Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Avocado—The What?!

IMG_4912

The first word that you probably think of whenever you hear the word “avocado” is most likely “guacamole”

And if you’re like me, you rarely saw avocados when you were growing up in any other location than the local Mexican restaurant.

 

Since avocados and Mexican food always seem to go hand in hand, then it is no shock to learn that the avocado is believed to have first originated in the state of Puebla, Mexico, where archaeologists have discovered avocado pits lodged in caves dating back to at least 10,000 B.C.

 

Today Mexico remains the largest avocado-growing country in the world, but avocados have also become an important cash crop for California, since having first been introduced from Mexico to California in the 19th century. Over 95% of all United States avocado production takes place in Southern California…60% in San Diego County alone.

 

Avocados have become a superfood of choice for many who are overhauling their eating habits.

Their unique appearance, taste, and health benefits have moved avocados from being a novelty food item once used only in guacamole, to now being a staple ingredient on many family grocery lists and an important ingredient…in everything from avocado toast at breakfast to avocado mousse for dessert.

 

Avocados are available in many varieties, but most of the avocados found in your local market will be ‘Hass’ avocados, the most common cultivar of avocado. It is this Hass cultivar that currently account for 80% of all avocados cultivated in the world in any given year.

All ‘Hass’ trees are descended from a single “mother tree” raised by a mail carrier named Rudolph Hass, of La Habra Heights, California. Hass patented the productive tree in 1935, and the “mother tree” finally died of root rot and had to be cut down in September, 2002.

These Hass avocados are the typical avocados that are medium-sized ovals with black, pebbly skin.

The flesh of these avocados is green and not particularly sweet. They have a distinct and subtle flavor, and a smooth texture. These avocados can be used in making both savory and sweet dishes.

 

So here are a few points about choosing and storing this new addition to my Grocery IQ app…

1.It is not necessary to buy organic. Avocado already has a very thick skin that protects it from any pesticides.

2.  Do not refrigerate avocados as soon as you get them home from the store. Most of the avocados that you find at the local market have been picked while still unripe, and will require another four or five days to ripen. Once the avocado is actually ripe, it will yield to gentle pressure when held in the palm of the hand and squeezed.

Some supermarkets sell fully-ripe avocados. These avocados have been treated with synthetic ethylene gas in a “ripening room,” a practice that has now become an industry standard, since first being pioneered in the 1980s by Gil Henry, a farmer from Escondido, California, after watching hidden footage films from a hidden supermarket camera which showed shoppers repeatedly squeezing hard, unripe avocados, putting them “back in the bin,” and moving on without making a purchase. (Sorry, but doesn’t that count as part of the “food processing” that so many of us are trying to avoid right now?!)

3.  If you want your avocados to ripen faster, then place them in a paper bag along with an apple or banana. This will expose the avocados to the ethylene gas that they need to fully ripen.

4.  After using part of an avocado, the rest of the avocado may be stored in the refrigerator for future use.

5.  Add lime or lemon juice to keep them “pretty” after peeling, especially if serving as part of a buffet. The flesh of the avocado is prone to enzymatically browning when being exposed to air.

6.  Propagating Your Own…Remove the pit from a ripe, unrefrigerated avocado fruit. Stab the pit with three or four toothpicks, about one-third of the way up from the flat end. Place the pit with the toothpicks attached in a jar of water. Four to six weeks later, you should start seeing roots and a sprout. Plant the pit in a pot of soil once the stem has grown a few inches. Keep watering it every few days, and eventually you may end up having a very large avocado tree…or another something to keep a “resident four year old” entertained at least.

 

 

    • that adding avocado to a meal helps further carotenoid absorption. (9)…To promote a healthy, shining complexion, simply rub the inside of an
  • avocado peel on your skin and use…Mix in some therapeutic essential oils and you can easily make a cost-effective lotion instead of pouring out money for that store-bought stuff filled with irritating chemicals!
  • Avocado can also be used to make homemade hair masks to replenish, moisture and add shine….4. Cancer Prevention…Several studies have surfaced recently touting
  • avocado as a cancer-fighting food. The Journal of Nutrition and Cancer published the results of a study, for instance, claiming that the phytochemicals in
  • avocados are so powerful that they could prevent the use of chemotherapy in people with oral cancer! (10)…Researchers from Ohio State University are taking this theory one step further and attempting to figure out exactly how this phenomenon happens. A preliminary study published in 2011 suggests that the specific phytonutrient combination within each
  • avocado may hold the key to its anticancer effects. (11) Research suggests that phytochemicals extracted from
  • avocados help induce cell cycle arrest, inhibit growth, and induce apoptosis in precancerous and cancer cell lines. (12) Studies indicate that
  • avocado phytochemicals extracted with 50 percent methanol help in proliferation of human lymphocyte cells and decrease chromosomal changes….Another reason that
  • avocados are being linked to reduced risks for both cancer and diabetes is their MUFAs. These have been shown to offer better protection against chronic diseases compared to other types of fatty acids because of their ability to lower inflammation. (13) Beta-sitosterol is also highly protective of the prostate and linked to better immune function and lower prostate cancer risk, while carotenoid antioxidants are beneficial for preventing skin cancer — making eating
  • avocados a great way to fight skin cancer with food. (14)…

 

  • avocado benefits for weight loss! (16)…6. Better Digestive Health…As you now know,
  • avocados are one of the best fruit sources of fiber. Depending on the size of the
  • avocado, one whole fruit has between 11–17 grams of fiber! That’s more than nearly any other fruit and most servings of vegetables, grains and beans too.
    High-fiber foods are important for anyone with digestive tract issue because fiber helps shift the balance of bacteria in the gut, increasing healthy bacteria while decreasing the unhealthy bacteria that can be the root of some digestive disorders. Fiber also helps add bulk to stool, makes it easier to go to the bathroom, and helps pull waste and toxins through the intestines and colon….Fats are also essential for digestion and nutrient absorption because they nourish the lining of the gut. A low-fat diet can result in constipation or symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), which is a fluctuating disorder of the gastrointestinal tract characterized by abdominal pain and change in bowel habits….. Protection from Insulin Resistance and Diabetes…According to a large group of studies, weight maintenance with a MUFA-rich diet improves fasting insulin levels in insulin-resistant subjects. Ingestion of a MUFA-dense food (such as

