Better you

Going Green: A Guide to Vegetarian Diets

Vegetarian Diets

Chefs started to experiment with cooking without meat back in the day. But the meals were often tasteless. But nowadays after experiencing this for more than a quarter of a century, cooks are combining fruits, vegetable grains, and legumes in exciting new ways. The tastes are so good that even large restaurants are now offering meatless meals.

Healing Power of Vegetarian Diets 2As a result, more than 30 million Americans, including one in three teens, have tried vegetarian meals, according to the American Dietetic Association. They like the health benefits and how good the food tastes. Vegetarian diets have changed, but one thing stayed the same: a plant-based diet, which is low in saturated fat, high in fiber, vitamins, antioxidants, and a powerful array of protective chemicals.

This is the ultimate prescription for a longer and healthier life, according to Virginia Messina, MPH, R.D. a dietitian in Port Townsend, Washington, and co-author of The Vegetarian Way.

Research results have shown that vegetarians have lower rates of cancer, heart disease, high blood pressure, type two diabetes, and obesity than people who eat meat. According to British researchers, vegetarians have a 20% lower risk of fatal heart disease and a 40% lower risk of cancer.

Healing Power of Vegetarian DietsOther studies found more positive facts. Fifty years ago, a large study of 27,530 Seventh-Day Adventists, whose religion advocates a vegetarian diet, provided the first scientific link between vegetarian diets and better health. Researchers were amazed to discover that among the vegetarian Adventists, the death rate from cancer was 50 to 70% lower than among other Americans. Since then, study after study has confirmed the benefits of vegetarian eating.

In Asia, where people eat little or no meat, diseases such as heart disease, breast cancer, and diabetes, are far less common than in the United States.

Naturally Lean

Something that makes vegetarian meals so healthy is that they don’t have all the saturated fat and cholesterol that comes from meat. While most Americans get about 36% of their total calories from fat, vegetarians get less, usually between 30% and 34%. And most of the fat they get is the healthier polyunsaturated and monounsaturated type – and not the dangerous saturated fat that comes from animal foods.

In one study, researchers put 500 people on a vegetarian diet. After twelve days, cholesterol levels had dropped an average of 11%.

Besides the fact that vegetarian meals don’t contain saturated fat which makes vegetarian meals so healthy, they also contain “good” fats. According to studies, both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which are found in olive oil, canola oil, nuts, seeds, and many other plant foods, can lower the level of cholesterol when they’re used to replace saturated fat in the diet.

And the omega-3 fatty acids found in some plant foods, such as walnuts and flaxseed, can further protect against heart disease by helping to keep artery walls flexible and supporting the electrical “system” within the heart that regulates a healthy heartbeat.

Healing Power of Vegetarian Diets 9The Power of Plants

Doctors in the United States have been pleading with Americans for years to eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes, the same foods that vegetarians eat in abundance. Most plant foods are loaded with antioxidants, like beta-carotene and vitamin C and E. They are essential to protect you against diseases.

Also, plant foods contain an abundance of phytonutrients, which are natural plant compounds that have been shown to lower the risk of cataracts, heart disease, and many other serious problems.

In another study, researchers found that people who got the most carotenoids, the plant pigment that is found in dark green and deep orange, yellow, and red fruits and vegetables, had half the risk of developing macular degeneration (the leading cause of irreversible vision loss in older adults) as people getting less.

Vegetarian diets cut the risk of breast, colon, ovarian, and prostate cancer in several studies. The magic ingredients include several cancer-fighting phytochemicals. The naturally lower levels of saturated fat in most vegetarian diets (except those that rely heavily on cheese) avoid a problem that is connected with meat-rich diets: High-saturated fat diets seem to promote the production of a form of estrogen called estradiol, which is linked to breast cancer.

A study showed that women who ate the most animal fats had a one-third higher risk of breast cancer than those who ate the least.

Another study found that vegetarians have higher levels of “natural killer cells” – special white blood cells that attack cancer cells – in their bloodstreams.

Healing Power of Vegetarian Diets 11But even if you took all the nutrients out of plant foods, the vegetarian diet would still have an edge, because of all the dietary fiber it contains. The average American gets only 12-15 grams of fiber per day, while vegetarians are getting as much as three times that amount.

