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.


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


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.


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



The Baked Ziti That Will Change Your Life | Vegan, Cheap, Meat Eater Approved

2016-08-08 05.18.40 1

Last week I had the incredible opportunity to travel to Washington DC for a plant based dietitian job interview at the Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine.  They had me stay at their guest house, The Baker House, with interns who are occupants there for the summer.  If you haven’t already heard of the PCRM, it is an organization whose mission is ultimately to provide evidence based expertise to save the world. You can imagine how nervous/excited this wanna-be superhero was for this interview!!!

Back to the ziti- The ladies residing at The Baker House, Sofie and Catherine, are two brilliant, friendly, open minded vegans that became my close friends insanely quickly.  Catherine has made this dish a bunch of times and raved how it is always a win. Girl- you got that right!  Pool money to make dinner and eat it together!? Of course!!! Which lead me to enjoy the dish that I am sure will get anyone to give more vegan meals a try. Thank you ladies!

2016-08-03 10.33.54 1

Baked Ziti That Will Change Your Life

Adapted from One Green Planet’s Recipe

Ingredients (total cost at Whole Foods: $21)

  • 1 lb ziti pasta
  • 1 24oz jar marinara sauce (we used an organic fat-free option plus some that was already open in the fridge)
  • 1 1/2 cups vegan mozzarella shreds (we used 1 bag of daiya shredded mozzarella)
  • 1 lb firm tofu, drained
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast or vegan grated parmesan
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup vegan cream cheese (we used 1/2 of a container of tofutti)


  1. Boil water and cook ziti to manufacturer’s instructions and preheat oven to 425*F
  2. For ‘ricotta’: crumble tofu in a large bowl and add in nutritional yeast (or parmesan), salt, pepper, oregano, garlic powder, and cream cheese. Mix fully with a fork or large spoon.
  3. Mix the cooked pasta, most of the marinara sauce, and ricotta in a large bowl
  4. In a large baking pan, add some marinara to line the bottom, transfer the mixture in, and spread it out evenly.
  5. Top with the rest of the marinara and finally the layer of mozzarella shreds
  6. Cover the dish with foil and bake ~20 minutes, uncover, and cook for another 5-10 minutes.
  7. Eat with a side of greens and those people who actually get you and still like you! 😉 xo
Processed with VSCO with g3 preset
Catherine, Sofie, and I eating takeout from ‘Hip City Veg’ on the Smithsonian Steps




What I Ate Less Than $4 / Meal Nutrient Breakdown

Save money and eat a healthy diet? Easy!

Click here to watch video
Click here to watch video

Saving money on a vegan diet is simple, as long as you’re willing to eat simply, haha. Every day is different and variety and adequate hydration are important. It doesn’t matter what I eat, what matters is what you eat and what makes you feel good. Just because I eat this way doesn’t mean you have to to be healthy. (I happened to get 3 boxes of bananas for free and feel great eating them!) The nutrient breakdown of this day will be on my blog to see what vitamins and minerals are lacking. I recommend that you log your food every so often to see what vitamins and minerals you might be low in so that you can research what foods contain those nutrients and begin incorporating more of those foods in your balanced vegan diet.

Today, I am definitely vegan for the animals after seeing a cute kitty smeared on the side of the road. Hope he didn’t know what hit him, unlike all the mass produced animals for food these days. I hate to be a vegan pusher, but I really can’t stand to see people supporting that business, it breaks my heart.

According to I color coded green = good, yellow=warning to look out for, and red = do something about this! warning: these recommended values are based on a 2200 calorie diet and I wasn’t that hungry today so I only ate 2045 calories.  I am sure I would have met pretty much everything based on a 2000 calorie recommendation. Had I eaten more calories – I would have had higher numbers. Kapeesh!?

Screen shot 2015-09-07 at 10.22.06 PM

Vegans should consider B12 supplementation or be sure to eat fortified products like plant milks, nutritional yeast, or cereals. Also, spending 10-15 minutes in the sun for fair-skinned individuals provides plenty of vitamin D.
Vegans should consider B12 supplementation or be sure to eat fortified products like plant milks, nutritional yeast, or cereals. Also, spending 10-15 minutes in the sun for fair-skinned individuals provides plenty of vitamin D.


Vitamin B12: I take a supplement and normally like to drink fortified hemp milk that has B12 in it (I ran out).

Vitamin D: Sunshine baby! I spend at least 30 minutes in the sun everyday exercising, or just sitting, haha 🙂


% Protein: This is up for debate considering I clearly consumed plenty of protein.  I am only 1% low as well, 10% is recommended and I ate 9% of my diet from protein.  Should have eaten a few more lentils, huh!

% Carbohydrate and % Total Fat: Clearly I ate a high carb diet today.  I feel good and energized eating mostly carbs and have noticed though documenting food in the past that a higher fat percentage for me makes me sleepy.  I used to enjoy peanut butter sandwiches and handfuls of nuts but I honestly noticed they slowed me down a lot, both in my digestive tract and just throughout my day.  So, this is a personal thing, but just shows it wouldn’t hurt me to consume less calories from carbohydrates and more from fat.

