Beyonce Promotes Vegan Diet. Tricked by Her Trainer.

BeyonceNothing against Beyonce. Look at her. Talented, beautiful, rich, the new Black feminist, works the Power Couple, not excessively vulgar like Miley Cyrus. I just don’t like it when well-meaning celebs put the public in harms way.

Today, I wrote an article for Diets In Review, “Beyonce’s New Vegan Diet Can be Delivered to Your Door. But is it Worth It?” Beyonce is promoting veganism because her trainer has her ear. See the article to understand.

Vegans don’t eat any meat, fish, poultry, eggs, or milk products. (Beyonce tacked on gluten, soy, and GMO restrictions too.) Ovo-Lacto Vegetarian? (add eggs and dairy) You bet! Pescetarian? (add fish) Flexitarian? (add a little meat) Bring ’em on! (I was actually an Ovo-Lacto Vegetariam since before Beyonce was born. See What the Hippies Knew.) But vegans? That’s just dangerous. Please be careful.

Bottom Line: Just eat more vegetables, legumes and whole grains and cut the processed foods. And don’t take nutrition advice from celebrities and personal trainers.

Your thoughts? Have you considered going vegan? Did you do it?

Confessions of a Wheat Germ Lover

Wheat GermA brief interaction on Twitter led Kretschmer Wheat Germ to me. They are considering me for a “Happy Wheat Germ User” feature, but needed to know more first.

Wheat Germ and Me

As a nutrition-loving baby boomer, it seems like I have always known about wheat germ. Along with soy protein and non-fat dried milk, it was part of Cornell Bread, a staple food developed for wartime rationing in the 1940s (well before my birth!) My first encounter with a regular wheat germ eater took the form of a woman from Switzerland I met in my late teens. She ate wheat germ for breakfast mixed with avocado and honey or as part of muesli along with yogurt. I like to add wheat germ to recipes for pancakes, muffins, veggie burgers, and meatballs. My favorite Wheat Germ Bread is from Jane Brody’s Good Food Book via Kretschmer Wheat Germ a long time ago.

The Original Super-food

As a registered dietitian, people complain to me about feeling stiff-achy-and-punk. Their children are listless and their parents are falling apart with inflammatory diseases and cancers. To them I say, “You really ought to be eating wheat germ!” Wheat germ is LOADED with B vitamins (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamin B6, folic acid), vitamin E and essential fatty acids, the minerals iron, magnesium, manganese, calcium, copper and zinc, plus protein and phenolic compounds. Wheat germ is the nazz! In fact, the germ is the richest part of the wheat kernel, which is why white flour is a problem: the germ (and bran) is tossed during in processing. Such a sin.

An Image Problem

A “germ” is a seed, bud, spore, or embryo, the basis of all new life. A plant germ is highly nutritious because it has the nutrients to support future growth.  A “germ” is also a microorganism, especially one that produces disease. People today don’t seem to know that one germ has nothing to do with the other. Wheat germ needs a re-branding campaign. I can help with that.

Here are three good wheat germ recipes from my recipe files at Calorie Count:

Your thoughts: Do you eat (and enjoy) wheat germ?

The Wish Tree. Keep Wishing.

Wish Tree at the Brooklyn Museum

“Yes, I’m your angel – I’ll give you everything – In my magic power – So make a wish and I’ll let it come true for you. Tra, la, la, la, la.” 
~Yoko Ono lyrics “Yes, I’m Your Angel” from the album “Double Fantasy” (1980)

Yoko Ono presented a “Wish Tree” to the Brooklyn Museum in appreciation of her 2012 Women in the Arts Award. “Wish Tree” is an ongoing project that has been installed across continents for decades, gathering wishes from more than one million people so far. After each presentation, when all of the wishes are collected, they are buried (unread) around the Imagine Peace Tower, an outdoor light installation in Reykjavik, Iceland created by Yoko Ono in memory of John Lennon. The Brooklyn Museum’s Wish Tree is new, and so it needs more wishes, but when a wish tree is full, it looks like this:

For over fifty years, Yoko Ono has made art that requires viewer participation for completion. Yoko provides the pencils, tags, and instructions. (“Make a wish, write it down on a piece of paper. Fold it and tie it around a branch of the wish tree. Ask your friend to do the same. Keep wishing.”) You make the wish. Yoko encourages us to believe in the collective power of our hopes for the future. I encourage us to believe in the power of wishes for ourselves. Wish to make it easy to eat in a healthy way.

Your thoughts: Would you like me to hang a wish for you? Let me know. Keep wishing.