 

  • Avocado Recipes…Mango
  • Avocado Salsa
  • Avocado Bison Burger
  • Avocado Soup…Chocolate
  • Avocado Mousse
  • Avocado Pizza.
  • avocados with nearly any meal or snack — even as a burger topping at your neighborhood BBQ. One pilot study with research supported by the Hass
  • Avocado Board and conducted by researchers at UCLA found that adding half of an
  • avocado to a 90 percent lean burger may cut down on compounds that lead to inflammation, which could, in turn, be associated with heart disease. The study was conducted on 11 healthy males ages 18-35, and while further research is needed on other individuals, the results of this pilot test are promising. Compared to eating a burger by itself, topping it with half of a fresh Hass
  • avocado adds not only great flavor and texture, but could also add beneficial anti-inflammatory responses during digestion. Score!…You can get inventive, if you’ve got culinary inclinations, too: A halved and pitted
  • avocado topped with an egg, sprinkled with chives and a little sea salt, and baked for about 15 minutes is an easy way to impress friends when you’re stumped about what to bring to potluck brunch. Adding
  • avocado to a smoothie with other nutrient-rich foods or fruits can be a great post-workout snack, or a healthful way to start the day. For dinner,
  • avocado and tomato salad (or, let’s be honest, adding
  • avocado to just about any salad) with a little balsamic vinegar is a tasty treat that’s also diet-friendly….So, there you go: There’s a lot more to this simple, mighty superfruit than you might have previously thought — so go ahead and order that side of guac.Image
  • Avocados are the darling of the produce section. They’re the go-to ingredient for guacamole dips at parties. And they’re also turning up in everything from salads and wraps to smoothies and even brownies. So what, exactly, makes this pear-
  • avocado is popular in vegetarian cuisine as a substitute for meats in sandwiches and salads because of its high fat content….Generally,
  • avocaa chips (left)….It is used as the base for the Mexican dip known as guacamole,[4] as well as a spread on corn tortillas or toast, served with spices….In the Philippines, Brazil, Indonesia, Vietnam, and southern India (especially the coastal Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka region),
  • avocados are frequently used for milkshakes and occasionally added to ice cream and other desserts. In Brazil, Vietnam, the Philippines[54] and Indonesia, a dessert drink is made with sugar, milk or water, and pureed
  • avocado. Chocolate syrup is sometimes added. In Morocco, a similar chilled
  • avocado and milk drink is sweetened with confectioner’s sugar and hinted with orange flower water….In Ethiopia,
  • avocados are made into juice by mixing them with sugar and milk or water, usually served with Vimto and a slice of lemon. It is also common to serve layered multiple fruit juices in a glass (locally called Spris) made of avocados, mangoes, bananas, guavas, and papayas.
  • Avocados are also used to make salads.
  • Avocados in savory dishes, often seen as exotic, are a relative novelty in Portuguese-speaking countries, such as Brazil, where the traditional preparation is mashed with sugar and lime, and eaten as a dessert or snack. This contrasts with Spanish-speaking countries such as Chile, Mexico, or Argentina, where the opposite is true and sweet preparations are rare….Sliced
  • avocado…In Australia and New Zealand, it is commonly served in sandwiches, sushi, on toast, or with chicken. In Ghana, it is often eaten alone in sliced bread as a sandwich. In Sri Lanka, well-ripened flesh, thoroughly mashed with sugar and milk, or treacle (a syrup made from the nectar of a particular palm flower) is a popular dessert. In Haiti, it is often consumed with cassava or regular bread for breakfast.
    In Mexico and Central America,
  • avocados are served mixed with white rice, in soups, salads, or on the side of chicken and meat. In Peru, they are consumed with tequeños as mayonnaise, served as a side dish with parrillas, used in salads and sandwiches, or as a whole dish when filled with tuna, shrimp, or chicken. In Chile, it is used as a puree-like sauce with chicken, hamburgers, and hot dogs; and in slices for celery or lettuce salads. The Chilean version of Caesar salad contains large slices of mature
  • avocado. In Kenya and Nigeria, the
  • avocado is often eaten as a fruit eaten alone or mixed with other fruits in a fruit salad, or as part of a vegetable salad.
  • Avocado is a primary ingredient in
  • avocado soup.
  • Avocado slices are frequently added to hamburgers, tortas, hot dogs, and carne asada.
  • Avocado can be combined with eggs (in scrambled eggs, tortillas, or omelettes), and is a key ingredient in California rolls and other makizushi (“maki”, or rolled sushi).
    In the United Kingdom, the
  • avocado became available during the 1960s when introduced by Sainsbury’s under the name ‘
  • avocado pear’.[22]…Unusual avocado variety from Cebu, Philippines…

*****

  • Avocado Body Scrub…Avocado Body Scrub–Bold Sky
  • Avocado Deep Conditioner..Ingredients…one half mashed ripe avocado, one egg, a couple of drops of peppermint essential oil, 2Tbsp olive oil…Benefits…adds shine…can help restore luster to your hair…rich in vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids…will smooth and moisturize your locks without weighing down fine hair
  • Avocado Face Mask…1/2 of a mashed ripe avocado, 2Tbsp honey… Benefits.. extremely hydrating…Best for…all skin types, especially dry skinreduce the risk of heart disease
Advertisements
Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Adding This to My Grocery List—Avocados

IMG_4912

I have three reasons that I am especially interested in adding these “good” fats to my daily diet…

First of all, a diet that includes these “good” fats helps you to keep your cardiovascular system healthy–decreasing glucose and insuin concentrations, promoting healthy blood lipid profiles, mediating blood pressure, improving insulin sensitivity, controlling cholesterol levels, and regulating glucose levels.

