Jars Containers Zero Waste Vegan  - Jasmin_Sessler / Pixabay
Nutrition and Food

Nutritional Yeast

A significant source of some B vitamins, nutritional yeast is a great way to give foods a cheesy or savory flavor. Some brands are fortified with vitamin B12, making this a staple in many vegan households. I personally love the flavor of nutritional yeast and started using it years before I was eating vegan. 

Nutritional yeast can also be helpful for people who want to give their food a cheesy flavor but are on a low sodium diet. One serving (1 tbsp) of nutritional yeast has 25mg of sodium while one serving (1oz) of cheddar cheese has 174mg.

One serving of nutritional yeast provides 9g of complete protein and is made from a single-celled organism called Saccharomyces cerevisiae. It is dried and inactive and therefore doesn’t grow like active dry yeast does, so you can’t substitute it in place of yeast in your bread recipes. Nutritional yeast is technically made from the same species of yeast as active dry yeast, but it’s a very different product.

But you can use nutritional yeast to amp up the flavor of many dishes including soups, sauces, egg substitutes (like this tofu scramble) or even as a popcorn topping. The umami flavor of nutritional yeast is from the amino acid glutamic acid. But don’t worry, this is a naturally occurring amino acid and is not the same as the additive monosodium glutamate (MSG). 

NPR has a great piece on the history of nutritional yeast including it’s many rises and falls in popularity.

Chemistry Glass Flask Doodle  - atomstalk / Pixabay
Nutrition and Food

What is a Registered Dietitian?

Depending on where you live, a Registered Dietitian and a Nutritionist are not the same. For example, I live in California. In California there are no regulations related to using the title “Nutritionist.” However, the title “Registered Dietitian” is protected. That title can only be used if you’ve met the requirements to become a Registered Dietitian.

A Registered Dietitian, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, RD, or RDN all mean the same thing. This is a credential that someone has earned. Similar to an MD or an RN- you can only call yourself those things if you’ve done the work required. To become a Registered Dietitian involves completing extensive education and supervised training prior to passing a national exam. 

Minimum Requirements

The education includes biology, anatomy and physiology, chemistry, biochemistry and more. After completing at minimum a Bachelor’s Degree (soon Master’s Degree minimum), you then apply to participate in an internship program, of which many are unpaid. The competition is fierce, just like trying to apply to Nursing School. There are more applicants than there are internships. Many of us completed our internships unpaid- a sort of labor of tough love.

Now that you’ve completed your internship program, required to be at least 1200 hours consisting of supervised clinical, community, and food service rotations, you may be eligible to take the registration exam. 

The registration exam is conducted at an official test site to maintain the integrity of the exam. You’ll likely want to pass the first time if possible because it’s not free. Once your internship is verified and you are deemed eligible to sit for the exam, you pay a fee when you select your exam date. No phones, no personal electronics, nothing can go into that room with you. I had the privilege of later completing my Certified Nutrition Support Clinician (CNSC) exam with a broken foot. More on that some other time…

Congratulations, you’ve passed the exam! Tears, there will be tears. So many tears of joy. You are notified before you leave after exam completion whether or not you’ve passed. If you didn’t pass, you can re-take the exam at another scheduled date and time. 

Lifetime Learners

California doesn’t have licensure for RDs and therefore the path to becoming a Dietitian concludes once you pass the registration exam. Dietitians are required to complete at least 75 units of continuing education every 5 years to maintain their credential, including at least 1 unit of ethics. You create an online learning profile with the governing body and log your education as you complete it. That means every RD you meet has continued to learn throughout his/her career. Dietitians are dedicated to staying up to date to ensure that they are providing the best nutrition care possible with the most current scientific evidence. We are a profession of lifetime learners.  Many Dietitians will choose to complete additional certifications and/or credentials to become more specialized in specific areas of practice.

As I mentioned before, this may vary depending on your geographic location. The information provided here is specific to California, USA. There may be other regions where being a Nutritionist involves specific criteria, but here you’ll want to work with a Registered Dietitian to ensure that you’re receiving evidence-based information and not just someone’s opinion.

