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CHOLESTEROL FREE

The results of the Adventist Study which included  26,473 people for a period of 12 years, showed that those who ate nuts 5 or more times a week reduced their risk of heart attack by 51% and reduced deaths by stroke by 48% compared to those who ate less nuts.

Now-a-days high cholesterol is a world epidemic! Cholesterol in normal amounts is important for the functioning of our tissues, organs and hormones. However, in high quantities, cholesterol could lead to cardiovascular disease and even death. The majority of people focus more in the things we should not do or eat in order to avoid an increase in cholesterol. While there may not be anything wrong with this approach, sometimes if we were to focus on the positive foods or habits that can actually help reduce the cholesterol, we would have more efficient results.

So how do we fight against this “giant” called cholesterol? Well, we can fight it by choosing the “positive” foods that help balance the production and elimination of cholesterol in our bodies and also by avoiding the “negative” ones that produce the contrary. Today, we will focus on only the “positive” foods.

First, understand that our body produces 3 types of cholesterol: the LDL, also called the “bad cholesterol”, VLDL or “triglycerides” and the HDL called the “good cholesterol”. We can say that the HDL  “cleans” the LDL that in high amounts can clog an artery or vain and eventually, cause a stroke or heart attack.

The considered normal amounts of cholesterol in blood are:

Total-Cholesterol —> equal to or less than 200mg/dl

LDL-C —> equal to or less than 100mg/dl

VLDL-C —> equal to or less than 150mg/dl

HDL-C —> more than 40mg/dl (men) or more than 50mg/dl (women) 

Relation of Total Cholesterol/HDL-C —> less than 4.5 

There are some nutrients that help reduce LDL and others that help raise the HDL. These are: 

• “Fiber”: helps eliminate cholesterol. It also helps control blood sugar levels and helps eliminate sodium. Foods that contain high amount of fiber are: whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, and nuts. The best results come from eating these foods raw.

• “Isoflavones” : this is a nutrient or phytochemical that acts as an antioxidant found in soy and soy products.

• “Monounsaturated fats” : also called omega 9 fatty acids. These raise our HDL and lower our LDL. They can be found in olive oil, soy, canola oil, avocado, almonds and peanuts.

• “Polyunsaturated fats” : also called omega3 and omega6 fatty acids are found in soy, walnuts and hazelnuts, seeds such as flaxseed and sesame, in vegetable oils such as sunflower oil, corn oil and grape oil. These help reduce LDL.

• “Vitamin C”: Helps reduce LDL and VLDL cholesterol. Found in vegetables and fruits such us green pepper, kiwi, broccoli, kale, orange, strawberries, cauliflower, tomato, and other cols and citric fruits.

• “Vitamin E” : Works as an antioxidant. Found in vegetable oils, nuts and seeds. Specially: wheat germ, almonds, walnuts and sunflower

• “Grapes”: grapes and grape juice act as an antioxidant.

• “Calcium”: Calcium carbonate reduces LDL and raises HDL. Vit. C can be found in fortified products such as orange juice, almond and soy milk. Also found in almonds, whole grains, legumes, green leave vegetables, cols and some seaweed. To avoid lose of vit. C is best to eat them raw.

• “Beta-carotenes” : phytochemical found in orange and yellow fruits or vegetables and in vegetables with green leaves. There is higher amounts of beta-carotenes in carrots, sweet peppers, tomatoes, butternut squash, melon, papaya, mango, spinach and watercress.

Summarizing, these are the “positive” foods 

  • Nuts (specially almonds, hazelnut, walnuts and peanuts)
  • Almond milk
  • Soy and soy products like tofu or soy milk.
  • Seeds (specially sunflower, flaxseed and sesame)
  • Fruits and vegetables (specially yellow, orange, cols and green leaves) like oranges and other citric fruits, kiwi, strawberry, melon, tomato, papaya, melon, sweet peppers, squash, broccoli and cauliflower, spinach, watercress and kale
  • Vegetable oils (specially olive oil, avocado, canola, sunflower and grape)
  • Whole grains, wheat germ.
  • Legumes
  • Seaweed
  • Grapes and grape juice

References:

1- Organizacion Mundial de la Salud (OMS), Centro de Prensa, Obesidad y Sobrepeso, Nota descriptive N311, Mayo 2012. http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs311/es/

2- Lineamento para el cuidado nutricional, M.E. Torresani-M.I.Somoza, 2a ed. 3a reimp.-Buenos Aires: Eudeba, 2007.

3- Una guia rapida sobre vitaminas, minerales y suplementos. Dra. Helen Pensanti. 3a impression, 5/2008. Editorial Caribe Inc. 2005. Nashville, TN, E.U.A.

4- Tecnica Dietoterapica. Elsa N. Longo, Elizabeth T. Navarro. Editorial El Ataneo, 2a edicion. 4a reimpresion. Buenos Aires, Argentina, 2004.

5- Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. Nichael Murray, N.D., Joseph Pizzorno, N.D. Revised 2nd Edition. Prima Publishing, Rocklin, CA, USA.

6- Foods that Harm Foods that Heal. Reader’s Diagest Association, Inc. 1998. Pleasantville, New York, USA.

