Beginning with Breakfast, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Breakfast 101

So what exactly SHOULD we eat for breakfast, assuming that we simply accept the reasons that we should eat breakfast in the first place.

Based on what I have talked about four, there are three posts that already talk about specific things that you should be eating each day and suggest ways to make sure that you accomplish that goal.

These previous posts are…

  • The introduction to the Raw Foods Diet
  • The book review of Eating for Beauty
  • Information about continental breakfasts

So looking back on this overload of information and thinking only about what I should be putting on my plate, let’s make a breakfast plan—just in time for back to school and having to actually wake up and get the kids out the door every single morning.

Now grouping items mainly according to the Raw Foods Pyramid, let’s make a menu plan and a grocery list for what to have on hand to help get the day off to a great start.

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1. Production Foods

  • Water
  • Leafy Greens
  • Fruits and Vegetables…As far as fruits and vegetables are concerned, the main foods that will help contribute to your diet goals are…
  • Brightly colored fruits and vegetables…Most brightly-colored fruits and vegetables—like bright orange, yellow, red and green foods—contain high levels of beta-carotene and vitamin A. These foods include carrots, pumpkin, mango and spinach.
  • Kiwi and citrus…Both kiwi and citrus are excellent sources of the vitamin C needed to make the collagen that gives skin support and shape. The RDA for vitamin C is…
    90 mg/day in men, 75 mg/daily for women older than 18

2. Proteins and Amino Acids…Proteins, such as keratin, collagen and elastin, are the building blocks of skin, hair and nails…Women need about 46 grams of protein per day…men, 56 grams.

  • Legumes and Sprouts
  • Nuts and Seeds…Nuts are packed with essential fats, vitamin E and B vitamins. A healthy daily intake of nuts is 30g (a small handful) or approximately: 20 almonds. 15 cashews. 20 hazelnuts. 15 macadamias. 15 pecans. 2 tablespoons of pine nuts. 30 pistachio kernels. 9 walnut kernels.

3. Medicinal Foods

  • Herbs, Microgreens, and Juicing Grasses
  • Seaweed and Nutritional Yeast

4. Other Non-Pyramid Related Things to Consider

  • High iron content…A diet low in iron can make you feel tired and have little or no energy. The RDA for iron is…13.7–15.1 mg/day in children aged 2–11 years…
    16.3 mg/day in children and teens aged 12–19 years…19.3–20.5 mg/day in men
    17.0–18.9 mg/day in women older than 19.
  • Whole grains…As far as whole grains are considered, think about adding the following to your breakfast rotation…
  • Muesli…Muesli and other whole grains boost your intake of essential fats, B vitamins and the potent antioxidants. it is recommended that adults eat six ounces of grains each day.
  • Seafood and Fish…Fish is a good source of the omega-3 fatty acids that the heart needs to prevent cardiovascular disease. The American Heart Association recommends eating two 3.5oz servings of fish per week.

So keep reading in the days ahead as I posts ideas on what to plan and serve for breakfast in this “What’s Next” section…

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Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Black Strap Molasses—The Why?!

Since I started this journey toward creating a healthier lifestyle for my family, I have begun actually looking at nutrition labels before chunking anything and everything into my grocery cart, especially processed foods. My goal has been to create a Master Grocery List based on what I have learned as I go along.

Just like I did in a previous post on why we should all be eating avocado, this post will highlight the nutritional benefits of blackstrap molasses in a way that corresponds to these labels.

For years blackstrap molasses has appeared on almost every list of superfoods and been sold on health food store shelves for its many health benefits—including relieving PMS symptoms, stabilizing blood sugar levels, improving bone health, treating symptoms of ADHD,  preventing blood clotting, relieving menstrual cramps, maintaining the health of uterine muscles, combatting stress and anxiety, boosting skin health, promoting the growth of healthy tissues, serving as a natural wound healer, and helping you maintain clear and healthy skin.

So let’s take a quick run-through of the nutritional benefits of blackstrap molasses based on the elements that make up the nutrition label before we all place blackstrap molasses on our Instacart grocery lists.

 

1. The Serving Size…Obviously blackstrap molasses is actually an ingredient or condiment, not an actual food in and of itself…so you can’t really say what a typical serving should be…but the following statistics are based on 100 grams, or about 1/2C.

 

2.  Calories…One hundred grams of blackstrap molasses contains 290 calories, making it a food with an “average” or moderate caloric content.

 

 

3. Basic Nutrients…Now as for those specific nutrients contained in blackstrap molasses—such as carbohydrates, fat, protein, cholesterol, sodium, and sugar—that all of us typically eat in adequate amounts….blackstrap molasses provides the following percentages of these recommended nutrients to your daily diet…

 

 

a.  Fats…Blackstrap molasses contains zero fat.

 

b. Protein…Unless a food item makes a claim regarding its protein content—such as being “high in protein” or is marketed specifically for infants and children under four years old, this nutrient is often now shown. This is not a big deal because studies show that most of us actually do get enough protein in our diets already…zero protein

 

c. Fiber…Blackstrap molasses contains no fiber.

 

4.  Vitamins and Minerals…Blackstrap molasses has been sold as a dietary supplement for years and finds its way on almost every “official” list of superfoods…because one tablespoon of blackstrap molasses provides up to  20% of the recommended daily value of many important nutrients—including iron, calcium, copper, magnesium, potassium, vitamin B, and manganese.

