Saturday, December 31, 2011

Hoff Hit: Probiotics

Aside from helping to prevent yeast infections, taking a daily probiotic may also keep you from catching a cold!

Doc: Dr. Andrew Weil's Healthy Aging

Dr. Andrew Weil's Healthy Aging may not have been what I expected, but in the end, that was a good thing.

I'll be honest, I kinda thought this doc would be about growing old gracefully - avoiding winkles, gray hair, packing on the pounds, etc.

In reality, this doc has substance!

Weil's starts out by dispelling the popular myths of aging, then he goes into diet & lifestyle changes that facilitate aging well.

He reminds us that age and disease do not go hand in hand.  That cognitive decline, heart disease, etc. are not natural aspects of aging.

That our goal is to live long and well; not reverse the aging process, which is in opposition to nature.

And the biggest lesson I took from this doc is that our number one goal is to have the shortness period of disability into the decline of health just before death.

This last point makes me think of my two grandfathers.  One suffered a long, tedious illness that left him bed ridden, robbing him of his quality of life until his eventual death.  Suffering that took a toll on the entire family - a toll, which my father never got over.  The other died peacefully in his sleep at age 99.  I can only imagine how different the lives of these two men were.

A doc definitely worth watching, check it out!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Crispy Rice Treats

This is a slightly modified version of Healthy Appetite with Ellie Kreiger's Crispy Rice Treats from the Food Network.

Crispy Rice Treats
Yields: 15 squares
dairy-free, egg-free, oil-free, soy-free

  • 1/2 cup Honey
  • 1/2 Almond Butter
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 1 - 5oz bag of Craisins (flavor of choice)
  • 6 cups Whole Grain Brown Rice Krispies

  1. Prep 9 X 13 Pan: Spray with cooking spray & wipe with paper towel to minimize oil
  2. Over medium-low heat, melt together, Honey & Almond Butter, then stir in Salt
  3. Add Craisins & Rice and stir to coat
  4. Press down into pan & chill in refrigerator until set (about 30 minutes)
  5. Cut & Enjoy!

My 2 Cents: I recall making rice krispy treats as a kid and they were a bitch!  Getting the rice krispies coated and combined before the marshmallow set-up was a real pain in the ass and forget clean-up!  These are much, much easier to make, healthier for you and clean-up is a breeze!  Consider these for your next party!

What I Modified:
  1. I used Almond Butter instead of Peanut Butter, because I have a peanut allergy.
  2. I added Salt for flavoring.
  3. I used a full bag of Craisins instead of dried cherries, no need to chop.
  4. I only use oil if I absolutely have to and when I do, I try to use as little as possible, hence the wiping of the pan with the paper towel.  Oil is nothing but concentrated fat and calories - you don't need it!

Super Quick Oatmeal

Super Quick Oatmeal
Serves: 1

Mix together 1/2 Whole Cut/Steel Cut Oatmeal & 1/2 cup water into a bowl (use milk for thicker consistency).  Cover & store in frig overnight.

By morning you will have moist oatmeal that just needs flavoring and 1-2 minutes in the microwave!

P.S. Toast the oats in a pan before soaking to create a nutty taste!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Hoff Hit: Olive Oil

Olive Oil is healthy, right?


Olive Oil is concentrated fat and calories, with a very low nutrient value.  It's predominately fat, 15% of which is saturated fat (artery clogging) and one tablespoon is 120 calories!

Do you really use one tablespoon, ever?!?!

Doc: The Engine 2 Kitchen Rescue with Rip Esselstyn

Hmmm, ok - this video is more of a supplement to the book, The Engine 2 Diet, by Rip Esselstyn.  It's ok, I wish I would have waited for it to be released on Netflix, because I don't feel the need to own it after seeing it.

Basically this video follows Rip, the author, as he interacts with two separate families looking to begin The Engine 2 Diet, Rip's Plant-Strong version of his father's (Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn) Plant-Perfect diet detailed in Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease.

Rips starts by raiding the pantries of these two families and pulling out all the unhealthy food and then walks them through cooking three meals.  That's it - pretty much a glorified cooking show.  Now the book is a definite must read!

Check it out for yourself.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tommie Copper - Yes, It Works!

About two years ago, I started experiencing an issue with one of my knees.  Having it in a bent position, any position for longer than five minutes would result in it seizing up, causing me to limp around a few minutes before I was able to regain full range of motion, without pain and go about my business. 

Within the past six months, my knee took a dramatic turn and it was steadily and rapidly getting worse - to the point where I was barely able to put any weight on it after sitting for example, but I was still able to walk it out within a few minutes.  I knew I had to do something or this ailment certainly wouldn't go away (as I had hoped) and was determined to get worse.

So, it was time for me to take action.  First I implemented my chiropractor and then my acupuncturist and while their treatments did yield some relief, I was back to where I started three days later.

Then one sleepless night around 3am, I found myself fixated on an infomercial with Montel Williams touting his latest product endorsement - Tommie Copper compression sleeves.  I had never thought of a compression sleeve to alleviate my pain and this one had "copper" woven into it.

For those of you who don't know, Montel Williams was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1998 and while the disease affects people differently, Montel experiences extreme pain on a daily basis.  Montel claims to have experienced relief through the use of these compression sleeves.

So, I thought if Montel was having a positive experience, maybe this could work for me as well.  I had nothing to lose other than the $24 bucks they charge for the knee sleeve.  To fix a worsening ailment that I've struggled with daily for 2 years, $24 dollars didn't seem like a whole lot - I ordered!

I tend to push things to extremes, so as soon as my sleeve arrived; I began wearing it 24-7, even in my sleep!  After seven days, I started to forget I had a knee issue...  Then I got complacent and took the sleeve off, within three days, without warning, I launched myself out of my office chair after an hour of sitting and my knee nearly collapsed under my own body weight!  Ok, back to the compression sleeve!  Within seven days, I was back to a solid, reliable knee!

Lesson learned - I can't expect a few days of anything to repair two years of constant damage.  I don't expect to be reliant on this sleeve for the rest of my life, but I definitely need to give my body proper time to heal itself and when it's ready, it will be ready.

