Feb 22, 2011

The Exactitude of Trans Fat Free Labeling

Trans fats are altered fats. A scientist adds molecules to them in a lab to make the oil more solid at room temperature much like the natural way butter or animal fat is.  It is spreadable and transparent.  This process is call Hydrogenating.  Transfats are typically high in calories, as are all fats, but it also has been shown to lower your good cholesterol and raise your bad cholesterol. In fact, hydrogenated oil's trans fats raise your bad cholesterol higher than eating a high cholesterol food, like eggs.    

FDA regulation states that a manufacturer does not have to list trans fats on a nutrition facts label if it is less than one gram per serving.  In fact they are even allowed to label on their box that the product is trans fat free! Here's the problem with this regulation, and it only effects your health.  It is recommended that we eat NO transfats.  Not even one gram.  Suppose a box of crackers has .75 grams of transfats per one serving, that the manufacturer has decided is 10 crackers.  Suppose now that those are 1 inch by 1 inch cheese crackers.  I don't know about you, but I would never only eat 10 of those little crackers.  I would probably eat 2-3 times that ammount, and for a serving size this may be reasonable.  It is not, however, reasonable when the manufacturer is trying to hide the trans fat content in their food.  So if I did eat 30 crackers I would have consumed 2.25 grams of transfats and that was only with my first snack of the day!  I will still eat another 2 servings after lunch and tomorrow I will finish the box off.  (Don't worry about my cholesterol, I do not buy these crackers.  I am sacrificing my pretend self for the sake of this article.)  You can see how this would really add up.
How do we know when a product really has transfats in it then?
Well, I am happy to tell you that there is a way to know and it is easy and fast.  All you have to do is look for the word HYDROGENATED in the ingredients.  If it is there, then it contains trans fats and you should shun this product.  A little trans fat in your crackers, a little in your bread, some in your soup, a bit in your donut, it all adds up over the course of a day and it will cause you health problems.  There are a lot of natural products available that contain healthy oils and fats.  Please read your labels and be aware that the price of food is the same with any goods... You get what you pay for!  For more information on fats, which are bad and which are good see my article You Mean I Can Eat Fat?.  Our bodies need a proper amount of fat to work well so a non fat diet is NOT recommended.

-Val      

Feb 21, 2011

Quinoa (Keen-wa)

Quinoa is a grain like seed grown in the high Andes mountains. It is low on the glycemic index and also considered a perfect protein.  It is 12-18 % protein which is twice than brown rice and also contains twice the fiber of brown rice.  It's also easier to cook (if you buy the pre-rinsed variety) and in my humble opinion, tastes much better.  If you are a diabetic, it is a much better choice than rice, as long as you keep the servings to an appropriate amount, being that it is still a carbohydrate.  I buy a nice big bag at Costco that lasts my family of four a few weeks.  I like to mix it with oatmeal for breakfast. I cook 4 cups of quinoa at the begining of the week and save it in the fridge.  For breakfast I mix it with some cooked oatmeal.   I also put it cold in to my salads.  I really like it with lemon juice, salt and butter, like a quinoa pilaf.  I have also heard that some people even use it for baking and breads.  Here's how I have found to best cook it.

1 cup of dry quinoa
2 cups of Pacific Free Range Chicken Broth (only kind I've found with out MSG)
1-2 cups water

I start out with the 2 cups of broth and bring it and the quinoa to a boil.  I let it boil for 10 minutes.  Usually after the 10 minutes I have to add more liquid to keep it from burning.  I would start with 1 cup and wait 5 minutes, then if it's dry after 5 minutes add another cup and let it cook 5 more minutes.   You want the quinoa to be dry after 20 minutes, like rice.  You do not want it to be wet and gooey.  After 20 minutes of  cooking, cover the pan, remove it from heat and let it rest for 5 minutes.  Then fluff and serve or save.   If you do not have or want to use chicken broth just use all water.  Eat it with any meal you would use rice or in place of potatoes.  It goes wonderfully with so many things.  I don't know if I will ever eat rice again!
-Val

