Nutrients You May Be Lacking in a Vegan Diet

Nutrients you may be low in if you are VEGAN


While studies have shown that there may be many health benefits to a vegan lifestyle, there may be potential health risks in store if you are not eating the right combination of foods and are not getting all the nutrients your body requires for optimal health.


Documentaries, social media and overall planet and health awareness have increased the popularity of living a vegan lifestyle at a very fast rate over the past decade.  While years ago it was difficult to find premade foods or a restaurant that would cater to a vegan lifestyle, now it is more unusual to notfind several animal product free options in both grocery stores and trendy restaurants alike.


And while there is plenty of scientific research that encourages cutting out (or even reducing) animal products from your diet to promote positive changes in your health, there is a risk that you may not be getting optimal amounts of all the essential nutrients your body needs from your food alone.


Organic, pasture raised, high quality meat, fish and eggs provide certain nutrients that are very difficult to get from a plant based way of eating.  While I am not suggesting that you need to abandon a vegan lifestyle, you should be aware of what nutrients you could be missing.


Listed below are the top nutrients you might be lacking along with hints of how you can find ways to add them back into your diet.


B12 – Studies show that vegans (and vegetarians) have a higher risk of having B12 deficiency than those who eat meat.  Symptoms of deficiency include low energy, muscle weakness, pale skin and mucous membranes.  B12 is needed for the formation of normal red blood cells, a healthy nervous system, growth in children and is essential for mental health.


It is mostly found in meat, fish and eggs and is therefore a hard one to get in a vegan diet.  Vegan options for B12 sources are either foods that are fortified with B12 such as some plant milks, soy products and breakfast cereals, or supplementation.  If you choose to supplement, do your research.  Not all supplements are created equal and many have unnecessary (and unhealthy) fillers and additives.


Iron – Iron is necessary for the formation of hemoglobin in bone marrow, for carrying oxygen in the blood and to make new DNA and red blood cells.  It is also key for energy metabolism which is why one of the main symptoms of iron deficiency is fatigue.  Other symptoms include paleness, headaches and dizziness.  While animal sources of iron (heme iron) is more readily absorbable by the body, there are plenty of non-heme, or plant based, sources of iron as well.  These include nuts and seeds, beans, lentils, tofu and potato skin.


Omega 3’s – Omega 3’s are one of the essential fatty acids that our bodies need for a variety of functions.  They are essential because our body cannot make them – they must be obtained from food.  While the best source of Omega 3 is through fish, vegans can get Omega 3 from flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts.  There are also many plant based Omega 3 supplements available. Omega 3 is an important fatty acid that increases blood flow, can improve symptoms of depression, is beneficial for the skin, lowers blood pressure and is essential for a healthy brain among other things.  Omega 3’s are also anti-inflammatory which can protect the body from many inflammation related diseases.


Vitamin D – This is a very common deficiency in all people whether you are vegan or not.  Most of our vitamin D is manufactured by our bodies via cholesterol in our skin when it is exposed to sunlight.  Vitamin D is responsible for regulating calcium and phosphorous metabolism and normal calcification of our teeth and bones.  It is also helpful in maintaining the nervous system, normal blood clotting and supports a health immune system.  Best sources of vitamin D are fatty fish, beef liver, eggs and cheese which again is not in a vegan’s favour.  If you are vegan it is best to take a supplement to ensure you are getting enough of this important vitamin.  It is important to note that vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin meaning it needs to be taken with a source of fat in order for our bodies to properly absorb and use it effectively.


Protein – Last but most certainly  not least is protein.  Protein is often overlooked by vegans as something to look out for because it is well known that many plant products contain protein.  What is often less known is that the majority of plant products do not contain a complete protein profile which is why combining the right types of plant based protein is so very important.


Protein is composed of amino acids – the building blocks of protein.  There are 22 amino acids and 9 of them are considered essential, meaning the body cannot make them and they must be obtained from food.  Every tissue and organ in the body is made up of protein. It makes up nails, hair, muscles, tendons, ligaments and many other body structures.  If our bodies do not take in adequate protein for its needs, it will breakdown our muscles and reassemble those amino acids for growth and healing.  Protein also balances blood sugar, can increase energy, increase muscle tone and stabilizes mood.


Deficiency symptoms include excess fluid retention, nausea and dizziness, low immunity, muscle wasting, low hormone levels, dull hair, poor wound healing and more.  While the most obvious sources of protein are meat, fish and eggs, protein is also found in beans, grains, nuts and seeds, vegetables and fruit.  Combining these plant based items in the right way is what will ensure you are getting the entire amino acid profile that your body needs.  Here’s how you do it:


Combine beans with:

-brown rice

-nuts & seeds




-sweet potato


Combine brown rice with:



-nuts & seeds


Combine other grains with:




-leafy greens


Don’t be fooled that nutrient deficiencies only occur to vegans – even plenty of meat eaters can have significant nutrient imbalances that can lead to a host of health issues. The best way to prevent any nutrient deficiency is to eat a variety of real, whole foods.  Eat the rainbow and continuously rotate through different vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds and healthy whole grains like brown rice and quinoa.


