As a cheerleader for a healthy diet and lifestyle I have been discussing the importance of a plant-based diet and how it relates to your health and quality of life. In a groundbreaking leap forward, Kaiser Permanente is increasing the momentum in the field of Western Medicine to move towards recommending a plant based diet to its patients. Internationally, health care professionals are slowly, but steadily, acknowledging the critical role that a balanced plant-based diet plays in improving health and reversing disease. To view the abstract that is the basis for Kaiser’s recommendation, follow this link: http://www.thepermanentejournal.org/issues/2013/spring/5117-nutrition.html
While the world is slow to get on board, you don’t have to be. Take control of your health by eating a scientifically proven diet that can offer you a healthy life because you owe it to yourself to be healthy. Don’t put your health into the hands of the $food and $drug industries that most often are motivated by profits and do not have your best interest in mind. OK, I’ll get off my soapbox.
I know that if you are new to a plant base diet it can be very confusing. Many people think that it may be boring and lackluster in taste and appeal. Not so. Grains, vegetables, nuts, and fruits can be prepared easily and taste delicious. You eat with your eyes first and nothing is more beautiful than nature’s bounty. Like many things in life, you just have to take control and break bad habits. The important thing to keep in mind is that a bad “diet habit” can eventually shorten your life.
So, let’s talk about the basics of “Real Foods”. My book is a work in progress and will contain flavorful, healthy recipes that include the following ingredients…stay tuned. As we say in New Orleans, talk about good!
Note: Be sure to use unrefined grains. Refining grains removes the bran layer of the grain making it devoid of many essential nutrients such as fiber, B vitamins, and trace minerals. Refining is for the sake of faster cooking and easier chewing. It is not for the sake of nutrition. Make sure you purchase whole grains and whole grain products to get the most nutrition and the biggest health bang for your buck.
- Soaking isn’t necessary but it does make the nutrients more accessible to your body. If time permits, soak for 8-12 hours (I put them in water the night before). Discard the water.
- Rinse and strain grains until the water comes out clear
Dried Beans and Legumes
Note: Dried beans, peas, and lentils are collectively called legumes. Legumes are high in complex carbohydrates, fiber, iron, and folic acid, and have more protein than any other vegetable food. Eat complimentary foods like grains and seeds to get complete amino acids in your diet.
- Always rinse
- Soak if you have time. This breaks down indigestible compounds, softens skins, promotes faster cooking, and improves digestion.
- Adding Kombu or bay leaves to soak and cooking helps avoid gas.
Note: Fermented soy has been shown to be the healthiest and most digestible form of soy. The soybean is one of Mother Nature’s most perfect creations. It is the only vegetable that provides a complete protein. Soybeans contain lots of vitamins, iron, calcium, and fiber, as well as versatility. Please see the University of Maryland Medical Center study for daily intake guidelines: http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/soy
♦Tempeh: Tempeh is a fermented soy food that can be cut into patties or cakes and can be steamed, baked, fried, or broiled to give the texture of meat to a recipe such as chili and stew.
♦Tofu: Tofu is a soy product so it is protein packed and high in calcium, iron and B vitamins.
♦Miso: Miso is fermented soy paste and contains amino acids, minerals, and B vitamins. It is a live food so choose unpasteurized miso and avoid overcooking to gain maximum nutritional benefits.
♦Shoyu and Tamari (Soy Sauce): Shoyu is fermented soybeans mixed with grains, water, and salt. Tamari is the wheat free version of soy sauce. Replacing salt with soy sauce adds a more complex taste to dishes.
Soy Milk: Soy milk is a non-diary and lactose free alternative to milk. Visit this Harvard University link to learn about children, especially males, and soy milk: http://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletters/Harvard_Health_Letter/2009/May/By-the-way-doctor-Children-and-soy-milk
Whew, Au revoir for now. I don’t want to lose your attention so we will discuss nuts, seeds, fats, oils, and lots more in future posts. Please subscribe in order to get an e-mail when new posts are added. Your e-mail is safe and only used to send you notifications of new posts.