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“I’m Vegan and Always Hungry. Help!” Appetite Control and My Top Tips To Reduce Insatiable Hunger

Amongst its many jobs, the hypothalamus (in the brain) is responsible for appetite regulation by stimulating metabolic and behavioural responses to maintain energy balance. Many factors come into play here, including the roles and reactions of biological hormones and peptides as well as psychological cues.

A lot of people fear or find that when they cut out meat and dairy, essentially everything they have been conditioned to associate with protein, they won’t be satiated. Well, protein is indeed satiating, and lucky for us, it is in everything. So if it is protein you are worried about, simply ensuring you get enough calories daily should suffice to meet protein requirements (.8g/kg of body weight), read more here. While the effect of protein on appetite control is well-documented, increasing protein consumption beyond what is necessary does not appear to be helpful, and clearly shows a 75% increase in overall mortality, and a four-fold increase in cancer death risk! Interestingly, some experiments show that high animal-based protein diets might help with quick weight-loss and appetite control short-term, but these effects tend to dissipate after one year. Further, these diets deplete the bodies glycogen stores and the water that goes with them, so it stands to reason that participants lose (water) weight.

In one study, a vegetable-based meal (beans/peas) influenced appetite and energy intake favourably compared to an animal-based meal (pork/veal) with similar energy and protein content. Further, a vegetable-based meal with low protein content was as satiating and palatable as an animal-based meal with high protein content! So we can see, protein isn’t the only thing that is important to consider when it comes to appetite control!

Aside from protein, nutrient density and fibre are extremely important when it comes to satiety. Nutrient density is important because if you are eating nutrient-poor but calorie-rich foods (fast, processed, refined foods), your body may send you hunger signals, hoping that you choose to feed it the nutrients it so needs. There is ample evidence that increasing consumption of high-fibre foods may decrease feelings of hunger. High-fibre foods are shown to take a while to digest, controlling blood sugar, keeping you feeling fuller for longer, and having the added bonus of “cleansing” the system and feeding beneficial gut bacteria.

Without knowing an individuals diet, it is tricky for me to answer why they are feeling constantly hungry. A common mistake people make is forgetting to replace the meat in their meal with something else nutrient-dense e.g. a chicken salad, minus the chicken, will not fill you up. You must add staples like chickpeas, beans, lentils, brown rice, quinoa, nuts or seeds in place, to amp up the energy and nutrient-density, and thus the satiety.

Lastly, we are supposed to get hungry! “If I eat a vegan meal, I find I am hungry a few hours later”… Well, that is often a positive when transitioning to a vegan diet, we become more in tune with our appetite. We must stop looking at hunger as a bad thing. You need food to fuel your body to function, it is simply about choosing the right fuel. Waking up hungry, feeling hungry every 3-5 hours is a very natural, normal and healthy indicator of your body working efficiently. Food is not the enemy!

Hunger-fighting Tips:

– Replace the meat in your meal with something nutrient-dense, fibre-rich and substantial;

– Ensure you reach adequate protein daily through a variety of plant-sources: fruits and vegetables (everything adds up), beans, legumes and grains, tempeh and tofu, nuts and seeds. If you wish to incorporate a protein powder, you may, but that isn’t always necessary. Remember, sufficient calories = sufficient protein, read more on this here. Include beans and legumes in your diet, evidence suggests that such plant-proteins provide a longer feeling of satiety than animal proteins;

– Fill up on non-starchy vegetables – 3+ cups per meal is not too much! Go hard! Snack on these freely;

– Nutritious mini meals, such as the three S’s – salads, soups and smoothies – can also be snacks and are often healthier and satisfying than packaged and processed snack options;

– Think nutrient density – perhaps your body is craving nutrition rather than calories;

– Don’t deprive yourself of carbohydrates – carbohydrates are a mainstay in a plant-based diet. Gluten-free grains, legumes, beans, fruit… these foods are not to be feared. They are the bodies primary source of fuel, crucial for healthy brain, thyroid and digestive function and keeping you full, happy and healthy.

