Easy Homemade Cashew Milk Recipe

If you’ve never had cashew milk, you need to do yourself a favour and find some, or make some.

Why I love it:

It is absolutely delicious, creamy and refreshing and is great on its own, as a smoothie base or served alongside your favourite cookies. What makes cashew milk different from other nut milks is that it requires no straining after blending. That means you don’t need a nut bag, and you don’t need to figure out what to do with the pulp. Less messing about and less waste. All you have to do is pour it into a glass and enjoy. I love adding some vanilla extract, cinnamon or other spices such as ground ginger, nutmeg or cardamom to give delicious flavour to my cashew milk.

Cashew milk is also full of nutrients and minerals, including magnesium, phosphorus, iron, potassium and zinc as well as protein and healthy fats.

Notes and Tips:

I soak my cashews before I blend them. Soaking helps with the blending process and also helps release some beneficial enzymes.

Add vanilla extract, cinnamon or other spices such as ground ginger, nutmeg or cardamom.

 

Homemade Cashew Milk
Recipe Type: Breakfast
Author: Keren
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 5
Simple, no strain nut milk that is creamy, delicious, and nutritious.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup raw cashews
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup or rice malt syrup
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Dash of sea salt
  • Pinch of cinnamon (optional)
Instructions
  1. Soak the cashews in water for at least 4 hours. Alternatively you can soak them overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Drain the cashews and rinse until the water runs clear.
  3. Add the cashews and two cups water to a blender.
  4. Start on a low setting and increase the speed until the cashews are totally pulverised. This could take 2 minutes in a high-powered blender or longer in a regular blender.
  5. Blend in 2 cups more water,* and your sweetener of choice, vanilla extract, sea salt or cinnamon (optional). If your blender can’t totally break down the cashews, strain the milk through a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth.
  6. Store the milk in a covered container in the refrigerator. It should keep for 3 to 4 days.

Did you make this recipe?

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and/or share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #littlegreenhabits.

Love and greens, 

Keren x

Demystifying Protein – Animal vs Plant Protein

One of the most common questions vegans or vegetarians get is “where do you get your protein?” Animal foods such as meat and eggs are seen by many people as the gold standard of this macronutrient. Plant foods, on the other hand, are often seen as deficient and lacking in ‘complete’ protein. The truth is quite different, so how does the myth of plant-protein deficiency keep being recycled as fact? Well, let’s start by looking at the facts.

DNA Strand

Why is protein so important?

Protein, according to Julieanna Hever, the Plant-Based dietitian,  in her book ‘The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition’ plays a crucial role in most – if not all – structural and functional mechanisms of the human body. Protein makes up part of every cell in the body, including muscles, organs, hair, nails, skin, teeth, ligaments, cartilage and tendons, and, although not as efficient as carbohydrate, acts as source of energy. The building blocks of protein are a total of 20 amino acids. Your body can produce 11 of these amino acids, and there are 9 amino acids you must get from your diet.

Plant protein

If you consume enough calories from a variety of whole plant foods, you will get enough protein. Even mainly carbohydrate foods such as bananas, potatoes and rice have 5, 8 and 9 percent respectively of their calories as protein. The real plant-food superstars of protein though are beans, legumes, nuts, and seeds. For example, lentils have 36 percent of their calories as protein, and leafy green vegetables have almost half their calories from protein. Soybeans and its by-products such as tempeh and soybean curd, or tofu, are high in protein, which does have all essential amino acids.

Don’t you need complete protein?

Because most plant foods have less of one or some of the essential 9 amino acids, it was thought that you would need to combine certain plant foods to make up for this ‘deficiency’. This notion was based on the idea that you need all 9 essential amino acids at every meal. Animal foods have all essential amino acids, and, except for a few examples such as soybeans and quinoa, most plant foods don’t. However the fact is that your body needs amino acids, not foods with ‘complete’ proteins, and a varied plant-based diet has every amino acid you need.

chickpea-316594_1280

How much protein do you need?

According to the US Department of Agriculture, the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for protein for the average adult is 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight. In Australia, the amounts are very similar: The recommended dietary intake (RDI) for protein (measured in grams per kilogram of bodyweight) is:

  • 0.75 g/kg for adult women
  • 0.84 g/kg for adult men
  • Around 1 g/kg for pregnant and breastfeeding women, and for men and women over 70 years.

For example, a 75 kg adult male would need 63 g of protein per day. Consider this (brief) list of regular servings of plant foods and their corresponding protein quantities in grams:

  • Quinoa, half-cup cooked: 11.1 g
  • Tofu, raw, firm, half-cup: 19.9 g
  • Barley, pearled, 1 cup cooked: 16.4 g
  • Chickpeas, 1 cup cooked: 14.5 g
  • Lentils, 1 cup cooked: 17.9 g
  • Baked beans, 1 cup: 12.1 g

Can you have too much animal protein?

There are many high-protein, low-carb diets around today, in particular Paleo and its variations. Typically, lots of meat, no grains or starches, and some veggies feature prominently in such diets. But can you get too much meat and protein?

According to dietitian Amanda Benham, the Human Herbivore,  diets such as Paleo and Atkins “…encourage unhealthy eating patterns such as high consumption of animal products (…meat, eggs, cheese etc.), which are loaded with saturated fats and cholesterol and devoid of fibre and other beneficial plant components.”

