Vegan Nutrition

Nutrition – Spiced cinnamon vegetables

Posted on 1 January 2014

… a regular nutrition series for vegans by Anastacia Sampson

Many parents struggle in convincing their children to eat vegetables.  The only way to appeal to children is by often adding sugar! Refined sugar has been linked to:

Cinnamon sticks - photo courtesy of Jozsef Szoke at Stock.Xchng

  • Suppressing our immune system
  • Cancers
  • Causing weight gain and making weight loss difficult
  • Interfering with healthy cellular function
  • May cause mood swings, irritability and other mental disturbances
  • Supporting unhealthy bowel flora in our digestive intestines
  • Cause insulin resistance, irregular blood sugar levels and sugar diabetes

Adding sugar to entice your youngster or anyone (especially when young) to eat vegetables does not actually do much benefit for their dietary preferences in the long run. It heightens your growing child’s desire for sugary foods (even as an adult) and the child never truly learns or adapts to enjoy vegetables. Our earliest fed foods tend to determine our future dietary preferences. Studies show that it takes several times of presenting the same food to a child before a child accepts it or attempts to eat it.

It may seem a bore serving and serving while always having your little one saying no, yet there are ways to make vegetables more appealing. It all comes down to presentation and the addition of spices and herbs. I know from personal experience I don’t enjoy certain vegetables, even though I love vegetables in general and know they are healthy. However, with thoughtful preparation many of us can enjoy all vegetables.

A great healthy treat is cinnamon spiced sweet potato! Most people generally have come across pancakes and children usually find them tasty. Well, to supply vitamins and minerals, especially valuable vitamin A, vitamin E, fibre and a low glycemic meal, this is superb. It’s also great in time efficiency to prepare.

All parents and care-givers who just feel too worn out to labour over meal preparations, just have to slice sweet potato into thin strips. Once the sweet potato is all sliced up, then oven bake or cook in the microwave until soft. Sprinkle liberal amounts of cinnamon powder over and serve warm or cool.

Spiced cinnamon can be sprinkled over cooked butternut chunks, as well as diced banana. Try toasted bread with fillings of banana and cinnamon powder for a great alternative toasty!

This spice is reputed to be a warming agent! Besides being able to warm the body, cinnamon has been used as a remedy for diarrhoea and it has been scientifically shown to support healthy blood sugar levels. It can be quite ironic that this sweet warming spice can actually support people with an irregular blood sugar. Sweetness does not have to always be from adding sugar to our foods.

The more we move away from our reliance on refined sugar for heightening the sweetness of food for our taste buds, the more we may be improving our overall well-being.

Take care, Anastacia

Visit Vegan SA for more information on a healthy vegan eating habits.

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Nutrition – herbs

Posted on 23 November 2013

… a regular nutrition series for vegans by Anastacia Sampson

Herbs are a fantastic ingredient to incorporate into our meals. I was bought up with meat; and since I’ve been an aspiring vegan and then later a vegan, I have realised that what I missed from my previous diets was not the actual meat dishes, but rather the flavour of the cooked herbs.

Fresh dill - photo courtesy of Zsuzsanna Kilian at Stock.XchngWhen I crave vegetarian or vegan pizza, it is usually a dash of marjoram that brings satisfaction. When I crave stews, it is usually a mixture of vegetables, with olive oil and basil, rosemary and thyme that solves my craving. The point is that personally I have also noticed that most restaurants and home cooked meals that smell so yummy are due to the simmering of herbs.

With the advancement of processed foods utilizing additives of preservatives and flavourants, there has been much to propel liking of a generally more salty taste among consumers, and less for a flavoursome herbal one.

Sometimes meat only tastes as great as it does due to the use of spices, sauces, gravy and herbs. Back to our herbs; ideally most of us would have our kitchen herbal pot plants within close range. The aroma in the kitchen would become heartier while the benefits to our health may be medicinal and nutritious.

The herbal benefits

There are herbs shown by scientific studies that enhance immunity, have healing promoting capabilities and a range of other effects.

Peppermint sweets after a meal may be linked to bygone days when peppermint leaves were used after a meal. As peppermint is a useful remedy for gas and bloating after a meal, this association has still crept up into our modern culture. The problem is that the minty sweet is often just flavouring and lacks any sufficient true mint ingredient or properties. Spearmint also has minty properties but is gentler. There are various flavoured chewing gums, sweets and even waters flavoured as spearmint. Spearmint is refreshing!

Let’s go to a common spice, such as cinnamon. We often use it for pancakes. Yet it is a great sprinkle to be used on chocolate snacks, coffee drinks, tea drinks, potatoes and other sweet or carbohydrate based foods. Various medical studies have shown the efficacy of cinnamon in supporting a reduced blood sugar spike after a meal. This is especially of benefit to people who experience sugar diabetes or irregular blood sugar levels. There are supplements on the market that are basically cinnamon tablets or capsules! Yet you can gain the benefits of this lovely warming spice in some basic home recipes. Mashed potato with cinnamon or stir fries with sprinkles of cinnamon.

Like ginger, cinnamon also has been affiliated with bringing some relief to cases of nausea and digestive related problems. This shows how ginger (with actual ginger) cookies may help pregnant women with morning sickness. Fennel is another herb that has been linked to aiding morning sickness. Fennel with its liquorice taste also has special properties to curb excessive appetite and promote breast milk production.

There is no doubt that a bland dish can be transformed into a gastronomically high star meal with the use of herbs and spices. It’s not just the taste though – some of these herbs and spices are known by science to enhance our appetite!

The point of this article is to inspire aspiring vegans to realise that any meal can be much better with the utilization of herbs and spices. Be adventurous with your herb and spice ranges that are available and experiment to get what you need for different occasions.

Take care, Anastacia

For more information on vegan health, Vegan SA.

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Nutrition – healthy fats

Posted on 21 October 2013

… a regular nutrition series for vegans by Anastacia Sampson

There are a variety of fats, sometimes also known as lipids or fatty acids that form part of our body. Some are essential for our well being, some can be harmful, while others just are plain fat (that can only add to our fat deposits). Fats generally are fatty substances, high in calories with 1 gram being equivalent to 9 calories.

Avocado pear - photo courtesy of Brybs at Stock.XchngFats supply us with reserve energy and have multiple functions in our body, this is especially relevant to omega 3 and 6. Generally, healthy fats are polyunsaturated (including omega 3 and 6 and need to be fed into our body in balanced ratios). Then there are monunsaturated fats, which are considered healthy generally. Saturated fats do not benefit us much besides adding to our weight and supplying us with reserve energy.

