Halloween Special – Vegan Peanut Butter Pumpkin Pancakes

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A couple of days ago I found a very old costume from a Halloween party I went to about six years ago. I remember staying up until 3 am to sew my own costume. It was a great night: I rocked it as the Corpse Bride, and even won the best costume award!

Next to being able to walk around in a blue-coloured, blood-splashed wedding gown, Halloween is a great excuse to make and eat anything pumpkin-related! I didn’t want to make yet another pumpkin pie this year so I thought, why not make something for breakfast? And that’s how these Peanut Butter Pumpkin Pancakes were born.

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Why I love it:

Tender pancakes that are healthy, simple and easy to make. They’re sumptuous and I love how beautiful my kitchen smells when I make these. It also makes an impressive pancake stack for the Instagram fans among you.

Pumpkin is loaded in fibre and antioxidants including beta-carotene, which the body converts into a form of vitamin A. It is also rich in potassium, an important mineral that’s crucial for maintaining normal organ functions. Peanut butter on the other hand is rich in protein, healthy fats and tryptophan. And the pair taste beautiful when put together.

Peanut Butter Pumpkin Pancakes

Vegan Peanut Butter Pumpkin Pancakes
Recipe Type: Breakfast
Author: Keren Natalia
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
Vegan Peanut Butter Pumpkin Pancake
Ingredients
  • Dry:
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp allspice (pimento)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate soda
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Wet
  • 1/3 cup packed mashed pumpkin
  • ¾ cup non-dairy milk + 1 tbsp of lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 4 tbsp maple syrup
  • Filling:
  • 2/3 cup packed mashed pumpkin
  • ½ cup peanut butter
Instructions
Cuisine Companion Method:
  1. Combine ¾ cup milk and lemon juice in a large bowl and let rest for 5 minutes to curdle
  2. Prepare Cuisine Companion with the mixing blade, add all the ingredients into a bowl. .
  3. Add remaining ingredients and combine sp 4 / 10 – 30 secs (until smooth)
  4. Let the batter sit for 10 minutes.
  5. Heat up a non-stick pan over low heat.
  6. Add about 1/4 cup of batter to the pan. Cook for 3 minutes, or until the top is looking dry and the edges are dry and firm. Flip over and cook another 2 minutes.
  7. Make your pancake tower using the filling. Place one pancake on plate, layer with 1-2 tablespoon of mashed pumpkin. Place another pancake and layer with 1 tablespoon of peanut butter. Continue until you have a tall stack of pancakes. Top the last layer with mashed pumpkin.
  8. Serve with a generous drizzle of maple syrup.
Manual Method – replace the above step 2-4 with the following:
  1. In one bowl, whisk all the wet ingredients together.
  2. In a second bowl, sift all the dry ingredients together.
  3. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and stir well until smooth.

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. I’d love to hear from you.

 

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Love and greens,

Keren Natalia

The Truth about Soy

Soybeans Soy – good or bad?

I went to buy a litre of soymilk recently, and the lady serving me commented “oh, I heard that stuff is bad for you!”

Wait,…what? Who would think it’s not only ok, but almost their duty to warn a perfect stranger – about to buy one of their shop’s goods – about the dangers of soy! Anyway, I smiled and told her that I’d drunk this ‘stuff’ for years (since 1983 for the record!) and it was perfectly healthy.

Apart from the dubious practice of making negative comments about a customer’s product choices, this demonstrated to me the power of propaganda against certain plant foods. And yet, I can’t really blame her. It seems that on a regular basis there’s some crack-pot article or online diatribe about the many ‘dangers’ of the humble soybean.

Recently on some website called ‘Living Traditionally’ (whatever that means!) they posted an article with the catchy (some might say hyperbolic) title of ‘Top 10 Shocking Reasons to Avoid Soy Milk’. Apparently, according to this article, drinking soymilk is “destroying your health”.

To summarize, some of the allegations listed were that:

  • 99% of soy is genetically modified (truth: most commercial soymilk brands state ‘GM free’ on their cartons);
  • soymilk contributes to vitamin B12 deficiency (truth: most soymilk brands are fortified with B12);
  • the isoflavones in soy cause breast cancer (truth: according to Dr Joel Fuhrman, “…it appears that isoflavones have a number of anti-cancer effects that are unrelated to their ability to bind the estrogen receptor”)
  • plant estrogens found in soy, called phytoestrogens, disrupt endocrine function and lead to infertility and  breast cancer in women (truth: again, Dr Fuhrman advises: “the large body of evidence that convincingly suggests that whole and minimally processed soy foods protect against breast cancer”)

Other articles on soy make all sorts of sensationalist claims, and would have the nutritious soybean and its food derivatives cast as a toxic villain of international conspiracy proportions.

Some of the other main claims against soy are that:

  • Soy causes malnutrition and digestive distress
  • Soy increases the risk of cancer and heart disease
  • Soy consumption is linked with immune system breakdown, thyroid dysfunction, cognitive decline, reproductive disorders and infertility.

Soybeans

Soy doesn’t stop you having babies

The last claim of soy causing infertility has no basis in reality. I have been a vegetarian – and now vegan – for 33 years, and successfully produced 4 children. A vegan brother of mine, another big soy consumer, has 3 big healthy boys. None of the vegetarian or vegan men I know of or have heard of have experienced any fertility problems. That is not to say it has never happened, but there is not a shred of evidence to show that men (or women) who consume high levels of soy have greater fertility problems, on average, than the rest of the population. Indeed, the huge populations of big soy consumers in Asian countries such as China and Japan would suggest this claim is more than a little fanciful!

