How to Make a Vegan Menu

How to Make a Vegan Menu

Vegan Menu Plan Made Easy

When you want to eat a healthy vegan diet, it's important always to have that kind of food in your fridge. Vegan menu planning is necessary and a bit different than making an omnivore menu plan. In three easy steps, I show you how to do exactly that. Of course, there are also kind people out there, that will do it for you. Some are even free and some are paid. At the end of this post, I have included those websites I know of that offer a vegan menu plan made easy.

Let's start a vegan menu plan

The First Step is to decide which starch and protein you want to build your meals around. Starches are important because they make you feel full and gives you the most needed plant fibers. You want your meals to be both hearty and satisfying.

Good sources of plant-based proteins are legumes and beans, quinoa, tofu, tempeh, nuts, and of course foods made from these ingredients. Good forms of starches are brown rice, beans, whole grain wheat or whole grain pasta, winter squash and potatoes, especially sweet potatoes.

The Second Step is the texture. Often meals with only one texture have a tendency to get bored fast. Not only boring meals but you will also not feel satisfied. When I talk texture I am talking about creamy, crunchy, smooth and firm.  Whatever you decide to cook be sure to include at least two different textures per meal. An example: A regular green salad could transform into a hearty meal by adding firm baked tempeh, crunchy sesame seeds, creamy avocado, and smooth cashew dressing on top.

The Third Step is to upgrade the nutrient density. Which foods are nutrient dense? Leafy greens and cruciferous veggies are some of the most nutrient-dense foods you can add to your meals. Leafy greens are chard, collard greens, and kale. Cruciferous veggies are cabbage, broccoli, and radishes.

OK, here is how I did my last meal:

  1. I chose Garbanzo beans / chickpeas as the starch / protein, then I thought about what to make of the beans. I love casseroles, so a garbanzo casserole it will be.
  2. Next to think of is the texture, a casserole will be smooth if I put coconut milk in, I will need something crisp, so I will top with a few raw slices of onion. Serve with bread with avocado spread for the crunchiness.
  3. To amplify the nutrient density I will serve, as a side boiled cauliflower.

So, I will serve a Garbanzo Bean Casserole, with vegetables, topped with slices of red onion & a slice of bread with avocado spread with nutritional yeast on the side.

Below an Italian Garbanzo Bean Casserole Recipe

Ingredients: (serves 4)

  • 1 large spaghetti squash, shredded
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (500 grams)
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced (approx.16 slices)
  • 1/2 cup sliced Kalamata black olives (100 grams)
  • 3 large white mushrooms, sliced

Homemade Tomato Basil Sauce:

  • 1 can No-Salt tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (a handful)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon dried parsley

Additional Toppings:

  • 1 to 2 Tablespoon Nutritional Yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon dried basil (for sprinkling on top)

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F / 175°C.
  • Microwave the spaghetti squash for 5 minutes or until you can easily cut it and fork out the strands. Prepare the remaining of the vegetables and set everything aside.
  • In a bowl mix all the sauce ingredients and give everything a good stir until smooth.
  • In an 8×8″ / 20×20 cm casserole dish, assemble the casserole: Layer the bottom with the squash, next layer chickpeas, then zucchini, olives, mushrooms, and finally the sauce. Top the casserole with nutritional yeast and an extra sprinkle of basil.
  • Put the casserole in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.

Meal Plans

If you want others to make the meals plans for you, here's some good news – there are plenty ‘out there'. Here are those I have tested myself, they are all vegan, clean eating, whole grain and plant based. In other words Healthy Vegan Menus.

#1 is Dr. Gregers – you may want to visit his website at Nutritionfacts Org his website is all about evidence-based nutrition. His meal plans, which are both free and paid versions can be found at Dr. Michael Greger's Meal Plans

#2 is Fork Over Knives price is $9.90 per month, you tailor your meal plans, it's the most comprehensive meal planner I have yet to see. Forks Meal Planner this works great on a mobile too.

#3 PCRM 21 day Vegan Kick-starter Kit – is free. You get an email from them every day with help, tips, and tricks at PCRM

#4 Eat This Much is your personal meal planner and you will need to sign up for an account, which is free. When you set up your profile page you choose if you want to gain weight, maintain or lose weight, your gender, personal measure etc. you can even choose which price level your food budget is. Very cool – you also choose if you want metric or imperial measures! get it at EatThisMuch

#5 PETA has a two week Vegan Meal Plan – it is a two-week sample menu. You can get it at PETA Meal Plan. Also, you can order a Vegan Starter Kit as well PETA Vegan Starter Kit

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How to Make a Vegan Menu 1How to Make a Vegan Menu 3

Is Chocolate Really a Superfood?

