Author Archives: Debbie

Why You Should Eat Whole Grains

grains

Various Whole Grains

We are often told to eat whole grains, but do you really know why?  Some of the benefits of eating whole grains that have been found in repeated studies and recent studies are:

  • Stroke risk reduced by 30-36%
  • Type 2 diabetes risk reduced by 21-30%
  • Heart disease risk reduced by 25-28%
  • Better weight maintenance
  • Reduced risk of asthma
  • Healthier carotid arteries
  • Reduction of inflammatory disease risk
  • Lower risk of colorectal cancer
  • Healthier blood pressure levels
  • Less gum disease and tooth loss
  • Boosts your immune system

Whole grains are filled with dietary fiber which most people don’t get enough of.  They are also full of Vitamin B, folate, iron, magnesium, selenium and other essential vitamins and nutrients.   If you have any of the problems listed above or need improvement in, it is definitely worth adding whole grains to what you eat.  Some of the different whole grains you can choose from are Amaranth, Barley, Farro, Kamut, Buckwheat, Millet, Oats, Bulgur, Corn, Quinoa, Rice (black, brown, red, wild),  Wheat, Rye, Sorghum, Spelt, and whole wheat pasta and breads.

The fiber in whole grains breaks down more slowly to keep your digestive system working, which helps reduce cramps, gas, and that uncomfortable bloated feeling that makes you feel sluggish and tired.  However,  if you’re not used to eating whole grains, don’t suddenly inundate your system with to much at once because that can actually cause more bloating. Gradually add these various grains to your diet along with plenty of water until you body is able to tolerate your fiber increase.  You can mix brown or black rice in with the white rice you eat.  Add some barley or other type of grain to your soup.   When baking, substitute half of the flour with whole wheat pastry flour.  Add some uncooked whole oats to bread recipes and meatloaf or meatballs.  Be creative in finding ways to add more whole grains to your meals for a healthier life.

I eat mostly whole grains, but felt I needed some more so I found a whole grain medley at my local grocery store.  There are all kinds of grains in the isle with the rice and beans.  This medley has brown rice, rye, bulgar, wheat, red quinoa, and wild rice.  All you have to do is boil 1-1/2 cups of water and then add one cup of the medley and let it cook on low for about 30 minutes.  I store this in the refrigerator and every morning I scoop some out, add vanilla almond milk and heat it up in the microwave.  Then I add walnuts and fruit.  I like blueberries or any kind of berries or bananas.  If I happen to be out of fresh fruit, I add whatever dried fruit I have such as raisins, dried cranberries or apricots.  This simple and quick breakfast has made a huge difference in how I feel for the rest of the day.   Since I don’t usually have 30 minutes to cook this in the morning, I just make it while I am making dinner and then I have breakfast made for almost a week as well.  The mixture of these grains gives it a nutty and slightly sweet flavor but if you like, you could always add a little honey if you want to sweeten it up more.  This breakfast is more filling than cereal and I feel like it gives me more nutrients and minerals that just eating oatmeal.   You can mix your own grains together if there are some you like more than others.

I hope you decide to add more whole grains to your diet.  Your body will thank you.

Bean Sloppy Joe’s

Healthy Sloppy Joe

Bean Sloppy Joe

I have always loved a good Sloppy Joe sandwich.  The other day it just seemed like a Sloppy Joe day to me, so I pulled out several recipes but none of them really appealed to me.  I decided to take what I liked about each one and make my own recipe.

Since I don’t eat meat, I have to substitute the meat with something else.  Vegetable protein can be okay, but I didn’t have any and decided I would just use beans.

We talk a lot about eating fruits and vegetables, but I don’t think beans get the recognition they deserve.  There are many reasons to add beans to your diet.  The five reasons I think are the most important are:

1.  Beans help prevent heart disease.  Beans contain a high quantity of phytochemicals which help keep your heart healthy.

2.  Beans help prevent cancer.  Beans contain a high concentration of cancer fighting chemicals called phytosterols and isoflavones.

3.  Beans help lower cholesterol.  Beans are high in fiber which is essential for good intestinal health.  Fiber is also crucial in controlling cholesterol levels.  Researchers found that 1/2 to 1 1/2 cups of beans provides about 10 grams of fiber.  That is the same amount of fiber it takes to reduce cholesterol levels by about 10%.  Beans also contain phytosterols and saponins which help reduce cholesterol.

