Category Archives: Guest Blog

GUEST BLOG – Julieanna Hever and Chef AJ

I am always looking for fun ways to dress kale because it is soooooo good for you, but can be a very strong taste on its own.  The other day I received a blog post in my inbox from The Plant-Based Dietitian (I am a subscriber) and it was an episode of The Chef and the Dietitian wherein they demonstrated how to make Chef AJ’s  “Hail to the Kale” dressing.  I decided to give it a try and loved it so much that I contacted Julieanna and Chef AJ to see if they would allow me to share the recipe with all of you.  Both were so responsive despite the fact that they were out of town at Vegetarian Summerfest (I would have LOVED to be there too!).  This is an absolute winning recipe!

Before we get to the recipe, I want to give you some background on Julieanna Hever and Chef AJ…

Julieanna Hever, M.S., R.D., C.P.T. , The Plant-Based Dietitian, is a passionate advocate of the miracles associated with following a whole food, plant-based diet.  Julieanna is the nutrition columnist for VegNews Magazine, author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition, and co-author of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Gluten-Free Vegan Cooking (click here for more info).  Julieanna maintains a private practice in Los Angeles and lectures throughout the U.S. As co-producer and star of the “infotainment” documentary, To Your Health, Julieanna interviewed a host of the plant-based world’s most respected doctors and researchers to bring this important information to a broad audience.  As Executive Director of EarthSave, International, Julieanna has had the opportunity to bring nutrition to the forefront of efforts to improve the current global health crisis.  To learn more, visit Julieanna at her website (click here) and her blog (click here).

Chef Abbie Jay (otherwise known as AJ), is a graduate of The Living Light Culinary Arts Institute and has been a vegan for 30 years.  At the age of seven she received an Easy Bake Oven as a gift and hasn’t stopped cooking since.  Teaching both vegan cooking and raw food prepartion, AJ’s passion is showing people how to incorporate more fresh, organic fruits and vegetables in their diets in ways that are easy, delicious and fun.  Chef AJ is also the author of the book, Unprocessed (which I can’t wait to review for you!).  She especially loves showing others how to make decadent, delicious desserts with out using white sugar, white flour or artificial ingredients.  Chef AJ, has cooked for many celebrities, and has volunteered at The Braille Institute for 2 years teaching healthy cooking to the blind who have lost their sight due to type II diabetes.  Many of her students have decreased their need for insulin through switching to a healthier diet.  One of her creations, Rockin’ Nut Crunch, will soon be sold at Whole Foods Market.

I also learned a new tip from Chef AJ in the video episode (click here) which has been a HUGE time-saver for me when prepping the kale from my garden (my latest harvest is in the picture above…it is the most gorgeous greenish-blue!).  She shows us a really fast and simple way to remove the hard center stem from the kale.  How did I not know this before?

You must make this dressing…it is that good!

~

INGREDIENTS – Enough to dress two heads of kale

1 cup raw almond butter (unsweetened and unsalted) *
1 cup coconut water
¼ cup fresh lime juice and zest
2 cloves garlic
Fresh, peeled ginger (approx. 1” or ½ ounce)
2 Tbs. low sodium tamari
4 pitted dates (soaked in water if not soft)
½ tsp. red pepper flakes **
* I used a combination of almond and cashew butter
** I used ¼ tsp. since I served it to children

 

Place all ingredients in the blender (I used my Vitamix) and blend until smooth…it’s that simple!

When the dressing is nice and smooth pour some over your prepared kale and sprinkle with chopped nuts.  Since I made a smaller salad, I did not use all of the dressing.  To store the remaining dressing, I poured it into a mason jar and placed it in the fridge.  I ended up using it as a dip as well…it was great with all kinds of crudités (carrot, celery, cucumber, belle peppers, etc.)

For a printable version of this recipe click here.

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Filed under Books, Guest Blog, Nuts, Raw, Recipes, Salad, Salad Dressing, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

GUEST BLOG – Fat Soluble Vitamins by the Vegan RD

Virginia “Ginny” Messina is a dietitian and public health specialist who has co-authored a textbook on vegetarian nutrition that is aimed at medical and nutrition professionals, has also twice co-authored the American Dietetic Association’s Position on Vegetarian Diets, has authored countless books (Vegan for Life is the most recent), and helped develop a food guide for vegetarians and vegans.

Ginny has also been a nutrition instructor at Central Michigan University, where she taught principles of public health education to dietetics students. She was the director of nutrition services in a medical center serving more than 50,000 patients, and has developed nutrition education materials for many organizations including the U.S. government’s national cholesterol program.   

Ginny is an authority when it comes to nutrition and the nuances of a vegan lifestyle.  Many people contact me with questions regarding vitamins as they pertain to the vegan diet.  Below Ginny will discuss in detail fat soluble vitamins as they relate to vegan nutrition.

Ginny has a wonderful blog that I follow.  To learn more click here.

To read an interesting interview of Ginny , click here.

For a complete listing of Ginny’s books, click here.

Fat Soluble Vitamins: Do They Stand Between Vegans and Health?

by GINNY MESSINA

This month, I’m working on a couple of responses to recently published criticisms of vegan diets. Among the issues that are frequently raised is one that focuses on fat-soluble vitamins. Some of the concerns are based on legitimate questions about active forms of these vitamins and their absorption from plant foods, and others aren’t. Regardless of those questions, though, plant foods can and do provide enough of the fat soluble vitamins A, D and K. (Vitamin E, which is also fat-soluble, is not involved in the controversy since it’s found in a very wide variety of foods.)

Vitamin A: It’s true that the preformed active type of this vitamin is found only in animal foods. But plants are abundant in vitamin A precursors like beta-carotene. In fact, these provitamin A compounds are important enough that the USDA measures vitamin A content of foods as “retinol activity equivalents (RAE),” which includes both preformed vitamin A and the compounds that the body turns into vitamin A. There is no separate RDA or recommendation for animal-derived pre-formed vitamin A.