Is Chocolate Really a Superfood?

Chocolate a superfood? Yes, it is true! Dark chocolate which is high in cocoa solid, minimum 70%, is now recognized as having many qualities that are beneficial to our health. For many years, chocolate has been viewed as the ultimate comfort food and it has become one of the most popular foods in the world.

The question is, are there any health benefits to consuming dark chocolate? Yes, over-consumption of any food can have a bad effect on general health. Recent studies have shown that eating, in moderation, of dark chocolate has many health benefits. So eating about an ounce of dark chocolate every day is actually a good thing for your health!

The first question that you may ask is why dark chocolate, not milk chocolate? Because dark chocolate comes out in favor when it comes to nutritional benefit. Dark chocolate has more fiber and nutrients and fewer sugars and cholesterol.

The Main Health Benefits Of Dark Chocolate

• Lowers cholesterol. In studies, dark chocolate has proven to lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and increase HDL (good cholesterol). As we know, too much bad cholesterol is not good for us. These studies showed that dark chocolate provided health benefits when it comes to cholesterol.

• It’s good for the heart. Perhaps this is the most well-known reason. Dark chocolate contains nutrients that are known to help lower blood sugar and increase blood flow. Besides, anything that lowers cholesterol is good for the heart. Some factual studies have showed that dark chocolate can reduce cardiovascular death in men by up to 50%. These aren’t scientific studies, but as dark chocolate lowers cholesterol as well as lower blood pressure, these findings are significant.

• It boosts your skin. Dark chocolate contains lots of flavanols, which protect the skin against sun damage. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you can do without sun cream! But, it does mean that the flavanols will reduce the damage on the skin due to the sun. So, if you are planning a summer vacation, then you could start increasing your intake of dark chocolate a few weeks before your holiday. In general, dark chocolate has a positive effect on the skin.

• Can prevent diabetes. Insulin is a word associated with diabetes. Many studies have shown that dark chocolate improves insulin sensitivity. This means that dark chocolate can improve blood sugar levels. Because of its properties, it can be a part of a diabetic diet.

• It’s nutritious. There are many good reasons to chocolate. Of course, chocolate contains calories – up to 242 per 100 grams. This means that we should eat it in moderation. Yet, dark chocolate contains minerals such as iron, magnesium, copper and manganese, zinc, potassium, and selenium. It is also a good source of fiber, containing about 11 grams.

• Good source of antioxidants. Dark chocolate also contains a good amount of antioxidants, which are great for promoting heart health. As well as decreasing the risk of infection, and fighting free radicals in the body. The cocoa tree is one of the best sources of antioxidants on the planet. This means that its fruits – the cocoa pods also have antioxidant properties. Many studies have shown dark chocolate to have a higher amount of antioxidants than blueberries or Acai berries.

Although dark chocolate has a higher calorie, fat and saturated fat content than milk chocolate, its health benefits are much higher than milk chocolate. If you consider that dark chocolate has 22% more iron, four times more fiber, and 242 grams more theobromine (the alkaloid which reduces blood pressure) per half bar than milk chocolate, then the picture becomes clearer that dark chocolate has many health benefits.

It is also worth considering that dark chocolate has fewer carbs and half the sugar of milk chocolate. It’s easy to see why dark chocolate has many health benefits.

Dark chocolate is definitely the preferred flavor of chocolate when it comes to those midnight snacks or holiday treats. Just make sure you don’t overindulge!

7 Herbs To Help You Use Less Salt

7 Herbs To Help You Use Less Salt

Before you decide to use less salt, know that humans need salt. We need 1500 mg of sodium, or 3.8 grams of salt, to replace the amount lost daily on average through sweat and urination. Besides helping to maintain fluid balance and cardiovascular function, sodium and chloride ions also play an important role in the nervous system. So keep your salt intake at a healthy level.

Salt is also the most common ingredient used in cooking. It acts as a preservative, a way to counteract the sweetness of a dish. And it satisfies our taste buds because it enhances the flavor of food.

Almost everybody loves that extra pinch or tablespoon of salt, but, too much salt can lead to several diseases.  High blood pressure being the most common.

Less salt, more herbs

If you need to or are choosing to decrease the amount of salt that goes into your food, consider using herbs as a taste replacement. You may already have these as a staple in your kitchen or in your herb garden.

Most of the food that we consume contains a fair amount of salt in them in their natural state. There isn’t a need to throw in some more.

One of the things people fail to realize is that eating healthy does not have to be misery. In fact, we all want flavor from our food. So, if that extra pinch of salt is important to you then take a look at the seven herbs below that can be used to replace salt.

