Crazy for Carrots: Health Benefits

Quick Eats at Eternity Juice Bar

Carrot Supreme: Yesterday’s Dish of the Day

At Eternity Juice Bar we try to make healthy food quick and accessible to you. That’s why we have “grab and go” lunch packs made fresh daily. We have lots of wraps and sandwiches available and decided to start featuring a “dish of the day.” Yesterday it was Carrot Supreme.

So what are the health benefits of carrots? One, carrots are full of Vitamin A, which helps with vision. Two, carrots are an antioxidant-rich food, which studies indicate can prevent some cancers and cardiovascular disease. Three, working in combination, Vitamin A and antioxidants help protect your skin from sun damage.

Today’s dish of the day is kale salad with tomatoes, onions, and spices. Check out a previous blogpost on all of the benefits of kale.

Your health is your wealth. Fuel your body, feed your soul.

Tasty Tofu: Why it’s Good for You

Jerkfu Wrap

When cooked right, tofu is quite delicious (as evidenced by our Jerkfu Wrap pictured above). In addition, tofu is also really good for you! Derived from soybeans, tofu serves as a great meat-substitute for those that want plant-based protein. Tofu is also full of important minerals like iron and calcium. In fact, tofu has been found to overall be good for your health. Tofu has proven to lower cholesterol and improve cardiovascular well-being, which decreases your risk for stroke and heart disease. Rich in iron (and selenium), tofu helps keep your energy level up. High in calcium, tofu ensures stronger and healthier bones and lowers your risk for osteoporosis. In addition, the isoflavones in tofu help prevent certain cancers.

Nutritional Facts (per half cup/4 ounces serving of raw, firm tofu):

  • Calories – 95
  • Protein –10 grams
  • Carbohydrates – 3 grams
  • Fat – 5 grams. Low fat tofu contains 1.5 grams
  • Saturated fat – 0.1 grams
  • Cholesterol – 0
  • Calcium – 230 mg
  • Iron – 4 mg
  • Magnesium – 40 mg
  • Phosphorous – 140 mg
  • Potassium – 160 mg
  • Sodium – 7 mg
  • Fiber – 0.5 grams

Restaurant Philosophy

Your Health is Your Wealth

At Original Soul Vegetarian, we take a lot of pride in our food. Everything is made fresh daily and we use ingredients that are plant-based and chemical-free. We believe that soul food isn’t just good for your soul; it’s good for your body. So when it comes to planning the menu items, we choose ingredients that are full of nutritional value. For example, the vegan burger pictured above is packed with protein.

Why are we so focused on the health benefits of our food? Because we firmly believe that “your health is your wealth.” What do we mean by that? Your health is your greatest resource. You can have all the money in the world but you can’t really live if you don’t have your health. Being healthy—free of both physical and mental injury—allows you to do the things you actually enjoy. If you are tired, ill, sick, depressed, anxious, or stressed, you get by with just doing the things you have to do to survive not the things that you enjoy. But if you are healthy and happy, you can lead a vibrant, active, and full life. That’s why we serve food as medicine.

Is Meat the New Tobacco?

After decades of Big Tobacco marketing cigarettes as glamorous, the tide has finally turned. Smoking is generally recognized to be linked to all kinds of negative health outcomes including a shorter life expectancy, cancer, heart disease, and stroke. But Big Tobacco isn’t the only one. The meat industry is responsible for just as many deaths and poor health outcomes as smoking.

The three most fatal diseases in America are heart disease, cancer, and stroke. All three have been found to be linked to the overconsumption of animal products. Not surprisingly, vegetarians and vegans have significantly lower rates of these diseases than meat eaters. Doctors have been able to not only prevent, but also reverse, heart disease in patients who switch to vegetarianism or veganism. In addition, doctors and researchers found that better eating habits (less animal products) and exercise are just as helpful at preventing cancer as quitting smoking.

Your health is your wealth. This is why we serve food as medicine.

How to Stock a Vegan Pantry

For people considering going vegan, stocking a pantry can be a daunting task. So here’s a little cheat sheet guide (although by no means an exhaustive list) to get you started.

  1. Grains. Pasta, oats, barley, couscous are all good staples for vegan cooking.
  2. Beans and Legumes. Quinoa, a variety of beans, chickpeas, tofu, and various lentils are good things to have on hand.
  3. Nuts, seeds, and dried fruit.
  4. Vinegars and oils.
  5. Sweeteners. Raw and organic sugar, vegan chocolate, cocoa powder, and agave are great health conscious sweeteners.
  6. Dairy substitutes. Get almond, soy, and/or coconut milk. Also almond butter, veggie butter, veggie shortening, and egg replacer are critical in cooking and baking vegan dishes.
  7. SPICES. Flavor is the secret to making tasty food (vegan or otherwise).
  8. Nutritional yeast.
  9. Vital wheat gluten. You’ll need this if you’re interested in making seitan from scratch to have that meat substitute.
  10. Fruits and veggies. Get whatever kinds you enjoy to snack on and use for meals.

Seitan: Satisfying Vegans, Vegetarians, and Omnivores Alike

Contrary to popular misconception, being a vegan isn’t just about consuming salads. It means eating full, balanced, plant-based and animal-free meals. When done right, meat substitutes (such as seitan) can satisfy even the omnivores among us. Original Soul Vegetarian has been lauded by the Chicagoist and Windy City Live for being one of the best vegetarian/vegan restaurants here in Chicago. We have also been named “Best Soul Food” by the Chicago Reader for three years running.

