You Truly ARE What You Eat (Updated Post)

you-are-what-you-eatIt’s no secret that fast foods are unhealthy and artery-clogging, but there are impostors which sit on grocery shelves and have people believe they are healthy due to phrases like “Low Fat”, “Good for you”, “Fit ____”, and the list goes on. I encourage my patients to read EVERY label on food containers while perusing the grocery store shelves and aisles and to become aware of preservatives, sugar, hydrogenated oils, artificial flavors and artificial colorings.

A good general rule to follow is if there are more than five ingredients on a food label, or if there are a bunch of big terms which seem alien and strange to you, chances are that the item has questionable nutritional value and should be avoided. Over the last few years I have developed such an aversion to packaged foods that as soon as I see a food item in a bag, box or can, I tend to avoid it.

An interesting thing begins happening to people when they completely eliminate sugars and processed foods from their diets. They experience increased energy, clearer skin, fewer aches and pains, and lower body fat. If someone has been eating clean for a while and decides to have a sinful treat like pizza, a fast food burger, chips, cake or cookies, he or she will notice a detrimental effect on energy, aches and pains may return, and stubborn pockets of body fat will become more noticeable. I have seen this in myself and cannot stand it. What always occurs with me after I have had a couple of glasses of wine, a piece of cake, or greasy foods is that my digestion is completely thrown off whack and I feel sluggish and achy. In other words, these heavier foods make me feel heavy and tired, while clean, light, fresh foods make me feel energized.

I know some of you are thinking, “Wow, that would be so hard to stay away from processed food all the time!”, but in actuality, it isn’t difficult at all. The first thing you need to do is to clear out your pantry and refrigerator of any processed foods, thus wiping the slate clean. What do you replace those items with? You replace them with wholesome foods, fill up your crisper with fresh, organic vegetables and fruits, and favor single ingredients over packages which have ingredient lists which look like essays. Some of you might complain that you are so busy that it would be a waste to buy fresh fruits and vegetables because they would just rot. For you folks, I recommend purchasing frozen (NOT canned) produce which you can easily thaw out and cook whenever you need to.

And if you think it’s tough to cook clean meals, it really isn’t. A chicken breast can easily be marinated in simple marinades while you are at work (a favorite of mine has Bragg’s Amino Acids, apple cider vinegar, and sesame oil…yummy!), then placed in your broiler to cook. Add some steamed vegetables, and maybe a small serving of quinoa, and you have a healthy, nutritious meal which is a snap to make!

I understand that it can be challenging to find the time to eat whole foods each day, but I am telling you that it is well worth it if you intend to take control of poor eating habits and possibly even reverse disease processes in your body. Give it a try…you will probably love it.

Vegan Date Oat Bars

My version of Vegan Date Oat Bars before cutting down into bar sized pieces.

One evening in October, when I was post-photo shoot, starving and tired, I walked into Vintage Grocer in Malibu. I was definitely in the mood to forage for food, so I hit the hot foods section and chose a chicken curry dish. However, my sweet tooth was asserting itself, so I wandered over to the vegan baked goods section. My reasoning was that I would probably be able to find something decently edible in that area which wasn’t too decadent. My gaze landed on a vegan dat oat bar, and it sounded kind of tasty to me, so I selected it.

By some miracle, I waited until I got home to sample the date oat bar. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t expecting much. I thought it would be good but not mind-blowing.

I took the first bite. WOW.

It was absolutely delicious!

Since then, I have purchased the bar two more times. I have been determined to figure out the exact ratios which make their bars so delectable, but I’ve only experimented twice with my own guess on a recipe which might replicate theirs closely.

The bars I have made have been quite tasty, and I swear I will figure out how to make them as incredible as the ones from Vintage Grocer. I still can’t figure out how Vintage Grocer keeps their bars from crumbling, and I still have to place mine in the refrigerator to set before I cut them into bars.

Here’s my interpretation of these incredible bars:

DR. NAITO’S VERSION OF VEGAN DATE OAT BARS

INGREDIENTS
1. Date Layer:
• 3 cups water
• 3 cups chopped pitted dates
• 8-10 frozen dark cherries, chopped
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2. Bottom Layer:
• 3/4 cup gluten free flour/almond meal blend
• 2/3 cup shredded coconut
• ¼ cup sunflower lecithin
• 1 cup (packed) organic dark brown sugar
• 1-1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
• 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
• ¼ teaspoon baking soda
• ¼ teaspoon sea salt
• ¼ cup sunflower lecithin
• ¼ cup vegan butter
• ¼ cup olive oil
3. Top Layer:
• ¾ cup gluten free flour/almond meal blend
• 2/3 cup shredded coconut
• ¼ cup sunflower lecithin
• 1-1/4 cup (packed) organic dark brown sugar
• 1-1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
• 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
• ¼ teaspoon baking soda
• ¼ teaspoon sea salt
• ¼ cup sunflower lecithin
• ¼ cup vegan butter
• ¼ cup olive oil

PREPARATION
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 8×8-inch metal baking pan. Bring water to simmer in medium saucepan. Add dates and cherries; simmer until very soft and thick, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Cool to room temperature. Stir in vanilla.

2. Bottom and top layers:
Combine flour, coconut, sugar, oats, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in two large bowls; stir to blend. Add lecithin and oil. Using fingertips, rub in until moist clumps form. Bottom layer mixture evenly over bottom of pan which has been sprayed with non-stick spray.

Spread date mixture evenly over bottom layer.

Add top layer, and press gently to adhere. Bake until brown at edges and golden brown and set in center, about 50-55 minutes. Cool completely in pan on rack, then place in refrigerator for two hours to set.

Remove from refrigerator, cut into bars and serve.

