Food for Thought: What is healthy?

When it comes to nutrition, I prefer to discuss facts, and I enjoy the excitement I feel cultivating inside of me when I read a scientific article about how some scientist somewhere discovered that eating meat gives you cancer. No, I don’t enjoy reading these things because I’m a crazy vegan and I’m thrilled that meat gives you cancer. I’m simply intrigued by findings such as these because they depict advancements in nutritional research. They exemplify the hope in finding ways in which to prevent the terminal illnesses that thrive amongst us from taking our loved ones, and they prove the potential of cultivating cures for those who are already infected. Needless to say, science is awesome.

However, as I sit here in my living room, I begin to ponder about what defines health, and if data from a group of participants in a ten year study, or numbers on a graph can disclose the means necessary to live a long, happy and healthy life. Yes, thanks to science there are now activities such as eating a lot of red meat or smoking that are known to cause insalubrious health. Nevertheless, I want to look beyond the generalities for a moment and consider the needs of the individual. After all, people are different, and may consequently need different things in order to live healthy lives.

Is there more to the health recipe than the chef wrote? Is there a secret ingredient; a large factor contributing to our health that many of us often overlook? Perhaps there is something that may aid in answering the dire question of what optimal health actually is, and how to attain it. I realize that the answer to that question may be so far beyond our reach that only individuals decades from now will be able to answer it. Then again, maybe our ancestors were on the right track with ancient practices that time and technology have seemed to neglect. While we may never be able to find a direct answer, I believe that we must consider the teachings of the ancient practice of yoga.

I am a certified yoga instructor, and while I was undergoing my teacher training, I learned about the different aspects of self according to Hinduism. One of those aspects is known as Satya, which is simply non-falsehood. This is different from truthfulness. It is simple to be truthful. For example if I ask you what the weather is like outside you can say that it is sunny. When I think that it is sunny outside, I automatically think of a warm summer day, but what if it’s cold out? You did not lie by telling me that it was sunny outside, but you neglected to tell me that it was also cold out. If you tell me that it is cold and sunny outside that would be considered Satya because you are telling me the whole truth about the situation.

Now how does this relate to food and your body? Well, if you haven’t already figured this out, the purpose of consuming food is to provide your body with energy. If you ever consume something that makes you tired, or causes you to take a nap (and you’re beyond infancy), chances are your body does not need it. Food is supposed to feel clean, it should not cause stomach pain or indigestion. Food is not meant to make you obese (take a look in the mirror). Most importantly, plant based foods such as whole grains, vegetables and fruits are composed of a non soluble fiber known as cellulose. Due to the human body’s inability to break down cellulose and use it for energy, it is excreted. Animal based foods are not so easily excreted because your body can break down the components of these foods and store them as energy (fat). Essentially what I’m getting at here is ask yourself: Do you poop enough? Do you poop too much? This may indicate that you may be allergic to something you regularly consume. Do you ever feel guilty after eating something that’s considered to be bad for you? So why did you do it? Because you’re not tuned in enough with your own body when you reach for that pack of Oreos to tell yourself (and actually believe) that you don’t need them.

All of these things contribute to overall health and well being. By implementing a simple yoga practice at least twice a week, meditating, or simply taking a few conscious breaths throughout the day you can become more aware of your internal needs. When we become more aware of our internal needs we can become honest with ourselves, and practice satya to help make better decisions throughout our day. Now this concept doesn’t only relate to food, it can relate to anything you experience in your life. Begin to take conscious breaths at home, at the workplace, around friends, while you’re shopping, or anywhere where you need to make a decision about something that will either enhance your life or degrade it.

My logic may not be a straight forward answer to what health is, nor is it a concept or practice that will make you super skinny in three days (if you presume that getting skinny = healthy), but I think it is worth a shot. If we can understand our needs, then we can be honest with ourselves, and only bring factors into our lives that enhance them. If we fail to be conscious, we wander around like zombies stuck in a rut unable to fulfill the needs of their bodies. Correct me if I’m wrong, but living an unconscious life doesn’t exactly sound like the epitome of health to me.

What are Antioxidants?

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Which of the two images look more appetizing? If you chose the image with the burger held by a hand, it’s probably due to its vibrant coloring, and detail. Have you ever thought about why fruits and vegetables are so colorful? Probably not. Well, it just so happens that there is a scientifically sound story as to why these superfoods are so vibrant, and ironically enough, it all has something to do with why we consume them.

You see, fruits and vegetables are filled with these things called antioxidants, which are responsible for giving fruits and vegetables their appetizing colors. It’s safe to say that you’ve heard it at least once in your lifetime that you need to consume antioxidants, or that antioxidants keep you healthy, right? But have you ever wondered why? What exactly are antioxidants? Let me break it down for you.

What are antioxidants?

According to Dr. T. Colin Campbell, PhD, author of the infamous China Study, antioxidants are chemicals that exist solely in plants. (They only exist in animal-based foods to the extent that animals eat such plants and store the antioxidants in their tissues. Animals do not naturally produce antioxidants.) Anyway, when a plant absorbs light energy it converts this light energy into usable energy or food via photosynthesis, which is simply the process by which electrons bounce from molecule to molecule inside of the plant’s leaf.

Dr. Campbell claims that this process however, is highly complex, and must be managed very carefully. If these electrons stray from their rightful paths, they can wreak havoc in the plant and cause large amounts of damage, similar to the way high amounts of radiation can cause DNA damage in humans. These electrons that essentially sway away from their rightful paths are known as free radicals. However, plants take care of these horrible free radicals by using their antioxidants to form a shield around them, and intercept them so they do not cause damage to the plant tissue. That is why fruits and vegetables have such vibrant colors, because the chemical properties responsible for doing away with nasty free radicals are the same chemical properties responsible for absorbing visible light. That is also why humans are drawn to colorful foods that are aesthetically pleasing in nature, and deem them as appetizing because subconsciously, through human nature, our bodies understand the necessity for consuming such foods.

According to Research Gate however, there is an issue. If the ratio of free radicals to antioxidants is too great, the plants cells will die due to its inability to intercept and scavenge free radicals that cause the plant damage. Below is a diagram from Research Gate  exemplifying the process by which plants detoxify themselves with free radicals. The right side portrays potential cell death. ROS simply stands for Reactive Oxygen Species or free radicals.

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How do antioxidants benefit humans?

Wonderful! Plants have the ability to save themselves. So why do we care? Well, it just so happens that throughout our lifetime we naturally create low levels of free radicals in our bodies, causing our bodied to become rigid and stiff. This is essentially what aging is. With poor diet and little to no exercise, free radicals can cause hardening of arteries, cataracts, arthritis, and many other downfalls of aging.To make matters worse, due to the fact that humans do not carry out photosynthesis, they do not create the antioxidants necessary to combat the effects of free radicals.

However, there is good news. The way antioxidants work miracles in plants, is similar to the way they work in animals. In order to rid our bodies of these nasty chemicals, we must consume antioxidants. Some antioxidants take form in what are known as carotenoids, such as betacarotene or lycopene which exist in red, orange and yellow colored fruits and vegetables. Other antioxidants are colorless and exist as vitamin E and vitamin C.

Further research regarding antioxidants has suggested that low levels of antioxidant consumption can lead to the formation of diseases such as cancer. (To find out more, read the China Study by T. Colin Campbell, or view his webpage for scientific evidence on why living a plant based life is beneficial).

The take away message from all of this? You’re parents were right when they scolded you about eating your vegetables. After all, mom always knows what’s best. Fill your body with vibrant colors, fruits and vegetables. Who knows, one day it may even save you from acquiring an illness, or it may even elongate your life. Fill your plate with fresh produce, it will only be the veganing.

Also, below are some charts exemplifying antioxidant rich foods to help kickstart your new plant based lifestyle. Enjoy:)

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 (Image via pinterest.com)

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(Image via Whatishealthfood.net)

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(Image via lethal.com)

Vegan In Florence: Central Market

Do you love pizza? Of course you do, who doesn’t?  Just admit it, whether you’re vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, paleo, pescatarian or whatever else you could possibly identify as, you most definitely love pizza in all of its forms. Aside from pizza, you probably also love burgers (more or less), in all of its shapes and sizes. For all of you vegans and non vegans alike, I have found the perfect location in Florence to indulge in these mouth watering treats. Also, if you’re looking for something a bit healthier, this place also offers several fresh pressed juice stands, salad stands, and more.

Welcome to Mercato Centrale Firenze, a.k.a. Florence’s famous Central Market. By day the downstairs portion of the completely indoor market is home to local food vendors as well as vendors from several places around the globe, each offering their delectable delights. Local vendors produce fresh pasta right in front of your eyes, while fruit and vegetable vendors offer only the freshest foods of the season. Vendors from different parts of Italy sell their fresh olive oils, spices, balsamic vinegars and truffles. It is the perfect place to do your grocery shopping, however the downstairs portion of the market closes by 2pm each day.