Nutrition and Food, Recipes

Vegan French Toast Bake


  • 1 loaf of Vegan Croissant Toast cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 12 oz silken tofu
  • 1, 13.5oz can of coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons arrowroot
  • 1/2c sugar
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 2c frozen mixed berries


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Cut the bread slices into 1 inch cubes. Remove 2c of mixed berries and leave out on countertop to defrost a bit.
  3. Spray a 9×13 casserole dish with a nonstick spray and add bread cubes.
  4. Blend tofu, coconut milk, arrowroot, sugar and cinnamon in your high speed blender to make a custard.
  5. Pour custard over bread cubes. Push cubes down to ensure they all get wet, or leave some dryer areas if you like a crunchy crust.
  6. Place in oven and bake for 20min.
  7. Pour mixed berries over the top and bake for another 20min. It’s ok if the berries are still frozen when you add them.
  8. Remove from oven and serve immediately.


  1. Make sure your bread is dry- it works best if the bread is about 1 day past it’s best date. The dryer the bread the better the texture for this recipe. You can also substitute another type of french bread if you prefer.
  2. My husband and I like a mixture of texture so I like to only push down some of the bread and let other smaller areas remain untouched by the custard so that they come out a little crunchy. If you prefer soft texture make sure you have fully coated all of the bread pieces.
  3. Feel free to add more fruit if you like, 2c is an estimate of the amount I used.
  4. My husband really likes maple syrup on top; I prefer to keep it as is or to add some vanilla plant based yogurt ????
Cow Meadow Nature Cattle Landscape  - Ben_Kerckx / Pixabay
Nutrition and Food

Hormones and Dairy

It’s an unfortunate reality that our modern lifestyle exposes us to many possible cancer causing things daily. My intention with this article is not in any way to cause fear. This is simply to raise personal awareness and challenge some of our perceived norms. I’m here to provide information; what someone chooses to do with that information is entirely up to them. My hope for you is to learn something new here today or at the very least challenge your own view/beliefs and cultural norms related to dairy products. Because when we stop talking about issues we can become complacent and start to pretend they aren’t there. And I love talking about food. ????

Quick note about me

I’ve mentioned before that I was lacto-ovo vegetarian for almost a decade before finally eliminating eggs and then dairy products from my diet. The decision to eliminate both of those products was very personal and caused a lot of internal reflection as well as research- not only to understand the nutritional implications, but also the environmental, animal-welfare, and potential long-term health effects. A lot of my decision was based on the environmental and animal welfare aspect of this topic. Nutrition was somewhat easy for me because the alternative products on the market today taste good, can provide similar nutrient profiles, and are accessible to me (not only because I’m a Dietitian). I recognize that I’m fortunate and privileged to be able to say that; not everyone is.

Dairy products can be part of a healthy diet. If you’re debating your milk stance I recommend reading my article Dairy Dilemma to get a little more background on dairy and how it can fit into a healthy diet. The article also discusses alternative dairy products and a brief explanation related to living a vegan lifestyle.

Quick thoughts on The PCRM

Several studies have linked the consumption of cheese and dairy products to an increased risk of breast cancer. On September 22, 2020 The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) filed a lawsuit against the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) because of the FDA’s failure to respond to their petition asking for a warning label to be added to dairy cheese products

To be fully informative I think it’s important to point out that The PCRM is not what it sounds like from their name. At their core they are an animal activist group, not necessarily a collection of Medical Doctors. There is a lot of much information out there both for and against this group.

Rather than focusing on one group we should focus on what the science tells us so far and where we are falling short. I also think it’s worth mentioning that many groups, businesses, and the like have colorful pasts. But that doesn’t mean that they can’t or don’t contribute useful insight and information. Many of the nutrition handouts available on The PCRM website are full of helpful, evidence-based information.

