We're talking about Romaine lettuce this week on my Facebook page, The Meals Maven.
A long, long time ago- before we had kids and were learning how to keep guinea pigs alive- we found out that feeding romaine to guinea pigs was a good idea, and feeding them iceberg lettuce was not.
The reason you start your piggies on romaine when they're young is it's full of nutrition. It turns out that piggies love iceberg lettuce, but there's not enough nutrition in it for them and they will eat it rather than romaine if they develop a taste for it.
This might be true for people too. What do you think?
It isn't that iceberg doesn't have any nutrition, just not as much. Here's a comparison of these 2 types.
On #foodiefriday I will be releasing the recipe I cooked last night for #testkitchentuesday- a ground turkey stirfry that incorporates stir fried romaine as one of the vegetables. It's new for me and something I will continue to do. I really enjoyed eating it as something other than salad.
And to successfully use last week's failed peanut and rosemary combination made the dinner perfect.
As discussed on #marinatingmonday, romaine is wonderfully nutritious and not an energy-dense food. As such, it's tempting to think it's the perfect food to eat a lot of when you are trying to lose weight. I want to encourage you, however, to consider colour as your guide. Eat the rainbow, whether you're trying to lose weight, gain, or maintain. A diet of romaine and not much else will quickly leave you with nutritional holes and diminished health. It may not happen overnight, but it will happen.
I leave you with what I seem to say all the time but can't stress enough: Too much of a good thing is still too much.
All the best today, friends!
To know them is to love them.
Not convinced? Let me try.
Aside from the rhyme we learn as children, beans and other legumes are not as well loved in North America as they are in other parts of the world. Legumes make up a large part of diets around the world, from Africa to Israel, and are especially useful in regions where religion or poverty play a role in the kinds of food people eat, such as India.
If you do a quick google search you will find out many reasons why you should or should not eat legumes. I leave the final decision up to you.
In my role as a nutrition coach I stand firmly behind “common sense nutrition”. I think any food in excess is detrimental to your health and well being.
Pulses are part of the legume family. Pulses refer to beans and lentils (the seed part of the plant). Common legumes are alfalfa, soy, and peanuts.
I use both pulses and legumes as a whole often in our cooking. As a family we enjoy meals that are made strictly vegetarian but also enjoy meals where legumes complement traditional meat-based meals. For example, chana masala was my latest test-kitchen dinner for a client, and that’s a vegetarian dinner. My oldest son loved it in spite of it being a new recipe for all of us, and even went for seconds. We also eat chili a couple of times a month that incorporates both beans and meat.
Lentils can be pureed and added as filler to meatballs, meatloaf, or burgers. They add bulk with nutrition so the meat goes further, and they also give an extra boost of fibre and iron. Beans can be added to salads and soups. Roasted beans are a fantastic snack to keep with you to enjoy when you’re on the run and you know you’ll be hungry. They’re packable, require no special care, and a small amount is very satisfying. My roasted bean recipe will be posted on my Facebook page this week on #foodiefriday. Come check it out!
It's almost summer. Eating meals based on legumes and pulses makes sense in the summer because they can require no real effort beyond opening a can, rinsing them, and eating them cold. When cooking a hot meal with them they really only need to be cooked long enough to heat all the way through- much less cooking time than meat.
*Important Note: Beans and legumes usually require soaking, draining, and boiling. Always follow the package instructions or they can be toxic.
One of my final reasons to eat and enjoy this variety in our diet is a financial one. You get amazing nutrition from pulses and legumes at a fraction of the cost of meat. As someone who is the grocery shopper and meal planner for the family, I know I can attest to the cost of meat on the rise. It makes sense to branch out to seek our nutrition from a variety of sources if nothing else then to stretch the grocery budget further.
Fortunately for us, it’s not a hardship to enjoy this branch of the meat and alternates food group. Do you eat legumes and pulses on a regular basis? If not, I encourage you to schedule a few meals this summer that incorporate beans or other pulses into your regular meal.
Stuck for ideas? I’m only a message away.
When I was a kid, the best part about Halloween was all the candy, mostly the chocolate. Am I right? We didn't get a lot of sweets in our home, so getting all of that at once was a bounty that couldn't be beat.
I still love chocolate, but I usually lean towards the darker stuff nowadays. And hands-down the best part of carving pumpkins, besides the fun of designing, is getting all the pumpkin seeds. Roasted pumpkin seeds are not only a tasty treat, but loaded with health benefits.
Here's the recipe I use now when roasting pumpkin seeds. I've tried variations, but always go back to plain old salt. It seems like a lot of salt in the water, but they don't end up too salty, though that's a personal preference and you can change it if you wish. An important thing I can tell you is make sure they are roasted all the way through. One year I thought they were done, but once sealed up in a container they went soft- and moldy after a couple of days. You want to roast all the moisture right out of them.