Linoleic Acid: This is a very important essential fatty acid that is necessary for formation of hormones, brain function, and cell membrane stability.  It is great for me to see how my high carb diet is effecting my intake of essential fatty acids.  Looks like I need my hemp milk!

Calcium: Also a little up for debate, it has been questioned whether clean eating vegans really need that much calcium since fruits and vegetables have been shown to increase the absorption and utilization of calcium. However, this tells me I could stand to of course eat my fortified hemp milk that I love (the chocolate version is SO GOOD!), as well as more okra, figs, broccoli, almonds, collards, and kale in my diet to get some more calcium.  Calcium is in lots of plant foods, even oranges!

Iron: I was a little low in iron today, 16/18mg. Lentils and greens and beans are great sources of iron.  This worries me a little because plant based iron (non-heme iron) is less readily absorbed than iron from animal products (heme iron). To absorb it better, it is necessary to combine it with a source of vitamin C like red bell peppers, lemon juice, oranges or tomatoes.  Last time I got my blood checked I had more iron than my doctor, so I am not too concerned about it.

Selenium: a little low 46/55. I like to eat brown rice which is a decent source for me, (1 cup has 19 micro grams) also brazil nuts are high in selenium and I like to eat a couple of those once in a while when I get a few from the bulk section at Sprouts.

Vitamin E: This should definitely be higher.  I usually eat more greens, (5 cups of spinach has 6mg vitamin E) I am running low so I am trying to make my last bunch last me for the next two days.  Greens are a great source of the essential cell membrane saving fat soluble vitamin antioxidant vitamin E! I could stand to eat a few more sunflower seeds and almonds too.  Even fruit has vitamin E, 1 ripe mango has 2mg.

Choline: Pinto beans (which I have been loving lately) are high in choline, as well as soy products like soy milk and tempeh, also quinoa, broccoli, and green peas, even oranges, bananas and dates have choline.  I should try some tempeh next week to get some variety 🙂

There you have it! Hope this helps, and I hope you do the same once in a while to make sure you are on track! Not to get obsessive! I don’t record what I eat everyday! Very rarely do I actually measure out my food unless I am doing something like this.  There are lots of sites out there these days, I use because that is the USDA’s website affiliated with RDs. I like and and as well. Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you.

4 tips to avoid the freshman 15 & 10 ways to eat enough fruit and vegetables


Click here to watch 4 tips to avoid weight gain and just stay HEALTHY in college
Click here to watch 4 tips to avoid weight gain and just stay HEALTHY in college

Happy August!  The fall semester is coming up faster than you think.  Before I went to college, I was nervous about gaining weight and not being able to eat healthily.  Studies show that 60.9% of college students gain on average 7.5lbs their freshman year.

1. Exercise

  • Get a group fitness schedule.  Group fitness classes offer all kinds of workouts from interval sculpt, to yoga, to Zumba and beyond.  It is also a great way to meet like minded people.
  • Get it done in the morning.  By the end of the day, the workout is likely to not happen.  Let the workout energize you and get you ready and fresh to focus the rest of the day.
  • Sneak it in.  Try a 2-minute wall-sit while brushing your teeth, walking an extra block or taking the stairs.

2. Eat Enough Fruits and Vegetables

An even scarier statistic than average college weight gain? 94% of undergraduate students don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables. 

Screen shot 2015-07-28 at 10.30.53 PM

Here’s 10 ways to get enough in!

  1. Get a to-go blender so you can make green smoothies in your dorm room
  2. Steal as much fruit as you can from the dining halls
  3. Always have dried or fresh fruit in your backpack for a snack
  4. Whenever you eat a bowl of cereal or oatmeal, put a little bit of fruit on top
  5. Carrots, red bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, celery are great snacks to take on the go maybe with some hummus or peanut butter
  6. When making sandwiches in the dining halls, make sure to stuff them with lots of vegetables
  7. Try salad as a main dish, pile it high, and load it up!
  8. When you go to to the pizza or pasta bar in the dining hall, ask for light on the meat and cheese and PLENTY of vegetables
  9. Choose the vegetarian option at the hot bar
  10. Include a green salad with your dinner every night

3. Late Night Decisions

  • When we get stressed, we reach for high fat, high sugar, salty foods.  Avoid keeping a lot of junk food in the dorm room.
  • Purchase portioned out peanut butter or nutella packets to avoid overeating it
  • Keep healthier snacks like fat free granola, fat free popcorn, rice cakes
  • Try a brownie cliff bar instead of a brownie
  • Chocolate soy milk is a great dessert!
  • Keep alcoholic beverages to a minimum: 1 drink for women and 2 drinks for men per day is recommended

4. Be Careful Who Your Friends Are

  • Friends can pressure you to drink or eat more
  • Friends can judge you for eating healthily
  • Surround yourself with people who will encourage and support you to accomplish your goals

Click here to watch the video

Texas A&M University in Kingsville- My New Home

From Purdue to green Vermont:

Mamanmevt (1)

to working at the Organic Garden Cafe in Massachusetts:


to yoga on the edge of the North Shore:


To Paoli to Pcutie and Kyle gettin’ hitched!