What some of the science says

According to the authors of several studies, insulin-like growth factor (IGF-1) and other growth hormones may be responsible for the increased incidence of breast cancer in women consuming the most cheese. It’s well established that following a vegetarian diet pattern is associated with lower risk of many chronic diseases, including cancer.

This study, published by Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center, found that dairy milk consumption could increase women’s breast cancer risk up to 80% depending on how much they consume. This study evaluated the dietary intake of almost 53,000 North American women who were all initially free of cancer. Study participants were followed for ~8yrs during which time they were required to complete food questionnaires and diet recalls. Participants also completed a baseline questionnaire to provide information related to their demographics, family history, alcohol consumption, and other factors that the authors deemed relevant for the purpose of the study. Researchers found that consumption of dairy foods was associated with an increased risk for cancer. The data collected also predicted a marked reduction in risk associated with substituting soymilk for dairy milk.

Possible explanations

The main author, Fraser, went on to explain that possible reasons for these associations between breast cancer and dairy milk may be the sex hormone content of dairy milk. The female cows producing the milk are lactating, and often about 75% of the dairy herd is pregnant. Breast cancer in women is a hormone-responsive cancer. Intake of dairy and other animal proteins in some reports is also associated with higher blood levels of a hormone, insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1), which is thought to promote certain cancers.

“Dairy milk does have some positive nutritional qualities,” Fraser said, “but these need to be balanced against other possible, less helpful effects. This work suggests the urgent need for further research.” 

The Canadian Academy of Sports Nutrition raises several good points related to hormones and antibiotics in our food. Specifically they point out that some protein hormones given to cattle are water soluble. During digestion, your stomach would break down any consumed, water-soluble proteins.

However, the use of protein steroids is different. Steroid proteins are fat soluble. They can remain intact even with heat applied. They can even survive stomach acid! Potential risk of cattle and cow products treated with steroid hormones then causing changes to the human consuming them has room to be further studied. Because there is a lack of strong, reliable data this topic is pretty controversial. There is data supporting all sides of the argument, and no firm stance established by the professional Dietetics or Medical Community (that I was able to find anyway).

What now?

I have to agree with Fraser- dairy milk does have some positive nutritional qualities like protein, carbohydrates, and vitamins/minerals. But don’t we have a right to further investigate possible links between our food supply and rates of cancer? To understand the possible long-term effects of our food choices? Do you think certain foods should have a warning label? We put warnings on alcohol and cigarettes, should food be different? The Surgeon General warnings are there to raise awareness. Adding a warning label to certain foods might also help consumers make informed choices based on their own personal risk factors. 

Every day it feels like we’re reading headlines stating that another study has found higher incidents of cancer in today’s youth compared to 50 years ago. The more solid scientific research we have related to hormones in the food supply, the more educated and evidence-based our food choices become.

Further Reading

Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM)- Let’s beat breast cancer

Winchester Hospital- Controversy over added hormones in meat and dairy

Nutrition and Food, Recipes

Easy Tofu Veggie Scramble


  • 1/2 sweet potato or any other potato you have, diced
  • 1 yellow squash, cut into bit size pieces
  • 1 zucchini, cut into bite size pieces
  • 14 oz block firm tofu, drained
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 tsp garlic (or more to taste; can sub garlic powder but use less since it’s stronger than fresh)
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1.5 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1.5 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • black pepper to taste


  1. Drain tofu well. I use my tofu press for about 20 minutes. Don’t worry about making the block have fissures or breaks- you’re going to be mashing this up once it’s drained anyway.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil and garlic over medium heat in a deep pan or a medium size pot.  Add diced potato.
  3. Once potato pieces are slightly browned (about 5-7 min), add in the yellow and zucchini squash.
  4. Once the potatoes look a bit darker and your squash has some browning, crumble in your drained tofu. Mix together with turmeric, onion powder, nutritional yeast, smoked paprika, cumin and black pepper.  Add more or less of each seasoning to taste- I like to have enough turmeric to make the tofu appear yellow but not so much that it’s a dominant flavor. 
  5. Stir together tofu, seasonings and vegetables to distribute flavors well (about 2-4min). Serve warm.


