Like Iron for Vegetarians

A vegetarian diet is great, but there’s a lot of nonsense out there about filling your nutritional requirements on a vegetarian diet.

We are probably meant to eat some meat. You need iron and B12, and these things are tricky on a fully natural vegetarian diet.  Your doctor might tell you that spinach is an excellent source of iron, but this is largely a myth.  Also – you might eat all the lentils in the world and still end up severely anemic.

Things like iron and B12 are not always easy to get from plants. You can get them from fortified cereals and such, but if you don’t eat processed foods – then you could run into some trouble.  And even if you do eat fortified foods, you can still run into some trouble.

If you’re a female who doesn’t eat much meat – do yourself a favor and track your iron levels.  Not just hemoglobin but indications of stored iron (ferritin).

I’m very careful to eat plenty of veg iron sources. Even so, I’m dealing with a second bout of severe anemia in two years.  The creepy thing about low iron is you might not feel anything is wrong until your levels are catastrophic.

Once you’ve depleted your iron stores, your hemoglobin might come up quickly with supplementation but it could take months to relieve symptoms. I’ve been taking iron twice daily for almost a month, and now finally starting to feel relatively normal.

Also, iron supplementation is not fun, as iron pills have plenty of unpleasant side effects. So really, it’s better to prevent problems.

Unfortunately, way too many doctors know nothing about nutrition or don’t think to order the most obvious test.

If you’re feeling fatigued, there are doctors who will tell you to get some exercise. If your iron stores are catastrophically low, this will only make the problem worse. You need to be your own health advocate and learn what tests to ask for, what good numbers look like, and what advice you should take with a grain of salt.

A CBC will give you your hemoglobin levels, which should be at least 12 for females. I just bought a copper sulfate solution on Amazon to self-monitor my hemoglobin (this is what they use at blood banks to quickly disqualify you from donation if your hemoglobin < 12.5). But you should get a blood test for accuracy.

In most states (not NJ), you can get a ferritin test for less than $30 without visiting a doctor 

Last time I tested my ferritin, I was at a 7 and I felt like death.  My doctor didn’t even think to order the test, didn’t pay any attention to the number, and tried to send me to a rheumatologist.

Trust your own intuition, and do what you can to come to your doctor prepared. If your doctor says something that betrays a lack of common sense, go to a second doctor.  A medical degree does not make a good doctor, just as a law degree does not make a good lawyer.

That said, Iron can be very dangerous to supplement if your levels are not low, so make sure you know where you stand before trying anything.

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What’s On Your Menu?

 

 

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Cauliflower & Sweet Potato Soup w/ scallions and bacon

Majority of the time, Sunday’s are dedicated to food shopping, meal prepping and getting ready for the week. Yesterday was no exception.

What usually happens is, I go through the store circulars, store coupons and manufacturer coupons and plan our meals based on the deals of the week. I’m on a budget! “Look babe! Turkey is 99 cents per pound. Are you good with turkey this week?” “Yea, anything is good,” says my husband.

Yesterday was not one of those days…

$178.00 later: 2 lbs ground turkey, chicken breast, fresh salmon, shrimp, fruits, cauliflower, sweet potato, mozzarella cheese, eggs, almonds, strawberries, apples etc…. And my small list became this ginormous list and I was overwhelmed by the cost but the food was already scanned and bagged and the next thing I know, I am home prepping 1,000 things I had not planned on.

I stumbled upon Peas & Crayons Slow Cooker Sweet Potato & Cauliflower Soup recipe and had to give it a try. If any parents are reading this and have trouble getting your kids to eat their veggies, this is a good one. The sweet potato overpowers the cauliflower taste.

This recipe also gave me an excuse to purchase an immersion blender  and I am in love. It is way better than a handheld mixer that you use for baking… I dread using those things because most of the food ends up on the walls.

Yields: 16 cups (8oz) and freezes well!

