Gluten-Free n’ Vegan Tips For Fueling Your Body

Here is a useful guide to help those of you who are Gluten-Free and/or Vegan.  As we all know, I am Gluten-Intolerant, therefore I enjoy consuming all of these foods in my meals and snacks throughout the day.

I hope this guide is helpful for those of you new to the gluten-free world and hope this helps you navigate through your farmers markets and produce aisles of your food store.

Go ahead and dive into these delicious, fresh, ‘clean’ foods knowing that they are safe and good for you and your body…

Carbohydrates- Essential for energy. Reach for complex carbohydrates instead of simple carbs such as sugars, white flours and processed grains that are void of vitamins and minerals.

  • Gluten-Free Pasta (Corn or Gluten-Free Flour Based)
  • Gluten-Free Cereals
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Gluten-Free Oats
  • Gluten-Free Breads
  • Whole Grain Gluten-Free Rice

Fiber- Vital for health: keeps bowels healthy, lowers cholesterol and regulates appetite.

  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Gluten-Free Whole Grains

Fats– Essential for brain and nerve functions.  Look to get Omega 3 fatty acids as often as possible.  Olive oil is best used for cooking.  Be sure to avoid hydrogenated fats and trans fats.  Keep your oils fresh by storing them in a dark, cool place and never re-use oil.

  • Flaxseed oil
  • Hempseed oil
  • Grapeseed oil
  • Olive oil
  • Avocados
  • Nuts (especially hazelnuts and almonds)

Protein-Used for repair of body tissues and growth for enzymes and hormones.  Protein needs are met by a varied, balanced diet so be sure to get proteins from many different sources.

  • Tofu
  • Beansprouts
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Nut/Seed Milk (almond, hemp, etc.)
  • Soy Milk
  • Gluten-Free Whole Grains (Quinoa, Buckwheat, Brown Rice)
  • Nuts
  • Hummus

Vitamins

Vitamin A– Also known as beta carotene, is a powerful anti-oxidant that supports sight, bone and teeth growth and tissue repair.  Be sure to reach for the brightly colored fruits and veggies!

  • Carrots
  • Red and Yellow Bell Peppers
  • Watercress
  • Spinach
  • Mango
  • Dried Apricots
  • Tomatoes
  • Green Leafy Vegetables

B Vitamins– Important for using fats and protein as well as energy.  Also key for cell grown and your nervous system. This group is made up of B1-Thiamin, B2-Riboflavin, B3-Niacin, B6-Pyridoxin and B-12 (see below)

  • Mushrooms
  • Nuts
  • Gluten-Free Whole Grains (Quinoa, Buckwheat, Brown or Wild Rice)
  • Avocado
  • Beansprouts
  • Oranges
  • Bananas
  • Nutritional Yeast
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Green Leafy Veggies (I love Kale)

B12-Used in nerve formation and cell production.  Anemia can result in B12 deficiency.

  • Yeast Extract
  • Gluten-Free Fortified Cereals
  • Gluten-Free Fortified Nut Milks

Vitamin C-Fights infections and heals wounds. An important antioxidant in your everyday lifestyle.  It is important to note that Vitamin C is easily destroyed by heat, light and storage.

  • Broccoli
  • Parsley
  • Potatoes
  • Green Leafy Veggies
  • Oranges
  • Orange Juice
  • Blackcurrants
  • Kiwi
  • Mango

Vitamin D- Our Sunshine…Needed for calcium use.  Helps form healthy bones and teeth.  Met through a few minutes of sunshine on your skin. D2 is animal free.

  • Fortified Gluten-Free Cereals
  • Fortified Nut/Seed Milks
  • Soy Milk

Vitamin E-Antioxidant used to protect against disease.  Helps with tissue healing and skin health.

  • Gluten-Free Whole Grains (Buckwheat, Brown Rice, Wild Rice, Quinoa)
  • Tomatoes
  • Olive Oil
  • Avocados
  • Carrots
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Apples

Vitamin K– Fights infection Used for energy usage.  Helps with blood clotting and healthy bones.

  • Lentils
  • Peas
  • Lettuce
  • Kombu Sea Vegetables
  • Broccoli
  • Green Leafy Vegetables

Minerals

Iron– Used in production of red blood cells and transportation of oxygen.

  • Dates
  • Figs
  • Tofu
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Figs
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Green Leafy Vegetables
  • Cabbage
  • Pumpkin Seeds

Calcium- Supports teeth, bones and muscles.  Also supports hormones and blood clotting.

  • Almonds
  • Soy Milk
  • Tofu
  • Green Leafy Vegetables
  • broccoli
  • Turnips

Zinc-Important for a strong, healthy immune system and wound healing.

  • Gluten-Free Whole Grains (Buckwheat, Rice, Quinoa)
  • Almonds
  • Sesame Seeds
  • Lentils
  • Tofu
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Green Leafy Vegetables

Iodine-Important for metabolism and healthy functioning of thyroid gland.  iodine in vegetables depends on the soil.  Seaweeds are the best sources of iodine, especially kelp, which is also known as kombu.

  • Kombu/Kelp Sea Vegetables
  • Green Leafy Vegetables
  • Asparagus

Magnesium– Needed for bone strength, nerve and muscle function.

  • Almonds
  • Cashews
  • Apricots
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Soya Beans
  • Gluten-Free Whole Grains (Quinoa, Rice, Buckwheat)
  • Green Leafy Vegetables

Selenium, Potassium and Phosphorous– Selenium is an antioxidant that fights diseases.  Potassium helps with blood pressure and calcium helps with balance.

  • Tomatoes
  • Bananas
  • Strawberries
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Gluten-Free Whole Grains (Rice, Buckwheat, Quinoa)
  • Chick Peas
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Nutritional Yeast
  • Many other fruits and vegetables

Trace Elements- Fluorine, Copper, Chromium, Molybdenum and Manganese support bones, teeth, skin, hair and red blood cells. Vital for fighting against diseases.

  • Seaweeds
  • Potatoes
  • Almonds
  • Bananas
  • Gluten-Free Whole Grains (Quinoa, Buckwheat, Brown Rice)
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Green Leafy Vegetables

And, be sure to check out my Shop…I just added many new gluten-free and vegan products as well as fabulous kitchen tools for all your healthy cooking and baking needs.

Enjoy!

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Lucious Leafy Greens

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Many of my clients considered ‘leafy green veggies’ unappetizing before they came to me for counseling.  The first thing that came to their minds when I mentioned ‘leafy green veggies’ was “Well, I eat Iceberg Lettuce”! O boy, I thought…we’ve got some work to do and this is going to be fun.  This is what I love about being a Nutritionist.  I truly love making a difference in the way my clients eat and make them realize that this pale lettuce, once so ubiquitous in restaurant salads, does not have the power-packed goodness of other delicious greens.

Before my clients came to me for counseling, they either forgot about these nutrient-rich, flavorful foods or got scared off by the idea of preparing them.

Learning to cook and eat greens is essential for creating lasting health.  It is a simple, easy way to boost your daily diet.  The next time you are at the farmers market or in your local food store, be sure to add some of the following greens to your shopping list: Arugula, Bok Choy, Broccoli Rabe, Cabbage, Collards, Chicory, Dandelion, Escarole, Kale, Swiss Chard, Spinach, Watercress and many other varieties of lettuce.

Leafy green veggies help strengthen our respiratory and circulatory systems.  They are high in magnesium, calcium, iron, potassium, phosphorus, zinc and vitamins A, C, E and K.

Leafy green veggies are packed with folic acid, chlorophyll, fiber and many other micronutrients and phytochemicals.  Moreover, they help with blood purification, cancer prevention, improving circulation, strengthening your immune system and improving gall bladder, kidney and live function.  They are also a great ally in the Fall when cold season begins because greens can help clear congestion and reduce mucus.

Surprisingly, greens are not as complicated as they may appear  Try a variety of cooking methods such as boiling, sauteing in olive oil, steaming, blanching, roasting or chopping up for salads and snacks.  Chopping raw veggies for salads and snacks takes only a few minutes to rinse and prepare.  Cooking greens takes a couple of minutes of prep time and about two minutes of cooking time.  You can experiment with cooking your greens with seeds, nuts, beans, butter, tofu, seital, tempeh, chicken, turkey, fish, ground meat, eggs, etc.  Green veggies are easy to add to homemade or prepared soups or stews right before serving.