If you happen to find yourself stumbling upon the market near 2pm and begin to see the vendors packing up downstairs, have no fear because the mini restaurants upstairs are open all day and night. They each offer contrasting cuisine ranging from pizza to sushi and everything in between.

By night this location portrays an atmosphere that is suitable for those on the hunt for a nice glass of wine and a classy meal, as well as those searching for a casual Peroni and pizza. Mercato Centrale is one of my favorite places, and in my opinion should be at the top of anyones to-do list in Florence.

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(Picture via: Insidecom SRL)

My Favorites:

Veg & Veg:

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About: Vegan and vegetarian burger vendor. Also sells soups and create your own salad bowls. Soup of the day always changes, and ingredients are all clearly written out in english. They offer a variety of fresh pressed juices and smoothies.

Pros: Affordable, speak english, healthy, vegan, vegetarian, great food, menu is easy to read, great place for non-vegans and vegetarians as well, can modify to suit dietary needs.

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Soup is served in a bread bowl (yay), salad is served in a tortilla crust. Ingredients are clearly stated. Clear images of food so you know what to expect.

Image left: soup and salad

Image below: each burger

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Cons: Short menu, small stand so there is a long wait when it’s busy, don’t serve water. Other than that it’s great.

Images of food:

Below are images of the Popeye burger. It was very good. The sauce was a bit on the sweet side so if you prefer all savory, do no get this one. Otherwise, it was good.

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La Pizzeria:

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(Picture via: ioamofirenze.it)

About: Best marinara pizza (pizza without cheese) and margherita pizza in Florence. Each pie ranges from 8-10 Euros depending on what you get. They have an upstairs seating area if you don’t want to sit amongst a crowd of others also eating in the market.

Pros: Offer vegan pizza (a.k.a. pizza without cheese), friendly staff, affordable, customizable pizza, english speaking staff, english menu, seating area, suitable for vegans and non vegans.

Cons: Slightly on the pricey side for pizza. You can get pizza elsewhere in Italy for about 5 euros. Other than that, it was good.

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Picture above: Marinara pizza. It is served with olives, oregano and fresh garlic.

Visit Mercato Centrale, find your own favorites, and comment about them below. For now try the ones I’ve mentioned above, it will only be the veganing.

 

 

Vegan Truffle Pasta

Ciao from Italia! I’m really enjoying my time studying abroad in Florence, Italy. Since I began my journey here, I’ve become very inspired by the culture, the scenery, and especially by the food. I’ve subconsciously made it a goal of mine to try and cultivate new vegan recipes using local ingredients from the markets I have visited. Out of the many amazing ingredients I’ve come across during my time here, I have become most intrigued by creating a vegan recipe using truffles. Personally, I think that mushrooms are the perfect meat substitute due to their ability to absorb flavor, so I figured why not create something delicious and nutritious using the most highly valued mushroom in the world; the truffle.

If you are planning on studying abroad in Florence, Italy any time soon, you can purchase all of these ingredients in Italy. The truffle “cream” (doesn’t actually contain any dairy) was from the central market as were the mushrooms, shallots, sun-dried tomatoes and garlic. The parsley and Rice cream were from a health food store in Italy called Coop (it’s amazing). I have tagged the location of the central market in this blog post. Now let’s cook!

Recipe:

Ingredients:
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2 medium sized shallots chopped img_2089

2 garlic cloves chopped

1 Tbsp fresh parsley chopped

1 handful of basil chopped

1 1/2 cup mushrooms chopped

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes

1 container vegan cream sauce (or cashew cream, or any other vegan cream substitute that you like. worst case scenario, you can add almond milk and a little flour to thicken it up)

1 tsp truffle oil OR minced trufflesProcessed with VSCO with c1 preset

1 Tbsp salt

1 Tbsp pepper

1 Tbsp garlic powder

2 Tbsp olive oil

Method:

  1. On medium heat sauté mushrooms and shallots for approximately 2-3 minuets or until soft.img_2114
  2. Add salt, pepper and garlic powder. Once shallots and mushrooms are soft add garlic, and sauté for another minuet.
  3. Add cream sauce of choice, bring mixture to a boil and then reduce mixture to a simmer. img_2087
  4. While sauce is simmering, cook pasta and drain it.
  5. Place cooked pasta back into the pot, transfer sauce into the same pot and reduce heat to low. Stir to combine pasta and sauce.
  6. Add basil, parsley and sun-dried tomatoes to pasta and sauce. Add more salt and pepper to taste if necessary.img_2099
  7. IMPORTANT: literally add 1 small tsp of truffle oil or minced truffles. It is very strong, you only need a little. Stir throughlyimg_2084
  8. Plate, serve and enjoy!Processed with VSCO with c1 preset

 

What is a Vegan?

