Nutrition info: How do you know what’s true?

confusing-nutrition

Hi lovely people! Do you ever get confused about nutrition? I know I do! It’s easy to find nutrition information on the internet – but how do you know what is actually true information, when there’s so much marketing and misinformation out there? For example, many registered dietitian and nutrition programs STILL teach that ‘good nutrition’ is having lean meats, eggs and dairy every day – which, if you have read The China Study or watched Forks Over Knives, you know this is simply NOT true.

As a biology undergraduate student who’s extremely passionate about plant based nutrition and wellness, it pisses me off that there is so much wrong nutrition information out there. I have researched multiple graduate degrees in nutrition, but have a hard time choosing one because I want one that aligns with my truth of plant based veganism.

My point here is this: take every piece of nutritional advice or information with a grain of salt! Do your OWN research using academic research articles and use critical thinking and discernment to determine what is true. It’s also essential to be aware of corporate influences on research. Research studies have to be funded by someone, since they usually require a lot of money to carry out, and often times that ‘someone’ is a big corporation such as the dairy industry or the national beef council. Be a knowledgeable, conscious consumer and stay aware of these things. This also applies to nutritional advice you read from other peoples’ blogs or Instagrams (including mine)! I have learned a great deal about nutrition and holistic wellbeing because of my fascination with achieving optimal health, but am not (yet 😉 ) certified in Nutrition. My number one check is always: are they properly educated in nutrition? Do I trust the education this person has about nutrition? If not, be discerning about what they say/post and do not assume everything they say is sound advice. This rule can be applied to any type of professional whose information or advice you are considering: are they educated and knowledgeable? Do they have experience in this field and know what they’re talking about? If not, seek other, more reliable resources.

The one thing all nutrition experts agree on is that more vegetables is definitely good for everyone. Not surprising – veggies contain a high amount of fiber, phytonutrients, antioxidants and are low in calories! Across the board, loading up on veggies, fruits, legumes and whole plant foods will do your body right.

Becoming more conscious consumers is our responsibility, and knowledge is the first step to doing that. Do your background research and read up on scientifically grounded nutrition so you can tell what is and isn’t good advice. Check out this thorough and well-researched article (by scientific researchers and educators!) for more information.

Plant-based Alternatives to Meat & Dairy

I wanted to share some alternatives to animal-based products we use on the regular. Most people don’t go vegan ‘cold turkey’ – a gradual transition is easier to manage and more likely to be sustainable in the long term. If you have tried to go vegan before but just couldn’t stick with it, don’t get down on yourself! Set yourself up for success by educating yourself about plant-based alternatives to your favorite regular foods.

I advise slowly cutting animal products out of your diet, unless you’re ready to do it all at once. Be sure to replace the animal products you currently eat with plant-based options, instead of just eliminating them – this is how new vegans suddenly end up eating mainly bagels and potato chips when they don’t know what to feed themselves! Research how to meet your nutritional needs on a plant-based diet and try new recipes. It’s a whole new world of variety when you adjust your diet 🙂

Try replacing one food group at a time with vegan alternatives to ease yourself into a healthier, plant-based lifestyle. Here are some simple swaps to begin!

Cow’s milk: The market is flooded with nondairy milk these days! A plethora of nondairy deliciousness awaits at your local health food store. Try replacing dairy milk with almond, coconut, soy, hemp, flax, rice,  or even quinoa milk! I like to use coconut milk for cereal and smoothies, and enjoy soy milk in coffee. I love hemp milk for homemade hot chocolate!

Dairy cheese: instead of parmesan, try sprinkling nutritional yeast over your pasta! You could even make your own parmesan ‘cheeze’ using cashews, nutritional yeast, garlic and salt. If making pizza, try one of the many dairy free cheeses on the market (Daiya, Heidi Ho, Miyoko’s Creamery, etc) – just keep in mind these won’t taste like real cheese, but will give you a similar texture. For pasta sauces, I prefer to make my own cheezy sauce (for example a healthy vegan mac n cheez) from a mixture of cooked potatoes, onions, carrots, nutritional yeast, and paprika. Use the internet to find delicious dairy free cheez recipes! Plant-based cream cheese is available in most health food stores.

