Wednesday, June 8, 2011

a confession

I have a relationship with my BBQ sauce. It is delicious, and I love it a lot. But…it also contains high fructose corn syrup and modified corn starch among other things. Now, I’m pretty sure a couple tablespoons per day won’t kill me, but I’m always up for a challenge, and reducing the number of processed products I consume is a constant process.

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Homemade BBQ sauce is surprisingly easy to make (recipe here), and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out; I might use a little less smoked paprika next time. I also added pineapple concentrate for a little sweetness.

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I made a huge batch of this salad last week and ate it pretty much every day. It is fantastic to have a giant bowl of vegetables at your disposal after work…makes it easy to sneak in your veggie servings each day.

[In the mix]: broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, olives, cucumbers, wild rice, and homemade Italian dressing (olive oil, vinegar, Italian spices).

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I also made almond milk ice cubes for my coffee; I normally add a little almond milk anyway, so now it won’t be completely diluted just because it is iced coffee.

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Whenever I feel like life’s getting a little too measured, I do something random like making wall art out of paper towel tubes (design sponge idea). At the rate of my paper towel usage (probably not the most green friendly), this piece has the potential to go far…

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In other news, it has been incredibly hot here lately, causing two temporary power outages at the hospital (thank goodness I was NOT in the middle of writing a chart note), and making me want to eat ice cream for dinner.

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What are some things you’ve done lately to make life easier…or entertaining?

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Monday, June 6, 2011

nutritional yeast and B12

Good thoughts on the USDA’s rollout of My Plate. Andrea made a really good point; the plate does NOT encourage non-processed food over processed food, but because the food industry is so huge, I have to say I’m not surprised.
I went to the Jolly Pumpkin, an Ann Arbor craft brewery with some friends this weekend. Definitely a fun place; they have a rooftop deck that is perfect for summer nights. And they use ingredients from sustainable farmers, organic growers and artisan producers, which is pretty fantastic.
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[photo via b.rostad]
Sunday is always a big food prep day because I have pretty much zero energy to pack lunches or cook during the week. I experimented with this recipe for tahini curried carrot salad.
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I’m not crazy about sweet vegetables, so I had to do a little improvising. I left out the raisins and added some spiralized cukes (this is the spiralizer I have). I think next time I’d leave out some of the maple syrup, too.
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The recipe also calls for nutritional yeast, which is big in the vegan world because it contains vitamin B12.
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Vitamin B12:
  • required for proper red blood cell formation, neurological function, and DNA synthesis; plays a role in fat and protein metabolism
  • bound to protein in animal products and is released by the activity of hydrochloric acid and gastric protease in the stomach; however synthetic vitamin B12 (aka that in nutritional yeast) is already in free form and doesn’t require separation
  • the body needs very little B12 on a daily basis; B12 is stored in the liver, so unless you have been a vegan for a long time without supplementation or have digestive issues or kidney disease, you don’t likely have a deficiency.
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  • amounts listed on a nutrition label are based on 6 µg/day; the nutritional yeast I have contains 40% of the daily value for B12 or 2.4 µg per tablespoon.
  • it is beneficial to get B12 from a variety of fortified sources because absorption can vary.
Do you eat animal products? If not, where do you get your B12?
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Saturday, June 4, 2011

salad season + goodbye food guide pyramid

Things are starting to heat up around here, meaning many of us say goodbye to hot soups and hello to salads. I’m more than slightly excited about the variety of vegetables and fruit coming into season pretty soon.

[ideas]:

spiralized salads: cukes, carrots, red onion, feta cheese + balsamic vinaigrette. you can get a spiralizer here.

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waldorf salad: try the vegan-friendly homemade mayo.

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classic potato salad: picnic staple…and not like the weird potato salad at the grocery store that looks unnaturally yellow. ugh.

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black bean salad: tomatoes, corn, black beans, cucumbers, red onion, and cilantro + olive oil and red wine vinegar.

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apple and cherry salad: this one is a hit at dinner parties; the dressing is pretty fantastic.

joanie's salad

cherry tomato couscous salad: adding whole grains to vegetables is an easy way to make a side dish into a main course.

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5 week fennel salad: this is called such because I made it 5 weeks in a row after discovering the recipe. It’s pretty addicting.

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And I’m sure that most of you have seen My Plate, which replaces the former (and incredibly confusing) My Pyramid.

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While it’s not perfect, I think it’s a big improvement over My Pyramid. At least vegetables and fruit are given more of a presence. However, I like this model by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) even better.

pcrm plate

Half of the plate is composed of vegetables, which I think would be very beneficial for most of the population. You’ll also notice that there is not a protein group, which is due to the group’s conclusion that animal products are not needed for a healthful diet, and observation that protein can be obtained from grains and vegetables. I agree with this; I don’t have a problem with including meat in moderation, but as factory farming makes ethical meat less available, alternative sources of protein are definitely more attractive and affordable (read my thoughts on protein here and here).

ag_subsidies

This report by the PCRM is pretty interesting. Although the government is encouraging us to eat more servings of fruit and vegetables, more than 60 percent of agricultural subsidies in recent history have directly and indirectly supported meat and dairy production. Less than 1 percent have gone to fruits and vegetables.

So in other words, eat more vegetables and fruit but don’t expect the government to make them more accessible or affordable. Go figure.

Thoughts on the new plate? And any good salad recipes? I’m always expanding my recipe file in the name of creative vegetable dishes…

Hope it is warm + sunny wherever you are…

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