Nutrition

The Benefits of Fermented Foods: Q & A with Michelle Schoffro Cook

Purple Sauerkraut

In many (if not most) Western diets, fermented foods aren’t very prevalent, and that’s something that should change! Pickling, fermenting, and culturing add beneficial enzymes to foods, and enhance flavors and nutritional. To familiarize yourself with the world of fermented food, here’s a Q & A with Michelle Schoffro Cook, author of The Cultured Cook: Delicious Fermented Foods with Probiotics to Knock Out Inflammation, Boost Gut Health, Lose Weight & Extend Your Life. You’ll learn about the benefits of fermented foods, and be inspired to make them in your own kitchen with the expert guidance in her new book.

What got you into experimenting with fermented foods?
I’m an avid cook and recipe developer with a huge passion for delicious, healthy foods. I first started experimenting with fermented foods when I was 19 and exploring various cultures’ traditional recipes that could give my health a boost. more→

5 Best Vegetables for Acid Reflux and Heartburn — and a Smoothie

Spinach, pineapple, and sprouts smoothie

It is a well-known fact that diet plays a decisive role in the annoying symptom known as heartburn or acid reflux – often as a trigger, or root cause. Changing your diet can help resolve heartburn symptoms for the long run. Some foods have substantial alkaline effects to alleviate acid reflux quickly and effectively. Here, we’ll discuss the 5 best vegetables for acid reflux and heartburn — remedies you’ll find in any produce section or farm market.

Latest studies are now showing us, that certain unexpected vegetables are in fact great home remedies for acid reflux symptoms. The same studies are also showing that other groceries have so far been overrated as heartburn remedies. At the end of the article we additionally present you an easy and tasty anti-heartburn smoothie recipe, combining the power of all these ingredients. more→

34 Best Plant-Based High-Fiber Foods

Pantry staples -grains, beans, pasta

Many people on the refined starch-and-protein filled western diet don’t get enough dietary fiber, and that can have some serious health consequences. Vegan diets, rich in vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and legumes are much more likely to easily yield the amount and kind of fiber your body needs to maintain good digestive health. To help you visualize this see the handy chart below depicting the 34 best plant-based high-fiber foods.  more→

Nutritarian Diet: 6 Basic Guidelines for the Nutritarian Diet

Nutritarian Diet

Excerpted from The End of Dieting: How to Live for Life* by Joel Fuhrman, MD. © 2014 HarperOne, reprinted by permission. Everybody can do this, and here’s the plan. But remember: These are just general guidelines; you don’t have to follow them precisely. For example, you can go above or below the general serving recommendations depending on your height and degree of physical activity or exercise. A world-class athlete may need triple the calories of a sedentary office worker. To call yourself a nutritarian, follow these six basic guidelines:

1. Eat a large salad every day as your main dish.

Spinach, chickpea, and artichoke saladThis salad should include lettuce, tomatoes, shredded onion, and at least one shredded raw cruciferous vegetable, such as chopped kale, red cabbage, nappa cabbage, arugula, watercress, or baby bok choy.

Use a variety of greens, including romaine, mixed greens, mesclun mix, arugula, baby spinach, Boston lettuce, and watercress. For added veggies, choose from red and green bell peppers, cucumbers, carrots, bean sprouts, shredded red or green cabbage, chopped white and red onions, lightly sautéed mushrooms, lightly steamed and sliced zucchini, raw and lightly steamed beets and carrots, snow peas, broccoli, cauliflower, and radishes. I often add some frozen peas and beans to my salads too.

Add a healthy dressing (one that is nut and seed based). I usually make a huge salad, share it with family members, and have enough left over for later in the day or the next day. Remember, for superior health, the green salad is the main dish, not the side dish.

 

2. Eat at least a half cup, but preferably closer to 1 cup, of beans a day.

Quick black bean and sweet potato chili recipeThis means eating a bean burger, a bean loaf, or a veggie-bean soup or putting beans on your salad or in a stew or chili in the evening. In our household, we almost always make a giant pot of veggie bean soup once a week. After eating the soup that day, I portion it into eight containers and refrigerate or freeze it so I can take it to work with me or use it when I need it. Quick tip: Use some of the soup you made as a unique salad dressing base by adding some flavored vinegar and nuts. Blend in a high-powered blender until smooth.

