If You’re Vegan You May Be Deficient In One Of These 5 Key NutrientsWritten by Kelsey Blackwell | Monday, January 30th, 2017

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While a vegan diet is certainly beneficial for your health – numerous studies show plant-based eating prevents a number of diseases including Type II Diabetes and heart disease – vegans are often low in many key nutrients needed to truly thrive. These deficiencies can result in depression, lethargy, headaches and more. Below we take a closer look at 5 key nutrients all vegans should ensure they’re getting enough of. While we’ve provided recommended doses, if you suspect a deficiency, consult with your doctor to assess your levels and determine what amount is right for you.

B-12

What it does: B12 is needed to make red blood cells and prevents anemia. The body cannot make B12 on its own and relies on animal-based foods, fortified foods and/or supplements for this nutrient.
Signs of deficiency: weakness, tiredness, lightheadedness, pale skin, constipation or diarrhea, nerve problems like numbness, depression
Vegan sources: In addition to supplements, there are many vegan foods fortified with B12. These include non-dairy milks, meat substitutes, breakfast cereals, and one type of nutritional yeast.

Recommended dose: The National Institutes of Health suggests women and men 14 years of age and older receive 2.4 micrograms daily. Go here for complete dosing recommendations by age.

Calcium

What it does: We all know that calcium is integral for strong bones and teeth, but calcium is also needed to support blood clotting and regulate nerve fibers in muscles. Muscles can cramp and even fail without enough calcium.

Signs of deficiency: muscle cramps, difficulty swallowing, fatigue, course hair, chronic itching, numbness or tingling in the extremities. Find a full list of calcium- deficiency indicators here.

Vegan sources: Blackstrap molasses, collard greens, tempeh, turnip greens, calcium fortified plant-based milks. This guide includes the amount of calcium found in each of these foods plus additional sources.

Recommended dose: The National Institutes of Health recommends that adults age 19-50 years and men 51-70 years receive at least 1000 mg of calcium per day. An intake of 1200 mg of calcium is recommended for women over 51 years of age and for men over 70.

Iron

What it does: Iron plays a key role in the production of red blood cells, which are essential for carrying oxygen throughout the body.

Signs of deficiency: exhaustion, pale skin, shortness of breath, restless leg syndrome, headache, anxiety
Vegan sources:
Beans, broccoli, raisins, wheat, tofu and iron-fortified cereals. Getting enough iron can be especially challenging for vegans because plant-based sources of iron aren’t as easily digested as iron from meat. Foods rich in vitamin C, such as mulberries, can help your body absorb iron.

Recommended dose: The National Institutes of Health recommends that women age 19-50 years receive at least 18 mg of iron daily; men 19-50 should receive at least 8 mg.

Omega-3 fatty acids

What it does: Omega-3 fats support heart health. These fats, which the body does not produce, have been shown to be helpful for lowering blood pressure and heart rate, improving blood vessel function, and, at higher doses, lowering triglycerides and easing inflammation.
Signs of deficiency:
dry skin and hair, soft brittle nails, difficulty paying attention, anxiety, difficulty sleeping and inflammation. Read more here.  

Vegan sources: Hemp seeds, chia seeds, flax seeds, flaxseed oil, mustard oil, seaweed and leafy vegetables. You may also consider a vegan omega-3 supplement.
Recommended dose:
The American Heart Association recommends that healthy adults eat at least two servings of oily fish per week, which equates to roughly 500 mg.

Vitamin D

What it does: Nearly every cell in the body interacts with Vitamin D. It’s shown to reduced inflammation and play an important role in bone health by helping the body absorb calcium.

Signs of Deficiency: exhaustion, difficulty thinking clearly, frequent bone fractures, muscle weakness.
Vegan Sources: The body produces its own vitamin D in response to sunlight. Getting outside for just 10 minutes of sunshine 3 to 4 times a week is a good place to start, though it’s challenging to satisfy your vitamin D needs from the sun alone. Foods that contain vitamin D include shitake mushrooms and fortified oatmeal, breakfast cereals, almond milk and tofu. In many cases supplementation is also helpful but be sure to select a supplement that’s vegan. Many are made with fish oil or lanolin, a waxy substance secreted by glands found in a sheep’s skin.

Recommended dose: The Institute of Medicine recommends that adults over age18 receive 1,500 to 2,000 IUs Daily. Go here for complete dosing recommendations.

Make It Vegan! 8 Easy (and Delicious) Ingredient SwapsWritten by Kelsey Blackwell | Wednesday, December 21st, 2016

Vegan Avocado Toast Hummus Kale ChipsSo, you’re adapting a classic recipe to be 100-percent plant based? No problem! There are vegan substitutions for pretty much every ingredient these days. Whether you need the perfect whipped topping for a festive pie, or simply to cut a few eggs from a recipe, we’ve got you covered. Here are our favorite foolproof vegan ingredient swaps.

