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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.

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Food Pyramid Revised October 15, 2010

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

 

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!

 

Necessary Appliances for Easy, Healthy Meals February 20, 2010

The vast majority of Americans eat out several times a week.  How many times a week do you eat out?  When we go out to eat, we let others control what goes into our food.  If you desire to be a healthy eater, then eating out is really not something you want to do frequently.  But if you don’t have the time or the desire to put in some real effort at first then there are some things you can do to help you start.  They do involve you buying certain appliances.

The two important appliances for eating healthy would be a rice cooker/vegetable steamer and a blender.  You could conceivably just live off the food from those two appliances and you would be in great shape.

Rice cooker/vegetable steamer – You can pick up a rice cooker/vegetable steamer at Target or any chain store for about $30.  Steaming vegetables is the cooking method that destroys the least amount of nutrients.  The steamer also does ALL the work for you, when you stir fry, you have to watch the pan anyways.  Who wouldn’t want to do less work and have healthier food?  Steaming certain vegetables can be easier on the digestive system than eating them raw.  Cruciferous vegetables such as brocolli, asparagus and kale can create a lot of gas otherwise.  As for the rice, just measure the water and throw the grains in and it’ll beep when it’s ready.  You really should be eating brown rice or wild rice, since these are the grains with cancer and heart disease fighting agents.  Once the food is done you have yourself what my boyfriend calls a Buddha Bowl, rice and veggies!  If you want some more flavor feel free to add some dressing 🙂

Blender – I posted many many recipes for smoothies.  Blenders make really easy on the go meals that are really healthy.  Suppose you are running late and don’t have time to throw together a sandwich or some other meal.  You can throw a few pieces of fruit and some leafy greens into the blender and you have yourself a tasty, healthy, raw meal.  This will also prevent you from going out to eat on your lunch break.  The best way to stay healthy is to try and prevent situations where you’ll be tempted to eat not-so-healthy food.  If you really want to go the extra mile I would recommend getting the Vita Mix.  This is the blender I use…and it is AMAZING…it is by far the most used appliance in my kitchen.

 

White Rice vs. Brown Rice February 7, 2010

Filed under: Health Facts and Concerns,Health Tips — Yvette @ 2:48 am

As I’m sure you’ve gathered by now I am extremely picky about my food.  Occasionally I go out to eat and I’m VERY particular about this.  Lately I have been frustrated with the fact that practically no restaurants serve brown rice.  Right now my mother would argue that ‘there really isn’t a huge difference.’  I guess this may be a matter of opinion…it just depends how picky you are.

White rice and brown rice have similar amounts of calories, carbs and proteins.  But in the process of making brown rice into white the omega fatty acids are destroyed and the bran is removed.  The Omega 3’s that everyone’s ranting and raving that you MUST get into your diet…are gone.  The iron, magnesium, and b vitamins are also destroyed.

White rice can also store for up to 20 years…and brown rice can store for about 6-12 months.  I view this as evidence that white rice is not really food.  REAL food spoils…processed food doesn’t age…similar to the McDonald’s hamburger.  No worries, I don’t put white rice and McDonald’s on the same level…I just view white rice as a filler, something to take up space in your stomach.

I understand that white rice is very convenient; it stores longer and it costs less.  However those are not the rules which define my eating habits, which is why I don’t eat my side of white rice.

 

Good Fat, Bad Fat and Weight Loss August 10, 2009

Filed under: FAT,Health Facts and Concerns,Health Tips — Yvette @ 4:06 pm

First I do want to apologize for slacking on my posts, life gets busy!

So, I’m sure you’ve all heard at some point in your life that there are good fats and bad fats.  Some people are afraid of fat altogether, but for proper brain functioning we need a good amount of fat in our diet.  Our brains are composed of 60% fat and it needs to be replenished daily.   There are three basic categories unsaturated fats, saturated fats, and transfats.

Transfats should be avoided at all costs (see my post on Hydrogenated fats and Transfats).  These types of fats do not occur naturally and cause a whole slew of problems such as heart disease, cancer and obesity.  As for saturated and unsaturated fat, in general you would want to eat more of the latter.  Neither are harmful to the body, unless they come in large quantities.

Many people avoid fat in general because of weight gain.  The problem with a lot of the fat we ingest is that it is cooked fat, when food is cooked the enzymes die.  Why do we care if the enzymes die?  The enzymes are needed to break down the fat in a way the body can use.  When the enzymes are not present the body pulls enzymes from the pancreas, but it can not always obtain enough so the undigested fats are stored along the waistline.  When you consistently eat cooked fats more and more fat will be stored along the waistline and other fatty areas of the body.  Raw fats contain the enzyme (lipase) needed to break down fat.  Not only will these raw fats break down the fats in the food you are currently eating, but the extra lipase enzymes will break down any stored fats.  So eating raw fats will help counter-act the effects of eating cooked fats.

Some sources of raw fats would be avocadoes, sun-dried olives, raw nuts and seeds.  If you are going to eat cooked fats, then it is a good idea to add one of the foods listed above so there are some lipase enzymes present in your stomach and intestines during the meal.  This will aid your body in digesting the fat and help you not gain weight!