Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and for those of you who are partaking in this romantic holiday, we’ve put together a roundup of recipes to treat your loved one, vegan style! Sometimes the best strategy for Valentine’s Day is simply staying in for a mellow, cosy evening and cooking up a delicious feast for two. If you and your sweetheart are committed to the vegan lifestyle, you might be wondering how to treat each other this Valentine’s Day without all the meat and dairy that is usually involved. Get inspired with these delightfully delicious vegan Valentine’s Day recipes…
Spaghetti And Non-meat Balls
A delicious vegan twist on the classic Italian pasta dish, made with love and our Asian spiced burgers. This no-nonsense dish will have you acting out Lady and the Tramp in no time!
Chicken Style Shiitake Mushroom Risotto
Although risotto is one of the simplest meals you could whip up, there is something undeniably fancy about it. Maybe it’s the fact that you’re cooking with wine or the patience that’s involved with constantly stirring the rice. Whatever the reason, our chicken-style shiitake mushroom risotto is sure to wow your special someone.
Vegetable Terrine With Polony
This delicious vegetable terrine is made with our polony slicing sausage and a decadent cashew and coconut cream purée. This recipe requires a little extra effort, but it’s worth it if you want to treat your sweetheart.
Cape Malay Coconut Curry Served With Charred Apricots
Spice things up a bit with our Cape Malay coconut curry, featuring our chicken-style strips served with charred apricots.
Vegan Schnitzels With Creamy Dill Sauce And Dairy-free Potato Salad
This recipe is fancy enough to be a treat, but it will also be appreciated by couples who are trying to eat healthier in the new year. This tasty dish is made with our crispy golden crumbed schnitzels drenched in a creamy dill sauce, served with a tangy German-inspired potato salad made with stock and vinegar.
Vegan Corn Chowder With Prawn-style Pieces
This recipe is quick and easy, so you can spend more time with the one you love this Valentine’s Day. Make some corny jokes and enjoy this soothing dairy-free chunky corn and potato soup topped with our crispy prawn-style pieces.
Meat Free Alfredo Pasta
Pasta dishes have a certain sensuousness to them, and this indulgent, creamy meat-free alfredo pasta cries out for a cosy and lovey-dovey night in. The best part is that if you’re both eating garlic, then you won’t have to worry about the dreaded “garlic breath” after your meal.
Who doesn’t love pizza for a cosy night in? Tuck your teeth into this delicious pizza made using our polony slicing sausage. You could even cut these into hearts using cookie cutters to show your sweetheart just how much you love them.
Want to get more recipes? Head over to our cookbook page where there are dozens of free creative cookbooks for you to download.
A new year is here with its promise of a fresh start, which usually inspires us to try something new or set New Year’s resolutions. We are very proud partners of Veganuary and believe that going vegan for January is the best and easiest way you can contribute to improving your health, the health of the environment, reducing climate change, and helping to save the lives of animals. If you’re not quite convinced yet, here are 8 reasons to try going vegan this January:
1. A Vegan Diet Is Better for Your Heart
A vegan diet has been proven to lower your risk for heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Both of these conditions are amongst the most common causes of death in the Western world, and they are completely preventable! But beyond prevention, a plant-based diet is the only treatment that has been scientifically proven to reverse heart disease. Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn has been able to reverse even very bad cases of cardiovascular disease by feeding his patients a low-fat vegan diet and has saved countless lives. (1) Even major health organizations, including the American Diabetes Association, have acknowledged that animal products rich in saturated fat and cholesterol are major contributors to both heart disease and diabetes. (2)
2. A Well-balanced Vegan Diet Can Be Very Beneficial To Your Health
More and more major health organizations are now stating that it’s healthy to eat a well-balanced vegan diet (3), and many even recommend a vegan diet over any other. Recent studies have shown that vegans have lower rates of cancer, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, strokes, and even Alzheimer’s. (4)
The World Health Organization has also stated that processed meat is carcinogenic (5), and meat products often contain bacteria, antibiotics, hormones, dioxins, and a host of other toxins that can be dangerous to our health. (6)
3. It’s The Easiest Way To Save The Environment And Stop Climate Change
Animal agriculture has been responsible for between 15-51% of total greenhouse gas emissions. Methane and nitrous oxide gases from the industry are 75x and 296x respectively, more powerful than CO2 in their global warming potential. (7)
On top of that, 76 trillion gallons of water is used in the industry every year, and to put this in perspective, by committing just one day to not eating meat, you save 5530 liters of water, which equates to a 7 min shower every day for 50 days. (8)
The easiest and best way to help reduce your carbon footprint and reduce your water usage is to swop what you put on your dinner plate.
4. It Can Help You Improve Your Fitness
Most people fear a loss of energy or muscle mass when abstaining from animal products, but quite the opposite is true. Meat and dairy are especially hard to digest, which means they use a lot of your energy, often leaving you feeling sluggish and tired. Adopting a vegan diet in no way hinders you from reaching your fitness goals, and may give you a nice boost of added energy and strength.
You don’t even have to watch your protein intake very much, all plant foods contain protein, and it can be of great quality too. The 40-50 grams you need per day can easily be met by eating meat alternatives such as Fry’s, green vegetables, whole grains, legumes, and nuts or seeds. (9)
For a more detailed analysis of this topic, we highly recommend watching The Game Changers, a brilliant new documentary on Netflix about meat, protein and strength.
