Just in time for Easter!
Just in time for Easter!
Honest-to-goodness, it’s purely a coincidence I blogged recently about fiber. But I was reading the newspaper while drinking my coffee a while back, and came across a blurb entitled, “Elephant Dung Coffee.” I stared suspiciously at my cup before putting it down next to me. Pretty sure I had enough.
Turns out in Thailand, they’re feeding coffee beans to elephants, then scrounging around their poo to pluck out the beans a couple of days later. The elephant’s particular brand of digestive joy creates the unique and exotic flavor of the coffee.
It costs $500 a pound. Local restaurants there are charging $50 per cup. It makes me wonder what the poo pickers’ wages are.
What do you think? Is coffee ever worth this much money? Is this a gimmick or is an elephant’s stomach acid truly magical? If you were in Thailand, would you try it?
I love avocados and I’m glad they’re okay to eat every day.
Lately there’s been a commercial on that makes me smile every time. The first time I heard their jingle, I wasn’t actually watching the TV. What I heard, however, was “Gobble, gobbles from Mexico.” Huh? So now that’s what I hear every … single … time.
Avocados are high in fat, but it’s the healthy kind — monounsaturated — that helps to lower cholesterol. There was a study done in 1996 (Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social in Mexico, Archives of Medical Research, Winter 1996) that concluded the participants who ate avocados every day had an average drop in their total cholesterol of 17%. Plus, their ‘bad’ cholesterol and their triglycerides both went down too.
I’ve been hearing for a long time about the need to have fat at breakfast, so having half an avocado makes perfect sense. The problem, however, is keeping the other half from getting all brown and ugly. I’ve tried many remedies to keep my avocado from uglifying, but nothing seems to work every time. And I don’t know about you, but to me, brown avocados are not at all appetizing!
But I really can’t justify eating an entire avocado in one sitting (so many calories! so much decadence!), so I bought this avocado saver.
I don’t have anything to do with this company, but it seemed like such an elegant (and cheap) solution to my problem that I wanted to try it.
You just cut your avocado in half and place the half with the seed into the keeper. Strap the little seatbelt on and put it in the refrigerator.
This avocado got lost in the back of my fridge for a few days (which seems to be a chronic problem for me lately), but you can see, it ain’t too bad. You could probably brush fresh lemon or lime juice on the cut side before putting it into the keeper, but I’m not convinced you have to.
I don’t typically like to have one-trick-pony kitchen utensils, but this and my mango slicer have come to be can’t live withouts for me. Oh, and my wine rack. Can’t live without that either.
I eat avocados sliced on my plate, spread on toast instead of butter, chopped in my omelette, stuffed inside burritos, and I’ve recently discovered using it to replace the mayo in tuna salad. Delish! What do you do with avocados?
I was in the grocery store and heard this conversation:
8-year-old Boy: “Will you buy this?”
Mom: “What is it?”
Boy: “I don’t know.”
Mom: “Sound it out or I won’t buy it.”
Curiosity got the better of me and I looked to see what he wanted her to buy. Aw, who am I kidding … there’s no way I wouldn’t look.
Surprise! He wanted Froot Loops.
I was oddly torn as to how I felt about this. On the one hand, I LOVED that she was engaged in her son’s reading education and giving him real-life reasons to practice. Heck … I wrote a book about ways to get kids to love to read doing those same types of things. [Shameless plug here for Reading Maniac — Fun Ways To Encourage Reading Success ... only 99¢ on Kindle. That's a picture of my adorable son on the cover. Thank you. Now back to your previously scheduled program, already in progress.]
But on the other hand, it was Froot Loops. Breakfast candy. Unnaturally sweet, crunchy vehicles for preservatives and red dye.
I lost track of them in the store so I don’t know if Boy sounded it out or not. Maybe if I had some closure, I’d know better how I felt about this slice of grocery store drama.
Maybe he did sound it out. Maybe he plopped himself down in the middle of the aisle and rattled off every one of those unpronouncable chemicals. Then, as his reward, his mom let him … eat every one of those unpronounceable chemicals. Hmm.
