Author Archives: Karina Descartin

Meatless Monday Feast

Meatless Monday Feast for Two Hungry Humans

Do you have 40 minutes tonight to prepare your dinner?

Meatless Monday noise is over. It’s not a fad any more. It’s now alive and well to benefit all of us mortals. Eating exclusively plants at least once a week for an awesome return1 is not so bad:

The EPIC study found that vegan and vegetarian groups had a 32 percent lower risk of hospitalization or death from heart disease.1

We try on most “normal” days to go meatless. Not just Mondays. Check out how we made this easy feast. No one will ask you, “Where do you get your protein?” on this one.

Meatless Monday Feast

First, the salad…

Home Pantry Salad, Raw and Fresh

Home Pantry Salad, Raw and Fresh

True to the wild spirit of our kitchen, we went with the flow on what we had when we opened the fridge and the pantry.

1 bunch Romaine lettuce, organic
1 large mango, organic
2 handfuls dried Goji berries, organic
1 handful raw walnuts, organic
2 TBSP Chia seeds, organic

Raw salad ingredients.

Raw salad ingredients.

1. Chop off the bottom that holds lettuce together.
2. Wash lettuce and mango thoroughly.
3. Chop lettuce in whatever way you wish and place in salad bowl.
4. Peel the mango and slice in cubes; place on top of the chopped lettuce.
5. Sprinkle Goji berries, walnuts, and chia seeds.
6. Mix when ready to eat.

Next, the tofu…

Garlic Tofu Pan Steak

Garlic Tofu Pan Steak

So what do we have here?

1 box Nasoya Extra Firm Tofu, non-GMO, organic
1 bulb garlic, organic
Extra virgin coconut oil, organic
Bragg’s Amino (use tamari or soy sauce, if you prefer)
Ground black pepper
Garlic powder
Dried basil leaves
Sesame seeds

Veggie steak ingredients.

Veggie steak ingredients.

1. Chop tofu in blocks as shown above.
2. Mince garlic.
3. Heat 1 TBSP extra virgin coconut oil. Set to low heat.
4. Saute garlic till light brown.
5. Sear tofu.
6. While one side of tofu is being seared, season top of each block with Bragg’s Amino sauce, garlic powder, and basil sprinkles.
7. Flip tofu and repeat #6.
8. Flip tofu each way until both sides are light brown.
9. When ready to serve, top each block with sautéed garlic and sprinkle sesame seeds.

Now, the sides… rice 

Steamed Herbed Quinoa and Lentils

Steamed Herbed Quinoa and Lentils

I love white rice. But at some point, I needed to switch to low glycemic eating. I feel better. I weigh better. So proudly, I have mastered some happy edits to “rice” when I feel like enjoying some.

2 cups quinoa, organic
2 cups yellow/red lentils
Garlic powder
Himalayan pink salt
Bragg 24 herb sprinkle, organic

Electric rice cooker

Steamed herbed quinoa and lentils ingredients

Steamed herbed quinoa and lentils ingredients

1. Measure and pour two cups of quinoa and 2 cups of yellow lentils into the rice cooker.
2. Add a pinch of Himalayan pink salt.
3. Sprinkle some garlic power and Bragg’s 24 herb sprinkle.
4. Mix everything.
5. Add eight cups of water—my soft rule for steaming quinoa and lentils in a standard electric rice cooker is a ratio of 1 grain:2 water versus the usual white rice rule of 1 white rice: 1 water.
6. Turn the electric rice cooker switch to “cook rice” and let it go through its normal cooking cycle.

Last but not the least…

Mmm Green Mush

Mmm Green Mush

Never underestimate the power of dark greens. I just love greens in juices, smoothies, and sides.

1 bunch kale pulp, organic (saved from green juice)
1 bunch spinach pulp, organic (saved from green juice)
1 clove garlic, leftover from the tofu pan
1 lb snow pea pods
Ground black pepper
2 TBSP flax seeds, organic, ground fresh before use
Sesame seeds

Green mush ingredients.

Green mush ingredients.

1. Wash all vegetables thoroughly.
2. Cut hard ends of snow pea pods.
3. Chop snow pea pods.
4. Using the same cast iron skillet where the tofu was seared, reuse (with some of the coconut oil and garlic bits left) for quickly sautéing pea pods and green pulp. Make sure the setting is on low heat.
5. Sprinkle ground black pepper to taste.
6. When ready to serve, sprinkle two tablespoons of ground flax seeds and sesame seeds.

