Tag Archives: Ask Grettie

ASK GRETTIE – Stumped By Tempeh

My latest Ask Grettie column on Chic Vegan.

I just tried tempeh for the first time at a restaurant today and really liked it, but I am not sure how to prepare it on my own.  Do you have any tips, or recipe suggestions for preparing tempeh?


Hi Monica!

I am glad to hear that you like tempeh.  Tempeh is a wonderful source of protein and is further beneficial due to the fact that it is fermented.  In addition, cooking with tempeh is a great way to add protein to your meals without buying processed meat substitutes.  As with anything in life, moderation is key since tempeh can be high in fat.

I understand that tempeh can be a bit intimidating to prepare, but once you cook with it a few times you will realize that it is actually very easy to work with.  Tempeh can be prepared using the same methods that are used to cook meat (barbecuing, baking, broiling, stir-frying) .  One of my favorite ways to use tempeh is as a ground beef substitute.  Sarah Matheny of “Peas and Thank You” likes to make ground meat substitutes with tempeh by grating it.  You simply take the block of tempeh and grate it on your cheese grater then add it to your recipe.  Alternatively you can crumble a block of tofu with your fingers or pulse it in your food processor and garner the same results.

TIP – Some people find tempeh to be slightly bitter.  If you steam the tempeh for 20 minutes, the bitterness disappears.

Recipe Ideas

  • Peas and Thank You is a blog with a lot of recipes that include tempeh and it is a great place to start.  Sarah just came out with her first book, Peas and Thank You – Simple Meatless Meals the Whole Family Will Love and it is a worthwhile purchase (For my review of the book click here).
  • Vegetarian Times is also a great resource for tempeh recipes and they have a great recipe search function on their site that I am sure you will find helpful.  Their recipe for tempeh bacon has a four star rating.

Don’t be afraid to experiment.  Cooking is an art form and can be a lot of fun to play around with.  Once you make a few recipes containing tempeh you will have the confidence to whip-up meals containing tempeh without even following a recipe.  Let me know if you come across some winning recipes along the way since I am always looking for recommendations as well.

Here’s to health!


**Do you have a questions for Grettie? She is here to answer any of your health and nutrition related questions! Email her at askgrettie@chicvegan.com .**

Image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/fotoosvanrobin/with/5455578241/


Filed under Chic Vegan Column, Education, Food Substitutions, General Vegan, Protein, Vegan, Vegetarian

ASK GRETTIE – High Speed Blender vs. Juicer

I thought I would share with you one of my Chic Vegan “Ask Grettie” columns…

So, after catching my second sore throat/cold/whatever in a month I am starting to think that I need to add something to my diet and am ready to take the plunge and start juicing.  I did a bit of research and found two options, a juicer or a Vitamix.  A friend of mine really is pushing the Vitamix for two reasons:  you keep the fiber and you can add things that you can’t really juice like kale, etc. and get more out of it.  Thoughts?


Hi Alison,

I am so sorry to hear that you have been sick so much, but I applaud you for wanting to take steps to strengthen your immune system through nutrition.

I see tremendous value in both juicers and high speed blenders.  Both products serve different needs, though both are great tools for you to use to boost your immune system.

It is true that with a Vitamix you retain the fiber and that is very beneficial for the digestive tract.  I use my Vitamix every single day of the week to make green smoothies.  A high speed blender makes it so easy to add veggies to a smoothie while pulverizing them into a smooth drink.  My Vitamix is one of my favorite kitchen gadgets.  It does need to be said that a high speed blender can be used to make juice, albeit with a bit more work.  To make juice with a high speed blender, you would essentially make a smoothie and then strain it through a nut milk bag.  A Vitamix is very diverse and can be used to make everything from soups to dressings and raw desserts (ice cream, cheesecake, etc.).

Juicing is a wonderful way to support the immune system since juicers strip the fiber from the plant resulting in a tall glass of nutrients.  Since there is no fiber in the juice, the nutrients are immediately available and do not require much digestion.

With regards to kale and juicing, I add kale to my juicer all the time!  Juicers usually have at least two speeds and one of them is optimum for juicing kale and other leafy greens (Read the insert that comes with your juicer for specific instructions).  When I make a kale salad I strip the kale from the stem and keep the kale stems in the fridge to use in my juice the next day.  I also keep the broccoli hearts to do the same (if I am too lazy to peel them and use them in my cooking).

