Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Baking with Applesauce

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Being the wife of a type 2 diabetic makes you reconsider the old ways that you have learned to cook, not only in WHAT you cook, but also in HOW you cook.

You become more aware of the amount of saturated fats, sugar, and calories contained in your baked goods.

For example, check out these facts about the nutritional value of Paula Deen’s Sour Cream Pound Cake found in my last post. I’ve been making this cake for about thirty-five years my self and eating it for about fifty, but never stopped to really think about the ingredients until here lately.

But still, being from the Deep South, I absolutely love to bake and would gladly put my sour cream pound cake in competition with anyone else’s at any upcoming state fair this fall.

But how do I still manage to make moist, delicious baked goods that will rival any competitors while also keeping my type 2 diabetic husband’s blood sugar and cholesterol levels in line?

One way is by replacing some of the fat called for in cookie and cake recipes with applesauce.

So this holiday baking season, I plan on making at least some of my traditional recipes using applesauce so that at least some of my offerings will contain less sugar and perhaps even healthy(?!)…since apples have been shown to have great health benefits.—such as helping to prevent cancer, reducing your risk of cardiovascular difficulties, acting as an antioxidant, and diminishing the effects of bad cholesterol.

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Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Arugula—The Why?

Okay, so now that we know what “arugula” is, and the fact that it was once considered an “aphrodisiac,”…why should the over-fifty crowd be adding more aphrodisiacal argula to our diets?

Given the fact that all “Leafy Greens” are a good source of vitamins, folate, calcium, magnesium, carotenoids, minerals—such as potassium, manganese, iron, and calcium—, antioxidants, and phytochemicals…all the A’s, B’s, and C’s of general nutrition that so many of us are not even aware that we need and why we need them…why choose arugula?

Arugula and the “Food Label“…Let’s first look at the nutritional value of 1/2C arugula…

  • Calories…25
  • Calories from Fat…6
  • Total Fat…1 g…1%
  • Cholesterol…0 mg…0%
  • Sodium…27 mg…1%
  • Total Carbohydrates…4 g…1%
  • Dietary Fiber…1.6 g…6%
  • Sugar…2.1 g
  • Protein…2.6 g
  • Vitamin A…47%
  • Vitamin C…25%
  • Calcium…16%
  • Iron…8%

Agugula and the ANDI…0One of the terms that I have learned at this phase of my journey is “nutritarian.”

A “nutritarian” is a person who chooses what he or she eats based on what foods have the highest ratio of micronutrients per calorie….a person who adopts a longevity-promoting, nutrient dense, plant-rich eating style.

This term was coined by Dr. Fuhrman. Furhman is a board-certified family physician, six-time New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized expert on nutrition and natural healing, Fuhrman specializes in preventing and reversing disease through nutritional methods.

Fuhrman created a scale known as the Aggregate Nutrient Density Index that shows the nutritional density of many common foods based on 34 important nutrients, including…

  • fiber
  • calcium
  • iron
  • magnesium
  • phosphorus
  • potassium
  • zinc
  • copper
  • manganese
  • selenium
  • vitamin A
  • beta carotene
  • alpha carotene
  • lycopene
  • lutein
  • zeaxanthin
  • vitamin E
  • vitamin C
  • thiamin
  • riboflavin
  • niacin
  • pantothenic acid
  • vitamin B6
  • folate
  • vitamin B12
  • choline
  • vitamin K
  • phytosterols
  • glucosinolates
  • angiogenesis inhibitors
  • organosulfides
  • aromatase inhibitors
  • resistant starch
  • resveratrol
  • ORAC  (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity), a measurement of the antioxidant capacity of that particular food.

Nutritarians can use the ANDI Scores to compare foods and see which foods are the most health-promoting and nutrient dense.

The foods included in this index are given a score of 1-1000, with 1 being the lowest and 1000 being the highest.

Leafy green vegetables in general score the highest on this index.

Arugula has an ANDI score of 604.

