Vegan Nutrition

Nutrition – The secrets to youthful skin

Posted on 17 July 2015

… a regular nutrition series for vegans by Anastacia Sampson

Our skin is our most clear indicator of our age. Sometimes our skin indicates that we are so much older, and then we try shield ourselves behind magical anti-ageing and anti-wrinkle creams. Then there make-up and lastly cosmetic surgery.

Applying beauty cream - photo courtesy of Ambro at Stock.XchngBefore we spend so much money on trying to regain our lost youthful skin, there really are some useful lifestyle tools to implement, to save us a lot of money in the fight against progressed ageing. The following are some key factors to keep our skin supple and youthful:

• Coffee addicts need to break their addiction! Coffee has a drying out effect. A number of people I know have dry and aged skin, and they are all coffee drinkers. Generally the older one becomes, the more noticeable our past and current lifestyle habits appear through our skin. Coffee is great to perk us up yet it may act as a dehydrating agent for our skin.

• That perfect tan is not worth the cost in later years! Anyone with a lifestyle of sun exposure will have more aged skin. Definitely more skin spots and wrinkles will develop with passing years. Avoid too much sun exposure, expose your skin to moderate low intense sun rays. The best time to be out in sunlight is early morning and late afternoon.

• The convenience of processed foods is one of the best anti-skin enhancers! Reduce processed food intake, including refined sugars and oils to a minimum. Refined oils and sugars are known to cause greasy skin, with more outbreaks of acne.

• Ageing is natural, it is the speed of ageing that can be slowed down! The main cause of ageing is stress, free radicals and toxins. These three factors act in similar ways to reduce optimal cellular function, detoxification and rejuvenation.

• Take charge and responsibility! Avoid exposure to free radicals, this includes cigarette smoking and second hand cigarette smoking. Air pollution from vehicle fumes and toxic vapours from sprays and paints are definitely worth keeping away from.

• Instead of alcohol, cool drinks and other beverages, choose simple water! Drink ample water; it should be clean and not chlorinated and polluted with recycled oestrogens and other chemical agents. Fortunately many high quality water purifiers are on the market and can be easily operated.

• What you eat becomes your skin! In other words all our cells are made from the food we eat. Technically our skin is the layer of dead cells constantly being shed away and replaced with new underlining cells. There is a great turnover of skin cells. So we can truly feed our skin healthy foods for a clearer and less greasy appearance. A diet composed of wholefoods is almost guaranteed to uplift your vitality and healthy skin.

• Too much of a good thing is a bad thing! Remember that saying. Beta-carotene is found in various vegetables and fruits, especially pumpkin, butternut and orange carrots. Now this beta-carotene is a precursor to vitamin A. Vitamin A is superb for healthy skin and recommended to help clear up acne, along with zinc. A diet too high in beta-carotene will cause a yellow discolouration to your skin tone. This will be especially evident on the palms of your hands, soles of your feet and face. This is not harmful but certainly not ideal for aesthetic appearances. The plus side is that beta-carotene is a superb anti-oxidant, thereby protecting you against free radical damage.

• Be mindful that an expensive cream is not always as great as a simple natural facial cleanse! There are so many marketed facial creams, and the easy fix up promise is so tempting. Lemon juice is packed with antioxidants and is great for whitening our skin. Lime juice has even been recommended as a deodorant. Facial creams and masks should be as naturally composed as possible. Before we apply anything to our skin, we should always read the ingredients.

Anything rich in antioxidants and vitamin E may do wonders for our skin. Avocado pear paste is a great mask for tightening up your skin. Even used teabags rubbed onto your skin is a great facial cleanse. Oatmeal is also great as a mask. There are many beauty remedies just sitting in your kitchen.

Love yourself enough to take preventative steps early rather than later. It is so simple to make healthy choices, it is sometimes only that we just need more education and knowledge to do it.

Take care, Anastacia

Visit Vegan SA for more information on a vegan health.

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Nutrition – Minty fresh

Posted on 2 March 2015

… a regular nutrition series for vegans by Anastacia Sampson

We all know mint flavoured sweets are a common after meal treat. Have you ever questioned why mint? Why not lemon or citrus? Well for many years, the mint family has been known to assist us with digestion and relieve us from bloating after meals. Yes, mint is not only beneficial as a breath freshener!

Fresh garlic - photo courtesy of Skippy3e at Stock.XchngMint has a range of antioxidant properties. Each variety has unique qualities and may be used for a diverse range of ailments, let alone culinary uses. There is a common well known English combination of mint leaves and peas, pureed into a soup. Mint has a refreshing effect and is delightful in salads and summer cocktails. Mint is also used in yoghurts. The most common culinary type is spearmint, followed by peppermint.
Being such easy to grow herbs, it would be worth your time and effort to plant some fresh mint. This herb will serve you well in many ways.

There are about 20 species of the mint family and hundreds of combinations between these species. They come in a variety of shapes and aromas. There is chocolate mint, which has a subtle chocolate tone. There is the well-known peppermint, which is high in menthol. Menthol has been incorporated into modern medicines and oral hygiene products. It is menthol that has a powerful effect in being antispasmodic (ideal for easing abdominal cramping, as in Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and analgesic (giving relief from pain). Breathing in menthol may also relax us while improving alertness. In fact peppermint tea has a traditional use of being a prime remedy for the flu. Peppermint is at first warming and then cooling. Although peppermint is stimulating, it is inadvisable to use it in hot, inflamed digestive cases.

There is also spearmint, which has similar properties to peppermint yet it is gentler. This makes it more ideal for younger children, especially babies. Unlike peppermint, spearmint is more suited to being taken right after eating a meal. Spearmint stimulates release of digestive enzymes while soothing stomach upset. Nausea is also calmed down by taking spearmint.

Did you know catnip is a type of mint? This type of mint tends to attract cats as they are often seen fondly rolling on its leaves if the plant is in the area.

Lemon mint has a lemon like flavour and its oil has been used as an anti-depressant and to help ease stressful physiological reactions. There are an assortment of fruit flavoured mints, such as apple and pineapple. These can be quite tasteful.

Lemon balm is another member of the mint family, and is known as a natural antibacterial, antihistamine and calmative, and this is shared with many of the other types of mint. Ginger mint has been stated as being a natural rodent repellent.

It may be worth experimenting with the mint family. When you may feel drowsy after a meal or have gas and bloating with maybe cramping; do try some peppermint tea. Even applying the oil or a poultice over cramping muscles is useful. Mint can be bought in dried form or as fresh herbs, both are useful. Ideally planting your own is far more rewarding. Mint is known to favour damp, partly shaded areas and seems to thrive more in warmer conditions. This means it may flourish less during a frosty winter.

