Home-grown microgreens

I enjoyed my first taste of soil-grown sprouts this weekend, and I was impressed with how much this technique of growing them in soil intensified the flavor.  I grew these in partial sunlight, and this picture was taken fter only six full days from seeding.

These are lentil sprouts, grown in a clamshell packaging flat, with just a few drops of water added as needed during the week.  We had a couple of 90-degree-plus days, lots of sunshine, and plenty of TLC from the gardener (me!).

Lentil microgreens

After trimming these, I placed them back on my outdoor shelf to see if I could get more growth from some of the “slower” seeds.  After one day, I’m seeing more sprouts, and I’ll get a full second harvest, it appears.

Microgreens, such as these, deliver a large dose of antioxidants for just pennies a cup, when you do it yourself.  Another big plus is that you can grow your own salads 365 days per year.  Whether grown in soil or in a Mason jar, the nutrient density per dollars spent make it worthwhile for your health.

Another tip: I continue to grown them even when I have plenty in the fridge.  I package the excess in reusable containers in my freezer to use for my morning smoothies.

Here’s a link to Dr. Greger’s blog regarding micronutrients.  It also links to some of his short videos that explain the cost effectiveness a little more.

Dr. Josh Axe’s Sprout Guide – the Best I’ve Seen!

sprouts4This is the best “Why?” article I’ve read about sprouting.

Dr. Axe is a triathlete who is on a mission to inform others about the benefits of eating superfoods.  This article on sprouting is an “everything-you-need-to-know” piece, and most impressively (in my view) is his list of the reasons why sprouting is important for nutrition-conscious people.

The list is much longer, and as I said, there is much more in the article besides the “why’s”.  Click on the source below the list to read the full article.  Then, sign up for his newsletter and receive some terrific pdf files with recipes and other important nutrition information.  Here are four items from the benefits list, just to give you a taste:

  1. Increases Nutrient Absorption — B12, Iron, Magnesium and Zinc
  2. Makes Foods Easier to Digest
  3. Decreases Antinutrients & Phytic Acid
  4. Increases Protein Availability

And, much more…

Here’s the full article:

Sprout Guide: How to Sprout Grains, Nuts & Beans

Why vegan? My reasons.

There have been three primary motivations for choosing to go with a plant-based diet.  I’m sure there are others, but these are my own.  These are not in any special order, and they are equally ranked.  At different times, one may be ascendant to the others, but that’s mostly because I have a particular thing in mind that day.

Day 1 sproutsHealth reasons

From my reading over several years, I believe the evidence is overwhelming, plant-based diets are better for longevity and quality of life.  The work of T. Colin Campbell, particularly, has been the most thorough and most convincing.  The diets espousing the benefits of animal protein over plant-based proteins notwithstanding, the longitudinal research of Campbell and others supports the notion that plant-based is not only adequate for protein, but is superior in every way.  For another book on this particular subject, The Protein Myth, by David Gerow Irving, is definitive.

Senseless animal slaughter

I won’t post the pictures here, but there are so many outstanding books on the subject of how we get meat, along with dairy produce, to our tables, that I believe it is morally damaging and condemnable for me to eat animal products.  One of the best books, written by Jonathan Safran Foer, Eating Animals, opens that window into animal cruelty like no other has done for me.  There are dozens of outstanding books and films on the subject.

Environmental damage

With the evidence mounting that food shortages will become the number one global concern within my own lifetime, we can no longer afford to give up the amount of farmland it takes to satiate the appetites of a meat-eating population.  This, along with the effects of cattle raising, including pigs and poultry, upon negative climate change and water pollution, means to me that continuing to perpetuate this cycle is to commit a major crime against humanity on a global scale.

My reasons may not be everyone’s reason.  But, they have been carefully considered over many years.  The appetite was not hard to kill once the evidence was in.

12 Studies: Saturated Fat is Not Just a Heart Hazard

sat-fat-heart-hazardDr. Neal Barnard’s blog is great source of information for nutrition and wellness.  In this post, Dr. Barnard lists 12 studies that have shown the damaging effects of saturated fats in the human diet, and there are many.

Awareness has grown for many years about the dangers of LDL cholesterol and triglycerides, and the link they share with saturated fats.  Heart disease is one of the chronic illnesses that often accompany high cholesterol.  In this article by Dr. Barnard, other conditions such as prostate cancer, sluggish metabolism, breast cancer, Alzheimer’s, dementia, and cognitive decline, are also linked with high saturated fats in the diet.

