How Much Protein Do You Really Need?

Fact or Myth? “There is not enough protein in a vegan diet.

Let’s analyze this comment by doing some calculations on a vegan/plant based diet.

To get a complete protein with all your essential amino acids when eating only a plant based diet, it is best you eat two of the three of the following food groups every day :

#1 Nuts

#2 Whole grains

#3 Legumes

The one nutrient that is impossible to get enough of is Vitamin B12. So you have to supplement with Methylcobalamin supplement. This is available at Costco!

How to calculate your daily Protein needs:

  1. You need to know your ideal body weight. NOT your actual weight unless you are one of the fortunate few whose weight is between a BMI (Body Mass Index) of 19-24.9. Majority of Americans have a BMI is 25 or more (Asians that number starts at 23 or more). A BMI of >25 is in the overweight or obese categories. This would not be considered your ideal body weight. To calculate your ideal body weight use a BMI chart to figure this out. Below is a BMI chart I screen shot from internet (apologies for blurriness but you can get a better view from this link https://www.hmrprogram.com/resources/getting-started/bmi-chart ).
  2. Find your height by looking in the first column- I circled 5’4″. After you find that on chart, go across to your weight. If it is not in the Green zone, then you need to calculate your ideal weight. Go back to Green zone for you height level. Pick any of the weight from Green zone for your height. Big boned folks pick BMI of 24. Average person pick 23. For example for someone who is 5’4″ and a BMI of 21. That persons ideal body weight is 122 lbs. For BMI of 23, that 5’4″person’s ideal body weight would be 134 lbs.
  3. This will be the weight you use to calculate your daily protein needs.
BMI chart

3. Once you know your ideal body weight, you will need to multiply it by the RDA (Recommended Daily Allowance) of protein per pound of ideal body weight. So for average adult that factor would be 0. 36.

RDA is Recommended Daily Allowance

The chart below gives you some estimations.

Estimaton of RDA of Protein based on weight in pounds for Average Adults

Back to our example. Ideal body weight 122 lbs X 0.36 = 44 gm of protein per day is the RDA. Using the weight of 134 lbs ->48 gm

4. Here is a chart of foods and the amount of protein that it contains.

Sample diet for our 5’4″ example person who needs 44gm pf protein per day.

As you can see a Vegan Diet supplies plenty of protein.

Our example person needed 44 gm of protein a day and the sample diet supplied 55-72 gm of protein per day.

Of course if you are a bigger person, you portion sizes would be larger and hence protein amounts increases accordingly. Plus for athletes, there are many varieties of protein powders and drinks to meet increase protein needs.

So there we have it. “There is not enough protein in a vegan diet.IS A MYTH

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Vegan Shaming :(

I recently hosted a 12 person dinner party with the following Vegan Menu:

Appetizers– Tomato salsa, guacamole, organic blue corn chips, olives, crackers w vegan cream cheese topped with Seaweed Roe and Habanero salsa, grapes strawberries, popcorn, dark chocolate almonds

Main Dish – Homemade vegan burgers with these side dishes: Eggplant Moju, Pumpkin Curry and Kale-coconut Sambol

Dessert -Vegan Strawberry chocolate cake (Whole Foods) w coconut ice cream

So shocked to be subjected to these negative comments from some of the guests:

  1. It’s not enough protein for me
  2. I can’t live without my red meat
  3. I love red meat
  4. Who cares about getting Alzheimer, I will be comfortable in a nursing home
  5. Cows and global warming it’s fake news
  6. I have fatigue when I do not eat meat
  7. Too many pesticides in vegetables. Organic is fake
  8. No human studies to show pesticides, GMO are bad for us. So what if bad for animals
  9. Something was wrong with me (the host) bc I only ate plants

Wow. One person starts a negative comment and then others feel they have permission to join in. Herd mentality. Next thing you know everyone is making fun of people who eat a plant based diet. I felt like everyone was ganging up on me, the person who spent hours preparing a homemade meal. Rude. Is this what it is like in the school yard when a kid who is different gets bullied? Have people lost their sense of grace? Sense of appreciation? What was their intention? Lucky, I am grounded enough not to let this phase me.

