Ikea’s New Meatless Meatballs are Coming to Europe in August

Jon Porter wrote . . . . . . . . .

Ikea’s plant-based meatballs will be available in its roughly 290 European stores starting this August, with other markets set to follow a couple of months later. The so-called “plant ball,” which may or may not be the name on the menu, is designed to both look and taste like meat, but it’s made out of a combination of pea protein, oats, apples, and potatoes. Ikea says the plant ball has a climate footprint that’s 96-percent smaller than its traditional pork-and-beef meatballs. Last year Ikea sold over 1 billion meatballs.

This is not the first meat-free meatball that Ikea has introduced. It began selling a veggie meatball in 2015. However, it says that the new plant ball is designed for customers who want to eat less meat but “without compromising the familiar taste and texture of Ikea meatballs.” The plant balls will be available fresh in Ikea restaurants, where meatballs are typically served with the traditional mashed potatoes, lingonberries and cream sauce. Ikea also says you’ll be able to buy them frozen at their blue box stores to eat at home.

Ikea has also tried out vegetarian versions of its other food. Back in August 2018 the company introduced a vegetarian version of its hot dog, which it says it sold 10 million of in its first year on sale. Then in April 2019, it introduced a vegan version of its strawberry soft ice. [Ed. note: The veggie hotdog and vegan soft ice are confirmed delicious!]

In total, the retailer says that 680 million people ate its food in 2019, which could mean a huge carbon saving if a significant portion switch to plant-based or vegan food alternatives.

The plant ball is part of a wider environmental sustainability push at Ikea that it hopes will make its business climate positive by 2030, meaning that overall it wants to remove more carbon from the atmosphere than it emits. Other initiatives include sourcing the wood for its furniture from more sustainable sources, experimenting with refurbishing products, using more recycled materials, and testing the use of sustainable biofuel for shipping containers that transport its products.

Last year, Ikea says carbon emissions from its materials, production, supply chain, and use of products were down by 4.3 percent, despite sales increasing 6.5 percent. The retailer said this was the first time its environmental footprint has decreased while its business has grown. The use of renewable energy and increases in the environmental efficiency of its products were responsible for the reduced emissions, the company said.

Ikea isn’t the only company getting in on the fake meat craze. Over the past couple of years fast-food chains including Burger King, KFC, and Subway have all experimented with or rolled out plant-based versions of their traditionally meat dishes. Partners leading the way are meatless meat specialists Impossible Foods and Beyond Meat.

Source: The Verge

Beet Spaghettini with Toasted Walnuts and Cheese


3 large unpeeled red beetroots, about 1-1/2 lbs
4 large garlic cloves, peeled
8 fresh sage leaves, divided
3/4 cup water, divided
1 Tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp sea salt, plus extra
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus extra
1 lb pkg spaghettini
1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra
1/2 fennel bulb, finely diced, fronds reserved
1/4 cup crumbled blue cheese or feta
1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes


  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF (190ºC).
  2. Scrub beetroots thoroughly and cut into quarters. Place in ovenproof saucepan with tight-fitting lid. Add garlic, 4 sage leaves, and 1/4 cup water to pot. Cover tightly and bake in oven for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until beetroot wedges are very tender when pierced. Remove from oven and, with slotted spoon, remove beetroot to separate bowl to slightly cool. No need to peel.
  3. In high-speed blender, place beetroot wedges along with baked sage leaves and roasted garlic. Add 1/2 cup water, balsamic vinegar, sea salt, and pepper and pulse until mixture is creamy and thick enough to coat cooked pasta evenly. Add a splash more water if mixture appears too thick.
  4. Fill large saucepan with water and add generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil. Stir in spaghettini, and cook until al dente, about 6 minutes.
  5. Heat oil in skillet. Add diced fennel and gently saute over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until pale golden. Transfer to plate.
  6. In skillet, add a splash more oil, if needed, and add remaining sage leaves. Fry until crisp but not darkened. Set aside.
  7. Drain spaghettini well and return to saucepan. Pour beet sauce overtop and gently fold together to evenly coat until beautifully rosy coloured. Gently stir over low heat until warm.
  8. Serve warm in shallow bowls. Scatter diced fennel overtop. Top with crumbled cheese and toasted walnuts. Garnish with fennel fronds and add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes. Drizzle with a little extra balsamic and a splash of olive oil, if you wish, and serve piping hot.

Makes 4 servings.

Source: Alive magazine

In Pictures: Home-cooked Vegan Dishes

What Women Need to Know about Breast Cancer and Heart Disease

Red dresses and pink ribbons have helped millions of Americans become aware of the separate tolls heart disease and breast cancer take on women. But not everyone is aware of how the illnesses can intersect.

Heart disease – the No. 1 killer of women – can sometimes be a complication of breast cancer treatment. Older women who survive breast cancer are more likely to die of heart disease than a cancer recurrence.

Dr. Laxmi Mehta, who led the writing of a wide-ranging 2018 report on the two diseases, said the overlap exists on a spectrum.

Sometimes, cancer directly causes heart problems, such as when it causes fluid buildup around the heart. Much of the time, though, the problem comes from treatments targeting cancer.

Radiation therapy for breast cancer can lead to blocked heart arteries, heart valve issues and abnormal heart rhythms in some patients, Mehta said. She is professor of cardiovascular medicine and director of preventive cardiology and women’s cardiovascular health at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus. Chemotherapy and other cancer treatments can weaken the heart and lead to blood clots, high blood pressure and other issues.

