A New Year….

…a fresh start.

Well, 2015 ended with a terrible scare: my older brother had a heart attack and triple by-pass surgery! According to his doctors, one artery was blocked 100%, one 80%, and one 50%. Now, he’s a man who enjoys his food (with meat at every meal), but he was as skinny as a rail until he was in his fifties. He asked his doctor whether his post-retirement weight gain caused the attack, but was told that it was actually likely a combination of genetics (oh, great) and decades of things like smoking (a habit he enjoyed for over thirty years!).

On the plus side, his hearty wine consumption is apparently not a contributing factor to the disease.

The picture below is post-heart attack, but pre-surgery, so he actually looks surprisingly healthy. I don’t have the heart (harhar) to post a post-surgery picture because of the myriad tubes, bandages and staples (yes, staples) attached to various parts of his body.


And he’s receiving wonderful care in almost every way….with the exception of the appalling hospital food.

When we visited him on Friday, his lunch (which he could not bring himself to eat) was a cheese sandwich, which consisted of one slice of processed cheese on brown bread (not multi-grain, just processed brown bread), a quarter-cup of salad with Kraft dressing, and fruit cocktail. This man is NOT a picky eater, so you can just imagine how bad the food must be.

Saturday, he actually fainted because he can’t bring himself to eat the food, so Biddy rushed in with two of his favourite sub sandwiches for lunch, and James and I brought him some lentil stew and zucchini bread for dinner.

What’s most appalling about this terrible hospital diet is that post-surgery patients need to eat because the body is healing itself and healing takes a tremendous number of calories.

At this point, he’s been advised to get calories (particularly protein) in any way he can, so no one is worried about a heart-healthy diet (which is obvious, based on the meals I’ve seen). But post-surgery patients tend to have little appetite and unappetizing food does not help matters.

Plus, I can’t help but think that if the food was of a higher nutritional quality, the patients would heal quicker and better.

This evening, James made a squash, butterbean, and leek stew–a Denis Cotter recipe that is particularly succulent in the hopes that we can entice Johnny into eating. We’ll take it to him tomorrow after we finish teaching.

It’s served over delicious little cheese biscuits called “gougeres,” but I’m having it with vegan cornbread, because I’m back on the plan (thanks Johnny for the reminder of the genetic component to your heart disease).


And here are the “gougeres”–they really are amazingly delicious in the stew….


As I mentioned, I had mine with vegan cornbread and a little of this rather good new vegan cheese sauce I discovered in the Forks Over Knives Cookbook (which is currently only $2.99 for the Kindle version, btw)!

No-Cheese Sauce

1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped

1 red or orange bell pepper, coarsely chopped

1 cup of nutritional yeast

3 TBS roasted cashews

1 TBS tahini

1 TBS Better Than Bouillon paste (this is my adjustment–it’s not in the original recipe, though it does call for salt, which I didn’t include).

Blend it all up until smooth….and that’s it! It’s better heated up than cold, but a minute or so in the microwave, and it’s delicious!


And heeeeere’s dinner!


2 thoughts on “A New Year….

  1. I totally agree with your points about hospital food – it’s appalling. Did you know that they encourage cancer patients to drink Boost and Ensure? The first ingredient in these drinks is glucose/fructose! It’s nice that Johnny has such awesome sisters to dote on him! 🙂 I Must try that ‘cheese’ sauce!


    1. Wow–that’s bizarre!!

      Shouldn’t their mandate be nutritional excellence, rather than just “calories in”? I’m sure it’s expense, but a hearty lentil soup is much cheaper than cans of Ensure! Biddy was telling me that when Dana was in the hospital, she had to bring all her meals because the vegetarian options are even worse!


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