VEGANISM FOUND TO BE THE BEST DIET FOR WEIGHT LOSS

farmers market

It used to be for college students, yoga instructors, and people who named their children after planets, but veganism—foregoing every kind of animal product, from beef and milk to eggs and even honey—is the hottest diet trend around, and for good reason: Brand new research says it’s the absolute best way to lose weight.

Going vegan has worked for Bill Clinton, Jay-Z and Beyonce, and a new study in the Journal of General Internal Medicine indicates it will work for you, too. The researchers compared results of a dozen diets—including Atkins, the American Diabetes Association diet, and others—and found that those following a vegan diet could lose 5 pounds more in the short-term than those following traditional diet plans. (Vegetarians, who allow themselves eggs and dairy, still fared well, losing slightly more than 3 pounds.)

But giving up eating animals is tricky, and not just because we crave the occasional bacon cheeseburger. Animals products are our primary source of protein and other important nutrients like vitamin D. And plenty of unhealthy foods—from Oreos to Red Bulls to Airheads—could be considered part of a vegan diet. To join the cool (and slim) kids, try these tricks to make veganism work for you, courtesy of the new book Zero Belly Diet. And to start losing weight immediately, find out if you’re guilty of any of these 25 Things You Did Today That Sabotaged Your Weight Loss!

1
DON’T REPLACE
YOUR MEAT

quinoa salad

If there’s one rule of happy veganism, it’s this: Don’t pretend you’re eating cow. No matter how much you manipulate tofu or wheat gluten, it will never taste like a Big Mac. So think about “replacing” your meat—just embrace its absence, stick with a veggie-based protein and a grain, and know that’s powering you towards your weight loss goals. You’ll discover new flavors that will slim you down, like these four Zero Belly favorite proteins:

Tempeh: Made from fermented soybeans, this uses whole soybeans to make it more dense. This density makes it a better protein source with 18 grams compared to the 9 for the same amount of tofu (100 grams). Speaking of tofu, try to avoid it if you’re dieting. The block of soybean curd is high in naturally occurring chemicals called phytoestrogens, which have the opposite effect of testosterone, and can influence our hormonal balance and lead to weight gain.

Seitan: Made from wheat gluten, it does a great job of looking like beef, so you’ll find it in a lot of vegan stir fry.

Teff and Quinoa: Even 7/11 carries quinoa bowls—so there’s no reason not to benefit from the 24 grams of protein per cup. And dubbed the next big thing in grains, teff has some calling it “the new quinoa,” and Lisa Moskovitz, RD, says that label is well deserved. “It’s a more complete amino acid-packed protein than quinoa itself,” she says. “That makes it great for anyone who wants to keep calories low and protein high.” For other fantastic protein sources, check out 30 Best Sources of Vegetarian Protein.

2
WATCH OUT FOR
CARB BOMBS

whole wheat bread

Despite the health halo around vegan restaurants, the bread there is every bit as bad for you as the loaves at the steakhouse next door. Replacing protein and fat with empty carbs is a lousy trade too many vegans make, so limit yourself to one small piece per meal. Don’t fall into a dessert trap, either, thinking vegan sweets are healthier. Some vegan desserts may end up with more of it, to make up for the lack of animal fats, according to research in Eat This, Not That! Watch out for soda, too—many vegan varieties are sweetened with agave, which has 60 calories per tablespoon!

3
POWER UP
WITH POWDER

plant based protein powder

You can’t eat or drink whey or egg protein powder on a vegan diet—and that may be why you’re losing weight. Researchers discovered that people who ingested higher amounts of plant protein were far less susceptible to metabolic syndrome (a combination of obesity, high cholesterol, and high blood sugar), in a 2015 study in the Journal of Diabetes Investigation. A second study in Nutrition Journal found that “plant protein intakes may play a role in preventing obesity.”

As for which brand to buy, the Zero Belly favorites are Sunwarrior (with 19 grams of protein and 100 calories per serving, it’s organic and derived from peas, cranberry and hemp, with no sugars, gluten or artificial sweeteners) and Nutiva Organic Hemp Protein. Hemp protein offers a substantial amount of fiber (here, 8 grams) that’s easy to digest, and this one has 15 grams of protein per scoop. And hemp seeds are just one of our 8 Secret Superfoods That Help You Lose Weight and Burn Fat!