Dill

Dill is a slightly sour herb that can be  paired with other herbs/spices to create a one of a kind flavor for your meals.

Consider pairing dill with a sweeter herb such as thyme to achieve a nice balance of sweet and sour. Dill can be used in the form of a leaf or in a crushed/dried form, it all depends on what you prefer.

Chives

 Chives are an age-old source of added flavor and it is used and grow worldwide. Chives add a hint of onion to your dish and they already have natural salt content within them.

Chives are perfect for potato soup, chili, or a vegetable stew. They are also great in small amounts, such as sprinkled on your potatoes.

Thyme

Thyme is a great alternative to salt because it comes in several flavor varieties including lemon and orange. There is a slightly salty undertone to thyme, but you also get the bonus of added flavor.

Thyme has a slightly sweet flavor as well and is best used in combination with parsley, oregano, and rosemary.

Thyme blends nicely  with roasted vegetables.

Mint

 Mint is a common herb used that comes in a variety of strengths. You can choose a mint leaf that will give a slight kick or a mint leaf that will change up the entire flavor of your meal.

Mint also comes in several different flavor combinations. You can buy flavors like chocolate mint and orange mint in your local grocery store. These flavors work great in pasta, in baking, and in salads.  Yet, Swiss mint is for desserts only as the taste is sweeter.

Oregano

Oregano is an Italian spice that works best with pasta dishes or added onto the pizza! Due to the spice’s potency and spicy undertones, the herb is an excellent substitute for salt. For an added kick, combine oregano with basil and parsley.

 Allspice

Allspice is a common herb blend amongst several cultures. There is no real “flavor” of allspice; the herb tastes like a blend of juniper, nutmeg, peppercorn, and cinnamon. Yet, it actually comes from a dried berry four in Jamaica.

 The variety of flavors that we taste with allspice makes it a great substitute for salt. Because it can add a unique flavor to your dishes and draw out the flavors of the dish itself.

Basil

Basil leaves are the most common herbs that are used for cooking in India. These leaves are pungent in taste and slightly sweet in nature. It is not just known for its medicinal benefits but also known as a salt alternatives.

Basil is a well-known ingredient in pestos, but it's also great in soups, stews, vegetable bakes and even desserts.

Less salt does not mean less flavor

 There is no need to add loads of salt to your meals in to enhance the flavor or just get that salty kick you crave.

Also, fresh herbs tend to be more flavorful and luscious than dried varieties. Make sure and get fresh whenever you can or grown your own.

There are many herbs that can help you add unique flavors to your dishes and still keep the salty undertones you desire. Take some time to experiment with the herbs mentioned above and decide which flavor combination you like the most!

Should you wish to buy a combination of salt and herbs, then take a look at Herb Salts
7 Herbs To Help You Use Less Salt 57 Herbs To Help You Use Less Salt 7

Sources:

Institute of Medicine

NATIONAL AGRICULTURAL LIBRARY

 

Laughter is the best Medicine

Laughter is the best Medicine

For great health, the diet plays an important role, yet that's not all there is to it. To achieve optimal health, you need a combination of a healthy diet, exercise, and a positive mood. This is where “Laughter is the best medicine” comes in.

Every fall I travel to the South of Europe a nice warm village to stay over the winter. Usually, it's a great time of the year. I enjoy planning and packing, yet, this year it was stressful for me. It started the month before, not knowing if we were going at all, something was needed and fast. Then it was I remembered Laughter Therapy – After a few laughs I started to feel much better,  I stayed stress-free and enjoyed the planning, packing and trip.

Laughter can be infectious. When you hear the sound of laughter, you can’t help but laugh yourself. When laughter is shared among others, it causes a binding between people. It increases both intimacy and happiness.

It is well known that laughter triggers healthy bodily changes and healthy changes in the mind. Laughter can increase your energy level, lessen pain, strengthen the immune system, and protect you from stress. Laughter is the best medicine because it is free, fun, and easy.

Every fall I travel

Laughter is Strong Medicine

Laughter can be a strong antidote to conflict, pain, and stress. There is nothing else that works more dependably or quicker to bring your body and mind into balance than laughter. The use of humor can lighten your burdens, connect you to others, inspire your hope, and keep you focused, alert, and grounded.

With this ability to renew your health and heal you, laughter can be a great resource for whatever problems you may have. It can also strengthen your relationships. It can support your emotional and physical health and well-being.

How Is Laughter Good For Your Health?