Dr Neal Barnard and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) say that “a diet that is high in protein can actually contribute to disease and other health problems.” The PCRM advice is that too much animal protein can lead to increased risk of osteoporosis, as high protein intake is known to encourage urinary calcium losses. An excess of animal protein and foods in the diet can also lead to increased cancer risk, impaired kidney function, heart disease and weight-loss sabotage.

Cornell University Professor Emeritus of Nutritional Biochemistry, Dr T Colin Campbell, and author of The China Study, tells us that animal protein is a potent carcinogen.

According to Dr Campbell, “Casein [the main protein of cow’s milk] is the most relevant chemical carcinogen ever identified.”

Tempeh

How to get enough healthy plant protein

It is important to get enough protein, however too much animal protein can be harmful to your health. The following guidelines are based on those developed by PCRM:

  • Have a least 5 servings of grains each day, which may include half a cup of hot cereal, 1 ounce of dry cereal, or one slice of wholemeal bread. Each serving contains about 3 grams of protein.
  • Consume three or more servings of vegetables each day. This may include 1 cup of raw vegetables, half a cup of cooked vegetables, or half a cup of vegetable juice (I use my NutriBullet to make vegetable and fruit blended beverages). Each serving contains roughly 2 grams of protein.
  • Try to have 2 to 3 servings of legumes each day, including half a cup of cooked beans, 4 ounces of tofu or tempeh, 8 ounces of soymilk, and 1 ounce of nuts. While protein content can vary significantly, each serving may contain about 4 to 10 grams of protein. Meat analogues and substitutes are also great sources of protein that can be added to your daily diet. (Thanks to PCRM for this checklist).

Still not convinced?

If you’re skeptical about plant foods being able to meet your protein needs, think about the sheer bulk and muscle power of such plant-eaters as gorillas, elephants and rhinos. In the human race, consider the ultra-fit vegan athletes that don’t rely on any animal products for their super-human achievements. Strongman Patrik Baboumian, marathon champion Brendan Brazier and fighter Mac Danzig are elite athletes who swear that a plant-based is the secret behind their success. Patrik Baboumian, an Armenian-German, known as the herbivore strongman with 50-cm biceps, was quoted regarding his change to a vegetarian, then later vegan diet:

”I was amazed by the great gains in lean body-mass and strength I got with the meat-free diet,” says Patrik.

Former professional Ironman triathlete and two-time Canadian 50km Ultra Marathon Champion Brendan Brazier , swears by a whole-food vegan diet. He was also quoted in the article:

“Through good nutrition we can thrive in life without the need for stimulants, sugars and pharmaceuticals, and the Vegetarian, Vegan and Raw Plant Based Whole Food choices are the best,” Brendan says.

American MMA (mixed martial arts) and UFC fighter Mac Danzig has been a vegan since 2004 and follows a high carbohydrate, low fat raw vegan diet. According to the 33-year-old Mac, who has 21 wins under his belt from 33 bouts enjoys a diet rich in nuts, seeds, avocados, and coconuts and “feels amazing”. Maybe it was time you started feeling “amazing” too?

Tom Perry

Vegan Spring Onion Buns

spring onion bun

One of my favourite Chinese breads is the Spring Onion bun. It’s slightly sweet, tender and savoury all at the same time. If you’ve had any oriental (i.e. Chinese or Japanese) bread, you’ll find that they are sweeter and more delicate and tender in texture than your normal bread. They taste like a soft hamburger bun or brioche.

Unfortunately most of these breads are made with eggs or butter so I can’t have them.

And since I don’t want to deprive myself of these comfort foods,  I made my own vegan-friendly version of spring onion buns :)

I use the Cuisine Companion to make them which makes it feels almost like I’m cheating because the machine does all the kneading for me, but, if you want to go manual, it can certainly be done quite easily too.

The first step is to proof the yeast (i.e. ‘waking it up’ in warm sugary water) to make sure that the yeast is still active. It usually takes about 5-8 minutes. After this the process is quite simple – just add the yeast mixture to the dry mixture and knead until it’s elastic and no longer sticky. It would take about 15 minutes by hand or 3 minutes if you use a mixer with dough attachment.

Then you need to let the dough sit in a warm spot until it doubles in size.

Then the fun begins…. You cut the dough into 4 sections, use a rolling pin (or your hands) to flatten them to 1 cm thickness and spread the sliced onion all over the surface of the dough, make a log roll and cut them up in equal portions. Finally into the oven they go while you wait impatiently for them to cook…

 

Spring Onion Buns
Recipe Type: Snack
Cuisine: Vegan
Author: Keren
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 8
Easy savoury and sweet bun for morning or afternoon snack
Ingredients
  • 4 cup bread flour (white or wholemeal)
  • 1 packet (5g) of Instant yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp egg replacer mixed in 4 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp non-dairy butter or Nuttelex
  • 1/2 cup of spring onion, sliced thinly
  • 1/4 cup of non-dairy milk
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 180C. Line pan with baking paper.
  2. Mix sugar and water in a bowl or in a small pot. Microwave for 30 seconds or heat on the stove until just warm (not hot to touch).
  3. Sift flour and baking powder into the cuisine companion bowl. Add yeast mixture and press Pastry Program 1.
  4. For manual method: Sift flour and baking powder into a bowl. Add yeast mixture. Knead gently until just smooth. Leave in warm temperature covered with kitchen towel until almost double in size, about 30-60 min (depending on your weather condition)
  5. Roll out dough to a rectangle using a lightly floured rolling pin. Brush with Nuttilex.
  6. Sprinkle over onion, leaving a 1cm border on 1 long side. Starting at opposite end, roll up dough.
  7. Cut into 8 even slices. Brush with non-dairy milk.
  8. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Stand in pan for 5 minutes. Serve warm.
  9. These breads are good for freezing too. Just pop in the microwave for 30-40 second to heat up when you’re hungry.

vegan spring onion bun

Did you make this recipe?

