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    News — #vegan

    Eating Seasonally: Spring

    It’s September, which means spring and we can certainly feel the change in climate in sunny Queensland already! After a couple of months of warm, cosy winter stews and soups we’re ready to dive into some of our favourite lighter dishes again.

    Spring means warmer weather, leaves on the trees, flowering plants, and the appearance of fresh, light spring veggies. Spring is all about detoxifying foods that are refreshing and regenerating. They’re light and fresh, like crisp asparagus (a classic spring veggie), beets and green leafy veggies.

    We know that certain fruits and vegetables flourish at certain times of the year, and it’s a good idea to buy seasonal produce however because grocery stores stock just about everything all year round, it’s sometimes easy to forget what’s in season and what’s not. 

    A good tip is to take a walk around your local farmer’s market and see what kinds of produce are available – these will usually be the ones that are in season.

    There are many benefits to eating seasonally.  The food is at its freshest, tastes the best, is best for you, is more sustainable, and is usually cheaper. It also allows us to get back to the roots of local and sustainable eating, by supporting local businesses and our local community as a whole.  

    Seasonal fruits and veggies that have been allowed to fully ripen on the plant and picked at the peak of freshness are better quality and higher in nutrition compared to produce that is picked unripe and then transported to different areas or countries.

    Foods that are harvested in your local area at a certain time are also dealing with the same environmental factors that you are. For example, summer fruits and veggies are often higher in water content (e.g. tomatoes or watermelons), which makes sense given that during summer we are often hot and sweaty and need more hydration from our diet.

    Tomatoes also contain an antioxidant called lycopene which research has shown to be helpful in protecting our skin against the sun’s rays…so it does make sense why tomatoes thrive in warmer weather. Eating local sustainable produce allows for maximum nutrition that is tailored to your local environment.

    Eating foods that are in season gives you the opportunity to appreciate the foods that are available, and allows for more variety in your diet as seasonal foods are constantly shifting – a wonderful cycle that allows you to experience each food.

    We’ve been cooking dishes that feature lots of Spring seasonal veggies the past few weeks, like our one-pot Greek Chicken with Zucchini and Potatoes, and our Roast Fennel with Chickpea Skordalia, Grilled Zucchini and Cherry Tomatoes. 

    What veggies are in season this spring? Print out our handy list of spring seasonal veggies and hang it on your fridge!

     

    The Healing Properties of Turmeric: Could Curcumin Play a Role in Cancer Prevention

     

    It seems that not only is Curcumin a powerful anti-inflammatory, it may play a role in protecting us against cancer.

    The study of plant-derived substances has evolved in the last 200 years, after the discovery that different active compounds can be derived from plants and studied for their health benefits. One such compound that has gained a lot of attention is the polyphenol curcumin, which is present in the yellow-orange turmeric spice powder.

    Curcumin was first isolated in 1815 by two scientists from Harvard College Laboratory. Since then, it has been studied extensively for its powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial and antiviral activities. In particular, it was found that curcumin could influence a wide range of molecules that play a role in cancer, and this unsurprisingly sparked a new area of interest among researchers – the study of curcumin and its anti-cancer potential.

    Since 1987, the National Cancer Institute has tested over 1000 different agents for their potential chemopreventative activities (meaning the ability to reduce the risk of, or delay the development of cancer). Only about 40 of those ever moved to clinical trials, with one of those being curcumin.

    Chemopreventative agents are usually grouped into three different subgroups:

    1. Antiproliferatives (substances used to prevent or slow cell growth, particularly malignant cells, into surrounding tissues)
    2. Antioxidants (compounds that protect your cells from the damaging effects of free radicals)
    3. Carcinogen-blocking agents (agents that disrupt the mechanisms that drive carcinogenesis, such as DNA damage)

    As identified by researchers in a 2013 review, curcumin is found to belong to all three of these subgroups, and appears to play a role in helping to slow and/or block every stage of cancer, findings which help shed light on the potential powerful anticancer capabilities of curcumin.

    Back in 1987 an interesting study examined the effects of curcumin on the DNA mutating ability of several toxins, and found that it was a successful anti-mutagen (an agent that helps to prevent the mutations of a compound) against several environmental carcinogens (however this was conducted in test tubes, not on humans).

    Following on from this, a 1992 study was conducted studying the effects of eating less than 1 tsp of turmeric every day for a month, on a group of non-smokers vs smokers. After the month was over, the smoker group saw significant decreases in DNA mutagens in their urine (however it still exceeded that of the non-smoker group, so it’s better not to smoke at all).

    There have been many more studies and systematic reviews conducted since then, focusing on the potential health benefits of dietary turmeric, with findings showing the inhibition of cell growth in many types of cancerous cells, shedding light on curcumin as an anti-mutagen and its potential usefulness in chemoprevention.  There’s certainly a lot of exciting research out there in the world of “food as medicine”.

