Daily Vegan Eats
High Protein Not Shown to Cause Renal Disease

I might not win any followers for this but I feel that providing factual information is better than making people happy. 

While doing some research, it turns out that a high protein diet does not contribute to kidney problems in healthy adults, which is counter to the commonly touted vegan argument against high protein consumption. 

Read on…

Leftover Rice Protein Cookies

You’ll Need

-about 1 cup of cooked rice (I used 1 and 1/3 cup cooked brown rice + quinoa)

-60g (about 2 scoops) of a protein powder of your choice (I used vanilla)

-1/4 cup (or more) of chocolate chips or chopped chocolate

-2 ripe bananas

-a dash (about 1/8 teaspoon) of cinnamon

To Do

1. Preheat an oven to 175 C (350 F). 

2. Combine all ingredients in a bowl. 

3. Using a nonstick baking sheet, a baking sheet coated lightly in oil or baking paper, add the cookie batter. 

4. Bake 12 minutes. Let cool and transfer to a rack. Enjoy!

Fried Green Tomatoes

You’ll Need

-1 green tomato

-Oil for frying (I used canola)

-Flour of your choice (I used rice flour)

-Seasoning (I used cumin powder, coriander powder and garlic powder)

-Vegan cream cheese

-Hot sauce (I used chipotle paste)

-Green peppers (hot or mild), diced

-Sesame seeds

To Do

1. Slice tomato. 

2. Mix flour and seasoning to taste. Coat tomatoes with this mixture (the moisture of the tomato should make the mixture hold).

3. Add oil to a pan and turn on medium-high heat. Wait until oil is ready (test by adding a small amount of flour. If it sizzles instantly, it’s ready; if not, wait). 

4. Fry tomatoes until they are browned. Carefully turn and fry again. Remove from oil when browned on both sides, set on a paper towel to remove excess oil. Turn off the pan. 

5. In a small bowl, mix the vegan cream cheese and hot sauce. Top each tomato with a bit of this mixture, then top with green peppers and sesame seeds. Enjoy!

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Q&A - Do Vegans Need Supplements?

Twitter user Miriamming asks:

Do all Vegans take dietary supplements ? If Yes, which one(s) ? Thank you :)

It’s a common misconception that a vegan diet is one that needs tons of pills and powders in order to be healthy. In many countries where vegans are prevalent, food already has added supplementation to it because it was deemed necessary due to deficiencies. For example, cow’s milk is not a reliable source of vitamin D on its own, but cow’s milk sold commercially is a source of vitamin D due to it being added (as well as vitamin A) for public health reasons. In the same way, many non-dairy milks are fortified with things like B12, vitamin D and calcium. 

If you view it this way, almost all persons, vegan or not, consume supplementation along with their food. These were added for a reason and there’s no purpose to going out of your way specifically to find these in nature. These products were created for human use to meet needs of the public health. They can be absorbed and utilized by the body just fine.

Unless you have a specific nutrient deficiency or are a very active individual, there’s no reason to add in supplementation in the form of extra pills/liquids/powders. You may find these are beneficial, but they aren’t a requirement. 

New Way to Ask Me Questions!

For those that prefer, I created an ask.fm account: http://ask.fm/dailyveganeats Just like here, you can ask anonymously but I believe it allows more characters per question. 

Can vegans eat an Acai Bowl?

It depends on what’s in it, just like anything else. A quick Google search led me to a website for an acai bowl, which seems to be nothing more than a marketing gimmick. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with acai berries (they’re pretty good and good for you) but I thought this was some kind of special recipe. The website says you can make it however you like as long as you include acai berries. That’s like me making a fruit salad with nuts, peaches and other fruit and calling it a “Peach Bowl”. There’s nothing specifically peach-oriented about it, just like there’s nothing specifically acai-oriented about it. It just happens to include acai berries.

A sample recipe posted on the site calls for honey, which isn’t vegan-friendly so I’d swap that for maple or agave syrup. Otherwise, it’s basically oats and fruit.

I Love…Parsley!

I bought some fresh parsley on sale. I don’t know how this tasty green was demoted to being a decorative addition on a plate. It is not only delicious, but loaded with nutrients! Check it out:

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Plus, it contains all your essential amino acids!

Don’t forget the parsley next time you’re out shopping for groceries. Add it to salads or stir fry. Try mixing it with your favorite beans (including hummus) for a healthy, tasty addition to these already-awesome foods. Parsley is delicious with tomato dishes or anything calling for lemon. 

