when life gives you lemons - eat them

I've been hinting at changes I've made to my diet and today I'm finally ready to talk about them.  About 3 months ago at one of Larry's doctor appointments, the doctor decided that I needed a check up too, so right there and then he gave me one.  Blood was drawn and 2 weeks later I was back in his office to find out that my cholesterol had skyrocketed to 304!

My cholesterol has always run a little high, especially for a vegan but it has never been this high and he wanted to put me on drugs right away.  I knew I had not been taking care of myself.  My diet, while still vegan was not the healthiest.  We were spending long hours at the hospital and many times I had to eat whatever was available.  I found myself nervously munching on potato chips and candy to keep me going.  I was having 3 big cups of coffee each morning and barely getting my walks in.  I had gained 10 lbs and had round the clock indigestion.  I asked the doc to please give me 3 months to see if to give I could lower it myself and get healthier.  He agreed and last week I received my results.  I'm happy to say that my cholesterol went from 304 to 238, a full 66 points, in 10 weeks.  I also lost 10 lbs and my indigestion is completely gone.

So what did I do?  First I started researching ways to lower my cholesterol without drugs.  I also went on YouTube and found a wealth of videos (I'm linking a couple of favorites below).  I decided to keep a journal on what was working and what wasn't.  Like I said, I had terrible stomach aches and wanted them gone asap.  By recording what I was eating I could see what was causing the flare ups.

My number one task was to eliminate processed foods.  My goal was to eat food in its most natural state.  Next I knew I had to eliminate salt, oil and sugar (SOS).  Oil, especially olive oil is touted as a health food and after researching it, I realize it isn't.  The only sugar I get now is from dates and maple syrup and I eat those in very tiny amounts.  I don't add any salt to my food at all and there are some things that I buy that have trace amounts but I'm ok with that.

So here is a sample of what I'm eating these days that is healing me.

Breakfast would be overnight oats with blueberries, cinnamon, flax, almonds and homemade almond milk.

Lunch is usually a potato and a giant salad with beans and veggies.

Dinner is usually soup, salad, rice with veggies or brown rice pasta with veggies or potato tacos.

Snacks and desserts are fruits, veggies and hummus, nuts or a smoothie.

My health has improved significantly. My taste buds have adjusted to this new way of eating and food tastes so dang fresh.  I've joined a new yoga studio just around the corner from my house so that is very nice.

To simplify, I'm eating whole fresh foods that are vegan with no oil and no sugar and a tiny bit of salt.  I am not counting calories at all.  I just eat fresh foods with reckless abandon.

Here are some links if you are interested. Warning, you will fall down the rabbit hole of nutritional information.  I will begin to post recipes if you are interested.  I've come up with 2 salad dressings that I really love and are pretty versatile.


Dr. Gregor's Nutritional Facts.Org on YouTube

Well Your World YouTube

Dr. Mcdougall YouTube

There are tons of other sites too, you'll see.  xo


  1. Good job! I would love it if you would post recipes! Last year my a1c levels were high normal, just below the pre-diabetic range and after a bit of research, I revamped my diet and within 6 months had reduced my levels to into the low normal range. I basically followed a pre-diabetic diet with the emphasis on whole, fresh foods. My doctor was impressed and said she wished more people would make the effort to stay off medication. In recent months I've slipped back into eating more processed foods and I need to get back on track!

  2. Hi Janet, well I would say we are twins in almost all things. My husband and I discovered Dr. Michael Greger through the Food Revolution Summit series and were immediately hooked. We're completely vegan now, eating only wonderful whole foods. Kinda scary about all the oils and the fact that they are not healthy for us. I no longer miss my cappucinos or baked goods made with coconut oil. I will be going in shortly for my blood work and am anxious to see the results. My cholesteral usually runs high, about 230 and am hoping it is well below that now. There are so many wonderful fresh things to eat and we are lucky to be in California (the Central Coast) where we can grow and buy organic all year. My one vice is chips, but am trying to keep them only for guacamole. Any alcohol is like poison to the body as well, but I still love having a glass of wine or two and not making it a daily ritual. I immediately lost about 8 pounds and am back to my high school weight and feel great at 65. You are always so inspiring, no matter the topic. I send you and Larry love and light....

  3. Would be interested in the salad dressing recipes. xo

  4. Janet, I'm so pleased you're feeling better.

    Thank you for providing the links. I regularly recommend Dr. Greger and Dr. McDougall but Well Your World was new to me.

    I would add to your list, The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine


    I hope everyone who hasn't seen WHAT THE HEALTH yet, do so asap.

    Cheers, Karen

    WHAT THE HEALTH via Netflix, DVD and the website:


    and for environmental matters, COWSPIRACY, also via Netflix, DVD and website:


  5. Fantastic. Glad the dr was willing to give you the time. He must have been impressed and would have learned a-lot from you. This info he can pass on to other patients. Thank you for the update re olive oil. I will think twice now re putting it on my salad.