4.  Beans help with weight loss.  Because of the high fiber content in beans, it takes your body longer to digest.  This makes you feel full longer.  The fiber in beans also causes your blood sugar to rise more slowly so you don’t get hungry as quickly and provides you with more energy.

5.  Beans help manage diabetes.  Because of the unique combination of protein and complex carbs, beans release glucose more slowly so that your body can adjust to the influx.  This is preferable to the sudden rush of sugar that a diabetic experiences after eating a meal of simple carbohydrates.

I hope you enjoy with recipe.  As with any recipe, feel free to add or subtract the seasonings to your own taste.

Sloppy Joe

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped pepper (any color or mixed colors)
  • 3/4 cup chopped carrots
  • 2 (14 ounce) cans of beans (I used black and pinto – use whatever you like)
  • 1 Tbls brown sugar
  • 1 Tbls yellow prepared mustard
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 16 ounces of tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Saute the vegetables in olive oil until tender.  Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Serve on a whole wheat (or grain) roll/bun to get your whole grains in.

Enjoy!

How to Avoid GMOs When Eating Out

What has GMOs?

What has GMOs?

The video below contains a wealth of knowledge from Jeffrey Smith who is the founder of the Institute for Responsible Technology.  He takes us to a restaurant buffet and explains how you can try to stir clear of GMOs.  There are essentially only nine products that are GMO at this time.  Those are soy, corn, cotton, canola, sugar beets, alfalfa, zucchini, yellow squash and papaya (if grown in Hawaii or China).  However, some of those foods, especially soy and corn can show up in many different ways.  They can also show up in meat, depending on the feed the animals are given.

As he states, almost all vegetables and fruits have been genetically modified in a lab, they just haven’t yet come to market.  Let’s hope they never do.

I hope you take the time to watch this video.  It will help you understand better how to avoid the GMOs when eating out as well as what to look for when purchasing food from your local grocery store.

Click here to watch the video

 

Beet Hummus

Beets

Beets

I know beet hummus probably sounds a little strange.  That is what I thought when I first came across the recipe below, but it is actually quite good.  My husband had made a beet dish and we had a few beets left over.  I was searching for a recipe to use the rest of them without having to buy another bundle.  For me beets have been an acquired taste, but made the right way they are delicious and very good for you.  All I had ever had growing up was canned beets and that just didn’t endear me to beets.  I was skeptical about them being good at all until I had my first bowl of borscht.   Now I am a convert.

Beets can help lower your blood pressure, sometimes in just a matter of hours.  Just drinking one glass of beet juice may lower the systolic blood pressure by an average of 4-5 points.  Beets have naturally occurring nitrates that convert into nitric oxide in the body.  This in turn helps to relax and dilate blood vessels which improves the flow of blood and lowers blood pressure.  This same conversion of nitrates into nitric oxide in the body may help give you more stamina during exercise.  People who drank beet juice prior to exercise were able to exercise for 16% longer.

Beets help fight inflammation, protect internal organs, and improve vascular risk factors.  Beets contain betaine, which is a nutrient that helps protect cells, proteins and enzymes from environmental stress.  Beets also contain phytonutrients which give them their dark crimson color and is thought to help reduce the chances of getting cancer.

Beets contain vitamin C, fiber, potassium, manganese and the B vitamin folate.  The betalin pigments in beets help in detoxification.

Also, don’t throw those beet greens (or stems) away.  They contain protein, phosphorus, zinc, fiber, vitamin B6, potassium, magnesium,  copper, and manganese.  They also have more vitamin A, C, calcium and iron than spinach.  We chopped them up and sauteed them in a little olive oil but they would be great added to your smoothie as well.

To get the recipe for beet hummus, just click on this link.

Enjoy!

 

 

Kale and Sweet Potato Salad

Fresh Kale

Fresh Kale

You may already know what a super food kale is.  I almost decided not to write about it because the grocery stores I shop at for kale are having a hard time keeping it in stock so there are times when I can’t get it.  It seems like everyone is rushing in for some kale.  However, if you have not joined the kale rage and don’t know how good it is for you, here are just a few of the benefits of kale.

