Monthly Archives: June 2011


OK, I tricked you a little…I bet you are expecting a recipe for mud pie, but the kind of mud pie I ingested this weekend is not the recipe you are hoping for.  I thought I did a great job of keeping the mud out of my mouth, but the pictures below tell a much different story!

My friends and I competed in the famous Camp Pendleton Mud Run this weekend.  The Camp Pendleton Mud Run is a 6 mile running race filled with gnarly hills that seem like they never end, mud pits, sand, a swim through a lake, wall climbs into mud pits, wading through muddy rivers, tunnel crawls, and an army crawl through the muddiest stankiest water you can imagine (did I mention that you get sprayed with fire hoses throughout the course while being shouted at by Drill Sergeants???).

While I definitely plan on doing some more hill training for next year’s race, our team did very well considering that we didn’t actually train for the race…life got in the way of training intensely for most of us since two of us were moving, all of us have kids, and our absent 5th team member was hugging the toilet bowl the night before the race due to food poisoning.  Out of 247 teams, our team (Team Presta) placed 21st out 274 teams with a time of 1:16:26.  We were at the back of the pack for the start and have learned our lesson that we need to position ourselves in the front because it feels like we spent at least the first 20 minutes trying to weave through all of the people.

If you have never entered a race I really encourage you to do so.  Three years ago entering a running race was my New Year’s Resolution…for some reason I was always too shy to put myself out there.  That year I ended-up running in 3 races and really enjoyed it.  It sure makes you feel sporty!

The Mud Run is the first race I have entered that was not ONLY running and I think it may have given me the confidence to consider entering a triathlon.  I am not talking a FULL triathlon, but a mini one would be a lot of fun…one step at a time.

Remember that health is the sum of many different parts.  I know I post mainly about food, but fitness is a big part of my life.  We all need to exercise to maintain and improve our health and racing is a great way to make the exercise fun and rewarding because we can focus our energy on training for the event and can celebrate our achievement by actually competing in the race.  Once that race is over, pick another one and start all over again…good stuff!

I can’t wait until my kids can join me on a race.  This Mud Run made me think of a few pictures I took of my daughter on vacation in Spain two summers ago…I think she is absolutely destined to run with me in the Camp Pendleton Mud Run someday and I will be over the moon when that happens!!!

My husband was an absolute angel watching the kids during the race.  They were only able to see the start and finish, so he kept them entertained while they waited for our team to finish.  While he was very bored during the race, my son was on cloud 9 afterward as we drove through the Marine base and found tanks we could climb on.  Lets just say that this was right-up my 10 year old’s alley…he LOVED it!

We had a great team.  I need to thank my friend Kathy (she is next to me in the picture below) because she is definitely the one who is responsible for me entering the race.  Kathy’s big brother John (far right) is an amazing runner and pushed me like mad and Simon (second from right)…thank goodness for Simon…he got me through a MAJOR rough spot during the hills (definitely NOT my favorite part).

Mud Pie image courtesy of  Her desserts are vegan and AMAZING, though definitely not Superhero food.


Filed under Exercise, Vegan, Vegetarian

RUSSELL JAMES eBOOKS – Pay What You Can Afford

My friend Sirica just sent me an e-mail letting me know that The Raw Chef, Russell James, is now offering his eBooks on a “pay what you can afford” basis.  What a great idea.  I have his Raw Nut Cheese eBook and love it.  You can bet I am going to buy the rest.  I have re-copied his post about it below…

I’m releasing my inner-hippy.

And it feels good…

I was recently inspired by Tad Hargraves of to think about offering my eBooks on a ‘pay what you can afford’ system.

When I asked, on my Facebook page, if you thought it was a good idea I was really energised by the positive comments on there.

And I know that when I get that physical feeling – that unmistakable energy in my body – it’s something that excites me and is something that I explore further.

Someone then suggested I check out Brian Johnson’s website as he does exactly the same thing. I wrote to Brian and said that I felt inspired to follow his example, and here we are…I’m now offering a sliding scale pricing for my eBooks.

The idea is this…

I want to create community, so that the people that can afford to pay the full price do, and if cash is tight someone who really wants to get my recipes can pay a lower price – still getting to change the lives of themselves and their families.

I’m also fascinated by this idea of ‘paying it forward’.

I told you I was releasing my inner-hippy 🙂

My sense was that the system would even itself out if I put my trust in anyone who visits my website. And also put my trust in the universal laws of energy exchange.

To my delight it seems to be working out perfectly. The best thing is that I get nice comments on orders too, from people saying that they can now afford something that was previously unavailable to them.

Some people have even written to me to say they paid the lower price and will pay ‘the rest’ when they can afford to. That’s not what I want. Even when you pay the lowest price you’re good to go. Feeling like you owe me anything is the opposite of where I want our exchange to be.

All the while people that can afford to pay full price are actually doing that.

Just makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

I offer the full set at a big discount than it would be to buy them all separately, which is my way of paying it forward so that someone paying full price gets a great deal. I honestly believe they’re worth that top price.

Then there’s 2 more price points below that which allow someone to choose a level that matches his or her means and resources.

It’s an honour to be in a position to be able to build a business this way and be part of all this good energy exchange.

It’s one sexy Universe out there.

I shot a little video on my eBook page where I talk about this at my current favourite place to get out in nature.

Click here to take a look.

If you want to see how neat nature is, check this out.

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Filed under Books, General Vegan, Raw, Vegan, Vegetarian


I recently went a week without cooking a meal (other than breakfast).  I absolutely love to cook, but I must admit it was nice to have a bit more time on my hands for a whole week.  I learned about the vegan meal delivery company called Vegin’ Out through a daily deal e-mail service I subscribe to and after checking out their website I decided it was time for me to give it a try.

To give you a little background, “Vegin’ Out is the brainchild of nutritional chef Tim Boissy. Tim has been deeply involved in the health food industry since becoming a vegan in 1986. As he watched the industry grow, he saw that there were many vegans, as well as other health concious people who didn’t have the time to prepare great tasting healthy meals at home. He decided to take matters in his own hands and started Vegin’ Out.”

When I went to the website I saw what the menu for the week would be.  If there was a dish on the menu that did not appeal to me, I would have been able to make a substitution by doubling-up on one of the other dishes.  They all looked great to me, so I left the menu as it was.


Pasta Primavera

Chinese Broccoli and Tofu (I contacted Dan Boissy and he assured me they use Certified USDA Organic Tofu)

Acapulco Black Bean Tamale Pie


Barley and Wild Rice Salad

Spring Succotash

Chickpeas Kale and Rice

Sour Cream and Chives Mashed Potatoes


Cauliflower and Fennel Soup


Blueberry Muffin Cookies


I placed my order on a Friday and big box of food was delivered to me the following Monday before 5pm.  I was really impressed with how well they packed the food.

When I opened the box there was a beautiful menu waiting for me.

The kids and I had a great time unpacking all of the food and deciding what we would eat for dinner.

Here are close-ups of some of the dishes.

I didn’t know what to expect, but I was very pleasantly surprised by the quality of the food.  I was afraid that the food would be high in sodium and leave me bloated (like restaurant food does), but that wasn’t the case at all.  I read some reviews that said the food was bland, but that wasn’t my experience either.  I loved the freshness of the ingredients and really enjoyed the flavor.  The sauces complimented the food well and did not overpower it allowing the true taste of the food to come through.  I also wondered if there would truly be enough food for a whole week and there ended-up being more than enough food seeing as I only ordered delivery for one person and my son ate some of the food too…he loved the Blueberry Muffin Cookies.  I tend to avoid the white flour desserts so he was stoked to have some in the house (at least they were organic).

I contacted Dan Boissy who is a co-owner of the company.  Dan was very responsive and helpful with my questions about their company and the ingredients that they use.

I will definitely be ordering this service again and recommend that you give them a try.

To learn more about Vegin’ Out click here.

To go to their FAQs page click here.

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Filed under Product Reviews, Services, Vegan, Vegetarian


I saw the most beautiful eggplants at the market a while back and they inspired me to create a vegan gluten-free Eggplant Parmesan.  When I was younger I was not a big fan of eggplant, but my love for them has developed full force.  I really like the substantial nature (dare I say “meatiness”) of eggplants and their chameleon ability to take on the flavor of whatever you cook them with.

Eggplants are also nutrition powerhouses.  Just one look at their deep purple color and you know that you are dealing with some major phytonutrients.   Eggplant is loaded with fiber and is a good source of Vitamin K, Thiamin, Vitamin B6, Folate, Potassium, and Manganese.  For more nutrition information about eggplants click here.


