5 Favorite Vegan Thanksgiving / Holiday Recipes | Katie Reines, MS, RD.

Ahhh Thanksgiving. My favorite holiday. Take the stress away and leave nothing but joy to saturate your friends and family. Which is really what Thanks. Giving. is all about, isn’t it?  Sometimes, these family occasions can be looked at as a burden.  I invite you to challenge that.  Let’s put in an effort out of love. It is worth it.  And maybe even take it to the next level- provide your family a truly compassionate dish option 😛

  1. Apple Pie

This is the gourmet recipe from the incredible healing cafe, Organic Garden Cafe in Beverly, MA where I’ve been working at seasonally since high school. Jacob Massey is an amazing raw vegan pastry chef. This pie: UNREAL. You have to believe me, seriously you must try it <3. I’m obsessed. Maybe its the already delicious food it’s made out of. Or maybe it’s all the joy he puts into his work. I’d say both. Anyone who has it tastes and feels the incredible-ness.

Makes 6 Pies:

Crust:

  • 10 cups walnuts
  • 7 1/2 cups pitted moist dates or coconut date rolls
  • 2 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp coconut palm sugar
  • 2 1/4 Tbsp coconut oil
  1. Line spring form pans with parchment paper
  2. Pulse and blend in food processor until well combined and a little chunky, not too smooth
  3. Distribute crust evenly into pans and press to smooth

Filling:

  • 10 quarts chopped into 1/2 inch cubes apples
  • 4 cups soaked dried apricots
  • 2 cups soaked raisins
  • 3/4 cup psyllium
  • 1/2 cup fresh ginger (not peeled but washed)
  • 1/4 cup cinnamon
  • 2 tsp salt
  1. Blend soaked fruit, psyllium, ginger, cinnamon, and salt in food processor until smooth
  2. Combine with chopped apple and mix well. The juices from the apple will release and the dried fruit mixture will distribute nicely
  3. Distribute filling evenly on crusts and press to smooth

Crumble:

  • 8 cups walnuts
  • 1/4 tsp clove
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 6 Tbsp coconut palm sugar
  1. Pulse in food processor until well combined and forms a nice crumble texture, not too smooth like butter
  2. Distribute crumble over pie fillings evenly and smooth gently
  3. Freeze pies overnight and thaw in the refrigerator. Freezing and thawing gives the apples a delicious cooked texture and releases all the wonderful juices.
  4. Try your best to share with someone 😉 Happy Thanksgiving!

2. Holiday Kale Salad

Inspired by the Quinoa Medley (#4 below). Use whatever herbs you like and have so much fun! This dish has wowed so many people and honestly, you can’t go wrong. A sweet tangy dressing, epic freshness and beautiful colors with the pompom. Mmm mmm!

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  • 1-2 bunches of kale
  • 2 pomegranates
  • 1 bunch green onion (half chopped half blended)
  • 1 large bunch dill (half chopped half blended)
  • 1 bunch mint (half chopped half blended)
  • 2 Tbs tahini (I used 2 Tbs hemp seeds)
  • 2 cups currents or raisins (I didn’t use raisins at the demo)
  • ½ cup pure lime juice
  • ½ cup orange juice
  • 4 dates
  • 2 cups walnuts
  1. Wash, de-stem, and schiffinade kale
  2. Chop using either a food processor S blade, or a knife and cutting board, half of the bunches of scallion, dill, and mint
  3. Deseed pomegranates (with a large spoon, banging on the outside of 1/2 of the fruit so the seeds just fall into your palm)
  4. chop walnuts
  5. Blend juice, dates, and the other half of the bunches of green onion, dill, and mint
  6. Massage dressing into kale thoroughly with gloved or very very clean hands
  7. Using tongs, mix in nuts and pomegranate seeds
  8. Serve chilled❤

3. FullyRaw Pumpkin Pie

I made this pie many times in Indiana where little local persimmons are all over the place.  There were two local persimmon trees at Purdue where I would frequently sit under, wait for the wind to blow, and eat all of the fruit that fell to the ground! The samples I made in the video below could not have gotten better reviews.  It is amazing how people think healthy food won’t taste redonk. And when it does, the light in their eyes! Priceless.

