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Whole Grain Pasta Nutrients

This Delicious Gōyā Chanpurū Recipe Boosts Longevity



When it comes to unlocking the secret to a longer, healthier life, there is a place on earth that seems to have found the master key. Nestled deep in the Ryukyu Islands of Southern Japan lies the region of Okinawa, home to the longest-living people in the world.

Often referred to as “the land of immortals,” Okinawa is known for having the largest population of centenarians on the planet, which is why Dan Buettner, a National Geographic Fellow and a leading researcher on longevity, has named it one of the Blue Zones . (The Blue Zones are the five parts of the world that contain the highest concentration of the longest-living people: Okinawa, Japan; Ikaria, Greece; Sardinia, Italy; Nicoya Peninsula, Costa Rica; and Loma Linda, California.)

The Okinawans’ ability to live long, healthy lives far into their 100s can be attributed in part to the island also maintaining the world’s lowest rates of breast cancer, heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. While many factors contribute to an individual’s lifespan, it’s clear that the dietary and lifestyle habits of the residents of Okinawa and other Blue Zones play a significant role in their longevity.

As nutrition expert Asako Miyashita, RD explains, the traditional Okinawan diet is mostly plant-based, comprised of nutrient-dense whole grains, legumes, and fiber-rich vegetables that are high in carbs but low in added sugar and saturated fat. “Okinawans eat a moderate protein intake of tofu, fish, and some pork with a lot of carbohydrates that come from sweet potatoes, sea vegetables, wheat noodles, and island vegetables grown in the mineral-rich limestone soil,” says Miyashita.

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One of the most nutritious of these island vegetables is goya, also known as bitter melon or bitter gourd. This tropical vine has a rich bitter flavor, a bumpy green rind, and powerful antioxidant properties. “The bitterness of bitter melon is due to an antioxidant named momordicine, which is a type of polyphenol that benefits longevity,” Miyashita says. According to Miyashita, the other compounds in bitter melon, charantin and cucurbitacins, work with momordicine to help lower cholesterol, balance glucose levels, reduce inflammation in the body, and lower your risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.

The abundance of bitter melon throughout Okinawa has made it a staple in the rich culinary heritage of the region. As versatile as it is nutritious, bitter melon can be prepared in a variety of ways. According to Miyashita, bitter melon is most commonly served in a dish known as gōyā chanpurū, a delicious and savory stir fry that’s considered the quintessential dish of Okinawan cuisine. Recipe developer and food blogger Namiko Chen of Just One Cookbook shares more background on this delicious, nutrient-rich recipe.

“Chanpurū—which means “something mixed”—stir fry dishes are very popular in Okinawan cooking and typically include a combination of tofu, goya, with some kind of vegetable, meat, or fish,” Chen says. Her recipe for gōyā chanpurū, Chen shares, includes island tofu, goya, bean sprouts, pork, egg, and bonito flakes as garnish. “When goya is stir-fried together with tofu and eggs, the bitterness is tempered and there is an unmistakable umami character to the dish.”

Though the recipe is simple to prepare, every single ingredient in it offers a bounty of essential vitamins, minerals, and/or potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits. According to Miyashita, the bitter melon delivers an immune-boosting dose of vitamins A and C. “And as my mom always says, bitter foods are good for you,” Chen adds. The eggs, pork, and tofu supply vitamin D, vitamin B, zinc, and protein. In addition to protein and heart-healthy flavonoids, Miyashita says that the special island tofu used packs plenty of calcium and magnesium, too.

For the bitter melon beginner, Chen offers a few helpful shopping tips. “Bitter melon can be found at your local Asian grocery store or farmer’s market. When shopping, choose a gourd that is smaller in size, has a bright green rind with lots of bumps, and feels firm to the touch,” she says.

The traditional gōyā chanpurū is a great way to enjoy the benefits of bitter melon but a true chanpurū is all about mixing things up. Get acquainted with some of the other longevity-boosting Okinawan staple foods like purple sweet potato, daikon, and Chinese okra by tossing them into this deliciously healthy dish.

Read on for Chen’s full gōyā chanpurū recipe from Just One Cookbook below.

Goya Chanpuru from Just One Cookbook

3 Tbsp katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes)
1 bitter melon (around 8 ounces)
1 1/4 tsp kosher or sea salt (divided)
14 ounces medium tofu (momen tofu)
6 slices of pork belly, cut into small 1 1/2 inch pieces
2 large eggs, beaten with a fork
2 1/2 Tbsp neutral-flavored oil, such as vegetable, rice bran, or canola (divided)
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp soy sauce

1. Make your homemade katsuo dashi: Stir the katsuobushi (bonito flakes) into a measuring cup with 1/4 cup boiling water. Let it steep until you’re ready to cook. Right before you start stir-frying, strain and remove katsuobushi.

