Valentines, Hearts—and Vegetables?

If you are new to plant based eating (and maybe even if you aren’t so new) and still wondering how to handle special occasion dinners, read on for an inspiring story from Joan Davis. She shares her insights on how she and her husband are enjoying the benefits of their new way of eating.

Thank you Joan for sharing your experience with others!

I’m celebrating Valentines big time this year because last year on Feb. 14th my husband’s heart stopped yet this year it’s working pumping stronger than ever.

I’m giving greens and grains the major credit for the happier ending of our Valentine’s story. Yes, his quick resuscitation and the defibrillator were critical at the crisis, but after rehab and resumption of his old life, it’s the adoption of our whole grain plant based diet that’s now giving him the new life and health he’s enjoying.

After reading Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn Jr. attending a workshop offered by the good doctor at Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, we adopted a no-oil totally plant-based whole food diet. First we revamped the contents of our pantry, refrigerator, and freezer, eliminating most processed foods and all animal-based products.

We discovered the amazing variety of different whole grains and beans and learned to carry a magnifying glass when shopping to scrutinize all labels. I learned most of the supposedly healthy convenience foods we’d been eating often were processed with the fats, sugars and oils we’re now avoiding. We found the stores and grocery aisles that had healthy foods and learned how to negotiate in restaurants so we could continue eating out frequently.

And I, the woman who didn’t attempt a recipe if it had more than 3 ingredients, learned to cook! Thanks to all the great plant-based recipes I’ve found in healthy cookbooks and on the internet, I’ve discovered my kitchen and can now prepare plant-based soups to desserts.

Most of my culinary attempts turn out surprisingly well. Only a few are ones we won’t try again (The tofu scramble never did cut it for my husband as a substitute for scrambled eggs!) Still the meatless meatloaf, oil-free gravy and healthy mashed potatoes were a big hit and we both love the carrot cake and banana-based “ice cream” we enjoy for dessert.

At first it was a steep learning curve, but now eating plant-based has become routine, especially as our tastes changed. We were advised that over a few months the typical American craving for sugar, fat and salt would lessen, and indeed it did. Still I won’t say living plant-based in a carnivore world is easy, but it’s definitely worth the effort.

My husband’s improved so much clinically and physically his doctor is amazed, we recently completed a 6-day biking tour in the Netherlands, and we’re back cross country skiing and snowshoeing. I’m not complaining about the 25 pounds we both so easily lost in the first few months of our new eating plan.

All the happy surprises of this past year are definitely worth celebrating. New cook that I am, I’ve got an indulgent but heart-healthy dinner in mind for February 14th to celebrate Valentines and what my husband likes to call his 1-year re-birthday.

After dining on spinach beet salad, lentil meatloaf, sweet potatoes with cranberry glaze and cherry-chocolate cake, we’ll raise a glass of red wine and toast our good fortune discovering our new heart-healthy lifestyle.

And Happy Valentines to you too!

Plant-based Joan

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