Category Archives: eat

I wrote a book about cacao and chocolate!

So stoked to finally, officially, make this announcement! Yes, an entire book about cacao and chocolate with 75 vegan (mostly savory!) recipes:

Superfoods For Life, Cacao (available: IndieboundSkylight | Powell’s | Amazon | Barnes and Noble)

SuperfoodsForLifeCacaoIndieboundSkylight | Powell’s | Amazon | Barnes and Noble

Why cacao?  Last year the No Meat Athlete book publisher asked if I was interested in writing a book in their series, Superfoods for Life. Super foods? Not necessarily my cup of tea. But when they said cacao, I said maybe. Then I spoke with DIY chef and friend Joshua Ploeg- who absolutely loves using ingredients in unique ways- and it was set. We’d do it. Yeah, I can’t believe it either!

I’m going to be writing about this more extensively over the next few months as this topic lends itself well to discussion. Like the woman in Mexico who is the current ‘oldest ever human’ who claims chocolate has played a role in her longevity (anecdotal, of course). Or this recent news article in the Las Vegas Review Journal that is totally inline with my view of the subject.

  • There’s a lot of research on cacao, chocolate and the phytochemicals they contain. I used over 60 peer-reviewed studies to write this book and discuss the role these compounds have on everything from type-2 diabetes and heart disease to dementia and athletic performance. This paper in the journal Nutrients is an example of what’s out there. It’s a very exciting direction of research.
  • Yes, I’ve seen the video about superfoods and science. I agree! In the book I write about the beneficial components of everyday plant foods; you don’t need to eat exotic berries, mushroom extracts or antioxidant pills to be healthy. Cacao does have especially high amounts of phytochemicals, but one ingredient, no matter what it is, doesn’t determine your health.

 

Photo: Fairwinds Press

Tamarind-Chocolate Chili. Photo: Fairwinds Press

 

If you want to support me and the book here’s how you can help:

  • Share this post or information about the book with your friends and social media contacts. If you know me- you know I don’t do a lot of self-promotion. But I’m very proud of this work and I want more people to be exposed to solid science and fun recipes. I’m all about expanding people’s experiences through food and this book definitely does that.
  • Come to an event! Keep your eye on my website and social media for announcements about book signings, talks and other events around the country. I’m currently planning events in Oakland, Santa Rosa, Boulder, Ashville, Atlanta, Chicago and Bethlehem; to name a few for 2014.
  • If you have a website and discuss food, veganism, cacao or any related topics please get in touch if you’d like to write about the book, share a recipe, do an interview with Joshua or I, etc. I’m happy to supply you with what you need.
  • Check out the work of the Food Empowerment Project. There are issues around the production of cacao and if you are buying chocolate, you should make yourself familiar with them. I write about this in the appendix of the book and I’m also donating 10% of my royalties to them because I love what they do.

 

As always, I appreciate my readers and everyone who has supported my endeavors. Thanks for reading!

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Screening of 2006 Fixed Gear Furnace Creek 508

Yesterday I turned 35 years old and pointed out to an also-recently-35 friend that we are the same distance in time to 50 as we are from 20.  Wrap your mind around that for a minute. If that doesn’t make you turn off your computer and run off to do something more productive, I’ll continue below.

Turns out that time is rather hard to put into perspective as this insanely helpful and great article with gradually increasing timelines shows. I’m feeling especially nostalgic because the weekend after this one is the Furnace Creek 508 and we are bringing back Team Bonobo: The 2006 four-person fixed gear team.

 

We were fixie famous before fixie famous was a thing. -Megan Dean

There’s even a documentary by Sasha Perry, the smarts behind our Day in the Life of Vegan Athletes series.

 

 

As an excuse to get together, hang out with friends at Golden Saddle Cyclery and eat Pure Luck burritos, we are hosting a screening of Eat! Sleep? Bikes! Thursday Oct 3rd at 630pm. If you are in the LA area I hope you can make it. It’s a free event with great people. I’d also like to point out that 2006 was as far in the past as 2020 is in the future. I imagine by 2020 we’ll be racing hover bikes and that predictive text will be good enough to just read my mind and I won’t have to put words in a certain order in my head or actually have to type them any more.

I’ve taken some time off from the 508 after racing it solo 3 years in a row. Two of those years involved swimming at either the pre-race meeting or the halfway point. Let’s see if we can work that in somewhere this year. If we finish, 3 of us will be in the Furnace Creek 508 Hall of Fame. I’m not sure if there’s a distinction related to swimming.

 

2010 Pre-race meeting. Photo by Lisa Auerbach. http://lisaanneauerbach.com/

2010 Pre-race meeting. Photo by Lisa Auerbach.

 

Thanks for reading! You can follow the race webcast here. Also, don’t forget that the No Meat Athlete book comes out October 1st and there’s a book tour; I’ll be along for some of the dates including this vegan book fair in Los Angeles.

 

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My Thoughts on The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and Corporate Sponsorship

I’m an idealist, there’s no doubt about it. I dream big! With my beliefs though compromise is a necessity to get anything done. It’s a reality I accepted when I started studying nutrition as a teenager at Penn State University. And there really is no better analogy for compromise than my academic pursuit to become a Registered Dietitian.  Yes, Cattle and Dairy Boards have influenced nutrition as we currently know it, but I’m confident that thanks to The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics I received the best education in nutrition available. I have no regrets about becoming an RD.

Note that I say ‘best education in nutrition available.’ There is room for improvement and not everything my professional organization does I agree with. My ideal organization is really unfathomable, so I choose my battles and do more to promote what I want to see than to fight what I am against.

ANDReportCover

With that said, Michele Simon’s report, And Now A Word From Our Sponsors, hit a chord with me. It’s no secret that The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics works closely with major corporations and big food interests. I remember the first year I attended the Food and Nutrition Convention and Expo, the Academy’s annual conference, and was staying with a friend of mine. She noticed my conference bag and said, ‘Coca-cola sponsors your conference? Really? That’s insane that these are supposed to be nutrition experts and something so unhealthy sponsors your conference!’ And in one sentence she nailed the problem with having such sponsors. Not to mention the embarrassment!

The issue here is power.

With size and money big companies become powerful. They alter the environment we live in (‘environment’ in both senses of the word!) and normalize use of their products. It’s no coincidence that Coke billboards are everywhere, portion sizes have grown tremendously and nearly everyone on the planet knows what soda is.  Do you remember the Beef Industry freak-out over Meatless Monday being in an internal USDA memo? And the USDA issuing a public apology immediately? That’s power.

They have influence.

They influence government regulation from safety standards to advertising to young children. Big brands have billions of dollars to advertise their products, buy smaller companies and influence decision-makers and policy-creators like Registered Dietitians.

People say we need to hear both sides and we have to work with them to make change.

But the reality is their number one interest is in selling more of their product. It’s the nature of capitalism. The power dynamic is off: health professionals are not on equal footing, it is naive to think so. They have fought every single effort to reduce their effect on our health and the planet. If you work for them you are merely doing damage control.

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One of my first tweets ever was this photo from the 2010 FNCE in Boston of RD’s lined up to get free soda from Coca-Cola.

This is what makes small companies different.

It’s not about any sponsors. It’s about the right ones. They do not have the access to power and influence, so say the Mushroom Council or Broccoli Growers Association (one of those is real!) are not able to throw their weight around the way Coca Cola does. They don’t have the power to promote positive research and to bury negative outcomes. Or to buy off health professionals. Selling sugar-water is much much more profitable than selling vegetables straight out of the ground and these profits must be protected. When we work with them we are helping to protect their power, influence and profits. Is it worth the damage done to our field?

Yes, Registered Dietitians are smart enough to know if research has been influenced.

But that is not the issue. It is merely the association with our professional organization that is problematic. Like the story of my friend who pointed out the blatant hypocrisy. It’s embarrassing. We can do better. I understand defending your professional organization, but fellow RD’s please put your ego aside and think about what’s best to remain credible and move on as the nutrition experts we are.

A few links to read more about this.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics did respond to Michele Simon’s report, but it’s either purposefully ignorant or simply they don’t understand what the issue is. And she has since responded and pointed out what they are missing.

This has gotten some media in the United States, which Michele Simon covers here, but the most interesting, in my opinion, is this Al Jazeera 25-minute video on the topic.

The Union of Concerned Scientists briefly cover the influence of corporations on science in a recent article, which I recommend if this idea is new to you.

And every single person who works in the food and nutrition field should read Food Politics by the great Marion Nestle. And while you are at it, World Hunger: 12 Myths will give you a good idea of how corporate interests are protected at the expense of people’s health all over the world.

To my Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

I am proud to be a Registered Dietitian. I have compromised with you tremendously over the years. I know we don’t see eye to eye on everything. But this is a big deal and we need to make some changes. Please read the suggestions that Michele Simon makes, listen to your members (and ex-members! This is why so many have quit!) and let’s continue to be the experts on nutrition. We don’t need Coca Cola’s money to do that. And taking it just isn’t worth our reputation.

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Filed under eat, nutrition, political, read

Vegan Nutrition Events in Philadelphia October 5th and 6th

I work very closely with the Vegetarian Nutrition Dietary Practice Group (DPG) of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (formerly the American Dietetic Association).  It’s a group of RD’s who are Academy members who have an interest in vegetarian nutrition- we keep the nutrition field updated on vegetarian nutrition. I’ve had the privilege of being on the Executive Committee for the last 2.5 years and I’ve spent a lot of time working on these upcoming events in Philadelphia that occur before the annual dietetic conference, FNCE.

It has been a crazy amount of work to have these open to the public and I hope it is worth it. We have great speakers and panelists, like Ginny Messina, Jack NorrisSharon Palmer, Reed Mangels, Enette Larson-Meyer and myself. The first 50 to register for each event get a free book. And we’ll have vegan pizza from Blackbird Vegan Pizzeria Friday night! If you live near Philadelphia or know someone who does, please send them this post and help us fill the room. Thank you and hope to see you in Philadelphia.

 

Friday Night October 5th Vegucated Screening 6-9pm
Screening of Vegucated followed by a Q&A with Producer Frank Mataska, Sharon Palmer, RD and Reed Mangels, PhD, RD. There will be a reception with food provided Blackbird Vegan Pizzeria and samples by our Friday night sponsor, Silk.  All Vegetarian Nutrition DPG events are also sponsored by Morningstar Farms and Gardenburger.

Pre-registration is $5 and highly recommended. The first 50 to register get a free copy of The Plant Powered Diet or the The Everything Vegan Pregnancy Book!
Also let us know you are coming on the Vegucated Documentary with the Vegetarian Nutrition DPG Facebook event page.

 

Saturday October 6th Vegetarian Nutrition Presentations with 3 hours of CPEU’s!

12pm-1:30pm Powered By Plants: What We Know About Vegan Athletes
-Enette Larson-Meyer, PhD, RD and Matt Ruscigno, MPH, RD

Plant-based diets have gained popularity among athletes from professional football player Tony Gonzales to Mixed Martial Artist Mac Danzig. But what does the research say and what work is being done to educate athletes about plant-based nutrition? This presentation by two athletic RD’s will review the latest studies and show how social media and film can be used for fun, creative nutrition education.

1:30-3:00pm Vegan Diets: What the Experts Say About Vitamin B12, Minerals, Protein, and Essential Fats
-Ginny Messina, MPH, RD and Jack Norris, RD

This session will highlight issues of interest in vegetarian diets, including rates of chronic disease in this population, findings regarding vitamin B12 status and bone health, and recommendations for meeting nutrition needs. Ginny Messina and Jack Norris are the authors of Vegan For Life and well-versed on the current science related to vegan nutrition. As requested this session includes an extended Q&A!

Pre-registration is only $5 and highly recommended. The first 50 to register get a free copy of Vegan For Life!
Let us know you are coming on the Vegetarian Nutrition DPG 20th Anniversary Presentations Facebook event page.

Both events are at the Friends Center (Rufus Jones Room) on the NW corner of 15th Street and Cherry St, just two blocks from the Convention Center (map).

More on all events here: http://vegetariannutrition.net/events/fnce/

All Vegetarian Nutrition DPG events are sponsored by Morningstar Farms and Gardenburger.

Not going to FNCE? Here’s how you can help:
Forward this email to colleagues and friends who will be in the Philadelphia area in October. Remember, these events are open to everyone!
Promote on Facebook with the links above. You can link to the Vegetarian Nutrition DPG Facebook.
Promote on Twitter, and link @VNDPG.
Link our public event site on your own site: http://vegetariannutrition.net/events/fnce/

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Roasted baby artichokes with garlic/breading and knishes

There’s nothing like dinner with mom.