Next, a diet that includes these “good” fats helps lower depression, anxiety and other mental disorder risks. Pretty important to me since my husband suffers from PTSD, members of my family have been diagnosed as being bipolar, and being a fifty year old raising a “resident four year old” could make almost anyone feel like they are going completely insane at times.

Finally, a diet that includes these “good” fats is best at helping you lose and maintain a healthy weight because these foods are very willing and allow you to wait longer between meals without getting hungry.

So I get it… instead of attempting to remove all sources of “fat” from our diets, we should be careful to choose foods that contain “good” fat and not “bad” fat.

 

But here’s the problem…

I refuse to become one of those obnoxious people standing in the grocery aisle with her reading glasses on trying to decode a given package’s nutrition label.I want to be able to simply grab what I need when I go shop for groceries, not have to read more than I ever did in all four years of high school English combined.

First of all, I shouldn’t be standing in those center aisles in the first place because I’m eliminating most of the processed food items found on those shelves and replacing those foods with fresher and healthier ingredients found along the perimeter of the store…right?!

Also, one of my goals is to create my own list of pantry staples and foods to always keep on hand. Soon I will start working on that post…starting with the best foods for helping with insomnia that we have previously talked about in this article.

After including this list of optimal midnight snacks…sorry, Blue Bell, our midnight rendezvous are over, at least for now…the next item on my grocery list will be avocados…

 

Avocados?!…Why avocado?! 

 

Avocados are possibly the single best food source of the “good” fats that our bodies actually do need. In fact,  avocados have a much higher fat content than most other fruit. One-third of a medium-sized avocado contains roughly six grams of  “good” fat.

Most of the fat that an avocado does contain is monounsaturated fat….(on average avocados are about 71% monounsaturated, 13% polyunsaturated, and 16% saturated).

As my family begins to start depending less and less on the fatty foods that once were staples in our family menu plans—such as high-fat meats, fish, and dairy products—I plan to start using more and more avocados. So let’s learn more and finally start sharing some recipes…

Getting Healthy

Facing the Facts and Fiction on Fats

IMG_4473-1

Despite the common misconception that all fat is bad for you and that fat should be eliminated completely our of our diets, our bodies actually require fat in order to stay healthy.

Fat is actually an important nutrient in a healthy diet, just like protein and carbohydrates.

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggested a diet rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids—the healthy  fats—can help reduce the risk of getting heart disease, the most common cause of death in Western countries today, and also lower both your cholesterol levels and blood pressure.

 

Actually when choosing diet to keep or ditch in our diets, not only must we ask “How much fat does a particular food item contain,” but also “What kind of fat does this food item contain?” 

Rather than adopting a low-fat diet, it’s more important to focus on limiting harmful “bad” fats and eating more beneficial “good” fats. This is because “bad” fats increase your risk of certain diseases…while “good” fats can protect your brain and heart health, help you manage your mood, help you stay on top of your mental game, fight fatigue, boost your energy and well-being, help you manage your weight, lower your cholesterol levels, and help your body absorb vitamins.

There are four different types of fat…

  1. Trans fatty acid
  2. Saturated fats
  3. Unsaturated fats 
  4. Omega-3

The first two types of fat—trans fatty acids and saturated fats—are the dangerous type of fat you don’t want in your diet because these fats increase your levels of LDL while decreasing your levels of HDL (more on this to come later), cause you to gain weight, clog your arteries, and affect your health in many other ways also.

  • Good sources of the “good” types of fat that you should think about incorporating into your diet include
  • Avocados
  • Butter—grass-fed butter, ghee (clarified butter).
  • Fatty fish—salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, trout, sardines
  • Fish oil
  • Flax
  • Nuts (almonds, peanuts, macadamia, hazelnuts, pecans, cashews)
  • Oils…olive, canola, peanut, cold-pressed coconut, sesame, soybean and safflower
  • Olives
  • Peanut butter
  • Seeds—sunflower, sesame, and pumpkin seeds
  • Soymilk
  • Tofu
  • Walnuts

The last two types of fat—unsaturated fats and Omega-3—can lower your risk of heart disease and stroke, lower your levels of LDL while increasing your levels of HDL, prevent abnormal heart rhythms, lower triglycerides associated with heart disease and fight inflammation, lower blood pressure, prevent hardening of the arteries. These fats may also help to make you feel more satisfied after a meal, reducing hunger and thus promoting weight loss.

Sources of these “bad” fats that you should eliminate from your diet include…

  • Anything containing hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated vegetable oil
  • Butter
  • Commercially-baked pastries, cookies, doughnuts, muffins, cakes, pizza dough
  • Fried foods
  • Ice cream
  • Packaged snack foods—crackers, microwave popcorn, chips
  • Red meat
  • Stick margarine
  • Vegetable shortening
  • Whole-fat dairy products

More tips for adding more healthy fats to your diet

  • Aim for a diet rich in a variety of vegetables, fruit, nuts, and beans
  • Consume dairy products in moderation
  • Eat fried or processed meals only occasionally
  • Eat more avocados—such as avocado sandwiches, salads, and guacamole
  • Eat more nuts—such as adding ing nuts to vegetable dishes, using them instead of breadcrumbs on chicken or fish, or making your own trail mix
  • Eat more olives—tapenade, dips
  • Eat two or more servings of fatty fish each week
  • Learn more about following a “Mediterranean diet”
  • Limit how much red meat you put on the menu
  • Make your own salad dressings
  • Substitute beans, nuts, poultry, and fish for the red meat that you just crossed off your grocery list
  • Switch from whole milk dairy to lower fat versions.
  • Use canola oil for baking
  • Use olive oil for stovetop cooking…rather than butter, stick margarine, or lard
Getting Healthy

Daddy Always Said, “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It”

Most likely whenever you look at the ingredients label for any typical packaged food, you won’t have a clue what many of the ingredients listed are, and probably won’t be able to pronounce many of them either.

