry of the brain.  Clearly the signals are NOT working – because at the end of the day, it isn’t about willpower.  It’s SO much more complicated.  All the endless pictures of donuts and words telling people to eat the damn donuts isn’t going to help.  In my humble opinion.