Category Archives: Vegan Nutrition

How to make sure you’re getting the best out of your plant-based diet

Tomatoes!

Tomatoes-Beautiful
Beautiful homegrown tomatoes!

Tomatoes are a great addition to salads, sauces, dips, chows and chokas.

They even make a great base for soups and are often boiled, stewed, roasted or eaten raw.

These fruits (yes, fruits) are very versatile and can even be used in desserts.

Tomatoes are excellent sources of Vitamins A and C and also contain a key antioxidant called lycopene.  Studies have shown that lycopene may significantly lower the risk of prostate cancer.

Here’s a quick and easy recipe to enjoy the benefits of tomatoes.

Ingredients

2 cups chopped tomatoes
1 teaspoon fresh squeezed lime (optional)
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, grated
1 teaspoon minced chive
sea salt to taste

METHOD:

– Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.

– Serve and enjoy!

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Oatmeal – What Else is New?

By now, you have probably heard about all of the great health benefits of Oatmeal: that it may help lower your cholesterol, or that it may lower your risk for heart disease.

You probably also know that it contains B vitamins that are essential to Vegan Nutrition.

But, what you would like to know is what you can do to jazz up that oatmeal!

Here’s some great ideas that will not only add some life into your Oatmeal but even your kids will love!

New Ways to Have Oatmeal:

1. Breakfast Parfaits – layered healthy goodness 

oatmeal breakfast parfait
oatmeal breakfast parfait

Start off with a fruit topping at the bottom, then add a layer oatmeal and pumpkin or sunflower seeds.  Keep alternating until you reach the top of your dish.

The great thing about this Oatmeal Breakfast Parfait is that you can start with any fruit you like and use almonds, pecans, etc.

 

 

2. Super simple cereal bowl

Pour the desired amount of oatmeal into a cereal bowl.  Stir in bananas and top off with toasted walnuts for a super simple Banana Walnut crunch.

Or, swap the Banana and Walnut for Cranberry and Almond and you will have yourself a satisfying Cranberry Almond crunch.  If you’re feeling adventurous, toss in some chopped dates.

Yum!

The Salty Truth – Fast Food in Trinidad

The Salty Truth About Fast Food in Trinidad

If you regularly eat at fast food outlets, chances are that you are consuming way too much salt.

If you are frequently consuming too much salt, then you are likely setting yourself up to develop hypertension and chronic kidney disease.

Studies have shown that the recommended daily allowance for sodium in healthy adults should be no more than 2,300mg per day.  However, if you are elderly, hypertensive, diabetic, or have chronic kidney disease that amount is significantly lowered to 1,500mg.

So, just how much sodium is in your fast food?

In recent times, major fast food chains such as Mc Donald’s and KFC have posted the nutritional content of their products online and also have them prominently displayed in their restaurants.

Let’s look at some of their facts.

Mc Donald’s

According to Mc Donald’s nutrition facts, one portion of small French fries has a sodium content of about 160mg.  That doesn’t sound half bad, right?  Only if all you are going to consume is one small portion of French fries.

The average person tends to upsize their portion to Large which yields 350mg.  Throw in a Big Mac (970mg) and together you have a combined total of 1,320mg of sodium in one meal and you haven’t eaten dinner yet!

Burger King

Burger King is not that far behind, if not ahead, of the competition.  A Whopper ® Sandwich, without mayo and cheese, can have as much as 840mg of sodium.  Slap on some mayo and a slice of cheese and you could be consuming a whopping 1,380mg of sodium in one sandwich.

If you like to live dangerously you could throw in a large portion of their French fries (710mg) and you’re looking at 2,090mg of sodium.

KFC

And now, KFC!

Sorry folks, I have to do this.

One individual side of KFC wedges can have as much as 810mg of sodium.  And the meat? One breast piece (Original recipe) alone yields 1,130mg of sodium.  Fly in a whole wing (Original recipe) and you just bought yourself a 2,390mg sodium “Death Pack”.

 

How do I cut back?

1. Try swapping your fries/wedges for a salad, without dressing and without cheese

2. Make your wedges and/or fries at home.  You will not only cut down on the sodium content in your potato snack but you’ll also cut back on fat as well.  Click here for an Easy Crisp Golden Potato Rounds recipe.