Or maybe he didn’t. Maybe it was Mom’s secret plan all along, knowing he couldn’t/wouldn’t sound it out and she’d be let off the hook and wouldn’t have to … say “no” and do her job as a parent. Hmm.
I guess closure wouldn’t have helped.
I’m going to pretend this is what happened:
8-year-old Boy: “Will you buy this?”
Mom: “What is it?”
Boy: “I don’t know.”
Mom: “Let’s look at some of these words. First, ‘Froot’ is spelled wrong … it should be ‘f-r-u-i-t.’ Hey, I know! Let’s go get some of that instead. I’ll buy you whatever kind you want.”
What do you think? Should Froot Loops be the reward for reading?
My delightfully snarky niece Robin visited Colorado. I’ll be the first to admit she has numerous reasons to mock me, but when she questioned my liberal use of coconut oil, I had to take a stand. Of course, my mind is like a sieve so I couldn’t remember anything I knew about coconut oil and therefore could not take a stand. But now that she’s back home, I’ve revisited my information, and in fact, found even more!
Coconut oil gets a bad rap because it’s a saturated fat, solid at room temperature. We’ve been taught both those things are bad. And they are, if you’re talking about Crisco or the fat from your steak. Those are both saturated fats comprised of long chain fatty acids.
But coconut oil is comprised of medium chain fatty acids. Totally different beast.
Long chain fatty acids can’t be metabolized in your body. Medium chain can be. Dr Oz talks about coconut oil’s Super Powers here. His favorite uses for coconut oil include weight loss, skin care, and to fight bacterial conditions. (I tested him about the skin care thing when I got a sunburn.)
The Coconut Research Center says, “Published studies in medical journals show that coconut, in one form or another, may provide a wide range of health benefits.” They list a gazillion — yes, I counted — but these might be of interest to you:
• kills viruses, bacteria, fungi and yeasts
• improves insulin secretion and utilization of blood glucose
• reduces health risks associated with diabetes, osteoporosis, ulcers, and heart disease
• reduces inflammation
• dissolves kidney stones
• helps promote weight loss
So, Robin, my love … the next time you visit I will once again spread coconut oil on your sprouted grain toast, offer you sodypop sweetened with stevia, and frown at your filthy cigarette habit. But I will try to refrain from running red lights with Grandma in the car.
Do you use coconut oil? Do you have a delightfully snarky niece? Have you ever run a red light with Grandma in the car?
I stumbled upon something delicious today.
Last week I read in a magazine that balsamic vinegar drizzled over strawberries is — and I quote, “Amazing.”
My reaction was more like — and I quote, “Blech.”
That doesn’t sound very good, does it? The blurb said it makes less-than-ripe strawberries delicious, and ripe strawberries— well, we’ve already been down that road.
I can’t resist organic strawberries on sale even though it’s a little early in the season, at least here in Colorado. But I bought some and chose a few to complement* my breakfast this morning (leftover Chicken-and-Waffles … yum!) Imagine my surprise when they were a tad unripe.
Further imagine my surprise that I remembered something I read in a magazine last week!
So I sliced and drizzled.
Might I just say — and I quote, “Delicious!”
*I originally typed ‘compliment’ and it made me giggle and spin off into “What If Land” momentarily. What do you think my strawberries would say to my leftover Chicken-and-Waffles? Have you ever had strawberries drizzled with balsamic vinegar? Will you now?
Everyone seems to have their own idea of what constitutes “low” and “high” values within their diet. All the dietary guidelines vary based on a person’s weight, gender, health, and activity level. I’m about 140 pounds, in excellent health and I exercise at least thirty minutes almost every day.
I eat about 1800 calories per day divided between six small meals so I eat about 300 calories per meal. I’ve been told to shoot for about 90 grams of protein per day. Here’s a calculator you can play with to figure out your protein needs, if you want to do some math.