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds Sweet Potato (Approx 2 large potatoes)- peeled and cubed
  • 2 pounds fresh head of cauliflower- roughly chopped
  • Original recipe calls for 1 quart veggie broth, I used chicken broth for extra flavor
  • 1 large onion-diced
  • 5 cloves garlic peeled. I minced my garlic
  • 4 stalks scallion- chopped
  • 1 tsp dried thyme- I did not have this so I used oregano
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (more if you really like a kick)
  • 1/4 tsp salt or to taste- My hubby said it was enough salt. I had to add more to my soup
  • 2 cups milk
  • 2oz. cream cheese

Directions:

  • Put everything into your crock pot except for milk and cream cheese. Set on high for 4-5 hours or until veggies are fork tender (took mine 4 hours)
  • Once tender, turn slow cooker off, add milk and cream cheese and blend using an immersion blender.
  • I topped our soups off with crumbled bacon, scallions and shredded cheese.

Stay tuned for a Caprese meatball recipe. So good!

XOXO,

Rachel

 

 

Coconut Fried Bananas

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sizzle sizzle

You want fried dessert, but you don’t want to hate yourself.  This takes 4.5 seconds to make, and requires two ingredients.

All you need is:

  1. Two bananas
  2. 2 tbsp of coconut oil

About the bananas: 

  • Pick bananas that are not too ripe. No matter what you do, the bananas will stick to the pan a little bit. The less ripe, the less they’ll stick. Frying them in oil will bring out the natural sweetness in any event.
  • I get my bananas from 7/11, because I’m a scumbag. Don’t be like me. Use better bananas.
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this is what a sad 7/11 banana looks like

About the oil: 

  • I keep my coconut oil in the fridge, which means it’s hard. I let it sit out for a few minutes prior to using.
  • I use Carrington Farm’s 100% organic coconut oil, because that’s what I have. Ideally I would use Trader Joe’s everything. But this works fine.
  • Use plenty of oil. These bananas will stick.

 

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my 2nd favorite coconut oil

What to do:

  1. Slice bananas
  2. Get pan a bit hot, then add 2 tablespoons coconut oil.
  3. When oil is beginning to get hot, add sliced bananas
  4. Cook as needed. 30 seconds – 1 min per side seems to work for me. 
  5. Brag to your roommate about what happened to all of the bananas

 

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I Don’t Want to Lose You

 

When it’s Grub Hub time, I don’t peruse. I stay in focus, eyes on the prize. Usually, it’s mediterranean food that I truly desire.

I have a favorite. Garbanzo Grill is the name, and yummy comestibles is the game. Their food = delicious, healthy, and filling. Their delivery person = less creepy than most.

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Yay! 

My roommate & fellow contributor Valerie normally partakes in the feast. But yesterday, Valerie wasn’t here. And just when I needed her most 😥

Because my treasured jewel was gone. Where the F was my favorite salad? The one I look forward to. The one I overpay for. The one I could NEVER live without.. 

To add to my horror – I cannot remember the ingredients. Panic sets in: “Goddamit, Dorit. Get it together. It MUST be somewhere on this menu.”

I text Valerie “OMFG WHERE IS MY SALAD.”

She seems confused. I don’t have time for explanations.

In an cruel twist, I suddenly can’t recall the salad’s name. But in this troubled time, adrenaline kicks in. A flash of genius!: “Look to your past orders, Dorit. It’s going to be OK.” 

I tear apart the archives. Sure enough, my beauty has a name: “Shepard’s Salad” Thank God. Let me Control + F that.

Praised be the name of God! It’s still here. And still 4 dollars for a serving the size of a small grape. The psychopaths had inexplicably removed it from the “salads” section to the “appetizers.” WHY YOU BUFFOONS WHY?

A proper scare. But nothing is lost. In fact, something is gained.

I will never take my favorite salad for granted again. I will learn about you, and I will give you all of the respect. I will learn to make you from scratch, my friend, and I will share you on the internet for all to enjoy.