And, after eating all that, we are now pleasantly full.

The tiny oranges below are a good finish. Of course, drink plenty of fresh filtered water.



I hope you get to make some of these fun stuff for Meatless Mondays.

For now, my new season Walking Dead iTunes download is ready. Our real Monday night dessert. 🙂

Oh and by the way, each dish has all the protein you need. So no worries, just enjoy!


  1. Bradbury KE, Crowe FL, Appleby PN, Schmidt JA, Travis RC, Key, TJ. Serum concentrations of cholesterol, apolipoprotein A-I and apolipoprotein B in a total of 1694 meat-eaters, fish-eaters, vegetarians and vegans. Eur J Clin Nutr. 2014;68:178-183.  [via Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine]



Groupie Tuesday—Matthieu Ricard

Gerry, myself, and Matthieu Ricard at the MD Anderson Cancer Center. Houston, TX. June 2008.

Gerry, myself, and Matthieu Ricard after his lecture at the MD Anderson Cancer Center. Houston, TX. June 2008.

Matthieu Ricard is called the “happiest person in the world.” He is a molecular geneticist, photographer, author, and monk.

On June 17th 2008, he visited Houston to give a talk on mindfulness meditation citing the research he co-authored with the University of Wisconsin’s Lutz, Greischar, Rawlings, and Davidson.

His talk later inspired me to pursue an aeromedical research project on mindful breathing as a possible fatigue countermeasure in long duration space flight.


Exploring Built Environments & Social Connection over Bukidnon & Saturday Yard Sales

Working on an independent study on Social Networks and Health, I guest posted at Orgcomplexity — an urban policy and complexity think tank.

So when Atlanta’s Mayor Kasim Reed said in his TED City 2.0 Talk that “cities are where hope meets the street,” I agree. But I have to add that, often times, hope meets mountain paths and dusty village roads far from the city. Hope does not care whether we settle in on rolling hills or urban sprawl. Perhaps then, we should ask, where does this hope come from? Perhaps it’s not from the city street or rural lane, in particular, but wherever we are.

I live in one of Ohio’s Rust Belt cities. I love living in its downtown. It is just the right size for me. I love walking its streets. These same streets connect at some point to 70+ miles of bike and hike trails (my heaven). I am conscious of the plentiful green space options that surround my home, most within walking and biking distance.

Green spaces and connectedness of streets is as much of a must for me as community safety. What’s more, Midwestern hospitality is true — all true.  And though I see plenty of empty buildings, cracked brick walls, and tired structures, I can also see and feel the effort being made to keep it all alive. I am hopeful. This city inspires me.

Since many cities are not compatible with healthy daily life (I have lived in some of them), I started to mindfully explore the nooks and crannies of my current neighborhood. I’m sharing some here today and will certainly show you more next time. Before you move on to your next read, I’d like to leave you with a question I have asked myself while working on this project.

Does your environment help you thrive or cause you to wilt away?

As humans, we create — we build. We may build structures — soaring art or hulking defense. As humans, we are responsive to our internal as well as our external environments. As humans, we have the propensity to connect, to share, to exchange, to receive, to give, to develop, to innovate, to thrive… or to wilt away.

Creative destruction in action: the Dayton Daily News annex along Ludlow Street is in the process of being demolished.The adjacent Schwind Building has already been imploded, with only rubble remaining. Student housing for a nearby community college is replacing nearly an entire block of vacant buildings. Just out of the photo on the left is the neoclassical facade of the main Daily News building, which is being incorporated into the new construction.Creative destruction in action: the Dayton Daily News annex along Ludlow Street is in the process of being demolished.The adjacent Schwind Building has already been imploded, with only rubble remaining. Student housing for a nearby community college is replacing nearly an entire block of vacant buildings. Just out of the photo on the left is the neoclassical facade of the main Daily News building, which is being incorporated into the new construction.

Point This Magical Scanner At Your Food And It Will Count The Calories

From a mindful eating stand point, I think counting calories is as outdated and boring as BMI. Nonetheless, data is data. And data is king (or queen). Real information in real time at your fingertips would be fantastic.

So will this make you toss away that Moleskin or delete that food logging app that you call your best friend next to DailyMile and Smart Coach?

Would you want one of these? I probably would.

Today there are wearable trackers available for just about every move you make and step you take. Almost. If there’s a missing link, it’s the ability to track all the food that enters a person’s mouth. Dieters are stuck tediously logging their eating habits.

