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Support – We all need a little help from time to time. Join the Plantalicious Community.

As some of you may know, I have always wanted to run.  Well, I say always, maybe that’s an overstatement.  When I was at school we had to do cross-country running in the wet and mud and that I hated.  My exercise then was my bike.  I rode miles on that thing.

In later years, having been so overweight, I did do exercise, but it was mainly on machines like cross-trainers etc.,  Running always seemed to elude me.  For some reason I was unable to “get” running and found it so hard to do for more than a few seconds.  Managing my breathing and my weight on my joints were all challenges.  About a year ago, I did start working on running with my trainer, and built up to doing about 12 minutes of staggering around the local park.

Recently, I found Couch to 5k, or Couch25K   It is a great resource from the NHS and teaches you to run, starting at the most basic level, (good for me).  How does it do it?  Well it is all thanks to Laura.  Laura is a lady who runs with you – sounds stupid – but she does – She is on a each downloadable podcast.  She acts as a coach and instructs and encourages you.  You can also download the app, the only difference is that the podcast has it’s own music – which I like and the app allows you to use your own.

 

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It is a 9 week plan and for the first few weeks you run 3 times a week doing intervals of walking and running with an initial warm up walk and a final cool down walk.

I really did not think that I would be able to do it, but with Laura’s support and help. the hardest thing was getting out of bed and pulling on my “running gear”.  The first 3 weeks went fine, then I had a very busy and tiring business trip to Scandinavia.  I did my week 4, run 1 run on the Monday morning, but that was it.  So a week later, I was panicked, would I be able to do it?  Should I start-over?  Should I give up?  (That little nagging voice at the back of my head said – “see, I told you, you would never do it”). I felt lost and very confused.

I found that there is a community on the site where you can share your concerns and your victories.  For me, it was my fears. Almost immediately on putting my note online, I got some messages of support and encouragement back.  These were from people who I did not know, but who were willing to support me.  Why did that matter?  Because they had been exactly where I was.  They had faced the same issues and fears.  I had a similar panic when moving to week 5, where I have to run for 3 x 5 mins for run1; then 2 x 8 minutes for run 2 and for 20 minutes (yes – non stop – not even for a soy latte at the Park Cafe) for run 3.  YIKES!!!  I posted my fears online and again, they came up trumps – “go do it Baz”.  “Take it easy Barry – you will do it” etc.,  I was so lucky and also got support from friends on Facebook too.

This got me thinking about support in general.  What do people need?  How do we provide support to one another?  A number of people who use this site have asked for advice, support, recipes etc.,  My site is specifically designed to provide support, through the shop with suggested books, ingredients, resources  etc.,  the articles, the twitter feed and last but by no means least, the community.  The Community was something that I was really keen to establish where people can sign up and share experiences and be honest about where they are and what they need.  I recently saw some posts on Facebook where someone had shared some very personal pain – being a relatively public forum and un-moderated some folks had been supportive but others had been so nasty that this person had decided to close their page.  A big shame as many others had benefited from her experience, knowledge and expertise.

So – Please sign up for the community.  Please share recipes, your experience and your challenges.  Please comment and share and help one-another as I know only too well how difficult it can be to change your health and diet.

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You can join other Plantalicious People – here

Please let me know what I and other members of the community can do for you to help you take control of your health and well-being.

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Protein – Our modern day obsession – “Where do you get your protein?”

It is funny and I should now be very rich.  Why – because when I tell people that I eat a plant-based diet, the first question I get is, “so where do you get your protein”?

 

As i say, I’d be very rich if I asked everyone who asks me that for £1.

 

Why do I find it funny?  Well for so many years of my life, I dieted.  I even lost 100lbs on LighterLife (which I put back on).  At no point did anyone ever say: “oh where will you get your fats from”, nor showed any concern for my often extremely bad food choices.  No-one ever questioned me when I was scoffing tons of unhealthy food down like a vacuum cleaner on steroids, despite having a history of heart disease in my family.