7- Creation Health Seminar Personal Study Guide. Florida Hospital, Mission Development. Second edition. 2011.

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Dairy-free Dare: dairy substitutions for vegans

Looking for a way to substitute dairies in your diet? You came to the right place! Keep reading! It is easy and accessible!

cow

Personally, I find that dairies are essential in cooking. Many of my favorite dishes have either cream, milk or cheese. So for me, it is very important to know how to replace them. There are many options of vegetable milks (no animal milk) that are mainly from nuts and cereals. Some are better for cooking, while others are better for drinking and it will all come down to what taste you like the most. My preferences? I love to drink almond milk, cook with coconut milk, substitute cheese with tofu and use cashews as cream. Try it for yourself! Here is a list of ideas for dairy replacements:

Milk Soy Milk, Almond Milk, Rice Milk, Hemp Milk, Cashew Milk, Coconut Milk, Peanut Milk, Flax Milk. There are some grain milks from oats, rice, rye, quinoa, spelt and einkorn wheat, but they are lower in proteins and higher in carbohydrates compared to cow milk. Common milk replacement brands are: Silk®, Blue Diamond®,

So Delicious Dairy Free®, Living Harvest Tempt®, Pacific Naturals®, Good Karma®, FlaxUSA®, Rice Dream®, Organic Valley®, Kirkland®, 365®, Thai Kitchen®, Goya®…

Cream Soy Cream, Cashew Cream, Coconut Cream.
Butter* Vegetable oils like: coconut oil, canola oil, olive oil, sesame oil, hazelnut oil, avocado oil, grape oil, sunflower oil or No-trans fats Margarine spreads, for example: Country Crock®, I Cant Believe is Not Butter®, Earth Balance® (NOT Smart Balance)
Buttermilk Homemade Vegan Buttermilk: Soy or Almond milk + 1 tbsp. of white vinegar or lemon juice (MIX)
Yogurt* Look for Vegan yogurt recipes or buy Soy Yogurt like Whole Soy & Co®. Cultured Coconut Milk or Cultured Almond Milk like So Delicious Dairy Free®.
Sour cream* Greek Soy yogurt, Tofutti® Non-Hydrogenated Better than Sour Cream
Homemade Vegan Sour Cream: 16oz of Silken Tofu + 1 tbsp. of Olive oil + 4 tsp. of lemon juice

OR

2 tsp. apple cider vinegar (or 2 tsp. more of lemon juice instead) + 1 tsp. of brown sugar + 2tsp. of salt.

Blend all together until smooth and creamy and put in the refrigerator for about 1 hour to thicken.

Cheese, cream cheese, cottage, ricotta* Silken Tofu for cream cheese and crumble for ricotta or cottage. See also commercial vegan cheeses like: GoVeggie®, Follow Your Heart®, Daiya®, Tofutti® Non-Hydrogenated Better than Cream Cheese
Creamer* Silk® Creamer (vanilla, original or hazelnut)
Ice cream* Soy based, Rice based and Nut based Ice creams like So Delicious Dairy Free®.

REPLACEMENT OPTIONS BY DISH TYPE

Savory dishes (Creams, mashed potatoes, sauces, salad dressings, curry, stroganoff, etc.)

  • Plain Almond Milk
  • Plain Soy Milk
  • Coconut Milk
  • Cashew Milk
  • Plain Flax Milk
  • Original or plain Hemp Milk

Savory creamy dishes (soups, curry, stroganoff, Alfredo sauce)

  • Unsweetened coconut milk or cream
  • Cashew cream

Cheesecakes

  • Tofu

Sweet dishes (cereal, desserts, smoothies, etc.)

  • Rice Milk (it is naturally sweet!)
  • Almond Milk – any flavor (plain, vanilla, chocolate, etc.)
  • Soy Milk – any flavor (plain, vanilla, cappuccino, chocolate, etc.)
  • Flax Milk (plain or vanilla)
  • Coconut Milk (sweetened, unsweetened, vanilla)
  • Hemp milk (original, vanilla or chocolate)

 Screen Shot 2013-10-16 at 3.29.00 PM

Since were talking about vegan replacements, if you are interested, here are some options to substitute meat, broths and sugar:

MEATS* Protein Equivalents: Tofu and soy products or Vegan dairies above, legumes (beans, lentils, chickpeas) or nuts (cashew, almond, peanuts, walnuts) best if combined with a cereal (e.g. Rice and beans, hummus and pita bread, minestrone soup)
To replace the taste*Best brands out there Gardein®, Quorn®, Yves®, Light Life®, 365® (Whole Foods), Vitasoy®, Amys®, Wildwood®, etc.
BROTHS Vegetable broth or water with herbs.
SUGAR* Best: Stevia, Truvia®, Sweetleaf, Agave and Whey Low. Other (not the best but better than plain sugar): Splenda®, Honey and Brown or Cane sugar.

*All the commercial brands listed are suggestions of the best considered options of Vegan products available. Most products are Organic, have No-trans Fats, are GMO free, MSG free and some are Gluten free. It is still recommended to consume moderate amounts of processed foods. Most can be found at Publix and Target, some even at Wal-Mart.