Some issues show up soon after treatment, Mehta said. Others show up years down the line. These heart issues led to an emerging field called cardio-oncology to protect heart health while still providing the best cancer care.

Heart issues also can get in the way of treating breast cancer in some women.

“If they get a weakened heart muscle, in some people that means they have to stop treatment for a while until the heart recovers,” Mehta said. “Or, in other people, it might mean you can’t have that treatment at all.”

That can be emotionally taxing on a patient and her care team. “They’re already psychologically under a lot of stress with cancer treatment, and now we’re telling you, ‘By the way, your heart is a problem.’ Many patients will say, ‘I don’t care about my heart – just fix the cancer now!'” But both problems have to be addressed, she said.

The connection isn’t all bad news.

Heart disease and breast cancer share some risk factors, so lifestyle measures can help prevent both, said Dr. Debu Tripathy, professor and chair of the department of breast medical oncology at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

“The data is compelling enough that adopting the heart-healthy approach in terms of exercise and diet is good for both heart and breast cancer health,” whether you’re talking about preventing or surviving the conditions.

One way diet affects both diseases has to do with cells’ energy needs, Tripathy said.

“We all have pre-malignant cells in our body that are moving toward cancer,” he said. The immune system and other protective mechanisms fight a constant battle against these cells, either by tricking them into committing suicide or destroying them. “Every now and then the body gets overwhelmed, and that’s when you get cancer.”

But a healthy diet may provide backup to the immune system, preventing the pre-malignant cells from getting the extra energy they need to survive as cancer cells, he said. The excess energy also affects other processes such as inflammation and fat metabolism, which play a role in heart disease.

If diet and exercise are important for prevention, they remain important for people who have breast cancer, Mehta said.

Many people with cancer think they need to rest, she said. “And with chemo there are going to be days where it just drags you down and you can’t exercise. But the other days that you have some energy, just any little bit of physical activity – it’s not, ‘Go run a mile’ or anything – is so good for you.”

So is eating right.

“Many people just feel like, ‘I can just eat whatever I want. I’m on chemo,'” she said. “And that sometimes is necessary, because sometimes a lot of things aren’t palatable when you’re undergoing chemo. But when your appetite is better, you want to make sure you’re trying to eat heart-healthy as best as you can.”

Source: American Heart Association

Eating a Vegetarian Diet Rich in Nuts, Vegetables, Soy Linked to Lower Stroke Risk

People who eat a vegetarian diet rich in nuts, vegetables and soy may have a lower risk of stroke than people who eat a diet that includes meat and fish, according to a study published in the February 26, 2020, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

“Stroke is the second most common cause of death worldwide and a leading cause of disability,” said study author Chin-Lon Lin, M.D., of Tzu Chi University in Hualien, Taiwan. “Stroke can also contribute to dementia. If we could reduce the number of strokes by people making changes to their diets, that would have a major impact on overall public health.”

The study involved two groups of people from Buddhist communities in Taiwan where a vegetarian diet is encouraged, and smoking and drinking alcohol are discouraged. Approximately 30% of participants in both groups were vegetarians. Of the vegetarians, 25% were men. Researchers defined vegetarians as people who did not eat any meat or fish.

At the start of the study, the average age of all participants was 50 and none had experienced stroke. The first group of 5,050 people was followed for an average of six years. The second group of 8,302 people was followed for an average of nine years. Participants were given medical exams at the start of the study and asked about their diet.

Vegetarians ate more nuts, vegetables and soy than non-vegetarians and consumed less dairy. Both groups consumed the same amount of eggs and fruit. Vegetarians ate more fiber and plant protein. They also ate less animal protein and fat.

Researchers then looked at a national database to determine the numbers of strokes participants had during the course of the study.

In the first group of 5,050 people, there were 54 strokes. For ischemic strokes, which are strokes when blood flow to part of the brain is blocked, there were three strokes among 1,424 vegetarians, or 0.21%, compared to 28 strokes among 3,626 non-vegetarians, or 0.77%. After adjusting for age, sex, smoking and health conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes, researchers found vegetarians in this group had a 74% lower risk of ischemic stroke than non-vegetarians.

In the second group of 8,302 people, there were 121 strokes. For both ischemic and hemorrhagic strokes, also called bleeding strokes, there were 24 strokes among 2,719 vegetarians, or 0.88%, compared to 97 strokes among 5,583 non-vegetarians, or 1.73%. After adjusting for other factors, researchers found vegetarians in this group had a 48% lower risk of overall stroke than non-vegetarians, a 60% lower risk of ischemic stroke and a 65% lower risk of hemorrhagic stroke.

“Overall, our study found that a vegetarian diet was beneficial and reduced the risk of ischemic stroke even after adjusting for known risk factors like blood pressure, blood glucose levels and fats in the blood,” said Lin. “This could mean that perhaps there is some other protective mechanism that may protecting those who eat a vegetarian diet from stroke.”

One limitation of the study was that the diet of participants was only assessed at the start of the study, so it is not known if participants’ diets changed over time. Another limitation was that study participants did not drink or smoke, so results may not reflect the general population. Also, results from the study population in Taiwan may not be generalizable worldwide. Finally, there could be other factors, not accounted for, that might affect stroke risk.

Source: American Academy of Neurology

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