Tag Archives: health

Do you or someone you love suffer from heart disease? You can eat your way to health!


Recently CNN’s Sanjay Gupta did a documentary called Last Heart Attack.  In it, he investigates how diet can prevent, reverse damage from, and even protect against heart disease.  Among Gupta’s guests is former President of the United States, Bill Clinton, who recently lost a significant amount of weight from a change to a more plant-based diet.   To watch the entire documentary, click here.

Several important, and perhaps surprising points presented in the documentary are:

  • According to some research, you can actually become ‘heart attack proof’ as a result of a plant-based (or vegan) diet.
  • Since eating is the reason we are suffering from high cholesterol, heart disease and heart attacks, eating could and should be a solution.
  • “Your genes are not your fate.”  No matter how much ‘risk’ you have, you are not bound to your genes.  Your diet makes a difference!
  • 1 heart attack happens every 30 seconds in the United States.
  • Even doctors who do see the benefits of an entirely plant-based (or vegan) diet may not recommend it to patients. (They think it’s too hard and people won’t do it).
  • Some people who appear healthy can have a heart attack with no warning symptoms.
  • New technology, coronary calcium scans, can help detect the presence of plaque early.
  • Heart attacks are the biggest killer of men and women in the United States and are “COMPLETELY PREVENTABLE”.
  • Your cholesterol number is not necessarily what is important.  What is important is the size of the ‘bad’ cholesterol particles (small is bad!).
  • “Stents, drugs, and bypasses are not the cure – because they do not treat the CAUSE of the illness.”
  • A lot of women don’t experience classic symptoms of heart attacks.
  • Certain cultures around the world have no incidence of heart disease.  NONE! (Could diet be the reason?)
  • Research shows that the more people changed their diet or lifestyle, the more they improved – in DIRECT PROPORTION.
  • Plant-based (or vegan) diets can not only prevent heart disease but actually REVERSE it.
  • Plaque starts building in childhood!

We decided to share this documentary with you because the realization of how much of an impact diet has on our health is almost revolutionary.  What is now a number one killer is entirely preventable.  Changing your diet may seem difficult, but it can be done with support, resources, and faith in yourself.  

We want to offer you a bit of that support and resources so that you can make those small steps toward a healthier diet.  Although there was not much discussion about the TASTE of the plant-based (or vegan) foods making up these healthier diets in the documentary, as vegans, we can assure you that THEY TASTE DELICIOUS!  Not only the recipes on our blog, but many cookbooks, other blogs, and internet resources (please see our resource page for some), provide an abundance of ideas for creating delectable and nutritious meals.

As Dr. Dean Ornish says in the video, once you start to make the change, you “reframe the reason for making these changes from ‘fear of dying’ to joy of living.  And joy is what’s sustainable!”

So be joyful!!!

Alf Hana!!!

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5 Easy to find, Nutritious, Quick, Vegan Snacks in Cairo, Egypt


How’s that for a post title?!  This post was actually inspired by a recent post on One green planet about vegan snacks that are available on the market.  But, unfortunately, none of them can be found in Egypt!!!  So, we humbly present the first in a series of posts about vegan snacks that you can find in Egypt.

Later we’ll write about snacks that you can make at home, but for now, these are snacks available in shops or from street vendors.  We have tried to choose snacks that are as close to their whole state, retaining as much of their nutrition as possible.

1.  SEEDS (or ‘lib’)

Brown Egyptian seeds (watermelon seeds)

These beautiful babies can be found in almost any nut vendor’s shop in Cairo.  Egyptians love to eat them by cracking the shell open with their teeth and pulling the seed itself out with their tongue.  It’s kind of a complicated technique and you might have to be a real Egyptian to eat them properly 🙂 .   There are two common varieties : larger white seeds (what my research says are pumpkin seeds), and smaller brown seeds (which are watermelon seeds).  Both are easy to find, relatively inexpensive, fun to eat, and full of nutrients.

White Egyptian seeds (pumpkin seeds)

For the watermelon seeds, 1 cup of seeds will give you a whopping 602 calories – so go SLOW!!!!  But, it also provides 31 g of protein, 44 % of your daily recommended intake of iron, and is a good source of phosphorous, zinc, manganese, and magnesium!

As for the pumpkin seeds, they are only 285 calories for a whole cup.  With 12 g of protein, a cup of these cuties provides 12 % of your daily intake of iron, and a good helping of magnesium and zinc.

For the record, I love the white ones most – I guess because they’re larger and easier to manipulate!!!  But, if you’re in the mood for a challenge, try the brown ones!!!  Oh, and if you’re watching your weight, just take no more than two tablespoons because these are high in fat! [images from http://www.taw9eel.com/]

2.  Termis

Termis, also known as lupin or lupin beans, is another type of seed very common in Egypt.  You can buy them in their dried state in any small grocery.  Find the already-prepared version (soaked, cooked, seasoned with salt, lemon, red pepper!!!) in larger markets.  It is especially popular in the spring during the Sham El Nessim holiday, but you can find the prepared version year-round.   Eat the yellow lupin seed with the skin, if you like, but I like to bite about half-way down and remove the skin before I eat it.

And here’s the nutritional info on the yellow lupin:

Yellow lupin seeds

1 cup will provide you will only 193 calories and – hold on to your hats! – 26 grams of protein!!!  That’s right, folks – here’s a high protein, low-calorie food you can snack on without a guilty conscience!  But wait, you also get 5 g of fiber and 8% of your daily recommended intake of calcium from these plump yellow cuties.  In fact, our source for this nutrient information, nutritiondata.com lists them as being a good snack if you want to lose weight!  So dig in!!! [image from el-baraka.net]

3. Dried Figs

A favorite especially around Ramadan, these nutritious and naturally sweet goodies are also easy to find.  In small groceries or larger supermarkets, they are commonly sold in 250 gram packets or in air-tight circular packages.  Their very sweet taste will satisfy even the most troublesome sweet tooth – while you get some nutritional value!  Eat them right out of the bag – or soak them in some water for a softer treat!

