Saturday, February 23, 2013

Fiber it up!

One of the many things I love about is that you can track whatever nutrients you are currently concerned about in your own healthy living plan. To do so:
1. (At Top of Home Page) Choose settings
2. Choose Diary Settings
3. Choose which nutrients you would like to track
I change this from time to time so that I can track something I am monitoring as I work at getting the needed daily amount of that nutrient in my diet.
For this week’s challenge much of my information came from your new favorite Nutrition Diva. Can you believe it? I am going to ask you for the next week’s challenge to track Fiber.
Nutrition Diva shares four reasons that including lots of fiber in your diet are of great benefit:
Reason #1 Fiber fills you up.
  If you're watching your weight, fiber is your best friend. High fiber foods fill you up with fewer calories because they are naturally bulky, which makes your stomach feel full. Fiber also slows down the digestive process so you can go longer without feeling hungry again. It even decreases the amount of fat and calories that are absorbed from the digestive tract! Trying to lose weight on a low-fiber diet is like parallel parking without power steering. Sure, it's possible, but why make things harder than they need to be?
Reason #2. Fiber prevents disease.
Fiber is your body's janitorial staff. It sweeps up digestive and cellular debris, mops up cholesterol, environmental toxins and surplus hormones, and takes out the trash. That's why a high-fiber diet reduces your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and many kinds of cancer. If you've ever been in Manhattan during a garbage strike, you know that waste management is one municipal service you don't ever want to live without. Same with your body.
Reason #3. Life is better when you're regular
The only people who find the subject of irregularity funny are those who've never suffered from it. And the two of you can just keep your chuckles to yourself! The reason so many people suffer from occasional or chronic constipation is that most people don't eat anywhere near enough fiber. 'Nuff said.
Reason #4. Fiber hangs out with a cool crowd.
You can get more fiber by taking a fiber supplement every day. But you'll be much better off if you simply eat more foods that are naturally rich in fiber. That's because fiber tends to be found in foods that are also full of antioxidants, phytonutrients, lignans, phenols, and other good stuff. When you eat more high-fiber foods, your entire diet gets a nutritional upgrade.

See how much sexier fiber is than you ever imagined?

The USDA recommends that you get at least 25 grams of fiber a day. Nutrition Diva recommends 35-40 grams. For this next week of our competition you will earn the 5 bonus points every day that you eat at least 25 grams of fiber (but try to shoot for 35-40).

The easiest way to increase the fiber in your diet is to:
1. Include high fiber cereal in your diet.
2. Be sure to eat several servings of fruits and vegetables every day.
3. Eat more beans and legumes and choose whole grains over refined as often as possible.
4. Other foods high in fiber are avocados, sunflower seeds, tahini (sesame butter), dried figs, green peas, sun-dried tomatoes, and popcorn.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A little more informed and inspired every day

While hosting one of our healthy living challenges a participant asked me "Do you ever worry you will run out of ideas for our weekly challenge?" I have to admit that one gave me a chuckle. Honestly there seems to be an endless list of ways we can fine tune the healthy care we give to this miracle that is our body.

Personally I love reading about health and wellness and would love to recommend three of my personal favorites in healthy books:

SuperFoods RX by Dr. Steven Pratt. In this book Dr. Pratt highlights information about 14 Superfoods that he believes can stop the incremental deterioration that lead to common ailments and diseases. Honestly this one got me excited about :beans, blueberries, broccoli, oats, oranges, pumpkin (I even tried a recipe for pumpkin soup that even my dog wouldn't eat), wild salmon, soy, spinach, tea, tomatoes, turkey, walnuts and yogurt.

