Book Review: How Not to Die

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I just finished reading How Not to Die, a book that uses scientific research to help explain how we can avoid dying from common diseases by improving our diet. Each chapter in the first half is dedicated to one disease or ailment: heart disease, lung diseases, digestive cancers, breast cancer, etc.

In the beginning of the book, Dr. Greger says he himself is not pushing some sort of vegan / vegetarian agenda, but all the evidence clearly points to plant-based diets as the answer to being healthy. Through reading the rest of How Not to Die, you’ll find this out yourself in a lot of detail, with footnotes and all. In fact, it seems like every other sentence has a footnote referencing a research study, which makes this information extremely convincing.

Although the book is quite dense, Dr. Greger’s writing is super clear and he explains even complex concepts well and in plain English. He also includes a lot of stories from his time working in hospitals and stories about his family, which make each chapter much more memorable and digestible.

Even though I consider myself to have above average knowledge of nutrition and health because I try to read about it, I still learned so much from reading How Not to Die. I have never highlighted so much text in a book before.

I didn’t just learn things related to food, but random facts about the human body. For example, eating fenugreek (a spice) can make your armpits smell like maple syrup! Can someone tell my boyfriend? I don’t think his deodorant is strong enough. JK.

I also learned about funky experiments you can do to check different aspects of your health, such as boiling red cabbage and pouring the liquid into the toilet after you pee to determine the pH!

Dr. Greger has a website called NutritionFacts.org where some of the content from the book can be found, along with more videos and podcasts. The cabbage pee test is on there too.

Project Meal Prep | How Not to Die

My favorite part of How Not to Die is the second half, which has simple little recipes and recommendations on what you should eat, such as the Daily Dozen. There’s even an app for that haha.

Some recipes are also on the Dr. Greger’s Pinterest page. I took notes and will be making some of them too, which I’ll post on my Instagram.

If you are at all interested in knowing how to live a long life while being as healthy as possible even in old age, I highly recommend reading this book. Getting sick isn’t just a thing that just happens to all people eventually for no reason, you can actively prevent it if you know how. Additionally, there’s so much wrong and misleading information put out into the world, a lot of it by food companies and food / drug industry leaders whose only motivation is to make money, and part of knowing how to keep yourself healthy is knowing the truth.

Winter comfort food roundup

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Tis the season!

To layer on tons of clothes every time before you go outside.

I’m back in Toronto for the holidays and it’s been a hard transition from California. I almost slipped and fell on ice 2x, my skin is embarrassingly dry, and I resent having to wear 2 layers of pants on some days.

Anyway, now is the perfect time to make comforting meals that make you feel cozy and warm, like getting a hug from the inside.

Here are some healthy, vegan stews and soups that I’ve been making and / or are planning to make this winter:

Quick Beefless Stew (Gardein)

I made this tomato-based stew a few days ago (pictured above). It’s chock full of veggies, beans and flavor and comes together so quickly. I added extra mushrooms and peas and eat it with a side of brown rice.

15 Minute Vegan Kimchi Tofu Stew (Brothers Green Eats)

I haven’t made this yet but I love kimchi (the vegan kind that doesn’t contain fish sauce) and it reminds me of another Korean dish I also love called soondubu. The base is miso and vegan kimchi, which are both fermented foods that are supposed to be good for your gut. Some enoki mushrooms would also be really good in there.

Spicy Mapo Tofu (Vegan Miam)

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Mapo tofu, aka grandma tofu, is one of my favorite dishes. I finally found this vegan version a while ago and made a week’s lunch worth. I find it so flavourful & satisfying, and I also love bean paste. I think the spiciness and mushiness (in a good way) are perfect for cold weather.

Simple spicy butternut dhal (Jenny Mustard)

This dish looks super healthy, with lentils and tons of veggies. I have been really getting into Jenny Mustard recently and binge watched her videos.

Spicy Pumpkin Peanut Soup (Peaceful Cuisine)

Soup with peanut butter? Uh, yes please. I will eat cardboard if it has peanut butter on it. Even if you don’t make this soup, you will definitely enjoy watching this artfully created video.

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What are your favorite vegan winter meals or holiday treats?

I hope you’re all having a great holiday — not stressed — and enjoying this time of year 🙂

“Aren’t you admitting you like meat?”

Project Meal Prep | Aren't you admitting you like meat?