Congrats P Cutie and Kyle <3 !!!
Congrats Pcutie and Kyle!!!

to the Red River Gorge in Kentucky:


to Chi City climbin’ and eatin pizza and burgerz:

Whole Foods multigrain crust with Vegan Cheese, loaded her up with our fixin's from the salad bar
Whole Foods multigrain crust with Vegan Cheese, loaded her up with our fixin’s from the salad bar
100% Vegan Native Food’s Chicken Bacon Avocado Club and Chili Cheese Fries

to lots of hope in Hope, Arkansas


Finally to my new home:


Doesn’t it look like paradise? Texas is another country!  Palm trees and massive flat nothingness, random watermelon stands and banana trees.


Class began on Monday, July 6th.  There was lots of review, but what I got out of it most was the negative vibe of what working in the hospital as a dietitian is like.  The professor made it clear that a hospital is not where you can take the time to cure a person completely, it is where you get them well enough quick enough to leave as soon as possible.  It was made clear that the hospital food is awful, and that no matter what condition a person has, whether cancer or colitis, they all have to get the same hospital food, just modified in different ways.  He also made it clear that it is all corruption because the longer kidney patients need to go to a dialysis center like Devita, the more money Devita will make.

Bottom line: Hospitals are a business, and sick people make that business happen.

I could feel the frustration spewing from my grad professor with every detail he said about his experiences.  You just don’t have enough time to talk to all of the patients.  So sad.

I was personally most frustrated to hear that a lot of patients think the food sucks so they won’t eat.  Not only do they think the food sucks, but the food isn’t being prepared by dietitians, it is being prepared by average Joe’s who don’t really know what the different patients need.

Maybe in the future, they will have Raw Vegan Chef, RD’s working in the hospital kitchens 🙂

For now, I am so excited to make a difference in the Kingsville/ Corpus Christi area, and it is fun making new friends and adventuring to new places.

tx4Click here to see my 4th of July experience!

Cheers to adventuring! xx

Enjoy and Control Your Health: Introducing My Mindful Eating Video!

….Whoever said you needed to give up ____ to be healthy, never heard of mindful eating.  Whether trying to lose weight, combat cravings, or simply enjoy food even more, the benefits to mindful eating are endless.

Learn to Stop Mindless Eating

As a senior studying dietetics who has learned the hard way that taking the stress out on my food never helps the way I want it to, I am beyond excited to share this short video that I put together for my Nutrition Communications class so you can start achieving your life-long health goals with mindful eating.

Anna (left) and Katie ((me!) right) dive deep into statistics and research
Anna (left) and Katie ((me!) right) dive deep into statistics and research

Find Out: What Is Mindful Eating?

Pause, take a deep breath, and flex your savor muscle.  Just like any skill, it takes practice to get good at it.  It is asking yourself, what does the food look like?  Where did it come from? Why am I eating it? What does it smell like…sound like…feel like? Do I like it?  What do I like about it?  How does it feel when I chew it?  Is it crunchy? Moist? Hot?

Get Advice From An Expert

Registered Dietitian Rachel Clark of Purdue University discusses what mindful eating is, how it has benefitted her clients, and how to get started eating more mindfully.
Registered Dietitian Rachel Clark of Purdue University discusses what mindful eating is, how it has benefitted her clients, and how to get started eating more mindfully.

I incorporated knowledge from the professor who initially taught me about mindful eating, Rachel Clark, MS, RD, CSST into the video.  She taught me how mindful eating is about eating without distractions or negative judgement, and enjoying the foods you like with acceptance.

Will it be effective for you?

Learn how to recognize triggers for eating. Just taking a second to take a deep breath and rationalize emotions can help to take just one candy bar and savor it- instead of 5 and still wanting more.
Learn how to recognize triggers for eating. Just taking a second to take a deep breath and rationalize emotions can help to take just one candy bar and savor it- instead of 5 and still wanting more.

Would you believe that people actually make healthier choices and have effortless weight loss when they eat whatever they want whenever they want, mindfully?

At least once a day, practice mindful eating.

This means stop, and do nothing, but eat.  Yes, turn off the t.v., close the laptop, and take even just 5 minutes to enjoy it.  Pay attention and appreciate its taste and texture, and be grateful for the food and where it came from.

