My client called me a “hater” today …

Posted by on Jul 9, 2012 in On My Soapbox, Wellness Ideas | 4 comments

Okay, so it was really “Cheerios hater,” which seems a little less harsh. And I feel inspired to explain that one to the world at large – what is it about Cheerios that I have an issue with? Whether you think I’m a hater or not is up to you …

If you look at the label, one cup of Cheerios has just one gram of sugar and three grams of fiber. Sometimes I use the ratio of fiber to sugar as a way to judge what cereal to suggest. So if that was my only judgement, I’d have to say Cheerios isn’t all that bad. 100 calories, more fiber than sugar, no fat … what more could a healthy eating person wish for?

I’m not the only one discussing this question right now. CNN Health just posted an article today called, “How to choose a healthy breakfast cereal.” (Hint … no Cheerios on the list … )

Well … what are my two main reasons for disrespecting Cherrios?

1. First four ingredients: Whole grain oats (includes the oat bran), modified corn starch, trisodium phosphate and wheat starch. Ingredients are always listed in the order of amount – so the ingredient which makes up the largest part of the cereal is listed first. But there’s no way to know if the largest part is 99% or 30% … it’s just never listed.

Yup, whole grain oats is a positive. A lot of breakfast cereal is still processed through equipment that extrudes it into the round “o” shape … or flakes or whatever. So it bears little resemblance to actual whole oats (think oatmeal here). But fundamentally this is an important first ingredient.

Modified corn starch is corn whose fundamental properties have been changed so that it can be used simply as a thickener, stabilizer or emulsifier. Although I have no proof, most corn in this type of application is likely to be genetically modified (GMO). Because the corn has been genetically altered, our bodies aren’t familiar with how to process it and best draw any available nutrients from it. Then it’s modified again into corn starch, so our bodies aren’t familiar with how to process that either. This kind of long-term confusion can be damaging to our digestion.

Tripotassium phosphate is a potassium salt of phosphoric acid used as an antioxidant synergist, buffer and emulsifier in food. Potassium and phosphate are naturally occurring compounds in our own bodies, so their are few known side effects. But again this is the third ingredient on the list and it just doesn’t sound appetizing to me.

Wheat starch is wheat flour (already a refined ingredient) that has been further processed to remove the proteins from it. Like the last two ingredients, this is used as a stabilizer or thickener. It’s just there so that the “o” stays in an “o” shape. Or so that the “o” doesn’t rot too quickly.

2. Processed, processed, processed: Breakfast cereal can be one of the most highly processed foods we choose during our day. Of course there are cereal choices that may be less processed, but most cereal has been smooshed, mashed, baked, and coated for hours and hours. Check out this video from the folks at How It’s Made. It’s not a whole food like oatmeal, for example. If you are trying to make healthier choices, you want to get closer to whole foods as the basis of every meal.

If not Cheerio’s, then what? Let’s just say that breakfast cereal is something you need to keep in your daily meal plans – there’s no doubting its convenience! What would I pick in this case? Well, here’s an option that isn’t marketed by a huge company spending gazillions of dollars on advertising. Even more important, it’s possible to pronounce the entire ingredient list. Plus it’s nutrition label tells me there’s 0 grams of sugar and 6 grams of fiber – that’s a good ratio in my book. Call me old-fashioned, but if I’m going to buy something in a box I’d prefer a choice like this. While it’s not technically whole food, it has more redeeming value and a whole lot less hype on the front of the box!

 

I could actually write quite a bit more about breakfast cereal … but I must get going to my day and probably you feel the same way! Let me know what your favorite breakfast choices are – whole foods or not – I’m curious to know. And thanks for reading this far so you know I’m not really a hater!

Ready to get started making healthier choices? The best way to determine what program is right for you is scheduling a FREE 45-minute initial health and wellness consultation. Simply call or email me today to get started!

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Overcoming the Trauma of Canned Beets!

Posted by on May 18, 2012 in Recipes, Wellness Ideas | 0 comments

I was traumatized as a child … by the taste of canned beets! Metal and food tastes should never mix. I know I’m not alone because I met several people Thursday who had similar experiences. How do we overcome this trauma? Fresh beets!!

The raw beet salad below is a fantastic example of how to use fresh beets. My friends Patrick and Lori from Natural Alliance introduced me to this recipe, and it’s quickly become one of my favorites. Part of what I love is the flavor combination – ginger, garlic, and lemon are the perfect balance to the sweetness of the beets, carrots and apples.

