Thursday, December 28, 2006

Garlicky Greens

This isn't the traditional preparation for collards, but I like it much better! Here in the South, cooked greens are eaten on New Years Day to represent wealth in the new year -- especially green dollar bills. The more you eat, the more money that will come your way!

I'd love to hear about your New Years' food traditions from your family our your part of the country! Be sure to post in the comments section to share your story!

Garlicky Greens

1 bunch collard greens
2 tablespoons water
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt

1. Clean greens by removing center rib, trim and wash thoroughly.

2. Tear clean greens into pieces or sliced into ribbons.

3. In a large, deep skillet, warm olive oil over medium-low heat. Add half of minced cloves and saute for about 1 minute.

4. Add greens, water and salt. Toss to coat.

5. Cover and steam greens for about 10 minutes or until wilted and bright green.

6. Add remaining garlic, a drizzle of olive oil and cover. Cook one more minute.

7. Serve immediately.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Yuletide Oatmeal Cookies

When the winter winds start whipping down the mountains, in my mind it’s time to start baking. I love the ritual of putting together raw ingredients and transforming them into something new while warming the kitchen and creating special treats for friends and family.

No time is the ritual of baking more magical than during Christmas. I can remember my mother and grandmother baking up a frenzy in the weeks leading up to the holiday. Flour and sugar and butter and eggs were transformed into a wide array of cookies – each seemingly more delicious than the next. All these cookies were traded in cookie exchanges or packaged prettily to share with friends and neighbors. I can recall many frosty dark nights when a loved one would knock on the kitchen door after dinner bearing a plate piled high with cookies to share. It was just another part of the ritual of baking.

It seems as if baking and sharing one’s creations has fallen by the wayside. Why not revive the tradition in your own neighborhood? Surely you could stand to get to know your neighbors better – and what better way to bridge the gap between virtual strangers than a plate of freshly baked homemade cookies?

If you are new to baking, I can offer a few tips to get your moving in the right direction. Invest in an oven thermometer. These simple devices cost under $5 at most stores (check your favorite kitchen store or mega store). Hang it off the rack in your oven and turn on your oven to 350 degrees. It should take about 15 for your oven to thoroughly pre-heat. Open the door and check the reading on the thermometer. If the reading is 350, you’ll know your oven is calibrated correctly. But if for instance, it reads 325, you’ll know your oven runs 25 degrees too cool. To bake at the correct temperature, you’ll have to set the oven to 375. Setting your oven to the right temperature will make baking much less frustrating and will turn out better products.

Next, spend a few dollars on fresh ingredients. Stock up on ground cinnamon, ground ginger, ground nutmeg and ground clove. Also, buy a new bottle of vanilla and fresh baking powder and baking soda. These ingredients can loose their flavor and potency if they sit on your shelf for several months. Fresh ingredients will yield delicious baked goods – all the better to impress your friends and family.

Now you’re ready to get started! Try the recipe below for a tasty seasonal cookie. It offers some real nutrition – a real switch from some other holiday cookies! Happy baking and happy holidays!

Yuletide Oatmeal Cookies

2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup packed brown sugar
½ cup milled cane sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups oatmeal
1 ½ cups unbleached flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon fine sea salt
½ teaspoon non-aluminum baking powder
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped pecans

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. ightly grease a cookie sheet and set aside.

3. Using a mixer, combine butter, brown sugar, milled cane sugar, eggs and vanilla. Mix until all ingredients are incorporated and the mixture is fluffy.

4. Add flour, cinnamon, sea salt and baking powder and mix until just combined.

5. Stir in cranberries and pecans by hand.

6. Drop onto prepared baking sheet using 1 ounce scoop or tablespoon.

7. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for five minutes before removing from cookie sheet.

8. Finish cooling cookies on wire rack.

9. Repeat with remaining dough.

10. Store cookies in an airtight container.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Veggie Hero: Barbara Kerr

When I asked vegan cookbook author and cooking school leader Barbara Kerr to be a Veggie Hero, I discovered that she's a rebel! Barbara wrote her own story of health and vegetarianism and it was just too interesting to force into a format too much. So here's our first unortodox Veggie Hero column in Barbara's own words!

What inspired you to go veg?

I am a 25-year survivor of crohn’s disease. Crohn's is an inflammatory bowel disease that can cause inflammation and ulceration of the small or large intestine and eventually malabsorption of the food one eats. It can cause chronic diarrhea, intestinal pain, urgency (when you feel there isn’t enough time to make it to the toilet), rectal bleeding, blood loss anemia, and incontinence of stool and fistula disease. Those that suffer usually suffer silently. It's an embarrassing disease that is not talked about. My goal is to change all that and to let the world know there is hope!

In October of 1994, doctors removed my extremely scarred large intestine and rectum. I felt as though I had been defeated and that I would never be able to help anyone else. At that point in time I had been drug free for one year and three months. However, the day before my surgery, I had my last colonoscopy (a test where a tube with a small camera attached is inserted into the rectum and views you from the inside out). That test showed that I had totally healed approximately two-thirds of my large intestine, which had previously been 100%, ulcerated. Unfortunately, years of scar tissue had developed in my descending colon and rectum, making it impossible to save. I gratefully live with an ileostomy now, thankful to be alive and able to help others. I have occasionally had flare-ups, but can kick one out in 24 hours or less. Please visit my website for detailed information on how I have controlled crohn’s disease drug-free for more than 14 years now.

I grew up a truck driver’s daughter in a family of six, where meat and potatoes were always the main course. At the age of 16 when I first became ill, I went to doctor after doctor and swallowed the handfuls of pills that were prescribed for me. But in addition to that medication, I was also given a special diet. I was told to eat very bland food that was fiber-free. White rice, white potatoes, white bread, casseroles and the like became my diet. I was instructed not to eat anything fresh or raw. No salads, fresh fruit or fresh veggies were to grace my table.

At first this diet wasn’t a problem for me. I was a teenager and fresh healthy foods weren’t at the top of my culinary desires. Sadly, I did not understand that those foods might sustain my life for a period of time, but they certainly would not sustain my health!

Years passed and I turned into an invalid towards the end of my 20s. I spent hours every day in hot sitz baths where I began to read looking for other answers. I knew I was dying and I desperately wanted to live.

I prayed earnestly for answers, asking God to show me what to do. Then I received a little booklet in the mail from my aunt called "Two Months to Live" by Jan Marcussen, in which he shared the story of a man dying of cancer and how the man was given two months to live and told to go home and get his affairs in order. This cancer patient found a doctor that had gotten fed up with practicing “sickness” and had begun practicing “wellness” using what he called “God’s Natural Laws of Health and Healing."

I read the booklet from cover to cover devouring it. I pondered the healing of this sick man after he began drinking “food juices” and following a program of specialized nutrition, exercise, pure water, proper sunshine, being temperate, breathing pure air, getting plenty of rest at night and trusting in God Almighty. Questions began to whirl through my mind. Could doing these simple things REALLY make that much of a difference? The adrenaline began to flow and I got excited that maybe, just maybe this doctor could help me. After placing a few phone calls everything just clicked. My mom would fly out to Indiana to take care of our three-year-old and I had a plane ticket for Florida and would stay at the clinic for four weeks.

Everyday I followed a routine of drinking carrot and green juice on the hour, alternately with water or herbal teas. I also consumed a two-ounce Dixie cup full of activated charcoal powder mixed with olive oil every afternoon. We received herbal enemas once a day, acupuncture treatments, charcoal poultices on any affected areas and morning lectures. Our exercise consisted of what we could tolerate. Because of my need to be near a bathroom I used the mini-trampoline and kept my walking to back and forth on the side walk in front of the clinic.

During this month of being on a supervised juice fast, my body changed in unbelievable ways. After just 24-hours of being on juices, a boil that was forming at the base of my vagina (my body’s method of forming a new recto-vaginal fistula – where your body forms a tunnel from one organ to another) had completely healed! It was just gone. I had spent weeks in pain. I had been to my gynecologist begging him to lance it, but all he would give me were antibiotics (again).

I also noticed a change in the color of my skin. My face had been white as a sheet and now my cheeks were ruddy and pink in color. I was beginning to feel happy again like there was light at the end of the tunnel, and my depression about dying began to lift. I felt freedom like any prisoner must feel as those chains of bondage are released. God was filling me with His joy as He taught me step-by-step about His natural laws for our bodies.

When I left the clinic I made a promise to God, that until this day I have done my best to fulfill. I promised God that I would spend the rest of my life trying to help others not to get as sick as I once had been, and that I would shout the truth of God’s natural laws of health from the highest mountain tops whenever He provided an opportunity.

Let me tell you, when you make a promise to God, and you mean it, . . . doors begin to fly open. Before I knew it I was taping cooking programs in my own home in Ft. Wayne, Indiana, and they were airing on the local public access TV station. My mother (also to this day my biggest fan) sent one of those amateur videos to Three Angels Broadcasting Network and then began calling them every month to ask them if they had viewed the program yet. Finally, in an attempt to get rid of her (most likely), they watched the program, . . . and liked it. I then received invitations to tape a series of programs on their "Food For Thought" show and then a weekly, hour-long cooking segment was created for me on their flag-ship program every Wednesday, called “Presents." I began flying to 3ABN regularly and volunteered my time and energy for seven years producing vegan/vegetarian cooking programs for their network.

I would like to just stop here for a moment and tell you why I began a cooking ministry.

After I learned about what I should be putting into my body at the juice clinic, I went home with a new outlook on what I should be buying. I invested money in vegetarian cookbooks and began cooking recipes out of them in an attempt to change my family’s unhealthy eating habits. I also would stop into health food stores and buy food items they had prepared in their deli section. Honestly, I was dumb-found at just how bad everybody’s food tasted! Every vegan dessert I ordered was grainy or mushy or had an overpowering taste of honey. My red-headed nature began to emerge and I became more than frustrated at the amount of money and time I was spending on “healthy recipes” that tasted, well, like . . . . . . . . . hmmm . . . . . let’s just say I was disappointed.

So I went to work in my own kitchen sure that I could do a better job than what I was finding available.

How do you handle family holiday dinners?

Thanksgiving was coming up and I wanted pumpkin pie for dessert. I began mixing ingredients together and baked the first pie. Cooled it, cut it, and . . . YUCK. It was disgusting. Into the trash it went. I moved onto pie number two. Same thing. Pie three, pie four. By now it was getting late and I was exhausted so I went to bed for the night.

The next morning I arose and decided to try another pie experiment, so downstairs I went. My father-in-law was visiting from Pennsylvania and was sitting at my breakfast table sipping a cup of coffee when I walked over to the counter and opened the cupboard to retrieve a plate. As I began slicing I heard his voice say, “Barbara, is that pie you’re cutting over there?” Now I was faced with a tough choice. Do I tell the man that’s never eaten a bite of tofu in his life that I have a vegan pie experiment sitting in front of me that I know he’ll turn his nose up at, or, do I allow him to be my guinea pig? I chose the latter. I was grateful the cupboard door was open and my now reddened face could hide behind it. “Cut me a piece,” I heard his voice say. I obeyed and slowly walked around the counter to the table and placed the pie in front of him. I couldn’t even make eye contact. I immediately walked back around to hide my face behind the open cupboard again. A few agonizing moments later he said, “Wow, this is really good!” I said, “It is?” To this day, nine years and counting, my father-in-law still has no idea that he ate a piece of pumpkin pie that was made with silken tofu instead of eggs and canned milk. And that friends, was the moment of birth for my Taste Of Health ministry.

I attribute the success of my cookbooks and programs to my belief that God wants me to do everything to the best of my ability. Excellence, not mediocrity is what He desires. I am on a mission to change the opinion of the world, and to show them that healthy food can not only taste wonderful, but can look beautiful! I work very hard on making my food taste like what it’s replacing and I have thrown away a lot of food over the years. I will say that with any God-given talent, that the more you use it, the more God blesses and multiplies it. With new healthfood companies opening every month, they make my job easier and easier. I think my recipes get better and better and my goal is to create recipes that you can prepare for your family or coworkers and they won’t wonder what in the world you served them.