 

Followed by vegan cannoli from my good friend Danielle’s bakery, Vegan Treats.

 

Quite a lot has changed since I was vegan teenager. Always nice to slow down and reflect.

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Guilt-Producing Food Choices That Aren’t as Bad as You Think

Guilt is a strong emotion that plays a role in our everyday lives. It’s an emotional function that shows us the difference between our life and the life we want to live. It can lead to action, but too often I see guilt as a negative.

For example my clients tend to be ahead of the curve. They are thinking about their own diet and its effect on their health. They are eating a plant-based diet of predominantly whole grains, legumes, fresh fruits and vegetables. And they are motivated to make any needed dietary changes, but yet some are plagued by guilt.

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Guilt-Producing Food Choices That Aren’t As Bad as You Think

Snacking. Eating snacks throughout the day increases your metabolism and keeps you from overeating at meal time. Don’t hesitate to snack on healthy foods.

Eating any form of sweetener. Yes, on average Americans eat too many added sugars and this has deleterious health affects. But are you adding a small amount of agave or maple syrup to an otherwise plant-based whole-food meal? If so, don’t sweat it.

Eating late at night. For many people, eating at night means eating additional, unneeded calories, mindlessly snacking and just making poor nutrition choices in general. But those are different than if you have to eat late because you worked late or took extra time in preparing a great meal. Evaluate what you are eating at night and if you need it, eat and don’t feel guilty!

Eating fat. General nutrition recommendations are to eat low-fat or at least less fat. But the general population is not eating a predominantly plant-based diet. If you are, then the rules are different. Plant fats behave very differently from animal fats; they can be beneficial where animal fats are problematic. Read this fantastic interview with Dr. Walter Willett for an overview of this idea. [Note that trans-fats are technically plant-based, but I'm talking about naturally occurring plant fats. Trans-fat replicate animal fats in foods and in humans]

Eating any refined grain. Yes, we should all eat predominantly whole grains. But that pizza topped with veggies and tomato sauce? Dig in. And there’s some evidence [here’s a random abstract] that compounds in whole grains interfere with nutrient absorption. This isn’t a go-ahead to get most of your calories from Chicosticks and Peanut Chews, but, as I’m saying over and over in this post, what are you eating most often? If it’s whole grains then don’t stress the occasional refined grain.

Eating processed foods. ‘Processed’ is one of those terms like ‘toxins’ or ‘cleanse’ that are so broad they have lost any real meaning- yet I hear them all of the time. So much of the food today has little resemblance to its origination and the negative health effects are well-documented. But at what point is something too processed? Fruitarians say that eating anything that kills the plant is detrimental. And I think that some textured vegetable protein products are so far from soybeans that they have lost most beneficial properties. But recently at a dinner someone tried telling me that tofu is too processed. Too processed? Check out these step-by-step instructions (with photos!) on how to make tofu at home and see that tofu maintains much of the integrity of the original bean.

Eating soy. Soy is nutritious, cheap, versatile and safe! See this exhaustive paper by superstar RD Jack Norris that cites over 130 studies.

Eating fake meats. Most of us grew up eating meat and we enjoyed the taste. Some vegetarians now abhor even the idea of meat and that’s fine; I’m not about to talk someone into eating fake meats. But for the rest of us: the occasional meat analog is quite satisfying. Should you rely on them for most meals? No, definitely not. Should you focus on whole foods like beans? Yes. Just don’t feel guilty about the times you want to dig into a nice vegan pizza topped with veggie sausage.

Some of you will read this and think about how you never do any of these and why would anyone? Congrats to you because you are definitely an exceptional person. I wouldn’t advise you to do otherwise. But for most of us the above are real-life examples of how we balance good nutrition and our desire for certain foods. My point is that the evidence in the nutrition field isn’t precise enough to say there are benefits to never doing the above. What you eat most often is what really matters. With the assumption that you are already eating a plant-based diet of predominantly whole grains, legumes, fresh fruits and vegetables. The guilt that we feel and the stress of trying to be perfect are worse for us than doing any of the above!

Can you work on feeling less guilt? I hope so! Thanks for reading and I hope this is helpful. Have a great weekend and maybe I’ll see you Sunday night at our Day in the Life screening?

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