5. You’ll Get to Try Amazing New Dishes
Have you ever had a buddha bowl? How about a delicious Cape Malay coconut curry served with charred apricots? There are over 20,000 species of edible plants in the world, of which somewhere between 150 and 200 have been domesticated and farmed. You probably haven’t tried even half of them yet! Trying new delicious recipes broadens your horizon, your taste buds, and lets you discover delicious and healthy dishes you wouldn’t have thought of in the beginning. To help you out on your journey to discovery, have a look at our cookbooks for some inspiration.
6. You Don’t Have To Give Up Your Favorite Meals
Almost every meal you can think of can be veganized. The key is finding the right replacements (like Fry’s instead of meat, vegan cheese instead of dairy, soy milk instead of cow’s milk or flaxseeds instead of eggs). You don’t have to cut back on taste at all here; vegan chefs took home the trophy at the 10th Annual Grilled Cheese Invitational with a non-dairy cheese winner, and vegan bakers have dominated the Annual Cupcake Wars twice. Still don’t believe us? Try our tasty vegan traditional burgers with avocado and sundried tomato hummus.
7. Going Vegan Has Never Been Easier
With the help of organizations like Veganuary, going vegan has never been easier! If you pledge to take the Veganuary Challenge, you will receive tips, recipes and advice throughout the month of January. Take the pledge here.
There are so many different plant-based options available, including meat alternatives, dairy alternatives and even vegan eggs! This change in the culinary preferences of consumers is revealing itself through data— the market for non-dairy products is skyrocketing and meat alternative sales are expected to reach $5 Billion by the end of 2020.
8. You Can Help Save Animals
Even though for some people, the ethical argument for veganism isn’t as strong, it can never hurt to be kind. Sparing someone’s life is always the right thing to do, especially if that someone is completely innocent. In recent news, it has been announced that 1 billion animals have died in the Australian Fires. These fires have widely been agreed to be the product of man-made global warming. On top of that, humans kill over 60 billion land animals and 2740 billion fish every year for food. (10) Not only is this completely unnecessary, but it invariably includes cruel practices like dehorning or castration without anaesthetic. Biologists have confirmed what pet lovers have always known: that animals are sentient, they want to live and they feel pain in a very similar way to humans. (11)
Pledge to take the Veganuary challenge here if you’re interested.
One of the more common things we hear from non-veggie friends is “What on Earth do I feed my vegan guests?”.
We think the main issue is the common myth that vegetarians and vegans must just eat salad. I mean, what else would they be able to eat, right? Wrong of course! Almost every meal you can think of can be veganized to suit your veggie friends and surprisingly, there are tons of easy veg-friendly products in the UK. There’s a whole array of vegan dishes you could make that will please everyone at the dinner table, in fact, you could probably make a vegan meal with the items you have in your house right now and don’t even realize it.
If you’re hosting vegan guests for the Christmas holidays, we’ve got you covered:
Many dishes like pasta, stir-fry, wraps, and tacos are easy to customize. You could cook the meal as usual, and just prepare the meat on the side, or allow vegan guests to add their own toppings. Have a look at some of our recipes for some inspiration:
Meat alternatives (like Fry’s) make cooking for vegan guests so much easier, it takes the scary mystery factor out of cooking vegan food, and allows you to make what you’d usually make with ease. Just replace whatever meat you’d usually serve with a vegan replacement. Some great examples include veggie burgers, sausages and mash, veggie roasts, etc. Here are some recipes to help you get started:
If you want to cook for a vegan guest, one of the best ways to do it is to simply ask them for help! Most vegetarians and vegans are used to working some culinary magic now and again and will probably relish the opportunity to share their kitchen discoveries with you.
If you’re hosting a dinner and entertaining a vegan guest, ask them to bring a dish to share. You can even ask them to help you decide on the menu or ask them for adaptations for dishes you’d like to create for your dinner.
It can be tough if you cook food for your guest and they won’t try it or eat it. It’s also hard for guests who might feel rude declining the food you offer. Try to be open-minded about other’s dietary choices. If they don’t want to try a dish because it contains an ingredient they don’t eat, simply move on. There’s probably nothing wrong with your cooking, but everyone is different and has different preferences.
Similarly, if you’re visiting a vegan or vegetarian guest, the safest option is to ask before you bring meat or dairy dishes to the party. Some plant-based eaters are fine with it, while others are uncomfortable and would prefer to keep their home meat-free.
If you’re in a situation where you’ve been offered a dish that doesn’t fit with your dietary choices, simply decline politely. Rarely does Aunt Carol want a lecture on the evils of factory farming, or the impact of animal agriculture on the environment. The best way to avoid making your host feel disheartened is to simply explain, while the food looks delicious, it’s just not an ingredient you eat and follow by letting them know you’re excited to try some of their veggie burgers or the soup they made.
It’s fine to share your beliefs with others, but keep in mind that everyone is on their own journey, and no one wants to be made to feel guilty or ashamed of their meal. Save the lectures for one-on-one conversations and remember kindness is much more effective for persuasion.
If you’re curious about the vegan or vegetarian dishes your guest brings to the party, try it! You’ll be surprised at how delicious vegan food can be. There are also some seriously fantastic vegan desserts out there that will please everyone. Have a look at some of ours:
If you discover a vegan dish you enjoy, ask for the recipe. Let the cook know how much you appreciate them sharing their food and how amazing it was. You just might discover a new item or two to add to your Meat Free Monday (link to https://www.supportmfm.co.za/) repertoire.
