Sunday, January 17, 2010

tree obsession

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Are there old, ugly vegans?

Since I'm a dietitian (which means I'm anal about food/nutrients/everything), I'm really worried I'm not going to get enough fat and protein from a vegan diet; my skin will dry up and wrinkle, my hair will fall out and my nails won't grow. Basically, I'm scared 21 days of veganism is going to turn me into an 80-year old woman. Extremely ridiculous, but that's what I'm worried about.

So I did a nutritional analysis on all the food I ate today with the Nutrition Analysis Tool the University of Illinois puts out.
What I ate today:
Breakfast: cinnamon oatmeal, walnuts and raisins;
Lunch: a peanut butter sandwich and apple;
Dinner: pinto bean and butternut squash stew, kale and pumpkin seeds, and basmati rice with avocado.
Its a good thing I don't have a husband because I'm pretty sure he would pack his bags after a day of rabbit food like that.

Surprisingly according to my food analysis; I ate more than enough protein and fat, the only thing I was deficient in is calcium, riboflavin, sodium, saturated fat, and cholesterol. Not bad, not bad at all.

Unless a diet deficient in sodium, saturated fat and cholesterol will make me old and ugly after 21 days, I'm good.

As for riboflavin and calcium, the main sources are animal products but there are some good veggie sources. According to Northwestern University, almonds, soy nuts, spinach and wheat germ have a good amount of riboflavin in them.

It looks like calcium is a little harder to come by in vegetable sources. Fortified cereal, oatmeal and soymilk look like the best sources. White beans and soybeans also have a good amount of calcium. The problem with vegetable sources of calcium is the bioavailability of the calcium and the amount you have to eat. Generally dairy sources have the largest amounts and the type of calcium most bioavailable to the human body. The USDA says:
"Both calcium content and bioavailability should be considered when selecting dietary sources of calcium. Some plant foods have calcium that is well absorbed, but the large quantity of plant foods that would be needed to provide as much calcium as in a glass of milk may be unachievable for many. Many other calcium-fortified foods are available, but the percentage of calcium that can be absorbed is unavailable for many of them."
So that means my best bet is to keep taking calcium supplements, and a multivitamin probably wouldn't hurt either. My former nutrition professor, Dr. Brevard, was right; take your vitamins!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Beans and Day-4 Vegan Kickstart

Err, actually I'm on Day-3, not Day-4, I cheated on Day-1 (it was New Year's for pete's sake).

Anyway, beans, beans and more beans. Here's what the USDA says about beans:

"Dry beans and peas are the mature forms of legumes such as kidney beans, pinto beans, lima beans, black-eyed peas, and lentils. These foods are excellent sources of plant protein, and also provide other nutrients such as iron and zinc. They are similar to meats, poultry, and fish in their contribution of these nutrients. Many people consider dry beans and peas as vegetarian alternatives for meat. However, they are also excellent sources of dietary fiber and nutrients such as folate that are low in diets of many Americans.”

Here's what I've learned about cooking beans so far:
  1. Soak them in a lot of water overnight.
  2. Rinse them with lots of water.
  3. Cook them in lots and lots more water for a hour or more.
  4. Basically if you don't have lots of water, you're going to have bad beans.
  5. Alicia Silverstone, author of The Kind Diet, says that cooking beans with bay leaves and skimming off the foam on top will make you fart less. Alicia Silverstone's book shows her eating beans with her very hot boyfriend/husband/lover/paid model, so I'm going to believe anything she says when it comes to farty beans.
  6. Paula Dean does not have any bean recipes that don't call for ham, ham grease, bacon, or some form of chicken, turkey, cow, rabbit, squirrel, or deer. I'm guessing that neither Paula Dean, nor any of Paula Dean's friends are vegetarian .
  7. Don't fill your crock-pot all the way up with beans and then leave the kitchen. Beans expand when they cook.

21-Day Vegan Challenge

Yup, I might be crazy, but I'm going to be a Vegan for 21 days. Mary Beth inspired me and since I always think Vegans are ridiculous, I figured I should at least try it.

The official program is called the 21-Day Vegan Kickstart and is sponsored by the Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine. So basically it's very responsible and professional, not some quack telling us to eat Edamame for a month. They have meal plans and information on how to do vegan right.

Even though I'm a dietitian, I really have no idea how to eat not to animal products and yet get enough protein, calcium, B12 and vitamin D. So really this is a very valuable experience. I also want to see if veganism is cheaper. Meat and dairy products are expensive but so are fruits and vegetables. So it will be interesting to see how much money I spend on food.

I already had to go to the Grocery this week (without cheese I literally had nothing to eat) and spent $10.52. Right now I'm cooking the 3 pounds of dried red beans, chickpeas and pinto beans I bought. Needless to say I'm learning how to cook beans. Surprisingly, fresh-cooked-from-dried beans taste a lot better than canned beans. Who knew?