But now I eat a plant based diet, I get asked this a lot.

So here is an experiment with a sample of 1 – Ok, so not the most valid or scientific of experiments, but let me explain.  I have been eating a Plantalicious diet for over a year and have never experienced any of the symptoms of protein deficiency.

 

Here is an article that I found on the wonderful site – http://www.nomeatathlete.com/where-vegetarians-get-protein/ and is reproduced here with their kind permission.

 

First, my standard answer to the question, Where do you get your protein?:

You don’t need as much protein as most people think, and it’s easy to get what you do need from beans, nuts, seeds, grains, soy, and even greens.

So how much protein do you really need?

Not as much as people would have you believe. Somehow, everyone got the idea that we need exorbitant amounts of protein, way more than is even recommended. I know, it’s fun to blame government agencies and cry conspiracy, but if you actually look at the recommendations, they’re not that high at all.

For example, the U.S. recommended daily allowance of protein is .8 grams per kilogram of bodyweight (.36 grams per pound) for the general population.

Athletes need more than that, mostly due to greater tissue-repair needs. But how much more protein do we need as athletes?

Several sources I looked at cited a study which concluded that endurance athletes benefit most from 1.2 to 1.4 daily grams per kilogram of bodyweight, while strength athletes do best with 1.4 to 1.8 grams per kilogram. In pounds, that’s .54 to .63 grams per pound for endurance athletes, .63 to .81 grams per pound for strength athletes.

A simple example

Let’s take a typical No Meat Athlete reader and see what this means for her, let’s a say a 140-pound runner. We’ll split the daily protein range for endurance athletes in the middle and aim for .59 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight:

140 pounds * .59 grams/pound = 83 grams of protein per day

Keep in mind that’s for a 140-pound endurance athlete, so you’ll need to plug in your own weight and, if you do a strength sport, use a different protein figure.

But really, only 83 grams?

All of this protein fuss — the incessant inquisition about where we get protein — is over 83 grams per day, even after adjusting for being an athlete? (And if our 140-pound woman weren’t an athlete, she’d need only 50 grams to hit the RDA number!)

What the pros say

Before we move onto good vegan and vegetarian protein sources for getting this amount, let’s take a look at what some well-known and credentialed vegans say about protein.

  • In the documentary Forks Over Knives, China Study author Dr. T. Colin Campbell says that you need 8 to 10 percent of your calories to come from protein. (Keep in mind he’s not necessarily talking about athletes.)
  • Vegan Ironman Brendan Brazier, in his appearance on No Meat Athlete radio (which is coming back soon, by the way!), says he eats about 15 percent protein when training for short events, and close to 20 percent protein during periods of heavy training (several hours per day) for long endurance events.
  • Tim Ferriss writes in The 4-Hour Body that ultrarunner Scott Jurek gets 15 to 20 percent of his calories from protein.
  • Matt Ruscigno, in the post he wrote for No Meat Athlete about vegetarian protein, says he recommends that his athlete clients get 10 to 15 percent of their calories from protein.

Notice that everybody expresses things in percentages rather than grams. How does our 83 grams of protein, for a 140-pound female endurance athlete stack up in terms of percentage of total calories?

Well, the first thing to note is that a gram of protein contains four calories. (Yay for paying attention in health class!) So:

83 grams * 4 calories/gram = 332 calories of protein

We’ll need to divide this figure by total daily calories to get the percentage we’re after. I plugged my imaginary friend’s stats (5’3″, 140 lbs, female, very active) into this basal metabolic rate calculator to approximate her total daily calories at 2375. Drumroll, please …

322 calories of protein / 2375 total calories = 13.6% of calories from protein

Not far off from the 15 percent that most of our experts mentioned! Based on all of this, aiming to get 15 percent of your calories from protein seems like a pretty good rule of thumb.

(And by the way, I find using percentages to be a much easier way to evaluate a food’s protein content than grams. See a post I wrote about using protein percentages.)

Where do vegetarians get their protein?

There’s no shortage of lists of high-protein vegan foods floating around. As you might expect, they’re topped by soy products (tempeh is much higher in protein than tofu), seitan, and legumes.

My personal favorite vegan foods for protein, in rough, descending order of how often I eat them, are:

  • Lentils (red are my favorites), 18 grams of protein per cup
  • Chickpeas, 12 grams/cup
  • Tempeh (locally made in Asheville!), 41 grams per cup
  • Black beans, 15 grams per cup
  • Nuts and nut butters (I eat a good mix, usually without peanuts), varied
  • Tofu, 11 grams per 4 ounces
  • Quinoa, 9 grams per cup
  • Other legumes, varied
  • Grains, varied

These protein content numbers come from the Vegetarian Resource Group’s excellent article on vegetarian protein.

I also add a protein supplement to my smoothie each morning, which gets me about 20 grams to start the day, before you consider the protein from flaxseed, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, and almond butter that I also throw in there. I like the Vega Sport protein blend of hemp, rice, and pea, but often to save money I use this one, which also includes protein from chia seeds. (These links are both affiliate links, meaning No Meat Athlete earns a small commission if you use them to buy anything).

Don’t ignore amino acids!

All protein is not created equally. Protein is made up of amino acids, and there are certain ones, called “essential,” which your body cannot produce on its own and must get through food.

As long as you’re eating a wide variety of whole foods — a good practice to follow for many reasons — you’re probably getting a nice mix of amino acids. One, though, that’s particularly tough for vegetarians to get, is lysine, as explained in this article on protein from Vegan Health.

Only a few vegan foods contain lysine in large amounts, but fortunately, they’re staples in many of our diets: tempeh, tofu, and legumes. If you don’t eat beans or soy, because of allergies or some other reason, you’ll need to pay special attention to lysine, and it might be worth considering an amino acid supplement.

See an old No Meat Athlete article for a breakdown of which foods contain which amino acids.

My easy way to get enough protein every day

As it turns out, I weigh around 140 pounds, so the 83 grams of protein mentioned above is right about what I aim for. (I’m fairly certain I’m not female, but sex only entered the conversation when we were estimating total calories.)

So how do I get my 83 grams of protein per day?

My approach to getting enough protein is very simple:

Make sure you include a decent protein source, even if just a little bit, in every meal or snack.

Mainly, this just keeps you mindful and prevents you from slipping into junk-food-vegan, carbohydrate-only mode. It’s as easy as adding nuts or beans to your salad, protein powder to your smoothiealmond butter on your bagel, or beans to your pasta dish (actually not an inauthentic thing to do in Italy). For snacks, eat a handful of nuts, spread some sunflower butter on your apple, make roasted chickpeas, dip a pita in some hummus … all of these add just a little bit of protein, but if you eat two or three snacks a day, it adds up.

So the next time someone asks …

You won’t have to tell them it’s complicated, or argue to no avail that broccoli would be a good protein source if only you could eat five pounds of it in a sitting. Instead, you can just explain that we don’t need all that much protein, and it’s easy to get what we do need from a half dozen, common foods, eaten just a little bit at a time throughout the day.

No big deal.

– See more at: http://www.nomeatathlete.com/where-vegetarians-get-protein/#sthash.pmyeIT4h.dpuf

 

Drat – now I have published this, I doubt that I shall be able to ask for a £, although I bet people still ask!

 

What do you think?  Do you have concerns about your protein intake?

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Have you visited the Plantalicious Shop? It is open all hours! Come on in and take a look…

Do you love shopping?

I do!  I’m always up for a bit of retail therapy.

One of the things when I first started eating Plantalicious was that I did not have a lot of resources.  Recipes, books that explained the benefits of a plant-based lifestyle etc., Over the weeks, and months I have discovered lots of great resources: DVD’s, books, cookery books as well as ingredients and equipment.  Very often friends and followers would ask me for advice on this and that or what book to buy as a gift, or what blender I use.

