Friday, June 18, 2010

The Whole Grain Truth- Quinoa

So, I'm going about this all wrong. I thought, "the more information I can share, the better!", right? WRONG! I am sorry- I didn't realize how overwhelming all of the information would be (it was for me- that should have been a sign!). So, I'm taking another route- and I hope this one ends better than the former one.

As requested- and I LOVE Quinoa too!- the first post is all about Quinoa. Feel free to add your comments (and recipes!) if I miss something!

A little background information:
Quinoa is closely related to beets and spinach- in species AND nutritional value. It has been an important food in South America for over 6,000 years, and was considered "the gold of the Incas". Unlike wheat or rice, quinoa contains all essential amino acids, making it a complete protein by itself (this means this is especially good for you vegetarians). It is a good source of fiber (5 grams per 1 cup serving), and protein, as well as vitaimins and minerals like phosphorus, magnesium and iron, and is gluten free for those sensitive to the xantham gum, or gluten, in wheat.

So, this is our beginning. Try some quinoa this week- Malissa Arnold posted some great quinoa recipes, and I have one I'll post tonight. You may like it- you may not. But either way, it's a great big step in the right direction to your and your family's health.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Fat does not equal fat!

In the world of math, this equation may be a little confusing, but this time, the numbers lie. This is something I could rant on about for hours- Fat free is NOT better for you than their fatty counterparts. Contrary to popular belief, consuming FAT does NOT make you FAT.
So, without further adieu, here is my unprofessional and seriously overzealous opinion for necessary fats in your diet (And I mean, daily eating habits, NOT "so I can lose weight temporary starvation plan!):

Eggs: Not just egg whites, the yolk may contain the cholesterol AND the fat, but my defense is two parts; whole eggs are a complete protein- with all eight essential amino acids only found in the yolk. Part two, this is a natural source of fat; it is not chemically engineered, altered, or crafted, it simply is. Now, don't overdo it, but enjoy them. They are good for you.

Oils: Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and Coconut Oil, for example.
The olive oil is a must have for dressings, and the coconut oil for sauteeing and baking. Coconuts get a bad rap because technically, they are just fat (and saturated fat at that!), but as we dig deeper, we are finding that not all fats are created equal. Poly-unsaturated fats are good for you, Mono-unsaturated fats are better, and Saturated fats are bad for you- or are they? Well, yes, those saturated fats that come from animal products and processed foods (boxed, or prepared/frozen meals) are bad for you. They raise your bad cholesterol, lower your good cholesterol, elevate your blood pressure, and definitely contribute to heart disease (the #1 killer of women, by the way), and are SO difficult for your body to digest and discard, that they do make us fat, BUT- studies now show that just like unsaturated fats, there are also good Saturated fats. I could go on and on about this subject- so if you are more interested, here's a link for information I cannot take credit for sharing with you : http://www.thaifoodandtravel.com/features/cocgood.html  

More fats, include Avocados, olives, butter (though in small quantities- it's a natural source of fat, but provides little else for you nutritionally), and nuts, and seeds! Nuts like walnuts, almonds provide fiber AND protein as well as fat (the omega-3 fats too- those are the same ones found in fish that are so good for you!), and peanuts, sunflower and sesame seeds provide a great source of omega-6 fatty acids. These two types of fatty acids are the only two types that our bodies cannot produce on its own- making them essential to our health.  
So, there we are. I think what I am trying to say is- the natural, unprocessed fats are good and necessary for us. They are something that, in small quantities, pack a powerful punch to our health, even improve it- including smoothing and clearing our skin, improves auto-immune diseases, and can actually help us lose weight. So, enjoy those candied walnuts! :-)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Benefits of Buttermilk

Until recently I have had to avoid dairy products- except yogurt, buttermilk and cheese in small portions. I have been curious as to why, and I have just recently learned why along with some other wonderful facts about buttermilk, and why it's not as bad as we think it is.
Buttermilk gets its name because it is the milk left over after the fat is removed to make butter. Buttermilk is lower in fat than milk (in comparison to whole milk, and reduced-fat milk, as long as you check the labels), and helps to reduce body heat which makes it a popular drink during summer months. It is high in calcium, potassium (which helps regulate blood pressure), phosphorus, and vitamin B12. Vitamin B12 is a water soluble vitamin that plays a key role in the formation of blood, functioning of the brain and nervous system, and the metabolism of every cell in the body. Pretty important, huh?
For those who are lactose intolerant, buttermilk is now your best friend. It is more tolerable for you, and more easily digestible for all of us because it contains more lactic acid, and less lactose. However, for those worried about its comparison with regular milk, it still has the same amount of protein, and is often prescribed for weight loss, and to regulate and improve digestion with the cultures and active bacteria it contains.
Buttermilk is a fantastic substitute for cream, including heavy cream and sour cream, and is also a healthy agent for soaking nuts (the soaking process increases the nutritional value of the nuts because they also become more easily digestible- but that's another post)! Try some buttermilk today- as a drink, a substitute, or in your baking- look for the Buttermilk pancake recipe. Enjoy the benefits of buttermilk!

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One Step at a Time

"That which we persist in doing becomes easier. Not that the nature of the thing has changed, but the power to do has increased." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson