Friday, August 12, 2011

unhealthy vegans and
raw sunflower seed cheese recipe

Use raw sunflower cheese as a dip or sandwich it between cucumber slices 
Sugar-laden cupcakes overburdened with "buttercream" icing. Macho-strong espresso. Airy French bread crafted from white flour. Veggies swimming in oil. Wine, Earth Balance and Vegenaise with abandon. A self-professed hedonist, I've consumed more than my share of unhealthy vegan chow over the years. If it was vegan and decadent, I was there.

All my life, I have been extremely healthy. But last September, after enduring a previous year rife with all kinds of unmentionable, health-related unpleasantness, I learned that my petite frame was toting around an ovarian cyst and a grapefruit-sized fibroid. Coincidentally [not!], my medical problems began around the time my marriage was breaking up. Too much stress is just as unhealthy as too much junk food, and during this tense, sad chapter of my life, I comforted myself with – you got it – more coffee, wine and sugar-laden treats than usual.

Most people assume a vegan diet automatically equals a healthy diet. My story shows this is not necessarily true. Although I had always lived by the adage, "Everything in moderation, including moderation," during my stressful years, moderation somehow became the exception and not the rule. Over the past 6 months, I've been slowly regaining my equilibrium. I've "tried on" juice fasts; eschewing all alcohol, coffee and sugar; eating 100% raw, but in the end, embracing small, healthy diet and lifestyle changes was much easier and more realistic. And so I've come home to my original adage. I don't want to face surgery, and so far, I've been successfully managing my condition with only a few bumps.

In the spirit of delicious moderation, here's an easy Raw Sunflower Seed Cheese recipe. I love it as a veggie dip and sandwich filling.

Sunflower seeds are high in vitamin E, cancer-busting selenium and cholesterol-lowering phytosterols


  • 2 cups raw sunflower seeds
  • 1/4 cup hijiki, soaked in about 1/2 cup pure water [You don't need to drain it]
  • 1/4 cup organic red bell pepper, lightly chopped
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 3 garlic cloves, lightly chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Up to 1/2 cup pure water

Makes about 2 cups

Whiz everything in the food processor until smooth, adding as much water as needed to reach a "creamy-cheesy" consistency.


Bianca said...

I'm an unhealthy vegan in moderation too. You know I love my fried food and processed stuff. But I love recipes like this to keep the balance. Sorry to hear about your health problems! :-( But I can't wait to meet you at VCC!!!

Anonymous said...

i just had a grapefruit sized fibroid removed in may! it's SO GREAT to not have to use the bathroom every five minutes.

~erica ex: she sees color (i can't seem to leave a comment as myself anymore :( )

Anonymous said...

ps - i really, really wanted to avoid surgery as well, but i was having AWFUL side effects and i'd really like to have a child some time (i'm 35 now), so i finally broke down and had it out. i heard beer consumption is linked to fibroid growth... damn, i love my beer :(

~erica again

Vegyogini said...

In the face of health issues, thank you for setting such an empowering example by taking matters into your own hands holistically.

urban vegan said...

Erica: Thanks for your comments --and boo about beer!

I'd really love to hear your thoughts on the surgery...I am also tired of living in the bathroom ;) If you're game, can you drop me a line at and I'll email you back? If not, no problemo.

Happy weekend!

foodfeud said...

Dynise, I'm sorry to hear about yr health problems but I'm glad it's behind you for the most part. I had a scare myself about HPV about a year and a half ago but really tried to change the worst of my eating habits and things seem to be doing fine now.
It's always amazing to see in action the link between food and health.
Treats are nice but we ought to be mindful, respectful and knowledgable about what they really do to us - and how much we can handle.
Keep up the great work, be well!

Anne said...

Best wishes Urban Vegan! I love your blog and am eagerly anticipating the new cookbook. Wishing you good health and peace and a complete return to wellness.

Joy said...

I am sorry to hear about that and hope things are better for you now. As a vegetarian, im not a healthy eater as well! I love all kinds of sinful yet delicious food.

Wishing you all the best.