One of the great aspects of vegan eating is that almost everyone can eat plant-based foods. Most of the Fry’s range is even Halaal, Kosher and Shuddha approved. There are many great dishes out there, so give it a try. You just might find something you like!
As a family business, all of our products that we make are created with our children and grandchildren in mind. Our current food system is totally unsustainable and if we keep on going at our current rate, there will be nothing left for our future generations to survive on. Indeed, as the Native American proverb goes: “We do not inherit the ocean from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.”
We are driven by our own family’s need for food that has a light impact on the planet and by our own children’s livelihood in the years to come. This is why we started creating meat-free products. It became apparent, however, that it’s not only the forests and the land that are impacted by our food choices, but the oceans as well.
The ocean covers 71% of the earth’s surface, serving as a major component of our ecosystem. It is responsible for every two breaths we take. The ocean produces more oxygen than the entire world’s rainforests. It absorbs almost half of the carbon dioxide. 86% of drinking water comes from the oceans. Our survival is closely linked to the survival of the ocean. Yet it is under threat due to overfishing, ocean dead zones, pollution, species extinction, habitat destruction, climate change.
With scientists confirming that we could see fishless oceans by 2048, we were determined to create a plant-based alternative to fish. Sure, we had already created the Fry’s Battered Prawn-Style Pieces – which, through our customers’ purchasing, resulted in over 3 million prawns from being caught in 2018! But we needed something else. We needed something bigger, better and different, and that would save our oceans and the lives of millions of sea creatures. And we needed something that would nostalgically speak to good ‘ole fashioned fish and slap chips, wrapped in newspaper, that also contained the same amount of omega fatty acids as tuna.
The idea behind creating a fish-style fillet began when my family was at the beach. My youngest son saw fish being caught in the distance. As a young, passionate ocean lover who dreams of becoming a marine biologist and protector of the seas he was deeply saddened at the thought of ocean life being killed; and so asked his grandparents what they could do to help. This sparked the idea to create a product that offered the taste, texture and versatility of a piece of battered fish, the Fry’s Fish-Style Fillet!
What is the state of our oceans?
3/4 of the world’s fisheries are exploited or depleted.
As many as 2.7 trillion animals (fish and by-kill) are pulled from the ocean each year, by fishing methods such as trawling, purse seine, long lines, explosives, and other techniques that are damaging ecosystems.
As many as 40% of fish caught are discarded every year.
1/5 of fish worldwide are incorrectly labeled. This means that seafood labels cannot be trusted.
Animal agriculture is fueling sea life depletion at a rapid rate.
How are land animals negatively affecting our seas?
Pigs, chickens and cows being responsible as the world’s leading oceanic predators. Farmed land animals are the leading causes of sea pollution, species extinction, habitat destruction and ocean dead zones. Our appetite for meat is affecting the state of our waters.
Why is this the case?
Livestock operations on land have resulted in more than 500 nitrogen flooded dead zones in our oceans around the world due to waste runoff.
Pesticides and chemical fertilizers used in the production of feed crops poison waterways.
Animals are sometimes fed fish as part of their diet, further depleting the seas.
Could farmed fish (aquaculture) be the answer?
Farmed fish are unhealthy: They are fed antibiotics, and prone to many bacterial pathogens and diseases that are highly contagious due to the crowded pens in which they live. Their waste and parasites spread to nearby wild fish, plants and the surrounding ecosystem too.
The ocean is still being depleted: 1/3 of all wild fish caught are fed to farm animals and farmed fish.
It is not energy efficient: takes up to 2kgs of fishmeal to produce 0.4kg of farm-raised fish sold in stores.
What then is the solution?
To stop eating fish – there is no such thing as sustainable seafood. We can no longer fish at the scale that we are currently doing, otherwise, we could see fishless oceans by 2048 and we will not be able to survive.
As a society, we all need to reduce our global demand for meat and animal by-products. This means switching your meat with a plant-based alternative (like our burgers, nuggets, sausages and pies), taking part on Meat-Free Mondays or going entirely plant-based!
Tammy is a dreamer, a philanthropist and a person who believes they can change the world.
As the eldest daughter of the Fry Family – three generations of vegetarians and makers of plant-based protein foods, she is a passionate advocate for plant-based nutrition and cruelty-free foods.
She has been at the helm of product marketing at The Fry Family Food Co. and Director of Meat Free Mondays in South Africa and Australia for over a decade. In these roles, she is guided by nutritional expertise, a love of fitness, love of the environment, and an outdoor lifestyle. Enabling others to live a happier and more energetic lifestyle through plant-based nutrition is the cornerstone of her passion.
Our 10 Favourite Plant-Based Fry’s Recipes from 2018
Thanks a melon to all of you for making 2018 such an incredible year of plant-based goodness! We have rounded up our favourite meat-free, dairy-free and egg-free recipes from the year. It may be the end of 2018, but these meals certainly will not go out of style next year.
From the Fry family and team, we wish all of our #FrysFans a healthy, happy and plant-powered holiday season.
This burger pie has all the local, lekker flavours made with our meat-free Traditional Burgers, wrapped in puff pastry, chakalaka sauce and dairy-free cheese! Serve with some chunky potato wedges and salad. What is chakalaka? It is a South African vegetable relish, usually spicy, that is traditionally served with bread, pap, stews, or curries. It’s chaka-lekker!
As a family of three daughters, one of our childhood favourites that our mother loved to make was a homemade creamy mac and cheese in bulk that we could eat for days! We have reimagined this fond recipe with added veggies in a dairy-free cheesy sauce and topped with our meat-free Polony/Slicing Sausage. Have some fun and play with your food by tracing a little caterpillar around the bowl.
