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Showing posts with label health and fitness. Show all posts
Showing posts with label health and fitness. Show all posts

What are your antioxidant levels? Protect yourself!

I was at a New Living Expo in San Francisco this weekend.   I saw this scanner that measures your bodies antioxidant levels. It was featured on Dr. Oz in his episode about the importance of antioxidants to protect your body from diseases like heart disease, cancer, ageing.  It is also immune boosting.  Read here 

I was sitting next to a woman who asked the woman who was testing her,  'what do I need to do to get into the top blue level?'.  I was waiting for my results at the time.  I got 64K!  High Presence of antioxidants. I said to her…. 

'Eat more greens.  LOVE KALE.  Eat more PLANTS.  In the very least, Embrace Meatless Monday  or better still adopt a low-fat vegan diet.  
Be a non-smoker.  
Don't drink alcohol. 
Walk lots, and zumba your bootie off as often as you can!'

Get some colour on your plate!

Be well

India Leigh xo


As Featured in the Sunday Telegraph Magazine - My Magazine Debut!

Centre Spread!

As 2012 was nearing a close I was contacted by a journalist interested in my raw food diet.  I was so excited!

She was curious if raw food had had any effect on my health.  Understatement!  I told her all about how I got my energy back, lost excess weight and felt sexy again, by juicing every day.  Forget 5 a-day.    I'm hitting the 8!

She sent a great photographer Dan Burn-Forti to snap me.  I was keen to impress so I put together a selection of raw food dishes to show off for the shoot.  Collard wraps with spicy cashew cheese.  Kale chips (come on, what self respecting raw foodist would not ever be more than ten feet from a kale chip!).  ALT Raw Bread Sandwich -   Avocado.  Lettuce. Tomato and a dollop of cashew mayo.  Raw Indian spiced Coconut chips.  And a whopping great big Raw Hazelnut Cacao tart.  A live FEAST.

Christmas came and went and January arrived with the rush of magazines and their 'healthier new you' articles.  Imagine my pride when I opened up the glossy supplement and saw the article.  My mum held back the tears as she popped on her reading glasses and spotted her daughter in a well regarded Sunday supplement!
Though I did suffer the experience of a little journalistic 'embellishment'.    I was spooning sweet and spicy butternut squash soup into my mouth as I read that apparently 'I will never eat cooked food again'.
I hope my story managed to inspire some people, even if it is just opening their eyes to the awesome possibility of getting more nutritionally packed live food into their regular diet.

The front cover.

I think 2013 is going to be an even better year!

Be well,

India xx


Protein 101 - Your questions answered. And a 'day in the life' study revealed.

It is almost the ‘grab it off the shelf’ stock-phrase used when addressing a vegan.  Where do you get your protein?
Why?  My guess is that the meat and dairy industry have been drumming the protein campaign into society for so long, Chinese whispers began the idea protein could only be sourced from animals and so vegans will keel over in the street from lack of it...or something.   Of course, like many things people tell us, this is just not true.  Scientists and environmentalists, The UN, are all now urging us to look to plant sources of protein.

Most of the time when anyone raises this question it is highlighting a real concern from someone who is toying with the idea of  dropping meat, and need to be sure it is right for them.

I hope this post is going to dispel any myths, give you a start point to begin your transition, and lead you to the most delicious meals and a body who thanks you for it.

We are going to address;

what protein does, 
where you can get it 
the cost of plant-based protein vs. meat
what happens if you eat too much. I include a handy online calculator to determine if you are getting enough.  I also reveal a 'day in the life' and show you exactly what I ate in a day and the surprising results.  

By the end of this article you will have all the information you need to know about protein, and where you can access extra info.