Winter Sun Rays and Gratitude

Pure light, refracted

Today, winter sun rays hit a prism in my bedroom window to make this picture on the door. The prism itself makes the color by refracting a beam of colorless light. The color spectrum is always the same, think rainbows and chakras for people who see them. I find comfort in knowing that the light plane is orderly, consistent, and pure. It never lets me down. It is reassuring and I am grateful.

Your thoughts: Do you like to think about physical phenomena?


My Mondays Are Meatless

Here it is the second Monday after the commotion started when a USDA headquarters interoffice newsletter encouraged employees to choose meatless meals on Mondays in the company cafeteria.

Meatless Monday” is a worldwide public health campaign to go meatless for health one day a week. A New York City ad man from Don Draper days working with Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and other big-league players started the crusade. (It shows the power of working across silos.) The USDA newsletter article was not an official position, but it offended the National Cattleman’s Beef Association and a few Republican senators, and so the USDA retracted the statement, removed the newsletter, and apologized to the beef industry. The Meatless Monday folks were not directly involved, but free publicity is good.

It’s All About the Cooking 

Volumes of research show the vegetarian diet is much healthier than a diet full of meat. Not that I’m against meat, a little is nice, but I learned how to be a vegetarian back in my hippie days, and so beans, grains, nuts and seeds, tons of vegetables, and eggs and cheese are simply my staple ingredients. Being a vegetarian is not about “Choose My Plate” with segmented meals, meat-and-potatoes style. Vegetarians tend to eat mixed dishes where grains, beans and cheese become a full meal salad or dish for the first time around and for leftovers.

A recent survey showed that 28% of Americans don’t know how to cook. (I wonder what the others call “cooking.”) Since that 28% is just starting out, they should learn how to cook vegetarian-style. I can attest to the long range health benefits. Here are three meatless recipes that I am cooking this week: Mary’s Wild Rice Salad (bring it to a party); Skillet Gnocchi with Chard & White Beans (impossible to stop eating); Mollie Katzen’s Moosewood Cookbook Zucchini Feta Pancakes (a summer classic). In August, I try to serve every dish with tomatoes and sweet corn on the side.

Your thoughts: Were you aware of Meatless Mondays? Do you take part?

What the Hippies Knew

Everyday Is Earth Day at my house. It’s been that way since before the first Earth Day, 38 years ago. That’s because I was a hippie in my formative years. And I am still. Hippies made natural food and the environment popular.

This is what I learned – and lived –  as a hippie and I still do (mostly) these things today.  I learned:

How Not to Buy Processed Food
There was simply no attraction to plastic or processed. We were not fooled by corporate America and the chemicals they used. “Question Authority!” was a good hippie slogan.

How to Be a Vegetarian
Cooking with beans, grains, nuts, and seeds? Not a problem. We learned about complimentary proteins from Frances Moore Lappe’s Diet for a Small Planet.  Our cookbooks were the brown-paper covered vegetarian classics: Tassajara Cooking, The Vegetarian Epicure, The Moosewood Cookbook, Recipes for a Small Planet. “The way to be a cook is to cook,” said the Buddhist monks of Tassajara. And we did.

How to Eat Ethnic Food
Brown rice, miso, tofu, tabbouleh, falafel, curries, raitas, dhal, HEALTHY enchiladas?  Bring ‘em on. Not only did we eat vegetarian ethnic foods, but we wore the native costumes to match!

How to Bake Bread, Grow Sprouts and Make Yogurt
Believe it or not, markets didn’t sell foods we take for granted today. Yogurt was something Europeans ate. Bread was white. Hummus was unheard of, chickpeas too. And so, we baked whole grain bread, first for its health and soon for its taste and we learned that kneading is Zen; we kept fresh sprouts growing in the winter kitchen; and we delighted in our yogurt makers, as we saved money.  Poor consumers were we.

How to Tend a Vegetable Garden
“The way to be a gardener is to garden.” If we lived in the country or even the city, we kept a garden and, in doing so, we learned about soil, sun, water and critters, beneficial insects, companion crops and manure. It was about as local and fresh as it gets.

How to Compost and Put up Food
It goes with gardening: You grow the vegetables, you eat and preserve the vegetables, you return the vegetable scraps to the earth, and the compost becomes next year’s vegetables. We love earth worms. Recycling brings us joy.

Listen, I could go on-and-on, but I have to make a lentil soup. Happy Earth Day-Week everyone!

Your thoughts: How do you practice sustainability? Where did you learn it?