Tag Archives: nutrition

Why the fuss over iron?

During my Diet Tech program we saw a big fuss over iron and as a vegan I’ve seen a big fuss over iron, should there really be such a fuss? Well yes, actually there should be.

Image courtesy of Pixomar / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Pixomar / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Iron is a trace mineral that aids in carrying oxygen throughout the blood cells and in metabolic reactions in all cells. There are two types of iron, heme that you get from animal flesh and non-heme that you get from plants. Iron deficiency is a real problem in the U.S. (it also happens to be the most common nutrient deficiency on the planet) and not just for those who abstain from animal products. Approximately more than 1.6 billion people have iron deficiency anemia, may of them preschool age children and expecting moms. Iron absorption is key to preventing an iron deficiency. While the heme iron is better absorbed dietary factors could inhibit some absorption, these include phytates, some vegetable proteins, calcium, and polyphenols.1

So does this mean that you shouldn’t have anything with your iron-rich foods? Nope, cause that’s going to get old really fast. If anything, you should have a variety of iron-rich foods, and make sure to eat them with a vitamin C source. I love to put lemon juice on my dandelion greens. Raw peppers are also a great source of vitamin C, they go very nicely on a spinach salad.

The iron needs for vegetarians are higher than for non-vegetarians. Since people that abstain from meats are not getting as much heme iron, the more absorbable form, they need to up their intake of non-heme iron (plant-based) by about 1.8 times more. The DRI of iron for men is 15mg and 33mg for premenopausal women. Good sources of plant-based iron include: fortified cereals, spinach, sea vegetables, beans, tofu, nuts and seeds.2

Iron deficiency, symptoms include fatigue, lethargy, decreased mental alertness and pale lips/gums, however, the one thing you should NEVER EVER do is self-diagnose or treat iron deficiency on your own. Is there such a thing as iron toxicity – you bet there is and guess what? The symptoms are similar to deficiency.

So if you suspect you may have any kind of deficiency please go to your practitioner of choice and get the appropriate tests.

Sources:
1. Understanding Nutrition by Whitney & Rolfes, 12th edition, 2011.
2. Vegan for Life by Norris & Messina, 2011.

Fitness

Some of you may have noticed that I have started posting my fitness regimen on my social media. I usually get like this a few weeks before a birthday – you know, gotta look good… But fitness has so many more benefits than just looking good.

"Dumbbell With Water And Towel" by Naypong

“Dumbbell With Water And Towel” by Naypong

According to the Mayo Clinic there are at least 7 benefits to being physically active and they include:

Weight control
Improving health to fight disease
Improving mood
Boosting energy
Better sleep
Better sex life
Fun

Exercise also helps raise HDL, the good cholesterol and it can help strengthen your body. I’ve noticed my knees and back don’t hurt as much as they used to.

I really enjoy doing interval workouts – I use the Interval Timer free app to help me keep time (check out my review of it here). The fact that I can control the workout keeps it fresh for me since I am always switching up the exercises. Another tip: great music can make or break a good workout – make sure you have tunes that will get your butt moving.

Here’s the workout I am doing today:

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Everyone needs me time, make your workout or physical activity time non-negotiable. What do you do to keep yourself fit?

Bullet Proof Soul

Sitting here listening to Sade’s Bullet Proof Soul


and thinking to myself how much I love that song. And what that phrase means to me, although my version does not have anything to do with a spurned lover.

We all need to have a bullet proof soul. We need to have the ability to deflect the negative vibes that come off from other people, intentional or not. People have bad days, yes, bad weeks, yes and sometimes even a bad month or two, mine kind of all happened in 2010…

The energy vampires, what I like to call them as they suck the energy out of you, don’t need to make you their next victim. I don’t mean for you to cut these people out of your life entirely, sometimes you can’t. You need to deal with them in small doses or pawn them off on other people to limit your exposure to them.

For the ones you can cut off, it might seem like a mean thing to do, however if they leave you feeling more exhausted after dealing with them, well that might tell you the time to cut ties has come.

The next song on the album, Cherish the Day always reminds me of this drag queen in NYC, and that my friends is a story for another day…

Oh How I Missed You

Oh my lovelies I have missed you so much. This summer was a tad busier than I expected, not an excuse I know, but I promise to fill you in on all the fun this summer.

I took a few classes over the summer which puts me on track to graduate in May, very excited! We also fostered three dogs

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Bert

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Pip

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Jordan

and ended up keeping one of them! Meet Jordan, the newest member of our family.

