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Omega-3 are essential fatty acids needed by the body. Also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids, omega-3 helps in brain function, growth and development of your body, including your retina and cell membranes. This fatty acid helps to reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, arthritis, inflammation, blood clotting, cholesterol, and improves artery flexibility. However, your body cannot manufacture them, so it is important to seek out food sources rich in omega-3. A few sources for omega-3 are plants and nut oils.  Consume walnuts, canola oil, hemp oil, Earth Balance with omega-3, tofu, soybeans and flaxseeds (grind up to use in smoothies and soups, or sprinkle on salads, cereal and dairy free ice cream). Flax is also rich in protein, lignans, potassium, magnesium and boron which is good for cancer prevention.

Daily recommended for vegan adults is 2.2-3.3 g, which you can easily get in 1 tsp of flaxseed oil (do not bake with this oil, use cold. OK to put on warm food. Keep refrigerated). Ifyou take a supplement, make sure it is free of animal and fish oils. Try this vegetarian and vegan brand made from marine plant sources. Order here

One of my favorite healthy dessert recipes is throwing together a scoop of Purely Decadent vanilla soy ice cream, a sprinkle of ground flax seed (omega-3, 6 & 9) and a sprinkle of salted sunflower seeds. Or, try the blueberry muffin recipe with ground flax seed.

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1 bagel sliced in half
Cashew Spread
Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese (plain)
Chives or scallions (diced)

Toast bagel. Lightly spread Tofutti on toasted bagel. Top with a thin layer of cashew spread. Finish with chives or scallions and sprinkle lightly with salt. Enjoy your bagel with ‘cream cheese’.

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Growing up in Wisconsin, I have always been a big ‘cheese head’.  However, having gone vegan and not eating any dairy, I have managed to be completely satisfied by some great tasting dairy-free cheeses.  Forget about the cheese singles that are vegan or the blocks of Follow Your Heart. I was on a quest for great tasting cheese blocks that I could slice and make a cheese and cracker platter.  I managed to find such a company who does that.

Ste Martaen is a Chicago based company that makes a variety of delicious vegan cheeses which are also soy-free. I ordered 4 different cheeses to sample and hoped that I would enjoy at least one of them. They arrived in a cold pack box 2 days after ordering. I immediately had to sample all of them. I was pleasantly surprised by the taste and texture of all four cheeses. All of them are highly delicious, though my favorite is the pepper jack with a mild bite. I have always made a cheese and cracker platter for special occasions and am happy to have found Ste Martaen to carry on my tradition, just with vegan cheeses.

Minerals are elements originating in the soil, so fruits and vegetables are the obvious choice to feed your body with these nutrients. Minerals help your body to grow, develop and stay healthy. Your body uses minerals to perform building functions, transmit nerve impulses and to maintain a normal heartbeat.

Calcium is an important mineral for your body.  Calcium helps to ease insomnia, regulate nutrients through cell walls and feeds your muscles so they contract properly.  Vegetarians and vegans are less likely to form kidney stones or gallstones.  High protein diets actually cause calcium loss. Most fruits contain calcium, with the top choices being blackberries, blackcurrants, dates, dried figs, grapefruit, mulberries, oranges, pomegranate and prickly pears. Vegetables also contain a lot of calcium with greater benefits coming from amaranth leaves, bok choy, brussel sprouts, butternut squash, celery, chinese broccoli, french beans, collards, kale, okra, parsnip, spirulina, swiss chard, sweet potato, broccoli and turnips. You can’t go wrong with any dark green vegetables, lentils, tofu, soymilk, rice milk and nuts. And, plant based eaters tend to have stronger bones than meat eaters.

Nuts, seeds and grains also provide calcium intake. Best choices are almonds, amaranth, brazil nuts, filberts and hazelnuts, oats, pistachios, sesame seeds, wheat (durum and hard) and white grains.  Try almond butter and other nut betters too. There are non-dairy and vegetarian meat protein sources (soy drinks and yogurts, tofu and tempeh) that also contain calcium, so read labels to see what you are consuming. On the average, most adults need 1000 mg/day, while children range from 800-1300 mg/day.

Iron is another important mineral. Many people believe eating red meat is the only way to get sufficient amounts of iron. You can get enough from plant based fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains. Combining vitamin C rich foods with an iron source helps to aid in the absorption of this mineral. Women and teen girls need 15 mg/day, while men only need 10 mg/day and children require 10-12 mg/day. Fruits rich in iron are raisins, avocado, blackberries, blackcurrant, boysenberries, cherries, dates, figs, grapes, kiwi, lemon, loganberries, lychee, mulberries, passion fruit, persimmon, pomegranate, raspberries, strawberries and watermelon.  Vegetable choices include amaranth leaves, bok choy, brussel sprouts, butternut squash, french beans, kale, leeks, lima beans, peas, potatoes, pumpkin, spirulina and swiss chard.

Some nuts, seeds and grain sources include amaranth, buckwheat, cashews, coconut, oats, pine nuts, pignolias, pumpkin seeds, rye, spelt, quinoa, wheat (durum and hard) and white grains.

Other minerals, such as copper, iodine, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous, potassium, selenium, sodium and zinc can all be supplemented by eating fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains. Always go for variety. For a healthy vegetarian (vegan) breakfast recipe, try the Warm Quinoa.

Visit this site for healthy vegetarian recipes (vegan) that are easy to make. You will also be delighted with the delicious and healthy dessert recipes. With plant based ingredients, it is easy to get a healthy dessert recipe that contains protein and is low in calories, sugar and fat. Try the Chocolate Mousse.

Visit here for kid and teen mineral RDA and here for adults.