FullyRaw Kristina’s Pumpkin Pie:

Crust

  • ~1 lb dates
  • 1.5-2 cups pecans
  • 1-2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Pie Filling

  • 2-3 cups pie pumpkin
  • ~2 lbs dates
  • Ginger, thimble sized piece
  • ~168grams persimmon pulp
  • 1-2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Crust

  1. Using food processor S blade, put pecans in first, then dates and cinnamon, and pulse and blend until desired crust texture
  2. Take out the blade
  3. Press all around pie crust

Pie Filling

  1. Put pumpkin chunks and then dates, persimmon, cinnamon, ginger, and spice in vitamix, or food processor S blade
  2. Blend until completely smooth
  3. Rubber spatula into pie crust
  4. Freeze to set (about 2 hours)

4. Quinoa Medley

I’m actually obsessed with Chef AJ and The Plant Based Dietitian, Julieanna Hever.  I got to meet Chef AJ at Chicage Vegan Mania when I went with the club that I helped to create, “Be Veg at Purdue”. She made this quinoa medley at her demo and everyone was like. HOMINA. No oil? No salt?? So much flavor?!! Howw does she do it. A must make dish for every occasion.  Both Chef AJ and Julieanna Hever have the best recipes.  Definitely check them out!

Time: 25 minutes. You will need: large pot, knife, cutting board, large bowl, large spoon, measuring cups. Serves: ~20. (½ cup servings)

Ingredients:

  • 16 oz dry quinoa (about 2 ½ cups)
  • 2 cups raisins
  • 1 cup raw pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 1 pomegranate
  • 1 bunch scallion
  • ½ bunch cilantro
  • ½ bunch parsley
  • ½ – ¾ cup lime juice (about 8 limes)

Steps:

  1. Rinse quinoa and then bring to a boil in 5 cups of water. Cover and reduce heat to low and simmer until quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes. (cook to manufacture’s instructions on box)
  2. Allow quinoa to cool. Chop herbs using a food processor S blade, or by hand. Juice limes.
  3. Combine ingredients in large bowl. Serve chilled. Keeps well for about a week in the fridge.

5. Butternut Squash Brussel Sprout Stuffing

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My roommate in Texas made this twice for a project and guess who ate it all.  GUILTY (well, you know, ate most of it). It is so amazing! Food52 is a great resource for reliably bomb vegan recipes.

I hope this helps you to bring something healthy and delicious to your table. Let me know if you have any questions 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Healthy Pasta TASTE TEST + 4 Reasons Why I STILL Avoid Gluten

 

Pasta. What a delectable vehicle for vegetables!  Add your favorite beans, steamed veggies, and tomato sauce and BOOM! An impressive gourmet dinner.  While intact grains are the gold standard (grains in their whole form), whole grains, yes including their bran, germ, and endosperm, are milled into a fine flour to make whole grain pastas, breakfast cereals, and other “whole grain” products.  A few examples of legit whole intact grains would be steel cut oats, brown rice, quinoa, and millet.

wholegrains

How to tell if the product is WHOLE GRAIN?

  1. Whole grain stamp is on the package
  2. “100%” or “Whole” are used to describe it
  3. The first ingredient listed is a whole grain

refinedgrains

Refined grains are not only grains milled into a flour, but their grain was stripped of the nutrient and fiber containing bran and germ! Murder! Refined grains are white / light in color and examples include white bread, cookies, cakes, pretzels, white rice, regular pasta, and anything made with white flour. Darn!

Don’t fret too much! The recommendation is:

Make at least 1/2 of your grains whole grains.

Grains are an important part of a healthy balanced diet for fiber, iron,powerplategraphichirez magnesium, selenium, b vitamins, and lasting energy! Be sure to include them on your plate.