Take care, Anastacia

Visit Vegan SA for more information on a vegan nutrition.

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Nutrition – The magic of beetroot

Posted on 5 February 2015

… a regular nutrition series for vegans by Anastacia Sampson

Beetroot has become widely acclaimed for its health benefits. It is not the sweetest or yummiest vegetable, yet it is exceptional in its power to support our health. Beetroot is commonly dark red in colour. It has its own unique taste, which is sweet and earthy while being tender in texture. Beetroot has a tendency to cause bright red stains.

Fresh beetroot juice - photo courtesy of phasinphoto at FreeDigitalPhotos.netAlthough we tend to think of beetroot as being red, remember that yellow, white and stripy versions also exist!

Known for sugar popularity since the 19th century

In the 19th century it was discovered that beets were a high source of sugar. When cane became restricted, the production and processing of beets shot upwards. Soon beet became an important valuable crop for its ability to yield sugar for commercial use.

Health benefits of this red root

In bygone days (Roman times) there is record of beetroot being useful for treating fevers, constipation, skin problems and even being used as an aphrodisiac. The aphrodisiac claims may be linked to the powerful effect of beets being able to promote blood vessel dilation. Having healthy blood vessel diameter helps prevent cardiovascular disease and promotes circulation. Often an increase in blood circulation, especially in our smaller blood vessels, can do wonders for our sexual libido and activities. Males with impotence may be benefit especially when they have weak blood vessel circulation.

Beets are magical for their content of assorted antioxidants

Betalains are a group of unique phytonutrients found in significant levels in beetroot. Within this group, scientific research has mainly focused on betanin and vulgaxanthin. It is also these 2 phytonutrients that have been revealed to possess potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and detoxification properties.

The anti-inflammatory effects from beetroot are well known. One way they do this is by stopping COX enzymes. COX enzymes (cyclo-oxygenase enzymes) are messaging molecules that initiate inflammation. Of course we need COX enzymes, but in cases of chronic inflammation we need to ease the symptoms of inflammation. Betalains contribute to the pigmented colour of beetroots. The longer we cook beetroots, the greater the loss of these special phytonutrients. Cooking beets until soft is fine but try to avoid over-cooking them.

We are all in need of a boost to our detoxification abilities. Our daily life is bombarded with a range of toxic exposures, whether it is from our diet, air or environment, or even natural toxins produced as by-products from daily metabolism in our body. Beets not only de-activate toxins but also remove toxins from our body. Great news for all of us that desire to live healthy active lives! Go out and get your beets to add them to your regular dietary intake.

These powerful effects of betalains have knock on effects – they support us against the development of cancer; now, that has major need for your applause. Another boom from betalain phytonutrients is enhanced immune function and overall cellular function. This may lead to protecting us against serious viral infections and other infections. Research has shown a direct link of beet extract lessening a type of flu infection. Okay, time for a standing ovation, and the ‘health award’ this season goes to beetroot!

The beet scare!

A small number of people may experience beeturia (reddening of the urine from beetroot intake). Beeturia is not harmful, however it can be quite shocking to see your urine come out red! Or even your stools with redness may cause fear. There is concern that beeturia may reveal problems with iron metabolism. Someone with a deficiency, excess, or problem with iron metabolism may be more likely to experience beeturia. Of course, whenever your urine or stools are red or seem to have blood, always consult with a healthcare provider, even if you suspect it is beeturia.

Let’s get nutritious with a beet

A cup of sliced cooked beetroot will deliver a significant amount of fibre with a really low amount of calories; that is great for a slimmer waist line. As for fat content, it is negligible. That same amount of beetroot will supply almost 40% of you daily requirement of folate. Other essential nutrients that beetroot can supply in higher amounts, include manganese, magnesium, vitamin C and copper.

Tips to get the best out of your beets

We usually eat the root part of the beetroot plant. Studies indicate cutting your beetroot into quarters and steaming for 15 minutes for maximum nutrition and flavour. The colour of your beets can be altered by your cooking preparation. By adding something acidic to the cooking, such as lemon juice or vinegar, you can brighten up your beet colour. On the other hand; if you add an alkaline substance such as baking soda, you can turn your health promoting vegetable into a deeper purple. Be cautious with salt in your cooking as it can dull the colour and add unnecessary sodium. If you truly need salt, rather add it after you have cooked your beets, just before serving.

Take care, Anastacia

Visit Vegan SA for more information on healthy vegan nutrition.

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Nutrition – Time for cocoa

Posted on 15 January 2015

… a regular nutrition series for vegans by Anastacia Sampson

The simple cocoa bean is the basis for a wide variety of chocolate products. Pure cocoa is quite bitter and unpleasant to eat, that is if you are accustomed to regular commercial chocolate.

Dark liquid chocolate - photo courtesy of ilker at Stock.XchngThe Latin name for cocoa is Theobroma, and this word means, ‘food of the gods’. There are over 20 species of theobroma.

Cocoa comes from and is native to South America where it is a valuable crop. It was also important and special in ancient South American cultures.

The love food

In the earliest known history of cocoa, the Mayans used it to create a ritual beverage. This beverage was drunk and shared during betrothal and marriage ceremonies. Consequently this is one of the original links of chocolate to romance! In modern times people often give gifts of chocolate as a romantic gesture or representation of affection or appreciation.

Today chocolate is a globally recognised food and people from numerous countries claim to be chocolate addicts or ‘chocoholics’. The consumption of chocolate is huge as it is so widely enjoyed. As demand increases supply has been regulated by special cocoa associations.

Types of yummy mouth-watering chocolate

There are a great many chocolate products available. Some have nuts, raisins, candy or biscuits with them. There are chocolate bars, slabs, cakes, milkshakes, ice-cream, coated confectionery and much more. The different ways in the production of chocolate is as wide as one’s creative spark. And there are several which are suitable for vegans too!

Regular white chocolate tends to have less cocoa and more milk. While brown chocolate has less cocoa and more milk than dark chocolate. Ideally the higher the percentage of cocoa, the healthier the chocolate is in its content of flavonoids.

What is cocoa made of?

Cocoa is extracted from cocoa beans. The bean is the dried and fully fermented fatty seed belonging to the tree, known as Theobroma cacao. It is from this bean that cocoa solids and cocoa butter are sourced. Cocoa trees thrive in hot, rainy tropical areas within 20° of latitude from the Equator. Cocoa beans are often roasted in factories. To make 1 kg of chocolate, you will need about 300 to 600 beans, depending on your desired cocoa content.