I will confess that within my own family holiday meals can be a challenge. Every Thanksgiving my family gets together with my sisters’ family of five and my dad’s family of three. My husband, son and I are the only vegetarians in the group. Usually we pool our food, but I always have to make enough vegetarian food that I can replace the entrĂ©e, gravy and stuffing, in addition to everything else I need to bring. The challenge really comes in when our company stays for several days and I have to prepare other meals for them.

Just this past Thanksgiving it was my responsibility to make a meal for Friday night for everyone. I planned, I shopped, I cooked. I set the most elegant table with every detail just perfect. I had prepared my Tofu & Spinach Stuffed Shells as the main course, with green soybeans, salad and garlic bread. I made pumpkin roll for dessert. I should just stop here and say that you can be the best cook in the world, but if you have a reputation for making “weird” food, your family won’t ever be able to actually “taste” what you have prepared for them.

Everyone arrived and shortly they took their seats. They all looked nervous and began to make small talk. I noticed immediately that people were filling their plates with salad and bread and not really touching the entrĂ©e. Finally my dad took one and then his wife. They played with it a little, talking and pushing them around their plates. Not a word was spoken by anyone about the meal. No one said, “Wow, what a lovely dinner you have prepared”, nothing. I mean come on, if you really hate someone’s food, the VERY least you can do is complement their table or the decorations. It costs us nothing to pay someone a complement.

I was hurt deeply. I had made this meal for many others and I know it tastes good. It just goes to show the power of a person’s mind. If you’ve already decided you’re not going to like something, you’re not going to like it! It’s as simple as that.

I know it’s not right, but next year when it’s my turn for the meal, I’m going to serve them peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on white bread with some Kraft mac and cheese as a side dish. I’m going to put out the paper plates and serve Kool-Aid in Dixie cups. I’ll go ahead and put a few candles on the table just for decoration though. I wonder if anyone will actually notice? See, even I can be wounded. Don’t mean to whine!

I guess what I’m trying to say is that if you eat differently than the rest of your family don’t expect them to just jump on the band wagon. I imagine it will take a lot of time before they don’t think I’m weird anymore. Maybe it will never happen, I don’t know. I have learned that it’s a lot easier and more rewarding to cook for perfect strangers that don’t have any expectations about my food. I love to entertain on Sabbath and have people over for lunch. It is how hospitality was meant to be. Sharing a meal with friends, encouraging each other.

What's your favorite veg food?

I really can’t name a favorite veggie food. I love so many foods and dishes. My healthy desserts are really my forte though, and in my second cookbook there is a recipe for Pumpkin Roll that is absolutely fantastic. The New York Style Blueberry Cheesecake is also mouth-watering good. My favorite entrees are my Penne Pasta Primavera (found in the recipe packet), the Honey Mustard Tofu Steaks (in volume one), the BBQ Ribs in volume two, and the list goes on and on. I tried to warn you.

Do you have a favorite veg book?

My favorite vegetarian cookbooks are of course my own, "Taste Of Health," volumes 1 & 2. I also have a recipe packet available. My books can be purchased online through my website or by mail (P.O. Box 38, Gaston, SC 29053). I’m gearing up to work on getting the recipe packet published into volume three within the next year. It’s a lot of work and money. Please be praying for this project as I know God will bless.

Tofu or tempeh?

Definitely tofu! I am not a tempeh lover.

What did you have for breakfast today?

Breakfast for me usually consists of two choices that I just adore! I LOVE Kashi Go Lean Crunch with a cup of blueberries and vanilla Silk milk. I eat that almost everyday. When I want a change, I will cook up my favorite Belgian 7-Grain Waffles. Oh how I love them, let me count the ways. I will also cover them in berries with a little pure maple syrup and that will be my breakfast feast.

