February 1, 2009 – Evolving Appetites
Welcome to Evolving Appetites’ monthly newsletter. Short, informative and hopefully fun to read veggie bits. Let us know if we don’t deliver on this – we always love feedback from our readers. Contact info is at the bottom of the page.
In this issue:
- Veg health: Make Fibre your BFF (Best Friend Forever)
- Congratulations Chicago City health (veggie!) chief
- Recipe(s) of the month: Fibre rich red lentil ratatouille; sweet (healthy!) treat for Valentine’s
- EVENTS update
Veg Health – Make Fibre your BFF (Best Friend Forever)
February is heart health month – and if you want to keep your ticker ticking, fibre has to be your best friend. You need lots of it – EVERYDAY. Canada’s Food Guide and the US Food Pyramid both recommend 25 - 30 grams per day, but the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine recommends an even higher amount: 40 grams per day.
I try to follow an unwritten rule for myself: if a food has fibre, eat it; if it doesn’t, don’t eat it. This eliminates meat, fish, poultry, dairy, eggs, processed junk food (cakes, cookies, crackers, white bread, white pasta, white rice, etc.), and oils from one’s diet (all of these items have NO fibre – none, nada, zip, zero).
But the good news is you get to eat beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, whole grains and as many fruits and vegetables as you can possibly eat. No calorie counting, no portion control. Just good eats that will leave your arteries and colon squeaky clean, and help you shed those unwanted pounds without going hungry! This is because fibre fills you up without adding calories, since we don’t actually digest fibre – it just passes through the body. But it’s vital for good health.
Fibre keeps us regular by pulling water from the body into the intestines and keeps things moving smoothly. It also lowers cholesterol, removes excess estrogen (a factor in the prevention of breast, colon and prostate cancers) and removes toxins from the body. Fibre can also help lower blood sugar, hence playing a role in preventing diabetes. Fibre also helps prevent diverticulosis, hemorrhoids and varicose veins.
There are two types of fibre – soluble and insoluble – neither are digested, and we need both. Luckily, focusing on the plant foods listed above, you’ll get both types and easily meet the 40 grams/day requirement. Soluble fibre is the gooey kind found in oatmeal, barley, flax seed, psyllium husk and most beans. It binds with fatty acids and prolongs emptying of the stomach so that sugar is released and absorbed more slowly. It also helps reduce cholesterol (both total and LDL – the bad cholesterol).
Insoluble fibre passes through the digestive system intact. Sources include vegetables such as green beans and dark green leafy vegetables, fruit skins (eat the apple with the skin on!), whole grain products (e.g. whole wheat), nuts and seeds. Insoluble fibre acts like a broom by binding with toxins and excess estrogen and moving them through the intestines and out the body. It helps maintain proper pH balance in the colon, a factor in cancer prevention.
See below for fibre-rich recipes of red lentil ratatouille and a sweet treat of pecan date rolls for Valentine’s.
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Congratulations Chicago City health (veggie!) chief
Chicago health commissioner Dr. Terry Mason has a message for Chicago citizens: don’t eat meat. His meat-free campaign encouraged everyone in Chicago to try going meatless for the month of January in an effort to shed excess pounds, lower blood cholesterol and blood pressure. "For the entire month, I'm not eating any meat," he told listeners to his Sunday morning radio show, “Doctor in the House”. "If it walks, runs, hops, flies, swims, crawls or slithers, I won't eat it. If it has eyes, I won't eat it. If it had a momma and a daddy, I won't eat it. . . I'm going to focus on eating a healthy and delicious variety of fresh vegetables and fresh fruit....And I want you to do the same." This may be a tall order for a city that loves its Italian beef, Polish sausage and deep dish pizza. But Mason, a physician who has a medical practice in urology, is determined. This is Mason’s fourth year campaigning for a meatless January. Mason said his vegetarianism lasted seven months last year and he plans to stay with it for good this time. Mason suffers from high cholesterol and had a coronary stent implanted in 2005. Both of his parents died young of cancer—his mother at 51 and his father at 39.
Editor’s note: Family history and his personal health surely would be strong motivators. Me thinks he’s seen the light! I can only hope other cities catch on to the example.
