It's not surprising that many people salivate over meat. Images of meat on TV ads, billboards, websites, and in magazines entice people to consider meat for every meal of the day. The images are effective, especially when they are repeated many times. It would be nice to see vegetables portrayed with the same intensity. Most likely, it would have the same effect over time and generate more interest in eating veggies as a main dish. The latest research published in this article from Scientific American suggests that images of vegetables do result in a greater appetite for these ingredients.
When the UN Conference on Climate Change concluded in Durban, South Africa, last year, it was evident that the meeting produced very few actions to stop pollutants linked to climate change. Since then a grass roots movement formed, initiated by the U.S. and several other nations to try to limit short-lived pollutants. These pollutants last in the atmosphere from one week to a year, and, according to the article, account for 30% to 40% of global warming. Other countries involved are Canada, Mexico, Ghana, and Sweden. It's being run out of the UN's Environment Program. More countries are being recruited to join the movement. It seems like a good reaction to the slow pace of the UN climate change conference and deserves the support needed to succeed. Details of the climate reduction program are in this article from the NY Times.
New research suggests that purple potatoes are a healthy food which are packed with antioxidants. According to this article, they can also help lower blood pressure. Purple potatoes taste great in roasted vegetable recipes and are a nice alternative to regular potatoes which are the most consumed vegetable in the U.S. Purple potatoes aren't found in all grocery stores, but are usually available in natural grocery stores and farmer's markets. My favorite variety is the Peruvian purple potato which has a nice flavor, especially when roasted. Other purple foods such as eggplant, blueberries, and blackberries also contain antioxidants. So if you want to add a healthy ingredient to your cooking, try purple!
Most sodium doesn't come from your salt shaker! Sodium is used in so many prepared foods which, when consumed frequently, results in exceeding the daily sodium allowance recommended by dietitians for maintaining good health. Even when food doesn't taste salty, it still may contain large amounts of sodium.
The CDC recently published a report on the top 10 foods that contain the highest levels of sodium. The results are discussed in this article from the AP.
Bread is now the number one contributor to sodium in our diets based on the level of sodium per serving and the number of servings eaten on an average day by people in the study.This is not surprising. Packaged bread from supermarkets contain too much salt. Further, artisan breads from specialty stores or farmer's markets may also contain high levels of sodium. This includes bagels as well. Interestingly, some brands of potato chips and other snack foods we commonly associate with high salt levels were lower on the list than bread products.
So, try reducing the amount of bread eaten during the day. For example, if you have a sandwich, take the top slice off and eat it "open-faced". Same thing if you are making a veggie burger or soy dog. Based on the recommendations of many nutritionists, doing so can help improve long term health and also reduce your caloric intake. Make an honest effort to read labels on breads before you buy.
The empowering effect of vegan diets is proclaimed earnestly in this brilliant article by James McWilliams in the Atlantic. Evidence includes having tremendous vitality among vegans at more senior ages, conquering chronic illness, appearing much younger than one's age, and the ability to change and impact giant food companies which can lead to less damage to the environment.
All of this is possible by eating a wide range of veggies, fruit, and whole grains during the day which will supply the full amount of nutrition the body needs. The author starts the article with a long list of the vegetables and fruit he ate the day he wrote it. It's the most important message to consider - there is so much great food to eat and it doesn't have to include meat. Once you adopt a vegan diet, it's amazing how many different foods you'll start including in your meals which leads to more enjoyment, nutrients, energy, and the transformation to a more powerful life!
This article gives a nice overview of the vegan trend and highlights that, what was once an obscure diet regimen, is now reaching mainstream status. Being vegan or eating a vegan meal means eating vegetables which are healthy and less destructive to the environment to produce on a large scale. It also means expanding the reach of one's compassion and reducing, as much as possible, one's footprint on the environment. It's a positive way of life and it's nice to see more people learning about it. The article also discusses nutrition topics relevant to vegan diets.
I have to admit, when I first became a vegetarian, I faced three challenges. First, I had to create food I liked to replace my meat based meals. Second, I had to learn how to cook better, especially when it came to new ingredients such as tofu, mushrooms, leafy greens, and root vegetables. Third, and probably the more difficult part for me, I had to get used to chopping vegetables before cooking.
I'm not saying that I was lazy, but when you rely on instant cooking or fast food for most of your meals for such a long time, it's habit forming. Further, when your working life and commute home consume so much energy, it's hard to walk into the kitchen at night and start cooking and chopping veggies. Even though it takes minimal effort, it may not be the most fun thing to do after a long day.
You can overcome this once you start to enjoy the food you make and once you get used to and familiar with the vegetables. With a bit of practice and discipline, I realized that it didn't take that much time and it was very simple. Peeling carrots, potatoes, yams, and beets can be done each in 30 seconds and chopping them up takes just another 30 seconds. After that, you throw them into a pot with water or a skillet with some olive oil and you're cooking. When you get used to chopping veggies for salads like cabbage, tomatoes, cucumbers, and radishes, it goes so quick, you forget you are cooking.
With some discipline, I reduced the effort further by making larger batches of food, especially soups, so that I could store it in the fridge, heat it up in minutes after getting home, and start eating in less than 10 minutes. That is eating instantly and nutritiously at the same time!
Part of the process of enjoying to cook is getting to know the vegetables you use and what chopping techniques suit the meals and your taste. You start to become and expert and you also learn to pick out good veggies and fruit from the store which makes cooking even better.
In fact, after a while, once I started getting good at cooking with certain veggies, I actually wanted to explore new ones to see what they were like and how they handled in recipes and tasted in the end. So to some extent, it becomes a hobby, and it gave me new things to think about that benefited my experiences in the kitchen and health. So don't worry too much about having to chop veggies. It will lead to good cooking and good times! This article shares some similar experiences.
It's nice to see vegan cooking becoming more mainstream. If it helps people include a few more vegetable meals during the week, then it's a good thing. Here is a segment from NBC's Today Show where Mark Bittman of the NY Times demonstrates how to make vegan meals including bean burgers. It gives the recipe details as well.
Mr. Bittman also wrote a nice editorial on why meat consumption is dropping in the U.S. He covers a lot of points and statistics including a recent survey which reported that 50% of Americans are aware of the Meatless Monday campaign. He also mentions flexitarian diets which are semi vegetarian as an example of people reducing meat consumption. Here is the link to the article.
It seems logical to add a new category for the Nobel Prize - the environment. The dramatic issues facing the planet, including climate change, sustaining population growth, habitat and natural resource conservation need a champion and a focal point. One of the best ways to do this on a global scale is to award a Nobel Prize. It will bring recognition to the cause and the efforts to help along with more research and needed innovation. It may also help pressure governing bodies to be more proactive and collaborative. This article advocates creating the prize and provides some cogent arguments in support of it.
Make Simple Vegan Meals