Wednesday, June 30, 2010

To Err Is Human...

You know the rest of that saying, right?

“To err is human, to forgive divine.”

I like to take that admirable adage a few steps further and say that admitting one’s mistakes, owning up to a shortcoming or just one bad moment is equally, if not more, important than forgiveness.

We all screw up, hence the above quote—we are all human beings so we are expected, at times, to do things poorly, say things in anger, misinterpret an emotion, or just plain boot a grounder at Fenway Park.

Mike’s keys to dealing with being human:

·        Cut yourself some slack—if you were a robot then all your problems would be solved with a new microchip or a good reprogramming.
·        Cut others even more slack—if we all have to jump in the pool and splash around in the muck, you do too!  Forgiveness is a two-way street.
·        When in doubt, send flowers—or at least send love.  Some people take longer to heal, are more sensitive, need time to get over whatever you did to make them so upset with you.
·        Learn from it—what’s the sense of being in the doghouse, groveling your way out, mending that fence you almost destroyed, if you just go back and do it again?  Messing up can build more character than succeeding, at times.
·        Watch this video:

I’m not saying that you should not always strive to do your best, just don’t take yourself too seriously.  Perfectionists are some of the most miserable people on the planet.  While, when you think about it, children are some of the happiest.  Why do you think that is?  Kids are always messing up, making mistakes, doing something they shouldn’t be doing.  Yet, most of them, look at these childhood blunders as part of growing up, and learn from them.  And youngsters are also some of the most forgiving creatures around, save for puppies.

“If you are not making mistakes, you are not trying, and if you are not trying you are not living.”

Sometimes life gets in the way of some of the things we want to accomplish.  There’s nothing you can do about it—it’s life!  Except react as best you can.   Sadly, sometimes we react in the worst possible way.  When that happens make the best of it:

·        Learn from it
·        Improve self
·        Value the experience
·        Earn back trust
·        Love
·        Inspire
·        Forgive
·        Enjoy


Every day in every way.

Until next time…



Monday, June 21, 2010

In Search of Vegetable Protein

I wasn’t always a vegetarian. Back in the day, I used to be seated right beside some of you, gnawing away on that rib bone, masticating that filet mignon, devouring a double double from my (former) favorite burger place, In-n-Out. I was an animal-eating carnivore most of my life—just like over 90% of the population. Then I had some blood work done and got a glimpse of my cholesterol levels. Yikes!

Here’s the thing: I was never what you would call a BIG meat eater. More often than not, I was just as interested in the vegetable and salad portion of my meal as the animal protein part. And once I’d done further research about the contributing factors of high cholesterol (mine, by the way, was closing in on 300) and unhealthy weight gain—namely: saturated fats—it made perfect sense to gradually cut down on the meats. Years before I became a full-time vegetarian, I often would go days without consuming any animal protein. My palette, as well as some deeper region of my subconscious, was changing, sounding an alarm: Reduce your saturated fats or die!

Okay, Mike, you can stop with the dramatics. But it was a wake-up call, and my unhealthy cholesterol and weight gain (I was up over 200 pounds—far too heavy for my barely 5’ 11’’ frame) forced me to do something else—discover healthier eating options. More to the point: I needed to reduced saturated fats, which meant limit the consumption of animal proteins. The answer:


Here are some of the best sources of vegetable protein that I incorporate into my daily eating routine. Eat as much of this stuff as you can and you will not only get the necessary amount of protein into your diet, but tons of fiber (a good thing!). All without those harmful saturated fats; instead filling up with the good fats: monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.

I eat nuts every day—mostly almonds, but all nuts have a decent amount of vegetable protein. In addition to almonds, eat walnuts, Brazil nuts, pistachios, even peanuts. They have anywhere from 6-8 grams of protein and 3.0 grams of fiber. I also suggest trying some of the butters. Almond butter is delicious and has 8.0 gms of protein per serving.

I love Mexican food, and eat it at least twice a week. I’ve found that you can replace just about any of the meat dishes with healthy black beans (7.0 gms protein/7.0 gms fiber) or refried beans (be sure to check if they are made with lard, in they are, opt out). There are dozens of varieties of beans (see one of my previous blog posts, You Don’t Know Beans…or Do You?); pinto, navy, garbanzo—add them to salads or eat as a side dish. Most have around 6-8 gms of protein and about the same amounts of fiber.

And don’t forget lentils. These tasty tidbits are loaded with vegetable protein—10.0 gms. And 9.0 gms of fiber.

I eat a high-protein, whole grain cereal every other day. Kashi makes excellent products. Try their Go Lean. It has 13.0 gms of protein per serving, also 10.0 gms fiber. I mix mine with their Good Friends (5.0 gms protein/12.0 gms fiber) for a vegetarian protein and fiber blast (pun intended!) The days I don’t eat whole grain cereals, I have some toasted whole grain bread (4-6 gms protein; shop around and read labels, some have more protein than others. I recommend Milton's) with almond butter. You can see how the vegetable protein is adding up, huh?

Pastas, especially whole grain pastas, are another great source of vegetable protein. Most have at least 6-8 gms, while some go as high as 12-15 gms. Again, read labels, and you will be pleasantly surprised by all of the healthy vegetable protein options available to you.

I also eat oatmeal (8.0 gms protein/ 6.0 gms fiber) every day. And wild rice will get you around 5.0 gms of vegetable protein per serving.