An Update On Taste Of Health Ministry from Barbara Kerr

I just want to take a moment to say “Thank You” to all the loyal supporters of my ministry that continue to call and tell me that they miss seeing me and Linda (former vice-president of 3ABN) cooking in her “kitchen." I have so appreciated your prayers and hugs over the phone. However, I will not be taping programs at Three Angels anymore.

I’ve started doing more cooking schools again in churches around the country. I was also the main women’s retreat speaker in Cape May, New Jersey, this past April. God also opened an amazing door here in Columbia, South Carolina, at Fort Jackson, our military base. I am teaching a class (along with another woman) to the female officers called, “Every Woman’s Battle." It’s a weekly class on sexual integrity as God intended it. The class has been a huge success so far and we are excited about the questions these women are asking regarding the Bible.

My husband, Bill, and I were in Spokane, Washington, in September 9th, giving our first marriage seminar on “How to Get Along”. If you would like details or a reference, just call Mable Dunbar at the Upper Columbia Conference. (509-838-2761)

On September 29th, 2006, Taste Of Health received its non-profit status. We are now a 501(c)(3) and we are excited about that.

Many of you have called to ask if I am going to tape programs anymore. The answer is, “YES” I am going to tape programs again because I want to get back to work doing what God called me to do!

I am saying “Yes” in faith. The HOPE Channel and LLBN have both indicated that they would love to air my cooking programs, but neither facility has a kitchen studio. I am still without a studio or the funds to build one. (I’ve had the plans drawn up for a year now just waiting on God’s timing to be perfect, and His hand to move on my behalf). Last week my friend and assistant, Claudia and I sat down and planned out 120 thirty-minute programs. I don’t know where the studio will be, nor do I have the funds to accomplish this work, but that’s God’s problem. We have a deal - I work, and He supplies my needs.

I do pray that God will use my ministry to bring ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands to know the Savior. Bless the Lord oh my soul, and all that is within me bless His holy name. To God be the glory!

If you would like to contact my ministry you can do so through my website or by email at

Friday, December 15, 2006

In the News: Just How Useful Are Animal Studies to Human Health?

Newswise (12/15/06) — Animal studies are of limited usefulness to human health because they are of poor quality and their results often conflict with human trials, argue researchers in a study on (British Medical Journal) today.

Before clinical trials are carried out, the safety and effectiveness of new drugs are usually tested in animal models. Some believe, however, that the results from animal trials are not applicable to humans because of biological differences between the species.

So researchers compared treatment effects in animal models with human clinical trials.

They used systematic reviews (impartial summaries of evidence from many different studies) of human and animal trials to analyse the effects of six drugs for conditions such as head injury, stroke and osteoporosis.

Agreement between human and animal studies varied. For example, corticosteroids did not show any benefit for treating head injury in clinical trials but did show a benefit in animal models. Results also differed for the drug tirilazad to treat stroke - data from animal studies suggested a benefit but the clinical trials showed no benefit and possible harm.

Some results did agree. For instance, bisphosphonates increased bone mineral density in both clinical trials and animal studies, while corticosteroids reduced neonatal respiratory distress syndrome in animal studies and in clinical trials, although the data were sparse.

Animal studies are generally of poor quality and lack agreement with clinical trials, which limits their usefulness to human health, say the authors. This discordance may be due to bias, random error, or the failure of animal models to adequately represent clinical disease.

Systematic reviews could help translate research findings from animals to humans. They could also promote closer collaboration between the research communities and encourage an interative approach to improving the relevance of animal models to clinical trial design, they conclude.

In the News: Intelligent Children More Likely to Become Vegetarian

Newswise (12/15/06) — Intelligent children may be more likely to be vegetarian as adults, suggests a study published online by the British Medical Journal today.

Recent evidence suggests that vegetarianism may be linked to lower cholesterol levels and a reduced risk of obesity and heart disease. This might help to explain why children who score higher on intelligence tests tend to have a lower risk of coronary heart disease in later life.

The study involved 8179 men and women aged 30 years whose IQ was tested at age 10 years.

Twenty years later, 366 (4.5%) of participants said they were vegetarian. Of these, 9 (2.5%) were vegan and 123 (33.6%) stated they were vegetarian but reported eating fish or chicken.

Vegetarians were more likely to be female, to be of higher occupational social class and to have higher academic or vocational qualifications than non-vegetarians, although these differences were not reflected in their annual income, which was similar to that of non-vegetarians.

Higher IQ at the age of 10 years was associated with an increased likelihood of being vegetarian at the age of 30. This relation was partly accounted for by better education and higher occupational social class, but it remained statistically significant after adjusting for these factors.

There was no difference in IQ score between strict vegetarians and those who said they were vegetarian but who reported eating fish or chicken.

The finding that children with greater intelligence are more likely to report being vegetarian as adults, together with the evidence on the potential benefits of a vegetarian diet on heart health, may help to explain why higher IQ in childhood or adolescence is linked with a reduced risk of coronary heart disease in adult life, write the authors.

Alternatively, the link may be merely an example of many other lifestyle preferences that might be expected to vary with intelligence, but which may or may not have implications for health, they conclude.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Lend Your Voice to PCRM

The awesome organization Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine is looking for a few good speakers.

They are embarking on a project to promote a vegan diet to prevent, treat, and reverse heart disease, and they need volunteers to help make this program a success.

Members of service organizations around the country, such as Rotary clubs and similar venues, are the target audience. PCRM will train you and provide a model speech, visuals, and hand-outs to guide your 15-minute presentation. What they need from you is a willingness to spread a healthful message. PCRM can help you find service clubs in your area; however, they’ll leave it to you to contact individual clubs and schedule your talk dates.

In order to make this a success, PCRM is looking for presenters who can speak about a vegan diet with confidence and motivate the listeners to take action toward personal well-being. You need not have a medical background, as all the information required is provided to you. Please consider spreading the message of the health benefits of a vegan diet. PCRM has found service club members to be an ideal audience to receive and share such important information.

Learn more about becoming a heart health speaker.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Way to go, Bob!

"The Price Is Right" game show host Bob Barker has pledged $300,000 toward housing an elephant from the Los Angeles Zoo in an animal sanctuary, his publicist said yesterday.

To read the entire story, click on:

Oranges at Yuletide

Oranges have long been associated with Yule. They are bright orange and hence represent the Sun. They come ripe near the Solstice as well. The association of citrus fruit and the winter holidays grew strong in Europe. In fact, when I was in Holland one Christmas, my host carried a bag of tangerines and handed them out to friends and strangers alike. One day, when I gave up my seat on the train to an old woman, she smiled across our language barrier and gave me a mandarin. This tradition came along during immigration into America. It survived especially in Appalachia, becoming a symbol of the sweetness and brightness of the upcoming year. It became a well-established tradition -- one I experienced as a child -- to discover an orange in the toe of one's stocking each Christmas morning.

Photo credit:

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Holiday Travel Hint

It can be challenging enough to eat right during the holidays, but when you're traveling it becomes even tougher. To avoid getting too sluggish and rundown while on the road visiting family and friends, I take along a stash of healthy goodies. Instant oatmeal (Kashi is my fav) is a great way to start the day right -- and it's easy to get hot water everywhere from a hotel to grandma's house. Green tea bags, multivitamins, and healthy energy bars round out my roadtrip stores. Give it a try this year!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Ode to a Coondog

In August 2005 my husband and I adopted Maggie, a black-and-tan and bluetick mixed coondog. She's the absolute light of our life. We're not sure when she was born but our vet estimates around the first of December 2004. So we choose to celebrate her birthday today!

Hunting dogs like Maggie are often dumped. The alpha male is chosen out of the litter and the rest of the puppies are disposed of like so much trash. But hunting dogs make wonderful pets -- even for non-hunting folks like us! Because hunting dogs were bred to be around people, they are gentle, smart and loyal. I hope when it comes to your next companion animal adoption that you'll consider a hunting dog -- one of the most overlooked breeds at shelters.

As I was preaching this gospel at the dog park one day, a fellow coondog lover and I struck up a conversation. As he walked off, he shouted back to me, "I love my hillbilly coondogs!" Amen my Appalachian brother!