Check back regularly for the latest on following a plant based diet, staying fit, personal spirituality and living a balanced life. I will be sharing my experiences as well as providing answers to some of the questions sent to me.

I will be posting some of my favorite recipes and hope to somehow find the time to setup some cooking demonstrations. I also will be posting some great resources for those who want to learn more about plant based diets.

I believe that today is an awesome day,

but tomorrow is going to be even better!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Burrito Bowl

If I am not up to cooking, I don't have a lot of choices for a quick take out.  But one of my favorites when I feel like treating myself is the Veggie Burrito Bowl from Chipotle.  I leave off the sour cream, cheese and only get a touch of the guacamole and it is a great treat.

So one night I decided, "I don't need Chipotle.  I can do this myself!"  So I created my own "Deacon Pat Burrito Bowl."

Brown rice
Corn salsa
Tomato salsa
Baby Spinach
Baby Swiss Chard
Vegan Cheese
Vegan cashew/Tofu Sour Cream
Boca Crumble
Taco Seasoning
Homemade guacamole
Topped with crumbled taco shells

I layered the bowl with these ingredients and this is what I ended up with.
It was awesome!

Total prep time - 25 minutes.

Who needs Chipotle?

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Rising From the Ashes - Homily from the 23rd Sunday after Pentecost

First Evangelical Lutheran Church in Lorain

Photo Credit - Melissa Steeber

I remember one time in one of my classes I was talking with the kids and we had this discussion on what our responsibilities were to help other people.  The kids were all over the place – some said we should help anyone who is down on their luck.  Others said we should help others if they deserve it.  But there was one person who said, “You know, it says right in the Bible – “I am not my brother’s keeper.”   That’s  my motto.  Every one for himself.”

I then had to explain to him that the phrase he was referring to, one that is so often misquoted out of context as an excuse to explain why someone didn’t want to get involved, was really from the story of Cain and Abel when God asked Cain where his brother Abel was.  Cain had killed his brother Abel and thought he could divert God by answering back, “I don’t know.  Am I my brother’s keeper?”  Cain’s diversionary tactic didn’t work, though, and God, who really knew what had happened all along, condemned Cain’s actions and punished him accordingly.  So I told my student that his interpretation of the phrase he thought came from the bible that gave him permission to ignore the needs of others was really an excuse that God wouldn’t accept, because in reality, we are all, through the graces bestowed on us by God, we are all our brother’s keepers.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

From Mrs. Deacon Pat

Oprah Winfrey's Vegan Challenge

Over the last 6 years I have been blessed to watch my husband improve his health through adopting a plant based diet.  This change has been transformative in so many ways. Besides feeling better himself, Pat has been able to use his experiences and knowledge to help so many others.  We truly both believe that God has added one more calling to his already full plate (no pun intended) and asked Him to share these experiences so others can live longer and lead more healthy lives.

Living at home with such a passionate devotee to being plant based is both a blessing and a challenge.  It is such a blessing that Pat loves to cook and he prepares all of our meals.  And they are really outstanding, too!  Of course, he treats each foray into the kitchen as a trip to a lab, insisting on changing or tweaking his recipes to try something different or make it a little better.  Sometimes this works and sometimes it doesn’t, but more than once I have asked, “I really liked the potato soup the way you made it last time, can we have that again?”  And he replies, “I don’t know if I can remember which version that was.”

Deacon Pat's Guilt Free French Onion Chip Dip

One of the things that I missed going plant based was the onion chip dip that my Mom used to make.  So I decided to experiment a bit and came up with this recipe that even my daughter says is “awesome.”  It takes a little more planning and time but it is well worth it.
1 cup of RAW cashews (Drained after soaking for 2 hours if using a regular blender)
   (Use raw cashews, not salted ones.  These can be found in the nut section in the produce dept.)
12.3 oz container of Silken Tofu (Firm)
½ lemon – juiced
1 tsp. of onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
½ medium sweet onion grated
1/3 to ½ package of Lipton Onion Soup Mix

Place all ingredients except the grated onion and soup mix in a blender.
(If using a regular blender, soak the cashews for 2 hours then drain before blending with other ingredients.  If using a high speed blender like a VitaMix, then you do not need to soak the cashews first.)