– Not too long, not too short, just right – Don’t wait too long between meals to the point where you are famished, make poor choices and guzzle your food, but don’t eat too soon, as we need time between meals to cleanse the digestive system! Aim to wait at least 2-3 hours;

– Plate your food – if snack items are out of reach, studies suggest you eat less. Ensure you are seated when eating, not on-the-go (or standing over the sink!);

– Do not inhale food – eat slowly and mindfully, away from distractions. Chew each bite 10-20 times. Set an alarm in your phone to go off after 20 minutes, this is a good guide for how long you should eat. Place utensils down between bites, and swallow each mouthful before going for another!

– Sleep – a lack of sleep actually leads to heightened appetite and less feelings of satisfaction after a meal due to its relationship with the hormones Ghrelin and Leptin. Essentially, it reduces the amount of leptin in your body, the “stop-eating” hormone;

– Ensure you are hydrated – Sometimes we mistake thirst for hunger, particularly with fruit cravings. Have a glass or two of water, wait a few minutes, then decide if you are truly hungry. Note: it is best to drink away from meals, so as not to dilute digestive enzymes needed to break down food;

– Apple cider vinegar – fights candida and may help with sugar cravings, bloating and stimulation of stomach acid;

Cinnamon – trials ustilising cinnamon as a means for blood sugar stabilisation, particularly in diabetics, have yielded mixed results. However, given the little downside, why not try it in meals. Be sure to choose Ceylon as opposed to Cassia (more common/cheap), due to potential coumarin toxicity;

– Phenylalanine – Is an amino acid thought to help suppress appetite, due to its relationship with the satiety hormone cholecystokinin. Bee pollen and chlorella (can be taken as tablets) are nutritious superfoods, rich in phenylalanine;

– Peppermint tea – may help suppress appetite, and is a lovely way to end a meal. Note: avoid if you are prone to reflux.

 

All About Protein

Protein… Definitely the most popular of the macronutrients! Fat has had its fair share of bad press, now it’s back to poor carbohydrates… But protein prevails. So, what is it about our devout obsession?

Let’s take a look…

What is protein? Protein is one of three of the macronutrients (the other two being carbohydrates and fat), and is made up of amino acids. Of the twenty amino acids found in protein, some can be made by the body, while it is essential we obtain others through diet i.e. essential amino acids.

What does it do? Amino acids are “the building blocks” for muscle tissue as well as required for the structure of bone, skin and hair. Proteins also support the creation of enzymes, hormones, vitamins and neurotransmitters all required for proper bodily function. (Note the words required and support, thus while extremely important, not the only nutrient we need!).

To understand nutrition, it helps to look at the origins of nutrients… All nutrients come from the sun (vitamin D) or the soil (everything else). For example, calcium in milk is only present due to the fact that the cow ate plants, which obtained calcium from the soil. The same goes for omega 3, iron, B12… the common nutrients under the firing squad when it comes to questioning the adequacy of the vegan diet.

Amino acids, are no exception. Just like humans, other animals don’t produce them either, they too obtain essential amino acids from their diet. Thus, all essential amino acids originate from plants and microbes.

As such, ALL plants have ALL essential amino acids, despite what you might commonly hear. The idea that they don’t was debunked by the scientific community decades ago, but for some reason, no one is talking about it. This notion that plant protein is inferior is based on studies conducted on rodents over a century ago, whereby baby rats didn’t grow as well eating plants. But rats have different requirements to us, because they actually grow 10 times faster! Reflecting this, their mothers milk has 10 times more protein in it than human mothers milk! Therefore, the two are incomparable.

The Protein Combining myth – the idea that vegans need to consume complementary sources of plant protein e.g. grains + beans, to obtain all essential amino acids. Whilst yes, some plant proteins are relatively low in certain essential amino acids, the body has the incredible ability of doing all the “complementing” for us – we have an efficient protein recycling program, whereby around 90g of protein is dumped into the digestive tract daily from our own body, broken down, reassembled and added to, effectively mixing and matching amino acids to the proportions we require. Amazing!