What is a vegan?

Just the Veganing believes that being a vegan is not about accepting a label; it’s about caring about your body, as well as caring about the environment. That being said, there are different types of vegans. Some vegans don’t eat anything from an animal, but still own leather handbags, jackets and shoes. Some vegans are considered raw vegans, meaning that they do not consume anything from an animal and they do not cook the foods they eat above 100 degrees, if at all. Some vegans chose the lifestyle for the animals, some chose it for themselves. Neither is better or worse or good nor bad, they’re just different. That is why it is unfair to place a label on someone who is considered a vegan. A vegan is simply someone who doesn’t consume anything from an animal. That’s it. They’re not freaky weird hippies, or overly environmentally conscious tree huggers. Personally, I am not one of those vegans that forces their beliefs upon others or judges people for the way they live their life. However, I have found that I love to share nutritional advice, and discuss issues related to food in today’s society. That does not necessarily mean I only talk about why meat is so bad for you or why you shouldn’t harm animals. I’m simply here to talk about nutrition as a whole, and while my beliefs may sway toward veganism, I believe it is important to share the cold hard facts about what is actually in your food.

How do I “go vegan”?

When I first became a vegan, I had no clue where to start. I began to think it was going to be impossible to survive. No meat? No dairy? No eggs? NO CHEESE?! What do I eat? We live in a world where meat is the centerpiece of every meal. We created fixings or side dishes composed of vegetables, starches and whole grains, ignoring the fact that all of these dishes offer us ample nutrition, and proceeded to only focus on the animal as the center of it all. Consider this: What if there was no such thing as Turkey? Would you still be able to have a Thanksgiving meal? Hmm lets see, you would have corn, cream of spinach, salads, green beans, cranberry sauce, potatoes, stuffing, and many other delectable vegetable based side dishes filled with vitamins and nutrients your body needs to survive. So the answer is yes. You could very well survive. Not only would you survive, but you would be thriving, and your body would be incredibly happy with what was inside it. I thought of this scenario when I first became a vegan and I realized that it wasn’t only possible to become a vegan, but it was the best thing I could do for my body. All it took was a little change in perspective.

My journey

Since I have become a vegan, I have read numerous books, scientific articles, vegan food blogs, and nutritional websites related to not only veganism, but to overall wellness. I will reference these books and such in the future. In the midst of acquiring my bachelors degree in biology, I have learned so much about the human body and nutrition that it has become a passion of mine, and I cannot wait to share it with all of you. I’ve also found that it is quite hard to be vegan in foreign countries, therefore, I have decided to add a blog page about how to eat vegan in places all around the globe.

I have found a hard time finding websites and blogs that focus on nutritional research, reasons for becoming vegan, easy vegan food recipes, tips on being a vegan, and just overall factual evidence about food in general. That is what compelled me to write this blog. I love fashion, I love to travel, I love to exercise ( I actually went through a gym rat phase where I consumed way too much protein and BCAA’s and all that) I love adventuring and the environment, I love sports, I teach yoga, I love science, I love having a good time with my friends and right now I love being in college. Most importantly I LOVE FOOD. There was a time when I did consume meat and dairy. I wasn’t born a vegan people. I come from a Hungarian family, and if there is one thing to say about Hungarian’s it’s that they love their meat. So take everything with a grain of salt, as I did years ago when I began my journey. Don’t get offended if I say something bad about meat, or if I say something bad about certain vegetables. When it comes to food, I am here solely to present factual evidence, and to discuss my opinions based on the facts.

One more thing, becoming a vegan has made me the happiest and the healthiest I’ve ever been. This is for all of you out there who are looking for something to jumpstart a healthier, happier lifestyle! Enjoy 🙂

The Good, The Bad, The Cholesterol

What many of those who consume animal products do not understand is that just because a piece of rotting flesh in the grocery store is labeled as “organic”, “free-range”, “antibiotic free”, “hormone free”, or “USDA approved”, doesn’t necessarily indicate that it is healthy. Consumers often overlook or simply neglect to understand how animal products are digested, and what the human body actually absorbs during the process. While the cascade of events during digestion aren’t exactly enticing, and I’d rather not put you to sleep, I find it absolutely necessary to understand cholesterol, and the truth behind its role in our bodies.