Soy is safe for kids

The anti-soy lobby’s claim (led by Joseph Mercola) that we are damaging our children by feeding them soy is not supported by the evidence. An article titled Is Soy Milk Safe for Children? By Shereen Lehman notes that:

“The American Academy of Pediatrics states that soy formulas are safe and effective for infants, and research shows no hormonal effects in long-term feeding of soy formulas.”

A 2005 study compared the nutritional status and growth of 168 infants who were allergic to cow’s milk and were fed either soya-based infant formula or hydrolyzed whey formula. In both groups, nutrient intake and growth were ‘within reference values’ – in other words, they grew normally (Seppo et al., 2005).

All four of my children had soy formula as babies, and still enjoy soy milk on a regular, daily basis. All are healthy and developmentally normal; in fact taller than average for their age.

Soy Milk

Soy protects against cancer

Most evidence suggests that soy protects against many types of cancer, rather than increases the risk of it. Consider these facts:

  • The average Japanese person consumes 50-80 grams of soy food daily
  • The average American eats 5 grams of soy a day
  • Japanese people have much lower rates of colon and lung cancer than Americans
  • Japan has the lowest rate of death from heart disease for men in the world, and the second lowest for women
  • American women are 5 times more likely to die from breast cancer than Japanese women
  • American men are 5 times more likely to die from prostate cancer than Japanese men

As noted in an online article by Neal Barnard M.D, Adjunct Associate Professor of Medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine and President of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine in Washington, DC:

“…regular consumption of at least a modest amount of soy products cut the risk of recurrence [of breast cancer] by 25 percent.”

Dr Joel Furhman advises that:

“…a 2009 meta-analysis of studies on soy and prostate cancer found that higher soy intake was associated with a 26% reduction in risk.”….and also: “soy foods are not only associated with decreased risk of hormonal cancers, but also lung, stomach, and colorectal cancers.”

Soy good for you

As Dr Barnard explains, studies show that soy protein is “highly digestible”.

Dr Barnard also says that soy foods “do not cause thyroid problems in people with normal functioning thyroids”, and that, despite the presence of some phytates in soy, studies show that “calcium [in soy products] is absorbed as well as calcium from cow’s milk.”

The good news is that tests have shown that soybean protein is equivalent in quality to protein found in beef, milk and egg white. Soybeans are packed with iron, zinc and calcium; are high in fibre; low in saturated fat and contain no cholesterol.  Their polyunsaturated and omega 3 fats help lower blood cholesterol and prevent blood clotting.

Want more proof of the health benefits of soybeans?

The Truth about Soy

The Truth about Soy’s health benefits

The Victorian government’s Better Health Channel (with information produced in consultation with and approved by Deakin University here in Melbourne) states that:

“Soybeans are members of the pea (legume) family of vegetables…and contain hormone-like substances called phytoestrogens that mimic the action of the hormone oestrogen. The health benefits of soy for menopausal women could include fewer hot flushes, protection from coronary heart disease (CHD) and lowered risk of osteoporosis.”

This website lists all the other health benefits of soybeans:

  • high in fibre
  • high in protein
  • low in saturated fat
  • cholesterol free
  • lactose free
  • a good source of omega-3 fatty acids
  • a source of antioxidants
  • high in phytoestrogens.

The incredibly versatile soybean can be consumed in a myriad of forms, including miso; soy breads and cereals; soy cheese; soy milk; soy flour; soy grits and soy flakes; soy meats; soy pasta; soy sauce; soy snacks; soy bean oil; tempeh; Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP); tofu, and tofu desserts such as soy ice-cream and yoghurt.

As always, for optimal health I recommend that you focus mainly on whole soybeans, or foods made with whole soybeans, and traditional soy foods with minimal processing, such as tempeh and tofu.

Tempeh

Meat eaters consume the most soy

With all the anti-soy propaganda around, perhaps the ultimate irony is that people who eat pork, beef, chicken, dairy and fish indirectly consume the most amount of commercially farmed soy.

According to online reports by the soy industry:

“about 85% of the world’s soybeans are processed, or “crushed,” annually into soybean meal and oil.”  Nearly all (98%) that soybean meal is further processed into animal feed. Most of the oil (95%) is consumed as edible oil; the rest is used for “industrial products such as fatty acids, soaps and biodiesel.”

So, if you genuinely want to boycott the commercial, GM soy crop industry, you have only one choice: avoid consuming edible oils (better for your health anyway) and to go vegan!

Final word on soy

I urge you to pay no heed to the ‘chicken littles’ who would convince you the sky will fall down if you consume some tempeh, soymilk or tofu. I have happily consumed soy products for over 30 years, and as part of a healthy, balanced diet I, and my family, can heartily recommend them (just quietly, so can billions of other people all over the world, too!).

Bean appetit!

Tom Perry

Further References:

The Book of Tofu, by William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi
All You Need to Know About Soy – Sanitarium Health Food Company
Soy Miracle, by Earl Mindell
Eat to Live, by Sue Radd and Dr Kenneth Setchell

The Perfect Tofu Scramble

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At one point, I believe that most vegans will crave scrambled egg. They will either make peace with never having scrambled egg ever again or (my crowd) they will try the vegan tofu way.