Kim! said...

I admire your courage to take on your health conditions through re-examining your life and diet and eschewing typical impulsive 'save me modern science' surgery.
I understand what you mean about a poor vegan diet. My husband has these habits and I cringe whenever he adds all the vegan 'dairy' products in the house to one recipe. I know that it will catch up to him, but just like you and these other people who have commented you have to learn that yourself and you have to be willing to change and delve into the pleasure of this new food lifestyle.
Thanks for posting some raw recipes. I'm there now in my life and are excited to try this seed cheeze. Best wishes along your journey!

Demetrius said...

Cheers to you and great health. See you in Portland!

Get Skinny, Go Vegan. said...

Our vegan diet has totally changed throughout the decade too, kind of naturally. We used to eat white pasta and turbinado. Now it's zucchini pasta and dates or brown rice pasta. But I do think as a vegan it's much easier to transition to healthier eating when you "need" to because you are already so much more aware of what is in your food & heck, we read the fine ingredients anyway to make sure that the "flavor" or "spice" is vegan! Also, we starting to be vegan when there wasn't vegan junk food period, so this whole new trend of earth balance and multitude of burgers didn't exist!! Hey!! If you are having hormonal stuff, read Elizabeth Vliet's, It's my ovaries, stupid! book. She has a site, "herplace" but it talks about a lot of these issues. I had hormonal stuff when I tried to quit the pill after 20 years, so learned the hard way about hormonal junk! I would personally get a hormone test & just make sure my estradiol was about twice the estrone level. You can take DIM (concentrated brassicas) to help that balance. Hormonal stuff SUCKS. I know my mom had issues with cysts/etc...but they never really "helped" her. There may just be a sugar/insulin/hormonal type of issue happening. They make ya or break ya!! Good luck!!! I know I was juicing & everything when I quit the pill but nothing improved my estrogen levels.

lizzzz said...

Best wishes, Dynise. - Liz (weird lady who came up to you on Chestnut St the other day!)

urban vegan said...

Hi Lizzzz! You're not weird; you're friendly--which is nice :)

Johanna said...

Okay, I have to respond to the fibroid comment that you made. A recent ultrasound showed that I apparently have more fibroid than uterus now. Who knew? Since research showed that liver function was key to helping the fibroid feeding estrogen process better, I went on a liver cleanse. I also only drink coffee in the morning and not little sips all day at work anymore. It might be helping...don't know. What did you do?

urban vegan said...

Hey Johanna: I've been eating more cleanly in general--check out Kris Carr's "Crazy, Sexy, Diet." I've been following many of the principals outlined there – but like you, I still have a cup of coffee in the morning (If I had to choose between wine and coffee, I would choose coffee :) If you want to talk offline about this, feel free to email me at :

Anonymous said...

I had a grapefruit sized dermoid cyst in my ovary (an egg that thinks it's fertilized and it's not but keeps growing). I had surgery to have it out and it made a world of difference!

However, it sounds like yours is different so good luck on your quest!

Anonymous said...

I understand every thing you are saying, but I went through the same problems, and unfortunately I could not reverse the fibroids through diet. I suffered for years with excessive bleeding, pain, frequent urination.
I finally had the fibroid removed and also now had a supracervical as a final last resort of a condition that makes the lining of my utereus actually bleed into it and then was unable to menustrate OUT of it. Luckily, I have 2 wonderful sons and my child bearing years are behind me so it was the best decision I ever made.
I hope all goes well for you

Diabetes Diet Plan said...

It's so true that you can be terribly unhealthy as a vegan. I think a lot of vegans need to be careful in assuming that they're healthy just because they're vegan. The optimal diet is a low fat, minimally processed, plant-based diet. Following such a diet can work wonders.

Nicole said...

This has been an absolutely eye-opening conversation to read. Thank you so much.

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Leslie Lim said...

I have a G6pd deficiency son. And there are a lots of foods which should be avoided like soya. I am thankful that you share this kind of recipe. I make sure that my son only eat anti-oxidative foods an d all green vegetables.


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