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and/or share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #littlegreenhabits.

Love and greens, 

Keren

Protein Myth, Vegan Athletes and Plantbased Diet For Weight Loss

 

GNN #04

This week my top 5 nutrition news items focus on that perennial source of controversy with vegetarian or vegan diets – protein.

We have the current high-protein vs high-carb diet dichotomy, then there’s animal vs plant protein, and there’s the inevitable question that arises when people don’t eat meat or animal products: “where do you get your protein?”

Hopefully these articles will help to answer these questions. Not to mention the fact that, as a 190cm / 6ft 3” male, I have easily obtained enough dietary protein from plant sources since I went vegetarian (and later vegan) in 1982!

Slaying The Protein Myth

In 2014 Forks Over Knives published an article by vegan ultra-athlete, author and speaker Rich Roll titled ‘Slaying the Protein Myth’. In this article Rich Roll identifies the relentless marketing messages from the wealthy and powerful animal food industry that, naturally, would have us all believe that their products are necessary for protein intake.

Speaking as a plant-based athlete, Rich Roll can confidently say that not only is consumption of animal protein unnecessary, “it’s killing us, luring us to feast on a rotunda of factory-farmed, hormone- and pesticide-laden, low-fiber foods extremely high in saturated fat.” Rich then poses the questions; does it matter if we get our protein from plants, and how much do we need?

As Rich notes, the nine essential amino acids our body needs can readily be synthesized by a variety of plant foods, which, after all, is where herbivorous animals get it from. The danger lies not in getting too little protein, but in consuming too much animal protein. Not only is there evidence that excess protein intake is often stored in fat cells, Rich Roll writes, it contributes to the onset of a variety of diseases, such as osteoporosis, cancer, impaired kidney function, and heart disease.

Compare this to the plant-based lifestyle, which Rich Roll says repaired his health and “revitalized” his “middle-aged self” to teenage proportions.

If you’re not convinced, Rich Roll invites you to consider all the well-known, plant-based athletes (see below), and the huge, powerful animals which build their muscular bulk on raw plant foods, such as elephants, rhinos and gorillas.

Do Vegetarians and Vegans Eat Enough Protein?

The fact is adults require about 42 grams of protein intake each day, and vegetarians/vegans consume, on average, 70% more protein than the recommended intake (over 70 grams).

Another article on the Forks Over Knives website, based on Dr Michael Greger’s Nutrition Facts research, answers the question that many ask, or think of; do vegetarians/vegans get enough protein?

The real dietary deficiency in the US and other wealthy western countries (including Australia) is not protein, but fibre, which is found only in whole plant foods like beans, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

A lack of adequate dietary fibre intake has been associated with a higher risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and various cancers, as well as higher cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar.

Short answer is yes. As long as they eat enough calories to meet their dietary intake, vegetarians and vegans get enough protein.

Dr. Ornish On The Hazards Of The High-Protein Trend

In a recent op-ed piece in the New York Times, physician, author, researcher, and plant-based diet guru Dr. Dean Ornish challenges current notions about the importance of dietary animal protein and fats.

As Dr. Ornish observes, many people have claimed that obesity is linked to the high consumption of sugar and starch, and not enough meat, fat and eggs. Recently the US Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee lifted recommendations that restricted dietary cholesterol (only found in animal foods), citing research showing that dietary cholesterol doesn’t have a major impact on cholesterol levels.

Contrary to popular claims that people have abandoned meat and fat for sugary processed foods, Americans consumed 67% more added fat, 39% more sugar, and 41% more meat in 2000 than that they did in 1950, and nearly 25% more calories than they had in 1970.

The Australian Health Survey found that Aussies are eating 30 per cent less fruit and vegetables than 15 years ago, with one in four adults eating no vegetables on an average day and only 7 per cent eating the daily recommended five servings. Meanwhile, we have also decreased our grain consumption, with Australians consuming 29 per cent fewer core grain foods in 2014 than in 2011, while six per cent did not eat any at all. Instead, we are filling up more on take away food high in saturated fat, animal products, and sugar. Meat consumption in Australia has increased from 103 kg in 1962 to 111 kg per person in 2011, with chicken and pork significantly increasing their market share, and Australians allocating about 40 percent of their food expenditure on meat. As Dr Ornish notes, it’s no wonder people are fatter and unhealthier.

According to Dr. Ornish, research shows that “animal protein may significantly increase the risk of premature mortality from all causes, among them cardiovascular disease, cancer and Type 2 diabetes.” He makes the point that low-carb, high-animal protein diets promote heart disease in ways other than just their effects on cholesterol levels.

The problem with meat and egg yolks is that their increased production of TMAO – trimethylamine N-oxide significantly increases the risk of coronary heart disease and cancer. Furthermore, animal protein increases IGF-1, an insulin-like growth hormone, and chronic inflammation, an underlying factor in many chronic diseases.

Dr. Ornish has proven in randomized, controlled trials that a whole-foods, plant-based lifestyle can reverse the progression of severe coronary heart disease. After a few weeks of these trials, episodes of chest pain reduced by 91%. After 5 years, there were 2.5 times fewer cardiac events, and blood flow to the heart improved by 300%.

