Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Websites for vegetarian foods and other topics

I like to collect resources and I love sharing them. There's a lot to be said for a good food resource. I have six I would like to share with you today. Three are vegetarian/vegan sites. I am not a vegetarian. I like meat. I practically live on eggs and cheese. But I can appreciate a good vegetarian dish. I like the complexity of flavors when you take away the meat and cheese. Learning new ways to cook greatly helps the budget. If you stick with the same ole, same ole, you risk not having a balanced diet. More importantly, you risk boredom. With boredom comes poor choices.
I will warn you that many vegetarian sites are politacally motivated. They seek to change food practices. This is not a bad thing but I don't expect everyone to agree with everything posted. Don't get offended but look further into the topic or ignore it all together. Me, I do a combination of the two. I like knowing what's happening in the food world. It affects how I shop but, also, it helps me to plan better. For example, the current Listeria bacteria affecting canteloupe tells me that canteloupe shouldn't be on my shopping list. The canteloupe in the market may be perfectly safe but a massive recall will drive the price up.
So onto the resources
Vegsource is a great resource for all things vegetarian. This will be a great help for those who have friends or family who are vegetarian. It talks all thing political and environmental as well as offers recipes. I will say the recipes require a bit of a search to find (I linked up the site to the best start) but they are there. Check out the recipe for chocolate hummus - man I am so there.
Vegetarian Nutrition is a fairly new website and the content is slow coming but their focus is on nutrition instead of the politics for vegetarians. It's a nice easy website that offers information about food and how to incorporate good nutrition into a vegetarian lifestyle. There are a few recipes but as I said the content is slow coming.
Gone Raw is all recipes and no articles. All the foods are vegan and uncooked (a few dehydrated recipes are included). Raw foods are making a big splash in food trends. The concept is that by not cooking the food you are retaining more nutrients. What I like best is the creativity of the recipes. There are some great snack ideas and awesome desserts. We've played with some recipes. The nice thing is they are naturally gluten-free as well making them a great resource for those with gluten issues. (they are also dairy free)
Stepping away from vegetarian eating, there are three resources that I have found that sound like they could be excellent sources of information.
Fooducate is actually an app for those who have cell phones that can use apps. Scan the barcode of the product you wish to purchase in the store and Fooducate will give you information on that food. They grade foods based on nutrition and additives. Those with low grades come with healthier alternatives. (I don't have a cell phone so this won't work for me).
However, their blog is available to anyone with an internet connection and they have fun recipes.
Shopwell is similar to Fooducate but it's a website program not one for your phone. You register for Shopwell (it's free) and then input information about yourself. You can select from a variety of dietary needs from diabetes to athletic training. Then you choose things you want in your diet such as high calcium, whole grains and things you don't want like preservatives, trans fats, sugar. Then you start "shopping". I put in instant oatmeal for my first attempt. What I got was two pages of varieties of instant oatmeal that came with a color/number code. Products with a red dot and low number did not meet the criteria I set, yellow was okay but not the best, and green meant it fit perfectly. It didn't take long for me to see what the best choices were. This is great when you don't have time at the store to read all the labels. You can "shop" at home and have a perfect list. This doesn't include prices which would make it perfect but it does allow for a better understanding of the foods you want or do not want to include in your diet. One thing you can do is rate what you already buy and see how it fits in the diet you want to have.
Last resource for today is Shelf Life Advice. This site will answer all those questions you have about how long is too long for a food. Most of the time, I don't have a lot of worries because most things are obvious when they go bad but the one thing that freaks me out is mayo. I never feel confident about mayonaise. I will eat frostburnt meat that has been in my freezer longer than my son has been alive but mayo scares me. A quick search and I learned that commercial mayo can still be safe after 4 months open in the fridge or 30 days after the expiration date but that is for better quality. There was no mention that one can die from a long opened jar of store bought mayo which strangely is a relief.

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