I made this image, but the picture comes from 123rf.com and the information from nutritiondata.com

I Love…Sesame Seeds!

Ounce-for-ounce, sesame seeds outshine milk as a source of calcium and beef as a source of iron. Loaded with nutrients, it is little wonder these small seeds ended up in mythology. Assyrian gods drank wine made from sesame seeds when they came together to create the world, and these appear in Hindu and Wiccan rituals as well, being a symbol of immortality and protection (among other things). 

For some reason, most people think of adding sesame seeds to Asian foods and I don’t understand why. With their small size and mild flavor, they can be added to everything! Try using these in:

-sandwiches

-salads

-hummus, guacamole, salsa, bean dip and other dips

-oatmeal

-smoothies

-peanut butter or other nut/seed butter

-as a crust prior to grilling or pan-frying tofu, seitan or other vegan meat replacement

Enjoy this inexpensive, tasty addition to your meals and snacks!

I made this picture, but the information is from nutritiondata.com

How To Make: Balsamic Cucumbers (GF)

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I made this simple snack and it was quite delicious. 

You’ll Need
-2 cucumbers, sliced
-balsamic vinegar (to taste)
-truffle infused oil (to taste) ((see note 1))
-marjoram (or other herbs, to taste)
-raw walnuts
-fresh cracked pepper

To Do
Just combine and enjoy, it’s very refreshing and with the fats, fiber and volume of food it can be a filling snack.

Notes
1. Truffle infused oil does sound pricey but I’ve had mine from TJ Maxx, Marshall’s or Ross if you can find it. They’re about 7 US dollars per bottle. The stuff you can find in the store generally starts at 12 US dollars per bottle and even then I recommend it. It’s very potent so you only ever need a little bit, so it’s a tasty investment. If you can’t buy it, then I would recommend infusing some oils yourself with various herbs around your kitchen and a few garlic cloves. This way, you can add oil and more flavor.

2. Feel free to replace the dried marjoram with fresh, or swap it for dried or fresh mint. 

How To Make: Italian-Inspired Tomato Stew (GF)

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I love pasta but I typically have a hard time handing wheat. Sometimes I eat late at night and try to avoid noodles of any kind altogether, so I usually end up making this. While I made my own base for this, you can definitely replace the tomatoes here with a pasta sauce of your choice.  

You’ll Need
-8 to 10 cherry tomatoes or two full size tomatoes (I used my frozen cherry tomatoes)
-Garlic cloves (I love garlic so I used about 5 cloves)
-Fresh parsley and fresh basil
-Cubed tofu and/or vegan chik’n (or other meat or vegan meat substitute)
-Half an onion (or one small onion), diced
-1 small handful of diced bell pepper/capsicum 
-Italian seasoning (either as a pre-mixed blend of spices or use things like dried oregano, dried basil, etc.)
-A splash (about 1 teaspoon) balsamic vinegar
-Drizzle of truffle-infused olive oil, or plain olive oil

To Do
1. In a pot or deep pan on medium heat, add in the tomatoes, garlic cloves, onions, bell pepper, vegan meat/tofu, and enough water to cover the ingredients halfway (about 1/2 cup water). Simmer until tomatoes are soft and everything is heated through.
2. Add in fresh basil, fresh parsley. 
3. Carefully transfer some of the mixture (about half) to a blender or food processor and pulse two to three times (do not add in your protein). Since it is hot, it may splatter a little when you open the blender/processor, so that’s why you only use a quick pulse two to three times. If it needs more blending, open the blender first, then close it again and pulse two to three more times. Do this with about half of the mixture.
4. Add in balsamic vinegar and oil to taste. Enjoy as-is or served over rice, quinoa, noodles or with bread.

"How to bulk up without meat?"

Question: “Hey, what’s a good way to bulk up without meat? Vegetarian or vegan options, it doesn’t matter.

Answer: That’s a great question. There’s a huge misconception that vegetarians and vegans are unable to bulk up because they don’t consume meat, and that’s just incorrect. Since this is a vegan blog, I will only provide vegan answers.

Image of Rayshon Manley from veganbodybuilding.com’s Profiles page.

Whether you’re a vegetarian or vegan, bulking up is the same as being an omnivore. Your bulking ingredients: 

1. A proper workout designed to increase muscle size.

2. A proper bulking diet (a shit ton of food).

3. Proper rest (both between gym days and sleep at night).

I don’t know how much you know about bulking workouts, so I’ll leave that out for now. If you want help with it, I’m happy to do so…just ask. 