Food Rules by Michael Pollan covers what to eat and what not to eat in a short easy to read book.  Pollan has become famous for saying "Eat food, Not too much. Mostly plants". I love Pollan's other books The Omnivore's Dilemma and In Defense of Food but this one is an easier read with quick tips that can largely affect your health. I gave this book to all 5 of my adult children. Here are a couple of my favorite rules: 1. Stay out of the middle of the supermarket; shop on the perimeter of the store. Real food tends to be on the outer edge of the store near the loading docks, where it can be replaced with fresh foods as soon as it goes bad 2. Don't eat anything that won't eventually rot. There are exceptions (honey) but as a rule, things like Twinkies that never go bad aren't food. 3. Don't eat anything with more than 5 ingredients or ingredients you can't pronounce. The small slim paperback contains many more and is one of my very favorites!

50 Ways To Soothe Yourself Without Food by Susan Albers is another great book. Albers explains that while food has the power to temporarily alleviate stress and sadness, enhance joy, and bring us comfort when we need it most this sadly results in as much as 75% of eating being motivated by emotions rather than physical hunger. Some of my favorites of the methods Albers recommends INSTEAD of food for self soothing: Soothing Affirmations, Soak Away Stress,  and Crafty Ways to Self Sooth. I'm sure you will find some great suggestions that will work for you in this book.

At this point I'm sure you are starting to worry. Is Sandee going to make us read an entire book for our challenge this week and my answer is NO! But I am going to challenge you to read something each day (for 5 bonus points per day) about nutrition that you find enlightening or inspiring. It can be one of these three books or I can also recommend my favorite podcast/blog about nutrition
Nutrition Diva: Quick and Dirty Tips For Eating Well and Feeling Fabulous. You can find Monica Reinagel at and can enjoy her podcasts, read her blog or subscribe to her e-mails. I think you will find her knowledgeable and inspiring. Among a few of the topics she has addressed recently: Are Steel Cut Oats Healthier? What type of Rice is the healthiest? Is Coconut Water Good for you? Monica handles topics with solid rather than fad science and is a good guide in your personal health decisions.

So that's your challenge ladies! For every day that you read something informative and inspiring on a healthy living topic (which would of course include topics other than eating- exercise, meditation etc.) you can claim your 5 daily bonus points.

And I would love it if you would share a few of the tid bits you learn in the comment section for this blog entry! Read away!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Eating bugs- yummmmmm!

Hmmmmmmm not sure if any of you ever try to guess what our next challenge will be, but if you do I bet I would have stumped you this week. I am going to challenge you to eat some bugs. You’ll be relieved to know I’m not referring to the creepy crawly, and maybe even leggy and crunchy roaches, ants or crickets-- I’m talking about microscopic bugs—the beneficial bacteria that are naturally present in foods like yogurt or kefir. 
According to one of my favorite nutrition bloggers Monica Reinagel M.S.,L.D./N. from  “Every traditional cuisine has developed some sort of naturally fermented or cultured food. There’s Japanese miso, Bulgarian yogurt, Polish sauerkraut, Indian lassi, and Korean kim-chee. And each of these plays a central role in that culture’s cuisine … and for good reason. All of these foods contain lactobacillus bacteria, which are extremely beneficial to your health. In the days before antibiotics and other drugs, cultured and fermented foods were critical to staying healthy.”
Monica goes on to explain that “The friendly bacteria found in these foods actually set up housekeeping in your gut, where they do all kinds of good things for you: They help digest your food and produce certain vitamins for you. They keep the lining of your intestines slick and shiny. Most of all, they make it harder for unfriendly bacteria to take hold and make you sick.”
In other words if we have a basic population of beneficial bacteria in our gut our digestive system will work better and our body will be healthier and better able to fight off disease.
Monica goes on to explain that “Unfortunately, the traditional methods of fermenting cabbage in stoneware crocks, or burying salted vegetables in pits in the back yard, or culturing warm goat’s milk on the hearth are just not as common as they used to be. Instead, we have ultra-pasteurized milk that keeps for six weeks. Let me assure you that no beneficial bacteria survive the ultra-pasteurization process.”
Personally I’d love to have a chance to try some kim-chee or lassi so if anyone knows where it can be found in Central Florida let me know but the easiest way to get our daily lactobacillus fix is to eat yogurt or drink kefir regularly (Note: Kefir is a fermented milk drink made with kefir grains and is believed to have its origins in the Caucasus Mountains. It is available in health food stores and I think it tastes basically like a yogurt drink but almost like it has a bit of carbonation. My sons love it) Which brand of yogurt should you buy? Look for brands that advertise “living cultures” but it is not necessary to pay extra for fancy yogurts that promote digestive health. Regular yogurt contains all that you need.
It’s pretty easy to work some yogurt into your daily diet. Besides eating it as a breakfast or snack you can easily add it to smoothies or soups or use it in dips or spreads .
And I’m a step ahead of you ladies in your day dreaming. Does frozen yogurt (one of my all time favorite treats) contain live active yogurt bacteria and qualify as “eating yogurt’?  Maybe and maybe not. It seems that while the freezing process does NOT kill the yogurt bacteria some frozen yogurts  use heat-treated yogurt, which does kill the live and active cultures. The best way to find out is to ask at your local frozen yogurt shop or look for the NYA Live & Active Cultures seal. What you want is live active yogurt bacteria. And remember if you find a frozen yogurt which contains live culture but also has sugar it DOES count as a sugar day! You might enjoy plain or unsweetened yogurt with some fresh fruit or non-caloric sweetener added. 