4
PLAY IT
SMOOTH

healthy smoothie

Studies show that high-protein, low-fat smoothies are highly effective at rushing nutrients to your muscles, and that blended fruit drinks, which include all the fiber, will keep you fuller longer than fruit juices. To keep it vegan—and to reduce inflammation caused by milk products—make one with a non-dairy base, like unsweetened almond milk. For more inspiration, check out these 56 Weight-Loss Smoothies.

5
STOP TIL YOU
DROP—POUNDS

Scientists aren’t the only ones noticing veganism is good for you; so are food marketers, who are flooding the market this year with new products. Take advantage. Here are three we’re excited for—each Zero Belly-approved:

Tío Foods Gazpacho: Available in only about 20 stores since their launch last fall, these organic, vegan, ready-to-eat (or drink!) soups will be available nationwide by the end of 2015. In addition to a classic tomato recipe, Tío Foods also offers gazpacho verde (with kale, spinach, avocado, and mint) and gazpacho del sol (yellow tomato, yellow pepper, and carrot).

American Flatbread Farmers Tomato Pie: We get why you’d be skeptical of a pizza that’s not only frozen but also totally dairy-free. However, this pie is worth the dough. American Flatbread combines tomatoes, onion, garlic, basil, red wine, balsamic vinegar and a dash of maple syrup to create a flavor-packed pie that trumps the other vegan-friendly options on supermarket shelves.

Health Warrior Chia Bars: So-called “super snacks,” these chia-based bars are gluten-, dairy- and GMO-free, 100% vegan and boast mouth-watering flavors like coffee, acai and apple cinnamon. Each four-bite bar has only 110 calories and as many as 1,100 mg of omega-3s–that’s more ounce-per-ounce than is found in a piece of salmon! Love chia seeds? Check out the Best Ever Chia Seed Recipes from Instagram!

Power Vegetables! 3 Cozy, Healthy Recipes for Fall From Lucky Peach

The idea that vegetables can make up a full, satisfying meal is no longer a novel concept. Indeed, whether you say that vegetables are the new meat, or advocate for the shift of greenery from the side to the center of your plate, a tomato is a tomato—no matter how you pronounce it. But now cooking weekday meals with this emphasis just got a whole lot easier, thanks to a new cookbook from Lucky Peach. And as its title, Lucky Peach Presents Power Vegetables!, suggests, there are no weak links or dribble-y leeks to be found here. So below, just in time for fall, we’ve excerpted three of the coziest recipes included—a brine-emphasizing borscht, an easy rice porridge, and a carrot-juice curry soup. The miso corn porridge is the perfect oatmeal replacement, while the curry is perhaps best saved for your dinner party best. All three will live up to the expectations of foodie aficionados everywhere.

 

Hannah’s Borscht
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Photo: © Lauren Garfinkel / Courtesy of Clarkson Potter

HANNAH’S BORSCHT

MAKES 8 SERVINGS (ABOUT 4 QUARTS)

2 lb. beets, topped and tailed
1 cup white vinegar
1/4 cup sugar
1 T kosher salt
1 large cucumber (about 12 oz.), peeled
1/2 cup chopped scallions (about 4), plus more for garnish
3 T finely chopped fresh dill, plus more for garnish
1 T fresh lemon juice
3 cups cold buttermilk
Freshly ground black pepper
Sour cream or crème fraîche, for serving
Quartered hard-boiled eggs

Fit the beets, vinegar, sugar, and salt in a snug single layer in a medium pot and add enough water to just cover the beets (3 to 4 cups). Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat and simmer until the beets are tender, about 45 minutes, depending on their size. Add water as needed to keep the beets covered in brine.

Reserving the brine, remove the beets, and when cool enough to handle, wipe off their skins with a dry paper towel—that’s all you’ll need to peel them. (Your hands will eventually return to a normal color; this is the price borscht extracts.)

Grate the beets on the coarse side of a box grater into a large bowl. Grate the cucumber into the bowl with the beets and add the scallions, dill, lemon juice, and 2 cups of the reserved brine. Stir and fold the mixture with a spoon. Slowly add the buttermilk and stir to combine. Add salt and pepper to taste—it should be assertively seasoned. Add up to 1 cup of brine to thin the soup.