I am not sure how these people were brought up, but I teach my kids this: Always be a great guest, no matter how much you disagree with something or someone. Find something positive to say. Be grateful that you were invited and thankful for friendship. Appreciate the work your host put into the dinner.  Go out of your comfort zone and try something new and different. Practice giving positive compliments. If you don’t, you might not have another chance because likely you will not be invited back.

“Roe” from Ikea and so are the quality of these directions 😉

Step by step guide for Successful Dinner Party for 8-12 people

This blog is a step by step guide to hosting a successful 4 hour dinner party.

  • Make everyone feel special by considering your guests’ dietary needs like food allergies, intolerances, pescatarian, vegetarian, vegan, Kosher, lactose free, gluten free, etc. You can ask this question in the invitation. You want to be inclusive of everyone’s needs at your party. Something for everyone. People gave up their time to come, so make it worth their while 🙂
  • Request an RSVP at least 1 week before the event so you can plan things properly. Always plan for an extra guest or 2.

Some preliminaries to set your foundation for success:

  • Timing is important. You want all your hot foods to be ready at the same time. Slow cookers, rice cookers, and chafing pans are very useful to keep food warm until ready to serve. The food for dinner needs to be ready all at the same time. Write down a protocol with a timeline. What you are going to do and when. It starts days before and the day of the event. Included on this list should be cleaning up your place before the party.
  • You can always get hired help to assist in clean up at beginning and end, cook and serve. Local High School may have students willing to help especially those who have studied culinary arts or worked in a restaurant.

As the host, make sure everyone is engaging in the activities or conversation.

Menu wise, I always avoid Dairy (with some exceptions ) and sugar (honey is OK). Try to keep local and seasonal and organic.

Sample Menu: Appetizers, Drinks, Main Meal, Desserts

Standard Appetizers: Purchase these 2-4 days before event or if you are really busy most groceries stores deliver.

  • Comte Cheese from French Alps made from Raw milk and fermented 8-36 months, Brie, Vegan Cashew and or coconut milk cheese. Serve with Crackers of your choice.
  • Smoked Wild Salmon decorated with thin Lemon slices, Capers and or Dill. Serve with Crackers of your choice.
cheese serving tray
  • Fresh finger fruits like grapes , strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and or blackberries
  • Olives or Olive Tapenade. Serve with Crackers of your choice.
  • Guacamole or Salsa served with Corn Chips

Drinks:

  • Red and White wine. My general rule- no red wine drinking near carpet. In a small group people generally respect this
  • Beer(s)
  • Kombucha is very popular these days
  • Iced tea
  • Water, plain and carbonated, lemon and or lime slices
  • Coffee and Teas
  • No soda, no juice

Make sure you have lots of ice on hand.

Main Dish :

Stews can be made 2-3 days before and heated up on stove or microwave and kept warm in chafing dish. Slow cookers are also handy for stews. Good to do this so you can focus on your guests during party. On the day of party, if serving rice, use a rice cooker. Set this up the night before. You can set timer so it can be ready when dinner starts or kept warm until you are ready to serve it. Some pastas can be ready in 5-10minutes. I boil some water in electric kettle and some on stove. Then combined the 2. This saves time.

Having your party catered in another option or bring in a chef. But that really adds to the cost. I have not done well with potlucks. The flavors of dishes that people bring don’t always complement each other and some people can bring some very unhealthy foods eg. Deep fried foods, processed foods, meaning they buy them because they don’t cook to have time to cook.

Easy Vegan main dish: examples Baked Tofu Bowl , Spaghetti or Fusilli with garlic marinara sauce or capellini with olive oil, chopped garlic, olives, and fresh basil (pescatarian can add chopped anchovies). I have posted other dishes on my blog, plus more to come in future. You can even have as an activity, all your guess make their own food, like rolling sushi or spring rolls. It is rather a fun thing to do together.