Yesterday I took the salad to a local company’s Wellness Fair. And I’m happy to report that a lot of folks were beet converts! So give it a try yourself and let me know what you think!!

Red Cabbage, Beet, Carrot and Apple Raw Salad

2 cups shredded red cabbage
2 medium beets, peeled and shredded
5 medium carrots, shredded
1 large Granny Smith apple, peeled, shredded

Dressing:

Juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (you may need to add more)
¾” inch peeled ginger root, finely minced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Combine all shredded ingredients together.  Mix dressing ingredients together and pour over shredded mixture.

Allow to stand for a few hours prior to serving.

Ready to get started feeling less pain and more energy?!?? The best way to determine what program is right for you is scheduling a FREE 45-minute initial health and wellness consultation. Simply call or email me today to get started!

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May Recipe Idea: Spring Sprouting Steamer

Posted by on May 7, 2012 in Recipes | 0 comments

SproutsI’ve been growing my own sprouts this year for the first time! It’s so fun and easy – no soil required. This recipe calls for a package of purchased sprouts, but you could just as easily grow your own in a just a few days time.

Prep Time: 3 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 zucchini
1 summer squash
1 package mixed crunchy sprouts (lentil, adzuki, mung, garbanzo)
3 tablespoons of freshly chopped tarragon
1 tablespoon of ghee (clarified butter) or butter
4 lemon wedges
salt to taste

Directions:

1. Slice zucchini and summer squash in discs about 1/4 inch thick. Steam with sprouts for about 5 minutes or until desired tenderness.

2. Toss with tarragon, ghee and salt in bowl.

3. Serve with lemon wedge.

Note: Try fresh herbs like parsley, dill, cilantro or mint for a totally different taste.

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Breaking through the Sugar Blues: Natural Sweetener Options

Posted by on Apr 17, 2012 in Cooking at Home, Questions Clients Ask, Wellness Ideas | 0 comments

Who among us doesn’t love sweets? The sweet flavor releases serotonin in our brains, the chemical responsible for our sense of well-being and contentment. The average American consumes well over 20 teaspoons of added sugar on a daily basis, which adds up to an average of 142 pounds of sugar per person per year! That’s more than two times what the USDA recommends and is proof of sugar’s addictive nature.

But when it comes to sweeteners, not all are created equal. There are side effects and health risks from refined sweeteners like white table sugar and high-fructose corn syrup, and from artificial sweeteners like NutraSweet, saccharin and Splenda.

Since refined sweeteners have been stripped of vitamins, minerals and fiber, they can spike blood sugar, which can often lead to cravings and mood and energy fluctuations.

Instead, using naturally and minimally processed sweeteners can reduce cravings for sugary things. Natural sweeteners, all of which are gentler than the refined white stuff, are easier on the body’s blood sugar and available in most supermarkets and health food stores.

Please note that these sugar alternatives are great transition foods, but are not meant to be consumed in mass quantities. Even natural sweeteners are, for the most part, processed foods. The best way to alleviate sugar consumption is to add more sweetness to your life!

Sweetener alternatives

Raw Honey

Everyone seems to love honey, one of the oldest natural sweeteners on the market. Honey will have a different flavor depending on the plant source. Some are very dark and intensely flavored. Wherever possible, choose raw honey, as it is unrefined and contains small amounts of enzymes, minerals and vitamins.

Agave Nectar

Agave nectar is a natural liquid sweetener made from the juice of the agave cactus. Agave is made through the extraction and purification of the juice of the agave cactus. It is 1.4 times sweeter than refined sugar, but does not create a sugar rush, and is much less disturbing to the body’s blood sugar levels than white sugar. It has a delightfully light and mild flavor. (However, agave is high in fructose, higher than that of high-fructose corn syrup, and some research suggests that fructose does not shut off appetite hormones, and may decrease glucose tolerance, so you may end up overeating.)

Maple Syrup

Maple syrup is the concentrated extract of the sap of maple trees. It adds a rich, deep flavor to foods and drinks. Make sure to look for 100% pure maple syrup, not maple-flavored corn syrup. As with all sweeteners, organic varieties are best.

Stevia

This leafy herb has been used for centuries by native South Americans. The extract from stevia is 100 to 300 times sweeter than white sugar. It can be used in cooking, baking and beverages, does not affect blood sugar levels and has zero calories. Stevia is available in a powder or liquid form, but be sure to get the green or brown liquids or powders, because the white and clear versions are highly refined.

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