Dandylion, Bondi

A few months ago I attended a Meetup event at Dandylion – a new hip vegan friendly restaurant situated in North Bondi. There were about 20 of us and we had the 6-course vegan degustation menu. I can’t remember the last time I had a degustation dinner as a vegan so I was pretty excited, to say the least.

Dandylion - Cucumber and seitan

Cucumber and seitan

We had two antipasti dishes: (1) Cucumber and seitan (cucumber half filled with bbq-flavoured seitan and sesame seeds) which was fresh and flavourful; and (2) Sesame wonton and crisp chickpea mousse – crunchy, creamy mousse which was delicious. The dishes were great but unfortunately they were only bite-size pieces… I wish I could have had seconds!

Dandylion - Sesame wonton and crisp chickpea mousse

Sesame wonton and crisp chickpea mousse

I forgot (or more accurately, was too hungry to wait) to take pictures of the second dish – Beetroot Carpaccio with wild rocket, walnut, piquant vegan cheese & aged balsamic dressing. I recognised the piquant cheese used for this dish: the Vegusto No Muh Piquant cheese. The salad was seriously good! Fresh, slightly tangy, mildly sweet and just yum!

Caramelised tempeh, shitake mushrooms & kale dumplings with chilli & miso spicy sauce was the next course. This was my favourite dish. Even though I found the dumpling skin a tad undercooked for my liking, the filling was very delicious. It had a nice balance of salt, sweets and spices and it was full of ‘umami’ taste. I just couldn’t get enough of it.

Dandylion - Caramelised tempeh, shitake mushrooms & kale dumplings with chilli & miso spicy sauce

Caramelised tempeh, shitake mushrooms & kale dumplings with chilli & miso spicy sauce

Next up: Orechiete with kale & maple sweet potato sauce. The shell pasta was cooked to perfection and the sweet potato sauce makes you forget that it’s dairy-free. It’s so creamy and rich. A generous sprinkle of coconut ‘bacon’ bits doesn’t hurt either.

Dandylion - Orechiete with kale and maple sweet potato sauce

Orechiete with kale & maple sweet potato sauce

The second last dish was Gnocchi with tomato based walnut sauce. Soft pillows of gnocchi with rich and ‘meaty’ sauce.

Dandylion - Gnocchi with tomato based walnut sauce

Gnocchi with tomato based walnut sauce

And dessert comprised of Tarta Tatin almonds, rose water & strawberry. It was a lovely dessert to cap off things – mildly sweet, rich and nutty. I loved the whipped coconut cream.

Dandylion -Tarta Tatin almonds, rose water & strawberry

Tarta Tatin almonds, rose water & strawberry

It was a delightful degustation meal. And the best thing was how easy it was to forget that they were ‘vegan’ dishes, which is always an indication of great cooking.

The Meetup event was a success, I met lots of friendly vegan foodies and had great time talking about veganism, food (mostly food) and how good the food is at Dandylion. As vegans and vegetarians, we are so used to putting up with served sub-standard meals at restaurants which often have no clue how cook delicious food without animal products. It was a real treat to experience something of this quality.

Dandylion has certainly lived up to its vision to present vegetarian food that is full of flavor, hearty, and delicious. Combined with great drink selections and a hip interior, it’s definitely going to be one of my favourite places to go to in the Eastern Suburbs.

 

Love and greens,

Keren

 

3 Reasons Why You Need to Ditch Low-Carb Diets

The great ‘low-carb’ con

Low-carb fad diets such as Atkins and Paleo have gained a lot of attention (and sales) from the general public, hungry for solutions to our ever-growing obesity problem. The basic premise is essentially the same – cut right down on carbohydrate foods such as bread, potatoes and pasta, and focus mainly on animal protein and fat, with some vegetables thrown in.

The idea with these diets seems to be that if you fill up on protein-rich foods such as eggs and meat, you won’t crave the foods such as bread, pastries and sweets that supposedly make you fat.

