Monday, October 31, 2011

How Healthy Are You?

Grade your health! Answer the 20 questions below, giving yourself 1 point for every time you mark #1, 2 points for every #2, 3 points for each #3, and so forth. Find your rating at the end of the test.

A. What does my blood panel (cholesterol, triglycerides, HDL's and LDL's) indicate?
  1. I don't know and I don't care.
  2. I don't know but I would like to find out.
  3. My last reading was above normal.
  4. My last reading was normal.
  5. My last reading was lower than normal.
B. What is my Body Mass Index and/or percent body fat?
  1. I don't know and I don't care.
  2. I don't know but I would like to find out.
  3. It puts me in the category of obese.
  4. It ranks me as average to overweight.
  5. It ranks me as athletic to average.
C.  Addictive substances, including nicotine, caffeine and alcohol are part of my lifestyle.
  1. Yes, I  have some every day.
  2. Yes, at least several times a week.
  3. Yes, but only "socially" when others invite me to.
  4. Not currently, but I have in the past.
  5. Never.
D. I get the recommended cancer screenings appropriate for my age (mammogram, PAP smear, colonoscopy, PSA testing, etc.).
  1. No, and I don't expect to.
  2. No, but I will when I need to.
  3. I have had some tests in the past but I'm overdue for a follow-up.
  4. I am scheduled for some tests in the next 3 months.
  5. I am current on recommended screenings.
E.  I am high-risk for the top five Diseases of Affluence: heart disease, cancer, diabetes, obesity, and auto-immune diseases.
  1. I have been diagnosed with more than one of these diseases.
  2. I have been diagnosed with only one of these five chronic diseases.
  3. I have not been diagnosed, but I am a high-risk for at least one of these diseases.
  4. I have not been diagnosed and am a moderate risk.
  5. I am not a high risk for any of these.
F. I get an adequate amount of sleep each night.
  1. No, I typically get fewer than 6 hours of rest per night.
  2. No, I get between 6 and 7 hours each night.
  3. I get 7 to 8 hours at least 4 times a week.
  4. I get 7 to 8 hours of sleep almost every night.
  5. I consistently get 8 hours of sleep a night.
 G. I exercise 5 times a week.
  1. I don't get any exercise.
  2. I don't exercise more than once a week.
  3. I exercise 2-4 times per week.
  4. I exercise 5 times a week for 30 minutes or less per session.
  5. I exercise 5 times a week for more than 30 minutes per session.
H. I get 15 minutes of sunshine and fresh air each day if possible.
  1. No, I don't like to be outside at all.
  2. No, I don't get out more than once a week.
  3. No, but I am outside 2-4 times in a week.
  4. Yes, I get 15 minutes of sunshine and fresh air 5 days of the week.
  5. Yes, I get more than 15 minutes of sunshine and fresh air more than 5 days per week.
I. My fat intake is:
  1. unknown; I don't monitor it.
  2. mostly animal fats or saturated fats.
  3. from both animal and plant sources but is mostly unsaturated.
  4. only from plant sources but still contains extracted oils, like olive and coconut.
  5. only from whole plant foods, such as seeds, nuts, olives and avocados.
J. The amount of water I drink each day is:
  1. none; I prefer other drinks besides water.
  2. 1 or 2 glasses.
  3. 3 or 4 glasses.
  4. 5 or 6 glasses.
  5. More than 6 glasses.
K.  Sweets in my diet include:
  1. Desserts each evening and pop every day.
  2. Desserts, pop or foods with sugar, Nutra-sweet or high fructose corn syrup 3-4 times per week.
  3. Foods sweetened with sugar, Nutra-sweet or high fructose corn syrup twice a week
  4. Foods only sweetened with honey, agave, molasses, maple syrup or other natural sweeteners.
  5. No extracted sweeteners; I use fruits (dried and fresh) to sweeten my foods.
L. The amount of animal protein in my diet (meat and dairy) is:
  1. greater than 40% of my total intake.
  2. 30 to 40% of my intake.
  3. 20 to 30% of my intake.
  4. 10 to 20% of my intake.
  5. less than 10 % of my intake.
M.  I eat simple or refined carbohydrates (bread, cereal, potatoes, pasta, products made with white flour)
  1. for every meal.
  2. twice a day.
  3. once a day.
  4. rarely; I eat whole grains at each meal instead.
  5. never; I have 1 cup of whole grains for the entire day.
N. I use nuts and seeds
  1. rarely; they aren't really a food group.
  2. as a treat: roasted and salted.
  3. occasionally as an additional protein or fat source.
  4. several times a week in moderation.
  5. daily in quantities of 1-2 ounces.
O. The number of fruits I eat per day is:
  1. less than 1; I only eat fruit a couple of times per week.
  2. 1 or 2 servings.
  3. 3 servings.
  4. 4 servings.
  5. 5 or 6 servings.
P. The vegetables in my diet
  1. are in the form of french fries, or baked/mashed potatoes.
  2. include a side salad and/or cooked vegetable with dinner.
  3. amount to 2 or 3 servings per day.
  4. are a priority; I eat 4-6 servings per day.
  5. equal 7 or 8 servings and constitute about 50% of my diet.
Q. I eat beans and legumes (split peas, lentils, etc.)
  1. only when I can't avoid it.
  2. less than once a week.
  3. one to 3 times a week.
  4. 4 to 6 times a week.
  5. every day.
R. I incorporate sprouts into my meals
  1. if I'm rabbit (in other words, never).
  2. when someone sneaks them into my salad (meaning less than once a month).
  3. occasionally, but not as an integral part of my lifestyle.
  4. a couple of times a week.
  5. at least 3 to 4 times per week.
S. Fermented or cultured foods like kefir, raw sauerkraut and sourdough
  1. should be put in the garbage disposal.
  2. are a delicacy I eat once or twice a year.
  3. are health foods I have used once or twice a month.
  4. are part of my plan once a week.
  5. are foods I eat several times per week.
T. The amount of raw food I consume
  1. is negligible; food should be cooked unless you are a rodent.
  2. amounts to about 1 serving per day.
  3. is 10 to 25% of my diet.
  4. is 25 to 50 % of my diet.
  5. is greater than 50% of my diet.
Now score yourself:
85 to100 points - A,  Top of the Class; you've got life-saving habits!
69 to 84 points - B,  Good work! Keep making those improvements
53 to 68 points - C, There are definitely some areas to address
36 to 52 points - D, Your health is in jeopardy, start making changes now
20 to 35 points - F, If you don't do it, no one else CAN!

To your health and happiness,

Friday, October 21, 2011

Beneficial Beverages

For the athlete, here's  an alternative to commercial electrolyte drinks. For the dairy lover, I offer an uncommon grain milk.

The primary benefit of this refreshing, sweet drink is its anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger reduces swelling from injuries, arthritis and even PMS bloating. Lemon replaces lost potassium. The beverage hydrates, provides quick carbohydrate nourishment and alkalizes.

1 whole lemon, unpeeled
1 apple, any variety
1" ginger root, grated (more if you like more kick)
4 c. water

Wash and quarter the lemon. Wash, core, and quarter the apple. Combine all ingredients in a high-powered blender. Blend 30 seconds. Strain through a wire-strainer. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Makes 1 quart.

Barley Milk
More nutritious (although less sweet) than other grain milks, barley milk contributes calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and amino acids to the diet. It is 15% protein and contains vitamins B, C, and E. It aids digestion and nourishes the kidneys.

2/3 c. whole or hulled barley (not pearled)
6 pitted dates
1/2 tsp. vanilla

Soak the barley for 12 hours in 2 or 3 cups of water. Drain and rinse. You may make the milk at this point, or sprout the grain for 24 hours before using. To sprout, leave in a sprouting tray, colander or strainer in a warm place out of direct sunlight. Rinse and drain every 8 hours. To make the milk, combine the prepared grain, 4 cups of water, and the dates and vanilla. Blend in a high-powered blender for 2 minutes. Strain through a nut-milk or nylon bag. Makes 1 quart

To your health and happiness,

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Super Seven Breakfast

Want something hot and comforting for a frosty, dark morning? This cooked cereal is full of goodness that will keep you going for hours.