It is possible, writes Dr. Ornish, that these diet and lifestyle changes can alter your genes, turning on the ones that keep you healthy, and turning off genes that promote disease; and even lengthen telomeres – the ends of our chromosones that control aging.

Dr. Ornish found in his research that the more people followed a whole food plant based lifestyle, controlled stress, did regular exercise, and reduced the amount of fat and cholesterol they consumed, the more improvement in their health was measured. As Dr. Ornish puts it, “what you gain is so much more than what you give up.”

10 Male Athletes You Didn’t Know Were Vegan

As legendary US gridiron quarterback Joe Namath once said of his transition to vegetarianism, “It shows that you don’t need meat to play football.”

This list of famous vegan male athletes surely slam-dunks the archaic notion that plant based athletes don’t get enough protein, particularly animal protein, to build serious muscle strength and power.

Some of the names listed may be well known to you, such as healthy vegan diet athletes, authors and plant based advocates Rich Roll and Brendan Brazier, but some, like Mike Tyson, might raise a few eyebrows. It’s good to see an Aussie make the list too: one of our celebrated Olympic swimming champions, the ‘Seaweed Streak’, Murray Rose.

Bodybuilders, Mixed Martial Arts fighters, super-strong men; this roll call of male vegan athletic superstars demonstrates emphatically that strength and endurance can be easily developed on a fully plant based diet.

Plant-Based: Officially The Best Diet For Weight Loss

Plantbased for weightloss

You’ll always find us banging on at Little Green Habits about how a whole food plant based diet is best for long-term health and sustained weight loss. Well, now it’s official!

As recently widely reported, including the New Daily, you can save the planet, your health and your waistline by simply going veggo.

Despite the oft-repeated claims that vegetarians and vegans will waste away due to lack of animal protein, and that scarfing loads of animal protein is best to fill you up and trim off the kilos, a study recently published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found that, on average, vegetarian dieters lost an extra 2 kilos (and vegans an extra 2.5 kilos) than those who ate animal products.

Lead author Dr. Ru-Yi Huang stated:

“Vegetarian diets are more effective than non-vegetarian diets for weight loss.”

Deakin University (Melbourne, Australia) Associate Professor Tim Crowe, who reviewed the study, said that:

Even if you do it for the short term, [going vegetarian] can be an effective way to lose a small amount of weight.

Associate Professor and nutrition expert Tim Crowe encouraged people to follow a mostly plant based diet, low in sugar, and with regular exercise. “Those are the keys to long term health,” Associate Professor Crowe said. For the sake of your health, weight loss, animals and the environment, I heartily agree!

Tom Perry

Simple Green Smoothie

Do you notice how green drinks are hitting the mainstream cafes and juice bars now? Maybe it’s just me but when I go out, I see green juice everywhere. All the major juice bars seem to have it on their menu now. It’s so exciting and encouraging to see that green drinks are becoming more mainstream. Things are changing and I think it’s awesome.

I started having green smoothie about two years ago. Since then I’ve been having it almost everyday for breakfast. I did lots of trials with different recipe to find the perfect combination of fruit and vegetables and have since found a base recipe that works for me. There’s so many green smoothie recipes available online and offline that it can be overwhelming if you’re just starting out.

I used to put so much stuff (protein powder, superfood supplements, etc) to make it taste good but I have since simplified the recipe to make it easier for me to make (it’s not fun having to take out 10 different things out of the pantry every morning). So this is actually an updated recipe of my old green smoothie recipe which has twice the amount of ingredients. I’ve cut it down such that it can tastes great without having to put tons of fruit in it. Not that there’s anything wrong with fruit but if’s going to be a vegetable smoothie, I figure it should have more vegetables than fruit.

Currently, my favourite smoothie base consists of Frozen Kale, Spinach, Banana, and Avocado. I then add to it more veggies, fruits, herbs, nuts and seeds depending on what I have and what I feel like.

You can get a bit creative with it, adding different kind of fruits and vegetables, seeds, nuts, protein powder, superfood mix, etc etc. Here’s my basic breakfast Green Smoothie recipe which I have made over 200 times and shared with people. My hope is that you will give this recipe a try and start making your own green blend.

Simple Green Smoothie
Recipe Type: Drinks
Author: Keren
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: 2
Imagine being addicted to something so healthy as this. I am. Not because it’s healthy but because it tastes great and it makes me feel great.
Ingredients
  • 2 big handful (~ 3 cups) of baby spinach
  • 2 big handful (~ 3 cups) of kale leaves (washed and freeze overnight)
  • 2 medium size ripe banana
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 cup chopped cucumber
  • 6 sprigs of parsley
  • 10-15 mint leaves (the more, the better)
  • 2 cups of non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup of ice
  • Optional – 1 tbsp of each of your favourite superfoods, soaked nuts or seeds
Instructions
  1. Add ingredients in a blender starting from the heaviest item (so it catches the blade of the blender, it helps the blending process). Blend until smooth.
  2. Pour into a glass and serve.
  3. Can be refrigerated in a glass container for up to 3 days or store in the freezer for about a week

So, what do you think about green smoothie? Are you a green smoothie drinker? If so what’s your favourite green ingredients?

Lots of love,

Keren

Green Nutrition News – Obesity epidemic, how much is too much fruit and is buying organic really worth it?