The sleeve itself is made of black nylon; thin enough to breathe and not be hot, but thick enough not to run like a stocking.  Aside from the elastic bands at the top and bottom of the sleeve, I barely notice that I have the sleeve on.

I can't tell if there is actual copper threading woven into the nylon.  I don't even know if that's even what's fixing me knee, the bottom line is, I don't care - after two years of pain and uncertainty, my knee is better!  I am no longer constantly obsessing over the state of my knee!

Tommie Copper has a whole slew of sleeves for whatever ails ya - elbow sleeves, ankle sleeves, calf sleeves, gloves, even a full shirt!

Aside from joint injuries, these sleeves were designed to help with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, arthritis, inflammation, muscle pain and swelling.  They aid in increasing mobility and range of motion.

Check It Out!
The Hoff

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Minimal Effort, One Pot Meal for One

This is more of a concept than a recipe.  Use what you have on hand and what you personally like.  Be adventurous!

I found myself cooking for one a few evenings ago.  I wanted a home cooked meal minus the processed foods (a typical go-to), but I didn't feel like pulling out the cutting boards and pots and I certainly didn't want to do any dishes.  So I thought about it and I turned to my trusty rice cooker and freezer and wondered if I could cook rice, while cooking a variety of frozen vegetables.  I'm pleased to say that my experiment was a success!

To get started pour in one cup of rice and two cups of water or vegetable broth into the rice cooker as the foundation of your meal.  Next, add any combination of frozen vegetables.  I had succotash, cauliflower and collard greens on hand.  Next, stir in seasonings.  I was going for an Asian Stir-Fry, so I added Bragg Liquid Aminos (soy sauce), ground ginger, kelp or sea salt and a bit of lime juice.  I set the rice cooker to "cook" and while it seemed to take longer than cooking just rice, everything turned out perfect!

This could easily be doubled for a meal for two or for leftover lunch the next day.  Depending on how big your rice cooker is, you could have a healthy, easy meal for the whole fam!

Keep it Healthy!
The Hoff

Monday, December 26, 2011

The Magic of Molasses!

Molasses is a stellar sweetener that unlike refined sugars retains significant amounts of a variety of beneficial nutrients such as copper, calcium, magnesium and manganese with very few calories.  One tablespoon provides up to 20% of the daily value of each of those nutrients.  It's also a good source of selenium and B6.

How is Blackstrap molasses made?

Blackstrap molasses is the result of boiling sugar syrup three times.  It's the concentrated byproduct left over after the crystallization of sugar's sucrose.

Why do you want to add Molasses to your diet?

When I first started researching Molasses, I learned that it had the ability to change gray hair (at the root) back to it's original color.  That was enough for me.

I can't speak from personal experience if this works - not at the stage of life yet - but I'm hoping that I never see a gray hair as a result of my Molasses consumption (fingers crossed).

Aside from vanity, molasses really is good for you - full of vitamins and minerals.

So what else?

Molasses is SUPER high in potassium, one tablespoon has 730 mg!  Next to bananas, Molasses is an excellent source for potassium.  Suffer from leg cramps?  That's a potential sign of a potassium deficiency.

Blackstrap molasses can also be used as an iron supplement for those sensitive to iron supplements or wishing to holistically overcome anemia.  One tablespoon provides up to 15% of the recommended daily amount.

How do I use Molasses?

I take one teaspoon in a cup of coffee.  It gives the coffee a nice earthy foundation, it's a little hard to articulate, but it makes the coffee feel decadent and now coffee just isn't the same without it.

Molasses is also a key ingredient in gingerbread cookies (a personal favorite) and baked beans.

Add it to hot cereals, pancakes, waffles, even smoothies.

Try it as a mineral tonic by mixing 1-2 tablespoons of molasses with one glass of warm water.

You can even add molasses to the soil of almost any plant to promote microbial activity.

What kind of Molasses do you want?

Unsulphured Blackstrap Molasses - best to get organic due to the defoliant chemicals used to make harvesting the sugar cane easier with non-organic molasses.  Avoid sulfur molasses as this is an unhealthy chemical additive used as a preservative that you don't need.

Wholesome Sweeteners makes a nice Organic Unsulphured Molasses at a reasonable price.

Try it!
The Hoff

Friday, December 23, 2011

Hoff Hit: Browning Fruit

We all know the trick of using the juice of a lemon or lime to prevent cut fruit from browning.  But, did you know that the juice of an orange has the same effect without the bitterness?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

When Good Beauty Goes Bad...

We all do it - hang onto cosmetics way past their prime.  Follow these tips and timelines to keep your beauty routine from turning on you.

Write the date you open a product on the actual container (sealed products can last a few years), using a piece of tape if necessary and then follow these product life expectancies:

Face Cream: 6 months
Mascara: 6 months
Liquid Foundation: 6 - 8 months
Concealer: 1 year
Powder Foundations: 1 year
Nail Polish: 1 year
Lip Color: 1-2 years
Pencil Eye Liner: 3 years
Eye Shadow: 3 years

Print this page and keep it in your bathroom (like the inside of your medicine cabinet).

Happy Purging!
The Hoff

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Famous Vegetarians & Vegans!

Plato - Vegan
I am fascinated by all the significant, historical figures (celebs are cool, too) who chose to go either vegetarian or vegan way back in the day.

What did they know - what drove their decision - health or animal welfare?  

Probably safe to say that Thomas Edison would have been an animal rights activist...

"Non-violence leads to the highest ethics, which is the goal of all evolution. Until we stop harming all other living beings, we are still savages." - Thomas Edison

Einstein - may have been in both camps...

"Although I have been prevented by outward circumstances from observing a strictly vegetarian diet, I have long been an adherent to the cause in principle. Besides agreeing with the aims of vegetarianism for aesthetic and moral reasons, it is my view that a vegetarian manner of living by its purely physical effect on the human temperament would most beneficially influence the lot of mankind." - Albert Einstein

Check Out More Famous Veggies!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Olive Tap

If you're a fan (or patient) of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, then you've heard of The Olive Tap - if not, allow me to enlighten you!

The Olive Tap is a neat little shop in downtown Medina, Ohio (Kmart Shopping Plaza); actually there are five locations, but only one in Ohio. 

As the name suggestions, The Olive Tap specializes in a variety of fresh, artisan Extra Virgin Olive Oils from around the world, but that's not why I think this shop is so great.