Those ingredients are most likely artificial chemicals that have been added for various purposes—such as to make the foods hopefully taste, look, and have the texture of unprocessed or minimally processed foods. These ingredients are also used to disguise undesirable qualities of the final product, increase shelf life, disinfect and deodorize, hide odors, and sweeten our foods.

Big food companies must think that they are doing both ourselves and themselves a huge favor…by making our foods more palatable, while at the same time making a larger profit themselves.

In fact, as consumers get used to the taste of a certain food, even more and more of these additives are usually added to those food items by the “food engineers” of these big -brand food manufacturers in order to keep them or make them even more addictive.

And as if that list of ingredients shown on the package that you just looked at isn’t long enough already, most also contain even dozens more additional chemicals that aren’t even listed on the label.

However adding all these additives can affect the health of everyone who eats that manufacturer’s products…including their own workers.

Health problems that can result because of all these additives include allergies, heart issues, hyperactivity, diabetes, obesity, irregular menstrual cycles, acne, hair loss, and even cancer.

For example, the Coalition for Safer Food Processing & Packaging periodically conducts laboratory testing of foods. One study involved the testing of thirty different macaroni and cheese products.

One chemical in particular, that the Coalition was looking for was phthalates, a hormone-disrupting chemical that manufacturers use when making rubber, plastics, adhesives, sealants, and printing inks…and that also poses a serious threat to the health of pregnant women and children.

The Coalition found phthalates in 29 of these 30 items, including eight of the nine Kraft cheese product items tested.

Another study conducted by the University of Hawaii of almost 200,000 people found that those people who eat the most processed meats—such as hot dogs and bologna—have a 67% higher risk of getting pancreatic cancer. Sorry, Oscar Mayer, but my dad died from pancreatic cancer. Crossing hot dogs and bologna off my grocery list permanently.’

We should all learn how to avoid such additives.

One way is to refuse to buy products with ingredient lists that…

  • are longer than the Santa wish list of my “resident four year old”
  • contain the words “artificial flavor. “Artificial flavor” is not actually an ingredient. Who in the heck even knows what “artificial flavor” is?
  • have words that are too hard to pronounce
  • have words that have more than twenty syllables

What exactly do the words “artificial flavor” mean?

Just like we previously learned, when doing a previous “What Now” unit on taking the perfect cruelty-free shower…as far as health and beauty products are concerned, the word “fragrance” can be code-name for a whole slew of we-really-don’t-want-to-tell-you-because-if-we-did-tell-you-then-you-probably-wouldn’t-buy-this ingredients…and when it comes to food, the words “artificial flavor” are basically code-name for that exact same thing.

Any time that you see the words “artificial flavor” listed as an ingredient, you should realize that this is a proprietary blend of several different ingredients that are considered “trade secrets.” For “marketing” reasons, manufacturers can get by without listing exactly specific ingredients make up their “artificial flavor.”

 

Getting Healthy

Cannery Row

Processed foods are much more than Mighty Kids Meals from McDonald’s, and definitely includes foods that you probably would never have ever even considered “processed food.”

A processed food is any food item that has been altered from its natural state, through any “processing method,” regardless of how small that change might have actually been—including canning, freezing, refrigeration, dehydration.

In fact, every food item you currently have—-every food item in your pantry, fridge, and freezer—and every food item that is boxed, bagged, canned or jarred—and every food  item that has a list of ingredients somewhere on the package is indeed a “processed food.”

If a food not as it is found right from the vine, bush, tree, or whatever else God Himself may have put in on, then that food is considered a “processed food.”

If you do happen to find any single-ingredient food item that has been ground or put into a jar with no added chemicals, that food item is a “real food.” Anything else that you find as you clear out your fridge, freezer, and pantry should probably be making its way to a trashcan about now…

Like “What Not to Wear” when they come in and clear out and dump most of that poor victim’s clothes into the big metal trashcan, we’re doing the same thing here…except the name of this show is “What Not to Eat”…and perhaps could also be called “Hoarders” if you’re anything like me.

Processed foods are not “real foods,” and should never replace those “real” foods, drinks, dishes and meals that we all know really do belong on our plates and that we all really should be eating.

 

 

The NOVA Classification System

The NOVA classification system, developed by Brazilian academic Carlos Augusto Monteiro, organized foods into the following four categories…

1.  Unprocessed or minimally processed foods…such as fruits, vegetables, grains, meat, fish, and milk.products that are pre-prepped for convenient use – including chopped veggies and roasted nuts

2.  Processed culinary ingredients—such as table sugar, oil, and salt

3.  Processed foods—such as tuna, beans, tomatoes—that have been processed in order to lock-in nutrients and flavors at their peak

4.  “Ultra-processed foods—such as frozen and pre-made meals, frozen pizzas and microwavable entrees, breakfast cereals, soda, instant soups and pre-packaged crackers, chips, and cookies—that have been chemically processed and made solely from refined ingredients and artificial substance

 

 

So what’s wrong with “processed food”?

It is this fourth category of processed foods that we should concern ourselves most with, and the first category of food products that we probably all need to eliminate from our diets.

These foods are packed full of things that none of our bodies need—such as synthetic additives, preservatives, artificial colors, emulsifiers, sugar and artificial sweeteners, fat, and salt.

Back when I was in my early twenties, I constantly ate ice. I remember laughing when people would tell me that I should stop eating ice because I would end up losing the top back tooth where I first bit down on a huge chunk of ice and my lowest back tooth on the opposite side where I bit down on that ice next. Guess what, they were right?!?! Twenty years later, I ended up having to have those two teeth removed.