So…I created the Plantalicious Shop – It contains many of the books and resources that I have used as well as links to more unusual ingredients that you may not be able to get on your high street.  My shop only stocks and sells things that I have either used and want to share with you or things that I recommend.  In fact, I think I own all of the items listed.  I also provide some information too to help you in your choices and to explain why I use the item.  The shop sells the items via an “Amazon Affiliate” relationship so your items are sent from Amazon and I get a small percentage which goes towards running Plantalicious and you pay the same as if you had bought the items on Amazon directly. The transaction is safe and secure just as any Amazon purchase.

A few items that I would like to highlight are:

  • ReThink Food – I recently did a review of this wonderful book that empowers you to take control of your health destiny- see here
  • The Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Cookbook – The Esselstyn’s are an amazing family.  Following on from the work of Dr Esselstyn his wife Ann Crile Esselstyn and daughter Jane have recently published this book.  The book answers the question of “how do i…Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease?” – the answer is simple, you cook and eat these Plantalicious recipes.
  • The Happy Pear Cookbook – The Flynn brothers cookbook from their wonderful shop and restaurant in Greystones in Ireland.  Not all the recipes are Plantalicious but their food is so good and they just make vegetables and fruit sing.  They also run a brilliant course – The Happy Heart to reduce cholesterol.  Buy the book and take the first step towards managing your health, reducing your cholesterol and enjoy delicious food at the same time.
  • If I had a £ for every time I am asked about blenders, I would be a wealthy man – This is the mother of all blenders – it is not cheap, but it is the best investment you will every make for your kitchen and your health – Its a Vitamix
  • Finally, the book that started me on this amazing journey to health – The China Study, by T. Colin Campbell – If you have not read it – now is the time.  It will change your life, as it did mine.

So next time you need some Plantalicious support or inspiration or are in the market for a blender, head over to the Plantalicious shop and bag yourself a bargain that is not only good for your wallet but also for your health.

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EatMorePlants – “I can’t! It’s Too hard” – 66% is better than nothing – The 2/3rd-1/3rd Plan

The hashtag that I use on Twitter is #EatMorePlants.

 

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A lot of people say that going plant-based or vegan for health reasons is a big leap.

 

 

Really?  A big leap?

  • What a bigger leap than taking medications like statins daily for the rest of your life?
  • A big leap compared to a lifetime of diabetes?
  • A big leap compared to cancer treatments that ravage the body?

 

I believe that food is our medicine and that we can radically improve our health. I know this not because my yoga teacher told me or from advice from someone down the pub. I know this for myself. I have seen and felt the changes in my body.

 

I’m still a “work in progress” but I know from my shrinking waistline, my increased energy and my remarkable change in my performance at the gym.

 

But, is it a case of “all or nothing”?  For me, it was a conscious choice to change my diet to eating a 95-98% plant-based diet in order to redress much of the harm that years of both overeating and poor food choices had caused.

 

For each of us, what we eat and how we fuel our bodies is a personal choice.  I do not for one moment presume to tell anyone what they should or should not eat.  What I do is to share my experience and knowledge and leave people to make up their own choice.  I am often asked for advice.  The best advice that I can give is to find something that works for you and that you feel comfortable with.  I am happy to help and support anyone regardless of their diet or beliefs around food.

 

Eating more plants for me is something that I believe in, based on what I have learned.  There is a strong body of evidence that eating a no added fat, whole-food, plant-based diet can not only prevent but reverse a number of chronic diseases.  I would rather choose to do this then take pills for the rest of my life.  I’m not perfect in my food choices, I love the occasional cake or plate of chips, but I am doing the best I can.  I’m sure that if I were more diligent about my food choices especially when eating away from home that I would weigh less than I do now.  It is my choice to eat as I do, knowing that for every choice I make there is a repercussion.  The food I consume either contributes to improving my health and well-being or not.