I go there for their fresh, artisan Balsamic Vinegars from around the world!

Dr. Esselstyn says that greens (kale, spinach, bok choy, etc.) are essential for good health and need to be eaten daily.  Only problem is, I don't like them!  Ok, I have alleviated this problem to a degree by incorporating wraps into my daily routine, but Esselstyn wants you to eat greens at every meal - ugh!  Esselstyn knows what time it is and that greens don't have a strong fan base.  So, he tells his patients to use flavored balsamic vinegars to make the greens more appealing; which this shop just happens to specialize in and Esselstyn is a frequent patron of.

By the way, I found out that Esselstyn's favorite vinegar is Aceto Balsamico di Modena (not bad!).

Now I am even a less of a fan of vinegar than I am of greens, so I knew I had to taste test before buying, which this shop encourages!  In fact, the staff is so super friendly and knowledgeable - all I had to do was mention Esselstyn's name and they knew exactly why I was there.  I explained that I didn't like traditional balsamic, but that I did like fruit and I was directed towards a Strawberry Balsamic and Mango Passion Fruit among others!  They even have a Dark Chocolate vinegar (pair that with some fruit)! 

I even learned that there are thicker, almost sauce-like vinegars, kinda cool!

And the best part!  

While they do sell typical large, about 12.68 oz bottles, they offer a set of 4, 3.4 oz bottles for $25 of the flavor(s) of your choice - the bottles are made up on the spot!  My plan is to keep trying all the sample bottles to discover my ultimate fav!

These cute little bottles would make a perfect gift and as a little bit of vinegar goes a long way, I predict my set is going to last me a few months and I use them daily!

The Olive Tap, Medina
1077 North Court St.
Medina, OH 44256
(330) 721-6500

Check them out or shop online!
The Hoff

P.S. They have a newsletter!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Just the Stats, Man!

So you've seen the doctor, had the blood tests and have been inundated with a bunch of numbers - now what?  Are they good, bad or what?

Well, if you gauge yourself by the mainstream medical averages, you could be in trouble.  In a culture where everyone knows someone with Heart Disease, Cancer, Diabetes, etc. do you really want to be average?

To avoid the diseases that plague our rich western culture, these are the numbers you want to aim for:

Blood Pressure: 110/70
Total Cholesterol: Under 150
LDL Cholesterol: Under 80
HDL Cholesterol: Men >40, Women >50
Triglycerides: Under 150
Fasting Glucose: 60 - 100
*BMI: Under 20% for men, Under 25% for women
B12 Levels: Over 200 pg/ml
Vitamin D: 20-30 ng/ml

These are the real numbers you want in order to avoid Heart Disease, Cancer, Diabetes and other diseases of affluence (aka: eating ourselves to death).

*Keep in mind that BMI (body mass index) is a ratio derived from your height and weight and therefore does not take into consideration muscle which weights more than fat.  Therefore a very fit person with a high percentage of muscle would "appear" overweight or obese when in fact their weight is in the healthy range.

Beat the Average!
The Hoff

The McDougall Program: 12 Days to Dynamic Health by John A. McDougall, M.D.
Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., M.D. 
The Engine 2 Diet by Rip Esselstyn

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Chickpea Magazine Has Arrived!

Chickpea Magazine has just launched it's first online and print addition!

What can I say about it....

It's goooooooorrrrrgeous!

Full-out photographs, artistic in design and layout and NO advertising!  It's also chock full of interesting vegan articles and recipes that the average Joe can actually make!

While Bob and Cara are the brainchilds behind Chickpea, they collect submissions from the vegan community from around the world - from photos to articles to recipes and more in order to create it.  Making this a truly unique and community-supported venture.

You'll have to view their Fall 2011 edition here, because the paper version of the Fall edition is sold out!  Pity, it really is exquisite.

This vegan, lifestyle quarterly magazine will drop it's winter addition in mid-to-late December.  If you want to get your hands on a print edition, visit the Cara's Etsy Shop!

Check out the "Backers" page and you'll find The Healthy Hoff as one of the financial contributors (I do what I can)!

Happy Reading!
The Hoff

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Buy, Sell or Trade Ohio Produce!

Is your garden overgrown with tomatoes?  Are you looking for fresh, green peppers in October?  Do you want to trade your honey for someone's black walnuts?

"Like" Whole Life - Ohio on Facebook and you will be a few keyboard strokes away from networking with Northwest Ohio farmers and gardeners!

Whole Life - Ohio is all about cutting out the middleman and bringing producers and consumers together!

Interested in learning more?  

Hit Loni up at for more info!

Support Local!
The Hoff

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Very Vegan Christmas Gift!

Have a special vegan in your life with a sweet tooth?

Check out Allison's Gourmet - an all vegan, organic bakery, confectionary, & gift shop!

Really, really like this special person?

Sign them up for Allison's Monthly Cookie, Brownie or Fudge club!

Yes, this stuff is a little pricey.  But I have been pricing vegan goodies for my holiday festivities and it is inline with what everyone else in this market is charging.  Law of supply and demand...we need to generate more demand to lower the costs!

The Hoff

Monday, December 12, 2011

Healthy Hoff Hits The Funny Papers!

The Healthy Hoff is guest starring in the latest installment of Ink LaRue, an online comic created by Unka John, an all-around cool cat!

These hips don't lie.

Check Me Out!
The Hoff

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Vegan Cooking Class: Great Success!

Chef Robin & The Healthy Hoff!
Start with a unique concept, add one dynamic and knowledgeable Chef, mix in a great group of enthusiastic and eager folks, and you get an awesome learning experience for all!

Last night we had a great turn out for The Healthy Hoff's Vegan Cooking Class!  Under the guidance of Chef Robin of Cooking with C.A.R.E. a group of us learned to cook an entire vegan meal, not using an ounce of oil.


We learned a lot, but here are some highlights: 

  • oil really isn't always necessary for cooking after all
  • don't crowd your pan!
  • roll your lime to get the most juice
  • don't stir your rice/quinoa while cooking
  • keep fingers curled while chopping so you don't lose one
  • how to peel a pepper
  • hunt down Kevin of SpiceHound at local farmer's markets for great, quality spices

We spent the evening making black bean burgers, butternut squash soup, quinoa, salsa and caramelized pears as a team.  We each took turns peeling, chopping, mixing, laughing (a lot) and overall, creating from scratch!  At the end we all sat down to enjoy the fantastic feast of our hard work and got to know one another.

