In This Issue:
Hello, and happy summer!
The weather is beautiful here in the Pacific Northwest, and it’s the perfect time to spend a few minutes outside each day (if you don’t already). Breathing fresh air is both invigorating and calming, and it also provides the opportunity for you to get some of that all-important Vitamin D. Even if it’s overcast or rainy, ten or fifteen minutes of outdoor time each day, walking slowly and focusing on your breath, will benefit your mood.
Summer is, of course, the time when I wind up traveling for both business and pleasure. I’ll be giving my new talk, “How to Look and Feel Beautiful — Inside and Out,” at the following locations over the next two months:
Foster City, CA – September 10, 2009
Las Vegas, NV – September 17, 2009
For more information on how to get tickets to these events, click here.
Lastly, I’m very excited to announce that the CD version of Do You Have the Guts to Be Beautiful? is in the final stages of production, and will be available on our website in the next few weeks. We are now offering a generous pre-order discount to celebrate this new release.
Here’s to your health,
Dr. Mitra Ray
One comment that I’ve heard over and over since I began promoting a whole-foods, plant-based diet is the following: “I tried being a vegetarian but I got sick and I felt tired all the time. I needed more protein.” Protein is not the problem. For a person who makes the switch from the standard American diet, full of animal products and processed foods, detoxification is the problem.
Food is medicine. Healthful, nutrient rich foods can cure a variety of ills, and unhealthy foods can make you sick. And just like drugs, when you stop eating the “bad” foods, your body goes through withdrawal. But here’s the thing: once the (admittedly bothersome) withdrawal passes, a person following a varied, whole-food, plant-based diet will feel far healthier, and have more energy, than they ever have before.
Bread, flour, most pastas, and white rice are all addictive (being that they’re refined carbohydrates, essentially sugar). When you quit any addictive substance, it’s typical to experience headaches, body aches, fatigue, diarrhea, etc. Sugar lurks, unsuspecting, in almost everything we eat: condiments, crackers, breakfast cereal, canned goods – they’re not only loaded with low-nutrient carbs, they’re often packed with extra sugar or corn syrup. So it’s not just quitting soda pop and candy bars; often, it means quitting the very foods that made up the bulk of your diet. And it’s the absence of these foods that contribute to the sugar withdrawal.
Perhaps one of the worst foods in terms of addiction and withdrawal is dairy. The casein in cheese is an opiate making cheese so addictive that some people find it harder to quit dairy than to quit cigarettes. And “just a little bit of cheese” is sort of like “just a little bit of cigarette.” You can’t really quit if you keep dabbling, and your body’s desire for it can return full-force. So a person who quits dairy cold turkey will often experience symptoms of withdrawal, and they’ll mistakenly assume that they’re sick because of their newly vegetarian diet, believing that they need more protein.
But adding more animal-protein to your diet is not the way to give yourself more stamina and energy, or to get rid of that withdrawal headache. In this culture, we’re obsessed with protein. Dieters embrace high-protein diets because to many people they make sense: our own muscles and organs are largely made up of protein, so we must therefore need large amounts of protein to sustain them, right?
In fact, this is wrong. While we do need protein, we need far less of it than most people think. Even the more “balanced” diets, like the Zone, that propose a 40-30-30 caloric breakdown (40% of your calories from protein, 30% from carbohydrates, and 30% from fat) are way off. We actually need less than 10% of our calories from protein, and the vast majority (greater than 80%) of our calories should come from nutrient dense, complex-carbohydrate sources, i.e. vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans and legumes.
The high-protein diets do get one thing right: refined carbohydrates are not good for you. But this means white flour, sugar, and anything processed. Forget what you think you know about the Glycemic index: potatoes, sweet potatoes, and bananas are some of the best foods that you can eat. And you know what? They all have protein in them.
In fact, all vegetables, grains, beans, seeds, and legumes contain protein. If you follow a whole-food, plant-based diet, and you eat a wide variety of foods, you’ll get more than enough protein. Children who primarily eat fruit, vegetables, and grains do not suffer from protein deficiency either. In fact, you’ve likely never met an American who suffers from too-little protein. In the third world, there are people who indeed suffer from protein deficiency, but these people are actually starving to death, and are suffering from food deficiency… lentils, rice, and vegetables would provide them with all the protein that they need. One cup of cooked lentils contains a whopping 18 grams of protein. A cup of cooked wild rice provides 7 grams. A medium-sized baked potato with the skin has about 5 grams of protein, as does an ear of corn.
If you worry that following a whole-food, plant-based diet will leave you protein deficient, then make an effort to have legumes or beans at least once a day. This combined with whole grains will take care of your protein needs, especially if you’re also eating a fistful or two or raw, unsalted nuts (try soaking them overnight in a bit of water), and if you’re including seeds like flax and sesame in your diet.
And don’t forget that there’s even protein in your broccoli, cherries, and artichokes.