As for their nutritional punch, here’s the low-down:

For 1 cup, you get 371 calories, 15 g of fiber (!), and 5 g of protein.  Not to mention 24% of your daily recommended intake of calcium and 17 % of your need for iron!!! [image from all-creatures.org]

4.  Grilled Corn on the Cob (especially in the summer!)

Can you smell it?  Yes, the man with the cart on the corner has a grill and is smoking up some corn!!!  MMMMMMM!!!  Usually grilled in its husk, it can obtain a smoky taste, but if you like corn, you’ll love this!

This snack is quite nutritious, with one large ear providing 123 calories, 4 g of fiber, and 5 grams of protein!  With 16% of your daily recommended intake of Vitamin C covered, you’ll be protecting yourself from illness with just one ear!  It’s also a good source of thiamin, folate, magnesium, and phosphorous.  [image from wikitravel.org]

5.  And now, the best for last: Dried dates stuffed with nuts

We actually already wrote about this in a post during the Vegan MoFo last November. You can find these in most small groceries and larger supermarkets.  In fact, you can even find them organic!  Try Isis Sekem.  I love these little jewels. They are the perfect combination of sweet and savory.  You can find many variations – including dates stuffed with almonds, peanuts, and I have even seen cashews!

Our dried dates with peanuts are not too bad on the nutritional scale.  For one ounce (about 28 grams) – which I’m thinking would be around 3 of these babies – you get about 140 calories, 3 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, and about 4 % of your daily need for calcium.  Not bad!

What other vegan snacks do you readily find in Cairo?  Please share!

Alf Hana!!!

Almond Milk: Ancient and Modern Drink of the Pharaohs!


Recently, we wrote about one substitute for cow’s milk:  soy milk.  Today, we would like to focus on another plant-based milk: almond milk.

Almonds are native to the Middle East and were actually found in Tutankhamun’s tomb!  Almond milk was used as a substitute for animal’s milk because it didn’t spoil as quickly.  Today we use it because it has no cholesterol, is very low in saturated fats, high in protein, high in calcium and has all the creaminess and fullness of taste we are accustomed to from animal’s milk.

Commercially produced almond milk is not available in Egypt (as far as we know).  However, it is incredibly easy to make!

Makes about 1 liter of almond milk.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of soaked raw almonds (not roasted or salted)
  • 4 cups of water

Instructions:

  1. Soak the raw almonds in enough water to cover them for about 3 hours.  Sometimes I soak them overnight while I sleep. 

    Soaking almonds

  2. Rinse the almonds in a strainer.
  3. Add 1 cup of almonds to your blender.
  4. Add 4 cups of water and mix well (about 2 minutes).
  5. Pour the milk through a filter, very fine strainer, or cheesecloth to separate the remaining almond chunks.  A smooth, creamy milk should result.

 

Filter

 

 

Filtering the milk

 

6.  Discard the remains in the filter, or store and use them in recipes for pie crusts, etc.

Almond Remains

7.  Pour the milk into containers for storage in the refrigerator.

 

Storing Almond Milk

 

 

 

Almond milk

 

Now, you’re ready to enjoy your creamy drink!  It can be used any and all of the ways cow’s milk can.  So, if you need some plant-based milk, but can’t find soy milk, try making your own almond milk!  Some people even think it tastes better than soy milk.

What do you think?

Why Vegan? For Your Health!


This month is Vegetarian Awareness Month and we’ve been posting every day to help raise awareness about what it means to be vegetarian / vegan.

Having been vegan for more than a decade now, we’ve had our share of moments when people first discover the reality of our choice.  Almost right away, questions start.  And usually, the first one (or second one, after the protein one) is WHY?  So, we thought we’d tackle that question in today’s post.

Why become vegan?

Actually, the answer to “WHY BECOME VEGAN?” does not have one simple answer and for every vegan the answer is different.  Many vegans have chosen their lifestyle because of a variety of reasons, as is the case with us.  So, we will explain why we became vegan in a series of posts.

Today’s reason is HEALTH.

When most people make the switch to a more plant-based diet, their health is drastically affected – for the better.  I was a big fast-food eater before I became vegan.  Once I made the switch, I went from a size 16 to a size 6!  (Remember I said most!)

What does the research say about a vegan / vegetarian diet?

Vegetarian and vegan diets are connected to lower rates of cancer, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, hypertension, gallstones, and kidney stones.

The reason for these connections is because:

  1. Vegans / vegetarians usually eat LESS fat.
  2. Vegans / vegetarians usually eat LESS cholesterol.   (Vegans eat NONE because cholesterol in the diet comes from animal products.)
  3. Vegans / vegetarians usually eat MORE fiber.
  4. Vegans / vegetarians usually eat MORE antioxidants.
  5. Vegans / vegetarians take in just the right amount of protein.  Too much protein has been linked to higher risks for osteoporosis, kidney disease, raised cholesterol and cancer.
  6. Vegans / vegetarians usually eat MORE phytochemicals, which help prevent all kinds of disease.

Don’t get us wrong:  it is possible to eat a vegan diet that is NOT healthy!  After all, potato chips, french fries, and OREO cookies are all examples of vegan foods!  Avoid the junk and go for the whole foods and you’ll be good to go!  (And, of course, get up and move around!  Exercise is an essential aspect of a healthy lifestyle!)

If you’re looking for a way to improve your general health, try adding more plant-based foods to your diet!

Want to read more about health issues and veganism?  Try these resources: