The Green Traveller

The Green Traveller

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The Power of Food, Yoga and Good People

FoodPosted by Dave Wise Mon, October 01, 2018 13:02:42

This post is about the healing power of food and yoga, applying the things you learn to everyday life/running, and a thank you to friends.

13 days ago I got a groin strain from lifting a heavy compressor at work. My work colleagues said my pupils dilated that day, perhaps from shock, and somebody gave me a lift home as I couldn’t see clearly enough to take public transport.

12 days ago I went to ER, had tests and a scan for possible hernia and internal bleeding. The tests were negative, which was a relief. The dizziness was still there though, and I recognized it could be serious. I’ve had 2 hernias, and internal bleeding, I know what it feels like to have something go wrong in that area of the body. The pain I felt, and the dizziness, suggested to me that I’d not be able to do any competitive running for at least a month. The doctor suggested I rest up, go on light duties at work, and take strong pain killers. I decided to take the 1st 2 bits of advice and ditch the 3rd.

I started immediately to fill myself with healing foods. All the anti inflammatories that are well known (there are no secrets in this line of medicine, no special degree needed to understand it all) - turmeric, ginger, cayenne, berries, spinach, kale and more. Often blended into drinks such as Golden Mylk...
...or simple Green Smoothies...
...to ease the load on my digestive system, so that my body would be freer to concentrate on healing my groin strain. I also had daily Hibiscus herbal teas to help with any possible blood pressure issues. Below is a typical main meal of the past week; avocado lemon pasta with a kale and olive salad.
I attended more yoga that is usual for me. I knew that by resting up I was also risking a quick recovery. I had to keep the areas around the injury mobile, whilst at the same time gently stretching the affected areas.

I knew to do this because when I came to Toronto a few years ago the first people I fell in with were all vegans - Trevor, Tim and Pamela, a Dietician - and all fans of the Rich Roll podcast. Talking with them, learning from Pam much more about food, and listening to Rich and his guests, opened doors for me that led to other great sources of knowledge such as Dr Gregor of NutritionFacts.org. All these influences have changed my life greatly, for the better.

4 days ago I visited the medical clinic where a different doctor gave me a thorough check up. Blood pressure whilst sitting, getting up, and standing, resistance exercises on the groin to see extent of injury, heart rate monitoring. He kept me on light duties at work and suggested I could start running when I felt ready. The dizziness hadn't subsided but he couldn’t explain that. I asked another doctor about that later in the day, he suggested it could be down to shock, the shock of the injury and of thinking I’d not be able to run for a long while.

2 days ago I woke up feeling pretty good after all that healthy food and stretching. I applied some athletic tape on my groin and decided that maybe I could take part in a trail race that I’d been looking forward to for months, the Run for the Toad 50k. Not to actually race it, but just to be involved, get some exercise, and to test my injury out in a no-pressure, fun and friendly environment. I went to the race, ran the trails for 10 minutes beforehand just to see how I really felt as I hadn’t actually run since I’d got injured, was happy with how the groin was, and decided to take part.

My feeling was to take it slow, to just get some distance back into my legs. This race would be part of my rehab. I feel a little at risk saying all this, mainly because general society seems to be somewhat behind athletic vegans when it comes to health matters, and many may think, if this guy was on light duties at work, how on earth could he consider running a 50k race?!!! AND why should I listen at all to such a disreputable person!

Indeed, work colleagues reading this might think dimly of me, they might suggest that I’ve not been honest with my workplace, or that whatever the reality, I should maybe keep quiet for fear of what things look like. Perhaps I'm being uncharitable suggesting that, I'm unsure. Whatever the case, my duty as I see it is to tell the truth so that others might learn as I learnt, in spite of what things may appear like to various parties, and that's what I’m doing. You see, being injured and then sitting back and letting doctors and the pharmacist dictate your recovery according to the little knowledge they have and the kickbacks they receive from the medical machine seems to be the standard method of healing these days, but it's a method that's changing. I'm thankful for that, as it seems an archaic way of going about things; being pro-active and ready to take on other ideas about healing is the way to go.

Food is there to fuel me, to heal me, to keep me healthy and, when I manage to prepare it right, it’s there to give me and whomever I am cooking for, intense pleasure. Here's a shot of today's breakfast, a really quick and easy tofu scramble with Field Roast sausage, kale, spinach and banana smoothie, and Golden Mylk. Full of taste, texture, happy brightness, and healing properties.Yoga has taught me to isolate parts of my body. One learns to breathe into the back, or legs, or arms, or shoulder, etc. It teaches me that we are all the sum of millions of working parts. You are the center point with the power to bring all these things together. You are the steward of these millions of parts. Given the chance the brain will mess you up, as will the heart, as will the microbiome, as will all the rest of the pieces. It's only you, the self, who can help them work together in the goal of being the best you can all be.

