I have come across common questions that many of us have in mind. I compile the below questions for the ease of reference.
Q: My child is allergic to cow’s milk. What are the alternative plant based milk I can give to him?
I would recommend soy based milk that fulfils certain criteria. Keep a look out for whole soy bean, non GMO and de-skinned soy bean formulation and avoid labels that read “soy protein isolates”, “soy protein concentrates” as these by-products of soybeans are processed by using hexane or other solvents to remove the oil (which can be sold as cooking oil or oil to be added to other processed foods), and then we take what’s left over (defatted soy flour) and either
- (1) combine it with other proteins to make animal feed or
- (2) wash it with water to create soy protein concentrate. SPI is used in many infant soy formula.
All of the above processing steps create a soy product that is very different from the soybeans’ whole food form. What we do know is that protein isolates are not natural, and lacks the wholesome goodness of soy. What we don’t know is the long term effects of consuming something that has been altered by man. Hence my personal preference would be always to look for whole non GMO soy bean, deskinned. (Info about SPI extraction taken from here)
With the above, I do avoid commercial soy formulations that uses SPI.
Q: What is the next best Alternative I can give to my child below 1 and above 1 year old?
- Below one, above 6 months
A suitable plant based milk e.g. non GMO deskinned whole soy milk + foods high in natural fats, e.g. , or chia seeds (latter 2 for the omega 3 fatty acids) + fruits and vegetables 🙂 (I’m reconstructing “formula milk” using *natural whole food* here)
For brand recommendation of plant based milk, refer here.
- Above one
Milk would be more of a comfort food and the nutrients should ideally come from our everyday food. 🙂 If looking for milk supplementation, still get a suitable plant based milk until when u are comfortable enough that your kid is eating well (keep the good fats going, protein, at least 5 different types of fruits and veg daily). Just make sure there’s a wide variety of food in the diet to support good vegetables and fats nutrients 🙂💪🏻
- Below 6 months
In my opinion, there aren’t any good alternatives in the market for kids below 6 months, and breast milk is best. What to do in the event that the child is looking for an alternate milk, I would think that it is purely situational. I would have looked for donor milk.
Vegetable Cooking Oil
Q: Is Vegetable Oil healthy, and how does it compare to saturated fats?
Our human brain is the fattest organ in our body with nearly 60 percent fat. It is no wonder that fats are very important in our diet and it is crucial to eat the right type of fats. An upset in our fat balance could subject our health to chronic inflammations which will open the door to more diseases and our brain, the central control system of the body, is certainly not spared.
The best type of fats are those that are found unaltered in whole food such as Avocados, nuts.
Cooking with oils add full body flavor to our food, and has become a part of our modern diet. However, not all oils are created equal. It is thus pertinent that we choose the right type of cooking oil, in particular, paying attention to the below properties
- Omega 6: Omega 3 Ratio of 4:1 at max.
- Omega 9 content
- Mode of extraction
- Smoke Point
The consensus about benefits of saturated fats is mixed. There are ongoing studies that indicate that it is essential yet studies that show that it is detrimental to health. While the battle continues, I would take Saturated fats in moderation and continue my cooking with a good Vegetable Oil.
For more info on Vegetable Oil, refer here.
For brand recommendation of Vegetable Oil, refer here.
Q: What are the sides effects of excessive Omega 6 in relation to Omega 3?
Grapes are prized for its high antioxidants. There had been a fad for extracted Grapeseed Oil, which, has a high smoke point, and it is prized at a premium. However the Omega 6: Omega 3 ratio in Grapeseed Oil is also very high. One store label I saw puts it to be at 223:1 (Omega 6: Omega 3), whereas our ideal ratio should be 4:1 to 1:1. Excessive Omega 6 is thought to be pro-inflammatory, and excessive inflammation has been thought to increase the risk of cardiovascular, autoimmune and degenerative diseases.
Q: Baking often involves temperature that is higher than 200 degC. Would our food be subjected to the same temperatures?
There’s a difference between oven baking (indirect heating) and direct flames (put on stove for frying). Baking in the oven at 220degC means the air in the oven has been heated up to 220degC. If you measure the temperature of the food you are cooking, it is quite unlikely to reach this temperature for typical baking applications. Heat is absorbed by the water in the food to cook it (a lot of energy to do that, and the boiling point of water is 100 degC). We need to supply enough energy to first evaporate all the water in our food before the temperature increases even further. You might want to measure the temperature of your baked good the next time you cook it in an oven.
Granted, if you put your dish long enough in the oven, it becomes charcoal and you will eventually see smoke