You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Health and Nutrition’ category.

With Halloween upon us, open season for sugar consumption begins. Though we’re free to eat whatever we want, it turns out that a steady diet of added sugars can have a devastating impact on health and wellness. The first step is always just to recognize how much sugar you’re consuming and one of the easiest ways to do this to to study food labels.

Sugar, by any other name… Sugar (in one form or another) is added to more food products than you can imagine. There are also a large number of “variants” of sugar – depending on the kind of processing that has occurred. Here is a list to get you started in identifying sugars. I’m sure you can come up with many more names for sugar:

Acesulfame-k

Apple Juice concentrate Aspartame

Baker’s sugar

Brown sugar

Corn syrup

Cyclamate

Demerara Sugar

Dextrose

Erythritol

Evaporated Cane Juice

Free Flowing Brown Sugars

Fructose

Galactose

Glucose

Grape Juice Concentrate

High Fructose Corn Syrup

High Maltose Corn syrup

Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate (HSH)

Honey

Invert Sugar

Isomalt

Lactitol

Lactose

Malt

Malittol

Maltodextrin

Mannitol

Maltose

Monatin

Maple syrup

Molasses

Muscovado or Barbados Sugar

Oligofructose

Orange Juice concentrate

Polydextrose

Panocha

Powdered or confectioner’s Rebiana/ Stevia

Rice Syrup

Saccharin

Sortbitol

Sucralose

Sucrose

Sugar (granulated)

Tagatose

Thaumatin

Treacle

Turbinado sugar

Xylitol

 

Books & Articles:

Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan. Penguin Books, NY. 2009.

In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan, Penguin Press, NY 2008.

Website:

The Center for Science in the Public interest devoted a page to explaining what additives go into our foods: Learn more at: http://www.cspinet.org/reports/chemcuisine.htm#dextrin

Advertisements

So many clients I work with are concerned with the way they look. When these concerns turn into self-loathing, unhealthy lifestyle habits set in and interfere with their ability to live life with abundance.

Singer and songwriter Colbie Caillat expresses this extremely well in her recent video available on You Tube. Take a look:

It should not be such a challenge to like what we see when we look at ourselves. Bottom line is that Photoshop and media outlets around the world continuously present us with a notion of beauty that really does not exist. We don’t have to live up to impossible standards!

Health and Wellness coaching is only one tool to help a person set their own standards for beauty, health and wellbeing. Pass this on if you know someone who has difficulty practicing self-love!

At the risk of sounding like a lyrical jingle from the Minnesota Public Radio show Prairie Home Companion, today’s blog is brought to you by ketchup. Ketchup you ask? If you’ve ever read the ingredients on any of the popular brands you know that most of them contain high fructose corn syrup, corn syrup, and natural flavoring. These aren’t necessarily the first things you might want to see your kids eat, but almost any kid in this country loves ketchup – and the salty, fried foods that we tend to occupy the space aside the ketchup. Read on for a tip on how to make this popular condiment a better eating experience for your little one.

photo by Lisa Missenda

photo by Lisa Missenda

Read the rest of this entry »

As some of my close friends could attest, up to a year after my return from living in rural Nicaragua, a trip to a supermarket was traumatic for me; I would become catatonic after a simple trip down the breakfast aisle at the local grocery store. There were just so many boxes, so much stuff to read and way too many choices. It took me several years and a lot of research to realize that in spite of all those apparent choices, with most any purchase of cereal, I was handing money over to one of four global food corporations.

According to Food and Water Watch, Kellogg Co., General Mills, PepsiCo and Post Foods control 79.9 percent of cereal sales, making shoppers hard pressed to find a box of cereal that is not owned by one of these big manufacturers. So, guess what? As long as our hard-earned dollars are primarily going to huge food companies, the real “choices” we are left with in the cereal aisle are more about how much sugar, artificial flavorings and pesticides we want to ingest first thing in the morning.

Nutritionally, most of the cereals that populate the breakfast aisles of grocery stores are loaded with highly refined carbohydrates that may satisfy you for a couple of hours, but lack enough grams of protein to get you past 11am. I am a big advocate for a good, high protein breakfasts. Moreover, most cereals are made with corn or wheat, two grains that dominate a nutritionist’s list of common allergens, and the farmers’ lists of crops needing the highest quantities of pesticides. To learn more about the cereals’ typical ingredients, see: Do I know what I’m eating?