Sour cream/Yogurt: There are many kinds of nondairy yogurt on the market today. My favorite is the unsweetened So Delicious coconut yogurt, but there are also almond-based yogurts and soy-based yogurts. Try a few different kinds to see which one you like!

Meat alternatives: Try tempeh, seitan, tofu, or legumes! There are also many faux meat products on the market these days, such as Tofurkey, Beyond Meat, and Gardein. These products are great for those transitioning into a vegan lifestyle, but I prefer to use whole foods alternatives as they are usually more natural. Use cubed or crumbled tempeh or tofu in stir fries, pasta sauces, chili, and soups. Try a tofu scramble or crumbled tempeh instead of ground beef for tacos! There are so many protein-rich meat alternatives once – again, the internet is your friend. 😉

Ice cream: Make banana ice cream! Peel and freeze overripe bananas, then blend with your favorite flavorings (mine are vanilla extract, cacao powder, and peanut butter) and some coconut milk to get a super creamy, healthy and DELICIOUS plant-based ice cream. If you crave something richer, nearly all grocery stores offer nondairy ice creams these days – usually made of coconut milk, almond milk, or soy milk. Just watch out for eggs hiding in the ingredients! Sounds strange, but there are a couple nondairy ice creams out there containing egg.

Eggs: Instead of scrambled eggs, try a tofu scramble with turmeric for an eggy look! There is even a ‘Vegan Egg’ on the market that looks and resembles a real egg. For baking, use 1 tbsp ground flax + 3 tbsp water, or 1 tbsp chia seeds + 3 tbsp to replace 1 egg. Both of these alternatives need to be stirred and allowed to sit for a couple minutes, after which they form a gel that holds up just like an egg in most baked goods. You could also try Egg Replacer products – these work similarly and can be found in health stores!

If you would like to go vegan, but that currently feels too far out of reach for you, begin where you can. Baby steps are still progress! If you eat many kinds of meat, try eliminating 1 or 2 types of meat (for example, beef or pork) and replace them with plant-based protein alternatives. Alternatively, you could choose to eliminate processed meats from your diet (sausage, jerky, hot dogs, cold cut meats, etc) in favor of plant-based alternatives or a more whole version of that meat – for example, grilled chicken in favor of a chicken burger. If eliminating meat feels impossible to you right now, try starting with dairy products! Every step away from animal products is a step in the right direction.

Fluffy Banana Bread

After sharing a photo of this banana bread on Instagram a few weeks ago, a few people asked for the recipe – so here it finally is! Make this bread, share it with friends, and then make some more….it’s that good.

This banana bread is DELICIOUS, vegan, refined sugar free, oil free and basically super duper healthy – no excuse not to try this 😉

INGREDIENTS ~

  • 1 3/4 cups to 2 cups of oat flour (to make, blend or grind whole rolled oats in your blender)
  • 4 ripe bananas, 3 for the batter and 1 for topping
  • 15-20 pitted gooey dates, depending on size (if using dried dates, soak in hot water for an hour)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 chia eggs (to make: stir 3 tbsp chia seeds with 1 cup water)
  • 1/2 cup nondairy milk (I used soy milk) OR water
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Optional: 3 tbsp cacao powder for chocolate banana bread, or 1/2 cup dairy free chocolate  chips!

TO MAKE ~

Preheat the oven to 350 F. In a blender, blend the nondairy milk (or water), 3 bananas, and half of the pitted dates until they are smooth and liquefied. Pour the mixture into a bowl and slowly stir in the oat flour, starting with 1.5 cups. Add the chia eggs after they’ve gelled, then stir in the rest of the ingredients EXCEPT the rest of the dates!

Chop the dates into pieces, then place in a small bowl and coat them with some of the oat flour. This prevents the date pieces from sticking to each other in the batter so that they’ll be evenly distributed in the bread 🙂 After coating, add to the batter and pour the batter into a baking paper-lined loaf pan. Slice the last banana in half, then slice each of the halves vertically in half, so you’re left with four long banana slices. Use these to top your banana bread. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 min – the bread will be done when a toothpick comes out clean.