My top nutrition news items this week include information from Dr Fuhrman about the increasing obesity epidemic; while Dr Greger poses the questions on his Nutrition Facts websites how much is too much fruit, and is buying organic really worth it?

GNN #03

Our Obesity Epidemic – getting worse, not better

Dr Joel Fuhrman recently posted an article about the continuing rise of obesity in the United States. As Dr Fuhrman writes, in the 28 years between 1980 and 2008, the prevalence of obesity in adults in the US more than doubled from 15% to 34%.

Today, 35.7% of Americans are obese, and a total of 68.8% are either overweight or obese.

Here in Australia, the rates of overweight and obesity amongst adults have doubled over the past two decades with Australia now being ranked as one of the fattest developed nations.

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), 63% of Australian adults are overweight or obese, and 25% of children are overweight or obese. Being overweight and obese is the second highest contributor to burden of disease, after dietary risks. Smoking is the third highest.

Why are so many people overweight?

As Dr Fuhrman says: diets don’t work. Dr Fuhrman’s belief is that Americans are not only out of touch with their hunger and fullness signals, but are addicted to their disease-causing Standard American Diet (SAD).

According to Dr Fuhrman, “trying to lose weight by eating smaller amounts of the same foods fails over and over; you do not feel satisfied by the small portions, and between meals you suffer from the uncomfortable cravings and withdrawal symptoms (headaches, light-headedness, etc.) associated with unhealthy foods”.

What is the answer?

Dr Fuhrman prescribes a high-nutrient eating style, based on larger amounts of vegetables, which helps remove addictive cravings and withdrawal symptoms.

High-nutrient, health-promoting whole plant foods provide adequate micronutrients that don’t produce toxic withdrawal symptoms; and reduce the desire to overeat.

Whole plant foods and recipes recommended by Dr Fuhrman not only satisfy you with fewer calories, but also accelerate loss of body fat. This is the most effective strategy for weight loss, disease-reversal, and enhanced longevity.

bananas  

How Much Fruit Is Too Much?

With all the publicity about the dangers of too much sugar in our diets, some people have questioned whether the fructose in fresh fruit might be a problem.

This is of particular relevance to diabetics, who might be impacted with the consumption of too much fruit, which contains fructose. As is often the case, Dr Michael Greger deftly answers this question in his Nutrition Facts online videos and articles.

In answering the question is added fructose different to the naturally occurring fructose in fruit; research shows clearly that fresh fruit has protective benefits refined sugars lack.

In one study people who ate a whopping 20 pieces of fruit a day, which translates to about 4 times the upper adult limit of fructose toxicity, experienced “no adverse effects (and possible benefits) for body weight, blood pressure, and insulin and lipid levels after 12 to 24 weeks”. In another similar study no adverse effects were reported, with an added bonus 38-point drop in LDL (bad) cholesterol.

Quoting from the Harvard Health Letter, “the nutritional problems of fructose and sugar come when they are added to foods. Fruit, on the other hand, is beneficial in almost any amount [emphasis added]”.

  organic farming

Is buying organic really worth it?

Most vegans and vegetarians are big supporters of organic farming, without use of harmful chemical fertilizers or pesticides.

Intuitively, this seems like the right thing to promote. The question arises then, should we be focusing not only on encouraging people to eat more vegetables, fruit, and healthy, natural plant foods, but also on buying (often more expensive) organic produce as well? Dr Greger of Nutrition Facts addresses this question in a series of videos.

Are Organic Foods more Nutritious?

Hundreds of studies comparing organic to conventional produce didn’t find significant differences for most of the traditional nutrients like vitamins and minerals. The conclusion was there is no strong evidence to support the perception that organically produced foods are more nutritious. The studies, did, however, find higher levels of phenolic phytonutrients, which are cancer-protective anti-oxidants. It could be argued, though, that simply by purchasing an extra serve of conventional produce (usually cheaper than organic); the same levels of phenolic phytonutrients could be obtained for around the same cost.

Are Organic Foods safer?

As Dr Greger puts it, “…organic foods may not have more nutrients per dollar, [but] consumption of organic foods may reduce exposure to pesticide residues and antibiotic-resistant bacteria”.

Studies have shown that although the risk of consuming food poisoning bacteria was the same with organic or conventional meat, exposure to multidrug resistant bacteria, resistant to multiple classes of antibiotics was lower with the organic meat.

What then of pesticide residue on plant foods?

According to Dr Greger, “There is a large body of evidence on the relation between exposure to pesticides and elevated rate of chronic diseases such as different types of cancers, diabetes, neurodegenerative disorders like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and ALS, as well as birth defects and reproductive disorders, but they’re talking about people who live or work around pesticides.”

Measuring the levels of pesticide residue running through the bodies of both children and adults after alternating between a predominantly organic and conventional diet, found that “eating organic provides a dramatic and immediate protective effect against exposures to pesticides commonly used in agricultural production”.

These dietary studies showed that during the week with mostly organic consumption, pesticide exposure was significantly reduced – by a nearly 90% drop in exposure.

Dr Greger concluded, “Consumption of organic foods provides protection against pesticides”. However, does protection against pesticides mean protection against disease? Currently, we don’t have the studies to prove this either way. In the meantime, consumption of organic food is a logical precaution.

organic apples

Are Organic Foods Healthier

As Dr Greger observes in this video report, “by eating organic we can reduce our exposure to pesticides, but it remains unclear whether such a reduction in exposure is clinically relevant”.