I don’t watch a lot of broadcast television – so I have been isolated from most of the marketing that TV-watching-consumers see daily… but I have been taken in by more than one supermarket display…. The displays at the ends of the aisles (I call them end-caps) in supermarkets are highly valued supermarket real estate; these end-cap displays encourage impulse purchases.

Think about it – items offered on end-caps are not lined up with other options – so you as a consumer no longer have the handy capacity to compare prices with similar products. More than once my assumption has been that items displayed on end-caps are sale items and the best deal. According to Food and Water Watch, more than one-sixth of grocery purchases are tied to brand display advertisements, which are typically some of the most expensive items.

When it comes to breakfast don’t be taken in by marketing campaigns sponsored by one of 4 major food industries. Here are some basic rules:

  1. Eat breakfast.
  2. Make sure that protein is featured in your breakfast.
  3. Limit added sugars in your breakfast choices.
  4. Eat breakfast within an hour of waking.
  5. Drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages only after you have “broken your fast” (I always advice to ensure that there is at least some kind of food in your stomach before taking in caffeine).

To find out more about why I give this advice, subscribe to my blog.

July – absolutely the best time of year to source fresh, ripe, locally grown tomatoes. Farmers’ markets all around the metro DC area carry some really fabulous heirloom varieties. Here’s what to look for, and then how to store it and use it when you get home!

Look for red and ripe tomatoes. Lycopene, the star antioxidant available in tomatoes has a higher concentration when tomatoes are red and ripe.

Tomatoes should be FIRM, but yield to a little pressure; it is best to avoid tomatoes with bruises, cracks and a puffy appearance (Murray, et al., 2005).

Shy away from green: If the seeds of the tomatoes or any of the insides are green, than the tomato was most likely picked green and treated with ethylene gas to hasten its ripening. This is especially true for “vine-ripened” varieties that are priced higher than other conventionally grown tomatoes.

SMALL: There is more lycopene and vitamin C in tomato skins, therefore cherry and plum tomatoes are more nutritious and often taste sweeter than other varieties (Robinson, 2013).

ORGANIC: A ten-year study revealed that under the same climate conditions, organic tomatoes contained increased levels of the antioxidants, quercetin and kaempferol than conventionally grown tomatoes (Mitchell, et al., 2007). Choosing organic will also reduce consumer exposure to organophosphates, insecticides that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified as acutely toxic to bees, wildlife and humans.

Or if you want to skip the fresh tomato and go straight for the salsa or sauce… Tomato products are great because processed tomatoes are more bio-available than raw tomatoes, pastes and sauces are a good choice if one is looking to increase dietary antioxidant intake.

When buying tomato products, consider the packaging. U.S. products follow more strict packaging regulations related to exposure to toxic metals, and plastic-lined cans which may release bisphenol A (BPA). This hormone disrupter more actively leaches into acidic foods like tomatoes. It is much safer to buy tomato products packed in glass jars or Tetra packs (Murray, et al., 2005 and Robinson, 2013).

References:

Environmental Protection Agency website: http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/about/intheworks/clothianidin-registration-status.html#basic Gartner, C., Stahl, W., and Sies H. (1997). Lycopene is more bioavailable from tomato paste than from fresh tomatoes. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 66(1), 116-122.
House, P. (n.d.). Top 10 Foods Highest in Lycopene. http://www.Health.Alicious.Ness.com, Web. 03 Jan. 2014.
McGee, H. (2004). On food and cooking: The science and lore of the kitchen (Revised). Scribner: New York, NY.
Mitchell, A.E., Hong, Y., Koh, E., Barrett, D.M., Bryant, D.E., Denison, R.F., and Kaffka, S., (2007). Ten-year comparison of the influence of organic and conventional crop management practices on the content of flavonoids in tomatoes. Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry 55, 6154-6159.
Murray, M. Pizzorno, J., and Pizzorno, L. (2005). The encyclopedia of healing foods. Atria Books: New York, NY.
Robinson, J. (2013). Eating on the wild side: The missing link to optimum health. Little, Brown and Company: New York, NY.

page2image36808 page2image36968 page2image37128

You know it, you’re going to bring home as many fresh tomatoes as you can carry from the farmers’ market! Here’s what to do when you get home:

Tomatoes should be stored at room temperature. If tomatoes have been refrigerated they should be allowed to recover at room temperature for a day or two before eating (McGee, 2004, p. 331). If unripe, tomatoes exposed to fruits and vegetables that emit ethylene gas (e.g. banana, apple, pear) can help to speed up ripening. Put tomatoes in a bag with one of these fruits (Murray, et al., 2005).