Toppings:

Pickled Beets*, Kim Chee and or Pickled Asian greens/veggies ( fermented food benefits) , Dulse dried Seaweed, Nutritional Yeast (latter is a vegan substitute for Parmesan Cheese).

Sides:

  • Spinach with onions can be prepared night before, then heated up and kept warm in a Chafing pan
  • Roasted Cauliflower
  • Make a salad dressing night before. Buy pre-washed organic baby kale or your favorite greens. Some come as mixes with carrots, cabbage etc. Open when ready to serve and mix with dressing. You should own a large wood salad bowl for tossing (Ikea has these).

Dessert:

Prepare 1-2 days before.

Examples

  • Chocolate Pudding
  • Vegan ice cream or sorbet topped with fresh berries, sprinkle with liqueur (optional). Top with a tablespoon of almond or coconut yogurt. Then decorate with a mint leaf and or dark chocolate shaving. Skip the ice cream/sorbet if you want to keep sugar content down.
  • Offer coffee and tea (black and herbal)

Teach the practice of Hara Hachi Bu

The Japanese phrase, Hara Hachi Bu, means eat until you are 80% full. Higher caloric intake and overeating is common in USA. The Okinawans have a custom of self-imposed calorie restriction and regularly consume only 1,800 to 1,900 calories a day. This is a few hundred calories less than what the average American consumes. This is likely a major contributor to Okinawans remarkable health and long life spans.

*Beets contain Nitrates, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. It has heart, BP, cognitive and endurance benefits https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/are-nitrates-and-nitrites-harmful#section

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments below

Baked Tofu Bowl as Main Dish

Topped with Kim Chi and Asian Pickled Greens, Sweet Potatoes, Spinach

This recipe is for the Baked Tofu. The bowl is filled with Brown Rice, then topped with Seasoned Tommy’s Sweet Potatoes from Costco, Spinach, Pickled Veggies, Baked Tofu recipe is below. To keep it low carb, you can skip the rice and use a bed of your favorite lettuce.

Set Oven for 400 degrees.

One package of Organic Extra Firm Tofu (14oz). Do not buy the super extra firm because it is so hard, it does not absorb the marinate, hence lacks flavor.

Drain fluid off Tofu. While still in box, cut Tofu into 1/2 x 2 inch pieces.

Cut Tofu in the box

Place into a medium glass dish and pour in enough marinate to cover the tofu pieces. Examples of marinates are Teriyaki, Curry or Gyoza dipping sauce. Cover. Marinate at least 2 hours to over night in refrigerator.

Grease a baking sheet with coconut oil. Spread out the Tofu pieces evenly onto sheet.

Bake at @ 400 degrees 15mins x 2 -> At 15min mark, flip tofu over and continue to bake for another 15mins. Although I don’t bother with flipping. It seems to turn out ok. You could use a metal rack to have the underside bake. I prefer to use Pure Convection setting on my oven. You get crispier results. For my oven, if I am using convection, I lower the temp by 25 degrees and reduce time by 10%. You need to know your oven…bon appétit.

Let me know how yours turn out in the comments.

Iodine in our Diets and Cancer Risk

Unfortunately, most Americans are not getting enough Iodine. It is important to get the correct amount because it affects your thyroid function therefore your metabolism. Plus Iodine may help reduce the risk of our most frequent cancers: breast and prostate. (1)

Prior to 1920’s, around the Great Lakes, Appalachians and Northwest were known as the “goiter belt.” People had significant iodine deficient. 30-40% of the population had goiters as a result. (2) This decreased significantly when iodine was added to table salt.

Thereafter, Americans are getting most of their dietary iodine from table salt. 1/4 teaspoon of iodized table salt contains about 71 mcg iodine along with 575mg of sodium. We now tell people to reduce/avoid salt for health reasons.(4) Plus if your salt has been sitting around, the iodine added to your salt has an expiration date of 5 years from manufacturing date.

