Nutrition Tips from the Mayo clinic for vegetatians

Getting adequate nutrition


The key to a healthy vegetarian diet — like any diet — is to enjoy a variety of foods. No single food can provide all the nutrients your body needs. The more restrictive your diet is, the more challenging it can be to get all the nutrients you need. A vegan diet, for example, eliminates natural food sources of vitamin B-12, as well as milk products, which are good sources of calcium.

With a little planning, however, you can be sure that your diet includes everything your body needs. Pay special attention to the following nutrients:

Calcium helps build and maintain strong teeth and bones. Milk and dairy foods are highest in calcium. However, dark green vegetables, such as turnip and collard greens, kale and broccoli, are good plant sources when eaten in sufficient quantities. Calcium-enriched and fortified products, including juices, cereals, soy milk, soy yogurt and tofu, are other options.

Iodine is a component in thyroid hormones, which help regulate metabolism, growth and function of key organs. Vegans may not get enough iodine and be at risk of deficiency and possibly even a goiter. In addition, foods such as soybeans, cruciferous vegetables and sweet potatoes may promote a goiter. However, just 1/4 teaspoon of iodized salt provides a significant amount of iodine.

Iron is a crucial component of red blood cells. Dried beans and peas, lentils, enriched cereals, whole-grain products, dark leafy green vegetables and dried fruit are good sources of iron. Because iron isn’t as easily absorbed from plant sources, the recommended intake of iron for vegetarians is almost double that recommended for nonvegetarians. To help your body absorb iron, eat foods rich in vitamin C, such as strawberries, citrus fruits, tomatoes, cabbage and broccoli, at the same time as you’re eating iron-containing foods.

Omega-3 fatty acids are important for heart health. Diets that do not include fish and eggs are generally low in active forms of omega-3 fatty acids. Canola oil, soy oil, walnuts, ground flaxseed and soybeans are good sources of essential fatty acids. However, because conversion of plant-based omega-3 to the types used by humans is inefficient, you may want to consider fortified products or supplements, or both.

Protein helps maintain healthy skin, bones, muscles and organs. Eggs and dairy products are good sources, and you don’t need to eat large amounts to meet your protein needs. You can also get sufficient protein from plant-based foods if you eat a variety of them throughout the day. Plant sources include soy products and meat substitutes, legumes, lentils, nuts, seeds and whole grains.

Vitamin B-12 is necessary to produce red blood cells and prevent anemia. This vitamin is found almost exclusively in animal products, so it can be difficult to get enough B-12 on a vegan diet. Vitamin B-12 deficiency may go undetected in people who eat a vegan diet. This is because the vegan diet is rich in a vitamin called folate, which may mask deficiency in vitamin B-12 until severe problems occur. For this reason, it’s important for vegans to consider vitamin supplements, vitamin-enriched cereals and fortified soy products.

Vitamin D plays an important role in bone health. Vitamin D is added to cow’s milk, some brands of soy and rice milk, and some cereals and margarines. Be sure to check food labels. If you don’t eat enough fortified foods and have limited sun exposure, you may need a vitamin D supplement (one derived from plants).

Zinc is an essential component of many enzymes and plays a role in cell division and in formation of proteins. Like iron, zinc is not as easily absorbed from plant sources as it is from animal products. Cheese is a good option if you eat dairy products. Plant sources of zinc include whole grains, soy products, legumes, nuts and wheat germ.

If you need help creating a vegetarian diet that’s right for you, talk with your doctor and a registered dietitian.

Getting started

If you’re not following a vegetarian diet but you’re thinking of trying it, here are some ideas to help you get started:

Ramp up. Each week increase the number of meatless meals you already enjoy, such as spaghetti with tomato sauce or vegetable stir-fry.

Learn to substitute. Take favorite recipes and try them without meat. For example, make vegetarian chili by leaving out the ground beef and adding an extra can of black beans. Or make fajitas using extra-firm tofu rather than chicken. You may be surprised to find that many dishes require only simple substitutions.

Branch out. Scan the Internet for vegetarian menus. Buy or borrow vegetarian cookbooks. Check out ethnic restaurants to sample new vegetarian cuisines. The more variety you bring to your vegetarian diet, the more likely you’ll be to meet all your nutritional needs.


Star Struck

I am a big nerd. Just got really excited about this tweet from Ottolenghi.


If you aren’t following yet on Twitter you can find me @occlusaltable

The Science of Poaching

The Science of Poaching

Definition: Cooking in liquid that is below the boiling point in a covered pot on the stovetop

No bubbles should be breaking the surface of the poaching liquid, meaning the liquid should not be at the boil. The lid should be on to create a constant and very gentle cooking environment. It’s best used for delicate food like fruit. The main obstacles to cooking ripe fruit are its softness and high water content which a quick dip in a hot liquid can remedy.

I’ve been reading Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and the picture is my daughter reading about poached pears. Here’s a tip on the prep followed by a poached pear recipe

Spraying produce with vinegar is the best way to remove surface wax, pesticide, and surface bacteria by lowering the pH and destroying biochemical mechanisms within bacteria. I LOVE ACETIC ACID! One recommendation is to use 1 part distilled vinegar to 3 parts tap water, and rinse with water after to remove unwanted vinegar flavor.

2 cups of dry white wine that you’d drink, ABSOLUTELY NO “TABLE” or “COOKING” WINE …recommend sauvignon blanc
lemon juice from 1/2 a lemon
1/2 cup sugar – or substitute with agave if possible
5-10 cardamom pods crushed (or more to taste)
salt to taste
4 firm peeled pears

simmer wine, lemon juice, sugar, cardamom and salt
add pears and make sure they are immersed, add water if necessary
turn pears occasionally
cook for 15-25 min, check by inserting a knife into the pears, it should run through with little resistance and slide through easily
remove pears and transfer to serving bowls

As a dentist, I would recommend this desert chilled and cold to have after having periodontal surgery or tooth extraction. It’s nice and soft, and the cold will help to reduce any post-surgical inflammation, and it’s tasty!

The Science of Macerating Fruit

During the ripening process of fruits, the trigger is caused by ethylene gas which is produced by the plant itself.  However not all fruits ripen in the same manner.  One fruit type classified as climacteric fruits such as bananas peaches, apples, apricots, avocados, cantaloupes, plums, tomatoes, papayas, mangoes and pears convert starch to sugar and begin to digest their cell walls becoming sweeter and softer as they ripen and continue to ripen even after they are separated from the plant they came from.  Nonclimacteric fruits such as blueberries, cherries, grapefruits, lemons, oranges, grapes, raspberries, strawberries, and oranges do not convert starch to sugar as part of the ripening process and therefore must receive all the sugar from the plant.


Sugar is hygroscopic which means that it attracts water and will draw out water from fruit by osmosis.  This process is called maceration.  water will come out of the cells in fruit and will cause it to loose its rigidity and become flaccid.   

The maceration process can be used to draw moisture out from fruit in fruit salads to create a flavorful dressing, and it can also be used by patients undergoing oral surgery or those individuals who may be missing teeth who may have a tough time chewing harder fruit.

Give the concept of maceration a try, and let us know if you have your own special recipe!

Cleaning Fruit

Spraying produce with vinegar is the ideal way to eliminate wax and pesticides. It also removes surface bacteria! Acetic acid in vinegar inhibits key biochemical mechanisms effectively destroying these pathogens. Just make sure to rinse off the vinegar before eating! Try this next time you eat an apple or a pear.


Why Are Vegetarians So Annoying?

Center for Advanced Hindsight

vegetarian2 (1) When I meet someone new, I’m pretty open in the first “getting to know you” conversations. I’ll freely offer up information about my career, hobbies, reality TV preferences, and even my sexuality. But there is one topic I avoid discussing for as long as I can get away with — I’m vegan.

It might happen when I turn down a bite of birthday cake for the third time or have trouble mustering interest in going to a restaurant whose sole vegan option is a deflated pile of aging lettuce, but eventually, it comes out. If I’m lucky, reactions are something like, “You’re missing out on so much!” or, “Good for you, but I could never give up bacon.” Other times, though, their face darkens and the inquisition begins: Why are you doing that? Aren’t you worried about getting enough protein? If I paid you twenty dollars, would you eat this…

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