It is a tough decision whether to go with a high speed blender or a juicer, but I do see real value in both.  Since your immediate goal is to strengthen your immune system, I would suggest that the juicer is the way to go initially because of the maximum nutrient load you will get from veggie juice.  Juicers are also available within a wide price range.  Costco usually carries a decent juicer at a very reasonable price.  High speed blenders tend to be on the expensive side, but also available at Costco on occasion.  Either way you won’t go wrong.

Here’s to health!



Filed under Alkaline, Chic Vegan Column, Detox, Education, Immune System, Vegan, Vegetarian

ASK GRETTIE – Digesting the Vegan Diet


Here is my latest Ask Grettie column for Chic Vegan.

Does the stomach ever get accustomed to eating a plant-based diet and no longer have GI distress? I am afraid of getting bloated and windy (gassy). I have IBS. Thanks!


Hi Dolores!

I am sorry to hear that you have IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) and have been experiencing intestinal irritation.  Yes, I can assure you that the stomach does in fact adjust very nicely to eating a vegan diet.  As with many things in life, one has to give themselves time to adjust to this new way of life.  For example, I wouldn’t recommend that a person who is not accustomed to eating vegetables and legumes start eating 2 cups of beans in one sitting.

I also recommend digestive enzymes.  Raw food contains many enzymes on its own which are highly beneficial.  However, most people primarily consume cooked food and the enzymes are destroyed during the cooking process.  As a result the pancreas needs to secrete digestive enzymes to assist in the breakdown of our food.  When our pancreas becomes over-taxed, over time it is not able to secrete as many digestive enzymes.

“Eighty percent of our body’s energy is expended by the digestive process. If you are run down, under stress, living in a very hot or very cold climate, pregnant or a frequent traveler, then enormous quantities of extra enzymes are required by your body. Because our entire system functions through enzymatic action, we must supplement our enzymes. Aging deprives us of our ability to produce necessary enzymes. The medical profession tells us that all disease is due to a lack or imbalance of enzymes. Our very lives are dependent upon them!”

– Dr. DicQie Fuller, The Healing Power of Enzymes

We can assist our bodies by eating as many raw foods as possible and by taking digestive enzymes.  I personally take digestive enzymes.  I have had great results with Life Extension’s Enhanced Super Digestive Enzymes and Hippocrates Health Institute’s LifeGive Digestive Enzymes.

One other solution to keep in mind is the addition of probiotics into your daily regimen.  Read a past Ask Grettie column about probiotics.

If the above solutions do not solve your GI issues, you may have a food intolerance or allergy which may be causing some of the uncomfortable inflammation in your digestive tract.  Keep a food log and see if you notice any patterns with regards to when you experience your GI issues and whether it is related to the consumption of certain foods.  A great way to determine the offending food is to put yourself on an elimination diet.  Basically you remove possible food triggers for a week and then slowly add them back one at a time to see if your symptoms return.  If the symptoms return after adding back a particular food, then you have found your culprit (some people have more than one).  I used an elimination diet to determine my gluten intolerance.

According to Dr. McDougall, the six leading causes of food allergies are dairy, eggs, chocolate, nuts, shellfish, and fish.  Becoming vegan will automatically remove four of the six most common food allergens from your diet…yet another reason to praise vegan diets!  If nuts and chocolate are not your triggers, then it is time to move on to the elimination of the following potential allergens from the vegetable kingdom, wheat (and/or gluten in general), corn, citrus fruits, tomatoes, and strawberries.

Please keep in touch and let me know if the above recommendations help solve your GI distress.

Here’s to health!


**Do you have a questions for Grettie? She is here to answer any of your health and nutrition related questions! Email her at askgrettie@chicvegan.com .**

Image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/wakingphotolife/


Filed under Chic Vegan Column, Education, General Vegan, Gut Health, Vegan, Vegetarian

ASK GRETTIE – Natural Remedies for Ulcers

One of my Chic Vegan columns…

Dear Grettie-

I have an ulcer.  What can I do naturally to help it heal and what can I do in the future to avoid its return?


I am sorry to hear that you have been suffering with an ulcer as I hear they can be extremely painful!  Unfortunately you are not alone as it is estimated that 1 in 10 people will succumb to this fate during their lifetime [1].  As I mentioned, ulcers can be extremely painful since they are basically open wounds in your esophagus, stomach, or intestine.