Truth is, though it doesn’t taste exactly like scrambled egg, it tastes pretty darn delicious and it certainly hits the spot!

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The secrets to making a perfect tofu scramble, I believe comes down to two things;

  1. Using hard firm tofu and removing as much liquid from it so it doesn’t go soggy and
  2. Adding spices to lift the flavour profile of tofu, which doesn’t taste much like anything on its own

This is my number one recipe for tofu scramble and the great thing about it is that you can use any veggies you have in the fridge. My favourite is mushroom and spinach. I think they make the perfect tofu scramble.

Why I love it:

Apart from the fact that it looks like scramble egg and tasty, it tastes kinda egg-y (especially when served with kala-namak), comforting and satisfying. The addition of nutritional yeast gives it a mild cheesy flavour as well as a yellow tinge (also from the turmeric) similar to the colour of scrambled egg.

This tofu scramble is loaded with protein (about 30g per serving). It is rich in fibre as well as other essential minerals such as iron, magnesium, phosphorus, copper and selenium. You’ll also get a dose of antioxidants, anticancer phytonutrients, and immune boosters from the cumin and turmeric combo. It’s a high protein, low carb, low fat meal which contains zero cholesterol. It’s a perfect breakfast for champions!

Tofu Scramble

The Perfect Tofu Scramble
Recipe Type: Breakfast
Author: Keren Natalia
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • Tofu Scramble and filling
  • 450g of hard firm tofu
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, diced
  • 1 cup baby spinach
  • 1 cup button mushroom, sliced
  • Seasoning
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 3 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • a pinch of kala namak/ black salt (optional but highly recommended)
Instructions
  1. Drain excess water off of tofu and let it sit on a clean cloth or paper towel for about 5 minutes to absorb excess moisture.
  2. Using a non-stick frying pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for about one minute or until soft.
  3. Using your hands, crumble the tofu into the pan. If the tofu starts giving up a lot of water, increase the heat a little to dry off the water.
  4. Add the soy sauce, mushroom, onion, chilli, cumin and turmeric powder and cook until the mushrooms are tender, stirring every so often.
  5. Serve with some toasted bread or steamed veggies.
  6. Add the baby spinach then turn the heat off. Stir for about a minute until the spinach is wilted.
  7. Add the nutritional yeast. Taste and adjust seasoning if required. Sprinkle with a little kala namak and freshly cracked pepper and serve.
Notes
1. Replace spinach with kale or any other greens you like diced asparagus, spring beans, or even peas and corns.[br]2. Add a splash of non-dairy milk for a creamier scramble.[br]3. Add some shredded dairy-free cheese for a cheesy twist.

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 Natalia 

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7 Reasons Why Moderation Doesn’t Work

About 2 years ago I was advised to make significant changes to my diet by a nutritionist, due to my need to lose some weight and reduce my high cholesterol levels. I was advised to cut right down on fats, eat less highly-refined and processed foods, and eat a lot more whole plant foods.

A family member responded to this advice with a familiar saying, “oh, but everything’s all right in moderation.” We’ve all heard this clichéd remark at some time, and it sounds quite reasonable, doesn’t it? Eat a little bit of this; drink a little glass of that. No harm done, eh? The problem is that this can be a huge barrier to positive change.

Thinking about this ‘everything in moderation’ idea made me realise why so many people fail to reach their goals. Goals for sustainable weight loss, eating more healthfully, cutting out harmful influences, getting fitter.

7 reasons why moderation doesn’t work

7 Reasons Why Moderation Doesn’t Work

1. Moderation breeds mediocrity

Moderation breeds mediocrity, and mediocrity never brings outstanding results. When advice is given to promote real, lasting, positive change, how often have you heard someone say “take moderate action”? Doesn’t sound very inspiring, does it? To be, and keep motivated to progress, you shouldn’t accept mediocrity, or the Aussie attitude of “rough enough is good enough”. In most cases, it’s not.

2. Moderation doesn’t help change habits

When someone tries to give up smoking, they are advised to quit, period; not to smoke “moderately”. When an alcoholic wants to get off the booze, moderation is not going to cut it. A heroin addict is never advised to “shoot up in moderation”. If you carry a lot of excess weight, a few less chips or donuts or melted cheese toasties, or whatever your personal vice is, is not going to create a slimmer, healthier, more energetic you.

3. Moderation avoids taking big steps to create big change

Small steps can be fine at first to help lay the foundation for good habits, but in the long run big steps are better to create a momentum to effect change. Why? Big steps bring you closer to the desired change, quicker. Big steps make a powerful statement, and psychologically prepare you to break ingrained habits. If you want big results, you need to take bold, decisive action.

4. Moderation is avoiding risk

Moderation is avoiding risk – when in reality it’s the risk of living and being much healthier. Now, by taking bold action I don’t mean that you take potentially harmful risks, or that you don’t follow sound medical advice. It doesn’t mean that you won’t sometimes falter, and find it difficult to stay on track to your goals. But it does create a mind-set to break unhealthy habits and replace them with healthier ones.

Moderation Excuse

 

5. Moderation excuse is really about resisting change

The truth is, the ‘moderation’ excuse is really about resisting change and holding on to the status quo. Dietary habits are rooted in family and cultural norms, and the thought of changing them may be to threatening some; even offensive. Change can be uncomfortable at first, but if it means ditching negative practices and embracing health and vitality, the rewards can be life-transforming.

