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Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a gluten-free grain that comes from the Andes Mountains of South America. The Inca civilization considered this one of their staple foods, besides corn and potatoes. It is considered an ancient super-grain delivering many nutritional benefits.

Quinoa is the one and only high protein grain, averaging 16.2% compared to rice which contains 7.5%, millet 9.9%, and wheat 14%. There are other varieties of quinoa that contain 20% or more of protein. The super-grain’s protein is of high quality, delivering a complete protein because it is rich in 9 essential amino acids, containing lysine, methinonin and cystine which are typically low in other grains. It also provides oils high in essential linoleic acid, fiber, minerals (calcium and iron), starch, sugars, and vitamins (E and B’s) and is low in sodium.

Quinoa is quick and easy to prepare, resembling tiny sprouted seeds. Once rinsed to remove a bitter tasting powdery residue , it cooks in 15 minutes. It tastes light and fluffy and is easy to digest. You can substitute it for other grains in any recipe or you can mix it with other grains to bring in the healthy benefits of this super-grain. You can enjoy eating quinoa for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Consider getting your protein intake with quinoa, a vegetarian meat (vegan) substitute that any vegetarian kid or adult would enjoy. Use it in any of your healthy vegetarian recipes to boost protein and other nutritional benefits. This grain can be eaten hot, warm or cold, as an oatmeal alternative, a base for a grain salad, or in place of a side of rice for dinner. The white variety is most common, but it also comes in red and black. 

This relative of the beet, spinach and Swiss chard family is gluten-free and easy to digest. It is also a nutritious superfood  high in magnesium, iron, copper, phosphorous, vitamin B2 and other essential minerals.

Quinoa can be found in most grocery and natural food stores.

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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.

Recommended reading listed here.

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.

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There are many alternatives to using eggs. You ask, ‘why would you want to do that’? Well, an egg is loaded with cholesterol and 70% of the calories come from fat! Not only that, but a big portion of that is saturated fat! Eggs are also the leading cause for food poisoning due to the fact that they are the perfect host for salmonella bacteria. The shell of an egg is thin, porous, and fragile living in dirty and over-crowded egg farm conditions. I think you get the picture. Knowing that, why would you not want to make a change today?!
 
If you want scrambled eggs, try crumbling extra firm tofu in your new scrambled egg conversion, called tofu scramble.
 
For baking, I prefer Bob’s Red Mill Egg Replacer. There are other brands available, so find one that you like. Read the package instructions, as each  one is slightly different. You will need to whisk the egg replacer powder with water to arrive at your egg substitution for baking. Keeps well in freezer (store in freezer bag).
 
Aside from egg replacers, you can use
1/4 cup of unsweetened applesauce for each egg the recipe calls for which works well to bind ingredients in muffins and cakes.
Half of a mashed banana can also be used to replace 1 egg. Use this in  breads, muffins and cakes where you want the banana flavoring.
Or, try 1 heaping tablespoon of soy flour or cornstarch mixed with 2 tablespoons of water for each egg in a baked product.

Tofu is a great alternative to using egg. Try 1/4 cup of pureed soft silken tofu when making puddings and mousse.

For main course meals, such as meatloaf and burgers, try using tomato paste, moistened bread crumbs or mashed potatoes. Egg replacers do work well for these type of recipes.

As important as minerals are to the body, so are vitamins D and B12.

Vitamin D is a ‘free’ vitamin and is obtained from sunlight exposure. Spend 10-15 minutes 2-3x per week to stimulate vitamin D production. Vitamin D regulates the absorption and excretion of calcium. You can also obtain by drinking vitamin D fortified orange juice, almond, soy or rice milks. This vitamin is important for vegetarian kids and vegans, and knowing that there are other ways to get it is key. If you’re an indoors person, then try a vitamin D supplement. Recommended daily intake is 1,000 to 2,000 IU.  This site has many healthy vegetarian recipes (vegan) and healthy dessert recipes that contain soy milk, so look to get some vitamin D when cooking.