3. Avoid fast food meats.  These are often over-processed, over-salted and over-saturated with fats.

Soursop

What is Soursop?

Soursop is a fruit native to South America and the Caribbean.  In some parts it is also known as Graviola.

What does it look like?

On the outside, Soursop has thick green, spiny skin and is often somewhat oval in shape.

soursop - outer skin
Soursop – outer-skin

When cut open, it’s flesh is white and fibrous and has multiple large black seeds.  The inside core resembles that of a pineapple.

 

 

soursop - inside
Soursop – what it looks like inside

What does it taste like?

 

It’s taste is somewhat reminiscent of citrus while at the same time having a pleasant rich and creamy flavor of a coconut.

Why should I eat it?

Not only does Soursop taste good, it’s also rich in Vitamin C and dietary fiber.

How can I use it?

After peeling off the skin, cut the fruit in half lengthways.  Take the core out and using your fingers or a spoon remove the black seeds.

The remaining flesh can be chopped up and placed into a bowl or serving dish and eaten as is.  It can also be blended with juices to make punches, smoothies or fruit bars.

Click here for simple Soursop punch recipe.

Quinoa – The Complete Protein

What is Quinoa?

Quinoa is a small grain food that was originally popular in South America.  It was commonly referred to as “the mother grain” among the Incas.

What does it look like?

Quinoa has the appearance of little round, flat discs.

Quinoa - uncooked
Uncooked Quinoa

When cooked, it appears translucent and the germ ring can be seen around the edges.

Quinoa - cooked
Cooked Quinoa

 Why should I eat it?

This superfood is a “complete protein”, containing all of the essential amino acids, making it a must-have in Vegan and Vegetarian diets.

It is also a great source of dietary fiber, providing as much as 13% of your recommended daily dietary fiber intake in one serving.

How can I use it?

This grain can be used in the same way you would use oats and rice and can also be included in veggie burgers, breakfast cereals, soups and more.

Check out my Oat Quinoa Peanut butter Breakfast Cereal recipe.

Where can I buy Quinoa?

Quinoa is produced by a number of different brands.  The brand featured in my photo below can be purchased at both Hi-Lo Foodstores and Tru-Valu supermarkets, specifically the Westmoorings and Diamond Vale branches respectively.

where to buy
O.A Quinoa Brand – can be bought at Tru Valu and Hi-Lo Foodstores

Low-Sugar Chewy Granola Bars for Kids

Chewy granola bars are a popular snack with the kids.

Most store-bought bars promise to provide heart healthy nuts and whole grains in a snack-form that kids will love.  These come, however, with very high sugar content.  When reading labels, normally the first three ingredients are the major components.  Most of these store-bought bars have sugar in 1st, 2nd or 3rd place.  Then, further down the ingredient list, sugar appears at least one more time.

In the wake of an upsurge in the incidences of Juvenile Diabetes, some of the popular cereal brands promised to have less sugar.  Even the popular Quaker Oats chewy granola bars at one point promised that it contained “25% less sugar” than before.  I bought those a while back and still found them to be too sweet.

A short while afterward I found that I could no longer purchase the store-bought chewy granola bars at all.  Not only were they too sweet, they also contained whey and other milk-derived ingredients.

So, I decided to make my own chewy granola bars at home.

After a couple experiments, and prayer, I came up with this Chewy Peanut Butter granola bar recipe.  I used peanut butter as I found it to be a great binder that kept the bars together as opposed to using large amounts of syrups and sweeteners.  This enabled me to keep the sugar content low.

I also used sunflower seeds, walnuts and cranberries which are great sources of dietary fibre.

Try this easy, heart-healthy snack.

Click here for recipe.

Wellness Makes the Vegan

Researchers from the Loma Linda University in California found that there is a link between lifestyle, diet and disease.  They studied a group of more than 58,000 persons over a long term period and unveiled the following:

–          Vegetarians were at a lower risk for Cancers

–          Consuming nuts and whole wheat bread may lower your risk for Coronary heart disease

However, while a plant-based diet just may help you lower your risk for cardiovascular disease, it is not meant to be taken in isolation.  Findings from the study also showed that there were 7 other basic practices or principles, along with nutrition, that may help you live a longer, healthier and happier life when properly followed.  These 8 principles, when combined, form a balanced vegan lifestyle and contribute to the overall wellness of the Vegan.