The evening was topped off with Organic Raspberry Vegan Truffles from Cinnamon is Good For You, a testament that healthier treats are possible!

I thank you all, who came out, partook and helped me realize my vision for my very first Healthy Hoff event!

Special thanks to Chef Robin for all her efforts and for being such an excellent teacher.

I enjoyed meeting new faces and catching up with friends.  I hope all of you learned something new, enjoyed being a vegan (if only for one night) and overall, had fun!

The Hoff

Saturday, December 10, 2011

You Know You’re A Vegan When…

Repost Courtesy of Glenn Osrin, Miami Vegan Examiner, December 5, 2011

You Know You’re A Vegan When…

You can eat a vegan cupcake without gagging from the slight aftertaste a baked good can have that doesn’t have milk, eggs, or butter in it.

You get excited when you find meatless protein sources like Gardein chicken tenders that don’t taste like flavored soy but actually taste GOOD.

You plan ahead and pack your own meals and snacks when heading into hostile territory: a family gathering with carnivores who won’t think twice about whether or not ‘your food’ is present in abundance.

You don’t miss the pizza, chicken wings, oso bucco, spare ribs, corned beef, fried chicken, and all manner of culturally conditioned and factory-farmed garbage that you used to swill down with impunity.

You start explaining the ecological, environmental, spiritual, and physiological benefits of veganism to people who ask you about it.

You start bonding with tofu instead of dreading it as the cube of moon paste that doesn’t ever taste like anything unless and until you season the hell out of it.

You get giddy like a child meeting a movie star whenever you pass by a farmer’s market or a favorite specialty store or Whole Foods Market.

You enjoy the challenge of going to mainstream restaurants like Macaroni Grill or Bahama Breeze where you proceed to torture the server with the dietary zinger, “So I’m a vegan. Do you have anything for VEGANS?”

You go to the doctor two weeks after you started the vegan lifestyle and he wants to know what it is you are doing differently because all of your blood work-up numbers are vastly improved.

You start watching movies at home like “SuperSize Me”, “Food, Inc.” and “Forks Over Knives” and actually pay attention to, and enjoy them.

You catch yourself figuring out the light-bulb moment when you realize that being vegan doesn’t just mean with food, but with apparel and accessories produced from animal fur or as a result of animal suffering.

You begin identifying with famous vegans like Bill Clinton, Alicia Silverstone, Ellen DeGeneres, Portia DeRossi, Johnny Depp, Natalie Portman and Russell Simmons and look to them for inspiration and motivation.

You get through a Thanksgiving without missing the turkey and sausage stuffing and a latin Christmas with no longing for the sweet ham or garlic-basted pork and are content to munch on a celebration roast and yucca with black beans and rice and a salad.

You realize people are coming to social gatherings at your house and bringing you vegan fare especially for you!

You look forward to the questions “You’re what?” and “You eat THAT?!”

You sit by the curb like a forlorn dog waiting for its’ master waiting for your new copy of VegNews to be delivered.

You wake up one morning and it is as easy and natural and right as the sustaining breath of life that flows through your lungs, seemingly effortlessly and without thought or preoccupation.

You go the cupboard or refrigerator and instinctively look for the foods you can eat and not the ones you used to eat.

You share the vegan lifestyle message with anyone who is interested to learn about it passionately but without prejudice.

You proudly greet each new day knowing you are going to make a difference and set your head down on your pillow at night easily, peaceful at having left the world better than you found it when you woke up.

To view the entire article, click here.

Repost Courtesy of Glenn Osrin, Miami Vegan Examiner, December 5, 2011

Friday, December 9, 2011

Hoff Hit: Holiday Weight Gain

The average person gains 1-5 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Years.  While that may not sound like a lot, the problem is that most people never lose that weight - do that every year and it adds up!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Why Did Steve Jobs Die?

How is it that one of the richest men in the world, with any resource at his disposal was unable to beat cancer?

This question has been hunting me since Steve Jobs' death of pancreatic cancer on October 5, 2011.

John McDougall MD explores this question and offers an insight as to what happened in his article, Why Did Steve Jobs Die?

It is a very thought provoking and eye opening article on many fronts.

"One of Jobs’ greatest regrets when he found out he had incurable cancer was that he had refused to have surgery for 9 months after being diagnosed. He believed he might have been cured if he had acted earlier. Since he was in his mid-twenties when the cancer spread throughout his body, removing his CAT-scan-detected cancer in October of 2003 would never have cured him."

Click here to read the article in its entirety.

The Hoff

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Healthy Hoff, an Our Ohio Cultivator!!!

The Healthy Hoff, along with some other very cool Ohioans has been selected to be an "Our Ohio Cultivator!"

As an Ohio Cultivator, I will get to help "develop new programs, provide insight to engage meaningful conversations and ultimately cultivate a strong passion to support local foods within our communities."

I'm not exactly sure what all my Cultivator duties will include, but I have a feeling that the next year is going to be pretty interesting!

I am very honored to have been chosen and look forward sharing all the cool things going on across Ohio!

The Hoff

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Last Day to Register for Cooking Class!

Last Day To Register!
Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What: Vegan Cooking Class conducted by Chef Robin + Healthy Hoff Limited Edition T-shirt
When: Saturday 12.10.2011
Where: West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church, 20401 Hilliard Blvd. Rocky River, Ohio 44116
Time: 3:00pm - 6:00pm
Cost: $45 per person (compared to area classes, this is a bargain!)

Deadline: Register and pay by Wednesday, 12.7.2011 (otherwise, no food for you!)

Click here to Register & Pay
(scroll to bottom of the Cooking with C.A.R.E. page and look for "Buy a Cooking Lesson")

In an effort to keep costs low, please bring a cutting board, apron and your favorite chopping knife.

Questions?  Contact me at

Monday, December 5, 2011

New Website Alert! Spencer's Market

Launching just in time for the holidays is a cool new site that offers personalized vegan food specials!