½ recipe of gluten-free ITALIAN breadcrumbs
1 large eggplant
¼ cup Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour
½ cup So Delicious Unsweetened Coconut Milk
olive oil
salt for sweating the eggplant
1 jar Gia Russa Tomato Basil Pasta Sauce
¾ cup Daiya Mozzarella
1/3-1/2 cup So Delicious UNSWEETENED Coconut Milk
1 Tbs. nutritional yeast

Turn the oven on to 400°

Slice the eggplant into ½” slices.  Sweat the eggplant by salting them and placing them on a cooling rack (with a towel on the counter under the rack in order to soak-up liquid).  Allow the eggplant to sweat for 10-15 minutes.

Rinse the eggplant and pat off the excess water.  It is alright if the remain slightly damp.

Put the flour in a gallon bag.  Drop the slices of eggplant into the bag one at a time and coat them with the flour.

Pour the milk into a small shallow bowl.  Place another bowl next to the milk bowl and fill it with all but 1/3 cup of the breadcrumbs (which you will reserve to use as a topping).  Dip the floured eggplant into the milk one at a time and then cover the dipped eggplant in breadcrumbs.

Coat a pan in olive oil and bring the heat to medium / medium- high.  Gently place the prepared eggplant into the pan and cook 3-4 minutes per side until cooked through and browned.

While the eggplant is browning, place the Daiya, So Delicious UNSWEETENED Coconut Milk, and nutritional yeast into a small sauce pan and whisk over low heat.  The sauce should melt down and become spreadable.  Keep the sauce on warm until you are ready to use it, but stir it periodically to make sure it does not burn.

Pour 1/3 of the pasta sauce into a small casserole dish.  Place a layer of the eggplant on top of the sauce and cover it with half of the cheese sauce.  Pour another third of the pasta sauce on top and layer with the remaining eggplant.  Pour the remaining cheese sauce on top and cover with the reserved breadcrumbs.  The remaining pasta sauce will be used for serving.

Place the casserole into the oven and cook for 25-30 minutes covered.  Uncover the casserole and cook for another 15 minutes.

Warm the remaining pasta sauce and drizzle it over each individual serving.

I loved this so much that I ate it over raw zucchini noodles (click here to see how to make them) for lunch for the next three days!

For a printable version of this recipe click here.


Filed under Gluten Free, Main Dish, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

ASK GRETTIE – Dealing With Cold Sores Naturally

Here is my latest Ask Grettie column for Chic Vegan…keep those questions coming!


I was recently contacted by a family member for advice about an ailment that I know many people suffer from.  In their e-mail to me they wrote, “I keep getting cold sores in my mouth and on my tongue. What do I need to do to get rid of them?  Help!”


First of all I want to reiterate that I am not a doctor.  I do however know that there are steps people can take to help heal their cold sores and to help prevent an outbreak in the first place.  One popular supplement to take in an effort to cure an outbreak is lysine.  Lysine is an essential amino acid.  When I say essential, I mean that our body does not produce this amino acid on its own, rather we need to obtain it through our diet.  Lysine has been shown to be effective against the spread of the Herpes virus, however it will not be effective if we have too much of another amino acid in our body, arginine.  It appears that these two amino acids fight against each other for space in our guts.  If the arginine outnumbers the lysine, the lysine will be ineffective.

According to’s Alternative Medicine section, the proper dosage of supplemental lysine during an active episode is 1000mg 3 times a day.  Once the cold sores have healed, the maintenance dose is 1250mg per day.  When looking for a lysine supplement it is important to buy a supplement that is pure and not synthetic.  Also try to buy a lysine supplement that includes zinc, vitamin C, and bioflavinoids since these seems to work synergistically (Source:

To aid the effectiveness of the lysine treatment, it is important to consume as many high lysine foods as possible and to avoid high arginine food sources.  I found conflicting information with regards to wheat germ and legumes.  Some sources list them as high in arginine and others list them as high in lysine.  Confusing.  Click here for a list of high lysine and high arginine foods.

It is also important to note that the following have shown promise in the fight against cold sores, bee propolis, resveratrol cream, peppermint oil, and lemon balm.

**Do you have a questions for Grettie? She is here to answer any of your health and nutrition related questions! Email her .**

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Filed under Chic Vegan Column, Cold Sores, Education, Research, Vegan, Vegetarian


Yesterday the Agriculture Department released its new food guidelines.  The guidelines no longer come in the form of a food pyramid, rather the recommendations are now referred to as My Plate.

