At last – Research into nudging adolescents into eating more plant-based nutrition.

Just seen this article that some research is going to be undertaken by Leeds Metropolitan University on nudging adolescents to eat more plant-based nutrition.

Ok so it’s funded by the alpro foundation who obviously have a vested interest but good to finally see some UK research being undertaken.

http://www.leedsmet.ac.uk/news/research-grant-to-investigate-healthy-eating-behaviour-in-adolescents28102013.htm

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Live longer on legumes and the longer you eat them, the less farting you’ll do!

I really enjoy his articles and here’s another that points to legume consumption and increased lifespan.

So take a look and don’t be worried about flatulance – see what he has to say on that too!

link to article

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What’s in your salad sandwich?

I love a sandwich. Satisfying, wholesome bread encasing a tasty and delicious filling.

Given all my travels and my dietary requirements, I quite often order a salad sarnie.

Today I happened to need a sandwich before heading to the airport and ordered a salad sandwich on brown bread with no meat, fish, dairy.

This is what I got-

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I was so disappointed given here I was in Dublin in Ireland. The home of delicious soda bread, and wonderful fresh produce. I also got a small bowl of luke warm chips which I did not want. This was accompanied by a teeny tiny “side salad” of watercress, 2 thin slices each of tomato and gherkin. Topped off with sugar-laden tomato ketchup. Hmmm.

What do you put in your salad sandwiches?

Here’s some ideas:
– lettuces – any and every type
– grated carrots
– cucumber
– tomato
– sliced radish
– beetroot
– rocket/arugala
– lambs lettuce
– watercress
– cress
– shisho
– micro greens
– herbs, such as Basil, Coriander and Parsley
– apple
– Kale
– beans or bean spreads
– no added fat hummus
– mustard
– nut butters
– celery
– thinly sliced leeks
– onions
– spring onions/scallions
– roasted veggies
– sliced courgettes
– olives
– chives
– sliced dill pickles/gherkins
– shredded cabbage – red, white or green
– plant-based mayonnaise
– sprouts (bean sprouts, alfalfa, radish)
– water chestnuts
– bamboo shoots
– Chinese leaves

What else?
– sliced smoked tofu?
– mock meats?
– veggie spreads and pates

What have I forgotten?

Any other ideas or favourites?

I haven’t named the hotel concerned but suffice to say that I shared my opinion on my lunch with them along with the enclosed photo. They are “looking into the matter” and “having words with the kitchen.”

I’d be happy to give them some consulting advice on their menu and how to cater more imaginatively for the increasing demand for healthy food.

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What is wrong with the British Heart Foundation?

I am mad.  No, I’m not mad, I am seething.

I just read the attached article on the Guardian online  – http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2013/oct/20/food-portion-sizes My blood pressure is sky high as a result.  I’d never really noticed before, but surely this organisation cannot be blind to the growing body of evidence relating to the link between chronic disease such as heart disease and lifestyle choices, particularly the foods that we eat?

 

Extensive research and their resultant publications such as the China Study, by T. Colin Campbell http://www.thechinastudy.com/ and Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell B. Esselstyn, Jnr http://www.heartattackproof.com/ clearly demonstrate that the BHF should be putting its weight behind promoting lifestyle changes and encouraging those who use it’s resources to take responsibility for their health.  Instead it lambastes the food industry in the UK for the portion sizes and make out that we as consumers are merely victims.

 

I have little or no regard for the UK Food Industry and whilst the article makes some valid points, the author is surely missing the key point that it is not how much you eat, rather it is what you choose to eat.  The BHF eating guidlines are woefully inadequate – see http://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/prevention/healthy-eating.aspx.  Courses such as the Happy Heart course provide the guidance to patients that the BHF is missing – see http://www.happyheartcourse.com/

 

I wonder why this major UK charity does not look at the growing body of evidence and suggest following a plant-based diet?  Surely even if they were skeptical of the results of Dr’s Campbell, Ornish, Barnard, McDougal, Esselstyn, Lederman etc collective works, they could see that promoting a no-added fat, whole-food, plant-based diet could not harm their patients and may just save their lives.  Are they perhaps motivated by some other force?  I am not a conspiracy theorist, however I do wonder if the BHF would not promote such lifestyle changes as it might just upset some of those large and powerful pharmaceutical companies who make such a lot of their revenues from the statin drugs that are widely prescribed across the UK?  If not, then why does the BHF not look at the evidence and promote a WFPB diet to it’s followers?

