Tag Archives: Nutrition

Useful Supplements for Vegans… and Everyone Else!

As I’ve come to expect, the latest issue of Vegan Life was jam-packed with interesting articles, interviews and delicious recipes. It’s so refreshing to have a magazine where you don’t have to flick through pages and pages of adverts before you actually find something worth reading! In fact, there was so much to read in this issue that I managed to savour it over an entire week

Did you manage to get a copy yourself? If so, I’d love to know whether you’ve tried those onion rings yet. They look lush!

Vegan Life Issue 3

One feature in particular that caught my eye in this issue was the guide to useful supplements. This is something that I looked into myself last year as I wanted to make sure the family was getting all the nutrients needed for tip-top health and not lacking anything vital.

Vegan Life Issue 3

One book that I’ve found extremely useful on the subject of nutrition is Vegan for Life – Everything You Need to Know to be Healthy and Fit on a Plant-Based Diet by Jack Norris and Virginia Messina. This book has pretty much answered all the questions I’ve ever had about plant-based nutrition. If you’re raising vegan children, it also has a useful chapter on this subject.

Vegan for Life

While a varied, balanced vegan diet can meet all nutrients needs (with the exception of vitamin B12), as mentioned in The Vegan Life article, there are four key nutrients to consider supplementing, and these are vitamins B12 and D, iodine and omega 3 essential fatty acids.

However, it’s worth noting that it’s not vegans exclusively that would benefit from taking these supplements. As we get older, our ability to absorb B12 from foods diminishes, so anyone over 50 years old is advised to consume fortified foods and/or take a B12 supplement. The UK government’s health advisers are also proposing that millions of people should be offered free vitamin D supplements as it’s estimated that one in five adults in the UK is at risk of vitamin D deficiency. Worldwide, iodine deficiency has become a major health problem too. To reduce the risk amongst their own populations, countries such as the USA, India, Denmark and Switzerland fortify table salt with iodine (‘iodized salt’). And when it comes to essential fatty acids, people are generally getting too much omega 6 and not enough omega 3.

Let food be thy medicineWhen it comes to nutrient intake, my number one choice will always be food. However, for these key nutrients – vitamins B12 and D, iodine, omega 3 (especially DHA) – I’ve decided to take a ‘belt and braces’ approach for now and use supplements to top up our levels, as and when needed.

Here’s how my family currently accesses these four nutrients…

Vitamin B12
Foods – fortified non dairy milks, non dairy yogurts, nutritional yeast flakes, breakfast cereals
Supplement – We’re currently using the BetterYou B12 Boost Oral Spray, which has a nice apricot flavour. (I do find that an opened bottle leaks when we travel though, so I’ll try out another brand for vacations).

Vitamin D
Food – fortified non dairy milks, non dairy yogurts, breakfast cereals
Summer months – lots of time spent outdoors in T-shirts & vest tops
SupplementViridian Liquid Vitamin D drops and virikid Vitamin D drops, which have a nice, fruity flavour (we squirt it straight under our tongues).

Iodine
Foodiodised salt; seaweed (Clearspring Nori Sprinkle is a favourite)
SupplementViridian Organic Kelp capsules (I usually open the capsules and sprinkle the contents into our food).

Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids
Food – walnuts, ground linseed, chia seeds, hemp seeds, greens, rapeseed (canola) oil
Supplements – Since it’s not known how well the body converts the omega 3 in walnuts and seeds from ALA into DHA, I also like to give the family a supplement which includes DHA (derived from seaweed). Our current favourite is Solgar Omega Advanced Blend 2:1:1, which is lemon flavoured (and delicious mixed into smoothies and yogurts).

In addition to these four, I also think it’s important to pay attention to Iron and ensure that we eat lots of iron-rich meals. Worldwide, iron deficiency is the most common nutritional disorder and affects a staggering 2 billion people.

