Tag Archives: yogurt

New Favorites!

I’ve been making more of an effort to bring food from home to work not only to save myself from eating junk but also to save some money. 2013 is no financial joke, you guys! Thankfully, I’ve added a few new items to my list of favorite portable foods.



Okay. So. Stonyfield O’Soy yogurt is not vegan. I realized that their cultures are milk-based after buying it. Ugh. Kind of a buzzkill, but O’Soy yogurt is still a decent alternative to other yogurts (is it just me or does everyone else in the world eat Chobani yogurt?) and definitely more nutritious than donuts or cookies that I find myself eating when I’m starving for a snack. For an actual vegan yogurt that is super delicious, try Amande! Christie uses Amande in a breakfast parfait which you can read about here. I usually add some flax meal and/or granola to my yogurt.

Speaking of granola, our friends at Cascadian Farm sent us a box of their new Berry Cobbler Granola. I love Cascadian Farm granola and go through it really quickly. I usually eat it as a cereal with some soy or almond milk and flax meal. It’s great with bananas or blueberries, too! Now, I wasn’t sure what to expect with the new Berry Cobbler flavor. How would it be different from other granola with cranberries or blueberries in it? I don’t know how they did it, but Cascadian Farm concocted granola that actually tastes very much like berry cobbler!! So good and decadent that I find myself saving it for special days.

Finally, I bought a jar of Biscoff Spread when I saw it for $3.99 at Fresh Farms. I find that it pops up in a lot of my Internet searches for Vegan treats or snacks, but I always felt that it was too expensive to even try, so I snagged it when I saw it for under $5. The spread is made with Biscoff cookies. Right on the jar, they call it out as an alternative to peanut butter. (I personally see it as a non-chocolate vegan alternative to Nutella.) It looks very much like peanut butter, has the same texture and is packaged like peanut butter, but it’s got that unmistakable Biscoff cookie taste. It’s so good on toast! It’s on the sweet side. I wouldn’t recommend eating it with jam or even eating it with fruit. My perspective has definitely changed on the cost: it’s no more expensive than almond butter or “fancy” peanut butter. If I’m feeling adventurous enough, I might try making Biscoff donuts. DELICIOUS!

So, there you have it! These are some of my new favorite products. They’re delicious AND cost-effective and (mostly) vegan. –Melissa

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Isoflavones vs. Steroids. Vegetables vs. Animals.

“Doesn’t soy contain estrogen?” People ask me this question a lot, especially when I mention that I don’t eat dairy. I call this “the milk talk”.
I’ll apologize in advance – I’m a biochemist so that will color my explanation… or maybe make it so colorless that you fall asleep. Anyways, what people are talking about when they say soy has estrogen in it is that soy contains compounds called isoflavones and flavones. All plants have them. These compounds are ‘estrogen-like’. This is what isoflavones and flavones look like in a simple chemist’s line drawing (think: stick figures for molecules, they don’t actually look like that). You don’t need to know what any of this means, just note the similarities and differences between all 4 drawings in this post.

Isoflavones and flavones aren’t one specific compound: they’re a group of compounds with similar structures, not unlike the group called steroid hormones. Estrogen and testosterone are both steroids.
I hope you’ll notice that estrogen and testosterone are much more similar to one another than to the flavone or it’s isomer (OMG you just learned some organic chemistry!). You might also know that estrogen and testosterone have very different effects on the human body: one makes you grow muscles and chest hair and the other makes you grow breasts and smooth skin. If you surmise that flavones and isoflavones have different effects too, then you’re correct: there is interest from the scientific community in flavones and isoflavones as treatments for cancer (and heart disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis). Research suggests that various compounds in the group of known isoflavones and flavones are effective for treating and preventing the very cancers that estrogen and testosterone are known to promote.
Additional fun fact: withdrawal from estrogen causes PMS. Withdrawal from testosterone causes ‘roid rage. Withdrawal from isoflavones and flavones has no documented symptom.
So you might be asking yourself, “Why is she going on about estrogen?” or maybe even. “well, dairy milk doesn’t have any hormones in it. I buy organic.” Really? Are you sure about that?
Where do you think dairy comes from? Cows.
All cows: male, female, young, old? Female cows.
How do you get a lady cow to make milk: motivational posters? Nope, you impregnate them.Then their levels of estrogen skyrocket, but not just estrogen. Progesterone and eventually prolactin will also show up in a pregnant cow’s secretions: from urine to (you guessed it) milk.
But there isn’t very much hormone in dairy milk, right? The concentration doesn’t matter, you don’t need a lot.
Why? Steroids (and all hormones) operate in something scientists call “signal cascade”. I would describe it as chemical chain letters: each cell that gets the signal (1 hormone molecule), sends copies to all of it’s closest friends and a few not-so-close friends.
If you’re really thinking, you might ask yourself, “Doesn’t pasteurization destroy it?” Well, pasteurization occurs a no more than 72C/160F (Wikipedia). Dessicated estrol begins to break down at 245C/473F (according to my Merck manual). Just throwing that out there.
This is what I’m really getting at: if you’re worried about the estrogen-LIKE compounds in soy, why haven’t you considered the actual estrogen (and progesterone) secreted by the [recently] pregnant cow whose milk you’re drinking? Anyways, I prefer almond milk – fewer calories.
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