Nutrition Information

Plant-Plate-Infographic-201x300I am not a health professional, so I follow the recommendations of those who are, like registered dietitians Ginny Messina and Jack Norris. I find their book, Vegan for Life: Everything You Need to Know to Be Healthy and Fit on a Plant-Based Diet, to be a great reference; along with Ginny’s website, The Vegan RD, and Jack’s website, Jack Norris RD. To the left is a pictorial representation of their recommendations.

Please know that even though Ginny gave me permission to use “The Plant Plate” on my website, she and Jack are not reviewing my meal suggestions and share no responsibility for them, legally or otherwise.

I also recommend Dr. Michael Greger’s website,, for its wealth of information and for short daily nutrition videos or blogs. His book, How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease, was published in December, 2015, and is excellent.

Though an incomplete list, other great references are:

Dr. Neal Barnard, Power Foods for the Brain: An Effective 3-Step Plan to Protect Your Mind and Strengthen Your Memory, website: The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine

Drs. T. Colin Campbell and Thomas M Campbell II, The China Study, website: T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies

Dr. Caldwell B Esselstyn, Jr., Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease: The Revolutionary, Scientifically Proven, Nutrition-Based Cure, website: Dr. Esselstyn’s Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease Program

Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Eat to Live: The Amazing Nutrient-Rich Program for Fast and Sustained Weight Loss, Revised Edition, website: Dr. Joel Fuhrman

Dr. John and Mary McDougall, The Starch Solution: Eat the Foods You Love, Regain Your Health, and Lose the Weight for Good!  website: Dr. McDougall’s Health and Medical Center

Dr. Dean Ornish, Dr. Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease: The Only System Scientifically Proven to Reverse Heart Disease Without Drugs or Surgery, website: Ornish Lifestyle Medicine

Nutrition Information for Meal suggestions and recipes

I use the My Fitness Pal Food Database to calculate the nutrition information for each of the recipes and dinners I post. I do my best to ensure accuracy, but I cannot guarantee that all information is correct.

The truth about nutrition information is it’s close, but it’s not perfect. Take a sample of a grain from one field in one part of the country, test it, and the results won’t match a different sample from somewhere else. If you buy a different brand of an ingredient than I do, the nutrients won’t be exactly the same either. Please realize that if I write down that a serving has 423 calories, it might be 400 or 440 – ish. If you see a recipe has 379% of your RDA for Vitamin A, please don’t assume the number is 100% accurate, but please know that it has plenty of the vitamin. The Vitamin C content is also an estimate because it can be partially destroyed by heat. I rather arbitrarily assume that 50% of Vitamin C is lost by cooking or baking.

That being said, I try to pay extra attention to calcium because it’s easy to get insufficient calcium in a vegan meal (or any meal served in the U.S., for that matter). Here are the assumptions I make when calculating the calcium content of a recipe: If I list non-dairy milk as an ingredient, I assume you will buy unsweetened soy milk that is calcium-fortified with at least 30% of the RDA, or 300 mg, for each cup of milk. If you purchase another non-dairy milk, please make sure it is fortified with at least 300 mg calcium per cup; and whatever you buy, shake the container, as calcium tends to settle on the bottom. Also know that if you are buying rice milk, almond milk, or another alternative instead of soy milk, you aren’t getting as much protein as the recipe states.

Another good source of calcium is tofu, but only if it is made with calcium sulfate. There are brands that use magnesium chloride (nigari) instead of calcium sulfate. I will assume that you will buy calcium-set tofu.

Typically you will see greens in a meal suggestion. They are probably the most nutrient dense foods you can eat, and they are great sources of calcium. I assume that for every pound of greens called for in a recipe, you will toss out 4 ounces of thick stalks.