Vegan for Life has a useful section on iron, which includes the levels needed by gender and age, ways to enhance iron absorption, and a list of foods and their iron content. I also love this infographic by Vegans of Instagram

 

Iron Rich Plant Sources

 

While the recommended intake for men and post menopausal women is 8mg (which is pretty easy to achieve on a well-balanced varied diet), for menstruating women it’s 18mg – more than double! Considering ½ cup beans and ½ cup cooked greens each contain around 2mg, it can be quite a challenge to reach the 18 mg RDA. And that’s before we even take account of the fact that certain minerals (especially calcium), and beverages such as coffee and tea inhibit the absorption of iron. I’ve had my iron levels checked twice in the past couple of years and both times they’ve been low. Not anaemic low, but lower than optimal.

A few months ago I decided to top up my iron intake during the ‘time of the month’ with an iron supplement. I’ve been taking Viridian Balanced Iron Complex, which contains iron bisglycinate, a form of iron that is gentler on the digestive system than ferrous sulphate. I’ve had no stomach issues at all taking this supplement. As an added bonus, the supplement contains B12, magnesium, folic acid and vitamin C. I either swallow the tablets or simply empty the contents of the capsule into my daily smoothie.

For years, I was ‘anti supplements’ but now I understand that they do have their place… just as long as we see them as a ‘supplement’ rather than a substitute for healthy eating 😉

What’s your stance on supplements? Do you take any yourself?

15 Comments

Filed under Nutrition, Vegan magazines

Purple Haze Salad with Blackcurrant, Hemp and Mustard Vinaigrette

Salads have been noticeably absent from my blog and that’s because I only share recipes that are ‘Lil’ L approved’. Until recently, salad was definitely not on his love list. Last summer in Provence, I started to put tiny amounts of lettuce on his lunch plate and he would eat it… providing it was slathered in hummus or salad dressing. We slowly increased the portion size and, since Christmas, he’s actually been tucking in with enthusiasm. Finally, he’s feeling the love for salad leaves and he’s even enjoying taking them to school in his lunch box 🙂

Unlike Lil’ L, I’ve always been a fan of salad. As a kid, I would munch my way through my Dad’s homegrown salad patch – tomatoes, radishes, lettuces, beetroot, celery, cucumber – I loved it all! However, just like Lil’ L, I much prefer my salads well dressed. Tangy vinaigrettes or creamy mayonnaise can really help to bring a bowl of salad to life and definitely make it more appealing to kids!

When I was invited to take part in a Maison Maille Culinary Challenge, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to devise a new, family-approved salad recipe. We were invited to select two products from their range, and I opted for the Dijon Mustard Originale and Red Wine Vinegar with Dijon Blackcurrant Liqueur. Unfortunately, the vinegar never arrived, however it did provide the inspiration for my recipe.

Blackcurrant, Hemp and Mustard Vinaigrette

 

While shop-bought salad dressings tend to be high in empty calories with little or no nutritional value, I try to make my home-made dressing the exact opposite. I love to pack them with nutrient-rich ingredients so I can drizzle on the dressing to my heart’s content, in full knowledge that it’s actually good for me and isn’t going to pile on the pounds. The dressing I’m sharing today is actually oil free. And check out that amazing colour!

I absolutely love the flavour of this dressing, and it’s been a huge hit with the rest of the family too (including Lil’ L!) It’s tangy, with a touch of sweetness and beautiful hint of blackcurrant. I’ve used real blackcurrants in the dressing which are loaded with antioxidants. To add a touch of creaminess, I blended in some hemp seeds, which also happen to be a great source of omega 3.

To complement this beautifully vibrant dressing, I’ve compiled a colourful, crunchy, protein-rich salad. I love the contrasting colours of the Ruby Gem lettuce. Like most lettuces, it’s packed with phytonutrients to keep us healthy.

Gem Lettuce 500

And surely nothing can beat red cabbage for vibrancy? As well as adding flavour, crunch and colour, red cabbage is packed with antioxidants, including vitamin C. Just one cup of shredded cabbage contains 85% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C!

