Berry Deliciousness

QUICK!!  While you can, stock up on all the fresh berries you can- these antioxidant powerhouses are the healthiest of all blackberriesfruits.www.nutritionfacts.org  If you’re stuck in the produce aisle or only have a couple of hours at your local pick-your-own farm, check out the graph created by Michael Greger based on work by Carlsen et al (2010) illustrating the antioxidant power of berries and common fruits.  In descending order of antioxidants, here are common fruits:  blackberries > cranberries > raspberries > blueberries > strawberries > mangoes > apples > bananas.  Whenever possible, choose higher antioxidants.

If you’re not aware of the Environmental Working Group’s Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce, you may want to check out the Dirty Dozen Plus: apples, celery, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, grapes, hot peppers, nectarines (imported), peaches, potatoes, spinach, strawberries, sweet bell peppers, kale/collard greens, and summer squash.  While originally referred to as the Dirty Dozen, the Plus highlights two crops- domestically grown summer squash and leafy greens (specifically kale and collards) that did not meet the traditional Dirty Dozen criteria but were commonly contaminated with pesticides especially toxic to the nervous system.

The EWG strongly advocates that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables far outweighs the risks of pesticide exposure.  This is one way I implement my Good-Better-Best approach.  It’s really good to eat fresh fruits and vegetables (lots of them!!).  For those on the Dirty Dozen list, buying frozen and organic is even better, and the best option would be to buy fresh, organic, and local – but unfortunately that’s not realistic for most of us most of the time.  So we do the best we can.  So if you’re trying to decide whether to buy a fruit or not, buy it, and if it’s on the Dirty Dozen list AND it’s not significantly more to buy organic, then do so.  Keep an eye on sales of the Dirty Dozen organic produce and stock up whenever possible.

The EWG also maintains a Clean Fifteen list of the fruits and veggies with the lowest pesticide residue once the item has been washed: asparagus, avocados, cabbage, cantaloupe, sweet corn, eggplant, grapefruit, kiwi, mangos, mushrooms, onions, papayas, pineapples, sweet peas (frozen), and sweet potatoes.

blueberriesIf you’re able to stock up on berries, you may eventually get bored with eating them raw, with grain cereals such as oatmeal, or in non-dairy parfaits.  In that case, check out the recipes below for Berry Delicious Smoothie, Strawberry Milk Smoothie, Berry Cobbler, and Berry Pops.

 

Berry Delicious Smoothie

Makes 2 two cup servings

¼ c oats

2 T flax meal, chia seeds, hemp seeds or a combination

2 bananas, sliced and frozen

1 c frozen berries

2 c orange juice

Combine all ingredients in a blender and process until smooth.  This recipe is extremely versatile, so don’t worry about the exact measurements or all of the ingredients.  This is a great starter smoothie for berry lovers and can be made as a milkshake with more bananas and less orange juice.  Leftover smoothie makes delicious popsicles.

 

Strawberry Milk Smoothie

Makes 4 two cup servings

1/3 c oats

3 T flax meal, chia seeds, hemp seeds or a combination

3 bananas, sliced and frozen

¾ c strawberries, frozen

2 to 3 c cold non-dairy milk, ideally unsweetened

1 to 2 c cold water

Add all ingredients to the blender and blend until smooth.  The amount of liquid needed depends on the desired thickness of the smoothie.  This recipe is extremely versatile, so don’t worry about the exact measurements or all of the ingredients.  This is a great starter smoothie for novices and can be made as a milkshake with more bananas, less non-dairy milk, and no water.  Of course the more strawberries, the better, but seeing as how they are the most expensive ingredient, we use them judiciously.  Leftover smoothie makes delicious popsicles.

 

Rip’s Blueberry Cobbler [http://engine2diet.com/]

Serves 4

2/3 c whole wheat pastry flour

1.5 t baking powder

1 T vanilla extract

2/3 c non-dairy milk

3 T agave nectar or maple syrup

2 c blueberries

Rip says to mix the dry and the wet ingredients separately, then combine.  I say mix it all together until smooth.  (The batter will be runny.)  If using frozen blueberries, use just under 2/3 c non-dairy milk.  Pour the batter into a non-stick 8” square pan and sprinkle the blueberries over the batter.  Bake for about 45 min at 350˚.

This is such an easy recipe to pull together as it’s quick and uses basic ingredients you’re likely to have on hand.  It works well with cherries, strawberries, peaches, apples- any fruit you’d make cobbler with.