Why is cocoa healthy?

Cocoa is known for its flavonoid content. There are many studies showing how these flavonoids may have health benefits. Flavonoids in cocoa are also known as polyphenols, which are antioxidants. Specifically catechins, epicatechins, and procyandins are known to be in cocoa. Research shows these specific antioxidants being linked to reducing high blood pressure and lowering the tendency to form unwanted harmful blood clots. This means that cocoa may protect against strokes, heart attacks and other serious diseases.

Flavonoids degrade during cooking and alkalizing processes. Since chocolate production may involve both these processes, it explains why pure unaltered cocoa itself or high content cocoa products are superior to regular chocolate.

Is cocoa fattening?

With a high fat content, high cocoa content products are fattening and are best eaten in limited moderation. Regular brown and white chocolate produced with sugar is less healthy though, as refined sugar is known to contribute towards a range of ill health problems.

What is in cocoa?

As previously mentioned, cocoa is high in fat as it makes up about 50% of the cocoa bean. The specific type of fat in cocoa beans is saturated fatty acids (namely palmitic and stearic acids) and a mono-unsaturated acid known as oleic acid (the same as in olive oil). It is worth noting that pure cocoa does not raise cholesterol levels, but lower grade cocoa products, such as white chocolate, may raise cholesterol.

Although chocolate is high in simple sugars, cocoa itself is very low in sugar and contains more starch and fibre.

Theobromine is a substance also found in cocoa, which is a very mild stimulant and diuretic (increases the production of urine). Theobromine contributes to the ‘feel good effect’ we tend to experience after cocoa consumption. Note, theobromine can be toxic to animals such as dogs, cats, parrots and horses. Try not feed those pets any cocoa-containing foods!

Cocoa beans have a minor amount of caffeine compared to coffee and tea. Another ingredient in cocoa is phenylethylamin, which is a slight antidepressant and stimulant. Anyone sensitive to phenylamine may experience headaches or other symptoms after eating cocoa products.

Here comes some more good news! Cocoa and chocolate can increase the level of serotonine in the brain. Serotonine levels are often lower in people suffering from depression and PMS symptoms.

Cocoa beans also contribute nutritionally essential minerals and vitamins, including magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc, copper, potassium and manganese; along with vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C, E and pantothenic acid.

Overall high cocoa content chocolates are health and worth consuming, but always in moderation. Too much of a good thing is a bad thing! The cocoa tree is simply a tree that has given us many dietary pleasures that could not be supplied by any other substitute.

Take care, Anastacia

Visit Vegan SA for more information on vegan nutrition.

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Nutrition – health benefits of avocado

Posted on 21 November 2014

… a regular nutrition series for vegans by Anastacia Sampson

We may love creamy foods, but only a few are much more delectably healthy than others. Here are 7 reasons why avocado pear fruit is worth including in your diet:

  1. Avocado pears - photo courtesy of Pat Herman at FreeImagesAlthough high in fat, the fat they do supply is rated as healthy fat. Most of it is composed of oleic acid (the same as found in olive oil). There are a number of fatty substances found in avocado which have been shown by research to have anti-inflammatory properties. Ok, so we can get 240 calories from 150g or a cup of avocado. This is not too bad when you compare it to some biscuits, cakes, rusks or ice cream.
  2. We can rely on avocado pears to support our essential fatty acid intake. There are 2 types of fat that are crucial to our well-being, namely omega 6 and omega 3, and this fruit serves us well. As we can’t manufacture omega 6 or 3 and these types are needed for a range of processes in a health body, eating fatty foods containing them is healthy.
  3. Did you know that avocado can increase your absorption of carotenoids by 200-400%? Now that is something! What happens is that the fatty substances in the pear help with the absorption of health-promoting fat-soluble antioxidants, including vitamin E, vitamin K and carotenoids.
  4. Vitamin K is one of those vitamins that is starting to be more appreciated. It is essential for healthy calcium metabolism, especially in bones and for keeping us able to heal from cuts and wounds. It has a special and crucial role in blood clotting. Almost 40% of our daily vitamin K requirements are supplied by 150g of avocado.
  5. Many of our fruit foods tend to contain minor amounts of vitamin E. Vitamin E is a special nutrient that has a far range of health related benefits, including protection against development of cancer. Well, that same serving of 150g of pear will hand you about 16% of what has been officially deemed to be our daily vitamin E requirement.
  6. Pregnant women are often encouraged to consume avocados. There may be more than one reason, but one of the main ones is the folate found in this fruit. In pregnant women, folate prevents some forms of birth defects. For everyone else, pregnant or not, folate has essential roles in protecting us from cardiovascular disease and helps maintain healthy red blood cells.
  7. Lastly, avocado pear supplies a range of minerals and vitamins in significant amounts, including fibre but little protein and carbohydrates. Our 150g portion of will give us about 40% of our daily fibre, 25% of our vitamin C, and over 20% of our vitamin B5 requirements.

Take care, Anastacia

Visit Vegan SA for more information on nutrition for vegans.

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Nutrition – how to go creamy in a green way

Posted on 10 November 2014

… a regular nutrition series for vegans by Anastacia Sampson

For a truly healthy creamy fruit, there is only one and it is named the avocado pear. Avocados have been around for thousands of years, originating from South and Central America. Now they have spread and can be enjoyed across the world!

Lettuce Romaine salad with avocado - photo courtesy of moria at FlickrAvocado pears are great to buy when still hard and unripe; once they ripen they bruise easily and need to be handled with care and eaten within a short period. Ripening of avocado pears can be sped up by placing them in a brown paper bag. You will know it is ripe as the outer skin will turn darker and it will not be as hard and firm when you push it with a finger. The skin tends to be green or black. The inner flesh can range from green to slightly yellow as there are different varieties of avocado.

  1. Try including avocado pear in your salads, not to add calories but to enhance the absorption of special nutrients found in salads. Avocado supports absorption of various essential fat-soluble anti-oxidants and fat-soluble vitamins. When toxins are fat-soluble, the role of fat-soluble antioxidants is pivotal to help ward off and repair damage to cells. You may be on a low calorie diet, just make sure you don’t jeopardise your well-being for the sake of keeping away healthy fats.
  2. Avocado is an ideal ingredient to use as a dip or spread. Mash avocado pear, add some fresh lemon drops and season with black pepper and a pinch of Himalayan salt. Alternatively herbs can be added to the mixture. Fresh lemon juice is perfect for helping to keep exposed avocado flesh from turning brown. Once you actually cut an avocado and want to save some for later use, it is best to tightly wrap it up in an airtight container.
  3. Avocados are great for adding a touch of vegan creaminess to any meal. Often dairy cream or full cream milk is used in restaurant creamy soups but avocado pear is a much healthier alternative.
  4. Avocado is best eaten uncooked as too much heat will damage some of its fatty contents. There are so many ways though to still add it to raw or cooked and heated foods. Avocado is versatile and is yummy as a pizza topping, as a garnish to main meals, and even in wraps!
  5. ‘Avo as a quick snack by itself is also great. Cut half a ripe pear, remove the pip; lightly sprinkle over some pepper and a pinch of Himalayan salt. Mash gently with a fork and eat your half portion of creamy nourishing avocado right out of its skin. A tip for beauty treatments – avocado mash makes an excellent face mask!