The amount of iodine you need each day depends on your age and health circumstance. Average Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) amounts are listed below in micrograms (mcg). (3)

Life StageRecommended Amount
Birth to 6 months110 mcg
Infants 7-12 months130 mcg
Children 1-8 years90 mcg
Children 9-13 years120 mcg
Teens 14-18 years150 mcg
Adults150 mcg
Pregnant teens and women220 mcg
Breastfeeding teens and women290 mcg

Besides iodized table salt, other sources of Iodine in diet are: (mcg of iodine)(5)(6)(7)

  • Iodized salt: 1/4 tsp 71mcg
  • Kelp, 1/4 cup wet: 415 mcg or more. Amount is highly variable
  • Seaweed, dried, 1 ounce: up to 18,000 mcg. Amount is highly variable
  • Oysters (per 100gms): 160mcg
  • Canned salmon (per 100gms): 60mcg
  • Bread (except organic) (per 100gms): 46 mcg
  • Haddock, 3 ounces: 104-145 mcg
  • Cod, 3 ounces: 99 mcg
  • Shrimp, 3 ounces: 21-37 mcg
  • Processed fish sticks: 17 mcg per piece
  • Tuna, canned, 3 ounces: 17 mcg
  • Milk, 1 cup: 55-60 mcg
  • Cottage cheese, 1/2 cup: 25-75 mcg
  • Egg, 1 large: 18-29 mcg
  • Turkey breast, cooked, 3 ounces: 34 mcg
  • Ground beef, cooked, 3 ounces: 8 mcg

Other sources

  • Vitamins (prenatal, labelled content per daily serving): 75–200 μg4
  • Amiodarone (per 200 mg): 75,000 μg
  • Iodinated contrast (free iodine content, per CT scan): 13,500 μg
  • Topical iodine (povidone iodine): variable, usually 1–5%
  • Expectorants, mouthwashes, vaginal douches: variable
  • Saturated solution of potassium iodide (per drop): 50,000 μg

Not getting enough Iodine can be related to cancer. But so can too much. The Japanese have less breast and prostate cancer than Americans. (8) A possible explanation is that they consume a lot foods originating from the ocean. They consume up 10-100 times more iodine in their diet than Americans. (9)(10) Now I am not saying we should eat that much. The upper limits of Iodine ingestion is maximum 1,100 mcg of iodine per day. (3)

When you consume too little or too much, it likely will cause thyroid dysfunction and poorer health outcomes. How your thyroid is going to react is not predictable. There have been some cases of thyroid cancer in Japanese who consume too much iodine. (11)

The upper limits for iodine by age and health circumstance are listed below. These levels do not apply to people who are taking iodine for medical reasons and or under the care of a doctor.

Life StageUpper Limit
Birth to 12 months:Not established
Children 1-3 years:200 mcg
Children 4-8 years:300 mcg
Children 9-13 years:600 mcg
Teens 14-18 years:900 mcg
Adults:1,100 mcg

When consuming natural forms of iodine from diet, the amount consumed can’t be exact because nature is not exact. For example, Dulse flakes, a 3 gram (one tablespoon) serving equals 330% RDA, meaning a one teaspoon amount is all you should take per day. Hard to know how much exposure you get to heavy metals when eating things from the sea. Consuming it with cilantro and garlic may reduce the absorption of some of these heavy metals.

How your thyroid reacts to too much iodine is not predictable. Getting the Recommended Daily Amount is important.