I refuse to take that chance of not listening to the people twenty years older than me telling me to make the changes that I need to now in order to save my overall health. Losing two teeth when you’re forty because you failed to listen to what people were telling you back when you were twenty, is a whole lot different than losing your overall health and well-being when you’re sixty because you failed to listen to what people were telling you back when you were forty.

Right now, I am going to focus on removing this “worst category” of processed foods from what my family eats. Eliminating this category will hopefully help prevent us from having to face many more of the biggest health problems in America—such as type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, hypertension, stroke, coronary heart disease, and cancer.

About 90% of the money that Americans spend on food is spent on processed items…(gee, would that other 10% be spent on eating out…that’s actually “processed food” too)…

Basically, over half of what the average American eats in any given day fall into this last category…(we should all be so proud of ourselves, right(?!))….

 

We would all be so much better off if we could all simply eliminate two foods in particular off of our weekly grocery lists—soda, and

Soda…Soda, coke, “pop,” whatever the heck you call it in your neck of the weeds…oops, I mean woods…Regardless what you may call whatever might be in that cup that isn’t filled with water or sweet tea or lemonade or juice or beer or Kool-Aid…the fact is that the stuff in that other red Solo cup is one of America’s worst enemies. Mass-produced soda contains 35 grams of sugar per 12-ounce can. Mass-produced soda and sweetened “fruit drinks that contain less than 5% juice combined contribute to 40% of the US intake of “added sugar,”…the amount of sugar Americans consume which is over what actually should be consumed.

Mass-produced soda derives 100% of its total calories from sugar. Mass-produced soda contains 140 calories per serving. Being that one can of mass-produced soda actually contains two servings, a typical woman limiting herself to a 1400-calorie-per-day diet only needs to drink five cans of Dr. Pepper to meet her calorie demands for the day…no food allowed?!

Another food that should be eliminated from our American diet altogether is “pre-packaged cakes, cookies and pies.” It’s way too easy to eat entirely way too much of these foods without even realizing how much you have actually eaten.

Having our grandmother bake us awesome-tasting cakes, cookies, and pies and send them to us in a care package is one thing.

Having food scientists “engineer” us awesome-tasting cakes, cookies, and pies…and then offer them to us in creative packaging in quite another.

Our grandmother baked such foods for us and put them in packages because they loved us.

Food scientists engineer such foods for us and put them in packages because they simply want to take our money.

 

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Is Cooking A Sin?

So is cooking a sin?

Should I never step foot in my kitchen again and turn on the oven or a stove burner?

Can I turn my kitchen into a sewing room or home office?

 

Probably not…as much as I wish that were true quite often…

But thoughts and opinions as to what should be cooked, and how much it should be cooked for as far as temperature and time, run the gamut from one nutritionist to the next, from one individual to the next.

Typically, raw food advocates will begin to persuade you into their way of thinking through the importance of enzymes.

 

Enough Info on Enzymes…Sorry, but I don’t care to spend the next umpteen thousand hours learning about enzymes, when I barely even know what an enzyme is…So here’s the little bit of information that I have learned at this point.

There are two types of enzymes that are used by the body to break foods down into smaller, more operable nutritional units.

  • First, there are the “endogenous enzymes,” those enzymes produced within the body itself through the pancreas.
  • Next there are the “exogenous enzymes,” found in the foods that we eat.

And it is important that we eat more foods that contain these “exogenous enzymes” so that it is easier for our bodies to fully digest nutrients from our diet, without making them work more than they should in this process.

 

True advocates of the raw foods diet believe that any food heated over about 112 degrees Fahrenheit loses way too many, if not all, of these vital exogenous enzymes and that cooking foods can rob them of almost all nutritional benefits, such as antioxidants and vitamins.

 

However, most nutritionists, and real people, agree that the best diet is one that includes both raw and cooked vegetables.

Sorry I ate enough raw black-eye peas and “butter beans” growing up having to shell them as a little kid, so the idea of eating a single raw legume frightens me while at the same time making me think about the days when our biggest worry in the world was how to get the purple stains off our fingers before going into town the next weekend.

 

So how do you know which ones to cook and which ones not to cook?

When considering whether a specific vegetable should or should not be cooked, it is important to look at both how many nutrients that particular food has to offer and how our bodies are best able to actually absorb these nutrients.

Each specific vegetable has its own “heat labile point,” that specific temperature at which the food begins to lose some of its nutrients during the cooking process. At this temperature, chemical configurations within the food begin to change,  enzymes are lost, and the food becomes less beneficial.

But this temperature varies…so there is no magical temperature that should really be regarded as biblical for all produce.

And different nutrients respond differently to the cooking process in general.

 

Reasons to Keep Cooking

1.Cooking food can help these foods release their nutrients, makes these nutrients easier for the body to absorb, and obviously make them taste a lot better also. For example, certain nutrients—such as the antioxidants lycopene and beta-carotene found in carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, and tomatoes—and certain minerals, such as iron, are better absorbed after they have been heated.

 

2. Cooking foods can make certain vegetables—such as peppers and mushrooms—actually become more nutrient-dense.

 

3.  Cooking foods helps gets rid of the “bad stuff”–-Cooking can destroy certain harmful compounds, bacteria, and pathogens often found in foods, specifically fish, eggs, and meat. For example, goitrogen compounds—which are commonly found in such cruciferous vegetables as kale, broccoli, and cauliflower—can block thyroid function and contribute to hypothyroidism, but these compounds are mostly deactivated by exposure to heat. Another example of a compound that is deactivated by exposure to heat would be the lectins and phytic acid found in grains and legumes. These compounds could eventually prevent your body from absorbing minerals altogether.

