Health Guide

Keeping Healthy as a Vegan (or Non-Vegan)

Veganism is such a hot topic at the moment. There are strong opinions coming from all angles and it can sometimes feel hard to find reliable information that isn't fuelled by judgement or anger. No matter what your opinion, the vast majority of us desire health and vibrancy in our lives. We are all so unique and this looks so different for every person. One size does not fit all. But whatever our choices are, it's important to take the time to check in with our bodies and how we're feeling. Do you feel energised by food? Or do you feel endlessly tired and sluggish? 

Personally, we stopped eating all animal products around 2 years ago for a variety of reasons; for our health, the environment, ethics and more. It's been a hugely positive journey for both of us and I can't say that I've been tempted to change during that time. However, we recognise the importance in being mindful about what we eat and being intuitive about what feels good. Eating plant based doesn't always translate to eating healthily. You can still serve up junk food at every meal and label it as 'vegan'. So rather than focusing on labels such as 'vegan', 'keto', 'paleo' etc, I think it's crucial to observe how you feel eating certain foods and see each meal as an opportunity to nourish your body and express gratitude. 

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“Be good to yourself. If you don't take care of your body, where will you live?” - Kobi Yamada

Our bodies communicate with us daily in so many ways. From our skin, to our eliminative system and energy levels. If we become deficient in certain vitamins or our body is off balance, this can show up in a variety of ways - tiredness, dull skin, acne, hormonal issues, poor digestion and more.

If you're a vegan (or non vegan!) that feels consistently tired and you notice some imbalances in your body, then it's so important to look at your diet to see how you can create harmony in the body again. A great way to to do this is by having a blood panel test done, which tests for specific vitamin and nutrient levels to find any deficiencies. For all our readers based in USA, Health Labs offers a 'Vegan Wellness Panel Test' which checks for the 11 most common deficiencies. If you're vegan and want to make sure you're supporting your body the best you can, then it's such a great resource to consider.

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These are some of the 11 vitamins/nutrients that Health Labs test for, why they're important and how you can incorporate these more in your life with plant power, herbs or supplements...

IRON
Iron deficiency is a growing problem for many women - vegan or non-vegan. When consuming plant-based sources of iron, combine them with Vitamin C when possible to help absorption. Good sources of iron are:
Nettles (no.1 tip for iron is daily nettle infusions!), blackstrap molasses, dark leafy greens, organic spirulina, cacao, quinoa, buckwheat, black beans, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, avocado. 

Herbs- Nettle, parsley, dandelion, yellow dock. 

CALCIUM  
A hugely important nutrient for bone health. Good sources of calcium are:
dark leafy greens (collard, mustard, kale), organic tempeh, tahini, broccoli, figs, black strap molasses, organic almonds, chia seeds. 

Herbs - nettles, horsetail, oat straw, alfalfa.


ZINC
Zinc is such an important nutrient to support our immune system, regulate hormones and metabolising carbohydrates. Good sources of zinc are:
Black beans, chickpeas, lentils, organic tempeh, oats pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, cashew nuts, quinoa, sesame seeds, hemp seeds, wild rice, shiitake mushrooms, flaxseeds, asparagus, cardamom. 

Herbs: oat straw dill, rosemary, sage, chervil


B12
B12 is a complicated issue for those eating plant based, as unlike all the other vitamins/minerals, it's extremely difficult for us to obtain the amount we need from a natural food source.  However, our bodies our capable of creating B12 if we have optimal digestion. In the past, we absorbed B12 from fresh spring water and from the soil, but now that so many pesticides are used to cultivate our food, it's very difficult to find natural sources. Even those who absorb B12 from animal products may only be doing so because the farm animal they are consuming was supplemented with B12 when it was alive. This article is highly recommended if you wish to learn more. 

We supplement with a liquid B12. This is our favourite product in the UK, and we have heard excellent reviews of this brand in the USA & rest of the world. 

FOLIC ACID
Folic acid, or folate, is a B vitamin that assists the body in creating red blood cells and repairing DNA. It's especially important in pregnancy, as it helps the foetus develop. Good sources of Folate are:
organic spinach, broccoli, asparagus, lentils, black beans, pinto beans, avocado, beetroot, romaine lettuce, papaya.

 

More Helpful Resources


'Vegan done right' with Dr Stephen Cabral - Melissa Ambrosini Podcast
This podcast episode is so informative and helpful, diving deep into common deficiencies for vegans and how we can help to avoid this through diet, Ayurveda and lifestyle.  Cannot recommend this enough!  