I remembered this as the race began. I was injured in my groin, but that was all. That meant I had a lot of body left with which to run! My lower legs, my glutes, my knees, my ankles, my stomach, my arms, shoulders and most of all, my head. I wasn’t going to get round this race by just running, I had to think hard at all times, concentrate on never kicking a root or rock, or falling over, or slipping on leaf covered corners. I had to apply all I had ever learnt about movement and anatomy and if I did, then maybe I would have some useful mileage back in my legs and I could perhaps looks forward to November, when I had a marathon booked, in which I had hoped to do well.

I ran straight, knees and toes facing forward, taking little steps, never over-reaching the groin. At times I felt my knees compensating for what my groin couldn’t do so I transfered my efforts to my thighs, then my calves, then when they needed a rest I ran from the shoulders, swinging my arms much more.

My vision was at times hazy so I made sure I picked up my feet extra high to avoid obstacles that I couldn’t see. At around the 30km mark I didn’t have to do this as I slowed down so much I was barely shuffling! Not just from my lack of training, but also from lack of calories. I usually take food with me to races over 10km but because of the injury taking over my mind I had forgotten to bring any. So a banana and a couple of cups of sports drink gotten from an aid station was all I had. Around 500 calories for a race that took about 4,000 calories from me, it was only natural I’d start shuffling when running on that sort of calorie deficit. This was ok though, it was all just a test, me working out how the injury was, I didn’t want to mask the reality with an overdose of sports drink/sugar, it was more important to study my fitness than to run fast.

I smiled as people overtook me, good for them, there was no point in me feeling competitive, I just wished their heels a happy goodbye and enjoyed the scenery all around. The rolling hills, the forest, it was good to be out there, truly alive.I finished the 50k in around 4 hours and 45 minutes. Half an hour at least off what I would normally do, but that was ok. I came 1st place in the 50+ age group, for which I got a pretty snazzy (vegan!) cheeseboard inscribed with ferns. I hadn't expected that at all and it made the pain quite bearable, kind of! Because to be sure, there was pain. I hadn't felt so beat up for years. A half hour after the race I was still lay there, in the grass behind the finish line, wishing the moment to pass, wishing my legs, my core, my arms would stop throbbing and crying out. The only thing that didn't hurt was my strapped up groin strain, and for that I was so grateful! Here's me and the vegan cheeseboard of victory, 5 hours later, feeling much better.The past 2 weeks has taught me to have even greater confidence in the power of food, and yoga, and in seeking out people who can help you on your path, and to be the person who puts themselves in a position to help others on their own path, and I write this post in the hope that it encourages you to switch on to those concepts, too.

I’m not out of the woods yet, I am still strapped up and not back to anything like my full training. That’ll hopefully start after another week of good food and yoga. But my current fitness is way above what I would’ve hoped for 2 weeks ago.

Here are some leads if you want to know more;

Rich Roll - http://www.richroll.com/

Dr Gregor - https://nutritionfacts.org/

Dr Pamela Fergusson - https://pamelafergusson.com/

If you’re in Toronto, come along to
Octopus Garden Yoga - http://octopusgardenyoga.com/

and if you're not in Toronto, perhaps seek out a good yoga studio with an emphasis on community. 'Yoga with Adrienne' on YouTube is also very good!



Prawn Cocktail

FoodPosted by Dave Wise Thu, July 26, 2018 12:23:03

I didn’t know that there is no sustainable way of fishing for shrimp/prawn (the two words are used interchangeably by many people although shrimp live mainly in salt water and prawn in fresh) until I went to Costa Rica and spoke to the marine biologists who were working on the M/V Sharkwater. It was harsh to hear about the commercial fishing method, which involved dragging a weighted net along the ocean bed and catching everything in its path (or destroying it, in the case of reef). It’s such a bad way of fishing that only 4%, or less, of a shrimp trawlers catch is actually shrimp, the rest is other animals (turtles, dolphins, fish, etc) that die in the nets and are thrown back into the sea.

After hearing that, if I wasn’t already vegan then the first course of action for me would be obvious. Give up eating shrimp and prawn. But I am vegan so I already don’t eat any seafood at all.

The easy way forward, then, would be to stand back and say, hey, it’s you meat eaters that are to blame here, y’all got to sort this out among you. Stop eating unsustainable food, stop funding these trawlers with your purchases, and start funding fishermen who are doing the right thing.

But mainly I’m writing this for my friends and family so I don’t want to just walk away, not when I have quite a good knowledge of cooking and how to make cruelty free, sustainable food.

Those close to me said they’d be happy to try new foods, but they enjoyed fish, and shrimp, so they didn’t want to give it up. They reminded me of spoilt young kids, sitting in their high-chairs, banging unsustainable plastic spoons onto unsustainable plastic trays and bowls and shouting “But I want my shrimp!”

Kind of like when grown adults saying something like ‘Ooh, I’d love to be vegetarian and get away from all that dairy farm cruelty, heart disease and other health problems, but I could never give up cheese…”

You just want to say, have a listen to yourself, do you really think life is all about you?

But hey, I’m trying to take a more gentle line these days, trying to play the game in a softer manner. This isn’t about me getting a kick out of acting superior or being a smartass, it’s about the animals and the environment, and I have to do the best I can for their sake. So the sarcasm and disdain which comes so naturally to one born into my circumstances and part of England has to take a back seat, replaced instead by something far more useful, which is…

A vegan version of shrimp cocktail (we call it prawn cocktail in the UK, it's the same thing though) and prawn curry.

I knew I had to create something that was simple to make so people new to vegan cooking could get on with it. It’s not easy to learn how to cook properly after you’ve spent your life eating meat and seafood in the manner of the western world, which encourages you to salt and sweeten everything to such an extent that your taste buds become a shadow of what they can be, and your visits to the spice rack are way too infrequent. So here’s what I came up with.

Take Note; And this is important. Many veggie replacement meat or fish recipes try to entice you into making them by saying they’ll taste the same as meat or fish. Then you make them and find that’s not true at all, and there begins, or continues, the erosion of trust that is tearing our societies apart.

These recipes don’t taste like prawn, I won't claim that, but they are tasty alternatives that are near to the prawn eating experience, so I hope you’ll give them a try and phase shrimp/prawn out of your diet as a result.

Prawn Cocktail

The main attraction with this dish is the sauce and the appearance. Get those 2 things right and it hardly matters what replaces the shrimp. I tried 3 different fillings. They were:

Cannellini beans (these are also sold as white kidney beans) and small pieces of raw cauliflower.

The stalks from mushrooms.

Pieces of seitan, that I made myself with a sushi/seaweed seasoning.

I did a blind taste test on a couple of friends and they both said, they’re all different and they’re all good, why don’t you mix them together and instead of having a single texture you can have 4. So I did just that, and it was a cool result. If you've no experience of making seitan no problem, leave it out, just use the mushrooms, beans and cauliflower instead. Or if you can think of another veggie substitute, then throw that in instead.

The prawn cocktail sauce is made from:

2 tbsp Veganaise (that’s mayo, but without the cruelty). You can also use regular, thick mayo if you can’t find it

1.5 tbsp tomato ketchup

1 tbsp lemon juice (the type you get from a bottle is fine, fresh is better). Don't put too much of this in, it will make the sauce too runny. If you'd like to play around with ingredients here, you may want to sub the lemon juice for white wine vinegar

2 splashes veggie Worcestershire sauce

2 drops of Tabasco sauce

Salt and pepper to taste
Mix it all up, stir in the filling, line a cocktail glass - or bowl - with lettuce, spoon the mix on top of the leaves and sprinkle with optional toppings. Serve with a lemon wedge on the side.


Or serve at a picnic, as I did, with fresh bread...
...or as a platter with pita and other spreads/toppings.
Optional additions:

If after mixing all the sauce ingredients together you find you need to add more heat, add more Worcestershire sauce or Tabasco, and if you need a different sort of heat, you can try adding some horseradish sauce.

If you want more of a seafood flavour, add some crumbled nori seaweed or sushi seasoning.

If you’d like it to look pinker, add a little more ketchup.

Top the dish with cut chives and a sprinkle of cayenne pepper to make it look even more special.

Now, I understand it might be a hassle to get veggie mayo and Worcestershire sauce or to even think about buying something you never bought before, but welcome to the new world. The easy way that you’ve been following has filled the oceans with plastic and our hearts with an acceptance of cruelty, and driven many species - including our own - to a dangerous place. Extinction, for us all, is a very real prospect. To dig us out of this hole will take work and part of that work begins at the supermarket. Spend more time learning about food and shopping for it, and pay a little more for quality, sustainable ingredients. That’s the future, if you want there to be a future.

Next blog post I’ll move onto the coconut prawn curry.