 

4.  On the other hand, cooking foods also has the potential to increase the amount of “good stuff” that you get from the foods that you eat. An example of this would be steamed broccoli having more sulforaphanes, a compound in broccoli that fights cancer.

 

5.  Cooking can improve “digestibility,” the total amount of time food remains in our digestive system. The longer a food sits in our digestive tracts, the more likely that the food will begin to ferment in the digestive tract and cause problems such as gas, inflammation, and “leaky gut” syndrome.

 

 

So for this reason, and the fact that I am a true Southern belle from Mississippi who loves cooked black-eyed peas—in fact make that blackeyed peas cooked with fatback and cooked for hours before finally eating them, and cornbread with lots and lots of butter—I refuse to settle down to a strictly raw foods diet…and if I won’t do it myself, I’m not even going to ask the other members of our family how they feel about this issue at all.

However, I probably won’t be cooking my black-eyed peas with fat back for hours at a time any more, especially now that I know that the best way to cook vegetables is by steaming them…because steaming vegetables uses very little water and takes only a short amount of time, meaning that my blackeyed peas may or may not taste nearly as good, but at least they shouldn’t lose very many nutrients at all.

Like I said earlier…

Join Me for This Journey?!

Getting Healthy

Join Me for the Journey

IMG_4473-1

Because there isn’t necessarily one single type of “raw food diet” that must be strictly adhered to…but several different variations of a “raw foods diet” out there, all with different advice and degrees to which foods can be cooked…I have given myself permission to pick and choose exactly what I myself want to eat on a daily basis…(not that I didn’t obviously do that before now, but before now the main question that I would have asked the “resident four year old” would have been if he wanted chicken nuggets or a burger with those fries)…

 

The main guideline is that about seventy-five percent of the food that you eat should be uncooked.

As far as how much to eat, as long as you are eating raw and vegetarian foods,you can basically eat whatever you want, whenever you want.

 

Foods that can be technically included on a proper “raw foods diet” actually include far more than just fresh produce. Other options include fish, seaweed and other “sea vegetables,” fermented foods, sprouted grains, nuts, seeds, eggs, herbs, spices, beans, and perhaps even pasta, boiled eggs, and even some raw dairy products.

 

 

So instead of tackling one meal at a time or one diet at a time, I have decided to take a detailed look at the foods that make up what people call “The Raw Foods Pyramid,” starting with the lowest level on the pyramid and working my way up. Then based on that information, I will be better informed as to what my options are and what truly works best for myself and my family.

 

After all, changing your way of eating and/or your lifestyle in general—whether it be by switching to cruelty-free products or managing time more effectively or beginning new habits—is all about taking even the smallest step, only one step at a time—as long as that step is taken in the right direction.

Trying to completely change your diet overnight and thinking of developing better eating habits as a “quick-fix” solution will most sabotage your efforts. Introducing these higher-fiber, raw foods into your diet more slowly not only will make this transition easier, but also might mean that you experiencing fewer digestive problems and food cravings along the way.

So I have decided that, for our family at least, this “raw food diet” will become an important part of our overall diet on a long-term, not some short-term weight-loss…the main mission at the moment is to simply start gradually adding more and more nutritional foods to our Southern diet and lifestyle.

Soon I will do another “What Now” on Superfoods…what I learn about “raw foods” and then superfoods will hopefully also become a hinge on which to base our weekly menus and grocery lists based upon.

 

Anyway, I like the idea of adopting what many people refer to as the “80/20 raw diet,” which consists of eating “raw” 80% of the time and having cooked foods for the remaining 20%….(thanks goodness for that twenty, right?!)…

Join me for the journey, not only as I begin exploring the “Raw Foods Pyramid” layer by layer, but also as our family begins to…

 

1. Avoid foods that have been refined, pasteurized, homogenized, or produced with the use of synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, industrial solvents, or chemical food additives.

 

2.  Choose better quality animal products, and eat them only in moderation…just like I now dowith craft beers.  Choosing better grades of meat and eating fewer of them will lower exposure to pesticides, herbicides, antibiotics and hormones…while at the same will supply important nutrients and fatty acids—such as arachidonic acid, conjugated linoleic acid and omega-3 fatty acids.

 

3.  Learn to cook smarter and more “delicately.” Where I’m from, most of our favorite foods are deep fried, and sometimes even in lard. Where I live now, our State Fair is quite famous for introducing a new fried food of choice each year—such as deep-fried Twinkies, deep-fried Oreos, and even deep-fried ice cream. So this year I will be taking time to learn not only how to “cook” food at temperatures less than 100 degrees, but also how to blend, dehydrate, soak, steam, juice, sprout and also use my slow cooker to its full potential.

 

4. Replace all unhealthy products such as sugary snacks, refined grains, pizza, canned soup, fruit drinks, canned foods, and sweetened yogurt…with healthier choices.

5.  Replace bad fats—such as any hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils, trans fats, soybean oil, canola oil and vegetable oils—with good, healthy fats—such as extra virgin olive oil, cold-pressed coconut oil, and grass-fed butter.

 

6.  Set up a healthy pantry and fridge…Other foods that I am considering on adding or keeping on the slate—or better yet in my fridge or in my pantry—include various types of sprouted seeds, cheese, fermented foods—such as yogurts, kefir, kombucha, kimchee, sauerkraut, nuts and nut butters, cold-pressed extra virgin olive or coconut oil, fresh herbs, freshly squeezed vegetable juices, fermented veggies, and herbal tea.

 

Join Me for the Journey!!!

Getting Healthy

But Can We Still Eat Bacon…and Eggs?!

IMG_4473-1

When I first told my spouse that I was going to pursue this “Raw Foods Diet” thing, his first question was…

“Will we still eat bacon?”

Where I’m from bacon reigns supreme…and men are hunters with Silverado pickups who buy their wives guns for each birthday and anniversary that rolls around.