Laughter can do many things for your health. These include the following:

  • Laughter can increase your immune system. It can decrease the level of stress hormones within the body and increase the number of immune cells and antibodies you have, which will help you become more resistant to disease
  • Laughter is relaxing. A wonderful laugh can relieve you of stress and physical tension so that your muscles can be relaxed for up to 45 minutes following laughing.
  • Laughter releases endorphins. Endorphins are the body’s feel-good hormones. When your endogenous endorphins are released, you feel a sense of well-being and a reduction in the sensation of pain
  • Laughter can help the heart. Laughter can increase the ability of the blood vessels to nourish all parts of the body. It can increase your blood flow, which can help prevent heart attacks and other types of heart diseases.

The Benefits Of Laughter

Laughter is known to have many health benefits, including physical, emotional, and social benefits.
Some of these include the following:

•    Decreases your stress levels
•    Increases your immunity
•    Relaxes your muscles
•    Protects your heart
•    Lessens pain
•    Lessens fear and anxiety
•    Relieves stress
•    Adds joy to your life
•    Enhances your mood
•    Improves your resilience
•    Attracts other people to us
•    Promotes the bonding among group members
•    Improves teamwork
•    Strengthens relationships

Laughter Can Help Your Emotional Health

Laughter simply makes a person feel good. This good feeling persists even when you are done laughing. Laughter helps you maintain an optimistic and positive outlook. Which means  you can easier get through situations of loss, disappointments, and other difficult situations.

Laughter is more than just a protection against pain and sadness. It gives you the strength and courage to find other sources of hope and meaning. Even when you find yourself in the most difficult of times, laughter or even a smile can take you far when it comes to feeling better. Laughter really is a bit contagious. When you hear someone else laugh, it primes your brain and sets you up to join that person in laughing, too.

Laughter And Mental Health

Laughter is associated with better mental health. Some things laughter can do to improve your mental health include the following:

•    Laughter allows you to relax. A good laugh can lessen stress and increase your energy levels so that you can remain focused and get more things accomplished.
•    Laughter can lessen distress. It is hard to feel sad, anxious, or angry when you are instead laughing.
•    Laughter shifts your perspective. It allows you to see things in a less threatening and more realistic light. Being humorous helps create a psychological distance between you and stressful events so that you don’t feel so overwhelmed.

Laughter Has Social Benefits

When you use humor and engage in playful communication with others, your relationships become stronger. You trigger positive emotions and an emotional connection with those you are laughing with. A positive bond develops—one that can act as a powerful buffer against disappointment, disagreements, and stress. When you laugh with others, this is a more powerful thing than when you laugh alone.

How To Create More Opportunities To Laugh

There are things you can do to increase your chances of laughing. Here are some you might try:

•    Attend a comedy club
•    Watch something funny on television
•    Watch videos of funny animals there are tons on YouTube, or just add the search term “funny   into the YouTube search bar
•    Read the comics in the newspaper
•    Be with people who are funny
•    Share a funny story or joke with another
•    Read a funny book
•    Sponsor a game night with your friends
•    Play with your pet
•    Play with children
•    Do something you think is silly
•    Engage in activities you consider fun

Laughter can do a lot to help you feel better on a physical, emotional, and cognitive level. Don’t be afraid to share a good laugh with others for all around better health.

If you still need suggestions for laughter then click the book cover below:

 

Laughter is the best Medicine 9Laughter is the best Medicine 11Interesting fact about we can cheat the brain with laughter PubMed

Guinness no longer fishy

Guinness no longer fishy

If you are a beer drinker you already know about Guinness´ plan to go vegan in 2016. What is the buzz about? Guinness has been around for 256 years and it that time never felt the pressure from vegan, that is until now. Maybe it´s an Irish thing. The brand has decided it is time for an improvement, although they call it change. Great news for vegans either way.

Since the 19th century, Guinness has filtered out yeast from its signature stout with isinglass. A by-product of fish bladders. Most of the isinglass is removed before the beer hits the market. Guinness answered in several emails, that there are still leftovers in the finished product. You may want to check the answers at http://www.barnivore.com/beer/26/Guinness . This is the reason, Guinness is off-limits.

Yet, many of us vegans still love our Guinness. According to CNBC, online petitions have been circulating asking Guinness to change their filtration process. The brand has announced that, indeed, they are planning to open a new filtration plant in 2016. A plant will finally make our beer vegan-friendly. “Whilst isinglass is a very effective means of clarification, and has been used for many years, we expect to stop using it as the new filtration asset is introduced,” a spokesman told Ireland’s The Times.

Now if only we can petition Baileys to replace  cream with coconut cream, finally we vegans can drink our favorite drinks. 🙂

Should you wish to check other beers for being vegan here´s a fine website dedicated to inform you about just that.

http://www.barnivore.com/ – their search base also includes wine and liquor.

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