I’m sure at one point or another you’ve heard that having high cholesterol is bad, but what  is cholesterol? Where does it come from? Why is it bad? According to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, cholesterol is simply a waxy substance that is found in the lipid bilayer of all cell membranes.

cell_basic_partsHere is a quick little science lesson for all of you: To the left is an image of a cell. You have tons of cells in your body, and the outside layer of a cell is called a cell membrane or lipid bilayer. Cholesterol is imbedded in the lipid bilayer, and it allows the cell to be fluid, as seen in the image below. cell20membrane20with20cholesterolBasically, cholesterol helps your cells produce membranes, hormones and Vitamin D, and is therefore vital for survival. There are two different kinds of cholesterol, high density lipoprotein (HDL), and low density lipoprotein (LDL). LDL is the bad kind of cholesterol because it is mostly composed of fat, hence the term low density lipoprotein. (low amount of protein, more fat) Get it? According to WebMD, since fat is sticky, when this type of cholesterol moves through the blood stream it can stick to the sides of your arteries. This action can be fatal as it can cause arteries to completely clog up, allowing absolutely no blood to pass through and get to where it needs to go. On the other hand, HDL is considered to be good cholesterol because it is composed of a higher amount of protein and a lower amount of fat, hence the term high density lipoprotein.

So why do we care? Well, as I mentioned before high levels of bad cholesterol can be fatal, especially when combined with smoking, high transfat intake and vitamin C deficiency. All cholesterol consumed comes solely from animal products. That’s right, plants have absolutely no cholesterol. I know what you’re thinking: How am I going to get enough cholesterol if I don’t consume any animal products? Don’t worry there is good news. Believe it or not, your body makes ALL of the cholesterol it will ever need, therefore, there is no need to consume any extra. If you consume a little extra here and there, your liver will get rid of it, but a high intake of cholesterol filled foods can lead to serious health implications such as heart failure, obesity, diabetes and even cancer.

I understand that reading things such as this blog post often send people into panic mode about their health, similar to the way FOOD INC. or Cowspiracy convinces people daily to save the planet by no longer consuming animals. (if you’d like to check out these awesome documentaries by the way click the links) However, there is hope when it comes to saving your health. What many people don’t understand is that your body will stop at nothing to protect you. It is an extremely powerful and well designed machine that when fed the proper fuel will work its hardest to purify itself. It is never to late to change your life around.

Think you may need to lower your cholesterol? According to HealthAliciousNess, foods rich in monounsaturated fat are the most efficient in lowering bad cholesterol levels. Some examples include, garlic, avocados, olives, peanuts, extra virgin olive oil, chia seeds and walnuts. I will be posting a recipe incorporating chia seeds very soon.

With everything I write, please take the time to understand that I am not trying to make you feel bad about eating meat or dairy products. I am simply sharing my ideas, and some facts that I’ve come across about healthy diets. Take everything with a grain of salt, and take a moment to decide whether the lifestyle you are currently living is truly healthy. If not, try something new. It will only be the veganing.

 

Shake Cafe Florence Italy

For all of you vegans out there planning on visiting the lovely city of Florence, Italy, have no fear, veganism is here! When I initially made the decision to study abroad here, I was extremely nervous about how I would survive as a vegan in a place that essentially revolves around meat filled pasta dishes and cheesy pizzas. I am pleased to inform you that being a vegan in Italy is nearly as easy as being a vegan at home in the states. While there are several vegan eateries I have discovered, one of the first ones I stumbled upon is a place called Shake Café.

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In picture: Apple, carrot, ginger cake and cappuccino.

About:

Envision a modern, sleek, hole-in-the-wall-cafe, filled with plants, pastries, sandwiches and customers eating salads, and sipping on fresh squeezed juices; this is the ambiance of  Shake Café. Being that it is fairly quaint (can seat about 12-15 people), I wouldn’t necessarily recommend going with a large group of friends, however it is a perfect place to grab a vegan cappuccino, a fresh squeezed juice or a quick bite to eat. They offer a large variety of juices and smoothies, however they use dairy in all their smoothies except for the tropical one, so if you’re vegan I suggest sticking to the juices. Shake Café offers a variety of wraps and salads, however not all of their food is strictly vegan, so if you ever find yourself hanging with your non vegan friends, and are in the mood for something delicious, this is absolutely a place for them too. Everything that is vegan is clearly labeled so you will never feel like you don’t know what to expect. (This has been a struggle for me in a lot of foreign countries).