Kale is packed with fiber and phytonutrients which helps in detoxifying your body.  Kale is high in vitamin C which boosts your immune system, helps with joint health, and increases metabolism.  Kale contains vitamin A for eye and skin health, and vitamin K for bone health.  Kale also contains potassium and iron Kale lowers cholesterol and reduces the risk of heart disease. 

Kale only has 36 calories per cup and no fat.  Kale is calcium rich and calorie for calorie contains more calcium than milk.  It is also high in iron, which is needed for proper cell growth and calorie for calorie, it contains more iron than beef.  Kale can help fight inflammation in the body like arthritis and other autoimmune disorders.

With that being said, there is one caution before you start eating to much kale.  If you are taking certain medications like anticoagulants, high doses of vitamin K can hurt the functionality of the drugs. It also contains oxalates. Even though these are natural, they can interfere with the way the body absorbs calcium. So, you may want to talk to your doctor about how much kale you can safely eat if you are on medication.

Kale is very versatile and I use it in salads, soups and smoothies.  Below is a recipe I found as I was flipping through a magazine one day.  It sounded interesting and I have since made is several times because I enjoyed it so much.  Kale paired with sweet potatoes and you have nutrition overload!  I hope you enjoy this salad.

Mustardy Kale Salad with Roasted Sweet Potato and Apple

  • 2 sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds), cut into 3/4 inch pieces
  • 6 Tbls Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 3 Tbls fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tbls Dijon mustard
  • 2 bunches of kale, stem removed and torn into bite-size pieces (about 10 cups)
  • 1 Pink Lady or Honeycrisp apple, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cups chopped roasted almonds

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Toss the sweet potatoes with 2 tablespoons of the oil and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper on 2 rimmed baking sheets.  Roast, rotating the sheets and tossing the potatoes halfway through, until lightly browned and tender, 18 to 20 minutes.  Let cool slightly.

Meanwhile, whisk together the lemon juice, mustard, the remaining 4 tablespoons of oil and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Add the kale and rub together with clean hands to tenderize and coat the leaves.  (Massaging the kale helps break down tough fibers.  Because of its sturdy texture, kale can be dressed up to 2 days in advance.  Add the remaining ingredients just before serving).

Add the apple, almonds and sweet potatoes and toss to combine.

 

Would You Like Azodicarbonamide With That?

ADA with that?

ADA with that?

You may have heard of Vani Hari, also know as the Food Babe.  She started a petition to get Subway to eliminate azodicarbonamide, also known as ADA, from their bread.  ADA is a chemical foaming agent which is mixed into polymer gels to make plastics that are spongy, strong and light such as yoga mats and flip-flops.   ADA is also used in breads and many baked goods as a dough conditioner.  It makes breads fluffier and makes shipping and storing of these breads easier.

Subway was targeted over McDonalds, Wendy’s, Starbuck’s, and most other chains who also use this chemical agent in their breads and baked goods  because Vani says that Subway promotes their foods as being healthier.  If you like Subway, the good new is that they took this petition seriously and have removed this chemical agent from their breads.

The FDA approved ADA as a food additive in 1962.  They say that it is not known to be toxic to people in the amounts approved by the FDA.  I guess that would also depend on how many breads and baked goods you are eating as to whether you were consuming to much or not.  Workers who handle large volumes of ADA have reported respiratory problems and skin sensitivities.  ADA is not approved for use in food in Australia or the European Union.

Although the FDA has allowed this chemical to be added to food, many companies are now trying to find alternatives to this chemical by using real foods that are not synthetic or just another chemical no one knows anything about yet.

We have been ingesting this chemical for over 50 years now and some people would say that it hasn’t caused them any problems.  Can you be sure about that?  With ADA plus all the other chemical and synthetic additives to our foods, how do we know that some of the cancers and other diseases are not a direct result of these chemicals?  I for one, have a hard time with the thought of eating the same product that goes into my yoga mat or flip-flops.  It just wasn’t meant to be.

The link below tells more about ADA, but at the bottom of the article is a list of 500 foods that contain ADA.  It is listed by the brand name and the product.  I am sure this is just a small list but you may want to check it out to see if anything you consume regularly is on the list.  Also, be sure to check the ingredient list for azodicarbonamide or ADA the next time you purchase a bread or baked good product.