In fact, the very concept that protein combining was required was adamantly retracted by its propagator Frances Moore-Lappe in the edited edition of her book, Diet for a Small Planet, in which she wrote:

“In 1971 I stressed protein complementarity because I assumed that the only way to get enough protein … was to create a protein as usable by the body as animal protein. In combating the myth that meat is the only way to get high-quality protein, I reinforced another myth. I gave the impression that in order to get enough protein without meat, considerable care was needed in choosing foods. Actually, it is much easier than I thought… if people are getting enough calories, they are virtually certain of getting enough protein.”

Other researchers have also cleared up this myth:

 protein myths

Thus we do not need to be at all concerned about amino acid imbalances when the dietary amino acid supply is from the plant-food proteins that make up our usual diets.

But how much protein do I need? The Recommended Dietary Intake (RDI) for adults is based on the amino acids needed to maintain body tissues and replace losses. Believe it or not, this can easily be met. The calculation is simple: your weight in kg, divided by 0.75g for adult females, and 0.84g for adult males.

E.g. a 60 kg woman, aged 19-69 years old, would require 60 x 0.75 = 45g of protein/daily.

Note: it really requires intensive training to require significantly more than this amount e.g. moderate-elite endurance athletes.

What does 45 grams of protein look like? To give you some perspective…

  • 150g of fish or meat ranges from 30-40g protein;
  • 1 cup of beans/legumes is approximately 18g protein;
  • 1 cup quinoa is around 8g protein;
  • ½ cup dry oats 6g protein;
  • 1 handful almonds (28g) 6g protein;
  • 1 cup of broccoli 4g protein.

Why I show you this variety is to point out how with just one serving of meat, the woman in our example above would almost hit her quota. Yet surely she is eating other things throughout her day? Hopefully she is eating at least 5 servings of vegetables, which could add up to approx 5-20g. Let’s not forget a piece of fruit or two, some oats for breakfast, maybe a handful of nuts and seeds on her lunch. And boom! We are now well and truly over. Yet most people are intent on consuming animal protein at every meal, whether it be eggs or protein powder for breakfast, tuna for lunch and chicken for dinner!

My point… The rice in your sushi. The spinach in your salad. The peas next to your main. The pumpkin seeds atop your oats. The oats themselves! It. all. adds. up.

Sufficient calories = sufficient protein.

But wait, so what if I well exceed my “quota”? What’s the harm of too much protein? So glad you asked! Because no one really does! Well, higher protein diets, especially those obtained through excessive meat consumption, are linked to chronic diseases such as kidney disease, osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and certain cancers, not to mention the other uncomfortable conditions often associated such as constipation, IBS, bad breath, acne, hormonal imbalance and other lifestyle impedances. The type of fat, excess protein, natural carcinogens, synthetic hormones and antibiotics, the natural hormones in the animal and of course, the absence of fibre in all animal products all play a part in these problems. What’s more, pathogenic bacteria in our bodies thrive on accumulated excess, unused proteins (“junk protein”). However when we give our bodies a break from protein or consume it moderately, our natural recycling process, autophagy, is allowed to operate smoothly, breaking down these accumulated “junk proteins” into usable amino acids. Autophagic dysfunction is associated with cancer, neurodegeneration, microbial infection and aging. High protein diets have also recently been found to have adverse effects on metabolic function, because protein consumption reduces the bodies sensitivity to insulin after a meal. A quick note on high-protein diets for weight-loss, this statement really sums it up – they offer quick weight loss (a large part of which is attributed to the diuretic effect due to low-carbohydrate intake), that has been found to be unsustainable and carries negative health consequences. There are very few long-term studies on the safety and effectiveness of such diets.

