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Where do you get your protein?

I’m not at Nutritionist or a Dietitian. I’m just a mum who wants the best for my family. I’ve spent the last 6 months of this journey to a plant based lifestyle doing lots of research. As a plant based or vegan mum, you face extra scrutiny about the health and development of your children. This comes not only from friends, family and strangers; but from health professionals such as GP’s, Midwives and Plunket Nurses who don’t understand the lifestyle and who’s practice and values are often steeped in the food myths that protein must come from animal products and cow’s milk is good for your bones! I’m not saying that you shouldn’t listen to these professionals, but do your own research so you can make informed decisions.

If you’re going to make any significant changes to yours and your family’s diet and you have an existing medical condition, are pregnant, breastfeeding or have children; you should always consult with a health professional. I would definitely suggest seeing an Integrated Health Professional (fancy name for a GP who has also studied alternative medicine).

So after months of research here is what i now know about protein and the plant based lifestyle.

The daily protein requirement for an adult human is about 0.8 grams per 2.2 lbs of body weight. It can be higher in growing children and pregnant women.  If you’re eating a balanced diet, it’s unlikely you will be protein deficient. Unless of course that is your medical condition! Excess protein intake (over 200 g/day) may lead to kidney damage over time. Are you cringing about that huge piece of steak you had last night?

When some people say vegans/plant based eaters don’t get enough protein or ask “where do you get your protein?”  They are often speaking about the specific amino acids that vegans/plant based eaters may have a harder time getting. Amino acids are the building blocks for proteins which help carry out body functions. There are 9 amino acids that our body CANNOT create; meaning we need to get them from a food source.

Meat and dairy are considered “complete proteins” because they have all 9 of these amino acids.  However, eating a variety of foods will give us the 9 essential amino acids that we need. There are however vegan/plant based foods that are complete proteins. Foods such as quinoa, buckwheat, hemp seeds, chia seeds, and spirulina are just a few. It is a common misconception that vegans/plant based eaters don’t get enough protein and this is where it all stems from.

The foods listed below are considered complete proteins, meaning they contain all 9 of the essential amino acids:

-Nuts
-Soy foods, such as tofu, tempeh, miso, and soy milk
-Sprouted seeds — each type of sprout has differing proportions of nutrients, so it’s best to eat a variety of them
-Grains, especially amaranth and quinoa
-Beans and legumes
-Spirulina and chorella (blue-green algae), which are over 60 percent protein

These are the 9 Essential Amino Acids and the foods which contain them. We should eat a variety each day, even if your an omnivore.

Histidine: Apple, pomogranates, alfalfa, beets, carrots, celery, cucumber, dandelion, endive, garlic, radish, spinach, turnip greens.

Arginine: Alfalfa, beets, carrots, celery, cucumbers, green vegetables, leeks, lettuce, potatoes, radishes, parsnips, nutritional yeast.

Valine: Apples, almonds, pomegranates, beets, carrots, celery, dandelion greens, lettuce, okra, parsley, parsnips, squash, tomatoes, turnips, nutritional yeast.

Tryptophan: Alfalfa, brussel sprouts, carrots, celery, chives, dandelion greens, endive, fennel, snap beans, spinach, turnips, nutritional yeast.

Threnoine: Papayas, alfalfa sprouts, carrots, green leafy vegetables such as celery, collards, kale, and lettuce (especially iceberg), lima beans, laver (Nori – a sea vegetable and its wrapped around your sushi!).

Phenylalanine: Apples, pineapples, beets, carrots, parsley, spinach, tomatoes, nutritional yeast.

Methionine: Apples, pineapples, Brazil nuts, filberts, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, chives, dock (sorrel), garlic, horseradish, kale, watercress.

Lysine: Apples, apricots, grapes, papayas, pears, alfalfa, beets, carrots, celery, cucumber, dandelion greens, parsley, spinach, turnip greens.

Leucine: Avocados, papayas, olives, coconut, sunflower seeds.

Isoleucine: Avocados, papayas, olives, coconut, sunflower seeds.

As I’ve said before, I’m not a health professional but I have done lots of research. If you look at my children, you will see that they are healthy, full of beans (pardon the pun) and thriving on the plant based diet. As for me, I’m feeling better than ever. We are still on this journey and we have days where we eat vegan junk food; such as chips and shop bought bread. We don’t beat ourselves up about it.

I really believe that it’s what we do everyday, not what we do sometimes which will make the biggest difference to our health.

Happy eating! xx

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Banana & dark chocolate muffins

As you probably know by now, I bake all the lunchbox items and we love muffins! These ones are pretty simple, a bit decadent and very yummy.

I’ve used Whittakers 72% cocoa dark Ghana instead of chocolate chips. Only because I actually bought it to eat a few weeks ago and I forgot about it. Just goes to show that I’m not addicted to sugar and chocolate as I once was!!

So, these muffins will freeze really well if they last that long. They’ll keep for a week in an air tight container in the fridge.

This recipe made 12 small muffins and 2 large ones.

Ingredients:

1 ripe banana, mashed

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 tbsp pure maple syrup (I didn’t use it, but if you want some extra sweetness put it in)

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp cinnamon

1 flax egg

3/4 cup of chopped dark chocolate or chocolate chips

2 cups wholemeal flour

2 cups plant milk (I used rice milk)

Method:

1. Pre heat the oven to 180°c

2. Prepare the flax egg and leave it in the fridge (1 tbsp ground flax seed mixed with 3 tbsp water)

3. Mash the banana

4. Add vanilla, cinnamon, flax egg and maple syrup if using and mix

5. Whisk together the flour, baking soda and baking powder

6. Add flour mix and milk to the banana and mix well

7. Stir in the chocolate

8. Spoon into muffin cases and cook for 15 minutes until golden and well risen

Let me know what you think if you make these xx

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Banana & blueberry muffins

I tried these muffins last week and they didn’t rise properly, as I opened the oven door too early or so I thought. After another test batch, I’ve realized that almond meal doesn’t allow muffins to rise and stay risen once they’re out of the oven. So these are not your typical 3inches tall muffins. They are however really tasty and full of goodness.

I’ve made them with half wholemeal flour and half almond meal/flour for an extra boost of calcium and healthy fat. Plus the almond meal gives these muffins a lovely texture. I used apple sauce rather than pure maple syrup for these, but you could use any sweetener you like. All the fruit makes them quite naturally sweet anyway.

This recipe made 12 regular sized muffins and 2 extra large ones. You might want to make them smaller and use 2 trays.

My 2.5 yr old loves to help me make muffins. He loves putting the cases in the tin, mixing, pouring and licking the bowl of course!

They freeze and defrost really well and they’re perfect for the lunchboxes and finger food for babies. They last a week in an air tight container in the fridge.

Ingredients:

1 cup wholemeal flour

1 cup almond meal

2 tablespoons apple sauce

2 overripe bananas mashed

1.5 cup unsweetened plant milk (I used rice milk today)

1 tsp baking powder

1tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla essence

.5tsp cinnamon

1 cup frozen blueberries

1 flax egg

Method:

1. Prepare your flax egg and set it in the fridge

2. Mash your bananas

3. Add cinnamon, vanilla and apple sauce to the bananas and mix to combine

4. Add the flours, baking powder, baking soda and milk. Mix well to ensure all flours are combined

5. Add the blueberries and mix

6. Spoon into muffin cases and put on the top rack of the oven on 180° celcius. Cook for 25 minutes or until a skewer comes out dry.

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Feeling plantastic!

I’ve been a bit quiet here, mostly due to lack of time to sit down and write. Life has been very busy with after school sports, camps, Stephen working lots and looking after our new puppy! We must be mad to add another baby into the mix but he’s so cute and we love him so much already!

So we’re 5 months into our plant based journey and it honestly feels like we’ve been eating this way forever. We all feel really good about our decision and the effects are really noticeable now. The main one being flatulence! Ask anyone plant based or vegan and if they’re brave enough they’ll tell you that farting increases 100%. It’s nothing to be embarrassed about; except if you’re in a queue or a lift!

As I’ve said before, I have a condition called Sarcoidosis and I’ve been having regular testing as I found a lump in my breast. When I first found the lump the Dr did a biopsy and a bunch of tests and diagnostics.

I was 77kg, my sarcoidosis hormone number was off the charts at 124 (normal is around 50). The CT scan showed it had spread from my lungs and chest cavity to my abdomen and the lymph nodes were around 13mm wide. My lung function test wasn’t that great either, the overall number was 52 which was pretty poor. They combine the total amount of air I’m able to blow out of my lungs, the amount of air I’m able to take in and the percentage of carbon dioxide blown out. I must admit we were pretty worried as were the Drs. They decided that treatment wasn’t a good option at this stage as it wasn’t affecting my liver or kidneys. Plus the treatment is Prednisone, which is a really strong steroid with lots of horrible side effects. So I was to be monitored, with these tests to be performed every 3 months and a warning to watch for a persistent cough and to go straight to my GP if I was worried.

A few months on and things are looking so much better. My last test results showed that my lung function has improved and the lymph nodes have shrunk! I don’t have any symptoms and I’m feeling great. The dr said its because sarcoidosis can flare up and then regress by it’s very nature. I told him I think my diet has helped. He agreed somewhat and now I am down to 6 monthly check ups.

In terms of our diet, I’ve been experimenting with a few different programmes. I found that the kids do really well with lots of healthy fats such as avocados, nuts, seeds, coconut as well as plenty of carbohydrates, veggies, beans, legumes, grains and fruits. We dont have much refined sugar, except for a treat every now and then. We’ve had some dairy free icecream this weekend, which was so yummy! I tend to use pure maple syrup or dates to sweeten my baking.

My husband is finding giving up cows milk hard and he still has some ham and cheese. He has given up butter though which is great. I’ve found an alternative called Nuttelex which although is oil based, is better than the cholesterol laden butter. I do all the cooking at home so he eats plantbased 80% of the time, which is awesome!

As for me, I’ve been doing a potato reset this last week. I managed 5 days and I lost 5cm off my waist, 3cm off my chest and .5kg! I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t use salt or sugar and I didn’t really miss them. I really enjoyed the natural flavours of my food so I’ll definitely be reducing the amount of salt I use in my cooking. Now I’m back to eating normally, I’m following a plan called The Starch Solution. Its focused on high carbohydrate intake and low to zero fats. This is what works best for me in terms of feeling full, maintaining my weight loss and being healthy on the inside.

So 5 months in and I’m feeling amazing. I have lots more energy, my skin is glowing and I feel healthy. Our children are thriving too which is what every parent wants. Knowing that the change in our diet has made them healthier is an awesome feeling for me. They are also learning about healthy food choices and compassion for animals.

We’ll never go back to eating meat and dairy now. What I’ve learnt about the two industries is truly shocking. I just hope that more people turn to plants for food if not for the animals then for their health.

Until next time, keep on planting xx