So firstly, lets find out…

What does protein do?
Proteins are made up of amino acids. Think of amino acids as the building blocks. There are 20 different amino acids that join together to make all types of protein. Some of these amino acids can't be made by our bodies, so these are known as essential amino acids. It's essential that our diet provide these. 
  • Protein is necessary for the building and repair of body tissues.
  • It produces enzymes, hormones, and other substances the body uses.
  • It regulates body processes, such as water balancing, transporting nutrients, and 
  • making muscles contract.
  • Protein keeps the body healthy by resisting diseases that are common to malnourished people.
  • Prevents one from becoming easily fatigued by producing stamina and energy

How much protein do you need a day?
This is calculated according to age, gender, body size, physical activity, and health status. 
The math is -  
1. Weight in pounds divided by 2.2 = weight in kg
2. Weight in kg x 0.8-1.8 gm/kg = protein gm.
Use a lower number if you are in good health and are sedentary (i.e., 0.8). Use a higher number (between 1 and 1.8) if you are under stress, are pregnant, are recovering from an illness, or if you are involved in consistent and intense weight or endurance training.
Example: 154 lb male who is a regular exerciser and lifts weights
154 lbs/2.2 = 70kg
70kg x 1.5 = 105 gm protein/day                                   

Here is a simple online protein calculator Recommended Protein Intake Calculator

As a guide - 

Recommendation for an adult male vegan -      56-70gms per day
Recommendation for an adult female vegan  - 46-58gms per day     

Increased protein needs during pregnancy and breast-feeding are usually met by the extra calories from eating more food.Our protein needs can change dramatically when we're injured or sick. They may double in the short term. The body gets this extra supply mostly from muscle, and it may take a month or more to restore the nutrients used up in the body while it fights off an infection or recovers from injury.
Because infants and children are growing, they need more protein than adults in proportion to their body weight. Children on a varied, balanced diet usually get enough protein as long as they are getting enough calories. That's an important consideration for vegan children.

Where can you get your protein?

protein source
serving size
protein in grams
1 cup
Tofu, firm
4 ounces
Soybeans, cooked
1 cup
Lentils, cooked
1 cup
1 cup
Chickpeas, cooked
1 cup
Peas, cooked
1 cup
Veggie burger
1 patty
1 med.
(3 oz)
Quinoa, cooked
1 cup
peanut butter
2 Tbs
brown rice, cooked
1 cup
potato, cooked
1 med.(6 oz)
broccoli, cooked
1 cup
spinach, cooked
1 cup
almond milk
200 ml (glass)
goji berries
2 Tbsp
sunflower seeds
1/4 cup
1 link
hemp seeds
1 cup
1/4 cup
1/4 cup
mushrooms (portabella)
1 cup
corn pasta



carob flour 
1 cup

1 cup 

1 cup

1 cup



USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 18, 2005 and manufacturers' information.

Broccoli provides the greatest amount of protein per calorie in comparison to beef.   Green vegetables are rich in protein and relatively low in calories.  They contain lots of vitamins and minerals too.  Along with lots of fibre.  As you can see, filling up with mostly plant based protein, and legumes is better for weight loss/management and health.

Do I have to eat protein with every meal?

You don't have to have protein at every meal.  The myth of eating 'protein with a grain' is that - a myth.  It is what you eat throughout a day that counts.
Take a look at yourself: Do you look good, feel good, maintain optimum weight, and have good muscle tone? Does your hair and nails grow quickly? Do your wounds heal well? Are you generally healthy, and recover quickly from illness? If so, then we must be getting enough protein!

The results of my snapshot of one day of meals..

I journaled a day of my meals to see my level of protein intake, for that day.  It was just a regular day, nothing fancy to eat.  I choose to analyse the day before I wrote this article so I didn't have any influence on the results.

I used a really sII
I was quite surprised by the results!
Obviously, I ate way too much protein today.  But tomorrow, I may eat less.  Actually, I am following a kind of zig zag or fill/hold back pattern to my eating.  Not consciously, but I may feel hungry one day and not so much the next, so I may just juice later in the morning, skip lunch and have dinner, but only if I don't feel hungry.  If I am hungry, I eat.  If I eat too much one meal,  I'll just skip a meal to even it out.  Obviously, if I have eaten more than sufficiently then I don't need to pile in more.  After all the body gets overloaded and stress and it just gives you wind and makes you feel bad.  Consequences=discipline!  
Obviously, getting your main protein sources from  nuts and seeds would overload your fat intake, so be sensible.  For weight loss and maintenance eat mainly vegetables/legumes and just a handful of nuts/seeds a day.