Being a vegan soul food restaurant, we don’t shy away from the barbecue. We cook up some seitan and serve up delicious sandwiches such as the Down South BBQ Twist pictured below.

So what is this thing called seitan? And what is the difference between that and meat?

Seitan is a plant-based protein derived from wheat gluten. Meat is a protein that comes from animals. Calorie-wise, seitan is similar to lean meats. It also provides about the same amount of protein as lean meat. However, unlike meat, seitan is not a “complete” protein because it doesn’t have all of the necessary amino acids. Soy beans are one of the only “complete proteins” that are vegan. So finish off your meal with our soy ice cream and know that you are nourishing your body and your soul.

Combating Climate Change with Veganism

Most people have gotten on board with global warming being a real phenomenon (although the onset of the polar vortex brought about some debates and doubts). But with the acknowledgement of the problem, there’s been a lot of discussion about how to address it. One issue that scientists often point to is a person’s “carbon footprint” (aka the amount of greenhouse gas emissions that are indirectly or directly caused by one’s lifestyle). Pollution is often quoted as a major issue and drivers have been encouraged to carpool, take public transit, or bike. But car pollution isn’t the only factor in a person’s carbon footprint. What foods we eat play a major role in that as well.

Vegans choose to eat plant-based and animal-free foods for many reasons. Some people go vegan because it’s a cruelty-free way to live. Others choose it because of food allergies/intolerances or health reasons. Others might consider becoming vegan because it is better for the environment. One scientific study conducted by Oxford University indicated that the carbon footprint of meat eaters is double that of vegetarians or vegans. The reason for this disparity is due to the amount of energy it takes to raise livestock. Pollution is a smaller problem than meat consumption.

So you actually reduce your carbon footprint by eating vegan. Luckily, there are so many great plant-based food options and meat and dairy substitutions. A seitan Sloppy Joe sounds pretty good right about now…

Bananas for Bananas: 5 Reasons to Eat Them

Today’s ice cream flavor of the day is banana. Here at Original Soul Vegetarian we carefully select all of our ingredients to make sure that our food not only tastes good but is good for you. Deciding the flavor of the day for our soy ice cream or what goes into the Eternity Juice Bar shakes is no different. So why are we so bananas for bananas? Let us count the ways…

  1. Bananas get the FDA stamp of approval. Bananas can lower blood pressure and protect against cardiovascular diseases due to being high in potassium and low in salt.
  2. Bananas improve your mood. Bananas are high in tryptophan which triggers the production of the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin.
  3. Bananas improve learning. Bananas are high in potassium which helps you stay alert and learn better.
  4. Bananas aid digestion. Bananas produce digestive enzymes and are a natural antacid. If your digestive system is out of whack, eat a banana.
  5. Bananas make a great pre- work out snack. Bananas will give you an energy boost, maintain your blood sugar, and protect against muscle cramps.

Serving food as medicine. Your health is your wealth.

5 Reasons to Go Vegan

Five Reasons to Go Vegan

You’ve probably heard before that “you are what you eat.” What does that really mean? Well for one thing, every 35 days your skin replaces itself and makes new cells from the food that you eat. So what you put in your body becomes you. For another thing, the foods you eat fuel your body to handle the day ahead. Sugary, processed, and high-fat foods can cause you to feel tired. That’s why at Original Soul Vegetarian everything we serve is plant-based, animal and chemical-free, and we use unrefined sugars, flours, and/or rice. Besides being “you are what you eat” here are five other reasons to go vegan:

  1. Vegan diet is cholesterol-free! This in turn lowers your risk of heart disease, which is the number one leading cause of death in the United States.
  2. Being vegan is good for the environment. Animal agriculture causes over fifty percent of the global greenhouse gas emissions that are responsible for climate change.
  3. Veganism is linked to longevity. On average vegetarians and vegans live 6 to 9 years longer than their meat eating counterparts
  4. Obesity rates are significantly lower for vegans (3x) and vegetarians (2x) than meat eaters. This not only means looking better but also feeling better. Obesity is a huge risk factor for diabetes, heart disease, and even some cancers.
  5. Going vegan is good for the mind. One study indicated that vegans have lower rates of anxiety and depression than their meat-eating counterparts. Eat well, feel well.

Your health is your wealth.

Difference Between Being a Vegan and a Vegetarian

Original Soul Vegetarian has been serving delicious vegan soul food before “being vegan” was even a thing in Chicago. For thirty-three years we’ve been pioneering and providing vegan meals and beverages here on the South Side. What, you might ask, does being vegan truly mean? Although vegetarianism and veganism have gotten lots of media attention and become vogue, many people don’t know the difference. So what does it really mean to be vegetarian versus vegan?

Vegetarians don’t eat meat, poultry, fish, or seafood. Vegans, on the other, hand don’t consume or use any animal products or by-products. So in addition to not eating meat, poultry, fish, or seafood, vegans also refrain from dairy and, often, honey as well.

Why do people choose vegetarianism or veganism? Some people eat vegetarian or vegan for health reasons (reducing the risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancers, etc). Others make the decision to be vegan for dietary reasons (most of the population cannot digest milk and many people have intolerances and/or allergies to dairy). Still other people make the decision for ethical or religious reasons (believing that veganism is compassionate and humane, environmentally friendly, or in accordance with their personal religious doctrine).

Despite what many meat-eaters might say, you can get all the nutrients and vitamins that you need to live a healthy, productive life as a vegan or vegetarian. Considering veganism? Check in tomorrow for five reasons to go vegan.