They fill that craving for salty snacks, but unlike chips, are loaded with fibre- so a little goes a long way, and you won't eat too many. They have magnesium, which helps control blood pressure, and zinc, which is a key component in enabling your immune system to work efficiently, among other benefits. Omega-3's for those of you who don't like fatty fish, and L-tryptophan, the fabled amino acid that converts to seratonin and helps with sleep- and who doesn't need more restful sleep?
Roasted pumpkin seeds are full of protein and potassium- more potassium than a banana! And they aid in prostate health, so eat up, gentlemen!
Happy Halloween, friends! Enjoy your treats in moderation!
This food group, along with fruits and vegetables, comprises of what we most need to eat in any given day. Carbohydrates have gotten a bad reputation lately with all sorts of diets designed to get rid of them, but in truth, carbs are a necessary component for our bodily functions. Our cells use them to fuel our daily activities, and when we don't eat them, our bodies take what they can from elsewhere, to our detriment.
The caveat I want to stress, however, is that whole grains are the ones you need to eat. Processed grains, also referred to as refined, don't really do much for our bodies. They give us calories without the health benefit, and really, what's the point of that? They also tend to be high in sugar, which our bodies deal with by over-producing insulin. Not only that, but they lack fibre, which means that hunger will strike more quickly given the rate at which the foods are digested. It leads to an unhealthy cycle of spikes and crashes. These are referred to as "high GI" foods. Examples include white bread/rolls, cake/cookies, short grain rice, bran/corn flakes, crispy rice cereal, soda crackers, pretzels, rice cakes, cheesy fish shaped crackers, and so on.
Today, we focus on Breads and Cereals.
First, why worry about it?
As briefly stated above, our bodies use the nutrition found in whole grains, such as fibre, to reduce cholesterol, keep hunger at bay, keep our body's waste system working optimally, and reduce the risk of colon cancer. We also get several other vitamins from whole grains such as several B vitamins- riboflavin, folate, thiamine, and niacin- known to help our metabolism do its' job- and minerals, such as iron, zinc, and magnesium. Here's a great article about some of the other benefits of whole grains.
I'm going to take a detour from the Canada Food Guide, now, because it suggests that half of our daily consumption from this food group be comprised of whole grains. My personal opinion is that this food group has a great opportunity for us to make or break our health. It makes very little difference to eat a few whole grain servings in a day but spend the rest of the day eating high GI, low nutritional value foods such as macaroni and cheese, waffles, most store bought granola bars/snack foods, and white bread toast.
There is a certain segment of the population that absolutely cannot eat gluten, found in all wheat products, that have a disease known as Celiac Disease. They cannot process gluten, and with continued ingestion, can do long-term damage to their small intestines. Fortunately, there are other foods they can eat that satisfy the whole grain requirement, such as brown rice, quinoa, and oats. The most important thing to remember is to read the food labels. Cross contamination can occur.
The Canada Food Guide determination for servings of Breads and Cereals is age dependent. From 2-3 years old, both boys and girls need 3 serving of breads/cereals per day. From 4-8, that jumps to 4 servings per day for both sexes. From 9-13, girls and boys need 6 servings.
From 14-18, girls need 6 and boys need 7, and while it varies slightly with adults, it basically hovers around the same as you age.
What constitutes a serving?
Note: Look at ingredient labels! You are looking for the words "whole grain", whenever possible!
So what does this look like in a typical school lunch?
Here are some ideas that you could send in your typical school lunch. Luckily, gluten intolerance doesn't extend to people by being in the same room as gluten, so unless kids share their lunches with a celiac friend, there shouldn't be a problem.
I've got a homemade chocolate banana bran muffin, some sliced whole grain pita bread (about half a pita), a plain slice of whole grain whole wheat bread cut into quarters (my second son likes plain if he can't have peanut butter!), some original triscuit crackers, shreddies, cooked brown rice, cheerios, and popcorn. Rice is a terrific base for school lunches. You can send it as leftovers from dinner the night before- think rice pilaf or fried rice- or as dessert- like the rice pudding I'm putting in the slow cooker tonight.
Most of these are full servings- the pita bread and triscuits are just over and just under one serving, respectively.
Out of all of these, just pick one! For my second son, he only needs 4 servings in a day- my first son, 6 servings. If we think about a typical breakfast involving (usually) toast or cereal, the usual dinner involving some sort of starchy side like rice or buns, and there's always a bedtime snack in our house (because we eat dinner really early) I know they're getting their recommended servings.
I just want to say, I don't completely limit my kids' food choices when it comes to breads and cereals...or anything, actually. From time to time I'll buy the Presidents Choice version of those little fish crackers. When we travel, I usually bring a box of granola bars. We do eat really well, most of the time. I don't generally buy what I consider junk food, because if it's in the house, we'll eat it, and I'd rather spend our grocery budget on nutrition. I try to make my own desserts (like banana bread, zucchini loaf, cookies, etc). I feel that sometimes we really do want a cookie- so I'll try to make them. But life is busy, and sometimes I will buy them. I still try to buy the better of the processed snacks- keep reading food labels! And I will limit how much we can have in a day- and always, overall, choose nutrition over calories.