Don’t worry, honey…we’ll still eat bacon…

Just not as much and not as often…

In fact, according to what I have read so far, studies have shown that strictly adhering to a raw foods diet can be even more detrimental than the typical American diet…or should we say “healthy” American diet, for several reasons. These reasons include…

1.  Lack of protein…Even though many plant-based foods do contain protein, these protein are not  considered to be “complete proteins” that supply all of the essential amino acids that the body cannot make on its own.

2.  Lack of critical vitamins and minerals—such as iron, vitamin B12, folate, zinc, and selenium.

These vitamins and minerals are all crucial for a vast variety of reasons. For example, iron prevents anemia and fatigue…Vitamin B12 benefits red blood cell formation and improves cellular function…folate is important for proper cellular functions and cellular division.

3.  Fatigue...Personally, I deal with having low energy and fatigue almost every single day…probably because I am a fifty year old woman going through menopause, while at the same time spending every waking hour chasing the “resident four year old.”  So a strictly vegan or vegetarian diet does not sound like a healthy option for me.

4.  Osteoperosis…Osteoperosis and arthritis runs rampant in my family, so I feel like I need to maintain as much muscle mass and bone strength as possible…another reason that I don’t think that a vegan or vegetarian diet would ever work for me.

So over the next month or two, I will be look at the different elements in a “raw foods diet” and trying to individualize the diet to a diet that works best for me and my family.

Getting Healthy

Why Next?!…Raw Foods Diet

IMG_4473-1

So why am I willing to set our Southern style of eating on hold for a while and pursue this raw foods thing in the first place? Wouldn’t anybody in their right mind be content to eat fried bacon, fried eggs, and gravy every single morning from now to eternity?

Actually, yes, I am “in my right mind”…I guess, or at least hope…but my husband was recently diagnosed as having diabetes…and we have got to eat healthier than before…than the way we were brought up…now that we have crossed that bridge that most Southern men find themselves crossing at some point in their lives…after years of eating like a true Southerner…

 

And the “Raw Foods” diet seems like a good place to start eating healthier…

In fact, there are many reasons to consider eating a Raw Foods diet, such as…

 

1. Chronic Disease/Conditions…A raw foods diet can help reduce your risk of getting certain chronic diseases and conditions—including cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and kidney disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, gallstones or gallbladder disease, and Parkinson’s disease.

2. Digestion...Cooked foods are usually harder to digest than raw foods, and can be less “frustrating” to your stomach and digestive tract…(more on this later).

3. Energy Level.…Eating a diet like this can increase your\ energy levels, and being a fifty year old chasing a “resident four year old” 24/7, Lord knows that I personally need that.

4.  Longevity...Increasing your intake of raw fruits and vegetables could lead to a longer life

5.  Osteoporosis...Raw foods have been proven to be great for preventing and treating osteoporosis, joint pain, muscle aches and pains, and headaches.

6.  Weight...Eating fewer processed foods and consuming fewer sugary drinks is always a good idea and can result in losing weight without supposedly even trying. Raw foods contain plenty of fiber, and fiber helps curb cravings and keeps you feeling full longer so that you end up eating less overall

 

 

 

Nutritional Value...Switching to a diet that focuses less on “lower quality foods”—such as dairy, tofu, eggs, fish, and meat…and focuses more on “higher quality foods” such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds…has important nutritional benefits. Eating this way, instead of settling for the typical American diet,  will mean that you will be getting less sodium, added sugars, fats, carbohydrates, processed and pasteurized foods, preservatives, and unhealthy chemical additives…while at the same time getting more antioxidants, magnesium, minerals, vitamins, natural enzymes, phytochemicals, fiber, and other nutrients that most Americans are deficient in.

 

And perhaps best of all…A “raw foods” might even make us smarter and able to remember stuff. Studies have shown that chewing stimulates those parts of the brain responsible for learning and memory,  puts you in a better mood, and improves both your alertness, as well as both your short-term and long-term attention spans….and chewing raw foods simply takes more effort than chewing cooked foods.

Heading Off to Work

Be Purposeful

IMG_4860-1

As you set goals and decide to incorporate newer and better habits into your daily routine, it is important that you be purposeful. Questions to ask yourself what this new habit will give you or help you know, what this new habit might help prevent, and how this new habit will help you both short-term and long-term.

For example, my habit of writing has given me the opportunity to learn more about topics that I am interested in, given me a creative outlet in which to express myself, and become a part of my daily routine that I truly look forward to.

As another example, recently my husband was diagnosed with diabetes, so I want to begin this battle with an introduction of more “raw foods” into our diet. Incorporating raw and healthier foods into our diet will help me know what I am eating instead of eating mindlessly, prevent further health problems, and help us both maintain and improve our health, both short-term and long-term.

As you begin making this new habit a part of your daily routine, regardless of what that habit may be, there are a few things that you should consider…

First, is important to figure out where you can best complete this task. For example, if you are beginning a new exercise program, would you be better off working at home by yourself, at a gym with other motivated people, or at the park.

 

 

Next, it is important to block off specific times to focus on this new habit. For example, I typically write for an hour once I wake up, but before I get out of bed…plus a couple of hours each week at a local coffee shop where I am surrounded by other people drinking coffee and working on their computers…practically free from distractions, and very close to high-quality coffee.

Make the most of your writing time by have a basic idea of what you need to do, what your plans are, and what task needs to be completed next

Use a timer. Decide a minimum amount of time that you want to spend on your goal  each day. Setting a timer forces you to stay focused, get to the point, and keep the schedule you’ve set for yourself.

 

Name your destination. Know which direction you are headed.

Using a planner will help you stay on track of goals for the week, month, and any other long term goals…as well as what needs to be done and when.

Start your work day by making a ‘to do’ list and going through your planner to see what you have scheduled for the day.

Set up routines where you can. Routines enable you to complete certain tasks automatically and helps reduce stress.