 

So what are you prepared to do for the sake of your own health?

 

I am not suggesting that you go plant-based overnight, but that you consider a few changes that you could make in order to “test the waters”.  I’ve found that when I consistently eat what I consider to be “clean” food that I feel better, brighter, happier, my skin glows and I have lots of energy.  It is not “rocket science” or even “rocket salad” its basic chemistry, our body is a sophisticated machine and reacts and performs based on what we choose to fuel it with.  Think of fueling your car with waste oil, what’s the likely result?

 

So how about trying to see what challenges you could make to improve your health and well-being?

 

Here’s an idea that I came up with the other day – The 2/3rd-1/3rd plan.  

 

The 2/3rd-1/3rd plan is an easy way to achieve change in your diet.

 

Monday to Friday you eat a 2/3rd’s plant-based diet where you have a plant-based breakfast, such as a smoothie or fruit, or oats etc., a huge veggie salad for lunch (or dinner) and your regular dinner (or lunch) and do that for 5 days a week?

 

At weekends you eat a 1/3rd plant-based diet where only 1 meal per day is plant-based – most people find the easiest one to be breakfast, but switch it around to suit you.

 

Over the course of 4 weeks you will have eaten a plant-based diet for almost 16 days out of 28 in total!  It’s that easy.

 

There are lots of materials on the site to support you, such as the recipes, the free Plantalicious 3 Day Challenge e-book, which you can download  here – http://www.plantalicious.com/buy-the-plantalicious-ebook/ or browse the shop for other supporting materials http://www.plantalicious.com/shop/

 

Please let me know how you are getting on and share your experience with me and with others.

 

And remember – #EatMorePlants!!!

 

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Get the Plantalicious 3 Day Challenge e-Book for free (save £6.99)

If you have not heard already, I have produced an e-book that is a handy guide as a starter for those new to, or curious about a plant-based diet.  Maybe you just want to reduce your meat intake by one or two meals a week, or you just do not know what to buy to get started.  Well now you do.  Download a copy of my e-book!

 

You can also refer friends to the download site if they are interested to know more about a plant-based diet.  The book contains recipes for 3 days including breakfasts, lunches and dinners as well as snacks and some basics.  It also has a shopping list so you know what to stock up with to make the recipes.

 

To download the e-book just visit this page of my site – http://www.plantalicious.com/buy-the-plantalicious-ebook/   to save yourself the cost of £6.99, simply sign up for the Plantalicious Newsletter and “hey presto” you will then be able to download the e-book for free.  How about that for plant-based magic?

 

If you are already a news letter subscriber, please just email me – Barry@Plantalicious.com and I will send you the e-book by email.

 

Please let me have any comments and feedback on the book.  What you liked, what could be improved and what you’d like to see more of.  You can comment here on www.plantalicious.com of ping me an email.  I’d also love to hear how people get on with the 3 day Plantalicious Challenge – how did you feel?  How did you find the recipes?  Did you miss anything?

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The A-Z of Plantalicious Ingredients – H is for Hamburg Parsley

Hamburg Root Parsley is somewhat of a unique ‘off-beat vegetable’. Although this wonderful white and green vegetable is not as common as other root veggies, parsley root is extremely delicious and deserves much more recognition than it gets

Very easy to grow, both the leaves and root are edible. Parsley Root Hamburg has edible large flat, parsley-like leaves but should not be confused with common curly parsley or Italian flat leaf parsley, as neither produce edible roots.

Parsley root is most commonly eaten cooked, as a delectable addition to stews or soups, or simply as chopped or cubed as a steamed side veggie, as you would other roots such as turnips, parsnips, and carrots. In fact, it’s an extremely versatile and exciting vegetable which can be sautéed, roasted, fried, or boiled for a distinctive and savoury accompaniment for any meal.