Take care, Anastacia

Visit Vegan SA for more information on a healthy diets for vegans.

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Nutrition – The why and how to go bananas

Posted on 17 October 2014

… a regular nutrition series for vegans by Anastacia Sampson

Bunch of bananas - photo courtesy of x-eyedblonde at FlickrEvery banana that you consume is packed with energy. Bananas are excellent food for nutritional support at anytime, especially when we are stressed or on the move. This fruit is quick to peel, one of the least messy to eat and can be stored outside of a fridge.

Ideally bananas should be organically grown for optimal nutritional and health benefits.

Why sports people are usually banana fans

Bananas are renowned for helping to relieve muscle cramps. Sports people are especially fond of snacking on bananas to boost their energy, replace potassium and ease cramping. As science has shown potassium and magnesium to be key minerals that affect muscle contraction and relaxation, it makes perfect sense why bananas are often the fruit of choice for active athletes. It is recognised that one large banana, weighing 150 grams, supplies 10% of our magnesium needs and over 10% of our potassium requirements.

Athletes experience a great amount of physical stress during training and competing in events. Stress always reduces immune function and makes us more prone to colds and flus. We can increase our immune function with vitamin C. Fortunately bananas are also high in Vitamin C!

Why bananas are great for pregnancy and the elderly

Bananas are great for helping to reduce high blood pressure. Various studies show a correlation between a high potassium and magnesium intake and reduced heart disease. As magnesium helps relax muscles it also helps relieve high blood pressure. As bananas supplying useful amounts of magnesium, this is something to remember. Pregnant women sometimes experience temporary high blood pressure associated with the carrying of a foetus. The elderly tend to experience high blood pressure. As bananas are easy to chew and digest, they are great for anyone, no matter how old you may be.

Health benefits of sweet bananas

Roughage, otherwise known as fibre, is essential in supporting wellbeing. This is because the fibre supports toxin removal from our body. One large banana can deliver 16% of our fibre needs.

For those concerned about calorie intake, a large banana will supplies about 135 calories. Compared to the average snack bar, bag of crisps or serving of sweets; this is low. Packing a banana or two for tea time snacks or as mid-afternoon energy boosters truly does wonders for health.

Yes, bananas are a fruit and mainly composed of sugar. As a banana ripens its stored starch converts to more easily digestible sugars. For a lower glycemic index banana, choose one with a slight greenish tinge along the outer skin. Generally, bananas are a moderate glycemic index fruit.

Did you know that bananas may be one of the best remedies for ulcers. Countless cases of ulcer sufferers report relief from eating bananas. What we do know is that they help line the stomach and act as an antacid. For better bacteria gut population it is of benefit to eat fructooligosaccharides (FOS). Research reveals FOS are found in bananas. This means bananas are a cost effective prebiotic!

Although bananas can claim to have an assortment of minerals and vitamins, they are especially high in vitamin B6. One large banana feeds us about 28% of our daily vitamin B6 requirements.

Don’t discard and throw away that banana peel too soon

Banana peels are great home remedies. The inside of the peel can be wrapped and tapped over a wart, for wart removal. While rubbing the inner peel on bites also serves to relieve itching and irritation from mosquito bites.

Bananas are a happy fruit

Bananas are significant sources of the amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is a starting material for a neurotransmitter that has been linked to help ease depression and increase better moods.

Banana flavours are not always true

The banana flavour is used in the food industry for an assortment of edibles, such as confectionery (including sweets), milkshakes, ice-cream and biscuits. A flavour can often be artificially manufactured. To be truly healthy, we need to eat more naturally based foods and less processed based foods.

Ways to get banana into your meals

Here are 7 ideas to inspire you to include more banana based snacks in your daily menu.

Banana chips – oven bake slices of banana and soon you will have crispy high energy banana chips. Slice bananas and place on a baking tray lined with a baking sheet. Drizzle with fresh lemon juice and leave in a preheated oven for about an hour and a half. Having a food dehydrator is perfect for making chips from bananas. Your oven or microwave can do it too.

Banana quick snack spiced with cinnamon – bananas can be peeled, sliced up and served on a plate sprinkled with cinnamon. Pouring over fresh lemon, will add a zesty flavour and keep the banana from turning brown, if left exposed to the air for a longer period. Have a fork handy and you have a great nutritional snack!

Banana bread – there are easy ways to prepare yummy banana bread. Fortunately supermarkets sell it, as not everyone enjoys baking. While banana bread tends to be high in sugar and refined ingredients, it may not always be the healthiest option. Another option is to slice banana and add it as a filling to make toasted sandwiches. You can add some cinnamon or crushed black pepper corns. For healthy banana toasties, prepare with wholegrain based bread.

Mashed banana and avocado pear – this is another great chip dip or sandwich filler. Also great for babies!

Banana shake – to thicken up any shake, bananas serve well. When you prepare smoothies, use this fruit for a thicker consistency, while they also deliver some key nutrients with a touch of sweetness.

Banana pancakes/flapjacks/muffins– all these are popular, especially with children. Bananas can easily be incorporated into your batter before layering in the frying pan or popping in the oven to bake.

Frozen banana delight – freeze peeled banana chunks, then blend or whizz until it’s a smooth consistency. You can make it more interesting by topping it with chocolate sauce, pieces of cashew nuts or berries if desired. This gives a yummy cool sweet treat for hot days.

Take care, Anastacia

For more tips on vegan health, visit Vegan SA.

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Nutrition – Getting sweet with sweet potato

Posted on 17 September 2014

… a regular nutrition series for vegans by Anastacia Sampson

Although not a true potato, sweet potato is still rich in complex carbohydrates and comforting just like a real potato. Yet unlike potato it has a low GI (glycemic index) rating and is sweeter in taste.

Sweet potato - photo courtesy of Dantada at MorgueFileThis vegetable originates from Central and South America, with evidence showing it has been eaten since prehistoric times.

Healthy skin from eating sweet potato

We know that beta-carotene is converted to vitamin A. Sweet potatoes are one food that contain exceptionally high amounts of beta-carotene. By eating this tuber we gain ample vitamin A, which is essential for clearer skin, strong connective tissue formation and stronger immune defence. Half a cup of cooked sweet potato exceeds our daily vitamin A requirements!

Vitamin C is another vitamin needed for strong skin, along with healthy gums, strong muscles and generally good maintenance of detoxification. A cup of cooked sweet potato delivers over half of our recommended daily allowance of vitamin C too!

A great tuber for improved well-being

Sweet potato may be of benefit when you suffer from inflammatory conditions, such as arthritis, allergies, coughs and asthma. Science has revealed that this vegetable contains special anti-inflammatory substances. Every day we experience stress, and stress reactions require vitamin B. More great news is that sweet potato supplies us with an assortment of vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5 and B6 in significant degrees.

Fibre intake protects against formation of high cholesterol, constipation, some types of cancer and diseases of the intestines. Once again sweet potato meets the bar and can be counted on for delivering that significant dose of high fibre. Some of the best about this nutritious food is that less than 100 calories will be gained from half a cup of cooked sweet potato. This truly is guilt-free sweet comforting super food!

Time to get inspirational and creative with sweet potato in our daily cooking

Cut up sweet potato into wedges. Then microwave or bake until soft for a yummy treat! For a sweeter treat, sprinkle over with cinnamon or berry sauce to taste. For a crispier and crunchier mouthful, cook for longer and until lightly brown… not too long as they really can become rock hard and tasteless if left too long unattended when cooking. This is a great healthy snack, even to be packed for lunch boxes.

Slice up sweet potato into strips. Brush over with olive oil and lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper. Then spread out the strips and bake on a baking tray, lined with parchment, until golden brown. This is a great alternative to regular potato French fries/chips.

Cut up sweet potato into wedges; lightly sprinkle with olive oil before roasting. After an about an hour of roasting, add to a bed of salad leafy greens. With cherry tomatoes, roasted cashew nuts and red bell peppers, this can be a super yummy nutritious salad main course or starter dish.

Mash potato can be oh so sweet! Just peel sweet potato skin off of several potatoes. Steam or boil. Then mash into a smooth texture. Add any spices or herbs for flavour. Note that white fleshed sweet potato is an ideal easily digestible nourishing comforting food compared to regular potato mash.

Thinly slice sweet potatoes, then lay on a baking tray lined with parchment, after having lightly brushed them with olive oil. Add a sprinkle of any desired spices or salt. Place in a preheated oven at 200 degrees Celsius and bake for 2 to 3 hours. This preparation creates some thin crunchy sweet potato crisps. These are perfect for holiday and weekend times for preparation and then snacking.

You can also add mashed sweet potato to pancakes for yummy healthy deserts! There are so many ways to use sweet potatoes and incorporate it into our diet, even for babies. For easy to digest nutritional goodness, cook and blend sweet potato into a puree for babies and use as a base for thicker and sweeter soups.

Take care, Anastacia

Visit Vegan SA for more information on a healthy eating.

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Nutrition – culinary ideas for cauliflower

Posted on 6 August 2014

… a regular nutrition series for vegans by Anastacia Sampson

When we are vegan, it takes creative ideas to turn our meals from the mundane in to “out of this world” gastronomically delights. Now let’s take a preview at the cauliflower vegetable!

Let's get creative with cauliflower - photo courtesy of Johan Bolhuis at Stock.XchngThis may seem an all-time boring veggie that we can buy fresh or frozen, but don’t be too quick to judge. By having innovative vegetable ideas, cauliflower can be prepared in diverse ways. There is so much more to this white creamy coloured vegetable than we give it credit for.

Did you know that this vegetable is a great supplier of antioxidants and vitamin K? Vitamin K is important for using calcium in our bones and it is needed for healthy blood clot formation. Sulforaphane is another special compound found in cauliflower. It is sulphoraphane which has been linked to having protective effects against cancer development.

Here are 5 versatile ways on how to incorporate this vegetable into your healthy lifestyle. These are stepping stones for you to bounce from in your meal preparations.

  1. For the quickest and easiest, enjoy it raw! Nibble on raw pieces of cauliflower as a snack. As this vegetable is low in calories and tends to have a bulking effect with its fibre content, it will promote healthy weight management and a sense of well-being through its nutritional content.
  2. How about cauliflower made into flour? Gluten free flours are becoming oh so popular. Well, it is possible to make your very own crispy vegetable pizza base by using cauliflower as part of the gluten-free flour ingredients.
  3. Then there is cauliflower mash, which can actually be extremely nourishing and yummy. Basically you cook up your cauliflower until soft, mash it up and mix it with anything from garlic, salt, pepper, spices and herbs for taste. Cauliflower is truly versatile; it just needs imagination to transform a mundane veggie into a gastric delight!
  4. For rice lovers, there is cauliflower ‘rice’. Grate cauliflower or place it in a food processor. Before you know it you are left with fluffy bits of cauliflower that can be enjoyed raw or lightly cooked. Yes, you can have a low carb, low calorie vegetable-based rice-like dish as an alternative to rice or couscous.
  5. Steamed cauliflower is also a great creamy soft snack or part of a main course meal. Steaming is a form of cooking with minimal loss of nutrients. Don’t forget that just 100g of cauliflower delivers over three quarters of our vitamin C requirements. Add spices, salt or herbs for flavour. You can even top it with your favourite sauce.

Take care, Anastacia

Visit Vegan SA for more information on vegan nutrition.

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Nutrition – how nice is rice?

Posted on 5 July 2014

… a regular nutrition series for vegans by Anastacia Sampson

Rice is a lovely cereal grain that is carbohydrate rich, low in fat and easy to digest. What is truly great about rice is how versatile it is and it goes really well with many vegetables. Stir fries with rice are super delicious.

Rice terrace in Bali, IndonesiaOften we are given many presentations of white rice. Sure white rice is nice. But being refined, it is has far less essential vitamins and minerals compared to brown rice. Do yourself a favour, have more than just nice old white rice!

There are a wide variety of rice types on the market, from short grained to long grained, sticky sweet, sushi and others. For a low glycemic index diet, choose brown basmati rice. I grew up with white rice; I then ate brown when I learnt it was healthier. Today when I eat rice, I try only using brown basmati. Brown basmati often has the lowest glycemic index of all the rice varieties.