It is almost impossible to exaggerate the importance of getting enough dietary fiber. because it isn’t absorbed by the body, fiber passes through the digestive tract, adding bulk to stools and helping them to move more quickly. This does more than prevent constipation. The more quickly stools and any harmful substances they contain move through the colon, the less likely they are to do cellular damage that could lead to cancer. Washing is essential.

Also, one type of fiber called soluble fiber forms a gel in the intestine that helps to prevent fat and cholesterol from passing through the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream. In a study of more than 43,000 men, for example, researchers found that those who added just 10 grams of fiber a day to their diets – about 25% of the amount vegetarians get each day – decreased their risk of heart disease by almost 30%.

Vegetarian diets also guard against other health issues, like kidney stones, gallstones, and asthma. Because high-protein diets with much meat prompt your body to excrete more calcium, oxalate, and uric acid – which are the main building blocks of kidney stones. Diets with a lot of meat increase the chance of getting gallstones in women and could threaten bone density by promoting the excretion of calcium.

In a Swedish study of 24 women and men, vegetable-based meals cut the frequency and severity of asthma attacks.

Balance is the Key

A vegetarian diet can provide all the nutrients your body needs, including protein. This is even true for strict vegetarians, who may avoid eggs, milk, and other animal foods altogether. The proteins in meat are complete, which means they contain all the amino acids your body needs.

Healing Power of Vegetarian Diet 4The proteins in legumes and grains, however, may be low in one or more of the amino acids, but because legumes and grains contain some amino acids, eating a variety of these foods throughout the day will provide the proper balance.

However, vegetarians have the risk of vitamin B12 deficiency, which the body needs to make red blood cells. It’s only found in animal foods. People who don’t get enough vitamin B12 feel weak and tired.

You can get plenty of vitamin B12 by eating foods that are fortified with this nutrient, such as fortified cereals, or/and you can take B12 supplements.

Sugar spikes your insulin.

Better you

The Beginner’s Guide to Cooking

Cooking Basics is a fun basic cooking guide to nutrition from a lover of making do with what you´ve got. This is for Evan and his new wife Rachel that cannot even boil water.  rachel-cooking-food

Just watching those long-winded and artificial cooking sessions on the screen is enough to make me wonder just how much simple food can take before it turns into deadwood. However delicious it may look (and it seems that that is all it turns out to be) it is hardly likely to be anything other than a stomach teaser, devoid of palate appeal. Not always, of course, but these chefs are often more like theatrical performers than genuine lovers of the art.

In any case, cooking basic for first-timers is not capable and able to remember all those ingredients, if they even managed to find them, let alone produce nutritious dishes guaranteed to take care of most of their daily vitamin and mineral needs. After years of experimenting (often out of curiosity) with foodstuff that made me feel good the next day (and others not so well), I scoured my mind honestly and decisively for those things over the years that I felt we should all be eating without turning ourselves into rabbits or vampires.

By watching some householders cook (and mainly friends), I began to get a clear picture of what was missing most of the time. The food was bland or overcooked and the ketchup manufacturers rely on them for a living I suppose. It made me remember Mr. Coleman´s oft-repeated phrase, our profit is in the mess left on the plate. He was referring to his mustard which spread liberally over everything to ensure that most were left behind along with whatever it touched – a clear sign of eye over stomach or appetite over palatability.

Time and a desperate need to get it all done quickly and make sure that any hungry bunch would devour it whether or not it was what it should be. That unfortunately is the fate of hamburgers and Pizza eaters. Although both are decorative are very filling (which is why it all sells so well) and tasty, if done properly with quality products, stuffing it all in with the chips and bread that usually follows is hardly the way to keep the stomach in place and unharmed for well after digestion has taken place. I believe in all that – tasty, nutritious, health-protecting as well as appealing to the eye and nose. Think about these four aims in simple cooking. You will not do it properly for some time, but whatever comes out with my easy step-by-step system will fulfill most of what is required. It’s all good commonsense.