 

Berry Pops

To entice my niece to eat blueberries one day, I went the gimmicky route, stuck them on pretzel sticks, and called them “Blueberry Pops”.  The first plate of Blueberry Pops disappeared so quickly that I turned the ingredients over to my girls to make the second and third batches.  Since then we have also enjoyed Blackberry Pops and Raspberry Pops- antioxidants with a salty crunch!

 

 

References

Carlsen MH et al. The total antioxidant content of more than 3100 foods, beverages, spices, herbs and supplements used worldwide.  Nutrition Journal 2010 9:3.

www.nutritionfacts.org/video/best-berries/

Not So Eggstraordinary

The Harvard Physician Health Study I (1982-1995) was designed to test the benefits and risks of aspirin and beta carotene, respectively, in the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease and cancer.  Twenty-two thousand male physicians between the ages of 40 and 84 bad_eggyears old residing in the US participated in the study.  The results demonstrated that low dose aspirin decreased the risk of a first myocardial infarction by 44%, which led to widespread recommendations for adults at risk of myocardial infarction to take a low dose aspirin daily.  Beta carotene was found to have no effect in the prevention of cancer.  However, in one of the many secondary findings, this study also linked egg consumption (≥ 1 egg/day) to Type 2 diabetes [Djousse Diabetes Care], heart failure [Djousse Circ], and premature death (mortality) [Djousse AJCN].

One 50-63 g egg (corresponding to large to jumbo size) contains approximately 200 mg of cholesterol.  The American Heart Association’s Nutritional Committee recommends less than 300 mg cholesterol per day, or if your LDL cholesterol level is ≥ 100 mg/dL, then less than 200 mg cholesterol/day.

However the most recent Dietary Reference Intakes published by the National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine, and Food and Nutrition Board Dietary Reference Intake report indicates that “the body can synthesize its needs for saturated fatty acids and cholesterol from other sources” and “There is an incremental increase in plasma total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol concentrations with increased intake of saturated or trans fatty acids or with cholesterol at even very low levels in the diet.  Therefore, the intakes of each should be minimized while consuming a nutritionally adequate diet.”  It took numerous links to find this recommendation, though, because the egg industry has been promoting the benefits of eggs for decades.  I agree with T. Colin Campbell that it’s no wonder the public is confused about dietary recommendations.

Based on the Harvard Physician Study I association of egg consumption to diabetes [Djousse Diabetes Care], heart failure [Djousse Circ], and mortality [Djousse AJCN], and findings from a pooled analysis of prospective studies in women suggesting a possible modest increase in breast cancer risk with egg consumption [Missmer et al], it is worthwhile to consider reducing or eliminating your consumption of eggs.  Success with one or two egg substitutes will provide enough confidence to experiment with the huge range of inexpensive (and healthier) egg substitutes available.

One egg is between 3 and 4 T in volume, which is the same as 45 to 60 mL, or just under 1/4 cup.  Therefore egg substitutes range in volume from 3 T to 1/4 cup.  The choice of egg substitute depends on the function of the egg in the recipe.  When the egg is serving as a binder or thickener, appropriate substitutes may be mashed potatoes, cooked rice, oatmeal, flax seeds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, nut butter, silken tofu, or tomato paste.  When the egg is primarily providing moisture, use fruit, fruit puree, or non-dairy yogurt, and increase the cooking time to account for the increased density.  When egg is acting as an emulsifier (helping things bind that wouldn’t normally bind), use silken tofu.  When the egg is functioning as a leavener, also add 1/4 t baking powder to whatever substitute you have chosen.  And finally, when egg is providing color, include a pinch of turmeric.

Egg_Substitute

 

Replacing more than two eggs in a recipe (like quiche) will change the integrity of the recipe, so pureed silken tofu is recommended.  When making a cake with more than two eggs, try using 1 T white vinegar, 1 T water, and 1 teaspoon baking powder for each egg.  To replace one egg white, dissolve 1 T plain agar powder into 1 T water and beat to mix.  Chill for 15 minutes, then beat again.

These egg substitutes aren’t fool proof and it does take some experimentation to figure it out.  The binding function can be particularly tricky- for example, it’s hard to make a veggie burger that holds up on an outdoor grill.  But it’s worth the effort to find the right egg substitute for each recipe- you are worth it, and your health will definitely benefit from eliminating eggs from your diet.

Here are a few simple recipes to give you experience with an egg substitute in something you’ve probably made before.  The brownies and muffins are great for when you don’t have time to make them  from scratch.  The French toast recipe requires no additional work than regular French toast.  Homemade mayonnaise is much easier than I ever expected and much cheaper than the store bought versions- it makes the Kale Potato Salad recipe a breeze for picnics and summer potlucks.