To Watch The Video: Click HERE

Adoption of Vegan Diet in Early Childhood

NUTR 360/490: Life Cycle Nutrition

Spring 2014

Project 1: Keeping Current to Provide Guidance

            With the ever-changing culture of Americans- trying to “go green” and get healthy, vegetarianism and veganism are becoming more and more prevalent. It is necessary for us, the nutrition professionals; to ensure all ages of the population at all stages of life meet dietary reference intakes. The issue is whether or not eliminating animal products from growing children’s diets is beneficial or harmful. From the research that I have conducted, it appears that a child brought up on a vegan diet can meet recommendations and grow healthily with the use of supplements and fortified foods to meet nutrient needs. Although I will also be pointing out what research has shown about the effects of a plant based diet later in life, the population group that I focus on is from pre-conception until puberty, of all ethnicities, economic statuses, and regions. More research should be conducted on the growth rates of vegan babies in comparison to omnivorous children; as well as the bioavailability of different sources of certain nutrients.

There have been studies in the past relating to vegan children having lower growth rates than omnivore children as well as press about vegan babies dying from malnourishment. In 1982, a study was done in a vegan religious community. Twenty-five infants of this community who were seen at the hospital showed evidence of protein-calorie malnutrition, iron and vitamin B12-deficient anemia, rickets, zinc deficiency, and multiple recurrent infections. Evidence of growth retardation was also found in 47 infants seen at the local mother-child health clinic1. It is clear from an anthropometric and dietary assessment of the nutritional status of vegan preschool children2 that deficiencies may occur on macrobiotic diets (more strict vegan diet often not including fortified foods) if the use of fortified foods is prohibited, macrobiotic children may suffer deficiencies of vitamin B12 and vitamin D. However, the article concludes that studies of growth and development of vegetarian children show that when vegetarian children are fed well-balanced diets that follow appropriate guidelines, they grow well. Often, their diets come closer to recommendations by nutrition experts.2 Health parameters in well-nourished vegetarian children may be closer to optimal than children following more standard American patterns.2 In 2002, a vegan couple from New Zealand was accused of child abuse after ‘failing to provide the necessities of life’ for their six-month-old child. Their son died of medical complications due to vitamin B12 deficiency after the parents left the hospital against medical advice to treat their son with herbal remedies. Second Opinions. Vegan Child Abuse.3  Also in 2005, despite the significant available literature on the potential risks of alternate diets, strict vegan parents were taken to court and charged with neglect after one of their children died of malnutrition. 4 My findings may make it seem like a vegetarian or vegan diet in early childhood is a bad idea. However, these studies are based on vegans who have very low calorie or very limited diets. Also, growth charts vary- especially comparing breast-fed infants to bottle-fed babies. Most vegan parents begin with breast-feeding. Growth charts based on formula-fed infants may make it seem that breastfed infants are not growing well because formula-fed infants grow faster than breastfed infants do.5 More research needs to be conducted on comparisons of adaptation of a vegan diet in early childhood comparing standard American diets with well-planned vegan diets. I could not find any recent studies that show that vegan children can have growth rates, which do not differ from those of omnivorous children of the same age. An area of concern for vegans is getting adequate amounts of vitamin B12. One study 6, examined the role of maternal vitamin B12 on fetal growth. Vitamin B12 is the only vitamin that is only bioavailable through consumption of animal products and supplements (the vegan supplements are made by the B12-producing bacteria, not animal products.)7 It is still confusing to me why fermented foods like miso and kombucha that contain the bacteria that B12 grow from, and have B12 on their nutrition labels, are not considered a bioavailable source of B12 given that the claim this article makes is that they do not contain the active forms of the vitamin. Another suggestion for a recommendation for the future would be to study bioavailability further and have that coincide with what is written on nutrition labels. Low maternal vitamin B12 status and protein intake are associated with increased risk of neural tube defects, low lean mass and excess adiposity, increased insulin resistance, impaired neurodevelopment and altered risk of cancer in the offspring.8 We can conclude that B12 supplementation is necessary for a healthy baby and adaptation of a vegan diet early in childhood. Although there is need for supplementation, vegetarian diets often contain more fruits, vegetables, and fiber, with less fat and cholesterol, and people who consume them are likely to have reduced risk of chronic disease, weight gain, and weight related illnesses.9 With this in mind, it is necessary that recommendations provide information about healthy vegetarian diets to further promote foods that need to be increased to increase overall health. It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the lifecycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, child- hood, and adolescence, and for athletes.10

In trying to find a natural cure, beneficial effects of fasting followed by a vegetarian diet in rheumatoid arthritis are confirmed by randomized controlled trials.11 The anti-inflammatory, antioxidant rich benefits of vegetarian and vegan diets may not only be able to prevent chronic disease and weight gain for children later in life, but they can even reverse and lessen the symptoms of these chronic diseases for older adults who already have them if they switch to a more plant based diet.