Here they are:

  • Good food for the body to use efficiently with well-recorded nutritional values.
  • Sensible cooking methods – to avoid damaging these delicate products of nature which evolved as we did from very basic cellular organisms and which provide us with the regeneration fuel that keeps us alive and well.
  • Essential variety across a wide field of nutritional needs and on the same plate
  • Taste and presentation stimulate the appetite and get those salivary glands working to do their job well. Remember that digestion starts with the teeth and mouth where the first acids start releasing the nutrients and preparing the food for secondary and more efficient digestion in the stomach. Chewing is pleasant and it also does an essential job. Things that do not need chewing are by nature much easier to absorb and digest in the stomach.


SIMPLE RULES…spices-for-cooking

DON’T BURN OR OVERCOOK YOUR FOOD IF YOU WANT TO KEEP THE NUTRITIONAL QUALITIES IN. This applies to frying mainly, whether deep (totally submersed like we do for chips and use a fryer for) or partly like stir fry or almost no oil at all against the hot plate or semi-dry, pan-frying.

Leave all that fancy red hot sizzling to the professionals and if you want to get some color on your meat dishes particularly, do it less destructively. Browning can be achieved at much lower temperatures than people would assume – just a question of time.

If frying, therefore, do it gently and get the right type of oil. Olive oil for example is useless for frying at high temperatures and contains plenty of olive sediments which burn and give it and your food a bad taste. Vegetable oil is much better – but again, keep temperatures down when cooking anything if you want it to end up the way you see it in your mind’s eye and not something that looks alright when piping hot and hard and unappetizing when it cools.

Cold food should be just as appetizing as hot. Warm is the way to eat most things and how they should be served. If it does not taste good, then you went wrong somewhere – usually, an overdose of add-ons like salt, pepper, chili, herbs, etc. Keep these to a minimum since they usually have strong tastes –for example, basil which sweetens, oregano which can cause wind, and curcumin which can taste bitter, not to mention bay leaf which taste can take all the others with it. How to combine these herbs to produce a good result is a matter of experiment and perhaps asking mum which her favorite ones will produce a safe ground to work with.



cooking-for-dummiesThe art of cooking is knowing just how long anything takes to reach its best cooking point and combining all the necessary ingredients for healthy living and stimulation to the eye. Loaded plates are unnecessary with more neatly stashed in a covered tureen on the side for second helpings. Little contact with anything else inside this useful container is not only hygienic when covered, but it can be put away in the fridge easily. Make a note of reactions from those you feed, good and bad – and learn from them without sulking and swearing you will never cook for them again. Most people know what is just what they wanted or what can be put aside for another more tolerant day.

Cooking with various ingredients is simply a question of understanding that some things take longer to cook to tenderize, and putting it all in at the same time is alright for some things but not for all. Some things are just right and others are tough or not quite right. If this happens and just when you thought it was ready, the best thing is to take the switch off or bring the heat down to almost zero – remove the cooked bits like the meat, for example, and some of the vegetables and pluck and put on a side plate what is ready. Use a slotted spoon so you don’t take the liquid out at the same time. Or it could be that all seems to be well cooked except the meat so just pull the meat out and continue simmering with some of the liquid from the main casserole until tender. You can put it all back together when they are ready and just give it a few more minutes of broiling to blend it all back again. Always, if the mind blanks over the next step or is forgetful and goes off somewhere else for an instant, don´t risk it and switch it off. Nothing will go hard again now will it spoil except it is something that could go stodgy, like rice. Never leave rice. Always stand by the pan from start to finish adding a bit of water or soup as it boils away gently.

Overcooking often happens with some potato, vegetable, and meat dishes where the meat has not softened enough and the rest, particularly the potato appears to want to disappear into the sauce. Always put aside (for separate further cooking) the easier ones to remove. It is better to remove the bigger tighter chunky things, like the meat or larger vegetables, and do them separately if they are not done but only if the rest of the vegetables are already well done.


You can then put it back into the casserole just before serving or simply ladle the casseroled meat with plenty of sauce into the plate and put your newly cooked broccoli on the side with creamed potatoes or saffron-rice to make up a delightful, no holds barred, and piece of culinary provocation.