When you register with Spencer's Market (for free), you will be asked a series of questions, so your daily email offers are specific to your wants & needs: vegan, vegetarian, kosher, soy-free, nut-free, etc.

Products will be supplied from a combination of local, artisanal producers and commercial brands that fit the Spencer "natural-food-only policy."

Plus your offers will be at a nice discount - up to 70% off the retail price!

It's like having your own personal shopper!

Check it Out!
The Hoff

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Time Is Running Out To Register for Vegan Cooking Class!

3 Days & Counting!  
Deadline To Register is
Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What: Vegan Cooking Class conducted by Chef Robin + Healthy Hoff Limited Edition T-shirt
When: Saturday 12.10.2011
Where: West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church, 20401 Hilliard Blvd. Rocky River, Ohio 44116
Time: 3:00pm - 6:00pm
Cost: $45 per person (compared to area classes, this is a bargain!)

Deadline: Register and pay by Wednesday, 12.7.2011 (otherwise, no food for you!)

Click here to Register & Pay
(scroll to bottom of the Cooking with C.A.R.E. page and look for "Buy a Cooking Lesson")

In an effort to keep costs low, please bring a cutting board, apron and your favorite chopping knife.

Questions?  Contact me at

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Get Those Greens In!

Recently I had my diet accessed by an outside party to determine where I could make improvements. You would think that as a practicing Vegan, I would have it all figured out and have the perfect diet.

Not entirely...

For one, you don't know what you don't know and secondly, the obvious can be illusive sometimes. Have you ever heard of a "junk food" Vegetarian?  These types of people substitute chips, crackers, cookies, etc. for meat, but more often they don't even realize that's what they are doing.  I fell into this trap once upon a time too.

The plan...

I found a dietary expert who was open to my way of eating: Vegan & oil-free, kept a 2-week diary of every single thing I ate and drank and then met for a one-on-one consultation.

The results...

While, I had worked out everything in my diet that was bad, I kinda left out some valuable foods. In particularly, greens (kale, spinach, romaine, etc.) were virtually non-existent.  And that's a problem, because greens are a powerhouse in the plant world and by not including them I wasn't eating a well-balanced Vegan diet or getting valuable micronutrients.

But how could this be?!?!

Simple, I hate salad!  As a Vegetarian I could scoff them down with the aid of cheese, croutons and creamy dressings, but as a Vegan those items were off the table and soon so were the salads.

The solution!

While I may hate salads, I love wraps!  So, now I just make a "salad" using romaine or a spring mix or both and throw it in a wrap - problem solved!  And the dressing issue, it doesn't seem so weird to use mustard (my all-time fav condiment) in a wrap.  But I have found that hummus is also très yummy!  I also include kale in my morning smoothies, sautee up spinach for dinner and throw frozen collard or turnip greens into soups.

Bring It On Greens!
The Hoff

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Happy Belly Bags

Happy Belly Bags, creates fun, organic gift bags designed for those with food allergies or specific dietary preferences such as vegan, kosher, gluten free, nut free, soy free - anything you can think of.  And if they don't have a bag for what you need, you can build-you-own!

Perfect for that special someone in your life for the holidays!

Happy Shopping!
The Hoff

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Less Than One Week to Register for Vegan Cooking Class!

There is still time to sign-up for this event, but the deadline is quickly approaching, Wednesday, December 7, 2011. 

What: Vegan Cooking Class conducted by Chef Robin + Healthy Hoff Limited Edition T-shirt
When: Saturday 12.10.2011
Where: West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church, 20401 Hilliard Blvd. Rocky River, Ohio 44116
Time: 3:00pm - 6:00pm
Cost: $45 per person (compared to area classes, this is a bargain!)

Deadline: You must register and pay by Wednesday, 12.7.2011 (otherwise, no food for you!)

Click here to Register & Pay
(scroll to bottom of the Cooking with C.A.R.E. page and look for "Buy a Cooking Lesson")

In an effort to keep costs low, please bring a cutting board, apron and your favorite chopping knife.

Questions?  Contact me at

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

What Do Those Produce Stickers Tell Us?

Besides being difficult to remove at times, those little stickers on fruits and vegetables give us a useful heads up!

More than just what country the food came from, those produce stickers also have the Product Code and this indicates how the food was grown.  With the Product Code, it's the first number that counts, here's what to look for.

Product Code (starts with):

3 - Conventionally grown
4 - Conventionally grown
9 - Organically grown
8 - Genetically modified (avoid!)

And did you know those little stickers are edible?  Not that you want to chow down on them, just don't panic if you inhale one along with your apple.

So remember, 9 is fine & hate the 8!

Shop Smart!
The Hoff

Monday, November 28, 2011

Wellness Forum's 15th Annual Conference Highlights

Recently, I attended the Wellness Forum's 15th Annual Conference in Columbus, Ohio.  It was quite a 3-day event, full of dynamic speakers, tons of healthy info and great people.

It was so comforting to be surrounded by 300+ people all striving towards a vegetarian or vegan, oil-free diet.  Not a single person asked my why I eat the way that I do and we spent our time instead swapping recipes and tips and tricks on navigating a carnivore's world.

I took lots and lots of notes and here is what I found most interesting...

The Hoff

Wellness Forum's 15th Annual Conference Highlights
November 11 - 13, 2011

Friday - November 11, 2011

Dr. Janice Stanger, Ph.D.
"Top Nutrition Myths"

  • Myth: A little bit can't hurt.   
Fact: Actually, it can!  Inflammation is the cause of many health issues and by eating just a little of something, you continue that inflammation, thus preventing the body from healing itself.
  • Myth: We need a special source of protein.   
Fact: Animal protein is a hyper concentration of protein.  Too much protein can be toxic.  As we only require 10% of our daily calories to be derived from protein, that can be easily obtained through plants.  Animals obtain their protein from the plants that they eat - eat plants instead and cut out the middleman.
  • Myth: Soy is the source of most dietary estrogen.   
Fact: Dairy is the number one source of estrogen, which fuels reproductive cancers.
  • Myth: Cows milk is the best source of calcium.   
Fact: Calcium is a mineral, cows get their calcium from eating grass - eat plants instead and cut out the middleman(cow).
  • Myth: Calcium makes bones strong.   
Fact: Calcium has little effect on fracture risk.  As calcium is a brittle mineral (like chalk), rely on weight bearing exercises to increase bone density.  Too much calcium can be toxic and result in kidney stones.
    "Take matters into your own hands to improve your health." 