Did someone say ice cream tortillas?! This super fun Veggie Nice Tortilla Cone recipe is topped with our Chickpea and Roasted Butternut Balls and Chickpea and Quinoa Falafels, served with smashed avo, beetroot hummus and microgreens. This creative meal will go down perfectly with the kids, at a party, or with anyone who likes to have a bit of fun with their food!
Get your grill face on, because this recipe is on fire! Try out this Korean BBQ Beef-Style Tacos with a Quick Pickled Salad for a flavour sensation! Made with our Thick Cut Chunky Strips and assembled in warm tacos, wilted spinach, pickled salad, spring onion and chilli flakes.
Eat the rainbow with this colorful wrap filled with bright veggies and our Golden Crumbed Schnitzels. Go by the recipe or choose your favourite vegetables to make your very own beautiful plate of food art. And who knows, maybe you’ll find a pot of gold waiting for you at the other end of the table… Go take a look!
Potatoes and schnitzels, anyone? Bake our meat-free Golden Crumbed Schnitzels in the oven, followed by a generous drenching of a creamy dill sauce. Then, serve with a tangy German-inspired potato salad made with gherkins, mustard and chives. You can’t go wrong.
We wish all our #FrysFans a peaceful and healthy year-end. Thanks a melon for an incredible 365 days! 2018 was #lentil! 2019 is going to be another big year for us and we can’t wait to share new products, store listings and more. Keep your eyes peeled! #peas
It’s been three years since The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), the cancer agency of the World Health Organisation (WHO), classified processed red meat as carcinogenic to humans. It caused a ripple effect, resulting in more and more people rethinking their meat consumption.
But time has indeed moved on, and it’s been three years, and one could argue that this topic has perhaps lost its novelty and spark. We believe however this is a discussion that needs to be brought to the (plant-based dinner) table once again. Why? Well, it is officially Movember and in South Africa, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men across all population groups according to this study by the South African Journal of Surgery.
While men grow their ‘tashes during the month of November in the name of fighting against cancer, we thought it was a dandy time to speak out about how eating more veggies can lower one’s risk of cancer and lead to a sustainable, healthier life!
Men, your risk of prostate cancer can be reduced with the same diet that helps to prevent most cancers: a diet that’s high in fibre, veggies, fruit and beans and low in saturated fat. It’s time to switch from flipping that piece of meat on the braai to a plant-based alternative. Don’t know where to start? We’ve got some tips, advice and recipes for you and to share with friends and family.
1. Chow on colourful fruits and veggies
A plant-based diet rich in colourful fruits and vegetables means more vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and phytonutrients, all of which protect cells from damage that could lead to cancer. Consuming more than five servings of vegetables and fruits a day has actually been associated with a decreased risk of cancer. Throw in a zucchini or some kale in your smoothie or add some sprouts and microgreens to your wrap.
2. Pass the fibre
Research shows a link between consuming fibre-rich whole grains as part of a low-fat diet and a reduced risk of cancer. The benefits of whole grains extend beyond their fibre content. They are packed with healthy nutrients, and the synergistic effect of B vitamins, vitamin E, iron, phytoestrogens and antioxidants all together protect us from chronic diseases and cancer. Types of whole grains to include are: Whole-wheat seeded bread, oats, brown rice, rye bread, barley buckwheat, bulgur, millet, quinoa, and legumes including baked beans, kidney beans, other dried beans (home-cooked or canned), lentils, split peas and chickpeas.
3. Choose a low-fat diet
Saturated fats like those found in animal products, dairy and processed foods increase men’s risk of cancer. Replace them instead with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats like avocado, olives, seeds and nuts. Fatty acids like omega 3 (which includes: chia seeds, flaxseeds, soy products, walnuts, hemp seeds as well as leafy greens) are also something you should add to your diet – they act as a natural anti-inflammatory, and chronic inflammation is linked to medical conditions like arthritis, heart disease and cancer.
4. Pick prostate-protecting plants
Include tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato paste, all containing lycopene, along with soy foods, cruciferous veggies like kale, cabbage and broccoli, followed by green tea. These foods help fight cancer risk so consume them regularly, and let food by thy medicine.
So, making changes by reducing your intake of saturated fats can lower your risk of cancer. Chop it from your diet, and increase plant-based alternatives instead, and you’ll be doing a lot to safeguard your heart. As an example, a 150g lamb chop contains 21.3g of Total Fat, while a Fry’s plant-based meat alternative like our Traditional Burger Patty of the same size contains 6.6g of Total Fat. Plus, the patty comes with a bonus 0.9g of fibre to bolster digestive health and support healthy blood cholesterol levels.
November also happens to be World Vegan Month, so if you’re not yet convinced, why not see these next 30 days as a fun challenge at trying to eat plant-based? See how you feel at the end of the month and take it from there! #challengeaccepted
#Movember is more than growing a ‘tash – it’s about getting more colour, texture and variety on the plate For recipes to inspire you, your man and friends around, check out the diverse range of free plant-based cookbooks, including recipes for the braai master, athlete, health nut and parent here: https://www.fryfamilyfood.com/za/our-vegetarian-and-vegan-cookbooks/
When my dad started Fry’s in 1991, his idea was to craft nutritious and convenient alternatives to meat that my whole family (and friends) could all happily eat. Fast forward a good few 26 years later and now we are a fully-fledged second generation family business. And that means upping the ante a notch or two, all the while continuing to keep things plant-based, nutritious and tasty – just as my dad would have wanted!