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Subs for Vegs: Egg replacements

This month I decided to provide some helpful tools for Vegan cooking. Being a Vegan, or cooking Vegan food, can be difficult when you don’t know how to replace eggs and dairies in everyday dishes. For me, dairies were always easier to replace than eggs because of the texture, baking properties and the ability to bind and bread ingredients the eggs have.

chicken

Here is a list of egg replacements for baking or cooking:

1 EGG REPLACEMENTS

HOW TO…

Silken Tofu

¼ cup of Silken Tofu

Process in a blender until completely smooth and creamy, leaving no grains or chunks.

Applesauce

1/3 cup of applesauce

OR

¼ cup of applesauce + 1 tsp. baking powder.

Soy yogurt

 

¼ cup of Soy yogurt

Beat well before adding to mix.

Flaxseed

1 tbsp. of ground flax seeds + 3 tbsp. of water

Mix ground flaxseed with water and allow it to rest till it becomes gelatinous, then use.If you only have the whole flaxseed, grind it in a coffee grinder.

Banana

½ pureed or mashed banana

Just mash it smooth.

Fruits

3 tbsp. of pureed fruits

Puree blue berries, peach, pineapples, strawberries, etc. To avoid product being dense add an extra ½ tsp. of baking powder.

Pumpkin

1/3 cup of cooked pumpkin or squash

OR

¼ cup of canned pumpkin

Cook and mash pumpkin.

Prunes

¼ of a cup of pureed prunes

Just puree prunes with water. (1 cup of pitted prunes + 6 tbsp. of water)

Potatoes, sweet potatoes.

¼ cup of mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes.

Cook and mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes.

Canola, sunflower or coconut oil

¼ cup of vegetable oil

Kosher Gelatin

1 tbsp. of vegan or Kosher gelatin + 3 tbsp. of lukewarm water

 Brands: Lieber®unflavored gel, Carmel® unsweetened gel, KoJel® unflavored gel, and Hain® Superfruits.

Add this mixture to the dough.

Agar Agar

1 tbsp. Agar powder or flakes + 1 tbsp. of water.

Dissolve Agar Agar with water. Whip, chill and whip again.

Vinegar + Baking powder

1 tbsp. of white vinegar + 1 tbsp. of water + 1 tbsp. of baking powder.

 Use this mixture only for cakes that require more than one egg

Mix vinegar and water then add baking power. When dissolved add to mixture.

Potato starch

2 heaped tbsp. of potato starch

Arrowroot powder

2 heaped tbsp. arrowroot powder

Cornstarch

1 heaped tbsp. of cornstarch + 2 tbsp. of water

Soy flour

1 heaped tbsp. of soy flour + 1 tbsp. of water

Soda pop

 12 oz. of any soda pop

(one regular can)

Use to substitute 3 eggs

Homemade Mixture 1

2 tbsp. of flour + ½ tsp. oil + ½ tsp. of baking powder + 2 tbsp. of any liquid (almond milk, soy milk, coconut cream, soy liquid yogurt).

Beat together until smooth.

Homemade Mixture 2

2 tbsp. of water + 1 tbsp. of oil + 2 tsp. of baking powder.

Beat together until smooth.

Mayonnaise*

Nasoya® Nayonase Vegan spread, Earth Balance® Mindful Mayo, Follow Your Heart® Vegenaise.

Some brands in stores…

Bob’s Red Mill® All Natural Egg Replacement

1 egg = 1 tbsp. of Bob’s Red Mill® Egg Replacement and 3 tbsp. of water.

Ener-G-Egg Replacer®

(is Gluten Free!)

1 egg or egg white = 1 ½ tsp. dry Egg Replacer + 2 tbsp. water1 egg yolk = 1 ½ tsp. dry Egg Replacer plus 1 tbsp. water

*All the commercial brands listed are suggestions of the best “considered” options of Vegan products available. Most products are Organic, have No-trans Fats, are GMO free, MSG free and some are Gluten free. It is still recommended to consume moderate amounts of processed foods. Most can be found at Publix and Target, some even at Wal-Mart.

SUBSTITUTIONS ACCORDING TO EGG PROPERTIES OR SPECIFIC DISHES

Egg Whites replacement

  • Agar Agar
  • Gelatin
  • Commercial egg replacer

Bread

  • Tofu
  • Ground flaxseed
  • Soy yogurt

Brownies

  • Applesauce
  • Mashed Banana
  • Ground flaxseed
  • Soy yogurt
  • Tofu
  • Commercial egg replacer

Sweet breads, cupcakes

  • Pureed fruits
  • Applesauce
  • Mashed Banana
  • Mashed Pumpkin
  • Ground flaxseed
  • Soy yogurt
  • Arrowroot powder
  • Tofu
  • Potato starch

Cakes

  • Pureed fruits
  • Applesauce
  • Mashed Banana
  • Ground flaxseed
  • Soy yogurt
  • Arrowroot powder
  • Potato starch
  • Vegetable oil
  • Soy flour
  • Gelatin
  • Vinegar and baking powder
  • Soda pop

