There is a small, but growing movement in our community to educate people about how a 100% plant-based diet can reverse heart disease, lower cancer rates, and improve quality of life. I do not know the stats right off hand, but our Oklahoma county ranks among the highest in the state for cardiovascular disease, cancer and obesity.
The catalysts for this movement include a handful of doctors and our local hospital, who are following one of the hospital's missions to prevent disease in our area. They have been spurred on by the research of Cleveland Clinic Cardiologist, Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., who has found that eating a plant-based diet can reverse heart disease.
My personal involvement in this is for a number of reasons. The first, and most important to me, is that I am getting older and need to take better care of myself for my family. I have been moving in the plant-based diet direction for about a year now. My wife introduced me to the writings of Dr. Esselstyn and Dr. Campbell, author of The China Study. Also, the documentary "Forks Over Knives" (available on Netflix instant play) pushed me along this path to plant-based nutrition.
Don't get me wrong. I love (loved) to eat meat, eggs, milk, cheese and seafood. I like all of it, but I knew that I was eating too much of it. Weight gain, rising cholesterol, acid reflux, my dad's prostate cancer and heart problems pushed me to re-evaluate what I was putting into my body. With the growing library of nutritional information in my head along with other external factors I decided to make a change. As a matter of fact, it was irrational, in my mind, to continue on the path that I was taking.
Needless to say, living in an area with lots of cattle, steakhouses, and burger joints, the Esselstyn program may be slow to catch on. Hopefully with the healthy and delicious recipes I will share here, all of us southern Oklahoma carnivores can at least try this plant-based eating and lifestyle change that will lower our cholesterol levels, reverse heart disease, and lower cancer risks. (Please know that all recipes previously posted in this blog were written before I made this change.)
Black Bean Burgers (Vegetarian and Vegan Burgers)
1 can black beans rinsed and drained
1 can of diced tomatoes with chiles drained (Rotel)
1 bunch of fresh cilantro
2 cloves of garlic peeled
2 green onions with tops chopped
1 cup of carrots chopped
1 cup brown rice (cooked)
1 cup quick oats
Salt, soy sauce or Bragg's Aminos to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Put the green onions, cilantro, carrots, and garlic cloves in a blender or food processor and process until pieces are finely minced to the size of lentils or smaller. Once a fine mince is achieved, add the rinsed beans and tomatoes with chiles until a paste (which is really more like a hummus) is formed.
Pour the paste into a bowl and add one cup of brown rice and 1 cup of quick oats and stir. (I like the brown rice because in makes the veggie burgers a little more moist.) Taste your mixture and add seasoning as needed. Form the mixture into patties and place on a lined baking sheet. This mixture should yield about 8 patties.
Place into the oven and cook for 12 minutes and then finish under the boiler of 2-3 minutes. All you want to do is brown the patties a little.
Assemble your burgers on whole wheat hamburger buns. Use a turner to pick up the patties from the baking pan and place a patty on the bun. I substitute mashed avocados for mayo as my spread, and loaded the sandwich with dill pickles, mustard, greens, tomatoes and onions. This "hamburger" is very satisfying and super-healthy. With recipes like these, some meat-eaters might be convinced to give this diet a chance!