Blend ingredients until smooth and creamy.  (High speed blender about 3 minutes.  A regular blender about 7-10 minutes.)

Grate in the ½ medium onion and add the Lipton onion soup mix and mix thoroughly with a spoon.

Refrigerate for about 2 hours to allow the flavors to blend.  Adjust seasonings to taste.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Three Stories

More information from Dr. Esselstyn

The Nutritional Reversal of Cardiovascular Disease “ Fact or Fiction? Three Case Reports Exp Clin Cardiol, Volume 20, Issue 7, 2014 - Page 1904

Case No. 1 – R. M. of New Foundland, Canada is a 74 year old male who had a heart attack at age 42 in 1982 and a mild stroke in 1985. Imaging at that time confirmed a 100% occlusion of the right carotid artery and a 27% blockage of the left carotid artery as well as further coronary artery disease progression necessitating bypass surgery which was performed not withstanding a 100% occluded right carotid artery. Despite optimal medical therapy and modest nutritional changes of decreasing sugar, fat, and eating less meat, the patient’s left carotid artery blockage had progressed by 2008 to 80-90% occlusion by ultra sound. By 2011 he was having daily angina and his physician indicated there was nothing further they could do for him. He felt his time was short. During this time, his daughter had found and read Dr. Esselstyn’s book Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease. She herself had experienced a heart attack at age 37, so they both became fully committed to whole foods, plant-based nutrition. Within one month, his angina completely disappeared and his erectile dysfunction resolved. After 4 months, he had lost 41 pounds to a body weight of 136 pounds which was the same weight at his wedding 53 years earlier. In September of 2013, a repeat duplex ultrasound confirmed left carotid artery disease reversal from 80-90% in 2008 to 50-69%. He states he no longer tires and in retirement he is physically active all day. He states “I am so busy living now, I no longer think about dying”.

Release of new study by Dr. Esselstyn

There was an article published recently in the Journal of Family Medicine regarding the results of a study by Dr. Esselstyn concerning the effect of a plant based diet on patients who had heart disease.  The results are stunning.

Dr. Esselstyn completed a study of 200 patients who had heart disease, with many of them also having other health issues.  Of the 200, there was follow up with 198 of them.  177 of the patients followed the plant based nutritional program set up by Dr. Esselstyn.   21 of them did not.

Of the 177 who followed the program, only one patient had a subsequent major cardiovascular event related to disease progression (rate of .6%).  Of the 21 who did not follow the diet, 13 patients (62%) had a reoccurrence.

This study is raising a lot of discussion in the medical field as more and more health care professionals are being challenged to look at nutrition as an answer to the costly issue of heart disease.  There are still many people with heart disease who do not want to give up meat, dairy and oil, but if we are going to make any progress toward a healthier society that can manage health care costs, we must respect this scientific information.  Doctors and nutritionists are also beginning to understand it is time to ask questions and challenge the nutritional information we have always followed.

Here is a link to Dr. Esselstyn’s full study.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Julie Marie

I have a new friend and her name is Julie Marie.  I have been talking about her a lot lately and my wife finally asked, “Just who is this Julie Marie that you are always talking about?” 

 Ha!  Jealous!

 Seriously, here is some background information on Julie Marie:  (From


Julie Marie Christensen is certified in Plant Based Nutrition with e Cornell and the T. Colin Campbell Foundation. She is the Creative Director and Recipe Developer of, Director and Educator at Protective Diet-Ed, TV Chef on Health Local a public access series, Cooking Instructor, Public Speaker, Presenter, Creator of The 30 Day Whole Food Detox and group workshop, Personal Coach, and Blogger. Her creation and teachings of the Protective Diet has guided many students to reverse disease and reach their ideal body weight. Julie makes adopting a Protective Diet easy, rewarding and sustainable. She specializes in eliminating obesity and food addictions.