 

4.  Track your time. Know how you have spent your time—what you’re doing, when, and for how long. This will help you evaluate and change habits, eliminate wasted time, and increase your productivity.

 

 

 

5. Work smart. Plan out your work sessions. Know what you’re going to get done, so you don’t waste part of your work time figuring out what you need to do.

 

5. Know who you can turn to for advice or facts. Know where to find whatever it is that you are looking for, how to get your creative juices and inner drive pumping, and how your brain works.

 

6. Group your daily ‘to do’ list and tasks. Not having to constantly switch from one type of task to another helps you knock out an entire category of work in no time. Focus on one thing at a time. Multitasking may seem like a good way to get more done in less time, but it actually slows you down because your attention is divided between two activities.

 

7.  Know your limits. Learn to say “no” to things you don’t have to do. Limit time spent on social media. Turn off social media notifications.

 

6. Neighbor your neighborhood…Each of us has something to offer each individual they come in contact with. Learn from those around you. Take time to actually meet and find people with the same interests, goals, and ambitions as you yourself. Surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals will help you have a good support system, help you learn more—and more quickly, result in long-lasting friendships, help you feel like you belong to a group, and help others see your development from another perspective.

 

So who are the “right” people?!

Those people…

  • who are always ready to support you any time you need help
  • who are passionately doing creative works and great things that will inspire you
  • who can help us can gain new perspectives and information about experiences you never knew existed
  • who provide an overall support system.

These include…

  • The closest people in your life—your family and friends…
  • Children…Children are one of the best sources of inspiration. Spending time with children helps us realize how many of us have lost the “inner child within us” and prompt us to reconsider our values and priorities.
  • “Random” people  around us…Giving to those around us without expecting anything in return, but simply with the goal of showing compassion, even if only holding the door open for someone, helps us make a difference in their lives and restore a glimmer of hope in their eyes,
  • Colleagues…Attending conferences and workshops, joining different industry-related groups, and exchanging ideas with people on forums will help you understand the latest trends and let the innovative ideas of creative people become your inspiration. The “right” colleagues within your career field should share the same…Audience—should have large, active and engaged audiences…Influence—should be seen as influential or somewhat influential…Relevance—should be relevant to your niche.

Fox example, the neighborhood of blogging and writing might include…

1. Actual Blogs...The most obvious way to find other bloggers is through their own blogs. Leave comments. Start reading their blogs regularly. Send them an email asking them about a previous post. The main thing is “to see and be seen.

1.  2017 Blog Conferences…at least those held in Texas

2.  Blog Engage…Blog Engage is a blogging community where bloggers submit articles to be read and voted on by other members. As a blogger trying to meet other bloggers, it is important that you find the right Group for yourself. These Groups allow users to share articles with other members who specifically share a common interest in a topic.

3.  Blogger Meetups-–Meetup offers a database of local groups that meet together in “real life” to talk about a given topic or support a given cause.

3. Blog Engage ..Blog Engage is a blogging community where bloggers submit articles to be read and voted on by other members. As a blogger trying to meet other bloggers, it is important that you find the right Group for yourself. These Groups allow users to share articles with other members who specifically share a common interest in a topic.

4. Blogger Forums…A list of the ten best discussion forums for bloggers can be found on the Mint Blogger site. My ADHD self honestly had trouble focusing on any of these forums, but this is always an option for meeting other bloggers…

5. Blogger Meetups…Meetup offers a database of local groups that meet together in “real life” to talk about a given topic or support a given cause

6. Facebook Groups…Facebook Groups can be a great way to connect with various groups of people in the blogging world. Whether you are looking for design help, for connections to cross promote, or for Pinterest boards to collaborate on, Facebook groups are a great place to start looking. They are free and really easy to use and see right in your newsfeed.

  • Blog + Biz BFFs
  • Blog and Business: Moms Who do it All;
  • Bloggertunities
  • Blogger Perks
  • Bloggers United
  • Blogging Newbs
  • Christian Women Bloggers Network
  • Christian Women Blogs
  • Christian Bloggers Network
  • Grow Your Blog
  • Inspired Bloggers Network
  • Mommyhood Media Bloggers
  • SITS Girls
  • Social Media Network Group
  • The Blog Loft
  • The Blogger Life
  • WordPress Help for Beginners
  • WordPress Help & Share
  • Writers/Bloggers Network

7. Inbound.org…Inbound.org is a bookmarking website and learning tool that gives you a large community of active top industry influencers that can help you find inspiration for blogging.

8. Local Colleges and Universities...Local colleges and universities are another group of people that can be added to your team. Not only will these provide you with access to other bloggers, but obviously professionals and faculty. I am seriously considering this OMCA® Social Media Associate program from the University of Texas at Arlington, my alma mater…and thisSocial Media class from Tarrant Community College.

9. Triberr…Triberr is a social platform that helps bloggers work together to share each other’s content. The site is built around various “tribes” or communities of interest. Once you join a tribe, the idea is that you share the blog content of fellow tribemates to your social following and they do they same.

?. Writing for Sites such as Ezinearticles.com and Hubpages…These are both article networks that allow experts to share original, short, easy-to-read articles about basically any of a couple hundred topics in which that person feels they have knowledge, expertise, and wisdom. These articles can be informative, educational, and/or entertaining.

The goal for writing for any of these platforms is to write something sensible so that your readers keep on reading, to establish your own expertise and credibility, and to make the reader want to visit your website or blog for further information.

Potential problems with writing for one of these sites include the fact that these platforms appeal to only a particular segment of the market and may seem “unprofessional” to others, may defeat any claims that your site climbed to #1 on Google based on its own credit alone, can be an incredible waste of time—even though you may think that you’re making incremental progress by writing ten articles a day about your favorite long-tail keywords…only to discover thar your effort has only been wasted time.