food combinations, and a focus on well-being and health!
Xin Nian Kuai Le -- Gong Xi Fa Cai -- Gong Hey Fat Choy -- Chuc Mung Nam Moi
Wishing a wonderful plant-based lunar new year to all! Make it a year of trying new ingredients,
food combinations, and a focus on well-being and health!
Xin Nian Kuai Le -- Gong Xi Fa Cai -- Gong Hey Fat Choy -- Chuc Mung Nam Moi
When you look at the nutrient composition of almost all vegetables and fruits, it appears that they are all super foods! For example, just look at the vitamins and minerals in 100 grams of raw spinach. It's hard to argue that this isn't super for your body. Then imagine when you combine spinach with other vegetables like tomatoes, onions, cucumbers, sesame seeds, strawberries, etc. The interactions of all of these nutrients working together with the cells in your body is really when the adjective "super" comes into play.
Everyone enjoys whole plant-based foods differently, though, and the super foods are best described as the ones that work for you. They are the one you eat regularly, without even thinking about it. They give you energy and power, and your body processes them efficiently. They are also the ones that you can cook perfectly for yourself or others all of the time and never prepare a bad batch! I recently thought about my super foods and came up with a partial list of some of my favorites.
So there you have it! Of course, I eat many more vegetables and fruits on a daily basis than this list (chard, yams, radishes, mushrooms, tomatoes, etc.) covers, but if I had to go to the store right now and wanted to stock up on my key ingredients, I'd certainly add these to my shopping cart!
Quintessence restaurant in NYC serves raw, organic, vegan cuisine and has been doing so since 1999 when owners Mun Chan and Raw Chef Dan opened the establishment in their former recording studio in the East Village. The restaurant is one of the pioneers of the raw food movement, but its focus is not just on serving great vegan food, but also creating a baseline for well-being that includes physical and emotional health.
I discovered Quintessence during my week in Manhattan and Brooklyn using the Treatmo app which displayed images of the amazing vegan desserts they offered. Raw Chef Dan has tremendous creativity when it comes to crafting vegan food and it was a treat to try out their menu items, including two different preparations of the superfood, chia, and an invigorating butternut squash soup with a chai latte!
Quintessence has also prepared a raw, vegan Valentine's Day 2015 menu which includes Potato Leek Soup, Sweet Surprise Watercress Shiso Salad, Stuffed Shitake, Pappardelle in Safron Cream Sauce, and Chocolate Mousse Pie. You can watch Raw Chef Dan prepare the Potato Leek Soup in this video:
So, the next time you are in Manhattan and near the East Village, try out Quintessence restaurant and discover an oasis of gourmet vegan dining!
Vegans enjoy Valentine's Day just as much as anyone and even more so now because there are plenty of amazing sweets that are free of dairy or eggs. In fact, you may find that the flavor is even better. This article from Treatmo lists five wonderful treats from merchants in NYC that are vegan and replace common sweets with which you'll be familiar in the dessert world, including this organic raw chocolate from Fine & Raw. Enjoy!
P.S. If you have a vegan Valentine in Manhattan or Brooklyn, you can send them a voucher to pick-up this treat at their convenience through the Treatmo app with just a couple taps! Just another way to keep your fondest vegan in good spirits from a distance!
As someone who cooks a lot, I can't help but get excited about new ingredients. On a recent trip to NYC, and while using the new iPhone treating app, Treatmo, I visited the MatchaBar in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood. I visited with some friends and was treated to matcha tea for the first time. Matcha is a powder made of ground tea leaves which can be whisked with hot water or steamed like an espresso drink with vegan milk options, to produce an emerald beverage for sipping.
Originating from ancient Japan, the tea has many rich health benefits mainly from the anti-oxidant capacity of original tea leaves. Not only that, it is a nourishing drink and brings comfort and a sense of well-being.
After a couple sips, I found the flavor to be similar to standard steeped-leaf green tea. But matcha was heartier and had a calming effect. I did notice a slight caffeine kick, but much later suggesting a more balanced energy rather than a quick high from coffee.
All in all, I liked it and as a vegan who doesn't drink coffee regularly, it is the kind of place I would enjoy building into my morning ritual.
The matcha kits sold at MatchaBar also look tempting as a way to enjoy it frequently by making it at home. I can also see possibilities for introducing matcha as an ingredient to my cooking. Stay tuned! You may see some matcha in my recipes coming soon...
Becoming familiar with and reducing exposure to GMO ingredients has grown in popularity. In order to be knowledgeable about GMO products one must have an understanding of the food labels being used today and their meaning or definition. Foremost is to understand that GE – Genetically Engineering or Genetic Modifications to food (GM) - involves a laboratory developed process of inserting artificially modified genes into the DNA of food crops or animals. The result of this process is Genetically Modified Organisms or GMO.
According to the FDA, Genetic Engineering is the name for certain methods that scientists use to introduce new traits or characteristics to an organism. For example, plants may be genetically engineered to produce characteristics that enhance the growth or nutritional profile of food crops. While these technique are sometimes referred to as "genetic modification," FDA considers “genetic engineering” to be the more precise term. Food and food ingredients from genetically engineered plants were introduced into our food supply in the 1990s.
GMOs can be engineered using genes from bacteria, viruses, insects, animals or humans. The USDA does not require the labeling of these foods. Europe and other industrialized countries, on the other hand, are stringent in labeling their foods.
There is a controversy over GMO foods, as to whether or not they are healthy for consumption. There is a wide divergence of opinions on this. If you wish to avoid GMO foods until you feel greater surety as to their safety, there are alternatives.