The Taste Test

Well before #1, my personal favorite is ZUCCHINILINI OF COURSE! Which is simply zucchini or summer squash, spirilized to look and feel like spaghetti. I like to mix it with pasta dishes to add bulk, flavor, color, and more veg of course!

#1 Nature’s Promise Whole Wheat Spaghetti: #1 in taste, texture, and nutritional profile. Contains gluten.

#2. Bionaturae Gluten Free Corn and Soy Spaghetti: Fabulous texture and taste and with 5g protein and 6% iron, this product is ok. Low in fiber :-/

#3. Jovial Gluten Free Brown Rice Spaghetti: Quite sticky texture, but great flavor and elasticity.  Would go great with a sauce. However, low in fiber although whole grain. Brown rice is naturally low in fiber.

 

#4. Ancient Harvest Gluten Free Corn and Quinoa Spaghetti: Texture dry and kinda crunchy, but a good source of fiber at 16% daily value and 10% iron!

#5. Andean Dream Quinoa Gluten Free Spaghetti: Texture was definitely a little sandy.  But I must say with 6% calcium, 12% iron, and just barely a good source of fiber at 10% daily value, not bad.

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The Consensus:

The quinoa based gluten free products have a better nutritional profile, but are not as delicious as the lower fiber rice based ones.

Why I personally still avoid Gluten?

Do I go out of my way to avoid gluten?

No.  I still enjoy it in moderation. My mom makes homemade bread and pizza with gluten which I eat occasionally.  My diet is whole foods based, so I rarely purchase packaged products that might contain gluten.

Do I eat gluten every day?

No.  Maybe I eat a gluten containing meal or snack 3-4 times a week.  I am generally healthy and do not currently feel any reason to put more effort into seriously avoiding wheat, barley, rye, and foods containing gluten 100% of the time.

Why I make this personal choice:

  1. My sister has ulcerative colitis, which is similar to celiacs in that they are both autoimmune inflammatory intestinal disorders. With a genetic risk factor in my family, I try to not over load the gluten as a personal preventative measure.
  2. Studies linking gluten and autism spectrum disorders autism-and-nutrition-1. The GFCF (gluten free casein free) diet has been shown to help people with ADHD and autism, what else could it be linked to? I am ever curious and after reading such articles have trouble stomaching gluten (and of course would never recommend drinking milk).
  3. Naturopaths recommend avoiding gluten initially when trying to avoid inflammation with an “elimination diet,” along with dairy and other common inflammatory trigger foods. With this in mind, many people have success reversing adverse symptoms like rashes, IBS, fatigue, etc (SO MANY), once they remove gluten from their diet.  I grew up with canker sores, weird rashes, and eczema so, avoiding inflammation (and gluten) is in my best interest.
  4. Close friends with celiac disease so it is easier for everybody to find a gluten free delicious option!

While as you could see from the video, a gluten free diet is not recommended for the general public because it tends to have less nutrients. Be a savvy shopper and let me know if you have any questions! Enjoy those intact whole grains and plant yums! xx

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Rainbow Ginger Citrus Zoodles | Raw, Vegan, Simple, Delicious.

The research I am doing for my graduate program is on plant foods and cancer- I am on cloud 8374378457 with all the EUREKA WHATT research that is out there!! Sulforaphane in broccoli, sweet potato protein, flavanols in cacao, cranberries, blueberries, tomatoes, the plant kingdom cures cancer!! Amazing! The best is to get organic and picked ripe because plants produce natural components called salvestrols to protect themselves from harm similarly to how the plant foods protect us.  It. Is. Unbelievable. Potent cancer killers without harming the body, truly healing it. Mind, body, spirit, immunity, vitality, sustainability ❤ Eat the rainbow, reap the success, love, beauty, and happiness *starstruck*

Rainbow Citrus Zoodles

citrus zoodles

The Noodles:

  • 4 small zucchini, spiralized
  • 2-3 medium carrots, spiralized
  • 1 small red bell pepper, sliced thin
  • 2 purple cabbage leaves, sliced thin

The Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 1/3 cup raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 cup fresh scallion
  • a quarter sized chunk of ginger
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. tahini
  1. Combine noodles in a large bowl
  2. Blend sauce ingredients in a high speed blender until smooth
  3. Drizzle over noodles, mix and devour with some people you love!

