Rethink.

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Re-Post Coconut-Flax Butter March 10, 2011

OK, so I know there are vegan options for butter in stores.  However, I don’t enjoy the taste and the “butter” I use is actually pretty easy to make and pretty healthy.  It doesn’t have refined oils and added natural flavors in it.  This recipe is from one of my earlier posts, but I’ve decided to repost because I love it that much.  I ALSO have some new information to share on it.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 cup Flaxseed Oil

Directions.  Place coconut oil in a bowl of hot water for 10 minutes.  After ten minutes pour 1/2 cup of coconut oil into a tupperware container.  Then pour 1/2 cup of flaxseed oil into the same tupperware container and stir.  After that, you stick the container in the fridge.  In a few hours you should have a butter like substance you can spread on toast or put on steamed veggies.

So, why is it good for me?  Well, butter made from dairy has a heavy concentration of saturated fat.  Even though our bodies need saturated fats in order to build cell walls, dairy butter is very imbalanced between saturated and unsaturated fats.

It is true that coconut oil is high in saturated fats.  However, the saturated fats are less harmful to the body because they are medium chain fatty acids.  Unlike the saturated fat from dairy, the fat found in coconut has shown no correlation to increases in bad cholesterol and heart disease.

I’m sure everybody has heard about flaxseeds at this point.  They are a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids which are necessary for our brain functioning.  Flaxseed oil also contains Vitamin E, which is great for the skin and joints.  It’ll give you a nice glow 🙂

However, the EFA (essential fatty acids) in flaxseed oil need to be converted to DHA.  Everyone has different conversion rates.  Coconut oil doubles the conversion rates of EFA to DHA.

So this butter will give you a nice balance of fats.  It is 50% saturated fat and 50% unsaturated fat.  This is a better balance than dairy butter.

The coconut-flax butter in comparison to a product like earth balance will give your brain a better chance at absorbing and using the EFA.  The oils in earth balance typically come from soybean, canola, and olive oil.  These oils have a higher concentration of Omega 9 and Omega 6.  The American diet is already high in these two fatty acids, which is why there has been so much hype around getting Omega 3’s.  When your body has too much Omega 9’s and 6’s inflammation occurs.

Flaxseed oil and hempseed oil have a good balance of Omega 3 to Omega 6.  However, I find hempseed oil a little gross.  Well, that is pretty much my philosophy around eating this butter instead of all other butters.  It really takes very little time to make and will last for about 6 months in the fridge.

Advertisements
 

Butternut Squash Soup & Some Important Cooking Tips January 24, 2011

This will warm you up nicely since it’s been so cold out lately.  The recipe is a bit lengthy so I would recommend doing this on a Sunday.

Ingredients:

  • one medium sized butternut squash
  • one can of coconut milk (unsweetened)
  • 1 tbsp of curry powder
  • 1 tbsp of fresh chopped ginger root
  • 1 bag of frozen peas

Directions: (about an hour and a half)

  1. Cut the butternut squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds.
  2. Place it face down on a baking pan in  1/2 an inch of water.  Bake at 375 for 45min-1hour.
  3. When the squash is done you should be able to pierce through the skin with a fork or knife.
  4. Scoop out the meat from the squash and put it into a blender or food processor.
  5. Also add the coconut water, curry powder and ginger root and blend.
  6. Place the mixture in a pot on the stove on a low heat (3) and add the frozen peas (or any other veggies you’d like)
  7. In about 10 minutes you should have some yummy soup!

Baking the butternut squash face down prevents it from burning.  When food is dry baked acrylamides are formed.  Acrylamides have been shown to cause cancer.  So you may be thinking to yourself…everything causes cancer these days!  Well, let me put it this way, cigarettes contain large amounts of acrylamides and we KNOW those cause cancer.

Healthy cooking tips at home:

Cook at home often because that is where you have the most control over your food.  Also it is extremely important to cook your food at a medium to low temperature.  There is no need to have the burner higher than a medium heat.  Heating food too much not only destroys the nutrients, but also causes the fats in foods restructure into transfats.

You should also only cook with coconut oil because it can withstand temperatures of up to 350 degrees without restructuring into harmful heart disease causing transfats.  Also, the medium chain fatty acids found in coconut oil will actually double the rate at which omega 3 fatty acids are transferred into DHA.  DHA is a fat that is essential for healthy brain functioning.

So we all hear about how benefits of Omega 3’s.  However, we don’t hear that in order to use Omega 3 fatty acids our bodies need to convert them to DHA.  Everyone’s conversion rate differs, which is why eating small amounts of coconut can be a very beneficial addition to your diet.

However you don’t want to over do it with fat.  If you’re doing a stir-fry I would suggest adding 1 tsp per person.  If you are more active you can be a little more liberal with this suggestion.

Steaming or boiling food is the best way to cook veggies because you lose the least amount of nutrients.  However, we all like a little variety.  If you do plan on doing a stir-fry add a teaspoon or two of water and keep the heat no higher than a medium heat.  Keeping a low heat will prevent the occurrence of acrylamides and retain nutrients.  It may take a little longer, but your body will thank you for it!

 

Food Pyramid Revised October 15, 2010

Filed under: Health Facts and Concerns,Health Tips — Yvette @ 3:18 pm
Tags: , ,

I recently re-read Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s book Eat To Live.  He talks about how it is important to have most of what you eat consist of plant food.  I think this diet is much more approachable for the average American who is not ready to become vegan.  The motto is similar to Michael Pollan who states, “Eat food.  Not too much.  Mostly plants,” only he gives a little more detail on exactly what and how to eat.

Animal (including fish, eggs and dairy) and processed foods are taxing on the body and acidic.  They are also very high in saturated fat and calories as well as low in vitamins and minerals.  These foods do not make ideal diet or health foods.  In his book he suggests limited animal food consumption to 2 to 3 times per week, and recommends fish over dairy.  This is because his idea is based upon the idea of weight loss.  Dairy contains a large amount of saturated fat which immediately goes to the waist line (even low fat dairy), whereas fish at least contains amounts of Omega 3 & 6 essential fatty acids.  Please note that I am not promoting the eating of fish because I am vegan, but just simply giving the facts stated in the book.  Dr. Joel Fuhrman states that if animal food can be avoided at all this is best to maintain proper weight and ideal health.

Fruits and vegetables bring alkalinity to the body and they contain vitamins, minerals and most importantly phytonutrients which help our cells fight against diseases.

What about protein?  That’s what most people ask…well there a few points to be made here.  First off, after you’re done growing and if you’re not highly active you don’t need that much protein at all.  Second, green leafy vegetables are 50% protein and and beans are also a great source of protein.  Third, you do not need to combine different foods in order to make a complete protein.  The body can store amino acids (building blocks of protein) in it’s cells until there is a complete protein.

The idea behind the diet is that you need not restrict calories if you are eating 90% plant food and most of that 90% is fruits and vegetables.  You will lose weight and feel healthier.

 

Orange Sesame Ginger Dressing October 12, 2010

I’ve been student teaching and teaching a course at SU, so I haven’t been able to post much.  But, I just made this dressing last night.

Ingredients:

  • juice of 1 orange
  • 2 tbs of tahini
  • 1 tbs miso
  • 1 tbs flax oil
  • 1 tsp ginger root powder

Mix ingredients in a bowl and you’re done!  I typically use flax oil in my salad dressings.  This really should be the only oil used on a regular basis because it contains EFA (essential fatty acids).  More specifically flax oil contains Omega 3 fatty acids which are hard to find in the standard american diet.  We are bombarded with Omega 6’s which compete with the Omega 3’s for room in our cells.  Omega 3 fatty acids are known for their ant-inflammatory properties, whereas Omega 6 has inflammatory properties.  This is why it is important to have an ideal ratio of the two.

Many people use olive oil in their salad dressing, but this and the use of all other oils should be limited.  If you are not an active individual, then even the monounsaturated fat is being stored along the waistline.  In fact to be more specific, 97% of the monounsaturated or saturated fat that you eat is being stored along the waistline.

 

Juice Fast For Peace June 23, 2010

Filed under: Health Facts and Concerns,My story — Yvette @ 1:14 am
Tags: , ,

I recently finished a 7 day juice fast with Dr. Gabriel Cousens, one of the raw foodists who has inspired me.  7 days of nothing but green juice, the only fruit that was in the juice was lemon!  I cleared out a lot of mental and physical toxins.  It is amazing what the body can store over the years.  I am really grateful for everything that I learned from Dr. Cousens.  I feel that I will be able to use the knowledge in order to help heal my digestive problems.

Dr. Cousens indicated that sometimes we are deficient in minerals and vitamins because we can not absorb them (this is my situation).  This actually may have to do with the amount of HCl (hydrochloric acid) in our stomachs.  I am planning on incorporating this into my array of supplements.  In August I will get my blood drawn and see how my levels are doing!

