Tag Archives: seaweed

Should I eat more plant based diet?

What are the benefits?

Plant based diets (PBD’s) are better for the environment and provide a more sustainable way of eating. There are also health benefits due to eating more plants altering the nutritional profile of your body. 

PBD’s tend to be lower in saturated fat due to less meat. They usually contain higher amounts of fruit and vegetables which means higher fibre content for digestive health (those bowels) and a greater range of antioxidant plus phytochemicals. 

The inclusion of wholegrains provides B vitamins and fibre, beans/pulses for soluble fibre and these help with blood sugar control, soy products provide phytoestrogens that can be helpful in the menopause plus nuts and and seeds that are packed with antioxidants and micronutrients.

Some specific health benefits:

Research shows us that PBDs can lead to lower levels of total and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels. This is going to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease.

 Also improvements can be seen in serum glucose levels which helps in overall health and in type 2 diabetes control. 

There has been shown to be a lower level of overall inflammation in the body. These factors combines are thought to contribute to a reduced risk of chronic diseases. 

Does this mean we should all go vegetarian/vegan? Well not necessarily. What I do think it means is that having a greater emphasis on eating plants sources of food is helpful and healthful. As with all ways of eating there are many ways to do it, so the benefits you see on paper will depend on how you actually approach this way of life. This in my mind is about adding in plant foods more than taking things away. 

Will I be missing out nutrients?

It is perfectly possible to meet your nutritional needs on a PBD. However you will need to be more intentional about it. Planning and being thoughtful about some key nutrients plus a couple of supplements will ensure you get all your body needs.

Protein : It can be easier to get protein from animal sources. However this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be eating plant proteins! Most people in the UK are exceeding their protein needs, especially with the focus on protein in so many snack foods right now.  When calorie needs are met it is more than possible to meet your protein requirements on a PBD. However it is a good idea to vary your protein sources through the week so that cover all those essential amino acids the body needs.

  • Mycoprotein, soya protein and pea protein 
  • Beans and lentils
  • Nuts and seeds 
  • Tofu
  • Eggs and dairy (if these are eaten)

Iron : The recommended daily amount of iron for vegetarians is 1.8 times higher that for non-vegetarians, as iron which comes from plant sources (non-haem iron) is less efficiently utilised in our body than iron which comes from animal sources. Eat iron rich foods daily and all should be well. 

  • Iron fortified breakfast cereals
  • Beans
  • Nuts and seeds 
  • Wholegrains 
  • Dried fruit 
  • Green leafy vegetables 
  • Yeast extract 
  • Eggs, fish and poultry (if these are eaten)
johnny-mcclung-702726-unsplash

Calcium: one of my hobby horses, as I like to look after my bones. Calcium can be lower on a plant based diet but there are plant foods that will help those bones stay strong. Check your plant based milk is supplemented and get on those leafy greens. Some studies show a lower bone mineral density in those not eating dairy, so this is definitely a nutrient to think about. 

  • Fortified dairy alternatives (like: soya or nut milks and yoghurts)
  • Fortified juice drinks
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Dried fruit
  • Tofu
  • Beans, lentils and chickpeas
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Bread
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

 

Vitamin B12: as this is mainly found in animal products it is one of the nutrients you may end up lacking. It is found in yeast extract and most multivitamins/minerals.

Omega 3 : mainly talked about as being in oily fish but also found in seaweed, linseeds and walnuts. If you know you won’t take in many of these foods you could take a supplement.

  • Seaweed (not recommended more than once per week) 
  • Chia seeds, linseeds/flaxseeds, hemp seeds 
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Walnuts and walnut oil
  • Soybeans and soybean oil
  • Tofu
  • Spreads and breads which are fortified with omega 3
  • Oily fish (if this are eaten)
  • Eggs and dairy which are fortified with omega 3 (if these are eaten)
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Iodine: highlighted in some studies as a nutrient that can be low on a PBD, but also on a meat eaters diet too!

  • Iodised salt
  • A limited amount of fortified dairy alternatives (e.g. specific brands of oat milk) 
  • Seaweed (but this is not recommended more than once per week) 
  • Dairy products and seafood (if these are eaten)

Selenium: mainly found in Brazil nuts so not necessarily a problem on  PBD but a good one to be aware of.

  • Brazil nuts 
  • Eggs and fish (if these are eaten)

2017 Food Trends: the hot, the not and the ones to spot.

According to those in the know these are some of the food trends coming our way in 2017. In my cynical mind this usually means things to be wary of or foods that will become super expensive.  However there are also some interesting new foods on the horizon which I’m looking forward to trying.

Wellness Tonics 

Meaning any drink, juice, potion, shot or magical elixir that can boost your health. This year the money is on using alternative medicine’s roots, shoots and leaves. Products such as maca, holy basil, apple cider vinegar, medicinal mushrooms and kava are tipped to be added into the mix. 

Photo by Milo McDowell
Photo by Milo McDowell

Priya says: These alternative medicines are alternative as we don’t have enough research and evidence to prove their benefits. A lot of these drinks are unlikely to contain enough of these ingredients to have a benefit on the body and are likely to be a marketing ploy. There may be some good ones out there, but remember that water is always the best drink to be having, follow that up with plenty of fruit and veggies to pack yourself a wellness punch.

Using up the byproducts 

The waste from making products will be turned into new products. For example using the leftover water from chickpeas as an egg replacement or the left over whey from making Greek yoghurt to create a probiotic drink.