1/3 c. Super Seven Mix (below)
1 c. water
1 Tb. cashew butter
1 apple, chopped
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tb. chia seeds
1 tsp. Ormus Supergreens or other powdered leafy greens, optional
dried cherries, currants or raisins
almond, soy or hemp milk

Simmer Super Seven mix in water over medium-low heat until water is absorbed, 20-30 minutes. Stir in nut butter, apple, cinnamon, chia, and supergreens if desired. Serve with dried fruit and milk.

Super Seven Mix
1 c. sesame seeds
1 c. raw sunflower seeds, hulled
1 c. oat groats
1 c. rye of wheat berries
1 c. pearled barley
1 c. millet
1 c. brown rice

Mix and store in an airtight container.

To your health and happiness,

Monday, October 17, 2011

Italian Marinated Vegetables

We had a neighborhood International Night (non-nutritarian) featuring Italy. While others made tortes, cakes, foccacia bread and meaty ravioli, I chose to showcase some simple vegetables.

1 head cauliflower, broken into florets
5 carrots, sliced
5 celery stalks, sliced
1 cucumber, slied
1 c. white vinegar
1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
1/4 c. agave nectar
1 Tb. Italian seasoning mix, below

Steam the cauliflower until just barely tender. Mix with remaining vegetables in a 2-quart container with a lid. Combine vinegars, nectar and seasoning mix. Pour over vegetables. Stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Serves 8

Italian Seasoning Mix
1 Tb. each of garlic powder, onion powder and parsley flakes
2 Tb. oregano
1 tsp. each of black pepper and dried basil
1/4 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. salt (optional)

Combine and store in an airtight container

To your health and happiness,

Saturday, October 15, 2011

I Want You To Carb-Load

I was staring in disbelief at my friend. Usually, when people ask me a question about how I eat, it's "Where do you get your protein?" But I had just been asked, "Where do you get your carbs?"

Granted, I had been sharing about my destructive eating habits of the past, noting that "carb-loading" was a particular weakness of mine. What I meant was that I would overeat simple carbohydrates - mostly baked goods made with flour and sugar...and hidden extracted fats. In the name of health, I created homemade graham crackers and wheat thins. In bursts of creativity, I invented cold cereals that could be made from my very own kitchen. I indulged in plenty of quick-rise whole wheat bread. I even made low-fat cookies, substituting honey for white sugar. The entire time I felt like I was Queen of Health.

I thought eating more complex carbohydrates meant substituting sweet potatoes for Russets and swapping brown rice for white rice. The epiphany came when I exchanged vegetables, fruits, beans and legumes for grains on the food pyramid. It was all about COLOR! So now, I carb-load on foods such as broccoli and collards!

How can that be? I answer with a question: What is fresh produce? Is it protein, carbohydrate, or fat? Most people have a hard time believing that there's much protein in a banana, and carrots certainly aren't fat, so that leaves just one alternative. Carbs. Complex carbs. Carbs loaded with fiber AND micronutrients: vitamins, minerals and health-insuring phytochemicals.

Actually, the truth is that fruits, vegetables and legumes contain a combination of protein, fat and carbohydrate. But it is an accurate generalization to say that all these whole foods except leafy greens are mostly carbohydrate. (The leafy greens are in reality nearly half protein.)

So go ahead and carb-load. Fill your plate completely...and have seconds. Don't stop eating those carbs. Our muscles and our brains are designed to run on carbohydrates. You can eat as many raw vegetables as you like and never feel guilty.

To your health and happiness,

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Nutrition Quiz

How savvy are you when it comes to nutrients and calories? Test your knowledge of nutritarian principles. Information comes from Joel Fuhrman's Eat to Live.

1. The graph on the left  represents:
    a. grains
    b. legumes
    c. vegetables

2. We feel full when
    a. our stomach reaches a certain volume
    b. certain nutrient levels have been reached
    c. a given weight of food has been eaten.