Please like, comment and share as you like! I can't wait to see our kids mobilized to making healthier choices even when we aren't watching! And as always, if you have some suggestions to add to this list, I welcome them. Please add your voice to my blog posts!
All the best,
Earlier this month I may have lost a potential client because I wouldn't guarantee weight loss. Given a second chance with them, I'd make the same statement again. There are very few certainties in life- death and taxes come to mind- but allow me to add to the list "weight fluctuation". It is guaranteed that within this brief life we live that all of us will experience changes in our weight. Sometimes we lose, sometimes we gain. Many factors affect that number on the scale, from illness to stress, from lifestyle choices such as how active or sedentary we are, to food choices- how much we eat, and what we eat. There are physiological factors at play, too, such as your genetic blueprint and your natural metabolism.
In short, there is no way I can guarantee you will lose weight by following my meal plans. I can guarantee healthy and tasty nutritious meals, with a focus on lean proteins, whole grains, and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. I can guarantee very little added sugar or salt. I can tell you that following my meal plans will help ensure you eat a wide variety of nutritious foods, and you will not be throwing out food that you bought with the best of intentions, so you will definitely be saving money in the grocery store. However, I cannot absolutely promise that you will lose (or gain, for that matter) weight.
If you need a weight loss plan, there are a plethora of companies out there that focus exclusively on weight loss, such as Jenny Craig or Weight Watchers. I'm a meal planner, and I'm really, really good at that.
There have lately been some interesting studies done that can assist you in making choices that may help you to drop some pounds. I've rounded up some of the more interesting ones I thought you might enjoy, and I'll conclude with a little bit of wisdom I've gleaned over the last few years.
And now, some wisdom I've gleaned over the years.
Love Your Body, and Your Life, Today.
18 years ago my BMI was perfectly in range with the ideal weight for my height. I look back at my wedding pictures and can't believe I wasn't happy with how I looked. Here's the thing, though- if you don't consciously celebrate you, as you are, you won't be happy when you're at your ideal weight, either. We are bombarded daily with perfectly smooth and unwrinkled, cellulite-free images of beautiful people who have perfect skin, hair, teeth, and so on. There will always be someone and something to compare ourselves with, and if we play that comparison game, we will never measure up.
Real life has given me laugh lines and stretch marks, a few grey hairs, some laproscopy scars, and unattractive veins on my legs. It's also given me 2 beautiful, intelligent, creative boys, a passion for learning, and a wide variety of interests. I live in a not-perfect home with a not-perfect husband, but it's my life, and I'm sharing it with my favorite people.
Think About Being Healthy, not About the Ideal Number.
Admittedly, I've put on some weight in the almost 18 years of my marriage. But at this point, even with the extra weight, I am significantly healthier than I was when I had a perfect BMI. I shudder to think at the diet we used to eat. I know there were significant holes in our nutrition, and my physical, emotional, and mental health reflected that. I used to get colds often, and miss a lot of work because of it. I didn't deal well with stress, as reflected with frequent migraines and cold sores. I suffered from anxiety to the point where I was prescribed medication. And in spite of being obsesed with the number on the scale, it's gone up and down and up again. No amount of dieting or obsessing stopped the movement on the scale.
Within the last few years, however, I've made it my goal to focus on making small, conscious decisions to become an overall healthier person. From the food I eat and drink, to the activities I participate in, to the peole I surround myself with, to the financial choices I make. to the spiritual lessons I'm learning, and to the online courses I've taken. My annual bloodwork and checkups confirm that I am, generally speaking, really healthy. I'm celebrating that.
You Can't Force People.
You just can't. Everyone has to come to their own place of peace, whether it's regarding their health, their lifestyle, their weight, their choices. Focus on you, and your example. Model the right behaviour, make good choices, and if you're the feeder of small children, make good choices for them. They might resist, but it will make an impression. Don't make food a fight. That may set them up for a lifetime of food issues.
Do the Activity You Love.
It's ok if what you love to do isn't the same as your best friend, or trending on twitter. If you love walking, walk. Running, run. Dancing? Dance your heart out. The important thing is to bring some movement into your life. We in the west are particularly fond of sitting, and the advances made in television, movies, and small electronic devices aren't going anywhere but forward. So make your choices consciously, and stand, run, dance, do stairs, climb ladders, hang drywall, etc. Do what you can to infuse movement into your life on a daily basis. Don't worry about how long is the right amount, or compare yourself to your ultra-fit neighbor. Make it your goal to best your own best, and let the rest of the population worry about themselves.
Scale photo from http://www.drugstore.com/sunbeam-dial-scale-model-sab-602-05/qxp309310
Fiber chart from http://www.preparationh.com/live-better/hemorrhoid-diet