Muffins

  • Applesauce
  • Mashed Banana
  • Mashed Pumpkin
  • Ground flaxseed
  • Soy yogurt
  • Vegetable oil
  • Soy flour

Cookies

  • Vegetable oil
  • Soy flour
  • Cornstarch
  • Commercial egg replacer

Pancakes

  • Mashed Bananas
  • Flax seeds
  • Soy flour

Chocolate pies, quiches, pudding

  • Tofu
  • Cornstarch

As a binder and coating (savory dishes)

  • 2-3 tbsp. of tomato paste, potato starch, arrowroot powder, whole-wheat flour, mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes, instant potato flakes.
  • ¼ cup of pureed tofu + 1 tbsp. of flour.
  • Breadcrumbs, cooked oatmeal, cooked rice (burgers, vegetable loaves…)
  • For coating: 1 tbsp. of ground flaxseed + 3 tbsp. of water + ½ cup of almond, soy or coconut milk.

Scrambles, salads, sandwiches, omelet

  • Tofu (You can add Pink Salt to give it an “eggy” flavor.)
  • Commercial Egg replacements will not work.

Hollandaise sauce, Mayonnaise, Custard, Quiches (Vegetable-based emulsifiers and thickeners)

  • Xanthan gum
  • Guar gum
  • Tofu

Remember to choose the right option depending on the purpose of the egg in the recipe. Is it for coating? Use ground flaxseed! Is it to make bread? Use tofu! Is it to make muffins? Use mashed pumpkin or banana! Trust me, you can do it! It is a matter of trying and seeing what option works better for the dish you want to make.

Do you like sweets? Try this next recipe, you will love it!

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Tofu for U

Tofu? What is it?  

Tofu comes from the soybean and it was first used in China and Korea. It was introduced to the USA population in 1906 when Sing Hau Lee opened a Tofu shop in San Francisco, California. Tofu can also be called doufu, tahu or tohu. Today, as it also was back then, tofu is not only used for its nutritional value but also as a “natural medicine”. Tofu can help the body get rid of toxins and cleanses the intestines. The Chinese also uses tofu to cure dysentery and jaundice. It also helps lower the risk of heart disease because as it lowers cholesterol and blood pressure!1,2,6.

Why is it good?

Today, because of its texture and protein value, tofu is used to produce many meat-replacement foods such as ground veggie meats, hamburgers, hotdogs, cheeses and more. Tofu and soy products in general became the favorite ingredient to most meat-like vegetarian dishes. Tofu is also great substitute to dairy products. Nowadays, there’s tofu cheesecake, ice cream, soymilk, cheese, cream cheese, lasagna, pastas, tofu everything! Tofu is very versatile and useful. In addition, if you are allergic to lactose, soy products are a great option.1,2.

What is its nutritional value?

The nutritional value of tofu can vary depending on the type of tofu and its brand, but here are some general facts: in 4oz (112g) of firm tofu there is 114 calories (4oz of cooked chicken breast is about 220kcal; 4oz of filet mignon about 360kcal); 11.7g of protein (about the same as 2oz of meat or 4oz of egg whites); 6.8g of the called “good fats” (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated) because they don’t harm our blood vessels (opposite of saturated found in meats); 2.5mg of sodium (compare to cottage cheese that has about 256mg!); 2mg of iron (about the same as an egg or tuna fish) and 57.2mg of calcium (about 4 times more than 4oz of steak or a hamburger!). Also, the soybean is one of the few legumes that have a complete protein; in other words, it has all the essential amino acids our body needs. Also, the percentage that the body utilizes for tissue building (Net Protein Utilization or NPU) is 65% only 2% less than meat.1,2.

How does it lower cholesterol?

Tofu has two substances called Lecithin and Linoleic acid, which that help break down cholesterol and fat deposits in the organs and blood. So we can say that tofu not only has no cholesterol whatsoever but can also help lower cholesterol levels. A study case that shows it, involved a man from Tennessee who had a total cholesterol level of 300 and dropped it to 220 by only adding tofu to his diet. Another case with hospitalized patients showed that in 14 days, their cholesterol levels dropped 20% by eating soy-based foods. Tofu, like any other soy product, contains a phytochemical called isoflavones that also lowers total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol in plasma. There are several studies that affirm this. One of them was done in Japan with 115 women who had tofu in their diets and showed a lower incidence of coronary heart disease than women from other countries.1, 5.

Varieties: How can I use them?

There are three types of tofu: silken, soft and firm. Silken and soft tofu have fewer calories than firm but also fewer proteins and calcium. Silken is usually used in creamy sweet desserts such as cheesecakes, sauces, smoothies or soups. Soft is used in fillings for lasagnas, quiches, frittatas, sandwiches or purees. Firm tofu is used for hamburgers, veggie meats and patties, and recipes that need a firmer texture such as egg-like scramble, breaded tofu, stir-fry, etc. My favorite property is the fact that tofu has a very bland flavor and its texture is porous, so it takes on any flavor you add with ease. You can make it taste like chicken, beef or fish and it’s perfect for sweet or spicy dishes.1,2

How to store it?