Health 101
An amazing website full of so many eye opening articles. The article on B-12 deficiency is incredibly interesting and is such an important thing to get educated about. 

Health Labs  (US) 
As we mentioned above, the Vegan Nutritional Maintenance Panel is such an effective way to ensure that you are receiving enough nutrients from your food. The test reveals any deficiencies you may have, so that you can address them and adjust what you're eating. They also offer other tests for food allergies. 
Use the code 'PutumayoKitchen' to receive a 25% discount on tests. 

Cerascreen (UK & Europe)
A test centre based in Europe, offering deficiency tests. 

Our Favourite Nutrition Books
  See our 'Essential Book' list for some recommended nutrition books that can help you on your journey! 
 

Have you ever considered testing for vitamin deficiencies? We'd love to hear how you keep healthy eating a plant based diet. 

If you enjoyed this article or found it helpful, please share it! 

Thank you to Health Labs for supporting this article. 

The Magic of Medicinal Mushrooms

The past year or two, we've become fascinated by medicinal mushrooms. They have been pretty life changing for us and are a huge passion of ours. So much so, we're hoping to volunteer  on a mushroom farm later this year and learn all about cultivating fungi... which we're so excited for! 

We wanted to share some of our knowledge and experience of medicinal mushrooms - where to start, how to eat them, some of their benefits and our favourite companies. If your only experience of mushroom so far are the ones you buy from the supermarket, then welcome to the enormous fungi kingdom and all its magic .... 

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Images via Tumblr. 

WHAT ARE MEDICINAL MUSHROOMS?

The historical importance of mushrooms is often undervalued by mainstream society and western medicine. Mushrooms have been used for thousands of years as food, medicine and as part of spiritual practices in a range of different communities and religions. The more we learn about the fungi kingdom, the more we recognise their value in the ecosystem - they are quite literally all around us and hold so much potential! Humans are closely related to the Fungi Kingdom, therefore their benefits are lovingly received and recognised by the human body.  So what makes a medicinal mushroom any different from those you'd find in the veggie section? 

Medicinal Mushrooms are mushrooms with powerful healing properties and health benefits. When we consume these mushrooms that are rich in medicinal qualities, we absorb a variety of medicinal constituents and nutrients, increasing health and vitality.  These types of mushrooms have been such a valuable medicine for thousands of years, most notably in TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine). 

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HOW TO TAKE THEM

Our favourite way to use mushrooms is to make warm tonics or elixirs with nut/ oat / coconut milk. We have a recipe for our favourite cacao tonic here. You can also take the mushrooms in tincture form.  

When taking mushrooms, a small amount goes a long way. We use roughly 1/2 teaspoon each time, so although buying the mushrooms can initially feel expensive, they last for a very long time as they are so potent.


Some of our favourite mushrooms are as follows:

REISHI
Known as The Queen of the fungi kingdom and The mushroom of Immortality - reishi was the first medicinal mushroom I tried and I fell in love with immediately. The effects of this mushrooms are so calming for the nervous system - I can quite literally feel the relaxing, grounding effects when I take it. 

Reishi is best known in Chinese Medicine for its immune boosting properties and is prescribed for vitality and general wellbeing. Full of amino acids, polysaccharides, vitamins and minerals ... it's a super fungi full of healing  magic. If you're looking to start somewhere, we recommend Reishi.

CHAGA
If Reishi is the Queen of mushrooms, then Chaga is known as the healing King. Growing wild on birch trees in various parts of the world, the chaga fungus absorbs some of the powerful nutrients from the tree. It is known to be incredibly alkalising and a rich of source of antioxidants (which protect the body from free radical damage) and has been used for hundreds of years as a remedy for illnesses. Various studies have been released on the healing effects of Chaga against certain forms of cancer. (google Alexander Solzhenitsyn's book The Cancer Ward). Chaga chunks can be decocted into a powerful tea to promote immunity and wellness, or else it is available in powder form from various companies. 

CORDYCEPS
The cordyceps fungus is truly fascinating as it grows in the high altitudes of the Himalayas... on caterpillars (!). This mushroom has an incredible reputation for increasing stamina, vitality and strength. It's often referred to as being the mushroom for improving athletic performance and enhancing energy. Prescribed in TCM to support the function of the lungs and kidneys, it's also suggested to strengthen the immune system. 