Certainly there are reports of some people losing weight on these diets, and then extolling their virtues. On the flip side, anything to do with grains, legumes and even soybean products have been demonized as causing weight gain, high cholesterol, and dietary intolerances (particularly gluten). This anti-grain anti-legume stance appears to me to be a vague attempt to revert back to a mystical, mythical past where he-men with spears and six-packs hunted down mastodons with Amazonian women applauding from the sidelines. The problem is, it’s all a giant con.

The fact that the vast majority of animals bred and killed for food are genetically mutated, artificially inseminated, and in many cases housed in filthy, cruel and unnatural factory farms (a relatively recent development), doesn’t seem to concern people who are happy to reject established grain crops that have been cultivated and consumed for many thousands of years (long before anyone had heard of an ‘obesity epidemic’).

Why you should ditch low-carb/high animal fat and protein diets

Low Carb Diet

 

1. Eating too much meat and animal fat is bad for humans, period.

Excessive meat and egg consumption has been linked to a host of health problems, including some cancers, heart disease and high cholesterol. Although most people are omnivores, our teeth and digestive system are much closer to those of herbivorous animals. Too much meat in our system, along with not enough fibre, clogs up and causes a toxic reaction, which simply does not happen with true carnivores like cats or dogs, with their much shorter digestive tract and stronger stomach acid. Saturated fats and cholesterol from animal products further clog our arteries and lead to atherosclerosis, heart disease and stroke.

  • For example, a study reported by ABC News in March 2014 showed that consumption of animal-based protein is linked to an increased risk of early death for people in their 50s and early 60s. The study, published in the journal Cell Metabolism, found that more than 6,000 American adults between the ages of 50 and 65 with diets high in animal protein were 74 percent more likely to meet an untimely end than those who consumed less animal protein or got their protein from non-animal sources. For deaths due to cancer, the risk was four times higher. Eating plant-based proteins like nuts and beans seemed to reverse the unhealthy trend.

According to Dr Joel Fuhrman, “Animal protein also elevates IGF-1, which is not only associated with cancer, but cardiovascular disease as well. High-protein, low-carbohydrate diets have now been linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and premature death.”

  • A low-carbohydrate diet high in animal products is associated with an increased risk for dying. As reported by the American Heart Association, researchers analyzed the diets of 4,098 women and men who had previously had heart attacks. They found they were 33 percent more likely to die from any cause and 51 percent more likely to die from heart disease if following a low-carbohydrate diet high in animal sources of protein and fat, compared with those whose dietary patterns consisted of fewer low-carb, animal-based products. Source: PCRM

Meat

2. Avoiding fruit, vegetables, whole grains and legumes means that you are less able to prevent disease and premature death.

  • A study presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress and reported by the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine, daily intake of fruit may decrease the risk of heart disease by as much as 40 percent. To quote from the PCRM News site, researchers followed 451,681 participants for seven years and found that in addition to reducing the risk of heart disease, daily fruit consumption reduced the risk of dying from heart disease and stroke by 27 percent and 40 percent, respectively, compared with less than daily fruit consumption.
  • Another study published online in the European Journal of Nutrition found that reducing dietary fat while increasing carbohydrate intake is best for people with type 2 diabetes. Researchers followed the diets of 1,785 type 2 diabetes patients as part of the TOSCA.IT Study, and found that an increase from less than 45 percent to 60 percent or more in complex carbohydrate intake lowered all levels of triglycerides, LDL cholesterol, and HbA1c. They also found that increasing fibre and lowering added sugar intakes also had positive effects on cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
  • A meta-analysis published in the American Journal of Cardiology and reported by PCRM found that adding whole grains to your diet may protect against our biggest killer, heart disease. Researchers summarized results from 18 studies that included 400,492 total participants, of which 14,427 had diagnosed coronary heart disease. The studies showed that people who ate the most whole grains experienced a lower risk for heart disease when compared to those who consumed the least.