Creamy Potato and Kale Soup from Julie Marie

Creamy Potato and Kale Soup Recipe & Cooking Video
Posted By Julie Marie in Cooking Videos,Soup and Stew | 21 Comments

This soup is a winner. It has a satisfyingly rich, creamy but light texture that keeps your company wondering if it’s fattening. After making it you will wish you doubled the batch.
Creamy Potato and Kale Soup - ©
Soup Base
In a stock pot combine
  1. Vegetable broth
  2. Onion
  3. Carrot
  4. Celery
  5. ½ Parsley
  6. Sea Salt
  7. Pepper
  8. Garlic
  9. Potatoes
  10. Kale
  11. Caraway Seeds
Bring to boil and simmer until ingredients are tender
Creamy Sauce
  1. In a sauce pan bring soy milk to a boil
  2. Incorporate cornstarch with 3/4 cups water
  3. Add liquified cornstarch to boiling soy milk
  4. Whisk thoroughly until thick
  5. Turn off heat
  6. Add Yeast
Once potatoes are tender remove soup base from heat
Add cream sauce and remaining parsley
Stir to incorporate
Best served alone, over brown rice or quinoa, or with Home Made Pita Chips

Article printed from Protective Diet:
URL to article:

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Catching up

Yes, it has been a long time since I have posted anything.  But it's not because there is nothing new.  I have been very busy with school, reading, trying new recipes and most importantly, playing with my grandchildren these last few months.  But there are more new developments coming out that I really need to share.

In the last couple of months I joined with Dr. Polly Dengel to give a couple of presentations to people who were interested in learning about plant based diets and how going on one affected me.  I told them my story and shared information about cooking.  So many people think that eating a plant based diet is boring and tasteless.  When I give them samples of some of my cooking, they are pretty amazed.  I have received quite a few emails from people who want more information and I keep referring them to my blog, so it's time to get more recipes and information up here.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Great videos to watch

I am constantly looking for more information on diet and how it relates to heart disease.  One of my best sources is You Tube because there are so many videos available from experts in this field.

I am including a few links from programs presented by Dr. Esselstyn that I highly recommend to anyone who is concerned about preventing or reversing heart disease.  These videos contain information regarding the affect of our diet on our health as well as choices we can make to prevent or reverse heart disease.

"Treating the Cause to Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease," 

Cleveland HeartLab 2012 Annual Symposium held in Las Vegas, Nevada. Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jr. MD presenting.   (47 min)


To watch, click here.


"Medina Hospital, Cleveland Clinic, The City of Medina and Medina TV Presents:  Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Jr. and Ann Crile Esselstyn"

Dr. Esselstyn talks about a ground breaking concept for a plant based diet. This information goes into depth about the down side of the typical American diet.  (1 hour 55 min)

To watch, click here.


"Make Yourself Heart Attack Proof"

Caldwell Esselstyn, MD of the famed Cleveland Clinic gives a FULL 62 minute talk from the 2003 VegSource Healthy Lifestyle Expo.

Dr. Esselstyn's ongoing 21-year study shows that you CAN reverse heart disease and save your life. Of 20 patients sent home to die by their cardiologists in 1989, every one is still alive and healthy today, and heart-disease free, even though together they had had a total of 63 cardiac events before entering his study.

To watch, click here.


This one is a bit political, but interesting.


"Fake Obesity Experts"

By Jeff Nelson

Many top obesity "experts" claim they know how to solve the obesity problem. Except they just can't seem to do it for themselves. There's one group of experts who are the exception -- whole food, plant-based diet experts. Their diets work. You wouldn't take financial advice from a pauper! Same rule applies when trying to get slim and healthy.    (3 min 38 sec)

To watch, click here.