TellSpec, a device that’s quickly raising money on Indiegogo, claims to be that missing link and more. With a wave of the hand, the device can reportedly calculate all the calories, ingredients, chemicals, and allergens in any given piece of food.

Remember Jack Andraka, the then 15 year old who built a very low cost pancreatic cancer sensor and lately (at 16!) a handheld raman spectrometer?

This new food scanner, being built by Isabel Hoffman and Stephen Watson, uses the same technology.

Raman spectrometers, which essentially shoot lasers at objects and evaluate their chemical composition, used to be big, bulky instruments that sat in laboratories. These days, it’s entirely possible to make a handheld version. Hoffman’s question was whether it could do what she was looking for.

Imagine that. The 21st century behavior of compulsively taking food photos will have an actual purpose beyond Facebook feed noise and free advertisements for restaurants.


Imagining the Post-Antibiotics Future

Is this era coming?

Great article by Maryn McKenna writing for Medium. She is a journalist and author specializing in public health, global health and food policy.

Every inappropriate prescription and insufficient dose given in medicine would kill weak bacteria but let the strong survive. (As would the micro-dose “growth promoters” given in agriculture, which were invented a few years after Fleming spoke.) Bacteria can produce another generation in as little as twenty minutes; with tens of thousands of generations a year working out survival strategies, the organisms would soon overwhelm the potent new drugs.

In September, Dr. Thomas Frieden, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, issued a blunt warning: “If we’re not careful, we will soon be in a post-antibiotic era. For some patients and some microbes, we are already there.”

Electric Juice, Let the Sunshine In!

Like a glass of fresh vegetable and fruit juice in the morning, I thought I’d start my first Wild Kitchen recipe with what I call the Electric Juice—

I bumped into Fully Raw Kristina’s orange-spinach-basil smoothie recipe many weeks ago. When I opened the fridge today, I did not have any fresh basil, I had mint!

The fun part is I am not really keen on following recipes to a T— except my mom’s and my sister’s dishes (it never goes right when I don’t!). But that’s for another day. 🙂

I hope you will be inspired and refreshed by this juice.

Electric Juice. Made first in the Wild Kitchen along Timeless Boulevard on 2 November 2013.

Electric Juice
Made first in the Wild Kitchen along Timeless Boulevard.

Doesn’t the bright green tinge remind you of those ‘radioactive’ pickle relish served in some places? Maybe I should not say that. 😉

Here’s what I used and what I did— by all means break free and modify:

A juicer.
Any of your favorite juicer will do. I use a Breville and love it.

4 large mixed oranges (Valencia and Navel), organic
1 bunch large spinach, organic
1 box mint, organic
1 bulb fennel, organic
1 large cucumber

Spinach, oranges, fennel, cucumber, and mint

Fresh spinach, oranges, fennel, cucumber, and mint.

After washing thoroughly, I peeled the oranges just enough to get the rind off and its white fascia to stay. Orange peel makes the juice bitter.

For the cucumbers, which have annoying wax, I used Seventh Generation free and clear natural dish soap to wash them off. You may also use white vinegar and water or a vegetable wash. I sliced off both ends after washing.

I also sliced off the bottom end of the fennel bulb.

Then, I put them all in the juicer— the spinach first (I separated their pulp after and used them in an omelet!). Then, in went the cucumber, the oranges, the fennel, and finally the mint. My juicer has a wide chute so it accommodates  whole oranges and fennel bulbs without too much slicing fuss.

Enjoy the sunshine!

p.s. Take it up a notch?

What is Wild Kitchen?

“Let food be thy medicine and let thy medicine be thy food.”
Hippocrates, c. 460 BC – c. 370 BC

My own health took a dramatic turn for the better when I ate more intelligently. My labs are good. I am plenty of pounds lighter. I have much more energy and vitality even as the years press on—I went from a non-runner to slow runner, I improved my swim in terms of endurance, distance, and technique (also helped along by a tri coach), I enjoy biking more and doing more distance than ever before.

So far, I have completed a half marathon (Austin Half), gazillion 5Ks, and two seasons of duathlons and short distance triathlons—I plan to keep going and increase distances at some point. This year, I also completed my first full marathon (Cincinnati Flying Pig), first 50K trail ultra (Another Dam 50K), and first Olympic distance tri (Tri Indy). I still have quite a way to go. And I am enjoying every bit of my journey.