Tofu can be stored in the refrigerator for about 4 months from the production date printed on the package (if not opened). However, you should always check the container for an expiration date. If at any point you open the package and you were not able to cook it, you can store it by putting it in a covered container with cold water in the refrigerator; but you will need to change the water daily until cooked. Do not do this for more than 10 days. Cooked  tofu (according to the “text books”) can be stored for 24hrs but deep-fried only up to 10 days.It can also be frozen for about 3 months but you need to be aware of the defrosting process. When you freeze the tofu in its container you need to know that the tofu will expand. Now, to defrost the tofu soak the container in warm water for a couple of minutes. After that, open the container and drain the water. Be mindful that the tofu will have a strong ammonia smell; that means its fresh. Place the tofu in a bowl and cover with hot water (do not pour it directly to the tofu), let soak for just 4 minutes. Pour off the hot water and add new warm water. Press tofu several times under water with your hands so all the “milky” ammonia comes out. Do this gently; you do not want the tofu to break apart. Discard that water and repeat until no more “white water” residue comes out. Take tofu out of the water and press one more time. After that, how you cook it is your choice!3,4.

What tofu is the best to buy?

The tofu I like to use is Nasoya because I love the fact that it is certified organic; by the way, did you know it was one of the first commercial tofu in the USA? Also, be conscious of other soy products, there are a lot of Genetically Modified soy out there, read labels and choose organic and GMO free! Now, if you buy it and the container is already expanded like about to burst, do not eat it as this usually indicates that something in the refrigeration process something went wrong.

So, what to remember?

Tofu is a great source of protein, calcium, and it is low in calories and do to the types of fats and phytochemicals that it contains, it reduces the risk of heart disease! It is a very versatile ingredient; it can be used in a lot of dishes and take on a lot of flavors. It’s a great option to substitute meat!

What to do?

Go ahead and make this tasty tofu no-egg frittata or just sauté tofu with veggies and eat it with rice or noodles. Deep-fry it or use it in a lasagna or smoothie. Bake a cheesecake! Be adventurous; try new flavors, research for recipes and enjoy!2

My favorite Tofu 🙂

References: 

1 John Paino/Lisa Messinger. The Tofu Book: The New American Cuisine. Avery 1991.  United States of America. Pgs. 1, 2, 4, 9, 10, 15, 17, 18, 21, 23.

2 Jack Norris/ Virginia Messina. Vegan for Life. First Da Capo Press Edition 2011. United States of America. Pgs. 19, 44, 121.

3  William Shurtleff/Akiko Aoyagi. The Book of Tofu: Food for Mankind, Volume 1. Autumn Press Inc. MA, USA. Pgs.30, 230.

4 Alimentos: Introduccion Tecnica y Seguridad. 2 Edicion 2003. Buenos Aires Argentina. Pg.34, 269.

5 Yusuke Arai/Shaw Watanabe/Mitsuru Kimira/Kayoko Shimoi/Rika Mochizuki/Naohide Kinae. Dietary Intakes of Flavonols, Flavones and Isoflavones by Japanese Women and the Inverse Correlation between Quercetin Intake and Plasma LDL Cholesterol Concentration. –The Journal of Nutrition: Human Nutrition and Metabolism. Downloaded on August 5, 2013 from: http://jn.nutrition.org/content/130/9/2243.full.pdf+html

6An Pan/Oscar H. Franco/ Jianping Ye/ Wendy Demark-Wahnefried/Xingwang Ye/Zhijie Yu, Huaixing Li/and Xu Lin. Soy Protein Intake Has Sex-Specific Effects on the Risk of Metabolic Syndrome in Middle-Aged and Elderly Chinese. The Journal of Nutrition: Nutritional Epidemiology. Downloaded on August 5, 2013 from: http://jn.nutrition.org/content/138/12/2413.full.pdf+html

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Zucchini and Bikini

Did you know the zucchini is one of the vegetables with the fewest calories? Or did you know that you could use it in a variety of dishes? Eat healthy and get ready for the summer! The zucchini is a fantastic option!

Article-zucchinis

The zucchini is an herbaceous plant from the cucurbit family, its scientific name is Cucurbita pepo but it is known not only as zucchini but also as Italian squash, summer squash, cousa squash, crockneck squash, bubango, courgette, long squash, among several other names depending on the country and variety.1,2

The zucchini looks almost like a cucumber, it is about 6 to 10 inches long, it can be light green, dark green or yellow and the skin is thin, soft and tender. It has two different flowers that are usually used as a garnish, eaten fried or as an ingredient in a stuffing or soup.3

This vegetable is composed of about 94% water making it one of the lowest-calorie vegetable. A whole medium zucchini has less than 3 calories and one cup (124g) of sliced ​​zucchini has less than 20 calories! That is fewer than the calories in a medium apple!3,4

