Tuesday Miscellany: Plant-Based Eating & More

Trying out plant-based eating, and an easy potato recipe. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

Eating For Health…

I like to think I have a pretty healthy diet. I don’t eat much processed food, fried food, or sweets, avoid sugary drinks, and limit red meat. I watch my intake overall, and especially carbs. But still, my cholesterol has crept up over the last few years, and last year’s blood tests indicated my sugar levels have inched just into “pre-diabetic” territory.

So over the last few months I’ve added more beans, legumes, and oatmeal to my diet. At first my weight crept up a couple of pounds but has seemed to stabilize. I’ve decided to take it a step further, and greatly reduce my consumption of animal products.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading (on both sides of the argument) especially as it relates to cholesterol and blood sugar levels. For the last few days I’ve been eating a plant-based diet almost exclusively. And I feel…pretty good! I definitely have more energy and am less tired. My system is still adjusting to the change, but the side effects (bloating, gas) have diminished in the last couple of days.

I have my annual physical in February, so am using the next few weeks as a test period to see if there’s any impact on my numbers. I was quite wary about the effect of more carbs in my diet (though am still avoiding processed carbs), but so far haven’t gained more weight. At this point, I’ve decided to prioritize health over shedding pounds. I’ll update periodically.

(Some of you have mentioned B12…I am taking a supplement daily. 😉)

Recipe: Easy Roasted Potatoes

Easy recipe for roasted baby potatoes or fingerling potatoes. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

I’ve been making these roasted potatoes fairly regularly. Family loves them, and you can cut up the leftovers and add a few cold to salads. I started with the Food Network recipe for Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, halved the amount of potatoes, reduced the garlic a little bit, and added more rosemary and thyme (because I have lots of it growing in my garden right now). This recipe also works with full-sized potatoes cut into large chunks.


1 lb fingerling or baby potatoes (any variety)

2 large sprigs fresh rosemary

4-5 sprigs fresh thyme

1-2 sprigs fresh sage

2-3 cloves garlic, unpeeled

Salt & pepper to taste

2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil, + 1 tsp to coat baking sheet

Preheat oven to 500F, place baking sheet inside to heat. (Recommend using baking sheet with a lip.)

If potatoes vary in size, cut larger ones in half. Add potatoes, seasonings to a large mixing bowl. Drizzle oil over top and toss to coat potatoes.

Reduce heat to 425F, pour potatoes out onto baking sheet with garlic and herbs. Just spread them out evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes until tender. If you want to be fancy, you can put in a serving dish and add another fresh sprig of rosemary on top as garnish.

Have you adopted plant-based eating or made other dietary changes for your health? Did it have an impact?

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  1. Plant based eating is good for us and the environment ! Glad to hear it’s working for you. I bet those labs will be much better in Feb!

  2. I have been plant based for almost 3 years. I’m 55 years old and feel 20 years younger. I have more energy, less anxiety, I sleep more soundly and hit flashes have disappeared since I dropped fairy products. Good for you fir making the switch!! If you haven’t watched Forks Over Knives, it’s an eye opening documentary on the subject. Check it out for sure!!

  3. I am a physician and recently had the opportunity to hear Dr. Michael Gregor speak about the health benefits of plant based eating. He is a physician who has made it his mission to share the evidence behind the benefits of a whole food, plant based diet, and the data is impressive! I would highly recommend his book “How Not To Die” for more information on this subject. I have not read his most recent book, but “How Not to Diet” presents an approach to weight loss using a whole food, plant based diet. Lose weight without counting calories—what’s not to love about that? His website, NutritionFscts.org, has many short, easy to watch videos presenting the latest nutrition research, all of which are evidence based. I would encourage you to check it out!

  4. This is amazing – the experience you describe with respect to your cholesterol and blood sugars is exactly mine! I have been meat free and dairy free for almost a month now and I love it. I have been completely surprised by how easy it has been. The food options are endless, the recipes are easy, I feel great and have had absolutely no cravings. I enjoy my food more and oddly enough, my taste of food has been enhanced. Without even trying, I’ve lost 7 pounds already! It is important to read to be sure you are incorporating the foods that will provide proteins, calcium, iron, etc., but once you know these, it is not a problem. It will likely be necessary to take a B12 supplement (which I did anyway). I have my blood work and doctor’s appointment in March and am looking forward to seeing what changes there may be! But knowing that I am eating better for my health and for the environment is a wonderful feeling. (BTW, if I am out at a restaurant and there are no vegan options, I just choose vegetarian. This way of eating works best if you don’t beat yourself up and do the best you can given where you are.)

