Tag Archives: vegetarianism

Lentils with bulgur wheat

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I adore lentils. They are little gems of protein and so versatile, I can eat them every day. They are commonly eaten in the Middle East and adjacent regions, usually with rice, but I decided to use bulgur wheat instead. Bulgur wheat is also a staple of many Middle Eastern countries. I am minimizing my rice consumption(both white and brown) these days due it possibly playing a role in diabetes, and because other grains, like bulgur wheat, have a far superior nutritional value.

Bulgur wheat is often confused with cracked wheat. This may help clear up any confusion – GRAIN BASICS – BULGHUR (BULGAR) AND
CRACKED WHEAT

It took about 30 minutes to cook the entire meal, boiling the green lentils(which require more cooking time) first in half water/half vegetable broth. I then added some red pepper powder, black pepper, and garlic powder. I also added chopped onions, along with chopped garlic, and a dash of olive oil. It tasted great, though I think it would have been better if I had added some cumin.

As a side dish/appetizer, I had some Korean kimchi(or Korean pickle), which helps stimulate digestion due to its spiciness and friendly bacteria. Koreans eat kimchi with almost every meal. The kimchi wasn’t homemade(it was Sunja’s Medium Spicy Kimchi), but it is vegan. Kimchi in Asian restaurants usually has shrimp or fish added to it. I occasionally make my own sauerkraut, but every time I try to make kimchi it doesn’t turn out well. The ingredients in this kimchi are: cabbage, carrots, red peppers, leeks, green onions, garlic, ginger, sea salt.

Lentils with bulgur wheat can also be considered an example of “Mediterranean” cuisine, besides “Middle Eastern”, depending on your definition of “Mediterranean”(many Middle Eastern countries have Mediterranean coasts, so I see no reason why they they can’t be considered both). The Mediterranean diet is back in the news these days due to recent research reaffirming how healthy it is, in part due to legumes like lentils being an important protein source in many Mediterranean countries. So you can’t go wrong by consuming more lentils. The east Asian diet is also similarly healthy, so combining the two has a uniquely healthful synergism to it.

All in all, a delicious vegan power meal that is a fusion of the best of Middle Eastern and Korean cuisine.

Sylvester Graham – Health pioneer and crackpot

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Graham crackers were invented to cure what? Source: Wikipedia

The leadership of the various healthy eating and vegetarian movements over the past few centuries includes a lot of quacks, charlatans, and wackos. However, even some of the wackiest had some helpful ideas. A good, and early example of this type of health pioneer is Sylvester Graham(1794 – 1851). He was an American dietary reformer who advocated vegetarianism and eating only whole-grains rather than refined grains. He was the inventor of the graham cracker, which in its original form was made from whole-grain flour and free of sugar, spices, flavorings and preservatives.

Sounds like a real innovator, right? However, his primary motivation for pushing his strict diet wasn’t due to health concerns but rather due to his religious fanaticism. He may have been ahead of his time, but he believed his diet could cure people of having “impure” thoughts. He was a big believer in sexual abstinence and believed his graham crackers could magically cure the desire to masturbate. Graham similarly believed that meat-eating lead to sin, and so advocated a diet of mostly fresh fruits, vegetables and whole-grains.

He eventually had a large following and in his final years helped found the American Vegetarian Society. Many health reformers in the late 19th century were influenced by him. Next time you see graham crackers at the store, remember that they were originally invented to cure masturbation, although in their current form they have little in common with what Sylvester Graham envisioned.

So what are we to make of such a character? I find it fascinating how Graham was right about the negative health effects of refined grain well before science finally figured it out. On the other hand, his belief that a vegetarian diet could cure alcoholism was laughably wrong.

Of course, there are still many wackos in the vegetarian movement, and of course among meat-eaters. But this says nothing about the virtues of either diet.

There are no longer any “Grahamites”(as his followers were called), but some Christian denominations like the Seventh Day Adventists continue to practice vegetarianism.

Graham may be long gone, but there are health gurus out there still making ridiculous, pseudo-scientific claims, often mixed promiscuously with good health advice. Don’t take anything on faith and do your own research to uncover the facts.

You get most of your protein from nuts?!

Rumors have been swirling around about this for quite some time. I thought it was time to tell the truth. I do, in fact, on many days get most of my protein from nuts. Or a delicious combination of nuts and legumes. The Wild Juggler is in fact a vegetarian.

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So how is this possible? Is he, yet again, violating the laws of physics? Truth be told, nuts are a great source of protein.
1/4 cup of almonds contains about 6 grams of protein.

While it also has a lot of fat, it is mostly the healthy, unsaturated kind of fat. Almonds and many other nuts are also good sources of fiber, minerals, and protective phyto-chemicals, similar to the ones in tea and some vegetables. I love my nuts raw and unprocessed. I don’t eat nuts that have added oils, salt, sugar or anything. Read labels. I often snack on nuts after a long joggle.