To help you, the following information describes what constitutes genetically modified products and the difference between GMOs and ‘organic’ food.
Tips for Avoiding GMO Crops:
Buy Organic – Certified Organic Products are not allowed to contain any GMOs. Look for the symbol on the packaging. Products labeled as ‘100% Organic’, ‘Organic’, or ‘made with organic ingredients’ are not allowed to contain GMOs. Note that products labeled ‘made with organic ingredients’ require only 70% of the ingredients to be organic.
Look for Non-GMO Labels – Some labels state non-GMO. Others spell out made without genetically modified materials. You may find only a single ingredient labeled as non-GMO, such as soy lecithin.
Avoid At-Risk Ingredients – Most of the GM ingredients are made from corn, soybeans, canola, and cottonseed oils used in processed foods.
Certified Organic Foods - Only buy processed food, frozen food or canned food that are labeled as ‘Organic’, ‘100 % Organic’, or made with organic ingredients. Check for the certification (symbols) on the packages.
Sometimes a good way to encourage people to try vegan food is to invite them to a vegan meal at a restaurant or to taste a vegan cookie at a bakery. Trying well prepared food in a fun and relaxing environment can be a positive way to introduce a new style of cooking.
A new app called Treatmo does just that! Launched this week for iPhone and iPad, it let's users find restaurants in the app, choose a food item from the restaurant's menu, and then send a voucher to a friend in the app so they can redeem it at the restaurant for that item.
Basically, it is a way of treating friends to a meal at a restaurant, coffee shop, juice bar, or bakery through your mobile phone without having to be there. The friend receives the notification and goes to the restaurant at their convenience to enjoy the meal without having to pay for it.
The app is starting out in New York City and already lists a vegan restaurant, juice bar, and gluten free bakery with vegan options. Not all restaurants will be vegan, but there is no limit to how many can join. So if you want to encourage a friend to experience vegan food or if you know a vegan who you'd like to treat with food they can eat, this app makes it easy to do so! The app also has a social networking feature so you can chat about the experience!
If you can't find a restaurant near you or your friends, you can request that restaurant to be added to the app or ask that restaurant if they would sign-up on the website. As the user base and vegan restaurant list grows, it will be possible to share vegan food with friends and family who live anywhere in the world! You can read more about the app on its app page (click button below) or on its website: treatmo.com
I have a great blender at home and enjoy making fruit and vegetable smoothies. It is fun to cram as many different ingredients as possible into the mixture and getting a burst of nutrients. Sometimes, it feels like a fine art when creating the perfect puree of drinkable food even down to the last sesame seed, slice of fresh ginger, squeeze of lime juice, teaspoon of kelp powder, or handful of goji berries.
However, most nutritionists recommend chewing your food rather than drinking it. According to this article, juicing or making smoothies may increase our calorie intake unnecessarily, cause spikes in blood sugar, reduce the amount of nutrients you might get from chewing the food - especially from the leafy green vegetables, and may also change the nutrient composition of the food in a less healthy way.
While it never hurts to ingest a huge portion of fruits and vegetables in any form, especially when eating healthy due to time and convenience is difficult for many, making the super smoothie or a spa quality juice should probably be more for a treat than for a regular meal replacement. This helpful article talks about similar considerations and gives advice for people who do juice cleanses or juice regularly.
The focus on the consumption of saturated fat and its impact on human health has produced many studies. Lately a couple studies have concluded that changing the levels of saturated fat in one's diet has no health impact, especially with regard to lowering saturated fat as a way to reduce health risks including heart disease and cancer. Every study has some value, but learning how to scrutinize the conclusions and associated headlines can make one more immune to snap judgements about a specific nutrient's role in health.
Saturated fat mainly comes from animal-based ingredients such as meat and dairy products. What we see in many of these studies, going all the way back to the Harvard Nurses's Study in the 70's and 80's, is that while saturated fat was reduced in the diet to measure the health impact, the proportion of animal-based and plant-based ingredients in the diet remained unchanged. Among many participants, instead of eating plant-based food to reduce saturated fat intake, they simply ate leaner meats. Since the rate of chronic illness did not decrease, it was concluded that saturated fat intake was not correlated with health.
It is the position of many plant-based nutritionists and scientists that consuming any type of animal-based food, whether low or high in saturated fat, promotes chronic illness, including heart disease and cancer. In fact, according to Dr. T. Colin Campbell of The China Study, in this paper, the disease promotion may be linked more to animal proteins than to other nutrients. However, Dr. Esselstyn from the Cleveland Clinic has shown that removing all saturated fat from the diet can reverse heart disease.
In order to see health improvements or a decrease in chronic illness risk, those in the studies should have increased the amount of plant-based ingredients in their diet and focused less on the single nutrient of saturated fat. Plant-based ingredients act to fight and reduce disease risk and are the best known source for moving the needle when it comes to positive health changes. Further, by focusing on increasing the proportion of plant-based to animal-based ingredients in the diet, if not eliminating animal-based ingredients altogether, study participants and the general population would lessen the importance of any single nutrient in the diet, called reductionism, and be more focused on providing their systems with a wide range of complex carbohydrates, anti-oxidants, phytonutrients, and fiber, which act in unison to keep us healthy.
As more studies are conducted and specific nutrients such as saturated fat make headlines, knowing how to analyze the results can go a long way to making 'wholistic' health decisions which have viable and positive long term benefits.
Make Simple Vegan Meals