 

1. Replace Whipped Cream with Aquafaba

If you’ve never heard of aquafaba it may be time to get better acquainted. This oft-overlooked vegan ingredient can work wonders on the dessert table. Aquafaba is the liquid in your can of chickpeas. Because the legumes are cooked in this liquid it contains protein and carbohydrates, which allow it to be whipped into stiff peaks like heavy cream or egg whites. Just add cream of tarter (for stabilization) and sugar and voilà! Expect light, airy and totally pie worthy results. Here’s a recipe.

2. Replace Butter with Sweet Potato

We get it, butter is tricky to replace – especially in baked goods which often suffer mightily from its lack. Fortunately, whipped sweet potato, believe it or not, can come shockingly close to imparting buttery-like benefits. That’s because the tuber is dense, subtly sweet and super moist. Hmmm … that does sound like butter. Even better, sweet potatoes are packed with vitamin A and beta-carotene.

3. Replace Butter with Coconut Oil 

Coconut oil is another great vegan replacement for butter. We love a pat of coconut oil on warm muffins just out of the oven and in any other baked good that traditionally calls for butter. Research shows that the naturally occurring saturated fats in coconut oil not only help baked goods stay moist but also may help boost the metabolism and support the immune system. Wow!

4. Replace Eggs with Flax or Chia Seeds

Did you know, ground flax or chia seeds can be used to replace eggs in baked goods? That’s because the naturally occurring polysaccharides of these ingredients, when combined with water, form a gel that can give structure to quick breads and muffins. Simply combine 1 tablespoon of ground seeds with 3 tablespoons of warm water for every egg you need to replace.

5. Replace Cream with Canned Coconut Milk

Oh, the wonders of coconut milk! It’s delicious, versatile and perhaps the ultimate convenience food since popping open a can requires very little work. We like it instead of milk or cream in soups and desserts like this one.

6. Replace Sour Cream with Silken Tofu

We’ve all likely experienced the highs and lows of tofu. But when it’s good, it can be oh, so good since it virtually disappears into a dish and takes on the flavors of other star ingredients. Our favorite tofu applications this time of year, and where it’s rarely detected, are dips, puddings and desserts where it’s substituted for sour cream.

7. Replace Cheese with Nutritional Yeast

Sprinkle nutritional yeast on popcorn, salads, soups or anywhere else you might add a touch of cheese. This inactive yeast imparts an addictively cheesy, salty taste to any food in touches. Even better, it’s also an excellent source of fiber, protein and several B vitamins. Nutritional yeast helps us achieve that rich cheddar flavor in our Bedda Than Chedda Kale Chips, without having to use cheese!

8. Replace Cream Cheese with Cashew Cream

Cashew cream is another versatile, and addictive cheese replacement. Make this cream yourself by simply pureeing cashews with water in a blender. And, just like cream cheese, this delight can be used in savory or sweet dishes depending on the ingredients you add. We like it for pasta sauces, soups and (honestly) simply licking from the bowl.

3 Reasons To Eat More Cranberries (You’ll Be Surprised)Written by Kelsey Blackwell | Monday, December 19th, 2016

Sure, cranberries are good, especially when they’re not gelatinized into a formidable side dish, but do you know exactly how good? Recent research suggests that the humble cranberry could pack more of a punch than you know. This holiday favorite may offer a host of unexpected benefits beyond its already impressive nutritional profile. Here are a few reasons why we love delicious, organic cranberries.

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Cranberries fight bacterial infections.

This may not come as news since cranberry pills and juice are commonly used to treat the bacterial infection that leads to uncomfortable urinary tract infections. Now scientists are discovering that the berry’s bacterial-fighting powers could be beneficial for treating other types of bacterial infections (think, strep throat, food poisoning caused by e. coli and meningitis). The phytochemicals in cranberries disrupt pathogens’ ability to move about the body and adhere to other cells.

Cranberries can protect your pearly whites.

Proanthocyanidine, a compound found naturally in cranberries, is shown to prevent plaque. This is the sticky substance that naturally collects on teeth, traps acid and leads to tooth decay and gingivitis. Proanthocyanidine is so beneficial for dental health that doctors are currently working on a mouthwash featuring the compound. Consider adding 100 percent cranberry juice to your diet to reduce plaque by up to 50 percent.

Cranberries contribute to gut health.

If you’re not familiar with the gut microbiome, it may be time to get better acquainted. This mini-ecosystem in the body is made up of thousands of microbes, which play a big role in regulating the health of the immune system and brain. These microbes also help the body balance energy and use carbohydrates and fat. Research shows that cranberries may support microbiome health by strengthening gut defense systems and protecting against infection – meaning they can help keep many important systems running smoothly. That’s big!

To get the most out of your fruit, avoid cranberry products that contain high-fructose corn syrup or unhealthy sweeteners.  Made In Nature Organic Cranberries are moist, sweet and free of refined sugars. We add just a touch of apple juice concentrate so you can snack in confidence.