Best Food:

-Acai bowl: You can create your own. I suggest adding peanut butter, granola, fruit and vegan protein powder.

-Quinoa Salad: Quinoa, spinach, walnuts, lettuce, pears. Dressing: Dijon mustard, balsamic, olive oil, salt, pepper.

-Vegan Bagel: Made fresh every morning. Perfect for a grab and go: Hummus, tomato and spinach on multigrain bagel.

-Vegan “Ruben” Wrap: Not a traditional Ruben at all. This comes as a wrap with tofu, sour kraut, kale, avocado spinach and hummus. Only get this if you like sour kraut.

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In picture: Vegan Ruben wrap

Best Drinks:

-Boost Juice: carrot, lemon, ginger, orange

-Digestion Juice: Pineapple, grapefruit, lemon, carrot

-Iron man Juice: strawberries, kiwi, apple

-Tropical Juice: strawberries, orange, pineapple, apple

-Vegan cappuccino: (Rice/Almond/Soy) (best with soy milk)

-Tropical smoothie: same as juice with protein powder (100% vegan)

Best Desserts:

-Carrot, apple, ginger cake

-Vegan tiramisu

-Vegan croissant

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In picture: Vegan croissant

Prices:

-Juices: small: 4 euro, Large: 5 euro

-Cappuccino: Small: 1.50 euro, Medium: 2.50 euro, Large: 3.50 euro

-Vegan croissant: 1.50 euro, cakes/other desserts: range in price, around 2-3 euro a slice.

-Wraps: 6 euro

-Salads: 7.50 euro

Perks:

-Cozy

-Friendly staff

-Staff speak english

-Free wifi

-Vegan protein powder

-Affordable

-Fresh food

-One of the only places in Italy that has organic peanut butter

-Coffee/food to go

Drawbacks:

-Very small

Tips:

-How to say “to go” in Italian: ” da portare via”.

-Get the cappuccino with soy milk; it foams the most.

-Get there early for a fresh vegan croissant.

 

Mo Meat, Mo Problems (Pink Slime)

My go to meal as a kid was always a hamburger and fries. Who doesn’t love a nice juicy burger with a side of crisp deep fried potatoes? The above picture looks good right? It’s vegan.

Have you ever considered why you like burgers so much? Is it really the meat itself, or is it more so the crisp red onion, the seasoning, the juicy tomato, the  sharp cheese or the crunchy lettuce? What about the ketchup, mayo or mustard so many of us drown our burgers in? Or the Mac sauce on a delicious Big Mac, is it that? Having thought about it, you can’t actually sit here and argue that the meat is the major component of a burger. What if there was scientific evidence that suggested that this meat was no longer considered good for you?

I know, I know, everyone absolutely hates to read the sentence: What if there was scientific evidence that suggested that this meat was no longer considered good for you? For the majority of many of our lives meat is considered the centerpiece of each meal. Some may argue that you cannot have a meal without some sort of meat on the plate. The issue with that kind of thinking is that many people tend to neglect plant protein, and think that if there isn’t a dead carcass rotting on the plate, that there is no meal to be had. There are two kinds of protein in this world: animal protein and plant protein, however plant protein just happens to be a bit better for you. (If you want to learn more about the harms of animal protein you can find it in my Protein and Cancer  post). While various forms of meat cause health implications, let’s just focus on the health implications of burger meat, and what is actually in the everyday burger.

Have you ever heard of pink slime? Pink sludge maybe? According to the online journal Omics International, pink slime is a meat based food additive composed of animal tendons and cartilage all mushed up that is treated in ammonia gas to kill bacteria. Ever heard of what Ammonia gas can do to humans? According to the New York State Department of Health, “Ammonia interacts immediately upon contact with available moisture in the skin, eyes, oral cavity, respiratory tract, and particularly mucous surfaces to form the very caustic ammonium hydroxide” (NYSDH). Ammonium hydroxide causes implications that lead to cellular destruction. “As cell proteins break down, water is extracted, resulting in an inflammatory response that causes further damage”(NYSDH).  Basically, ammonia gas exposure + meat = ammonia hydroxide = cellular damage = further implications. Let me make it more clear: This stuff is NOT GOOD FOR YOU!

