Filed under: Chronic Disease, Dairy, Eggs, Healthy Lifestyle | Tags: vegan, vegetarian, Vitamin B12, vitamin deficiencies
I am not a big fan of taking vitamins. I don’t take any myself, and generally don’t recommend that my clients take them. I believe that eating a nutrient-dense diet of whole natural foods will provide you with everything you need.
But there are two important exceptions to this for me. If your doctor recommends you take a vitamin supplement because you’re deficient in some way, then of course you should do so. And if you’re a vegan, or a vegetarian who eats very little dairy and/or eggs, then vitamin B12 supplements are a MUST.
Vitamin B12 is needed for the formation of red blood cells, nerve cells, and DNA, and is an energy metabolizer. It plays a big role in keeping the brain healthy. A lack of B12 in the diet can lead to weakness, fatigue, anemia, numbness or tingling in the limbs, and cognitive difficulties.
The problem for vegans and some vegetarians is that B12 is only found in animal-based foods–meat, poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy. Plants do not make B12. So if you are a vegan or vegetarian who barely eats animal products, a B12 supplement is non-negotiable, or you will become malnourished and develop serious health issues.
Other people who might be at risk for B12 deficiency are those who have had weight-loss surgery, take heartburn drugs such as Nexium or Prevacid or H2 blockers like Pepcid (stomach acid is needed to absorb B12, and these drugs reduce acid), or suffer from such conditions as Celiac or Crohn’s disease. Some people over 50 may have an issue as well, as our bodies naturally produce less stomach acid as we age.
A daily multivitamin usually is sufficient for meeting our B12 needs, or you can take a B-complex pill or drops, or B12 alone. More severe deficiencies could mean a need for weekly B12 shots.
If you have any concerns about your B12 levels, ask your doctor to test you. Chronic low energy is the first warning sign that something might be amiss.
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: butternut squash soup, recipe, vegetarian
Here’s a recipe for a yummy butternut squash soup…
1 medium butternut squash
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, chopped
2 1/2 cups vegetable stock, or water
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground white pepper
1/2-3/4 cup whole milk
12 whole fresh sage leaves
6 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese
Halve the squash and scoop out and discard the seeds and stringy pulp. Use a large knife to cut away and discard the tough skin. Cut the flesh into 1/2-inch chunks. There should be about 6 cups. Set aside.
Heat the butter in a medium pot or soup kettle. Add the onion and saute over medium heat until golden, about 6 minutes. Add the squash and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes more.
Add the stock or water, salt, and white pepper to taste. You can also throw in a parmesan cheese rind for extra richness. Bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and simmer until the squash is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove the cheese rind if you used one and discard it.
Transfer the squash mixture to a blender. Add 1/2 cup milk and puree, working in batches. (You can also use an immersion blender directly in the pot.)
Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish each bowl with 2 whole sage leaves. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon cheese over each bowl and serve.
(Recipe courtesy of “The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook” by Jack Bishop)
Filed under: Grains, Recipes | Tags: black rice, forbidden rice, recipe, side dish, vegetarian, whole grains
Have you ever tried black rice, a.k.a. “forbidden” rice? It’s a delicious and healthy whole grain that I’ve recently started making as a side dish. I’ve prepared it a couple of different ways at this point; here’s my favorite method:
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup forbidden black rice, rinsed
1 3/4 cup water
1/2 strip kombu seaweed
Warm the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and saute until translucent. Add the garlic and saute for one minute more. Add the dry rice and saute for a few minutes, until you hear sizzling. Pour the water into the pan along with the kombu and cover. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and let stand, covered, for five minutes. Remove the kombu and discard it. Fluff the rice with a fork, salt to taste, and serve.
Filed under: Grains, Recipes | Tags: millet, recipe, vegetarian, whole grains
Have you ever tried millet? It’s a whole grain that’s widely eaten in much of Asia and parts of Africa, and it’s a great source of B vitamins and protein. Here’s the recipe for a millet dish I cook regularly at home–my kids love it, saying it “tastes like macaroni and cheese.” I serve it as a main dish, with a green salad on the side, but this could certainly be a side dish as well.
Millet and Chickpea Pilaf with Saffron and Tomatoes
2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup millet, rinsed
1/2 onion, finely diced
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
Pinch saffron threads
1 1/2 cups cooked or 1 15 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed
1 1/2 cups diced tomatoes, fresh or canned
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
Salt and freshly milled pepper
2 1/2 cups boiling water or a mixture of water and tomato juice
2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan or Gruyere (optional)
Serves 4 to 6.
Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy 10-inch skillet, add the millet, and cook over medium heat until the grains begin to color, 4 to 5 minutes. Scrape the millet into a bowl, return the pan to the heat, and add the remaining tablespoon oil along with the onion, basil, and saffron. Cook over medium-high heat until the onion begins to color, 5 to 7 minutes.
Reduce the heat to low and add the millet, chickpeas, tomatoes, and paprika. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and add the boiling water. Cover and cook until the liquid is absorbed and the millet is done, about 35 minutes. If it’s still a little raw, add 1/4 cup water and continue cooking. Gently break up the grains with a fork. Taste for salt, season with pepper, then stir in the parsley and cheese.
Recipe from “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone” by Deborah Madison (one of my favorites).