Saturday, May 11, 2013

Vegan Pineapple Coconut Yogurt and Smoothies!

This idea came from a page that I had visited a little while back that showed you how to make vegan mayonnaise. It is a good recipe, doesn't really taste like mayo, but it does taste good, and makes a nice spread on sandwiches and the like.  While I was thinking of new breakfast ideas, I constantly kept thinking of this recipe and whether or not I could adapt it to be a kind of vegan yogurt.  I looked into it and the recipes I found for that were similar, but required an active culture, which is fine, but I really wanted to try and make something today.  I ended up using the recipe from the page, but leaving out a few components that I really wouldn't enjoy eating first thing in the morning, and adding a few that I would like to eat.

Vegan Blitz Yogurt

Just like any other blitz recipe, this is a throw everything together and smash the crap out of it type of recipe.


- 3/4 to 1 cup cashews (soaked in water for at least 2 hours)
- 1 package of silken tofu (mine was 540g)
- 1/2 large pineapple
- 1 tbsp coconut extract
- 2 bananas
- 2 tbsp powdered Stevia
- 2 tbsp lemon juice

Put everything into the blender and mix it until smooth.  It's a little bit runny, and the colour gets a little bit darker over time, but that is mostly due to the oxidation of the banana.  Because of the consistency, I considered adding some chia seeds to gelatenize it.


- 6-8 ice cubes
- 2 cups vegan blitz yogurt
- 1/4 large pineapple
- 1-2 cups coconut water (based on how thick you want it)

Mix everything together until smooth.  Enjoy asap since the cool iciness won't last forever!

I definitely intend to try this out with different flavours this summer as the different fruits come into season.  It turned out exceptionally well, better than some of the drinks I have obtained from Orange Julius or Jugo Juice.

Friday, April 12, 2013

How does a Vegetarian get Protein?!

The running joke I have with people is in regards to protein.  Whenever I tell someone that Ashley and I have been going with a Vegan diet, the first thing everyone asks is "but how do you get your protein." I'm sure the is no vegetarian or vegan out there who has never heard this question before.  Today I will attempt to demystify the situation and explain that a normal veg diet can and will give you all the protein you need without needing to eat 'a pound of broccoli.'


So what is protein? Protein is one of the essential building blocks of all organic material.  You may have heard commercials or people talk about amino acids and proteins.  Essentially they are the same thing.  Proteins are made of amino acids.  To give a very quick and simple overview of the situation...

1. Our DNA has coding for protein structures.

2. When a specific type of protein is needed, our DNA encodes RNA to tell the body what to do.

3. The RNA message is used to code a specific Amino Acid sequence.

4. The Amino Acid sequence is your protein.

So when we are talk about eating proteins, we are actually concerned about the types of amino acids that we are eating.  In total, there are 22 standard amino acids that make up the proteins structures in our bodies. There are two categories of amino acids, essential and non-essential.  The essential amino acids are those that cannot be synthesized by our body, the other 13 non-essential amino acids can be synthesized within our body.

There is a useful chart off of wikipedia that lists the essential amino acids and the quantity that we need.

For those of you that don't want to do the math, 70Kg is around 154lbs and 100Kg is 220lbs.  So where do we get these sorts of proteins?

Vegetable Sources of Essential Amino Acids

Broccoli - In 1 cup of raw (91g)

Histidine - 53.7 mg
Isoleucine - 71.9 mg
Leucine - 117 mg
Lysine - 123 mg
Methionine + Cysteine - 60 mg
Phenylalanine + Tyrosine - 151 mg
Threonine - 80.1 mg
Tryptophan - 30 mg
Valine - 114 mg

Kale - In 1 cup of raw (67g)

Histidine - 46 mg
Isoleucine - 132 mg
Leucine - 155 mg
Lysine - 132 mg
Methionine + Cysteine - 51 mg
Phenylalanine + Tyrosine - 191 mg
Threonine - 98.5 mg
Tryptophan - 26.8 mg
Valine - 121 mg

Spinach - In 1 cup of raw (30g)

Histidine - 19.2 mg
Isoleucine - 44.1 mg
Leucine - 67 mg
Lysine - 52.2 mg
Methionine + Cysteine - 26 mg
Phenylalanine + Tyrosine - 71 mg
Threonine - 37 mg
Tryptophan - 12 mg
Valine - 48 mg

Green Peppers - In 1 cup raw (149g)

Histidine - 15 mg
Isoleucine - 36 mg
Leucine - 54 mg
Lysine - 58 mg
Methionine + Cysteine - 28 mg
Phenylalanine + Tyrosine - 155 mg
Threonine - 54 mg
Tryptophan - 18 mg
Valine - 54 mg

Cauliflower - In 1 cup raw (100g)

Histidine - 40 mg
Isoleucine - 75 mg
Leucine - 116 mg
Lysine - 106 mg
Methionine + Cysteine - 51 mg
Phenylalanine + Tyrosine - 114 mg
Threonine - 72 mg
Tryptophan - 26 mg
Valine - 99 mg

White Mushrooms - In 1 cup raw (70g)

Histidine - 40 mg
Isoleucine - 53 mg
Leucine - 84 mg
Lysine - 75 mg
Methionine + Cysteine - 30 mg
Phenylalanine + Tyrosine - 90 mg
Threonine - 75 mg
Tryptophan - 24 mg
Valine - 162 mg

What we have here is about what I would put into my average stirfry for lunch.  It's not a lot, the kale, spinach and mushrooms essentially wilt into nothing when cooked.  Overall it's enough for my lunch.  I am of course forgetting the nutrients that come from ginger, garlic, carrots, celery...etc, but lets keep it simple and add it up!

In total, we're looking at about 507g food, so a little over 1 lb.

Histidine - 213.9/886 = 24%
Isoleucine - 412/1772 = 23%
Leucine - 593/3457 = 17%
Lysine - 546.2/2659 = 21%
Methionine + Cysteine - 246/1329 = 19%
Phenylalanine + Tyrosine - 772/2216 = 35%
Threonine - 416.6/1329 = 31%
Tryptophan - 136.8/355 = 39%
Valine - 598/2305 = 26%

Lets say that you also want to eat this with a cup of cooked white rice (158), you are now adding:

Histidine - 99.5 mg
Isoleucine - 183 mg
Leucine - 351 mg
Lysine - 153 mg
Methionine + Cysteine - 186 mg
Phenylalanine + Tyrosine - 370 mg
Threonine - 152 mg
Tryptophan - 49 mg
Valine - 259 mg

This combination will bring your total to:

Histidine - 313.4/886 = 35%
Isoleucine - 595/1772 = 34%
Leucine - 944/3457 = 27%
Lysine - 699.2/2659 = 26%
Methionine + Cysteine - 432/1329 = 33%
Phenylalanine + Tyrosine - 1142/2216 = 52%
Threonine - 568.6/1329 = 43%
Tryptophan - 185.8355 = 52%
Valine - 857/2305 = 37%

There you have it, it's a pretty large meal (665g, 1.45lbs), but something that I would probably eat on average.  I know it is a simple list, and doesn't look at other things we eat such as potatoes, quinoa, amaranth...etc, but it does paint a good picture.  After one normal lunch time meal I've hit almost a third  of all the essential amino acids I need. The values I posted are relative to my body weight needs.  If you are smaller than me, and eat this you will be reaching a higher percentage of what you need.

It's not about eating a ton of one type of vegetable.  As you see above each one has different values for each type.  It's about getting a variety of vegetables to balance everything out.  If you are into juicing, this makes the task much easier since you can compress massive amounts of vegetables into a single glass of juice.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Gluten Free All Purpose Bread

In light of my experiments with gluten free products, I decided it was time to try my hand at making a loaf of bread.  Since I have been traditionally trained, I have trouble foreseeing how gluten free breads will turn out. My initial experiment was to be quite honest, a moderate disaster.  Not to say that it didn't taste good, it actually had a nice flavour, but it was also extremely dense and really didn't really rise very much.

My inital idea was to see how it would turn out if I used a basic bread recipe, but replaced the A.P. flour for gluten free flours and some guar gum.
As you can see, the dough started out fairly promising, it did rise about 50% which isn't too bad.

Unfortunately, after forming them into buns, they didn't really rise again.  After putting them into the oven to bake, they again, do not rise and you are left with something pretty much the same as what you put in.

So here we go, gluten free hockey pucks.  Lets just say I won't be doing that again.  Afterwards I did some research and same across another recipe that looked interesting.  I wasn't sure how it would work out, but what did I have to lose.  The original recipe is from Gluten Free Real Food.  I changed it a bit, since that seems to be what I always do and it turned out quite well.  There were a few significant differences in the products, but amazingly it turned out perfectly!

The Recipe


Wet Ingredients
3 large eggs
1 Teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 Cup oil Coconut Oil
1 1/3 Cup milk – unsweetened (rice, hemp, almond) warmed to about 30-40C
20ml Maple Syrup
3 Tablespoon Coconut Palm Sugar
1 1/2 Teaspoons Salt

Dry Ingredients
1/2 Cup Sorghum
1/2 Cup Amaranth
1 Cup Teff Flour
1 Cup Cornstarch
1 Tablespoon Guar Gum
1 Tablespoon Dry Active Yeast
2 tbsp Chia Seeds
*1/4 seeds or nuts (optional)


1. In a large bowl, combine all of the wet ingredients and mix well.

2. In a separate bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients and mix well.

3. Pour the dry ingredient mixture into the wet ingredients and mix well.  The mixture is going to be wet, pretty much like when you're making banana bread or zucchini  bread.

4. Pour the dough into an oiled loaf pan with 3" walls and let it rise for 40-45 minutes in a warm moist place.  I put mine in the top shelf of the oven on the lowest possible setting then occasionally sprayed water onto my pizza stone on the bottom shelf.

5. Once it has risen, pull the bread out and turn the heat up to 350F.  Put the bread back in once the oven has reached the right temperature and bake it for 40-50 minutes. I put a digital thermometer in mine and had an internal temperature between 160 and 170F.

6. Let the bread cool for 5min on the counter, then take it out of the pan and let it cool on a wire rack.

Side Notes

1. The bread itself is actually quite sweet.  You don't need to add all of the sugar unless you want it sweet.

2. You can add around 1/4 Cup of some extras like seeds or nuts.  I put hemp hearts in mine since I like the added nutrition.

3. The reason why we add so much cornstarch is mainly to add structure to the bread.  For anyone who has made a slurry to thicken a soup or sauce, you will know that cornstarch is great for thickening products.  Lets be straight up though, cornstarch is a starch, and there for has amylose 20-25% and amylopectin B 70-75%, both of which are just complex glucose structures.  Although they are gluten free, they do increase your blood sugar.  Fortunately Amylopectin B is better for you than the Amylopectin A you get from wheat flour.

One of things I learned from making this is that gluten free breads are pretty fragile and can't withstand the normal rise, punch down, form, rise, bake procedures of normal bakery breads.  It is advantageous to have a single rise then bake.  I think it's also a good idea to think of these as having the texture and consistency of quick breads, even though they are in fact a yeast bread.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Gluten Free Banana Walnut Bread

Since I have been reading wheat belly lately, I decided it was a good time to try out some gluten free cooking. Now, as he says in the book, I stay away from starched (potato, tapioca, corn…etc) since they have no place in my gluten free kitchen.  They will enrich the food, but do so by allowing our blood sugars to soar, thereby making us fat.  That is not the point of what I’m doing here.  This isn’t about making gluten free food for the Celiac that is just as bad as whole wheat loaf of bread is or everyone else. This is about using everything I have learned to make something wholesome, healthy, and tasty!

This recipe is actually an adaptation of one that I made while I was in culinary school at Niagara College.
The original recipe went like this:

-          25oz Bananas (3 small)
-          208g Granulated Sugar
-          2 eggs
-          58g Butter
-          214g (about 1 ½ cups) All-Purpose Flour
-          10ml Baking Soda
-          10ml Baking Powder
-          5ml Salt

Not exactly the most healthy thing every created…thus it needs a revamp!

The new recipe went like this:

-          4 medium to large bananas (from the freezer)
-          208g Coconut Palm Sugar
-          2 eggs
-          60g Coconut Oil
-          214g Flour (I used Buckwheat)
-          1 tsp Guar Gum*
-          10ml Baking Soda
-          10ml Baking Powder
-          5ml Salt
-          1tbsp Chia Seeds**
-          1 Cup Walnuts (chopped or whole)


1. In a mixing bowl, combine the coconut oil and coconut sugar until well mixed.

2. Add the eggs and bananas to the coconut mixture and mix well. Your mixture will be a little bit sloppy, but don't worry, it will all come together in the end (trust me).

3. In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients (except for the walnuts), then add it to your wet mixture.  Mix well. Don't worry about the fact that your batter looks REALLY dark.  Mine looked as dark to begin with as my usual bread looks when it's done.  The coconut palm sugar simply makes the whole thing darker.

4. Add the walnuts.  You can chop them beforehand if you want them to be small, but I put mine in whole.  I don't mind cutting through them.

5. Put the dough into a high walled loaf pan, sprayed or brushed with cooking oil. By high walled I mean the sides of the dish should be 3 inches high. For some reason we have 2 pans that are only 2 inches high (I have no idea why anyone would invent such a thing!)

6. Bake at 375F for 30min then reduce the heat to 325 and bake until done.  Back in the day I used to use the tooth pick trick (when the toothpick comes out clean it's done).  Nowadays I prefer to used my digital thermometer.  Stick it into the middle; once the temperature reads 170F it's time to take it out.  

7. Let it cool in the pan for a bit.  Once you can handle the pan, turn the bread out onto the counter and then let it cool completely on a wire rack.

Ours turned out like this!

While I certainly classify this recipe as being healthier than the original, I must stress the fact that coconut oil is still fat, and coconut sugar is still sugar.  Both are not good for you in large quantities, but both have additional health benefits over using butter and sugar.

For those of you wondering why I made some of the changes, I'll explain below:

*Guar Gum - This is my first kick at the can with guar gum and I have to say I'm impressed.  I was a little bit worried about how cohesive this recipe would be since there was no gluten.  The guar gum is used to keep things together and also lend some elasticity.  It worked amazingly as you can see.  It held together at least as well as the original and we could cut it no problem.

**Chia Seeds - Let me just say that I LOVE chia seeds.  I should have bought a chia pet a long time ago (che-che-che-chia!).  Anywho, chia seeds extrude a gelatinous substance that tends to bind ingredients together.  I use them in a lot of my baked goods as a safety measure in case if my other attempts at cohesion fail.  Also, they are good for you as they have calcium, phosphorous and manganese. They also help in removing toxins from your small intestine due to their gelatinous nature.  Best of all, they taste good! Just beware of getting them stuck in your teeth, they don't seem to want to get out!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Alternative Sweeteners

Good day mates, one of the questions that people ask me most frequently is what the best sugar substitute is.  The answer to that one is completely dependent on why you need to substitute the sugar. In some recipes, sugar only plays a role to sweeten things, in this case you can use any kind of sugar substitute you want.  In other cases (usually in baking) sugar plays a specific chemical role to create your product.  If you are substituting sugar in a baked good where a specific reaction is needed, I would recommend using a substitute that reacts similarly to sugar. Below, let me talk about some of the alternatives.


First off, lets talk about WHY we are doing this in the first place. Lets look back to my post on sugar. Sugar is a simple carbohydrate, meaning it takes little to no work at all for it to be utilized by our bodies.  What's the result? Massive amounts of Sucrose (a combination of Glucose and Fructose) entering our system. All our body needs to do is split the Glycosidic Bond, convert Fructose to Glucose, then it's off to make ATP. Simple right? too simple unfortunately.  Since our body can do this almost effortlessly, our blood sugar levels sky rocket causing our insulin levels to spike in order to deal with the problem.  Unfortunately, the function of Insulin is to take the sugar and store it as glycogen in our muscles or triglycerides in our fat cells. That's right, sugar makes you fat! In fact, sugar will actually make you more fat than consuming fat will! who knew right?


Okay, so, lets just say that there is a LOT of alternatives out there to granulated sugar, and I'm not talking about brown sugar, turbinado sugar or the supposed 'raw sugar.' These are simply different shades of the same colour.  Some of the alternatives are good, some are bad, and some are simply misleading...

Before I get into this, I just wanted to quickly mention the glycemic index. You have probably already heard about it, and know that things that are low are good, and things that are high are bad.  Basically, the glycemic index measures how much your blood sugar (glucose) will rise after eating a specific type of food.  Pure glucose is given a value of 100.  Every food source is going to have a value since everything has some form of carbohydrate that can be converted to glucose. For example, whole wheat bread has an average glycemic index of 71 and the glycemic index of dark chocolate (70% dark) is 22. Granulated sugar has a glycemic index of 68.

The Good


Stevia uses the sweet leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana plant. Stevia has a sweetness that is about 40-300 times more than that of sucrose, making it a popular sweetener.  Depending on the specific species that is used, sometimes there is a bitter almost licorice after taste.  Best of all, Stevia is a zero calorie sweetener (meaning it has a glycemic index of 0) and it reportedly reacts similarly to sugar in baking recipes. There was a degree of controversy surrounding stevia.  When it was first introduced in 1991 there was an 'anonymous' complaint to the FDA which caused them to reject Stevia as being harmful.  There were allegations that this complaint and the subsequent ban was due to internal pressure from the artificial.

Monk Fruit

Monk Fruit is another zero calorie sweetener (having a glycemic index of 0) that is about 200 times sweeter than sugar.  This sweetener is usually available in liquid form, since the sweetness is usually extracted by crushing the plant and then infusing hot water.  It would be best to use this one as a sweetener rather than a baking substitute.  There are also no safety concerns that are associated with Monk Fruit.

Coconut Palm Sugar

This sugar is made from the sap that is extracted from the buds of the coconut palm trees. This sugar is mildly sweet with a hint of caramel to it (kind of like brown sugar). This sugar is mostly sucrose with some glucose and fructose and can be used as a direct substitute for white or brown sugar in baking. Now you may have noticed the fact that this stuff is still pretty much sugar, it is lower on the glycemic index because of the sucrose and has a value of 35.  The good aspect is that this is a WHOLE sugar and contains potassium, magnesium, zinc, and iron, as well as Vitamin B1, B2, B3, and B6. Woot.

Maple Syrup

Just like coconut palm sugar, maple syrup is also mostly sucrose, but has impressive amounts of minerals in it. If you consume 100g of maple syrup, which shouldn't be too hard (it's about 1/3 cup) you get Calcium 67 mg (7% DV), Iron 1.20 mg (9% DV), Magnesium 14 mg (4% DV), Manganese 3.298 mg (157% DV), Potassium 204 mg (4% DV), and Zinc 4.16 mg (44% DV).  For all of you who read the post on Excitotoxins you may remember that Zinc and Magnesium help to block the effects of excitotoxins on glutamate receptors. Maple syrup is also reported to have a large amount of polyphenols including one called Quebecol is unique and is created during the boiling process.  Polyphenols are antioxidants that are helpful in fighting inflammation.

There has been some talk that the large producers use antifreeze to keep their sap lines from freezing up. This may cause the harmful chemical to make their way into the product.  It's always best to buy locally from a producer you can trust, or even better, make it yourself! This is good news for me and my pancakes!

The Bad


Well, Aspartame is bad for you for a whole host of reasons.  For those of you who have not done so yet, check out the posts on Aspartame and Excitotoxins for more info.


Equal is an artificial sweetener that contains dextrose, aspartame (1.7%), acesulfame potassium (1.2%), starch, silicon dioxide (an anti-caking agent), maltodextrin, and unspecified flavouring. Equal tablets may also contain lactose.
Aceslfame Potassium is another type of sweetener.  So far there are not any documented problems with it, however, studies done on the topic have not been very thorough and do not track long term effects.  Despite this problem, the FDA is still cool with it being on the market.  One of the components of this chemical is methylene chloride, a known carcinogen. Long-term exposure to methylene chloride can cause headaches, depression, nausea, mental confusion, liver effects, kidney effects, visual disturbances, and cancer in humans.
The percentage in a pack of equal is relatively low, however, given the lack of longitudinal studies, I give this one a thumbs down.

Sweet n' Low

Contains Saccharin, dextrose, and cream of tartar. The problem child we're going to look at is saccharin.

One study in India found individuals eating 137% of the FDA's maximum recommended intake resulting in bladder distention, bladder cancer and urine osmolality.

A 2008 study by The University of Rostock in Germany found that saccharin artificially increases your insulin levels.  This will result in hypoglycemia as well as increased weight gain as glucose is sequestered from your blood.