For every day that you eat at least ½ cup of a fermented food (sauerkraut, miso, yogurt, kefir, kim-chee etc.)  containing live and active cultures you earn the daily 5 bonus points. Happy yogurt eating ladies! 

Monday, February 4, 2013

Spice it up!

Near the top of our list of goodies we just must get in-- are antioxidants. Insufficient levels of antioxidants cause oxidative stress and may damage or kill cells. Recent research has been done concerning the power of antioxidants to prevent diseases such as cancer, coronary heart disease and even altitude sickness.  
You are probably aware that vegetables, nuts and grains are antioxidant power houses and now a recent study shows that a surprising category should be added to the list: herbs and spices.
When Rune Blomhoff and other scientists at the University of Oslo in Norway assessed just how much these culinary accents can contribute to a person’s total intake of dietary antioxidants, they found the amount to be significant. As little as 1 gram (about 1⁄2 teaspoon) of cloves will contribute more dietary antioxidant than a 1⁄2-cup serving of blueberries or cranberries, two foods famous for their antioxidant levels. And 1⁄2 teaspoon dried oregano contains the antioxidant of 1⁄2 cup sweet potatoes.
Cloves, oregano, allspice, cinnamon, sage, peppermint, thyme and lemon balm lead the pack. Blomhoff says both fresh and dried varieties work: “Many fresh herbs contain so much antioxidant that when dried they are still very good sources.” And benefits can even come in the form of teas, which, according to Blomhoff, “may be a significant dietary source.”
Top 10 Dried Herbs & Spices
·      Cloves

·      Cinnamon

·      Rosemary

·      Thyme

·      Marjoram

·      Oregano
Top 6 Fresh Herbs
·      Oregano

·      Peppermint

·      Thyme

·      Lemon balm

·      Marjoram
So what is our challenge for the week? SPICE IT UP LADIES. 
For every day that you use a fresh or dried herb or spice in your cooking or that you enjoy a wonderful herbal tea and soak up those antioxidants you can award yourself the daily 5 bonus points.
And I challenge you to make an extra effort to use and include spices and herbs you have not used before. I especially love:
Fresh mint in a fruit salad, fresh basil in a home made bruschetta and my favorite favorite herbal tea is Coconut Custard Rooibus from Teas etc. or CocoCaramel Sea Salt from Teavana (and if you haven’t checked out your mall to see if they have a Teavana store which offers free daily taste testing and always includes a non-caffiene tea-- well get to the mall ladies)
Have an awesome week!