Food for Thought


Eye on Iodine

09 Jan 2012
Posted by karen
karen's picture

Have you ever been told you're high maintenance? Nutritionally, we all are - to sustain and maintain health, our body's daily requirements cuts a lengthy list - water, carboyhdrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals. But unlike the image of "more is better", only small amounts of some things are needed: more accurately, sometimes just a trace.

The mineral, iodine, is one such example. My alert to its significance came after reading a friend's blog with her iodine story, and more recently, a chat with my niece about her  markedly reduced pain from (benign) breast cysts - since using iodine supplementation. 

Check out the FAQs.
 

What does iodine do?

-- helps metabolize excess fat
-- necessary for physical and mental development (why it's so important for women of childbearing age and children)
-- produces thyroid hormones that regulate the body's metabolic energy

What's the scoop on how much, too much?

-- no significant danger of iodine toxicity from a natural diet
-- small risk of chronic iodine excess, but care should be taken with supplements - excessive amounts can reduce thyroid function, possible effects are a metallic taste or sores in the mouth, diarrhea, vomiting 
-- worst case deficiency - goiter disease: the thyroid gland doesn't have enough iodine to manufacture hormones and as the cells are trying to trap more iodine they swell, eventually causing the whole gland to enlarge
 

What contributes to iodine deficiency?

-- increased exposure to toxic substances that displace iodine, e.g. radiation, fluoride
-- iodine-deficicent soil
-- replacing iodized sea salt with white sea salt -a product processed to make it 'free flowing' and is not abundant in minerals
--inadequate dietary intake
-- thyroid function may slow down with aging
 

Possible symptoms of iodine deficiency.

-- fatigue
-- brain fog
-- extra weight that just won't "get lost"
-- hair loss
 

Natural food sources for iodine.

-- seafood (carefully check your sources for possible mercury toxicity)
-- sea vegetables - seaweed like nori, wakame, dulce. Kelp is the most common for high iodine and is also rich in other minerals and low in sodium. 
-- vegetables grown in iodine-rich soil (higher probability in areas closer to the sea as compared to inland) - garlic, onions, mushrooms, spinach, lettuce
-- iodized salt or unprocessed sea salt - be aware not to overdo these, although sea salt does have less of an effect on blood pressure than processed table salt
 
 
 
Kelp as a supplement.
-- is most often sold as a powder or in a liquid form to add to drinking water
-- it is rich in iodine, the B vitamins and also a source of other minerals and trace elements
-- reported to be beneficial to brain tissue, sensory nerves, blood vessels
-- used in treatment of thyroid problems and may protect against the effects of radiation
 
 
Seafood and sea vegetables are staples in Japanese cooking - a good way to eat healthy, usually lighter meals, and a food source for iodine. My daughter and her family, who got us hooked on sushi (which is easier to order in a restaurant than to make at home), came up with the simplified version below.
 

Roll-Your-Own (Maki) Sushi

Sushi works best with white rice. Not a food I normally recommend but for this recipe I'm compromising for the upside of getting more sea vegetables in your family's diet. You can make a pot of rice as you normally would, or if you want to - and have time for - making "proper" sushi rice, you can use the following method. To be honest, I've only gone as far as mixing in the vinegar mixture - hats off to you if you get to the cooling part!
 
2 cups sushi or short grain rice
2 cups water, plus extra for rinsing rice
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp agave syrup
1 Tbsp sea salt
 
Place rice into a bowl and cover with water. Rinse at least 3 times or until the water is clear. Put the rice and 2 cups water into a pan and place over high heat. Bring to a boil, uncovered. Once it begins to bowl, reduce heat to low and cover. Cook for 15 mins, remove from heat and let stand, covered, for 10 minutes.
 
Combine the rice vinegar, agave and salt in small bowl and mix until dissolved. Transfer the rice to large bowl and add the vinegar mixture. Fold gently but thoroughly to combine and coat each grain of rice with the mixture. Transfer to a large flat baking pan. Fan the rice with a piece of cardboard while turning gently with a fork until it has all cooled. It's easier with 2 people! This will make it shiny and slightly sticky - which is the trick you're trying to achieve.
 
So that's it for the rice.
 
The other ingredients:
nori sheets
tamari sauce and wasabi for dipping
 
And your choice of the following:
finely julienned slices of carrots and cucumber
sliced fresh mushrooms and/or your choice of rehydrated "wild" mushrooms
chopped green onions
avocado slices
small slices of tofu
finely sliced pepper
pickled ginger
black sesame seeds
smoked salmon or canned tuna (non-vegetarian option)
 
Now for the eating...
 
Cut the nori sheets along the perforated markings, than again in half, so you have pieces about 1 1/4" x 3 1/2". These pieces will be your individual sushi rolls. Fill your plate with a spoonful of rice and whatever other fillings you want. Use the nori pieces either as a scoop or base for the rice, then put your other selected fillings on top and roll as much as you're able - dip in a bit of tamari sauce and wasabi and enjoy! With everyone building and rolling, dipping and eating, it's not a tidy affair - but delicious. Take your time - share an eating experience and good conversation around your table.
 
