This blog is about recipes that are plant-based, gluten-free, vegan, soy-free, sugar-free, and oil-free. My goal is to inspire you to eat real food by providing nourishing simple recipes that are free of unhealthy processed ingredients and taste fantastic. Whether you advocate a vegan, vegetarian, fruitarian, flexitarian, raw food, or an omnivorous philosophy, my hope is that you’ll start to see food as the powerful source of health and healing that it can be and begin your own journey towards optimal well-being.
I just want to live and be as healthy as I can be. Besides, I love vegetables! There is an increasing number of studies being done on the effects of plant-based diets in the prevention and reversal of many of the predominant diseases/conditions in the western world, including heart disease, high cholesterol, Type 2 diabetes and even some cancers here.
I have noticed that I feel better when I avoid commercial baked goods and breads although I have never been diagnosed with a wheat allergy, celiac or a gluten-intolerance. And I can tolerate a rustic sourdough bread made fresh at a local bakery every once in awhile without upsetting my system. However, the recipes on this site will appeal to readers looking for gluten-free options. A recent article about the wheat production process here suggests that allergies, gluten-intolerance, and digestive issues may be the result of the way that conventional wheat crops in North America are cultivated and handled rather than from gluten.
A quick search on google will tell you that veganism is on the rise. This could be due to an increase in celebrity endorsements in recent years or it could be for health or environmental reasons. The number of studies directly linking the consumption of meat and dairy products to detrimental health effects is substantial. You can read about some of the problems with dairy here. And, thanks to documentaries such as Earthlings, Cowspiracy and Food Inc., there is a greater collective awareness of the environmental degradation caused by conventional farming practices and the cruel and unnecessary treatment of farm animals. The more I learn, the more a plant-based vegan diet that includes a minimal amount of processed food just makes sense. There are no logical arguments against it. But transitioning to vegan is about more than just the food you eat; it’s a whole way of thinking and living. This is a fairly new journey for me.
Claims that soy is a healthy food are based on the fact that soy has been safely consumed for centuries in traditional Asian cultures. And it has; but in North America today, not only do we consume larger amounts of soy products, we eat it very differently than the way it was traditionally prepared and eaten, which is fermented or compressed into tofu. Today, soy is a major industrial crop and not because the consumer demand for tofu is high. Rather, it is because profits can be made from isolating the component parts of soy (soy protein isolate, soy isoflavones and soy lecithin) and inserting these into the hundreds of processed foods that line our supermarket shelves. In one form or another, soy has become one of those ubiquitous ingredients found in almost everything we eat making it difficult to avoid. So the fact that soy has been safely consumed for centuries has little bearing on its safe consumption today. Further, soy-based ingredients aren’t always labeled as such, making it difficult for consumers to tell whether or not a product is soy free. Some of the pseudonyms under which soy might be named can be found here. An article here provides a more in-depth perspective on soy and may be helpful to better understand the controversy.
Generally speaking, processed sugars are loaded with empty calories. With the exception of date sugar and blackstrap molasses, all are low in significant nutrients and antioxidants according to a report here that measured the antioxidant content of a large number of them. Fresh fruits on the other hand, contain an abundance of healthful nutrients, fibre and antioxidants, and there are no deleterious effects to health associated with fructose found in whole fruits.
In short, we don’t need it. To be clear, oil-free does not mean fat-free. There is plenty of fat available in a gluten-free, vegan, plant-based whole foods diet. Oil, whether it is extracted from olives, corn, coconut, canola, or any other seed, nut or plant, is a processed product, extremely low in nutrients and 100% fat. Even those marketed as healthy and organic. According to Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, JR., Director of the cardiovascular prevention and reversal program at The Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, long term studies have shown that all oils, including olive oil, increase the risk of heart disease in the same way that butter does. If you want to avoid heart disease and cancer, ditch the oil from your diet, as oils are nothing more than highly processed foods. If you want more information on why you should remove oil from your diet, you can start here, here and here.
What’s wrong with Paleo?
For one thing, the paleo diet assumes that our hunter-gatherer (HG) ancestors consumed the diet best suited for human health and I am not convinced that that’s true. Its likely that our HG ancestors ate whatever plants and animals they could find or catch to survive, rather than for optimal health. Further, the variety of fruits and vegetables in Palaeolithic times would have been considerably different from modern varieties and would have varied significantly based on the local environment. People living in the north, with limited access to plants, would have been far more reliant on a meat-based diet than their southern counterparts and animals would have eaten an entirely different diet to the one that domesticated animals are fed today. Insofar as the Paleo diet excludes processed foods, unnatural sugars, milk and dairy products, it is not dissimilar to many other diets calling for the same exclusions. Overall, in our present era, I think that a diet high in animal protein ignores all of the health risks and ethical issues associated with eating large quantities of meat.