Vegan Bytes #22: Happy Vegantines Day!

Welcome to the insider group of subscribers! Our newsletter focuses on helping you learn more about veganism and how to apply it to your daily life. Vegan Bytes is dedicated to keeping you up-to-date with the world of food, answering your vegan nutrition questions, and providing you with ideas on ways to spread your lifestyle beliefs.

In this issue...

*Vegan Thoughts: Reading Into Articles on Healthy Foods
*Products: Vegan Valentine's Day Gift Ideas
*Ebooks: Enter the February Contest for $75 of Nondairy Ice Cream!
*Ebooks: Vegan Nutritionista Ebook Packages
*Question: "What are the healthiest cooking oils?"
*Recipe of the Month: The Best Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
*Hidden Pages: Pages Created Just For You
*Vegan Store: Cute Vegan Tee Shirts
*What's New?: What's new on Vegan Nutritionista?

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How to Decifer the Countless "Healthy Food" Stories


Nutrition is a notoriously confusing subject, mostly because there is so much conflicting advice that seems to be shoved in our faces all the time. What we need to learn is how to decifer the advice we read. Here's my breakdown of how I look into the advice given in a recent article.

CNN recently published a report issued by the American Dietetic Association's spokeswoman, Katherine Tallmadge, that discusses healthy foods you can easily add to your diet.

They are:

  • Grains
  • Soy
  • "Salmon and other oily fish"
  • Red wine
  • Green tea

These are popular reports, and most of us have probably become accustomed to seeing them. Some of us consider them when eating, and a few sticklers look at them and raise an eyebrow. I happen to raise my eyebrow at one in particular.

Can you guess which?

Let me start by saying that I agree with their assessment of grains. Tallmadge says that oats, barley, and rye can help lower cholesterol levels, and prevent the development of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The ADA also reminds the reader to look for "whole" grain breads and specialty crackers with whole rye, oats, and barley.

I also agree to some extent with the recommendation that we eat soy protein to lower the risk of coronary heart disease and lower cholesterol levels. However, I think the recommendation should be more for fermented soy products, such as tempeh and miso, rather than for "soy meats and soy milk." Nowdays even the huge corporate food world is producing soy meats and soy milks, and while that gives us the benefit of more options, it also brings some degradation of the final product to the market.

What I Disagree With...

I take the most issue with the article's recommendation that we eat "Salmon and other oily fish." Their facts about wild salmon are extremely deceptive as almost all salmon on the market is farm raised and completely devoid of nutrition. Tallmadge says, "Wild salmon is a wonderful dish that's not only tasty but is great for you. It cuts inflammation in the body that can lead to heart problems. It's a good source of vitamin D and also contains omega-3 fatty acids that keep the brain and heart healthy."

Of course the ADA isn't designed to take a position on protecting the environment or ending the exploitation of animals for human food, so I don't expect Tallmadge to say anything about it. However, I would prefer that people not be misled by these articles. The salmon most people buy does not have vitamin D or good omega-3 fatty acids, nor does it reduce inflammation. It is simply fatty flesh.

For cruelty-free and nutritionally dense omega-3 fatty acids, opt instead for flax and chia. Flax is widely available in oil and seed form and is abundantly used in cereals, chips, crackers, and breads at most grocery stores. It is excellent for reducing inflammation.

The article goes on to suggest mackerel, sardines, herring, fresh tuna, trout and anchovies for sources of vitamin D. The best vitamin D comes straight from the sun. You should try to get 15 minutes of sun to your face and hands every single day.

There is a side note in the article in which they admit that you should eat fish in moderation because many oily fish has high levels of mercury, which can interfere with the brain and nervous system and isn't safe for pregnant women and child. So why recommend it at all, especially when there are ample options?

Red Wine

Red wine has antioxidants called polyphenols that protect the blood vessels in your heart. Those polyphenols are split into two categories: 1) flavonoids and 2) nonflavonoids. You can get other flavonoids in grape juice, tea, cocoa, beer, white wine, oranges, apples, and onions, but red wine has a high concentration of them. The big nonflavonoid in red wine is reveratrol, which prevents damage to blood vessels, prevents blod clots, and reduces LDL cholesterol.

I know that's a lot of terminology, but basically it's saying that red wine is high in good antioxidants. However, they go on to suggest you only drink 5-10 ounces (5 oz. for women, 10 oz. for men) of red wine a day, which is less than a glass. That suggestion is based on the fact that alcohol isn't good when not in moderation. Basically, you cancel out the good with drinking more than the suggested amount.

I have nothing against red wine, in fact, I love it. But, what I don't love is articles that confuse people. Why suggest something but add fine print? If they want to talk strictly about health benefits, they should recommend fruits high in reservatrol like pomegranates, acai, red grapes, and blueberries.

In fact, Tallmadge says, "It seems all the benefits, like resveratrol, are in the seeds and the skin. So when they crush the red grapes, the benefits stay in the wine."