Before May 2000 the US National Toxicology Program had saccharin listed as a potentially cancer causing agent.  It has since been removed, however, I have not found any studies that explain why this happened.


I figured I would put this in, just in case if you aren't aware of what dextrose is.  It is simply the stereoisomer (left handed form) of the glucose molecule.  Aside from that simple point in chemical arrangement, they are the exact same thing.  Don't be fooled when you look at a package, it is not a good guy.

The Ugly


I classify Splenda as being ugly since there is no definitive proof showing that it is good or bad either way.


I'm sorry to say it, but honey, while tasting excellent is not exactly good for you. Honey contains a massive amount of sugar, the main components are Fructose: 38.2%, Glucose: 31.3%, Maltose: 7.1%, Sucrose: 1.3% ,Water: 17.2%. That's right, it's about 78% sugar with a glycemic index that ranges from 31-78 depending on the study and the type used.

Honey has a large amount of antioxidants and also has trace amounts of other nutrients, but here is the problem.  Unless you use RAW honey, your goodness is destroyed in pasteurization.  You can usually find raw honey in the organic section of your grocery store. It is probably okay to eat it as is, ie: put it on toast or mix it into salad dressing or something like that.  DO NOT cook with it, bake with it, and be careful how hot your tea is if you add it in there too. Reaching 145F (62C) is enough to destroy most of the nutrients in the honey

Agave Syrup

The Agave situation is a little bit tricky.  It became a very popular alternative to sugar because of the fact that it has a very low glycemic index (only about 15-30).  The reason for this is the fact that Agave is composed almost entirely of Fructose.  Do you ever hear about all the flack that High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) gets? Well agave nectar really isn't that different from HFCS. Agave can be around 70% fructose, and there is a big problem with that.  Man made Fructose does not get processed in our intestines, but rather in our liver.  Since it is processed in our liver, our blood glucose levels do not rise, BUT at the liver it is being converted into triglycerides (fat).  Also, high levels of fructose will inhibit your leptin levels, making it so your body is not full and in fact will crave more food.

There have also been some health concerns with Agave in regards to how it is processed.  Some claim that the syrup is created using digestive enzymes as well as chemical factors to separate and distil the syrup.  The FDA has actually rejected shipments of agave due to excessive pesticide residues.  I would have thought any residue was too much.

Well, this is my list.  If you have any questions are think that I may have forgotten something along the way, let me know!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Vitamins B2 and B3

Normally I would do an individual post for each of these, but these two vitamins play a very similar role in the body so I'm going to lump them together.

Normal Benefits

Two of the key components we obtain from the B vitamins are Niacin (Vitamin B3) and Riboflavin (Vitamin B2).  You may remember an old cereal (or maybe it was bread) commercial with kids asking their mom about the Vitamins on the back of the box.  Their mom tells them Niacin is to help make you nice, but has trouble coming up with something for Riboflavin.  Although way off on the explanation, she was nevertheless correct that these are essential nutrients.  Both Niacin and Riboflavin are necessary to create something in our bodies called Coenzymes (NAD+ and FAD ).  These coenzymes play major roles in metabolizing our food.

For those of you that took Senior Biology there was a significant unit on metabolism.  It is pretty fresh in my mind since I was tutored two girls on this exact topic a few months ago. Our metabolic pathway is broken up into 3 main stages: Glycolysis, The Kreb's Cycle, and the Electron Transport Chain. There will be a post soon that explains this process in detail, for now, trust me when I say that the role of NAD and FAD is VERY IMPORTANT. They are used to produce about 75% of our bodies ATP (adenosine triphosphate) the way that our body powers chemical reactions.

Other Health Benefits

While watching the movie Food Matters I came across some interesting points.  

In 1960 Dr.Abram Hoffer worked with Bill Williams, the founder of alcoholics anonymous. Bill suffered from severe depression and Hoffer introduced Bill to the idea of 'mega vitamin therapy.' Hoffer prescribed 3g of vitamin B3 per day. Within a few weeks, his fatigue and depression (which had been around for years) was gone. Bill W recommended this to other individuals with depression and found that the majority showed improvement.  He tried to get this as part of AA and was denied on account of the fact that the doctors "knew" that Niacin could not possibly have this effect.

Andrew Saul, the editor of the peer reviewed journal  Orthomolecular Medicine News Service once worked with a woman who was suicidally depressed.  She lived at home with her family and wouldn't speak to or eat with anyone, she simply sat in the corner staring at the wall.  She saw a psychiatrist, as you would imagine,  and was on a host of drugs.  Through Saul's recommendations, she took 11,500mg of Niacin a day, within a couple days she sat at the family table eating dinner as though nothing was wrong. The family showed the psychiatrist this miraculous result and he said that taking that much Niacin could be harmful. The family stopped giving it to her and she was back to sitting in the corner and non-communicative within a few days.  Currently, there are 0 deaths from niacin a year; over the last 15-20 years, there have still been none.

How Much Do You Need?

Adult men - 1.3 mg/day
Adult Women - 1.1 mg/day
Pregnant Women - 1.4 mg
Lactating Women - 1.6 mg
Infants - 0.3-0.4 mg/day
Children - 0.6-0.9 mg/day

Best Sources

#1: Yeast Extract Spread (Marmite) 
14.3mg (841% DV) per 100 gram serving
0.858mg (50% DV) per teaspoon.

#2: Liver 
Lamb liver provides the most riboflavin (B2) with 4.6mg per 100g serving or 270% of the DV.

#3: Dried Herbs, Spices, and Pepper
Dried ancho chilies contain the most riboflavin providing 2.26mg (133% DV) per 100 gram serving, or 0.38mg (23% DV) per pepper.
Paprika follows providing 1.74mg (103% DV) of vitamin b2 per 100 gram serving, or 0.12mg (7% DV) per tablespoon.
Dried coriander, spearmint, parsley, and finally chili powder which provides 0.8mg (47% DV) of riboflavin per 100 gram serving, or 0.06mg (4% DV) per tablespoon.

#4: Almonds 
Almonds provide 1.01mg (60% DV) of vitamin B2 per 100 gram serving

#5: Dry Roasted Soybeans (Edamame) 
Dry roasted soybeans, or edamame, provide 0.76mg (44% DV) of riboflavin per 100 gram serving

#6: Cheese (Roquefort, Brie, Limburger) 
Roquefort provides the most riboflavin (b2) with 0.57mg (34% DV) per 100 gram serving
Brie (31% DV per 100g)
Limburger (30% DV per 100g)
Camembert (29% DV per 100g)
Caraway cheese (26% DV per 100g)
Blue cheese (22% DV per 100g)
Goat cheese (22% DV per 100g)
Romano (22% DV per 100g)
Swiss cheese (17% DV per 100g)

#7: Wheat Bran 
Crude wheat bran provides 0.58mg (34% DV) of riboflavin per 100 gram serving

#8: Fish (Mackerel, Atlantic Salmon, Trout) 
Mackerel has the most riboflavin providing 0.54mg (32% DV) per 100 gram serving.
Wild caught Atlantic salmon provides 0.49mg (29%) DV of riboflavin per 100 gram serving
Trout provides 0.42mg (25% DV) of vitamin b2 per 100 gram serving

#9: Sesame Seeds 
Sesame seeds provide 0.47mg (27% DV) of riboflavin per 100 gram serving

#10: Sun-dried Tomatoes 
Sun-dried tomatoes provides 0.49mg (29% DV) of riboflavin per 100 gram serving



Adult Men - 16mg/day
Adult Women - 14mg/day
Pregnant Women - 18mg/day
Children - 2-12mg/day
Tolerable upper intake levels (UL) for adult men and women is considered to be 35 mg/day

Best Sources

#1: Yeast Extract Spread (Marmite) 
Marmite provides 97mg (485% DV) per 100 gram serving, or 5.8mg (29% DV) per teaspoon.