My sister, Hayley, and I are both working mums and are avid crossfitters, so we find the time in the day just slips by, while we are left scrambling in the morning to drop the kids off at school on time, getting to meetings, and working out, let alone finding the time to make wholesome meals! We needed to make things easier, and it needed to start with our food. We asked ourselves, “What can we make that is easy and doesn’t compromise our health and our kids’ health?”
It needed to be a pre-workout shake, post-workout shake, breakfast on the run, desk eating-approved, important meeting-accepted, lunchbox-friendly and afternoon snack-OK’d. It needed protein and superfoods. It also had to be natural, low in sugar, low GI and 100% vegan. Basically, we wanted to make superhero food. Not an easy task.
But we were determined to make our dream of crafting a nutritious and yummy triple-threat meal a reality.
And so Kasha was born.
First, we had to decide on the flavours and develop the recipes. Figuring out which ingredients went well together without one or the other dominating, getting the texture perfect, and ensuring it was nutritionally balanced was certainly a learning process. We played around with superfoods like moringa and chia seeds, healing spices like cinnamon, and some of nature’s finest plant proteins, soy isolate, buckwheat and oats. As my sister and I, as well as our four young children, follow a plant-based diet it was important that the ingredients were healthy, comprehensive and light on the planet. After having countless breakfast-for-dinner nights, we got the two recipes – Chocolate and Vanilla & Chia – exactly how we wanted them to be.
Then we had to figure out a name. Oh dear. After going through the dictionary, we settled on “Kasha”. Kasha is a type of cereal or porridge made from buckwheat groats that have been roasted, soaked and simmered until soft, and because one of the main ingredients in the cereal is buckwheat, we decided on the simple and catchy name.
We then moved to the packaging: a critical component to the whole endeavor. How could we package Kasha in such a way that was different from the run-of-the-mill cereal brands? We wanted our packaging to obviously be fully reusable while conveying the health benefits simply and effectively. As we were moving into another category (from frozen foods to cereals), we also had to consider how to portray Fry’s so that we were still recognizable to our current customers and impactful to new customers.
We decided on a distinctive tub shape for the box. But finding a supplier was a nightmare! The lid width was completely unique so had to be specially made but we were adamant on settling for what we wanted! The other design challenges were massive too. We brought together some of the best minds in the industry: one Australian (who was in Durban at the time on a surfing trip), myself (a Durbanite living in Australia), a marketing guru from Cape Town, and our own in-house designer, based in Durban. This was our small team of four who took on the challenge to design the cereal pack. We spent months of trial-and-error on designs that didn’t really work. Revert after revert, we finally nailed it. Kind of.
After months of hard work, we supplied the artwork to the printer. This started a whole new set of problems… They could not reproduce the colours correctly and the Chocolate variant colour looked identical to Vanilla & Chia. It was back to the drawing board!
And then everything was ready. Our desire to be different paid off and our protein-packed, gluten-free instant cereal, Kasha, was finally good to go! It was time to hit the shelves around the world as the perfect on-the-go meal option that could be used as a superfood breakfast cereal or added to smoothies. Made from only the best that nature has to offer and an ingredient list you can understand, Kasha is a product very close to my family’s heart and mine too.
I hope you enjoy Kasha as much as we do. Life is what happens between bowls of Kasha!
In honour of Women’s Month, our guest dietitian Melanie Sher, unpacks key ingredients and lifestyle advice, from plant-based protein, what to eat for optimal hormone production and self-care for overall health and wellbeing for women.
Hello August! Woman’s Month! And in my opinion, and I may be ever-so-slightly bias, the best month of the year!
One of my favourite quotes goes as follows “I am a woman – what’s your superpower?” And this is indeed true – most women are superwomen, nurtures, caregivers, organizers, co-ordinators… they just manage to do it all. We are great at looking after others, but are we always as good at looking after ourselves?
This month, the focus is on women’s health and what women can do to live right and stay healthy.
So let’s discuss a few things that YOU, as a woman, can do for yourself to ensure you live your best possible life.
“You are what you eat?” Heard this one before? Food is the source of nutrition and all good things for the body. The food you eat will affect everything: your appetite control, your mood, your energy levels, your health, and your immunity. So let’s discuss some foods you can incorporate into your diet for overall health and wellbeing.
Soy. It is considered to be ‘A storehouse of nutritional riches,’ as it contains all 9 essential amino acids, vitamin E, some B-vitamins, magnesium, iron, zinc, and calcium, amongst others, making it one of the best vegetarian protein alternatives. Some examples include edamame beans, soymilk, miso, tempeh, tofu and meat alternatives, like Fry’s. My favourite from the Fry’s range are the Chicken-Style Strips! I love including it into a veggie stir fry for dinner – yum! But for years, soy got a bad rap because of its isoflavones, as it was feared that they could act as oestrogen in the body and stimulate cancer cells. But a steady stream of studies showed that a diet moderate-to-high in soy didn’t increase the chances of developing breast cancer and may even reduce that risk. In one study of more than 73,000 Chinese women, researchers found that those who ate at least 13 grams of soy protein a day, roughly one to two servings, were 11% less likely to develop breast cancer than those who got less than 5 grams. So without going into too much science, soy can be eaten in combination with a healthy, balanced diet. But, like everything else that we eat in our diet, it should be eaten in moderation, and in combination with other foods.