3. Eat one large (double-size) serving of lightly steamed green vegetables a day.

Simple Garlicky Greens

This means a bowl of asparagus, chopped kale with a delicious mushroom/onion sauce, green beans, steamed zucchini, bok choy, artichokes, cabbage, or collard greens. Don’t overcook greens; thirteen minutes of steaming is plenty. The longer you cook them, the more micronutrients you burn off, which wastes the effects of phytochemicals. Green vegetables need to be fully chewed (to the consistency of nearly liquid in your mouth) for you to fully benefit from their anticancer phytonutrients.

4. Eat at least 1 ounce of nuts and seeds per day if you’re female and at least 1.5 ounces of nuts and seeds per day if you’re male.

Oatmeal with nuts and dried fruitsRemember, don’t use nuts and seeds as snacks. They are the healthiest way to take in fat with meals and demonstrate a powerful effect on extending the human lifespan. The fat from nuts and seeds, when eaten with vegetables, increases the phytochemical absorption from those veggies. That’s why I typically recommend that nuts and seeds be part of your salad dressing, too. Also, at least half of this intake should be from walnuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, and sesame seeds because they have unique protective properties, such as lignans and omega-3 fatty acids.

Eating 3 to 4 ounces of nuts and seeds a day isn’t too much if you’re active and slim. There’s no problem with eating even more than 4 ounces of nuts and seeds per day if you’re an avid exerciser or athlete who needs the calories. I have worked with professional football players and Olympic skiers who follow this diet style; obviously, they need lots more seeds and nuts, and other food too.

Eat nuts and seeds raw, or just lightly toasted, because the roasting process alters their beneficial fats. Commercially packaged nuts and seeds are also frequently cooked in oil and are heavily salted. If you want to add some flavor, lightly toast seeds and nuts in a toaster oven on one low toasting cycle. This doesn’t deplete their beneficial properties. Don’t toast to the point of dark browning, however, as this can cause carcinogenic compounds called acrylamides to be formed. You can also bake them in a 250˚F oven for about fifteen minutes, or until very lightly browned.

5. Eat mushrooms and onions every day.

Easy vegan mushroom gravyBoth mushrooms and onions have powerful anticancer benefits. Mushrooms are better eaten cooked because some mushrooms contain a mild carcinogen called agaritine. It is gassed off during cooking.

Only the Agaricus genus of mushrooms—which includes the common white, brown, button, cremini, and portobello mushrooms—contains agaritine. Shiitake, chanterelle, enoki, morel, oyster, and straw mushrooms belong to different genera that don’t contain agaritine. But they should also be cooked to reduce the risk of any potential contamination with microbes.

It’s still not entirely clear whether agaritine is a health risk, but play it safe and cook most of your mushrooms with your other vegetables, or water-sauté them in a wok or other pan. Keep a container of cooked mushrooms in your fridge to add to salads and vegetable dishes regularly.

6. Eat three fresh fruits a day.

Winter fruits - grapes, oranges, pearsFresh fruits aren’t just nutritious and delicious, they also protect against disease. The phytochemicals in fruits have anticancer effects, and berries have even been shown to protect the brain from dementia in later life. Try to eat one serving of berries or pomegranate a day as part of your total fruit intake.

When eaten with a meal, vegetables dilute and slow your body’s absorption of glucose and fructose, so it’s best to eat fruit as part of your vegetable-based meal, either mixed in with your salad or as a dessert. If you’re physically active, you can certainly eat more than three fruits a day, but it’s still best to avoid fruit juice and too much dried fruit, such as dates, raisins, figs, and prunes, because they are calorically dense and could elevate your blood sugar if you eat them in large amounts.

When making a recipe or dessert that contains dried fruit for flavor and sweetness, limit the amount to 2 tablespoons per serving. That means one Medjool date or two Deglet Noor dates per dessert serving; otherwise, you could be consuming too much simple sugar.

That’s it. Six simple guidelines to follow. That’s not so difficult to do, is it? Can you imagine what would happen if everyone in the United States followed these guidelines?

  • We would stop the healthcare crisis in its tracks and save billions of dollars on medical expenses.
  • We would save millions of lives from premature death.
  • We would reduce rates of heart disease, stroke, dementia, and cancer by more than 80 percent.
  • We would have less crime, and a more successful, intelligent, and productive workforce.
  • We would have many fewer people in nursing homes, fewer stroke victims, and fewer elderly people suffering from dementia and unable to enjoy life.

Nutritarian Daily Checklist (Make copies of this chart and check off each point each day.