LIONS MANE
Often used as a nerve tonic - Lions Mane can be taken to support nerve and brain function, as well as aiding digestion. Modern studies have shown it to be a potential medicine for helping diseases such as Alzheimers and dementia. It's rich in amino acids, minerals and can enhance the function of the immune system! 

 

RESOURCES TO LEARN MORE

 Rich Roll Podcast - Tero Isokauppila On Healing Mushrooms

The Life Stylist Podcast - The Magic of Mushrooms

TED TALK - 6 Ways Mushrooms Can Save the World

The Chief Life Podcast - Mason Taylor on Medicinal Mushrooms

BBC Documentary - The Magic of Mushrooms

RECCOMMENDED BRANDS & PRODUCTS

UK
Hybrid Herbs
Indigo Herbs
Sun Potion (via Raw Living)

Four Sigmatic

Rest of the World
Sun Potion
Dragon Herbs
SuperFeast


 SHOP BELOW:

 

We hope you enjoyed this post...we'd love to hear about anyones experiences with medicinal mushrooms or recommendations you have!

Our Favourite Wellness Podcasts

I'm a self confessed podcast addict - it's my favourite way to unwind at the moment. There is so much incredible knowledge out there to be shared, so we compiled this list of some of our most loved podcasts right now.

We'd love to hear your recommendations in the comments below! 

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Herbalism & Spirituality
Medicine Stories A wonderful podcast by the herbalist Amber Magnolia Hill. The conversations on this podcast are so potent and inspiring!
The Mojo Mecca -   Chloe is such a beautiful, authentic soul and this really shines through all the conversations on her podcast. Diving into everything from ritual, poetry and plants, I've been inspired by every interview and guest.  
The Flower Lounge - This is podcast is created by the owner of the Flower Essence brand Lotus Wei. I love the way the conversations flow and there are some really beautiful and informative episodes.
The Herb Nerd - Discussions about alternative health, herbal remedies, ayurveda, shamanism and more. 
Love and Liberation - A beautiful podcast by herbalist Olivia Clementine.
Dream Freedom Beauty - Some really interesting episodes with healers, herbalists and generally inspiring people. I loved the episode 'The Bee Priestess, Ariella Daly  on Shamanic Dreaming with Bees' ... so interesting! 
Starseed Survival Guide - This is a new discovery of mine but have learnt a lot from this podcast already. I definitely recommend the episode with Paola Garcia about ceremonial cacao. 
Forage Botanicals - Made by herbalist Natasha Richardson (who has great online content!), every episode of this podcast focuses on a different herb as Natasha interviews herbalist friends. Nettle is one of my favourite herbs, so I naturally loved the episode on Nettles!
Your Own Magic - The hosts of this podcast have such a dreamy looking life - living in Kauai, Hawaii and interviewing inspirational people for their podcasts. Some great episodes on life lessons, meditation & health. 

Wellness and Health:
The Rich Roll Podcast - This is such a popular podcast, and it's easy to see why. Rich is a great interviewer with some truly inspiring guests. Covering wellness, spirituality, happiness and so much more. 
The Life Stylist - Another excellent wellness podcast with some really interesting guests on such a wide range of topics. 
Wanderlust Speakeasy - This series is a recording of live lecture talks from yoga teachers, authors, musicians and just generally very inspiring people at Wanderlust yoga festivals. 
Almost 30 - I found this through the blog Free + Native and am enjoying it so far. I definitely recommend the episodes with Tero Isokauppila and Lacy Phillips. 
The Balanced Blonde / Soul on Fire - As a fan of her blog, I was super happy to find out Jordan now has a podcast too! Again, covering some really interesting episodes about nutrition, holistic health and more. 

Shamanism and Plant Medicine  
Psychedelic Salon - As well as a great archive of Terrence McKenna talks (an advocate for use of psychedelic plants and an amazing speaker), this also has great episodes about different areas of psychedelic research. 

Entheo Nation - Lots of really interesting episodes about plant medicine, traditions and spirituality. 


General Inspiration and Life Wisdom! 