 

I wonder and hope that members of the BHF team are attending the North American Plant Based Nutrition Health Care Conference in Naples, Florida next week.  http://www.pbnhc.com/  Sadly, I doubt it.

BHF – Please wake-up, stop going on about portion size and start talking about WHAT PEOPLE SHOULD EAT to not only PREVENT but REVERSE their heart disease.

 

Now that would be news that the Guardian could share with the nation!

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Mr Plantalicious

How did I come to this? My Plant-Based Nutrition Journey….

One of the things that I’m regularly asked, is how did I come to a point where I made a decision to adopt a no added fat, whole food, plant-based diet? I can tell you, that this was not something where I just woke up one day and decided to eat nothing but plants.

I really love my food, in fact over the course of my lifetime it became quite an obsession for me. If I wasn’t talking about it, cooking it or trying to fight the effects of it through diet or exercise, I was probably dreaming about it!

For most of my life, I’ve fought a battle with my weight, whilst not really acknowledging that the resultant pounds and stones that I carry around are a direct result of the food choices and portion sizes of what I have eaten over the years. I tried most diets: The Cambridge Diet, Weight Watchers (numerous times), South Beach, Atkins, Glycaemic Index etc I would lose weight; some of which I had probably seen before and then like an unwelcome but familiar old friend, it would return invariably in a greater quantity than before.

I tried more radical solutions such as Xenical. I can remember being in La Jolla in California staying at the hotel for a company event. As usual these events involved a good deal of eating and drinking throughout the period of our stay. I recall walking down the corridor and realising to my shame that I had soiled myself as what these tablets effectively do is to make the fat bypass your stomach and exit through your bowels. Pretty depressing stuff!

For several years I went to OA. Overeaters Anonymous. I met some very lovely people but after several years I discovered that for me it only served to reinforce negative eating habits.

I also spent a small fortune on Paul McKenna’s “I can make you slim” programme. For me it should have been called “I can make you poor and fat” as that is what happened after I spent several sessions with a certain “Paul McKenna official counsellor”. Whilst I am a firm believer in hypnotherapy this guy could not hypnotise me. After a number of sessions he argued with me that despite my putting on weight his very, very expensive techniques were working. I’m certain that he appreciated the contributions I made toward the refurbishment of his east London home.

After many more years of other diets including Atkins and South Beach and my own hybrid combinations, I was fatter than ever. My health was on a trajectory to chronic disease. The most likely being heart disease as that was what the men in our family typically had to look forward to in later life. I guess we are genetically pre-disposed to it.

In 2006, I discovered LighterLife, the meal replacement VLCD (Very Low Calorie Diet). The one endorsed by Pauline Quirke. It was just before my partner and I were due to do our Civil Partnership. I wanted to look good in the photographs and to feel good as we celebrated our commitment to one another after 21 years together. As a result, I followed the LighterLife plan for about 9 months, in total losing somewhere in the region of 100 lbs. This is a huge and dramatic weight loss, but at the time whilst I felt good in the photographs and at the civil partnership, I kind of knew it was unsustainable. LighterLife provides around 560 calories a day during the main phase of the programme through bars, soups and shakes. No “real food” at all. You then reintroduce food gradually after some basic cognitive behavioural therapy. I do not doubt that for some this works well and that the founders are sincere, although it did feel to me like once they get you hooked you have to keep going back for more products to maintain your weight loss.

Over the course of the next 5 years from 2007 to 2012, I slowly but surely put back all of the weight that I had lost when on LighterLife and more besides. I went to an event run by weight loss coach Gillian Riley. It was a good event and at the end she talked about some other resources and materials that we might be interested in. One of these, was the China Study. a book by T Colin Campbell. At the time, it seemed like quite a weighty and worthy tome which didn’t excite me and so I ignored it.

The next “expert” I followed was Patrick Holford. This signalled a small but significant shift in my diet and weight loss journey. A shift in focus away from fat but to the quality of what I was choosing to fuel my body with. I think it was a kick back against those powdered shakes and manufactured bars to proper food.

It was reading Patrick’s books and attending one if his weekend courses that stimulated my interest in nutrition and what I was choosing to eat. My diet improved somewhat but I was still overweight.

I cannot recall now how i found out about Dr Joel Fuhrman. An American doctor of medicine and former figure skater who uses nutrition to heal his patients. I read “Eat to Live” by Joel Fuhrman which stimulated my interest in eating healthier food, but whilst I changed my diet, I was eating a lot of nuts, seeds, avocados and oils.