  • Eat a large salad as the main dish for at least one meal.
  • Eat at least a half cup, but preferably closer to 1 cup, of beans.
  • Eat one large (double-size) serving of steamed green vegetables.
  • Eat at least 1 ounce of nuts and seeds if you’re female and at least 1.5 ounces of nuts and seeds if you’re male. Half of them should be walnuts, hemp seeds, chia seeds, flaxseeds, or sesame seeds.
  • Eat some cooked mushrooms and raw and cooked onions.
  • Eat at least three fresh fruits.

Visit Joel Fuhrman on the web at Dr. Fuhrman.

Plant power by Nava Atlas - coverIn addition to Dr. Fuhrman’s excellent books, another helpful guide to transitioning to a vegan diet and lifestyle is Plant Power: Transform Your Kitchen, Plate, and Life with More than 150 Fresh and Flavorful Vegan Recipes* delivers a beautiful must-have guide with more than 150 delicious and versatile plant-based recipes for every day of the year. Eating vegan doesn’t have to be about sacrifice and substitutions. With Plant Power, Nava Atlas celebrates the bounty of natural foods and teaches everyone—from committed vegans to those who just want more plants in their diet—how to implement a plant-based approach to their lives—easily, practically, and joyfully, every day.

 

*This post contains affiliate links. If the product is purchased by linking through this review, VegKitchen receives a modest commission, which helps maintain our site and helps it to continue growing!

  • For more tips on plant-based nutrition, make sure to browse VegKitchen’s Nutrition page

5 Health Benefits of Beets

Beets sliced

The most vibrant of vegetables are beets. Here are a few health benefits of beets that will inspire you to enjoy them in your diet more often. Their rich hue comes from a pigment called betalain that imparts a bright pinkish shade to anything. But that’s not all! Beets (called beetroot in English-speaking cultures outside the U.S.) have a deep earthy flavor that enhances salads and other dishes.

Beets have been touted as one of the healthiest veggies out there. Aside from classic red beets, there are also golden and striped beets to explore, which have similar benefits — and even sweeter flavors.

Apart from being used as food and colorants, beets are also used for medicinal purposes, being so rich in nutrients. They’re rich in vitamins and minerals, and are a particularly good source of folate, manganese, potassium, and copper. Beets have been used to treat numerous health conditions since ancient times. For ways to use them, see How to Cook Beets (or Use them Raw) and our complete listing of beet recipes. more→

Vegetarian & Vegan Nutrition for Teens

Quinoa and Red Lentil Vegan Burger Recipes

More and more teenagers are choosing to go vegetarian or vegan. Both groups give up all meat, poultry, and fish; vegans also give up eggs and dairy. Whether vegetarian or vegan, nutrition for teens should be well planned. That said, it shouldn’t be complicated or daunting. Teens are often faced with pressures — pressures from parents concerned about their health, and pressures from within to continue on the path they have chosen. more→

Vegan Bodybuilding: 6 Food Combos for Complete Proteins

Black beans and rice

Protein is essential for optimal health. Without protein, there can be no bodybuilding. In fact, protein is such a vital component of human nutrition that we cannot survive without it let alone hope to grow new muscle mass. Simply put, protein is a major constituent of all our cells in our bodies.

With regard to food for vegan bodybuilding, additional physical effort in the form of strength or endurance training mandates an increase in the daily amount of protein required for recovery and regeneration including the additional growth of muscle cells. more→

6 Healthy Plant-Based Fats and Their Benefits

Avocados on a table

While there are good arguments for reducing bad fats (trans fats, saturated fats) from the diet, there are several sources of plant-based fats that have numerous health benefits. Read on for more on how to get these 6 healthy fats into your daily repertoire.

What Are Healthy Fats?
Fats aren’t totally evil! While there are some fats that should be avoided — like trans fats and saturated fats — there are also good fats that are a must for overall health. These healthy fats are mostly those coming from vegetables.

Plant-based fats are polyunsaturated, containing Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids that our bodies need, since they’re not capable of manufacturing them. Since we cannot get off eating bad cholesterols even though how hard we try to, These polyunsaturated fats will help achieve a more balanced fat content. more→

3 Ways to Lose Weight With Yoga And Meditation

Man meditating

The journey of weight loss can try your patience and lead to frustration. Losing weight isn’t as straightforward as counting calories in vs. calories out; in fact calorie counting is proven to be a myth and is inaccurate! Let’s shift the paradigm and consider yoga and meditation as tools for weight loss.