Try brown rice and you will soon find that your body will be quite grateful for the added nutrients. Then be a bit more adventurous and try bamboo (soaked in bamboo juice), jasmine or basmati rice. These all have interesting flavours.

Brown rice is known to be especially good for magnesium. Magnesium is a mineral that we need to help balance and metabolise calcium. Magnesium also has an important role in metabolism when we burn up calories. Selenium and manganese are 2 other vital minerals found in high levels in brown rice. Some brown rice types are glutinous, others have a nutty flavour, some are chewier.

It can be quite tempting to purchase and eat the pre-cooked ready-made rice presented in attractive packaging. From a nutritional as well as health perspective, preparing your own rice at home is probably the best option.  Cooking rice in its own steam is easy. Just bring to the boil, then place on a lid and switch off the heat. Let it stand on the preheated hot plate and within an hour it will be ready to be served. You can freeze left-over cooked rice for meals at other times.

Wild rice has become more available. Although the name may lead you to think otherwise, it is not rice at all but a grass. Wild rice has a higher protein quantity than rice and is nutritionally superior. However, rice is still a great food!

We usually think of rice as part of a main meal but it can be used in desserts too, such as rice pudding. In Asian countries, rice wine is drunk, and in supermarkets across the world a range of rice based breakfast cereals are on offer. Rice crackers, called ‘rice cakes’, and rice milk (quite sweet) are all related products that demonstrate the amazing diversity of rice.

Take care, Anastacia

Visit Vegan SA for more information on vegan health.

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Nutrition – being a woman and the power of herbs

Posted on 30 June 2014

… a regular nutrition series for vegans by Anastacia Sampson

There are many women suffering from or experiencing some form of PMS (pre-menstrual stress). Then after that we must go through menopause!

Fresh herbs, pestle and mortar - photo courtesy of Amanda Dodds, Stock.XchngPMS often involves mood swings, headaches, cramping and sometimes nausea and upset stomachs, while menopause may present symptoms of night sweats and hot facial flushes.

This is a global issue generally, although some areas of the world tend to have a higher prevalence of these ‘problems’.  It is my personal thought that our diet and lifestyle greatly affect our hormones. Various studies indicate how we are affected by substances, such as plastics etc. We know that every cell in your body, every chemical in your body is composed from the food and beverages that you feed yourself! Do you realise just how much power you have over your body?

When you feed yourself ‘junk fuel’, your engine cannot run so well. Our body is like an engine – it has great power but needs care and proper high quality fuel to operate at optimum performance. Our thoughts and lifestyle also affect us yet our diet is such a key point that we often disregard.

So here we are as women, often we have processed foods. Considering being vegan, we consider ourselves still ok. The point is that we are probably better off than some other non-vegan women. Let’s be clear here on one point – by having dairy and meat (often loaded with hormones and antibiotics unless certified organic) we are pumping ourselves with toxins. Even organic would be feeding us with animal hormones. Those extra hormones do affect our delicate hormonal balance.

Even if we are vegan we may still have imbalances in our hormone levels, creating ill symptoms. Instead of a smooth transition to puberty, fertility, then menopause and infertility, we struggle as our body sends out symptoms. It takes a bit of consideration to work out the cause yet very simply a change in lifestyle and diet does wonders.

Herbalism is a wonderful support to remedy our body’s ails. Our body is all-natural; we should be feeding it natural remedies. Here are some natural aids for our troubled times:

  • Witch hazel herb – a super herb for excessive menstruation. You can buy this at health shops and at Dischem pharmacies. Boil the dried herb in clean water, then sieve it and sip as a tea. Although this herb is bitter it is very effective. Drink a cup 3 times a day during heavy menstruation.
  • Agnus castus – also known as chasteberry and a well-researched herb. This healing herb is ideal for regulating female hormones. There are cases where it has been effective for PMS, ovarian cysts and many other female problems. This herb is often available in capsule form for easy supplementing. It is very safe and can be taken for several months.
  • Ginger – a widely available spice and ideal for nausea that women endure during pregnancy or at any other times. Ginger is often known as a culinary spice and can be added to foods or made into a strong tea.
  • Black Cohosh – this herb is well-known for supporting women especially during menopause.

There are numerous powerfully effective herbs to help us regain our hormonal balance. Once you know about all the effects of herbs, using them correctly can be safe and effective. The use of herbs should be done with respect and some background knowledge. All herbs can have multiple super effects. That is why we should not abuse them.

Take care, Anastacia

Visit Vegan SA for more information on a vegan health.

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Nutrition – tinned and pre-cooked food

Posted on 2 June 2014

… a regular nutrition series for vegans by Anastacia Sampson

10 basics on tin food & pre-cooked vegetables

For me, tinned foods tend to bring up associations of camping and living out in the country. Yet when I walk along supermarkets there are so many brands and types of tinned foods. The canning industry seems to be booming. For many of us caught in a time rush, racing to prepare quick meals; tinned foods and pre-cooked vegetables seem to provide some yummy options!

Tinned food - photo courtesy of Matty and Sharon at Stock.Xchng1. We call them tinned foods but generally tinned foods are actually packed in aluminium (light metal) cans. Once we use the can it adds to the rubbish, not the best form of discarded garbage as can edges can injure animals. Throw old tins in a designated recycle bin if you do use them.

2. Acid may cause the aluminium of cans to leech out. It doesn’t mean all tinned tomatoes or acidic fruits such as pineapple are especially harmful. It might be worth being mindful of this and reducing high acidic foods that come out of a tin.

3. Fruits are naturally high in sugar, such as fructose. Tinned fruits often have added sugar in the form of syrup. Rather choose natural fresh fruits or at the minimum canned fruits preserved in fruit juice.

4. Tinned beans, lentils and vegetables are commonly preserved with high amounts of salt. If the label states it is in saline water; be alert that this is just salt water.

5. A really great brand of tinned foods seems to the Rhodes brand. You will see they have a range of fruits preserved in fruit juice and some exceptional tasty vegetable mixes while still being moderate in added salt.

6. The liquid that submerges your food in tins is usually high in salt or sugar too. Wait before you go drain it, remember that minerals and water-soluble vitamins tend to stick in the watery sections. Then it becomes a toss between high salt/sugar or some extra nutrients. If you have hypertension, sugar diabetes or a susceptibility to these illnesses then drain out that water.

7. Did you know good old tinned baked beans are especially significant for their contribution of magnesium? Magnesium is one of those special minerals that also assist in calcium metabolism. My dear female friends, no it is not only milk that provides strong bones; we need other nutrients too!

8. We are over-processing foods; we change the nutritional value and chemical structure through processing. I still advocate that being vegan requires us to be mindful of how we are duped into the fast food culture.