You can meet your vitamin A requirement for the day by drinking just one-quarter cup of carrot juice or eating a cup of kale or spinach. Other foods that make significant contributions are sweet potatoes, cantaloupe, and dark orange winter squashes, including pumpkin. A word of caution though: Earlier assessments of retinol activity equivalents in plant foods over-estimated amounts. This is because more recent data show that conversion rates of the vitamin A precursors are lower than previously believed. As a result, vitamin A is a nutrient that deserves some attention in vegan diets. This doesn’t mean you can’t get enough; it does mean that it’s a good idea to make sure you eat vitamin A rich foods every day.

Vitamin D: This vitamin occurs naturally in only a few foods—fatty fish, eggs from chickens who were fed vitamin D, and mushrooms treated with ultraviolet light. With such limited dietary availability, humans wouldn’t have gotten very far if not for the fact that we can make all the vitamin D we need when skin is exposed to sunlight.  As humans have moved farther from equatorial zones—and spend less time outdoors—it’s become harder to make enough, though, so vitamin D-fortified foods have become important.

Although people can get adequate vitamin D from fatty fish, most—omnivore or not—rely on fortified foods and sun exposure, two options that are as easily available to vegans as to omnivores.

The vegan form of vitamin D, which is called ergocalciferol or vitamin D2, has been shown to be as effective in raising blood levels of this nutrient as animal-derived vitamin D3 when it’s taken at a usual daily dose (1) (The RDA is 600 IUs; some experts recommend 1,000.) At megadoses, however, vitamin D2 may need to be taken more often.(2) But no one should be megadosing on vitamin D unless they are working with a doctor to correct a deficiency. And vitamin D2 has been used to effectively raise blood levels in people with deficiencies. (3, 4)

Vitamin K: Best sources of this nutrient are leafy green vegetables and canola, soy and olive oils. One form of vitamin K, called vitamin K2 or menaquinone, is found in animal products but in only one lone plant food—natto, a fermented soy product that isn’t a usual part of most western vegan diets. This isn’t a problem, though, because humans have no requirement for vitamin K2. We also have bacteria in our gut that produce this form of vitamin K—so we’re covered either way. Since vitamin K is essential for blood clotting we’d see some evidence of a deficiency if vegans weren’t getting enough. But a study that compared clotting rates between vegans and meat eaters found no difference. (5)

Getting Enough of the Fat Soluble Vitamins: The best way to make sure you’re getting adequate amounts of the fat soluble vitamins is to eat plenty of leafy green and dark orange vegetables and to take a vitamin D supplement if you don’t get adequate sun exposure. Gentle cooking improves the absorption of some vitamin A precursors, and cooking foods in small amounts of olive or canola oil can give you a vitamin boost while improving absorption of these vitamins.

1.            Holick MF, Biancuzzo RM, Chen TC, et al. Vitamin D2 is as effective as vitamin D3 in maintaining circulating concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2008;93:677-81.
2.            Romagnoli E, Mascia ML, Cipriani C, et al. Short and Long Term Variations in Serum Calciotrophic Hormones after a Single Very Large Dose of Ergocalciferol (Vitamin D2) or Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D3) in the Elderly. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2008.
3.            Thacher TD, Obadofin MO, O’Brien KO, Abrams SA. The effect of vitamin D2 and vitamin D3 on intestinal calcium absorption in Nigerian children with rickets. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2009;94:3314-21.
4.            Gordon CM, Williams AL, Feldman HA, et al. Treatment of Hypovitaminosis D in Infants and Toddlers. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2008.
5.            Sanders TA, Roshanai F. Platelet phospholipid fatty acid composition and function in vegans compared with age- and sex-matched omnivore controls. Eur J Clin Nutr 1992;46:823-31.

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Filed under Books, Education, General Vegan, Guest Blog, Research, Vegan, Vegetarian, Vitamins

GUEST BLOG – Alkaline Lifestyles by Julie of The Alkaline Sisters

I am a firm believer in eating an alkaline diet.  Fortunately eating a plant-based whole foods diet tends to be an alkalizing diet.  I know that this is a new concept for a lot of people, so I contacted my favorite alkaline blogging expert for a better explanation.  I am thrilled to introduce today’s Guest Blogger, Julie of the The Alkaline Sisters website.  Julie stumbled upon this way of life in an attempt to fix a back injury that despite her best efforts (chiro, physio, acupuncture, aqua therapy, osteopath, surgery, cortisone shots, on-line exercise programs and some serious medications for pain) would not get better.  Through the recommendation of a friend she went to a local alkaline lifestyle facilitator and her life was forever changed.  

I really enjoy all of the posts I receive from the Alkaline Sisters.  The posts are always packed with valuable information and Julie’s photography and styling is amazing!

I hope you take the time to read today’s post thoroughly…your body will thank you.

For more information please visit The Alkaline Sisters by clicking here.  

~Gretchen


You may wonder “what the hey” is an alkaline lifestyle? Maybe you ARE familiar with it but don’t know the specifics.  I call it a lifestyle cuz it’s NOT a diet, it’s a way of life.  Alkaline living is getting a lot of press lately and a Google search yields pages and pages of results.  But thinking back just a year or two, no one even knew “what the hey” I was talking about.  Now there’s alkaline water in grocery stores-amazing!  So it’s high time we spread the word about how to live this lifestyle and how to enjoy delicious food while you’re at it.

It’s pretty simple, really.  Essentially the goal is to bring your body’s pH –acid versus alkaline– into balance by consuming a higher volume of alkaline foods and fluids.  Ideally 70% to 80% of each daily meal should be alkaline foods combined with 2-4 liters of alkalizing water thru the day.  Super hydrating daily with water and adding powdered greens is very energizing and flushes unwanted toxins and is a super way to flush fat cells too.  The 70-80% portion for alkaline foods is basically vegetables, mostly raw-some warmed, either whole or juiced and low sugar fruits.  The 20%-30% acidic balance can be made up of cool or cooked foods such as whole grains, seeds, nuts, legumes, proteins-plant or animal-preferably organic turkey or chicken and the sweeter fruits in moderation. Some Alkavorians do consume a little tiny bit of dairy and eggs, many do not. The least processed food possible is key.  In a nut shell, one could easily transition to this lifestyle diet just by increasing their raw greens or gently warmed veggies to 70-80% on your plate at lunch and dinner and fresh veggie juice in the morning.

