Sunday, October 26, 2014

Popeye's Challenge

If you’re looking to nourish your body with the foods you eat, you need to plan your diet to include a range of healthy foods from each food group: vegetables, fruits, dairy, protein foods and grains. Additionally, in some instances the way you combine foods can have a powerful affect on how readily your body is able to absorb the nutrients.
One major nutritional benefit of spinach is its vitamin content. The leafy greens boast an impressive nutrient profile that includes the fat-soluble vitamins A, E and K, as well as the eight water-soluble B vitamins and vitamin C. Spinach also contains iron, an essential mineral important for healthy circulation. Spinach provides one of the richest sources of vitamins A and K. Just 2 cups of raw spinach leaves -- equivalent to a 1-cup serving of vegetables, -- contains 5,626 international units of vitamin A, as well as 289.7 micrograms of vitamin K. This represents more than the entire day's recommended intake of both vitamins for both men and women. A serving of spinach leaves also contains approximately 0.8 milligrams of iron, about 10 percent of the recommended daily intake for men or 4 percent for women.
During digestion, your body relies on the presence of fat to properly absorb fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamins A and K. Your digestive tract breaks down the spinach, crushing the cells to release the vitamins within. Fat-soluble vitamins dissolve in fat droplets in your digestive system, then get absorbed by your intestines along with those fat droplets. If you have no fat in your digestive tract, the vitamins cannot dissolve properly and do not get absorbed in your small intestine. I remember when I was active in Weight Watchers they had a requirement to partake of a minimum amount of oil each day. I hated that requirement but do see the importance to our overall health.
Preparation methods also affect iron absorption. Spinach contains nonheme iron -- a type of iron not bound to heme proteins. Nonheme iron generally proves more difficult to absorb than heme iron -- the form of iron found in meat. Eating spinach along with vitamin C improves your nonheme iron absorption, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. Serving your spinach with iron-rich meat, or flavoring your spinach with acids, such as those found in citrus fruits or juices or vinegar, also help you absorb iron.
If you don’t want to eat your spinach raw try steaming it. Steaming is an ideal cooking method for nutrient absorption, and helps retain the water-soluble vitamin content of spinach. Since steaming doesn't require immersing the spinach in water, the water-soluble vitamins don't leach out of the spinach while it cooks. Cooked spinach can be tossed with a bit of virgin olive oil and some salt and pepper.

If you prefer raw spinach, maximize nutrient absorption by topping spinach salads with a salad dressing containing healthy oil. My favorite salad dressing is 1 T. olive oil whisked with 2 T. of balsamic vinegar. (I use that to dress a HUGE spinach salad for my husband and myself). I am a frequent visitor to my local olive oil and balsamic vinegar store. Yummmm one of my favorite treats!!

So what is our challenge for the week? You guessed it-For every day that you eat at least one serving (2 cups) of spinach paired with either a healthy oil or Vitamin C containing fruit (or better yet with both) you can claim 5 daily challenge points.

And if you want the easy way here is my favorite green smoothie recipe. I am going to experiment with adding some healthy oils and or citrus to my concoction!

Sandee’s Green Smoothie Recipe
Fill blender 7/8 full of greens (we like Costco Powerhouse greens which is mostly spinach with a bit of Kale and other greens)
1 frozen banana
2 T. organic cocoa powder
2 T. Peanut butter powder (Now available at super Walmart)
1 scoop protein powder (I prefer Warrior Blend Raw Vegan Powder)
1 cup milk (I use coconut but you can use cow, almond, soy)
1 cup water

1 cup ice

Friday, October 17, 2014

Early Post for Week Starting October 22- FAMILY DINNER

I hope I don't confuse anyone posting the challenge for next week early but I will be traveling without internet this weekend so wanted to post it before leaving town.