9. The impact of sugar on our health is scary. We need to start taking action and daily responsibility through our food choices. Sugar diabetes, cancer, mood swings, headaches and fatigue are just some of the problems that are known to develop and get worse with sugar.

10. Then we go on and add table salt (which is sodium chloride) to our vegetables, besides the times we add sugar to our vegetables! Next thing you know we have a sense of water retention; ummmm was it not because of all that salt you’ve been eating over the years. Excess salt is known to not only be linked to high blood pressure, but also headaches and a sense of being bloated (especially around the abdomen due to water retention).

I absolutely love my vegetables. Then when I go out to restaurants I would not let a restaurant-served vegetable soup touch my lips. Why? First off, many chefs add a bit of dairy or tinned ingredients. Lastly, chefs sometimes put taste above health. Ok I don’t blame chefs; no one will come to a restaurant that serves bland foods.  Restaurants often run on a budget and the cheapest and most common taste bud-wagging ingredients are sugar and salt.

Sometimes I consider the pre-made meals display at supermarkets. The smashed pumpkin or butternut always looks appetizing, come on that’s one of my favourite vegetables. Then I step back, knowing that oh-so sweet orange vegetable has been ruined with added sugar.

Even when eating at other people’s homes, I wonder is this vegetable just naturally sweet?

Take care, Anastacia

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Nutrition – cold recovery

Posted on 8 May 2014

… a regular nutrition series for vegans by Anastacia Sampson

We all know that recovering from a bout of flu or a cold is not always easy. First off we tend to feel far more tired. There is this feeling that we need a “pick me up”.

Lemon tree - photo courtesy of Fran Linden at Stock.XchngWhat we need is something to support our immune system. To begin, a strong immune system is more skilled in preventing us catching most common colds and flus. Yet if our immune system is already below par and then we go and catch the flu or cold, it is stresses our body.

Our white blood cells are called up for duty; they are part of the immune system. While our immune system is fighting the viral invasion, our nutrient resources become depleted. To build up more fortified ‘weapons’ and ‘structures’ to protect our body against this viral invasion, we use more nutrients. Soon our body is feeling tired, it has been fighting and now needs to begin the repairs.

What can we do to boost our body while it recuperates? The following is a simple list of some well-known foods and remedies to take, while noting what to avoid:

  1. Rest cannot be emphasized more clearly! It is rest that is one of the best remedies of all time. We can’t always afford to take more days off work or recline back from our daily responsibilities, chores and tasks. Whether it be a stay at home, work or just general daily tasks. When you can, do rest.
  2. Echinacea is often available at pharmacies and health shops as a herbal tincture or in dried herb form. This herbal remedy has been researched for its properties that may be assisting our immune function. In my experience it is especially supportive while we are trying to regain vitality after a flu or cold episode. Use a reputable supplier for your Echinacea.
  3. Lemons are high in vitamin C and extremely bitter. They also offer a range of antioxidants, are refreshing and support liver function. The high acidity in lemons can be problematic for our teeth. Anyone with sensitive teeth should be especially mindful to avoid applying undiluted fresh lemon juice to the teeth, as the acidity promotes enamel erosion (enamel is the protective shield around our teet). Squeeze a fresh lemon into a glass of warm water, then sip slowly or through a straw. You can add some ginger or cinnamon, to spice it up. The idea is that you are making a tea of sorts to support your body. Best to use fresh lemons, not bottled lemon juice which has added sulphur dioxide (some people are sensitive to this preservative) or sugar added. More refined sugar is not supportive when our immune system is weak.
  4. Garlic is fantastically reputed to contribute natural antibiotic-like substances, while clinical research has proven its efficiency. This is besides its range of other healing properties, such as being anti-fungal and supplying high amounts of immune-boosting compounds. You can add garlic to food or add a crushed garlic clove to hot water, allow infusing and then sipping slowly when cooler. Use of fresh garlic is ideal.
  5. Green tea is fabulous as it has an assortment of antioxidants. It’s also comforting to sip warm liquids when feeling unwell. The only downside of green tea is its noteworthy caffeine content. If you do use it, be moderate in your green tea intake.
  6. Bananas are high in energy and supply some useful amounts of B vitamins. These are a great convenient natural ‘pick me up’ snack.
  7. Munch on whole food snacks and more vegetables, fresh fruits and unrefined whole grains. This is to gain a higher nutrient intake of vitamins and minerals, as well as fibre. When your diet is lacking in more nutritious foods, it is especially important to compliment your diet with vitamin and mineral supplements.
  8. Alcohol should be avoided as it is a suppressant. It is also dehydrating, as is caffeine. Being dehydrated is not supportive to well-being. All caffeine-containing beverages are to be kept to a minimum, or better still avoided, as caffeine gives us a boost of energy while not actually supporting the cause of our fatigue.
  9. Cigarette smoking should be shunned, that includes secondhand smoke. Smoke interferes with the respiratory organs and can be extremely negative when we are trying to deal with or heal flus and colds.
  10. Taking too many drug medications can also be a cause for feeling ‘under the weather’. Drugs are really effective for emergency cases and they are lifesaving in many circumstances. However when we abuse them, take them often, and use them for minor problems we can also be causing some side effects. All drug medications have side effects. That is why it is always important to read the sheet of information that comes with all packaged medications. As we all react differently to medications, it is always best to consult with your health care professional. Antibiotics fight bacterial infections. Often we take antibiotics for flu or colds, yet often these viral infections are not bacterial infections. So we are taking something quite commonly that is not particularly worth the side effect of diarrhoea, fatigue or possible future antibiotic resistance.

Often we succumb to a series of flus and colds in one season, this reveals how weakened our immune system is. When you can, take action to boost your immune defence. It’s simple with responsible lifestyle choices and dietary habits. Feeling tired is not a way to live! We should all be feeling high in our vitality and be able to deal with an adventurous life. We have the power, every time we feed ourselves, to either support or not support our bodies. Love yourself enough to care about your own well-being!

Take care, Anastacia

For more on nutrition, visit Vegan SA.

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Nutrition – preventing winter colds

Posted on 29 April 2014

… a regular nutrition series for vegans by Anastacia Sampson

Beat the winter with lots of vitamin C - photo courtesy of Willie Cloete at Stock.XchngWinter is near and many of us are more likely to experience flus and colds. A strong immune system can protect us from falling victim to various minor ailments, including flus and colds.

As more of our friends and family succumb to aches, fevers, snotty noses, sore throats and chesty coughs; it is time to boost our immunity! To do this there are some points we can focus on.