    Tumeric has many other benefits and properties, particulary acting as an anti-inflammatory agent.  We love using it in our meals and our vegan protein powder blends.

    Turmeric can be purchased in powder form from the spice aisle of the supermarket, or as fresh turmeric root (looks a little like ginger root), which is also usually available from most grocery stores in the fresh produce section.  For enhanced bio-availability use pepper with turmeric.

    Do you have turmeric in your spice cabinet? If so, how do you like to use it? 

    Responsible health advice: There is no one size fits all approach to nutrition or the healing properties of food.  If you are unwell please seek professional advice.
     
    References:
    -Anand, P., Sundaram, C., Jhurani, S., Kunnumakkara, A. B., and Aggarwal, B. B. (2008). Curcumin and cancer: an “old-age” disease with an “age-old” solution. Cancer Lett. 267, 133–164. 
    -Nagabhushan M, Amonkar AJ, Bhide SV. In vitro antimutagenicity of curcumin against environmental mutagens. Food Chem Toxicol. 1987;25(7):545-547. 
    -Park W, Amin AR, Chen ZG, Shin DM. New perspectives of curcumin in cancer prevention [published correction appears in Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2017 Jun;10 (6):371]. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2013;6(5):387-400. 

     

     

     

    Author:
    Lisa Cutforth
    B.Sc Nutrition with Psychology (Dual Degree)
    Consulting Clinical Nutritionist to The Banyans Wellness Retreat
    Owner and Managing Director of Wholesomeness and Wholesomeness-on-Roma

     

    This Month is Meat-Free May!

    This Month is Meat-Free May!

    Meat-Free May is an Australian campaign that began about 7 years ago, and each year more and more Aussies give it a go! If you missed Veganuary and need a challenge to keep you going through the current pandemic, why not give Meat-Free May a try?  (And if you are looking for inspiration watch "The GameChangers" if you haven't already).  ISO has given many an opportunity to do some Netflix binging.  Unfortunately, many have also found themselves binging a bit too much on junk food or processed foods.  Why not teat May as a "detox" opportunity?

    Going vegan or even just vegetarian opens up a whole new world of foods, some that you may have never tried before or even knew existed. Tempeh? Quinoa? Nutritional Yeast? They may have funny names but some of the best vegan staples are bursting with nutrition and health-promoting factors.

    With a vast kingdom of plants to choose from, plant-based cooking introduces new variety into your diet, and allows you to try new cuisines and new recipes. Many studies have shown that a diversified and varied diet is an essential component of healthy living and reducing disease risk, and the introduction of more plant-based foods is the perfect way to do that.

    Are you up for the challenge? So many delicious veggie-focussed dishes to try! Read on for some ways you can participate this month…

    1. Simply just being aware:
    You can still participate in Meat-Free May without committing yourself to anything. Simply just being aware of your choices and what meals you can veganize or make more plant based can help you to explore and get out of your comfort zone. Who knows, your perception might just shift and you might end up cooking lots of veggie meals this month!  
     
    2. One day a week meat-free:
    Did you know that going meat-free one day a week is a fun and free way to reduce your risk of chronic preventable diseases, limit your carbon footprint and help save resources in the environment like fresh water and fuel?

    Going meat-free just one day per week is enough to introduce more variety into your diet, as well as extra vitamins, nutrients and fibre, all while being exposed to some seriously delicious food!

    Choose a day of the week that will be a complete vegan or vegetarian day for you (Monday might be a good option because it’s the start of the week and is a great time for setting your intentions for the rest of the week). Write down a few breakfast, lunch and dinner options – make sure they include foods that you like, but also try to incorporate some new foods here and there.
     
    3. Go all in:
    The third way that you can participate this month is to jump all the way in! You could choose to go vegan or vegetarian, whichever is better suited to you at this time. A month may seem like a long time (especially if you are a big meat-eater), but it doesn’t have to be hard or stressful.

    The first thing that you can do is think about what you eat that’s already vegan or vegetarian. You probably already have a few recipes up your sleeve that are vegan or vegetarian, but you just don’t label them as such. For example, pasta with tomato marinara sauce, or a vegetarian chilli.

    Veganise recipes that are familiar favourites. For example, leave out the meat in your favourite stir-fry and use tofu or tempeh instead. Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth in your favourite soups, add a variety of beans to your chilli instead of meat, or make a “chickpea tuna” salad for sandwiches using mashed chickpeas instead of tuna.   

    Learn a few new recipes. There are lots of resources out there, as well as plant-based cookbooks with amazing healthy plant-focussed recipes.

    Support your local grocer or food business. Our vegan plan is always available, and during the month of May we are going to be putting some extra love (and there's already a lot in there) into our vegan range to ensure there is lots of variety. Stock your freezer up with a few of our vegan gluten-free meals and Meat-Free May will be easier than you think!

    Are you going to be participating in Meat-Free May this year? If you are, let us know!