Interestingly, whilst there has been no established upper limit i.e. highest amount one can consume safely, the Australian Nutrition Reference Values recommends consuming no more than 25% protein as energy…

A quick calculation I did of a 60kg 25 year old woman: consuming a whey protein smoothie with banana, berries, spinach, a chicken wrap for lunch, and a salmon fillet with salad in the evening, equals a total of around 80g of protein. That is without me adding in snacks, and many vegetables at all! That is very close to double her required intake, and approximately 35% of her diet sourced from protein. Yet this is a common dietary pattern amongst both women and men trying to stay “lean” by choosing animal protein breakfast, lunch and dinner.

See how easy it is to meet and exceed your required intake?

And whilst, vegan diets are likely to be lower in protein compared to the intake of meat-eaters (to vegan’s benefit, as we established above), this is generally because those eating meat consume far more than actually required of them.

My hope with this article is this:

  • Do not be afraid of not hitting your protein quota by following a plant-based diet;
  • Do not assume vegans lack protein;
  • Do not think of a vegan diet as lacking in nutrients;
  • Reassess your protein intake, whichever diet you choose to follow.

Eat for health & longevity, always.

Sami xo

 

4 ways with Tempeh

The beauty of tempeh is how easy it is to cook. Yet, I meet so many people afraid to give it a go! It has actually already been fermented, and thus, partly cooked, so unlike chicken, you really can’t undercook it.

Firstly, I have spoken about this before, but let’s reiterate that there is no good evidence suggesting traditional soy-foods like tempeh are detrimental to your health and should therefore be avoided. Tempeh is a healthful source of protein. Tempeh is made using the entire soybean, but it is fermented, making tempeh more easily digested and “antimutagenic” than unfermented beans, as well as making it a great source of vitamin K2 (bone, heart, brain and cancer protective nutrient).

Secondly, it is important to source non-GMO and organic varieties of tempeh. In Australia, Woolworths stocks Nutri-Soy, my go-to. I buy the unflavoured one to avoid cheap soy-sauces and other additives. Stick to the plain like me, and make your own flavours with the below suggestions.

Quick guide. Choose your tempeh variety by comparing it to meat options…

Pan-fried – chicken/fish replacement

Marinated – steak replacement

Ground – mince replacement

Crusted – schnitzel replacement

Using 1 x 300g packet of tempeh….

SIMPLE PAN-FRIED TEMPEH

½ tsp coconut oil, 2 cloves minced garlic and 1 tbsp tamari OR 1 tsp curry powder. Allow the garlic to heat for 3 mins before adding slices of tempeh. Cook first side for 3-4 minutes over medium heat, cover with tamari or spices, flip and cook the second side for a further 3 minutes. Serve with vegetables for a veggie stir-fry.

JUICY MARINATED TEMPEH STEAK

Boil tempeh whole for 30 minutes. Remove from pot and then marinate in 3 tbsp tamari, ½ lemon juice, 1 tbsp maple syrup, 2 cloves garlic, minced or 1 tsp dried for 1-3 hours. Once ready, fry whole 5 minutes each side. Slice into 4 servings and serve over veggies.

GROUND TEMPEH

Grind the tempeh by pulsing it in thirds in a food processor until it resembles mince. Then heat up your stove with a little coconut oil, just to coat, throw the tempeh mince in and pan fry with the following spices and condiments…

Mexican-inspired: ½ chopped brown onion, 2 cloves minced garlic and 1-2 tsp of spices like cumin, paprika, cajun, chili or a Mexican spice blend. Allow the onion and garlic to brown before adding the tempeh and spices. Pan-fry for 6 mins whilst stirring occasionally. Pair with brown rice and black beans.

Italian: ½ chopped brown onion, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 can organic diced tomatoes, 1 tsp dried Italian herbs or oregano, handful fresh chopped basil. Allow the onion and garlic to brown before adding the tempeh and spices. Pan-fry for 4 mins whilst stirring occasionally. Then add the diced tomatoes and pan-fry for a further 4 minutes. Lastly, add the basil, stir, remove from heat and serve over grains, roast veggies or pasta.

