Think outside the box this 4th of July and instead of having the same ole’ coleslaw or potato salad, experiment with your favorite vegetables.  Grilling brings out the natural sugars of vegetables which causes them to caramelize and add a sweet and smoky flavor.

Which vegetables are great for the grill?
The possibilities are endless.  I’m listing a few of my favorites to help you get started.

Summer Squash- cut lengthwise
Mushrooms-leave whole
Eggplant-cut into rounds
Endives-halve lengthwise through core
Fennel-cut thin slices
Onions- cut into slices
Peppers (red, green, yellow or orange)- halve lengthwise remove insides and cut into thirds
Scallions- leave whole

What about fruit?
Grilling fruit makes a great dessert.  Serve with a dollop of low-fat ice cream or honey sweetened Greek yogurt and you will never look at fruit the same way again. Here are some fruits that are great on the grill:
Pineapple- cut into rings
Banana- you can grill with skin or peel and cut lengthwise into planks
Peaches-cut in half and remove pit
Nectarines-cut in half and remove pit

read more

Vegan Pantry EssentialsA well-stocked pantry can help you whip up nutritious meals without sacrificing taste.  Below is a list of foods that provide you with the nutrients most vegans don’t get enough off and enough variety to keep meals interesting.

In order to keep the ingredient list to the minimum, foods are chosen which are close to their most natural state.  This also means, the food requires preparation and cooking time.  But with some careful planning, meals are a cinch. You can always add a few already prepared foods for those times you know you won’t have time to cook.

Black beans-for tacos, soups, nachos, burritos, dip

Garbanzo beans– dips, falafel, salads, stews, soups

Firm Tofu– sandwiches, stir fry, patties

Silken Tofu– desserts, smoothies

Tempeh-sandwiches, salads

Soy milk– beverage, smoothies, oatmeal,baking

Veggie Burgers-great when you don’t have time to cook


Unsweetened Soy milk-contains protein, more calcium than regular milk, B12 (important for vegans) and many other vitamins and minerals

Almond milk– high in vitamin E but low in protein;  smoothies, oatmeal, baking

Nuts (almond, walnuts, hazelnuts, brazil nuts and cashews)-snack, dessert, salads

Flaxseeds-high in omega 3 fats, grind for smoothies, baking

Chia seeds-high in omega 3 fats and fiber, smoothies, cereal, yogurt, baking

Nutritional Yeast-Great B12 source. Sprinkle on any savory dishes for a cheese-like flavor


Whole Grain Cereal-breakfast, snack

Whole Wheat Bread-sandwiches

Whole wheat pita bread-sandwiches, chips

Brown rice-risotto, pilaf, side dish, rice pudding

Whole wheat couscous-salad, side

Quinoa-high in protein, side, salad, baking

Corn or Whole Wheat tortillas-burrito, taco, chips

Whole grain pasta-salad, pasta


Seasonal fresh veggies-such as kale, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, avocados-  salads, casseroles, sandwiches, dips, pasta, snacks, stir fry

Frozen veggies– stir fry, casseroles, pastas

Canned crushed tomatoes-pasta, curry, soups, lasagna


Seasonal fresh fruits– smoothies, salads, snacks, baking

Frozen fruits-smoothies, dessert, baking

Dried fruits- such as figs, dates, cranberries, raisins-snacks, baking, salads

Unsweetened Applesauce-baking, snack


Vegan Mayo

Earth Balance nondairy spread

Peanut butter or other nut butter

Flaxseed oil– high in omega 3’s

Canola oil

Olive oil


Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base




read more
Vegan Plate

Vegan Plate by PCRM (visit for more info.)

What do Bill Clinton, Alicia Silverstone and Fiona Apple have in common?  They’re all vegans.  It took Mr. Clinton a quadruple bypass surgery plus, a few years later, an additional visit to the heart surgeon before he decided his well-known runs to McDonald’s needed to change.

There are many ways to eat a healthy diet, veganism can be one of them, if planned correctly.

Why go vegan?  People become vegan for various reasons.  I listed three of the most common reasons here.