Some people get confused / criticize why vegans and vegetarians eat fake meat. I can see where they are coming from. If we supposedly don’t like meat, why are we eating foods that try to emulate it?

Some people say that the fake meat we have today doesn’t taste much like real meat. Others say they do like meat but are just morally opposed to it, so they’ll settle for the alternative. I think I’m somewhere leaning toward the latter.

When I had the Impossible Burger — which everyone says tastes like meat and which I said I liked — one of my friends asked me “Aren’t you admitting that you like meat?

My answer was, Yes I do like the taste, but not if it’s real meat.

The difference is that when it’s real meat, I know in my mind that it used to be an animal, and not just plants that have been manipulated to taste like meat.

Here’s an analogy I can relate it to: Most people like cheese. If you smelled cheese, you’d be like “yum.”

Project Meal Prep | Aren't you admitting you like meat?

But…

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Project Meal Prep | Aren't you admitting you like meat?

Suddenly you’re grossed out, right?

Well, that’s how it is for me. Does this make sense? Let me know.

Where to eat vegan food in San Francisco

Project Meal Prep | Where to eat vegan in San Francisco

I haven’t been blogging much lately because I’m actually in the middle of moving from San Francisco to London! I quit my job on Friday so now I have more free time and I’m going to try to blog more regularly.

I thought it would be appropriate to write a post on all the restaurants I’ve been eating at over the years. Some of them are little more esoteric and wouldn’t show up in those typical “Top 5 vegan restaurants” lists.

Pork Store Cafe (Haight)

Project Meal Prep | Where to eat vegan in San Francisco

I eat here pretty often since I live closeby, and it’s a relatively popular breakfast place. There’s usually a short line in the morning. Despite the name of the restaurant, there are 2 “scrambled” tofu dishes that are vegan. One of them comes with spinach, mushrooms, and tomato and a side of hash browns. The hash browns are so crispy and good. I always ask them to add avocado too.

Peña Pachamama (North Beach / Russian Hill)

The one time I came here, they were setting up for a live band, which would have been cool if we stayed long enough to see them play. The menu seemed like it had half cooked vegan food and half raw vegan. My friend and I weren’t super hungry so we split the raw sampler, which was yummy. For dessert, we had a raw coconut cream pie and some mint tea. The pie was absolutely amazing and my mouth is watering as I’m thinking about it right now!

Haight Street Market (The Haight)

This grocery store has a deli section that sells prepared foods and sandwiches. I haven’t had any of the prepared food but some of it looks good. I tend to come here on Tuesdays when I’m not at work because of ~* double stamp Tuesdays *~ ! Basically, you can get 2 stamps on your HSM sandwich stamp card (instead of 1). After 8 stamps, you get a sandwich for free!

There are 2 sandwiches that I’m 99% sure are vegan. One is a spicy veggie with veganaise (in the pic above) and the other one is marinated tofu with Italian dressing. You get to choose your own bread and they make it right there in a few minutes.

Nourish Cafe (Inner Richmond)

Project Meal Prep | Where to eat vegan in San Francisco

This place is very tiny and only has 4 small tables inside, and a few outside, but the food is tasty and you can see everyone cooking in the kitchen. I ordered the “Tuna” salad (above) and an apple donut, and both were really good.

Shizen Vegan Sushi Bar & Izakaya (Mission)

Shizen is hands down my favorite restaurant. I’ve talked about it before on my birthday post. I’ve taken so many people there who were skeptical first at and thought it was just going to be raw vegetables but were actually extremely impressed. One of them said he liked it even more than normal sushi!!!

There is always a line, except the one time I went at 4:50pm on a Monday. There was still a line but I was seated right away because there were only a few people ahead of me. One thing you can do if you have to wait is go to a nearby bar or coffee shop. They take your phone number, so just be ready to hurry back when you get a text.

Jardiniere (Hayes Valley)

Project Meal Prep | Where to eat vegan in San Francisco

Jardiniere is a VERY fancy restaurant. I would definitely come here for a nice date. I think the Impossible Burger might be the only vegan thing on the menu. If you go, make sure to let them know you’re there for the burger (which is delicious). If you don’t know what the heck I’m talking about, read this blog post.Project Meal Prep | Where to eat vegan in San Francisco

Vegan Burg (Haight)

This is a “fast food” style burger place that has a healthy spin. You can even get broccoli and “hot dog pieces” as a side (instead of fries). If you have to eat alone, it’s great because the restaurant is so casual.