In some studies, organic consumers report being significantly healthier than conventional consumers. However, they also tend to eat more plant foods, less soda and less alcohol, processed meat or milk, and just eat healthier in general. No wonder they feel much better!

Dr Greger notes that the “Million Women Study in the UK was the first to examine the association between the consumption of organic food and subsequent risk of cancer. The only significant risk reduction they found, though, was for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma”.

Certainly, studies have shown that higher levels of pesticides have been linked to higher incidence of conditions including ADHD, testicular cancer and birth defects. It is unclear, though, whether the increased pesticide levels were due to other factors such as higher consumption of animal products and environmental exposure by farm workers.

To date, there haven’t been, according Dr Greger, any ‘interventional trials’, comparing people raised on organic diets compared to those raised on conventional diets – except, as Dr Greger drolly observes, studies done on fruit flies!

Organic Food Benefits – overrated or underrated?

For 25 years pesticides have been classed as probable carcinogens, potentially damaging our DNA, genes or chromosomes. Most of the damage, however, seems to be done to the farm workers in close contact with these chemicals. Exposure to pesticide residue on produce is at levels well below acceptable limits.

There is still scientific controversy about the safety of pesticide levels, even under the safe limit. Cadmium levels, about half that in organic produce, is another highly toxic heavy metal that accumulates in the body and may be linked to phosphate fertilizers used in conventional crops.

On the flip side, the ‘organic’ food market has grown substantially over the years, and isn’t always a guarantee of health. People may falsely judge organic Oreo cookies, for example, as having less calories than regular Oreos, and believe there is less need for exercise when consuming these ‘organic’ junk foods.

lychee-520481_1280

People tend to overestimate the nutritional benefits of organic food, and overestimate the risk of pesticides. In the US they erroneously believe that as many people die from pesticides residues on conventional foods as die from motor vehicle accidents. Some buyers of organic food might think that eating conventional produce is almost as bad as smoking a pack of cigarettes! The danger of this type of thinking is that it could lead to an overall decrease in fruit and vegetable consumption.

According to a study cited by Dr Greger, if half the US population increased their fruit and vegetable consumption by just one serving a day, an estimated 20,000 cancer cases might be avoided each year. Even if you allow for an additional 10 cases of cancer caused by the pesticide residue ingested due to the extra fruit and vegetable consumption; that represents potentially 19,990 fewer cases of cancer each year!

I’ll leave the last word on this subject to Dr Greger:

“We get a tremendous benefit from eating conventional fruits and vegetables that far outweighs whatever tiny bump in risk from the pesticides, but hey, why accept any risk at all when you can choose organic? I agree, but we should never let concern about pesticides stop us from stuffing our face with as many fruits and vegetables as possible”.

Tom Perry

Low Carb Stir Fry Cauliflower Rice

One day I was feeling a bit adventurous and created this recipe. I ran out of rice and I was craving something white, warm, comforting and filling. I had a huge cauliflower which I recently bought so I thought, why not make cauliflower rice.

Cauliflower rice

It is low carb, low calorie, nutritious and most importantly, delicious! I think I had twice the usual amount of cauliflower I normally have (or rice for that matter) because it was so yummy. Success!

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I used my Tefal Cuisine Companion to make this so it was pretty effortless. You can of course make it the normal (manual) way. It will take a bit more time but it will taste just as good.

The first thing you need to do is to process the cauliflower florets into fine crumbs, using the Cuisine Companion or a normal food processor. I wouldn’t recommend using a blender for this. If you don’t have a food processor, just use a cheese grater.

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I used lots of chopped garlic, ginger and cumin to flavour the ‘rice’. You can probably use spring onions or red onions as well for this. I’m a big ginger fan so I used 2 knobs of ginger to give it a bit of a ‘punch’. If you’re not a fan of ginger you might want to cut it down to one.

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Once you have all the ingredients ready, you can just ‘stir fry’ the cauliflower like you would with rice. It’s obviously a lot softer and mushier than rice so don’t expect the texture to be quite the same. It does taste like a cross between mashed potatoes and rice.

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Low Carb Stir Fry Cauliflower Rice
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Gluten Free
Author: Little Green Habits
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2-4
A unique and healthy twist on the traditional asian stir fried rice
Ingredients
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1 large knob of ginger (a knob would be one of the “arms” sticking out of the main body of ginger)
  • 1 whole cauliflower, cut into florets (around 5 cups)
  • 2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Instructions
  1. Using Superblade attachment in Cuisine Companion. Process cauliflower florets into crumb at speed 11 for 15 sec. Transfer into a big bowl.
  2. Switch to Chopping blade in Cuisine Companion, chop ginger and garlic at speed 11 for 30 sec.
  3. Switch to Stirring blade. Add cumin and coconut oil into the chopped ginger and garlic. Cook at 130C for 5 minutes at speed 4.
  4. Add cauliflower crumbs and peas. Reduce the speed to 2 and cook for a further 15 minutes.
  5. Serve immediately.
Notes
For cooking on the stove, use medium high heat and just follow the step in the recipe and stir constantly just as you would when you make stir fry.

 

 

Low-Carb Diets, Plant Protein, Vegan Tour of India, Superfoods and Breaking up with Cheese

Green Nutrition News – Top 5 Nutrition News Items

This week our top 5 nutrition news items include information from Dr Greger about the reasons why low-carb diets ultimately fail; how to get your protein from plants instead of animals; Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) vegan tour of India; on breaking up with cheese, and Rich Roll’s podcast interview with superfoods and wellness advocate Darin Olien.