  5. There are so many arguments for and against a plant based diet for senior women. ( Let’s be honest over 60 is senior) My concern is that when people transition they do so without any real nutritional knowledge. Most doctors receive very little education in nutrition. I have worked in clinical nutrition for over 30 years and I would caution any woman of a certain age to consult a registered dietitian before making a wholesale change in diet. Susan brings up a good point about carbohydrates. If you have diabetes it’s very important to find a balance when using beans, legumes etc as a protein source. My colleague teaches diabetes education to vegetarian/vegan seniors and getting that balance can be challenging . As well the older body has difficulty producing VitB12 ( found mostly in animal protein) and some may need supplementation.
    There is nothing wrong with following a plant based diet and there are many positives but it is very important, especially if you have a chronic illness or take medication to consult with a registered dietitian for assistance.
    Susan gets the last word: ” I have decided to prioritize health over shedding pounds” BRAVA!!!!

  6. I’ve also switched over (for two months now) to a plant based diet. Good for you for prioritizing health over a few pounds. I really enjoy eating this way, and find if I watch my portions, I do lose weight as well.

  7. Amen to all that. I have switched the entire way I LIVE and one of them was a plant diet. As as true 100% southerner (ie: everything fried, battered and swimming in pork fat) it has been very, very hard for me to eat plant based. Love the fried shrimp, fried chicken, fried okra…….. you get the picture)But I have found I can have a good feeling about huge tomato sandwiches minus the bacon/mayo-yes it can be done, but I will caution you not to get into the trap of meat substitutes. That stuff can be weird and just quit thinking with a meat memory.
    As I talked to what few remaining ancestors I have -I discoverd they ate (back in the day) plants all the time too. Rice and beans, tomatoes and peppers was all they ate and if lucky a chicken or a duck. on Sunday. Every other Sunday………Buttermilk was the only dairy as well. (liquid yogurt??)
    It was only after everyone got city jobs we all got fat and unhealthy! I am so curious to see if your body has responded to the new plan! Even so- dont be afraid of a little help in the form of meds. Just stick to it and test again, till you fine the perfect plan………. Love your Blog!!

    1. Yes, in many poor communities in the US South (and in the “Islands” aka Caribbean) fried or otherwise prepared chicken was a treat for Sunday (if one could afford it) or special occasions. Remember that a lot of places are car-dependent now. When my mother was a girl long ago, people walked everywhere, even people carrying burdens (this is very far north of you) because one had to spare the horse or ox!

      Due to allergies, I have a hard time being fully plant-centric, but have been reducing poultry and fish. When I tried to go fully veg much younger, I put on weight (too much pasta, I suppose).

      I love potatoes done that way. You can also do that with chunks of larger potatoes. Yes, rosemary, sage and thym are friends, and if you are lucky, you can grow them indoors. People in the Southeast or California might well be able to keep them alive in mild winter weather; I brought them in just before snow set in.

      1. Who said we were poor? Even the rich folks ate that way, just had chicken every day instead of once a week…..!! The poor kitchen help were the chefs. so therefore everybody ate like that!!!

  8. I have been eating a mainly plant based diet for several years. Please read a book called The China Study if you want to see studies on what plant based can really do for your health. There are many sites with incredible recipes. One of my favorites is the minimalist baker. All recipes are not plant based but many are. This way of eating is better for the environment as well as yourself. My husband and I, both in our 60’s, take no medications and are in great health. Low cholesterol and blood pressure. Good luck. Even eating this way 4-5 days per week makes a big difference. We do occasionally eat good fish too.

  9. Hi Susan,
    I’ve been a vegetarian now for 10 years. My doctor always says I should hang my test results on the fridge as they are always amazing. I also do yoga 5 days a week, walk daily, and lift weights twice a week. I’ll be 61 next week. Over the years I’ve found inspiration from numerous plant based blogs and cookbooks. A few of my favorites are: The first Mess, My New Roots, Happy Healthy Life, and Oh She Glows. They all have wonderful cookbooks as well. I suggest trying one new recipe a week, before you know it you won’t even miss meat, I know I don’t and I plan to live to 100!

  10. I too have been eating totally plant based for about a year (and vegetarian for 10 years before that). I feel better and my numbers have declined as well. I second the blog recommendations that Linda offered and would also recommend Vegan Richa, This Savory Vegan and Delish Knowledge. Good luck!

  11. I watched the documentary “What the Health” and found Dr. Greger’s site Nutritionfacts.org. I trust Dr. Gregers advise as it is all backed by independent research. Also, he is not trying to sell supplements or skin care like so many of the other “health gurus” are doing. I became plant based (avoiding adding oils, even the supposedly healthy olive oil). I lost 20 pounds without trying and honestly feel like I eat all the time. I am the size I was in my 20’s and I’m 64. Yes, barbeque still smells delicious, but I’m not willing to give up my more energetic, lighter self for it:)

  12. Hurray for you! We too have adopted a plant based diet the last several years and have greatly improved our health and dropped weight ( 40 pounds for my 76 year old husband) He is off several meds too. We follow the McDougall version of the diet such as featured in Forks Over Knives. A key point is no added oil! It is calorie dense and inflammatory. Non processed carbs are not a problem. It is not always easy but we are completely compliant at home , less so when we travel, especially in France. We do avoid meat and minimize dairy always. Best of luck!

    1. I am now about 80% plant based and have long ago cut out processed foods. I, too, urge you to check out Dr. Greger’s How Not To Die and not for profit website.

  13. I lost 32 pounds this year by eliminating processed foods and added sugar to my diet. I use myfitnesspal.com to track my calories and food groups. My sugar level has returned from per-diabetic to normal range.

    I have always loved vegetables so it is not a sacrifice for me to eat salads and roasted veggies. I do add milk to my coffee and Fage plain yogurt to a smoothie. I also eat fish twice a week.

    When I dine out, I order two appetizers in place of a main dish and find this option gives me more variety and smaller portions.

    Good luck, Susan!

  14. Hi Susan, Good for you for trying out a plant-based diet. My husband and I stayed at the Stanford Inn in Mendocino in early August. They have an award-winning vegan restaurant on the premises. It was a life-changing experience for us and after we returned home we vowed to work towards eating more of a plant-based diet. We started to experiment with different foods and recipes. Whole Foods is an excellent store for plant-based food products. forksoverknives.com is a great website for information and also offers many recipes. It has been almost five months since our trip to Mendocino and we have done really well with this major dietary change. We eat mostly legumes, grains, plant-based dairy products and organic vegetables. A couple of times a week we will eat fish and/or some organic poultry for dinner. We take a Vitamin B12 everyday as this is something that I understand is lacking in the vegan diet. The longer you follow this plan the easier it gets. It is a commitment and one that is well worth it for the sake of better health.

  15. I’ve eaten whole food plant based for 5 years (also eliminating oil). I’m 62. I lost 50 pounds, and have no more joint pain. I hope it will work as well for you.

  16. Good for you all ! I just turned 80, and take no meds, only a prolia injection every 6 months for my osteoporosis. I (and husband) have been eating a whole food, plant based diet for 8 years along with Vit. B 12, glucosamine for joints, and Vit D. I started with the 21 day kick-start program on Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine…PCRM where I got recipes and suggestions for the day’s meals.

    I second all the good results from others who commented. I had a hip replacement 6 months ago and have had a very nice recovery as I have done yoga for years, and continue my weekly practise. I also have had to walk daily – due to keeping depression away. Being in nature and my
    garden is a healing, soothing thing I need for my psyche.

  17. I make these frequently but I only add Rosemary and Garlic. Can’t wait to add more herbs! Good idea on the healthy plant based eating! Hope your next round of tests show great improvements!

  18. My grandparents were SDA and became vegetarians in 1928. While my parents did not adhere strictly to the diet, I was raised mostly vegetarian. It’s not a far trip from lacto-ovo to vegan, so I can do plant-based without a problem. I can also go full carnivore. I find it amusing to see how something so “historical” to me is suddenly now a brand new idea!

  19. My husband and I have been eating whole food plant based, no oil, sugar or salt for almost two years. We are in our 70’s, and it was difficult at first to relearn how to eat. My husbands overall cholesterol is 70. All of our numbers are good and we feel fantastic. We started eating this way because after much research, I determined this was the best anti cancer way of eating. (My husband is a Vietnam Nam vet with a blood plasma cancer from Agent Orange). My husband’s oncologist is on board, as is his internist. A good resource for recipes is The Brand New Vegan. Chuck takes “comfort food” and comes up with delicious, easy plant food versions.

