Vegan Dining On A Low Budget
There is a huge misconception that it is expensive to eat a healthy plant based vegan diet. On the contrary, as I mentioned in earlier, blogs we hear from so many of our students and clients that they have saved heaps on their groceries since becoming vegan. Depending on where you live in the world, food choices vary, but vegetables, beans and grains are always available.
You will save money being a vegan
Eating this way is not an elitist exercise. While some of the recipes I create are special dishes (the kind of things I might cook for guests), most are simple to make and easy on the purse.
Remember that grains, beans, vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds form the largest part of your diet. These items can be purchased in bulk for the lowest cost, and generally go a long way. A cup of dry rice will convert to three cups of cooked rice. Beans are a similar value. If you are on a tight budget, simply make the most of the grains, beans and vegetables and you can still make nutritious and tasty meals.
Explore different types of shops
Check out other stores that are specific to one community, Asian, Polish etc., as they often have a wider variety of grains and noodles and are usually less expensive than mainstream supermarkets. The most expensive items on your shopping list will be condiments, herbs and spices. These items will be used sparingly and only comprise a very small portion of your meal plan. You can build up your condiment section as you go.
Staples such as soya/nut milk are similar in price to their dairy equivalents. However, supermarkets normally also offer their own brand plant-based milks, which are often cheaper than the own brand dairy equivalents. It's good to be a savvy shopper and check out the costs at your different stores. I found different prices for short grain brown rice at three stores, so obviously opted for the cheapest one.
Breakfast like a King
That's right! for 16p a day you can breakfast like a king and be a HEALTHY VEGAN. We enjoy the most delicious, nutritious packed breakfast every morning that fuels us through until lunchtime. Here is how I do it. I purchase a 2kg back of organic short grain brown rice that is the equivalent of fifteen cups of rice. Each week I soak five cups of rice overnight and cook it the next day. One cup of rice yields three cups of cooked rice. I store this rice in a large glass dish in the refrigerator that lasts the week. Each day I take the required amount from the fridge and gently simmer with water or if you prefer, use a plant based milk. We both savour a huge bowl of rice with some fresh berries in season, seeds and nuts and ground flax every day. Once you really get into cooking in batches you will save so much money. You will find a host of other low budget recipes in my book Go Vegan
Please go vegan and love all of life. The world needs you, right now.
In good health
Healthy Vegan Snacks
Snack On The Foods You Were Born To Eat
You can literally eat your way to optimum health and achieve your ideal weight by following my wholefood plant-based vegan dietary recommendations.
Eat at Least Three Meals a Day
Never skip breakfast or lunch because the metabolic rate naturally peaks at noon and decreases after that, so the food you eat at night is far more likely to be stored as excess fat compared to the food eaten earlier in the day. It’s best to keep your blood sugar stable throughout the day by eating frequent, smaller meals. I highly recommend a snack around 4pm, right during the time when blood sugar, mood and serotonin tend to plummet. This snack can also keep you from overeating at night when you get home.
My advice to all my clients and students is to feel free to snack on healthy plant based mini-meals as your snacks throughout the day. That is the answer. It is almost impossible to over-eat, or to eat too many calories when following a wholefood plant-based diet.
Focus on Portion Size, Not Calories
Concentrate on eating the highest-quality food available in smaller portions. Cup your two hands in front of you. That’s how big your stomach capacity is. Limit your intake to no more than that at each meal or snack. Overeating in general, regardless of the food, is associated with overproduction of insulin.
Don’t Snack On Simple Carbohydrate
If you eat a lot of sugar or snack on refined carbohydrates such as bread, sweets, biscuits, etc., you are prone to high blood sugar or insulin resistance (as about 75 per cent of us are).
Insulin also drives your kidneys to retain fluid in a way that is similar to the kind of fluid overload that is seen in coronary artery disease and congestive heart failure. Excess insulin therefore poses a significant risk for hypertension, coronary artery disease, obesity and high cholesterol levels, not just diabetes. Fluid retention from insulin is the reason why susceptible individuals can easily put on 3 or 4lb after a single large refined carbohydrate-rich meal.