An Alkaline balanced body is healthy, vibrant, and energetic, free of sickness and disease. An Acidic body is one that is degenerating, breaking down, showing a myriad of symptoms of ill health from the simplest form being a cold or a rash all the way to diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.  We all know 1-5 people or more that are ill or dying of these or many other terrible diseases that can be solved with a change in their lifestyle and diet.  High levels of stress, negative thoughts, lack of exercise and poor shallow breathing (which most of us do all day long) all play a key role in this lifestyle and are acid forming.  Changing your diet will improve your pH and reduce your symptoms to a certain degree, but you must also manage and balance these other pieces of the puzzle to reach optimal health.  The most amazing thing about this alkaline lifestyle is that it is measurable because it IS a science.  If you have a live blood analysis done by a trained microscopist (where you can see your blood cells actively moving on screen) before you begin this lifestyle change, after as little as 30 days, you will see a change in your blood cells and the fluid that they live in.  It is utterly astonishing to see the yeast, parasites, (we all have them to some degree if you eat meat), stress indicators, pre-cancerous crystals, and many other unhealthy organisms floating around in your blood and how they change or disappear with only a diet adjustment and further more, with a healthy lifestyle.

I see the trend toward alkalizing growing in leaps and bounds because there is such a great awareness of how SAD the typical North American diet is.  Made up largely of meat, dairy, sugars, alcohol, saturated fats, highly processed foods and caffeine, we have become a very sick nation looking for quick cures from pills.  With the ever increasing rate of grim diagnosis’s of disease that we are surrounded by, I believe many of us are at a cross road.  Change your Diet …..or Die.The number of books being published on healthy eating is at an all time high and many of them are slamming the typical diets that many of us thought were “healthy”!  Instead of maintaining what we thought was a healthy body we have created a hostile acidic environment within our body that now needs correcting before we develop disease or before we die from one we’ve just been diagnosed with.  The beauty is that you CAN reverse the negative effects of an unhealthy diet if you sincerely have the will to do so.

There’s no doubt about it, change what you eat and the way you live to more alkaline choices and your symptoms will diminish and slowly disappear.  I am living proof and so are many others who have even reversed cancer and are living a vibrant life, well into their late nineties with very little degeneration.  It’s really been more than a 100 years that this model of healthy living has been buried due to the mainstream medical model that has been blind to it but finally….. the awareness of how to live a life of health and well being, free of disease, is surfacing.  I challenge you to try it for 30 days and see how much you like the gain of energy and the positive changes that happen.  A food chart to help guide you, showing the value of alkalinity or acidity, is right here.

Where to Start and What to Avoid
Identifying WHY you want to alkalize is a good place to begin.  What’s your motivation?  Is there a pain strong enough to make you stick with it?  How badly do you want to be healthy?  Are you choosing this or is someone else?  Are you craving energy and vibrancy?  Aren’t we all?  Then give it a go for 30 days and see how you feel, see if you are addicted to the feeling?  You might be pleasantly surprised and change your life forever!  I did!  Forever, no lie!

So a good way to begin is to decide- would I choose cold turkey or a slow go?  Cold turkey if you are not chronically ill can do wonders and work out the toxins fast which means you may feel lousy until they flush thru and then you’ll be ready to change the world.  A slow go means less pain but slower gain.  Either way, you will be WAY better off than not doing anything different at all.

I recommend reading a few books before or while you begin because knowledge is POWER.  It will inspire you to keep on trucking and you will develop a lifestyle habit that you will become addicted to.  For further reading I recommend picking up a soft cover copy for under $10 of the pH Miracle by Dr. Robert O. Young.  As a scientist with over 40 years of research, exploring and uncovering he shares the steps to gain control of your health again.  Another recently published book that I am devouring is Crazy, Sexy, Diet by Kris Carr who is a cancer survivor who alkalized to heal and has brought together a wealth of knowledge thru her own experience and that of many health experts that will inspire you to take the plunge.

The following is a list of things to begin eliminating or dump right off the bat.  After skimming the list it may seem to you like there’s nothing good left to bother eating but you’d be surprised.  If you haven’t looked at my recipe page then check it out cuz there’s some incredibly mouth watering ways to nourish your body that will leave you craving more and feeling more energetic after a meal than you ever have before.

Foods that Acidify:

  • Sugar
  • Dairy Products
  • Meat (aside from occasional coldwater fish)
  • Caffeine
  • Tobacco
  • Wheat (aside from sprouts or wheatgrass)
  • Fruit (apart from those mentioned above)
  • Bad fats (saturated, transfatty acids, hydrogenated)
  • Junk/ Processed foods
  • Fizzy drinks
  • Peanuts and Cashews
  • Pasta and White Rice
  • Condiments
  • Fermented Foods

If you really want to kick it up a notch the best way to kick the acid is a juice feast where you nourish and flush the body at the same time in order to alkalize and regenerate healthy new cells.  It’s possible to put you one year ahead in the healing process by beginning with a juice feast cleanse.  For the full details and recipes on a great way to jump start your alkaline journey see this post here.

All living things exist because of a balanced pH level.  In nature some “plant varieties” thrive in an alkaline soil where as others prefer a slightly acidic soil.  When these conditions are not ideal symptoms begin to occur.  Most inexperienced gardeners would head to the garden center and purchase a product recommended to cure the ailing plant and spray it on the leaves and the plant would perk up but shortly there after it needs another application.  However a well seasoned gardener knows that an adjustment to the soil in which the plant grows is what will improve the health of the plant.

The Alkaline Sisters

Our bodies that are all identically designed to function as the “human variety” require the same pH balance and treatment.  The terrain in which our cells exist is the environment that must be pH balanced just as the roots of the plant growing in soil.  Our inner terrain is everything.  When it is out of kilter we are out of kilter.

