Friday, September 13, 2013

My severe reduction in cholesterol with NO DRUGS

It has been years since I've updated this blog as my focus has been on creating art and creating this new path in my life. I realized I would not update unless there was something that truly inspired me to come back to this blog. I am still, very much, a vegan but, I didn't feel that pushing recipes laden with unhealthy sugar was the energy I wanted to put out there. I'm still trying to attain a healthier path as I find myself increasing my raw food intake. My latest journey with my cholesterol, as you'll read, inspired this post.

4 months, 15 lbs., 73 point reduction in cholesterol and no drugs later...

Into my 20s and older, I started to become aware of the journey to a healthier lifestyle while witnessing the effects of heart disease, diabetes, obesity and cancer on my family and loved ones. I had been vegetarian since my early 20s, started visiting the gym on a semi-regular basis and became vegan over 8 years ago. I was relatively healthy but, what confounded me was the fact that I had NOT seen a dramatic increase in health or positive change in my blood numbers like many vegans experience. What was I doing wrong? My total cholesterol hovered above 200 regularly and while the statin drugs could get those numbers under control, they also caused severe depression and countless other unwelcome side effects. New studies even question the effectiveness of statins with a possible link to heart damage. I re-tested many times, trying different combinations in my diet, getting rid of the excess peanut butter, cutting down on oils and nuts, increasing my gym visits etc. Still, my visit to the doctor in May was sobering with a total cholesterol of 279, the highest its ever been. My triglycerides were also at 226 with the ideal being under 150.

Enter, the culprit. Since childhood, I have had a whirlwind love affair with processed sugar. I was a connoisseur of cookies, ice cream, pastry, cakes and anything Hostess, Freihofer's, Drake's or Little Debbie. By the time I became vegan, I was a regular 'user' but, I didn't think it was doing any damage. I could quit any time I wanted - really. Besides, if it didn't have animal fat in it, what harm could it do? I tracked down the best vegan cookies I could find (organic sugars and all), sorted out the best vegan cookbooks and became an expert in making chocolate-peanut-butter torte, cupcakes and cookies. I would not be deprived. When this last blood test came back, I had already began reading articles that indicated sugar in high cholesterol. ::: GULP ::: During the course of a day, I would normally snack on a handful of chocolate covered almonds, a 'stack' of cookies (did you know one serving is just TWO cookies?) and a dish of ice cream. That was nearly EVERY day! Now it was time for a change. At the same time I would attempt to rid my diet of sugar and eat only whole grain breads and pastas, I tried some supplements that had the same reported effects as statins. I began taking fenugreek and red yeast rice. Quickly, I experienced troubling stomach issues and side effects from both and discontinued just as fast. This would be a test to see just how much the sugar, alone, was effecting me. Honestly, the first couple of weeks was a white-knuckle ride. It was just as bad as withdrawing from any drug, no lie there. I supplemented by eating whole fruits like a madman. Half of a honeydew would be devoured every day with several apples and servings of cherries and various other fruits. Think of how many times you may mindlessly snack during the day and those were the times I was gorging on fruit. I also ate a low-sugar raisin bran for a while but, the stomach distress manifested in lovely ways with that. After I was through the initial withdrawal, I allowed myself a treat if a craving got too much. The good thing was, my palate had changed and the sweets were now too sweet. I was enjoying better sleep and when I cheated, I would feel more hung over and this overall 'blah' feeling. It was easier to say "no thank you." During this time, I noticed clothes fitting better. I wasn't doing anything super different at the gym, I was just eating quality, whole foods and skipping the sugared crack.

I got my blood test last week and had my appointment with the doctor today. She had no idea I stopped the supplements and I could read the excitement in her mood when she greeted me. I weighed in at 166, down from 181 in May. My cholesterol was at 206, down from 279 and my triglycerides were at 152 from 226. She was as astounded as I was that I did this without drugs and just by eliminating unhealthy, refined foods from my diet. I can only encourage others that when you change your eating habits, your palate will eventually change with you. For me, it's not a sacrifice at all and when I absolutely need a little binge, I will but, I had to stop the mentality that it was ok to binge every day. A word of caution for others, there is too much speculation over sugar substitutes having links to cancer and other diseases. I would recommend the healthy approach with REAL foods that have REAL phytonutrients and fiber. If I have to, I will find a vegan dessert made with agave which releases into the blood system slower than refined sugar. I get enough of my vitamins from the whole fruit I eat so, I even stopped the orange juice in the morning and have my oatmeal with whole fruit or apple sauce. If I'm climbing the walls in that evening, after-dinner snack-time, I will opt for another bowl of oatmeal to fill me up. Eating an apple a couple hours before bed is usually the last thing I'll consume. I keep hydrated with water constantly and I enjoy a large salad with fresh lemon juice for lunch. I may throw in a healthy burrito on my gym days. I understand this isn't for 'everyone' - emotionally, it can feel like a lot. I have a love affair with fruits and vegetables and my healthy lifestyle so, it works for me. I wish everyone peace and happiness in their own journey. I hope the insight into mine will help someone.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary Thanksliving 2008

Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary Thanksliving 2008.