  1. Try minimising stressful situations, ideally by implementing stress management techniques. We can’t avoid stress. What may be a stress for your friend may not even be a stress for you. What each of us considers as a stress varies in degrees. The best policy is to know how to manage the many mini-crises we are challenged with. That involves patience, knowing when to say no, learning to delegate tasks and most of all giving yourself some time to just relax. Remember that stress decreases your immunity!
  2. Eat more citrus fruits or green, yellow and red peppers for higher vitamin C content. Vitamin C has been long established as enhancing white blood cell numbers and overall function in our bodies. As the white blood cells are your army against viruses and bacteria, it’s worth strengthening your defences.
  3. Horde those nuts! Nuts have high levels of minerals. Minerals intake in balanced amounts are vital for a healthy functioning immune system. Besides being mainly composed of healthy fats, nuts also contain the immune strengthening fat-soluble vitamin E.
  4. Drink sufficient amounts of water. Water is excellent in supporting detoxification as it helps flush out toxins through the kidneys into urine. Be balanced in your water intake; excessive amounts can actually damage your kidneys as it is a strain to filter excessive amounts of fluid.
  5. Dress sensibly. So many of us are more fashion conscious than caring about well-being. Being under-dressed in cold weather causes us to feel more chills. As our body tries to keep us warm, it closes up our skin pores. The skin is an important route for toxin excretion through sweat, mostly in sweat that is not even noticeable. When the skin route of elimination is closed, our body directs more toxins to our other sites of elimination. This may include your nose and chest (these parts of your body then become weaker and are more vulnerable to viral attacks). So keep your skin reasonably warm and not in a tight and goose bump state!
  6. Laugh and smile! Being happy is known to enhance so many body functions and raise vitality. A raised and optimistic vitality and outlook on life is more resistant to succumbing to flus and colds. This is because a happier state of mind tends to correlate to a stronger immune defence. Yes, cold weather is gloomy but there is always something to make up for it. For outdoor people, there are still winter orientated sports to participate in. Enjoy the simple things in life. Find happiness in the winter season by enjoying warm bowls of nourishing soup or warm cups of beverages while knowing we are blessed to have well-structured homes in weather like this!
  7. Avoid excessive sugar intakes. Sugar in high amounts is known to not be supportive to immune function. In cold weather it is easier to seek out comfort foods, and often comfort foods may be high in sugar content. Instead of the sugary treat, rather opt for some warm home-made soups. In cold weather, being in the kitchen over a hot pot of food is far more comforting than on summer days. Enjoy your cooking times in winter!
  8. Take a supplement designed to boost the immune system. Due to our modern lifestyle, we have greater needs for nutrients than may be adequately provided by a typical modern day diet. As the market is well stocked with supplements, focus on reputable brands to source your supplements. Do not rely on supplements to replace a poor nutrition diet as the diet itself is most powerful. Only use supplements to support your diet.
  9. Incorporate more herbs in food preparation. Herbs are nourishing and there are so many different varieties and flavours among the range of culinary herbs. Since ancient times, people have utilised herbs to enhance nutrient intakes and support well-being. Herbs also have effective therapeutic properties and should always be seen and used from a ‘kitchen medicine’ perspective.
  10. When possible, try avoiding places which are crowded with people. We are more likely to catch a cold or flu virus from close contact with someone else who is ill. When we already have a weakened immune system, due to any number of reasons, and then come into contact with someone who is ill, we are likely to fall ill too. Basically in crowded areas we have less chance to move away or not be too close to someone else who is ill. This is one of the reasons that schools and large enclosed work areas act like breeding grounds for colds and flus. Everyone seems to keep infecting each other.

Do take time this season to care for your well-being; you are worth it! Being sick and taking time off from work or school can often just cause more stress. Rather try being pro-active and avoiding the usual flu and cold rounds, if possible. This saves us costs in medicines and taking time off work.

Take care, Anastacia

For more tipe on vegan nutrition, visit Vegan SA.

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Nutrition – Turmeric

Posted on 26 March 2014

… a regular nutrition series for vegans by Anastacia Sampson

Turmeric is a yellow spice that has been used for centuries for culinary use, especially Asian cuisine. Today it is widely available for sale in various food stores for the mass consumer market.

Turmeric is often used as a spice in Indian cuisine - photo courtesy of Lotus Head at Stock.Xchng

This spice is great to add to rice to produce popular yellow rice. Tumeric can be added to almost any food, but it does tend to have a drying effect. It is a hot, dry spice. Besides being a well-known safe adjunct to food, turmeric has special health and medicinal effects.

The constituents of tumeric are about 5% essential oils and about 5% curcumin and the remainder being various antioxidants and other nutrients. A number of scientific studies have shown that the special component known as curcumin has great health benefits. Besides this; research reveals various other antioxidants in this spice, possessing powerful antioxidant properties and anti-inflammatory effects.

Other research has indicated that turmeric may enhance liver function and even may protect against cancer cells. There has also been a link of this special yellow spice in protecting people from Alzheimer’s disease formation and further in warding against progression of this neurological degenerating disease. For cases of high blood sugar, turmeric has been said to be possibly effective in reducing blood sugar naturally.

Generally there are no known side effects of tumeric when used in culinary forms so don’t stress over using this spice to add some mild curry like flavour or yellow colouring. Yet when this yellow spice is ingested at medicinal doses and excessively for a long time it may lead to stomach upset and sometimes aggravate or increase susceptibility to ulcers.

Since this spice has been shown to stimulate gall bladder production of bile; it is worth consulting with a relevant health care professional in cases of gall stones or gall bladder duct obstruction when using turmeric at higher intakes.

Naturally as tumeric is a spice and heating in its effect, it may be worth avoiding this spice in some cases of digestive related ulcers. Also in cases when medications are taken to decrease stomach acid, do rather avoid turmeric as this spice has been reputed to increase stomach acid production.

When turmeric is used at high therapeutic dosages it is recommended to not use it while also taking blood thinning medication. The reason is that turmeric also may have blood thinning properties!

It is worthwhile being mindful about where you source your turmeric from. It has been revealed in the past that manufacturers have incorporated toxic colourants into this spice powder to deepen the yellow colour. This may not be beneficial to our overall wellbeing.

Tumeric is known for its natural colouring properties, even used to dye clothing. Try spilling some damp turmeric on linen or clothing and you will notice the distinctly yellow stain. Fortunately this stain isn’t permanent!

It’s always worth having turmeric on your spice shelf rack!

Take care, Anastacia

Visit Vegan SA for more on health and nutrition for vegans.

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