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Jared & Jordan

I thought I would have an amazing garden this summer, unfortunately school and work kept me busy. Nonetheless, we got some nice tomatoes

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Tomatoes

A pumpkin! I don’t really remember planting this, it may be a kabucha that morphed into a giant, hope it tastes OK.

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Pumpkin

My peppers have done well, I didn’t think they would survive the transplantation and they took forever to bear fruit.

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Peppers

And a sunflower!

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Sunflower

I have also enjoyed eating the dandelion and the plantains that have popped up in the vegetable garden. I don’t pull them anymore, I now cut the young tender leaves and eat them as salad greens. I only wish we had some purslane growing, we used to have tons.

I started volunteering at a food pantry, everyone should do this. It gives you a different perspective on the whole feeding the hungry issue. Remember people need food all year long, not just during the holidays. If you think only lazy people and illegals need food assistance then think again. I see people that work hard but don’t make enough, people that have lost jobs and can’t find work, old pensioners and young families. There but for the grace of god… It could be any one of us out there. OK rant over.

We had our annual Maine vacation and the drive up

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Luke & Jordan

Jordan even went in the water at the little beach!

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Jordan at the beach

The boys got to spend time with the grandparents

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Dad H & Luke

In September I started the last year of my DTR program and a new job at a local hospital, the first steps in the process for my RD – yippee!

Of course I have to include a photo of my princess!

Lola

Lola

I hope all of you have had a great summer! Now on to Halloween – woo hoo!

My thoughts on the Food Industry

The development and marketing methods of the food industry have drastically changed over the last seventy-five years. The spokes that make up the wheel that is the food industry works together to keep it a billion dollar business and like any business there is pressure for growth and making the bottom line is its main goal. Unfortunately, what suffers is public health.

Source: Guardian UK

With advances in food science companies have the means to pinpoint the exact formulation at which the food product has reached maximum satiety of the general population. It would be a foolish food company that would not create foods to taste as pleasing as possible. By formulating foods this way they are intentionally created to make it easier to overeat (Moss 2013).

While on the GMO front the industry has been pouring millions of dollars to block labeling efforts, the momentum of public awareness is putting pressure on local and state governments to begin labeling initiatives. With increased consumer demand labeling will most likely be required in the next five to ten years. Maine is the most recent state to tackle GMO labeling legislation with it passing in their house. Although it is a small victory since the bill will also have to pass in their senate and a final vote in the house (Stone 2013).

The states that have instituted ag gag laws are doing so under pressure of the businesses that supply food, by prosecuting whistleblowers there will effectively be no regulation changes in animal agriculture processes. Since the animal agriculture industry is largely self-regulated they are not likely to report cases of animal abuse and improper handling that can lead to foodborne illnesses (“PBIS Non Compliance Reports for Plants requested in FOIA 2011B00258 for 03J01 and 04C04 1st Shift Procedures from 3/1/11 B 8/31/11”. Table). One of the largest recalls of beef in U.S. history was the result of an undercover investigation done by an animal welfare group (Martin 2008). The ag gag laws are specifically intended to prohibit these kinds of investigations.

Marketing to children has been an issue since the 1970s. With a government that will support the industry it has been difficult to make sufficient change. While the industry has made some improvements in marketing to children on television there is less incentive to restrict online and mobile marketing to children (Nestle 2007).

Works Cited
Martin, Andrew. “Largest Recall of Ground Beef Is Ordered.” The New York Times [New York] 18 Feb. 2008: n. pag. Web. 12 June 2013.

Moss, Michael. Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us. New York, NY: Random House, 2013. Print.

Nestle, Marion. Food Politics: How the Food Industry Influences Nutrition and Health. 2007 ed. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2007. Print.

“PBIS NonCompliance Reports for Plants requested in FOIA 2011B00258 for 03J01 and 04C04 1st Shift Procedures from 3/1/11 B 8/31/11”. Table. Foodandwaterwatch.org. Foodandwaterwatch.org, n.d. Web. 12 June 2013. <http://documents.foodandwaterwatch.org/doc/PBISResponseRecords.pdf&gt;.

Stone, Matthew. “Maine House overwhelmingly supports GMO labeling requirement.” Bangor Daily News 11 June 2013: n. pag. Web. 12 June 2013. <http://bangordailynews.com/2013/06/11/politics/maine-house-overwhelmingly-supports-gmo-labeling-requirement/&gt;.