Healthy fats. Yes, you heard me right, fats are not the enemy. In fact, the ‘good fats’ are an essential part of a well-balanced diet. Fat is a major source of energy and helps you absorb certain vitamins and minerals. We need fat to build cell membranes and protective myelin sheaths. Healthy fats also have a cardio-protective effect, are essential for brain functioning, and are the raw material that we need to produce and maintain proper hormone function. So what are these healthy fats we talk of? Your mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats, of course. Here are some of my favourite food items you can eat to ensure you’re getting your ‘daily dose:’
Seeds! Eating pumpkin, flax, sesame, and sunflower seeds consistently as part of a healthy diet supports hormone balance. They provide the body with omega-3 fatty acids, trace minerals, and nutrients needed for hormone production. But remember to grind seeds with a harder shell, such as flaxseeds, before eating them, sprinkling them on your salad or adding them to your smoothie. This allows easier digestion by the body, and ensures that you get the full nutritional value!
Avocados! Besides the fact that they are absolutely delicious, avocados are another excellent addition to your hormone-balancing diet. They’re full of mono-unsaturated fats, potassium, magnesium, vitamin E, B-vitamins, and folic acid — all essential for maintaining hormonal balance in the body. They are also low in sugar and high in fiber, making them a great choice for regulating the production of insulin in your body.
Non-dairy calcium sources. It’s no secret that calcium is vital for strong bones and teeth, but it goes beyond that. This mineral also helps the body maintain healthy blood vessels, regulate blood pressure, and even prevent insulin resistance (which could lead to type 2 diabetes). For women, it is extra-important to reach our daily calcium requirements to decrease our risk of developing osteoporosis. So with all these known benefits, we need to make sure we are eating enough calcium daily. Not sure how to add alternative food sources of calcium into your diet? Why not make a tasty broccoli salad, throw some black beans into your stir fry or prepare a scrambled tofu wrap from work lunch? Some other non-dairy sources of calcium include almonds, fortified orange juice, and soy milk and products, which can all be incorporated into a healthy, balanced diet. Did someone say non-dairy, delicious smoothies?!
One of the keys to living a healthy, well-balanced life is making time to exercise regularly. Exercise is one of those controllable factors in ensuring overall health, and whilst cardiovascular exercise improves heart health and assists with weight management, resistance training – especially when using your own body weight – will help you build and maintain muscle mass.
Other benefits of exercise include lowering blood pressure, reducing cholesterol and cardiovascular disease, preventing diabetes, improving mood and cognitive function, and reducing mortality.
Many of the health issues that women face can be improved substantially with consistent exercise.
Exercise helps counteract hormonally-driven mood swings. Women live with shifting levels of oestrogen and progesterone that impact their fertility patterns as well as their brain chemistry and moods. When oestrogen levels drop, such as before and during a woman’s period or leading up to menopause, there is a decrease in the release of the “feel-good” brain chemical called serotonin. This makes them more susceptible to moodiness, depression and anxiety attacks, such as the symptoms found in severe premenstrual syndrome or postpartum depression. Exercise counters these hormonally-triggered mood swings by releasing endorphins, another mood regulator. Sometimes called the “runner’s high”, endorphins leave you feeling happy and relaxed after a workout.
Exercise also plays a vital role in building and maintaining strong muscles and bones. This is because exercise helps release hormones that promote the ability of your muscles to absorb amino acids. This helps them grow and reduces their breakdown, which helps promote overall health.
Over and above these health benefits of exercise of women, exercise can also increase your energy levels, improve your digestion, improves your quality of sleep, and can decrease your risk of developing chronic diseases. Exercise offers incredible benefits that can improve nearly every aspect of your health!
We all have the ability and opportunity to cultivate gratitude. Rather than complain about the things you think you deserve, take a few moments to focus on all that you have. Developing an “attitude of gratitude” is one of the simplest ways to improve your satisfaction with life. Whether you choose to write a few sentences in a gratitude journal, or simply take a moment to silently acknowledge all that you have, giving thanks can transform your life.
Some health benefits of practicing gratitude are as follows:
Gratitude improves self-care.
Gratitude improves physical health.
Gratitude improves psychological health.
Gratitude enhances empathyand reduces aggression.
Grateful people sleep
Gratitude improves self-esteem.
Gratitude increases mental strength.
So superwomen … what are you going to do to take care of yourself during this beautiful Women’s Month?
“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children.” – Native American Proverb
When mealtime comes, kids can be tougher than any fancy food critic. Making food that is convenient to prepare, tastes good and is nutritious, is no easy task. As a family with kids ourselves, we understand the need to not only make mealtime entertaining, but also the importance of raising awareness around where our food comes from. Cooking is an excellent way for children to learn responsibility, understand healthy food choices, and to make the connections about what is on their plate. It also creates quality family time and treasured memories.
With this in mind, we have put together our top eight tips for making healthy, wholesome meals fun, simple, educational and inspiring for the whole family!
Get everyone involved while learning new skills! From measuring the wet and dry ingredients to stirring and whisking, there is a task for everyone! And don’t forget about the rinsing, scrubbing, chopping, dicing and even julienning! Get the really little ones to help clean the veggies while the slightly older kids can assist with measuring and handling the sharper equipment.
Art class is now in session! There is so much more to cooking than just the final meal. Setting the table and plating the food in artful ways are some fun methods to get creative and expressive with food.
Get a roster going. Get the whole family to take turns to make snacks and school lunches in the week or cook dinner on the weekends. From date balls to sandwiches, and from easy pizzas to burgers, there is a meal for everyone to take responsibility of. It’s a great way for everyone to learn about balanced eating and nutrition.