Cholesterol is essential but in minor amounts and, more often than not, when we eat animal based foods we eat too much of it. Cholesterol is further broken down generally into LDL (low density lipoproteins) and HDL (high density lipoproteins). When LDL levels are elevated our risk of cardiovascular disease is increased. Some moderate intake of healthy fats serve us much benefit, as well as to become incorporated to form part of the structure of our cell.

Sources of healthy fats

Healthy fatty vegan foods are easy to source, commonly from nuts and oils. A popular fruit that we may consume widely and gain fat from is the avocado pear. Yes avocado pear is a fruit and yet it is mostly composed of healthy monounsaturated fats.

Peanuts are technically a legume, yet they also contain significant amounts of healthy fats. Our range of vegan foods generally supply us with healthy fats. It is our preparation of these healthy vegan fats which can turn them into harmful fats. The preparation of fats is an article in itself. Try stick to nuts that are bought with their hard outer shell covering or casing. This protects the nuts from becoming rancid and preserves the delicate essential polyunsaturated lipids in the kernel from being damaged through exposure to oxygen. It is a schlep to break the shells of nuts but it can also be turned into a fun family event with the sounds of nut cracking.

Being a vegan may affect our fat intake, by altering the types of fats we feed into our bodies. Generally plant based fats are high in monounsaturated fats; contain lesser amounts of saturated fats and no cholesterol. They also supply significant amounts of the essential fatty acids (polyunsaturated fats). Polyunsaturated fats can be broken down into various types but the 2 main groups are omega 6 and omega 3.

Scientific research seems to indicate that vegans and vegetarians tend to have low levels of long chain omega 3 fatty acids, such as DHA (docosahexaenoic acid). Consequently the medical advice for vegans and vegetarians, when carrying a pregnancy or during breast feeding, is to then supplement these fatty acids. As various foods vary in their combinations of fatty acids, when we say a food is high in a specific omega, it does still contain a proportion of other lipids.

Vegan foods with significant omega 3 include linseeds, pumpkin seeds, leafy vegetables, sea weed or algae. As there are different types of omega 3 fatty acids; the type present in linseeds and leafy vegetables is composed of shorter chains than the types found in fish-based sources.

The human body can transform shorter omega 3 types into longer chains. Yet the human body needs to be healthy to do this transformation. Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are types of long omega 3 and often linked to being found in oily fish, fish oil or fish oil based supplement capsules (of cod liver, herring, mackerel, salmon, menhaden and sardine and various types of edible seaweed). EPA is also found in human breast milk. Omega 3 fatty acids have the capability to promote eicosanoids (hormone like substances) which are less pro-inflammatory and pro-clotting; they can play an important role in health care. When suffering from ailments such as arthritis or clotting such as strokes; it may be quite beneficial to increase the ratio of high omega 3 based foods while restricting intake of high omega 6 based foods.

Vegan sources high in omega 6 include various nuts and seeds. As with omega 3, there are different types of omega 6 fatty acids. Science has shown that omega 6 fatty acids promote production of more pro-inflammatory and pro-clotting eicosanoids. We do need these types of eicosanoids to a degree, and such eicosanoids are essential.

Omega 9 (monounsaturated) is also often found in supplements as it is mainly associated with improving overall wellbeing yet it is non-essential. 2 common vegan foods high in this omega are avocado pear and olive oil.

Having a balanced fat intake is pivotal for our health. Being a vegan offers us many healthy fat sources to feed upon.

Take care, Anastacia

Visit VeganSA for more on vegan health.

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Nutrition – Protein

Posted on 13 October 2013

… a regular nutrition series for vegans by Anastacia Sampson

It is common for a vegan to be asked, “How do you as a vegan get enough protein?” The question implies that only meat and dairy supply sufficient protein.

Protein-rich beans - photo courtesy of Getye1 at Stock.XchngProtein-containing foods vary in there ratio of amino acids that they contain, and it is the balance of the amino acid content that determines the protein quality. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein, linked together to form many substances.

Animal based foods

Generally, animal based foods are high in protein while also possessing high protein quality, specifically eggs, dairy foods, meats and fish (termed “complete proteins”). These complete proteins supply us with the essential amino acids in a balanced amount to meet our bodily needs. The egg is considered to have the best protein quality and have the highest protein score. But animal based proteins vary compared to plant based proteins in the ratio of amino acid balances they contain.

Plant based foods

Vegan protein sources: various vegetarian based foods are high in protein. These include millet, quinoa, lentils and beans. Yet these vegan rich protein foods need to be mixed with other vegan protein-containing foods to improve their overall protein quality, consequently they are not termed “complete proteins”. Also this mixing of protein may necessitate higher protein intakes, to supply us with what we need.

This process of feeding ourselves a mix of protein-containing foods to elevate the overall protein score we gain from a meal, has been termed ‘complementation’. It is quite simple and has been used for centuries. One common balanced vegan meal is 2 parts cereal grains (such as brown rice, corn, oats or wheat) and 1 part legume (such as lentils, peas or beans). The more varied a vegan diet is, the more supportive it is in supplying us with many varied nutrients. “Don’t put your eggs all in one basket!”. Well, I say don’t feed off only on a limited range of foods.

Protien issues

The benefit of being a vegan is we are less likely to consume an excess of protein. High protein diets have been linked to stressing our bodies. Generally, excessive of protein may be harmful, and it is easy to get an excess from animal based foods. Protein contains nitrogen and the excess nitrogen will place a burden on our liver and kidneys to metabolise and excrete it. These higher nitrogen levels may increase acidity levels. There has been research showing high protein diets being associated with increased calcium excretion in the urine. This leads to concern that this excess nitrogen may lead to bone deterioration, as calcium can be depleted and drawn out of bones to function as a buffer.

The following are some signs of protein deficiency. There will be weakened mental capabilities and kwashiorkor. Kwashiorkor has been well affiliated with lack of adequate protein. A prime symptom is the swelling of the belly (due to water retention) and possibly swelling of the legs. Other symptoms include apathy, diarrhoea, inadequate growth, flaky skin and fatty liver. For any vegans fearful of not having enough protein or for anyone considering a vegan diet, do know that the chances of you being deficient on a whole food diet are extremely rare. Plant foods contain an array of amino acids and all that is required is for us to make use of them in a varied diet. An assortment of nuts, seeds, grains, pulses, fruits and vegetables will be highly supportive.

Some foods that contain noteworthy protein that we might not even consider include almond nuts, peas, wild rice and various other cereal grains.