Vitamin B12 helps to maintain healthy nerve cells and red blood cells as well as the production of DNA. Since the human body stores several years’ worth of B12, a deficiency is uncommon. B12 is not made by plants or animals. Bacteria is charged for B12 production. Animals happen to get B12 from consuming foods contaminated with this vitamin and then it becomes a source in human consumption.  Since B12 requirement is low, this may not be a concern. However, strict vegetarians and vegans may consider taking a B12 supplement if you are not consuming other B12 sources. Other sources would include nutritional yeast, fortified beverages and cereals, and vegetarian meat such as wheat gluten or soybean meat substitutes. I like to use liquid B12 by Natures Answer which I can put under my tongue or mix in with a smoothie. This brand is animal free.  Try to get approximately 50 mg each of the B vitamins (B1 thiamine, B2 riboflavin, B3 niacin, B5 pantothenic acid, B6 pyridoxine), and 500 mcg of B12. B’s are best taken earlier in the day because they help to increase energy levels. Order now

Or, if you like lolli pops, order these rich in vitamin B12, only one a day needed. Order now

Always read labels, even when it comes to buying vitamins as many use fish oils and other ingredients derived from animal. Try vegan main course dishes from this site that contain vegetarian meat (vegan, such as soy crumbles, tempeh, textured protein).

Consult your doctor on what vitamins you are taking and how they may affect other medications you may be taking.

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

Barnes&Noble.com

I grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, what we considered to be the beer capital of the USA! I always thought of beer as an alcoholic beverage, and nothing more. Now, I see, I am mistaken. Many beers contain skin, tissue, blood and bones from cows, pigs and fish. Who ever would have thought!? The thought of consuming this is gross. But the thought of these ingredients not needing to make it on the label is criminal!

Here’s what is safe to drink, if you are concerned about those poor vulnerable animals, and about your health. Drink Pabst (a Milwaukee staple), Amstel, Coronoa, Heineken, New Belgium Brewery, Sierra Nevada, or Tectate.

AVOID Castle Rock, Guinness, New Castle Brown Ale, and Red Stripe.

Read for yourself the list of ingredients derived from animal.

Now, to find out more about what you are drinking, or if you are looking for vegan choices in beer, wine, and other libations, then click here

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Many vegan products are naturally gluten-free. Most gluten-free products will display the symbol on the package, although you cannot count on The Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) lack of guidelines, so read labels. Most likely, if you cannot have gluten, you already know it and watch what you buy from grocery stores.

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, oats and other grains/flours. A gluten-free diet is one that contains no wheat, rye, barley, oats, millet, triticale and all crossbred varieties and derivatives of these grains. The FDA standards for foods labeled gluten-free is voluntary. There is no regulation. It is up to the manufacturer whether or not to include it on the label. Products may actually contain small amounts of gluten and still be labeled gluten-free, so always read ingredients before buying. Also, there are many foods that are naturally gluten-free that may not have the gluten-free label on its package.

Gluten sensitivity can cause a serious reaction in people who have celiac disease,  a chronic inflammatory disorder that affects digestion in the small intestine. This disease is genetic and is triggered by ingesting gluten proteins, naturally found in some grains.

Foods that contain barley, wheat (wheat germ, wheat grass), rye, bulgar, spelt, kamut, triticale, couscous, farina, graham flour, matzo, seitan, vital gluten, semolina and malt vinegar cannot use the term gluten-free in labeling. However, know that products may contain oats and still be labeled gluten-free. Some individuals with Celiac can tolerate a small daily intake of oats, so it was the consensus of nutrition experts, among others, that oats be allowed.

Naturally gluten-free foods and grains are fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, legumes, potatoes, corn, rice, soy, tapioca, quinoa, amaranth, millet, arrowroot, buckwheat, cassava and sorghum.

Tips for adjusting a recipe to be gluten-free include using cornstarch or sweet rice flour in place of regular flour to thicken sauces and gravies. Just don’t overheat them since starches break down and get thin when heated too long. Also, save broken pieces of your gluten-free loaves to make your own bread crumbs and grind in a food processor. Rice crackers and cornmeal also work well of bread crumbs. Use gluten-free bouillon cubes and prepared broths in soups, stews, gravies, and casseroles.