If we can clean up our systems, pair it with a healthy outlook on life, manage our stress levels, and incorporate daily fitness we can experience optimal health and a life of longevity and vibrancy.  THIS is how we were meant to exist on this planet and we should settle for nothing less.

If you require an alkaline coach to make this shift possible, I get it.  If you are seriously ill it’s the best way back to health and I highly recommend you reach out for support and guidance on this journey.  It’s a life changing path and having a coach will bring greater success and a confidence that will drive you to become the healthy You that you deserve to be.

Please contact me (click here) for further info and references for Alkaline Coaching so I can guide you based on your needs and your geographic location. If you desire live blood analysis Google it for your area or contact me in case I can help you locate a qualified professional.

If you’ve made it to the bottom of my long winded message for alkalizing I congratulate your earnest desire to make a difference in your health!

A BIG Green Smoothie Cheer to YOU!

Julie

Images courtesy of AlkalineSisters.com

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Filed under Alkaline, Education, Guest Blog, pH, Vegan, Vegetarian

GUEST BLOG – Ezogelin Corbasi by Natalie of Cook Eat Live Vegetarian

I am in love with Spain.  Two summers ago my family and I spent a month in Southern Spain.  It was such an adventure.  I fell in love with the people, the food, and the general way of life.  When I came across the food blog “Cook Eat Live Vegetarian” I was so excited…great vegetarian food based in Andalucía Spain!  Every time a new post arrives in my inbox I turn into a giddy school girl because I know the food will be amazing and I know I will get to see pictures of my beloved Spain. 

Cook Eat Live Vegetarian is the brainchild of Natalie Ward. Natalie lives in Andalucía with her partner Allen (The Washer Up).  They used to own and run a restaurant there called Santiago del Calvario which they sold last year to their good friends.

When they ran the restaurant Allen was in the kitchen and Natalie was front of house. They designed the menus together and have always been slightly obsessed with food. Now that they sold the restaurant, Natalie is in their kitchen cooking every day and Allen does the washing up!

They started their blog to share their enthusiasm for fantastic food with a world flavor. Using seasonal produce, grown locally where possible, they aim to excite with global vegetarian cuisine. Their inspiration comes from the fruits & vegetables they see growing while walking the dog in the “campo” in the morning  and they hope to share some of the beauty of Andalucía in the process.  Although Natalie is vegetarian, The Washer Up isn’t, so occasionally she shares some recipes that can be adapted to include meat and fish but the majority of the recipes are for fabulous meat-free dishes from around the world that have even the most stubborn carnivores drooling and singing your praises.

 I know you will enjoy this soup…it is so tasty.  I was drawn to all of the flavors in this soup, but especially the sumac.  During my last trip to Northern California to see my parents we went to one of our favorite restaurants, Dish Dash, and they use a lot of sumac.  This inspired me to buy some sumac from Penzey Spices, however I had yet to use it until I made this soup.  My family enjoyed the soup so much that my five year old declared, “This dinner is awesome!”  This recipe can be a bit spicy for little ones, so I add extra broth (see notes within the recipe below).

I had to make this soup when I read the story behind it. It sounds like an ancient myth but is actually from the 20th century. I love a tragic love story that includes a recipe don’t you?……

Ezo-gelin translates as Ezo The Bride. The origin of this soup is attributed to an exceptionally beautiful woman named Ezo, who lived in the village of Dokuzyol near Gaziantep in the early 20th century. Legend has it that Ezo, with her rosy cheeks and black hair, was admired by travellers along the caravan route who stopped to rest in her village. Many men longed for her hand in marriage and Ezo’s family hoped to secure a worthy match for their daughter.

Unfortunately, Ezo the bride, didn’t have much luck when it came to finding marital bliss. Her first husband was in love with another woman and she divorced him on grounds of maltreatment. Her second marriage took her to Syria where she became homesick for her village and had to deal with a difficult mother-in-law who couldn’t be pleased. It is for her, the story goes, that Ezo created this soup. After bearing 9 children, poor Ezo died of tuberculosis in the 1950s and has since become a Turkish legend, depicted in popular films and lamented in folksongs. Her name lives on in this popular soup, which is now traditionally fed to brides to sustain them for the uncertain future that lies ahead.

It kind of reminds me of Princess Diana’s story with the husband in love with another woman and the very difficult mother-in-law. Maybe they should have fed it to Kate before her wedding to William!!

I love the idea of a tradition where the modern brides in Turkey are fed a soup with a story to prepare them for their married life ahead. It’s in stark contrast to the custom in the UK where the bride dresses up as a tart in a veil with  L plates stuck to her drinking as many shots of Tequila as possible while watching a slimy male stripper with a can of squirty cream. Give me the soup any day…..

The original soup contains bulgur wheat which I have replaced with quinoa to keep it gluten-free. Sumac is a crushed dried berry used in Middle Eastern cooking. It is sold in powdered flakes and has a smokey, spicy, lemony flavour. See picture below. If you don’t have any leave it out, just make sure you have the lemon wedges to squeeze over and fresh mint for the top.

EZOGELIN CORBASI- Turkish Red Lentil Soup with Mint & Sumac

INGREDIENTS – serves 4-6, vegan, gluten-free

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely diced
  • 1 stick celery, finely chopped
  • 3 or 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  •  1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 3 tbsp tomate frito (tomato paste)
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 1  tbsp dried mint
  • 150 gr (1 cup) dried lentils, red lentils if possible
  • 50 gr (1/4 cup) wholegrain rice
  • 50 gr (1/4 cup) quinoa or bulgur wheat
  • about 1 1/2 quarts veg stock (or a mix of water & stock) – GRETCHEN USED 2 1/2 quarts
  • 1 tbsp sumac (optional)
  • salt & black pepper
  •  fresh mint leaves, chopped for garnish
  • sumac for garnish (optional)
  • lemon wedges, to serve

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over a medium heat. Cook the onions, carrots & celery with a pinch of salt for 4 or 5 minutes until softened and lightly golden. Then add the garlic, cumin seeds, paprika, chilli flakes, cayenne, tomato & tomato paste and cook for a further 5 minutes

Add in the lentils, rice & quinoa (or bulgur wheat) and stir to coat in the tomatoey spices. Add the veg stock/water, season well with salt & black pepper, add the dried mint and bring to the boil.  Turn the heat down, cover and simmer for 35-40 minutes everything is tender.  AT THIS POINT GRETCHEN TURNED OFF THE HEAT AND ALLOWED THE SOUP TO SIT COVERED FOR AN HOUR.  IT THICKENED-UP A LOT.  SHE THEN ADDED THE EXTRA QUART OF STOCK TO TEMPER THE SPICINESS AND ALLOWED IT TO COME BACK TO A BOIL.