If you would like help creating a balanced meal plan – whether you are a vegan or not – please check out the services offered on my website at www.besimplyfed.comor send me an email to There is no one size fits all method of eating and I would love to help you find the best way of eating that will have you experiencing optimal health.


The Fine Print

Do you read food labels? If not, you are not alone! Many people get drawn in by the claims the large print says on the package: 100% whole wheat! Contains 20% of the recommended daily intake of fibre! All Natural Ingredients!
But what is really inside some of the most commonly consumed foods? Let’s take a closer look at one of the most common staples for lunch – sandwich bread. We’ve all had sandwiches. And most likely many of us have made sandwiches for our own kids using this very brand of bread I’m talking about today. What I found in the ingredients is exactly why we need to be reading the fine print on everything we eat.
Aside from the gut irritating gluten, the added sugar/glucose-frutose and the soybean and/or canola oil (the fact that they can’t definitively say which one was used is in itself concerning) there are two ingredients that stood out to me and should be avoided.
1) AZODICARBONAMIDE: This is an industrial chemical used to make yoga mats, shoe rubber and synthetic leather. And yet it is in our BREAD. It is used as a dough conditioner in bread and other baked goods.
This chemical has been banned in Europe, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand and has been found to cause hyperactivity, asthma, insomnia, food allergies and other adverse reactions.
2) CALCIUM PROPIONATE: This is an anti fungal that is added to bread and other baked goods to prevent mould growth. It is claimed that small amounts seem to be okay however, chronic exposure, especially in children eating it daily in sandwiches, etc, has been linked to irritability, restlessness, inattention, sleep disturbances, behaviour and learning problems, skin irritations, migraines and food intolerances.
The bottom line is that commercial bread is adding all kinds of things to the bread that is unnecessary and can cause some scary health issues.
This post is not to say that bread is bad. It is only to bring awareness to what we are putting in our own mouths and the mouths of our children and to get back to eating real, whole foods. Traditional bread that our grandma’s made contained 4 things: flour, water, yeast and salt, not this long list of additives and chemicals.
Have a great homemade bread recipe you’d like to share? I’d love to see it – please post it in comments!

Health Renovation

Have you ever renovated your house or a room in your house?  It’s a big job.  A whole house renovation goes through many stages, it takes time to see the final result and a whole lot of work goes into the process.  When you see before and after pictures it looks fast, easy and painless but for those who have lived through it you know it’s anything but. It’s a process.

Before spending time and money renovating, the first thing to ensure is that the foundation, electrical and plumbing is intact.  Only then do you start patching walls, painting and filling the house with more permanent fixtures.

Renovating a home takes patience.  Lots and lots of patience.  But at the end, when everything works perfectly and looks just the way you imagined, it all becomes worth it.

Renovating a house is similar to renovating yourself.  The word renovation isn’t often heard in conjunction with health but I think that’s really how we should be looking at it.  It is often called a health “transformation” as though it’s as simple as snapping your fingers and ta-da – you’re transformed – but it is a process, too. It does not happen overnight.  It takes hard work, time and dedication.

Sure, you can do a quick “renovation” – throw paint on the walls, hang some curtains – but if you neglect the leaking plumbing or the poor electrical then you will end up having to rip out and undo all of the work you did later on.

It’s the same thing for quick fix health solutions.  You can mask symptoms or lose a quick 10 pounds with one of the many fad diets but if you don’t heal the underlying issues like the foundation (gut, digestive system), plumbing (detoxification/elimination pathways) and electrical (brain, nervous system) you will end up with the same or worse health issues later on.

Take the time to do it right.  Get to the root of the issue.  Heal the gut. Start to absorb the nutrients you eat. Detoxify and support the liver. Create a sustainable, lifelong health plan.

If you’re ready to begin a health renovation, I can help.  My Health Renovation 6 Week Program begins January 14, 2019.

What exactly is the Health Renovation Program all about? In 6 weeks you will learn:

-how to heal the gut and repair your digestive system

-what foods are inflammatory and cause damage to your gut and digestive system

-what foods support healing and disease prevention

-how to support your liver and detoxification process

-what foods promote healthy elimination (bowel movements)

-how to enable your body to handle stress more efficiently and support your nervous system

-how to create simple meals for yourself that are healthy, nutritious, sustainable and delicious

-how simple lifestyle changes can positively enhance your health

What else do you get?

