National Oatmeal Day Tomorrow

Oatmeal doesn’t get all the recognition it deserves these days.  With “quinoa” this and “farro” that, oatmeal has sadly been left behind.  Well, it’s time to celebrate oatmeal again (who knew it had its own day??).  Here is a great article that outlines the benefits of adding oatmeal to your diet and includes a few yummy recipes to try as well.

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Eating Low Glycemic Index Foods For Weight Loss

I’ve always believed that choosing  whole foods that also have a low glycemic index will help to ensure good health.  Low GI also means low inflammation, low inflammation means a much lower risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and many more ailments.  Chronic inflammation is the root cause of most disease.

Now it seems there is another reason for eating a low GI diet; long-term weight loss!  I have seen  a few articles about this lately and when Rich sent me this NPR story yesterday (thanks, hon!), it seemed worthy of sharing.  Check it out here:

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2012/09/10/160757730/low-and-slow-may-be-the-way-to-go-when-it-comes-to-dieting

Peace and greens,

Melissa

“You’re A Vegetarian? How do you get enough protein?”

I can’t begin to tell you how often I get that question.  It doesn’t bother me at all, but if I get the first question, it is almost guaranteed that the second one will be the follow-up.  After my husband was asked the same questions this weekend he urged me to blog about it.  (Rich is a new vegetarian, something he wants to try for a full year (he’s four months in!) and then see how he feels.)

So how do vegetarians get protein?  First, I think we should talk about how much protein we need.  According to Dr. T. Colin Campbell and his book, “The China Study”, the optimal amount of protein for us to consume is about 10% of our daily calories.  This is equivalent to about 50-60 grams of protein per day depending on body weight.  The average American consumes about 15% -16%, or 70-100 grams of protein per day.  The latest research suggests the promotion of cancer cells at levels above 10% of animal protein.

There is a great chapter at the beginning of the China Study that discusses the cultural bias that has become entrenched in our minds regarding protein.  It started hundreds of years ago when meat was expensive and plants were cheap.  The wealthy could afford meat, the poor could afford plants and beans.  Of course, as is true to this day, if the wealthy could afford a little meat, than being able to afford a LOT of meat was even better.  Back then they figured you just can’t have too much of a good thing.  Pick up the book and read chapter 2 if you are interested in learning more on this…I could go on and on and I know you would rather I get down to the nitty gritty.

Which has more protein, broccoli or steak?  Crazy question, I know.  Even crazier answer: broccoli!  Steak has 6.4 grams of protein per 100 calories and broccoli has 11.1.   Fix a big bowl of greens, throw on a half cup of chickpeas, some cherry tomatoes, and a handful of walnuts and you have yourself a yummy, colorful, healthfest.  It adds up to about 14 grams of protein broken down like this: 4 c of spinach and romaine, 3 g protein, 1/2 cup chickpeas, 6 g protein, 1 cup cherry tomatoes, 1 g protein, 10 walnuts, 4 grams protein. Even better, it is also loaded with fiber, vitamins, and anti-oxidants. Can’t say that about a slab of meat 🙂

So, in my family, this is how we get our protein.  Beans a few times a week..1 cup of black beans has 14 grams of protein and 15 grams of fiber!  Quinoa is a great addition to any meal and it brings 9 grams of protein per cup. We eat a little tofu, maybe twice a month.  (We recently discovered the savory seasoned tofu at Trader Joes and it was such a hit that we might be having it a bit more often!)   Nearly all veggies, beans, grains, seeds, and nuts have protein so eating a variety of these whole foods daily makes it easy to get adequate protein.

I hope I’ve helped to answer the protein question but please feel free to shout out if there is something I missed.  I have read and learned so much about this subject in the past year. I love to talk about it and help anyone who asks, but I never want to feel like I am pushing vegetables or a vegetarian lifestyle on anyone.  Whatever works for you!

Peace and greens,

Melissa

CROWDING OUT RED MEAT

I’m sure most of you saw the news yesterday regarding red meat. In case you missed it, the more you eat, the shorter your life. This really shouldn’t be jaw-dropping news to anyone, but when it is the first story on NBC and CNN it just reinforces what we have been hearing in whispers for a number of years.

When the Harvard School of Public Health advises eating less than 2 or 3 servings of red meat PER WEEK, it is probably time to make some drastic changes if you and your family are currently eating a lot more than that.  The easiest and healthiest way to lessen your consumption of meat is to replace it with other healthier protein sources that will fill you up and leave you feeling satisfied.  By “crowding out” the bad with the good you will not only prolong your life but also build up protection against all disease.  Try replacing meat with fish, beans, legumes and greens.  Check out our recipe section for some simple vegetarian options.  This “news” has me more determined than ever to help everyone lean into a more plant-based diet!  I promise to continue searching for more delicious and easy meat-free recipes for you to fix your family!

http://www.cnn.com/2012/03/12/health/red-meat-shorten-lifespan/index.html?hpt=hp_c2

Peace and greens  -M

 

Winter Greens Salad

Wilted Winter Greens

Recipe by Frank Giglio. Photo by Jenny Nelson

Thanks to Dr. Junger’s team of Clean chefs for creating this amazing looking salad.  I confess, I have not tried it yet myself but I am having it tomorrow!  If you don’t have coconut oil, olive oil will do just fine.