Specific individual foods stand out in supplying specific amino acids, while others stand out for being low in specific amino acids. The amino acid called threonine is low in grains. Consequently living on just grains is impractical and will most likely lead to protein deficiency. The following are some noteworthy sources of specific amino acids:

  • Carob, chocolate, coconut, oats, peanuts, soybeans, walnuts, white flour, wheat and wheat germ supply noteworthy levels of arginine.
  • Lima beans, potatoes, soy products and yeast supply noteworthy levels of lysine.
  • Beans, garlic, lentils, onions, soybeans, seeds supply considerate levels of methionine.
  • Brown rice, peanuts and soy protein supply noteworthy levels of tryptophan.

Is it worth knowing this? Perhaps not, but the point is you can’t go wrong consuming a varied whole food diet (unless allergies or some other condition prevents this) to supply your body with balanced protein nutrition on a vegan diet.

Take care, Anastacia

For more on vegan health, visit Vegan SA.

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Nutrition – the health benefits of coconut oil

Posted on 14 September 2013

… a regular series on natural health by FeelGood Health

Many of us have heard that saturated fats are not healthy, and while that is true for most fats (like butter), coconut oil is made up of 50% of medium chain fatty acids, thought to contain super health benefits! Cooking with coconut oil gives food a very faint coconut taste, doesn’t affect colour and best of all it’s particularly good for frying because it tolerates high temperatures without breaking down into trans fat (the really bad kind).

The benefits of coconut oil

Ginger - photo courtesy of FeelGood Health

1. Weight loss!
Women (and men) listen up! In recent years, many studies have been centered on coconut oil for their numerous health benefits. One study in particular found that coconut oil helps to reduce abdominal fat! A 2009 study found that women who ate about 2 tablespoons of coconut oil daily for 12 weeks had lowered amounts of abdominal fat (the fat that increases risk of heart disease).

In addition, coconut fats have medium chain triglycerides (MCTs) that break down unhealthy healthy fats in the liver for better burning of energy. Coconut oil is also good for assisting thyroid hormones and blood-sugar control, and of course if you boost thyroid function it helps increase metabolism, energy and endurance! Coconut oil increases digestion and helps to absorb fat-soluble vitamins, need we say more?

2. Immunity
Studies have shown that coconut oil can help our bodies mount resistance to both viruses and bacteria, fight off yeast, fungus and candida. Coconut oil should be added to the diet just for its ability to help the immune system!

3. Cholesterol
Coconut oil has lauric acid. It has been shown that lauric acid increases the good HDL cholesterol, thus improving cholesterol ratio levels. Coconut oil also lowers bad cholesterol by promoting its conversion to pregnenolone, a molecule that is vital to many of the hormones our bodies need. Thyroid hormones that are out of whack can contribute to bad cholesterol increase.

4. Ageing
Oils of the coconut have antioxidants that help our body stop the damage to other healthy fats and tissues. Oxidation is considered a major contributor to cardiovascular problems and skin ageing and coconut oil can reduce this process.

5. Skin and hair
The oil is a wonderful, lush moisturizer for skin and hair! It has antioxidant vitamin E, which is very protective. Remember to only use organic coconut oil as the skin absorbs toxins and pesticides – so make sure you use only the best quality.

6. Massage
New parents may even wish to massage infants with coconut oil after a bath as a 2005 study of 120 babies showed that a coconut oil massage has health benefits. Just be sure to check with your doctor as some children are allergic to nuts and their derivatives.

Heart health naturally
Coconut oil is heart healthy and can be added to meals (in moderation) to keep heart disease at bay. 2 tablespoons (daily total) added to meals is recommended. Try it in baked goods (banana bread or muffins) or pair with “bitter” veggies such as kale and green beans. It works perfectly in sauces (especially onion and garlic) as well as in oats for a creamier taste without the cream! Adding heart-healthy foods can lower cholesterol, reduce blood-pressure and improve all round heart health.

Which Coconut Oil is best?

There are 3 types of coconut oil:

  • Organic (grown using organic manure);
  • Virgin (extracted from fresh coconut without using chemicals or high temperatures);
  • Refined (made from dried coconut or “copra” that has been bleached and deodorised, so not as healthy as organic and virgin).

Some makes of coconut oil may be labelled “extra” virgin but there is no such thing. All these oils come in the form of solid white paste that looks like fat and if you store it at room temperature, it will last for years. If you do choose to store it in the fridge, keep in mind it may get too hard and will need to be melted. It is best melted over low heat (never in a microwave). Due to the low melting point as soon as it comes in contact with cool foods it will start to solidify again (for liquid applications such as salad dressings make sure they are warm dressings served over hot salads).

Note: If you don’t want the coconut flavour, you can buy “expeller pressed” coconut oil, with the scent and flavour of the coconut removed. This process however does lessen the nutritional value of the oil.

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Nutrition – the health benefits of ginger

Posted on 9 September 2013

… a regular series on natural health by FeelGood Health

Did you know that Ginger is one of the most tested and researched herbs in the medical community?

Ginger - photo courtesy of FeelGood Health

The facts about Ginger:

  • Ginger has been added to chai and Indian tea to help counteract some of the negative effects of caffeine.
  • The herb has been used in India for thousands of years to treat various ailments with great success!
  • The 3 main roles of Ginger are as a: digestive aid, anti-inflammatory, and immunity booster.
  • Ginger stimulates the digestive ‘fire’, letting the body release proper enzymes to break down food so nutrients can be absorbed.
  • The studies touting the benefits of the herb are so vast that many doctors recommend the use of ginger over prescription medications for nausea and digestive complaints.
  • It can help rid the body of excess gas (if your spouse tends to have frequent wind, introduce them to ginger!).
  • Ginger has compounds called gingerols that reduce pain and increase mobility associated with arthritis and osteoarthritis (without damaging the gut like most conventional pain killers).
  • It helps to cleanse the lymphatic system (which carries all toxins and waste out of the body) in this way it can help guard against infection… it is the “go to” herb when you have a sore throat and a cold; it is a must-have food during flu season!

Dr. OZ says: “During flu season or whenever I feel a cold coming on, I make ginger tea a couple of times a week to keep my immune system strong.”

Create your own healthy juice bar at home and add this to your morning routine through the winter months:

Serves: 1

What you’ll need:

  • 1 banana, cut into chunks
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 1/2 cup bottled carrot juice
  • 1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt
  • 2 cm piece of peeled fresh ginger, coarsely chopped

How it’s done: Puree all ingredients in a blender and enjoy!!