6. Moderation can mean poor diet and lifestyle choices

Significant change in dietary terms means not just cutting down, but cutting out foods that are detrimental to your health and weight loss goals, and especially foods that you simply don’t need. Foods such as animal fats, animal products, butter, margarine and oils, and highly processed foods high in fat, sugar, and chemicals, such as commercially produced bread, buns, processed meats, dairy products, and others. Focus instead on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and legumes. You’ll experience a big change for the better, both in your weight loss and enhanced metabolism.

7. The ‘moderation’ mind-set can be harmful, even deadly

When someone has serious health issues, like my recent (very) high cholesterol and blood pressure, a little moderation in lifestyle change is simply an admission of failure, which could potentially have a fatal outcome.

In a recent video by Dr Michael Greger from Nutrition Facts, “Everything in moderation. Even heart disease?” Dr Greger is critical of the mainstream health advice of keeping cholesterol levels below 200 mg/dl. He believes that medical authorities are withholding the full truth about heart disease to avoid recommending lifestyle changes that some might see as too drastic (or not ‘moderate’ enough!).

I can vouch for this personally. When I made significant changes, including switching to a low-fat, whole-food, plant based diet, and taking medication, my cholesterol fell from a life-threatening high of 430 mg/dl (11.1 mmol) to a safe 120 mg/dl (3.1 mmol). By taking bold action, I dodged a bullet.

According to decades of data from the Framingham Heart Study, 35% of heart attacks occur in people who have cholesterol levels between 150 mg/dl and 200 mg/dl. And so a target level of only around 200 mg/dl ensures that millions of US citizens will die of coronary disease. As Dr Greger puts it –

“If the coronary artery disease epidemic is seen as a raging fire, and cholesterol and fats are the fuels, the American Heart Association has merely recommended cutting the flow of fuel. The only tenable solution is to cut off the fuel supply altogether – by reducing cholesterol levels to those proven to prevent coronary disease.”

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The ‘moderation’ advice is misguided at best; and at worst, downright dangerous. It allows people to justify and keep following bad habits, while the reality is many people do not consume unhealthy foods ‘in moderation’.

Obesity continues to increase, and is now considered the most serious health issue facing the developed world. Obesity and being overweight pose a major risk for chronic diseases including Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension and stroke and certain forms of cancer. My country, Australia, is today ranked as one of the fattest nations in the developed world. The prevalence of obesity in Australia has more than doubled in the past 20 years; becoming the single biggest threat to public health. An article in Web MD referred to the US obesity epidemic as “astronomical”.

So if you hear someone say “everything in moderation” about eating or drinking foods and fluids that are unhealthy, please throw that piece of dietary advice straight in the bin. You know better, and you know how to eat and live better too. By all means start making small changes for the better at first, but keep yourself motivated by having a bolder, larger goal; that of sustained good health – for life.

Tom Perry

Avocado Chocolate Ice Cream

Hmmmm…avocado chocolate ice cream. The idea for this recipe came from an incident where I accidentally defrosted my avocados from the freezer. Instead of re-freezing it I thought, why not make something with it!

Why I love it:

It’s nutritious, delicious and vegan. A clean snack alternative without any refined sugar or added thickeners, which are normally found in commercial ice cream. Who doesn’t love a good old chocolate ice cream??

Avocado is an excellent source of good fat, which supports healthy heart function. Cacao powder contains a high amount of antioxidants and well… it’s chocolate.

It’s incredibly easy to make. Just blend all the ingredients and then churn using an ice cream maker. I use Cuisine Art 2 Litre Ice Cream Maker but you can probably fit it in a 1.5 Litre ice cream maker.

Avocado Chocolate Ice Cream
Recipe Type: Dessert
Author: Keren Natalia
Prep time:
Total time:
Serves: about 1.2 litre
Ingredients
  • 2 cups of mashed avocados
  • 2 cups of coconut cream
  • ½ cup cacao powder
  • ½ cup rice malt syrup
  • ¼ cup dark choc bits (optional)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract a pinch of salt (optional but highly recommended)
Instructions
Cuisine Companion Method:
  1. Blend using ultra blade for 30 second speed 8.
  1. Churn using a prepared ice cream maker.
  1. Add choc bits if using. Freeze for at least 4 hours.
  1. Let sit for 10-15 minutes at room temperature before scooping the ice cream.
Using Power Blender or Food Processor:
  1. Blend or process all ingredients together until smooth.
  1. Add choc bits if using and mix with using a large spoon.
  1. Churn using a prepared ice cream maker.
  1. Freeze for at least 4 hours.
  1. Let sit for 10-15 minutes at room temperature before scooping the ice cream.
Notes
Instead of Avocado Chocolate Ice Cream you can convert the recipe to Avocado Chocolate Pudding by putting the avocado choc mix in ramekins and then chill it in the fridge for at least 4 hours.

Did you make this recipe?

Please let me know if you had go making this. I love to see your marvelous creations! Leave a comment below and/or share a picture on Instagram with and tag @passionatelykeren :)

Love and greens,

Keren

Omega 3 – which is best: fish or plants?

What are Omega 3 fatty acids?

Omega-3 fatty acids, also known as polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), play a crucial role in brain function, as well as normal growth and development. Omega-3 fats include eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which are typically found in fish and fish oil. Some plant-based foods, including flaxseeds, walnuts and chia seeds, also contain omega-3 in the form of alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), which also helps heart health.

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Why is Omega 3 good for you?