3. How many calories is a "typical" side salad at a restaurant with 3 tablespoons of dressing?
   a. 100-200 calories
   b. 200-300 calories
   c. 300-400 calories
   d. more than 400 calories

4. The graph on the right represents:
    a. meat
    b. green vegetables
    c. legumes

5. Which is most fattening per ounce?
    a. Butter
    b. coconut oil
    c. olive oil

6. How does fiber benefit the body?
    a. Less risk of hemorrhoids, constipation & varicose veins
    b. fewer hormonal imbalances and fewer food cravings
    c. Stronger immune system and more stable glucose levels

7. How many of the calories in a "typical" American diet come from produce, legumes & whole grains?
    a. 10%
    b. 25%
    c. 35%

8. How many of the calories in the "typical" American diet come from fiberless food?
    a. 25%
    b. 37%
    c. 50%

9. How many of the calories in the "typical" American diet come from processed carbs &  extracted oils?
    a. less than 40%
    b. 40-60%
    c. more than 60%

10. On average, how many of the calories in vegetables come from protein?
    a. less than 30%
    b. between 30% and 50%
    c. right around 50%

11. How do phytochemicals prevent cancer?
    a. By deactivating cancer-causing agents
    b. By repairing damaged cells and protecting undamaged cells
    c. By impeding duplication of cancer cells and inhibiting their spread

12. T or F:  Protein is formed through the effect of sunlight on green plants.

13. Which has more grams of protein in a 100-calorie serving?
    a. steak
    b. cheese
    c. broccoli

14. Where do the bulk of calories in steak and cheese come from?
    a. fat
    b. protein
    c. carbohydrate

15. What percentage of calories in 2% milk come from fat?
    a. 2%
    b. 17%
    c. 35%

16. In a 100-calorie serving, which contains more cholesterol?
    a. top sirloin beef
    b. skinless chicken breast
    c. pork tenderloin

17. Which gives you the best protection against cancer?
    a. bran
    b. fruits and vegetables
    c. nuts

18. Which provides the most usable calcium for your body?
    a. milk
    b. sesame seeds
    c. leafy greens

19. How many calories are added to a 100-calorie potato when you put 1 tablespoon of butter on it?
    a. 50 calories
    b. 75 calories
    c. 100 calories

20. Which has a greater percentage of protein?
    a. mother's milk
    b. banana
    c. neither; they are the same

21. Which is a good source of Omega 3's?
    a. walnuts
    b. barley
    c. salmon

22. How much protein do we really need per day?
    a. 40-50 grams
    b. 50-70 grams
    c. 70-90 grams

23. Signs of true physiological hunger (not cravings) are:
    a. headache and nausea
    b. irritability and weakness
    c. increased salivation and taste sensation

24. What is your chance of having artherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) if you are an American over 40?
    a. 55%
    b. 75%
    c. 95%

25. Which of the following are NOT in the top 15 triggers for migraine headaches?
    a. oranges and strawberries
    b. chocolate and sweets
    c. yeast and monosodium glutamate (MSG)

Answers: 1 b; 2 a & b; 3 c; 4 b; 5 c; 6 all of the above; 7 a; 8 a; 9 c; 10 c; 11 all of the above; 12 T; 13 c; 14 a; 15 c; 16 b; 17 b; 18 c; 19 c; 20 c; 21 all of the above; 22 a; 23 c; 24 c; 25 a

Thursday, October 6, 2011

"Sausage" Stuffed Squash

Mmm! Pair this with a fresh salad and you have the perfect meal for a chilly autumn evening. A simple recipe, it's easily expanded to feed a crowd.

For each serving:
1 c. chickpeas, cooked and drained
1 tsp. sausage seasoning (below)
1 stalk celery, chopped
1/4 of a yellow onion, chopped
1/2 of a green bell pepper, chopped
1/3 c. mushrooms, chopped
1/2 of a 5" diameter squash, any variety

Coarsely chop chickpeas in a food processor. Dry-fry them in a skillet over medium heat until they are toasty and golden. Sprinkle with seasoning, then add water by the tablespoon to the skillet until the chickpeas clump together like ground meat. Set aside while you steam-fry (saute in water) the next four ingredients until they are tender. Meanwhile, bake or microwave the squash, cut side down, in a covered baking dish filled with 1/8" water until squash is fork-tender. To assemble, mix chickpeas and sauteed vegetables. Spoon into squash and serve.

