Sunday, August 31, 2008
Saturday, August 30, 2008
Q: I've noticed that some cake companies say that their cakes are "baked with love" but your site says nothing about baking with love. What up with that?
A: Admittedly I haven't a freaking clue what "baking with love" even means... it actually kinda freaks me out. I can however assure you that we abide by the rules set forth in the Maricopa County Food Code, and I can say with supreme confidence that the code is firmly against serving food that has been the recipient of any "act of love". Hopefully that answers your question.
Monday, August 25, 2008
The traditional nutritional recommendations for those with bad cholesterol readings, too much LDL or too little HDL, have been to reduce cholesterol, saturated fat and trans fats in the diet. However, recent studies have found that cholesterol levels in the blood are not strongly affected by dietary cholesterol. Rather, cholesterol in the blood is primarily created in the liver. Eating saturated fat - found in meat, seafood, whole milk dairy products, and coconut, palm kernel and palm oil - and trans fats - hydrogenated vegetable oils - contributes to excess LDL, but eating foods high in cholesterol alone does not. Trans fats are particularly bad because they raise LDL, lower HDL, and increase inflammation. Eating monounsaturated fats - found in canola, peanut and olive oil, nuts and seeds - and polyunsaturated fats - found in sunflower, corn, soybean and flaxseed oil, walnuts, flax seeds and fish - is recommended because they lower LDL and raise HDL.
Some well known diet recommendations have adjusted somewhat based on recent findings. For example, the American Heart Association allowed up to one egg per day as of 2000, but still advises limiting cholesterol intake to 300 milligrams per day. Some nutritionists are now recommending, more dramatically, that cholesterol not be limited, just saturated fat and trans fat. So, foods with high quality protein that have high cholesterol and low saturated fat, for example, eggs and shrimp, would not be restricted based on cholesterol for most people. Unless you have a medical condition that requires it, such as diabetes, limiting cholesterol in the diet may not be needed.
American Heart Association
Fats and Cholesterol: Out with the Bad, In with the Good
Dietary cholesterol provided by eggs and plasma lipoproteins in healthy populations
High Cholesterol Levels Drop Naturally In Children On High-fat Anti-seizure Diet, Study Show
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Last night in my fortune cookie at PF Chang's, I got the fortune, "A visit to a strange place will bring you renewed perspective." Next weekend we're going to Snowflake, AZ, for business and then to Canyon de Chelly National Monument for fun. I've been to Chinle several times for work, but I never made it to the canyon while I was there. I'm sure it'll be a beautiful view and a great new perspective.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
Although having to drink 8 glasses of water per day is a myth and you can drink too much water, water is a very important part of our bodies. Water is one of the strongest common solvents on earth. It lubricates and provides transportation throughout the body. Eighty percent of the body is water and water weighs 8 pounds per gallon. I always laugh when people say "It's only water weight" because if you want to lose weight most of the weight you eliminate from your body will come from water loss. You lose water primarily by sweating and peeing. What's important is that you lose water in proportion. Sweat and pee can have high concentrations of other substances, especially electrolytes and toxins, so you may need to drink more water and/or eat small amounts of salt to restore balance. Thirst is a signal from the body that the blood is becoming more concentrated. If you are thirsty, drink fluids that are primarily water, preferably not from a plastic bottle because it is not ecologically friendly and it is more expensive than necessary. Liquids that are primarily water, such as soda, coffee and tea, provide plenty of water, too. However, watch out for artificial sweeteners because, although they have no calories, they make you more hungry. You may lose a significant amount of weight just by cutting out diet soda if you currently drink a lot of it because you will be able to cut back on the volume of food that you eat.
Proteins provide structure to cells and enhance chemical reactions as enzymes. Most people get most of their protein from eating animal products, meat, which is the muscle of other animals, and milk. The disadvantage of animal protein is that it tends to come with a lot of fat. Also, some meats, such as shellfish, are high in cholesterol, even if they are low in fat. Lean meats include, fish, chicken breast and other meats with no visible marbling. You can also get protein in significant quantities from vegetables, but they tend to be incomplete, not representing all of the basic proteins, and should be eaten in specific combinations, i.e., bread, cereal or grains with other vegetables, if you are not eating animal proteins. Legumes - peas, beans and lentils - are high in protein. Protein in a meal enhances fullness. I love vegetables, but for most, I feel hungry again half an hour after eating them if I don't have a high protein food with them. So, I generally try to choose a lean meat, textured vegetable protein (TVP) or legume to eat with vegetables. If you eat more protein than you body needs, the excess will be converted to fat, even if it is a lean protein.
Carbohydrates include sugar, complex carbohydrates and dietary fiber. Carbohydrates are often white in their natural and refined states or brown when they are higher in fiber. Sugar provides quick energy and a limited amount is stored in muscles. Sugar is quickly converted to glucose in the bloodstream. When you eat refined sugar, you'll generally feel a "sugar rush" as the sugar is converted, then a crash as it is quickly stored. Complex carbohydrates, for example, pasta, potatoes, and rice, are broken down more slowly than sugar, but ultimately have similar effects. Excess sugar and complex carbohydrates are easily converted to fat in the body.