    Gene Baur
    Farm Sanctuary
    • Farm animals are specifically exempt from the Animal Welfare Act
    • In order for a cow to give milk, it must be pregnant - female cows are kept pregnant, having a calf once a year until death (dairy cow average life span is 3-4 years, cows can live up to 20 years).  Calves are separated from the mother at birth to prevent nursing and thus lowering milk production.
    • "Downed animals" (animals that cannot get up and walk) can be sold for human consumption and therefore are not euthenized or treated.  Cows are now excluded as a result of the mad cow disease outbreak.
    • "Farm Sanctuary works to protect farm animals from cruelty, inspire change in the way society views and treats farm animals, and promote compassionate vegan living."
    • Visit the Farm Sanctuary Bed & Breakfast for a truly inspiring weekend get-away!
      When traveling, ask the hotel for a list of vegan/vegetarian restaurants in the area.

      Saturday - November 12, 2011

      Dr. Janice Stanger, Ph.D.
      "Its Toxic Out There"
      • Our biggest danger is being oblivious.
      • No one knows the impact of the radiation from tests (cat scans, dental x-rays, etc.).
      • Coal releases mercury, making grilling toxic.
      • Fiber removes toxins from the body, while antioxidants fight damage caused by free radicals
      • "Natural" means nothing, look for "USDA Certified Organic."
      • Insecticides hurt the nervous system.
        "If God made it, eat it.  If man made it, don't eat it." - Jack LaLanne

        Dr. Janice Stanger, Ph.D.
        "Why Fasting is Bad"

        Yes, fasting facilitates detoxing, but the chemicals that are stored in fat are released into the bloodstream and do not leave the body.  As chemicals have a half life of 17 years (average), meaning they will be active in the body for quite some time, they can become more harmful during fasting as you are not getting the phytochemicals from food that protect your system against the chemicals, leaving yourself vulnerable during a fast.

        No medical schools in the U.S. requires nutrition as part of their curriculum.

        Chef AJ
        Chef AJ
        • Keep sugar at 5% of your daily calories
        • Agave is 90% fructose, best to avoid
        • Cacao power is very high in antioxidants and has no saturated fat
        • Walnuts are the healthiest nut to eat
        • Sugar is more addictive than cocaine
        • Dates are a great sugar substitute - "nature's candy"

        Decadent Chocolate Mousse
        • 2 boxes (12.2 oz each) silken tofu - extra firm
        • 1 bag (10 oz) Sunspire Grain Sweetened dairy-free chocolate chips
        • 1 cup date syrup
        • 1 cup raw cacao powder
        • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
        • 1 tbsp alcohol-free vanilla extract
        • raw cacao nibs, for garnish
        1. In a nonstick pan over low heat, melt the chips with the date syrup, stirring so it won't scorch.
        2. Place the rest of the ingredients, except for the nibs, in a food processor fitted with the "S" blade and process.
        3. Add the melted chocolate mixture and process until smooth and creamy, scrapping down sides occasionally.
        4. Pour into individual bowls or glasses and garnish with nibs.
        5. Chill until firm.
         The body always strives for homeostasis - health.

        Dr. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr., MD
        "Treating the Cause to Prevent & Reverse Heart Disease"
        Dr. Esselstyn
        • Heart disease is a foodborne illness.
        • Kids have heart disease by the time they graduate from high school.
        • Stay away from fructose and caffeinated coffee.
        • The famed Mediterranean Study, that touted the health benefits of olive oil ended with 25% of the participants experiencing either a heart attack, stroke or death - compared to .5% of those who follow a whole food, planted based diet.
        • Erectile dysfunction is the first sign of heart disease.
        • Calcium loss is due to high acidity in the body.

         "The fat you eat, is the fat you wear." - Caldwell Esselstyn

        Ann Esselstyn
        "Cooking the Plant Perfect Way"
        Ann Esselstyn
        • Drink water predominately.
        • Avoid sugar, salt and oil.
        • Substitute apple sauce for oil when baking.
        • Hummus makes a good salad dressing.
        • Add flavored balsamic vinegar to cooked greens to make them taste better.
        • Use baby romaine leaves as a scoop for hummus.
        • Add nutritional yeast to mashed yukon potatoes for a buttery taste

        Sunday - November 13, 2011

        Dr. Ralph Moss, Ph.D.
        "Integrative or CAM Cancer Clinics Around the World" 

        Dr. Ralph Moss
        • CAM - Complimentary Alternative Medicine
        • Combine complimentary and alternative medicine for the best results.
        • Main CAM Treatment Countries: Germany (#1), Mexico & Caribbean, United States (especially West Coast), China & Israel.
        • Joan Bull, MD from the University of Texas is working with low dose chemotherapy paired with whole body hypothermia (emerging treatment from Germany)
        • Pine Street Clinic in San Anselmo, California is a top CAM practice
        • Cancer cells thrive & grow on glucose 17 times the rate of a normal cell, therefore, sugar feeds cancer.                                   


        Never stop learning.

          Sunday, November 27, 2011

          My Vegan Night at Wild Ginger

          Tonight was date night and I just had the most excellent vegan meal for two at Wild Ginger China Bistro, in Brooklyn, Ohio.

          I have been at this restaurant many times for lunch, but never for dinner.  The ambiance and mood take a dramatic shift for the night: dimmed lighting, soft, soothing oriental music and nothing but couples also having, "date night."  Very relaxing and romantic - this place may become one of my favorite restaurants!

          I was very excited, because I got to order for the two of us and anyone who knows me, knows that I love variety in a meal!  I did my usual homework, checking the online menu, in order to formulate a game plan and make sure that the restaurant had some vegan options.

          The meal started with an appetizer order of Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps - diced tofu & vegetables quickly wok tossed and served with cool lettuce wraps (I like mine with that sweet & sour orange sauce, typically served with vegetable rolls).  I love the crispness of the iceberg lettuce and the yummy tofu filling.

