Green juice (that’s right, you heard me) is on next week’s blogging agenda. Here’s a video clip to set the scene. Maybe it will whet your palate? Who am I kidding, I hope it just makes you laugh. I bring you Jim Carey as The Juice Man….
Monthly Archives: May 2010
And we’d say, “I don’t know.”
I’m not sure how this scene played out in your house. I imagine most experienced something similar. I can’t help but think back to those days now when I get back from a class weekend. Today my mom asks me how school was and 30 minutes later I’m still going… And she’s wondering where’s the middle?!
I won’t bore you with too many details here, but I thought I’d share a few of my favorite “fun facts” from the weekend. Classes were taught by Joy Bauer (Today Show nutritionist), Dr. Andrew Weil (MD, Harvard grad, Integrative Medicine pioneer), Dr. Barry Sears (creator of The Zone diet), and Annemarie Colbin, Ph.D. (founder of The Natural Gourmet Culinary Institute). They covered inflammation, food and mood, arthritis, heart health, cravings, headaches, and bone health.
Here’s my version of a Top Ten list….
- Every hour of walking increase your life span by 2 hours.
- Every pound that’s lost alleviates four pounds of stress on joints.
- More than 2 servings of fish per week reduces your risk of heart disease by 23 percent.
- A red bell pepper has 300 mg of vitamin C. That’s more than 3 times that’s in an orange.
- Adequate levels of vitamin D protect from colds and flu. We get less exposure to vitamin D in the winter so we are more susceptible to the flu.
- There is no toxicity risk for vitamin D from sun exposure and food because the body only makes as much as it needs.
- It’s the polyphenols in red wine that protect us from inflammation. Two glasses of red wine is equal to 10 servings of vegetables.
- Our bones are constantly being built up and broken down. It’s thought that they replace themselves every 10 years.
- Bones are made up of 65% calcium and 35% collagen (or protein). The calcium makes them hard. The collagen makes them flexible. You need both for strong, healthy bones.
- Other important nutrients for bones are vitamin D, A, C, K, phosphorous, magnesium, healthy fats and trace minerals.
And some good quotes from the weekend….
“It’s not about being healthy, it’s about what being healthy allows you to do.” - Annemarie Colbin, Ph.D.
“If you can control inflammation, you can control chronic disease.” – Dr. Barry Sears
“Food is powerful!” – Joy Bauer, nutritionist
“Health is an inner quality of bounciness. We are born with it but it’s up to us to protect it.” – Dr. Andrew Weil
Have you meet my friend Quinoa?
“Key no WHO?” If that’s your response then I take it you have not.
Quinoa – sounds like “KEEN-wah” – is part of the whole grains family but it’s actually a seed. I’ve mentioned it here. Think couscous, but with a nuttier flavor. When you cook it, the little seeds pop and they look like tiny spirals. Can you tell in the pic? It’s a nice change of pace from the standard brown rice. Plus it’s crazy good for you. It’s very high in protein (about 16%) and is one of the few vegetarian sources that’s considered a complete protein. It has all eight essential amino acids. And a serving has more calcium than a glass of milk. Talk about a match made in heaven for vegetarians. Did I mention it’s gluten free too? I haven’t even gotten to all the vitamins and fiber and folic acid in there. The stuff practically has super powers. So where did this grain come from and why are you just now in the year 2010 hearing about it?! Quinoa was the staple grain of the Incas. It’s what gave them the strength and stamina to run long distances across the desert. So they praised it and the land it came from. That little tid bit along with their and bloody sacrifices freaked out the conquistadors. People shouldn’t worship a seed they said. So quinoa was forbidden and cast into obscurity. If they’d only realized the health benefits and that it cooks in just 15 minutes! That’s my absolute favorite part. Just rise it, put it in a pot with the right amount of water, let it simmer and DONE! Eat it by itself or try one of these delicious combos… Don’t be afraid to mix it up and try your own. Have fun!
For each of these recipes, start with four cups cooked quinoa.
(makes 4 cups cooked quinoa)
What you need:
1 cup quinoa
1 3/4 cup water
What you do:
Rinse* the quinoa in a fine strainer. Combine quinoa and water in a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer 15 minutes until all the water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork when done.
Now your ready to make it unique. Try one of these…
What you need:
4 cups cooked quinoa
1/2 cup cranberries
1/4 sliced almonds
2 tbsp chopped parsley
What you do:
Mix the cranberries, almonds, parsley into the quinoa. Combine well and chill in fridge.
Quinoa with Spinach and Feta
What you need:
1 tbsp olive oil
1 cup quinoa
1 3/4 cups water
3 cloves garlic
2 cups fresh spinach
2 oz. feta cheese
What you do:
Heat oil in a pan over medium heat. Addd garlic and cook 1-2 minutes until it’s lightly browning. Add quinoa and spinach. stir to combine and cook until spinach wilts. Remove from heat. Add feta and stir to combine evenly.
Tomato Basil Quinoa
What you need:
1 medium tomato, chopped OR a handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp basil, chopped
2 tbsp parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
What you do:
Combine quinoa with tomatoes, basil, parsley and seasoning. Add balsamic vinegar just before serving.
*Rinsing removes the bitter tasting outside coating called saponin. Saponin is naturally occurring, but it’s toxic so it needs to be removed before cooking. If you buy grains in bulk you should always rinse them to remove any dust, dirt and whatever else may have found its way into those silos.
There are two different stacks of strawberries in the produce section, but one is two dollars more. Why? And is it worth the price? As if the grocery store wasn’t already an overwhelming place for the decision-making challenged there’s yet another choice we have to make. But when it comes to some foods, organic versus conventional is an important one. The latest dirty dozen list just came out. These are the foods in the produce section that have the highest concentration of pesticides on them. If you’re debating between going organic or not, this is a good place to start. But first here are a few answers to some general questions about organic….
What does organic mean?
Organic means that the food was made without pesticides, there are no synthetic ingredients in the fertilizer, and no bio engineering, genetic modification or radiation was used. When something is genetically modified that means its genes have been altered. Scientists add new genetic material into the mix to make plants and produce (even animals) last longer or become resistant to a certain pesticide.
Are the pesticides and chemicals used in conventional farming harmful?
All of the chemicals and pesticides that go into growing conventional produce ends up in the food. And when we eat it, those chemicals and pesticides go into our bodies. We are talking about agents designed to kill things here. Now consider this. Our bodies are a combination of chemical reactions. Everything from digestion to PMS is chemistry happening inside us. What happens when we add a new chemical (er, several) into the equation? That’s the thing. We don’t exactly know. Studies are being done to see just how these chemicals can interfere with digestion and absorption of the nutrients in produce.
Why is organic so much more expensive?
Organic farming just takes a lot more work for a lot less produce. Organic farmers have to do a lot more weeding by hand and also lose a higher percentage of their crop to pests and run the risk of a total loss. Organic farms also have their crops on a rotation in order to keep the soil healthy and nutrient rich. Conventional farming has gone the way of clearing land and planting large fields of cash crops every season of every year without ever giving the soil a break. You’re able to grow more food year round this way, but it depletes the nutrients in the soil because there’s never a time to replenish. That means fewer nutrients in the food that comes from it and the taste isn’t quite the same either. For instance that tomato isn’t quite as juicy and sweet. Then there’s also the costs associated with being certified organic, which can be quite high.
Then why does conventional fruit look brighter and bigger?
You know those strawberries you get at the grocery store that are the size of your fist and bright red, but when you bite into one it’s not sweet? Conventional methods breed larger strawberries, apples, you name it. They also use chemical ripening agents to bring a fruit to its peak artificially. It’s cheaper and easier when you don’t have to wait for nature to take it’s course.
How do you know you’re getting organic?
The sticker on your produce has a PLU#. If the number starts with a 9, then it’s organic. If it starts witha 4, it’s conventional meaning conventional farming methods were used including pesticides, etc. And if it starts with a 7, it’s local.
What foods have the highest level of pesticides?
As a good rule of thumb, anything that’s porous, fragile or grows 100 percent underground is more vulnerable to pesticides. So things like peaches, berries and potatoes will have a higher pesticide count than say a cantaloupe that’s fruit is protected by a tough skin. Try picking up the organic version of these when it’s available and just see if you can taste a difference.
The Dirty Dozen
- Bell Peppers
As I write this, I’m sitting here having a cup myself. So the question comes to mind – how bad is it really? I used to have my grande Starbucks drip every morning when I got to work. Now I might have one every other week just when it sounds too good to be true. I’m bringing it up though because coffee is a hotly (pun intended) debated topic these days. We go from hearing coffee is bad for us, to “this just in: coffee is good for us,” to well, it’s just OK in moderation. There are two things driving the debate: 1.) caffeine addiction 2.) what else is going in it.
Let’s start with the caffeine. Caffeine stimulates the adrenal glands to produce adrenaline and the stress hormone cortisol – the same hormones that kick in for “fight or flight mode.” That’s what gives us that jolt. At the peak of it your mind is clear, you move faster and everything is heightened. I’m feeling that now. Woo! But on the down slope (maybe around 3:00), it’s just the opposite. And that’s when we may reach for more caffeine or sugar. For me it’s usually chocolate. And it comes on like clockwork. Think of that caffeine jolt as borrowed energy. You eventually have to give it back. So if you’re addicted to coffee then it can turn into a vicious cycle of rented energy which can really wear out your adrenal glands and lead to more serious health concerns.
Then there’s what’s going in it. You know those studies you see on the Today Show touting the benefits of coffee? They’re not talking about the 1/2 a cup of sugar or that fat-free hazelnut creamer going in it. Yes, it’s delicious and I hate to ruin delicious things, but have you ever seen what happens to one of those creamers when it’s left out? It turns into paste – kinda looks like glue. Just think what it’s doing inside your body… OK there, I said it. Do with it what you like.
I’m not putting all this out there to convince you you should give up your morning routine. But I do think we all should be more mindful of what’s going down the chute. Evaluate your relationship with the black stuff. Is it what’s making you function? Is it the taste or the caffeine you crave? Or is it the sugar you’re putting with it? Or is it just the familiar and comforting warm cup in your hand that you’d miss the most? Pinpoint what it is you’re craving. Whatever it is, remember you should be the one with the upper hand, not the coffee. You set the terms. If you can take it or leave it, you win.
Think you might be hooked? Try one of these:
- Switch to decaf for a day, or even a week. Do you notice a difference in how you feel?
- Try tea. Start with a black tea which feels a little more like coffee and have more caffeine. Then get a little bit lighter as you’re ready. Teas put less stress on the adrenals and the body and also have a variety of health benefits, particularly white and green teas. They’re the best because they have lots of antioxidents and help to detox and cleanse the body.
- Fuel with food. Try getting more of your energy from foods in the morning. Fruits awaken the sense and are refreshing in the morning. Whole grains and protein also give you a sustained energy that will last all morning.
- Take a cold shower. I’m not going to tell you that I do this. I don’t. But it will wake you up in the morning. If not a shower, then just splash some cold water on your face.
Trying different things out just leads to better awareness of yourself and how you’re feeling. No matter what you discover or decide to do you’ll know more about what makes you tick. And you’re all the better for it.