Enjoy this delicious and healthy bread! I had this for breakfast, lunch and dinner the day I made it….I highly suggest doubling the recipe xD.

 

“If you don’t eat meat, where do you get your protein?” The ever-popular question of plant-based protein sources

So, where do vegans get their protein? In today’s society, it is widely assumed that humans need a ton their daily calories from protein. We have been misled to believe that we need a lot of this specific nutrient – when really all nutrients combined work together to fuel the body. The true, proper daily intake of protein should be anywhere from 10-25% of your caloric needs, based on your weight, height and activity level. Believe it or not, plants do contain a decent amount of protein: a 100 calorie serving of broccoli contains over 8g of protein! And tons of fiber, vitamins and minerals too? Count me in.   There is an incredible assortment of healthy, plant-based proteins to choose from: 1) Legumes: Beans & Lentils. Black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, garbanzo beans, red lentils, green lentils, black lentils….the list goes on! A 1/2 cup serving of black beans has

  • 130 calories
  • 15 grams of fiber (wow!)
  • 7.5 grams of protein
  • 10% of daily iron intake

And only 4 calories from fat. Legumes are also a great source of magnesium, manganese, and folate – all important in regulating cellular functions and converting energy. 2) Tofu, Tempeh and Seitan. Tofu, which is curdled from soybeans, is a versatile and high-protein food. It takes on the flavor of whatever dish you’re making and is therefore easy to add to recipes. Tempeh, which is fermented tofu, is more firm than tofu and has a nutty flavor to it. This is great for stir fries, salads, bowls-just about anything. Both contain anywhere from 10-15g protein per 1/2 cup, along with essential vitamins and minerals. Seitan: Also known as wheat gluten, seitan is a great substitute for meat, as it has a similar texture and look. A low calorie food, a one ounce serving of seitan contains 21g of protein and only a few calories from fat. These foods can easily be baked, grilled or sautéed to be eaten with a meal. 3) Nuts & Seeds. There are so many great seeds to choose from – flax, chia, hemp, pumpkin and sunflower. A three tablespoon serving of hemp seeds contains a whopping 11g of protein and tons of healthy Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. Peanuts, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews….the list goes on! Nuts are a fantastic source of protein and healthy fatty acids as well – just make sure  you don’t eat too many of these, as they are high in fat. I like to limit nut butter or raw nuts/seeds to once a day. I enjoy nuts and seeds in smoothie bowls, salads, or sprinkled over quinoa and veggies…even eaten plain! Their uses and benefits are endless. 4) Grains: Quinoa, millet, barley, wild rice, brown rice, rye, wheat, oats…There are so many types of grains to choose from! Enjoy any of these protein-rich, fiber-packed grains with your next dinner, lunch or even breakfast. Whole grains are low fat and contain plenty of protein as well as fiber, which helps you stay full longer. Many grains are gluten-free as well, a great option for celiacs or those with gluten intolerance.   These foods are certainly not the only way to get protein: as I mentioned earlier, all vegetables contain protein AND fiber (meat contains no fiber). Fortified plant milks (almond, coconut, soy, hemp, hazelnut, cashew, oat, etc) can also be enjoyed in cereal, smoothies or recipes. Fruits are usually low on protein, but contain a lot of fiber and tons of antioxidants and vitamins. Eat a colorful, balanced diet and you’ll be sure to get what you need throughout the day.  

Speedy Chickpea Scramble 

Let’s end this protein post with an awesome, high protein recipe: Chickpea Flour Scramble! Originally adapted from Bonzai Aphrodite’s recipe (see her version here). Also called besan flour, chickpea flour can be a little tricky to find, but is usually in natural grocery stores or health stores. This high-protein, soy-free flour can be cooked into many things – I’ve even made pancakes with them! This recipe reminds me of scrambled eggs…but this is a much healthier version, with significantly less fat and no cholesterol or animal protein. Go plants.

 

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • Enough water to make it a runny batter
  • Spices of choice: turmeric, cumin, cayenne, coriander, chili, chipotle, garlic, paprika, italian seasoning, S & P (I recommend using some turmeric to achieve a yellow color)
  • Veggie add-ins: This can be whatever you have on hand or left in the fridge: mine above was rainbow chard, kale, jalapeño, onion, and celery. Once it was almost done cooking I added tomatoes and cilantro. Feel free to add any type of greens, zucchini, bell pepper, hot pepper, mushrooms, garlic and other fresh herbs or veggies!