 

1. Nutrition

Let’s face it; your body will not get the proper nourishment it needs if you only eat corn.  The full benefits of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains are derived when we eat from a wide variety of them.

Proper nutrition serves as a building block for total wellness.

So, how can I be sure that I’m getting the best nutrition?

Check out your Vegan Plate at http://www.vrg.org/nutshell/MyVeganPlate.pdf

 

 2. Exercise

Exercise has been found to positively contribute to health of body, mind and spirit.

In addition to proper nutrition, exercise helps to boost the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the tissues of the body.

Regular physical activity can also boost your energy, improve your mood and is a great sleep aid.

Talk to your doctor today to find the best exercise plan for you.

3. Water

Our bodies are made up of about 70% water.  Isn’t that amazing?

Humans can survive about 3 weeks without food but can’t survive more than 3 days without water!

So, just why is water so important?

In our bodies water functions as a cleanser; flushing wastes and toxins from the body.

Water also facilitates the successful operation of digestion and absorption.

Here in the Caribbean, and other hotter climates, we tend to lose more water through sweating, etc.  It’s therefore important to ensure that we are replacing what we have lost.

Are you getting enough water?

 

4. Sunshine

Overexposure to sunlight can cause skin cancer.  However, a lack of outdoor sun exposure can also be been linked to Vitamin D deficiency.

Vitamin D aids in Calcium absorption which is beneficial for bone health.

What do scientists recommend?

Small, gradual doses of sunlight are deemed sufficient for healthy vitamin D production.

So go on, get out there!  Don’t forget your sunscreen!

 

5. Temperance

Practicing temperance is simply abstaining from those things which are bad for you and using in moderation those that are good.

For example, did you know that consuming too much water at one time can kill you?

Also, over-exercising can lead to muscle fatigue and muscle injuries.

Overeating, even in a plant based diet is not recommended either.

Why?

Some of the effects of overeating or that all too popular habit of constantly snacking between meals can lead to blood sugar spikes and bloating.

If this habit is not overcome it can lead to long term effects as well.

 

6. Air

“Air, air, the precious boon of heaven, which all may have, will bless you with its invigorating influence, if you will not refuse it entrance. Welcome it, cultivate a love for it, and it will prove a precious soother of the nerves.

It excites the appetite, and renders the digestion of food more perfect, and induces sound and sweet sleep.” (Counsels on Health pg. 60)

To reduce the incidences of indoor air pollution, it is recommended that windows and doors be open, as far as possible, to keep the air in constant circulation.

7. Rest 

Your body needs it!

Rest is rejuvenating for the mind, body and spirit.  Mental alertness and memory are both negatively affected when we skimp on rest.

Are you skimping on rest?  Take this fun sleep quiz to find out. http://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/rm-quiz-sleep

8. Trust in God

Persons who expressed faith in God benefitted from the following:

–          Less worry (“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” Isaiah 26:3)

–          An increase of vigor (“A living faith means an increase of vigor, a confiding trust, by which, through the grace of Christ, the soul becomes a conquering power”. Ministry of Healing pg 62)

Try asking God today for wisdom how to make healthier choices and to help you stave off those cravings.

 

References:

Adventist Health Studies: Findings for Coronary heart disease – http://www.llu.edu/public-health/health/heart.page?

http://www.llu.edu/public-health/health/fact_sheets.page?

Air – http://newstartclub.com/resources/detail/air

Benefits of Sunlight – http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2290997/

Counsels on Health – “The Influence of Fresh Air”, page 60

Exercise: 7 benefits of regular physical activity – http://www.mayoclinic.org/exercise/ART-20048389

Meatless Meals: The Benefits of Eating Less meat – http://www.mayoclinic.org/meatless-meals/ART-20048193

Ministry of Healing – “The Touch of Faith”, page 62

Newstart – http://newstart.com/what-is-newstart/

Plant-Based Diet for Heart-Health – http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/guide/plant-based-diet-for-heart-health