Saturday, March 22, 2014

How to Transition to Plant-Based Eating part 1

When I started keeping this blog, it was intended as a way to share some of the nutritional research I had been doing, but recently I realized that while you might now understand that the consumption of TMAO from animal products can increase your risk of heart disease, or why coconut oil really isn't healthy for us, I haven’t provided the tools to actually help make meaningful changes to your diet. If you don’t know how to wean yourself off animal products, then all the nutritional research that I present here, is essentially worthless.

One of the first things that need to be addressed is that changing one’s diet is very difficult. An estimated 45 million people go on some type of “diet” each year, and they spend roughly $33 billion on diet products. Yet, according to the CDC the United States is heavier than ever, with 35% of the total population categorized as being obese (a person with a Body Mass Index of 30 or higher). Obesity and the diseases associated with it, have an estimated annual medical cost of more than $147 billion dollars – to put some perspective to this number, that is 1/6th of the annual US defense budget! There is clearly a disconnect between these diets, the huge amounts of money being spent and America’s ever growing waistlines. 

BMI For Adults Widget

As always the information presented in this blog is for educational purposes only. It should not be considered as specific medical, nutritional, lifestyle, or other health-related advice.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Mung Beans and Sprouting Guide

Sprouting is an ancient technique that has been used on all sorts of beans, legumes, and various seeds as a way to increase their nutrition profile, digestibility, and flavor. Over the winter I’ve become addicted to sprouted mung beans (sometimes called ming beans) but this process can be repeated with any other legumes including lentils and chickpeas (which are other favorites).

While you can buy sprouts from most grocers today, they are far cheaper when you sprout them yourself. Besides being relatively cheap, especially when compared to the huge amount of nutrients sprouted legumes offer, they can also be a nice way to add fresh, raw produce to your diet year around.  Adding sprouts is an easy way to make any meal look a little more exotic and fancy.  

One study published a few years ago examined food consumption in five different regions of the world and found that legumes intake was the most important factor associated with longer lifespan. The study found an 8% reduction in risk of overall mortality for every 20 grams of legumes consumed. 

As legumes, mung bean sprouts are an incredible source of nutrients. Besides being anti-inflammatory, they offer an excellent amino acid profile and are 20% calories from protein which is remarkably high (sigh, and yes, they are a complete protein, just like all whole foods!) They also are high in vitamin C and vitamin K, which is essential for the process of blood clotting. Vitamin K also helps regulates bone mineralization and helps maintain bone density. Mung beans are an excellent source of riboflavin, folate, iron, and manganese. They are also packed with Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids as well as other micronutrients.

Besides being an all-around nutritional all-star, mung beans are incredibly easy to sprout taking an average of only 3 days before becoming edible. Once sprouted, mung beans have a tasty, fresh nutty flavor and offer a delicate crunch when added to a dish.

Once sprouted, you can keep mung beans in a sealed jar in the refrigerator for up to 5 weeks, although once you taste them, I'd be surprised if they last more than a few days!    

How to sprout legumes:

1. Take the desired amount (yield is approximately 2:1 so 1 cup of dry mung beans will be roughly 2 cups sprouted) and rinse them until the water runs clean.

     2. Then place the beans in either a bowl or jar and fill with cold filtered water. Add about 2-3 times the amount of water as there are beans. IE: 1 cup beans needs 2-3 cups water

     3.   Let soak overnight (8 – 12 hours)

     4. After soaking the beans, drain them and rinse them again with cold water.

    5. Place the beans in either an empty bowl or jar and set to the side. Store them in room temperature that isn’t directly hit by sunlight, but that does get some light.

   6. The next morning (day 2) the beans should be starting to open. Rinse once more in cold water and then return to the jar or bowl.
   7. By day three you should see little tails coming out of the body of the bean. You can either enjoy them this way, or let those little tails grow for another day for a softer sprout. Both are delicious. Rinse one final time, and then enjoy by adding to both raw and cooked meals.

   They’re great on salads, pastas, tossed in soups or pretty much any other dish! I just tossed some on top of my Green Mac N' Cheese

Darmadi-Blackberry, M. Wahlqvist et al. "Legumes: The Most Important Dietary Predictor of Survival in older people of Different Ethnicities," Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition. 2004, 217-20.

As always the information presented in this blog is for educational purposes only. It should not be considered as specific medical, nutritional, lifestyle, or other health-related advice.