Did you know that most alcohol is made from gluten? The distilling process is what removes the gluten, making it gluten-free. However, beer, ale and lager still contain gluten. Beware of toothpaste, cosmetics such as lipsticks, soaps and play-doh. Gluten is elastic to help bind and keep shape. 

Visit this site for a list of products by category and brand to see what is gluten free. Note, not all products on this site are vegan, so be discriminating.

Celiac disease Foundation

The Gluten Intolerance Group

Recommended reading listed here.

pHion is the category leader when it pertains to pH balancing of the body.

GMO is a term used to describe foods that are genetically modified. The American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) is against GMO’s stating serious health risks. 

Read more about GMO’s, why you should avoid them, what foods are safe, including many soy based products by specific brands, and get a free shopping guide listing the non-gmo brands.

pHion is the category leader when it pertains to pH balancing of the body.
Acid Reflux has been a concern of mine. Will eating a vegan diet help with this condition and balance out my bodies pH?    

Yes, acid reflux is a condition of an unbalanced pH inside of your body. The bodies pH balance should be more alkaline, rather than acidic. Eating meat and other animal products, which are acid producing, can help offset the balance especially if you are on a high animal protein diet. A body that is highly acidic  stores more fat and toxins. By eliminating meat (use vegetarian meat –  vegan) and other animal products from your diet, and eating more fruits and vegetables, you can gain control over your bodies pH and stop the heart burn and acid reflux. Avoid carbonated drinks, alcohol, pepper, tomato sauce and orange juice. Infuse your body daily with greens you eat or drink in a shake, like Vega, which actually tastes good.  Comes in vanilla chai, chocolate or berry.

Another ‘green’ shake probiotic option is by Vibrant Health. It is gluten-free and supports nutrition, digestion, circulation and your immune system.

The cells in your body change when they live in an overly acidic environment. High acidity can cause illness and put you at greater risk of developing diseases and conditions, such as cancer, osteoporosis, loss of muscle mass, fatigue, weakened immune system, fat accumulation and inflammation, among others. Consume foods rich in chlorophyll which are alkaline. This will help with cleansing to remove toxins from your blood stream, regenerate cells and improve the flow of oxygen. Try drinking Kombucha, an organic raw living tea that contains active enzymes, probiotics and detoxifiers. Kombucha helps with digestion, immune system and liver functions, helps to control appetite and weight, increases body alkalinity, supports anti-aging and nourishes cells, skin and hair. My favorite flavors are multi-green and maqui berry grapefruit., then ginger and original.

Read the rest of this entry »

                     

There are many pros and cons to consuming soy. This post should help to clear things up a bit.

First, just like any produce, soybeans can be sprayed with pesticides and genetically engineered. With everything you buy, you need to be aware of how it is grown and processed.

The basic thing to note here is that whole foods are healthiest for you and you should include a variety of foods in your daily diet, including products made from whole soybeans.

When you shop for soy products, like tofu and soy drinks, it is best to only purchase ones that are NON-GMO. Products that are not genetically modified will list this on the package or container.

Think about it, the Asian culture has incorporated soy products in their every day diet for centuries and have low rates of cancer and heart disease, compared to the Western diet which is heavy animal consumption loaded with fat, cholesterol and calories. Tofu, NON-GMO and gluten-free, is extremely low in calories and carbohydrates, contain no sugar, and is a great source of protein.

While I was reading up on soy products, I came across this blurb on Dr. Weil’s website:

The following is from Andrew Weil, M.D.

“Soy for Hot Flashes

Hot flashes associated with menopause can be miserable, but in most cases, fortunately, they do go away on their own, usually within six months to a year. With the popularity of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) on the wane, whole soy foods may be worth a look. Soy foods contain plant estrogens, and Japanese women whose diets contain soy experience fewer hot flashes. Soy is also rich in protein, iron and compounds called isoflavones, which seem to protect against hormone-driven cancers such as breast cancer. Although the precise role of soy in reducing hot flashes continues to be investigated (other elements of the Japanese diet and lifestyle may play a part), adding soy to your diet may help. Dr. Weil recommends one to two daily servings of soy in relatively whole and unrefined forms such as one cup of soy milk; a half cup of tofu, tempeh or green soybeans (edamame); or roasted soy nuts. You can also easily swap meat for tofu in dishes – baked tofu works well as a meat replacement in fajitas, stir-fries and casseroles.”