 

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3. High-carb diets are best for weight loss

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Good Carbs, Bad Carbs

By way of definition, ‘bad carbs’ are made from highly processed ingredients, such as refined white flour and sugar. Think donuts, muffins, cookies and cakes. They are made from flour with much of the fibre and goodness stripped out, and often mixed with loads of animal fats in the form of butter, milk and eggs. It’s unlikely that anyone would promote these types of foods as appropriate for healthy weight loss, let alone a healthy diet.

‘Good carbs’, on the other hand, refer to relatively unrefined or whole foods, foods such beans, lentils, chickpeas, quinoa, buckwheat, barley, and oats. This list would also include wholemeal bread, wholemeal pasta and brown rice. For good carbs think of foods close to, or within their natural state, and naturally high in fibre, and low in fat and sugar.

And don’t forget, good carbohydrates also include nutrient-rich, low-calorie vegetables and fruit, which, due to their high fibre, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and phyto-chemicals, should form the bulk of your caloric intake.

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How much carbs should you eat?

The truth is that rather than avoid carbs, we should base our diet on whole-food carbohydrates. These provide a host of health benefits, as well as being a major source of energy. Based on my research, medical advice and experience, I advocate a whole-food plant-based diet, following classic 80-20 principles. By that I mean, basing your diet roughly on 80% good, high-fibre carbohydrates, including fresh vegetables and fruit, beans, legumes, whole grains, and 20% fats and plant protein.

Plant-food nutrition expert and guru Dr T. Colin Campbell, in his recent book ‘The Low Carb Fraud’, outlines some of the unsavoury side-effects of a low-carb diet: more headaches, bad breath, constipation, and muscle cramps.

Even more alarming was a report on the low-carb diet and health, referred to by Dr Campbell in his book, which was a summary of 17 studies published in January 2013 involving 272,216 subjects. According to this report a low-carb diet showed a statistically significant increase in total deaths.

By contrast, Dr Campbell summarizes the benefits of the WFPB – Whole Foods Plant Based – diet, which provides “an exceptionally rich bonanza of anti-oxidants, complex carbohydrates, and optimum intakes of fat, protein, vitamins, and minerals; many of which contribute to disease prevention.”

Carbohydrates, available almost exclusively from plants, provide the body with the most efficient form of energy, and is the only source of fuel for the brain. Whole-food carbs include the most nutrient-dense foods on the planet: vegetables, fruit, beans, whole grains, seeds and nuts. Foods that all of us should base our diet on.

Tom Perry

Meat, Cancer and prevention, Paleo myths, Statins and Heart Disease risks

GNN

One of my top 5 nutrition news items this week focuses on recent controversial research indicating that red and processed meats cause cancer. This research, published by the WHO (World Health Organisation), received a lot of publicity online and in the mainstream media. What isn’t quite as well publicized are dietary guidelines for preventing cancer. According to the Physicians’ Committee there are 6 main dietary guidelines for cancer prevention.
There was also recent Aussie research punching more holes in Paleo dogma, and Dr Fuhrman’s advice on the dark side of statin drugs, used for people (like I was) with high cholesterol. Then, related to high cholesterol levels, a video report by Dr Michael Greger from Nutrition Facts about the dangers of moderation when it comes to preventing heart disease.

Red and Processed Meats Cause Cancer

barbecue
A UN health body has ranked bacon, sausages and ham among most carcinogenic substances along with cigarettes, alcohol, asbestos and arsenic.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recently released a report that found that meat, especially processed meat, causes cancer.

A panel of 22 international experts reviewed decades of research and conducted a meta-analysis of over 800 studies on the link between red meat, processed meats and cancer.

The panel found a 17% increase in risk for colon cancer per 100 grams of red meat consumed; and an 18% increase risk with 50 grams of processed meat consumed, and quoted figures suggesting that 34,000 cancer deaths a year worldwide were attributable to diets high in processed meats.