Insulin is produced in the pancreas and is responsible for ferrying glucose from the bloodstream into our cells, where is it used for fuel. Good health depends upon our body’s ability to make and utilise just the right amount of insulin to keep our blood sugar at optimal levels and our metabolism working normally.
Consumption of refined carbohydrates results in an immediate surge in blood sugar. This triggers the pancreas to secrete large amounts of insulin to process the blood sugar. Every cell in the body has insulin receptors on the surface. These allow insulin to ‘open the door’ so that glucose can enter the cell. But over time when blood sugar levels continue to be too high, the insulin receptors lose their ability to respond to this abnormal metabolic burden. They become insensitive, and a condition known as Insulin Resistance develops, in which more and more insulin is poured out, to less and less effect. If you constantly have insulin running around in your blood stream you will not burn fat.
Once you understand the concept of eating healthy plant-based foods you can eat healthfully just about anytime throughout the day and you can experiment to invent your own delicious pleasures while improving your health.
Snack On Water: Yes, Seriously
Pure water! Too many avoid water in the mistaken belief that they will feel bloated, and then they end up dehydrated. You need water to help your body eliminate the breakdown products of fat, especially if you are trying to lose weight.
I suggest to all my clients that they drink two glasses in the morning on rising, two before lunch and two before dinner. Drinking whilst eating inhibits the absorption of nutrients from our food and dilutes the digestive enzymes. The stomach requires hydration to break down food otherwise it takes water from other areas of the body, which in turn causes us to be dehydrated. Plus, water fills you up, a perfect snack, and is amazing for your skin.
This one is a no brainer, but bringing raw, organic fruit to work is one of the easiest solutions available to us. Apples, pears, grapes, bananas, oranges, etc. are all great snacks as they are naturally sweet - but not filled with unnecessary additives. They also are low calorie, so if your trying to lose weight, they won't negatively impact your progress. Body fat is loaded with insulin receptors, and the fatter you get, the more insulin it takes to get blood sugar into the cells.
In general, insulin and blood sugar levels stay normal on a diet of unrefined whole foods that include complex carbohydrates such as wholegrains, legumes, lentils, all types of beans, vegetables, potatoes and sweet potatoes, pumpkin, seeds, nuts and some fruit. Snacks from all of these food groups are perfect. Try my adzuki bean bites, quick and easy to make and they last for weeks in the fridge and also freeze well.
Chocolate Adzuki Bean Snacks
Why adzuki beans for dessert? Apart from tasting amazing, adzuki beans (also known as red beans) are high in protein and fibre. It is a low-fat plant food source and rich in calcium, phosphorus and magnesium. Their high soluble fibre can help to stabilise cholesterol levels, improve digestive health and keep you feeling full for longer. All my clients and students love them.
1 cup of cooked adzuki beans
1 cup of pecans
8 mejdool dates (stones removed)
3 tbsp. cocoa powder
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
Desiccated coconut for rolling
Blend all the ingredients (except the coconut) in a food processor until you achieve a creamy texture. You may have to stop and push the mixture down with your spatula a few times. Take a heaped teaspoon and roll into balls. Drop the balls into a bowl filled with the coconut and shake until well covered. Chill in the refrigerator for a few hours and enjoy. They also freeze well. Truly scrumptious and healthy. Makes 24 balls.
In good health
The Truth About Wholegrain
Our Human Ecology Diet has cereal grain as its foundation. Taken as a group, the grains can feed more people per acre with semi-perishable food than any other food. The nourishing qualities of eating grain plus the ability to store grain for long periods of time with little spoilage have made it the most important single crop in human history. It has assured societies the capacity to survive through periods of drought or the presence of harmful pests. It was insurance against the bad times.
The nutritional profile of grain is excellent. It contains protein, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrate, fats, and fibre in a form that is easy to digest and metabolize. Grain is versatile in use and can be made into porridge, breads, or noodles. In North and South America, the primary grain was maize (corn) or quinoa in the high Andes; oats in the British Isles; buckwheat and barley in Europe; wheat, millet, and rice in the Near and Far East; and wheat and millet in Africa. These grains became synonymous with settled culture.
Agriculture demonstrated the shift to a commensal relationship with the environment. This was the capacity to intelligently farm so that the same land could be used over and over again, and people could stay in one place without completely depleting their resources. The approach of modern organic agriculture is an attempt to return back to this kind of understanding of our relationship to the environment with modern insight and without the chemical maintenance of the soil.