If you like you can remove a ladleful of the soup and blend it until smooth, then add it back into the soup. This gives it a smoother thicker consistency. Add the sumac, taste for seasoning, add more salt or mint if necessary. Bring back to the boil.

Serve in warm bowls sprinkled with chopped fresh mint leaves, a little sumac and some lemon wedges to squeeze over.

I would think this soup could be a good hangover cure for the bride recovering from a few too may tequilas as well.  Just remember poor Ezo….

For a printable version of this recipe click here.

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Filed under Beans/Legumes, Gluten Free, Guest Blog, Main Dish, Recipes, Soup, Vegan, Vegetarian

GUEST BLOG – Vegan Protein by Giacomo Marchese

 

Today’s Guest Blog is by Giacomo Marchese of VeganProteins.com.  Giacomo has been a fitness enthusiast for the past 17 years.  He competed and placed in both 2002 and 2008 with the INBF (International Natural Bodybuilding Federation).  Other activities he enjoys include cycling, running, snowboarding, tennis, racquetball and most other racquet sports. 

Shortly after his first competition, Giacomo transitioned to a vegan diet for health and wellness reasons.  Through this period of time he was able to increase his strength and size while training on a plant based diet.  He also tried a raw diet for three years and competed raw in 2008.

After embracing the ethical side of eating responsibly for his body, he has dedicated time and effort towards showing others what is possible on a cruelty free diet. 

Jimi Sitko, Robert Cheeke, Giacomo Marchese

Currently, Giacomo is working on a documentary, Vegan Brothers in Iron, which dispells the myths of veganism and muscle building (to be released in the coming year or sooner).  He is also currently blogging a P90x training journal (workout, nutrition, transformation pictures) where the recommended meal plans have been modified to be suitable for a vegan lifestyle:  Vegan P90x blog

You can support him by checking out the plant based supplements they carry at www.veganproteins.com.

WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR PROTEIN?

by Giacomo Marchese

Really, you’re a vegan? Wow! But where do you get your protein from? And a bodybuilder on top of that… that’s really amazing – I can’t believe it…

Is the idea really that far fetched that a vegan can partake in bodybuilding just as efficiently as a typical bodybuilder who eats exorbitant amounts of protein from meat and dairy products? Hardly! We’re living proof! And an in-depth documentary which shows just how it’s done is in the works as we continue to prepare for a competition in April, 2009.

Consider that the most powerful animals on the planet: the bull, elephant, giraffe, rhino, hippo, etc., are all herbivores. Also consider that the biggest dinosaurs, the ones who outlived the others, were herbivores.

Have you ever heard of a person who is ‘protein’ deficient, other than in third world countries where they do not have access to nutrient rich foods – or food in general – on a daily basis? No. Vegans are in no way threatened by protein deficiency. If we ate nothing but wheat, oatmeal, or potatoes, we would easily take in more than enough protein.

Nutritional facts from the USDA National Nutritional Database:

(Amount of calories from protein.)

  • Watercress 84%, Mushrooms 56%, Spinach 50%, Sprouts 35+%
  • Kidney Beans 58%, Navy Beans 37%, Soybeans 35%
  • Wheat Germ 26%, Rye 18%, Oatmeal 17%, Peanuts 18%
  • Pumpkin Seeds 18%, Sunflower Seeds 16%, Cantaloupes 10%, Peaches 9%, Oranges 8%

WOW – that’s just from straight up WHOLE FOODS! Could mother nature actually have satisfied our needs for survival without having to instill suffering on our furry, feathered, and finned friends? Can’t be.

Now that that’s settled, let’s take this one step further: What if one were to feel compelled to take in a presumably much larger than required amount of protein for a healthy functioning body and did not care to consume it in a supplementary fashion? The average Joe, for example, who just wants to go to his local grocer and pick up something, perhaps processed, to enjoy and whip up right quick?

There’s soy and gluten products. You can easily purchase these as viable substitutes for any animal product out there. Faux meat, wheat meat, or grain meat is easily found at many regular grocery stores and health food stores around the country.

Wheat Gluten, Tofu, and other soy or grain products can pack a mean punch when it comes to protein content. Tempeh (fermented brown rice) isn’t even processed, it’s cultured!

(Amount of calories from protein.)

  • Hi Protein Tofu (Wildwood / Trader Joes, etc): 28%
  • Tofurky Italian ‘sausage': 41%
  • Seitan (wheat gluten): 41%
  • Tempeh: 38.5%

From the point of view of an amateur bodybuilder, I’m trying my best to get my protein in convenient form, without carrying around full meals. I’m talking about supplementation with protein powders. With the mass appeal of ‘whey’ and ‘casein’ powders, which are derived from dairy, you’d think that they are the only true sources of high protein shakes. People are amazed to learn that so many other options exist. That’s because Vegan Protein Powders are simply overshadowed by the insurmountable figures spent on blanketing the entire market with advertising, marketing, research, and promotion of whey and casein based protein powders.

As a matter of fact, whey, casein, and egg protein powders are the only three options if you choose to stick with animal protein powders exclusively, and all three pale in comparison, on a micronutrient level, to the majority of the Vegan protein powders listed below:

(Amount of calories from protein.)

Animal Based Protein Powders:

  • Whey, Casein, Egg: 95 – 100%

Vegan Protein Powders:

  • Soy Protein: 95%
  • Pea Protein: 93%
  • Bio Fermented Brown Rice Protein: 92%
  • Brown Rice Protein: 80%
  • Chlorella: 80%
  • Buckwheat Protein: 80%
  • *Spirulina: 54%
  • Hemp Protein: 45%

And there’s more, but you get the picture.