1.  Health: A well planned and balanced vegan diet can result in:

  • lower BMI
  • lower risk of heart disease
  • lower risk of high blood pressure
  • decreased rates of type 2 diabetes
  • lower risk of certain types of cancer
  • lower cholesterol levels
  • lower risk of gallstones and intestinal problems
  • reduced symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis

2.  Environmental:  Industrial Agriculture uses unsustainable amounts of fossil fuel, water and soil, adds to pollution and results in declining biodiversity and fish.  To produce one pound of beef requires 2400 gallons of water and 7 pounds of grain.

3. Ethical:  Factory farms try to produce inexpensive meat, egg and dairy products which results in confined cages, pens, restrictive stalls and many other forms of animal cruelty. 

How to become vegan?

What foods to avoid:

1.    All red meats and products such as broth made from them.

2.    All poultry and fish and products such as broth made from them.

3.    Dairy products: milk, cheese, cream cheese, yogurt

4.    Animal-based fats: butter, lard

5.    Eggs and egg products

6.    Honey

What foods to include:

1.    Choose proteins sources from beans, legumes, nuts and nut butters, non-dairy milk sources such as soy milk, soy yogurt, tofu, tempeh, seitan and egg substitutes

2.    Fruits and vegetables, vegetable broth:  Choose a variety of colors and preferably local and in season

3.    Carbohydrates: Aim for whole grains such as barley, oats, quinoa, millet, whole wheat pasta

4.    Fats: Choose vegetable oils, nuts and seeds

Make sure you get enough of these nutrients:

Protein: Plant-based proteins are absorbed differently than animal based proteins, so it’s recommended that vegans get slightly higher amounts than non-vegans. The recommended amount for vegetarians and vegans is 1.0g of protein per kg body weight or 0.45 g per pound of body weight.

Good sources of plant-based proteins are: beans, legumes, nuts and nut butters, soy or rice or almond milk, soy yogurt, tofu, tempeh, seitan, egg substitute, Red Star nutritional yeast

Iron: Plant-based iron, or non-heme iron is not absorbed as well as animal, or heme iron. As a result, the recommended amounts of iron for vegetarians is 1.8 times the regular DRI, which is 32.4 g for adult women ages 19-50 and 14.4 mg for adult men ages 19+. This practice is somewhat controversial and not all experts agree. Recommendations were based on only one study and did not reflect vegetarians actual diets. Also, studies show that the body adapts over time to lower intakes of iron and becomes more efficient at taking in iron. For better absorption, consume iron-rich foods with vitamin C.

Good sources of iron: soybeans, lentils, blackstrap molasses, kidney beans, chickpeas, bok choy. The use of cast-iron skillets also contributes to iron intake. In addition, soaking and sprouting beans, grains and seeds helps enhance iron absorption.

Zinc: Recommended amounts of zinc is 8 mg for women and 11 mg for men. Emphasize whole grains, legumes, nuts, seeds and fortified cereals. Choose fermented soy foods such as tempeh or miso for better absorption and include foods high in protein. Take calcium supplements separate from zinc sources since iron and calcium decreases zinc absorption. When large doses of iron are taken, as during pregnancy, also take zinc supplements.

Calcium: Recommended amounts for adult men and women ages 19-50 is 1000 mg a day and 1200 mg for women ages 51-70. Good calcium sources are in dark leafy green vegetables, tofu made with calcium sulfate, calcium fortified soy milk, nut and nut butters, blackstrap molasses, seeds and seed products such as tahini.

Vitamin D: Recommended amounts are 600 IU a day for people ages 1-70 (see post on Vitamin D). Vitamin D sources are fortified soymilk, rice milk and soy products.

B12: Recommended amount for men and women is 2.4 mcg. Vitamin B12 is generally not found in plant foods, choose vitamin B12 supplements or foods fortified with B12 such as Red Star nutritional yeast, fortified soy or rice milk, meat analogs, fortified breakfast cereals. One cup of rice or soy milk can have from 1-3 mcg per cup.