I went to see the chap behind “Fat Families” – Steve Miller. I briefly worked with him, but again to no avail. Having some chap moan at me for overrating was never going to work. It was similar to all the hypnotherapy I’d had. I just fell asleep and when I woke up my appetite was the same as usual. My last diet was The Gabriel Method. A lot of what John says makes sense to me, but it did not result in significant weight changes. What it did was to emphasise that the quality of what I put in my mouth was as important as how much food I consumed.

Around the same time that I stopped going to Overeaters Anonymous, I had a major breakthrough. That was that I often ate for emotional reasons! Not the most mind-boggling discovery. Most people experience some form of emotional eating. What I discovered was the link (for me) between self-esteem and food intake. I had experienced a number if significant major emotional events in my life that had an effect on how I ate and saw food. My personal theory is that this is a contributory factor with many others who consistently overeat.

A key and valuable resource for me at this time was Nathaniel Branden’s book – The 6 Pillars of Self Esteem. This helped me see myself in a more positive and caring way. I do think that self esteem is one of the critical elements in weight loss. How can you care for your health if you don’t care for yourself?

Sometime later, through Dr Joel Fuhrman, I discovered more about the China Study, and I started to get interested in ways in which I could change my diet and improve my health. I suddenly made a further shift away from the notion that I needed to lose weight in order to be healthy to a mindset where improving my health would naturally result in a corresponding change in my weight. This took a while to really embed in my consciousness but I started eating a more healthy diet although at the time I was travelling back and forth across the Atlantic for work. I commuted from London to Toronto for 2 and half years travelling regularly sometimes every other week back and forth in economy. In 2012, I had a year of illness. This culminated in taking 6 weeks off with a very severe bout of viral pneumonia. I contracted the pneumonia on a plane journey across to Toronto and it was diagnosed some days later whilst in San Francisco. I had to be taken onto the plane and off again in a wheelchair. I was unable to walk any distance, I had no energy and I felt dreadful.

To get myself well, I started researching what I could do in terms of my diet. I had the mentality that I couldn’t really starts to exercise and build strength in my body until I’d lost weight. I did some juicing, and really got into how juicing could supply my body with the nutrients in a concentrated form that I desperately needed. Juicing is a little bit like lighter life, whilst it’s good in terms of helping you for a short period of time, it’s not something that is easy to incorporate into your life full-time as a permanent lifestyle change.

On one of my many trolls around the Internet I found T Colin Campbell again and the course being offered online through E Cornell University. The course wasn’t cheap, my wonderful partner, Mr G bought it for me has a gift for my 51st birthday. I can’t thank him enough, taking the course really changed my life. I will be ever grateful to Mr G who bought me the course as a present.

When I enrolled for the course my tutor mention that she had also taken the course and that now following it both she and her family were entirely eating a plant-based diet. I can remember thinking “oh yeah that’s really interesting, you stupid woman, shut-up and just register me for the course”. I did the course over a period of a number of months and during this time I did quite radically change my diet and introduce many more plant-based dishes. What I didn’t do was to commit to this as a way of life or even see it as a long-term solution to changing my health destiny.

In April 2013, having completed the course. I travelled to the US for work and when I was planning my trip I recall seeing an email the related to an event being held in Orange County the weekend after my company conference. I thought nothing of it until I remembered that it was by the people who had created the “Engine 2 Diet” and who were behind the film “Forks Over Knives”. I looked into attending the event, and managed to snaffle the last room available at the hotel. I can remember very clearly flying to Los Angeles, picking up a hire car and driving down to Orange County. The event was being held at the Hyatt hotel. When I arrived, I questioned my sanity as to what I was doing there and what benefit I would get full spending all this money and time.

I also expected the event which was called “Farms to Forks” being full of rather earnest hippy type vegans who would drive me bonkers. That weekend was quite an incredible experience. It started with the huge evening banquet on the Friday night as the hotel staff in the kitchens had all been trained in the plant-based cuisine. The food was delicious and there was just so much of it and it was all plant-based. The food was vibrant healthy and contributed to a sense of well-being that I have never felt before in my life. Even after only 3 days of being in the incredible environment, I was changed. I’d finally found something that just seem to work. I felt good, I felt light and I felt healthy. I felt “clean”. An odd word maybe but that is how the food consumed seemed to me. Clean and fresh. Nourishing my body rather than placing a burden on my body. Okay so I had not suddenly become size 0 overnight! But I felt clean and I felt that my body would respond given the foods I was consuming.

I came home, back to the UK made the decision to a predominantly plant-based food circa and 95 to 98% commitment. I made it a 95 to 98% commitment as I didn’t want to feel that I was on diet.