When preparing tomatoes, serve them with fat (olive oil is really great, or processed in sauces or salsa to increase lycopene bioavailability. Never cook in aluminum or cast iron, as tomato acid will bind to these metals and produce a metallic flavor to whatever your are cooking, and may have harmful effects on your health (Murray et al., 2005).

Other Factors to consider: Lycopene is one of several nutrients found in the tomato plant. While some of these natural chemicals provide fantastic benefits to human health, they are part of the tomato plant’s defense system; and help it fend off pest invasions as it grows. The tomato is part of the nightshade (Solanaceae) family, meaning that part of this defense system includes a stockpile other chemical defenses, usually alkaloids, which can be toxic to some individuals, causing inflammation and allergic reactions for susceptible individuals (Murray, et al., 2005).

References:

McGee, H. (2004). On food and cooking: The science and lore of the kitchen (Revised). Scribner: New York, NY.
Murray, M. Pizzorno, J., and Pizzorno, L. (2005). The encyclopedia of healing foods. Atria Books: New York, NY.
Robinson, J. (2013). Eating on the wild side: The missing link to optimum health. Little, Brown and Company: New York, NY.

page2image36808 page2image36968 page2image37128

July is typically when tomatoes ripen in northern climates. Farmers’ markets are heavily stocked with delicious ripe tomatoes in all types of heirloom varieties. The flavors offered in local fresh tomatoes are a giant leap from what you might find on supermarket shelves because tomatoes are one of many vegetables that taste much better when they are locally sourced or locally grown. Tomatoes also have healing power – especially when you convert them into a delicious sauce, salsa or juice.

photo by Lisa Missenda

photo by Lisa Missenda

The medicinal power of tomatoes is primarily attributed to their lycopene content. A red-colored plant nutrient from the carotenoid family, lycopene is one of the most efficient antioxidants; it prevents disease by scavenging and neutralizing free radicals before they can damage cellular structures (Murray, et al., 2005). To a lesser degree, tomatoes also contain beta-carotene, vitamin C, biotin, vitamin K and the flavonols, quercetin and kaempferol (Mitchell, et al., 2004 and Murray, et al., 2005).

Although other foods contain lycopene, tomatoes are the most popular source of lycopene in the U.S. diet, so tomatoes and tomato products are widely studied especially for their cancer-fighting potential. Most notably, a 22-year Harvard study showed a 21 percent decreased risk in prostate cancer in men who consumed 6.5 mg of dietary lycopene daily as compared to those consuming less (Murray, et al., 2005).

Other sources of lycopene include:

Tomato juice

1⁄2 cup

8,250 mcg*

Tomato, raw

3⁄4 cup

3,000 mcg

Guava, raw

1 medium

5,500 mcg

Watermelon, raw

3⁄4 cup

4,000 mcg

Guava juice

1⁄2 cup

3,500 mcg

Pink Grapefruit

Half

3,500 mcg

Rose hips puree

3/4 cup

800 mcg

Apricots, dried

3⁄4 cup

900 mcg

Papaya, fresh

3⁄4 cup

1828 mcg

Red cabbage, raw

3⁄4 cup

20 mcg

* stands for micrograms, also noted as μg; most phytonutrients are needed in small quantities measured in micro and milligrams. (Wildman, 2006, p. 57 & House, n.d.)

In terms of bioavailability, for the body to fully use tomato’s star nutrient, lycopene, it must be released from the food matrix, that is, all the components of the food and their molecular and chemical relationships to one another. As a carotenoid, lycopene’s chemical structure dictates that it can be released for the body’s use in the presence of fat and when the fiber content of the food is low. Therefore, processed tomato products (tomato juice, tomato paste, etc.) ingested with fat are better sources of bio-available lycopene than fresh tomatoes served with no fat (Gartner et al., 1997 & Brown, 2004).

That’s another reason why canning tomatoes and homemade tomato sauces is a great summer activity! You take advantage of local farmers’  fresh, ripe tomatoes, and then add them to make a super nutritious meal on a wintry day.