SESAME-CRUSTED TEMPEH

Preheat oven to 200 C. Prepare your “sticky” mixture of 1 tbsp flax meal soaked in 3 tbsp coco milk, 1 tsp tamari and ¼ tsp garlic powder. Allow it to soak for at least 10 minutes whilst you prep the rest. Place ¼ cup sesame seeds in a dry wide bowl. Slice the tempeh into thin-medium slices and dip each in the sticky mixture. Place onto a lined baking tray and sprinkle each slice with 1-2tsp sesame seeds. Press down on them with the back of the spoon. Bake for 25 minutes, flipping each after 15 minutes. Optional to sprinkle the other side with more sesame once flipped and before baking for the last 10 minutes.

A love note to Soy…

One of the most commonly asked questions I get is regarding the health of soy foods. I either hear that someone would love to go vegan but wants to avoid soy (which is fine, but also not necessary), or that they wish they “could” consume it, but are worried about relying on it as a source of plant-based protein because of all the negative implications they have heard from someone, somewhere. Regardless, my answer is the same! The right types of soy are unequivocally, a healthful choice. I talk more about the right types below.

Let’s look at the evidence in regard to some major concerns:

Soy contains oestrogen: No it actually doesn’t. It does however contain phytoestrogens (beneficial constituents of plants, also found in flaxseeds). This type of oestrogen “imitator” is not bad, but indeed, beneficial, with its naturally occurring oestrogenic activity. They adapt to what the specific individual needs, raising or lowering oestrogen levels accordingly. Regarding female fertility, a large-scale study at a fertility centre demonstrated improved birth rates in females consuming soy and undergoing fertility treatment. A note on menopause, women dealing with hot flashes found relief from soy products according to this study.

Soy makes men grow breasts: Nooo! Men’s sex hormones, including testosterone remain unaffected by consuming soy products. This study concluded that soy does not “exert feminizing effects on men at intake levels equal to and even considerably higher than are typical for Asian males.” Soy does not adversely effect semen quality, and a study at Harvard University found soy intake had no effect overall on male fertility.

Just so we are clear on this topic, I’d like to point out the ludicrously of these claims by illustrating that the milk from a cow comes from a female animal that has just given birth. Not only is this a much bigger animal than us, with a different hormonal profile, but just as humans, when cows give birth, their oestrogen levels elevate. Therefore, it stands to reason that the concerning source of oestrogen in the diet is cows milk! And so far, I’ve just mentioned the natural oestrogen (due to their recent pregnancy)… think about the hefty doses of synthetic hormones dairy livestock are injected with to increase their milk production! This only adds to the oestrogen load of most cows milk. Yuk!

Cancer growth and recurrence: research appears to indicate soy consumption has a positive effect on preventing or slowing down the growth of cancer. Phytoestrogens (present in soy) act as antioxidants and have anti-proliferative properties to inhibit tumour growth. Among women with breast cancer, soy food consumption has been significantly associated with decreased risk of death and recurrence. This study suggests that greater consumption of isoflavone-containing foods is associated with a reduced risk of endometrial cancer in postmenopausal women. Other analyses have found that soy foods are protective against prostate cancer in men.

Bone health: I hear you, don’t we need dairy to protect against osteoporosis? No, we don’t, and evidence suggests that populations consuming higher amounts of cows milk actually have higher incidence of osteoporosis versus populations who don’t. There are a number of reasons for this, namely, the acidity of the milk causing greater calcium excretion from the body. However, I thought it apt to point out that whilst soy generally does contain less calcium, it contains triple the amount of magnesium, a vital mineral for bone maintenance. Indeed, the latest research suggests soy milk is actually much better for bone health. Interestingly, the beneficial isoflavones (types of phytoestrogens) in soy are thought to inhibit the breakdown of bones. For example the isoflavone Daidzein, is actually used to create the drug ipriflavone, which is used to treat osteoporosis.