The cooking mystique fostered by professionals is often no more than an attempt at creating their social images. Much of the stuff produced and presented as delicacies are often less appetizing than a simple country dish born of a natural sense of balance and genuine appreciation of flavor – the right thing for the moment. The type of weather and time of year often prompts visions, when hungry, of what would make your mouth water and your stomach rumble. Most national dishes are the result of the ingenuity of their ancient peasants who made do with what was there and often flavored to hide taste and or make it more palatable. Most live on that sort of cooking and much is simple to put together. As cooking methods evolved and technology came to the rescue, much, like slow cooking over embers was forgotten. In the absence of money to buy meat, a great substitute was spent on greens and dairy products. Whatever meat was available was often utilized to make air-dried sausages with a variety of spices and a whole world of different names, like Salami, Chorizo, Longaniza, Blood Sausage, etc.Cooking Basic for Dummies

These were sold to those who could afford them and in turn, provide for the mainly vegetarian dishes that were prevalent in the villages. The meat, (and not every day), consisted of bits and pieces of those dried or salted leftovers from the sausage-making for those imaginative people huddled over a fire or eating out in the patios, these salted bits and pieces were left in the water to dissolve the salt for however many times it took and then put in with the stews.

Cheaper cuts of animal meat are impossible to fry tender, succumb to slow cooking, and are full of flavor.

Rice dishes were also part of the staple diets cooked with cheap garden vegetables not worth selling and bits and pieces of these sausage meats, like chorizo and to provide the taste. The treatment and subtle taste however were enough to get everyone eating these stodgy starches with gusto.

A bit more from the crusty daily bread bake helped keep the hunger pangs away. There is a protein in rice and bread of course otherwise, it would not work. As for modern nutritional suggestions, most of these dishes today would be frowned upon as staple diets and like chocolate, however sumptuous, left for the odd spree or two. Modern cooking can have all the best aspects of these dishes whilst leaning on good quality nutrients to do the rest. 

Anyone can learn the rudiments of cooking overnight. From a simple start, great dishes can be put together, but what matters is being able to combine ingredients on a plate that are healthy, attractive, and succulent. It is just common sense if you think about it without panicking and is always ready to switch off and rethink if you are bent on creating a masterwork.  cooking-for-dummies-First-timers

The two basic ways of making a good start

Gentle frying of the base elements, adding water, bringing to a boil, lowering to simmer, and adding the bits and pieces (according to how long they take to soften), is all it takes to make a meat casserole.

Alternatively, bring base elements together in boiling water – left to simmer with all the extras (put in at different times) to produce either a soup or a stew. Both produce some very good results.

Both tastes differently and both can provide meat and sauce served elegantly with accompanying separately cooked vegetables and chips, rice, or creamed potatoes which I assume, need little to explain about. Getting on with it…

Get a clean, nonstick pan, preferably not aluminum given the Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s scare. Add about an egg cup of any oil to start with remembering that olive oil burns at high temperatures and kills the flavor of any ingredient when it does. Remember, therefore, that it is best to work with middle temperatures even if it takes longer.


Cut the three most widely utilized ingredients for a base concentration Onions, Garlic, Red and or Green Peppers, Tomatoes, and a couple of Bay Leaves. You can skip the tomatoes if you want a different color sauce and remember – very little bay leaf because it can dominate your overall flavor. Cut up however much you want of these but say, a handful of each, and whilst tossing It all around with a wooden spoon, let them fry gently until they are limp and tender and the onion goes golden around the edges. You can do them well (or slightly under so that they show through the sauce or finished dish for color). For a casserole with a rich thick sauce, what matters is that the base materials eventually blend with everything, and most of the water you will add has boiled off whilst cooking the vegetables and or meats. Once the base is ready, take it off the fire and think of your next step.

Instead of Onions, you can use any variety of the family, like Shallots, and Purple Onions. For Peppers, you mix the different varieties if you intend to see them through, say rice, for color or stick to green which stands on its own concerning its particular stronger taste. You will see that you could try different fry-ups for base every day and arrive at entirely different dishes be they meat, completely vegetarian, or fish.

Later on, when you have mastered your stews and your casseroles, you can go mad on soups and learn how to buy for one dish and be able to use the remainder for a variety of others in the following days. 