Thanksliving fund-raiser at the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary with Rory Freedman, Kris Carr and director Jenny Brown. Music - Just Like Heaven - Lullabye Renditions of The Cure by Rockabye Baby! Click through video for larger version on vimeo.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Meet Your Community (it's good for you!)

There is nothing I have found more empowering in my recent past than getting out and meeting my vegan community. If it's something you are passionate about and, maybe, feel isolated once in a while, you will do yourself a great service by mingling, workshopping, vacationing, etc. with your fellow vegans.

I just want to encourage the masses that if you have the opportunity to drive a little further, take a plane or get there however you choose - just do it. I had attended the Boston Vegetarian Festival a couple years in a row and, after being vegetarian for 13 years, sat in on a talk by Erik Marcus and began my transition to becoming vegan. That was 4 years ago. At the end of 2006, I was at the end of an intimate relationship and fell hard into depression for most of 2007. In June of that year, I took a 6-hour car ride with my parents to Vegetarian Summerfest ( for a weekend of workshops and sharing meals with the likes of Howard Lyman and Victoria Moran. It helped me through and gave a glimmer of hope in my darkness. The so-called 'celebrities' of the vegan movement seem to always make themselves available because they are passionate about the same things we are and that just serves to bring us all together and make us stronger. It made me feel less isolated in my vegan pursuit and was the catalyst to starting this blog and finding like-minded individuals in my own community. In May of this year, I took a vacation to Portland, Oregon and met up with vegan bodybuilder Robert Cheeke and other members of the vegan bodybuilding forum who were just wonderful, down-to-earth and incredibly inspiring people.

Today, I supported the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary by attending their annual Thanksliving fundraiser with a menu of the most amazing vegan appetizers, main course and dessert. The speakers included the always hysterical Dan Pirraro, Skinny Bitch Rory Freedman and Kris Carr of Crazy Sexy Cancer fame. Before we knew it, Kris was circling our table with video camera in tow and interviewing my mom, my dad and myself for the sanctuary. Dig that ... Kris Carr wanted to ask ME about my vegan journey. I'm sure I didn't say anything too profound but, it was just one of those cool vegan moments that waits for you to just show up. Kris has one of those beautiful energies that you are just happy to be part of for that fleeting moment.

So - take part in your own life. FEED your passions! If you are so passionate about veganism, honor it. Seek out other vegans even if it means taking a trip to meet them. It will be SO worth it - I promise.

PEACE & Vegan Love - David

Saturday, November 8, 2008


2 1/2 Cups cooked basmati rice
2 1/2 cups coconut milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
pinch of salt
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pistachios
1 1/2 tsp rosewater

Simmer rice, milk & sugar on low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 20 minutes, stir in cardamom and salt and simmer 5-10 more minutes until thick and creamy. Turn off heat and stir in pistachios and rosewater. Let cool before serving at room temperature or cool in refrigerator in covered dish.

Find Eric Markus' blog at Boston Vegetarian Festival is held toward the end of October, beginning of Novemeber. See more info at

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Vegan Chocolate Mint Cake!

1 1/2 C flour
1/2 C cocoa powder
1 1/2 C sugar
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2/3 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 C soy milk
1/4 C + 1 TBSP applesauce

Preheat oven 325. Mix flour, cocoa, sugar, salt, baking soda & powder. Mix in soymilk & applesauce. Pour batter evenly into 2 - 9inch cake pans - bake for 30 min.

Mint Frosting:
from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz & Terry Hope Romero
1/4 C non-hydrogenated shortening
1/4 C + 1 TBSP soymilk
3 C confectioners sugar [sift if clumpy]
1 tsp mint extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Blend ingredients with an electric mixer adding sugar and soymilk incrementally.

3/4 C soymilk
1/4 C margerine
12 oz choco chips

Microwave soymilk & margerine for 2 min. Pour in chips, stir until completely blended.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Thanksliving 2007 ~ Woodstock FAS

Hi everyone. Just getting around to updating some posts. This short clip is from the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary Thanksliving fund-raiser which took place on November 18, 2007. Enjoy!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary