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Nutrition and wellness is tasteful

  • Exercise

    Exercise is a benefit to every part of the body--mind included.

    Exercise makes you look better, lose weight, and lowers your risk of many chronic diseases, and slows down aging.

  • Healthy children, healthy life

    "You don't have to cook fancy or complicated masterpieces--just good food from fresh ingredients."
    --Julia Child

    "If we're not willing to settle for 'junk living,' we shouldn't settle for junk food."
    --Sally Edwards

  • Food is medicine

    "Let medicine be thy food, and food be thy medicine."

    "Don't eat anything your great grandmother wouldn't recognize as food."
    --Michael Pollen

Friday, February 27, 2015

Keeping Your Heart In Good Rhythm Is Healthy

As February is coming to a close and in keeping in step with February American Heart month, I’ve outlined a list of the healthiest foods out there (see link below) – not only great for your heart, but for your whole body. In thinking about what you and I can prepare for to make every meal a healthy one, an added benefit to the eating process becomes even more powerful when the foods chosen not only are delicious, but nutritious.

I really like to refer to some of the World’s Healthiest Foods, as well as some healthy-food terms that are useful and beneficial. Here is a brief overview of some of the key healthy-food terms you should know as well:

   ANTHOCYANINS: These pigments come from plants and help in protection of the heart. Some foods that contain these plant pigments include: berries, grapes, eggplant, bananas, black beans and kidney beans. 
   ANTIOXIDANTS: These substances help in preventing free radicals (harmful molecules) from damaging our DNA. Free radicals are contributors to heart disease, cancer and other chronic illnesses. Foods that contain these? Berries, artichokes, beans, apples carrots and yes! dark chocolate too. 
   CAROTENOIDS: These antioxidant plant pigments are transformed into vitamin A. Vitamin A assists with vision, lowers risk of heart disease and cancer. Foods containing carotenoids include: A variety of vegetables like raw carrots, sweet potatoes and dark leafy greens.
   ELLAGIC ACID: This plant compound helps with reducing tumors or at least slowing down the process of growing cancerous tumors. Foods that contain Ellagic Acid include berries, walnuts and pecans.
   FLAVONOIDS:  These plant pigments help in fighting cancer. Foods containing these are a variety of fruits and vegetables like blueberries, apples, plums, spinach, nuts, red wine and tea.
   FOLIC ACID: Folic acid is important with helping prevent birth defects as well as being linked to the prevention of heart issues. Foods containing Folic Acid include: beans, legumes, dark leafy greens, citrus juice, fortified cereals.
   INDOLES: These phytochemicals are cancer fighters and some foods that contain Indoles are cruciferous vegetables like broccoli or brussel sprouts, also, spinach, oranges and bellpeppers.
   ISOFLAVONES: These compounds help in maintaining and improving bone density. Foods in this selection include soy products like edamame and soy nuts. 
   ISOTHIOCYANATES: Once again, these compounds help in the fight against cancer. Foods containing Isothiocyanates include watercress, turnip greens, mustard greens, cabbage, kale, horseradish and more...
   LIGNANS: These phytoestrogens are estrogen-like chemicals found in plant foods like flaxseed, other seeds like cashews, whole wheat products, many vegetables like cauliflower, mushrooms and carrots.
   MONOUNSATURATED FAT: The heart-healthy type of fat found in avocados, nuts, olives and olive oil.
   OMEGA-3 FATTY ACIDS: This type of fat assists with lowering the risk of heart disease. Foods containing these fatty acids include: halibut, herring, mackerel, oysters, sardines, trout and salmon as well as eggs, milk, watercress, brussel sprouts and more.  

In celebrating your wonderful big heart, you can learn more about how to take care of it by choosing The American Recall Center as a helpful resource.

To get a good look at the valuable information you will learn from the American Recall Center, read the quoted section from their recent blog post with CDC recommendations:

"The CDC recommends you take the following steps to help maintain a healthy heart:
  • Get a once-a-year checkup
  • Check and control your blood pressure.
  • Check and control your cholesterol.
  • Eat a healthy diet.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Don't smoke.
  • Limit your alcohol use.
  • Manage your diabetes.
  • Take your prescribed medications correctly and learn about their potential side effects."

Thursday, February 26, 2015

4 Reasons to Learn How to Cook

It is a well-known fact that we all have our own strengths and weaknesses. I may be better at cooking; but you may be better at organizing closets. I may be better at writing a post; but you may be better at communicating the needs of your work team. You get the picture -- we all have those strengths and weaknesses. But, in knowing that we can be better at something -- wouldn't that be motivation enough to want to master that particular skill? 

So what about cooking? Maybe you haven't even considered it to be a strength or weakness, but what about time management skills? We all are given 24 hours to work with/do our activities/complete our projects, etc., but with that also comes the motivation to want to do that something well, not just okay.  Don't we all want to be better at our time management skills? So what if cooking is not your strong suit -- you can learn it or merely want to learn how to do it well. I really like the website, Blue Apron, which actually gives you the ingredients to prepare healthy, delicious, pre-portioned meals that also don't take a long time to make. 

It just makes sense to make something on your own that you know will be a better choice instead of guessing what ingredients were used in that chicken you just ordered or even in being better at eating mindfully...

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

14 Portion Control Tips

Eating should be something that is a pleasurable experience, don't you think? Eating should be an act that enables our tastebuds to really taste good food and not dread having a delicious bite that is not life-changing in a bad way. If anything, food should be enjoyed to the maximum -- but, portion control should always be a given.

This is a good article with good portion control tips that can become part of your eating routine.

1)  Start off your day -- or for that matter -- before a meal, with a tall glass of water.

2)  Wear form-fitting clothes. In wearing form-fitting clothing, that may be enough from you repeating the food you just enjoyed thoroughly.

3)  Add veggie fillers. There are plenty of good vegetables out there that can not only be good fillers, but may even keep you from overindulging in other more fattening foods.

4)  Dine on dinnerware that helps you lose weight. Apparently, color-contrast plate-ware that is different from the food color of your food can influence how much you eat!

5)  Choose your carbs wisely!

6)  Eat slowly and enjoy every bite.

7)  This is a good one -- work for your food! In other words, try having a handful of pistachios where you have to shell them or an orange where you need to peel it.

8)  Don't eat from a bag or box. If you have a large bag of pretzels -- count out a portion and put the rest away somewhere you won't readily get to it after.

9)  Drink your appetizer -- or rather slurp it. Having a bowl of soup before a meal is a great idea (as long as it isn't cream based).

10) Before immediately diving into the extravagant buffet table, take a walk around and assess your choices carefully.

11) Apparently drinking from a tall glass helps with portion control during the meal...

12) Limiting mealtime distractions can be difficult, but well-worth it! If the TV is off or the computer is taking your attention away, try just eating without the distraction. You will be more aware of what goes into your mouth -- guaranteed.

13) Use smaller dish ware/serve ware.

14) Have a low-fat sweet treat -- maybe a piece of fruit or one or two squares of dark chocolate....

Monday, February 23, 2015

Brazil 's best nutritional guidelines

Although Brazil is known for having the best nutritional guidelines in the world, it still has its own set of problems with a "gain" in obesity rates. It may be because healthier foods -- like fruits and vegetables are becoming more and more expensive and the rate of overly processed foods is becoming more commonplace. Despite this discouraging news though, Brazil still has not reached the rate of obesity rates suffered in the United States.

As this article points out, there are various differences in the way that the United States and Brazil present their nutritional guidelines. For one, the United States just released a 600-page report that is meant to inform Americans about how they should approach their dietary guidelines. Brazil, on the other hand, uses a different approach and instead of having an extremely large guidelines report, it is condensed down to 143 pages.

The Brazilian population doesn't approach and see food as we see it here in the United States -- merely by calories or nutrients or plain old weight loss. In Brazil, people are encouraged to focus on the entire meal and to cook with whole foods. Imagine how obesity would diminish here in the US if more and more people cooked with whole foods at home instead of going out to eat every day?

The Brazilian "golden rule" follows the following premise (as learned from Michael Pollan):

"Always prefer natural or minimally processed foods and freshly made dishes and meal to ultra-processed foods. In other words, opt for water, milk and fruits instead of soft drinks, dairy drinks, and biscuits, do not replace freshly prepared dishes (broth, soups, salads, sauces, rice and beans, pasta, steamed vegetables, pies) with products that do not require culinary preparation (packaged soups, instant noodles, pre-prepared frozen dishes, sandwiches, cold cuts and sausages, industrialized sauces, ready-mixes for cakes), and stick to homemade desserts, avoiding industrialized ones."

That all sounds like pretty sound advice. And, yes, in the grand scheme of things obesity has become a problem pretty much everywhere in the world, but in some countries -- like Brazil -- great strides are being taken to improve their overall health and wellbeing. Perhaps we in the United States can learn something from them...

Friday, February 20, 2015

Food Industry Blamed Over Obesity

I'm sure that most, if not all, people would agree to the statement, "Food Industry Blamed Over Obesity", and consumers all over the world still remain prey to many of the marketing ploys that these food companies dole out for us to eat up.

In case you didn't know about some of the things that the food industry is up to read about it in this article that states, according to experts, that FOOD companies in addition to the lack of government action really are largely to blame for the extremely slow progress towards dealing with the obesity issues we see today.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Beyond Food

In this insightful piece written by Michael Ruhlman (food author/journalist), he concurs with Mark Bittman, writer for the New York Times, on recognizing the need to address several issues with regard to our current food system that go way beyond just the food we find in our local grocery store. I couldn't agree more.

So much is at stake with how well our agriculture system is working (or not working) and how well we really are nourishing our country. It should go way beyond just the money or the power of who has the most interest in making the biggest profit -- and, yes, corporations have much of the money and power. But, who will step up and take leadership that is based on integrity and not fall prey to the spiderweb that has been created by Big Money?

This article brings to mind what I see and hear everyday with regard to people's food choices that just don't support the need for making smarter food choices. I'm astounded to see enormous lines at a local donut shop in my neighborhood as an example. Will there come the day when the food of choice is something that is actually good for you? I guess no one really gets that excited about it. And, as I walked into an organic market just the other day, there was a vendor who was offering a taste of the latest organic, gluten-free, wholesome protein bar which I did try, but am so confused as to why consumers would buy such a product that tastes...well, like cardboard! Do people eat foods like these as punishment or because they are trying to "detox" from all of the "bad foods" they ate over the weekend?

Sadly, many times it will be the Doritos and other junk foods that will be set at the party buffet table instead of the roasted vegetable medley. At some point, I'm sure Doritos will eventually come up with  their own select vegetable version of a chip and call it a serving to contribute to the appropriate amount of vegetable servings one should be eating....

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Why It Might Be Time to Give Up Juices & Smoothies

While I have been fascinated by the continued growth of juice and smoothie sales across America, I haven't been 100% on board with it. Not that it isn't convenient and yes, I'm sure you can pack in an enormous amount of vitamins/minerals with all of the natural added ingredients, but it still does not completely substitute for the "real deal". What is the real deal? As nature intended it to be -- biting into a real apple, sinking your teeth into a slice of cool and refreshing watermelon, or maybe even just adding fresh berries to your morning oatmeal.

Do I believe that juicing/smoothies are certainly a welcome alternative to processed fast foods --YES! No doubt! But, in having juices/smoothies on a daily basis and in substituting for a real meal -- I'm not sure that is the best use of adding to your nutritional health.

As this article points out, juices/smoothies remove a great deal of fiber from fruits and vegetables. As we all know (or should know) fiber is extremely important for our whole process of digestion, and that means from the moment the food enters your mouth to the point in time it leaves the body.

Fiber is essentially the part of the plant that can't be digested by our bodies and there are two types of fiber -- insoluble and soluble. Soluble fiber naturally slows down our digestion and with that it also slows down the absorption of all of the naturally containing nutrients that give our bodies the right amount of energy to progress through our busy days. The insoluble fiber on the other hand is the part of the plant that doesn't dissolve in water, but instead help in pushing food through our all-important gut. Upon juicing and drinking smoothies, this fiber is removed. Hence, there is a reason why fruit and vegetables should be eaten whole whenever possible. As far as juicing goes -- why not -- from time to time, but to do it all the time? Not optimal. If you don't believe me, read up on what Dr. Robert Lustig has to say about it in his book called, "Fat Chance".

A few other points made in this article, juices/smoothies give your body a sugar spike. It is well known and scientifically proven that carbohydrates (sugars) that enter the body are absorbed quickly; hence, giving a sugar spike and this could prove to be dangerous for individuals who suffer from hyperglycemia -- which is a definite sign of diabetes. Something else to think about is the fact that there is no real substitute from eating a meal as opposed to drinking it -- how satisfied are you really if given a refreshing smoothie to drink as opposed to a healthy meal? And, if you did have a substitute smoothie drink as opposed to a meal, would that mean that you can or should double your calories at the next meal because you deserve it?

Lastly, think about the cost of juicing/smoothie drinking? It can add up quickly! And again, think about the part of the pulp/fiber that is thrown away after juicing -- it could be used as composting in your garden, but is it still making the most of sustainable efforts?

Which is better -- juice form or the real deal?

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

What about today's food system?

There are so many articles/publications/posts that state something in the realm of what is lacking in our food system. We know this, yet, what can we as individuals do? If we were to really want to know what George Washington would say about our food system -- would we really be prepared to hear what he had to say? Then, what would we do about it?

But, the thing is that is such a silly premise to begin with as times were significantly different back then than they are today. In the first paragraph, it reads, "Our founding fathers lived in an agrarian society at the dawn of the industrial revolution. Food was hard to produce and required substantial daily effort from almost all families. A bad season could lead to widespread hunger".

I firmly believe that if we lived in an agrarian society -- where a society's economy would be based on producing and maintaining crops and farmland -- we wouldn't be seeing the overwhelming amounts of processed foods that are at our fingertips currently. We also wouldn't be seeing the high amounts of chronic diseases that are largely preventable with lifestyle changes -- like a better diet with more fruits and vegetables for starters. I can go on about this, but in going back to what Mr. Washington may have said about our food system today, he probably would be overwhelmed at not only how society has expanded and grown in so many ways, but in how we have chosen to go about feeding ourselves. He wouldn't even recognize most of the foods since they aren't even real food and these foods have little to no nutrition.

If we see George Washington as what he was -- commander and chief and one of the founding fathers of the United States -- then, why can't we see that today's food system is lacking in integrity and honesty?

It is up to us as individuals to seek out the real foods that should feed us, even if it means cooking at home more often with ingredients that are unprocessed and drinking more water -- instead of soda.

We would come to the conclusion that yes, George Washington wouldn't be pleased with today's food system -- so, why are we allowing ourselves to let others decide what foods we should be eating instead of us deciding what foods we should be eating? We can be the change that we want to see (in making wiser food choices that lead to better health) -- but, do we really want to see it? This is where people need to unite on the same front of having real food access available to everyone, not just those that can afford it. After all, everyone deserves to eat -- and eat well. Most processed foods are not foods at all. More food for thought....