Vegetarian and vegan diets are appropriate for people of all ages and all stages in life, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescents, and for athletes.16              

References Cited:

  1. Shinwell, ED, and R. Gorodischer. “Totally Vegetarian Diets and Infant Nutrition.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, Oct. 1982. Web. 01 Feb. 2014. <;.
  2. Mangels, Reed, PhD, RD, LDN, FADA, and Julia Driggers, RD, CNSC, LDN. “The Youngest Vegetarians- Vegetarian Infants and Toddlers.” ICAN: Infant, Child & Adolescent Nutrition, 28 Nov. 2012. Web. 30 Jan. 2014. <;.
  3. Groves, Barry, PhD, RD, FADA. “Child Abuse by Vegan Parents.” Child Abuse by Vegan Parents. Second Opinions, 9 June 2002. Web. 30 Jan. 2014. <;.
  4. Grinberg, Emanuella. “Child Abuse by Vegan Parents.” Child Abuse by Vegan Parents. Court TV Online, 18 Oct. 2005. Web. 30 Jan. 2014. <;.
  5. Mangels, Reed, PhD, RD, FADA. “Feeding Vegan Kids.” — The Vegetarian Resource Group. The Vegetarian Resource Group, 2 May 2013. Web. 01 Feb. 2014. <;.
  6. Rush, EC, P. Katre, and CS Yajnik. “Vitamin B12: One carbon metabolism, fetal growth and programming for chronic disease.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 13 Nov. 2013. Web. 31 Jan. 2014. <;.
  7. Board of Trustees at the University of Illinois. “Vitamin B12: What Vegans Need to Know.” – McKinley Health Center. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2008. Web. 02 Feb. 2014. <;.
  8. Rush, EC, P. Katre, and CS Yajnik. “Vitamin B12: One carbon metabolism, fetal growth and programming for chronic disease.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 13 Nov. 2013. Web. 31 Jan. 2014. <;.
  9. RD Resources for Consumers. “Vegan Nutrition for School-Age Children.” Eat Right. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, July 2010. Web. 30 Jan. 2014. <;.

10. “Balancing a Healthy Vegetarian Diet.” Student Health. Student Health Services UC San Diego, 2007. Web. 2 Feb. 2014. <;.

  1. Michalsen, Li C A. “Fasting Therapy For Treating and Preventing Disease- Current State of Evidence.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 16 Dec. 2013. Web. 01 Feb. 2014. <;.

15. King, Debbie, MS, RD, LD. “Raising Vegetarian Infants.” Vegetarian Nutrition. Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 16 Oct. 2013. Web. 20 Feb. 2014. <;.

16. Craig, W. J., and A. R. Mangles. “Position of the American Dietetic Association: Vegetarian Diets.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, July 2009. Web. 26 Feb. 2014. <;.

17. Mangles, Reed, PhD, RD, FADA. “Pregnancy and the Vegan Diet.” VRG Health, Environment, Ethics. The Vegetarian Resource Group, 2005. Web. 26 Feb. 2014. <;.

List of Articles for Step 1B:

12. Rush, EC, P. Katre, and CS Yajnik. “Vitamin B12: One Carbon Metabolism, Fetal Growth and Programming for Chronic Disease.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 14 Nov. 2013. Web. 02 Feb. 2014. <;.

13. Turner-McGrievy, Gabrielle M., PhD, MS, RD, Sarah B. Hales, MSW, and Angela C. Baum, PhD. “Transitioning to New Child-Care Nutrition Policies: Nutrient Content of Preschool Menus Differs by Presence of Vegetarian Main Entree.” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 19 Oct. 2013. Web. 13 Feb. 2014. <;.

  1. Mangels, Reed, PhD, RD, LDN, FADA, and Julia Driggers, RD, CNSC, LDN. “The Youngest Vegetarians- Vegetarian Infants and Toddlers.” ICAN: Infant, Child & Adolescent Nutrition, 28 Nov. 2012. Web. 30 Jan. 2014. <;.

    This section will be turned in for review separately, then corrected for inclusion in the final project with the list of articles becoming the References Cited section of Step 1B.

B: Review of the Literature
(insert text here as described page 3)

            According to research so far, vegetarian diet patterns are likely to cause good health and if recommendations are met using supplements or animal products, it is possible to raise healthy vegetarian and vegan children. These three articles go over vegetarian diet recommendations and the necessity for nutrients found in animal products or supplements early in life. The first article, “Vitamin B12: one carbon metabolism, fetal growth, and programming for chronic disease,” goes into the necessity of vitamin B12 in the diet. The other two articles, “Transitioning to New Child-Care Nutrition…” and “The Youngest Vegetarians; Vegetarian Infants and Toddlers,” go more in depth about the plant-based nutrition. The “Transitioning…” article suggests how vegetarian diets provide optimal nutrient content while “The Youngest Vegetarians..” describes nutrient recommendations for meeting the needs of vegetarian infants at different stages of growth. The articles show that it is possible to raise a vegetarian or vegan child healthily. However, there isn’t much recent research with data that proves that vegan children meet the same height and growth averages as vegetarian or omnivorous children; there are only alternate suggestions of obtaining nutrients. Also, these alternate suggestions of obtaining nutrients are from supplements- there isn’t much research out there on the bioavailability of various plant super foods and fermented foods that could potentially be used for vegans. As benefits of plant-based diets are becoming better known, more research should be done on the topic.