 

Brownies (from a box)

Certain name brand brownie mixes do not contain milk, such as Ghirardelli Double Chocolate.  Substitute the egg with 1 T ground flax seeds or chia seeds mixed with 3 T water and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes.  If you’d like low fat brownies, replace the oil with the same volume of pureed fruit, such as applesauce.  Once the egg substitute has thickened, add to the brownie mix and bake as directed, increasing the baking time if needed.

For the hard core, sugar free vegans out there, black bean brownie recipes are quite the craze recently.  I’ve tried a couple of recipes but haven’t been impressed.  These are next on my list to try though as I’ve enjoyed some of Chocolate Covered Katie’s other recipes.

 

Muffins (from a box)

Certain name brand muffin mixes do not contain milk, such as Duncan Hines Simple Mornings Blueberry.  Substitute the 2 eggs with 2 T ground flax seeds mixed with 6 T water and let sit for 10 to 15 minutes.  If you’d like low fat muffins, replace the oil with the same volume of pureed fruit, such as applesauce, banana, or pumpkin.  Once the egg substitute has thickened, add to the muffin mix and bake as directed, increasing the baking time if needed.

 

French Toast (adapted from Rebar)

1 loaf multi grain or whole wheat bread

1 banana

2 c non dairy milk (vanilla, if available)

1/4 t nutmeg

1/4 t cinnamon

1.5 t arrowroot powder or organic cornstarch

1/4 t salt

Blend all ingredients (except bread) until smooth and pour into a large shallow bowl.  Pre-heat the pan or skillet very well and spray or brush with oil.  Dip the slices of bread into the batter, drain, and place on the hot skillet.  Cook until golden brown, flip, and cook on the reverse side.  Serve immediately or transfer to a cooling rack (to prevent the slices from becoming soggy) until ready to serve.  Leftovers freeze well with wax paper in between slices.  To reheat, toast each slice, flip it over, and toast again.

 

Mayo (adapted from The Candle Cafe)

1 c soy milk, unflavored and unsweetened

2.5 c safflower oil (if you substitute, use a very neutral flavored oil)

1.5 T cider vinegar

1/4 t dry mustard

1 T agave nectar

1 T sea salt

dash of freshly ground pepper

Place the soy milk in a blender and with the blender running, slowly drizzle in the oil.  Continue adding the oil until it is all absorbed.  Stop the blender and add the remaining ingredients.  Blend quickly to incorporate.  Makes about 3 cups.

This is a fool proof recipe and a great base for variations, like adding chipotle, cajun, or wasabi seasonings.  Unfortunately the fat content is extremely high, so use sparingly (or when convincing others that a whole food, plant based diet is tasty).  Another mayo recipe that takes a bit more work (not as foolproof) but is very low fat and quite versatile was developed by Bryanna Clark Grogan, a powerhouse in the vegan cookbook arena

 

Kale Potato Salad (adapted from Snarky Vegan)

6-8 medium sized gold potatoes, chopped

2 c kale, stems removed [link to video] and chopped or torn into small pieces

1 onion, diced

3 celery stalks, chopped

1/2 – 3/4 c vegan mayo

1 T yellow mustard

1/4 c sweet pickle relish

salt or garlic salt and pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes, chop the kale, and mix the remaining ingredients in a small bowl.  Make sure the flavor of the mayo mixture is just right before you add it to the potatoes, as it’s easier to adjust now.  Drain the potatoes and transfer to a large bowl.  Add the chopped kale to the potatoes and stir.  Fold in the mayo mixture.  Serve immediately or chill.

 

References

Djoussé L, Gaziano JM. Egg consumption and risk of heart failure in the Physicians’ Health Study. [abstract]  Circulation 2008; 117:512-6.

Djoussé L, Gaziano JM. Egg consumption in relation to cardiovascular disease and mortality: the Physicians’ Health Study. [abstract]  Am J Clin Nutr 2008; 87:964-9.

Djoussé L, Gaziano JM, Buring JE, Lee IM. Egg consumption and risk of type 2 diabetes in men and women. [abstract]  Diabetes Care 2009 Feb; 32(2):295-300.U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.

Missmer SA, Smith-WArner SA, Speigelman D, et al. “Meat and dairy consumption and breast cancer: a pooled analysis of cohort studies.” Int J Epidemiol 31 (2002):78-85.

2012. USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 25. Nutrient Data Laboratory Home Page, http://www.ars.usda.gov/ba/bhnrc/ndl

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/fordsbasement/7057824683/