A proper bulking diet is one where you consume high calories. That’s it. Now, there’s “dirty bulking” and “clean bulking”, which just refer to the types of calories you consume. A good visual example is professional bodybuilder Lee Priest:

He does a dirty bulk, which just causes him to consume a shit ton of calories in any form. Muscle loves calories. Then he does a “cutting cycle” where his goal is to cut fat, so it’s a huge diet change with some change to workouts as well. This does cause a loss of muscle mass, which is why the bulking cycle is so important.

However, if you’re like me, you just want to eat all the things and you don’t want to have to pay for it with a huge fat gain. Folks like me do clean bulking. This is where we eat a lot of food from healthy, natural sources prepared in a healthy way. Dirty bulkers include things like fast food, fried foods and pizza into their diet, while clean bulkers avoid this. We tend towards things that are baked, broiled, boiled or pan-fried with little to no oil (hooray for nonstick cookware). This is not a high protein, low carb diet, but instead a high protein and high carb diet. If you find yourself gaining a significant amount of fat, I would play with the types and amounts of carbohydrates you take in, or cut down your overall calorie count for the day.

Clean or dirty bulking, you’re going to want to eat at least every 2 hours. This isn’t “three moderate meals with three snacks” or “six small meals throughout the day” like you may have heard recommended for people when they’re told to eat often. This is eating several meals throughout the day. Since you’re looking for meat-free, here are some classic tasty meals from my super bulking days (I can’t do them anymore due to my medical issues):

-1 block tofu cooked with onions, broccoli and spinach 

-2 cups of vegan yogurt (no sugar added) + 1 papaya (or 1/2 papaya, 1/2 pineapple)

-2 cups of meatless chili (you can use veggie crumbles in this) + 2 cups steamed vegetables + 1 baked potato (no butter, but pepper, salsa, and vegan sour cream are fine)

-Quesadilla made with Ezekiel wraps (or other sprouted grain tortillas), vegan cheese (I prefer Daiya brand), vegan chik’n, tomatoes, onions + salad + rice and beans

-Homemade falafel (baked) served with homemade vegan tzatziki sauce (find a recipe, it’s stupid easy to make) and/or hummus, cucumber slices, raw spinach and raw tomatoes on pita bread + side of rice cooked with vegetables and some Mediterranean seasoning (I usually opted for something Egyptian)

-16oz non-dairy milk (I prefer hemp milk) + 1-2 cups of cooked oatmeal + 1 sliced banana + 1 tablespoon PB (stirred into hot oatmeal) + drizzle of natural maple syrup (optional)

-Open-face vegetarian BLT with 1 slice of Ezekiel bread (or other sprouted grain bread) and topped with tons of veggies (spinach, tomato, sliced carrots, sprouts, cucumber, minced garlic) and a little mayo for flavor (I prefer Vegenaise by Follow Your Heart brand), topped with several slices of vegan bacon (including homemade vegan bacon from tempeh…so good)

-2 cups homemade potato soup loaded with vegetables (for creamy consistency, puree cooked veggies + potatoes using a blender, or mash together) + 1 slice Ezekiel bread (or other sprouted grain bread) toasted and served with herbed olive oil for dipping + salad

-A large bowl of chopped fruit topped with 1-2 cups vegan yogurt (no sugar added), cinnamon, 1-2 handfuls of crushed nuts, 1-2 handfuls of uncooked oatmeal + 1 teaspoon of chia seeds if you have them

-Double burger (I like Boca brand, or you can get crazy and use one “beef” patty and one chik’n patty) made with plenty of vegetables (sauteed onions and mushrooms, sliced cucumber, sprouts of your choice, broccoli slaw minus the dressing [they sell it in bags at the store], tomatoes) and sliced avocado. You can serve this with two slices of Ezekiel bread (or other sprouted grain bread) or you can cook yourself some home fries in the oven (chop potatoes, season, bake until cooked through)…I don’t like doing both because it bloats me up on all the starch. Serve with a side of salad.

Those are just some ideas to get you started. Yes, I know this sounds like a lot of food and that’s the point. Paired with a proper workout to add mass, you will need this to repair the damage to your muscle tissue and prevent you from feeling too tired/fatigued to workout or do your daily activities. You’re not only fueling your body’s normal processes (which eat through 1600-2500 calories for the average person per day doing things like cell repair and maintaining brain function), but you’re also going above and beyond by demanding your body perform well and repair successfully. It’s not just about the protein content but about a well-rounded diet complete with protein, natural carbohydrates and healthy fats to ensure you’re getting all the nutrients you need. 

In a pinch, yes, you can do something like grab a bag of nuts and a couple fresh fruits from the gas station or convenience store and a jug of non-dairy milk or juice to mix up a protein shake (always carry protein powder with you, have some at work, in your car, in a bag if you carry one). Or you can throw together a quickie peanut butter sandwich using Ezekiel bread (or other sprouted grain bread), 2-3 tablespoons natural peanut butter, sliced bananas (1-2), a dusting of cinnamon and try tossing some tasty sesame seeds on there and have it with a glass of water or non-dairy milk of your choice. It’s not ideal, but it gets the job done. You can do the same thing with scrambled or sliced tofu and veggie bacon and make a sandwich that way (add in some vegetables, though) if that’s more portable for you. Some people prefer sandwiches and that can be fine. 

I hope this helps.

How To Make: Salsa Stir Fry

I had a bunch of leftover odds and ends so I threw this together. 

You’ll Need

-thinly-sliced seitan (or other protein, such as tofu, black beans or other veg*n meat replacement)

-garlic cloves

-broccoli

-bell pepper (diced)

-rice or other grain (I used quinoa I cooked with a 15-grain rice blend in my rice cooker)

-salsa

-water

-other spices (I used coriander, red pepper powder, cracked peppercorns and lemon juice), to taste (optional)

To Do

Step 1: combine seitan (or other protein of your choice), salsa and vegetables in a pot or deep skillet. Add in enough water to just coat the ingredients and simmer on medium low heat until cooked through.

Step 2: add in grains and season to taste. Cook until heated through and serve. 

How To Make: Bibimbap

According to a local rumor, bibimbap was created during the war when food was scarce. The very poor would get a bowl and some rice and wander to homes, asking for scraps of food to donate to the bowl. After finding some, they would mix it and eat it. Bibimbap literally means “mixed rice” and if you like fried rice then you can enjoy this lower-fat version. 

You cannot fuck up bibimbap. You can literally put into it whatever you want, though there are a few “traditional” styles of it depending on what city you visit in Korea. Other than some local versions and the inclusion of rice, there are absolutely no rules to this. Some of the ingredients can be cooked, or they can be served raw, fermented or marinated. It’s up to you. For the picture, here is the recipe. 

You’ll Need

-1 or 2 scoops of cooked rice

-Crumbled tofu (about 1/2 cup), heated through

-1 green onion, sliced

-3 mushrooms, sliced and cooked

-5 cherry tomatoes, chopped

-half a spicy pepper, sliced (optional)

-1 spoonful of gochujang (Korean spicy pepper paste)

-sesame seeds and sesame oil, to taste 

To Do

Step 1: Put all ingredients in a bowl, arranging however you like. 

Step 2: Mix and eat. 

Notes

-Bibimbap can be served hot if you have a stone pot/bowl. I like this version because it makes the rice crispy. If you don’t have a stone pot or bowl, use a nonstick pan/pot on medium-low heat (no oil) and let the rice crisp up at the bottom. Bibimbap served in this style typically has a single egg cracked over it, which cooks up when mixed with the hot rice. Obviously, you want to omit the egg but the hot, crispy rice is definitely awesome!

-Scrambled, cubed or fried tofu makes a great protein here, but so do beans. 

-White rice was used here, but any blend of rice or other grains will also work. Quinoa or oats can also be used. 

-Because it is served cold (with the exception of the version from the first note), bibimbap is a great dish to take with you as a packed lunch. It is a complete meal in a single bowl, with whole grains, vegetables and protein. 

-Some recipes for bibimbap call for sliced roasted seaweed. I personally find this to be delicious, but didn’t have any on-hand. 

For the Vegan Athlete - Creatine

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Behind protein, creatine is the most researched supplement on the market. Despite this research, its proven safety and effectiveness, creatine still has a bad reputation. The purpose of this blog post is to clear up any misconceptions on the product. 

What is Creatine?

Creatine is found in all vertebrates, with 95% being located in the skeletal muscle. Creatine’s role is to help fuel adenosine triphosphate (ATP) for energy in your cells, including your muscles and brain. The synthesis of creatine in the body can be done using L-arginine, glycine, and L-methionine, which come from the diet. In addition to this, creatine is consumed whenever meat is eaten, as creatine is found largely in skeletal muscle. Because of this, vegetarians and vegans have a reduced amount of creatine in their systems [1].

In other words, you need it and you make it in your own body. 

Is Creatine Safe?

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Creatine is not an illegal substance by any means. Contrary to popular belief, creatine is not a steroid, nor is it banned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) [2]. It is non-addictive and studies repeatedly show the safety of creatine. Among such safety concerns include the debunking of creatine as a facilitator for dehydration [3] or that it causes damage to the liver and kidneys, but it is advised that persons already suffering from kidney or liver illnesses avoid creatine. If you are taking a drug that may harm your kidneys, you should avoid creatine [7]. For a list of those drugs, click here

Isn’t It Just Water Weight?

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Well, yes and no. Creatine does help cells retain water [4]. As an athlete or person interested in fitness, this is a good thing unless you’re trying to make it into a weight class for a competition. The problem is that this myth suggests that the only gains with creatine are an illusion from stored water, which is not the case. You can absolutely make muscle gains while taking creatine — in fact, that’s really the point of taking it in the first place. It allows you to have more energy during your workouts and helps you repair faster as well [5]. This all equates to muscle gain.

Of course, this depends on your workouts and diet. If you are training to just sculpt and improve muscle tone, then creatine helps with that. You aren’t going to just suddenly explode with muscles by taking it. Like any supplement, it serves to enhance what you’re doing…it doesn’t create magical results or changes. 

Why Supplement with Creatine?

Due to the nature of creatine and some illnesses, it is being used therapeutically to help the treatment of disorders of the neurological or muscular nature. Some of these include arthritis, Parkinson’s Disease and even depression. Vegetarians and vegans can benefit from creatine supplementation due to a lower concentration from a lack of meat consumption (creatine supplements are vegan-friendly, but vegans and vegetarians should note other ingredients in a given product, as well as the equipment on which the creatine was manufactured).

That’s probably not what you’re here for, though. The most popular use of creatine supplementation is in athletes. Due to its use in the body, creatine supplementation is for persons doing high intensity, short duration exercises, such as sprinting or weight lifting. Those doing longer, aerobic exercises will not see benefit from creatine as fuel during those exercises comes mainly from glycogen (stored sugars) and oxygen as opposed to the creation and use of ATP.

How to Supplement

Those interested in creatine supplementation may hear about a “loading phase”. The idea here is to increase the amount of creatine in the system and then switch to maintenance, which continues to “top off” the loaded creatine. Studies show this is unnecessary for people who wish to use creatine long-term [6]. While the average amount recommended is a 5g per day across the board, taking it based on body weight can be more beneficial. 

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Creatine has been shown to be more effective when taken with carbohydrates [8], so you may consider taking it with a carb-heavy meal or with a juice. 

Which Supplement to Choose

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There are many types of creatine on the market and you can take them in pill or powder form. Choose what’s right for you. Creatine monohydrate is the cheapest and most readily available, but other kinds of creatine claim to be taken up quicker or cause less of a bloated feeling (some people may encounter this). It’s up to you. From my experience, I prefer powders of everything and powdered creatine won’t mix. It settles quickly and has a fine sand consistency. I still prefer powders so I just shake it up and drink what is suspended in the water, repeat until done. 

There are flavored creatine products, but due to the carb-phobia of many folk they tend to be artificially sweetened. Considering creatine is best taken with carbohydrates, if you are looking for a flavored creatine product then find one with carbohydrates as opposed to artificial sweeteners (if you are diabetic, take this advice with caution). 

Conclusion

Creatine has been a long-studied supplement with no shown serious side effects. It can be added into almost any workout routine to provide help in hitting new goals and breaking through plateaus. 

Sources

1. Wikipedia. ”Creatine”: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Creatine

2. NCAA. “2012-13 NCAA Banned Drugs”: http://www.iupui.edu/~jagsncaa/_Assets/docs/rules_ed/NCAA_Banned_Drugs_Educational_2012_13.pdf

3. Journal of Athletic Training. “Creatine Use and Exercise Heat Tolerance in Dehydrated Men”: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1421496/

4. bodybuilding.com. “Supplement Science - Creatine Q&A”: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/creatine-q-and-a-top-17-questions-answered.html

5. bodybuilding.com. “Creatine FAQ”: http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/dimaggio2.htm

6. Journal of Athletic Training. “The Effects of Low-Dose Creatine Supplementation Versus Creatine Loading in Collegiate Football Players”: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC155521/

7. Medline Plus. “Creatine”: http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/873.html#DrugInteractions

8. Nutrition Express. “When to Take Creatine and How Much to Take" (adapted from Creatine: Nature’s Muscle Builder by Ray Sahelian, MD, p. 49, 53): http://www.nutritionexpress.com/showarticle.aspx?articleid=61

This article comes from my (mostly) fitness blog