A few people of late have asked me for recipes and ideas to help them transition into a vegan diet more easily. It's too much to share in one email so I feel I will need to do a series. This is the first blog of three or four, I would say.
I'm starting with vitamins, minerals and nutrients as this is what often concerns people (protein will come in another blog). I'm a believer that if you eat a good variety of organic, locally grown, seasonal fruits and vegetables along with grains, beans, legumes, nuts and seeds you will get all the nutrients you need.
However this isn't always the case. Many factors contribute to the body not absorbing vitamins, minerals and nutrients. One very big factor being stress, another being eating foods that inhibit the absorption of ceratin vitamins, minerals and nutrients.
On a Vegetarian diet for 28 years and then vegan for 3 I did very well in rarely supplementing my diet. However a few things have changed this year and while I really do believe that by having a varied diet of fruit and veggies in season does provide you with ample vitamins, minerals and nutrients there are a few supplements I have started to take and I will list them below. Calcium certainly is not one of them and nor is iron. These are the two people ask about most often. I have a whole free e-book on Iron so for my ideas there, subscribe to the newsletter if you havn't already.
Calcium is easy to come by in a vegan diet and, as people know, is essential for bone health. The food on top of the list for calcium is collard greens, which grow readily in our area. I will post recipes with collard greens sometime soon. Bok choy and turnip and mustard greens, tempeh, tahini, dried figs, tofu, oats, kale, molasses, almonds and almond butter, oranges, broccoli, dried apricots, dates, artichoke, adzuki beans, navy and pinto beans, amaranth, sesame seeds, raw fennel and blackberries all contain calcium.
Magnesium is a trickier one. While there are plenty of vegan foods that are rich in magnesium it all depends on whether the farmer is feeding their crops adequately and in Australia our soil is depleted of Magnesium so this is one supplement I am taking regularly. Foods that have good magnesium content are avocado, potatoes and dark leafy greens like collard, silverbeet, chard, kale, parsley and turnip greens. Bananas, mangoes, all types of legumes, almonds Brazil nuts, cashews, peanuts, quinoa, sunflower, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, millet, oats and brown rice.
B12 seems to be the most controversial vitamin for vegans. Most people say that as a vegan it is impossible to get B12 yet a huge amount of people walking around with B12 deficiency are actually animal eaters. Once upon a time you could get B12 growing on your organic fruit and veggies and obtain it that way. If you are completely stress free, free of chemical build up and healthy then there is a chance B12 will grow in your mucus membrane. But let's face it, these days most of us are stressed to the max, have chemical build ups from all the pesticides, antibiotics, weed killer and too much gluten and fatty foods, so it really is best to take some sort of supplement. I have rarely taken B12 supplements but have just started to as there really can be no harm in taking a B12 supplement and many would believe quite the contrary.
Zinc is a supplement I have recently found myself taking. I used to be able to pride myself on rarely getting ill. While others around me came down with colds, flus and other viruses, I managed to stay healthy until last year. Last year was a shocker for me, I had the flu once, a cold and a throat infection then on the 2nd of January this year got yet another flu. I knew my body needed a break from excess working but also felt that there must be something wrong with my immunity to be catching so many things and yep, I was right. A quick test showed me I was very low in zinc. Zinc is needed for a healthy immune system. So for at least two months I will be taking zinc in an attempt to build up my levels again.
Foods containing zinc are beans and legumes, nuts and seeds, oats, wheat germ, spinach, garlic, dark chocolate, brown rice and peas.
Peas brings me to the recipes I will share with you this week. I am sharing two pea recipes and a rice and lentil recipe, which are all good meals to increase your zinc intake.
Omega threes and sixes; have a look at the blog article What Oil Do You Cook With? Here’s My Take
Note: If you are having trouble absorbing any vitamins, minerals or nutrients then it could be good to stay away from dairy (if you are not yet vegan), caffeine including green tea, alcohol, wheat and gluten products, refined sugar, and fatty foods including refined oils.
This recipe is good for those months where it is impossible to get local avocadoes and the only ones available have flown in and are at extortionate prices. If you do have a little avocado you can also add it to the guacamole as it takes it to the next level.
2 cups peas
1 large clove garlic, boiled
¼ cup lime juice
1 chilli (optional)
Salt to taste
1 small avocado if they are available otherwise a splash of soy or almond milk
Handful of coriander (or mint) leaves roughly chopped
1 spring onion white and green part sliced thinly
1 tomato diced small
Place the peas, garlic, chilli, lime juice and salt into a food processor and blitz until broken down resembling a dip. If you have the avocado now add it to the food processor or the soy or almond milk and blitz till combined.
Remove from the food processor and fold in the onion, coriander and tomato.
Test for salt and add more if necessary.
Pea and nut patties
2 cups peas
¼ cup nut cheese
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion finely diced
2 garlic cloves minced
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt to taste
Handful of parsley
2 sprigs mint
2 tsp nutritional yeast
1 ½ cups besan flour
A little water to hold it all together
With a hand held blender pulse the peas until most of them are broken apart. Mix them with the rest of the ingredients adding water until it all sticks together. You wont need much. Roll into patties and place on a paper lined baking tray. Bake in an 180°C oven for 20 minutes each side or until cooked through.
Rice and lentil salad
50 g wild rice
100g brown rice
1 cup cooked wild rice
1 tsp cumin
1 ½ tsp curry powder (see blog)
1 onion diced (optional)
1 clove garlic minced (optional)
¼ cup currants
½ cup of cooked lentils, puy, beluga or red lentils are the best
Big squeeze of lemon juice
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
¼ cup finely chopped coriander (or mint)
Splash of oil
Cook the wild and brown rice separately. Both take around 40 to 50 minutes to cook. In a frying pan add the oil, cumin and curry powder and stir for a few minutes. Place all the ingredients in a bowl including the spices and fold through gently.
Serve with a tahini coconut sauce or some coconut yoghurt.
Bring a Friend Along
I miscalculated and I actually have two places left in the March Vegan Foundation Cooking Course so great news, you can bring a friend along. It's wonderful to do the course with a friend. Please feel free to let others know about this course as I would love to have a full class. It's extra dynamic with eight people. There are 4 places left in the April course and only one in the May course.
Have a fabulous week everyone and keep on letting me know what recipes or blog posts you would like to see. I love your input.
With love Veet