Here are the ingredients: Cucumbers, tomatoes, parsley, red onions, olive oil and fresh lemon juice.

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Simple yet elegant

I love you my salad.  I’m so sorry I forgot your name.  And I’m sorry that I forgot all of your ingredients.

But I’m different now; I’m a better man.

AND I will NEVER be without you again. 

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Your Food Can Talk

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“Listen up, human. We’re trying to tell you something.”

Your Produce is Alive!!!

It lives. It breathes. When you close the refrigerator door, the citizens of your fridge even communicate amongst one another through chemical signals.

So how you store and prepare your veggies affects them. And who you store them with affects them as well.

Examples

1. Ripen your avocado.  Want to ripen your avocado faster? Store it in a brown paper bag with a couple of bananas. The bananas emit ethylene gas, which speeds the ripening process.

2. Save your avocado with onion. Chop up some onion. Place it in an airtight container with your avocado or guac. If possible, keep the pit. The gasses from the onion will slow browning.

3. Torture your lettuce. This is kind of disturbing. Your lettuce is still living. If you tear it up, it begins to produce higher amounts of anti-oxidants to protect itself from the horrors of your inhumanity.

On the downside, the torture makes it respire faster. I mean – wouldn’t you respire faster if someone was tearing you apart? So once torn, it won’t last as long. (Neither would you!). But if you plan to eat it in the next day or so, tear that ish up and watch the anti-oxidant levels rise.

Preparing Your Veggies

How you prepare your veggies has an enormous impact on their nutritional value.  Some nutrients are destroyed by heat. Some are enhanced by it.

Some fruits and veggies are made less nutritious through the process of freezing/thawing. Others (quick respirators) lose nutritional value so quickly that you are better off freezing them than not!

There is no universal best way to prepare your fruits and veggies. It all depends on the item in question, and perhaps on what your goals are.

BUT there is a nearly universal bad way to do it: Boiling!

Forget about the problem of heat. For most plants, boiling will leach water soluble nutrients into the boiling water. Unless you’re using that water in a soup, stew or broth, you’re basically losing those vitamins.

All of these tips come from one of my favorite books, Eating on the Wild Side by Jo Robinson.  You should check it out.  It’s a wonderful read.

For tips on carrots, see my post on How to Get 8X More Nutrition from Your Carrots
For tips on garlic, see my post Garlic, You’re Doing it Wrong.

If you have any tips like this, I’d love to hear them and share them 🙂

Happy Vegging!

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Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili

Let me be blunt. I modified this recipe from here.

But without the modifications, it’s a bit bland.
And the modifications work. And by work I mean WEEEERK.

If you’re a single lady, this recipe will make men love you. And if you’re a single guy, it will also make men love you.  So I hope if you’re a dude that you’re gay or at least open to exploration.

OK so go to that link. Put those exact things in the slow cooker, and then add the following:

  1. SALT! I don’t like salt, but without any salt at all this recipe is bland
  2. 1/8 cup of brown sugar, I added it a few hours into the slow cooking process
  3. A few table spoons of balsamic vinaigrette! Also added late in the slow cooking process. This is the secret key!! Oh my goodness.

Also. The recipe says slow cook for 2 hours. I don’t think that’s nearly enough to get the full flavor.

I slow cooked on high for 4ish hours. I turned it to low towards the end.

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Heavenly chili, obscured by a ton of other delicious ingredients: spring mix, bruschetta, avocado, egg

BONUS POINTS:
You get bonus points from a higher power if you serve this chili on top of mixed greens with an egg on top. If you’re feeling naughty, a dollop of sour cream won’t hurt.

ALERT!!! Burrito Potential alert!:
I try to avoid carbs. But if you’re feeling feisty, add one egg, some mixed greens, some avocado and/or tomato.  Throw it all together in a wrap to make the world’s most wonderful burrito. You won’t be disappointed.

STAY WARM! And Happppppppppy Chili Nomming 😀

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