Hypothyroidism and soy: Soy products do not cause hypothyroidism and hypothyroid adults need not avoid soy foods. However, the isoflavones  in soy may potentially reduce iodine availability, required for healthy thyroid hormone production. It is therefore suggested that people who consume soy might need slightly more iodine in their diets (which we can get from sea veggies like dulse and nori).

***There is always conflicting evidence and debate around the statistical significance of the findings in such studies. However whether there is no benefit, little benefit, or substantial benefit, I am yet to find a negative finding regarding soy, and that should be the message we hear loud and clear.

At the end of the day, the fear around soy seems to stem from a few sources:

  • The grouping of all soy together – the bad: i.e. concentrated soy proteins and soy-derivatives used to thicken or emulsify products (often non-vegan products too), GMO, non-organic, non-traditional varieties such as highly-processed faux soy meats + the good: i.e. traditional sources of soy, non-GMO and organic such as tempeh, tamari, miso, natto and even a little good quality tofu from time to time is ok. So too is edamame. Combining the good and the bad like this is akin to saying that the questionable ground meat in a fast food chain burger is the same quality as the meat from your local organic butcher (whilst I don’t think either meat is healthy, this is a helpful comparison!);
  • Rare cases of harm due to consumption of ridiculously large amounts of soy on a daily basis;
  • Similar to point 1 above, because soy is grown in ginormous quantities and added to absolutely everything, including often unhealthy packaged foods, it is viewed negatively, similarly to corn. Again, non-GMO and organic varieties in their wholefood form are fine!; and
  • Poorly-conducted research based and/or articles by groups with vested interests e.g. the Weston A Price Foundation (WAPF).

 

Soy sources to include:

organic and non-GMO edamame and fermented sources such as tempeh, natto, miso, tamari (easiest to digest and assimilate). Whilst soy milk and tofu are more processed, organic varieties from time-to-time if you really enjoy them are not going to negatively impact your health and should not be feared.

I am not claiming soy to be a miraculous cure-all, I am simply pointing out that there is a lot of good evidence indicating its benefits, and that you should feel confident in including it as part of a plant-rich varied diet (if you so choose). 

 

My Vegan Superfood Staples

Ever since turning 100% plant-based, I have become fascinated with all of natures sources of beautiful and beneficial nutrients. What many of us are unaware of is how every nutrient we need comes from the sun (vitamin D), or the earth (everything else). Therefore, in terms of optimal absorption and utilisation, it makes sense to consume them from the primary source. Here is a list of my vegan staples, all of which are brimming with nutrition and make me feel energised and satisfied, not to mention I feel they have helped my skin, hair and nails become smoother, stronger and healthier overall. I actually manage to incorporate most of these in one single meal – my superfood lunch salads. It might seem like a lot, but they each add so much flavour and texture that you begin to crave them! I hope you find them intriguing, try them out and feel the difference in your own body 🙂

Nutritional yeast – brimming with key vitamins and minerals it is also a complete protein (with 18 amino acids), containing 71% protein by weight! Stress and poor diet deplete B vitamins so we could all do with a little dietary boost. Nutritional yeast is a great source of B’s, which offer us assistance with energy levels, brain health, fat metabolism, sleep quality, and hair growth. Note, unless fortified with B12, nutritional yeast is not a reliable source. As a guide, 3 tbsp of nutritional yeast = 9g protein! I often sprinkle this amount on a big green salad, soup, or in a veggie mash.

Sea vegetables – dulse and nori are my go-to’s, but I occasionally also enjoy other varieties such as wakame or kelp (particularly high in iodine). Sea vegetables are full of trace minerals that we don’t usually have access to, specifically iodine. Iodine ensures healthy thyroid function, which is important for metabolism, energy levels and hormonal balance. Sea veggies are a great way to replace salt in a meal, as they are naturally salty and arguably, more nutritious. Another hair-loving nutritious source, they also contain vitamins A, E, B6 and B12, iron, zinc, calcium, potassium and magnesium! Powerful stuff!