“Excess consumption of soy can be a problem when you’re taking thyroid replacement medication. Be sure to tell your physician how much soy you’re eating so your dosage can be adjusted, if necessary. Eating soy foods at the same time that you take thyroid hormone can interfere with its absorption so, to be safe, don’t eat soy within three hours of taking your medication. You are unlikely to run into a problem with moderate soy consumption – one serving a day of whole soy products, such as one cup of soy milk or one half cup of tofu, soy protein (tempeh), or crispy soy nuts.

Phytates (and phytic acid) are antioxidant compounds found in whole grains, legumes, nuts and seeds. The chief concern about phytates is that they can bind to certain dietary minerals including iron, zinc, manganese and, to a lesser extent calcium, and slow their absorption. However, the presence of phytates in foods really isn’t the worry that some individuals believe it to be. (I’ve been asked in the past about the phytates in soy and whether they hinder mineral absorption. There is no scientific data suggesting that eating whole soy foods leads to mineral deficiencies in humans).

Phytates in your everyday meals should not be an issue for you as long as you’re eating a balanced diet. Most of us consume enough minerals in common foods to more than make up for the small amounts of these micronutrients that might be tied up by phytates. The only individuals who might need to be careful are vegetarians who consume a lot of wheat bran, which is a concentrated source of these substances. Phytate-associated deficiencies of iron and zinc do occur in some third-world countries where people mostly eat grains.

Phytates themselves have some health benefits, including anti-inflammatory effects. In laboratory research, phytates have helped normalize cell growth and stopped the proliferation of cancer cells. They also may help prevent cardiovascular disease and lower a food’s glycemic load.

I’ve seen many articles warning that soy foods in general, including soy milk, aren’t healthy and contain hidden substances that are dangerous. Critics of soy allege that it is bad for the thyroid, can cause cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and mineral deficiencies.

None of these sensational claims has ever been proven.

Remember, for centuries Asians have been eating lots of soy foods, and the supposed terrible consequences of soy consumption haven’t materialized among them. In fact some traditional soy-rich Asian diets are associated with lower risks of breast and prostate cancer than western diets.

Based on the weight of available evidence, I remain convinced that soy is safe and nutritious when eaten in relatively whole and unrefined forms in reasonable amounts. I recommend one to two daily servings, which can include a cup of soy milk, a half cup of tofu, tempeh or green soybeans (edamame) or roasted soy nuts. Soy milk provides all the benefits of cow’s milk, without the butterfat, which is unhealthy, the milk protein (casein), which can increase mucus production and irritate the immune system in some people, and milk sugar (lactose), which can cause digestive distress if you lack the enzyme that breaks it down.

Soy milk is made by soaking dried beans in water, grinding them, heating them in water, pressing them, and straining the milk. Soy milk makers for home use are widely available, and people who use them say fresh, homemade soy milk is much better tasting than packaged products. And it will have no additives.

One cup of soy milk contains four to 10 grams of soy protein, and 20 to 40 mg of isoflavones, plant chemicals that may act like estrogen but probably account for soy’s protective effect against hormonally driven cancers (especially when soy is part of the diet from early childhood). While soy milk is high in calcium, it doesn’t have as much as cow’s milk so it is important to look for a brand that is fortified with calcium.

I recommend certain precautions when buying soy milk. Since many soy crops are heavily treated with pesticides, always buy organic soy products. I also recommend avoiding brands of soy milk that contain the thickening agent carrageenan, a seaweed derivative, which I believe may be harmful, especially to the intestinal tract. If you are watching your weight, look for low-fat products.”

And this is according to Dr. Weil. It very well may be the meat and dairy industry making negative claims against soy. Who knows!  Remember, there are no substantial studies proven to discount soy products, which have been around for centuries and heavily consumed by the Asian community, among others. You can visit the link below:

http://communications.drweil.com/read/archive?id=7694&e=thefreeganvegan%40gmail%2ecom&x=e7c62f5c