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Vegan Protein Options

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I am an unapologetic omnivore and would miss animal protein too much to ever cut it out of my meal regimen. However, I understand and respect the fact that other people may choose to avoid meat. Though it can be a challenge to consume sufficient protein if you’re vegetarian or vegan, it can be done, even if you compete in bodybuilding contests or other sports.

Daily protein intake for the average individual should be around 0.8 gram of protein per kilogram of body weight, but I recommend a MUCH higher intake for weightlifters. For example, though I am 116 pounds, I typically consume anywhere from 120 to 170 grams of protein per day, spread out over 5 to 7 small meals. If I were vegan, though, I would consume one or two additional meals per day to ensure that I got enough protein in my system to maintain muscle mass.

Vegans and vegetarians need to be careful with their consumption of nuts and seeds, because they have a high caloric density and are packed with fat. Another challenge is the fact that plant protein sources are notorious for being incomplete proteins, which means that they don’t provide all the amino acids the body needs to function. Soy is a main source of complete plant protein which I never recommend (exceptions are tofu and tempeh), and I advise my patients and clients to avoid soy protein powder, soy milk, and other soy based products like the plague for a multitude of reasons. That leaves grains like quinoa and amaranth on the very small list of complete plant proteins which I recommend to vegetarians and vegans.

A certain amount of creativity must exist in the diet of a vegetarian or vegan in order to ensure that all the amino acids the body needs are eaten. What I mean by this is that protein sources should be combined so that whichever amino acids are absent in one protein source will be provided by another. In general, grains, seeds or nuts can be paired with legumes to form complete proteins. One great example is nut butter on bread. Another great option is brown rice and chick peas.

Below is a list of the best vegan protein sources.

Tofu

Tempeh

Soybeans

Lentils

Pinto, kidney, or black beans

Garbanzo beans

Quinoa

Almonds

Cashews

Walnuts

Peanuts

Sesame seeds

Avocado

Broccoli

Spinach

Kale

Sweet potatoes

Veggie burger

Veggie sausage

Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics

Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics, also known as OCC, is a cruelty-free and 100% vegan makeup line which has won great favor with makeup artists. The key feature in this line of cosmetics is the intensity of pigments used, but it hasn’t quite blown up on the mainstream makeup scene, which makes this company a relatively hidden gem. The most popular product in their line is Lip Tar, which comes in a myriad of brilliant and distinctive shades.

lip

Check them out at:

OCCMakeup.com

Ben And Jerry’s New Vegan Ice Cream

Ben and Jerrys

It was bound to happen. One of the biggest ice cream makers has released a vegan ice cream! Actually, since it is a vegan food item, it would more aptly be referred to as a dairy free frozen confection, but our palates should be fooled into thinking that it is just like its cow’s milk-derived cousin.

How is it possible to get that creamy mouth feel? Ben and Jerry’s used almond milk and coconut oil in place of eggs and milk to get a rich taste, and responded to Ben and Jerry’s ice cream fans (who petitioned for a vegan line) by featuring Chocolate Fudge Brownie, Chunky Monkey, Coffee Caramel Fudge, and P.B. & Cookies as the flavors.

I think I might have to check these concoctions myself and do a taste test of my own!

Here’s the verdict, posted on Huffington Post, for all the vegan flavors.

RANK #1 Coffee Caramel Fudge

Creamiest: This baffling creation tasted and felt like it was full of milk and dairy and all the creamiest creations. The coffee extract and caramel swirls balanced really well with the almond milk.

RANK #2 P.B. & Cookies

Less Creamy: You can’t really fool around with peanut butter and cookies — but it was a good call to mix it all with almonds (all the ingredients in all four flavors are vegan-certified, by the way).

RANK #3 Chunky Monkey

Getting Drier: This Ben & Jerry’s classic was nearly indistinguishable from its dairy doppelganger, it just wasn’t quite as creamy. The rocky road was just as crunchy though, with all the classic nuts and chocolate.

RANK #4 Chocolate Fudge Brownie

Oh, No It’s Obviously Not Ice Cream: This was the only one that really stood out as being made with almond milk. It had a much drier mouthfeel, almost chalky. However, the brownies, also vegan, were still delicious.

If you’d like to check out the Huffington Post article which announced the new flavors, click on this link:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/ben-and-jerrys-vegan_us_56b1215ce4b08069c7a549c7?ncid=txtlnkusaolp00000595

Taurine

Taurine

If you want to live to a ripe old age, you should make sure you have a steady supply of taurine to guarantee it. Taurine is an amino acid which is found in large concentrations in the brain, heart, retina and platelets. This amazing amino acid protects against heart failure, detoxes the liver, maintains electrolyte balance in the body, supports the immune system, and promotes insulin sensitivity. If you consume a diet which incorporates meat and fish, your taurine levels may be normal, but if you are vegetarian or vegan, chances are that you don’t have adequate levels of taurine in your body. Another factor is the fact that as we age, we become less efficient at producing taurine.

Those of you who lift weights may already be aware of the energy boosting effects of taurine supplementation, and may be already taking it in the form of a preworkout mix which typically has taurine as part of the blend. Taurine also expands muscle cells, increasing the volume and contributing to the ever so familiar “pump” that comes from an intense lifts. But the additional health benefits of taurine supplementation make it almost impossible to pass up.

Taurine supplements are inexpensive and you don’t have to take high doses. A good dosage for most people is 1.5 grams, but you can double the dosage if you wish. You may notice a metabolic boost and significant weight loss as a result of taking taurine supplements. Taurine also causes a drop in serum triglyceride levels, making it an acceptable alternative to prescription lipid-lowering agents. Any excess is excreted by the kidneys.