Kitchen creations are part of this journey. I’d like to share some of them here. I lean towards low glycemic, mostly plant-based, occasional pescatarian, and rarely omni dishes. I like to keep the food I prepare in its most original form as possible. I like knowing where my ingredients come from.

My principle is we should feel free and wild (if I may) in our own kitchens. There are recipes that must be respected like family traditions and there are recipes who’s role is to inspire and get us excited—energized while creating them and made healthier after enjoying them.

When the recipe book says “cashews” with “powdered onions” and when you open the pantry you only see walnuts and garlic powder, be unafraid and be creative with what you have.

This is what Wild Kitchen is about.

In this section of my blog, I’m sharing our young family’s kitchen experiments that will someday, hopefully, become our own traditions. It’s my way of documenting our favorite meals, juices, and smoothies.

Gerry experiments in the kitchen too—his specialties are soups, smoothies, and vegetable sautés. From time to time, he will share his concoctions here.

Enjoy and stay healthy!

p.s. Remember, it’s your kitchen. No worries. Be free.

Sent from my Tricorder Part I

Like everybody else these days, I write many emails with my phone. Those who have received emails from me have most certainly noticed my signature reading, “Sent from my Tricorder” instead of “Sent from my iPhone.”

Not only is it an homage to Star Trek, I have been fantasizing about a real Tricorder for ages now. But it was not until I finally, and hesitantly, shelved my Nokia E71 for an iPhone 4 a couple of years ago that I seriously thought I would see it (or at least a version of) in my lifetime. I know it’s just around the corner. After all, around the corner nowadays mean leaps in technology in no time. Just sit for a Mac Keynote every so often and you’ll know what I mean. Yes, I drank the Apple Kool-Aid. 😉 Oh, lighten up.

As a medical doctor by training and a gadget geek, I dream of many things technologically for the future—specifically devices and knowledge that would enhance individuals’ capacity for self-care. The Tricorder dominates them all. The Tricorder will truly empower individuals, not just in high-income nations but in low- to middle- income as well. I can imagine its possibilities not only in remote medicine (remember the FAST ultrasound aboard the ISS?) but in our everyday lives. Notice I say individuals and not patients. This is how game-changing the real Tricorder will be. The Tricorder will largely contribute to realizing the advocacy efforts to bring patients’ health center stage—individuals as active participants in their own health. Just you wait.

The version in my head looks just like the beautiful (can you hear Jonathan Ive’s voice?) iPhone 5s I am holding right now. Probably 50-100x more powerful (it’s my blog, I can speculate my heart out!) with enhanced sensing via the camera or additional sensor capabilities. And to think, we are bowing like crazy at the iPhone 5s photo capabilities today. That’s why I was shocked at Qualcomm’s knee-jerk judgment about the 64-bit A7 chip. I was not surprised at the retraction shortly after.

Wired thinks it’s forward looking.

But more importantly (and unlike much of its competition), the handset is laying the groundwork for the smartphones of tomorrow. The 64-bit A7 chip and M7 coprocessor together mark a profound jump in device performance and efficiency.

As far as a smart phone’s potential as a vessel going forward—ready to house that precious near-future personal health device—the current iPhone has fingerprint ID (incredible!), slow motion video capture (fantastic!), and real-time panorama creation (amazing!). If it can do all these, it can surely be the high-processing platform for the Tricorder.

After all, there is a reason why the iPhone is the photo in our minds when we think about the non-fiction Tricorder. I am not alone. Just a couple of weeks ago, I caught this from the X-Prize Facebook Page:

iPhone = Tricorder?

iPhone = Tricorder?

Signs of the times, on my radar:

Mobisante, the smartphone ultrasound device approved by the US FDA in 2011.

Qualcomm Tricorder X-Prize, the contest that will deliver the real Tricorder.

Advances in fields such as artificial intelligence, wireless sensing, imaging diagnostics, lab-on-a-chip, and molecular biology will enable better choices in when, where, and how individuals receive care, thus making healthcare more convenient, affordable, and accessible. The winner will be the team whose technology most accurately diagnoses a set of diseases independent of a healthcare professional or facility, and that provides the best consumer user experience with their device.

Scanadu, which successfully funded a campaign on Indiegogo earlier this year, is my favorite. Gerry was on it and got us one. We did not quite make it to the ones with a bit more testing participation, but we made it in time to reserve a delivery on March 2014. I cannot wait.

There are plenty more signs of dramatic progress ahead… so stay tuned!

[Written: 11.01.2013]
[Revised: 11.17.2013]