The article does mention the fact that some studies show that alcohol consumption, even in moderation, leads to an increased risk of developing breast cancer. But, all those warnings come after they've already written "Red Wine" in bold and call it a health food.

Green Tea

Again I am conflicted with the advice to drink green tea for its antioxidant power. The CNN article mentions a study in which 500 Japanese women with breast cancer (stage 1 and 2) are tested. Those who drank more green tea before and after surgery were less likely to redevelop cancer, both of breast and stomach, esophageal, prostrate, pancreatic and colorectal. However, sometimes I wonder if the studies are simply showing that people who drink green tea are also those who live healthier lives and eat healthy foods, therefore also reducing their risk of developing cancer.

Is it really just the green tea, or are green tea drinkers healthier eaters as well?

The other thing that's deceptive about this section is that lower in the paragraph it says "[y]ou have to drink a lot of it ... at least three, up to six cups a day, to get the effect," Tallmadge says. "And that means you use bags or loose tea every time you make a cup." You can't simply buy a bottle of green tea and hope to gain any benefit from it. You have to brew it every time, and you have to do that 3-6 times a day.

How many people reading the article read that far down, and how many of us actually brew 3-6 cups of tea a day?

Nutrition is such a popular subject right now, and I feel that people need to learn to read nutrition articles properly, or those of us writing about nutrition need to be more open. The bullet points at the beginning of the article are misleading because there are stipulations attached to several of the ingredients they suggested.

**Please keep in mind that I am not a registered dietetician or medical practitioner, so please don't consider this to be medical advice.**


Valentine's Day Gift Ideas

Here are some fun Valentine's Day present ideas for your sweetie:


Enter to Win the February Contest!

In honor of February, the month associated with our heart, we are running a contest for heart-warming stories about veganism. All of us could use inspiration from time to time and you never know whose heart you could touch by simply sharing what you've learned in your life.

Do you have a heart-felt, genuine, and inspiring story about how your life was changed through a vegan diet? Share it here and enter to win a huge amount of vegan ice cream, as well as my ebook on veganism, A Fresh New Vegan You.

There are two categories in which to enter:

Physical Change

Psychological/Emotional Change



**Klein's sent me this huge shipment of their soy-based kosher nondairy ice cream to taste test for the winner, and it's great. I prefer the flavor to other soy ice creams like Tofutti. Note: The winner's package will be an assortment of Klein's nondairy flavors worth around $75!


  • All posts entered in these categories between February 9th and March 8th count in the contest.

  • In the March 9th newsletter, every reader will be able to vote on the most inspiring story, with one vote per IP address.

  • The person with the most votes will be notified March 16th and asked for an address for where to send the prizes later that week.

Hurry up and enter and good luck!


Vegan Nutritionista Ebooks

Vegan Meal Plans

Small VMP

Vegan Meal Plans is a complete meal plan for one month vegan weekday dinners. It includes recipes, pictures, nutritional information, grocery lists, and tips and techniques. Everyone from those beginning a vegan diet to those veterans who want fresh menu ideas love this ebook. It focuses on fresh, local, and seasonal vegetables and uses all normal ingredients-- no fussy or gourmet skills needed. Download a copy for only $9.75 here.


I'm in the process of completing a spring meal plan book that will focus on seasonal spring vegetables like kale, lettuce, carrots, peas, strawberries, and more! It will be structured just like the first meal plans, which continues to be the most popular ebook on Vegan Nutritionista. Look for information about how to get it in the next few newsletters.

Vegan Grocery List

This massive, complete vegan grocery list is the only one you'll ever need. Print out copies of it to hang on your fridge, and then mark what you need as you go throughout the week. Download a copy for only $1.99.

A Fresh New Vegan You

A Fresh New Vegan You is a complete look at why people go vegan, including information about factory farms, the environment, and the health benefits. It provides details on how to go vegan, and offers basic vegan nutritional advice, as well as information on vegan pregnancy and raising vegan children. This ebook combines all my vegan research into one easy, convenient location. Download a copy for only $27 here.

Package deal:

Get A Fresh New Vegan You and Vegan Meal Plans with a free copy of the massive Vegan Grocery List for only $33. Save 10%! Download this package here.


"What are the healthiest cooking oils?"



Cathleen, You're my "go to" girl. I couldn't find anything on your site specific to this. What kind of oil should I be purchasing??? Unrefined or refined? Safflower or sesame? Organic or not? Thanks a bunch!


Okay, great questions. I personally take a macrobiotic, holistic stance to food and believe that food should be as whole as possible. So, along those lines...

I go with unrefined rather than refined. I have not done tons of research on this, but the less refinement a food source has, the closer it is to its original form, so the more health benefits it retains.

Safflower oil and sesame oil have totally different flavors, so it depends on what I'm cooking. Tons of Asian dishes have sesame and I love the flavor of it. Safflower has less flavor, so it can be used for more versatile cooking.

