Woah. This one’s rather big…

silviarita / Pixabay

I generally avoid controversy. It’s probably middle-child syndrome. 🙂

In the past I’ve simply listened to my husband’s cardiologist who has more than embraced Dr. Dean Ornish’s research, always telling us to “stay the course” because Ornish’s plant based diet is so heart healthy, so solid, long term research backing up its claims, it’s worth it to keep going.

But after my cancer, I admit I’ve occasionally been tempted to alter our dietary course. Eating fiber is… challenging, considering I lost a good portion of my colon.

So, I’ve watched people, sometimes relatives, embrace a low-carb regime, lose weight, and sally forth with such confidence… sometimes it seemed too good to be true. They hail the health benefits of low carb. Sometimes their blood numbers improve. They appear to have similar results without wrestling restaurant menus.

But, then I read something this: Low carbohydrate diets are unsafe and should be avoided

My first thought? “Bah. The plant based docs are on the move again.” I’m waiting for something outside the plant based sphere.. Then I checked out the source: The European Society of Cardiology.

Huh. I Googled ’em. Turns out they’re legit. Totally legit. (I know. Wikipedia. But feel free to check on ’em yourself.)

Here’s what they say:

Study author Professor Maciej Banach, of the Medical University of Lodz, Poland, said: “We found that people who consumed a low carbohydrate diet were at greater risk of premature death. Risks were also increased for individual causes of death including coronary heart disease, stroke, and cancer. These diets should be avoided.”

Wow. They go on to say low carbing is good in the short term, the good news breaks down pretty fast.

Professor Banach said: “Low carbohydrate diets might be useful in the short term to lose weight, lower blood pressure, and improve blood glucose control, but our study suggests that in the long-term they are linked with an increased risk of death from any cause, and deaths due to cardiovascular disease, cerebrovascular disease, and cancer.”

Oh… and check out the sample size:

This study prospectively examined the relationship between low carbohydrate diets, all-cause death, and deaths from coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease (including stroke), and cancer in a nationally representative sample of 24,825 participants of the US National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) during 1999 to 2010. Compared to participants with the highest carbohydrate consumption, those with the lowest intake had a 32% higher risk of all-cause death over an average 6.4-year follow-up. In addition, risks of death from coronary heart disease, cerebrovascular disease, and cancer were increased by 51%, 50%, and 35%, respectively.

Ah. OK. Large sample size. But what about replication and length of study?

The results were confirmed in a meta-analysis of seven prospective cohort studies with 447,506 participants and an average follow-up 15.6 years, which found 15%, 13%, and 8% increased risks in total, cardiovascular, and cancer mortality with low (compared to high) carbohydrate diets (see figure for total mortality).

A meta-analysis! This is some pretty strong evidence! I’m pretty jazzed right now… But it gets better:

SOURCES OF FUNDING: No funding.

DISCLOSURES: No disclosures to be reported related to the results of this analysis.

This study is well worth exploring. Hop to the source material to view the complete release, graphs and everything!

Closer to home, I’ve got an interesting project coming up. I think you’ll like it. Watch for the big announcement later this week… 😛

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Who has time to cook?

Not me. And I’ve had hard core chef training!

So… watch this space this week. I’ve got the BEST cheese sauce (vegan, of course) recipe that takes (literally) three minutes to make. From start to finish. Including clean up. (OK. I may be exaggerating a tiny bit here. With cleanup, it takes closer to five.)

Oh, and it doesn’t require cooking, either.

How’s that for a tease? But seriously, I’m not trying to lead you on. I’m away from my kitchen (and cookbook notebooks) and will post it in the next day or so.

But wow. It’s easy. No cooking. Simple ingredients.

I can’t wait to share it! 🙂

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What if everyone swapped out beans for beef?

Turns out, a lot would happen. For starters, it appears as though we could go a long ways towards reversing climate change.

From the Atlantic:

Recently Harwatt and a team of scientists from Oregon State University, Bard College, and Loma Linda University calculated just what would happen if every American made one dietary change: substituting beans for beef. They found that if everyone were willing and able to do that—hypothetically—the U.S. could still come close to meeting its 2020 greenhouse-gas emission goals, pledged by President Barack Obama in 2009.