  1. Don’t be afraid of adding or omitting spices. You can make this taste like whatever you want- that’s the beauty of tofu!
  2. Try adding in fresh diced onion instead of onion powder, or other vegetables you might have in your fridge. 
  3. Want a little more comfort? Melt some vegan (or dairy if you prefer) cheese on top to make it a melted scramble.
  4. I like to make this in my soup pot because I sometimes stir a little vigorously ???? So if you’re like me (accident and kitchen mess prone) consider using your soup pot instead of a skillet. Know yourself. ????
  5. Serve with your favorite toast (I suggest avocado toast or toasted vegan croissant toast), coffee, and orange juice for a lazy Sunday brunch. Cheers!
skeleton full of candy
Nutrition and Food

Study finds Vegan diets more than double the risk of a broken hip- Here’s what you need to know

By now I’m sure many of you have seen the headline making news this week about a study following more than 50,000 British people over two decades finding that vegans were 43% more likely to suffer a fracture compared to people who ate meat and fish. You can read an article summarizing the study here.

Without analyzing the data and doing a complete deep dive on everything the study found, including any potential flaws, the methods and limitations, it’s important to take a moment to recognize that yes, following a vegan diet will require some planning to ensure that you’re meeting your micronutrient needs. Honestly, most any diet in today’s modern food system that meets all of your nutritional needs is going to require some level of planning, so don’t let that discourage you from making the change to eating more plant-based.

Ways to meet your needs

Lucky for today’s vegans and other dairy-free individuals, many products on the market are fortified with important vitamins and minerals that can be lacking in a vegan diet. A few commonly fortified nutrients that can be lacking in a vegan diet include vitamin B12, vitamin D, and calcium.

Vitamin B12

The only source of vegan vitamin B12 comes from fortified foods, supplements, and nutritional yeast. Vitamin B12 is found almost exclusively in animal products including meat and dairy products. I recommend requesting to have your Physician monitor your vitamin B12 levels when you first begin a vegan diet to establish if your levels are optimal and then monitor annually after that to ensure that you’re continually meeting your needs. The general recommendation is for anyone following a vegan diet to take a vitamin B12 supplement. I personally have had a low vitamin B12 level which is embarrassing to admit because I’m a nutrition professional. But we’re all human and it can happen to anyone. Having your vitamin B12 levels out of range can cause permanent damage if not rectified, but luckily your levels increase pretty quickly with supplementation or the use of B12 shots, if indicated. Your Physician or Registered Dietitian can provide you with more information regarding vitamin B12 specific to your needs and lifestyle.


Calcium is another nutrient that can be lacking when following a vegan diet and doesn’t always get as much attention as vitamin B12. Calcium is tightly regulated in your body and is required for a ton of processes including vascular contraction and dilation (think blood vessels constricting or expanding), hormone secretion, and muscle function. The level of calcium in your blood does not fluctuate with dietary intake changes which makes it sometimes challenging to find a calcium deficiency because there aren’t any obvious symptoms in the short term. Most low calcium levels result from other medical conditions such as renal failure or use of certain medications. Instead of not having enough calcium to function, your body will steal calcium from its massive reservoir: your bones and teeth. This can be problematic for your bone mineral health if your body keeps leaching calcium out of them. According to the FDA, “adequate calcium and vitamin D as part of a healthful diet, along with physical activity, may reduce the risk of osteoporosis in later life.” 

The nuances involved with bone health and remodeling are much too involved to include in this post. The short story is that calcium and vitamin D in conjunction with phosphorus work to keep your bones healthy. If any of these end up out of their recommended range it can have a detrimental effect on your body. A sedentary lifestyle lacking weight-bearing exercises and resistance training can also negatively impact your bone mineral density (BMD). Your body individual ability to maintain calcium balance is based on a lot of factors that you have no control over including calcium excretion in your urine and feces and calcium absorption in your intestines as well as your dietary intake of calcium.

