Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Cakes at Mad Greek International Johnson City TN

We don't normally look for Greek restaurants but thought we'd try this one as they are always busy, even during a pandemic, and especially at lunch. When you walk in the doors you are greeted with this huge display of cakes! The main dishes and sides were great too, we'll be back!

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Plant-Based Diet, No-Oil: Staying Off Medications

There's a potato under there, truly there is!

This is not about the recipe for these foods but what these foods have helped me accomplish in my goal to:

1. Not start on meds for diabetes
2. Lower my cholesterol meds and numbers
3. Increase energy levels
4. Lose a few extra pounds
5. Reduce inflammation in the body

Like many, I've been on a number of diets. The food lifestyle change was not just to lose weight, but to add more years to my life.

More than 20 years ago, I attended a 2-day seminar on reversing diabetes and heart disease by eating a plant-based diet. Because of this change, I have been able to keep diabetes and heart disease at bay for all those years. The most profound unofficial testing was that my mother died of complications from diabetes at the age of 58. Years later, both my younger brother (by 7 years) and my older brother (of 2 years) are both insulin-dependent diabetics. My brothers and I have the same biological parents, but they both continued to have the same diet of meat and animal products and I made some changes.

At first I had blood work to test where I was starting at. Escalated bad cholesterol was already running rapidly on the paternal side. Type II diabetes had already taken my maternal grandmother, also at the age of 58.

I started with no animal products, then gradually added back some of the meats to figure out what impacts they had on my labs. This was suggested by the doctors and dieticians who presented at the seminar. They did say, it would be best to do the diet for life, however they knew people would have problems sticking to it, so they suggested based on what level your health was at, to do the diet for 2 weeks, and then a month, and add more time. Then later, after I reached a healthier blood lab result, I could add back the animal products and see what impact it had on my cholesterol etc.

I found that after changing my lifestyle - I could eat fish but not much else. I also found that my cholesterol never really stayed down, but stabilized and wasn't going up. So, I stayed at this level of eating for about 20 years. 

But then, in the past 5 years, my numbers went up and no matter what I did, following medical and nutritional advice, the numbers weren't going down and I was borderline diabetic for almost ten years. The difference was that I was preparing meals with oil and still eating fish and now, after being "scared straight" into not wanting to go on diabetic pills which has caused many negative side-effects to those who take it, I decided to do another deep dive into my eating habits. I refound some old cookbooks and videos on reversing diabetes and heart disease (again).

6 Months to Improved Lab Results

The first three months, strictly on the plant-based diet with no oil was challenging as I started in the beginning of September 2019. I retested in Dec 2019 and there was little to no change, although the numbers didn't go up, so that's good. I have to admit it was a bit disappointing. However, with much of what I had read and viewed online by Dr. Esseltyn and others, I was determined to see what the next three months could do and I pushed forward.

I found that if I go off of the truly plant-based, no oil diet - as prescribed in the book, "Reversing Heart Disease" - the weight creeps back on for me. Weight can sometimes mean an increase in bad labs so I have a concern about weight gain.

I retested again in Feb 2020 - my labs had remarkably lowered that even my doctor was impressed. I had lost about 10 pounds in the first 3 months and another 10 in the last 3 months. My cholesterol numbers had not been this low in ten years! I need to keep this up, so I never have to say I'm borderline diabetic. I also still want to reduce cholesterol pills and get off of them!

But then, March 2020 came and everything changed... The pandemic happened.

So you might be saying, what really changed? I started eating "snack" foods instead of making my foods like I did. I also moved from one state to another. Although I have been working remotely for a couple of years, the changes and the food options and not being able to freely travel was a bit crazy.

May 2020 - I gained 10 pounds of the 20 I lost. Still not bad for staying home for the past couple of months. I kept walking but not as much as before. 

I can feel the difference with and without the weight. I also have a condition that causes pain in my joints and the external stress wasn't helping.

It's the end of May, I never left the plant-based, no oil eating, I just ate sugary snacks and processed non-meat foods. The processed foods were an option I used to eat, but I need to stay away and go back to my cookbooks. I also need to reduce processed candy and go to fruit if I feel the need to eat something sweet. Being at home somehow justified in my mind that I should buy bad food in order to help me cope with the world's crazy. That's gotta stop now.

Things I have to watch:
Adding salt via: 

Processed foods:
Soy Milk
Pasta including Saimin
Fake sausage / meats soy or other base

My favorite foods need to be whole foods not processed:
Jasmine Rice
Red and White potatoes
Okinawan Sweet Potatoes
Bok Choy

Blue plate special - homemade mash potatoes with mushroom gravy, yummo!

Every morning I enjoy home-cooked steel-cut oats with plant milk, and fresh fruit - Sprinkled with chia seeds, ground flax seeds, hemp hearts, and pumpkin seeds - hulled of course.

This breakfast can be made ahead of time. I cook 2 cups of steel-cut oats with 5 cups of liquid, you can use water or plant milk. I use a milk of both but usually just water. I then smash an extra ripe banana in while cooking it, along with dried cranberries and or golden raisins, and a splash of real vanilla extract, and ground cinnamon.

I use the long, 30-minute cooking variety as I like the texture better than the fast cooking steel-cut oats. Costco has a large bag of organic steel-cut oats. 
After the oats are cooked, I let it cool, put it in a glass container and I have enough cooked oats to last about 5 breakfast meals. I top it with whatever fruit I have in the house, along with a tsp or so of chia seeds, ground flax seeds, and hemp seeds. 

I like watching Jane and her mom Ann Esselstyn on preparing plant-based, oil-free, meals. Here's a video on the Plant Perfect Guidelines. This way of eating will help save your life if you are at risk for diabetes, heart disease, and a number of other issues. I've also found that eating this way has reduced the inflammation in my body.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Changing to a Plant-Based Diet

One of my favorite youtube channels to watch on food prep for the new way that I'm eating is Jane Esselstyn and her mom Ann - the authors of the Reversing Heart Disease Cookbook. I don't have heart disease, but the way of eating, whole-food, plant-based, no oil, no animal products - it's stricter than I have been eating and cheating over the years.

I knew as the years went on that I would need to do something different as my labs don't lie. I would eat fish and cook with oil. Those are my two primary issues. But when the doc tells you that you either go on more medications or change your diet, more than what I've been doing, I knew I had to do this one more change - I've been able to do well - except when going out to eat - I have a hard time getting foods not made in oil.

Anyway, here's one of my favorite things to eat - potato salad and I'm surprised that it tastes really good and gives me the texture that I wanted. Try it, you won't be sorry.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Moni's favorite: All Purpose Seasoning Mix

I have a video of me making a version of my Adobo kinda Seasoning Mix - here.

Here's the history of how it evolved into what I mix now.

Originally from the: Arroz con Pollo adapted from Bobby Flay's Foodnetwork, Showdown show.


  • 1/2 cup and 1 tablespoon and 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/8 cup paprika
  • 1/4 cup sazon tropical - (optional, I had in my pantry)
  • 3 tablespoons and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons and 1-1/4 teaspoons onion powder
  • 2 tablespoons and 1-1/4 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons and 1-1/4 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon and 1-3/4 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon and 1-3/4 teaspoons chili powder

****************This is from the Fonda Boricua's website**************

In January of 2008, renowned chef, Bobby Flay, brought his Food Network show 'Throwdown with Bobby Flay' to the Fonda Boricua, and challenged Boricua's to an 'Arroz con Pollo' battle. The Fonda Boricua's traditional, homestyle Puerto Rican arroz con pollo (rice with chicken) won the day.

Since the show's airing, many of you have asked for our recipe. We are pleased to finally make it available on our web site. Enjoy!