Vacations and business travel can wreak havoc on our digestive systems and general health. When we’re in a hurry, or when we’re traveling with children, it’s easy to turn to unhealthy choices because we’re either pressed for time, or because there are so many other things to think about that it seems more convenient to just pull into a drive-thru.
A bit of planning ahead will make all the difference, and you and your kids will feel better and enjoy your trips that much more. Here are a few suggestions for how to continue to eat healthy, even when in airports or on road trips:
1. When you’re in an airport, or at a highway rest-stop/convenience store, if you see fresh fruit or salad without cheese or meat, buy it – regardless of the outrageous prices. As galling as it can be to spend so much, consider this: you vote with your money. As more people buy and demand real, whole foods, they will become more available, and less expensive.
2. When you do get to your destination, find a health food store. You can search online ahead of time and then you’ll be prepared with a map, directions, and store hours. If you find yourself in a town with no health food stores, grocery stores everywhere still do have cereal, fruit, and vegetables. Then go shopping for:
a) muesli or oatmeal for breakfast
b) raw nuts like almonds, walnuts, cashews, pumpkin seeds, etc.
c) hummus to go with carrots, celery, peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, etc.
d) fresh fruit
note: I travel with a small cutting board and knife. Buy these before your next trip, and just remember not to pack them in your carry-on.
3. Be sure to travel with Juice Plus Complete®. You can always make a quick shake with rice milk, oat milk, almond milk, hemp milk, etc., or even water. Don’t forget to pack a BPA-free bottle for making your shake, like the new BPA-free Nalgene bottles.
4. Use the coffeemaker in your hotel rooms to heat up water for your muesli or oatmeal, and add a half-scoop or so per serving of Juice Plus Complete® to your to your cereal – it’s delicious! Add some fresh fruit to your cereal, if you have that on hand.
5. If you have your breakfast and snacks handled, then just be strict about what you order when you have to eat in restaurants. Again, do some research beforehand to find any vegetarian restaurants because they adapt to vegan recipes and are more prepared and willing to take special requests. But even at the most fancy restaurants, vegetarian or no, I tell the wait staff that my doctor has me on a strict vegan diet, preferably oil and fat-free. What can the cook make me? I will eat any vegetable raw or steamed, and I love potatoes or plain rice. When some of the vegetable side dishes look interesting, I will ask them to create a vegetable dish for me with all of the vegetables available.
6. Drink lots and lots of water when you travel.
7. Here’s a non-food tip for air travel. Before going on airplanes, rub some Vaseline in your nose. This will help prevent the dehydration in the nose that inhibits the proper filtering of the air (which is one of the things that makes it easier for you to catch a bug).
This recipe was given to me by Christy Tom. The dish is good chilled as a summer salad, but it’s delicious when it’s hot and fresh.
- 1 package (16 oz) linguine (try rice pasta or quinoa pasta)
- 1 cup pine nuts
- 5 large cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup water
- ¾ tsp dried red pepper flakes
- 12 oz washed and trimmed spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
- ¾ cup loosely packed chopped, fresh basil
- 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, cut to desired size
- optional: finely ground cashew nuts*
Cook pasta according to package directions. Meanwhile, dry-toast pine nuts in a large wok or skillet, stirring constantly, for 3 – 5 minutes, until fragrant. Remove and set aside. In same pan, sauté garlic and pepper flakes in ½ cup water for 1 minute. Stir in spinach and toss over high heat until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Add more water (a few tablespoons at a time) if necessary. Try not to overcook the spinach.
Drain pasta and put in large bowl. Add spinach, pine nuts, tomatoes, basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.
* Finely ground cashews are a great substitute for Parmesan cheese when sprinkled onto your favorite dishes
This super yummy recipe was also sent to me by my friend, Christie Tom. I strongly recommend doubling the recipe because it is sooooo good that you’ll want to have it more than once.
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeds and ribs removed, thinly sliced
- ¾ pound kale, tough stems removed, leaves washed and well shredded (about 1 quart)
- 1.5 pounds sweet potatoes (about 3), peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes
- (note: I also like to substitute half new potatoes, and keep half sweet potatoes… it’s really good both ways)
- 1.5 quarts low sodium vegetable broth, or homemade vegetable stock
- 1.5 tsps salt
- 1 cup canned unsweetened coconut milk
- 1 cup brown rice
Put onion, garlic, jalapeno, potatoes, vegetable broth, and salt in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook brown rice separately (1 cup water to one cup rice).
Add coconut milk to soup once the potatoes are cooked all the way through, and let simmer for 5 minutes. Add kale at the very end and allow to wilt for just a couple of minutes.
Serve soup with a scoop of brown rice in each bowl
Several readers have been asking us about the Vita-Mix machines we mention in our recent book. We have worked out a special relationship with Vita-Mix to offer our readers free shipping ($25US/$35CN).
Click here to order directly through Vita-Mix and use this eight digit code: 06-004250.
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