My research indicates that there are definitely actions you can take to help heal your ulcer and prevent them in the future.  I do want to mention that it is very important you be diagnosed by a doctor and consult your doctor while designing your treatment plan.  The advice below should not be considered medical advice as I am most definitely not a doctor.

Ulcers can also be very serious business.  Ulcers resulting in bloody vomit (especially if it resembles coffee grounds) or stool (bloody or black) are cause for immediate medical attention.


The general belief used to be that ulcers were caused by stress and eating spicy foods.  While those behaviors can definitely exacerbate an ulcer, it is now widely believed that the main culprit in the formation of ulcers is a bacterial infection from Helicobacter pylori (otherwise known as H. pylori).  H. pylori is common and affects “1 in 5 people under the age of 30 and about half of the population older than 60 [2].”  The theory is that somehow (possible causes listed below), the mucosal lining of the stomach and small intestine becomes compromised and at that point the H. pylori is able to invade.

The second most common cause of ulcers is believed to be the long-term use of anti-inflammatory drugs (Advil, Aleve, Motrin) [3].

Contributing factors to the deterioration of the mucosal lining can be:

  • Smoking – Nicotine will increase the amount of acid in the stomach
  • Food Allergies – There is some research indicating that food allergies (which often result in a high amount of irritation) can be responsible for ulcer formation [4]
  • Alcohol consumption – irritates the lining of the stomach
  • Coffee, tea, and carbonated beverage consumption – also irritates the stomach and increases stomach acid
  • Vitamin K deficiency – Vitamin K is a key nutrient connected with blood clotting
  • Radiation
  • Burns


According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, you should eliminate the contributing factors listed above and follow these nutritional tips:

  • Eat foods containing flavonoids – like apples, celery, cranberries (including cranberry juice), onions, garlic, and tea may inhibit the growth of H. pylori.
  • Eat antioxidant foods –  including fruits (such as blueberries, cherries, and tomatoes), and vegetables (such as squash and bell peppers).
  • Eat foods high in B-vitamins and calcium – such as almonds, beans, whole grains (if no allergy), dark leafy greens (such as spinach and kale), and sea vegetables.
  • Avoid refined foods – such as white breads, pastas, and sugar.
  • Eat fewer red meats (YEAH TO THE VEGANS!) and eat tofu (soy, if no allergy) or beans for protein.
  • Use healthy oils –  such as olive oil or vegetable oil.
  • Reduce or eliminate trans-fatty acids – found in commercially baked goods such as cookies, crackers, cakes, French fries, onion rings, donuts, processed foods, and margarine.
  • Drink 6 – 8 glasses of filtered water daily.
  • Exercise at least 30 minutes daily, 5 days a week.


If you are already suffering from an ulcer make sure you follow the advice above.  In addition, several references agree that the following can be quite helpful in the healing process:

  • Fresh cabbage juice – up to 1 liter per day (divided throughout the day).  Dr. Garnett Cheney from Stanford University’s School of Medicine performed several studies resulting in the documentation that “the majority of the patients experienced complete healing in as little as seven days [5].”
  • Bananas – Eating bananas 3 times a day with almond milk does a fantastic job of neutralizing stomach acid and coating the stomach lining.
  • Lime – aids digestion
  • Mastic gum – is useful for its antimicrobial benefits and has been used in the Mediterranean for Middle East for thousands of years.  Research has shown mastic gum to be effective against 7 strains of H. pylori bacteria [6].  Take 1,000 to 2,000 mg daily in divided dosages.
  • Apple cider vinegar – Naturally very high in vitamin K, apple cider vinegar helps blood clot and is also a natural antiseptic.  Add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to a glass of water and drink it as maintenance.  When in an acute episode, add up to a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to water and drink in order to help neutralize stomach acid.  Drink until you feel the pain subside.
  • Probiotic supplement (click here to see a past Ask Grettie post about probiotics).
  • Vitamin C, 500 – 1,000 mg 1 – 3 times daily – Vitamin C may be helpful in treating bleeding stomach ulcers caused by aspirin use.
  • Eat alkalizing foods – click here for a Veggie Grettie post about the importance of an alkaline diet.
  • DGL-licorice standardized extract – 250 to 500 mg 3 times daily, chewed either 1 hour before or 2 hours after meals — may help protect against stomach damage from NSAIDs. Glycyrrhizin is a chemical found in licorice that causes side effects and drug interactions. DGL is deglycyrrhizinated licorice, or licorice with the glycyrrhizin removed.
  • Cranberry – 400 mg twice daily.  Some preliminary research suggests cranberry may inhibit H. pylori growth in the stomach.
  • Peppermint standardized, enteric coated tablet – 1 tablet 2 – 3 times daily — may help relieve symptoms of peptic ulcer. Each tablet contains 0.2 ml peppermint oil. Be sure to use the enteric coated form to avoid heartburn.
images courtesy of Peter Gerdes and diagnostics.tumblr.com