The next stage …

Remember we have created a base to provide an overall taste that will blend with the meat or fish. It is essential to understand that like ketchup, a strong sauce can drown anything in it and what you would taste would be that and no more. Thinking carefully about what goes with what is important until you arrive at your variety of dishes without having to think about planning at all. Meats take time to tenderize and if required can befriend gently in a separate pan with a small amount of oil or fried in with the base you have just prepared, bearing in mind that it will all then go underwater, brought to a boil and liquid gradually boiled off to make it all rest finally in a nice thick, tasty sauce. Dash Safe Slice Mandoline Slicer

When the meat and the base are done separately you have control of just how limp or disintegrated you want your base to remain throughout the cooking period. However, you can put your meats and base material together and fry them all gently together, and remove your meats partly cooked with a fork so that the base material remains identifiable. One tip concerning garlic and the likelihood of someone not wanting to go anywhere near them is to fry the cloves whole in their skins and then remove them when it gets near to serving. You can always have them to yourself as part of another dish any day after that or blend it in with something like a spread on toast.

When the base and meats are ready you can do a few things, but there are two basics. You can sauté some fresh with stewed tomatoes, onions, garlic, and peppers are near ready to give a strong red sauce, or you can simply put in a few things like curcumin which is supposed to be a powerful health aid and which makes it all a golden yellow. Both bases can be utilized to make a casserole in which you can put chunky or whole small potatoes and in which you can put some colorful and tasty peas or broccoli (also a much-revered vegetable) and or sliced or button carrots. You can experiment with different results any day and still enjoy the results.

You are staring at your lovely base with added fried tomatoes or on the yellow with a bit of curcumin for looks and taste. You can add as much as you like but be careful with condiments because you can go too far and make it too rich whilst destroying the joy of savoring all the different tastes that blend skillfully in the mouth.

Your meats, base, and added vegetables are now all together in a casserole and begging for water. Put in as much as you like especially if you were thinking of stealing some of the liquid after it has all been brought to a boil and then to half or less heat. It is important if you are going to create a masterful soup on the side which does not taste the same as the main dish, to make sure it has simmered for a while and the meat in particular is getting to the stage where you can easily penetrate it with a knife or fork.

If you are thinking of doing this, you can increase the quantity of the base materials so that when you take off half the liquid, you still have the fairly thickest sauce to get on with for the casserole. If you put in potatoes, peas carrots, and or Broccoli it will thicken of its own accord as you reduce it gently on a slow fire. You could have even put a bit of the base aside before putting the water in case you go over the top with the cooking time and you want those lovely pepper cuts and onion bits to stand out against the potatoes etc.

You simply add it at the end and you will achieve your colorful results. Now you have a meat and vegetable stew or casserole to make any earthenware plate to look the part and into which you can dip some very appreciative crusty farm bread or better still, whole-meal or dark rye for plenty of the fiber the body always needs.

cooking-for-first-timersRemember, there is no way you are going to make it all taste good and use your intelligence if you rush it. If in doubt, remove it from heat and work it out. That base is going to turn into a sauce and the ingredients will probably dissolve in it which is normal, but you must make sure that your meat and your vegetables are tender.

You can always, if you like, boil your meats gently and separately before you put them into the fry-up base. Many people prefer the soft juicy boiled meats which also absorb and allow the blending of the base sauce instead of simmering for longer periods in it to achieve a slightly different result.



Lesson to be learned…there are many ways of doing the same thing but all are different in one way or another. Cook separately and then finish them off together or cook together and add them at different times. It needs little or no experience to understand what is going on but always with gentle heat on your side. Make sure it all looks and tastes right.

You now hopefully have a nice chicken or meat casserole (try dark turkey chunks one day) and even after having tapped plenty of the watering sauce with a scoopful of vegetables, put it in the blender and watch it turn into a thick delicious soup. It can be brownie red or yellow depending on whether you put tomatoes or curcumin in the base sauce originally.