If you're not quite ready to go with the sushi, start your Japanese cooking with this simple condiment. Gomasio fills your kitchen with a wonderful nutty, toasty aroma when you make it. I dare you to try resisting eating it directly out of the spice jar! Thanks to Kira from Food Works Nutrition for this recipe, and one for sushi rice.

Gomasio

1/4 cup raw sesame seeds
1 tsp. Celtic Sea Salt (or other unprocessed sea salt)
1 Tbsp. dulse flakes (readily available where I live on the Atlantic coast - yeah!) 
 
Roast the sesame seeds in a pan at a low heat until they are just starting to pop. Take them off and let cool for 5 minutes. Add the salt and grind in a clean coffee or spice grinder. Don't grind them so much that it turns into flour - which I found out happens very quickly, mine almost got to that point. You want it to have texture. Add the dulse flakes, put in a glass jar with a lid and refrigerate. (My husband took a deep whiff of this - he loved the smell and the answer to his question what we'd sprinkle it on? "Anything and everything.") 
 
(Note: the material on Real Food Matters is not meant for medical diagnosis or treatment. For health concerns, I recommend you see your physician or health practitioner.)

 

Posted by karen
karen's picture

We're in that window between holiday weekends.

Digesting a huge meal can be taxing on your body. Consuming back-to-back a few of these indulgent meals (that often include food choices and combinations that you don't usually eat), can make you feel right out of balance - bloated, craving certain foods, a sense of being "fuzzy" and out of control, short on energy.
 
Crammed social calendars and the excitement - and exhaustion - of hosting guests can add to a feeling of overwhelmed.
 
If this is you.... 
 

Here are a few tips - nutrition-wise and otherwise - to help you on the rebound.

 
Get out in the sunshine - let some of that glow shine on your face and in your eyes.
 
Give your body a chance to recuperate by fasting for a day.
 
If you can, squeeze in a day of consuming only juices or blended smoothies to help your body recover and get back on track.
 
Give yourself a day of just fresh fruits and vegetables
 
Exercise - just 20 minutes a day is better than nothing. Even better, no matter what the weather, get outside to play and exercise.
 
 
Read a good book, light a candle, soak in a hot bath, brew a cup of tea, play a board game or enjoy conversation with a friend: go off-line, turn off the television.  
 
Make a comforting curry dish. The healing, warming spices - ginger, cinnamon, cloves, chilies, cayenne and turmeric - are a yummy alternative to other feast flavours.
 
Get good quality sleep, give yourself permission to take a nap during the day.
 
Drink plenty of water - flush out the excesses and rehydrate after eating food saltier than normal. 
 
 
If your hospitality door is still revolving, your guests are probably as ready as you for more simple fare.
 
Serve the following nut roast with a large leafy salad, and a curry lentil soup. Everybody wins.
 
 

"Crank's" Nut Roast

1 medium sized onion
1 oz butter
8 oz. mixed nuts: peanuts, walnuts, cashews, etc.
4 oz. whole wheat bread (gluten-free bread can be substituted)
2 c. veg stock
2 tsp. yeast extract (Marmite)
1 tsp. mixed herbs
 
Chop onions and saute in butter until transparent. Grind nuts and bread together in a food processor or coffee grinder (bread crumbs stop the nuts from getting gummed together in a ball), until quite fine. Heat the stock and Marmite to boiling point, then combine all the ingredients together and mix well - the mixture should be fairly slack. Turn into a greased shallow baking dish, level the surface, sprinkle w/few breadcrumbs, and bake in the oven at 350F for 30 minutes or until golden.
 
(This makes quite a small loaf - amounts can be easily increased. Thanks to my good Scottish neighbour, Fiona, for sharing this old recipe from the UK.) 
 
 
Talk to you soon - Happy New Year! 
Posted by karen
karen's picture

 

This is it. The weekend that launches my season of Christmas hospitality. It's fast and furious, with a dinner for four Friday night and hosting a neighbourhood potluck brunch on Sunday. 
 
This is a "world-away" contrast to a former chapter of my life.  When December was a flurry of celebrations: from the get-go birthday party on the 2nd for my daughter - to a host of Christmas parties connected to all the life-circles of my husband and I and our two children- to our son's birthday on the 23rd. And this event was the starting gun for the marathon of Christmas celebrations that revolved around a community of family - going from house to house - which would wrap up sometime around the New Year. Just recording this makes me breathless. But it was wonderful: a time of sharing, laughter and fun, and of course, eating.
 
Coming from a heritage of accomplished cooks, the food was plentiful and delicious. Taste memories range from the traditional Swedish lutefish and lefse, to the stuffed turkey, a myriad of salads and vegetable dishes - and a "stretch buffet" of sweets and desserts.
 