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Nutrition – salt in our diet

Posted on 8 September 2013

… a regular nutrition series for vegans by Anastacia Sampson

Salt is an ubiquitous part of our dietary intake as it is often incorporated into preserved foods, added as common table salt to our meal preparations or consumed via natural plant foods especially leafy vegetables. This article is a brief about salt in general in our diet as it is a topic that needs to be highlighted.

Salt - photo courtesy of Bruno Sersocima at Stock.XchngFor centuries salt has been used as a food preservative and the food industry has been utilizing salt for various reasons, such as curing meat, retaining moisture and masking undesirable flavours. Salt is also used in enhancing the flavour of other ingredients, such as making something taste sweeter! Since salt does improve the palatability of foods and can transform a bland food such as a mashed potato dish into something far yummier, there is reason to understand why the food industry has still come to rely on this cost effective additive.

Types of salt

Table salt is the main source of sodium for some people. However, even people who profess to not eat salt will be consuming significant amounts from processed foods. The processed food market has incorporated salt (in various forms) in ingredients and this increases our overall sodium intake.

Some common food additives are monosodium glutamate (MSG), sodium nitrite, sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and sodium caseinate. Usually foods which are high in sodium taste salty such as pickles, potato chips, prepared popcorn packs, savoury biscuits, packaged soups, salted peanuts, Marmite spread, pretzels, tinned foods or soy sauce. Other foods such as breakfast cereals, vegetarian soya based meat alternatives and pastries may contain sodium yet not taste that salty. Note, many people commonly consume bread and cheese and these are 2 foods that are significant sources of sodium for the population.

Basic salt is sodium chloride, with about 40% sodium and 60% chloride. However, there are various varieties of salt on the market, such as health salts which may contain potassium chloride. The actual term ‘salt’ can refer to many combinations of a metal/mineral with a base, such as potassium chloride (potassium being the metal and chloride being the base).

Health shops often sell Himalayan salt, which is often sold as crystals that appear light pink, white, light orange to dark pink. The pink colour is due to the presence of iron oxide being present. Himalayan salt may be 98% sodium chloride or below 95% and the remainder of the salt being 2% or over 5% is of other minerals/metals. Himalayan salt has been associated with various uses as a remedy to support wellbeing.

There are many types of salt products that have been formulated for consumers, such as garlic salt (salt with garlic extracts) and herbal salts (salt with herbal extracts). Some salts are fortified with iron as well. Sometimes additives are added to table salts.

History of salt

Tracing our roots back to the times of when we were hunter gatherers, it becomes evident that our kidneys have evolved from a relatively low-moderate sodium intake, to a moderate-high potassium dietary intake. Our kidneys naturally conserve sodium more than they do potassium. However, processed foods have generally been formulated with almost negligible potassium content and high sodium content. The link between high blood pressure and salt is not due to just high sodium intake, rather it is linked to a low potassium intake and high sodium intake.

The baking industry does often incorporate salt, yet bakery products may be far healthier if made with potassium bicarbonate instead of sodium bicarbonate. These are both forms of salt, yet the potassium form may be far more advantageous to our health.

The need for salt

Our body needs salt! Salt is part of our blood and many body fluids. After any bout of excessive sweating (sweat is made of water and body salts) and diarrhoea (the digestive juices are high in minerals or body salts), we can become ill due to deficiency of not only water but also salts/minerals. This is why energy drinks for athletes often have sugar and salts added. Note, we can lose much body salt through body fluid excretions.

In our blood we are meant to have more sodium relative to potassium to maintain a healthy balance. In our cells we are meant to have more potassium relative to sodium to support healthy optimal cellular function. In cases of water retention (oedema), there may be significant sodium retention. When there is too much salt/sodium in our cells it draws in more water/liquid through osmosis. Our cells become bloated and swell.

Cases of high blood pressure and water retention require a dietary lifestyle that restricts sodium and increases potassium intakes. This usually requires restriction on consumption of table salt and many processed foods. At the end of the day it is all about balance.

Take care, Anastacia

Visit Vegan SA for more information on healthy vegan lifestyles.

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Nutrition – unwanted side effects of health foods

Posted on 14 August 2013

… a regular nutrition series for vegans by Anastacia Sampson

Vegan foods are generally laudable. We depend on our foods to not only maintain our health, yet also to support our body’s natural healing capabilities.

Fresh garlic - photo courtesy of SP Veres at Stock.XchngThere are some exceptional vegan foods that have received much publicity. The following are some special nutrient rich foods that also deserve to be consumed in moderation with knowledge to avoid unwanted effects.

Brazil nuts

There has been much publicity that just one Brazil nut a day is able to deliver our daily selenium requirements. This is important to know and what is more important is to know that excess selenium can be harmful to health.

Eating several Brazil nuts daily over a long period, may cause selenosis. Selenosis is a state of excess selenium, presenting signs of hair and nail loss or brittleness, lesions of the skin, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, skin rashes, teeth problems, irritability, fatigue and abnormal function of the nervous system. These are the general most common clinical symptoms. Brazil nuts are also among the most calorie dense nuts due to their high fat content.

Some truly healthy nutritious raw foods have been identified as lightly goitrogenic. This means they contain a minor amount of goitrogens.

Goitrogens

Goitrogens are substances which may inhibit the production of thyroid hormones from the thyroid gland, by interfering with iodine uptake. This may not be as significant for us except in cases when we over consume these foods or when we are already experiencing thyroid related imbalances. Science has shown that cooking can partly deactivate the goitrogens, this applies to those foods listed except to soy and millet.

The following are some foods with such substances: Pine nuts, Peanuts, Millet, Strawberries, Pears, Peaches, Spinach, Bamboo shoots, Sweet potatoes, Bok choy, Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, Cabbage, Canola, Cauliflower, Chinese cabbage, Collard greens, Horseradish, Kale, Mustard greens, Radishes, Rapeseed, Turnips.

Garlic

Garlic is a powerful antioxidant with antibacterial properties; this is great for when we might want a natural antibiotic. When someone has candidiasis (thrush, particularly along the digestive tract), eating garlic will begin to ‘kill’ the thrush (overgrowth of fungus) and create symptoms of what has been termed as ‘die off’. As the thrush is being eradicated we may feel quite unwell. Nausea, headaches and some other symptoms may develop. In some cases when people state they can’t stand or tolerate garlic; they may have a case of imbalanced bowel flora.

Carrots

For aesthetic reasons, you may be cautious in not over consuming carrots, butternut and pumpkin (all superb beta-carotene) foods. These foods will not cause any adverse ill health. However the beta-carotene in excessively high intakes may cause discolouration of your skin tone, especially on the face, hands and feet.