Omega-3 fatty acids are necessary for human health, but our bodies can’t make them. Research indicates that omega-3 fatty acids EPA and DHA found in fish oil can help lower triglycerides, cholesterol and blood pressure. Some studies suggest that omega-3 fatty acids may help with other conditions, including improving immune function, allergic reactions, rheumatoid arthritis, depression, asthma, ADHD, Alzheimer’s disease and many more.

Problems with fish oil supplements and fish consumption

When I was a kid, the main source of fish in my diet was occasional ‘fish and chips’ (typically on a Friday night), with the fish being shark-meat (‘flake’) fried in batter; tinned sardines, or tuna casserole. ‘Fish oil’ was unknown as a dietary supplement then, and it was only relatively recently that fish oil became marketed as an essential part of a healthy diet.

Fish and Krill oil supplements are big business, and are the main dietary source of omega 3 fatty acids for most people. Sales of fish oil supplements reached $1.1 billion in the U.S. in 2010, up 11%, according to Nutrition Business Journal. A report by a market research firm in 2012 predicted that global retail omega 3 sales was predicted to reach $34.7 billion by 2016.

But before we all swallow the line that fish oil is some sort of ‘super food’, is there a downside? The short answer is ‘yes’ – there are many problems with consuming fish and fish oil!

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High Fish diets do no favors for your heart

A Forbes Magazine article  referred to a large study conducted at McMaster University which raised questions about whether consumption of fish oil has any effect on preventing heart attacks at all. In this large study, the 6,281 patients who took fish oil were no more or less likely to die from cardiovascular causes than the 6,255 who received a placebo. The study found that consumption of fish oil did not lead to fewer heart attacks, fewer strokes, fewer hospitalizations for heart problems, fewer stent procedures, or less chest pain.

According to a study in the Canadian Journal of Cardiology, diets high in fish do not promote a healthy heart, and may increase risk of heart disease.

The diets and health of Eskimos and Inuits in Greenland and North America were analysed by researchers in a review of ten different studies. Researchers found that Eskimos in Greenland have similar rates of heart disease, an overall mortality rate twice as high, and a life expectancy 10 years shorter, compared with non-Eskimos. Compared with non-native populations, North American Inuits have similar if not higher rates of heart disease.

The authors conclusion was that an “Eskimo diet” has previously been wrongly identified as heart healthy and that such a high-fat diet is better labelled dangerous.

Melissa Breyer from the Mother Nature Network writes: “although many studies link consumption of fish oil to reduced depression, a 2011 meta-analysis by Yale University researchers debunked the idea that omega-3s alleviate the blues.”

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Increased fish and fish oil consumption increases prostate cancer risk

Men who eat fatty fish or take fish oil supplements have a 71 per cent higher risk for dangerous high-grade prostate cancer, according to research published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. This research was widely reported in the Melbourne Age, the Herald Sun, and ABC Science online.

In 2011 the same team of researchers published similar findings, that high blood concentrations of DHA more than doubled the risk of prostate cancer.

According to Ian Olver, chief executive of the Australian Cancer Council:

“The reality is that if something is good for you, it doesn’t mean that 10 times of it is better. It is unlikely someone would be diagnosed with a deficiency of fish oil. There is a view out there that extra vitamins and antioxidants are good for you. And people take more thinking that more is better.”

Fish oil won’t make your baby brainer

It has been thought that omega-3 fatty acids, consumed via oily fish or in fish oil capsules, could possibly boost fetal brain development in the womb.

However, research indicates that pregnant women taking fish oil supplements don’t improve their baby’s brain function or intelligence.

In this study, researchers led by Maria Makrides of the South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute in Adelaide analyzed date gathered from 300 families in which the mothers had consumed 800 milligrams of an omega-3 supplement per day during their pregnancy.

The study authors compared results from the children of mothers who hadn’t taken the supplements with the children of those who had. Crucially, by the time they reached the age of 4, boys and girls born to the group taking the supplements showed no advantage when it came to language, memory, problem-solving and/or reasoning skills, according to the researchers.

Dr. Catherine Herway, assistant director of maternal-fetal medicine at Staten Island University Hospital in New York City, was quoted in an online article as saying:

“It is very appealing to say to a woman that if she takes a pill every day, her baby will become smarter. The reality is that despite all of our advancements in modern science, the best advice remains the same: To optimize maternal and fetal health, there remains no substitute for a well-balanced diet.”

There are several potential pitfalls with using fish oil, including:

  • Fish oil may contain toxins and contaminants that have accumulated in the environment, including arsenic, cadmium, lead, mercury, PCBs and dioxins.
  • Fish oil supplements may cause nausea, diarrhea, loose stools, decreased appetite, constipation, vomiting and fat in the stool.
  • Fish oil has a limited shelf-life, and may become rancid (researchers at New Zealand’s Crop and Food Research Institute tested capsules from an array of brands from countries all over the world and discovered that a majority of the capsules they tested had begun to oxidize).
  • Some people have fish or shellfish allergies.
  • Regular consumption of fish oil can cause unpleasant fish breath or “fish burps”.
  • Over-fishing of target species and krill for oil production can seriously deplete fish stocks and food for other marine animals. For example, an April 2011 article published by “Nutra Ingredients” reported that some penguin populations have fallen 50 per cent due to a fall in the availability of krill.

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Plant sources of Omega 3

As a vegan, I do not eat fish or take fish oil. So, if I don’t get my omega 3 fats from fish or fish oil, then where from?