Although I am concerned about getting enough calcium, I am also concerned about getting too much salt. I assume that you will use broth and beans with no added salt. Please rinse canned beans well. Sodium sneaks into meals in some unexpected places. For instance, 2 tablespoons of any purchased salsa will contain about 200 mg sodium. Considering that the American Heart Association recommends that those with heart disease limit their sodium consumption to 1500 mg per day, it’s easy to consume too much if you aren’t carefully reading nutrition labels.

When I am calculating nutrition information for a recipe that lists several ingredient options, I use the first ingredient to calculate nutrition information. If ingredients are optional, I do not include them in nutrition calculations. If you make some changes to a recipe, you will change its nutritional content. If you have questions about equivalent substitutes, please contact me.

I do my best to ensure that nutrition information is calculated correctly, but in no way do I guarantee that all information is 100% accurate.

Why No Lettuce in Salads?

There are only a few times that I recommend eating lettuce as the primary green in a salad. Why? Lettuce contains so much less calcium than greens like kale. The same goes for spinach, Swiss chard and beet greens because the oxalic acid they contain binds with calcium, preventing it from being absorbed. See the table below for the approximate calcium content in 1/4 pound (114 grams) of greens:

Greens Calcium Lettuces Calcium
Arugula 180 mg Butter Leaf 60 mg
Basil 170 mg Green Leaf 40 mg
Bok Choy 120 mg Iceberg 20 mg
Collards 260 mg Mache 50 mg
Kale 170 mg Red Leaf 40 mg
Mustard Greens 130 mg Romaine 30 mg
Parsley 160 mg
Turnip Greens 220 mg
Watercress 140 mg

Calcium Sources Other Than Leafy Greens

What if you really, really don’t like these leafy greens and you just want to eat the more tender lettuces? Here are some other choices of calcium-rich foods:

Food Calcium
Adzuki Beans, 1 cup cooked 60 mg
Almond Butter, 2 Tbsp 110 mg
Almonds, 1/4 cup 90 mg
Amaranth, 1 cup cooked 120 mg
Apricots, dried 1/2 cup 40 mg
Blackberries, 1 cup 40 mg
Black Currants, 1 cup 60 mg
Brazil Nuts, 1/4 cooked 50 mg
Broccoli, 1 cup cooked 40 mg
Butternut Squash, 1 cup cooked 80 mg
Cabbage, red or green, 1/4 pound 50 mg
Carrots, 2 medium 40 mg
Celery, 1 cup chopped 40 mg
Chickpeas, 1 cup cooked 80 mg
Fennel, 1 cup raw 40 mg
Figs, dried, 1/2 cup 120 mg
Great Northern Beans, 1 cup cooked 120 mg
Kiwi, 1 cup 60 mg
Leeks, 1 cup raw 50 mg
Molasses, 2 Tbsp 40 mg
Navy Beans, 1 cup cooked 130 mg
Orange, 2 7/8″ diameter 60 mg
Orange Juice, fortified, 1 cup 350 mg
Pinto Beans, 1 cup cooked 80 mg
Prunes, 1 cup 70 mg
Smoked Tofu, 3 oz 300 mg
Soybeans, 1 cup cooked 180 mg
Sweet Potato, 1 cup cooked 90 mg
Tahini, 2 Tbsp 120 mg
Tofu, firm, calcium-set, 3 oz 150 mg

*Varies by brand.

What About Oil, Nuts and (Earth Balance or other) Margarine?

My husband and I follow the recommendations of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, so I do not cook with any added fats. Whether you eat added fats or not is totally up to you.

Dr. Esselstyn also recommends that people with heart disease do not eat nuts. Because nuts contain many nutrients and add delicious flavor and creaminess to recipes, I will include recipes with nuts on my site, and I will tell you what I use for substitutes.

Researchers are constantly learning more about nutrition. Twenty years from now we might be saying, “Can you believe we used to eat that?!” But for now all we can do is to follow current scientific recommendations, while keeping our hearts and minds open to new evidence as it is presented.

I’ll try my best to keep up with new research, especially regarding heart disease. If you have any questions, please contact me. I’ll try to find the answer.