There are also some processed foods that are vegan friendly and worth careful consideration:

Olestra

Olean, the brand name of Olestra, can be found in processed vegan foods such as low or no fat potato chips. This substance inhibits absorption of fatty lipids; this is especially harmful in reducing our intakes of healthy fats, let alone essential fat-soluble vitamins of vitamin A, D and E.

Some manufacturers claim to fortify their Olestra containing foods with these vitamins to counter the effect. As there has been much dispute about the weight loss claims of Olestra; it may be to your benefit to avoid foods containing them.

It is not only worth checking that something is vegan friendly; also that it is friendly to your health.

Take care, Anastacia

Visit Vegan SA for more information on a healthy vegan diet.

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Nutrition – high calorie vegan foods

Posted on 9 July 2013

… a regular nutrition series for vegans by Anastacia Sampson

Often when someone becomes vegan they tend to shed a noticeable amount of weight. However, it is possible to actually put on weight with a vegan diet. As we know nuts and some seeds can be generally loaded with healthy fats.

Fruit smoothies - photo courtesy of Richard Dudley at Stock.XchngThrough the years, the health industry has promoted some vegan friendly products that are quite high in calories. This may not usually be a concern, yet for someone who is struggling with a stubborn metabolism the intake of excess calories will be a factor to regulate.

For the body to digest and ‘burn’ food, there is the need to utilize some cellular energy. It takes more cellular energy to digest a high protein meal than it does to digest a high fat or carbohydrate based meal. However in healthy people, the transit time through the digestive tract of a fatty based meal is longer than that of a protein based meal or carbohydrate based meal.

Being vegan does supply us with well-balanced whole foods if we chose to eat them. Consequently being over-weight is rarely a problem for a generally active, healthy, vegan individual. It is in our control how much we consume of mainly fatty based nuts and some seeds, or avocado pear or oils. It is also in our control how much we have of processed or manufactured foods.

Fruit juices

Fruit juices are often loaded in sugar. If not actual added sugar, it will be a variety of preservatives that have been incorporated into the juice. There is suspicion that some artificial sweeteners can inhibit the brain cells that signal we are full or that these synthetic sweeteners increase appetite. As fruit juices are generally a major part of our diet, it is worth recognizing that fruit fibre is often excluded in fruit juices. The juicing of fruits often involves leaving extracts of fibre (which are rarely added back into the juice). Fibre has a major role to play in healthy colon function and may have effects in protecting us against cancer development and high cholesterol levels.

Vegan friendly smoothies

These are often sweetened with honey. Honey is a significant source of calories. Smoothies may contain other high calorie ingredients, depending on the way they are prepared.

Cereal bars

More consumers are tending to opt for the cereal bar instead of the chocolate bar. The reasoning for choosing the cereal bar is that it is healthier. However, a cereal bar may be high in calories due to the added cane sugar or corn syrup.

Salad dressings

Often weight conscious individuals opt for salads with a tasty salad dressing drizzled over it. However, the salad dressing will be adding a significant amount of calories through their oil or sugar content. The best way to bypass these high calorie containing salad dressings is to read the label before using or purchasing it. Also at restaurants or when eating somewhere besides your own home, rather pass on the salad dressing unless it’s of a known low calorie type … or rather request vinegar or lemon juice.

Granola

A health based breakfast cereal with nuts, seeds, sugar and dried fruits is a high calorie meal. Sometimes the added preservatives are sugar or oils.

Peanut butter

When peanuts have been grounded to prepare a spread it is quite simple to overindulge in this food. Peanut butter is high in fats and often has oils or sugar added.

Tahini

This is grounded sesame seeds that are significantly high in fat and consequently calories.

Health breads

Due to the healthy ingredients of nuts or seeds with wholesome grain flours these bakery products will be a high source of calories.

Vegetable chips/crisps

These are quite yummy, but read the label to find out how a serving of this food can be high in calories. Most veggie processed chips are made mainly from cornflour or potato.

Some of these foods do sometimes add significant nutritional benefit.

  • Peanut butter is a great source of magnesium, vitamin E and protein
  • Tahini is a great source of calcium and protein
  • Health breads and granola are great sources of various minerals and vitamins, as well as fibre.

But be aware of what you consume and do eat with caution.

Take care, Anastacia

Visit Vegan SA for more information on a vegan-based diet.

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Nutrition – hot n moist, cold n dry

Posted on 22 May 2013

… a regular nutrition series for vegans by Anastacia Sampson

A continuation of my previous article on traditional Western medicine…

Hot and moist foods

Cherry tomatoes - cold and dry - photo courtesy of Liz West at Stock.XchngLecithin
Green tea
Hot water
Macaroni
Wheat
Peanut butter
Castor oil
Sunflower oil
Sunflower seeds
Olive oil

In some cases of arthritis there may be an actual need to increase more hot and moist foods into the diet. The art of aromatherapy could be applied and then an oil such as peppermint can be selected for its hot and moist properties.

Allergies are generally considered to be hot and moist conditions, indicating excessive heat and moisture. In these cases, a diet high in beans and lentils among a well-balanced healthy food intake would bringe the body’s health back into balance. There may be some foods on the cold and dry list that are actual allergens for the specific allergic person, which means that the allergen food is to be avoided, this may often be the situation for corn (although considered suitable as it is classified as cold and dry).

Cold and dry foods

Barley
Corn
Lentils
Beans
Peas
Balsamic vinegar
Ceylon tea
Coffee
Tomatoes

In cases of arthritis and gout, there are aching joints and a lack of sufficient healthy synovial fluid (the thin layer of fluid that lies between the ends of bones in the joints to provide sufficient lubrication and ease of movement). Often people with these problems complain that tomatoes aggravate their aches and commonly blame it on the acidity content of the fruit. This is largely true.

Yet when we begin to use this old system of medicine we notice that arthritis and other aches in the joints are often seen in the elderly, in cases where there is excessive coldness and dryness.  Note not all arthritis conditions are the same.

Tomatoes will promote coldness and dryness and thereby aggravate the ill state of health. The elderly often lack much plump skin, their skin sags and this is a result of loss of moisture beneath the skin.

People who drink coffee, literally are drying themselves out as it is cold and has a drying in effect. Coffee supports giving us an “adrenaline rush” yet also has favouritism among people aiming to shed weight. It is highly recommended that one drinks a glass of water after each cup of coffee.