(1) Pearce, E.N. (2015, Winter). Is Iodine Deficiency reemerging in the United States? Retrieved from https://journals.aace.com/doi/pdf/10.4158/EP14472.CO

(2) Meletis, C.D. and Zabriskie, N. (2007, Jun 29). Iodine, a Critically Overlooked Nutrient. Retrieved from https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/act.2007.13309?journalCode=act

(3) NIH, (2016, Feb 17). https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iodine-Consumer/

(4) Leonard, J. (2018, Jul 30). Does pink Himalayan salt have any health benefits? Retrieved from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/315081.php

(5) Leung, A.M. and Braverman, L.E. (2013, Dec 17). Consequences of excess iodine. Retrieved from http:// https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3976240/

(6)Diet Health, Inc. Retrieved from https://www.diet.com/g/iodine

(7)Food Standards. (2019). Retrieved from http://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/nutrition/iodinefood/Pages/default.aspx

(8) Kargar, S. and Shiryazdi, S.M. et al. (2017). Urinary Iodine Concentrations in Cancer Patients. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5464505/

(9)Rappaport, J. (2017, Jan 13). Changes in Dietary Iodine Explains Increasing Incidence of Breast Cancer with Distant Involvement in Young Women. Retrieved from http://www.jcancer.org/v08p0174.htm

(10) Zava, T.T. and Zava, D.T. (2011, Oct 5). Assessment of Japanese iodine intake based on seaweed consumption in Japan: A literature-based analysis. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3204293/

(11) Michikawa, T. et al. (2012, May). Seaweed consumption and the risk of thyroid cancer in women: the Japan Public Health Center-based Prospective Study. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22414981

American Thyroid Association. (2013, Jun 5). ATA Statement on the Potential Risks of Excess Iodine Ingestion and Exposure. Retrieved from https://www.thyroid.org/ata-statement-on-the-potential-risks-of-excess-iodine-ingestion-and-exposure/

https://www.veggiechallenge.com/concerns/vegetarians-veganssalt-high-blood-pressure-iodine-and-soy/

Roasted Cauliflower with Vegan Aioli dip

Ingredients:

One head of cauliflower cut into floret pieces, or buy ready cut

olive oil spray

salt and pepper

1/2 cup Trader Joe’s Vegan Spread and dressing

1 tsp minced garlic

Sriracha Sauce optional

Prep:

Spray a baking sheet pan with olive oil. Put the florets in pan, spreading them out. Spray the Florets with olive oil.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Bake at 425 deg x 25-30 mins. Until tips are golden brown. I use pure convention, adjusting the time and temperature accord to your oven.

Meanwhile to make the dipping sauce, mix the remaining ingredients in a bowl.

Serve while still warm. Use as appetizer or side dish.

Honey Tofu Chocolate Pudding

Does not require any cooking

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

5 tbsp raw honey,

1/4 tsp salt.

One squeeze of lemon,

1/2 cup Cacao powder

14 oz soft Tofu- put into a food processor or blender 

Coconut oil 2 tsp

Coconut milk  3-6 tbsp

Vanilla 1 -2 tsp

18 Raspberries and Fresh Mint leaves to decorate

Prep:

Blend all the ingredients (except Raspberries and Mint) until smooth, divide up to fill  6 ramekins. Cool in refrigerator at least 30 mins or cover tightly store overnight.

Top w fresh berries and garnish w fresh mint before serving.

Sauté Spinach and Onions

Side dish for 6

Ingredients:

1 small or 1/2 large onion, chopped

1-2 tsp garlic, chopped

1 tsp ginger, grated

2 tbsp Avocado oil

1 – 16 oz bag of frozen organic spinach

1/2 cup Vegetable broth or 1 tsp Vegan Bouillon

Squeeze of lemon or sprinkle of apple cider vinegar

Salt and Pepper

Prep:

Heat oil in a wok. Add onions, garlic, ginger, sauté over medium heat, until onions look clear.

Add bag of spinach, broth, continue to stir until liquid evaporates. Add rest of ingredients

You have option to add 1/2 cup mushrooms in with the onions

Serve on top of brown rice, noodles or pasta along side a protein like grilled Tofu or Vegan Chili.

