Plant-based, vegetarian, meatless, vegetarian advice, vegan., Semi-vegetarian, Flexitarian, heart health

Eating for Health and Happiness

It’s no secret that the United States ranks 37th in health outcomes. The high sugar low nutrient  Standard American Diet (ironically abbreviated as SAD) is a major contributing factor to heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and obesity.

Eating should be enjoyable. The foods we consume should appeal to our senses, and make us feel energized and ready to face the day. Our diets should nurture our immune system, and overall well being. Eating well is a form of self-respect. 

   Many remain under the impression that eating  well means sitting down to a plate of boiled carrots, plain rice, and an unseasoned block of tofu; they believe they’ll have to force down sandwiches on bread that tastes like cardboard, cut out entire groups of macronutrients, and be deprived of flavor at every turn. This is untrue. There are many options that are nutritious without sacrificing flavor, or asking you to avoid fat, carbs, or proteins. 

Today I’m featuring overviews of healthier ways of eating. Changes  can be made without sacrificing flavor or richness. Better  ways of eating can be worked into your diet recipe by recipe, day by day.

Semi-Vegetarian

Semi-vegetarian, sometimes referred to as flexitarian, is a way of eating that involves lessening ones intake of animals to the inclusion of more fruits and vegetables. Meatless Mondays took off a while back. Through this movement many have adopted the semi-vegetarian diet, lessening their consumption of animal products and increasing the number of heart healthy meals they serve.

Is it healthy?

It’s common knowledge eating  more fruits and vegetables while decreasing animal intake is a healthier choice. A large scale study has shown a semi- vegetarian diet to decrease the chance of death by stroke or heart disease.*

Vegetarian

The title “Vegetarian” denotes a person who doesn’t  consume  chickens, cows,  fish or any other animal. Vegetarians may however, consume dairy products and cheese. Such vegetarians are known as ovo-lacto vegetarians.

Is it healthy?

Vegetarians tend to consume more fruits and vegetables therefore increasing their intake of vitamins, minerals, and fiber.  That said, one can be vegetarian but eat ice cream for breakfast on a daily basis which obviously  wouldn’t be a heart healthy choice.  According to the American Heart Association, many studies have shown the vegetarian diet to be helpful in the avoidance of obesity, coronary heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, and certain forms of cancer.

Vegan

Vegans are another breed entirely. In addition to not eating animals, vegans also avoid dairy, eggs, and all animal by-products including honey. Vegans  don’t wear leather or fur. Their commitment to animal rights extends to their personal care items. Vegans only use products that are free of animal by products, and  never tested on animals (look for the leaping bunny).

Is it healthy?
The nutritional aspect of veganism is entirely dependent on the individual. Oreos are vegan, but still chemical laden and filled with hydrogenated fats. There are vegans who eat well, and those who’s compassion and care for animals doesn’t  carry over to their concern for their own well-being. A few concerns about veganism are lack of  protein and vitamin B12. Both are easily corrected. We need around .35 grams of protein per pound of body weight. Vegans may accomplish this with tofu, seeds, beans, legumes, nuts,  nut butters, and whole grain items. Vitamin B12 may be supplemented or made available to vegans through fortified cereals or plant milks.

Plant-Based

Plant-based eating means eating only plants or minimally processed plant foods. Those who are plant-based keep processed foods to a minimum or omit them completely. The diet of a plant-based person is filled with vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, seeds, nut butters,  and plant milks.

Is it healthy?

A plant- based diet is essentially vegetarianism in its optimal form, a natural whole foods diet. The fact that plant-based means eating mostly whole foods and keeping processed foods to a minimum makes this way of eating inherently higher in fiber, nutrients, and lower in preservatives, chemicals, and inflammatory ingredients like sugar and soybean oil. Many plant based folks avoid oils. The fats in their desserts and dressings exist in the form of nuts,seeds, or avocados either whole or blended into a cream consistency. The sweetness in their baked goods and pies comes from pureed dates. The plant-based diet contains less empty calories because each ingredient has nutritional value beyond caloric intake.

Plant foods can be prepared and seasoned in a variety of ways. If you’re looking for better health in the form of weight loss,  lower cholesterol or blood pressure, and increased vitality, fruits and vegetables seem to hold the key.

Which of the aforementioned appeals to you? Will you make changes to your diet? For which reasons?