The Recipe

The Sofrito

A great arroz con pollo begins with the sofrito, a blend of vegetables and herbs that is the base of most Puerto Rican stews and rice dishes. Here are the ingredients to our sofrito:

One cup of white onion, chopped
One cup of green pepper, chopped
One half of a red pepper, chopped
Four garlic cloves
Quarter cup of cilantro leaves, chopped
Quarter cup recao leaves, chopped

Adobo Dry Spice Rub

A mixture of dry spices, including cumin, oregano, granulated onion, garlic powder, salt and black pepper.

Remaining Ingredients

Four chicken quarter legs and thighs
Quarter cup of olive oil infused with achiote (seeds of the annatto tree)
Quarter cup of canned tomato paste
Quarter cup of green pimiento stuffed Spanish olives
Quarter teaspoon of ground black pepper
Three bay leaves (dried)
Four cups of long grain white rice
Six cups of chicken stock
One 12oz beer (optional)

Marinate the chicken in a mixture of olive oil and two tablespoons of the adobo dry rub mixture. (For best results, let the chicken marinate for a few hours to a day before cooking.)

Chop up the ingredients for your sofrito in a small bowl.

Preheat a medium-sized casserole pot with the achiote infused olive oil. If you aren’t able to find achiote, plain olive oil will do nicely. Brown the chicken until seared and caramelized and golden brown (about five minutes over medium heat).

Next add the sofrito and sautee for another ten minutes.

Add the tomato paste, Spanish olives, black pepper and bay leaves. Stir and cook for 20 minutes (covered), until chicken is fully cooked.

Stir in rice thoroughly, then add the chicken stock and beer and bring to a boil at medium high-heat until most of the water has evaporated.

Finally stir rice and chicken and reduce heat to a simmer. Let cook for another 20 minutes (covered)or until rice is softened.

Buen provecho!

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Dr. Oz 3-Day Detox Cleanse - a personal review

Review of the: Dr. Oz 3-day Detox Cleanse

Dr. Oz 3 day detox cleanse - fruit and veggies
Photo by: Monica Lehua

Dr. Oz's detox cleanse is a great way to reboot your system. Whether you’re healthy, working on prevention of disease or challenged by health issues; we all need to look at simple, holistic methods of recharging our bodies.

When I heard about Oz’s 3-day detox cleanse drinks it sounded like a simple and relatively inexpensive way to give me a boost and reset my body, besides its only 3-days. I waited until the weekend so I would be able to spend the time shopping for the ingredients, (the shopping list and recipe for each drink is below) blending my drinks, and not have the temptations that an office environment can sometimes have with candies and snacks.

Detox breakfast drink

Breakfast was pretty good, sweet with a refreshing taste. I didn’t have flax seeds until later and found that I had to pulverize the seeds if you buy the whole flax seed and try to blend it, you’ll be picking seeds out of your teeth. Later I found it was less expensive to purchase a large bag of organic flax seed powder which made future drinks one step easier and easier to digest. You can purchase the flax seed powder I got on Amazon or a huge bag that will last forever at Costco or check your local health/grocery store.

Breakfast drink ingredients:

·        1 cup water
·        1 Tbsp flax seeds - powder
·        1 cup raspberries
·        1 banana
·        ¼ cup spinach
·        1 Tbsp. almond butter
·        2 tsp. lemon
Flax seed is used in the breakfast and dinner drinks. WebMD reports the benefits of flaxseed can include fighting heart disease, diabetes and breast cancer. Another difference is using almond butter which is not very common but can be found in most grocery stores. If you have a health food store nearby, those stores sometimes have machines that will grind fresh almonds to make the butter with no additives or oil. Costco scored again by having a large bottle of almond butter for a great price. I also tried grinding whole almonds into a powder form and that blended well too.

Detox lunch drink

This is known as the ‘green drink’. I must have used the super large green veggies because this was too much for me to drink at one sitting. I was also very full trying to get all of this stuff down. Besides, the one page print out wasn't very clear and I didn't see the show to see what they actually did to mix the drinks.