Flaxseed (flax) is the richest source of ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) containing 50 – 60% omega-3 fatty acids, and lignans (powerful anti-oxidants), that researchers have found helpful in preventing heart disease, protecting against inflammatory disorders and certain cancers, and lowering your cholesterol. Flaxseeds add a mild, nutty flavour to a variety of foods and are an excellent source of fibre, high quality protein and potassium.

One of the limitations of Flaxseed Oil (apart from not being recommended for heating and cooking) is that the body has to convert its ALA (alpha-linolenic acid) into EPA and DHA, the omega-3 fatty acids found in fish oil. Some researchers think that flaxseed oil might have some of the same benefits as fish oil, but the body is not very efficient at converting ALA into EPA and DHA (conversion efficiency may be as low as 5 per cent).

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Omega 3 from algae – getting it from the source

Did you know that fish don’t naturally produce omega 3? The omega 3 fatty acids obtained from fish that humans eat originally comes from the algae the fish eat. Extracting DHA and EPA omega 3 fatty acids from algae means you’re getting it straight from the source – clean and green.

There are several benefits by taking omega-3 supplements from a plant (algae) source, including:

  • You get all the benefits of fish oil omega-3, without concerns about impurities, contaminants, or of course diminishing fish stocks – this is a fully sustainable source of omega-3, and much more environmentally friendly.
  • It’s better for everyone, including vegans, vegetarians, pregnant and breastfeeding women.
  • Research indicates that pure algae-sourced omega-3 is more effectively absorbed by the body than fish oil.
  • The balance of DHA and EPA fatty acids is at least as good, if not better than fish oil in terms of health benefits, and superior to Flaxseed Oil.

Some brands of plant-sourced omega-3 oil I have used and recommend are Dr Fuhrman’s vegan supplement DHA+EPA PurityDeva, which is 100% vegan, vegetarian and is certified by the Vegan Society, the non-profit organization that actually invented the word “vegan”, and Opti-3.

Other brands that you may like to investigate include Green Omega 3  and Lifestream V-Omega 3 .

A final word: please follow this advice from Web MD : Before you start using any supplement, you should always discuss it with your doctor or health care provider. He or she may have specific recommendations — or warnings — depending on your health and the other medicines you take.

Tom Perry

In Asia – North Strathfield

People who love to eat are always the best people. Julia Child.

In Asia

What’s better than eating great food?

Eating it with people who are passionate about it as much as you are.

This post is long overdue. I blame myself for losing the first draft of this post and spending too much time trying to find it instead of just letting it go and writing it again. Sometimes it’s hard to let go.

A while back I was invited to an Instameet at In Asia, a contemporary Asian restaurant in North Strathfield. I was joined by Brendon The Smiling Chef, the organiser for this event, as well as 15 or so other passionate food bloggers.

I was quite surprised with how much food there was available for me to eat. The restaurant was super accommodating of my plant-based needs. They ‘veganised’ some of the dishes for me, and served me with some of their very own vegan-friendly options. Let’s just say I didn’t come home hungry. Here are some of the things I had that night. Mind you, I was the only vegan in the group so all these were for me. Mine, all mine!

Herbal Crusted Tofu Fresh Roll with Peanut Sauce

Herbal Crusted Tofu Fresh Roll with Peanut Sauce

First I had the Herbal Crusted Tofu Fresh Roll with Peanut Sauce. I have to say that the tofu is probably one of the best deep fried tofu I’ve had in Sydney: crummy and crunchy on the outside, yet soft on the inside. I loved the tofu and peanut sauce combo and the fact it was served with loads of salad made it a light and refreshing bite.

In Asia- lovely colourful plating

Great colourful plating

Second, I had the Rice Vermicelli Salad – rice vermicelli, enoki, betel leaves, eschallot, pomelo, Asian herbs and tamarind soy dressing.

Rice Vermicelli Salad

Rice Vermicelli Salad – rice vermicelli, enoki, betel Leaves, eschallot, pomelo, Asian herbs and tamarind soy dressing

This salad has a multilayered texture with soft noodles, roasted peanuts and crunchy battered mushrooms and betel leaves. They all kind of dance around in you mouth as you slurp, bite and crunch. I don’t think I’ve had anything similar so it’s quite exciting, very original, and it has a tangy dressing similar to a Thai papaya salad – but milder.

For the third dish / first main course I had the vegan version of their Turmeric Curry – with fried tofu instead of soft shell crab, along with lightly battered enoki mushrooms.

Turmeric Curry with fried tofu

Turmeric Curry – with fried tofu instead of soft shell crab, along with lightly battered enoki mushrooms

The sauce was creamy and fragrant; mildly spiced and not too heavy. The mushroom was crunchy and the combination of the two is just heavenly. I think it was almost my favourite dish of the night, second only to the tofu roll.

Stir Fried Mushrooms

Stir Fried Mushrooms

And for the second main course I had Stir Fried Mushrooms. This plate had a generous serving of mushrooms – enoki mushrooms, button mushrooms, mini king oyster and oyster mushrooms, all stir fried in black pepper and… get this, mushroom sauce!

Given that I had finished all the previous four dishes by myself, I didn’t think there was any room left for more food.

Monkey Snicker

Monkey Snicker

Hang on? Did someone say dessert?

In Asia-33

Romantic ambiance at In Asia

They gave us all three desserts from the menu to try. It was a shared plate so I picked at bits and pieces that I knew were vegan (sorbet, banana cake, corn flakes, etc).

Monkey Snicker

The Monkey Snicker banana pudding came with passionfruit curd, pandan foam, pandan granita, shredded coconut and coconut ice cream.

The banana pudding was definitely vegan and so was the granita. It’s easily made vegan by replacing the ice cream and curd with sorbet. The banana pudding was quite delicious – soft, sweet and slightly chewy.

RS B’s First Kiss featured organic banana lightly battered in shredded coconut and fried palm sugar caramel

RS B’s First Kiss

RS B’s First Kiss featured organic banana lightly battered in shredded coconut and fried palm sugar caramel, tapioca sauce, and rice puffs, served with passionfruit sorbet. I didn’t try this but it looked pretty good! Deep fried banana could be vegan, but it’s worth checking first.

Everyone was oohing and ahhing over the spectacular looking desserts, cameras started flashing everywhere and everyone crowded together to get a perfect shot of the food. It was madness!

In Asia - food bloggers snapping photos of dessert

Snaps!

Finally the Popcorn Parfait had crushed corn flakes, caramel popcorn, grilled sweet corn and caramel jersey cream. Definitely not vegan-friendly (unless you’re happy to nibble on the popcorn and the sweet corn). but it looked pretty impressive.

opcorn Parfait with crushed corn flakes and caramel popcorn,

Popcorn Parfait – crushed corn flakes, caramel popcorn, grilled sweet corn and caramel jersey cream

Apart from me, I think everyone had a little bit of everything….

In Asia-62

Spoon war!

It was an exciting night which I’d definitely do again. It was so much fun and I made lots of new friends.

If food brings people together, then food events bring food bloggers together with all guns blazing.

Disclaimer:Thanks In Asia for hosting our Instameet event with Brendon Smiling Chef , My Food Lust, Ant Wales, Hungry As Fork, Becmakes, ThreespoonsfullThe Girls Who Ate The WorldThe Walking Advertisement

 

Why The Walking Dead cast & crew go for grains, not brains

walking-dead-season-1

Image Credit: AMC

Okay, I admit it: I am a big fan of the post-zombie-apocalypse TV show ‘The Walking Dead’, which is set to kick-off its much-anticipated 6th series from October 11, 2015.

There is something about man – and woman’s – eternal struggle against hordes of flesh-eating zombies that I am drawn to. Mind you, so are lots of other folks.

According to Forbes, The Walking Dead is the highest rating show on cable TV. On October 13, 2013 the season 4 premiere aired, titled “30 Days Without an Accident”. At the time, this was the highest-rated hour of cable television ever; with a staggering 16.11 million viewers in the US alone.

This cable-TV monster continues to gather a legion of fans. Season 5, which premiered on October 12, 2014, recorded a record-breaking 17.3 million total viewers, about 1.2 million more viewers than its previous high.

So, it was naturally big news when the cast and crew of this TV phenomenon publicly announced they’re gradually adopting the vegetarian lifestyle.

The Ecorazzi website reported one off-camera source who claimed that:

“After watching ‘Walkers’ realistically look as though they are consuming bloody human flesh or seeing heads and other body parts sliced off, no one was touching the red meat or even chicken that was on offer.”

In an interview on ‘SF Gate’, actor Norman Reedus, who plays ruggedly handsome zombie bow-hunting Daryl Dixon (my wife’s favourite) admitted that the special effects team, who created scenes of human flesh consumption in the fifth season, made them a little too realistic for comfort. So Norman has decided to adopt a meat-free diet. It seems that this was almost against Reedus’ better judgment, as he was quoted as not being exactly happy about his lifestyle change: “I’ve become a vegetarian and I’m kind of bummed about it.”

walkingdead

Image Credit: AMC

Why the big turn-off meat?

What’s really going on here? I recently saw a hunter say on a TV show (where he was justifying his lifestyle to a bunch of animal rights activists), “hunting is in our DNA”. In other words, according to this bloke and his supporters, hunting, killing, and butchering animals is a normal, natural, instinctive human activity.

If that’s true, why don’t most people naturally revel in the sight of blood and guts? For that matter, why are millions of people outraged over the ‘canned hunting’ death of a single animal Cecil the lion? I think this touches on the deeper question of who we really are. Are we the ruthlessly efficient hunter of Paleo fantasy, or are we essentially plant-eating primates who might only eat flesh foods for the occasional bit of protein and extra sustenance?

You won’t find a dog or a cat put off by the sight of gore. They’ll see lots of their natural food source, and, of course, (unlike us) happily (and safely) eat it in its raw state. And trust me, having visited several factory farms and abattoirs in my time, whatever stomach-churning scenes you might see on ‘The Walking Dead’ of zombies chowing down on dead rats, horses’ guts, or some poor guy’s shoulder muscle, it pales in comparison with the reality of animal slaughter, which is a real-life horror show.

battle

Image Credit: AMC

There is also the fear of cannibalism, or ‘anthropophagiophobia’, which is implicit in gross acts of live-flesh eating the once-human zombies perform on their human victims in the show. Think of the revulsion many felt when Hannibal Lecter in ‘Silence of the Lambs’ uttered those immortal words:

I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti” (I’ll spare you the grisly suckling noises Hannibal (aka Anthony Hopkins) then made to Clarice (aka Jodie Foster).

