Some brands include:
Theo Dark Chocolate Varieties
Alter Eco Dark Chocolate Varieties
Lately, I've added raw chocolate nibs to my snacking foods. They are kind of bitter, but still palatable. They are also loaded with phyto-nutrients according to recent reports. Raw cacao nibs are not the only chocolate product that is vegan. In fact most dark chocolate products are vegan since they don't contain added dairy products. Because of dark chocolate's potential health benefits the number of new brands on the market has increased! This article lists 10 vegan chocolate bar brands to try and enjoy!
Some brands include:
Theo Dark Chocolate Varieties
Alter Eco Dark Chocolate Varieties
A grain legume develops its dry seeds within a pod. In India, for reference, it's called pulses. The seeds are edible and comprise one of the best sources of protein for a vegan diet. Legumes include lentils, peas, black beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, and peanuts. They are also associated with high levels of fiber. They are low in saturated fat. Lentils have been consumed by various civilizations for as long as 13,000 years ago. When combining legumes with other vegetables, a full array of nutrients are delivered to the body assisting with the prevention of many chronic diseases. This article explains more about the benefits of six legumes.
Various ways I prepare legumes for regular consumption:
lentils - lentil soup, lentil quinoa salad, curried lentil stew, lentil chard soup
peas - tossed in stews and in salads
peanuts - peanut butter once in a while (no salt, no sugar variety)
black beans - black bean soup, tossed in salads, veggie burritos
chickpeas - added to vegetable soups, homemade hummus, curry stews
kidney beans - three bean chili
It's always get as a vegan to audit your diet once in a while to make sure you're getting the proper nutrition. Even vegans can succumb to the lures of junk food, especially with so many new food products on the market. It's definitely happened to me before. However, with a well balance plant-based diet, you can get almost all of the nutrients you need except for B12.
This article provides a nice summary of five key nutrients needed and how to get them including protein, omega-3s, calcium, iron, and vitamin B12. Lately my source for B12 has been nutritional yeast blended into a morning smoothie. In the past, it has come from fortified soy-milk.
My protein requirement comes from tofu, lentils, black beans, quinoa, and mushrooms. I also eat plenty of nuts such as pistachios and almonds. For omega-3s, I add oils to my smoothies such as flaxseed oil and hemp oil and I also put in chia seeds which I buy in bulk from the supermarket. I get iron from a variety of foods but a lot from lentils and leafy greens. Lastly, my calcium comes from fortified tofu, leafy greens, and coconut milk.
It's important to eat a wide variety of plant-based foods since they will all contribute in some way to a balanced and healthy body.
Nowadays, there are more ways to go green than one can probably think of. Planning on making a move in the near future? Well, now you can rent reusable plastic moving boxes instead of using cardboard ones. It's more ecological, saves space, and they're easy to pack. This article talks about this emerging product.
Companies that offer green boxes are RentaGreenBox, BungoBox, FrogBox, and Bin-It. I've made several moves and have always used cardboard boxes. But it's nice to know that green boxes are now available for the next one!
Toronto was the first city I visited where I felt there was a visible and vibrant vegan culture. There are many restaurant options some of which are famous for their cuisine. Even the hot dog carts on the street sell veggie dogs!
My first dining experience was a vegetarian buffet style restaurant called Commensal which had a wide variety of vegan options. It was a delight to eat there and want to go back to try the eateries in this video about dining veg in Toronto.
The USDA announced that the number of farmers markets grew almost 10% over last year. In fact the number has been growing for the last 18 years. In 1994, there were 1,744 farmers markets in the US and now there are 7,864 according to this press release from the USDA. The top states include California, New York, Massachusetts, and Michigan.
It's great to see the number growing. This means more access in more communities for fresh produce. Many markets offer a large portion of their produce as organic meaning no pesticides used to grow the vegetables and fruit. It also means a wider variety of vegetables and fruit compared to what you might find in the grocery store. It goes with out saying that your purchases help local farmers, too!
My experiences with farmers markets have been overwhelmingly positive. The organic vegetables look great and taste fresh. Some of the best meals I've made have been based on ingredients from farmers markets. Some of the unique items I've purchased include purple bell peppers, purple Peruvian potatoes, purple kale, super fresh basil, amazing asparagus, delicious cherries, blueberries and raspberries, and countless types of unique mushrooms and eggplant. Many markets I've been to have great vegan baked goods as well including bread, pies, and cookies.
So if you're interested in cooking with fresh ingredients which will give your meals the extra edge, try visiting a farmers market and see what they have! Next week is Farmers Markets Week hosted by the USDA and a national listing of registered markets can be found at www.farmersmarkets.usda.gov.