Here’s the link to the full story in The Chicago Tribune
Lentil Ratatouile - Serves 6 - 8
This recipe ups the nutritional ante on the traditional ratatouille recipe with the addition of quick cooking red lentils. Makes for a one-pot easy meal that’s warming and satisfying. Just serve with some whole grain bread or over cooked quinoa. You’ll get lots of fibre from the lentils and all the veggies – your heart and arteries will appreciate it!
1-1/2 cups red lentils, rinsed and drained2 cups water + additional water for soaking lentils1 large onion, large dice2 Japanese eggplants or 1 regular, cut into 1” chunks2 zucchini, cut into 1” chunks1 red pepper, 1” chunks1 green pepper, 1” chunks1-1/2 cups white mushrooms, cleaned and cut into quarters1 tsp dried basil1 tsp dried oregano½ tsp dried rosemary2 – 3 medium tomatoes, diced (or can substitute 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes, including juice)2 – 3 cloves fresh garlic, crushed1 tsp fresh ground black pepper1 tsp (or to taste) hot chili pepper flakes (optional)Salt to taste (optional) – omit if using canned tomatoes
After lentils have been rinsed, add enough water in the bowl to cover and let soak while you’re preparing the veggies. (This step can be omitted; but it will take longer to cook. Soaking them for as little as 15 – 20 minutes makes for an almost “instant” meal).
In a large pot, heat ½ cups of the water and add onion. Sauté for 2 - 3 minutes until onions are translucent. Add eggplant, zucchini, mushrooms and peppers; stir and cook covered for 2 - 3 minutes. Drain the lentils and add to the pot with remaining water. Add the herbs. Cook covered for 5 – 7 minutes until lentils soften (they’ll turn a lighter peach colour when they’re soft). Add the tomatoes, fresh garlic, pepper and chili pepper flakes if using. Stir and cook for another minute or two. Taste, and add salt if necessary.
Pecan Date Rolls - Makes about 15 truffle sized bites
Only two ingredients (optional 3rd ingredient) and 10 minutes of your time that will provide fibre and satisfy your sweet tooth. Much healthier than traditional chocolate gift for Valentine’s (although I’m not opposed to the odd dark vegan chocolate treat if it’s fair trade and organic). But give this a shot – it’s really easy and tasty!
6 Medjool dates, pitted (they’re expensive, but worth it)½ cup pecan pieces1 tsp cocoa powder (optional for dusting)
Place pecan pieces in a food processor and pulse until chopped to crumbs (don’t overdo it into a powder – some texture is good). Add the dates and process at a slow speed until well combined with the pecans. (I did this with my mini chopper attachment that came with my Braun immersion blender).
With clean hands, form into truffle sized balls – about 2 tsp mixture per roll. Roll in cocoa powder if using. Will keep in the fridge for months (if they last that long)
I had originally planned a two-week vacation in February, which due to unforeseen circumstances, didn’t materialize. Hence, I had not scheduled many events for the month. Only one this month folks. So I’m including what I’ve got scheduled for March to give you all a heads up.
Tuesday, February 246:30 – 8:30 pm – FREE presentation hosted by the Toronto Vegetarian Association (please register)Heart Health by Nimisha Raja, speaker for PCRM (www.pcrm.org)Danforth/Coxwell Library1675 Danforth Avenue
Toronto, ON, M4C 5P2
416-393-7783Further info and registration – please contact the Toronto Vegetarian Association at 416-544-9800 or visit www.veg.ca
(This is just a partial listing – there will be a couple more added – stay tuned for March Newsletter to get the update).
Thursday, March 51:30 – 2:30 – FREE “What’s for dinner?” cooking demoDon Mills Real Canadian Superstore825 Don Mills Road (northeast corner of Don Mills & Eglinton)Toronto, ON(416) 391-0080No need to register – just show up!
Monday, March 161:30 – 2:30 FREE “What’s for dinner?” cooking demoGlen Erin Market5010 Glen Erin Drive
DID YOU KNOW...?
Nimisha from Evolving Appetites is available to speak at corporate wellness days, community groups, places of worship, schools and universities?
Call 416-491-9904 or email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re looking for someone who can deliver a health and environmental message with a light, humorous touch.
Glen Erin & Eglinton
(905) 607-0580No need to register – just show up! Thursday, March 261 - 2 pm FREE “What’s for dinner?” cooking demoOakville Real Canadian Superstore201 Oak Park Blvd.
Oakville (Dundas (Hwy 5) & Royal Oak)
(905) 257-9099 No need to register – just show up!
Next issue: March 1, 2009
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