Since I have a Vitamix blender (you can buy refurbished models on Amazon to save some moolah) that baby can pulverize almost anything, including the skin, seeds, and stems of fruits and veggies. With that said, don’t blend the lemon or lime rinds. I thought I would see what the blender could do and it made the drink bitter. So although it says, one banana, I knew not to put the banana peel in, yet I still thought grinding the half lime and not squeezing half a lime juice in the drink was the way to go cause it was a green drink – don’t do it. I put some tips next to the ingredients below. Since the green drink is mainly veggies, if you’re not doing organic, the skin on the cucumber and other veggies can be bitter once blended.

Lunch drink recipe

·        4 celery stalks - clean
·        1 cucumber – unless organic, peel the skin and remove the seeds to reduce bitterness
·        1 cup kale leaves
·        ½ green apple
·        ½ lime – squeeze the juice only
·        1 Tbsp. coconut oil
·        ½ cup almond milk
·        1 cup pineapple
Dinner detox drink

·        ½ cup mango
·        1 cup blueberries
·        1 ½ cup coconut water
·        1 cup kale
·        1 Tbsp lemon juice
·        ¼ avocado
·        ¼ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
·        1 Tbsp flax seed powder
After the challenges of drinking the lunch drink, of which I couldn’t finish on Day One, this was a relief to my taste buds. The sweetness of the mango and blueberries blended well with the kale and avocado. I left the cayenne pepper out as I never cared for it. I was still full from the lunch drink so I had the dinner drink later in the evening.

Side effects or benefits of detoxing

The purpose of a body cleanse is to put your body into a state of rest of digesting whole foods, proteins and other things that you usually indulge in. A suggestion when drinking these drinks is to sort of chew your drink to generate saliva in your mouth to help in the digestion. This detox will clean out your system but it wasn’t something that was uncontrollable, however everyone’s system is different. I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables in the first place so I was sort of half way there. For those who aren’t accustomed to eating regular servings of fresh fruits and veggies, you may want to be sure to start and end when you’re able to be at home and not on a stressful schedule.

That said, the 3-day detox cleanse also includes taking a Detox Ultra Bath each night using Epsom salt and lavender oil. I admit I didn’t have the time, although I wanted to, it didn’t work out but it would have been nice.

One of the side effects that I noticed after three days and more of being awake while working on the computer was that I wasn’t tired and I got a lot of writing done. At first I thought it was because of a new medication I was on, however then I realized that after I stopped the detox drinks I was able to sleep at night.

Although it’s been a few weeks since I did the 3-day detox cleanse, I decided to continue to take the breakfast drinks as part of my daily routine of energizing my body with fresh ingredients. I noticed that I also don’t need to take protein powder shakes like I used to. This not only saves me money but the raspberries help curb my appetite, increase my vitamin intake and naturally wake up my cells. I may do the 3-Day Detox Cleanse a couple times a year, depending on what’s going on in my body and would highly suggest that others try it, even two days is better than none.

Share your experience with the 3-Day Detox in the comments below.

©mLehua. All Rights Reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced without prior permissions from the author. Partial re-posting is permitted with a link back to the original article. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

How to make healthy homemade dog food - Makana Meatloaf

This is a canine recipe, that's also posted on Makana's Dog Blog - it helped her heal from liver failure, along with love, prayers and powdered milk thistle - a supplement which vets & research is said to aid in the regeneration of a dog's liver. - Let me know how your pet likes it, try it!

Friday, May 20, 2016

Homemade Adobo All-Purpose Seasoning Recipe - Make Your Own

I wrote a version of this recipe in my blog a while back, so this is a video of how I actually do it. I mention that each time I make it, every couple of months, I change it, depending on what I have in my cabinets - although the adobo base is always the same. Try it and let me know what you think!