Be the star of the show! Choose a colour like red or purple, or a veggie that you love, and create a meal around that! Start a conversation around that veggie: Why it is healthy to eat this plant? What are the different ways to prepare it? How does it grow and where did it come from (eg.: homegrown or from a farm nearby)? It’s a fun way to learn about the cycle of an ingredient’s life from seed to the table as well as encouraging out-the-box thinking (try to think of all the creative ways to cook the veggie…the crazier and more hilarious, the better!).
Talk about the gratitudes in your life. Be grateful for every meal you eat with your family and say it out loud. Showing appreciation for the nourishment the food is giving to your body, to the farmers who grew the various ingredients, for the transport that helped bring the food all the way to your plate, and for the people sitting around the table with you, develops a deeper connection and respect.
Talk about where food comes from, animals included. Educating yourself and your family about the health benefits of fruits, veggies, starches, grains, plant proteins and fats are important. Talking about where animal products come from too may seem daunting, but it could help the rest of the family understand your point of view. Try to keep the emotions out of these discussions – be honest, logical and be prepared to answer many questions.
Be ready for social gatherings. Be prepared for events like school outings, parties, camps and sleepovers; they often always include animal products. Pack some options like meat alternatives for your child the night before so that they don’t have to go hungry or feel left out, but also be flexible. In these environments, children will often explore and try new things that they wouldn’t normally do at home. As parents, all we can do is offer guidance and provide knowledge. Parenting can be tough; let your children make their own choices outside of the home.
Honour the fact that everyone is on their own journey. We cannot enforce our own feelings on our children, other parents or their children! Listen to their point of view openly, be kind, and give your own thoughts in a non-confrontational way. Plant seeds. Do not judge.
Starting in the kitchen may seem a bit far-fetched when talking about consciousness but it is the one place in the home where many important topics all come together, such as socio-economic issues, health and nutrition, environmental challenges, the wonderful miracles and beauty of nature, and more in practical ways.
Of course, we all want the very best for our children. We instill morals and values in them, hoping they will turn out to be good, upstanding members of society. We want to feel proud of them, knowing we have done our job. However, our children are their own selves, acting out their life’s purpose and fulfilling their own destiny. Indeed, raising conscious children is an ongoing job; and it requires presence and remaining connected with them.
Childhood obesity is becoming a global epidemic, and along with increasing rates of chronic diseases of lifestyle (diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and cancers) during childhood, it is apparent that the state of our children’s health is in a dire situation.
In South Africa, 14.2% of primary school children are overweight or obese. At the current rate, it is predicted that a whopping 3.91 million school children in South Africa will be overweight or obese by the year 2025. In addition, conditions such as early-onset diabetes and high blood pressure are also on the rise. We know that these conditions are related to lifestyle choices (diet, exercise and stress) and as a result, we are forced to examine how our food choices could be affecting our children’s health. In addition to these chronic lifestyle-related conditions, we are also seeing an increase in a range of other childhood diseases, from autism, ADHD and anxiety to constipation, allergies, asthma and auto-immune diseases. It may not seem obvious, but these diseases are also related to dietary and lifestyle factors. So what is the cause of this rapid decline in the health status of our children?
Our Busy Lifestyles Lead to Unhealthy Food Choices
As modern life becomes more demanding, most parents are forced to not only care for their children and look after domestic duties, but to also work full-time and spend many hours commuting on a daily basis. This leaves little time for food preparation, with most families relying on convenience options such as takeaways, ready-made meals and quick supermarket snacks. Unfortunately, most of these convenience options are packed with added sugars, salt, preservatives, trans-fats and a number of other processed ingredients which have a detrimental impact on growing bodies and developing brains. Even the most well-meaning and health-conscious parents are often forced to compromise on health due to the basic lack of nutritious and healthy convenience options on supermarket shelves as well as the lack of time available to them to prepare healthier options from scratch. Even snacks and convenience options that may appear to be healthy often have unhealthy additives, hidden sugars and preservatives which can increase the risk for health-related conditions during childhood.
For example, in 2015 the World Health Organization added processed meat to a growing list of recognized carcinogens, meaning that it has been out-rightly proven that processed meat causes cancer. In addition, red meat was added as a probable cause of cancer. So what does this mean? To be direct seemingly healthy childhood favourites such as biltong, salami, viennas, lunch meats and polony have all been linked to increased risk for cancer and even unprocessed red meats like mince and steak could well be a cause of cancer.
Why Choose to Eat Plant-Based?
This is one of the many reasons I promote a plant-based diet for children. Not only are plant-protein options free of the harmful carcinogens, heavy metals, environmental contaminants, cholesterol and hormones that are often found in meat and dairy but they are also full of beneficial vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants which help to fight disease and keep children healthy. Studies have found that children who eat a plant-based diet grow to the same height as meat-eating children but have less risk of becoming overweight or obese and tend to eat more fruits and vegetables and less junk food. Children who maintain a healthy weight during childhood are less likely to become overweight or obese during adulthood and healthy eating habits that are set during childhood are often maintained throughout life which means that eating a plant-based diet early in life can establish lifelong healthy habits.
Making sure that the house is stocked up with healthy snacks is one way to ensure that children are not only getting in enough energy, but also getting in enough nutrients and protein for optimal growth and development.