This has been an amazing process for me and it continues to amaze me. What is interesting is to find that my weight has reduced, my gym performance improved, my blood pressure has reduced as has my cholesterol level has reduced in the 6 months since I started eating and no added fat whole food plant-based diet.

My father had a major coronary aged 46. He died aged 61. I’m planning to give myself the best chance to live to a ripe old age, or at least to have the best quality time health wise. Watch this space for updates on my journey and my progress as I try to alter the course of my health destiny.

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fake beef

VegFest London – “Fake Foods” – Do you eat them?

I attended VegFest London this weekend. I spent a lot of time going around the many stall holders exhibiting their products.

There were many opportunities to sample foods throughout the event, but as I wandered around picking up a sample here and there, a thought struck me.

Why are there so many “fake foods”? I even found a stall selling fake duck! The longest queues at food stalls selling foods to consume on site were for “sausages” and other meat substitutes.

I took a look at a number of these products and very many of them had high levels of fats and salt. They were served in bread made with refined flour. Hardly healthy but I guess that this clearly illustrates the difference between a vegan diet where these things are consumed with my no-added fats, whole-food, plant-based diet.

What I personally found depressing was that these products claim that they are healthy and good for you, just the same claims that the mainstream food industry does with its food-like products that it pushes on an unsuspecting public.

So I took a leaf out of Jeff Novick’s book, and on the second day went around looking at these products to see the percentage of fat they contained.

Many contained fat levels in excess of 30%, some as high as 60%!

A few, contained around 10% fat which I find acceptable. A number of wheat meat products (from Italy and Germany) had around 10% calories from fat. I make my own wheat meat using vital wheat gluten and do not add any fat but can see why these manufacturers would do so, as it enhances taste, texture and mouth feel.

Fake cheese are the worst culprits, containing very high levels of fat. The fat they contain are invariably lower than their dairy based cousins, but be careful if you choose these and maybe only have them as an occasional treat if at all.

Mr. G tells me that the one thing he misses when eating plant-based is a slice of cheese or two for supper. My plan is to try to make more no added fat plant-based cheese but for now, he has these as a treat from time to time.

I also bought some of the wheat meat from a company from Italy which cleverly adds lentils to the vital wheat gluten to make a superbly textured and delicious product that I can use to make “meat like meals”.

I think these products have an occasional place in my diet as they represent a convenient and quick meal option.

For example – Last night I sautéed some of the “meat” in a dry pan with some spices and served it with no added fat roast potatoes, slow-cooked peppers with capers and a creamy mushroom brandy and tarragon sauce. Quick and utterly delicious.

Do you buy and consume these “fake” foods? Let me know why and when. I’d love to hear from you.

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salad

Tomatoes on a Toast

Didn’t really want to have a big meal but needed something tasty, easy and cheap for supper.

When I was a kid, we’d have “something” on toast. Spaghetti or beans on toast were our childhood staples. One of the dishes that I loved was tomatoes on toast.

We used to cook them by frying the tomatoes in oil and adding some sugar to sweeten them. Hmmm. Not exactly healthy.

So here is my new version.

Ingredients:
2-4 slices of whole wheat bread (we had some sourdough bread), per person.

Lots of tomatoes, chopped (min of 4-6 per person)

For the cooking liquid:

1 Tsp Veggie Stock Powder

1-2 Cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed/chopped

1 Cup of water

2 Tsp Tamari

2 Tsp Balsamic Vinegar

1/2 Tsp Dried Mixed Herbs or Herbs de Provence

2 Tsp Tomato Sauce (optional)

Sweetener – 2  Tsp Agave or Maple Syrup

Salt or Herbamare and Pepper

Garnish

2 Tsp Nutritional Yeast

2 Tsp Chopped Parsley

Method:

In a blender, food processor or using a stick/hand blender, whizz up the cooking liquid.

Place the liquid in a pan and bring to the boil, boil hard to reduce to about half the volume and to concentrate the flavours.  It should be getting thick and syrupy before you add the tomatoes.

Add the chopped tomatoes, simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile toast or griddle the bread.

Serve the tomatoes on the toast, and sprinkle over the nutritional yeast and the chopped parsley.

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vegan-underground1-lst112354

The best of VegFest London – in my (ever so not) humble opinion!

So this weekend, I spent most of my weekend inside part of the Olympia exhibition centre in West London at the first London Veg Fest – http://london.vegfest.co.uk/

It was a huge event, with loads of stalls covering lots of topics from Raw Food and Vegan Meet Ups to Urban Foxes and Vegan Ice Cream plus everything In between.  Two food theatres for demos, two cinemas, discussion areas, talks, and a kids zone.  Even a bicycle powered smoothie maker – damn, I should have taken a pic of that!