The U.S. Institute of Medicine recommends a minimum intake of 130 grams of carbohydrate per day, so if you divide that by my six meals, you get an average of 21 grams of carb per meal.
Fiber is a specific type of carbohydrate that comes only from fruits, vegetables and grains. Soluble fiber controls blood sugar and may also lower cholesterol. Non-soluble fiber doesn’t appear to lower blood sugar or cholesterol but helps your bowels function, ahem, smoothly. According to the American Dietetic Association, adults need between 20 and 35 grams of fiber every day. Again, dividing by my six small meals, I should average about 6 grams/meal.
There is no daily requirement for sugar, but I read one of Jorge Cruse’s books where he says to try to stick to less than 15 grams of sugar per day. I don’t eat any refined sugar and most of my sugar comes from fruits and veggies, but I am consistently well over 15 grams every day. I don’t worry too much about it since it occurs naturally in my healthy food, but it is interesting to see which vegetables have sugar (onions and bell peppers, for instance). If you are concerned about sugar, watch out for yogurt. It has a ton. I’ve switched to Greek yogurt which has much less sugar.
Based on the above guidelines, the following breakfasts all fall into the low cal, high protein, low carb, high fiber, and low sugar parameters. Plus, they’re quick and easy. Enjoy!
• Spinach and Veggie Omelette
Sauté fresh spinach, onions, bell peppers, and/or celery in a teaspoon of olive oil. After the spinach is wilted, pour 1 whole egg + 2 egg whites, beaten, over it. Cover until it’s set then turn it when it’s cooked to your liking. Spread with 1T Wholly Guacamole and/or salsa. Also have 4-oz V8 juice
• BLT Wrap
Wash 2 or 3 large Romaine lettuce leaves. Spread with 1 wedge Laughing Cow cheese and 2T Wholly Guacamole. Roll up with 2 slices crispy microwave bacon and sliced tomato. You can also add sliced olives, onions, and/or bell peppers. Have 4-oz V8 juice, too.
• Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie
In blender, combine 8 oz unsweetened chocolate almond milk, 1T cocoa powder, 1t vanilla, and 2T natural peanut butter (the kind with only peanuts and salt as ingredients). Also have 1 whole grain Wasa cracker spread with 1T peanut butter.
• Greek Yogurt Parfait
Top 4oz non-fat plain Greek yogurt with 1C sliced strawberries. (You can mix in 1 packet of stevia to the yogurt, if you like it a bit sweeter.) Sprinkle with 2T sunflower seeds, and 2T dark chocolate chips (at least 60% cacao), too.
• Ham and Egg Scramble
Chop 4 thin slices of deli ham and add it to 1 whole egg + 2 egg whites. Add some chopped onions and bell peppers and season as you like. Scramble it all together and cook until done in nonstick skillet sprayed with 0-calorie nonstick spray. Also have 4-oz V8 juice.
I attended a workshop presented by Mary Schreiner, MPH (Masters in Public Health) and liked her common sense approach to good health. I figured you would too, so she graciously agreed to answer some of my current questions about weight management and good health.
Mary Schreiner has worked in the weight management arena since 1990 with both the American Heart Association and the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. Besides teaching weight loss classes, she’s been involved in several ‘Low-Carb vs Low-Calorie’ studies. Since she was overweight into young adulthood, she knows how difficult the struggle with weight control can be. It’s more than just eating less and exercising more. She speaks on several health related topics like:
~ Nutrition and Diet in Disease Prevention: Heart Disease, Diabetes, Alzheimer’s
~ Weight Loss Tips and Tricks
~ Women and Heart Disease
~ Exercise – The Fountain of Youth!
• I’m a big fan of protein at breakfast, but I was wondering if you advocate also having carbs or do you think it’s a better idea to save your carbs for lunch and dinner?
We need protein, carbs, and fats every day for our bodies and minds to function properly and remain healthy. Many people find that they are :
1 – eating too many carbs so are therefore taking in too many calories
2 – overdoing their meat consumption and not eating enough of the plant forms of protein, such as beans and nuts.
