Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Yes, You Can Actually EAT Water

 

 

 

Okay, so we all know now that water is important to our health for many different reasons…but sorry, water is still boring—even when “spiked” with spices and herbs…

Is there any other option that can help us reach out daily recommended two liters of water per day?

Fortunately yes…we can actually EAT our water by choosing foods that have a high water content…

Let’s look at a few of these options, using the Raw Foods Pyramid as a guide…

The levels of the Raw Foods Pyramid are…

  • Water
  • Leafy Greens
  • Fruits and Vegetables
  • Image result for raw foods pyramidSprouts and Legumes
  • Nuts and Seeds
  • Herbs, Microgreens, and Juicing Greens
  • Seaweed and Nutritional Yeast

So looking at these levels, let’s see which foods help you reach your daily water needs…

 

Leafy Greens…Leafy greens require ample chewing and provide a healthy dose of fiber, vitamins, and minerals. They also help with acid indigestion, constipation, and urinary tract infections.

  1. Iceberg Lettuce…Although we have all been told to choose darker greens—such as spinach or romaine—because these have more fiber and nutrients such as folate and vitamin K, lettuce is the best leafy green as far as water content. Iceberg consists of  95.6% water…more water than any other leafy greens—including butterhead, green leaf, and romaine.
  2. Spinach…Even though spinach has less water content than iceberg lettuce—92% water, spinach provides more nutrients than iceberg lettuce—including magnesium, potassium, B-vitamins, lutein, fiber, folate, and antioxidants.
  3. Other leafy green options that will increase your water intake include kale, Chinese cabbage, bok choy, Swiss chard, cabbage, and watercress.
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Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

When Life Gives You Way Too Many Lemons

Sometimes life gives you lemons…then there are times when life gives you more lemons than you can handle.

Just like when you buy one or lemons at a time, you’ll probably end up using them before they go bad, but if you try to save money and buy the big bag of lemons, you’ll probably end up throwing out how many?!

Anyway, what should we, or can we, do when life gives us more lemons than we could possibly handle?!

Those answers will be shared later, but first I wanted to share a little bit more about the nutritional value of lemon water and tips on how to use/make/keep more lemon water on hand.

Nutritional Value

Lemon water can quench thirst better than any other drink, but lemon water also provides our bodies with plenty of vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, and vital trace minerals—such as iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium.

1.Vitamins…One cup of fresh lemon juice provides 187 percent of your daily recommended serving of vitamin C and 6% DV of vitamin B6.

Vitamin C...Vitamin C is important for many different reasons. These include…

  • decreasing the severity and duration of respiratory infections like the common cold
  • helping to produce collagen, which is important for smoothing out fine lines in the face and keeping your skin healthy
  • lowering blood pressure
  • reducing the health hazards that are a result of stress
  • reducing your risk of cardiovascular disease and stroke
  • strengthening your immune system

2. Antioxidants…Lemon juice contains powerful antioxidants that helps protect cells from damaging free radicals….keeping your skin looking fresh, and helping slow down the aging process, and strengthening your immune system.

3. Electrolytes…Electrolytes are hydrating minerals—such as calcium, potassium, and magnesium.

4. Citric Acid…Lemons are loaded with citric acid. Citric acid provides many health benefits. These benefits include helping your body with digestion by interacting with various enzymes in your body and stimulating the secretion of gastric juice…and preventing kidney stones by increasing urine volume and hydrating you enough so that your body can flush out kidney stones quicker.

Finally, that same one cup of lemon juice contains…

  • 61 calories
  • 21 grams carbohydrates
  • 0.9 gram protein
  • 1 gram dietary fiber
  • 31.7 micrograms folate (8 percent DV)
  • 16% DV of copper.
  • 5% DV thiamin (5 percent DV)