Our Human Ecology Diet
In the Human Ecology Diet, when I talk about whole grains, we are always referring to unrefined cereal grains. This means that only the inedible husk has been removed. The outside shell of the grain, the cellulose, has not been broken. The grain, with this
outer skin intact, is capable of being sprouted and contains the germ, the carbohydrate, and the bran. The micronutrients in the grain are protected. When the outside cellulose is removed, the process of oxidation occurs, and the grains begin to lose their nutritional value. This process is what we call refining.
“Whole grain” on the label doesn’t mean whole grain in the product. The refining process always changes the nutritional value. When the outside seal of the cellulose level is removed, oxidation begins. Aside from the loss of fibre in refined products, there is a loss of protein and antioxidants. This is an important distinction to remember because the food industry will try to fool you in every bend of the road.
Government recommendations always suggest that you increase your consumption of whole grain and then proceed to have pictures of loaves of bread and pasta and breakfast cereals. This inaccurate definition of whole grain leads consumers to choose poor-quality grain products with the idea that they are eating the healthiest option. Most of the bad press for whole grains comes from a lack of clarity between these refined products and whole grains.
Much of the confusion regarding whole-grain consumption is purposely generated by those who support a high consumption of animal-sourced foods. I consider most of this propaganda to be misleading at best and completely counterintuitive. Books like
Wheat Belly and Grain Brain are poorly disguised advertisements for the Atkins diet and its many more recent incarnations, such as the Paleo diet. These low-carbohydrate diets can produce short-term weight loss but are actually dangerous as a healthy way of eating. The unsaid truth is that these diets reduce refined products, containing high fructose sweeteners and sugar.
The contention that grain is responsible for weight gain is proven false when you compare the bodies of those who live on a grain-based diet with those who live on the modern diet of empty calories, high fat, and protein. It has only been since the introduction of fast foods that traditionally grain-based cultures have suffered from obesity.
The issue of phytic acid in grains also became a hot topic for a short time. This is a substance found in grains and nuts and has been labelled as an “anti-nutrient.” This compound binds with minerals in the body and was thought by some to cause mineral loss when eaten. The truth is that this is only a problem when consumed in great quantity as part of a nutrient-poor diet.
The compound is easily deactivated by simply cooking the grain. Soaking grain overnight, sprouting the grain, boiling, fermenting, or germinating also deactivate phytic acid and free up minerals for absorption. According to Rosane Oliviera from the University of Davis, “the consumption of whole grains in recommended amounts seems to have no adverse effect on mineral status whatsoever.” Since it is a powerful antioxidant, phytic acid may be instrumental in reducing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.
It is refined flour products that cause the problems. We need to question the saying, “Best thing since sliced bread.” These are products that have virtually no nutritional content, and they are usually filled with sugars, fats, and chemical agents (even the gluten free or vegan varieties). The commercial breads (including most “whole wheat” varieties), cookies, muffins, cakes, and pizza crusts are a nutritional nightmare mix of trans-fats, refined grain, and simple sugars. These foods raise blood sugar and are difficult to digest.
Wholegrain Rice Our Daily Staple
Rice was cultivated in the Far East for nine thousand or ten thousand years, then slowly spread into the Near East and into Europe. Mediterranean-style cooking has incorporated rice for centuries with dishes like paella, stews, and risottos. This is the most nourishing grain and possibly the most delicious. Its naturally sweet taste can be enjoyed on a daily basis. For a complete meal, eat rice with a bean dish, a variety of vegetables, and fermented pickles.
Brown rice gives you lots of fibre, vitamins and minerals, and small amounts of thiamine, riboflavin, vitamin B6, folate, and niacin. These B vitamins tend to work hand-in-hand to metabolize the energy from the foods you eat, while supporting blood-cell formation. You’ll also get magnesium, phosphorus and calcium, potassium, and a small amount of sodium for fluid balance and heart functions.
Millet has been cultivated in the Far East for at least ten thousand years and eventually spread into Africa, where it is used still to this day. In some cultures, it is the principal food crop. In Europe, it was seldom used; but as people became more used to using whole grains in their diet, it has become more popular.