Omega 3 fats:  There are 3 omega 3 fatty acids: Alpha-linolenic acid(ALA), Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). The body can convert ALA to EPA and DHA but not very efficiently. As a result it’s recommended that vegan men aim for 2.2-5.3g of ALA and vegan women aim for 1.8-4.4g, or 1-2% of total calories. Active, heavier and pregnant people should aim for the higher end range and smaller, less active people should aim for the lower end range. To increase production of EPA and DHA regularly consume good sources of ALA. It’s also important to pay attention to the omega 6 fats you eat, since they interfere with the production of EPA and DHA. Omega 6 fats can be found in sunflower, safflower, corn and sesame oil.

Good sources of ALA are: flaxseed (ground), flaxseed oil, canola oil, tofu, soybeans, hemp products and walnuts. If you are supplementing with DHA or EPA, aim for the recommended amount for non-vegans which is 1.6 g for men and 1.1 g for women.

Also see video of Dr Hibbeln researcher of the NIH, talking about Omega 3’s and Vegans.  Click: HERE


Also see post on How to be a Vegetarian. Nutrients to Consider

For vegan recipes go to: Recipes


Recommended Vegan Resources:
Vegetarian Nutrition:

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine:  a project of Vegan Outreach:

The Vegetarian Resource Group:  Nutrition information and recipes.

Vegetarian Nutrition Info:

Vegweb:  Vegetarian and Vegan recipes.  Recipes, tons of information and restaurant guide.



1. World Resources Institute. World Resources 2000-2001: People and Ecosystems: The Fraying Web of Life. Washington, DC:World Resources Institute, 2000. 2. Position of the American Dietetic Association: Vegetarian Diets. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2009; 109: 1266-1282.

3. Dietary Reference Intakes: Macronutrients. National Academy of Sciences. Institute of Medicine. Food and Nutrition Board. DRI table for carbohydrate, fiber, fat, fatty acids and protein.

4. Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2001.

5. Mangels R. “Update on the New DRI’s” Vegetarian Nutrition Update Sum 2001;10(4):1-7.

6. Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.


read more

Why become Vegetarian?

People become vegetarian for a variety of reasons. You may want to become a vegetarian to improve your health, for cultural reasons, religious or ethical reasons.  Whatever your reason for choosing a plant-based diet, if planned appropriately, it can improve your health, help you lose weight and protect you against chronic diseases.

What is a Vegetarian?

A Vegetarian is someone who eats a plant-based diet including fruits, vegetables, legumes, seeds, nuts  but avoids meat, poultry and fish.

Types of Vegetarians:

There are different types of vegetarianism varying in degree of restricting animal products.

1.  Vegans: This is the strictest form of vegetarianism.  Vegans only eat foods of plant origin and exclude all meats, meat products, fish, dairy and eggs. Some health experts believe that the vegan diet is the healthiest of all vegetarian diets.  But it can also the most difficult to adhere to.   It requires some planning and  experimenting, and depending on where you live, can be challenging when eating out.

2. Lacto-Ovo Vegetarians: These vegetarians do eat “lacto” or dairy products, and “ovo”, eggs.  You can also be a Lacto vegetarian, including only dairy products and no egg, or Ovo Vegetarian, including eggs but no dairy.

3. Pesce Vegetarians:  These vegetarians include fish in their diets.

4.  Semi-vegitarian or flexitarian:  Some people call it “vegetarian with benefits”.  Technically not a “real” vegetarian since flexitarians eat meat or poultry on occasion.


Benefits of a plant-based diet:

* lower cholesterol levels

* lower risk of heart disease

* lower blood pressure levels

* lower risk of hypertension

* lower risk of type 2 diabetes

* lower body mass index (BMI, see post on BMI for more info)

* lower overall cancer rates

Nutrients to consider:

When you follow a plant-based diet,  you need to make sure you get enough of the following nutrients:

Omega 3 fatty Acids: are polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA) which are important for heart health and may reduce the risk of heart disease.  In infants these fatty acids are also necessary for eye and brain development.

There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids:
1. DHA (docohexaenoic acid)- found in fish and shellfish
2. EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid)- found in fish and shellfish
3. ALA (alpha-linolenic acid)- found in flaxseed, canola and soybean oil, walnuts, soy.

The body is able to make EPA and DHA from ALA but in smaller amounts and at a slower rate.  If you are vegan or a vegetarian and don’t eat fish or seafood, boost your intake of good sources of ALA and or add a DHA supplement made from microalgae.