Not all veggies are created equal. Some have more protein than others. Here are the ones you should look for when looking to increase your vegetable protein consumption:

I eat edamame, or soybeans, (11.0 gms protein/ 6.0 gms fiber) several times a week. I like to mix in another vegetable, usually broccoli (5.0 gms protein/ 4.0 gms fiber), add a little olive oil, salt, pepper. How’s that for veggie protein? Also, soy chips are a wonderful source of protein: 6.0 gms--I like Glenny's  and Gen soy. And Dr Soy makes a tasty soy bar (11 gms protein) that I devour most days.

Avocado: (4.0 gms protein/8.0 gms fiber)
Peas: (5.0 gms protein/ 4.0 gms fiber)
Corn: (4.5 gms protein/3.0 gms fiber)
Lima beans: (6.0 gms protein/4.0 gms fiber)
Brussels sprouts: (4.0 gms protein/3.0 gms fiber)
Artichoke hearts: (4.0 gms protein/4.0 gms fiber)
Asparagus: (4.0 gms protein/3.0 gms fiber)

This is by no means a complete list, and a lot of it is personal preference. But, as you can see, the variety of vegetable proteins available to you are endless. And the best part—they are low in saturated fats, high in good fats, loaded with fiber, vitamins, minerals, and nutrients that contribute to a longer, happier, skinnier, healthier life.

As always, you can watch me talk about all of these healthy topics at my video website,



Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Accentuate The Positive...Then Reinforce It

I recently wrote a post called the cynical optimist, where I noted the sometimes paradoxical challenges we all face when confronted by daily life circumstances. That choice being to accept said task or chore or adversity in an open, positive, optimistic way. Or look down at it like it is something that your foot just stepped in, another one of life’s ongoing jokes and misadventures that seem aimed directly at you. Here’s the video, for those of you who may have missed it (or ignored it) the first time:

I still believe that we can choose to be happy, and in effect, positive, if we will our minds to do so. Now, I’m not saying that if you get run over by a bus and are lying in a pool of blood on the interstate and some negative thoughts may seep (along with that blood) into your mind that you should ignore your injuries and smile, whistle, and watch the birdies tweeting around your concussive skull. But I am saying that, yes, even while you are being strapped to a gurney and being shoved into the back end of an ambulance, yes, even then, you still have the option to choose optimism over cynicism.

Wow, some happy joker this guy is, huh?

Yes, for the most part. Why? Because it’s just as easy to chose to be positive than it is to embrace negativity...and it's far more healthier.

One of the keys to success and happiness is not only cultivating a positive attitude and persona, but reinforcing that attitude every day. Most of us enjoy positive feedback, whenever we receive it. But those platitudes and kudos are not always available. What to do…?

Give yourself positive reinforcement. Give yourself a pat on the back for the job well done if your manager or supervisor or boss does not. Only, of course, if you deserve one.

If you do something wrong, make a mistake, fail, it’s not the end of the world. Rather, it is an opportunity to learn, grow, achieve. Then reinforce whatever positive success factors you gained from the experience.

Here is a video from my archives where I discuss, you guessed it:

Remember, we can choose, for the most part, to be positive throughout our daily existence, no matter how difficult that can be at times. But more importantly, we also need to reinforce this positivity with encouraging reminders, daily affirmations, and well-earned acclamation.

If we are constantly reminded that we have had past successes during certain endeavors, then we take from those positive memories the encouragement and experience necessary for continued success.

Think about it.

Until next time…



Saturday, June 5, 2010

How to Make a Vegan Reuben Sandwich

One of the things I miss the most about being a vegetarian is deli sandwiches. And as I continue to work toward becoming a vegan, thus removing dairy from my diet, my ability to quench my desire for a hoagie, grinder, hero, Dagwood, good old-fashioned, meat- and cheese-stacked mountain of a sandwich will become increasingly more challenging. Now don’t get me wrong, I do not regret my decision to remove animal products from my diet several years ago—I love being a veg head…it’s just that sometimes the salivary glands take over where logic attempts to rule.

To all of the above I say: TGFT!



What is tempeh?

So, what are the keys to a good sandwich, a Reuben in particular?

· excellent bread
· tasty dressing
· fresh produce
· good cheese
· and, the key ingredient: deli meat!

In the case of the Reuben, that meat consists of either corned beef or pastrami. Leading one to ask:


Good question. Here’s how:

The best part, besides the taste, of my Veg Out with Mike Vegan Reuben is the nutritional value versus a real, meat/cheese/mayo/butter laden one. The saturated fats in my vegan version are only 2 grams. That’s all! For a real Reuben? Anywhere from 12-20 grams, depending on how much meat/cheese/mayo/butter you use. My sandwich is also lower in sodium, calories, and cholesterol. In fact, there is virtually no cholesterol in the vegan Reuben versus over 100 mgs in a traditional one.

The desire to lower my cholesterol, lose weight, and live a happier, healthier, more fit, and, hopefully, longer life was my main reason for becoming a vegetarian. I hope my Veg Out with Mike Vegan Reuben propels you on your own path to better nutrition and fitness.  Oh, and taste!

How do you make my vegan Reuben? Here are the ingredients:

6 oz. tempeh (marinated)
2 slices vegan Swiss cheese
4 oz. organic sauerkraut
2 slices whole grain rye
Two tbs. thousand island/Russian dressing
1 tsp. olive oil

Tempeh Marinade:

2 tbs lemon juice
2 tbs soy sauce
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (vegan)
1 tbs olive oil
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp cloves
salt and pepper to taste

Thousand Island/Russian dressing:

2 tbs nayonaise (vegan mayo)
2 tbs organic ketchup
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp celery seed
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce (vegan)
1 tsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Remember: Just because you choose a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle doesn't mean you have to skimp on taste...or give up all those great comfort foods you love.

Until next time...