This charming vegetable is not only a delicious ingredient, it also come with a wonderful array or health benefits.

Parsley is a very rich source of vitamin K, vitamin A, beta carotene, vitamin C, iron and folate. Apart from these, it contains a fair amount of other vitamins and minerals and is also very low in calories.

Parsley tea is a tasty tea with an acquired taste that is used as a remedy for various health problems. The herb was used in ancient Greek medicine and in Ayurveda, to treat flatulence, and dyspepsia.

 

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F is for FIBRE – Are you getting enough? Are you “going” enough???

150808-20140203Do you remember the F Plan Diet? I do. The book by British author Audrey Eyton became a huge best seller. Basically the diet suggested restricting calories whilst eating large amounts of fibre. It was also known by another “F” due to the Flatulence it caused! 

It’s almost 35 years since the F Plan hit the shelves and fibre is no longer the hot topic, it once was. Until a recent study that found that heart attack survivors were more likely to be alive. 9 years later if they had a high fibre intake. 
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The Harvard School of Public Health team analysed data from two large US studies involving more than 4,000 men and women who had survived a first heart attack and had provided information about their usual diet via questionnaires.

Interesting, huh? 

That got me thinking about how much dietary fibre most people eat. With my wholefood, plant-based diet I routinely consume more than the experts from US recommendation of 38g. In the UK the average consumption is 14g against a suggested intake of 18g. 

Fibre really does keep everything “moving” through your system. Fibre comes in two types – soluble and insoluble. Soluble slows the digestion and cause gasses. Insoluble fibre is what promotes “stool regularity”. Ok – sorry to talk about poo, but come on, be honest, do you go with ease and as regularly as you’d like? 

Fibre also makes you feel full. 

Should you worry about your fibre intake? Judging by what I see in some shopping baskets, possibly. If you eat a predominately plant based diet, you should have no need to be concerned about your fibre intake. 
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If you are eating whole grains, peas, beans, legumes plus plenty of vegetables and fruit, you should have no worries about your fibre intake. 

How can you tell if you are getting enough? For me, it’s the regularity with which I go. 

What’s your fibre intake like? 
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There are no “Silver Bullets” – It’s progress not perfection and dealing with the frustrations.

Here is a video blog entry about my experience and recent “low point” after 12 months of following a plant-based diet.

 

 

Please share your experiences by adding some comments or by joining the community.

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“That is not what I ordered” – Getting Plant-Based food in restaurants

I’ve been meaning to write this article for quite some time.
The longer I leave it, the more information and more disappointment, I have to share. It is not difficult, I do not eat meat, fish, or dairy.  in other words anything that has a face or mother. When I eat out, which I do quite often, I make this perfectly clear and ask very politely for either something on the menu that suits my dietary choices or for a small modification to a dish in order that it works me.

Increasingly, I found that this seems to be too much to ask in many situations. I don’t know why, but certain organisations seem to make very heavy weather of providing me with the food that I’m looking for. Here’s some recent examples:

ITSU (http://www.itsu.com/) -the well-known food chain in the UK. It promotes itself using the tagline “eat beautiful” with pictures of lithe half naked bodies and also through their sponsorship of England Beach volleyball tour 2014-2017. Despite this, they seem unable to provide clear training to their staff and clear labelling on a number of their products. Mr G and I have bought this to their attention and to be fair they are doing something about it. However, be really careful as the miso soup that is used in some of the noodle pots has fish in it, so be sure to ask a vegetable miso.  There is even fish seasoning in their rice sidedish. This is a bit disappointing for a company with the tagline eat beautiful!
Some time ago, I suggested that they change the rice used in the hip and healthy salad to brown rice rather than using white rice. I was told, at the time, that they would use the existing supply of rice and then look to replace it with brown rice. I think that was about 2 years ago.  When I bought one of the salads last week, it still contained white rice. It does seem as if my suggestion had fallen on deaf ears.
The next company that seems to ignore my requests is EAT http://www.eat.co.uk/index.php). Again it’s a chain, and provides some really appealing products to its customers. Eat’s tagline is “the real food company”. So it may be, but what I want is the food as promised on the pot. I was at Paddington station some weeks ago, when I ordered one of their vegetarian dumpling and noodle pots. Imagine my surprise and disgust,  when eating the 1st dumpling, I discovered that rather than the tofu that I’ve been expecting, that it was actually chicken. I went back to the counter and reported this and was greeted with a mixture of derision and incredulity. It was implied that I must be wrong and that the contents must be vegetarian. I explained that I have very good taste buds and I can tell the difference between tofu and chicken. After some remonstrations, I was eventually assured that the offending pot would be sent back to head office for analysis, and the other pots would be removed from sale and that I would be hearing from them.
I did hear from them, however in the letter to me, I was basically called a liar. The company outlined its totally infallible processes to ensure that it was quite impossible for me to have eaten a chicken dumpling when I purchased a tofu/vegetarian one. I obviously must be an idiot and have no sense of taste whatsoever. I persisted in following this up, only to be told that the offending item had been destroyed, (rather conveniently), rather than being sent back to head office for analysis, as I had been promised. This dialogue took place over the last 3 to 4 months. All I wanted, was an apology, and an admission that they are fallible and the mistakes can happen. This seemed all too difficult for the “real food company” who are obviously infallible and frankly think their customers are idiots, liars, or both, as in my case. After several exchanges of emails, I did get a rather tepid apology although it came in a letter that was headed “without prejudice” as they were obviously concerned that I was planning to sue for some kind of compensation.
I can understand chain organisations such as itsu and Eat, who produce food in vast quantities for their outlets potentially making mistakes.  What astounded me was to visit one of my favourite Indian restaurants in London and to order a vegetable masala only to discover that what been cooked and served was (you’ve guessed it…) a chicken dish. I find this really irritating that people don’t bother to check thoroughly what has been ordered. Fortunately, I don’t have some kind of terrible allergy to meat that would result in anaphylactic shock.  Regardless, the same care should be taken when taking an order from somebody who is vegetarian or vegan, as it would if they were allergic to nuts or gluten, which can have very serious implications indeed.
It’s not just getting the order wrong or making mistake with the food sometimes, as I found out a week ago, you can order something that you think is going to be healthy and suitable only to be disappointed by what is put in front of you.  I was at a restaurant with some colleagues in Swindon – The Weighbridge Brewhouse, (http://www.weighbridgebrewhouse.co.uk/). It’s place I’ve been too many times before and have always really enjoyed the ambience and the food. I ordered a vegetarian dish from the menu and asked that the goats cheese that was an ingredient listed should be removed. I was really looking forward to a beautiful medley of sauteed mushrooms and slices of Jerusalem artichoke with a plum tomato sauce. Imagine my disappointment to be faced with a plate that was swimming in approximately a quarter of an inch of fat, mushrooms that had absolutely no flavour and a sauce that had split so badly and resembled a masala sauce rather than anything to do with the tomato and again, very high in fat. Whilst I appreciate that I hadn’t asked for “no fat” the ingredients didn’t list “half a pound of butter and a cup of olive oil” as two of the ingredients, it simply said that the vegetables would be sauteed. I ate some of the dish, as I was hungry and rather than make a fuss at the time, as I was with some colleagues and rather pressed for time, I called and gave my feedback in the evening.  It was cordially received, but no one bothered to take my email or phone number to follow up which seemed to indicate to me that they did not really give a damn. That was a shame and bad staff training as I am loathed to go back to somewhere that doesn’t really care about it’s customers.
It massively disappoints me that organisations such as those listed above cannot simply provide food for all of their diners as requested.
What’s been your experience? Please feel free to sharing comments on the community.
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The A-Z of Plantalicious Ingredients – G is for Garlic

 

As a child, I could eat onions of any kind.  At family events, I’d be the child eating the very hot crunchy pickled onions.  My father would steep raw onions in vinegar for us to have with salads on Sunday evenings.  I loved them.  In terms of garlic, I’d not tasted fresh garlic at home.  My Mum had a small plastic garlic clove with garlic salt in it.  I can remember being invited to dinner with my newly married brother and my sister-in-law where I tasted “real” garlic for the fist time at the age of 12.  OMG – I loved it, it was onion but to the max!

