BY: BARBARA PLEASANT
Easy-Grow Microgreens Are Big on Nutrition
Fast, fun to grow and packed with flavor and nutrition, tender young microgreens can go from seed to table in as little as a week. Close cousins to edible sprouts, microgreens are grown in potting soil or seed-starting mixes instead of plain water. They customarily grow beyond the sprout stage until they have produced a true leaf or two. After that, harvesting is a simple matter of snipping off fresh greens.
Vegan Holiday Treats that Everyone Loves
by Judith Fertig
Social occasions from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day abound, including multi-course dinners and potlucks; tree-trimming and baking parties; neighborly hospitality; nibbling on treats while wrapping gifts; and gathering to watch a holiday movie.
Because so much is happening in such a short period of time, people often revert to serving traditional foods such as Aunt Mary’s cheese ball or Grandma Daisy’s three-layer chocolate bars. These vintage recipes, however, can be laden with processed ingredients. Foods that signaled holiday cheer ages ago need a tweak or two to satisfy today’s health-minded friends and family members. With traditional flavors of the season like aromatic spices, fresh rosemary and chocolate, plus a plant-based philosophy, family favorites can get a new twist.
PHOTO COURTESY OF ELLA LECHÉ/ANDREWS MCMEEL PUBLISHING
Tasty Homemade Alternatives to Junk Food
BY: JUDITH FERTIG
Planning ahead is an effective key to healthy eating and weight management. Having healthy snacks available, both savory and naturally sweet, helps us to conquer cravings and avoid a sugar rush—or slump.
Between-meal nutritious and delicious snacks can be easy to make. Plus, unlike commercial foods, we know their ingredients. Here, Natural Awakenings has tapped two plant-based whole foods experts and cookbook authors for their best snack recipes and tips.
“Healthy happens when we’re prepared,” says Elise Museles, of Washington, D.C., the mother of two sons who writes at KaleAndChocolate.com/blog and recently released Whole Food Energy: 200 All Natural Recipes to Help You Prepare, Refuel, and Recover. “Nutritious is delicious; healthy doesn’t have to be bland and boring.” she says. Nor does it take hours to make.
“I pick one day a week to do meal prep,” she explains. “After a visit to our Sunday farmers’ market, I work in the kitchen for a few hours so I’m ready to go on Monday and for the rest of the week.” Whenever hunger threatens to derail her from a whole-foods, nutrientdense diet, Museles is equipped with options like protein balls and carrot hummus. She’s also learned that having naturally sweet foods at hand helps divert cravings, realizing, “You just want a sweet thing more if you think you can’t have it. Plus, I think better when my blood sugar is stable.” READ MORE
Small Shifts Can Drop Pounds and Gain Health
by Judith Fertig
Our food habits are often just that—mindless, repetitious eating behaviors. Some serve us well; others, not so much. Natural Awakenings asked experts to serve up many doable small changes that can add up to big shifts.
According to Brian Wansink, Ph.D., the John S. Dyson professor of marketing at Cornell University and author of Mindless Eating, changing just one lifestyle habit can eliminate two or more pounds each week. By changing up to three habits, we may lose more weight. At a minimum, we will likely improve the quality of the food we eat overall.
Wansink advises that having the only food on our kitchen counter be fruit encourages healthy snacking. At work, he suggests lunching away from our desk to discourage mindless eating. At restaurants, order half-size entrees, and then add a maximum of two items, such as soup and bread, salad and side dish or an appetizer and dessert.
He recommends using a food shopping strategy to fill the cart with better food. With hunger sated first, chew on a natural gum while shopping; it discourages buying junk food. Secondly, habitually fill the front of the cart with produce. “We eat what we see,” he says. READ MORE
Choosing Meat that’s Sustainable and Safe
BY: MELINDA HEMMELGARN
In his essay The Pleasures of Eating, Wendell Berry, a Kentucky farmer and poet, writes: “If I am going to eat meat, I want it to be from an animal that has lived a pleasant, uncrowded life outdoors, on bountiful pasture, with good water nearby and trees for shade.” He, like a growing number of conscious eaters, wants no part of the industrial meat system in which animals are raised in concentrated animal feeding operations.
Media coverage has helped educate consumers previously unaware of how their food is produced and why it matters. The documentary film Food Inc., as well as books like Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser and The Chain, by Ted Genoways, describe common livestock industry practices that mistreat animals, pollute water and air, endanger workers and threaten public health. With increased understanding of the connections between diet and health, climate, environment and social justice, even many Americans that still like the taste of hamburger and steak have sided with Berry; they want sustainably raised, humane and healthful red meat.
Unsustainable Corporate Lobby
Every five years, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines are revised to reflect the latest nutritional science. In 2015, the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee attempted to include the concept of sustainability. The committee, which included top nutrition scientists, defined sustainable diets as “a pattern of eating that promotes health and well-being and provides food security for the present population while sustaining human and natural resources for future generations.” It made the case that a diet higher in plant-based foods and lower in animal-based foods both promotes health and protects the environment—resulting in lower greenhouse gas emissions, and less energy, land and water use.
But political pressure from the livestock industry prevailed, and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack and Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Burwell jointly announced, “We do not believe that the 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans are the appropriate vehicle for this important policy conversation about sustainability.” Instead, they advised the committee to focus solely on nutritional and dietary information. READ MORE