But just like the jam-packed holiday schedule has changed, so have many of the food choices that are now on our feast menus. 
 
Generally, we now have: more fresh vegetables and fruits, more whole grains, less animal fats, more natural sweets, less refined sugar.   
 
The following recipes I've made this weekend are some healthy holiday eating suggestions you may want to serve at your holiday feasts.
 

Begin with "A Starter" 

Curry Pumpkin Hummus 

2 Tbsp. olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp.allspice
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/8 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. maple syrup
1/4 cup tahini
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 cup solid-pack pumpkin puree
3 Tbsp. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp. sea salt (or Herbamare)
1/4 tsp. black pepper
garnish: chopped pistachios or toasted pumpkin seeds
 
Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, ginger, coriander, cinnamon, allspice, turmeric, cayenne, and maple syrup. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring well.
Stir in tahini and chick peas; remove from heat.
Stir in the pumpkin, lemon juice, salt and pepper.
Transfer the mixture to a food processor and process until smooth.
Spoon into a shallow serving bowl and sprinkle with garnish.
 
(Nutrition notes: these flavorful curry seasonings improve circulation - good "flu-fighters". Tahini and chick peas are protein sources - pumpkin supplies vitamin A.)
 
Recipe adapted from "Quick-Fix Vegan: Healthy Homestyle Meals in 30 Minutes or Less" by Robin Robertson

Home-Made Pita Chips - one version GF, one not

Cut whole-wheat pitas (or for gluten free use corn tortillas) into wedges and arrange on large baking pan. Brush lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with a wee bit of sea salt. Bake in 375 degree oven for 10-15 minutes until crisp: flipping them over half-way through. Not gluten free, but a healthy alternative to nachos cooked in oil. 
 

Quinoa and Roasted Squash Salad - delicious make-ahead salad

1.5 cup quinoa
2 3/4 cups water
pinch sea salt
 
2.5 pound squash - acorn, buttercup or Kabocha - enough for 8-10 cups cut into cubes
3 Tbsp.extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp. Herbamare
1/2 tsp.cinnamon
1 cup pecans
1 1/2 cups red onion, cut into slivers
1 cup dried cranberries
3/4 cup pomegranate seeds
1 cup chopped parsley
 
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. good quality balsamic vinegar (I used balsamic fig from this great source in Halifax)
1 tsp. orange zest
sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
 
optional: crumbled feta cheese
 
Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and place in 2-quart pot with the water and sea salt. Bring to a boil, cover and cook for about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat. Let cool completely. (Can be made ahead 1-2 days before you need it and kept in the fridge.)
 
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash into quarters, scoop out seeds and cut into equal bite-sized chunks, about 1-inch squares. Place into baking dish, toss with the olive oil, Herbamare and cinnamon. Roast for 35-40 minutes. Stir once halfway through - let cool on the pan.
Place the pecans in a separate small baking dish and slide them in the oven along with the squash. Roast for 10-12 minutes - don't forget them in there!
 
Saute the slivered red onions in a wee bit of olive oil - for about 5 minutes, just until soft and beginning to change colour. Remove from heat.
 
Place cooled quinoa into a large bowl, add the roasted squash, roasted and chopped pecans, sautéed onions, dried cranberries, pomegranate seeds and chopped parsley.
 
Put dressing ingredients into small jar with tight-fitting lid. Shake well and pour over salad. If desired, sprinkle crumbled feta cheese on top before  refrigerating until serving.
 
Recipe adapted from www.nourishingmeals.com
 
 

One favorite has not changed - that's our holiday fruitcake. Gloriously good and gluten free.

 
 
Many years ago my Mom found a recipe for this fruit cake which has become an annual Christmas standby - and sometimes shows up during other times of the year too!
 
Over the years I've tweaked it to suit my family; it has evolved into a delicious gluten free version.
 
This is not the traditional candied fruit, butter-rich kind of fruitcake. It's made with dried fruits, nuts, eggs, flour (I use a GF mix, as mentioned), baking powder, bit of honey or maple syrup and vanilla. You know it's good when even the grandkids say, "it won't be Christmas without Nana's fruitcake."
 
Click here for the recipe for the Healthy Nut and Dried Fruit Christmas Cake.
 
This cake doesn't have to be aged - it'll be a hit (and so will you!) if you squeeze it into your schedule this week.
 
Happy healthy holiday eating!!
Posted by karen
karen's picture

The 2011 calendar will soon be wrapped up. Have you thought about - or made - any nutrition resolutions for your fitness and athletic activities? Maybe they look like these:

-- gearing up for a month-long digestive cleanse and decreasing exercise intensity

-- launching into a vegan diet

-- testing out what eating raw is all about

-- cutting out caffeine for a month

Or maybe your "extreme" resolution is to figure out how to fuel yourself properly while training for your first marathon.

Running happens to be my favourite fitness gig - but whatever the exercise activity, our performance and experience will show whether our eating choices have been left to chance.

Goals are good.

If you've not yet decided, and don't want to be left out of the resolution loop, check out the following list. These all carry a worthwhile nutrition objective - and benefit.

Avoid diet sodas and foods with Aspartame and other synthetic sugars.

-- consuming Aspartame also includes ingesting methanol (wood alcohol) which is a dangerous neurotoxin and a known carcinogen.

-- one of the many negative side effects is the harmful effect on the nervous system

-- synthetic sugars contribute to acidity, a condition which leads to (1) inflammation, and (2) the body creates fat cells to store that extra acid so that, ironically, consistent consumption of Aspartame could add to your weight.

Avoid refined sugar - only a few of the reasons why:

-- refined sugar weakens the immune system by stealing your white blood cells' ability to destroy bacteria 

-- can encourage addiction to eating foods devoid of vitamins, minerals and fibre - when our body really needs and wants those nutrient-rich foods

-- upsets mineral relationships in the body, e.g. messes with the absorption of calcium and magnesium

Eat more greens and veggies for antioxidants, B vitamins, calcium, magnesium, zinc, omega 3's

-- a hefty daily serving of greens

-- a generous daily serving of coloured veggies and bright-coloured fruits, berries

-- a hearty daily portion of sulfur producing veggies - e.g. cabbage, broccoli, turnips, onions, garlic, etc.

Make your own power bars and gels.

-- the nutritional value of processed energy bars is often the equivalent of candy bars. Home made bars and gels with nutrient-rich calories are less expensive and easy to make. The recipe for the gel is in my post about dates (you'll have to scroll down a ways to find it).  I shared some of this power gel recently while running with a friend. She's hooked. So much tastier than the gels you buy - and made with real food ingredients.

Protein Bar Recipe

1 cup protein powder (hemp, soy or whey)

2 cups rice bran

1/4 cup cocoa powder

3/4 tsp. sea salt

1 cup dried cranberries

1 cup slivered almonds

1 cup shredded coconut

3/4 cup hemp seeds

Mix above and add:

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 - 3/4 cup brown rice syrup or honey

1/4 cup maple syrup

Mix thoroughly and form into balls or press into a pan to cut into bars.

Store in refrigerator or freeze.

This recipe came from a colleague who makes them for a pro sports team. Convinced?

Eat more fermented foods - e.g. sauerkraut, kimchi

-- the healthy bacteria in these foods speed up digestion and assimilation of nutrients

-- fermented foods help reduce sweet cravings (and when you do indulge, fermented foods help digest the sugars)

-- fermented foods contribute to an alkaline state, as compared to an acidic environment, which is responsible for an increase of free radicals and a decrease in the production of cellular energy

-- bonus - you can easily make it yourself, see how to do it here

Log your food intake - what you eat every day and when you eat it.

-- the timing of your food intake affects how you feel when you exercise

-- tracking food you eat along with your exercise performance can be a helpful fitness nutrition tool - especially if you want to notch up your activity for competition

 

I challenge you to choose at least one New Year's nutrition resolution.

You never know what rewards could await you in 2012.

I'd love to hear from you - what are your nutrition resolutions?

Posted by karen
karen's picture

We don't have to expect dietary damage control in January.

We can plan to prepare and eat healthy foods for our holiday-Christmas eating.
 

My Healthy Holiday Eating Workshop will help you to be ready:

 
--when you're the hostess - healthy nutritional alternatives
                                                 - accommodating food sensitivities
                                        
--when you're the guest - tips on 'holding your healthy line'
                                             - suggestions on offerings you can share  
 
--for the days in between 'the parties' 
 
 
 

What you can expect:

 
--tasting and sampling
 
--gluten-free options
 
--flavorful, sweet treats - without refined sugar
 
--take-home recipes and nutrition notes for the above
 
--to have fun
 
 

When and Where:

 
--Monday, December 12
--6:30 - 8:00-ish
--Lunenburg County, Nova Scotia
 
Contact me for registration and information. Limited seating - register early!
 
 
 
 
Some of the fixings for quinoa - roasted squash salad. It is fresh, flavorful - and festive (taste and see the finished product at the workshop - my photo accidentally got deleted from my memory card :(
 
 
Give yourself a Christmas gift...set yourself up for Healthy Holiday Eating.
Posted by karen
karen's picture

Hold the line on healthy.

 
We're marching into the season where schedules and life get busier, and if we're not intentional about it, healthy eating patterns and food choices can end up somewhere "down there" on the list. 
 
It's not the time to opt for nutrient-deprived fast food, to stock up on processed "easy meals," or fill up on the goodie trays in the coffee room at work.
 
Flu bugs and colds are not taking a holiday. Stress and sleep slip out of balance. 
 
 
This is the call: strengthen the ramparts on healthy eating.
 

Here's my defensive eating plan.

Greens

Greens are on the menu - every day, at least once a day. In a salad, a green smoothie or transformed into a "hot dish." Please read more about  these super foods and find recipe ideas from my "gotta have greens" article on active.com.
 
 

Miso

A cup of miso soup will be my hot drink choice for some of my "tea breaks". Miso is a fermented product with probiotics (aids digestions), it's also good for circulation, blood pressure and resists toxins. Miso makes a tasty, nutritious addition to all kinds of dressings, sauces and dishes. It's interesting trying a variety of misos - pictured below are brown rice and soybean.
 
 
 
 

Easy peasey cup of soup, perfect for an appetizer too.

Pour boiled water into good-sized mug. Stir in 1 tsp miso. Add chopped green onions, snippets of dulce, finely grated carrots, (opt - tiny cubes of tofu). Stir thoroughly, let sit for 2 - 3 minutes and enjoy.
 

"I'd like to bring something."

This will be my answer when invited to a party. One idea for an appetizer: a veggie tray and healthy dips . It's a great way to introduce a nutritious buffet option, besides knowing the list of ingredients:) The following guacamole recipe has a different taste twist, with some bonus nutrients.
 
 
 
 

Miso Dulce Guacamole -  great for fresh veggies or tortilla chips, or as a spread on wraps with fresh veggies

2 well-ripened avocados, pitted and skins removed, *save pits
1/2 tomato, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup finely chopped dulce or nori
1/4 cup minced red onion
1/4 cup tahini
2 Tbsp. miso paste (brown rice or soybean)
1 1/2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 tsp. hot pepper flakes
olives for garnish
 
Mash all the ingredients together or process in a food processor. Best if eaten the same day. *Putting the pits back into the dip until time to eat will help stop the dip from turning brown.
 
(Nutrition notes: avocadoes are full of healthy fats, garlic and onion: antioxidants, 
 
(adaptation from Thrive: the Vegan Nutrition Guide by Brendan Brazier)
 
 

Avoid refined sugar.

Okay, refined sugar is really hard to escape at this time of year.  I know I'll be indulging sometime. 
 
That's the key. Sometime - which doesn't mean sampling everything on the dessert tray.  Choosing something special that I really want to taste.
 
I plan to be extra diligent in my own kitchen, where I have the choice, the ingredients and the tools to create sweet treats without refined sugar.
 
Both for eating at home and sharing with others.
 
 

I have a simple plan. Now, to move forward with courage.

I live a real life in a human body and like everyone else,  I live in a nutritional "war zone".

But I have a plan. Do you too? Let me know!

Posted by karen
karen's picture

My house is a maze of boxes and suffused with the energy and excitement combo that accompanies an approaching change. No, I'm not in one of my rare seasonal house-cleansing frenzies. This weekend our daughter and family are moving out and forward, on to their next life adventure, ending their six-month transition period of living with us. A season where our house has pulsed with the activities and kafuffle generated by five people (and one cat) – added to our mix of two.

No surprise that the kitchen has been the hub – and a huge amount of gratitude goes to my daughter, Renee, who's masterminded (and implemented) most of the healthy feeding program to sustain all the creative and physical energy.

One person can't – or wouldn't want to – do such a task singularily. Renee's husband, Damien, has 'done' most breakfasts and I've taken some shifts as head or sous chef, cleaner-upper and filling in other gaps. Celine, Laurent and Brienne – aged 12, 10, and 8 – have had their daily kitchen chores plus food prep as requested. They're proficient in cutting and chopping veggies, concocting delicious salad dressings (move over, olive oil and balsamic vinegar), and blending super smoothies – all adding to the wake of accumulated food bits and pieces scattered on the kitchen floor.

My body has probably never been happier with iself – fuelled mostly by fruits and veggies, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds, dried fruits instead of sugar. Meals and snacks (a favorite part of the food plan) have been just out-and-out delicious and nutritious....

African Peanut-Potato Stew...Tortillas...Pumpkin & Black Bean Casserole... Falafel...Simple Oatmeal Raisin Cookies...Slow-Cooked Tofu in Pineapple Barbecue Sauce...Creamy Cashew Lemon Pie...Easy Spinach & Mushroom Lasagna... Hearty One-Pot Meal Miso Soup...Raw Peanut Butter Cookies...Buckwheat Hazelnut Pancakes...Grated Beet & Carrot Salad... Chickpea and Roasted Tomato Salad...Savoury Millet Stew...Breakfast Rice Pudding...Roasted Potato & Asparagus Salad...Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge...

But even when it's great, we can have our moments when we want a change of menu. This week for Celine, that meant finding an alternative breakfast recipe that she could make for the household. This health-aware pre-teen found one, tweaked it to use ingredients she had available – and we ate it this morning! Yum yum.

 

The Recipe: Pomegranate Muesli

Ingredients:

2 cups pomegranate juice

1 cup steel cut oats (could also use old fashioned oats – not quick or instant)

1/2 cup each sunflower and pumpkin seeds

4 apples, peeled and grated

1/4 cup cashews, coarsely chopped

5-6 cups fruit – combination of sliced strawberries and blueberries

1/3 cup raisins

1/4 cup ground flax seeds

2-3 Tbsp. hemp hearts

Instructions:

Soak oats and seeds in pomegranate juice overnight in refrigerator.

In the morning, stir in remaining ingredients. 

 

Note – add or substitute other fruits.

Makes 5-6 servings.

Nutritrient Notes:

-- soaking the oats and seeds overnight contributes to better digestion

-- pomegranates - high in vitamin K, contain vitamin C, choline, magnesium, potassium and calcium

-- hemp hearts - high in protein and fibre

-- flax seeds - omega-3 fats, selenium, fibre, phytochemicals, antioxidants 

 

Celine's Dad peeled the apples (to helped speed up the operation) but she did pretty much everything else. When it came time to dish up our breakfast bowls, it wasn't only Celine who appreciated something new on the breakfast menu! 

The youngest cook in the house, Brienne, is not one to be left behind - in anything. You have to check out her Miso Soup Recipe - and try it. It's sure to become a lunch standby.

Cooking healthy meals takes planning, time and work - at any age. Inviting and allowing young cooks to mess about in the kitchen is messy. But it's fun - and offers them the pleasure of creating, and eating, nutritious food. A gift that will come back in spades - for their own healthy food habits and opening a window for future shared cooking experiences. 

When these young cooks are your grandkids, the pleasure is especially sweet. Who helps you in your kitchen?

 

(Photo thanks and credits to Fimby.)

Posted by karen
karen's picture

It's not simple. It's not one size fits all. It's not one specific diet/food plan for now and forever.

With the myriad of diet options and foods available, how can a person possibly choose the course of nutrition that is best for them?

Holistic nutrition adds to the "mystifiying" mix with its big-picture approach of body, mind and spirit: with food sharing the stage with exercise, sleep patterns, emotions, matters of the mind, stress, spiritual disciplines. 

Some selections on the diet buffet: not all inclusive and in random order.

 Fad diets.

You've probably got a common sense handle on these but in case you need some advice for your friends, here's some fad diet red flags:  focusing on only one food or a certain location demographic, promoting/selling a certain product, recommendations that ignore differences among individuals and groups, offering quick fix solutions, sounding too good to be true. I can't resist some examples: Apple Cider Diet, Acai Berry Diet, 3-Day Diet, FatLoss4Idiots Diet, Hollywood Diet, Beverly HillsDiet, (New) Beverly Hills Diet 

High-protein, low-carbohydrate.

Focus is usually weight loss. Typical proportion of protein is greater than in the average diet - calls for a large amount of water for metabolism. This water can be obtained by drinking but can also be "siphoned" from body tissues - resulting in an initial weight loss, which is in reality, mostly a loss of water weight.

Low fat.

A popular diet choice for disease prevention, e.g. heart disease, cancer. The "low fat" catchword and label doesn't always give the facts about different kinds of fats (our body needs "good" fats). It can also convey a false sense of "healthy" when the product may truly be low fat but high in sugar and salt.

Juicing.

The juice from raw, whole vegetables and fruits supplies nutrient-rich food directly to body cells. Live enzymes boost the immune system. Most often used for short-term fasts, cleansing and de-toxification.

Raw.

Often used to heal the gut and clean out the digestive tract. Called the "living food" diet, basically consists of uncooked whole foods. Provides good vitality and nutrient content, but might be low in protein, calcium and iron.

Gluten-free.

Eliminates grains with gluten and the foods containing products that have been processed from those grains. Most often in response to gluten intolerances or sensitivities: or tried as a test to determine those intolerances.

Vegetarian.

Some types are ovo-lacto, lacto, vegan - depends on the inclusion of animal products: only milk and eggs, only milk, or the exclusion of all products of animal origin. Balanced vegetarian diets are most often based on fruits and vegetables; nuts and seeds; whole grains, beans and lentils - with attention needed to get all the amino acids for complete protein.

Metabolic typing (or nutritional typing).

A nutritional program that focuses on an individual's unique dietary needs, based on a variety of factors. e.g. gender, genetics, hormone levels, age, culture, blood type, stress levels, seasonal changes, and many others.

Yikes - it's complicated...and your choice can compromise your health.

Where does one even start?

-- whatever the diet, eat a variety of foods within the different food groups, e.g. switch up the vegetables, choose different beans, grains, etc. This broader spectrum can ensure a greater range of nutrients and help to reduce the risk of allergies. Variety also makes meals more yummy and interesing! 

-- feeling unwell or "yucky" after eating certain foods are likely indicators that dietary changes may be necessary. 

-- never say never - be prepared to be adaptable to change, then accept responsibility for food choices and continue learning.