The information that follows is from Purdue University Center for Families’

Family Meals spell S-U-C-C-E-S-S

S = Smarter Children:
·       Improved vocabularies and reading skills
A study by Dr. Catherine Snow at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, followed 65 families over 15 years, looking at how mealtime conversations play a critical role in language acquisition in young children. The conversations that occur around the family table teach children more vocabulary and forms of discourse than they learn when you read to them. Improved vocabularies lead to better readers. Better readers do better in all school subjects.
·       Improved achievement test scores
A University of Illinois study of 120 boys and girls age 7 – 11 found that children who did well in school and on achievement tests were those who generally spent large amounts of time eating meals with their families.
·       Greater academic achievement
A Reader’s Digest survey of more than 2,000 high-school seniors compared academic achievement with family characteristics. Eating meals with their family was a stronger predictor of academic success than whether they lived with one or both parents. Share that with families who may not have money or education or a spouse, but do have it in their power to eat with their kids!
·       Higher grades
Research by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (CASA), and others, has found a striking relationship between frequency of family meals and grades. In 2003, the percent of teens who got A’s was 20% of those who ate with their families 5 or more times per week compared to only 12% of those who ate with their families 2 or less times per week.
U = Unlikely to smoke, drink, or take drugs:
In a research project coordinated by Dr. Blake Bowden of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, 527 teenagers were studied to determine what family and lifestyle characteristics were related to good mental health and adjustment. He found that kids who ate dinner with their families at least five times per week were the least likely to take drugs, feel depressed or get into trouble.
According to CASA surveys:
·       Teens who eat dinner with their parents twice a week or less are four times more likely to smoke cigarettes, three times more likely to smoke marijuana, and nearly twice as likely to drink as those who eat dinner with their parents six or seven times a week.
·       Teens who eat frequent family dinners are also less likely than other teens to have sex at young ages and get into fights; they are at lower risk for thoughts of suicide; and are likelier to do better in school. This is true regardless of a teen’s gender, family structure, or family socioeconomic level.
·       Teens who have frequent family dinners are more likely to be emotionally content, work hard at school, and have positive peer relationships, not to mention healthier eating habits.
C = Courteous and Conversational:
·       Family meals are a natural training ground for learning social skills, manners, and how to have pleasant conversations.
·       It’s at the family table that we learn to talk, learn to behave, to take turns, be polite, not to interrupt, how to share, and when we have guests, how to entertain – good lessons for success in life!
C = Connected to family:
·       According to CASA surveys, teens who have frequent family dinners are more likely to be emotionally content, work hard at school, and have positive peer relationships.
·       A study by the Kraft Company found that American families who eat together are happier in many aspects of their lives than those who don’t. Children and teens who eat family meals together experience improved family communication, have stronger family ties and a greater sense of identity and belonging.
E = Eating better:
·       Dianne Neumark-Sztainer and her colleagues at the University of Minnesota, published the results of the EAT study (which stands for eating among teens) in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association. Their findings showed a dramatic relationship between family meal patterns and dietary intake in adolescents. Their study involved nearly 5,000 middle and high school students of diverse ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. They found that family meals were associated with improved intakes of fruits, vegetables, grains, calcium-rich foods, protein, iron, fiber, and vitamins A, C, E, B-6 and folate. Family meals were associated with a lower intake of soft-drinks and snack foods.
·       The Project EAT survey also found that girls who ate more frequent family meals exhibited less disordered eating including dieting behaviors, extreme weight control behaviors, binge eating, and chronic dieting.
·       Family meals may help prevent childhood overweight for a variety of reasons: Children feel secure that they will be fed; regular meals prevent grazing and promote coming to the table hungry but not “starving.” Parents can role model healthy eating behaviors and a healthy relationship with food and eating. Eating can be a focused activity if other activities such as television viewing are not taking place; therefore hunger and satiety cues can be attended to and respected. Family meals promote a sense of belonging and lower the risk for loneliness-induced eating for comfort.
S = Sharing food and conversation at meals S = Strengthens families!!
So what is our weekly challenge? It is to make some DAILY effort to step up your family meal time. I want you to put your creative on. While employment requirements or outside activities may preclude your entire family sitting down together for dinner every night of the week I know you can improve on whatever you are doing in some small way. For every day you make an increased effort to gather and enjoy some meal time together (or to if you live alone to have a more special meal time) you earn the 5 daily challenge points for a total of 35 points for the week.