Dietary fiber is indigestible plant matter and therefore does not contribute to caloric intake. Insoluble fiber absorbs water and softens stools. Insoluble fiber typically comes from whole grains, bran, nuts, seeds, and the skins of fruits and vegetable. Soluble fiber is fermented in the intestines, producing gas (farts) and short chain fatty acids, which are absorbed and help regulate blood glucose, suppress cholesterol, and stimulate the immune system, among other things. Soluble fiber comes from the interior of root vegetables (for example, potatoes, onions and carrots), legumes, oats, rye, chia, barley, psyllium husk and specific vegetables, such as broccoli and Jerusalem artichokes (which is a tubar, neither from Jerusalem nor an artichoke). Fiber enhances fullness without adding calories, making it helpful in controlling portion sizes on a diet, but some people are sensitive to some types of fiber, leading to gastrointestinal distress. Try increasing fiber intake slowly and incorporating various types of fiber one at a time for best results.
Fats are essential to health. Several vitamins are fat soluble, meaning that they can only be digested when eaten with fat, and fats are used to protect the body from fat soluble toxins. Fat is vital to skin, hair and temperature regulation. Fats are high calorie sources because they are also used for long term energy storage. Animal fats include lard, fish oil, marbling and milk fat. Plant fats typically are oils. Oils, lipids and fats are all fats, but oils are liquid at room temperature. Reducing fats is helpful in losing weight because they are twice as calorie dense as proteins and carbohydrates, but they should never be eliminated from the diet because, although most fats can be produced by the body as needed, there are fats that cannot be produced by the body.
Vitamins are organic compounds that cannot be synthesized insufficient quantities by the body to maintain good health. Vitamin deficiency can lead to disease, such as Vitamin C and scurvy. Vitamins have many functions in the body, including hormones, antioxidants, mediators of cell signaling and cell growth and enzyme catalysts. Maintaining a varied diet helps ensure that enough vitamins are being ingested with or without supplementation. Vitamins may need to be ingested in specific combinations with other vitamins or substances to be useful.
Dietary minerals are chemical elements required by living organisms for biochemical reactions. Seventeen minerals are required to support human biological processes and cell structure. Calcium supports a wide variety of bodily functions, including bone, muscle and digestive health. A daily intake of 2 to 3 servings of low fat dairy are recommended to provide calcium for health and weight loss. Iron is required for blood. Zinc is found throughout the body and particularly recommended for strengthening immune system function. Potassium and Sodium are electrolytes and coregulate ATP. Each dietary mineral regulates specific chemical processes that are essential to human health.
Monday, August 18, 2008
I choose local, in season produce over others when possible to maximize nutrition and minimize environmental damage. Location of produce origin in order of preference for Arizona: farmers market, western US, eastern US, Mexico, Central/South America, Europe, Asia/Pacific. I try to minimize carbohydrates, which are typically white or sweet, and not to eat starchy produce with other starches, i.e., bread, pasta or rice, in the same meal.
The foods below are in the order I would recommend eating them, but its important to eat a variety, including colors, to maximize nutrition. The closer to the top, the more I allow myself to eat them in greater quantities, while the items towards the bottom of the list I use sparingly as a flavoring or treat. Of course, there are many more foods than the ones mentioned here.
- Green beans
- Green/red/yellow peppers
- Green onions/scallions
- Romaine lettuce
- Bok Choy
- Other lettuce- iceburg, butter, loose leaf
- Dried Beans
Fruits are mostly carbohydrates and fiber and tend to have a sugar content when ripe. To help control insulin and glucose, minimize fruits to 1-2 servings per day. Eat fruits whole or chopped rather than drinking them to maximize fiber and minimize sugar impact.
Choose lean, local protein over other sources. Trim as much visible fat as possible. Best to worst for a low fat diet:
- Fish fillets
- Fowl white meat
- Shellfish (high in cholesterol)
- Canned fish, packed in water
- Lean pork
- Lean beef
- Fowl dark meat
- Marbled beef or pork
- Lean deli cuts (e.g., turkey, ham)
- Canned fish, packed in oil
- Marbled deli cuts (e.g., bologna, salami)
Although fats are an essential part of any diet, saturated, e.g., animal fat, butter, cheese, and trans fats, i.e., margarine, are worse for you than others, i.e., olive or other vegetable oils. Two to three low fat servings of dairy daily and other natural sources of calcium are recommended for weight loss.
The less processed the better. Packaged foods are convenient, but almost always have more calories and less nutrition than cooking for yourself. Read all labels and inform yourself on common additives.
- Fresh - whole/chopped
- Pressure cooking
- Dehydrated (concentrates nutrients, watch out for extra calories and preservatives if you're not doing the dehydrating)
- Deep Fried
There's nothing that I won't allow myself to eat, but controlling caloric intake is essential to losing weight. I used to need a large volume of food to satisfy my hunger, but I find that the less I eat at a time, the less hungry I am. Eating sweets is initially satisfying, but I often get a sugar crash that makes me tired and hungry. Protein and fiber keep me feeling fuller longer, helping me to eat sensibly throughout the day. Cutting back on certain foods, for example, sugar and caffeine, may make you initially feel worse and/or generate cravings. If you have cravings, you may want to slowly reduce how much of a particular food you are eating, rather than going cold turkey, for example, drink one less cup of coffee or soda per day over a week or two. Also, if you are completely changing how you eat, you may choose one thing or one meal to change each day.
Take the time to measure, weigh and count what you're eating until you're very familiar with it. Keep a food diary or tracker of everything you eat for at least a week to better understand your diet. You may also want to note how you feel after eating particular foods if you think you have sensitivities.
I regularly read these web sites for nutrition and fitness information:
Mark's Daily Apple
This weekend while touring New York wine country with my mom, I finally had a chance to visit Women's Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls. Located next to what remains of the Wesleyan Church, where the Women's Rights Convention of 1848 was held, is an exhibit hall and a water wall of the Declaration of Sentiments and its known signers. Since I completed a concentration in Women's Studies for my A.A., the history of American women's rights struggles and current women's rights issues were already familiar to me. Visiting the site 150 years after the first convention was more of pilgrimage than a learning experience. I purchased several copies of the Declaration of Sentiments, one of which I posted in my cube at work and two of which I gave to friends. It reminds me both of how far we've come and how far we still have to go.
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Saturday, August 09, 2008
Friday, August 08, 2008
Wednesday, August 06, 2008
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
8 ripe pluots
1 Tbsp Agar Agar (or other powder gelatin)
2 cups water
1 cup Gewurztraminer wine
8 packets saccharin (or other artificial sweetener)
Stir Agar Agar into water and set aside for about 15 minutes. Cut each pluot in half and peel, discarding the skin. Blend pluots into 4 cups liquid. Add wine, sweetener and gelatin water, then blend well. Chill mixture to 40 degrees Farenheit. Freeze in ice cream maker according to manufacturer's instructions. Makes about 6 cups.
Sunday, August 03, 2008
Red White & Brew
4850 S Gilbert Road
Chandler, AZ 85249
Red White & Brew is a local restaurant that I want to love. The selection of menu items is expansive, sophisticated daily specials are offered, the bar is extensive and, although it's a bit pricey, the size of the portions is humongous, so I can easily get three meals out of one entree order. Unfortunately, most of the dishes have way too much fat and/or salt. I expect that in their delicious, authentically New York style pizza, but not in nearly everything else. For example, tonight I ordered the pork tenderloin special with Gorgonzola sauce, garlic mashed potatoes and fresh vegetables. I order the sauce on the side and expected to largely ignore the potatoes, although tasty, to reduce the carbohydrates and focus on the pork and vegetables. The pork was perfectly prepared, moist and well seasoned. The Gorgonzola sauce was cheesy and I was able to control how much I had by ordering it on the side. However, the fresh vegetables were neither fresh nor vegetables, plural. They were deep fried carrot strips with seasoning. I expected a variety of steamed or lightly sauteed green vegetables. The choice of a single starchy vegetable, fried to make it as unhealthy as possible, to accompany a huge mound of potatoes was very poor in nutrition and calories. If I'm going to have that much starch and fat in a meal, I'd rather indulge in a piece of pizza. I ended up bypassing the potatoes and carrots, having about 3 ounces of the pork with a teaspoon of the Gorgonzola sauce, a slice of the cheese pizza my husband ordered, iced tea and a couple of swigs of my husband's Oak Creek beer. On the bright side, there is a decent selections of salads, but I'd like to be able to order a healthy appetizer and entree at Red White & Brew. There are many dishes I'd recommend if you're not watching your calories closely or you are planning to splurge, like the coconut crusted shrimp or the lobster ravioli, but we don't go to Red White & Brew as often as my family would like because it's difficult for me to find a healthy, satisfying selection.
Friday, August 01, 2008
1 medium ripe pineapple
1 Tbsp Agar powder
1 cup water
2 cups nonfat milk
5 packets of saccharin or other artificial sweetener
Put the agar in the cup of water for about 10 minutes until it disolves. Remove the rind of the pineappple, chop it into small pieces, then puree it about one cup at a time. Add the agar solution, milk and artificial sweetener (if desired) to the pineapple puree and blend well. Place the mixture in the refrigerator and cool it to 40 degrees Farenheit. Add the mixture to your ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturers instructions. My ice cream maker reached the consistency I was looking for in about 20 minutes. This recipe makes about 5 cups, 10 1/2 cup servings.