Science has shown how coffee promotes potassium loss through being a diuretic. This is science showing us that coffee can cause weight loss through being a diuretic and tends to dry us out by being a diuretic. Then of course there is the caffeine in coffee that affects our nervous system, which deserves to be a topic all on its own…

Back to Hippocrates

In the era of Hippocrates, people were often classified into 4 basic temperaments. This enabled the physician to comprehend the underlining imbalance. Psychology has, and common English terminology still uses, the categories from those times. They were:

  • Sanguine – hot and moist – a general optimist and sociable personality
  • Melancholic – dry and cold – a worrier, and analytical type of person
  • Bilious – hot and dry – an active and assertive person with a need to be physically active
  • Phlegmatic – cold and moist – an introvert and more submissive type of personality

A bilious type would be angry at being kept indoors all day and would not be the type to enjoy wet rainy days spent at home reading; whereas that might be the perfect day for a phlegmatic. Indeed a phlegmatic person would benefit from incorporating some spices into their diet, whereas a bilious type might actually benefit from avoiding mustards and other hot foods.

Note these are broad generalisations to express the essential connotations and notions of this system of thought. One or two of these traits may dominate in us, once we are aware of our traits we can begin to adjust our lifestyle to create a more harmonious state of well-being.

Note this article is not intended to treat or attempt to treat any illness. It is provided for educational literature. This literature is written to inspire and promote well-being.

Take care, Anastacia

Visit Vegan SA for more information on healthy vegan diets .

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Nutrition – hot n dry, cold n moist

Posted on 16 April 2013

… a regular nutrition series for vegans by Anastacia Sampson

[Note: this article is not intended to treat or attempt to treat any illness. It is provided for educational literature. This literature is written to inspire and promote well-being.]

Modern medicine recognises Hippocrates to be the founding father. Hippocrates lived in a time of traditional western medicine.
South Indian food - hot and spicy - photo courtesy of Varmamukul at Stock.XchngThat era of medicine classified foods into 4 basic groups – Hot and dry, Hot and moist, Cold and moist, Cold and dry. Diseases and illness (physical or mental) were thought to be imbalances. To treat these imbalances the diet was changed, plants recommended with lifestyle changes. As we know at any time of illness, rest is key!

This article will list some common foods in 2 of these basic groups and then explain how these foods affect us in our daily lives. Yet things are not as they were all those hundreds of years ago in the era of Hippocrates. Today foods are often eaten in processed form to some degree, fruits (mainly eaten fresh) are usually farmed with chemicals (non-organic) and pollution has significantly increased.

The biggest cause of flu and colds is stress. Stress decreases our immune defence and we are more susceptible to passing viruses and bacteria. Resistance to these bugs is generally affected by our environment, current states of health and diets. Many scientific studies validate how fruits, vegetables and other whole foods support our immune system through their powerful phytonutrients. We are encouraged to believe in the power of our diet.

Not many people can literally afford to be ill, to take time off from work and our daily chores. We have arrived at the era of symptomatic treatment. Even though medical science has enabled doctors to have more geared up tests, machines and instruments to discover the cause, we still commonly resort to symptomatic treatment. At times it is essential it is lifesaving, yet at other times symptomatic treatment provides short term relief at the expense of long term well-being. There is a pill or tablet for almost any ache or pain, yet often the exact prescribed pill or tablet has side effects and does not address the cause of our ailment.

In this time of medicine we seem to have largely forgotten the simplicity of how foods and herbs can affect our general state of well-being (have power to affect and change our health). As many people are so absorbed in the era of symptomatic tablets we bypass the huge impact of our foods and herbs that act more slowly but more in harmony with natural health.

Hot and dry foods

Garlic
Onions
Peppers, includes green, yellow and red bell peppers
Mustard
Hazelnuts
Cashews
Grapes
Chickpeas
Aniseed
Nutmeg
Parsley
Alcohol

For anyone with a proneness to fevers, redness of the face and any condition with a rise in body temperature – do try to avoid peppers, spices and any foods that tend to have a heating/warming effect.
We all know that alcoholics (people that habitually binge drink and drink to excess) tend to have a redness of the face. There are a variety of physiological reasons why but simply we know that alcohol has that heating and drying effect. This is why it is highly recommended to drink a glass of water or other non-alcoholic cool beverage between each serving of an alcohol-containing drink.

Cold and moist foods

Soya and rice milk
Fructose and glucose which ensures that generally most fruits are cold or moist to a degree
Sugar cane
Brown, white and basmati rice
Pumpkin and butternut

For mucous conditions, such as bronchitis, asthma, flus and colds with wheezy coughs and ‘runny nose’, sinusitis and any upper respiratory condition with excess mucous production – do try avoid dairy and any other food that promotes a moist effect. Damp conditions in weather also tend to promote more wheezy mucous like conditions.

Many people with excess mucous in the lungs, as in bronchial asthma may benefit from living along the coast. The saline sea air aids in drying up the unnecessary phlegm in the chest. Salted spray has subsequently been marketed as ‘saline spray’ to assist in sinus difficulties.

Take care,
Anastacia

Visit Vegan SA for more information on vegan health .

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Nutrition – what is the modern vegan diet?

Posted on 14 March 2013

… a regular nutrition series for vegans by Anastacia Sampson

It is a misconception to presume that all vegans follow healthy dietary habits. With a diverse and wide range of vegan foods on the market, it reflects the trend for pursuing a vegan lifestyle.

Vegan health - photo courtesy of Cheryl Empey at Stock.XchngThere are a wide variety of vegan friendly foods marketed for the consumer. All these vegan processed foods are manufactured with the focus on taste appeal and attractive presentation, i.e. sales!

The vegan lifestyle will not necessarily be a healthy one. As with all things in life, once we begin to process foods we tend to alter the food to various degrees. It is all dependent on the method of processing the original plant food and how and what we add to it.

A grainy example

We know that rice is healthy – it is high in complex carbohydrates and has a significant amount of vitamins and minerals. Rice is especially noteworthy for containing high fiber and magnesium levels. As it belongs to the cereal grains, it is naturally low in sodium and calcium. What have we done with rice? We refine it to produce white rice, which does ensure it is more easily digestible. For people with weak digestion, white rice is useful. However white rice, having had its outer nutritious bran and germ layers/sections removed, is much lower in nutrients than brown rice.

Brown rice is unrefined rice with its germ section (containing vitamin E, some other essential fatty acids and nutrients), the bran layer (high in fiber, some protein and other nutrients) and the main bulk middle compartment, called the endosperm (high in carbohydrates), intact. All those nutrients in the bran and germ layer support metabolism and balanced blood sugar regulation. White rice is higher in calories and low in nutrients and fiber compared to brown rice. This is a result of white rice mainly consisting of the endosperm section of the grain.