#2: Bran (Rice and Wheat) 
Rice bran contains 34mg (170% DV) per 100g serving
Wheat bran contains 13.6mg (65% DV) per 100 gram serving

#3: Fish (Anchovies, Tuna, Swordfish) 
Canned anchovies provide 19.9mg (100% DV) per 100 gram serving
Skip-Jack Tuna provides 18.8mg (94% DV) per 100 gram serving
Swordfish, King Mackerel, and Sturgeon with 10.1mg (51% DV) per 100 gram

#4: Liver 
Lamb liver provides 16.7mg per 100g serving or 83% of the DV

#5: Paprika 
Paprika provides 15.3mg (77% DV) per 100g

#6: Peanuts 
Peanuts provide 14.9mg (75% DV) in a 100 gram serving

#7: Veal (Lean) 
The top round cut of Lean veal provides 12mg (60% DV) of niacin per 100 gram serving

#8: Chicken (Light Meat) 
The light meat of chicken (breast, or tenders) provides 12.4mg (62% DV) of niacin per 100 gram serving

#9: Bacon
Bacon will provide 11.6mg (58% DV) of niacin per 100g serving

#10: Sun-dried Tomatoes 
Sun-dried tomatoes provide 9.1mg (45% DV) of niacin per 100g

What Happens if You Don't Get Enough?

Riboflavin (B2)

Riboflavin deficiency can include cracked and red lips, inflammation of the lining of mouth and tongue, mouth ulcers, cracks at the corners of the mouth (angular cheilitis), and a sore throat. A deficiency may also cause dry and scaling skin, fluid in the mucous membranes, and iron-deficiency anemia. The eyes may also become bloodshot, itchy, watery and sensitive to bright light.

The long term effects of a Riboflavin deficiency have not been clinically observed so far and are currently unknown.

Niacin (B3)

If you only have a mild deficiency, it results in a slower metabolism and a lesser ability to deal with cold.

A moderate deficiency can cause psychological problems which include irritability, poor concentration, anxiety, fatigue, restlessness, apathy, and depression.

In the cases of a severe Niacin deficiency, it causes the disease pellagra, which is characterized by diarrhea, dermatitis, and dementia, as well as “necklace” lesions on the lower neck, hyperpigmentation, thickening of the skin, inflammation of the mouth and tongue, digestive disturbances, amnesia, delirium, and eventually death, if left untreated.

What Happens if You Have Too Much

Riboflavin is continuously excreted through our urine and therefore does not have any toxic effects since it is not possible to have too much in our bodies.

A pharmacological high dose (1500 to 6000mg a day) of Niacin can cause some minor skin problems such as skin flushing and itching, dry skin, and skin rashes including eczema exacerbation and acanthosis nigricans.

Very high levels of Niacin can also cause a rise in blood sugar, but this effect is only about 5-10%.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

What is Bad in Our Food - Excitotoxins

So, this is the part that I had left out of the Aspartame post last time. I know it's been a while, but now that I have finished reading The Crippled God and A Memory of Light I have a lot of free time

The Brain 101

First, let me talk about the blood brain barrier. It's not exactly a 'barrier' in how we normally think of them, but it's probably the best way of thinking of it.  There are blood vessels that reach into our brains, and it is essential that they do so since our Brain uses 20% of the bodies dissolved oxygen and 25% of the glucose. The barrier exists to prevent harmful chemicals from entering the brain and causing damage to the cells.  This is achieved by having a wall of very tightly packed cells surrounding the blood vessels.  In order from a substance to enter into a brain they need to pass from the blood vessels, through the wall of cells (the barrier) and then into the brain cells.  This is a mechanism that is solely in place to help protect the brain.  Although this isn't true for the entire brain, since the circumventricular organs exist outside of the blood-brain barrier, it is true for the majority of the cases.

This tight control is necessary to prevent malfunctions that can effect motor skills, balance, memory, cognition, and the excretion of enzymes and hormones. In the case of the brain, a little goes a long way in that a little damage can have large consequences.

What is an Excitotoxin??

Excitotoxins are compounds that cause the over-stimulation and eventual death of brain cells.  There are many that exist today, but the ones that we are most likely going to come into contact with are Aspartame, Glutamate (usually in the form of Monosodium Glutamate) and hydrolysed vegetable protein.

Now that we have some background knowledge of the brain, let's talk about how the damage occurs.  The Blood-Brain Barrier (BBB) is able to function because of specific 'gate channels.' Basically, the cells are closed to diffusion (the mass movement of particles) unless a specific chemical is able to open the gate.  You will see this a lot in muscle tissues where there is a sodium-potassium ion gate.  Sodium and Potassium work in your muscles by changing the chemical potential.  One will make the cell environment very positive and the other will make it very negative.  This allows your muscles to contract and relax.  The gate channels of the BBB are a security measure that (usually) ensures that the channel only opens when the appropriate nutrients are being let in.  The key to the gate is usually sodium or calcium.  The chemical formula for the excitotoxins is such that the body is fooled into thinking it is a nutrient and is allowed entry into the brain. Once nutrients enter the neurons, they are now able to fire and transmit neural impulses to allow the body to do what it needs. The problem that occurs with excitotoxins is that they block the lock and key mechanism causing the neuron to continuously fire until it dies.  This is why they are called excitotoxins.

Most people who consume Aspartame are addicts.  They enjoy drinking a diet soda or a sugar free yogurt because of the taste or feeling they get.  Some people may or may not be aware of the high that they are getting by consuming aspartame.  Before a neuron dies there is a flash of massive neural activity which will give that euphoric feeling.  This is why most diet soda addicts will generally drink 1 to 2 litres a day. At least the advantage most people have now is that companies are required to label Aspartame on products

Aspartame may be bad, but MSG is worse.  Within the brain, there are at least 3 main types of Glutamate receptors. Our body has this since Glutamate is actually very common in the body and in it's pure form has many functions that include neural communication, memory formation, learning, and regulation.  Unfortunately, since glutamate is freely allowed into these neurons (in the cortex, striatum, hippocampus, hypothalamus, thalamus, cerebellum and visual and auditory systems) these areas of the brain are susceptible to the same damage that we see in neurons exposed to aspartame.

Can it be Stopped?!?

This is a yes and no kind of question.  The damage itself is permanent and is indeed cumulative over time.  It has actually been shown that newborns and toddlers are at an even higher risk than adults since they are 4 times more sensitive to the effects than an adult.  Although developing brains can rewire themselves to compensate for damage, this will only occur up to six or seven years of age.

Now for the yes part of the answer.  While the excitotoxins tend to block the lock and key mechanism, zinc, magnesium and glycine are able to kick out (so to speak) the offending toxin and close the gate.  Unfortunately, most people have a diet that is extremely low in these nutrients.


Okay, let me talk a little bit about studies that have looked at this.  In 1957 Lucas, DR; Newhouse, JP looked at the effects of MSG on animals and found that 100% showed damage to nerve cells on the inner layer of their retinas. 1968 Dr. Olney from the Department of Psychiatry at Washington University, conducted studies that investigated the effects of MSG and Aspartame on animals and found that damage was not restricted to retinas, but in fact showed destruction of the neurons to the hypothalamus and other adjacent areas of the brain. Thanks to Dr.Olneys study, MSG was removed from baby food in 1969.

We all know that whenever they do studies, it is necessary to use extremely high levels so that they can get results within a shorter period of time.  Now many people have the funding necessary for a longitudinal study.  The key, however, is the fact that damage is cumulative over time, therefore, regardless of the concentration they used, we do face a real danger.  Additional studies have shown that when MSG is given as a certain percentage of body weight, humans retain 20 times more than monkeys and 5 times more than mice.  Whatever effects that happened in the animals should be occurring to a greater extent in us.

Something I have always wondered about is why the studies are so old.  If there is a danger here, then why has it not been looked at extensively over time. Evidently it has been looked at, and looked at extensively, sadly, almost all of these studies have been financed by the companies themselves.  Do we honestly think that a multi billion dollar industry would finance and then publish a paper that proves that their product is poison? Ha, It would be like getting a $100,000 tax refund and then telling the government it was only supposed to be $10 and they can have their money back. It will never happen!

Other Concerns

This is a list of other things to look out for, and also keep an eye on.

Lets think about the effects that we saw with excitotoxins.  They cause neurons to keep firing until they exhaust themselves and then die.  This is a much greater concern for people who are hypoglycemic.  In this condition you have the tendency of having low blood sugar.  This is not necessarily a hereditary condition, it can happen to all people including athletes who push themselves too hard.  Eventually you will reach a point where your body sugar is extremely low causing the glucose to you brain to drop.  These cells all become undernourished and are weakened.  The solution here is to simply get a good meal and then rest, allowing your body to recuperate. If, however, in this condition you consume high levels of the aforementioned excitotoxins, you will be putting your body in real danger since your cells have less of an ability to resist the damage.

One point that I have come to realize through my research is that not only is this a controversial topic for researchers and the companies themselves, but the companies HIDE the fact that their additives are in food.  If this is not a telling sign I don't know what is.  Everyone has known for years that MSG is something that is not good for you. Some people look for it on food labels, while some people do not bother.  Now that people have begun to read labels, companies have been finding ways to sneak the bad in under a vague ingredient. The Glutamate Association was formed in 1977 to help keep MSG and Aspartame on the market. They lobbied to reduce the labelling requirements on foods and to allow MSG to not have to be listed on the label unless it was pure. However, spices, natural flavorings and flavorings can all contain from 30% to 60% MSG and do not need to be indicated.  Do yourself a favour.  Go to the cupboard, look at your can of soup, or pasta sauce, or even a jar of pickles and look to see if there is one of these vague ingredients.  From what I have observed, if I want to avoid MSG in any amount there is nothing I can get from the grocery store (unless there is an organic section) other than produce.  This stuff is in EVERYTHING!!!

Another point to keep in mind is the cycle that happens with excitotoxins.  First, these chemicals enters your blood stream, some of it is then transferred to the BBB where it then makes it to your brain.  This process takes a bit of time, and the excitotoxins will actually remain in your brain for up to 24 hours.  If you are someone who regularly drinks 3-4 diet sodas a day, throughout the day, there is really no time where your brain is free of these high levels of excitotoxins.  I met one individual who told me that it is impossible to have enough aspartame in your body to have an effect.  This is a guy who drinks at least 4 diet cokes a day from what I saw.  Unfortunately, as humans, we will believe what we want to believe.  I could be wrong here, this could all be just premature non-correlated results.  I prefer to believe that given the choice, I will stay on the side of caution. Not consuming MSG or Aspartame will NOT have any negative health effects, while consuming them may have massive long lasting effects.  Why would I want to take that chance?

What about the long term effects? We have been talking about the fact that the brain cells become damaged as a result of these toxins, but what are the consequences of this? In the beginning you can look forward to a slow degradation of memory, cognition and motor skills.  It has been seen that areas in the brain that have very high concentrations of glutamate receptors are those that are associated with Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, ALS and Alzheimer’s Disease.  Therefore, when exposed to high levels of excitotoxins over your life time, you can look forward to the possibility of developing one of these diseases later in life.

Last Remarks

The last thing I want to put on here is a small list of things to look for.  It's like a what not to eat type of deal.  I have essentially gotten to the point that I do not trust ANYTHING that is pre-packaged.  I make all of my own food from sauces to breads to salad dressings.  It takes a bit of effort, but I truy believe that my health and the health of my family is worth it 100%

Foods to watch out for include: Soybean milk (naturally high in glutamate / often has hydrolyzed vegetable protein added to it), kombu, miso, and soy sauces all contain MSG. 

Sources of MSG include: MSG, Monosodium Glutamate, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Vegetable Protein, Hydrolyzed Plan Protein, Plant Protein Extract, Sodium Caseinate, Calcium Caseinate, Yeast Extract, Textured Protein, Autolyzed Protein, Autolyzed Yeast, and Hydrolyzed Oat Flour. 

Additives frequently containing MSG: Malt extract, Malt Flavoring, Bouillon, Broth, Stock, Flavoring, Natural Flavoring, Natural Beef or Chicken Flavoring, Seasoning and Spices. 

Additives that may contain MSG or Excitotoxins: Carrageenan, Enzymes, Soy Protein Concentrate, Soy Protein Isolate, and Protein Concentrate. Protease enzymes of various sources can release excitotoxin Amino acids from food proteins. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

What is Bad in Our Food? - Aspartame

This post goes out to my friend Andrew.  When we were talking a few weeks ago, I was talking about how a lot of my research has shown me the bad aspects of processed foods and has caused me to pursue a more natural path.  He responded by saying that I appear to have neglected to tell him some important points! Well he is right, and I thought it was time that I actually started highlighting why some of the foods available to us are bad, in addition to talking about the healthy choices.

Why Aspartame is Bad for You

Diet sodas have aspartame in them.  Now, despite arguments I have had with others about this, aspartame IS BAD for your health regardless of the quantity.  Although the damage you do to yourself is going to be proportional to the amount that you intake.

An Article in Environmental Health Perspectives followed various daily aspartame intakes over the lifetime of rats.  There were 7 categories:  100,000, 50,000, 10,000, 2,000, 400, 80, or 0 ppm of aspartame and 100-150 rats per category.  This was to represent a daily intake of 5,000, 2,500, 500, 100, 20, 4, or 0 mg/kg of body weight in humans.

“Our study shows that APM (Aspartame) is a multi-potential carcinogenic compound whose carcinogenic effects are evident even at a daily dose of 20 mg/kg bw, much less than the current ADI for humans in Europe (40 mg/kg bw) and in the United States (50 mg/kg bw).” The negative health effects that they are referring to are an increase in malignant tumors as well as increases in lymphomas and leukemias.”

Just so you know, there is 180mg of aspartame in a can of diet coke.  Lets assume that you weigh 60Kg, 132lbs.  If you drink 1 can a day you have an intake of 3mg/Kg.  Not too bad, but once you hit your 7th can, you’re over the limit.  This also doesn’t account for the aspartame you inject from diet cookies, jams, juices, yogurt…etc.

Now, aspartame itself would be okay, and is water soluble, so if it remains intact it can leave our system fairly easily.  The problems arise when our body starts to digest it. From Wikipedia, the process if described as follows:

“Upon ingestion, aspartame breaks down into residual components, including aspartic acid, phenylalanine, methanol,[27] in ratio of 4:5:1 by mass[28] and further breakdown products including formaldehyde[29] and formic acid, accumulation of the latter being suspected as the major cause of injury in methanol poisoning. Human studies show that formic acid is excreted faster than it is formed after ingestion of aspartame. In some fruit juices, higher concentrations of methanol can be found than the amount produced from aspartame in beverages.”[14]

Now seems like a good time to talk a bit about PKU.  PKU is short for Phenylketonuria, a rare condition where a child is born without an enzyme called phenylalanine hydroxylase.  This results in the baby being unable to break down the amino acid pheylalanine.  The child does require the AA, but only in small quantities.  The disease can be treated by limiting the intake of phenylalanine by the child.  Excess intake is harmful to the central nervous system and cause brain damage.  I remember one student I was helping out years ago that had PKU and was drinking Coke Zero like it was going out of style.  He had no idea that Aspartame converts to phenylalanine and drinking a lot of this pop was actually hurting him.

Another interesting point lies in what I found when I was researching the effects of aspartame.  One of the articles I found was refuting the research in favour of negative effects.  I thought that the name of the publisher seemed reputable.

When I was reading it, I thought that the timing was a little too convenient, then I saw this in an interview with Dr. Russel Blaylock a retired neurosurgeon and professor of Biology.  He has written several books including: Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills (1994), Health and Nutrition Secrets That Can Save Your Life (2002), and Natural Strategies for Cancer Patients (2003).

“No matter how much a newspaper wants to tell the truth, they're not going to do it. This is the kind of pressure these people are under. Even if you have a good writer who wants to write the story, his editor is going to override him and prevent it or water it down considerably. You see this in journals like the Journal of Clinical Nutrition or College Nutrition. Look at who funds them: The Monsanto Company, and they used to be sponsored by G.D. Searle. They're not going to want to put articles in their journal that will infuriate their primary source of income. Even medical and nutrition journals are controlled by these people.”

You can access the full interview here:

Let me just conclude with a quote from Dr.Fuhrman’s book Eat to Live.
“Clearly this is a controversial subject because much of the research documenting the so-called safety of aspartame was financed by the aspartame industry, and a huge amount of political and monetary pressure led to eventual FDA approval. My opinion is that the possible dangers of aspartame are still unknown. Utilizing such artificial products is gambling with your health. Aspartame also exposes us to a methyl ester that may have toxic effects. I recommend playing it safe and sticking to natural foods. Getting rid of your addictions to unsafe substances is valuable in achieving long-term success.”

The one point I left out here came from the movie FoodMatters. They talk a bit about how Aspartame is an excito-toxin.  There are several different foods that we consume that qualify as excito-toxins so I have decided to do a complete post on them next so that I can do the subject justice.

Vitamin B1 aka Thiamine

My original intent was to have one post on the B Vitamins, however, there is so much pertinent information it would be a ridiculously long post.  Instead, I am going to break the post into individuals.  Since there are 8 B vitamins, this will be a multi-part series! All of the B vitamins are used to metabolize food and fuel the body. They also help maintain healthy skin, hair, eyes, and liver. They also help the nervous system function properly, and are needed for good brain function.

Vitamin B1

What is it?
The common name for this one is Thiamine.  Whenever we don’t have B1, it actually causes detrimental health effects since it is essential in the formation of neurotransmitters acetylcholine and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).  Acetylcholine is used in your Peripheral Nervous System in receptors called Nicotinic Receptors.  I know, now you're thinking about Cigarettes and Nicotine.  Well, you're not that far off the mark.  While the Nicotinic Receptors respond to acetylcholine, they also respond to nicotine (hence the name).  This type of receptor is important for cognitive functions in your brain such as attention, learning, and memory since Acetylcholine reinforces your brain’s ability to detect and respond to meaningful stimuli.  GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter in mature individuals and is mainly linked to its role in changing the electrochemical gradient in cells (making them more or less negative depending on the situation).  This can help out greatly in the regulation of muscle tone.
In a developing brain, GABA helps stem cells to spread and form into specific types, and also assists in the formation of synapses.

Where Can you get it? - According to

#1: Yeast Extract Spread (Marmite) Good news for you Brits.
Marmite provides 9.7mg (647% DV) per 100 gram serving, or 0.5mg (39% DV) per teaspoon. 100g is a bit excessive, but a couple tsp a day seems reasonable.

#2: Sesame Butter (Tahini) and Seeds
In asian cuisine, ground sesame seeds is referred to as tahini.  It is one of the main ingredients when making hummus. 100 grams of tahini will give you 1.6mg (106% DV) of vitamin B1 or 0.2mg (15% DV) per tablespoon. Roasted sesame seeds only give 0.1mg/tbsp (7.5% DV).

#3: Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds give you 1.48mg of vitamin B1 in a 100g serving (99% DV). That is about 6% of the DV for two tablespoons of sunflower seeds.

#4: Dried Herbs and Spices
Dried coriander leaves provide 2% DV per tablespoon.
Poppy Seeds give you 57% DV per 100g
Dried Sage gives 50% DV per 100g
Paprika has 43% DV per 100g
Mustard Seed give you 36% DV per 100g
Rosemary gives you 34% DV per 100g
Thyme will give you 34% DV per 100g

#5 Pork Chops
A 100 gram serving will provide 1.2mg (83% DV) of thiamin

#6: Pine Nuts
Pine nuts provide 1.2mg (83% DV) in a 100 gram serving, or around 1% DV in 10 nuts.

#7: Pistachios
100 grams of pistachios provides 0.87mg of thiamin (B1) or 58% DV. That is 0.24mg or 16% of the DV per ounce.