If you’re afraid that eating nuts will cause weight gain, do not worry. I eat tons of nuts almost every day; if you’ve been pecan at my photos, you know I’m not exactly obese. Still not convinced?

According to Fitwatch.com, eating nuts regularly can help you lose weight by speeding up your metabolism – Why Eating Nuts Can Help You Lose Weight

Fiber, always your friend, helps prevent the fat from getting absorbed. I think nuts are a great way to replace meat and dairy in your diet. People who eat a lot of nuts are generally slimmer, on average than those who eat the least. Nut butters make a great snack and are good for making sandwiches. Peanut butter is one of my favorites, though technically, peanuts are a legume.

I totally love nuts. When people call me a “nut”, I take it as a compliment. So go nuts with nuts, and try to violate the laws of physics with your fitness routine!

New joggling record set in the rain

Laugh at bad weather. Unless the rain is especially heavy, or there’s tornadoes or a hurricane, don’t let “bad” weather interfere with your running routine. Yet again I learned the important lesson today to not let the weather prevent me from performing at my best.

It was raining, but luckily it was light. It was about 40 farenheit(4.4 C) but I didn’t feel the cold. There were a lot of puddles around that I dodged or jumped over. There was just slightly more than a hint of wind. I recently purchased some new sneakers, but wore my older pair since there is still some life in them. I wore sweatpants instead of shorts and had gloves and sunglasses(not very dark ones because of how cloudy it was)on. I didn’t really feel that energetic in the morning when I joggled. My breakfast was my usual bialys with sunflower seeds. 

Unfortunately, my feet got a little wet due to the rain and due to stepping in a few puddles(I need to work on this!), and my gloves got wet also. My sweatshirt and hat also got very wet. Worst of all, my sunglasses got wet and foggy, in spite of the baseball type hat I had on. I sometimes had trouble seeing the balls or my surroundings, but I couldn’t dry them for obvious reasons.

And yet, I broke all previous records. I consistently joggled 3 balls in 1 hour and 5 minutes, covering a distance of 6.7 miles(10.7 km) from start to finish without dropping any of the wet balls even once. I still have trouble believing it. I almost dropped the balls about 5 times(usually while doing tricks) but managed to catch them at the last second. I didn’t even intend to break any records, since I was kind of tired and thought the wet weather would interfere with my joggling. It didn’t. It was an amazing experience, though very exhausting toward the end. I didn’t even do any warm-ups before the run.

I still consider myself to be a total clutz.

Vitamin D may improve athletic performance

It may not be the cold air or Old Man Winter’s roar that keeps even seasoned athletes indoors during the winter. According to the scientific literature, vitamin D may improve athletic performance, but only in athletes who are deficient in vitamin D.

So who is most likely to be deficient in vitamin D? Since vitamin D is produced in the body when the skin is exposed to sunlight, it shouldn’t worry people who get at least some sun exposure throughout most of the year, unless they live north of 37 degrees latitude during the winter. The sun’s rays are too weak north of 37 degrees, and it’s even worse if your skin is dark, since melanin can block sunlight.

The elderly also have problems making vitamin D, even if they get sufficient sunlight. Vitamin D(a misnomer, it is actually a hormone) is necessary for calcium absorption, which helps build strong bones, and may also boost the immune system, among other things. Scientists have found links between vitamin D deficiency and certain forms of cancer, but a lot more research needs to be done.

Eating a healthy, varied diet can provide just about all the nutrients the average person needs, but hardly any foods contain sufficient quantities of vitamin D to meet new nutritional guidelines. Even multivitamins fall short of the new guidelines. So it looks like eating food fortified with vitamin D(like milk) or vitamin D supplements may be the answer, for those who live north of 37 degrees latitude from autumn to spring.

A rather interesting possible solution which doesn’t involve supplements is to get some mushrooms(button mushrooms, shiitake, and many other mushroom species, but do not pick any wild mushrooms unless you know what you are doing) and place them in the sun for a few hours. When exposed to sunlight, they will manufacture vitamin D, just like humans, in quantities that are as good as or even better than supplements. This is certainly a wild solution!

I take a 5,000 I.U vitamin D supplement about twice a week during the winter since I am in the north-east U.S. I don’t take them at all during the summer, since I get enough sunlight during that time of year. I take it twice a week since vitamin D is fat-soluble, which means it can be stored in the liver and fatty tissue, unlike water soluble nutrients like vitamin C, which are quickly removed from the body which is why you need to get it every day.

So if you’re an athlete or even if you’re not an athlete, and you feel sluggish and you live in the northern U.S, see if you can get your vitamin D levels checked by your doctor. Or, you can just eat more mushrooms that have been sun-bathed as suggested above if you suspect you’re deficient. Like many nutrients, Vitamin D can be toxic in large quantities, so be careful.

For my fellow vegetarians and vegans – vitamin D-3, also called “cholecalciferol” is not vegan since it is derived from animal sources. However, vitamin D-2, also called “ergocalciferol” is vegan since it comes from plant sources. The type of vitamin D that is in mushrooms is D-2/ergocalciferol.