[As I mentioned last time, I’m thrilled beyond words that my cookbook, Sweet Freedom, is one of only three cookbooks recommended on Ellen DeGeneres’s new “Going Vegan with Ellen” page! If you’ve had success with the recipes or if you have the book and like it, please hop over and leave a comment to let Ellen know as well!]
There’s just enough time to squeeze in one more summer giveaway before we all head back to the city from the cottage, back to school from the parks and beaches, back to work from our holidays, or just back to autumn after the long, lazy, delightful days of summer–so how could I resist? Besides, with autumn in the air in these parts (the mornings are already feeling a wee bit chilly), I needed something to cheer me up!
These days, the importance for Omega 3s, those essential fatty acids (EFAs) that we can only acquire from foods (our body can’t make them) is being emphasized all over the media and the supermarket aisles. EFAs are even added to foods in which they’d never appear naturally (such as orange juice), in what seems to me a pseudo-GMO fashion. And everyone is concerned about how to get their fill.
When I was in nutrition school back in the early 2000s, hardly anyone had even heard of Omega 3s. In class, we learned that the best sources for EFAs were salmon, walnuts, and flax seeds. Our teachers advised us to consume at least 1-2 teaspoons (10 ml) of the stuff a day. And the product they recommended most often to ensure we achieved our daily quota was fish oil.
For couple of years after school ended, I forced myself to take my fish oil daily, despite the fact that I was entirely unhappy with its source; further, the “lemon flavor” never really tasted like lemon to me, and I had a hard time swallowing it (literally). I tried mixing it in smoothies, but found that the flavor simply overpowered the smoothie. Finally, I determined to stop taking it when I cut other animal products out completely, and I turned to walnuts, flax and, later on, chia seeds for my Omega 3s.
Well, imagine my surprise when I learned that there’s a totally vegan Omega 3 oil out there, and one that is derived from plant and algae sources! When I was contacted by Kristine from Ascenta Health to see whether I was interested in reviewing their vegan Omega 3 oil, I was most surprised to discover that the company for which she worked was the same one that made NutraSea! The product she offered me was a vegan counterpart, called NutraVege.
I agreed to try the oil, making no promises. The bottle arrived a few days later, and I set up my station by the sink: open bottle in one hand, teaspoon in the other, full glass of water to drown out the taste on the counter. I poured; I slid the spoon into my mouth; I swallowed and grabbed the glass.
And then–the strangest thing happened! There was no need to drink. No need to mask the flavor at all, in fact, because it was actually extremely pleasant! The oil is smooth and clear with a subtle citrus note that lingers for a few seconds. In fact, the taste was so pleasant that I felt I could happily incorporate the oil into my recipes, though honestly, you can eat this stuff entirely on its own.
First I added some to a smoothie (this one has kale, cucumber, lettuce, plum, cinnamon, and coconut water):
As I suspected, it was dee-licious!
Next, I made this fantastic salad based on a recipe from Nava Atlas’s VegKitchen, subbing part of the oil with NutraVege. The addition of a citrus boost worked beautifully with the lime-based dressing. (You could also simply use olive oil for the dressing if you don’t have the NutraVege at home, of course). 🙂
Apart from its lovely flavor, NutraVege is also a powerful source of Omega 3s for vegans (with 20 times more DHA than flax, according to their website). One of the problems with plant-based sources of Omega-3s is that they don’t readily convert to DHA (those with low thyroid function, for instance, have a hard time with flax-based Omega 3s), but since NutraVege is derived from the Echium plantagineum plant (I had never heard of it before, either!), its source is readily converted and so offers a great alternative to fish-based oils. And the Algal DHA it contains is identical to that found in fish, since it’s actually the source eaten by the fish to provide their own DHA. (The company also provides a neat little chart comparing their oil to flax oil in terms of both cost and effectiveness. Take a look for more info.).
I was so thrilled with the sample, in fact, that I wrote back to Kristine and I asked her if I could give some away to one of you! She graciously agreed and then offered not one, not two, but three prizes to lucky DDD readers!
So if you’d like to win a bottle of Nutra-Vege of your very own, here’s all you have to do:
1) Live in Canada (so sorry, US friends–this is one giveaway restricted to Canada. I promise the next one will be open to everyone!).
2) Leave a Comment on this post telling me why you’d like to try it.
3) For extra entries, check out the Ascenta website and tell me one interesting fact you found there; follow @Ascenta_Health on twitter; tweet about the giveaway (using @rickiheller so I see it); “like” Diet, Dessert and Dogs on Facebook and leave a comment on the wall; follow me on twitter and send me a tweet to @rickiheller; blog about this with a link back to this page; post about it on Facebook and link to Diet, Dessert and Dogs either here or on Facebook. For each of these, please come back here and leave a separate comment so I know you did so.
I’m really excited to have a healthy, delicious and vegan alternative to fish oils available for a great boost of Omega 3s and 6s. Now it’s easy to obtain all your essential fatty acids without animal products!
The giveaway will remain open until Friday, August 19th at midnight. I’ll then choose three winners at random and post their names by Monday. Please be sure to come back on Monday and check whether or not you’ve won! If I don’t hear from the winners within a week of announcing them, I’ll choose new winner(s).
Good luck, everyone!
And if you’d like to try that amazing salad, here ‘s the recipe. 😀
Raw Sweet Potato and Greens Slaw (suitable for ACD all stages)
liberally adapted from VegKitchen
The minute I saw the recipe for Raw Sweet Potato and Cabbage Salad on Nava Atlas’s VegKitchen, I knew I had to try it. Grated raw sweet potato is perfect alongside these hearty shredded greens. I recombined Nava’s original ingredients in the blender for a creamy version of her dressing.
1/2 large sweet potato, peeled and grated
2 cups (480 ml) very thinly sliced dark leafy greens (I used a mix of chard and kale)
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup (120 ml) fresh cilantro
heaping 1/4 cup (70 ml) raw cashews
1 Tbsp (15 ml) extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil, preferably organic
2 tsp (10 ml) Nutra-Vege Omega 3 oil (or use more olive/avocado oil)
juice of one large lime, or more, to your taste
20 drops plain stevia liquid (or 2 tsp/10 ml agave nectar)
fine sea salt, to taste
1/2-1 tsp (2.5-5 ml) dried chili flakes, to your taste
Place the sweet potato, greens and green onion in a salad bowl and toss to distribute evenly. Set aside.
In a blender, combine the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth (you may need to add 1-2 Tbsp/15-30 ml water to achieve a pourable consistency).
Pour the dressing over the salad in the bowl and toss to coat well. Allow to sit for 20-30 minutes to allow the greens to soften a bit and for the flavors to blend. Makes 4-6 servings. Keep, covered in the refrigerator, up to 2 days.
And don’t forget: you can still submit your healthy recipe to this week’s Wellness Weekend, until midnight tomorrow (Monday)!
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