We can easily buy packaged brown rice that is flavoured. It still gets a vegan friendly tick but is it healthy? Most of these packaged flavoured rices are high in salt, contain additives and some other natural ingredients added such as herbs and spices. The other additives may be artificial and further compromise our health.

Flavoured bottled water too often contains artificial sweeteners, such as aspartame. Yet the media has shown that some studies do link aspartame to being potentially carcinogenic. We truly do not know what all the effects of the many artificial / man-made additives have on our cells and our bodies.

Is brown rice so pure though? No, it has phytic acid and this can bind with minerals and form insoluble substances, thereby reducing our full access to the minerals in the rice. Try not to read labels at face value; analyze and use your common sense when noting that a portion / serving of rice has so much magnesium, you are not guaranteed to that full numerical value. Your state of emotions at meal times and during digestion, your state of digestive function, and your overall health, will all influence how you digest your food.

High fiber foods (processed foods are rarely high in fiber) provide bulk without excess calories; this supports a healthy BMI (Body Mass Index which is an index for a person’s ideal weight comparative to the person’s height). High fiber diets assist in protecting us against cardiovascular disease and colon cancer.

So soy

Soya beans have such a controversial public image that it is like walking on egg shells trying to talk to some people about them. It is especially soya beans’ natural phytoestrogen content that either has firm friends or foes. Phytoestrogens have a subtle effect in enhancing or balancing the female hormones and in providing antioxidant effects.

They are a vegan food and it provides a great milk alternative as soya milk. Soya milk is usually fortified with calcium and has valuable protein levels. It is processed and how it is processed does affect whether it will be healthy vegan milk or not at all. Adding sugars and additives does bring down its rating as a healthy milk alternative. Are the soya beans non GMO (genetically modified)? … and knowing if only nature identical and natural additives have been added will influence its quality.

Some meaty thoughts

Then there are the meat substitutes for vegans, and they can be extremely tasty yet what are they usually derived from? Mostly soya beans … The beans are processed into texturized soya protein. They become concentrated sources of protein with a reduction of nutrients. The use of monosodium glutamate (MSG) may be added to impart a meaty flavor. MSG has been linked to ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), causing a sense of illness and allergies. MSG is made by a combination of salt and a type of amino acid; it is man-made and could be termed as an artificial additive.

Whether vegan meat is MSG free or not, it tends to be high in salt. The starting material of processed vegan foods is generally higher in nutrients than the finished products; unless we fortify it with added nutrients. Then there is the issue of the altered chemical structure during processing.

Is it right to make an ado about avoiding vegan processed foods? No, but it is worth your time to consider that processed vegan food is a great deal similar to ordinary processed foods (except the starting material differs). Should we shun it completely? No, it is fine in moderation. We need salt, but we need it in balanced amounts relative to potassium (found in high levels in fresh fruits, vegetables and other plant based foods).

Ever heard this adage: “Too much of a good thing is a bad thing”? Well that applies to natural foods too. Do not over-eat fruits and vegetables as that can actually also cause an imbalance in your body.

In conclusion, a healthy vegan diet ideally should consist mainly of whole natural foods, high in vegetables, fresh fruits, cereal grains, pulses, sprouts, herbs, spices, nuts and seeds.

In health and happiness,
Anastacia

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Nutrition – Breakfast cereals that break the crunch

Posted on 4 February 2013

… a regular nutrition series for vegans by Anastacia Sampson

The range of breakfast cereals on the market is vast. All compete on flavor, texture and attractive appeal.
It is worth our time analyzing the labels to make informed choices in what we feed ourselves. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day as it is what fuels us for the day ahead and what breaks our fast since our last meal (which may be at least several hours before).

Breakfast cereals - photo courtesy of Jan Willem Geertsma at Stock.XchngA comparison between Weet-bix, Jungle Oatso Easy Original, Oates and Pronutro (wheat free Pronutro) reveals the following nutritional differences:

Pronutro is just slightly higher in calories than Jungle Oatso Easy. Then comes Oates and lowest in calories is Weet-Bix. For anyone trying to manage a lower calories intake, the Weet-Bix is the prime choice.
Highest in protein is Pronutro, then Oatso Easy, closely followed by Weet-Bix. Then lowest in protein is Oates. For athletes, Pronutro cereal is fabulous as it fuels energy and supplies many essential nutrients. Pronutro also benefits the elderly, anyone recovering from illness and during times of growth (children, adolescents, periods of pregnancy and breast feeding). Pronutro is easy to digest and requires minimal chewing while being easy for anyone with teeth problems (which does tend to be an issue as we reach older years).

Highest in fiber (which brings down cholesterol) is Weet-Bix, closely followed by Pronutro. After that it is Oatso Easy and lowest in fiber is Oates. For anyone with high cholesterol levels, piles, the need to lose weight and poor colon function, higher fiber intake is generally desired. However there are studies that show the fiber in oats is also especially effective in reducing cholesterol and this indicates that the Weet-Bix and Oatso Easy may be prime choices for cases of high cholesterol.

Additionally, all the above mentioned cereals are nutrient fortified. The lowest in sodium (this is beneficial for people with high blood pressure) is Weet-Bix, closely followed by Oatso Easy. Then follows Pronutro, which is still relatively low in sodium. Highest in sodium is Oates. Sometimes the more processed a food, the higher it may be in sodium.

Weet-Bix is the most natural and least altered with additives. From reading the ingredients list it seems then it is Pronutro and Oatso Easy. These 3 are the best overall and for optimum nutritional intakes opt for Pronutro; as Pronutro is the most nutrient fortified out of these 4 mentioned cereals.

Lowest in sugars are Oatso Easy and Weet-Bix. Then it is Pronutro. This is especially beneficial for anyone with blood sugar irregularities. Anyone with blood sugar irregularities may benefit more from Oatso Easy and Weet-Bix. Highest in sugars is Oates.

Overall Weet-Bix and Oatso Easy may look dull and old fashioned, yet they are overall healthier than some of the more attractively packaged, sweeter tasting breakfast cereals. Advertising is a major factor in consuming processed foods. For optimum health, our breakfast meal should be composed of as much balanced whole natural based foods as possible. Fortification with nutrients is a benefit to our health yet the addition of too many additives and the alteration of the starting basic food can change the effect of foods on our health.