References:

Brown, M. J., Ferruzzi, M.G., Nguyen, M.L., Cooper, D.A., Eldridge, A.L., Schwartz, S.J., and White, W.S. (2004). Carotenoid bioavailability is higher from salads ingested with full-fat than with fat-reduced salad dressings as measured with electrochemical detection. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 80, 396–403.
Gartner, C., Stahl, W., and Sies H. (1997). Lycopene is more bioavailable from tomato paste than from fresh tomatoes. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 66(1), 116-122.
House, P. (n.d.). Top 10 Foods Highest in Lycopene. http://www.Health.Alicious.Ness.com, Web. 03 Jan. 2014.
McGee, H. (2004). On food and cooking: The science and lore of the kitchen (Revised). Scribner: New York, NY.
Mitchell, A.E., Hong, Y., Koh, E., Barrett, D.M., Bryant, D.E., Denison, R.F., and Kaffka, S., (2007). Ten-year comparison of the influence of organic and conventional crop management practices on the content of flavonoids in tomatoes. Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry 55, 6154-6159.
Murray, M. Pizzorno, J., and Pizzorno, L. (2005). The encyclopedia of healing foods. Atria Books: New York, NY.
Robinson, J. (2013). Eating on the wild side: The missing link to optimum health. Little, Brown and Company: New York, NY.
Wildman, R.E.C. (2006). Handbook of nutraceuticals and functional foods (2nd ed.). CRC Press: Boca Raton, FL. Google eBook.

Inventing your own pesto is easy! Mix and match the herbs you like (or have on hand) as well as the nuts and/or seeds you prefer most and follow the basic instructions below:

  • 3-1/2 cup of herb leaves (basil, cilantro, anise hyssop, mint; you can also use the flowers of plants like basil, sage and rosemary.
  • 2-4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 1/3 cup of roasted nuts or seeds (pine nuts, walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds….)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)

To prepare you will want to put the leaves, garlic, salt and Cheese, if you are using it in a blender and mix until you have a paste. drizzle in the oil slowly and blend until you have the consistency you desire. Note that if you use a nut like cashew, you will get a somewhat creamy result, especially if you add a tablespoon of lemon.

Keep tasting your creation. If your pesto tastes a little bitter, try throwing in a little basil or nuts like almonds or cashews; any one of these ingredients will sweeten it up – without sugar. If it tastes a little too oily, you will want to throw in some more herb leaves. And if it just seems like it’s missing something a teaspoon of lemon may just be the right touch.

Let yourself explore until you come up with the perfect pesto! Let me know how it goes!

If you are not feeling all that adventurous, check out these recipes, and do let me knowhow it goes.

Rt. 1 Farmers Market and Bazaar. June 21, 2014

Rt. 1 Farmers Market and Bazaar. June 21, 2014

Celebrate the summer solstice by serving yourself some delicious salad greens!

Remember that long, cold winter? We thought we’d never see summer, but it’s here, and greens like lettuces, spinach and arugula are abundant. Now is a great time to find some delicious greens at your local farmers’ market. Or, better yet – pick some fresh from your very own garden.

The dressing you put on your greens will really make a difference, so don’t settle for something store-bought. Mix up your own; it’s easy, and YOU control the flavors!

Go to my recipes page and click on Three Salad Dressings to find easy ways to serve up your salad greens. These are the same recipes I shared at the Rt. 1 Farmers Market and Bazaar today, in honor of the summer solstice.

Right around now in the mid-Atlantic region community farmers’ markets are starting up and running throughout the summer. I am a huge fan of farmers’ markets – a great place to get locally grown fruits and vegetables. Stay tuned for updates – I will be doing some cooking demonstrations here in PG county and elsewhere as the summer rolls out….

This past year, I have been volunteering at Unity Health Care giving some nutrition education talks to low income families who struggle to put good food on the table. So, today I am sharing with you this announcement from the Columbia Heights Community Marketplace – one place in the area that’s working on making farmers’ markets accessible to this population. Please take a look, donate and pass it on!

Just $25 dollars can DOUBLE the fruits and vegetables purchased by one low-income family for an entire month. Donate today to help families access healthy, affordable food!

The Columbia Heights Farmers’ Market officially kicked off its 5th season on April 19th. Last year, the farmers market matching funds program provided over $13,000 to make it easier for low-income families to eat healthy and stretch their food budgets. It’s simple. If a customer spends $5 on fruits and vegetables at the market using Federal nutrition benefits like food stamps, we provide an additional $5.

  • $5 in food stamps = $10 in healthy fruits and vegetables
  • $10 in food stamps = $20 in healthy fruits and vegetables

The program reached more than 1,200 families in the last two years alone. But now it needs your help to make sure these families can benefit again this year. See their appeal in the following video:

We need to raise $10,000 by May 21st to ensure that low income families can access healthy, affordable food for the entire 2014 market season.

Every dollar helps, so please donate today. Many thanks for your support, and we’ll see you at the market!

Health & Nutrition Counseling

An integrative approach to health and nutrition which includes Earth consciousness.

Archives

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 321 other followers

Advertisements