Click here for more information

White Bean Dip

White Bean Dip

White Bean Dip

I like beans, also known as legumes, and usually eat them in some form every day.  They have been called the “poor people’s meat” because they are rich in protein, but they don’t have the fat.   Since I don’t eat meat, this works great for me.  They are inexpensive and there are so many different kinds of beans.  They can be cooked in soups, mixed with pasta sauce and served over pasta or grains, added to salads, made into hummus dips or just seasoned and eaten as a side dish.  The options are endless.

Other than just supplying protein, beans are an important part of your diet.  Beans have lots of nutrients thаt can  hеlр lower your  cholesterol. Beans may аlѕο hеlр іn reducing уουr risks οf developing coronary heart disease.

Beans аrе high іn soluble fiber which makes уου feel full fοr a longer time.  They аrе packed wіth vitamins and minerals such аѕ iron, magnesium аnd potassium.  Because of the high content of magnesium аnd potassium they can help lower blood pressure.  Some beans also contain zinc and vitamin B6

The carbs in beans are energy-sustaining carbs that give you energy and the folate in beans may help improve memory and prevent mood swings.

Adding beans tο уουr diet can аlѕο decrease thе risk οf developing colorectal cancer. Also, people who eat beans are less at risk of developing type 2 diabetes than those who don’t eat beans.

So start adding more beans to your diet today.  Sοmе οf thе most common varieties οf beans include kidney, black, soy, garbanzo (chickpeas), pinto, white, lima аnd many more.

I make hummus a lot using chick peas and sometimes using pinto beans.  I decided to make a dip from white beans.  I call it a dip because it doesn’t have any tahini in it but it is a little thicker than store bought dips.  You can thin it out if you like.  I think it turned out well.  Feel free to adjust the seasonings as you like.  Here is my recipe.

White Bean Dip

  • 2 cans white beans – drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup carmelized onions – chopped
  • 1 Tbls fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 Tbls Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp fresh Rosemary
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp pepper

Add all the ingredients into a food processor and blend until it is the consistency that you like.  Add more water or olive oil to make it creamier.

Serve with pita chips, fresh vegetables or spread on bread with tomatoes, cucumbers and spinach for a nice sandwich.

Enjoy!

Dark Chocolate Truffles

Dark Chocolate Truffles

Dark Chocolate Truffles

With this being Valentine’s weekend, I am sure there will be a lot of chocolate consumed.  However, that doesn’t have to be a bad thing if you eat the right chocolate.  There have been a lot of studies done showing that dark chocolate, made with at least 60% cocoa, can have great health benefits.

Dark chocolate is full of flavonoids which are antioxidant compounds that promote healthy veins and arteries. These antioxidants may also help increase blood blow to the heart, lower blood pressure and reduce the risk of blood clots.  Dark chocolate may also help reduce stress.  When we are stressed, our bodies releases the stress hormone, cortisol.  A study in Switzerland found that eating dark chocolate helped reduce the cortisol levels in anxious people.  Another benefit is that dark chocolate can help improve blood flow to the brain. This improved blood flow may also help improve vision.

So this all being said, you still need to be sure not to overdo it because there is still some fat in chocolate.  It took me a while to develop the taste for dark chocolate.  I was always a milk chocolate lover, but I started with 60% dark chocolate and have worked my way up to 86% dark chocolate.  86% is pretty dry and tart and not my favorite.  I prefer 72% which still a little sweet.  I have a hard time eating milk chocolate any more.

So before you run out to buy your chocolate, be sure the chocolate contains at least 60% cocoa, that it is made from cocoa butter instead of oils such as palm and coconut oil and be sure it does not contain hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils.  That would probably eliminate the dark chocolate Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Milky Ways!

Attached is a recipe from The Cleveland Clinic to make your own truffles.  I tried to make truffles once before and it was a disaster.  I swore I would never try again.  However, this recipe looked easy so I gave it a try.  It was very easy and they are really good.  I ended up blending 72% and 86% dark chocolate.  The orange peel gave them a great, but mild, orange flavor.  The only change I made to the recipe was I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk instead of soy milk.   I may, at another time, play around with this recipe and add my own flavors.  Dark chocolate and raspberry would be wonderful.  They were a winner with my daughter (who is 15) and I am hoping Chris, my husband, likes them because that is what he is getting for Valentine’s Day!

