March is National Nutrition Month. So each week this month, we’re highlighting how certain foods can help improve specific health conditions. This is the fourth and final article in the series. Please share with friends and family who may be interested.
You’ve heard it many times from many different sources: doctors, talk shows, magazine articles, you name it. The way to stay healthy is to exercise regularly, watch your weight, get enough sleep and eat a sensible diet.
But what if, just by choosing the right foods to eat, you could actually live longer? That’s not science fiction. That’s science fact. According to a study published in the Journal of American Medical Association, diets with a high intake of animal protein (meat) were positively associated with cardiovascular mortality. This means death caused by heart attack, heart disease or stroke. Furthermore, this danger is even greater for individuals with at least one lifestyle risk factor, such as smoking, obesity, high blood pressure or high cholesterol. And the size of this study was remarkably comprehensive, – over 130,000 people from all walks of life participated.
“Eating more plants – vegetables, whole grains and legumes – and fewer animal products can help you live a longer, healthier life,” said Rebecca Ramsing, sr. program officer, Food Communities & Public Health Program at Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future. “Taking meat off your plate a few days a week can make a long-lasting impact!”
On a brighter note, the study also indicates that diets with a high intake of plant-based protein – instead of meat – result in less deaths due to cardiovascular issues. This finding suggests the importance of the protein source you choose to eat regularly. In other words, people who choose more fruits, veggies, grains and nuts tend to be healthier and live longer.
With this good news in mind, we’ve picked out one of our favorite recipes to help you savor all life has to offer. Bon appétit.
March is National Nutrition Month. So each week this month, we’re highlighting how certain foods can help improve your health. This is the third article in the series. Please share with friends and family who may be interested.
For many adults, being time-pressed has become the norm. They’re driven to pack more into any given moment. With this mind, perhaps it’s no surprise that there’s a recent surge of interest in “superfoods” – plant foods that pack in more nutrition than other food items. Sure, this food trend is hot right now, but does the reality actually live up to the hype?
Turns out the answer is yes, as long as you’re consuming the right foods for the right reasons. According to Diana K. Rice, a registered dietitian who works with Meatless Monday, “Many plant-based foods pack in more fiber, minerals and fiber than other dietary choices,” said Rice. “So if you’re looking to improve the quality of your diet, it’s a great idea to rely on these foods over choices like processed carbohydrates and animal products.”
But don’t expect superfoods to deliver a miracle cure for your medical problems, cautions Rice. She explains, “No single food is going to help you lose weight, give you clearer skin or achieve whatever other health goal you’re after. The main reason to eat superfoods is that they are nutritious and convenient.”
One easy way to pack more superfoods into yoir diet is to adopt the practice of Meatless Monday. “When you choose not to eat meat one day a week, there’s a lot of room left in your diet to fill with nutrient-packed superfoods,” Rice said. “And when you try tasty new dishes containing plant-based superfoods on a Monday, you’ll be more likely to incorporate them into your diet over the rest of the week, too.”
To kick off your new Meatless Monday habit, Rice recommends these plant-based superfoods:
Peanuts: Not only is this plant-based source of protein highly affordable, it’s adored by the masses for its appealing flavor. In addition to seven grams of protein per one ounce serving, peanuts are a terrific source of folate and resveratrol – yes, the red wine nutrient! Found in whole peanuts (as well as grape skins), resveratrol is an antioxidant that’s linked to reduced rates of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Think outside the peanut butter sandwich with Peanut Noodles or Peanut Butter Chili.
Avocados: This fruit is a super substitute for animal products on Meatless Monday because its healthy fat content satisfies the same craving you might have for a juicy steak. But since the fats found in avocados are mostly heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, they’re doing your body a favor along with your tastebuds. Grill them and top with salsa for a new twist or try them with pasta in this Pea and Avocado Penne.
Kale: Sure, kale isn’t as trendy as it once was. Nowadays, foods like collard greens and Brussels sprouts are stealing the spotlight. However, kale rose to popularity for good reason – it scores a perfect 1000 on the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index, meaning that it packs in more nutrition per calorie than most other foods. In particular, it’s a great source of vitamins A, K, C and fiber. Give it a spin in this Forbidden Rice Salad or try a new variation on your lasagna with this kale-packed version.
Mushrooms: Not many foods pack in a hefty dose of vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin. But one portabella mushroom can pack in 400 IU (international units) of vitamin D, which is more than half of the recommended daily intake level. They’re an especially good choice for people who are averse to sun or live in northern climates, plus they offer the crave-able “umami” flavor found in meat. Try them in Mushroom Tikka Masala or Mushroom Hemp Tartlets.