Feb 19, 2011

A WARNING about HCG

The short answer to the question of HCG is no. Absolutely not.  The long answer is as follows.
HCG is a hormone treatment combined with a restrictive 500 calorie diet.  You can take pills or injections and the end result is that you loose weight. Are you kidding me?  You will lose weight on a 500 calorie diet no matter what! Dr. Weil reports on his website that there were studies done on a test group.  They were both given the HCG diet and half of the test subjects were given a placebo instead of the HCG.  Guess what?  They both lost weight... The same percentage of weight.  What is frightening to me about this diet is:

1.  A 500 calorie a day diet will destroy your metabolism.  I have a wonderful doctor named Dr. Rodier.  He practices in Draper, Utah.  He believes in treating the causes of illness and disease, which is mainly poor diet and bad lifestyle.  He takes many patients that are a lost cause for other doctors who can't do anything else but write prescriptions.  He told me that he has taken many patients to help them with the side effects of the HGC diet.  When your body is deprived of calories it will start to use the reserves of fat, but it will also start to deplete muscle mass and halt immune functions.  It will lower the metabolism greatly because it goes in to famine mode combined with the muscle loss.  Once you are in famine mode it is very difficult not to gain weight with normal eating because your body wants to store every spare calorie it can just in case there is another famine.  This is why restrictive calorie diets lead to "yo-yo" and roller coaster weight loss.


2. So called competent physicians are handing it out like candy.  Medical doctors and Chiropractors are offering this diet miracle to patients.  I know some doctors are really dense when it comes to nutrition but come on.  If your chiropractor or doctor is offering this treatment I would suggest asking for a refund for all of your past treatments and then run for the hills.
   
3. It's only treating a symptom of weight, not a cause.  For most people eating unhealthy is the root cause of the weight problems.  Over eating is just a symptom of underlying problems, such as sugar addiction, emotional problems or just plain laziness.  If you treat the cause of weight loss, which is almost always lifestyle, you will eliminate the weight problem.  Assuming of course this person doesn't have an endocrine disorder or some other disease.  Most people don't put on the extra weight overnight and it is ridiculous to assume or try to force the weight off overnight.  Change your life and it will change your size.  It will probably eliminate a bunch of other problems too, like high blood pressure, diabetes, depression...

-Val

Dr. Weil's report: http://www.drweil.com/drw/u/QAA400413/Pregnancy-Hormone-for-Weight-Loss.html

Feb 17, 2011

A Practical Lesson of Evolutionary Nutrition:

Imagine a small, early history, hunting gathering village of people; our earliest known ancestors.  They gathered nuts, seeds, roots, berries, grasses, greens and herbs on a daily basis.  Often they had a small amount of game meat to eat.  They didn't salt their food, they didn't sweeten their food, they didn't add oil to their food.  They ate the food as it came out of the earth.  Raw, fresh and the truest sense of organic.  They worked hard gathering, walking and hunting their game, then cooking and making camp.  Now imagine centuries later, a small faming village.  They still gather what they can but they also cultivate their own vegetables and raise animals, like goats for milk and meat.  The goats eat their natural diet of grass and herbs.  They walk everywhere they go.  They are all strong and healthy, even the old.  When a villager is deficient or has a disease they increase a certain food, or add certain herbs to increase health and wellness.  No one craves sugar, or salty snacks.  They eat to live.  They eat moderately and mindfully of what will be available in the future.  This is how our bodies evolved and were meant to survive.
  Imagine many, many centuries later, people spend much of the day sitting.  They need food so they go to a grocery store where they can buy endless possibilities. The food is processed to the point where it's origins are uncertain.  They purchase nothing that is in the same form it grew in. Meat is from farms where the animals don't ever see the light of day, are sickly and given high doses of medication and they eat grain and feces of other animals.  Then they purchase milk from equally sick, medicated and undernourished animals.  They are fat but lack the proper nutrition to produce quality milk.   The isle of sweets is filled with the high calorie, nutrient deficient cakes, cookies and candies.  Each single serving containing an entire day or weeks worth of sugars to our early ancestors.  People trying to avoid the high calories go for the artificially sweetened products. These are products produced to allow people to eat endless amounts of sweet satiating, nutrient deficient delicacies.  With out even knowing where the food came from or what it contains the carts are filled to the brim with food that is high in calories, fats and chemicals and is practically void of any real nutrients that your body needs for energy on a cellular level.  An occasional few make it to the produce section where they buy genetically modified vegetables and fruits, that are twice the size they are meant to be and half as ripe.  They are laden with unnatural chemicals to increase shelf life and destroy diseases proliferated by under nourishing the soil and thereby causing disease in the plants.  They have absorbed the chemical pesticides or have a layer coating the outside that is not water soluble and cannot simply be washed away.  They go home and eat the sweets first and let the vegetables sit in the refrigerator until what little nutrition was contained in them  is destroyed.  They can't figure out why they don't have energy to make it through the day and they can't figure out why they are so overweight or suffer from headaches or chronic diseases.  It may not be obvious to all, but people were not meant to eat the modern day diet.  If you go to the source of our food it is clear that our animals and crops are just as vitamin and mineral deficient as  we are.  Our ancestors did not count calories.  They did not watch their carbohydrates or worry about how much protein they were getting.  They may not have been as lucky to have the sanitary and comfortable conditions we have now but they certainly had more energy to work harder and did not get the cancers and chronic conditions we face today.  If we are not feeding our cells with energy to repair and replicate we will feel very run down and unenergized.  Our cells are not looking for calories in and calories out.  They are looking for vitamins and minerals that are from plant sources, making it easy for our bodies to digest and use them.  Feed your body what it has cleverly evolved and been created to eat.  Not Wonder Bread...  Not Chips Ahoy...  Not Dunkin Donuts...  Not baked potato covered in sour cream, bacon bits and cheddar cheese...
-V

Feb 8, 2011

Micro Recipe: Brownie Pudding

There are a few reasons I came up with micro recipes.  For one, it's  great way to have portion control.  For another it can be cooked in the microwave, but the namesake really comes from how small the recipe is in terms of volume.  This recipe is an adapted version of my mom's 9x13 pan size.  This one can be done in the microwave in literally 1 minute!  It can also be cooked in the oven the good ole' fashioned way.  If you have ramekins you can make lots of little individual servings. I just cook mine in the microwave in a really big mug.  If you only have small mugs, I would recommend using 2 mugs or you run the risk of it boiling over the sides.  Put a plate under it, if you are unsure. 
4 TBL all purpose flour
3 TBL white sugar or splenda
1 tsp cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
Mix above dry ingredients
add to above
2 TBL milk, almond milk, soy milk or water
stir into a nice batter, and divide into 3 ramekins 2 regular mugs or 1 large mug

Then mix
 3 TBL brown sugar
1 TBL cocoa powder 
7 TBL hot water 
pour over the batter mix equally.  

For the microwave, microwave each mug 1 minute or until it bubbles to the top of the mug about to spill over.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, until the batter rises to the top and has fully cooked.  Eat it warm and gooey.  It is easy and yummy, yummy delicious.  I have made this recipe a million times in the oven and you cannot tell the difference from the oven to the microwave in terms of taste and texture.  No, it's not healthy but sometimes it's mentally healthy to have a treat!   
-Val

     

