Sunday, October 12, 2008

What's new, what's old, and what's current!

Hey Everyone!

I have finally gotten back on my feet with cooking since I made it back in Florida from my trip to Missouri. I have actually cooked more than I have posted, but some of my dishes haven't turned out as good as I would have liked them. I have such a listing of recipes that I need to try over again to get it right. I know that I talked previously about posting some traditional Jewish recipes, but these recipes involve an egg substitute. I do enjoy using Ener-G Egg Replacer, but I have also been trying to experiment with other egg replacements. For example, you can use ground up flax seed mixed with water, or 1/4 cup pureed silken tofu to equal one egg. These are perfectly good substitutes, but some are better than others in different recipes. I tried to make Kasha and Shells, but usually the kasha is coated with egg. For this recipe, I used the flax seed version, but it turned out just okay. I also tried to make homemade kugel, and for this I used the tofu version for my egg. It didn't turn out awful, but the consistancy was not what I wanted, and I just wasn't confident with how it turned out. Another thing with traditional Jewish dishes is, although oh so yummy, they are all very high is carbs and not the healthiest of dishes. So, I end up making them, and then I am stuck eating them because it's too much food to waste. So, I decided that I will eventually perfect them over time, but at this time I am going to stick to healthier recipes that make me feel lighter and give me more energy rather than weigh me down. I find that latkes, kasha, and kugel are pretty heavy and that's why they are only eaten on occasion. And truth be told, I intended for this blog not only to reflect the vegan lifestyle, but also a consistently healthy lifestyle.

Yom Kippur was last week, and I did fast for the day. I did drink tea and water though, so it wasn't a true fast. I also went to work, so I didn't fully observe the holiday. The day was actually so refreshing because after work I went to infusion tea and broke the fast with the best gazpacho in town and a half of a veggie burger sandwich while reading my book, The Omnivores Dilemma. I also did a hot infusion yoga class later, and then went and saw the movie Religulous (which I highly recommend). I was thinking about the holiday of Yom Kippur and it occurred to me that it is actually pretty unhealthy. I believe that many people binge eat the night before, and then traditionally the family gets together to break the fast with a big feast. It's not healthy to shock your body like that. When going on and off a fast, you are supposed to slowly wean yourself off of food and then back on it. Generally you should eat light to get your body used to taking in less food, and then getting your digestive system used to food entering the body again.

I really feel like it is important to hold up traditions, which is why I still fast. I don't really do it for religious reasons as much as I do it for myself and feel that it is cleansing. I do not pray to any specific diety or go to services, but I just focus on what I would like to change about myself and how I will go about doing that. Among keeping traditions, I also think it is important to start new traditions, and that is what I did this past Yom Kippur with breaking the fast with a light and nontraditional dinner and then doing yoga. I think I will do that every year.

I have also been doing more research on obtaining all of the nutrients and vitamins into my diet that I need to keep an eye on now that I have stopped eating animal products. These vitamins and minerals are B12, Iron, Zinc, D, Omega 3's, and protein. I have been doing a lot of research on this, and I try to get all of these vitamins in my diet during breakfast. I talked to my cousin Brittney, who is a dietitian, and she mentioned to me that Iron is something that vegans need to watch because the iron in plant and animal products absorbs different than Iron in meat. I looked it up and there is heme and non heme iron. The iron in plant and grains are non heme and there are things you can do to help the absorption into your body. One thing is to mix iron with vitamin c. So, what I do is eat a cereal fortified with iron, B12, Vitamin D, and zinc. Some good cereals that I found are: Kashi Heart to Heart Toasted Honey Oat (please note that this cereal does contain honey), Publix Greenwise Raisin Bran, and Health Valley Organic Fiber Multigrain Flakes. Then I top it off with strawberries, which are high in vitamin c. I also top my cereal off with a granola blend which is high in fiber. I find that this keeps me full and helps me eat less throughout the day. Then, I use hemp milk (which I recently switched to) because it contains omega 3s and the essential amino acids (protein). I do want to mention that protein is pretty easy to get into your diet and it is really the least of concerns for any vegetarian or vegan, but using the hemp milk does guarantee that I am at least starting the day off getting protein into my diet. I also read that tea contributes to blocking the absorption of iron into your system, so I refrain from drinking or eating anything besides water until about an hour after I eat breakfast. I am still looking into the absorption studies for iron and zinc and I plan on going to get my blood tested in the next few months to make sure I am not deficient in anything.

Another thing I want to talk about are the negative studies of soy products. All of these studies are completely inconclusive and there are many more positive studies relating to soy than negative. I hear things such as soy may cause memory loss, breast cancer, dementia, and so on. I have read many of these studies and they are all very cloudy in the description of how they conducted these studies. For example, the study where they found soy products caused memory loss did not mention if the people they studied were vegetarian, vegan, how long they were consuming soy, how much soy they consumed, when they began and ended consuming soy, and if hey had medical problems to begin with. They also conducted this study on the elderly living in Indonesia who eat very differently than Americans. I also wonder who funded this study.... was it the animal or dairy industry? We also know that soy reduces bad cholesterol and that it is heavily eaten in Asian cultures "at a much younger age than people in the United States. In fact, the average woman living in East Asia eats about 10 times the quantity of soy foods as the average woman in the United States. Yet, East Asian women have lower rates of breast cancer than women in the United States." ( But, this could be effected by many things since there are many differences in the way we eat compared to the Japanese.

Soy is almost unavoidable, especially if you eat processed food or fast food. Soy lecithin is in almost everything as an emulsifier, and I think that it is important to know this so you know what you are consuming. Corn is actually used in almost everything that we eat that is fast food or processed, and soy is used in the agriculture industry the same way. If the price of corn is at a high, these products will most likely be using soy until the price of corn goes down. This is why you see the ingrediants say: This contains one or more of the following: High Fructose Corn Syrup, Sunflower Oil, Soy Lecithin, Corn Oil, Etc. So, most likely, you have consumed more soy than you know. My point is that it is important to know that so that you make sure you are eating soy in moderation if you feel you need to watch your soy consumption. This is one of the reasons I switched to hemp milk, and I do order extra veggies a lot instead of tofu as a protein substitute. I love tofu to death, but even though these studies are inconclusive, it's better to be safe. Remember... Moderation is key!

Well, I think I have blogged enough this weekend!


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