Here is the link to the article:

These 12 Studies Show Saturated Fat Is Not Just a Heart Hazard | The Physicians Committee.

Dr. Barnard currently serves as the president for the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).  They are a great Twitter follow, if you’re looking for a good source of fresh information about the links between good nutrition and good health.

@DrNealBarnard
@PCRM

A new cycle to combat obesity

Sure, most nutrition-minded people are aware that going all-in on a night of “free-love” dining at most restaurants will tip the scales against them, but still, these meals are extreme, if not downright obscene.  Yet, they are on the menu!

In an article from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, some of the raunchiest, most decadent meals are measured for their calorie count and macronutrient content, and it will surprise you how extreme they really are.

What will not surprise you, if you’re one of the many folks moving towards plant-based, high nutrient eating, is that even though these meals may be extreme, they are a fair representation of “what’s for dinner” at most of the popular dining establishments in the United States.

The article highlights one meal from five restaurants (I found it interesting that all five of these are within 2 miles of my home), including Cheesecake Factory, Dickey’s Barbecue, IHOP, Sonic, and Steak ‘n Shake .  Shocking!  Other restaurants, such as Red Lobster, are called out as well.

I know people can eat what they want, and restaurants will serve what the customers are willing to buy, but I would have to think that the culprit is something more complex, more systemic: we eat what’s available to us, without much thought about the nutritional costs.

The marketing feeds the appetite; the appetite creates the demand; the demand dictates the menu; the popularity spins the marketing cycle all over again.

The only way to stop it is to create a different cycle that employs the science of nutrition at the consumer level first:

  • reject the marketing and study broad scientific evidence about nutrition
  • with some discipline, create a different appetite from the one you have learned
  • demand what you want or eat at home
  • the restaurant industry will conform, reluctantly, perhaps, until the majority are on board
  • marketing will change

It requires some advanced attention to details from us consumers, but the payoff is a healthier world, and better choices in the marketplace.

The article, cited above, appears here:

Red Lobster, The Cheesecake Factory, Sonic Top 2015 Xtreme Eating Awards ~ Newsroom ~ News from CSPI ~ Center for Science in the Public Interest.

The 13 Most Misleading Food Label Claims

Naked Food Magazine published an article with a smart list of misleading labels on food.  How do they mislead?  Advertisers are keen on catch-phrases that imply big claims that deliver results that are sometimes as unhealthy as the food that makes no health claims at all.  The confused consumer who shops by catch-phrases with all good intentions to eat healthier, find themselves getting the same poor results in their health, and the fat-cat food companies just rake in the dough — it’s all in the marketing!

The food advertisers have astutely labeled our foods with catch-phrases and claims that leech good health from the uninformed consumer.  Among the labels listed in the article are these:

  • “Low Calorie” usually means chemical sweetener has been added
  • “High Fiber” means processed (not the fiber that will do much good)
  • “All Natural” doesn’t mean anything at all.
  • and, there are many more.

Take a look at the whole article, written in bullet form, and you can make much better nutritional choices, and sort out all the confusing messages.

The 13 Most Misleading Food Label Claims

Good fat vs. bad fat

youconfusemeDr.  Katz wrote a low-bravado sensible piece on the “good fat vs. bad fat” debate, and anyone else who has been confused on this subject really ought to read it.

Ending the Big, Fat Debate | David Katz, M.D..

Writing on the Huffington Post Blog, Dr. Katz covers the history of the “fat” debate and the obsession we have had with individual nutrients — get more fish oil, eat fewer carbs, eat more protein, drink dairy, don’t eat glutens, blah, blah, blah.

Instead of this ever-evolving checklist of nutrients about which we obsess, Dr. Katz says, “Let’s talk less about nutrients, and more about foods. If we get the foods right, the nutrients will take care of themselves!”  YESSS!

I’m picturing a hunter-gatherer in a prehistoric setting, scratching in the dirt in his cave:

2 fish daily for protein
No corn, feed to animals, too many glutens
More berries for antioxidants
Potatoes bad, unless they’re orange-colored
Olives okay, oils from olive limited
…and the list goes on and on, right?!

Some research needs to be done by anyone trying to simplify his diet to find out what foods to focus on, but it’s not nearly as complicated as it might seem at first.  I like Dr. Fuhrman’s GBOMBS formula for this (see printable checklist):

  • G – greens
  • B – beans (legumes)
  • O – onions
  • M – mushrooms
  • B – berries (and fruits)
  • S – seeds and nuts