The Dietary Reference Intakes recommends 1.6 g ALA for men and 1.1g for women per day but vegetarians may need more if fish and seafood are avoided.  It’s also important not too eat excessive amounts of omega 6 rich foods since they further decrease the conversion of ALA to DHA and ALA.  Omega 6 rich foods are found mainly in vegetable oils such as corn, sunflower, soy and cottonseed oils.

Iron: Iron helps transport oxygen in the blood.  There are two forms of iron: heme and nonheme iron.

Heme iron can be found in animal sources such as meat, poultry and fish.

Nonheme iron is found in plant sources such as beans, legumes, green leafy vegetables, soy foods, whole-grain and fortified foods.  The drawback in getting iron by non-heme sources is that it’s less absorbable than heme iron, and it’s influenced by “enhancers” and “inhibitors” (see below).  On the plus side,  your body becomes better at detecting if you are in need of more iron and becomes more efficient in absorbing it, regardless if it’s heme or nonheme.

Enhancers of Iron Absorption: Try to include these when eating iron rich foods.
•    citrus
•    tomato
•    vitamin C enriched juices
•    cast-iron cookware

Inhibitors of Iron Absorption: Try to avoid these when eating iron rich foods.
•    dairy products
•    black tea
•    coffee
•    cocoa
•    red wine

Zinc: Zinc helps your immune system, promotes wound healing and plays a role in your ability to taste.
Good vegetarian food sources of zinc: oysters, seafood, fortified cereals, beans nuts, whole grains and dairy products.  The National Institute of Health recommends that vegetarians  eat as much as 50% more zinc than normally recommended for adults.

Calcium: Calcium helps build strong bones and teeth.  If you are a lacto-ovo-vegetarian your calcium intake matches that of nonvegetarians but if you are vegan you may not be getting enough of this bone building mineral. See Calcium post for recommended amounts.

Good vegetarian calcium sources: dairy products, nuts, grains, bok choy, broccoli, chinese cabbage, collards,  kale, calcium-set tofu.  Vegans may find it easier to include calcium fortified foods and/or supplements to get the recommended amount.

Vitamin D:Vitamin D is needed for healthy and strong bones.  Vegans are more likely to be deficient in this mineral since many dairy foods are enriched in vitamin D.
Good sources of Vitamin D: fortified dairy products, vitamin D supplements, sun exposure (see post vitamin D)

Vitamin B-12:Vitamin B12 helps keep nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA.  It also prevents a type of anemia, which makes people feel tired and weak.
Good sources of Vitamin B12: Dairy foods, eggs, vitamin B12 fortified foods, Red Star Vegetarian Support Formula nutritional yeast or B12 supplement.

General Recommendations:

  1. Eat a variety of plant-based protein-rich foods.
  2. Avoid tea and coffee at mealtimes.
  3. Avoid calcium and iron rich foods at the same meal.
  4. Eat foods high in vitamin C in combination with iron-rich foods to boost iron absorption.
  5. It helps to think outside the box when planning meals.  Instead of trying to find substitutes for “typical” breakfast foods, such as eggs and bacon for example, have lunch or dinner foods for breakfast, such as a bean burrito, a sandwich, rice with tofu and so on.

Bottom line: A vegetarian diet can be a healthy and sustainable lifestyle choice if planned appropriately and all nutritional needs are met.  However, it is possible to be a vegetarian and have an unhealthy diet, therefore it’s important to pay careful attention to sugar, starches and fats in the diet.


Recommended websites:

The Vegetarian Resource Group.

North American Vegetarian Society.

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)





Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Position of the American Dietetic Association: Vegetarian Diets. July, 2009. Vegetarian diets. American Heart Association. Accessed June 10, 2011.

Physician Committee for Responsible Medicine. Your Health. Vegetarian Foods. Powerful Tools for Health. Accessed on June 10, 2011.

American Dietetic Association. Vegetarian Diets. Accessed June 12, 2011. National Institute of Health. Office of Dietary Supplements. Accessed June 12, 2011.







read more

  • RSS
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • YouTube