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Where Low Carb Diets Fail

Dr Michael Greger, physician, author, nutrition expert and publisher of the Nutrition Facts website, recently appeared on a YouTube channel iHealthTube.com explaining why low-carb diets ultimately fail.

While acknowledging that low-carb diets such as Atkins and Paleo can lead to weight loss in some people, Dr Greger said that any diet can lead to weight loss, but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy or sustainable. Dr Greger noted that previous advice to reduce fat did lead to some refined carbohydrate junk foods being marketed as ‘low fat’ to cash in on this health advice. It is these types of processed carbs, often filled with sugar and salt, which should be avoided in favour of healthy natural carbs including fruit and vegetables.

When you are severely carb-depleted you go into a state of ‘ketosis’, which is, as Dr Greger puts it, a state of “sickness”. This can depress your appetite and cause weight loss in the short term (as well as unpleasant side effects like bad breath!). These unhealthy diets can never be sustained, however, particularly once a person goes ‘off’ the diet, and resumes more regular eating patterns.

The key, as Dr Greger advises, is to choose the diet with the greatest chance of longevity, with the lowest rates of disease, and which also helps people achieve and maintain a healthy weight; that is, a healthy plant-based diet.

  chickpea-316594_1280 How to get your protein from plants, not animals

A recent Post Bulletin article shares information from Sue Lofgren, a registered dietician at Olmsted Medical Center in the US, about protein, what it is, where to find it and a sample menu of how to get over 60 grams of protein on a vegetarian diet.

Sue gives the daily recommended allowance of protein for men and women, and notes that all foods except fruit and fat contain protein. The bottom line is that if you eat a variety of foods each day you will most likely get enough protein.

Soy products (tempeh and tofu), beans, peas, lentils, peanuts, grains, nuts and nut butters, seeds and seed butters and vegetables all contain protein. Plant-based proteins except soybeans and some grains (such as quinoa) are sometimes referred to as “incomplete proteins” because they lack one or more of the nine essential amino acids that make up “complete protein”. In practice this is not a problem as, according to Sue, “eating a variety of protein sources throughout the day will ensure you get all nine essential amino acids”.

If you are thinking of using a protein supplement, like a protein powder, Sue recommends speaking first with your healthcare provider. As Sue advises, a balanced diet from healthy natural foods is the best way to get the nutrients and energy your body needs.

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US-based doctor’s group promotes vegan life in India

Recently The Indian Express online reported a story about a tour of India by representatives of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM: a non-profit health organization with 12,000 physicians established in 1985 in the US).

In an email interview with Zeeshan Ali of PCRM is quoted as saying:

“A low-fat vegan diet, combined with a nutrition education program, is clinically proven to boost weight loss, lower blood pressure, improve total cholesterol, restore insulin function, alleviate chronic pain, particularly headaches, migraines, and joint pain. It also boosts your mood and combats chronic fatigue. Plant-based dietary patterns are associated with a reduced risk for certain forms of cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.”

As far as nutrients such as protein or iron are concerned, Mr Ali says:

“A plant-based vegan diet provides an abundance of micronutrients we often fall short on while ensuring adequate intake of the three macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein, and fat. We recommend 80 percent of calories come from carbohydrates, 10 percent from fat and 10 percent from protein.

“Choosing colourful, low-fat, plant-based foods often ensures this ratio, or a comparable one that will leave you feeling great. Especially good protein sources include whole-wheat pasta, ancient grains, beans, peas and lentils, and even leafy greens like spinach and broccoli,” he added.

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On breaking up with cheese

Vegan blogger Sara Hohn of Homemade Levity has written about her struggles giving up dairy cheese.

Sara is one of those people who used to make entire meals from cheese, which surely must rank as one of the most addictive animal products. As Sara notes, who can deny that “gooey, salty, fatty, creamy foods are delicious?”

In this article, Sara shares some “whole food substitutes for cheese that can help you achieve the same types of flavors, without the dairy”.

Sara talks about focusing on adding lots of flavor to your plant-based food, including fresh herbs, sauces, dressings and spices, and making more of an effort in the kitchen to come up with tasty alternatives to cheese as a convenience food.

There are significant health issues with cheese highlighted in this article, including its high saturated fat and cholesterol content, and the links between dairy products and an increased risk of cancer and diabetes. Also mentioned is the cruelty of the dairy industry that ruthlessly exploits dairy cows and their offspring.

Several quality cheese substitutes are referred to in this article, which unfortunately for us in Australia are all US-based and unavailable. However, as Sara points out, you can make dairy free cheese from coconut milk, nuts, chickpea flour, even potatoes! She links to several vegan cheese recipes in her article.

If you’re wondering how you can give up, or reduce your reliance on dairy products, I recommend you read our 9 tips for giving up dairy, including cheese.

Have you tried any non-dairy cheeses or vegan cheese recipes? If you have, let us know what you think!

Superfoods for a superlife – in search of optimal longevity and nutrition

Rich Roll, plant-based vegan ultra-athlete, author, speaker, podcaster and blogger, featured Darin Olien on his podcast number 153. On this podcast, Darin shares insights and wisdom with Rich from his extraordinary adventure-based experiences as a widely recognized exotic superfoods hunter, wellness advocate and environmental activist.