          Next, an order of the Veggie Maki Combo - a combination of the California Veggie (avocado, cucumber, asparagus) and the Veggie (carrots, cucumber, asparagus, red bell peppers) Maki Rolls.  A touch of soy sauce and a slice of marinated ginger make these vegan sushi rolls out of sight!

          Main course time!

          An order of the Vegetarian Pad Thai - fresh mixed vegetables sautéed with rice noodles, egg, bean sprouts, tofu, red & green peppers, and onions topped with roasted peanuts - hold the peanuts and egg.  So delicious!

          Of course, no Chinese meal would be complete without a nice hot cup of tea, white ginger tea in my case.

          That's it!  One appetizer, one order of sushi and one main entree turned out to be just the right amount of food for us to share.  We were filled to the point of satisfaction, but not stuffed to the point of immobility.  I'm actually glad that the side order of steamed broccoli never appeared - I think that would have pushed us over the edge.  I left the restaurant happy that I had just consumed a relatively healthy meal, full of veggies and avoided all the indulgences that would have made me hate myself in the morning.

          And true to form, I am hungry a mere hour later...sigh.  Since Wild Ginger does not have a vegan dessert option, my evening has been topped off with a slice of homemade vegan pumpkin pie.  Not exactly Chinese cuisine, but it hit the spot!

          And is it me or are the fortunes in the fortune cookies sounding less and less fortuney (in bed)?

          Gan bei!
          The Hoff

          Saturday, November 26, 2011

          Doc: King Corn

          This is a cool little film in which two guys from Boston, Ian & Curt document their journey following the life cycle of corn.

          They did this after genetic testing on their hair revealed that they were predominately made of corn, a rather disturbing concept.  That and the startling new statistic that Generation Z (kids born in 2000 and later) is predicted to be the first generation not to outlive their parents due to poor diet. 

          King Corn starts in Iowa, where Ian & Curt travel to plant one acre of corn, to see where it goes from there.  Lots of interesting facts are revealed about agribusiness, feed lots and how predominate corn is in our lives.

          Check out the full movie online! 

          Check out the trailer!

          Friday, November 25, 2011

          Bean Sprouts!

          My latest obsession involves Bean Sprouts, Mung Bean Sprout that is.  Don't ask me why.  I appreciate their ability to retain their crisp, crunchiness no longer how long they are cooked. And they don't even need to be cooked, but to release their protein, cooking is required.

          Identifying Mung Bean Sprouts

          These sprouts have small light yellow leaves and a silvery white shoot. Supposedly, these sprouts produce a subtle nutty flavor, although I don't detect any flavor.

          What is a sprout?

          A sprout it is a vegetable seed that just begins growing. Sprouts grow from the seeds of vegetables, grains, and various beans - they are the first edible shoots.

          You probably are most familiar of these little guys from Chinese cooking or have seen them on salad bars.

          Are they good for me?

          Yes!  Bean Sprouts are high in protein, vitamin C and folacin and for you calorie counters, 1 cup is a mere 26 calories.

          What do they taste like?

          To me, Mung Bean Sprouts don't really taste like anything - a delicate hint of sweetness at best.  I use them manly for the texture they add to dishes.  They have a clean, crisp crunch that I really enjoy.

          How do I store my sprouts?

          Even though Mung Bean Sprouts are the hardiest sprout there is, it fades quickly.  Usually lasting 2-3 days.  Keep in a plastic bag and store in the crisper.  I have been able to extend a full week with this method.  You can also try rinsing daily with cold water to extend their life.  If your intention is to cook with them, Mung Bean Sprouts can be frozen.  Once they appear brown and mushy, toss'em.

          Mung Bean Sprouts have been linked to incidences of foodborne illnesses such as Salmonella in the U.S., so be sure to wash before using and if you're really concerned, don't consume raw.

          So what to do with these little guys?
          • Stir-fries
          • Stews
          • Spring Rolls
          • Rice dish
          • Saute with onions and serve as a side
          • Raw in salad, coleslaw or potato salad
          • Add to sandwich or wrap
          • Add to broth based soups
          • Add to baked beans
          • Try in smoothies or juices

          Give the Sprout a Shot!
          The Hoff

          Wednesday, November 23, 2011

          What is Bragg Liquid Aminos?

          I use this stuff almost daily, I am addicted to its salty, soy sauce flavor.  Since, many of  The Hoff's recipes use Bragg Liquid Aminos, I figured it was about time to actually say something about this "Hoffssential" cooking ingredient.

          This stuff has been around since 1912, yet I seldom ever hear about it.  In fact, I can't even remember how I stumbled upon it.

          Bragg's is a Certified NON-GMO liquid protein concentrate, derived from soybeans, that contains the following 16 Essential and Non-essential Amino Acids in naturally occurring amounts:

          • Alanine
          • Arginine
          • Aspartic Acid
          • Glutamic Acid
          • Glycine
          • Histidine
          • Isoleucine
          • Leucine 
          • Methionine
          • Phenylalanine
          • Proline
          • Serine
          • Threonine
          • Tyrosine
          • Valine
          • Lysine 

          So what.

          Great, Bragg's has 16 amino acids in it, what the hell does that mean? Ok, here it goes as I understand it...

          Amino acids are the building blocks of protein and by extension our organs and tissues.  They also contribute to metabolism.

          There are 20 total amino acids and we can produce 10 of them ourselves, leaving the other half to be gotten through food.  Bragg's provides 9 aminos that we cannot produce ourselves.

          Since we don't store aminos, we need to have a steady supply of them or risk losing muscle and our body's ability to grow and repair itself.

          So, I need Bragg's to get aminos?

          No, use Bragg's merely as a condiment and nothing more.  As plants are able to make all 20 amino acids, a vegan/vegetarian diet has you covered.

          What's in it?

          Bragg's gets huge Healthy Hoff Approval for containing only 2 ingredients: vegetable protein from soybeans and purified water - not bad huh?!?

          While this stuff is much lower in sodium than soy sauce, it does contain some natural salts and if that is of concern, can be toned down with a little water.

          What's not in it?
          • no chemicals
          • no artificial coloring
          • no alcohol
          • no preservatives
          • no Gluten 
          • no calories
          • no fat

          What to do with it?