There are many vegan foods fortified with calcium, such as vegan milks, but most people limiting or avoiding animal product consumption will need to have an awareness of what plant foods can also help them meet their daily needs. If you continue to eat dairy products these foods can provide you with calcium and vitamin D. Plant-based sources of calcium include fortified orange juices, chia seeds, tofu, fortified cereals, raw broccoli, cooked kale, bok choy and supplements. Here you can find more vegan sources of various nutrients.

The RDA (recommended daily intake) is the average daily level of intake that is sufficient to meet the needs of nearly all healthy individuals. For a healthy individual between the ages of 19-50 years old, the RDA for calcium is 1,000mg daily. This number changes for women due to hormonal changes that affect their bodies but stays pretty consistent for men until they’re 71+years old. Vegetarians and vegans should also keep in mind that their absorption levels of calcium may be slightly lower due to increased intake of oxalic and phytic acids from plants. Don’t start stressing about having another thing to keep track of. This just means you need an awareness of your intake since oxalic and phytic acids block your bodys ability to fully absorb calcium. That being said, it’s also important to note that more isn’t always better. You can consume too much of a good thing.

Hypercalcemia (elevated calcium)

Excessively high levels of calcium can cause problems including soft tissue calcification, renal insufficiency and even kidney stones and constipation. Make sure to discuss your personal calcium needs with a Registered Dietitian if you have any questions or concerns related to your calcium needs. 

Further Reading

Interested in reading more? Here are some links to credible sources you can trust:

NIH on calcium

NIH on vitamin B12

NIH on vitamin D

Meeting Calcium Recommendations on a Vegan Diet from The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

red paper bags
Nutrition and Food

Instant Pot Deals- Black Friday 2020

Can you believe it’s already that time of year again? While I’m all for shopping small and supporting local businesses, sometimes there are gadgets and deals that only Amazon can provide. Here are some of the best Amazon Black Friday Instant Pot deals I found today and wanted to share.

The must-have kitchen gadget for plant-based diets

Oh how I love my Instant Pot! I only just decided to buy one last year during the 2019 Amazon Black Friday Deals and I’m so glad I did. I was on the fence since I’ve been a huge fan of my classic CrockPot for years and wondered, “Why do I need both?” What a game changer the Instant Pot became. Being able to cook dried beans quickly, my favorite grains, soups, or even steam vegetables has made my Instant Pot the MVP of my kitchen (tied for first with my Blendtec of course). There are tons of models on special right now, I encourage you to click through and find the one that would work best for you or a friend/loved one this year as a gift.

Instant Pot Duo 7 in 1 $79.00

Instant Pot Smart Wifi $89.99

Instant Pot Crisp Pressure $129.99

Instant Pot Duo Evo Plus $69.99

appetizer bowl bread breakfast
Nutrition and Food, Recipes

Soup Season

It’s my favorite time of the year for so many reasons, one of them being soup! There is nothing more cozy than a fresh homemade soup at the end of the day. But making a big pot of soup can be overwhelming when your household is smaller. I know for us making a soup sometimes means we’re eating soup for the next 3-4 days in our house. In an effort to mix it up and not get bored with your favorite soup, here’s a tip: freeze that leftover soup. But don’t just stick it in any tupperware and freeze, continue reading for my favorite way to store leftover soups, stews, and chilis.

Freezing Soup

One of my favorite kitchen finds is the Souper Cube on Amazon.

This gadget is perfect if you’re a small household. Simply fill the cubes and place in the freezer. Whenever you’re in the mood for some soup, simply heat up the pre-portioned servings.


Here are some of my favorite soup recipes:

https://www.savorytooth.com/instant-pot-tomato-soup/ This one was shared with me by a friend and she was right- it’s delicious and super easy to make! I made it constantly last season. I recommend pairing a bowl of this with a vegan (you can use dairy if you’re into that) grilled cheese sandwich ????

Thug Kitchen Cookbook Coconut Curry Soup *Language Warning. Thug Kitchen has some rather colorful ways of expressing themselves, but their recipes are amazing. Don’t let the foul language fool you.