            The article, “Vitamin B12: one carbon metabolism, fetal growth, and programming for chronic disease,” is a selective literature retrospective cohort review article that goes into how vitamin B12 is not only important for growth and development of the infant, but maternal vitamin B12 is also very important. The purpose of the study was to examine the possible role of maternal vitamin B12 on fetal growth and its programming for susceptibility to chronic disease. Research was reviewed using human and animal studies particularly in the context of a vegetarian diet that may be low in B12. “Low maternal vitamin B12 status is associated with a slew of problems for the baby.”12 The review points out that vegan diets are often low in protein and vitamin B12 and high in carbohydrate- suggesting a necessity for supplementation.

The second research article, “Transitioning to New Child-Care Nutrition Policies” was an observational study with the goal to examine changes that occurred at a large, child-care center during the implementation of new nutrition standards. These changes observed were those in the nutrition content of menus before and after implementation of the new standards, as well as the influence of vegetarian meals on the nutrient content of menus. Also, parent opinions and support for these changes were examined as well as parent support for adding more vegetarian entrees. took place at a large, university-based child-care center serving 200 children at 6 weeks and older in Columbia, SC between June and December 2012. This observational study involved a survey to parents and analysis of nutrient changes of menus before and after the nutrition policy change. The study concluded “adding more vegetarian menu items improve the nutrient content of menus while keeping energy intake, saturated fat, sodium, and cholesterol levels at a more optimum level.”2 Also, there is high parent support for meeting nutrition needs by adding more vegetarian menu items. 13

The third article, “The Youngest Vegetarians”, was designed to examine key nutritional issues for the youngest vegetarians, from birth to 2 years; which is the time period of rapid growth when nutrient needs are high. It includes recommendations and research from credible sources in a collective manner that shows clearly the nutritional needs of infants at this age and how these needs are best met without the use of animal products.

            There is still little research following the growth of vegan children whose nutrient needs are definitely met. Still, the combination of these articles shows that babies can grow and develop normally if they are given a well balanced vegan or vegetarian diet. There would be less confusion if more available primary prevention tools were available describing how to prevent malnutrition in vegetarian or vegan babies. The articles did a good job showing scientific evidence of the need for supplements and what nutrients to increase, as well as a growing interest in plant based diets. Healthy vegetarian and vegan diets may benefit the high prevalence of chronic disease in America. However, more research needs to be conducted on how early in life adopting a plant-based diet will be beneficial.

References Cited:

1. Rush, EC, P. Katre, and CS Yajnik. “Vitamin B12: One Carbon Metabolism, Fetal Growth and Programming for Chronic Disease.” National Center for Biotechnology Information. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 14 Nov. 2013. Web. 02 Feb. 2014. <;.

2. Turner-McGrievy, Gabrielle M., PhD, MS, RD, Sarah B. Hales, MSW, and Angela C. Baum, PhD. “Transitioning to New Child-Care Nutrition Policies: Nutrient Content of Preschool Menus Differs by Presence of Vegetarian Main Entree.” Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 19 Oct. 2013. Web. 13 Feb. 2014. <;.

  1. Mangels, Reed, PhD, RD, LDN, FADA, and Julia Driggers, RD, CNSC, LDN. “The Youngest Vegetarians- Vegetarian Infants and Toddlers.” ICAN: Infant, Child & Adolescent Nutrition, 28 Nov. 2012. Web. 30 Jan. 2014. <;.

C: Credible Sources of Information for Populations Affected

#1 – Title: Raising Vegetarian Infants


Date: October 16, 2013

Sponsor/Author: Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Information provided:

            This pdf file shows how to raise a vegetarian baby, what foods a mother can feed a vegan baby, and how to make sure that a vegan or vegetarian baby is healthy. This is a primary prevention paper educating the public about how babies can grow and develop normally if they are given a well-balanced vegetarian diet. The pamphlet even provides a sample menu for an 11-month old vegan infant, as well as a table of dietary reference intakes for key nutrients for infants.


            This information is all quite credible since it comes from a reputable source. It also provides some easy to understand guidance and recommendations. However, it is not easily accessible, and the majority of mothers out there might not understand how to meet the dietary reference intakes.


#2 – Title: Pregnancy and the Vegan Diet


Date: 1999

Sponsor/Author: The Vegetarian Resource Group

Information provided:

            This webpage goes in depth about nutrient needs for a pregnant women. It educates about weight gain, nutrients of concern, and how to obtain nutrients and have a healthy pregnancy with a vegan diet.


            This article is taken from a book written in 2005, so it is quite outdated. However, the more recent “Raising Vegetarian Infants” from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, uses this article as a reference. If such a credible source as the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is still using this outdated information for its own articles, I think it is safe to say that it is still credible.


