I have certainly railed against processed foods as being a factor in long term ill health. In fact, most people have a negative view of processed foods, but they are still consumed in large quantities. It may be confusing what exactly constitutes a processed food, especially when you have to make purchasing decisions in the grocery store. This article does a great job of explaining what are processed foods and how to separate good ones from bad ones.
It's evident that apps, mini programs for portable computing devices and smart phones, are the new way to access, manage, and apply information. As growth for iPads, tablet PCs, and smart phones increases, so will the demand for great apps. For the first time, notebook PC sales dropped from the high growth rate of 10% per year down to 4% last year, being overtaken by tablet PCs like the iPad.
This means that if you have invested in one it might be easier to integrate software programs into your daily life. For example, you can carry and iPad where ever you go, even the kitchen, and use apps, whereas the notebook PC and desktop usually have a fixed position in the home.
One good way to use apps is to monitor your eating patterns and nutrition. PC Magazine has listed 10 nutrition apps in the article which it considers useful. They help monitor carbs and fats and other components of your meals. While many people lose weight when they become vegetarian or vegan, if your carbs intake is still high, losing weight may not come naturally with the diet. Perhaps these apps can be useful for this purpose.
More vegetables, please! This is a phrase being said in Germany more often now as demand for meat has decreased by 17% and the appetite for vegetables has increased by 35% from 1991 to 2011. This article from Fresh Plaza provides the statistics.
This is an amazing change considering that Germany is home to wiener schnitzel, bratwurst, bockwurst, and speck. It's good news and German cooking is equally as good at making veggie meals as it is at making it's famous meat dishes. Maybe someday we'll be able to sit in a Munich beer garden and savor a perfectly grilled faux bratwurst with our stein of vegan Löwenbräu. Sehr gut!
Adding a mixture of spices to meals boosts the nutritional value of the food. Using only salt to create flavor limits the added potential that spices provide. Spices have powerful effects on the body from reducing inflammation, improving cardiovascular health, boosting brain function, and aiding digestion.
In addition, spices add flavor and dimension to recipes and also help tie together various tastes on the plate. This article does a nice job of listing the benefits of 9 key spices, all available in the spice rack of the grocery store.
The link between diet and behavior in people is a fascinating research topic and, I believe, considerably underestimated. Food can have an impact on how we act and a vegan diet may have the ability to reduce aggression or violent tendencies. Research published not too long ago, and discussed in my blog post on March 6 (Can Vegan Diets Improve Mood?) suggested that vegetarians diets improved mood and reduced stress helping people cope better with life.
An even more compelling and recent study seems to corroborate this view point. Prisoners in a correctional facility in California were given the option to eat vegan food along with anger management counseling in a program called New Start. The inmates who opted for the vegan diet had dramatic changes in behavior. Compared to the inmates not in the program, instances of violence reduced significantly, recidivism rates drop to 2% compared to the state average of 90%, and attitude changes occurred so much that the inmates no longer formed associations based on racial groups.
While this study was based on a small sample size and may also have flaws in it's design (for example, maybe the inmates who joined the program were non-violent to begin with), it does seem to support the relationship between vegan diets and reductions in violent behavior which is what we need more of in our global community.
It took me a while to add kale to my diet. I found the texture a bit rough and the flavor to be not as sweet as cabbage which I like a lot in salads. However, I worked it into a few of my recipes and now I eat it often. Kale is the main ingredient in three recipes that I make regularly - kale almond cranberry salad, kale lima bean soup, and a veggie stir-fry that I serve over long grain brown rice.
The benefits of eating kale are too numerous to list in this post, but this article has uncovered research for yet one more - eye health!
One of my favorite new ingredients is coconut. I'm not talking about the dried coconut shreds that are sprinkled on ice cream desserts or blended into chocolate bars. In fact, I've never enjoyed that form of the fruit. Instead I've come to like and use more pure forms of it like coconut water, coconut milk, and coconut oil. When possible, I also really like fresh coconut flesh which sometimes accompanies coconut water beverages in restaurants.
Coconut water is now widely available in supermarkets and is being positioned as an alternative to sports drinks. I find it very refreshing and hydrating. It also has electrolytes which are good for your body. Lastly, it may also help overcome jet lag.
Coconut oil seems to have positive health properties. I buy the extra virgin unrefined version and drink two tablespoons each day or add it to smoothies. I'll also rub the oil on my face and hands. It's a key ingredient in most skin care products, so why not go straight to the source.
Coconut milk is great in curries or other stews. It can also make a nice dessert when warmed with a sweetener or even used to make salad dressings.
There are a variety of healthy ways to incorporate coconut products into meals or use it for body care. For this reason, it's called the 'tree of life' in many parts of the world where it grows naturally. Now it's possible to get it in many different forms at reasonable prices for consumption and practical use which is good news.
Most of all, just using coconut products makes me feel relaxed as if I were sitting on a white sand beach listening to the ocean waves crash against the shore. This is probably the best health benefit of all!
The tropics offer many other unique fruits with strong health benefits as discussed in this article.
The market for meatless products, according to this article in the LA Times, such as soy burgers is start to grow, up 2.4% to $636M. It's a positive trend and reflects the rising number of consumers who have meatless meals some of the time or all of the time. Some fast food chains, such as Subway and Burger King, have even added veggie meat options. As a result, consumers who want meatless meals have more options now than ever before making it easier to enjoy the vegan or vegetarian lifestyle.
Author Camille Lamb in this article, "Veganism is My Health Insurance," advocates a vegan diet as a way to stay healthy and even avoid catching colds. She also writes about people who avoid chronic disease even though they are predisposed to it through family history and genetics. This is a motivating testimonial for a plant-based diet.
Asparagus is one of my favorite vegetables and it's finally in season! Usually a pound of asparagus spears, when it's not in season, can be between $3.99 and $4.99. But now it's dropped below $2.00. The meal I make the most when it's in season is asparagus soup. It's the most efficient and flavorful way to eat a large quantity of the vegetable and reap the nutritious benefits. I use a lot of garlic and ginger, among other spices, and always try to go through 1 lb per week. I also add it to stir-fries with tofu and mushrooms.
According to the website, Worlds Healthiest Foods, asparagus should be eaten within 48 hours of purchase since the nutritional value declines rapidly once the vegetable is harvested. Fresh asparagus deliver anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and digestive track health benefits. Key vitamins and minerals are vitamin K, vitamin A, folate, iron, and vitamin B1.
So enjoy asparagus while it's in season and make some delicious healthy food!
Make Simple Vegan Meals