History in the Making: Dietitians of South Texas Tour Their New 100% Organic Grocery Store

In a city of McDonalds, Whataburger, Wal-Mart, obesity and diabetes, a world saving beacon of health and sustainability opens; fully equipped with the highest quality produce/products, demonstration kitchen, vitamins/herbs/supplements, beauty products, books, and, it’s love!

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Natural Grocers 100% Organic Grocery Opens March 15, 2016

Today, I had the opportunity to get a tour of the store with the Corpus Christi Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics group lead by the wonderful dietitian there, Kelsey. I was extremely impressed by this tour. A grocery store tour to dietitians? Please, as if they could learn anything more, but we all did! Like how Kelsey pointed out that the hemp seeds, walnuts, and other unstable fats are kept in the refrigerated section (polyunsaturated fats become rancid very easily, creating free radicals, so they must be kept cool). I have learned this previously but I have never seen a grocery store actually put their nuts and seeds in the refrigerator!

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The sign above us says, “100% organic produce,” yes, I am the obnoxious intern that made everybody get in front of the produce section and asked the cashier to take our picture 🙂

The Tour~

Kristen gave us all a LONG list of things that Natural Grocers will NOT carry.  Including ingredients that I am quite familiar with like GMOs (genetically modified organisms), hydrogenated oils (trans fats), bleached flours, parabens (mimic estrogen and cause reproductive disorders), dairy products from cows given rBGH (recombinant  Bovine Growth Hormone), artificial sweeteners (all of them), and artificial colors and flavors, as well as so many that I have seen before but even (a nutrition nerd grad student studying nutrition) have seen but no clue what they are!

Ingredients like DBP (dibutyl phthalate) which is a fragrance ingredient, plasticizer, and solvent that is a reproductive and developmental toxin, endocrine disruptor, and a known human respiratory toxin.  Also, BHA and BHT (Butylated Hydroxyanisole) and (Butylated Hydroxytoluene) are preservatives that have been shown to be carcinogenic and cause allergic reactions in humans.  I could go on..This place doesn’t even carry chemical based sunscreens or antibacterial soaps! Amen!

A few more reasons why I’m in love with this place:

  • No bags, you have to bring your own! (or they use a cardboard box)
  • GF (gluten free) items are all marked clearly next to price on shelf
  • Local is emphasized and marked clearly with a Texas flag on shelf
  • Lots of cheap “Health Hotline” sale items
  • Bulk specialty items from mulberries and goji berries to raw buckwheat groats
  • WIDE variety of vegan items
  • Reverse osmosis water filter, only $0.25 to refill a gallon
  • Nutrition experts- these people know their stuff!
  • To reduce waste and cut cost of items: no deli/freshly prepared items (ever wonder where all the fresh baked goods from Whole Foods goes at the end of the day? Yup, in the trash #wasteful. !
  • No self serve bulk bins but still has large packages of items in bulk – reduces contamination and food waste
  • Huge wall of shelves with high quality nutritional reference and cookbooks

They even have cool events like this Saturday they have a gluten free tasting expo and health fair! Aw chocolate avocado pie food demo, and “How to live an alkaline lifestyle” is on Monday April 11th. Check out their website for more info on events.

A little bit about my internship…

I can’t believe it, I completed my food service and community rotations last semester and am now half way through my clinical rotation! Eeek! As a snob from the Boston area who  works at a raw vegan cafe called “Organic Garden Cafe” back home, I was nervous that I wouldn’t get to learn new innovations of nutrition while working as an intern in a program that emphasizes the low income communities of South Texas.