    A very inspiring blog.

  6. Janet, I am happy to hear that you are feeling better. Unfortunately there are so many things we think are good for use that are actually bad for us.

    I was a vegetarian for over 20 years and was incredibly unhealthy. My cholesterol was fine but I was overweight, felt terrible and my hair fell out. In the last 4 years I started to eat meat and I am healthier than ever. I still have below normal cholesterol levels. My doctor says that everyone is different and we each have to do whatever works for us.

    Take car and thank you for sharing these videos.

  7. Janet, congrats. And I am VERY interested in your recipes. Specifically, what are your soups; what are your smoothies. I need a refresher; thanks. I'm convinced that processed food is slowly ruining me, even the 'better' stuff I try to buy. A huge prob for me always is making myself cook because I suck at cooking. But I've been having upper-ab pain since the end of July (of which my doctor is aware). I went thru this about 15 years ago and it took my stomach a year to heal. I'm so glad you got checked out! And all continued healing, positive thoughts for Larry.

    Your Thanksgiving meal will be of real interest to me as well! What I love about your recipes is that they always make sense and, a sign of the best chefs, you don't overwhelm with a long list of ingredients.

    No pressure or anything (ha!) but I've needed your recipes like, yesterday; can't wait!

    1. So, Janet, when he did your blood work, did it reflect you're getting enough B vit from your daily drops? And how was your Vit D level; curious, since so many of us consistently run low on D. Am I being too nosy? But there's always a bit of a worry for a vegan about the Bs.

      Btw, olive oil has ALWAYS upset my stomach my whole life and I've also never liked the taste; I'd somewhat-recently read a report from a doctor/MD (cardiologist) who wasn't so sold on it; now you're saying the same.

      We're all given so much conflicting info about what's right to consume. Hard to know what to do sometimes. I just love the whole thing about uniquely-flavored vinegars and oils; all the diff wines out there. Tons of special coffees. So many diff artisan breads. Yet I'm so, SO limited on having any of it in my repertoire.

  8. This whole topic can be overwhelming. 5 years ago while at the gymn I had an experience that I knew was odd. Immediately I went to the er. I was admitted and they told me I did have a very mild heart attack luckily there wasn’t any damage to my heart. I was working out 4 days a week my weight was consider great and my MBI was perfect. Also my cholesterol was 160 and blood pressure slightly high but not considered bad. I told the chief cardiologist at the Cleveland Clinic I didn’t really know what I could change. Also I don’t smoke. He said...Honestly I don’t either.... My father died at 51 it’s genetic. My sister has always been a healthy eater never smoked or added salt very little meat. Actually she’s extremely underweight, she had triple by pass surgery last year. It’s fantastic your seeing results but as my dr keeps telling me don’t get hung up on the numbers. That doesn’t tell the whole story. I practically live on salad. Fortunately I love it. I also love fruit but I have no tolerance for it. I also gave up wine due to heartburn and it disrupts my sleep. I noticed with age, 65, one glass caused me to feel melancholy. Sorry for the book.

    I look forward to your recipes!

    1. After years of studying nutritional therapy (as a hobby) I have come to the conclusion that the body is still a huge mystery to us all. I know heavy drinkers, smokers, sugar eaters, meat eaters, fast-food eaters and NON organic folk who are just fine. And here I am obsessing over Omega 3s ALA and DHA. It all seems so random. However, I need to return to plant-based as I feel better on it.

  9. I would be interested in any recipes you’d like to share. I really want to stop taking blood pressure medicine and a daily acid reducer, as well as lose weight and feel better. I’ve been making an effort for a few months now but I’m married to a carnivore so progress has been slow. ��

  10. I discovered Dr. McDougall over ten years ago but am not familiar with the other two. Colin T. Campbell and Caldwell Esselstyn (both in Forks Over Knives) are fabulous too. Oh, Brian Barnard as well.

    1. That last doctor's name is Neal Barnard, not Brian.

  11. Please do share your recipes! I've been making your vegenaise
    salad dressing since you posted it.
    My cholesterol has been at 225-235 for 10 years, no meds and I'm 69.. I'm allergic to dairy, soy and lentils. I eat some meat, fruit and veggies and try not to eat processed food.my A1-C is too high so I'm working on lowering it naturally.
    Glad you got checked! Hope Larry is feeling well.

  12. I'm glad you're feeling so much better. xoxox.

  13. Hi Janet! I am so happy you took control of your health and got it back on track. I also appreciate you sharing what you eat during the day. Please share your recipes as I am very interested. By the way- my cholesterol has always been in the 210-240 range. My doctor feels there is a huge genetic component to this. I am constantly looking for ways to naturally lower it as I have no interest in meds. Interestingly- a co-worker's husband had a heart attack recently (he is fine now) but his cardiologist told him to stay away from olive oil and here I am thinking all along how healthy it is!! Anyway- so happy you are well and my continued prayers for Larry.