3 – choosing the wrong fats (cheese and processed foods), or are avoiding all fats so therefore are not getting enough good fats from avocados, nuts, seeds, olives and olive oil.
Having a good form of lean protein for breakfast is great. It keeps you mentally alert and it satisfies your hunger. However, your brain runs on carbs, so having a small amount is not a bad idea. Here are a few samples:
1 – scrambled eggs with a piece of whole wheat toast
2 – yogurt with crushed nuts and a fruit
3 – a small tortilla wrapped around scrambled eggs, or filled with peanut butter and chopped banana.
Carbohydrates, especially those from grains such as cereal, breads, pasta, rice, can make you feel a bit dull mentally. This occurs especially if you eat a large serving of them, or if you do not add a protein to them. So, having a lot of carbs at lunch might make you sleepy and less sharp in the afternoon.
Saving those carbs for the evening meal when you want to start relaxing and unwinding from the stress of the day makes sense. Also, having complex carbohydrates in the evening might help you to get to sleep quicker, and stay asleep throughout the night. A bowl of pasta with vegetables will work well for you. Having that big steak might taste good, but it will interfere with your sleep, and might get stored in your fat cells and arteries.
• I’ve heard we should “mix it up” with our food choices much the same way we’re told to not to get in a rut with our exercise routine. But I’m such a lazy creature of habit. Can you talk about that? The mixing it up, not my extreme laziness …
I am not as concerned about people eating a variety of foods as I am about their specific food choices.
We are creatures of habit because it is easy and mindless. If you are eating fruits and vegetables daily, getting some lean protein in at breakfast and lunch, and are adding nuts and seeds to your day, then keep doing what you are doing.
We have found that people trying to lose weight are actually more successful being “monotonous.” Variety often leads to overeating.
Mary has generously offered to review one lucky reader’s food journal so if you’re the first to tell me, either in the comments here or privately through the ‘Contact Me’ page, I’ll set it up. You’d have to do a few days of writing down EXACTLY what you eat — including quantities — so Mary can give you good feedback. Let me know if you want to have your diet dissected!
I have more questions for Mary for the future — next up, metabolism and how to figure out how many calories you should eat every day — but what about you? What do you want to ask a nutritionist? Wasn’t it nice that she validated my extreme laziness? Food rut, how I’ve missed you ….
First off, I hope you make it a point to eat breakfast every day. I’ve always heard you should eat like a king at breakfast, a princess at lunch, and a pauper at dinner.
Now, there might be research to back it up.
The study was done by Departments of Epidemiology and Cardiovascular Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham and the USDA/ARS Children’s Nutrition Research Center at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and published in the International Journal of Obesity. (I know! It’s exhausting reporting the news — such long sentences with so many facts!) They were interested in the correlation between what you eat and when you eat it. Their results seem to show that eating fat for your first meal of the day might prevent metabolic syndrome which is the culprit in all kinds of problems like belly fat, insulin resistance, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high triglycerides.
The study involved mice fed high fat or high carb meals at different times of day. Scientists have known for a long time that the first meal of the day sets your metabolism for the rest of the day. The mice who ate the high fat breakfast, with a smaller lunch and even smaller dinner, lost more weight and had lower blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes. The fatty breakfasts seemed to kickstart the mice’s metabolism letting them metabolize fats AND carbs throughout the day. When they ate fat later in the day or when they ate cereal for breakfast, they were more likely to see the effects of metabolic syndrome.
An easy way to put this way of eating into practice without changing what you eat is to have your big breakfast of bacon and eggs in the morning instead of cereal, then switch to smaller meals with your good, whole grain carbs and veggies at lunch and dinner. Same number of calories, just swapped around. Check with your doctor and see if s/he agrees.
I eat bacon and/or eggs and/or avocado and/or cheese almost every morning. What about you? What is your typical breakfast? Do you think the standard American breakfast of cereal and toast is contributing to our obesity crisis? Is that the standard American breakfast? Do you eat breakfast every day?