Peace and greens, Melissa

 

Wilted Winter Greens

Who said salads can only be cooling and raw summer dishes? In fact – raw greens can be difficult to digest and when it’s cold, our bodies actually need more lightly cooked and warming foods for optimal digestion. Try this warm, comforting salad made with dark leafy greens (we just can’t get enough of those,) crunchy pecans and crisp pears!
Recipe
Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons coconut oil
  • ½ ripe pear, roughly diced
  • ¼ cup pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 4-5 cups of chopped dark greens (dandelion, arugula, radicchio, endive, mustard greens, kale, swiss chard)
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ⅛ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard
  • pinch sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper

Directions for dressing:

  1. Mix the olive oil, mustard, and cider vinegar into a bowl. Whisk to incorporate.
  2. Add a few turns of the pepper grinder (to taste) and a sprinkle of sea salt.
  3. Set aside.
Directions for salad:

  1. Heat a large saute pan over medium high heat. Melt in the coconut oil, then once hot, add the pears. Cook for a few minutes to slightly soften and brown them.
  2. Toss in the pecans just to warm them up, then add in the bitter greens.
  3. Toss gently with tongs until gently wilted, then toss with a few tablespoons of the vinaigrette. Serve immediately.

Add any of these for more protein or to make a heartier meal: Leftover chicken, Wild salmon (or any leftover fish),Cooked beans (white or garbanzo work best here,) Red, green or brown lentils.

 

 

Oat Bran & Chia Seed Muffins

As promised, a muffin recipe that contains both oat bran and chia seeds that even the kids will eat!  Packed with protein, tummy- filling fiber, and heart-healthy Omega 3s, these make a great breakfast on the go, mid-morning snack, or lunchbox treat.  I used raisins but next time I am going to add the dark chocolate chips as well.  The boys liked these,  Mae did not.  I’m thinking the chocolate might help reel her in:)

What you need:

1/2 c dark brown sugar

1  1/2 c oat bran

1  1/2 c whole wheat flour ( I like white whole wheat or whole wheat pastry flour)

2 t baking powder

2 t baking soda

1/2 t salt

2 eggs

3 T soaked chia seeds

1 T canola oil

1/4 c apple sauce

1/4 c greek yogurt

2 t cinnamon

2 t vanilla

1/2 c raisins, dark chocolate chips, or walnut pieces

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Start by soaking 3 T chia seeds in 1 cup of water, let them soak while you mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl and place 12 muffin papers in a muffin pan.   In another large bowl, whisk the eggs and then add the rest of the wet ingredients.  Now add the chia seeds and dry ingredients.  Stir until well mixed.  At this point you can add chopped walnuts or dark chocolate chips (or, go crazy, add both!)  Use a large spoon to fill muffin tins to about 3/4 full and bake 12-15 minutes.  Muffins are ready when a toothpick comes out clean!

Enjoy!  -Melissa

Happy Ticker, Part Three

So we’ve talked about stress reduction and cholesterol. Now let’s talk nutrition: truly the key to heart health. To lower your cholesterol, you need to crowd out your animal product intake by eating bountiful bundles of fruits and vegetables.  LDL cholesterol, the lousy one, is raised by animal protein.  The cultures with the least incidence of heart disease are the cultures with the least intake of animal protein.  Animal protein is found in all meats, eggs, and dairy products, regardless of their fat content.  Consequently, switching to low-fat yogurt and skim milk does not mean that you are not eating animal protein. If you are serious about lowering your cholesterol and your risk of heart disease , try to replace animal protein with plant protein at as many meals as possible.  PLANT PROTEIN IS FOUND IN ALL VEGETABLES, NUTS and SEEDS!

There are lots of easy ways to get plant protein but there are a few superfoods that everyone should be eating but few people know about.  Here are two of them that are easily incorporated into everyday meals: chia seeds (yes, just like the pets from the 70s!), and oat bran.  You can buy both in bulk at Whole Foods or online at www.amazon.com.

Chia seeds are the richest plant source of omega 3s, a great source of protein, loaded with antioxidants and fiber, and help make you feel full faster.  Here’s how to eat them…

Soak 2 T of chia seeds in 1/4 c of water for about 10 minutes. They will get gel-like…kinda funky, kids will get a kick out of this!  Add to your favorite smoothie, batter for muffins or breads, or pour into 8-10 oz of water with lemon juice and a t of agave syrup… enjoy a chia fresca like they do in Mexico.  If you want to know even more about this amazing little seed, check out this site..http://chiaseeds.net/chia-seeds-health-benefits/  I owe them a thank you for the great chia picture I’m using today!

As for oat bran, it literally binds to the lousy cholesterol hanging out in your arteries and sucks it out of your body. Pretty cool image, right?  Oat bran can be added to smoothies, sprinkled on yogurt, or crushed into oat flour.

High in fiber, it is important to gradually add both oat bran and chia seeds to your diet. Too much, too fast, can lead to constipation.  Start with a tablespoon or two a day for a week and then go up from there.

I’m practicing with some oat bran muffins, kid approved, so I’ll post a yummy recipe once I get it delicious…first batch…not so good!

xo -m