  14. Wow Janet, What a fantastic turn around and very inspiring for us all! Yes please, post your menus. I definitely need to re-focus on my diet and fitness. There's been some stressful situations with my family of late and I've been snacking and drinking too much wine with those snacks! I've put on about 5 pounds...jeans are way tight, ugh! My physical is coming up in January..so the pressure is on!
    Sending up good thoughts!
    Renee in NorCal

  15. oh AJJ. thank you for being such a beautiful little lighthouse in this world of conflicting information! I have been noticing that McDougall is mentioned a lot in what I'm reading lately so am especially anxious to read more of his info. thank you for all your links.
    I hate to cook. but this past year I've been trying to eat healthier. I would love it if you had a 'food day' and just shared whatever you want to! simplicity is key for me just as it is for you. in all things really. (and your pictures are always so gorgeous!)
    I cook for one and it's hard. it's tempting to take the easy way.
    I have a small freezer! but I LOVE soups all year round. your own pumpkin one especially although I've only made it twice I think!
    actually just coming here reading ANYTHING is uplifting! :)
    I know I've been eating too many soy products. because they're fast and filling. I've lost 10 pounds but I also know I'm not healthy. too many chips and easy restaurant food. still vegan but like you say easy to eat too much starch. foolish. because SALT is their major ingredient always! I'm ready for a CHANGE! I want off all medications. I know I can do it by eating right. the doctors are always all about the NUMBERS and their own drugs. my A1C numbers aren't good. having to be careful now even with simple fresh fruit. good grief. it's discouraging! but I can do it.
    I let them keep track but truthfully they know very little about nutrition! it says "be sure and ask your doctor." and yet when I have asked they have no answers. if it's not about a drug they're lost. we have to educate ourselves in this age of "experts."
    and I've decided to take a sabbatical from NEWS. I've been letting the political world stress me out + all the bad news of fire and floods and famine and the homeless. I feel so sad and helpless for everyone. the Hallmark Channels are life savers! staying positive in today's world is our key to health. and it's hard to do right now.
    I've never been one to be depressed. but I know that it even makes a difference in how our body USES the food we eat! I meditate and do a little yoga. that might be what's keeping me sane. keeping You and your beloved Larry in the white light. xoxo

  16. I would like to say to anyone, that if you have a doctor who only wants to medicate, change doctors! Please don’t lump them all in one bad category. My son is a doctor and he wishes more people would take his advice and make healthy lifestyle changes, but alas, most want the easy way out, which is meds. And as others have said, there is a huge genetic component to cholesterol and heart problems. We are all different, so let’s just try to be the best we personally can and encourage one another to do the same. Thank you so much for an uplifting blog. I would love to see your salad dressing recipes! Do they contain any oil?

  17. Thanks so much, Janet and the writers above. I will check out the videos as I recently had surgery and lots of toxins I am finally off the pain meds. I want to detox and rid myself of resulting edema. Yes please share some of your recipes especially salad dressings. And it is great to know this way of eating has helped you so much. Very inspiring!

  18. Recipes, please :) I am in the same situation with surprise cholesterol results

  19. How wonderful for you! I have noticed how fantastic you look in your recent posts. Thank you for helping to keep us all on track and I look forward to your recipes. Does this also mean that you no longer use olive oil as a moisturizer? So glad you are feeling better! xo

  20. This post really hit home with me. Six years ago I learned my cholesterol was 279, which was too high. I am 5'5" & weigh about 117, so this is somewhat of a puzzle to me. After about a year I got it down to 248. Athough my good cholesterol is high (110), my doctor says it still too high & needs to come down. He is supportive in trying to find natural ways to solve the problem, as I refuse at this point to do prescription meds. I will be 73 in 2 weeks & take no prescription meds yet. The information on olive oil was a surprise to me & I will need to cut back on that.

    I would love more tips on this problem & any recipes you can share. I am a widow & live alone, so cooking for myself is no fun at all. I think my diet is healthy overall, but I know I could make many improvements. I, too, love chips & sweets. Keep the information coming on this issue Janet, & thank you for sharing this with us.

    Anita ~ the cabin on the creek
    ...all is grace!

  21. Hi Janet - firstly, do hope that you all are safe from the devasting fires? And secondly, thank you for the kick (you know where) about being more mindful of our health whilst we have it. Would love to see your recipes please when you have time. Love to you and Larry from Johannesburg S.Africa.

  22. Hello Janet, so good to here you were able to find solutions without the use of pharmaceuticals.Your new eating style sounds very appealing. I eating in a very similar way myself right now. I'm not quite a vegan yet, but I do have long vegan stretches. I still have other meat eaters in the house, and sometimes it's just easier if we all eat the same thing. The medicalmedium.com blog is a good resource for fat free vegan recipes. I use it often. Best of luck in all your efforts.love to you and Larry.