Dr. David Katz writes in this article for the Huffington Post that the patterns of healthy eating are well defined, based on evidence, and have profound health benefits. The healthy eating pattern is to consume "foods close to nature, minimally processed, mostly plants." Further this pattern is correlated to "less sugar intake, less sodium intake, and lower calorie intake."
Many people avoid healthy eating because the food may not taste as good as what they are used to, foods high in sodium, sugar, and calories, all of which, when taken in excess, can be harmful to health in the long term.
But, as the article explains, tastes buds can adapt. In fact, taste buds can learn to enjoy healthy unprocessed foods in time by eating more natural home-cooked meals. I've experienced this myself. I definitely ate a lot of processed foods before becoming vegan. Even when I started out as a vegetarian before becoming vegan, I ate veggie pizzas, garden burgers from the store, and a lot of other food products that were quick to prepare or just convenient. After a while, I noticed that I wasn't feeling that great, even though I was living primarily on a plant-based diet.
They key was to reduce sodium and sugars. Lately, I've stopped buying processed convenience foods. Some of the ingredients I buy for cooking are processed, such as tofu, coconut milk, tomato products, olive oil, and vinegar. But consuming an entire processed meal is something I avoid and it made me feel better. Further, by reducing salt slowly and learning to enjoy the natural flavor of foods, I didn't miss sodium and realized that it's a very harsh seasoning ingredient. The same applies to sugar. One could contend that my journey to becoming vegan was part of a bigger journey to eliminate salt and sugar from my diet which may be one of the best health habits.
When you reduce the amount of salt and sugar, you actually start eating less because the food becomes less addicting. Salt and sugar encourage you to take another bite quickly, even when your stomach has been filled. So weight control becomes easier to accomplish when these two ingredients are removed.
With all of this, it's important to understand that the human body adapts. So why not have it adapt to a healthy way of eating. It will love you back for doing so!
One of the best ways to get used to eating more vegetables in your meals is to chop them up into small bite-size pieces. It makes it easier to get used to the flavor, to chew, and to combine more veggies and other ingredients together for more complex flavors. For instance, when making a kale salad, chop the leafs as finely as possible so they almost look like confetti and then add the dressing. The dressing will combine nicely with the kale and produce a manageable salad for those unused to the leafy green's flavor.
Studies suggest that eating foods in bite-sized portions is more filling and rewarding for both humans and animals. One idea is that food cut into smaller pieces may actually seem like a larger quantity than the food mass as a whole which triggers greater feelings of reward. The study is explained more clearly in this article. So it's possible that eating veggies in this manner will make them more palatable and satiating as well.
Ruby Roth wrote a children's book, titled 'Vegan is Love', which is about being vegan. It's publication resulted in both support and criticism. Regardless of the position one may have about the message in the book, she has some very sophisticated ideas about the commodity status of animals and how we become desensitized to animal suffering at an early age.
"Most children's books and movies are anthropomorphic and I think that detaches us from animals, because we automatically think of them with fictional attributes. It's the same with zoos and circuses, which they claim sensitize people to animals when it actually does the opposite; it desensitizes us to the use and abuse of animals."
In my opinion, we rarely see the abuse of animals and, instead, only see the final products whether it be entertainment or palatable food. It makes it far more easy to ignore or overlook the process by which the final goods or services were delivered especially when they produce happiness or re-enforce life-long habits.
There are many other points made by Roth which are important to vegans and those who are seeking to embrace or teach greater compassion for the treatment of animals in this article from the Huffington Post.
This ancient Chinese flavor combination, white pepper and vinegar, blends to make a wonderful warming soup and ready in 15 minutes. The white pepper creates a warming sensation and the vinegar makes the sour flavor. Enjoy this soup for a peaceful lunch or a calming dinner in the early evening.
All you need
4 Cups water
2 Tsp soy sauce, reduced sodium version
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
½ to 1 tsp ground white pepper
½ Cup corn, frozen or canned
½ Cup peas, frozen or canned
½ Cup extra firm tofu, chopped into small squares
½ Cup mushrooms, thinly chopped
¼ Cup red bell pepper
1 Tbsp tomato sauce, no salt added
½ Tsp garlic powder
What you do
Add all ingredients to 2 qt pot and bring to boil
Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes
Remove from heat, let cool, and serve
Things to consider
1 Tsp of ground white pepper may be too strong for some, so start with ½ tsp and increase the quantity as desired.
This soup is another base to add any type of vegetable which you like including thinly sliced carrots, cabbage, broccoli, or even rice or glass noodles.
For a chili hot flavor, add thin strips of red chilies such as Fresno chilies.
Garnish with chopped green onions.
Good to know
Servings – 4
Different Vegetables Consumed - 4
Total Time – 15 minutes
Prep Time - 5 minutes
Cook Time - 10 minutes
Make Simple Vegan Meals