2. Prepare the bitter melon: Cut the bitter melon in half lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out the seeds and scrape off the inner white pith. Slice into 1/8-inch thickness. Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon of the salt and let stand for 10 minutes, then rinse the bitter melon with water and drain well. (You can also use a salad spinner for this.)

3. Press the tofu: Wrap the tofu with paper towel and place a heavy flat object (like a cutting board) on top of the tofu to squeezes out water. Once it has been sufficiently pressed, tear up the tofu into bite-size pieces with your hands.

4. Saute the tofu: Heat a large frying pan and add a tablespoon oil and lay tofu in one layer in the pan. Try not to touch or toss the tofu frequently. Cook until the tofu has been browned and the moisture has evaporated. Transfer to a plate.

5. Stir fry the bitter melon: Add another tablespoon of oil to the same frying pan. Add the bitter melon, sprinkle remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt on it, and stir fry until almost cooked. Transfer to a plate.

6. Cook pork belly: Add a 1/2 tablespoon oil and the pork belly to the pan. Season with freshly ground black pepper. Stir fry until nice and golden brown.

7. Stir fry everything together and season: Add the bitter melon and the tofu back to the frying pan. Add katsuo dashi and soy sauce, and let the liquid evaporate while you toss to combine. Taste and add kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper if necessary. Add the beaten eggs and add to the frying pan. Shake the pan to cook the egg and once the egg is no longer runny, turn off the heat.

8. Transfer to a plate and sprinkle more katsuobushi (bonito flakes). Enjoy!

You can keep the leftovers in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to three days or in the freezer for a month.

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Whole Grain Pasta Nutrients

Expert’s nutrition tips for runners



Running is a very popular sport, thanks to its simplicity and many health and fitness benefits. It’s versatile and inexpensive, requires very little equipment, and it’s an excellent way to strengthen your cardiovascular health.

Nutrition plays an important part in optimum running performance. pexels

With the competitive nature of the sport, runners continuously challenge themselves and each other to improve. In addition to training, proper fuel for the body is vital for peak sports performance.

Noted medical and nutrition specialist Dr. Korakod Panich provided the five best nutrients for optimal running performance.

Nutrition is important for runners because it plays a vital role in overall health and can also support performance. A balanced diet for healthy runners should include these five key nutrients:

1. Carbohydrates
Carbohydrates—which can be found in food such as fruits, dairy products, and starches such as rice, bread, and pasta—are the most important source of energy for the body.

For runners, a small meal, taken an hour before running, consisting of carbohydrates and a bit of protein can provide the energy needed to run effectively. A smoothie made with milk and fruit, or some yogurt topped with berries, provides the nutrients needed and is easily digested before a workout.

Consuming the right amount of carbohydrates before exercising can help you maximize your workout.

2. Protein
Protein—found in meat, milk, eggs, and soy—helps repair and rebuild tissues and muscles that could be affected during physical activities. With the proper amount of protein and adequate sleep, muscles repair, rebuild, and become stronger.

Soy is a good protein source as it is one of the few complete plant-based proteins containing all of the nine essential amino acids that the body cannot produce on its own. Runners should consume a combination of carbs and protein 30 to 45 minutes after exercising.

Carb to protein ratio should be 2-3:1, with 20 grams of high-quality protein after a workout and between 40 and 60 grams of carbohydrate. A sandwich on whole-grain bread with a piece of fruit or a high-protein recovery shake would fill the bill.

Fat serves as an essential energy source. It is often used as fuel, particularly during moderate-intensity exercise that lasts for an extended period, such as a moderate jog lasting at least 30 minutes or so. The body will utilize more fat than carbohydrate for fuel in an attempt to conserve carbohydrate that is stored in the liver and muscles.

Choose beneficial fats—such as those found in olive oil, avocado, and nuts—and avoid saturated fats¬¬that can raise the risk of heart disease. This means staying away from fatty red meats, and ultra-processed foods, such as fast food or bakery items.

4. Vitamins and minerals
There are different kinds of vitamins and minerals that help maintain the balance in body system functions; fruits and vegetables are the best sources to obtain them. During exercise, the body excretes waste in the form of sweat, which also removes important minerals from the body. If you opt to exercise for more than one hour, energy and mineral drinks are highly recommended to replace lost fluids and minerals.

The human body is made up of 70 percent water, which is why staying hydrated is crucial. Water helps deliver nutrients to the cells and plays a significant role in eliminating waste. Runners need to maintain body water balance before, during, and after workouts because water provides nourishment that the body needs for almost every single function. It also helps limit changes in body temperature.

Make sure not to lose more than two percent of your body weight in fluids during exercise, as it can reduce your strength and affect performance. If you exercise regularly, check your weight before and after a workout to keep track of water loss and be sure to replace those losses. For every pound of weight lost during exercise, replace with 2-3 cups of fluid (or 1 liter of fluid for every kilogram lost during exercise).

Nutrition and running style

Aside from understanding the importance of nutrients, it is also essential for new runners to learn the proper way to run. Running not just makes our bodies stronger; it also helps burn calories and fat, depending on the goal.

If you have little time and would like to burn calories and fat, you can do interval training, which alternates short work intervals (80-90 percent of maximum heart rate for 30-60 seconds) with rest periods (50 percent of maximum heart rate for 1-2 minutes). This helps improve circulation and enable the heart to pump blood and make it healthier while strengthening the muscles.

If your main aim is to burn fat, and you have some time, you can run slowly to raise your heart rate to 40-60 percent of your maximum, for at least 45-60 minutes.

Korakod Panich is a member of the Herbalife Nutrition Advisory Board.

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Whole Grain Pasta Nutrients

Weekly Spotlight: Make the Perfect Spring Vegan Pasta Salad!



Pasta salad is a wonderful spring meal, plus it’s a wonderful plant-based meal that can easily be veganized! It’s a meal that you can add any veggie that you want to, making it super versatile for this time of year. When spring produces like arugula, garlic and some herbs are hitting their peak season, you might have extra veggies on hand or are looking for a way to clear out some veggies from your fridge. Pasta salad is also easy to whip up, and you can either do a simple dressing or a more involved creamy dressing to top it.

Depending on your time and how you want to enjoy your pasta salad, this guide splits pasta salad recipes depending on their sauce base. The simple oil and garlic type dressings are lighter in flavor, allowing whatever you hand (veggies or herbs) to stand out in your final pasta salad. However, if you’re looking for a creamier and more hands-on homemade dressing, we’ve got you covered too! These are topped with a dressing that uses a base of tahini, tofu, or even hemp seeds to create a delicious creamy dressing. The last group focuses on taking a traditional pasta salad adding a twist, like a clever flavor or mixing up the base grain!

We also highly recommend downloading the Food Monster app — with over 15,000 delicious recipes it is the largest meatless, vegan, plant-based, and allergy-friendly recipe resource to help you get healthy! And, don’t forget to check out our Weekly Meal Plan Archives!

Are you ready to have a week full of delicious, high-protein, whole-food vegan food that leaves you nourished and content? Let’s get started!

This week, we’re bringing delicious pasta salad recipes that are fully vegan and plant-based!

Pasta Salads that Use a Mayo, Sour Cream, or Simple Oil Dressing:

Vegan Spring Pea and Arugula Pasta Salad

Source: Spring Pea and Arugula Pasta Salad

These quick pasta salads are great to throw together for the week! Their light dressing makes it excellent to eat on its own to get a variety of simple flavors and enjoy the fresher crunch of the veggies in these dishes.

Pasta Salads that Use a Tofu, Tahini, Homemade, or Cashew Based Dressing

Vegan Easy Vegetable Pasta Salad

Source: Easy Vegetable Pasta Salad

These creamy pasta salads are excellent to enjoy on their own, or if you’re looking to add even more veggies, you could enjoy these over a base of greens for an extra crunch of texture! There are so many ways to make a creamy pasta salad with vegan ingredients; you could use cashews, tofu, tahini, or even hemp hearts to get a creamy sauce.

Pasta Salads that Are a Twist on a Classic Dish:

Vegan Greek Pasta Salad with Tofu Feta

Source: Greek Pasta Salad with Tofu Feta

Cacio e Pepe as a pasta salad? Using orzo instead of pasta? There are so many ways to change up the flavors and inspiration you use for your pasta salads. If you’re looking for a way to enjoy a new way of eating pasta salad, this is your list right here!

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Learn How to Cook Plant-Based Meals at Home

Reducing your meat intake and eating more plant-based foods is known to help with chronic inflammation, heart health, mental well-being, fitness goals, nutritional needs, allergies, good health other more! Unfortunately, dairy consumption also has been linked to many health problems, including acne, hormonal imbalance, cancer, prostate cancer, and has many side effects.

For those interested in eating more plant-based, we highly recommend purchasing one of our many plant-based cookbooks or downloading the Food Monster app which has thousands of delicious recipes making it the largest vegan recipe resource to help reduce your environmental footprint, save animals and get healthy! And, while you are at it, we encourage you to also learn about the environmental other health benefits of a plant based diet.

Here are some resources to get you started:

For more Animal, Earth, Life, Vegan Food, Health, and Recipe content published daily, subscribe to the One Green Planet Newsletter! Lastly, being publicly-funded gives us a greater chance to continue providing you with high-quality content. Please consider supporting us by donating!