Thirteen Tips on Filling Your Tumbler

  1. Add even more flavor to your lemon water by adding a few springs of mint, a teaspoon of maple syrup or raw honey, a slice of fresh ginger, a dash of cinnamon, slices of other fresh citrus fruits such as limes and oranges, cucumber slices, and so forth
  2. Always use fresh lemons, not artificial lemon from a bottle.
  3. Drinking lemon water first thing in the morning gives the body a chance to absorb these vitamins effectively and can provide a little immune boost….
  4. Drink lemon water at warm or room temp water to avoid shocking your system.
  5. Drink lemon water consistently in order to reap any health benefits.
  6. For a sore throat, gargle frequently with lemon juice, diluted half and half with pure water.
  7. For the relief of heartburn, taking a teaspoon o lemon juice in half a glass of water.
  8. Juice several lemons at one time into an ice cube tray. Freeze. Pop a few cubes in a glass of water to have fresh lemon juice at the ready anytime.
  9. Keep your breath sweeter by drinking a glass of lemon water after meals and first thing in the morning.
  10. Replace your morning coffee with a cup of hot lemon water.
  11. Squeeze fresh lemon juice into ice cube trays and freeze. Use instead of “regular” ice.
  12. Use more than just a single wedge of lemon in your mug.
  13. When buying lemons, choose lemons that are fully yellow and, if possible, organic. If the fruit is still green, it isn’t fully ripe. Avoid lemons that look dull or wrinkled or that seem excessively hard.

There are many uses for lemons around the house other than their simply lounging in sweet tea glasses with their best friend, ice…or squishing them in the juicer to make fresh lemonade…or drinking as lemon water.

So what to do with those extra lemons that are sitting there slowly rotting on your countertop?

 

Here are a few options…

1.  Air Freshener…Cut a few lemons into quarters. Put them in a pot of boiling water to release citrus-infused steam into the air.

2.  All-Purpose Cleaner…Fill a Mason jar with lemon peels and white vinegar. Shake. Put in a cool dark place for about two weeks. Drain the liquid into a spray bottle.

3.  Ant Repellant…Squirt lemon juice on door thresholds and windowsills. Squeeze lemon juice into any holes or cracks where the ants are getting in. Scatter small slices of lemon peel around the outdoor entrance.

4.  Clogged Tub and Shower Drains...Boil a big pot of water on the stove. Pour it down the drain. Wait for the water to drain. Slowly pour 1C baking soda down the drain, using a spoon or funnel. Add 1C lemon juice. Use your tub stopper or a rag to cover the drain. Wait 30min. Uncover the drain. Pour more boiling water down the drain. Repeat until your drain is no longer clogged. Do this once a quarter to prevent those big clogs from building up again.

5.  Coffee Pot…Stir together a few tablespoons of lemon juice, a tablespoon of Kosher Salt, a few ice cubes, and a tablespoon of water in the pot..Rinse with warm water once the stains are removed.

6.  Cutting Boards…Clean after each use by scrubbing 2tsp salt onto the board with a lemon half and rinsing.

7.  Faucet Polish…Rub faucets with lemon peel. Wash, dry, and buff with microfiber cloths.

8.  Fridge…Add the juice of a lemon to a sponge. Place it in the fridge overnight.

9.  Fruit and Vegetable Spray...Mix together 2Tbsp fresh lemon juice, 2Tbsp apple cider vinegar, and 1C water in a spray bottle. Spray on fruits and veggies and then rinse. This will keep apples, avocados, and other fruits and veggies their natural color and avoid browning.

10.  Garbage Disposals...Cut three or four lemons in half. Remove the pulp. Fill each empty rind with a few tablespoons of baking soda. Place the rinds in a bowl in an out-of-the way spot. Keep the lemon halves there for a few days or until you don’t notice the citrus smell anymore. Then, if you have a garbage disposal, send the rinds down it — they’ll clean and freshen your drain on the way.

11.  Laundry Detergent Booster.…..Add 1C lemon juice to the washing machine during the wash cycle.

12.  Microwave…Combine 3Tbsp lemon juice with 1 1/2C water in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on High for 5-10 minutes. Wipe away the softened food with a dishrag.

13.  Mosquito Repellant...Break block of 100% organic beeswax into pieces. Place in a glass bowl over a pan filled with simmering water. Melt over medium heat. Stir citronella oil into the melted wax.

14.  Pots and Pans…Rub the cut side of half a lemon all over them, inside and out. Buff with a soft cloth.

15.  Roach and Flea Repellant.…..Mop your floors with the juice and rinds of four lemons and 2 liters water.

16.  Stain Remover..First try to get as much of the dirt out as possible. Next cover the stain well with lemon juice, scrub it with some Kosher salt, and throw it in with the next load of laundry.