 

As I grew up I started to understand why it should be a staple part of my cooking.  Mainly used as a flavour enhancer, garlic also has other uses as well.

 

Not that many people know that garlic is actually native to the Central Asia, and it has been used quite a lot by the ancient Egyptians as well, for both culinary and medicinal purposes. Nowadays, we have 7 different types of garlic in Europe, and those are the Ajo Morado de las Pedroñeras, Aglio Rosso di Nubia , Ail rose de Lautre, Ail de la Drôme, Aglio Bianco Polesano, Aglio di Voghiera and Ail blanc de Lomagne.

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Garlic can be cultivated all the year in mild climates all over the world, and this is especially true across Europe. Although garlic is not typically consumed in large amounts, it can provide your body  with lots of nutrients.

 

Garlic is a triple-whammy: it’s antibacterial, antiviral and anti-fungal. Garlic is one food that we all should be eating every day.

Researchers have found that allicin, a chemical found in garlic that gives it its flavour, could be used to fight cancer. It appears that the natural chemical reaction that forms allicin, which occurs when the garlic is eaten or smashed, may penetrate and kill tumour cells.

Several studies suggest that garlic has many beneficial effects on the heart. Garlic may:

  • Lower total cholesterol
  • Lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Help keep blood thin, reducing the risk of blood clots and stroke
  • Lower elevated serum levels of homocysteine, according to preliminary studies

Garlic also works like an antibiotic against bacteria, virus, and protozoa in the body, and unlike with antibiotics, no resistance can be built up so it is an absolutely safe product to use.

Garlic can have a powerful antioxidant effect in the body, which means it helps to protect against damaging free radicals.

Garlic’s anti-fungal properties are excellent for reducing fungal infections, such as yeast infections.

People claim that people who eat garlic tend to get fewer bites from insects like ticks, according to research. It also likely applies to mosquitoes as well.  I’m not sure about that as I still seem to be seen as a healthy snack to any passing mosquito.

One problem with garlic, of course, is the smell, but if you have a good digestion that should not be a problem.  You can also chew a little parsley to reduce the smell.  Garlic is a herb, so if you do not like it or it makes you feel sick, this is your body’s way of telling you that you should avoid it.

Garlic will also improve your iron metabolism, thanks to the diallyl sulfides which help in the production of the ferroportin protein. It’s also a good source of selenium, because it gathers selenium from the soil while growing.

The largest garlic benefits are surely coming in the form of blood cell and blood vessel protection from various types of stress. What’s more, it also prevents the formation of clots inside blood vessels, something that is nothing short of amazing.

Alongside these wonderful benefits, garlic also includes numerous vitamins such as C or B6. It also helps your body integrate them quickly in the blood stream, making it more powerful and resistant to diseases as well.

The garlic we use every day in our meals doesn’t include that much carbohydrates. Instead, it’s full of inulin, a fiber that keeps the bacteria population in your intestines balanced, while also allowing your body to absorb more calcium.

  • Garlic is low in fat, and it has no cholesterol
  • It contains various elements that help your body absorb calcium, while also increasing your overall immunity
  • It’s rich in vitamins and minerals
  • It’s one of the few ingredients of a meal that give a wonderful flavour, and it also has a great effect on your overall health as well!

How much garlic do you eat?  What is your favourite way of eating it?

Quick tip – Peel a lot of garlic and freeze the cloves, you can purée them and add salt and oil (if you use it) or brine.

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