The event was attended by almost 10,000 people over the weekend and showcased the best in vegetarian and vegan lifestyles and products with some music and comedy thrown in.

Why did I go? 

Since starting on my plant-based journey to improve my health, I wanted to see what else is “out there” in terms of plant-based nutrition in the UK, as much of my contact and experience has been with the plant-based community in the US.  I also wanted to do some research for my blog.

What did I find?

I found a wide diversity of offerings as i said earlier.  I found very little specifically “no-added fat, whole-food, plant-based nutrition”, which really surprised and disappointed me.  I think that maybe because we already have strong veggie and vegan communities here in the UK, and that the research into how plant-based eating can improve your health, has mainly been conducted from the USA.

What was good?

There were many good things about the event.  One of the best for me was talking to other attendees about their reasons for attending.  They all seemed to be enjoying the event and getting a lot out of it.

I found many people passionate about their products or what they are doing and here are my highlights….

  • Inspiral -who are a North London eco cafe/bar and create the yummiest kale chips – http://www.inspiralled.net/
  • Nama – Another North London business, this time a raw food company with delicious sweet treats http://www.namafoods.com/#
  • Chad Sarno – A terrific highly skilled chef who is taking plant-based culinary education to the next level through Rouxbe.com.  I learned a lot from watching his demos, which hopefully will show in my upcoming recipes.  Find out more about this man at http://chadsarno.com/
  • Another passionate chef – This time the adorable Rebecca Kane who presented some delicious raw food recipes in her cheeky and engaging style- http://www.shineonraw.com/
  • The Heavenly Cake Company – A South London team, from Sunny Sydenham, making the most amazing and delicious cakes from wholewheat spelt flour which are egg free, dairy free, gluten free and sugar free!  I loved their work so much, that i bought Mr G a Red Velvet Cake which he is devouring with relish!  www.TheHeavenlyCakeCompany.co.uk
  • Sutra Kitchen – London’s first veggie and vegan cooking school.
  • Muscolo di grano – Roast Wheat  – I am not one for fake meats but this is good and low in fat too. They make the most delicious “wheat meat”.  Basically it is Wheat+Lentils=Italian Culinary Genius.  I make my own wheat meat, but this is just superb.  www.muscolodigrano.com
  • Livesey Bros – Fungi Fusions – a great company providing amazing mushrooms.  They sell mushroom packs such as the Quattro Fungi – for dishes like risottos & pasta, Fungi Wok – for stir fries and oriental cuisine and Fungi Ensalada – for Mediterranean dishes.  see www.mushroommeals.co.uk
  • Alara – A company selling organic, gluten free and fair trade Porridge, Muesli & Granola and a range of superfoods.  www.alara.co.uk
  • The lovely ladies behind Ladle & Larder produce amazing chutneys.  http://ladleandlarder.co.uk/

So…of all of the people i met, who did I rate the highest?

Drum-roll, please….

In 3rd place: Ladle and Larder, for products that are tasty and healthy.

In 2nd Place: The Heavenly Cake Company – who are making products that are not only delicious treats but good for you too!

In 1st Place: Chef Chad Sarno who is bringing plant-based nutrition to a wider audience!

Thanks VegFest London – See you next year!

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Depressed man

Eat Plants to help beat depression?

So many people experience depression to varying degrees in their lives. Personally, I’ve experienced mood swings and fairly regular bouts of “being down”. I had one major episode , many years ago brought on by stress at work and being bullied by a particularly horrid boss.

I am fortunate that I have not experienced long periods of depression or the severe effects of the condition. Many people do have a terrible time with what is often an easy condition to cover up. which means people suffering in silence. I recall that when I had my bad time and talked about it, I was hugely surprised by all the people around me who said that they too had had similar experiences.

Whilst there are lots of options to address the symptoms of depression, doctors typically reach for a prescription pad and prescribe a pill.

What if we could reduce the impact of depression on the individual through diet?

Take a look at Dr Greger’s latest summary of the research in this area and please share it with friends and family.

http://nutritionfacts.org/video/improving-mood-through-diet/

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More healthy options….a good thing? Take a look at this article

I just read this article and have to say that it comes as no surprise that the Fast Food Chains are now adding healthy options to their menus:

http://kevindenny.wordpress.com/2013/10/10/vicarious-goal-fulfillment-healthy-menu-options-can-have-the-wrong-effect/

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