What are you doing?

What are you doing? That’s what I keep asking myself, especially around finals time. I get a kick when people tell me that I don’t like change or take risks… I guess quitting a decent job, ergo a serious lifestyle change, to go back to school full-time to do something completely different doesn’t seem like a change or risky.

"Mountain Climber " by Sura Nualpradid

“Mountain Climber “
by Sura Nualpradid

I don’t have much to write about today. I am prepping for finals and end of term projects. I’ve learned so much since September. I learned that there is a hell of a lot of nutrition information that I don’t know. That there are a lot of people out there that are not ready to make changes – real changes that can be life or death. I see them every week at the hospital I am doing my supervised field experience at.

Change is never easy but when you are ready and see that it can be for the best it can be the most amazing feeling ever. I know that not all change feels like it is for the best, in those situations you have to make the most of it – you know, how you are in charge of your destiny. When I lost a job 2 years ago I decided to volunteer at a local animal shelter –  although that change wasn’t for the best, one of the outcomes was positive.  While I was very fortunate to get a new job within a couple of weeks I am now happy to be back at that shelter.

Now that I think about it losing that job started the trajectory that lead to where I am now, maybe it was the best thing that ever happened to me. So the lesson here is that while you are in the midst of change it may not seem like the right (or sane) place to be, it could be the best thing that ever happens to you.

Since I have been busy with school I don’t have an original recipe to post. I do want to share a wonderful stuffed pepper recipe garnished with shiitake bacon that I used for a demo in one of my culinary courses.  I love the fact that the chef that teaches the class that loves real bacon found this bacon to be “impressive”. Enjoy!

Spicy Vegan Stuffed Pepper with Shiitake Bacon

Source: VegNews Nov 10 2008 (my birthday!)
Recipe by Robin Robertson

Source: VegNews

6 red bell peppers
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 16-ounce can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup tomato salsa
1/4 cup peanut butter
2 tablespoons minced canned jalapeños
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon light brown sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup apple juice or water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Slice off the tops of the peppers, reserve and set aside. Remove the seeds and membranes and discard. Plunge peppers into a pot of boiling water and cook until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Remove from the water and drain, cut side down. Chop the pepper tops and set aside.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and reserved chopped pepper tops and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the onion mixture with the rice, beans, salsa, peanut butter, jalapeños, parsley, sugar, salt, and pepper to taste. Mix well.
Fill the pepper cavities evenly with the rice mixture, packing tightly. Place upright in a baking dish. Add the apple juice to the baking dish, cover tightly, and bake until the peppers are tender and the stuffing is hot, about 40 minutes.

Shiitake Bacon

Source: Alex Jamieson

2 cups thinly sliced shiitake caps
3 tablespoons  olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 360 F. In a bowl mix mushrooms with oil and salt, make sure they are all coated well. Spread the sliced shiitake caps on a sheet pan covered with a piece of parchment paper. Bake for 40-50 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, until crispy. Remove from oven and eat while warm. You can also make this in a dehydrator, I don’t know how long but I would check it after 2 hours.

Have a heart

What I actually mean is have a healthy heart. Heart disease is the number one killer in the world, both for men and women. Here  are 3 easy tips you can do to keep the pumper primped:

1. Exercise

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Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Just 30 – 60 minutes a day of moving can help the tinker tink.

2. Mind/Body Practice

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Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

According to Dr. Dean Ornish, his patients saw a reduction in their risk for cardiovascular events. Part of his treatment includes stress reducing practices. Now he had the sickest of the sickest in his study. All you need is a few minutes a day of quieting the mind. Counting breath and guided meditations are great for beginners.

3. Love Your Fat

Free image courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The 1980’s was the beginning of the low-fat craze, it was also the beginning of the obesity epidemic. Coincidence – I think not. Who doesn’t remember Snackwells Low-Fat cookies? Yeah I can eat as many as I want ’cause they’re LOW-FAT! I remember when nuts and seeds were evil, and now they reign supreme. Flaxseed (ground!) and walnuts are great sources of Omega-3 Fatty Acids.  Stick to the heart healthy fats and dump anything that says hydrogenated on the label – 0 grams Trans Fat means bupkis as the food industry can have .5g of trans fat and still say it “trans fat-free”.

I know it’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day minutia but using the strategies above are a few things you can do to stay in the healthy heart range.