Leaving all politics aside, that’s a pretty amazing sentiment! Imagine how fast we could turn things around if everyone were to swap out all meat for plant based proteins?

“I think there’s genuinely a lack of awareness about how much impact this sort of change can have,” Harwatt told me. There have been analyses in the past about the environmental impacts of veganism and vegetarianism, but this study is novel for the idea that a person’s dedication to the cause doesn’t have to be complete in order to matter. A relatively small, single-food substitution could be the most powerful change a person makes in terms of their lifetime environmental impact—more so than downsizing one’s car, or being vigilant about turning off light bulbs, and certainly more than quitting showering.

Wow. Generally speaking, mainstream articles focus on cars and showering and push veganism aside. This one actually swaps that trope…

In addition to the well-documented health benefits of a plant-based diet, this case also brings empowerment, or at least reprieve. Regardless of a person’s degree of ecoanxiety, there is some recourse in knowing how far individuals can go to make up for a regressive federal administration simply by eating beans.

Wow. Great article, eh? Be sure to read the whole thing…

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Are vegans judgmental?

My jaw generally tightens when I read headlines like that. Thing is, every vegan I’ve met has been more than kind, exceedingly flexible, and generally wonderful.

But… research says? Let’s take a peek:

A recent Gallup poll found that about 8% of Americans identified as either vegetarian (no meat) or vegan (no animal products including dairy, eggs, sometimes honey, and even avocados). Among people younger than age 50, that ratio jumps to 10%.

That’s interesting. I think that number could possibly be higher. Figuring from my own (non scientific) observations, it appears as if I’m running into way more plant based people than I did ten years ago. But I could be wrong.

The study, titled “A comparison of dietarian identity profiles between vegetarians and vegans,” surveyed 167 self-identified vegetarians and vegans.

Only 167? Seriously? That seems like a pretty small sample size. And they used “self identified” vegetarians and vegans? I see potential problems with this study. I mean really… I once spoke with a “vegan” who ate fish.

Vegans derived a greater sense of identity from their diet than vegetarians, felt more strongly aligned with other vegans, and both felt more judged by others for their dietary choices and had lower regard for omnivores than vegetarians did.

Uh… I thought the headline said vegans were the ones who were judgmental. Plus, “lower regard” doesn’t necessarily mean “judgmental,” either.

At least the study author has acknowledged some of the study’s limitations.

Daniel Rosenfeld, the study’s author, points out that it isn’t just limited in size, but also scope. His research looks at how important vegetarians and vegans believe diet is to their identities. It doesn’t investigate why or how that came to be.

Huh. How ’bout that? :/

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Need Halloween candy?

Under normal circumstances, we avoid sugar and definitely candy.

That’s because generally speaking, candy can wallop you with a truck load of calories, a lot of it isn’t vegan, AND I can’t really think of many nutritional benefits.

Enter Smarties.

Yeah. They’re not a health food. But…In fact, Smarties have been vegan since its creation nearly 70 years ago and remain proudly vegan today. According to their website Smarties.com, “There are many reasons people choose a vegan or vegetarian diet including for their health, for the environment, and for the animals. We are well aware of the importance of these issues, and we are delighted to offer a compassionate candy to satisfy the vegan sweet tooth!”

Better yet? At 25 calories per roll, you can indulge in a sweet treat on Halloween.

I’m off to the store…

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Dominion — the full documentary

Newly available on YouTube, Dominion is now available. I don’t know if this is a permanent situation, but here it is. It’s a tough ride so be aware… this reality is truly horrific.

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Do you enjoy vegan cheese?

Creamy Vegan Cheesecake

Image source: http://kite-hill.com

Then this will make you ecstatic.

According to Live Kindly, General Mills has invested $40 million in the vegan dairy company Kate Hill.