See if there isn’t something on this list you can work on. You do NOT have to try to do all of these. Just use them as a brainstorming list as you find a technique or two that you want to try:

1. KEEP IN MIND THAT IF YOU ARE TOO BUSY TO HAVE MEALS TOGETHER YOU MAY BE TOO BUSY. Plan ahead, think creatively, and make adjustments to fit your family's schedule. For example, you may want to change the time of day you eat together or have a picnic on a blanket before or after a ball game. Can you gather for breakfast? Or perhaps come together late in the evening for a snack or cup of cocoa. What is important is sitting together, being together, looking at one another, talking together.
2. HAVE MEALTIMES WITHOUT TELEVISION. This is your time to notice one another, pay attention to one another and  enjoy one another.
3. KEEP FOOD SIMPLE AND VARIED. Elaborate meals are not necessary for quality family time. Pancakes, grilled cheese, and even pizza can be featured in a meal the family enjoys together.  To save time and effort, plan for and use leftovers.
4. SERVE FAMILY MEMBERS THE SAME FOOD AT THE SAME TIME. Provide a variety of food choices and refrain from forcing children to eat certain foods. If your children are not hungry at mealtime, cut back on snacks between meals.
 5. LIMIT THE TABLE DISCUSSION TO AGREEABLE OR NEUTRAL TOPICS. Focus on the positive by asking questions such as, "What made you smile today?"  or “What was the best thing that happened to you today?” Or “What service or help were you able to give someone today?” Listen attentively and make sure the speaker feels respected. Mealtime is not the place for criticism or rude behaviors
6. INVOLVE THE CHILDREN IN PLANNING, PREPARING, AND SERVING MEALS, THUS BUILDING TEAMWORK AND COOPERATION. Listen to their meal suggestions and try to make eating together fun. Invite them to help create memorable holiday foods and decorations. Children are often more willing to try dishes that they helped prepare.

10. IF YOU LIVE ALONE YOU CAN STILL MAKE AN EXTRA EFFORT TO MAKE YOUR MEAL TIME MORE RELAXING AND SPECIAL. Use a beautiful plate and napkin, decorate with flowers or a placemat. Present your food beautifully and take the time to relax and enjoy.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Study, inspiration and wiser choices

As you’ve probably noticed the field of nutrition and dietetics is constantly changing. Theories about whether eggs, butter, fat, wheat etc. are good for you seem to change constantly.  Even the food pyramid has been updated. These new findings and changes can be exciting. But it is often hard to know whom to believe with the many voices and conflicting claims.

Even so I think there is great value in studying and learning new things and trying new recipes and foods.

I think I have shared that some of my favorite food books are:
Food Rules by Michael Pollan (easy read)
Original Fast Foods by James and Colleen Simmons
Superfoods RX by Steven Pratt
The Gabriel Method by Jon Gabriel
Mindless Eating by Brian Wansink
Intuitive Eating (My dietician daughter’s top pick) by Evelyn Tribole
Salt Sugar Fat how the food giants hooked us by Michael Moss
The Omnivores dilemma by Michael Pollan

And here are a few of my favorite food blogs

And I’d like to add to those some of my favorite food films. All are available on Netflix streaming except Super Size Me which you can rent on Amazon for $2.99

Super Size Me
Food Inc.
Fat Sick and Nearly Dead
Forks Over Knives
Killer at Large

I hope that you will tread carefully in your healthy living studies. There is a lot of misinformation and non-information out there. I saw a recent talk show host questioning people as to whether they were trying to avoid “gluten” in their diets. Many responded that they were. Then the interviewer asked the follow up question “What is gluten?" Very very few knew.  Please don’t jump on a bandwagon without first doing your research. Look for quality research studies and the work of Medical doctors and licensed dieticians (note that the title nutritionist carries zero credentials).

For the most part we know that our bodies have the best chance to maintain their health if we eat fresh, whole foods. But in addition to that I think there is much to learn as far enhancing our healthfulness. Listen carefully to the signals your body is giving you. Note how you feel after eating various foods. I am allergic to garlic, almonds and eggs and was totally unaware of that for most of my life. I do not get my usual allergic symptoms (running nose, itchy throat) but instead get a general belly ache. I can’t believe I missed that symptom.