Cost comparrison of vegan protein vs. meat 

A friend of mine was asking about the cost differential of plant-based protein and meat. I knew from experience that eating a plant based diet was cheaper, but I'd never done any official comparisons. 
I sourced costings online and completed a few calculations.  Here is the cost per 100g of organic meat and legumes.  I choose to look at chicken, beef & chickpeas.  The findings of protein content differs in the chicken depending on whether it was enclosed in a small space in a factory (10-20g of protein) or allowed to roam (20-40g).
100g chicken = 20g of protein.  Cost=£1.20
100g beef      = 26g of protein.  Cost=£1.50
100g chickpeas = 9g protein      Cost= 26p

Vegan. Not only better for your body then!  Plant-based protein is so much cheaper.

I then got all geeky and found a food carbon footprint calculator to determine the kg of C02 produced per 1 lb of production per product.  I set them all to a 1400miles transport.
chicken = 1.5kg emissions per pound in weight
beef      = 7.kg emissions per pound in weight
chickpeas = 0.4g emissions per pound in weight

Now, I am sure you do not need any more convincing!  Lets talk eating!
A few suggestions for some delcious protein-rich meals:

buckwheat pancakes
over night gluten free oats
green smoothies
guacamole on corn tortilla

Lunch or entree/main


Basically, get the protein grammage in your mind for your staples, be they; Amaranth, kale, spinach, avocado, tempeh (fermented so healthier than tofu), nuts, legumes, potatoes, rice, buckwheat,mushrooms, or whatever,  then just do a quick sum in your head and approximate.  No one wants to have to get the calculator out every time they eat, do they? One to two cups of beans or a protein packed superfood - quinoa or amaranth for example, a day, perhaps a small handful of nuts/seeds, and lots of greens should be about right.

from www.purelifenutrimedics.com
Remember, guidelines are based on your levels of activity, age, stress, etc so do use the calculator and adjust to your life situation.  But rest assured, being vegetarian or vegan, if you are eating a wide variety of whole foods you are doing A ok.  

Now I have actually calculated my intake I can 100% feel confident about my diet.  So when anyone asks 'are you getting enough protein?', I can smile and say…YES!

What happens if you eat too much?  

Some researchers say it excess protein is just taken away as waste, some say it negatively
 impacts the liver and kidneys if you are consuming too much animal protein.  Cited as 

The high-protein diet of meat eaters robs their body of calcium, as cited by Dr. Neil Nedley,
MD, author of “Proof Positive (How to Reliably Combat Disease and Achieve Optimal Health 
through Nutrition and Lifestyle).” He wrote that research evidence has indicated that an 
excessive diet of animal protein increases the risk of osteoporosis. “Study after study indicate 
that eating meat can cause a loss of calcium from the body. Research done at the University 
of Wisconsin illustrated particularly well the harmful effects of excess protein.”
Studies of Linkswiller and associates in 1981 involving three groups showed that the high 
protein intake group lost calcium every day simply because of their high protein consumption. 
The excessive protein was leeching calcium from their bones even though they were getting 
plenty of calcium in their diet.
Dr. CM Weaver and Associates at Purdue University also cited in their study that humans 
absorb as much or more of the calcium in plant products than they do from milk (sourced from animals). The group’s study also revealed that although milk has a high calcium content, 60
 to 80 percent of it is not absorbed through the human intestine.
Stronger bones
Pitchford cited further reasons vegetarians have stronger bones and fewer calcium 
deficiencies in general:
• The digestion of meat results in acids must be neutralized by calcium and other alkaline
• Flesh protein contributes to a phosphorus/calcium ratio in Americans four times greater 
than desirable.