-- don't be scared to try something for a brief test (assuming you're not taking medication, which will affect your eating flexibility) - e.g. introduce your body to a two-day juice fast,  eat raw for a few days  experiment with gluten-free(GF) eating by discovering new grains

-- a general healthy diet overview: low in fat and salt; minimal to no processed sugar; reasonable amounts of whole grains, beans, fresh veggies and fruits, lean animal proteins

-- read, read, read: research food facts and reviews; read nutrition blogs :)

--  seek the help of a qualified nutrition practitioner to help address nutrient imbalances and assist you through the diet maze. They can give you recommendations that are personalized to your specific nutritional needs.

Wrapping it up.

Annemarie Colbin in Food and Healing summarizes it this way: food is our helper, not our master. It's a facilitator and tool, our ally and teacher. Food can nourish us well if we choose well; if incorrectly chosen, food can teach us lessons about our body that we may, or may not, heed. If we experience negative results from our eating choices we should take that as information, not punishment.

As a nutrition coach and educator, I spend a lot of time thinking about food: appreciating its pleasures and grateful for its nutritious, healing powers. But in all the search for the right food, the right diet, the right nutritional formula, I need the regular reminder that food is a part of our sense of well-being. Whole health also includes aiming our lives positively, following our individual path in meaningful work, being thankful for life, and living with love and relationship.

Be well - let me know how you navigate the diet maze.

Posted by karen
karen's picture

I just returned from a week's vacation. My husband and I explored (mostly by car, some by bicycle) East Coast islands where we'd never been before, we practised our un peu français on patient restaurant waiters and shop keepers, and enjoyed the company of two friends-travel-mates.

Summer vacations for us are traditionally camping trips. These 'facilities' have been varied - a camper, trailer, van, a bare-bones cabin. Currently, our 3-person tent plus gear works well to "set up house"  where we can eat and sleep well: a home base for running, cycling, hiking, touring. This set-up suits both me and my husband from several angles - flexible options for our "home" base, it's conducive to physical activity and - especially important - we can cook the food we want to eat.

Our recent getaway was different, with a mix of accommodations, which translates into challenges for nutritional eating choices. 

A couple nights, the price for the "bed" included breakfast - not totally a take-what-you're served, but sort of. The first inn cooked up an omelette and dark-grain toast that was great - as wholesome as the other B&B guest, Nick, a serious cyclist from the U.K. who encouraged us to "go for it" on road-bike tours. (Yes to that!). Another day's petit dejeuner scored on presentation but it was mostly 'white' and sweet - its only redeeming quality was the inclusion of a few apple chunks. 

Craving home-cooking: checked in at a cottage with a kitchen.

So now we had  cooking facilities - which turned out for naught, other than some tools to prepare a tray of cheese, nuts and nachos to go with a glass of wine - and to brew morning coffee. Pretty pathetic considering my passion for healthy, real food. But that's what can happen with last minute planning and reservations (I won't elaborate how this came to be - and I'm not saying I don't like spontaneity).  When you find yourself perched on an ocean waterfront spot (albeit  a starkly beautiful one) whose only food options are at a local gas station-convenient store and a fish and chips shop, choices are limited

And healthy options are almost non-existent.

The convenient store was a definite no. Enter "the other" menu decision: fish and chips (which my husband regrettably ordered); pizza (which wasn't available after 5:00 p.m.); soup, salad or a burger. I'd had a decent veggie salad for lunch and I was suspect of the creamy soups so I opted for a fish burger. Real, flaky haddock  - not finely minced mystery meat. An acceptable and tasty choice.

Next day - ferry ride with our bicycles and stuffed paniers: destination Les Îles de la Madeleine, QC.

A five-hour ferry trip gave us ample time to decipher stumble our way through the French tour guidebooks - figuring out where to buy food, what to see and do. (One of our travel mates was bilingual but my brain worked hard to dredge up bits and pieces of my high school French.) A 5 kilometre bike ride from the ferry and we pulled in to our next "home",  a comfortable hostel-cabin built as a replica of the islands' fishing huts (closely resembling a miniature grain elevator). By then it was dark. No grocery shopping that night.

Empty the paniers  for breakfast options - not bad (if you skip the dark chocolate), but better saved for cycling snacks.

This is morning number four without cooked whole-grain cereal - I'm in withdrawal. Too bad. The biking snacks went into a panier for later and off we cycled for breakfast at a boulangerie-deli.  The local soft fromage  was yummy: my husband "went for French" with a croissant, my muffin looked like bran but wasn't close. A plain baquette would have been a better choice - what was I thinking?

I don't want to come across as a complainer. Overall I was having a good time, but food-wise, things had to improve - which they did.  About 40 kilometres later - literally at the end of the road on Île du Havre-Aubert.

Café de la Grave "Gets it"

I just knew it was going to be good as soon as I walked through the screen door, observed the patrons (and their plates of food) and absorbed the ambience of old wooden tables, books and an accordian sitting on a bench. And this cafe did not disappoint. How often do you see millet pie on a menu?! The pie's filling had shredded veggies, herbs, pine nuts, and of course, millet - all encased in just enough crust to house the whole yummy lot. With crisp, organic greens: I hit the jackpot!