Sources:

http://m.newsroom.heart.org/news/semi-veggie-diet-effectively-lowers-heart-disease-stroke-risk

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/HealthyLiving/HealthyEating/Vegetarian-Diets_UCM_306032_Article.jsp#mainContent

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Recipe, simple, plant recipes, vegan, quick, and easy meal, under 30 minutes, creamy soup., Uncategorized

Tomato Bisque, and a Love Letter (to Our Vitamix)…

Every vegetarian should have a Vitamix. Scratch that. Everyone should have a Vitamix, especially vegetarians.

I’d always wanted one as a kid, but somewhere along the lines had forgotten all about it until I noticed  it on sale in Costco. They had a Vitamix representative making various recipes and giving out samples to the customers. After he’d  fed me homemade tortilla soup followed by banana ice cream, both of which were prepared right in the blender, I  decided the Vitamix was a must have!

Shortly thereafter, my parents called to tell me they were getting us a Vitamix for Christmas.  You’d have thought I’d won the lottery. “Oh my God, really?!” I exclaimed. My husband expressed appreciation, but mainly saw it as a gift for me. Little did he know he’d soon find himself swept up by the magic of the Vitamix (by which I mean he’d frequently  be making smoothies with it)!

As soon as the check they sent arrived, I cashed it and headed to Costco to pick up our Vitamix. During this time I may or may not have taken pictures of it in the cart as if it were a newborn baby.

The first thing I made was soup (of course). I adapted this recipe from one I found online a while back, turning  it into whole foods, non-dairy recipe. This soup is quite filling, especially when served with a bit of bread on the side.

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Tomato Bisque (makes two servings, but can easily be doubled)

7 small Greenhouse Tomatoes
1/2 small onion
1c water
2 tbs. Cashews ( raw and unsalted- if you only  have salted just don’t add the salt below.)
2 cloves Garlic
1 tsp. Oregano

3/4  tsp Salt
Lemon Pepper
Chives

Place into your blender: the tomatoes, onion, water, cashews, garlic, oregano, and salt.

Turn the blender up to its highest setting.

Blend for five minutes  (remember we’re creaming the cashews and cooking the soup right in the blender). During this time, the color of the soup will deepen as the tomatoes cook.

Carefully remove the lid. The soup will be steaming.

Pour into two soup cups, add lemon pepper and chives to taste. Serve with a warm baguette.

Plant-based, vegetarian, meatless, vegetarian advice, vegan.

Wholesome Hot Chocolate   (vegan-friendly/High in Protein/Non-Dairy/No Added Sugar)

Growing up in the northeast meant brutal winters, it also meant snow days. When a storm kept me home from school, my mom would bundle me up in full on ski attire (not an exaggeration) and send me out to play. Given my aversion to the cold, I’d usually last about half an hour before wanting to return indoors where I knew a mug of hot chocolate would await.

I’m not sure how hot  chocolate mix  was made in the 80’s, if the ingredients were “real”. I do know when I recently looked into buying the mix I remembered from childhood, I saw on the label: hydrogenated oil, high fructose corn syrup, and artificial flavors. There was also alot of added sugar. I don’t know about anyone else, but  I remember always needing to add extra spoonfuls of mix because it was never quite  chocolatey enough for me; meaning I was  getting double or triple whatever was on that label each time I had a mug of hot chocolate.  No wonder my mom stopped buying it!

Eating well is a form of self-respect and self-improvement, and I knew there had to be a better way to enjoy hot chocolate that offered some nutritional value. And so  my wholesome hot chocolate recipe was born. IT’S MADE  FROM FRUIT, NUTS,H2O, AND CHOCOLATE; YOU’VE GOT TO TASTE IT TO BELIEVE IT!

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This recipe is made only from whole foods; it contains no added sugar,dairy, oil, or synthetic ingredients. At 24 grams of fat per serving, this hot chocolate is surely a rich dessert  indulgence, but it also offers in each serving: over three grams of fiber, more than six grams of protein, nearly 20% of your recommended daily iron intake, and plenty of potassium. The dates have naturally occurring sugar but are low glycemic index and won’t cause the dreaded sugar crash. Plus, you can drink it knowing  your’re only putting good things into your body!

So without further ado, here it is:

Wholesome Hot Chocolate  (Vegan Friendly/Non-dairy/High in Protein/No Added Sugar)
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You’ll need the following:
(Makes two mugs)

*A high speed blender  (i.e. ninja/vitamix/nutribullet)
NOTE: if you’re without this, you may sub store bought nut milk.

*1/2c Cashews
NOTE: If you’re concerned about fat you may half this amount, and it will  be less creamy, but still pretty darn good!

*2c Water

*6-7 dates

*4 tsp. Cocoa Powder

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend on high for a full minute. Pour into two mugs and and heat in the microwave for about one minute. Enjoy.