If you need suggestions for cranberry snacking beyond grabbing handfuls from the bag, here are our favorite recipes.

Cranberry Mole
Granola with Cranberries and Raisins
Dried Apple Cranberry Conserve
Dried Cranberry & Apricot Braised Lamb Chops
Cranberry, Oatmeal & White Chocolate Cookies

Vegan Holiday Recipes To “Wow” The Whole FamilyWritten by Kelsey Blackwell | Thursday, December 15th, 2016

Vegan Holiday Recipes

Preparing a holiday menu that the whole family will enjoy can be a challenge – especially when not everyone eats the same way. Perhaps your vegan household will be entertaining guests more accustomed to traditional holiday recipes? Maybe you’ll be the lone vegan at the table but would like to offer a dish that’s not quickly categorized as the healthy, vegan option i.e. “fibrous and flavorless”? Whatever your situation, adding crowd-pleasing vegan holiday recipes to your table is a worthy effort.

As you know, many dishes this time of year are laden with excess fat, oil and sugar. Our tendencies to overindulge during the holidays can lead to urgent and drastic measures to get back on track come the New Year. Conversely, a diet rich in plant-based foods can leave eaters feeling light, bright and energized. In fact, research shows that a vegan diet contributes to a host of health benefits including reducing the incidence of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, breast cancer and more – but we know we don’t need to convince you. These indulgent holiday recipes emphasize healthful ingredients AND (most importantly) flavor. In fact, we wouldn’t be surprised if many don’t realize they’re entirely plant based.

Appetizers

Start the party with these festive appetizers that pack a tasty dose of heart-healthy nuts, fruits and seeds.

Avocado and Cranberry Hummus
Spicy Coconut Mango Popcorn
Sweet and Spicy Cranberries and Pumpkinseed Mix

 

The Main Attraction

We like to offer a spread of several main dishes to suit different palates. Give the classics a twist by adding a new salad or perhaps a few ethnic influences.

Mango Farro Pilaf
Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad
Plum and Sweet Potatoes Anna

Kale Apple Salad
Cranberry Spinach Salad
Double Baked Sweet Potato & Toasted Coconut

Dried Cranberry and Roasted Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad

 

Dessert

You’re sure to leave a lasting impression on your guests with coconut oil, fair trade cacao and organic dried fruit.

Dessert Tamales with Coconut Sauce
Goji Berry Truffles
Forbidden Black Rice Pudding
Raw Truffle Balls
Chocolate Dipped Candied Apricots

Made In Nature Organic Sun-Ripened Bananas Takes Home “Best in Raw Snacks” in Delicious Living’s Best Bite AwardsWritten by Susan Thanavaro | Friday, July 5th, 2013

Made In Nature is proud to announce that they have been awarded the Best Raw Snack prize in Delicious Living’s Best Bite Awards.

This year’s first Best Bite awards called on experienced natural retailers, manufacturers, and consumers to share their picks for making healthy living more delicious. After tasting samples and scrutinizing ingredients, the judges chose only products with the distinction for delivering healthy, whole foods using high-quality sourcing standards.

Made In Nature Organic Banana SlicesAfter taste testing and a thoroughly reviewing of all ingredients, Delicious Living found Made In Nature’s Organic Sun-Ripened Banana Slices to be the best in the Raw Snack Category.

According to Kelsey Blackwell from Delicious Living, Made In Nature stood out from the pack because, “rather than harvested green and chemically ripened, these USDA Organic bananas are picked at their flavor peak before drying. The perfectly sweet, sticky, and soft rounds are ideal for smoothies, cereal, or eating straight from the bag.”

As the #1 organic dried fruit brand in the U.S. (according to SPINS Scan (9/29/12), Made In Nature has always taken the path less chosen in dried fruit production and never uses added sugar, sulfur or artificial additives, colors, flavors, preservatives, pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers. The company is proud to add Non-GMO Project verfication to this long list of healthy attributes.  Made In Nature has been supporting sustainable, organic farming for over 25 years, not only because it produces the best tasting fruit on the planet, but because it is safe and healthy for their consumers and the planet as well. They are committed to developing products without the use of GMOs and believe their customers have a right to know what is in their food and deserve the healthiest food available.

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Made In Nature is committed to environmental stewardship, helping to convert thousands of acres of land to organic farming over the past 25 years. Many of these farms use renewable energy and provide shade and habitat for endangered species. By procuring only 100 percent certified organic and non-GMO fruit from dedicated organic farmers from around the globe, the company believes they offer the best tasting and most nutritious dried fruit on the planet. Made In Nature is available nationwide at Whole Foods Market, Sprouts, Costco and leading natural, specialty and regional grocers. Made In Nature also offers organic fresh produce and organic artisan frozen pizzas.