*In additon to being vegan, these protein based powders are raw and unprocessed

Whether you are a Vegan or a Raw Foodist, you can see, you will get your fill of protein. If you’re a bodybuilder and you indulge in the theory of excessively high protein intake and caloric deficit, you can do it. It’s actually far more efficient, and healthier as vegan foods have zero cholesterol, for you to use vegan protein powdders because many of these vegan sources are micronutrient powerhouses. Spirulina and Chlorella, for example, are superfoods. One serving of either equates to 35 servings of vegetables in regards to vitamin and mineral content. Even small amounts will benefit you immensely!

Where do I get most of my protein from? Sprouts, nuts and seeds. Protein supplementation? Spirulina and Sun Warrior (bio fermented brown rice) both of which I offer to you on this site. In the future, VeganProteins.com will offer many of these other supplementary options as well, but for now why not take advantage of my two favorite sources? It’s not so bad being a raw food vegan, now is it?

As for the marketing hype out there and the 8 essential amino acid discussion — don’t fall for it. The Vegan supplement sources and Vegan food sources contain all 10 of the 20 essential amino acids that your body cannot produce itself. And for the ones that don’t, it’s not like you need to have all 10 at every meal. Do you really think that you need everything all at once every meal or your diet will be unbalanced? The human body is amazingly efficient, it takes up everything you’ve eaten daily, or even over the course of a couple of days, and knows what to do. That theory of “complete” protein or food combinations by the otherwise groundbreaking book in the 70s “Diet for a Small Planet” was a theory. Even the author herself, Francis Lappe wrote in her revised edition that current science indicates that you don’t have to combine foods, like beans and rice, to get a complete protein. The body will do the work for you.

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Filed under Althletics, Education, General Vegan, Guest Blog, Protein, Vegan, Vegetarian

GUEST BLOG – Channa Masala by Anita Alamshaw

I am so excited about today’s guest blog.  I met Anita Alamshaw years ago through my sister-in-law.  She is such an amazing person as is the rest of her family.  Anita’s father, a Hematologist, came to the hospital to provide his expertise when my son was born and was sent to the NICU with a blood disorder (that he thankfully recovered from).  I have also called her husband (an MD) more times than I’d like to admit for medical advice.  The Alamshaw family is so giving.
I addition to being a mother and wife, Anita is Healthcare Executive and is passionate about health and cooking.  We both wish we lived closer to each other because she is in the kitchen experimenting and cooking just as much as I am.  I would love to be able to pop in for some Indian Cuisine cooking lessons.
When my sister-in-law was in town recently she went to Anita’s for a home cooked Indian meal.  She came home with a bag full of food for me to try and it was all so good.  I absolutely fell in love with Anita’s Channa Masala and asked her to share the recipe.  She has graciously agreed to allow me to share the recipe with all of you.  It is sooooo good.
INGREDIENTS
1-15oz Can of Garbanzo Beans
1 Medium Onion (chopped-small)
2 Tomatoes (chopped)
2 Cloves of Garlic (minced)
1t Whole Cumin seeds
1.5t Cumin powder
1t Coriander powder
.5t Turmeric powder
1-2t Chili powder
1-2t Salt
1T Tomato paste
1T Plain yogurt (optional)
1t Cilantro (chopped) for garnish

Rinse canned garbanzo beans with water

Heat oil in pan (medium heat) then add: whole cumin seeds, onions, garlic.  Sauté until golden brown.

Add tomatoes to mixture and sauté until it cooks and becomes a nice gravy

Add garbanzo beans along with all remaining ingredients: cumin, coriander, turmeric, chili powder, salt, tomato paste, yogurt (optional)

Mix well, low-medium heat, cover and let simmer for 15 minutes

Garnish with fresh chopped cilantro

Can be served with: Brown Rice, Tortillas, Naan / Roti / Chapati (Indian breads)

For a printable version of this recipe click here.

7 Comments

Filed under Beans/Legumes, Gluten Free, Guest Blog, Main Dish, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

GUEST BLOG – Gluten Free Crêpes by Allyson of Manifest Vegan

Today’s Guest Blog is from Allyson Kramer of Manifest Vegan.  Manifest Vegan was named by VegNews Magazine as one of their Top 10 Picks for Veg Blogs (In their July-August 2010 issue)! 

“Manifest Vegan was created in September of 2009 to help get rid of that pesky stereotype that vegan food is un-palatable, overly digestible, and well…. limited to only tofu and salad. Although I love tofu and salad of all sorts, I aim to show you all so much more. Vegan eating is easy, and really not limiting at all.  With Manifest Vegan I want to bring inspiration into your kitchen with recipes for deliciously compassionate eats!”

A few days ago I was asked by a very sweet gal if I could make a crêpe that was, of course, both vegan and gluten free.

Here’s one variation of a crêpe recipe I have been kickin’ around for a while.  It’s a touch lighter and airier than an “eggy”, glutinous crêpe; but, it is still very delicious.

This recipe works great for both sweet and savory filled crêpes.

 

Gluten Free Vegan Crêpes

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup + 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup potato starch
  • 1/3 cup sorghum flour
  • 3 tsp enerG egg replacer, dry (not mixed with any water)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup non-dairy milk
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 4 tsp olive oil

Directions:

Sift together cornstarch, potato starch, sorghum flour, enerG egg replacer powder and salt.  Stir in non-dairy milk, water, and olive oil. Whisk  for about 30 seconds until thoroughly combined.

Making crêpes is very similar to making pancakes… except one thing I have always done was refrigerate the batter before using. I actually stumbled upon this technique by accident while making my first batch of vegan crêpes, about 10 years ago. Wow, time flies, eh?  I made up a gigantic amount of batter for those crêpes, and since I was cooking them only for myself, I wound up using only a bit of it. Not being wasteful, I refrigerated the rest of the batter to use the next morning for breakfast. The crêpes the next day were 100% better than the batch the day before. They cooked up nice and golden brown and more even textured (less “holey”) than the one’s I had made the day before

Since then I have discovered that many people make crêpes this way… so I guess there’s a method to that madness.