Consequently there are some healthy breakfast cereals being produced on the market and they are worth our consumption. However there are many breakfast cereals that are nutrient fortified yet generally are high in sugars and additives for taste appeal and attractive appearance. These are great for times when we need a high energy sugar intake, such as before an athletic/physical exercise/activity. Long term they drain us as they do not supply balanced, healthy fats and protein.

Take care
Anastacia

Visit Vegan SA for more nutrition for vegans information.

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Nutrition – it’s in the can

Posted on 24 December 2012

… a regular nutrition series for vegans by Anastacia Sampson

Tinned

Tinned food has come a long way. As food technology advances, tinned foods still have a major space in supermarket food stores. As the holiday season is present and many people want to save on cooking or preparation time, tinned foods often sells more.

Tin can - photo courtesy of Michael Lorenzo at Stock.XchngThe great aspect of tinned beans is that they are pre-cooked and ready for consumption. Often the surrounding syrup in a can of beans is high in salt and sugar. To reduce this many people rinse the beans with cool water. Yet as with all tinned foods, most of the nutrients (the water soluble nutrients) tend to be disolved in the syrup. So with a loss of syrup is a loss of minerals, vitamin C and B vitamins.

The preparation of whole natural foods to be suitable for being placed in tins involves several processes. Often peeling, removal of seeds and cutting of the vegetables and fruits into smaller sizes are just some of these processes. Generally the processing involve loss of some nutrients, addition of preservatives and a change in taste.

Originally canned foods were placed in tin cans (made literally of tin) and with technology the cans have been upgraded to other metals. Now many modern cans are formulated from aluminum.

There are advantages and disadvantages with canning foods. Tinned foods provide us with foods for long periods of storage. Foods in tins are convenient and still contribute to our nutrient intake yet are not as comparably beneficial as the fresh counterpart.

The preservatives added to tinned foods are also worth our concern. Naturlite labeled tinned fruit produces tinned fruit pieces preserved in fruit juice without any added cane sugar. This is fantastic!

Tinned tomatoes are often preserved with sugar and/or salt. One of the most natural ways is to preserve them is with citric acid. Yet tomatoes or any food containing high amounts of acid, such as citric acid, will cause leaching of the inner aluminum into the food. This can cause a subtle metal toxic poisoning that may lead to symptoms depending on the intake dosage. A general sense of depleted vitality with sluggish cellular function will lead to some form of disease.

Key things to check on tinned foods:
• Expiry date;
• The tin is not dented;
• The tinned food uses natural preservatives, nature-identical preservatives and minimal or no artificial preservatives;
• The amount of added salt can significantly disrupt the natural potassium/sodium balance in foods and therefore disrupt our balanced mineral intake that further disrupts our metabolic balance;
• The level of added sugar;
• High acid containing foods in aluminum cans;
• Read the nutritional label and try to avoid anything with over 700 mg of sodium per serving portion;
• Read labels for low GI (glycemic index)

Remember it is your body that you are feeding, and the people you care for, when you prepare foods for yourself and others. It is a responsibility for us to be functioning at our best, and we may only do this when we eat healthy, live healthy and think healthy.

Take care, Anastacia

Visit Vegan SA for more healthy vegan information.

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Nutrition – high green & iron mashed potato

Posted on 24 October 2012

… a regular nutrition series for vegans by Anastacia Sampson

Mash facts

Mash potato is ubiquitous and for a vegan would often be avoided when eating out, as most cooks tend to add dairy produce such as butter and milk. My reason for avoiding mash potato is that it is often a source of extra sodium/salt or dairy fat.

Potatoes - photo courtesy of Christa Richert at Stock.XchngMash can be prepared from cauliflower too, which can be cooked and smashed into a substitute mash. However when we want a high energy meal and something more dense, smash potato is an ally.

In South Africa potatoes, spinach and onions are almost always in stock in shops and are relatively reasonably priced. I tend to pull away from spinach as I find the taste to be uncompromising for my taste buds. Yet as spinach is high in fiber and iron – 2 things we all may need more of to be healthy vegans – I had to try incorporating it into my meals.

The reputation of spinach supporting strength lies in its unique nutritional composition. Spinach also supplies some useful amino acids to build up protein structures.

I decided mixing spinach with soup did not quite do it, to conceal the taste; perhaps a strong onion and mash potato would do it. The onion adds hardly any calories and the same applies to spinach! This is generally a low calorie mash potato dish as there is not any significant addition of calorie loaded ingredients.
Onions not only add a pungent zest, they also provide fantastic antioxidants, such as quercetine, that are shown to ward off the development of cardiovascular disease.

By not adding salt, this is an ideal recipe for anyone with an eye on keeping their heart and overall blood pressure healthy. The natural sodium in potato, onion and spinach, is ideally balanced with their potassium content, which aids healthy blood pressure.

The iron in the spinach supports our red blood cells’ ability to carry or transport oxygen, and this further supports physical activity. We need healthy red blood cells that can supply oxygen to adequately perform physical exertion. If we do not have that we develop symptoms of anemia. Anemia is a state of fatigue after walking fast, or during any physical exertion when we become tired and out of breath quickly. A paleness is evident and a sense of mental and physical fatigue or weakness.

A nutritious recipe for mashed potato

The following is a recipe for an energy and iron boosting mash potato; for one person. Increase ingredients as required for more people, who may be prepared to consume a high green iron mash potato:

Cut 3 small or 2 medium sized unpeeled potatoes into chunks and dunk into boiling water. Adding vitamin C to boiling water is reputed to conserve the vitamin C more efficiently. Let simmer until the potato is soft. Then add finely chopped onion rings of about a handful (or less if you want a more mundane final taste). Turn up the heat to let it simmer for about a few minutes. Then let it cool.

Add finely chopped or shredded pieces of 2 or 3 spinach leaves. The mixture should have little water left in with the potatoes. If there is significant water then the final mixture will be runny and more of a soup than mash potato. Then mix all in a blender.

Add a pinch of salt for a more salty taste (for anyone with blood pressure concerns rather do avoid the added salt). Do rather add herbs of sweet basil or parsley or even a little grounded black pepper to the final mixture, for additional flavor. Depending on how much onions were added, the onions alone should provide adequate taste.

Serve hot (warm it up) or cold. This can be eaten as a high energy meal as the potatoes will be supplying ample carbohydrates. It will contain negligible fat. This is a great meal for anyone seeking to obtain more iron in their diet, support cardiovascular health and to boost energy.

In your health and do email me anytime on relevant nutritional matters.

Take care, Anastacia

Visit Vegan SA for more vegan nutritional information.

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