Tomatoes: No, not the pale pink slice that’s suspiciously topping your sandwich. We’re talking deep, dark red tomatoes – especially canned tomatoes – that are an excellent source of lycopene, an antioxidant that’s linked to heart health and reduced cancer risk. Pump up your lycopene intake with dishes like Shakshouka with Rainbow Chard and Tomato Parmesan Slow Cooker Soup.
March is National Nutrition Month. So each week this month, we’re highlighting how certain foods can help improve specific health conditions. This is the second article in the series. Please share with friends and family who may be interested.
It’s long been known that a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables is good for your physical health. Lower blood pressure and less risk of heart disease are among the many benefits. But did you know fruits and veggies can also be good for your mental health? Absolutely true. According to a recent study, higher consumption of fruit and vegetables may increase feelings of well-being, happiness and life satisfaction. In addition, the study participants who ate more fruits and vegetables tended to be more curious and more creative than those who didn’t.
“There is a growing body of evidence suggesting that dietary patterns emphasizing fruits and vegetables may be linked to better psychological health.[i] A recent study found that higher fruit and vegetable consumption may increase well-being, curiosity and creativity, possibly related to micronutrients and carbohydrate composition.[ii] This is probably related to the fact you are giving your body and brain more healthy vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and fiber,” said Rebecca Ramsing, sr. program officer, Food Communities & Public Health Program at Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future.
This conclusion is supported by a separate study that found growing evidence that suggests that eating more fruits and vegetables is linked to better psychological health. So which foods help you feel happier, more creative and brimming with curiosity? Well, for starters, try roasted carrots and other root vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, yams and squash. Also, fresh berries are highly recommended to lift your spirits – blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, take your pick! And to jump-start your good mood, we’ve got a special recipe that’s sure to make you smile.
[i]Rooney C, McKinley MC, Woodside JV. The potential role of fruit and vegetables in aspects of psychological well-being: A review of the literature and future directions. TheProceedings of the Nutrition Society. 2013; 72: 420–432. doi:10.1017/S0029665113003388
[ii] Conner TS, Brookie KL, Richardson AC, Polak MA. On carrots and curiosity: eating fruits and vegetables is associated with greater flourishing in daily life. Br J Health Psychol. 2015; 20(2):413-27.
Photo by Michelle Cehn
Kristie Middleton is always in motion. As the Senior Food Policy Director for the Humane Society of the United States, she’s a sought-after speaker on how to reform our global food system. Her work has been covered by The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Politico and CNN, to name a few.
Even with her busy schedule, Kristie found time to write a new book, “MeatLess: Transform the Way You Eat and Live – One Meal at a Time.” It’s available starting tomorrow and it’s perfectly timed for National Nutrition Month in March.
In the book, Kristie details how you can begin eating less meat and dairy – without giving them up completely. If you think that sounds a lot like Meatless Monday, you’re right. Turns out Kristie is a big fan of Meatless Monday, as you’ll see in this interview. After all, the health benefits of choosing a more plant-based diet are inarguable. And it’s an added bonus that plant-based food is also much healthier for the planet.
Photo by Michelle Cehn
Kristie also shares inspirational stories from people who have lost weight and reached their health goals through plant-based eating. She includes deliciously satisfying recipes that anyone can make, plus offers tips and tricks on easy food swaps, where to dine out, and how to set and meet your health goals. Get a taste of what Kristie has in mind with this Noodles with Peanut Sauce recipe.
March is always one of our favorite times to sit down at the table. It’s National Nutrition Month, where good food and food that’s good for you are served on the same plate. This year, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends that you “Put Your Best Fork Forward,” encouraging parents to teach healthy eating habits to their children.
At Meatless Monday, we couldn’t agree more. The academy also suggests filling half your plate with fruits and vegetables. Of course, we believe in filling the whole plate with tasty veggies, fruits, nuts and whole grains. In fact, the nutrients in particular foods can actually help with certain health issues. So in celebration of National Nutrition Month, we’re going to spotlight specific foods each week that have a direct link in helping to reduce the risk of a chronic preventable disease. First up: Whole grains!
Heart Disease – Leading Cause of Death Among Women
You may remember hearing about this last month during the American Heart Association’s “Wear Red” event. It’s a serious health issue. Cardiovascular disease is listed as the underlying cause of nearly 801,000 deaths in the U.S. each year (about one of every three).
Whole Grains and Veggies Lower the Risk of Heart Disease
In a research study, health experts concluded an inverse association between dietary whole grains and cardiovascular disease. In other words, by eating more whole grains, you have less risk of developing heart disease. In a separate study, experts found that a higher consumption of fruit and vegetables is linked to a lower risk of all causes of death, particularly heart disease. Long story, short, whole grains and veggies are definitely heart smart.
Eat Healthy – and Tasty
Turns out you can have the best of both worlds: nutritious, flavorful veggies and wholesome tasty whole grains. See some of our favorite recipes below:
New Orleans, Louisiana is famous – and infamous – for good times, good music and good food. Revelers come from the four corners of the world to take part in the annual Mardi Gras celebration – a spectacular event with parades, street floats, lavish costumes and evening balls.