I could not be more pleasantly surprised and excited about my feelings towards this internship right now.  It brings me such joy and power to have worked with the people of this community. Diabetics who do not know what a carbohydrate is, teen mom’s going out for a cigarette, and people who are truly afraid to lose weight because they have (and their family and friends) have always been big, so if they lost weight, what would they think!? Many of these people do not want to change, and even if they did, where to even start? As my sister, the writer, put it, “You need to learn the script before you can re-write a new one.

My clinical preceptor now, Shannon Aguilar, has helped me to not only be a much more confident clinical dietitian, but to take it a step further, too.  It is one thing to study nutrition, it is quite another to actually care enough to reflect on our own lives and practice what we preach.  My preceptor, Mrs. Aguilar, is more than a dietitian, she is also a health coach, and helped me to see how important it is to learn who our audience is before we try to help.

Seeing a grocery store like this open in Boston or Vermont would have been a, yawn. Another natural grocery? But, HERE! I get to see history in the making. These people having access to this kind of world saving expertise is dream come true for me.

There is something really cool about the idea of helping people who really need it AND want it. I could talk coconut oil and kale to the organic junkies back home all day every day, but that doesn’t reverse our obesity epidemic now does it? I may have thought that my second round match was a mistake, but actually, it was the best eye-opening and invigorating experience.  To be able to explain what a carbohydrate is to someone who has no clue? Check. Next: to reverse their disease through diet and lifestyle! No matter where I end up, I hope to make a positive impact and continue to be pleasantly surprised by all that I learn from the experience.

Butternut Soup, Three Seed Bread, and Cranberry Apple Walnut Salad with Maple Balsamic Dressing | Vegan

Mmmm ❤ Warming from the inside out. Home for Thanksgiving, and I am beyond grateful for the homemade vegan comfort food that my incredible mother makes.  She likes to follow recipes 100% first, and then tweak them here and there.
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Butternut Squash Soup

This Creamy Cashew Butternut Squash Soup recipe requires zero tweaking. Absolutely perfect. The only complaint is that it doesn’t make enough! It is SO good. Click here for recipe by Dawn Lerman.

Three Seed Bread

Bob’s Red Mill Three Seed Bread for your bread machine is SO good! You know what Dr. Fuhrman says? The whiter the bread, the closer to dead. The recipe calls for more white flour than whole wheat, but my mom switched it.  Here is the recipe she makes:

  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 Tbsp oil
  • 1 cup Unbleached White Flour
  • 2 cups Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup flaxseeds
  • 2 Tbsp sunflower kernels
  • 1 Tbsp poppy seeds
  • 2 Tsp active dry yeast

Add ingredients to bread machine in the order recommended by the bread machine manufacturer and select basic bread cycle. Let cool completely on a wire rack before slicing. Makes 1 loaf.

Maple Balsamic Dressing

This is a Jack Tar steal ❤ If you’re ever around the Boston area, I highly recommend checking it out.  Their black bean burger with no cheese and sweet potato fries is my favorite thing ever, and I literally always have that for dinner the first night back from school.  They have amazing salads and vegan thai lettuce wraps too! Soo good.

My mom uses this dressing recipe as like pizza sauce to make her gourmet vegan flatbread.  It is incredible.

  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium shallot
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 Tbsp dried basil
  • 2 cups vegetable & olive oil blend
  1. Blend first six ingredients in blender
  2. Drizzle oil slowly while blender is on
  3. Stop and blend
  4. Add salt and pepper
  5. Blend and test with lettuce or spinach

Chickpea Scramble | Oil-Free, Gluten-Free, Vegan

Happy Sunday! This scramble is savory, satisfying, easy, and CHEAP! Use produce from your farmers market ❤ Inspired by Minimalist Baker’s tofu scramble… I invite you to take this as inspiration and run with it using whatever vegan goodies are in your kitchen to create something that makes you love yourself from the inside out feeling relaxed, cozy, and grateful :-*

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Chickpea Scramble

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chickpeas (cooked from dry, no salt or fat added)
  • 1 cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 medium-small sized potato, cubed
  • 1 leaf lacinato kale, rolled up and sliced thin
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh dill
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh green onion
  • Extra love ❤

Steps:

  1. Dry chick peas triple in size when you soak them so make sure they have plenty of water and plenty of room to grow when you saturate them and soak them for about 6 hours or over night.  Drain chick peas, rinse, and boil them for about 30 minutes or until desired softness
  2. Frying pan on medium to high heat, have water handy.  Add a little water (enough so the potatoes don’t stick) and the cubed potatoes and mix to prevent sticking.  Add water as needed
  3. After the potatoes have gotten a little soft, add red bell peppers. Continue mixing and adding water if needed
  4. Add kale, scallion, and dill and mix.
  5. Measure 1 cup of chick peas and add those to the pan.
  6. Serve with 2 cups mixed greens, 1/4 avocado and plenty of lemon or lime (the vitamin C in the citrus and the red bell pepper helps absorb all the non-heme iron!! 😀 )

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Phytochemicals, Cancer, and Raw Food Vs. Cooked Food

Dr. Silvia D. Stan of Purdue University presented a very interesting lecture, “Cancer Prevention and Phytochemicals.”

After researching so much about GMOs and listening to Purdue University’s Food Toxicology expert, Dr. Huber’s talk, it is clear to me that GMOs pose a threat to the health and safety of Americans.

According to Dr. Stan’s talk, cancer is a disease of malfunctioning cells.  Tumors develop initially from normal cells and can either become benign (localized, non-invasive) or malignant (invasive, metastatic) tumors.  Benign tumors are more common as people get older and won’t be a problem unless they disrupt the function of the body.  For example, a benign tumor on the skin would most likely be harmless, but a benign tumor in the brain would start compressing the brain and have a severe effect.  Also, a benign tumor in the thyroid gland, would interfere with endocrine function causing hypothyroidism.  Malignant tumors are the definition of cancer, they can go to neighboring tissues and grow large tumors. They can start in one organ, say in the breast for example, and can metastasize, say into bone tissue (sarcoma), and spread throughout the body.

Tumors that arise from different tissues have different names.  Tumors that arise from epithelial cells (skin cells) are called carcinomas which account for 80% of tumors.  Examples of tumors that arise from non-epithelial cells could be sarcomas which is cancer of the bone, as well as leukemia, and lymphomas, which is cancer in the blood, and gliomas (brain or spine originating from glial cells), and neuroblastoma which are nervous tissue tumors as well.

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Dr. Stan discussed how according to the figure above, the estimated new cases of cancer is different than the estimated deaths caused by cancer as of 2013.  This means that there are still many issues with the effectiveness of the treatment of different types of cancer, so it is important that we learn how to prevent it.

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This slide goes over how cancer develops.  Dr. Stan explained how all cancers initially start off as normal tissue, and they develop progressively.  I am personally extremely interested in this again for learning about what dangers GMOs might bring to normal tissues, as well as how to naturally prevent and reverse cancer, possibly with a raw vegan diet rich in phytochemicals.  “As normal cells accumulate mutations, they start getting transformed into benign tumors, and as they accumulate more mutations, that tissue becomes more transformed, and it starts to proliferate.” As you can see in the image above the integrity of the cell changes.  The normal cells have a small nuclei and as cancer progression continues the nuclei becomes large and the cell divides rapidly and easily.  “Normal cells start accumulating mutations and for pancreatic cancer examples of this are K-ras patients and HER2, these are oncogenes which get mutated and then they get activated, and they lead to proliferation of cells.  As more mutations get accumulated, for example p16, p53, DPC4, BRCA2, those are examples of tumor suppressor genes that get mutated and therefore inactivated.  ‘Tumor Suppressor Genes’ keep the tumor small, so when they get inactivated the early lesion can grow faster and may lead to more advanced lesions and eventually the development of cancer and the metastasis to other organs.”  Dr. Stan explained how cancer development can take decades, which means there leaves a large window for preventive strategies or for preventive agents to be utilized to prevent the development or the progression of cancer.

Both hereditary and environmental factors can influence cancer risk.

Diet an Cancer: Things to Consider:

May Increase Cancer Risk:

  • Excessive Fat Intake
  • Excessive Calorie Intake

“It has been shown also that in rodents that caloric restriction can lead to reduced risk of developing cancer”

May Reduce Cancer Risk:

  • Dietary Fiber (adequate amounts are important for prevention of several types of cancer, such as colon cancer)
  • Micronutrients (vitamins and minerals, especially important for maintaining health status)
  • Phytochemicals (have been shown to have the potential to prevent the development of cancer)

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“There are other factors in the diet that can lead to the development of cancer, this has to do with carcinogens.  For example, high intakes of grilled meat can lead to increased risk of some cancers.  That is primarily from the compounds that get formed during grilling.

A fellow student in the class asked if these carcinogens are present on other grilled foods, such as grilled vegetables.  Dr. Stan explained, “Different compounds are formed when different macromolecules get burned.  Meats are high in protein, and obviously are going to lead to the formation of different compounds.  There are also nitrosamines in meat products, especially in processed meats, which are going to lead to the development of cancer as well.

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There are thousands and thousands of phytochemicals in fruits and vegetables.  Research is underway to determine which ones are most bioactive.

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Increased phytonutrient intake doesn’t just decrease risk of cancer, but other diseases!

“In order for a phytochemical to be effective, what do you think will need to happen?”

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Bioavailability:

“We consume different amounts of fruits and vegetables, how much of those are needed because so much is needed for a beneficial effect.  In order for these phytochemicals to work they need to be present in enough amounts in the blood.  Researchers are going to see different diets that show effect with different levels of phytochemicals.  It is important to have physiological and feasible levels to be able to make a correlation that that is going to make an effect.  So, plasma levels of phytochemicals are important for activity.”

Raw vs. Cooked Food:

“Also, how the food is processed is going to effect the amount of active compounds that work.  “Raw food vs. cooked food.”  During the metabolism and absorption some phytochemicals need to be broken in a certain way so they can be congugated, and in order to be absorbed they need the action of a certain enzyme. For example for isothiocyanates, they need an enzyme called myrosinase, which is released during chewing of the raw vegetable.  If the food is boiled, the enzyme is inactivated, so obviously that is going to effect the action of the phytochemicals.  So, the contents in the food can effect the amount of the active compound.”

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As you can see, Dr. Stan mentioned how the bioavailability and composition of phytochemicals can vary.  This made me think of organic vs. GMO as well as fruits and vegetables ripened in ethylene gas chambers as opposed to picked when ripe.  I can imagine the picked ripe, organic fruits have vegetables have more phytochemicals than GMO conventional ones.

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Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs). Shake My Head (SMH).

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The controversial pro-GMO vs. no-GMO hysteria has a lot of people talking.  Especially for us here in CornVille (aka Indiana).  Let’s talk food.  Of course it is better to increase fruit and vegetable consumption whether or not it is organic- but think you know what’s on your plate?  Inspired by my Public Health Nutrition Text, pg. 58: “Food is not a constant thing.  Vitamin content can vary… Farming techniques also change our food supply on the most basic level.  A cow fed a corn-based diet is not nutritionally the same as a cow that grazes on grass.  We may think we are comparing the proverbial apples to apples, but in reality often those apples have very different nutrient contents.”  Maybe that’s not the nourishment you think it is… let’s find out!

Apple-GMO

What are GMOs? GMO=Genetically Modified Organism.  According to Monsanto’s website, GMOs are plants or animals that have had their genetic makeup altered to exhibit traits that are not naturally theirs. In general, genes are taken (copied) from one organism that shows a desired trait and transferred into the genetic code of another organism.

GMOderp6

Hold up- what is Monsanto? According to the Huffington Post, Monsanto is one of “The Big 6” chemical companies including Dow, Dupoint, Syngenta, BASF, and Bayer.  It was founded as a drug company, and its first product was saccharin for Coca-Cola – a derivative of coal tar that was later linked to bladder cancer.  The Huffington Post describes Monsanto as a company who manufactures the world’s most destructive chemicals, and is a pioneer of biotechnology; their first product being artificial recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH), and they have sued companies for labeling their products as “rBGH-free”.

genetically-modified-foodtomatoes

Why care?  A lot of our food is genetically modified to resist bugs and grow bigger, brighter, and sweeter in all kinds of weather.  In Indiana, most farmland is GMO corn and soy.  The “big 6” companies have a lot of power here.  Our Indiana farmers need to do everything they can to maximize their profits- that means with every new chemically altered seed that comes out- they better invest if they want success.  It is brilliant what these companies have come up with, but there are some adverse outcomes worth discussing.

gmogirl

Disease and allergies- Fact is- researching health outcomes based on food consumption is difficult.  There are so many barriers and variables.  Studies have been done by the FDA and the CDC that did show allergy and inflammatory responses from people who consumed genetically modified corn products, but they concluded, “These findings do not provide any evidence that the reactions that the affected people experienced were associated with hypersensitivity to the Cry9c protein (a protein genetically modified into the corn). The difficulties of this investigation highlight the importance of evaluating the allergic potential of genetically modified foods before they become available for human consumption.”  Funny thing is about this conclusion, we eat GMOs all the time, and nobody evaluates their allergic potential.  All the evaluations I could find end in questionable conclusions like this.  Nobody even lets you know your food was messed with.  And I won’t go into the science- but you are what you eat, and if you mess with the genes of your food, the potential for mutated genes certainly increases.  #cancer.

80-percent-gmos

Other Countries, Education, and The Environment:  GMOs are required by law to be labeled in lots of countries including Europe, Australia, and Japan.  Why not America?  Is there something they’re not telling us? Why would they not want something labeled GMO if they are so safe?  GMOs are in almost every packaged food- it’s about time us ignorant Americans actually knew what we were eating.  Might I add the disruption to the soil, and the superbug insects that these technologies could be creating?

top_ten_genetically_modified_foods

How to avoid GMOs?

  1. Buy USDA Organic certified food and food products
  2. Look for Non-GMO seals.
  3. Grow your own food
  4. Avoid risk ingredients that are commonly genetically modified:
  • corn (as in corn oil, cornmeal, cornstarch, and other corn based ingredients
  • soybeans (as in soybean oil, soy protein, soy lecithin, soy milk, tofu, and other soy-based ingredients)
  • canola (canola oil), cottonseed (cottonseed oil), sugar beets (the “sugar” listed on food labels is almost always derived from sugar cane and genetically modified sugar beets)
  • most Hawaiian papaya
  • some zucchini and yellow squash
  • and beware of dairy products, which may come from cows injected with genetically modified bovine growth hormone, and meats from animals (including farmed fish) that have been fed genetically modified foods.  Look for dairy products labeled No rBGH or rBST, artificial hormone-free, or organic; wild-caught fish; and meat labeled organic or 100% grass-fed.

cowgmono

This was a hard article for me to write, because I know and love a lot of people in the ag business.  They are kind, whole hearted people, and truly do want the best for the world.  I came to Indiana to see their side of the story.  However, as a dietetics student, it is up to me to educate about exposures to various foods, and the possible outcomes.  There is a difference between a farmer, and a global chemical corporation.  Let’s do what we can.  We can talk to our food providers and parents about starting to grow our own food and consume more local, organic food.  We are the promising future.  Not a science experiment.