Anyways, refrigerate your batter for at least a couple of hours (preferably overnight).  Lightly spritz with cooking oil, or smear with a touch of margarine as often as needed during the crêpe making process- if you are using non-stick pan, omit this step.

Preheat the pan over medium-high heat.

Drop about 1/3 cup of batter onto the hot pan while tilting the pan to make the batter form a circle (do this off of the heat). This part is kind of hard to explain in words, but is very easy to do. Basically you are trying to create an even and thin layer of batter as quickly as possible so that the crêpe ends up thin and delicate and shaped like a circle. After all these years, I still have trouble getting them to form perfect circles every time. :\

Cook until the crêpe is lightly browned on one side and then flip. This usually takes about a minute or so. The edges will curl up nicely and you will have no problems getting a thin spatula underneath it to flip. Don’t force it though, like a pancake- they will be messy if you get impatient!

Cook the opposite side about 40 seconds to another minute, or until lightly golden brown.

Repeat until all batter is used.

Fill immediately with whatever your heart desires and wrap it all up.

Serve immediately…

I chose to saute up some shiitakes, criminis and oyster mushrooms with about 3 tsp of fresh thyme. Once the mushrooms were nice and tender I threw in about a handful of fresh baby spinach and cooked it just until it wilted. I wrapped it all up in the crêpe, and- keeping with my crazy Autumn obsession- topped it with a puree of acorn squash, miso, and a few tablespoons of almond milk. Then I topped the whole thing with some sliced almonds.

My son opted to have his filled with peanut butter, sliced bananas, strawberries, and flax seed with a touch of powdered sugar sprinkled on top. I really should have gotten a photo of that, but it was gone in an instant.

Here’s another shot of my savory crêpe:

 

Honestly, I could probably stick any old thing in a crêpe and still find it palatable. I kinda have an obsession with crêpes. I seriously don’t make these things nearly as often as I should.

For a printable version of this recipe click here.

5 Comments

Filed under Gluten Free, Guest Blog, Main Dish, Recipes, Vegan, Vegetarian

GUEST BLOG – Kristen Suzanne on Protein Powder

 Today we have another guest post by Kristen Suzanne of Kristen’s Raw.  Overall I like to have my diet consist of whole foods, but I do have a place in my diet for raw vegan (soy-free) protein powders.  Here is what Kristen has to say about the issue…

Protein powders get mixed reviews from people. There are some people who don’t care for protein powders because they say they’re a “fractionated food” (i.e., not a whole food). There are other people, however, like me, who are grateful they exist. Some raw peeps love them because they want more protein in their diets to support their intense exercise regime (such as my husband, Greg, and Robert Cheeke vegan bodybuilder). Other people, like me, love them when pregnant or breastfeeding for that easy extra protein. But, that’s not the only reason I like them…

When I’m eating an all raw diet (breastfeeding, pregnant, or not), I find that there are times that I want something to eat that is not high carb or high fat. A lot of raw foods are either one of those two options. Sure, I could gnaw on some plain romaine or cucumbers, but it’s not going to really fill me up or fill this unique need I’m describing. I’m talking about those times that I feel a need for something substantial and filling, but that is not high fat (there goes nuts) or high carb (sorry, fruit). I’m not sure if you’ve ever experienced that when eating all raw, but it’s something that happens to me from time to time. So, how do I handle it? I drink a protein shake. And, it’s exactly what I need!

Now, I realize that some people just have a hard time getting into protein drinks, even if they are interested, because of the chalkiness or the flavor. And, for those times that I mentioned above where I wanted something that was not high fat or high carb…. a protein shake that was simply water and protein powder was just what I needed. That probably isn’t appealing to many. But you know what? I actually love it. I’m over the chalkiness (of course, I’ve been drinking protein shakes for some 20 years now because they were a big part of my bodybuilding regimen). I’m used to them, have been for a long time. But then something more profound happened… now I even crave the stuff sometimes. I know, weird, huh? Craving a (plain) protein shake? Just the powder and water shaken up? Yes! Once I realized that it indeed filled a physical need for me, it mentally satisfied me. It also filled me up, which is great for people watching calories. It gave me the perfect solution to keeping my diet raw without eating more carbs or fat when that wasn’t what my body was calling for.

A smart trick is finding a protein powder that you like. I did a comprehensive review on protein powders here (be sure to check it out!). I also wrote about my husband’s Protein Grenades to give you some more ideas. I find that the protein powder I love and rely on the most now is Sun Warrior’s Chocolate protein powder. It seems they’ve improved their protein powder just recently and it tastes even better. :)

If you’re one of those people who can’t imagine drinking just protein powder mixed with water, try some of the following suggestions to see if they help:

1) Blend the powder with water and ice or…
2) Shake the powder up with really cold water. I find that when the shake is really cold, I enjoy it more. If the water from your tap isn’t cold enough, and you don’t want to use ice, then make the shake in advance and put it in your refrigerator to get cold before drinking it.
3) Add pizazz to it. I love adding 1/4-1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon to mine. Sometimes I add nutmeg, too. Raw vanilla powder is fun, as are other flavors like almond extract or orange extract. (The other day I used peppermint extract!) Add cayenne and give your circulation a boost! Get creative and diversify so they’re not always the same… you can even get extra wild and add garam masala or fenugreek or curry powder. This will keep it exciting.
4) Add extra water. My whole family drinks Sun Warrior’s Chocolate (mom, husband, my brother, and myself). My mom likes hers with more water and she enjoys each sip of it as she takes her time drinking it. I tend to make mine thicker and drink it faster.
5) Mix it with raw coconut water or raw almond milk for variety.

Before I realized that protein shakes were a perfect solution, I used to sit there and think, “I’m hungry. No, I don’t want a bunch of nuts. No, I don’t feel like sugar from fruits. No, I need something more than a huge bowl of plain romaine. I think cooked black beans or lentils would do the trick but I want to keep it raw right now. Hmmm….” That’s when I decided to just drink a protein shake one night because I was out of options. Well, it worked. I was full and satisfied. I was excited because it was a way for me to stick to the raw diet and be happy without filling up on foods I wasn’t in the mood for.