Some may find that lightly roasting millet before using it brings out its sweetness. Oftentimes, people use gravies or sauces on top of the millet as it can have a tendency to be a little dry. It can also be used as a porridge and is good added into soups and stews.
Millet is alkaline, and it digests easily. The serotonin in millet is calming to your moods. It is a super carbohydrate with lots of fibre, and it is low in simple sugars.
Magnesium in millet can help reduce the effects of migraines and heart attacks. Niacin (vitamin B3) in millet can help lower cholesterol. Scientists in Seoul, South Korea, concluded that millet may be useful in preventing cardiovascular disease. All millet varieties show high antioxidant activity. It is an effective alkalising agent and is the only whole grain that does not produce stomach acid, so it is a great food for those who have suffered from ulcers.
Millet is gluten-free and non-allergenic. It is a great grain for sensitive individuals, and the high protein content (15%) makes it a substantial addition to a vegan diet. Millet and other whole grains are a rich source of magnesium, a mineral that acts as a cofactor for more than three hundred enzymes, including enzymes involved in the body’s use of glucose and insulin secretion.
Barley is a grain that has wonderful warming qualities when eaten, but it is usually associated with brewing and making beer. It’s a wonderful food in the colder months.
One of the most popular uses for it is, of course, to use it in soups and stews as it makes these dishes creamy and hearty. There is nothing nicer on a winter day than a barley vegetable stew.
Barley has an inedible portion of husk that runs down the centre of the grain. Because of this, most barley is “pearled” and thus refined. By itself, barley is a great low-fat grain, chock-full of nutrients; and it is reputed to aid the body in breaking down fat.
Oats are similar to barley in use; rolled oats and oatmeal are the common forms, but the whole grain can be used as porridge. Similar to barley, this is an excellent winter grain, particularly in cold and wet climates. This is due to the fact that it has more
fats than other grains. Steel-cut oats (US)—also called pinhead oats, coarse oatmeal (UK), or Irish oatmeal—are groats (the inner kernel with the inedible hull removed) of whole oats that have been chopped into two or three pieces. Steel-cut oats are traditionally used to make porridge as well as oatcakes and the like.
Quinoa is often touted as a superfood, particularly because of its high protein content; but, interestingly, oats have more protein than quinoa. This is a grain that thrives in a dry, high environment such as the Andes, where it originates. It is still the principal food for many of the native people that live in those high mountain areas. It has been domesticated for over seven thousand years.
Quinoa should be rinsed well before cooking to remove the outer coating—the saponin can give the grain a slightly bitter taste. It contains high levels of protein and a nearly perfect balance of essential amino acids. The small yellow seeds turn translucent when cooked. Compared to other grains, quinoa is higher in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, manganese, and zinc.
Corn is a grain that developed in Mesoamerica in prehistoric times. Up to the first European landings, most Native American people on the East Coast of America, the Southwest, Mexico, and South America were living on a diet that was based around the consumption of corn, or maize. Corn can either be eaten fresh as sweet corn or ground into a meal.
Buckwheat has a very strong taste; however, some people (myself included) love the hearty, earthy taste. Buckwheat is the most warming of all the grains. Its use has been traced back to very cold areas, particularly in Mongolia, Tibet, and in Russia and
Finland. It has been documented to be in use since about 5,000 BC; and in the Balkans, it was cultivated regularly from about 4,000 BC. Buckwheat is actually a “pseudo cereal.” It is gluten-free, making it a popular substitute for other wheat-based foods. You can use this as a grain in soups, or you can use it with sauces; but most people are familiar with it as being used in noodles or as a flour product. In whole form, it is eaten primarily as “kasha,” and in noodle form such as soba or as a porridge.
Buckwheat is also high in manganese, magnesium, copper, and zinc, which are great for the immune system. It contains all eight essential amino acids, including lysine, which plays a key role in collagen production and is not produced by the human body.
Wheat is the most widely used of all the cereal grains. Most of it is ground and made into flour products. Hard wheat varieties have more gluten in them and are therefore used more popularly to make both noodles and flatbreads. Wheat products are popular in almost every cuisine around the world, in one form or another, but usually used in breads.