Healing Crisis

Have you ever changed something in your diet or lifestyle and expected to feel better but ended up feeling worse?  To most physicians this would be an indication to stop the new change and revert back to your old ways.  To a natural practitioner this is a good sign and completely expected, especially with those who are changing destructive habits and diets.  It's called a healing crisis and it means that your body is cleansing itself of the old and replacing with the new.
The symptoms may include but are not limited to, acne, weight gain or loss, boils, fevers, aches, arthritis, eczema, psoriasis, diareah, gas, bloating and more.  Pretty much you feel like crap!  Not a professional term but an altogether true to heart way of explaining how one may feel.  What is beleived to be happening is your body is replacing the malnourished, diseased and under productive tissues with new healthy and nurtured tissues.  A cleansing effect takes place.  The body starts to expel toxins through the liver, kidneys, colon and skin.  You may experience tenderness in your kidneys as they work hard to cleans the released toxins or boils on the skin as your body may expel toxins from it.  It is usually short lived around 1 to 3 weeks and then you will begin to feel better slowly and with continued efforts to change your habits and lifestyle and you will eventually feel great!
Imagine your body as a car engine, (much more simplistic than the body's systems but just go with it) when you put good, high quality gas and oil in your engine, it runs cleaner and smother.  Some oils actually clean deposits off your engine. Cheap gas (cheap food) will make your engine run, but with less power (energy).  Eventually putting too much stress (lack of sleep and high stress) on your engine without properly fueling it (high quality foods and herbs), cleaning it and maintaining (proper sleep, exercise and nutrition) it will shorten the life of your car (you!).
-Val

Kicking Against the Pricks

I honestly don't even know what a prick is, but it sounds uncomfortable to kick.  This discomfort is something I have been experiencing most of my life.  I am very impatient, especially when it comes to life moving along.  I don't like transition periods and I don't like that stagnant period between transitions. I suppose the only period I tolerate is when things are on the up and up.  Enjoying the journey, as they say, is something I've only recently adopted.  It certainly doesn't come naturally to me to enjoy waiting for the next exciting and new thing in life to come along.  But alas, at least I have learned it, as infrequently as I follow it.  There are 3 things in my adult life that have been consistent and ever present that I enjoy.  In no particular order they are cooking, silversmithing and natural health studies.  I am almost 30 and I stay at home with my kids.  I know that my kids wont be home forever and therefore I do not intend to be a house wife forever either.  I feel it is very important to stay home with my kids and raise them.  I certainly don't want to miss any important moments.  Yet sometimes it is hard.  I find myself getting down in the dumps, depressed, BORED.  I try to keep myself busy and my mind active with activities here and there.  Crafting, learning, watching hours of BBC classical period dramas...  
The outside world on the tv is continually telling me to get a career and be successful.  Oh do I ever want to be successful.  Here's the thing about being successful.  It is like being skinny, it is all relative.  Relative to whom you ask, whom you live by and where you live.  To a 500 lb woman struggling to loose weight, I bet 350 lbs sounds sweet.  To that 350 lb woman I imagine 180 lbs would be fantastic.  To that 180 lb woman 145 would be great!  To me 145 lbs is fat and I'm sick of it!  So it goes success.

When I look at my mother though, I see success.  She never had a fabulous career or made a lot of money or was super skinny and fashionable.  She raised 7 kids!  She is still married to the same man after 4 decades!  She reads every book before I even know it exists.  She helps everyone around her and is always charitable.  She is smart and sturdy little lady who just keeps on going and learning and doing.  I know that according to "the world" she is not much of a fantastic success, but if I could just be half the woman she is by the time I am her age I would feel successful.  There is no denying she is a successful human being.  Yet here I am "kicking against the pricks" trying to accomplish things I know will largely make me successful in others eyes and not my own.
My sister and I had a conversation this morning about how I am frustrated that I cannot find a decent school and degree combo that I want.  One school has the program I want but is not accredited, the other school may have the accreditation but does not have the kind of program that I can believe in.  I have been searching for the right school and the right program for years.  I didn't even know what I wanted to do exactly until very recently.  Still I am not completely certain how it will all pan out.  My sister implored me to stop kicking against the pricks.  Just enjoy what I am doing right now and when it's time to go to school the stars will align.   Sometimes I want to kick the pricks to spite my foot. I suppose I will always have the personality that will kick the pricks occasionally to make sure they are really there.   Then I will look at my sore foot and remember that life was much better before I started kicking said pricks.  Thank you sister for reminding me that I have to enjoy the journey and work toward my goals at a more patient pace.  That I cannot want something and receive it at the same time; there is little to learn if there is not some adversity along the way.  Thank you mother for your shining example of a well adjusted, successful mother who tells "society" what for instead of letting society determine your worth.
-Val