Happy Cow 


How to transition to a Vegan Plant-based Diet or just increase intake of vegetables and whole foods

Many people ask me how hard it is to stop eating dairy and meat and how to replace, what has been for probably all of their lives until now, a majority factor of their diet. I don't come across many who are not interested in eating a healthier, cleaner diet, and who wouldn't like to reduce or cease their meat intake. I don't think there is any one method for all. Some people are afraid of giving up cheese, some don't know what to eat for breakfast if it isn't the customary (in the West at least) milk drenched cereal or buttered toast. All worry about their protein intake. 

There are 4 things I would say are the easiest to embrace when that moment strikes and you know you want to be healthier and turn to a plant-based diet.

 1. Increase your intake of vegetables, especially green leafy veg and fruit. If you can, invest in a good quality juicer (about £100..will last you for years)and start every day with a green juice (kale, spinach, apple, ginger, turmeric, fresh beetroot, celery, cucumber, kiwi) That alone will make a HUGE difference to your health and energy levels. 

2. Exercise. Even if it is just two 10 minute walks a day. It will help your digestion, hasten the detox and make you feel empowered. 

3. Drink AT LEAST 8 large glasses of water a day. Be it straight from the tap (you can focus on the healthiest way to intake water at a later stage) or in herbal teas. If you don't like plain water then fill up a jug and add lime juice, sliced cucumber, fresh strawberries etc to flavour your water. 

4. Replace the dairy. Experiment with alternative milks and butters and cheese. I personally LOVE Kara coconut milk and find it very adaptable and versatile. Almond milk is delicious too as is quinoa milk. Make sure you buy unsweetened as you do not want to be adding extra sugar to your diet. Pure make a really great tasting sunflower spread. You can also do like the Mediterraneans and use olive oil in place of butter in many instances. How did I do it? This is exceptional to me and you will find your own way.  The world of produced veggie cheese has come a long way.  VEGUSTO and Daiya in the USAmake delicious cheeses.  Melty. stringy. garlicky. strong.  How ever you like yours.  I challenge you not to like it.

 Back in 1999 I turned vegetarian first and I began by using fake 'meats' in the meals I'd been used to in my diet. I really couldn't tell the difference in taste or texture in spaghetti bolognese or shephards pie. Instead of bacon sandwiches, I ate tomato sauce sandwiches (try it…don't knock it.  you can even get fake 'bacon' bits and frying thinly sliced mushrooms or aubergines can replicate the smokey flavour too). I ate pasta with fresh basil & tomato sauce, and used soy cream to make dishes like carbonara and pea & garlic cream pasta. I made my own gravy from flour, tamari sauce and vegan stock cubes. Back then I got into stuffing all sorts of veggies with mushrooms, garlic, brown rice and breadcrumbs. And a plate of caramelised roasted vegetables were never far from hand. Soups are extremely quick and easy to make and really satisfying. With the addition of beans and mushrooms I was getting all the protein I needed. I didn't feel like I was missing anything. In fact, I felt very pleased with myself. I saw navigating the supermarket labels to detect animal products as a detective investigation.  I took to task with excitement the turning my old meals into plant based diners. By body was starting to show signs of thanking me too. My skin cleared up and I felt happier and more 'me'.  I moved on from those meals and began to drop the need to substitute.  I found great Indian dishes and many Middle Eastern dishes were vegan anyway, with bold flavours to satiate me.

I purchased vegetarian and vegan cookbooks. Now, we are lucky there are so many online (including mine!). I contacted the VEGAN SOCIETY and the VEGETARIAN SOCIETY & (USA) VEGAN.ORG for help and guidance.   For eating out I used the Happy Cow website which lists restaurants and health food shops all over the globe.  Slowly, my body started to guide me to the foods that made me feel good and steered me clear of the foods that it didn't seem to get on so well with. I discovered I was gluten intolerant. That is an easy one to flip to now as such high numbers of us are realising we exhibit better health when going gluten free, so our shops are filling up with gluten free breads, pastas, and everyday products. The whole thing of searching labels for ingredients really opened my eyes to the utter crap that manufacturers pad processed foods out with and what they add sugar too (to ensure consumers stay addicted to them). 