Wheat is rich in mineral salts, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sulfur, chlorine, arsenic, silicon, manganese, zinc, iodide, copper, vitamin B, and vitamin E. This wealth of nutrients is why wheat is often used as a cultural base or foundation of nourishment. Since there is a high gluten content in wheat, some may find it an advantage to remove wheat from the diet for a test period and see if they notice a difference. Most problems that are experienced with wheat may be down to three factors:
- Flour products can cause havoc if there is poor digestion; whole grain that has not been finely ground is easier to digest. Because the bread dissolves quickly in the mouth, it is seldom chewed well and mixed with the digestive enzymes in the mouth that aid digestion.
- Breads often contain yeast, sugars, milk, or other products that inhibit digestion or create nutritional problems.
- The presence of excessive gluten. Modern bread and baked food production has favoured very high gluten varieties of wheat. Making sourdough bread, where commercial yeast is not used, is better if you have no specific problems with bread use.
The sourdough process uses a starter that contains naturally occurring lactobacilli and yeasts. The fermentation that takes place makes the bread more digestible, needs less gluten (can be made with low-gluten varieties of grain), and does not create the
lift in blood glucose that yeasted bread does.
Join us in one of our programmes and learn to create delicious dishes with all of these incredible grains.
In good health
Bill and Marlene
The Benefits of Gluten
The Benefits Of Gluten
The current gluten-free diet craze is unhealthy for those who do not need it. Traditionally our kind of high-carbohydrate eating has been the diet of people throughout recordable human history, and a large share of these civilisations, ancient and modern, have relied on generous amounts of wheat, barley, and or rye for survival.
Exaggerating the benefits of a wheat-free diet have consequently seen an avalanche of so many books promoting a low-carb movement, typified by the popular Paleo and Atkins diets. These books recommend people eat unlimited amounts of eggs, full fat cheese, other dairy products, meat, fish, chicken, and vegetable (olive) oils; and reduce or eliminate favourite (even non-gluten) "comfort foods," like corn, rice, oats, quinoa, millet, buckwheat, potatoes, and beans. Gluten has been vilified by these people and created mass confusion regarding gluten. The world is trying to ‘fix’ their health problems by eating gluten free. Unless you have been diagnosed with coeliac disease by a biopsy, the bacteria in your gut is where you should be focused to regain digestive health.
What Is Gluten?
Gluten is a form of protein present in wheat, barley, rye and other grains. Gluten is what makes dough rise and stay elastic. Gluten is often used to make seitan, a meat alternative used by vegans to make a plethora of dishes from burgers to bolognaise. Gluten is sometimes added to other foods to increase their protein content. You can incorporate this beneficial protein into your diet in many ways. Always be sure to use organic products to avoid pesticides, herbicides, fertilisers etc.,
Seitan (also known as wheat meat or wheat gluten) is a dynamic, rich-tasting food popular in veggie burgers, stir-fries, cutlets, and other dishes. Made from wheat gluten cooked with shoyu and kombu, it is a staple of traditional Far Eastern cooking, especially among Buddhists who prefer a strong, high-energy vegan dish to animal-based food.
Seitan is high in protein, calcium, iron, and other nutrients, seitan gives strength and energy, and contributes to general good health. It is particularly strengthening for the liver and gallbladder.
There are certain health benefits of eating wheat, barley and rye. They act as prebiotics, which means that it is fuel for the healthy bacteria that live in our gut. It helps these bacteria to proliferate and create good digestive health. They are very high in fibre and helps to lower cholesterol. It also helps to stabilize blood sugar. When used in its whole, unprocessed form, wheat, barley and rye are very healthy foods.
In good health
The World Goes Vegan
Our vision that the world goes vegan is what Bill and I teach with gusto daily. If you think about all the food that is grown in the world, corn, soybeans and grains, just to feed animals, it is enormous. These crops are genetically engineered for animal feed and here is the problem. Firstly you have to irrigate these crops which takes up a huge amount of water, you have to use fertilisers so there is a lot of nitrogen going into the soil and lets not forget to mention the pesticides and herbicides that are used also. As the crops are irrigated, the nitrogen trickles off the fields into streams and ends up in the rivers and as this accumulates you end up with a huge overgrowth of algae growing because of all the fertiliser run off going into the water. The algae die off and end up destroying any life forms in the water and that is what is causing the dead zones in the Gulf of Mexico.
