Thursday, January 27, 2011

More Milk Myth

I was dismayed to see  this New York Times article, The Long and Short of Calcium and Vitamin D, perpetuate the myth that humans need to consume cow's milk to get enough calcium.  The author, Jane Brody, mentions plant-based foods, but in a way that sounds confusing and dangerous:
But some other desirable foods are problematic, at least when it comes to calcium: you’d have to eat so much broccoli to approach the level in milk that it could be toxic to your thyroid gland. Other vegetables with calcium, like spinach, collards, kale and beans, contain oxalates that block calcium absorption.
Come on.    She makes it sound like the oxalates  completely block any absorption, and pretty much concludes you should just stick to cow's milk and dairy products. Plant-based milks are barely mentioned.  Sigh.
The following is from, and can help clear the muddied waters:
Conclusion on Calcium and Vegan Diets
The US recommended intake for calcium is 1,000 mg for most adults. The UK's recommended intake is 700 mg. Given the results of the EPIC-Oxford study on vegan fracture rates, it is prudent to get 700 mg per day. For the average vegan, this probably means drinking one glass of fortified soymilk each day in addition to an otherwise balanced diet.
Table 5. Plant Foods High in Calcium
FoodServing Ca (mg)
cow's milk (for comparison)1 C300
typical calcium supplement1 tablet300-500
soymilk, fortifiedb1 C200-300
tofu (if 'calcium-set')1/2 C120-300
orange juice, fortifiedb1 C250
blackstrap molasses1 T187
sesame seeds2 T176
collard greensa1/2 C133
veg baked bean1 C128
navy beans1 C128
kalea1/2 C90
tahini1 T64
broccolia1/2 C50
almonds2 T50
aCooked | bRead the label for calcium amounts | T - tablespoon
Calcium Tips
  • Many non-dairy milks are now fortified with calcium, vitamin D, and/or vitamin B12. Many orange juices are fortified with calcium.
  • Shake calcium fortified non-dairy milks before pouring as the calcium can settle to the bottom.
  • The calcium in kale, broccoli, collard greens, and soymilk is all absorbed relatively well.
  • The calcium in spinach, Swiss chard, and beet greens is not well absorbed, due to their high content of oxalates, which bind calcium.
  • Calcium supplements can inhibit iron absorption if eaten at the same time. (4).
  • In addition to the calcium in the leafy greens listed on the right, leafy greens also contain vitamin K which is good for bones.
  • The Daily Value for calcium on food labels is 1,000 mg. Therefore,if a food label says it has 25% of the daily value, it means it has 250 mg of calcium per serving.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

CCAN'S Polar Bear Plunge !

                 Some of the 200+ people who braved the icy waters ...note the actual ice on the shore !
Chesapeake Climate Action Network held it's 6th annual Polar Bear Plunge to raise both awareness of climate change and to help fund their ongoing efforts to Fight Global Warming--Keep Winter Cold !   CCAN, headed up by founder Mike Tidwell,  works tirelessly educating the public as well as public officials.   This year, Congresswoman Donna Edwards of Prince Georges County plunged to show her support !   Here's a snippet from CCAN's website about the event:
OXON HILL, Md. – Holding signs that said “Keep Winter Cold” and “Save the Polar Bears,” hundreds of DC-area residents plunged into the freezing Potomac River Saturday urging the new U.S. Congress to take real action on global warming. With extreme weather intensifying worldwide, including unusually intense recent snowfall in the U.S. consistent with climate change, participants urged elected officials to embrace electric cars and offshore wind power instead of dirty oil and coal.
So, what does all this have to do with New Leaf Vegan Society, ?   Well, New Leaf provided about 300 cookies and muffins to the hungry masses...over 200 of them !    I baked my buns off for several days, but man...people go through that stuff like crazy !    I used recipes from Isa Chandra Moskowitz's Veganomicon for Carrot Orange Muffins ( adapted from her Applesauce Oatbran recipe ) Chewy Oatmeal Raisin cookies, and from her Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar some awesome Deluxe Cocoa Brownies and Banana Oatmeal Breakfast cookies.    I also adapted a recipe for Ginger Molasses Cookies I found on Vegweb.   Lori Hill of Lori Hill Productions ( green weddings and events and a dynamo speaker ! ) invited New Leaf back ( this is our 3rd year ! ) and encourages me to spread the vegan word with brochures I bring and leave on the table with the baked goods. 
New Leaf's own Jamie plunged for CCAN, and we havent added up his pledges yet, but it looks like we may have made the $ 350.00 goal ( relatives are sending checks, so we're not sure yet ! ).   I ( Dale ) do not's WAY too cold for me, but I hold Jamie's robe and take pictures !    Check out Vineet's blog, the Green Vine for a nice slide show of the event !

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Three New -To-Me Cookbooks

Just got three more vegan cookbooks the other day ( of the 3,603 "vegan " titles listed at Amazon ! ) and can't wait to get started sampling some recipes.   Colleen Patrick-Goudreau's Color Me Vegan is the newest and looks especially promising with it's refreshingly creative layout and emphasis on nutrition and flavor from the whole rainbow of  plant-based foods.  Each color gets an essay on the unique nutrition it brings to the table, handy prep tips and recipes from Starters and Salads  to Desserts. From the "Orange" chapter :  Roasted Orange Beets with Tangerines,Peanut Pumpkin Soup and General Custard's Cream Pie with Almond Oat Crust...just 3 of the 18 recipes in that chapter alone !   Read some of the 30+  reader reviews on this latest of Colleen's cookbooks  on Amazon here.
When not writing cookbooks, Colleen Patrick-Goudreau produces very helpful podcasts and is behind an amazing website that offers forums, recipes and much more.  See it all here, at

Vegan On The Cheap , by Robin Robertson  , is welcome addition to her long list ( 6 ! ) of cookbooks, and would be a good choice to go along with her essential Vegan Planet, since this new book has some great recipes for meat alternatives that were missing in it, including a recipe for "Big Stick Pepperoni" and "Smoky Tempeh Bits" ( a tasty stand-in for bacon bits ).   She proves that eating vegan does not have to be expensive, and lists the costs per serving of each dish.   I have my eyes on the "Corned Seitan and Cabbage" recipe for St. Patty's day :)

And last but not least is The Nutritional Yeast Cookbook, by Joanne Stepaniak.   All the recipes in this slim book ( 143 pages ) use Red Star brand Vegetarian Support Formula Flakes nutritional yeast. This particular brand is vegan, some are not...they may have added whey.   And I know...what a sad, utilitarian name...there ought to be a campaign to find a more inviting name for this incredible food !  I got this book to gain a better understanding of nutritional yeast (NY ) in a vegan diet, and to check out the recipes.  There is a short chapter on how it's grown, harvested and dried in preparation to be sold as a finished product, and a nice chart listing its amazing nutritional profile ( just 1.5 tablespoons has 8.34 grams of protein, 8mcg of vitamin b12, 3.9 grams of fiber...and loads of other nutrients ), followed by lots of recipes from breakfast items to desserts.    There's Classic Quiche with Cheddary Crust,  Creamy Kale and Potato Chowder, and Apple Babka.  NY really is a chameleon...I've used it myself to enrich baked goods ( 1-2 tablespoons, sprinkled on popcorn,  added to sauces and gravies and it's a must for making "cheezy" sauces !   I love the stuff, altho it took me  awhile to get over it's name and apparent obscurity ( I'd never been aware of it before going vegan ).  All recipes in this book are vegan :)     This same author wrote The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook, which pretty much covers the same ground as this book, and then builds on it.   Buy The Ultimate Uncheese Cookbook.