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Every day that I go to work, I nearly go crazy…and here’s why…
The food. Nursing home food. It’s the same everywhere, so I‘m not picking on my employer. In my 15-year career as an Occupational Therapist, I’ve worked in at least a couple dozen Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNF). Hospital food is no different- I’ve worked in plenty of them, too.
The food at all of these places for sick and functionally impaired folks is abysmal. Can we really call it food? Make no mistake- this is a system-wide “healthcare” (i.e.- “keep you sick”) problem. Shall we thank our government and the USDA?
Here is an average diagnosis list for the typical patient I see in rehabilitation every day: HTN (high blood pressure), Hyperlipidemia (high cholesterol), CAD (coronary artery disease), DM (diabetes), OA (osteoarthritis), and dementia.
Many have a history of CVA (stroke) and/or cancer. Also, recurrent “antibiotic resistant” urinary tract infections are all too common ( MRSA – Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus).
This week I met a relatively rare specimen. She’s a “younger” woman (i.e. 70 years old) who fractured her leg while pruning a garden tree. She said to me, “I eat organic. I juice my vegetables. I eat kale.” She was “horrified” (her words) to have been served a hot dog and french fries for dinner on her first evening (with cake for dessert!) I truly felt her pain.
Now, let’s say you were admitted to the SNF with a CABG x 4 (a four-vessel Coronary Artery Bypass Graft) at mid-morning that same day. What did your nurse’s aide bring you for lunch?
“Beef Pot Roast, Baked Potato with Sour Cream, Green Beans and Strawberry Bavarian Cream with Whipped Topping.”
Lunch: beef, white potato, dairy, vegetable, white flour, sugar/HFCS, and oil/trans fats.
Dinner: high-sodium/high-fat/high-Nitrite animal trimmings, fried white potato, refined flour, and refined sugar.
The menu comes from “Dietician Consulting Service.” I guess these would be the Dieticians who promote chronic illness and death? Gee whiz, I must be naive to assume that a Dietician’s JOB is to develop menu plans with good nutrition.
I still have a menu from last summer, when the residents/patients were served grilled cheeseburger, french fries, and a root beer float for lunch, and then 3-cheese macaroni and cheese, peas, dinner roll with margarine, and an ice cream bar for dinner. I kid you not!
Can you believe that the daily meal plans consist primarily of meat, dairy, refined flour, white potatoes, refined sugar, unhealthy fats, and a very little vegetative matter? This is a healthy, balanced diet?
Not according to my lady patient with the lower leg cast. She must go out of her way to secure her own nourishing food. Your new coronary artery graft doesn’t have a prayer. There’s a very good chance you’ll become “vegetative” if you eat these non-nutritive substances.
Got fiber? Nope. Add your pain medications into the mix, and you’ve got some serious constipation. (No problem- you can rely on Milk of Magnesia, enemas, and/or manual fecal extraction.)
Veggies- WHERE ARE YOU?!?
The “Dietician Consulting Service” menu is devoid of nutrient density. It’s critically low in whole fruits, vegetables, mushrooms, beans, whole grains, and nuts/seeds. It’s critically low in fiber, phytochemicals (“phyto” means plant), anti-oxidants, and anti-inflammatory compounds. It’s disease-promoting and death-promoting.
I haven’t even mentioned the fact that the animals eaten every morning, noon and evening of every day, of every week, for every meal on this menu come from the worst of the very worst of the Hell holes called factory farms.
Now…are you surprised that going to work makes me nearly go crazy?
I invented this recipe to be “portable oatmeal.” It doesn’t have a muffin texture- it’s more of a dense spongy “cake.” Try it! It’s my weekday breakfast. I like the addition of yams for added flavor and nutrition. I store these in the freezer, thaw overnight, and heat in my toaster oven for about 5-10 minutes at 300 degrees while making my morning green smoothie.
Scrub 4 medium to large yams and poke with a fork. Bake at 400 for 45 minutes on foil or parchment. Cool. Peel. This will yield about 1-1 1/2 cups per potato.
4 Yams- cooked, peeled (about 4 C)
1/2 C Evaporated cane juice (vegan sugar)
1 C Non-dairy milk
1 t Vanilla extract
~2 T Maple syrup (reserve)
2 C ground oats
1/2 C spelt flour
1/4 C ground flax
1/4 C chopped walnuts
1 T baking powder
1 t salt
2 t cinnamon
Process the yams, sugar, milk, and vanilla in a food processor. Fold in the dry ingredients. Distribute in 18 *muffin liners. Make a well in the center of each with a 1/2 t measure. Drizzle maple syrup in the well.
Bake at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes. Check at about 25 minutes. You might have to put foil lightly over the top to prevent burning. Cool on a wire rack. Makes 18.
*I like the “If You Care” brand muffin liners, because food won’t stick even if you use very little to no oil in your baking.
Go! Get yourself a copy of Dreena Burton’s latest cookbook, “Let Them Eat Vegan.” You won’t be disappointed. I love the way Dreena cooks and bakes. Her creations have the perfect balance of healthy and delicious. She uses primarily whole plant ingredients, plenty of beans/legumes, minimal added fats and “just enough” sweetener. Eat all you want because there’s zero guilt!
The first recipe I tried was the Chickpea Pumpkin Seed Burgers on page 136. At first I wasn’t sure that the burgers would hold together, but after I let the patties sit for about an hour they held up just fine in the pan. I cooked 2 and refrigerated the other 4 patties (between layers of parchment paper in a storage container.) Now I know that oats are a secret ingredient for vegan burger success! I’ve used gluten flour before, but I’ve never used oats. Oats work great– I think they’re my new favorite cooking ingredient! The “resting” time must allow the oats to soak up moisture and this helps bind the burger.
For Burger Night #1 we had a side salad with a creamy horseradish dressing and some roasted Yukon Gold potatoes, carrots, celery and onion.
For Burger Night #2 I made the Raw-nch Dressing on page 47. I didn’t have fresh parsley so I used kale instead. It worked. The dressing made for a great romaine lettuce dip and burger sauce. We made some homemade potato chips!
I’m looking forward to making more out of Let Them Eat Vegan!