Arugula and Potassium…Two cups of arugula contain about 150mg of potassium, roughly 3% percent of the 4,700 mg of the potassium recommended for healthy adults. Although arugula isn’t a top source of potassium, it does boost your intake of the nutrient.

Arugula and Calcium…Two cups of arugula contain 6%DV of calcium.

Arugula and Flavonoids...The “flavonoids” in arugula have been shown to have anti-cancer — as well as anti-inflammatory and anti-diabetic properties.

Arugula and Folate…Two cups of arugula contain 10%DV of folate, the natural form of folic acid. Folate is important during pregnancy because it helps prevent birth defects and also important for lowering your risk of heart disease.

Arugula and Vitamin K…Not getting enough vitamin K in your diet increases your risk of fracturing a bone because vitamin K keeps your bones healthy by improving calcium absorption and reducing urinary excretion of calcium.

Arugula and Antioxidants…Arugula contain certain antioxidants, more specifically alpha-lipoic acid. This acid has been shown to lower glucose levels, increase insulin sensitivity, and prevent oxidative stress-induced changes in patients with diabetes.

Arugula and Calcium…Arugula is a surprisingly good source of calcium—it has more of this bone-builder than the other greens on this list.

Arugula and Nitrates…The nitrates found in arugula are believed to enhance exercise tolerance during long-term endurance exercise. These nitrates also can be beneficial to people with cardiovascular, respiratory, or metabolic diseases who find the activities of daily life are physically difficult because of lack of oxygen.

Arugula and Vitamin A...Two cups of arugula contains 19%DVof vitamin A. This is important for helping you have good vision, particularly at night or in low light environments.

Arugula and Magnesium…Two cups of arugula contain 5%DV of magnesium.

Arugula and Copper….The copper found in arugula increases your immunity to disease because it createa white blood cells.

Arugula and Vitamin C….Vitamin C is one of the best defenses for your body to seek out dangerous, inflammatory free radicals and eliminate them from your body before they can cause real damage, helps prevent cancer, and maintain good health.

Arugula and Phytochemicals…Arugula contains large quantities of phytochemicalssuch as thiocyanates, sulforaphane, or indoles —that inhibit the activity of cancer-causing cells and lowers your risk of getting certain types of cancer—such as prostate, breast, cervical, colon, and ovarian cancers.

Arugula and Folates…Arugula is rich in folic acid, a fact that is important to pregnant women who want to decrease the risk of their babies being born with certain mental defects.

Arugula and Vitamin B…Aarugula contains all eight of the B-Complex vitamins. These viramins are important participantes in cell function—including energy production, fat synthesis, and the production of red blood cells.

Arugula and Carotenoids...,Arugula is a well-known source of carotenoids, naturally occurring pigments that improve your ability to see properly and slows down the process of macular degeneration.

 

 

Health Benefits…Finally let’s read through a list of the health benefits of earing arugula. Adding arugula to your diet is an important step in…

  • keeping the mind clear and focused
  • preventing cancer
  • controlling blood pressure
  • reducing the amount of oxygen needed during exercise
  • enhancing athletic performance
  • helping reduce blood pressure
  • improving blood flow to your muscles so that they can work more efficiently, especially when exercising
  • helping you achieve or maintain a healthy body weight
  • keeping your eyes healthy
  • helping prevent age-related macular degeneration, the leading cause of blindness among older adults
  • normalizing and controlling blood pressure levels
  • lowering your risk of having a heart attack or stroke
  • helping reduce the risk of colorectal and lung cancers
  • slowing the progression of cancer.
  • decreasomg the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and overall mortality while promoting a healthy complexion, increased energy, and overall lower weight.
  • improving your immune system
  • decreasing your odds of getting simple illnesses such as the common cold
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.
Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Just Exactly HOW Much Water Should We All Be Drinking Each Day

There is no hard and set rule as to how much water each of us should be drinking each day, but the fact is that only 22% of American men and women are drinking the eight or more cups needed each day to enjoy the complete benefits of water listed in my last post….even though water is calorie-free, caffeine-free, alcohol-free, cheap, readily available, and even helps you lose weight—reason enough alone to start drinking two liters per day if you ask me.

A recent study shows that 7% of adults do not drink water at all…36% drink up to three cups of water each day…35% drink from four to seven cups of water each day.

Some studies suggest drinking eight 8oz glasses per day. Other studies suggest dividing your weight in half and drinking that many ounces.

Another recommendation is that men should drink about three liters of water each day, and women should drink two liters…(which I actually do drink each day and have been drinking for years….you’d be surprised how much better I feel when I manage to get my two liters in, even though it seems like I am constantly having to find a bathroom whenever we go anywhere).

How much water you as an individual need each day depends on many factors—such as your health, activity level, climate,

Everyone needs to drink more water than usual whenever they are running a fever, have diarrhea, trying to survive the summer heat, (which here in Texas right now is up to 110 degrees), are working out or doing “hard” physical activity, or are vomiting.

By the way, a general rule of thumb is that you are probably not drinking enough water if your pee isn’t clear.

Getting Healthy, Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Acacia Honey—The What?! Why?! Which?! and How?!—July 2018 Honey of the Month

Acacia honey is one of the most popular honey varieties. It is widely considered one of the best kinds of honey in the world, provided it is authentic….and is.highly sought after around the world.

Acacia honey is made from the nectar of Robinia pseudoacacia, what we here in America know as the black locust tree, or “false” Acacia…

This tree is not only native to North America, but is also found in Europe—from Northern Italy to the Ukraine, especially in Hungary—where the tree is known as the acacia, even though the honey does not actually come from true acacias.

As far as color, acacia honey is a very pale, light golden colored—much like liquid glass. Acacia honey is often jarred with the actual honeycomb visible in the jar beause the honey does have such clarity and a pale color.

As far as taste. acacia honey is one of the lightest tasting honeys in the world, having a clean, light and mildly sweet, floral taste with delicate vanilla tones and no aftertaste..

Why?!

Adding acacia honey to your diet can provide many health benefits, including…

  1. Dealing with diabetes…Acacia honey has a very low sucrose content and a high fructose level, making it the best choice for diabetics. In addition to being a good choice for diabetics, acacia honey is known for its therapeutic qualities, including…
  2. Helping boost the health of your skin…The rich supply of minerals found in every type of honey, including iron, zinc, potassium, calcium, and copper, as well as vitamin C and other antioxidants, can help reduce the appearance of wrinkles, soothe inflammation, and decrease the appearance of scars, blemishes, and burns when topically applied
  3. Helping you lose weight more quickly...Honey mixed with water or milk can help satisfy your sweet tooth and make you feel full. This will possibly keep you from munching out while vegging out in front of the TV and stimulate your metabolism.
  4. Lowering your blood sugar…Although most people worry about their blood sugar being too high, acacia honey can help lower the blood sugar. Also, hypoglycemia is a dangerous condition, and eating acacia honey can deliver a concentrated burst of carbohydrates to your system that will balance your blood sugar levels
  5. Helping you deal with allergies…Acacia honey, like almost all other honeys, is great for helping you deal with allergies and other respiratory problems because of the antibacterial properties, rich nutrients, and antioxidants that it contains.
  6. Preventing chronic diseases…Acacia honey contains antioxidants that are able to seek out free radicals throughout the body and reduce the negative impacts of oxidative stress…in turn, lowering cellular mutation and reducing your risk of chronic diseases—such as cancer, arthritis and heart disease.
  7. Supporting your immune system…Acacia honey naturally contains hydrogen peroxide, a powerful antibacterial agent that can help prevent infections throughout the body and relieve strain on your immune system.

Which?!

When buying acacia honey, or any other honey, make sure that you are buying a honey that is pure, organic, authentic, raw, unprocessed, unheated and unadulterated from a responsible source with a reputation for producing “clean” honey that hasn’t been processed, heated or pasteurized in any way.

There are many processed products claiming to be acacia honey. Avoid these. After all, our goal in this “What Now?!” segment of Muffins and Magnolias blog has been to start eliminating processed foods from our diets and replace these foods with healthier alternatives.

Obviously, the best place to buy your acacia honey is directly from a beekeeper, who sources the honey directly from the beehive.

But you can also find sources of acacia honey from sites such as Organic Acacia Honey.comOlive Nation, and Savannah Bee.

How?!

Acacia honey is an excellent choice for cooking because of its mild flavor and the fact that it mixes easily in liquids and batters. Other ideas for using acacia in your kitchen include…

1. Berries…Acacia honey is a fantastic topping and the perfect complement to the natural taste of any berry—such as blueberries, blackberries and strawberries…

2. Beverages…Acacia honey is a good choice for mixing with beverages—such as tea—because it sweetens your beverage, without actually changing the taste of the drink

3. Bread…Acacia honey and creamy butter makes an excellent topping for toast.

4. Cheese…Acacia honey is great when served with hard cheeses such as Grana Padano, an Italian cheese made from unpasteurised, semi-skimmed cow’s milk that has been aged for about two years.

The word “grana” means “grainy” in Italian.

This cheese is a “grana” cheese—a fragrant, dry, crumbling cheese with a firm, thick and deeply straw-coloured rind and intensely sweet flavor…very similar to Parmigiano Reggiano, but much less expensive because more areas actually produce this type of cheese. Grana Padano is also less crumbly, milder and less complex than Parmigiano Reggiano.

5. Wine…The best wines to pair with acacia honey are

  • Barolo…such as this Aldo Conterno Barolo Bussia 2013 Nebbiolo
  • Zinfandel…such as this Rombauer California Zinfandel 2016
  • Gavi…such as this Principessa Gavia Gavin 2016

6. Yogurt…Finally, acacia honey is great paired with Greek yogurt…in recipes such as the following Kiwi Smoothie.

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…

Getting Healthy

Facing the Facts and Fiction on Fats

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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

Book Review…The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan: Simple Rules for Losing Weight While You Sleep

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

This book is a guide about the connection between inadequate sleep and weight gain written particularly for women faced with the fatigue, moodiness, and weight gain that we often experience because of chronic stress or hormonal changes to show how a good night’s sleep will actually enable you to lose weight, especially if you have been chronically sleep deprived.

 

This book sparked my interest because who wouldn’t love it if all we had to do in order to lose weight was sleep…If this were truly the case, then we would all be skinny, because all of us sleep, right?!

 

The title,  The Sleep Doctor’s Diet Plan: Simple Rules for Losing Weight While You Sleep, is appropriate for the book because the book gives you the tools to overcome the stress, poor habits, and environmental challenges that are causing you not to get adequate rest. The author of the book is Michael Breus, Ph.D, a clinical psychologist and board-certified sleep expert.

The book shows how simple health and lifestyle changes can help increase your energy level, eliminate many health concerns, and help you lose weight loss without having to eat “rabbit food” every meal of spending a crazy amount of time spent exercising.

 

I enjoyed reading this book because I learned many things about how sleep affects your body—like how sleep boosts your metabolism, ignites fat burn, and decreases your appetite. I also liked the fact that the book provides information, advice, and practical strategies designed to help you get the sleep you need.

These tools include a realistic action plan designed to help you get both your best sleep and your best body possible, involving a slumber-friendly evening routine, stress management techniques, recipes for healthy meals and snacks all designed to help you fall asleep more easily.

Some of the key factors in losing weight while you sleep, according to this book are…

  • eating small meals that are high in protein and fiber every three to four hours
  • eliminating calorie-laden sodas and juices from your diet
  • substituting an olive oil cooking spray for butter or margarine
  • sticking to a specific sleep schedule
  • eliminating all caffeine after 2pm.
  • not drinking alcohol for three hours before going to bed
  • not exercising for four hours before going to bed
  • doing thirty minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise early in the day, most days of the week