#3 – Title: Vegetarian Diets For Pregnancy


Date: Feb 2005

Sponsor/Author: Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

Information provided:

            This article provides charts to help a pregnant women plan balanced vegan meals. It goes over guidelines for good health during pregnancy, with menu ideas, breast-feeding information, as well as all of the nutrients of concern during pregnancy and how to meet those needs.


            The sponsor, “Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine” seems quite credible. However, this article (as is every other article I could find on this subject) is quite outdated. I do think it has good information, but new research should be done and new guidelines should be made accordingly.


D: Providing Guidance – Option # 2


A questionable health conscious mother might ask this question. Parents want to do whatever they can to provide the most quality care to their children. If there is evidence out there that a vegan or vegetarian diet will help their child be healthy in the long run, they will do what they can to provide that for them.


  1. Are there any notable benefits to raising a child vegetarian or vegan?


            It is clear that later in life, well-balanced vegan and vegetarian diets may not only prevent, but help to reverse the chronic diseases are a problem in America.13 More studies definitely need to done to provide current advice on whether or not vegetarian and vegan children have normal growth patterns during their most rapid stages of growth.14 Increased phytonutrients, fiber, and antioxidants of concern do appear to be beneficial during pregnancy and child birth, helping them go smoothly as well as decreased incidences of preeclampsia and gestational diabetes in vegetarian and vegan mothers. 2 One can conclude that a vegan pregnancy and a baby-raised vegan can be healthy, but it is still unknown whether or not this baby is necessarily healthier than omnivorous babies. However, vegan mothers are much more concerned about meeting their nutritional needs than omnivorous mothers, so often the help and guidance ends up making them meeting their nutrient needs better than omnivorous mothers who wouldn’t look to intensely at their diet pattern.1


A vegan or humane mother who is considering how to meet her needs without the use of animal products would ask this question. She is looking for what nutrients are of extra concern if she isn’t consuming animal products during her pregnancy and how those needs might be met. If the information is easily accessible and sounds easy to accomplish, she is likely to go forth with trying a plant-based pregnancy and upbringing.


  1. What are the nutrients of concern for vegan babies and mothers, and how should those nutrient needs met?


            It is still recommended that the first food babies consume is breast milk. 15 Vegan mothers need to consider their nutrient intake prior to conception. “Low maternal vitamin B12 status and protein intake are associated with increased risk of neural tube defect, low lean mass and excess adiposity, increased insulin resistance, impaired neurodevelopment, and altered risk of cancer in the offspring.” 1 “Breast milk levels of vitamin B12 have been postulated to be proportional to maternal dietary intake rather than maternal vitamin B12 stores.”2 Key nutrients of concern are protein, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin B12, calcium, iron, and zinc. After 4-6 months, or when babies begin to show that they are ready for solid foods, the first solid food for vegan infants should be baby cereal fortified with iron and zinc, mixed with breast milk. It should be thin in the beginning of introduction, made thicker over time. As cereal is accepted, one new food can be started every 3-4 days. When baby is 7-8 months old, or is ready, add foods like well-cooked and mashed or pureed dried beans, mashed tofu, and soy yogurt. A mix of iron and zinc fortified infant cereal, breast milk, whole grains, soy and soy products, as well as other beans and legumes, vegetables, and fruits in the diet, prepared in a fashion that is easily digested by the infant (chopped, steamed, mashed, pureed, etc) would meet the needs of a typical 11-month old vegan infant. 14


A vegan woman who would like to have a child in the near future who is concerned about her nutrient status would ask this. It is good that she is aware of the concerns about nutrient stores prior to pregnancy, and she is preparing to take action in the right direction to seek advice to ensure her child will not be malnourished.


  1. What supplements should I start taking to ensure I have my nutrient needs met prior to, and throughout my pregnancy?


            Before thinking about individual nutrients, it is important to know how much weight the mother will need to gain and how many calories to take in throughout her pregnancy. This can be figured out by using the pre-pregnant BMI. If the potential mother is underweight, she will have to gain 28-30 pounds, whereas an obese potential mother, will be recommended to gain 11-20 pounds.17  Fortified beverages and cereals may provide the necessary vitamin B12 prior to pregnancy. It would be a good idea to have blood tested for levels of iron to ensure there is no iron deficiency anemia prior to pregnancy. Iron supplements during pregnancy are commonly recommended along with iron-rich foods because iron needs increase. Vitamin B12 definitely needs to be supplemented because as far as research shows now, there is no plant food that produces naturally bioavailable vitamin B12. Levels of protein, calcium, vitamin D, folate, DHA, and iodine in the diet should also be checked prior to supplementing, and work with a professional to get supplements necessary or to change your dietary habits to meet your needs better.6

Kale Quinoa Marinara

Staying in the elegant Purdue Pride home of the McKinney’s, I had the honor to make my kappa sistah Caroline a delicious dinner, dietetics student approved!