#8: Macadamia Nuts
Macadamia nuts provide 0.7mg (47% DV) of vitamin B1 per 100 gram serving, or 0.2mg (13% DV) per ounce.

#9: Fish
Pompano provides 0.68mg (45% DV) of thiamin (B1) in a 100 gram serving
Tuna fish provides 0.5 mg (33% DV) per 100 gram serving.

#10: Pecans
Pecans provide 0.66mg (44% DV) of vitamin B1 per 100 gram serving, or 0.19mg (12% DV) per ounce.

How Much do you Need?

According to the National Academy of Sciences, the recommended daily intake of vitamin B1 is as follows:

Newborns - 6 months: 0.2 mg (adequate intake)
Infants 7 months - 1 year: 0.3 mg (adequate intake)
Children 1 - 3 years: 0.5 mg (RDA)
Children 4 - 8 years: 0.6 mg (RDA)
Children 9 - 13 years: 0.9 mg (RDA)
Men 14 - 18 years: 1.2 mg (RDA)
Women 14 - 18 years: 1 mg (RDA)

Men 19 years and older: 1.2 mg (RDA)
Women 19 years and older: 1.1 mg (RDA)
Pregnant or breastfeeding women: 1.4 mg (RDA)

What Happens if you don't have enough?

There are a lot of conditions that stem from vitamin B1 deficincy, but I'll just quickly summarize here:

Beriberi - Sounds funny, but it is actually quite serious.  There are 3 categories, but we'll just focus on the wet and dry.
Dry beriberi causes impairment of sensory, motor, and reflex functions, while the wet beriberi causes mental confusion, muscular atrophy, edema, tachycardia, cardiomegaly, and congestive heart failure in addition to peripheral neuropathy.  Fortunately, this condition can be reversed by bringing your vitamin B1 levels back up.

Alcoholic Brain Disease
This is a neuro-psychiatric disorder characterized by paralysis of eye movements, abnormal stance and gait, and markedly deranged mental function

What happens if you have too much?
So far as we know, there is no adverse effect to consuming too much vitamin B1.  The excess amount is simply excreted in the urine.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Almost Vegan Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies

So I've started looking into some different kinds of flour since I've recently discovered that wheat flour is quite bad for you.  Well, I should say that it is worse for you than I initially thought.  Bulk Barn has become my new favourite hangout.  Last time I was there I picked up some Spelt Flour and some Teff flour.  Spelt has a lot of similar properties to wheat flour and therefore works well as a substitute.  The other goal is to cut back on refined sugars like white or brown sugar.  Fortunately there are other options out there that are zero calorie sweeteners like Stevia, Agave, and Monk Fruit.

This recipe is an alternative that is much more healthy than a normal cookie recipe.


  • 1 1/2 cups Nut Butter
  • 1 Egg
  • 2 cups Spelt Flour
  • 1/2 cup Teff Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1 cup Sweetener
  • 2 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
  • 3 tbsp Chia Seeds
  • 1/4 cup Almond Milk( warm)
  • 1/2 cups Semisweet Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 cup Chopped Nuts
*I say nut butter because you can use anyone you want.  The original recipe called for peanut butter.  I used 1 cup of almond butter and 1/2 cup hazelnut butter.
** The sweetener is only used to sweeten so you don't need to worry about how it will react chemically.  Use whatever one you like the most.


1. Combine the nut butter, egg and sweetener in a large bowl.

2. Combine the flours, baking powder, and baking soda together.

3. Add the flour mixture to the nut butter mixture.

4. Soak the Chia seeds in the Almond Milk add the vanilla, then add to the mixture.

5. Stir in the chocolate chips and chopped nuts.

6. Form into balls and flatten out.  Bake at 350F for 10-15min.



Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Diet Overhaul - Juice!

So I think I should explain the new trend that I'm taking on here.  As I mentioned earlier, we have been revamping our diet and trying to head towards more healthy alternatives.  Most of this is based on some literature my parents have been reading.  My new recipes are now going to be heading in this direction, so they won't be amazing parties in your mouth, but I will only put up something I have tried and is actually tasty.

So far the experiment is going quite well! We have been doing a hybrid juice diet, thanks to the juicer we got from my parents and sister for Christmas.  I usually end up having a glass of my superjuice for breakfast and maybe a piece of fruit.  I eat solid food for lunch and dinner, but generally options that are 50-75% fruit and vegetables.

Thanks to Jacob Wever, I have a source of free range chicken eggs.  If you have never had free range eggs I suggest that you get some.  The differences are quite apparent.  Not only are the eggs tougher (I have to actually try pretty hard to break the yolks) and larger, they also have more flavour.

One of the great things about juicing is the fact that you can use discount produce.  You know, the yucky crap that is 50% off at the grocery store.  It may be yucky, but guess what! We're squeezing the juice out of it so who cares!  We have gotten all kinds of cheap produce that has made excellent juices.  As per my formulas... I'm kind of flying by the seat of my pants.  I will put up some good recipes later, but for now I will post a few conclusions I have reached.

Things that are good for you but taste like crap on their own: Swiss Chard, Kale, Collard Greens, Broccoli.

Things that are good for you that don't taste good even when combined with other things: Ginger, Grapefruit.

Things that taste good and help mask other flavours: Pears, Pineapple, Apples, Raspberries, Blueberries and Bananas.

Most of the other things that I put in have a neutral flavour or are slightly bitter, but don't bother me too much.  I usually use Carrots, Cucumbers, Celery, Spinach (taste a little like dirt, but not too bad), and Peppers (Green, Red, Yellow).  We generally have 2 juices going on at any given time.  One which has more fruit in it, that we have for breakfast, and the other has more veg (especially protein veg).  I use this for a post workout energy drink.  One of the best benefits I have observed with the juice is that you get a huge boost of energy.  Not to say my body is no longer fatigued after working out, because it is! I'm just more alert and not hungry.  I should mention one point though.  You need to spend a little time 'training' your body so to speak.  We are all used to having full stomachs.  A full stomach means lots of nutrients (in theory, although not necessarily true in reality).  I spent the first few days drinking juice twice a day and my body was a little out of whack because of it.  My stomach would growl a little bit because there wasn't much in it, but at the same time, if I sat back and thought about it, I wasn't really hungry.  I used to have to eat every 4 hours or so, but with a large juice for breakfast, I was good for 5-6 hours.  If you choose to do this, just remember not to over eat.  Your body is getting much more nutrients this way that it was before. juice...

I found this chart today while thinking about the protein content of vegetables.  It comes from Dr. Fuhrman’s chart from Nutrient Density of Green Vegetables: I was fairly annoyed when I watched one body building video and the guy was saying that while he's training he avoids vegetables because it makes him bloated and doesn't fill him up. His diet was fish, chicken and rice or potatoes.  This chart helps to explain nutrient contents of Vegetables versus Meat.

For simply protein content, I also have this one.  I'm not sure where it came from but my cousin Polly Dritsas posted this on Facebook a while back.