The zucchini is also rich in vitamins and minerals, especially potassium, vitamin C, folic acid, and β-carotene. A medium zucchini covers between 25% to 35% of an adult’s Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of vitamin C, about 6% of the RDI of folic acid (B9), about 250mg of potassium and sufficient amount of β-carotene that the body converts to Vitamin A to cover 5% to 10% of the RDI. It also has moderate amounts of B vitamins including thiamin (B1), pyridoxine (B6), riboflavin (B2) as well as minerals such as iron, phosphorus, magnesium and zinc. One zucchini has about 2g of fiber.3

In order to get as much nutrients as possible it is important to consume the zucchini (or any vegetable for that matter) with its skin and consider the different cooking methods. Eating it raw is best. Baking, steaming, grilling and sautéing looses fewer nutrients than cooking at higher temperatures such as boiling, frying or cooking for a prolonged time. Also, some of these methods, such as frying or sautéing, add calories to it from the absorption of fat during the process of cooking. The more we chop and cut the more nutrients are lost. The vitamins with the greatest loss during the cooking process are the vitamin C and the B vitamin group.5

One thing you should know is that zucchinis loose a lot of water while cooking, so if you are making a “dry” dish, you can avoid all that water by cutting the zucchinis before cooking, sprinkling them with salt and letting them sit over a napkin for a little bit. Doing that will eliminate some water and also avoid that “bitter” taste that some zucchinis have – just make sure to rinse the salt and cook as normal. Another thing to know is that they “shrink” to about half their size so you might need more quantity than you think. When you buy zucchinis make sure they’re firm. If they bend a little they’re old already. Also, have in mind that you need to store them in the fridge and they last up to 7 days.3,5.

The zucchini, like the cucumber, can be added to salads and sandwiches or you can eat it raw as a snack with a light dressing, guacamole or hummus. You can add the zucchini to stews, soups, lasagnas, pizzas, ratatouille, paella, rice, you can grill it, bake it, bread it, stuff it, use it in a soufflé, quiche, bread, cakes or muffins … Anyways, it is a vegetable that can be used in many different dishes.

Use your imagination and eat healthy! Say yes to the zucchini and get ready for summer! I leave you with two recipes inspired by my mother-in-law 🙂 Zucchini and Bikini! My slogan this month!

References:

1 Online. June 6, 2013. from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/zucchini?s=t

2 Online. Junio 10, 2013.Linné, Carl von, Species Plantarum, vol. 2, p.1010, 1753. http://biodiversitylibrary.org/page/359031#page/452/mode/1up

3 Food that Harm Foods that Heal. The Reader’s Digest Association, Inc. Pleasantville, New York/Montreal. Fifth printing, May 1998. Pg.380

4 Michele Grodner, EdD CHE/Sara Long Anderson, PhD, RD/Sandra DeYoung, PhD, RN. Foundations and Clinical Applications of Nutrition. A Nursing Approach. 1996. Mosby-Year Book, Inc. 11830 Westline Industrial Drive. St. Louis, MO 63146. Appendix A Food Composition Table. Pg.  A-54

5 Roxana Medin/Silvina Medin. Alimentos: Introduccion Tecnica y Seguridad. 2da Edicion. Abril 2003. Ediciones Turisticad de Mario Banchik. Belgrano 3027, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Pg. 17, 18, 24, 32, 235, 246.

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10 Reasons to Become a Vegan

article 1Being vegan is not only a way of eating, it’s a lifestyle that benefits us greatly, it goes beyond a name given due to eating habits and it is more than what you can and cannot eat because being a vegan is more than a diet, it affects our entire lives.

It is scientifically proven that a plant-based diet is better for our health. Many people think that being vegan is to eat only lettuce and tomatoes. Others may think that vegetables have no protein or certain nutrients that we need so if we don’t eat meat we will have deficiencies. But let me tell you these asseverations are not true. God designed this diet, and what God does is and always will be good. The diet of Eden, as I call it, is a nutritionally complete, balanced and adequate diet. The problem is not to know how to combine and choose foods. Nobody was born with a manual of how to eat, but Christians have the Bible as a guide*

Plants are full of colors and textures, variety of flavors and scents, shapes and sizes that make the vegan diet fun and full of options. I love to cook and try new recipes, so to know that what I am eating is also healthy and good for my body makes the cooking experience more than an everyday activity; it becomes art that is also medicine.

One of my favorite quotes is by Hippocrates “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. I’m not telling you to stop taking medicines, you might really need them, but let me tell you that many diseases can be prevented with food and many symptoms can be reversed or decreased by what we eat.

What is this diet? The plant-based diet consists of fresh and dried fruits, nuts, seeds and oils, vegetables, whole grains and legumes. Those who eat only these foods are vegan, other vegetarians include dairy products and eggs in their diet, and those are called ovo-lacto vegetarians. In this blog I will include vegan recipes as well as ovo-lacto vegetarian recipes. But I cannot stop reiterating that the vegan diet is the best choice. Why? For the 10 following reasons:

1 – It is nutritionally complete and balanced. In plants we can find carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. These include the nutrients needed for the proper functioning of all our organs. The main sources of carbohydrates are the grains, such as oatmeal, flour, pasta, rice, barley and quinoa among others. The whole grain cereals are the best ones because they contain fiber. It is always good to combine cereals with some source of protein like any kind of bean, tofu or other legumes. This combination provides all of the essential amino acids the body needs. In other words, whole grain + legume = complete protein. The main sources of fats are vegetable oils, seeds, nuts and certain vegetables such as avocado, olives, chocolate and coconut. The main sources of vitamins and minerals are fruits, vegetables and nuts but these are found in all plant foods. The recommendations are to consume 2 fruits and 3 vegetables per day and of different colors if possible; each color provides different phytochemicals that benefit different organs of our bodies. See? In plants we can have all the nutrients we need.1

2 – The vegan diet helps you lose weight and maintain it.  Vegetables are low in calories and contain nutrients like fiber that gives a greater feeling of fullness, so that not only we eat less quantity but also less calories. Furthermore, according to an article published by the “American Diabetes Association” vegetarians are less obese than non-vegetarians. Therefore vegetarians also have a lower risk of obesity-related diseases such as diabetes 2.2,11

3 – It protects us from non-communicable diseases and certain cancers. According to “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” mortality and risk of coronary heart disease is 32% lower in vegetarians than non-vegetarians. Other studies showed a higher incidence of gastrointestinal cancers in people who eat meat. Vegetables are rich in vitamins and minerals that help have a stronger immune system to protect us from certain cancers. This diet is low in saturated fat acids and trans fatty acids that are harmful to the health of our arteries, and it also contains omega 9 fatty acids that increase HDL cholesterol (which is the one that protects us from cardiovascular diseases). Also, vegetables contain fiber that helps reduce the absorption of sugars in the blood. Studies show that vegetarians have 55% fewer cases of diabetes 2.2,3,4,11.

4 – Lowers cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar. Did you know that eating nuts lowers cholesterol? The results of the Adventist Health Study that included 26,473 people for a period of 12 years showed that those who ate nuts five or more times a week reduced the risk of heart attack by 51% and had a reduction of deaths from myocardial disease of 48% compared to those who consumed less nuts. Dr. Caldwell, a physician and scientist recognized from the “Cleveland Clinic” prescribed a plant-based diet to 18 of his patients suffering from coronary thrombosis and 70% of them not only stopped the progression of the disease but the clogged arteries actually decreased! And what do you know about celery or garlic? Did you know that they could lower blood pressure? A study conducted by the Medical Center of the University of Chicago found that eating a quarter pound of celery per day for 1 week reduces blood pressure from 158/96 to 118/82!! .5,6,7

5 – It gives us more energy and keeps our brains alert. I experienced this firsthand. When I started college I used to eat meat every day, although during my childhood I never ate meat at home. When I decided to stop eating meat, I noticed the changes quickly. When I studied right after eating I didn’t feel tired as before, my mind was awake, my body was not “heavy”. I noticed an abrupt change in my concentration and productivity; I spent less time studying and got even better results than before. I was also going to the gym every day and never came back exhausted. The same was observed in New York when scientists got together and changed the lunch of 1.1 million public school students. They changed the menu, adding fruits, vegetables and whole grains. After one year, academic performance increased by 16% and the number of students with learning disabilities was reduced by 41%. Try it and see the results.8

6 – Reduces the risk of foodborne illness. In the USA every person is exposed to between 63-70 different pesticides residues in food per day. As a result, foodborne diseases are affecting 8 to 60 million people causing about 9,000 deaths per year. The main causative agents are the bacterias: Campylobacter jejuni, Salmonella, Escherichia coli, Listeria monocytogenes and Vibrio species – all bacteria found mainly in red and white meats, fish, seafood, dairy and eggs. Therefore, we can avoid poisoning by not consuming food derived from animals. Vegetables have fewer bacteria, chemicals and pesticides, and that is a fact. Some people have allergies to certain plants and those should be careful and avoid them. But know that there is a lower amount of vegan with foodborne disease than meat eaters. Also, I advise eating organic as much as possible since the new laws in the USA protect crops with GMO (genetically modified organism). But we will talk about that in a future article.9, 10

7 – It saves us money. Yes, it’s true. Organic food can be a bit more expensive, but it will ultimately save us money in hospital expenses, tedious treatments, medications, medical appointments and so much more that makes it totally worthwhile. There are even some employers that offer discounts on the health insurance for their employees with normal weight, blood pressure and lab results. Benefit that my husband and I obtained, and all thanks to a healthy vegetarian diet. Today, healthy eating really made a difference in our budget and I know it will in the future too.