With oils, I try to stick to organic. When I'm getting ANYTHING with corn, soy, wheat, or tomatoes, I only buy organic or local from farmer's markets. Those vegetables are the most abused by the food industry and when they are "conventional" they can be genetically modified, full of pesticides, irradiated, and a host of other disgusting and harmful abuses. So, for corn oil and soybean oil, I suggest organic. It will cost more, but it's worth it; not only for the protest you give the food industry against all of the above, but for your health.

Hope that helps!


Have unresolved questions about veganism? Want to share some details and recipes from your vegan Thanksgiving? Join in the discussion on our site by asking and answering questions, as well as commenting on other answers. It's fun and helpful!


Dreena Burton's Homestyle Chocolate Chip Cookies

Small rolling pin

These are by far the best homemade vegan chocolate chip cookies I've ever had. They're even better than Tollhouse's famous recipe. If you don't have it already, you should rush out and get The Everyday Vegan to try her other incredible recipes and to have this one nearby in the kitchen. If you have a limited budget for Vegantine's Day, nothing is sweeter than coming home to freshly baked cookies made by your sweetheart. Try it-- I swear it's an easy recipe!

Note: These cookies don't count as health food, although when made with spelt flour it's much better than most cookies. This is fun food!


1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (or spelt, see below)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup unrefined sugar
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon blackstrap molasses
1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup canola oil
1/3 cup non-dairy chocolate chips


Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a bowl, sift in the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the sugar and salt, and stir until well combined.

In a separate bowl, combine the maple syrup with the molasses and vanilla, then stir in the oil until well combined.

Add the wet mixture to the dry, along with the chocolate chips, and stir through until just well combined (do not over-mix).

Place large spoonfuls of the batter on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and flatten a little.

Bake for 11 minutes, until just golden (if you bake for much longer, they will dry out).

Let cool on the sheet for no more than 1 minute (again, to prevent drying), then transfer to a cooling rack.

Note: Unbleached all-purpose flour or spelt flour produces a more classic cookie taste and texture, but you can use whole-wheat pastry flour and still get a delicious cookie. For a wheat-free version, use spelt flour, but add an extra 2-4 tablespoons of the spelt flour to the dry mix (the amount needed varies with brand of spelt flour and whether you are using a refined spelt flour versus a less processed spelt flour).

Note: If, as you are mixing together your batter it appears quite floury and thick, simply mix together a couple of teaspoons more canola and maple syrup and incorporate it into the batter. Sometimes humidity, type of flour used, and other factors can affect the density of the batter and so a touch more liquid may be needed.

Makes 9-12 average to large sized cookies.


Secret Vegan Nutritionista Pages

Vegan Bytes Insider Password

The following pages are created just for Vegan Bytes Insiders... they are special hidden pages that only you can see, and it's my way of thanking you for reading each month.

The following pages are password-protected and will require a password from you. This password will change occasionally and you will always find the most current password in the most current Vegan Bytes Newsletter.

p.s. case sensitive

Vegan Chemical-Free Gas Remedies
The one negative drawback to eating a vegan diet is that you often eat more fiber than the typical person. Doesn't sound negative, right? Well, it can be for your digestive system. Never fear though... I have researched and found several amazing, natural, chemical-free gas remedies.

Take A Fruit Bouquet Workshop
Fruit Bouquets are a creative way to show someone you care, without having to cut flowers or buy chocolates. Take this workshop to learn how to make your own fruit baskets, including pineapple daisies, chocolate-covered strawberries, and grape tulips.

Learn All About Nut Cheeses
Vegan cheeses are abundant in grocery stores across the world, but most of them are still lacking something. Tree nut cheeses are the fabulous and new (somewhat) addition to the vegan world, and their flavor is unparalleled.


Vegan Tee Shirts

Did you know that...

...pigs are more aware of their surroundings than dogs and 3 year-old children?

...pigs love massages and music?

...cows mourn the loss of their friends, and sometimes cry real tears? chicks learn to peep from their mother... while they're still inside the egg?

...and so many more interesting, adorable facts about farm animals.

Rather than focusing on the depressing messages about factory farms, I think positive shirts about animals bring out the compassion in people around us. Check out these fun vegan tee shirts...


Whats new

Like many websites, Vegan Nutritionista is constantly growing and changing, and if you signed up for this newsletter a long time ago, you might not have read our new information. Our blog page keeps you up-to-date with new articles on the site.

Click here to go to our blog for updates on the site.

We also now have a vegan forum where you can find topics submitted by users for discussion, answers, and places to add your own input. There is no member name required to participate, so you can jump right in and join in the discussion now.

Follow our updates on Twitter:

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Vegan Essentials

Vegan Essentials is one of my very favorite places to shop for vegan supplies. They have everything from clothes and shoes to vegan cheese, and their prices are the best around.

I am an affiliate for them, so anytime someone buys something from Vegan Essentials after using a link from our site, I make a small commission on it. But, I do promise that I would never recommend something that I don't use and love myself.

So if you see a link to Vegan Essentials or any other company on our site for something you like, you can support their company and the running of Vegan Nutritionista as well, or you can always choose to go directly to the company.


That's all for this month!! I hope you enjoyed reading it.

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Have a great month!


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