-access to an online community support group where you can ask questions, share recipes and connect with like-minded individuals

-a detailed powerpoint presentation that clearly outlines all the topics and aspects that you will learn as outlined up above

-unlimited communication with me via email/messenger regarding any and all questions you may have throughout the duration of the challenge

The challenge begins JANUARY 14, 2019.  The cost is $35.  Take charge of your health and join me for this lifechanging challenge.  Register by January 7 and receive a free 10 day meal plan plus 5 healthy snack ideas and tips for kitchen essentials!

Signing up is easy!  Simply click here to send me an email to get started!


You Are What You Eat – or ARE You?


You’ve all heard the expression you are what you eat.  But I like to say you are what you absorb.  The vast majority of people have issues with their gut.  Years of eating processed foods, foods exposed to toxins from pesticides and pollution, or eating allergen containing foods can all lead to problems with the gut making it difficult for your body to digest and breakdown foods and absorb the required nutrients.

What exactly is digestion and absorption?  Digestion is the process in which your body breaks down the food you eat into smaller components that can be absorbed.  Absorption is the transferring of the food components into the bloodstream to be circulated to all parts of the body.


Causes of Poor Absorption


  • Low stomach acid – low stomach acid is caused by stress, diet that is high in meat and refined grains, chlorinated water, antacids, coffee and nicotine.
  • Dysbiosis – an imbalance of the “good” and “bad” bacteria in the gut. Dysbiosis is caused by a high sugar diet, antibiotic usage, birth control pill, steroid medications.
  • Dehydration – water is a necessary component of breaking down food particles.


What You Can Do


Luckily, the body wants to repair itself and we can help our bodies become better at digesting and absorbing foods again.  Here’s what you do:


Foods to Eat:

-fresh squeezed lemon juice and water first thing in the morning

-whole foods as much as possible

-lots of brightly coloured fruits and vegetables

-probiotic foods daily

-protein at all 3 meals



Foods to Avoid/Decrease:

-wheat and wheat containing products

-dairy products

-sugar and products containing sugar (high fructose corn syrup etc)

-processed foods

-additives, preservatives, dyes, artificial ingredients




Also, avoid eating when you are rushed, stressed or upset and try not to eat too close to bedtime.  Taking these steps can ensure that you are making the most of the food that you put into your body and can set yourself up for optimal health.

Paleo “Butter” Chicken

I don’t know about you – but I absolutely LOVE Indian food.  The combination of spices just makes my mouth water even thinking about it!  And the lovely aroma that fills the house when everything simmers on the stove….heavenly.

While I love Indian food, I don’t always love how it makes me feel.  I follow the Paleo diet fairly consistently and as such, don’t cook with dairy – which makes it difficult to make butter chicken by following all of the recipes you can find online.  After years of tweaking recipes found online and by trial and error in my own kitchen, I have come up with the best dairy free butter chicken recipe (seriously, it is the BEST).  It is flavourful, it is creamy, it is rich and the combination of the spices is delicious.

Without further ado, here is the recipe!

butter chicken

What you need:
2 tsp avocado oil (or extra virgin olive oil)
8 boneless chicken thighs (breasts taste delicious in this recipe, too!)
1 tbsp garam masala
1/2 white onion, finely diced
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1-2 tsp fresh ginger, grated
2 1/2 tsp curry powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp dried coriander
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2-1 tsp cayenne
1/8 tsp cinnamon
3 cups tomato sauce
2 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 small head of cauliflower (cut into florets)
1 can of coconut milk (400ml)
pinch of salt and pepper
4-5 dashes of tobasco (if you like things hot!)

What you do:

  1. Preheat oven to 365 degrees.
  2. While it is heating, wash and cut sweet potatoes, cauliflower, onion and prepare garlic and ginger.
  3. Place chicken thighs (or breasts) on baking sheet and sprinkle both sides with garam masala.  If using breasts, cut them in half.
  4. Cook chicken 20-25 minutes.
  5. While chicken is cooking, preheat skillet over medium high and add in avocado or olive oil.  Once hot, add onion and sauce 5-7 minutes until it softens.  Then, add garlic, ginger, curry, coriander, cumin, turmeric and cayenne and stir until fragrant (about 30 sec).
  6. Add tomato sauce and sweet potatoes.  Cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes until sweet potato starts to soften.
  7. By now chicken should be done in oven.  Take it out and cut it into bite sized pieces.
  8. Pour coconut milk into skillet and nestle chicken and cauliflower in.  Cover and cook until cauliflower softens, about 7-8 minutes).
  9. Add cinnamon and tobasco and stir to mix.
  10. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  11. ENJOY!  This tastes delicious on it’s own or served over cauliflower rice or regular rice if you eat grains.

Please leave me a note in comments if you try the recipe and let me know what you think!