For those who love cheese and milk, but want to avoid the health, environmental, and ethical complications of dairy consumption, Kite Hill fills a space. The company produces a range of plant-based yogurts, in flavors like vanilla, peach, key lime, and strawberry, as well as vegan cream cheese in chive and jalapeño flavors. Kite Hill also offers ravioli, artisanal cheese, and almond milk.

According to the article, Kite Hill will invest in expansion of both its facility as well as its line of products.

Co-founder and Chef Tal Ronnen added that Kite Hill was born out of the desire to craft “first-rate dairy alternatives”that everyone can enjoy. Ronnen said that so far, Kite Hill’s products have exceeded even the team’s expectations. He added, “Now that we are available nationwide, we want to continue to offer people the high quality, innovative products they have come to expect from us at Kite Hill. We are showing consumers just how delicious plant-based foods can be.”

You can check out their offerings at Whole Foods, Target, Sprouts, Kroger, and Publix, and more.

Various surveys have noted that dairy products appear to be falling out of favor with many folks and this development will give us some great options when it comes to eating in a more ethical, healthy manner.

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The incredible, edible… Pea?

Oh my, how diverse peas are! First (if memory recalls) Hampton Creek used pea protein for their Just Mayo.

We use frozen peas in our version of guacamole.

Peas add a splash of color as well as an explosion of flavor to nearly every savory dish.

And now (drum roll please), Veg News reports a company called Puris has developed a product made with pea starch designed to replace gelatin in gummy candies.

“Pea starch has an interesting functionality,” PURIS President Tyler Lorenzen told NutraIngredients-USA. “We have shown that it could replace the gelatin in a gummy…now we have shown that we can replace the pectin used in gummies as well.”

How cool, eh? As someone who enjoys an occasional sweet treat, it’ll be fun to give these little gems a whirl!

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Have you tried Beyond Meat?

Beyond Meat burger

Source: Beyond Meat

We haven’t found it around here. That said, everyone over here tends to love our garbanzo burgers, I’ll post the recipe soon.

That said, Beyond Meat appears to be doing pretty well. CNBC reports the company’s preparing to go public.

The plant-based food company has tapped J.P Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Credit Suisse to help lead the IPO, said the people, who asked not to be named because the talks are private. It could not be immediately determined what valuation Beyond Meat will seek in its IPO.

Cool, eh? It’s great whenever a plant based company gets popular enough to do this. I know many dieticians warn about Beyond Meat’s fat content and such, but not everyone’s dealing with heart disease, cancer, and such. For the average person, an occasional Beyond Meat burger is likely a fine thing. The NIH agrees:

The National Institutes of Health published a report in 2012 that said regular red meat consumption could shorten consumers’ lifespan. It suggested that eaters “might help improve their health by substituting other healthy protein sources for some of the red meat they eat.”

Not everyone’s pleased with this development…

The U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, however, has taken issue with vegetarian companies calling their products meat. The group filed a petition with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in February requesting official definitions for the terms “beef” and “meat.”

Good grief. Do I sense a few sour grapes? Despite the protest, business seems brisk:

Beyond Meat has sold 25 million of its “Beyond Burgers” since 2016, according to the company. Restaurants, including TGI Friday’s, sell it on its menu. White Castle sells the Impossible Burger, which Eater magazine called “one of the country’s best fast-food burgers, period” in April.

The Los Angeles-based Beyond Meat was founded in 2009 by CEO Ethan Brown. It sells its products in more than 32,000 grocery stores, restaurants and other outlets across the U.S. Whole Foods, Kroger and Target all sell Beyond Meat items.

Doesn’t look like Beyond Meat’s going away any time soon. If I get a chance, I’ll hunt one down and report back. In the meantime, I’d love to read a few real world reviews…

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Truffles!

I suck at photography but oy, these were good!

Basic chocolate cake (from our fabulous Mix cookbook dipped in melted chocolate chips. The soft inner core juxtaposed with the crunchy chocolate shell felt particularily fetching.

I baked a few in my silicone cake pop sheet, others (the square ones) were in the brownie bite pan.

Both were amazing! But, I felt the ratio of cake to chocolate shell seemed a bit more satisfying with the brownie bites combination. But, others may disagree… 🙂

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