As we strive to make wise choices let’s listen to our bodies, seek further knowledge and even listen for the confirmation of the spirit to aid us in consuming those foods that will do the most to bless our health.  I believe we will be gifted with clear answers!

I took a class at Ed week from Chef Brad (the star of the BYU Fusion Grain television series) and he shared that he has actually stood in the grocery store aisle holding a food item in his hand and prayed about whether it would bless his body. I’m not necessarily advocating that-- but I do think we could do a better job of seeking information and revelation in making healthy choices.

And so your challenge for this week is to spend at least 10 minutes a day (and yes you can do all 70 minutes at once if you must) exploring some of these books, blogs or films (or other healthy eating themed writings) to increase your food knowledge. 70 minutes of study = 35 weekly challenge points.

Fun challenge ladies. Enjoy!!

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Eat The Rainbow

I try to make about half of our weekly challenges food and diet related, since healthy eating is such a huge contributor to overall health. As we make efforts to get the maximum amount of vitamins and minerals in our daily food choices, one simple method to do this is to focus on picking a “rainbow” of different colors of fruits and vegetables — from dark leafy greens to bright citrus fruits.

It’s so easy to fall into a habit of always choosing the same fruits and vegetables but a variety of healthy food choices is most apt to provide the variety of nutrients our body requires. Why not shake it up a bit? If you’re an orange and apple fan, try peaches and plums. If you always use iceberg lettuce or romaine in your salad switch to dark leafy greens such as spinach or arugula.
The Vitamins and Minerals of the Color Wheel
The nutrients in fruits and vegetables can often be categorized by their colors. Here are the vitamins and minerals you can expect to find in each:
            Red. In fruits and vegetables, red is usually a sign of vitamin A (beta carotene) and vitamin C.  Typically, red produce are also high in manganese and fiber. Choose red bell peppers, tomatoes, cherries, cranberries, raspberries, rhubarb, pomegranates, and beets. Red apples also contain quercetin, a compound that seems to fight colds, the flu, and allergies. Tomatoes, watermelon, and red grapefruit are loaded with lycopene, a compound that appears to have cancer-fighting properties.
            Orange. Just a shade away from red, orange in fruits and vegetables signifies a similar vitamin and mineral profile. You’ll get vitamins C, A, and B6, potassium, and fiber in choices such as butternut squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, cantaloupes, oranges, pumpkins, orange peppers, nectarines, and peaches.
            Yellow. Banana is probably the first yellow fruit that comes to mind — and it delivers potassium and fiber. You will also find potassium and fiber plus manganese, vitamin A, and magnesium in other yellow produce, such as spaghetti squash, summer squash, and yellow bell peppers.
            Green. Dark leafy greens are packed with nutrients and it’s great to add a variety of them to your diet. Dark greens offer far more vitamins and minerals than iceberg lettuce. Dark leafy greens have rich lutein content, which aids eyesight, and folate, which supports cell reproduction. Broccoli and asparagus also contain these compounds.
            Blue. Think blue, and you’re most likely picturing a bowl of blueberries, one of nature’s most powerful antioxidants. They are also loaded with fiber and make an incredibly versatile addition to your diet — eat them by the handful, sprinkle them on cereal, or add them to salads for a different and delicious taste.
            Purple. This group includes vegetables like red onions and eggplant, and fruits such as blackberries, Concord grapes, currants, and plums. Purple indicates the presence of anthocyanins, powerful antioxidants that protect blood vessels and preserve healthy skin. You can also find vitamin A and flavonoids in purple vegetables like radicchio, purple cabbage, purple potatoes and sweet potatoes, and purple carrots.
            White. White may not be much of a color, but white vegetables, such as cauliflower, rutabagas, and parsnips, feature vitamins and minerals like vitamins C, K, and folate, and they contain fiber. Don’t forget onions and garlic, which have a compound called allicin that seems to protect the heart and blood vessels from damage.
 If your grocery cart has been limited to white potatoes, carrots celery and apples, exploring the rainbow of choices available at your local farmers’ market or produce department will reward you with a bounty of vitamins and minerals as well as delicious meals.
And so our challenge for the next week is to eat at least 4 different colors of fruits and vegetables each day. Enjoy the bountiful variety of good foods there are to choose from!