According to Kurt Straif, an official with the World Health Organisation’s International Agency for Research on Cancer, which produced the report:

“For an individual, the risk of developing colorectal cancer because of their consumption of processed meat remains small, but this risk increases with the amount of meat consumed.”

“In view of the large number of people who consume processed meat, the global impact on cancer incidence is of public health importance.”

Researchers also found links between red and processed meat products and stomach, pancreatic, and prostate cancers.

*Yet another recent study found that two or more servings of red or processed meat a week can increase your risk for colorectal cancer.

As reported by PCRM, researchers looked at dietary data from the UK Biobank, encompassing 500,000 men and women, for red meat consumption and bowel cancer incidence rates. Participants who ate red meat four or more times per week had a 42% increased risk for colorectal cancer, compared with those who ate it less than once per week.

An estimated 21% of bowel cancers in the UK are linked to eating red and processed meat.

Dietary Guidelines for Cancer Prevention

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Aside from the wealth of evidence linking meat to cancer, what about foods that actually protect against cancer?

In June 2014 PCRM reported on a study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, that advocates a diet rich in plant-based foods, such as soy beans and cruciferous, allium, and carotenoid vegetables.

“The key recommendation is to build meals around fruits, vegetables, and legumes,” said study author Neal Barnard, M.D., president of the nonprofit Physicians Committee and an adjunct associate professor of medicine at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

“Plant-based foods provide an antioxidant boost and help promote a healthy weight, reducing the risk for all types of cancer in the long run.”

Among the six dietary recommendations were foods that help to reduce cancer risk:

Guideline #5. Consume soy products to reduce risk of breast cancer and to reduce the risk of recurrence and mortality for women previously treated for breast cancer

Findings: “Evidence from Asian and Western countries shows that soy products are associated with reduced cancer risk. Chinese women who consume more than 11.3 grams of soy protein, equivalent to half a cup of cooked soybeans, each day during adolescence have a 43% reduced risk of premenopausal breast cancer, compared with women who consume 1.7 grams.
“Research in Shanghai shows that women with breast cancer who consume 11 grams of soy protein each day can reduce mortality and risk of recurrence by about 30%.  U.S. populations show similar findings: the higher the isoflavone intake from soy products, the less risk of mortality and recurrence in women with breast cancer.
Note: “When choosing soy products, opt for natural forms, such as edamame, tempeh, or organic tofu, as opposed to soy protein concentrates and isolates, common in powders and pills.”

Guideline #6. Emphasize fruits and vegetables to reduce risk of several common forms of cancer.

Findings: “Fruits and vegetables, especially leafy greens, help reduce overall cancer risk. A high intake of cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, kale, and cabbage, is associated with an 18% reduced risk of colorectal cancer and reduced risk of lung and stomach cancers.

“Women who consume the most carotenoid-rich vegetables, such as carrots and sweet potatoes, lower their risk of breast cancer by 19%. Overall, women who consume the highest quantities of any kind of fruit or vegetable reduce breast cancer risk by 11%.  A high intake of tomato products has been shown to reduce risk of gastric cancer by 27%. Garlic and other allium vegetables, such as onions, significantly reduce risk for gastric cancer, while a Western diet (high amounts of meat and fat with minimal amounts of fruits and vegetables) doubles the risk.”

*We thank and acknowledge Dr Barnard and the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine for information about this study and dietary guidelines.

Paleo cops a punch as researchers highlight importance of carbs for human evolution

Paleo Man
A new Australian study, recently reported in the Brisbane Times online, questions the Paleo diet’s claimed role in fuelling human evolution, as proposed by Vaclav Smil, author of Should We Eat Meat?: Evolution and Consequences of Modern Carnivory:

“Killing animals and eating meat have been significant components of human evolution that had a synergistic relationship with other key attributes that have made us human, with larger brains, smaller guts, bipedalism and language,”  – Vaclav Smil.

However this new study, which was co-written by researchers from the University of Sydney, challenges the belief that meat deserves all the credit for our rapid rise in the evolutionary stakes. According to the researchers, starchy carbohydrates “were essential for the evolution” of the human brain nearly 1 million years ago.

The human brain uses as much as 25% of the body’s energy and up to 60% of blood glucose, the researchers say, which is not consistent with a low-carbohydrate diet.

“The research is a blow to advocates of the Paleo diet, which shuns starch-rich vegetables and grains,” according to the University of Sydney.

“The evidence suggests that Palaeolithic humans would not have evolved on today’s ‘Paleo’ diet,” said Professor Jennie Brand-Miller, one of the study’s co-authors.

“After cooking became widespread, starch digestion advanced and became the source of preformed dietary glucose that permitted the acceleration in brain size,” co-author Professor Les Copeland said.

“There was no one Paleo diet,” said dietitian Dr Joanna McMillan. “Humans were smart enough to learn how to get nutrition from eating certain plant foods by cooking and other means of preparation [soaking for example]. In that we differ from other animal species.”

Dr McMillan expressed her hope that this research will help put an end to the fashion of carb-phobia.

* Refer to our blog post for more information about Paleo vs Plant-based diets.

Risks Associated with Statin Drugs

pills
I have taken Lipitor, a statin drug, for over 2 years now. Statins are drugs which block an enzyme in the liver involved in the production of cholesterol. They are very effective, as I can personally attest to, and they are one of the most prescribed types of drugs in the world.

Too much cholesterol in the bloodstream can lead to the build-up of atherosclerotic plaque, and is a major risk factor for heart disease.

In an article by Dr Joel Fuhrman, a 2010 study looked at the medical records of 2 million statin users. The study found “increases in the risk of liver dysfunction, muscle-related side effects, acute kidney injury and cataracts associated with statin use”.

As Dr Fuhrman writes, “larger doses of statin drugs are associated with greater likelihood of side effects, and additional risk factors such as other drugs, older age, diabetes and high triglycerides also increase the likelihood of adverse effect”.

Statins are further implicated in the increase of type-2 diabetes, a muscle pain, reduced fitness, severe breakdown of muscle called ‘rhabdomyolysis’, and even, paradoxically, heart disease.

The alternative to statins, which is a high-fibre, high-nutrient diet including vegetables, fruit and nuts was found to reduce cholesterol by 33% within two weeks.

Dr Fuhrman feels that prescribing statins for increased cholesterol levels “is counterproductive”. He believes that patients taking a statin drug may downplay the importance of lifestyle and dietary changes that would “drastically improve health, life expectancy and quality of life”.

Dr Fuhrman’s firm belief is that a health-promoting diet and lifestyle “not only reduces cholesterol but also reduces blood pressure, reverses heart disease and protects against diabetes, dementia and cancer”.

As always, you should seek the advice of your doctor and other qualified health care professionals for treatment of any medical condition.

Everything in Moderation? Even Heart Disease?

heart Dr Greger from Nutrition Facts proposes that rather than opt for a ‘low-risk’ chance of heart attacks, perhaps we should aim for ‘no risk’. Dr Greger cites strong evidence that we should keep our cholesterol levels below 150 mg/dl (about 3.9 mmol) to stem coronary heart disease (CHD), rather than the sub-200 mg/dl (about 5.2 mmol) levels as advocated by the American Heart Association.

As Dr Greger points out, in many cultures heart disease is almost unknown when total serum cholesterol levels are below 150 mg/dl. Few of those develop the disease, and none die of it.

The famous Framingham Heart Study demonstrated that 35% of heart attacks occur in people who have cholesterol levels between 150 mg/dl and 200 mg/dl. This means that a target level of only around 200 mg/dl ensures that millions of US citizens will die of coronary disease.
As we have previously asserted, sometimes cutting back in ‘moderation’ is not going to save lives, and it might even destroy them.

Tom Perry