**Do you have a questions for Grettie? She is here to answer any of your health and nutrition related questions! Email her ataskgrettie@chicvegan.com .**

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Filed under Chic Vegan Column

ASK GRETTIE – Vegans and Protein


My latest Chic Vegan column…

How much protein does a vegan person need daily?  Is animal protein superior to plant-based protein? 

~ Gail

This is definitely the question I get asked most.

When eating a varied whole-food plant-based diet that is adequate in calories it is actually difficult to become protein deficient (i.e. spinach is 57% protein while hamburger is 37%).  According to Dr. Pam Popper,

“[We] are suffering from excess, not deficiency.  [Americans] are eating too much fat, too much protein, and too many calories.”

So many people are so concerned about protein deficiency.  While protein is a very important macronutrient, so are carbohydrates, and you never hear anyone expressing a concern about carbohydrate deficiency.  Without the appropriate amount of carbohydrates our brains do not function well and that should be a big concern!

There is an elemental difference between animal-based and plant-based protein.  Since the amino acid structure of animal-based protein most closely mimics that of our own bodily protein, it is more available for our body to utilize immediately…But that does NOT mean that it is a more superior form of protein for our bodies to use.  We must remember that animal-based protein is acidifying and results in our bodies need to buffer that acid by removing it from our body’s alkaline stores (most notably calcium from the bones).  I don’t know about you, but I want to keep as much calcium IN my bones as possible.

While plant-based protein does not generally provide all 9 essential amino acids (there are some exceptions; soy, quinoa, spinach), it is not acid producing which is a major benefit.  The essential amino acid issue so many people have harped about for years is insanely easy to rectify.  It was once thought that vegetarians and vegans needed to eat complementary protein foods at each meal to result in a complete amino acid profile, but it is now known that it is not necessary to do so. The Vegetarian Resource Group states,

“We recommend eating a variety of unrefined grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, and vegetables throughout the day, so that if one food is low in a particular essential amino acid, another food will make up this deficit 8,9.”

Current protein recommendations for vegetarians vary from 0.6-1.0 grams of protein per kg of body weight.  To determine your protein needs, divide your weight in pounds by 2.2 (this will give you your weight in kilograms).  Take that number and multiply it by the protein recommendation.  Let’s use a 150 pound man as an example:

150lbs. / 2.2 = 68kg (rounded down for ease)

68kg x 0.6 = 41 grams of protein

68kg x 1.0 = 68 grams of protein

The protein recommendations for a vegetarian male range between 41 to 68 grams of protein per day.  When you look at the protein content of many vegetarian foods (click here to do so), it becomes clear that consuming adequate protein is not a problem.  Vegan protein powders alone can provide up to 24 grams of protein per scoop.

Image courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/he-boden/


Filed under Chic Vegan Column, Education, Protein

ASK GRETTIE – Eliminating Cheese From Your Diet

This is my latest column for Chic Vegan.


I am in need of your expertise. I am considering taking dairy out of my kid’s diet to look more like me & my husband’s diet, but I am finding the right cheese replacement to be the hardest part. They really like the soy cheese, but I don’t want them to have that much soy. They also like the rice and/or almond cheese but they both contain casein, which is in dairy and not exactly healthy for you! All the ones at Whole Foods that say Vegan have soy and all the Rice Cheese have casein. Can’t decide which is worse…Help…any suggestions? Do you make nut cheeses for your kids?


I love to hear that parents are considering taking dairy out of their children’s diet.  My children do not consume dairy and are thriving!  That being said, it can be a tough battle to remove something from a child’s diet if they really have a fondness for it.  I removed dairy from my children’s diet about 3 years ago and some items were harder to remove than others.  There was some kicking and screaming with regards to the removal of string cheese.  The milk was easier to remove because I slowly changed their milk without them even realizing it.  My method involved slowly diluting their milk with almond milk.  On day one I replaced about 1/6th of their milk with almond milk and the next week it went to ¼ of their milk, the next week 1/3, then ½, ¾, until it was all almond milk.  I personally think that the milk transition would have been even easier if at the time I had access to So Delicious’s Unsweetened Coconut Milk.