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Where do you find pink slime you ask? Burger meat. You may have heard that this slime is popular in low quality burger meats, in burgers from fast food chains, and in burger meats that are inorganic. However, according to the documentary Food Inc. pink slime is found in 70% of the burger meat produced in the USA. So, if you think that you’re getting away from this awful sludge by buying ground beef from your local grocery store chances are that the burger meat you are buying is no less infested with pink slime than the fast food burger meat you just had for lunch. But don’t just take my word for how horrible this stuff is for you, see it for yourself by clicking the following link for a short clip from Food Inc.

Next time you’re at your local supermarket staring at the ground meat, pondering on whether or not you should consume loads of fat and pink sludge, I suggest you take a trip down the healthy frozen food isle. One of my personal favorite meat alternatives is Beyond Beef, you should give it a try. (You can also order Beyond Beef products online if for some reason your local grocer doesn’t carry it). If for some reason you don’t believe that you can receive enough protein and iron from plant based products take a look at this little chart put together by Beyond Beefbeyond

Like I’ve said before, I’m not into bashing meat products, but facts are facts. You cannot sit here and honestly say that you want to consume harmful chemicals, that you wish to raise your bad cholesterol levels and that you wish to consume ample amounts of hormones and GMO’s. Eat things that you know for a fact are free of harmful additives. Eat clean. Eat naturally. Live well. Try something new, it will only be the veganing.

 

Christmas Eve Tofu Scramble

Personally, I love breakfast. I think one of the hardest things for me when I became vegan was figuring out what to eat for breakfast. Being that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it’s important to fill your body with goodness from the minute you wake up. 
Tofu is packed with essential amino acids and protein, and is therefore essentially a perfect food to help jump start your busy day. Peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C, while broccoli is known to decrease ones risk of diabetes, heart disease and obesity. It has also been known to reduce ones risk of colon cancer. Tumeric, another predominant ingredient in tofu scramble is an excellent anti inflammatory, and can even help boost your immune system! This tofu scramble sounds like a pretty perfect breakfast to me. But don’t take my word for it, let’s have a look at the numbers: 

Nutrition facts for 1 egg

78 calories

5 grams total fat

1.6 grams saturated fat 

187 mg cholesterol

62 mg sodium

0.6 g carbohydrates 

0.6 g sugar

6 g protein 

Not bad right? Except keep in mind, the average person eats approximately 2-3 eggs for breakfast plus white toast plus approximately 5 pieces of bacon. According to CalorieKing, when you combine all of those things you’re consuming upwards around 230 calories and 18 g of fat from the bacon, 120 calories from 2 slices of white bread, and 234 calories and 15 g of fat from the eggs for a whopping total of 584 calories and 33 g of saturated fat. Not to mention all of the hormones and added chemicals used to process the bacon and white bread that will do nothing but make you fat. And that’s just breakfast! Let’s take a look at a healthier option:

Nutrition facts for 1 package of tofu: 

80 calories

4.5 g fat

0.5 g saturated fat 

0 g cholesterol

10 mg sodium

2 g carbohydrates 

0 g sugar

8 g protein 

Well? What do you think? Keep in mind, you aren’t usually consuming an entire package of tofu. One package usually serves 4, however if you’re only putting tofu scramble on the plate one package could be split between 2. Therefore, all of the values above are split in 4 or 2. I split my scramble between two people so we consumed a total of 40 calories, 2.25 g of fat and 4 g of protein. Not to mention we consumed NO cholesterol, NO sugar, less sodium, and each pack of tofu contains approximately 15% calcium and 10% iron. Combined with the broccoli, red bell pepper, onion, and some fruit we are consuming 55 calories from the broccoli and 3.7 g protein 0g fat, 133 calories and 1 g of protein from the red bell pepper, 140 calories and 2 g protein from the onion. The 2 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil equate to 28 g of total fat, however, only 4 g of saturated fat. Add a clementine with 0 g fat, 38 calories, 6.8 g sugar and .6g protein and were at a whopping total of 406 calories and 4 g saturated fat, a fair amount of protein and no added hormones and unwanted chemicals. There are the facts, now you decide which option is better. 

All nutrition fact values from calorie king.

Every Christmas Eve my family makes a big deal about making breakfast together so that we can spend some quality time together as we wait for Santa to arrive. This year I took initiative and decided to make everyone some veggie tofu scramble Christmas Eve style. It wasn’t until after the meal that I told them it was actually tofu that they were eating, and they couldn’t believe it. (Being vegan, I faked eating a bowl of cereal while the others thought they were eating eggs). Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. I’ll stop at nothing to try and make my family the healthiest they can be, even if it means being a little sneaky sometimes. 