          Like I said, I use this stuff in replace of soy sauce, but I also use it as a salt enhancer to anything that I feel needs a flavor kick.  It also goes great with salad, soup, over veggies, potatoes, tofu, rice, even popcorn.

          Where to put it?

          Bragg's does not require refrigeration and as long as it's kept out of direct sunlight and in a cool location, will last between 3-5 years.  But I highly doubt you will ever have a bottle that long.

          I want some!

          I'm pretty sure you can get this stuff in the grocery store or a health food store, I just have no clue where to begin looking.  So, I stock-up online with a generous 32 oz. bottle that will go quicker than you think, for a unbelievable price of $5.50 - worth every penny and then some!

          Happy Seasoning!
          The Hoff

            Tuesday, November 22, 2011

            Event: Natrual Approaches For Autism & ADHD

            Dr. Tamara Macdonald, ND, Lac, Naturopathic Physician from Northcoast Natural Health will give a presentation on diet and nutrition for children with ADHD/Autism Spectrum.

            What: Natrual Approaches For Autism & ADHD
            Where: Brunswick Community Library: 3649 Center Road  Brunswick, OH 44212
            (Sycamore Room)
            When: Thursday, December 1, 2011
            Time: 6:30pm - 8:00pm
            Cost: Free

            Please RSVP by November 28, 2011 by calling 1.330.273.0533

            Contact the Parent Mentor Office* at Brunswick High School 1.330.273.0533 with any questions.

            *This is not a Brunswick City Schools sponsored event.

            Monday, November 21, 2011

            Move over Subway, Chop It Salad Co. Has Arrived!

            So I'm at Southpark Mall the other day, watching Breaking Dawn for the second time in two days (don't judge me) and I stumble across a new place in the food court, Chop It Salad Co. 

            Not being a big fan of salads, I approached skeptically.

            To my surprise & delight, Chop It makes to order salads AND wraps using a large array of fresh ingredients, much like Subway, but on steroids (50+ toppings, 30+ dressings).  Like Subway, your creation is made before your eyes, but unlike Subway, they don't skimp on the ingredients!  Chop It's salads range from 3-4 pounds and you are not charged by weight and the wraps were almost as impressive as a Chipotle burrito, almost (who needs something that big anyway?!?)

            As you can imagine, with over 50 toppings, there are some pretty unique offerings: sun-dried tomatoes, avocado chunks, tofu, candied walnuts, dried cranberries, hummus, artichoke hearts and much, much more.  For you vegetarians you can choose from feta, goat cheese or plain old cheddar, among others.  And for all you carnivores, they've got the typical meats as well - making this a friendly destination for one and all!

            Staying on the healthy train, Chop It offers smoothies, soups, veggie dippers, fruit cups and an array of not so healthy sides as well...chips, brownies, muffins, etc.

            Don't want to create your own?  No worries, there are 12 signature salads/wraps to choose from: Asian Chicken, Cobb Salad, Spinach Walnut Raspberry...

            And get this!  Chop It Salad Co. is owned and operated in Cleveland, Ohio!  I would have totally thought this was a California-based company that took a wrong turn and decided to take a chance here of all places.  Chop It is also committed to purchasing from local suppliers - double bonus!


            great northern mall Now Open! Chop It Salad Co. Cafe
            ETON Chagrin Boulevard
            28699 Chagrin Blvd, Beachwood, OH 44122
            phone: 216.378.9122 - fax: 216.378.91290
            get directions
            great northern mall Southpark Mall
            500 Southpark Ctr, Strongsville, OH 44136
            phone: 440.238.5963 - fax: 440.238.5963
            get directions
            great northern mall Great Northern Mall
            4954 Great Northern Mall, North Olmsted, OH
            Phone 440.777.0864 - fax: 440.777.0925
            get directions
            beldon village mall Now Open!
            Belden Village Mall - Canton, Ohio
            Phone 330.499.2467 - fax: 330.499.2646
            get directions

            Chop It can cater your events as well!

            So, be sure to support this local start-up, so it not only can thrive and stay alive, but so it can also be a signal to other fast food joints that healthy and nutritious options are what the public wants!

            Check It Out!
            The Hoff

            Sunday, November 20, 2011

            Event: Don't Forget to Register for Cooking with The Healthy Hoff!

            There is still time to sign-up for this event, but the deadline is quickly approaching, Wednesday, December 7, 2011.

            Join The Healthy Hoff for a fun, group cooking class in which you will learn to prepare a healthy and nutritious 4-course, oil-free, Vegan meal under the guidance of professional chef, Chef Robin, owner of Cooking with C.A.R.E

            This will be a hands-on cooking class, using familiar ingredients in which you will leave with the culinary skills to create:
            • Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
            • Black Bean Burgers w/Corn Salsa
            • Confetti Quinoa
            • Caramel Pears
            All ingredients will be non-GMO and organic as available.

            Plus, you get a Limited Edition Healthy Hoff T-shirt (you know you want one)!

            What: Vegan Cooking Class conducted by Chef Robin + Healthy Hoff Limited Edition T-shirt
            When: Saturday12.10.2011
            Where: West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church, 20401 Hilliard Blvd. Rocky River, Ohio 44116
            Time: 3:00pm - 6:00pm
            Cost: $45 per person (compared to area classes, this is a bargain!)

            Deadline: You must register and pay by Wednesday, 12.7.2011 (otherwise, no food for you!)

            Click here to Register & Pay
            (scroll to bottom of the Cooking with C.A.R.E. page and look for "Buy a Cooking Lesson")

            In an effort to keep costs low, please bring a cutting board, apron and your favorite chopping knife.

            Did I mention we get to eat our creations?!?

            But I'm not Vegan.

            Who cares!  You don't need to be Vegan to enjoy this class.  Take this opportunity to learn something new, broaden your culinary skills and increase your weekly menu options.  Remember, going meatless just once a week may reduce your risk of chronic, preventable conditions such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and obesity.

            Meatless Monday!

            Check this out to see how going meatless just once a week can be beneficial!

            Want to learn more about Cooking with C.A.R.E?

            Sign-up for the Cooking with C.A.R.E newsletter or check out Chef Robin's Blog!

            Don't miss out on this one-of-a-kind opportunity!

            Questions?  Contact me at