 

a.  Iron…Blackstrap molasses contains 95% DV of iron per 1/4C. Not having enough iron in your red blood cells can make you feel tired, weak, crabby, lethargic, unmotivated, depressed, and anxious…definitely not something you want to be when you’re fifty years old chasing a “resident four year old.”

 

b.  Calcium…Blackstrap molasses contains a large amount of calcium, which is vital for maintaining strong and healthy bones and preventing osteoporosis.

 

c.  Copper...Copper is important for strengthening  your bones and blood vessels, keeping your nerves healthy, and boosting your immune system.

 

d. Magnesium…1/4C blackstrap molasses contains approximately 68% DV of magnesium. Adequate levels of magnesium are also crucial in preventing diseases like osteoporosis and asthma along with others that can affect your blood and heart

 

e.  PotassiumTwo teaspoons of blackstrap molasses contains 10% DV of potassium. Potassium important for strengthening bone density, helping your blood vessels and arteries to relax, lowering your blood pressure and cholesterol levels, cleansing your liver, keeping the body hydrated, and reducing your risk of circulatory problems—such as blood clotting, heart attacks, hypertension, high blood pressure, strokes.

 

f.  Vitamin B6…1/4C of blackstrap molasses provides 34% DV of Vitamin B6. This is important for helping to fight and avoid many health conditions—including morning sickness, depression, fatigue, stress,

 

g.  Chromium…Blackstrap molasses also contains a high level of chromium—an essential nutrient involved in controlling insulin, blood glucose, and cholesterol levels.

 

Finally blackstrap molasses proves to be a great source of organic compounds—such as antioxidants, lactic acid, carotenoids, and flavonoids.

a. Antioxidants…Blackstrap molasses contains many antioxidants, substances that help neutralize the effects of free radicals that have been linked to various health conditions—including cancer, cardiovascular disease, vision problems, premature aging, and cognitive disorders.

b.  Anti-inflammatory…The anti-inflammatory properties in blackstrap molasses are important for relieving the symptoms of osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

 

 

So does blackstrap molasses earn a spot in my grocery shopping app, or not?!

Definitely…Blackstrap molasses is definitely a more nutritious alternative to refined sugar.

Blackstrap molasses has a low glycemic index, which is very important for people with diabetes. Blackstrap molasses helps stabilize blood sugar levels, increases glucose tolerance, balance blood glucose levels, and give us stable energy.

Blackstrap molasses has also been proven to help treat the symptoms of ADD/ADHD…which is very important when you have a “resident four year old” to take care of.

 

 

 

 

 

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Sugar Ain’t So Sweet After All

Another problem with processed foods in that the main ingredient in most of this processed food is a whole lot of sugar. The typical American today consumes seven tablespoons of sugar a day in processed foods, more than half as much as thirty years ago.

Grocery store shelves are crammed with all sorts of foods that contain way too much sugar. Yeah, these foods—such as sugary snacks, refined grains, pizza, canned soup, fruit drinks, canned foods, and sweetened yogurt—might taste better than healthier choices…(no, not might taste better…most actually do).

But are the possible health risks of eating too much sugar really worth that moment of decadence.

For years, nutritional guidelines have focused on saturated fats and cholesterol, but perhaps this has been one huge mistake.

We have found that in order to meet consumer expectations as far as fat content, food companies have added more and more sugar in order to make their foods still taste good. Some of these foods get about 25 percent of their calories from added sugars.

In fact, at least forty percent of the money—more than $1 trillion annually—that we as Americans spend on  healthcare each year are spent treating diseases that are directly related to the overconsumption of sugar. The sugar epidemic in the United States has gotten to the point that the FDA has set an “official” recommendation that we should all be limiting our daily sugar intake to a no more than ten percent of our daily calories.

There are actually many health risks associated with eating too much added sugar. These include…

  • Cancer….Sugar is responsible for an estimated 500,000 cancer cases worldwide each year.
  • Diabetes
  • Heart Disease
  • Liver Disease
  • Obesity

And remember, just because the ingredient list on any food item that you might be looking at doesn’t actually contain the word “sugar,” there may be tons of sugar in that product anyway.

Food manufacturers like to avoid the taboo word “sugar” by listing ingredients such as…

  • Dextrose
  • Evaporated Cane Sugar
  • Fructose
  • Glucose
  • High-Fructose Corn Syrup
  • Lactose
  • Sucrose
Getting Healthy

Fiber—The What?!

Another major nutrient that is missing from processed foods is fiber.

 

What is fiber?

Fiber is part of the cellular wall of  plant-based foods—specifically fruits, vegetables grains, nuts, and beans.

According to the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences in 2002, the recommended dietary for men aged fourteen to fifty is 38 grams of fiber per day, while women aged nineteen to fifty require 25 grams of fiber.

However, the typical American person on a typical American diet of primarily processed foods will not even come close to amounts.

Fiber comes in two varieties: insoluble and soluble.

Insoluble fiber is the bulky fiber that does not dissolve in water. Insoluble fiber is found in whole grains, wheat cereals, and vegetables such as carrots, celery, and tomatoes.

Soluble fiber does dissolves in water and helps control blood sugar levels and reduce cholesterol. Good sources include barley, oatmeal, beans, nuts, and fruits—such as apples, berries, citrus fruits, and pears. Many foods contain both soluble and insoluble fiber.

Note that there is no fiber in meat, dairy, or sugar.

 

 

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Adding This to My Grocery List—Avocados

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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…