Click here for the truffle recipe

 

 

 

 

 

 

Natural = Simply

Which one is "All Natural"?

Which one is “All Natural”?

A couple of weeks ago I wrote about companies adding the word “natural” to products that really aren’t.  The FDA has not real made a firm statement on what should be considered “natural.”  When I looked up the word natural in the dictionary, the definition was “existing in or caused by nature; not made or caused by humankind.”  I don’t think GMOs, pesticides, etc. would fit under this definition.  Plain and simple, the word “natural” on food products is very misleading.

Since no one is sure what the FDA will do regarding legal challenges over using the word “natural”,  Pepsico (which owns Frito-Lay and Quaker) has decided to go ahead and change some of their products by just using the word “Simply.”  They say they are changing the wording because they are updating their marketing.  When I looked up the word “simply” some of the definitions were:  a. In a plain and unadorned way b. In an unambiguous way; clearly.  I guess you could stretch that to be somewhat less offensive than natural, but not really.  They have changed the name from “Simply Natural” to just “Simply”.  Nothing else has changed.  The ingredients are the same.  So, don’t be fooled by semantics.  I think they realize they will lose the natural challenge and have decided to get out now.

Last year PepsiCo was sued for using the words “all natural” on their product Naked juices.  It turns out there were artificial ingredients in it.  I guess they will change it to Simply Naked now and leave in the garbage.

So, don’t be fooled when you start seeing the word “simply” on everything.  Nothing has changed.  You will still be getting artificial ingredients.  However, hopefully in the near future, the FDA will define clearly what it means to be natural so that when you do see the word natural on a food product you will know that it is in fact natural.

I have two links below.  The first is a short video that will teach you about the word natural as it is used today but it will make you laugh as you learn.  The second is an article on PepsiCo and other companies who are removing the word natural from their products because they want to or because they were forced to.

click here   – The Natural Effect-YouTube

click here – PepsiCo rebrands ‘Natural’ products

Fast Food, Junk Food … and Fatty Liver Disease?

Fast Food/Junk Food

Fast Food/Junk Food

It used to be that when someone had liver disease, it was because of excessive use of alcohol.  Unfortunately, a new disease called Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is on the rise, especially in children.  This is being caused by a diet of fast food, junk food and lack of exercise.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease can progress to heart disease, type II diabetes and death.  It currently affects as many as one in five Americans and with those who already have diabetes it may be as high as four in five.  NAFLD kills an estimated 27,000 Americans each year and deaths from liver cancer have also risen.  The good new is that if you catch this in the early stages it can be reversed in a few months by eating a healthier diet and increasing your physical activity.

Morgan Spurlock, who wrote the award-winning film, Super Size Me, conducted an experiment on himself by eating only fast food from McDonald’s for 30 days.  During this time, he not only gained weight but also became fatigued, irritable, depressed, had mood swings and stomachaches and suffered serious liver damage.

Brent Tetri, MD, a professor at St. Louis University Liver Center, conducted a study where mice were given a diet that closely resembled fast food and were forced to remain sedentary.  It took only four weeks for the liver enzymes to increase and for glucose intolerance, which is the beginning of type 2 diabetes.

The ingredients that are the highest offenders are high fructose corn syrup, unhealthy fats, such as saturated and trans-fats, and monosodium glutamate  (MSG).  These are the three major ingredients in junk food.  MSG, also listed as autolyzed yeast and hydrolyzed protein, are a staple in fast food.  It can cause damage not only to the liver, but also the kidneys.  The good new is that Vitamins C and E can help protect against damage.

High fructose corn syrup is also in most junk foods.  HFCS interferes with the brain’s ability to sense you are full so you eat more and drink more sodas because the switch in your brain telling you you’ve had enough is turned off.  It suppresses the feeling of fullness.  Studies have shown that fructose is a big factor in the development of fatty liver disease and contributes to the severity of NAFLD.

Antioxidants, which are plentiful in fruits and vegetables, and exercise are key to undoing the damage done to your live.  As I often say, if you can just change your habits a little at a time, you will see great improvements in your life.  I hope you will become empowered to improve your life, by adding a little exercise and by eliminating some of these harmful ingredients from your diet.