I for one am happy about the direction the recommendations are moving.  While “My Plate” is not perfect (there is still dairy as a side dish), I believe it is a huge improvement.  I am also thrilled that the new pyramid does not even mention sugars, fats or oils, which will hopefully reinforce the fact that those food items should be considered treats and not part of regular meals (unless the come in the form of whole unprocessed foods).  I also find it refreshing that My Plate merely states “Protein” rather than “Meat and Beans”  meaning that the category can now encompass more vegetarian options such as tofu.

What I like most is the fact that My Plate is simple.  Nutrition has gotten so confusing in recent years (low-carb, low-fat, fat-free, high-protein, etc.) that I think even the most well-intentioned people have a hard time trying to figure out what to eat.  People can look at My Plate and better understand what their meals should look like.

Hopefully some day soon we will be able to convince the Agriculture Department that the The “Power Plate” (pictured above) created by The Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine should be the next guideline rolled-out to Americans…that would be amazing!

My Plate image courtesy of

Power Plate image courtesy of


Filed under Education, Vegan, Vegetarian

ROBERT CHEEKE on Working Hard

I recently purchased a copy of Robert Cheeke’s book, Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness.  The essay below comes from the book.

I have to say that this is one of the most inspiring essays I have read in a long time.  It really made me think.  We are so fortunate to live where we do and have the opportunities we have, yet so many people complain about how hard we work…but do we?

Increase Your Work Ethic to Create Your Own Results
By Robert Cheeke
June 23, 2009

I believe the term “hard work” gets thrown around way too loosely and way too carelessly in our society. Every day people walk around describing “hard work” as if they actually think they have some sort of comprehension of what that means. Every day people think that working 40 hours a week is “hard” and that creating time in their schedule to peel themselves away from the television or their TV dinner to exercise is “hard work.” The truth is, most people in our culture have no idea what it means to work hard or to believe in something so much that they’ll dedicate their life to it and do what it takes to accomplish it. Most people don’t truly commit to something that is exceptional or outstanding and work excruciatingly hard at it every day. Most people simply don’t have it in them. You can blame it on society; you can blame it on culture; you can blame it on lifestyle and conveniences or traditions; but I choose to blame it on the individual. Average people don’t work hard unless they are forced to by necessity. It takes effort, work, and time, and most people are not interested in investing any of those things as long as they have their 40-hour per week jobs, television programs, fast food, and partner or family to share this time with. Average people don’t want to change anymore than they have to because they’ve put in their eight hours for the day and they’re ready to kick back, rest their feet, and relax. Sure, people still complain that they don’t have enough money to pay bills, improve healthcare, support their children better, enhance their lifestyles, and bring more fulfillment to their lives; but they’re not willing to work hard to change. It’s just too much to ask. Average people would rather become obese or get sick before they’d ever think about starting an exercise program, following a sound nutrition program, or applying themselves more in areas such as work or relationships.

What makes me any different? The only thing that makes me any different than anyone else in this society when it comes to hard work is the fact that I am aware of how lazy we are and I’ve chosen to do something about it. That’s it. That’s the only thing that separates me and other hard-working people from those who don’t work hard in our society. We simply took the time to acknowledge it and conclude that being lazy isn’t the right thing to do, that there is so much more to life than just getting by. We realized that the world is a wonderful place with endless opportunities to succeed and to contribute in monumental ways, and we realized that the road to success is paved in hard work day in and day out in all aspects of life. We also came to the realization that hard work doesn’t mean boring or unfulfilling work. Some of the greatest times of my life resulted from working harder than anyone else and putting in 15-hour days doing truly meaningful things in my life. We’re also fully aware that there are plenty of people in all parts of the world who work way harder than we do and don’t have the privileges we have, the opportunities we have, the tools and resources that we have, or the support that we have. Billions work from dawn to dusk to simply survive; others seem to not even try; others work hard to thrive. Where do you fall among these groups?

The first step in embracing a new work ethic is to let go of ego and accept the fact that you really don’t work very hard. When I came to the conclusion that I was lazy, selfish, had poor time management, made bad decisions, and didn’t care very much about what I was doing, I realized I was just like everyone else and I needed to make a change immediately. I made a change and became successful immediately, found immediate meaning in the hard work I was doing, and found it to be enjoyable, fulfilling, and rewarding. Most of us just aren’t willing to work any harder than we are now. If we can change our way of thinking to understand how to work hard and understand why it is important to work hard, we can do incredible things with our lives and that is what life should be about.