One Pot Everyday Lentil Soup One pot?! Yes, please. Lentils are such a great source of protein; this soup makes a hearty meal on its own.

The Best Vegan Tortilla Soup I love a good tortilla soup! The Thug Kitchen Cookbook also has an amazing recipe, but this one is a little easier to make.

As per usual if you’re making a soup that recommends blending, I highly recommend the Blendtec.

Have a favorite soup recipe you want to share? I’d love to hear from you! Comment below.

flat lay photography of three tray of foods
Nutrition and Food

Meal Prepping Tips & Ideas

Weeknight dinner planning can be a challenge. With long hours and long commutes, it’s sometimes impossible to find enough time available for preparing a healthy, delicious meal. 

Luckily fall is finally here and so are some amazing in-season vegetables!

One of my favorite meal prep techniques is spending Sunday morning roasting every vegetable I can get my hands on. Brussels sprouts, various squash including acorn and butternut, cauliflower, broccoli, potatoes, I could go on forever. The beauty of roasting vegetables is that they retain their flavor in the days to come after being cooked. They also tend to hold their texture where sometimes frozen vegetables end up soggy. I don’t know about you, but frozen broccoli is probably one of my least favorite quick foods. I’m much happier when I’ve roasted a head of broccoli in advance for the week instead of settling for heating up frozen broccoli.

Another tip for meal prep is to have canned beans in your cupboard. I have an instant pot and prefer to cook dried beans whenever possible, but sometimes life gets the best of me and I need food now. Whenever this happens I’m always glad that my pantry is stocked with backup canned beans. Simply drain, rinse, heat and portion out your serving to add plant protein to your meal.

Not really into beans? Try roasting a block of tofu, pre-make a batch of lentils instead of beans, or even heat and cut-up your favorite veggie burger patty to add! 

Speaking of my instant pot, other great food items you can prep in advance for weeknight dinners are quinoa, sorghum, rice, or bulgur. I personally love to cook these in my instant pot simply because I don’t like to stand over a hot stove, especially for 30min or more. Cooking extra servings of my grains to have throughout the week makes this food hack a no brainer.

You could also pre-make a pot of high protein pasta to store for portioning out during the week. Just make sure to mix with some olive oil if you plan to refrigerate it sans sauce. This will help to minimize the pasta sticking together.

Putting it all together

Using my roasted vegetables, beans, and grain of choice I find an easy weekday dinner or lunch is to portion that out into a bowl and top with my favorite fixings. Depending on the variety, I might add some fresh avocado, sprinkle on some hemp hearts, or even add a sauce or peanut dressing. Another way to add flavor is to add fresh herbs and some lemon juice to keep it low sodium friendly. Experiment with different combinations to find what you and your family prefer.

Stay tuned for more meal prep ideas and tips!

Nutrition and Food, Recipes

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Hemp Seed Bread


  • 1 and 2/3 c whole wheat flour
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tbsp pumpkin spice
  • 1-2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1 c canned pumpkin
  • 1/2 c olive oil
  • 1/2 c water
  • 1/2 c hemp seeds
  • 1/2 c dried cranberries
  • 1/2 c dairy free dark chocolate chips
  • nonstick spray


  1. Preheat oven to 350 ℉.
  2. In a large bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and pumpkin spice.
  3. In another bowl combine mashed banana, pumpkin, water, and olive oil.
  4. Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients until moistened.
  5. Fold in hemp seeds, dried cranberries, and chocolate chips.
  6. Spray a 9×5 inch bread loaf pan with nonstick spray. Pour batter into greased pan.
  7. Bake for 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean and top of the bread is slightly browned and crunchy.
  8. Let cool and enjoy!


  1. Banana quantity can be decided according to how moist you like your breads. To make it more moist like a cake use 2 whole mashed bananas. For slightly less cake-like density use 1- 1.5 whole mashed bananas.
  2. Try having a piece warmed with your favorite cup of coffee!