Red Cabbage copy

And here’s another antioxidant-rich, immune-boosting, tasty addition to my salad bowl – red pepper. I opted to use a sweet romano pepper, but bell pepper would work fine too.

Sweet Romano Pepper copy

For protein, I added some edamame (soya) beans. I love their fresh flavour and colour. I tend to undercook mine slightly so they’re nice and firm for salads or snacks. Soya beans have great health benefits but have received some bad press lately. If you want to find out more, check out this report from Viva!

Edamame Soya Beans

For an extra boost of protein and slow release energy, I added some chickpeas. This time, I opted for maple soy roasted chickpeas, but my Dukkah spiced chickpeas would also work well in this salad. Chickpeas are a nutrient powerhouse packed with protein, dietary fibre, antioxidants, B vitamins and minerals including iron.

Roasted Chickpeas copy

While not featured in today’s pics, I also highly recommend adding avocado to this salad bowl. It adds another great dimension of flavour and texture, as well as heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and vitamin E. Lil’ L is a huge avocado fan and always loves to add a few slices to his salad plates.

After snapping the photos, I couldn’t wait to tuck in!

 

14 Comments

Filed under Lunches & Light Dinners

Baobab Fruit Powder & Eden Project Family Ticket Giveaway!

When I was a child, as a treat during grocery trips, my mum used to let me choose a new fruit to try. I was always drawn to the exotic fruit section and it was here that I discovered my love of pomegranate, pineapple and coconut. The one disappointment was the Sharon fruit. Imagine my excitement as a kid to find a fruit named after me! Sadly it turned out to be the blandest fruit I’d ever tasted. It certainly didn’t live up to its name 😉

To this day, I still love seeking out new exotic fruits to try, so when I was invited to sample baobab fruit powder, I was more than delighted to accept. Originating in sub-Saharan Africa, the melon-like fruits grow on the legendary ‘upside down tree’, which is pollinated by bats! It’s widely consumed all over southern Africa as a refreshing juice or health snack. The Kung San bushman of the Kalahari eat it for medicinal purposes, to ward off winter colds, combat fevers, stomach upsets and as a general pick-me-up.

Avenue of Baobab Trees Madagascar

Source

Baobab fruit powder is a 100% natural whole food often referred to as ‘Nature’s Multivitamin’ due to its high levels of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It contains more than 12 minerals and vitamins, but is particularly rich in vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium and potassium. It is reported to contain more calcium than milk, more iron than steak, six times more potassium than a banana and to have more than 100 times the antioxidant activity of oranges!

Baobab Fruit

Source

The powdery fruit pulp is obtained through a simple process that involves collecting the fruit by hand, cracking open the hard shells, then milling. Flavourwise, it has hints of pineapple and melon.  I love adding it to smoothies (especially our Oaty Pineapple Breakfast Smoothie) for an extra boost of nutritional power. It can also be sprinkled into breakfast cereals, added to yoghurt, used to make jams, sauces and ice creams, and even used in baking. I often add it to my home-made energy bars to give them an extra nutritional boost.

Baobab Fruit

Source

The Eden Project in Cornwall recently launched their own range of baobab fruit powder, which is sustainably harvested and bought from rural harvester groups in Malawi. Money from every sale of baobab goes to PhytoTrade Africa, who help support rural harvesters and producers across southern Africa. 

Baobab Fruit Phyto Trade Africa

Source

The Eden Project sells a variety of baobab fruit products, including fruit powder sachets, pouches and jars, as well as gift bags, chocolate and even hand cream! They are available to purchase online however, if you fancy buying them in person, I have one AMAZING giveaway lined up for you!

Baobab Fruit Powder Pouch

GIVEAWAY TIME!

The Eden Project is kindly offering my readers the chance to win a FREE DAY TICKET to the Eden Project in Cornwall (England) for up to two adults and two children (worth £68!)