To help himself heal from a football injury when he was young, Darin embarked on a twenty year quest to study exotic, indigenous herbs and superfoods across the globe. This included communing with thousands of rural farmers, growers and manufacturers in remote communities across Peru, Bhutan, the Amazon, the Himalayas, the South Pacific, Latin America and Asia. Now Darin sources high-quality, fair-trade superfoods and herbal commodities to market through his company, Darin’s Naturals.

In his work with fitness company Beachbody, Darin was instrumental in the development and ongoing formulation of the wildly successful whole-food supplement, Shakeology.

Darin chronicles his experience in his new book Superlife: The 5 Forces That Will Make You Healthy, Fit and Eternally Awesome – as well as on his website Superlife – where he demystifies health, fitness, nutrition, and longevity into simple daily actions designed to promote life-long wellness.

As Rich Roll observes, the term superfoods is prone to overuse. Are these foods truly “super” or is it all just exaggerated marketing hype? This is a conversation that explores that issue and much more. Recommended listening.

Hope you enjoy this week’s Green Nutrition News! Let me know what you think about any of the topics in the comment section below.

Tom Perry

 

Fragrant Superhero Fried Rice

When I received a call that my recipe was selected to be part of the Superfoods Kitchen Cookbook, I was over the moon…

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I can’t help feeling proud to have my recipe being featured in this cookbook. Around 200 recipe entries were submitted and reviewed, a number of those were tested and judged by the judging panel of nutritionists and naturopaths for taste and nutritional value and then around 70 recipes made it to the cookbook. I chose quite a difficult category to “veganise” (dinner category) and my most favourite naughty meal to “healthivise” (fried rice). I thought, everyone can make a healthy and delicious salad but I wanted to show how plant-based dishes can be the star of a meal, not just as a side dish, and how comfort food can be made healthy. I really didn’t think I would make the cut but I did so here we are.

The Superfoods Kitchen cookbook, although it is not strictly a plant-based cookbook, it features lots of vegan recipes and recipes which can be easily ‘veganised’. It has over 70 great recipes from savoury to sweets and it caters for all dietary requirements including gluten free, dairy free, nut free and of course, vegan. 

Now on to this fried rice recipe that made it through to the final.

Fragrant Superhero Fried Rice

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I called it fragrant superhero fried rice because when ever I think of the word superfood, it reminds me of the word Superman . So I thought, if Superman was vegan and eats fried rice, what would it look like? So I created the recipe with that in mind. I thought, this fried rice will give all the energy and nutrients a superhero needs to fight the villains and save the day. It’s clean and fresh tasting, simple and easy to make, 100% vegan and delicious, if I may say so myself.

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The recipe features the amazing Brussel sprouts  for anti-cancer, bean curd for a hit of protein, coriander for digestion (and the fragrant aroma), carrots and bean sprouts for fiber, minerals and tasty crunch! It is also highly adjustable and almost foolproof. Use whatever vegetables you have in the fridge, the more the merrier.

Tips: Add the vegetables in order of their weight (heaviest first and lightest last) for even cooking. As long as you stir constantly, maintain the heat (high) and season well, you’ll end up with something tasty.

So here it is. Go and save the day :)

fragrant superhero friedrice

Superhero Fried Rice
Recipe Type: Main
Cuisine: Vegan, glutenfree
Author: Keren
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Fragrant and delicious supercharged fried rice to fuel the superhero in you.
Ingredients
  • Vegetables
  • 2 cups of baby Brussels Sprouts trimmed and cut into quarters
  • 1 cup of cooked Brown Rice
  • 1 cup of diced Extra Firm Bean Curd
  • 1 big handful of Bean Sprouts
  • 1 large Carrot, diced
  • Spices
  • 1 large Shallots, sliced
  • 1 knob of Ginger (about 2cm), grated
  • 2 Green Onions, sliced
  • 6 garlic Cloves, sliced
  • 1 small Red Chilli, thinly sliced (optional)
  • 1 cup chopped Coriander
  • Seasonings
  • 3 tbsp of Coconut Oil
  • 2 tbsp of Light soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp Vegetarian Oyster sauce
  • 3 drops of Sesame oil
  • ¼ cup Bioglan Chia seeds + 1 tablespoon set aside
  • A sprinkle of ground white pepper
Instructions
  1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in wok; add chopped onions, grated ginger, garlic and stir-fry until onions turn a nice brown color, about 5 minutes; remove from wok and set aside.
  2. Add 2 tbsp oil to wok, swirling to coat surfaces; add sliced bean curd and stir-fry for 2 minutes until brown.
  3. Add brussels sprouts, carrots, and cooked onion; stir-fry for 3 minutes.
  4. Add brown rice, green onions, and bean sprouts, tossing to mix well; stir-fry for 3 minutes. If the rice is sticking on the bottom of the wok, add a few tablespoon of water (up to ¼ cup) to release it.
  5. Add all the sauces (2 tbsp light soy sauce, 1 tbsp oyster sauce and 3 drops of sesame sauce) and ¼ cup of chia seeds to rice mixture
  6. Fold in; add ground pepper and chopped chilli if preferred, stir-fry for 2 minutes more; taste.
  7. Adjust the flavour by adding more sauce or season to taste.
  8. Fold in chopped coriander to finish. Sprinkle with 1 tbsp chia seeds to garnish.
  9. Set out additional soy sauce on the table, if desired.

 

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If you make this, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below or find me on Instagram and share your creation. Don’t forget to tag me @passionatelykeren so I won’t miss your post.

Keren x