Children need to eat about 5-7 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, which means that all meals and snacks should contain a small amount of fruits or veg. In addition, children need to eat lots of good quality protein, wholesome carbohydrates and healthy fats in order to have enough energy for both their busy days and for growth. Since plant-protein options are my preferred choice of protein, I always encourage parents to make sure that there is a good source of plant protein at every meal. Foods such as legumes, natural soya products, peanut butter, quinoa, and nuts and seeds are all high in good quality plant proteins. The Fry’s Crafted Range makes for a great nutritious meat alternative that is packed with good quality natural plant protein ingredients such as non-GMO soya protein, chia seeds, rice protein, quinoa and chickpeas. In addition, the Crafted Range products are a source of healthy omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids from ingredients such as chia seeds, flax oil and sunflower seed oil. Not only are these products super nutritious and free of harmful ingredients, but they are one of the few convenience options available on supermarket shelves for busy parents.
Here are my top tips for making healthy, nutritious meals for the whole family without needing to spend hours in the kitchen:
Make use of healthy and nutritious convenience products. Healthy and nutritious ready-made snacks may be few in number but you can take advantage of the great products that are readily available on our supermarket shelves. Natural dairy-free yoghurts, pre-cut veg sticks, commercial hummus, plain popcorn, dried fruit, nuts, seeds, whole-grain crackers, Fry’s Kasha, pretzels and Fry’s Crafted Range Chickpea and Butternut Balls and Chickpea and Quinoa Falafels all make for quick healthy snack options.
Make one-pot meals. Yes, a variety of food groups are needed at each meal to make a healthy balanced meal, but that doesn’t mean that meals need to be made up of a number of different dishes in order to make them balance. In fact, putting all your different food groups into one dish can help to reduce preparation time and reduce wastage as well as making certain food groups, such as vegetables, more acceptable for picky eaters. So, why not try a hearty pasta, risotto, shepherd’s pie or veggie bake as your next family meal?
Minimize chopping and cutting. Most of the time that goes into healthy meal preparation is not necessarily spent cooking but in preparing vegetables and other ingredients for cooking. This process is known as pre-preparation. Minimize pre-preparation time by investing in a good electric chopper, buying pre-cut vegetables, soup packs and stir fry mixes or by pre-preparing your vegetables in bulk ahead of time. You may spend a little bit extra on things like pre-cut veggies but the investment in your families’ health and the time you save will be totally worth it.
Prepare. As they say, “failing to prepare, is preparing to fail” and preparing some of your food in advance for the week is a sure way to save time during the week and ensure a healthy diet for you and your family. From planning family dinners, to pre-cutting veggies, or even batch cooking and freezing meals in advance, every bit of preparation you embark on will save you time in the future. Don’t forget to also stock up on healthy snacks such as veggie sticks, cut up fruit, hummus, whole-grain crackers and popcorn for when those munchies hit.
Get the kids involved. Getting kids involved in cooking and meal preparation can seem to be more work than benefit, especially when you’re having a busy week but empowering your kids to make their own snacks and lunch boxes and take a turn or two to cook dinner, will teach them about good nutrition and pay off in the long run.
Simplify lunch boxes. Don’t get bogged down with complicated lunch box ideas. Get a lunch box with various compartments and fill each compartment with different fruits, veg, protein options and crackers. This will save you the time of having to make sandwiches and salads and the variety of fruits and vegetables will keep your kids interested.
Variety. Variety is truly the spice of life and when it comes to kids, nothing keeps them interested in food like variety. But this doesn’t have to mean a lot of work or time on your behalf. You can use the same basic ingredients in 3 or 4 different ways without kids feeling bored or noticing that they’re eating the same foods over and over. For example, one could use the Fry’s Crafted Chickpea and Quinoa Falafels as a pita bread filling, as a finger food on a snack plate or as meatless balls in a pasta.
The Super Plate
The Super Food Plate was developed to help parents to understand the nutritional needs of their children and to plan balanced meals.
Explaining the Food Plate
Fruits and Veg: 5-7 servings per day (about 1/3 of the plate). Includes all fresh vegetables and fruits e.g. apple, banana, berries, pineapple, watermelon, dried fruit, salad, tomatoes, spinach, kale, cucumber, corn, baby marrows, mushrooms, etc.
Grains and Starches: 7 servings per day (about 1/3 of the plate) Includes all whole-grain products and starchy vegetables e.g. brown rice, quinoa, oats, cornmeal, potato, sweet potato, butternut, barley, whole-wheat bread/ crackers, etc.
Proteins: 2-3 servings per day Includes all legumes and soya products as well as nuts and seeds e.g. Fry’s products, tofu, chickpeas, lentils, beans, chia seeds, peanut butter, etc.
Fats: 3-4 servings per day. Includesall oils and added fats e.g. avocado, tahini, nuts, seeds, nut butters, olives, olive oil, sunflower oil, flax oil, etc.
Outside of the plate: 3 servings per day of non-dairy milk/ milk products. Includes all plant milks/ milk products but preferably soya milk e.g. soya milk, almond milk, soya yoghurt, etc.
Here are some healthy meal ideas, making use of the Food Plate, without having to spend hours in the kitchen:
Ensuring that your children have the best start in life has been made easy and convenient thanks to Fry’s Crafted Range of natural plant-protein products. With just a little bit of planning, preparation, and the use of a few healthy convenience options such as those found in the Crafted Range, a nutritious plant-based diet is within reach for the whole family. This type of diet will not only allow for healthy living in a time-limited modern world but will also prevent many of the chronic debilitating conditions affecting today’s children and allow your children to develop to their full potential.