  Mix your spices with the bowl of chickpea batter and baking soda. Sauté your veggies in a little oil until soft. Slowly pour batter into pan – be sure to keep the pan around medium heat. If the batter starts sticking to the pan, pour some water in to avoid burning. This stuff takes longer to cook than scrambled eggs – patience is key 🙂 Once it starts to thicken up, begin scrambling and flipping some pieces in the pan. When most of the batter has cooked, add in fresh herbs and tomatoes, if using. When the batter is done cooking, remove from heat and enjoy with avocado, toast, salad…whatever you like! This is an easy and versatile recipe, so feel free to play around.   Hope you all learned something today! If you are curious about anything or have questions or suggestions, please feel free to ask – I love to answer. Do you have a favorite go-to recipe including plant protein? Share with me in the comments 🙂 Wishing everyone a wonderful weekend, Kathrine

 

 

     

Curry Chickpea Salad

Remember the curry chicken salad from your pre-veg days? That soggy, orange mess of mayonnaise and chicken from the deli counter? Well, this is much better.

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This spicy, crunchy chickpea salad is absolutely delicious and great for dipping, in sandwiches, or bringing to parties. Chock full of veggies and protein, this has enough flavor and crunch to make your taste buds dance. I revamped my recipe from One Green Planet’s “Tangy Vegan Curried Chickpea Salad” (link here: http://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-recipe/tangy-curried-chickpea-salad/ ) so to view the original, go check theirs out.

Now for the recipe!

Two 15 oz. cans of low-sodium chickpeas, drained and rinsed

About 1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped radish

⅓ cup chopped almonds

3-4 tbsp. Chipotle (or regular) Veganaise

3 tbsp. lemon juice, more or less to taste

3 tsp. curry powder

1 tsp. cumin

1 tsp. turmeric

Few good pinches of paprika

Salt/pepper optional

 

Mash the chickpeas in a large mixing bowl. Leave some partly unmashed to add texture.

Add chopped celery, radishes and almonds to bowl (for less texture, dice your veggies finely). Add spices.

Add lemon juice, using more/less for tangier taste.

Stir in a couple tablespoons veganaise – I only used enough to keep my salad together (about 4 tbsp).  Add more as needed.

Taste your yummy chickpea masterpiece and eat away all night long, my friends.

NOTES: Chipotle veganaise really brings a spicy smoky flavor to the salad. If you would like to achieve this with regular veganaise, just add some chipotle powder to your mix.

If you don’t have these veggies on hand, chopped carrots work great for a slightly sweeter salad.

Use your own cooked or sprouted chickpeas if you have them pre-made! This is more cost efficient & sprouted chickpeas up the protein content of your dish.

Use plain, unsweetened coconut yogurt for a veganaise alternative! Silken tofu is also a great option.

 

 

If you try this recipe, please tell me what you think! What’s your favorite dip, spread or salad that’s gotten a healthy veggie twist? I have a ‘refried’ bean dip to share with you next time….:-)

Happy Saturday friends!

Kathrine

 

 

Welcome to my World

Hello! My name is Kathrine and I’m new to the vegan blogosphere. After plenty of inspiration from many vegan blogs across the web, I took the plunge and created my own!

I love making healthy, plant-based food. I find joy in creating delicious foods I can share with others and spread my love of plants. `I became officially vegan March 1st, 2014, after a few months of being vegetarian. After learning about the effects of eating animal protein through The China Study, as well as the harsh reality eating meat and dairy has on the environment, I went vegan. Since then, I have learned more about the effects being vegan has on the world around me and for the first time I am happy with I eat.

I’m based in Portland, Oregon (so lucky to be in herbivore paradise!) and plan to start university this fall. My recent change in diet and lifestyle has caused me to change paths – I aim to become a plant-based nutritionist.

Please feel free to comment with questions, requests and feedback! I’m so excited to start documenting my journey.

Cheers,

Kathrine