Now, onto cheese.  People have a true addiction to cheese.  In PCRM’s (Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine) research studies, “When we take people off meat, dairy products, and other unhealthy fare, we often find that the desire for cheese, in particular, lingers on much more strongly than for other foods. While they might like ice cream or yogurt, they describe their feelings for cheese as a deep-seated craving.” It has been found that cow’s milk and human milk both have trace amounts of morphine in them.  It is theorized that this helps babies bond with their mothers when breast feeding. According toVegSource.com“[C]ows actually produce it within their bodies, just as poppies do. Traces of morphine, along with codeine and other opiates, are apparently produced in cows’ livers and can end up in their milk.  Cow’s milk-or the milk of any other species, for that matter-contains a protein, called casein, that breaks apart during digestion to release a whole host of opiates, called casomorphins. A cup of cow’s milk contains about six grams of casein. Skim milk contains a bit more, and casein is concentrated in the production of cheese.”

As long as you understand that the removal of cheese will be difficult and you make the decision to stay the course, you will survive the transition and be glad you stuck it out.  In my opinion, there is no direct replacement for dairy cheese in the vegan world.  As for substitutes, different vegan cheeses serve different purposes.  You are right that a lot of the vegan cheese substitutes out there do contain casein as well as soy.  Perhaps these cheese substitutes can help your children with their transition away from dairy cheese.  One thing is for certain, they are more healthful than dairy cheese.  Daiya has been a great substitute for me.  I do not use it all the time due to its high fat content, but it makes wonderful grilled “cheese” sandwiches and macaroni and cheese (click here for my recipe).  I do make nut cheeses on occasion and find that they work really well in my lasagna recipes or as ricotta substitutes.  If I make the nut cheese on its own (i.e. to eat with crackers), I find that I like it more than my children do, but my nephew loved it the last time he tried it.  Mostly I have made peace with the fact that I don’t NEED a replacement for cheese.  For example, pizza tastes great without cheese as does garlic bread and pesto can be made with nutritional yeast.  I think we all need to change the way we think about cheese.

Congratulations on making the decision to improve your children’s health.


**Do you have a questions for Grettie? She is here to answer any of your health and nutrition related questions! Email her ataskgrettie@chicvegan.com .**


Filed under Chic Vegan Column, Children, Education, Food Substitutions, General Vegan, Research, Vegan, Vegetarian

ASK GRETTIE – Recommended Reading

My latest Chic Vegan ASK GRETTIE column

I was wondering if you have read The Beauty Detox Solution by Kimberly Snyder?  I would love to hear your thoughts on some of the main principles throughout the book – Such as Food Pairing, eating Light to Heavy, and some of the Ongoing Cleansing methods: Probiotic & Enzyme Salad (raw sauerkraut), Probiotic, Enzyme and Magnesium – Oxygen supplements.  I personally loved the book but I can see how it can be overwhelming for some. I have been vegetarian for 3 years and am starting to incorporate some of Kimberly’s diet principles (slowly) to improve my health further.


Hi Lauren!

I haven’t had a chance to read Kimberly’s book yet, but I am very familiar with her and have been following her via her blog for a long time.  I like what Kimberly has to say in general, so I am fairly sure that I will agree with her general message.  I know Kimberly has studied at the Ann Wigmore Institute in Puerto Rico multiple times and is very knowledgeable.  I am really excited for her that her book is enjoying such success and I am looking forward to reading it myself.

While we are on the subject of books, I would like to share with you some books that I highly recommend and that are permanent fixtures on my bookshelf. 

The China Study by T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M. Campbell is so heavily supported by science.  Many times I have seen people read this book and make the switch to a vegan diet.  The science in this book makes people GET it and understand the physical damage that meat does to the human body.

Thrive by Brendan Brazier is such an inspirational book for vegan athletes.  Brendan is a world class vegan triathlete and the founder of Vega.  I am personally very into fitness and really like how this book walks the reader through the mechanics of using a vegan diet to fuel their fitness pursuits.  Brendan spells out what types of food to eat pre and post workout as well as throughout the day.  It is nice that we are able to benefit from Brendan’s years of trial and error and not have to go through that ourselves. 

Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr is so reader and user friendly.  This book covers so many subjects from pH to juicing to bathroom issues!  Crazy Sexy Diet has guest appearances throughout the book from experts in the field who  are really good at explaining the subject matter in an easy to understand and concise manner.


Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease by Caldwell B Esselstyn is a must read for everyone, especially anyone with a history of heart disease in their family or experiencing it now.  During my training we had a guest lecture by Dr. Esselstyn that blew my mind.  I seriously did not want this lecture to end because it was so fascinating and eye-opening.  During the lecture I kept thinking, “Why doesn’t everyone know this?  Why don’t they teach this information to our children?”  Heart disease is so avoidable.  This book takes that lecture and expands on it.

These four books are staples for me.  As I said, these books are permanent fixtures in my home.  I own two copies of most of them because I am constantly loaning them out to people in an effort to spread their messages. I constantly refer back to these books and recommend them to others, each for their own special reasons.

Knowledge is power!

– Grettie

Images courtesy of ChicVegan.com


Filed under Books, Chic Vegan Column, Vegan, Vegetarian

ASK GRETTIE – All About Probiotics

This is my most recent Ask Grettie Column for Chic Vegan…

I have been hearing so much about probiotics lately.  I understand their value, but am wanting some more information.  How do I choose a good probiotic?  So many of them have soy in them and I generally try to avoid soy.  Your thoughts?

~ Sirica

Hi Sirica!

Probiotics are very beneficial.  I personally take them multiple times a day and give them to my family as well.  Our gut is a large part of our immune system and according to Brenda Watson, “[T]he gut is the root and core of our total general well being.  It’s the place where food is broken down into the building blocks of our cells.  It’s the first line of defense against invading pathogens and infectious diseases.” Our bodies are filled with bacteria…some good, some bad.  With probiotics we can tip the scales in our favor by introducing large amount of GOOD bacteria that will overrun the bad.

There are many different ways to ingest probiotics:

1.  Fermented foods

The existence of fermented foods predates recorded history.  So many cultures utilize fermented foods in their diets such as sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh, and yogurt (I favor the coconut milk variety).  Eating fermented foods is a great way to obtain beneficial bacteria.

2.  Probiotic drinks

Good Belly and KeVitaare two companies that have burst onto the probiotic scene.  My one criticism of Good Belly is that they add sugar to their drinks.  KeVita on the other hand does not since it’s drinks are sweetened with organic stevia.

3.  Probiotic capsules or powders

I recently attended the Natural Products Expo West and was able to talk to many probiotic manufacturers.  I learned so much from them.  Many of the brands that have soy in their products actually were able to win me over by explaining that their probiotics are “grown” on fermented soy and do not use.  I am a person who tries to limit the soy in my diet, but I do see the benefits of including fermented soy in one’s diet and I do so about once a week.

Here is what New Chapter has to say about the soy issue:

Although true soy allergies are very rare, many people have difficulty digesting unfermented soy. Whole, unprocessed soy contains nutrient blocking factors, such as phytate, which interfere with its potential benefits. Fermented soy, on the other hand, agrees with almost everyone, even people with soy sensitivities. Probiosis of soy also changes isoflavones from inert forms into their activated aglycone genestein, dadzein, and glycitein forms.

Yes. New Chapter’s Probiotics deliver non-GMO organic soy in its fermented whole-food form, similar to miso, tempeh and natto. Unlike unfermented soy or isolated soy components, these traditional soy foods have been consumed for thousands of years and are associated with the health and longevity of traditional Asian cultures.  Many research studies suggest that regular consumption of fermented soy is associated with numerous health benefits, including the maintenance of normal cell growth in breast tissue.*

Yes. A recent peer-reviewed scientific review of fourteen clinical trials examining the effects of soy on the thyroid concluded that in the absence of an iodine deficiency, there is little evidence that soy foods or soy isoflavones adversely affect thyroid function and that “hypothyroid individuals need not avoid soy foods.” In fact, some studies suggest that soy may actually promote normal thyroid cell growth. To help ensure healthy thyroid function, our Probiotic Nutrients™ contain a whole-food form of iodine.

I have had a lot of exposure to probiotic capsules and powders and recommend the following (each of which I have tried):

Renew Life Ultimate Flora, New Chapter Probiotic All-Flora, Ortho Molecular Ortho Biotic, ThreeLac (great for candida issues), and probiotics by Klaire Labs.