Priya says: I like this. We need to cut down on our food waste, using all the leftovers is a brilliant idea. It is what I try to do in my kitchen and we are all encouraged to do it, so why shouldn’t food manufacturers try too?

Coconut 

Yes the humble coconut is still hot to trot in 2017 with novel products continuing to come out. Tortilla wraps, butter, ice-creams, coconut flour and sugar are all set to be popular. I just hope there are enough coconuts being grown to support this craze.

Photo by Max Lakutin
Photo by Max Lakutin

Priya says: Whilst there is nothing wrong with coconut, in fact it is very nutritious, I do have an issue with it being over-used. We do not need to be having coconut versions of everything and adding coconut oil to foods when it is not needed. Coconut products such as sugar and flour do have some good features such as their low glycaemic index, however the coconut is high in saturated fat and so with all foods it is best to consume it in moderation and wisely.

All things Japanese 

Sushi has been popular for a while (it’s one of my children’s fav meals). Now in 2017 Japanese condiments, pickles and different types of seaweed are coming our way. Mirin, Miso, sesame oil and plum vinegar may not be unheard of in your kitchen but are set to be more popular in our store cupboards.

Photo by Leio Ohshima McLaren
Photo by Leio Ohshima McLaren

Nori is already available in the supermarkets, but more seaweeds such as kelp, wake and dulse are set to follow suit. I personally would love it if there was more of a trend for foraging these for ourselves. Now who wants to show me which seaweed I can pick up off the beach and how to use it?

Priya says: Savoury Japanese flavours such a matcha tea, green tea, azuki bean and mochi are likely to be popping up in recipes for cakes, desserts and breakfasts. All in all I’m excited about this one and look forward to trying new combinations out. 

Condiment Heaven 

Condiments look like they will be big news in 2017. With rare, traditional and new flavours of sauces and dips coming out. Apparently we have pomegranate molasses, beet salsa, mexican hot chocolate spread, plum jam with chia seeds and habanero jam. 

Photo by Ashim de Silva
Photo by Ashim de Silva

Priya says: These all sound exciting but may not fit with the current thinking on reducing sugar intake as many condiments are high in sugar content. Again it is all about how much of these products you have and how often you use them. They can certainly bring flavour and interest to a meal, just remember that a little can go a long way.

Alternative grain pasta 

Ancient and different grains have been increasing in popularity. Partially fuelled by the clean eating brigade, plant based eaters and the gluten free movement.  Quinoa, lentils, chickpeas flour are making popular noodles. Also spiralized veggies will continue to rise and seaweed noodles are set to make headlines. 

Priya says: It is great to have all this variety.  Using different grains is great at it brings more variety into the diet and with that, a broader way to get good quality nutrition into the diet. Although there is absolutely nothing wrong with wheat based pasta, using these other forms of noodles opens up things for people on vegetarian, gluten free and specialist diets plus it makes it more interesting when making meals. 

Purple Foods 

If you like purple then you are in for a treat as purple cauliflower,  black rice, asparagus, carrots, elderberries, beetroot, corn and potatoes are the foods to watch in 2017. 

 

Photot by Peter Hershey
Photo by Peter Hershey

Why purple? The colour indicates higher antioxidant content, it comes from anthocyanins which are action packed nutrients aiding in fighting ageing, cancer and chronic diseases. For example, purple potatoes are high in iron and antioxidants. 

Priya says: Purple foods are an interesting trend and very nutritious so I would certainly recommend eating them. Hopefully this trend may helps make fruit and vegetables more appealing to some people and increase their intake of these foods. Remember that we need to eat a range of fruit and vegetables so focus on eating a rainbow and not just purple foods.

 

What are your fav food trends?

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Umami, Uvuvu, a review.

Umami is firstly such a fabulous word, it reminds me of that televison programme Shooting Stars – anyone know what I mean? The phrase I’m thinking of was “Uvavu” I digress. Umami is a Japanese word for “savoury taste” and together with saltiness, bitterness, sweetness and sourness it is one of the 5 basic tastes. Think marmite, fermented foods and bone broths and seaweed – that kind of flavour. So you possibly love it or hate it! It comes from glutamates in food, mushrooms, cured meats, fish sauce and soy sauce all contain it. Much like a good stock, it is one of those tastes that adds to a food/meal rather than being something you eat in isolation.

I was sent some Clearspring Umami Paste to try out.

 

Dietitian UK: Umami Paste

 

The ginger paste contains soy sauce (wheat containing but only a little so I’m able to tolerate it), cultured rice, water and ginger. Initially I wasn’t too sure what to do with it and life was busy, so it sat eyeing me up on my worktop. Then when the sleep deprivation had leveled out and my creative brain cell had reared it’s head I went to work. I’m already a fan and I’ve not used half the packet. That’s not because I haven’t used it, but because a little does go a long way. With 6.3g of salt per 100g and a  family of young children I also am aware I don’t want to use much of it per meal anyway. 

I’ve been adding this flavour enhancer to stir fries, marinades and casseroles. It really did zing up our stir fry, a little spice from the ginger but mainly a lovely savoury deepness to the sauce. I’ve also found it makes a really quick, easy dressing for salads including my fav go-to noodle salad 

 

salad

A great staple for the store cupboard that will liven up your cooking.

Disclaimer: This product was sent to me free of charge to try out. All views expressed are my own.