Recipe: 

Ingredients:

1 package of extra firm tofu

1/2 head of broccoli chopped 

1 red bell pepper diced 

1/2 large onion sliced

2 Tbsp salt

1 Tbsp black pepper

2 1/2 Tbsp Tumeric 

1 tsp paprika 

2 tsp garlic powder

2 Tbsp spy sauce 

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil 

Method

Drain tofu and cut into 6 even cubes. 

Take paper towel and squeeze each cube of tofu until all moisture is removed. (Tofu will no longer be drippy when rid of moisture) this may require several paper towels, but I find that it is the easiest way to rid tofu of moisture. 

Crumble moisture free tofu onto a plate and set aside. 

In a medium sized sautée pan add oil and turn on medium heat. Add onions. Add 1 Tbsp salt, black pepper and paprika. Allow onions to caramelize for approximately 5 minutes. 

And broccoli and bell peppers. Stir occasionally. Cook until soft. 

Add tofu. Stir mixture. Add the rest of the seasonings, but not soy sauce yet! Mix throughly so tumeric can coat all of tofu. Cook for about 3 minuets and add soy sauce. You should taste your scramble at this point and if you feel the need to add anymore salt do so now. Cook for another 2 minuets, or until scramble is warmed throughout. Serve with multigrain toast and your favorite fruit. Enjoy! Happy holidays!  

Nature Potentially Cures Cancer: The Blushwood Berry and EBC-46

What are some of the things that come to mind when you think of cancer treatments? Perhaps you envision some sort of chemotherapy treatment, or a bottle of expensive pills used to target specific genetic mutations that may have caused the horrid disease to develop. While these treatments have been proven to save some of cancers victims, research suggests that there is a natural cure that deems promising in curing cancer.

Introducing the berry from a Blushwood tree. Blushwood trees are located in the North Queensland rainforest in Australia and they contain a chemical known as EBC-46. According to professor Peter Parsons researcher at the Queensland Institute of Medical Research, this miracle EBC-46 has the ability to haemorrhage the tumor causing bruising around the afflicted area and then after a few days, the tumor essentially dies.

How does this fruit do this you ask? Well let’s take a look at a simplified version of what’s really going on here.

310px-ebc-46-svg_

The above image is a representation of the chemical EBC-46, which is derived from the blushwood berry. When cancer forms, your body has ways of trying to stop it from further developing. The four regulators are known as proto-oncogenes (which when mutated are known as oncogenes), tumor suppressor genes, apoptosis, and telomerase genes. When there is a mutation in each of the genes, cancer can develop. Once cancer develops it continues to grow and divide and turn into a tumor. For a tumor to develop it essentially needs something supplying it with blood and nutrients so that it can continue to grow. One player in the game of supplying the tumor with blood is a protein kinase known as Protein kinase C. A protein kinase is simply a molecule that regulates numerous cellular responses including gene expression, protein secretion, cell proliferation, and the inflammatory response. According to researchers at Harvard University, EBC-46 has the ability to target protein kinase C and inhibit it, which in turn causes the tumor to die because it is no longer has the ability to synthesize proteins it needs to survive. According to the Queensland Institute, the inhibition of  protein kinase C helps destroy the blood vessels that supply the tumor with the oxygen and the nutrients it would need for survival. Pretty exciting stuff right?

So how is it that we know that the inhibition of protein kinase C helps kill tumors? Well, as it turns out, there has actually been research done on the inhibition of protein kinase C in the past. There was a drug developed known as PMA, which inhibited protein kinase C. However, according to PubMed, in clinical trials the drug was causing severe side effects, and was therefore not beneficial. (More information about PMA here).

While the previous drug developed caused severe side effects, there is hope when it comes to this new comer EBC-46. According to Dr. Glen Boyle, a researcher at the Queensland Institute the new drug developed from EBC-46 has been injected into several melanoma models such as head, neck and colon models and has caused rapid breakdown of the tumors present. EBC-46 has also been injected into several cats, dogs and horses, and has decreased the size of, if not completely destroyed the tumors.

The drug is still being developed, and has more recently been tested in patients. It has yielded impressive results. A woman in Australlia potentially facing amputation participated in the study and claimed that after only 20 minutes after injection of EBC-46 the tumor began changing color, and then after a few days the tumor “shriveled up and died”. (Check out the video here).

So there you have it, science and nature working hand in hand to potentially produce answers to questions about curing cancer that we have been asking for over 30 years now. For now, the takeaway message for all of you is remember to eat your fruits and veggies, especially your berries. It could potentially save your life, and that will only be the veganing.