On Bringing Flight Attendants Gifts

It is a very tough job being a flight attendant. They really do work hard with very little thanks or appreciation. Some passenger behave like they are entitled to the service (and this behavior is in public…wonder home they behave at home..).

I recommend we all bring them something. Everyone loves a gift. Luggage limitations means it has to be physically small in size.

I like to gift this natural spray hand sanitizer from Trader Joe’s. If they don’t always in stock, you can always make one too (click on Homemade Hand Sanitizer). The aromatherapy of the essential oils can change the mood of the air plane cabin. Quite often people will say what is that? It smells wonderful.

I like the spray sanitizer over the gels bc I can use the spray to sanitize my seating area too. The screen, tray, arm rest and seat belt. The natural wet wipe that I use to wipe down is typically gray after wiping everything. These areas never get wiped clean so I am doing the airlines a favor.

***********

The basic essentials oils that I usually mix are:

  • Citrus for cheering things up – favorites are tangerine, lemon, grapefruit. Also consider sweet orange, bergamot.
  • Peppermint to energize.
  • Lavender to calm.

At the time of writing, the TJ hand sanitizer costs $1.99.

I have brought extra viral face masks with me on flights and offered it to coughing people with runny noses around me, so that they don’t make me or anyone else sick. Amazing how many people will say, “I am not sick, it is just allergies”. I don’t get it, Denial, selfish or what? In those situations, I put on the mask. They do reduce respiratory germ transmission.

If you have any suggestions for gifts, please write it in the comments. I avoid candy, cookies, etc bc they are unhealthy empty calories. Except maybe dark chocolates. Although that can be difficult in hotter climates, as chocolate tends to melt. Make sure any food you give is well wrapped and sealed.

Other gift suggestions: Luggage tags that represent where you are from or tell a story.

Using Reusable Straws

Headline: Los Angeles County to ban Plastic Straws. About time. These images of plastic straws polluting our earth’s water ways and hurting wild life are disturbing.

Since I last wrote about using metal reusable straws, I discovered silicone and bamboo straws. Straws are useful if you have sensitive teeth, want to keep your teeth from staining, have orthodontic work or unable to drink from a cup bc of health reasons. I like the silicone ones the best due to their “flexibility” but bamboo straws are 100% natural and biodegradable. The hole in the bamboo straw is smaller than silicone, so not useful for thick smoothies. The metal straws can feel harsh against your teeth.

I needed the longer the 11 inch silicone straw for my 20 oz stainless steel thermo container.

After use, the silicone straw tucks nicely into my container for storage until I get home. Otherwise a wet straw is a messy thing to handle. Checklist when purchasing a container:

  • dishwasher safe for lazy cleaning
  • wide mouth so you can add powders and or pour smoothie in it easily and also easy cleaning
  • an attached smaller lid so you won’t lose it.
  • the part that touches your mouth is completely covered by the lid to avoid contamination and dirt getting on it
  • if going to use in car, make sure not so wide that it will not fit into a cup holder
  • avoid plastic. BPA and BPS (the BPA substitute) are both bad for you
  • stainless steel and glass are the most neutral. The silicone covered glass is less breakable
  • Double thickness containers insulate better so drinks can be kept either hot or cold longer. Plus the neutral temperature of the exterior of the container makes it more comfortable to hold onto

How to fold your silicone straw into your container when finished

The silicone ones have the advantage of being folded into a small container like a pill bottle or extra orthodontic retainer container. This makes it much easier to carrier around with you.

To clean these straws: You can do by hand or put the silicone ones in the dishwasher. Since these silicone ones are larger, they do not fall threw the holes in the cutlery rack. I would not recommend putting the bamboo ones in dishwasher bc they might splinter and crack. The straws almost always come with a brush too.

Hand washing: Soak for minute or two in soapy water, make sure some of water gets into the center of straw. Wiggle it around a bit. Clean inside with brush. Rinse. Dry on a rack that drains.

My vegan lunch smoothie recipe to be posted soon.

Please leave me any comments or questions. I look forward to them!