Saurkraut/kim-chi – fermented veggies are living foods! This means they contain active enzymes which help digest our food, as well as good bacteria called probiotics that ensure healthy gut function, and B vitamins. All this assists immunity and digestive health for optimal wellbeing. I try have about 2-3 tbsp at least once a day.

Chia/flax – just 1 tbsp a day can ensure you meet your omega-3 quota! Omega-3 is important for many things including hormonal balance, brain health and nerve function. These two seeds also provide you with healthy doses of insoluble AND soluble fibre which helps with blood sugar/appetite control, steady energy levels, and healthy colon function. Flax also provides us with lignans, cancer-protective and important for heart health. Try 1 tbsp of either in bircher/porridge, flax on top of a stir-fry, or sip on a few tsp chia in your water throughout the day (you won’t even taste it!).

Hemp seeds – 3 tbsp = 11g easily assimilated protein for long, lean muscles! This is one of natures most concentrated sources of essential fatty acids, particularly GLA. I don’t have this every day, but try to have it on a particularly active day. When I do I sprinkle it on my oats or enjoy it in/on top of a smoothie.

Quinoa/brown rice/oats/millet – I try to rotate the grains I use as much as possible to ensure a broad spectrum of different nutrients, as each grain has a different nutrient profile. One of the best thing that has come out of me going vegan is my new-found appreciation for quality carbohydrates, ridding myself of any trace of “Carbophobia” I definitely once had. The truth is, we are designed to eat carbohydrates as a mainstay in our diet (we produce the digestive enzyme amylase, which break down carbs, whilst some other animals don’t), and thus carbs are required for optimal muscle and brain function. These grains are gluten-free (oats contain trace amounts of gluten in Australia due to crop rotation, but they seem to be fine with most people, and if not, you can source gluten-free oats usually from abroad). Fantastic for amino acids (protein), B vitamins and fibre, these either go in my breakfast (oat or quinoa porridge), in my lunch-time salads, or with a stir-fry/curry for dinner. Complex carbohydrates like these keep me full, energised, non-irritable, and focused.

Parsley – a great vegan source of antioxidants and loads of vitamins and minerals like iron, try my tabbouleh for a healthy hit! You can also throw a bit of parsley into a green smoothie, juice or salad regularly to up your dose. As a powerful natural detoxifier and diuretic that prevents bloating, water retention and cellulite, it’s a goodie.

Miso – think of it it as vegan bone broth! This is a great gut-loving, plant-based alternative, that is soothing and provides enzymes and probiotics to promote healthy digestive function. Note, you must choose unpasturised miso, in order to reap these benefits. Alkalising, anti-viral, immune-boosting, cancer-preventative, antioxidant-rich and great for digestion… perfect as a snack with some sea veg (bonus points!) or used in salad dressings, try to incorporate it regularly.

Sprouts / Microgreens – the most powerful foods for cellular regeneration and health, sprouts are up to 50 x more nutritious than their mature counterparts!! They provide antioxidants, protein, enzymes and minerals that are easy to absorb and utilise.

Non-negotiable Green Drink – this one isn’t so much a food as a meal/snack, but it definitely is part of my everyday routine and something I source an abundant amount of nutrition from. Brimming with greens, I make sure I have one of these each day to slot in a huge amount of dietary fibre (it is usually a smoothie with over 3 servings of greens, but if I am out and about, it might be a juice), antioxidants and vitamins and minerals. A power-packed green drink is really the best energiser, I feel cleansed and incredibly vibrant after mine!