Making The Best Food Choices
THE FOOD CHOICES we make have an ENORMOUS IMPACT on the environment. This devastation to our water all started because of that ear of corn or soy that is grown to feed livestock. What's the answer? The answer is to eat the plants directly, grown organically for humans and not grown to feed animals that we then kill and eat. We would have a much cleaner planet and we could feed more people. Agriculture occupies forty percent of the earths land-mass, that's nearly half! Incredible, just incredible. We bulldoze down huge amounts of land to raise crops to grow feed for livestock, it's just outrageous. If people went vegan, the amount of land needed for agriculture would be just a fraction of that.
If you are not following a vegan diet, you are not an environmentalist. There is no two ways about it. You are either a vegan, or you are part of the problem. Aside from Bill's recent book Eating As If All Life Matters - one of the key books we ask all our students to read is Diet For A Small Planet by Frances Moore-Lappe. Frances wrote that book over 40 years ago and today, continues her wonderful educational work. At least thirty percent of all greenhouse gasses can be contributed to food production, and it also takes 1800 gallons of water to produce just 1lb of beef. Huge amounts of grains are also grown to feed chickens and again come with a load of pesticides and other toxic fertilisers.
The EAT Lancet commission came up with some interesting findings: Not only can you save the environment but you can save lives if people moved towards a plant based diet. This has been taught in Macrobiotics for the past five decades, however, science is catching up. Increasing plant consumption can eliminate 11 million premature deaths a year. A plant based-diet saves lives, will save the environment and eventually end the inhumane cruelty to animals. Where does climate change fit in with all of this? The impact that green house gases have on climate change are real, very real and reducing them would help stop climate change. As our friend and colleague Dr. Neal Barnard says If you took all the cows in NA and put all the cows in one side and all the people on the other side, each cow is as big as a sofa so the mass of cows is far bigger than the mass of people. Each cow is belching out methane. Belching comes from the cows mouth, they are ruminating. When you drink milk or eat beef, you are ingesting products that came from a methane producing factory.
Factory Farming Is Ruining The Earth & Its Inhabitants
There are factory farms all over the US producing methane. We all have the choice to shut down these methane factories that produce green house gas by choosing to adopt a vegan diet. While carbon dioxide is typically painted as the bad boy of greenhouse gases, methane is roughly 30 times more potent as a heat-trapping gas. Human-related Sources: In the United States, the largest methane emissions come from the decomposition of wastes in landfills, ruminant digestion and manure management associated with domestic livestock, natural gas and oil systems, and coal mining. To grow all those grains you need tractors that use fossil fuels that also contribute to the production of methane. Animal agriculture is a bigger contributor to green house gasses than cars, trains, planes and transportation in general. You don't need to wait for a factory to cap its smoke stacks you can control your contribution to climate change by going vegan.
Feed The World
There are nearly one billion people starving to death and one billion people eating themselves to death. Two-Thirds of maize, barley and soy and about one third of all grains are used to feed animals instead of feeding humans. Livestock are fed daily the grains that are used to fatten them up for very little return in terms of the meat produced. This is crazy. Think of the acreage and the amount of food that could be grown to feed humans, no one would be hungry. We can grow enough food to feed the world and as a huge bonus think about the reduction in health care costs, it would be simply mind-blowing. Our human ecology diet weaves all of this together. You get healthy, you save the animals, you assist with the reduction in green house gasses, you help others to have food, the benefits are bountiful to all we hold dear.
When clients come to us for health counselling, they have no interest in veganism. However, as their health is renewed, their heart opens along with their eyes. They become concerned about the cruelty to our animals, the devastation to our earth and many register to study with us to become health coaches. It's seriously a great joy to behold.
Eating a plant-based diet is simple and easy to do. You will find many educational videos like this one here on how to cook grains beans, vegetables dishes and desserts on our TV Channel. There are delicious recipes on our website and in our on-line store for free download and my new book Go Vegan stacked with education and 85 mouth-watering recipes is available for pre-order world-wide on amazon.
In good health