Friday, October 25, 2013

"Cheesy" Scalloped Potatoes - by Julie Marie

Julie Marie is a vegan cook who has posted cooking videos on you tube.  Her website is  I have watched quite a few of her videos and picked up some good ideas from her.  This is a recipe I tried this week and my wife and I both really enjoyed this dish. 

Check out Julie Marie's video.

Click here to watch the video.

More Nutrition FAQ

One of my favorite books that I like to recommend to those wanting to know more about going plant based is "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Plant Based Nutrition," by Julieanna Hever, R. N.  This book contains great information presented in a way that is easy to understand.

Here is a column written by Julieanna and posted on the Forks Over Knives website.  This column covers many of the questions I get from people who want to know more about going plant based.

Oh, and one other note.  I received an email from a former student who has gone plant based.  She told me she has now been plant based for 2 years and how this has changed her life.  She feels better, has lost weight and wants more information to pass on to her father who has some health issues.

The food revolution continues!

Nutrition FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions
By Julieanna Hever, R.D.
JulieannaHeadshot 250x315 Nutrition FAQ
Julieanna is a registered dietitian, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition and a special consultant to Forks Over Knives.
Do I need to take a B12 supplement when following a whole-food, plant-based diet?
If you follow a whole-food, plant-based diet, you do indeed need to be aware of your vitamin B12 intake. This vitamin is created from microorganisms in the soil, which animals consume, thereby making it part of their bodies and providing it to people who consume their flesh. However, it is very easy to find vitamin B12 in non-animal-based sources. Nutritional yeast and fortified plant-based milks contain ample vitamin B12 or you can take a supplement or chew some B12-fortified gum. We require 5-10 micrograms per day. This simple consideration will allow you to prevent deficiency, which does not typically show up in blood tests until it is too late.
Is it safe for children to follow a whole-food, plant-based diet?
In choosing a variety of whole plant foods as the basis for your child’s meals, you are providing a significant health advantage when compared to the standard American diet. Since the subject is extensive, please refer to my book for more information. I have a chapter on raising children in there as well as one for pregnancy and breastfeeding. I think it will provide you with information and advice so you feel confident that you are providing a healthful diet for your child.
Why are dairy products not recommended?
Dairy products are not healthy, regardless of whether they are organic or conventional. Even organically produced dairy contain naturally occurring steroids and hormones, which can promote cancer growth. Also found in dairy products are toxins including fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, veterinary medicines, antibiotic residues, synthetic preservatives, and additives. The animal protein, fat, and cholesterol (even nonfat/skim milk contains cholesterol) all contribute to heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, and other major chronic disease. Dairy has been found to be pro-inflammatory and, essentially, is not a healthy choice. Any of the beneficial nutrients found in milk, like calcium, are found in sufficient amounts in a healthful plant-based diet.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Meat, Egg and Dairy Substitutes

This is an article that I found that lists numerous substitutes for meat, eggs and dairy.  Some of these items may not be the healthy substitute you are looking for, so be careful to read the label for fat and oils of any kind.  These are vegan products, but even some of the vegan products contain unacceptable levels of fat for those trying to reverse their heart disease.

Remember, the best option is to stay with whole foods. 
Try a few and incorporate some of these items into the recipes you use now.  As you discover there isn't much of a sacrifice, you will find yourself using more and more of them.

Meat, Egg, and Dairy Substitutes



Meat Substitutes

Below are just some of the faux meat products available at many supermarkets, health food stores, and co-ops. Some grocery chains, such as Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods Market, also offer store-brand options.