Described as the “eighth wonder of the world”, the Eden Project is a global garden which lets people discover plants that have changed the world and plants that could change the future. People can explore the sights, smells and sheer scale of the Rainforest Biome, take a journey through the fragrant Mediterranean Biome and zig-zag their way through the 30 acres of outdoor gardens. There are also world-class art installations, unique sculptures and exciting events to be found across the site.

Panoramic view of the geodesic dome structures of Eden Project

To be in with a chance of winning, simply leave me a comment answering the question featured in the Rafflecopter below. Do make sure you tick the box in the Rafflecopter to register that you have done so!

This giveaway is worldwide, open to all residents aged 18 and over. The closing date is Friday 25th April 2014 at midnight GMT. The winner will be selected at random using Rafflecopter and notified by email. The winner can choose to visit the Eden Project on the day of their choice (there is no expiry date on the ticket!)

If you’re new to Rafflecopter, it’s pretty easy! Simply click on ‘Use Your Email’ and enter a name and your email address (rest assured it won’t be published anywhere). You can also log in using your Facebook account, if you wish. A quick demo of how to use Rafflecopter can be accessed here.

There are a number of additional ways you can enter in order to increase your chances of winning. You will find these listed in the Rafflecopter. All entries will be verified prior to the winner being selected.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

NB. If you experience any technical problems when trying to enter the Rafflecopter, leave me a comment below and I’ll submit your entry for you.

Good luck everyone! xx

 

15 Comments

Filed under Nutrition, Reviews

‘Rise and Shine’ Oaty Pineapple Breakfast Smoothie (Dairy-free)

The British winter was more like a monsoon this year. For over two months it rained pretty much continuously, and often accompanied by gail force winds. It’s been yet another crazy weather season, with January recorded as the wettest winter month since 1767! Thousands of homes experienced terrible flooding, especially on the Somerset levels. While our garden has been completely submerged under water three times since Christmas Eve, fortunately our house is elevated and out of harm’s way.

We’re now coming to the end of March and we’re STILL experiencing rain pretty much every day here in the South West. However, there are breaks and when the sun comes out and the clouds disappear, it’s absolutely glorious! I’d forgotten how wonderful it is to feel the warmth of the sun on your skin!

Japonica March 2014

As the sunny spells are so fleeting, I’m grabbing every opportunity to get out there and make the most of them. The garden is starting to come to life and it’s been a joy to see the Spring flowers popping up. Every where I look, there’s a hive of activity in the garden. The bees, butterflies, ladybirds and toads are all out of hibernation, and the birds are busy pairing up and make nests. This truly is a wonderful time of year! Now if the rain could just go away for a while so I can go jogging without getting wet or having to run with an umbrella, then that really would be the icing on the cake 😉

Primroses March 2014

For today’s recipe, I’d love to share one of Lil’ L and I’s favourite ‘power boosting’ breakfast smoothies. This one contains fresh pineapple, which has powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting properties. For slow-release energy, a protein boost and delicious creaminess, we add oats and chia seeds. The chia seeds also give the smoothie an omega-3 boost and have this amazing satiating effect, leaving you feeling full up for hours.

'Rise and Shine' Pinapple Oat Breakfast Smoothie | Bit of the Good Stuff

To ramp up the nutritional factor even more, we add a spoonful of baobab powder. This natural fruit powder boasts some amazing nutritional stats, including 3 times more calcium than milk and 6 times more antioxidants than blueberries!

When the sun peeked out the other day, I grabbed the opportunity to drink my smoothie in the garden. Five minutes of bliss!