17.  Tarnished Silver…Dip a cloth into lemon juice. Rub the tarnish off. Rinse.

 

 

Beginning with Breakfast, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Production Foods

So as our family makes this transition from setting up a household that is “greener” and more “politically correct”…and learning to live with type 2 diabetes, I have decided to actually plan and prepare breakfasts, instead of passing out the Pop-Tarts or granola bars.

This last year I have totally realized just how much diet and physical activity affect my own health, as well as the health of our entire family.

Using the Raw Foods Pyramid discussed earlier in this post, Now What?!…Raw Foods Diet, we can easily see which low-calorie, nutrient dense foods are at the base of the pyramid, those foods that we should probably all eat more of in the first place…and which high-calorie, nutrient poor foods are at the top of the pyramid, those foods that we should eat very little of, if any at all.

As a wife, mother, grandmother, and simply as my own individual, planning a diet that is based only on pure, water-based food is important. Such a diet provides more of the nutrients that we all need, prevents a myriad of health issues, helps us to love or maintain weight, improves skin condition, helps us to have more energy (which is VERY important when you are fifty years old chasing a four year old all day long).

So in planning our breakfast menus, I have started by mainly including foods from the three bottom tiers of the Raw Foods pyramid, which are grouped together in the one category “Production Foods.”

As a quick review of the raw foods “diet”, the cardinal rule is to…

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

Now, let’s start taking this pyramid apart by looking at the bottom three tiers—“production foods”…and ask ourselves the following questions…

water.

Water

  • How important is drinking enough water?
  • How can I get the best quality water possible, water worth actually drinking?
  • What other options exist that make water something I look forward to?

Leafy Greens

  • Why are leafy green vegetables so important?
  • What are the different varieties of leafy greens, other than lettuce?

Fruits and Vegetables

  1. What snacks actually contain real fruits and vegetables instead of flavoring and so forth?
  2. How can I incorporate fruits and vegetables into my breakfast menu?
  3. Which fruits and vegetables offer the best nutritional value?
  4. Why is eating vegetables and fruits so important?
  5. How can I make sure that I am getting the best quality fruits and vegetables possible?
  6. Why should I buy local, seasonal fruits and vegetables?
Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Agave Nectar

Once I learned that my husband had been diagnosed as having type 2 diabetes, my first thought…well, not my first…but anyway…I immediately felt like adding agave nectar to my instacart order from Sprouts…

But what I’ve been reading lately has made me wonder about adding this agave nectar to my Muffins and Magnolias Master Grocery List altogether…and to get consume any agave through tequila instead.

 

What is agave nectar anyway?!

The agave plant is native to the hot and arid regions of Mexico and the Southwestern United States, and some tropical areas of South America. The plant is sometimes referred to as the “century plant” because the plants must grow to heights of about thirty feet before ever blooming. But once an agave plant does bloom, it will produce several pounds of edible flowers. After this, the plant will die.

When an agave plant has been growing from seven to ten years old, the leaves of the plant are cut off, revealing the core of the plant (called the “pina”). When harvested, the pina resembles a giant pineapple and can weigh in at 50 to 150 pounds.

There are many different species of agave, but the most common one is the blue agave. Blue agave is the species of agage used to make tequila. In order for a tequila to be classified as a 100% blue agave tequila, the tequila must be made only from the Agave tequilana ‘Weber’s Blue’ agave plant and only in certain Mexican states, according to an agreement made in 2001 between the Mexican Government and European Union.

The Aztecs prized the agave as a gift from the gods. The Aztecs and Navajo Indians have used every part of the agave plant—including the flowers, the leaves, the stalks, and the sap for just about everything–including meat, drink, clothing, and writing materials.

  • Flowers…The flower head can be baked and then boiled to make an edible paste used by itself or made into soup. The flower heads can be baked and sundried to extend the shelf life. Dried slices of the flower stem can be used to make all-natural razor strops.
  • Leaves…The leaves may be collected in winter and spring, when the plants are rich in sap, for eating and making sisal or hemp. The expressed juice of the leaves lathers in water like soap. The leaves are also used to make a tea that is used specificaxlly for treating constipation and arthritis.
  • Stalks…The stalks can be roasted and chewed right before the flower blooms to extract the sweet sap, called argamiel, much like sugarcane. The stalks can also be dried out and used to make didgeridoos.
  • Sap…The sap from the flower shoot is often collected, fermented, and distilled to make alcholic drinks called mezcal, which we Americans mostly know  in the shot glasses called tequila. The sap can also be boiled to make a sweetener that the Mexicans refer to as miel de agave.

Agave nectar is a sweetener derived from the sap of the agave plant

 

Agave Nectar—The Why or Why Not?!

Agave sweeteners come from the blue agave plant, the same plant that you get tequile from. Agave nectar is said to be about 1.5 times sweeter than sugar….and is often used instead of sugar, honey, or maple syrup. The taste of agave nectar is comparable, though not identical, to honey. Many people who do not like the taste of honey find agave a more palatable choice. It also has none of the bitter aftertaste associated with artificial sweeteners.

Agave has about sixty calories per tablespoon, compared to forty calories for the same amount of table sugar. But you should be able to get the same effect from less agage nectar because the agave is sweeter.

Agave claims to be an especially good sugar replacement for diabetics because it is low on the glycemic index. But at the same time, agave nectar has an extremely amount of fructose. And the agave nectar that you find as a consumer has been highly processed, much like high-fructose corn syrup.

Sweeteners containing fructose, as opposed to those containing glucose, can claim to be “healthy” or “diabetic friendly” because they typically have a very low GI and do not  raise your blood sugar or insulin levels in the short-term.Yet the high amount of fructose found in agave nectar can be detrimental to your health. For one thing, the liver is the only organ that can metabolize significant amounts of fructose. Eating, or drinking, an extreme amount of  fructose causes the liver to work too hard, resulting in kidney disease and cirhossis of the liver seen in many alcoholics

The nectar made from the plant is known in Mexico as aguamiel, or “honey water.”

Even though Mexicans boil the sap to make a sweetener referred to as miel de agave, the agave nectar sold on American shelves has very little in common with this traditional sweetener made by the Mexicans because agave nectar that is sold on our shelves has been made by treating the sugars with heat and enzymes, which destroys all the beneficial health effects of the agave plant…resulting in a highly refined, unhealthy syrup–just as the processing does to any other fruit or vegetable.

In its original, natural form extracts from the agave plant contain strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, but none of these beneficial elements are present in the agave that we see in the stores.

To make the agave nectar as we know it, sap is extracted from the pina, filtered, and heated at a low temperature, which breaks down the carbohydrates into sugars.

Even though agave nectar has been targeted as a healthy sugar alternative for people concerned about their blood sugar levels, agave nectar contains very high levels of fructose….and fructose, even though found in whole foods that are on my permanent shopping list, actually can have long-term effects on our health—including heart disease, weight gain, and diabetes.

Agave nectar is about 85% fructose, which is much higher than plain sugar.

Consuming too much fructose can also cause your body to become resistent to insulin, causing major increases in long-term blood sugar and insulin levels and strongly raising your risk of getting type 2 diabetes.

Agave actually contains more fructose than the supposed demon called high-fructose corn syrup that we all know that we should be avoiding

Agave is not healthier than honey, sugar, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), or any other type of sweetener. Agave syrup (nectar) is basically high-fructose corn syrup masquerading as a health food.

So my verdict on using agave nectar as a substitute for table sugar, based on what I have been reading, is a definite no….

 

Let’s all just shoot blue agave tequila instead!!!

Sw

  • highest fructose content of any commercial sweetener on the market
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

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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?!

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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

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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.

Getting Healthy

Midnight Snacking

Chamomile; German Chamomile; Hungarian Chamomile; Camomile; Matricaria recutita; Chamomilla recutita; Matricaria chamomilla

Blame your midnight refrigerator raids and before-bed snacks on your circadian rhythm, or inner time clock…or come up with any other excuse that you can possibly think of, but how many of us find ourselves raiding the refrigerator in our pajamas  before we go to bed every night or while anyone in their right mind would be asleep?

 

Honestly does it really matter why we find ourselves nibbling away, but instead which snacks should you choose at night?

Thankfully not all midnight or before-bed snacks are that bad for you, and some snacks can actually help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.

 

So exactly which “health-conscious snacks” should you grab first when raiding the fridge at night?

 

In order to make sure that your bedtime snack can actually help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer, there are certain ingredients to look for. These ingredients, as well as sources for these ingredients, include…

1. Carbohydrates

  • Why carbs?…Carbohydrates boost the production of serotonin and melatonin and help reset your circadian rhythm. Carbs also increase your insulin levels, which in turn affects the levels of the crucial sleep-regulating gene PER2 so that you’re drowsy when you should be.

How carbs?

  • Bananas…Bananas are the perfect bedtime snack…not only because bananas contain not only healthy, complex carbs…but also abundant amounts of potassium and magnesium, two minerals which help your muscles relax, and tryptophan, an amino acid that helps your body produce serotonin….(more on this below)…
  • Popcorn…Air-popped popcorn contains only thirty calories per cup and is an ideal late-night-TV-watching snack food.
  • Whole-Grain Crackers…The high-fiber content and low glycemic index of whole grains create a steady stream of glucose in your system throughout the night.

 

 

2.  Folate

Why folate? Folate helps to regulate sleep patterns, especially in older people.

How folate?

  • Hummus...The main ingredient in hummus is chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, which are not only rich in folate, but also vitamin B and tryptophan.

 

3.  Magnesium

Why magnesium?…Magnesium is a muscle-relaxing mineral that plays a key role in regulating sleep. Yet studies have shown that nearly 70% of adults do not get enough magnesium in their daily diets. Magnesium deficiency has been linked not only to insomnia, but muscle cramps, which can also disrupt sleep.

  • Almonds and Almond Butter…Almonds are a great source of magnesium…so grabbing a handful of almonds or enjoying a tablespoon of almond butter before bed may help you fall asleep — and stay asleep longer. (more on nut butters next post)…
  • Granola…Granola, oats, and other whole grain foods not only contain those all-important snooze-promoting carbs mentioned above, but also contain magnesium.
  • Lentils…Lentils are a superfood that are not only a great source of magnesium, potassium, and protein…but also are high in fiber and low in fat, so you can enjoy them without worrying about gaining weight.

 

4. Melatonin

  • Why melatonin? Melatonin is a sleep-regulating hormone that regulates your internal clock and basically tells your body when it’s time for bed. We talked about melatonin as a supplement in an earlier post, but there are foods that actually contain natural melatonin as well, such as…

How melatonin?

  • Cherries and Cherry Juice…Cherries and cherry juice, especially the tart variety, are rich sources of melatonin, as well as antioxidants and carbohydrates. Studies have shown that people who drink eight ounces of tart cherry juice twice daily fall asleep sooner and then sleep an average hour-and-half longer than those who don’t.
  • Walnuts…Walnuts another natural source of melatonin….not to mention that they’re just plain good to eat.

 

4.  Protein

Why protein? Protein helps create tryptophan, the sleep-promoting amino acid (see below)…

How protein?

  • Edamame...Edamame is high in fiber, protein, magnesium, potassium, and calcium.
  • Cheese and Cottage Cheese...Cheese is full of casein proteins, which provide sleep-inducing tryptophan. Actually cheddar cheese contains more tryptophan than turkey, gram for gram. Eating cheese thirty minutes before going to bed not only will help you fall asleep faster, but has also been shown to improve your metabolism.

 

5.  Tryptophan

  • Why tryptophan? Tryptophan is a sleep-promoting amino acid that the brain uses to make serotonin and melatonin, hormones that promote relaxation and control sleep and wake cycles.

How tryptophan?

  • Cereal and Milk…Milk already contains tryptophan, but adding the carbohydrates of a good whole-grain, low-sugar cereal makes this tryptophan more easily available to the brain.
  • Greek Yogurt…Not only does Greek yogurt contain tryptophan, but Greek yogurt is also a rich source of protein and calcium, both of which can help regulate melatonin production and help you get your sleeping habits in check.
  • Peanut Butter…Most of us grew up loving peanut butter, and my Dad would always peanut butter before bed every night when I was growing up. Wonder if he knew that his favorite night-time snack was rich in tryptophan…(or if he really cared?).
  • Pumpkin Seeds...Pumpkin seeds are packed with a variety of essential nutrients,including substantial amounts of tryptophan.

 

Three final important tips as far as midnight snacking…

  • Avoid sugary snacks at bedtime because these will cause a quick glucose spike that can interfere with sleep quality.
  • Be sure to keep these midnight or pre-bed snacks light. Keep your selection as a 150 to 200 calories actual snack, instead of another complete meal in itself.
  • Eat no later than thirty minutes before bed so that your body has enough time to digest the food and absorb the nutrients before you go to sleep.