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Whole Grain Pasta Nutrients

Food Therapist Debunks Myths About Veganism



Veganism is a lifestyle that is based on the ideology that humans should not exploit animals or the environment for their needs. Vegans refrain from utilizing any kind of animal products for food, clothing, or work, among other things, and they do not differentiate between any species as they consider all animals equal. Simply put, veganism is the practice of avoiding the use of any animal products—particularly in our diet—including meat, eggs, and dairy products.

Myths about veganism

Additionally, there are countless myths, misconceptions, and assumptions about being vegan from all corners. We got Nidhi Nahata—Founder, Justbe Resto Cafe, Bangalore, and food therapist—to debunk a few common floating speculations.

1. Milk has a lot of calcium

Credit: iStock

There is an existing misconception that only cow milk contains calcium. So, what is the optimal source of calcium? Like plenty of other nutrients, calcium is readily available in a variety of plant-based foods that are better absorbed by the body than dairy. Think broccoli, cabbage, kale, almonds, chia, beans, pulses, leafy vegetables, and more. Therefore, even if you are not vegan, having a wide range of calcium sources in your diet can be a healthier option.

2. Animal protein is more important than plant protein

7 myths about veganism
Credit: iStock

Incidentally, the animals that are consumed for so-called protein are fed on a plant based diet, which basically means that we are consuming the same and/or processed protein through dead tissues or extracted produce from an animal. For those on the lookout for plant-based protein sources, there are plenty of options like soya, lentils, pulses, broccoli, seaweed, peas, spinach, beans, brown rice, whole wheat bread and pasta, quinoa, peanuts, cashews, almonds , pistachios, walnuts, oats, and seitan tofu.

3. Vegans have B12 deficiency

Vegans, vegetarians, or non-vegetarians—all could have deficiency because of vitamin B12, which is a bacteria found in nature. The sources of vitamin B12 are commonly questioned in reference to being vegan, since the most common source is assumed to be animals and animal products. But the reality is that vegans can achieve the intake needed through reliable sources, such as supplements or fortified foods.

7 myths about veganism
Credit: iStock

Vitamin B12 is produced by certain microorganisms and is processed while consuming cobalt from a plant base. However, our modern day agriculture prevents these nutrients to be transferred into our bodies through either sources-–animals or plants. Therefore, vegans, vegetarians, or non-vegetarians need to normally be given cobalt or B12 supplements to attain suitable levels regardless of their dietary preference.

4. Vegan lifestyle is very expensive

food item
Credit: iStock

The limited accessibility to vegan food and alternatives is one of the biggest restrictive misconnects prevalent in our society. The reality is that, similar to any diet, plant-based eating is only expensive if there are a lot of quick-to-eat processed foods, readymade meal preps, and products from vegan-specific brands. There are plenty of vegan foods and ingredients that are affordable in India, especially if the diet is centered around cheaper foods like fruits, vegetables, grains, lentils, beans, and several others. Good planning can make vegan diet more affordable than the ones that include animal products.

5. Pregnant women need milk and dairy

7 myths about veganism
Credit: iStock

“You cannot be vegan when pregnant” is a common misconception for soon-to-be vegan parents. The basic fact is that pregnancy is a challenge for the body, no matter what diet you are on and usually requires additional nutrients. It is advised to be closer to iron and vitamin B12, which can be attained on a vegan diet as well. The tradition of milk being one of the most integral components of our diet has been prevalent for decades. We need to be mindful and bring logical reasoning in choosing food for soon-to-be parents as well as children.

6. Soy increases the chances of breast cancer

  7 myths about veganism
Credit: iStock

There is no convincing evidence that eating soy-based food increases the risk of breast cancer in humans. This misunderstanding, however, might arise from earlier studies conducted on rodents. Scientists of this study showed that when these animals received large amounts of soy-compounds called flavones, they showed likelihood to develop breast cancer.

7 myths about veganism
Credit: iStock

A study published by the International Journal of Epidemiology, in February 2020, searched associations between soy intake and breast cancer risk by following 52,795 cancer-free women in the US for an average of 7.9 years. In the results, they found no substantial association between soy intake and breast cancer, but they did identify a link between dairy (milk) and breast cancer.

Soy as an ingredient is loaded with fiber and is a good source of protein, omega 3, and antioxidants. Research also suggests that soy has a good amount of protein which is well absorbed by the body, and the best way to consume it is in bean form, tofu, tempeh, and other such forms.

7. Veganism is a cult

7 myths about veganism
Credit: iStock

Being compassionate and conscious can never be a cult. Veganism is a lifestyle that utilizes an ideology to bring people closer to their instincts. This means bringing us closer to eating what nature has designed and grown for us, rather than exploiting animals and other sentient beings.

Lead Image Credit: Alia Bhatt and Yami Gautam Dhar, Instagram

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