If there is one type of ingredient that powered my transition to a vegan diet and helped me enjoy and sustain it, it has been legumes. I cook them every week in a variety of recipes and always find new ways to use them. Legumes are plants that grow its fruit or seed inside a pod - like a pea pod. My three favorites are lentils (especially red lentils), yellow split peas, and garbanzo beans.
What makes these ones so great is that they have large amounts of protein and fiber along with low fat levels. For example, in 3.5oz or 100g they have:
It's hard to beat this nutritional combination. They are good for energy, digestive health, and weight control. Try them out in soups, added to salads, and made into stews or dahl type meals. Red lentils will cook in 10 minutes making them convenient for quick meals. If you are considering a vegan diet or looking to try new plant-based proteins, try them out with various spices and see if they have the potential to become a regular addition to your diet!
When I talk about vegan diets and how your life may change, one thing is for sure - you most likely will be chopping veggies a lot! While pre-cut vegetable products exists and make sense for some veggies, more than likely, you'll still be chopping some ingredients when cooking a good meal.
The good news is that you'll be burning calories, equivalent to walking up three flights of stairs. This article from Science 2.0 compares activities by how much calories they burn. So if you have a busy life which almost everyone does, and it's hard to make time to exercise, try chopping your own veggies when cooking a meal - you'll get a decent workout!
The study of saving memory as one ages is now focusing on diet. Dr. Neil Barnard is the author of a book analyzing the effects of certain foods on brain function and longevity and some of the research is presented in the video below. He notes that saturated fats from animal ingredients can accelerate the deterioration of memory and recommends replacing meat and dairy products with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and beans which have almost no saturated fat per this article.
For brain protection he also recommends reducing cholesterol and eating nuts which are high in Vitamin E, an antioxidant that lowers the risk of the disease. Finally, he recommends getting plenty of exercise which reverses the shrinking of the brain. By focusing on diet and exercise, we can avoid pills and the diseases they were developed to fight!
Watch Protect Your Memory With Dr. Neal Barnard - Preview on PBS. See more from pbs.
The NIH published a new study in February 2013 relating diet to cancer protection. After studying 69,120 participants it reached the following conclusion:
Vegetarian diets seem to confer protection against cancer. Impact: Vegan diet seems to confer lower risk for overall and female-specific cancer than other dietary patterns. The lacto-ovo-vegetarian diets seem to confer protection from cancers of the gastrointestinal tract. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev; 22(2); 286-94. ©2012 AACR.
Cancer is the second leading cause of mortality in the US and dietary factors account for 30% of all cancers in Western countries. By improving one's diet and adding more vegan meals during the week or all the time, the possibility of avoiding chronic illness may go up according to this research.
A study by the NIH released in January 2013 found that participants who received nutrition therapy or education were "about twice as likely to achieve a clinically significant reduction in weight" than those who didn't receive it. This is a useful finding since it demonstrates that just knowing about nutrition may help you transition to a healthier diet with the benefit of improved weight control.
It illustrates that when people understand what types of foods benefit them and which ones hurt them, they are more likely to choose the ones that are good for them. When I became a vegan, it forced me to learn more about nutrition and the value of certain foods in one's diet. Once I had the knowledge, I did make better decisions and start to have more control over my weight and appearance. However you learn about nutrition, either on your own or with an RD, it will increase your chances of eating healthier and staying fit!
Vegetable oils are an ingredient which I've been thinking about lately. Here's why. I grew up on olive oil and have used it extensively when I switched to a vegan diet. My salad dressings are all olive oil based. I also use it to roast vegetables and as a starter four soups and stews, usually to saute onions and bell peppers. I also use it in baking. As an alternative, I've tried avocado oil as well.
After reading 'Forks Over Knives' by Campbell and Esselstyn, I picked up that processed oils can potentially damage the lining of blood vessels and cause plaque build-up. This happens also with dairy and meat, but it was new to me that processed vegetable oils can have the same impact.
So, I've slowly been reducing the usage of vegetable oils in my recipes. At first, like all things I'm accustomed to eating, I didn't think I could live without it, especially when you read that it's a main ingredient in Mediterranean diets which have been shown to promote longevity. However, I do find that I can enjoy my meals without it. I no longer use olive oil as a starter for soups and am switching to water as a base for stir-fries and some stews. I may experiment without it on roasted vegetables and peppers to see what happens. I still use it lightly on salad dressings but looking to develop recipes with other ingredients.
All in all, I'm not ready to completely give up olive oil in my cooking but it has been fun and useful to try my recipes without it and still produce great flavor and enjoyable food! Most likely this will be a important trend in my cooking.
A recent study done in Europe found that consuming processed meat contributed to ill health, especially an increase in instances of cardiovascular disease. The study tracked close to 500,000 people. While it was hard to isolate the exact effects of consuming processed meat when all other lifestyle activities were taken into account, the research contend that the large sample size allowed them to make some statistically significant findings.
Processed foods of any kind, especially meat products, tend to have more sodium and saturated fats than fresh food. Even non-meat processed food can be harmful if eaten regularly. By eating freshly cooked food with nutritious ingredients, the health risks from processed meals can be avoided.
When shopping for bell peppers, many stores will carry a variety of colors including green, red, yellow and orange. I've even seen purple bell peppers. Red bell peppers are a more mature version of the other colors and has some nice nutritional characteristics. Green bell peppers have 340 mcg of beta-carotene per cup while red bell peppers have 840 mcg. Also, green bell peppers have 12% of the daily value of Vitamin A while red bell peppers have 105%. Red bell peppers also have more Vitamin C than green bell peppers [Source]. Beta-carotene is an anti-oxidant described here:
Beta-carotene is one of a group of red, orange, and yellow pigments called carotenoids. Beta-carotene and other carotenoids provide approximately 50% of the vitamin A needed in the American diet. Beta-carotene can be found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. It can also be made in a laboratory.
So if you haven't tried cooking with bell peppers before, try adding them to your stir-fries, salads, soups, or roasted vegetable recipes. If you're used to using green bell peppers, try mixing in red bell peppers and check out the flavor. They provide nice color and taste and deliver a good dose vitamins and anti-oxidants.
eBook now available!
Tears in the Rainforest Book Trailer
Publisher: Koehler Books - Imprint of Morgan James
Genres: Fiction, Action / Adventure, Romance
Order Options: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell's Books, Indie Bound
Chris Johnson, U.S. Customs Agent based in Seattle is given a demanding assignment in Malaysia. The country needs assistance in slowing the fast growing trade in illegal smuggling of exotic animals and protection of endangered species that are rapidly being wiped out.
With the assistance of Suhaimi Wahab, Malaysia’s Wildlife Crime Unit, and a defiant undercover agent named May Ling Kang, Chris becomes embroiled in the smuggling activities of ruthless gangs who use murder, kidnapping and corruption to enforce their business and to keep money and trade flowing.
Can Johnson save exotic species from extinction and stop the smuggling? Will the rainforests survive the slaughter? Read this exciting novel for insight into the dark world of endangered animal smuggling.
Make Simple Vegan Meals