If you put potatoes in your potatoes in the casserole and are already too well done to allow for more cooking, – simply get some standard breadcrumbs packs (usually flavored with garlic and parsley) and put in as much as you need to thicken the sauce. You can also scoop out one or two whole potatoes or chunks mash them and place them into the mix. It will all thicken as it cools.

You can eat a large portion of this quite easily and if you do not want to be tempted to play piggy, serve less with some fresh pasta or simple boiled rice.

I did not mention salt in all this, simply because if you as much as put it too much you kill it all. A very small amount while cooking to bring out the flavors is fine, but you can season to taste at the end of it all.

And now for that soup…

Cooking my soup tastes like my main course, but it is perhaps not advisable to do it like that. You have a bowl full of tasty very reddish or brownish watery sauce which you drained off the casserole at an early stage of the game. Now you can do what you like with it. It will have some meat flavor but you can still make wonders with it. You can change the color and the taste simply by adding different things to it.

If the main casserole is chicken or turkey, then perhaps a bit of a fishy soup could be interesting. All you have to do is get a few chunks of fish or prawns with their skin on and boil them thoroughly in the soup with a couple of potatoes so that you can mash them in to give it all a bit of body. If you have not put celery or broccoli in your main course, you can boil it all into the soup and when tender, pass it through the blender.

I often throw in half a cupful of plain cooked chickpeas you will find in any supermarket which will then give your soup a new golden look and a very definite elegant taste. You could even sprinkle a bit of Oregon and some grated cheese on top, but if you put the prawns in forget the cheese.

cookingRemember that the base liquid already has enough flavor so the odd pinch of one thing or another should not be bad. More healthy recipes here.


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Better you

From Novice to Master Chef: A Step-by-Step Guide to…


Become A Great Cooker/Chef

How many times have you dreaded going into the kitchen to make breakfast, lunch, or dinner? You may require a brand-new viewpoint. Cooking may be enjoyable and relaxing in the event you attempt to see it in an additional way.

Here are a few cooking tips that are sure to get your taste buds tingling and entice your inner chef to come out. 


There is a remedy that will quickly fix this problem. In a bowl, combine 2 tablespoons’ worth of water with 1 corn starch. Use this solution to instantly thicken any sauce. Make sure you combine them gradually and consistently to prevent the sauce from thickening too much.

If you need to slice meat into thin strips, then partially freeze it beforehand. This is great for various Oriental meals, such as Thai or Chinese dishes. There’s less tearing of the semi-frozen meat as it’s cleanly sliced. Allow the meat to thaw before cooking though, you must have so that it can cook evenly. During cooking, you must have sharp knives accessible. Not only can it be difficult to cut with dull knives, but it is dangerous to use them too. You could easily cut yourself if you are trying to cut something up with a dull knife.

When you are cooking with garlic, you may notice that your hands will pick up the strong smell. Following utilizing garlic or other foods with odors that stick to your hands, all you have to do is rub your hands on a piece of stainless steel, like your sink. This cleanses your hands thoroughly to avoid transferring the flavor of garlic to other foods.

Cook your vegetables in chicken broth. Utilizing chicken broth will stop the vegetables from sticking to the pan, in addition, to adding some tasty flavor at the same time. There is not a lot of expense when buying chicken broth, and most grocers carry it.

Read nutrition labels when you buy foods. May times common cooking supplies will contain some hidden ingredients which are unhealthy. You need to see to it that the ingredients are not high in sugar or sodium because both may cause complications to your health if consumed in large quantities.  carrots-make-everything-good

Instead of adding all the seasoning in one rapid burst at the beginning, add it in increments over time to give it a better flavor. In the event you do it in this manner you can flavor your meals the very best way and use your components in the very best way.

When making a dish that contains garlic, make sure you purchase the freshest garlic at the store. It’s extensively recognized that the fresher the garlic is, much more than most likely the sweeter the taste will be. Check the freshness of garlic cloves by inspecting the skin. If it is bruised, soft, or shriveled, it is not fresh.

Use these tips for preparing your meals. Once you try some of these tips, you will believe that perhaps cooking is not so difficult after all. Not only will your meals be more fun to eat, but you’ll also look forward to cooking them; you might even start trying new recipes.

                                                     Go ahead, and begin your cooking journey today!













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