***Also he highly recommended that women over 40 take HCl***  This is because the amount of acid decreases with age and the lack of it hinders the absorption of calcium.  This is the main reason for osteoporosis.  Calcium supplements are not very effective and it is much better to up the HCl acid so that you can actually absorb the calcium from your food.  You may not even be able to absorb the calcium from the supplement.  This applies to all other supplements as well.

The juice fast has also inspired me to go back to being raw.  Now that I have more knowledge I feel that I will be able to approach it better.  I also realize that when I was raw I was eating a lot of things I was allergic to, such as oranges, cucumbers and so forth.

Dr. Cousens has a nice approach to being raw.  The general guidelines are fruits, nuts and seeds for breakfast, a salad for lunch and a smoothie or blended soup for dinner.  I look forward to sharing my new recipes this summer with everyone!

 

Protein – Vegetarian Sources April 28, 2010

I recently met with a nutritionist who indicated that my protein levels were low.  And no it isn’t because I’m vegan and not eating meat (MOM)!  It is most likely due to the fact that I was on a raw vegan diet for a year and eating mostly nuts for my protein.  While nuts do contain some protein they are mainly a fat dominant food.  That isn’t to say that nuts are bad for you.  In fact they are packed with nutrients, minerals and one of the best sources of essential fatty acids; but should not be relied upon as a protein source, not for an extended period of time.  I have moved over to some other plants that are protein dominant, the wonderful world of beans 🙂

If you are into smoothies, I have been using Raw Protein from Garden of Life in my smoothies in the morning.  It is basically sprouted beans, dried and ground into a powder.  There is also some flax and chia seed in there, which are also very nutritious.  I also like the fact that they include some probiotics and enzymes!  I do admit I feel kind of silly using a protein powder in the morning, something feels reminiscent of frat boys and meat heads heading to the gym with their muscle milk.  But this protein powder is 100% vegan, gluten free, raw, soy free, kosher and so on.  It has large doses of Vitamin A, D, E and K.  Vitamin D is hard to obtain on a vegan diet, whereas most vegetarians obtain this through milk and dairy products.  And finally, there are NO additives or any flavorings, and I can barely taste it in my smoothies.  I highly recommend it!

Next I’d like to talk about tofu and tempeh.  After about two years of avoiding tofu and tempeh I have finally decided to give them a try.  Since I feel that I always need to be highly informed about my food I decided to do a little research on the two.  I found that tempeh is more of a whole food because it is actually made from the soybean, higher in protein and vitamins, and the proteins and vitamins are easier for the body to claim because of the fermentation process used to make tempeh.  Whereas tofu is made from soymilk, making it not a whole food, and contains more phytates which inhibit the bodies absorption of nutrients.  I still think that both foods contain a good source of protein and vitamins.  But from now on I will be choosing tempeh!

My only caveat about buying soy products is that soy is often GMO, which is why I stayed away from them for so long.  So my advice if you choose to eat either tempeh or tofu you MUST buy organic!  GMO foods are incredibly disastrous not only to our health, but to the environment as well.

 

Rice Dish March 8, 2010

Rice dishes can be used as a low maintenance healthy dish.  If you have a rice cooker than it’s even easier.  This rice dish is adapted from the famous Moosewood cookbooks.  I’ve made for Dwight and at potlucks and the responses have always been great.

Ingredients:

For the rice:

  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice
  • 1 & 3/4 cups water

To throw on the rice:

  • 1 cup chopped pineapple
  • 1/2 cup diced tofu or tempeh
  • 1/2 cup of raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped red pepper
  • 1/2 cup sesame seeds

For the dressing (optional):

  • 1/2 cup OJ
  • 1/2 cup sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)

What I usually do is I throw the rice on the stove, or throw it in the rice cooker.  Then I start preparing the veggies and the dressing.  You don’t need to steam or cook the veggies unless you want to.  I would prepare the vegetables and throw them in a large bowl, when the rice is done you can mix the two together.  The dressing isn’t necessary, but works well with the dish.  You can add whatever veggies you want to the dish, but this is a good way to add some raw veggies with a cooked grain.

When we eat too many different types of cooked food at one time it may be difficult for our bodies to handle.  Categories of foods would be grains, starchy vegetables (potatoes), cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, kale), vegetable fruits (cucumbers, tomatoes), fruits and so on.  This is because cooked foods lack enzymes which are necessary for digestion.  The body has to draw upon its reserve of enzymes in the pancreas.  When you eat several types of food, the body needs to draw upon several types of digestive enzymes and fluids.

Have you ever felt tired after a meal?  It may have been the result of combining too many different types of cooked foods.  It’s good to give our bellies a break now and then!