Mardi Gras literally translates to “Fat Tuesday.” This takes place on the day before Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent. Traditionally, Fat Tuesday meant feasting and finishing all the rich, fatty foods before the 40-day religious observance.
Interestingly, the word “carnival” is derived from the Latin word “carnelevarium,” which means to take away or remove meat. This makes sense because many people choose to give up meat during Lent.
Not surprisingly, we’re okay with that. In fact, many of the classic Cajun and Creole dishes can be made without meat, yet still deliver all the zesty, mouth-watering flavors of the Crescent City.
From red beans and rice to gumbo to étouffée, spice up your Monday and strut your stuff with these meatless Mardi Gras recipes.
Congratulations to Meatfree Monday Korea and the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism. Today, the Jogye Order announced that they would go meat free one day a week. This is of special significance not only because it’s the largest Buddhism organization in Korea, but also because it’s associated with many temples, schools, universities, hospitals and training centers.
For 1,700 years, the Jogye Order has helped preserve the history of Korea. What’s more, 90% of Buddhists in Korea are part of this religious order. This new declaration is certain to have a positive result on the personal health of Koreans as well as the environment.
Houston to NYC – Pondicheri restaurants celebrate the fresh vibrancy of Indian cuisine
Anita Jaisinghani works long days. Her restaurants serve Indian-themed casual fare for breakfast and lunch, then transform to more upscale dining at night. She opened her first restaurant in Houston in 2001 – which just celebrated five years of Meatless Monday. Last summer, she added a second Pondicheri in Manhattan. Over her career, Anita earned two nominations for the coveted James Beard Awards and has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, USA Today and TIME Magazine. We sat down with her for some table talk.
You’ve said your menu is guided by the principles of Ayurveda. Could you explain?
Ayurveda is a philosophy that’s all about balance, not just in food and flavors, but also in life. For instance, Ayurveda doesn’t say you can’t eat meat, but you should eat it in smaller portions. We surround meat with vegetables and other foods so the meat doesn’t become the center of the plate. With Ayurveda, the food should not only taste good, but make you feel nourished and rejuvenated after. I plan my food that way. I would say guided by Ayurveda because I don’t see the philosophy as hard rules. We’re really trying to examine our own history and heritage and select what we think makes sense for modern life.
You also serve a popular Meatless Monday menu each week. What should diners expect?
India is the world’s best place to be a vegetarian. It has the highest percentage of vegetarians in the world, which is why the cuisine is so extensive and imaginative. Our Meatless Monday menu is really special and it goes back to my roots. Pondicheri, to me, is such an expression of my heart. And growing up in India, it was a rule in my family that we didn’t eat meat for at least one day a week.
Pondicheri also has a Bake Lab and you’re famous for your chocolate chili cookies. How did that come about?
My first restaurant job was as a pastry chef at the legendary Café Annie and I love to bake. We named our bakery the Bake Lab because we are always experimenting. The chili cookies were actually a happy accident. My first cookie ever was a Mrs. Fields chocolate chip cookie at an airport. It was warm, soft and delicious. I do not have a sweet tooth, but I loved that cookie. I began to play with cookies and, after many years of reworks, ended up with an oatmeal cookie that was not cakey and slightly gooey on the inside. One day we were out of walnuts in the Indika kitchen, so we added spiced walnuts to the recipe since that was all we had. And voila! The chocolate chili cookie was born!
Our Houston location holds six course pop-up dinners that usually feature a different region of India every three months, although we’ve done all kinds. The most recent one was Masala Sichuan, inspired by the Chinese expatriate community in Mumbai. With Indian food, there’s such an immense scope that it’s impossible to run out of inspiration – the tasting menus give our chefs and I the opportunity to explore that scope and incorporate seasonal ingredients.
If you’re in Houston or NYC, make sure to stop by Pondicheri and taste the Meatless Monday goodness. For more information, visit their website. And if you can’t make it to one of their restaurants, stir up your love of Indian cuisine by making Pondicheri’s Peanut Noodles recipe at home.
Tomorrow is Valentine’s Day, a windfall for cards, roses and chocolates. And on this special day, we’d like to suggest another way to express your love – Meatless Monday.
By choosing not to eat or serve meat just one day a week, you’re giving you and your loved ones a valentine 52 times a year.
This one simple gesture can have profound health benefits. For instance, eating less meat lowers your risk of heart disease, which is the leading cause of death among women. In addition, diets with less meat also help prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes and cancer. All of which can help you and your loved ones live longer.
So tomorrow, enjoy plenty of hugs and kisses. And don’t forget to show some love each and every week with Meatless Monday – for your family, yourself and the planet.