Sausage seasoning
1 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. sage
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. marjoram
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. cayenne (optional)
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
pinch salt

Blend in a coffee bean grinder and store in an airtight container. Makes 4 teaspoons.

To your health and happiness,

Monday, October 3, 2011

Confessions and Lessons

I'm not sure how it happened. I haven't eaten sugar for 9 months. I don't even want it. But on the counter, my son's edible model of an animal cell and all its components lay unattended. At first it was only a single Skittle, but then it was the leftover cake pieces, the icing, the licorice...they all leaped from their resting place into my open mouth. Oh horror! What was I doing?

But that wasn't the worst of it. I binged on nuts, too - unsoaked at that! What happened next was no surprise to anyone familiar with the lysine-arginine ratio of nuts and refined white sugar. The following morning, my mouth was a hotbed of raw canker sores, even on the underside of my tongue. Talking was painful, eating excruciating. Any further escapade into the land of sweets was out of the question. Even the natural fructose of whole fruits made my mouth burn. I was determined to eat only the best foods. I re-committed. Carefully I prepared a Hugh Maughn Gus salad. Oh, the torture! (Raw vegetables are not exactly smooth and creamy. Every bite scraped my inner cheeks, my gums, my tongue.) Good day for a fast, I thought. But the next day was no better. The scales showed I was losing weight. At 5'10" tall and a slim 140 lbs., weight loss is not particularly desirable. I succumbed to ibuprofen tablets and lysine supplements.

How long would this go on? Should I venture into the more soothing arena of Alfredo sauces, buttery mashed potatoes, and soft white bread? NO! Once was enough! How could I even consider it! I must persevere. Luckily, on the fourth day, I found a cure: a mouth rinse of rosemary-sage-mint tea used 3-4 times per day. Quickly the inflammation subsided, the rawness ceased, the burning extinguished. Aaaahhh! How grateful I was for my morning smoothie, my lunchtime salad and my dinner soup.

And I learned a few things:
  • Don't let spilled milk ruin the meal. I could have used my error to justify more errors. That would have only made things worse. Instead, I chose to pick up from where I was and move on. What happened was done, over, and behind me. The sores would be a reminder to make wise choices in the future.
  • Feed the need. By examining my eating habits over the previous week, I realized that I had not been giving myself sufficient nutrients and calories. My body was crying for more. So when an opportunity presented itself, I fell. If I had been adequately nourishing myself, filling the basic physical requirements, the treats on the counter would not have even been a temptation. For me, the lesson was to get back to basics, remember my 2 pounds of vegetables, 4 servings of fruit, cup of beans, wise use of grains and limited nut intake.
  • Weigh the pleasure against the skunk's stench. A story is told of a group of teenage boys who decided a midnight adventure of outhouse-tipping would be a gleeful caper - until one of them tripped over a skunk. The resulting odor was definitely NOT worth the fling. So it is with eating off the nutritarian menu. Are the consequences worth the risk?
Well, the silver lining of the whole story is that in my attempt to eat something soothing, I created a creamy bean soup, posted below. I hope you enjoy it - and never have a mouth full of cankers!

To your health and happiness,

Burrito Soup

Creamy and smooth like a roux-based soup, hearty and satisfying, this meal-in-a-bowl is 100% healthy!

2 Tb. water
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
1/2 c. sweet peppers, diced
1/4 c. onion, diced
1 c. refried beans (fat-free)
1 c. vegetable broth
1/2 c. brown or Mexican rice, cooked
1/2 c. pinto beans, cooked
1/2 tsp. chili powder
salt to taste (optional)
1 tomato, cubed
avocado and cilantro for garnish

Saute peppers and onion in water until tender. Stir in refried beans and broth until smooth. Add rice, pinto beans and seasonings. Simmer 3-4 minutes. Toss in tomato and heat through. Serve with avocado and cilantro. Serves 2

To your health and happiness,