Here are some tips to improve your work ethic:

-Get rid of your television. It distracts you from doing productive and meaningful things in your life and eats up an incredible amount of time.

-Determine what you love to do the most and spend more time doing it.

-Find true meaning in your life and pursue it with passion.

-Reduce the time you spend on the Internet.

-Observe the work ethic of the people who are the most successful in any given industry.

-Observe the work ethic of those who rely on their work ethic to survive.

-Learn how to manage your time effectively and efficiently.

-Set specific work ethic goals.

-Understand how investment of effort leads directly to the attainment of goals.

-Really believe in what it is you are doing. Belief will automatically improve motivation and work ethic.

For more information about Robert Cheeke and to visit the website he created click here.

Top Image courtesy of
Bottom image courtesy of

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Filed under Althletics, Education, General Vegan, Vegan, Vegetarian

QUICK LUNCH – Purple Cabbage Stir Fry

I think we often neglect lunch.  With a little planning, it can be really easy to cook a fresh healthy lunch.  This weekend I cooked-up a big batch of brown rice and thinly sliced some veggies.  As a result I was able to whip-up this cabbage stir fry in a matter of minutes.

I literally put a tiny bit of oil in my pan, threw in a handful of thinly sliced onion, handful of purple cabbage, some thinly sliced portobello mushrooms, and seasoned it up while it cooked with some wheat-free tamari and chili sauce.  I finished it off with a dash of sesame oil, poured it over some warm brown rice, and lunch was served.

Remember that it doesn’t need to be complicated.  This lunch came together in the same amount of time it would have taken me to go to the drive-thru.

Get cooking!


Filed under Gluten Free, Quick, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

US vs. UK: Mac ‘n Cheese Smackdown

This article was published in the most recent Healthy Child Healthy World newsletter…food for thought!… Gretchen


Did you know Kraft makes a different, safer Mac ‘n Cheese formulation for the UK?

Robyn O’Brien, author of ‘The Unhealthy Truth’, founder of Allergy Kids and Healthy Child Parent Ambassador, moderates a smackdown of these 7.25 ounce cheesy-weights:

As we are quickly learning, other countries have chosen not to allow things like artificial growth hormones, food dyes derived from petrochemicals and genetically engineered ingredients into their food supplies – particularly in the foods fed to children.

And in response to this demand many American food manufacturers now create two versions of their product, one for the US and a “cleaner” version for the moms, dads and kids in the 27 countries in Europe, Australia, Japan, New Zealand and the U.K.

So how different could those two versions be, you ask? After all, “food is food”, right?

Well, let’s take a look at one of our staples, macaroni and cheese:

U.S. Version of Kraft Mac & Cheese:

Enriched Macaroni Product (Wheat Flour, Niacin, Ferrous Sulfate [Iron], Thiamin Mononitrate [Vitamin B1], Riboflavin [Vitamin B2], Folic Acid), Cheese Sauce Mix (Whey, Modified Food Starch, Whey Protein Concentrate, Cheddar Cheese [Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes], Salt, Calcium Carbonate, Potassium Chloride, Contains Less Than 2% of Parmesan Cheese [Part-Skim Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes, Dried Buttermilk, Sodium Tripolyphosphate, Blue Cheese [Milk, Cheese Culture, Salt, Enzymes], Sodium Phosphate, Medium Chain Triglycerides, Cream, Citric Acid, Lactic Acid, Enzymes, Yellow 5, Yellow 6).

U.K. Version of Kraft Mac & Cheese:

Macaroni (Durum Wheat Semolina), Cheese (10%), Whey Powder (from milk), Lactose, Salt, Emulsifying Salts (E339, E341), Colours (Paprika Extract, Beta-Carotene)

Given that Kraft’s latest ad campaign invites us to “Bring Back the Fun”, while we’re at it, how about they bring back products that don’t contain ingredients that have been shown to cause things like hyperactivity, cancer and allergies? You know, products like their UK version of mac and cheese that don’t contain the artificial dyes like the ones seen on these kids’ tongues?

Wouldn’t that be fun?

Tell Kraft to stop using risky artificial food dyes in their US products today!
Read more:

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Filed under Vegetarian