 

We had "gas in our tanks" for the return ride.  A 10K stretch of the road bordered the Dune du Havre aux Basques, one of the five dunes that are signature features of these archipelago-type islands. 

Cycling is a great sport. The physical exertion leaves your body tired in a satisfied kind of way - and it munches a lot of calories. We were not going to have a repeat of no food to cook like the previous nights: a quick  stop at the Co-op store and our paniers bulged with fresh vegetables, salmon steaks and a bottle of wine.

Not far from "home"  I distinctly detected one of my favorite aromas. Roasting coffee beans.  

We'd passed by Cafés du Moussonneur several times since arriving on the island and had not clued in to what was in the non-descript building. Didn't know what we'd been missing.

 

The best americano misto we've ever drank.

As lovely as the drink's presentation was to behold, this mellow yet rich espesso elixir was divine. And it wasn't just because my standard one-cup-a-day had been hours ago, or that we'd been on a bike all day so energy levels were low. The "refill" on the next morning's visit  was equally wonderful.  That's when we found out the secret. The espresso they used is a combination of four beans, one of which they air-dry and shake the green beans on racks by the seashore, removing any bitterness before roasting. Can you believe it? 

A return trip to these islands is immiment: more days to cycle around all the islands but equally alluring, is to have another Camacho espresso coffee.

Too soon we were re-tracing our journey home, on the ferry with plenty of time to reflect on the past few days. New experiences and sights were gifts to be thankful for. Yes, I was looking forward to my kitchen and well-stocked pantry, but this had been a good test in making food decisions with what was presently available.

And I made mental notes to be better prepared for next time - even if it's just bringing  a bag of rolled oats.

 

 

Keeping a Food Log

06 Sep 2011
Posted by karen
karen's picture

Have you ever thought about what - and how much - you eat and drink in a day, in a week? For too many of the world's population, the answer to this question is a painful and unjust reality of our global food distribution. For those who live in the affluent Western world, however, this revealing exercise could prompt us to change our tune if (when)  we say "I eat very little refined sugar"  - and to adjust our gratitude meter when the local market has run out of our favorite lemon basil but yet has five or more varieties of greens.

In the general sense, record-keeping has merit.  We (should) track things like what we earn and spend - and many of us keep diaries or journals of events and activities. Their purpose can be intended for pleasure or need-to-know information: useful tools for review and direction. Most of us know at least one shutterbug who thinks, "...if I don't photograph "it", "it" didn't happen..." Well, things do happen regardless of whether or not we snap that picture. To sustain life we all consume food and drinks - most of us do so several times a day. Recorded or not, "it" happens.

This daily fueling routine is anything but a ho-hum occurrence. What we consume (and what our body absorbs - but that's a whole other post and more) isn't just to stop the gnawing sensation in our belly. Indicators we get - fluctuating energy levels, see-sawing moods, cravings declaring control, not to mention how our clothes fit and the number on our bathroom scale - are affected by all those items recorded (or not) on a food log.

It takes courage and commitment.

A (truthful) food log is a useful tool in my job as a holistic health coach, helping to assess nutritional imbalances, sports nutrition requirements, food sensitivities, allergies, etc.

I recently filled out one of these for myself because I was upping my running mileage and was curious how many calories/day I was consuming. I kept the log on the fridge so I wouldn't forget - if you're sensitive about curious onlookers you might want to find a different handy spot. To tell the truth, after the week was up I got busy doing work and living life (like running and taking grandkids to the beach) so the calorie calculations haven't yet been done. But the log has still been helpful: something I changed after that was to eat more daily servings of veggies than fruits, rather than the reverse. I still cringe when I see this entry: 15 (!) chocolate-covered almonds. I don't even like them and the sad part is that they had awful chocolate! Overall, my breakfasts were pretty 'strong' but I decided I have to be more intentional about enough nutrition for lunches that I pack along. Just a handful of fruit doesn't cut it.

Expect some temptations during your "Dear Food Diary" week

to avoid or cut back on certain foods or drink.

- to change your mind about consuming something ("for this time") because of the hassle of having to remember to write it down ( the list is at home...

- to "fudge it" on serving sizes, or "forget"  to include certain foods you consumed - even if you're the only one privy to the list.

Look for some clues from your Diary

- food choices and eating patterns you weren't aware of  - e.g. an automatic default of diet pop accompanying any meal that has the same ingredients as pizza

- which foods - or combination of foods - leave you feeling yucky after you eat

- what kinds of foods/meals do or don't give you enough umph to do your next fitness workout 

Seeing it all there in "black and white" can be surprising and frightening - but also enlightening.

If you're up to the challenge, print out the PDF file provided to get you started.

I dare you. Do the diary.

Pages