8 – Help build stronger bones, reduces symptoms of menopause, gastrointestinal diseases and more! Vegetables are good source of calcium, especially almonds, broccoli, legumes and whole grains. Calcium is important for bone growth and to keep them strong. Studies found that there are fewer cases of osteoporosis in vegetarians. Also, vegetarians have nearly 3 times lower risk of gallstones than omnivores and similar results were seen with cases of kidney stones and kidney disease. There’s even a 50% fewer cases of diverticulosis and constipation and other gastrointestinal diseases and complications by simply eating plant-based foods and avoiding meat. This diet helps regulate some hormones such as estrogen. Also, studies showed that isoflavones found mainly in soybeans and their derivatives reduce the symptoms of menopause and hormonal imbalances. In Europe, where meat consumption is higher, about 80% of menopausal women suffer from hot flashes, whereas in China, where soy consumption is daily, only 18%.11, 12

9 – Adds more years to your life. According to Dr. Michael F. Roizen, people who consume saturated fatty acids, which are found in animal products, live less and their last years are with higher disabilities. It also ensures that animal products decrease energy, clogs arteries and weaknesses the immune system. He even mentions that those who eat meat have sexual and cognitive dysfunction at a younger age. Other studies showed that people who have lived longer had an active life and a plant-based whole grains’ diet.13

10 – Protects the environment and animals. First, the United Nations said that we are using nearly 30% of earth landmass to raise animals for our consumption; clearing about 260 million acres of US forests to grow grain in order to feed farm animals is resulting in the number one reason plant species in the USA are going extinct. Also, these animals are eating 70% of our grains and what do we get? To produce 1 pound of meat the industry uses 13 pounds of grain, 2,400 gallons of water and so much energy! Second, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the runoff from factory farms pollutes our waterways more than all other industrial sources combined and that is not counting the fecal contamination that exceeds the entire US human population excrements and affects the water we drink and the air we breath.  Third, we avoid animal suffering. The stress that animals suffer from birth until they die is very shocking and it appealed to my conscience. Not to be too extreme, I know it is a personal matter, but I always thought God created mankind and gave them the job of taking care of the animals… and what are we doing now? Do you see what I’m saying?*,14

I don’t want to convince you to stop eating meat and eat like me, but I do want to make you aware of facts so you can make a wise and informed decision that can benefit your bodies and make your lives more fulfilling and healthy. Think about your welfare and ultimately you will benefit everyone around you, they will not have to worry about big hospital bills and you will live to see your great grandchildren! God created us with the ability to care for our bodies and make decisions about our own future. I hope for a future full of life and good health, what kind of future do you hope for?

References:

* Diet of Eden: Genesis 1:29. Care of animals: Genesis 1:28. Holy Bible New International version.

Lopez/Suarez. “Fundamentos de Nutrición Normal.” El Ataneo P. Garcia S.A.L.E.eI. Primera edición. Septiembre 12, 2004. Argentina.

2 Tonstad, Serena/Butler, Terry/Yan, Run/Fraser, Gary E. “Type of Vegetarian Diet, Body Weight, and Prevalence of Type 2 Diabetes.” Diabetes Care, volumen 32, numero 5, Mayo 2009. Online. PDF de http://care.diabetesjournals.org/content/32/5/791.full.pdf+html, Abril 26, 2013.

Tanmango-Bartley, Yessenia/Jaceldo-Siegl, Karen/Fan, Jing/Fraser, Gary E. “Vegetarian Diets and the incidence of Cancer in a Low-risk Population.” American Association for Cancer Reaserch. Online. PDF de cebp.aacrjournals.org, Abril 24, 2013.

Fraser, Gary E. “Vegetarian Diets: what do we know of the effects on common chronic disease?” The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Online. PDF de ajcn.nutrition.org, Abril 24, 2013.

5 Foods that Harm Foods that Heal. Reader’s Diagest Association, Inc. 1998. Pleasantville, New York, USA

Creation Health Seminar Personal Study Guide. Florida Hospital, Mission Development. Segunda edición. 2011.

7 Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine. Nichael Murray, N.D., Joseph Pizzorno, N.D. Revised. Segunda edición. Prima Publishing, Rocklin, CA, USA.

8 Callem J. “Mean Streets or Mean Minerals?” The Nutrition News from IAACN 20120 #7. Online. PDF de http://www.iaacn.org/The%20Nutrition%20News%202010.week7.pdf , Abril 26, 2013

Schafer K.S./Kegley S.E. “Persistent toxic chemicals in the US food suply.” J Epidemiol Community Health 202; 56:813-817. Online. PDF de http://www.jech.com, Abril26, 2013.

10 Altekruse S.F./Cohen, M.L./Swerdlow, D.L. “Emerging Foodborne Diseases.” Centers for Disease Control and Precention, Atlanta, GA, USA. Vol. 3, No. 3, Julio-Septiembre 1997. Online. PDF de http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2627632/pdf/9284372.pdf Abril 26, 2013.

11 Vesanto, Melina/Davids, Brenda. “Becoming Vegetarian: The Complete Guide to Adopting a Healthy Vegetarian Diet.” Capitulo 2: Maximazing the vegetarian advantages.

12 Setchell, Kenneth D.R./Cassidy, Aedin. “Dietary Isoflavones: Biological Effects and Relevance to Human Health.” The Journal of Nutrition. Online. PDF de http://jn.nutrition.org/content/129/3/758S.full.pdf+html Abril 26, 2013.

13 Roizen, Michael F/La Puma, John. “The Real Age Diet: Make Yourself Younger with What You Eat”. HarperCollins Publishers Inc., 10 East 53rd Street New York, NY 10022. Primera edición. 2001.

14 Meat Production Wastes Natural Resources, PETA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. Online. http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/meat-wastes-natural-resources.aspx May 15,2013

 Image credits: © Enjoylife25 | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

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