  20. I hop that eating starches and more carbs works for you, Susan. Do you have a glucometer to check your blood sugars during the day? That could be very beneficial to you. As a type 2 diabetic, I find I need to stay away from oatmeal and potatoes. The hit to my blood sugar level is the same as eating a candy bar. I’ll be curious to see how you do in a few months.

  21. I gave up sugar months ago, for no other reason than I just decided to go without it.
    The effects aren’t immediately obvious but over time I have lost between 5 – 7 kilos in weight, I feel more energetic and my head is clearer, sharper. I’ve never been a red meat eater either and I’ve hated eggs all my life. I take Vitamin D and B on a regular basis. I think the bottom line is to find what works for you and to keep modifying it till you achieve that healthy balance.

  22. My husband and I have adopted the Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle. This is a BALANCED diet that incorporates healthy fats, healthy carbs, and high quality protein. It eliminates white sugar and white flour and processed food but pretty much everything else is considered on plan. This plan is very effective for weight loss and weight maintenance. And, the food is really delicious!

  23. A book on Paris…
    Susan, your insights in this blog are food for thought (no pun intended).
    Thanks for the book recommendation in your last blog. My husband & I really recommend this book on Paris that is listed below. It is heavy reading but so informative about American writers, artists, politicians, architects, doctors and many others who travelled to Paris between 1830 and 1900. As you follow their stories, you learn about how Paris evolved from a Medieval city to the modern one we know today.
    The Greater Journey by David McCullough

  24. This is personal, but I’ll never eliminate olive oil – obviously one must measure it as it is calorie-dense, but it has many health benefits. Sugar is another matter.

    1. I’m with you on the olive oil. (And the sugar, but that’s something I’ve been limiting for a long time.)

  25. Improving your diet–good for you! I agree with many of your other readers that Dr. Greger’s book “How Not to Die” and his website “NutritionFacts.org”, along with his weekly newsletter are a good bet to find out more about science-based nutrition. I’ve been doing a lot of reading on that subject in the last few years and it’s quite shocking what I’ve learned about the “Standard American Diet, aka SAD”. If anyone is interested in this area you might want to read some of the books by Marion Nestle (who I believe is a tenured professor at ?Georgetown University). She illuminates the connection between corporations, money, politics and the poor state of our American food and medical systems. It’s quite eye opening! I’m looking forward to reading Dr. Greger’s brand new book “How Not to Diet” which I have on hold at the library.

    I also improved my diet a couple of years ago by drastically decreasing carbs, processed foods, and dairy (I’ve been vegetarian for 40 years) and increasing vegetables and fruits. Within two weeks my head fog cleared and I was thinking much more clearly and felt much better. Basically you just need to have 3/4 of your plate covered with vegetables and fruit and the remaining quarter carbs and protein–and that’s for breakfast, lunch and dinner! So breakfast could be a smoothie with some flax seeds; lunch a salad with alliums (red onions, scallions, etc.), cruciferous veg (raw broccoli, cauliflower, red cabbage, radishes, etc.), nuts or seeds, avocado, and of course a couple of cups of leafy greens; dinner could be roasted veg (cruciferous like Brussel’s Sprouts/alliums like onions or leeks, then red bell and carrots, etc.) maybe with a small amount of black rice. You’d be surprised at how much protein is in some vegetables! Remember, some of the biggest animals on the earth have been vegetarian–like elephants and some of the dinosaurs. They have plenty of muscles, so no need to worry about getting enough protein.

    If you need some recipes, Dr. Greger wrote the “How Not to Die Cookbook”. For me, the recipes were a bit bland. To keep me from making the same boring meals endlessly, I have a different theme each night. Sunday is “soup” (or “salad: in the summer); Monday is “Indian”, Tuesday is “American” meaning North, Central or South American–which I expanded from “Taco Tuesday”; Wednesday is “Asian” (often a stir-fry), Thursday is “European”; Friday someone else cooks and Saturday is for “leftovers”. I keep a binder of recipes cut out from the newspaper or printed from food websites that I peruse when trying to find something interesting to eat or just grab one of my many cookbooks and use that for the week’s recipes.I figure out the meals a week at a time and then shop once a week to make sure I have all the ingredients on hand. It works. Good luck to you!