Do you drink protein powders? If so, what are your favorites and what is your regimen?

Photo courtesy of Kristen Suzanne

 

5 Comments

Filed under Education, Guest Blog, Protein, Raw, Vegan, Vegetarian

GORILLAS NEED GREENS and so do we!

Posted at 9:13 AM on March 15, 2011 by Joel Fuhrman, M.D.

The leading cause of death for male gorillas in zoos is heart disease. Sadly, animals that live in close contact with (and fed by) humans end up with human chronic diseases.

Gorilla. Flickr: KjunstormGorillas are the largest of the primates, and they are one of the four species of great apes (great apes make up the Hominidae superfamily, which includes chimpanzees, bonobos, orangutans, and gorillas).  Following chimpanzees, gorillas are the closest living relatives to humans, differing in only about 3% of our genetic makeup.

Gorillas are herbivores that live in the forests of central Africa, where they can eat up to 50 pounds of vegetation each day, mostly leaves and fruit. Although most gorillas have a preference for fruit, they also eat large amounts of leaves, plus herbs and bamboo, and occasionally insects. In the wild, gorillas spend most of their day foraging and eating.1

In the wild, gorillas eat an extremely high fiber diet, and derive a significant proportion of caloric energy from the fermentation of fiber by bacteria in the colon, producing short-chain fatty acids. The approximate proportions of macronutrients in a wild gorilla’s diet is 2.5% of calories from fat, 24.3% from protein, 15.8% (non-fiber) carbohydrate, and up to 57.3% from short chain fatty acids derived from bacterial fermentation of fiber.2

In contrast, the standard diet for gorillas in captivity is usually not made up of natural leaves, herbs, and fruits – it is a diet of nutrient-fortified, high-sugar, high-starch processed food.

This unnatural diet has contributed to signs of heart disease and enlarged hearts for both of the male gorillas at the Cleveland Metropark Zoo. Researchers at the zoo and at Case Western University decided to change the gorillas’ diet, bringing it closer to what it would have been in the wild.

Since late 2009, the two gorillas have been eating endive, dandelion greens, romaine lettuce, green beans, alfalfa, apples, and bananas. Each of them eats about ten pounds of vegetables each day. The gorillas also spend more time eating (50-60% of their day rather than 25%), which is similar to wild foraging behavior.  After one year on their new diet, each gorilla has lost about 65 pounds, their health is improving and the researchers are noting and documenting their decrease in heart disease risks.3

My question is: why were they feeding processed foods to gorillas instead of their natural food diet in the first place?

Heart disease and heart attacks are just as unnatural for a gorilla as they are for humans.   I guess it is pretty low for the zookeepers to be feeding a gorilla a processed food diet for convenience that will expedite its death. How could they not know that gorillas should eat a natural diet?   But how did our society develop the universal eating cult that permits and encourages the feeding of disease-causing fast food, processed food and junk food to human kids, damaging their future health potential? I guess maintaining our food addictions to processed foods are a more powerful drive than our desire to have our children be healthy.   Maybe humans should not be in charge of feeding humans or animals? Maybe we should hire the gorillas to raise our children? Did you ever watch the Planet of the Apes? Okay, so maybe that wasn’t such a good idea. 

 To see resources click here.

2 Comments

Filed under Education, Guest Blog, Vegan, Vegetarian

CROCK POT VEGETARIAN CHILI – Guest Blog By Catherine of Weelicious

Today we have another guest post from Catherine McCord of Weelicious!  We all loved her first Guest Blog for Veggie Grettie where she made Crock Pot Black Bean Soup and I know you will also love her Crock Pot Vegetarian Chili.  I personally always need to have a good arsenal of quick and easy recipes…life gets busy!  Enjoy.

~

In my quest for new and interesting flavors for Kenya, I focus in on one flavor and obsess about how I can introduce it to him in order for him to love it, but not be overwhelmed by it. At the same time, I’m always trying to create a dish the whole family can eat (plus leftovers for a few days). This week, chili powder was my focus.
It’s hot, smokey, a little spicey and delicious. Most people wouldn’t dream of a 10 month old liking something so intense, but I feel like babies palates are ready for anything as long as it’s not over powering.
There are 2 tablespoons of chili powder in the recipe which sounds like a lot, but the recipe also serves 16 people! When I say I like leftovers, I mean it. When the chili is finished, I put 2 cups in a Cuisinart and whiz it up for Kenya to have over the next few days. It’s packed with all the things he needs in his diet.

Vegetarian Chili (Serves 16)

1 16 Oz Cans Organic Chopped Tomatoes
2 32 oz Boxes Vegetable Broth
6 Cups Raw Mixed Beans (Lentils, Yellow Split Peas, White Beans) (If using large beans, soak the night before)
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Onion, minced
5 Cloves Garlic, minced
6 Celery Stalks, chopped
6 Carrots, chopped
1 Bell Pepper, chopped
2 Tbsp Chili Powder
1 1/2 Tbsp Cumin
2 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Sweet Paprika
1 Large Bunch Dinosaur Kale, chopped

1. Place the first 3 ingredients in the Crock Pot.
2. Heat olive oil over medium flame and saute onions for 5 minutes. Lower heat if they start to brown. Add garlic and continue to saute another 2 minutes. Pour the onion mixture into the crock pot with the remaining ingredients and stir to combine.
3. Cook on high for 12 hours.
4. Serve.

**Allow to cool, place in appropriate container or Ziploc bag, label and freeze up to 4 months. When ready, defrost in fridge for 24 hours or place in pot and heat through under low-medium heat.

For a printable version of this recipe click here.

For more Weelicious recipes click here.

Photo courtesy of Weelicious.com

6 Comments

Filed under Beans/Legumes, Crock Pot, Gluten Free, Guest Blog, Main Dish, Recipes, Soup, Vegan, Vegetarian