'Rise and Shine' Pinapple Oat Breakfast Smoothie

I chose to top mine with a sprinkling of finely chopped goji berries and almonds. No breakfast of mine would be complete without gojis 😉

Products used in this recipe
So far, I’ve made this smoothie with Alpro Almond milk & Soya milk and Rice Dream Rice Milk
Chia Seeds, available from health food stores and online, including Amazon

Baobab Fruit Powder from the Eden Project (gifted to me)
Mornflake Superfast Oats

  'Rise and Shine' Pineapple Oat Breakfast Smoothie

 I hope you’re having a wonderful weekend everyone! xx

6 Comments

Filed under Breakfast & Elevenses, Healthy Snacking

Our Wildlife Garden & Summer Fruits Energy Shake (‘Breakfast in a Glass’)

What a glorious summer we’ve had this year! After a spell of wet, overcast summers, it was such a refreshing change to have blue skies and sunshine for pretty much the whole of July and August.  I absolutely loved it and took every opportunity I could to be outside, making the most of it

The plants and insects clearly loved the weather too!  This year, I decided to let the failed ‘veggie’ patch grow wild and turn it into a little haven for wildlife.

'Veggie' Patch Aug 2013 1 500

The whole summer it’s been a hive of activity, filled with all manner of bee, butterfly and beetle. We’ve also had baby toads and slow worms living in there too!

'Veggie' Patch Aug 2013 3 500

Does anyone know the name of the yellow plant below? I think it’s beautiful and it doesn’t get munched at all. As soon as I know its name, I’ll add it to my list of slug and snail resistant plants 🙂

'Veggie' Patch Aug 2013 4 500

We’ve also had success growing raspberries in the patch 🙂 A generous friend gave me six plants earlier this summer, and by late August they were already producing fruit. This raspberry is golden yellow in colour, which seems to make it less appealing to the birds. While the leaves of the plant have been munched, the fruits haven’t been touched at all!

Raspberries September 2013

Normally at this time of year, I would be out on my bike foraging for blackberries, but this year there was no need. By leaving the garden wild, we ended up with our own bumper crop!

Blackberries 4

In the mornings, I’ve been enjoying energy shakes for breakfast, made with a cup of freshly picked blackberries. By adding in some oats, ground almonds and chia seeds, the shake becomes a very satisfying ‘breakfast in a glass’. The additions make the shake so filling that I don’t get hungry all morning!

Blackberries 3

This shake also makes a fantastic post-exercise recovery drink and after-school ‘snack’ to revive energy levels.  I find they’re especially useful as a filling, energy booster on weekday nights when Lil’ L has after-school activities and dinner is going to be served late.

Blackberry Shake 1 500 copy

These smoothies have been a great way to encourage Lil’ L to eat berries. He still won’t go anywhere near whole berries (it’s a ‘texture thing’) but he’ll happily gulp them down in a shake. When he was little, I used to blend the berries and milk first, then strain it to make it completely smooth before blending in the remaining ingredients. These days, he’s happy to drink the smoothies straight up, pips and all!

Here’s how we make them:

And to make to even more scrumptious, I like to top off my shake with some ground cacao nibs 🙂

Berry Shake with Cacao Nibs 1 500 copy

The Good Stuff ♥
Blackberries – Fantastic immunity boosters, packed with antioxidants, including vitamin C. Also a great source of dietary fibre, vitamin K, and manganese
Fortified soya milk & yoghurt – Good source of protein, calcium, vitamins B12 and D, yoghurt cultures
Oats – Provides slow-release energy

Almonds – Provides protein. Rich source of antioxidant Vitamin E, riboflavin, manganese and magnesium

Chia seeds – Good source of protein and dietary fibre. Rich in calcium, manganese, phosphorous and omega 3 fat
Cacao Nibs – Packed with nutrients, including lots of antioxidants. Check out my raw chocolate post to find out more.

Products used in this recipe
Alpro soya milk and plain soya yoghurt (available in all major UK supermarkets)
Mornflake Superfast Oats (available from Tesco and Asda)
Chia seeds (available from health food stores and online. I purchased mine from Earthfare)
Duronic 1200 1.8 litre Jug Blender, available from Amazon

Cacao nibs – available from health food stores and online. I use the Elements for Life Cacao Nib Grinder

 

Have you had any success growing fruits or veggies this year? Do you ever go foraging?

 

5 Comments

Filed under Breakfast & Elevenses, Drinks, Growing Fruit & Veggies, Healthy Snacking, Nutrition, The Garden