Kale Quinoa Marinara
Serves 2-3.
Takes 15 minutes
Here’s what you’re going to need:

8oz quinoa (I used an 8oz bag of Simply Balanced rainbow quinoa)
1 bunch curly kale
1 avocado
4 tomatoes
1 cup sun dried tomatoes (I used a 3.5 oz bag of Bella Sun Luci Halves)
4-5 garlic cloves (depending on size and preference)
2-3 tbs Italian seasoning (we didn’t have Italian so I used dried basil, thyme, rosemary, dill, and cilantro)
2/3 of a medium-large onion
9 pitted dates

1. Rinse quinoa.  Boil 1 3/4 – 2 cups of water to make quinoa. Once water is brought to a boil, pour in rinsed quinoa and turn down heat to medium. Let quinoa soak in all the water as it cooks. Takes about 10 minutes.
2. While that’s cooking, soak your sun dried tomatoes and dates by saturating them in warm water for about 5-10 minutes.
3. Put 3 of the 4 tomatoes in a high speed blender, chop the 4th tomato to add to the top of the dish later.  Add garlic, seasoning, onion, and by this time dates and sun dried tomatoes should be softened and ready to add to blender (do not add soaking water). Blend until smooth, unless you like it chunky!
4. Rinse, de-stem, and chop kale well.  Place chopped kale in a large bowl. By now, quinoa should be done cooking.  Put warm quinoa into bowl with kale. Pour fresh tomato marinara into bowl and mix well with chopped tomato and diced avocado.
5. Reap the benefits!!


Kale is soo high in calcium, iron, protein, folic acid, vitamin K and even more vitamins and minerals! Quinoa is also very high in iron and is one of the two (soy is the other) plant sources of a complete protein amino acid ratio. Meaning, not only does quinoa have all of the essential amino acids, it has them in the ratio that the body needs and uses.  The vitamin C in the tomatoes helps the iron get absorbed quickly and easily, and the healthy plant based cholesterol free vitamin E rich avocado’s monounsaturated fat, helps the body to absorb the fat-soluble vitamin K. A fat free diet can lead to deficiencies in vitamins A, D, E, and K, because they are fat-soluble. Unlike B vitamins, vitamin C, and potassium that are water soluble. A little bit of fat and vitamin C with your salad can help to absorb fat soluble vitamins and iron!

This was the perfect post work out quick, satisfying, mouth watering meal! Eat clean, wake up lean! L&L ! 😉



New Nutrition Facts Label… B.S.

counting calories


Although these public policies do mean well- with high hopes of helping people meet their needs and find healthier options- It still seems to me that the Proposed Changes to the Nutrition Facts Label are better… but are not making the changes that truly need to be made…

Original vs. Proposed:















I am the biggest nutrition nerd that anyone will ever meet, and I still will look at that “Protein 3g” or “Iron 45%” and think “Is this enough?” or “Is this good?”  Considering a recommendation that I have learned for protein is .8 grams multiplied by body weight in kilograms is a good amount.  But what percent of calories would that be?  Like don’t I only need 10-35% protein?  And as if Joe Shmoe knows his weight in kilograms.. or that equation..  bottom line this label is still really confusing and if anyone out there would like to comment and explain it in simpler terms- I would greatly appreciate it.

What disgusts me so much about this is that it is so focused on the science and each individual nutrient- the ingredients are completely neglected.  Kale and bananas don’t have nutrition labels… so are they poof cut off the face of the earth and don’t have any nutritional value?  My friend once bought an “antioxidant juice drink” because it had suchandsuch many vitamins in it.. I was concerned because I bet some oranges and grapes would have just as many antioxidants.. but because they weren’t labeled or advertised as such, they were forgotten about.

Maybe the ingredients, calories, and serving size, should be big and bold on the front, and the nutrition facts smaller on the side?  It’s about time people put down the products and started eating whole food.  REAL food.  These products disgust me and are quite far from the nutritents that our bodies need and are bioavailable to us.  It seems to me, if it has one of these stupid labels on it, don’t eat it.  I hope to be able to grow my own food, and buy in bulk and sprout, and get back to trusting my hunger cues.  Calorie counts are helpful, but if we ate real, whole, natural food- it would be hard to comfortably accidentally take in too many calories.  All of this science is silly to me.. lets get back to nature, shall we??

Strawberry CashewCream Cheeze

imageA Sunday indulgence that loves you back ❤



wpid-img_20140302_093204.jpgStrawberry CashewCream Cheeze

1/3 cup soaked cashews (if not using soaked, just add water) *
1 coconut date roll (or any soft pitted date)
3 whole strawberries
1 tsp lemon juice

Blend in high speed blender or little food processor, and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.  Top with berries and breathe deep- savoring every bite! ❤

*to make even creamier, try grinding dry cashews with blender or food processor until fine and add water to recipe.  My soaked cashews mixed with the other ingredients were still a nice soft and creamy blended whole with everything else- up to you!  Also, try doubling or tripling the recipe and save leftover creamcheeze in the fridge for up to a week.  Making a bigger batch will make it easier to blend until completely smooth and creamy!