There can be a myriad of different causes for a person to gain weight, but for the most part, it appears that folk get too hung up on eating less (not necessarily eating better) and exercising more as a remedy. more→

3 Important Supplements for Vegan Bodybuilding

Berries and cherries

Excerpted from Vegan Bodybuilding & Fitness: The Complete Guide to Building Your Body on a Plant-Based Diet by Robert Cheeke, the world’s most recognized vegan bodybuilder: For vegan bodybuilders, the second most popular question after “how do you get your protein?” is “What supplements do you take?”

There were periods of my vegan bodybuilding life when I didn’t use any supplements at all and made incredible gains. But I do use supplements today, and I will share with you my favorite supplements and the most popular bodybuilding supplements for athletes, explaining what their function is and how they can benefit vegan athletes and competitive bodybuilders. The following is a list of common bodybuilding supplements and their functions or roles in contributing to health and athletic success.  more→

Maintaining a Vegan Diet During Pregnancy

Healthy Plant-Based Pantry Foods

Maintaining a vegan diet during pregnancy always seem to cause concern, but it can be done! Here are some tips and valuable information.

During pregnancy, your need for all nutrients increases. For example, you will need more calcium, more protein, and more folic acid. But calorie needs increase only modestly during pregnancy. In fact, you will need to pack all of that extra nutrition into just 300 extra calories a day. For that reason, all pregnant women need to choose their meals wisely. It is important to eat foods that are rich in nutrients, but not high in fat or sugar, or excessive in calories. more→

Brown Rice vs White Rice: A Comparison

brown rice vs white rice

Brown and white rice are often compared to each other in terms of their nutritional value. Brown rice vs white rice — which is best? — that’s a common question and one that we’ll explore here. Among the numerous varieties of rice in the world, the two most prominent ones are brown rice and white rice. There are other more exotic varieties like Japonica and forbidden black rice, but we’ll limit this discussion to brown and white.

Brown rice is widely considered to be more nutritious than white rice. However, white rice seems more pleasing to many palates; being more processed than brown rice, some find its texture more appealing. This versatile grain is consumed by people all around the world. And it also serves as the staple food for many people, mainly in Asian countries. Let’s first go through a few facts about both varieties of rice before concluding which one is better.

White and brown rice

Brown Rice vs White Rice

White rice may be the most commonly consumed type of rice among the varieties of rice. White rice goes through more polishing and processing due to which the bran and germ are removed, along with their valuable nutrients. White rice contains much less fiber than brown, and higher in carbohydrates. It effectively boosts the immune system and manages blood pressure. Both varieties of rice contain some amount of starch, which may help improve colon health. White rice may have a few essential nutrients but not as many; it is, in many areas, replenished with B vitamins that were stripped away with processing. Still, white rice provides energy and promotes muscle growth.

Brown rice, on the other hand, is a whole grain that contains the important fiber sources, bran, and germ. It has more fiber and antioxidants. By skipping the processing, brown rice retains a higher amount of vitamins and minerals. The antioxidants present in brown rice can help prevent chronic diseases. Brown rice protects against heart disease and reduces cholesterol levels. It also lowers the blood pressure and reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome. Consuming brown rice instead of white rice may help reduce weight.

There are just a few minor downsides to brown rice: It tends to spoil faster than white rice (that is, go rancid if not used up in a reasonable time). It also takes longer to cook, and is not as easily digested. And it tends to harbor those pesky yet harmful grain moths, which is why it’s important to rinse your brown rice before cooking.

Brown rice vs. white rice comparison chart

While some might argue that white rice has a better mouth feel and is the convenient option, brown rice is better in terms of nutrition and health benefits. Those who consume it regularly come to prefer its nuttier taste and slightly chewier texture. Despite the factors discussed above, white rice is not a bad food, and not devoid of nutrients, as you can see in the chart above (many of those due to the enriching process). It may well be considered healthy to consume in moderate amounts. When it comes to the question of brown rice vs white rice, either variety can be part of a healthy diet, though brown clearly has the edge nutritionally.

If you’d like to get cooking, see also:

Contributed by Vineetha Reddy: Being a regular practitioner and adviser of everything related to nutrition, fitness, health and wellness, I also have begun to write and contribute to this knowledge ecosystem on sites like LifeHacker, StyleCraze, and ElephantJournal. I strongly believe that the ingredients you find in your pantry provide the best benefits for good health. Follow me for my best ideas and solutions on Twitter.

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