My favourite Fast Foods…

When we hear the words “fast food”, all kinds of nasty thoughts enter our minds, right?! Fast food chains, instant and artificial powdered vegetables, frozen minute-meals, or unhealthy snack foods (often disguised as healthy, I’m looking at you, muesli bars)… the list goes on. Basically things that are cheap and convenient. However, grab-and-go foods don’t have to be so nutritionally deficient. Here are some of my absolute favourite fast fixes when I am on the go…

  1. Seaweed – whether it’s a 5 minute nori roll consisting of raw vegetable sticks, avocado and tahini, or simply munching on a sheet or two, I love seaweed for a salty snack. It is rich in vitamins and minerals that are not always plentiful in land vegetables, such as thyroid-healthy iodine. Even better, throw a few broken pieces in a miso soup (another amazing fast food!) for a delicious seaweed and miso gut-healthy broth. Try for the untoasted vatiety.
  2. Carrot – I snack on 1-2 carrots a day! I love their starchy quality, and find them so, so satisfying even when I want something sweet. I generally just wash them, without even peeling their skin, making them even faster to prepare! A lot of quality nutrition is found in the peels of fruit and vegetables, and carrots are an easy one to leave on. Vitamin A rich, in the form of Beta-Carotene, they are fabulous for healthy skin and eyes, and should be a regular part of our diets. Enjoy on their own, grated with some lemon, or grab a little dip as well – hummus, baba ganoush, tahini, pesto etc.
  3. ¼-1/2 avocado – I could eat avocado all day! On it’s own, with a squeeze of lemon, in a sheet of seaweed (double points!), or on a rice/corn thin. So creamy and satisfying, avocados are full of the good monounsaturated fats, as well as skin-moisturizing antioxidants such as vitamins, A, C, E.
  4. Chickpeas – Yep, I sometimes just grab a tin of organic chickpeas, drain them, rinse and enjoy solo or with some salt and cajun spice. Of course, crispy roasted chickpeas or hummus dip is also a great way to get them in, however when you are in a pinch, a can of chickpeas are a much more nutritious alternative to popcorn or chips, and can be better than nuts for those of us who tend to overeat on them! They contain a good amount of iron, zinc, folate, potassium, fibre, protein, and phytates, and have been found to stabilise blood sugar, well after the meal they are consumed with. Plus overall, beans and legumes are associated with longer life!
  5. Mung bean sprouts – Definitely the healthiest snack! Again, a little better for our waistline then eating an abundance of nuts (which by all means are healthful, just are often eaten in excess which can inhibit weight loss if that is your goal). These beauties are crunchy, satisfying by the handful and powerful for cellular regeneration and health, being up to 50 x more nutritious than their mature counterparts!! Sprouting actually enhances the nutrient value of the seed, packing it with efficiently absorbed vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients and enzymes. In fact, the sprouting process works as a form of “per-digestion”, expelling digestive inhibitors ensuring these beneficial nutrients are more available and thus better absorbed.
  6. Banana – I used to be terrified of bananas. Perhaps terrified is a bit dramatic, but I definitely viewed them as a treat. Not any longer! I have at least ½ a day. Frozen bananas straight from the freezer are an amazing sweet treat, they taste just like ice cream, and a perfectly ripened regular banana is the ultimate on-the-run snack that provides delicious dietary fibre, potassium, antioxidants and B vitamins.
  7. Dried figs – Another thing I used to view as a treat, which now, I enjoy a few times a week 🙂 Dried figs have such a great texture! Is it strange I don’t really like the fresh ones? Dried are actually higher in calcium, making them a great vegan source, and also contain more soluble fibre and less sugar than dates. One or two are the perfect sweet snack, and are even better when stuffed with a couple of raw nuts, or sprinkle of cinnamon.
  8. Kale chips – we all know the benefits of the almighty kale – fibrous and nutrient packed (iron, calcium, vitamins A, C, K), it is antioxidant-rich, anti-inflammatory, cholesterol-lowering and extremely detoxifying. Whilst kale chips aren’t always the quickest to make at home, they are a great options when out and about looking for a quick snack to grab from your local health food store, that is easy to eat on the go. Sometimes they come with a cashew and/or nutritional yeast crust, making them even more nutritious and satisfying! For an at-home version, try my recipe here.
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