Your body may go through an adjustment period when beginning probiotics which can range anywhere from a little gas to more frequent bowel movements.  If you have a lot of symptoms, scale back and take less until your body adjusts.  I recommend starting slowly and building-up from there.  For example, if a bottle states that the dose is 2 capsules, use 1 capsule for a few weeks and then add in the second capsule.

**Do you have a questions for Grettie? She is here to answer any of your health and nutrition related questions! Email her at askgrettie@chicvegan.com .**


Filed under Chic Vegan Column, Education, Gut Health, Published Work, Vegan, Vegetarian

ASK GRETTIE – How Healthy Is Gardein?

This is my latest column for Chic Vegan

I was recently contacted with a question about Gardein meat substitutes.  The reader (who is currently a meat eater, but trying to eat less) was out at a restaurant called the Yard House and saw that they offered vegetarian meals prepared with Gardein.  This experience prompted her to ask me what my opinion was about Gardein and whether or not it was a better choice nutritionally than eating meat.

Overall I am not a big fan on meat substitutes.  Processed food is processed food whether it is animal based or vegan.  As with most processed foods, Gardein tends to be very high in sodium and can do a number on your blood pressure.

I do see the value of vegan meat substitutes in that I see them as stepping stones for those who can’t envision a life without meat (or as an occasional “treat” for those who are already vegans).  Transitioning to a vegan diet can be difficult for many people who are used to eating the texture of meat at nearly every meal.  In this instance I give the reader the green light to try the Gardein meal as a means to see that it is very possible to eat a vegetarian meal and not miss the meat!

According to the Gardein website, their meat substitutes are made from soy, wheat and pea proteins, vegetables and ancient grains (quinoa, amaranth, millet and kamut®).  For someone who wants to introduce vegetarian meals into their menu plan, some good points about Gardein are that the product is cholesterol free as well as trans and saturated fat free, which is something that meat can never claim to be.  Gardein also provides all of the essential amino acids.

I am glad to know that Gardein tries to use mostly non-gmo (genetically modified) foods.  There have been some studies that indicate gmo soybeans are potentially detrimental to our health.  When asked the question about gmo soybeans, Gardein states, “[W]e only use ‘identity-preserved’ soy protein (which basically means, it helps to ensure us that our soy protein is not genetically modified).”

I do want to re-emphasize that overall I am not a big fan of meat substitutes.  Personally I would love it if each and every one of you strove towards a “whole foods plant based diet.”  Your body will thank you!

**Do you have a questions for Grettie? She is here to answer any of your health and nutrition related questions! Email her at askgrettie@chicvegan.com .**


Filed under Chic Vegan Column, Education, General Vegan, Protein, Vegan, Vegetarian

ASK GRETTIE – Falling Off the Wagon

Here is my latest Ask Grettie from Chic Vegan

I am VERY unhealthy, overweight, tired all the time and depressed about it. I really enjoyed the Kind Life Diet Book and have bought several others on veganism and on being a vegetarian. I have been trying for several months to convert and keep “falling off the wagon”. My cholesterol and trigs. are over the top. If you can offer any advice about staying true to this lifestyle change I would appreciate it. I WANT to change to be healthy and to life a long life. Thanks for your website I can’t wait to try out some new recipes.


You need to be kind to yourself and not beat yourself-up for “falling off the wagon.” Transitioning to a whole new way of eating IS hard and will require some time. I did not make the switch overnight; rather it was a more gradual shift.

That being said, if you are experiencing health problems, it is very important that you do make the switch to a vegan lifestyle and make your health top priority. If your cholesterol is through the roof it is due to the animal based foods you are consuming and moving away from those foods will be tremendously helpful to you.

Instead of focusing on what you can’t have, I’d like you to add something to your diet for the next week. Eat one pound of raw vegetables a day. It’s that simple. Take some time to weigh and then fill some containers with one pound of raw vegetables (any combination of veggies that you like). Keep that container near you and snack on those veggies when the hunger pangs strike. This is a trick I learned from Dr. Joel Fuhrman in his Eat For Health book series. Those veggies are going to help you stay full.

Contact me in a week and we will add in another trick to help you on your path to a plant based diet.

Here’s to health!


Do you have a questions for Grettie? She is here to answer any of your health and nutrition related questions! Email her at askgrettie@chicvegan.com .

Image Courtesy of http://www.flickr.com/photos/27999126@N05/


Filed under Chic Vegan Column, Education, General Vegan, Vegan, Vegetarian