Try to get into the habit of adding these green veggies to your diet as often as possible.  While veggies are the scarcest food in the American diet, leafy green veggies area is lacking most of all.

Give some of these green leafy veggies a try and see how you feel!  Let me know what you think about the different flavors and textures of these delicious greens…I’m interested to hear!

Uproot from the Green Basics

While everyday veggies such as broccoli and spinach are great for your health, be adventurous and try these other dark greens that pack a flavorful and nutrient-dense punch.

  • Kale- This leafy green is easy to grow and thrives in cold temps.  The beautiful leaves provide an earthy flavor and excellent nutritional value.  I love making ‘kale wraps’ where I wrap kale leaves around my fish and chicken for a fun finger food!
  • Collard Greens- A staple of traditional Southern cooking, this nutritional powerhouse provides vitamins A, C, calcium, iron and magnesium.  Collard greens are delicious to bake with and I love adding collards to my baked fish recipes.
  • Bok Choy- This veggie has a light, sweet flavor and a crisp texture.  Toss some bok choy into stir-fries, Asian dishes or soups.
  • Escarole- This curly Italian green has a bitter taste.  As you remove the leaves, you will experience different degrees of flavor! As the leaves are peeled back, they continue to lighten in shade and bitterness.

TLT (Tofu, Lettuce n’ Tomato) Sandwich

I just made this divine TLT sandwich for my lunch today and I cannot stop raving over it! I will definitely be making this my lunch staple a few times each week!

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Ingredients

  • 1 medium tomato
  • 2 pieces Kale (or your green “a.k.a. lettuce” of choice)
  • 14 ounces water packed extra-firm tofu, drained
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon Reduced Sodium Tamari (Wheat Free Soy Sauce)
  • 1 Tablespoon Veganaise (Vegan Mayonnaise)
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Fresh Scallions
  • Toasted Bread of choice (Pita, Bread, Bagel, Naan)

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Spray a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  • Combine Tamari and Dijon mustard in a small bowl.
  • Pat tofu with a paper towel to soak up excess water and slice tofu crosswise into 8 pieces
  • Using a spoon, spread the mustard mixture on the tofu slices (both sides)
  • Bake tofu for 20 minutes
  • Spread Veganaise onto toasted bread and place the tofu, lettuce, tomato, cilantro and scallions on top.
  • Enjoy!

I love Tofu, not only is it delicious, it’s healthy and packed with a beneficial amount of iron and has no saturated fat or cholesterol.   Tofu is also high in calcium and magnesium as well as a great source of soy protein.  Moreover, the FDA claims, “25 grams of soy protein a day, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease.”

Although I am Not a vegetarian, I do love my tofu.  Do you enjoy Tofu?  Share with us some of your favorite ways to prepare and incorporate Tofu into your meals.

Super Foods on a Budget

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In this day n’ age…the economy isn’t looking too shabby.  We all have to learn to cut back on certain things, however, we should not be cutting back on our nutritious foods as we must continue to feed our bodies with healthy super foods everyday.  Here are a few of my favorite super foods that will keep you on (or hopefully under) your budget!

Swiss Chard

  • An excellent source of beta carotene (an antioxidant and pre-cursor for vitamin A), vitamin C, and a good source of potassium and magnesium.  Research has shown that vitamin C and beta carotene may prevent the oxidation of LDL “Bad” cholesterol and therefore may decrease risk of heart disease.  Moreover, research has also shown that magnesium and potassium may lower blood pressure levels.  Swiss Chard is reasonably priced- a bit more expensive then some of your other greens, but still about $2/bunch.

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Kale

  • This dark, leafy green is loaded with vitamin C, carotenoids, and calcium.  Not to mention a good source of potassium and magnesium.   Like most greens it is usually fairly cheep at $1.50/ bunch.

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Spinach

  • One of the best green leafies out there- it’s an excellent source of folate, antioxidant vitamins A (formed from beta-carotene) and C, and a good source of potassium and magnesium.  Studies show that folate can help prevent heart disease by lowering levels of the amino acid homocysteine.  Plus, you can usually find it year round for less than a $1/bunch.

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Broccoli

  • An excellent source of folate and vitamin C, a good source of fiber, calcium, Vitamin A, potassium and vitamin B6.   If that isn’t enough broccoli is also packed with phytonutrients, compounds that may help prevent heart disease, certain cancers, and diabetes.  Plus, it’s low in cost and calories.

Tomatoes

  • An excellent source of vitamins  A and C, a good source of potassium and contain the antioxidant lycopene.  Depending on the type of tomato, they can be pricey, however, review your choices in the food store and purchase the cheapest, best quality tomatoes.

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Parsnips

  • A good source of vitamin C, fiber and folate.  Fiber helps promote heart health by reducing levels of LDL “Bad” cholesterol and that vitamin C decreases risk for heart disease by preventing the oxidation of LDL “Bad” cholesterol.  These fun veggies are close in price to carrots, perhaps a few cents more, but still fairly cheep.

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Avocados

  • Rich in monounsaturated “GOOD” fats and contain potassium and folate.  Research shows that monounsaturated fats can lower LDL “Bad” cholesterol.   Avocados add the perfect touch to any meal and for the inexpensive price, you can’t beat it!

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Omega 3 Fatty Acids

  • Omega 3’s are known to lower heart disease risk, help arthritis, and may help with depression, memory loss and Alzheimer’s.  Most prevalent in fatty, cold water fish such as WILD (not farmed) salmon, sardines, mackerel, and herring.  Also found in fortified eggs, flax seeds and walnuts.  All of these super foods are high in monounsaturated fats, which is a huge benefit since this can lower cholesterol.  Fresh fish can be quite pricey, however, for the nutritional punch these Omega 3’s provide–it’s worth the extra cash–treat yourself!

Bananas

  • Loaded with Potassium and fiber, these yellow treats are not just a monkey’s favorite.  Not to mention they are about 20 cents a piece–a dollar can get you a banana for every day of the workweek!

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Steel Cut Oats

  • High in fiber and complex carbohydrates, oats have been known to lower cholesterol-and boy are they cheap! A dollar can buy you more than a week’s worth of warm, satisfying steel cut oats!

Sardines

  • These relatively cheap little fish come with big benefits such as B vitamins, calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc.  And, because they are low on the food chain, they do not accumulate mercury.

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Whole Grain Pasta

  • A delicious complex carbohydrate that is high in protein and B vitamins-not to mention it’s one of the cheapest staples you can buy!

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Tofu

  • This inexpensive protein source is not just for vegetarians and can be used in both sweet and savory recipes.  It’s high in B vitamins and Iron, but low in fat and sodium, making it a healthful addition to many dishes.

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Beets

  • These purple guys are sweet to the palate while their rich flavor and color make them nutritious for our bodies; they are powerhouses of folate, iron, and antioxidants.  Look for fresh beets in your food store, most beets are reasonably priced and found near the root veggies.

Nuts

  • Packed with good-for-you fats, both unsaturated and monounsaturated, these are a good source of essential fatty acids, protein, and vitamin E.  Because they are so nutrient-dense, you only need a handful or two to reap the nutritional benefits.  Although macadamias and pecans can be costly, nuts such as walnuts, peanuts and almonds are low in cost.

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Wild Rice

  • This gluten-free complex carbohydrate is a whole lot better for you than “white” rice and it’s low in fat, and high in protein and fiber.  This rice is loaded with B vitamins and potassium, not to mention the delicious, nutty, robust flavor.

Garbanzo Beans

  • No only are they a great source of protein and fiber, but they are high in iron, folate, manganese and fiber, and may help reduce cholesterol levels.  If you don’t like Garbanzo beans–try another-lentils, lima, black-the varieties are endless.  Additionally, with beans, you’re getting your money’s worth because they are much cheaper to purchase than animal proteins.

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Blueberries

  • Packed with phytoflavinoids and antioxidants, these berries are also high in vitamin C and potassium, which are anti-inflammatory and lower your risk of heart disease and cancer.  The darker the berry, the more antioxidants they have.  And remember, frozen fruits are just as good as fresh.  Fresh berries get a bad rep for being pricey, however, their frozen friends are just as delish and good for you, not to mention cheaper! Head to the freezer isle if the fresh berries are too pricey.

What do you consider your Super Foods? How do their prices fair against the ones I have listed above?  Have you had to cut back at the food store due to our current economic times?