Hella Vegan Eats (food truck)

I haven’t been to this food truck in a while. I used to spot it sometimes at the Civic Center Farmer’s market. I feel like the menu changes a lot, and it’s always very rich and heavy (think fried!) but undeniably delicious.

Gracias Madre (Mission)

Gracias Madre is a vegan Mexican restaurant that has communal seating, so you are either at the bar or at a big table with strangers. It’s kind of nice if you don’t mind talking to other people. The menu is pretty extensive and it’s always busy.

Cha-ya (Mission)

It seems like all of the servers at Cha-ya are older Japanese ladies, which makes me wonder if it’s a family business. There’s quite a variety of food to choose from, ranging from, including sushi, soups, salads and rice bowls. My favorite thing to get is Dengaku (it’s broiled eggplant with this amazing miso sauce)!

Chang’s Kitchen (Inner Sunset)

This is one of the places I order delivery from the most. I grew up on Chinese food, which is mostly meat, so I love that I can have their fake meat dishes.

Om Indian Cuisine (Haight)

This is the other place I tend to order delivery from. I live nearby (technically I could walk there if I weren’t so lazy) so I feel like delivery is SO fast and the delivery people are always so friendly and happy. As with most places, they have an entire “vegetarian” section on the menu, and the vegan items are indicated too. My absolute favorite thing to get is Baigan Bharta, which is an eggplant dish (yes I love eggplant).

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I hope you enjoyed this post and can now eat your way through San Francisco 🙂 Don’t worry, you can burn the calories by walking up and down all the massive hills!

Eating the Impossible Burger

Project Meal Prep | Eating the Impossible Burger

Last night I went out on a mission to eat the Impossible Burger. Currently, they only serve it in 4 restaurants in the world. One’s in LA, one’s in NYC, and two are in San Francisco, where I live — lucky me!!

I chose to go to the restaurant called Jardiniere to get it. It’s a “4 dollar sign” restaurant (aka FANCY A. F.). The burger isn’t explicitly advertised being vegan or vegetarian. To me, this means they’re trying to target the more upscale, meat-eating diners.

I think targeting meat-eaters is the way to go in order to make this catch on. Targeting vegans and vegetarians would be like preaching to the choir.

Project Meal Prep | Eating the Impossible Burger

They have a limited supply of burgers so you have to get a ticket when they open at 5pm. I was actually the first person last night lol (ticket #1). They don’t start serving the burgers until 7:30pm, so I left and came back.

Project Meal Prep | Eating the Impossible Burger

There’s a menu for the burger, which comes with optional beverage pairings. I didn’t get one because I already ordered a cocktail while I was waiting (and I can’t drink that much).

The first burgers started coming out at 8pm, and I got mine at 8:15.

Project Meal Prep | Eating the Impossible Burger

The burger patty was exactly what I expected from what I read and saw on the Impossible Burger website, but I was still blown away at experiencing what food sorcery was done to create such a beef-like burger. The bun and all the toppings were also delicious!

The main ingredient that makes this burger so different is something called “heme“:

Heme contributes to the characteristic color and taste of meat, and it catalyzes all the other flavors when meat is cooked. Heme is exceptionally abundant in animal muscle — and it’s a basic building block of life in all organisms, including plants. We discovered how to take heme from plants and produce it using fermentation…

Project Meal Prep | Eating the Impossible Burger

I mean, it’s pink inside! Like an undercooked burger would be. The texture and flavor were not at all like any other veggie burger I’ve eaten.

Full Ingredient List:
Water, Textured Wheat Protein, Coconut Oil, Potato Protein, Natural Flavors, 2% or less of: Leghemoglobin (heme protein), Yeast Extract, Salt, Soy Protein Isolate, Konjac Gum, Xanthan Gum, Thiamin (Vitamin B1), Zinc, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2), Vitamin B12.

I strongly believe that if you served this at a BBQ, no one would know it’s not meat. I wish I could buy it at the grocery store right now.

I’m so excited at getting the first taste of what I believe will be the future of meat. I truly think that in 10 years, mainstream meat products (as well as egg and dairy products) will not have once come from a living animal. Whether that’s lab-grown meat or whether we’re food sciencing the shit out of plants, I’m not sure. Either way, I’m thrilled that this is the future we’re heading toward.