Refrigerate the soup until very cold, at least 2 hours and up to 3 days. Serve in bowls with a dollop of sour cream, a sprinkle of scallions and dill, and a few pieces of hard-boiled egg. Freshly ground black pepper is usually a good idea, too.

 

Rice Porridge with Miso and Corn
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Photo: © Lauren Garfinkel / Courtesy of Clarkson Potter

RICE PORRIDGE WITH CORN AND MISO

MAKES 4 SERVINGS

3 ears corn, shucked
4–5 cups water
2 scallions, white and green parts separated, greens sliced
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 piece (1”) fresh ginger, peeled and smashed
2 dried shiitake mushrooms
1 1/2 cups cooked short-grain rice (leftover is A-okay)
2 T red miso
2 T unsalted butter
Soy sauce or black vinegar

Make the corn broth: Cut the kernels from the cobs. Set the kernels aside and transfer the cobs to a large saucepan. Add the water, scallion whites, garlic, ginger, and shiitakes. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

Strain the solids out of the broth and pick the shiitakes out from the strainer. Remove and discard the shiitake stems (or compost them along with what’s left in the strainer like the responsible global citizen you are). Slice the shiitake caps and set aside.

Measure out your strained broth. If you have less than 4. cups of it, top the rest off with water. Return the broth to the pot and stir in the cooked rice. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook, stirring occasionally but not obsessively, until it turns to porridge, about 15 minutes. (You could stop at this point and throw the porridge in the fridge, then bring it all together in the morning for a killer boil-and-serve breakfast—just bring it back to a simmer before proceeding.) Stir in the corn kernels and simmer until they are cooked, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the miso and butter, and remove from the heat.

Serve in bowls topped with the sliced shiitakes, sliced scallion greens, and a drizzle of soy sauce or black vinegar to taste.

 

Carrot Juice Curry
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Photo: © Lauren Garfinkel / Courtesy of Clarkson Potter

CARROT-JUICE CURRY

MAKES 4 (MAIN-COURSE) SERVINGS

Curry Base:
1 can (15 oz.) coconut milk, refrigerated for 30 minutes
2 garlic cloves, smashed
1 piece (1”) fresh ginger, peeled and smashed
1/4 cup Thai red curry paste (jarred or canned)
1 stalk lemongrass, smashed and tied into a knot
2 cups carrot juice

Roasted Vegetables:
2 lbs. mixed vegetables (such as zucchini, okra, bell peppers, cauliflower, carrots, baby corn), cut into bite-size pieces
2 T neutral oil
Kosher salt

Seeded Brown Butter:
4 T unsalted butter
1 T black mustard seeds
1 T sesame seeds
1/2 tsp. chili flakes
4 kaffir lime leaves or 1/2 tsp. grated lime zest

Assembly:
Cooked rice noodles (optional), or serve with jasmine rice on the side
Scallions, sliced
Cilantro, picked
Thai basil, torn
Toasted unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)

Make the curry base: Open the cold can of coconut milk and scoop out the solidified cream from the watery milk below. Set both aside separately.

Melt the coconut cream in a heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic, ginger, and curry paste, and let bubble for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring every minute or so, until the reddened coconut oil separates from the mass. Stir in the lemongrass and then the coconut milk and carrot juice. Simmer until reduced by one-third, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand for 15 minutes. Strain and proceed.

Roast the vegetables: Heat the oven to 425°F.

Combine your vegetables in a bowl and toss them with the oil and a large pinch of salt. Arrange them on a rimmed baking sheet or two—they shouldn’t be crowded—and roast until browned and just cooked through, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the seeded brown butter: Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the mustard and sesame seeds and cook, shaking the pan to brown the milk solids evenly, 1 1/2 to 3 minutes. The mustard seeds may splatter and pop; briefly cover the pan or remove from the heat if they get out of hand. When the butter solids are the color of a hazelnut skin, remove from the heat. Stir in the chili flakes and lime leaves.

Put it together: If using noodles, make a little bed of them in the bottom of a warmed, shallow bowl. Arrange a pile of vegetables in the middle, then pour some of the curry sauce around the base of the dish, making a little swimming pool for the vegetable kiddos. Top with the scallions and herbs and, if desired, a sprinkle of coconut flakes. Stir the butter to distribute the seeds, then drizzle over the dish. Serve hot.