  23. Yet another Physician recommending a healthy diet is Dr. Fuhrman and his Nutritarian Diet. Here is one of his recipes for you to get an idea of what he recommends:

    Chickpea Mulligatawny Stew
    From James Rohrbacher at DrFuhrman.com
    Serves: 6

    Mulligatawny Soup is a traditional English soup inspired by the flavors of Indian cuisine. In this Nutritarian interpretation, veggies, chickpeas and a diced Granny Smith apple are simmered in a rich coconut and curry-flavored broth.

    3/4 cup unsweetened flaked coconut
    4 cups low sodium or no-salt-added vegetable broth, divided
    3 Medjool dates or 6 regular dates, pitted
    1 onion, chopped
    1/4 cup garlic cloves, chopped
    1 carrot, peeled and diced
    1 stalk celery, chopped
    2 tablespoons white wine
    4 ounces cremini mushrooms, chopped
    1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced
    2 tablespoons curry powder
    3 cups cooked chickpeas or 2 (15 ounce) cans low sodium or no-salt-added chickpeas, drained
    3 cups no-salt-added diced tomatoes, in BPA-free packaging
    1/2 pound broccoli florets
    1/2 pound cauliflower florets
    pinch cayenne pepper, or to taste
    1 pound chopped fresh or frozen spinach (or greens of your choice)

    Puree the flaked coconut, 2 cups of the broth and the dates in a high-powered blender until smooth. Set aside.

    In a large soup pot, saute the onion, garlic, carrot and celery in the white wine until the onions are translucent and lightly browned. Add the mushrooms and apple and continue to cook until the mushrooms release their juices. Add the curry powder and saute for another minute. Add the chickpeas, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, the coconut puree, and the remaining broth and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add additional broth if needed to adjust consistency. Taste and adjust with more curry powder and cayenne if desired. Then, stir in the spinach and continue cooking until the spinach is wilted.

    Calories 362; Protein 15 g; Carbohydrates 57 g; Total Fat 10.8 g; Saturated Fat 6.9 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 202 mg; Fiber 16.2 g; Beta-Carotene 6771 ug; Vitamin C 75 mg; Calcium 232 mg; Iron 6.2 mg; Folate 328 ug; Magnesium 150 mg; Zinc 2.7 mg; Selenium 13.9 ug

    For anyone with digestive issues, I've heard that Bone Broth does wonders to heal the gut. As a vegetarian I haven't tried it, but I would were I not... It's super easy to make, especially if you have a Crockpot. Just fill up a slow cooker with some ORGANIC Free Range broken bones (exposing the marrow/ Beef or Lamb or Poultry, etc.) add a carrot, a celery stalk and an onion and cook it on low for 8 to 12 hours, then strain and portion into quart containers. Just freeze what you are not going to consume that week. Have one cup of warm broth as a prelude to lunch and dinner.

    Reading up on current nutrition information during the past 2 to 3 years I've been AMAZED at what I've been finding out! This is the first time I've heard that olive oil is bad for you, and I'd like to know why, if anyone knows. It took me 10 years, but I finally found out why canola is so bad... My question is WHY is the government allowing such unhealthful food on the market, even to the extent of covering up and claiming the unhealthful is healthful? Money, money, money... Try reading some books by Professor Marion Nestle to get your hair standing on end! Best wishes.

  24. "It took me 10 years, but I finally found out why canola is so bad..." Yes, Canola oil -everywhere in North America I found, is called Rapeseed here in the UK. Canola oil, banned by the FDA in 1956 and then 'recreated' from new strains in Canada the mid-1970s (CAN/OLA) is apparently poor for your cardiovascular health. It's so irritating how we have to be research scientists to get to the truth of healthy nutrition. I've ditched Rapeseed now.

  25. Janet, I have really enjoyed your health and nutrition posts. This is the way I eat too. I have been vegan since 2005, and have struggled with my weight for my whole life. I learned about Chef AJ and John Pierre's Ultimate Weight Loss program in February 2015, and have not looked back. I follow Dr Alan Goldhammer, Dr John McDougall, Dr Caldwell Esselstyn, Dr T Colin Campbell, Dr Greger, and so many more. I am at my lowest adult weight, and have maintained it for over 3 years - even through holidays and stressful periods. I eat a completely unprocessed WFPB diet with no sugar, salt, oil, flour or alcohol. I have been caffeine free for 30 years since discovering that it triggers migraines for me.

    This way of eating is not only healthful, but it is simple and delicious. My food is very easy to make, and I still love everything I eat. I have a new peace around food that I would not give up for anything. I am so happy that it is working well for you.



kindness is never out of style.

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