I think ‘The Walking Dead’ example proves, yet again, that we’re not natural carnivores. Sure, we can eat some meat as highly adaptable, opportunistic apes, but the thought of eating raw offal and innards makes most of us feel sick. Which it almost certainly would do if we ate it like that! Eating raw meat by humans is known to lead to the ingestion of harmful bacteria and disease-carrying pathogens. As reported in Wikipedia, “Every year in the United States, 6.5 million to 33 million cases of illness are diagnosed due to microbial pathogens, with about 900,000 deaths occurring annually as well.[5] According to a multi-state study published in the America Journal of Preventative Medicine, the annual cost of disease caused by food borne pathogens is estimated to be anywhere from 9.3 to 12.9 billion dollars in “medical costs and productivity losses.”[6]

But, of course, we don’t have to, and nor should we. The best, healthiest foods for humans (not dogs…or zombies) are fresh, whole plant foods. As is well-known, not only can we eat these foods raw; they’re extremely good for us, and best for natural weight loss and protection against chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer. Raw (and cooked) vegetables and raw fruits, with a few raw nuts and seeds are what we should be basing our diet on. Complimented, of course, with some beans, legumes and whole grains.

According to another report of ‘The Walking Dead’ series,

“on-set meat dishes have been replaced by spinach and avocado salad with garlic mustard vinaigrette, mushroom risotto and black bean and cheese Mexican enchiladas.”

Apparently “around 80%” of the food served-up by Craft Services caterers at the five locations in Georgia where ‘The Walking Dead’ is filmed is now meat-free. So it’s greens, beans and grains; not brains, that are on the menu for most working on the set of ‘The Walking Dead’.

salad-852051_1280

It seems that battling rabid man-eating zombies together ultimately does bring out the best in us. I think sheriff’s deputy Rick Grimes would agree.

Tom Perry

 

Sweet Potato Vegan Donuts

Sweet Potato Vegan Donuts

These vegan donuts were inspired by my recent trip to Melbourne where I had the most amazing donuts (or ‘bronuts‘ as they call them) from Mr. Nice Guy’s Bake Shop in Ascot Vale. They were mind-blowingly delicious: soft, fluffy and sweet. They tasted so heavenly and were a complete and utter indulgence. Coming back to Sydney, I couldn’t help but wonder if I could make my own vegan donuts. I wanted them to be tender and tasty, but healthier, and baked, not fried as in Melbourne. And so after a few experiments in the kitchen, these donuts were born.

Why I love them:

One thing I love about these vegan donuts is how long they stay tender and moist after baking. I’ve made deep fried donuts in the past and they start tasting a bit dry and hard even after just a few hours. These donuts, on the other hand, stay tender and moist for many hours to a few days – you just need to warm them up, with 15 seconds for each in the microwave if they get a bit cold.

They also quite easy to make. I’ve made them both by hand and using Cuisine Companion (CC). I’d use my CC when I make a double batch or being super lazy but really, it’s so easy to make. There’s no kneading involved so the process is fairly simple.

Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of vitamin A and vitamin C and rich in fibre and potassium. They’re baked, not fried, and they smell like Christmas morning.

Sweet Potato Vegan Donuts

Sweet Potato Vegan Donuts

Sweet Potato Vegan Donuts

Makes 40 small size donuts

  • 1 package (1/4 ounce) active dry yeast
  • 1 cup warm non-dairy milk
  • 1 tbsp vinegar or lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 cups warm mashed sweet potatoes
  • 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 cup raw sugar (*see notes)
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 6 cups plain or wholemeal flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

Vegan eggs (equivalent of 3 eggs)

Directions – Cuisine Companion

  1. Make vegan eggs: mix 3 egg replacers with 6 tbsp water and whisk until foamy with a fork.
  2. Mix your non-dairy milk with vinegar. Add yeast and 1 tbsp of sugar, mix to dissolve.
  3. Prepare the CC bowl with the kneading blade. Add mashed sweet potatoes, coconut oil, the remaining sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and half of the flour into the bowl. Mix at speed 7 for 15 seconds.
  4. Stir in the remaining flour and mix at speed 7 for about 20- 30 seconds, just enough to form soft dough. You may not need to use all the flour. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
  5. Turn onto a floured surface; divide into four equal portions.
  6. Roll each portion to 1 cm thickness. Cut with a doughnut cutter. Bake at 170C for 10-15 minutes, turning halfway for even cooking.

Directions – Manual

  1. Make vegan eggs: mix 3 egg replacers with 6 tbsp water and whisk until foamy with a fork.
  2. In a large bowl, mix your non-dairy milk with vinegar. Add yeast and 1 tbsp of sugar, mix to dissolve.
  3. Add mashed sweet potatoes, coconut oil, and mix.
  4. Add the remaining sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and half of the flour. Beat until smooth.
  5. Stir in the remaining flour just enough to form soft dough. You may not need to use it all. Do not knead. Cover and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
  6. Turn onto a floured surface; divide into four equal portions.
  7. Roll each portion to 1 cm thickness. Cut with a doughnut cutter. Bake at 170C for 10-15 minutes, turning halfway for even cooking.

Notes and Tips:

  1. You can use white potatoes in place of sweet potatoes.
  2. If you don’t have a donut cutter, improvise with using the lid of a mason jar and the end of a funnel for cutting the holes.
  3. For healthier alternative you can replace raw sugar with coconut sugar, or you can also use 1/3 cup of Xylitol which has the sweetness of a cup of sugar with one-third of the calories

Sweet Potato Vegan Donuts

Did you make these vegan donuts?

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 Natalia