Hot Dogs

Field Roast Cincinnati Chili Dog
Cedar Lake Deli-Franks, Tofu Links, Tofu Franks
Field Roast Frankfurters (click here for The Cincinnati Chili Dog recipe, shown at right)
Lightlife Smart Dogs, Smart Dogs Jumbo, Tofu Pups
SoyBoy Not Dogs, Vegetarian Franks
Tofurky Hot Dogs, Jumbo Hot Dogs
Yves Meatless Hot Dog, Meatless Jumbo Dog, Good Dog, Tofu Dog


Amy’s Kitchen All American Burger, Bistro Burger, California Veggie Burger, Quarter Pound Veggie Burger, Texas Burger, Sonoma Veggie Burger
Gardein Teriyaki & Grilled Pineapple Burger
Boca Original Vegan Burgers
Gardein The Ultimate Beefless Burger (click here for Teriyaki & Grilled Pineapple Burger recipe, shown at left) and Sliders
MorningStar Farms Grillers Vegan Burgers
Quorn Vegan Burgers
Sol Cuisine Burger and Sliders
Yves Meatless Beef Burgers

Cold Cuts

Tofurky Roast Beef Style
Field Roast Thin Deli Sliced Field Roast (Lentil Sage, Wild Mushroom, Smoked Tomato)
Lightlife Smart Deli (Baked Ham, Pepperoni, Roast Turkey, Bologna)
Tofurky Deli Slices (Oven Roasted, Peppered, Hickory Smoked, Bologna, Italian Deli, Roast Beef Style [shown at right], Pepperoni)
Yves The Good Slice (Ham, Turkey, Salami)


Turtle Island Smoky Maple Bacon Marinated Tempeh
Frontier Bac’Uns Vegetarian Bits
Lightlife Smart Bacon, Fakin’ Bacon Organic Smoky Tempeh Strips
Phoney Baloney’s Coconut Bacon
Turtle Island Smoky Maple Bacon Marinated Tempeh (shown at left)
WayFare Pig Out Whole Grain Bacony Bits
Yves Meatless Canadian Bacon

Potato Kale Soup

Here is a recipe from Julie Marie Sterner at  I like Julie's recipes because she does not use oil in her cooking.  Her recipes follow Dr. Esselstyn's recommendations to a T regarding reversing heart disease.

My wife said this recipe is a definite repeat.  She suggested one change, though and we added corn to give it a little crunch and flavor.

A great soup as the cool weather approaches.

Creamy Potato and Kale Soup
Serves 4

  • 1 box organic vegetable broth (32 ounces)
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 large carrot diced
  • 1 rib celery diced
  • 1 cup of parsley chopped fine
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic pressed or chopped fine
  • 2 medium potatoes diced
  • 3 large leaves kale cut into thin ribbons
  • 1 box unsweetened soy milk (32 ounces)
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/4 cups nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds (optional)

Soup Base
  1. In a stock pot combine vegetable broth, onion, carrot, celery, 1/2 parsley, sea salt, pepper, garlic, potatoes, kale and caraway seeds.
  2. Bring to boil until ingredients are tender.
Creamy Sauce
  1. In a sauce pot bring soy milk to a boil.
  2. Incorporate cornstarch with 3/4 cups water
  3. Add liquified cornstarch to boiling soy milk. Whisk thoroughly until thick
  4. Turn off heat and add yeast. 
  5. Once potatoes are tender remove soup base from heat. Add cream sauce and remaining parsley. Stir to incorporate.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

"You Just Have to Have Faith"

27th Sunday of Ordinary Time

How many times have you told someone or heard someone tell you, “You just have to have faith!”

They make it sound so simple.

Well, recently my daughter and her family moved back to Ohio from California and it was quite an endeavor.  They had to sell their home, find a new place to live, new job, etc. etc.  Their biggest worry was whether or not they were going to sell their condo in San Diego, but they got lucky and sold it in just a few weeks.  Or so they thought.

    After they were settled in their home in Columbus, they heard there was a problem.  Seems that there was a glitch in the condo association contract.  When Kathleen started to worry, I just told her, “You just have to have faith.”