One really good tip as well is to make lots of food ahead. Get yourself some good quality food containers and make big batches of soup, sauces, stews, one pots, curries. Work out what you need for the week and freeze/chill the rest. If you have a sweet tooth. Buy some agave (a low glycemic sugar alternative) or stevia/xylitol (natural healthy sugar) and use that in your tea before gradually weaning yourself off sugar (you will actually taste what you are drinking without it) and in your baking products. Make fruit bars with a base of dates and add, nuts, coconut, apple, cinnamon or ginger etc. in a blender and form into bars. They take minutes, last for ages, are cheaper and not filled with unnecessary ingredients. 

 Your body may take a few weeks or months (depending on how your diet was previously) to adjust. You may find yourself making more visits to the loo. Your skin may react as first as the toxins flush from your system. You may get a little windy (toot toot) as your digestion adapts. Take a dairy free probiotic pill daily (please no yogurt filled with sugar that claims to be probiotic and good for you!). The juicing and/or increased intake of fresh and uncooked foods (salads and fruit) will have all the enzymes you need still intact without cooking, that will help you to cleanse your body and improve your digestion. DRINK LOTS of water in between meals. 

At the beginning I suggest taking a vegan multi-vitamin with B12, (I use this oneso you don't need to have the worry of if you are getting enough nutrients (I can assure you if you eat a highly organic colourful, varied, non-processed diet not laden with vegan cheeses and too many nuts, you will be enjoying the best health). If you eat a portion of beans or pulses a day and have a green juice and lots of kale/spinach (a note, to help absorption of nutrients in spinach use a squeeze of lemon or high Vit C vegetable). Juicing is such fun and you can play with the ingredients and make your own concoctions.  Once you get used to navigating and adapting your diet you can then take it further and focus on nutritional value. But for now, just eat a rainbow of mainly vegetables, some fruits (not too many high sugar fruits like melons or pineapple) and legumes you will thrive.  In time you can add more and more raw meals, look at reducing grains.  Basically, food is like religion, study it and then take what YOU feel is right for YOU.  This will involve listening to your body and noticing how it feels on different foods.

Join a Vegan group in your area. www.meetup.com has lots of them. Search Facebook.com too for vegan groups.
 Supermarkets keep lists of their vegan and gluten free products.  They will be happy to provide you with a copy.  You can VIEW them online too.

Ask for help. Write to me if you need information or support. info@aveganobsession.com Go on my website or others and look for ideas. If you have a question about substitutes, again, search my site or use Google for the answers you need. This is a lifestyle choice and a change in habits. New habits take a month to develop. It feels good to be able to look animals and yourself in the eye. But, if you trip up then just get up and start again. I warn you, some friends, colleagues and family may get upset or even angry at your 'behaviour'. Just know that some people react with anger at things they don't yet understand. As you adopt the lifestyle more and more and experiment with foods your confidence will increase and you will be making awesome meals. Hopefully, in time they will get to see that living plant based is a delicious way to live. They will see it in your face and see how much happier you are. We lead by quiet and proven example. 

You will feel better than I you ever have and develop a greater appreciation, not only for animals and your health but for the land and the things that foods that nourish you.

This is your beginning and there are so many new and wonderful foods for you to try and ways to get to and maintain YOUR optimum health. It's all out there for you.  I hope you know, if you have any questions I'd be happy to help.  

Sign up for my newsletter, follow me on Twitter and get all my new recipes and future articles. Protein coming soon.  In the 'search' bar you can look for delicious meal ideas.  Try my 7 day meal plan.  Search for articles on sugar, water, juicing, exercise etc.

Good luck!  And know that you have choices and they are yours to make.  Support is out there (or here) if you need it.  Your decision to go plant-based may be over night or over several months.  Eventually quality will overtake quantity. Your ongoing health and care of yourself and your environment is for life.  Variety is key with your food and lifestyle.  If not true for maintaining your zest and interest for life too.

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