Expanded Podcast by Free + Native - I’ve completed a few of Lacy’s online workshops and they have been so healing for me. This podcast focuses on expanding our subconscious through it’s interviews with really inspiring guests. My favourite so far has been Ep.7 with Maggie Harrison from Puakai.
On Being - I love this podcast, the range of guests is great and it covers really powerful topics effecting our current society.
The School of Greatness with Lewis Howes   - During some of these episodes I've had to stop to grab a notebook and write down bits of wisdom! The episode with the poet Rupi Kaur is definitely one to download. 
Rising Women Leaders    - Some beautiful, insightful interviews with some incredible women from all walks of life
Ladies who Lead -Another inspirational one for the ladies. I recommend episode 69 ' The wisdom of our feminine cycles' - such important knowledge for us to discover! 

photo source - astrostyle.com

What are your favourite podcasts? We'd love to hear your recommendations below! 

Plantbased Meal Inspiration for #Veganuary

Over 50,000 people have signed up for Veganuary this year - a UK campaign that's encouraging people to go vegan for one month. That's an incredible amount of people! 

We realise that many people struggle with the idea of totally giving up meat and dairy. It can feel like an enormous change, and I think there's this huge misconception that vegans only eat salads & so called 'rabbit food'. It might seem overwhelming making the leap, but it's an amazing thing to do for the environment and your health... we promise there are so many incredible meals and treats that you can enjoy! Eating plantbased should never have to feel like you're depriving yourself of something... in fact, it's the complete opposite if you choose to nourish your body with vibrant, delicious foods. 

Vegan Oatmeal (Plantbased meal ideas for veganuary)

We've compiled this list of meal ideas, our favourite sites & resources to help anyone who needs some extra inspiration! Even if you're not ready to try a whole month fully plant-based, we encourage you to get informed & even just try swapping a couple of meals a week for something vegan. As we realise a lot of people are short for time & looking for easy ideas - we've tried to keep things simple & include affordable, easy-to-make recipes. 

Vegan porridge (vegan meal ideas)

Breakfast Ideas

Our go-to breakfast this time of year is a simple, delicious porridge. It's really affordable, healthy & quick to make on busy mornings! Try swapping cow milk for a plant-based alternative. We love using Oat Milk (Provitamel & Oatly do great ones with simple ingredients), but there are a ton of nut mylks on the market (Rude Health are a great brand with no added nasties). For extra protein & vitamins, try adding a spoon of nut butter, coconut oil or chia seeds to your oats. This will make it more filling, more nourishing & tasty! 

For something extra delicious, try our Banana Oat Pancakes

Our Chickpea Frittata is a great savoury option too. You can make the batter the night before, & prepare it in the morning. This is a really nice option for lunch too!

Chickpea Frittata (Vegan omelette)

Lunch & Dinner Ideas 

As we mentioned earlier, meal times don't have to mean plain salad. Think colourful meals with lots of vegetables, beans & different spices to add flavour. Here are some of our favourites:

Homemade Falafel Burgers - we make a big batch of these and store them in the freezer! 

Sprouted Chickpea Falafel

Quinoa Tabbouleh with Butternut Squash Wedges 
Easy to prepare & so tasty for lunch or dinner. Make a big batch and store in the fridge for throughout the week. The quinoa can be replaced with spelt couscous, millet, rice or buckwheat!

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad Vegan

Sweet Potato with Tamarind & Coconut
 This is one of our favourite recipes on the blog. Such a tasty, filling dish inspired by our time in India. 

Sweet Potato with Tamarind and Coconut

Some more ideas:

Three Pulse Stew with Sumac & Thyme
This is a really rich, satisfying option with so many great flavours! You could serve with with rice or pasta, or eat on its own
Creamy Coconut Curry
Yellow Dal with Curry Leaves
Roasted Celeriac with Lentils & Tahini

Sweet Treats & Baking

Going vegan doesn't mean saying goodbye to tasty treats & chocolate! There are so many healthy alternatives, which won't make you feel rubbish & leave you feeling unsatisfied  

Quick and Easy flapjacks vegan
Gingerbread Oat biscuits vegan
Nourishing Banoffee Pie Vegan


Get Informed

If you're looking for some reasons on why to go Vegan or for some motivation to keep going, we really recommend the following documentaries: 
Cowspiracy - this is such an interesting & inspiring environmental documentary, exploring how the meat/dairy industry is one of the most destructive industries facing the planet. It's really well made, informative, on Netflix & Leonardo Dicaprio is the Exec Producer. 
Food Inc - also on Netflix & Youtube, this is a great documentary looking at health impacts of consuming so much meat/dairy. 

What are some of your favourite vegan meals or food blogs? Are you joining in for veganuary?

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